Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): The Voice by Lisa Kelly (Celtic Woman).
Since one of my missions as WriterGirl is to find amazing unknown stories, how could I not join in on this? However, since it is one of my missions, I had a hard time deciding which ones should go into this list, since every one of my reviews has a stamp of approval as a good read. So I decided to make this a yearly (or bi-year) event! Thank you Kelly at YAnnabe.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it will certainly whet your palette (and a couple of these are some of my absolute favorite reads).
Little Sister by Kara Dalkey.
The book in a sentence: Thirteen-year-old Fujiwara no Mitsuko, daughter of a noble family in the imperial court of twelfth-century Japan, enlists the help of a shape-shifter and other figures from Japanese mythology in her efforts to save her older sister's life.
Why you should read it: Simply because this book continues to take my breath away. It was so incredible and fantastic and so believably real. It introduced me to an entire world I never knew existed and a piece of me has always stayed there, wanting to linger a little while longer. Unique, beautiful and captivating. I love this book.
Hidden Talents by David Lubar
The book in a sentence: Edgview is the end of the line for troublemaker Martin who can't seem to stop taunting his teachers, but when he befriends the rejects of the ultimate reject school, he begins to think that maybe for some of them, it wasn't entirely their fault they were here, and that they had hidden talents they were completely unaware of.
Why you should read this: Kids with special powers isn't anything new, but when turned on its head and put into this setting, it becomes something very cool. Kids with powers are almost always treated as something special, but what if it only got them into trouble? A cast of fully-realized characters in a unique setting makes this a worthwhile read many times over.
Samurai Shortstop by Alan Gratz.
The book in a sentence: While obtaining a Western education in a prestigious Japanese boarding school in 1890, sixteen-year-old Toyo also receives traditional samurai training, which has profound effect on his baseball game and his relationship with his father.
Why you should read this: Combining baseball and samurai swordsmanship? Cannot. Stop. Geeking. Out about this. This was one of my absolute favorite reads of last year (yes, right up there with Catching Fire). It delves into so many deeper issues, with the coolest culture cross-over at a time when Japan in flux, transforming from the old to the new. Love it. No reservations in recommending this one at all.
The Perilous Gard by Marie Pope Osborne
The book in a sentence: In 1558 while imprisoned in a remote castle, fiery and unabashed Kate Sutton becomes entangled in a mess involving the history of the castle whose traditions go back before the Druids, and she must go fetch a man she does not like from the Fairy Folk, much like in the ballad of Tam Lin, but with very different results.
Why you should read this: This was one of the first Historical Fantasies I ever came across and I loved the blend of the genres. I also loved the developing relationship between Kate and Christopher, the man who gave up his life to save his niece and who she brings back (even though she doesn't really like him to begin with). And afterward when I discovered it was retelling of Tam Lin, I loved it even more. It won the Newberry Honor years ago, so I don't know how "unknown" it is, but I don't hear people talk of it much.
Someone Was Watching by David Patneaude
The book in a sentence: When his baby sister disappears from the river near their summer home, eighth-grader Chris fights the assumption she has drowned and sets off on an incredible journey to discover the truth of who took her.
Why you should read it: Part mystery, part adventure story, this was a book I came back to several times. The characters are real, the situation believable, and when they take off on their own to find her when no one will believe their theories, they way they go about it is not out of the realm of possibility. This one had me engaged all the way through.
The Changeling Prince by Vivian Vande Velde
The book in a (few) sentences: Welland was less than a slave. Slaves are human, and he was wolf, allowed to assume human form only when it suited the sorceress Daria.
Daria kept an army of changelings -- mostly wolf but some lynx or weasel, a bear or two, and at least one rat. She used them to hunt and kill. And sometimes to pretend to be human, so she could pretend to be a lady.
Weiland hated the lie almost as much as he hated the truth. Then he met a burglar, a thief named Shile, who offered to help him steal what he had never owned -- his own soul.Why you should read this: First, forget the ugly ugly cover. I apologize to whoever designed it, but I have never liked it. Second, can I say an awesome twist on the werewolf mythology? A wolf forced to change shape by a sorceress who is the only one of his kind who prefers his human form? Add to that a cool thief and a mystery and you have one enjoyable read.
The Diary of Pelly D by L. J. Adlington
The book in a sentence: When Tony V, a young worker of a cleanup crew on a futuristic colony, discovers the diary of a teenage girl whose life has been turned upside-down by holocaust-like events, he begins to question his own beliefs.
Why you should read this: A deeper dystopian read than most, it was a a real ride to be alongside Pelly D, a rich brat who never fluctuates from character but who you love anyway as she describes her high life as it begins to crumble around her. The jargon is somewhat difficult to get into, but is completely believable and makes the experience so much more real. It soon fades into the background. A very cool dystopian few know about.
Uncle Shelby's ABZ Book: A Primer for Adults Only by Shel Silverstein.
The book in a sentence: See title. :)
Why you should read this: Trust me, believe the title when it says "for adults only." It's not graphic, you just don't want any kid getting a hold of this book. Meant as a satire on ABC books everywhere, here is just one of the entries:
A is for apple
See the nice green apple.
How many nice green apples can you eat?
Make a circle around the number of nice green little apples you ate today.
1 2 3 4 7 12 26 38 57 83 91 116
Wickedly funny, but you don't want anyone small getting a hold of it.
The Folk Keeper by Franny Billingsley.
The book in a sentence: Corinna, an who always knows what time it is and whose hair grows two inches every night, disguises herself as a boy to pose as a Folk Keeper, one who keeps the Evil Ones at bay, and discovers her heritage as a selkie when she lives with a wealthy family in a manor by the sea.
Why you should read it: It's prose simple but lovely, this was a story I had never heard before. Mermaids yes, but selkies? Now that was something new. I loved her character and where the story took me. I read it years ago but still remember it fondly.