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The Monday Poll: Bring ALL the tissues!

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 01:04

photo by flickr user xctmx

Good morning, Hub readers!

Last week, we asked you to choose the worst best friend in YA lit. Slytherins beware: Draco from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling came in first with 29% of the vote. Next was Ali from Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars series with 23%, followed by Shay from the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld with 20% of the vote. But they’re all just misunderstood, right?! (Hmmmm…) In addition to your votes, reader Adele suggested Holly from Fiona Wood’s Wildlife. It comes out in September, so we’ll have to wait and see! You can see detailed results for all of our previous polls in the Polls Archive. Thanks to all of you who voted and commented!

This week, we have a simple- but actually very difficult- question for you. The movie trailer for If I Stay, based on Gayle Forman’s novel of the same name, was released last week, and between this movie and the theatrical release of The Fault in Our Stars, based on the John Green novel, it looks like this summer is going to be emotionally tough on us YA lit fans. We know both books are outstanding: If I Stay was named a Teens’ Top Ten pick in 2010 and The Fault in Our Stars was a Teens’ Top Ten pick in 2012. Based on the trailers, both movies based on these beloved books are shaping up to be amazing. So what we want to know is:  which movie is going to make you cry harder?

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

2014 Hub Reading Challenge Check-in #11

Sun, 04/20/2014 - 07:00

Not signed up for YALSA’s 2014 Hub Reading Challenge? Read the official rules and sign up on the original post. Anything you’ve read since February 3 counts, so sign up now!

Happy Sunday! I am loving all the comments on the books you’ve all read and what your favorites are. So excited to see love for Boxers and Saints! Two of my favorites from last year. I put it in the hands of almost everyone and even had the children’s librarian use it as supplemental material for her book club!

What books have surprised you the most in your readings?  If you haven’t finished or even signed up yet, don’t worry! You still have plenty of time. The challenge ends on June 22.

As I said before, I’m not participating in the challenge this year, but I am still following along on social media by checking the Goodreads 2014 Hub Challenge Group and the #hubchallenge hashtag. We’ve collected some tweets from your fellow participants– join the conversation if you haven’t already!

[View the story "The 2014 #hubchallenge" on Storify]

Keep reading, and remember, you have plenty of time to get through this challenge; it ends at 11:59PM EST on June 22nd. Please keep reading and tracking your progress and check back here each Sunday to let us know how you are doing and to see how other folks are doing.

If you are 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.

Aftermath: How YA Novels Deal With Shootings

Sun, 04/20/2014 - 07:00

photo by flickr user Andrew_Writer

I began preparing this post last spring in observance of the Columbine High School tragedy, which occurred on April 20, 1999. Then the Boston Marathon bombing occurred, so I held off on posting because I felt that there were too many fresh wounds for people to read such a post. And I had my own issues, because I lived in Boston. But now I think it’s important to write this post, because sadly, these events occur far too regularly for me to find the perfect time to post, where it’s not too recent but not too far from everyone’s minds. And it has already been 15 years since Columbine, and yet there is no shortage of similar events to fill that space.

When it comes to Columbine, today’s teens mostly have no memory of this event, which may even have occurred before they were born. And unlike tragedies of the past few years, where we have had texting, tweeting, and news streaming online to keep us abreast of events as they unfold, many of us only knew about Columbine after it happened. This brings up a lot of thoughts about safety, over-exposure, and security – if we all have Internet access in most places, is it our duty to notify others about emergencies as they take place? Does that impede the measures of emergency personnel trying to get the situation under control, or does it help more people get to safety? Is checking Twitter for news all the time healthy, does it desensitize us, or does it depress us? I recall my experience of living in Boston on the day of the manhunt; after a good four hours of watching the same five news reports over and over again, I had to turn it off, watch some fun TV, and make snacks with a friend, because it was simply too exhausting. Then again, having so much access to news forces us to engage with current events and consider how they affect our lives.

So here is a simple list of YA novels that have attempted to unravel and understand how teens deal with violent occurrences – leading up to them, during them, and after them. No commentary, just publisher copy and a Goodreads link. I hope these can be helpful, meaningful, or healing for you.

And We Stay (2014) by Jenny Hubbard
“When high school senior Paul Wagoner walks into his school library with a stolen gun, he threatens his girlfriend Emily Beam, then takes his own life. In the wake of the tragedy, an angry and guilt-ridden Emily is shipped off to boarding school in Amherst, Massachusetts, where she encounters a ghostly presence who shares her name. The spirit of Emily Dickinson and two quirky girls offer helping hands, but it is up to Emily to heal her own damaged self.”

Bruised (2013) by Sarah Skilton
“Imogen has always believed that her black belt in Tae Kwon Do made her stronger than everyone else–more responsible, more capable. But when she witnesses a holdup in a diner, she freezes. The gunman is shot and killed by the police. And it’s all her fault.

Now she’s got to rebuild her life without the talent that made her special and the beliefs that made her strong. If only she could prove herself in a fight–a real fight–she might be able to let go of the guilt and shock. She’s drawn to Ricky, another witness to the holdup, both romantically and because she believes he might be able to give her the fight she’s been waiting for.”

Crash and Burn (2013) by Michael Hassan (2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults)
“On April 21, 2008, Steven “Crash” Crashinsky saved more than a thousand people when he stopped his classmate David Burnett from taking their high school hostage armed with assault weapons and high-powered explosives. You likely already know what came after for Crash: the nationwide notoriety, the college recruitment, and, of course, the book deal. What you might not know is what came before: a story of two teens whose lives have been inextricably linked since grade school, who were destined, some say, to meet that day in the teachers’ lounge of Meadows High. And what you definitely don’t know are the words that Burn whispered to Crash right as the siege was ending, a secret that Crash has never revealed.

Until now.”

Hate List (2009) by Jennifer Brown (2012 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults)
“Five months ago, Valerie Leftman’s boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets.

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.”

Endgame (2006) by Nancy Garden
“A new town, a new school, a new start. That’s what fourteen-year-old Gray Wilton believes as he chants, “It’s gonna be better, gonna be better here.” But it doesn’t take long for Gray to realize that nothing’s going to change–there are bullies in every school, and he’s always their punching bag. Their brutal words, physical abuse, and emotional torture escalate until Gray feels trapped in a world where he has no control, no support systems, and no way out–until the day he enters the halls of Greenford High School with his father’s semiautomatic in hand.”

Project X (2004) by Jim Shepard
“In the wilderness of junior high, Edwin Hanratty is at the bottom of the food chain. His teachers find him a nuisance. His fellow students consider him prey. And although his parents are not oblivious to his troubles, they can’t quite bring themselves to fathom the ruthless forces that demoralize him daily.

Sharing in these schoolyard indignities is his only friend, Flake. Branded together as misfits, their fury simmers quietly in the hallways, classrooms, and at home, until an unthinkable idea offers them a spectacular and terrifying release.”

