Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Top Ten Hidden Gems of 2016

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This week's Top Ten features Underrated/Hidden Gem Books I've Read In The Past Year Or So

See which books other bloggers are listing

Bingo Summer

1. Bingo Summer, by Dawn Malone

Dawn Malone's books are self-published, but she is every inch a writer. The writing in Bingo Summer was mature and well-developed. Malone is obviously dedicated to her craft. Her main character is likable and her family relationships interesting. This is a rare gem amid the culm.

You can read my Goodreads review here


2. Squashed, by Joan Bauer

Joan Bauer is a popular author, but her first book about a girl who raises prize pumpkins is a hard sell. The main character is as good as any of Bauer's other heroines. She struggles with her weight, her relationship to her widower dad, and the ever-present stress of blue ribbon competition.

You'll find my Marvelous Middle Grade Monday review here

Evangeline Brown
and the Cadillac Motel
3. Evangeline Brown and the Cadillac Motel, by Michele Ivy Davis

This book may have been published before its time, because there are dozens of book of this ilk on shelves today which are far inferior, yet this one remains largely undiscovered. Evangeline (Eddie to her friends) and Farrell are genuine characters with realistic problems. The Cadillac Motel in Paradise, Florida is the perfect setting, with its anomalous inhabitants. The plot is by turns sweet and bittersweet. The best thing about underrated books is you can usually find a secondhand copy for pocket change. If you're planning to read the new Welcome to Wonderland series by Chris Grabenstein, maybe you should give this a try.

Read the glowing review on KidsPages

A Coalition of Lions

4. A Coalition of Lions, by Elizabeth Wein

Almost twenty years before Wein wrote Code Name, Verity, she penned a version of Arthurian legend which would take readers across two continents. A coalition of Lions is the second in the series, but works as a standalone novel. This book takes place in Askum, also known as Ethiopia. It introduces a host of exciting characters , brimming with political intrigue, reading like a well-played chess game.

You can read my Goodreads review here

5. Eon, by Alison Goodman

My son loved this book, but it took me a while to get around to it. It was truly worth the wait. If you like high fantasy and spunky heroines, martial arts movies and feudal China, you are going to love Eon. Whether tackling gender identity, disability, love, or duty, the author hurtles forward and leaves the reader breathless with anticipation of the next installment. You might know this book as Rise of the Dragoneye or The Two Pearls of Wisdom, depending which continent you hail from.

I thought Jessica Harrison's review summed it up nicely

When You Reach Me
6. When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead

No one should be surprised at the quality when reading a book by Rebecca Stead, but I was blown away. I didn't think it could possibly live up to the hype, but if anything, the praise fell short. I didn't think I'd ever read another of Rebecca's books which I liked as much as Liar & Spy. Now it's a toss up. So while this gem may not be hidden, it was certainly an unexpected delight.

You can read my Goodreads review here

So B. It
7. So B. It, by Sarah Weeks

Another book I was sure was overrated. While Sarah Weeks's books are always entertaining and skillfully written, this one layers in so much more. It is poetic in its honesty. The voice, the humor, the irony leave me nearly speechless.

You can read my Goodreads review here

The Human Body
8. The Human Body: The Story of How We Protect, Repair, and Make Ourselves Stronger, by H. P. Newquist

Though I love non-fiction, I wasn't holding out hope for this book. The title lacks any draw and the cover promised a read as interesting as Grey's anatomy. What I found instead was a fascinating compendium from an unusual viewpoint, the history of man's efforts to repair and improve the human body. Sometimes gruesome, sometimes incredible, The Human Body is well-researched and well-organized, the kind of book in which kids can graze and ruminate, and even learn something.

You'll find my MMGM review and additional resources here

Poop Detectives
9. Poop Detectives, Working Dogs in the Field, by Ginger Wadsworth

I had to include this book. I don't know if Poop Detectives will get the attention it deserves, but the book was a fascinating account of dog-training in environmental studies which will engage readers of all ages. I would never have believed I would recommend a book with that title. I still think it is both a shameless solicitation and an unfortunate misnomer. However, Wadsworth so skillfully covers her subject, making it entertaining and informative, that I am willing to forgive her anything. A hefty 80 pages, packed with photos and personal accounts of these lovable rescued dogs, this book is perfect for every classroom. And that's not a load of poop.

Jennifer at the Jean Little Library highlights more to love in her review

The Great Leopard Rescue
10. The Great Leopard Rescue, by Sandra Markle

Lastly, I've included a stunningly beautiful picture book. Again, it's not the type of book I would have expected to be riveting, but the subject and treatment are outstanding. The book follows the complex efforts of conserving an entire species, using the specifics of the Amur Leopard rescue to illustrate the various methods and obstacles. Educational and fascinating, this book is an eye-opening read for both adults and kids.

You can see my review for Perfect Picture Book Friday here

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish in June 2010. Everyone is welcome to join. Simply link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post and add your name to the Linky widget on that day's posts. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.


  1. All of your books in your post this week are new to me and they look good!

    Here's a link to my TTT post for this week: http://captivatedreader.blogspot.com/2017/01/top-ten-tuesday-ten-underratedhidden.html

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by. I sampled many of the other participants' lists, but wasn't able to check them all, so thank-you for leaving your link. I look forward especially to the books you recommended by Mineta and Satrapi. I was completely unaware that Embroideries existed.


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