Sunday, December 26, 2010

2010 Book Lists Pt. 3: Boy POV; Middle Grade; Something Different; Kick-Butt Girls

*Back to Introductory Post; Pt. 1; Pt. 2; Pt. 4; Pt. 5; Pt. 6; Pt. 7
*Books are linked to my reviews, if available. Otherwise, they're linked to Amazon. I have read all of these books and written reviews for most, but haven't posted many of them yet. As I do, I will update this page.


Male Narrator
-Give me a break from all the girly angst once in awhile.


Swim the Fly - Don Calame
Hilarious. Laugh until you cry. Call all your friends and read aloud excerpts because "they must hear this." Three boys have a summertime goal of seeing a girl naked for the first time. Meanwhile, Matt (the narrator) also set a goal to swim the 100-m fly to impress a girl (Kelly). The boys are anything buy studly. Three awkward, kind loser kids. The lengths to which they go in pursuit of their goal will have you in stitches. The book is also oddly poignant and ultimately has one of the best portrayals of a strong, sweet burgeoning relationship that I've read. (Amazon)

Beautiful Creatures and Beautiful Darkness - Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Ethan is entranced with the mysterious, dark new girl. Lena is a caster, a witch, who is on the cusp of discovering whether she is innately good or evil. Full of great side characters like Link, Macon, Amma, and Liv and a warm, slow, mysterious Southern Gothic setting. Ethan learns that his and Lena's worlds are more linked that he could have imagined as the series continues. (Amazon 1, Amazon 2)

White Cat - Holly Black
The White Cat world is just slightly altered from our own. Certain people are born with magic - to do good or evil. Cassel is the only non-magic person in a dysfunctional family of evil curseworkers. Cassel is arrogant, a loner, a minor con artist...but he's also brilliant and naturally a good person. (Amazon)

Incarceron - Catherine Fisher
Boy trapped in high-tech, evil prison. Girl trapped in stifling court society and undesired betrothal. Boy and girl connect. Can both escape their respective prisons? Told from alternating points of view. Mixture of dystopia, high fantasy, and science fiction. (Amazon)

Finnikin Of The Rock - Melina Marchetta
Finnikin was once the son of the chief palace guard, but ever since the coup, his father has been missing, and he has been in exile with the king's former advisor. A mysterious, mute young nun leads Finnikin on a journey back toward his homeland, fraught with danger. Extremely well-developed fantasy world. There's magic, political intrigue, and characters who unveil themselves slowly. (Amazon)

Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure - Allan Richard Shickman
Follow Zan as he journeys to find his lost brother. He finds adventure, friends, enemies, and danger with ever page. A fun read for young teens or tweens. (Amazon)

Will Grayson, Will Grayson - John Green and David Levithan
Two boys named Will Grayson meet one night and form a friendship. WG1 is the average kid in the shadow of his flamboyantly gay best friend, Tiny. WG2 is a gay teen who is so depressed that you spend much of the book wanting to give the kid a big hug. WG1, WG2, and Tiny become an interesting trio as Tiny puts on a school musical called Tiny Dancer. Lots of sarcasm, lots of boyish angst (I guess angst isn't unique to girls). (Amazon)

Operation Redwood - S. Terrell French
Julian Carter-Li has been abandoned by his mother and is stuck with his awful aunt and uncle. But Julian is a quiet, obedient boy...until he finds an email to his uncle from Robin, an irate girl protesting a plan to cut down some ancient redwood trees. Inspired by Robin and his friend Danny, Julian sneaks off to spend the summer with Robin and her family in rural northern California. Operation Redwood manages to entertain and teach the reader a whole lot about trees. (Amazon)

The Rise Of Renegade X - Chelsea Campbell
Damien is proud to be the son of a master villain. And then horrified to discover that he's the illegitimate son of a geeky super-hero. Now his actions will determine whether he becomes a villain or a hero. What seems like an easy choice towards villaindom at first becomes harder as he gets to know his hero family and discovers some disturbing things about his villain mom. Add to that a love triangle between cheating ex-girlfriend Kat and his new sidekick Sarah, and you have a really fun read. (Amazon)

