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Updated: 17 hours 40 min ago

Get Inspired: Journaling in YA Literature

Wed, 07/30/2014 - 07:00

I’ve kept a journal on and off for years.  Well, mostly off– but I would like to write more regularly.  I believe that the first key to journaling is to set aside a certain time each day to write and stick to it.  Sometimes that time is hard to find when you are working and/or in school full time.  But now that it’s summer, if you’re someone who has a couple months off and a little extra time, this may be the perfect time for you to start a journal.  And please tell me if you do, because that will inspire me to spend more time on mine!

With inspiration in mind, I wanted to recommend a few current and classic YA novels which are either written as journals or include journal entries.


Little Fish: A Memoir from a Different Kind of Year by Ramsey Beyer (2014  Outstanding Books for the College Bound List, Arts and Humanities)

Just before and during her first year at undergraduate art school, Ramsey Beyer kept a record of her experiences, including a Livejournal blog and a series of zines which included her own lists and illustrations.

Ten years later she published Little Fish, a compulsively readable memoir that pulls together these materials, including many of her original journal entries, and combines them with reflections from her older self.  As Beyer writes in this memoir, it is her account of how she left the farming town of Paw Paw, Michigan and “…made the leap, packed up my life, and moved to Baltimore – mixed in with the awkward college freshman experience.”


Happyface by Stephen Emond

In Stephen Emond’s Happyface, a high school sophomore describes his experiences when he transfers to a new school due to his alcoholic parents’ divorce and a trauma which he reveals when he is able to do so.

Through his journal entries, sketches, email, IMs and scrapbook materials, this student details how he transforms himself from an artistic loner, creating a more happy-go-lucky public persona nicknamed Happyface.  However, he must eventually integrate his new and actual selves.


The Isobel Journal: Just a Northern Girl from Where Nothing Really Happens by Isobel Harrop

As a 16-year-old high school student in England, Isobel Harrop’s online tweets and sketches caught the attention of publisher Hot Keys Books.  Two years later, Harrop has gathered pages from her actual diary, drawings, and photographs into a scrapbook format, which is due to be published in a couple days, on August 1, 2014.

The Isobel Journal details the author’s desire to create artistically along with the challenge of fitting in with the arty crowd at school, and also discusses friendships, boys and her feelings about her crush.  Harrop, now 18 and enrolled in university, will be one to watch.


Monster by Walter Dean Myers (2000 Printz Award, 2006 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, 1998-1999 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers)

Before writing Monster, the late Walter Dean Myers spent months interviewing people serving time in prison for various crimes.  Monster — winner of the 2000 Printz Award for that year’s best young adult work of fiction and one of my all-time favorites — is the powerful story of 16-year-old Steve Harmon, who is in the Manhattan Detention Center and on trial as an accused accomplice to murder.  It is unclear whether Steve was a willing participant in the robbery which became a homicide or has been framed. To cope with this experience and because he hopes to make films one day, Steve records his life in detention and in the courtroom in the format of a screenplay, which is interspersed with journal entries which reveal his fears and emotions.


I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

A YA classic, I Capture the Castle was first published in 1948 and was made into a film in 2003.  Still very relevant to present-day readers, it is narrated by 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain as a journal of her life in the 1930s, when she is living with her slightly impoverished family in a not very well-maintained castle in the English countryside.  Cassandra writes, “I am writing this journal…partly to teach myself how to write a novel….It ought to be good for my style to dash along without much thought, as up to now my stories have been very stiff and self-conscious.” Cassandra writes about daily life, love and her personal growth.


The above list is just a sampling of the many YA novels written in journal or diary format.   But hopefully the range of structures of the above journal-novels will remind you of the freedom that you have — a journal can be anything that you want it to be.  Just go for it!  And if you already are a journal writer, please let us know what your experience has been like!

- Anna Dalin, currently listening to Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando




What are you reading over Vacation?

Tue, 07/29/2014 - 07:00

Summer is here! It’s been here for a while but there is a something about July that seems to be the prototypical summer month: school is neither just getting out or just about to begin; it’s hot but you aren’t sick of it yet like you are at the end of August; and even the word “July” tends to lend itself to being drawn out in a long, slow, lazy way.

With summer at its height, lots of people are on vacation and there is national focus on reading. Almost every library has a summer reading program and many schools require students to read over the summer. Even people who don’t normally read feel pressure to pick out a good “beach read” for their summer vacations.

So I wanted to know what some of my other Hub bloggers were reading for the summer. Are they reading YA or taking a break and sneaking in – gasp! – an adult book? And are they reading from any interesting locales? Here are pictures that feature your Hub bloggers reading– or the stacks of books they plan on reading this summer.

I’m reading Rebel Belle  by Rachel Hawkins in my little town on Boston’s North Shore: no vacation for me until the summer is over! Luckily for me I live a short, five-minute walk from the beach. There is nothing like the cold New England sea to make you want to read some Southern Gothic YA fiction!

Jennifer Rummel reads The Diva Wraps it Up by Krista Davis in her local park:

Tara Kehoe reads Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver on the beach in St. Maarten!

 Kris Hickey has a stack to take to Roanoke Island:

Carly Pansulla is taking a break from YA and planning hikes:

Jessica Lind is using the promise of Rainbow Rowell’s new book for adults to get her through her to-do list:

Allison Tran took her copy of The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson to the Disneyland Resort:

Libby Gorman has a good stack for this summer including another Rainbow Rowell book, with 2014 Printz honor title, Eleanor & Park:

Katie Shanahan Yu (and friends) have a lot of reading to do! I spy some Nonfiction Award winners in Steve Sheinkin’s Bomb and Neal Bascomb’s The Nazi Hunters

What about you? Are you reading anything great this summer and/or visiting anyplace amazing? Leave your pics in the comments!

-Anna Tschetter, currently reading Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

What Would They Read?: Parks and Recreation Part 2

Mon, 07/28/2014 - 07:00

The time has come to recommend more books to our friends in Pawnee.  I feel like I might have left the more difficult characters for this entry.  Last month, I chose books for Leslie, Ben, April, and Andy.  So let’s get started and see what we have this time around.

Tom Haverford – It is not difficult to select books for Tom. Basically, all you have to do is tell him that a celebrity endorsed the book and he would be all over it.  However, I do think that is a bit like cheating.  There has to be a book that fits Tom’s personality and passion for the jet-setter life.  There is a book– and it’s called So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld (a 2005 Best Books for Young Adults selection).  Before the name Westerfeld became synonymous with the Uglies series, he wrote So Yesterday.  In this standalone novel, Hunter has the responsibility to find the Innovators, people who start trends, and present them to the retail market.  Tom, with his big ideas like Entertainment 720 and Rent-a-Swag, will love the adventure Hunter embarks on in a city full of unknown pockets of cool.  Unfortunately Pawnee is not a hub of trendsetting activity.  Tom can live vicariously through Hunter’s story.  Another title that Tom may enjoy is Feed by M.T. Anderson.  In Feed, it is commonplace for everyone to have a feed similar to the Internet directly inputted into your brain.  The program learns your likes and dislikes and sends you advertisements customized to you.  Tom would love having all of that knowledge at his fingertips. 

