January Sharky Awards

In my ever-evolving quest to recognize the books that I read and enjoy (but without writing reviews (because I am terrible at that)), I give out awards that highlight some of my favorite things about the books I’ve read over the past month. And since my bookmark is a shark–a bookshark, if you will–I call them the Sharkys. And because we’ve been freezing our asses off up here in New England lately, here are some sharks made out of snow:

Awesome. Or day I say…jawesome? No, I daren’t.

A word about upcoming Sharky Awards, for any longtime readers out there who care about this sort of thing: there’s going to be a bit more variation in these posts from here on out. A good percentage of the books I read last year were written by the Apocalypsies, the group of YA/MG debut authors that I was lucky enough to be a part of, because we organized this crazy, massive bookswap that led to a bunch of lovely books literally piling up in my mailbox, week after week. This, I realize, is pretty awesome. There’s only one minor problem with it (other than finding the time to read them all), and that is that not all of them were necessarily books that I’d pick up on my own, and not consistent with my normal reading habits on the whole. Now, this is NOT a bad thing–in fact, I think it was a very good thing, as it turned me on to new genres that I might not otherwise have thought I’d like (historical fiction, I’m looking at you). But it did mean that I was forced to cut back on the sort of books that I would normally pick up: new titles by established YA authors, adult fiction, nonfiction, and classics, which I like to sprinkle in every once in a while.

So all this is a long-winded way of saying I really enjoyed my foray into reading a whole bunch of debut YA/MG novels, but now that fewer and fewer of them are showing up in my mailbox every week, I’m going to be returning to my regularly scheduled programming. So. On to the awards!

(Click on the book covers to be taken to the authors’ websites.)

Best Friends
Days of Blood and Starlight, by Laini Taylor
When I read Daughter of Smoke and Bone last year, I awarded it the The Fight Club Award For Making Me Want to Immediately Reread From The Beginning In The Hopes of Finding Dropped Hints Along the Way, and vowed to do just that. Well, I did. (And I still think it’s genius.) Then and only then did I allow myself to indulge in the sequel, and it didn’t disappoint, especially in the friend department. Let’s just say that our old buddy Karou is not having the easiest of times, or the easiest of living situations–but luckily Zuzana and Mik are so awesome that they literally crawl across a desert to get to her. That’s friendship, people.

Best Place to Play Jazz Fusion with Coyotes
Butter, by Erin Jade Lange
So there’s this kid everyone calls Butter who is over four hundred pounds, and he is understandably not very happy about this, so he often turns to his only solace, the saxophone, to pull him out of his funks. But it is not enough to just play it in the comfort of his room. Sometimes he drives until the lights of the city disappear and goes to a secluded hilltop in the Arizona desert and plays as loud as he can into the void without anyone hearing him except–guess who? Coyotes. And they sing back. Aww.

Best Field Trip
Because It Is My Blood, by Gabrielle Zevin
You know how sometimes you just need to get away? Break out of the deplorable girls’ prison that you’ve been sentenced to for the gazillionth time, swim across a freezing river to Ellis Island, then board a cargo ship and vomit up your intestines for ten straight days? Well, have I got a cacao plantation in Mexico for you–complete with adorable boy, welcoming family, and all the chili pepper hot chocolate you can drink. This is the sequel to the utterly wonderful All The Things I’ve Done, and not only did it make me gasp out loud more than once, but it also has a recipe for said hot chocolate. Delicious. (I think. I have yet to try it, but it sounds gut-coatingly awesome.)

Most Unexpected Swears
The Casual Vacancy, by J.K. Rowling
Yes, I’m a Harry Potter fan. Yes, I’m aware that J.K. Rowling’s new book is for adults, and that it’s about as far away from Hogwarts as it is possible to go. I knew all this going in. What I was not prepared for was Obscenity Town, USA. (Or wait–it’s set in England, so I guess it’s more like Obscenityford-upon-Avon, UK.) Not that I minded–I, uh, like swearing–but it was just a wee bit of a surprise. I suppose after having to hold your tongue (pen?) for the sake of little ones for a whole decade, all you want to do is let loose with a string of F-bombs. And who could blame her, for shit’s sake?

Oh, and don’t forget the ROGUE cover reveal giveaway ends next Monday, 2/4! Enter here!

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