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.
I flew through WHAT I SAW AND HOW I LIED by 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 THE BOOK THIEF by 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, THE TRUE MEANING OF SMEKDAY by 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?