Ron Swanson – Ron likes the outdoors and eating meat.  He also has his secret identity as Duke Silver, saxophone extraordinaire.  I don’t know if Ron would even read books after his awful marriage to the librarian, Tammy, but we will give it a shot.  When I think of Ron’s love of hunting and survival with limited supplies, two authors come to mind; Gary Paulsen and Will Hobbs.  2007 Edwards Award winner Paulsen’s most well-known  series starts with Hatchet, the story of a young boy who must survive alone in the woods after his plane crashes.  Hatchet is a more popular choice amongst younger middle school readers.  Will Hobbs has a variety of wilderness survival stories.  For Ron, I would give him Never Say Die, the story of two brothers who, after their raft overturns on a river, get trapped with very little supplies in the Yukon Territory where a frightening half-polar bear, half-grizzly bear has been spotted.  While I don’t have a specific title in mind, I would also like to hear Ron’s opinions on different dystopian/post-apocalyptic books.  Many of those books have no technology and the characters must rely on their own abilities to survive.  That definitely sounds like a world Ron would want to live in.

Ann Perkins – Ann is pretty much the normal person in a world of huge personalities and bizarre character quirks.  Ann has had a variety of boyfriends including Andy, Tom, and Chris.  Romance is not the most important thing in her life, but she is interested in finding someone to call boyfriend.  I would bet that Ann would like to read books about comical romances, similar to her own dating past.  Sometimes it’s better to feel like others have been through weird situations as well.  I would give Ann The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart.  Lockhart is always good for a laugh when it comes to the romance department.  The first in a series, The Boyfriend List focuses on the life of Ruby Oliver, a teen who recently broke up with her boyfriend and is now seeing a shrink due to her panic attacks.  In addition to Lockhart’s book, I would also recommend Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (a 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults selection) to Ann.  Not only is there the coincidence of the main character’s name and the author’s last name, I believe this title would be enjoyable for Ann because it lightly discusses the transition between what someone thinks they want and what they actually need in a relationship.  In Anna and the French Kiss, Anna leaves her home in Atlanta to go to school in Paris.  Anna is leaving behind a relationship, but then soon realizes what can happen if cuts the ties at home and looks at what is in front of her in Paris.

Chris Trager – Chris is by far one of the most positive people, in real life and on TV.  The first book I think of when I think about Chris is a book by Matthew Quick.  Quick is mostly known for his book, Silver Linings Playbook.  That is not,  however, the book I would give to Chris.  I would give him Quick’s first teen novel, Sorta Like a Rock Star, a 2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults selection.  Amber Appleton is a teenage girl version of Chris Trager.  Even in the face of adversity, she stays upbeat.  There is an incident in Amber’s life that manages to stop Amber’s unending positivity, just like the incident in Chris’ life that leads him to therapy.  These are two fictional characters with whom I would absolutely love to go to coffee or see a movie.  It would be an unending amount of optimism.  I would also like to appeal to Chris’ love of fitness.  The second title that I would recommend to Chris is another 2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults pick, Fat Cat by Robin Brande.  In this book, Catherine changes her lifestyle to reflect the eating habits and daily routines of the hominims, the earliest species of man.  Catherine changes to a paleo diet and walks as a means of transportation.  I can see Chris using Brande’s book as a guidebook for changes in his own life.

That’s it for the Parks and Recreation crew.  If you have any ideas for future entries, let me know.  Next month, I plan to go back a few decades and choose a few titles for Eric Forman and his friends.

-Brandi Smits, currently Reading: Chasing Shadows by Swati Avasthi

The Monday Poll: The YA Lit Plot Twist That Blew Your Mind

Sun, 07/27/2014 - 23:45

photo by Leon Wilson on flickr

Good morning, Hub readers!

Last week, we wanted to know about your favorite assigned summer reading from high school. 49% of the votes went to Harper Lee’s classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, followed by The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, which captured 17% of the vote. You can see detailed results for all of our previous polls in the Polls Archive. Thanks to all of you who voted!

This week, we want to know which YA book has your favorite plot twist in YA lit. Which one did you not see coming? Which one blew your mind? Vote in the poll below, and please add your choice in the comments if we missed it– but remember, no spoilers, please! Not everyone may have read these books, so please refrain from discussing the details of the plot twists. Now… vote away!

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

Wrapping Up the 2014 Hub Reading Challenge

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 10:58

The 2014 Hub Challenge is over and the finishers have been contacted, so I’m here to announce the winner and officially wrap things up!

I’m pleased to announce our randomly selected grand prize winner, Emily L., who will receive a YALSA tote bag full of books. She finished the challenge by reading 25 books, and even managed to squeeze in a few more titles on top of that. Congratulations, Emily!

This year, we had over 300 participants in the Reading Challenge, and 81 finishers! That is truly impressive– kudos to all of you who took the challenge, and extra kudos to our finishers!

A few facts about our 81 fabulous finishers:

  • 32 of them were first-time participants.
  • There were 71 librarians, 5 teachers, 4 YA lit fans, and 1 teen.
  • The most widely-read book was the Morris Award winning title, Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn, with 56 out of 81 finishers having read it.
  • 22 people heard about the challenge right here on The Hub, 15 heard via listservs, 11 heard about it from YALSA, and one person heard about it… accidentally?! (We’d love the story on that!)

Thanks again to everyone who participated and made this year’s challenge so much fun! We hope you’ll join us for the Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge in the Fall and again next year for the 2015 Hub Reading Challenge!

-Allison Tran, currently listening to Scowler, written by Daniel Kraus & narrated by Kirby Heyborne

Summer Lovin’ : Recent YA Books To Satisfy Your Inner Romantic

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 07:00

Image: “Untitled” by talitafreak, used under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

For many, summer will always be associated with vacation–and vacation reading habits.  And just as we each have an ideal vacation, so too do we have personal definitions of vacation reading. As a generally omnivorous reader, I’ll fill my suitcase and e-reader with anything from favorite mystery series to thrilling high fantasy novels.

However, even I must admit that there is something about love stories that makes them particularly well suited for vacation reading.  It might be inherent optimism in love stories–even those lacking a tidy, happy ending.  They revolve around the belief that human connection is meaningful, fragile, and precious; what could be a more encouraging? Happily, the last few months have produced several rich and varied titles perfect for readers seeking a good love story to dive into this summer.

Everything Leads To You – Nina LaCour

When her older brother offers her his apartment for the summer, ambitious young set designer Emi can hardly believe her luck; it’s the perfect place for Emi & her best friend Charlotte to spend their final pre-college summer together.  But Toby hands over the keys with one condition: they must do something epic in their temporary home.  Then Emi discovers a mysterious letter at an estate sale and the resulting scavenger hunt leads her to Ava.  Ava is different from anyone Emi has ever met and their immediate connection is undeniable and electric.  But life-long romantic Emi hasn’t had the best luck in love and Ava has a painful history of her own. Can Emi & Ava find the way to their own Hollywood happy ending? Will Emi’s fulfill her brother’s challenge by falling in love–or tumbling into heartbreak? (LaCour was named a 2010 Morris Award Finalist for her debut novel, Hold Still.)

