Now I doubt any of you are really going to spend Turkey Day reading my blog - I mean, there's cranberry sauce to be had, quite possibly the most delicious food invented, EVER - but I figured I'd do a post anyway about how blogging, writing, and the entire online network are some of the new things I'm thankful for this year, as well as the usual ones like my amazing family that puts up with my neuroses, my friends that let me gab on about what I'm reading and make recommendations all the live long day, and the incredible opportunities I've been given like an excellent education and the freedom to have an open mind. I wake up every day thankful for those things, but while I'm grumbling on Twitter about carpal tunnel and how hard it is to write a freaking blog post and how much Amazonfail makes me angry, I think perhaps it gets lost just how grateful I am for this network, too.
First of all, fellow book bloggers. You guys rock. Sometimes I'm envious of all those ARCs you're getting and I'm not, sometimes I compare followers and comments and page views and get all morose, but I'm always thankful for your recommendations and general awesomeness. As the Book Blogger's Convention proved back in May, we've all gotta stick together against a world that doesn't really...ahem...understand us. Let's face it, it's hard to find anybody out in the real world within miles and miles of you that cares about books the way we do, and that community makes me smile every day. Thank you. Of course, you book blog commenters who may not have blogs of your own but go out of your way to make the day of a total book nut, I owe you a big thank you, too.
Second of all, Twitter. You consume way too much of my time, sometimes you can get as nasty as kindergarteners on a playground, and sometimes I wonder why I don't give you up. Then I scroll down my feed and find really great links and breaking news and things that make me snort milk out my nose and people who are just as weird as me, and I stop wondering. You may not always use your powers for good, but when you do, you rock. Thank you.
Third of all, my beloved novel, still in progress, 26,465 words and counting. You keep me sane, you are patient with my procrastination, you make me want to burst into random gleeful song and dance, you make me want to hurl my laptop against the wall. There's nothing else like you. Thank you.
Fourth of all, writers, agents, editors, publishers, cover designers, unpaid interns, and absolutely everyone else involved in the publishing process. You make books. That should be considered a superpower. I don't know how I'd spend my rainy afternoons and snowy mornings and sick days and late-burn-the-midnight-oil nights without you. Thank you!
What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? After you come out of your tryptophan coma, please leave your thoughts in the comments. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. =)
November 25, 2010
November 24, 2010
Waiting on Wednesdays is a meme featuring upcoming releases we're excited about, hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. If you haven't already, don't forget to check out her post and leave your link at the Mr. Linky! My pick this week is...
What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Please share in the comments!
After her father's slow death from cancer, Carlie thought things couldn't get worse. But now, she is forced to confront the fact that her family in dire financial straits. To stay afloat, her mom has had to sell their cherished oceanfront home and move Carlie and her younger brother Keith to the other side of the tracks to dreaded Las Pulgas, or "the fleas" in Spanish. They must now attend a tough urban high school instead of their former elite school, and on Carlie's first day of school, she runs afoul of edgy K.T., the Latina tattoo girl who's always ready for a fight, even on crutches. Carlie fends off the attention of Latino and African American teen boys, and one, a handsome seventeen-year-old named Juan, nicknames her Princess when he detects her aloof attitude towards her new classmates. What they don't know is that Carlie isn't really aloof; she's just in mourning for her father and almost everything else that mattered to her. Mr. Smith, the revered English teacher who engages all his students, suggests she'll like her new classmates if she just gives them a chance; he cajoles her into taking over the role of Desdemona in the junior class production of Othello, opposite Juan, after K.T. gets sidelined. Keith, who becomes angrier and more sullen by the day, spray paints insults all over the gym as he acts out his anger over the family's situation and reduced circumstances. Even their cat Quicken goes missing, sending Carlie and Keith on a search into the orchard next to their seedy garden apartment complex. They're met by a cowboy toting a rifle who ejects them at gunpoint from his property. But when Carlie finds him amiably having coffee with their mom the next day -- when he's returned her cat -- she begins to realize that nothing is what it seems in Las Pulgas.While it suffers from inexpert cover design, and the plot sounds a little predictable (why is it always cancer, and not diabetes? Or heart disease? WHY?), it also sounds like it could be really sweet. While I might not rush out and buy this one, it's definitely one I'll try and check out sometime in the future.
