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Your Connection to Teen Reads
Updated: 2 hours 17 min ago

Spy Series for Mission Impossible Fans

Thu, 07/30/2015 - 07:00

With MI5: Rogue Nation opening this weekend, whether it’s books or movies, people are drawn to spy series. Here are a few contemporary series with tons of action that will entice fans of this movie – from some newer series to some old favorites in addition to Alex Rider and Gallagher Girls.

For Older Readers:
Devil’s Breath by David Gilman
After an assassin tries to kill him at his boarding school, Max realizes that his father is missing. When he receives a message from his father, he’s determined to locate him. He travels to Africa to uncover the truth.

I am the Weapon by Allen Zadoff (2014 Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers)
Boy Nobody blends perfectly into the background, making him perfect for a teen assassin. On his latest mission, he makes the cardinal mistake: don’t make friends. Now he has to decide between loyalty to the Program or loyalty to himself. He’s no longer sure of the Program’s mission and it could cost him his life. 

Model Spy by Shannon Greenland (2009 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults)
Kelly James helped the wrong person and her hacking skills have landed her into trouble – unless she agrees to join an agency. Without much of a choice, she packs her bags for training camp. Little does she know the entire plot was a set-up; the person she thought she was helping actually works for the agency.

Sure Fire by Jack Higgins and Justin Richards
Jade and Rich’s mother died, leaving them with a father they never knew. The twins know their father isn’t happy having them around, but they never imagined it’s because he’s a spy. Now he’s gone missing and it’s up to them to save him.

Younger Readers:
Double Vision by F.T. Bradley
Lincoln Baker can’t keep himself out of trouble. After everything goes wrong on a school field trip, he’s contacted by a secret government agency. Linc looks exactly like one of their field agents gone missing. The government offers him a deal – they will sweep away the trouble from the field trip if Linc finishes the mission.

Playing with Fire by Bruce Hale
After the latest disaster with his foster family, Max ends up at the Merry Sunshine Orphanage. It’s not long before he realizes that this is not like any other orphanage – it’s a school for spies. Just when he’s feeling comfortable in his new situation, a message appears from the father he thought was dead. Difficult choices are ahead for Max – dealing with family and loyalty.

Spy School by Stuart Gibbs
Ben would love to work for the CIA one day, he’s visited their site so many times. Unfortunately, he’s not the type that screams secret agent. He’s surprised to learn a spy school is interested in him – until he gets there and learns that he’s been mistaken for someone else. He doesn’t let that get him down and he’s not about to leave without a fight.

~ Jennifer Rummel currently reading Grace Cries Uncle by Julie Hyzy

Special Olympics, YA Lit Style!

Wed, 07/29/2015 - 07:00

Have you  been watching the Special Olympics? What an incredible group of athletes! It occurred to me that we might find some potential participants in young adult novels. Let’s see who might make it on the roster.

Like T. J. in Chris Crutcher’s Whale Talk (2002 Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults), we see the potential in Chris Coughlin.  After his training with the Cutter All Night Mermen, he’s ready to take on the the best.

Marcelo, title character of Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork (2010 Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults), has a summer job working with ponies. His ability to connect with these animals comes much easier to him than connecting with people. With the right opportunities, Marcelo could demonstrate a natural horsemanship.

Football (Soccer)
In Girls Like Us by Gail Giles (2015 Best Fiction for Young Adults), Quincy is a girl who was terribly injured by her mother’s boyfriend at the age of six, when he hit her on the head with a brick. Understandably, Quincy is dealing with plenty of aggression that she might well work off on the soccer field. As Quincy demonstrates with her cooking, she’s got a good sense for recognizing patterns and envisioning different variations. Sounds like she’s make a good strategist!

Billy D, a boy with Down Syndrome in Erin Jade Lange’s Dead Ends, displays an exceptionally running ability, especially when he’s chased by his pseudo-caretaker, Dane. If Dane can stand the training, Billy D could be able to cover the requisite 13.1 miles.

Colin Fischer by Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz is about the title character’s analytical expertise in crime solving. This exceptional ability to reason makes his adept at getting a basketball to swoosh through the hoop, but doesn’t help much when teammates push and jostle him. Work with Special Olympic trainers, however, could get Colin in fine shape to play on the team.

In Rules by Cynthia Lord, David’s father demonstrates how painful it can be for a boy with autism to learn a sport. David might do far better with someone who is trained to work with differently abled children. We’ll give him a few years with a good coach, and see if David can fill a spot on the softball team.

All icons obtained from the 2015 Special Olympics website:

-Diane Colson, currently reading an advanced readers copy of Immaculate by Katelyn Detweiler.

Anime Titles for Book Lovers to Watch this Summer

Tue, 07/28/2015 - 07:00

Just like YA literature, anime is broken into a slew of subgenres that focus on everything from high school swim teams to magical moon girls who save the world. If you are new to the genre or a dedicated fan, these shows and movies will help to get you through the slow days and hot nights of summer, so grab your cool drink of choice, kick off your sandals, and settle in for some boredom-killing summer anime!

  • Yona of the Dawn (Fantasy Action-Adventure)

The Kouka Kingdom is prosperous and quiet … at least on the surface. When Princess Yona discovers a bloody plot against her pacifist father, she must escape the palace with the help of  her childhood friend, the warrior Hak. Our princess starts off a bit bratty and cries quite a bit, so please give her a couple of episodes to recover from the events in the first story arc!

A great blend of action, fantasy, political intrigue, and just enough will-they won’t-they romance to grab your attention. The excellent fight scenes and the intense drama will keep your face attached to your screen until the end of the season.

You will love this series if you can’t get enough of:

Graceling by Kristin Cashore (2009 Best Books for Young Adults)

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults)



  • Chi’s Sweet Home (The Cute and the Cuddly)

A lost kitten finds a home with a new family, but their apartment doesn’t allow pets! Watching this small family fall in love with their new cat is as painfully adorable as you think it will be and as the series progresses, Chi makes new friends so the cast of characters expands to include many more animals and their people.

Each episode is only 3 minutes long, but there are 100+, so this show works as a quick watch while waiting in line for a concert or, if you watch a whole bunch in a row it could easily fill up a lazy afternoon. Chi is a kid friendly series, so it is a great title to watch if you are babysitting.

