Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Books for Teens

I have had a request to recommend books for teens that do not have hetero love interest and perhaps have plots that aren't survivalist. I have a lot of great books to recommend! Here is a list of things that I have read, myself. Next up will be a list compiled from colleagues' recommendations of things that I haven't read. These are not in any particular order, just randomly listed. If you read any of these, let me know what you think and we can talk about books and share and stuff.

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children – Kristin Cronn This compelling story had me hooked from the first page. Born and christened as Elizabeth, Gabe is a pretty amazing teenager. He feels he’s always been a boy and is just starting to reveal that to everyone around him, including the cool older man who is his neighbor, grandfather figure and rock-music mentor. This book deals with a heavy issue but has many moments of sheer joy, delight and regular teen confusion. I picked it up after seeing that it won the Stonewall Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award, and I’m very glad I did! Honestly, there aren’t many books I find these days that I don’t want to put down, and this one had that deliciousness about it because of the compassionate realism and the lack of melodrama often found in coming-of-age books.  

A Mad, Wicked Folly – Sharon Biggs Waller Women's Suffrage in the UK, as seen by a young woman struggling to be her own person, a serious artist, despite the social conventions that would require her to marry well. I really enjoyed the arc of her development. It was believable to see her reluctance to acquiesce to become part of the suffrage movement even though she was clearly rebelling against her upbringing with her art. Her inner conflicts seemed very real to me.

The War That Saved My Life – Kimberly Brubaker Bradley Beautifully written story of children raised in poverty in London by a single mother. The older child, a girl, has a club foot and has been abused by the mother. Both children are transported to the country before the Blitz and find solace and a home with a lovely woman who shows them that life can be so much kinder, so much better. Stark realities of poverty, ignorance and lack of medical care, set in WWII home front in the UK. Beautiful character development.  

White Cat by Holly Black Creepy, confusing, fascinating modern, urban Sci-Fi. I couldn’t put it down, and I had to tear through the rest of the trilogy as well. Really compelling and very likable protagonist.  

Iron Trial – Holly Black and Cassandra Clare Another “this feels like Harry Potter” book that isn’t at all like Harry. Good anti-hero stuff going on here. 2 books out in the series so far. Third is due out in Sept, 2016. Looks like there’s going to be 5, in all.  

Lady of Devices – Shelley Adina Steampunk adventure novel, strong female protagonist, lots of fun. First in a series. I think that, technically, this is considered to be an adult series, but I feel it would be appealing to teens.

Soulless – Gail Carriger Great fun! First in The Parasol Protectorate series of fantasy steampunk that has vampires, werewolves, and Alexa Tarabotti, a woman born w/o a soul who can, with the touch of her hand, temporarily remove the supernatural powers and attributes from the others. Sassy, bold and full of Victorian manners. This series is aimed at adults, although teens like it too. There is a related series with teen protagonists by the same author, set in the same world with some of the same characters that starts with  

Etiquette and Espionage. Grasshopper Jungle -- Andrew Smith This doesn't have any romance, but it is a teenage boy with hormones raging and it does, fair warning, talk about masturbation and being horny. It also has giant insects eating people and crazy scifi things, so make of it what you will. There were parts that I loved and parts where I thought "yea, I'm not really the target demographic for this book" which probably means that teens will like it more than I did. I know my younger colleagues do.  

Dorobo: Dark Days - Chantelle Feasel This was written by a young author from Elk Grove! It is post-apocalyptic, but I liked it a lot. Interesting plot, interesting characters. I want to read more by her, and really, isn't that as good a rec as anything?  

Code Name Verity - Elizabeth Wein Girl pilots and spies, truth and fiction, heart-wrenching realism. I started this book on audio and did something I rarely do - switched to print. Why? The audio wasn't appealing to me but the story was VERY compelling. So compelling that I had to read it more quickly than the audio was allowing.  

Bloodsucking Fiends - Christopher Moore Funny, irreverent, wild vampire book. First in a trilogy. So very funny! The audio books are laugh-out-loud hilarious.

 Beauty Queens - Libba Bray Satire at it's best: a plane crashes on a deserted island and the only survivors are a group of girls traveling to some Miss Teen something or other pageant. I was literally laughing out loud - loudly - many times during this book. Bray reads is VERY well, as well as having written it well on the audio. There were a few passages that became too serious for the genre, imo, but overall I found this book hilarious and meaningful. The messages she's pushing are overly obvious, but then, if you can't tell by the cover and the blurb that it's not subtle, there is little hope for you. Besides, I'd love the book for footnote #50, alone.

