Sunday, November 15, 2020

More Wonderful Debut MG Novels from #the21ders! for #IMWAYR

 Hi Everyone!

It's been a couple of bizarre weeks here in the US, with the votes finally counted, and the outgoing president refusing to concede to the newly-elected (and rightfully-elected) one! 

I handle the anxiety by reading, as usual. I decided to join #IMWAYR, hosted, as far as I can tell by Book Date! And I just found out there's one for Kidlit at Unleashing Readers! Yes, I know it's Sunday, but hey, most people won't read this post until tomorrow, right?

Here's my second installment of reviews of upcoming debut novels by my fellow MG 21ders. These are books I've been privileged to read already (usually via e-arcs from the publisher and Edelweiss+ or Netgalley).  In case you missed it, my last review post is here.

You're in for more treats, as all of these MG novels are most impressive! And... all of these wonderful books are available for pre-order! I've included links to the publishers (just click on each title), and also links to Bookshop this time (if available). When you order from Bookshop it helps Indie bookstores everywhere. Thank you!




The Gilded Girl by Alyssa Colman (April 6, 2021, Farrar Straus and Giroux/Macmillan)

What a delightful tale! This is a fantasy reimagining of A Little Princess, but even if you're not familiar with that classic, you'll still enjoy this gorgeously-written, fast-paced story set in 1890s New York City, instead of England. The main characters are Emma, a rich girl, and Izzy, a servant at the academy where Emma's wealthy father enrolls her to learn how to kindle her magic. In the impressive world Colman has created, children must learn to kindle their magic at the age of 12, before it snuffs out at age 13. But only the rich can afford to pay for this education.

Compelling and fast-paced, this is a joy to read. The author has created a fully-realized magical world, with clever details, the perfect villain, loyal friends, and social commentaries that are timely today. Plus, BEST. OPENING. LINE. EVER!

Order from Bookshop






Rea and the Blood of the Nectar: The Chronicles of Astranthia # 1,  by Payal Doshi (May 2021, Mango and Marigold Press)

A compelling MG fantasy adventure, with gorgeous, evocative language and highly-imaginative elements. Rea and her twin brother Rohan are about to turn 12 in Darjeeling, India. They live with their mother (Amma) and grandmother (Bajai) and life is sometimes difficult. Amma and Bajai seem to pay more attention to Rohan, and Rea is jealous. On the night of their 12th birthday, their mother and grandmother warn them to stay in the house, but Rohan slips out to meet his friends, and Rea follows him, along with her friend Leela. Then Rohan goes missing and Rea and Leela search for him. With advice from a fortune teller, they enter another world, Astranthia, a place of magic, flowers, and fairy folk. Queen Razya is deliciously evil, the perfect villain, right up there with Maleficent. If you enjoy portal fantasies, you will love this imaginative tale.





Many Points of Me by Caroline Gertler (January 12, 2021, Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins)

A beautifully-written and moving story about a young girl's grief for her father, a famous artist, who died a year ago. He was known mostly for his asterisms, paintings of made-up constellations, one which represented himself and one his wife. He had planned to paint one of Georgia, but then he died. 

When Georgia's mother starts putting together a retrospective exhibit on Georgia's dad for the Metropolitan Museum in NYC, she brings home stacks of papers. Georgia finds a previously-unknown sketch of herself at age 10, and discovers something amazing on the back. Around this same time, she gets into a fight with her best friend, Theo. He urges her to enter an art contest for students, the one he's entering. But Georgia is no longer sure if she wants to be an artist like her dad. She's no longer sure of anything.

This touching story of Georgia's twelfth year, and the compelling MG voice, will draw you in from the first page. The art mystery itself will intrigue you. Art, Science and Astronomy all come together in this brilliant contemporary novel.  








Thanks, a Lot, Universe by Chad Lucas (May 11, 2021, Amulet Books/Abrams)

I love this novel! 

Told in alternating first person points of view, this delightful story of Brian and Ezra, two boys turning thirteen and learning to navigate the often-confusing world of adolescence, will pull you in from the first page. When you reach the inciting incident (quite early on), you'll be hooked until you finish reading! No spoilers here, though.

