Ten Books I Love From When I Started Getting Into YA

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I know, I know, it’s Wednesday. I was spacing out yesterday, but didn’t want to miss this topic because I liked it a lot. I started writing YA before I was reading it widely. I’d read a few YA books in high school, was obsessed with Twilight along with my friends in college, and started reading Hunger Games with my students my first year teaching. But it was starting this blog, hoping to learn more about these books and the people who wrote them, that really made me fall in love with the genre. Here are my gateway YA books. Each one will always be incredibly special to me. Continue reading

Ten Books that Should Be Assigned in High School

My high school was heavy on the classics, which was (and continues to be) awesome. But I definitely graduated twelfth grade with no idea that anything good was being written in the present tense. Also the diversity of what is considered “a classic” is highly problematic. I’m all for reading The Great Gatsby and Chaucer and Catcher in the Rye… but here are then books that I would love to see on more high school curriculums – I know I would have gotten a lot out of them if I’d been assigned to read them in school.

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Three Mini Reviews of Some Good (No Great!) Books I’ve Been Reading

Happy weekend! I am having a huge good book streak. I’m really hoping it doesn’t end anytime soon – obviously. I might be losing sleep, but it’s one hundred percent worth it. Here are some favorite YA books that I’ve read in the last few weeks!

Eliza and her MonstersEliza and her Monsters, by Francesca Zappia, blew me away and kept me up late at night. In some ways it felt like Fangirl on steroids. In others, it had its own special and unique magic. In the story, teenage Eliza is the creator of one of the most popular webcomics on the internet. She doesn’t do friends, at least not IRL, and her identity on the internet is a closely guarded secret. Then Wallace, her comic’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school and they develop a relationship through their shared interest. But he thinks that she’s just another fan and doesn’t know how to tell him. Ugh. This writing is beautiful. Like makes you want to cry and throw up at the same time beautiful. And the story is … I said on twitter that it made me feel like a mix between having a crush and the night before a new Harry Potter book comes out. And I stand by that strong endorsement. More people should be reading this book. Aside from being oh so swoony, it also has some of the best descriptions of anxiety I’ve ever read. Continue reading

Top Ten Recommendations for People Who Want Diverse Summer Reads

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Books open us up to new worlds. They help us empathize and identify with people that are different from us. When characters are the same, even in small ways, they make us feel understood and less alone. They are powerful. There are only a few weeks left in summer. Here are ten diverse summer reads. Reading any of them would be a fantastic use of your time. Continue reading

Author Interview: Betsy Cornwell

VenturessBetsy and I met in college, but even though I had a big friend crush on her I was way too shy to talk to her much. Then I reached out about how much I loved her first book Tides and an online friendship sparked into being. In another life, we are roommates conquering the NYC publishing world together and drinking beers on the weekend at The Way Station. But since she lives with her dreamy family in Ireland, I have to settle for some of the kindest, most supportive emails a friend/aspiring writer could ever ask for. Betsy’s third book Venturess is out today. It is the sequel to the badass, feminist Cinderella retelling Mechanica and my very favorite thing that Betsy’s written so far.  Expect a (glowing!) review soon. But for now, Betsy was kind enough to answer some questions for me…  Continue reading

Ramona Blue, by Julie Murphy

Ramona BlueI took a YA lit class in grad school with David Levithan. One of the first things he said was to make the details in our writing as specific as possible. More detailed. More specific examples. These were two phrases, I became accustomed to seeing on my personal essays. It’s one of the lessons that I try to keep in the very front of my brain while writing. It’s also a lesson that no one needs to teach Julie Murphy, apparently. Because Damn! Ramona Blue, the latest book from the author who brought us Dumplin’ and Side Effects May Vary, is one of the most specific, detailed, and unique books I’ve ever read.

As with people in real life, Ramona’s history looms large over her present struggles. She was a small child when Hurricane Katrina dramatically changed her family. She’s been a kind of surrogate parent to her little sister, who is now pregnant. She likes girls. She wants to leave town, but doesn’t know if she can now that her sister needs her more than ever. Continue reading