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Reading the Rainbow: Princeless: Raven the Pirate Princess Book 3

June 21, 2017

I’m in this in-between place where books haven’t shown up in almost two weeks and I’m almost down to just sequels, companion books, and a couple of non-fiction. I know another batch is coming soon, but in the meantime I’m reluctantly picking up some sequels and series books, hoping that they give me enough information to understand what’s going on.

I HATE reading out of order.

But my interest was piqued when I saw Princessless: Raven the Pirate Princess Book 3: Two Boys, Five Girls, and Three Love Stories in one of my deliveries. For one thing, I’ve read about Raven before on Free Comic Book Day. For another: that title! Maybe there’d be a little ethical non-monogamy?

Unfortunately not, but there’s definitely some representation here, and lots of diversity. Raven’s crewmate/crush has been terribly injured, and Raven hopes to take her to a healer in time. Meanwhile, the crew tells her stories in hopes she’ll hear them in her unconscious state and hold on.

The great thing about this set-up for someone who likes to read in order is that it’s mostly the stories, so you don’t have to worry too much about continuity. This is a break from the main storyline, which is Raven battling…I want to say her brother. Honestly, it went right over my head, because so much of it is “in the moment” and there are some really great stories! And Raven has to fight the healer! Action! Adventure! Romance! Piracy! An all-women crew with a lot of diversity!

One great trend in fantasy that’s been going around is diversity. The idea behind it is that, “Hey, if we can make up our own worlds, why CAN’T they have every skin color known to man? And then, when we have our characters, why CAN’T their cultures be pretty much analogous to the real world?” The answer is: There’s no reason they can’t.

So this is a good book to pick up if you want a pretty PG-rated, diverse, queer adventure. I had a good time with it and maybe one day I’ll be able to read the others. But not this year. 🙂

In case you have my completionist’s heart, here’s where you can get Book One and Book Two. Also, the main series is just called Princeless but it follows a different self-rescuing princess.

Does it all sound good but you’d like a little something more R-rated? Have you tried Rat Queens? Note: Original artist was accused of domestic violence and taken off the book. However, there was some controversy last year when it looked like he might be coming back. Last I checked, the book was on hiatus, but that was a while ago.

 

Some links on this blog may be referrals. I’ve been out sick from work for months now, so if you appreciate the review and decide to purchase the book, please use the link.

Reading the Rainbow: Speed of Life

June 20, 2017

It’s too bad that Carol Weston’s Speed of Life does not have enough content* for me to nominate it for Rainbow, because I enjoyed every page of this book, which is about an eighth-grader whose mother died months ago and everyone seems ready to move on but her.

Sofia goes to an all-girls’ school in New York City. She doesn’t know much about boys but she knows about grief, because it’s with her all the time since the sudden death of her mother the year before. She’s just finished her first birthday, Christmas, and New Year’s without her mother and everyone seems to think the new year should have cleared away the pain and sadness. Then an advice columnist comes to speak at her school, and everything starts changing fast. Sofia exchanges emails with “Dear Kate” to help her navigate life, and there’s such a great Alice vibe–the Naylor Alice, not the Carroll one. (If you haven’t read the Alice series, you totally should.) But as the year goes on, Sofia’s grief turns into growth in a story that never gets too sweet or too sad.

One of the things I loved about this book was that it FEELS like a year. Another is that even when things are obvious to the reader, it never feels like they have to be for Sofia. She’s a very young fourteen because she’s never had to be anything else. When she starts to become more mature, it’s a very natural process. The difference between Sofia at fourteen and Sofia at fifteen is huge, but not unrealistic.

Another great thing about this book is that Sofia speaks fluent Spanish because she is actually half-Spanish.  It’s not a choice that’s made often in books–usually, if one parent is European, they are English, French, or maybe Italian. The book does not translate every phrase used, though it does with most of them, and Sofia’s being bilingual is not a big part of the book, but it comes up naturally over and over. The fact that her father’s Spanish is clunky at best, non-existent at worst, seems very real as well.

