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Your Connection to Teen Reads
Updated: 11 hours 51 min ago

Realistically Speaking! New & Upcoming Realistic YA Fiction for Your Spring Reading

Fri, 03/20/2015 - 07:00

Happy March, dear Hubbers! I’m trying to think of something fun and pithy to say about March, but, alas, I can think of nothing. So, let’s get to the main topic at hand – ALA Midwinter. Yes, I know Midwinter has been over for a month now, but I had put off so much work at my library preparing for Midwinter (shh – don’t tell my boss!) that when I came back, I was like, “uh, I have a ton of stuff to do.” Well, most of that “ton of stuff” is done, so I was finally able to dive in to a few of the ARCs that I brought home with me from Chicago.

As always, there are some great new and upcoming teen reads that I hope you will check out and recommend to teens! From a finale in a two-book series (a two-book series – I haven’t seen one of those in forever!) to ballerinas at each other’s throats to sisters and the complicated relationship they have, readers will have plenty to choose from in the upcoming months. One thing I will say that’s not related – I just finished Noggin by John Corey Whaley (I know, I know – I’m behind), and wow, did I love that book! I almost thought about sneaking it in this list, but I’m sure I would have been caught! Ha! Anyways…here we go…first up: something I know a lot about – sisters!

Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver: As someone who has two older sisters, I understand the deep and complicated relationship that sisters can have. And, finding out that Lauren Oliver, author of some of my favorite books (Before I Fall can still make me cry like a baby), had written a book about two sisters and their relationship before and after a major accident, I knew I had to find it one way or the other. Well, I did find it, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. Sisters Dara and Nick are just a couple of years apart and were totally joined at the hip before; now, after – after a horrible accident that left Dara’s face and psyche scarred, Nick wonders if they will ever go back to the way things were before. Just when Nick swallows her pride and reaches out to her sister, Dara suddenly disappears on her birthday and Nick knows she has to find Dara before it’s too late. A great book of that complicated love between sisters as well as an edge of your seat mystery & thriller that will keep readers guessing until the explosive ending!!

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen: If you follow Sarah Dessen on Twitter, you’ve seen how she had started a book, and then had to scrap it after not being able to finish it. It was tough reading her struggle knowing that she had so many great books left to write; that this was just an anomaly. And, lo and behold – she wrote Saint Anything, a touching book about Sydney and her struggle to become visible. Her brother Peyton was always the one being watched, being noticed and looked at. The one being charming and praised near and far. But, suddenly his behavior starts to change and now he’s in jail serving time after he drove drunk and crippled a young teenager. Sydney doesn’t know where she fits in the world without his overwhelming presence in her life so she leaves her private school behind and starts public school for the first time. It’s there she meets the Chatham family, and they are everything she wants her family to be. But, they aren’t her family, and maybe her family needs her, too. Obvs, I love Sarah’s books, and this one is no exception. A great book with likeable, well-developed characters and an interesting plot that will get readers hooked from the very first page.

The Good Girls by Sara Shepard: Remember my post from a few months ago when I went on and on about The Perfectionists? It was the first book in a supposed 2-book series by Pretty Little Liars author Sara Shepard. I (good-naturedly) never believe it when they say it’s going to be a limited book series, and this time was no exception. I thought – 2 book series? Who even does those anymore? Well, Sara Shepard does! And, boy did I suddenly realize how much I missed reading a series where’s there’s only the original and the sequel! The second and final book in The Perfectionists series is The Good Girls, and it picks up right where the first book left off. The basic story is: there’s five high school senior girls. They hate this horrible dude at their school who has terrorized and blackmailed them all, so they talk (abstractly) about killing him in class one day. Of course, they don’t – they just scribble horrible things on his face with a Sharpie at a party. The problem is…he ends up dead anyways…the exact same way they said they were going to kill him. As if things couldn’t get any worse for the group, then, other enemies of theirs start dying, and the girls start wondering who’s next and who is setting them up. This second book is just as thrilling and exciting as the first. So, if you like mysteries and totally surprise endings, make sure to check out this series – you’ll be thinking about it for days after you finish it!!

Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton: Remember that ballet movie Center Stage that starred Zoe Saldana? Maybe you do and maybe you don’t, but I really loved it when it came out. I was fascinated by the ballet world, and this movie was just like a 2-hour soap opera. Well, Tiny Pretty Things is my new Center Stage, but better! There are three ballerinas at the American Ballet Conservatory that are all fighting to be the prima ballerina – Gigi, Bette and June. All of them have secrets that could totally ruin their chance not to mention they don’t like each other and each girl wants the glory all for herself. From backstabbing to heart defects to a former ballerina who left after being bullied by mysterious forces, Tiny Pretty Things is a fun and fast read that will appeal to mystery lovers, ballet aficionados as well as readers who just want a good soapy read. And, if you think that because it’s about ballet, it’s a white-washed book, you’re wrong. Authors Sona and Dhonielle cofounded CAKE Literary, a book packaging company that specializes in diversity, and this book has a lot of diversity in its cast which I greatly appreciated. AND…the cliffhanger of an ending will keep readers clamoring for the sequel because it is a doozy!!

The Truth Commission by Susan Juby: I love this book because it is written with footnotes. And, I absolutely love footnotes; it’s like you’re in a secret private conversation with the author that’s just between the two of you. The book is also written in the style of “narrative nonfiction” by the protagonist of our story – Normandy Pale – as a school assignment. Normandy and her friends Dusk and Neil have decided to become The Truth Commission – they are determined to bring truth into the world, so they decide each week each of them will ask someone else for the truth. Normandy decides to document this process for her Spring Special Project, and she thinks that it’s pretty straightforward, but then someone mentions that if Normandy wants the truth, she might want to look at her own house. Normandy’s famous sister, famous for writing a comic book series that looks very familiar to their family, is suddenly back home and not talking about something that happened to her while she was at college. Instead of looking for the truth in the world, Normandy realizes that she might need to get the truth from the 1 person who she doesn’t want it from. Look – I just love footnotes, and that’s what sold me. That and the fact that this is a fun book, that’s written in a different format that immediately caught my attention and kept me engaged until the end. A fun read that I think would appeal to fans of The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy (like me!!)

Well, that’s it, Hubbers! I am just loving all these standalone realistic fiction books that have been coming out (and I’m including The Good Girls, because 2 is only 1 more than 1 – ha!), and I hope you and your teens will, too! From mystery to thriller to Sarah Dessen (I guess I did have a pattern here even though I didn’t think I did!), readers looking for a way to read away these boring March and April days (are they boring – I guess I’m just waiting for the summer) will definitely find something that will keep them reading way past when the sun sets (which is later now! Yay!). Maybe I’ll institute footnotes in my next post…tune in next month and see!

Traci Glass, currently reading We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach

History Comes Alive in Graphic Novels!

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 07:00

I am loving all the graphic novels that are being published that focus on moments in history.  They are not just doing a textbook coverage of historical events, but they are personalizing the events and making them more real to readers.  Maybe that is the benefit of reading a graphic novel?  Things seem more real when they are represented both by text and by art.  Check out some of the graphic novels below that will take you on a trip, back in time!

Ancient History/Pre-Industrial Revolution (up to 1800s)

Evolution: the Story of Life on Earth by Jay Hosler, Kevin Cannon, and others (2012 Great Graphic Novels for Teens)

Industrial Revolution (1800-1900)

Around the World by Matt Phelan (2012 Great Graphic Novels for Teens)

The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam by Ann Marie Fleming (2008 Great Graphic Novels for Teens)

American History (1700-1900)

Lewis & Clark by Nick Bertozzi

One Dead Spy: the Life, Times, and Last Words of Nathan Hale, America’s Most Famous Spy by Nathan Hale (2013 Great Graphic Novels for Teens)

The United States Constitution: a Graphic Adaptation by Jonathan Hennessey, Aaron McConnell (2009 Great Graphic Novels for Teens)

Gettysburg: the Graphic Novel by C.M. Butzer (2010 Great Graphic Novels for Teens)

Grant vs. Lee: the Graphic History of the Civil War’s Greatest Rivals During the Last Year of the War by Wayne Vansant

Best Shot in the West: the Adventures of Nat Love by Patricia C. McKissack, Fredrick L. McKissack Jr., Randy DuBurke

Donner Dinner Party by Nathan Hale (2014 Great Graphic Novels for Teens)

Houdini: the Handcuff King by Jason Lutes, Nick Bertozzi (2008 Great Graphic Novels for Teens

World War I (1914-1918) through the 1920s

Above the Dreamless Dead: World War I in Poetry and Comics edited by Chris Duffy (2015 Great Graphic Novels for Teens)

World War One: 1914-1918: the War to End All Wars written by Alan Cowsill, Lalit Kumar Sharma

The Harlem Hellfighters by Max Brooks, Caanan White

Big Jim: Jim Larkin and the 1913 Lockout by Rory McConville, Paddy Lynch

Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey by Nick Bertozzi (2015 Great Graphic Novels for Teens)

The Great Depression (1930s)

The Great American Dust Bowl by Don Brown (2015 Great Graphic Novels for Teens)

World War II (1939-1945)

The Boxer: The True Story of Holocaust Survivor Harry Haft by Reinhard Kleist (2015 Great Graphic Novels for Teens)

Bombing Nazi Germany: the Graphic History of the Allied Air Campaign that Defeated Hitler in World War II by Wayne Vansant

Trinity: a Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm (2013 Great Graphic Novels for Teens)

Showa: a History of Japan, 1926-1939Showa: a History of Japan, 1939-1944; and Showa: a History of Japan, 1944-1953 by Shigeru Mizuki

Post-Modern Era (1950-2000)

The Silence of Our Friends by Mark Long, Jim Demonakos, Nate Powell

March: Book 1 and Book 2 by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell (2014 Great Graphic Novels for Teens)

Malcolm X: a Graphic Biography by Andrew Helfer, Randy DuBurke (2008 Great Graphic Novels for Teens)

The Warren Commission Report by Dan Mishkin, Ernie Colón, Jerzy Drozd

21: the Story of Roberto Clemente by Wilfred Santiago (2012 Great Graphic Novels for Teens)

T-Minus: The Race to the Moon by Jim Ottaviani, Zander Cannon, Kevin Cannon

The Photographer by Emmanuel Guibert (2010 Great Graphic Novels for Teens)

Hip Hop Family Tree, Vol. 1: 1970s-1981 and Vol. 2: 1981-1983 by Ed Piskor

The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Peter Sis (2008 Great Graphic Novels for Teens)

21st Century (2000-present)

Pyongyang: a Journey in North Korea by Guy Delisle (2007 Great Graphic Novels for Teens)

A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge by Josh Neufeld (2010 Great Graphic Novels for Teens)

The 9/11 Report by Sid Jacobson, Ernie Colon (2007 Great Graphic Novels for Teens)

–Colleen Seisser, currently reading The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

Jukebooks: We Can Work It Out by Elizabeth Eulberg

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 07:00

Now that the Lonely Hearts Club has expanded to almost thirty girls, Penny Lane finds her enthusiasm for the club waning. Sure, it would never had happened if Penny had not started the club herself, building on the successful theme of girl empowerment. Who needs a guy to make them happy? Then Penny meets Ryan. Things get awkward. No longer lonely, Penny’s clout with her girls diminishes.

As a follow-up to Eulberg’s The Lonely Hearts Club, this novel is also brimming with references to Beatles songs. Sections are introduced with a Beatles lyric, such as, “If I love you, please don’t hurt my pride,” from “If I Fell,” a beautiful example of Fab Four harmony. But the Beatles went in so many interesting directions with their music that I was reluctant to highlight one more pretty song. So instead, we’ll go with a song from Abbey Road, “Carry That Weight.”

The song is part of a long medley that constitutes the flip side of Abbey Road. The songs, bits and pieces that have little relation to each other, are melded together wonderfully by the Beatles’ long time producer, George Martin. “Carry That Weight” was recorded along with the song that precedes it on the album, “Golden Slumbers.”

Below is a recording of “Golden Slumbers,” “Carry That Weight,” and the final song on that side of Abbey Road, “The End,” set to a photographic montage of the Beatles.

Diane Colson, currently reading an advance readers copy of Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge.

YA Lit with an Irish Connection

Tue, 03/17/2015 - 07:00

 

Slemish Mountain, the legendary home of St. Patrick. Photo by Flickr user Identity Chris Is

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! It is the feast day of the patron saint of Ireland. Patrick was not born in Ireland, but was taken captive by Irish pirates and made a slave. Although he eventually made his way home to Britain, he return to Ireland as a Christian missionary and is thought to have converted thousands of people. Using a shamrock as an illustration of the Christian Holy Trinity, “banishing” all snakes from the island, having his walking stick turned into a tree; the folklore and tales surrounding him forever tie Saint Patrick to Ireland. So on this, his celebratory day, how about considering some excellent Irish YA fiction? These books are set on The Emerald Isle and most are by Irish authors; try one or two to get a taste of great Irish literature.

Long Story Short by Siobhan Parkinson
Jono and Julie’s alcoholic mother is mostly useless when it comes to actually parenting, but Jono feels he and Julie are not doing too badly all in all. But when their mother hits Julie one day, Jono knows he must get the two of them out of there, away from the abuse and neglect, and far from child services who will separate them. Parkinson was Ireland’s first laureate for children’s literature. Her writing is exquisite and her storytelling masterful. Jono is not the most reliable of narrators; as he spins his tale, readers will be kept on their toes, and not just with worry for these two vulnerable kids.

The New Policeman by Kate Thompson (Best Books for Young Adults 2008)
There never seems to be enough time to do all the things you want to do. This seems especially true in Kinvara, Ireland where JJ lives with his family. After his mother wishes for more time, JJ learns about a portal to Tír na n’Óg, the Land of Youth, where time stands still. Could this be where all the lost time goes? JJ wants to make the journey there, but he learns that venturing into the faerie realms can be fantastic, but also dangerous. This novel is drenched in Irish culture and folklore. Pro tip: listen to the audio book if you can. The chapters are interspersed with bits of music from Irish folk songs!

The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley (2015 Printz Honor Book)
When her mother marries her boyfriend, Maggie is uprooted from her Chicago home and transplanted to Bray -a small seaside town in Ireland. She is far from everything she knows and loves, waiting for care packages of Americana from her uncle back in the states. Maggie struggles with her feelings of loss, with first love, with how much and how far to rebel. When her favorite band, Nirvana, comes to Europe, Maggie runs away to see them; away from family, and from Bray, and she runs away at the exact wrong time.

A Swift Pure Cry by Siobhan Dowd (Best Books for Young Adults 2008)
A beautifully written, heartrending book. After Shell’s mother dies, her father turns more and more to alcohol than to his family. Left to care for her younger siblings, Shell seeks consolation with both the new young priest in town and with a childhood friend, Declan. When Declan leaves for America, Shell discovers she is pregnant and as her fellow townsfolk are more want to gossip than help, she has no one to turn to. Readers may think they know where the story is heading, but Dowd is a talented, clever writer and she will surprise you.

Into the Grey by Celine Kiernan
A ghost story, a thriller, a very spooky horror novel, set in the 1970s Ireland. When their home and all they own burn in a fire set by their Nan, twins Patrick and Dom move to their family’s small, seaside vacation cottage with their parents and young sister. Everything is topsy turvy to begin with, but then the twins are haunted and Dom becomes possessed by a ghost. Patrick soon realizes this is not just trauma affecting his family’s emotions, this is a life or death situation that he and Dom must survive on their own.

~ Geri Diorio, currently reading Night Watch by Terry Pratchett

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