Now that 2018 is almost over, it's time for our first batch of 2019 reads! Here are the YA and MG books releasing in Winter 2019 (January through March) that I'm the most excited about.
1) Stain by A.G. Howard is a YA fantasy retelling of "The Princess and the Pea," a fairytale by my boy Hans Christian Andersen that was clearly influenced by his chronic pain. I don't know how much of a role that'll play in this retelling, but I'm interested nonetheless. This book releases on January 15.
2) A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer is a YA fantasy retelling of the classic "Beauty and the Beast" story--one of my favorites, personally--featuring a girl with cerebral palsy. It releases on January 29.
3) King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo continues Bardugo's adventures in the YA fantasy world of the Grisha, now following the roguish prince-turned-pirate from The Grisha series and the confident but recently grief-stricken magic worker from the Six of Crows duology. I'm ready to hear more from both of them, coming January 29!
4) Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok is a YA historical fantasy about a newspaper columnist in 1887 Paris who gets caught up in a serial killer investigation when she starts having visions about his murders. It releases on February 12.
Continuing from Wednesday with my best of 2018 lists, today I'm sharing my picks for the best YA books released this year! As always, please note that I haven't read all the YA releases from this year and that this list is a matter of personal opinion. So don't feel bad if your favorite book isn't on here--but definitely give these reads a try!
I've decided to do something a little different for my TV/movie review this year, and instead of reviewing all of the new TV and movies I saw in 2018, I'm going to just share the ones that I recommend. So here they are! My list of the best movies and TV of 2018. As with my best YA lists of each year (and even more so here), please note that I have not seen all of the movies and TV released in 2018!
Here we go.
Christmas is coming up pretty soon, so it's a good time to talk about shopping for gifts! And since I'm a book person myself, of course this post is all about the book lovers, especially YA fans. If you've got a book lover on your gift list, there are a lot of options for what to buy. Below are some recommendations, including a long list of stores and shops you can turn to.
Obviously, the most important thing you can get for a book lover is a book! If you ask, they can probably give you a list of which ones they want. If you're familiar with their tastes and with what they already own, you can also look at recommendation lists online, such as the one I'll be sharing next week. (You can find more of my recommendations on my "on my blog," "best YA of the year," and "recommended" Goodreads shelves.)
Your Local Bookstore
Once you know what to buy, you should turn first to your local bookstore. Local bookstores are struggling nowadays, and, as community centers that offer writers a lot of support, they deserve your support!
Book Depository or Barnes & Noble
If, like me, you don't have a local bookstore, or if your bookstore doesn't have the book you're looking for, Book Depository is the ideal next choice. It's an online bookstore that has a wide selection of books as well as free shipping! If you can't find the book you want to buy there, I'd turn next to Barnes & Noble online. Is Amazon also a choice? Yes. Is it the most ethical and economically friendly choice? Nooooo. 😬
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is one of my favorite classics, which is true for many people. In fact, in October it was voted America's favorite book. As such, I thought it might be appropriate for me to talk today about why it's one of my favorites.
The first thing we need to recognize is that To Kill a Mockingbird is not a novel about a black man. Nor is it fully a novel about racism. Many black critics and social justice activists point out that it falls into the "white savior trope" of focusing on a "good" white person and their fight against racism instead of focusing on the actual black people. That in itself isn't necessarily a bad thing, since there's a place for many different stories in the world--but very nearly all the stories we have about racism are like that. Certainly, the popular ones are, and not recognizing that would be wrong. The stories of black people need to be heard, much more than another story about a white person, and their stories need to be told by black people themselves. When white people constantly envelop racism in self-soothing narratives about white saviors, it's unhelpful and disempowering to others, and acting like To Kill a Mockingbird is the book about racism only worsens things.
(For some of these important diverse, own voices stories, at least in the YA sector, I recommend checking out Rich in Color.)
I've always considered myself pretty knowledgeable when it comes to mental illness. Psychology, after all, is one of my main interests. However, my big project for my final class, a LibGuide for teens about mental health, taught me a lot I didn't know. Categorizations have changed a lot over time, and there were many conditions I came across that I hadn't heard of before. In fact, the amount of work I expected the project to take ended up at least tripled because I had to keep revising my organizational structure. Not only were there many changes in the official DSM structure in 2013, but there are a number of conditions that cross categories.
More than anything, the project made me consider how arbitrary human categories and labels can be, at least when it comes to health. It's something I've experienced in my own life, and it's something I could see in this project. It makes sense, of course. The mind and the body existed long before we gave them names, and the lines we like to draw, the boxes we create, don't exist in nature.
Language means a lot to me, as a writer and a person. The names and labels we use grant us power over the world and ourselves. They make it easier to understand our lives. I think it's important that we have that. Yet language (and science) is imperfect, and it's important to recognize that there are areas where the lines start to blur and our categorizations fail. Just because things, or people, don't exactly fit into established parameters doesn't mean they don't exist.
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