Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Book Recommendations

I've been reading lots of good stuff, but I haven't posted any book recommendations for months. I'll make up for lost time and recommend three books in one post.

These three books deserve more than recommendations. Each one should receive something special. Hang on to your spleens because you're about to witness something very exciting--keeping in mind that exciting is kind of a subjective word. I'm about to award each book the highly coveted
Dawn's Choice Award.

"Highly coveted" might be a stretch since my son and I just invented the award today, but you don't want to rain on my parade by focusing on that, do you bloggy friends? Besides, for all we know, authors around the world will be itching to have one of these puppies slapped on their covers by this time next year. Or not, but we can have fun with this anyway.

Moving on...

I flew through
Judy Blundell.

Here's the description from the back of the book:

When Evie's father returned home from World War II, the family fell back into its normal life pretty quickly. But Joe Spooner brought more back with him than just war stories. Movie-star handsome Peter Coleridge, a young ex-
GI who served in Joe's company, shows up, and Evie finds herself falling for him, ignoring the secrets that surround him...until a tragedy occurs that shatters her family and breaks her life in two.

As she begins to realize that almost everything she believed was really a lie, Evie must get to the heart of the deceptions and choose between loyalty to her parents and feelings for the man she loves. Someone will have to be betrayed. The question is...who?

The story, the characters, the language, the authenticating details--all of it sucked me into the pages. I also think it has a gorgeous cover and hooky title.

I mentioned
Markus Zusak while I was reading it last summer, but it deserves more than a mention.

The blurb from the back:

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

By her brother's graveside,
Liesel Meminger's life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Grave Digger's Handbook, left there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordion-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor's wife's library, wherever there are books to be found.

But these are dangerous times. When Liesel's foster family hides
a Jew in their basement, Liesel's world is both opened up and closed down.

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.

Oh. My. Gosh. This book is so powerful and unique. I don't want to say too much because I don't want to give anything away. THE BOOK THIEF is on my list of all-time favorites. I think it's a masterpiece.

While the first two books are YA,
Adam Rex is middle grade.

The description from the book:

It all starts with a school essay.

Twelve-year-old Gratuity "Tip" Tucci is assigned to write five pages on "The True Meaning of Smekday" for the National Time Capsule contest, and she's not sure where to begin: when her mom started telling everyone about the messages aliens were sending through a mole on the back of her neck? Maybe on Christmas Eve, when huge, bizarre spaceships descended to Earth, and aliens--called the Boov--abducted her mother? Or when the Boov declared Earth a colony, renamed it "Smekland" (in honor of glorious Captain Smek), and forced all Americans to relocate to Florida via rocketpod?

Grautity's story is much, much bigger than the assignment. It involves her unlikely friendship with a renegade Boov mechanic named J.Lo, a futile journey south to find Gratuity's mother at the Happy Mouse Kingdom, a cross-country road trip in a hovercar called Slushious, and an outrageous plan to save Earth from yet another alien invasion.

Fully illustrated with "photos," drawings, newspaper clippings, and comic sequences, this is a hilarious, perceptive, genre-bending novel by a remarkable new talent.

(I should probably mention Adam Rex, while incredibly talented, is no longer a new talent. This book came out in 2007. Coincidentally, none of the books I'm mentioning today are new releases.)

My son read THE TRUE MEANING OF SMEKDAY shortly after it was published. He loved it and told me to read it. It's one of the funniest books I've ever read. You know how people often write LOL to say something is funny even if it's not truly
laugh out loud funny? This book made me laugh out loud several times.

So there we have it. The first winners of the Dawn's Choice Award. Brings tears to the ol' eyes, doesn't it?

P.S. - Note to Ms. J.K. Rowling: If you are reading this post, you can rest easy. Each of your fine books has earned the D.C.A. as well.

What about you? What have you read in the last few months that really stood out?


Susan R. Mills said...

Great choices! You did good. I love the seal of approval too. I think it might catch on. :)

Kelly said...

Ha! Love Dawn's Choice Awards!
I loved Rex's Smekday. Rex can always crack me up.
I have The Book Thief and is on my To Read pile!!

Becky Levine said...

You've got two of my favorites up there. Book Thief is on my I Know I Should But Haven't Yet list! :)

Patti said...

Book Thief is still in my TBR pile. Great other choices as well.

Travener said...

The Book Thief sounds like it's right up my alley. (But not because I like to steal books.)

Samantha Bennett said...

Hahaha, I love the grin on the award! So amazing. I highly recommend The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen. Such a great YA read. :)

Molly Hall said...

Ooh, thanks for the good suggestions, Dawn! I read THE FOLK KEEPER by Franny Billingsley and it was astonishingly good. I loved it. I learned so much about writing from it. She has a new book coming out soon that I can't wait for.

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

Awesome award! You crack me up. I'm making it my new goal to win one of those someday. :)


Jackee said...

Those sounds like reads right up my alley! (And I love your DCA button--it's hilarious.)

I read the recently released Starcrossed by Elizabeth Bunce and absolutely loved it. It looks like maybe it's one you'd love too!


Dawn Simon said...

Thanks, Susan! ;)

Hi, Kelly! I loved SMEKDAY! I haven't read Adam Rex's FAT VAMPIRE yet, but it's on my list.

Becky, I have an I Know I Should But Haven't Yet list, too. I'm guessing we all do. :)

Patti, I bet you'll love it!

Travener, I knew what you meant. ;)

Samantha, a cheesy expression was required for such an award. ;) Thanks for the recommendation!

Molly, I read THE FOLK KEEPER. It was good! Now I'm wondering about her new book...

Amy, you are a kind soul. I knew you had fabulous taste when I met you... ;)

Jackee, I haven't read STARCROSSED yet. Thanks for letting me know about it!

Laura Pauling said...

During banned book week I read Crank and absolutely loved the story, the character and the writing!

KLM said...

I honestly haven't been reading much because I've been writing and revising a lot and that seems to eat into my reading time. I have been meaning to read The Book Thief forever but I must admit, I have an aversion to all things Nazi-related so it's hard to overcome that.

I just wanted to say that someday I hope to get the coveted DCA for my novel. Assuming all goes well. Hey, maybe I could even be the DCA of Year Award Winner, like, the most favoritest of the favorites. You know, when you do your year-end wrap up and clip show in December.

Anonymous said...

I read Borderline by Allan Stratton and Chanda's Secrets by Allan Stratton. Both were excellent.

BTW--I read The Book Thief last year and loved it. I don't know why it took me so long to pick it up and read it.

Hema P. said...

Fabulous choices, Dawn! I've heard about The Book Thief quite a bit in the last few months, but haven't had the chance to read it. Your review makes me want to, right away! :-)

Hema P. said...

I meant to mention what I read recently, but my trigger-happy finger pressed "post" the comment :). I read Lois Lowry's "Number the Stars" recently, and it was a fabulous and fast read. The setting of this book is Nazi-occupied Austria, incidentally!

Dawn Simon said...

Laura, I haven't read CRANK yet, but I've read BURNED. Ellen Hopkins is so talented--and she's really nice. She led a small group I was in when I attended the Big Sur Children's Writing Workshop.

Kristen, the part about the year-end wrap up and clip show cracked me up. :) Good luck with the writing and revising!

Paul, thanks for the recommendations. I just Googled them and they sound great! I felt the same way with THE BOOK THIEF: Why'd I wait so long to read this?!

Hema, I think it will wow you. Yes, Lois Lowry is super talented.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for sharing these books. I feel like reading all of them!

Recently its been My Sister's Keeper, The well and the Mine, and Esperanza Rising.