Unpack-a-thon #1 Results

I did it! I devoted 9 hours to unpacking last weekend. I unpacked 32 boxes and 13 bags.

I still have a loooooong way to go!

However, it dawned on me that I can do another Unpack-a-thon on Memorial Day weekend. The following weekend, I want to do the 48-Hour Book Challenge. The weekend after that, I won’t have a weekend because I traded Fridays so that the weekend after that I can have my birthday off. So I hope I’ll make good headway on Memorial Day weekend.

And it’s already nice to have room to walk around in my kitchen! And to have found some things that were missing.

I ended up, except for the last hour, rotating between the rooms I was working in, starting each hour in the kitchen. So here’s how it went:

In the kitchen, I unpacked 7 boxes and 7 bags. Here was the before picture:

And here is the After picture:

Of course, the main kitchen is a galley kitchen, and I didn’t picture the boxes on shelves, or the four boxes still stacked right outside it. But good progress was made!

Next, each hour I worked on unpacking games, which went in my son’s closet. That is, until the last hour, when I focused on only that, and FINISHED the task! Woo-hoo! All games are stored, besides the ones I brought to the library for our monthly “Brain Games at the Library” program. That program is now well-stocked!

This involved unpacking 10 boxes. Here were some of them Before:

And the entryway is much clearer After:

Next on the list was the Living Room. I unpacked 10 boxes, mostly books, and 2 bags. They mostly went on my biggest bookcase:

Then I worked on my Office. I unpacked 5 boxes in that room, including some books:

Last in the rotation was the Master Bedroom. I only finished unpacking 4 bags from it. These took a bit longer, since I got rid of a sweater chest that had a broken drawer, and I’m trying to figure out where to put everything. Progress was made, but not worth photographing.

Anyway, my theory is that, knowing I’ll be doing lots more next weekend, I can get back to blogging and posting reviews during the week.

I am finding that driving just a bit farther in stop-and-go traffic instead of a freeway *really* makes me sleepy. I was hoping stopping the migraine preventative I’d been trying would clear that up, and maybe it still will, but all that is to say tonight I laid in bed for an hour after I got home, and then I had some bills to pay. (I made my *first* mortgage payment! What a big girl I am!) So — I hope to start posting reviews again *tomorrow*!

But it was nice to come home to a little bit less clutter of boxes. And remember that I really am happy with my new home.


I mentioned last week that I need to devote some solid time to unpacking. I insist it’s *not* that I’m procrastinating! It’s that I’m working full-time and so far my weekends have had other priorities. This last week, I admit, I didn’t get reviews posted *or* much unpacking done.

Anyway, I’m hereby starting my Unpack-a-thon at 11:00 pm on Friday night. It will run for 48 hours, until 11:00 pm on Sunday night.

Now, I don’t really want to do as many hours as I typically do in the 48-Hour Book Challenge. I’m going to have one rule: I’ll work an hour at a time, and do the other things I need to do this weekend in between. My goals are an hour tonight, right after I finish this post, 8 hours tomorrow, and 3 hours on Sunday, for a total of 12 hours. I’ll keep track of how many boxes I get unpacked and hope things look a lot better by the end of the weekend.

This calls for some “Before” pictures:

Here’s my office, where I’m working right now:

And here’s the living room:

My bedroom:

The entrance way:

Yes, um, okay, that is a new bookcase I bought today. It’s my son’s fault! He wanted to use our small two-shelf bookcase at the foot of his bed. I wouldn’t give it to him, until I realized I could use it as an excuse to buy a three-shelf bookcase, which would fit under the wall with the kitchen.

The living room from the other side:

And the area off the kitchen:

Okay, it’s time to unpack! Ready, set, GO!

48-Hour Challenges

So, I’m still in the process of moving in. I love my new home, but I am getting a shorter fuse regarding all these boxes. And annoyed with the things I can’t find. There’s no telling where my DVD remote is. And after watching Episode 1 of Downton Abbey, Season 3, I discovered that I can’t skip an episode or even fast forward without that remote. So I watched Season 1 of Sherlock instead, this time not shutting off the DVD player after I watched Episode 1. I hope I find the remote before my hold on Downton Abbey comes in again!

