The First Rule of Punk, by Celia C. Pérez

The First Rule of Punk, by Celia C. Pérez

The First Rule of Punk, by Celia C. Pérez

From my Kirkus column about The First Rule of Punk, by Celia C. Pérez:

In addition to being an all-around smart, funny, Let’s Put On A Show friendship story, the parallels between Malú’s concerns about not being Mexican Enough and her mother’s own history and feelings on the subject AS WELL AS Queen Bee Selena’s struggles on a similar front are nuanced, empathetic, and honest. Seeing Malú discover that she’s not the only brown punk in the world, as she suddenly puts the pieces together and realizes that she doesn’t have to pick just ONE THING and her two worlds don’t have to clash, is a profoundly joyful moment.

Upstart Crow, Season One

Do you have a soft spot for Shakespeare? This show is for you.

Do you like David Mitchell? This show is for you.

Were you a Black Adder fan? This show is for you.

First things first: That's not a laugh track. Like Black Adder—and no surprise, because same writer—it is filmed in front of a live audience.

Upstart Crow, Season One

Upstart Crow, Season One

Beyond that! We blew through the first season over the course of two nights—and, despite having pretty different backgrounds/interest levels in Shakespeare's works and the man himself, we both really enjoyed it. 

There are a million jokes about the plays and about the historical figures and about the era and about OUR era—those were often the jokes that really, REALLY hit for me—and appropriately enough, the humor ranges from highbrow to lowbrow to no brow at all. ALSO, even beyond the references to the plays, there are moments in which they full-on perform short bits—sometimes slightly altered—from the actual plays. 

And sometimes it definitely feels like the sort of show that a high school English teacher would use to try to show less-than-enthusiastic students that SHAKESPEARE IS FUN, but... I don't know, Shakespeare IS fun. 

Anyway, at the moment, my favorites—beyond David Mitchell, who pretty much kills me in everything he's in—are Mark Heap as Robert Greene, Tim Downie at Kit Marlowe, and Helen Monks as Susanna Shakespeare. AND. According to this article, Emma Thompson and Noel Fielding both show up in the second season, so that'll be fun, WOOOOOOOOOOOO!

The Library of Fates, by Aditi Khorana

The Library of Fates, by Aditi Khorana

The Library of Fates, by Aditi Khorana

From my Kirkus column about The Library of Fates, by Aditi Khorana:

The Library of Fates is full of vibrant, gorgeous imagery—descriptions that provide a multi-sensory experience of sight and sound and smell and taste and color and texture—and once it gets going, it’s a fast-paced journey. Given her upbringing and background, Amrita’s reluctance to head out on that journey is entirely understandable, and seeing her come into her own—as well as make mistakes and then take responsibility for the fallout—over the course of that journey is emotionally satisfying.

Book sale jackpot!

Anastasia Krupnik, Anastasia On Her Own, Anastasia At This Address, Anastasia At Your Service, by Lois Lowry; The Fledgling, by Jane Langton; Catwings Return, Jane On Her Own, Wonderful Alexander and the Catwings, by Ursula K. Le Guin; Kneeknock Rise, by Natalie Babbitt; Letters From Camp, by Kate Klise; Death is a Lonely Business, by Ray Bradbury; The Talented Clementine, Clementine's Letter, Clementine and the Family Meeting, by Sara Pennypacker.

Anastasia Krupnik, Anastasia On Her Own, Anastasia At This Address, Anastasia At Your Service, by Lois Lowry; The Fledgling, by Jane Langton; Catwings Return, Jane On Her Own, Wonderful Alexander and the Catwings, by Ursula K. Le Guin; Kneeknock Rise, by Natalie Babbitt; Letters From Camp, by Kate Klise; Death is a Lonely Business, by Ray Bradbury; The Talented Clementine, Clementine's Letter, Clementine and the Family Meeting, by Sara Pennypacker.

Well, I guess technically it's a DONATION JACKPOT, because most of them are beat-up enough that they wouldn't have made it to the book sale, but either way, JACKPOT.

A few NOTES:

WHY DO I WANT TO GO BACKWARDS AND RE-READ INSTEAD OF READING ALL THE NEWER BOOKS I'M SUPPOSED TO BE READING???

(I know, I know: Because it's the end of the year, so comfort reading.)

But obviously, for ME, the big score is the Anastasia books.

As it's been a full ten years since I've read Anastasia Krupnik, I think it's time for a re-read of the WHOLE SERIES. I think maybe there are even a few later ones that I haven't read?

Looking into this sent me down a bit of a Cover Comparison Rabbithole.

BEHOLD:

Original cover: PERFECTION UNCHAINED Anastasia Krupnik hardcover

Original cover: PERFECTION UNCHAINED

Anastasia Krupnik hardcover

This one gets bonus points for looking EXACTLY LIKE PAST ME Anastasia Krupnik paperback

This one gets bonus points for looking EXACTLY LIKE PAST ME

Anastasia Krupnik paperback

SOLID EYEROLL WORK Anastasia Krupnik paperback

SOLID EYEROLL WORK

Anastasia Krupnik paperback

WHAT NO GAH Anastasia Krupnik paperback

WHAT NO GAH

Anastasia Krupnik paperback

*points to door* TAKE YOUR DENIM SHIRT AND GO Anastasia Krupnik paperback

*points to door*

TAKE YOUR DENIM SHIRT AND GO

Anastasia Krupnik paperback

THIS IS NOT A YA NOVEL Anastasia Krupnik paperback

THIS IS NOT A YA NOVEL

Anastasia Krupnik paperback

I feel that the first two are OBVIOUSLY the best ones, yes?

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World, by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World, by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World, by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale

From my Kirkus column about The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World, by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale:

The short version:

Squirrel Meets World is profoundly, cheerfully absurd; a hilarious, optimistic, heartwarming, delight of a book. It made me smile every time I turned a page, laugh out loud again and again, and even get a little teary by the end.

Book Two—2 Fuzzy, 2 Furious, LOL—is due out in March 2018!

Rise of the Jumbies, by Tracey Baptiste

Rise of the Jumbies, by Tracey Baptiste

Rise of the Jumbies, by Tracey Baptiste

From my Kirkus column about Rise of the Jumbies, by Tracey Baptiste:

You can certainly read Rise of the Jumbies without reading The Jumbies first—Baptiste gives enough information for new readers to catch up—but I’d suggest picking the first book up anyway. For one thing, it’s flat-out great: a smart, spooky, action-packed, emotionally satisfying adventure starring three-dimensional characters written with depth, nuance, warmth, and humor. But beyond that, it’s a profound pleasure to see the larger arc of the character development, relationships, and growth over the course of the two books—and that very much  includes Corinne’s relationship with her aunt Severine, the antagonist. While, again, this book does work as a stand-alone, I’m very much hoping for a third installment, especially on that front.

Beyond all of the strengths that it shares with its predecessor—and it very definitely shares all of those strengths—Rise of the Jumbies is an especial stand out in the honest, layered way that it talks about family.

Previously: The Jumbies.

Time for a re-read? Two Kindle deals.

Beauty, by Robin McKinley

Beauty, by Robin McKinley

Sabriel, by Garth Nix

Sabriel, by Garth Nix

It's been well over a decade—maybe more like two?—since I've read either Robin McKinley's Beauty or Garth Nix's Sabriel. If I'm going to do it, now is DEFINITELY the time, as they're both $1.99 at Amazon at the moment.

If you're not familiar, a bit more info on both:

Beauty, by Robin McKinley: Retelling of Beauty and the Beast from 1978; Robin McKinley's DEBUT NOVEL; on YALSA's 100 Best Books of 1950-2000 list*, among others.

Sabriel, by Garth Nix: First in the Old Kingdom series, originally published in 1995; about a girl who heads into Death's realm to find her father and either rescue him or lay him to rest. FEATURES A TALKING CAT, sort of; won both the Fantasy and Young Adult Aurealis Awards in 1995, among other accolades.

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*As I couldn't find the list elsewhere, that's a link to the NoveList database, so it's behind a paywall. Hopefully you have access to it via your local library?

The Devils You Know, by M.C. Atwood

The Devils You Know, by Megan Atwood

The Devils You Know, by Megan Atwood

From my Kirkus column about The Devils You Know, by M.C. Atwood:

Behind this somewhat bland cover is a book that is bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S. And by bananas, I mean a complete blast—familiar in a way that will scratch the horror itch, but still so unpredictable that it prompted me to say “WHAAAAAAAT” aloud. Multiple times. In a good way.

There have been dark legends about Boulder House for decades, but it’s no longer a place to avoid—now it’s a tourist destination. People visit in part for the architecture, but mostly for the collections of the architect—collections of dolls, of animatronics, of armor and taxidermy and multiple carousels. The seniors of Red River High are given a choice: field trip or finals. And, let’s be real—how many high school seniors are really going to choose finals?

Kat and Meg Conquer the World, by Anna Priemaza

Kat and Meg Conquer the World, by Anna Priemaza

Kat and Meg Conquer the World, by Anna Priemaza

From my Kirkus column about Kat and Meg Conquer the World, by Anna Priemaza:

Kat and Meg, meanwhile, features a couple of romances, but is much more about female friendship. Priemaza creates two very different young women—Kat, a new-to-town introvert who struggles with powerful panic attacks, and Meg, a lived-here-forever extrovert who is secretly worried that her ADHD will eventually drive away everyone she has ever loved or even liked—and throws them together via one of my favorite tropes of all-time: the year-long group assignment.

Priemaza does a wonderful job of showing how Kat and Meg support, complement, and inspire growth and change and understanding in one another; she draws parallel after parallel between their experiences and situations without ever being too on-the-nose; she allows them to, again and again and again, choose to put their friendship first.