In which I talk of many things including the Cybils

The blog has been a bit quiet while of late while I waited to confirm some news and also started rolling out some much needed changes.

First: The changes. It pains me, as a librarian, to admit this but it only recently occurred to me that I should have my reviews organized alphabetically. After a marathon of copying, pasting and a little bit of coding all of the heavy lifting is done and I can unveil my beauteous new Review Indices (yes, two!). You can now view a full listing of my reviews alphabetized by title or by author. The pages even have handy target links if you don’t feel like scrolling all the way down to the letter X. (Though as of yet there is not actually anything to see in the X section because, well, it’s X.) In the event of a book with multiple authors, both authors are listed in the Author page. Similarly I also listed illustrators on the author page for Picture Books and Graphic Novels because they really help “author” the reading experience.

I’m planning on rolling out a similar organization for my Author Interview page and possibly for Book Lists as well although I’m not sure how useful that would be in the long run.

In other blog news, the unthinkable has happened: I’m going to start tagging my posts. I know, I know, it’s crazy. All posts will now have tags and there is a rather attractive Tag Cloud widget in the right sidebar if you’re into that sort of thing. For book reviews you can expect to find tags including but not limited to: author, publisher, publication year, genre, category (how the review is filed on the blog), and key themes.

Now, onto the fun news.

The Cybils Awards have started for 2011. The Cybils are an annual book award given for various children’s and young adult categories to books of note by book bloggers. But here’s the really cool thing: ANYONE can nominate a book.

Last year I had the pleasure of serving as a Round 2 judge on the Teen Science Fiction and Fantasy panel. I’m happy to say I made the cut again this year. For the 2011 Cybils you can find me acting as a Round 2 Judge in the Young Adult Fiction category with a very fine bunch of bloggers.

After the wizards from Round 1 selected their short list, I’ll convene with my fellow Round 2 judges to read and debate the short list and pick the YA Fiction reader. So far I have read very few of the nominations so I know it’s going to be a lot of fun reading for me this winter.

As I said, anyone can nominate a book (one per category) until October 15. Here’s a bit from the Cybils site about eligibility: “Any books published between the end of one contest and start of another. For 2011, that means books released between Oct. 16, 2010 and Oct. 15, 2011. This year, we are also accepting nominations for book apps for iPad, Web or computers.”

So, a lot of the books I truly loved this year have already been nominated. (I happily got to nominate Drink, Slay, Love and The Piper’s Son personally.) BUT there are still lots of good books out there waiting to be nominated.

In fact, here are just a few I’d like to see nominated:

YA Fiction:

  • Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg ISBN: 9780545240772
  • Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn’t Have) by Sarah Mlynowski ISBN: 9780061701245
  • Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter ISBN: 9781423147954
  • So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti ISBN: 9780670012244
  • Life: An Exploded Diagram by Mal Peet ISBN: 9780763652272

YA Science Fiction and Fantasy (the only reason this list is so short is because almost all of the books I’m pulling for have already been nominated):

  • Always a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough ISBN: 9780547224855 (this one especially since I’m quoted on the galley cover)
  • Trial by Fire by Jennifer Lynn Barnes ISBN: 9781606841686

In summary, you can nominate one book per category. If you still have room, I’d suggest some of the books above. Here’s the nomination form again. If you nominate one of my suggestions, let me know in the comments!

Take Me There: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Take Me There by Susane ColasantiRhiannon is crushed after the breakup with her boyfriend. Even worse than being dumped is the fact that she still had no idea why it’s over. (And that she still wants him back.) Her best friend James doesn’t understand why Ree wasted her time with such a loser to begin with. Nicole doesn’t either, but when Ree comes up with a risky scheme to get her ex back, how can Nicole say no?

Nicole knows all about boyfriends and breakups. Luckily she’s still friends with her ex Danny even if he is crazy into politics. Not that it matters, Nicole only has eyes for her new crush even if it does have to be a huge secret. Even if the crush might be a way to avoid confronting her past.

All James really wants is to have enough money to buy a huge apartment where everyone will just leave him alone. But for now, he’s working on earning a college scholarship and getting on with his life. Even if he does have to do that without his girlfriend after she freaks out about his friendship with Rhiannon (again). So what if they have tons in common and always hang out? It’s not like he wants to date Ree, isn’t it?

As if things aren’t complicated enough, the school’s resident mean girl (and skank) takes it upon herself to ruin Ree’s life. Which is absolutely not going to happen if her friends have anything to do with it. What starts as a plan to get some karmic retribution might also get Rhiannon, Nicole and James exactly what they need in Take Me There (2008) by Susane Colasanti.

Find it on Bookshop.

Take Me There is broken into two parts. Each part is broken into three sections–one narrated by Rhiannon, Nicole or James who each tell sections of the story from their own points of view. In one sense this gives readers three stories in one but it also creates a larger, more detailed story as readers work through the entire book.*

What I liked particularly about Take Me There is that it isn’t just a romance. Colasanti tackles a lot of different plot points to create a rich, complex story. The interconnected narratives also makes for a multi-faceted plot with lots of details for close readers to notice.

All three characters are a lot of fun, each with their own unique voice and different takes on events of the book. (James in particular was a blast–I wish I’d thought of Mr. Inappropriate Alert Guy myself. Dude!) By the end Colasanti weaves together all of the plot threads to create a gratifying story about karmic retribution of epic (and hilarious) proportions and also not one but two charming love stories in Take Me There.

*The book design is also great with subtle differences for each character. Totally impressive.

Possible Pairings: The Secret Life of Prince Charming by Deb Caletti, Heist Society by Ally Carter, What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen, The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg, Boy Toy by Barry Lyga**, After the Kiss by Terra Elan McVoy, The Miles Between by Mary E. Pearson, Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith

**Really it’s any books by Barry Lyga or all of them. He does similar stuff with dual narratives and interconnected stories.

Exclusive Bonus Content: One of my all-time favorite songs also plays a kind of major role in the plot! (And reminded me I need to get it on my ipod stat.) You can check out Colasanti’s website for the playlist she made for the book–including the majorly important song whose name I am not going to share so you’ll have to read the book.