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Is This Just Fantasy?: Celebrating The Hub’s Favorite Women In Fantasy Fiction

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 07:00

March is Women’s History Month. Woohoo! In that spirit, I wanted to dedicate this edition of Is This Just Fantasy? to the fabulous women of fantasy fiction and I asked my fellow Hub bloggers to join in the fun.  Here are some of The Hub’s favorite female characters in young adult fantasy fiction.

Alanna of Trebond from Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce (2013 Margaret A. Edwards Award)

“The heroine who comes immediately to my mind (and no doubt others as well!) is Alanna.  So strong, brave, courageous and while in the first novel she must hide her sex and pretend to be a boy, I really loved how ultimately she embraced being a woman as the series evolved.” – Sarah Debraski

Princess Cimorene from Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede

“After first encountering Cimorene in Dealing with Dragons, I was hooked. She is a princess who is bored with everything that goes with being a princess. She wants nothing to do with the not-very-bright princes she encounters and is so eager for more excitement in her life that she leaves her home to find a dragon to ‘capture’ her – the only acceptable alternative for a princess. Once she finds her dragon, she becomes the dragon’s chef and librarian (a fact I had forgotten until I recently reread this book). With Cimorene, Wrede turns princess stereotypes on their head and creates a funny, compelling, and exciting protagonist.” – Carli Spina 

Sabriel from Sabriel by Garth Nix

“My vote is for Sabriel! I am re-reading (listening to Tim Curry’s great narration in audiobook!) Sabriel by Garth Nix right now and I am remembering how great of a character she is. She’s smart but willing to learn; capable with a compassionate personality; and emotional in the best possible way. She – and Lirael in the next two books – are favorite female characters who are strong and well-drawn without being the one-note ‘strong female characters.’ ” – Anna Tschetter

Janet from Tam Lin by Pamela Dean

“Janet is smart, curious, confident. She’s unapologetically intellectual, as well as snarky, judgemental, and impatient, but she’s also very aware of her own shortcomings, and she’s honest, kind, and supportive. Janet forms believable and complicated friendships (especially with her roommates); navigates the complexities of boyfriends, libido, and 1970s birth control; keeps her grades up; and triumphs in a life-or-death struggle with the Queen of Elfland.” – Julie Bartel

Elisa from The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (2013 YALSA Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults)

“The other fantasy heroine who I admire and find so amazing is Elisa from Rae Carson’s The Girl of Fire and Thorns. Having always been coddled and sheltered she really is thrown into adventure and danger unprepared and has to work to find her inner strength. I loved watching her become a fierce courageous leader (and loving woman as well) in this trilogy.”   – Sarah Debraski

Val from Valiant by Holly Black (2006 YALSA Best Books for Young Adults)

“Val is a runaway who gets mixed up in the faerie world and I really like her development from a confused runaway to a strong fighter in Black’s novel.  This character has resonated with me, even though I read the novel years ago.  There is something awesome about Val and her willingness to leave a bad situation and try to survive on the streets, and then, when she learns about the faerie world, her fight to survive and fight to protect her new family!  Just writing this makes me want to go back and read Val’s story again!” – Colleen Seisser

Rose Hathaway from Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead (2008 YALSA Teens’ Top Ten)

Rose is just kick ass and I love it! She has the fighting skills (some from her Dhampir training and some just instinct), strength of character, and sharp tongue that every female warrior should have.  Her development through the course of Mead’s Vampire Academy series is a fantastic one and makes her such an interesting character to read and relate to.” -Colleen Seisser

Katsa from Graceling by Kristin Cashore (2009 YALSA Teens’ Top Ten, 2009 Morris Award Finalist, 2009 YALSA Best Books for Young Adults)

“I’m sure I won’t be the only one to say this, but I LOVE Katsa from Graceling. Kristin Cashore created a character that lives in a fantasy world, but faces personal decisions that mirror real world situations. She is a strong, smart female who finds a way to balance her independence with her desire for friendships, family, and romance.”    – Jessica Lind

“I’m probably not alone in that I really liked Katsa in Graceling. I liked how the book had adventure, romance, special powers, a journey, survival — a bit of everything! I really felt Katsa’s internal dilemmas regarding her Grace and what is expected of women.” – Becky O’Neil

Bitterblue from Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore (2013 YALSA Best Books for Young Adults)

“Not as flashy as Katsa (whom I loved too), Bitterblue has a lot of responsibility for someone so young.  She has no parents and a pretty traumatic past.  Yet she is brave and moral and never gives up.” – Tara Kehoe

Blue Sargent from The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater  (2013 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2014 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults)

“I have been in awe of Blue and her fascinating matriarchal family since the first sentence of The Raven Boys. Blue is integral to the plot of the entire series; she is no mere tagalong. Blue’s ability to influence other powers still leaves her powerless at times. For her strengths  and her weaknesses, Blue is a heroine I’d proudly idealize. I also love her snarky dialogue as she verbally spars with other characters rather than passively float along in someone else’s story.” – Laura Perenic