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Day of Reflection

Sundays seem to be a day of reflection for me. This is the first day of my weekend every week, and Sunday evenings are when I can finally sit still, not worry about the next day so much, goof off a little and relax. So yes, I get reflective. And again I'm thinking about how much things are changing, have changed. It's an odd thing to pack up all of our things and move across country at my age. I'm sure it's odd regardless of your age, but I suspect that it's more unusual when one is past mid-life, or at least well into mid-life. I've never lived outside of Ohio before . . . well, those 4 years at college barely count because a. I was only 30 minutes into the next state and b. I was only 1 hour from home and c. I still had my bedroom at Mom and Dad's house. Sometimes I forget that I'm not in Ohio. I mean, you know how you get used to working and going home and taking care of yourself and you don't see your personal pals for several days or maybe a week or two? Sometimes it feels like that is happening here and like I'll just have to make sure I get all my chores done during the week better so that when Sunday afternoon comes I'll be able to go to knitting. But then I look around me and see the palm trees, the oh-so-bright sunlight and the 90 degree weather in October, not to mention the new-to-me faces and town, and my situation comes back to me like a flood. Mostly I really like my life here, actually. Thursday was an All Staff Training Day for the library system and I got to see the whole system together in one place. This staff is about 1/2 the size of the staff in Columbus (numbers, not pant sizes . . . although I didn't go around and measure waists, so you never know, but that would be weird, to measure everyone and really, who does that?). So there were about 250-300 people there. It was a great day, good training and decent food. The best, though, for me, was that I actually felt like I knew people and like I had enough friends that I wasn't the total n00b that I was afraid I'd be. These folks are great, fun, creative, talented, warm, accepting, open-minded, snarky - all the things I like in people. It was fun to mingle, and I learned stuff, too. And church - I love my new church! The people are fantastic, so kind and generous. They serve their community, care about the world and the city, the environment, the children - it's terrific. They like me for who I am, even allow me to have faults and don't judge me harshly. Pretty cool stuff. I get lonely sometimes, but you know what? Truth be told, I got lonely sometimes in Columbus, too. It's just the stage of life. It's how things are when you're a divorced 50-yr-old woman. The world doesn't revolve around me and I can certainly take care of myself. I'm doing just fine.

Friday, September 19, 2014

There is an app that I've loaded on my phone called Timehop. It's a cool thing. It digs through your twitter and Facebook feeds for posts from 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 years ago and sends you "memories" each day. I kinda like it because it gives me a sense of the passage of time. I can see how it will be really cool the longer we've all been social-media-ing. And in a week like this, for me, it's a mixed bag of emotions. Yesterday was Simon's birthday. He's 20. Timehop sent me all the posts, each year, that I've put up to celebrate his birthday, including his pictures. Sweet. Tomorrow, however, will be the anniversary of my wedding day. I don't even know what to call it now that we're divorced. Unniversary? Angriversary? Whatever. 4 years ago I said "18 years ago I married my best friend! I love you . . ." blah blah blah. 3 years ago I said "tomorrow is our 19th wedding anniversary - my heart is breaking again and again". Pretty darn accurate. The last 2 years I posted nothing that Timehop shared about the event, just other stuff. 22. This would be 22 years. And look how much has changed in the last 4. I don't know if I'm crazy for changing so much so quickly, or if I've kept myself sane BECAUSE I've adapted and changed so quickly. Since I'm unsure which it is, I'll err on the side of positivity and say it's the latter. So, Happy September 19.

Monday, September 01, 2014

The New Kid

I can't say it has been easy.  The last 6 months have been the craziest, quickest and slowest 6 months of my life. 6 months ago I was packing my stuff, endlessly sorting and packing and throwing away and crying and giving away and cleaning and packing.  A year ago I was searching and praying and crying and worrying and searching and searching and searching. Today I have been living.

What I did today:

  • Chatted with a dear friend on FB early in the morning.
  • Sang too loud and long in church - twice.
  • Hung out with a family at their home, walked through their garden, clucked at their chickens, buttered bread for a little boy, shared heart-truths with a friend.
  • Took a long nap with my cat.
  • Talked on the phone with my mom.
  • Watched several episodes of a good tv show and missed the kind, sweet, generous man who recorded them for me, but I talked to him on the phone today, too.
  • Played my uke.

In short, I'm back to living life. Sure, I got a little teary during a few episodes of Growing Up Fisher, and I miss my friends back in Ohio.  I miss my Sunday afternoons of knitting and sharing with Laura, Don, Josh and whoever else showed up.  I miss the ease of never having to look at a map to find my way around town. I miss not having to explain the backstory of my life every time I share anything. I miss knowing other backstories, too.  Heck, I miss  being certain I know the person's name who is talking to me.  I often have to ask!

But I don't miss the worry.  My house is sold, my job is secure, my boss likes me, I'm working hard and I'm passionate about my job again, I'm involved in a good church where I and those around me are valued and loved and I feel like I'm really starting to make a place for myself here.

Oh, and yea, I kinda like all the sunshine.  I mean - it's always sunny!  Except at night.  California is dark at night.  You know, like normal.

I'm still The New Kid, but I seem to have found people who "get" me.  What a blessing.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Last Night

So many goodbyes this week, but I am done with crying for now. My mind is filled with all of the final details of my move. Tomorrow I will pack my cat and myself into my little car and head to Kansas City. Friday Simon will join us and we will take an epic road trip. It should be a great Spring Break for him. I am concentrating on the trip. Got maps from AAA today. Next week I will think about how my trip is one way this time.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


There is one more load of stuff in  my house hat needs to be taken to be donated; furniture, mostly.  My couch, bed, a table, a few chairs I've kept to use here in the finals days.  I have 2 suitcases to pack, some random food that is left that I will take to  my boyfriend, and those most important papers I have to keep with me.  The party Saturday night was fun, and this week is filled with last minute errands; getting records from the Vet, going to the post office, handling paperwork.

But as I go through the week I am struck by the seeming finality of it all.  I have to concentrate on the adventure of my life, but I can't help but feel doors closing.  I know these friendships will last forever, but the changes wrought by my new geographic location will be abundant.  What this change will mean for us all will be determined in the coming  weeks and months.  For now, I try not to weep as I sit across from my dear bff for our last breakfast, share my last quick lunch with my sister, my last Sunday afternoon of knitting with the gentle group, my last evening with the GKP, the last night of sleep in my house . . . so many lasts.

Next week I will get some firsts.  For now, I will embrace the lasts.