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Your Connection to Teen Reads
Updated: 9 hours 44 min ago

Jukebooks: Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 07:00

They might have been friends in a past life, but in this life, Juliette and Abram don’t speak to each other. How can they? Juliette’s mother was having an affair with Abram’s father, culminating in a car crash that killed the cheating pair. The gulf of grief and awkward recognition between Juliette and Abram seemed far too wide to bridge. Yet one night at midnight, they run into each other by chance at the CVS. Both are picking up drug prescriptions that testify to their ragged emotions during the year since the car accident. Turns out, they kind of like each other. They kind of understand each other. At last, they come to realize that finding each other is the bright side of a terrible tragedy.

The reference to “Mr. Brightside” immediately draw the mind to the first song written by The Killers, a catchy wail of a song released in 2004. The lyrics seem to be a disorganized mash of jealousy and longing as the singer envisions his lover with another man, sung with the kind of passion that invites full volume at 2am. Indeed, lead singer Brandon Flowers has admitted that the song was based on a time when he caught a girlfriend cheating on him.

Here’s a taste:

Jealousy
Turning saints into the sea
Swimming through sick lullabies
Choking on your alibis
But it’s just the price I pay
Destiny is calling me
Open up my eager eyes
‘Cause I’m Mr. Brightside

It’s a pop song with a punch. Pain comes in many forms, but look for Mr. Brightside.

Ten years after, the song’s release, The Killers play for an audience in Amsterdam as part of MTV’s World Stage series. It’s hard to sit still during this enthusiastic performance, much like a giant sing-along.

Diane Colson, currently reading an advance reader’s copy of Fell of Dark by Patrick Downes.

Genre Guide: YA Contemporary Romance

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 07:00

Definition
Contemporary romance YA novels are realistic fiction that take place during (more-or-less) the time frame in which the book is being published that include a love story as a main focus of the plot. There are not any hard and fast rules regarding how close to publication year a story must be set in order to be contemporary, but it is a small window. As a result, it may be difficult for some of us to swallow, but a book published this year that takes place in 1999 would not fall into this category, but rather into the realm of historical fiction.

Characteristics
Contemporary romances usually include the full cycle of a romance, beginning with the meeting of the future couple. Occasionally characters will already know each other and rather than having an adorable or awkward meeting there will a trigger event that begins the change in feelings from platonic to romantic. Then, the relationship will be tested or stressed by some series of events. These events can range from simple misunderstandings that are blown out of proportion to serious matters or life and death. Eventually, the conflict is resolved and the characters are able to fully acknowledge their love, though this does not always result in a happily ever after.
When you hear the words “contemporary romance,” you may immediately picture pink covers with doodled hearts. Sure, some of these stories are adorably fluffy and I can often spot a YA contemporary romance from across the room based on its cover. Some, though, appear to focus more on the contemporary life aspect and may be more sarcastic, dry-witted, and/or out-right weird. The romance is definitely there, but it may not be the first thing that a reader thinks about. Still, others may have a heavy dose of trauma or life-threatening situations as part of the plot.

These stories may also include some other common themes in YA including sports, music, and LGBTQ characters. 

Appeal
The appeal of contemporary romance for teen readers is that it is an avenue to explore romantic relationships that are happening in a realistic setting, potentially mirroring the attractions that they may have in their own life. Because they are rooted in the here-and-now, opposed to historical fiction, these stories allow readers to see their own world and imagine the scenarios playing out on the pages. There is an inherent excitement to the idea of falling in love for the first time. It doesn’t matter whether the reader is female or male, single or committed, LGBTQ or straight: love stories provide readers with the opportunity to swoon, plain and simple.

Authors to Know

Web Resources
RWA: RITA Awards
From 1983-2013 the Romance Writers of America included a category for Best Young Adult Romance in their annual awards list
The Hub: Celebrate Valentine’s Day with Some Recent YA Contemporary Romances

– Jessica Lind, currently reading The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin

For the Love of Cats: Felines in YA Fiction

Tue, 03/24/2015 - 07:00

Last month I wrote about canines in YA literature. This month I want to give equal time to the felines. Firstly because I had the joy of growing up in a household of cats. Secondly, there are dastardly cat gangs out there which watch our every move, and I don’t want to get on their bad side. Or so goes the familiar negative image of cats in some popular lore. However, anyone who has actually shared their life with cats knows that this is not at all the reality. Each cat, like each dog, has its own characteristics, whether affectionate or independent, forgiving or wary. With that in mind, in the following list I’ve tried to include fiction titles which I feel are well-suited to teens and which include feline characters in a variety of roles and with a variety of personalities.