Shooter (2004) by Walter Dean Myers (2005 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults)
“Cameron: ‘Deep inside, you know that whoever gets up in your face gets there because he knows you′re nothing, and he knows that you know it too.’

Carla: ‘What I′m trying to do is to get by — not even get over, just get by.’

Leonard: ‘I have bought a gaw-juss weapon. It lies beneath my bed like a secret lover, quiet, powerful, waiting to work my magic.’

Statement of Fact: 17-year-old white male found dead in the aftermath of a shooting incident at Madison High School in Harrison County.

Conclusion: Death by self-inflicted wound.”

Give a Boy a Gun (2002) by Todd Strasser (2002 Audiobooks for Young Adults)
“For as long as they can remember, Brendan and Gary have been mercilessly teased and harassed by the jocks who rule Middletown High. But not anymore. Stealing a small arsenal of guns from a neighbor, they take their classmates hostage at a school dance. In the panic of this desperate situation, it soon becomes clear that only one thing matters to Brendan and Gary: revenge.”

Drive-by (1997) by Lynne Ewing
“‘Jimmy always told me there were only two kinds of gangbangers: Those who were dead and those who were going to die. Joining a gang doesn’t make sense to Jimmy…’

Jimmy is dead now – gunned down in front of his little sister, Mina, and his brother, Tito. And Tito is left wondering: Was Jimmy in a gang after all? Ice Breaker Joe and Lamar think so. They say Jimmy was skimming their drug money. And if the missing cash isn’t returned, Tito may have to pay – with his life.”

“If any good thing came out of Columbine, it was the elevation of attention given to this epidemic problem and the very rapid emergence of a subgenre of young adult literature that continues to explore the many aspects of this issue with insight and empathy” -Michael Cart, Young Adult Literature: From Romance to Realism

–Hannah Gómez, currently reading The Dark Between by Sonia Gensler

Tweets of the Week: April 18

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 07:00

Here are some tweets you might have missed this week from the world of YA lit:


Book Trailers

‏@HarperChildrens: Trailer alert! Share the video for @jawhitebooks‘ spellbinding tale THE THICKETY: A PATH BEGINS, out next month! …


@TLT16: Chloe Grace Moretz will be killing aliens in ‘The 5th Wave’ | EW
@PWKidsBookshelf: Film rights to Olivia Kidney novels acquired by Moonbot Studios; will be live-action with animation sequences
@Somers_Library: ROOM by Emma Donoghue Headed to the Movies
‏@PWKidsBookshelf: ‘Catching Fire’ sweeps MTV Movie Awards
‏@eonline: MTV Movie Awards: Videos You Didn’t See on TV With Shailene Woodley, Chrissy Teigen and More!
@gayleforman: Are you ready for #AllTheFeels? Then watch the first #IfIStayMovieTrailer here- …


Want to win OUT OF THIS WORLD Lunar Chronicles swag? Join the Resistance and help #SaveCRESS
@4everYA: Author @MichaelaMacColl stops by FYA to discuss literary heroines and give away a signed copy of ALWAYS EMILY! …


@TLT16: When talking about sexual violence it is important to remember that boys can be victims too . . . …
@TLT16: For National Library Week: Libraries Are the Beating Hearts of Communities …
‏@LibraryofCT: Author Judy Blume on the value of libraries  #NLW14 #LivesChange
@sljournal: SLJ’s two new awards: School Librarian of the Year Award and Build Something Bold! @joycevalenza
‏@Scholastic: “Regular library visits inevitably lead to more #reading.” Great @HuffingtonPost list about going to the #library
@Scholastic: It’s National Library Week, so why not take a virtual tour of America’s public libraries? Great photos from @npr: …


@catagator: Cover double, triple, and formerly quadruple. One stock image, four YA books: …
@catagator: Expectations for girls in YA fiction, misleading reviews, and sexuality …
@catagator: Are teen girls seeing themselves in what they read? @yaloveblog surveys her high school students: …
@TLT16: For today’s Middle Grade Monday @RobinReads is struggling with the realities of working w/kids in poverty …
@TLT16: GLBTQ lit for middle grade and ya readers …

Just for Fun

@Lisagwray: You asked and author @Jkagawa answered!  via @goodreads @HarlequinTEEN
@WorldBookDayUK: “@PaperAndCup: Celebrating @WorldBookDayUK today in #shoreditch with #literarysandwiches” LOVE this!
‏@PWKidsBookshelf: J.K. Rowling writes Quidditch match reports for Pottermore | Guardian
@meganmccafferty: Ask! Authors! Anything! Ep. 2 with @halseanderson goes live Monday! What’s YOUR question for Laurie Halse Anderson? Tweet me! #AAALHA

~ Jennifer Rummel, currently reading Greetings from the Graveyard by Kate Klise

It Really Happened: YA Fiction Based on True Events

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 07:00

I wanted to write this mostly because of one YA writer who has begun the trend of basing her YA fiction books on real crimes. Initially, I thought I would focus on the increasing number of YA historical fiction books coming out that are based on true crime stories like the Jack the Ripper rip-off killings in Maureen Johnson’s Shades of London series. But, I realized that her books aren’t historical fiction, they are contemporary novels that contain events based on true historical events.  So, I will focus here mostly on contemporary YA fiction with elements based on true historical events – with a few exceptions (I can’t resist a book based on a true story where a woman pretends to be a man and gets away with it).

A Soldier’s Story: the Incredible True Story of Sarah Edmonds. A Civil War Hero by Marissa Moss (2012, pbk. 2014) is   is based on the true story of nineteen-year-old Sarah Emma Edmonds, who masqueraded as a man named Frank Thompson during the Civil War. Her adventures include serving as a nurse on the battlefield and spying for the Union Army, and being captured by (and escaping from) the Confederates. Sarah narrates her riveting story as she deals with the dangers of living a lie and the horrors of war and even the complications of romance while posing as a man.

The book includes real photographs taken from the Civil War. Moss states in the epilogue that the bones of the story are all true; she used actual names of the soldiers who served with Sarah and she used Sarah’s actual diary and that of others as primary source materials. She also says that of the over 400 women who dressed a man during the war, most shared with secret with loved ones. Only Sarah was known to have lived as a man before enlisting and the only one to be recognized by acts of Congress as an honorably discharged soldier.

Another intriguing historical fiction YA book that I like is Makiia Lucier’s debut historical fiction book, A Death –Struck Year (2014). It vividly describes the impact of the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918. Seventeen-year-old Cleo of Portland, Oregon signs up to volunteer with the Red Cross to help but struggles to help the sick and dying as she wonders if she’ll suffer the same fate as so many others. At the same time, she hopes for a future with a handsome medical student and war vet named Edmund.   This is based on the real-life pandemic considered the most devastating in recorded world history and includes extensive source notes. An afterword explains the Spanish flu phenomenon and places it in the historical context of the early 20th century.

