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Your Connection to Teen Reads
Updated: 3 hours 24 min ago

Notes from a Teens’ Top Ten Book Club Book Group Participant: Series That Deliver

Mon, 10/27/2014 - 07:00

Teens across the nation have voted for this year’s 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 groups in school and public libraries around the country. To give you a glimpse of what it’s like to be part of the process, we’re featuring posts from these teens here on The Hub.

Splintered by A.G. Howard is an amazing Teen’s Top Ten nominee. The series begins with an interesting twist to the Alice in Wonderland story; it puts it to a new light. A.G. Howard manages to avoid two typical problems in trilogies. The trilogy is absolutely amazing through the entire thing and it has an incredible ending that ties up all loose threads and still leaves you happy and satisfied. Most books have parts where they slow down– the plotline drags a little, and you get bored. This series is a different story. The books are consistently great, and are extremely enjoyable to read.

Most trilogies start really well, and the second book slows down a bit, and then the third either falls flat, makes you angry due to the loss of an important character (or multiple), or just doesn’t end well. This is shown in almost anyone who read the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth. The second book was a little of a let-down compared to the first, and the third’s ending was torture for the reader. However, the third book in the Splintered trilogy, Ensnared, defies the system and manages to have an ending that completes the series in an incredible way. Anyone looking for a book to read who is into the fantasy genre will have a BLAST with this trilogy, beginning with the novel Splintered. Personally, this book has inspired me with its hidden messages, and entertained me for hours. I simply could NOT put it down once I picked it up. It now has a permanent home on my re-readable shelf, and has wormed its way into my favorite book list- which is a massive accomplishment, due to my insatiable hunger for the written words. I have read a LOT, and this made its way up to be my all-time favorite. I HIGHLY suggest it!

Another great example for a trilogy that delivers is The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta.  Yet another problem with many trilogies is the loss of characters.  The loss of characters can appear in two forms: the death of a character whose death comes as a shock, and a great character who falls apart.  The Hunger Games is a notable example of a trilogy that loses characters. Due to the nature of the book, characters die—and Katniss, who started the series as independent and strong, seems weaker by comparison.

In Finnikin of the Rock, the first book of The Lumatere Chronicles, which admittedly isn’t my favorite, some of the characters are unlikable and others lack complex emotions.  However, I stuck it out because of the intricate plot and because I had the second book, Froi of the Exiles, sitting next to me.  The first half of Froi of the Exiles is not my type of book.  I found several of the characters bland and the plot was not picking up.  I feared that this trilogy would not be what I had hoped for and would fall apart like so many others.  However, before I knew it, the second book ended strong because of the surprisingly intricate plot the emerged from the dirt of the first half and the elaborate characters came on the petals of the flourishing plot.

The third and final book in the trilogy, Quintana of Charyn, is hard to explain because it is breathtakingly perfect.  Unlike so many trilogies and series, the characters in The Lumatere Chronicles continued to develop.  The plot is set up perfectly for each character to grow in themselves until the balance between internal struggle and external struggle came to a final conclusion that leaves the reader breathless with tears streaking down each cheek.  This trilogy has a mixture of adventure, fantasy, tragedy, and romance so that any reader would fall into the arms of the eloquent characters and intriguing plot.  It’s needless to say that Quintana of Charyn is not just on my favorite books lists–  instead, it created a new standard for what it means to be my personal favorite book.

-Lucy Manlick, age 14, and Grace O’Neil, age 17 Members of the CCHS YA Galley Club

What Would They Read?: Monster Edition!

Mon, 10/27/2014 - 07:00

I know some of you are patiently waiting for the conclusion of my Firefly post in September.  Unfortunately you will have to wait a little bit more as I am interrupting my own series of posts to bring you this Halloween Monster Edition of “What Would They Read.”  I promise I will finish Firefly next month.  As I see it, we Firefly fans are used to things we love and look forward to being abruptly ended.  It’s sad, but true.

OK, back to monsters…

There were two ways I considered approaching this blog post.  I could go the easy way and match various monsters with books that include characters from the same species.  For example, Dracula would just love to read The Twilight Saga because of all the vampires.  Sure, I’ll throw in a few of those.  The real challenge lies in finding books for these monster archetypes that more reflect their personality types.  It’s a bit more difficult, but I’m up for the challenge.  Go big or go home, right?

Dracula – Before vampires became a standard villainous character is several movies, shows, and books, Bram Stoker brought us the original vampire story.  Some may say that there’s a historical connection to the evil ruler, Vlad the Impaler.  I’m not going to debate for or against that idea, but I will say that guy was fairly creepy.

Those who have read the original novel,  Dracula, know that while the vampire was super spooky, he was also very lonely.  He used his vampire ways to try to get friends and girlfriend.  True, he didn’t go about this search in the conventional way by simply introducing himself to new people.  Instead, he charmed the mentally unstable Renfield and made him his somewhat friend, although I think the term is closer to minion than friend.  Once he decided he wanted a woman in his life, he did not go about courting her in a traditional manner.  After a few midnight visits full of blood drinking, Dracula had Lucy right where he wanted her; in a coffin.

So what books would I give to Dracula?  For a direct connection between Dracula and other vampire stories, I would love to give Dracula Fat Vampire by Adam Rex.  Rex tells the story of a boy who is turned into a vampire and must live out his afterlife as an overweight, unpopular teen.  While he was a vicious killer, I would like to think he has a bit of a sense of humor.  Now for the more difficult aspect of the recommendation.  Dracula may be a vicious murder, but he has a sense of class.  He’s not going to leave a large mess behind or draw attention to himself.  He’s refined and charismatic.  The first book that came to mind is We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.  The books is full of people who might not be the most compassionate people, but they are emotional.  They also have a lot of secrets.  The second title that I thought of is more about style than content.  Stoker’s novel was written in letters as that was the mode of communication during that time period.  I thought about choosing a book that took place during the late 1800s, but I decided that an epistolary novel would be better.  I am still torn between two novels to recommend so I’ll just mention both.  The first, Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher, is a story about a girl who is trying to deal with personal relationship issues by writing letters to a man on death row.  The second book is Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira.  In this book, the main character uses a school assignment asking her to write letters to a dead person to deal with her sister’s death.  The last two choices may seem odd, but I’m going with my book recommendation instincts.

Frankenstein’s Monster – I want to be clear here, for those of you who also hate the confusion between Dr. Frankenstein and Frankenstein’s monster.  I am searching for books for the monster, not the doctor.  It is so easy to align the creature’s issues with problems people face today.  All the creature wanted was to be accepted into society and be a part of something.  Unfortunately his appearance stopped his from getting close to anyone, even the doctor.

The most obvious choice for Frankenstein’s monster is the book Mister Creecher by Chris Priestly.  In this book, a young boy teams up with  a giant man he calls Mister Creecher in a journey to catch up with a scientist who promised Mister Creecher a wife.  Mister Creecher is close to a retelling of the creature’s story.  I’m sure that the creature would enjoy reading a story in which he is not portrayed solely as an irrational monster, but as someone who is trying to be accepted.  There are also the books by Kenneth Oppel, This Dark Endeavor and Such Wicked Intent, that tell the story of a young Victor   Frankenstein.  The creatures might enjoy reading about his creator’s childhood.

When I first decided to do a blog entry on monsters, it was Frankenstein’s monster that guided that idea.  All the creature wants is to be accepted by others and end his loneliness.  That alone is the basis for several teen novels.  That was the angle I used to determine what books I would give the creature.  Bruiser by Neal Shusterman (2012 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults) is a fantastic choice.  Bruiser is a misunderstood boy who is constantly judged by his appearance.  Eventually siblings Tennyson and Bronte realize that Bruiser has the amazing ability to take on the pain from other people.  The original creature in Mary Shelley’s story was not the grunting, mindless green man found in pop culture.  The original monster learned and was intelligent and articulate.  I know that Bruiser would make an impression on him.

Do you think you are up to the challenge?  What books would you suggest to the Wolfman?  How about a zombie from Dawn of the Dead?  Please leave your comments below.

-Brandi Smits, currently reading She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick

The Monday Poll: Your Favorite Zombie Book

Sun, 10/26/2014 - 23:18

Good morning, Hub readers!

Last week, we kicked off the Halloween celebrations early by asking about your favorite YA book featuring witches. The top choice, with 33% of the vote, was Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins. This was closely followed by Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood, with 25% of the vote. Write-in suggestions included Joseph Delaney’s Last Apprentice series and, of course, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books. Check the comments on last week’s poll for all the suggestions, and see detailed results for all of our previous polls in the Polls Archive. Thanks to all of you who voted!

This week, we’re continuing with the Halloween theme– we want to know your favorite YA zombie novel! Vote in the poll below, or add your choice in the comments.

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

YA Trends Throughout The Years

Sun, 10/26/2014 - 11:19

October is an exciting month for any YA lit fan, because it includes Teen Read Week! In honor of this annual celebration of young adult literature, YALSA invited book-loving teens all over the world to apply to share their enthusiasm for reading in a guest post for The Hub. Thirty-one talented young writers were chosen, and we’ll be featuring posts from these unique voices all month long. Here’s Saraya Flaig from Idaho.

Matched by Ally Condie - Everybody in society when they turn 16, gets a match, you get one match, until one day a girl gets two by an accident on the computer. One is her best friend and the other is someone that seems perfect for her and she doesn’t know who to choose.

Divergent by Veronica Roth - Everything in society is run by factions. Each faction has specific job, and everyone is part of one of the factions. It is time for Tris to take her test to see what faction she gets into, but she doesn’t have one faction she has three, which is divergent and divergent is dangerous.

Selection Series by Kiera Cass - Society is ran by a caste system, and the highest is the ones who are royalty. America is a four. When the time comes for Prince Maxon to choose a wife she applies for the Selection. For some mysterious reason she is chosen and gets to live at the castle and experience royal life in a setting kind of like the Bachelorette.

Maze Runner by James Dashner - Imagine waking up in a box and not knowing where you are, who you are, or anything except your name. That is what everyone who goes to the Glade experiences. The only thing they know is what people tell them when they get there, which is that there is no way out, only through the maze that no one can solve.

Delirium Series by Lauren Oliver - Love is evil, and love must be cleansed from your system, this what the society believes. When Lena falls in love, she starts to doubt society and rebel against everything she as ever known.

Contemporary Authors Mentioned:
Rainbow Rowell- Writes books like Eleanor and Park and Fangirl, usually about misfits that find their way in life.

John Green- Writes The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska, usually writes teen romances with characters that don’t know where they are going in life.

My Favorite Fantasy Books:
The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare - Imagine that all of the creatures you dreamed about when you were little were real, well they are. Shadowhunters hunt them and kill the bad ones. Clary is a girl who is a shadowhunter by blood and she doesn’t know it, until she sees something in a club one day.

Percy Jackson/Heroes of Olympus Series by Rick Riordan -Takes place in modern day America, but has ancient Greek and Roman god elements. Demigods (half god, half human) have to learn how to deal with the God’s tempers and try to save the world.

Splintered by A.G. Howard - A modern Alice in Wonderland that is twisted. Ever since Alice every woman in Alyssa’s family has been in a mental hospital. She starts hearing whispers from bugs and flowers and she starts to learn that Wonderland isn’t really wonderful.

- Saraya Flaig is a 15 years old. She is from Idaho and a sophomore in high school. In her free time she absolutely loves to read and do cheerleading. 

Books as Palate Cleansers

Sun, 10/26/2014 - 10:17

October is an exciting month for any YA lit fan, because it includes Teen Read Week! In honor of this annual celebration of young adult literature, YALSA invited book-loving teens all over the world to apply to share their enthusiasm for reading in a guest post for The Hub. Thirty-one talented young writers were chosen, and we’ll be featuring posts from these unique voices all month long. Here’s Becca Holladay, who lives in Yokota, Japan.

My mom knows what it means when I collapse onto her bed crying. It means I have finished yet another series.

As a voracious reader, I am always with a book. And there is a pattern among those books, and that is that they are all fantasy/sci-fi/romance books! I usually refuse to read anything else.

But after I finish a particularly heart-wrenching series (Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, anyone?), and I end up completely heartbroken, I just need to take a break. And by break, I don’t mean from reading, heaven forbid! I just take a break from reading addicting series.

For me, after I read the Throne of Glass books by Sarah J. Maas (amazing series, but tragically the third book is not out yet), I had to take a break from the heartbreak. I read a truly astonishing and well written book called Acid by Emma Pass. Yes, Acid is a science-fiction book, yes, it does have its own heart wrenches. But It has a good, satisfying ending, and that is saying something coming from me.

If you need a break from fantasy altogether, try some realistic fiction, like The Mother-Daughter Book Club series written by Heather Vogel Frederick. I am so happy I read these books. Before I did, I was convinced that the only books that gave me joy were fantasy orientated, and these books completely opened my eyes. Witty, interesting, and adorable, these make great palate cleansers! Teenagers can really connect with the different characters in these books.

Also, Between The Lines by Jodi Picoult was so good! It is about a teenage girl who is in love with a character in a children’s book. But little does she know, he’s in love with her too! Sounds impossible, right? That’s what Delilah thinks too when the supposed Prince Oliver actually talks to her! He hates living in a fairy tale, and all he wants is to get into the real world. As they work together to get Oliver out of the book, their romance and desperation only grows. This beautiful stand alone is rich with love, hopes and dreams, and is a worthwhile read. It also gives a nice break from fantasy series.

One final example of an amazing palate cleanser is Eve and Adam by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate. A short, stand-alone book with some nice plot twists and action thrown in, it makes a good palate cleanser. It is science fiction, but it is a stand-alone (so you are not quite as attached to the characters, though this is not true for all books), it is short, and it is funny! It has really good jokes thrown in here and there, and has an acceptable ending.

Now that you are armed with what palate cleansers are, as well as a few suggestions, you can take on all the fantasy and heartwrenching books you like! Just remember to take a nice, clean break when you get in over your head, and you’ll be set!

Rebecca Holladay is a 13 year old girl who resides at Yokota Air Base, Japan. She loves reading, playing flute, reading and acting. Oh, and reading.

Diving Deeper into Divergent

Sat, 10/25/2014 - 07:00

October is an exciting month for any YA lit fan, because it includes Teen Read Week! In honor of this annual celebration of young adult literature, YALSA invited book-loving teens all over the world to apply to share their enthusiasm for reading in a guest post for The Hub. Thirty-one talented young writers were chosen, and we’ll be featuring posts from these unique voices all month long. Here’s Nedda Bozorgmehri from California.

On the surface, Divergent can be viewed as a popular young adult action-packed novel about bravery, love, and perseverance. The book has captured the attention of many young adults for its thrilling plot line and stimulating characters. However, there is one aspect of this captivating book that most people probably have not taken into consideration: connecting Divergent to history. Divergent is quite the modern book with its utopian world of faction systems created to prevent war. By diving deeper into the depths of Divergent and closely analyzing the ideas in text, one can discover that Divergent also has a historical significance as it can be related to the revolutionary ideas of communism and capitalism.

The factions were created with the hopes of eliminating future war and violence. It was believed that if each person selects their faction and focuses only on their faction’s morals everyone will be equal and there will be no conflict. This idea of creating a world in which all people are equal with the hopes of eliminating war, can be related to communism. A communist society is one in which resources are created and distributed equally among all members. On the other hand, capitalism promotes free enterprise; in this society individuals benefit and prosper based on their own innovation and productivity. Selfishness arises in a capitalist government as people compete to sell the ideas they think are best. Whereas in a communist government, selfishness fails to exist due to the encompassing sense of equality and selflessness. Abnegation, the faction where all members are required to be selfless in all the actions they endeavor, can be related to communism. Erudite, the highly intelligent “bookworm” faction, can be connected with the capitalist ideals, as they want to obtain more control of the government, sell their own ideas, and reject the “communist ideals” of Abnegation. In Divergent, Abnegation is the faction that has control over the government; Erudite opposes this and believes that the “intelligent” faction ought to have control over the government. The idea of capitalism falls under the members in the Erudite faction because in a sense they are being selfish and wanting to take over the government since they want to promote their ideas and technologies. Most people believe that Tris is a threat to this society because the fact that she is divergent means she cannot fall under the spell of manipulative Erudite serums and trackers. Within historical context, Tris is divergent because she can be both a capitalist (Erudite) and act selfishly, or she can be a communist (Divergent) and act selflessly. Because of her mixed personality, she puts the faction system in jeopardy.

The idea of creating a more perfect “utopian” society is nothing new, as it has been prevalent throughout history during the period of Marx and Lenin. Marx believed that through communism a selfless and equal societal class would be created. He believed that by eliminating competition and inequality, conflict would also be prevented because no one would have a purpose for triggering war. Prominent aspects of Marxist communism are revealed in the Abnegation Faction; the main goal of Abnegation is to function in ways that will benefit the entire faction system and to have their actions benefit all. Later on, a man named Vladimir Lenin took Marxist Communist ideas to the next level as he believed in the establishment of a society where no one can be better than anyone else and the government is in charge of providing resources to the less fortunate lower classes. These details are highlighted in Divergent, considering that Abnegation’s primary goal is to serve the factionless (the lower class) and to treat everyone equally. Additionally, in Leninists communism only one governing body existed and had control over everyone else. In Divergent, Abnegation is the governing body and no other factions are allowed to take part in controlling the government. Capitalist ideals are represented in the Erudite faction. In the book Divergent, Erudite are known for their ability to invent technologies and obtain various resources. They are knowledgeable people who love to learn. Erudite believed that conflict can be prevented through knowledge and understanding. The Erudite faction leader, Jeanine, believes that in order to create a more perfect society Erudite must be in charge of the faction system. Jeanine displays characteristics of greed and selfishness similar to those of extreme capitalists.

Furthermore, it is quite interesting to see how these historical ideals indirectly appear in Divergent. This demonstrates how history truly influences our actions and ideas today; key historical aspects can be applied to almost anything. By unraveling the historical aspects of Divergent, one can see how it is very difficult to achieve peace in a world full of divisions and inequalities. However, it is also challenging to achieve peace in a society where only one group has control over everything, and everyone must follow their say. After evaluating the relationships between Divergent, communism, and capitalism I would like to propose my own suggestion for how peace could be held between societies or factions. How can a utopian world be fully achieved? It is clear that both communism and capitalism are extreme ideas, with various contradictions in policies.  I believe that in order to achieve that perfect world there must be a balance between the two extremes. Developing a compromise that will appease both sides is a great way to establish a strong, prosperous government.  It appears to me that Tris is the most successful character in the book because she is Divergent. She hasn’t chosen between one of the “extremes.” Although in the book Tris’ mixed personality threatens the faction system, I think that in reality her divergence is what makes her character so wise, flexible, and strong. In connection to the book: a government led by the Divergent will be more powerful than a government led by just Abnegation or Erudite. In connection to history: a government led by individuals with diverse personalities, talents, and beliefs seems to be more powerful than a government solely led by extreme ideals such as full communism or capitalism.

(I used Amanda Wilson’s article So You Say You Want a Revolution: Marxism, Leninism, and Capitalism as the Basis for Factions in Divergent, as reference and support.)

~ Ever since Nedda Bozorgmehri was little, she has been passionate about reading and writing. She especially loves reading action packed, exciting novels, like Divergent, that have significant morals and lessons woven throughout.

Tweets of the Week: October 24

Fri, 10/24/2014 - 07:00

Happy Friday, Hub Readers!  Isn’t October the best month ever?  Horror movies, changing leaves, and best of all – Halloween!  Check out these tweets of the week with lots of Lorde, hoards of Hunger Games info & of course, Batman!  In case you missed it…I’m here to compile it all for you!

Books & Reading





– Traci Glass, currently reading Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen

eBooks? No Thanks.

Fri, 10/24/2014 - 07:00

October is an exciting month for any YA lit fan, because it includes Teen Read Week! In honor of this annual celebration of young adult literature, YALSA invited book-loving teens all over the world to apply to share their enthusiasm for reading in a guest post for The Hub. Thirty-one talented young writers were chosen, and we’ll be featuring posts from these unique voices all month long. Here’s Courtney Kilroy from Nebraska.

I… am not a fan of ebooks. Never have been, possibly never will be. Why?

If you’re reading this, you must be a dedicated reader. Of anything. Newspapers, magazines, novels, chapter books, graphic novels, manga, et cetera. Why else would you be reading a blog about books?? And if you’re a dedicated reader, you know how exciting it is when your favorite author releases a new book, or when the next issue of your favorite magazine hits the shelves. And the build-up that makes it exciting.

  • The cliffhanger left at the end of the last book.
  • The nine months you waited until the title and sneak peek were released.
  • The additional month you waited until the book actually was available in stores.
  • The drive to the bookstore.
  • The speed-walk to the young-adult fiction aisle.
  • Then… you see it. You hold it in your hands, and you flip through the pages.
  • You have the thing you’ve been waiting for what seems like forever.
  • You check out, and read in the car (unless, of course, you’re driving, in which case you should
    be watching the road).

Does that sound familiar? It does for me. It’s like that with all the books I read, right now. Or
replace the bookstore with a library. Anyway, I feel like you don’t get that with an ebook.

  • The cliffhanger at the end of the last book.
  • The nine months you waited for the title and sneak peek to be released.
  • The additional month you waited until the book was actually available in the iTunes Store.
  • The opening of the iTunes app.
  • The typing of the name of the book into the search bar.
  • The clicking on the book’s icon.
  • The downloading of the book. 1%…2%…3%…

Kind of anticlimactic, don’t you think?

Not only that, you miss the experience with ebooks. Obsessing over trying to not bend or tear the pages, smelling the “new book smell” all new novels have (or even the “old book smell” of the classics), and the amazing feeling at the end of a book when you turn the last page, read the last sentence, close the cover, and begin to ponder what you’re going to do with the rest of your life. Where is that feeling of accomplishment? That feeling is satisfaction? You don’t get it with an ebook.

Now, yes, I own ebooks. But I feel like I don’t own them. I take pride in the books I own. To be able to physically hold them, and display to all you see, that you own this amazing masterpiece of literature. For those reading who’ve read The Book Thief, do you remember when Liesel first steps into the mayor’s library? And she spins around with her eyes closed and fingertips brushing across the spines of the books? The sheer majesty of a room full of books, a room full of things yet to be discovered, it’s so amazing, and I can’t explain it. And just shoving that majesty into hard metal box, limiting them to the mere covers so many people judge them by, it doesn’t seem right.

Teenager. What just popped into your head? Whether it way a boy or girl, with acne or a clear face, holding a Starbuck’s coffee or a bag of Doritos, it definitely had one thing. An iPhone. Or iPad. Or laptop. Some kind of technology. Definitely not a novel or a textbook. Guess what you need to read an ebook? An iPhone. Or iPad. Or even laptop. Even though you know you’re reading a book, adults take you as another phone-absorbed teen. So, shouldn’t we feel a certain pride in being seen with a novel, defying the definition of the word teenager? Showing the adults who write off all teenagers as “technology-obsessed,” that we can take joy in things other than the number of likes our selfie gets on Instagram?

By the way! I’m Courtney Kilroy. I live in Omaha, Nebraska. I have spent fourteen years on this lovely Earth of ours, the last month of which I’ve used to begin my high school career. When I’m not reading, I participate in trapshooting and I am an avid movie-goer. I have a sister, two nieces (Katie and Danielle), a nephew (Elijah), and a mom and a dad. So, that’s all for me. Thanks for spending ten minutes of your life on my opinions!

Books that Spooked Us!

Fri, 10/24/2014 - 07:00

It’s that spooky time of year when ghoulies and ghosties are everywhere you look, so I thought it might be fun to see which books and stories memorably freaked out the Hub bloggers. Below are some of the stories that stuck with us because of the sheer terror they evoked when we read them. Some of them are straight up horror, some of them purely psychological, but all of them memorable! While Stephen King naturally gets mentioned a lot, it’s Lois Duncan’s Stranger with My Face and Daniel Kraus’ 2012 Odyssey Award winner, Rotters, that got the most mentions.  Many thanks to the Hub Bloggers who shared their scares! Read them this Halloween if you dare!


Libby Gorman

I read Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry for a course, and while I loved it, I also made my husband take out the trash for a few weeks afterward in case of zombie attack (because, of course, zombies can get you in the backyard when it’s dark, but they can’t make their way into a lighted house!). I also remember that Roald Dahl’s The Witches freaked me out quite a bit as a kid.


Anna Tschetter 

The first one is 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad. I finished it late at night all alone in my apartment. I was certain that - spoiler warning! -  my space doppelganger was going to come around the corner and kill me! I had to watch a full half hour of cat videos online before I could fall asleep.

The Adult/YA crossover is more deeply unsettling than scary. It’s the scene in Lev Grossman’s The Magicians where the villain, the Beast, shows up in the classroom with his face obscured by a branch, and wreaks havoc. There’s something about the fact that you can’t see his face that has always creeped me out. Similarly, this has made me hate Rene Magritte’s Son of Man painting.


Diane Colson

This was many years ago, but when I read Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, I started trembling in fear. I was afraid to turn my head lest I glimpse something unnatural on the walls of my parents’ living room. I remember the terror better than I remember the actual story.


Chelsea Condren

The first book I remember being terrified by was Stranger with My Face by Lois Duncan. Also, The Body of Christopher Creed by Carol Plum-Ucci.

Geri Diorio

I read Daniel Kraus’ Rotters and thought it was disturbing and brilliant, but not scare-the-pants-off-you scary. So when I got my hands on his book Scowler, I figured I could handle it. While I was sitting on the couch reading THAT SCENE (if you’ve read Scowler, you know what I am talking about), my boyfriend walked into the room. I was so absorbed in the story that I didn’t register his presence at all.

“Are you alright?” he asked me, startling me back into the present moment.

“Yeah, why?” I asked.

“You had The Stephen King Face on while you were reading.”

Although I had never heard that phrase, I knew exactly what he meant, and I laughed a little, grateful for a moment of levity in an otherwise harrowing evening of reading.

“Yes, I’m OK, thanks. This is Stephen King level horrific.”

He nodded and wandered off. I dove back into the book, unable to keep away from it, no matter how frightening.


Tara Kehoe

Stranger with my Face- Lois Duncan. Something about the impersonation aspect of this title really spooked me.  Written long before the release of the terrifying movie “Single White Female,” it seems even scarier somehow to be impersonated when you are a teenager.

Harvest Home- Thomas Tryon. Pure terror.   Tryon expertly depicts an insulated farming community which seems so peaceful then the slow realization builds that there is dark danger there.

Salem’s Lot- Stephen King. The most frightened I have ever been reading a book.  I was simultaneously afraid to read on, and too terrified to stop.  There is one scene near the end where the main character is slowly going up a flight of stairs to open a bedroom door.  The reader knows what it is that room… and the suspense is palpable.

Possessed- Kate Cann. Atmospheric terror—young Rayne has always lived in urban poverty (also pretty terrifying) and the juxtaposition between that and her new home on a sprawling haunted moor is fantastically chilling.


Kelly Dickinson

Last year I read Long Lankin by Lindsay Barraclough and it quickly became my go-to recommendation for anyone looking for a good scare! It’s a classically spooky horror story with a well-imagined setting, atmospheric writing, and a very good helping of old-fashioned, slow-building but insidious creepiness! I’m very glad I read that last one hundred pages or so in my Washington DC apartment, far away from dark forests, crumbling manors, dank marshes, and dilapidated church yards! Even so, my heart was racing as I read the frightening climax and I may or may not have slept with a light on that night!


Sharon Rawlins

The book that scared me the most recently is Rotters by Daniel Kraus. It wasn’t so much that it was about grave-digging and unearthing corpses in various degrees of decomposition, although that did make me feel a bit queasy. It was the description of rat kings. I hate rats! The image of dozens of rats connected to each other by their tails gives me nightmares. I’d first read about the folklore of the Rat King in Robert Sullivan’s nonfiction book Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants when it was nominated for Best Books for Young Adults  in 2005 and it has haunted me ever since.


And finally, my own freak out stories- Stephen King’s short story “You Know They Got a Hell of a Band” (about a town where rock legends go after they die, and no one who ends up there is ever allowed to leave) in Nightmares and Dreamscapes literally scared me so much I slept with the light on for weeks after I read it lest Elivs Presley come after me. Something about the psychological terror of being trapped really got to me! When I was a kid the book Christina’s Ghost by Betty Ren Wright scared me half to death- even today when I see the cover of that book I feel chills, remembering the terror of the last few scenes. And I made the rookie mistake of reading Kendare Blake’s Girl of Nightmares after dark even though I knew what to expect after Anna Dressed in Blood, which gave me a couple of sleepless nights…okay, a few sleepless nights!

-Carla Land, currently reading Nightmares by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller

Teen Romance in YA Lit

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 07:00

October is an exciting month for any YA lit fan, because it includes Teen Read Week! In honor of this annual celebration of young adult literature, YALSA invited book-loving teens all over the world to apply to share their enthusiasm for reading in a guest post for The Hub. Thirty-one talented young writers were chosen, and we’ll be featuring posts from these unique voices all month long. Here’s Karina Hernandez from New Jersey.

Young adult books with teen romance are the stories that take you on a roller coaster of emotion. It’s the moment when the two characters meet. It’s the love that grows between the two of them. It’s the introduction of a good love triangle. It’s the struggle when the couple refuses to accept their love for each other. It’s the tears shed, the pillows punched in frustration, the smile released when they finally kiss.

The many emotions of YA lit

Everyone has their favorite couple from a YA- Hazel and Augustus, Anna and Étienne, Tris and Tobias, Sophie and Archer, Hermione and Ron, Samantha and Jase, Willem and Allyson, Eleanor and Park. Everyone also has their favorite love triangle – Katniss/Peeta/Gale, Bella/Edward/Jacob, America/Maxon/Aspen, Clara/Tucker/Christian, Juliette/Adam/Warner (Why does it seem like all the love triangles are two boys and a girl, anyway?).

These are the stories that leave us either sobbing at the end or just closing the book and letting out the biggest smile. These stories make us fall in love and just feel happy from head to toe. They take us on a crazy adventure from start from finish, leaving us rapidly turning the pages, thirsty for more.

Now I’ll quickly take you through some of my favorite teen romances in young adult lit and describe the story, the feels, and the love.


My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick


Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins


The Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer


The Fault in Our Stars by John Green


Divergent by Veronica Roth


The Unearthly Trilogy by Cynthia Hand


To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han


This is What Happy Looks Like, The Geography of You and Me, and The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith


–Karina Hernandez


Hi, I’m Karina. I’m 17 years old and a high school senior from New Jersey. I love reading. My favorite genres are Young Adult and Contemporary; anything with a good love story. You can find me talking about more books at mylifeinstory. Besides reading I sing in three of my schools’ choirs. Netflix is my best friend. Hope you enjoy my blog post!

Cozy Up to a Good Mystery, Part 2

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 07:00

Last year, I created a post with some of my favorite cozy mysteries with teen appeal. It’s a fact; I love cozy mysteries. I love the relationships in cozy mysteries as many of them are set in small towns or close-knit communities. Everyone seems to know everyone else. Plus, most cozies are part of a series, so once a year you get to hang out with old friends.

If You Want to Own a Store:
Secondhand Spirits by Juliet Blackwell
Lily’s a witch who’s been on the run, hiding her true self from the world. Now she’s ready to settle down. She opens a vintage clothing store in San Fransisco and feels at home. Upon visiting a client, she learns about a local legend. When that client dies the next day, Lily wonders if the legend could be real. Can she help without exposing her secret?
The Long Quiche Goodbye by Avery Aames
Charlotte and her cousin open a wine and cheese store. During the grand re-opening, a murder occurs right outside. When the police identify Charlotte’s grandmother as the chief suspect, she starts her own investigation.
Mum’s the Word by Kate Collins
Abby Knight is not having a good day, even though she’s trying to be cheerful. Someone hits her corvette and takes off. Abby’s determined to track down the owner and make him pay, until she realizes that the person driving off might have committed a murder. Going after him seems like a deadly plan, but what if he comes after her?

If You Like Cooking:
State of the Onion by Julie Hyzy
White House Assistant Chef Olivia Paras wants to land the  job of her dreams – Executive Chef after her boss and friend retires. When she spies a man out of place in the White House, she takes action. Now she’s the only person to see the assassin, the Chameleon, and he’s not happy about it.
Clammed Up by Barbara Moss
Julia came home to small town Maine to rescue the family business. Unfortunately, a man’s murdered on the island where they host their clam bakes. Now, Julia needs the  murder solved ASAP or the business will be turned over to the bank. Can she solve a murder and save her business?
An Appetite for Murder by Lucy Burdette
Hayley dreams of becoming a food critic. When she applies for a job at a Key West magazine, she realizes that her would be boss is the woman she caught with her boyfriend. Crossing that job off her list, Hayley’s stunned to learn that Kristen’s been poisoned by a Key Lime Pie and she’s the chief suspect in the murder.

If  You Have a Sweet Tooth:
All Fudged Up by Nancy Coco
Allie McMurphy inherited an old inn and fudge shop that’s been in the family for generations. Although she’s come to the island for the summers, she’s still considered an outsider. When a body turns up in her hotel, an old family feud comes to light and the town starts taking sides. Can Allie help uncover the truth before the murder puts her out of business – for good?
Sprinkle with Murder by Jenn McKinlay
Melanie and Angie just opened their own cupcake bakery. Super excited about this new business venture, they agree to cater a wedding. Unfortunately, the bride turns out to be a bridezilla. When Mel stumbles across the bride’s body, she soon becomes involved in the case trying to clear her own name.
Bran New Death by Victoria Hamilton
Merry Wynter inherits a castle. Even though she can’t afford to keep it, she’s happy to have a place to escape to after a nightmare situation with her former boss. Someone’s not happy that Merry owns the castle now and they’re resorting to vandalizing her property. Before she can catch them in the act, a body turns up. There’s no way Merry can sell the castle with a murder hanging over her head, so she starts investigating before she becomes the prime suspect.
Brownies and Broomsticks by Bailey Cates
Katie’s thrilled at the invitation to join her aunt and uncle at their new bakery, but she’s more than a little surprised when her aunt adds extra ingredients to the recipes. These aren’t your average indigents, but spells for their customers. When her uncle gets into a fight with a customer, who later turns up murdered outside the bakery, he’s suspected of murder. Katie and her aunt work quickly to uncover the real culprit behind the murder -with a little magical help.
Cookie Dough or Die by Virginia Lowell
Olivia owns the Gingerbread House; a quaint shop specializing in cookie cutters and other baking tools. When a good friend dies and the sheriff declares her death a suicide, Olivia doesn’t believe it. Sure her friend might have been acting strange lately, but she would never kill herself. Olivia starts poking around trying to under cover the truth about that night.

If You Love Bookstores/Libraries:
Books can be Deceiving by Jenn McKinlay
Lindsey’s adjusting to life in a small town as the Director of the public library. When her best friend’s boyfriend turns up dead, all eyes are on Beth. The couple had a huge fight about plagiarizing her children’s book manuscript. Lindsey works hard to clear her friend’s name and to bring fresh ideas into the library.
Murder in the Mystery Suite by Ellery Adams
To increase the number of bookings at the family run resort, Jane hosts a Murder and Mayhem week. It’s all fun and games, until the winner of the scavenger hunt is found murdered in his suite and the prize stolen. To make matters worse, Jane finds out that the prize wasn’t meant to be given out and the real item stolen is an invaluable artifact. Can she solve the murder quietly and regain possession of the family heirloom?
Murder is Binding by Lorna Barrett
Tricia Miles moved to Stoneham, New Hampshire where people were friendly until her mystery book store, Haven’t Got a Clue, opened. Then someone murdered the local owner of the cook book store and Tricia discovers the body. Now, all eyes are on her and Tricia herself wants answers.
Hardcover in Homicide by Kate Carlisle
Brooklyn Wainwright finds her mentor covered in blood. When she tries to help him, his last words are cryptic to say the least. A security agent protecting the rare book he was working on seems to think her capable of murder. As she works to finish the restoration of the book, she attempts to uncover the truth about Abraham’s murder.

~ Jennifer Rummel currently reading Bloom and Doom by Beverly Allen



Popular Paperbacks: Lock Up

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 07:00

According to a US Department of Justice report, 79,165 young people were incarcerated in the United States in 2010. Although these numbers show an overall decline, there are overwhelming more minority offenders in custody. Incarceration, whether in juvenile detention centers or adult correction facilities, is a major issue facing today’s teens. The 2015 YALSA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults committee is looking for titles that reflect the experiences faced by many of the teens we serve.

Current nominations include titles from the legendary Walter Dean Myers, nonfiction memoirs and even a graphic novel adaptation of a landmark text on race and incarceration. But the committee is looking for even more nominations from teen, teachers, librarians and readers.  To be nominated, titles need to be available in paperback, not on a previous list in the last five years and be of interest to teens. Adult and young adult titles are considered, along with all genres.

Get more information on Popular Paperbacks or nominate a title for any of the 2015 selection lists, Mysteries, Books to Movies, and Narrative Non-fiction.

- Amanda Margis, currently reading Jackaby by William Ritter and listening to Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo.

Is This Just Fantasy?: Defying Genre!

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 07:00

Genre is a funny thing.  While it’s often easy–and frankly helpful– to divide novels into their neatly labeled slots based on basic characteristics such as setting and plot.  However, stories–like human beings–resist being placed into boxes and novels that blur the lines between genres consistently bring something unique to the table.

Today I wanted to highlight recent titles that experiment with two genres often perceived as polar opposites: contemporary realistic and fantasy fiction.  Frequently, such titles are classified as magical realism.  This category is fascinating and tricky to define but generally, it includes novels set in a world like ours but with certain magical elements as a natural part of that world; magical realism usually does not include world-building or explanations of its magical elements.  For a larger overview of the genre and its place in young adult fiction, I recommend this excellent post by Kelly Jensen & Kimberly Francisco over at Stacked.  For further explorations, check out Hub bloggers Julie Bartel and Alegria Barclay’s posts in memory of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, one of the authors most often identified with magical realism.

While I’m not sure that all these titles fit the generally accepted definition of magical realism, they all use strategic fantastical elements to illuminate contemporary stories about young adults’ coming of age in a world like ours.  Each title defies common genre expectations and none fit comfortably into a single category.  Instead they bend, reject, and flirt with multiple genres to create something unusual and compelling.

Afterworlds – Scott Westerfeld

In between final exams and college applications, Darcy Patel wrote a novel and sent it off to a publisher on a whim.  Now, she’s moving to New York City with an amazing book deal but without an apartment, friends, or any idea what’s waiting for her.  As Darcy navigates the thrilling and overwhelming new world of professional writing & publishing, she also attempts to ride the ecstatic highs and heart-crushing lows of falling in love for the first time.

Meanwhile, the protagonist  of her paranormal thriller, Lizzie Scofield, deals with the strange new abilities she’s gained since surviving a terrorist attack by playing dead and slipping temporarily into another reality known as the Afterworld.  Told in alternating chapters, Darcy and Lizzie’s stories intertwine as both young women venture into adulthood and face unfamiliar decisions.

This intriguing novel could be classified as contemporary fiction with an embedded paranormal thriller but I prefer to think of it as a form of metafiction; after all, it’s a story about a writer beginning to sort out her emerging identity by writing a story about a young woman doing the same–just with death gods and ghosts.

Dirty Wings – Sarah McCarry

Piano prodigy Maia lives like a princess in a tower, going through the motions of her circumscribed existence automatically–until she meets Cass, a street kid and witch with strange dreams.  While Maia can barely do a load of laundry, Cass survives with only her wits and criminal instincts.  But from their first meeting, the two young women are fascinated and compelled by each other.  When Cass helps Maia escape her stilted life and the two hit the road in a stolen convertible, their bond becomes even more intense.  But soon Cass will have to fight to keep Maia safe from both the needy but charming rock musician Jason and the strange skeletal man who haunts her dreams.

This lyrical novel could be described as urban fantasy, magical realism, or punk-rock fairy tale.  At its heart, it is the story of a passionate and life-altering friendship between two young woman searching for independence and belonging in a world.  The companion novel,  All Our Pretty Songs (Outstanding Books for The College Bound 2014), also uses a fusion of the fantastic and the realistic to tell a rich tale of friendship, love, and music.

Belzhar – Meg Wolitzer

When Jam Gallahue lost Reeve Maxfield, first boy she’d ever loved, after only forty-one days together, she was devastated.  After spending a year sunk in a deep depression, Jam is now being sent off to The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school for “emotionally fragile teens.” To make the situation worse, she’s been signed up for Special Topics in English.  Jam doesn’t want to discuss Sylvia Plath with a group of equally broken teens; she just wants to return to a past when she and Reeve were spending free period sneaking kisses in the library stacks.

Then a journal-writing assignment allows Jam to do just that–one moment she’s beginning an entry in her Special Topics journal and the next she’s transported into a strange otherworld where she can wrap herself in Reeve’s arms again.  However, as Jam and her classmates visit the otherworld they’ve christened Belzhar, she must decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice to reclaim her loss.

Jam’s journey appears to a prime example of magical realism–a contemporary story exploring love, loss, and healing through the addition of a single surrealistic element.  However, it walks quite a tightrope between these two genres and readers will likely have differing interpretations.

Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future – A.S. King

Unlike her classmates, Glory doesn’t feel any particular sense of joy or freedom as she approaches high school graduation.  She has no plan for her next move–no idea of any future for herself, either ideal or realistic.  Then Glory and her best friend Ellie decide to drink the desiccated remains of a bat and suddenly Glory find herself bombarded by visions.  Now, when she looks at the world she sees life in triplicate–viewing each individual’s infinite past and future.

And as she tries to reconcile new revelations about her mother’s suicide over ten years ago, Glory sees a future where women’s rights are disappearing and a new civil war has broken out.   Now, Glory must work to make sense of the strange but critical connections between the past, the present, and future–for herself and the world.  A.S. King has incorporated aspects of magical realism into most of her novels with great success and her newest is no exception.

-Kelly Dickinson, currently reading The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquz

Being A Teen in the Fight Against Book Censorship

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 07:00

October is an exciting month for any YA lit fan, because it includes Teen Read Week! In honor of this annual celebration of young adult literature, YALSA invited book-loving teens all over the world to apply to share their enthusiasm for reading in a guest post for The Hub. Thirty-one talented young writers were chosen, and we’ll be featuring posts from these unique voices all month long. Here’s Abby Hendrickson from Minnesota.

When I was a freshmen in high school, a parent in my town decided that the book that we would be reading in class that year, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (which discusses sexual abuse), was explicit and therefore should be banned and removed from shelves.  Immediately English teachers and librarians were up in arms, ready to strike out the looming book censorship. They were prepared to defend the right of the students and everyone else to read freely.

Not wanting it to become a big fight, the school board quickly came to the decision that the book wouldn’t be banned but instead would be pulled from the required reading list. Under the new rules, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was kept at the school where teachers would read aloud from it only when the passages were necessary for the lesson.

Though this compromise was accepted, it was accepted begrudgingly. The librarians and teachers followed the rules that had been made to pacify parents, but they didn’t stand back and let this attempt to ban books become the new normal.

photo by flickr user martinak15

What they did in response showed me that there are ways to stand up against book banning.  My English teacher, Mrs. L, reminded my class that no one can stop us from reading freely and we were certainly able to pick up a copy and read it if we wanted. She kept a stack of books on her desk for anyone to borrow and the librarians displayed the book proudly in the media center. With my interest was piqued, I decided to snag a copy. Thanks to the efforts of the teachers and librarians, the attempt to ban the book had had the opposite effect.

That was my first time seeing book censorship in action, but reading I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings wasn’t my first time I had read a banned book. As it turned out, I had been reading banned and challenged books for a long time without even knowing it. Early in my school career I had read books like Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business, Bridge to TerabithiaCharlotte’s Web, and, of course, Harry Potter. All of them, I’ve learned, are banned or challenged somewhere in the United States.

More well loved books that join them on the list of 11,300 books that the American Library Association reports have been challenged in the last 32 years include:

  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  •  Looking for Alaska by John Green
  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  •  Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

As I became more informed about book banning and I realized how many stories that had entertained, enchanted, and educated me in the past were being denied to other kids, I was both angered and saddened. It wasn’t fair, I decided, that because of book banning another student might never know the feeling of following Katniss and Peeta’s progress in the arena, the comfort of Laurie Halse Anderson’s words, or learn the lasting damage that abuse leaves on a person’s

By sheltering young people from the “unfit” topics in these books, book banners close doors on healthy discussion that can help kids and teens understand and think critically about the issue. Instead of fearing books about tough topics, society should be embracing them as an ideal way to bring up issues that are normally ignored.

With these thoughts in my mind, I set out to find how I could follow the example of the adults at my school and defend my freedom to read. What I learned was that teens don’t have to take this sitting down. There are ways to fight against the oppression of book censorship. Teens can:

  • Read banned books
  • Find out if your library has a program you can be a part of to bring attention to book banning
  • Participate in events like Banned Books Week (an event hosted each year in September to celebrate the freedom to read)
  • Support foundations that are involved in fighting censorship such as the National Coalition Against Censorship and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression

Whether it be reading Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson then discussing bullying with a friend or giving someone access to a book that’s been pulled from library shelves, there’s a way for teens to stand up against book banning. I did this when I decided to read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings in ninth grade and I continue to fight by reading and discussing banned books today.

Luckily for me, my first up close encounter with book challenging wasn’t one where the book banners were truly successful. The instance set a tone for how I view book banning and always reminds me that there are victories in the battle against book banning. Teen readers are not powerless in this fight and can help show the world how literature can be a platform for starting discussion that leads to awareness and change.

Abby Hendrickson is a 16 year old book loving, iced tea drinking, social media enthusiast from Minnesota. Besides reading, her favorite activities include dancing, swimming, and marathoning shows on Netflix.

Genre Guide: Post-Apocalyptic Fiction for Teens

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 07:00

By Artiom P from Vilnius, Lithuanian (The Forgotten Veteran 1920 x1200) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Post-apocalyptic fiction is a sub-genre of science fiction. For a novel to be post-apocalyptic, the setting must be one where the end of the world has already taken place and characters are trying to survive and start anew. The end of the world event that occurred can be anything from war, to plague, to natural or man made disasters. Post-apocalyptic fiction differs from apocalyptic fiction, where the end of the world is currently taking place and the characters and fighting to survive it.


Post-apocalyptic fiction can be set in the current day or the far off future. Additionally, the story can take place right after the cataclysmic event or years after the event. In post-apocalyptic novels, technology can be that which we have never seen before, or there can be no technology at all. Also,  characters can remember what the world was like, or they can’t remember at all what the world was like and will fantasize about the way it used to be or even go so far as to create myths about the world before the destruction (often our current day).

The stories of post-apocalyptic novels are often action and adventure, survival stories. When post-apocalyptic fiction is written for teens, the protagonist or protagonists are  surviving on their own or in packs, and oftentimes the “hero” of the story has outstanding survival skills and can figure out how to survive in this new world. As with most novels written for teens, adults can be absent in post-apocalyptic novels.  However, it is not uncommon to have an adult in a post-apocalyptic novel positioned as an evil figurehead, or the one person our hero or heroes are trying to find or keep safe. Post-apocalyptic novels can have elements of other genres in their story.  The most common is to have dystopian governments in place.

Post-apocalyptic novels appeal to readers who like action and adventure.  They also appeal to those who want to wonder, “what if?”  They like stories where you have to figure out how to survive along with the main character(s). Would you do the same thing that the characters choose to do?  Can you figure out the consequences of their decisions before they do?  Additionally, there is the appeal of post-apocalyptic fiction to teens because of how many of the stories are set where the end of the world came about in a way that we can imagine happening in our own time (extreme weather, man made destruction, war, and even disease are all events we are seeing in our present day).  Teens who may feel a lack of control in their everyday lives, may find post-apocalyptic novels appealing because the teens in these novels have to face far bigger issues and even survive day to day.  It makes the reader’s problems more manageable, or at least, let’s them let go of their problems while they read.  Finally, post-apocalyptic novels may appeal to teen readers who enjoy reading about a world where there are no rules, where teens are not necessarily just teens and they hold far greater power than would ever be allowed in our reality.

The post-apocalyptic genre has a wide range of readers, though typically they are those who already enjoy science fiction stories.

Some current trends in post-apocalyptic fiction include incorporating a dystopian government, focusing on the destructive effects of warfare, having a virus or plague as the cause of the end of the world, and/or having environmental disasters as the source for the apocalypse.

Reference Books

  • Dark Futures: A VOYA Guide to Apocalyptic, Post-Apocalyptic, and Dystopian Books and Media by Brandy Danner (VOYA Press, 2012)

Most publishers both large and small produce post-apocalyptic novels. However, Tor Teen specifically publishes science fiction and fantasy for teen readers.


The Locus Awards have a young adult category, where post-apocalyptic titles are often chosen.

The Andre Norton award is a sub-category of the Nebula Awards that is presented to the year’s best sci-fi or fantasy novel for teen, and will consider post-apocalyptic titles.

The Bram Stoker Awards, an annual award for horror books includes a young adult category, and will consider post-apocalyptic novels.

Recommended Titles

–Colleen Seisser, currently reading Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

Why I Love Harry Potter

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 07:00

October is an exciting month for any YA lit fan, because it includes Teen Read Week! In honor of this annual celebration of young adult literature, YALSA invited book-loving teens all over the world to apply to share their enthusiasm for reading in a guest post for The Hub. Thirty-one talented young writers were chosen, and we’ll be featuring posts from these unique voices all month long. Here’s Jacqueline Cano from Virginia.

When I am asked what my favorite book is, I am met with a challenge. How can I choose just one? There are thousands of books that have been written; there are thousands more to be written yet. How can I be expected to pick one?  I’ve read hundreds of books. I couldn’t name them all if you paid me. But certain stories stick. And the series that sticks out most to me is Harry Potter.

And it isn’t just me. Mention Harry Potter and nearly everyone knows what you’re talking about. Some people will be enthused. Others will recognize it with apathy. There are also the ones who are fervently against it, but we mustn’t let those Muggles get us down.  That’s one of the things I love about Harry Potter– the recognizable quality it holds.  Harry Potter, which has been translated into 77 different languages, brings people of different ages and cultures together. It’s not some cool underground thing. It’s a unifying literary power.

But why?

Why do so many people care so much about a boy who grew up in the cupboard under the stairs? Why do so many people appreciate this made up story? What magic could it possibly hold? I can’t speak for everyone, but I can tell you what I think.

It started out as a book, for one. Books are the most magical invention of man. It’s well written; it’s not an especially difficult book, but it’s not simplistic either, and every word in it breaths life. The story sucks you in. The details are what make it so believable.  The sentences are filled with adverbs, letting us see exactly what happened and how. The scenery is drawn out so clearly in our minds. And those are just the literal details. Everything in Harry Potter has a back story. There is a rich fictional history behind everything that feels immensely real.

The characters are human in every sense of the word. They fight. They love. They react and express a wide range of emotions. They do good but still make mistakes–they all have flaws. They’re vulnerable, and as human and alive as you or I.  The way they interact with each other is one of my favourite things. Then again, I’ve always had a weird fascination with human relationships.

Plus, Harry Potter teaches us, about Good versus Evil (with a true sense of the word evil), about love, growing up, friendship, prejudice, and loss, just to name a few.  I remember reading an interview with J.K. Rowling where she claimed she didn’t write to teach children lessons, but she taught us. Or at least she gave us a way to teach ourselves through the view of the world she armed us with.  Rowling helped us grow up through Harry Potter though admittedly this isn’t the same for those who were introduced later in life. She showed us that status and family names mean nothing but that despite this, some people still believe them to be of great importance.  She showed us that we make our own futures, that we’re capable of being brilliant.

Rowling didn’t sugarcoat things. She showed us how truly awful things and people could be. She showed us that we ourselves are capable of doing wrong. More than that, she showed us that we are everything, good and bad, that it’s all in how we choose.

Harry Potter left behind tons of loyal followers. Rowling gave us a legacy. We may not be able to join Dumbledore’s Army, but we can join the Harry Potter Alliance, which is just as good, helping the community while being around a bunch of like-minded witches and wizards-I mean fans. The HPA highlights all the good we learned from Harry Potter.

Courtesy Jacqueline Cano







Helping others is fantastic, but regretfully, we don’t do it as often as we should. So, what about the fun that comes out of this? Earlier this year I went on a trip to Hogsmeade in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando. It was amazing. It was like stepping into the movie. I almost cried.

The best part of it was the collective awe.

In other sections of the park you saw the normal family arguments. But stepping into that section made it all go away. It was truly magical. And it felt genuinely good. Especially seeing how much it means to other people. And hearing grown adults freak out with joy in other languages.

I love Harry Potter. It may be just a story, but it is a large part of me. There is an instant bond that I feel with other fans that is unique. Finding someone who identifies with your House is spectacular. I am a proud self-proclaimed Slytherin (although Pottermore seems to think I should be in Gryffindor) and it’s nice to find similar, though hard to find fellow Slytherins because of the stigma still surrounding it. People look at you like you might be evil, but that is a misconception us Slytherins must unite to overturn.  Same goes for all the houses really. Hufflepuffs aren’t lame. Ravenclaws aren’t heartless intellectual robots. And Gryffindor’s aren’t arrogant. We’re all just people with different main qualities.

Thanks for reading my post–I hope you enjoyed it. Now go read something else. Might I suggest revisiting the Harry Potter series?

And remember, draco dormiens nunquam titallandus.

–Jacqueline Cano


Jacqueline Cano is a 16 year old high school junior in Virginia. She enjoys school, and her favorite subjects are JROTC and history. When she’s not reading or writing, she can usually be found listening to music or lost in her thoughts. More of her work can be found on Figment

2014 Teens’ Top Ten Titles Announced!

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 11:59

Teens voted and the results are in! Here are the official 2014 Teens’ Top Ten titles!

Thanks to all the teens who voted and congrats to the authors of the “top ten” titles!

Learn more about the Teens’ Top Ten here.

Beta Books: Teens Review Advance Reading Copies

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 07:00

It’s time for another post from the Beta Books club at my library, which reads, reviews, and generally has a grand time discussing ARCs (Advanced Reading Copies) of upcoming teen books. Our review form includes a cover discussion, space to share thoughts on the book, and 1-5 star rating. Thanks to today’s reviewers for agreeing to share their thoughts on The Hub! SPOILER ALERT: Some reviews mention plot points.

Reviewer: Piper

Book: The Gospel of Winter, by Brendan Kiely

What did you think of the cover? I really liked the cover, I really think it fit the story quite well. Also I would change nothing about the cover.

What did you think of the book? I enjoyed the overall storyline but at times it could be slow and a bit dragged on. Yes, I would tell a friend to read this book.

How would you rate this book? 3 stars: Pretty good. I wanted to see how it ended.

* * * * * * * *

Reviewer: Izzy

BookSplintered, by A. G. Howard

What did you think of the cover? I liked the cover, I think it matched the story. No, I would not change anything about the cover.

What did you think of the book? I thought it was really good. I liked the romance. I wish it described more with better details. My favorite part was when her mom got better. Yes, I would recommend this to a friend!

How would you rate this book? 5 stars. Unbelievable! I’d rather read this book than sleep!

* * * * * * * *

Reviewer: Chioma

Book: Rites of Passage, by Joy N. Hensley

What did you think of the cover? I actually really liked the cover. It didn’t match the story at all. I would keep the cover the same, but for another version, it could be someone doing a dangerous dare.

What did you think of the book? The summary on the back is good, and so is the first couple pages. I would totally recommend this to a friend.

How would you rate this book? 4 stars: Awesome. I loved it and would give it to a friend.

* * * * * * * *

Reviewer: Mveno

Book: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, by Matthew Quick (2014 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults)

What did you think of the cover? It fit I suppose, the colors were serious so right off the bat I knew it’d have a heavy topic.

What did you think of the book? Meh – I liked it, however in all honesty, I felt like I’ve read this story before, about five times when it comes to a somewhat generic suicide book, I also saw the ending/climax coming, I’d say that his future notes were interesting, but they were given to the reader too soon, to the point where I actually thought he was from the future, or something along those lines…

How would you rate this book? 3 stars: Pretty good. I wanted to see how it ended.

* * * * * * * *

Reviewer: Piper

Book: Freak Boy, by Kristin Clark (2014 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults)

What did you think of the cover? I liked the cover quite well and I think it truly matched the story. I wouldn’t change anything at all about the cover.

What did you think of the book? I liked the book because it told the story of how being trans might end up, in a true manner. I only wish I could find out what happened to Brandon in the end. Yes, I would recommend this book to most of my friends.

How would you rate this book? 3 stars. Pretty good. I wanted to see how it ended.

-Becky O’Neil, currently reading The World Atlas of Street Art and Graffiti, by Rafael Schacter

Diversity Matters: Privilege & Representation in YA Lit

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 07:00

October is an exciting month for any YA lit fan, because it includes Teen Read Week! In honor of this annual celebration of young adult literature, YALSA invited book-loving teens all over the world to apply to share their enthusiasm for reading in a guest post for The Hub. Thirty-one talented young writers were chosen, and we’ll be featuring posts from these unique voices all month long. Here’s Destiny Burnett from Louisiana.

courtesy of flickr user patries71

As someone who’s been an avid reader and lover of YA novels since I was nine years old, I can comfortably say that over the past eight years I’ve accumulated my own little library. In total, today, I own 382 books. Now, books I own are not all that I’ve read, of course, but out of the books that I own (and have read) 27 feature some sort of diversity amongst the characters.

Let me begin by clarifying that I consider a diverse book to be one that features a person of color, a person of a non-Christian faith, an LGBTQ theme or characters, a person with a mental illness or physical disability, or a setting in a lower class area. I consider these factors diverse for YA literature for three reasons

  • most of these are considered a form of diversity in the real world
  • people living with any variation of these characteristics experience an unfathomable amount of adversity
  • these factors are under represented in YA literature, and do not reflect the real world.

So why is representation important in YA literature? To answer that question, one must consider why they read. I read for the enjoyment of experiencing a character’s story. What makes me enjoy a story? Identifying with the character. This is why representation is important; every person who wants to read a book with a character they can identify with should have access to ones where their culture and identity is present. The reality of the situation, especially for YA readers, is that these kinds of books exist very few and far between.

Today I want to recommend some (maybe lesser known) books that promote diversity.

The first is Does My Head Look Big In This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah. The novel follows the story of an Australian-Palestinian girl named Amal who decides to begin wearing the hijab full-time. As an American teen living in a relatively conservative area, this book (which I read at ten years old) was an eye opener for me on Muslim culture. I knew next to nothing about Islam at the time, and it felt almost educational to read the novel and be exposed to both Muslim culture and the hardships faced by Muslim women passionate enough to endure the discrimination they experience while wearing the hijab. (For those who don’t know, the hijab is a headscarf worn by Muslim women [and sometimes men] because of a set of verses in the Quran in which Allah (God) tells men and women to lower their gaze and dress modestly.)

Next is Bi-Normal by M.G. Higgins, about a high school football star named Brett Miller who begins to question his sexuality. My favorite thing about this book is the way it depicts Brett’s struggle to understand his sexual orientation. Brett is uneducated on the LGBTQ community–he doesn’t even know what it means to be bisexual–which I think is an important factor to include in his life, because many people who experience some sort of confusion about their identity (sexual or gender) have no idea that what they’re experiencing is completely normal. Also, I love that the book represents the bisexual community specifically, because it is a community that faces discrimination from the LGBTQ community as well as non-LGBTQ individuals. Non-LGBTQ individuals will hopefully come to better understand the confusion some LGBTQ people experience through reading Bi-Normal.

The last book I want to talk about is Read My Lips by Teri Brown. I admit that Read My Lips wavers on the cheesy side, with its high school cliques and questionable character choices, but I also think it stays very true to the daily struggles of deaf people. Read My Lips follows the story of “the new girl” named Serena, a deaf teen just trying to fly under the radar (which, of course, does not at all work). I can specifically remember reading scenes where Serena must ask her parents to repeat something because they don’t look at her as they speak, or where part of a word is  lost in translation as she tries to read lips. As a reader without much experience being around deaf people (or people hard of hearing), Serena’s story definitely made me more self-aware.

In writing this post I realized another reason why diversity in YA literature is important: education. It’s important for people outside of these groups–people who are not facing the same adversities–to be more aware of themselves and other people in order to help everyone be given equal opportunities. The term used by my generation to describe the differences in how people are treated based off of characteristics that make them diverse is “privilege.” Despite being Mexican American, I physically look white, allowing me what is called “passing privilege,” because although I identify as Mexican, I do not face the same discrimination obviously Hispanic people do. Reading about the struggles of diverse groups hopefully allows readers to experience a life outside of their own, something that is both fun to do, and opens the eyes of readers as they realize their own privilege. I hope that knowing one’s own privilege will allow readers to make an effort to ensure all people experience situations with equal amounts of struggle, regardless of their physical appearance, or any other contributing factor.

Of course there are many other books that promote diversity (John Green and David Levithan’s Will Grayson, Will Grayson; Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why) but talking about books with diversity will hopefully produce more of them, which is what I, as a YA reader, yearn to see.

–Destiny Burnett


Destiny Burnett is a Senior at Patrick F. Taylor Academy in Avondale, Louisiana. She is President of the Patrick Taylor Book Club (Bookmarked) and Vice President of the Patrick Taylor Gay-Straight Alliance (SAFE), and is active in the Student Government Association and National Honor Society. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, listening to music, writing, and bettering her high scores in Dance Central.

The Monday Poll: Which Witch Book?

Sun, 10/19/2014 - 23:29

Good morning, Hub readers!

Last week, we wanted to know which parents in YA lit you think deserve their own book. The Weasleys from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books topped the results with 50% of the vote, followed by Natalie Prior from Divergent by Veronica Roth, with 20%. There were some great write-in votes, too, including Mia’s parents from If I Stay, and the parents of Hazel and Augustus from The Fault in Our Stars. Check back on last week’s post to read all the other suggestions, and 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’ve got Halloween on the brain. Goblins, ghouls, ghosts, and witches. Which YA book about witches is your favorite? Vote in the poll below, or add your choice in the comments!

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