All in all, this is a great book for a middle schooler looking to start moving up to YA, especially one who is looking to read about real life. Weston, an advice columnist herself, does a good job of using Dear Kate and Sofia’s father, a gynecologist, to explore big questions in an age-appropriate way.

*Three gay/bi background characters and one question to Dear Kate about being bisexual or lesbian if members of the opposite sex don’t pay attention to you.
Some links on this blog may be referrals. I’ve been out sick from work for months now, so if you appreciate the review and decide to purchase the book, please use the link.

Reading the Rainbow: Bunnybear!

June 19, 2017

Must-buy picture book: Bunnybear, written by Andrea J. Loney and adorably illustrated by Carmen Saldaña.

Bunnybear was born a bear, but feels like a bunny. He doesn’t feel like he fits into the bear community or the bunny community. But then he makes a new friend who’s a bit like he is…

Bunnybear is a super cute, funny picture book that families and libraries should absolutely have. It teaches children that feeling different is valid and that difference is okay. For those who are looking for a good metaphor for being transgender, this is it. For those looking for a cute story about being accepted for who you are, here you go.

As a metaphor, it may go over the heads of children (test reader S didn’t make the connection and she’s transgender and, age-wise, the target audience for the book), but the lessons imparted won’t.

 

Some links on this blog may be referrals. I’ve been out sick from work for months now, so if you appreciate the review and decide to purchase the book, please use the link.

Reading the Rainbow: Radio Silence

May 31, 2017

Things not to do when you’re feeling fuzzy: read the description of one book, pick up the one next to it and spend the whole time wondering why the narrator is a young woman and there are no bombs.

So, yeah, I went into Alice Oseman’s Radio Silence thinking it was something called The Fixes, so I was very confused for a while, especially because it begins with a fire, so…bombs? No, there was just a fire. So I guess kids got moved around to different schools? And it matters for some reason?

Honestly, so much of this book kept me like

I read it almost in one sitting, and yet when I put it down, I still felt confused. Maybe it’s because of my complete and utter lack of knowledge about English school systems. Or maybe because the book didn’t have much of a plot that I could figure. Yet I enjoyed it. Yeah, I don’t know either.

Frances Janvier is a biracial teen who shows one face at school and another when she’s at home. School Frances is utterly boring to everyone: she has friends but they never get very close, she’s always studying to get into Cambridge, she’s Head Girl, which I guess really is a thing. But Frances at home is a super-nerd. She loves silly clothes and watching movies with her mum, and she especially loves a podcast called Radio Silence, which for some reason is on YouTube instead of being on something more podcast-friendly. It sounds a lot like a crappy version of Welcome to Night Vale, which is either wonderfully incoherently surreal or wonderfully perfectly surreal, depending on which episode you’re listening to. The partial transcripts of the Radio Silence shows rarely make any sense, and you almost never get a sense of plot from them, although the book insists there is one. Frances spends all her non-schoolwork time listening to, reading and responding to fan responses of, and drawing fan art of Radio Silence.

Though a strange quirk of fate, the Creator (as they call him, always capitalized) of Radio Silence wants her to work with him, and he also happens to be her across-the-street neighbor and the sister of her only friend, until said sister left and never contacted anyone again about two years previous.

Frances and Aled begin a great, nerdy friendship, but things begin to unravel as the podcast’s popularity increases.

Not unlike Tash Hearts Tolstoy, which I’ll talk about later, if that book were really dark and disjointed yet hard to put down.

All in all, not much actually happens in the book, certainly not enough plot to warrant its massive size, and yet the characters are engrossing. There are bits and pieces of a mystery–what happened to Aled’s sister?–but they’re not really a mystery so much as a secret, which is something completely different. Each thing that I could complain about on its own is not worth not reading this book.

So…

Am I voting for it in our Rainbow Book Committee straw poll? Yes

Am I nominating it? I haven’t decided. One aspect of the content is unique enough that I might, if I don’t see similar content in another book. But I think I could be easily swayed from putting it on the final list, thanks to that feeling that it doesn’t quite come together. And British books are a tougher sell to American kids, I think. If I’m baffled by the school stuff (what’s an A versus an A*? Like an A+?), will they be put off by it?

