Stand-out Author: Holly Black

I’m doing a series on Stand-out Authors — Authors whose books are 2013 Sonderbooks Stand-outs, but are not making their first appearances on my lists.

Holly Black, like three other authors, has her fourth Sonderbooks Stand-out this year.

I’ve read many of her books, and they aren’t always my favorites. This year was her first children’s book (as opposed to YA) that made my list. I wasn’t the only one who loved it, as Doll Bones was also a Newbery Honor Book this year. It’s an atmospheric quest story about three kids growing out of childhood while they lay to rest human bones embedded in a doll.

My other favorites were from the Curseworkers series, with White Cat appearing in 2010, and then again in 2011 in audiobook form. The second book, Red Glove also made an appearance in 2011. These books involve an alternate reality where certain people have the ability to curse others simply by touching them. Cassel has to decide whether to use his powers for good or for evil, for his family or for the government — and which of those is good and which evil.

Holly Black is someone with lots of imagination and a knack of telling a suspenseful story. Check out her books!

Stand-out Authors: Laini Taylor

I’m doing a series on Stand-out Authors — Authors whose books are 2013 Sonderbooks Stand-outs, but are not making their first appearances on my lists.

Laini Taylor is another who has a Sonderbooks Stand-out for the fourth time this year.

I first read her books in 2009. The first one I read was Dreamdark: Blackbringer, which I thought was excellent, and gave a starred review. Then I read its sequel, Silksinger, and was completely blown away. Silksinger was #6 in Fantasy Teen Fiction on the 2009 Sonderbooks Stand-outs.

The same year, I read Lips Touch: Three Times, an innovative collection of three highly original stories. That book was #8 in Fantasy Teen Fiction the same year.

Laini Taylor began a new series in 2011, which is consistently excellent. The first book, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, was #2 in Teen Fiction, Fantasy on my 2011 Sonderbooks Stand-outs, with an amazing story about a devil in love with an angel.

And I read the second book in the series this past year, and wasn’t a bit surprised when it was also a Stand-out. Days of Blood and Starlight was #7 in Teen Fiction on my 2013 Sonderbooks Stand-outs, continuing the dramatic story.

What I noticed about Laini Taylor’s books right from the start is she has the resonance of folklore themes — but not your traditional western folklore. There are twists to these fairies, angels, and demons. She has a whole new perspective, and her imagination stands out. I have no doubt whatsoever that her books will continue to appear on my Stand-outs lists for many years to come.

Stand-out Author: Diana Peterfreund

I’m featuring authors whose books were 2013 Sonderbooks Stand-outs, and it was not their first appearance as a Stand-out.

Now I’m looking at authors who have Sonderbooks Stand-outs for the fourth time in 2013. One of those, Diana Peterfreund, has had every book of hers I read be listed as a Sonderbooks Stand-out, and what’s more, twice her books have been #1 in Teen Fiction.

Her first book, Rampant, was #1 in Teen Fiction in 2009 Sonderbooks Stand-outs, and this year she did it again with Across a Star-Swept Sea.

Last year, For Darkness Shows the Stars was #2 in Teen Fiction in 2012 Sonderbooks Stand-outs, and her #5 showing in 2010 Sonderbooks Stand-outs with Ascendant was a very low showing by Diana Peterfreund’s standards.

I hope she will have many more books forthcoming. I have a feeling she doesn’t know how to write a book I don’t love.

Stand-out Author: Steven Stosny

I’m doing a series on Stand-out Authors, looking at authors with books among my 2013 Sonderbooks Stand-outs who have had books on previous years’ lists.

Steven Stosny is tied for second place with five books that are Sonderbooks Stand-outs. His contribution this year, Living and Loving After Betrayal: How to Heal from Emotional Abuse, Deceit, Infidelity, and Chronic Resentment was #1 in Nonfiction.

The first book I read by Steven Stosny was also #1 in Nonfiction (Personal Growth) on the 2006 Sonderbooks Stand-outs. 2006 was the year my life completely fell apart, and his book You Don’t Have to Take It Anymore was one of the most helpful books I read the whole year.

