I need new Sherlock episodes back in my life! Here’s a fun quiz from Buzzfeed to get us ready.
Month: December 2013
Gravediggers by Cindy M. Hogan
If you’re looking for a suspenseful, creepy mystery with a good dose of romance, then Gravediggers is for you. This story was told from Billy’s point of view, a seventeen year old boy whose father was killed several years previously in a hit and run accident. Billy never really believe it was an accident, though, and has almost given up hope that his father’s killer will ever be found.
Until he finds an old ammo box while digging a grave in the church’s graveyard.
Billy and his friends set off to solve the mystery of his father’s death, and of the other strange things going on in their small Southern town, and the result is a good creeper of a story reminiscent of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil for teens.
Find it on Amazon here!
Sunday Inspiration: So true.
Another Little Piece of My Heart by Tracey Martin
Claire’s life has been completely turned upside down, between her mom’s cancer and death, the realization that her college fund has disappeared, and the break up with her first love, Jared, which was her mother’s dying wish. And, as if that’s not enough to send any teenage girl into a sinking spiral of depression, there’s also the little detail about Jared turning their break up into a song… and getting his big break by ranting about her and their big break up. Now the radio isn’t even safe.
Then, months after all of this happened and right after her high school graduation, Claire’s family heads to the beach for the summer. At the beach, Claire really shines and shows her worth as a character because she doesn’t mope around and ignore the world, though we’d certainly understand and forgive her if she did. Instead she goes and gets herself a job in the local grocery store to try to earn back some of that college money. She’s not a helpless little whiny girl. She’s a get out there and get whatever job you can kind of girl. I like that about her.
Of course, though, she just has to run into Jared. He comes into the store while she’s working, and they spend the summer working through the break up songs, arguing, and more.
This is really a sweet story. I loved the characters and the romance of it all, and the song-writing and music focus was fun, making it stand out from your typical YA romance. I’ll definitely be checking out future Tracey Martin titles!
Another Little Piece of My Heart is available as an ebook, and is actually on sale at Amazon right now for $2.50. I’m telling you, this is a great way to spend $2.50!
Where the Wild Things Are: An Open Letter to my Sister for Christmas.
You may be wondering why I’m giving you a picture book for Christmas. I’m well aware of the fact that you’re not a child. :) I’m giving you this, though, because it is my very favorite book of all time – not because of the cool illustrations or the wild rumpus pages, but because it is a perfect metaphor for life. And family. And unconditional love.
Now, go ahead and read it. The whole thing. Before you finish my letter.
So Max messes up. He makes mistakes. He wore a wolf suit and threatened his mom, and so he was disciplined. But he was out there, right? Playing dress up, figuring it all out, and learning.
What I love about Max is that he doesn’t back down from life when it gets challenging. He perseveres and uses his imagination, traveling to the place where the wild things are. He doesn’t sit down and pout. He gets into the boat that shows up (God is like that – just when there’s nothing we can do on our own, He makes a way), and he goes. Instead of sitting still, he takes action and goes somewhere. And what does he do when he gets there? Does he back down when he sees the scary and intimidating wild things? No. He stands strong and firm and looks them straight in the eye.
We all face challenges and obstacles and moments when we feel stuck. All of us. And if you don’t feel that way right now, at this exact moment, you will soon. It’s just part of life. So when it happens, we have to keep our hope and imagination, step into whatever way out of the situation God provides with faith and determination, and look our monsters straight in the eye. Don’t back down and don’t ever give up hope.
So as good as that all is, it’s the end that makes it the greatest story. Because, in the end, Max goes home and sees his mom’s love and grace and compassion in the form of still-hot meal. I love it. What a great reminder that our family, and more importantly our God, will always be there with open arms full of grace, welcoming us home.
I love you. I’m proud of the woman that you are. I can’t wait to see what your future holds. And I will always, always, always be ready with a still-hot meal cooked just for you.
Divergent movie scene released… Uhh, yes please.
I need this movie to come out NOW. Theo James as Four is perfect.
Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando
This book made me want to go back to college. Not like now, as an adult, adding college classes to the insane list of everything else I already do, but like be 17 and about to start college for the first time again. (No, I’m not saying I’d wish away my family or anything crazy like that. Calm down.)
Roomies does a great job of capturing two girls’ emotions as they transition from high school at home to living on the campus of UC Berkley. Elizabeth (known as EB) is an East Coast only child living with her single mom of questionable morals. Lauren is a native San Franciscan living with her parents and seemingly dozens of siblings as one big happy family. When they find out they’re going to be roommates, EB starts off an e-mail chain of correspondence spanning the remainder of their summer as they wrestle through the important things leading up to college:
- Who brings what stuff?
- What happens to my high school friendships?
- Long distance romances… yes or no?
- How can I leave my family?
- How can I NOT leave my family?
- Am I really ready to grow up?
- Will we get along and be able to live with each other?
- Can even I do this?
On top of all of that, which was fun to watch as EB and Lauren grew up over the course of the summer and developed a great foundation of a relationship to start their college experiences off with, the story is told in alternating points of view, which I love. I’m a sucker for a well written story with multiple points of view. I find it fascinating. And in this case, with Zarr and Altebrando both writing (I assume they each wrote one of the girls), they really FELT like two completely different people instead of one person writing two characters. It was cool.
I’d recommend this for girls in high school, probably tenth grade and up, and for college/adult women as well. There’s a lot here to make you reflect on your own college experience. It made me wonder how my college years could have been different if I’d had a chance to get to know a roommate before moving in. Or what I would have done differently that summer before college knowing how those high school relationships would fade away so quickly once I moved across the country.
