Saturday, December 25, 2010

2010 Book Lists, Pt. 8: Beyond YA #1

Middle Grade
Ah, middle grade. With all the hype and attention usually on YA, it's easy to overlook these incredible books. They're not just for your kids/younger siblings, okay?

Sugar and Ice by Kate Messner
Not just a great middle grade novel, but one of the best novels I've read this year. (also on: Best Books Published in 2010, Diverse Characters, Supporting Characters)

Operation Redwood by S. Terrell French
Another middle-grade novel that I think more people should read. Julian Carter-Li discovers that his uncle plans to chop down some precious redwoods, and he and his friends go to the rescue. Full of action and heart. (also on: POC, Supporting Characters)

The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea Campbell
Damien's tongue-in-cheek approach to life will sure appeal to middle-school boys. Who doesn't want to read about a snarky kid with superpowers? (also on: Magical Realism, Memorable Protagonists, Humor)

Invisible Lines by Mary Amato
Mary Amato is not well known with the YA audience, but her middle-grade books are among some of the best. In Invisible Lines, Trevor must deal with his family's poverty on top of his desire to fit in with the kids at his rich school. (also on: Humor)

Eighth-Grade Superzero by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
Reggie's growth from the kid with the unfortunate nickname who is picked on constantly, to a young man determined to take on the leadership for his class in the class elections, is heartwarming, if slightly plodding. Still, there are some great supporting characters that entertain. (also on: POC)

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
It won the National Book Award. It's the heartwrenching yet hopeful tale of a girl with Asperger's, trying to understand her brother's death. (also on: Exceptionalities)

Forget-Her-Nots by Amy Brecount White
Younger female readers may enjoy this tale of the magic language of flowers, set at a boarding school. (also on: Magical Realism)

Leaving Gee’s Bend by Irene Latham
10-year-old Ludelphia, with one bad eye, sets off and battles scary adults as she rushes to save her mother's life. (also on: Historical Fiction, POC)

Scones and Sensibility by Lindsay Eland
Oh, Polly. For those of us who love--and maybe still love--Jane Austen and L. M. Montgomery, Polly will be like what we were like if we had decided to channel those literary ladies' characters.

The Wish Stealers by Tracy Trivas
An interesting tale of what happens when a young girl in charge of people's stolen wishes tries to return them before the wishes turn on her.

POC--or persons of color--feature marvelously in these following books.

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
Marcelo is Latino and has Asperger's--a double whammy. Because of that, he faces some challenging experiences and prejudices at his father's law firm. (also on: Best Books Read in 2010, Thought-Provoking Reads, Quiet Gems, Memorable Protagonists)

The Agency series by Y. S. Lee - A Spy in the House and The Body at the Tower
I'm not saying anything in particular, otherwise I'd be spoiling an important plot point for you, but yes, there are POC characters in this excellent series! (also on: Best Books Published in 2010, Best Debuts of 2010, Winter Reads, Mysteries, Historical Fiction)

Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes
This magnificent novella is told from the voices of a whole classroom full of inner-city students who realize the power of poetry. (also on: Quiet Gems)

The Red Umbrella by Christina Diaz Gonzalez
Lucia and her brother escape from the Castro revolution in Cuba and go live in the scarily different world that is Nebraska. (also on: Best Debuts of 2010, Historical Fiction)

Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves
The type of POC book that we need more of: mixed-race Hanna encounters scary supernatural monsters in her mother's town of Portero, TX. (also on: Paranormal, Best Debuts of 2010, Families, Something Different)

Escaping the Tiger by Laura Manivong
A family's heartbreaking tale of escaping the Communist regime in Laos, only to suffer in a Thai refugee camp.

Daughter of Xanadu by Dori Jones Yang
Emmajin lives in Khublai Khan's Mongolian court, and she's even more kickbutt because she wants to be a soldier. (also on: Historical Fiction)

Eighth-Grade Superzero by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
Anyone will be able to relate to Reggie's growth from class joke to a more self-confident guy. (also on: Middle Grade)

Gringolandia by Lyn Miller-Lachmann
Daniel's father is haunted by his ordeal as a political prisoner in the Chilean military regime.

