A YA Celebration of the Winter Olympics

A List of Books Featuring Winter Olympic Sports!

Winter Olympics Figure Skating Winter Olympics Women's Ski Jump

by REBECCA, February 17, 2014

The Cutting EdgeThe Winter Olympics have been rife with scandal, from virulent homophobia to athlete-eating bathrooms. But they’ve also been a snowy, icy, delight to watch. I was visiting friends in Arizona last week, and we were transported from the sunny desert to a veritable ice cave of triple Lutzes, Mctwists, hat tricks, and twizzles. Of course, anyone in their right mind who watches the Winter Olympics immediately watches the 1992 classic, The Cutting Edge. But, once you’ve done that, what should you read? Well, in celebration of the good parts of the Olympics (read: snow, ice, women finally being able to compete in the ski jump and being way better at it, and figure skating), here are some YA books about winter sports! All blurbs from Goodreads. Toooooooeeee Piiiiiiiiiiick:

Girl Overboard Justina Chen

Girl Overboard, Justina Chen Headley

Everybody thinks Syrah is the golden girl. After all, her father is Ethan Cheng, billionaire, and she has everything any kid could possibly desire: a waterfront mansion, jet plane, and custom-designed snowboards. But most of what glitters in her life is fool’s gold. Her half-siblings hate her, her best friend’s girlfriend is ruining their friendship, and her own so-called boyfriend is only after her for her father’s name. When her broken heart results in a snowboarding accident that exiles her from the mountains—the one place where she feels free and accepted for who she is, not what she has—can Syrah rehab both her busted-up knee and her broken heart?

Life on the Edge Jennifer ComeauxEdge of the Past Jennifer ComeauxFighting for the Edge Jennifer Comeaux

Life on the Edge (The Edge #1), Jennifer Comeaux

Nineteen-year-old Emily is new to pairs skating, but she and her partner Chris have a big dream—to be the first American team to win Olympic gold. Their young coach Sergei, who left Russia after a mysterious end to his skating career, believes they can break through and make history. Emily and Chris are on track to be top contenders at the 2002 Winter Games. But when forbidden feelings spark between Emily and Sergei, broken trust and an unexpected enemy threaten to derail Emily’s dreams of gold.

The Ex Games Jennifer Echols

The Ex Games, Jennifer Echols

Hayden and Nick used to be a hot item, but their brief affair ended with a highly publicized breakup. Now the two are “just friends,” excluding the occasional flirtation. When Hayden wins the girls’ division of a local snowboarding competition, Nick is unimpressed, claiming that Hayden wouldn’t have a chance against a guy. Hayden calls Nick’s bluff and challenges him to a head-to-head boarding contest. Their mutual friends quickly take sides, the girls on Hayden’s and the boys on Nick’s, making for an all-out battle of the sexes. This friendly competition is bound to get heated—and they might end up igniting some old flames.

The Hockey Mystery Boxcar Children Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Hockey Mystery (The Boxcar Children #80), Gertrude Chandler Warner

Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny used to live alone in a boxcar. Now they have a home with their grandfather and they have become friends with a real pro-hockey player. The Boxcar Children cannot believe it when they meet their favorite hockey star, Kevin Reynolds, while out skating one day. Kevin is coaching a girls’ hockey team and planning to build a huge new skating rink right in Greenfield. Kevin offers Jessie a place on the team and Henry is going to be assistant coach! As soon as practices begin, however, strange things start to happen. Suddenly, equipment is missing and Kevin’s plans for the new rink are almost ruined. Is someone trying to prevent Kevin’s new rink from being finished? The Boxcar Children want to help their new friend and solve this mystery!

Being Sloane Jacobs Lauren Morrill

Being Sloane Jacobs, Lauren Morrill

Meet Sloane Emily Jacobs: a seriously stressed-out figure-skater from Washington, D.C., who choked during junior nationals and isn’t sure she’s ready for a comeback. What she does know is that she’d give anything to escape the mass of misery that is her life.