Have you read it? Will you read it? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear more perspectives on it.

Reading the Rainbow: My Year on ALA’s Rainbow Book List Committee

May 30, 2017

I know I haven’t written in an exceptionally long time, but that’s partially because I’ve been really sick. We’re still not exactly sure what’s wrong with me, but the main symptoms are nowhere near as bad as they have been, so I’m back to being out of bed for the most part. While I’m not back to work yet, I can tolerate the computer much longer than I have been in the past few months, so I’d like to do SOMETHING productive.

It did take me a while to get back to the blog, though, because I’ve lent my craptop out and the 2008 one did not want to load the new WordPress posting area. It still doesn’t, but it turns out there’s a simple workaround for that. (Go to My Sites–>WP Admin–>Posts–>Add New.)

Meanwhile, I’ve been doing short bursts of reading when I can handle it. Almost every book I’ve read so far this year has had LGBTQIA+ content because I’m now a member of ALA’s Rainbow Book List committee! I was put on at the last minute, so I didn’t think it was going to happen, but there was a space and I was recommended (thank you!), so here I am, getting dozens of books delivered to my house and trying to read just enough that I don’t make myself feel worse.

The Rainbow Book List committee reads and votes on books geared from birth to young adult, with concessions made toward books that are adult but have crossover appeal. We then create a bibliography that will aid librarians, teachers, and anyone else who wants to use them in finding quality content in LGBTQIA+ literature.

Unlike previous years, this committee is only serving a one-year tenure. I’m not exactly sure why, since I came in late. We are all new to the committee, which can make it a bit difficult at times, but we’re doing our best and giving our all.

For the rest of the year, I will be discussing some of the books I’ve been sent and why I am or will not vote for them. You’ll be hearing about some of the best, and worst, queer books out there. From board books to non-fiction to my intense love of Seanan McGuire’s upcoming Down Among the Sticks and Bones, I may not talk about them all, but I’m going to try to get to quite a few that have made impressions on me.

As always, books that link to Amazon may be referral links, which means I benefit only if you decide to purchase the book. I have been blogging about books for years now and, after conducting an informal poll a few years ago, decided that this is a good way for me to be compensated for the work I do on the blog. I will always be clear and up front about how I may make money on this blog. (If you are wondering if this is a good way to make money, so far the answer has been “HA.”)

I look forward to telling you about some really amazing books this year.

-Alana- (rhymes with banana, if you’re American)

Blog joyfully

July 25, 2016

Yeah, okay.

So that was one of my goals for the past year. As you can see, it’s not working. I mean, in my entire life, there isn’t much I’m doing 100% joyfully. My last two posts were done months before they were posted and sat in work limbo until I was like “Forget that.”

I’m in Summer Reading, so it makes sense that I’m hella busy, but also I keep getting more and more ARCs and galleys, and I’m overwhelmed. I weeded a ton of my stuff and donated it to the library/friends/sold it at the Book Barn, but I still have one full bookcase of books I received at BEA and–omg–ALA. Hey, I went to ALA!

Yes, there were bags. Yes, I’m going to talk about them. I’m just dealing with some “I’m not ready to be on camera” issues, like I cut my hair three times last week.

I’m down to three book clubs, which is still like two too many, but one is for work. I’ve tried to coordinate the work one with my Facebook one, by shifting it to a theme rather than trying to get one book in by ILL over and over, but it’s barely making a dent.

I’m also trying to donate more of my time to my community.

I’m still not doing great on this “stop spreading myself thin” thing. But, on the plus side, I’m off on Saturdays through the summer.

I took seven comics out from the library this weekend and read them all. That was joyful, at least. I’m not feeling pressured to write this, much. That’s something.

