It's been a while since the last edition of my Reviews that Made Me Want the Book feature. Which means that I have tons of reviews to share with you today. It's kind of ironic for me to take the time to list all of these books that I want to read, instead of just sitting down and reading one of them. But I do want to bring a bit of attention to the wonderful reviewers whose words have caught my eye this past month. I hope that some of you will find addition to your "to read" lists, too. Since I have a lot of books to highlight this time, I've grouped them by age range.
Melissa from Kidliterate reviewed David Whitley's The Midnight Charter this week. This book is actually on my shelves right now, but it came in unrequested, and Melissa is the one who has made me want to give it a look. She says to imagine a "world where everything costs, and I mean everything. It’s the sort of place where you can sell your own child to buy medicine for yourself, or even sell your own emotions for food and lodging." She concludes: "THE MIDNIGHT CHARTER does what all good speculative fiction does: it makes us examine our own world through the lens of another. This is a powerful debut, and one complicated enough to make both young adult and adult readers fall under its spell."
Bill and Karen from Literate Lives know their kid-friendly middle grade fiction. Karen recently reviewed Dying to Meet You: 43 Old Cemetery Road by Kate Klise. Karen says: "The premise of the story is that Seymour (young boy) and Olive (ghost) are living in a large run-down mansion by themselves... After enjoying this book so much, and having a few belly laughs along the way, I am so glad that Dying to Meet You is only the first time we will meet these quirky characters. I think the setting and the characters are ones that my students will want to come back and revisit time and time again as the series continues."
This one's not published in the US, so it may be hard to come by (that's what I get for reading UK-based blogs). But The Book Witch recently reviewed The Undrowned Child by Michelle Lovric, and caught my eye with "for anyone who might feel the need for something Harry Potterish after HP himself; look no further. And if you’re not, I still recommend reading this mermaid war drama set in Venice." It's set in Venice in 1899. She concludes: "Great adventure story! And don’t be put off by the mermaids. Anything less mermaidish I’ve not come across. It’s not cute; it’s exciting and different."
At The Reading Zone, Sarah Mulhern reviewed Gary Paulsen's latest book Notes from the Dog. I don't recall reading any of Paulsen's books (the outdoor survival stuff isn't really my thing). But Sarah says: "It is a must-read and a much-needed book. Breast cancer is so prevalent these days, yet there is very little of it in middle grade literature. When it is mentioned, it’s all-too-often in a “girl” book. Paulsen takes a decidedly female topic, which affects the entire family, and presents in it a book that will appeal to both genders... But don’t think this is a depressing book because it is about cancer. It’s also a funny book that will have you laughing at loud."
And sometimes a review makes me want to re-read a whole series of books. Darla from Books & Other Thoughts reminded me about Phyllis Whitney's juvenile mysteries with her recent review of Mystery of the Green Cat (which I don't think I ever read). Remembering this book, Darla says: "I found myself thinking about a mystery I'd read when I was ten or eleven that was set in San Francisco, and how it had such an evocative setting that things seemed familiar to me when I finally got to visit it in person, many years later." And really, any book that evokes a setting that strongly, and is a mystery to boot, is worth reading.
I always enjoy Charlotte's Timeslip Tuesday posts at Charlotte's Library. Last month she caught my attention with a review of The Battle for Duncragglin, by Andrew H. Vanderwal. Charlotte says: "I would have pounced on this as a child--time travel to medieval Scotland!--and, in fact, I was rather eager to read it as an adult... This is the sort of timeslip where the past provides a colorful theatre for action and adventure. It is more a book for the battle-lover, whose heart races when the arrows start to fly, than it is for the romantic daydreamer (ie me), who likes best the timeslip stories that focus on character and intricate world building."
Liz Burns from A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy is one of my most trusted sources of book reviews. She recently reviewed a book that I had had sitting on my nightstand for a couple of months, and inspired me to read it immediately. The book in question is Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles, about two teens from very different backgrounds who fall in love. Liz said: "This is an AMAZING romance. And H.O.T. There is heat, it is steamy, it is awesome... And yes...it's one of my favorite books of the year." She also noted that she had moved the book up in her own list because she was looking for books about people of color, and one of the teens is Mexican (see Alex, on the cover). This all sounded reasonable to me, and I ended up reading it in one sitting, and enjoying it tremendously. Review to follow, when I get a bit more caught up.
Liz also recently reviewed The Devil's Kiss by Sarwat Chadda. This book, about a modern-day British girl raised to be a Knight Templar, would probably not have caught my eye based on the description and cover alone. But Liz said: "So, in sum, my type of fun reading: strong female character, action, history, supernatural elements, fights, a little romance, angst, unanswered questions, devils, angels, vampires." So OK, it sounds worth a look.
Similarly, Abby (the) Librarian caught my attention by raving about a book that wouldn't have ordinarily caught my eye. She reviewed As You Wish by Jackson Pearce, about a girl who falls for the genie who is going to disappear as soon as he's granted her three wishes. Abby said: "I was just whisked into the story from the very start. Jackson Pearce's writing is funny and snappy and I just didn't want to put the book down. Pearce creates characters you love to love. Viola's got a problem that most kids have probably dealt with at some point in their lives - something changes and BAM! you have no idea where you fit in with the world."
Sometimes a book is on my radar anyway, but I don't officially add it to my list until someone I trust gives it the thumbs up. That's the case with Scott Westerfeld's upcoming title Leviathan. Tasha Saecker reviewed it last month at Kids Lit. She said "Gorgeously imagined and written with a flair for battle and a sense of wonder, this book is a winner. The pacing is fast, the action whirling, and the history deftly placed so that even teens and youth unaware of World War I’s basic timeline will understand the implications and importance of what they are witnessing in this alternate history."
How could I resist a review that starts: "Been looking for a mystery starring a grade 9 nerdy guy / wannabe P.I. who is pretty clueless with the ladies, loves cooking class and who is crazy enough to start investigating some of the coolest kids in school? Look no further than Susan Juby's Getting the Girl: A Guide to Private Investigation, Surveillance and Cookery." Read the rest of the review, from Shelf Elf, at Guys Lit Wire.
Another of my most trusted sources for book recommendations is Lenore from Presenting Lenore. Lenore recently highlighted an upcoming adult title that sounds intriguing: The Broken Teaglass by Emily Arsenault. Here's a bit from the publisher's description: "The dusty files of a venerable dictionary publisher . . . a hidden cache of coded clues . . . a story written by a phantom author . . . an unsolved murder in a gritty urban park–all collide memorably in Emily Arsenault’s magnificent debut, at once a teasing literary puzzle, an ingenious suspense novel, and an exploration of definitions: of words, of who we are, and of the stories we choose to define us."
Sometimes a tagline does the trick, if it comes from the right person. Angie from Angieville recently reviewed Soulless by Gail Carriger. She said that it's "A novel of vampires, werewolves, and parasols." It's a Victorian romance novel set in a world where supernatural beings are "out and about and accepted in society". Angie says: "Fun, fun, fun. That is what this book is. I found myself completely won over by Alexia. And Lord Maccon. They're just so very thrown together and they are just so very much fun to be with. It was nice to read about a relationship full of tension and romance, but without an interfering third party or one party who persists in being intolerably stupid or thick about things."
And that's it for today. But I'm certain that there will be more reviews that make me want to read the book in the near future. Happy reading, all!