Leaving Gee’s Bend by Irene Latham
Ludelphia lives in the all-black Gee's Bend, but has to venture out into the big bad world. (also on: Historical Fiction, Middle Grade)

Operation Redwood by S. Terrell French
This marvelous middle-grade book features a colorful cast of entertaining characters as well as an environmentalist message that everyone should read about. (also on: Middle Grade, Supporting Characters)

Diverse Reads
It makes my heart warm to think of how many books I read this year that feature a diverse cast of characters--racially, ethnically, socioeconomically, etc. Here are just a handful of them that I've read this year:

Singing the Dogstar Blues by Alison Goodman
The Snowball Effect by Holly Nicole Hoxter
Tell Me a Secret by Holly Cupala
Forget You by Jennifer Echols
Sea by Heidi R. Kling
The Hunger Games, Book 3: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
The Infernal Devices, Book 1: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Plain Kate by Erin Bow
Hush by Eishes Chayil
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
The Unidentified by Rae Mariz
Black Hole Sun by David Macinnis Gill
Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers
Sugar and Ice by Kate Messner

Three Cheers for the Best Friend! - Supporting Characters
Minor characters should be celebrated as well, especially when they're as well-written as these are.

Sugar and Ice by Kate Messner
Not just Claire, the main character, is lovably well-developed. I love all of Claire's friends and even her not-so-friends. (also on: Best Books Published in 2010, Middle Grade, Diverse Reads)

Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales
Violet may be the star of this charming and hilarious vignette-styled novel, but I love how complex her best friend, Kate, is too. (also on: Feel-Good Reads, Guilty Pleasures, Humor)

Operation Redwood by S. Terrell French
Not only do Julian's friends come in every color of the racial rainbow, but they're also warm-hearted, funny, and passionate--exactly the kind of friends I wish I had had back in middle school. (also on: Middle Grade, POC)

Theatre Illuminata, Act 2: Perchance to Dream by Lisa Mantchev
Who doesn't love Beatrice's tiny fairy friends? (also on: Fantasy, Love Triangles, Bad Boys, Beautiful CoversBeautiful Writing)

And Then I Found Out the Truth by Jennifer Sturman
I love Delia's aunts, friends, crush... basically just everyone she comes into contact with as she tries to solve the mystery. (also on: Summer Reads, Mysteries)

Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern
Nerds FTW! (also on: Feel-Good Reads)

Laughter is the Best Medicine: Humor
Great books for when you want to laugh.

This Book Isn’t Fat, It’s Fabulous by Nina Beck
I think that the way Riley approaches life is so fantastic. I love looking at her predicaments through her eyes. (also on: Feel-Good Reads, Memorable Protagonists)

Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales
Leila Sales sure can write comedy. Violet will either remind you of yourself, and the way you used to (or still do) obsess over school and changing friendships, or she will remind of someone you know, who acts that way. (also on: Feel-Good Reads, Guilty Pleasures, Supporting Characters)

Black Hole Sun by David Macinnis Gill
Durango's back-and-forth with his AI and former boss, Mimi, had been in fits of giggles. (also on: Sci-Fi/Dystopian, Memorable Protagonists, Diverse Reads, Something Different)

The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea Campbell
It's easy to be enamored of Damien's slightly over-the-top horror at finding out he may be a superhero. Being bad has never sounded so...good! (also on: Magical Realism, Memorable Protagonists, Middle Grade)

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
It's not often you find a super-girly protagonist kicking supernatural butt. What more do you expect from a girl whose favorite color is pink and has a pink sparkly Taser? (also on: Paranormal, Best Debuts of 2010, Guilty Pleasures, Bad Boys, Beautiful Covers)

Invisible Lines by Mary Amato
I absolutely love Trevor as a narrator. He can take his depressing circumstances and turn them into situations to cheer him on in. (also on: Middle Grade)

Sucks to Be Me by Kimberly Pauley
Mina's a rather melodramatic narrator, but I had a blast reading about her "vampire education" that I didn't mind the maybe-annoyances! (also on: Paranormal, Guilty Pleasures)

Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs
This reminds me of a Meg Cabot story, only with mermaids. Charming, light-hearted escapism. (also on: Magical Realism, Guilty Pleasures)

Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Oh, there are some moments in this book that had me cracking up in laughter. (also on: Winter Reads, Feel-Good Reads)

Off the Beaten Path: Something Different
If you want to try something different, here are a few books that might interest you.

