Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Confessions of a 30-year-old YA Addict

I've always been an avid reader, and I don't say that flippantly. I mean from the time I started reading just before kindergarten through my Nancy Drew stage to this day, I've
 always been reading something or another. I read a lot of different genres too. I enjoy everything from Janet Evanovich to Gillian Flynn and beyond. My tastes run the spectrum from F. Scott Fitzgerald-type classics to cheesy Nicholas Sparks romances, formulaic cozy mysteries, and psychological thrillers like Gone Girl, Reconstructing Amelia, and Before I Go To Sleep.
While many women my age dove head-first into the steamy waters that were stirred up by authors like E.L. James and Sylvia Day, I couldn't justify reading 50 Shades of Terrible Prose just to get some sort of erotic fix that I didn't really think was missing in my life. I read enough and that was too much. Although, I think you could probably make a drinking game out of how many times Anastasia says some iteration of "Holy crap" and that could be fun.
I have another genre that I get really excited about. I have a special place in my heart for Young Adult Literature. I read them when I was the target age (The Outsiders, The Giver, Number the Stars, Little Women,Judy Blume) and I continue to love them now. I will admit to reading Twilight, which, while not written particularly well, wasn't terrible. I of course devoured Harry Potter,even taking an Honors English class on the boy-wizard in college (best. class. ever.).
But then came the rash of post-apocalyptic teen dramas and I was hooked at the first Reaping Ceremony. Katniss Everdeen entered my life and I have no regrets. I wasn't happy at all with the last book for a number of reasons, but that's another blog post for another time. I just finished reading the Divergent trilogy and it only took me a week to read all three. I felt like I had an addiction and I couldn't wait for my next fix. That Veronica Roth can sure spin a yarn, let me tell you. And what's even better is that, even though the plot was really good, it was also really well written. She is a fantastic writer. And I'd like to personally thank her (because you all know she's totally reading this) for using words like "Abnegation" and "Dauntless" and "Erudite". She's not afraid of SAT words and doesn't dumb down her text because her target audience is younger. Our country could handle a little vocab expansion.  The next book(s) on my list are Maze Runner and The Fault in Our Stars.
A lot of the YA lit that's out now, and not just the end-of-the-world stuff or the SciFi stuff, is not just soapy teen drama (well, maybeTwilight was. And the love story in Divergentreally got to me because I'm a total sap), it is complicated and nuanced. The authors are telling great stories and, for the most part, telling them well. They are making commentaries on the state of our world, and while I don't think we will ever send our youngsters to kill each other for sport or divide into factions based on one single trait, they serve as a metaphorical warning. I think they also provide a keen insight into the human condition as seen by teenagers who haven't yet been jaded by real life like many of us cynical adults. While adults are necessary to make plots more realistic, the teens have to take center stage because they are more open to possibility and hope than adults are.
My affection for YA is not limited to literature. I also watch the movies and TV shows they spawn, giving life to these stories about high schoolers with the responsibility of the world on their shoulders, who are far better looking than anyone I've seen in real life high schools (or real life. Seriously, Theo James, who looks like that!!?). Are they always good? No (I'm talking to you Tomorrow People), but sometimes they are (Vampire Diaries, The Originals. Teen Wolf on MTV is probably the best of the bunch. Dylan O'Brien is one to watch. He's got a career ahead of him for sure). The Hunger Games  movies have so far been quite good; however, if I were Veronica Roth and the Divergent movie that is in theaters is what resulted from my original novel, I would not be happy. But again, another blog for another time. I also enjoyed Beautiful Creatures, which is also a series I have not read, but I don't think the critics much cared for it.

I read recently that 55% of YA literature is sold to people over the target market age, so I guess it's good to know I'm not alone laying my hopes for our post-apocalyptic world in the hands of a bunch of good-looking teenagers.
I love having a book list, if anyone has any recommendations, YA or otherwise. Send 'em my way!

Saturday, April 19, 2014


So, about a month ago my sister-in-law sent me a text asking if I wanted to go see The Ellen Show. 

Um....??? Heck, yeah I do!!!!!!

We, along with two of her friends, trecked over to Warner Bros. studios on Thursday and saw the live taping of Ellen's show. It was sooo much fun! And quite a workout with all the sitting and standing and, oh my gosh the dancing! So much dancing!!

It was a great show (the audience got a copy of a DVD of the guest Ice Cube's movie Ride Along!), I made nice new friends, and I had a great day! I would love to go see her tape again! 

Be kind to one another. :0) 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Preschool: All the cool kids are doing it

So, on April 2, JJ started preschool and I've been a mess ever since. I mean, seriously, my baby started preschool! This isn't just some little class we signed him up for; this is it. He's in school now for the next 20 years of his life! It's been a week and a half, but I still have trouble wrapping my mind around it.

I of course am projecting all my worst fears as a parent (does he have friends? is he behaving? is he learning anything? I could on and on), but the reality is, he is doing great. He loves school. He doesn't want to leave and he can't wait to go in the morning. And he's making friends. He's a very friendly kid anyway (I anticipate a lot of parent-teacher conferences  for the foreseeable future about him talking too much. He can't help it; it's in his genes!), but the first day we dropped him off, we left him making the rounds: "Hi, I'm JJ. What's your name?" he said to one kid. "Hi, I'm JJ. What are you drawing?" he said to another. Today, Gary told me that when he dropped JJ off, he introduced a friend of his named Sarah. Gary double-checked that that was in fact her name, and it was. He was also asking the kids if they had magic. (He's been watching Once Upon a Time with us, so it's sort of been on his mind lately.)

He has a hard time out-right telling me what he learned in school, but he will start randomly talking about things or asking us to play certain games that are obviously from something he got at school. Yesterday, he was pretending to build a house and then told Gary that he was the big, bad wolf and needed to blow the house down. Clearly they read a certain piggy-tale in circle time. He already has a very active imagination, but his creativity levels are threw the roof in such a short time.
I still worry about him, but now that I've met his teacher (timing was off for a few days), I worry less. She's great with him and assures me that he is doing well, especially since he's never done anything like this before. I will never not worry about him in school, but in the meantime, I'm loving what it has already done for him. 

And the unexpected best part? Seeing Kathryn get so excited when her big brother comes home from school :0)