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My Progress:

11 / 30 books. 37% done!

2024 Literary Escapes Challenge

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My Progress:

23 / 51 states. 45% done!

2024 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

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16 / 50 books. 32% done!

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Booklist Queen's 2024 Reading Challenge

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25 / 40 books. 63% done!

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9 / 25 books. 36% done!

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6 / 26.2 miles (second lap). 23% done!

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22 / 100 books. 22% done!

2024 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

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58 / 104 books. 56% done!

Around the Year in 52 Books Reading Challenge

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42 / 52 books. 81% done!

Disney Animated Movies Reading Challenge

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60 / 165 books. 36% done!
Tuesday, August 08, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday: And the Award Goes To...

Good Tuesday morning from rainy Arizona! I don't get to say that very often, but I woke up to loud thunder rumbles and now we've got rain. Yay! We need the moisture, plus the cooling effect. (It's ONLY 88 degrees outside right now.) Let's hope the stormy weather sticks around all day.* It's a nice change from the unrelenting sun and heat. Channeling my inner Al Roker, I just have to ask, "How's the weather in your neck of the woods?"

Today's TTT prompt is a great one: Top Ten Books I've Read/Want to Read Because of Top Ten Tuesday. I've added dozens, probably hundreds, of books to my TBR list over the many years that I've been participating in this fun meme. Unfortunately, though, I am absolute rubbish at remembering who recommended waht or even where I first heard about a certain title. I need to be better at this because I know there's nothing more satisfying than someone telling me they read a book I recommended and loved it. 

Since today's topic (wonderful as it is) would overtax my aging memory way too much, I'm going to go rogue. Book awards time is fast approaching. In past years, I've been involved in the CYBILS Awards as well as two different award programs for books produced by members of my church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints): the Whitney Awards and the Association for Mormon Letters (AML) Awards. I'm not sure yet which I'll be a part of this year or in what capacity, but I will at least be nominating titles. Middle grade fiction is my favorite genre to read for awards season, so I'm going to give you eleven that I'm planning to read because they seem like worthy contenders for these book awards.

Please consider nominating books for both the CYBILS and the Whitneys. (The AML Awards doesn't accept nominations—all titles published by Latter-day Saints that fit the contest parameters are considered nominees.) The CYBILS public nomination period runs from October 1 to October 15, after which author/publisher nominations open. Nominations are already open for the Whitney Awards. If you've read a novel by a Latter-day Saint author that was (or will be) published between November 1, 2022, and October 31, 2023, nominate it here. You may not think you know of any authors who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but you do: Brandon Sanderson, Shannon Hale, Kasie West, Julie Berry, Amy Harmon, Brandon Mull, Jennifer A. Nielsen, Stephenie Meyer, James Dashner, Sarah M. Eden, Ally Condie, and many more.    

As always, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Click on over to her blog and give her some love.

Top Ten Eleven Middle Grade Books I'm Planning to Read in Anticipation of Book Awards Season
- in no particular order -
- Asterisks indicate books that are eligible for the Cybils Awards, the Whitneys, and the AML Awards - 

1. Lasagna Means I Love You by Kate O'Shaughnessy—I just started this epistolary novel which is written in a series of letters from a grieving 11-year-old to her Nan, who has recently died. With no one else to care for her, Mo is thrust into the foster care system. She finds strength and healing in learning to cook and collecting family recipes from others, while secretly hoping one of her long-lost relatives will come out of the woodwork and share one from her family. Oh, and maybe adopt Mo while they're at it...

2. Morning Sun in Wuhan by Ying Chang Compestine—Written by a woman who grew up in Wuhan, this novel is about 13-year-old Mei, whose life in the city is turned upside down when COVID hits. As in the previous book, she's grieving the loss of a loved one and finds solace in cooking. Anxious to help with a situation that's fast growing desperate, Mei seeks to spread light in a dark situation. 

