young adult fiction

A Million Miles from Boston – Book Giveaway

I have always been a big reader (stop snort laughing, family) – so much so that I called it modeling behavior by way of rationalization for the times I had my nose in a book I mean, read while my young children crawled over me on the floor in the family room. Now they are both avid readers, so I guess it worked out. I have car books (sometimes downgraded to magazines or if I am really desperate catalogs) an upstairs and downstairs book, books on an e-reader and my iPad, and while I am not really into books on tape, I did see a really cute gadget at the Newton Free Library that is loaded with picture books for young readers and I recently also found a great list of recommendations from our middle school’s librarians – here.


Anyway, having professed my love of Young Adult fiction, and finding so many like minded souls here, means I no longer have to be pretending to just be pre-reading the titles for my children (which I am so totally doing anyway). I get to read YA with abandon. I even got to meet one of my favorite YA authors at Pragmatic Mom’s house when she visited for her daughter’s book group, Karen Day. My mother-daughter book group read No Cream Puffs last year and loved it.

Karen Day is one of those super creative, thoughtful people who really remembers what it is like to be 12 years old and is able to capture those feelings and share them with the insight I wish I possessed at that age – who am I kidding? I wish for it now. I have also had the pleasure of getting to know Karen at the Newton Free Library and she is the kindest person you would ever want to meet.

I loved her new book, A Million Miles from Boston and I really like how she writes so clearly about how she brought the story to life.

From Karen Day’s blog post about the story behind the story:

In my new middle grade novel, A MILLION MILES FROM BOSTON, 12-year-old Lucy can’t wait to leave her home in Boston and travel to Pierson Point, Maine, where she spends summers at her family cottage. This is the place where memories of her mom, who died when Lucy was six, are strong and sacred.

From the beginning this was a very difficult book to write. I wanted to write about Lucy’s distorted memories of what happened to her mom without being too heavy. I also wanted the reader to read Lucy’s actions, feelings and thoughts through the lens of her unconscious grief, yet this had to be done so subtly.

And I also thought, does the world really need another dead mother book? In the end I decided yes.

But unlike other dead mom books, where the event as more of a plot device, in my book Lucy’s memories (both conscious and unconscious) of the death and how her family dealt with it, form the main plot. I want the reader to see how a traumatic event that happens in a child’s life will forever color the way she sees the world. AND also to see what happens when memories of that event are distorted, when the truth is hidden somewhere deep inside.

I also knew that I had to tie Lucy’s experience to my other characters’ experiences as well as the reader’s experience. And so by introducing other plots lines – the annoying, mean boy from school who shows up at their summer community, the humorous, flawed neighbors, Dad’s new girlfriend, the camp Lucy runs, the older girls she looks up to, her incredible bond with her wonderful dog Superior — I was able to create a story where Lucy, and the reader, realize that we all tell stories, in some way, to ourselves to protect ourselves from things that hurt and are painful.

This is a story about transition, of a girl not only moving to a different stage of “knowing,” but also moving from elementary up to middle school. It’s about realizing that kids who bully are often bullied themselves. It’s about special summer places and the joy of exploring a beach on a lazy afternoon, finding pleasure in sighting an eagle, digging for clams, counting stars in a cloudless night sky and smelling the fire during a clambake.

It’s funny, sometimes sad, but a mostly a hopeful book about friendship, facing our fears and learning to let go yet still hang onto the things we love.

To me, this story is also about being who you are and discovering who you will become is a place that is home but not home. Our family spent a lot of summers on the Cape and you made friends because you are neighbors or in the same tennis or sailing class or maybe even that your moms sit near each other on the beach.

Pragmatic Mom also posted on A Million Miles from Boston here.

I am giving away 3 copies of A Million Miles to Boston. Please Tweet and comment below to win.

Leave comment letting me know you did this. Thanks! Visit Pragmatic Mom for another chance to win!

The winners are Ann, Ashleen and Vanita!! Congrats to all! You will get an email with a confirmation and you will be asked for your mailing address. Thanks for commenting!

