Let’s see if I can get through the rest of last month, shall we?  Because I’m already looking ahead to what I’ll be reading in November and December as I start digging into the Mock Newbery and Mock Printz lists for this year, plus I’d like to take a stab at the National Book Award nominees in the young people’s literature category (last year I read everything except Stitches, which I flipped through but never managed to finish).

  • The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco X. Stork.  This one’s on the Mock Printz, and I think rightly so.  The characters are absolutely fascinating and drive the story in all their glorious complexity.  Plenty of issues at play, but a good amount of humor, too.  I wish I’d written about this one while it was still fresh in my mind.
  • Fat Vampire by Adam Rex.  This is the kind of funny book that begs to be read aloud – especially to someone nerdy who will get all the jokes.  The send-up of vampire fiction is a good antidote to all the overly dramatic stuff.  If the plot goes a little wonky, who cares – I was too busy enjoying the ride.
  • The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness.  I thought I’d reread this middle volume in the Chaos Walking trilogy before embarking on Monsters of Men, and I’m glad I did.  The first time I was anxious to see what would happen, and this time I was less concerned with plot (and pace – it’s much slower than The Knife of Never Letting Go) and could focus more on character and how Ness was setting things up for the final volume.  Intense stuff, but definitely recommended to fans of dystopian fiction.
  • Amulet: Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi.  It had been too long since I read a graphic novel, and this one is on this year’s ORCA list – another list that I’d like to hopefully maybe work my way through before voting in the spring (even though I’m not a “young reader” and therefore not eligible to vote, the list is a great resource for recommending books to kids and to suggest to my bookgroup, since we have multiple copies on hand already).  It’s fast-paced and fantastical, with rich full-color pictures.  It’s a story that could have been told as a regular novel, but the graphic format lets you soak in all the strange creatures and landscapes without slowing things down.  It’s the beginning of a series, and some issues are left hanging while others are resolved – a good compromise.
  • The Books of Elsewhere: The Shadows by Jacqueline West.  I would’ve loved this book as a kid – a spooky old house, pictures that you can crawl through into a shadow world, a down-to-earth heroine who tries to stay out of trouble, and the kind of fantasy where the real and the magical mix in unexpected ways.  It bills itself as book one in the Books of Elsewhere, but things are pretty wrapped up at the end, so I’m curious to see where West goes next.
  • Comet in Moominland by Tove Jansson.  Why on earth did I never read these books as a child?  I feel deprived.  I’d heard a few people mention them, and then I saw that they were being republished this year.  My library had one elderly copy of one of the books, so I decided to get the whole set.  Then I figured I should try one myself, and I’m glad I did.  Funny, in the sense that you often laugh at the characters, and fun in an old-fashioned adventurous sort of way.  I itched to read them aloud – they’d be great for a family read-aloud.

Ta-da!  Now I’d better start catching up on Long Distance Kitchen again – I’ve been cooking but not posting, and I’m actually about to run off and make some Roasted Vegetable Minestrone if anyone wants to join in.

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