November 2007


 As regular readers know, I’m busy reading tons of books for the cybils middle grade fiction panel. I’m taking a break from today’s reading to mark which of the Fantasy/Sci Fi nominees I’ve read (they’re the ones in italics). This list is from cybils.com. I’ve read just 19 of the 94, but there are lots on there that look great & I’d love to read them in the future!

100 Cupboards
written by N.D. Wilson
Random House
Buy from Amazon | Buy from Booksense (your local independent)

Alchemyst, The
written by Michael Scott
Random House/Delacorte Books for Young Readers
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Alfred Kropp: The Seal of Solomon
written by Rick Yancey
Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books
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Araminta Spookie 3: Frognapped
written by Angie Sage
HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books
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Betrayed: A House of Night Novel
written by PC Cast
St. Martin’s Griffin
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Billy Hooten: Owlboy
written by Tom Sniegoski
Random House/Yearling
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Black Book of Secrets, The
written by F.E. Higgins
Feiwel & Friends
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Book of a Thousand Days
written by Shannon Hale
Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books
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Call to Shakabaz, The
written by Amy Wachspress
Woza Books
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Chaos King, The
written by Laura Ruby
HarperCollins/Eos
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Children of the 23rd Century: The Secret of the Lost Planet
written by Mel Hogan
Athena Press Ltd (UK)
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Choices
written by Deborah Lynn Jacobs
Macmillan/Roaring Brook Press
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City of Bones
written by Cassandra Clare
Simon & Schuster/Margaret K. McElderry
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Cobra King Of Kathmandu, The
written by P. B. Kerr
Scholastic/Orchard Books
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Cupid
written by Julius Lester
Harcourt Children’s Books
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Darkwing
written by Kenneth Oppel
HarperCollins/Eos
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Defect
written by Will Weaver
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Dragon Slippers
written by Jessica Day George
Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books
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Dragonhaven
written by Robin McKinley
Penguin/Putnam Juvenile
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Dragon’s Keep
written by Janet Lee Carey
Harcourt Children’s Books
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Dreamquake
written by Elizabeth Knox
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Eclipse
written by Stephenie Meyer
Little, Brown Young Readers
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Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat
written by Lynne Jonell
Henry Holt and Co.
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Erec Rex: The Monsters of Otherness
written by Kaza Kingsley
Firelight Press
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Extras
written by Scott Westerfeld
Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse
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Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star
written by Brandon Mull
Shadow Mountain
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Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer
written by Laini Taylor
Penguin/Putnam Juvenile
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Fathom Five: The Unwritten Books
written by James Bow
Dundurn/Boardwalk Books
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First Light
written by Rebecca Stead
Random House/Wendy Lamb Books
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Flora Segunda
written by Ysabeau S. Wilce
Harcourt Children’s Books
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Fred & Anthony’s Escape from the Netherworld
written by Esile Arevamirp
Disney/Hyperion
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Ghost in Allie’s Pool, The
written by Sari Bodi
Brown Barn Books
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Giving Up the Ghost
written by Sheri Sinykin
Peachtree Publishers
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Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio, The
written by Lloyd Alexander
Henry Holt and Co
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Gray/Guardians
written by Kathy Porter
BookSurge Publishing
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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
written by J. K. Rowling
Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Books
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Hungry Ghosts
written by Sally Heinrich
Lothian Publishing (may be an imprint of Hachette Livre Australia)
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In the Serpent’s Coils (Hallowmere)
written by Tiffany Trent
Mirrorstone
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Incarceron
written by Catherine Fisher
Hachette Livre UK/Hodder Children’s Books (UK)
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Into the Wild
written by Sarah Beth Durst
Penguin/Razorbill
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Ironside: A Modern Faery’s Tale
written by Holly Black
Simon & Schuster/Margaret K. McElderry
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Jackie Tempo and the Emperor’s Seal
written by Suzanne M Litrel
iUniverse
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Jinx
written by Meg Cabot
HarperCollins
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Kendra Kandlestar and the Door to Unger
written by Lee E. Fodi
Brown Books Publishing Group
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Lady Friday (The Keys to the Kingdom)
written by Garth Nix
Scholastic Press
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Land of the Silver Apples, The
written by Nancy Farmer
Simon & Schuster/Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books
