Snow Day Meditations: A Peek At My ‘To Be Read’ Pile

snowy branches blmiers2

Lovely image from blmiers2 Flickr stream.

There’s nothing like a long weekend followed up by not one but two unexpected snow days to catch up on reading–and contemplate my ever growing ‘to be read’ pile.  It may be only a few weeks into 2014 but already the list of new books coming out over the next couple months is overwhelming–especially when I still haven’t caught up on a bunch of 2013 titles!  My actual TBR list is epically long and without Goodreads, I would never keep track of it.   However, between the physical pile of books by my bed, my Kindle full of e-galleys and recent Amazon purchases, and my Goodreads ‘to read’ shelf, I selected a few titles that I’m eager to read over the next couple weeks to highlight.

Most of these are already available or will be available within the next couple months.    The summaries are all adapted from World Cat.  

boxersBoxers and Saints - Gene Luen Yang: In 1898 China, Little Bao has had enough of foreign missionaries and soldiers robbing peasants, and he recruits an army of Boxers to fight to free China from its oppressors. Vibiana, an unwanted fourth child, finds her name and identity in Christianity, but with the Boxer Rebellion in full swing and Chinese Christians facing death, she must decide whether her loyalties lie with her religion or her country.

saintsI’ve been interested in this pair of graphic novels since hearing the brilliant creator Gene Yang talk about the project at the YA Authors’ Breakfast at ALA Annual this past summer. And I’m determined to try and read them before the Youth Media Awards are announced next week–just in case. :) 

insurgentInsurgent and Allegiant - Veronica Roth: As war surges in the dystopian society around her, sixteen-year-old Divergent Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves–and herself–while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

AllegiantYes, my dirty young services librarian secret is that I’m behind on the Divergent series.  I really loved the opening novel but then just kept postponing reading the sequel (usually in favor of new standalone titles or the first volumes in new series).  But I’m determined to catch up before the first film comes out, especially since my middle school students will soon lose respect for me if I don’t!

the impossible knife of memoryThe Knife of Impossible Memory – Laurie Halse Anderson: Hayley Kincaid and her father move back to their hometown to try a ‘normal’ life, but the horrors he saw in the war threaten to destroy their lives.

I’m a big fan of Laurie Halse Anderson’s writing and I was thrilled to hear she had a new novel coming out this winter.  Then I was able to go and hear Ms. Anderson speak just last week at our fabulous local independent bookstore, Politics and Prose.  And now I am even more excited to read this new novel! 

september girlsSeptember Girls- Bennett Madison: Vacationing in a sleepy beach town for the summer, Sam is pursued by hordes of blonde girls before falling in love with the unusual DeeDee, who compels him to uncover secrets about the community’s ocean-dwelling inhabitants.

I hadn’t been very interested in this particular novel until I started to read the widely varying but equally vehement opinions about its portrayal of women and gender issues.  Any novel that has been called both feminist and incredibly anti-feminist and sexist is one that I’ve simply got to read.

longbournLongbourn - Jo Baker: Sarah, the orphaned housemaid, spends her days scrubbing the laundry, polishing the floors, and emptying the chamber pots for the Bennet household. But there is just as much romance, heartbreak, and intrigue downstairs at Longbourn as there is upstairs. When a mysterious new footman arrives, the orderly realm of the servants’ hall threatens to be completely, perhaps irrevocably, upended.

I’m a Jane Austen geek.  Big time.  So I can’t resist a well-reviewed exploration of the downstairs side of Pride and Prejudice.  Plus Laurie Halse Anderson mentioned it as one of her favorite recent reads.   

and we stayAnd We Stay – Jenny Hubbard: Sent to an Amherst, Massachusetts, boarding school after her ex-boyfriend shoots himself, seventeen-year-old Emily expresses herself through poetry as she relives their relationship, copes with her guilt, and begins to heal.

As a few other librarians and bloggers have identified, Emily Dickinson seems to be highly in vogue in young adult literature at the moment.  And I happen to be an Emily Dickinson fan. However, the fairly positive reviews and the intriguing cover image also attracted me to this one. 

RoomiesRoomies – Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando: While living very different lives on opposite coasts, seventeen-year-old Elizabeth and eighteen-year-old Lauren become acquainted by email the summer before they begin rooming together as freshmen at UC-Berkeley.

I really like Sara Zarr’s novels. I’m also interested in the continuing trend of novels tackling the transition from high school to college.  So I’m excited to check out a novel that combines the two.

the sea of tranquilityThe Sea of Tranquility - Katja Millay: Two and a half years after an unspeakable tragedy left her a shadow of the girl she once was, Nastya Kashnikov moves to a new town determined to keep her dark past hidden and hold everyone at a distance. But her plans only last so long before she finds herself inexplicably drawn to the one person as isolated as herself: Josh Bennett.

The Adult Books 4 Teens’ ‘Best of’ list and the Alex Awards are some of my favorite sources for both crossover titles for students and personal reading recommendations for me. This title sounded promising when I read about on the Adult Books 4 Teens blog but when one of my students (a voracious reader who mostly prefers fantasy and speculative fiction to realistic fiction) recommended it, I immediately bumped it up on my list. 

where'd you go bernadetteWhere’d You Go Bernadette - Maria Semple: When her notorious, hilarious, volatile, talented, troubled, and agoraphobic mother goes missing, teenage Bee begins a trip that takes her to the ends of the Earth to find her. To find her mother, Bee compiles e-mail messages, official documents, secret correspondence, creating a touching novel about a family coming to terms with who they are, and the power of a daughter’s love for her imperfect mother.

Another adult crossover title (and 2013 Alex Award winner) I’ve bumped up on my list after multiple teens mentioned it to me as a favorite read.

cover-defy-sara-b-larsonDefy – Sara B. Larson: Seventeen-year-old Alexa’s parents were killed by a sorcerer during a raid, so she has disguised herself as a boy, joined Antion’s army, and earned a place on Prince Damian’s guard–but Antion is ruled by an evil king, and “Alex” must find a way to defeat him and protect her prince.

Unusually, I’m actually interested in reading this debut novel because of the less positive reviews I’ve read.  I’m always on the look out for fresh, high fantasy titles so I was automatically interested when I spotted this title on Netgalley.  After reading a few reviews, I pushed it down a bit on my ‘to read’ list but I’m still planning to read it because my curiosity has been peaked.

death swornDeath Sworn - Leah Cypress:  When a young sorceress is exiled to teach magic to a clan of assassins, she will find that secrets can be even deadlier than swords.

As I mentioned, I’m always on the hunt for new fantasy novels.  This one was mentioned in Kelly Jensen’s recent Book Riot YA fiction preview post and I managed to snag an e-galley from Edelweiss so I’m excited to check it out! 

we were liars

We Were Liars - E. Lockhart: Spending the summers on her family’s private island off the coast of Massachusetts with her cousins and a special boy named Gat, teenaged Cadence struggles to remember what happened during her fifteenth summer.

I love E. Lockhart’s books and so I was automatically excited about this new novel.  But my school is going to be lucky enough to have her as a visiting author at our annual writers’ day this spring so I’m extra eager to check this one out.  It doesn’t come out until May but I managed to snag an e-galley from Netgalley.

What titles are at the top of your ‘to be read’ pile?

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