In 2007, I was reading every Steven Stosny book I could get my hands on, and three more made the 2007 Sonderbooks Stand-outs. However, 2007 was the year I was getting my Master’s in Library and Information Science, and I didn’t ever get those books reviewed. But the other three Sonderbooks Stand-outs were:

#1 in Nonfiction, Relationships: How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It, written with Patricia Love

#2 in Nonfiction, Personal Growth: The Manual of the Core Value Workshop
I got to go to Steven Stosny’s Relationship Boot Camp, and this manual holds much of the information.

And finally, #6 in Nonfiction, Personal Growth: The Powerful Self
All of his books are so affirming, and this one emphasizes that aspect of healing.

You can see why I think of Steven Stosny’s books as a huge part of my healing process! They are all highly recommended.

2013 Stand-out Authors: Maeve Binchy

I’m featuring Stand-out Authors: Authors who appeared previously on my Sonderbooks Stand-outs and are back for 2013.

Two authors appeared for the fifth time this year. But one of those makes me sad, because this will presumably be her last appearance. Maeve Binchy died in 2012, so her 2013 Sonderbooks Stand-out, A Week in Winter, which was #5 in Fiction, is her last book. (Though there are a few I missed, so maybe she can still be on the list posthumously.)

A lot more of Maeve Binchy’s books are my favorites than just five, but I began reading her work before I ever started writing Sonderbooks. In fact, she first showed up on the list in my second year of doing them, 2002, with the book Quentins, which was #2 in Fiction for Grown-ups. Quentins tells about the proprietors of a restaurant in Dublin, and I love that it’s mentioned in almost all her later books.

She consistently continues to appear every few years. In 2004, it was Nights of Rain and Stars, which was #1 in Literary Fiction. In this book, a group of tourists witness a tragedy in Greece, and they form a bond. We learn what’s going on with each person. I also love that some of these characters are referred to in later books. Maeve Binchy’s books are like big family gatherings. You don’t have to know the earlier references, but there’s extra richness if you do.

I think I skipped a couple books there, because the next Maeve Binchy Stand-out is #4 in Fiction in 2009, Heart and Soul. This book features people who work in a heart clinic in Dublin. Again, she gets us inside the heads and hearts of a wide variety of people.

Finally (before this year), we have #2 in Other Fiction in 2011, Minding Frankie. Minding Frankie is about a little girl whose mother dies, and the community of people who come together to care for her.

Community. Getting inside people’s heads and hearts. Maeve Binchy’s books get under my skin every time. She is sadly missed already.

2013 Stand-out Authors: Juliet Marillier

Last year, after posting my Sonderbooks Stand-outs, I did a series on Stand-out Authors, and I’m going to do it again. I will highlight people whose books are Sonderbooks Stand-outs this year, and not for the first time.

This year, there was only one author who appeared more than once — and she appeared four times! Last year, Juliet Marillier had a total of six Sonderbooks Stand-outs to her name. This year, she has ten!

I already featured her earlier books, so let’s just look at the four I read this year.

She had #2 and #3 in Fiction with further books in the Sevenwaters series, The Seer of Sevenwaters and Flame of Sevenwaters. (I couldn’t really decide which one was better, so I just put them in order!)

In Teen Fiction, she had #5, Raven Flight, the sequel to last year’s Sonderbooks Stand-out, Shadowfell.

After reading those, I decided it was high time I catch up on the books she’d written before I discovered her. Now, lately I spend most of my reading time reading books written in the current year. But Juliet Marillier’s Heart’s Blood was well worth making an exception for, and ended up #6 in Fiction.

So not only did Juliet Marillier end up with the most Sonderbooks Stand-outs this year, she’s got twice as many total as the person with the next most.

I definitely need to start calling her one of my favorite authors. And I’ll be seeking out more of her backlist this year, so I have a feeling her name is going to be prominent among 2014 Sonderbooks Stand-outs as well.

Which of her backlist should I read next? Please let me know in the comments!

