The Hub

Subscribe to The Hub feed
Your Connection to Teen Reads
Updated: 11 hours 42 min ago

Hunger Games Actress Willow Shields Invites You to Celebrate Teen Read Week™

Mon, 10/13/2014 - 12:21

Happy Teen Read Week™!

Hunger Games actress Willow Shields, who plays Primrose Everdeen in the franchise, invites you to celebrate Teen Read Week and Turn Dreams into Reality @ your library, October 12-18,2014!

Join in on the conversation by using the hashtag, #TRW14 and feel free to share this video, as well as your events, stories, and pictures with others on our Teen Read Week site!


Batgirl of Burnside: A New Take on an Old Favorite

Mon, 10/13/2014 - 07:00

Batgirl is my favorite superhero. Not just any Batgirl, though: Barbara Gordon is my hero. She is smart, strong, and an information professional! She has been portrayed as a librarian, an information broker for other heroes, and, in younger versions, as a tech-savvy student.

Barbara “Babs” Gordon first appeared as Batgirl in 1967, six years after the first ever appearance of a Batgirl. Most often, Babs is the daughter of Commissioner Gordon and works as part of the Bat-family alongside Batman and Dick Grayson’s Robin; however, there are variations to this in the many portrayals of her.

Batgirl has always presented as a strong female character, fighting with male heroes as an equal. She served as an important figure in conversations regarding female representation in comics after she was sexually assaulted and paralyzed during a violent attack in Alan Moore’s Batman: The Killing Joke. As this event became part of the canon, the now wheelchair-bound Barbara Gordon once again gave voice to an under-represented population in comics when she left behind her Batgirl cowl and became Oracle, an information broker who supports superheros fighting on the streets.

In 2011, the DC Universe went through a reboot of sorts with the New 52. Under Gail Simone, who had been writing Barbara Gordon as Oracle, this relaunch saw Babs going through rehabilitation, regaining the use of her legs, and heading back out to kick some baddies’ behinds as Batgirl, once again.

Over the summer it was announced that there would be a new run of Batgirl comics by the creative team of Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, and Babs Tarr. The basic breakdown is that Barbara Gordon would be moving to Burnside, the hipster neighborhood of Gotham, where she would experience the life of a young woman trying to balance school, a social life, and a gig as a crime-fighting superhero. In an interview with MTV, Fletcher described their efforts as “the best elements of Veronica Mars and Girls, with a dash of Sherlock thrown in for good measure.” My immediate thoughts? This. Sounds. Awesome.

The first issue of this run was released on October 8th (Batgirl #35). This issue sets the stage for exactly what Stewart, Fletcher, and Tarr said it would be and it does it in the best possible way. Babs is having fun while partying with friends, struggling to pay for her education, and fighting jerks who violate the privacy of others.

There have been many critics of the new take, including many who were turned off by the cover art alone which portrays Batgirl taking a mirror-selfie in a club bathroom (see above). But why shouldn’t there be a comic that appeals to a generation growing up with selfies, hashtags, and online hookup sites? Babs is still using her brain and her fighting skills to solve mysteries and catch the baddie. The comic also portrays characters of color and LGBTQ characters as part of Barbara’s social circle beginning on the first page of the first issue, once again bringing under-represented populations to the pages of a mainstream comic.

This comic is an excellent recommendation for fans of YA, in particular fans of contemporary YA. Overall, it’s a light-hearted, fun, superhero story with a strong female lead. It may not be for everyone, but it may just be the thing for someone who has not found a comic that has spoken to them before.

- Jessica Lind, currently re-reading Paper Towns by John Green

The Hashtag that can Change the (Literary) World

Mon, 10/13/2014 - 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 Amy Yoelin from Colorado.

Earlier this year, during the time that BookCon was being held, I was scrolling through my Twitter feed, and noticed a similar hashtag among the authors, publishers, and booksellers I follow: #WeNeedDiverseBooks. These four words capture what has been absent from current and previously published novels of all genres, but especially those pertaining to young adult and children’s fiction.

So why discuss the topic now? For BookCon, they hold the prized panel of “Blockbuster Reads,” which includes the promotion of many buzzed about authors. For example, 2014’s “Blockbuster Reads” panel featured Rick Riordan, James Patterson, Lemony Snicket, and Jeff Kinney. What do these four authors have in common? Besides being male, they are all Caucasian.

Angered by this line-up, lead curator of #WeNeedDiverseBooks Ellen Oh joined forces with twenty-two members of the publishing industry, both official and nonofficial, to do something about this. Hence, the movement #WeNeedDiverseBooks was born and bred.

What exactly does #WeNeedDiverseBooks stand for? The overall message is that diversity of all forms (LQBTQ, race, disabilities, culture, religious) should be represented in novels, especially those for the children and teen audience. Why target this age group, and not adults, per se? Books can have more of an influence on children and teens, helping them develop a more open mind about people from all walks of life. In addition, children and teens can have the opportunity to form (hopefully abundant) connections with protagonists in novels, as opposed to simply relating to various protagonists.

Prestigious authors (especially those who write young adult and children’s fiction) have pledged their full support to this movement. For example, Gayle Forman—author of the popular novels If I Stay, Where She Went and many more—posted a picture of her with her two daughters, expressing the need for novels to highlight diversity. In addition, readers of all backgrounds and ages took a stand in the fight for #WeNeedDiverseBooks. Pictures range from children holding up signs, to teens voicing their opinions. Social media was widely used to promote #WeNeedDiverseBooks, in which various authors, publishers, booksellers, bloggers and readers tweeted why they needed diverse books in under 140 characters. / Via

Maybe you are thinking to yourself, “I want to contribute to this movement, but I’m not an author.” So? You are a reader. You have a voice (unless you have strep throat). Demand a change within the literary realm. Pass along books that underline diversity to friends and family. If you know children or teens, encourage them to read books of diverse backgrounds. If you know a teacher, stress the importance of educating students with diverse texts.

All in all, the best advocacy is to directly publicize the message being presented. By spreading the word of literature that includes diversity, #WeNeedDiverseBooks can become employed by publishers, students, teachers, and readers alike.


Hello! My name is Amy Yoelin, and I’m an eighteen-year-old student at the University of Northern Colorado. Yes, my major is English. Yes, I want to work with young adult and children’s literature after I graduate from college. Yes, I like to read and write. Yes, I’ll stop assuming you’re asking these questions.

The Monday Poll: YA Lit Parents Who Deserve Their Own Books

Sun, 10/12/2014 - 23:13

Good morning, Hub readers!

Last week, we asked you to choose your favorite football-themed YA title, and your top pick was Crossing Lines by Paul Volponi, with 35% of the vote, and Dairy Queen by Catherine Murdock was a close second with 32%. You can see detailed results for all of our previous polls in the Polls Archive. Thanks to all of you who voted!

This week, we want to know which parents in YA lit you think deserve their own book. After all, mother knows best. Who would you want to read about? 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.

Assigned Reading: It’s Okay to Love the Enemy

Sun, 10/12/2014 - 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. Today’s post is by Thien-Kim from California.

The other day, while I was looking at the recent #BookChallenge trend on Facebook, where users post a list of their top 10 favorite books, I noticed a comment written by someone who refused to participate. It was something along the lines of “Sorry, not doing this, school has completely deprived me of the ability to enjoy reading anymore.”

Given, this isn’t a particularly uncommon sentiment. But if you think about it, isn’t it a little bit ironic, since that’s the exact opposite of what school is supposed to do—which is to fuel your enjoyment of reading? So that you may learn to Appreciate Literature and become a Productive Member of Society?!

I’ve always wondered how assigned books affect us. Often, we curse them for wasting our time, yet reread them years later. In an article for The Big Read, BBC estimates that out of 100 significant and beloved novels, most people have read approximately six. That number would probably be much lower if schools didn’t assign classics, but whether or not we liked and remembered these books is a whole different topic.

While the idea of being told to do something is not very appealing, if there’s reading involved, it can still result in happy consequences. If I hadn’t been forced to read The Glass Menagerie, I wouldn’t have known that I liked plays, particularly Tennessee Williams plays. Sometimes I’m glad that it was assigned, because there’s no way I would have picked up something that boring-looking in my free time. If I hadn’t, though, I probably wouldn’t have read A Streetcar Named Desire, which has become one of my favorite stories from any kind of fiction.

