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Spy Series for Mission Impossible Fans

2015 July 30
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With MI5: Rogue Nation opening this weekend, whether it’s books or movies, people are drawn to spy series. Here are a few contemporary series with tons of action that will entice fans of this movie – from some newer series to some old favorites in addition to Alex Rider and Gallagher Girls.

For Older Readers:
Devil’s Breath by David Gilman
After an assassin tries to kill him at his boarding school, Max realizes that his father is missing. When he receives a message from his father, he’s determined to locate him. He travels to Africa to uncover the truth.

I am the Weapon by Allen Zadoff (2014 Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers)
Boy Nobody blends perfectly into the background, making him perfect for a teen assassin. On his latest mission, he makes the cardinal mistake: don’t make friends. Now he has to decide between loyalty to the Program or loyalty to himself. He’s no longer sure of the Program’s mission and it could cost him his life.  read more…

Special Olympics, YA Lit Style!

2015 July 29
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Have you  been watching the Special Olympics? What an incredible group of athletes! It occurred to me that we might find some potential participants in young adult novels. Let’s see who might make it on the roster.

aquatics-iconAquatics
Like T. J. in Chris Crutcher’s Whale Talk (2002 Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults), we see the potential in Chris Coughlin.  After his training with the Cutter All Night Mermen, he’s ready to take on the the best.

equestrian-iconEquestrian
Marcelo, title character of Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork (2010 Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults), has a summer job working with ponies. His ability to connect with these animals comes much easier to him than connecting with people. With the right opportunities, Marcelo could demonstrate a natural horsemanship.

soccer-iconFootball (Soccer)
In Girls Like Us by Gail Giles (2015 Best Fiction for Young Adults), Quincy is a girl who was terribly injured by her mother’s boyfriend at the age of six, when he hit her on the head with a brick. Understandably, Quincy is dealing with plenty of aggression that she might well work off on the soccer field. As Quincy demonstrates with her cooking, she’s got a good sense for recognizing patterns and envisioning different variations. Sounds like she’s make a good strategist!

half-marathon-iconHalf-Marathon
Billy D, a boy with Down Syndrome in Erin Jade Lange’s Dead Ends, displays an exceptionally running ability, especially when he’s chased by his pseudo-caretaker, Dane. If Dane can stand the training, Billy D could be able to cover the requisite 13.1 miles.

basketball-iconBasketball
Colin Fischer by Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz is about the title character’s analytical expertise in crime solving. This exceptional ability to reason makes his adept at getting a basketball to swoosh through the hoop, but doesn’t help much when teammates push and jostle him. Work with Special Olympic trainers, however, could get Colin in fine shape to play on the team.

softball-iconSoftball
In Rules by Cynthia Lord, David’s father demonstrates how painful it can be for a boy with autism to learn a sport. David might do far better with someone who is trained to work with differently abled children. We’ll give him a few years with a good coach, and see if David can fill a spot on the softball team.

All icons obtained from the 2015 Special Olympics website: http://www.la2015.org/sports

-Diane Colson, currently reading an advanced readers copy of Immaculate by Katelyn Detweiler.

Anime Titles for Book Lovers to Watch this Summer

2015 July 28
tags:
by Guest Blogger
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summer_anime04

Just like YA literature, anime is broken into a slew of subgenres that focus on everything from high school swim teams to magical moon girls who save the world. If you are new to the genre or a dedicated fan, these shows and movies will help to get you through the slow days and hot nights of summer, so grab your cool drink of choice, kick off your sandals, and settle in for some boredom-killing summer anime! read more…

Chicago: Read Through the Windy City

2015 July 27
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Cloud Gate, aka "The Bean" in Millenium Park. Photo by Libby Gorman.

Cloud Gate, aka “The Bean” in Millenium Park. Photo by Libby Gorman.

Our family vacation this year was a road trip from our home in Maryland to Chicago, so I thought it would be fun to find books with a connection to this famous metropolis.

Al Capone Does My Shirts, by Gennifer Choldenko (Best Book for Young Adults 2005, 2005 Audiobook for Young Adults). Although NOT set in Chicago, but rather on Alcatraz Island, near San Francisco, the title character was of course famous for his illegal rule of the Windy City. Since we had the fun of eating deep-dish pizza at The Exchequer, known for being one of Capone’s haunts, I couldn’t Al_Capone_Does_My_Shirtsresist including this title. The story actually focuses on Moose, a twelve-year-old who’s forcibly moved to Alcatraz when his father takes on a guard job there, but the historical details provide some interesting insights on the era when Capone was active.

An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green (2007 Printz Honor Book). Ok, main character Colin Singleton starts this story by needing to get out of Chicago, after he’s dumped by his 19th girlfriend named Katherine. Still, between the road trip and the pictures of his early life around the University of Chicago, the book came to mind when I visited the city myself.

DivergentDivergent, by Veronica Roth (2012 Teens’ Top Ten, 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults). I admit it, I haven’t read this series yet. But now that I know it takes place not just in some abstract future, but in Chicago of the future, I will have to get started. If you are one of the few who, like me, haven’t read it yet, Divergent and its sequels follow the story of Tris, a girl who, on her sixteenth birthday decides to change her “faction” from Abnegation to Dauntless. Hunger Games-like tests follow, along with chilling revelations about her society.  read more…

The Monday Poll: Unrequited Crushes

2015 July 27
by Allison Tran
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monday_pollGood morning, Hub readers!

Last week, we asked which unusual or distinctive name from YA lit you’d give your firstborn. We had a tie! Blue from The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater and Ismae from Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers both took in 25% of the vote. We had a great suggestion in the comments, too– Jennifer Billingsley reminded us about Sabriel! You can see detailed results for all of our previous polls in the Polls Archive. Thanks to all of you who voted and commented last week!

This week, we’re curious which unrequited crush from YA lit pulls on your heartstrings the most. Choose from the list below, or leave other ideas in the comments.

Most painful unrequited crush in YA lit?

View Results

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Have an Adventure This Summer (Or at Least Read About It)

2015 July 25
by Guest Blogger
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Recently I watched a YouTube video about summer breaks and how as we get older or become increasingly busy, the 3 month hiatus from school becomes a thing of the past. In our teen years, summer is usually met with excitement and possibilities; possibilities of growing up and trying new things. One of the great ways to accomplish any and everything that you want to do for the summer is a Bucket List or Dream List or Wish List or whatever you want to call it. Some folks call it The Buried Life.

“Do one thing every day that scares you” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Words to live by, I think. Why? It’s daring. It’s fearless! (It’s Eleanor Roosevelt! She knows loads about being fearless- learn more about her.) It’s getting out in the world and making mistakes and getting messy, basically living life– and summer can help you get started, whether or not you have a summer vacation planned. So why not get started with a book, to you know, and get your ideas flowing.

Too soon? Not ready for the book recommendation? You want ideas first on having an awesome time during the summer? No problem.

  • Go camping (In the wilderness or in the park or even your backyard. If it’s raining, stay inside, still counts in my opinion)
  • Throw a big water park party in the park (You can have a water fight or even a carnival! Cools you off and you get to meet new people)
  • Try a new sport (I heard bubble soccer is huge)
  • Try a photograph challenge (You can try this or this)
  • Make a movie (Like Me and Earl and the Dying Girl)
  • Take a road trip with friends (Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour or Paper Towns)
  • Create a Summer Scavenger Hunt for your friends (Since You’ve Been Bone)
  • Summer festival
  • Sit under the night sky

Now that we have ideas, how about those book recommendations?

amy and rogerAmy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson (2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults)
Amy Curry isn’t a fan of driving or even ready to get behind the wheel of car since her father’s car accident. However, her mother, ready for a change of scenery has decided to move the family across the country and now Amy is saddled with the responsibility of getting their car from California to Connecticut. That’s where Roger comes in, an old family friend, who joins in on her road trip venturing into unknown territory and unknown past feelings for Amy.

Paper Towns by John Green
If you’ve been away or completely out of the loop, John Green’s book Paper Towns has been made into a movie. The book details Quentin Jacobsen’s mission to find Margo, the only girl he has ever loved his entire life, who happens to live next door. She reappears in his life asking him to come out for revenge settling fun night, only to disappear the next night leading Quentin to begin a search with help of his friends and little clues she has left.

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Emily’s summer isn’t starting how she originally thought it would be. Her best friend, the bubbly and energetic Sloane, is nowhere to be found and all of their summer plans are now at a standstill. Or are they? Emily receives a list of adventures that Sloane had planned for them and each of them must be completed. Emily sees this as her way of finding out what happened to her mysterious friend and embarks on tackling the long list of challenges that involve apple picking, starting a new job, and meeting new people. Throughout the summer she makes leaps in her introverted nature and starts to learn more about herself and her friends and family.

me earl dying girlMe and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Greg only has one friend- well, a co-worker as he prefers to call him, Earl. Together Greg and Earl make movies based off cult classics of their choosing and also playing video games to pass the time. That all changes when Greg is forced to befriend Rachel; she has leukemia. Together, Greg, Earl, and Rachel form an odd friendship that will be needed during the toughest time in their lives.