The Cardturner - Louis Sachar
Alton's greedy mother "volunteers" him to help his rich uncle play bridge. His uncle is miserly and cranky on the surface, but Alton gradually sees a different man, brilliant and funny who has a bittersweet past. Alton even manages to find a cool girl friend in his family's mortal enemy. The Cardturner manages to teach the elementals of bridge in a non-boring way. (Amazon)

Middle Grade
-Good for both young and old


A Dog's Life - Ann M. Martin
Told from the perspective of a dog. Squirrel is born as a stray in a shed with her brother Bone. All too soon, she is alone traveling in a world that is often cruel to lonely dogs. Watch Squirrel as she goes through life encountering humans who can be nice, indifferent, ignorant, or just plain cruel. The book does not shirk from delving into the violent life of a stray dog. Will make you smile, cry, and sign up to volunteer at an animal shelter. (Amazon)

Theatre Shoes - Noel Streatfield
A companion to Ballet Shoes with new characters. Sorrel, Mark, and Holly go to live with their dramatic actress grandmother in London during WWII. The three children receive scholarships to attend Ms. Fidolia's Children's Academy for Dancing and Stage Training by the now successful characters of Ballet Shoes. Follow the kids as they learn to sing, act, and dance while also living with the deprivations and fear of World War II. A classic that all will enjoy. (Amazon)

The Magical Ms. Plum - Bonny Becker
A modern-day, whimsical Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. Ms. Plum, a third grade teacher, has a magical supply closet. She sends students to retrieve items such as paperclips or pens when they need to learn a lesson. They return with chatty parrots and tiny alligators that somehow reinforce whatever life lesson they are in need of. Great for late elementary readers or older readers who want something fun. (Amazon)

Everything For A Dog - Ann M. Martin
Companion to A Dog's Life; this book follow's Bone, Squirrel's brother. His life is difficult but less so than squirrel. Follow him as he lives with families and as a stray. The book is told from alternating points of view of Bone and Charlie and Henry, two little boys from different times. Great descriptions of rambunctious little boy games. Depressing at times reading about unhappy children, unhappy dogs, animal cruelty, and a child's death. But ultimately as satisfying as all good dog books are. (Amazon)

Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure - Allan Richard Shickman
Follow Zan as he journeys to find his lost brother. He finds adventure, friends, enemies, and danger with ever page. A fun read for young teens or tweens. (Amazon)

When You Reach Me - Rebecca Stead
An homage to A Wrinkle In Time set in 1970s New York City. Sixth grader Miranda's best friend has abandoned her. Her life is further complicated by her new friends, her mom's boyfriend who wants more involvement in the family, and a mysterious crazy homeless man on the corner. Then she begins receiving notes that ask her do to things and seemingly predict the future. What should she do with these notes? Why is she receiving them? Both complex and accessible to young readers, When You Reach Me is truly worthy of the Newbury Medal. (Amazon)

Wishing For Tomorrow - Hilary McKay
Revisit the world of A Little Princess and discover what happened to the students of Ms. Minchin's Academy after Sara Crewe left. Although narrated by Ermengarde, Sara's best friend, the most interest part of the book focuses on Lottie (the little girl), Lavinia (the snob), and Alice (the new maid). Lavinia especially manages to redeem herself and turn into more of a protagonist than an antagonist. The book's language is reminiscent of a fair tale and it fits right in with the magic of A Little Princess. (Amazon)

Out Of My Mind - Sharon M. Draper
11-year-old Melody is a genius, but trapped in a body crippled by cerebral palsey, no one knows it. She can’t walk or talk or do anything by herself. When she gets a machine that speaks for her, people are shocked at the things she can do...but do they believe it’s really her? Heartfelt, inspiring book. Really makes you think more about disabled children. (Amazon)

A Faraway Island - Annika Thor
Two Jewish refugee children are sent to live with a family in Sweden to escape Nazi Germany. The 8 year old girl adjusts quickly, but the 12 year old girl has a horrible time dealing with the fear of the impending war and adjusting to a new country. Interesting albeit depressing. (Amazon)

The Summer Before - Ann M. Martin
Babysitter’s Club fans rejoice!!! A brand-new prequel to the BSC series. See Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, and Stacy the summer before the club is formed. All four girls are having a difficult summer. Feeling alone and struggling with the pains of growing up. The book is quintessentially Ann M. Martin style, yet it somehow feels more grown-up than the Babysitter’s Club books. A sweet, yet also bittersweet book. (Amazon)