Stand-out Authors: Second-Timers

Here’s one last post about the authors who appeared on my 2012 Sonderbooks Stand-outs who have had Stand-outs in years past. This post will be about the twelve authors who are appearing this year for the second time. Most of these are only there the second time because I’ve only just discovered them. I’m looking forward to reading more of their work!

Let’s start with the one with the biggest gap. Back in 2002, Patricia Polacco had a #2 Sonderbooks Stand-out in Picture Books with the book Christmas Tapestry, a heart-warming picture book. This year’s Stand-out, The Art of Miss Chew, is yet another heart-warming picture book.

Another picture book author from this year, Kate DiCamillo, co-author of Bink and Gollie: Two for One, had a book on my 2003 Sonderbooks Stand-outs, her Newbery-winning The Tale of Despereaux, which came in at #3 in Children’s Fantasy.

And while I’m talking about Bink and Gollie: Two for One, I should mention that its illustrator, Tony Facile, appeared on my 2011 Sonderbooks Stand-outs with a book he illustrated and wrote himself, Mitchell’s License, my #3 choice in Picture Books in 2011. His style, developed in animation, works so well in picture books.

Back in 2004, another author with a picture book on the list this year had a children’s novel on the 2004 Sonderbooks Stand-outs. Kevin Henkes, author of my #1 Picture Book this year, Penny and Her Song, was #8 in Children’s Contemporary Novels in 2004 with Olive’s Ocean.

And one more picture book author from this year is a second-timer. Jon Klassen’s two Hat books, besides winning ALA recognition, were both Sonderbooks Stand-outs. This year’s offering and Caldecott Medal winner, This Is Not My Hat was #4 in Picture Books on my 2012 Sonderbooks Stand-outs. Last year’s I Want My Hat Back was also #4 in Picture Books, but this one was on my 2011 Sonderbooks Stand-outs.

This year’s Caldecott Medalist is a Second-Timer to Sonderbooks Stand-outs, and so is this year’s Newbery Medalist, Katherine Applegate. The Newbery Medal-winning book, The One and Only Ivan, was #2 in Other Children’s Fiction on 2012 Sonderbooks Stand-outs, but I first discovered her writing in 2009, when Home of the Brave was #1 in Other Children’s Fiction on my 2009 Sonderbooks Stand-outs. (And I usually don’t like prose poems! In both these cases — gorilla or immigrant without much command of English — it seemed completely appropriate.)

And another Newbery Medalist first appeared on my 2009 Sonderbooks Stand-outs, but for Rebecca Stead, it was the earlier book, When You Reach Me, that won the Newbery Medal. It also was my #1 in Children’s Fantasy and Science Fiction. This year, with Liar and Spy, she was #4 in Other Children’s Fiction.

And yet another Newbery Honoree first showed up in 2009. Grace Lin’s Newbery Honor Book, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, was #5 in Children’s Fantasy and Science Fiction on my 2009 Sonderbooks Stand-outs. This year, the companion novel, Starry River of the Sky, was also #5.

There’s one more Second-Timer in Children’s Fiction, and I’m happy to say that she’s a new writer. Her first two books have both been Sonderbooks Stand-outs, and I am hopeful there will be many more to come. Stephanie Burgis’s debut novel, Kat, Incorrigible was #4 in Children’s Fiction on my 2011 Sonderbooks Stand-outs. The follow-up, Renegade Magic, was #8 in Children’s Fantasy and Science Fiction on this year’s list.

One author of Children’s Nonfiction made the Sonderbooks Stand-outs for the second time this year. Philip Hoose had a #1 book on my 2009 Sonderbooks Stand-outs with Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice, and this year he made my list again with Moonbird, at #9 in Children’s Nonfiction.

One writer of Nonfiction for adults appeared on my lists the same two years as Philip Hoose. Karen Casey’s book Change Your Mind and Your Life Will Follow was #2 in Other Nonfiction on my 2009 Sonderbooks Stand-outs. That led directly to my purchasing Each Day a New Beginning, which was #7 in Other Nonfiction on this year’s list.

Finally, one last Second-Timer is the only one writing novels for adults. Chris Cleave first appeared on my 2010 Sonderbooks Stand-outs with the stunning novel Little Bee. Little Bee was #4 in Fiction, and is a book I will remember all my life. (It was only the disturbing nature of the book that got more pleasant books ranked above it. Powerful stuff, though.) This year’s book about the Olympics, Gold, was also #4, this time in Other Fiction (as opposed to Fantasy).

I hope I haven’t seen the last of these authors! May they write many more books, and may I love their future work as much as I did these. If you haven’t caught these books from the past, I highly recommend them. At least with these second-timers, you can easily catch up!

Stand-out Authors: Third-Timers

I’m winding down my posts about authors who were not newcomers to my Sonderbooks Standouts list this year. Six authors had a total of 3 Stand-outs, and twelve authors appeared for the second time. I have a feeling most of those will surely appear again in the future. Tonight I’m going to highlight the six authors who appeared on my Stand-outs list this year for the third time.

First, I have to mention Patrice Kindl, whose book, Owl in Love was reviewed in the very first issue of Sonderbooks.

I began Sonderbooks as an e-mail newsletter in August 2001, and Owl in Love was the Young Adult Fiction representative in Sonderbooks #1. Then it made my 2001 Sonderbooks Stand-outs list, along with a book by Patrice Kindl I’d read earlier in the year, Goose Chase. Both were Young Adult Fantasy, and Owl in Love was #4, and Goose Chase was #6.

This year, Patrice Kindl’s book Keeping the Castle was #7 in Teen Fiction. She is the author with the biggest gap between Stand-out years. I was so happy to find another book of hers to read!

Next I want to mention Diana Peterfreund, who had my favorite book of the year in 2009, Rampant, that innovative fantasy about killer unicorns. The sequel, Ascendant, was #5 in Teen Fantasy and Science Fiction in my 2010 Sonderbooks Stand-outs.

And in this year’s Sonderbooks Stand-outs, Diana Peterfreund’s For Darkness Shows the Stars, a science fiction retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion was #2 in Teen Fiction and right up there among my favorite books of the year. I’m discovering a trend: When Diana Peterfreund publishes a book, it’s going to be one of my favorites of the year.

Moving to Children’s Fiction, my #1 non-science-fiction-or-fantasy children’s novel of the year was Summer of the Gypsy Moths, by Sara Pennypacker, another 3-timer.

Her other Sonderbooks Stand-outs were both books about the irrepressible Clementine. The first book, Clementine, was #2 in Children’s Fiction in my 2010 Sonderbooks Stand-outs. The latest book in the series, Clementine and the Family Meeting, was #7 in Children’s Fiction in my 2011 Sonderbooks Stand-outs.. Will Sara Pennypacker keep up her streak in 2013?

Two authors of Children’s Nonfiction also have three Stand-outs. Steve Jenkins broke into the lists in 2004, when I discovered his amazing book Actual Size. It was #1 in Children’s Nonfiction in my 2004 Sonderbooks Stand-outs.

His detailed cut-paper illustrations never cease to amaze me, and when he combined them with such fascinating information as is found in Never Smile at a Monkey, he made my 2009 Sonderbooks Stand-outs at #4 in Children’s Nonfiction. And this year, he won me over with science and math facts both in Just a Second, which was #6 in Children’s Nonfiction.

Another third-timer has written Children’s Nonfiction in previous years, but this year Candace Fleming made the 2012 Sonderbooks Stand-outs with a picture book. Oh No! was #9 in Picture Books in a stellar year for picture books.

Her nonfiction Stand-outs were The Lincolns, #2 in Children’s Nonfiction in my 2009 Sonderbooks Stand-outs, and Amelia Lost, #5 in Children’s Nonfiction on my 2011 Sonderbooks Stand-outs.

Finally, one adult Nonfiction writer has a total of three Sonderbooks Stand-outs. Immaculee Ilibagiza broke onto my 2009 Sonderbooks Stand-outs with my top two favorite nonfiction books of the year, Left to Tell, and Led by Faith, both powerful stories of forgiveness and faith about her miraculous survival of the Rwandan genocide.

This year’s 2012 Sonderbooks Stand-out, The Boy Who Met Jesus was #6 in Nonfiction: Personal Stories. Immaculee knows how to make miraculous events seem completely believable and incredibly personal.