Anyway, I really enjoyed these two characters and seeing how their final summers at home played out. I’d also really like to see a follow-up of their first year in college or something. While the story ended well and I felt satisfied that it was sufficiently finished, I also wanted to know more about them.
Make sure you check it out! Roomies releases on December 24 and can be ordered here on Amazon.
Friday Favorite: #SherlockLives!
I’m such a fan of this Sherlock series! Great acting, great writing, great all over. Now, I haven’t gotten to level of fandom where I change my twitter name to include the main actor’s and embrace true Benedict Cumberbatch fangirlishness, but you know. It’s just about THAT good.
What fascinates me the most about this is just the simple fact that Sherlock is a 19th century character that’s still one of the most relevant and influential characters in the literary and pop culture worlds. I can’t even imagine what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would have to say about Sherlock today. What would it feel like to create a character so lasting? It’s amazing.
And really, for real, I can’t wait for January 1st at 9:00. #SherlockLives!
Ten Books That Had An Impact…
I got tagged in a bookish thing on Facebook. You know I can’t resist THAT! But then my response turned into far more than just a status update (my bad) so I’m putting it here, too.
So, here’s a list of ten books that have stayed with me in some way and had an impact on me, including a short description of the affect they had. If you’re looking for a new book to read over the holidays, check this out.
– Where The Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak. – Hands down my favorite book ever; my kids can nearly quote it. I love it for it’s literal meaning, and for the figurative meanings my English degree has allowed me to squeeze from it. Also, I feel like, as a teacher of middle schoolers, I AM A TAMER OF WILD THINGS.
– The Giver, Lois Lowry. – I don’t even know where to start with this one because I love it so much. This classic dystopian is the basis by which I judge all other dystopian novels, and Jonas is probably my favorite character in a book ever.
– The Fault In Our Stars, John Green. – It’s an instant classic. I laughed, I cried, and I still have a giant book crush on Augustus Waters. It’s a really beautiful story that should be read by teens and adults alike.
– Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie, Jordan Sonnenblick. – Somehow I discovered this and instantly started making my 7th graders read it. Barnes and Noble now carries Jordan Sonnenblick’s books because I bullied them into it. Seriously. The characters and the story are unforgettable.
– Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller. – This book shaped my views on my faith more than any other (except for the Bible, obviously, so calm down). The confession booth scene in this, along with the raw, honest language used to explore what it means to be a Christian, have made me a better thinker and a more intentional and purposeful human being. I also got to meet Donald Miller and it was super cool.
– The Truth About Forever, Sarah Dessen. – I’m using this title, probably my favorite of Dessen’s, to represent the whole Dessen-esque genre of teen fiction books that are popular right now, including Jennifer Echols, Stephanie Perkins, Susane Colasanti, and more. They’ve had a big impact on me and my writing.
– The Dollhouse Murders, Betty Wren Wright. – The first book I remember actually WANTING to read on my own, and it was super freaky. Really, really freaky. From here, I moved onto Christopher Pike and RL Stine and the Sweet Valley Twins and the Babysitter’s Club, all of which are probably responsible for my current ridiculous reading habit.
– The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton. – I actually didn’t read this until a few years ago, and I was surprised how much I liked it… and how much every single one of my students like it each year. It’s timeless; it has truly found a way to “stay gold.” Also, S.E. Hinton tweeted me last spring, which I’m still sort of fangirling over.
– Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging, Louise Rennison. – This is the beginning of a ten book series about a group of British teenage girls and their endless quest for boys to kiss. AND THEY ARE SO FUNNY. I’ve laughed to the point of snorts and tears while reading these again and again. They’re also surprisingly tame and appropriate – totally ok for teens to read even though the titles sound all crazy sexual.
– How to Save A Life, Sara Zarr. – A really, really beautiful book that alternates between the story of a family adopting a baby and the story of a pregnant teenage girl about to give her baby up for adoption. It’s so very worth reading, and for very personal reasons touched me deeply.
You should most definitely read all the books.
Drawn by Cecilia Gray
Though most people who know me would probably never suspect me of it, I’m kind of fascinated my graffiti and the whole subculture around it. So, that combined along with the fact that I’ve become a pretty solid fan of Cecilia Gray’s YA work means that I enjoyed Drawn. A lot.
In this title, Sasha is riddled with a unique ability: her voice prompts people to say what they’re actually thinking rather than what they want to say. It seems like that could be fun… but then I think about all the things I think but don’t say out loud, and it’s scary instead. Sasha spends her childhood in and out of foster homes as a result of the chaos this causes in people’s lives, until she’s assigned to work with an FBI agent who takes her in at the age of twelve.
It’s easy to see how Sasha’s human lie detector abilities would be of interest to the FBI, and after successfully working with them for a few years and living with Agent Chelsea Tanner (the closest thing she’s ever had to a mom), Sasha is recruited by the CIA to work with an agent in Brussels. It’s exciting to read – Cecilia’s descriptions and choices of settings for events had me googling images of the city. She made it come alive.
I also really enjoyed the relationships Sasha made in Brussels. She finally finds a good friends, the first one she’s ever really had, in Vivi, and the only chance at romance she’s ever had comes with Sebastian. I was intrigued by the graffiti culture and loved reading the scenes involving the planning and carrying out of each graffiti hit.
The only thing I really wish is that the story had continued more, or that there was a follow up ready to read right now. This felt like the beginning of Sasha’s story; I could easily see a series being centered around her, and I’d hope to see Vivi and Sebastian play main roles in future books!
Find here on Amazon!