The Geography of Us – Jennifer E. Smith 

In this next story of unusual meetings and communication mishaps, solitary bookworm & native New Yorker Lucy and grief-stricken, recent city transplant Owen find their lives unexpectedly colliding when a city-wide blackout strands them in the elevator of their apartment building.  Following their rescue, Lucy & Owen explore the powerless city’s strange wonderland together.  But when the power returns, their very separate realities come rushing back, tugging them apart.  Lucy’s globe-trotting parents move her to Edinburgh just as Owen and his father decide to hit the road, searching for a new life in the wake of his mother’s death.  But Lucy & Owen can’t shake their connection and through postcards, emails, text messages, & attempted reunions, the two teens navigate life, love, and the true meaning of home.

Like No Other - Una LaMarche

Meeting in elevators seems to be the newest romantic trend this summer. While they’ve lived their entire lives in the same area of Brooklyn, Devorah and Jaxon existed in separate worlds until a hurricane hit the city, knocking out the electricity and stranding the pair in a hospital elevator.  Devorah has worked hard to be the ideal obedient Hasidic Jewish daughter, following rules to the letter even as she worries about the kind of future her traditional family expects of her.  Jaxon is book-smart nerd who has no luck with girls and tries to live up to his West Indian immigrant parents’ high expectations.  Despite their incredible differences, Devorah and Jaxon feel inexorably drawn to each other and embark on a secret romance that will force them both to decide exactly how much they’re willing to risk to be together.

One Man Guy – Michael Barakiva

While most of his classmates are celebrating their impending  freedom for the summer, Alek Khederian sits across from his parents in a restaurant, listening with horror as they announce that he will be spending the next few months in summer school, working to boost his unsatisfactorily average grades.  Alek assumes that summer school will simply be an extension of his fairly horrible freshman year; he never expected that it would lead him to Ethan.  Older, confident, Rufus Wainwright-loving, skateboarder Ethan seems like Alek’s precise opposite and at first, Alek can’t imagine why someone as cool as Ethan wants to hang out with him.  As their friendship deepens into a tentative romance, Alek must re-evaluate everything he thought he knew about himself–and decide the kind of person he wants to become.

Guy in Real Life – Steve Brezenoff

This next tale of two people from different worlds finding unexpected connection begins at 2:30 am on a dark and damp street in St. Paul, Minnesota.  Lesh loves metal music, prefers to dress in all black, and has just discovered the world of online MMO gaming; Svetlana spends her spare time embroidering her clothing, listening Bjork & Berlioz, and acting as dungeon master for her friends’ regular RPG sessions.  After Lesh drunkenly knocks into Svetlana’s bike the weekend before school starts, the two of them should simply part ways, brushing off their chance meeting as the accident it seems to be.  But somehow, they can’t.  Instead, Lesh and Svetlana find their lives suddenly intersecting again and again as the two teens each learn about the roles we play and the rare people who can see through them all to our most private selves.

 Say What You Will – Cammie McGovern

 Although they’ve gone to school together for years, Amy and Matthew have never really met.   Amy has cerebral palsy; she uses a walker to walk, a computerized voice box to speak, and cannot always control her body’s movements.  Her elegant essays and academic achievements have won her admiration but not friendship among her peers.  Meanwhile, the rituals, inescapable thought cycles, and paralyzing fear of Matthew’s obsessive compulsive disorder increasingly dominate his life, alienating him.  When Amy convinces her protective mother to hire peer aides to help her during her senior year and Matthew signs on, the two teens develop a tender friendship that challenges their ideas of love, their perceptions of themselves, and the kind of life each wants to live as they move beyond high school.  

-Kelly Dickinson, currently reading Gone, Gone, Gone by Hannah Moskowitz

Tweets of the Week: July 25th

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 07:00

This week on Twitter brings you news from San Diego Comic Con and lots of coverage of the School Library Journal virtual conference on teen literature SummerTeen, in addition to the regular slate of book, movie, and library news.


Libraries and Librarians

Giveaways and Book Deals

Movies and TV

Just for Fun

– Molly Wetta, currently reading Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers and listening to Red Glove by Holly Black

Celebrate Cousins Day in YA Lit

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 07:00

Did you know that today is unofficially Cousins Day? Neither did I until I discovered that several different websites devoted to strange and unique holidays both designate today as the day to celebrate the bond between cousins.

I didn’t see my cousins much growing up but I do have fond memories of the few times we did get together on vacation. I thought it might be fun to see how many YA books I could find involving cousins.

The obvious book that immediately comes to mind is We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. Not only have I read it recently, but it’s also been featured here by Carly Pansulla in her July 15th post, “Summer Reading: Vacation Destination Books.” Carly’s description of the book is great so if you want to know more about it, check out her post. I will only say that the main narrator, Cady Sinclair, has great memories of spending summers with her parents and aunts and her first cousins, Mirren and Johnny, at their family’s private island off the coast of Cape Cod… until one fateful summer when everything changes.

Another notable book featuring first cousins is meg rosoff’s 2005 Michael L. Printz Award winning how i live now. This riveting novel is narrated from 15-year-old Daisy’s point of view. She leaves Manhattan to stay with her cousins Osbert, Edmond and Isaac (twins), and Piper, the youngest, on a remote farm in England. Soon after Daisy settles into their farmhouse, her Aunt Penn becomes stranded in Oslo and terrorists invade and occupy England. Daisy and her cousin Edmond fall in love, but when soldiers take over the farm, the boys and girls are separated and sent away to different places. Daisy and Piper struggle to stay alive in the midst of this devastating invasion. The book was made into a film that was released in November 2013.

Similarly, Kat Brauning’s How We Fall, coming out in November, is about teenaged Jackie who is falling for her cousin Marcus and neglecting her best friend Ellie. After Ellie disappears and is feared dead, Jackie’s wracked with guilt. She feels guilty about failing her friend and about her relationship with Marcus because she knows it would destroy both of their families. They break up and Marcus starts dating someone else but that only makes things worse.

I know that some people may object to romantic relationships between cousins, particularly first cousins, and I have no comment except to say that marriage between cousins is not uncommon or illegal in all other countries or even in all US states. John Green even made a video on this topic in 2013.


Green mentioned the marriage between Charles Darwin and his cousin Emma Wedgwood in the video. Their real life love is beautifully portrayed in Deborah Heiligman’s nonfiction biography Charles and Emma: The Darwin’s Leap of Faith, winner of the first YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award in 2010 and 2010 Michael L. Printz Honor book.

In Kat Beyer’s The Demon Catchers of Milan (2012) 16-year-old Mia leaves her family in New York to stay with distant relatives in Milan, Italy after surviving being possessed by a demon. She taken in by Giuliano, her elderly first cousin twice removed and falls for charming and gorgeous third cousin Emilio as she studies her family’s heritage of demon catching in order to stay alive.

There are also a number of YA books where cousins are not romantically involved with one other.