Now meet Sloane Devon Jacobs, a spunky ice hockey player from Philly who’s been suspended from her team for too many aggressive hip checks. Her punishment? Hockey camp, now, when she’s playing the worst she’s ever played. If she messes up? Her life will be over.

When the two Sloanes meet by chance in Montreal and decide to trade places for the summer, each girl thinks she’s the lucky one: no strangers to judge or laugh at Sloane Emily, no scouts expecting Sloane Devon to be a hero. But it didn’t occur to Sloane E. that while avoiding sequins and axels she might meet a hockey hottie—and Sloane D. never expected to run into a familiar (and very good-looking) face from home. It’s not long before the Sloanes discover that convincing people you’re someone else might be more difficult than being yourself.

The White Gates Bonnie Ramthun

The White Gates, Bonnie Ramthun

When Torin Sinclair’s mom gets a job as the town doctor in Snow Park, Colorado, Tor can’t wait to learn to snowboard. But on Tor’s first night there, a member of the high school snowboarding team dies. “It’s the curse,” everyone whispers. Tor’s new friends Drake and Raine explain that there’s an old Native American curse on the doctors of the town. Snow Park can never get a doctor to stay. Tor and his friends must piece together a mystery involving an old mine, a Ute curse, the entire snowboarding team—who just might be blood doping in order to win competitions—and an attempt to save the wild river otters of Colorado. But to complete the puzzle, will Tor have to ride the deadly White Gates? And how will he survive the avalanche that follows?

Podium Finish Beth Pond

Podium Finish, Beth Pond

With six months until the Olympic Games, seventeen-year-old Harper’s life is pretty much perfect. She’s fighting for the starting spot on Team USA Women’s Hockey, and for the first time ever, she has a crush on a guy who likes her back. She feels like the luckiest girl in the world, until she runs a risky play at practice and breaks her knee, thereby sentencing herself to six weeks in a cast and possibly ending her Olympic dream before it even starts.

For seventeen-year-old Alex, being anything less than the best is unacceptable. That’s why, after a miserable debut season at the senior level, the former junior national singles champion switches to ice dance. Her skating partner, Ace, is an “all skating all the time” type of guy, which would be fine, if he’d stop keeping secrets about the real reason he and his former partner broke up. Now is not the time for second thoughts, but how can Alex skate her best if she can’t trust her partner . . . or herself?

As the pressure to make the Olympic team builds, the girls must rely on each other, because if there’s one thing they both know, it’s that the only thing harder than skating to the top is staying there.

The Next Competitor K.P. Kincaid

The Next Competitor, K.P. Kincaid

It’s the all-important Olympic season and eighteen-year-old American figure skater Alex Grady is discovering that there are many obstacles along the way on his quest to win a gold medal. For starters, he has to get through endless hours of practice under the watchful eye of his stern and slightly terrifying Russian coach. Then he has to contend with his all-American rival, Tanner Nielsen. Tanner has the talent, looks, poise and picture-perfect girlfriend that make him the ideal poster boy for United States figure skating.

Alex has the talent and his looks aren’t bad, but the filter between his brain and his mouth is missing, and he definitely doesn’t have a girlfriend. He doesn’t have a boyfriend either, although he finds himself thinking far too much about pairs skater Matt Savelli, which is ridiculous, since goody two-shoes Matt is totally not his type. Besides, Alex doesn’t have time to worry about dating, not with the Olympics looming, right? Can he find a way to go for the gold and still remain true to himself?

Flying Camels and Tiger Mothers Andy Schell

Flying Camels and Tiger Mothers, Andy Schell

The only thing sharper than a skater’s blade is her mother. Mei Chen, an elite-level figure skater trying to qualify for the Olympics, is the daughter of an intensely focused Chinese immigrant mother, Ming. Raised in a hot-house environment, Mei’s life is a torturous combination of practice on the ice and the piano bench, as she is required by her mother to not only skate to Rachmaninoff’s Concerto #2 in C Minor, but to play it on the piano as well. When her mother’s zeal causes her to cross the San Francisco Bay and practice at a different ice rink, in the town of Berkeley, a skating rivalry begins.