You will love this series if you can’t get enough of:

Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron

A Grumpy Books by Grumpy Cat (2014 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers)


  • Summer Wars (Science-Fiction)

Kenji has a summer job doing tech support for OZ, and is taking some time off to visit his crush’s family. He is flattered that she brought him, until she claims that they are engaged. Things go from bad to awful when a rogue AI is unleashed on the OZ system and Kenji is set up as the fall guy!

In the virtual word of OZ you can find anything and anyone. The platform’s instant translation, and immersive gaming have connected the world. Everyone’s on and off-line lives are saved on the OZ servers, so it is as if google, facebook, and world of warcraft merged into one gigantic company. Scary, right?

Even though the technology is a little old (the movie is from 2009 so there are a lot of flip phones on screen), the story is still makes sense and the pacing is fantastic. Take note: this is a feature film and the runtime is almost two hours, so make sure you build in enough time to watch the whole thing if you have made plans for later or are screening this for an anime club.

You will love this movie if you can’t get enough of:

Ender’s Game by 2008 Margaret A. Edwards Award winner Orson Scott Card

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang (2015 Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens, and mentioned in Women in Comics: Science Fiction 2015 JULY 10)

-Jennifer Billingsley, currently reading Ash by Malinda Lo

*fireworks photo courtesy of Hanna Wynne @

Chicago: Read Through the Windy City

Mon, 07/27/2015 - 07:00

Cloud Gate, aka “The Bean” in Millenium Park. Photo by Libby Gorman.

Our family vacation this year was a road trip from our home in Maryland to Chicago, so I thought it would be fun to find books with a connection to this famous metropolis.

Al Capone Does My Shirts, by Gennifer Choldenko (Best Book for Young Adults 2005, 2005 Audiobook for Young Adults). Although NOT set in Chicago, but rather on Alcatraz Island, near San Francisco, the title character was of course famous for his illegal rule of the Windy City. Since we had the fun of eating deep-dish pizza at The Exchequer, known for being one of Capone’s haunts, I couldn’t resist including this title. The story actually focuses on Moose, a twelve-year-old who’s forcibly moved to Alcatraz when his father takes on a guard job there, but the historical details provide some interesting insights on the era when Capone was active.

An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green (2007 Printz Honor Book). Ok, main character Colin Singleton starts this story by needing to get out of Chicago, after he’s dumped by his 19th girlfriend named Katherine. Still, between the road trip and the pictures of his early life around the University of Chicago, the book came to mind when I visited the city myself.

Divergent, by Veronica Roth (2012 Teens’ Top Ten, 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults). I admit it, I haven’t read this series yet. But now that I know it takes place not just in some abstract future, but in Chicago of the future, I will have to get started. If you are one of the few who, like me, haven’t read it yet, Divergent and its sequels follow the story of Tris, a girl who, on her sixteenth birthday decides to change her “faction” from Abnegation to Dauntless. Hunger Games-like tests follow, along with chilling revelations about her society. 

The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros (Outstanding Books for the College Bound, 1997 Popular Paperback for Young Adults). A short collection of vignettes follows Esperanza Cordero’s childhood in Chicago, her life in the house that her parents are very proud of, but that doesn’t feel like home to her. The stories read almost like poetry, and the descriptions are as vivid as a film clip.

Standing Against the Wind, by Traci L. Jones (2007 John Steptoe New Talent Award). This story follows Patrice, a young teen who is trying to get away from her inner-city Chicago life by winning a scholarship to a prestigious boarding school. Although it shows many of the difficulties that kids like Patrice face on a regular basis, it has a hopeful tone.

Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty, by G. Neri and illustrated by Randy DuBurke (2011 Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, 2011 Great Graphic Novel for Teens). This intense graphic novel gives a sadder picture of Chicago life, with the portrait of a real gang member (Roger “Yummy” Sandifer) who lived and died in the 1980s. The book portrays Yummy’s life from the point of view of a fictional neighbor, and it refuses to offer any pat answers to the tragedy of gang involvement.

I’m sure I’ve just scratched the surface of YA books that have a connection to Chicago. What have I missed that I should read right now?

Where have you traveled this summer, either in person or via literature? Please share in the comments below!

-Libby Gorman, currently reading The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen


The Monday Poll: Unrequited Crushes

Mon, 07/27/2015 - 00:17

Good morning, Hub readers!

Last week, we asked which unusual or distinctive name from YA lit you’d give your firstborn. We had a tie! Blue from The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater and Ismae from Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers both took in 25% of the vote. We had a great suggestion in the comments, too– Jennifer Billingsley reminded us about Sabriel! You can see detailed results for all of our previous polls in the Polls Archive. Thanks to all of you who voted and commented last week!

This week, we’re curious which unrequited crush from YA lit pulls on your heartstrings the most. Choose from the list below, or leave other ideas in the comments.

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


Have an Adventure This Summer (Or at Least Read About It)

Sat, 07/25/2015 - 07:00

Recently I watched a YouTube video about summer breaks and how as we get older or become increasingly busy, the 3 month hiatus from school becomes a thing of the past. In our teen years, summer is usually met with excitement and possibilities; possibilities of growing up and trying new things. One of the great ways to accomplish any and everything that you want to do for the summer is a Bucket List or Dream List or Wish List or whatever you want to call it. Some folks call it The Buried Life.

“Do one thing every day that scares you” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Words to live by, I think. Why? It’s daring. It’s fearless! (It’s Eleanor Roosevelt! She knows loads about being fearless- learn more about her.) It’s getting out in the world and making mistakes and getting messy, basically living life– and summer can help you get started, whether or not you have a summer vacation planned. So why not get started with a book, to you know, and get your ideas flowing.

Too soon? Not ready for the book recommendation? You want ideas first on having an awesome time during the summer? No problem.

  • Go camping (In the wilderness or in the park or even your backyard. If it’s raining, stay inside, still counts in my opinion)
  • Throw a big water park party in the park (You can have a water fight or even a carnival! Cools you off and you get to meet new people)
  • Try a new sport (I heard bubble soccer is huge)
  • Try a photograph challenge (You can try this or this)
  • Make a movie (Like Me and Earl and the Dying Girl)
  • Take a road trip with friends (Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour or Paper Towns)
  • Create a Summer Scavenger Hunt for your friends (Since You’ve Been Bone)
  • Summer festival
  • Sit under the night sky

Now that we have ideas, how about those book recommendations?

Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson (2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults)
Amy Curry isn’t a fan of driving or even ready to get behind the wheel of car since her father’s car accident. However, her mother, ready for a change of scenery has decided to move the family across the country and now Amy is saddled with the responsibility of getting their car from California to Connecticut. That’s where Roger comes in, an old family friend, who joins in on her road trip venturing into unknown territory and unknown past feelings for Amy.

Paper Towns by John Green
If you’ve been away or completely out of the loop, John Green’s book Paper Towns has been made into a movie. The book details Quentin Jacobsen’s mission to find Margo, the only girl he has ever loved his entire life, who happens to live next door. She reappears in his life asking him to come out for revenge settling fun night, only to disappear the next night leading Quentin to begin a search with help of his friends and little clues she has left.

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Emily’s summer isn’t starting how she originally thought it would be. Her best friend, the bubbly and energetic Sloane, is nowhere to be found and all of their summer plans are now at a standstill. Or are they? Emily receives a list of adventures that Sloane had planned for them and each of them must be completed. Emily sees this as her way of finding out what happened to her mysterious friend and embarks on tackling the long list of challenges that involve apple picking, starting a new job, and meeting new people. Throughout the summer she makes leaps in her introverted nature and starts to learn more about herself and her friends and family.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Greg only has one friend- well, a co-worker as he prefers to call him, Earl. Together Greg and Earl make movies based off cult classics of their choosing and also playing video games to pass the time. That all changes when Greg is forced to befriend Rachel; she has leukemia. Together, Greg, Earl, and Rachel form an odd friendship that will be needed during the toughest time in their lives.

Here are some other awesome books for motivation on jump starting your summer adventure!

  • Percy Jackson & the Olympians series by Rick Riordan
  • The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn Iggulden and Hal Iggulden
  • The Daring Book for Girls by Andrea J. Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz

Summer is awesome, but it is a great time to start fresh and reinvent yourself or even discover the world in your backyard. Start a blog. Write in a journal. Take pictures. You can even vlog about it to remember what is sure to be an amazing summer. Have fun and stay cool out there!

-Markita Dawson, currently reading Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige (*A real page turner this book


Tweets of the Week – July 24th

Fri, 07/24/2015 - 07:00

In case you missed them, here are some of the tweets that people were buzzing about this week. Last minute additions late Thursday night could have been VidCon and yet another shooting, but I’m frankly too tired and upset to handle all that, so you are going to have to look that up on your own. These are all tweets on the lighter end of things.




Pop Culture

Youth Services/Youth Culture

–Hannah Gómez, currently reading About a Girl by Sarah McCarry

We Can Do It! Feminist Literature for Teens

Thu, 07/23/2015 - 07:00

photo by flickr user Trishhhh

Are we in the dog days of summer, dear Hubbers? It sure feels like it! One thing I know is I sure missed writing for all of you; I’m glad to be back! So, this was a post I was going to write a couple of months ago when the word “feminist” was all in the news thanks to Beyoncé and Taylor Swift. It still kind of is in the news, and I think it’s a very important and relevant topic even though we’re not necessarily talking about it incessantly.

Anyways! Feminist teen literature. I’ve been noticing that a lot of new teen books are being marketed as feminist literature for teens which intrigued me, and I happened upon this article that piqued my interest even more: Book Riot – Feminist Teen Lit. They had so many good recommendations, so I chose a brief few from their list to see what was up.

Now, I know what a feminist is, and I’m proud to call myself one. But, I wondered – what makes a book a feminist book? Are they only stories narrated by girls or women (kind of, but not always)? Are they only powerful and sad stories where the main character goes through a traumatic event and grows through the healing process (sometimes, but not always)? I was so excited to find out the answers to those questions that I decided to dive right in to the books I added to my to-read stack, and I’m happy to share those awesome books with you today.

These books are great reads for anyone who loves stories about strong characters; stories who don’t portray or see women and girls only in relation to or as defined by the men and boys in their lives. These are stories of fully formed people who see the strengths and weaknesses in each other as humans, not in relation to their gender. On a side note, I work with a teen who is a member of the feminist club at her high school (how I wish I’d had one of those!), and she has been thoroughly enjoying these books which range from comedy to dystopian to mystery to a story of pain and redemption. Well, let’s get started, shall we? First up! My favorite book that I’ve read so far this year!

The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma: Oh my goodness, you guys. This book is spectacular – really unbelievably wonderful. It’s the story of 3 girls – Violet, Amber, and Orianna – the journeys they will take in their lives, and the paths that have already been established for them. Violet is a ballerina, and Orianna used to be. Orianna was the best ballerina at their school until she was sent to prison for the murder of girls who were tormenting Violet…the same prison where Amber is serving her sentence for killing her abusive stepfather. But, what really happened between Orianna and those other ballerinas, Amber and her stepfather, Violet and Orianna? And, what is happening to Amber as she starts to see the prison in a different light after a very timely and suspicious lightning storm one night. Readers will be glued to their seats to not only see how the story turns out, but also to see how these 3 girls will all become part of each other’s past, present and future.  Ugh!  I can’t say anymore or it will just totally ruin the whole experience for you.  Trust me – you just have to accept that you don’t have to know everything going into this story. However it turns out, these well-developed and realized girls aren’t totally perfect and they aren’t totally flawed, but indicative of real people whose actions, emotions, and lives are highly nuanced. A haunting read that will stay with readers, well, let’s just say, forever. I read it a month ago, and I’m still thinking about it!!

Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King: Okay, I know I have talked about this book so much, but in case you missed my earlier posts – this book is amazing!! Here’s what I said about it the last time I went all crazy over this book: So, Glory’s mom killed herself, Sylvia Plath style, and Glory’s worried she’ll turn out the same way. She has no plans for after high school, and she just generally feels lost and adrift in the sea of life. Then, just on a whim, Glory and Ellie (the closest thing Glory has to a friend) find a mummified bat, put it in a jar, put beer in there and drink the bat. Then, Glory starts seeing visions – a person’s infinite past and future. The problem is things aren’t looking so hot for women in the future. Their rights disappear, a new terrifying leader splits the country and there’s a second civil war where women are the pawns and the victims. Glory is a Feminist with a capital F – she’s not afraid to say it or show it, and she’s going to try to figure out everything she can so she can try and stop what seems to be inevitable for the human race. But, what about her? She can’t see a future for herself. But, that’s not going to stop her trying to keep a future for everyone else. Awesome. Thought provoking. Touching. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. Just read it – you’ll be glad you did. I loved how Glory owns that word – Feminist. She wants everyone to be happy and have rights in this future society, and it doesn’t matter if she’ll even be around for it – she’s ready to fight for it. Aah! So good!

