Monday, September 6, 2010

Book Recommendations

(WARNING: This post is formatted all kinds of funky in Google Reader. Sorry. It looks pretty on my blog, at least.)

This may come as something of a surprise to you, but...I love books.

No, really. I love books. I don't talk much on here about what I read, but I thought today I'd give you some recommendations. I took all of the cover images from Amazon, so that whole "Click to LOOK INSIDE!" thing won't actually work. But if you click on the cover images it will take to you to their Amazon page where you can do just that.

First, we have my recommendations for older teens. I would say 16 and up, based on content.


Sweethearts, by Sara Zarr. I have yet to read anything else of hers, but I was struck by the writing in this book. It got me reading
contemporary YA again (where before I had mostly focused on paranormal). The story focuses on childhood, how it shapes who we become, and what we do to try and make ourselves the people we think we should be--even if that isn't always honest to others or ourselves. Beautiful, thought-provoking. Not an easy book, but not one that will rip you apart inside. The highest praise I can give a book is that it stays with me. This one did.





The Iron King, by Julie Kagawa. This was a genuinely fun read. When you read as many current paranormal books as I have been lately, they tend to bleed together. Julie's depiction of faeries stood out to me. It was engaging and interesting, with a beautifully horrific fantasy world lovingly created (and heavily researched!) for the reader. I must have really liked it, because I'm getting deja vu just writing this recommendation...








If I Stay, by Gayle Forman. First of all, I'm not crazy about the new cover treatment they gave this book. The hardcover was beautifully simple--so evocative. This looks like pretty much everything else out there. I get why they did it. I'm just sad they felt the need to.

That being said, this book. THIS BOOK. Oh my gosh. It has more "mature" content than books I usually recommend and is not for younger readers, but it was a powerful book. Another that has never left me. So perfectly crafted and so brilliantly told the fact that there is a follow-up novel coming out soon actually make me nervous. I don't want anything to change how I felt about Mia's story. One of my all-time favorites. I kinda worship Gayle Forman.

And now onto middle grade books. I know I've mentioned it before, but the first novel I ever wrote was middle grade. (Umm, in theory. In reality it was not actually anything. Turns out I totally suck at writing middle grade--but it may just be my favorite to read. I really wish I could write it!)

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling, by Maryrose Wood. I loved this book. It had all of the charm of Lemony Snicket, without the mean-spirited, dark undercurrents. (For the record, I loved the Lemony Snicket series...but I would hesitate to give it to young children.) Adorable, clever, delightful read.











The Neverending Story, by Michael Ende. Okay, stop. Stop it right now. You're singing that horrible song from the awesomely cheesy movie in your head, aren't you? Fine. Nothing against the movie ("But I've gotta keep my feet on the ground!"), but it really did this book a disservice. The book is interesting and smart. It borders on philosophy in many parts. But in spite of the fact that it is a thinking book, it's also a fantasy--a vividly expressed one at that, entertaining as a child's book and intriguingly deep as an adult read. Love, love, love this book.






Three Tales of My Father's Dragon, by Ruth Stiles Gannett. I vaguely remembered this book from when I was a little girl and picked it up at the library to read to my kids. They adored it. Absurd, charming, fun. Definitely a great read-aloud for very young children just starting to develop an attention span for longer stories.










And finally, my newest find. Brixton Brothers: The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity, by Mac Barnett. Okay, did you read that title? How could you NOT want to read the book? It is genuinely hilarious. Adam Rex's illustrations are pitch-perfect, and it's one of those books that, while you're reading, you get annoyed if no one is in the room with you because darnitall that funny line needs to be read aloud! The start of a new series, a must-own for my personal library and yours, too, if you have young kids. A loving update (and slight parody) of the Hardy Boys books, I can't recommend it highly enough.


And, speaking of Mac Barnett, stay tuned tomorrow to read an interview in which he was kind enough to ignore my flagrant dishonesty and underhanded trickery. Also, he's funny.

My favorite.

21 comments:

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great suggestions of good books. I loved The Iron King and am going to read it again it was so good.

Just finished your book too. It was so awesome. I'm definitely reading it again.

Lydia Sharp said...

Thanks for the great recs! I totally LOVED The Iron King, too.

Harmony B. said...

IRON KING FTW.

....Just saying. lol.

April (BooksandWine) said...

Turn around, look at what you see! In her eyes, a mirror of your dreams. WHOAAAAAA

I could not resist. I love both the book and the film of The Neverending Story.

Fabulous list. :-)

Annette Lyon said...

More books for my giant TBR list . . .

Thanks for the reocmmendations!

Jessica Secret said...

The Iron King and If I Stay are two of my favorites!

Michelle said...

I've read both Sweethearts and If I Stay and they are AMAZING. Two of my favourites. :)

Sara Kankowski DeSabato said...

It makes me so happy that you mentioned the my father's dragon trilogy! I teach first grade and I often read these books with my higher readers and I always find myself enjoying them as much as they do. They're definitely a great read for a young precocious reader. Another great chapter book series is The Frog Prince by Donna Jo Napoli. They always make me cry.

lotusgirl said...

I'll definitely have to check out these recs. The only one of these that I've read is If I Stay. I loved it. It was so thought provoking and engrossing and has stayed with me. Like you I worry about a sequel ruining it.

Jessica Love said...

Mac Barnett is also very cute. Yeah, I said it.

I loved both Sweethearts and If I Stay!

Shari said...

Sara Zarr rocks! I've read all three of her books. She is amazing. My favorite will always be Story of a Girl. Thanks for the other recommendations!

Debbie Barr said...

I ADORE Sara Zarr! She was the author for my workshop group this summer, and she is one amazing woman. Her books are just beautiful, too.

And "My Father's Dragon" was one of my favs growing up. I'm hoping to read them all to my future kids, because they are just wonderful.

ali said...

Great list of books Kiersten. I've only read Story of a Girl by Sara, but I loved it. Want to check out Sweethearts even more now. And If I Stay is at the top of my to-read list.

Haven't even heard of most of the others, so I'm gonna go check them out!

Mariah Irvin said...

I've had THE IRON KING and IF I STAY on my TBR list for a while now... I guess this is a sign I should!

Claire Dawn said...

If I stay has been in my Amazon Cart for a while. I have to get through the 20 odd books in my house before I get it. lol!

Steph Su said...

Funny, because I was just thinking of the My Father's Dragon trilogy not too long ago! Great list.

Ishta Mercurio said...

These look GOOD - thanks, Kiersten! My son is 7, and he would really like the middle-grades you mentioned.

Dara said...

Love, love, love The Iron King. Currently reading the newest one, The Iron Daughter, which is just as good and horrific :P

If there really were a faerie realm, I'm guessing it would be fairly close to the creepiness of her book and yours too. Faeries would so not be the cute Tinkerbell types; they're pretty frightening mythical creatures. Why else would there be so many old Scottish/Irish remedies to make sure they didn't come around? :P

BookChic said...

Sara Zarr's books are amazing- I've read all three and can't wait for more. If I Stay was great and I'm so excited for the sequel! Same with The Iron King. Great recs!

Holly Ruggiero, Southpaw said...

You were right; reader does strange things to this post. Thanks for the hot tips on good reads.

Lale said...

I *love* my father's dragon! I was actually trying to get my little sister to read it the other day. I don't remember much other than loving it, and something about orange peels...