Norma Gardner is a struggling single mother whose daughter, Tonya, is named after Tonya Harding. Cleaning houses in Berkeley and selling home-baked cookies on the side, Norma is determined to provide her daughter with all she needs to win the national title and fulfill her destiny at the Olympics. But when Norma sees a new skater on the ice at her daughter’s rink, she’s prepared to do anything to protect her daughter’s interests. Told through the eyes of one teenager and one adult, the drama of the white ice and its sparkling sequins is contrasted with its darkly comedic shadows.

Breaking the Ice Melissa LowellThe Ice Princess Melissa LowellSIlver Blades Going for the Gold Melissa Lowell

Breaking the Ice (Silver Blades #1), Melissa Lowell

Nikki, Danielle, Tori, and Jill are four talented skaters who share one special dream: competing in the Olympics someday. And they’re going to try to make it all happen in Silver Blades, the best skating club around!

Ice In My Veins K.M. Sullivan

Ice In My Veins, K.M. Sullivan

When a 16 year old, small town girl, Christine Matthews, from Dryden, Michigan gets a shot at playing semi- professional hockey on a boys hockey team she jumps at the opportunity. Christine wants one thing in her life, hockey. Nothing would ever mean more to her than that. She had worked so hard for it without the support of her friends and family. When she meets Alex her world starts to change.

Face-Off Stacy Juba

Face-Off, Stacy Drumtra-Juba

Brad’s twin brother T.J. has gotten himself out of the fancy prep school his father picked for him and into the public high school Brad attends. Now T.J., the bright light in his father’s eyes, is a shining new star on the hockey team where Brad once held the spotlight. And he’s testing his popularity with Brad’s friends, eyeing Brad’s girl and competing to be captain of the team. The whole school is rooting for a big double-strength win . . . not knowing that their twin hockey stars are heating up the ice for a winner takes all face-off.

Snowboard Twist Jean Craighead George

Snowboard Twist, Jean Craighead George, with illustrations by Wendell Minor

It’s snowboarding season in the Teton Mountains, and the snow at Glory Bowl is fresh. But as Axel and his father, Dag, well know, new snow settling on top of old snow can also mean the risk of an avalanche. While Dag surveys the landscape for signs of danger, Axel and his snowboarding rival, Kelly, rashly begin showing off their moves, until . . . Whoomph! Crack! Bang! A fast-moving snowslide suddenly takes shape. Axel, his dog, Grits, and Kelly must all act very quickly to avoid disaster.

Did I miss your favorite Winter Olympic sports YA read? Tell me about it in the comments!


A Polar Vortex of Winter YA Covers!

Cat In Snow

by REBECCA, January 22, 2014

Friends, it snowed all yesterday and last night here in Philly, and my cat and I watched it pile up with glee. I love, love, love the snow! Here, in snowlidarity, is a big old igloo of snowy YA covers.

The Golden Compass Philip Pullman      Made of Stars Kelley York

The Snow Garden Christopher Rice      The Tragedy Paper Elizabeth La Ban

Winter of Fire Sherryl Jordan      Shiver Maggie Stiefvater

Trapped Michael Northrop      The Death Cure Maze Runner 3 James Dashner

Ice Sarah Beth Durst      Kiss of Frost Jennifer Estep

Winter Town Steve Emond      The Winter Witch Paula Brackston

Winter Damage Natasha Carthew      Winter's Bone Daniel Woodrell

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe C.S. Lewis      Let it snow John green maureen johnson lauren myracle


How To Have A Happy YA Xmas

. . . Even If You Don’t Celebrate It

Nightmare before christmas

by REBECCA, December 25, 2013

I don’t celebrate Christmas and, really, I could do without 95% of the crass commercialism and 100% of anything to do with chipmunks singing carols. That does not mean, though, that I’m immune to the delightful goshdarned cheer of a great Christmas scene. (I missed doing a Chanukah reading list this year since Chanukah began on Thanksgiving, so this year, I am being a traitor to my people and only doing a Christmas post. So be it.) So, here are five of my favorite Xmas scenes in YA books, tv, and movies! Happy, Merry, Cheery reading.


