Ready to settle in for some fall reading?
The success of Glee, the High School Musical franchise, Black Swan, and the like have undoubtedly inspired an uptake in arts-themed YA literature. Fine by me. Bunheads seems to be in the "there's more to life than tutus and toe shoes" vein. Fine by me, too. However, it would be nice to have some performing-arts oriented YA novels in which the main character...I don't know....finds some kind of balance and continues her studies? As much as I loved Revolution and Four Seasons, it would be great to have a character that doesn't have a nervous breakdown or chucks her studies because of the pressure and expectations (and don't get me wrong-those are awesome, awesome reads). Yes, this creates drama, and yes, kids who are in intense performing arts prep programs are under enormous pressure, but can we have...another perspective? Not to knock Bunheads (because I don't even know if this is the case--I'm just speculating), because I adore any novel with a performing arts theme (more, more! especially in adult fiction! circuses are cool, too!), so I can't wait to get my paws on this book and find out what Hannah loves more--a normal life or the stage? I have a hunch.
Drink, Slay, Love
OhNoNotAnotherTeenVampireNovel. Wait, wait, wait. Reviews are praising this as a clever take on the teen vampire rage. VOYA digs it: "This book will likely appeal to young horror fans who enjoy a snarkier, smarter, distinctly less sparkly brand of vampires." All I know is that a unicorn stabs her, which develops her conscience (before that, she quite enjoyed sucking people's blood). And the unicorn won't give up on her. Actually, the unicorn is a "were-unicorn." Yeah, I'm not sure how that works either. Gotta read the book.
The Last Musketeer
I'm fond of books that use a classic as a jumping-off point; if they're really good, they may inspire the reader to seek out the original text. School Library Journal seems to think so: "Full of jovial humor, narrow escapes, sorcery, and intrigue, this novel will likely generate interest in the classic."
Liesl and Po
I've heard some late Newbery excitement about this one. Lauren Oliver is well known to YA readers; Liesl and Po is her first foray into children's literature. Liesl is locked away by her mean stepmother in a bedroom attic. Po is the ghost who (that?) visits her. They get together with an alchemist's apprentice and have many adventures. That's pretty much what I know. Kirkus loves it so much, it should marry it: "wonderfully imaginative," "startingly moving," "wickedly funny," "quietly lyrical philosophical passages" and "laugh-out-loud broad comedy/farce." Publishers Weekly thinks it's pretty cool, too: "invigorating and hopeful." Nice. Very nice.
My Life as a Stuntboy
Janet Tashjian usually knocks it out of the ballpark every time she has a new book out; I wish her books received more attention. They are grade A and just the right size for reluctant middle school readers and boys who want funny realistic fiction. 12 year old Derek has been given what any 12 year old boy would deem a dream opportunity: the chance to be a stunt performer. (Yeah, OK.) There's shenanigans with his pet capuchin monkey, issues with schoolwork and a suddenly jealous best friend, and parents that tend to turn everything into a "teachable moment." Kirkus praised this "fun, emotionally resonant" companion to My Life as a Book (which I loved).
National Geographic Kids Beginner World's Atlas
We needed a new atlas (each branch is receiving a copy). Yes, there are excellent databases and apps (I bought a nifty atlas app from National Geographic myself just yesterday), but I think there's still a need for print atlases and map skills. National Geographic Kids' books are excellent, so I'm confident that this will be a worthwhile and attractive atlas.
Secrets at Sea
People, what is the deal with mice novels this year? Richard Peck's first animal fantasy is centered around a mice family living with an upper crust family determined to make a splendid match for their eldest daughter (looks like it's set during the Victorian times?). School Library Journal calls it "fast paced", while Publishers Weekly praises its "dry wit."
Swirl By Swirl: Spirals in Nature
I adore Dark Emperor of the Night, so I'm anxious to read Joyce Sidman's newest collection of poems. One of a kind.
Treasury of Greek Mythology
Donna Jo Napoli's Greek mythology book is receiving tremendous acclaim. School Library Journal recently hailed it: "Wise, witty, and thoroughly entrancing."
Under the Mesquite
I'm thrilled to see more Latino-oriented YA novels (would like to see more YA novels set outside of Texas, but since I'm guessing that's where many of these authors live or grew up, it's understandable). When her mother is diagnosed with cancer, Lupita must take on more responsibility for childcare and household chores. Although I don't particularly care for novels in verse, this one will probably make sense because Lupita is an aspiring poet. This debut novel is receiving lovely praise for its depiction of an immigrant family.
It's still tooooo soon to blog about Thanksgiving and Christmas books; that will come later!