Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Yet Another Example...

...of what not to do when you get a bad review. Report the reviewers to the FBI.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Great and the Weird

Great news: the nominees for a brand new award in non-fiction were announced, and my friend Tanya Lee Stone's book, the fabulous Almost Astronauts is on the short list! If you're in the mood for some girl power, you should check it out.

Weird news: Kirkus Reviews magazine is kaput. Dead. Done. Out of print. If you're not a book person, this won't mean that much to you. If you are a book person, well, it might not mean that much to you, either. Kirkus is -- er, was -- a review source for librarians, a source best known for its huge number of reviews and its overabundance of snark. I don't know how I feel about its demise. Yeah, yeah, I know I just blogged a few weeks ago about how writers should avoid looking for reviews, that they're for readers not writers, yadda yadda. But even if I think it's problematic for writers to read their own reviews, it is important that they actually get some reviews. And this means that there is one less source for reviews in the world. Also, because the publication was meant for readers -- librarians specifically -- but also for consumers, as the reviews are posted at various book websites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc., this means that there's one less source for individual readers to rely on when they want to choose a book.

So...I don't know. I've gotten some great reviews from Kirkus's stable of anonymous snarksters, and some not-so-great ones, but that's not the point. I like what Alex Flinn said about it:"The end of Kirkus is like the death of an ex-boyfriend who was kind of a jerk, but with whom one has a few fun memories. Like, I'm glad I didn't marry the guy, but that doesn't mean I wish him dead...For all their flaws, Kirkus did review a lot of books, and in a competitive market, even a bad review is better than silence."


-- L.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Some of My Favorite Things

Roses! Kittens! Kittens with roses! Interviews, like this one here. And more Bad Apple reviews, including a star from The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. Woo-hoo!

And of course, other people's books. (Reading is my reward for writing.) I was happy to see that both Francisco Stork's riveting Marcelo in the Real World and Rebecca Stead's When You Reach Me on their Notable Children's Books of 2009 list. The NYT says that When You Reach Me is a "thrilling puzzle: a complex mystery, a work of historical fiction, and a story of friendship." And though it is all these things, it's so subtly, delicately written, that you don't necessarily notice the complexities as you're reading. RS keeps about 90 balls in the air and makes it look easy. It's a book I enjoyed reading as an adult, but one I would have been mad for as a kid.

About Marcelo: I have to admit that when I first heard about this book, I didn’t have much interest in it. (Did we need another Curious Incident?) But Sarah Aronson recommended it to me, so I picked it up. She was right: this book is not a rehash of Curious Incident. And simple plot descriptions simply don’t do it justice. The novel, about a young man with an Asperger-like condition forced to work in his father's law firm for a summer because his father wishes him to become a part of the “real world,” is wonderful. There are so many things about this novel I just love — the voice, the vivid secondary characters, the seamlessly unfurling story that reads in part like a thriller — I could go on and on. The novel takes seriously the formation – and erosion — of personal morality. And it takes seriously the possibility of love and commitment between people most would believe too young and too damaged to be capable of it. And though it’s cliché to say so, I could easily see this being a movie. One of my favorites of the last year.

That said, I’ve got a teetering stack of books that I’ve got to plow through, so I might have a few more favorites to talk about over the next month. (Like Justine Larbalestier’s Liar, a controversial book for more reasons than one. But I’ll save that for another day).

-- L.