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Read UK: YA Books Set in the United Kingdom

Fri, 07/15/2016 - 07:00

Thanks to Libba Bray and her Gemma Doyle Series and Cassandra Clare and her Infernal Devices Series, there was never a shortage of books set in Victorian England with a lovely girl in a fabulous dress gracing the cover.  But it’s been a couple of years since the publication of those books and there had been a bit of a shortage of YA set in the UK especially contemporary and science fiction. Thankfully 2016 is seeing a resurgence.  So before England Brexits from the European Union, enjoy these YA books from all genres that are set in the United Kingdom.

Elodie desires more for herself than a life of tea parties and when her father finds himself in trouble, Elodie must travel to China to save him and her family.

After a disfiguring accident, Evelyn finds employment as John Merrick’s nurse.  Caring for The Elephant Man gives Evelyn strength to seek justice as Jack The Ripper terrorizes London.

Forced to lay low Faith and her family are exiled to an island where her father mysteriously dies.  While looking for answers for her father’s death, Faith discovers a tree that may hold the answers she seeks.

Katie’s grandmother, Mary, suffers from Alzheimers and does not have a good relationship with Katie’s mother.  Unbecoming is the story of three generations of women and the secrets that plague their lives.

Gottie is grieving her grandfather’s death and the end of a relationship which are both causing her to lose time.  Is she falling through black holes or she suffering from a mental breakdown? Only Gottie can find answers.

The Sihde are angry and they are abducting teens.  If you get called, you only have 3 minutes and 4 seconds to find your way back home or be lost forever.

Marguerite is the daughter of two brilliant physicists who invent a device that allows people to travel to different dimensions.  One day, one of their interns steals the device and is suspected in the murder of Marguerite’s father. Marguerite and a second intern, Theo, travel through dimensions to find and kill Marguerite’s father’s murderer.

There are four Londons that exist in four dimensions and only two people in the world can travel between them and one of them is Kell.  Kell is a smuggler and one day his illegal activities catch up to him.

Emma is hot and she knows it. She likes to drink and party but when she’s sexually assaulted and pictures are spread all over the internet, Emma’s friends don’t believe she’s the victim.

After the drowning of her twin brother, Elsie has not gone in the water for many years.  While hanging out in her favorite hiding place, Elsie meets a free diver who helps her use diving to deal with her loss.

Printable PDF

Dawn is currently reading Ghostly Echoes by James Ritter


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Celebrate International Zine Month

Wed, 07/13/2016 - 07:00


July is International Zine Month, and July 21 is International Zine Library Day. As explained by ZineWiki, a Zine (derived from magazine) is “an independently- or self-published booklet, often created by a single person.” With this broad term, we can see zines going as far back in time to Revolutionary War pamphleteers like Thomas Paine with his Common Sense and John Dickinson who penned Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, but the modern zines took off more with the wider distribution of magazines in the 20th century, and became a way of sharing fan love, especially, but not specifically, of music performers.

During the 1990s, networks of zine publishers started to emerge, and since then many libraries have been curating zine collections. Having a zine collection in your library is a great way to bring local flavor to your collection as well as new voices. Some libraries allow their zines to circulate, while others find it best to have them as in-house reference, much like mainstream magazines. Whichever way a library chooses to circulates, allowing teen readers access to zines is a new chance at meaningful reader’s advisory opportunities and sparks for teen creativity.
Here are just a few resources that can help with starting and/or maintaining a library zine collection:

Julie Bartel’s From A to Zine is a valuable resource for thinking about zine collections, and especially how to market them to teens in the library or through programming and outreach.

Zine Library is also a wealth of information. The have information on shelving options, categories, and you can access the Zine Librarians Code of Ethics. A couple of other online resources are the Barnard Zine Library, especially for a listing of zine libraries, and the portal Book of Zines. Many of these site have links to where zines can be purchased, as does The Stolen Sharpie Revolution.

Here are just a handful of recent zines that have strong teen appeal:


Claudia Kishi; My Asian-American Female Role Model of the 90’s by Yumi Sakugawa

A fanzine at its best – growing up in the 1990’s, Yumi Sakugawa, a second-generation Japanese American, didn’t see herself represented in pop culture. But there was Claudia Kishi, the talented, confident, fashionista of Ann M. Martin’s book series, The Baby-sitters Club.

Falling Rock National Park by Josh Shalek

This black and white comic is set in a fictional National Park in the American southwest. Ernesto the lizard, Ranger Dee, and various other animal characters head into the Uncanny Valley, where everything gets weird.

Ghost Guide by Rebecca Artemisa

Artemisa shares her drawings and descriptions of different kinds of ghosts and how to deal with them.


Two squirrels give advice in this illustrated zine to poets who are curious about the possibility of publishing their work.

477 Bright Circle by Daryl Seitchik

A little girl notices a shop called Now, which is never open, is open today in this black and white comic. Once inside, odd things begin to occur.

The Prince Zine by Joshua James Amberson and illustrated by Rachel Lee-Carman

An everything you would want to know music zine about the legendary icon, Prince.

What are some popular zines with the teens in you life?

–Danielle Jones, currently listening to the podcast Denzel Washington is the Greatest Actor of All Time Period by W. Kamau Bell & Kevin Avery



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ALA Annual 2016: Alex Award Recap with Ryan Gattis

Tue, 07/12/2016 - 07:00

One of the best highlights of this year’s trip to ALA Annual was undoubtedly the Alex Award ceremony on Sunday, June 26th. A small group of dedicated individuals, including current and former committee members, made their way to the South Conference Center to listen to 2016 Chair Angela Craig deliver a brief presentation on the top ten award-winners and the vetted titles and hear the acceptance speech of special guest Ryan Gattis, author of All Involved (2016 Alex Award Winner).

In the wake of the acquittals over Rodney King’s beating at the hands of a few members in the Los Angeles Police Department, much of the Los Angeles metropolitan area experienced riots, lootings, arson, and violence including murders. Just six days of lawlessness resulted in:

  • eleven thousand fires
  • just under eleven thousand arrests
  • over two thousand people injured
  • more than $1 billion in property damages
  • approximately sixty deaths.

During these six days, Gattis set his novel and chose various characters taken from real interviews with those who experienced the riots, bringing to life the different realities during this turbulent period. Gang members, a firefighter, a nurse, a dreamer, an artist, a homeless man, and others give unique testimonies to all sides of the 1992 violence and show the complexities of survival, vengeance, desperation, and loss.

For more information about the history of the period, see

Award winner Ryan Gattis at ALA Annual, Orlando 2016

During Ryan’s acceptance speech, he described his own history with violence and how it created an author:

“I was seventeen when my nose was torn out of my face. Seventeen, when I had two facial reconstructive surgeries to fix it. I was eighteen when my senses of smell and taste returned. Before, I was on track to apply to the US Air Force Academy, and after, all I wanted to be was a storyteller. 

Suffering violence, enduring it and not allowing it to determine everything about me has made me who I am today. And that is a very difficult thing to say, but an important thing.”

Winning an Alex has brought about some powerful results for Gattis, who shortly after the award, was asked to speak at Marco Antonio Firebaugh High School in Lynwood in South Central Los Angeles, an area described: “as inextricable from Compton as Long Beach Boulevard, sharing all of its violence and troubles but none of its notoriety”. They had not known he had won an Alex, but afterwards, were more enthused at the news. Upon his visit, in an area where “South Central Los Angeles is an island unto itself [and] the cities within it are locked off from the LA tax base and school system and must fend for themselves,” Ryan and his publishers (Ecco, HarperCollins, Picador and Macmillan in the UK, and Writers House in New York) were able to donate 150 books to students and over 100 to the library, including 2016 Alex Award titles. He found that the high school students knew very little of the Rodney King riots because “the generation before them had made an unspoken pact not to raise their children as they had been raised”. This discovery was “incredibly moving” and “filled [me] with hope for Lynwood and its future”. He shared with attendees a few photos and described his experience: 

“Their students are young and excited and so eager to learn but they don’t read. They don’t read enough. So all I did when I went in there was talk about what reading means to me and how it changed my life. Especially the year of my life where I was basically a hermit trying to recover from my surgeries and…and my injury…”

Soon after this visit, he describes how he was invited to Lynwood Middle School and visited immediately after a second 8th grader was killed due to gang violence, an 8th grader whose “body had been discovered in a parked car at the end of an alley”.

He notes: “Standing in front of a room full of young teenagers who know the cost of violence, who are dealing with its monstrous grief, at that very moment being asked to comfort them, to inspire them, is by far the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. And yet…nowhere was it more important to say that reading helps us learn the consequences of behavior without having to suffer them ourselves. I remain in awe of the decision that the Alex committee have, not least because its incredible foresight forced me to see my work more clearly but it also pushed me to refocus my efforts to make certain that I reach an entirely new generation in Lynwood, and I do whatever I can to inspire them to be writers to tell their own stories to the world.”

