Natalie D. Richards -- Recc'ing Around The Christmas Tree

Recc’ing Around The Christmas TreeBy Natalie D. Richards

It was the night before Christmas…. Yeah, wait, that’s a lie.  It’s not the night before anything.  It’s not even technically night anymore.  It’s about two in the morning, so it’s tomorrow.  Or just way-too-freaking-late-to-be-wrapping. Or maybe oh-God-I-can-taste-the-hours-of-sleep-slipping-away. 
But as I sit here surrounded in bits of wrapping paper, wondering aloud with my husband how many Christmas movies feature a main character named Holly (or “Nick” if we’re talking boys) I feel like it wouldn’t be a Christmas post if I didn’t come at this with a spirit of giving.
With that in mind, I’m dearly hoping are bookstore gift cards burning a hole in your pajama pockets this Christmas morning and I’ve got some ideas for what you could do with them.  (As an aside, I do hope you’re reading this in pajamas.  There should be a law against wearing actual clothes on Christmas day.  Isn’t it all about lounging around the house all day, eating cookies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and watching an endless loop of A Christmas Story?) 

So, when your festivities begin to wind down and you find yourself browsing online for a way to spend some of those pretty little gift cards, I have a few recommendations.  I’m lucky enough to know dozens of incredibly talented teen writers and I could easily make you a list of twenty or thirty books I’d recommend, but for the sake of space and time, I’m choosing a few of my absolute favorites today.

For the reader who wants to be freaked the freak out:
Geoffrey GirardProject Cain or Cain’s Blood.  Girard decides to take serial killers (creepy) and cloning (creepier) and mash them into something truly horrifying.  For more mature readers, go with Cain’s Blood, but if you’d prefer something a little less terrifying, start with Project Cain.

For the reader who wants reality with a side of woo-woo:
Jody CasellaThin Space is a beautifully crafted tale about a boy struggling with the loss of his brother.  Desperate to reconnect, he spends his days roaming around barefoot in search of a thin space (where the wall between the living and the dead is thin) so he can communicate with his brother one last time.

For the reader who wants a book they can’t put down.  Like, at all:
Romily Bernard:  Find Me series.  Start with Find Me, but go ahead and buy Remember Me too, because once you get a taste of Wick and Griff  (along with Bernard’s gorgeous and often gut-wrenching prose) you won’t be able to get enough.  Wick is a hacker heroine with fire running through her veins.  This thriller grabs you from the first line and will keep you burning through the pages way past bedtime.

For the reader who wants a romance…with a side of quirk:

Erin McCahan: Love and Other Foreign Words
.  Love and Other Foreign Words is far more than a romance.  This enchanting book delves into the nature of love in its many forms and how young Josie (easily one of the most original, endearing characters I’ve ever read) navigates those relationships.  One that will bring you sigh after dreamy sigh. 
For the reader who enjoys a little this-could-really-happen terror:

Mindy McGinnis.  Start with Not a Drop to Drink and move along to In a Handful of Dust.  Not a Drop is a spare and haunting account of a girl living in a world where fresh water is running out and Handful of Dust is a companion novel.  These books take a long look at a future that’s a real possibility and it won’t be easy to shake the fear off when you’re done.

For a reader who wants a whole new spin on a mystery:
Edith Pattou: Ghosting.  This free verse mystery told in multiple points of view by master story-weaver, Edith Pattou, mesmerized me from the start.  It follows a group of teens through one terrifying evening, an evening that will change the course of their lives and relationships forever.
Here’s hoping you find a new book or two to fall in love with this Christmas.  I’m not sure there is a greater gift than discovering a new author you really enjoy. 

Happy Holidays to all of the YA Outside the Lines readers.  We’re all so glad to have you with us!


  1. These are great suggestions. I've read four of them and thanks to this post, just ordered a couple more.

  2. So glad to hear it! These are my faves 💗

  3. Holly, that Grinch meme is STILL me and it's over a week since Christmas!! LOL!


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