Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Books Not to Miss

So many books. So little time. Here are some I've read recently that I am super excited about:

For Adults:
Room by Emma Donoghue.
This is such a fast paced novel. You will not be able to put it down. It's told from the point of view of a five-year-old boy who has lived his whole life in an 11x11 room with his mother. He doesn't realize he and his mother are actually prisoners of Old Nick. This story will stay with you long after you turn the last page. Although the story is dark, there is a lot of hope and resilience in it, too. Emotionally powerful.

The Girls by Lori Lansens

I read this book in December, and I still think about it. A fictional autobiography about conjoined twins. Fictional autobiography? Did you hear right? Yes. It's fiction, but it's told as if one of the twins is writing her memoir. Very interesting format and done exceptionally well. If you have a sister, I bet you anything you will love this book. So beautiful. So touching. 

For Teens/Adults
These books are marketed for teens but have huge crossover appeal. I love crossover books. Frankly, I think all adults should read books for teens and kids. But that's just me. Anyway...

Chime by Franny Billingsley

Holy moly is this an amazing book! It received six starred reviews. Do you know how many review journals there are for young adult literature? Six. A clean sweep. I have to admit that sometimes I don't like books that receive so many starred reviews or big awards. I'm not that highbrow of a reader, and sometimes those kinds of books go right over my head. But this book is amazing. I finished it one day and started again from the beginning the next. It's that kind of story. A mystery and a romance and just enough fantasy to keep things interesting without making my head spin. It's about identity and how we have to fight the labels that others put upon us and learn who we are from the inside out. The story takes place in a swamp, and the language is so swampy, you just sink into it. And Eldric, the love interest? My new literary crush. 

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Another page turner. And another book I had to re-read right after I finished it. Do you like parallel universe stories? I love to delve into those ideas. This book is about a popular mean girl who dies. (I'm not giving anything away. It happens in the prologue.) The cool thing is that she wakes up the next day and it's the day of her death all over again. (Kind of like the movie, Groundhog Day.) Watching her learn and grow and try to change things as she repeats this tragic day over and over again is fascinating. Everyone is talking about Oliver's new book, Delirium. I read that one, too, but in my opinion Before I Fall has more interesting characters and a more emotional story arc. I guess it depends on your taste: popular mean girl gets a chance at redemption vs. cautious repressed girl falls in love and breaks out of her dystopian society. On a side note, I just saw and loved the movie Source Code and it made me think of Before I Fall. If you love Before I Fall, go see Source Code. (And vice versa.) You won't be disappointed.

For Kids
The Rotten Adventures of Zachary Ruthless by Allan Woodrow with illustrations by Aaron Blecha

You want a hilarious book for kids in 2nd-4th grade? You've got it. This book doesn't actually come out for a couple more weeks, but you can pre-order it now. I'm lucky enough to have seen this book grow from a baby manuscript into its lovely paperback form. Allan was one of my students, and the moment I read the first chapter of his book, I knew he wouldn't be my student for long. He was on the fast track to publication. So glad I was right! Kids (especially boys and reluctant readers) are going to go crazy for Zachary, a rotten and lovable hero.

Dear Tabby by Carolyn Crimi and illustrated by David Roberts

Okay, this book might be in the kids category, but honestly it's for everyone. I left it on my kitchen table, and my teenagers picked it up and loved it. Do you know how hard it is to impress teenagers?? Anyway, this humorous and heartwarming tale about a cat who gives advice is perfect for anyone who wants to bring some more happiness into their life. Tabby helps critters such as a hamster who keeps running but never gets anywhere, a parrot who doesn't quite understand the art of conversation, and a dog who sits around waiting all day for something interesting to happen. But can Tabby help herself? This would be a great book for a graduation gift. Dr. Seuss's Oh the Places You'll Go is so yesterday.

Little Chicken's Big Day by Katie Davis and Jerry Davis

Looking for the perfect book to stick in that Easter basket? Here it is! I love this story, and the illustrations are so cute. My favorite thing is the catchphrase, "I hear you cluckin' Big Chicken!" I've been using that phrase since I heard it. It really comes in handy! Also, I've got serious book trailer envy. Check it out:

That's all for now. Have you read anything fantastic recently? Let me know in the comments. 

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