Once upon a time, I earned a Master's Degree in Literature and was a Professor of Literature and Composition. I had a wonderful time writing my Master's Thesis about Children's and Young Adult Literature, and I considered earning a Ph.D. so that I could continue to pursue the written word, including British, American, Latin American and other Global Literatures, Children's and Young Adult Literature, all types of genres and occasionally even poetry. But life takes you in unexpected directions, and so now I am working for a non-profit agency (you can read about that on my other blog, A Little Bit of Wonder). Although my job keeps me too busy to post as many book reviews as I would like, Recommended Reading is a place where I can continue to share my literary discoveries and knowledge as time allows.

Please note that I post reviews for books that I recommend reading, just like the blog title says. This means that I typically won't post a review for a book that I completely dislike. This isn't because I shy away from making negative comments, but rather because I don't want to waste your time or mine (I won't even bother to finish a book if it's not any good). For more on this, see the explanation of my Rating System.)

Monday, January 31, 2011

Book Blog Review: The Cazzy Files (Y.A. Lit)

Blog URL: http://thecazzyfiles.com/

Blogger: Kelly, aka CazzyLibrarian

Reading/Reviewing Credentials: Kelly is a middle school librarian and a member of YALSA’s (Young Adult Library Services Association) Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults Committee.

Genres reviewed: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Dystopian Literature, Realistic Fiction, Humor, Mystery, Historical Fiction, Poetry—a wide range, all in YA Lit.

Format of reviews: Cazzy’s reviews cover a lot of ground; her more recent reviews are divided into several sections, including an explanation of why she chose to read a particular novel, an objective summary of the plot, followed by subjective lists of what she appreciated and what detracted from her enjoyment of a book. She also includes a section called “Related reads” after each review, where she identifies genres/characteristics of the book (such as “Fantasies featuring Shapeshifters,” “Stories that deal with school shootings,” or “Conspiracies surrounding royalty”) and then points readers toward other titles which contain those same characteristics.

Why should you start reading Cazzy’s reviews? First of all, I appreciate the wide variety of genres that Cazzy includes on her blog; this is great if you want suggestions to help you break out of a Fantasy or Contemporary Lit reading rut. Her blog contains reviews of many Fantasy novels, though, for those of you who would rather stick to what you love.

Some Cazzy’s reviews are fairly short, but she relates a lot of information quickly in bullet-point format and you get a sense of a novel’s important aspects. She makes sure to include very specific comments on the plot, characters and prose style. Some reviews that she has written are a little longer and include more of her personal reactions to certain novels.

Cazzy provides a wide range of details in her reviews – sometimes she sticks to plot and character details, while at other times she combines objective and subjective comments about a novel. Every once in a while, she simply describes how the book struck a particular chord within her (see her review of Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher). In my opinion, this is a great mix for a reviewer – it’s nice to know when a book exceeds a reader’s expectations to such an extreme that they struggle to put it into words. It’s also really nice to know why a reviewer might have struggled to get into a book, and Cazzy includes her questions about unresolved plotlines, strange creatures that she couldn't envision and annoying character names.

Aside from the book reviews themselves, Cazzy’s website includes a running commentary on all things librarian. Entries about the American Library Association Conference may not interest everyone, but for teachers and other librarians who follow her blog, and perhaps aspiring librarians as well, her comments on these types of subjects will be interesting and helpful. Overall, the added content personalizes her blog and is definitely a plus. Check out her thoughts on censorship, as well as her some of her Friday posts about poetry, posts which also help to diversify the content of her blog.

Overall, you are likely to find a great new book to read when you surf through Cazzy’s blog without spending too much time reading a particular review. She’s a straightforward reviewer whose comments have inspired me to add a few more novels to my reading list.

Check out her blog at: http://thecazzyfiles.com/

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