Monday, June 27, 2011

Top 5 in 2011, so far: Nico gets this Thing Rolling.

Amazingly, we're half way through the year (even a bit more). So we asked the librarians and bloggers of TATAL to pick through their LibraryThing and GoodReads accounts and give us their top 5 picks from this year.

This year has been very strange, it seemed like the beginning of the year was full of just waiting for titles that I wanted to come out in the summer.. luckily a few of them have lived up to the hype and I think I've got enough favorites to fill out a Top 5.

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
So, it is commonly acknowledged that Sarah Dessen knows her way around a piece of contemporary fiction. And she doesn't disappoint here. It was everything I wanted it to be and more. McLean's whole life used to revolve around the local university's basketball time... that was, until her parents got divorced and now she's on the road with her father as he works as a restaurant consultant, saving diners and cafes across the country. Now every city is a chance for McLean to reinvent herself...Or it had been, this time, even before she's unpacked, it's seeming harder to hide who she really is.

I loved McLean and her quest for reinvention. Who wouldn't want the chance to be someone new? What really got me in WHTG is how you can really tell that Dessen loves the stuff that she's writing about. The restaurant scenes are perfect, you can hear the chopping and the pans clanging, and the deep fried pickles sound awesome. Oh and the basketball? McLean has got it in her blood and that's the sort of thing that could seem forced onto a character, but not here, when McLean effortlessly takes a shot in the middle of the book, you know that thing is going in the net. Did I mention that I love all the supporting characters? because I do. Hi Dave, Liz and Opal, I'm talking to you. If you're looking for a summer read with an entire town full of characters you'll be interested in finding out more about, then I think you know what book you need to check out.

Jumpstart the World by Catherine Ryan Hyde (see full review here)
Elle is 15, so technically she should have a few more years living under someone's roof. But her stepfather decides he's through living with teenagers, her mom can afford another apartment and Elle is suddenly the lone tenant in a new apartment in a new school district with a new cat. If that's not enough, on her first day Elle, before she even gets to know anyone, she finds her locker vandalized with the word, "Queer."   It's going to be a long year. The only bright spot for her is a kind neighbor, Franks, who keeps an eye on Elle and a group of teens who would be willing to befriend her, if she'd only let them in.

This is a glimpse into the head of a girl who has learned not to trust anyone. I've read reviews where they called Elle unlikable, and I don't think that's fair at all. Instead, she's scared and skittery, but she's still someone that you are rooting for. The writing is really stand out and it's full of characters who are unique and interesting and who I wanted to bring home and give them a safe place to hang out.

Where She Went by Gayle Forman (full review here) (author appreciation week here)
You guys are shocked that this is on my list, right? shocked.
Adam has spent the last three years trying to let Mia go. It's fueled his music and wrecked havoc on his life. But tonight he's going to get a one-time-shot to finally get to say everything he's been holding in for three years.

This is definitely old for YA, both Adam and Mia are out of high school. But it's a one-night, all night walk around New York that I loved every minute of. If you didn't read If I Stay you might find Adam a little hard to get to know, but if you know his history, you can totally understand why he's SO gruff and angry. He's hurt. Gayle Forman is a poetic writer, and that works great in this music driven story. Where She Went was one rock song that I didn't want to end. Also, can I tell you how good the audio book is? Dangerously good. Miss your stop on the metro good.

Page by Page by Laura Lee Gulledge (full review here)
Paige wants to be as brave as her grandmother. So, she makes herself some goals and doesn't let herself off the hook. The number one is draw a few pages each day. Page by Paige is her account of her first year in New York. She's meeting friends and figuring out how to really embrace the fact that all she wants to be is an artist.

This book is gorgeous from cover to end. Gulledge's art is beautiful and each page is so detailed that you get the same amount of story that you would from paragraphs and paragraphs of text. It's fun and breezy. Perfect for both the art majors and those who are new to the graphic novel game.

Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John (see the full review here) (see the author interview here)
Piper just talked herself into a job as the manager of a high school rock band. She's doing it not because she has a great love of the music, Piper's moderately deaf and has never been that big a rock fan, instead she sees it as a great way to make some badly needed money for college. But with a little bit of help from the City of Seattle and a grumpy has-been producer and even her family, maybe this can turn into something more.

I picked this one up because of its awesome cover and it never disappointed. Piper is feisty and always the person who controls her story. The backstage look at a struggling band is fun as well. And Piper's discovery of the power of rock and roll, with the help of the storied history of Seattle? How could I not get behind that? There was no way. I was a goner from page 1.

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