Thoughts of award winners…

Last week or so, the Newbery and Caldecott winners were announced at the ALA convention. Having been a school librarian for 9 years (that’s a crazy statement) I have always followed these awards and checked out the books that won. Usually, not always, I don’t 100% love the books that they have chosen. This year was no exception. I am only going to focus on the Newbery in this post – because I have not had a chance yet to see the Caldecott winner and honors books in person.

Winner of the 2017 Newbery Award is The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill. I had the pleasure of reading this book, last year in November; I gave it 3 stars on Goodreads and as I said in my review, I liked it but I’m not standing on rooftops screaming for other people to read it. The honor books are Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan, Wolf Hollow written by Lauren Volk, The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog,.

Winner of the 2017 Caldecott Award is Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, illustrated and written by Javaka Steptoe. I have not had the pleasure of seeing this book yet, but I look forward to picking it up and checking it out! The Honor books are Leave Me Alone! illustrated and written by Vera Brosgol, Freedom in Congo Square, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, written by Carole Boston Weatherford, Du Iz Tak?, illustrated and written by Carson Ellis, and They All Saw a Cat, illustrated and written by Brendan Wenzel.

Over the years that I have been a librarian and actually paid attention to the Caldecott and Newbery winners, there haven’t been many that have blown me away. I am currently reading Wolf Hollow (which won an honor) and I will be picking up the other Newbery books soon. The last Newbery book that I read and loved was The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate which won in 2013. And honestly, I didn’t read it when it first came out – I waited until a couple years ago to read it. My favorite of the past years has been The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.  That book flies off my shelves when I book talk it – vs when I have tried to book talk other Newbery winners (I’m looking at you Moon Over Manifest).

Overall, I can’t say whether I’m happy or unhappy with the pick this year. It just wasn’t what I would have chosen. Some other middle grade book that I read that I thought should have won were Pax by Sarah Pennypacker, The Wild Robot by Peter Brown (do yourself a favor and go read that…just omg….) and Ms. Bixby’s Last Day by John David Anderson which is my favorite out of all three…. maybe… I don’t know… it’s hard to say.  But my point is there are other things I feel were better than The Girl Who Drank the Moon. Not saying it was a bad book, because it wasn’t, but it wasn’t my pick.

Ok, enough ranting for now. Enjoy and keep reading!!

Mary

Currently reading : Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

Goodreads

 

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Truthwitch Review

Good morning! Today I will be doing a review of Truthwitch by Susan Dennard.

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Summary from Goodreads:

In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she’s a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden – lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult’s true powers are hidden even from herself.

In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls’ heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

 

This was, and is, a much hyped book in the book community.  When this book was published in January 2016, everyone was reading it and talking about it. I held off, not that I don’t love fantasy books (which I do) but there were other things I wanted to read. I wanted to get this out of the public library, vs buying it, etc. So I saw it at my local public library recently and scooped it up!

First off, let me say I LOVED this book! All of the hype was right (which rarely happens) and it is worth picking up – even if you aren’t a big fan of fantasy. The female friendships found within this book are spot on. They are beautifully written, and very accurate as well. The romance isn’t ‘insta-love’ at all! It feels very authentically written from that aspect as well. The ‘bad people’ are not just automatically evil, there is some depth there which is refreshing. I like it when authors paint the bad guys with a brush that makes you feel as though you can understand why they are doing what they are doing.

The one downside to this book is the world building. Susan Dennard does a beautiful job of painting a picture of this world and all the pieces in it. However, there are so many pieces that it feels as though you get overwhelmed. There are a lot of players in this world, and while you know the main ones very well, there are others that you don’t get as much information on. I have not read the sequel yet (Windwitch) which came out in the past week or so – so perhaps some of those ‘minor’ characters will get fleshed out a little more.

Overall, I gave this a 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. One of the best fantasy YA novels I have read in a long time; and even though this isn’t Susan Dennard’s first book it had that feel of a new, undiscovered author to me. I loved it! Would highly recommend!

 

Mary

Goodreads

Currently reading – Home Again by Kristen Hannah

Reading Resolutions

Hello!

I had planned on posting this last week, but life got in the way so here we are on a Sunday 🙂

Today I’m going to share my Reading Resolutions for 2017 and what ‘goals’ I had for 2016 and what I completed or didn’t complete!