Patron Question #2: Why Was This Book Misfiled? (Or, The Comic Book Dilemma )

April 15, 2016

When I first said I would take patron questions, this was the first question I got. It’s from a friend who doesn’t live in my town. He said he went to his local library and found a copy of Alan Moore’s Watchmen in the children’s section. It’s well-known among comic book readers for its graphic content, and it’s one of the few comic book adaptations to receive an R rating. So what went wrong that it ended up in the children’s section?

This is a classic example of misfiling, and it happens all the time, especially with comic books. Here are a few reasons why misfiling occurs, and why some books aren’t where you expect:

1) Some books could be legitimately filed in multiple places.

Short story collections, plays, poems, capital-L literature–these all have numbers in the Dewey Decimal System under non-fiction even if they’re fiction. Shakespeare could be “F(iction) Shakespeare” or “822.33” in non-fiction.

Other times, a book has teen protagonists but some people don’t see it as a teen book. The Night Circus is a book I’ve seen filed as a teen or adult book. Given that the book has two adults as major characters along with the teens, I’d go for adult, but not everyone agrees with me. I’d also argue that the new Ernest Cline book, Armada, is definitely a Young Adult book, but I’ve only ever seen it filed in the adult section so far. Sometimes, it comes down to a simple judgment call: Where will this book circulate the best?

For example, Michael Chabon’s Summerland is a book I’ve seen filed at different libraries in the children’s section, the teen section, and the adult section. Crazy, right? But each library has a valid reason for doing so. Chabon primarily writes adult novels and not all novels with children as characters are for children. (See also: To Kill a Mockingbird.) But some are. However, if the language is more mature than your usual children’s book, it may end up in the teen section due to readability. I haven’t read it, so I can’t tell you what my opinion on this particular book is.

2) The people who do the ordering and the people who label the books are not always the same people. This sometimes results in misfiles for myriad reasons, all of which boil down to “human error.”

But really, I think what my friend is asking is, “Why do people assume comic books are kids’ books?”

3) Even library staff sometimes judge books by their covers.

There’s a long-standing belief that everything comic book-related must be for children, which I find strange. Comics started out for everyone. Everyone read them. There were family-friendly radio plays, television shows, and movies. But at some point, “family-friendly” became another phrase for “kids’ stuff,” and those not interested in the medium believed they’d grown up but comics hadn’t.

This is, of course, not true. Art Spiegelman’s Maus won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992 for its original depiction of the Holocaust. Despite this, reviews on the work were annoyingly self-conscious, including comments like “Art Spiegelman doesn’t draw comics” and “Maus is not exactly a comic book, either; comics are for kids,” to which Dr. Joseph Witek, a professor of Humanities, responded, “[I]f Maus is not a comic book and if Art Spiegelman doesn’t draw comics, nothing is and no one ever has.”

The book in my friend’s question, Alan Moore’s Watchmen, was on Time magazine’s list of “the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to the present.” It is a violent deconstruction of the genre, for adults only. And yet this book is the one that ended up in the children’s section. Why? Because it’s a comic book.

Not every person who works at a library reads every book that comes in. I’d go so far as to say not any one person who works at any library reads every book that comes in, although I could be wrong. Like anyone with a full work week, library staff has to decide what fits in their schedules. For some, it’s a favorite genre or two. For others, books don’t make the cut at all. (It’s true–not everyone who works at a library reads all the time!) When large orders come in, quick calls are made. And things gets misfiled. It happens a lot with comics because catalogers may look at comics and say, “Okay, a comic. Put it in the kids’ pile.” They’re not familiar with the medium. They stereotype. If a book has a half-naked man holding an overdressed woman in his arms, it’s probably a romance. If it’s a comic book, it’s probably for kids.

I’m not saying this is the right decision, but it’s one that gets made all the time. One of the things I’ll be doing soon is ordering more comics for the library, and I’ll have to make some decisions myself as to where a book should be put. It’s not always going to be easy. For example, when Ultimate Spider-Man began, many libraries put it in the Juvenile section. But as the series continued, the books proved themselves to be firmly in Young Adult territory. Should the earlier books be left in J or should the series be put in YA in its entirety? You could also call this The Harry Potter Problem. By the time the last book came out, Harry was YA and so were many of his readers. But patrons wanted the collection in one place. Harry mostly stayed in the J’s despite the increasingly dark subject matter. But not everywhere. Again, it was a judgment call on the part of the staff.

So that’s the “why,” but let’s not forget what comes next. The best thing a patron can do if they see a book has been misfiled is to let the staff know. I do it all the time. Sometimes the staff agrees with me, sometimes they don’t. In a case like Watchmen, it’s thankfully cut and dried, and in the best interests of the patrons to help get that misfile remedied.

Patron Question #1: How Does the Library Choose Which Books to Buy?

April 13, 2016

In library terms, the purchasing of materials for the library is called collection development.  Depending on the size of the library, you may have many people involved in the process, or very few. One librarian may be in charge of all the purchasing, or only one aspect of it. For example, Miss Allie takes care of almost all our children’s and teen collection development. You’ll see why it’s “almost” and not “always” below.

When it comes to what to choose, there are three major avenues for collection development:

Publications – When you’re trying to keep ahead of the game, you need to know what’s about to come out. For that, there are publications like Library Journal and School Library Journal, which review advance copies of books to help choose what to buy. Librarians rely heavily on these publications for collection development.

Popularity – Is this a popular author, title, or series? Then it will probably be bought by a library as soon as possible. Often, libraries keep lists of popular authors, publishers, and series, and set up what’s called a standing order with the company they buy materials from. When something from the standing order is released, the library gets it immediately without having to go through the usual ordering process. Standing orders free up the staff to spend their time looking for other materials to round out their collection and keep it from looking like an airport bookstore.

Recommendations – Patron and staff member recommendations make up a small but significant portion of materials purchased. Many libraries will allow you to suggest items for purchase. If the item fills a need in the collection–for example, the library once had the book but it was damaged or never returned, or a few people have requested it–it may be purchased, depending on the library’s budget. Journal reviews are sometimes not an indicator of popularity, so listening to patrons’ needs is important. And don’t forget, staff members are patrons too–staff members often request things for purchase based on their own interests and the interests of the patrons they interact with every day.

Different communities have different needs, so what’s available at one library may not be available at the next. A good library staff pays attention to what’s being checked out and tailors its collection to suit its population, but not so much it’s purchasing for only the majority.

The last of 2014’s 4-star reads

January 10, 2016

I have twenty-four more books left on my 2014 review list. (I’m not even going to look at 2015 yet. Baby steps. Eighteen of these books (really 21, because one was a comp of a series) were four-star reads.

The two-volume graphic novel version of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book changes art too often for me to really love it, but it’s a good adaptation, especially for kids who are more visual. The book itself is an old-fashioned ghost story, with murder and monsters, so sensitive kids might want to save this until they’re a little older, even if it is in the juvenile section.

Remember that time that I said that Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye run peaked with the second volume? Maybe the third? Well, I gave the second volume four stars. Have I mentioned how gorgeous the art is? Have I discussed how sometimes they’re all talking about stuff and you’re like “You know you’re missing a chunk of the conversation, right? The part that would let the audience know what you’re talking about?” This volume is a bit more verbose, which helps, and if I remember correctly has a very heartwarming section that made me love it.

Three Jennifer Crusie books got four stars, and they were all written with other people: Dogs and Goddesses, The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes, and her first collaboration with Bob Mayer: Don’t Look Down. Fortunately, she and Mayer get into a great writing groove with their second book. You know, as if four star is bad. Heh.

Avengers: Road to Marvel’s The Avengers is a collection of stories set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I really can’t remember much about it, but I know I liked it. Peter David, man. It’s practically a given.

