Friday, 30 January 2015

Need a Laugh? Check Out These YA Titles

Winter can be long...and dark...and cold.

And I've got the cure!

Grab a steaming mug of hot chocolate and your favourite lap blanket. Then curl up in the squishy chair by the window and prepare to spit your drink across the room because these titles will have you guffawing faster than the Prancercise lady video.

Firecracker by David Iserson

Not just another fish out of water scenario. Our heroine is superbly flawed, and while you cringe at her seemingly uncaring actions and comments, you'll find yourself cheering for her.

Being Astrid Krieger is absolutely all it's cracked up to be.

She lives in a rocket ship in the backyard of her parents' estate.

She was kicked out of the elite Bristol Academy and she's intent on her own special kind of revenge to whomever betrayed her.

She only loves her grandfather, an incredibly rich politician who makes his money building nuclear warheads.

It's all good until...

"We think you should go to the public school," Dad said.
This was just a horrible, mean thing to say. Just hearing the words "public school" out loud made my mouth taste like urine (which, not coincidentally, is exactly how the public school smells).

Will Astrid finally meet her match in the form of public school? Will she find out who betrayed her and got her expelled from Bristol? Is Noah, the sweet and awkward boy she just met, hiding something?

Inside the Mind of Gideon Rayburn by Sarah Miller

This is the first book in the Midvale Academy series. And is a perfect mash-up of Facts of Life meets Pretty Little Liars. 

What if you could get inside the head of the boy you love? Hear his every thought...? Know his every dream...? Listen in on his every fantasy...?

The narrator of Inside the Mind of Gideon Rayburn can, and she tells us the story of her beloved Gid, an adorably clueless boy who flukes his way into one of the fanciest New England prep schools. 

Gideon's more than a little out of his league at Midvale, especially compared to Cullen and Nicholas, his charming but morally ambiguous roommates. They terrorize Gideon as they initiate him with a bet over Gid's borderline virginity, and the feisty, sexy Molly McGarry. Gideon is torn--he wants to prove himself, but he also wants Pilar Benitez-Jones, the most beautiful girl he's ever seen.

Hooking up with Molly might be possible, but winning Pilar would be legendary. On the other hand, Gideon actually likes Molly. It's all incredibly confusing and intoxicating. And one hysterically funny girl is savoring Gideon's every thought. But who is she?

Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

A mystery of a missing woman akin to Gone Girl, but without all the murder and narcissistic sociopaths.  

This was marketed as adult fiction but the story is narrated by the teen daughter of spectacularly stuck up and eccentric, Bernadette, Bee so YA can easily claim this.

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.

Swamplandia by Karen Russell

This book could have been the love child of Charles Dickens and Neil Gaiman.

The Bigtree alligator wrestling dynasty is in decline — think Buddenbrooks set in the Florida Everglades — and Swamplandia!, their island home and gator-wrestling theme park, is swiftly being encroached upon by a sophisticated competitor known as the World of Darkness.

Ava, a resourceful but terrified twelve year old, must manage seventy gators and the vast, inscrutable landscape of her own grief. Her mother, Swamplandia!’s legendary headliner, has just died; her sister is having an affair with a ghost called the Dredgeman; her brother has secretly defected to the World of Darkness in a last-ditch effort to keep their sinking family afloat; and her father, Chief Bigtree, is AWOL.

To save her family, Ava must journey on her own to a perilous part of the swamp called the Underworld, a harrowing odyssey from which she emerges a true heroine.

Swim the Fly by Don Calame

Monty Python meets Meatballs.

The humour is crass, but spot on for teen boys. Great pick for reluctant readers. You'll want to check out the other two books in this series, Beat the Band and Call the Shots.

Fifteen-year-old Matt Gratton and his two best friends, Coop and Sean, always set themselves a summertime goal. This year's? To see a real-live naked girl for the first time — quite a challenge, given that none of the guys has the nerve to even ask a girl out on a date.

But catching a girl in the buff starts to look easy compared to Matt's other summertime aspiration: to swim the 100-yard butterfly (the hardest stroke known to God or man) as a way to impress Kelly West, the sizzling new star of the swim team.