3. 102 Days of Lying About Lauren by Maura Jortner—When 12-year-old Lauren "Mouse" Suszek is abandoned by her mother at an amusement park, she knows the key to avoiding being dumped in foster care is to stay hidden. Then, a stranger named "Cat" comes looking for Lauren. Mouse's happiness depends on her avoiding "rescue"—or does it?

4. No Matter the Distance by Cindy Baldwin*—Taking care of her cystic fibrosis dominates Penny Rooney's life, but she doesn't want the disease to define her. Struggling to find herself beyond her CF, Penny discovers new purpose and identity in helping a sick dolphin make its way from the creek where its stuck back to its ocean home.  

5. Sincerely Sicily by Tamika Burgess—This debut novel stars Sicily Jordan, a proud Black Panamanian tween. When she starts attending a new school where no one knows her, she finds herself having to defend her dual ethnicity for the first time. Even some of the people close to her are questioning her seemingly divided loyalties. How can Sicily show them all that she's not one thing or another, but proud and happy to be both?

6. The Lost Year: A Survival Story of the Ukrainian Famine by Katherine Marsh—With a deadly pandemic sweeping the world, Matthew's father is stuck overseas, and his 100-year-old grandmother has just moved in with him and his mom. The 13-year-old is miserable. When he discovers a mysterious old photo in his grandma's things, he becomes intrigued by her past and the shocking family secrets she's been hiding. 

7. The Nightmare House by Sarah Allen*—This horror story is about a young girl who is crippled by nightmares about The Fear Maker, a red-eyed monster who lives in the woods, where he sucks out human souls and leaves his victims with hollow, empty eyes. When she starts seeing these hollow-eyed people in the real world, Penny Hope knows the only way to make it stop is to confront The Fear Maker. It's a terrifying prospect and she's a shaking ball of anxiety and terror. How can she possibly triumph against such a formiddable foe?

8. What Happened to Rachel Riley? by Claire Swinarski—I always love a good mystery and this one sounds compelling. It stars Anna Hunt, the new girl at East Middle School. A podcast enthusiast, she immediately sniffs out an intriguing story right at her school and decides to make her own podcast about it. Last year, Rachel Riley was the most popular kid at East Middle; now she's Public Enemy #1. What happened? None of her classmates will talk, so Anna has to dig deep to find out the truth.

9. Burglars and Bluestockings by Julie Berry*—Sequels rarely (never?) seem to win awards, but I don't care. I love Berry's Wishes and Wellingtons series. It's about an orphan girl who finds a djinni in a sardine can, opening up possibilities for her life that she never dreamed of. Even still, there are still things girls just aren't allowed to do in 1897. In this third installment, Maeve takes a field trip to Oxford and sees women attending college, inspiring a whole new dream to take shape in her mind. Before her imagination can even start firing up, though, thieves come for her djinni. Can she stop them? Can magic help her realize her many dreams and ambitions, despite all the restrictions in her life?

10. The Labors of Hercules Beal by Gary D. Schmidt—Although he's named after a legendary hero, Hercules Beal is anything but. He's scrawny, lonely, and just not very...heroic. So, when he's tasked with replicating Hercules' Twelve Labors for a school assignment, he's not exactly enthusiastic. As he plugs away at it, though, he discovers that he's stronger and more capable than he ever realized. 

11. Half Moon Summer by Elaine Vickers*—Two 7th graders embark on a grueling half-marathon that will test their grit, determination, and friendship. Along the way, it also just might be the thing that gives them both the hope they need to tackle the challenges they're facing in their individual lives.

There you are, eleven middle-grade books I'm excited to read in anticipation of the upcoming awards season. Have you read any of them? Which titles do you think will be contestants in the CYBILS and other upcoming book award programs? I'd truly love to know. Leave me a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor on your blog.

*Yeah, no such luck. It's bright and sunny again, although it's only 90 degrees outside, plus some humidity (which we only get during monsoon season).

Happy TTT!

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