Welcome to the latest edition of my recurring Reviews that Made Me Want the Book feature. The name, while not catchy, should be self-explanatory. And clearly I should do these posts more often, because I have a mammoth 16 titles to talk about today.
First up, two teaser posts from Liz Burns at A Chair, A Fireplace, and Tea Cozy caught my eye. Liz, after all, is my Oprah (see this post at My Friend Amy for an explanation), so I take her recommendations seriously, even when she doesn't give a lot of detail. About Libba Bray's Going Bovine (due out in September), Liz said: "Dig your ARC out from BEA. Put it on your "must get" list for ALA. Add it to your orders for when it gets published in September. Yes, it is that good." She also talked about an upcoming dystopian title by Pam Bachorz called Candor. And really, dystopian fiction with Liz's seal of approval - that's all I need to know. I've already requested that one.
Another dystopian sort of title, apparently, is James Dashner's The Maze Runner, reviewed by Kiera Parrott at Library Voice. Kiera says: "I heard this book described as “Lord of the Flies meets The Hunger Games.” Sweet Jimminy! That pretty much bumped the ARC right on up to the top of my to-be-read pile. After plowing through the 374 page sci-fi/adventure/thriller in less than two days, I was not disappointed." I only skimmed the rest, because it sounded like a book that shouldn't be spoiled. This one is due out in October, and I'll be waiting.
I also like mysteries, and I'm frequently influenced by seeing new titles from authors that I've enjoyed before. So when Patti from Oops... Wrong Cookie reviewed Peter Abrahams' newest YA mystery, Reality Check, she didn't have to work very hard to convince me. (See my reviews of Down the Rabbit Hole and Behind the Curtain.) She concluded: "It makes for really thrilling page-turning reading. I love it when I come across a well written book for older teen boys." She also specifically mentioned the non-stock characters in the book. So I'll keep an eye out.
I'll accept gushing as a reason to read a book, if it's gushing by someone I rely upon. So when Franki Sibberson said: "UMBRELLA SUMMER was a wonderful read. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it! Lisa Graff has created another great middle grade novel", well, that was good enough for me.
The truth is that Jenny Han's book The Summer I Turned Pretty was already on my radar because I flat out adored her previous book, Shug. But then Pam Coughlan reviewed it at MotherReader, comparing it to other perfect summer books like The Penderwicks and Cicada Summer, and saying "I felt a particular connection to the story, having spent my childhood years at the New Jersey shore for weeks at a time." And Tasha Saecker reviewed it at Kids Lit, saying "I grew up in a resort area where I was one of the few kids who lived there year round. As someone who has deeply experienced the seasonal community, this book captures it down to its very core." So OK, OK.
100 Scope Notes gets my attention on a regular basis by coming up with the most creative reviews around. For Dinotrux, by Chris Gall, Travis did a courthouse scene (like reading a play), in which Mr. Scope Notes represents the young readers who are going to find the book "criminally appealing". His opening argument: "Dinotrux by Chris Gall (Dear Fish, There’s Nothing to Do on Mars) is so appealing to children, especially boys, that it constitutes an infringement on free will. Children will want to read this book. The premise that hybrid dinosaur/trucks used to rule the earth ignites curiosity, while the brief, expressive text all but demands repeat reading." Sounds hard to resist, doesn't it?
Travis also did a Toon Review of The Dunderheads by Paul Fleischman. Those are a bit harder to quote, but always fun. The gist seems to be that Travis calls in his crack team of reviewers to talk about the book, but they are interrupted by a dunderhead who is only interested in the location of the bar code on the book. But what caught my eye, really, was the remark: "it's one of the best looking picture books I've seen in '09", following a Mysterious Benedict Society comparison. I'm still not sure exactly what's going on, but I'm intrigued.
I'm putting Rebecca Stead's When You Reach Me on my list because of the double endorsement of Betsy Bird (who reviewed it at Fuse #8 and put it on her Newbery predictions list already) and Travis from Scope Notes (hmm... three recommendations from one source. Perhaps Travis is my Oprah). Travis said: "A combination of science fiction and realistic fiction, this unique, well-crafted, and mysterious book will likely grace as many Best of ‘09 lists as you can get your hands on, including mine." And it has time travel!
Melissa Wiley caught my attention with her recent review of the picture book Let's Do Nothing, by Tony Fucile. She said "I love it when a book actually makes me giggle out loud. Frankie’s expressions are priceless, especially when he’s being a giant redwood or the Empire State Building. Writer/illustrator Tony Fucile has a gift for visual punchline". But really, the "actually makes me giggle out loud" from Melissa was enough for me.
Another recommendation labeled giggle-worthy comes from Amanda at A Patchwork of Books. Amanda reviewed Sloppy Joe by Dave Keane, saying "How cute is this book?! I really adored the character of Joe and all his messiness, wanting only to hug and squeeze him when he gave being neat a go. The illustrations are great and the plot funny and definitely giggle-worthy!"
And one more title that evoked laughter out loud: A Book by Mordicai Gerstein, as reviewed by Tasha Saecker at Kids Lit. "Deeee-lightful! I found this book to be fresh, clever, surprising, and great fun... I guffawed out loud. Yes, guffawed. Truly. Children who know how books are supposed to work (which means almost everyone) will get the joke right away and love laughing along." (Incidentally, mentions of laughter in a book don't always make it catch my eye - the review has to be from someone I trust, and give me information about why the book is funny).
I'm not as tuned in to book covers as a lot of people are, but even my attention was caught by the cover of Confetti Girl by Diana Lopez. So when Abby (the) Librarian reviewed it during the 48 Hour Book Challenge, I checked in. Abby said: "I'd consider this an essential purchase that'll appeal to middle-grade girls, Latina or otherwise. I wouldn't hesitate to hand it to any fan of Just as Long as We're Together, Are You There, God, It's Me Margaret, Shug, and others of that girly-coming-of-age ilk. Um, and the cover has really cute socks!" Can't argue with that!
And, for a book with a similar title to the previous book, but a very different tone, Camille Powell from BookMoot piqued my interest when she reviewed Radiant Girl, a historical novel by Andrea White about the Chernobyl Disaster. It sounds like a bit of a difficult read, emotionally, but Camille said: "I liked this book so much. I admit I found myself mentally shouting, "Look out! Get out of there!" to the characters. This is a very moving story."
Abby (the) Librarian also reviewed Anything but Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin. I tend to keep an eye out for books that have protagonists on the autism spectrum. Abby compared this one to several others, and said: "While I enjoyed all the above mentioned books*, none of them put me into the heart of someone with autism quite like Anything But Typical. Jason knows he's different - he processes things differently, he thinks differently, he sees the world differently." She also said that people who liked The London Eye Mystery (which I loved) should pick this one up. And so I will.
I only highlighted one adult title this time around. I first saw a review by Charles L. P. Silet for John Hart's new book, The Last Child, in Mystery Scene Magazine. The very next day, Augusta Scattergood talked about the book, which she ordered immediately upon release. This dual recommendation caused me to formally add the book to my list. It's about a 13-year-old boy searching for his kidnapped sister, because his mother is a slave to her addictions, and his father isn't around. Sounds like a title for Kelly Herold's Crossover blog, doesn't it?
I had better get reading! Hope some of you find books that catch your eye from the above titles.