Amy Gordon’s middle grade book Painting the Rainbow (2014) is about two 13-year-old cousins who, during their annual month-long visit to their family’s New Hampshire lake house in 1965, uncover hints of a family secret dating back to World War II.

In 1814 London, after three cousins discover their magical powers and family lineage of witchcraft, accidentally open the gates to the underworld allowing the spirits of dark witches known as the Greymalkin Sisters to hunt and kill young debutante witches for their powers in Alyxandra Harvey’s Breath of Frost (2014).

Ellen Wittlinger’s Zigzag (2005) involves a road trip that high school junior Robin ends up going on with her aunt Dory and Dory’s grieving, troubled kids after Robin’s boyfriend Chris leaves her to take a study program in Rome instead of spending the summer with her. During the road trip, Robin reconnects with her long-absent father; and finds new ideas for a future that doesn’t revolve around Chris.

In many YA books, cousins don’t even like each other very much. Gabrielle Zevin’s All These Things I’ve Done (2011) is set in a futuristic world where chocolate and coffee is illegal. Anya’s father was a crime boss selling chocolate on the black market. Her cousin Jakov “Jacks” is her father’s half brother’s illegitimate son who keeps trying to wrestle control of the family business away from Anya. Anya’s never really liked Jacks ever since he got drunk at a family wedding and tried to touch her breast when she was 13.

These are just some of the books I’ve found with characters who are cousins. I’m sure I’ve missed a lot so I hope you will help me out with some other suggestions!

Sharon Rawlins, currently reading The Falconer by Elizabeth May

Yay! It’s Batman Day!

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 07:00

Picture Courtesy of Yours Truly!

Wow!  You guys!  It’s officially Batman Day – as declared by DC Comics, a celebration of Batman and the glorious 75 years that he has graced us with his batty-presence.  No matter what form of Batman you prefer – animated series, comic books, video games, movies – we are celebrating him in all his inclinations today.  It’s my favorite day of the year (well, next to Halloween and my birthday – so it’s right up there with the good holidays, at least), and we’re going to celebrate it today here on The Hub!  I’ve got a little bit of a history for you (unknown history…exciting!), a few of my favorite stories, and a look at where Batman is going in the future.  So, join me, won’t you, on this little walk down Batman road…

First up, the history.  Batman first appeared in Detective Comics #27 long, long ago in May 1939.  And, you know how when you watch Batman or read Batman, there’s always that little tagline that says “Batman created by Bob Kane.”  Okay, simple enough, right?  Well, not right, my friends.  Batman had another creator that has languished in obscurity all these 75 years.  Luckily, a gentleman named Marc Tyler Nobleman did a little sleuthing and found out the real truth behind Batman.  

Long ago, Bob Kane (and if you want my real opinion on Bob Kane, it mirrors “resident Batmanologist” and writer for ComicsAlliance Chris Sims’ feelings – basically, he’s “just the worst”) and Bill Finger were partners who worked at DC Comics before it was named DC Comics.  They wanted to match the popularity of Superman, so they worked together to come up with something that would blow the lid off of comics and take the popular prize away from Mr. Superman (not my favorite person, either).  Anyway, Bob came up with the name – The Bat-Man, and Bill came up with…literally, everything else.  Gotham City – check.  The Joker – check.  Bruce Wayne’s backstory, aka the murder of his parents – Check.  Catwoman – check.  I could go on, but I think you get my point.  He even came up with his trademark cape & cowl.  So, why, you might ask, isn’t Bill Finger listed on any of the “Created by” taglines?

Well, if there was one thing that Bill wasn’t, it was a savvy business man.  Unfortunately for him, Bob Kane was.  He went to the editors and got it written into his contract that only he would be the one listed as the sole creator of Batman.  Sad, huh?  It wasn’t until recently when Marc started snooping around, Batman style, that he found out the truth.  He researched Bill Finger’s family and even found a living heir, his granddaughter, who has now taken up the fight to get her grandfather’s name restored to Batman.  There’s an excellent book about the whole thing that Marc wrote, Bill the Boy Wonder:  the Secret Co-Creator of Batman, that’s a great, quick read on the subject.

Can you imagine creating something and not being acknowledged for it?  Me neither, so I think that this Batman Day should also be a celebration for Bill Finger and his wonderful imagination.

So, now that we’ve got that subject out of the way, what are my favorite Batman stories?  I mentioned a lot of them in my very first post for The Hub (, but I can always come up with a few more!

Image courtesy of DC Comics

Batman, Volume 3:  Death of the Family by Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo:  This is a straight up scary story, ya’ll.  But, older teens and adults will revel in the puzzle that Joker has put together for Batman to solve during the Joker’s long absence.  Look – I’m just going to spell it out here.  Joker has removed, his, um, well, his face, and he’s leading Batman down a path of all their old glory days together, and by glory days, I mean their past encounters, but with a twist.  Batman has to turn on the old detective mode (Arkham Asylum game shoutout!) to figure out just how to defeat him once and for all.  And, when his Bat-Family gets involved in a way that Batman did not expect, well, let’s just say he is not happy.

Batman:  Mad Love and Other Stories by Paul Dini & Bruce Timm:  Well, one of my very favorite Batman stories isn’t a real Batman story at all – it’s the story of Harley Quinn and Joker’s super messed up romance.  You know, Harley Quinn wasn’t even a character in the comics; she was especially created for Batman: the Animated Series television show by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, but she’s gone on to became a serious fan-fave.  This short story is included in a collection of a lot of Paul & Bruce’s best hits stories in this paperback book.  Mad Love is my favorite, but all the stories in the book will definitely appeal to lovers of Batman and his animated series alike (maybe even both – ha!).  Anyways, Mad Love tells the origin story of Harley, née Harleen Quinzel, a psychiatric intern at the dreaded Arkham Asylum.  It’s there that she meets and starts to “treat” the criminal known as The Joker, and the rest is history.  She falls deeply in love (him, not so much) and changes her persona to that of a Harley Quinn (get it? Hee.) and is now set to do all his bidding.  A great, fun book for teen and adult readers alike.

Batman:  The Killing Joke by Alan Moore, Brian Bolland and John Higgins:  Guys, I’m going to be honest here.  I do really like this book, but it does contain some subject matter that is mature, so older teens and adults would be the best suited readers.  This is basically the story where Barbara Gordon is paralyzed by the Joker’s hand.  It’s rough, and I’m still not sure how I feel about what happens to Barbara, but it is a book that’s important to the Bat-family mythos, and it was the point where Barbara turns into Oracle.  It’s basically a one-off story that is a battle between The Joker and Batman.  Grant Morrison just recently came out and said it’s obvious that Batman actually kills Joker at the end – take a read, and find out if you agree with him.  There are a lot of people, me included, that don’t think that’s the case.