My So-Called Life, “So-Called Angels”

One of the best Xmas episodes EVER! Rickie has left home and is wandering the streets; Rayanne and Sharon are bonding over working a holiday teen helpline, which Brian Krakow calls; and Angela meets a haunting musician who shows her how lucky she is to be alive. Spoiler Alert/The Title: the musician is an angel! Also, she’s played by Juliana Hatfield. My sister and some friends and I watched this episode the other day and I was shocked at how much like Breakfast Club-era Ally Sheedy Juliana Hatfield looked. Omg, here’s a video with her, Jared Leto, and Kennedy (remember Kennedy!?) chatting in a diner HERE. Sidebar: I just googled Juliana Hatfield to make sure I was spelling her name right, and Wikipedia tells me that her father claims to be descended from the Hatfields of Hatfield-McCoy feuding fame. Yowza.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: Harry’s First Christmas at Hogwarts

Every holiday at Hogwarts is freaking awesome, but nothing compares with Harry’s first ever happy Christmas. He wakes in his four-poster on Christmas morning and, for the first time, has real presents, including an infamous Weasley sweater and the invisibility cloak, and an amazing dinner:

Harry had never in all his life had such a Christmas dinner. A hundred fat, roast turkeys, mountains of roast and boiled potatoes, platters of fat chipolatas, tureens of buttered peas, silver boats of thick, rich gravy and cranberry sauce—and stacks of wizard crackers every few feet along the table. . . . Flaming Christmas puddings followed the turkey. . . . Harry and the Weasleys spent a happy afternoon having a furious snowball fight on the grounds. Then, cold, wet, and gasping for breath, they returned to the fire in the Gryffindor common room, where Harry broke in his new chess set by losing spectacularly to Ron. . . . It had been Harry’s best Christmas day ever.”

Nightmare before Christmas

The Nightmare Before Christmas

A combination of Christmas and Halloween? I mean, it’s so smart that I can’t believe no one thought of it before 1993. Trust Tim Burton to be the one to see how easily the garish cheer of a holiday to which we all know the rules can shade into total gothic terror when approached by someone who doesn’t. The scene where Jack Skellington does his mad scientist routine to figure out the equation that will produce Christmas is one of the best things ever. Eureka!

Little Women

Little Women: Christmas Morning

I love Little Women in general, but the March family Christmas is particularly good, whether it’s the book version or any of the movie adaptations. From trying to figure out how to buy each other Christmas presents with nearly no money to singing carols as a family, Little Women is probably the best of Xmas: family, togetherness, and sharing. Ok, so involvement with the Hummels doesn’t turn out to well in the long run (cough *Beth* cough), giving them their Christmas breakfast probably taught a new generation of children about generosity each time a new movie adaptation came out (I can still picture Kirsten Dunst’s reluctant dimpled sacrifice). Bonus points for two appearances of Claire Danes on this list!

The Dark Is Rising Susan Cooper

The Dark Is Rising: Dark Is Rising #2

Will Stanton’s solstice slash Christmas slash eleventh birthday are chock-a-block with family, snow, and weird happenings. The first quarter of the book—the Christmasy part—is dark and wintry and eerie and grim and delightful. As the blurb puts it, Will “discovers he is the last of immortal Old Ones dedicated to keeping the world from domination by the forces of evil, the Dark.” NO BIG DEAL AND A MERRY BLOODY CHRISTMAS TO YOU, TOO, WILL!