Many one-sentence paragraphs help make the pace lightning-fast. I read this in two days, which is some kind of miraculous record for me. Especially since I was reading the e-ARC on my laptop. (No, I don't own a Kindle!)

The most diverse cast I've seen in many years of reading MG, and it's all handled in a smart, sophisticated way. Brian's social anxiety (which he calls his Super Awkward Weirdness Syndrome) comes across perfectly, and the way Ezra learns to accept his own nature is endearing. The humor, especially in the dialogue, is wonderful! Chad Lucas is a writer to watch out for. I can't wait to read whatever he writes next!




Up next for me, two more debut 2021 MG novels, An Occasionally Happy Family by Cliff Burke, and The Nightmare Thief by Nicole Lesperance. 

What have you read lately?


18 comments:

  1. Looks like some great books are coming out next year.

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  2. You make all of these books sound great, but I'm definitely sold on a fantasy reimagining of A Little Princess, one of my favourite books of all time! Glad to see you reviewing books again, and good luck with all that crazy political stuff going on down there! In the words of Dr. Bonnie Henry (British Columbia's excellent Provincial Health Officer): Be Kind, Be Calm, Be Safe.

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    1. You'll love THE GILDED GIRL, Kim! You'll also love A PLACE TO HANG THE MOON, from my last post because it mentions -- and quotes my favorite part from -- A LITTLE PRINCESS!

      And thanks for your kind words as we navigate all our crazy political stuff. Your Provincial Health Officer is wise!

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  3. I'm reading Rhea and the Blood Nectar now. It's really good. Thanks for more great suggestions.

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    1. Oh, how cool, Natalie! Hope you are staying healthy.

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  4. Oh! A Place to Hang the Moon is coming up quickly. I need to finish up January books this week so I can make progress on February ones. You are much further along than I am!

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    1. Well, Test (wish I knew your real name), I've been reading these in the order in which I received them from the publishers, so there are some January and February debuts, but also some May debuts!

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  5. These all look fantastic! I'll have to keep an eye out for them.

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    1. Thanks, Rebecca! Be sure to do that. January isn't that far away.

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  6. Each one sounds good, Joanne. I especially like your review of 'Thanks A Lot, Universe', so much to love about kids, girls & boys growing up. Thanks for each one, on my long list!

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  7. Welcome to #IMWAYR—it's fun to see a familiar name in a new place! Also, I am indeed frustrated by the election—who knew watching democracy keep crumbling in the face of misinformation and lunacy would feel so grim? (And who knew getting Trump out of the White House would feel so grim?) Thanks a Lot, Universe looks truly fabulous—I need to preorder it ASAP! (But May?! 2021?! I guess I better start waiting!) Many Points of Me looks excellent as well—I am reminded of another art-themed MG book, Under the Egg, but that book really wasn't very good, so I'm glad we're finally getting a GOOD art-themed MG book (I mean, besides The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler). Thanks for the fabulous post (and for persevering through this lengthy comment)!

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    1. Thanks, Completely! (Someday, promise you'll tell us your real name!) I loved From The Mixed-Up Files, and thought of it while reading Caroline's book. Now that you mention it, I read Under the Egg, but I couldn't begin to tell you what it was about! The best books stay with you.

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  8. Thanks for sharing these titles with us. They all look fabulous. Now I really want to know what the 'inciting event' was!

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    1. Oh, good! Now you'll definitely want to read the book! And thanks for stopping by.

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  9. Welcome to the kidlit community of the larger IMWAYR, Joanne! I am always excited to meet someone else who's in the same boat of loving middle grade literature. It's my favorite reading (though I do try to tack on some good picture books to my weekly reading/reviewing). I'm adding The Many Points of Me and The Gilded Girl to my TBR list. Great reviews -- thanks for all the shares! By the way, I, too, hope to learn Completely's name one of these days... Fingers-crossed! :)

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    1. Thank you, 2Shaye (love your name)! And I'm glad I'm not the only one who's curious about Completely's name!

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