What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Please share in the comments!
November 23, 2010
Find it at a local indie!
- Why I read it: Hype, homeschooling, cover
- Disclosure: Got a final published paperback edition from Paperback Swap
Stargirl. From the day she arrives at quiet Mica High in a burst of color and sound, the hallways hum with the murmur of “Stargirl, Stargirl.” She captures Leo Borlock’s heart with just one smile. She sparks a school-spirit revolution with just one cheer. The students of Mica High are enchanted. At first.I read Loser, also by Jerry Spinelli, back when I was in third or fourth grade. It would be an understatement to say I hated it. As I recall, it was told in the second person, which probably freaked my neat and orderly kid brain the H-E-double-hockey-sticks out, and I couldn't get over the idea of a protagonist who wasn't...well, perfect. That was in my hardcore fantasy stage. Don't get me wrong, I love good fantasy (Malinda Lo, Tamora Pierce, and Kristin Cashore come immediately to mind in YA, along with many more, and J.R.R. Tolkien is my geeky vice), but let's just admit to ourselves that most middle grade fiction is crap. It's fantasy not in the sense of unicorns and dragons and faeries but in the sense of the word that 12-year-olds are perfect human beings and that your teen years actually won't suck. Right.
Then they turn on her. Stargirl is suddenly shunned for everything that makes her different, and Leo, panicked and desperate with love, urges her to become the very thing that can destroy her: normal. In this celebration of nonconformity, Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli weaves a tense, emotional tale about the perils of popularity and the thrill and inspiration of first love.
To return to Stargirl, I'd heard it was a great book for years, but the frustrating specter of Loser floated in the back of my mind. Eventually I saw it become available on Paperback Swap and figured I had absolutely nothing to lose except a credit. (Sound familiar?) If I hated it, I could just turn around and re-post it. Let's just say I won't be doing that anytime soon. It's teen lit, old-school, sweet and touching and that first crush sort of pulse-pounding and 100% real. I cannot think of a better way to spend a snowy afternoon than curled up under a quilt with this book, and that's not a compliment I bestow lightly, especially when there's some serious Harry Potter to re-read.
As in Loser, our protagonist is flawed - nice-guy Leo who seems about as deep as your average kiddie pool. We never hear mention of his parents, he doesn't seem to have any hobbies other than TV, and he's not exactly enthusiastic about that, even. His one memorable trait is his incredible conformity. He's saved from Gary Stu hell, however, by his connection to Stargirl - the most nonconformist girl you can imagine. She plays the ukelele, wears flapper dresses and kimonos to school, changes her name whenever she likes, and leaves candy on everybody's desks on major school holidays. First she's the "homeschooled kid," then she's the most popular girl in school, and then Leo predictably falls head over heels. I won't spoil the rest, but it's beautiful.
I could spend hours writing about this book, from the mystical cacti to fossils in drawers, but what I'm going to focus on is part of what made this book relevant to me - homeschooling. In general, I hate books featuring homeschooled characters. They tend to be plot devices more than people, and there's usually some gooey message about loving each other and how there's many ways to be or that all homeschooled kids are maladjusted geniuses who will never form lasting relationships. (Look, some of us may be that way, but it doesn't take homeschooling. Just look at Mark Zuckerberg, okay?) At first, Stargirl seemed to be Exhibit A in the former category, and as well-written as the book was, I wasn't going to forgive her for that. I'd be first in line to admit that a lot of homeschoolers are "weird." We're "individual." We "do our own thing." We usually do not, however, sing happy birthday to our new classmates and play the ukelele. I got a little defensive, I'll admit.