Let it Snow John Green

Finally, has anyone read Let It Snow, the collection of three interconnected Christmas tales by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle? It looks rather charming.

Well, friends, I hope you all have/have had/will have lovely, cheer-drenched holidays with your assorted families, friends, and pets! Allow me to leave you with a picture of my cat, as you are thus assured at least some cheer. Dorian Gray:

the cutest cat in the world

Snow Day! A List of Snowy YA Reads


by REBECCA, December 17, 2013

It’s winter! I know to a lot of people that means shivering and schlepping, but I love the winter. It’s so magical and cozy, and I like nothing better than to curl up in my half-busted reclining chair by the window and reading as the snow falls. The last two winters in Philadelphia have been unseasonally warm with no snow at all, much to my disappointment. I grew up in Michigan, and as a kid I adored playing in the snow; later, in middle and high school, every time there was a big snow storm, I would listen to the radio, hoping for a snow day.

So, in celebration of winter, and in an attempt to conjure some snow, here is a list of young adult books sure to bring about a snow day! All blurbs are from Goodreads.

Made of Stars Kelley York

Made of Stars, Kelley York

“When eighteen-year-old Hunter Jackson and his half sister, Ashlin, return to their dad’s for the first winter in years, they expect everything to be just like the warmer months they’d spent there as kids. And it is—at first. But Chance, the charismatic and adventurous boy who made their summers epic, is harboring deep secrets. Secrets that are quickly spiraling into something else entirely.

The reason they’ve never met Chance’s parents or seen his home is becoming clearer. And what the siblings used to think of as Chance’s quirks—the outrageous stories, his clinginess, his dangerous impulsiveness—are now warning signs that something is seriously off. Then Chance’s mom turns up with a bullet to the head, and all eyes shift to Chance and his dad. Hunter and Ashlin know Chance is innocent . . . they just have to prove it. But how can they protect the boy they both love when they can’t trust a word Chance says?”

My full review of the deliciously snowy Made of Stars is HERE.

The Tragedy Paper Elizabeth LaBan

The Tragedy Paper, Elizabeth LaBan

“Tim Macbeth, a seventeen-year-old albino and a recent transfer to the prestigious Irving School, where the motto is ‘Enter here to be and find a friend.’ A friend is the last thing Tim expects or wants—he just hopes to get through his senior year unnoticed. Yet, despite his efforts to blend into the background, he finds himself falling for the quintessential ‘t’ girl, Vanessa Sheller, girlfriend of Irving’s most popular boy. To Tim’s surprise, Vanessa is into him, too, but she can kiss her social status goodbye if anyone ever finds out. Tim and Vanessa begin a clandestine romance, but looming over them is the Tragedy Paper, Irving’s version of a senior year thesis, assigned by the school’s least forgiving teacher.”

My full review of The Tragedy Paper is HERE.

Tell the Wolves I'm Home Carol Rifka Brunt

Tell the Wolves I’m Home, Carol Rifka Brunt

“1987. There’s only one person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and that’s her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June’s world is turned upside down. But Finn’s death brings a surprise acquaintance into June’s life—someone who will help her to heal, and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.

At Finn’s funeral, June notices a strange man lingering just beyond the crowd. A few days later, she receives a package in the mail. Inside is a beautiful teapot she recognizes from Finn’s apartment, and a note from Toby, the stranger, asking for an opportunity to meet. As the two begin to spend time together, June realizes she’s not the only one who misses Finn, and if she can bring herself to trust this unexpected friend, he just might be the one she needs the most.”

My full review of Tell the Wolves I’m Home is HERE, and my interview with the lovely author, Carol Rifka Brunt, is HERE.

Shiver Wolves of Mercy Falls Maggie Stiefvater

Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #1), Maggie Stiefvater

“For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can’t seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human… until the cold makes him shift back again. Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It’s her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human—or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.”