While there, in their largest room which was a science lab because they didn’t have a theater, he noticed the two empty seats of the dead students and shared this excerpt from the end of his book, inspired by losing a former gang member during his research for the novel:

It occurs to me then that maybe that’s how these riots are for everybody around here. You know you’re gonna lose, but you kick and fight to lose as little as possible. It could be property, or health, or a loved one…but it’s something and when it’s gone, it’s gone for good. No one feels peace tonight, and we haven’t for days. The curfew may be lifted, but it doesn’t mean things are normal or that they’re fixed, or that they will be anytime soon.

In L.A., it only means that things are different from the last time you could go out at night, and from now on, when we talk about these days, we’ll talk about what they did to us, we’ll talk about what we lost, and a wedge will get driven into the history of the city. On either side of it, there will be everything before and everything after, because when you’ve seen enough bad things, it either breaks you for the world, or it makes you into something else–maybe something you can’t know or understand right away, but it might just be a new you, like when a seed gets planted, yet to be grown.

My favorite part of his speech came from Ryan’s quotes from teen students at Lynwood Middle School who shared their gratitude for his visit:

“I feel it’s important you came because I feel most kids don’t have these types of talks with adults. Thank you for telling us life that isn’t always easy.”

“What you said about your past friend really meant something since I’m feeling something similar right now and I wasn’t expecting to have felt the way I did when I walked in. This one took me by surprise how I related to your experience.”

“You’re right, Gattis, I want to say thank you for coming. Your words have inspired me to be a better person and not to give up in life. Things you said about the gangs and the stories you shared about people in jail have taught me not to be like that because I was headed down almost the same direction. Two of my homies just died. It’s been kinda tough because I miss them so much, but in the long run it’s taught me not to go down the same path. So thank you.”

New readers of All Involved should visit for his unique soundtrack accompaniment for the novel as well as details on the art and special seal created in honor of his book.

Ryan Gattis extended his thanks to all 2016 Alex committee members; YALSA; ALA; fellow winners Sara Nović, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Camille DeAngelis, Joe Abercrombie, David Wong, Brandon Stanton, Liz Suburbia, Dan-el Padilla Peralta, and Keija Parssinen; students and teachers from Marco Antonio Firebaugh High School, but special thanks went to those at Lynwood Middle School for their testimonies above.

Members of the 2016 Alex Award Committee (l to r): Joy Worland, Karen Brooks, Kenneth Petrilli, Angela Craig, author Ryan Gattis, Mara Cota, Kara Hunter, Kristen Thorp.

Share other inspiring 2016 Alex Award winners and vetted titles with teens, or make a suggestion from adult titles published in 2016 suitable for a younger audience.

– Kara Hunter, former 2016 Alex Award administrative assistant, currently reading A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

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Young Adult Fiction Book Recommendations Based on Your Favorite Neko Atsume Cat

Thu, 07/07/2016 - 07:00

Neko Atsume is a “cat collecting” IOS and Android game that has, quite literally, taken over the world. I defy you to find a child, a teen, a millennial, or an adult that has NOT played or at the very least heard of this phenomenon. You can find these cuddly kitties everywhere! They have their own cafes, their own toys, their own specials places in our hearts. I know I can’t go a day without taking care of mine. And I’m still working on collecting a few of those pesky rare ones!

If Neko Atsume has taken over not only the game and merchandise market, then why not books? I have compiled a list of some of the rare and more special (no offense to you other kitties!) Neko Atsume cats and found a book purr-fect for them.


Snowball – Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle



What better place to start then with everyone’s first kitty, Snowball? Snowball is always there for you. He…(she? Personally, I always saw Snowball as a “him”)…is there to play with whatever toys you put out, eat whatever food you give (even if it’s only thrifty bits), and be a constant companion. This novel is also that. I brings the warmth and joy of family and companionship during the holidays, even if you read it during the summer! Also, just like Snowball, all three authors will be there for you with books waiting to take you into their worlds!


Lady Meow-Meow – Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick

Next up we have Lady Meow-Meow, a thinly veiled reference to a very popular icon. Which leads into my book choice. Not only is Lady Meow-Meow, and her namesake, glamorous, she is also in the eyes of many. Just like Lady Meow-Meow, the main character of Gorgeous is in the public eye and often wears costumes that show, but also sometimes hide, the real person inside.


Tubbs – Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Tubbs is easily a favorite rare cat. Tubbs always clears his plate and thanks you liberally with fish. He is happy and content with himself and won’t let anyone change his mind. That’s where Dumplin’ comes in. Main character, Willowdean, is self-confident and won’t let anyone get her down, despite her mother’s nickname. When she starts to lose her assurance, she sets out to find a way to get it back, and shock those that are against her. If you’re ever feeling low, look to Tubbs and Willowdean, they’ll show you to love yourself and be proud of who you are.

Saint Purrtrick – Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception by Maggie Stiefvater

Saint Purrtrick is a scruffy, no-nonsense, easy going fellow…as long as you have his favorite silk crepe pillow. As long as you have that, it’s not the luck of the Irish that he showed up. In the game he is described as “awe-inspiring”, which goes along with much of Irish culture. Enter Lament. This novel shows the dark side of faeries, we’re not talking Tinkerbell. Faeries in traditional Irish culture are strong, scary, and awe-inspiring. I could see Saint Purrtrick curling up on my lap as I read this…or y’know…on his silk crepe pillow.

Ganache – The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

Next up is Ganache, who is described as pragmatic, meaning she thinks things through realistically and is very matter-of-fact. Also, she’s named after chocolate, which is awesome. Not only does Ganache connect to The Chocolate War (an ALA Best Book for Young Adults!) because of their name and title, respectively, but also her similarities to the main character. Ganache and Jerry think the same way: “If I don’t want to do it, why do I have to?” Where Ganache wants to play with her favorite goodie, a toy capsule; Jerry doesn’t want to sell chocolates for the annual school fundraiser. These are two very stick to their guns characters.


Chairman Meow – I am the Weapon by Allen Zadoff

Chairman Meow is ready for battle at a moment’s notice and is described as boorish, meaning that he is unrefined and a little rough around the edges. Inside of that hard outer shell though is a soft spot for his favorite goodie, an earthenware pot. In I am the Weapon the main character, Boy Nobody, is the same way. He goes from place to place, school to school, carrying out missions, but soon he starts wanting more. He wants a home to call his own and belongings to fill it. Both Chairman Meow and Boy Nobody are more than meets the eye.

There are so many other Neko Atsume cats that can fit their own young adult book, I could go on forever! Who is your favorite Neko Atsume cat and what would their YA book be?

— Tegan Anclade, currently reading Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

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Women in Comics: Science

Tue, 07/05/2016 - 07:00

Science has always been a subject that I gravitate towards, so it is no surprise that I love science-related comics. Many of these books are biographies of famous scientists, but there are also wonderful comics about specific scientific subfields that offer a fun way to learn about a new topic and can help to inspire readers to continue reading about previously unknown topics. Here are just a few enjoyable comics for those with an interest in science.

Charles Darwin’s On The Origin Of Species: A Graphic Adaptation by Michael Keller and Nicholle Rager Fuller – You likely have heard about Charles Darwin before and you may have even heard about his seminal work, On The Origin of Species, but did you know that a graphic adaptation of it is available? With artwork by skilled science illustrator Nicholle Rager Fuller, this book brings a whole new side to Darwin’s classic work. It is a great way to get readers who might find the original a bit dry to give this influential piece of scholarship a chance. And, the artwork is sure to clarify many of Darwin’s points. This book also goes beyond the original text to put Darwin’s work into a broader context and to provide more details on Darwin’s place in the scientific field.

Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout by Lauren Redniss – Marie Curie and her husband Pierre are some of the most famous and influential scientists of the early 1900’s. Together they added two elements to the periodic table and won a joint Nobel prize. Marie went on to win a second Nobel prize after his death as well. In this book, which was a National Book Award Finalist, Redniss adapts the facts of their lives into a unique graphic work that integrates art into the text in creative and impressive ways. Though this book is not a standard comic book, it is sure to fascinate anyone with an interest in the use of art to tell a story.

Coral Reefs: Cities of the Ocean by Maris Wicks – In her latest book, Maris Wicks tackles coral reefs. The result is a book that is both informative and adorable. Narrated by a fish who lives in the coral reef, the book provides a huge amount of information complete with illustrations that show the science extremely clearly. This is a great book for comic fans who have an interest in oceanography or science more generally. In addition to the great comic, this book also includes some very good extras, including an introduction from a scientist in the field, a glossary, and a list of additional resources.

Dinosaurs: Fossils and Feathers by MK Reed and Joe Flood – Another entry in the same series as Maris Wicks’ book is this volume by MK Reed about dinosaurs. This book is a perfect blend of the science of dinosaurs and the history of paleontology with wonderful artwork. The book weaves in biographical information about historical figures who have been important to our understanding of dinosaurs, ranging from Charles Darwin to a less well-known, but no less fascinating fossil hunter named Mary Anning. This comic will appeal to a wide range of readers and a wide range of age groups. As with Maris Wicks’ book, it also includes an introduction from a scientist working in the field, a glossary, and additional resources.