If you are of a certain age, you will be very familiar with the inspiration for several of these other books. I used to say to people that I was Sharon, like Sharon Tate, as a way to remind them of my name. Some of you might know who that was. Younger people and teens will probably have no idea, but Sharon Tate’s name is synonymous with the Manson Family cult.  While that’s ancient history to many of you, it’s still very memorable to those of us who were around when her name made the news in 1969. The author I wanted to highlight is Micol Ostow because her recent books all focus on horrific events that are based on actual crimes.

Ostow’s book family (2011) is about a girl named Melinda, 17, who leaves her fractured family life behind and sets out for San Francisco. She meets a handsome, charismatic man named Henry who offers her love, a bright new consciousness and, best of all, a family. But, this family, while appearing to be everything Mel craves, isn’t all its cracked up to be. They share everything, including their chores, beliefs and even their bodies. If Mel really wants to belong she has to join in and do everything they do. Is she is willing to go this far and at what cost? Told in verse, this is a fascinating look at cult dynamics that’s made even more chilling if you recognize that it’s loosely based on the 1969 Manson Family murders. It also takes an unflinching look at people who are born broken, and the lengths they’ll go to make themselves whole again.

Ostow’s upcoming novel, Amity,  (publishing 8/26/2014) is a very scary horror story, based on the real Amityville Horror story from the 1970s that is told in parallel narratives by a boy, Connor, 17, and by a girl, Gwen who both live in an evil house called Amity ten years apart. The house terrified Connor ten years ago with nightmares and strange sounds and visions and now it does the same with Gwen. The publisher states that, “Amity isn’t just a house. She is a living force, bent on manipulating her inhabitants to her twisted will. She will use Connor and Gwen to bring about a bloody end as she’s done before.  As she’ll do again.” Ostow’s  YA thriller is based on the real-life story of a family named Lutz who moved to a house in Amityville on Long Island in 1975 a year after a man shot and killed six members of his family there. The Lutzes knew this but moved in anyway, only to leave after 28 days because they claimed to have been terrorized by paranormal activity in the house. The case was the basis for the adult book The Amityville Horror: A True Story by Jay Anson (1977) that spawned a series of movies between 1979 and 2013. From the moment the book was published, there has been controversy about its accuracy, but, despite the lack of corroborative evidence, it remains a fascinating legend to this day.

My Book of Life by Angel by Martine Leavitt (2012) (2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults) is about 16-year-old Angel, who is grieving the death of her mother, and starts to shoplift shoes at the mall, fantasizing that she’s living a good life. Soon she falls prey to a pimp who buys her meals and tells her she’s pretty, eventually offering her a home in Vancouver, hooking her on crack, and forcing her into prostitution. This is based on real events of prostitutes who were murdered in Vancouver in the 80s and Leavitt honors them by listing their names in end of the book.

One book I’m really dying to read is Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman, coming out next Tuesday. It’s a fictionalized story of Adolph Hitler’s niece in WWII Germany. According to an interview from Jan. 21, 2014 with Anne by Carol Baldwin on Carol’s blog, Anne said she’s always been fascinated by World War II and after she read the book Geli, by Ronald Hayman, about Hitler and his beloved half-niece, she couldn’t get Geli out of her head. She says, “The lure of writing about a girl ensconced in the Nazis’ hyper-masculine, violent world was irresistible. I needed the freedom of having a fictional main character, though, so Gretchen Müller was born. But how, I wondered, can Gretchen figure out what the Nazis really stand for? How can she break free? Once I had my answers, I started writing.”

In the end, I realized there are more historical YA books with a real true-crime element than I’d originally thought.What other books have I missed in this trend?

-Sharon Rawlins, currently reading Divided We Fall by Trent Reedy and listening to Jennifer  Nielsen’s The Shadow Throne: Book 3 of the Ascendance Trilogy


YALSA’s 2014 Teens’ Top Ten Nominations Announced!

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 07:00

Put your party hats on– it’s Celebrate Teen Literature Day!

This is a great day for YA lit fans, because not only is it an opportunity for us to spread the word about how much we love books for teens, it also brings the announcement of this year’s Teens’ Top Ten nominations!

The Teens’ Top Ten is a “teen choice” list where every title is nominated and voted on by teens. Voting will start on August 15 and run until Teen Read Week, during which the winners will be announced. For YA lit gifs, info, and fun all year long, be sure to follow the Teens’ Top Ten tumblr.

And now… the nominated titles for the 2014 Teens’ Top Ten list!

Read on for the annotated list of titles (also available in a handy PDF for easy printing)…