Gotham Central by Greg Rucka & Ed Brubaker:  I just love detective stories by Greg Rucka (not Batman related, but see Lazarus & Stumptown Investigations for some awesome detective stories that aren’t Batman related, now back to Batman-), and I know I originally mentioned this series in my Beginner’s Guide to Batman, but it’s so good, people!  Greg does a great job of writing, along with artwork by Ed Brubaker, on the entire Gotham Central series.  If you want to read about Gotham (and with the new television show, Gotham, debuting in September, you’re probably not the only one), here’s your book series.  It tells the stories that the GCPD (Gotham City Police) have to deal with that Batman just really doesn’t have time for.  Detectives dealing with Mr. Freeze freezing people, fake Robins, and one of the best Joker stories of all time – Soft Targets – a story where Joker finds out about webcams and uses them to his advantage.  A great run on a series, which, unfortunately, didn’t get a lot of love when it was first released.  A way to stay connected to Batman, but not that connected.

Well, those are some of my favorite titles that I haven’t gushed about before.  And, now, where does Batman go from here in his next 75 years?

  • Video games: A new video game is set to be released in 2015 that will be the final chapter in the Batman: Arkham games.  And, yes, I know there have already been three – I’m choosing to block out the game that was Batman: Origins.  So, back to where I was – the Third in a trilogy – Batman: Arkham Knight will be released in 2015, and it’s set one year after the events of Batman: Arkham City.
  • Retro TV: Just recently, all the legal red tape has been cleared and cut to make way for the release of the original Batman ’66 series on DVD later this year!  Yay!  Let’s revisit a time when shark repellant was all that was needed to keep a great white away and the Joker had a mustache under that white makeup.
  • Comic books forever: The current comic run on Batman is still going strong.  Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo are continuing their work on the series (and let’s hope that never ends) with Zero Year, Batman: Eternal and the upcoming new story arc – Endgame.

What I’ve learned in my 12 or 13 years of proclaiming Batman as my favorite superhero ever is that we need Batman in our lives.  He fights the good fight and keeps the baddies at bay, and it’s nice to think that he’s out there somewhere saving the day and keeping us safe.

‘Til next time, friends – Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel.

-Traci Glass, currently reading Batman: Zero Year by Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo

Jukebooks: While We Run by Karen Healey

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 07:00

They always wanted me to sing “Here Comes the Sun.”

It used to be one of my favorite Beatles songs. The lyrics capture so simply the longing for light. The singer talks about the cold, the ice that hasn’t melted in a long time, but he repeats over and over that the sun is coming home.

In 1969, over a hundred and fifty years ago, George Harrison was having a hard winter. He’d been arrested, he’d had his tonsils removed, and he was being forced to comply with the corporate demands of the Beatles’ recording company. He’d even temporarily quit the band.

Then, one winter’s day, he walked around a friend’s backyard with an acoustic guitar and wrote “Here Comes the Sun.”

In 2128, Abdi Taalib sings this song with Tegan Oglietti. It should have been impossible, because Tegan had died one hundred years earlier. But thanks to cryonic suspension, Tegan was revived to have a second chance at life. It turns out to be a harrowing second chance. In this sequel to Healy’s When We Wake, Tegan’s friend Abdi takes over the narration. Both teens are coerced to sell  cryosuspension as an option for the world’s desperately poor.  The sales pitch is that refugees in this world can be frozen, sent off on a starship bound for a shining new world, and start afresh. It’s all a terrible lie.

“Here Comes the Sun” is one of the few recorded Beatles songs written by George Harrison. In his autobiography he describes writing the song, exactly as Abdi tells it. He wrote the song in Eric Clapton’s garden. Interestingly, particularly in context to this story, “Here Comes the Sun” was considered for inclusion on a Voyager Golden Record.

Where Are They Now? Morris Award Finalists & Winners

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 07:00

Have you ever wondered what YALSA’s Morris Award winning authors have been up to today since they were recognized for their first novels? Well then, this post is the one for you.

For a little background, YALSA has been giving out the Morris award since 2009, which honors debut young adult authors with impressive new voices. This post is not intended to be a comprehensive list of  what all of the finalists and winners have been up to, but it’ll give you an idea of what some of our Morris winners and finalists have been writing since winning their awards. (Be sure to take a look at the full list of Morris winners and finalists.)

Then: 2009 Awards 

  • 2009 Winner – A Curse Dark As Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce
  • 2009 Finalist  – Graceling by Kristin Cashore

And Now!

  • Star Crossed by Elizabeth C. Bunco

  • Kristin Cashore finished her Graceling trilogy with Fire and Bitterblue 

Then: 2010 Awards

  • 2010 Finalists - Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, Hold Still by Nina LaCour and Ash by Malinda Lo

And Now! 

  • Icons by Margaret Stohl

  • Unbreakable by Kami Garcia 

  • The Disenchantments & Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

Happy book birthday to @nina_lacour & EVERYTHING LEADS TO YOU! Nina is our Author Spotlight today! Read it here:

— PenguinTeen (@PenguinTeen) May 15, 2014


  • Adaptation by Malindo Lo

Then: 2011 Awards

  •  2011 Winner: The Freak Observer by Blythe Woolston
  • 2011 Finalists: Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey and Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride

 And Now! 

  • Black Helicopters by Blythe Woolston

  • When We Wake by Karen Healey

The sequel While We Run was recently released this spring.

  • Firebug by Lish McBride   Ava can start fires with her mind, otherwise known as a firebug in this new world Mcbride created. The onlyproblem is that she’s a contract killer for the magical mafia who has just been contracted to kill a family friend… She rebels and disappears on the road with some friends while they try to figure out a way out of all this…

Then: 2012 Awards

  • 2012 Winner - Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley
  • 2012 Finalists - The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson and Shades of Gray written by Ruta Sepetys

And Now! 

  • Noggin by John Corey Whaley 

  • Rae Carson finished her trilogy with The Crown of Embers and The Bitter Kingdom. Below is an interview with Carson when the final book of the trilogy was released. 

  • Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

What do you think of the “Where are they Now” books? Have you read any of them? Any books we missed on this list that you want to include in the comments? Let us know!

- Katie Shanahan Yu, currently reading I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb

Set a Goal and Read: The Beauty of Large Reading Projects

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 07:00

photo by flickr user msbhaven

Ah, summer. The time for lazy reading by the pool, picking up whichever book strikes your fancy… or frantically completing long summer reading assignments. It depends on who your teachers are.

I definitely had a couple of long, involved reading assignments during my school years, most notably the summer before I started college. It was strongly suggested that we read an abridged version of Don Quixote before term started. Being the rule follower that I am, I went to the library and could only find the unabridged version… so that’s what I read. Even with that experience, though, something about summer brings out my enthusiasm for planning large reading projects.

What do I mean by a large reading project? Well, make no mistake, I completely believe in reading for fun and pursuing those reading materials that interest you. And my reading projects are materials that interest me, but they are those items that I never seem to get around to in the course of my normal reading: really long, thick novels that don’t automatically call to me when I flop down on the couch at night, for example, or lists of books that I wouldn’t remember to get to if I weren’t intentional about it. 

Here are some of my completed reading projects from years past:

All of these were books that I genuinely wanted to read. But Anna Karenina (like many other “classics”) is of an imposing size, and takes some time before you start to really identify with any of the characters (I ended up loving it). The Marsden series took awhile to track down, including having to request that my library purchase 2 of the 3 Ellie Chronicles, which follow the Tomorrow series proper. Poetry can require more thought than I’m often willing to put into my reading without prepping myself beforehand. I had to make them into projects to get them read.