All the Rage by Courtney Summers: I’m not going to lie. This is a tough book to read. Some people are calling it the Speak of this generation. I don’t like comparing books – I loved Speak, and I loved All the Rage. The story opens with Romy Grey. She’s on the side of the road and she has no idea where she is or what happened that led her to this spot. The book does a bit of time jumping back and forth to give readers an idea of the trauma that Romy has endured. She was raped by the son of a very powerful person in her town, and she’s never been believed or treated the same since. She’s just trying to get through high school, but she’s melting down so slowly, she doesn’t notice when she’s almost melted to nothing. She wants to have a normal life – she likes a boy at the diner where she works, her mom is finally happy after reconnecting with her high school boyfriend – but, her classmates will never let her forget what they think she is. And, after that horrible night that she can’t remember, where she wakes up on the side of the road, things go from bad to worse. This book touched me so deeply; it made me remember how cruel classmates can be to girls who they consider have committed some kind of sexual sin – in Romy’s case – liking a boy, but then accusing him of rape. After watching the Bachelorette Men Tell All program on Monday evening (look, I love The Bachelor & Bachelorette – no judging!), I realized that “slut shaming” doesn’t just stop when high school does. It often follows women their entire lives. This book will hopefully open the eyes of those who judge too quickly and give solace to those enduring it.

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby: I didn’t know what to expect when I opened this book. It’s described as magical realism, and I don’t know if I like magical realism. Well, I’m still not sure I do, but I definitely do if Laura Ruby is writing it. This is the story of Finn and Roza and the town they live in, Bone Gap. Roza was a beautiful and bright spark in the lives of Finn and his older brother Sean. She showed up one day, and then, after a while, she disappeared. But, Finn knows what happened; a man who moved like a corn stalk kidnapped Roza, and he stood by and watched it happen. No one believes him and his far out story, especially since he can’t describe what the man looked like. Told from many different voices and perspectives, nothing and everything is what it seems in Bone Gap. Lest you think this is some story of Prince Charming coming to Sleeping Beauty’s rescue, it’s not. Roza is determined to get away from the terrible man who has taken her away from everything she loves, and Finn is dead set on making people see that he’s more than just a “spaceman”; he has hopes and dreams, too – most notably, wanting people to believe him and realize that Roza is more than just her looks. She is a person. Plus, there’s a beautiful horse that takes him on wonderful rides with his sweetie, Priscilla – wait, she likes to be called Petey. If a book could be called ethereal (can it?), this is the epitome.

Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) by Amy Spalding: I realized after reading those first 4 books that they were all laying very heavy on my heart and soul. Fortunately, I found Kissing Ted Callahan, and I realized that feminist teen lit doesn’t have to be all heavy – it can be funny and raucous, too! I’m not quite finished reading this book, but I’ve read enough to know I love it so much, and it’s a perfect humorous book to give to any reader. Riley and Reid are great friends. They are in a band together, and they just both want to have sex. Not with each other, of course. Riley really wants to with Ted Callahan and Reid really secretly luuurves Jane who works with shelter animals. In fact, they’ve created a notebook where they document all the ways they are trying to get to know their respective crushes and share it with each other to offer feedback and advice to each other as members of the opposite sex. But, Riley is our narrator, and she’s the one that made me want to jump into the book and become part of their group of friends. Ted is her crush, and she’s determined to go all the way with him. She’s trying to get to know him, but she also realizes that there are other guys out there, too, that she might like. Garrick is her science partner, and he is such a good kisser. She meets Milo at a record store, and he likes all the same bands as her! Riley had no idea that once she started looking, cute boys were everywhere! But, where does that leave Ted? I have no idea, but I’m excited to find out. The thing is, this book is awesome because Riley is just a regular girl who wants to date and kiss boys and maybe do more than that, and she isn’t shaming herself at all. Neither are her friends. What’s funny is that boys are allowed to do this all the time in books (see: Swim the Fly by Don Calame & Carter Finally Gets It by Brent Crawford – both great books that I loved reading), but girls are always portrayed in the Forever sense (and trust me, I have nothing against Forever – it’s nice to see sex referred to in different ways for different teens). Riley is funny and she’s a teen girl who wants to kiss boys and be in a band. What’s wrong with that? Nothing.

Well, I really loved all of these books, Hubbers! And, you know, these feminist teen picks are good reads for anyone – teen, adult, male, female, anybody! Some of them have romance, some of them have mystery, and some of them are just a fun romp, but all of them show their characters in ways that support women and girls without making them into the dreaded “manic pixie dream girl” trope or so tortured or under-developed that readers can’t identify or relate to them. And, some of the best feminists are boys, which we see in Bone Gap. The thing is feminism is about equality for everyone, and I was happy to see that idea make its way into literature for teens. I hope you’ll join me next month when I’ll be writing about something else that I’m truly excited about – TBD! Ha!

-Traci Glass, currently reading Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) by Amy Spalding

All Your Books Are Belong to Us: YA Lit for Gamers

Wed, 07/22/2015 - 07:00

One of my fondest memories from my childhood is that of long days spent hunched in front of the TV, my NES controller sweaty in my hands as I tried fruitlessly to conquer whatever Mario level I was playing at the time. I couldn’t have been more than 5 or 6 when I started playing, but it brought a kind of joy to my life that was unmatched. It was me saving the princess, fighting dragons, and exploring new lands, and it opened my eyes to new kinds of entertainment.

Over the years, I’ve evolved as a gamer. I’ve seen the transition from 2d sprites to fully-realized 3d worlds. I’ve played good games and bad. I’ve refined my tastes and discovered the satisfaction that comes from beating a game after a particularly hard final boss (here’s looking at you, Kingdom Hearts!). And a couple years ago, I accomplished my life-long goal of finally beating the original Super Mario Bros. game that stumped me throughout my childhood!

I love gaming with a passion unmatched by almost anything else, but one of the hobbies I love slightly more is reading. When those two things come together, I fall hard. Every. Single. Time. Anything can happen in a video game, the more outrageous the better, which gives authors an unrestricted amount of freedom to create a living universe peopled with amazing characters and peppered with allusions and references that can make the nerdiest among us swoon with delight. Here are just a few of my personal favorites!

  • Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

In a futuristic world in which alien invasions and wars are the norm, Ender Wiggins is bred to be a genius and then drafted into a rigorous training program. Torn away from his parents and family, Ender’s new home is the Battle School, where recruits are divided into teams to hold mock battles and test their military strategy. Facing pressure and loneliness, Ender develops as a leader who could hold the fate of the world in his hands. An oldie but goodie, Ender’s Game has definitely stood the test of time, even spawning a recent film adaptation. Orson Scott Card was the recipient of the 2008 Margaret A. Edwards Award for his significant and lasting contribution to writing for teens.

  • Erebos by Ursula Poznanski

Erebos is a game. One that you can’t buy. A game that watches you and knows you and influences you. When rumors of this game begin to float around the halls of Nick’s school, he becomes desperate to get his hands on it. The only catch is that someone has to invite you to play the game. When he does finally obtain a copy, he immediately gets hooked, playing for hours on end. But when the game enters the real world, Nick must reexamine what he thinks he knows…and what he’s willing to do for the sake of a game. 

As the earth slowly sinks into decline, most of the world’s population retreats into the virtual world of the OASIS. When the creator of the OASIS dies, he leaves behind a game – the first person to find the Easter Egg he left behind in the OASIS will inherit his entire fortune and the control of his company and the OASIS itself. To do this, players must find three keys, which open three gates. Wade Watts is one of these players. A loving homage to ’80s culture, this book is the nerdiest of them all. Liberally sprinkled throughout with allusions to gaming, movies, comics, and more, reading the book is pure pleasure. And for movie fans, an adaptation is planned, with Steven Spielberg at the helm.

  • Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde

Heir Apparent is the hottest virtual reality game around – and also one of the most difficult. There are many ways to die and few pathways to safety and victory. But unless Giannine manages to find the magic ring, locate the treasure, and defeat a dragon, she’s going to die…in real life. She’s trapped in the game, facing down the clock and desperately trying to survive.

Coarsegold Online, a popular massively-multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG), is Anda’s favorite game. Online, she can create a whole new persona and make new friends. So she joins a guild and starts playing missions designed to wipe out characters who are collecting powerful items illegally and then selling them for real-life profit. But when she meets one of these players – a poverty-stricken Chinese kid whose livelihood depends on his game performance, she realizes that black and white might actually be more blurry than she thinks.

  • Armada by Ernest Cline

Zack Lightman has grown up playing video games. His favorite game is Armada, an aviation simulator with the premise that its players must join the Earth Defense Alliance and protect Earth from alien invasion. But when an EDA ship lands in front of his school, Zack is shocked to learn that it’s all real. That Armada was a simulator designed to train and recruit the best gamers in the world. And that he must play a role in defending the world.

Bonus! Video Games Invade the Big Screen!

  • The Guild – Starring Felicia Day, this mini web series is about a quirky group of online gamers who end up meeting in real life. As an added bonus, the series is now available to stream on Netflix!
  • The Quest – I’ll admit that I’m something of a reality game show junkie. So The Quest really caught my attention when I realized that it takes contestants, puts them into a fully-scripted fantasy world, and lets them live out their dreams of slaying Orcs, meeting the Fates, and defeating the final boss. One season is on Netflix, and I really hope more are coming soon!
  • Sword Art Online – For anime fans, Sword Art Online is similar to Heir Apparent. Players get trapped in the virtual reality game world and must conquer the game to stay alive!

-Jancee Wright, currently reading Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Get Ready for Paper Towns with Some Readalikes

Wed, 07/22/2015 - 07:00

With the movie Paper Towns coming out in theaters in just a couple days, there seems to be a buzz in the air about John Green once again. Paper Towns, like all Green’s books, holds its own right up there on my bookshelf along with An Abundance of Katherines, The Fault in our Stars, and Looking for Alaska.

The movie is directed by Jake Schreier and is based on the 2009 Teens’ Top Ten winning title by John Green. I love how the story is cleverly declared as an American comedy-drama mystery film. That seems to sum it all up right? Paper Towns features the adorable Quentin Jacobsen who has loved his gal-pal neighbor Margo Roth Spiegelman since they were young. One night entices Quentin to go out on the town and play a bunch of revenge pranks on her cheating boyfriend. The night is a whirlwind of fun and outrageous pranks that brings the two closer than ever. Then Margo suddenly decides to disappear without a trace. What I love about Quentin is that he never gives up on Margo and that is so darn romantic. After Margo turns up missing Quentin soon unravels the pieces of the puzzle (literally) that she has left in her wake. Paper Towns comes out Friday, July 24, so don’t miss this coming-of-age story that you know you won’t want to end!

Here are five books that satisfy your taste for the young and the restless until the Paper Towns movie comes out.

  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults) – Cath struggles to survive on her own in her first year of college while avoiding a surly roommate, bonding with a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words, and worrying about her fragile father.
  • Looking for Alaska by John Green (2006 Printz Award winner) – Miles’ first year at Culver Creek Preparatory School includes making good friends and playing great pranks. A sudden fatality shakes Miles to the core and he contemplates what life and death are all about and how to carry on after you lose that one person that lights up your life.
  • The Spectacular Now by Tim Thorp – In the last months of high school, Sutter Keely stays drunk or high most of the time, but that could change when he forms a friendship with his classmate Aimee.
  • Struck by Lightning by Chris Colfer – Carson Phillips decides to create a literary magazine to bolster his college application, which means he needs submissions. Carson resorts to blackmailing his classmates and he doesn’t realize how his actions will be the cause and effect of his plans for the future.
  • Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (2008 Best Books for Young Adults) – Clay Jenkins finds a mysterious box with his name on it filled with 13 cassette tapes recorded by Hannah a classmate who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Clay must listen to the tapes and follow the clues that Hannah leaves to find out the mystery of her suicide.

-Kimberli Buckley

Book S’mores

Tue, 07/21/2015 - 07:00

One of my favorite things about summer is the variety of treats that are best eaten during summer months: fruit that comes in season, treats like ice cream that are best eaten in hot weather, and s’mores. I love the process of toasting marshmallows over a fire and sandwiching them between graham crackers with a sliver of chocolate. I sometimes even make them in the microwave, which isn’t nearly as delicious but will do in a pinch.  If I were to make a s’more out of books, here’s what I’d use:

Miss Fortune Cookie by Kay Honeyman. This book would be the first cookie layer. Erin runs a popular advice blog, but things get complicated when her ex-best friend writes in with a question. Soon Erin finds herself entangled in a web of half-lies and drama.

Strawberry Marshmallow by Barasui.  This six-volume manga series could be toasted and become the next layer of my s’more. This cute series featuring the antics of a couple of school girls would add the right amount of sweetness.

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier (1991 Margaret A. Edwards Award). Jerry decides not to sell chocolates as a part of the school’s annual fundraiser, and this choice quickly spirals into something much larger than Jerry would ever have imagined.

Sweet Treats and Secret Crushes by Lisa Greenwald. The teens in this story send fortune cookie messages to their neighbors on Valentine’s Day, and these messages turn out to be just what each person needed to hear.  Mix in a few long-held crushes and watch the drama ensue!

Stick by Andrew Smith. This is not an easy book to read, and the main character definitely has more than his share of difficulties to deal with, but many teens enjoy books about characters facing a lot of adversity, so this is the perfect addition to our s’mores recipe.

Fire by Kristen Cashore (2010 Best Books for Young Adults). Without a heat source, the marshmallow would never roast. This second installment in the Graceling Realm series follows the last “human monster,” Fire, as she’s brought to the royal city to use her powers in aid of the king.

If you were to make a dessert out of books, what would you use?

-Jenni Frencham

They Remade Scream? Some Thrilling Reads for Teens Hooked on the TV Remake of the ’90s Classic.

Mon, 07/20/2015 - 07:00

Recently I was chatting with one of the teen volunteers at my library. He told me how he watched Scream last night and how much he enjoyed it. A couple of other teens overheard our conversation and chimed in about how much they enjoyed Scream. I instantly lit up and talked about the Drew Barrymore twist at the beginning being homage to Hitchcock. All the teens looked at me strangely and indicated that they were talking about MTV’s new television program Scream. Not the late ’90s thriller that I was talking about.

I immediately went home and watched the first two episodes of Scream, the TV series. Although the series is clearly a remake of the original film it is firmly standing on its own. Because it’s a series the audience is getting the chance to get to know the characters a bit better versus the film. Like the original film the series is current with its cultural references. For example, instead of a television reporter covering the murders like in the film the show has a Sarah Koenig-esque podcaster covering the murders. Additionally, the Scream TV series does an excellent job of showing how technologically savvy and plugged in modern teens are right now.

Scream the series is much more of a mystery than the original film. If you are a reader that is enjoying the Scream TV series you might find these mystery books very interesting.

  • Killer Instinct by S.E. Green

This  2015 YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers title is a fast-paced thrill ride geared specifically for teen readers. Lane on the surface is a typical teenager. However, Lane has a secret hobby/obsession studying serial killers. Now a vicious serial killer has come to her hometown and it is up to Lane to use her skills to stop the serial killer. Scream fans will love this book. It is thrilling; fast paced and has an ending that would make Alfred Hitchcock proud.

  • Green River Killer: A True Detective Story by Jeff Jensen

This book is a memoir, true crime and graphic novel all rolled into one amazing story. Jeff Jensen tells the story of his Dad, the lead detective in the hunt for the Green River Killer. What I love best about this story is that it clearly shows empathy for the victims of the crimes and the toll it takes on the law enforcement officers tasked with tracking down the killers. For Scream fans, the imagery will be haunting and it will create a vivid reminder of the ramifications of real violence on society. 

  • Daughters of Eve by Lois Duncan

When this book was first released in the 1970s, it was criticized as being antifeminist. The author maintained that the story is in fact about the dangerous role overzealous adults can play on young people. This is an issue I have been thinking about a lot since I became a teen librarian. I see both points and the author does a very nice job of showing how the world is filled with lots of nice and not so nice people. The theme of the bullied becoming bullies is as relevant today as it was when it was published in the 1970s. Scream fans will enjoy reading how group dynamics affect individual choice and of course get a kick out of how things can feel simultaneously different and the same from 40 years ago.

  • Witches!: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem by Rosalyn Schanzer

This book is mesmerizing. It is a page-turner; visually terrifying and sourced compellingly. The two most crucial parts of this book’s success is the narrative structure treatment of the subject matter. It reads like a traditionally formatted crime television program (Law & Order SVU). This makes the plotting fast-paced and constantly leaves the reader with the feeling of “What happens next?” The second part of this book’s success deals with the treatment of the subject matter as fact not as a dramatic device. Many times our first exposure to the Salem Witch Trials is from Arthur Miller’s play “The Crucible.” This is a fine play but at times doesn’t paint a fully realized portrait of the stark reality of puritanism. Schnazer provides a full context of the people and time period. As a chilling result, the reader finds himself or herself not sympathizing with the hysteria of the time but instead having a broader understanding of the time period. This was a fantastic read and a book that we should all reach to whenever a teen patron asks about the television series Scream.

My favorite part about teen reads is how they are constantly changing and evolving. Just when I get my head wrapped around dystopian fantasy I now get to dive deep into the world of teen thrillers. These are just a few of my favorites. Please share some of yours with me?

-Todd Deck, currently reading Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

The Monday Poll: Baby Names from YA Lit

Sun, 07/19/2015 - 23:10

Good morning, Hub readers!

Last week, we asked about your favorite YA series that wraps up with a book aimed at adults. The Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot took the top spot with a whopping 51% of the vote, and Hub reader Leslie C. added a great point in the comments: “While they might not be considered series finales there are a few authors who have books series that have parallel / split off series with characters that are in both their YA and Adult books (Kelley Armstrong’s werewolf characters, Melissa de la Cruz’s witch characters, and Mari Mancusi’s characters).” Thanks, Leslie! You can see detailed results for all of our previous polls in the Polls Archive. Thanks to all of you who voted last week!

This week, we want to know which distinctive name from YA lit would you give to your firstborn baby? (Because for the purposes of this poll, you are definitely going to name your future baby after a YA lit character with an unusual name.) Choose from the list below, or leave other ideas in the comments.

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

Tweets of the Week: July 17th

Fri, 07/17/2015 - 07:00

Here is a roundup of all the tweets you might’ve missed this week!


TV/Movie/Pop Culture News 

The Semicolon Project


Just for Fun!

-Katie Shanahan Yu, currently reading Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Notes from a Teens’ Top Ten Book Club Participant: Ruthless by Carolyn Lee Adams

Thu, 07/16/2015 - 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 every 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, Mila Bleeke, a 17 year old from the Allen County Public Library Teen Advisory Board in Indiana, brings us some thoughts on a newly released YA book.

I just finished reading Ruthless by Carolyn Lee Adams, and I’ve got to say it is an a amazing book. In this story, a girl is kidnapped and uses her strength to survive. Throughout reading it, I was comparing it to the movies Hard Candy which features a young Ellen Page and The Lovely Bones which features Saoirse Ronan.


If you loved one or both of those movies, I highly recommend this fast-paced book. Ruthless just came out in bookstores on July 14th.

-Mila Bleeke

Summer Sweat: 5 Stimulating Sports Stories

Wed, 07/15/2015 - 07:00

photo by flickr user laffy4k

While school is out and you are free to enjoy your summer, you might be loading your calendar with fun activities, such as road trips, adventures, and sports. Tennis, archery, and aquatics are some popular sports during the summer that you can become involved with. Many recent young adult titles feature exciting sports stories for teens!

Blue by H.J. Bellus
Blue Williams yearned to blend in when all her life she has been known in her hometown for her looks as the prom queen, brains as the valedictorian of her class, and talented as the top cheerleader in her high school squad. With a full-ride scholarship in a prestigious school, cheer becomes Blue’s primary focus. Until everything is taken away from her. The man who saved her is just as scarred, and they learn to help each other.

The Storm Before the Calm by Cate Ashwood
Charlie lives for dance. He secures a coveted spot in the Free Rein Dance Company in New York for the summer, and he is excited to get away from his life that has been threatening to devour him dead or alive. In New York, Charlie meets Max, an instructor at the school, who inspires him to be the best. Max exposes him to the close-minded perspective of his town, but Charlie’s not sure how to be center-stage in a drama he is running away from. 

Whatever Life Throws at You by Julie Cross
Baseball is the number one thing that seventeen-year-old Annie Lucas blames for completely changing her life. Her dad returns to the major leagues as the pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals, which means she must move to Missouri, attend an all-girl school, and figure out the mysteries of professional sports. It isn’t too terrible, when she meets nineteen-year-old Jason Brody, rookie pitcher for the Royals. Life threw Annie a forbidden curveball, and she is only hoping to not strike out.

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
Twelve-year-old twins, Josh and Jordan Bell, are legends on the basketball court. In this story told in creative prose of Josh’s mad rap skills, Josh and Jordan come face-to-face with more than basketball and the center court; they are forced into big events that change their lives. Relying on family and personal strength, Josh and Jordan learn how to live through it all and come out on top as champions.

The Revenge Playbook by Rachael Allen
High school football players are treated like royalty in the small town of Ranburne. The girls are on the bottom of the social hierarchy. Liv, Peyton, Melanie Jane, and Ana decide to team up and beat the players at their own game. This empowering story of love and friendship will teach a team of football players and its readers about what it means to overcome social pressure and an oppressive culture. It’s time to get even!

-Heather Johnson

Gone Camping: Novels Set At Summer Camp

Tue, 07/14/2015 - 07:00

Image from photos/26316553@N07/2896539401/.

Summer camp.  For many teens, those two words evoke all sorts of powerful memories and emotions.  As someone who attended and later worked at a few different kinds of summer camps, I too associate summertime with that special otherworld of camp life.  Whether it’s an academic summer program on an unfamiliar college campus, an wilderness adventure in the woods, or some other uniquely themed summer-only community experience, camp life often seems to be an escape from teens’ everyday lives.

Camp can be the rare place where you suddenly fit in and find others who share your passions.  Camp can be a dependable community where you feel the freedom to be a different–and perhaps more authentic–version of yourself.  Camp can also be the time and place when you discover new interests or new aspects of your identity.  Like all tightly knit and highly organized communities, camp can also be a place that reinforces certain expectations or ideals, making it a trap rather than an escape.  In all cases, summer camp also seems to be one of the best settings for diverse and strong coming of age tales.  Just check out a few of the fabulous young adult novels set at summer camp!

The Summer I Wasn’t Me – Jessica Verdi

Lexi will do almost anything to maintain her relationship with her mother, especially since her dad’s recent death.  But when she figures out that Lexi’s in love with a girl, her mom plunges even deeper into depression and anxiety.  Desperate to preserve her family, Lexi agrees to attend New Horizons, a Christian summer camp that promises to teach her how to fight off her SSA–same sex attraction. Lexi’s determined to change–but she wasn’t counting on meeting Carolyn.

Wildlife – Fiona Wood (2015 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults)

Since her aunt used her as a model in local billboard, Sibylla’s fairly mediocre social life has started to shift in unexpected ways.  Suddenly, she’s not entirely sure what to expect from the upcoming wilderness term.  Handsome Ben kissed her at a party over the holidays but hasn’t said much since and her longtime best friend Holly seems intensely invested in Sib & Ben’s potential romance.  Meanwhile, new girl Lou simply wants to muddle through this strange first term without having to discuss her dead boyfriend or her still crushing grief.  But in this unfamiliar environment, relationships of all kinds undergo unforeseen transformations.

Lumberjanes Vol. 1 – Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Brooke Allen, & Shannon Watters

Spending the summer at Miss Qiunzilla Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Girls Hardcore Lady-Types is no picnic.  Between the three-eyed foxes, sea monster, and strange riddles in secret caves, the Lumberjanes Scouts’ skills, bravery, and daring will be put to the test.  Thankfully, Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley have each other and together, they’re determined to have fun–and survive–the summer.

The second volume of this delightful series is set to be released in October 2015! 

Nothing But The Truth (And A Few White Lies) – Justina Chen

Patricia Yi-Phen Ho’s sophomore year of high school is not ending on a high note. While her friends are partying the night away at the final dance, Patty is having her future told through her bellybutton by a Chinese fortune-teller after yet another lecture on her many failures as a good daughter. And then, her mom decides to ruin her summer too—by sending her to Math Camp at Stanford. But while Patty’s never really felt like she fit in anywhere—too white to fit in with local Taiwanese community and yet not white enough to blend in with her other friends—at camp, her world flips upside down and Patty’s starting to realize that perhaps fitting in is highly overrated.

Empress of the World – Sara Ryan (2002 YALSA Best Books for Young Adults)

Nicola Lanscaster isn’t sure what to expect when she arrives at the Siegel Summer Institute for Gifted Youth.  She hoped to decide whether or not she wants to pursue a career in archeology but Nic had no idea that instead she would find herself questioning her whole identity.  She falls in with a quirky group of friends–including dancer Battle Hall Davies.  Nic and Battle quickly become inseparable friends and Nic is surprised and confused to finds herself increasingly attracted to the vibrant Battle.  As their relationship shifts into a tentative romance, Nic find that love resists all her attempts at calm logic and scientific detachment.

Things I Can’t Forget – Miranda Kenneally

Kate couldn’t wait to spend her last summer before college with her best friend Emily working as a counselor at Cumberland Creek, the Christian summer camp they’ve attended together since childhood.  But when Emily’s parents find out she had an abortion earlier that spring, they kick her out and she is disinvited from Cumberland Creek.  Now on her own, Kate encounters lifeguard Matt, the first boy she ever kissed who has returned to camp looking all grown up.  But between her continued guilt about helping Emily get an abortion and her shame about her increasing attraction to Matt, Kate begins to discover that life and faith are much more complicated than she’d thought.

-Kelly Dickinson, currently reading The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste and The Fair Fight by Anna Freeman

Celebrate Bastille Day with French Authors and Themed Novels!

Mon, 07/13/2015 - 08:00

Tomorrow is Bastille Day! To commemorate this day check out some French authors who have had their titles for teen readers published in the US and teen novels that center on French culture and history. Joyeux Quatorze Juillet!

French Authors

No and Me by Delphine de Vigan (2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults)

Life as It Comes by Anne-Laure Bondoux

Vango by Timothée de Fombelle (2015 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults)

When I was a Soldier by Valérie Zenatti (2006 Best Books for Young Adults)

Winter’s End by Jean-Claude Morlevat

I Love I Hate I Miss My Sister by Amélie Sarn

Last Man, Vol. 1: The Stranger by Balak, Sanlaville, Vivés


Set in Paris

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (2012 Readers’ Choice, 2012 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults)

Die for Me by Amy Plum

Beautiful Americans by Lucy Silag

Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer by Katie Alender (2015 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers)

Starry Nights by Daisy Whitney

Gadget Girl: the art of being invisible by Suzanne Kamata

Just One Day by Gayle Forman (2014 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults, 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults)

Bandette in Presto! by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover (2014 Great Graphic Novels)


Historical Fiction Set in France

The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan

A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly (2011 Odyssey Honor Audiobook, 2013 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, 2011 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults)

Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross (2014 Morris Award Finalist)

The Pale Assassin by Patricia Elliott

The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner (2009 Best Books for Young Adults)

Under a War Torn Sky by L.M. Elliott

Sovay by Celia Rees

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers (2013 Teen Top Ten Nominee, 2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults)

Blue Flame by K.M. Grant

The Revolution of Sabine by Beth Levine Ain


–Colleen Seisser, currently reading Antigoddess by Kendare Blake

The Monday Poll: YA Series with a Finale for Adults

Sun, 07/12/2015 - 23:14

Good morning, Hub readers!

Last week, we checked in with you about your favorite YA lit trend of 2015 so far, since we’re a little over halfway through the year. The results were pretty evenly spread: 23% of you are enjoying books about cons/elaborate heists (looking forward to Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows?), 22% appreciate the focus on suicide and mental health (All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven comes to mind), and 21% are loving Middle Eastern inspired fantasy, like The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh.  You can see detailed results for all of our previous polls in the Polls Archive. Thanks to all of you who voted last week!

This week, let’s talk about YA series that wrap up with a book aimed at adults. Which one is your favorite? This is somewhat of a rare phenomenon– we could only think of three! So choose from the list below, or leave your suggestions in the comments.

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What Makes a Book a Page Turner?

Fri, 07/10/2015 - 07:00

photo by flickr use wiertz

There are numerous characteristics that distinguish a truly exciting book that leaves its readers on the edge of their seats from a less appealing one that makes readers fall asleep reading it. As an active reader, especially during the summer, I love it when I’m reading a book that keeps me engaged to the point where I find myself staying up until 2am in the morning simply because I cannot set the book down. Recently, I’ve begun to ponder the following question – what truly makes a book a page turner?

By “page turner” I am referring to those books that are so thrilling to read that readers find it nearly impossible to simply stop once they reach the end of a chapter because they have to find out what happens next. The key component that I believe contributes to categorizing a book as a page turner is the relatable, dynamic characters.

Well-developed characters are one of the main reasons I fall in love with reading books. When I read a great book I find it easy to develop connections with the characters. Page after page I become more involved with each of the characters’ lives and personalities. I learn which characters I like and which characters I don’t. This intriguing, life-like quality of a book is what keeps me engaged and wanting to constantly learn more about the characters. I find it easy to build imaginary relationships with the characters, especially when they have qualities I can relate to.

Sometimes I see qualities of myself in various characters and this allows me to sympathize with them. Other times I see qualities of some of my closest friends in the characters. Relating the characters within the book to myself and my own friends makes the reading experience even more exciting and real. Sometimes I catch myself wondering what I would do if placed in the characters’ shoes. When the author crafts characters that are inherently real, it makes it easier to become immersed in their lives. I find it amusing to consider this imaginary, one-sided relationship between reader and character. We, as readers, get to learn so much about the characters to the point where we can imagine what it would be like to be a part of their lives, even though the characters will never know about the readers! I applaud to all those incredible authors, who develop such rich and phenomenal characters that keep me engaged.

Sometimes I become so attached to the characters that I find it disappointing when I’m reaching the end of the novel and there are only a few pages left to turn. I feel as though I’ve gone on such an incredible journey with the characters and it’s almost as if my exciting relationship with the characters is coming to an end. Luckily the disappointment of finishing an enticing novel is only fleeting. Because once I begin to read another fascinating book I have the opportunity to engage in new characters and their experiences; finishing a great book allows me the chance to start reading an even more exciting book! I’ve realized that reading is like a never-ending cycle: one page leads to another, one book leads to the second in a series, the second leads to the third, and one series leads to a whole new series and so on and so forth. The fun never has to stop, not even when you turn over the last page.

-Nedda Bozorgmehri, currently reading The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han