Yes, I’m trying for a box or two a day, but what I really need is some concentrated time. The first weekend here, I had to spend moving out of my old place. The next weekend, I bought balcony furniture and flowers (*So* worth it!).

And this weekend, I picked up my son from the finish of his first year at William & Mary and spent some time with him for Mother’s Day. Also totally worth it!

But I need some concentrated time! I was thinking about the 48-Hour Book Challenge that Mother Reader usually hosts the weekend after Memorial Day. Well, this year she’s not hosting it, but I think I will probably do it anyway, at least in a low-key way. I’d love to catch up on some reviewing, and it always is such a privilege to set everything else aside and say, “I can’t do that. I’m reading!”

However, I think next weekend, I will hold my own personal Unpack-a-thon. Or perhaps I’ll call it my own 48-Hour Unpacking Challenge. I’ll see how many hours out of 48 I can spend unpacking — and then see if I can match that number in the Book Challenge. Just to get some of it *done*.

For example, I can’t do Sonderling Sunday until I find my German books. I *think* I know which boxes they’re in, but I need to actually open those boxes.

So today, for Mother’s Day, after a nice nap, I will have my son take me out to eat, and then we’ll play the game he bought me, Twilight Struggle, a game about the Cold War. (The first time we played, I “won” when nuclear war started on his turn.) But next week, after my Unpack-a-thon, I’m hoping I’ll have some German books out and be ready to start up Sonderling Sunday again.

SLJ BoB is Here!

It’s that time of year! School Library Journal’s Battle of the Books is starting up! (I keep hearing this rumbling that other tournaments happen in March, but I’ve never heard about anything so exciting.)

What is SLJ’s Battle of the Books? The stellar Battle Commanders and Commentator choose 16 of the best children’s books of the previous year and arrange them in tournament brackets. The judges are distinguished children’s and young adult authors. Their tales of their travails while judging are my favorite part of the battle (unlike Roger Sutton). The judges usually manage to make an entertaining and brilliant commentary, playing off themes or styles from the books they judged.

And until tomorrow, you can still vote in the Undead Poll for one book, if slighted by the judges, to come back from the dead for the Big Kahuna Round at the end.

But enough about the details! Let’s talk about the books!

This year, by the time the books were announced, I’d read 15 of the 16 books, a new record. (No, I take that back. I was halfway through Bomb.) I still haven’t read Endangered, but it’s next on my TBR pile, so I might (maybe?) finish it before its match on March 14.

What’s more, not only have I read 15 of the books, I’ve reviewed all 15. Now, I only review books I like, and in previous years, let’s just say that I did not review all of the Battle books. Okay, a few of the reviews are not glowing. But I still liked them enough to review them. What’s more, out of the fifteen I’ve read, nine made my 2012 Sonderbooks Stand-outs. Two of the remaining six (Bomb and Three Times Lucky) I didn’t read until 2013, but they are highly likely to be 2013 Sonderbooks Stand-outs. So it’s pretty clear I like their choices this year.

Here are the first round match-ups with my pick listed first:

Match One, judged by Kenneth Oppel:
Wonder vs Bomb
This one’s a toughie. Bomb is probably the more excellently crafted book. But, doggone it, hasn’t it gotten enough awards? The Sibert, the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction, Newbery Honor, oh my! Shouldn’t Wonder at least win a round in Battle of the Books?

Mind you, whichever book wins Match One, I want to win the first round only, because look what’s in the second match:

Match Two, judged by Margarita Engle:
Code Name Verity vs. Titanic: Voices from the Disaster
Sorry, Titanic. I liked you enough to name you #3 Sonderbooks Stand-out in Children’s Nonfiction. But Code Name Verity was my favorite book read in 2012, and that hasn’t changed. Yes, this was also my pick in the Undead Poll, but I don’t really want it to win that way. I want every judge to acknowledge its brilliance. However, I realize not all judges are so perspicacious. We shall see how they do in acknowledging greatness.