It’s likely that many of us wouldn’t have found our most beloved tales if we hadn’t been forced to read them first. School-assigned books are often a favorite to complain about (has anyone actually picked up a copy of Les Misérables with one hand?), but they also sometimes turn out to be newfound treasures that we carry throughout our lives. Inevitably, though, we will still have to tread through books we hate, but at least it sharpens our lifelong reading skills so that we can go through the dystopian romance novels a little faster.

Whether you want to read Pretty Little Liars or War and Peace, you’ll still be doing the same thing: enjoying stories, regardless of whether they were found in a classroom or because of a TV show. Even if you fervently prefer one over the other, it’s almost impossible to deny that assigned books and read-for-fun books often share a lot of the same universal appeal. You can find a great love story anywhere, whether you spend your summer vacation with Heathcliff and Cathy, or Hazel and Gus. So if you want to enjoy your assigned reading a little more, don’t think of it as homework—think of it as an excuse to get your hands on another book!

And what better way is there to enjoy books than by finding connections between your very favorite ones? If you are itching to get some (re)reading done, here is a brief list of must-read books that are commonly assigned in high school. Each comes with a corresponding YA book that might strike your fancy if you liked the first!

  • If you enjoyed Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, you might also like Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins.
  • Did you like Brave New World by Aldous Huxley? If so, take a quick look at Cinder by Marissa Meyer.
  • If you like The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, check out one modern retelling in Great by Sara Benincasa.
  • If you still like The Great Gatsby, you might be intrigued by The Clay Lion by Amalie Jahn— because who says you can’t repeat the past?
  • If you’re itching to find a new copy of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, you should also get The Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare.
  • If you’d rather read The Catcher in The Rye by J.D. Salinger, don’t forget to also pick up Looking for Alaska by John Green.
  • If you really enjoyed The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, you might enjoy Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys.
  • If you never got to read The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton and are thinking of getting it now, also try Miracle’s Boys by Jacqueline Woodson.
  • If you’re obsessed with 1984, try Incarceron by Catherine Fisher.
  • And if you fell in love with Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, you might just like Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell.

A book assigned by your teacher might not seem like a fun weekend activity, but it might get you interested in things that you never knew about. You might have to stay up until 2 A.M. to catch the movie version of it, or you might become a better reader. It might change your perspective about other books, or about life, or it might actually be fun to read. Of course, even if none of these things are remotely true, at least you can say you polished off yet another one of the great American classics! There’s always a chance that you might need to discuss it at a dinner party someday.

Do you have any fond/traumatizing/significant memories with school-assigned books? Leave a comment below!

Thien-Kim loves fiction (especially dystopian novels and short stories) and is a big fan of The Hub! Her non-writing hobbies include talking about writing, eating ice cream bars, reading, and discussing TV shows. 

Tweets of the Week: October 10th

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 07:00

Happy October Hubbers!! Check out what happened this week in the Twitterverse.


TV/Movies/Pop Culture


Just for Fun


-Katie Shanahan Yu, currently reading Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross


Book to Movie: Soundtracks that Rock

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 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 Dessi Gomez from California.

Movie soundtracks can potentially make or break a movie. It’s great when they complement the movie, and they are even more poignant when they connect to the book off of which the movie is based. I compared the soundtracks of three popular books that have been recently transformed into movies: The Giver by Lois Lowry, If I Stay by Gayle Forman, and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. These soundtracks chosen to help tell each of these stories have different tones that create unique vibes for each and every reader and viewer. The Giver is suspenseful and liberating. If I Stay is indie and quietly heartbreaking. The Fault in Our Stars is modern and mainstream. I wanted to talk about four songs from each soundtrack that I personally think really topped off the movie. [Note: time stamps for specific lyrical references are given at the end of some descriptions.]

The Fault in Our Stars
  • “All of These Stars” by Ed Sheeran

This song does a fine job of closing up the movie as the credits song. I thought of the title of the story when I heard the words, “I saw a shooting star and I thought of you.” Many of the songs in the soundtrack contain references to the stars. The lyric “I can see the stars from America/Amsterdam” connects the two countries in which Hazel and Augustus spend time together. The combination of “the way our horizons meet” and “skyline splits in two” speaks of how Hazel and Augustus are meant to be together, but are cruelly torn apart. “I looked across and fell in love” reminds me of how Augustus couldn’t take his eyes off of Hazel once he saw her in support group.  [Times: beginning-1:37; 2:17-2:35; 3:15 to end]

  •  “All I Want” by Kodaline

After thinking about, “you brought out the best in me, a part of me I’ve never seen,” I realized that it definitely sums up how Augustus lit up Hazel’s life and made her so happy. I wholeheartedly agree with the line, “Our love was made for movie screens.” [Time: 2:02-2:27]


  •  “Not About Angels” by Birdy

This song epitomizes Hazel’s sadness. The vocals and piano pack a pining punch of fresh heartache. The following line really relates to how Hazel feels when Augustus tells her that his cancer is back: “How unfair it’s just our luck. Found something real that’s out of touch.” The fact that “it’s not about angels” relates to Augustus’ fear of oblivion and to Hazel’s doubt in what Augustus’ parents call encouragements.



  •  “Best Shot” by Birdy and Jaymes Young

This melody reflects Augustus’ omnipresence, even after he dies. He will always be there for Hazel. “Stars fall from above, and you’re barely holding on my love” contains another allusion to stars and to Gus’ unwavering loyalty. It is a hopeful duet between a couple, both saying to each other, “I’ll be here givin’ it my best shot, cryin’ from the rooftops, nothing can stop us if we believe.”

The Giver
  • “Ordinary Human” by One Republic

 Another spectacular credits song, “Ordinary Human,” reflects Jonas’ new awareness of the world that he is living without.

“Today I took a walk in the clouds, used to keep my eyes wide shut but now I’m looking down” reflects how Jonas’ eyes have been opened to a whole bunch of new ideas. He “used to be a shadow, now the shadows scream [his] name” describes how he wasn’t very important before he was named Receiver of Memory, but now that he is, every secret tugs at him, compelling him to discover. “In the daylight I could swear, we’re the same” illustrates Jonas’ close bond to The Giver as well as the principle of Sameness that governs the community. I immediately thought of Jonas’ trek to the boundary of Elsewhere and his goal to heal the community when I heard the words, “There’ll be peace in the city tonight, and when I’m gone, I hope that you/they get it right.”


  • “One Minute More” by Capital Cities

“Don’t wait for an invitation, no need for a reservation” sounds like Jonas trying to convince his friends to break the strict rules. “You gotta see what I see in you” fits with Jonas’ attraction to Fiona, which was emphasized more in the movie than in the book; it also reflects when he tries to show his friends the colors. “Just think of a destination, I’ll be your transportation. We’ll find there’s a kind of place that can only be seen with the naked mind” sounds exactly like something the Giver would say to Jonas in preparation for a reception of memory. More emphasis is placed on the fact that, despite the Giver and Jonas being two individuals, they work well together as a team by the words, “unleash your imagination, two stars one constellation.”


  • “Silent” by Tori Kelly

 Silent is a very strong song when it comes to tying in with The Giver. “No more black and white, this life’s too colorful” definitely reflects how Jonas begins to see the colors. “Same faces around me with the same point of view: everything is perfect and everything’s ok, just swallow their lies and let your emotions fade” perfectly describes how Jonas feels when he is surrounded by other members of the community as well as how they behave. Jonas’ realization that he needs to go past the boundary to Elsewhere is evident in the lines, “gotta go gotta get out of this town, nothin’ left for me here, can’t stick around” and “got my own opinion my own words to say, got my own vision so I know I can’t stay”. He knows deep down that, “[He’s] not meant to be silent.” [Time: beginning to 1:27]


  • “Whole” by Rixton

“We’re/you’re tryin’ to take two halves and make them whole” is a sort of double entendre. It speaks of the committee and Chief Elder’s effort to make the community work, but by taking away freedom of choice and feelings and replacing them with obedience in order to help it run smoothly. This in turn is combined with Sameness, a form of Communism, and yes the community functions like a well-oiled machine (except for the occasional release), however it is missing something, therefore it is not whole. The other meaning is the attempt by the Giver and Jonas to replenish the community and fill the gap. “When you wake up, and you find that I’m not there, cry for me. Put on your make-up, and just let down your hair, don’t lose sleep” puts Jonas’ thoughts of leaving his “family unit” and friends for Elsewhere into words. It is basically saying: yes, miss me, but don’t worry.

