Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Reminiscences from the Greats

And while I'm just throwing links up here...I just read the most wonderful article from Publisher's Weekly. Here are a handful of legends from the field of children's publishing reminiscing about how things used to be. What a delight!


The children's literature blogging community issues its own year-end awards and they announced them on Saturday. Here's some love from the Cybils.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lovely New Novels for Teen Girls

I always like to take a little breather from children's books right after all of our end of the year reviewing and awards build-up, but this year, since I went to ALA mid-winter, I picked up tons and tons of ARCs for great up-coming stuff and I haven't really had a break at all. Where's that hot 2008 adult novel I was going to read? Oh well. And I'm still far down on the waiting list for The Graveyard Book.

I've most recently read a trio of novels that will appeal to teen girls, and the next two on my pile will as well. The first is The Musician's Daughter, by Susanne Dunlap. Fifteen-year-old Theresa is the daughter of a violinist playing in the glamorous royal court of 18th century Vienna. When her father turns up murdered, Theresa is determined to find out more about his death, if not solve the mystery. But the social constraints of both her sex and her social position get in Theresa's way as she tries to move in various circles to get more information. Gypsies, musicians, courtiers, and even Haydn himself are all part of the wider mystery that grows more and more complicated the closer Theresa looks. The historical setting is uncommon for young adults novels and provides an in-depth look at the social class structure and the view of Romanies in the 18th century. The story is engaging with intrigue, romance, and music woven throughout. This is not a five-star novel, but it is definitely appealing and would be perfect to hand to fans of historical fiction.

Next, I read the fabulous Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side, by Beth Fantaskey. Jessica is so excited for her senior year and everything is going her way when Lucius, a vampire prince from Romania, shows up and tells her that she is really Antanasia, his betrothed vampire princess. Lucius is enrolled in her high school as an exchange student and lives with her family while he tries to convince Jessica to embrace her inheritance and join him in ruling the vampire clans. Jessica is rational, doesn't believe in vampires, and already has her sights on a guy - all of this is going to ruin her perfect senior year! What starts out as a hilarious fish out of water story soon becomes a dark and serious gothic tale perfect for readers who love OR hate Twilight. Jessica and Lucius are really well-rounded characters who really stay with you. This was a serious page-turner and I had to stay up until I finished it; it was absolutely delightful and the ending did not disappoint. I'm telling everyone about it right now.

Finally, I just finished the ARC for Deb Caletti's newest, The Secret Life of Prince Charming, due out in April. At first I was not in love with the premise of this newest; it seemed a little too much like a movie theme, kinda like the last one (but you see, I can't go into depth, because I don't want to give away the plot). However hokey the premise, Caletti's writing always conquers all. This, to me, was her most powerful novel. It's all about love and relationships and what women are willing to put up with for love. Like so many of her other novels, it's a multi-generational story and while the heroine is a teen; her mom, grandma, aunt, and the women who have been in her father's life are all multi-faceted, important characters. The story of Quinn and her journey to learn more about her charismatic father is interwoven with the life lessons and stories of all the women in her life and their disasters with love. It's heartbreaking and empowering and seems like a really important novel for teen girls to read. Finally, I love how misleading the title is - any girl would pick this up with totally the wrong idea about this as a "romance" and it will end up being something she really ought to read. Fantastic!

I've finally started Kristin Cashore's ARC for Fire, the prequel to Graceling, which will be released in October. I'll have more on that soon. And my eagerly awaited copy of Envy in the "Luxe" series by Anna Godbersen, also just came in, so I'll be very busy reading this weekend. Hurray!