As much as it kills me to read out of order, I’m still reading random Discworld books occasionally. 2014’s was Guards! Guards!, which is the first story of the City Watch. Vimes, yay! The good thing about Discworld for someone like me is that you can jump in here and there with different series of characters, at least. Unfortunately, the next City Watch book I have is like fifth in that sub-series. (We ended up with a bunch of the books when someone my husband knows moved? Or something?) So…that’s probably not going anywhere anytime soon. I like Discworld, but not enough to seek it out. Which is supposed to make me a bad nerd or something, but I don’t care.

I couldn’t remember ever having read any Shirley Jackson, but my husband had a book so I borrowed it. Come Along with Me is probably not the best start, since it begins with an unfinished work, but it also had all those short stories I’d heard of, which are very very good. I wish I’d had a best of instead, but I’m glad I got a chance to read her work.

So it looks like I read Eloisa James’s Three Weeks with Lady X, which is the seventh in the Desperate Duchesses series. I have no memory of the story at all, which is not surprising because I’ve had a fever this past week. As with most James books, I really enjoyed it. James is on my very short list of romance authors I don’t mind reading, because she doesn’t mind being anachronistic so that I don’t want to bleed from my ears reading about institutionalized sexism and “titillating” rape.

Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis series–also knows as Lilith’s Brood–is super trippy. It begins with our dying world, and aliens coming to save our race but only on their terms; and then it ends with a completely alien perspective. The middle book bridges this with a half-alien, half-human main character, but even then it started getting away from me. Butler is freakin’ amazing (I’m in a book club this year that only reads her books; you should totally join), and she makes alien things easy to read but difficult to deal with, if that makes sense. The plain language she uses makes the questions her works bring up weighty but answerable. I’m so excited for this book club, y’all. I’m also really excited to reread Xenogenesis.

Once upon a time, I took a class in literature set in the time of Cicero and Caesar. Robert Harris’s Imperium would’ve fit in there perfectly. But the syllabus was so huge we already had to cut it, and while Imperium was good, I enjoyed other books that are also mysteries set in the same time period more, like Steven Saylor’s Gordianus the Finder series. Still, this was a solid mystery that I read for a book club, and I liked it.

The Oatmeal’s Matthew Inman wrote a book called My Dog: The Paradox: A Lovable Discourse about Man’s Best Friend, which was as hilarious as Inman’s usual work. I think I borrowed it from my daughter.

Raina Telgemeier continues her sweet, middle-school level graphic novels with Sisters, a sequel of sorts to Smile. In this, Raina gets a little sister named Amara. I guess they are memoirs? Sort of? I’ve seen them in fiction and non-fiction, but not biography, so I have no idea. They are cute and you should buy them for kids.

Brad Meltzer’s I am Rosa Parks is part of a series and it’s a great series for kids. A picture book that tells Rosa Parks’s story, it also has a lot going on in the background, if I remember correctly. You can read just the main story, but the word balloons add to it. Which is to say, I never knew exactly what to read to the kids, so it wasn’t the best read-aloud, but I wanted something the little ones could follow. Also: Meltzer. Love Meltzer.

In that same book club where I read Imperium, I also read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, and The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball. The former was a good look at introversion, but Cain paints them with the same brush in such a way that sometimes I–an introvert who likes to be social, but does not gain any energy from it–felt a bit excluded and even offended. Cain seems to think she’s part of the special people, and that was a bit off-putting. Kimball, on the other hand, lost a star for being…I wish I could remember exactly, but I want to say kind of lark-y, like “Isn’t my life so PRECIOUS?” Or maybe it was the fact that her husband sounds like a “my way or the highway” jerk a lot of the time. But she left her city life for his dream, and it was a fascinating look at farming, something I don’t really think a lot about because all the farms I know grow exactly 1-2 things: cranberries or blueberries. I mean, that’s not true–there are a TON of farms in South Jersey–but since my mom worked for the cranberry farm, it’s the one I know best. I was fascinated by Kimball’s life, growing all sorts of things, killing all sorts of animals for food, and especially running a CSA. I was blown away by how easily she tossed aside her vegetarianism because a dude was hot, but um, okay. As someone who mostly deals with large-chain grocery stores, I found the whole book engrossing; as a vegan, some parts were more difficult than others. Recommended.

