My life has been a little up and down recently. I had such a beautiful spring, am dating a fantastic newish person, and settling into my writing/teaching routines. Then in May, I went on a dream vacation. Two weeks in Italy with my sister. The pasta! The wine! The Renaissance art! It was everything. But almost as soon as I got home, there was a big family health emergency. It looks like everything is going to be okay, but it’s been a few weeks of worrying and plane rides and taking things day by day. Gilmore Girls and frozen pizzas are helping to get me through. And I know we are lucky. But hard times are hard. And friends, this is HARD.
I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest is the YA road trip, rom com of all of our dreams. Swoons for literal days. Also isn’t this cover stunning? Chloe is a seventeen year old dancer with dreams of becoming a professional ballerina. When her mom forbids her from auditioning for her dream conservatory, she decides to bend the rules for the first time of her life and make it happen. But that means taking a road trip to the audition. Then her annoying and annoyingly cute best frenemy neighbor Eli blackmails her into letting him and his smelly dog come along. This light, summery read packs a punch and sends an important message – that your dreams are with following and fighting for. Kristina and I were in grad school together and I couldn’t be prouder!
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas, was unsurprisingly a beautiful, thoughtful, EMOTIONAL follow up to The Hate U Give. While it was set in the same neighborhood, this was a very different story. It followed Bri, an aspiring rapper dealing with her father’s death and her mom losing her job. Bri wants her talent to help support her family. But sometimes it feels like that would mean creating a character and rapping songs that don’t feel authentic to her. Angie Thomas is a master at voice and this book reflects that in every sentence. There is a small romantic element and an interesting friend story too. Like Starr in The Hate U Give, Bri feels like a fully real person, dealing with all the elements of life that real people deal with.
Somewhere Only We Know by Maureen Goo is a retelling of Audrey Hepburn’s Roman Holiday. In this modern twist, Lucky is the world’s biggest K-Pop star, about to break into the mainstream market. After a big concert in Hong Kong, Lucky just wants one thing – to get a hamburger by herself like a normal teenager. But sleeping pills plus getting lost derail these plans and throw her directly into the path of Jack, a teenage tabloid photographer afraid of telling his parents about his artistic dreams. He suggests one day to explore the city. She finds the idea – and Jack – irresistible. Both Lucky and Jack need to learn to be honest with each other and honest with themselves about what they truly want out of life.
I’m working on a first draft of my hardest novel yet. It’s an idea I’ve had for *years* but requires multiple perspectives and a nonlinear timeline. It is hard! But so fun to be writing. Even though the going is slow.
Here are some of my favorite recent Book Riot articles:
I’m currently in LA visiting family (i.e. snuggling and watching endless Kardashians episodes and Olsen Twins Movies) and getting ready for Xmas. This is supposed to be the first year Santa doesn’t come … but I’m not convinced he won’t sneak in a present or two with help from my mom the elf. The last few months have been busy busy busy, but also good. I went through a HARD summer, but fall and winter are looking up. I’m trying to think of good details since this is sounding super vague. Here are a few highlights:
I dressed up as a Sand-Witch (because I always intend my puns) and sang Whitney Houston songs with my friends at Halloween Karaoke.
I went camping in Joshua Tree with my sister and visited The Ripped Bodice for the first time (and bought approximate one trillion romance novels).
Puddin’by Julie Murphy was a beautiful and hilarious follow-up to the now-Netflix-famous Dumplin’. It follows the pageant’s runner up, Millie Michalchuk who’s determined to skip fat camp this summer and go to a broadcasting summer program. Her dream is to anchor the news, but everyone – including her mother – keeps telling her that no one wants a fat girl in front of the camera. Sigh. She finds an unlikely ally and friend in pretty girl Callie Reyes, who has her popular boyfriend and the entire dance team turn on her after a prank goes wrong. This sounds like a lot … but it’s really such an aggressively feminist, body positive, friendship forward novel. Also there are cameos from Willowdean and all your favorite characters from Dumplin’.
What If It’s Usbrings together real life author best friends Adam Silvera and Becky Albertali to tell the story of one sweet NYC summer between Arthur and Ben. Arthur’s a hopeless romantic from Georgia who’s only in town for an internship. He’s a big believer in fate and romance, despite his lack of relationship experience. Ben’s a cynical New Yorker who’s trying to get over his first really bad break up. But a swoony meet-cute in a post office brings them together, and something (whether it’s fate or coincidence) doesn’t let them break apart. Will they give into the mutual attraction and kismet-like feelings or will their differences be too much to overcome? Regardless of whether Arthur and Ben find their own HEA or not, you will fall in love with these two characters and their authentic voices!
