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A cold, drizzly October day calls for one thing – a pan of brownies.  Okay, two things – a pan of brownies and a few cups of coffee (or tea).  After adding a bajillion new books to my Goodreads to-read list, I set about making these Chocolate Zucchini Brownies.  I’ve been craving chocolate (when don’t I crave chocolate?) and it’s getting a bit chilly for ice cream, and lately I’ve eaten more than my fair share of chocolate chips straight from the bag.  So brownies it is.  I haven’t cut into them yet – any minute now – but I’m looking forward to it.

One of my favorite things about living here is that the mail carrier goes down the other side of the street first, so if I see the truck go past, I know I have a few minutes to finish up a letter, find that DVD that needs to go back, dig out the stamps, find my shoes, etc. and still get it into the box in time.  This is the life, I tell you.

I’m about to start listening to the new Kate Atkinson – whee!  And I have a pile of YA books that are calling my name.  Plus all those picture books to review.  It’s like a book orgy around here.

I’ve (inadvertantly, but this is what happens when you read a lot of YA) been reading a bunch of stories dealing with high school life lately.

First was Looks, which falls into the brutally honest category of high school fiction.
Looks Looks by Madeleine George

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is one of those books that takes a good hard look at what it’s like to be in high school. Although the story focuses on two girls at extreme ends of the weight spectrum, with the perspective shifting between them, it really captures all those timeless struggles of the high school student. Although eating disorders obviously play a role in the story, it never feels like an after school special, and the focus is not on whether the girls will change their eating habits, but on whether they will figure out how to be friends. Finely written and a quick read.

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I also listened to The Truth About Forever, set during summer vacation but with school issues as part of the story.
The Truth About Forever The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
A very enjoyable example of a realistic teen novel – probably with a girl audience. It’s realistic without being too gritty – you know things will work out well in the end, even though there’s a little heartbreak along the way. Macy is recovering – or not recovering – from her father’s sudden death a year before. It’s not until she makes a new group of friends through a summer job that she realizes how much she’s restricted herself in an attempt to try to be what her mother wants. The developing friendships with her coworkers are at the heart of the story – including, of course, a developing romance. But Macy and her sister also work through some things with their workaholic mother, and with how they will remember their father. Part funny, part sweet, this is an engrossing but not too challenging read. Probably appropriate for middle school up. There’s some drinking at parties, but the romance is positively chaste.

Finally, I’m listening to How I Paid for College by Marc Acito – which falls more into the slightly hysterical and absurd category of high school stories.  The deadpan delivery is great, but although the characters are often immature, this one is the most, um, “mature” in content.

End result?  As always, I’m glad high school is long gone.  I can muster a bit more nostalgia for my undergrad days, but I don’t see as many books about college as I do about HS.  Hmm…

October 2008

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