  • Arnett, Mindee. The Nightmare Affair. Tor Teen. (9780765333339).
    Dusty Everhart a Nightmare, (literally!), has been trying to escape the shadow of her mother’s reputation, and one night, while dream-feeding, she sees the crime scene of a murder victim who attends her high school, a school for supernatural children. When she arrives back on campus, she finds, to her horror, that the dream had come true. Now she must use dreams to find the killer and save victims-to-be in order to stop an ancient darkness from returning.
  • Banks, Anna. Of Triton. Macmillan/Feiwel and Friends. (9781250003331).
    After Emma’s mother, the long lost Poseidon princess returns to the sea, the Syrena begin to bring her identity into question. When all hope seems lost, and appears the Royals have a revolution on their hands, Emma has the opportunity to use her Gift to save those that she loves. But at what cost will her choices bring to not only her, but also to those she considers her family.
  • Bardugo, Leigh. Siege and Storm. Macmillan/Henry Holt Books for Young Readers. (9780805094602).
    Alina, a sun summoner on the run from the evil Darkling, is searching for a way to increase her power and save the ones she loves. But as her power grows she falls deeper in the Darkling’s grasp and farther away from her best friend and love, Mal. When the time comes Alina must choose between her love, her power, or her lust for the Darkling and all of his power.
  • Block, Francesca Lia. Love In The Time Of Global Warming. Macmillan/Henry Holt Books for Young Readers. (9780805096279).
    Penelope believes she is the last person alive in the city of Los Angeles after a massive earthquake destroyed the majority of the earth. After encountering a group of survivors, however, she begins to have hope in whatever may be left of the world, whether it be love, trust, and, just maybe, her family. Modeled after Homer’s Odyssey, Pen goes on a post-apocalyptic journey filled with Giants and butterflies in an attempt to find her way home.
  • Charbonneau, Joelle. The Testing. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ( 9780547959108).
    Cia is chosen to participate in The Testing, a government program that will select the brightest graduates who show potential for becoming future leaders in this post-apocalyptic world. Cia’s excitement of being chosen soon dies when her father warns her of the experiences he faced when he was chosen. Cia must trust no one if she hopes to come back alive. However, will she be able to face the dark, unholy truth about the testing? One kept whether you leave… Or don’t?
  • Dashner, James. The Eye of Minds. Random House/Delacorte Press. (9780385741392).
    Michael is an average kid who plays video games, but this video game, the Virtnet, is different than others. You can die in it physically and mentally, and that happens to a girl named Tanya who rips out her core and commits suicide. Suddenly, Michael is whisked away by the designers of the VirtNet and is given a mission by them to find a cyber terrorist, named Kaine, who is suspected of killing gamers.
  • Edwards, Janet . Earth Girl. Prometheus Books /Pyr . (9780007443499).
    In 2788 humanity has developed technology that allows them to portal between many habitable worlds except for those are deemed “the handicapped”, those who are born with a one in a thousand chance of having  an immune system that cannot tolerate other planets. Jarra, a handicapped 18-year old student with a passion for history, creates a false identity for herself and enrolls in a college course for students from other planets in an attempt to get revenge for the way the handicapped are looked down upon.
  • Gleason, Colleen. The Clockwork Scarab. Chronicle Books. (9781452134680).
    The niece of Sherlock Holmes, the world’s first consulting detective, and the half-sister of Bram, the vampire slayer, are thrown together to find out why high society girls are being murdered and what a mechanical scarab beetle has to do with it.
  • Gray, Laurie. Maybe I Will. Luminis Books. (9781935462712).
    One life-altering, life-changing event which dramatically effected Sandy, and not in the good sort of life-changing events like winning the lottery or having a kid, will leave you thinking. Finding true friends and activities that allow Sandy to really be free and let off steam is all that keeps Sandy sane and is an important factor in putting Sandy’s life back together once again.
  • Henry, April. The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die. Henry Holt Books for Young Readers. (9780805095418).
    Cady wakes up in a up in a dark, torn apart cottage hearing someone tell another man to “finish her off.” To make things worse, not only does she not know why she’s in the cabin or why the men are trying to kill her, she also doesn’t remember who she is. Eventually, she escapes and meets up with Ty, a boy who is willing to help her even at the risk of losing his own life. Together they attempt to figure out what happened to make her lose her memory.
  • Howard, A. G. Splintered. ABRAMS/Amulet Books. (9781419704284).
    Alyssa, a girl already struggling with life in general, is pulled into something dark and mysterious. She follows in the footsteps of her ancestor, Alice, and goes down the rabbit hole to right the wrongs that Alice caused to cure her family of their “curse”. Instead of finding Lewis Carroll’s Beautiful wonderland she finds a dark and twisted version with monstrous creatures that aren’t as nice as the ones in the novel or as pretty.
  • Kate, Lauren. Teardrop. Random House. (9780375990694).
    Eureka has only ever cried once in her life and the one time she did, her mother told her to never cry again. Ever since then, she has never shed a tear; not even when her mother was killed in a tragic freak accident. Unbeknownst to Eureka, she was also supposed to die, but Ander couldn’t bring himself to let her die despite the threats that Eureka possesses because of her tears.
  • Konigsberg, Bill . Openly Straight. Scholastic. (9780545509893).
    Rafe has been out of the closet for years.  After transferring to an all-boys boarding school, however, he decides to keep his sexual orientation to himself.  But when he meets Ben, a teammate on his soccer team, he wonders if their friendship-turned-more is worth outing himself for.
  • Laybourne, Emmy. Monument 14: Sky On Fire. Macmillan/Feiwel & Friends. (9780312569044).
    When disaster strikes in the city of Monument, 14 kids are huddled in a Greenway store for shelter and survival. They decide their only chance of living through this nationwide disaster is to make their way to Denver International Airport where the military is evacuating people to safety. Will they make it alive or will they meet their doom like others have?
  • Richards, Natalie D. Six Months Later. Sourcebooks/Fire. (9781402285516).
    Chloe Spinnaker is an average student just barely making the grade. But one day spring day, after falling asleep in study hall, she wakes up to snow and an empty classroom. Six months of her life has passed and she has no clue what happened except that now she is popular and has lots of friends that is, except Maggie, the one true friend she had before everything changed. Bewildered by the sudden time lapse in her life, Chloe decides to embark on a mission where she stops at nothing to figure out what happened to her and to get her memories back.
  • Rowell, Rainbow. Eleanor & Park. Macmillan/St. Martin’s Griffin. (9781250031211).
    The year is 1986 when Eleanor arrives in town to live with her family and abusive step-father. It’s been a year since the last time she lived with them, and she doesn’t expect life to be any better. Park’s life, on the other hand, is going steady. He’s got a spot in the popular crowd and he’s about to get his driver’s license. But when the two meet on the bus, things change drastically. Even though they both know high school romances never last, they’re going to try everything they’ve got to make it work. But in end, will everything they have be enough?
  • Sales, Leila. This Song Will Save Your Life. Macmillan/Farrar, Straus and Giroux. (9780374351380).
    Elise Dembowski is a high school loser. After reaching the tip of the iceberg and facing suicidal thoughts just months before, Elise is searching desperately for a way out of her nearly friendless life. When she accidentally finds a dance club called Start, Elise’s life finally takes off as she meets new people, makes new memories, finds a new passion, and discovers herself.
  • Sanderson, Brandon. Steelheart. Random House/Delacorte Press.  (9780385743563).
    Ten years ago, Calamity came; a light in the sky that appeared one day and many believe that somehow it was connected to the rise of the Epics. These beings, once human, now have all kinds of amazing and dangerous powers that have enabled them to take over the world, and one could argue the most dangerous one is Steelheart. Able to bend the elements to his will and turn any non-living substance to steel, many say he’s invincible because they’ve never seen him bleed — except for David, who will stop at nothing to get his vengeance and see Steelheart bleed again.
  • Sanderson, Brandon. The Rithmatist. Tor Teen. (9780765320322).
    Joel wants to be a Rithmatist more than anything. Rithmatists have the power to bring two dimensional beings called Chalklings to life and defend against the wild chalkings that threaten to overcome the Rithmatists. Joel is student at Armedius Academy, a prestigious school where Rithmatists and wealthy children go to learn. When a string of kidnappings begin to occur Joel must gain assistance from the Rithmatists at Armedius Academy in order to bring order back to the academy.
  • Smith, Jennifer E. This is What Happy Looks Like. Little, Brown & Company. (9780316212823).
    Ellie is the girl from Middle-of-Nowhere, Maine, and Graham Larkin is the hot superstar sensation from Middle-of-Everything, California. While Ellie hides from the media, Graham is constantly being watched by the paparazzi. However, an email mistake from Graham to Ellie starts an online relationship between these two teens, marking the start of a friendship and something more. Can Ellie accept Graham despite all the publicity? Or will the media be the demise of this couple’s happiness?
  • Smith, Andrew. Winger. Simon and Schuster. (9781442444928).
    Ryan Dean West is a fourteen year old junior trying to make everyone else blind to the one thing that makes him different than everyone else, his young age. This is not easy though, as he must prove himself to everyone – the girl of his dreams, his scary roommate, his friends, and the rugby team. As Ryan Dean tries to survive his junior year, he encounters horrifying injuries, moments of ecstasy, and shattering heartbreak.
  • Stine, R.L. A Midsummer Night’s Scream. Macmillan/Feiwel & Friends.  (9781250024343).
    Claire, a girl with a dream to become an actress, finally gets her chance when her parents decide to remake Mayhem Manor, a movie that was never finished because of 3 real deaths. As the camera starts rolling on the remake, strange things begin to happen. Like the little hairy man Claire meets by the makeup trailer one day. Who or what could be the cause of these actors’ deaths?
  • Tucholke, April. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. Penguin/Dial. (9780803738898).
    Violet, a sassy, independent, and sharp-tongued young lady, rents out the side cottage on her parent’s estate in the hopes of making a little extra money to pay the bills. Her easygoing customer is as dangerous as he is mysterious, and murders and madness soon sweep her little home town. She takes it upon herself to understand him and the events, but only finds a darkness she can only hope to escape with her sanity and safety.
  • Winters, Cat. In The Shadow of Blackbirds. ABRAMS/Amulet Books. (9781419705304).
    It’s the fall of 1918: The Spanish Influenza and the horrors of World War I grip the world with terror, and spiritualist photography, as the face of death seems to greet every household in America, has become increasingly popular.  After her father is arrested as a suspected traitor, Mary Shelley Black travels to San Diego, hoping to escape the flu while living with her Aunt Eva.  Only a few days after arriving, Mary Shelley is told that Stephen, her sweetheart who recently became a soldier, has been killed in France.  But Stephen’s spirit hasn’t left yet, and he desperately needs Mary Shelley’s help.
  • Yancey, Rick. The 5th Wave. Penguin/Putnam Juvenile. (9780399162411).
    Present day – the aliens have invaded the planet, or as Cassie likes to call them, the Others.Almost everyone has been killed off by the 4th Wave, and now, Cassie one of the few survivors living now during the 5th wave, roams the country while trying to stay alive to find her brother – that is, if he’s still alive. When she’s taken in by a boy named Evan, she realizes that he’s different. He’s not like her, but he’s all she’s got. Cassie has to overcome her doubts and trust issues if she wishes to survive the 5th wave.

