This week @KirkusReviews!

I've almost got my head above water, so I'll be back to regularly posting here SOON. (I HOPE.)

But anyway, Kirkus!

On Monday, I wrote about some upcoming December releases, and today, I wrote about Josh Sundquist's memoir We Should Hand Out Sometime, which I had some rather large—though also largely personal—issues with:

I found the way that Sundquist talked about the women in his life as…troubling. He was not at all malicious, he didn’t express any opinion that we all haven’t heard a million times, he was being (I assume) honest about his interactions and thought process and logic, and I have no doubt that many, many readers will recognize their own history and their own perspectives in his story. So far, so good.

But.

Free download: 2014 PW Children's Starred Reviews Annual.

At PW

The second edition of our popular collection of all of the year's starred children's books is available now, for free. This year's edition features more than 350 starred reviews and interviews with Rick Yancey, Jandy Nelson, Ashley Bryan, Laurie Halse Anderson, Anthony Browne, and more. The cover is a special illustration by children's artist and animator Bob Shea.

Click on through to download a copy or to read it right in your browser.

Today @KirkusReviews...

...in honor of this, Thanksgiving week, I wrote about books I'm thankful to have read this year:

This is NOT a best of list—for one thing, I’ve still got an entire month of reading ahead of me, and as a first-round Cybils panelist, that means that in December, I’ll probably read three times more books than usual; for another, not all of the books on the list came out this year—but, as I said, a list of books that I’m feeling especially thankful to have read this year.

On the rise of YA in the Arabic world.

From the Guardian:

Paperback mysteries still sell, but in the last five years they have been overtaken by a new wave of well-produced Arabic YA. It hasn’t been easy, says Najjar. In her first young adult novel, Sitt al-Kol, which she intends to translate as Against the Tide, we follow the story of Yusra, a character based on a teen in Gaza who took over her father’s fishing boat in order to support the family.

The male-female relationships in Sitt al-Koll are all chaste, but that hasn’t stopped library and school buyers from complaining about the mild romance between Yusra and a boy called Salem, the supposed bad language (“sons of dogs”), and the father’s smoking. On the other hand, Najjar said, teen readers have asked for her to push harder, in particular to give more details about the relationship. “They were hoping I would marry them off at the end of the story.”

CLEARLY, IT'S RESEARCH TIME.

Related: 2014 finalists for the Etisalat Award for Arabic Children's Literature.

Best Books of 2014, Readings.

The titles on the Readings YA list that I've read are:

Why We Took The Car, by Wolfgang Herrdorf:

The dialogue—and I’m sure that the translator, Tim Mohr, deserves a lot of the credit for this—is FANTASTIC. It’s so authentic that it reads like a transcription of a conversation between 14-year-old boys: They banter, they argue, they digress, they joke, they show off; they are at moments awkward, silly, serious, wise. It’s a story about a boy from a broken family that pretends everything is fine. It’s a story about loneliness and abandonment. It’s a story about friendship, about kindness, about empathy, about confidence, about trust, about hope.

We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart:

Despite the dark storyline and the undercurrents of (and sometimes outright) ugliness on the part of various characters—as well as that always-uncomfortable experience of recognizing not-fun situations that you've seen play out in real life—it's a very PRETTY book. It's got a great rhythm, nice imagery, example after example of lovely phrases and sentences.

Click on through for the other titles—it's worth it, because it's not at all a Usual Suspects list (RAZORHURST, GIVE IT TO ME NOOOOOOOW)—and the other lists!

Previously: School Library Journal.

Previously: Publishers Weekly.

Related: 31 best YA books of the year (so far).

Related: Banks Street's 2014 lists.