March 16, 2016 by Kiersi
Title: THE LAST BOY AT ST. EDITH’S
Author: Lee Gjertsen Malone
Category & Genre: Middle-grade Contemporary
Publish Date: Out now!
Blurb: Jeremy is the last boy remaining at an all-girls school.
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥ out of 5
I received an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
To me, one of the greatest struggles faced by children’s fiction is the limiting dichotomy of “boy books” versus “girl books.” Especially in the middle-grade sphere, this strict gender exclusivity—most noticeably on the matter of boys being rarely asked or required to read narratives told by girl characters—leaves out a whole slew of important perspectives to younger readers. When our media is dominated by male stories featuring token female characters, the female perspective becomes, naturally, tokenized; and by extension, rendered unimportant. (more…)
Category Book Reviews | Tags: boy books,gender,Lee Gjertsen Malone,middle-grade,private school,The Last Boy at St. Edith's | 6 Comments
March 8, 2016 by Kiersi
Title: THE HOUR OF THE BEES
Author: Lindsay Eagar
Category & Genre: Middle-grade Magical Realism
Publish date: March 8, 2016
Blurb: Carol has to spend her summer on her grandfather’s ranch—when strange things start happening.
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥ out of 5
Carolina didn’t know quite what she was getting into when she went with her parents, sister, and brother down to her Grandpa Serge’s sheep ranch. Carol’s skipping out on a whole summer full of having fun with her friends just to help her parents clean out the house, and move the obstinate Serge into a home. Worse, her dad—who spent the last twelve years estranged from his own father—is putting the place up for sale against Grandpa Serge’s will. (more…)
Category Book Reviews | Tags: book reviews,Hour of the Bees,Lindsay Eagar,magical realism,MG,middle-grade | 1 Comment
February 23, 2016 by Kiersi
Title: THE REMARKABLE JOURNEY OF CHARLIE PRICE
Author: Jennifer Maschari
Genre: Fantasy Middle-grade
Publish date: Febrary 23, 2016
Blurb: After the death of their mother, Charlie and his sister Imogen discover a secret world where Mom is still alive.
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥ out of 5
I received an ARC of this beautiful little novel in exchange for an honest review, and it is my absolute pleasure to extoll all its many virtues.
In some ways, CHARLIE PRICE is about grief and mourning. In some ways, it’s about bravery and adventure. And in some ways, it’s about denial, hope, and redemption—and the resilience of the human heart in the face of all of it. Tackling these subjects in the middle-grade sphere can be a challenge, but Maschari writes with incredible wit, humor, and kindness. (more…)
Category Book Reviews | Tags: fantasy,Jennifer Maschari,MG,middle-grade,new releases,The Remarkable Journey of Charlie Price | No Comments
January 5, 2016 by Kiersi
Title: PAPER WISHES
Author: Lois Sepahban
Genre: Historical Middle-grade
Publish date: January 5, 2016
Blurb: A moving debut novel about a girl whose family is relocated to a Japanese internment camp during World War II–and the dog she has to leave behind.
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥ out of 5
I had the immense privilege of reading an ARC of PAPER WISHES in exchange for my honest review. But I want to warn you before you pick up this book—which you will, if you know what’s good for you—to have a big pile of tissues ready.
I don’t make these kinds of statements lightly. Over the course of this wee little novel, I sobbed probably five or six times—big, gulping sobs, the kind that sends big, fat, raindrop-tears streaming down your face like Alice about to drown herself. That kind of sobbing. (more…)
Category Book Reviews | Tags: debut,dogs,Japanese internment,Lois Sepahban,middle-grade,Paper Wishes | 3 Comments
June 24, 2014 by Kiersi
When I first saw ads for Disney’s Maleficent, my first thought was: Duh. Of course. Disney’s capitalizing on an existing property by retelling it from the villain’s point of view, with the necessary added bonus of lots of expensive special effects!
So, yeah, I was both super thrilled and totally underwhelmed by the idea of Maleficent. Because, see… I love bad guys.
I mean, boy, do I LOVE bad guys. You have no idea. (more…)
Category Commentary | Tags: antagonists,Disney,fairytale retelling,Maleficent,movie review,movies,villains | 5 Comments
May 26, 2014 by Kiersi
It’s been interesting watching the #YesAllWomen hashtag unfold on Twitter. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I think Gina Denny summed it up best:
Every time there is a heavily publicized act of violence against women just for being women, there is an inevitable backlash of “Hey, come on. Not all men…”
“Not all men are jerks.”
“Not all men treat women that way.”
“Not all men are violent psychopaths.”
And the resounding answer is always: DUH.