Match Three, judged by Kathi Appelt
Three Times Lucky vs. Endangered
Yes, I realize this isn’t fair, since Endangered is the one book I haven’t read yet. But I have a soft spot for Three Times Lucky, and I find myself hoping I don’t like Endangered as much. (Though it would be fun to see Endangered go up against The One and Only Ivan in a later round. If only for the cartoon SLJ’s artist would draw.)

Match Four, judged by Deb Caletti
The Fault in Our Stars vs. Temple Grandin
Again, I’m sorry, Temple Grandin. It’s not that I don’t like nonfiction. But I did think The Fault in Our Stars was wonderful. And this is another case where I’d like to see a stellar book get a bit more recognition. I notice The Fault in Our Stars was #9 in Teen Fiction on my Sonderbooks Stand-outs, but Temple Grandin was #8 in Children’s Nonfiction. So I have to admit that #9 in Teen Fiction is higher in my affections than #8 in Children’s Nonfiction. So sue me.

Speaking of Stars:

Match Five, judged by Adam Gidwitz
Starry River of the Sky vs. Jepp, Who Defied the Stars
My affection for Starry River of the Sky is mingled with admiration for what a sweet person Grace Lin is, since I got to hear her speak at KidLitCon last year. But I also not only read Starry River of the Sky, I also listened to it, and that made me appreciate its structure and craft even more than the first reading. Jepp? Well, I did review it, and I only review books I like…. But I want Starry River of the Sky to come out of this match shining.

Match Six, judged by Franny Billingsley
Liar & Spy vs. Splendors & Glooms
I don’t think my ranking here will surprise anyone. Liar & Spy was a 2012 Sonderbooks Stand-out, but Splendors & Glooms was not. Now, Splendors & Glooms is much more similar to Franny Billingsley’s books, all atmospheric and creepy and magical, than Liar & Spy is. But my first year when I tried to predict Battle of the Books choices by thinking judges would pick books similar to their own, I got them all wrong. My current theory is that judges are quicker to see flaws in books like their own, or are perhaps extra admiring of someone who pulls off a book they could never write. So I hope Franny Billingsley will agree with me.

Match Seven, judged by Marie Lu
Seraphina vs Moonbird
Okay, I admit, this time it looks like I’m simply choosing fiction over nonfiction. Because Moonbird was a 2012 Sonderbooks Stand-out, but Seraphina wasn’t. And Moonbird was #9 in its category, and Seraphina was in a much tougher category, fantasy for teens. I’d always have a hard time rooting against a good fantasy novel for teens.

Match Eight, judged by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
The One and Only Ivan vs. No Crystal Stair
Sorry, but no contest here. Count me an Ivan fan. Again, my ranking in Sonderbooks Stand-outs is telling: The One and Only Ivan was #2 in Children’s Fiction, but No Crystal Stair, while reviewed, was not a Stand-out.

On reflection, I’m pretty lucky with the first round — few of my favorites are pitted against one another. But I’m setting up to be much more upset if any of my favorites lose!

Now, I’ll make new predictions for Round Two, but just a run-down on how it would go if I got to judge all the matches:

Code Name Verity would win every match in which it appears.

The Fault in Our Stars would win the second round before succumbing to Code Name Verity‘s brilliance. Though I must admit, I’d cheer for Mo if Three Times Lucky pulled off a win.

In the bottom half of the tournament, I’m almost counting on one of my favorites not advancing, so I won’t have to choose between Starry River of the Sky and Liar & Spy, though I’d probably go with Starry River of the Sky. But I would want Ivan to win all its matches until it faces Code Name Verity.

For the book coming back from the dead, I’m hoping it won’t be necessary for Code Name Verity to be resurrected, making it a match-up with Code Name Verity, The Fault in Our Stars, and The One and Only Ivan, with, you know it, Code Name Verity coming out on top. (It’s gotten enough Honor! Time to WIN!)

But believe me, I don’t expect the judges will see it my way. They never do!

How about you? What are your picks? (Links to blog posts are good, too!)

Bloggiesta Sum-Up

Well, that didn’t work out like I hoped it would!

Okay, I knew my goals were impossible, but I thought I could make a lot more progress than I did.

However, I think I had a mini-stroke last week. I no longer overreact. I no longer head to the Emergency Room, or even call my neurologist. [The very very good news is that I see a specialist at Johns Hopkins this coming Friday. This will give me something more to tell him!] I suspect the mini-stroke was so small, it would not show up on an MRI. None of the others did! (But one I felt, and one caused permanent double vision if I look in certain directions.) However, all of them leave me feeling weak and dizzy if I walk around. I get better after a couple weeks, and I was doing great at PLA (Thank you, God!). But this week I had another setback, and the feeling is continuing through this weekend. I feel a lot more annoyed with it on my days off than I do on work days, I’m a bit ashamed to say!

So, I thought I could spend several hours on catching up on reviews. But I spent a big part of both days napping. I did get in a game of Dominion with my son both days, but that was worth it! I won’t be able to do that later in the week, when he’s at his Dad’s. And I do have two more days off, but I will definitely need to do some of the chores and errands I put off, ostensibly for Bloggiesta.

However! All that said, one of the best things about Bloggiesta, honestly, was reading this post at Chachic’s Book Nook. Like Chachic, my blog is meant to be My Happy Place. This is for fun!

So — though I only got 3 reviews written, I have put many more books than that back in my bag to return to the library. I do not need to say, “Here’s a good book,” unless I have a bit more to say about it than that. And I was nicely reminded to keep this fun.

Other things I did: I did make it to part of two of the Twitter parties.

I posted a review both days, and another blog entry both days, and a Sonderquotes entry both days, and a Sonderblessings entry today.

I attempted to upgrade my blogs, but ran into trouble with the needed database upgrade. I will take that up with Yahoo some time when I’m not expecting commenters, so it won’t be so bad if the whole site is down for awhile.

I did not achieve the commenting mini-challenge — only making 6 comments. But I do plan to go back to the Bloggiesta list to visit blogs in the future.

The other mini-challenges also didn’t get done, but again, the instructions stay there, so I can always go back to them when I’m feeling better.

Summing up, I still have piles of To-Be-Reviewed books. But they are smaller, and I do think my attitude toward them lightened up. I remembered how much fun this is!

Oh, and I found a whole bunch of delightful bloggers to follow on Twitter! That’s going to add some fun to my days long into the future.

Will I do Bloggiesta again? Absolutely!

Go, Zombie, Go!

Well, today the last of my three favorite books in School Library Journal’s Battle of the Kids’ Books was knocked out.

To review, those three favorites, probably in this order, were: Okay for Now, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and Chime. Though I’m plenty fickle, because in her brilliant analysis, E. Lockhart got me completely behind her choice of Chime over Daughter.

Now, in a side note, didn’t I tell you that authors tend to pick the book least like the one they’d write themselves? So, once I thought about it, I wasn’t really surprised Maggie Stiefvater didn’t move Chime along. And let’s just say that I loved her book, The Scorpio Races, more than either Chime or Daughter of Smoke and Bone. But that’s the way these things go. The fun is not in having my own choices vindicated (They usually aren’t.); the fun is in reading brilliant authors talking about reading brilliant books.

Now, I said last week that I was pretty sure I would choose any book in the first half over any book in the second half.

But now that I know the books that have won, I actually think I would pick Drawing from Memory over Between Shades of Gray. DfM is growing on me as I read the judges’ comments, and it really is a brilliant book. And, let’s face it, Between Shades of Gray is much more depressing.

What’s that you say? Drawing from Memory is up against Life: An Exploded Diagram tomorrow and may not even make it to the Final Round? I am not even going to consider that possibility! It would be too wrong.

But all this is a moot point, and here’s why: I want the Zombie to win!

You see, every year since the second, the fun thing about SLJ’s BoB is that they hold an Undead Poll before the Battle begins. Fans vote for their favorite book to come back from the dead and compete in the final round, if it got knocked out sooner. This year, I voted for Okay for Now, but I would be very happy if any one of my top three favorites was the winner. I think my chances of one of these three being the winner are very good. — They were all three popular books.

And this is cool because now they don’t have to compete against each other, so I can wholeheartedly root for the Zombie to win.

Go, Zombie, Go!

Battle of the Books Round Two!

As of today, Round One of School Library Journal’s Battle of the Kids’ Books is complete, and today things really heated up! You can tell from the comments, I wasn’t the only one disappointed when Okay for Now was knocked out today.

As far as predicting went, I was feeling cocky when my first five predictions won. Then, alas, my next three lost, so my top bracket looks like I wanted it to (except for the awful fact of two favorites competing against each other next round), but the bottom half is full of books I’m just not as crazy about, especially since the one I got right in the bottom half wasn’t a big favorite, anyway.

But I’m now ready to talk about how I’d like the rest of the Battle to go. Will I get my way? Probably not. I usually don’t. But I’m sure that there will be some eloquent explanations made, even when I think the judges are woefully misguided.

Round Two, Match One: Amelia Lost vs. Between Shades of Gray

For this one, I’m definitely rooting for Between Shades of Gray. Because it made me forget it wasn’t nonfiction, but also caught me up in the plight of the characters.

Now, the judge for this contest is Marc Aronson, who writes excellent Children’s Nonfiction himself. Will that bias him toward picking Amelia Lost? Well, I’m going to go with my old tried and true guess that judges usually pick the book least like the ones they write. Though I strongly suspect Marc Aronson might be an exception to that rule, since the one I really want to win is Between Shades of Gray, I’ll stick with that choice as my prediction.

Round Two, Match Two, my heartbreaker match:
Chime vs. Daughter of Smoke and Bone

When I ranked my 2011 Sonderbooks Stand-outs, I listed Daughter of Smoke and Bone ahead of Chime (just barely), and I’m going to stand by that ranking. Both books feel like innovative, creative, something-new fantasy stories, so I loved both. Some accused Daughter of being just another paranormal romance, but Laini Taylor was writing fantasy tales based on less well-known folklore long before the paranormal rage, so I definitely don’t think she was copying anyone. I didn’t like the love-at-first-sight aspect — until the back story was given and I found out why it wasn’t actually love at first sight. I do know I’m really really looking forward to seeing how the story develops in the next installment. (The worst thing about Daughter of Smoke and Bone was the way it “ended”: “To be continued…”)

Given how I feel about these books, you won’t be surprised at my prediction/hopes for
Round Three, Match One:
I want whichever book wins Round Two, Match Two to defeat whichever book wins Round Two, Match One. Because I like both Chime and Daughter of Smoke and Bone better than Between Shades of Gray or Amelia Lost.

Now, the bottom half, where my favorites are not doing as well:

Round Two, Match Three:
Drawing from Memory vs. Inside Out and Back Again

I definitely want Drawing from Memory to win.

Round Two, Match Four:
Life: An Exploded Diagram vs. Wonderstruck

I definitely want Wonderstruck to win.

I don’t think I need to go over again the things I didn’t like about Life and Inside Out and Back Again. I read all four and only chose to review two. You can read those reviews to see the things I liked about the two I reviewed.

Then, for Round Three, Match Two:
If my predictions are right, and this is Drawing from Memory vs. Wonderstruck, I would be torn, but I think I’d want Drawing from Memory to win.

If either of those books loses in Round Two, I want the other to win Round Three. If both of them lose Round Two, I would probably pick Life over Inside Out and Back Again, but wouldn’t feel strongly about that choice, because I’d want them to lose the next round!

For the Final Round?
Okay, I’m really hoping that Okay for Now wins the Undead Poll. If not, then whichever book loses Round Two, Match Two.

Not considering the Undead, I want whichever book wins Round Three, Match One to defeat whichever book wins Round Three, Match Two. Except maaaaaaybe if it were Amelia Lost vs. Drawing from Memory. In my Sonderbooks Stand-outs, I ranked Drawing from Memory just higher, and I should really stand by that.

