Thursday, January 21, 2010

Unsung YA: My Picks

Today over 40 book bloggers around the blogosphere are celebrating unsung YA – books that we love and think deserve more attention. The basic idea was to look at our LibraryThing accounts and feature those books which we rated 5 stars in the order of their obscurity. Keep in mind that I’ve only been reading and blogging YA books for the past 2 years, so all of my picks are recent.


NOTE: My top pick by obscurity is BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver, but it’s only obscure because it hasn’t been released yet, and once it IS released, I have a feeling it’s going to be super popular, so it’s not really right for this list.

So here we go…

Title: THIS BOOK ISN’T FAT, IT’S FABULOUS
Author: Nina Beck
Release date: Sept. 2008 (now in paperback)
Publisher: Point (Scholastic)
Genre: Chick-lit/Teen romance
One line summary: Manhattan rich kid Riley Swain, known for overusing the word fabulous (especially when describing herself), is sent to fat camp during Spring Break by her distant father and evil stepmother.
What I said then: “Before you dismiss this as yet another novel preaching the old mantra of loving yourself the way you are – too thin, too fat, too whatever – consider that Riley is one of the coolest characters I’ve come across in YA lit AND she has a romance at camp (with the headmistress’ son Eric no less) that is so authentically sweet it made me positively giddy (and trust me, that doesn’t happen often).” Full review.
What I loved the most: Riley’s character and voice, romance that didn’t make me barf, writing filled with humor and charm.

Title: EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL IN THE WORLD
Author: Lisa Levchuk
Release date: Oct. 2008
Publisher: FSG
Genre: Realistic fiction
One line summary: Edna’s mother has cancer which she is so unable to deal with that she is lured into an affair with her teacher.
What I said then: “I was blown away by this book, pure and simple. Debut Author Lisa Levchuk manages to capture perfectly the feeling of being a teen that has a mother with cancer (and I should know). Edna’s voice is so raw and honest while still managing to be witty and endearing. You want to give her a hug at the same time you want to shake her and make her come to her senses.” Full review + interview with author.
What I loved the most: Edna’s voice

Title: THE STOLEN ONE
Author: Suzanne Crowley
Release date: June 2009
Publisher: Greenwillow (HarperCollins)
Genre: Historical fiction
One line summary: Orphaned Kat goes to court and becomes a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I.
What I said then: “To say I was enthralled is an understatement. In fact, I wish it could have been even longer than its’ 416 pages because Kat was such an appealing character to hang out with – curious, bright, passionate, and unpredictable. I loved the vividly realized historical details of the court and fashions of the time.” Full review. Cover interview.
What I loved the most: Kat’s character, setting, supporting characters

Title: MY FAIR GODMOTHER
Author: Janette Rallison
Release date: Jan. 2009 (now in paperback)
Publisher: Walker Books (Bloomsbury)
Genre: Fantasy/Fairytale retellings
One line summary: A mediocre fairy godmother student gets assigned modern teen Savannah as an extra credit project and “accidently” sends her to the middle ages.
What I said then: “I loved Savannah’s character arc and her development from terminally clueless to pretty damn resourceful. Her wry observations on everything from wetsuits vs bikinis to hygiene in the middle ages had my face aching from smiling so much.” Full review.

What I loved the most: Savannah’s voice and character arc, humorous writing, inventive plot, fun supporting characters

Title: DUST OF 100 DOGS
Author: AS King
Release date: Feb. 2009
Publisher: Flux
Genre: Genre bending mix of historical fiction, realistic fiction, and fantasy
One line summary: Famous pirate Emer was cursed to live 100 dog lives before being born in the 20th century as Saffron who's life's goal is to get to Jamaica to dig up her long buried treasure.
What I said then: "... it delivered on its high concept, innovative premise (just absolutely not in the way I expected it to) with a rich story spanning four centuries and several continents and featuring two very well developed heroines (who ARE separate entities though they are mystically linked). In stories that alternate every few chapters, we follow Emer’s tumultuous childhood in Ireland and her evolution into a famed Caribbean pirate as well as Saffron’s own struggles in a downtrodden modern American family who has pinned all their hopes of a better life on her. It somehow manages to be epic and intimate at the same time." Full review and interview with character Saffron.
What I loved the most: innovative premise, writing, Emer's character

So these are my top 5 unsung YA from the past 2 years. To see other's lists, check out the master list at YAnnabe. And tell me, what YA books would you'd like to see get some lovin'?

48 comments:

Beth Kephart said...

Love this post. I've met A.S. at a few events and she's lovely—original and fierce.

Lori(Pure Imagination) said...

Great post! I read and loved Dust of 100 Dogs! I'm adding the rest to my TBR!

LovesSam said...

ohhh, this list is fab, and your right, I haven't heard of these books bar one, which is Before I Fall, which I am lucky enough to have read, and it is amazing!! made my top reads of 2009, Lauren is a complete star in the making <3 her

Jami said...

I have read the Stolen One and My Fair Godmother. Liked them too. I'll have to check out the other ones. Unsung YA is a great idea!

Alissa said...

The only one of these I've read is Dust of 100 Dogs, and I totally agree with you on that one. So, I'm going to have to check out these other unsung titles.

Kelly said...

Dust of 100 Dogs is the only one I've seen before...nice and obscure list, I'd say! I like how you quoted your review and added a little bit extra at the end from what really sticks in your mind looking back. :-)

So glad you're a part of the Unsung YA Heroes project!

Patti said...

It's been really fun checking out everyone's lists. It is so interesting to see how different they all are. Fun!

Becky said...

I love this idea. I haven't read any of these titles. I'll look out for them. Thanks.

Fyrefly said...

The Stolen One looks great! For as much as I love YA and historical fiction, I haven't read much YA historical fiction that isn't also historical fantasy.

Steph Su said...

I think you've definitely sold me on This Book Isn't Fat. I'll try to look for it the next time!

Milka said...

This book is not Fat, it's fabulous and my fairy godmother sound great!
I am going to get copy of Before I fall soon, can't wait to read it!

Keri Mikulski said...

Amazing post. :)

Adding to my TBR list.

bermudaonion said...

I haven't read any of those books, but I do have Before I Fall in my TBR pile and now I'm really excited about it.

A.S. King said...

I love this subject of unsung YA books. There are so many great books out there that don't get into the public eye.

Thanks so much for including D100D on your list, Lenore. You've been such a champion of the book, I really owe you a skyscraper or a herd of really cool dancing goats or something.

I'd like to join in this fun, even though I'm not a book blogger. I have five great unsung books in mind.

MichieBee said...

I actually want to read a few of those (some even more now, courtesy of this post.) Great picks! :)

Pam said...

Oh I haven't read any of these...and here I thought myself a pursuer of unsung YA.

A.S. King said...

Because I'm sick in bed, and won't get to my blog for a while, I hope you don't mind my listing five titles here, Lenore.

A.S. King's Unsung YA

*THE SKY ALWAYS HEARS ME AND THE HILLS DON'T MIND by Kirstin Cronn-Mills
*THE SHAPE OF WATER by Anne Spollen
*MY LIFE AS A RHOMBUS by Varian Johnson
*CRAZY BEAUTIFUL by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
*HOW TO BUY A LOVE OF READING by Tanya Egan Gibson

Lenore said...

Amy - How to Buy a Love of Reading is one of my favorite books!! Even though it has a teen main character, technically it's not YA.

Donna Gambale said...

Great choices, and I love this idea! I can't wait to check out the other posts.

Susie Sharp Librarian said...

Wow I haven't read any of those.Great list!

A.S. King said...

Oh. Interesting. When Tanya was launching, I saw it all over as a YA book. I thought it crossed over really well, too.

Lenore said...

Amy - Yeah, I guess her publicist sent it to a lot of YA bloggers because of its crossover appeal. It's one I definitely want to read again.

Meg said...

I'll be adding these to my TBR -- especially This Book Isn't Fat... -- sounds so great! Love sweet teen romances, too; they make me happy.

Alexa said...

I haven't read any of these but I'll definitely be looking for them especially The Stolen One. I love anything to do with the Tudors.

Staci said...

I like that you did a post of these books. I have My Fair Godmother just haven't gotten to it yet.

suzannecrowley said...

Thanks Lenore! I'm honored!

Nymeth said...

What a fantastic list. Everything Beautiful in the World in particular sounds like something I really ought to read.

Jenna said...

I love the list, and I will be adding a few to my TBR pile. This whole idea was awesome!

Emily said...

Oooooh I have almost all of these on my list! The only one I don't have is This Book Isn't Fat...and I'm not gonna lie, judged that book by it's cover. Now I'm interested!

Rebecca Herman said...

Nice picks, I loved The Stolen one but haven't read the others.

alitareads said...

I have The Stolen One on my shelf right now, and am very much looking forward to reading it! Great post!

Megan said...

I love characters that have vivid, realistic voices. Looks like you do, too! I'll definitely be checking out some of your picks!

Marie said...

Great post! I admit I don't know any of these books so I really appreciate your insights!

The1stdaughter said...

Great list! I've wanted to read The Stolen One for a while now, but keep forgetting! Back in my TBR pile for sure. Thanks so much!

Memory said...

I'm not at all surprised to see that D100D made your list!

llword said...

I'm putting "Everything Beautiful in the World" onto my wish list. :)

Debbie's World of Books said...

I've debated about The Stolen One. Guess I will have to move it up on the wish list!

Lana said...

Great list - definitely just added This Book isn't Fat to my TBR list and bumped The Stolen One up by about a mile!

valentina said...

I almost put the Dust of 100 dogs on my list, but decided that the others I mentioned were more obscure than this. Still, I'm glad you featured it. I had so much fun reading it. So.Much.Fun.

Anastasia said...

I'm gonna be another person that's interested most in DUST OF 100 DOGS. I love pirates, and this one sounds fascinating.

Bibliovore said...

Thanks for this, Lenore! I read This Book Isn't Fat It's Fabulous and Riley's awareness of her lush build and total confidence anyway was so refreshing after "Woe is me, I am a size ten!"

Most of the others are on my list, so I'm looking forward to them!

oO Mariana Oo said...

Those books look great, good titles, and nice covers too ^.^

Allie said...

I love the idea of reading a pirate book! Sounds like a fun read!

I love the cover of The Stolen One. I remember reading something about the design process for it months ago. It's really stunning.

Whitney said...

I haven't read any of these, but they all sound great!

Melissa Walker said...

Great list, Lenore. You are always so thoughtful in your reviews and choices--well done!

Callista said...

Great idea! I'd use LibraryThing more if I didn't have to pay. I use Good Reads which doesn't have an obscurity rating.

Some YA books I really loved that I haven't seen coverage for:

Red Rage by Brigitte Blobel
The Pact of the Wolves by Nina Blazon

Zibilee said...

I went and added a few of these titles to my wish list and ordered a sample of The Stolen One for my Kindle. I am glad that you posted this list. I have been unsure about getting into YA and needed a bit of direction and to have some of the chaff weeded out for me. Thanks!

Lorin said...

I love the way you wrote this list, Lenore. Great post!