Levitation: Physics and Psychology in the Service of Deception by Jim Ottaviani with art by Janine Johnson – This book tells the story of levitation by magicians by focusing on the stage show of Howard Thurston, a magician who inherited the trick from Harry Kellar, who himself copies (or perhaps stole) the trick from a British magician named John Neville Maskelyne. The book is narrated by Guy Jarrett, another real-life figure who was the engineer who set up Thurston’s shows. The book not only draws readers into the science of this trick, which amazed audiences of the day, but also sets the scene for the world of stage magic during this time period.

I hope this list will help you to find the perfect science comic for you! If you are still looking for more, you can find a few additional examples in my post on nonfiction comics by women. And, if I have missed your favorite one by a woman, please let me know in the comments so I can check it out!

– Carli Spina, currently reading Bloodline by Claudia Gray

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Monthly Monday Poll: July

Mon, 07/04/2016 - 07:00

Happy July, Hub readers – Happy Independence Day to our American readers, and Happy belated Canada Day to our northern readers.

Last month, we asked about your preferences re: summer romance tropes, and the overwhelming majority of you (58%) say you love romances where the protagonists dislike each other first; bring on the banter! Star-crossed lovers were next, with 19% of the vote, followed by love triangles where both love interests tickled your (er, the protagonists’) fancy (12%). 9% of you don’t care for any kind of romantic trope when you’re stacking up your summer reads, and 3% of you prefer a love triangle with a clear *right* choice.

Our poll this month nods to the American Revolution by focusing on YA historical fiction set in 18th century North America. In compiling this list, it came to my attention that this is a) a decidedly untrendy topic lately for YA (only one of the titles I found was published in the past 5 years!), and b) also one that seems ripe for some further conversation around perspective, authentic voice, representation, and other issues surrounding how history is told, who gets to tell it, and what counts as “history” anyway. If this poll inspires you to dust off your historical fiction reader’s cap, this website proved super-useful. Let us know your thoughts, other titles you love that we missed, and your favorite resources for finding historical fiction in the comments!

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.

-Carly Pansulla, currently listening to The Diviners by Libba Bray, narrated by January LaVoy (yes, I loved The Lair of Dreams audiobook so much, I’m now listening to the first book in the series, since I read it previously).


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Notes from a Teens Top Ten Book Group Member: All Better Now Fantasy Casting

Thu, 06/30/2016 - 07:00

Teens across the nation vote each year for the Teens’ Top Ten book list and the results are eagerly anticipated during Teen Read Week in October– but did you know how the books are nominated for this list in the first place?

Books are nominated by members of Teens’ Top Ten book groups in school and public libraries around the country. To give you a glimpse of some of the teens behind this process, we’re featuring posts from Teens’ Top Ten book groups here on The Hub. Today we have a fantasy cast list for Emily Wing Smith’s All Better Now created by Tina Van Fossen. Warning! Spoilers below!


All Better Now: A Memoir by Emily Wing Smith 

I ask myself: how am I living still?
And how I ask it depends on the day.

All her life, Emily has felt different from other kids. Between therapist visits, sudden uncontrollable bursts of anger, and unexplained episodes of dizziness and loss of coordination, things have always felt not right. For years, her only escape was through the stories she’d craft about herself and the world around her. But it isn’t until a near-fatal accident when she’s twelve years old that Emily and her family discover the truth: a grapefruit sized benign brain tumor at the base of her skull.

In turns candid, angry, and beautiful, Emily Wing Smith’s captivating memoir chronicles her struggles with both mental and physical disabilities during her childhood, the devastating accident that may have saved her life, and the means by which she coped with it all: writing.



Chloe Grace Moretz as Emily

Chloe is a really good actress and is great at playing emotional roles, which is what this part would be.


Joey King as Johanna

Joey King is also a really good young actress and would play the snobby Johanna well.


Tina Fey as Mrs. Smith

Basically because Tina Fey is the greatest person in the world and slays every movie she’s in.

Tom Hanks as Mr. Smith

The dad-est dad there is. He is really good at at serious movies and would be good at portraying having a child with a brain tumor.

Kate Hudson as Miss Beck

She looks like a nice down to earth teacher.

Skandar Keynes as Rembrandt

Skandar looks like a young edgy teen heart throb that would be great for the fictional character Rembrandt.

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Booklist: YA Alternate History

Tue, 06/28/2016 - 15:00

June is history month, and while there’s a ton of great historical fiction for teens out there, it’s also a perfect time to start asking “What if?”

What if the American Revolution never happened?

What if the Axis Powers won World War II?

Alternate history books are a great way to explore these questions, and alternate history for teens is becoming increasingly popular. Here are a few books to get you started.

These stories can blend speculative elements with historical facts, which is perfect for prompting discussion about what is truth and what is fiction in the novels discussed. They can also prompt readers to explore more nonfiction about the time period. 

White Cat by Holly Black (2011 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults)

It wasn’t alcohol that was banned by the 18th amendment, but magic, and that ban created a black market for “curse workers” controlled by powerful crime families like Cassel Sharpe’s. In this urban fantasy with a twist of fairy tale magic, Cassel has always been treated like an outsider in his family because of his inability to perform curse work, but he soon discovers that he might be the most powerful player of all.

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

The Great Library of Alexandria survived the test of time and now governs the flow of knowledge to everyone in a society where privately owned books are banned. In this fast-paced story, Jess, who is in training for service to the Library despite the fact that most of what he knows is contraband knowledge from books that his family owns, finds his loyalties tested when his friend invents a device that could change society.

Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger (2014 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults)

In an alternate Victorian era where vampires and werewolves coexist alongside humans and mechanical servants perform housework, Sophronia Temminick is a great trial to her mother, who ships her off to Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. Far from a normal finishing school, Mademoiselle Geraldine’s is a floating dirigible that teaches Sophronia and her cohorts not just how to be proper ladies, but also how to be spies and assassins.

The Inventor’s Secret by Andrea Cremer

In this steampunk series opener, the American Revolution never happened and the British empire is an ever-expanding, malevolent global power run by machines in the nineteenth century.

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (2003 Alex Award Winner)

In a 1985 where the Crimean War still rages and clone-your-own-dodo kits can be purchased by the general populace, Literary Detective Thursday Next can read her way into the pages of books to fix problems in the fictional world. The first entry in Fforde’s smart, quirky series finds Thursday playing matchmaker to Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester while navigating her career and her own rocky love life.

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner (2014 Printz Honor Book)

Under the government of a ruthless regime, Standish tries to fly under the radar. But that all changes when a football goes over a wall and Standish discovers that the government is about to fake a moon landing for publicity. 


Front Lines by Michael Grant

In this alternate take on World War II, a law change in 1942 has made women and girls eligible for the draft. Frangie, Rio, and Rainy, three girls from different walks of life, sign up to fight against the Nazi war machine, the greatest threat the world has ever seen.

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

The Amazing Race collides with alternate history in a 1956 where Hitler and the Axis Powers won World War II and plan to commemorate their victory at a giant ball. Yael, a former death camp prisoner, is on a mission from the resistance to win the race and kill Hitler once and for all. A sequel, Blood for Blood, is slated for publication this November.

The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead

Fleeing a loveless marriage, noble-born Adelaide runs away to the Glittering Court, where Cedric Thorne promises to turn lowborn girls into royalty. But as Adelaide falls for Cedric, the Governor decides he wants her for his wife, and she risks becoming an outcast or even losing her life.

Dodger by Terry Pratchett (2013 Printz Honor Book and Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults)

In a fantastical take on Victorian England, seventeen-year-old Dodger rescues a young girl from a beating, and her fate mixes his in with characters such as Charles Dickens, Sweeney Todd, Benjamin Disraeli, and Queen Victoria herself.

Nation by Terry Pratchett (2010 Printz Honor Book, Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults, and Odyssey Award)

In this survival story mixed with fantasy, Mau, sole survivor of a tsunami, and Daphne, lone survivor of a shipwreck, overcome cultural barriers to protect their small band of refugees from danger.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld (2010 Best Books for Young Adults)

At the outset of a World War I fought between the Axis Powers with great animal-shaped machinery and the Allies with giant floating ecosystems of genetically engineered creatures, Crown Prince Alek, son of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, runs for his life after his parents’ assassination and finds an unlikely ally in Deryn Sharp, a girl disguised as a boy fighting in the British Air Service. Featuring illustrations by Keith Thompson, the world-building in this series opener is not to be missed.

Don’t see your favorite on this list? Tell us about it in the comments!

— Elizabeth Norton, currently listening to Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz, read by Lin-Manuel Miranda

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Science Fiction and Horror Anime

Mon, 06/27/2016 - 07:00

Is there a void left in your horror-loving heart by the lack of a new season of Attack on Titan? Hopefully this post will get you through until there is an official release date for season two.  All of these recommendations feature graphic bloodshed and gore galore. They have been broken into three categories; steampunk, aliens, and stories from the monster’s’ point of view. The anime titles that headline each category definitely straddle that Teen/Adult territory where violent science fiction and horror media is often caught. Sensitive readers beware, these titles are not for the faint of heart; or stomach, for that matter.

