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#QP2018 Nominees: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and Bang by Barry Lyga

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 07:00

The impact of shootings on survivors, families and communities is a timely topic. 

Unfortunately, the daily news may include incidents of gun violence including school shootings, police brutality, domestic violence, and tragic accidents.

Young Adult authors have increasingly been writing books that address these issues, to give teens touchpoints to identify with and help them understand their world. The following two recently published books, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, and Bang by Barry Lyga, help to tackle these issues for readers.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Balzer + Bray
February 28, 2017

Starr struggles to balance her life at home living in a poor black neighborhood and the private prep school she attends with much wealthier students. When she witnesses her childhood friend shot needlessly by a police officer, her whole world is turned upside down.

This compelling story is told from Starr’s point of view, where readers follow her thought processes as she navigates difficult situations and harsh, contradictory realities. The timely social issue of police brutality in black communities will grab readers’ attention. Starr’s experience perfectly illustrates one of the biggest issues faced by African-American people in the United States today. “The talk” may be familiar to many marginalized populations, and an eye opener to others. Starr is a complex introspective character that many teens will identify with, while she must come to terms with the sobering, unequal roles society has forced upon her community.

Many juxtapositions help show the complexity of the social issues being tackled within the story. Police are shown in both negative and positive lights, through officer “one fifteen”, the shooter of Starr’s friend, Khalil, and her Uncle Carlos, a police officer who is striving for justice. A poor community is depicted doing its best to protect its youth against gangs and drugs, while the youth’s attraction to the money and power brought by gangs and drugs is a heart-wrenching cycle. The conflicts between Starr’s neighborhood friends and her prep school friends serve to illuminate the complicated relationships between race, class, and privilege.

Dialog features use of teen slang and pop culture references many teen readers will appreciate. In particular, Tupac is referenced often, as his “THUG LIFE” anagram is the inspiration for the book’s title. Recommended for fans of Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely’s All American Boys and Kekla Magoon’s How it Went Down.

-Jessica Ormonde and Lisa Krok

Bang by Barry Lyga
Little, Brown and Company Books for Young Readers
April 18, 2017

When he was four years old, Sebastian accidentally shot and killed his four-month-old sister. Ten years later, he still can’t forgive himself. When new neighbors move in, becomes fast friends with new girl Aneesa. For the first time, Sebastian has a friend who does not know his horrific history, who doesn’t see him as a baby killer instead of a regular fourteen-year-old boy.

Teens will be drawn in almost immediately with the attention-grabbing admission that Sebastian killed his baby sister. Short, candid chapters will keep readers engaged in this character-driven story. The angst-filled household he shares with his mother, where things are emotionally intense as the ten-year anniversary of the incident occurs, propels the story forward.

Sebastian is seriously considering suicide; ending things with a bang, just as they started.  Making homemade pizzas is therapeutic and gives him a form of solace. Although his relationship with his mother is strained and awkward, she genuinely loves him and supports his pizza making ventures. Despite the heavy topics, Sebastian’s friendship with spunky Aneesa creates an atmosphere of hope, as they team up to create a YouTube channel highlighting their many creative pizza making adventures. When online haters post disparaging anti-Muslim remarks about Aneesa, Sebastian sees her courageousness and questions his own. His complex inner thoughts about his family history lead him to seek out his father…the owner of the gun that killed his infant sister.

Although this book has broad appeal for many types of readers, fans of authors who write character-driven books, such as Jeff Zentner and Jennifer Niven, especially, will appreciate the thought-provoking, well-developed characters.

-Lisa Krok


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Happy Mother’s Day: Salute to Bad Moms

Sun, 05/07/2017 - 07:00

Mother’s Day is the celebration of the woman who supported you, saved you, and loved you unconditionally.  Unfortunately the mothers below didn’t quite make the grade.


Willowdean “Dumplin” Dickson is a Texan, daughter of the Miss Teen Beauty Pageant’s coordinator, and overweight.  She has best friend issues, boy issues, mommy issues but she decides to honor her aunt by entering the pageant.

Madeline suffers from the bubble boy syndrome where she’s allergic to everything and can’t go outside. Her only human contact are her mother and her nurse. One day a new family moves in and she fall in love with Olly.

Bone Gap Illinois is a little town that has gaps where one can fall into and never find their way out.  When Roza goes missing and creepy Finn doesn’t help her, the town suspects Finn but Finn suspects a mysterious stranger.

Rani’s father is having an affair and her mother ignores it.  Rani is suffering because her father is having an affair and her mother ignores her.  Rani finds poetry and live performance a comfort in this realistic fiction novel set in 1990’s Hawaii.

Flannery needs a new school book but her unemployed eccentric mother would rather blog about how to be a good parent than actually taking her own advice.  When an old friend moves back to town, Flannery falls in love but soon finds out he has big problems of his own.

Katie is in love but she’s not ready to confront it and she can’t confide in her mother because her mother’s too consumed by her mentally disabled brother as well her Katie’s grandmother who’s suffering from Alzheimer’s.   Katie soon finds out that her mother may not know how to be nurturing because of all the issues her mother had with Katie’s grandmother.