Hey, let me know what you think. What are your favourite funny YA novels?

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

The Bachelor, Season 19, Episode 4 "Princesses, Bimbos, and Psychos"
Like the mythological weavers of fate, Chris's three sisters will be deciding which girl will be going on a very special one on one date.

What a twist! Actually, no one who ever cared about their family members would sign them up for this sh*t show.

Group Date Time!

Chris takes the girls to a lake.

*Cue the bikini shots*

Ashley I. says, "I need to find a way to break out of my shyness." Then she strips off her bikini top.

Not to be outdone, Kaitlyn, the dance instructor from Canada takes off her bottoms.


Kelsey "Guidance Counsellor" says, "This is a date for bimbos."

Doll, the whole show is for bimbos.

Chris tells the girls "I love being with the girls in their bikinis."

And guess what? They're staying the night.

The thought of camping gives Kelsey cramps. "This is a hole," she says. "I don't want to be here."

Chris BBQ's supper for the girls. He says he wants things to get started.

Translation, "I'm ready to make out with y'all."

Once the tequila is opened, Ashley S. begins to sing around the camp fire to music only she can hear. Mackenzie starts to ask the other girls if they believe in aliens.


Ashley I. puts on more make up and finds Chris. She says, "I feel like everything that comes out of my mouth is dumb." And then they make out.

Chris gives the date rose to Kaitlyn.

She tells the camera, "This is great. And I'm drunk."

Ashley I. decides Chris needs to know that she's a virgin. She slips into his tent and says, "I'm friggin' innocent. I just want to make sure you got that vibe."

Chris mumbles a few things and is still clues about her virginity.

She gives us the best quote of the night, "He can probe at that area later on if he likes."

Sister Act

Meanwhile, Chris's sisters arrive unannounced at the house.


Carly says to one sister, "Oh wow! What are you doing in Ireland."

"I live there."

Carly: "Wow. You live there!"

Jillian gets woken up by the pool. She enters with drool on her face in her tiny bikini.

All three sisters interview each girl.

Whitney, the fertility nurse did the my opinion. Carly cries as she talks about past bad loves.

The weirdest quote of the night is from Carly, "I want Chris to be like my Grandpa."

Mostly I think the sisters want to weed out the crazy girls. Unfortunately anyone who signs up for this is crazy.
Jade "Makeup Manufacturer" gets picked by Chris's sisters and it sounds like a Cinderella makeover date complete with ball gown and diamonds.

When Ashley I. gets back to the house and finds out that Jade is going on the solo date is totally pissed because she IS THE PRINCESS!!!!

Three designer freaks arrive and take Jade into a princess makeover room.

Ashley I. cries at the unfairness of it all.

Ashley I

Chris waits for Jade to arrive. When she shows up, he's like, "Who is that?"

They talk over wine. And bond over their small town upbringing. She gets the rose and they dance while watching a clip of the new Cinderella movie.

Back at the house Ashley I. puts on her own princess dress and struts around eating corn on the cob.

That's a very unprincess thing to do, Ashley.

Dirty Dancing

For the next group date all the girls have to wear wedding dresses. Jillian feels completely out of her element. They go on a private jet, drink champagne and end up at 'muck fest'. It's an obstacle course through mud. Jillian starts to smile.

The winner gets a one on one date with Chris. To be a good sport, he does the race too.

Jillian wins by a huge amount of time. She and Chris talk about family on their date and their five year plan. Jillian really has no plans, other than to hit the gym. Then she talks about weight lifting. And talks, and talks...and talks. Drops a few f bombs. Drinks more. Talks more.


Chris gives us the third quote of the episode. He says, "As her words drift over my head I start to think about unicorns and fairies. It's quite nice."

She does NOT get the date rose!

*cue the sad piano music*

It's time for the cocktail party!

A few of the girls are obviously worried.

Megan blindfolds Chris and feeds him chocolate dipped fruit. He has to use his three senses. She can't name all five senses.

Ashley I. tells everyone AGAIN that she's a virgin. She takes Chris aside and quizzes him about their 'tent conversation'.

He's like, " was intriguing."

Translation. "I have no idea what the hell you were saying."

