Thursday Review: THE BOOK OF DUST by Philip Pullman

Synopsis: This was one of my “waiting on” titles of 2017—the His Dark Materials trilogy is one of my favorites (and one I wish I’d read as an actual young adult), and I’ve enjoyed other books by Pullman as well. The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage is the first in another trilogy, it seems, and it’s a prequel to the adventures of Lyra in His Dark Materials. To my mind, it was worth the wait.

This story also concerns Lyra, but she isn’t the main character this time. In fact, she’s just a baby—a mysterious baby, as it turns out, who is being cared for by the nuns of a village priory outside Oxford. In that village lives our main character: a boy named Malcolm, whose parents run an inn. Malcolm lives at the inn, so all kinds of interesting gossip reaches his ears, and thus it is perhaps not such a huge surprise that he witnesses the unfortunate death of a spy and ends up with the spy’s secret message in his very own hands…

Observations: I don’t want to give away too much of the story, because it’s too delightful to watch it unfold (plus you can always read the cover blurb). I will say that I was happy to return to this alternate world very like our own, and root for a hero with curiosity, tenacity, and an innate sense of right. Malcolm is truly good, and his love for the baby Lyra and determination to keep her safe drive the story and keep the reader hanging on every word.

Of course, any story that involves good vs. evil would be incomplete without a truly bad baddie, and Pullman has a talent for pushing just the right buttons to make the reader really uncomfortable—the enemy here takes the form of a truly frightening individual, and the philosophical underpinnings of WHY he is evil are possibly even more frightening.

Conclusion: I can safely say that, despite a few quibbles here and there with the style, I enjoyed this almost as much as the original trilogy, and sank gratefully and willingly back into the vivid world of Lyra’s Oxford. Now I’m anxious for the second book…

I received my copy of this book courtesy of my library’s ebook collection. You can find THE BOOK OF DUST: LA BELLE SAUVAGE by Philip Pullman at an online e-tailer, or at a real life, independent bookstore near you!

Source: Finding Wonderland

Happy NaNoWriMo 2017!

Hey, it’s November, and that means it’s National Novel Writing Month! As per usual for me lately, I don’t even have a wisp of a dream of a hope of participating–but that doesn’t mean I don’t LOVE NaNoWriMo. I’ve been a participant (and a completer) a handful of times in the past, and I’m here to encourage you to GO FOR IT if you can. You never know what greatness might occur; what jewels in the rough; what bezoars in the poo, or whichever metaphor you prefer.

Don’t believe me? Well, two of my three PUBLISHED novels started during NaNoWriMo. I wouldn’t necessarily describe myself as either a panster or a plotter, but the evidence seems to tip me into the former category, doesn’t it? When you let the words flow, sometimes that’s what you need to find your voice and loosen your imagination.

So. No excuses (unless you’re like me and have enough work this month for at least two months’ worth of stress)–grab your computer and get going!

Source: Finding Wonderland

Throwback Thursday: Sarah as Ramona

I admit I’ve been a bit quiet lately, but I thought I’d emerge momentarily to put up a little photo comparison that I assembled a while back, featuring me with a really 1980s-tastic haircut courtesy of my mom and/or Fantastic Sam’s (is it the Mary Lou Retton? the Dorothy Hamill? we may never know), along with the historically appropriate cover of Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary. (While you peruse the pictorial evidence, I’ll be groaning over the fact that I’ve gotten to a stage in life when I can use the word “historical” in reference to myself.)

Sarah, Age 6, and Ramona, Age 8

I adored the Ramona books, but I also saw her as this kind of trickster figure without any impulse control. Reading about her exploits left me in awe and cringing at the same time. I guess that was the idea–if, for instance, I could READ about Ramona cracking an egg all over her head during lunch at school, I wouldn’t actually DO it. Of course, I would never have done such a thing as a kid, and obviously the very idea was alarming enough that I remember that scene TO THIS VERY DAY.

Ramona is still a classic, which amazes me; but there are so many wonderful kids’ chapter books being written and illustrated now, too–I admit to being out of touch with reading for that age group, but I always rely on my work as the Cybils blog co-editor to keep me abreast of some of the really fun-looking books outside of my preferred comfort zone. On that note, the Cybils blog reviews have begun running, and will continue throughout the award period (that is, until the winners are announced in February), so make sure to swing by and check out reviews of the nominated titles. I started by excerpting a review of easy reader King & Kayla and the Case of the Secret Code, and you can check that out here.

Meanwhile, Tanita is already queuing up reviews of Cybils Speculative Fiction nominees, so it’s going to be fun times around here as I read her assessments and frantically start adding to my TBR pile.

No wonder we love fall so much…

Source: Finding Wonderland

Monday Miscellanea: A Blog Tour, the Cybils, and More…

…not MUCH more. But more!

First of all, today is the second day of the blog tour for Sara Lewis Holmes’ newest book The Wolf Hour–go check out her guest post/interview at Charlotte’s Library for a peek at some favorite quotes from the book. Edited to add: Also don’t miss Maureen Eicher’s post at By Singing Light – reposted today – as well! (And if you missed our interview with Sara, you can read it right here.)

Next, if you haven’t nominated books for the Cybils Awards yet, there’s still plenty of time! Nominations are open through the 15th for the general public, and after that there’s a submission window Oct. 16-25 for authors, publishers, and publicists–check out the info on that here.

Lastly, have you registered for Kidlitcon yet? I’ll be on vacation with my mom, but YOU could be there–and the program is amazing with a stellar lineup of authors and bloggers, and panels on topics as diverse as Children’s Books for Reading Development, Sports Books for the Unathletic, and Immigrants and Refugees in Kids’ and YA Books.

That’s it for this fall Monday…and fall is definitely in the air, bringing cooler breezes and wafting pollen into my sinuses. But it’s still my fave season, sneezes and all.

Source: Finding Wonderland

Cybils Nominations Are Open!

Book lovers! It is that time of year! The time when we all hustle over to the Cybils website to nominate our favorite children’s and YA publications of the past year for the 2017 Awards!

If you’re new to the Cybils Awards, here’s a brief intro:

The Cybils Awards aims to recognize the children’s and young adult authors and illustrators whose books combine the highest literary merit and popular appeal. If some la-di-dah awards can be compared to brussels sprouts, and other, more populist ones to gummy bears, we’re thinking more like organic chicken nuggets. We’re yummy and nutritious.

The nominations are OPEN TO THE PUBLIC (that’s YOU!) from October 1-15, and you can nominate one title for each category. There are lots of categories and we really want to be able to recognize and plug the best books of the year for ALL genres and age ranges. Unfortunately, Audiobooks is on hiatus this year, and you’ll find a couple of other minor changes, but with more than 10 categories, there are plenty of opportunities to send worthy book suggestions to our Round 1 judging panels. You can get all the relevant information right here.

Source: Finding Wonderland