If I Stay
  • “Promise” by Ben Howard

The lyrics, “Meet me there, under the flowers, we’ll wait through the hours of cold winter,” contain a promise in itself. I love the scene in the movie that this song outlines. “Tearin’ down doors of time” reminds me of how Adam and Mia wouldn’t see each other for long periods of time during their relationship. This song reflects the roughness and rockiness of the relationship with “promise me this, you’ll wait for me only scared of the lonely arms.” They want to stay loyal to each other. I love the crescendo and touch of cello after “and maybe, I’ll come home” as well as the “who am I darlin’ to/for ya?” lyric. This song is a quiet plea from both sides for the relationship to last. [Time: 0:31-0:58; 1:35-1:45; 2:25-3:40]


  • “I Will Be There” by Odessa

To me, this song is ultimately about loyalty and steadfastness, qualities that Mia, Adam, and Kim all possess. The following lyrics point this out for me: “If you ever need someone, to cry to/ to hold you/ to just love you/ to simply adore you, I will be there, standin’ by your side” and “mountains to the sea, in every city, from the valleys to the moon, in every country” reminds me of nature in Oregon.


  • “Today” by Williamette Stone

I love love love this collaboration between Mia, Adam, and Mia’s family. The simplicity and hominess and togetherness help make the song what it is. The guitar, banjo, and cello sound so harmonious together. Ultimately, I love it because it shows Mia that she really does belong in her family; it dissolves her doubts.


  • “Heal” by Tom Odell

This is another perfect credits song because it is saying to heal and move on and let go and that is exactly what Mia needs to do. I love the soothing vibe and similes that Odell uses. “Take my mind and take my pain, like an empty bottle takes the rain” (bottle it up and save it for another day), “take my past and take my sins, like an empty sail takes the wind” (sail on, start a new journey), and “take my heart and take my hands, like an ocean takes the dirty sands” (cleanse). These all contain some reference to water, which flows continuously and pushes through no matter what is in its way. This is what Mia needs to do. [Time: beginning to 2:00]


Music plays an important role in movies. It can be a true asset to the film by embodying the occurrences and feelings of the story, or it can distract by disagreeing with the plot, which leaves viewers confused and unsatisfied. These soundtracks served as the icing on the cake and the cherry on top for this trio of popular films.

–Dessi Gomez


Hi everyone! My name is Dessi Gomez. I live in California, and I am a sophomore at Santa Margarita Catholic High School. I also play soccer and participate in MUN. My hobbies include writing, going to the beach, and watching movies…when I’m not reading, that is. I love to listen to music, especially Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran. As of right now, my favorite book genres are Young Adult and Contemporary. I was so excited and grateful to be chosen as a guest blogger for The Hub and have enjoyed being part of the team. Hope you like my post!

Your Guide to the Literary References of Doctor Who

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 07:00

I’m a pretty big (although admittedly fairly recent) Doctor Who fan. My TARDIS “Bigger on the Inside” poster has pride of place by my desk at work and my Christmas tree will boast a Dalek and a sonic screwdriver. But some of the dialogue flies past me on the first viewing of each episode (perhaps the phrase “first viewing” gives a fuller sense of my devotion to the show).

I love that the writing is so fast and furious that I have to work to keep up, and I love being able to uncover new jokes and references when I watch again. And one of my very favorite things is when the Doctor makes a literary joke (or, better still, has an entire episode crafted around a literary reference). I mean, come on, how disappointing would it be to have a Timelord with all of time and space at his disposal who wasn’t really, really well read?!

So: what to read to get the Doctor’s best literary jokes so far? Here’s a list to start with:

 A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens - Doctor Who is a British icon and so is Dickens. Doctor Who Christmas specials have become a bit of a recent holiday tradition (at least in my house), and Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is arguably the best-known British holiday story ever; Dickens and the Doctor are a great match, and the show has done both a straight-up Whovian adaptation (titled, helpfully, “A Christmas Carol”), and an episode featuring Charles Dickens, “The Unquiet Dead.” Of the two, I prefer the latter, because the writing is rife with moments where we get to witness the Doctor and Rose influencing future classic literature while also imagining what Dickens might have been like in person. Plus, I like the 9th Doctor a lot.

Shakespeare (all of it) -  The episode written to make lit geeks giggle, “The Shakespeare Code” is so chock-full of great quips and allusions to the Bard’s work I’m still finding new jokes a few years later. Start with the sonnets, then work through the comedies (but make sure to hit Hamlet as well). Extra fun = watching the Doctor coin some of Shakespeare’s most famous lines. 

Anything by Agatha Christie - The Tenth Doctor (ahem. my personal favorite Doctor) and Donna spend an entire episode in a house party whodunit that unfolds as a glorious tribute to Christie’s bestselling mysteries (the bestselling novelist of all time, the Doctor informs us in a later episode. We’ll have to take his word for it!), while also starring Agatha as a guest at the weekend retreat. The episode is built around the real-life, 10-day disappearance of Christie, which makes for many layers of mystery (but fret not; Whovian hijinks like enormous alien insects are also still present. In case you were worried).

 Sherlock Holmes - Matt Smith put in an awesome appearance as the world’s most famous detective in the 2012 Christmas special, and his Doctor-as-Holmes was all the more hilarious with a solid foundation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous character’s many quirks and idiosyncrasies, which have been interpreted by many fine actors, but which originated on the page. This episode added an additional layer of in-the-know jokes because Stephen Moffat, Doctor Who’s then (and current) showrunner, also runs the BBC’s latest Holmes adaptation, Sherlock.

Are you sensing a theme here? Bestselling British lit is what you should probably be reading to get all the layers of Doctor Who dialogue.

Bonus reading:

 A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams - Did you know that Douglas Adams wrote and edited for Doctor Who back in the 70’s? He was actually working for the show while he wrote A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; superfans looking for other works with a similar tone would do well to try this beloved modern classic.

 Anything by Neil Gaiman - Did you further know that the magical Neil Gaiman wrote “The Doctor’s Wife”, from season six? Gaiman is also a longtime fan of the show, and just yesterday made a very pointed comment via tumblr about Who’s complete lack of female writers (none since 2008, which is, come on Moffat, extremely ridiculous).

Harry Potter (I’m not specifying a title because I think we can all agree it’s best to revisit all seven books with some frequency to help keep Nargles at bay)  - Let’s not forget “Good old J.K.” as the Doctor fondly refers to Rowling; given his Timelord credentials, the Doctor got to preview the end of the series way before anyone else on Earth, and a well-timed “Expelliarmus” spell has been known to save the Doctor’s day.

Bonus book-themed viewing: “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead,” season five - Two of my favorite Doctor Who episodes ever, and they take place in a fantastical (and frankly terrifying) library. Not to be watched alone, or if getting locked in a library is on your upcoming agenda.

This is really just a start to some literary giants who have received the Doctor Who treatment. Are you a Doctor Who fan? Do you have a favorite literary allusion from the show? Reading suggestions for fellow Whovians? Let me know in the comments!

-Carly Pansulla, currently reading Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Librarians Love: Books by Non-US Authors

Thu, 10/09/2014 - 07:00

by Flickr user Kenneth Lu

YALSA-bk is a listserv with lively discussions among librarians, educators, and beyond about all things YA lit. Sometimes one listserv member will ask for help finding books around a certain theme or readalikes for a particular title. This post is a compilation of responses for one such request.

The original request
Does anyone have some suggestions of teen lit by foreign authors? I’m looking for modern authors, with less emphasis on European countries (although, I would still like to hear your European suggestions if you really like the book). Trying to build some diversity here!

Suggested titles

  • Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
  • Ruby Red trilogy by Kerstin Gier
  • Why We Took the Car by Wolfgang Herrndorf
  • Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
  • The Storyteller by Antonia Michaelis
  • Keeping Corner by Kashmira Sheth
  • Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

Suggested authors

  • Randa Abdel-Fattah
  • Laura Buzo
  • Cath Crowley
  • Tellulah Darling
  • Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
  • John Flanaghan
  • Karen Foxlee
  • Karen Healey
  • Margo Lanagan
  • Derek Landy
  • Melina Marchetta
  • Juliet Marillier
  • Neesha Meminger
  • Miyuki Miyabe
  • Jaclyn Moriarty
  • Garth Nix
  • Nnedi Okorafor
  • Mitali Perkins
  • Shyam Selvadurai
  • Kashmira Sheth
  • Padma Venkatraman
  • Markus Zusak

Additional suggested resources

Have more titles you think should belong on these lists? Add them on the YALSA wiki or leave a comment! Looking for more compiled booklists? Check out the YALSA wiki or other booklists here at The Hub.

– Gretchen Kolderup, currently reading The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove

One Thing Leads to Another: An Interview with Andrew Smith

Thu, 10/09/2014 - 07:00

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

My mind is still reeling from Grasshopper Jungle (which I read weeks and weeks ago…will its hold on me ever wane I wonder?) so I want to take a moment to talk about some of the disparate thoughts that have connected themselves in my head.

When I think about Andrew Smith, I think about the guys who hung out in the library at the private Catholic school where I was librarian before my daughter was born: my TA, the members of the anime club, the boys who ate lunch in my office and talked about books and video games with me.  I wish so much that I had been able to give them Winger or The Marbury Lens or 100 Sideways Miles then, at that time, because those books…they would have loved those books.  (Luckily, social media keeps us all in touch and it doesn’t matter that they’re all in college now because they’re awesome and we still talk about books.)  I think about my friend Walter and how I pushed other books aside to read Grasshopper Jungle because he raved about it and because I trust his judgement implicitly, and how his wise comments about books offer more than just literary insight, and how he gave me by far the best parenting advice I ever received.  Thinking about my daughter and Walter’s advice and my hopes for her future brings to mind a man, someone connected to the school, who changed the course of my life, and how much I wish I could sit him down with Grasshopper Jungle and A.S. King’s Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future, and ask him to reevaluate.  That’s another connection; I read those two books back to back and they are inextricably linked in my brain now and I doubt I’ll ever recover (at least I hope not!)

And more than anything, thinking about Andrew Smith and his books–all his books–makes me think about my brother, who grew up with seven sisters, and our fascinating, infuriating, wonderful, complicated conversations about representation and cultural expectations.  My brother is so awesome.  And you know what else is awesome?  That a book about identity and history and connections and giant insects who eat people’s heads can tease out so many essential connections, creating a through-line that feels genuine and illuminating to me.  And that’s just one book.

Thank you so much Andrew, for writing honest books and giving honest answers.  Reading them was (and is) a very good idea.

Always Something There to Remind Me

Please describe your teenage self.

As a teen, I was pretty much a loner. I had a few close friends, I suppose, but being so much younger than my classmates in high school was a social obstacle that was difficult to overcome. I read a lot, but came into reading later in high school. And I wrote all the time.

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

I knew I wanted to be a writer, but I still don’t know if I can say why. It was just something that I felt like I had to do. Jobs and employment—a means of simply making money—never really mattered to me at all, and I never once thought I would make a job out of writing until I was challenged by a friend into giving it a go.

What were your high school years like?

I attended high school in Southern California. I also played soccer when I was in high school (don’t hold that against me). I will say that I don’t really have any significant or inspiring adult influences in my background, but one time when I wrote a short story for an English teacher, she gave me an F on it because she said there was no way that a kid my age could ever write a story like that, so, therefore it must have been plagiarized. That made an impact on me. Also, I still remember the story. Oh boy! It was terrible!

What were some of your passions during that time?

Well, like I said, I played soccer and tennis when I was in high school. I also did track and field one year for my father, who was a track coach. I hated track. My dad forced me to do it. I had a brother who was quite older than I was, so I grew up listening to bands like the Who, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, and the Doors. And, as far as reading tastes went, when I had money to spend on books, I would buy the thickest paperbacks I could get my hands on because I wanted to get as many pages for my money as possible. So I actually did read Moby Dick, and books like Jude the Obscure and The Idiot when I was a teen.

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

Terrible things happened to me when I was a teen. Nobody wants to hear about that stuff.

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

One year I received Honorable Mention in the Scholastic Writing Awards competition for a one-act play I wrote. It was in blank verse. Oh boy! It was terrible!

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

My teen self has told me to never talk to him, and I’m fine with that.

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

It was a lot easier to get into significant amounts of trouble when I was a teen as compared to today’s teens. I believe my generation—the generation that gave us ozone depletion—also used up just about the entire world’s supply of fun. Sorry kids. I take full responsibility for everything.

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

Oh good lord, nothing. Are you kidding me? I’m a grown up. Seriously, what sane grownup would ever miss that?

Every Day I Write the Book

I think it’s fair to say that many of your books end in ways that defy reader expectations, that turn the story on its head, provide a new perspective, or are unexpected in a myriad of other ways.  After your first novel Ghost Medicine was published you said you’d written a “few different endings …but one of them was so difficult…that I just couldn’t do it, and had to make the ending happier.”  What about your other books?  Are there alternate endings to the Marbury books, Winger, Grasshopper Jungle, or 100 Sideways Miles floating around in your brain?  Do you generally know the end of the story in advance or do you write to find out?  How do you decide which ending is “right” for that particular book?

The endings of my books usually make me aware they’ve arrived, as opposed to me working them out. So, with the exception of Ghost Medicine (and I haven’t thought about that other—even more devastating—ending in a long time), I would have to say that all of my other books kind of wrote themselves to their conclusions. I often don’t know where they will take me. But I will admit that I really wanted there to be real cannibal alien angels in 100 Sideways Miles. I’ve always been fascinated with cannibalism. Go figure.

Can we talk about boys? One of the few elements all your books have in common is a male character who struggles with the labels and expectations of family, peers, and society.  You’ve noted that “the pressure we put on our sons” to “fit perfectly into the constraints of society’s ‘boy box’” is immense, and causes immeasurable harm, and you’ve also said that you found many of the books your son was exposed to lacking in their depiction of “REAL boys…who have to deal with difficulties, who make mistakes, and who sometimes fail…”  Could you talk a little about how expectations can damage young men, and about the repercussions of that damage?  Do you think this particular literary shortcoming fits into the broader, ongoing discussion of the need for diversity in YA?

I think that boys frequently repress themselves because of all the pressure put on them to conform to a standardized definition of what boys should be. Boys have been told an awful lot of things about what they should be—like non-readers, for example, or readers of only certain types of books—and when I see a boy reading one of Marie Lu’s novels, or Gayle Forman’s (and believe me, I have), and I talk to them about those books, I often see this tremendous sense of relief come over them that 1) I think it’s cool they’re reading, and 2) I’m not going to genderize their tastes. As far as diversity is concerned, yes, I do hope we all appreciate that the idea of diversity is all-inclusive and that the push to diversify books is very valuable. On the other hand, honest diversification requires honest and knowledgeable handling of some very critical details in order to avoid tokenism or stereotyping. In other words, there are some things I don’t think I can honestly write about without coming off as forced or ignorant, and I’d be very afraid of offending any subgroup in our society, with the possible exception of book banners.

“Everything is connected,” you’ve said, “our past to our present, urinal factories and Catholic saints, war and sexual confusion,” and you’ve noted that all your books have an “overriding theme of how things connect to each other,” despite their obvious differences.  Would you be willing to connect the dots for us between you, your writing, your audience, and the change you think could happen if people were truly conscious of the myriad ways in which everything connects?

First of all, let me address the issue of me, my writing, and my audience. That’s an easy connection because where one ends and the others begin are really indistinct. When I write, I don’t imagine an audience because I write to please myself as a reader. That’s not to discount my readership, but I think there’s a vast difference between “audience” and “readership.” My readership happens to enjoy, I suppose, the same stuff my audience—which is ME—does. Can you hear me clapping for myself? Well, you’re hallucinating, then, and you might want to get that checked. Now, when people start becoming more sensitive to the interconnectedness of everything, I suppose we’ll stop doing such abhorrent things like waging wars that kill our children and destroying our environment, and so on.

“To avoid any component of the human experience in literature which examines essential adolescent reality is to shortchange readers and weaken oneself as a writer,” you’ve said, though at the same time you’ve described how devastated you were by charges that your writing was inappropriate for young people.  “I take those kinds of things really, really personally. It made me sick, as a matter of fact.”  Your unflinching examination of the adolescent experience conveys an understanding, respect, and acceptance that I think teens often find in short supply.  Could you talk about the importance of honesty when it comes to writing for (or working with) teens, why authentic representation is critical, and why “there’s nothing wrong with you” is such a powerful and important message?

I have a couple things to say about this. First of all, I’m often asked (and it’s always a question coming from boys) if I feel uncomfortable or embarrassed writing about the things that I write about. And I always tell them no, and if there’s anything they want to talk about or ask me about, let’s talk. I’m not afraid of the words. The other thing I’d like to say (because I think this may be where you’re going) is that I think you can’t possibly have an honest portrayal of male adolescence that doesn’t include the significant current of sexuality. Sorry, it can’t be done unless you’re writing about non-human, inanimate, asexual males. And I know kids who define themselves as asexual, but that designation in itself says something about sexuality. So I like to examine that compelling force in all the various directions it can pull or push my characters.

Just Can’t Get Enough

Question from James Dashner:  Something that’s really, really great about your books so far is that they feel so distinct from each other. No one will ever peg you as a certain type of storyteller. That’s not easy. Is that just natural or is there a distinct, concerted effort to make that happen? Let us in on your secret!

I think this is both natural and something of a concerted effort on my part, James. It’s natural because I am easily bored, and turned of by regurgitations of the flavor of the moment, so I force myself to write about things that are different from anything else I know or have done. And yes, it is definitely not easy.

Andrew has contributed a question for the next author in the series, Garth Nix. Watch for an interview with him coming soon!


Andrew Smith is the award-winning author of several Young Adult novels, including the critically acclaimed Winger (Starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, and Shelf Awareness—an Amazon “Best of the Year,” and a 2014 ALA Top 10 Best Fiction for Young Adults) and The Marbury Lens (a 2011 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults, and Starred reviews and Best of the Year in both Publishers Weekly and Booklist). He is a native-born Californian who spent most of his formative years traveling the world. His university studies focused on Political Science, Journalism, and Literature. He has published numerous short stories and articles. Grasshopper Jungle, a starred novel by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and Shelf Awareness, is his seventh novel. 100 Sideways Miles, his eighth, was named a 2014 finalist for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and has received Starred reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and School Library Journal. The Alex Crow (March 2015) is forthcoming.  He lives in Southern California.

You can find Andrew at his website, blog, and Facebook page, or follow him on Instagram and Twitter.

–Julie Bartel, currently reading Scott Westerfeld’s Afterworlds and re-reading A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny

Life, Love, and the Young Adult Novel

Thu, 10/09/2014 - 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 Ryan Goodlett from Kentucky.

Do you ever look back at your life and remember it in segments defined by the relationship you were in at that time? For me, it would be like “the Hayden* phase” or “the Elliott phase” and then “pre-Weston” and now currently “the Weston phase.” (Although I’m one billion times sure I’m gonna marry this one… we’re going on 10 months strong). This is my longest relationship, and I’ve never felt better. I strut through those cold high school hallways like it’s my red carpet, seeing everything through new eyes. I like to think I am very independent. I’m fine on my own or trying to fix the broken, and I won’t be with someone just because I think it’s “the thing to do.” But I didn’t realize that trying to fix the broken can be very painful; after all, broken things have sharp edges.

I met Weston in the midst of my endeavor to repair, and was already covered in cuts, waist-deep in someone else’s pain. I mean, I’ve read so many books about teenage love, where one character goes to the ends of the Earth for another, but the other character will just never be satisfied, but I could not recognize this in my own life.

Most recently, I witnessed this scenario unfold while curled up with John Green’s Paper Towns, an exhilarating mystery/romance novel which features Quentin Jacobson and Margo Roth Spiegelman of Orlando, Florida. As I tapped into Quentin’s thoughts and feelings about Margo, and learned of all the crazy things she did, I found myself feeling so very sorry for Quentin because it was so obvious that Margo Roth Spiegelman was not quite on the same planet (or at least had a very different view of the planet) as him. Such a simple yet intricate storyline, I could compare this story metaphorically to not only my own, but to the stories of many others I knew. Young love, the loss of love and the search for love are all captured beautifully in this novel, giving readers plenty of reason to both laugh and cry.

So let’s get back to my own personal red carpet… now that I’ve got this beautiful relationship going on, and even though Weston’s gone at college, I strut down that thing like I am the queen bee of Martha Layne Collins High School. I listen to my friends talk about how their boyfriends never want to hang out with them and how they just want to be treated like a princess… and I tilt my head to make sure they can’t see my tiara glittering. My ears were recently treated to a lovely little anecdote from my best friend Hunter… within the course of one week: her first boyfriend ever cheated on her and when she broke up with him, he got back together with his ex girlfriend… who was not the girl he cheated on Hunter with. And of course I bought her a Blizzard, rented The Great Gatsby, offered to TP his house, let her cry on my shoulder and sent a little thank-you note to my sweet Jesus for my sweet Weston… but this situation really got me thinking. Being the quirky, creative, deep-thinking girls that we are, Hunter and I started our own tw0-member book club Freshman year. Some of my favorite memories are of us reading books out loud together and discussing them in lengthy, sometimes revelation-provoking and life-changing conversations.

One of the first books we read was The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephan Chbosky. As I looked at poor Hunter on the night of her awful boyfriend’s hideous exposure, crumpled in my arms with her salt-stained, mascara painted face, I couldn’t help but think back to this novel. Filled with controversial topics and lavish descriptions of drugs and sexual experiences, but emphasizing relationships and loyalty, this book embodies life as not only a high schooler, but as a human being in general. A famous quote from this novel says: “we accept the love we think we deserve.” These words spoke to me in a very deep way when I first read them, and on that night they gave me the courage to remind Hunter that I loved her and that she deserved much, much better.

Both Paper Towns and The Perks of Being a Wallflower are young adult books that are very near and dear to my heart. I wanted to share with you what they mean to me personally and how they relate to my life because if there is anything I am passionate about, it is a well-written story. Life (especially life as a teenager) is rough at times, and novels offer the greatest of sanctuaries from reality. As I met and came to love the characters of Quentin, Ben, Radar and Lacey from Paper Towns and Charlie, Patrick, Sam and Mary Elizabeth from The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I became inspired by the idea that we are not alone in our experiences, but that there is a grand other world of life and love in literature waiting just behind the cover of a young adult novel.

- Ryan Goodlett is a 16 year old Junior from Shelbyville, Kentucky. She is a cheerleader and lacrosse player and she also enjoys theatre, leading worship with her guitar, and writing creatively.

*All names have been changed.

Jukebooks: Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols

Wed, 10/08/2014 - 07:00

Bailey is under a kind of gag-order regarding fiddle-playing. But she satisfies her need to play by backing up  all the fake Johnny Cashes and Dolly Partons that perform around Nashville. Until she meets Sam, who wants something more from her. Sam wants Bailey to join their band, which Bailey cannot do. She sure would like to play and see more of Sam, but Bailey is bound by a secret that keeps her from her own dreams.

With a Jennifer Echols book, you can expect steamy romance… with complications. Such is the nature of Bailey’s relationship with Sam. But they do  have a song that’s special to them; Lady Antebellum’s “Dancin’ Away With My Heart.” Here it is below, with a little backstory from the band members.

-Diane Colson, who is currently reading The Aftermath by Jen Alexander

Diversify Your YA Contemporary Reads: A Flowchart

Wed, 10/08/2014 - 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 Summer Khaleq from California.

Most of us can attest to the fact that the ever-growing Young Adult genre is one of the most boundless and honest genres in modern-day literature. In terms of innovation, YA wins the gold.

Yet despite the ever-expanding horizons of YA, diversity in general seems to be a taboo topic. There aren’t nearly as many books featuring POC, LGBTQ, and/or disabled characters as there should be, with authors taking the safe route and opting for white heterosexual leads.

I’m certainly not the first to notice this, though. Campaigns supporting and advocating for diversity have been popping up all over the internet (such as the popular #WeNeedDiverseBooks Campaign), and if you aren’t familiar with any then you’ve either been a) living under a rock or b) hiding under a rock while reading a book. (Really, isn’t it sad the amount of campaigning that must be done in order to implement something that should be expected in this day in age?)

For those who are new to the movement, I’ve created a nifty little flowchart, since it can be cumbersome to look for potential diverse reads (insert expression of disappointment and irritation here). Even for those who have been following the campaigns for years, there are quite a few lesser-known books here that you should definitely give a try.

The flowchart includes diverse books in YA contemporary fiction. There is a mix of everything from older releases to new releases and books that include people of color, LGBTQ characters, disabled characters, or a mixture of those. Loads of chocolate goes to the authors who were gutsy enough to rebel instead of conform to the accepted standards. Fight the powers! Fight for change! Make a difference! (That is me attempting to be revolutionary.)

Click on the flowchart for a larger version with links to Goodreads.

- Summer Khaleq is a 16-year-old girl who is secretly a wizard and a pun-wielding warrior but realizes too late that she has revealed her secret. She ironically prefers the wintertime because even her namesake becomes irritable after a while. When not devouring books she likes writing, surfing (the internet), and being a history nerd. She blogs at MissFictional’s World of YA Books.

Awesome Australian Authors

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 07:00

Thinking about some the most memorable YA books I’ve read over the years, I notice there is a heavy Oz slant.  To name a few of the stand-out titles:

Finnikin of the Rock – Melina Marchetta

The first in a series dubbed the Lumatere chronicles, this fantasy powerhouse can stand alone.  We begin with young Finnikin who hales from Lumatere, a once-great kingdom which been overtaken by usurpers and cursed for the past decade making it impossible to enter or leave.  Exiled Finnikin explores bordering kingdoms in search of a way to break the curse- and he finds Evanjalin, a mysterious young woman with the unique ability to “walk the dreams” of others and she hints that Lumatere’s true heir is alive after all.

It was a challenge for me to narrow down one favorite by  Marchetta.  I loved 2009 Printz Award Winner Jellicoe Road, Froi of the Exiles (I special ordered a copy from Australia after finishing Finnikin because I couldn’t wait for the US version to be published), Quintana of Charyn, Saving Francesca (Best Book for Young Adults 2005) , and basically everything she has ever written.

I am the Messenger- Markus Zusak (Best Book for Young Adults 2006, Printz Honor 2006)

19 year old taxi driver Ed has been coasting through life with no real sense of purpose– until the day he stops a bank robber and begins to receive mysterious messages in the mail sent on playing cards.  This sets Ed off in a series of interconnecting stories which eventually lead him to self-realization.  Zusak’s tale is adventurous, enjoyable, sometimes comical, and ultimately unforgettable.

Zusak (2014 Edwards Award Winner) is best known for The Book Thief (Best Book for Young Adults 2007, Printz Honor 2007) which was originally published in Australia as an adult title.  The Wolfe Brothers Trilogy is wonderful as well.

Jasper Jones – Craig Silvey (Printz Honor 2012)

Small town outcast Jasper Jones appeals to Charlie for help late one night; a local girl has been found dead and Jasper needs Charlie to help him move her body.  The suffocating setting of a stiflingly small Australian town in the heat of summer, and the characterization inspired by American classic “To Kill a Mockingbird” make this one uniquely poignant.

Silvey’s first book, Rhubarb is an adult fiction title.  On my to-do read!

The Midnight Dress- Karen Foxlee

Rose and her father are drifters; making their way through the Australian countryside, stopping where he can get work, and staying until he wears out his welcome (usually by drinking too much).   Typically a loner, in their latest stop (the small coastal town of Leonora) Rose befriends the ebullient Pearl.   Encouraged by her new friend Rose has a special dress made for the annual Harvest Parade, which should have been a happy one but instead ends with death.  Each chapter starts at the end… and this literary mystery will grab on and not let go until the end.

Foxlee’s The Anatomy of Wings is a great read as well!

As Karyn Silverman observes on School Library Journal’s Printz speculation blog, “Someday my Printz will Come” in a discussion of this year’s title Zac & Mia by Australian writer A.J. Betts (

There’s something about Australia that always appeals (it’s an upstart young country like us, but also not, and as a result is familiar enough but still new and a little exciting. This is why Australians win Printz recognition so often).

-Karyn Silverman

If you need further evidence, here is a looooooong list of some more awesome Aussie YA writers:

Randa Abdel-Fattah  (

Alexandra Adornetto

Em Bailey

Maria Boyd

Alyssa Brugman (

Rebecca Burton

Laura Buzo

Emma Cameron  (

Isobelle Carmody  (

Lucy Christopher  (

Margaret Clark

Bill Condon  (

Cath Crowley (

Marianne de Pierres (

Alison Goodman  (

Sonya Hartnett  (

Steven Herrick (

Simmone Howell (

Margo Lanagan (

Justine Larabalastier (

Brigid Lowry (She is a New Zealander)

Doug MacLeod (

Jaclyn Moriarty  (

Kirsten Murphy

Garth Nix (

Tim Pegler (

Penni Russon

Karen Tayleur (

Lisa Shanahan

Jessica Shirvington

Tim Sinclair

G.J. Walker-Smith

Scott Westerfeld (He is American but lives in Australia)

Lili Wilkinson

Suzy Zail

The proof is in the pudding, so read Aussie YA!

-Tara Kehoe

How You Can Make Change Good: Digging Through the Book Box

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 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 Sharlena Luyen, age 17.


A book about love: how cliche. Pre-teen Sharlena didn’t think so. Love was a wonder full of lust, magic, and mystery. Hot, steamy scenes of two people caring for one another: such an overly fantasized situation for the world. At age 12, I was stuck on how Becca Fitzpatrick played me for a fool, for she had me believing that the badass, feisty Patch was out to save Nora Grey’s life, for he was falling in love, “inevitably.” Drawn in closer as the pattern of Patch neglecting Nora was becoming increasingly more common in Hush, Hush, I wanted someone to care for me like they did for each other—no matter what happened, he would always hover over her, ever-so-slightly, to make sure nothing bad would happen to her. In fact, it happened so often that she eventually depended on him to save her life. How great would that be? I’m sure all of our parents could go to bed safe and sound at night, knowing that we would always be alright in the morning. With protection 100% of the time, I think I would live my life a little more on the edge…which is exactly what Nora did.

Not only did she start becoming more dangerous, but she found a new disregard for rules. Perfectly fit, eh? He protects her, she cares about life less. She’s the ying to his yang. And then you guess it, she’s kidnapped. (In a dark shed in the middle of the night at a broken-down amusement park, I might add.)

Once this novel ended, I knew I was in for some trouble.

You know how it is, reading an unfinished series is like setting yourself up for an emotional train wreck: and what comes next? Oh God, the cliffhangers. I was closing in on the third novel, and the fourth was expected a year later: October 5, 2011. Now there I was, just wading in the yellow zone in 2010. Somewhere between 2010 and 2012, a chic white convertible of opportunity and adventure passed by, and I jumped in, heart first. Over the years, I worked with several youth, initiating a community service project with a nationwide nonprofit. And I had a change of heart and learned to be a softer person, no longer having a need or desire for sticky and steamy; my love revolved around the youth of my community, now. Bigger things called and I grew up– from writing business emails with “standard, professional, proper formatting,” to refusing to give up at 4am with tons of things to do. I grew up–over 3 years. (I don’t think I really grew up, but that’s what I’m going with, for now.)

As I dusted the old thoughts of Patch off of Hush, Hush, I read about the young love of Nora and Patch once more, four out of four novels at this point.

This time around, I gawked at Nora’s incompetence and Patch’s lack of aggression for his love. Yes, his real, raw love. His silly games are irrelevant. I couldn’t stand how Nora simply let herself be trapped by Patch’s game. It was now evident that she wanted him to save her; to me, she purposely played the role of a maiden in need of help. It was pitiful to read about her weakness and inability to protect herself.

In high school, we fail to dwell on the necessary attributes of a powerful, intelligent woman. The modern woman is a fighter for woman’s rights — not only do teachers adore the strength of Bronte’s Jane Eyre, but they also mock the indecisive superficial Daisy in Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby. In today’s world, at my age of 17, it is not difficult to tolerate an Incompetent girl like Nora. It just makes me wonder when novels will instill a woman worth admiring. My role models revolve around Meg from Hercules; my skill in life is to have the ability to recite “I won’t say I’m in love,” at any time of day. And let me tell you, I’ve already won the prize for rotten judgment. And Mulan can definitely “Make a Man Out of [Me].” My question to you is, will you remain a pawn in this conformist society and condemn yourself to this predetermined box of capabilities, or will you grow wings with razors as feathers, daring everyone and anyone to challenge your ability?

With time as the only factor that remains constant on this earth, it is a wonder how my ideas and perception changed with 3 mere years. Could it be that my priorities changed? My personality? What made me change the way I look at this simplistic yet complex love story?

- Sharlena Luyen: A flawed perfectionist, Sharlena aims to be the best she can be. A genuine personality. A killer work ethic. A strong, mighty heart of passion. This writer looks forward to talking with you soon!

The Effect of YA on My Generation

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 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 Brunn from Georgia.

photo by flickr user chillmimi

Teenage years. Arguably the most pivotal time in a person’s life. Full of confusion, expectations, excitement, love, friendship, anger, sadness, happiness, success, discipline, adventure, craziness, and wonder.

A time of so many emotions and experiences. A time of vulnerability.

A time in which any wisdom and understanding on the purpose of life and its trials is welcomed with open arms.

Young-adult (YA) literature, especially in recent years, has been a shelter for its readers, especially those at a growing adolescent age. It has become a source of wisdom and a source of light, giving teenage (as well as adult) readers advice on how to handle the confusing yet beautiful moments that life throws at you. Call it cliche, but it’s true.

Life is horribly difficult and blissfully wonderful at the same time. YA literature allows its readers to experience both sides and helps them cope with the good and bad while also giving them a sense of comfort, showing them that they are not alone. It serves as a teacher; a mentor that introduces morals and advice disguised by plots and characters.

And it teaches willing students. Around the globe, YA has been on the rise. Need proof? You need only go to the nearest bookstore to find that many YA books have graced the front shelves alongside the bestsellers. Oh wait… that’s because they are some of the best sellers.

But why?

Why would a story about a teenage girl in a car accident be among the most famous books of the moment? Why would a tale of a boy in the center of a maze be given honors and awards from around the globe? Why would someone really care about a novel that talks about a few friends’ boarding school experience together?

It’s actually quite simple. If I Stay by Gayle Forman, The Maze Runner by James Dashner, and Looking for Alaska by John Green all share something in common, along with millions of other YA books. Actually, they share many things, despite their differences in plots.

They all have a moral. They all offer advice. They all are relevant to everyday struggles.

They all leave an impact on their readers. Readers who read the story to be more than just words on a page or an assignment given to them by a literature class at school.

YA literature betters her readers by giving them wisdom and enlightenment about life as the stories progress, and even after they end.

It changes today’s society.

It changes today’s community.

YA literature changes my generation.

YA teaches its readers to value relationships and precious moments. If I Stay does exactly that. By exposing readers to tragedy, the book makes readers think further about the characters in the book and how they must deal with the struggle at hand; it provides answers and inspiration about how to make the most of every moment in the face of both happiness and heartbreak.

Not only does it create a respect for the characters in the book, but it also deepens one’s love and appreciation for their own family members. This is indeed an effect of YA literature- a deepened love and appreciation for the relationships around the reader outside of the book, away from the plots and characters in the pages read. It is very important that this be instilled in the minds of people, teenagers especially, because it is a life lesson that, unless understood before hand, may only expose itself until it’s too late.

YA also encourages its readers to think and use their minds.

Not just to develop knowledge from understanding more vocabulary and context which comes from reading any book, but it also forces its readers to problem solve and come up with ways to solve tasks at hand. In The Maze Runner, the protagonist, Thomas, must escape from the center of a maze. He has to work day and night, in dangerous conditions, in order to make it out. He has to think.


And it tells readers to break barriers, which is an incredibly strong message in this day and age. Though society often likes to confine people from presenting their ideas and visions, YA thinks differently. Thomas must find a way to escape the maze, regardless of the barricades in front of him- the physical struggle to get out, his peers that tell him he won’t be able to do it, and the government that is literally holding him back.

YA allows its readers to understand that it is necessary to stand up and break free of the barriers holding its generation, along with others, back.

One of the areas in which my generation needs to improve is that of self love. In the modern world, men and women are told that they aren’t good enough for various reasons- maybe because of height, gender, weight, skin color, nationality, religious beliefs, and so on.

Looking for Alaska is a great example of a story about a beautiful, powerful girl who throws everything away because she does not love herself. John Green makes sure to present this as a negative personality trait. (SPOILER ALERT) Alaska’s self hate ends up being her destruction, which is crucial for readers to understand. YA has an effect on my generation in the sense that it makes the reader value him/herself more. That alone could greatly improve the current young adult generation- by increasing one’s individual value, a value of a community is increased.

In short, there are endless ways in which YA improves its people, its readers, its generation. It is impossible to talk about all in such a short period of time. But YA has an effect; it is evident in the everyday lives of the generation that listens to its stories.

Abby Brunn lives in south Georgia (in the heat!). When she isn’t writing or reading, she is spending time with her family, taking pictures, or playing tennis or various sports.

Audiobooks: Fact and Fiction

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 07:00

photo by flickr user dano

I wish I could be reading constantly.  I really don’t think I’m the only one that feels this way. Audiobooks have helped me out with this a lot. Three years ago, I associated audiobooks with being forced to listen to a boring biography of Walt Disney on a road trip that took about 200 hours, not to mention about 200 cassette tapes. But, when I started grad school I drove forty-five minutes one way for school and thirty-five minutes the other way for work, and it was putting a serious dent in my reading time. When I rediscovered audiobooks, my number of books read per year easily doubled and I was hooked. Now I will talk about audiobooks with anyone who will listen (pun intended).  If audiobooks strike fear in your heart too, keep reading, and you might want to give them another chance.

  1. Fiction: Audiobooks are outdated and expensive.
    Fact: Audiobooks are up and coming and affordable (or free!)

    While it is true that purchasing audiobooks on CD can still set you back around fifty dollars, digital audiobook downloads usually cost about the same as a digital music CD download.  And of course, most libraries circulate audiobooks on CD and for downloading straight to your smartphone for free.

  2. Fiction: You do not have time for audiobooks.
    Fact: You wouldn’t believe the time you have for audiobooks!

    Very rarely do I sit down on my couch, crank up the audiobook, and stare into space awkwardly (maybe if I’m really sleepy). Usually I listen to my audiobook when I’m driving, cleaning, cooking, knitting, crafting, standing in line, etc. etc.  If you are a really avid reader, I think it’s safe to say that you have been cleaning your bathroom and wishing you could be reading instead.  Or maybe you love crafting but find that your crafting hobby is seriously cutting into your reading time. Perhaps your local librarian has given you a talking-to about not taking new hardbacks into the bubble bath with you. Just download the book on your phone, and set it atop the toilet!

  3. Fiction: Audiobooks are ONLY books.
    Fact: Audiobooks have special features!

    Kind of like DVDs, some audiobooks come with extras that you can’t find in the print book. For example, at the end of the audio version of Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty, the author gives an interview about the process of writing her other novel, Beauty Queens. Maggie Stiefvater composes and performs music to pair with her audiobooks.  Sometimes a song might feature prominently in book.  For example, in Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl’s Beautiful Creatures, a song called “Sixteen Moons” mysteriously appears on the main character’s iPod. Audiobook listeners hear the song instead of just reading it. Actually hearing the haunting music makes the story all the more intriguing.

  4. Fiction: Audiobooks will come between you and the characters.
    Fact: A good narrator will bring you closer to the characters.

    Sometimes, as readers, we feel possessive of the way we imagine characters.  While it is true that a bad audio narrator may keep you from liking a character, a good audio narrator can show you their essence.  Good narrators who have made a real effort to understand their character, to consider their past and their current circumstances, and, most importantly to empathize with their joys and sorrows can make a character come to life.  This can make you feel as if the character is speaking directly to you as a confidante, as if you are important enough to hear all their secrets.  If you don’t believe me listen to Rebecca Lowman and Sunil Malhotra read the title roles in Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park (2014 Odyssey Honor).