Harry Potter J.K. Rowling Harry Potter J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling

The winters at Hogwarts are so magical!

His Dark Materials Philip Pullman

The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials #1), Philip Pullman

“Here lives an orphaned ward named Lyra Belacqua, whose carefree life among the scholars at Oxford’s Jordan College is shattered by the arrival of two powerful visitors. First, her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, appears with evidence of mystery and danger in the far North, including photographs of a mysterious celestial phenomenon called Dust and the dim outline of a city suspended in the Aurora Borealis that he suspects is part of an alternate universe. He leaves Lyra in the care of Mrs. Coulter, an enigmatic scholar and explorer who offers to give Lyra the attention her uncle has long refused her.

In this multilayered narrative, however, nothing is as it seems. Lyra sets out for the top of the world in search of her kidnapped playmate, Roger, bearing a rare truth-telling instrument, the compass of the title. All around her children are disappearing—victims of so-called “Gobblers”—and being used as subjects in terrible experiments that separate humans from their daemons, creatures that reflect each person’s inner being.”

Winter of Fire Sherryl Jordan

Winter of Fire, Sherryl Jordan

“Elsha is one of the Quelled: a branded people, doomed always to mine coal to warm the ruling class, the Chosen. But Elsha has strange visions that set her apart—and a strong spirit that condemns her to death. Her life is saved when she is called to be Handmaiden to the Firelord, the most powerful being on the planet. Elsha is the first of her kind ever to be so honored—and both the Chosen and her fellow Quelled are stunned. But her powers and visions grow ever stronger, even in the face of extreme prejudice. Yet Elsha must learn the hard way that you can’t play with fire without getting burned.”

Trapped Michael Northrop

Trapped, Michael Northrop

“The day the blizzard started, no one knew that it was going to keep snowing for a week. That for those in its path, it would become not just a matter of keeping warm, but of staying alive.

Scotty and his friends Pete and Jason are among the last seven kids at their high school waiting to get picked up that day, and they soon realize that no one is coming for them. Still, it doesn’t seem so bad to spend the night at school, especially when distractingly hot Krista and Julie are sleeping just down the hall. But then the power goes out, then the heat. The pipes freeze, and the roof shudders. As the days add up, the snow piles higher, and the empty halls grow colder and darker, the mounting pressure forces a devastating decision. . .”

Enjoy the snow!

Happy Anniversary, Little Women!

Little Women Crunchings and Munchings

by REBECCA, September 30, 2013

On this day in 1868 Louisa May Alcott published the first volume of Little Women! Now, Little Women certainly can be a frustrating read nearly 150 years after its publication, in terms of the limits to women’s freedom and opportunities. Still, whether your Little Women of choice is the book or one of the many film adaptations, there are some legitimately kickass things about it.

1. Jo March! The Jo I picture is Katharine Hepburn from the 1933 movie version, because it was the first one I ever saw. Jo is a badass independent woman. She works to help support her family, she reads voraciously, she stands up to people who try and tell her or her sisters that they can’t do things because they’re women. She writes stories and plays for her sisters to read and act out. She befriends (rescues) poor Laurie from next door and makes him part of the family. She sells her hair so she can buy Marmee a train ticket to go visit their father when he’s been wounded. She moves to New York by herself and starts publishing her stories in the newspaper, then she writes Little Women, one of the most famous YA novels of all time!

Little Women2. Marmee! Marmee models feminism inflected with a strong message of charity. She teaches her daughters about generosity—to each other as well as to those less fortunate than themselves—and how they are strong and must, therefore, always help those who are weaker. In real life, of course, the character of Marmee is modeled on Louisa May Alcott’s own mother, Abigail May. May and her husband, Amos Branson Alcott, were well known transcendentalists. Transcendentalism (perhaps most often associated with Ralph Waldo Emerson) is the philosophy that the individual must be self-reliant, looking to herself for what is right and what is wrong, and that institutions (organized religion, institutions of higher learning) merely got in the way of finding that truth inside herself. It’s no wonder, then, that Marmee teaches Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy to think for themselves.