Young Adult-Picture Book Pairings: Cinderella Stories

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 07:00

The two types of books I check out most from the library are young adult books and picture books. In my case, this is because I’m a thirty-something librarian who likes to read YA books, while I have three kids who like like to read picture books. It occurred to me that I might not be the only reader who’s currently interested in both YA and picture book audiences: lots of teens have younger siblings, many librarians at small libraries serve patrons who run the gamut of ages, and some people just like to read both picture books and YA books! I’ve also noticed that some themes and stories appear frequently in both types of literature, so I’ll be doing an occasional series on picture books and YA books that go together.

The first theme for this series basically chose itself… I love fairy tale retellings, and my middle child has been obsessed with Cinderella for the last year and a half, and going strong! There are tons of Cinderella retellings out there, so I tried to select a few of our family favorites for the picture book selections, and some YA options that have garnered attention in recent years.

Picture Books

Adelita: A Mexican Cinderella Story, retold and illustrated by Tomie dePaola. A version that doesn’t rely on magic, the story of Adelita shows how a sweet disposition, a childhood friendship, and the help of a beloved family servant win Adelita her happily-ever-after.

Cinderella, retold by Max Eilenberg, illustrated by Niamh Sharkey. There are many retellings of the “classic” French version, first attributed to Charles Perrault, and this is one such retelling. Eilenberg takes some liberty with the story though, by giving the narration more of an oral storytelling feel, adding a third ball (Perrault’s version has two), and letting Cinderella’s father redeem himself in the end (in Perrault’s version, he is the quintessential hen-pecked husband who does not stand up for his daughter.

Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China, retold by Ai-Ling Louie, illustrated by Ed Young. In this version, lovely Yeh-Shen seeks help not from a fairy godmother but from a magic fish, who manages to help her even beyond death. Caldecott award-winning artist Ed Young cleverly incorporates the fish in the background of many of the illustrations, and my kids have fun finding him.

Cinderella’s Rat, written and illustrated by Susan Meddaugh. Those who love Meddaugh’s Martha the Talking Dog stories will not be disappointed by this funny take on Cinderella, told by the rat who becomes her coachman, er, coachboy. The poor rat has trouble trying to care for his sister, who was not transformed, while hiding his true identity, but all’s well that ends well… even if it’s not the happy ending one might expect.

Cendrillon: A Caribbean Cinderella, retold by Robert D. San Souci, illustrated by Brian Pinkney. This French-Caribbean version, told by Cinderella’s godmother (who is not a fairy, but does have some magic) is both beautiful and gives an interesting commentary on how magic can only take you so far.

Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters, retold and illustrated by John Steptoe. A Caldecott Honor book from 1988, this well-loved tale compares two beautiful sisters: haughty Manyara and humble, kind Nyasha. Both daughters have the chance to travel to the royal city and meet the king when he searches for a bride, but their different behaviors on the journey clearly differentiate who should become queen.


Young Adult Books

Before Midnight by Cameron Dokey. Baby Constanze is born too early, causing her mother’s untimely death. The red hair and green eyes imparted by her mother only make her father, Etienne de Brabant, rue her existence the more, and he all but abandons her to the care of her godmother. He also leaves an unidentified baby boy to be raised in his household. When La Cendrillon and Raoul, as the two become called, grow older, they are drawn into court intrigue and the twists and turns that hidden identities bring.

Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George. Princess Poppy (one of the sisters forced to dance night after night in George’s previous Princess of the Midnight Ball) visits cousins in the country of Breton to help create goodwill among the different kingdoms of Ionia. While there, she makes friends with Prince Christian of Danelaw and resigns herself to attending balls, although she avoids dancing as often as she can. When an unpleasant maid named Ellen mysteriously starts to appear as the belle at every ball, Poppy is one of only a few who realize that dark magic may be behind it. Will Poppy be able to solve the mystery of Ellen’s unknown benefactor before Ellen gets herself in too deep? For those who like knitting, it appears in this installment as well!

Ash by Malinda Lo (2010 William C. Morris Finalist, 2014 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults Top Ten). Ash (short for Aisling) forms an odd (and dangerous) friendship with the fairy Sidhearn after the death of both her parents lands her in servitude to an evil stepmother. Sidhearn can provide the impossible, but when Ash also becomes friends with the King’s Huntress, Kaisa, she begins to wonder if an eternity in the fairy realm is actually what she wants.

Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah (Best Books for Young Adults 2000). A young adult version of her autobiography Falling LeavesChinese Cinderella narrates Mah’s childhood, ruled by a real-life cruel stepmother and often at odds with her own brothers and sisters. The love of an aunt and her own success in school help her to eventually build a life for herself, and her story is as fascinating as any fictional tale.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer (Best Fiction for Young Adults 2013, Teens’ Top Ten 2012). A science fiction Cinderella? This popular tale, set in a future New Beijing with a cyborg mechanic heroine offers just that. Cinder is despised by both her stepmother and society because of her cyborg status, but the combination of attracting business from the prince himself and her stepsister’s contraction of a deadly plague means that her strategy of keeping her head down won’t last any longer. Cinder is volunteered to be a plague research subject, and a discovery made in her body gives her the power to save the world (and maybe catch a prince).