I’m currently working my way through these projects:

  • Read Les yeux jaunes des crocodiles, a French novel, in French (although I have a translation handy to refer to after reading a section in French).
  • Read all six of Jane Austen’s completed novels.
  • Read a selection of questions from Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae. This is a project to let me get a small picture of the reading my husband does regularly.

Of these, only one is what I would call “active” mode. I am currently reading through the Aquinas book, trying to read a little each day (then picking up my mystery novel once I have!). I’ve read five of the six Austen novels, but I don’t know when I’ll get to the sixth. I started the French novel last fall, and it fell by the wayside, but I hope to pick it back up later this summer.

Obviously, my project reading is not a model of efficiency. Everyone’s reading style is different– see this Hub post about reading habits to get an idea of the variety. Still, I like having projects to work on along with my regular reading because they help me broaden my reading and read books that I might not otherwise. I never seem to have trouble coming up with projects, and certainly have several in mind for the future:

What about you? Do you have assigned summer reading projects? Do you have your own reading projects that you are working on? I love to hear about other people’s reading projects… they give me more ideas for future projects!

-Libby Gorman, currently reading Holy Teaching: Introducing the Summa Theologiae of St. Thomas Aquinas by Frederick Christian Bauerschmidt and The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith aka J.K. Rowling

Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before

Mon, 07/21/2014 - 07:00

I love books and I love music. That being said, it should not be a surprise to learn that I am a big fan of crossovers between the two.

The Hub is no stranger to this fantastic pairing, either: every Wednesday Diane Colson shares with us a book-and-song match in her Jukebooks series, Jennifer Rummel recently used country music as the basis for a booklist, and I referenced my love of book-themed playlists in a previous post.

While scanning through a list of new YA releases recently, I couldn’t help noticing that many of the titles seemed awfully familiar: quite a few of them share (or are very similar to) titles of songs. They may not be similar topically as the pairings in Diane’s posts, but there is no denying that some of these will have you humming the second you see the covers:

Since You’ve Been Gone

When you hear the title of this contemporary story of best friends, summer vacation, and list completion from author Morgan Matson, you may immediately think of Kelly Clarkson’s 2004 chart-topper, “Since U Been Gone.”


(Don’t You) Forget About Me

This new release from Kate Karyus Quinn is a near-match for the Simple Minds classic “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” but that is where the similarities end between this suspense-filled mystery and The Breakfast Club’s theme. Additionally, Quinn’s debut Another Little Piece immediately resulted in Janis Joplin singing “Piece of My Heart” in my head.



This is the fifteenth installment of Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars series. The title of this scandalous novels cries out for you to sing along to Britney Spears’ 2003 hit of the same name.


Take Me On

So, are you all humming the intro to a-ha’s “Take On Me” right now? In case you are not familiar, Kate McGarry’s newest release in the Pushing the Limits series shares its name with a very well-known lyric: “Take on me / Take me on / I’ll be gone / In a day or two”

Go ahead about hit those high notes as you sing along:



Hashtags may be a recent trend, but we’re head back to the eighties for this title share. Do you think author Sarah Ockler listened to this Queen song while writing?

A few more to check out:

Wicked Games by Sean Olin / “Wicked Game” by Chris Isaak
In the End by Demitria Lunetta / “In the End” by Linkin Park
Wanted: Dead or in Love by Kym Brunner / “Wanted: Dead or Alive” by Bon Jovi
Push by Eve Silver / “Push” by Matchbox 20
Shimmer by Paula Weston / “Shimmer” by Fuel


The title of this post is a reference to a song by The Smiths and a similarly-titled 2008 YA book by David Yoo!

- Jessica Lind, currently reading Graceling by Kristin Cashore

The Monday Poll: Your Favorite Assigned Summer Reading

Sun, 07/20/2014 - 23:22

photo by flickr user Patrick Gage Kelley

Good morning, Hub readers!

Last week, we asked which fictional summer camp you’d like to attend. Most of you are packing your bags for Camp Half-Blood as featured in Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books, which captured a whopping 66% of the vote. You can see detailed results for all of our previous polls in the Polls Archive. Thanks to all of you who voted!

This week, we are still on our summer-themed kick, and we want to know about your favorite assigned summer reading from high school. Whether you’re still in high school or simply reliving fond memories, what assigned books stood out to you over those long, lazy summers? Did you grimace and groan at the thought of reading something for school even though class wasn’t in session, or did you welcome the chance to have your eyes opened to a book you might not have otherwise chosen? I admit, I was never very pleased to interrupt my avid pleasure reading with assigned titles, but there were a few pleasant surprises along the way. We’ve supplied some common assigned summer reading titles in the poll below, but please add your choice in the comments if we missed it!

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

Cool Comics Picks (and Zombies!)

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 07:00

Hello again, my dear Hubbers!  I’m back again for a round-up of my favorite new-ish comics to share with you!  Yes, I know, I was supposed to do a post on the newest topic in my SuperMOOC comics series, but to tell you the truth, I am super behind on my MOOC.  Who knew that this “Summer Reading” thing would take up so much of my time?  Ha!  So, instead, I’m happy to give you a list of a few of my new favorite titles that will definitely appeal to a whole gamut of comics readers.  From weird Guardians to zombies to our (well, my, I guess) favorite, Mr. Batman, himself, I hope that you’ll be excited to jump into the deep end of the comics pool.  Join me, won’t you?  As always, we start with Batman!

Batman, Volume 4:  Zero Year – Secret City by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo & Danny Miki:  Zero Year is a fun place for both Batman fans and non-fans alike to jump into the current story line that Scott & Greg have created.  Zero Year is going way, way back to how poor little rich boy, Bruce Wayne, not only became Batman, but what that first year was like for him after he decided to don the cape and cowl.  A nefarious group calling themselves the Red Hood Gang have descended on Gotham, determined to take the city down, no matter what it takes.  They also wear these red cone like things on their heads – very amusing, if you ask me.  But they are deadly and will stop at nothing to bring the city to its knees.  However, one thing they didn’t count on was Batman – well, he isn’t known as Batman yet.  So, they weren’t counting on a guy in a suit that looks like a bat.  A fun and fast paced story that readers can jump right into and get hooked – and, trust me, they will get hooked.  Plus – bonus!  Early Edward Nygma, and we all know who he turns in to, right?  (It’s the Riddler, by the way!).

Afterlife with Archie:  Book One by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa & Francesco Francavilla:  If you’re anything like me, you love zombies.  Zombies are the best!  Hilarious and sad and utterly terrifying.  Now imagine if two award-winning comics people took your favorite kids from Riverdale and zombified them!  Well, your dreams have come true.  Unfortunately, the zombie plague has hit Riverdale after some sorcery involving Jughead and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.  Also, unfortunately, Archie and his pals have had to escape for their lives all the way to Veronica’s house.  The 3rd unfortunately is that Jughead is the new leader of the zombie army, and he and his zombie followers know just where to go for maximum brain consumption – yup, you guessed it – Veronica’s house.  This is a wonderfully creepy take on our favorite teens.  I loved it, and I don’t even like Archie!

