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YALSA’s 2016 Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge Check-in #3

3 Jan

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I’m rereading the Morris award finalists in reverse order: my favorite first, and working my way down to number 5. My logic is this: I have a favorite, but I need to give the other four an objective opportunity to convince me that they also deserve to be the winner. Reading them in this order, I will arrive in Boston with my #5 fresh in my brain and ready to discuss all five finalists well. I hope my strategy works.

I also managed to reread two nonfiction finalists this week, before I have to go back to work tomorrow . (It is a good thing I love my job!)

Symphony for the City

My first journey through Symphony for the City if the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad,  by M. T. Anderson, was via audiobook. This time through, with the hard copy in hand, I was able to enjoy the text along with the many photos included.

When I first heard that Margarita Engle’s Enchanted Air was a nonfiction finalist, I was a little surprised because, although it is a memoir, it is written in poetry. I love this bold move on the part of the committee!

Enchanted Air

I always talk to may students about the need to reread and a second reading of Enchanted Air,  was a real treat. If nonfiction isn’t your thing, this would be an excellent place to start.

I still have one more nonfiction book to go, and my hold is waiting for me to pick it up at the library this afternoon.

It is hard to believe that, in a week, I will be a in Boston and on a week and a day, we will know the winners. The 2016 Youth Media Awards will be announced at 8 a.m. Eastern time on Monday, January 11, 2016, during the ALA Midwinter Meeting & Exhibition in Boston. If you can’t make it to Boston, you can watch the presentation live HERE.

My summer reading program

17 Jun

The summer reading program is in full swing at my local library. I stopped by yesterday afternoon to pick up my holds. I was actually  on my way to the dentist for a check up, so I didn’t linger and browse the shelves, but the library was busy. Here are the things I picked up:

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The Skunk  written by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Patrick McDonnell Let me just say this: Waiting for Godot for the primary set. You should read this.   Unknown-1

Fifeen Dogs  by André Alexis. Publisher’s Summary: And so it begins: a bet between the gods Hermes and Apollo leads them to grant human consciousness and language to a group of dogs overnighting at a Toronto vet­erinary clinic. Suddenly capable of more complex thought, the pack is torn between those who resist the new ways of thinking, preferring the old ‘dog’ ways, and those who embrace the change. The gods watch from above as the dogs venture into their newly unfamiliar world, as they become divided among themselves, as each struggles with new thoughts and feelings. Wily Benjy moves from home to home, Prince becomes a poet, and Majnoun forges a relationship with a kind couple that stops even the Fates in their tracks. André Alexis’s contemporary take on the apologue offers an utterly compelling and affecting look at the beauty and perils of human consciousness. By turns meditative and devastating, charming and strange, Fifteen Dogs shows you can teach an old genre new tricks.   Unknown-2

Moonpenny Island by Tricia Springstubb. I’ve heard good buzz about this one. On Moonpenny Island, eleven-year-old Flor O’Dell experiences a series of life changes after her best friend’s sent away to a private school. And, finally… Unknown-3

Paper Things  by Jennifer Richard Jacobson. When forced to choose between staying with her guardian and being with her big brother, Ari chose her big brother. There’s just one problem—Gage doesn’t actually have a place to live. I have a pile of books to read and don’t know when I will get to these. Fortunately, I have two and a half months stretching out ahead of me.

2015 Hub Reading Challenge Check-In #7

29 Mar

It was a light week for the Hub reading Challenge, mostly because I finished 4 books for the Morris award. But I can’t tell you about those.

The only book I actually finished was The Young Elites  by Marie Lu. The first in a fantasy series.

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I have to be honest, if I weren’t reading it for the Challenge, I probably would have abandoned it. Lu has certainly created a rich fantasy world, and yet, it smacks a lot of the dystopian world she created in The Legend  series, which I liked more, though I didn’t love it.

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Both series have a disease. Both are narrated in alternating voices. Both have a characters on both sides of power and one of these characters goes over to the other side.

As much as I love things foreign and exotic, the names in this book drove me crazy. It is as though Lu sat down and asked her self, “What are the most pretentious sounding names I can think of for the characters in my new book?”

I’m reading All the Light We Cannot See now, a much better book. But more n that next Sunday.

2015 Hub Reading Challenge Check-In #6

22 Mar

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This week, I finished two books for the HUB reading Challenge. Quite frankly, with report cards to finish, I am amazed that I read any!

First, I read, the graphic novel  This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki.

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This was FANTASTIC! Here is the publisher’s summary:

Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It’s their getaway, their refuge. Rosie’s friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose’s mom and dad won’t stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. It’s a summer of secrets and sorrow and growing up, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.

This book felt so real. I could have been either of those girls, doing what they did, thinking like they thought. I think the Tamaki cousins really captured the essence of girls on the edge of adolescence.

Then, I read the book I’ve picked up & put down a lot this year.

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The earlier picking up & putting down did not involve any reading of this book. It involved me, picking up the book and thinking “UGH, a basketball book.” And putting it down. So, I finally opened it and read it. So not what I was expecting. I will be honest, I skimmed some of the basketball parts, but the story of the family really got me. As a twin, I loved the twin angle and I think Alexander really gets the complicated relationship twins can have. It isn’t always Hayley Mills in The Parent Trap. Written in verse, the book moves quickly. At first, I had a little trouble distinguishing which of the two boys was talking, but eventually, I got it.

I highly recommend both of these books.

2015 Hub Reading Challenge Check-In #5

15 Mar

I finished three books for the HUB Challenge this week. The first was a crime novel, Those Who Wish me Dead by Michael Koryta.

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 I don’t really read this genre, so, if not for the challenge, I would never have picked this one up. It is a fast-paced adventure about a boy, named Jace, who is a key witness to a murder. He is sent to hide in a wilderness skill camp for troubled boys, but the killers track him there. And, a wildfire is raging. This is total escapist literature and I liked it a lot more than I thought I would.

I also padded my list with two more graphic novels. I liked one, but not the other.

I really liked Ms. Marvel: No Normal  by G. Willow Wilson.

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Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City — until she’s suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. Holy smokes, a female muslim superhero! This was a really fun read.

Less fun and infinitely more creepy was Afterlife with Archie: Escape from Riverdale  by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla.

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This was a stretch for me because I don’t do creepy. Even the cover was too scary to look at. I whipped through it quickly trying not to look at the scary pictures. In a nutshell, Jughead’s dog dies. Sabrina the teenaged witch brings it back to life. All heck breaks loose. Not my cup of tea.

2015 Hub Reading Challenge Check-in #3

1 Mar

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Although I had a very busy week, I managed to finish three Alex Award winners. I didn’t love them all.

My least favorite was Wolf in White Van  by John Darnielle.

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This sad and dark novel tells the story of Sean Phillips who lives in isolation due to a disfiguring injury He runs a role plying game from his small apartment in Southern California. As the story unfolds we find out about the trial Sean faces following the death and serious injury of two player. This pulls us back to the moment of his own self-inflicted injury.

Yesterday, I finished Bingo’s Run by James A. Levine.

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Bingo Mwolo is small for his age and the greatest drug runner in the slums of Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya. When he witnesses a murder, he is hidden in an orphanage, where he discovers that life after drug running has just as many scams and tricksters as life in the slums.

My favorite Challenge book this week was  Define “Normal”  by Julie Anne Peters. about two girls–a “punk” and a “priss”–who find themselves facing each other in a peer-counseling program and discover that they have some surprising things in common.

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 All three of these had contemporary settings. I think my next read needs to be historical or fantastic.

2015 Hub Reading Challenge Check-in #1

15 Feb

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It was a busy week that saw me out almost every evening. UGH. So, I only finished one book for the Challenge. My goal during the 2015 Hub Reading Challenge is to read all the Alex Award winners, ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18. Since I can count the books I read for the Morris/Nonfiction Challenge towards this challenge,reading the Alex list will get me to the 25 required to “complete” the challenge. Everything else after that is icing on the cake.

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Confessions,  by Kanae Minato, is a book I really wouldn’t have read if not for the challenge. It is dark and shows the worst side of human nature. The prose seems simple and unadorned, but the story os very dark and twisted. It opens on the last day of school with a teacher proving a last lecture to her class, a class in which sit the two students responsible for her daughter’s murder. From there is spins out, explaining what happened, how the teacher takes her revenge, and the consequences of everyone’s actions. The story is narrated in different voices, each shedding more light on the events, adding new perspectives and horrifying the reader. It is not a horror story, just horrific to think people could treat each other so.

I am not a big reader of crime fiction, but if you enjoy it, this one is worth picking up.

YALSA’s 2015 Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge Check-In #5

11 Jan

This will be my last check-in on this thread. I have finished the Morris list and can’t comment on the nonfiction list because some of the titles are up for the CYBILS YA Nonfiction award.

It has been interesting reading the Morris list, knowing that I will be on the committee picking next year’s finalists!

So, with no further ado, here is the 2015 Morris list, in my order of preference:

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A sentimental favorite going in, The Story of Owen: Dragonslayer of Trondheim by E. K. Johnston never really left the top spot. I love the world Johnston created and the idea of a bard for a dragonslayer. The ending was unexpected.

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Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero came close to taking Owen’s spot because her voice was so believable.

 

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The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton ties with Len Vlahos’ The Scar Boys. 

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he Carnival at Bray  by Jessie Ann Foley was my least favorite of the five books mostly because of its slow build up to the last quarter of the book. That said, I highly recommend all these books of you are looking for a great YA novel.

2014 Hub Reading Challenge check-in #6

15 Mar

A bit of a slow reading week. I am madly trying to finish sweaters for an auction. They will be late, but I think that;s probably built into the plan.I managed 3 books, brining my total to 30 so far.

28. MIND MGMT V.1: The Manager by Matt Kindt  – A graphic novel I didn’t enjoy much.

29. Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina – A reread. I loved this as much the second time as I did the first. If you haven;t read it, please do. Don;t be put off by the title. It is all about a girl being bullied and definitely worth reading.

30. Zombie Baseball Breakdown by Paolo Bacigalupi -This was my big surprise of the week.

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I would never have chosen this book based on the cover. For me, it’s a turn real turn off. Thank goodness it was son the list because I’m really glad I read it. It is sort of Upton Sinclair’s Jungle  meets  Shaun of the Dead. It’s all about the meat-packing industry, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, illegal immigration. It’s a funny book tackling some serious issues. So, as with Yaqui Delgado, look past the cover and give it a try.

Coming Soon: The 2014 Hub Reading Challenge

29 Jan

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Get excited, YA lit enthusiasts! Now that the Youth Media Awards have been announced and the selected list committees are wrapping up their work, we are pleased to officially announce that the  2014 Hub Reading Challenge is almost here!

When? The 2014 Hub Reading Challenge will begin at 12:01AM EST on Monday, February 3. Once the challenge starts, you’ll have about four months (until 11:59pm on Sunday, June 22) to read as many of the following as you possibly can:

  • 2014 winner and honor books for  YALSA’S 6 Awards (Alex, Edwards, Morris, Nonfiction, Odyssey, Prinz)
  • The books on the Top Ten lists from YALSA’s 2014 Selected titles 
  • The YA titles honored by the 2014 Schneider family Award and the 2014 Stonewall Award

If you participated in the Morris/Nonfiction Challenge, you can count that reading toward your progress in The Hub Reading Challenge. Otherwise, only books that you both begin and finish within the challenge period count, so if you’ve read any of these titles before, you’ll have to re-read them to count them.

What? To complete the challenge, read or listen to 25 of the selected titles before the deadline. Everyone who completes the challenge will be invited to submit a reader response (which can be text, audio, video, graphics, or some combination) to his or her favorite (or least favorite!) challenge title, which will be published on THE HUB.. Additionally, everyone who completes the challenge will be entered into a random drawing to win a grand prize: a YALSA tote bag full of 2013 and 2014 YA lit titles! (If you’re a librarian or teacher, they’ll also toss in a couple of professional development titles.)

Not challenging enough, you say? For the speed readers out there, The Hub offers this: on top of completing the challenge, you can go on to conquer it by reading all of the eligible titles.

As you read, you’ll also be earning badges that you can post on your blog or website or include in your email signature to show off how well-read you are, and if you conquer the challenge by reading all of the eligible titles, you’ll earn a super-elite badge.

How? Keep track of what you read every week and how many titles you’ve finished. Every Sunday, the HUB will create a check-in post; comment on the post with what you’ve read or listened to that week (and what you thought of it!). If you’ve completed the challenge, fill out the form embedded in the post . The challenge runs on the honor system, so be good!

Format matters, because listening can be a very different experience from reading in print, so be sure to experience challenge-eligible titles in the format in which they were honored. For example, Scowler won the Odyssey Award, which recognizes outstanding audiobooks, so even if you’ve already enjoyed the print version, you’ll need to listen to the audiobook to count it for this challenge. Better Nate than Ever  won for print and for audio, so you can read and listen to it and it will count as 2 books.

Who? All readers of young adult literature — teachers, librarians, publishers, booksellers, bloggers, parents, teens, anyone! — are welcome to accept our reading challenge.

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