Shopping for the Holidays with blogger extraordinaire, Pragmatic Mom

Last year, Pragmatic Mom and I shared a wildly popular (said modestly, eyes downcast) series of 12 posts for the 12 Days of – not Christmas – but Shopping. This year we are a little more on top of things and are starting earlier.  We covered those challenging people to buy for (Gifts for Father-in-law was by far the most searched) including in-laws, tutors, and teachers. How can you be your best centered self (not self-centered self) if you are distracted and driving around searching for gifts? We’ve got you covered. This was such fun and worked so well last year that we are formatting it the same way this year. We’ll be joint posting for the twelve days and Pragmatic Mom will do half of each post, and I’ll do the other. We even have a giveaway thrown in the mix this year, too, from Botanical Paperworks – Check out their Green Gifts Guide and enter to win Eco Coil Calendar and Pop Garden Pocket Notebooks at Pragmatic Mom on December 4th and Poppy Notebook Pad and Mittens Card Set here on December 5th!

So here is a preview: The 12 Days of Shopping

Thursday, December 1:  Make Your Own Gifts

Friday, December 2:  Kids Make Gifts Craft

Saturday, December 3: Personalized Gifts

Sunday, December 4:  Father-in-Law/Dad and Mother-in-Law/Mom

Monday, December 5:  Tutors/Teacherscapability mom scrounges sales racks for tea towels from Sur la table and anthropologie

Tuesday, December 6:  High Tech/Low Tech

Wednesday, December 7:  Hostess/Doing Good and Getting Something

Thursday, December 8:  Sanitation Engineers, Mail Carriers, Hairdresser, Delivery People, Babysitter, Cleaning People, Dog Walker/Dog Trainer

Friday, December 9:  Husband, Me (Our Own  List)

Saturday, December 10:  Pets

Sunday, December 11:  Quick Gifts from Whole Foods versus Gourmet Food Store

Monday, December 12:  ‘Cause I Am So Together,  Last Minute Home Made Gifts

 

Back to School – The Easy Adjustment

back to school photosAre we all breathing easier now that the first week of school is behind us? Sort of. I know that some people (me, for example) don’t do well with transitions. Despite three calendars and electronic reminders, I still have forgotten things this week. Is it my system? Is it my aging brain? Do I just wish that summer wasn’t over and am in denial? All of the above, I think. How do you make transition to school easier on your family? There are great online calendars and organizing systems for computers/phones/tablets like Evernote and Cozi, and paper ones for you paper people like MomAgenda and Mom Central that clean,  nice and easy to use (if you remember to use them). I am not really organized (cue the snort laughs from loved ones) so I have to set up no-fail systems – I actually just started a secret snack drawer (no, I can’t tell you where it is) so I have full containers of something for sharing (for those occasional times when it is 10 pm and someone remembers that we need a snack to share with the class – yes, I have beverages, too).  I also have a present cabinet (downgraded to a drawer now that the kids are older, the presents are smaller in size). What do I keep in it? Blank cards, basic (but lovely) hostess gifts, iTunes gift cards, Starbucks gift cards, unopened crayons, cool pencils, children’s birthday presents (anything from Klutz – especially the craft kits), books (I like to buy books anyway, and when you place your Scholastic order at school just order a few extra books or gift sets and you will have a great present on hand). Scholastic also has a great Parents page with tips and resources – sign up for their newsletter, too. I just received a packet of books from them to review and am so excited (some went out the door to family friends to read first – I managed to secure the promise of an actual young adult review or summary of the books in return) because I am busy driving carpool and re-learning some math skills  – Thank you, TenMarks! (a great on-line math resource for when I can’t get my engineer dad on the phone and sometimes even when I can). Now I am off to Staples one more time (this makes 6 times – don’t ask) – thank goodness I went for that 15% discount card! Don’t forget to get ready for Parent-Teacher Conferences! Here is a recent article from Social Moms on Making the Most of the Parent-Teacher Conference. What are you doing to get back into the swing of school? Advice? Snafus? Funny stories? I’d love to hear your experiences – Please share!

Reading All Day

Yes, that is my preferred method of spending time and although it is hard to carve out a whole day, preferably with some iced tea and maybe something sweet to nibble on (like these?), at least I have no shortage of books! Check out this list from NPR – Critics’ List: Summer 2011: NPR I always love their book picks.