For all of these authors, I’ll be very surprised if they don’t rack up some more Stand-outs before they finish writing. I’ll be eagerly looking for more of their books.

Stand-out Author: John Green

One of the lovely things about this being my 12th year of posting Sonderbooks Stand-outs, my favorite books of my reading year, is that I can take the long view. I’m doing a series on Stand-out Authors featuring people with a book on my 2012 Sonderbooks Stand-outs who have appeared on my lists before.

There were four authors with 5 Sonderbooks Stand-outs, and there are six with 3. But only one author has a total of 4 Sonderbooks Stand-outs: John Green.

(Here are David Levithan and John Green when I accosted them at the opening of the 2010 ALA Annual Conference Exhibits.)

My son got me following John’s video blog years ago, but I may have been attracted to An Abundance of Katherines by the mathematical symbols on the cover and the storyline that included a math genius. That was the year I didn’t get all my stand-outs reviewed, but An Abundance of Katherines was #4 in Contemporary Teen Fiction on my 2007 Sonderbooks Stand-outs.

Now, really I suppose I should say that John Green has 3.33 Sonderbooks Stand-outs (which is a cool number in itself). Because on my 2008 Sonderbooks Stand-outs, he had 1.33 books make an appearance. Paper Towns was #2 in Contemporary Teen Fiction, and Let It Snow was #3. Since he only wrote a third of Let It Snow, the rest being written by Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle, you can see why I say he has 3.33 Stand-outs.

And then there was this year’s Sonderbooks Stand-out, the truly outstanding The Fault in Our Stars. This was #9 in Teen Fiction, but this time I didn’t separate out the Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Contemporary. The Fault in Our Stars was, in fact, the only Contemporary Teen Novel to appear on my list this year, so that makes it #1 in its category.

At the start of 2012, I got to hear John speak at ALA Midwinter Meeting in Dallas, and he’s a great speaker as well. I’m happy that he’s young — because the chances are good that he will write many more great books before he’s done. He never forgets to be Awesome!

Stand-out Author: Mercedes Lackey

I’m doing a series on authors on my 2012 Sonderbooks Stand-out List who have appeared on my lists before. There’s one author left with a total of 5 Sonderbooks Stand-outs, Mercedes Lackey.

I remember I read some of Mercedes Lackey’s books before I ever started writing Sonderbooks in 2001. The only one that stood out as exceptional to me was Firebird. That one’s a fairy tale retelling, so perhaps it’s not surprising that when Mercedes Lackey began her Tales of the 500 Kingdoms — all playing off of fairy tales — that’s when she consistently got counted among my favorites. I’ve always enjoyed fairy tale retellings, and I love these. So often, they point out what’s odd about the fairy tale, and play off the Tradition with humor and insight and a whole lot of fun.

All of the five stand-outs are from the Tales of the 500 Kingdoms. The first one, The Fairy Godmother, sets the stage for all the rest. Apparently, I was still holding out when I first read it, since it wasn’t a 2004 Stand-out. But with the next book, One Good Knight, she hit the 2006 Sonderbooks Stand-outs at #3 in Romance Fiction.

In my 2007 Sonderbooks Stand-outs, she ranked even higher with Fortune’s Fool at #2 in Fantasy Fiction. (That was the year I didn’t get all my reviews of stand-outs written.)

I remember I liked the books so much, I purchased the next book, The Snow Queen — and then neglected reading it because it didn’t have a due date like all the library books I had checked out. When I finally got around to reading it, it was a 2011 Sonderbooks Stand-out, coming in at #4 in Fantasy Fiction.

This past year, I decided it was time to catch up on the series. (Of course, I was sad when I had done so. I liked knowing there was another one of the books out there I could read.) Both were 2012 Sonderbooks Stand-outs in Fantasy Fiction, Beauty and the Werewolf taking #2, and Sleeping Beauty at #3.

This series doesn’t necessarily have to be read in order, though you might want to start with The Fairy Godmother, which lays the groundwork. But they are all so much fun, you won’t want to miss any!