Top Ten New-to-Me Authors of 2016

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Happy Tuesday, friends! And happy holidays (whatever you choose to celebrate or note celebrate). I’m in peak Christmas Carol singing mode right now – not too sure how my roommates feel about that! One thing I love about December, is looking back over the year. It’s been a hard one but also a year of good books and good reading. I actually read fifty-six new-to-me authors this year. Probably my most ever. These are ten of my favorites! I’d love to hear your thoughts or suggestions on what to read next in the comments!

Thank to The Broke and the Bookish for hosting this weekly book meme!

 

Reading More Middle Grade

In July, I wrote about reading more “adult” books. Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of middle grade – and not just because I’m behind in my goal to read 100 books this year. Young Adult is definitely my one true love in the book category world. But I can muster up some serious feelings for middle grade as well. I mean, Harry Potter... Need I say more? I will admit that sometimes when I’m reading MG I crave a little more  little more excitement or romance moving the story forward. Other times, reading about middle school kids is exactly the zone I want to be in. Here are a few middle grade books I’ve been reading and loving in the last two/three weeks. All are fantastic stories and approach diversity in interesting and important ways.

28954126-1Ghost has a crazy natural talent, but no formal training. If he can stay on track, literally and figuratively, he could be the best sprinter in the city. But Ghost has been running for the wrong reasons—it all starting with running away from his father, who, when Ghost was a very little boy, chased him and his mother through their apartment, then down the street, with a loaded gun, aiming to kill. Since then, Ghost has been the one causing problems—and running away from them—until he meets Coach, an ex-Olympic Medalist who blew his own shot at success by using drugs, and who is determined to keep other kids from blowing their shots at life. This book, and it’s main character, totally blew me away. I know it’s cliched to say that I both laughed and cried – but’s it’s true. Ghost goes on an emotional journey in this book and a physical one. I grew up with a lot of privilege. I know it’s good for me (and everyone) to read books like this, and Jason Reynold’s voice as an author is a thing of magic.This was one of my favorite books of the year and definitely deserved to be on the National Book Awards short list!

georgeWhen people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl. George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part . . . because she’s a boy. With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte — but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all. This is another book that feels very important to exist. I don’t know if it’s the first MG book to openly talk about a trans character, but it’s the first one I’ve read. While there is a lot of practical information in these pages, the story is definitely paramount. I particularly loved how the main character is a big reader and the important role the book Charlotte’s Web plays in the plot.

save-me-a-seatJoe and Ravi might be from very different places, but they’re both stuck in the same place: SCHOOL. Joe’s lived in the same town all his life, and was doing just fine until his best friends moved away and left him on his own.Ravi’s family just moved to America from India, and he’s finding it pretty hard to figure out where he fits in. Joe and Ravi don’t think they have anything in common — but soon enough they have a common enemy (the biggest bully in their class) and a common mission: to take control of their lives over the course of a single crazy week. Sarah Weeks, the coauthor of this book, was one of my teachers at The New School – but I don’t think I’m biased when I say I loved this book. The structure of alternating chapters is used to perfection in setting up the differences and similarities between these two boys and their lives. A lot of the difficulties and injustices Ravi faces as a new immigrant were things I hadn’t considered before, as a former student or current teacher. Ravi and Joe’s (slight spoiler alert) journey towards friendship is filled with details, nuance, and humor. Also this cover is amazing!  

Ten Life Lessons from Harry Potter

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Hi friends! It’s been a long time (over a year) since I searched through a book for some life lessons. In the post-election days, I saw several friends turning to Harry Potter for comfort. I understand why. These books and their characters feel like good friends and great teachers at the same time. They also portray a world where great evil exists but good triumphs in the end. There are too many life lessons to gain from this book to write into a single post, or even glean in a single reading. Here are ten of my favorites: Continue reading

Ten Books I’m Thankful That My Mom Read to Me

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My mom read to me pretty much every night until I was like thirteen. That’s a lot of books. I couldn’t read until  I was in the nine/ten zone. Looking back, I feel like there was a big potential for me to hate books. But I think my mom reading to me and my sister saved me from that fate. Tomorrow, I’m leaving the city to spend Thanksgiving with my mom. I’m very grateful to her for reading to me, and here are some books I’m grateful she read to me. Thanks Mom! Continue reading

The Sun Is Also A Star, by Nicola Yoon

sun-is-also-a-starThis book got me out of a serious, post-election reading slump and is exactly what I wanted/needed to be reading. The Sun Is Also A Star switches between the perspectives of Natasha, Daniel, and the universe (including a few of his many inhabitants). Natasha is a science obsessed girl who doesn’t believe in love, destiny, or fate. She’s an undocumented immigrant brought to The United States from Jamaica at age eight. In twelve hours, her family will be deported. Daniel is the child of Korean immigrants. He has always been the good son. He wants to be a poet, but his parents want him to go to Yale and become a doctor. When the two meet by chance, the attraction and connection between them is undeniable – although logical Natasha does her best to deny it. The book takes place over twelve hours as they get to know each other and try to keep Natasha’s family from being deported.  It is a detailed, emotional, romantic story that I absolutely couldn’t put down. I started and finished it in one sitting.  Continue reading

Top Ten Books from 2016 I’d Like to See Adapted into Film

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Hello, friends. How are you doing? I’m still getting my sea legs after last week’s election. And maybe I’ll never get them. Maybe hopefully I’ll never get them. Hard to say. One thing I’ve been incredibly grateful for in the last week is the ability to escape into reading, into my writing, and into film. For this week’s movie themed top ten tuesday I decided to list books from 2016 I’d like to see adapted into film. The list is predictably YA heavy, but there are a few other categories represented. Which of these books would you like to see in movie form? Who would you cast? Let me know in the comments. Continue reading

Tell Me Something Real, by Calla Devlin

tell-me-something-realMy friend and writing partner, who conveniently (for me!) works at Simon & Schuster slid an ARC copy of Tell Me Something Real, by Calla Devlin, when I was working on this list of 100 books featuring sister relationships. Reading has been slow for me this month as I’ve been catching every flu & cold friend I come into contact with. But when I started reading this book, I couldn’t put it down. The specificity of detail completely sucked me into the world of the Babcock sisters in 1976 San Diego. Adrienne, the oldest, is the most beautiful and outrageous. Marie is the baby and obsessed with Catholic Saints (even though they aren’t Catholic). And the middle sister, and narrator, Vanessa is a piano prodigy who is trying to keep the family together as their mother battles Leukemia. Throughout the summer, the girls often travel to Mexico where their mother receives an unapproved, experimental treatment. Its a summer of making future plans, falling in love, and preparing for an unimaginable loss.  Continue reading