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Month in Review: November 2017

Sat, 12/02/2017 - 07:00

What happened in YA this month? Here is a quick round up of featured posts on The Hub and other links to keep you up to date when collecting for your teens.

At the Hub

Books & Reading Movies & TV In the News

 

— Cathy Outten, currently reading Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

 

The post Month in Review: November 2017 appeared first on The Hub.

Selected Lists Transition Update

Thu, 11/30/2017 - 07:00

We are working hard to continue to make the transition of YALSA’s selected lists to the Hub a smooth one. You can read more about the status of that transition in this post from 17-18 YALSA president Sandra Hughes-Hassell on the YALSAblog.

I wanted to give an update on things from the Hub side. You have hopefully noticed quite a few posts in recent weeks with 2018 Amazing Audiobooks and Quick Picks nominees. We’ve been working hard to get through a backlog of posts on these nominees. Both of those blogger teams and their coordinators, Ariel Cummins for #AA2018 and Dana Hutchins for #QP2018, have done amazing work in helping us get these nominees out quicker so librarians can learn about and purchase these titles throughout the year, which was one of the goals of transitioning selected lists to the Hub.

Dana had this to say about her time coordinating #QP2018:

“Coordinating Quick Picks during this transitional year began with a bit of trepidation not knowing exactly what was expected. With the guidelines set forth by YALSA and working with a fantastic blogging group, that was willing to make mistakes and learn, we were able to find our groove.  Some of us were able to meet at Annual Conference in Chicago to get to know one another socially.  We soon bonded as friends and colleagues and continued to meet and discuss books nominated for Quick Picks every two weeks via Zoom meetings.  This virtual face to face interaction allowed us to discuss the nominated titles and keep our blogging schedule on track.  Being a transitional team can be challenging, but I think everyone on the Quick Picks team would agree it has been rewarding. ”

Next year, we’ll be continuing the transition, adding Best Fiction for Young Adults and Great Graphic Novels into the mix. Those blogging teams and coordinators have been selected and folks should be hearing very soon. We’re using what we learned from this transition and we are optimistic things will move along smoothly next year.

I moved into my role as the Hub Member Manager only a few months ago, so thank you for bearing with me during that transition. I’m looking forward to working with the new blogger teams and coordinators, and also providing more content related to teen collections. I’m going to be sharing a bit about the kind of content I’m hoping to add into the fold in the very near future, so keep an eye out, particularly if you are interested in contributing to the Hub!

–Stephen Ashley, currently reading The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

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#QP2018 Nominees Round Up: Graphic Novels and Manga

Wed, 11/29/2017 - 07:00

Scorpia by Anthony Horowitz and Antony Johnston
Candlewick Press
Publication Date: August 15, 2017
ISBN: 9780763692575 

Glossy, full color graphics and an Alex who is drawn like an older teen make this fast-paced action-adventure graphic novel an excellent choice for reluctant readers.

It starts in Venice. Alex, following a tip from his nemesis, is doing a little digging into the death of his father. That digging leads him straight to Mrs. Rothman, head of band of mercenaries who identify themselves using the acronym SCORPIA:  Sabotage, Corruption, Intelligence, and Assassination. It is through Mrs. Rothman that Alex discovers how MI6 betrayed his father, and through her that Alex receives an invitation to join SCORPIA in its mission to disrupt relations between the UK and the USA by killing first a popular soccer team and then thousands of school children. Mrs. Rothman’s invitation is especially enticing as it is coupled with a video of Alex’s father apparently being shot by MI6 operatives. Will Mrs. Rothman and SCORPIA succeed? Will Alex be fully turned? Diabolical villains, explosions aplenty, and several near death experiences are gorgeously rendered in panels that keep the eye moving on pace with the action. This is a book that needs no book talking to capture and hold the attention of readers in both middle and high school who just don’t care much for reading–and it might be the push those readers need to transfer their affections to the narrative version.

Jodi Kruse

 

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Vol. 1 by Akira Himekawa
Viz Media LLC
Publication Date: March 14, 2017
ISBN: 9781421593470

When the idyllic world of Hyrule is threatened by a villain from a world of darkness, a hero must rise. Our hero Link thinks he can hide from destiny and his past mistakes by living in a simple farming village. But when dark monsters overtake the land and Hyrule’s Princess Zelda is threatened he is confronted by the impish Mina and turned into a wolf. How can he save the world if he isn’t himself?

This series adapts the story from the Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess video game. Non-fans should be able to follow the basic story and enjoy the action and manga art style.

Recommended for fans of Zelda video games, and action/fantasy manga.

–Jessica Ormonde

 

Spill Zone by Scott Westerfeld
First Second / Macmillan
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
ISBN: 9781596439368 

Addison ventures into the Spill Zone, a toxic wasteland filled with frightening creatures, to obtain an item for a mysterious benefactor. Is Addison a pawn in a nefarious plot? Things are not what they seem in and around the Spill Zone.

A perfect blend of horror and science fiction. Beautiful full color illustrations change tone and color palette in and out of the Spill Zone. Not text heavy but a compelling story line. This one will have readers rereading and anticipating volume two.

–Dana Hutchins

 

The Manga Cookbook 2 by Koda Tadashi (The Manga University Culinary Institute)
Japanime Co. Ltd.
Publication Date: June 30, 2017
ISBN: 9784921205362 

This cookbook is more than a simple collection of ingredient lists and instructions! Each of the 26 recipes are presented in the style of a manga comic, with line drawings illustrating a group of friendly characters demonstrating preparations and providing friendly tips and advice. The dishes are grouped into categories such as Festival Food, Meals for Two, or Seasonal Sweets, and they range from the simple (such as Zarusoba, boiled noodles in a homemade broth) to deliciously complex.

The quirky presentation, including gorgeous color photographs of the food, will appeal to manga lovers and teens interested in broadening their cooking skills into Japanese cuisine.

–Carrie Richmond

 

Older Than Dirt: A Wild but True History of Earth by Don Brown and Michael Perfit
HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
ISBN: 9780544805033

Looking for a quick read? Looking for fun facts?

This 100 page, nonfiction graphic book explores fourteen billion years of the Earth!

The conversations between the groundhog and worm are a fun, entertaining, and engaging history of Earth.

Readers who love science will have fun reading this very comprehensive book.

–Kay Hones

 

Ali-A Adventures: Game on by Ali-A and Cavan Scott, illustrated by Aleksandar Sotirovski
Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 24, 2017
ISBN: 9781524770952

Ali is one of the best online gamers, and a new, exciting videogame is about to be launched. Ali is invited to be the guest of honor but the game turns too real when terrible alien robots show up.

Can he defeat the Tyantor robots? Ali has to transform from a gaming champion to a real life hero!

Teen readers will be rooting for Ali, his fans and his wonderful dog, Eevee, as they fight to keep the game from infecting the real world.

–Kay Hones

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Booklist: Surviving Middle School

Tue, 11/28/2017 - 06:58

Middle school is the time of greatest change for teens. It is when you go from from 11 to 12-years-old to becoming an actual teenager. It is a time changing friendships and changing bodies, becoming more aware of yourself and of others. It is a time when identity is being explored, but also a time of growing empathy and sense of social justice. Books about the middle school experience are tricky to categorize, some speak to the younger side and some to the older, and choosing books for middle schoolers can be difficult because they are reading everything.

The halls of the actual middle school are often the perfect setting for a story about these early teen years. So much of what kids are exploring are those external relationships outside of the home. Here is a list of recent books for younger teens that explore the middle school experience.

Alan Cole Is Not A Coward By Eric Bell

Seventh-grader Alan Cole isn’t ready to be outed as gay. His older brother has discovered that he has a crush on another boy, and to keep his secret attempts blackmails Alan into doing a ruthless list of nearly impossible tasks.

All’s Faire in Middle School By Victoria Jamieson

Imogene, who has been homeschooled, is attending public school for the first time. Used to the community and environment of the Renaissance Fair where she and her family spend most of their days, she has to learn to navigate the halls and relationships of Middle School.

Armstrong and Charlie By Steven Frank

Set in the 1970s in Los Angeles, California, Armstrong, an African American from South Central L.A., and Charlie, white, Jewish, and from the Hollywood Hills, meet in middle school  when Armstrong starts attending Charlie’s school as an effort to bus in students from other neighborhoods. After a rough start, the two strike up a friendship that explores issues facing them around racism, bullying, and grief.

Brave By Svetlana Chmakova

Jenson wants to be a hero, but is usually the target of the school bullies. Always picked last, and struggling in math, Jenson remains hopeful. Soon he is pulled into the world of the Berrybrook Middle School’s newspaper’s social experiment, and what starts off as a story about someone not fitting in, turns to a hopeful way of finding your place in the world.

The First Rule of Punk By Celia C. Pérez

Malú is starting seventh grade in a new school in a new city, and taking her love of all things punk with her. She would give anything to be back in Florida with her father and his record shop close by instead of the cold and dreary Chicago with just her mother who is always trying to push her Mexican roots on Malú. School gets off to a rocky start when she immediately get into trouble for violating the dress code with her dyed hair.  A book about finding yourself and your voice.

Halfway Normal By Barbara Dee

Norah Levy is entering seventh grade after a two year hiatus from school while she was in cancer treatment. Norah very much wants her peers to notice her for her talents, and not as “Cancer Girl,” but her parents restrictions, though well intentioned, keep her from feeling that she can integrate back into a “normal” world, and be a “normal” girl.

Patina By Jason Reynolds

Patina, nicknamed Patty, is navigating several new situations. She is one of the newbies on a track team, where she is dealing with coming in second place – even though she is the fastest, being the new student at an elite private middle school, where everyone seems vapid, and being adopted by her godparents after her father’s death and her mother becoming a double amputee due to complications from diabetes.

Posted By John David Anderson

After cell phones are banned at the middle school, what harsh words about other classmates that were once passed around via text, are now more overt with comments now being posted around the school via sticky notes. Eighth grader, Frost feels secure within his established circle of all-boy friends until a new girl comes to their circle and tries to join their group.

The Stars Beneath Our Feet By David Barclay Moore

Seventh-grader Wallace, a.k.a. Lolly, is trying to pick up the pieces after his brother’s gang related death. After being given two large bags of Legos from his mother’s girlfriend, Lolly embarks on a creating a Lego city at this nearby Harlem community center – one where he can imagine a better world.

Things That Surprise You By Jennifer Maschari

Emily is facing her parents’ divorce, her sister’s struggles with anorexia, her dad having a new girlfriend and starting middle school where girls are starting to wear makeup and talk a lot about boys. There are just too many changes, and Emily isn’t quite sure where she fits into all of them.

The Way to Bea By Kat Yeh

Seventh grade has found Beatrix (Bea) Lee without her group of friends now that a new girl has taken her place in their ranks. Bea has always found solace in writing haiku, but now writes it in invisible ink leaving notes for her former best friend. Oblivious to the fact that there are others around her that admire her, Bea feels alone. She starts spending her lunches in the school’s newspaper office where she meets Will, another loner.

Well, That Was Awkward By Rachel Vail

Cyrano de Bergerac for the middle school set. Gracie and Sienna are best friends. AJ. and Emmett are also best friends. And they have all been friends together for pretty much their whole lives. But 8th grade is making things weird. Gracie kind of likes AJ. AJ likes Sienna and Sienna kind of likes AJ, but has no idea how to talk to him. So Sienna and Gracie hatch a plan – Gracie will answer AJ’s texts, without telling him it’s her. That way she can help her best friend, and help her friend AJ, and everyone will be happy. What could possibly go wrong?

–Danielle Jones, currently reading Calling My Name by Liara Tamani

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#QP2018 Nominees Round Up

Fri, 11/17/2017 - 07:00

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
Publication Date: October 17, 2017
ISBN: 9781481438254

Will Holloman knows the rules.
Crying: Don’t. No matter what. Don’t.
Snitching: Don’t. No matter what. Don’t.
Revenge: If someone you love gets killed,
find the person who killed them,
and kill them.

After his older brother, Shawn, is gunned down, the rules now fall to Will’s shoulders…the forbidden broken middle drawer calling his name. Finding the lethal piece within, he tucks it down the back of his pants and steps into the elevator, beginning the long way down seven floors.

Ripped from the headlines issues of gangs and gun violence immediately grab attention, and the thought-provoking dilemma Will faces is highly compelling. The dialect-filled writing is genuine and supports the gritty nature of the story and authenticity of the characters. The elevator ride takes place in a 60 second time frame. The intense pace heats up with visitors from the past boarding at each floor as the elevator stops, in the vein of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  Suspense escalates as readers wonder what Will’s choice will be when they reach the ground floor. Is 60 seconds enough time for him to reflect on the impact his actions could have? The rhythmic, staccato verse enhances the story and propels even the most reluctant of readers forward.

Reynolds masterfully tackles the issue of gun violence that cannot be ignored in today’s world. Long Way Down is a must read for fans of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore, and Dear Martin by Nic Stone.

Lisa Krok

 

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller
Feiwel & Friends / Macmillan
Publication Date: February 28, 2017
ISBN: 9781250095961

The daughter of the pirate king is held prisoner on a rival pirate lord’s ship, but all is not what it seems in this high seas tale.

A swashbuckling romance that sweeps you in from the first page. Alosa is a strong heroine that readers will enjoy getting to know. Twists and turns are cleverly revealed but not hard to follow. An adventurous read for younger teens.

Hand this title to fans of the Bloody Jack series by L. A. Meyer.

–Dana Hutchins

 

Firewall by Sean Rodman
Orca Book Publishers
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
ISBN: 9781459814530 

If the slightly disturbing cover doesn’t attract reluctant readers, the gaming subject matter will certainly pull them in.

Josh and his father have left the big city of Chicago to move to a boring small town, and that means Josh has left his best friend/love interest behind. That makes the computer game, Killswitch, all the more appealing. It’s a great game that allows participants to modify it…and someone has. Inside Killswitch is an exact replica of the small town in which Josh lives populated by creepy copies of every person in the town–avatars that look like they have had photos copied and pasted onto avatar bodies.  It’s not enough for Josh to go through that world, he wants to make changes to it, so, with the help of his erstwhile best friend and uber hacker from Chicago, he overrides the administrative rights on the town and begins to add to it.  What follows is a chain of events that alienates Josh from his one friend in his small town and potentially makes him an accessory to a planned bombing.

Don’t let the hi-lo format fool you. Though the story gets a little rushed at the end, Rodman spins an engaging tale that continually ups the ante for his main character. This short book packs a lot of big ideas into a plot that is perfectly palatable and appropriate for reluctant readers in both middle and high school.

–Jodi Kruse

 

The Enemy: Detroit 1954 by Sara Holbrook
Calkins Creek Books
Publication Date: March 7, 2017
ISBN: 9781629794983

When we first meet Marjorie, she and her friend Bernadette are fighting Nazis in the street. In Detroit at the beginning of the Cold War, the “Nazis” are Bernadette’s little brother, who would rather be Al Capone. This slice-of-life novel sees the prejudices and misconceptions that prevailed in a time of political stress in America through the eyes of a young girl who believes deep-down that people are good, but hears every day from her family and her friends that there are enemies all around. As she navigates snow drifts and ethical quandaries, Marjorie teaches us a lot about love and trust and learning to think for yourself.

Give this well-written and very accessible historical fiction to young teens who enjoy a good mystery.

–Laura Lehner

 

Thieving Weasels by Billy Taylor
Dials Books / Penguin Random House
Publication Date: August 23,2016
ISBN: 9780525429241 

Skip O’Rourke thought he finally left his thieving weasel relatives behind him. He has gone legit, using his “good” name, Cameron Smith, to attend an elite school and get into Princeton. That is, until he is pulled back into the family business for one last heist.

Fast pace with lots of action and dialog. A single point of view and linear storyline makes this story easy to follow. A fun novel that will appeal to teens who like crime stories that feature con men and mobsters.

Give this to readers who enjoyed Con Academy by Joe Schreiber, Heist Society by Ally Carter or Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman.

–Dana Hutchins

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#QP2018 Nominees Round Up: More Nonfiction!

Tue, 11/14/2017 - 07:00

Blood, Bullets, and Bones by Bridget Heos
Balzer & Bray
Publication Date: October 4, 2017
ISBN: 9780062387622 

Murder most foul is a perfect fodder for reluctant readers and the cover of this book is the come hither invitation that will prove irresistible to many.

I’m an avid reader who bores quickly with nonfiction, so this foray into the development of forensic science was a pleasant surprise. Heos traces criminology from the first poison tests all the way through DNA testing. If the stories of murder are the salt of this delectable morsel, then the pictures that are peppered throughout provide the perfect kick.

Granted, the chapters are, on average, about 15 pages long, which can be a challenge for reluctant readers, and the font is smaller, but there is ample white space and plenty of fascinating facts to keep a reader’s attention. The biggest draw of this book will be the content. Heos has done her historical homework, but she doesn’t offer it up in the dry style of a textbook. Instead, she cloaks the technical information in engaging narrative that provides a context that is so desperately needed for readers who can’t visualize what they are reading on their own. Forty-three pages of end matter (including a glossary, endnotes, photo credits, and an impressive bibliography) are evidence of a serious body of work that is accessible to a wide audience of readers from those who don’t like reading fiction to those who don’t usually enjoy reading, period.

–Jodi Kruse

 

42 Is Not Just a Number: The Odyssey of Jackie Robinson, American Hero by Doreen Rappaport
Candlewick
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
ISBN: 9780763676247

Baseball, basketball, football—Jackie Robinson excelled in every game! But opportunities were closed to Jackie for one reason: he was African American. Like many other outstanding African American athletes, Jackie played in the Negro Baseball League. In 1946, Branch Rickey, manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, recruited Jackie Robinson. It was a brutal, violent time and Jackie faced terrible hatred and discrimination. Jackie showed superhuman restraint and was a phenomenal player. This is a short, very accessible biography.

Teen readers will compare many aspects of the story of Jackie Robinson to issues and challenges faced by today’s professional athletes.

–KE Hones

 

Exploring Space: From Galileo to the Mars Rover and Beyond by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Stephen Biesty
Candlewick
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
ISBN: 9780763689315

Today’s teen readers may be the first generation to space travel in large numbers. We have just started exploring deep space: landing on the moon, robots on Mars, and space probes sent billions of miles to the far reaches of our solar system.

Cutaway illustrations offer precise detail including riveting depictions of space gear and craft with every last scientific instrument and structural element visible and labeled.

Teens interested in astronomy will pore over this amazing, intricate and accessible book about exploring space. Readers will be drawn to the detailed illustrations and the clear writing.

–KE Hones

 

Karina Garcia’s DIY Slime: 15 Cool, Easy, Borax-Free Recipes! by Karina Garcia
Sizzle Press
Publication Date: May 23, 2017
ISBN: 9781499806601

YouTuber Karina Garcia shows readers how to make their own DIY slime with this book full of 15 fun, and unusual recipes. Ranging from your basic slime, to crazy slime with outside the box ingredients. Examples include Fruity Chewy Slime made with Starburst candy, and Hot N’Cheesy slime made with Red Hot Cheetos. Each recipe includes a list of ingredients, step by step instructions with illuminating pictures, and a short paragraph with a extra info about the slime you just made.

Karina Garcia’s YouTube star status, the current slime fad, and the simplicity of the recipes and directions will draw readers to this short book.

Recommended for fans of super easy DIY projects, and slime.

–Jessica Ormonde

 

Unstoppable: True Stories of Amazing Bionic Animals by Nancy Furstinger
HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 10, 2017
ISBN: 9780544879669

Braces, prosthetics, orthotics and wheelchairs help the animals in Unstoppable. Teens will meet vets, caretakers, prosthetists and families that help animals recover.

Cutting edge technology and scientific advancements are featured including 3D printing and brain controlled prosthetics! These incredible new inventions are helping both animals and humans.

Teens will be eager to check out this book with a cover that features an endearing dog. 

–KE Hones

The post #QP2018 Nominees Round Up: More Nonfiction! appeared first on The Hub.

#QP2018 Nominees Round Up

Mon, 11/13/2017 - 07:00

Warcross by Marie Lu
G.P. Putnam’s Sons / Penguin Random House
Publication Date: September 12, 2017
ISBN: 9780399547966

Bounty hunter by day and hacker by night, Emika Chen launches herself into accidental overnight viral fame by projecting herself into the Warcross Championship, a global virtual reality/video game sensation. Emika’s luck finally seems to be looking up when game creator Hideo Tanaka invites her to join the championship as a spy for him, but the answers she finds may cost her everything.

Warcross covers a lot of territory very quickly but easily–the world-building and game descriptions are succinct but detailed, and the characters have depth without being over-explained. The twist at the end of the story ensures that readers will be back for the second volume of this fantastic series.

–Allie Stevens

 

Jumped In by William Kowalski
Orca Book Publishers
Publication Date: April 18, 2017
ISBN: 9781459816275 

Rasheed’s life is pretty rough. He lives in a dangerous neighborhood. School isn’t something he likes, but the E Street Locals (the gang that runs his street) isn’t something he likes, either. He manages to avoid both by hiding between the dumpsters at the 7-Eleven and shuts the world out with earbuds and his music. It’s not that he’s disconnected; he knows what the world is like.  With a disabled sister, paralyzed by a gang shooting, and a mother who has escaped through drugs, he’s pretty sure that the police are no protection either since he’s a “brown kid.”

His outlook on life begins to change when he meets a campus cop who feeds him rather than frisks him. The tentative relationship is one that changes the course of Rasheed’s life–and possibly even his neighborhood.

Kowalski effectively captures the disenfranchised voice of a teen in poverty. Though not as intricately plotted as Jason Reynolds’ work, it will appeal to the same kind of reader.  The end, like many hi-lo books, wraps up perhaps a little too quickly and doesn’t delve quite as deeply, but there’s no question that it has appeal and offers the promise of deep discussion points.  Reluctant readers will be attracted to the cover and and will likely find points of identification with Rasheed’s world view.

–Jodi Kruse

 

Shadowhouse Fall by Daniel José Older
Arthur A. Levine Books
Publication Date: September 12, 2017
ISBN: 9780545952828

Sierra and her friends love making art in their new lives as Shadowshapers.  But now they have to deal with police harassment and brutality on the streets of Brooklyn and at school.  Shadowshapers are fighting against oppressive systems of racism and white supremacy.

When Sierra receives a card with an image from the Deck of Worlds she knows that this is the Shadowshapers next fight. It is an ancient struggle between enemies, and Sierra must defeat the master of the Deck of Worlds.

Teens will be drawn to this gripping and magical world.

–Kay Hones

 

Trell by Dick Lehr
Candlewick
Publication Date: September 12, 2017
ISBN: 9780763692759

On a hot summer night in the Boston neighborhood of Roxbury, a twelve-year-old African-American girl is the innocent victim of gang-related gunfire. During the manhunt, an African-American man was quickly caught, charged, and convicted of the crime. Dick Lehr reported on the actual crime as a journalist for the Boston Globe in the late 1980s. 

Trell is the fictionalized story of this real crime. Trell is the daughter who seeks to prove her father’s innocence. She asks a reporter and a lawyer to help find pieces of evidence that were not considered.

Readers will learn many important details about this crime and find parallels between the failures of public policy and the court system to uphold justice 30 years ago as well as today.

–Kay Hones

 

Words on Bathroom Walls by Julia Walton
Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: July 4, 2017
ISBN: 97800399550881 

Adam knows that some of the people he sees aren’t real because he’s got schizophrenia, so of course he says yes when he gets a chance to try a new experimental treatment for his condition. It seems like he might get a chance at the kind of life he wants, including the love of brilliant, beautiful Maya. But when the drug begins to fail, Adam’s newfound happiness begins to disappear and he must come to terms with the fact that his condition will never truly go away.

Words on Bathroom Walls follows a similar storyline to the classic Flowers for Algernon and is a gripping, gritty trek through the reality of being a teenager with a severe mental illness. Despite heavy subject matter, Adam is hilarious and infinitely lovable, and the ending is hopeful and realistic rather than happily-ever-after and contrived.

–Allie Stevens

 

 

 

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#QP2018 Nominees Roundup

Wed, 11/08/2017 - 07:00

Freya by Matthew Laurence
Imprint
Publication Date: March 14, 2017
ISBN: 9781250088178

Sixteen-year-old Sara Vanadi has been hiding out in a quiet little hospital where she gets three square meals a day and is basically left alone. Her peace is shattered when Garen, an agent of a vicious corporation that is abusing forgotten deities, comes to her with an offer she wants to refuse: work for us or die. Suddenly outed as Freya, Norse goddess of love and war, Freya turns on the charm, enlists a hapless orderly (Nate), and goes on the lam. Since deity power is fueled by worship, Freya charms herself a job as a Disney Princess where she is able to gain power from the adoration of little fans visiting Disney World. Alas, her escape is short-lived, and before she knows it, Garen has trundled her off to the hidden corporate compound where he tempts her with unlimited adoration and power. The more she learns about the corporation, the more determined Freya is to bring it down.

Freya is a delightfully surprising first novel in a series. From Garen’s violent debut at the care center to Freya’s covert forays into the innards of the corporation, the action is nonstop.  Reluctant readers will be drawn to the pacing that mimics that of an explosive superhero/action movie as well as to the capricious, but tough, character of Freya.  This is a great readalike for fans of Cashore’s Graceling series, Sanderson’s Steelheart trilogy and Childs’ Sweet Venom trilogy.

–Jodi Kruse

 

Little Monsters by Kara Thomas
Delacorte Press
Publication Date: July 25, 2017
ISBN: 9780553521498 

After Kacey moves into her new home with her blended family, she desperately wants to make friends and be part of a group. New besties Bailey and Jade convince Kacey and her younger sister to participate in a séance at the site of an old massacre in a local barn. When Bailey goes missing, fingers point in different directions…some of them at Kacey, who finds herself trying to explain some pretty sketchy behavior to the police.

The plot is gripping from beginning to end and is sure to entice reluctant readers with the disturbingly dramatic and creepy premise. The cast of characters range from likable and flawed to twisted and snarky. Plot turns presented in short, nail biting chapters, keep readers in suspense as to who the real Little Monsters are in this psychological thriller. Cynics who think they’ve figured out “whodunit” will find themselves reading way too late at night—with the lights on—just to see if they’re right. Think along the lines of a young adult version of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn or Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. Hand this one to fans of We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis, and selections by Neal Shusterman.

Lisa Krok and Jodi Kruse

 

The Rains by Gregg Hurwitz
Tor Teen
Publication Date: October 8, 2016
ISBN: 9780765382672

Chance Rain and his older brother Patrick live in a small town. Everything is peaceful and a little boring, until one night everything changes. All the adults turn into horrifying monsters. Nobody over the age of 18 is unchanged. Now Chance and Patrick must help their fellow youths survive a world where monsters are trying to kill them.

On top of that Chance is chaffing at constantly being compared to his older brother. Patrick is tall, athletic, kind, and cool. And Patrick has a beautiful girlfriend, Alex, that Chance happens to be in love with. But with Patricks 18th birthday only weeks away, Chance must put all that aside in a bid to end this apocalypse before his brother gets turned into a mindless monstrosity.

Full of body horror, action, and daring feats of survival layered on top of a complex sibling bond this book is a riveting entry into the survival/horror genre. Ideal for a teen who likes action, body horror, complex characters, and a bit of a plot twist.

–Jessica Ormonde

 

What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum
Delacorte Press
Publication Date: July 11, 2017
ISBN: 9780553535686 

David Drucker is socially awkward, so much so that his older sister, Miney, has helped him create a notebook of classmates he can trust and classmates he can’t. Kit Lowell is David’s opposite. Popular and friendly, pretty much everyone at their school likes her, but that popularity is strangling.  Kit’s father was killed in a car accident, and all of her worried friends are asking questions she just doesn’t want to answer.  That need to get away provides the meet-cute for Kit and David.  He’s so shocked that he blurts the first thing he can think of that relates to her: your dad is dead.  The bald declaration is refreshing to Kit whose other friends are tiptoeing around the monumental absence.  As the story unfolds, David offers to help Kit fill in the blanks of her dad’s fatal accident, but his brilliant calculations and tenacious persistence provide answers that Kit isn’t sure she wants to face.

Buxbaum brilliantly captures both grief and Autism in this tenderly written story that is as much about family relationships as it is about discovering love. Reluctant readers will be drawn to both the characters and the situation, the humor of the interactions between characters is an added  bonus.  This is perfect for fans of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and is a little less explicit than (but equally as humorous as) B. T. Gottfred’s The Nerdy and the Dirty.

–Jodi Kruse

 

Wild Bird by Wendelin Van Draanen
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
ISBN: 9781101940440

Wren Clemmens has found herself on a path of self-destruction without quite understanding why – she only knows there’s a deep underlying unhappiness that colors her days and her actions. She finds herself being dragged out of bed in the middle of the night and shipped off to a desert survival camp for troubled teens. Angry and bitter, Wren resists the lessons to be learned for as long as she can go without fire for cooking and warmth.

Van Draanen builds a tale of self-discovery that is as dry and gritty as the desert itself. Painstaking details of the landscape make the reader realize what heroes are out there who take on damaged kids and teach them how to get through the night, to depend on themselves and to want to help others. Wren sobers up both physically and emotionally, and learns that she can shape herself into a person she can live with. This is part family drama, part survival tale, and part celebration of the desert and its denizens. It’s sad and uplifting, disturbing, edifying, and impossible to put down.

–Laura Lehner

 

 

 

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Women in Comics – The Wonderful World of Sports

Tue, 11/07/2017 - 07:00

Though comic books may not be the first place you consider looking for sports, the way that they combine powerful stories with powerful artwork makes them a great vehicle for telling sports stories. Many creative teams have taken advantages of what the format has to offer to tell exciting stories of athletes, competition, and teamwork. This list highlights just a few of these comics that are perfect for fans of sports and the competitive spirit.

Play Ball by Nunzio Defilippis and Christina Weir with art by Jackie Lewis – When Heather “Dashiell” Brody has to move across the country to a new school with her mom and sister, she finds at least one silver lining: Now that she is at a coed school, she’ll finally be able to play on a baseball team! Once she manages to fight her way onto the team, she realizes that she’ll still have to prove herself to her teammates and their opponents. Will her efforts to be a baseball pioneer be worth it? Or will it all be for nothing? This is a great read for any baseball fan or athlete, particularly those who feel left out of America’s National Pastime.

Spinning by Tillie Walden – As a child, Tillie Walden spent years as both a solo figure skater and a member of a synchronized skating team. In this memoir, she details her life on the team, offering a very personal look at her skating career and her teenage years. Readers learn about the commitment that Walden showed for the sport, the relationship she had with her family, and her own process of coming out through this honest autobiography. In an author’s note at the end, Walden notes that she focused more on exploring her memories of this period of her life than fact checking all aspects of those memories, but this in no way detracts from the story, which is a deeply personal, relatable and compelling read.

Slam! by Pamela Ribon with art by Veronica Fish – Written by a retired member of the Los Angeles Derby Dolls who also happens to be one of the authors of the Disney movie Moana, this comic captures the spirit of the rough and tumble sport of roller derby where there are strong friendships, plenty of competition, and maybe a little bit of blood. The story focuses on a diverse group of women who compete on two opposing teams, including Jennifer Chu and Maise Huff, best friends who find themselves on competing teams. The comic make readers want to put their skates on and join a team for sure.

Check, Please by Ngozi Ukazu – If you’re a fan of hockey or Tumblr, you’ve probably already heard of the webcomic Check, Please, but if you haven’t and you like sport, it is definitely worth checking out. It follows two players on the hockey team at the fictional Samwell University. The main character is Bitty, a figure skater who turned to hockey for a college scholarship. He’s a vlogger and the comic frequently focuses on his vlogging and baking, but most of the time the story focuses on his burgeoning relationships with his teammates, particularly the captain of the team, Jack. The story mixes the best parts of sports stories and romantic comedies to be a very fun read. It is well worth checking out online and, it has been announced that First Second will be releasing the comic in print starting in the fall of 2018, so soon enough you’ll even be able to add it to your shelf.

Fence by C.S. Pacat with art by Johanna the Mad – Set in the world of competitive high school fencing, this series, which debuts this month, follows Nicholas and Seiji, who are both 16-year olds on the fencing team at their private boys school. Though the series is a love story, the focus on fencing will remain central with a lot of time and devotion spent to getting the technical details right. It promises to be a great series, particularly for serious fans of fencing.

Buzz! by Ananth Panagariya with art by Tessa Stone – In Buzz! readers are confronted by a world where there are “unsanctioned street level spelling bees” and even the sanctioned spelling bees are more like MMA fights than academic affairs. It may not be a traditional sport, but played this way, it definitely captures the intensity of athletic competitions. The story follows Webster, who really just wants to survive high school, as he falls into the world of spelling bees without really trying and gets tangled in intrigue and lawbreaking along the way. The story is a fun romp with art that perfectly complements the story and brings these competitions to life using a color palette of just black, grey and yellow.

Hopefully this list will offer plenty of options for any sports fans you might know. Add your own favorite sports comics to our list in the comments!

Carli Spina, currently (re)reading Syllabus by Lynda Barry

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#QP2018 Nominees Round Up: Manga and Graphic Novels

Thu, 11/02/2017 - 07:00

Scooby Apocalypse Vol. 1 by Keith Griffen
DC Comics
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
ISBN: 9781401267902

What if you took the characters from Scooby-Doo, re-imagined them as badasses in the modern day, and pitted them against a mystery where the monsters are real and horrifying? Then you’d get Scooby Apocalypse

This isn’t your parent’s Scooby gang. Shaggy is a hipster, foodie dog trainer paired with mutant science experiment Scooby at a top secret lab. Daphne and Freddie are renegade paranormal reality show hosts. And Velma is a research scientist for an evil corporation. In volume 1 we see how a variety of strange clues bring these misfits together. Leading them to a terrifying mystery that threatens the world.

Pick this up if you like dark and gritty re-imaginings of classic characters. Recommended for anyone who grew up watching Scooby-Doo, and are fans of horror comics.

–Jessica Ormonde

 

My Hero Academia vol. 9 by Kohei Horikoshi
Viz Media
Publication Date: August 1, 2017
ISBN: 9781421593401

My Hero Academia vo. 10 by Kohei Horikoshi
Viz Media
Publication Date: November 7, 2017
ISBN: 9781421594378

In a world where most people have some kind of superpower, called a “quirk”, it really stinks to be the one guy without any. That’s Midoriya. He’s has all the makings of a great hero: brave, compassionate, and driven. But no quirk. Then one day he meets his superhero idol, All Might, and is given the chance to inherit the powers of the world’s greatest hero. Now he is enrolled in a prestigious academy for future heroes where he must learn to control his power, prove himself to his classmates, and become the world’s greatest hero!

In volume 9 the students of U.A. High School go to summer camp where they must work on controlling and harnessing their quirks.

In volume 10 Midoriya’s rival/bully, Bakugo, has been kidnapped by villains. It’s up to Midoriya and his classmates to save him.

This action manga has excitement and endearing characters. Great for fans of Naruto, Bleach, and Attack on Titan.

–Jessica Ormonde

 

The Water Dragon’s Bride Vol.1 by Rei Toma
Viz Media
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
ISBN: 9781421592558  

The Water Dragon’s Bride Vol.2 by Rei Toma
Viz Media
Publication Date: July 4, 2017
ISBN: 9781421592565

In the manga series The Water Dragon God’s Bride, a modern day girl named Asahi is suddenly transported from a happy life to a strange, cruel world. Her only friend is a boy named Subaru. When the locals decide to offer her up as a sacrifice to the Water Dragon God the ever cheerful Asahi must learn to survive a world where the people are superstitious and callous, and where her life is at the mercy of the distant and unfeeling Water Dragon God. The story has an optimistic tone that compliments the darker elements. Deeper depths are hinted at for all characters, including the crotchety Water Dragon God. The illustrations range from cute to beautiful. The mix of innocence and darkness makes for a compelling story that will leave readers eagerly awaiting the next volume. Great for fans of fantasy and manga.

–Jessica Ormonde

 

Boruto: Naruto Next Generations Vol.1 by Ukyo Kodachi
Viz Media
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
ISBN: 9781421592114

Boruto is the sequel manga to the wildly popular Naruto series. It follows the new generation of ninja as they train and battle enemies. Many of the characters are children of ninjas from the first series. The main focus is Boruto, son of Naruto from the first series. He yearns to step out of his father’s shadow and is resentful of how his father puts work before family. He’s placed on a team with Sarada (daughter of Sasuke and Sakura) whose dream is to be the next Hokage, and has her own issues with a often absent father. This sets up new characters with room to develop, and hints at future story arcs. The illustrations are dynamic and similar to the original series. This volume introduces new characters and expands on the world of Naruto with new ninjutsu, villains, and personalities. Recommended for fans of Naruto, action manga, and anime.

–Jessica Ormonde

 

The Legion of Regrettable Supervillains by Jon Morris
Quirk Books
Publication Date: March 28, 2017
ISBN: 9781594749322

Move over Superwomen (see the book by Hope Nicholson), there are new villains in town! Well, not quite NEW villains. From the very first pages, Morris makes his premise clear: “What good is a superhero without a decent supervillain?” Digging deeply into the archives, Morris breathes new life into some of the “most forgotten floes and oddball blackguards.” Diehard graphic novel/comics fans and reluctant readers alike will delight in the beautiful color graphics and the compendium of esoteric meanies.

Each new villain is introduced with an epigraph of their cheesiest taunt or most notorious line. Sidebars introduce readers to the villain’s nemesis, their creator, debut information and an author’s choice piece of trivia. Morris chooses to organize his parts as the Golden Age, the Silver Age, and the Modern Age and then presents the villains, in all their glory, alphabetically. This is a tongue in cheek companion to Morris’s other entry in Quirk Books’ stable: The League of Regrettable Superheroes: Half-Baked Heroes from Comic Book History. Reluctant readers with a taste for vintage villains will appreciate the format that can be skimmed, skipped through, and returned to without having to keep tangled plots clear in their heads.

–Jodi Kruse

 

The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen: Awesome Female Characters from Comic Book History by Hope Nicholson
Quirk Books
Publication Date: May 2,  2017
ISBN: 9781594749483

Hope Nicholson has demonstrated that she is the ultimate comic nerd and feminist in this compilation of diverse female characters under alliterative title with the kind of sheer cover that fascinates teen readers. Nicholson has clearly scoured the comic nether regions to assemble a cast of female characters–both fabulous and flawed–and present them to readers.

Organized by decade, with an introduction to what was going on in the comics/graphic novel publishing industry and a conclusion that features an iconic character from the decade, Nicholson has created a nonfiction book that will appeal to a specific niche of reader: the comic fan. Each superwoman is given her own profile which includes her name, a snappy description of her character, a defining quote by the character, her creators, and the issue in which she first appears. Nicholson then proceeds to analyze each of the 100 characters in terms of their development and the characteristics that make each of them a worthwhile contribution to the world of comics.  Each character’s profile is wrapped up with an “Essential Readings” blurb that tells readers where they can locate the actual comic. Profiles are augmented by either the cover or a panel from the original comic book in which the superwoman was featured.

This is clearly a labor of love for Nicholson who fills around 200 pages of content, an index that spans over five pages and art credits that take up two. Her audience is clearly not just intended to be comic curious teens in search of girl power. Her narrative is cheeky and informed, but she doesn’t shy away from commenting on a character’s overt sexuality and–in the case of the seventies characters of Pudge: Girl Blimp and Zelda the Witch–including panels that feature feminine nudity that are sure to get less mature readers tittering, not that the miniscule costumes of the bodacious superheroines of the nineties leave much to the imagination, either.

Overall, this is a title for the diehard comics history fan. The one-page profiles are filled with trivia and analysis, but readers can pick it the book up, read it, and put it down without fear of losing the plot.  The feminist lens used to evaluate the characters provides the added bonus of a weightier substance to a title could otherwise be as easily dismissed as the artists and characters it celebrates.

–Jodi Kruse

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