Avengers Assemble by Brian Michael Bendis & Mark Bagley:  So, I guess I kind of like the Avengers.  I mean, I really liked the movie, and all, but I haven’t taken a lot of time to read the associated comics.  I decided to pick up this new-ish title because I heard it was good.  And, it is – it’s funny and action packed and it has a guest appearance by the newest (or soon to be, at least) Marvel movie stars – the Guardians of the Galaxy!  This is basically a star filled mash-up of the Avengers and Guardians trying to defeat the dreaded Thanos.  For fans of the Avengers, this is the perfect book that displays the same sort of hilarious hijinks and Hulk/Iron Man bromance that the movie fans will love.  For readers who’d like to get some Guardians of the Galaxy action, this book brings them to hilarious life on Earth and beyond.  C’mon – it’s got a talking raccoon in it.  What more do I have to say?

Mara by Brian Wood, Ming Doyle & Jordie Bellaire:  In a future where sports and war are what is most important in the society, volleyball player, Mara, is the star that shines the brightest.  She’s beautiful, plays an awesome game and inspires her country and teammates alike.  She is beloved throughout the world until, one day, the world gets a look at superpowers that she would rather stay hidden.  With her brother off fighting in dangerous war zones and those who once embraced her now pushing her away, Mara is isolated and alone.  But, she won’t let them forget who she is.  She’ll make the world notice her now, and if they thought she was powerful before, the world is in for a big surprise.  A great futuristic read with an interesting and intriguing main character, Brian Wood really brings Mara to life, and readers will root for her every step of the way.

Well, I hope this list of my new faves will whet your appetite for graphic literature.  And, don’t give up hope – I might catch up on my SuperMOOC in the time being so as to get back on track with my examination of those themes.  But… I might not!  That doesn’t mean that I won’t be back to give you more of my comics and graphic novel recommendations, though, whether you want them or not!  See you next time – same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel!

P.S. For more graphic novel reading pleasure, check out YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens lists.

–Traci Glass, currently reading The Perfectionists by Sara Shepard

Tweets of the Week: July 18th

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 07:00

Summer is in full force. If you’re a public library, your Summer Reading Program is probably in full swing: programs, readers look for books, and readers picking up reading incentives.  If you’re a school librarian, I hope that you’re having a great summer. Either way, if you’re crazy busy this summer, here are some tweets you might have missed this week.

Upcoming Event:  @sljournal Hottest books, coolest authors. SummerTeen is next week! Register FREE today:  #sljst


Cover Reveals




Just for Fun

~ Jennifer Rummel, currently reading Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Popular Paperbacks: Movies, Mysteries and More

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 07:00

The excitement this summer for YA books turned blockbusters like The Fault in Our Stars is only just beginning. The If I Stay (2010 Best Books for Young Adults) and The Giver movies both come out this August, with many, many more of our favorite YA titles being optioned for films or currently in development.  Which makes this the perfect time to check out YALSA’s Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults nominees for its 2015 list Books to Movies: Ripped from the Pages. You’ll probably find your favorite titles that have already been adapted for the silver screen (or will be soon).

Each year YALSA’s Popular Paperbacks committee creates lists filled with books that are in paperback (important for those budget conscious) and are interesting and engaging reads on a broad range of themes and genres. We also strive for our lists to have diverse characters and authors that reflect the different background and experiences of the teens we serve. The other 2015 lists are Mysteries: Murder, Mayhem, and Other Adventures (for the whodunit fans), Lock Up: Teens Behind Bars (for contemporary fiction fans) and Narrative Non-Fiction: Inspired by Actual Events (for history buffs and biography fans).

The other great thing about Popular Paperbacks is that this committee accepts and loves to receive field suggestions for any of our lists. We want our lists to be as inclusive and exhaustive as possible so the more nominations we receive the better our list will be. Popular Paperback’s nomination criteria is simple too, be currently available in paperback, have appeal to teens 12-18, not on a previous Popular Paperback list in the last five years and fit the theme of the list being nominating for. The most exciting part is anyone can put forth suggestions for the committee to consider– non-YALSA members or librarians, teen readers, parents, grandparents, anyone! Head to YALSA’s Popular Paperbacks page to get more information or to start suggesting your favorite book to movie or mystery titles.

- Amanda Margis, currently reading Design, Make, Play, edited by Margaret Honey and David E. Kanter and listening to Rebel Heart by Moria Young

Jukebooks: When Mr. Dog Bites by Brian Conaghan

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 07:00

It can be hard to make friends when you have Tourette’s Syndrome. Filthy words explode from your mouth, unbidden. But Dylan Mist is lucky in that respect. His best friend, Amir, accepts and understands his outbursts. So when Dylan comes to believe he has only a few months to live, he makes a bucket list:

1. Have real sexual intercourse with a girl.

2. Fight heaven and earth, tooth and nail, dungeons and dragons, for my mate Amir to stop getting called names about the color of his skin. Stop people slagging him all the time because he smells like a big pot of curry. And help him find a new best friend.

3. Get Dad back from the war before…you-know-what happens.

Many adventures take place in pursuit of these goals. For one, Dylan and Amir go to the school’s Halloween party (as characters from the Reservoir Dogs). It’s not exactly their scene. As they sip warm, carbonated drinks, the boys survey the dance floor. Dylan notes:

The Beyonce song where she talks about having a rock the size of a grape on her finger was playing. This was a song all the girls seem to love; they loved it so much that they all pointed to their ring fingers when they were dancing as if all the men should go out and spend their hard-earned cash on a bloody silly sparkle ring. Stupid song. Stupid dance. Stupid message. And, as I expected, all the dudes and walking wounded hovered around the edges of the dance floor/gym hall with nothing to do. p253

The girls do love that song! “All the Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” struck a nerve with its saucy lyrics and punchy, upbeat melody. Released in 2008, Rolling Stone magazine named it the best song of the year. The recording below is from the 2011 Glastonbury Festival.

Summer Reading: Vacation Destination Books

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 07:00

Photo by flickr user george.bremer

It’s summertime! And if you’re anything like me, that means finding a spot to curl up with a cool breeze, a tall glass of something iced, and a stack of good books. Now, I don’t always match my reading to the season, but sometimes I like my books to feel like an extension of the atmosphere I’m experiencing, rather than an escape from it. Especially if I’m lucky enough to be on vacation (or happily anticipating one); sometimes I want to read all about other people having the same disruption to routine that vacations bring, living outside of their regular schedules. And sometimes, y’know, I just want to savor the season as much as possible: sun, sand, water, just-picked fruits and veggies – celebrate the many incarnations of a summer vacation with the following vacation-themed reading.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Destination: Private island estate

This is the book that prompted  the whole list of summer destination-themed titles; I devoured it in a single sitting (with a pitcher of iced tea, natch) and upon finishing was, a) blown away by the plotting – avoid spoilers!- and b) immediately ready for absolutely everything in my life to be summer-themed, because the setting was so deliciously drawn. Cady, our protagonist, is returning to her family’s summer retreat on a private island after spending the last two years away. She is suffering from excruciating migraines and trying to reclaim the easy, uncomplicated rhythms of the vacations she shared with her cousins in summers past, but she’s hindered by memory loss. As the incomplete flashbacks of previous years on the island draw the mystery closer to the dormant truth, the pages go by faster and faster until the truly shocking finale.