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Leven Thumps and the Eyes of the Want
written by Obert Skye
Shadow Mountain
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Little (Grrl) Lost
written by Charles de Lint
Penguin/Viking
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Magic and Other Misdemeanors (The Sisters Grimm)
written by Michael Buckley
Abrams/Amulet
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Marigold and the Feather of Hope
written by J. H. Sweet
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
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New Policeman, The
written by Kate Thompson
HarperCollins
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Night Tourist, The
written by Katherine Marsh
Disney/Hyperion
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Nightwalker: The Warlocks of Talverdin
written by K. V. Johansen
Orca Book Publishers
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Northlander (Tales of the Borderlands)
written by Meg Burden
Brown Barn Books
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Once Upon a Crime (The Sisters Grimm)
written by Michael Buckley
Abrams/Amulet
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Penguins of Doom, The (From the Desk of Septina Nash)
written by Greg R. Fishbone
Blooming Tree Press
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Platinum
written by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Random House/Delacorte Books for Young Readers
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Powers
written by Ursula K. Le Guin
Harcourt Children’s Books
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Prom Dates from Hell
written by Rosemary Clement-Moore
Random House/Delacorte Books for Young Readers
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Pyre
written by James McCann
Simply Read Books
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Quest for the Elfin Elixir
written by Ami Blackford
Red Cygnet Press
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Red Spikes
written by Margo Lanagan
Random House/Knopf Books for Young Readers
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Repossessed
written by A. M. Jenkins
HarperCollins
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Return to Zandria
written by Christine Norris
LBF Books/Lachesis Publishing
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Secret of Grim Hill, The
written by Linda DeMeulemeester
Lobster Press
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Secret Zoo, The
written by Bryan Chick
Second Wish Press
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Seeing Redd (The Looking Glass Wars)
written by Frank Beddor
Penguin/Dial
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Seems, The: The Glitch in Sleep
written by John Hulme
Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books
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Senrid
written by Sherwood Smith
YA Angst
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Sensitive
written by Nina Wright
Flux
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Seventh Chair, The
written by Ann Keffer
iUniverse
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Silenced, The
written by James Devita
HarperCollins/Eos
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Silver World
written by Cliff McNish
Lerner Publishing/Carolrhoda Books
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Skin Hunger
written by Kathleen Duey
Simon & Schuster/Atheneum
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Skulduggery Pleasant
written by Derek Landy
HarperCollins
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Standard Hero Behavior
written by John David Anderson
Houghton Mifflin/Clarion Books
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Swan Maiden, The
written by Heather Tomlinson
Henry Holt
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Tantalize
written by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Candlewick
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Tattoo
written by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Random House/Delacorte Books for Young Readers
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Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos
written by R. L. LaFevers
Houghton Mifflin
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Thief Queen’s Daughter, The
written by Elizabeth Haydon
Tor/Starscape
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Through the Eyes of a Raptor
written by Julie Hahnke
iUniverse
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Titan’s Curse, The
written by Rick Riordan
Disney/Miramax
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To Catch a Mermaid
written by Suzanne Selfors
Little, Brown Young Readers
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True Meaning of Smekday, The
written by Adam Rex
Disney/Hyperion
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Two Moon Princess
written by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban
Tanglewood Press
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Un Lun Dun
written by China Mieville
Random House/Del Rey
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Verdigris Deep (Well Witched in the U.S.)
written by Frances Hardinge
Macmillan Children’s Books (UK)
Buy from Amazon | Buy from Booksense (your local independent)

Warrior’s Daughter, The
written by Holly Bennett
Orca Book Publishers
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What-the-Dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy
written by Gregory Maguire
Candlewick
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Wicked Lovely
written by Melissa Marr
HarperCollins
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Wildwood Dancing
written by Juliet Marillier
Random House/Knopf Books for Young Readers
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Woolies and Worms
written by Stephen MacNeil
Cobblestone Publishing/Cricket Magazine Group
Buy from Amazon | Buy from Booksense (your local independent)

Worldweavers: Gift of the Unmage
written by Alma Alexander
HarperCollins/Eos
Buy from Amazon | Buy from Booksense (your local independent)

I’d like to mention a couple of new book blogs I’ve come across:

The Page Flipper has good book reviews that will probably come in helpful when holiday shopping!

The Compulsive Reader has book reviews, good book-related news and links. It’s only two weeks old and I’ve already found lots of interesting stuff! (I’m also mentioning this one for a contest–if you post about it by midnight Saturday you can win an ARC of Hacking Harvard, details on the blog–But I’d do so even if there wasn’t a contest going on!).

If you’re reading this, you probably like words. And you’re probably all for feeding hungry people, too, because, well, you have a heart. You can do both at once on FreeRice. It asks you vocab questions, and donates ten grains of rice to hungry people for each word you get right. It will also help you prep for standardised tests like the SAT! You might think it’s some sort of scam, but it really does work–they pay for the rice through advertisers. Go, check it out!

After Suzy’s seemingly perfect older sister, Rosie, dies in an accident, her family moves far across Australia to a different town, where they can start over. Suzy decides that this is her chance to be more what her parents want–more like Rosie. She ditches her old wardrobe, works hard at school, doesn’t get into any trouble, and surprisingly falls in with the popular crowd at her new school–a crowd very much unlike anyone she would have hung out with at her old school. These girls get good grades, do what their parents say, and are all even members of the virginity club. They want Suzy to join, too.

Only problem, is, she doesn’t exactly qualify. It was only once, but, well, that’s enough to lose you the virgin label. However, nobody at her new school knows that, so Suzy goes ahead and joins the virginity club, pledging to stay a virgin. However, it throws a wrench in her plans when her ex, Ryan, who knows firsthand that Suzy doesn’t qualify, shows up in her new town.

THE SECOND VIRGINITY OF SUZY GREEN is a funny, engaging, and touching story that readers will surely love. Sara Hantz is great at creating realistic, memorable characters, Suzy of course being the best of them. This novel is a first-person narrative told in Suzy’s great voice, very well done. This is Sara Hantz’s debut novel, and I look forward to reading her future work!

Four 1/2 Stars

…OR NOT? is definitely one of my favorite books read in recent memory. Cassie is such a completely real, entirely interesting, and very unique character! This book is made up of her journals, written in her fresh, original voice. Cassie’s a fourteen year old girl with opinions and beliefs that make her an outcast at school (ie, she is not a blindly patriotic evangelical Christian). She’s lots of things–a writer, a vegan, a thinker–but at school they’d rather just label her a terrorist (as we do in the post-9/11 world) and be done with it. At school, she’s harassed and taunted with epithets like “American Taliban slut,” especially after she refuses to sing ” Proud To Be An American” at school.

In a high school like Cassie’s fictional one, this book would probably be banned. Or maybe burned.

Cassie is a strong-willed, gutsy, and very likeable protagonist, with a distinct voice, one great character in a whole cast of them. Her story really draws readers in; it’s quite a lengthy book, but it certainly doesn’t drag on. It’s also a very relevant story today. Prejudiced people like those Cassie has to deal with are everywhere. I remember once in middle school getting in huge trouble for not saying the pledge of allegiance. I, however, am not as brave as Cassie; I’d like to have her courage, but, after that, I stood up and pretended to say it.

It’s a thought-provoking, extremely well-written first novel. Brian Mandabach’s debut is brilliant, and I am really looking forward to reading whatever this talented author writes next.

Five Stars

This is a fat girl book (not an ice skating book, as I for some reason thought upon reading the title). I’ve got to say that right off. We’ve all read them; the main character is a fat girl who is usually also a loser and often becomes happier after she loses weight.