The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman
A toddler's family is murdered, and he is brought into a graveyard to be raised by the ghosts within. Named Nobody Owens ("Bod"), he must learn to navigate the ghost world and the human world, where danger still lurks. Exemplifies the best of Neil Gaiman: always dark, but at times sweet, funny, dangerous, and/or sad. (Amazon)

The Evolution Of Calpurnia Tate - Jacqueline Kelly
Calpurnia is at the age where a tomboy must become a young lady in 1899 Texas. But she's not ready. She spends the summer with her cranky grandpa exploring the natural world, science, and Darwin's Origin of Species. A must read for historical-fiction lovers. Something other than romance for once. (Amazon)

The Mother Daughter Book Club, Much Ado About Anne, Dear Pen Pal, and Pies & Prejudice by Heather Vogel Frederick
Four very different girls and their mothers start a book club. The girls, reluctantly at first, become best friends. Each book covers a year of their lives, starting in 6th grade. They read a different book each year (e.g. Little Women, Anne of Green Gables) and the girls’ personal lives loosely follow the plots of the books. A wholesome read that still manages to showcase three-dimensional characters. The girls and their parents all make mistakes yet all learn something. (Amazon 1, Amazon 2, Amazon 3, Amazon 4)

Operation Redwood - S. Terrell French
Julian Carter-Li has been abandoned by his mother and is stuck with his awful aunt and uncle. But Julian is a quiet, obedient boy...until he finds an email to his uncle from Robin, an irate girl protesting a plan to cut down some ancient redwood trees. Inspired by Robin and his friend Danny, Julian sneaks off to spend the summer with Robin and her family in rural northern California. Operation Redwood manages to entertain and teach the reader a whole lot about trees. (Amazon)

Keeper - Kathi Appelt
Ten-year old Keeper is convinced that her mother is a mermaid. After a horrible day, she travels at night in a rowboat to a cove where she believes she’ll find her mother the mermaid. The points-of-view alternate between Keeper and the adults and animals in her life. Beautiful, lyrical writing. Skims the line between reality and fantasy. Strong Newbery contender. (Amazon)

The Aristobrats - Jennifer Solow
A group of popular girls take their position seriously and try to be examples for the rest of the school. But when they're stuck doing the nerdy school webcast, their popularity plummets. They discover what's really important and that they are not, perhaps, the good examples that they think themselves to be. (Amazon)

Well That Was Different...
-Books that aren't like anything else you'll ever read.


How To Say Goodbye In Robot - Natalie Standiford
Bea moves to a new town and unexpectedly becomes best friends with Jonah, a loner who seems to hate everybody. They bond over a crazy radio talk show whose transcripts are included in the book. One of the strangest books I’ve ever read. It’s funny, depressing, sad, poignant. Well worth reading. (Amazon)

Jellicoe Road - Melina Marchetta
Beautiful, complex, haunting, romantic, heart-breaking, uplifting. No single word can describe a book this wonderful. It’s extremely confusing at first, but if you stick with it, you will be in love with Taylor Markham and her world. Taylor represents her school in its annual turf war with the Townies and the Cadets. This year’s war is full of battles, friendships, and new love. Interspersed throughout the book are excerpts of a novel written by Hannah, Taylor’s housemother. You’ll be amazed how everything fits together. (Amazon)

The Cardturner - Louis Sachar
Alton's greedy mother "volunteers" him to help his rich uncle play bridge. His uncle is miserly and cranky on the surface, but Alton gradually sees a different man, brilliant and funny who has a bittersweet past. Alton even manages to find a cool girl friend in his family's mortal enemy. The Cardturner manages to teach the elementals of bridge in a non-boring way. (Amazon)

When You Reach Me - Rebecca Stead
An homage to A Wrinkle In Time set in 1970s New York City. Sixth grader Miranda's best friend has abandoned her. Her life is further complicated by her new friends, her mom's boyfriend who wants more involvement in the family, and a mysterious crazy homeless man on the corner. Then she begins receiving notes that ask her do to things and seemingly predict the future. What should she do with these notes? Why is she receiving them? Both complex and accessible to young readers, When You Reach Me is truly worthy of the Newbury Medal. (Amazon)

Living Dead Girl - Elizabeth Scott
15-year-old Alice was kidnapped by Ray five years ago. Her life has been pure hell since that time. She’s no longer a little girl and will soon be useless. She has to help Ray find her replacement, with only death awaiting her on the other side. Fascinating analysis of how cruel treatment and hopelessness can influence a person’s character. Hard to read, but very interesting. (Amazon)

The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman
A toddler's family is murdered, and he is brought into a graveyard to be raised by the ghosts within. Named Nobody Owens ("Bod"), he must learn to navigate the ghost world and the human world, where danger still lurks. Exemplifies the best of Neil Gaiman: always dark, but at times sweet, funny, dangerous, and/or sad. (Amazon)

Will Grayson, Will Grayson - John Green and David Levithan
Two boys named Will Grayson meet one night and form a friendship. WG1 is the average kid in the shadow of his flamboyantly gay best friend, Tiny. WG2 is a gay teen who is so depressed that you spend much of the book wanting to give the kid a big hug. WG1, WG2, and Tiny become an interesting trio as Tiny puts on a school musical called Tiny Dancer. Lots of sarcasm, lots of boyish angst. (Amazon)

Kick-Butt Girl Protagonists
-These girls don't need a boy to save them


Heist Society - Ally Carter
Katarina comes from a family of con artists - high time thieves, but she just wants to live a normal life. She's sucked into the family business when her father is implicated in a con he didn't do, and her father needs Katarina's help to save him from the police or the really bad guys. All of Ally Carter's books are full of adventure, lots of plot twists, and good romantic tension. (Amazon)

Poison Study and Magic Study - Maria V. Snyder
Yelena is saved from execution for murdering the son of a general and instead assigned to be the new food taster for the military leader. Her supervisor Valek teaches her to detect poisons...and their relationship grows more interesting as the book continues. A mixture of high fantasy, thriller-like suspense, and hot romance. First of three books - don't bother reading the other two (#2 was okay, but I didn't get to #3 because so many panned it). (Amazon 1, Amazon 2)

Only The Good Spy Young - Ally Carter
The newest Gallagher Girl book is more serious than prior books. No longer are the books about Cammie trying to balance life with love (although that's in there too). It's really about Cammie having to save herself, her friends, and her family. The only people she can trust now are her best friends - not her teachers, Zach, or even her mother. Life is getting more dangerous. And more exciting for the reader!

Catching Fire and Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins
Katniss just can’t get a break. In Catching Fire, Katniss is once again a victim/fighter in a Hunger Games. She makes new friends and new enemies. I love how the triangle between Peeta and Gale deepens. Things become even more complex in Mockingjay as Katniss is helping to overthrow President Snow and his despotic government. But are the “good guys” any better than the “bad guys?” Katniss quibbles and worries through life, yet instinctively fights to the death whenever threatened. See the (disappointing) conclusion to the love triangle. (Amazon 1, Amazon 2)

Airhead, Being Nikki, and Runaway - Meg Cabot
Emerson Watts: Smart, ultra-feminist girl trapped in gorgeous super-model's body after a brain transplant. Someone wants to kill Emerson/Nikki. Can Em use her smarts to catch the killer and her beautiful bod to make a living? Fabulous side characters in Lulu, Freida, Christopher, and Gabriel. Typical Meg Cabot, in ways both good and bad.(Amazon 1, Amazon 2, Amazon 3)

Sisters Red - Jackson Pearce
Scarlett and Rosie March are skilled werewolf hunters and have been ever since a wolf killed their grandmother and horribly scarred Scarlett. While Scarlett lives for the hunt, Rosie longs for a normal life. Perhaps a life involving romance with Silas, their long-time friend and hunting partner. But life starts moving quickly when a huge influx of wolves come into Atlanta and Scarlett, Rosie, and Silas go hunting. Great werewolf mythology - they're monsters rather than big furry, cute dogs. Good mix of suspenseful plot and fun, likeable characters. (Amazon)

Paranormalcy - Kiersten White
If the thought of another angst-ridden paranormal romance makes you gag, check out Paranormalcy. Evie: Kick-butt vamp/wereworlf/hag fighter who also loves anything pink and longs to go to high school to have her own locker. Lend: Handsome, smart, intriguing, genuinely nice love interest. Plot manages to be light and fun, but also thought-provoking. Are the “good guys” really good? Who or what is Evie? Who can she trust? One action-packed scene after another. (Amazon)

Infinite Days - Rebecca Maizel
600 year old vampire queen is transformed back into a human. Lenah's human life at a boarding school doesn't make for a very edgy book, but the many flashbacks of her vampire life do. Maizel doesn't shirk from depicting Lenah's vampire world as cruel and violent, with her as the chief perpetrator. (Amazon)

Dream Girl and Dream Life - Lauren Mechling
Clair Voyante has always had extremely vivid dreams. But after her grandmother gives her a cameo necklace, her dreams start predicting the future! Can Clair use her powers to protect her friends? The mystery/paranormal element of this series is only half the fun. The best parts of this book are Clair's funny and cool friends; her kooky, supportive family; and the depiction of New York City. In fact, New York City is described so thoroughly and so often that it is a character unto itself. (Amazon 1, Amazon 2)

Wake, Fade and Gone- Lisa McMann
Janie is cursed by the gift of seeing other people's dreams - good ones, creepy ones, really bad ones. The daughter of a single alcoholic mom mired in poverty, her normal life is no better than her dream life. She realizes that she can use her curse to help solve crimes - that some purpose can come from her life. She has a fabulous partner/boyfriend in Cabel, a damaged "bad boy" who becomes a passionate, kind, charismatic boyfriend. As the series goes on, Janie discovers just what possibilities and consequences can come from her dream-catching ability and must decide whether to ignore her gift and cut out everyone around her. The prose is as stark, edgy, and as fast-paced as the story. (Amazon 1, Amazon 2, Amazon 3)

Some Girls Bite (Chicagoland Vampires #1) - Chloe Neill
27-year-old Merit is changed into a vampire against her will. She's sucked into an impending vampire war. Merit must accept her new life as an immortal and also help protect her vampire house from those that threaten them. Heart-stopping, romantic, love triangle tension between Merit, master vampire Ethan, and rival house vampire Morgan. Merit has a fabulously snarky voice that will make you want to read more and more. (Amazon)

Vampire Academy: Blood Promise and Spirit Bound - Richelle Mead
Each Vampire Academy book is fun, suspenseful, and oozes romance. There’s the boarding school element. As the series continues, you have complicated royal politics. There are three really hot guys, Dimitri, Adrian, and Christian. One bold, kick-butt girl, Rose. And twist after twist in the plot that will keep you on the edge of your seat. (Amazon 1, Amazon 2)

Iron King, Iron Daughter, and Iron Queen - Julia Kagawa
Meghan Chase discovers that she is the daughter of great fairy king Oberon. Half-fairy and half-mortal, Meghan can withstand the iron that cripples full-blooded fairies. Meghan initially goes into the Never Never to rescue her kidnapped brother, but it turns into a three-book journey to save the entire fairy world from the iron fey. Great character growth through the series: Meghan starts out simpering and boring and turns into a confident, capable, kick-butt warrior. Love triangle between dark and handsome Winter Prince Ash and best friend, funny Puck (aka Robin Goodfellow). Coolest cat character. (Amazon 1, Amazon 2, Amazon 3)

6 comments:

  1. Wow Alison, I can't imagine how long all these lists took you to compile, they're absolute fantastic! I really want to read Will Grayson, Will Grayson, I've heard really good things about that one. And I of course love Ethan and Merit and the Iron Fey series:) Thanks for all these ideas Alison, my list is growing hugely every time I visit!

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  2. Boy POV, Middle Grade, and Kick-Butt Girl Protagonists - three categories that I would love to read more of.

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  3. Great list. My favourite was Well That was Different. Some good books on there :)

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  4. Wow great list! Now I have some more books to add to my TBR pile! New follower!!

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  5. Great post! One of my fave Boy POV books is Beautiful Creatures. Big fan of the Kick-Butt Girl Protagonists - a lot of those books mentioned are on my TBR list.

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  6. I loved The Study series! I thought #2 was a bit slow, but interesting and I really enjoyed #3. I would've also added "Graceling" or "Fire" by Kristin Cashore to the list of Kick Butt heroines too. Love those books!

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