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Flash Reviews

Our newest state booklist will be released soon-our ratings for the books on the shortlist are due December 1st! I'm compiling my thoughts on some of the Gateway Award Nominees since our ratings are due soon. These will be shorter than normal reviews aka "flash reviews." While these books are shortlisted on the Gateway Award List and I am a reader selector for the list, these reviews reflect my own personal opinion and not that of the committee or the Missouri School Library Association. (And this isn't all of the books-I'm still working on several and I've reviewed many others already on this blog!) I'll keep you updated on the final list and try and post more of my reviews as I read. If you've read any, I'd love to know your thoughts!

Rating: 3/5

I really wanted to like this book since I typically love novels in verse. But this one fell short for me. The characterization was lacking-there were several characters that were introduced that were gone shortly after and I never really got to know them or their purpose in the story. Also, because this is a story of abuse told from the "invisible" daughter's point of view, the threat of abuse didn't loom as large as I think it would have if it had been told by one of the kids who was being abused. It still is a powerful story and I think some readers who enjoy realistic fiction told in verse would enjoy this one.

Liar by Justine Larbalestier

Rating: 2.75/5 Stars

Hmm...what to say? What an odd and interesting book! This was just a little weird for me. It's not for people who like their books wrapped up neatly-the narrator is unrealiable so you never know what part of the story is the truth which can be very frustrating for the reader. The ending leaves you scratching your head and wondering what was real and what wasn't. And I could have done without the big twist-I would have preffered the book to be about a pathological liar and not a pathological liar with a twist (and yes, the twist made me roll my eyes and think "can't we have realistic fiction anymore?")

Lost by Jacqueline Davies

Rating: 2/5 Stars

One of my least favorite on the list. I don't even know why this one didn't work for me. I just felt bored with the story. There were supposed to be a few plot twists, but I saw them coming, so there was no surprise for me, which made me disappointed. I also couldn't really relate to the main character, which made it hard for me to get into the story. I don't like historical fiction that much to begin with, so it was hard to get into this one with the slow moving storyline. I think it'd be better for older readers and readers who typically enjoy historical fiction.

Rating: 5/5 Stars did this not win the Printz Award?? I'm still puzzling over that one!
This was one of my favorites on the list and I think it's a must read for high
schoolers! Lia's story is heartbreaking but one you can't pull yourself away
from. My heart went out to her as I read (or actually listened to) this book.
I also loved the audiobook narration. When Lia is thinking about calories or
about food, the narrator has this whispering voice that portrays the inner
voice Lia is dealing with. A powerful novel about a horrible disease. It's
heartbreaking yet hopeful and the story sticks with you long after you read it.

Does your state have a reading list? I'd love to know about it and what books are on it!

Full Disclosure: All books were library copies or audiobook downloads I paid for with my
very own money!


  1. I also really liked Wintergirls. But, I also enjoyed Liar and Lost. I am Furniture was written by a woman who lives in my town so I keep meaning to read it... bummer to hear you didn't love it

  2. Great mini-reviews. Thanks for the concise insight into these books :D

  3. Great post!! Full of good stuff - i love little mini-reviews and I can't wait to read "Wintergirls"

  4. I helped with the Louisiana Young Readers Choice Awards last year at the school level. The books are presented in the fall, the kids read a minimum of three titles in their age range, and they vote for one.

    Your program sounds different. Are you selecting the books to be on the Missouri list? I think that would be really satisfying.

    Last year at my school, 3-5 grade especially enjoyed EMMY AND THE INCREDIBLY SHRINKING RAT. 6-8 loved SCHOOLED.

  5. I completely agree with you about Liar and Wintergirls.

    I totally rolled my eyes with the Liar twist. It's so misleading because most of the people who go to pick the book up are people who are normally drawn to realistic fiction (like me), so when you get to the midway point of the book you're just like, "REALLY?? Did she have to go THERE?" It's an extremely frustrating book because you have no idea if the author intended the reader to believe the narrator or not.

  6. Liar was an excellent book but it was so filled with grey. I'm not a grey girl. I like things wrapped up (at least to a more certain degree than this book did) with a nice little bow at the end. So I struggled a good deal with it.

  7. Ok, I totally side with you on WinterGirls. I read it this year and thought it was WONDERFUL!

  8. I found Liar rather confusing as well. It was one of those books that I thought would be interesting based off the cover but it was not a favorite of mine. I really enjoyed Wintergirls as well.
    In Ohio, we have the Teen Buckeye Award which is voted by Ohio high school students. Here's a link about it. The 2010 winners will be announced Dec. 1st.

  9. In Texas we have the Lone Star List for Middle School readers (6 - 8th grade) and TAYSHAS for high school. I'm an elementary through 8th grade librarian, so the Lone Star is my middle school list and it's usually full of awesome books. Next year's list is already up and my favorite book so far is Fat Cat by Robin Brande.


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