Bound by Donna Jo Napoli (Best Books for Young Adults 2005, Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults 2010). Drawing on similar source material to that used for Yeh-ShenBound tells the story of Xing Xing, the daughter of a poor but happy potter and his second wife. With both of her parents dead, Xing Xing’s stepmother treats her as a servant while frantically trying to arrange a marriage for her own daughter, Wei Ping. Xing Xing is not much troubled by her own lack of marriage prospects–she certainly doesn’t envy her half-sister’s aching bound feet–but when Stepmother kills the carp that has revealed itself as the spirit of Xing Xing’s mother, Xing Xing must decide how to unbind herself.

I know I missed at least a few Cinderella retellings–I discovered more YA versions while compiling this list, and there are probably hundreds of picture book versions of Cinderella. Share your favorite below!

-Libby Gorman, currently reading The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)

Jukebooks: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 07:00

In this lush high fantasy set in a society much like ancient Rome, Kestrel enjoys all the luxuries afforded to the daughter of a powerful Valorian General, whose army has conquered the Herran peninsula and enslaved its people. When she impulsively bids on a Herrani slave in the marketplace, Kestrel has little idea how the slave, Arin, will upset her life. They match each other in intelligence and share a deep love for music. Romance between mistress and slave is naturally forbidden. But like star-crossed lovers everywhere, they find that their feelings cannot be altered by any custom or law.

Kestrel plays piano, often late into the night. To please Arin, Kestrel plays a piece of Herrani music written for the flute on her piano, a beautifully intimate scene between the two. I imagined this music to be simple and lovely, a folk song that expresses yearning for home.

I am still imagining this song.

In the end, I decided to take the easy road and use a lovely Beatles song from their album Help!which is from the 1965 movie of the same name. Fortunately for Jukebooks, there is a perfect Beatles song for every book.


Get Inspired: YA Novels with Characters Who Read or Write Poetry

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 07:00

In celebration of National Poetry Month, and because I am a poetry lover myself, I wanted to share some YA fiction titles in which a major character reads and/or writes poetry.  If you are reading this blog entry, then you probably enjoy poetry too.  And if you are like me – who has not kept the promise she made to herself some time ago to read a poem every day – you could do with some inspiration. 

So take a look at the list below, pick out a couple novels to read and let the presence of poetry move you to read or write some verse yourself!


The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door by Karen Finneyfrock

Author Karen Finneyfrock is herself a poet.  Celia, the protagonist of this novel, dreams of becoming one.  She also dreams of revenge on classmate Sandy for what she did to Celia in eighth grade, an act which is not revealed until late in the novel.  As Celia writes: “That’s the day the trouble started. / The trouble that nearly ruined my life. / The trouble that turned me Dark. / The trouble that begs me for revenge.”  Rejected by her classmates, Celia finds comfort in writing poetry.  She even turns her mom’s notes into haiku.  An unexpected friendship with Drake, a boy who has just transferred to Celia’s high school, eventually opens Celia up to a new way of seeing the world and a more hopeful approach to life.


Paper Towns by John Green

Walt Whitman’s poem “Leaves of Grass” is very important to the two main characters of Green’s Paper Towns (2009 Teens’ Top Ten)High school senior Quentin has had an ongoing crush on his childhood friend Margo, even though she left him for a new set of friends years ago.  When she unexpectedly invites him to join her on a wild one-night spree through their hometown of Orlando, Florida – the goal of which turns out to be to exact revenge on her unfaithful boyfriend — Quentin agrees.   But after this night, Margo disappears.  Quentin decides that he must find her.  He believes that a copy of Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” which Margo had earlier highlighted is a clue that she deliberately left for him as to her whereabouts. 


The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer

In this very recently published novel, Ethan and Luke attend Selwyn Arts Academy, at which most students are gifted in one or another form of art.  When higher-ups decide to allow a reality TV show, a $100,000.00 arts scholarship competition, to film at the school, Luke is upset.  Inspired by poet Ezra Pound’s Cantos, he decides to strike back.  Luke writes a long poem in protest against what he sees as the negative influence of the TV show on their school.  Luke, Ethan and their two closest friends secretly print and distribute the poem to their fellow students.  However, the four friends learn that many things in life, the reality show’s presence at their school included, cannot be reduced simply to either right or wrong.


Nobody’s Secret by Michaela MacColl

No list of poetry-related YA novels would be complete without at least one book which references the work of Emily Dickinson or in which she herself is a character.  Nobody’s Secret, an engaging example of this trend, begins with a fictionalized young Emily striking up a friendship with a handsome stranger, only to quickly find him dead in her family’s pond.  Exhibiting the mental sharpness and curiosity about small details which characterizes the real Dickinson’s poems, MacColl’s Dickinson decides to solve the mystery of this stranger’s death.  Each chapter includes lines of Dickinson’s actual poems and MacColl also describes daily life in the mid-nineteenth century.  This is a suspenseful and well-researched historical fiction/mystery novel which is an excellent way to introduce oneself to one of the most intriguing American poets.


Golden Boy by Abigail Tartellin

Max Walker, the protagonist of Golden Boy (2014 Alex Award), is intersex.  According to MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, intersex is “a group of conditions where there is a discrepancy between the external genitals and the internal genitals (the testes and ovaries).”  In the case of Max, he appears to be male in most outward physical aspects and thinks of himself as male.  However, anatomically and physiologically he possesses both male and female organs.  Max meets and falls for Sylvie, a non-conformist girl who attends his high school.  Sylvie loves writing poetry, often doing so in the school’s computer room at lunch time or before classes.  Writing poetry doesn’t always come easily to her, but she perseveres.  I feel that Sylvie’s reflective nature, which likely plays a role in her desire to write poetry, also allows her to come to terms with Max’s anatomy and physiology and love him for who he is as a person. 

- Anna Dalin, currently reading Marble Season by Gilbert Hernández

Fashion Hits and Misses from YA Historical Fiction Book Covers, Part 3

Tue, 04/15/2014 - 07:05

I love historical fiction.  The drama, the intrigue and, oh– the fashion.  I just assume all the period details regarding clothing are accurate.  Or I did until my friend Liz shared it was her secret delight to troll the adult fiction section and find anachronistic apparel.  Curious to know how Liz knows all that she does about fashion?  Check out her bio in the first post Fashion Hits and Misses from YA Historical Fiction Book Covers.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds
by Cat Winters

The jazz age of American history is very popular right now in TV and books. Recent Hub posts like Get Ready for Downton Abbey Season 4 With These BooksThe Glamour and Greed of The Great Gatsby and Prohibition Era: Ohio Roots in History and YA Lit highlight our current fascination with the 1920s and 1930s. While imitation is meant as a sincere form of flattery, this only works if the copy is accurate, no matter the intention.