If you like your horror to have a steampunk twist, watch: Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress

(This title is so new to the US market that it has not been assigned a rating, but’s Viewing Restriction coding is currently classifying it as a Mature title)

The Kabane have overrun Japan. Once a person is bitten they join the ranks of these difficult to kill and viciously hungry monsters. Set during an alternate industrial revolution where the remaining population of Japan is restricted to fortress stations, the only safe way to travel is by steam powered trains whose transit lines are controlled by elite families.

The twelve episode series has been described as Snowpiercer meets Attack on Titan. An ongoing show, this is a top notch survival-action horror anime with no manga adaptation (…yet).  It has the same alternate reality/history flavor as Attack on Titan.

…then read:

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

This 2011 Michael L. Printz award winner may be set in the future not the past, but the post apocalyptic thriller still deals with class division of the disenfranchised. The action sequences and travel elements are sure to keep the attention of any fan’s of Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress.

Gris Grimly’s Frankenstein by Gris Grimly, adapted from the book by Mary Shelley

Want more creatures with consciences and experiments gone awry? This graphic novel adaptation of the trials of OG mad scientist Victor Frankenstein and his gentleman monster is a fresh and visually stunning take on the classic story.

If you prefer alien invasion horror stories, watch: Parasyte: The Maxim

(rated TV-MA on the Internet Movie Database)

Alien pods fall from the sky, and the horror that emerges from each casing is driven by one need:  to consume a human host, take over their identity and then continue feasting on humanity until they take over the planet. The alien that attempted to consume high schooler Shinichi Izumi missed his brain and instead takes over his right hand. Now that Migi is fused to his nervous system and the two are neither wholly alien nor human they must work together in order to survive both the aliens’ appetites and the humans defending their lives.

The manga of Parasyte, written and illustrated by Hitoshi Iwaaki, came out in 1988 and the whole series has a classic 80s horror movie vibe. It was clearly heavily influenced by the special effects in John Carpenter’s “The Thing” (1982, Rated R)(MPAA  A series of extreme violence in all of its iterations, but where the manga suffered from a lack of developed female characters, the anime steps up to the plate and a compelling story emerges that explores personhood while really torturing it’s main character.

…and then read:

The Animorphs Series created by Katherine Applegate

A group of humans and one alien are given the ability to morph into any animal they have contact with. Their goal is to protect humanity from an invading force of extra terrestrials with the power to merge with the brain of their human hosts. Intrigue and fairly gory action abound this 54 book series where the enemy aliens could be anyone and anywhere. No one is safe.

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Waves of attacks by aliens technologies have battered all of humanity but Cassie has a mission. She has to rescue her young brother, and she won’t let anything stop her. Even Them. The stakes are high in this series, and, like in Parasyte, the challenges of survival will push the main character to her breaking point.

If you prefer read something from the point of view of the monster, watch: Tokyo Ghoul

(rated TV-MA on the Internet Movie Database)

An experimental surgery saves the life of college student Ken Kaneki after he barely survives a violent attack. When he discovers that he has inherited the same craving for human flesh as his attacker, he is suddenly immersed in an underground society full of territorial monsters and struggles to find a way to survive without losing his grasp on his humanity.

Both this extremely popular show and the manga it was based on by Sui Ishida show sequences with graphic dismemberment and torture. The newly turned Ken’s isolation and self loathing make the series intense emotionally as well as visually, but the anime’s pace is slightly accelerated and the beautiful animation makes the show a bit easier to engage with than the book.

…and then read:

Dust by Joan Frances Turner

Jessie’s life after death is disrupted when an infection begins to spread through the zombie population. A complex weave of characters, balanced with viscerally grotesque descriptions of mealtimes make this a unique read.  Jessie is a practical sort of zombie and she stirs your sympathies even as she horrifies you with her table manners.

Fracture by Megan Miranda

Delaney survives after eleven minutes beneath the surface of an iced over lake and comes back … different. The only person who seems to understand her inexplicable connection to death is Troy, but can she really trust him? What is she willing to give up to find out more about these new feelings? This book has a slow build, but the subtle sense of dread eventually expands to the same level of intensity as the more introspective sections of Tokyo Ghoul.

— Jennifer Billingsley,  currently reading Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard.


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Booklist: So You Want to Read a Holly Black Book

Sun, 06/26/2016 - 07:00

Holly Black is one of the most versatile authors writing today. With more than thirty books to her name and more in the pipeline, it’s no exaggeration to say that Holly Black has something for everyone. But with so many books to choose from, sometimes it’s hard to decide where to start.

No worries though, if you’re looking to start reading Holly Black but aren’t sure where to start this post has you covered.

If You Want to Read a Standalone Novel:


  • The Coldest Girl in Cold Town (2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults): When Tana wakes up after a Sundown Party it takes her a few moments to realize she survived a massacre and might have been bitten by a vampire. With time running out and no good choices, Tana will have to embrace the monsters in Coldtown if she wants to avoid becoming one.
  • The Darkest Part of the Forest (2016 Best Fiction for Young Adults): Hazel used to think she could become a knight who rode alongside the fairies and hunted the monsters that lurked in Fairfold woods. That is until the coffin in the woods is broken and the horned prince, who has been there for as long as anyone can remember, disappears.
  • See Below For: Doll Bones and Flight of Angels

If You Want to Start a Series:

If You Want to Read Some Short Stories:

  • Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales (edited by Kelly Link): This collection of stories imagines worlds where humans and monsters coexist (with varying levels of success). Black’s story for the collection is titled “Ten Rules for Being an Intergalactic Smuggler (The Successful Kind).”
  • My True Love Gave to Me (edited by Stephanie Perkins): Black reimagines the mythology surrounding the Krampus in her addition to this holiday-themed anthology called “Krampuslauf.”
  • The Poison Eaters and Other Stories: Black returns to the world of Tithe and explores other areas of speculative fiction in this book of short stories which includes some original pieces while also republishing stories previously seen in other anthologies.
  • See Below For: Geektastic, Welcome to Bordertown, and Zombies vs. Unicorns

If You Want to Read Something Holly Black Edited:

  • Geektastic (co-edited with Cecil Castellucci): This collection celebrates the inner-geek in all of us and began with the short story co-written by the editors called “Once You’re a Jedi, You’re a Jedi All the Way” which imagines what might happen if a Jedi woke up with a Klingon in their bed.
  • Welcome to Bordertown (co-edited with Ellen Kushner): This series launched the modern urban fantasy genre with stories exploring a city where humans and magical creatures meet and interact. Black co-edited this fifth book in the series, and co-wrote a story called “The Rowan Gentleman” with Cassandra Clare.
  • Zombies vs Unicorns (co-edited with Justine Larbalestier): Forget about pirates and ninjas. Vampires and Werewolves is so 2008. There is something far more important to debate: zombies versus unicorns. Larbalestier comes to this anthology representing Team Zombie while Black heads up (the winning) Team Unicorn.

If You Want a Comic or Graphic Novel:

  • A Flight of Angels (co-written with Louise Hawes, Alisa Kwitney, Todd Mitchell, Bill Willingham; illustrated by Rebecca Guay): The graphic novel brings together several fantasy authors in a story exploring the varied interpretations of angels in world mythology.
  • The Good Neighbors (illustrated by Ten Naifeh): This three-book graphic novel series (Kin (2009 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers, 2009 Great Graphic Novels), Kith, Kind) follows Rue Silver as she tries to make sense of her faerie heritage and rescue her mother from the faerie realm.
  • Lucifer (illustrated by Lee Garbett): Black turns her hand to the character first seen in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman before starring in his own series. This reboot begins when Lucifer grudgingly teams up with his brother Gabriel to solve their Father’s murder.

If You Want Something Middle Grade:

  • Doll Bones (illustrated by Eliza Wheeler): Lifelong friends Zach, Alice, and Poppy will have to work together to bury a china doll made from a dead girls ashes if they want to avoid being cursed forever.
  • The Iron Trial (with Cassandra Clare): Callum has spent most of his life trying to fail the trials and avoid admission into the magical Magisterium. Except his efforts to do his worst fail . . . This series continues with The Copper Gauntlet, The Bronze Key, The Golden Boy, and The Enemy of Death.
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Tony DiTerlizzi): When siblings Mallory, Jared, and Simon move into their Aunt Lucinda’s old house, the children quickly realize something strange is afoot. When Jared discovers an old copy of Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You he discovers that fairies and all manner of other magical beasts are lurking near the house. And they all seem to want the Field Guide. This series continues with The Seeing Stone, Lucinda’s Secret, The Ironwood Tree, and The Wrath of Mulgarath before moving into a spinoff series which begins with Goblins Attack.

There you have it. With so many books to choose from, there’s a Holly Black book for everyone. Where will you start? Which ones have you read already?

