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Five Titles I Can’t Wait to Book Talk This Year

With the school year almost upon me, and a lot of free time on my hands (I am sitting in my recliner, recovering from a septoplasty), I am starting to get really excited about all of the great books I have read over the summer. Net Galley has certainly been kind to me.

While I have definitely worn out the new “New Adult” genre this summer (I kinda hate it now), I have also read a ton of great books in my favorite genre- Young Adult. I love reading YA for two reasons- first, the YA authors out there are putting out some really great stuff that isn’t all depressing or pretentious like adult fiction can get. Second, I LOVE being able to bring YA to my middle school readers that is just appropriate for them… that’s the stuff that they really get excited about reading. My eighth grade boys were drooling over titles like World War Z and Rot and Ruin a couple of years ago, and I like to keep it coming.

Without further adieu…

41TzYsSC84L._SY300_Time After Time by Tamara Ireland Stone. So many sequels fall flat or completely lose the tone of the first book, but this is an awesome sequel to Time Between Us. Since I am Bennett’s age, I love reading from his point of view, too. Going back to 1995, in my hometown (Chicago), is pretty cool- and I love the fact that teachers and librarians can talk to kids about when we grew up without sounding stupid.

51ZhFCzTS9L._SY300_The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater. This is another sequel, but I have to say- Maggie Stiefvater is probably the best paranormal writer for teens out there right now. The Shiver series sees a ton of circulation every year, and now the Raven Boys has seen the same kind of popularity. I like the fact that Stiefvater’s heroines aren’t weak and her narrative voice doesn’t make kids sound stupid.

41SzknL9faLKindness for Weakness by Shawn Goodman. So many books touch on the insecurities of girls, but not many capture the real emotions that go through boys’ heads these days- and so realistically. I actually felt the dirt under my fingernails as I read this one. The tone of the book is so gritty and the way in which the protagonist interacts with the world will resonate with introverts everywhere- whether down-and-out like this guy, or not.

51xb9EOj5HLThe Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston. I have read a couple of Witness Protection program books lately, and I watched My Name is Earl from start to finish with my son this summer, so I feel like an expert on the genre (insert sarcasm icon here). This one surprised me. I love the fact that this isn’t action- it is a classic mystery. Mystery is a genre that so often gets bogged down by paranormals and sci fi. When I find a good one that is just a good mystery, I hang on to it. I will be hanging on to this one for sure.

51g07mPX-7LBeing Henry David by Cal Armistead. Like number three, this is a “boy book” that isn’t cheesy. Even boys can only handle so many teenage spy books.  I loved this book when I read it a while back, and it stuck with me. Who doesn’t like a good amnesia mystery? The fascinating thing about this book is the fact that it is a mystery and a coming of age story wrapped in one beautiful, lyrical package. When I want boys to read deeper and experience more, I will turn to this one first.

I hope Net Galley keeps em coming, because I get a lot of my best stuff because of them.  I can’t justify buying YA for my middle school library unless I have a chance to read it first, you know?  If you like hearing about YA that is just appropriate for middle schoolers, let me know in the comments or “like” this post and I will keep the suggestions coming.  🙂  Thanks!

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Regarding the Holidays…

Art Institute Card Contest

With regard to the holidays…

You never really can put a finger on one specific year that was so bad that it stands out above the rest.  They all seem to fall short of our expectations in one way or another.  We all hope, desperately, every year that the holidays will be magical.  We go to great lengths: braving the crowds at the mall, decorating our homes, standing in line for four hours to visit with Santa, then finding out that Santa isn’t even in his red suit, he is wearing his “workshop” clothes, and my kid seems to think he looks more like Freddie Krueger than Santa – my kid behaves accordingly.

Let’s be honest… Christmas never looks like Bing’s Christmas – it always bears a closer resemblance to Georgie’s.  Therefore, I have compiled the top five reasons I get the willies on the day after Thanksgiving, the day when it all starts to careen, cut break-line full force, into that twinkling red and green brick wall we call Christmas.

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#1: Toys.  One Christmas, my two year old son got so much stuff, that after a while he didn’t care who it was from or what it was.  He just tore through that paper, creating piles so high that we couldn’t see him after a while.  I asked over and over for people to give him one toy and then contribute to his college fund, but did they listen?  Of course not.  And now I cannot even walk through my son’s rather spacious bedroom, instead I must shimmy across his walls and rappel to where I need to go.  And, what’s the deal with people thinking that the messier the toy, the funnier the gift?  Each time my son unwrapped play-doh or finger paints, someone in the room would laugh in such a way that sent chills down my spine.  Pure evil, Christmas style.

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#2: Church guilt.  This is always one of my favorites.  In my very devout Catholic family, I am begged each Easter and Christmas to go to church.  On the years that they wear me down until I can’t say no, I am then ridiculed for the rest of the day for being a “Christmas and Easter Catholic.”  Seriously, people.  Where’s the unconditional Christian love?

Don't you want to punch her?

Don’t you want to punch her?

#3: Weight gain.  We know it is coming.  Our meeting leaders warn us and give us strategies for bypassing the holiday weight gain, but still we join the other suckers at the gym every January.  Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.  Well, here’s what I have to say to that… shame on me, shame on me, shame on me…

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#4: Family.  Okay, so we all say that Christmas is a time to spend with family, but do we really believe that or do we just pretend?  It is kind of like wanting snow on Christmas.  We want it to snow so that we can ooh and ahh as we look out the window, but after a few minutes we walk away from the window.  We don’t want to shovel the snow and we don’t want to drive in the snow.  It is pretty to look at one day out of the year for a few minutes and then we are over it.

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#5: Starbucks is closed.  This becomes a problem for me at certain family members’ houses because – for real, people.  It is 2012.  Learn to make a decent cup of coffee.  And sometimes, in light of #4, I just. Need. To Get. Away.  Although, I must admit- the suckiest most unique members of my family don’t even show up anymore, so it is all good.

So.  In the face of all this, will I still be moved to tears by the absolute anal retentiveness that it took for my neighbor to get all of his Christmas lights to face the same way, yet again?

You bet I will.