Still trying to meet my probably-impossible-but-I'm-going-for-it-anyway Book 2 writing goal, but I couldn't let 2011 end without one more MMGM. And I couldn't think of a better way to wrap up an amazing year in MMGM than to give a shout-out to my five favorite middle grade reads of the year.
But I'll admit--it was HARD picking favorites. I hate doing that in general. Plus, I read SO MANY amazing books this year, how could I limit myself to only 5? So I've narrowed the pool by only picking books that were actually released in 2011--which STILL left me an insane amount to chose from. But, made it a little easier.
Okay--without further ado, here are my five favorite reads of 2011 (in random order!):
BEYONDERS: A World Without Heroes, by Brandon Mull
I love everything Brandon writes, but I especially love this series because the world is so refreshingly new and exciting. (I mean, what other book has a character enter the new world by getting swallowed by a hippo?) Filled with amazingly detailed locations, fascinating new creatures (the Amar Kabal might be my favorite new fantasy species ever) and lovable characters, it's everything I want out of this kind of book and definitely left me desperate for more. (Oh, and I've read the sequel, and DUDE! But more on that later!)
This is a book I discovered by happy accident. I met the author when I was at ALA and he was so nice (and HILARIOUS!) that I HAD to get my hands on a copy of his book. And I loved it. I mean, how could I not love a book about a blind thief? Not to mention it has awesome illustrations throughout. And it's FUNNY. Definitely the kind of book everyone will love--boy, girl, kid, grown-up. Even if you *think* you don't like middle grade, I have a feeling you'll love Peter Nimble.
THE UNWANTEDS, by Lisa McMann
I'll admit, I picked up this book wondering if I was going to like it. I LOVE Lisa McMann, but she's a YA writer, and YA voice and MG voice are two very different things. But as it turns out, Lisa rocks at both. Not only does this book have pretty much the coolest concept ever: a dystopian middle grade (think Harry Potter meets The Hunger Games)--but the world she created is the kind of place that made me want to jump through a painted doorway and spend all day with my talking blackboard and magical art supplies. Not to mention it takes kids that felt "unwanted" and empowers them. Definitely a theme I can get behind. (*waits impatiently for book 2*)
THE CHEERLEADERS OF DOOM (N.E.R.D.S. series 3), by Michael Buckley
The title pretty much says it all, but I'll gush anyway. I love everything Michael writes (if you haven't tried his Sisters Grimm series yet you NEED to!!!), but what I love about this series is that not only does it take nerds and turn them into super spies, but it takes their "weaknesses" and turns them into superpowers. Allergies? Hyperactivity? A bad habit for eating glue? All assets in N.E.R.D.S. land. And if you can't tell by the cover (and title) and awesome illustrations throughout, these books are flipping hilarious. You'll want to start with book 1 if you haven't read this series yet. But if you're up to speed you MUST read book 3.
SPRINKLES AND SECRETS, by Lisa Schroeder
Besides the PERFECT cover and awesome title (makes me want cupcakes and ice cream EVERY time), Lisa's another one of those authors where I love absolutely everything she writes. She's amazing--and you should definitely check out her YA books (like THE DAY BEFORE) if you haven't already. But if you like contemporary middle grade with lovable characters and a ton of heart (and LOTS of sweet treats), this companion novel to IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES (also fabulous) is the book for you. And even if you *think* you don't like that kind of thing, I HIGHLY recommend you give it a chance. This is the kind of book that's hard to pass up. Kind of like dessert. :)
I could seriously keep going--there were SO MANY amazing books this year. And I'm sure I've overlooked some (many because they're probably still buried in my TBR pile, which I'm woefully behind on thanks to all my previous deadlines and now my aforementioned probably-impossible-but-I'm-going-for-it-anyway Book 2 writing goal.) But hey, that just means I have plenty of books to feature on MMGM in the new year. Can't wait!
And it WOULDN'T be MMGM if I didn't have a giveaway, so of COURSE I have one for you. And since I'm featuring five books this time I'm going to do things a little differently and say: Winner's choice! I'll pick one random winner from the comments on this post and let them pick which of the five books they want as their prize. To enter: make sure you follow my blog and leave a comment by 11:59 pm PST on Saturday, December 31st. I'll post the winner on Sunday, January 1st 2012. The best way to kick off a new year (the year my OWN middle grade book comes out---AHHHHHH!) (ahem) Oh, and international entries are welcome--as always!
And while most people are taking the week off for the holidays, there are still a couple other MMGMs floating around out there:
And if you want to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog. It's easier if you email me before Monday, that way your link will be included in the post from the moment it goes live. But if you decide to spontaneously join the fun, I do update the post at several points throughout the Monday. Just email me a link and I'll add you when I do!