Archive | November, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: 2013 is almost here

27 Nov

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature created at the fabulous The Broke and the Bookish, featuring weekly top ten lists on a variety of bookish topics. This Tuesday’s topic is Top Ten 2013 Releases We are Most Excited For. Just over one month to go before we ring in 2013! Are you ready?!

2013 Series Books We're Excited For


Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans and Crash by Lisa McMann: These two series starters sound especially promising. I’ve been enjoying reading Lenore’s blog since I started Love YA Lit back in 2010 and have heard nothing but fabulous reviews so far for her debut novel. Lisa McMann’s new series sounds intriguing and I enjoy her other work.

Game by Barry Lyga and Scarlet by Marissa Meyer: These two follow-ups to two of my absolute favorite reads of 2012 are at the top of my 2013 Must Read list. If you haven’t read I Hunt Killers and Cinder yet, get on that!

untitled book #3 in the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth: I’m not alone on this one, right? I know my radio kids are dying to read the final installment in the Divergent trilogy. They only talk about it EVERY SINGLE SHOW! (I’m exaggerating, but only slightly.)

2013 Stand Alones We're Most Excited For

THE STAND-ALONES (at least that’s what I’ve been lead to believe)

This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith and Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell: These are the two contemporary romances on my list. While this isn’t really my genre, I have high hopes for Smith’s 2013 release, having loved her 2012 release The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. And my buddy Capillya over at That Cover Girl, claimed that Eleanor & Park broke her heart and I’m always in the mood for a little literary heartbreaking (that’s normal right?).

When We Wake by Karen Healey: “Be the change you wish to see in the world” – even if you’re cryogenically frozen and wake up in a world 100-years different than the one you last knew. That’s what I get from the description of When We Wake and I couldn’t be more excited!

Odd Duck by Sara Varon and Cecil Castellucci: Sara Varon is a favorite and I’m excited to see her teamed up with Castellucci. This one is bound to be cute.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman: Ok, so this last one is not so YA, but who cares; It’s Neil Gaiman and it sounds fabulous.

Five Flavors of Dumb

12 Nov

Five Flavors of Dumb cover

Piper has found herself with quite the challenge: get a paying gig for Dumb, the hottest rock band at school, within a month. If she manages to succeed, she’ll be their official manager and make money alongside them. And since her parents spent her college fund getting her sister a cochlear implant, she could really use the money. Trouble is, the group is disjointed and bordering on self-destruction. To top it all off, Piper has no idea if they sound any good, because she’s deaf.

I watched Josh strutting, Ed practicing, Kallie hiding, Will spacing, and Tash gazing at Will, and realized that Baz was right. This wasn’t a group at all. There was no togetherness, no blending – just five separate flavors of an indigestible dish called Dumb. (p. 100)

One of my tween radio co-hosts has a favorite question that she loves to ask when we’re talking about books: who is your favorite character? With Five Flavors of Dumb, my favorite characters are the girls involved with the band (Piper, Tash, and Kallie). Piper is smart, resourceful, and strong-willed. I respect how much she embraces deaf culture, while still participating in and succeeding in the hearing world. Tash is the tough rocker girl with green hair and a secret crush. She’s not immediately likable, but she grew on me, and often those are the kinds of characters I enjoy the most. Kallie is the pretty, popular girl who is recruited as the 5th member of the band solely because the egomaniacal lead singer, Josh, wants to get with her. While she isn’t the most talented guitarist, she still manages to become a fan favorite. She works hard and takes chances and eventually becomes a valuable member of the band.

What I appreciated the most about Five Flavors of Dumb is that while deaf culture is an incredibly important and rich part of Piper’s life – her grandparents were also deaf, her best friend is deaf, sign language is her preferred mode of communication, her dream is to go to Gallaudet University – this novel isn’t a problem novel about a deaf girl overcoming her disability. In fact, her deafness doesn’t pose much of a barrier for her at all. She even uses her deafness to her advantage at times. Piper may not know what Dumb sounds like, but that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t know how to manage a band. While she does make some strange choices – like convincing the band to write a soft rock ballad to perform for a lite-FM-style television studio audience – she manages to get the band gigs, fans, and video views. Her biggest challenge isn’t being deaf and working in the music industry. Her biggest challenge is building a team and keeping them focused on their goals.

Piper’s family life adds an interesting aspect to the story as well. Her parents have used her college fund to get a cochlear implant for her baby sister, Grace, who was born deaf. This is complicated for a number of reasons, including that her deaf grandparents who set up the college fund would not have wanted their money to go towards the cochlear implant. Piper lost her hearing when she was six and was not a strong candidate for the implant. She is able to speak and read lips, but sign language is her preferred method of communication. Her mother was raised by deaf parents and is fluent in sign, but Piper’s father relies on her ability to speak and read lips for communication. The resentment she feels towards him for not learning sign language is exacerbated by her feelings regarding Grace’s newfound hearing and the loss of her college fund.

Though there are some rocky moments along the way, this is a feel good book in the end, with lots of closure and hope and rocking out. While the ending was a bit predictable, I didn’t mind knowing where it was headed and it didn’t hurt the momentum or the moments of resolution along the way.

Em’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Author: Antony John
Publisher: Dial Books (2010)

Extra credit: Check out this youth produced video about the cochlear implant from our friends out in Salt Lake City – Spy Hop Productions (whoop whoop!). I first saw this film back in 2006 and it was my first introduction to the controversy surrounding this device.

Touching Sound from Spy Hop Productions on Vimeo.

If you have Netflix, you can also check out the 2000 feature length documentary film, Sound and Fury, by Josh Aronson.


8 Nov

Superstar recently became available on Netflix Watch Instantly. If you have never seen it, please, do yourself the favor of watching one of the most hilarious films in the Saturday Night Live canon.

Molly Shannon is at her comic best channeling the spirit of 16-year-old catholic schoolgirl Mary Catherine Gallagher – one of the most memorable characters from her six seasons on SNL. Will Ferrell co-stars as Sky Corrigan, the coolest guy in school and Mary’s crush.  Of course Sky is an amazing dancer and Ferrell’s goofball sincerity is charming as usual as he pantomimes through a diversity of dance moves throughout the film. He also shows up as God. Ferrell and Shannon came into SNL together, in the mid-90’s resurgence, and their pairings are some of my favorites.

Emmy and Molly are Superstars
The film is also full of more subtle comedic moments which come from the periphery characters created by a solid ensemble of talented players: Kids in the Hall alum Mark McKinney as Father Ritley, Mary’s exasperated headmaster, the magical Glynis Johns as Mary’s Grandmother and another SNL alum, Harlan Williams, cameos as a dark and mysterious stranger.  My favorite is Emmy Laybourne as Mary’s overzealous best friend, Helen.

Of course I love this movie because it’s really a teen film – a unique and hilarious teen film. Superstar is a romp through the perils of adolescence with enough camp to make it ridiculous but not unbelievable.  Like most young girls in America, Mary dreams of being a “Superstar!” (You know the move). She is exploring her identity and bursting to express herself but does so in awkward and clumsy ways. Her Grandmother has stifled her dreams by forbidding her to perform and insisting she become a businesswomen. At school she is bullied and tormented by mean cheerleaders (Elaine Hendrix is vicious as the queen bee, Evian). Pretty typical adolescence.

But, like many of Shannon’s other characters, Mary prevails. She is a woman who knows what she wants. She holds her own and stands up for herself. She remains true to herself. She continues to fight for her dream. And it’s all pretty freaking funny.

Cross posted at our sister site, pop!goesalicia.