Finally (whew), I listened to the audiobook of Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking. She’s so great, and I’m always coming down on the side of audiobook when it comes to memoirs. This is one of the reasons. Loved it.

That’s it for the last of the four-star books. Only six five-star books to go. Guess how many are by Jennifer Crusie!

Best of 2015

January 2, 2016

Like I’d know. The ones I liked best, anyway.

I’m sick, which sucks. I can’t speak, which I’m sure everyone is very happy about. But I can TYPE. Neener.

So here are my favorite new reads of 2015, in no particular order, but grouped together by whether they came out in 2015 or before.

The 2015 Books

Spider-Man: Spider-Verse: Yeah, I realize I’m in a minority with this one. It’s a crossover and it’s not the best one and there’s a lot of repetition in it (chase, hide, run, hide, run, hide), but there’s a joy to it that Dan Slott always brings to his work. There’s Spider-Gwen, who surprised me with how invested I got in her so quickly. There’s Silk, whom people have called a Mary Sue, which is sexist for “a female character who does things well.” There’s Noir Spidey and Spider-Ham and movie Spideys and my old friend Miguel O’Hara, Spidey 2099. So many Spideys! A special nod to the head to its lead-in title Superior Spider-Man, where Doc Ock takes over Spidey’s body. Also super-fun.

The end of Fables: Bill Willingham proved himself a dick over and over again, but he mostly kept it to con attendances and the intro pages of the book. (Seriously: look at them. They’re just flooded with hatred for the female characters.) It’s sad to see Fables go, but it was time, and while there was a bit of a pacing issue with the last few books, the series wrapped up really well.

Sex Criminals is a book that writes about sex the way sexually active adults actually talk about and have it. Also, there is some sort of plot going on that I’m a little fuzzy on, but I have faith we’ll get to it at some point. The premise: two people who have the ability to literally stop time when they orgasm meet and fall in love, but not everyone is happy when they decide to rob a bank to save a library. The second book delves deeply into depression and still managed to make me laugh aloud almost more than any other book this year.

All-New X-Men crossed over with Miles Morales this year, so I’m all about that as well. I think the whole series has been very well done. In case you haven’t heard: the original X-Men are pulled into the present in a very stupid ploy to make sure that the current X-Men get a giant kick in the pants about all their recent actions. And then they’re stuck there, being innocent, wide-eyed optimistic X-Men in a post-grimdark world. Yeah. It’s great. Also, it means we get all the Jean Grey we want, which is all of it. Jean can be such a jerk, and yet she is still incredibly lovable and awesome. Aww yeah, Jean Grey.

Saga keeps being awesome too.

David Levithan had two great books this year: the companion to Will Grayson, Will Grayson, called Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story. It’s written as a script, which you’d think I’d hate, and yet here we are. He also wrote a companion to Every Day, called Another Day, which gives us Rhiannon’s perspective.  It gives us a look into why people don’t leave bad relationships (answer: they’re not bad ENOUGH), and that’s an important thing to have in YA.

Ms. Marvel keeps being awesome, and I’m about to read all the rest of the series and I am so excited. And by “about to,” I mean, “uh…in the next few weeks?” Beginning of the year is tough. I’m happy that everyone I’ve recommended Ms. Marvel to has fallen in love with her. Because she’s awesome.

This Side of Home by Renee Watson deals in part with gentrification, and that’s another topic I’m glad to have read about in YA this year. A strong debut for teen readers who want to deal with important questions written in simple, fast-paced prose.

Moira Fowley-Doyle’s The Accident Season is, I believe, another debut, but lyrical and haunting. I’m not usually a magical realism person (or big on reading about teens who smoke) but this book grabbed me and would not let go. For fans of Lauren Oliver and E. Lockhart.

Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell. Definitely the weirdest book I’ve had to explain to people this year: It’s a metanarrative about a book series within a book that’s a lot like Harry Potter but um, then the author decided to write her own version of the fake series from the book she wrote where a character writes fan fiction about it. Yeah. I’m told that Harry Potter fan fic readers will get even more out of the book than I did, and I already thought it was amazing. Not perfect, but amazing.