Isaboe from Finnikin of The Rock by Melina Marchetta (2011 YALSA Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults)

“Isaboe is clearly the hero of Melina Marchetta’s Finnikin of The Rock.  While Finnikin tells the story and is important too, it’s Isaboe who saves Lumatere.  She is strong, smart, and has a sense of humor.   Isaboe isn’t afraid to be ugly (as she makes herself in the beginning of the book to hide her true identity), or to fall in love, or to talk about her period.” – Tara Kehoe

Princess Tilda from Handbook for Dragon Slayers by Merrie Haskell (2014 Schneider Family Book Award Winner)

“Princess Tilda is a fairly unusual type of princess, at least in modern popular fiction: she has a disability that has not only a physical impact on her life due to the pain she encounters on a regular basis, but also because of the way that it makes the people of her kingdom view her with distrust and suspicion. At the start of the book, Tilda wants nothing more than to be left alone to become a scribe copying books, but over the course of the story she gets swept up into a mission to hunt dragons and along the way comes to a new understanding of herself and her responsibilities.”    – Carli Spina

Who are some of your favorite women in fantasy fiction?

-Kelly Dickinson, currently reading Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

The Monday Poll: Alarming First Lines in YA Lit

Sun, 03/15/2015 - 23:40

Good morning, Hub readers!

In celebration of Teen Tech Week, last week’s poll asked you to choose your favorite YA lit title featuring current technology. 45% of you voted for TTYL by Lauren Myracle, and 19% of you voted for The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler. 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 you to tell us which first line from YA lit has you on edge– which one grabs you and makes you feel absolutely compelled to read on? Choose from the options below, or suggest another title in the comments!

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

2015 Hub Reading Challenge Check-In #5

Sun, 03/15/2015 - 07:00

Not signed up for YALSA’s 2015 Hub Reading Challenge? Read the official rules and sign up on the original post. Anything you’ve read since February 9 counts, so sign up now!

I was searching for something in WordPress, clicked on the wrong tag, and found myself reading a 2014 Hub Reading Challenge check-in post I wrote from just about this time last year.  In it I mostly talked about how much I’d loved the Marcus Sedgwick book I’d just finished, which is funny because I was totally going to use this post to explain how reading Sedgwick’s Ghosts of Heaven had pulled me away from challenge titles completely this week, in between gushing about how brilliant I think it is.  I’m not even sorry I picked it up, though it’s not on the list, of course.  Maybe next year?

In any case, the check marks on my list have not multiplied by much since my last check-in, but I’m up to 9 so I’m not too worried.  I did re-read Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki’s This One Summer so that I could argue about it on the Internet with the details fresh in my mind, and I liked it even more this time around.  I’m not the only one who does that, right?

Speaking of social media, don’t forget to use the hashtag #hubchallenge, and please join us over at the 2015 Goodreads Hub Reading Challenge group if you’d like to talk (or argue, or whatever!) about what you’re reading.

Remember, you have until 11:59 PM EST on June 21st to finish at least 25 challenge books.  These weekly check-in posts are a great place to track your progress, see how your fellow participants are faring, and get feedback on various titles, so don’t forget to read the comments and chime in!  If you haven’t already, don’t forget to post the Participant’s Badge on your blog, website, or email signature, and, as always, if you have any questions or problems, let us know in the comments or via email.

If you are a particularly fast reader and have already completed the challenge by reading or listening to 25 titles from the list of eligible books, be sure to fill out the form below so we can send you your Challenge Finisher badge, get in touch to coordinate your reader’s response and, perhaps best of all, to notify you if you win our exciting grand prize drawing! Be sure to use an email you check frequently and do not fill out this form until you have completed the challenge by reading 25 titles. 

Ultimate Pi Day Eve

Fri, 03/13/2015 - 07:00

Image via flickr user koka_sexton

Happy day-before-Pi-Day! You may be familiar with Pi Day (March 14 or 3.14) from the internet or from Carli Spina’s 2013 post. But did you know that tomorrow is an extra-special version? Math fans, it is our once-in-a-lifetime chance to revel in Ultimate Pi Day — that is, the day, the year, and even the second can align to the first few numbers of our favorite constant. Be alert at 9:26 a.m. and 53 seconds for the collective squee.

Book lovers can celebrate Pi Day in a couple of different ways. The most obvious, of course, is via math-related books. I’ve written a couple posts on some favorite titles, and the good news is, there are even more to check out! The latest ones I’ve found have an interesting theme: the math prodigy.