Sidebar: I saw Mark Adamo’s 1998 opera version of Little Women performed a few years ago. I didn’t like it, ultimately, but it was really interesting to see the philosophical underpinnings of the book translated into an operatic interpretation. It is a modernist opera, mostly tonal, so the music has the very spare, clean feeling that I imagine transcendentalists like Marmee would approve of. There is nothing extravagant or decorative, so the sisters’ lives seem stripped down to a pretty (to me) depressing baseline of boredom and charity, which was further emphasized by the costumes—plain dresses with smocks. I found the whole thing quite unpleasant, with none of the warmth of the book or the complexity of coming of age. Still, it’s not often one gets to see a YA novel become an opera, so that was kind of cool.

Little Women3. Sisters! There really is no better sister book than Little Women (well, except Practical Magic, which I gush about HERE!). Sure, there are moments when these sisters want to kill each other—I mean, if my sister had burned the only manuscript of my novel in the fire I sure as hell would let the sun go down on my goddamned anger, just like Jo does. But, then, if she fell through the ice while skating after me, I’d totally save her and forgive her. Even though Little Women does a lot of moralizing, it also does a great job of portraying the ups and downs of sisterhood! Indeed, I think most of us who have sisters have played the game where we decide which March sister we are and which ours sisters are, amiright?

Little Women4. Winter Wonderland! I know it’s not winter during the whole book, but Little Women always feels very Christmas-y to me. There’s the great stuff in the beginning about buying Christmas presents, and I love how Laurie’s grandfather gives Beth his piano and they sing Christmas carols around it, and how they take their food over to the Hummels’ house (though I guess that’s a big check in the no-good-deed-goes-unpunished column for poor Beth). All the scenes in the movies of the sisters ice skating and sledding in the New England snow . . . I just love it.

Little Women5. The Power of Imagination! Jo’s writing is the most talked about act of imagination in the book. But there are other imaginative inspirations in Little Women, too. Amy pursues her passion for art all the way to Paris and Beth loves music, even if it’s just her family as the audience. All the sisters act out the plays that Jo writes, repurposing things around the house for their sets and costumes. And my favorite is Jo’s decision to turn Aunt March’s mansion into a school that will allow any child to get an education. Jo turns a traditional act of private inheritance into a radical act of public service. You go, Jo!

Do you have a favorite version of Little Women? A favorite little woman? Tell me in the comments!

My Top Ten Winter and Holiday Movies!

Severus Snape

by REBECCA, December 17, 2012

Despite global climate change wreaking havoc, this week it is officially winter! Last week was Chanukah and next week is Christmas and that means that even if there’s no snow on the ground it is still time to snuggle in and watch movies and eat things! So, in the hopes of assisting with your snuggling, here is a list of my top ten wintry movies, most of which also feature at least one wintry holiday (and three Claire Danes appearances!). So, break out the blankets and kitties, and let’s watch some movies!

Harry  Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

ANY Harry Potter movie!

Ok, I know this is kind of a gimme, but the Harry Potter movies are straight-up freaking magical and they have so many good holiday moments. My sister and I may or may not have recently watched many of the Harry Potter movies in a row just to enjoy their delicious wintryness and holidayness: snowball fights on the Hogwarts grounds, mugs of warm butterbeer in the Three Broomsticks, toasting bread in the fire of Gryffindor Common Room, feasts in the Great Hall for Thanksgiving and Christmas (apparently Christmas is the only holiday in the wizarding world), and magical presents like a cloak of invisibility (best present ever)! Just the magical mood of the Harry Potter world feels like that fizzy feeling of the day before winter break in school.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Nightmare Before Christmas

The King of Halloweentown, Jack Skellington, discovers Christmastown and falls in love with the cheer, the gifts, and the sparkle of lights. Bonus: this delightful genre mashup is a musical! The scenes where Jack is trying to figure out the chemical and mathematical equations for Christmas cheer are a Dr. Frankensteinian delight.

