Saturday, September 29, 2012

Get Ready! Get Set! CYBILS!

Let the nominations begin! October 1st - October 15th = Two weeks of of opportunities for you to nominate your favorites in children's literature. There are nine different genres and you can make a nomination in each of the nine. But only ONE, so choose wisely.

The CYBILS website has all the information you need to know, so click on the link and...
Get Ready! Get Set! CYBILS!

Blog you later!

Ali B.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Wicked and the Just

I finished The Wicked and the Just. The fact that I finished it while waiting for a throat culture and a migraine shot thankfully did not diminish my enjoyment. And, I believe that my willingness to read this remarkable book while in eye-twitching pain should serve as testament to the quality of the writing and the story. Folks, I've gotta really love what I'm reading to read it through a migraine.

J. Anderson Coats is the author of The Wicked and the Just, and she did her homework. This well-researched work of historical fiction takes place in Wales during the thirteenth century. It's about two young women, one Welsh and one British, who live two very different lives in a Caernarvon, a settlement in Wales ruled by the King of England.

The story is told in alternating points of view - Cecily, a spoiled English brat, and Gwinny, a poor Welsh servant. You don't have to delve far into the book to realize that there is more to the headstrong protagonists than the roles they play. Cecily can be just and Gwinny can be wicked.

When Welsh rebels attack the British townspeople of Caernarvon in a violent uprising, Cecily is forced to serve her servant, and Gwinny becomes the master. How they adjust to these new roles is what made me fall in love with these strong and multidimensional heroines. The plot is fascinating from a historical standpoint, but it is the character development that drives this story.

I recommend The Wicked and the Just to history buffs and lovers of great characters.

Blog you later!

Ali B.

Monday, September 17, 2012

I'm judging the CYBILS

I am absurdly excited to announce that I have been chosen as a first round judge (panelist) for the 2012 CYBILS. C-Y-B-I-L-S stand for Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards. I will be a panelist in the Middle Grade Fiction category. My favorite! (insert squeal of delight)

What does it mean to be a judge for the CYBILS? For me it means that I get to spend three months (October-November-December) happily digging out from under an avalanche of books. Great books! Not-so-Great books! Sad books! Happy books! Funny books! Serious books! Long books! Short books! Books! Books! Books! I'm dedicated to reading (or at least partially in some cases) about 150 Middle Grade books. BOOKS!

How do books get nominated? Anyone can nominate a book. But you can only nominate one book per genre. Eligible books are those published after the last contest ended and before closing of nominations for this year. Nominations will be taken between October 1 - 15, 2012. Check back here for a nomination link on October 1st. Wow, I wrote nomination a lot in this paragraph.

The finalists will be announced on January 1st and the winners on February 14th.

Did I mention that I'm a judge for the CYBILS?

Blog you later!

Ali B.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Between Shades of Gray

"Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother's was worth a pocket watch."

Between Shades of Gray is the harrowing story of Lina, a Lithuanian girl, separated from her father and deported from her homeland along with her mother and younger brother. Their crime? Being anti-Soviet.

Abused, starved, and broken, Lina is taken to Siberia along with countless other prisoners, to live out their sentences as slaves. Given little to survive on and with no access to medical care, many of the deportees did not survive the cruel cold of an arctic winter.

Those that did survive were forced to work for the Soviets for no pay and meager rations. If they couldn't work, they were murdered or had to rely on the kindness of others to carry on.

Ruta Sepetys is the author of Between Shades of Gray. The story is a personal one. Sepetys is the daughter of a Lithuanian refugee, and her book is a tribute to the hundreds of thousands of people who suffered and died when Stalin purged the Baltic countries of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

This summer I had the pleasure of hearing Ruta Sepetys speak at the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators' conference. She was being honored with The Golden Kite Award. Sepetys is not only a gifted writer, but a charismatic and inspiring speaker.

Her message above the signature on my copy is simple: Hope. Love. Freedom! Thank you, Ruta, for your story. Lina is a character for the ages.

Blog you later!

Ali B.