Vivi has decided that she doesn’t need to take her meds and her mother acts like she cares but she’s never around.  When Vivi meets Jonah, she not only finds love but a new family but she could ruin it if she doesn’t take her medication.

Nora is graduating and has no plans.  Her mother expects her to take care of her younger brother who steals, abuses her and her mother, and might be on drugs.  Instead of seeking help for her brother, Nora’s mother makes excuses for his behavior which escalates the situation and it doesn’t help that everyone is scared of the serial killer in the city.

-Dawn Abron is currently reading: The Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner

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Women in Comics: The World of Wonder Woman!

Tue, 05/02/2017 - 07:00

The beginning of next month will see the premier of the new Wonder Woman movie, so now is the perfect time to take a dive into the many different comics that have featured Wonder Woman over the years. Though her creation is credited to a man, it is not surprising that over the years many female comics creators have been inspired to tell stories about this character. Each one offers their own take on her, but any of these books would be a great place to start (or continue) your reading about this fantastic character.

Wonder Woman: The True Amazon by Jill Thompson – In this new take on Wonder Woman’s path to her place in the world, Jill Thompson shows her as a spoiled and selfish girl for whom everything has come much too easily. But, when her bad behavior leads to tragedy, she must redeem herself and come to earn her place in her society and her role as Wonder Woman. With such a different take on Diana’s origin story and such interesting art work, this book is a great option for those who have never read about Wonder Woman in the past.

Wonder Woman: Love and Murder by Jodi Picoult with art by Drew Johnson, Ray Snyder, Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson, and Paco Diaz – In this story by best-selling author Jodi Picoult, Diana Prince aka “Wonder Woman” is in disguise as an agent for the Department of Metahuman Affairs when she is tasked with capturing Wonder Woman. With an impossible task before her, she must juggle her efforts to exist undercover with her efforts to keep her secret. Jodi Picoult was the first woman to be a regular series writer for Wonder Woman and this arc is well worth checking out.

Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman – This collection has far too many authors and artists to list them all, but just a few of the women involved in this project include Gail Simone, Amanda Deibert, Marguerite Sauvage, and Amy Mebberson. Each story stands alone, which makes this a great option for those who prefer quick, discrete stories and those who want to see lots of stylistic variety. The anthology is sure to have something for everyone and it offers a nice starting place for those who aren’t familiar with Wonder Woman.

Bombshells Volume 1: Enlisted by Marguerite Bennett with art by Marguerite Sauvage – Set during World War II, this series considers a version of history where the Allies call on the help of some of the greatest super heroines ever in their efforts to win the war. Readers have a chance to see Wonder Woman, Batwoman, Mera, Poison Ivy, and many more in a completely new light. Marguerite Sauvage’ artwork fits perfectly with the setting as it reimagines the iconic characters in a “bombshell” style that calls to mind actual art from the war period. These books are ideal for comics fans who also enjoy historical fiction.

Wonder Woman Volume 7: War-Torn by Meredith Finch with art by David Finch – Diana is faced with competing responsibilities as the Queen of the Amazons, a member of the Justice League, and the Goddess of War, and must try to find a way to make all of these piece of her identity come together. In the end, this is easier said than done and ultimately Wonder Woman is faced with a challenge to her role among the Amazonians. Will she be able to keep her place in her society? Though billed as a seventh volume in a series, this story mostly starts a new arc that has little to do with the major plot points of the earlier volumes, so anyone can pick up this book as a starting place. It is a great option for those who want an action-packed story of Wonder Woman’s exploits.

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo – Those who aren’t fans of the graphic novel format will want to keep an eye out for Leigh Bardugo’s latest novel, which is a coming of age story starring Wonder Woman herself. In this story, Diana, Princess of the Amazons, seeks to save a mortal at the risk of being expelled by her people. This one won’t be released until August, but it is worth mentioning here since it is sure to be a popular addition to most any library’s collection.

These are just a few of the great Wonder Woman comics that have been published over the years. I’d love to hear your own favorites in the comments!

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Monthly Monday Poll: May – Favorite Dual-Market Author

Mon, 05/01/2017 - 07:00


Hello, Hub readers, and Happy Spring!

Last month we paid tribute to the explosion of incredible YA that hit shelves in 1999, and the leader of that seriously impressive pack, with 28% of the vote, was Laurie Halse Anderson’s groundbreaking work Speak. In a very close second, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban came in with 27%, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky was third with 14%. Tied for 4th with 9% each were two series-openers: Tamora Pierce’s First Test (Protector of the Small series) and Louise Rennison’s Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging (Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series). Next were Fruits Basket Vol. 1 by Natsuki Takaya with 6%, Lemony Snicket’s (aka Danial Handler’s) The Bad Beginning (the first book in the Series of Unfortunate Events) and Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen with 3% each, and Walter Dean Myers’ award-winning Monster, with 2%. My mind is still boggled that all of these influential and acclaimed works came out the same year.

This month, we’re asking about your favorite authors who write for multiple target audiences (and yes, let’s take a moment to acknowledge that most authors – and librarians! – would argue that “target audience” is a marketing term, not a creative one. The real target audience is anyone for whom the work will make a difference, right?). I’m always curious when someone whose writing I’ve enjoyed publishes something in a spectacularly different vein. The following authors all have work that has been categorized as YA, and other work that has been classified as Adult (as always, let me know in the comments if you have a favorite I haven’t listed):

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

— Carly Pansulla, currently (re)reading The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

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Books to Read Based on Your Divergent Faction

Thu, 04/27/2017 - 07:00

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you know that Veronica Roth’s new book, Carve the Mark, has been released and fans are super excited! For new fans, this book might bring them to Veronica’s original phenomenon, Divergent.

In honor of this I have compiled a list of what books you should read based on your Divergent faction. Don’t know your faction? Take a quiz here!

Get your pens and papers or Goodreads account ready, here are some books you’ll love (hopefully!) based on your faction. And if you’re divergent, your list will be even longer!


Erudite: The Intelligent

  • The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

11-year-old Flavia de Luce, who dreams of being a chemist and has a passion for poison, must clear her father’s name in a murder case. By gathering clues, Flavia is able to tie two deaths together and investigate new suspects. This book is perfect for an Erudite because Flavia is tenacious and smart and uses her incredible depth of knowledge to crack the case.

Six unlikely outcasts band together, with the brilliant criminal Kaz leading the way. They must break into a fortress that is known to be impenetrable, without their pasts getting in the way. Six of Crows is great for an Erudite reader as all six characters have to use their smarts and skills to pull off the heist of a lifetime.

Kestrel’s Commander father wants her to join the military or get married, but she has other plans. When she saves the life of a slave, she discovers he is much more than he seems and her new path is set in motion. Kestrel, just like an Erudite, uses her wits and strategic planning to find her way out of difficult situations.

Dauntless: The Brave

After being sexually assaulted at cheer camp, Hermione, must not only come to terms with what happened and face her town, but is determined to find out what happened to her. Like a member of Dauntless, Hermione stands up for herself and fights for what is right.

Katniss takes the place of her young sister in a deadly government officiated event called The Hunger Games. Little does she know that she will find she is fighting for more than her life. Katniss goes to the forefront of a battle not only for her sister, but for her country, making her a natural fit in Dauntless.

Alina grows up thinking she is a perfectly normal girl, until one day she discovers a power she kept hidden deep inside. From then on she is hunted, as she is the only one that can save her world from total darkness. Just like when Tris joins Dauntless, Alina discovers an inner strength that she didn’t know she possessed, and uses it to change her world.

Abnegation: The Selfless

Most of her life Minnow has lived in a commune with her family, but she soon learns the truth about the outside world. This sets her down a path of sacrifices that she, like a true member of Abnegation, must make in order to save the ones she loves.

Liesel finds herself in a dangerous situation during World War II, where she discovers what she must do not only for herself, but for others. While maybe not born into Abnegation, Liesel would find herself choosing to be in this group after learning what is it like to help others.

  • The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins

All of Aerity’s father has told her that she may marry for love and will not choose for her. When a new evil threatens their kingdom, Aerity must make hard decisions in order to save them all. Selfless to the core, Aerity is a prime example of an Abnegation member, as she gives up her dreams for her family and her country.

Candor: The Honest

A year in the life, told in diary format, of a senior in high school. Gabi goes through everything from finding her first love, to helping a pregnant friend, to being suspended for the one and only time. Her voice is honest and true, like any member of Candor, and this book has something almost everyone can relate to.

This is the story of Noah and Jude, twins with deep, dark secrets. Told in alternating voices of two spans of time, they come to terms with their lies, and learn what needs to be done. Both Jude and Noah have to learn to not only be honest with each other, but with themselves, proving to be true candidates for the Candor faction.

Romy has been telling the truth about the police chief’s son, Kellan, all summer, but no one will believe her. When a girl goes missing and another is assaulted, Romy must stand up for herself and her truth. Like a true member of Candor, Romy speaks her truth and stands up for what she believes in.

Amity: The Peaceful

  • Winter by Marissa Meyer

Winter, the fourth main character in Marissa Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles phenomenon, is as pure as you would expect a retelling of Snow White to be. Like all members of Amity, Winter is peaceful and kind, but at what cost to herself?

  • Brazen by Katherine Longshore

Henry Fitzroy “Fitz”, the illegitimate son of Henry VIII, and Mary Howard, cousin of Queen Catherine Howard, are married, but are limited by the rules of the court. Is it worth living in harmony with the king, or better to fight for their love? Like a member of Amity Mary works to keep the peace in her home and her country.

Doug comes from a family of fighters. When he moves to his new town he must not only keep the peace with his family, but with the town as whole. When you’re instantly, incorrectly, branded as a troublemaker, can you break out of that mold? A true Amity will enjoy the story of Doug as he strives to keep the peace between not only his own family, but between his family and his town.

What faction are you a part of? Or are you divergent? Do you think these books fit your faction?

— Tegan Anclade, currently reading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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