I get so caught-up writing in-depth reviews that I end up ignoring most of the books I read here on the ol’ blog. And that’s a shame. I’m going to start trying to do roundups of brief reviews every couple of weeks. We’ll see how it goes!
Living Hell by Catherine Jinks – Take the goriest sci-fi flick you’ve ever seen and combine it with The Magic Schoolbus Travels Inside the Human Body. That’s this book. Awesome. Also, take a peek at that cover: tentacles and a kid with a katana! Yowza! (Review copy provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter.)
The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June by Robin Benway – You’ve read those books where a couple of sisters suddenly get superpowers, right? This one is different. This is what would actually happen. Distinctive characters with great voices, and a story that brings both the funny and the emotion. Robin Benway is pretty quickly becoming one of my YA favorites. (Review copy provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter.)
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan – Took me longer to warm up to Levithan’s Will Grayson, but I think that may have been intentional. By half way through, I was in love with almost every character. Tiny Cooper is a delight. Ending didn’t quite work for me, but it’s a small quibble with this amazing book. (Review copy provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter.)
Shakespeare Bats Cleanup by Ron Koertge – Baseball and poetry squashed together – it’s like he wrote it just for me! I was surprised by how moving I found this one. Really great, funny voice – I don’t see enough of these good ones for the teen boys on the younger side.
The Red Umbrella by Christina Gonzalez – I was excited about this one, especially after really enjoying The Firefly Letters, but it never grabbed me – this was particularly true of the later parts of the story that take place in Nebraska. I liked Lucia’s growth arc, but I didn’t quite believe it. Great story that didn’t have the depth I wanted from it. (Review copy provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter.)
Skim by Mariko Tamaki – This young lady was heartbreakingly real. Loved the art in this one – the best graphic novel I’ve read in a while.
The Annotated Cat: Under the Hats of Dr. Seuss and His Cats by Philip Nel – Wow wow wow! So much I didn’t know here. Sometimes it’s a bit much, and sometimes the connection to the text is pretty tenuous, but lots of cool stuff. Like this list of things Dr. Seuss thought were funny to children: “sounds, surprise, grotesque/incongruous, falling down (the mighty falling), absurdity, horseplay.” The Mighty Falling! That’s my band name, right there.
My Life with the Lincolns by Gayle Brandeis – Cute story of a girl who thinks her family are the Lincolns reincarnated, with a nice civil rights angle. But the author tried to stuff too much into the historical setting, and it all fell a little bit flat. (Review copy provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter.)
Meanwhile: Pick Any Path by Jason Shiga – This is going to be a hit with my library kids, but as someone who is a completist by nature I found it totally exhausting. It is IMPOSSIBLE to follow every storyline, and I get seriously frustrated when I can’t do that. Not for me, but does what it does well. (Review copy provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter.)
Notes From No Man’s Land: American Essays by Eula Biss – These essays pack a punch, particularly the first one that starts as a straightforward essay about telephone poles – until you hit a list of black men who were lynched off of telephone poles. It’s like hitting a wall. I think it’s really hard for most white people to look at their own life through the lens of racism in America, and most, quite frankly, choose not to. To make it public like this – Ms. Biss is a brave woman and a wonderful writer.
All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab – Much more intense than I expected it to be! This looked like it was going to be a generic spoiled-rich-kid mystery, and I’m glad I gave it a chance instead of writing it off. (Review copy provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter.)
Ashley Bryan: Words to My Life’s Song by Ashley Bryan – I had a lot of love for Ashley Bryan even before reading this beautiful autobiography. This man is a treasure, as is this book. Hard not to feel inspired to make art after finishing this.
This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer – Great end to this trilogy. I loved the perspective that Miranda gains from meeting Alex. These books always make me feel very, very lucky! (Review copy provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter.)
Ok, that was actually really fun – I might even do another one of these soon to catch up on more stuff I’ve read since Midwinter. I’m skipping the ones that I plan to review at length – more on those soon!