We all know that NOT ALL MEN ARE ______________. We know. But the reason we need to talk about violence against women is because even though not all men are violent psychopaths, all women have to learn the difference between a violent psychopath and a regular guy.
She’s so absolutely, terribly right. At the age of twelve, I had my first realization that a man I’d thought was just another person could actually be a threat to me. It was someone my family knew–someone we trusted. I’ll never forget that moment of clarity when he sidled up really close to me on a bench outside the Rec Center and started breathing down my neck. Some deep, dark instinct rose to the surface inside me and I thought, “This could be bad. This could get ugly. I need to go, now.”
And I did. (more…)
Category Commentary, Personal | Tags: #YesAllWomen,Adventure Time,Fionna and Cake,rape culture,sexism,strong female characters | 5 Comments
April 21, 2014 by Kiersi
Since I started writing YA books back in 2010, the space in my life for non-children’s books continues to shrink. I want to stay on top of my industry, to support the great literature being turned out by my contemporaries, and to learn and grow as a children’s book writer.
So for a few years, I didn’t touch a book written for audiences over 21. I kept my head inside YA, and then MG (when I started branching out as a writer), and NA.
Until recently. My book club picked up Margaret Atwood’s dystopian MaddAddam series (containing Oryx & Crake, The Year of the Flood, and MaddAddam), and boy, was it a learning experience. I think there’s a lot missing from the YA dystopian body of work, despite how saturated it is; very few of our YA dystopians even come close to highlighting in the same stark, frank detail the problems our society will inevitably face in the future as Atwood does. Even now that we’re on the tail end of the dystopian fad in YA, I still fail to see a single YA novel that addresses corporate gluttony and food scarcity (the inevitable future of our over-populated, capitalist society) with the same honesty as the MaddAddam series. (more…)
Category Commentary | Tags: children's books,Ken Kesey,kidlit,MaddAddam,Margaret Atwood,pacing,Sometimes A Great Notion,YA | 1 Comment
September 25, 2013 by Kiersi
It’s Banned Book Week! While I’d normally blog about hoping my own books get banned by fidgety parents someday (all publicity is good publicity, amirite?), I was encouraged by my fellow bloggesses over at YA Stands to write about a banned book for my semi-monthly blog post.
So, I picked The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman.
Until a friend of our family back home told me he would never let his children read it, for “atheist undertones.” I was aghast. An intelligent person–someone I respected–was going to keep this book away from his children because he was afraid they would be exposed to viewpoints other than his own; that it might influence them in some damaging way.
Read the post here. Hope to see you over at YA Stands!
Category Blogging, Book Reviews | Tags: banned books,Philip Pullman,The Golden Compass | 2 Comments
August 1, 2013 by Kiersi
I was really late to the party when it comes to middle-grade fiction.
I mean, really late. So late that the last middle-grade book I read was THE GIVER and I was probably twelve at the time. So, why, you probably ask, did I decide to write a middle-grade book? That was kind of dumb. (I’d agree with you.) But I’d also explain that some stories just have to be told. And this particular story, well, its two heroes were eleven- and twelve-years-old respectively. It wasn’t a story that was going to just bugger off anytime soon. I had to write it. There really wasn’t anything I could do about that total-lack-of-market-knowledge thing at the time. So I went with it and wrote it as best as I possibly could. Because that’s what writing has always been for me–an adventure into the wide unknown. I decided I would learn as I went, and revise as necessary.
Bahahaha, current me says to past me. You fool. You know nothing, Jon Snow. (more…)
Category Book Reviews | Tags: Catherynne M. Valente,middle-grade books,The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship Of Her Own Making | 8 Comments
May 2, 2013 by Kiersi
What is going on with authors this past week? It’s like spring came and the divas of the book world woke up from hibernation in full-attack mode. Remember that part where you wrote a book and then put it out there in the world? Where did it become okay to attack readers for writing honest reviews about them?
Let’s start at the beginning, where a reviewer I follow on Goodreads posted her honest review of a vampire novel. (I’m already getting No Remorse flashbacks here, shudder.) She received a free copy of the book in exchange for her honest review. That should be where this story ends. I mean, I don’t even know why I have to go on here.
Instead of backing away and leaving it at that, the author of said vampire novel, P. J. Dominicis, wrote an email to her “literary idol” Anne Rice, asking for… I’m not sure what, actually. Emotional support, I guess? That doesn’t really bother me much; authors are people too, and reading a negative review can be a trying experience. (Though, if I were to give any advice here, it’s just… don’t read them, bro, and spare yourself the experience.) (more…)
Category Book Reviews, Commentary | Tags: Anne Rice,bad author behavior,book bloggers,book reviews,E. L. James,negative reviews,P. J. Dominicis,RT13 | 17 Comments