Books Everywhere!

My husband and I are closing on our house in a couple weeks and the buyers have immediate access which means I’m busy packing up our house. We packed up quite a bit before we put our house on the market to help eliminate clutter. During that process I packed a very large suitcase full of books. I would include a picture of that, but it’s heavy and it’s hidden in a closet.

Today I decided that packing up the office, guest room, and all of my books would be the best place to start. I’ve posted pictures of my classroom library before, but never any pictures of my collection at home. This is mostly because my classroom library is much more organized and looks nicer ;) So today you get to see my many piles of books. The house we plan on buying has a small space at the top of the stairs that I plan on making into a library. I’ll share pictures once that happens.

What does your home library look like? I’d love to see some pictures! Tweet me pictures (@yaloveblog), share them on Instagram (sanderse), or write a blog post and link it here.

This is where most of my books are held. Can you believe this used to hold more books?!

This is where most of my books are held. Can you believe this used to hold more books?! A lot of books here are signed.

I always have books to read & review sitting on my coffee table.

I always have books to read & review sitting on my coffee table.

This used to be my "to read next" stack under my coffee table, but I never stick to that.

This used to be my “to read next” stack under my coffee table, but I never stick to that.

This is the top half of our hallway built in bookcase.

This is the top half of our hallway built in bookcase.

The bottom half has cookbooks, miscellaneous stuff, and more books to read.

The bottom half has cookbooks, miscellaneous stuff, and more books to read.

And I added some books to our guest room.

And I added some books to our guest room.

Welcome to the world, Jack William

If you regularly follow my blog or follow me on Twitter, then you most likely know that I had a baby on the way. On August 21st at 9:34 pm, Jack William Andersen made his early arrival! He was due September 9th, but he must have really wanted to meet me and his dad :) He’s the reason why I wasn’t blogging that much this year and why I haven’t blogged at all since the end of the summer. We’ve also been in the process of selling our house and buying a new one. Two major life changes happening at one time is just a wee bit stressful!

To be honest, I don’t know how much I’ll be able to keep up my blog, but I do know that I’m not abandoning it. I’m on maternity leave right now, and I think once I return to work and Jack’s not quite so new I’ll be able to blog more. We shall see!

Anyway, here are some pictures of my sweet little boy. I have some professional newborn pictures that were taken when he was about a week old and some pictures I’ve taken since then.

Pink or Blue? Either Will Do :)

I’ve been keeping a pretty big secret since the beginning of January. My husband and I are expecting our first baby! We couldn’t be more thrilled. :D As the announcement says, the baby is due September 9th. Next month we’ll be able to find out if we’re having a boy or a girl if the baby cooperates. I sure hope it does because I can’t wait to find out!

Pink or Blue

Right now I’m really grateful to be past the first trimester (although I’m grateful to have even experienced a first trimester). I had zero attention span (what was I just doing?), was extremely exhausted (taking three hour naps like they’re going out of style), and dealt with nausea in the evening and before I went to bed (such a miserable experience). I barely read any books because they either weren’t holding my attention or I couldn’t stay awake long enough to read them. Already, though, I’ve been feeling more energized and more focused. I’m hoping this will last for a while so I can get some more books read and start keeping up with my blog again.

To be honest, I don’t know what all of this means for my blog. I’m going to do my best to balance everything, but if it comes down to choosing to read a book or writing a blog post, I’m probably going to choose to read my book because that makes a greater impact in my classroom. But like I said, I’m going to do my best because this blog is important to me. Hopefully all of you will understand :)

Book Trailer Thursday (129)–Unbreakable by Kami Garcia

Book Trailer Thursday

Kami Garcia’s first solo book, Unbreakable, released on October 1st. I’m really looking forward to reading this after reading the summary and watching the trailer. It sounds like a great fall/Halloween read! Based on what I know about it, I’m thinking my Anna Dressed in Blood and The Mortal Instruments fans will be interested in reading this.

Kami Garcia/UnbreakableSummary (From Goodreads):

Supernatural meets The Da Vinci Code in this action-packed paranormal thriller, the first book in a new series from New York Times bestselling author Kami Garcia.

I never believed in ghosts. Until one tried to kill me.

When Kennedy Waters finds her mother dead, her world begins to unravel. She doesn’t know that paranormal forces in a much darker world are the ones pulling the strings. Not until identical twins Jared and Lukas Lockhart break into Kennedy’s room and destroy a dangerous spirit sent to kill her. The brothers reveal that her mother was part of an ancient secret society responsible for protecting the world from a vengeful demon — a society whose five members were all murdered on the same night.

Now Kennedy has to take her mother’s place in the Legion if she wants to uncover the truth and stay alive. Along with new Legion members Priest and Alara, the teens race to find the only weapon that might be able to destroy the demon — battling the deadly spirits he controls every step of the way.

Suspense, romance, and the paranormal meet in this chilling urban fantasy, the first book in a new series from Kami Garcia, bestselling coauthor of the Beautiful Creatures novels.

Book Trailer Thursday (86)–The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

I loved The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, so I’m super excited about the release of the sequel, The Evolution of Mara Dyer.  I would like this trailer if there was less making out and more scenes related to the conflict outside of Mara and Noah, but I’m still okay with it.  I really want to find out what Michelle Hodkin has in store for Mara, but I’ll have to wait until I get The Evolution of Mara Dyer back from a very excited student (I bought my copy on its release day and gave it to her the following day to read).

If you haven’t read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, or if you haven’t seen the trailer for that book, here’s a link.

Summary (From Goodreads):

Mara Dyer once believed she could run from her past.

She can’t.

She used to think her problems were all in her head.

They aren’t.

She couldn’t imagine that after everything she’s been through, the boy she loves would still be keeping secrets.

She’s wrong.

In this gripping sequel to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, the truth evolves and choices prove deadly. What will become of Mara Dyer next?

Ten Things You’ll Learn from Whispers at Moonrise by CC Hunter

C Hunter’s newest book in the Shadow Falls series, Whispers at Moonrise, released on October 2nd!  To help spread the excitement over this release, I’m featuring a guest post written by CC :)

Ten Things You’ll Learn from Whispers at Moonrise

  1. Kicking your boyfriend’s father’s butt might not be good for the relationship.
  2. Sometimes following your heart means breaking some rules.
  3. Getting trapped in a grave with three dead girls is not a walk in the park.
  4. Your parents breaking up sucks. Your mom having a boyfriend, and kissing him in front of you, sucks BIG TIME.
  5. When your boyfriend says one thing, but does another, what do you believe? His actions or his words?
  6. You can’t always protect the ones you love. Sometimes the only way to protect them is to tell them the truth—even if it hurts.
  7. When you are in love, you usually want to talk a lot more about your boyfriend than your girlfriends care to hear.
  8. You shouldn’t mess with magic if you don’t know what you’re doing. Especially when someone could end up sterile.
  9. Sometimes it is the little choices we make, and not the big ones, that define who we are.
  10. Be careful what you wish for or you might end up turning a bright shade of red in the boys’ bathroom.

Summary of Whispers at Moonrise (From the publisher):

 “It’s not often that I love a series as much as Shadow Falls. I find myself thinking of nothing else!  This has been one of my favorite series of all time.” –Open Book Society

Shadow Falls Camp is back in session with the most explosive installment yet.  A shocking new threat will rock Shadow Falls—changing it forever and altering Kylie’s journey in ways she never imagined.

 Even at a camp for supernatural teens, Kylie Galen has never been normal. Not only can she see ghosts, but she doesn’t seem to belong to any one species—she exhibits traits from them all. As Kylie struggles to unlock the secrets of her identity, she begins to worry that Lucas will never be able to accept her for what she is, and what she isn’t…a werewolf.  With his pack standing in their way, Kylie finds herself turning more and more to Derek, the only person in her life who’s willing to accept the impossible.

 As if life isn’t hard enough, she starts getting visits from the ghost of Holiday, her closest confidante.  Trouble is, Holiday isn’t dead…not yet anyway.  Now Kylie must race to save one of her own from an unseen danger before it’s too late—all while trying to stop her relationship with Lucas from slipping away forever.   In a world of constant confusion, there’s only one thing Kylie knows for sure.  Change is inevitable and all things must come to an end…maybe even her time at Shadow Falls.

Readership Survey

I’m taking things in a slightly different direction today, and I hope you can help me!  I’ve been blogging for almost two years now, and in that time my blog has grown quite a bit.  Next week I’ll be part of a group of bloggers who will be posting on a variety of topics related to blogging.  I decided to focus on community and accountability since that’s something that’s important to me.

My readership survey will help me construct my post, but it will also give me some important insight about my audience.  I have a pretty good feeling about who makes up my readership, but I don’t know that for sure, nor do I know which posts you find the most useful and want more of.  The survey I created is brief, but it and your responses will hopefully help me make Y.A. Love a better blog!  I truly appreciate your time and help :)  If you feel there’s something else you’d like to add that isn’t addressed in the survey, please feel free to leave it in the comments or email me.

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Grandpa Jack: A Tribute

John “Jack” Cuthill is a wonderful man.  He is my grandpa.  He passed away this evening so it doesn’t feel right saying “was.”

I didn’t grow up with grandparents living nearby.  My dad’s parents spent most of their time living in Florida, and my mom’s parents lived in Big Rapids, MI (almost 4 hours away).  Even though Grandpa Jack lived hours away in Big Rapids, it never really felt like he lived that far away.  He and my grandma, when she was alive, visited us often.  I think my grandpa visited us even more after my grandma passed.  We made many trips to visit Grandpa Jack and Grandma Rosemary.  In fact, my brother and I referred to our visits as going on vacation because it was always so much fun.  My grandparents would have the best snacks for us and usually some kind of small gift waiting.  My brother and I are extremely fortunate to have grandparents that cared so much for us.

The minister has asked that the grandchildren write down some memories to be read during the funeral which prompted this blog post (I’m currently wishing I was a better writer).  So many of my memories seem random, but they’re important to me.  For instance, when I was little I had an assignment that required me to interview one of my grandparents.  I know it had something to do with family history, but I remember vividly him telling me about my great grandparents growing up in Scotland.  At some point in high school I was upset about a boy and he told me that sometimes games are played in relationships and to avoid those games.  Every time he visited us he’d bring a box of doughnuts because we are a family of sweet-tooths.  When I’m at a Coney Island and I see someone eating a chili dog I think of Grandpa Jack ordering two chili dogs and a glass of milk.  For years when I was little we were pen pals.  I can picture his scratchy handwriting perfectly.  I don’t have any of those letters, but I have his more recent cards and notes stored away.  He gave me his wedding cake topper, which my mom dolled up a bit, to use on my wedding cake.  The Detroit Tigers and golf games on TV.  Goofy baseball hats and pastel yellow shirts or dress pants.  The smell of traditional Neutrogena soap (the orange kind).  White Ford Tauruses and Intrepids (he always bought these).  Keeping the windows up while driving so his hair wouldn’t get messed up (he didn’t exactly have a full head of hair so this always baffled me).  These are some random things that remind me of my grandpa.

When I think about Grandpa Jack, I think about how much he loves me and how proud of me he is.  My brother John and I both made him proud when we swam in high school because my grandma was a swimmer when she was young.  Almost every time he told me he’s proud of me, he included how proud my grandma is as well even though she passed away over 20 years ago.  It made him proud that I chose Rose as my confirmation name; he sent me a large arrangement of flowers which included roses.  When Keith and I got married the card he gave us was signed love “Grandpa Jack and Grandma Rosemary.” Grandpa’s never stopped loving her.  He’s been to almost all of my big events: First Communion, Confirmation, high school and college graduation, my wedding and more.  He’s always at our holiday parties drinking a Manhattan, a glass of wine, or some kind of cocktail while snacking on sweets.  I’m incredibly thankful that my grandpa was such a big part of my life.  It’s hard to believe that he won’t be here to meet my future children, especially knowing that those plans are so near in the future.

Recently he’s been suffering from a bad hip, knee and back so he hasn’t felt safe making the drive to visit us.  I unfortunately haven’t seen him as much as a consequence.  Grandpa’s been really depressed because of his hip, knee and back so I made a point of calling him to tell him about school and my blog.  My mom’s been keeping him in the loop as well, so whenever we’d talk he wanted to know about the authors I’m talking to and working with.  He and my grandma loved reading and books, so he’s been incredibly proud of what I’m doing in my classroom.  Grandpa was really down this past summer, but he brightened up so much when I called him after going to Lisa McMann’s for dinner.  He loved hearing that story.  I went to visit him when he was first in the hospital with a horrible case of pneumonia and using a vent to breathe.  Grandpa really wanted to talk to me, but he had to write things out instead.  Even in his condition he wrote down one word so I could give him some updates: Authors?  When my book club was holding a bake sale to raise money for our library, I called to tell him about it.  He loved it and sent us a donation.  He was so excited when I called him after winning my district’s Teacher of the Year award.  He sent me a card right away with some money to buy more books for my classroom.  My school’s community has a small newspaper and I was featured when I won my award.  He hasn’t been able to see it, so I remembered to bring it with me yesterday when I went to visit him for the last time in the hospital.  He’s been on a vent for the past month, but lately he’s been using a trach, and even though speaking wore him out, he was able to tell me he loves me and is proud of me.  Grandpa Jack has been one of my biggest fans my entire life; there’s no one else I’d rather have in my corner.

It’s not easy knowing that my grandpa is no longer with us, but I’m comforted knowing that he’s no longer unhappy and suffering.  He’s with my grandma once again, and I know deep in my heart that both of them will always watch over my family.

Plate = Full

I don’t typically get very personal on my blog, unless it’s something important about teaching or the like.  I’ve been debating about this post, but I feel like I need to write it.  This blog is for my students and me, but I still think about my readers.  I’m writing this post because I feel like I need to explain my shortage of reviews and posts in general.

There are two primary reasons for my sluggish blogging.  One of the reasons is work.  The school I teach at is set up in trimesters, and this current trimester which started after Thanksgiving, is all new curriculum.  We’ve taught three new units, most of which we’ve been working on as we go.  As you can imagine, it’s been tough.  I love the three units we’ve taught because they’ve been engaging, fresh, and have really improved our students’ writing.  Plus, we taught Of Mice and Men and The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner.  I was excited to teach TPoG because I love Gae’s book, and also because I created the teaching guide for Gae.  Right now my classes are finishing their memoir unit which has been fun, but it needs tweaking.  I’m overwhelmed at the moment because we assigned compare/contrast essays for OM&M and TPoG which the kids wrote, turned in, and then we handed back with comments and collected again to grade again.  Phew!  Those took a while to get through, but my kids really improved the second time around.  Right after I finished grading those I collected their memoirs.  I have 90 freshmen right now.  I have 90 memoirs to grade.  The trimester ends on Tuesday.  I’ll have final exams to grade.  Plus, I have my Young Adult Lit class to think about as well.  I still have book reviews and responses to grade, plus their final projects.  Yep, I’m feeling the pressure.

I don’t want anyone to think that I’m looking for sympathy because I’m an English teacher, and I know this is part of the job.  I always feel the push to get the grading done in a timely manner.  The difference right now is that I’ve been an active blogger for a year and a half which adds to the balancing act.  It’s tough keeping up with the reading, writing my reviews, commenting on other blogs, staying active on Twitter, and doing my actual job.  But I love all of it, so I continue everything.  Blogging has become a fantastic hobby and way of connecting with wonderful people.  Twitter is often a place of sanity for me when I feel the way I do right now.  I’m not giving any of this up.

My biggest hurdle is health problems.  For almost four years now I’ve been feeling off and incredibly lethargic and simply not myself.  I went to the doctor about it when I started noticing it because my mom, who has hypothyroidism, wanted me to get it checked out.  My doctor told me that my thyroid levels were low, but not low enough to do anything about it.  This was in 2008 or 2009, months before my wedding.  She told me that I’m probably just stressed and we’ll check it again in six months.  Six months later we check it again and it still wasn’t “bad enough,” yet I still felt horrible.  Anyway, after about a year and a half after my wedding my levels were finally bad enough that they put me on medicine.  The problem is that I still wasn’t feeling normal, was still having the same hypothyroid issues.  I went to a specialist this past fall and found out that I actually have Hashimoto’s Disease which causes hypothyroidism.

Now this isn’t a big scary deal or anything like that, but it affects me on a daily basis.  It’s been worse lately, and I’m seeing a new doctor (the specialist wasn’t helpful) who’s been helping me so much more than any of the other doctors.  I’m doing yoga because of her, giving up caffeine, and we’re testing a lot of other things that could be holding me back from feeling better.  I’m bringing this up because it’s one of the biggest reasons I’m not doing as much as before.  I have a hard time staying awake when I’m reading because I’m always so tired, so I haven’t been reading as much as fast.  I feel foggy and absent-minded, and more stresses me out than should stress me out.  Sometimes it really takes a lot of motivation to get the reviews written and the papers graded.  But like I said, my new doctor is awesome and I really think she’s going to get me back to feeling like myself.  Starting yoga and changing my diet has made a difference, but when you’re working with hormones nothing changes over night. I’m a very self-motivated, get it done right away kind of person, that feeling so lethargic and sluggish has really been difficult.

It’s funny to me that I don’t usually write reviews this long, but this post is long-winded.  Basically, I hope this wasn’t too personal for you, but I felt like I needed to explain myself.  I try to keep up my blog and have things ready to post almost every day.  This coming trimester isn’t packed with new material, so I’m predicting it won’t be so overwhelming.  There’s a good chance none of you have noticed my slacking, but I have so I needed to address it.  I love my blog and I appreciate everyone that reads it and comments.

Waiting on Wednesday (2)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.  It’s designed for bloggers to spotlight the upcoming releases that they simply can’t wait to read.

This week I’m featuring Gabrielle Zevin’s upcoming release All These Things I’ve Done.  I teach Elsewhere in my Young Adult Lit class, which most of my students really like.  I’m a big fan of her other book Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac.  This new book looks different from the other two, so I’m definitely excited to read it.

P.S. I’d be miserable without caffeine and chocolate!

Title & Author: All These Things I’ve Done (Birthright #1) by Garbrielle Zevin
Release Date: September 6th, 2011
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

Summary (From Goodreads): In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city’s most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.’s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidently poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she’s to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight—at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.

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