  5. Fiction: Audiobooks are not “real reading.”
    Fact: “Real reading” lies in the eyes and ears of the reader.

    It is 2014. Readers are exceedingly fortunate to have access to various formats. Just as there are different learning styles, there are also different reading styles.  Those that respect the right to read should also respect the right to read what and how the reader chooses.

With that in mind, go forth and listen! Here are some recommendations to get you started:

  • If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan, read by Negin Farsad (2014 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults)
  • Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan, read by MacLeod Andrews and Nick Podhel (2011 Odyssey Honor)
  • The Host by Stephenie Meyer, read by Kate Reading
  • The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, read by Will Patton
  • Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer, read by Jorjeana Marie

-Emily Childress-Campbell, currently listening to Wildlife by Fiona Wood

The Monday Poll: Football Books for Football Season

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 00:03

photo by flickr user familymwr

Good morning, Hub readers!

Last week, in the spirit of entering the Halloween season, we asked which evil leader in YA lit you most love to hate. Professor Umbridge from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books won by a landslide, with 54% of the vote, followed by President Snow from The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, with 23%. You can see detailed results for all of our previous polls in the Polls Archive. Thanks to all of you who voted!

This week, we’re turning our attention to another aspect of Fall: football season! A couple weeks ago, Hub blogger Jennifer Rummel highlighted some terrific football books, so now that we’re further into the season, we want to know about your personal favorite YA book featuring football. 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.



Tweets of the Week: October 3rd

Fri, 10/03/2014 - 07:00

Even if you’re a Twitter junkie, you’re bound to have missed some of these great tweets!


Just for Fun



-Molly Wetta, currently reading The Darkest Path of the Forest by Holly Black

Find a New Favorite Female Comic Artist or Graphic Novelist

Fri, 10/03/2014 - 07:00

As a big fan of graphic novels and comics, I read across many genres from superhero comics to nonfiction to humor and beyond. While I love the work of many different authors, today I want to highlight some of the best work from female artists who create comics and graphic novels. The list below includes some books I have read and some I can’t wait to read, but they are all written or drawn (or both!) by women who are among the best in the field.

Japan Ai by Aimee Major Steinberger (2009 Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens, 2009 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, 2009 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers - This book, drawn in Manga style, chronicles Aimee’s trip to Japan, where she immerses herself in Japan’s particular cuteness. More of a journal than a traditional comic, this is fun book that will leave you dreaming of a trip to Japan.

An Age of License by Lucy Knisley – One of my most anticipated books of the season, this is Knisley’s memoir of her recent European book tour. Though this book is sure to be great, I could just as easily have put any of Knisley’s other books, such as French Milk, Relish, or the upcoming Displacement, on the list. I recommend reading them all!

Tomboy by Liz Prince – This new book from Liz Prince, her first classified as YA, tells the story of her childhood as a tomboy who was teased, bullied, and pressured by those around her because she wasn’t traditionally girly. A great read for those who were tomboys and those who simply love great graphic novel memoirs.

How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less by Sarah Glidden – When offered a chance to take an all-expense-paid “birthright” trip to Israel, Glidden jumped at the chance to learn more about this part of the world. In this memoir, she talks honestly about her conflicted feelings about the region and the way that she changed over the course of the trip.

Persepolis Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 by Marjane Satrapi (Best Books for Young Adults 2004 & 2005, 2004 Alex Award, 2007 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults) - Told in two volumes, this book offers a personal insight into Iran during the Islamic Revolution from the point of view of Satrapi, who grew up there. It is a powerful story of how rapid change came to the country and impacted the lives of everyone who lived there.

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki – Following two young friends, Rosie and Windy, while they are at the beach with their families for the summer, this book is a coming-of-age story as well as a family drama. It tackles the topics of growing apart from friends and dealing with parental conflict. All kinds of readers are sure to relate to the themes Tamaki touches on here.

Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge (2012 Great Graphic Novels for Teens) - When Paige Turner’s family moves to New York, she begins keeping a sketchbook to track her transition and to help her to find herself in the new city. This conceit allows Gulledge to tell an entertaining story of friendships in high school and also reflect on growing up as an artist. It also allows her to take more risks with the artwork in the book, including drawings that go beyond the average graphic novel.

Jane, the Fox and Me by Fanny Britt with illustrations by Isabelle Arsenault – Dealing with bullying, depression, friendship, and the importance of a life of the imagination, this book is not exactly a traditional graphic novel, being presented more as a picture book in some ways. It follows Hélène as she deals with her status as an inexplicable outcast at her school where her former friends have suddenly turned against her. It is a beautiful and ultimately hopeful book about difficult issues.

Zombies Calling by Faith Erin Hicks – Hicks is another example of an author so prolific that I could have included several different books from her, but this one is a fun story of a zombie attack on a college campus and is perfect for fans of zombies. Once you’ve finished this one, be sure to move on to one of Hicks’ other books, such as The Adventures of Superhero Girl, which won a 2014 Eisner Award. Also, be sure to keep an eye out for her upcoming collaboration with Rainbow Rowell. I know I can’t wait for it!

Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis with illustrations by Brooke Allen – Following five friends as they spend the summer at scout camp and fight monsters along the way, this book includes mystery, yetis, and all the fun you remember from your time at summer camp! This series is sure to put a smile on anyone’s face.

Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol – Anya is on the lookout for a best friend, so when she stumbles upon a ghost down a well, she doesn’t really question their friendship. But, maybe she should have. This book is the perfect combination of fun, creepiness, and suspense, so it makes sense that it won so many awards, including an Eisner Award.

Foiled by Jane Yolen with illustrations by Mike Cavallaro (2011 Great Graphic Novels for Teens) - Aliera Carstairs is a champion fencer, but she isn’t quite that confident at high school. However, when her mom buys her a new fencing foil, all her priorities may change as she gets drawn into a fantastical world which somehow involves the new boy from her biology class. Once you have torn through this fun and exciting fantasy, be sure to check out the sequel, Curses! Foiled Again.

Science Fiction
A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle and illustrated and adapted as a graphic novel by Hope Larson – This new adaptation of L’Engle’s classic science fiction novel will bring the book alive for a new audience with Hope Larson’s beautiful illustrations. This adaptation will keep fans of the original book engaged and entertained, but is also completely accessible to those who have never read a Wrinkle In Time.

Robot Dreams by Sara Varon (2008 Great Graphic Novels for Teens) - This bittersweet tale of the friendship between a robot and a dog is told almost entirely without words. Despite this approach, Varon successfully conveys not only the point of her story but more importantly the emotions. A great story of the importance of loyalty and regrets that can result from friendship.

Brain Camp by Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan with illustrations by Faith Erin Hicks (2011 Great Graphic Novels for Teens) - When Jenna and Lucas are asked to attend an invitation-only summer camp, it seems a little bit too good to be true. As they adjust to life at the camp, they realize that this might be because there is something sinister going on at this seemingly idyllic camp. This one is perfect for fans of both science fiction and horror.

Birds of Prey, Vol. 1: Of Like Minds by Gail Simone with illustrations by Ed Benes – With her long and illustrious career that includes stories for Red Sonja, Batgirl, Tomb Raider, Secret Six, and Wonder Woman (to name just a few), it was hard to choose which of Simone’s works to include, but since I have a soft spot for Oracle, I went with one of her Birds of Prey books, which follows them as they battle Savant. A great book that highlights some great female superheroes.

Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson with illustrations by Adrian Alphona – When Kamala Khan took over as Ms. Marvel in this story written by Wilson, she became the first Muslim character to headline a Marvel book. But, apart from this, the new Ms. Marvel is also an exciting and entertaining read that fans of superheroes will love.

Captain Marvel, Vol. 1: Pursuit of Flight by Kelly Sue DeConnick with illustrations by Emma Rios, Dexter Soy, and Ed McGuinness – When Carol Danvers, the former Ms. Marvel, assumed the title of Captain Marvel, DeConnick was the one to illustrate the story. This book, which sees Captain Marvel traveling back in time to World War II, is a great introduction to the character even if you have never heard of Carol Danvers before.

This list is far from exhaustive and I can’t wait to find new books to read, so let me know of your favorites in the comments below!

- Carli Spina, currently reading In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang