5 YA Books To Read This Spring

5 YA Books To Read This Spring

Now that the winter is over, it's time to pick up some new books!
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After a long winter, it finally feels like spring is here! Especially with all of the pollen and upcoming finals. Of course, the first thing I'm thinking of is what books I want to read during my spare time. Here are five books that would be great to read during the spring.

1. The Upside of Unrequited By Becky Albertalli

Despite not being big on romance novels, there's something about the spring that makes me more willing to sit down and read a quick one for fun. The story seems fairly stereotypical at first; a girl who wants to fall in love with a handsome hipster boy. Molly's problem is that she's overweight, and she is used to being rejected. But then she meets a co-worker; a total chubby nerd that she's sure she'll never fall for. The main reason I was interested in this novel was the potential for more exposure on stories about girls who may experience body image issues due to their weight. I'm hoping it will live up to its potential!

2. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Once again, I'm not big on romance, but seeing as this book is going to be a movie soon, I figured it was time I read it. The premise is that the narrator is sick; she's so allergic to everything that she can't even leave the house. She only talks to her mother and her nurse, Carla. Then one day a boy moves in next door. The narrator and the boy, Olly, begin to talk and get close. I can sort of tell where it's going from there, but I'm interested in reading it anyway. I'm hoping there will be something in it that surprises me!

3. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Inspired by a lot of the author's own experience of being black and seeing how violence against black people is viewed in America, this book is bound to be a great segway into this conversation. It tells the personal experience of a girl named Starr Carter who is close to a boy who is killed by police. Before this, she balanced her life living in a poor neighborhood and attending a fancy suburban prep school. Her world is shattered as the community around her wants to know what really went down, and Starr is the only one who can answer it. I'm really hoping this book can be eye opening and insightful!

4. The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

After reading Benjamin's other book, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, I knew I would be picking up pretty much anything else written by him. This book follows Sal, a boy who thought he knew his place in his life, until he hits senior year. Suddenly he's realizing he's not who he thought he was, but isn't sure who he really is. It's bound to have a lot of interesting, universal questions that will leave me with a lot to think about afterward. I'm hoping to leave this book thinking more about myself.

5. The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro

Of course, I will be reading this book after reading the first in the series, but I wanted to include this book on my list. The series follows Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson, two descendants of Sherlock and John, as they travel across Europe to discover shocking truths about the Holmes and Moriarty families. I haven't read much into what the second book is about to avoid spoilers, but I'm excited to read a retelling that isn't based on fairytales for once. As much as I love fairytale retellings, it's more interesting to see retellings based off of more unique source material. It also helps that I really enjoy a lot of the Sherlock series, and I grew up on Nancy Drew. I'm hoping there will be a lot of mystery and intrigue!

Cover Image Credit: Moyan Brenn on FLickr

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.
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When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...

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"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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