Blacksad (Blacksad series) by Juan Díaz Canales & Juanjo Guarnido

The Spanish Canales and Guarnido originally created their Eisner Award-winning detective noir graphic novel series for French readers, but the setting is early 1950s U.S. This first volume collects the first three issues, which include a murder mystery and stories concerning the effects of white supremacy on individuals and the Red Scare. Private Investigator John Blacksad is an unforgettable feline. Lucia Cedeira Serantes, in her summer 2005 Young Adult Library Services article “¿Es un Pájaro? ¿Es un Avión?.…Spanish Comics for American Libraries” mentions two of the issues in this volume as being among the best in graphic novels and comics from Spain. (Adult Graphic Novel)

Book of Night with Moon (Feline Wizards trilogy) by Diane Duane

This is the first novel in a series which combines science fantasy, adventure, horror and even humor. There is a secret civilization of cats in Manhattan complete with its own language, a glossary of which is included in the novel. When the world is threatened with invasion by monsters from the “Downside”, four cats – Rhiow, Saash, Urruah and Arhu — seek out the wizard responsible for the dire situation. The cats make interesting observations about the differences between human and feline culture. (Adult Fiction)

What Curiosity Kills (Turning series) by Helen Ellis

At the start of this new series, sixteen-year-old Mary from Alabama has been adopted into a New York family. Life is filled with the usual teenage ups and downs, until a bigger issue surfaces when she starts purring and craving rodents. She learns that she is a feline shape-shifter, and becomes part of a citywide war between domestic and stray cats. A mix of urban fantasy, realism and romance. (Older Teen Fiction)

Coraline by Neil Gaiman (2003 Best Books for Young Adults, 2005 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults)

Left to her own devices by her preoccupied parents, young Coraline opens a door in her house, only to discover that it leads into an alternate world. In this world, it becomes increasingly clear that Coraline’s “other mother”, with her black button eyes and creepy ways, wants to imprison Coraline forever. A talking cat with no name acts as Caroline’s mentor, helping her make her way out of this frightening situation. (Intermediate Fiction and Graphic Novel)

A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass (2006 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, 2004 Schneider Family Book Award for Middle School Level)

Thirteen-year-old Mia has synesthesia, a rare condition in which various sounds, letters, numbers and words cause her to see colors. When school becomes increasingly frustrating, she begins to distance herself from it and gravitate toward the world of her fellow synesthetes. It is the illness and death of her dear cat Mango that wakes Mia up and helps her begin to start repairing some relationships that she had let go. (Younger Teen Fiction)

The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents (Discworld series) by Terry Pratchett (2002 Best Books for Young Adults, one of the nine titles for which Pratchett won the 2011 Margaret A. Edwards Award)

Maurice is a smooth-talking cat who convinces a group of rats and a young human musician to pull off pied-piper scams with him. All is going quite well until the group comes upon the village of Bad Blintz, in which evil rats are putting diabolical plans into motion. It’s up to Maurice and his gang to save the day. Fantasy, lots of humor and a few scary moments. (Younger Teen Fiction)

Additional Suggestions:

Unfamiliar Magic by R. C. Alexander (Younger Teen Fiction)

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami (Adult Fiction)

Varjak Paw (Varjak Paw series) by S. F. Said (Intermediate Fiction)

Tailchaser’s Song by Tad Williams (Adult Fiction)

 

Please add your own favorite feline YA fiction to this list!

– Anna Dalin, currently listening to Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott

The Monday Poll: Basketball in YA Lit

Sun, 03/22/2015 - 23:43

Good morning, Hub readers!

Last week, we explored alarming first lines in YA lit that grab our attention and compel us to keep reading. The votes were pretty well divided among the various options, but Kami Garcia’s Unbreakable took top honors with 21%. The line? “As my bare feet sank into the wet earth, I tried not to think about the dead bodies buried beneath me.” Shudder! We got some great alternative suggestions in the comments, so check out the post. You can see detailed results for all of our previous polls in the Polls Archive. Thanks to all of you who voted!

This week, we’re kind of right in the middle of March Madness, right? I am clueless about basketball, but umm, how are your brackets going? (See, I totally sound like I know what I’m talking about right there.) So anyway, let’s have a basketball themed poll for the sports fans out there! Choose from the options below for your favorite basketball title in YA lit, or suggest another book in the comments!

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

2015 Hub Reading Challenge Check-In #6

Sun, 03/22/2015 - 07:00

Not signed up for YALSA’s 2015 Hub Reading Challenge? Read the official rules and sign up on the original post. Anything you’ve read since February 9 counts, so sign up now!

I don’t know about anyone else, but as a slower reader, that June 21 deadline is starting to look awfully close already. I completed the Nonfiction part of the Morris/Nonfiction Challenge (and any reading done for either of those challenges counts, so make sure you include it in your total), but since then, I’ve only finished 3 other books. Yikes, I need to get a move-on!

What are your strategies for getting the reading done? I’m trying to balance books that just interest me with books I think I can read faster (hello, Great Graphic Novels and Quick Picks!). I’m also trying to always have one of the audiobooks going, because then I can read while I’m doing dishes, folding laundry, or driving. My problem then becomes getting immersed enough in any one story to finish it. I’m slowest at the start of a book, while I’m still getting to know the characters and the landscape, then, like a roller coaster, once I reach a certain zenith of interest in the story, I speed up toward the end. Half Bad was especially like this for me–I wasn’t sure what I thought of Nathan for quite awhile, and then I wasn’t sure I wanted to know what was going to happen, but once I got to the action climax, I found myself inventing chores so that I could listen to the ending.

As you are reading, don’t forget to use the hashtag #hubchallenge to share your progress on Twitter, or join the discussion over at the 2015 Goodreads Hub Reading Challenge group.

Remember, you have until 11:59 PM EST on June 21st to finish at least 25 challenge books (here’s the full list of eligible titles).  These weekly check-in posts are a great place to track your progress, see how your fellow participants are faring, and get feedback on various titles, so don’t forget to read the comments and chime in!  If you haven’t already, don’t forget to post the Participant’s Badge on your blog, website, or email signature, and, as always, if you have any questions or problems, let us know in the comments or via email.

If you are a particularly fast reader and have already completed the challenge by reading or listening to 25 titles from the list of eligible books, be sure to fill out the form below so we can send you your Challenge Finisher badge, get in touch to coordinate your reader’s response and, perhaps best of all, to notify you if you win our exciting grand prize drawing! Be sure to use an email you check frequently and do not fill out this form until you have completed the challenge by reading 25 titles.  

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Tweets of the Week: March 20

Fri, 03/20/2015 - 07:00

Spring is just around the corner, it’s time for warmer weather and sunshine. Lots of movie news this week with Insurgent hitting theaters and Paper Towns releasing publicity photos.

Book News:

Movie/TV news:

Librarianship:

Just for Fun:

~ Jennifer Rummel Currently Reading Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin

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

Is This Just Fantasy?: Celebrating The Hub’s Favorite Women In Fantasy Fiction

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 07:00

March is Women’s History Month. Woohoo! In that spirit, I wanted to dedicate this edition of Is This Just Fantasy? to the fabulous women of fantasy fiction and I asked my fellow Hub bloggers to join in the fun.  Here are some of The Hub’s favorite female characters in young adult fantasy fiction.

Alanna of Trebond from Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce (2013 Margaret A. Edwards Award)

“The heroine who comes immediately to my mind (and no doubt others as well!) is Alanna.  So strong, brave, courageous and while in the first novel she must hide her sex and pretend to be a boy, I really loved how ultimately she embraced being a woman as the series evolved.” – Sarah Debraski

Princess Cimorene from Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede

“After first encountering Cimorene in Dealing with Dragons, I was hooked. She is a princess who is bored with everything that goes with being a princess. She wants nothing to do with the not-very-bright princes she encounters and is so eager for more excitement in her life that she leaves her home to find a dragon to ‘capture’ her – the only acceptable alternative for a princess. Once she finds her dragon, she becomes the dragon’s chef and librarian (a fact I had forgotten until I recently reread this book). With Cimorene, Wrede turns princess stereotypes on their head and creates a funny, compelling, and exciting protagonist.” – Carli Spina 

Sabriel from Sabriel by Garth Nix

“My vote is for Sabriel! I am re-reading (listening to Tim Curry’s great narration in audiobook!) Sabriel by Garth Nix right now and I am remembering how great of a character she is. She’s smart but willing to learn; capable with a compassionate personality; and emotional in the best possible way. She – and Lirael in the next two books – are favorite female characters who are strong and well-drawn without being the one-note ‘strong female characters.’ ” – Anna Tschetter

Janet from Tam Lin by Pamela Dean

“Janet is smart, curious, confident. She’s unapologetically intellectual, as well as snarky, judgemental, and impatient, but she’s also very aware of her own shortcomings, and she’s honest, kind, and supportive. Janet forms believable and complicated friendships (especially with her roommates); navigates the complexities of boyfriends, libido, and 1970s birth control; keeps her grades up; and triumphs in a life-or-death struggle with the Queen of Elfland.” – Julie Bartel

Elisa from The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (2013 YALSA Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults)

“The other fantasy heroine who I admire and find so amazing is Elisa from Rae Carson’s The Girl of Fire and Thorns. Having always been coddled and sheltered she really is thrown into adventure and danger unprepared and has to work to find her inner strength. I loved watching her become a fierce courageous leader (and loving woman as well) in this trilogy.”   – Sarah Debraski

Val from Valiant by Holly Black (2006 YALSA Best Books for Young Adults)

“Val is a runaway who gets mixed up in the faerie world and I really like her development from a confused runaway to a strong fighter in Black’s novel.  This character has resonated with me, even though I read the novel years ago.  There is something awesome about Val and her willingness to leave a bad situation and try to survive on the streets, and then, when she learns about the faerie world, her fight to survive and fight to protect her new family!  Just writing this makes me want to go back and read Val’s story again!” – Colleen Seisser

Rose Hathaway from Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead (2008 YALSA Teens’ Top Ten)

Rose is just kick ass and I love it! She has the fighting skills (some from her Dhampir training and some just instinct), strength of character, and sharp tongue that every female warrior should have.  Her development through the course of Mead’s Vampire Academy series is a fantastic one and makes her such an interesting character to read and relate to.” -Colleen Seisser

Katsa from Graceling by Kristin Cashore (2009 YALSA Teens’ Top Ten, 2009 Morris Award Finalist, 2009 YALSA Best Books for Young Adults)

“I’m sure I won’t be the only one to say this, but I LOVE Katsa from Graceling. Kristin Cashore created a character that lives in a fantasy world, but faces personal decisions that mirror real world situations. She is a strong, smart female who finds a way to balance her independence with her desire for friendships, family, and romance.”    – Jessica Lind

“I’m probably not alone in that I really liked Katsa in Graceling. I liked how the book had adventure, romance, special powers, a journey, survival — a bit of everything! I really felt Katsa’s internal dilemmas regarding her Grace and what is expected of women.” – Becky O’Neil

Bitterblue from Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore (2013 YALSA Best Books for Young Adults)

“Not as flashy as Katsa (whom I loved too), Bitterblue has a lot of responsibility for someone so young.  She has no parents and a pretty traumatic past.  Yet she is brave and moral and never gives up.” – Tara Kehoe

Blue Sargent from The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater  (2013 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2014 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults)

“I have been in awe of Blue and her fascinating matriarchal family since the first sentence of The Raven Boys. Blue is integral to the plot of the entire series; she is no mere tagalong. Blue’s ability to influence other powers still leaves her powerless at times. For her strengths  and her weaknesses, Blue is a heroine I’d proudly idealize. I also love her snarky dialogue as she verbally spars with other characters rather than passively float along in someone else’s story.” – Laura Perenic

Isaboe from Finnikin of The Rock by Melina Marchetta (2011 YALSA Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults)

“Isaboe is clearly the hero of Melina Marchetta’s Finnikin of The Rock.  While Finnikin tells the story and is important too, it’s Isaboe who saves Lumatere.  She is strong, smart, and has a sense of humor.   Isaboe isn’t afraid to be ugly (as she makes herself in the beginning of the book to hide her true identity), or to fall in love, or to talk about her period.” – Tara Kehoe

Princess Tilda from Handbook for Dragon Slayers by Merrie Haskell (2014 Schneider Family Book Award Winner)

“Princess Tilda is a fairly unusual type of princess, at least in modern popular fiction: she has a disability that has not only a physical impact on her life due to the pain she encounters on a regular basis, but also because of the way that it makes the people of her kingdom view her with distrust and suspicion. At the start of the book, Tilda wants nothing more than to be left alone to become a scribe copying books, but over the course of the story she gets swept up into a mission to hunt dragons and along the way comes to a new understanding of herself and her responsibilities.”    – Carli Spina

Who are some of your favorite women in fantasy fiction?

-Kelly Dickinson, currently reading Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

The Monday Poll: Alarming First Lines in YA Lit

Sun, 03/15/2015 - 23:40

Good morning, Hub readers!

In celebration of Teen Tech Week, last week’s poll asked you to choose your favorite YA lit title featuring current technology. 45% of you voted for TTYL by Lauren Myracle, and 19% of you voted for The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler. You can see detailed results for all of our previous polls in the Polls Archive. Thanks to all of you who voted!

This week, we want you to tell us which first line from YA lit has you on edge– which one grabs you and makes you feel absolutely compelled to read on? Choose from the options below, or suggest another title in the comments!

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

2015 Hub Reading Challenge Check-In #5

Sun, 03/15/2015 - 07:00

Not signed up for YALSA’s 2015 Hub Reading Challenge? Read the official rules and sign up on the original post. Anything you’ve read since February 9 counts, so sign up now!

I was searching for something in WordPress, clicked on the wrong tag, and found myself reading a 2014 Hub Reading Challenge check-in post I wrote from just about this time last year.  In it I mostly talked about how much I’d loved the Marcus Sedgwick book I’d just finished, which is funny because I was totally going to use this post to explain how reading Sedgwick’s Ghosts of Heaven had pulled me away from challenge titles completely this week, in between gushing about how brilliant I think it is.  I’m not even sorry I picked it up, though it’s not on the list, of course.  Maybe next year?

In any case, the check marks on my list have not multiplied by much since my last check-in, but I’m up to 9 so I’m not too worried.  I did re-read Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki’s This One Summer so that I could argue about it on the Internet with the details fresh in my mind, and I liked it even more this time around.  I’m not the only one who does that, right?

Speaking of social media, don’t forget to use the hashtag #hubchallenge, and please join us over at the 2015 Goodreads Hub Reading Challenge group if you’d like to talk (or argue, or whatever!) about what you’re reading.

Remember, you have until 11:59 PM EST on June 21st to finish at least 25 challenge books.  These weekly check-in posts are a great place to track your progress, see how your fellow participants are faring, and get feedback on various titles, so don’t forget to read the comments and chime in!  If you haven’t already, don’t forget to post the Participant’s Badge on your blog, website, or email signature, and, as always, if you have any questions or problems, let us know in the comments or via email.

If you are a particularly fast reader and have already completed the challenge by reading or listening to 25 titles from the list of eligible books, be sure to fill out the form below so we can send you your Challenge Finisher badge, get in touch to coordinate your reader’s response and, perhaps best of all, to notify you if you win our exciting grand prize drawing! Be sure to use an email you check frequently and do not fill out this form until you have completed the challenge by reading 25 titles. 
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Ultimate Pi Day Eve

Fri, 03/13/2015 - 07:00

Image via flickr user koka_sexton

Happy day-before-Pi-Day! You may be familiar with Pi Day (March 14 or 3.14) from the internet or from Carli Spina’s 2013 post. But did you know that tomorrow is an extra-special version? Math fans, it is our once-in-a-lifetime chance to revel in Ultimate Pi Day — that is, the day, the year, and even the second can align to the first few numbers of our favorite constant. Be alert at 9:26 a.m. and 53 seconds for the collective squee.

Book lovers can celebrate Pi Day in a couple of different ways. The most obvious, of course, is via math-related books. I’ve written a couple posts on some favorite titles, and the good news is, there are even more to check out! The latest ones I’ve found have an interesting theme: the math prodigy.

  • In Nearly Gone, by Elle Cosimano, it’s Nearly Boswell trying to stay one step ahead of a serial killer by solving cryptic math- and science-themed clues.
  • In On A Clear Day, by Walter Dean Myers, it’s Dahlia Grillo joining a group to resist multinational corporations in the year 2035.
  • In In Real Life, by Lawrence Tabak, it’s Seth Gordon, who is so good at videogaming that he’s invited to play professionally — which means a move to Korea for training.
  • In Running Scared, by Beverley Terrell-Deutsch, it’s Gregory using numbers and equations to avoid thinking about the car accident that killed his father.
  • In The Cipher, by John C. Ford, it’s Ben as the geeky best friend of the charismatic protagonist, Smiles — but Ben has the genius code-cracking ability that sets the plot in motion.

The other way to celebrate Pi Day? Pie, of course! My search for teen books about pie came up with precious few, other than the peach pies in Chasing Jupiter and the “dangerous pie” in Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie (although I’ll leave it up to the jury if we really want to count a pie made from a “zesty blend of coffee grounds, raw eggs and their smashed shells, Coke, uncooked bacon, and three Matchbox racing cars”). Previous Hub posts have covered the plethora of baking fiction in terms of sweet treats and delicious desserts, and no one can argue with the trending cupcake.

Since baking really is a form of math, and math-related books seem to be on the upswing, perhaps more teen fiction about pies is a trend that’s just around the corner. Happy Ultimate Pi(e) Day to one and all!

–Becky O’Neil, currently reading Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel

Tweets of the Week: March 13th

Fri, 03/13/2015 - 07:00

Happy Friday the 13th, Hub Readers! While you are trying to stay one step ahead of those pesky people in hockey masks, be sure to check out these tweets of the week with news about the upcoming movie sequel to the Maze Runner, Ellen Hopkins & Night Vale!  In case you missed it…I’m here to compile it all for you!

Books & Reading

Movies/TV

Comics

Librarianship

 

— Traci Glass, currently reading The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming

Cinderella Retellings

Thu, 03/12/2015 - 07:00

With a new movie of Cinderella coming out, it’s a great time to round up some book adaptations.

 

Ash by Malinda Lo (2010 Morris finalist and 2014 Popular Paperbacks for YA Top Ten)
Ash lost both her mother and her father. Now she’s stuck in a world with an evil step mother and two wicked step-sisters. She finds solace in the fairy world and with her new friendship with the King’s Huntress. Can she find happiness on her own terms?

Before Midnight by Cameron Dokey
Cendrillon’s mother dies in childbirth. The death of her mother forces her father to abandon her, leaving her to the care of the housekeeper. Her father remarries and sends his wife and two daughters back to the cottage, without telling her about his daughter. Everything changes once the truth comes out.

Bewitching by Alex Flinn
Kendra can’t help coming to someone’s rescue, even though she shouldn’t, but Emma really needs her help. Emma’s stepsister isn’t the sweet girl she portrays. Instead Lisette steals everything Emma holds dear. Can Kendra help Emma?  

Bound by Donna Jo Napoli
Xing Xing’s father dies leaving her alone with her stepmother who only cares for securing an advantageous marraige for her own daughter. Xing Xing finds her mother’s green silk gown and gold slippers. She sneaks out and wears them to a festival where she meets a handsome but unconventional prince.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer (2012 Teens’ Top Ten and 2013 Best Fiction for YA and 2013 Reader’s Choice Book List)
The first in the Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder’s part human and part robot. Cinder doesn’t remember what happened to her before the age of 11. A stranger wanders into her station at the marketplace looking for a mechanic. To her surprise, it’s the Prince in disguise. As a plague sweeps through, Cinder might hold the answers to the future and her past.

Cinderella Ninja Warrior by Maureen McGowan
Cinderella’s held captive by her step-mother.  She can take care of herself, perfecting her skills in secret, waiting for the day until she can escape.  A ball will be held with two contests: one beauty and one magical.  Cinderella doesn’t care about the beauty contest or meeting the prince, she simply wants to win the magical competition for the wizard training opportunity. She’s determined to win her freedom.

Cindy Ella by Robin Palmer
Cindy isn’t popular, but her social life goes from nonexistent to outcast after she writes an anti-prom letter to the school newspaper. She wishes the newspaper would focus on more important issues.  With three people in her corner, Cindy isn’t about to back down. Can she still find her happily ever after without attending prom?

Dream Factory by Brad Barkley and Heather Helper
When the actors in Disney World go on strike, Ella’s hired to become the next Cinderella.  Ella marries the prince every afternoon at 3 pm. But it isn’t the prince she wants to date, it’s Luke.

Just Ella by Margaret Petterson Haddix (2005 Popular Paperbacks for YA)
Ella went to the ball and married her prince – but life afterwards isn’t happily ever after. The royals try to mold her into a perfect princess with endless rules on etiquette and protocol.  How can she escape this life and find happiness on her own terms.

Add in your favorite Cinderella tales in the comments!

~ Jennifer Rummel currently reading The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer

Narrators You Love to Hate in YA Lit

Tue, 03/10/2015 - 07:00

upauthors.com

Unreliable, whiney, un-likable, liars—we’ve all read characters like this!  I love to read a good book with a “bad” (and/or unreliable) narrator. This kind of flawed storyteller reaches to the reader and asks us to question, look deeper, and ponder truth and lies. It is a sign of an excellent author who can manipulate you to love the book and hate the character. Skilled writers make the reader believe the lies and then accept the truth.

Here are some favorite examples of protagonists I love to hate.

  • In this year’s Printz Award recipient I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson twins Noah and Jude lie to each other, lie to their parents, and lie to themselves (and by extension to us: the reader). With all the lies it’s no wonder there was so much to reveal in this tale. The sneakiness and bad treatment of each other made me distinctly dislike them. But Nelson also juxtaposed the twins’ nastiness with descriptions of how deeply they love each other.
  • Cadence from We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (2015 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults). Here is what I consider to be a likeable character and one whom I really felt for. But what if I knew the truth of what really happened that summer at the beginning of this book? Would I still have felt so sympathetic towards Cady?
  • Froi and Quintana from Melina Marchetta’s Lumatere Chronicles. Only Melina Marchetta (Printz Award winner) could take a predatory lowlife like Froi was when we first met him in Finnikin of the Rock (2011 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults) and turn him around so distinctly then lead him to star in his own story. Froi is redeemed in Finnikin of the Rock; grows in Froi of the Exiles, and become a hero in Quintana of Charyn. In the second installment of the Lumatere Chronicles Marchetta also introduces Quintana: one of the grossest characters I have ever imagined in a book and quickly made me love her. Quintana is prickly, deranged, damaged, paranoid, abused, and abusive. But she becomes a hero too—fiercely protective and thoroughly decent.

  • This One Summer (2015 Printz honor) by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki. Main character Rose is judgmental, sullen and frankly—a lot less fun than her younger buddy Windy. Rose is distinctly cruel to her mother in this tale (a woman who cannot really be that old but is even drawn in a cruelly- ageing sketch). Rose is quick to side with the townie lowlife guy (the “dud”) who works at the local store because she has a crush on him. She attempts to further sully the reputation of the local girl impregnated and ignored by the loser. I would certainly not want Rose as a friend — but Takami and Tamaki have created such a realistic portrayal of a pre-teen girl.

 

  • Monster by Walter Dean Myers (1994 Margaret A. Edwards Award winner). This 2000 Printz Award Winner is an oldie but goodie! Steve Harmon is in a juvenile detention center awaiting trial and tells his story in the form of a movie script. He was “involved” in a crime, but what really happened? How does the format in which Steve tells his side of things affect what we learn later?

  • 2015 Printz Honor Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith.  Austin Szerba is a polarizing character who dredges up strong reactions from readers all across the board. Some love Austin; dubbing him a punk and touting his “typical teenage boy” characteristics.   Some hate Austin; his self-centered arrogance, concern with only his own (male) family history, as well as his dismissive treatment of female characters.. Yet readers cannot argue that this unique book has merit.
  • Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2011 Teens’ Top Ten) Samantha Kingston is that girl from high school: the pretty, popular, and mean one whom everyone hated but also wanted to befriend. Samantha is one of the most realistically portrayed characters I have ever read. And I hated her. Sam is shallow in such a real way. Yet I cheered for her to grow into a better person by living her last day over and over; to learn to see the good in people, and become better.

Some other examples of unlikeable characters and/or unreliable narrators:

What narrators do you love to hate? Any disagree with my selections?

– Tara Kehoe, currently reading All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

 

 

 

Reading List for International Women’s Day

Mon, 03/09/2015 - 07:00

The UN’s theme for International Women’s Day this year is Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it!

Yesterday, March 8, was International Women’s Day, a holiday born out of women protesting their work in garment factories, trying to get the right to vote, and later just celebrating and trying to better the roles of women in the world. In fact in the United States, the U.K. and Australia, the entire month of March is identified as a celebration of Women’s History.

For many people, celebrating women’s history and women in general goes hand in hand with being a feminist. In 2014, feminist – being a person who believes in gender equality – became a cultural concept very much in the spotlight. Reporters and bloggers asked celebrities if they identified as feminists; Beyonce performed at the MTV music awards in front of a giant “FEMINIST” sign; and Time magazine controversially added the word to a poll of words to be banned. Other serious issues such as campus rape and Gamergate harassment made the lives of women and their treatment take center stage.

I didn’t self-identify as a feminist until middle or high school because I didn’t know that there was a word for what I had felt my whole life: that women and girls were unquestioningly the equal to men and boys and that we had the right to exciting, meaningful, and amazing books. I feel so happy and privileged to go up in a house where my 8 year old intention to be a brain surgeon during the day and a concert pianist at night was met with a supportive, “Ok.” I didn’t quite reach those heights but my family never made me feel like I couldn’t do that because I was a girl. Sadly, this is not the norm throughout the whole world, and not even in the United States.

Tangibly, materially, and in terms of rights and freedoms, there is a lot to be done for women and girls throughout the world and our country. But one of the things libraries and bookstores and readers can do is to read about lives of women and girls. By reading and sharing stories of women and girls we can show others the amazing things women can do. We can also share the struggles of women and girls and help inspire change.

Here are just a handful of books I’ve read recently that have a strong, pro-women message. They present women and girls who are strong without being caricatures; emotional without being a harmful stereotype; and most of all, full realized characters with hopes, dreams, and struggles.


Gabi, a Girl in Pieces
by Isabel Quintero (2015 Morris winner and Amelia Bloomer Project list): Gabi is a girl that I simultaneously wish I knew in high school or had been in high school. She doesn’t have all the answers but is still so confident in herself even when dealing with sexuality, her weight, family tragedies, her friends’ pregnancy and coming out, and more. She has a wonderful message of power and sense of self that speaks well to girls both struggling and not. This is also one of the few YA books I’ve read with abortion as a plot point.

Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman (2013 Alex Award): Rory Dawn has a hard life growing up in her Nevada trailer park and desperately wants to be a Girl Scout. This is a great meditation on the expectations of girlhood and poverty. 

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart (2009 Printz honor): Frankie infiltrates the boys club at her boarding school and many hijinks ensue! This book shows

I am Malala: The First Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb: The story of the young Nobel Peace Prize winner’s attack and why she believes in the importance of education.

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley (Amelia Bloomer Project list): Talley weaves a believable romance between two girls all while dealing with school integration in the 1950s South. It will definitely make you cry.

Freakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark: Centering on three characters, one a transwoman and another a questioning boy wondering about gender fluidity, this novel in verse breaks stereotypes all over the place. It’s a good reminder to many of us that remembrances such as International Women’s Day and Women’s HIstory Month need to include transgender women as well as cisgender women.

Ms. Marvel Vol 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona (Amelia Bloomer Project list): Kamala Khan is a Muslim teen growing up in Jersey City, idolizing Captain Marvel Carol Danvers and the Avengers. Getting superpowers like Captain Marvel does not diminish her fandom but makes her have to grapple with her newfound duty to help and to her family and culture. This has been the unofficial breakout hit of Marvel’s slate of comics and it deserves all the attention.

Lumberjanes Vol. 1 by Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis (to be published April 2015): Diverse campers at a Girl Scout-esque summer camp who whose exclamations – Sweet Bessie Coleman! – reflect feminism and girl power? If you haven’t been reading this in issues, check out the trade paperback. It’s fun, powerful, and all about friendship.

A Little F’d Up: Why Feminism is Not a Dirty Word by Julie Zeilinger: This is a great primer geared towards teens and young women on the history of feminism in the United States. I breaks down the “waves” of feminism and many current and former feminist issues especially like the need for the current feminism movement to include women of color and LGBTQ women.

Lastly, if you are looking for more amazing books to celebrate women, members of Feminist Task Force of the ALA work to compile the Amelia Bloomer Project book list. Every year they highlight feminist books for readers aged 0 – 18. 2015’s list - as with all of the years – has some really great titles. Another list that is great but hasn’t been updated since 2013 is Bitch Magazine’s 100 Young Adult Books for the Feminist Reader. These have more great books celebrating women for you to explore!

-Anna Tschetter, currently reading Black Widow Vol. 1, The Finely Woven Thread by Nathan Edmondson

The Monday Poll: Teen Tech Week

Sun, 03/08/2015 - 23:33

Good morning, Hub readers!

Last week, we asked you to choose the YA book that would make a hit on Broadway. Topping the votes with 43% was Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan. (It’s all about Tiny Cooper, isn’t it?) Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell followed with 25% of the vote. You can see detailed results for all of our previous polls in the Polls Archive. Thanks to all of you who voted!

This week, YALSA is celebrating Teen Tech Week – when libraries showcase all the great digital resources and services that are available to help teens succeed in school and prepare for college and 21st century careers. So we want to know about your favorite YA book featuring current tech. Choose from the options below, or suggest another title in the comments!

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

2015 Hub Reading Challenge Check-In #4

Sun, 03/08/2015 - 07:00

Not signed up for YALSA’s 2015 Hub Reading Challenge? Read the official rules and sign up on the original post. Anything you’ve read since February 9 counts, so sign up now!

Now that we are a few weeks into the 2015 Hub Reading Challenge but still have more than three months before the deadline, I thought it would be interesting to discuss strategies for completing the Challenge. Personally, I’ve had a busy winter, so I haven’t been able to get started yet and I am already thinking about how I am going to catch up. So, I want to hear from all of you. What approach do you take to the Challenge? Have you already finished all 25 books? Are you just reading down the list or are you organizing your reading list by genre or favorite authors? Do you try to move outside your comfort zone when you are picking books from the list? Or do you stick to familiar territory? Do you have a goal for each week or month? Do you review the comments from other Hub Challenge participants on Twitter using the #hubchallenge hashtag or have you joined the 2015 Goodreads Hub Reading Challenge group to find out what to move up on your to-be-read pile? Are you at the mercy of your library’s hold list? No matter what system you are using, I would love to hear more about it and the books you’ve read so far. And, even if you haven’t gotten started yet like me, let me know in the comments if you have a plan for how you are going to finish in time for the June 21st deadline.

Don’t forget that books you read for the Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge count for this challenge as well, but if you’ve read any of the other books prior to February 9, you’ll have to re-read them if you want to count them towards your total.

You have until 11:59 PM EST on June 21st to finish at least 25 books. When you read the weekly check-in posts, again, please don’t forget to read the comments and keep track of your progress by commenting yourself! If you review books online, please include links to your reviews. Also, don’t forget to post the Participant’s Badge on your blog, website, or email signature, and, as always, if you have any questions or problems, let us know in the comments or via email.

If you are a particularly fast reader and have already completed the challenge by reading or listening to 25 titles from the list of eligible books, be sure to fill out the form below so we can send you your Challenge Finisher badge, get in touch to coordinate your reader’s response and, perhaps best of all, to notify you if you win our exciting grand prize drawing! Be sure to use an email you check frequently and do not fill out this form until you have completed the challenge by reading 25 titles. 

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