Now, throwing the Undead winner in there could change it. I’ll post again after the Undead winner is announced. In general, my top three books in the tournament are Okay for Now, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and Chime probably-but-not-necessarily-definitely in that order. So if Okay for Now does win the Undead Poll, I want it to win. Otherwise, I’ll go with the winner of the top half. If we end up with Daughter of Smoke and Bone vs. Chime, I’ll have to go with the opinion expressed above, with Daughter edging out Chime.

Clear as fog? You know I won’t be able to resist further comments as the tournament continues. I am pleased with the set of books left after the first round. And whatever happens, it’s going to be entertaining!

Battle of the Kids’ Books, Week Two

School Library Journal’s Battle of the Kids’ Books has completed it’s first week, and I guessed EVERY match correctly! Go me!

Maybe it’s helping that this year, for the first time, I’ve read ALL the contenders. Mind you, I only finished them this week, but I did finish every book before its match. And tonight, I posted a review of a book in Monday’s match, The Grand Plan to Fix Everything.

So it’s time to post my picks for the rest of the first round. I have no more excuses.

But right away, Monday’s match, Drawing from Memory vs. The Grand Plan to Fix Everything, is a super tough match to decide.

Before I read Grand Plan, I was sure Drawing from Memory would win. It’s a unique book, not quite a graphic memoir, not quite a picture book, and a true story as well. It doesn’t fit well with Newbery or Caldecott criteria, but it’s definitely a distinguished book.

Grand Plan has the disadvantage of being in Present Tense, which I hate, but the book itself completely won me over. And I find myself thinking we need a few light-hearted books in this Battle. Things are a bit dreary so far. On top of that, Barbara O’Connor’s books are much more like Grand Plan than Drawing from Memory, and I know from painful experience that judges often don’t pick the book most like their own. But it’s really hard for me not to tap her as choosing The Grand Plan to Fix Everything. It seems almost like a book she would have written.

But on reflection, for excellence in art and story, for NOT being in present tense, and for being least like a book the judge would write herself, I’m going to pick Drawing from Memory. But I won’t be sad if I’m wrong — it would be nice to have a light-hearted book left in the second round.

I’m afraid the other Round One matches were pretty easy for me. Let’s just say I didn’t like Life: An Exploded Diagram or Inside Out and Back Again enough to review them. Okay, let’s say a little more. Life felt like a literary book for adults, not a book for teens, since a lot of the book is from an adult’s perspective. If I had picked it up expecting a literary book for adults, I probably would have enjoyed it more, though it still wouldn’t have been a favorite. With Inside Out and Back Again, it was up against my not being terribly fond of prose poems. Besides that, it reminded me of K. A. Applegate’s Home of the Brave, which aroused a lot more sympathy in me, for some reason.

That makes my pick for Match Six, Heart and Soul, and my pick for Match Seven, A Monster Calls.

Match Eight, Okay for Now vs. Wonderstruck, was more difficult. I did think Wonderstruck was brilliant, and I wish it weren’t up against that book I championed all year long, Okay for Now. So despite Wonderstruck‘s excellence, for Match Eight, I have to go with my favorite middle grade book in this competition (How’s that for couching my words?), Okay for Now.

I’ve written reviews for Heart and Soul, A Monster Calls, and Wonderstruck, and will try to post them all before their matches. Meanwhile, may the odds be ever in your favor!

Battle of the Kids’ Books, Week One

Today I stayed home from work with a headache, but on the plus side, the one thing I was able to do was read, and I finished two contenders from School Library Journal’s Battle of the Kids’ Books, Between Shades of Gray, by Ruta Sepetys, and The Grand Plan to Fix Everything, by Uma Krishnaswami. That leaves me with only one book left of the sixteen contestants. It’s probably the shortest, Inside Out and Back Again, so I hope to finish it tonight or tomorrow.

Since Inside Out and Back Again doesn’t compete until next week, I thought I’d post my picks for the first week.

The first match happened today. My pick, Amelia Lost, was the winner. Judge Matt Phelan gave a brilliant analysis of both books.

