The decision was made especially difficult when you have two very different feeling books like I did-one contemporary teen and the other more middle grade fantasy. Luckily, Cait over at Escape Through the Pages, was my co-judge and she and I both agreed on the book we chose.
and the winner is...
STRAVAGANZA: CITY OF MASKS by Mary HoffmanThis book was the winner because it built a fantasy/historical world beautifully. It takes place in Venice, and it made me want to go visit! The descriptions throughout the book are colorful and real. The characters feel real for their world. There was twisty suspense in the political intrigue of the courts of the day and wondering whether it would all be figured out and what would happen in the present day, and the time travel element was interesting (having recently read HOURGLASS by Myra McEntire which also deals with time travel, I'm very intrigued by this topic/theme right now).
Lucien is seriously ill but his life is transformed when an old Italian notebook gives him the power to become a stravagante, a time traveller with access to 16th century Italy. He wakes up in Bellezza (Venice) during carnival time and meets Arianna, a girl his own age who is disguised as a boy in the hope of being selected as one of the Duchessa's mandoliers. Arianna gives Lucien her boy's clothing and he is selected as a mandolier himself, becoming a friend of fellow-stravagante Rodolfo, the Duchessa's lover, and saving the Duchessa's life when she is threatened by an assassin hired by the powerful di Chimici family. For state occasions the Duchessa uses her maid Giuliana as a body-double but Guiliana commits the fatal mistake of revealing the secret to her fiance Enrico and a sequence of devastating consequences unravels. Meanwhile Lucien has met the original stravagante, the Elizabethan alchemist William Dethridge, and he begins to understand that he may be called to follow in his footsteps.
Eliminated this round was STORK by Wendy Desol
Family secrets. Lost memories. And the arrival of an ancient magical ability that will reveal everything.
Sixteen-year-old Katla LeBlanc has just moved from Los Angeles to Minnesota. As if it weren’t enough that her trendy fashion sense draws stares, Katla soon finds out that she’s a Stork, a member of a mysterious order of women tasked with a very unique duty. But Katla’s biggest challenge may be finding her flock at a new school. Between being ignored by Wade, the arrogant jock she stupidly fooled around with, and constantly arguing with gorgeous farm boy and editor-in-chief Jack, Katla is relieved when her assignment as the school paper’s fashion columnist brings with it some much-needed friendship. But as Homecoming approaches, Katla uncovers a shocking secret about her past — a secret that binds her fate to Jack’s in a way neither could have ever anticipated. With a nod to Hans Christian Andersen and inspired by Norse lore, Wendy Delsol’s debut novel introduces a hip and witty heroine who finds herself tail-feathers deep in small-town life.
You can follow along with the rest of the battle to determine the Best Overlooked Book from YA Bloggers over at The Shady Glade.