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うさ-p: It got all pruny in the brain water.

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Unsung YA [Jan. 21st, 2010|01:54 pm]
うさ-p: It got all pruny in the brain water.

A couple of bloggers are getting together over here to celebrate less popular or obscure young adult books, and so I also decided to contribute a list of YA books that I have enjoyed over the years that other people may not have heard of.

The rule for obscurity is to appear in the libraries of less than 500 people on Librarything. While these 10 books are not my top ten books of the genre they are some of the least known. (Although I did cheat with two where they appear in a little over 500 personal libraries...)

Behold the list:

1. The Last April Dancers by Jean Thesman

This is my all time favorite book to this day. I'd read a few books by this author that I liked (also on this list) and I found this one by her in a far-off library. I needed to have it, but it was out of print. I spent a few years before the internet was popular tracking this book down in used bookstores around the country. Sometime in the early 90s I filled out one of those book cards that some used bookstores have where they'll contact you if they find a book you're looking for - I think I was visiting D.C. at the time. I did mean it when I said I was looking cross-country for this book - I went to California, Washington, Massachusetts & DC among other places scouring bookstores everywhere - and a couple of years later, I got a response back from one of the cards. I loved the book already, and having to work so hard to get my own copy made it even more special. She was my favorite author growing up.

Everytime I read this book it means something different to me and I can never articulate how. Read it, I promise it's good!

2. Appointment With A Stranger - Jean Thesman

I think this is where I discovered my liking for supernatural romances (different from paranormal). It featured the poem "The Listeners" by Walter de la Mare, who was already my favorite poet at the time.

3. Fire & Hemlock - Diana Wynne Jones  (952 > 500, but I love it)

A recommendation from one of my LJ pals - I loved it, and doubly so when I recognized the Tam Lin tale, which is one of my favorites. It was also my first Diana Wynne Jones book.
4. The Wind Singer - William Nicholson  (1st in the Wind on Fire trilogy)

A dark and peculiar dystopic fantasy. It made a strong impression on me and I should probably take that as a sign to reread it.
5. The Beginning Place - Ursula K. Le Guin

Most readers of this LJ already like Le Guin, but her two YA books don't get a lot of mention. There are a lot of things to like in this book.
6. The Rain Catchers - Jean Thesman

Not usually my style, but this one caught me, and I already liked the author. I think my love of books that emphasize storytelling as a subject started here.
7. Nameless Magery - Delia Marshall Turner

I remember finding this book interesting when I read it a few years ago but the details have been lost in the fuzz of my brain. I'll have to put it on the reread pile when I get the companion book. It was vaguely slashy.
8. The China Garden - Liz Berry

A recent read that I enjoyed. It has supernatural overtones and a labryinth at its heart. Some narrative issues, but, well, nothing is perfect.
9. Cattail Moon - Jean Thesman

This was also one of my favorite books as a child. I read it many times over the years, until one day when I reread it as an adult I realized I had completely misinterpreted the ending! How, I had no idea, but it was such a shock! More supernatural overtones, yay!
10. The Changeover - Margaret Mahy

This was also recommended to me by a (different) LJ pal. A solid supernatural romance.

Wow, I didn't even realize how many of these books qualify as supernatural romances. What can I say? I know what I like and stick to it :)

From: kellyholmes
2010-01-22 05:21 am (UTC)


Not only have I not read any of these, I haven't even heard of them before! So cool when that happens. But um, it's been happening a lot today. Haha.

Glad you could be a part of today's little project, which actually isn't so little anymore! We'll probably break 50 total posts before all is said & done. :)
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[User Picture]From: usa_p
2010-01-22 06:14 am (UTC)

Re: Wow

Congratulations on the big turnout, by the way.

Not having heard of any of them just goes to show that all books, even those by more well-known authors (such as Ursula K. Le Guin and Diana Wynne Jones) could do to have more attention brought to them. And I am happy to re-recommend the two that were recommended to me.

The reason you haven't heard of some of these is just that they are old. The Last April Dancers has a 1987 copyright, which isn't really that long ago, but in teen fiction that's an eternity.

We're both going to have much longer wishlists after perusing all these recs.
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[User Picture]From: vermithrax
2010-01-22 06:49 am (UTC)
Innnnteresting. I haven't heard of most of these. Wonder if the library has any of them...
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[User Picture]From: usa_p
2010-01-22 01:44 pm (UTC)
#3, 5, & 8 shouldn't be too hard to find in a library. 4 & 7 might be in one of the larger libraries. The rest are old enough that they may have been culled to make room for the current wave of YA books.

I don't know if you use any of the bookswapping sites, but I just checked and all the older books are available on paperbackswap.
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[User Picture]From: caramel_lunacy
2010-01-22 06:05 pm (UTC)
Ooh, I loved the Changeover when I picked it up in the library as a teen - read it over and over again. It's good to find someone else who enjoyed it!
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[User Picture]From: usa_p
2010-01-26 06:22 am (UTC)
I found a lot more people have heard of the book than I would have expected. I only wish I had read it as a teen rather than as an adult for that extra staying power.
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[User Picture]From: mewalker1999
2010-01-24 06:23 am (UTC)
Great list--all new to me! Thanks!
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[User Picture]From: usa_p
2010-01-26 06:23 am (UTC)
I'm just happy to make a to-be-read pile even larger.
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[User Picture]From: hemlocke
2010-01-24 01:02 pm (UTC)
Agree with you on the Wind Singer, the Changeover (what a beautiful romance) and Fire and Hemlock. Though the last was a bit of a bete noire for me, till I actually finished it.
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[User Picture]From: usa_p
2010-01-26 06:29 am (UTC)
You're the only other person I know who has read the Wind on Fire books. I just found them in book bin one day in a pretty box set that I could not resist.

I'm surprised to hear you say that about Fire and Hemlock because I thought the recommendation for that book came from you many many moons ago. The internet has fried my brain over the years so perhaps I am mistaken? At the very least I thought it came from you and had given you a +1 in the 'recommends good books' column of my mental LJ friend checklist ^_^.
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