Here are some other awesome books for motivation on jump starting your summer adventure!

  • Percy Jackson & the Olympians series by Rick Riordan
  • The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn Iggulden and Hal Iggulden
  • The Daring Book for Girls by Andrea J. Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz

Summer is awesome, but it is a great time to start fresh and reinvent yourself or even discover the world in your backyard. Start a blog. Write in a journal. Take pictures. You can even vlog about it to remember what is sure to be an amazing summer. Have fun and stay cool out there!

-Markita Dawson, currently reading Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige (*A real page turner this book

is!)

Tweets of the Week – July 24th

2015 July 24
by Hannah Gómez
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In case you missed them, here are some of the tweets that people were buzzing about this week. Last minute additions late Thursday night could have been VidCon and yet another shooting, but I’m frankly too tired and upset to handle all that, so you are going to have to look that up on your own. These are all tweets on the lighter end of things.

tweets of the week | the hub

Books/Reading/Authors

read more…

We Can Do It! Feminist Literature for Teens

2015 July 23
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photo by flickr user Trishhhh

photo by flickr user Trishhhh

Are we in the dog days of summer, dear Hubbers? It sure feels like it! One thing I know is I sure missed writing for all of you; I’m glad to be back! So, this was a post I was going to write a couple of months ago when the word “feminist” was all in the news thanks to Beyoncé and Taylor Swift. It still kind of is in the news, and I think it’s a very important and relevant topic even though we’re not necessarily talking about it incessantly.

Anyways! Feminist teen literature. I’ve been noticing that a lot of new teen books are being marketed as feminist literature for teens which intrigued me, and I happened upon this article that piqued my interest even more: Book Riot – Feminist Teen Lit. They had so many good recommendations, so I chose a brief few from their list to see what was up.

Now, I know what a feminist is, and I’m proud to call myself one. But, I wondered – what makes a book a feminist book? Are they only stories narrated by girls or women (kind of, but not always)? Are they only powerful and sad stories where the main character goes through a traumatic event and grows through the healing process (sometimes, but not always)? I was so excited to find out the answers to those questions that I decided to dive right in to the books I added to my to-read stack, and I’m happy to share those awesome books with you today.

These books are great reads for anyone who loves stories about strong characters; stories who don’t portray or see women and girls only in relation to or as defined by the men and boys in their lives. These are stories of fully formed people who see the strengths and weaknesses in each other as humans, not in relation to their gender. On a side note, I work with a teen who is a member of the feminist club at her high school (how I wish I’d had one of those!), and she has been thoroughly enjoying these books which range from comedy to dystopian to mystery to a story of pain and redemption. Well, let’s get started, shall we? First up! My favorite book that I’ve read so far this year!

The Walls Around UsThe Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma: Oh my goodness, you guys. This book is spectacular – really unbelievably wonderful. It’s the story of 3 girls – Violet, Amber, and Orianna – the journeys they will take in their lives, and the paths that have already been established for them. Violet is a ballerina, and Orianna used to be. Orianna was the best ballerina at their school until she was sent to prison for the murder of girls who were tormenting Violet…the same prison where Amber is serving her sentence for killing her abusive stepfather. But, what really happened between Orianna and those other ballerinas, Amber and her stepfather, Violet and Orianna? And, what is happening to Amber as she starts to see the prison in a different light after a very timely and suspicious lightning storm one night. Readers will be glued to their seats to not only see how the story turns out, but also to see how these 3 girls will all become part of each other’s past, present and future.  Ugh!  I can’t say anymore or it will just totally ruin the whole experience for you.  Trust me – you just have to accept that you don’t have to know everything going into this story. However it turns out, these well-developed and realized girls aren’t totally perfect and they aren’t totally flawed, but indicative of real people whose actions, emotions, and lives are highly nuanced. A haunting read that will stay with readers, well, let’s just say, forever. I read it a month ago, and I’m still thinking about it!! read more…

All Your Books Are Belong to Us: YA Lit for Gamers

2015 July 22
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NES-Controller-FlatOne of my fondest memories from my childhood is that of long days spent hunched in front of the TV, my NES controller sweaty in my hands as I tried fruitlessly to conquer whatever Mario level I was playing at the time. I couldn’t have been more than 5 or 6 when I started playing, but it brought a kind of joy to my life that was unmatched. It was me saving the princess, fighting dragons, and exploring new lands, and it opened my eyes to new kinds of entertainment.