But then, as the book went on, I realized it was okay. Yeah, Stargirl might be feeding into some stereotypes, but homeschooled or not, she's us even more than Leo is us. Like I said, the idea that high school's going to treat you fair is right up there with Elves and Orcs and rainbow-farting unicorns in terms of the level of fantasy, and that's what Stargirl seems to be epitomizing. She's Different with a capital D, just like we're all our own unique special snowflakes; she just refuses to hide it. So I was able to let my guard down and love this book unequivocally. Five out of five stars.
Have any of my unconventionally educated followers read this book? Actually, have any of my followers read this book? If so, what did you think? Please leave your thoughts in the comments!
November 21, 2010
In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. She has a pretty enviable mailbox, so check out her post for this week and don't forget to add yours to the Mr. Linky!
Britain 2099. All human diseases have been eradicated by genetic cleansing, but there are still people who are 'unclean' and locked away in institutions. Travis is one of them, until one day Dr Alexander helps him to escape to a world where nothing makes sense. Travis has powerful seizures which take him and his new friend Demi on a quest through time to seek and destroy Chase, the man he hates. Along the way he has to deal with shocks, surprises, traumas, and death, until at last he ends up on a beach, where his fate will finally be decided.The Maze Runner by James Dashner. All hail the wonders of the Hennepin County Library system. I finally figured out how to download audiobooks from their digital collection, so I'll start doing audiobook reviews soon!
Imagine waking up one day in total darkness, unsure of where you are and unable to remember anything about yourself except your first name. You're in a bizarre place devoid of adults called the Glade. The Glade is an enclosed structure with a jail, a graveyard, a slaughterhouse, living quarters, and gardens. And no way out. Outside the Glade is the Maze, and every day some of the kids -- the Runners -- venture into the labyrinth, trying to map the ever-changing pattern of walls in an attempt to find an exit from this hellish place. So far, no one has figured it out. And not all of the Runners return from their daily exertions, victims of the maniacal Grievers, part animal, part mechanical killing machines.
Thomas is the newest arrival to the Glade in this Truman-meets-Lord of the Flies tale. A motley crew of half a dozen kids is all he has to guide him in this strange world. As soon as he arrives, unusual things begin to happen, and the others grow suspicious of him. Though the Maze seems somehow familiar to Thomas, he's unable to make sense of the place, despite his extraordinary abilities as a Runner. What is this place, and
does Thomas hold the key to finding a way out?
In The Maze Runner, Dashner has crafted a creative and engaging novel that's both mysterious and thought provoking.
In the latest hard-hitting YA novel by the New York Times bestselling author, 16-year-old identical twin girls must come to terms with their abusive father.
Kaeleigh and Raeanne are 16-year-old identical twins, the daughters of a district court judge father and politician mother running for Congress. Everything on the surface of their lives seems Norman Rockwell perfect, but underneath run deep and damaging secrets.
Kaeleigh is the good girl-her father's perfect flower, something she has tried so hard to be since she was nine and he started sexually abusing her. She cuts herself and vomits after every binge, desperate to feel something normal. Raeanne uses painkillers, drugs, alcohol, and sex to numb the pain of not being Daddy's favorite. Both girls must figure out how to become whole, but how can they when their world has been torn to shreds?
Writing in her characteristic narrative poetry style, Ellen Hopkins shows once again how well she knows today's teens and the issues that matter to them.
Tessa has just months to live. Fighting back against hospital visits, endless tests, and drugs with excruciating side effects, Tessa compiles a list. It’s her To Do Before I Die list. And number one is Sex. Released from the constraintsWhat did you get in your mailbox this week? Please share in the comments!
of “normal” life, Tessa tastes new experiences to make her feel alive while her failing body struggles to keep up.
Tessa’s feelings, her relationships with her father and brother, her estranged mother, her best friend, and her new boyfriend, are all painfully crystallized in the precious weeks before Tessa’s time finally runs out.
Read this week (link = to review, * = upcoming reviews)
Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld*
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver