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Your Connection to Teen Reads
Updated: 15 hours 43 min ago

Notes from a Teens’ Top Ten Book Group Participant: Fangirl Fantasy Casting

Thu, 03/05/2015 - 04:00

Teens across the nation voted for the 2014 Teens’ Top Ten list, and the winners have been announced- 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 groupsin school and public libraries around the country. To give you a glimpse of some of the teens behind this process, we’re featuring posts from Teens’ Top Ten book groups here on The Hub. Today we have a video creation from Marissa Muller of Mount Carmel Academy in New Orleans. 

I love reading books about adventure, romance, and fantasy. I especially enjoy reading books with a strong and relatable female main character. I read because I find it relaxing and it helps get my mind off the problems I’m facing in my world. Reading transports me to the deepest parts of my imagination and lets me live out a thousand different dreams. What I like about being a Teens’ Top Ten / YA Galley Project club is that we are not only reading the books but we as readers feel connected to those books because we are giving feedback to the author and publishers.

I was inspired to make my fantasy casting of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl because one, it helps people better visualize and immerse themselves in a book, and two, I would love to see this book one day become a movie.

 

Jukebooks: Everybody Knows Your Name by Andrea Seigel & Brent Bradshaw

Wed, 03/04/2015 - 07:00

It’s a really big deal to be selected as a contestant on Spotlight. Teens from all over the country audition for a place on the reality show/singing competition. Some, like Ford, hailing from very small town Arkansas, see this as the chance to escape a bleak future. Others, such as Magnolia, are not even certain why they are there. All come to be molded into sell-able images and, incidentally, sing. But sometimes something genuine happens, even in the world of fake reality.

So here is a book that is chock-full of songs. It was hard to pick one, so I’ve included a playlist that includes songs picked by Magnolia and Ford while they travel cross-country. See if you can guess who picked each song!

 

1. Alicia Keys – “Try Sleeping With a Broken Heart”

http://www.yalsa.ala.org/thehub/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/01-01-Try-Sleeping-with-a-Broken-HeartedDC.mp3

2. Bob Dylan – Blood on the Tracks (This is the title of an album, so I’ve chosen just one track, “Shelter from the Storm”)

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3. Britney Spears - “Til the World Ends”

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4. Spoon - “The Underdog”

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5. Fleetwood Mac - “Gypsy”

http://www.yalsa.ala.org/thehub/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/01-06-GypsyedDC.mp3

6. Led Zeppelin - “When the Levee Breaks”

http://www.yalsa.ala.org/thehub/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/01-08-When-The-Levee-BreaksedDC.mp3

7. Haim - “The Wire”

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8. Iggy Pop - “The Passenger”

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9. Prince - “I Would Die 4 U”

http://www.yalsa.ala.org/thehub/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/07-I-Would-Die-4-U.mp3

10. The Rolling Stones Exile on Main Street (Another album! I picked “Tumbling Dice off this one.)

http://www.yalsa.ala.org/thehub/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/05-Tumbling-Dice.mp3

Double Cover Trouble

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 07:00

We all have our share of complaints about book covers – especially YA book covers. Dead-looking girls on covers, pretty dresses, white people, and almost-kisses abound. Lately, it looks like cover design has gotten better. It’s more focused on cool fonts, graphic design, symbolic representation. Slowly but surely, we’re seeing more people of color, and they’re less obscured by shadows, objects, or silhouettes. Happy as this makes me, I am a little worried about these upcoming titles and their ability to stand out in a crowd. A cover, whether we like it or not, directs a lot of a book’s interest and determines its circulation, and these are perhaps a bit too similar to other titles coming up. Make sure you study up now; you’re bound to have to clear up confusion for your patrons or yourselves when these almost-twins are released.


Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer and Forever for a Year by B.T. Gottfried
In addition to similar-sounding titles, these covers feature similar fonts and shared curves, one with a film strip and one with cherries. Hillyer’s book, due out June 2, is about summer camp and second chances. One-time friends accidentally reunite and have the chance to recreate and perfect a summer – and figure out why their friendship ended. Gottfred’s book (July 7) is a romance, but it also deals with how forevers can be broken and it can be hard to pick up the pieces. Still, the plots should be different enough that you can figure out which one a patron is asking for – so long as you keep the titles straight.


Kissing in America by Margo Rabb and I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
On May 26, Rabb’s novel about heartbreak and road trips drops. The cover seems to indicate that there will be many stops at motels on the road while protagonist Eva journeys to find her lost love, Will. Demetrios’ book, which came out on February 3, has a bit of a head start. Its characters are staying put – but they work at a roadside motel. Rabb’s cover is a bit busier, but if Demetrios’ book is still hot when Rabb’s comes out, expect a bit of confusion. Both really call attention to themselves.


None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio and Things We Know By Heart by Jessi Kirby
Starkly different content in these books, which look related thanks to their title-centric line-by-line covers, sans-serif fonts, and handwritten details. Each looks like a nice, simple cover that an actual reader took and marked up. Gregorio’s will be here April 7, and Kirby’s follows two weeks later on April 21. The former is like Middlesex for teens with a more contemporary feel, dealing with coming to terms with being intersex. Things We Know By Heart also deals with the world of interesting medical conundrums. It’s about a girl who tracks down the recipient of her late boyfriend’s donor heart. Still, you should be able to keep these ones straight.


All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven and The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre
Niven’s novel, an Eleanor and Park readalike released last month, is sure to remain popular for awhile thanks to movie buzz and aggressive marketing from the publisher. Teens are sure to go for this romance between two people who need each other to bring out their true selves…. and that’s why I worry about Aguirre’s book, due out on April 7, which deals with similar themes, has a shared word in the title, and also has post-its on the cover. One tip: Niven’s book is about a boy obsessed with death, and Aguirre’s male lead loves guitar.


The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Gray and The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
You might think that because Hawkins’ book is published for adults and is already published that you’ll have no trouble keeping these titles straight. But between the jewel-toned covers and similar titles and the fact that your library likely has a 100+ hold list on The Girl on the Train, I’m willing to bet that when you put Gray’s title on your New Books display on April 28, people will flock to it and think it’s the other. Just remember that Gray’s YA book is a fantasy for fans of Holly Black or Sarah Rees Brennan, and Hawkins’ adult novel is a contemporary thriller in the vein of Gone Girl.


All Fall Down by Ally Carter and After the Red Rain by Barry Lyga, Peter Facinelli and Robert DeFranco
If you don’t remember the one on the left, that’s probably because it was released recently, instantly checked out, and now it’s permanently on hold for everyone. Popular author Carter started a new series with more international intrigue and adventure, about a girl who wants to avenge her mother’s death. This novel came out recently, so it will have a head start over this three-creator title on the right, which doesn’t arrive until August 4 and takes a post-apocalyptic approach. However, given that Carter’s book will likely still be in heavy circulation through the summer, you may do well to familiarize yourself with the two, since the only thing that visually sets them apart is the size of the girl on the cover and what she’s standing on. Then again, they both say “action” so strongly that readers may want both.


I thought I had finished this one, but then I logged into NetGalley and saw Charlie, Presumed Dead on offer, and I thought to myself, “I know I’ve seen that before!” Turns out I kind of have. May 19, Schmidt’s new series opener (Once Upon a Crime Family) drops, so you’ll see a dark and contemporary retelling of The Princess and the Pea in this story about a girl who suffers from a rare autoimmune disorder that makes her bruise easily. Heltzel’s book comes out soon after, on June 2, and also deals with a crime – possible homicide – but its focus is mystery and adventure. While they’re sure to confuse people, I do think that the sans serif font and dark presentation of things we consider light and beautiful make for a compelling cover look.

Have you noticed any other near-twins out there?

–Hannah Gómez, currently reading Gulp by Mary Roach and listening to Where We Belong by Emily Giffin

The Monday Poll: YA Lit Destined for Broadway

Mon, 03/02/2015 - 00:03

Good morning, Hub readers!

Last week, we wanted you to choose your favorite teen superhero in comics. Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel took the top spot with 45% of the vote, followed by Barbara Gordon as Batgirl, with 32%. Nice choices, Hub readers! 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 YA book would make a hit Broadway musical– and be sure to leave fantasy casting notes in the comments! I feel like I could see the talented Anna Kendrick as Hazel Grace in a musical adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars, personally. Choose from the options below, or we’d love to hear your own suggestion!

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 #3

Sun, 03/01/2015 - 07:00

Not signed up for YALSA’s 2014 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!

Are you familiar with the modern aphorism “don’t read the comments?” In general, online, it is wise advice, but it does not apply to The Hub and it especially does not apply to the annual Reading Challenge! There are so many books to choose from. Look at this list! If you feel overwhelmed, I encourage you to find all the posts tagged “2015 Hub Reading Challenge” and then read their comments, reply to people, maybe start a dialog. Hub readers are encouraging, cheerful, and smart. They offer good, well articulated insights into what they like and dislike about books. You will get a solid feeling about books you may be waffling on. And you can get so much support from your fellow readers as you all work towards completing the challenge.

As you work on the challenge, why not share your progress on social media? On Twitter please use the hashtag #hubchallenge.  If you are a Goodreads person, you can join the 2015 Goodreads Hub Reading Challenge group.

Don’t forget that the titles you read during the Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge count for this challenge but if you’ve read any of the other books before February 9, you’ll have to read them again to make them count.

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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Tweets of the Week: February 27th

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 07:00

Here is a roundup of your tweets for the week! When people weren’t tweeting about #llamadrama and #thedress, they were tweeting about a lot of great #yalit

Book News 

TV/Movie News

Librarianship

Just for Fun

-Katie Shanahan Yu, currently reading Dead of Winter by Kresley Cole

One Thing Leads to Another: An Interview with Gail Carriger

Thu, 02/26/2015 - 07:00

Check out previous interviews in the One Thing Leads to Another series here.

I grew up reading and re-reading Verne, Kipling, Stevenson, Doyle, and the not-Victorian mysteries of Agatha Christie while trying to memorize the entirety of Tennyson’s “Lady of Shalott” for reasons I’m still not certain I could articulate.  At the same time, I fancied myself something of an amateur naturalist (though at 10 I probably wouldn’t have used that word) and spent an inordinate amount of time messing around with age-inappropriate powders and vials that resulted in the cigar-box pinning and labeling of many unfortunate insects.  My teen years were draped in velvet, and at 16 I felt that elbow-length black silk evening gloves were appropriate for almost every occasion, including math class.  And I spent too much time thinking about and trying to procure tea, which was not at all easy to come by in my small mountain-ringed Utah town.

In other words, Gail Carriger is in oh so many ways the wheelhouse of my formative years, discovered slightly later, but no less welcome for that.  The world she creates (and it is a world, both on and off the page) is full of dirigibles, social commentary, mechanicals, custard, tea, diabolical secret societies, werewolves, proper manners, perfect curtsies, and treacle tarts, which is to say it’s delightful and immersive and subversive all at once.  If you’re looking for fun and froth, mystery and adventures, parasols and poison, Gail’s world is what you want; if it’s an ongoing and masterful dismantling of the Hero’s Journey, the Parasol Protectorate series is just the thing; if an unusual heroine (“with family and friends,” as Spike bemoans) flying cheese pie, and subtle examinations of race, class, and gender, among other things, sound exciting, you need to meet Sophronia, of the Finishing School series.  Or you might be, like me, waiting for the release of Prudence (The Custard Protocol: Book One) on March 17th because it’s impossible to resist a book wherein “a marauding team of outrageous miscreants in a high tech dirigible [charges] about fixing things, loudly and mainly with tea.”

Please imagine me performing one perfect curtsy here.  Thank you, Gail!

Always Something There to Remind Me
Photo by Robert Andruszko

Please describe your teenage self.

A demanding, arrogant, overachiever nerd-type with an unexpected interest in fashion who was constantly reading or writing. Not all that different from now, frankly. Except perhaps the overachiever part.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Why?

An archaeologist, because I wanted to touch history.

What were your high school years like? 

I actually really enjoyed high school. I met, made, and kept most of my still-dearest friends. I remember laughing… a lot. I wasn’t a depressive kid. I didn’t have an identity crisis. I was proud to be weird, nerdy, and an outsider. I spoke up in class. I had a healthy relationship with food and exercise. I went to my first convention. I learned to sew and took up cosplay. I was the first to drive amongst my group, so I had purpose. I was a scholarship kid at a prep school so I was challenged. I had some fantastic teachers. And if I did need to escape, I just read books.

What were some of your passions during that time?

I remember being obsessed with Monty Python, Tamora Pierce, and dancing. I was on the swim team, but never really a team player. Dressing up and thrifting for unique fashion was very important. This was the 90s, so grunge was in and it was easy to be stylish on the cheap. I got into throwing massive costume parties and my house quickly became one of the primary gathering places (I had the “cool parents,” still do).

Would you be willing to share a difficult teen experience or challenge that you feel shaped the adult you became?

My parents’ divorce was rough, but then I had plenty of role models. Nearly all my friends were also the children of divorced parents; I just came to it later than everyone else. It didn’t really effect how I thought about romance, but it did force me to rethink how I conceived of family. As a result threads of friendship, and the concept of building one’s own family, and the importance of loyalty weave through many of my books. My main characters are never going to be solitary agents against the universe in a hero’s journey kind of way.  In fact, I react strongly against that archetype.

What about a positive experience or accomplishment that had an impact on your adult self?

I was taken under the wing of a series of wonderful teachers and librarians. I think they contributed into making me the author I am today, not just how I write, but how I interact with my readers and my fellow authors. These are MY people and I feel a real sense of responsibility to passing along the mentorship I received as a teen. I also inherited a sense of showmanship. My favorite teachers were also entertainers, thus I believe it’s important to amuse as well as educate. The first makes the second so much more palatable.

What advice, if any, would you give your teen self? Would your teen self have listened?

Don’t give up dancing. However, I don’t think the teen me would have listened. I was still a teen, and I thought my body would last forever, fit and healthy.

Do you have any regrets about your teen years? Anything left undone or anything that might have been better left undone?

Nope. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t do it any differently.

What, if anything, do you miss most about that time?

The lack of aches and pains.

Every Day I Write the Book

You’re a “real live archeologist” and despite describing fieldwork as “mind-numbingly dull,” you clearly loved your work and converse enthusiastically about “8-12th century Islamic ceramics,” the Etruscans, and Peruvian kilns, among other things. Having participated in excavations all over the world as an expert in your field, I have to ask: any daring adventures, embarrassing stories, or nefarious deeds you’d be willing to share?

There’s a lot of trudging through Italian forests (yes, forests), getting excited over fragments of pottery, being stranded at airports, but really it isn’t at all like Indiana Jones.

Steampunk seems to be both what you write and the inspiration behind your persona, and you look like you’re having a great deal of fun with both. I’m curious, though, whether you ever feel constrained by those boundaries, either in your work or in the expectations of your readers?

You know, I worried about this when I started this madcap switch in careers, but no, I pretty much love it. This may be because I see myself as an artisan not an artist — a distinction made by archaeologists between those who produce art as a hobby and those who produce for a consumer marketplace. I write what I want, yes, but I can tailor what I want to what I think my readers want too. And I don’t think there is anything wrong, or lowly, or base about that. You might call me a workhorse author. I try to make my deadlines and keep to the style readers expect from me. I think it comes back around to how much I value loyalty and the sense of mutual identity I feel with readers.

I’m impressed by the clear, consistent, and unusual themes throughout your books, themes that you’ve acknowledged sneak in, like “strong willed women, [the] benefits of practicality, [and] tolerance of alternative lifestyles,” and themes that you deliberately set out to explore like “the idea that in order to succeed a hero/heroine must be strong and independent and act alone.” Despite the appearance of frothy adventure and exuberant absurdity in your work, you explore these themes in some depth–but never overtly; it’s a fine balancing act.  Does walking that tightrope come naturally to you as a writer or are there techniques you use to make sure you’re never didactic or heavy-handed?  Could you talk a little about your influences when it comes to creating characters that are “strong in the way that you or I would be strong”?

I think the characters and underlying themes come pretty naturally to me, it’s the plot and series arcs that require work. While I am actively writing a rough draft, I keep only two things in mind: keep writing and don’t lose the funny. People will forgive a lot if you make them laugh. If you can make someone laugh and also think? That’s magic. For me, there can be no greater achievement. As for influences on characters, my friends have had the biggest impact. I have been so very lucky to be surrounded by a ranging group of pure awesomeness. Not only do they not mind that they trickle into my books, they occasionally dress up as themselves as my characters… its very meta.

In an interview some years ago you said you “always try to have strong opinions on frivolous subjects and weak opinions on serious matters,” which keeps you “young and irreverent.” Is this still the case? Would you be willing to share some of your strong (and/or weak) opinions with us?

Did I say that? How very accurate. Yes it is still true. Many of my strong opinions surround food, tea, and clothing. But I can discuss the epistemological state of scientific truths for hours. An example? PJs, sweats, and yoga pants should not be seen in public unless you are a. deathly ill, b. sleepwalking, or c. actually exercising. Lavender, rose, and violet should be kept out of all things food related, and while we are at it keep your darn child off my flipping chocolate! I won’t even start on fruit flavoring in black teas. For the love, why? And I could keep going…

Just Can’t Get Enough

Question from Garth Nix: If you re-read, what is the book you turn to when you are weary with the world, and what do you think it is that about that book that lifts you up again or gives you respite?

It depends on what soul wound I’m feeling. Taming the Forest King by Claudia J. Edwards reminds me of the enduring nature of real love and that it’s OK to take on the responsibility for someone else’s heart. The Daughter of the Empire series by Feist and Wurts reminds me that one requires intelligence to handle responsibility and duty with grace. The Forgotten Beasts of Eld is my escape book, it reminds me of nothing to do with my own life, just carries me away. And the Song of the Lioness Quartet is my rock. Tamora Pierce manages to write in such a way as to remind me of who I was, and who I wanted to be then, and that I should keep fighting for the integrity of my ideal identity.

Gail has contributed a question for the next author in the series, Laura Ruby.  Watch for an interview with her coming soon!
 

Gail Carriger writes to cope with being raised in obscurity by an expatriate Brit and an incurable curmudgeon. She escaped small town life and inadvertently acquired several degrees in higher learning, a fondness for cephalopods, and a chronic tea habit.

Her books are urbane fantasies mixed with steampunk comedies of manners. They have now been published in over a dozen different languages and she received the Prix Julia Verlanger from French readers. Her debut novel, Soulless, won the ALA’s Alex Award and was nominated for the Compton Crook, Campbell, and Locus Awards. All five in the Parasol Protectorate series (including Changeless, Blameless, Heartless, and Timeless) plus manga adaptations Soulless Vol. 1-3 were New York Times Bestsellers.  Curtsies & Conspiracies, the second in her critically acclaimed Finishing School series for young adults, debuted at #5. The first book in the series, Etiquette & Espionage,won the French Elbakin Award for best YA novel in translation. The first book in her new Custard Protocol adult series, Prudence, releases March 17, 2015.

Her other hats (neither pith helmet nor fedora) have included tromping the globe excavating ancient cultures, torturing undergraduates with science, and writing cryptic reviews of YA novels for the Horn Book Guide.

You can find Gail via her website, on Blogspot, Twitter, Goodreads, Tumblr, or Facebook. She also has a ridiculously silly newsletter, The Monthly Chirrup.

Jukebooks: Hold Tight, Don’t Let Go by Laura Rose Wagner

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 07:00

Before the earthquake, Magdalie was a fifteen year-old girl living with her aunt and beloved cousin, Nadine. After the earthquake, Magdalie and Nadine were everything to each other. The survival of each became entwined with the other. They dreamed of the day that they would travel to Miami together, how they would go see movies, get belly piercings, and live in air conditioning. Too soon, Nadine gets the chance to leave. Magdalie can only try to save money and hope that she will also leave her homeland, if that indeed becomes her choice.

So what kind of music do Haitian kids listen to? Magdalie and Nadine like Justin Bieber, Rihanna, and Beyonce. Of special interest is the ring tone Nadine has for a special boy friend: “Je lui dirai,” sung by Celine Dion. This emphasizes the French influence on two very different cultures – Quebec and Haiti. The novel weaves together the languages of Haiti – English, Creole, and French. The musical tastes of Magdalie and Nadine embrace popular music from all of these influences.

Diane Colson, currently reading an advance reader’s copy of The Truth Commission by Susan Juby.

Celebrating Sharon Draper

Tue, 02/24/2015 - 07:00

As the U.S. celebrates Black History Month (and many broaden the discussion via #morethanamonth, #blackfuturemonth and #BlackHistoryYouDidntLearnInSchool), we teen lit fans have a chance to further amplify the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement and spotlight African American book characters and authors. This year’s ALA Youth Media Awards gave us several welcome chances to highlight diversity via award winners, especially the 2015 Margaret A. Edwards Award winner, Sharon Draper, whose “significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature” is no secret to her fans.

The award is for these titles:

Pam Olszewski’s 8th grade Language Arts class in Westerville, Ohio, knows Draper’s work well. They can choose Tears of a Tiger, Forged by Fire, or Darkness Before Dawn for their realistic fiction novel, and told me why her work speaks to them:

There’s a lot of cliffhangers. You have a bond with [the characters]. It feels like they’re a real person. And the books are set in Ohio. –Bankole

Realistic and heart-moving. –Robert

Really inspiring. I felt like I wanted to read all of them. –Ethan K.

Reluctant readers can connect with her characters in a way that encourages them to read. I haven’t met a kid yet who didn’t love her work. –Mrs. Olszewski

I love finding out how authors get their start at writing, and Sharon Draper’s “author origin story” has to be one of the best. According to this BookPage interview, she was already an accomplished classroom teacher when she was challenged by a student from the back row one day: “Why don’t you write something?” She took this challenge to heart. Since entering and winning first prize in a literary contest, her prodigious book output has been capturing the attention of readers both inside the classroom and out. Draper has also written additional books for teens, books for tweens, books for teachers, and two books of poetry.

Even if you haven’t read one of her titles (and there’s no time like the present!), you probably know a teen who has. Ask around and start a discussion! Book award season, diversity movements, #blacklivesmatter, Black History Month, and even challenging one’s teacher to become a writer can all be catalysts for positive connection and change. You never know what may result! Congratulations, Sharon Draper!

-Becky O’Neil, currently reading Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell

For the Love of Dogs (and a Few Wolves): Canines in YA Literature

Mon, 02/23/2015 - 07:00

Image by NDPetitt. See: http://www.morguefile.com/creative/NDPetitt

This Valentine’s Day, because my husband needed to be away, my dog was my date.  That evening she and I took a walk, had dinner and lounged on the couch together.  I read while she dozed and snored.  In other words, we had a perfect evening.  This made me think that in this month of love, I’d like to honor our canine friends who devote themselves to us so unconditionally.

Below are several YA novels (and one adult novel well-suited to teens), some in print and some in graphic format, in which canines play a large part.  They may be the main character’s best friend or arch enemy, or even the story’s protagonist.  I’ve taken the liberty of including a few books with wolves. I’m hoping you’ll agree that the probable common ancestry of wolves and dogs — and also just the fact that these “wolf” novels are pretty great — justifies the inclusion of these works.

Make sure to also check out earlier Hub posts about dogs and other animals in YA literature.  See Laura Perenic’s “Dog Days of Summer…Reading” (8/7/12) and Kate McNair’s “Animals Who Shine” (9/14/12).

Laika by Nick Abadzis (2008 Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens)

This is a fictionalized account of Laika, the Samoyed-husky who in November 1957 became the first sentient being to leave Earth’s orbit, on the Sputnik II satellite.  A dog who had survived on the streets of Russia, she was taken by scientists in order to further their space program, her life knowingly sacrificed.  This is a powerful and poignant graphic novel which shows how politics can generate intense pressure on scientists to be first in their field.  (younger teen graphic novel)

 

BB Wolf and the Three LPs by J. D. Arnold & Rich Koslowski (2011 Great Graphic Novels for Teens)

This graphic novel turns the story of The Three Little Pigs on its head.  In this version, BB Wolf is a farmer and blues musician in the Mississippi Delta in the 1920s. When the pigs decide that they’re going to take his land, BB Wolf strikes back in revenge.  There are parallels here to Jim Crow racial segregation and oppression and also to the life of the real Barnabus Benjamin Wolf, who influenced American Blues music and was executed for murder.  (older teen graphic novel) 

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (2007 Alex Awards)

In this fantasy novel for adults, twelve-year-old David, in search of his late mother, enters an alternate world of fairy tale characters and frightening creatures.  One of the David’s principal foes there is Leroi, who is a half-human wolf, the son of Little Red Riding Hood.  Leroi is plotting to take over the kingdom in which David finds himself.  If David ever wants to make it home to his family and town in England, he must reach the king in time to foil Leroi’s plans.  (adult fiction)

 

Cracker!: The Best Dog in Vietnam by Cynthia Kadohata

Based on Kadohata’s thorough research into the U.S. Army’s canine program, Cracker! is the story of a German shepherd of the same name who becomes an Army booby-trap-finding and ambush-detecting dog in Vietnam in the 1960s. Chapters are told from the alternating viewpoints of Cracker and her handler, Rick.  At one point, the two become separated, prompting Cracker to initiate an arduous journey to find her best friend.  (younger teen fiction)

 

Last Chance by Norah McClintock

The first of a mystery series, this novel begins the story of Robyn Hunter, a high school student who is volunteering at an animal shelter as punishment for breaking a window during an animal rights protest.  In this job she must confront her phobia of dogs, stemming from an attack by a German shepherd when she was a child.  Also mandated to volunteer is Nick, Robyn’s former middle school classmate who has been in some trouble with the law.  Robyn begins to think that Nick may be innocent of the violent crime of which he is currently accused.  (older teen fiction)

 

Edge of Nowhere by John E. Smelcer

Smelcer, an archaeologist, anthropologist, Ahtna tribal member and a writer in both English and Inuit, knows the Alaskan setting of this novel very well. He writes with authority about part-Native American sixteen-year-old Seth, who is swept overboard from his dad’s salmon-fishing boat, along with his golden retriever, Tucker.  Seth and Tucker must survive as they swim between and traverse a chain of islands, trying to find their way back home.  (younger teen fiction)

 

Robot Dreams by Sara Varon (2008 Great Graphic Novels for Teens)

This nearly wordless graphic novel tells the story of a dog and the robot which he builds to fulfill his need for companionship.  After a fun day together at the library and movie theater, they end up at the beach, where the robot reluctantly begins playing in the water.  He unfortunately rusts as a result and, because he then can’t move, the dog leaves him on the beach. The two then begin separate lives with, needless to say, very different possibilities.  This story encompasses many themes, including guilt, the quest for freedom, friendship, loss and making the best of life.  (younger teen graphic novel)

 

Dust City by Robert Paul Weston

In this fantasy/mystery, Henry Whelp is a teenage wolf who is one of many animals of human size and intelligence.  Henry tries to clear his dad of the charge of killing Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother.  Through its focus on “real” and synthetic fairy dust, this novel demonstrates the hold of mind-altering drugs on society and the havoc that this wreaks.  (younger teen fiction)

– Anna Dalin, currently reading Nantucket Red by Leila Howland

The Monday Poll: Your Favorite Teen Superhero

Sun, 02/22/2015 - 23:22

Good morning, Hub readers!

Last week, we asked you to name the YA book-to-screen adaptation you’re most looking forward to this year. Looks like most of you will be lining up for Mockingjay Part 2, which pulled in 39% of the vote. Paper Towns is also highly anticipated, with 29%. You can see detailed results for all of our previous polls in the Polls Archive. Thanks to all of you who voted!

This week, since Comic-Con 2015 registration just opened (and promptly sold out), we’ve got comics on the brain. Who’s your favorite teen superhero or heroine? Choose from the options below, or add your own suggestion 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 #2

Sun, 02/22/2015 - 07:00

Not signed up for YALSA’s 2014 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!

Hello readers!  How is the challenge going?  I’m not participating this year because 1. I have read a lot of the titles already since I was on the 2015 Quick Picks Committee and 2. I am on another committee and need to read those books. I can tell you that I have already read 23 titles on this list. Maybe on my next check-in I’ll let you know which ones were favorites and which one had me cackling in laughter.

If you are a social media person (like me!), be sure to share your thoughts on Twitter using the hashtag #hubchallenge.  You can also join the conversation over at the 2015 Goodreads Hub Reading Challenge group.

The titles you read during the Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge totally count, so make sure you count them! I didn’t read any during that time, but I had already read four before the announcements for my committee.

You have until 11:59 PM EST on June 21st to finish all 25 books which is plenty of time, right?  Keep track of your progress by commenting on the weekly check-in posts to let us know how you’re doing and what you’re reading and/or listening to; if you’ve reviewed those titles somewhere online, please include links to your reviews! Don’t forget to grab the Participant’s Badge for 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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From Page To Screen: A ‘We Need Diverse Books’ Wish List

Fri, 02/20/2015 - 07:00

image from Flickr user Kenneth Lu (https://www.flickr.com/photos/toasty/)

As the number of film adaptations set to be released  in the 2015 illustrates, Hollywood seems firmly committed to turning to the world of young adult fiction for inspiration–and box office success.  While this trend is exciting for YA fiction fans, the lack of the diversity present in the stories selected remains disheartening. While planning a recent movie night at my library, I was freshly reminded of this problem and as usual, I took to Twitter to share my frustration.

The ensuing discussion was vibrant and, inspired,  I polled friends & colleagues to develop a wish list of diverse young adult novels we’d like to see on the silver screen.

Everything Leads To You - Nina LaCour (2015 Rainbow List, 2015 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults)

Talented young set designer Emi is spending the summer before college with her best friend Charlotte in Emi’s older brother’s apartment when an estate sale & a mysterious letter brings Ava into her life. But despite their immediate, electric connection, Emi & Ava each have pain in their past and their path to happily ever after will be far from simple.  Between Emi and Ava’s “will they or won’t they” chemistry, great supporting characters and an intriguing setting, you’ve got the perfect rom-com of the summer!

One Man Guy - Michael Barakiva (2015 Rainbow List)

Alek Khederian assumed that summer school will be an extension of his horrible freshman year; he never expected that it would lead him to Ethan.  Alek can’t imagine why someone like confident skateboarder Ethan wants to hang out with him and when romantic sparks start to fly between them, Alek will have re-evaluate everything he knew about himself. This novel isn’t just a lovely coming of age tale–it’s a love letter to New York City and Alek’s Armenian heritage featuring a built-in soundtrack of Rufus Wainwright songs.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Benjamin Alire Saenz (2013 Stonewall Book Award, 2013 Prinz Honor, 2013 Pura Belpre Award, 2013 Rainbow List, 2013 YALSA Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults)

On the surface, Ari and Dante don’t appear to have much in common. While Ari is taciturn and shy, Dante can start up a conversation with anyone. Ari is angry and sometimes inarticulate; Dante is outrageously optimistic and creative. From their first meeting at the swimming pool one hot summer day, Ari and Dante form an unbreakable bond.  In the right hands, a film version of Ari and Dante’s story could be one of the loveliest surprise hits of the year.


Other diverse romances we’d love to see on the big screen include: Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles (recommended by Katelyn Browne), Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (suggested by Hub blogger Erin Daly), and, one of personal favorites,  If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson.

If I Ever Get Out Of Here - Eric Gansworth (2014 American Indian Library Association Honor Book, 2014 YALSA Best Fiction For Young Adults)

Lewis “Shoe” Blake doesn’t feel like he’s had the best of luck in life so far. His family is the definition of dirt poor, he’s the only kid from the Tuscarora Indian Reservation in the advanced class at school, and he’s a regularly bullied. But at least Lewis knows what to expect–until George Haddonfield shows up. George seems happy to talk to Lewis and fueled by their shared passion for the Beatles, they build an unlikely friendship.  Again, this novel comes with a fantastic soundtrack already in place and it would bring a much needed Native voice to the cinema, if created in cooperation with the author and the Tuscarora Indian Reservation and cast with Native American actors.

Ms. Marvel: No Normal written by G. Willow Wilson and illustrated by Alphona Adrian (2015 YALSA Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens, 2015 Top Ten Amelia Bloomer List)

Since its release, this graphic novel has been collecting praise and honors left and right. The introduction of seemingly ordinary Muslim American teenager Kamala Khan as the newest Ms. Marvel is funny, action-packed, and thought-provoking.  Considering the current media domination of Marvel superheroes, there’s no better time to bring Kamala Khan to the big screen!  This title was not only on my wish list–it was mentioned by several others include Hub blogger Erin Daly and librarian Katelyn Browne.

Beauty Queens - Libba Bray (2012 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2012 Amelia Bloomer List, 2012 Rainbow List)

This feminist satire would be a challenging project to adapt but if done well, it could be stupendous! When their plane crashes on an apparently deserted island, the surviving contestants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant suddenly have much bigger things to worry about than their lipstick supply and talent routines. But instead of resorting to violent conflict, the teens bond together and channel their wills to win into the quest for survival.

 

The Darkest Part of the Forest – Holly Black

Considering the recent upswing in fairytale-inspired films ranging from Into The Woods to the live-action Cinderella coming out in March, this new fantasy seems right on trend.  In the strange town of Fairfold, humans and fae folk live side by side, under a delicate peace.  Hazel and her brother Ben grew up playing at being knight & bard and daydreaming about the horned boy asleep in a glass coffin in the forest.  But now the horned boy has woken up, bringing all sorts of dark chaos with him.  This rich fantasy flips around the heteronormative tropes and traditional gender roles prevalent in fairytales–something I’d love to see more often in Hollywood.

Love Is the Drug  – Alaya Dawn Johnson

Between its action-packed conspiracy plot, its astute examination of racial identity, and its heady romance, this thriller seems built for the big screen–especially today when race, government, and privilege remain at the forefront of the cultural conversation. ‘Good girl’ Emily Bird wakes up in the hospital, confused and weak.  She’s told that there was an accident with designer drugs at a party but senses there’s more going on. Bird teams up with Coffee, a drug-dealing & conspiracy theory-spouting diplomat’s son, to dive into a thrilling adventure that will force Bird to confront sinister government secrets and her own unclear future.  Hub blogger Hannah Gomez & I both placed this novel high on our movie adaptation wish lists!

Hub blogger Sharon Rawlins is also hoping for film versions of Alaya Dawn Johnson’s The Summer Prince, Nnedi Okorafor’s Akata Witch and Tara Sullivan’s Golden Boy. 

What diverse young adult titles are on your page to screen wish list?

-Kelly Dickinson, currently reading All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Tweets of the Week: February 20th

Fri, 02/20/2015 - 07:00

Diversity discussions continue this week, with an analysis of reviews by Malinda Lo and a report from the CBCC.

Book News

 

Diversity in YA

Movies & TV

Comics & Graphic Novels

 Librarianship

— Molly Wetta, currently reading The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds

The Japanese American Incarceration in Youth Literature

Thu, 02/19/2015 - 07:00

“In biology class,” by Ansel Adams at the Manzanar Relocation Center, obtained from http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/ppprs.00184/?co=manz

On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which allowed for military leaders to “prescribe military areas…from which any or all persons may be excluded, and with respect to which, the right of any person to enter, remain in, or leave shall be subject to whatever restrictions the Secretary of War…my impose in his discretion” (emphasis added). This order goes on to provide for furnishing food and other necessities for the residents of these designated areas, one large group of which was to be Americans of Japanese descent. Over 100,000 Japanese Americans were unjustly imprisoned as a result of this order, in what Martin W. Sandler describes as “American concentration camps.” Below are a few resources for learning more about this dark period in our history, both nonfiction and fiction:

Nonfiction

Dear Miss Breed: True Stories of the Japanese American Incarceration During World War II and a Librarian Who Made a Difference by Joanne Oppenheim (2007 Amelia Bloomer Young Adult Book List). In this particular slice of the imprisonment history, Oppenheim tells about Clara Breed, a San Diego librarian who had befriended many young Japanese American patrons and who kept in touch with them during their incarceration. Excerpts from letters between the correspondents and from interviews the author conducted with camp survivors help tell this poignant story.

Farewell to Manzanar: A True Story of the Japanese American Experience During and After the World War II Internment by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and John D. Houston (1997 Popular Paperback for Young Adults). A now-classic memoir of one girl’s experience of being imprisoned at Manzanar War Relocation Center.

Imprisoned by Martin W. Sandler (2014 YALSA Nonfiction Award Finalist) In this overview of the Japanese American experience during World War II, Sandler purposefully uses strong language to point out the truth of that experience: unjust incarceration of civilians who had committed no crimes. Sandler relies on first-person accounts, but also draws the wider context of prejudice against Americans of Japanese descent even before the war and shows how the imprisonment affected Japanese Americans after they were released.

Fiction

A Diamond in the Desert by Kathryn Fitzmaurice. Between his father’s arrest by the FBI and his family’s forced move to the Gila River Relocation Center, Tetsu’s life is completely upended. He finds a source of some hope when some of his new neighbors share his love of baseball and they work to build a baseball diamond in within the camp. The difficulties of camp life are brought forward when Tetsu’s younger sister avoids using the open-air lavatories and gets lost out in the desert, but the ending maintains a feeling of hope.

Eyes of the Emperor by Graham Salisbury (2006 Best Book for Young Adults). Like many other teens in his generation, sixteen year old Eddy Okubo lies about his age in order to sign up to fight when the US enters World War II. Unlike most of the young soldiers, though, Eddy and the friends he grew up with are under constant suspicion just because they are of Japanese descent. Matters get even scarier when Eddy is assigned to an experimental assignment: pretending to be the enemy in order to train attack dogs.

Take What You Can Carry by Kevin C. Pyle. Two stories intertwine in this graphic novel: in 1941, Ken is forced to Manzanar Relocation Center with his family, while in 1978, Kyle is running around with his friends and getting into trouble shoplifting. The connection between the two doesn’t become apparent until later in the book, but both storylines show teens dealing with injustice and anger and finding community in unexpected sources.

Thin Wood Walls by David Patenaude. Like teens in many of the other stories here, Joe Hanada sees friendships turn to suspicion in his community after Pearl Harbor, then endures separation from his father and eventual relocation. Joe’s unique coping mechanism is writing in his journal, both reports of his life and poetry.

Weedflower by Cynthia Kadohata. This story highlights two instances of racial injustice: Japanese American Sumiko and her family are sent to an internment camp in the Arizona desert, land that has been taken from the Mojave people, as Sumiko learns when she meets Frank. Sumiko’s developing friendship with Frank and partnership with her neighbor, Mr. Moto, to make a garden grow in the desert, help her get through the experience.

This is just a small selection of the wide range of literature available on the subject. What recommendations do you have?

-Libby Gorman, currently reading 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write by Sarah Ruhl

The DUFF: Book to Movie

Thu, 02/19/2015 - 07:00

I rarely see the movie version of a book before I’ve read the book. That’s because the book is usually better than the movie it’s based on. But, I ended up seeing the movie version of Kody Keplinger’s The DUFF (2011 Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers) at a sneak-preview last week in NYC. I hadn’t yet read the book. I’d had a copy of the galley for years but just hadn’t had the opportunity to read it and I’d just given that galley away recently, too. I was probably one of the few people at the preview who hadn’t read the book. So, I bought the paperback copy & quickly read it in preparation for writing this blog. But, as I know you’ve all heard too often, as of a few days ago, I could honestly say, “No, I haven’t read the book, but I have seen the movie.”

Here’s the official trailer for the film.

Frustratingly, new characters are introduced in the movie that aren’t in the book, making it more Mean Girls than a character study of a teen dealing with self-esteem issues and the dangers of judging others. Inversely, integral characters in the book are missing from the film, like Bianca’s recovering alcoholic father. Allison Janey is wonderful as Bianca’s mother, who plays a motivational speaker in the film as she was in the book, and truly deserves her expanded role in the film.

I’ve always been a fan of Mae Whitman, from her roles as a little girl in the movie One Fine Day, to Perks of Being a Wallflower, to the series Parenthood, among other things. She’s perfect in the role. Author Kody Keplinger was at the screening and she talked about the book and her reaction to the movie a bit too. She said she had Mae Whitman in mind all along for Bianca and was really happy that she was available to take the role.

I remember the furor caused by the unflattering “Duff” label when the book came out in 2010. The idea of Mae as an ugly girl is laughable, but both the book and the movie do a great job of showing how everyone is a Duff. Even if we’re the most gorgeous person on Earth, there are times when we think we’re ugly and unattractive, and there are always people who are more attractive than we are. Anyone who doesn’t think of themselves as a Duff sometimes must not have any friends.
(Spoiler alert: Speaking of comparisons – the audience, especially those of us from Jersey, got a kick out of a brief clip with Gov. Chris Christie in the movie).

It’s really refreshing to see that there have been online reports of celebrities wearing t-shirts that say they are the Duff. You can even buy your own Duff t-shirt online through Cafe Press.

So, in the spirit of the book and the movie:
I’m a Duff, you’re a Duff, everyone’s a Duff. And that’s okay.

-Sharon Rawlins, currently reading Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard and listening to Laurie Halse Anderson’s The Impossible Knife of Memory

 

 

Jukebooks: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 07:30

Fairfold is a strange place to grow up in. As the children play games in the woods, the climb upon the glass coffin of the horned prince. He has bee asleep there for as long as can be remembered. And it is well known that faerie folk live in those same woods. One or two tourist disappears every year. The townspeople have convinced themselves that they are safe, as long as they don’t act like tourists.

Hazel and her older brother, Ben, have spent their childhoods slaying monsters. Ben is a magically talented musician, thanks to an encounter his mother had with a elf woman when Ben was small. Now Ben plays no music at all. And Heather spends time kissing boys instead of killing monsters. Nevertheless, the supernatural beings have plans for the two siblings, plans that will require strong hearts.

Although Ben no longer plays his own music, he continues to drown himself in the music of others. At a coffee house/thrift store/vinyl record emporium, Ben puts on a Nick Drake album. As Hazel describes, Drake’s “…sonorous voice filled the shop, whispering about golden crowns and silence.” The lyrics are actually:

Summer was gone and the heat died down
And Autumn reached for her golden crown
I looked behind as I heard a sigh
But this was the time of no reply

Nick Drake’s song, “Time of No Reply,” was not released during his lifetime. Drake’s first album, Five Leaves Left, was released in 1969, when Drake was just twenty-one years old. Five years later, Drake was dead as a result of an overdose of anti-depressants. Since that time, there have been a number of resurgences of Drake’s music. “Time of No Reply” was part of an album that came to be called Made to Love Magic, released in 1986.

For more insight into the music of Nick Drake, check out this podcast from 99% Invisible, featuring an interview with Drake’s producer, Joe Boyd. http://99percentinvisible.org/episode/three-records-from-sundown/

-Diane Colson, currently reading an advance reader’s copy of Tear You Apart by Sarah Cross

 

 

Wishing Away the Winter Blues with YA Lit

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 07:00

This is my fourth year living in a city that has an actual winter season and I can say that January and February are the most difficult times of year for me. The magic of first snowfall and all of the holiday celebrations are long gone. Now everything is just grey and cold and dirty. I don’t want to think about getting cozy with a warm beverage and good book like I did back in November. I want to think about warm climates and drinks served in hollowed-out coconuts.

One of the things that gets me through this time of year is planning and daydreaming about my annual summer vacation to my hometown in South Florida. I look at the calendar to determine the best arrival and departure dates. I create spreadsheets with all of the restaurants that I want to visit and all of the supplies and cute clothes I need to buy. I ponder if this is the year that I finally plan a road trip to Orlando to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. And I also begin to plan my vacation reading list.

I know that not everyone considers what they will read four months down the road, but it really is part of the process for me. There is an excitement in deciding what books will be part of my vacation. It is as important as deciding which sandals will be on my feet when I read them. Some of these are titles with well-timed release dates at the start of summer vacation, while others are upcoming releases that I plan to save.

Here is a peek at the start of my summer vacation reading list:

 

The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi – June 16, 2015
What’s better than reading a Florida author while on vacation in Florida? I’ve been waiting for this debut novel from Gibaldi F-O-R-E-V-E-R and I am so excited that it will be released shortly before my vacation begins so it will be waiting for me when I arrive. You’ll be able to find me on day one reading this one with my feet up.

 

Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway – June 23, 2015
Benway is an insta-read author for me. Audrey, Wait! is one of my all-time favorite YA titles and I can often be found pushing it to readers interested in fun, contemporary stories. Emmy & Oliver seems to be a much more emotional story, though, and I cannot wait to see how it plays out.

 

Ripped from the Pages (A Bibliophile Mystery) by Kate Carlisle – June 2, 2015
While not YA lit, I think this series of cozy mysteries does have high teen appeal. This is the ninth release in the series and I’m excited to see what happens when Brooklyn joins her kooky family back on their commune in Wine Country, California.

 

The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey – April 28, 2015
Thanks to Twitter, The Girl at Midnight hit my radar a long time ago. I am excited to welcome a new fantasy trilogy into my life and the buzz has been fantastic about this debut. Waiting a couple months won’t be as bad as waiting for books two and three (scheduled for release in 2016 and 2017, respectively).

 

 

Mosquitoland by Davis Arnold – March 3, 2015
It’s going to be rough to wait on this one because I LOVE road trip stories. They scream vacation, though, so I’m going to do my best and hold out. Mosquitoland sounds like it will have all of the high points and low points that a real road trip has. Throw in a quirky cast of characters along the road and I’m sold.

 

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli – April 7, 2015
The cover of this one demands my attention every time I see it – it’s so great! The story sounds like a fun and charming contemporary romance with some drama related to the not-so-openly gay protagonist’s e-mail correspondence. Many of the reader reviews I have seen relate to the readers’ inability to stop smiling and I cannot imagine anything better for a summer vacation reading list.

 

Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout – May 26, 2015
If a contemporary romance about an American student studying in a Korean wasn’t enough for me, throw in the fact that the love interest in a KPop star and I am all over it. Musically-charged with an adorable love story and some family drama? This sounds amazing!

 

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia – May 19, 2015
Not going to lie: this one had me at “for fans of Wes Anderson.” The main character struggles to tell the difference between reality and fantasy which in turns requires the reader to work out the difference. It sounds both adorable and funny which are great qualities in a vacation read.

 

Have you started planning your summer reading? Any upcoming releases that I should consider adding to my list? Leave a comment with your thoughts!

– Jessica Lind, currently reading Batgirl Vol. 2: Knightfall Descends by Gail Simone

For Mardi Gras: YA Books Set in New Orleans

Tue, 02/17/2015 - 07:00

Today is Mardi Gras, the cumulation of Carnival celebrations before the start of Lent tomorrow. Lent is a specific time in the Christian calendar when believers are meant to fast and practice self-denial. Mardi Gras is sort of meant to allow people to go a little crazy before the austerity of Lent. The very name means “Fat Tuesday” – as in: eat a lot of rich foods today before you have to fast tomorrow!

In the United States, the celebration of Mardi Gras is most closely associated with New Orleans, Louisiana. There will be parades, balls, and dancing in the streets today and tonight down in “The Big Easy.” Of course New Orleans is more than just Fat Tuesday celebrations. There is a lot of history there including the civil rights movement and Hurricane Katrina. Perhaps some of these New Orleans-set YA novels will transport you mentally down south to New Orleans.

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa (2011 Teens’ Top Ten book)
A teenage girl’s baby brother is taken by fairies and as she chases after him, she discovers secrets about herself. Meghan has always felt different, she’s never fit in anywhere. Perhaps this is because she is half fey, half human, the daughter of Oberon, king of the fairies. As she pursues her brother, she discovers unlikely allies, love, and the fact that the Unseelie Court controls some humans…human who live in New Orleans.

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi (2011 Michael L. Printz award winner)
In the future, sea levels have risen so much that the US coastlines have moved far inland. In an area that used to be New Orleans, Nailer works as a ship breaker, taking apart old, wrecked ships for scrap. It is a dangerous and dirty job, and young Nailer is always looking for more money and more opportunities. When a rich person’s gorgeous yacht beaches due to a storm, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot. But when he finds a girl on board, unconscious but still alive, he becomes torn between survival and doing the right thing. 

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys (2014 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults)
Josie is seventeen and dreaming of leaving home and going to a good college. Nowadays this is not unusual, but in 1950’s New Orleans, those are huge dreams for a girl. Dreams that are even further away when one realizes that Josie is the daughter of a prostitute and lives in a brothel. With her mother’s sketchy underworld connections dragging her down, will Josie ever be able to get out?

Orleans by Sherri L. Smith
In the year 2056, the entire Gulf Coast has been quarantined and separated from the rest of the United States due to an unrelenting outbreak of deadly Delta Fever. 15 year old Fen makes a promise to her dying friend: to get the friend’s newborn over the Wall and to the safety of the Outer States. As she makes this perilous trip, she is helped by Daniel, a young scientist who has snuck across the Wall to Orleans to try to study Delta Fever and find a cure.

Hurricane Song by Paul Volponi (2010 Popular Paperback for Young Adults)
When his mom remarries, Miles chooses to go live in New Orleans with his jazz musician father. They have some issues to work out – Miles much prefers football to jazz -but when hurricane Katrina hits the two begin working out those issues quickly. They have ended up in the Superdome, and what begins as a place of refuge quickly turns into a nightmare survival situation.

My Mother the Cheerleader by Rob Sharenow (2008 Best Book for Young Adults)
Change is coming to 1960s New Orleans: desegregation. Louise’s mother pulls her out of school when young Ruby Bridges becomes the first black person to attend classes at William Frantz Elementary. Her mother also becomes a cheerleader – an adult who stands outside the school each morning yelling racist insults at Ruby. Louise is not affected by these events at first. Everyone she knows understands that segregation is just the way life is. But then a man from New York takes a room at Louise’s mother’s boarding house and his viewpoint is quite different from anything Louise has ever encountered.

~ Geri Diorio, currently reading Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

If Teen Books Could Tweet

Tue, 02/17/2015 - 07:00

As I was checking Twitter – for work! – last week I stumbled upon a woman tweeting a generic dystopian YA novel. Her “novel” has the stereotypical hallmarks of the genre: an oppressive, stratified soceity, some sort of testing, a love triangle, the trope of the “Chosen One.” It’s great. I love dystopian YA novels, so at first I was a little annoyed, but it’s actually really wonderful. Take a look: 

It’s the night before my 17th birthday, which means in a few hours, I’ll have to face the mysterious Test to determine my future.

— Dystopian YA Novel (@DystopianYA) February 11, 2015

So funny! And it got me thinking, “If other teen books could tweet or characters in those books, what would they tweet about?” I came up with a few for fun:

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Divergent by Veronica Roth


Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepherd

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

Any other teen books you’d love to see tweet? Also, if you love Twitter, make sure you’re checking out our Tweets of the Week series.

-Anna Tschetter, currently reading Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero

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