The Family Stone

The Family Stone

While I’m not generally a fan of the whole bring-your-date-to-meet-the-family-at-Christmas genre, The Family Stone is pretty delightful. Everett (a typically flat Durmot Mulroney) brings his uptight and conservative girlfriend Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker) home to meet his large and close-knit family, who all hate her . . . except for his brother, who falls for her. Rachel McAdams is perfect as the honest sister who hates Meredith, and Diane Keaton is perfect as the fierce mama lion who thinks Everett is making a big mistake. Claire Danes appearance #1.

The Ref

The Ref

Denis Leary is a cat burglar; when a heist goes wrong, he has to hold a fighting couple hostage in their own home during an excruciating Christmas with their families. Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis are perfect as Caroline and Lloyd, the couple who hate each other, and Denis Leary is, as usual, pretty goshdarn funny.

Caroline: How can we both be in the marriage and I’m miserable and you’re content?

Lloyd: Luck?”

Edward Scissorhands

Edward Scissorhands

Tim Burton + Johnny Depp + Scissor hands + black leather + Mary Kay representative + pastels + topiaries + Frankenstein-esque + Vincent Price + Diane Wiest + suburbs + gothic = awesome!



Set over one twenty-four hour period in wintry New York City, Heights follows its characters as their paths intertwine. There’s Glenn Close, who plays a famous Broadway actor, Elizabeth Banks as her daughter, a photographer who is engaged to James Marsden, who is torn between her and another. And then there’s John Light, a journalist from London who has come to New York to track down the previous lovers of his famous photographer lover, which puts him directly in the path of everyone else. No actual holidays here, but a huge bonus: my favorite musician, Rufus Wainwright, makes a small cameo!

Home for the Holidays

Home For the Holidays

Holly Hunter has made out with her boss, lost her job, and dropped her teenage daughter (Claire Danes appearance #2!) off at her grabby boyfriend’s house for Thanksgiving as she goes home to her parents’ for Thanksgiving and Christmas with her wacky and screwed-up family. Robert Downey Jr. is awesomepants as Holly Hunter’s brother and Anne Bancroft is dynamite as her troubled and dramatic mother. The sibling chemistry between Robert Downey Jr. and Holly Hunter is so good! Lovelovelove.

A Midnight Clear

A Midnight Clear

Based on William Wharton’s excellent novel, A Midnight Clear is set in 1944 France where a young group of American soldiers are stationed. On Christmas eve, they come across a troop of German soldiers who wish to surrender rather than fight. Starring Ethan Hawke, Kevin Dillon, Gary Sinise, Frank Whaley, and Peter Berg, this is a dramatic portrait of young men under immense pressure who try and set aside their differences.

The Thing

The Thing

Ok, so it’s set in the Antarctic, but still, it’s snowy and wintry and snowy, and who doesn’t love a horror movie over the holidays?! Starring Kurt Russell, The Thing is the story of a shape-shifting alien that can take on the form of people it kills and can only be killed (this is the best part:) with an enormous blow-torch. A total classic, and one of the few horror movies that takes place in wintry whiteness. Did I mention the blow torches?

Little Women

Little Women

I love this contemporary remake of Little Women: Winona Ryder actually not sucking in a period piece, bratty Kirsten Dunst, baby Christian Bale, the always-awesome Susan Sarandon, and Claire Danes appearance #3. Sisters, writing, singing, ice skating on a frozen pond (probably Walden), many descriptions of scrumptious food, in a classic coming of age tale. The 1933 and 1949 versions aren’t too shabby either.

So, grab your blankets and your cat, compose your cheese plates and your nachos, and meet me on the couch for an epic of wintry watching! What are your winter favorites? Tell me in the comments.

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