Getting them finished in the nick of time, tonight I posted reviews of both of tomorrow’s contenders: Between Shades of Gray, by Ruta Sepetys, and Bootleg, by Karen Blumenthal.

You can see from my reviews that I thought both books were brilliant. But for my pick to win, I have to go with Between Shades of Gray for the way it made me continually forget that I was reading fiction, not fact.

The remaining matches this week involve two of my favorites for the entire tournament, so these ones I care a lot more about:

For The Cheshire Cheese Cat vs. Chime, I definitely want Chime to win.

For Daughter of Smoke and Bone vs. Dead End in Norvelt, despite the brilliance of Newbery-winning Dead End in Norvelt, my heart is solidly with Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

But, again, half the fun is reading the judges’ analysis and opinions. Who will win this year? Stay tuned!

Battle of the Kids’ Books is Coming!

My post is up on School Library Journal’s Battle of the Kids’ Books (SLJsBoB) website!

In that post, I told my reasons for loving SLJsBoB and how much fun it is to participate through reading the books and commenting.

Here, I will point out that you still have time to read the books before the competition begins on March 13th! Don’t delay! It’s lots of fun! Here are the Brackets with the books that will be competing.

Now, I hadn’t seen the Brackets before I wrote the post that’s up today. So now I will point out that Amelia Lost, Chime, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Drawing from Memory, and Okay for Now are all 2011 Sonderbooks Stand-outs.

Interesting! I only now noticed that all of these Sonderbooks Stand-outs are in different first-round pairings from each other. So I don’t need to tell you which book I will root for in those pairings. I’m going to go with my Stand-out every time.

Now, I only have four more books to read before the Battle starts. Most of them I will try to review before March 13th. Based on what I’ve read now, my picks for the remaining pairings will be:

Match Two: Between Shades of Gray vs Bootleg. I haven’t read Between Shades of Gray yet, and Bootleg was very good, so I’ll pick Bootleg with the caveat that this pick may very well change after I read the other book. I think that judge Gayle Forman’s books are more similar to Between Shades of Gray, but I have found that often judges pick the book least like the ones they write. (With lots of exceptions, though.)

Match Six: Heart and Soul vs Inside Out and Back Again. Again, I haven’t read Inside Out and Back Again, and Heart and Soul is amazing. So I’ll go with Heart and Soul unless Inside Out and Back Again blows me away, which it may.

Match Seven: Life: An Exploded Diagram vs A Monster Calls
This one there’s no question in my mind: I’m rooting for A Monster Calls. I’ve read both, and while Life: An Exploded Diagram was good, A Monster Calls was dazzling. Also, Life felt much more like an adult book to me. I think if I’d chosen to read it as a piece of adult literary fiction, I would have known what to expect and enjoyed it a lot more. My main reasons for not naming A Monster Calls a Sonderbooks Stand-out were personal. I read it when having mysterious health problems, and it’s about a mother dying. But the book is outstanding!

So, those are the only matches that don’t have a Sonderbooks Stand-out competing, and I’ll go with my Stand-out for all the others.

Meanwhile, you can already take part by participating in the Undead Poll. In this, you vote for your favorite title and, if it has been knocked out earlier in the competition, it will come back from the dead in the final round.

I decided to vote for Okay for Now, because I was sad it didn’t get any Newbery recognition. I’ve also found that a lot of people, like me, love it, but also a lot of people really don’t like it. So, in case it gets knocked out by a judge who falls into that second camp, I want it to have another chance.

Thinking about it later, I kind of wish I’d voted for Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Because two of my favorites, Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Chime are in the same half, one of them is definitely not going to make the Final Round. So I should have voted for the one that I like a tiny bit better than the other, to give it another chance. Oh well! Here’s hoping it makes it to the Final Round despite me! And I won’t mind if it’s Chime either, though my ideal final round would be Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Chime, and Okay for Now. But the only way that will happen is if one of those first two wins the Undead Poll. So get out there and vote!

PS: HOW much fun is it to have an SLJsBoB icon?!!! Monica and Roxanne told me I could post it on my site.