Monday, December 15, 2014

Class of 2014 YA Superlative Blogfest: Day 1--Head of the Class

The Class of 2014: YA Superlative Blogfest (hosted by Jessica LoveTracey NeithercottAlison Miller, and Katy Upperman) runs Monday, December 15th through Thursday, December 18th and will highlight favorite books published in 2014 using a variety of fun superlative categories. See the host's pages for the categories of each day and to join the link-up!

My 2014 Reads This Year: 

Head of the Class 

Favorite Dystopian--Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau

I'm seeing some conflicting release dates for this one but at least one was in 2014, so let's go with it.   I think the dystopian deluge has let up a bit, but I did read this one and I really enjoyed it. It's pretty standard dystopian fare, plot-wise, but I thought it was well-executed and it held my attention even though I've read more than my fair share of dystopians over the last few years.

Favorite Science Fiction--Control by Lydia Kang

This is technically a 2013 release, but it came out after the YA Superlative Blogfest last year so I'm including it.  This is a science fiction that's heavy on the science in a totally fascinating way.  Her main character lives with a chronic condition known as Ondine's Curse--a real thing, in which your body doesn't remember to breathe on its own--and scientific research plays a large role in the story. (If you don't know Lydia, check out her Medical Mondays archives--she's answered a ton of medical questions for writers, and all the info is here.)

Favorite Fantasy--Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

I guess this is where I'd class this?  I don't need to tell you about this book, you already know.  But it brought me boundless joy and much agony.  (There was a scene not too far in when I thought I had finally answered the question of "Which Raven Boy do I love the most?" because something was just so adorable...and then, like clockwork, the magnitude of the terrible things that character was experiencing became apparent and my heart broke into a million tiny pieces.  MAGGIE.  YOU DID THAT ON PURPOSE. This is why I love you.)

Favorite Contemporary--Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

 I had this in my classroom library but hadn't gotten around to it until recently, when a student read and recommended it.  I'm so glad I made time for it because I loved it.  It's a great, slowly-unspooling romance between Emi, a brilliant young set designer learning the ropes in Hollywood, and Ava, a baker-actress-Home Depot employee with a mysterious past.  I love Emi and Ava; I also love their respective best friends, Charlotte and Jamal.  Emi's dedication to her career is fantastic and engrossing, and I love the glimpses we get of her family as well. 

**Honorable mentions to Push Girl and One, Two, Three--both awesome contemporaries about trauma and recovery, by the extremely talented and hard-working Jessica Love (and Chelsie Hill) and Elodie Nowodazkij, respectively!  I haven't been able to stop myself from a little bit of "I knew them when" whenever I recommend those titles to students!**

Favorite Historical Fiction--Conversion by Katherine Howe

I guess I can count this here--part of the book takes place in Salem, MA during the witch trials.  I got this book through my Oblong Insider subscription--it's a really fun YA book-of-the-month style subscription plan, tailored to your interests, and so far they have chosen very well indeed!  Conversion imagines parallels between a (real!) mysterious condition that caused symptoms in a large number of girls in one small town (not far from where I live) just a few years ago, and the mass hysteria of the Salem witch trials.  I couldn't put it down!

Favorite Mystery--We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

  Not so much a "whodunit" as a "what happened?" but it certainly had the suspense and twists of a mystery!  This is another one I don't think I have to say much about--but if you haven't read it, what are you waiting for?

I actually wept--like, not just teary eyes, but active crying-- with joy at the end of this one.  Is there a better criteria for a great romance?  I loved Isla and Josh but the return appearances from some old friends made this one of my very favorite reads of the year.  (And BOY do my students agree; this series has gotten more check-outs this year than the rest of my library combined, I think.)

Favorite Paranormal--Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan

I loved this series so, so much.  It was funny, it was sweet, it was heartbreaking, it was beautiful.  And it was hella feminist.  Paranormal is not generally my jam but there's no resisting the Lynburn Legacy series.  I don't care if you think you will like a book with sorcery.  If you enjoy feeling human emotions you will like this series.  Trust me.

Favorite Genre Bender--Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (memoir/poetry)

I finished this book at midnight last night--a school night, sorry kids, but it was just that kind of book.  This memoir in verse about Jacqueline Woodson's childhood in the '60s and '70s could go in the "historical" category, although suddenly the moments in which the molasses pace of America's progress toward equality becomes apparent feel startlingly current.  It could go under poetry, but it's more like a long song that hums in your head when you set it down.  And it's memoir but it's so inviting that it feels more like a storyteller leaning in to whisper to her audience than a slickly packaged life.  This is a gorgeous, necessary book and I'm so glad it's part of the conversation right now.


  1. OMG you recommend Push Girl to your students?! I love you forever!

    And, yeah, I agree with so many of your choices. It's impossible to pick a favorite Raven Boy (although I have managed to do it), and that consent scene between Kami/Jared in unmade?! Yowza.

    1. Duh! Of course I do!

      And I had totally forgotten about that scene from Unmade. God I love Sarah Rees Brennan.

  2. :) AWWW, I`m like Jessica on this :) Thank you so much for recommending One, Two, Three to your students!!!

    I have to check out CONVERSION, it sounds very interesting!!

    1. Of course! Gotta spread the love :)

      Conversion was great! Definitely give it a whirl. (Also check out that Times article I linked in the description of Conversion--the real story is just as fascinating.

  3. I actually only have a couple of picks that overlap with yours. Also, how have I not finished Sarah Rees Brennan's trilogy yet?! I asked for the 3rd book for Christmas, so fingers crossed. I think I might be the only person on the planet who didn't love ISLA. :-/ I really wanted to--geez, did I want to--but it felt like it didn't match the other two. Ah well. Well, you definitely have some books here that I need to put on my TBR list or actually get around to reading the ones that are already on there. Thanks for the recs! :D

    1. Isla was a solid four-star read for me until the characters from the other books arrived. Isla and Josh are probably my least favorite of the three couples, but I enjoyed their story--I just LOVED the ending enough to push it into the top spot here.

  4. I need to read UNMADE! I loved the first book, but am so bad at sequels that I haven't read the others. Kami's dad alone should make me buy this.

    1. Yeah, I have a ton of series where I read book one (or even books one and two) and just...lost track of them. I think I'm heading for a serious series binge, either this break or spring break.


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