Friday, March 16, 2012

Battle of the Kids Books - A Spectator's Commentary

Judge: Matt Phelan
Review Excerpt for Amelia Lost: "As I read the perfectly balanced alternating chapters detailing Amelia Earhart's life up to the last flight and the tense hours after she vanishes, I felt the book pulling me along, leading me on her journey and then placing me in the search." 
Review Excerpt for Anya's Ghost: "[Vera Brosgol's] drawing delivers everything you need to know, every beat, every mood. She doesn't merely draw, she acts with her brush. If that weren't enough (and in graphic novels, it actually isn't), Brosgol can write. Her dialogue is sharp and funny and is always in service of moving the story forward." 
Comments: Both of these books seem incredibly read-able to me. I wasn't so sure about Amelia Lost prior to this review though. I understand the importance of interactive books in today's reading climate - but do I, as an already avid reader that doesn't need to be tricked into it, need that? However, it seems like avoiding this book because of that would be like cutting off my nose to spite my face, or whatever that old saying is. 

Purchase Now from Amazon: Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart
Purchase Now from Amazon: Anya's Ghost

Judge: Gayle Forman
Review Excerpt from Bootleg: " much of Blumenthal's lively and often-funny book is about how everyday folk skirted Prohibitions strictures and how hifalutin folk didn't have to (during the height of Prohibition, upstairs at the White House was lousy with whiskey). Rule-breaking and hypocrisy? A glossary that includes terms like blind pig? What's not to love?"
Review Excerpt from Between Shades of Gray: "...a harrowing, page-turner of a novel that shines a light on a piece of history too long shrouded in the darkness." 
Comments: I want to read both of these! I've got the adult non-fiction novel Last Call sitting in the TBR pile on my nightstand. Pairing it up with the YA Bootleg might be a great activity. And Between Shades of Gray is a no-brainer, isn't it? Go read the full review - it sounds utterly fantastic. 

Purchase Now from Amazon: Between Shades of Gray

Review Excerpt from The Cheshire Cheese Cat: "Which is what brings [Skilley] to Ye Old Cheshire Cheese, a popular London inn frequented by, among other characters, Charles Dickens (who we learn from excerpts from his diary, is having a dickens of a time writing the first lines of A Tale of Two Cities.) Skilled parodies of his writing, scenes taken right out of Dickensian London, and even names taken from characters of his novels make The Cheshire Cheese Cat even more fun to read."
Review Excerpt from Chime: "But when we meet Briony, she is suffering a fate worse than death. She's drowning in guilt and self-loathing. She thinks she caused the flood that nearly destroyed her minister father's house. She believes she set fire to her family's library. She's sure she killed her beloved step-mother. Her self-imposed sentence for all these sins? A lifetime of caring for her screaming, damaged sister while remembering, always, to hate herself."
Comments: I have to admit that I had no inclination to pick these two up before I read the review and still have no inclination afterwards, through no fault of the reviewers. Perhaps I'm doing what no one is supposed to do and judging the books by their covers. But, I'm not a Dickens fan (I know, right?) and I'm not a fan of talking animals. And, I'm getting really tired of paranormal teen romance. Nothing about it gushes - unique! I've already read the ones I like and I'm ready to get out of this genre-rut. Maybe I just need some more convincing. 

Purchase Now from Amazon: Chime

Judge: Sara Zarr
Review Excerpt from Daughter of Smoke & Bone: "It's a book for lovers of lush language and exotic locales, a velvet sofa of a book, something you sink into. Karou is a compelling heroine and the stakes for her story are high."
Review Excerpt from Dead End in Norvelt: "The book has a lot of charm, true laugh-out-loud hilarity, and is full of enough historical detail and information to keep any teacher or librarian happy. And I'm sure boy readers especially appreciate the thorough descriptions of Jack's chronic nosebleeds and his dad's cool World War II stuff, not to mention how he manages to save a deer in one of the funniest scenes in the book."
Comments: Again, I'm kind of done with the paranormal teen romance, the star-crossed passionate, eyes met across a classroom love. And again, Daughter of Smoke & Bone, from this review, really doesn't scream UNIQUE at me. But Dead End in Norvelt sounds like a book I could really get behind. I'll have to add it to the list. 

Purchase Now from Amazon: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Purchase Now from Amazon: Dead End in


  1. Gosh, all of the BoB illustrations are just fantastic. And I hope you get a chance to read BSoG and Dead End! Both are pretty phenomenal. And I'm definitely with you on the paranormal romance - over it! Although... I am really a fan of Smoke and Bone.

  2. I am not a Dickens fan either (with the exception of A Tale of Two Cities which he is writing as a character in Cheese Cat). I also don't like talking animal stories but loved this one. And I don't do paranormal romance at all. I don't consider Chime to be one. There is a boy but the story is all about Briony and her struggles. The cover has to be the most deceitful cover ever. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is most definitely a paranormal romance.


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