Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books, YA Novels

Sierra Blue

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Although Sierra Blue by Suzanne Morgan Williams (2023) is aimed at early young adults, it’s definitely appropriate for upper middle grade readers. It has fun and interesting magical realism. And a cool cover.

Magic’s best friend reveals her secret–she can see the auras of animals. To get away from the teasing she is sent to her aunt’s ranch the summer between 8th grade and 9th. There, because of her psychic ability, she pleads for the life of a race horse that would be put down. Magic and Sierra Blue bond, but of course, the horse isn’t hers.

Suzanne writes fiction and nonfiction. Read about her here and read about her other books here.

Posted in Award Winners, So Many Good Books, YA Novels

Where the World Ends

Where the World Ends (Flatiron Books, 2019) by Geraldine McCaughrean is an amazing historical novel of survival. It’s a 2020 Michael L Printz Honor book, a winner of the 2018 Carnegie Medal (published in the UK by Usborne in 2017) and is on many other lists.

Every summer, men and boys are put ashore on a remote sea stack to harvest birds, eggs, feathers, and oil. But this year, for Quill and his friends, no boat comes to get them. What does it mean that no one came? Is it the end of the world? And how can they survive the winter?

Right from the first line, “His mother gave him a new pair of socks, a puffin to eat on the voyage and a kiss on the cheek.,” we know we are in a different setting. You’ll meet John who has been hiding a secret and learn about all kinds of birds as Quill endures abandonment and struggles to survive.

Geraldine writes for children and adults–she’s one prolific author! Read about her here and check out all her books here.

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books, YA Novels

Orbiting Jupiter

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Need a good middle grade read? Easy. Read a book by Gary D. Schmidt (two-time Newbery Honor winner). Orbiting Jupiter (Clarion Books, 2015) was no exception. It’s labeled young adult, but the main character is in sixth grade. I think if it was published now, it probably would be labeled middle grade, although there are definitely tough topics.

Sixth-grader Jack and his family are taking in an eight-grader. They’ve been warned, Joseph tried to kill his teacher, and he has a 3-month old daughter he’s never met. But when Joseph comes, Rosie, the cow loves him. According to Jack, “You can tell all you need to know about someone from the way cows are around him.” Does that mean having Joseph in their lives is easy? No. But you’ll have to read it to see what happens.

This is such a heartfelt heart-breaking book–a mixtures of sadness and joy.

Read about Gary and his books here.

Posted in Award Winners, So Many Good Books, YA Novels

Learning not to drown.

Learning not to drown. (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2014) by Anna Shinoda is such a spooky good read. Gripping. Puzzling. Moving. Hard to put down.

You know right away that something bad has happened, but not what. The book is divided into THEN chapters and NOW chapters.

Seventeen-year-old Clare has let her memories of THEN cloud over and NOW she’s working on focusing on the good memories. But there’s a thing about skeletons in the closet–they won’t stay there.

I don’t want to say too much about this story of a great girl in a dysfunctional family, but her mother made me so angry.

The book was translated into German and received a German Academy of Literature for Children and Young Readers) Book of the Month Award in 2015. Anna doesn’t seem to be active on her website, but you can check it out here. (That may be because she’s married to musician/singer Mike Shinoda.)

Posted in So Many Good Books, YA Novels

My Imaginary Mary

My Imaginary Mary (HarperCollins, 2022) by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows is another fun romp through an imagined history.

Mary Shelley (teen author of Frankenstein) and Ada Lovelace (world’s first computer programmer) meet and discover they are both fae–magical people. When they team up and make a living breathing automaton, they go on the run from a mad scientist trying to figure out their secrets.

Of course in real life these two never meet, but don’t let what actually happened spoil your enjoyment of this story.

Read about Cynthia and discover her other books here. Ditto for Brodi here. Tritto for Jodi here. The best selling authors have their own team website where they share the following descriptions of their other books:

“MY LADY JANE is Jane Grey meets LadyHawke. (Or The Princess Bride.)” My recommendation here.
“MY PLAIN JANE is Jane Eyre meets Ghostbusters.
MY CALAMITY JANE is the Wild West meets Teen Wolf.
MY CONTRARY MARY is Reign (the TV show) meet The Princess Bride. (Or LadyHawke.) Again, same world as My Lady Jane.

A new book will be coming in 2024: “MY SALTY MARY will be Pirates of the Caribbean meets The Little Mermaid.”

I need to catch up on the ones I haven’t read.