In 2016 I read over 185 books (according to Goodreads). I had wanted to read about 150 so I completed that goal. I did not finish 4 books – which I don’t think is that bad at all! When I was younger I felt that I “had to finish” a book if I started it. I am definitely OVER that feeling, thank goodness. Sometimes I will stop reading something because I’m not into it, or it’s just not my taste, etc. I do try to pick up some of them later on – in 2016 I did not finish Winger by Andrew Smith, and I think I will try to read that again at some point.

As far as different genres of what I read – it was all over! I did read a few graphic novels last year, which definitely helped boost my number of books read since they are generally very short and easy to fly through. But overall, I liked what I read. I read some AMAZING books, some eh books and only a couple OMG I hate this books.

For 2017 I am trying to read things that either scare me, or have on my Goodreads TBR for too long! I am also a victim of starting series and not finishing them (its sad when I think of how many series I have only read book 1). I want to read things that are outside my comfort zone. I want to read what everyone else is talking about. I also want to read what no one has ever mentioned before. I want to read more diversely, both in characters and authors. I want re-read some classics and catch up and read those books “you should have read” hahah.

I definitely have big plans for 2017! In my personal life, I will be starting my Master’s degree this year (probably in the summer) so I know that will affect my reading stats as well. And, I’m ok with that. I feel if the quality is good, quantity can take a back seat.

So I pose this question, if anyone is reading this haha – what are your 2017 Reading Resolutions? Do you agree with what I’m thinking? Disagree? What books do you feel you need to get to this year?

I can’t wait to see what everyone thinks!

Goodreads

Currently reading – Truthwitch by Susan Dennard.

Book Review – The Girls by Emma Cline

The Girls by Emma Cline

Published June 14th, 2016

This book has been on so many lists for 2016 and it’s been on my radar for a long time!  So when I was at the public library a couple of weeks ago, and I saw it, I jumped and grabbed it! The following is the summary from Goodreads

Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.

My initial thoughts when reading the summary was NOPE. Won’t like that, sounds weird, not something I can relate to, PASS.  Well, I’m thrilled that I didn’t pass on this book. I could have flown through it in a day! It is written very fast paced, and the writing style is very engaging. I won’t throw any spoilers into my review, but once I hit the last 75-100 pages I was racing to get to the end. There are some sex and drug references throughout, which might be disturbing to some people to read so be warned. However, I personally felt that it was all tastefully done and accurate to what I know of that time period and location. Emma Cline does a brilliant job of capturing the angsty teen-age girl mindset of wanting to be accepted but having zero clue how to do that. The relationship between Evie and her mom was a little unbelievable at times, but I suppose could have been possible. The ‘cult’members are written very well – and as an outsider you will see what they miss as characters and I personally loved that.

Was this the best fiction book I have ever read?? No. I say that, and I don’t personally feel that that takes away from the book at all. There were relationships that I felt weren’t very true to life, but I could also see where and why the author wrote them this way.

Would I recommend this book?  Overall, yes I would recommend this book. It is a fast-paced read with a somewhat unique plot. As I stated, it’s not the best fiction book I have ever read but if you pick this up, I don’t think you will be disappointed!

My rating: 3/5 stars.

**This review is my own personal, opinion**

Thoughts…

Welcome to my first real, actual post on my blog.. All of those things sound super scary! I have started, or restarted this, as a way to share my thoughts and feelings on books that I have read.  I read a lot, both for pleasure as well as for my job ( I work as a school librarian) so it seemed natural to me to want to share what I was reading. I do have a Good-reads account and I do book reviews on there, but I thought maybe this could reach a wider audience. We shall see how it goes!!

Reading Habits and other stuff… GO!  

What do you read? I will pretty much read anything… or at least try anything. I real a lot of young adult as well as middle grade. I also have a love affair with picture books! I do read some adult fiction and non fiction, and honestly my tastes are pretty much all over the board! I have certain genre’s I gravitate towards, fantasy, historical fiction, etc. But if someone recommends something to me, or I hear great things, I will try.

When do I read?  If you asked my boyfriend, he would say all the time!  Yes, that might be true but I do most of my reading during the evening.

Where do I get my books from?  A year or two ago, I would have said I bought almost everything and used the library very little. (Odd coming from a librarian) However, recently (the last 6 months or so) I have changed those habits. I made a resolution this year that I will only buy 5 books from January until June 2017. Which I honestly think is pretty decent!  The problem is – and maybe many people find this – I end up purchasing books and either hate them or never read them and they collect dust on my shelves. I am trying to only purchase things I have read and loved, or heard so many great things about I feel I’m guaranteed to love it!

I hope that gives you a peek into what I read and what kind of books I will be reviewing on this blog!

Currently reading: Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

Goodreads