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YA Book Review: The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You

Let me preface this by saying this YA romance is not my usual fare.  This kind of book tends to remind me of the absolutely god-awful books available for teens during the 80s, and I try to steer clear of them. I have never been a fan of a romance novel for any age.  They seem rather plot-less, mindless, and well, full of drivel.

worse than me cover

Then I have to tell you that I Loved Loved Loved this book.  A bunch of really smart girls who attend a school for nerds, love comic books, and are such great characters they don’t have to have anything supernatural happen to them in order to be interesting?

Oh Yeah.  I’m in.

And it turns out this book is far from plot-less.  I would be lying if I said I couldn’t wait to see what Trixie and her friends got up to next, or if I didn’t admit that I really didn’t want this book to end.  The main story was about Trixie’s hate-love relationship with her lifelong nemesis, Ben West.  I say hate-love because they have hated each other since they first met (in the first grade) in a kind of Elizabeth-Mr. Darcy Pride and Prejudice kind of way.  Their favorite pastime is matching wits with each other, and their friends worry that someone will end up taking skin in one of their daily battles.  Then Trixie gets left behind in the haunted house at the school’s Harvest Festival and has to ask a masked clown to help her out.  The clown is gallant and sweet and leads her away from the horrors with gentlemanly grace, and Trixie spends days fantasizing about who was behind the mask and whether he would make–gulp–boyfriend material.  Imagine her humiliation when the clown turns out to be Ben West.

But that’s not the only thing going on here.  A slew of seniors in this school for the intellectually gifted have been tagged for cheating and student rankings are running amok as the cheaters get pulled out of the running.  As the number of alleged cheaters grows, Trixie and her friends begin to wonder if cheating really is happening or if something more sinister is going on.  Remember when I said I usually figure out the mystery pretty quickly?  One of the reasons this book rocked is that the characters distracted me so well I forgot to try to figure it out.  I wasn’t necessarily shocked at the reveal, but I didn’t figure it out myself.

My favorite part was when Trixie, a die-hard comic reader, sewed a strip of Star Wars fabric into her Winter Ball formal dress.  Love reading about a teenage girl who knows herself well enough to take that kind of risk and be completely comfortable with it.  And these characters?  Anyone who is or has ever been a teenager will totally relate to them.  Especially anyone who has ever been proud to know all the characters of Tolkien’s trilogy, all the actors who ever played Dr. Who, or one of the languages introduced by Star Wars.

Yeah yeah.  Be a geek and be damn proud of it.

And it doesn’t hurt to suddenly realize there is someone in the world who completely gets you and fall madly in love.

That’s the stuff.

Love wins,


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Reading in the Rain

I woke up to the pattering of rain against my roof and windows.  It’s funny, during winter you kind of dread that sound.  It could be ice.  It could become snow.  It will definitely be cold.  But with warm weather seeming determined to stick around, the sound was soothing and welcome.  Our lives are just as affected by the seasons now as they were thousands of years ago when our ancestors worshiped the sun and planned their year around the turning of the seasons.  Go outside today and remember that.   It’ll make you feel more connected.

reading in the rain books

Still, no matter the season, rain is important to us, and mostly we’d rather have it than not.  Because gardens.  And water supplies.  There’s a lot your littles can learn from and about rain, and there are, of course, books you can read with them to help them learn.  And there’s nothing like a cuddly, rainy day on the couch exploring the pages of a few good books.


waiting out the storm

This poetic masterpiece is a gentle question-and-answer book about what happens during a storm, including where different animals go.  You can’t get much cuddlier than reading this book with the sound of rain plonking in the background.  This book is not only excellent for making a child feel safe while explaining storms to them, the format also helps littles make their own observations about what is going on outside.  The illustrations are downright gorgeous, too.  The little girl asks what the turtles, chipmunks, and birds do during a storm, providing you with a few options if you want to do a craft to go with the book.  In fact, there’s a simple paper plate turtle craft at Glued to My Crafts that I think you’ll enjoy and won’t take too much work on your part.

the storm book

This book.  Wow.  I have to warn you, it is wordy for a picture book.  But oh, these words.  From the hazy heat of a summer day to the first crack of lightning to the rainbow following the storm, this book is such a great intro to description your little will swoon.  Take your time.  Read it slowly.  Enjoy the lyrical description of a thunderstorm and how it affects several people.  Then make a thunderstorm of your own from construction paper and ribbon, like this:

thunderstorm craft

Pretty self-explanatory–jut cut out some cloud and lightning shapes, let your littles glue them together however they want, and tape some curly ribbon to the back so it looks like falling rain.  Yeah yeah.

listen to the rainIf you’re looking for sparer text and beautifully painted pictures, look no further.  This book is full of onomatopoeia, and could be a great way to get into a discussion about figurative language.  Also, it just plain sounds pretty.  If you’re looking activities to go with it, check out my post 11 Awesome Activities to Do in the Rain.

water danceFinally, my favorite.  More onomatopoeia.  Told from the first person, this book goes through the water cycle as if the water were tell you its story.  But you can just look at the cover and see how lush and breath-taking the illustrations are.  And this one provides many options for activities.  Set up an evaporation experiment.  Create a cloud in a bottle.  Break out your watercolors and paint the storm taking place around you.


nat geo stormsI love these Nat Geo books, because they give simple introductions to their topics.  This one is meant for younger readers, but it can be a great starting place or refresher course for any age.  Plus, the pictures are really amazing.

who likes the rainThis book is a flap book that answers some pretty amazing questions, like what raindrops really look like, why rain makes the air smell different, and why gardens need water.  Plus, kids love flap books.  All of them do.  It’s something about the hidden knowledge, I think.  So don’t think this is only for preschoolers, because even though you know I Shudder at the thought of reading levels, the book claims to be for up to second graders.  Which means anyone can read it.  Anyone at all.  Just like any other book.

everything kids weather bookFavorite.  This book has everything in it.  Plus, puzzles and ideas for scientific activities.  Um, win.  I wouldn’t even bother with a library copy.  This one’s an owner.

It’s pretty easy to turn a rainy day into a cozy, fun-filled one if you have the right tools.  And you know the Lit Mama, the toolbox always includes books.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go cuddle 2 sweet and beautiful boys and get them to make some crafts with me.

Love wins,



YA Book Review: Frayed

frayed kara terzis

Frayed was an interesting read.  Will it ever make my top 100?  Probably not.  Nevertheless, it is very well-written with intriguing characters and a super-interesting plot.

In this unique mystery novel, Ava’s big sister was murdered a month ago.  And the police aren’t getting any closer to solving the crime.  Ava has her own suspicions, but as she learns more and more about the sister she thought she knew so well, she realizes a couple of things: 1) she didn’t know her pretty, bright, popular big sister At All and 2) the people she thought she should suspect of murder are the last people who would ever hurt Kesley.

One of the reasons I’m not big on reading mystery novels is that I have That Kind of Brain.  You know, the one that figures out the ending within 20 pages of a book and 10 minutes of the movie?  Drives my family nuts.  For about 2 seconds I almost convinced myself that Frayed was mysterious enough to have misled me, but the truth is I knew exactly what was going on the whole time.  Does that mean you or your littles will?  Not necessarily. As I said, the book was quite well-written.  I read it in 2 days, so it must have been interesting, right?  Ava is a credible main character for the most part.  My only beef is that in order to keep the secrets from being revealed too soon, I felt there were some conversations and actions that didn’t quite add up with what I knew already.  It made sense in the end, and the twist (though I knew it was coming) was pretty well done and revealed at a good time.  I would definitely recommend it to a young teen new to the mystery genre because it’s an easy read with believable characters, but I’m afraid a person used to unraveling mysteries would feel like I did…

It sounds like I’m giving Frayed a bad review, but I’m not.  It’s a good book.  There could have been a little tightening of the plot here and there to plug those holes I mentioned, but all in all–I mean, I read it in 2 days.  Which means I couldn’t put it down.  Which means it was highly entertaining.

So I’m going to shut my mouth now before I talk you out of reading it.

Besides, I don’t want to give anything away.

Love wins,


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YA Book Review: The Changelings

Oh. My.  Let me preface this by saying this book isn’t coming out till September 6, but that’s in plenty of time for Christmas.  Or Hanukkah.  Or any holiday that comes after September 6.  And you can pre-order it right now.

the changlelings

Because if you have a little who is intrigued by All Things Fairy, he or she is going to Love this book.  The Changelings has all the right elements to yank a middle-grade reader in and hold her there till the very satisfying end:  an unhappy young girl, a bratty little sister, a witch, and a whole slew of fairies–some good, some bad–but all with their own kinds of problems.  The cool thing is, even though the book is written for a certain age group, it never felt false or condescending, and that kept me reading as much as the action-packed story.

Izzy Doyle is pretty miserable.  Her family just moved to a new town–for the ninth time in her eleven years.  Needless to say, she has never really had any friends.  It doesn’t help that no matter where they go, Izzy never feels like she fits in.  All she has is her book of fairy tales, a tattered and well-loved book that she loses herself in whenever she’s feeling lonely.   Everton is their last stop, her parents tell her.  They’ve inherited her grandmother’s house and they will be staying.  But the cashier at the local grocery store swears Izzy’s new next-door neighbor is a witch.  And one morning, her little sister, Hen, hears a flute in the woods.  And she follows the sound.  And Izzy finds herself on the witch’s heels in the middle of a strange forest.  She meets a boulder who turns out to be a boy.  After rescuing him from dangerous pursuers called Unglers, she follows him back to his home tree, where she meets a stoat who is also a boy and a butterfly who is a translucent girl.  The rag tag team sets off to find Hen, who has been captured by Good Peter the Piper.  The changelings are confused by this, because Peter always leaves a changeling in its place when he takes a human, but no changeling was left for Hen.

Throughout their adventure, Izzy keeps hearing about the new queen of Fairy, a queen the changelings do not trust, a queen who has been collecting changelings for years for some purpose no one understands.  The unglers are her pets, creatures that sniff out changelings and deliver them to the queen.  Good Peter, who has not been so good lately, is also working for the queen.  How in Fairy are they supposed to rescue Hen from such a powerful group of enemies?  And what will happen if they get caught?

Watching Izzy grow from a sullen child to a quick-thinking, caring individual is a lot of fun.  Perhaps even more, the world Christina Soontornvat has created from the fey is real and intriguing.  It’s been a long time since I read a book with fairies in it and wanted to finish it.  Oftentimes the whole idea is trite.  Not so with The Changlelings.  The voice reminded me a whole lot of Emily Rodda’s The Key to Rondo (and if you haven’t had the pleasure, read that one soon, too).  I love when a good writer pens a middle grade book that speaks intelligently to the age group she is targeting.  Nothing more irritating than an author talking down to her audience.  Soontornvat never does that, and that is part of what makes this gem of a novel so good.

My suggestion is, when you buy this book for your little, get a hard copy.  This one is going to be loved and probably read over and over, so give your little the tangible book to hold onto.  That’s the best kind.

Love wins,


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