Then she tells him. "Yeah, I'm a virgin."

Translation. "Want to rub my belly ring and make another wish?"

Then she starts to cry to the camera because he didn't kiss her.

Then Becca says, "Oh yeah, well I'm a virgin too. It's just a choice I made."

When Britt gets Chris alone she tells him she's concerned because he's making out with other girls and she's confused as to what he wants in a wife.

Chris says, "'m glad we had this conversation. I'm going to handle this like a man."

Yup. By walking out of the room.

It's time for the rose ceremony...and tears!

Whitney gets the first rose. Followed by Carly and Megan. Britt gets the last rose.

Oh no! Ashley S. is going home. So is Juelia.


Juelia says, "I just want someone to share my precious baby with."

Dear Juelia, go share your love with your precious baby.

Who was tonight's MVP?

#1. Kaitlyn

#2. Kelsey

#3. Britt

Leave your vote in the comment section.

Check out my other recaps here!

Thursday, 22 January 2015

What Every Writer Needs to Read
We all need a reminder now and again. Happy writing!

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

The Bachelor, Season 19, Episode 3 "Kissing, Crying, and Costco"

Jimmy Kimmel pays Chris Soules an early morning visit in his Bachelor pad. He says, "I'm here to help you."

Jimmy is a slim dude. He greets the girls and lets them know that each time someone says the word 'amazing' they have to pay a dollar to the 'amazing' jar fund.

Let's here it for adjectives!

Kaitlyn, the dance instructor from Canada, is on a private date with Chris that Jimmy has arranged. They arrive via limo at Costco and are given a list to work with. It includes things such as, 'enough Ketchup to fill the hot tub', plus they have to make supper for him.

Chris and Kaitlyn end up in an inflatable hamster ball and roll down the aisle. Chris says, "Kaitlyn is a real classy girl and a lot of fun."

Back at Chris' place they start to make dinner. She tells him, "You have a little girl laugh." Then they make out.

Jimmy shows up and asks, "Where are the steaks?" Then he slips in a question about the Fantasy Suite.

Kaitlyn says, "I wouldn't be mad if Chris spent time with other girls because you have to test drive the car before you buy it."

Jimmy says, "You gotta love Canadians. It doesn't get much better than this."

So far, Jimmy and Kaitlyn are hitting it off, laughing and holding hands. Chris watches and eats his steak. He says 'amazing' twice in once sentence.

Kaitlyn gets the rose and they make out in the hot tub while Jimmy Kimmel watches while eating BBQ chicken wings.

For the group date, Jimmy takes the girls to a petting zoo or something. It's some kind of farming chore obstacle course, including gathering eggs, milking goats, shoveling manure and wrestling greased pigs.

Hmm...where have I seen this before?

Jillian, the 'news director' is wearing her short, short baby shorts and t-shirt that says 'stay classy'. She's going to crush everything with her hulk muscles.

Jillian permanently has a black square over her butt to hide her cheeks.

Carly the cruise ship singer wins the obstacle course and gets ... a photo shoot with Chris.

Later, at the group dinner mainly composed of booze and pillows, Carly takes Chris aside and says, "You're a man and I'm a woman who's going to take advantage." And they make out.


Mackenzie 'dental assistant' gets him alone and instead of kissing him she asks, "Hey, remember when we kissed? Why are you kissing everyone else? I'm just curious."


Becca, 'Chiropractor's Assistant' takes a unique approach to actually talk to Chris. Becca then tells him she wants to kiss him, but she wants to take it slow like a normal date.

Nothin' normal about this, girl.

Chris says 'amazing' a few more times. Becca gets the date rose.

Carly says being roseless feels so bad.

At least she didn't say 'amazingless'.


Whitney, the fertility nurse' gets asked for the second solo date. Over a picnic of wine, Chris tells her he likes a woman who can chat up a stranger. She tells him she makes a lot of friends at the airport.

In another part of the park a wedding is going on. Whitney comes up with the idea to crash the party. He's totally in to it.

Oh dear God.

They change, have a few more bottles of wine, and slip into the wedding with a camera crew ... yup, flawless plan.

Chris stumbles with his words a few times, but Whitney has the ability to converse with random people so they didn't get kicked out.

They dance, they drink, they say amazing and they make out. She gets the date rose.

Anyone notice the cameras lurking in the trees?

Instead of the last chance cocktail party it's time for the last chance pool party!

The girls looked shocked when they only had an hour to put on their bikinis.

Ashely I. says, "I was looking forward to doing my Kardashian look, now I have to just look like ... ugh."

Juelia is worried about telling Chris about her late husband's suicide in the pool party setting. However, he's very understanding, and listens to the story, quietly nodding ... or maybe he's just distracted with her hippy headband.
I confess, I hit the fast forward button a few times. Still, I have no regrets.

Jade, the cosmetic consultant, asks for a tour of his place. They slip away and talk on a couch covered with pillows. They cuddle, they make out.


Meanwhile, Jillian and her black square make their way to his hot tub. The other girls soon perch on the wall, craning their necks like lizards spying on the couple. Then slowly, they arrive and move into
the hot tub. The booze is flowing freely. And soon, so are the tears.

Ashley I. throws down her drink. She cries to Chris later.

This is an amazing pool party so far, huh Chris?

Then she gives him a big sloppy drunken, kiss. She tells the camera later, "I feel really good now."

Now it's time for the rose ceremony!

Jade gets the first rose. Followed by Juelia, Mackenzie, a few more (including my favourite, Ashley S). The last rose goes to Ashely I. and her belly ring.

As one of the roseless, Amber 'Bartender' says, "There must be someone out there who wants to be with me?"

There is, Amber, but you won't find them on TV. Good luck, your turn will come.

Who was tonight's MVP? Vote in the comment section!

#1. Jimmy Kimmel

#2. Whitney

#3. The black square over Jillian's butt

Check out my other Bachelor recaps here!

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Twelve Awesome Ways to Reuse Old Books

#1. A book purse! Come on, we all need one. Check out the instructions and YouTube video here.

#2. A new headboard! Perfect for all you librocubicularists. Here's the How To.

#3. Your own custom made docking station! Aren't you clever!

#4. A bookmark. A good pick for the lesser crafty of the bunch. Simple, yet foolproof.

#5. A real book cover for your kindle or nook or ipad.

#6. A book lamp to read by ;).

#7. A book shelf! Get it? A shelf made with books ... never mind.


#8. Make a secret compartment in a hollowed out book to stash all your treasures and diabolical plans. Mwahahaha!

#9. Create some art for your walls. She also include instructions on how to cover a lamp shade!

#10. Time to create some black out art. Newspapers are great for this.

#11. Make your own unique pendant from your favourite passage. Michael's craft store sells the kits.

#12. Candles! Glue pages to the inside of Dollar Store votive holders and place an electric tea light inside.

What ideas do you have for reusing old books? 

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

The Bachelor, Season 19, Episode 2 "Multiple Flings, Seeing Things and Belly Rings"

Let the insanity begin!

Let's meet the guy who can't meet girls in his own home town ...
Chris Soules was one of the final three men from last season's The Bachelorette. So he should know better than to sign up again.

The 33-year-old Midwestern farmer and self-proclaimed romantic doesn't want to settle for "good" he wants "great."

I feel the same way about pie.

 At the beginning of the second episode one of the girls who didn't get a rose re-entered the party and pulled Chris aside.

Kimberly 'Yoga Instructor' says, "I can't leave without looking you in the eye ... and talking with you ... or walking away from this without talking to you."

Well, that amazing speech granted her a second chance.

The girls are so NOT excited. But they all give her hugs ... hate hugs.

The host lets them know Chris is living just down the street and then he mentions "There are no rules."

There's also no shortage of booze.

The first group date contains a bunch of girls plus Kimberly. The date card says, "Show me your country."

Ashley I. 'Freelance Journalist' says "I'm more Kardashian than Country."

Ashely I
So ... a pool party breaks out.

Is that what he meant by show me your country?

While the group date is going on, Megan 'Make-up Artist' and some other chick break into Chris' place and sees he has a motorcycle. Megan puts on the helmet and begins head bunting stuff. Like the brick wall, the fridge, the wall ... again.
Meanwhile, Chris takes the group date girls on a walk down the street in their bikinis.

*Rings bell of shame* This is a new low on The Bachelor. I can't imagine it will get worse.

He leads them to tractors, lined up on the street, which of course they'll race in their bikinis and cowboys boots.

*Rings bell of shame* I stand corrected.

FYI, tractors don't go very fast.

Ashley I. 'Freelance Journalist' wins the race and alone time with Chris.

He says, "It's tough dating six girls at once, but I'd like to end the group date with one girl."

He chooses Mackenzie 'Dental Assistant' for the rest of the date.


The girls left behind talk about how sweet Chris is being. Tara 'Sport Fishing Enthusiast' leaves us with these words, "This sucks."


During the diner date, MacKenzie keeps the conversation going with these gems. "I'm really observant to weird stuff. I like big noses." And then she drops this. "Do you believe in aliens?"

How could someone unstable be part of this show?

Then MacKenzie tells Chris that she has a son. He says, "I admire that. You're such a tough girl."

Translation. "You don't have a chance, but I'm keeping you around because you're crazy and the producers want you to stay."

Megan 'Make-Up Artist' gets the first solo date, but she thought it was a love note.


Maybe she should have kept the helmet on.

She says, "I wish everyone could feel my insides right now."

They take a private jet...and then they take a private helicopter over the Grand Canyon. While drinking champagne, Megan tells Chris the day her dad passed away right before she left for this show.

Chris' thoughts. "Can I just go on a date with a chick and have a normal conversation?"

Not on this show, dude.

Then he says. "This is the perfect date, with the perfect person." She gets the rose. They kiss.

The next group date includes a trip to Zombie Land.

What the hell is wrong with these guys? Have they never been on dates before? This is almost as bad as Sean's goat milking obstacle course.

So the girls get outfitted with paint ball gear or something and have to fend off the zombies. There's a lot of screaming.

I'm surprised he didn't make them wear their bikinis.

Ashley S. Hair Stylist' kind of loses her mind a bit. She thinks she can see angels in the candles and then wanders off several times.

Ashley S

I think she forgot her medication ... or has taken too much.


Back at the home for wayward girls, Jordan 'Student' keeps everyone entertained by drinking and saying stupid things.

Kaitlyn 'Dance Instructor' from Canada gets some solo time with Chris on the group date.


He says, "She's smart and funny and what the hell is she doing here?"

No kidding, man. How did this normal one slip through?


Britt 'Waitress' says, "Chris makes me feel like he's treating me more special than any other girl here."

Actually, he's kissing everyone, Britt. Sorry.

Kaitlyn gets the date rose. Sorry, Britt.

And now it's time for the Last Chance Cocktail Party.

Ashely I. tells MacKenzie that she's a virgin. MacKenzie says, "Oh my God! Guys love that!"

Ashely I. says, "I want to rise to the top." Then she shows Chris her belly ring that's shaped like Aladdin's lamp. He has to rub her lamp for his wish to come true. He makes a wish and they make out.

*Rings bell of shame*

Britt starts to cry because she just realized all of the girls she's living with have the same boyfriend.

Jordan 'Student' is drunk again ... or maybe she's never sobered up from the first night. Who knows?


Britt gets the first rose. Then Ashley I. More girls I don't even remember seeing before. Ashely S and all her personalities gets the last rose.

And the producers cheer!

Sadly we say goodbye to Jordan. She was a lot of fun to watch. Kimberly the Yoga Instructor is going home, for reals this time. She tells us, "I don't know what was wrong the first time so I couldn't fix it."

Girl, nothing is broken. Go home, wash your face and things will be okay.  

Tara 'Sport Fishing Enthusiast' is in tears. "I'll never be anyone's number one. I get a lot of rejection. this sucks." And then we hear the girls inside cheer. "What's wrong with me? What needs to be fixed?"

Girl, nothing is broken. Go home, wash your face and things will be okay. And what kind of occupation is 'Sport Fishing Enthusiast?'

Who was tonight's MVP?

#1. Ashely I.

#2. Ashely S.

#3. Tara

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