GO FIGURE isn’t that cliche. Yeah, Ryan is a fat girl, and, yeah, that’s part of who she is that she isn’t entirely comfortable with. Her therapist tells her to embrace her fat, which she and I both think sounds kind of gross, but whatever.

Ryan wants to lose weight, but the fat girl isn’t all she is. Another thing that, to the people in her town, defines her is her ex-boyfriend, former high school nerd and current rock star on the cover of Rolling Stone. Ryan’s also a talented photographer. And she sits at the popular table at lunch. So right there, Ryan breaks that fat girl cliche.

I love how Ryan, while insecure about her weight, is seen as more than the fat girl here. The book that kept coming to mind as this book’s complete opposite was HUGE by Sasha Paley, which had flat and fat characters who were suddenly happier after they lost weight at fat camp. So ridiculoulsly and stupidly cliche! Jo Edwards avoids that, and does it beautifully. The lesson Ryan learns isn’t that it’s better to be skinny; she learns more about accepting herself than anything, but this still didn’t feel like a “lesson” book to me.

Ryan is a fantastic character. She’s totally three-dimensional, and easy to relate to (for anyone who is insecure about her body in some way, which is, well, all of us). I love her voice, that elusive quality that only some authors are able to make real, but Edwards does it. Jo Edwards is a wonderful writer! I was seriously impressed by this book.

Five Stars

I don’t know how many of you have read SHEER BLISS by Frances O’Brien, but it’s a wonderful book, and now there’s a sequel! Well, sort of. It’s not all done yet, and Frances O’Brien is presenting it in a very unsual format. It’s serialized on her blog. I don’t know how I feel about that, really, but I am excited to get to read A VERY BRITISH SORT OF BLISS. You can check it out at her myspace page, and get a copy of SHEER BLISS on the Amazon page. I’ve pasted my review of SHEER BLISS, written for TRT, below, to refresh your memories:

SHEER BLISS is a ton of fun to read. I’ve noticed a trend in tween/teen books lately; a lot seem to be about life in the spotlight. Sometimes, they’re about teen celebrities. Other times, the main characters are, like Bliss Drew, famous because of who they’re related to. Another book I enjoyed about the daughter of a famous celebrity was My Life Starring Mum by Chloe Rayban; that one was quite enjoyable, and, coincidentally, the daughter’s name was Hollywood Bliss Winterman! Apparently, fictional celebrities love the name Bliss!

These inside-looks at Hollywood are always a lot of fun, and this one even more so than most. Besides her movie star mother Angel Drew, Bliss has another family member who loves to be in the spotlight: her grandmother, Ellen. When she becomes engaged to a much, much younger man named Enrique, Bliss’s grandmother, who has had pretty much every known cosmetic procedure to make her look younger, actually schedules a photo shoot at Bliss’s house to advertise her engagement!

In her family, Bliss is a little unusual. Far from craving the spotlight, Bliss goes out of her way to avoid it. She likes her privacy, which is unfortunate, as Angel Drew is her mother.

This love of privacy, among other things, can get Bliss into a little trouble. Her mother believes that what she needs to straighten her out is Moyra, a pricey “parent/teen consultant” who seems determined to ruin Bliss’s life. Bliss is sure she can get rid of what she feels is just one more in a long line of nannies–but Moyra is a lot more determined (and a lot more evil) than the rest!

On top of having a lot to deal with as the daughter of a celebrity, Bliss also has to handle the problems of a normal twelve-year-old girl. She doesn’t get along with the popular girls at school. Her best friend, Coco, has become super boy-crazy since she turned thirteen. And Bliss’s other best friend, J.K., is recovering from leukemia.

SHEER BLISS is a quick read, and a funny one. It’s real, entertaining, and told in Bliss’s fresh, realistic voice. It’s sure to be a hit with readers! I can’t wait to read the upcoming sequel, A VERY BRITISH SORT OF BLISS! 

Five Stars 

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