Monday, December 31, 2012

End of the Year Reading

Goodness, it's already the new year! Make that 28 days until the Youth Media Awards. While I am looking forward to the new year of reading (ahem Sarah Dessen and Melina Marchetta) I still have a small mountain of reading to finish for 2012. Here's a terribly thrifty review list of what I managed to read recently. Happy New Year, Oops Readers!

Every Day by David Levithan
He pulled off what could have been a disaster. A little sci-fi, a little mystery, and chapters of great characters. This one made Patti's Mock Printz list and I would love to hear the discussion. It's still a distance from Stars and Verity for me, but dang, David Levithan is amazing. How does it do it all?

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead
I loved this book. I didn't burst into tears like I did for When You Reach Me, but I was with Georges the whole book. Reading as an adult, there aren't too many mysteries in middle grade stories, but they're not written for me so I overlook it.  Knowing that things are never what they seem in a Rebecca Stead book I still fell for this one hook, line, and sinker. The one about his mother I didn't even see coming. And I thought I had the title all figured out. Silly me.

One Year in Coal Harbor by Polly Horvath
A second Polly Horvath novel this year! A cause for celebration. A companion to Everything on a Waffle? Deliciously wonderful. Twelve year old Primrose continues to delight and we also have a return of chapter-ending recipes complete with our heroine's comments. I submit the final line of "Tater Tot Casserole", which, by the way, is in Primrose's charity cookbook entitled Just Throw Some Melted Butter on It and Call It a Day. :
On a cold rainy night when people are not participating in the better plan you have for them, this can be a comfort. (p. 116) 

Polly Horvath books are refreshingly strange. She makes you think with vocab like ersatz and adjudicator and references to Mary Oliver essays and French recipes. She's left of center with a big heart. And really, really funny.

A Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
Rowling is a bad ass. Case closed. A total departure from HP while also being completely great in its own right amazes and thrills me. She didn't have to write anything else, ever!, but she did and it is really good. The best book of the year? Nah. The most surprising? Probably.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan

Check another great Mock Printz book off the list. Margo Lanagan's stories embrace folklore, mythology (whether based on traditional tales or something she crafts herself), and fantastical imagery. And they've also given me some of the creepiest chills while reading.

I loved the movie The Secret of Roan Inish when I saw it back in college, so this summer when I heard about a Margo Lanagan selkie story I anticipated all kids of love. What would Lanagan add to the folktales?

My initial thought after finishing: this was pretty darn tame for a ML book.

I definitely found the weak-minded men leching after their stolen selkie brides creepy. I kept thinking that there has to be more to the story than the men leaving human women behind for these brides. Albeit brides given to them by a scheming witch. Still, a rather tame witch as witches come.

So where's the catch? These men must have repercussions for keeping their wives. I want justice for all the girls and women! But then, are the men bad? Am I starting to feel sorry for them? Might that be a glimmer of devistation on the horizon? Because that would be Lanagan style. Gently slip those chills in there.

I knew the brides would find their way back to the sea, but how and would it be terrible? By this far into the book readers will piece together potential for what may come. Brides makes for another excellent example of a storyline revealing itself in bits and making the reader stretch her mind back to previous names and details. When the revelations unfold, whoa. Chills! Thank you, author!

The verdict? I still have Verity and Stars on top of my list. I'm in the midst of a detour (Alice Munro's Dear Life) and then I'll dive into Every Day. A great list of reading so far!