  • In Nearly Gone, by Elle Cosimano, it’s Nearly Boswell trying to stay one step ahead of a serial killer by solving cryptic math- and science-themed clues.
  • In On A Clear Day, by Walter Dean Myers, it’s Dahlia Grillo joining a group to resist multinational corporations in the year 2035.
  • In In Real Life, by Lawrence Tabak, it’s Seth Gordon, who is so good at videogaming that he’s invited to play professionally — which means a move to Korea for training.
  • In Running Scared, by Beverley Terrell-Deutsch, it’s Gregory using numbers and equations to avoid thinking about the car accident that killed his father.
  • In The Cipher, by John C. Ford, it’s Ben as the geeky best friend of the charismatic protagonist, Smiles — but Ben has the genius code-cracking ability that sets the plot in motion.

The other way to celebrate Pi Day? Pie, of course! My search for teen books about pie came up with precious few, other than the peach pies in Chasing Jupiter and the “dangerous pie” in Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie (although I’ll leave it up to the jury if we really want to count a pie made from a “zesty blend of coffee grounds, raw eggs and their smashed shells, Coke, uncooked bacon, and three Matchbox racing cars”). Previous Hub posts have covered the plethora of baking fiction in terms of sweet treats and delicious desserts, and no one can argue with the trending cupcake.

Since baking really is a form of math, and math-related books seem to be on the upswing, perhaps more teen fiction about pies is a trend that’s just around the corner. Happy Ultimate Pi(e) Day to one and all!

–Becky O’Neil, currently reading Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel

Tweets of the Week: March 13th

Fri, 03/13/2015 - 07:00

Happy Friday the 13th, Hub Readers! While you are trying to stay one step ahead of those pesky people in hockey masks, be sure to check out these tweets of the week with news about the upcoming movie sequel to the Maze Runner, Ellen Hopkins & Night Vale!  In case you missed it…I’m here to compile it all for you!

Books & Reading





— Traci Glass, currently reading The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming

Cinderella Retellings

Thu, 03/12/2015 - 07:00

With a new movie of Cinderella coming out, it’s a great time to round up some book adaptations.


Ash by Malinda Lo (2010 Morris finalist and 2014 Popular Paperbacks for YA Top Ten)
Ash lost both her mother and her father. Now she’s stuck in a world with an evil step mother and two wicked step-sisters. She finds solace in the fairy world and with her new friendship with the King’s Huntress. Can she find happiness on her own terms?

Before Midnight by Cameron Dokey
Cendrillon’s mother dies in childbirth. The death of her mother forces her father to abandon her, leaving her to the care of the housekeeper. Her father remarries and sends his wife and two daughters back to the cottage, without telling her about his daughter. Everything changes once the truth comes out.

Bewitching by Alex Flinn
Kendra can’t help coming to someone’s rescue, even though she shouldn’t, but Emma really needs her help. Emma’s stepsister isn’t the sweet girl she portrays. Instead Lisette steals everything Emma holds dear. Can Kendra help Emma?  

Bound by Donna Jo Napoli
Xing Xing’s father dies leaving her alone with her stepmother who only cares for securing an advantageous marraige for her own daughter. Xing Xing finds her mother’s green silk gown and gold slippers. She sneaks out and wears them to a festival where she meets a handsome but unconventional prince.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer (2012 Teens’ Top Ten and 2013 Best Fiction for YA and 2013 Reader’s Choice Book List)
The first in the Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder’s part human and part robot. Cinder doesn’t remember what happened to her before the age of 11. A stranger wanders into her station at the marketplace looking for a mechanic. To her surprise, it’s the Prince in disguise. As a plague sweeps through, Cinder might hold the answers to the future and her past.

Cinderella Ninja Warrior by Maureen McGowan
Cinderella’s held captive by her step-mother.  She can take care of herself, perfecting her skills in secret, waiting for the day until she can escape.  A ball will be held with two contests: one beauty and one magical.  Cinderella doesn’t care about the beauty contest or meeting the prince, she simply wants to win the magical competition for the wizard training opportunity. She’s determined to win her freedom.

Cindy Ella by Robin Palmer
Cindy isn’t popular, but her social life goes from nonexistent to outcast after she writes an anti-prom letter to the school newspaper. She wishes the newspaper would focus on more important issues.  With three people in her corner, Cindy isn’t about to back down. Can she still find her happily ever after without attending prom?

Dream Factory by Brad Barkley and Heather Helper
When the actors in Disney World go on strike, Ella’s hired to become the next Cinderella.  Ella marries the prince every afternoon at 3 pm. But it isn’t the prince she wants to date, it’s Luke.

Just Ella by Margaret Petterson Haddix (2005 Popular Paperbacks for YA)
Ella went to the ball and married her prince – but life afterwards isn’t happily ever after. The royals try to mold her into a perfect princess with endless rules on etiquette and protocol.  How can she escape this life and find happiness on her own terms.

Add in your favorite Cinderella tales in the comments!

~ Jennifer Rummel currently reading The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer