Tag Archives: 2014 Morris/Nonfiction Challenge

YALSA Morris/Nonfiction Challenge Check-in #5

18 Jan

I have finished!  This week I read my last two books for the YALSA Morris/Nonfiction Challenge. First, I read


The title worried me.When I first picked up  Sex and Violence  by Carrie Mesrobian, I was worried it would full of sex and violence.But it is really all about the aftermath. Funny and heartbreaking, the story tells the story of Evan’s recovery after a beating, which he received for being with a girl. I found him hard to like at first, but,as he recovers, you understand him and see him grow. As does his father.

Today, I finished Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross, which is set in Belle Epoque Paris.


I saved this one for the end because the setting was very attractive to me.Interesting, since the book is about beauty. What it is, what it isn’t and the power that comes with having, or not having it.
Both books have flawed protagonists. But none of us are perfect either, are we?

YALSA Morris/Nonfiction Challenge Check-in #4

11 Jan

Last summer, I listened to  Neal Bascomb’s  Hunting Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors and  a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World’s Most Notorious Nazi. I was a little leery when I first saw that a YA version had been published under the title The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World’s Most Notorious Nazi.


I was prepared to be disappointed because I have serious doubts about reformatted books as a matter of principle. I always, skeptically, imagine it is a marketing ploy and a money grab. I can be a bit of a cynic at times.

I was pleasantly surprised that the book, definitely a scaled back version of the original, is still excellent. It is eminently readable and maintains the energy and tension of the original. Having read Bascomb’s 2009 book, I had some background knowledge that helped me as I read this book. For readers coming to The Nazi Hunters first, the details that were “left out” of this version do not detract. really, it is a matter of the amount of detail in each book. I think adults would enjoy this work of narrative nonfiction, especially if reading nonfiction is not part of their regular practice.

In reading  The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World’s Most Notorious Nazi,  I have read all of the nonfiction books. All are excellent and I think I will keep my decision about which should win the award until I’ve finished the Morris nominees, too. In my last post before the announcement f the winners, I  declare my thoughts about which books deserve to win both awards.

I also finished Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn this week.


Strange is a good word to have in the title. It took me a few chapters to get a real sense of this book and I questioned its presence on the list of Morris nominees. Real clarity doesn’t even come until the very end, at which point you want to say “WOW!”. Having said that, I won;t go into a lot of plot details because it would ruin the impact of the ending. Let me just say that the mind is a strange place. While reading this I had flashbacks to my time in Denmark where I convinced myself that I was  a jinx. I am quite serious. I loved the first host daily I lived with and didn’t want to move to my second home. Just before I did so, the second family’s daughter fainted at work, suffered a brain hemorrhage and died. Just after I moved in, my host dad was shot in a hunting accident and nearly died. Somehow my brain convinced me that it was all my fault.

Andrew Winston Winters, the main character of Charm & Strange, is struggling with his sanity. Over the course of one night, while stuck at a party deep in the New England woods, Andrew battles both the pain of his past and the isolation of his present. Slowly, we come to see is life, understand his struggle and see what the mind does to understand incomprehensible events.

if you start this book and get frustrated or confused, I highly encourage you to persevere.

YALSA Morris/Nonfiction Challenge Check-in #3

4 Jan

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I transitioned from nonfiction to fiction this week. I still have 1 more NF book to go, but I am still waiting for it to be processed by the library.

The President Has Been Shot! The Assassination of John F. Kennedy by James L. Swanson  gives the back story on both the target as well as the assassin, then follows the order of events to the finite detail and then the conclusion and epilogue to the story. It is a fast-paced read, full of photos and illustrations that help the reader understand what happened. Swanson is unapologetically a believer in the “long gunman” theory, but adds a section about conspiracy theories. If you think you know a lot about JFK’s assassination, you should read this, because I suspect you will learn even more.

Dr. Birds’s Advice for Sad Poet’s by Evan Roskos tell the story of Walt Whitman loving, tree-hugging James Whitman. James is struggling with anxiety and depression. In telling us of his claustrophobic life, James writes verse in Whitman’s style, hugs trees to maintain his sanity, and talks to an imaginary pigeon therapist. He is looking for help, a way out,  information to explain why his sister was kicked out of the house and expelled from school, but no one seems willing to talk to him.  This could be a very dark book, and it is at times, but there is a thread of humor throughout. The book doesn’t have a happy ending, but it has a realistic ending, which I think is far more important.

Reading Challenge Season has opened.

9 Dec

The YALSA 2014 Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge begins today. I am challenging myself to read the title on both lists, ten titles total. I have a couple on hand already and the rest are on hold at the library. I ‘ve been knitting like a fiend and have most of my holiday knitting done. I feel ready. 

First up:

Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design written by Chip Kidd, published by Workman Publishing Company.Go

This innovative book offers an introduction to the history and basic concepts of graphic design from one of the most successful designers working today. Using real world examples and rich visual aids, Kidd teaches readers how effective design can communicate ideas and messages, and he suggests ways to think critically about the design elements that infuse the media around us. Kidd invites readers to experiment with design themselves by ending the book with a series of 10 design challenges and offers a venue to share their work online.

I checked this book out of the library a few weeks ago and hadn’t managed to get around to it yet. Good thing. I had to read about on graphic design when I was getting my Master’s degree and think this might have been a better resource. I’ll let you know how it goes when I write a check-in on Saturday.

If you want to participate, or just want to learn more about the YALSA 2014 Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge, click here.

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