Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Top 100 YA books

A while back, I wrote about Persnickety Snark's list of the top 100 YA books.  There was a poll where you could submit your own top ten (mine's here); 735 people participated, and then Adele compiled the results.  All through July and August she's been counting down the results, a few at a time starting with this post, and finally the complete list is up. 

Number 1 is Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and only two of the ones on my top ten made it to the top 100:  Octavian Nothing at #91, and How I Live Now at #65.

Definitely check it all out, and click through the older posts; it's all very interesting, especially all the comments from voters and blog readers.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Cemeteries; eggplants; bald spots

I haven't been reading any YA again.  Or following the news about the goings-on in the biz.  I did read Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men by Michael Kimmel, which everyone seemed to be abuzz about all at the same time. It's ok I guess, but it's awfully focused on frat culture.  Mostly I'm just typing up a post to procrastinate, because there is so much else I really should be doing right now.  And to whine about stuff.

Like: Something has gone wrong with my internet, and it's driving me mad.  It doesn't work and then it does and then it resets itself and doesn't again, and the router doesn't work at all, which is unbearable.  I have to sit on the couch with my laptop hooked directly to the ethernet like its 1999 or something.  Gah! (The good part is, the other day I hiked over to the Time Warner office to trade in my modem for a shinier one, just in case.  It didn't help of course, but the office is right across the street from Greenwood Cemetery, so I got to stroll through the graves after, which was very pleasant.)

And: A couple months ago I went to the garden center with a guy who also has a garden.  We each bought an eggplant starter.  I just visited his yard, which is way sunnier than mine, and his is a giant shrub now and is covered with eggplants, some many inches long already and dark purple.  Mine is maybe a foot tall and has three sad little blossoms that don't seem to be turning into anything. Next year I will have to focus on shade-loving vegetables, cause this is frustrating.  Also, the squirrels and/or raccoons are eating all my tomatoes.

And then in alopecia news (cause I know fans of YA fiction will care about my annoying scalp disease), check out my adorable stubble!  Too bad I don't have a proper camera, but there's a bunch there now, even a bit in the parts that look bare.  I know it still looks awful, but I'll take what I can get. It's been about six weeks since my first scalp shots, and a couple weeks since the second round.  So, it's obviously good that the follicles are responding, and I'll just be cheered by that instead of being deeply unhappy about the way "the spot" is still spreading.  At least it's not so achy anymore for some reason.  I'm so tired of having to pull my hair back to cover it every day; I'm almost looking forward to the time when that stops working and I can shave it all off and get a totally realistic hair tattoo. (I actually googled that phrase after an awesomely detailed dream in which I got an elaborate librarian-bun tattooed on my head.)

Now, to work!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Recent Reading and Whatnot

You know how when you read a bunch of books close together you often find unexpected synchronicities? Like I remember once being totally amazed when I read two books back to back, both of which used the exact same song lyrics as major plot points.

For the WinAnd several weeks ago I read For the Win by Cory Doctorow, which was quite a mind-blowing education about gaming economies and global labor movements—everyone should read it!—and a terrific, page-turning story besides.  Immediately afterward, I read Fire Will Fall by Carol Plum-Ucci, the follow-up to Streams of Babel, where the almost-thwarted terrorists have developed an even more terrible biological weapon, and are about to deploy it.  Less of a synch, but still both spent significant time on techy hacky computery moves that are supposed to sound impressive.  It was almost a shame to have read them so close together, because Plum-Ucci's book was hard to put down and all, but Doctorow's meticulous technical details are a tough act to follow.

And then today I read two books, both grabbed almost at random from the new book rack in the library, and they both turned out to be about terribly alcoholic parents and kids hiding dark secrets.  Happyface by Stephen Emond is about an awkward lonerish art kid who moves to a new school and is determined to not let on that there's anything wrong.  So he smiles so much that he gets the nickname Happyface (this made me cringe right through to the last page—stupidest nickname ever); he makes friends surprisingly easily, but they don't who know who he really is.  Of course eventually something has to give.  It's heavily illustrated Diary of a Wimpy Kid style. 

DawnDawn, By Kevin Brooks
Completely different tone and style, but there were so many similarities I kept getting confused and forgetting which book I was reading.  Missing fathers, heavy drinking mothers, awful family secrets that take most of the book to be revealed, unlikely new friendships.  And so on.  (Also, the girl in the cover illustration looks so much like an exact mix of Ashlee Simpson and Pete Wentz that it's distracting.  Right??)

And—awww!—my cat is curled up against my hip making sweet little sighs in her sleep.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Alopecia Areata

So, one of the things I've been very busy with while I've not been writing in this blog is suffering from alopecia areata.  Which is to say my hair is falling out, and I've been spending most of my spare time trying to hide a rapidly growing bald spot and freaking out about it. My spot is now three inches in diameter,  right on the crown of my head, and is bruised-looking and achy.  I've been getting steroid injections in my scalp which has caused some stubble to re-sprout in the initial spot, but hasn't stopping the handfuls of hair that keep coming out every time I shower.  My bathroom sink actually got clogged from all the extra hairs getting washed down it.  It's all so upsetting I can't even tell you!

Fairest of Them AllOf course, at times like this, I turn to YA lit. Fairest of Them All, by Jan Blazanin is a problem novel about exactly this issue.  Except that the alopecia sufferer is not a regular person like me, but a girl who has been groomed from birth to be a pageant contestant, dancer and actress; her identity and her paycheck depend on her beautiful hair.  When she loses her hair she has to figure out a whole new identity for herself, and a whole new way to relate to her stage mom.  Not as cheesy as it easily could have been, and I'm sure it will be inspiring for the average reader, but the terrifying progression of her hair loss was a real downer for me at the moment.

Because of AnyaBecause of Anya by Margaret Peterson Haddix is a book for slightly younger readers.  Anya loses all her hair, is very upset, wears a wig, gets found out, and everyone's mean to her except for Keely who stands up to the mean girls and cuts off her own hair in solidarity.  Informative.

But why can't someone write a book about a girl with a small bald spot that goes away and then everything is fine??