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.

Posted in So Many Good Books, YA Novels

The Enigma Game

If you like YA books set in World War II and haven’t read the award winning author Elizabeth Wein, you’re missing out. I just finished the wonderful The Enigma Game (‎Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2020). It was fascinating and I learned some new facts too.

Fifteen-year-old British Jamaican Louisa Adair wants to do something to fight the Nazis. Both her parents were killed in the War. But it’s hard simply finding a job. She finally gets one in Scotland, but how can taking care of an elderly German woman accomplish anything for the war efforts?

We also meet Ellen McEwen, a volunteer driver with the Royal Air Force, and Jamie Beaufort-Stuart, a flight leader for the 648 Squadron, and read about their struggles. The three get involved together because of an Enigma machine.

I love the elements of music in this book. And the fact that we meet some characters who often aren’t mentioned positively in books from the time period.

If you’ve read Code Name Verity, you’ve met Jamie before.

Read about the author here and check out her other books here.

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

The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog (Dutton Children’s Books, 2016) by Adam Gidwitz and illuminated* by Hatem Aly is a differently told medieval tale that was very fun.

“The king is ready for war.” Against three children and their dog. The setting is a French Inn where travelers gather to discuss the strange events. Each person knows a part of the tale. Along the way, we meet the peasant girl named Jeanne, the young monk named William, and the Jewish boy named Jacob. Each has a special gift: visions of the future, supernatural strength, and healing. And, of course, there’s Gwenforte the dog, who has come back to life.

*this term is explained in the book.

This book is a Newbery Honor Book and Winner of the Sydney Taylor Book Award.

Adam has also written the Grimm series (Tall Dark and Grimm is on Netflix), the Unicorn Rescue Series, and some Star Wars books. Check them out here. Read about Adam here.

Read about the fabulous illustrator Hatem here. See all the books he’s illustrated here and I enjoyed looking at his sketchbooks.

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

Two Books – Same Theme

As a kid I was horrified to learn about Nazi Germany and the holocaust. How could people think like that?! My naive self thought antisemitism would disappear. And, of course, so would Nazis. Unfortunately not. Here are two books to help middle grade and young adult readers with these topics. Both are told in multiple points of view.

Linked (Scholastic Press, 2021) by Gordon Korman deals with what happens when a student paints a swastika on the school walls. Meet Michael, Lincoln, and Dana all struggling with the aftermath in their quiet town. Who did it and why? (mg novel)

The Assignment (Ember, 2020) by Liza Wiemer starts out with the good intentions of a teacher wanting his students to understand how horrific the genocide of the Jews was, but his approach is wrong and two students–best friends Logan and Cade–take on the battle to get the assignment canceled. (YA novel)

Both stories have surprising twists and are thought provoking.

Gordon Korman is a many-times-published author. On his website this time, I learned his first book was published when he was fourteen!

The Assignment is Liza Wiermer’s second novel and has won numerous honors. Check it out here. Read about Lisa here.