so many books, so few blog posts...

I've read a lot these past few months and posted hardly at all, so this will be an inelegant pile-up of mini-reviews...


Heart and Soul by Kadir Nelson
If I'd only posted this back in December when I read it, then I'd have beat the Coretta Scott King award by predicting that this was going to win.  This is an entirely African-American-centric retelling of American history, from the perpective of an elderly woman.  It's a fascinating and moving tale of how African Americans have contributed to the history of the United States, and it's illustrated with gorgeous paintings.  Definitely worth reading as a supplement and/or corrective to your average history textbook.

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos
Gantos finally won the Newbery!  This is a small-town charmer of a book, with a misfit hyperactive boy protagonist who learns less about how to fit and more about how to not fit comfortably.  Personally, I still like some of his other books better.  But it's a good old fashioned read with much hilarity, and I'm glad Gantos won.

Divergent by Veronica Roth
Gripping futuristic dystopia about a society where you have to choose your faction affiliation at the age of 16.  But even then, it's not guaranteed.  The factions each have their prescribed characteristics, and studying and thinking about these brings me the exact same pleasure as those old Meyers-Briggs personality tests or the enneagram ideas.  Categories and prescribed behavior aside, the badass protagonist Beatrice makes this all worthwhile.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Like it!  This was a Blue Ribbon, and I expected to love it, but actually it was just a fine read.  The protagonist is intelligent and yet convincingly ignorant about her own origins and the multiple worlds she inhabits.  Initially set in Prague, Karou is an art student who fills her sketchbook with the secret world that no one in the human world can know is real.  She borrows wishes from that world sometimes, wishes that have made her hair grow blue.  But who she really is appears to be complicated by fearsome secrets.

Matched
At an appointed date, the computer spits our your match.  And that's it, you're mated for life.  Cassia is mated to her neighbor Xander, and all is well until she puts the data card into the reader and sees another face flicker past, another boy she knows.  Curiosity leads her into more conversations, and it's difficult to tell if the all-controlling society is actually willing her to betray her betrothed or if there's some massive glitch in the system, perhaps even a secret rebellion of some kind.

What We Keep is Not Always What Will Stay
Angie talks to a statue in the basement of the church, Saint Felix, who has been de-sainted at some point in the recent past.  She needs to talk, because her mom and stepfather Ben are at odds.  But suddenly the statue is gone, and in its place is a homeless guy, also named Felix, who opens Angie's eyes to the

The Fault in Our Stars
John Greene does it again, only possibly better than ever this time.  This is what happens when brainy kids get cancer... they feel it, but they also overthink it.  Most compelling here are the characters, who are real kids in pain and suffering trying to find ways to accept their circumstances and live life anyhow.

Girl of Fire and Thorns
This one starts with the marriage and being whisked away in a caravan, where this royal princess discovers that she can fight.  And she needs to fight, because the prince to whom she has been married has not yet told the kingdom the news.

Anya's Ghost
Finding a ghost in a well and taking her finger bone home seems like such a good idea, at first.  This graphic novel makes fantastically creepy use of illustrations to depict what happens when a new friendship goes wrong fast.

Also read two memoirs...

Blood, Bones, and Butter
Raw, tough, a little heartbreaking, makes becoming a chef look like such hard work.

No Cheating, No Dying: I Had a Good Marriage, Then I Tried to Make It Better
Lovely, exactingly honest, and takes the kind of true look at life that is so refreshing to read.