–Emma Carbone, currently reading The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

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Vidcon Special: Youtuber and YA Book Crossovers

Wed, 06/22/2016 - 07:00

While librarians will be arriving in droves in Orlando for the 2016 American Library Association Annual Conference in the next few days, across the continent in Anaheim, another theme-parked arena, flocks of digital content fans and creators will be swarming for the 7th annual Vidcon, June 23-25, and many of these attendees will be teens. Studies are showing that a majority of teens are big consumers of online video. Short Vines are grabbing interest, but Youtube is still where a lot of time is being spent watching favorite Youtubers,  and for some of the Youtube stars, the fandoms run deep.

In honor of Vidcon, here are a handful of Youtubers with huge fan bases that have recently published books, and some YA book suggestion crossovers that might have some of the same appeals and feels.

Tyler Oakley – 8+ million subscribers

Book – Binge

Oakley began making videos in 2007, and is a leading youth voice for LGBTQ+ rights and teen suicide prevention.  Binge can be laugh out loud funny and turn around and be deeply heartfelt and inspiring.  Aside from his Youtube channel, he also has a podcast: Psychobabble Tyler Oakley.


Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens by Becky Albertalli (2016 Morris Award Winner, 2016 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults)

Character-driven, heartfelt, and authentic, this will appeal to Oakley fans with both its humor and feels. Not-so-openly-gay Simon Spier is falling in love with an online friend whose identity he is uncertain of, but is pretty sure that he goes to his school. When a classmate uncovers his secret relationship, he blackmails Simon into helping him try to win over one of Simon’s best friends. Simon fears of being outed are less about being ostracized, and more about what will change once everyone knows. Though on one side this is a light-hearted and romantic novel it also deals with the difficulty of change, complexity of identity, and the importance of growth

Hold Me Closer: the Tiny Cooper Story by David Levithan

Written in play format, the larger-than-life Tiny Cooper is telling his life story as a musical.  A hopeless romantic with a witty take on life, Tiny hits the issues head-on. Both Tiny and Oakley serve as positive role models and cheerleaders, each with a charming sense of humor. Tiny also has real depth in his autobiographical play that Oakley fans will resonate with as he looks at the sober side of the nature of love.

Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle (2014 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults)

This book parallels Binges as a  book of self discovery, and of finding and managing the Diva within. Equally filled with hysterical hijinks, Better Nate is the story of a small town 8th-grade boy running away to New York City to follow his dreams of being on Broadway in a musical production of E.T. As Nate gradually falls in love with the city, issues bubble up around sexuality, family, and of who you are, and can be, in the world.


Miranda Sings (Colleen Evans) 6+million subscribers

Book- Selp-Helf

Colleen Evans’ Youtube personality Miranda Sings is a hilarious, self-absorbed, ironic persona that plays the world as if she is full of singing talent and great advice. Evans other Youtube channel PsychoSoprano, is tamer, but equally funny, and talks more about the musing of life. Selp-Helf is on parr with Amy Sedaris’ I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence, and acts as an easy to follow guide to all things in life like career choices, dating, fashion, and life hacks.


Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults)

Hilarious and irreverent, much like Evans’ humor, this story of thirteen beauty queens that get stranded on a deserted island after a plane crash will appeal to Evans/Sings fans. The beauty queens have to learn to survive all while still preparing for the possibility that the pagent will still go on. Bray’s satirical commercial breaks match up with the irony that Evans brings to Sings’ character and act.

Grasshopper Jungle: A History by Andrew Smith (2015 Michael L. Printz Honor Book, 2015 Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2016 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults)

Dark humor about the end of humanity will appeal to Evans/Sings’ fans love of irony. Austin Szerba is narrating the end of the world as a plague “unstoppable soldiers”—six-foot-tall praying mantises with insatiable appetites for food and sex, take over.

Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle

Paige is a want-to-be superstar getting her chance. This novel, with its hints at romance, will appeal to Evans’ fans softer side while still getting wrapped up in the whirlwind of what it means to be a celebrity. Humorous and funny, and full of gossipy-like feels this could appeal to appreciation of the underlying satire of Evans’ work.


Connor Franta 5+million subsribers

Book: A Work in Progress: A Memoir

Franta, formerly of the very popular Youtube channel Our 2nd Life (O2L), now vlogs on his own channel. His book, much like his channel, is very personal and insightful, often looking at some of the issues he’s struggling with, and moments of self-discovery and coming of age.


Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley

Franta fans will appreciate the complex characters and insightfulness of human nature in Whaley’s novel of Solomon, an agoraphobic teen that hasn’t left the house in three years, and the ambitious Lisa, who is determined to “fix” him. Both Frana and Whaley are often funny as they explore the deeper currents of what makes us tick.

Wonders of the Invisible World by Christopher Barzak

Filled with magical-realism, the heart of Barzak’s is the search for personal truth as the protagonist, Aiden, realizes that he has gaps in his memory due to a family curse, and there is more about himself hidden in those gaps than he ever realized.

I’ll Give you the Sun by Jandy Nelson (2015 Michael Printz Award, 2015 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults)

Nelson’s intricately orchestrated coming of age novel of two siblings dealing with love and loss told from varying perspectives at different periods of time with resonate with Franta fans for its sincerity and prose.


Zoe Sugg (Zoella) 10+ million subscribers

Books: Girl Online, and Girl Online On Tour

Sugg is a British beauty and fashion vlogger with two published YA fiction novels. Sugg is popular on Instagram, Twitter, and also keeps a written blog. Both her books are modern day romantic adventures of growing up in the digital age with a digital presence. Her protagonist, Penny, is a famous teen British blogger that comes to America and falls in love.


Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen (2015 YALSA’s Award for Excellence in Nonfiction)

Fans will resonate with Van Wagenen’s memoir of her eighth grade year as she chronicles how she puts into action all the advice of a 1950s popularity guidebook, Betty Cornell’s Teenage Popularity Guide.

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

Taking on the theme of teens that blog, fans of Sugg will appreciate Riley, a gender-fluid teenager that starts a blog to work through issues of gender identity that quickly goes viral. Though the issues are worked out a little differently in Sugg’s and Garvin’s book, both have similar plot points where secrets could come out that would threaten friendships and possibly personal security.

Little White Lies by Brianna Baker

This book might hit a little close home. Coretta, a young African American teen girl, is fed up with her parents. In protest, she starts a Tumblr blog that goes viral as she takes on issues of power, politics, mixed-race identity. Unable to keep up with the demand and still get her college applications in, she hires a ghostwriter that happens to be a 41-year-old white man. There is some similarity to Sugg’s life when fans were upset to find out that her novels also had assistance from a ghostwriter. Still, much like the GIrl Online books, they deal with what is is like to be growing up in the digital age.


Dan Howell (Danisnotonfire) 5+ million viewer and Phil Lester (AmazingPhil) 3+million viewer

Book: The Amazing Book is not on Fire

Dan and Phil each have their own video channels, often having the other on as guest, but do have their collaborative Youtube channel DanAndPhilGAMES among some other side channels. Much like their channel, their book is uproariously funny with self-deprecating humor, personal histories, and pranks. The fandom runs deep for this duo, and often goes by their “shipped” name Phan.


The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart (2009 Michael L. Printz Award, 2009 Best Books for Young Adults)

Through pranks, Frankie Landau-Banks tries to infiltrate her school’s all-male secret society: the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. Wittingly funny, Lockhart’s main character orchestrates a series of pranks that the exclusively all-male group execute, all the while, unbeknown to them, their fearless leader is both female, and not officially a member.

Dan Versus Nature by Don Calame

The similarities are more than name only. Phan fans will appreciate the slapstick humor and pranks in this survival book of Dan and his best friend Charlie as they go to the woods to bond with Dan’s soon to be step-father.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell (2016 Best Fiction for Young Adults)

This book will appeal more to the Phan fans romantic side than prank side. Still, filled with humor, Carry On’s has rich relationship development between Simon Snow, the chosen one, and Baz, Snow’s roommate, and nemesis at the Watford School of Magicks. This will have “all the feels” that those that are drawn to roommate relationship of Dan and Phil.

Looking for dive deeper into the world of YouTube? Check out: 

— Danielle Jones, currently between books

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Major Character Deaths In YA Lit

Tue, 06/21/2016 - 07:00

I know we’ve all been shocked and upset when a favorite character unexpectedly dies in books and TV shows. I haven’t seen the TV show based on Cass Morgan’s The 100 series but I heard about one of the main character’s recent deaths’ and how enraged fans were (even though this character isn’t even in the books).

I know that killing off beloved characters isn’t new in books or TV series – but in the past it seems like it happened more infrequently – and characters weren’t always really dead. The “it was all a dream scenario” trope (like Bobby’s death in Dallas, yeah, I know, many of you weren’t even born then!) was used in many books and shows. Soap operas repeatedly reinforce the idea too.

Because of that, we’ve been primed to think that major characters won’t die but when it really happens in books and shows, we refuse to believe it and rail against the writers for killing off our favorite characters (Sean Bean as Ned Stark in Game of Thrones, or Will from The Good Wife) – even if that’s how it was originally written in the books that these shows were adapted from!

Even YA literature, where a majority of the books end happily or on a more hopeful note, is trending toward killing off more major characters than ever before.

I think it’s a reflection of the reality of the world we’re living in. More readers are also aware of it because of the prevalence of social media with its instant access to the news and the plot points from books and shows.

Is this a healthy trend? I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, when times are tough you want to escape reality by reading about positive things where good triumphs over evil. I know that’s why I love fantasy and science fiction. Superhero movies and graphic novels fulfill that need to believe that evil will be defeated and that the good guys may seem to die but aren’t really dead because they then come back to life.

Since we’re so used to superheroes that don’t or can’t die or books that have happy endings, when beloved characters do die, it’s even more of a shock and a betrayal. I don’t blame fans for going ballistic when a character dies, especially those who did not deserve it (Rue from The Hunger Games or Chuck from The Maze Runner).

Yet we know that death is a very real possibility in our daily lives. Characters have physical and mental illnesses and they die or take their own lives. It’s a tough reality but it’s still heartbreaking when it happens, especially when it happens more quickly or to a different character than you expected (like Augustus in The Fault in Our Stars). That’s why I think a lot of teens like realistic fiction because it doesn’t lie or mislead, the truth is there in all of its starkness and finality – like it or not. There’s a catharsis that the reader experiences in going through what the character does. You’ve survived at the end, even though the character hasn’t, even if you do have a headache from crying your eyes out over their death.

Maybe we as readers have we gone soft in always expecting characters to survive? Supernatural fantasies may use reanimation to being characters back to life that really should be dead but what about other dystopian books that realistically portray the reality of a cruel, hard world where few will survive? Is it really fair to expect authors to keep characters alive because they don’t want to anger or disappoint their fans? I don’t think it is.

If you want to read a great teen guest Hub blog post about getting over a fictional character’s death from 2014, check this out. Up to this point, I’ve tried hard not to blatantly include spoilers of some readers’ favorite characters who have been killed off, including my own favorites, but now I’m going to be specific.

Stop reading if you don’t want to know!


I know I’m not alone in having too many books to read and therefore not ever getting around to reading all the books in some popular trilogies. I had not read Allegiant by Veronica Roth until recently, and, somehow, had no idea what fate awaited the major characters. I was just as shocked and upset as the fans who read the book when it originally came out that Roth killed Tris (and of course, wasn’t happy about Will’s death either, but that’s easier to understand).

I think that’s one of the few instances I know of where an author was forced to defend her reasons for doing so in print. Roth spoke out on her personal webpage and to about the overwhelmingly negative reaction to her third Divergent book – and it marked the first time Roth ever talked to the media about major plot points in any of her novels. When she was asked, “Why did she have to die?” Roth said to MTV:

“It’s actually been set up that way. At the end of the first book she almost experiences death … and she sort of plays around with the idea of self-sacrifice…. In the second book the same thing happens …. In the third book, she learns what it actually means to sacrifice yourself. It has to be necessary; it has to be out of love. And to me it was her finally understanding what her parents were trying to teach her in Abnegation,” she added.”  Go to her blog for a longer explanation.

It might also explain why Roth’s Divergent and Insurgent were “Teens Top Ten Picks” but not Allegiant.

Although I was heartbroken by Tris’s death, I understand the reasoning behind it, and am resigned to it, but like so many others, wonder if they’ll change it in the movie. (I’m not ashamed to admit I really liked the films made so far based on Roth’s books).

Another death that hit me hard was Daniel from Susan Dennard’s Strange and Ever After (Something Strange and Deadly Trilogy Series #3). If you like Dennard’s most recent novel Truthwitch, you might want to read her earlier series. Eleanor is a Spirit-Hunter in 1850s England who has lost just about everything – her family, her friends and her ancestral home. And now, her friend Jie is missing. To get her back, Eleanor travels to nineteenth-century Egypt. While there, she has to learn to control her growing magical power, face her feelings for fellow-spirit hunter Daniel, and confront the evil necromancer Marcus–all before it’s too late. The price she pays is unimaginably high – Daniel’s death.

Tommy Wallach’s We All looked Up is about the lives of four high school seniors that intersect in the weeks before a meteor is set to pass through Earth’s orbit, with a 66.6% chance of striking and destroying all life on the planet. One of the four teens, Peter, a smart, overachieving athlete, is beaten to death by his younger sister’s violent drug dealing boyfriend Bobo. Even though we know there’s a very real possibility that no one will survive the meteor crash, Peter’s death is still very shocking.

In Jillian Cantor’s Searching for Sky, a sort-of reverse dystopian book, Sky and River have grown up together on a deserted island where they live with Sky’s mother and River’s father. Now both of the parents are dead, and while Sky is quite content with their life, River wants to be rescued and returned to civilization. A ship does come, and the two are taken to California to be reunited with their families. Sky does not adjust well to her new environment – with such strange things as cars and cell phones. She longs to reunite with River to return to the island but tragically, River is shot and dies.

Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood by Benjamin Alire Saenz takes place in the Vietnam era and features Sammy, who lives in a poor, Chicano, small-town New Mexico barrio. His mother’s dead but he has a caring father. Sammy falls in love with Juliana, a girl living in a nightmare of domestic abuse. We, the readers, and Sammy, are heartbroken when her alcoholic father murders her entire family. Sammy grieves, and in his grief, the memory of Juliana becomes his guide through this difficult year. This is one of first books I read where a major character dies and I still remember how upset it made me.

In Andrea Cremer’s Bloodrose: A Nightshade Novel, Calla has never shied away from battle or her role as Alpha among her pack, a group of wolf-human hybrids called the Guardians. She has brought her old lover Ren home to keep him safe only to face the wrath of her current lover Shay. Only once everyone is together—Ren, Shay, Adene, the pack and the Searchers (humans who have fought the Guardians until recently)—can they truly begin to fight the Keepers—the evil masters of this world. Ren dies in this last book in the series. Many readers were really upset about this because he seemed to be sacrificed for the sake of making Calla end up with Shay, and not to further the plot.

Joseph Brook looks like an average eighth-grader at Eastham Middle School, but he’s not, in Gary Schmidt’s Orbiting Jupiter. He became a father at age 13, spent time in juvie, and has an abusive father. Living with Jack’s family on their Maine farm could mean a normal life for him, but he is obsessed with finding Jupiter, the daughter he’s not allowed to see. Tragically, Joseph dies before he ever gets that chance. His is one of the most heartbreaking fates of any character I’ve read in a long time.

These deaths are all the more meaningful because of the sacrifice they’ve made for others. You may not like it, and you might want to throw the book again a wall, but in the end, it’s fitting, as long as it makes sense to the plot. There are books where deaths occur that don’t advance the plot, but are just there to make the story tie up nicely and in a more convenient way (usually in the case of love triangles). You don’t usually see this in well-written books because the authors’ have really have thought long and hard about their character’s story arcs.

What are some of your favorite characters who you hated to see die in YA books?

Sharon Rawlins, currently reading Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Mist and Fury and listening to 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith

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This Is Where YALSA Gets Really Interesting!

Tue, 06/21/2016 - 07:00

Did you know that YALSA has Interest Groups?

Well, technically, YALSA has just two interest groups : Teen Mental Health, convened by Meaghan Hunt-Wilson, and the Washington DC Metro Area, convened by Carrie Kausch. But next week at the ALA Annual Conference, the YALSA Board will be discussing the revitalization of interest groups. The possibilities for interest groups topics are as vast and varied as the teens we work with. As evidenced by the interest groups listed above, the focus can be a specific issue, or it can be the virtual meeting space for a geographical area, or something completely different that falls under the banner of young adult library services.

Personally, I think forming interest groups is ideal for members with an affection for specific collection development topics. These could be the hot topics of the day, such as an interest group that promotes diversity in library materials, or an ageless topic, such as interest groups that suggest good books for class discussions. Although YALSA creates wonderful lists and chooses literary awards each year, there’s still so much left to explore.

Take graphic novels, for example. YALSA compiles an annual list of noteworthy graphic novels published over the previous 15 months, called Great Graphic Novels for Teens. Perhaps an interest group focusing on graphic novels may be more interested in creating topical lists, or grade level recommendations. Interest groups are member-driven and flexible, very different from YALSA committees that must be aligned with the objectives of the strategic plan.

Some ideas for collection-related interest groups:

  • Picture books for teens
  • LBGT memoirs
  • Paranormal romances with diverse characters
  • Civil War materials
  • Adult horror with crossover appeal
  • Poetry
  • Career readiness resources
  • YA book blogs
  • Classic audiobooks
  • Westerns
  • digital resources
  • special circulating collections, like maker kits

For information about starting an interest group, read these FAQ.

Want to learn more about the revitalization of YALSA Interest Groups? The YALSA Board will be discussing this topic, among others, at the ALA Annual Conference in Orlando on Sunday, June 26, from 4:30 – 5:30pm, Convention Center Room W234. All YALSA Board meetings are open to all conference attendees.

— Diane Colson, currently reading an advance reader’s copy of Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven.

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What Problems Do You Want to Solve? Using Literature to Discuss Child Exploitation

Mon, 06/20/2016 - 07:00

Ask About What?

We have all met students who we know are destined to go on and do great things because of deep empathy for others or their leadership skills. And as graduation season wraps up for colleges and high schools across the country, I have been inspired to change my conversation with students in my high school after a slide shared at a conference went viral a while back.

“Don’t ask kids what they want to be when they grow up but what problems do they want to solve. This changes the conversation from who do I want to work for, to what do I need to learn to be able to do that.” (Casap)  

I spend more time now talking with students about things they want to change or issues that they see and how they are feeling and thought it would be good to visit the topic of child exploitation. It’s more than just an awareness, but how choices they’re making are a part of a global community. How is that coffee farmed in your Dunkin Donuts cup? Where are those Nikes made on your feet and how much do they pay their employees?

It can start with a discussion over one of these titles that features children being exploited: sexually, physically, or psychologically.

Discussing It Through Literature 

The Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan

Amadou and Seydou are brought to work on a cacao farm while being starved, beaten, and punished, unable to escape the devastation with little hope of escape until Khadija, abducted from her mother’s home provides the strength to try after a traumatic injury threatens the youngest boy’s life.

Breaking Free: True Stories of Girls Who Escaped Modern Slavery by Abby Sher

The nonfiction titles showcases diverse stories related to trafficking for labor or sex. Inspiring stories that graphically detail their struggles in 2014.

Counting on Grace by Elizabeth Winthrop

Set in 1910 in Vermont, it features the Child Labor Board investing the crime of child labor in a factory where Grace meets the famous advocate Lewis Hine.

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

This well-read title features Esperanza who during the Great Depression has left their house in Mexico to find day-labor jobs in California in which her family faces discrimination and financial trouble.

Factory Girl by Barbara Greenwood

This nonfiction title features the Acme Garment Factory and the interwoven fictional tale of a girl named Emily who works eleven hours a day in the warehouse clipping threads featuring the plight of all types of child labor and the social conditions related to this labor.

The Queen of Water by Laura Resau

Based on a true story, this novel is about Virginia, who is taken to a mestizo family’s home to be their indentured servant in Ecuador where she suffers unspeakable horrors.

Sold by Patricia McCormick

This contemporary classic showcases sex trafficking in India when Lakshmi from Nepal is brought to a brothel where she must endure to survive in the hopes of being rescued or escaping.

Traffick by Ellen Hopkins

With five narrators in the story, Traffick features male and female teenagers and their sexual exploitation at the hands of adults.

A Walk Across the Sun by Corban Addison

Set in Mumbai, two sisters who are orphaned and homeless are abducted and taken to the brothels and hope that Thomas Clarke, a foreigner can save them in time to save them from this fate.

Now What?

During these book discussions, facts can be gathered from the United States Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and UNICEF. And sometimes it’s best to start with current articles and new stories like the Ohio mother who is accused of offering her eleven year old daughter to drug dealers in exchange for heroin to feed her addiction. In the article it specifically mentions a problem with child trafficking in their area and visits by Homeland Security.

Evident in this story is an addiction to drugs. In our area alone, there have been multiple overdose deaths in the last two years leading communities and schools to host presenters, survivors, and family of these loved ones discussing both the drug but also the consequences that usually coincide.

So it might be a start to put up a display or highlight books that feature storylines of child exploitation, but it would be another to discuss the books and what the average student can do to change this, while they’re still in high school, but also in what problems that they see that they’d like to solve. Think about this the next time you’re having a conversation with any teenager. Don’t ask what they’re going to study or what they want to be, ask them what problems they see and how they’d like to solve them.


Alicia Abdul, currently reading A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry

The post What Problems Do You Want to Solve? Using Literature to Discuss Child Exploitation appeared first on The Hub.

We Love a Good Summer Read

Mon, 06/20/2016 - 07:00

Summer is a fantastic time for reading. Even if you do not take a vacation out of town or have time off work, there is something about the season that lends itself to setting aside time for a few special books. I’ve mentioned before that planning my summer reading is an important process for me and I reached out to others who are equally enthusiastic. Today, four bloggers are sharing our plans for summer reading. Get your TBR lists ready because you’re bound to find something to look into here!

Dawn Abron
Dawn decided to go with a theme for her summer reading this year.

The Summer of Sequels

  • Ghostly Echos by William Ritter
  • The King Slayer by Virginia Boecker
  • The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
  • The Inquisition by Taran Matharu
  • Aerie by Maria Dahvana Headley
  • Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  • A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
  • Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard
  • A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Alicia Abdul
Alicia has arranged a collection of summer reads that range from newly-released short stories to centuries-old plays.

  • Broken Crowns by Lauren DeStefano
  • Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins
  • The Crown by Kiera Cass
  • Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (2015 Alex Award winner)
  • Mirror in the Sky by Aditi Khorana
  • Never Ever by Sara Saedi
  • The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
  • Traitor Angels by Anne Blankman
  • Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz
  • The Thousand and One Nights
  • A few Shakespeare plays, including A Winter’s Tale
  • A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry
  • Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

Sharon Rawlins
Sharon called in a canine companion to keep her company while she tackles these two recent releases.

  • A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
  • The Sleeping Prince by Melinda Salisbury

Jessica Lind
I’ve organized my reading around my vacation in Florida, time at home in Russia, and the hours of flights in between.

Share your reading plans for this summer in the comments – we’re always looking for recommendations!

If you need a few more ideas, be sure the check out this list of summer-themed reads featuring women in comics and the Hub Challenge (even though it ends in a few days, it is a great resource for lists of and feedback on recent award winners).

— Jessica Lind, currently reading one of my SPb summer picks, SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki

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The History of YA: World History Through YA Fiction

Fri, 06/17/2016 - 07:00

We’ve all been there. A teen visits your desk with a WWII request and when you hand them The Book Thief, you are met wide eyes and the question, “Do you have anything smaller?”  You think you’ve found the perfect book and hand them Number the Stars and this time you are met with a face of disgust and “I don’t like that cover; that looks old.” Where are all the historical fiction books that teens will want to read?  Your wishes have been granted because YA historical fiction has come a long way in recent years.  Authors are blending historical fiction with the paranormal, science fiction, Shakespeare, and assassin nuns.

Below is a list of historical fiction titles that will not only make teens do their own research, they will make you a reader’s advisory superstar!


336 BC

A reimagining of Alexander the Great where seven people have secrets and missions.


Hope’s mother has died and her father ships her off to an aunt she’s never met in Scotland.  After only a couple of hours in Scotland, Hope learns that she comes from a family of time travelers and she must help stop their nemesis.

Botille and her sisters are trying to live a quiet life in 13th century France when she helps a heretic fugitive with mythical powers.  With the church investigating the mythical stranger, Botille and her family have a difficult choice-believe or not believe in Dolssa.

Abandoned by her home, Wallachia and father, Lada and Radu fight for survival as they are raised by the Ottoman courts.  While set on revenge, Lada and Radu find love and friendship in Mehmen the future ruler of the empire they are trained to fight.

  • Grave Mercy by Robin Lefavers

Isme bears the mark of death and no man will have her except a disgusting man her father forces her to marry.  After escaping her abusive husband, Isme finds safety at a convent of assassin nuns where she learns about her mark and how to serve her true father, the God of Death.


Samantha Mather is a descendant of the Salem Witch hunters and when she moves to Salem Massachusetts, she becomes the classmate of the descendants of those who were accused and hanged for being witches.  In addition to her new classmates, Sam’s house is haunted by a ghost from the witch trials and she finds out she is cursed.  She must work with her classmates to break the curse.

What was Blackbeard, the pirate, like as a teenager?  Blackhearts imagines Blackbeard as a teen as he falls in love with Anne, his father’s bi-racial servant.

The day before Lady Helen is to be presented to the queen, her housemaid mysteriously disappears.  While trying to find her maid, Helen finds herself in the bowls of the London underground and it’s many supernatural beings.

Lee has a gift; she can sense gold.   When a family tragedy arises, Lee heads to California during the height of the gold rush.

During the midst of the American Civil War, Catrina finds an amnesic man in her fields.  After falling in love, Catrina and Stonefield want to escape the war torn south and her over protective brother but when Stonefield regains his memory, decisions must be made and sides must be taken.

Audrey is a respectable Victorian lady by day and a forensic scientist at night and when mutilated corpses begin to show up in her uncle’s lab, Audrey finds herself in the middle of England’s most notorious serial killer.


Thrown out of her private school and shunned by her father for painting nude boys, Vicky finds a new cause, help women attain the right to vote.

Hanalee, the daughter of a white mother, is mourning the death of her black father when his accused murderer is released from jail.  After claiming his innocence, Joe informs Hanalee that her father was murdered.  During her quest to find her father’s murderer, Hanalee must deal with her strange step father, the rise of the Klu Klux Klan, and her forbidden feelings for a white boy.

It’s near the end of WWII and four refugees travel on foot during January to board the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship bound for safety. This is the story of the lesser known tragedy of the Wilhelm Gustloff.

On the middle of the integrated south two girls, one white and one black, find themselves classmates and close friends.

Against her parent’s wishes, JJ interns as a songwriter instead of attending law school.  During the summer of ’63, midst civil unrest and the Kennedy Administration, she suddenly finds herself in a middle of a murder mystery.

1971-The Future

During the heatwave of the summer of ’77, Nora has major decisions to make-what to do with the rest of her life.  Her father has moved on to a better family, her brother is mentally declining, and she’s falling in love during the women’s rights movement, black power, and the summer of a serial killer-Sam Berkowitz.

Greta and her mother live on the communist side of the Berlin wall while her father and brother live on the west side and cannot return home.  When Greta’s father sends her a message to escape to the west side through a tunnel beneath the wall, Greta and her family must risk their lives to be reunited.

Maggie’s mother has remarried and moved  her family to Ireland.  A sudden death in her family encourages Maggie to drop everything and to go see Nirvana play one of their last performances in Rome.

The lives of three teens are forever affected by the September 11 terrorist attacks.

In a futuristic London, the printing press was never invented and therefore reproductions cannot be made.  Because the library has the only copy of every book ever made, a librarian is the most important job in the world.  Jess is gifted and goes to Alexandra to train to be a librarian.  Soon Jess finds himself in a war between knowledge an life.

Printable PDF of Booklist (11×17)

Dawn Abron is Currently Reading-A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

The post The History of YA: World History Through YA Fiction appeared first on The Hub.

#HubChallenge Twitter Chat June 15th at 7 pm CST

Tue, 06/14/2016 - 12:39

We’ve had such a great time discussing all the titles from the awards and selected lists during this year’s Hub Challenge, Hub bloggers wanted to invite all the participants (and anyone who has read the eligible titles) to chat about them on twitter tomorrow, June 15th, at 7 pm CST.

I’ll be moderating the discussion (@molly_wetta) and you can join in by following the hashtag #hubchallenge. We recommend participating through an application like Tweetdeck or Tweetchat to follow the hashtag. Check out these tips on participating if you’re new to twitter chats

Q1: Introduce yourself (name, location, job function, or whatever you feel like sharing).

Q2: What was your favorite book you read for the 2016 #hubchallenge?

Q3: What was the book most out of your comfort zone?

Q4: What book are you most excited to recommend to teens?

Q5: Did you try any new formats as part of the challenge? (audiobooks, manga, graphic novels)

Questions? Let me know! Hope to see you on Twitter tomorrow night.

— Molly Wetta, currently reading The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

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Podcasts: Resources for Listening and Recording

Mon, 06/13/2016 - 07:00

It started with an addiction tothe Serial podcast hosted by Sarah Koenig created by those of This American Life. It was a true-crime story of the murder of a high school girl in 1999 in Baltimore. The presumed killer is her ex-boyfriend. Over the course of each episode, Koenig’s voice pulls listeners into the story, only to have to wait for the next installment. But it’s better than waiting a year or more for your favorite series book to come out. That’s the best part of podcasting, there can be a quicker turnaround than the process of publishing a book. And with the right tools, any teen can create a podcast and any youth services librarian can help with it. 

The addiction to Serial then led to the second season about Bowe Bergdahl and wanting to hear more. Sometimes there isn’t time to watch and listen, you just want to listen: while running, while doing a mundane task, while riding public transportation. So I wanted a place that was able to pull these podcasts together on my device, so I downloaded Stitcher, an app that provides “radio on demand”, allowing you to add podcasts to your playlist, listening now or later, with my new favorite being The Moth Radio Hour, which has helped scientists map out the brain in this article by the LA Times. Others include Radiolab or iTunes or directly on sites where you can listen from your PC or  that provide the RSS like NPR.  

The suggestion like getting your feet wet with Twitter is that you lurk for a while. So queue up podcasts that interest you, whether it’s fitness tips from personal trainers to new TED talk topics, see what’s out there. Really listen to them. What do you like about the broadcast? Does it have some great theme music or does the person have a fantastic voice that is slow enough to understand? Does the podcast interview others or is it one person talking? Does it seem like it has a focus or is it unscripted? When I was listening, I would think about whether I could create a podcast and would anyone listen? What would I talk about? If you already know the answers to these questions, get started with your teens. It might be that you’re creating a new avenue for delivering school news and information and the podcast is created weekly by teen journalists. Or maybe your teen book group just finished reading dystopian novels and want to review their favorites.

There are plenty of articles and blog posts about podcasting with teens as a makerspace activity or providing an avenue to listen using School Library Journal’s curated list of teen-friendly podcasts. When you and your teens are ready, YALSA created a Tune In tip sheet in 2008 during Teen Tech Week. And easy access to places like Garageband and Audacity to do the recording and within many of the applications for creating audio content, the ability to host and then share them makes it a tool that gives teens a voice. And they’re in charge of the process, whether they’re recording individually by hosting their own spots of favorite music or musings or whether they’re working collaboratively on a review of new dystopian releases by interviewing each other, adults can provide guidance and recommendations without having to control the entire process.  

In our high school library, we’re not quite ready to be creating original content for a podcast, but we’re certainly adding podcasts to our recommended summer learning resources. In the future, I imagine a group of teens providing book recommendations and programming advertisements for our mountain of activities throughout the year, but who knows? At least I know how we’ll be able to get started, in the meantime, I’m enjoying listening to others creating rich content that suits my interests that I can also share with teens in the library.

Have you been successful with teens in creating podcasts? Hosting a podcast listening program? Do you curate podcast recommendations for teens? Share your experiences and ideas! 

— Alicia Abdul, currently reading The Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan

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2016 Hub Challenge Check-in #20

Sun, 06/12/2016 - 07:00

Not signed up yet – there’s still time! –  for YALSA’s 2016 Hub Reading Challenge? Read the official rules and sign up on the original post. Anything you’ve read since the awards were announced counts, and the challenge runs until 11:59pm EST on June 23, so sign up now!

Hey Hub Challengers, we’re getting down to the last days of the challenge. There’s only 11 days left to read all the books on the awesome list so if you’re just starting you only need to read about 2 books a day and you’ll make it. Totally doable, right?

I’m currently away from the internet in the woods – this post has been magically posted through the power of planning and blog scheduling – so I’ve got a big stack of comics here to keep me company. I’ve bought Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans, as well as some favorite that made the list to read: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Lumberjanes, and Ms. Marvel. I’m so happy that that three comics have gotten so much attention and love from critics and readers a like. They all feature strong, endearing, hilarious, and honestly inspiring women and girls. These are the heroes – or SHEroes – that I want to read about. They all have their own struggles, triumphs, and really care about their friends.

Honestly, I kind of wish Kamala, Doreen, and all the Lumbjane campers were my friends in real life!

What are your last minute Hub Challenge reads or the books you’re reading again because you love them so much?

-Anna Tschetter, currently reading The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood


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Notes from a Teens Top Ten Book Group Member: Heir to the Sky Fantasy Casting

Sat, 06/11/2016 - 07:00

Teens across the nation vote each year for the Teens’ Top Ten book list and the results are eagerly anticipated during Teen Read Week in October– but did you know how the books are nominated for this list in the first place?

Books are nominated by members of Teens’ Top Ten book groups in school and public libraries around the country. To give you a glimpse of some of the teens behind this process, we’re featuring posts from Teens’ Top Ten book groups here on The Hub. Today we have a fantasy cast list for Amanda Sun’s Heir to the Sky (May 2016) created by Carmen Baker.

Publisher’s description:

As heir to a kingdom of floating continents, Kali has spent her life bound by limits—by her duties as a member of the royal family, by a forced betrothal to the son of a nobleman, and by the edge of the only world she’s ever known—a small island hovering above a monster-ridden earth, long since uninhabited by humans. She is the Eternal Flame of Hope for what’s left of mankind, the wick and the wax burning in service for her people, and for their revered Phoenix, whose magic keeps them aloft.

When Kali falls off the edge of her kingdom and miraculously survives, she is shocked to discover there are still humans on the earth. Determined to get home, Kali entrusts a rugged monster-hunter named Griffin to guide her across a world overrun by chimera, storm dragons, basilisks, and other terrifying beasts. But the more time she spends on earth, the more dark truths she begins to uncover about her home in the sky, and the more resolute she is to start burning for herself.

Lily Collins as Kali

Lily Collins looks like the girl on the cover and she looks the most like how I imagined Kali would look.


Alexander Ludwig as Griffin

He looks a lot like the character in the book. He is strong and funny like the character in the book.



Neil Flynn as Kali´s Father, the Monarch

Neil Flynn has a very fatherly look to him and he is what I pictured when I read the book.


Dakota Fanning as Elisha, Kali’s Best friend

She is blonde like how Elisha is in the book and she is a really good actress.


Logan Lerman as Jonash, Kali’s fiance

He looks like he could be royalty and also that you could trust him very much even if you can’t.


Keke Palmer as Aliyah, Griffin’s sister

Keke Palmer is exactly what I envisioned when I pictured Griffin’s sister. They have the same strong independent attitude.


Cara Delevingne as Sayrah, Aliyah’s friend

She could play the timid but joyful role in this movie because she is a great actress.


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