After carpools, dog walking and basic house cleanup, oh, yeah, working, and seeing to a mild but persistent addiction to Angry Birds, I am sneaking in some reading time. Pack a car book! Great time to catch up on reading while waiting for children in camp lines or on the sometimes longish drives to camp (books on tape, audio only while driving please).

So far, I’ve read Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder which I could not put down and read straight through in two days, yes, that’s what I was doing and it is reviewed here in the NY Times (not by me, I wish).


“>capability mom reads so many books

capability mom still reading booksBossy Pants, by Tina Fey

Supremely funny, here is the great Mother’s Prayer for Its Daughter excerpt, because, Lord, I have seen with my own eyes that Tina Fey can really, really write.

First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.

May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty.

When the Crystal Meth is offered, May she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half And stick with Beer.

Guide her, protect her

When crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.

Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance. Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes And not have to wear high heels.

What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.

May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers.

Grant her a Rough Patch from twelve to seventeen. Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long, For childhood is short – a Tiger Flower blooming Magenta for one day – And adulthood is long and dry-humping in cars will wait.

O Lord, break the Internet forever, That she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers And the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.

And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister, Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.

And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back.

“My mother did this for me once,” she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.

and am pre-reading Young Adult books – yes, that is my story and I am sticking to it.

Journey to the River Sea, Eva Ibbotson Lovely book, Winner of the Smarties Book Prize, and 2001 Whitbread Children’s Book Prize Finalist and a 2001 Carnegie Medal Finalist if you don’t believe me.

capability mom reads so many books - young adult fiction

Lock and Key, Sarah Dessencapability mom pre-reads young adult fiction

Tough topics are handled very well by the author. Fine for High School, middling for Middle Schoolers unless you are either into Good Discussions about Sensitive Topics like drug and alcohol abuse, child abandonment and physical abuse.

and on my iPad:
Egypt: The Uprising (The Battle for Maat, #1)

I just started this and really like it so far but it is my first full read on the iPad and I may crack and get the paper copy from Pragmatic Mom as we are both reviewing it later this summer.

capability mom reading to review books

and Wicked Good by Amy Lewis Faircloth and Joanne Lewis

Two sisters wrote this book together and although I am only 30 pages in, I am already attached to the characters. From the website:

My sister and I have written a novel called Wicked Good. It’s the story of a mother and her son with Asperger’s syndrome. People frequently ask how it came to be that two sisters wrote a novel together while living in different states.It was March. The snow was dirty brown and the sun was absent here in Bangor, Maine. I was spending a lot of time on my sofa, channel surfing and landing nowhere.Joanne called from her home in Florida. “Wanna write a book together?” she asked.I wrapped the afghan around me tighter and yawned from lack of blood flow to my brain. “Sure,” was the best response I could muster.

capability mom reading to review books

I am also on a rereading kick and just put down Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

capability mom rereads books in the summer I don’t know who re-did this cover but I am feeling quite stodgy when I say I do not care for it. I also am a bit put out reading this as a mom, because just maybe it isn’t all Marmee-love over here. Now I have to go read Little Men. Oh, look, they left that cover alone. capability mom rereads classic books in the summerWell, this should get you started, Happy Reading!

I forgot to add two books, a Pramatic Mom recommendation, After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick capability mom's picks for young adult fiction reads this summer– a terrific Young Adult book about the friendship of two boys (who both have cancer), family, middle school crushes and math phobia. Loved this book.

capability mom's picks for young adult fiction reads this summer I am midway through Zeitoun by David Eggers, which both Newton South and Newton North high schools are reading as part of the Two Schools, One Book project this summer but my high school student needed to read it so I handed it over.

I have linked all of these books to Amazon – go ahead and buy them! Last quarter I earned about $.73 – yes, that was a decimal point.

Update, alert and apologies. I just upgraded my blog and I think it cost me the links in this post to Amazon! All is not lost, however, and you can still line my pockets (snort laugh) by going to the conveniently located sidebar for Amazon and order the books there. I have tried to fix this basic link several times already and am past capacity for the frustration of trying one more time, plus I have other stuff to do. Read and enjoy.

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