Mo Willems put out I Really Like Slop, a great book about trying new things. Elephant & Piggie 4ever.

Oh, and Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s One Day, The End: Short, Very Short, Shorter-Than-Ever Stories. Great for about four-year-olds and up, you get stories like “One day I ran away from home. Then I came back. The end.” Meanwhile the art directs you to what really happened between those words, which you can make up for your child or your child can make up for you.

Books I read in 2015 but weren’t published in 2015, also they are not rereads otherwise we’d be here all day

Rat Queens! Something I love, something my daughter loves. The me part is the weird part, though. I handed her the book and said, “This is about lesbians in a D&D world” and she was all over it. (It was a very limited description, but that’s how I hook her.) I, however, don’t care about fantasy, so this raunchy little tale surprised me with its ability to immediately win me over. I read the first issue last year and I’m super-excited for the next volume to finally get to me.

Neal Shusterman’s Undivided. The “dystology” ends as strongly as it began, or close enough that it makes no never-mind.

An Elephant & Piggie book I missed when I was out the librarian game: My New Friend is So Fun! Not every Elephant & Piggie books gets five stars from me, but almost all of them do.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl really impressed the heck out of me. I laughed so much. I liked Greg despite his flaws. I was impressed by how it shows illness as something that can be tangential to one’s life, because most books put it front and center. Good bookend for The Fault in Our Stars but I don’t feel like they should be compared so much as contrasted.

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead is maybe a misleading title for a very smart, very emotional book. Told in alternate perspectives–including one in second person–it’s primarily about a bunch of middle schoolers who are trying to figure themselves out. One girl was in an almost-fatal accident as a child and can’t stop wondering if there’s something about her life that’s meant to do. Another has a boy she likes who wants to trade pictures with her that grow increasingly daring (and increasingly hurt my stomach, so real). A boy is dealing with the loss of a family member. A teen is running away. It’s a wonderful book, and I need to see if my predecessor ordered it because if not, it’s going to be my first middle-school order of the year.

The Martian! Was as great as I was told, and as good as the movie but with more techie stuff in it.

Octavia Butler’s Unexpected Stories were very unexpected to me: I didn’t realize one was a prequel of sorts to Survivor. The other is more like the middle of the Patternist series, although it isn’t set there as far as I can tell.

Caroline Kepnes’s You is the book that should’ve gotten huge after Gone Girl, not the inferior The Girl on the Train. It’s dark, it’s smart, it has the best (and most terrifying) usage of social media I’ve seen in a book. You should totally read this book.

Joe Hill’s Locke & Key was a super-great comic series I should’ve read when it came out. (I think I got it confused with something else so kept passing it by.) It was my introduction to Stephen King’s son and will not be the last I’ve seen of him.

The Day the Crayons Quit is a super-cute picture book that also came out during that period I wasn’t a children’s librarian. A group of us read it aloud during story, and everyone from age 7 to age 38 enjoyed it very much.

Near Death is a comic about a hitman who has a near-death experience and decides he’s going to try to atone for his previous sins. Not everyone thinks this is a great idea. Strong first volume, slightly weaker conclusion, but I really liked it and its conflicted, flawed antihero.

Connie Willis’s Doomsday Book is a slow-burn of a time travel novel that takes place in near-future England and way-long-ago England. Time travel is used to study historical events, and university politics has caused one administrator to push what might be a dangerous trip just before the holidays. As historian Kivrin deals with a malfunction in the past, the present deals with trying to get her home and a big problem of their own. In part almost a mystery, the twists can be subtle and expectations are alternately fulfilled and subverted. So good.

Oh, and I think I got past where I’d originally read to in Peter David’s second X-Factor run and since my husband got me Marvel Unlimited, as soon as I knock out a few library books that were lingering from last year, that’s what I’m heading right back into. Aw yeah.