This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

Destination: Lakeside cottage

This is the first collaboration between cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki since 2008’s much-lauded Skim (a personal favorite and a 2009 Best Books for Young Adults top ten selection), and like that nuanced, thoughtful graphic novel, this nuanced, thoughtful graphic novel is equally beautiful, with pitch-perfect dialogue and a subdued palette awash in blues and purples. The fully-realized characters are visibly bubbling over with complex, rich emotions, their relationships displayed with all the hesitations and missteps of real life. The gorgeously rendered scenes are alive with all the details of small beach town life; the magnificence of plunging into the water on a warm day, the lazy delights of an afternoon indoors after too much sun, the importance of marshmallows at a bonfire. I swear I could hear the gulls while I read.


Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

Destination: Private estate (non-island variety)

Bittersweet is an adult-market title told entirely from the point of view of nineteen year-old Mabel, who has been invited to spend the summer at the vacation compound (it’s like We Were Liars; everyone gets their own cottage) of her roommate from freshmen year of college, the unbelievably named Genevra Winslow. She then proceeds to unearth some fairly juicy details about the various members of her host family, and the book picks up steam as a veritable soap opera of bad behavior and buried secrets, all the while dispensing summer picnics, swimming sessions, and sudden rainstorms amidst all the drama.


Summer of Firsts and Lasts by Terra Elan McVoy

Destination: Camp

If you’ve ever been to camp, you undoubtedly have your own specific, nostalgia-drenched memories of exactly how things were done, and if you haven’t, The Summer of Firsts and Lasts will paint a vivid picture for you, from three distinct perspectives. Calla, Violet, and Daisy are sisters all attending camp together, Calla as an administrative assistant, and Violet and Daisy as campers, Daisy for the first time. As the three navigate their own summer experiences (Calla is trying to work up the nerve to tell another long-time camper about her feelings for him, Violet is taking the camp’s rules more as suggested guidelines than hard and fast rules), their stories intertwine and overlap, and the smell of a campfire practically wafts off the page.


The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani

Destination: Camp (with horses!)

Another adult-market title with a teen protagonist, this one shipped off to the titular riding camp after she does something decidedly unapproved of at home. Only, where most of the girls at camp are just there for the summer, Thea has been informed by her father that it’s unclear when she’ll be “ready” to come home (this one does meander off-list a bit, as it includes seasons other than summer, but the primary atmosphere is definitely summertime). Set in the 1930s southeast, this is a historical fiction novel and a coming of age novel all in one, with some school story elements thrown in for good measure. Thea is determined to experience the fullness of life but confused about the best way to go about it; the resulting story is both tender and occasionally provocative.


What are your favorite books set in a summertime vacation destination? Let me know in the comments your picks for warm weather reads; happy summertime reading!

-Carly Pansulla, currently reading One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson

ALA Annual 2014: Stranger Than Fiction: Reader’s Advisory for Nonfiction

Mon, 07/14/2014 - 07:00

One of best programs I attended at the recent ALA Annual Conference in Vegas was the very popular session on Monday afternoon presented by Jennie Rothschild and Angela Frederick called Stranger Than Fiction: Reader’s Advisory for Nonfiction.

It seems like everyone’s talking about nonfiction these days because of the emphasis on the Common Core. Rothschild and Frederick suggested a large number of interesting and appealing nonfiction titles for teens, many from YALSA’s award and selection lists like the Alex Award, Excellence in Nonfiction Award, Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, and Outstanding Books for the College Bound. They also had a lot of suggestions for great nonfiction read-alikes for popular fiction titles.

The books they recommended are notable for their interesting subject areas that can be read for pleasure, not just for assignments; have appealing layout/style or design, and, despite that so many are published for adults, still have great teen appeal. Rothschild noted that since there isn’t a lot of teen nonfiction published compared to children’s and adult, teens are used to reading up or down. Many of the nonfiction titles are notable for their narrative style that reads like fiction and the fact that they complement so many popular fiction books.

Here are some of the highlights:

Subject read-alikes for Bomb: The Race to Build –And Steal –The World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin (YALSA 2013 Award for Excellence in Nonfiction, 2013 Sibert Award Winner, 2013 Newbery Honor Winner; National-book-award-finalist for Young People’s Literature):



  • The Ultimate Weapon: The Race to Develop the Atomic Bomb by Edward T. Sullivan (YA)
  • Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm, graphic novel (adults and older teens)
  • The Radioactive Boy Scout by Ken Silverstein (adult)
  • The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Keiran (adult)

Narrative-style read-alikes:

Subject read-alikes for Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach (adult), YALSA’s 2014 Outstanding Books for the College Bound (OBCB):




  • How I Killed Pluto: And Why it Had it Coming by Mike Brown (adult) YALSA’s 2014 OBCB list
  • The Mighty Mars Rovers: the Incredible Adventures of Spirit and Opportunity by Elizabeth Rusch (Middle Grade)

Narrative style read-alikes:

Subject read-alikes for Scandalous! 50 Shocking Events You Should Know About (So You Can Impress Your Friends) by Hallie Fryd




  • Jim Thorp by Joseph Bruchac (Middle Grade)
  • Eight Men Out: the Black Sox and the 1919 World Series by Eliot Asinof (adult)
  • All the President’s Men by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (adult)
  • Bullets, Bombs and Fast Talk: 25 Years of FBI War Stories by James Botting (adult) (Includes two scandals from Scandalous: Patty Hearst & Branch Davidians cult)
  • Leaving Glorytown: One Boy’s Struggle Under Castro by Eduardo F. Calcines (Middle Grade)
  • The World of Gloria Vanderbilt by Wendy Goodman (adult)

Narrative Reads-alikes for Scandalous:

  • Math Doesn’t Suck: How to Survive Middle School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail by Danica McKellar (Middle Grade)
  • Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon (Adult) YALSA’s 2014 OBCB list
  • Historical Heartthrobs: 50 Timeless Crushes from Cleopatra to Camus by Kelly Murphy & Hallie Fryd (YA)
  • The Economics Book Explained (DK) (adult)
  • Can I See Your ID?: True Stories of False Identities by Chris Barton  (Middle Grade)
  • Big Ideas Simply Explained (series) by various authors from DK publishers (adult)

Readalikes for The Fault in Our Stars by John Green:

Rothschild and Frederick presented a lot more great books than I have space to list here. To see their entire list, including references to other places to find lists of great nonfiction for teens, see their handout on their website.

I guarantee teens (and adults) who think they don’t like nonfiction will find something on this extensive list that will appeal to them. Thank you, Jennie and Angela, for your fun and informative presentation!

-Sharon Rawlins, currently reading The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson