Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick
This novel begins in the year 2073 when a man named Eric visits the island of Blessed and meets a woman named Merle. After this beginning section we have six different parts and each one goes back further in time, all the way back to the tenth century. The stories seem very different from one another, but they are all intertwined in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. There is a lot of symbolism in this book and the setting and atmosphere are just the right amount of spooky and mysterious. This is a beautiful book about love and sacrifice and one that is begging to be reread again and again.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
After I read this, I knew I had found my new favorite book. I already posted a review of this book here. Here, I’ll just say if you would like an amazing book about the first year college experience, fandom, writing, social anxiety, and family relationships with the best romance I have probably ever read, then you must absolutely read this book! Even if none of those things sound interesting to you, read it anyway. It is that good.
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
It’s no secret I love speculative fiction/magic realism/literary fantasy/whatever you want to call it. And this book was just my cup of tea. It takes place in the immigrant neighborhoods of New York in 1899. A Jewish man has a rabbi use old magic to make him a wife out of clay, a golem. When the man dies on the passage to the United States, the golem must make her own way in the city. A few blocks away, an Arabic tinsmith accidentally releases an ancient powerful jinni and worlds collide in beautiful ways when the two magical beings meet. I love what one of my new favorite authors, Anne Ursu, had to say about this book, “Here’s an adult book smart and inventive enough to be written for children.”
If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Erin Stead
It’s also no secret that I love whales. Whales are my favorite animal and my dream is to go whale watching, so I found this picture book about whale watching absolutely delightful. In this quiet and thoughtful book, the narrator describes the many things you must not do if you want to see a whale. Erin Stead won the Caldecott Medal a few years ago for A Sick Day for Amos McGee, also delightful. When I went to the ALA exhibits in Chicago this year, I got to meet her and she signed this book for me! I was in heaven.
The Dark Phoenix Saga by Chris Claremont
Even though this was written over thirty years ago, this was the best graphic novel/comic book I read all year and it also made me a dying and eternal fan of the X-Men. I’m always on the lookout for comics with strong female characters, and this story about Jean Grey of the X-Men could very well be the best I’ve read yet. I was initially put off by the retro comics style artwork and coloring, but once I was hooked on the story, it really started to grow on me. When it was over I was begging Michael for more amazing stories like this. Sadly, there really aren’t enough out there. But for a good read in its current run, definitely check out the new all-female cast X-Men title by Brian Wood.
The Doll Bones by Holly Black
This is probably my favorite middle grade book of the year. It has just the right elements creepy old dolls, friendships, magic, quest adventures, and themes of growing up to make it a nearly perfect book. Zach, Poppy, and Alice are three friends who have always created fantasy worlds in their play together. Now that they are growing older, Zach is having doubts about whether he wants to keep playing the game. Then, Poppy tells Zach and Alice a dark story about an old doll in her mother’s cabinet and the ghost of the doll that is haunting her until she returns the doll to the site of her burial. Spooky but not too spooky and lots of fun, I highly recommend this book to readers of all ages, especially since I wish it had been around for me to read when I was younger because I could absolutely relate to these characters and their struggles with growing up and letting go of their fantasy worlds.