Pride by Ibi Zoboi is the Pride and Prejudice retelling that I didn’t know we needed. But we did … do (what tense am I writing in?). It moves the beloved story from the English countryside to the rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods of Brooklyn. Zuri Benitez hates the way her Afro-Latina neighborhood is changing. This gives her an immediate bias against Darius Darcy when he and his wealthy family move in next door, even though they’re also Black. Of all the Jane Austen updates – and I’ve read dozens of them – this setting makes for the easiest match with Austen’s original. It is also so so so romantic. I mean like whoa. And it also includes complicated family dynamics up the wazoo.
Hi everyone still reading. Is anyone still reading?
For about a year, I’ve been apologizing for not blogging more. For years, I posted regularly three to four times a week. But as I’ve started teaching more and writing more and blogging for Book Riot , this little project has been taking a back burner. I haven’t found the time to post three times a month, let alone three times a week. And blogging has changed too.
But I’m done saying sorry. And I don’t want to fade out of Hardcovers & Heroines without saying a proper goodbye. Instead of sorry, I want to say thank you. Thank you for reading. Whether you’ve been reading since the beginning (hi Mom!) or you are just reading this post. Thank you for commenting. Thank you for recommending books and encouraging me with my own writing. Thank you for your congratulations when things are going well. Thank you for your kind words when things aren’t.
I started Hardcovers & Heroines with a college friend in 2012. Blogging was the big thing at the time, and we were on opposite coasts. It seemed like it was a good way to stay in touch. And we were both just getting interested in young adult books. Though that friendship ended and my cofounder took her posts down, the blog continued. And since I’ve started blogging I’ve:
I learned about YA books on this blog and from other bloggers who’ve been doing this longer than me. I made wonderful friends through this blog, with a special shout out to Jackie Lea Sommers and Betsy Cornwell, who are both incredibly supportive and inspiring writers in my life.
And I’m not disappearing forever. I’m still figuring out what to do with this space. And hope to check back in semi-regularly (one a month? one a season?) with a few book recommendations and some of my Book Riot articles.
When I was a little girl, nothing was as exciting as spending the night at Nana and Papa’s house. With a swimming pool shaped like a whale and the promise of Papa making his signature silver dollar pancakes in the morning, nothing could be. At night, I’d get into Nana and Papa’s bed and sleep between them. Every time, without fail, Papa snored. He didn’t just snore, he snored loud. Very loud. In the morning, Nana would complain. But I decided that I would teach myself to love snoring – to be soothed by it.
And I succeeded. Not only do I not mind the sound of snoring now, but whoever is next to me in bed has never snored as loud as Papa. This is just one of the many ways he’s influenced my life. Continue reading “My Papa, Jerry Barton”→
Hi friends. Are you still out there? I know I’ve been MIA recently. This summer has been a perfect storm of hard things – family illness, divorce, more teaching than I’ve ever done, roommate tumult, boy stuff … pretty much ALL THE THINGS. Still finding joy in writing and friendship and NYC bookish life where I can. And most of all … my recent Mexico sister trip! Here are a few photos if you are interested. Will try to figure out a more consistent blogging schedule again soon as things calm down! xoxox Continue reading “Mexico Trip / Summer / Sorry I’m Not Writing More”→
Hi friends. I know I have been TERRIBLE about writing recently. My life … as per usual … has been kind of a rollercoaster. The things that are going well are going really well – like my new teaching job at The New School and June not being ridiculously hot yet. And kind of, maybe, sort of finishing a new draft of a new book that I’m somehow still in love with. But other things are kind of a dumpster fire – globally (this needs no explanation) and personally (money stuff, roommate stuff, boy stuff, etc.).
So it’s the nicest to get away for a four-day weekend upstate at my very first writing retreat. My friend Kristina (the best critique partner anyone ever had) organized it. We are ten girls in a gorgeous house in the woods – with a pool! Three attendants are going to have their debut YA novels published next year, six attendants work in publishing, and four went to grad school with me (there is some overlap in these lists lol). We haven’t gotten the most writing done yet today, but are hunkered down now – listening to jazz and sitting with our laptops around a very long dining room table.
I brought along The Way You Make Me Feelby Maurene Goo and a lot of different ideas I want to flush out/choose from for my next project. And a swim suit … because, pool. It is beautiful and quiet and exactly what I needed.
Hey friends and happy Monday! You all know (unless you are very very new) that YA is my one true bookish love. It’s been the main thing I read for about 7-8 years, it’s what I write, I even moved to New York City and got a masters degree in it. Oh yeah and I’ve been blogging about it here for like 5+ years. But…
For some reason, I’m not really reading a ton of it right now. Which is bananas because there are so many books I’m excited about coming out. There are plenty, in fact, sitting right on my shelf. But when I was looking at my goodreads shelf last night thinking a review post was long overdue … I realized that out of the last ten books I read, only one was YA.
I don’t think I even read nine books for adults combined in 2014 and 2015, and now I’ve read nine since mid-April! To be fair, *a lot* are romance novels. But still this totally spooked me out.
Hit me with your recommendations in the comments, because I definitely want to add some YA to my library holds queue ASAP!