Here are some  Young Adult historical fiction novels sent during the Roaring Twenties with covers that try and sometimes fail to reflect accurate costuming/

Hit: In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters (Morris Award Finalist: In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters)

Set in 1918, bombarded by the war and Spanish Influenza Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black is mistrustful of popular fad spirit photography until a seance takes on personal meaning.  This dress is a bit short length-wise, at this time you would expect to see a longer hem. Overall style is decent.  The fashion of the time often featured a waist that was accentuated with a belt or sash.


American dress, 1916-1917

This cotton dress was a gift of Mrs. Edwin Stewart Wheeler in 1956 to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. This costume is not on display and can only be viewed online.


French linen and cotton dress from 1920.

This dress is from the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Gifted to the museum in 1955 by Mercedes de Acosta, the garment is made almost entirely of lace and was made to worn over a dark colored garment to highlight the workmanship. This costume is not on display at the museum and can only be viewed online.

Costume Institute Fashion Plates 1921-1940, Plate 014

Find a variety of other fashion plates online thanks to Costume Institute Fashion Plates of Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries.


Miss: The Flappers series by Jillian Larkins (A Jazz Party for the Books)

The Flappers series.
Vixen Book 1, Ingenue Book 2 and Diva Book 3.


Think Gossip Girl set in 1920s Chicago and you have Flappers.  Cigarettes and cropped hair dos are as prevalent as sultry secrets and social climbers. While each new novel may leave readers clambering for more drama and romance, the covers are sadly uninspired.  Set during the Roaring Twenties, you’d expect to see drop-waists and knee length skirts.  But these covers feature girls in empire waist dresses and straight skirts.  With the focus on socialites and soirées, much of The Flappers takes place during cocktail hour. “The cocktail affair generally took place between six and eight p.m. Cocktail garb, by virtue of its flexibility and functionality, became the 1920s uniform for the progressive fashionable elite.” Problematically, Vixen shows a 1930s Garden party costume.  Nothing about the cover is from the 1920s. Ingenue isn’t a complete miss since the cover doesn’t show enough to really critique.  Flapper outfits were made to catch the light and the attention of other partygoers.  The dark, drab attire hardly seems festive. Diva is a near miss in terms of accuracy.  The jewelry and hair style are good examples of 1920s fashion.  Even the textiles used for the dress are appropriate for the time but the style is wrong.

Evening Dress, 1925.

This silk and rhinestone dress from France has a column shape that was common for the time.  The details are in an Art Deco style and close-ups of the embellishments can be see online.

French Silk Evening Dress, 1926-1927

Any flapper would feel grand in this bedazzled dressed designed for maximum shine.  Decked out in sequins, it is the polar opposite of both the ready to wear costume seen on In The Shadow of Blackbirds and the strangely tailored dress from Diva. Designed by Edward Molyneux, this fabulous frock was a gift to The Metropolitan Museum of Art from Mrs. Adam Gimbel in 1942.

For more images of correct costuming check out the Pinterest page Fashion History: 1920-1930 The Museum at FIT, Fashion Institute of Technology.


More in this series:

Fashion Hits and Misses from YA Historical Fiction Book Covers

Fashion Hits and Misses from YA Historical Fiction Book Covers, 2


-Laura C Perenic, currently reading A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin


National Library Week: Libraries in Books

Tue, 04/15/2014 - 07:00

It’s National Library Week – the perfect time to celebrate libraries. I’m always paying attention to libraries and how they’re portrayed in pop culture.

Here are a few of my favorites libraries from books:

Mythos Academy series by Jennifer Estep
This private school library is the largest (and coolest) building on campus. Not only are there statues of gods and goddess inside the building, but there are two statues of gryphons guarding the door. Plus, the library’s home to ancient artifacts – weapons, jewelry, and more. Not to mention the impressive book collection. At first, Nickamedes seems to be your stereotypical librarian, but there’s more to him than meets the eye. This is a library I’d love to spend hours exploring.

Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman (2012 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults)
Elizabeth’s lonely at school, so she finds a job at the New York Circulation Material Repository, hoping to make friends.  This library does not circulate books– instead, it circulates items of historical and magical significance.  The Brothers Grimm have their own room filled with items from their tales. I’m not sure which item to borrow first…

Library Lover’s Mystery series by Jenn McKinlay
In a small Connecticut town by the shore resides Briar Creek Library. Lindsey, the new director, works to update the library. I love how she recognizes people in town and immediately thinks of their favorite authors. Beth, the Children’s Librarian, is perfect. She loves dressing up in costume and makes story hour come alive. I would enjoy the crafternoon program – a weekly book club and craft afternoon.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein
In this middle grade read, public library was torn down twelve years ago, and a generation of kids haven’t had the good fortune of a library– until now. Famous game designer Mr. Lemoncello builds a state of the art library building that sounds amazing – picture a Willy Wonka type library complete with the latest and most innovative technology and floor to ceiling bookshelves . I wouldn’t mind being stuck overnight here.

What are some of your favorite libraries in books?

-Jennifer Rummel Currently Reading Being Sloan Jacobs by Lauren Morrill

Hub Photo Challenge Check-In: Spine Poetry

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 07:00

In celebration of National Poetry Month, we are all making poetry! Specifically, Spine Poetry, which is the technique of arranging your books so that their titles form a poem. To combine this challenge with our 2014 Hub Reading Challenge, all books that are used must be taken from those eligible for the Reading Challenge.

Once you have perfected your poem, snap a picture of it and send it to us to be entered in the contest! We’ll post some of the best poems on The Hub and one grand prize winner will receive a signed copy of Every Day by David Levithan!

Check out the official rules:

  1. For privacy reasons, make sure there aren’t any people in your pictures, please! But, aside from this one caveat, feel free to get as creative as you would like in both your poem and the setting of your photo!
  2. All entries must be sent to by April 25th to be considered. Please include your mailing address if you would like to be eligible to win the grand prize.
  3. By submitting your photo, you are consenting to its publication by YALSA on The Hub or any other YALSA social media accounts, though we are under no obligation to publish all submissions that we receive.
  4. The contest is open to anyone, but the winner will be selected from participants in the United States or Canada.

Here is an example of spine poetry to inspire you!

We will announce our winner and share some of the best entries we get at the end of the month. Good luck! We’ve been getting some great entries, and can’t wait to see what you will come up with!

-Carli Spina, Hub Advisory Board member

The Monday Poll: The Worst Best Friend in YA Lit

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 01:37

photo by Chiltepinster

Good morning, Hub readers!

Last week, we asked you which realistic YA book should be made into a movie. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins dominated with 39% of the vote, and Hate List by Jennifer Brown came in second with 14%. The First Part Last by Angela Johnson followed closely with 13% 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 who you think is the worst best friend EVER in YA lit. These bullies, backstabbers, and betrayers might be characters you love to hate– they’re so well-written, they seem to jump off the page (and you can only hope they don’t show up in your life). Vote for the worst best friend in the poll below or add your suggestion in the comments.

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

2014 Hub Reading Challenge Check-in #10

Sun, 04/13/2014 - 07:00

Not signed up for YALSA’s 2014 Hub Reading Challenge? Read the official rules and sign up on the original post. Anything you’ve read since February 3 counts, so sign up now!

May I make a confession to you all? I have fallen far behind in my reading progress on the Challenge. I have been “cheating” on the books on this list with Brian Jay Jones’ biography about Jim Henson and a collection of short stories about Dangerous Women edited by George RR Martin and Gardner Dozois.  But I promise to get back to reading Maggot Moon and Etiquette & Espionage right away! And also Carter Finally Gets It. I would enjoy some humor.

That is why I love this challenge, there are so many genres on the list you can always find something to enjoy. Fantasy, realistic, romance, humor, adventure, historical – so many kinds of fiction (and some non fiction as well!).

The 2014 Hub Reading Challenge will run until 11:59PM EST on June 22nd, so you have a bit more than two months to finish all 25 books. Do keep a list of what you are listening to/reading. We’ll be posting these check-in posts every Sunday so you can share your thoughts about the book(s) you read/listened to that week and share links to any reviews you post online. As you read, please also share your thoughts on the social medi platform of your choice using the #hubchallenge hashtag, or join the 2014 Hub Challenge group on Goodreads.

[View the story "The 2014 #hubchallenge" on Storify]

If you 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, 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/listening to 25 titles

Beyond Forever: Female Desire and Empowerment in YA Lit

Fri, 04/11/2014 - 07:00

If you’re of a certain age, you will remember reading Judy Blume’s Forever… as a teen—perhaps furtively behind closed doors or brazenly in the school cafeteria. It was the kind of book people passed around, giggled about, and devoured in one sitting. No wonder, as it was one of the first books to talk frankly about sex and, even more revolutionary, acknowledge that sex was something a teenage girl could want and have responsibly without it being wrong or feeling guilty about it.

It’s been almost forty years since Forever‘s publication in 1975, and surprisingly little progress has been made in the realm of female sexual agency and sex-positive portrayals of young women. In the last decade alone, Forever was number 16 of the Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books from 2000-2009, Rush Limbaugh gleefully called law student Sandra Fluke a slut for speaking in favor of contraception coverage, and Miley Cyrus won out over chemical warfare in Syria as the top headline in August of last year. What all these examples speak to is our society’s intense preoccupation with young women’s sexuality—a preoccupation that tends towards censure.  Indeed, society continues to judge women on the basis of their sexual choices and considers having sexual agency as a young woman a shameful thing.

Which makes the recent increase in YA books that speak openly and positively about teenage girls and their sexual desire all the more heartening.  Particularly, as they do so in a way that neither diminishes the need to be responsible when it comes to making sexual choices nor avoids discussing the emotional consequences—both good and bad—that come with having sex.

The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle (2014 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Readers) is the natural successor to Blume’s Forever.  It is the story of two very different high school graduates who find themselves improbably falling in love. Wren is a well-adjusted A-student bent on pleasing her parents. Charlie has difficulty fighting the demons in his past or accepting the love of his foster parents. Myracle expertly captures the uncertainty, ardor, and innocence that accompany that first headlong rush into full-blown, soul-consuming love.  But it is her handling of sexual intimacy that makes this novel stand out. Wren is a virgin at the start of the novel and the ways in which Myracle traces her discovery of desire, her anxiety around having sex, the accompanying vulnerability it elicits, and her subsequent enjoyment of the act itself is both beautiful and remarkably realistic.  The emphasis on communication, trust, and mutual satisfaction makes this novel all the more appealing and important for young teens (male and female alike) to read. 

One of my favorite series in recent years is Rae Carson’s fantasy trilogy The Girl of Fire and Thorns (2012 Morris Award Finalist). I love it for numerous reasons, not least because Elisa, the protagonist, develops from an insecure, self-deprecating young woman to a thoughtful and wise leader secure in her own decisions.  Her personal growth throughout the series extends to her sexual awakening as she learns to appreciate her own attractiveness and understand her desires. In the second book, she pro-actively makes the decision to start drinking a tea meant for birth control while also being the one to initiate a first sexual encounter with the man she loves. Although their relationship is not consummated until the third book, Elisa becomes increasingly more comfortable with loving her own body and advocating for her own desires. Indeed, many of the conversations with her lover navigate around issues of power and control, comfort and compassion, all of which lay the groundwork for a refreshingly healthy and balanced intimate relationship.

The previous two novels focus on sex within loving, monogamous relationships, but we all know that that is not the only circumstance where teens have sex. Nor is it necessarily the only acceptable one. In Leila Sale’s book This Song Will Save Your Life (2014 Best Fiction for YA), Elise Dembowski is a classic outsider who doesn’t fit in. This all changes with a fortuitous encounter late one night that leads her to a warehouse party and the introduction to her life passion, DJing. Char, a dashing DJ,  guides her in this pursuit, while also mentoring her in the act of lovemaking.

Elise and Char’s sexual relationship falls somewhere between ‘hook-up’ and ‘friends with benefits.’ While certainly complicated, what stood out to me was the readiness with which Elise embraces her newfound sexuality and the fact that, unlike many hook-up relationships in books and film, the power is not solely in the hands of the boy. The arrangement is mutually satisfying. Granted, the extended nature of their hooking up does lead to hurt feelings on both sides. Still, Elise emerges from the affair at peace with the choices she made and comes to terms with the fact that, like Char, she wanted the comfort of intimacy but not necessarily the commitment. A realization that serves to further empower her as she embraces a more confident, self-loving, and passionate self.

Alaya Dawn Johnson’s The Summer Prince (GLBTRT Top Ten Rainbow List 2014) depicts a future matriarchal Brazil that requires a ritual sacrifice of a Summer King and centers on the deeply complex and compelling relationship between the three main characters. In one scene, June, our protagonist, finds herself alone in nature contemplating both her art and her growing attraction for Enki, the Summer King. She ends up masturbating in the lush surroundings. When I read this scene, I was surprised as, unlike male masturbation, we rarely see depiction of female masturbation in fiction.  June is clearly comfortable with herself, her body, and her desire.  As female sexuality is so often linked to giving men pleasure, it was incredibly refreshing to see that she also knows how to give herself pleasure. This scene, amongst others, is testimony to the many ways in which this book successfully pushes the boundaries of YA literature.

Have you read anything recently that fits in with this trend? Let me know below!

~Alegria Barclay, currently reading Lauren Oliver’s Panic

Tweets of the Week: April 10th

Fri, 04/11/2014 - 06:00

As usual, Twitter has been busy this week with YA related news, events, giveaways and more. Here are some of the highlights, in case you missed anything…

Contests and Giveaways

New Releases

News and Events

- Whitney Etchison, currently reading Be The Dog by Steve Duno (there’s a new puppy at the house)