Young Adult/Teen

The National Book Awards 2016

 

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“The mission of the National Book Foundation and the National Book Awards is to celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of great writing in America.” *

 

The National Book Award is an American literary prize administered by the National Book Foundation. There are twenty judges for the competition, five in each of the categories: Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry and Young People’s Literature. The judges are a mix of writers, librarians and booksellers. This year, American publishers submitted books published between December 1, 2015 and November 30, 2016, written by American authors. The winners were announced on November 16, 2016. Each Winner will receive a prize of $10,000 each. Each Finalist will receive a prize of $1,000 each. 

 

The winners are indicated in red. Click on the authors’ names to discover information about the books.

 

Fiction Finalists

 

Nonfiction Finalists:

 

Poetry Finalists:

 

Young People's Literature Finalists:

 

Congratulations to all the finalists and winners!  🙂

 

*www.nationalbook.org

 

 

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Three Summer Vacation Quickie Reviews

 

In a rush to pick out your summer vacation ‘beach-reads’? This may help with the ‘run-in-and-grab’ non-thought process. Categories are listed in no particular order of favoritism or warning…

 

Dragons:

Book Cover - Brisinger by Christopher Paolini

Brisinger” by Christopher Paolini.  

More complex than the previous two books in the trilogy. Eragon is more developed as a character, but this has resulted in less time spent on adventures/conversations with Saphira, his dragon. Still great fun for dragon/fantasy fans.  🙂

 

Rated PG-13 for war and violence.

 

 

Faith-based fiction:
Book Cover - Night Light by Terri Blackstock

Night Light” by Terri Blackstock.

A world-wide power outage has kicked the earth back into 19th century technology. No cell phones, no computers, no AC and people have to ride bikes and grow their own food. Fascinating look at how one Christian family chooses to deal with the challenges of a more primitive life, including digging a well to obtain potable water. The young children in the book have dialogue that is developmentally inaccurate, but the overall story made me wonder how I would cope – and what kinds of vegetables I would be able to grow so that I could barter with someone who raised chickens.

 

Rated PG-13 for a murder, a kidnapping and scenes of drug usage.

 

 

YA Fiction:
Book Cover - I am Number Four by Pitticus Lore

I am Number Four” by Pitticus Lore.

An alien teenager, who has been hiding out on Earth with his protector, must deal with saving the world from nasty beings from his home planet that aim to wipe out his species. Made into a movie, but the book is MUCH better. There are sequels, but “I am Number Four” is the best. Filled with teen bits like first love, outsiders that don’t quite fit in, but are smarter than the ‘cool kids,’ blowing up the high school, etc.  Written for teens that are into intense action stories.

 

Rated PG-13 for alien invasion, intensity, and violence. Adults should look this over to assess its appropriateness for their teen.

 

Do you have a favorite summer vacation book? Let us know in the comments below.  🙂

Check out three quite different Beach Reads from last summer's list here.

Whatever you decide to read, enjoy!

 

 

 

 

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The Agatha Awards for 2015

 

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The winners for the 2015 Agatha Awards (named for Agatha Christie) have been  announced. The awards were given to mystery and crime writers at the annual Malice Domestic conference in April/May, 2016. The nominated books were first published in the United States by a living author between January 1 and December 31, 2015.

 

The Agatha Awards recognize the "traditional mystery," meaning that there is no graphic sex and no excessive violence in the writing. Thrillers or hard-boiled detectives need not apply, but instead, picture Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot at work.

 

The 2015 nominees are presented below, with the winners indicated in red:

Best Contemporary Novel

Annette Dashofy, “Bridges Burned”
Margaret Maron, “Long Upon the Land”
Catriona McPherson, “The Child Garden”
Louise Penny, “Nature of the Beast”
Hank Phillipi Ryan, “What You See”

 

Best Historical Novel

Rhys Bowen, “Malice at the Palace”
Susanna Calkins, “The Masque of a Murderer”
Laurie R. King, “Dreaming Spies”
Susan Elia Macneal, “Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante”
Victoria Thompson, “Murder on Amsterdam Avenue”

 

Best First Novel

Tessa Arlen, “Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman”
Cindy Brown, “Macdeath”
Ellen Byron, “Plantation Shudders”
Julianne Holmes, “Just Killing Time”

Art Taylor, “On the Road with Del and Louise”

 

Best Short Story

Barb Goffman, “A Year Without Santa Claus?”  (Alfred Hitchcock MM)
Edith Maxwell, “A Questionable Death” (History & Mystery, Oh My)
Terri Farley Moran, “A Killing at the Beausoleil”  (Ellery Queen MM)
Harriette Sackler, “Suffer the Poor” (History & Mystery, Oh My)
B.K. Stevens, “A Joy Forever” (Alfred Hitchcock MM)

 

Click on the link to see the nominees and winners for Best Non-Fiction and Best Children’s/YA. http://www.malicedomestic.org/agathaawards.html

 

As usual with the Agatha Awards, there were many strong writers in competition with each other, so choosing a winner was tough. Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!

 

Give yourself a treat and choose your next read(s) from the list! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

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The Edgar Awards – 2016

 

 

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Each year the Mystery Writers of America (MWA) awards the Edgars, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television, published or produced in 2015. The Edgar® Awards were presented at the annual banquet on April 28, 2016, in New York City. The nominees were terrific!  The winners are indicated in red:

 

BEST NOVEL

The Strangler Vine by M.J. Carter (Penguin Random House – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
The Lady From Zagreb by Philip Kerr (Penguin Random House – A Marian Wood Book)
Life or Death by Michael Robotham (Hachette Book Group – Mulholland Books)
Let Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Roy (Penguin Random House – Dutton)
Canary by Duane Swierczynski (Hachette Book Group – Mulholland Books)
Night Life by David C. Taylor (Forge Books)

 

BEST FIRST NOVEL BY AN AMERICAN AUTHOR

Past Crimes by Glen Erik Hamilton (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
Where All Light Tends to Go by David Joy (Penguin Random House – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll (Simon & Schuster)
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Atlantic – Grove Press)
Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm (Penguin Random House – Viking)

 

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL

The Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter by Malcolm Mackay (Hachette Book Group – Mulholland Books
What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
Woman with a Blue Pencil by Gordon McAlpine (Prometheus Books – Seventh Street Books)
Gun Street Girl by Adrian McKinty (Prometheus Books – Seventh Street Books)
The Daughter by Jane Shemilt (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)

 

BEST FACT CRIME

Operation Nemesis: The Assassination Plot that Avenged the Armenian Genocide by Eric Bogosian (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown and Company)
Where The Bodies Were Buried: Whitey Bulger and the World That Made Him by T.J. English (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
Whipping Boy: The Forty-Year Search for My Twelve-Year-Old Bully by Allen Kurzweil (HarperCollins Publishers – Harper)
Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA and More Tell Us About Crime by Val McDermid (Grove Atlantic – Grove Press)
American Pain: How a Young Felon and his Ring of Doctors Unleashed America’s  Deadliest Drug Epidemic by John Temple (Rowman & Littlefield – Lyons Press)

 

BEST SHORT STORY

“The Little Men” – Mysterious Bookshop by Megan Abbott (Mysterious Bookshop)
“On Borrowed Time” – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Mat Coward (Dell Magazines)
“The Saturday Night Before Easter Sunday” – Providence Noir by Peter Farrelly (Akashic Books)
“Family Treasures” – Let Me Tell You  by Shirley Jackson (Random House)
“Obits” – Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King (Simon & Schuster – Scribner)
“Every Seven Years” – Mysterious Bookshop by Denise Mina (Mysterious Bookshop)

 

BEST YOUNG ADULT

Endangered by Lamar Giles (HarperCollins Children’s Books – HarperTeen)
A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis (HarperCollins Publishers – Katherine Tegen Books)
The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury (Scholastic – Scholastic Press)
The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma (Algonquin Young Readers – Workman)
Ask the Dark by Henry Turner (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – Clarion Books)

 

RAVEN AWARDS

Margaret Kinsman
Sisters in Crime

 

ELLERY QUEEN AWARD
Janet Rudolph, Founder of Mystery Readers International

 

Nominations in additional categories of the Edgar Awards can be seen here: www.theedgars.com

 

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!

 

 

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National Book Award 2015 Finalists and Winners

 

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“The mission of the National Book Foundation and the National Book Awards is to celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of great writing in America.” *

The National Book Award is an American literary prize administered by the National Book Foundation. There are twenty judges for the competition, five in each of the categories: Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry and Young People’s Literature. The judges are a mix of writers, librarians and booksellers. This year, American publishers submitted books published between December 1, 2014 and November 30, 2015, written by American authors.

Winners are indicated in red.

 

Fiction Finalists

Karen E. Bender, Refund

Angela Flournoy, The Turner House

Lauren Groff, Fates and Furies

Adam Johnson, Fortune Smiles

Hanya Yanagihara, A Little Life

 

Non-Fiction Finalists

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me

Sally Mann, Hold Still

Sy Montgomery, The Soul of an Octopus

Carla Power, If the Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Quran

Tracy K. Smith, Ordinary Light

 

Poetry Finalists

Ross Gay, Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude,

Terrance Hayes, How to Be Drawn

Robin Coste Lewis, Voyage of the Sable Venus

Ada Limón, Bright Dead Things

Patrick Phillips, Elegy for a Broken Machine

 

Young People’s Literature Finalists

Ali Benjamin, The Thing About Jellyfish

Laura Ruby, Bone Gap

Steve Sheinkin, Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War

Neal Shusterman, Challenger Deep

Noelle Stevenson, Nimona

 

 

Congratulations to all the finalists and winners!!

 

*www.nationalbook.org

 

 

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“Divergent” by Veronica Roth

 

Book Cover - Divergent

Dystopia: “an imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives” (Merriam-Webster) OR “a community or society that is in some important way undesirable or frightening.” (Wikipedia)

 

It used to be that everywhere I turned in the YA section of the bookstore, vampires were front and center. Now that the Hunger Games Trilogy has proven to be wildly successful, vampires seem to have been edged out – at least in product placement – by books with a Dystopian theme. Veronica Roth’s Divergent series is the latest of the genre to be a hit with teens and have a movie tie-in.

 

Beatrice Prior and her brother are 16 and they will soon take a test to see which faction in their society is a suitable match for their particular strengths. Each of them is in some way unhappy about the idea of staying with the family’s faction, Abnegation (a selfless group) and they seek out other factions (Dauntless=brave, Erudite=intelligent, Candor=honest, Amity=peaceful) after their test results come in.

 

The choice Beatrice makes in Divergent changes her in ways she doesn’t always understand or embrace, and may destroy her as she uncovers the truths behind the exciting hype of the Dauntless. And, when secrets are revealed about her test, she faces danger from the very faction she chose.

 

Beatrice renames herself Tris and is like many real-life teens – she doesn’t appreciate the support system that surrounds her until she needs it, she takes her parents for granted, she’s insecure in her physical appearance, she searches for something beyond the life she has in hand, she feels unworthy when in fact she’s better than her peers – in other words, she’s growing up painfully as most teens do.

 

Roth writes Tris as having a conflicted moral compass, and angst about doing the wrong thing. During training, her hands shake when faced with something new, but when protecting a friend, she performs unflinchingly. She is small for her age, so outdoes her competition by using her brain. She has an excellent trainer, a mysterious ‘Four’ who seems intimidating in his coldness and yet perfect in so many ways. Roth reveals the layers of the young man’s background as the relationship develops.

 

Divergent features an interesting mix of sixteen year olds with varied flaws and positive attributes, and their range of personalities and skills keep the plot moving and the action believable within the Dystopian world. There are loyal friends and nasty instructors, psycho initiates, desperate people who live outside the faction compounds, evil adults who plot and scheme for control, and, of course, a way for the teens to outsmart the evil adults. A few of the action scenes that involve incredibly difficult physical tasks, would lend themselves to great FX in the movie version if there is a big enough budget.

 

Young Adult fiction is a playground for vampires, martial arts experts, archers, unexpected heroes, magicians, and werewolves in the sci-fi/paranormal/fantasy realm. Partly because parents are curious about what their offspring are reading and partly because of all the media hype, full-fledged adults are now big fans of YA as well. I read the Twilight series, the Hunger Games trilogy, and now the Divergent series, and am happy to be numbered among the followers.

 

Please visit www.veronicarothbooks.blogspot.com to find out the latest about Roth and her projects.

 

 

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“The Hunger Games” trilogy by Suzanne Collins

 

Book Cover - Catching Fire

 

What would happen if your father died and the only source of income for the family disappeared?

 

Have you ever skipped meals so that your sister could eat? Would you break the law to keep your family from starving? Would you place your life in danger rather than let your sister go to certain death?

 

Do you have it in you to kill people in order to stay alive? What are you made of? Do you have the power to change the world by your actions?

 

If you’re breathing and have access to multi media, you have probably heard of the “Hunger Games” trilogy (or the movies based on the books) and might even be numbered as one of the legions of fans.

 

What is it about this worldwide phenomenon that has captured the interest of so many people, both young and old? Some say that the trilogy is violent, is depressing, and there are very few nice characters in the tale. (A teenager shared with me recently that the perceived violence label is odd, given the violence level in TV shows and PG-13 movies) This series is so popular among the Young Adult/Teen crowd that it’s being studied in High School English classes in the U.S.

 

At the “Hunger Games” core is a teenagers’ love story, a triangle of Katniss Everdeen, Peeta Mellark, and Gale Hawthorne. Jealousy, unrequited feelings, and complete cluelessness on the part of our heroine keeps the two guys alternately at arm’s length and/or willing to die for her. Katniss has been emotionally closed off for so long while trying to survive in a Dystopian world, that tenderness and caring from others is a surprise and she rarely sees it as genuine. The only person in her life that she is sure she loves, whose love in return she knows is real, is her sister, Prim. And, for her sister, she would risk all.

 

But, the themes in the “Hunger Games” are broader than a love story, even as good as this one is. Katniss, Peeta, and Gale live in the coal-mining District 12 of the country Penam. Two children (ages 12 to 18) from each of twelve Districts of Penam are chosen by lottery to compete in the annual Hunger Games, a punishment delivered by the government for a rebellion that occurred decades in the past. Over a period of several weeks, the champions from each District are challenged with brutal survivalist type tasks: fending off vicious wild animals, using the meager supplies granted to them by the game masters, foraging for the rest, while killing off their opponents with whatever means possible. The competition is to the death, because only one can remain standing at the end. The reward? Better food for a year for their families back home.

 

But, even in victory, there is fear. Missteps can cause the downfall of others, the death of innocents. The government is always watching, wary of people who show any signs of leadership or rebellious tendencies, and willing to impose medieval justice to anyone violating the law.

 

The supporting characters are interesting people that give depth to a sometimes terrifying story set in the desperation of a world gone horribly wrong. The villains are multi-layered, some forced to do the government’s bidding, some genuinely nasty. The hairdressers, the groomers, and the trainers are complex, flawed and all working to make the best of a corrupt world that gives no quarter to the weak and rewards the strong only with survival.

 

"Hunger Games" is an excellent, chilling YA novel, recommended to me by several teenagers as well as some adults. I thoroughly enjoyed the pacing and the realistic characterization. I couldn’t put any of the books in the series down until the last gripping pages, even in the second read-through to do the review.

 

Not surprisingly, archery became popular again to teenagers in the United States after Katniss first used her bow. A bow was even used as the murder weapon of choice by a teenager in an episode of the TV show, “Longmire.” The TV show, “Revolution,” had a bow wielding teenager as one of the central characters. And, the copycats abound. But none quite so successful as the original, Katniss.

 

The three books in the series: “Hunger Games,” “Catching Fire,” and last but not least, “Mocking Jay.”

 

The movies: “Hunger Games ” played in 2012 and was wildly successful. The second, “Catching Fire,” debuted in November, 2013, with "Mocking Jay, Part 1" following in 2014. "Mocking Jay, Part 2" opens in November, 2015.

 

‘May the odds be ever in your favor’ that you have a chance to read all of the "Hunger Games" books. 

 

For more information about Suzanne Collins and her books, please visit www.suzannecollinsbooks.com

 

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