Black Hole Sun by David Macinnis Gill
Space has become the final frontier... and Durango is just the guy to show us a crazy good time on Mars. (also on: Sci-Fi/Dystopian, Memorable Protagonists, Diverse Reads, Humor)

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
Not your typical love story, not by a long shot. You'll fall in love with Maya and Lochan, despite what an unlikely couple they are. (also on: Best Books Read in 2010, Eternal Romances, Angst-Filled Reads, Families, Messy Relationships)

Voices of Dragons by Carrie Vaughn
About a girl and a dragon who become friends in a time of impending war and misunderstanding between the two species. A great "alternative history" story. (also on: Fantasy, Night-In Reads, Wonderful Worlds)

Nothing by Janne Teller
Imagine if the search for the meaning of our existences led to a particularly gruesome sort of peer pressure... Chyeahhh. That's what I call a WOW-inducing story. (also on: Best Books Read in 2010, Best Books Published in 2010, Sci-Fi/Dystopian, Best Villains)

Stolen by Lucy Christopher
The most poignant and ambiguous tale of Stockholm syndrome maybe ever. (also on: Summer Reads, Quiet Gems, Best Villains, Beautiful Covers)

The Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood
An intriguing blend of historical fiction, magical realism, and horror. An apothecarist's isolated daughter falls in love with the mysterious Weed, he of unknown origins. Both, in turn, fall under the spell of the dangerous garden on their land. (also on: Magical Realism, Eternal Romances, Best Villains)

This Gorgeous Game by Donna Freitas
A haunting tale of an obsession turned scary. (also on: Thought-Provoking Reads, Horror/Suspense/Thriller, Best Villains)

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
In my opinion (and many others'), one of the best YA written, ever. It's in a class of its own and deserves 6 out of 5 stars if that were possible. (also on: Best Books Read in 2010, Night-In Reads, Quiet Gems, Nice Guys, Messy Relationships, Beautiful Writing)

Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves
Not your typical paranormal fare. Featuring a town where it's completely normal for supernatural creatures to come up and kill people. There's even a special police force to deal with it! (also on: Paranormal, Best Debuts of 2010, Families, POC)

Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler
A unique reimagining of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, mixed with contemporary issues--in this case, anorexia. (also on: Magical Realism, Retellings, Bad Boys)

Back to: Master List | Pt. 1 | Pt. 2 | Guest List #1 | Pt. 3 | Guest List #2 | Pt. 4 | Guest List #3 | Pt. 5 | Guest List #4 | Pt. 6 | Pt. 7 | Guest List #5 | Pt. 8

Linked titles go to my book reviews; annotations as inspired.


  1. I love your lists!
    I think I want to check out Sugar and Ice now, since I love middle grade books (such as the original trilogy of the Wedding Planner's Daughter, or Boys are Dogs or the Goddess Girls series, which I've recently gotten obsessed with).

    Also, YAY for Jellicoe Road!! You're so right, probably the best YA ever.

  2. Wow, there's so many on those lists that look fantastic that I'm about to order a whole bunch from my local library!

    That Three Cheers For The Best Friend! list looks brilliant, particuarly Sugar and Ice and Mostly Good Girls. My personal 2010 pick for strongest supporting cast is Jaclyn Moriarty's Dreaming of Amelia - everyone in it is fantastic, particularly the returning characters from Finding Cassie Crazy, and I love Moriarty's writing style which includes blog entries, letters, poetry, and answers to an exam question.


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