Over the years, I’ve evolved as a gamer. I’ve seen the transition from 2d sprites to fully-realized 3d worlds. I’ve played good games and bad. I’ve refined my tastes and discovered the satisfaction that comes from beating a game after a particularly hard final boss (here’s looking at you, Kingdom Hearts!). And a couple years ago, I accomplished my life-long goal of finally beating the original Super Mario Bros. game that stumped me throughout my childhood!

I love gaming with a passion unmatched by almost anything else, but one of the hobbies I love slightly more is reading. When those two things come together, I fall hard. Every. Single. Time. Anything can happen in a video game, the more outrageous the better, which gives authors an unrestricted amount of freedom to create a living universe peopled with amazing characters and peppered with allusions and references that can make the nerdiest among us swoon with delight. Here are just a few of my personal favorites!

  • ender's game orson scott card coverEnder’s Game by Orson Scott Card

In a futuristic world in which alien invasions and wars are the norm, Ender Wiggins is bred to be a genius and then drafted into a rigorous training program. Torn away from his parents and family, Ender’s new home is the Battle School, where recruits are divided into teams to hold mock battles and test their military strategy. Facing pressure and loneliness, Ender develops as a leader who could hold the fate of the world in his hands. An oldie but goodie, Ender’s Game has definitely stood the test of time, even spawning a recent film adaptation. Orson Scott Card was the recipient of the 2008 Margaret A. Edwards Award for his significant and lasting contribution to writing for teens.

  • Erebos by Ursula Poznanski

Erebos is a game. One that you can’t buy. A game that watches you and knows you and influences you. When rumors of this game begin to float around the halls of Nick’s school, he becomes desperate to get his hands on it. The only catch is that someone has to invite you to play the game. When he does finally obtain a copy, he immediately gets hooked, playing for hours on end. But when the game enters the real world, Nick must reexamine what he thinks he knows…and what he’s willing to do for the sake of a game.  read more…

Get Ready for Paper Towns with Some Readalikes

2015 July 22
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papertowns_movieWith the movie Paper Towns coming out in theaters in just a couple days, there seems to be a buzz in the air about John Green once again. Paper Towns, like all Green’s books, holds its own right up there on my bookshelf along with An Abundance of Katherines, The Fault in our Stars, and Looking for Alaska.

The movie is directed by Jake Schreier and is based on the 2009 Teens’ Top Ten winning title by John Green. I love how the story is cleverly declared as an American comedy-drama mystery film. That seems to sum it all up right? Paper Towns features the adorable Quentin Jacobsen who has loved his gal-pal neighbor Margo Roth Spiegelman since they were young. One night entices Quentin to go out on the town and play a bunch of revenge pranks on her cheating boyfriend. The night is a whirlwind of fun and outrageous pranks that brings the two closer than ever. Then Margo suddenly decides to disappear without a trace. What I love about Quentin is that he never gives up on Margo and that is so darn romantic. After Margo turns up missing Quentin soon unravels the pieces of the puzzle (literally) that she has left in her wake. Paper Towns comes out Friday, July 24, so don’t miss this coming-of-age story that you know you won’t want to end!

Here are five books that satisfy your taste for the young and the restless until the Paper Towns movie comes out.

  • Fangirl Rainbow RowellFangirl by Rainbow Rowell (2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults) – Cath struggles to survive on her own in her first year of college while avoiding a surly roommate, bonding with a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words, and worrying about her fragile father.
  • Looking for Alaska by John Green (2006 Printz Award winner) – Miles’ first year at Culver Creek Preparatory School includes making good friends and playing great pranks. A sudden fatality shakes Miles to the core and he contemplates what life and death are all about and how to carry on after you lose that one person that lights up your life.
  • The Spectacular Now by Tim Thorp – In the last months of high school, Sutter Keely stays drunk or high most of the time, but that could change when he forms a friendship with his classmate Aimee.
  • Struck by Lightning by Chris Colfer – Carson Phillips decides to create a litstruck by lightningerary magazine to bolster his college application, which means he needs submissions. Carson resorts to blackmailing his classmates and he doesn’t realize how his actions will be the cause and effect of his plans for the future.
  • Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (2008 Best Books for Young Adults) – Clay Jenkins finds a mysterious box with his name on it filled with 13 cassette tapes recorded by Hannah a classmate who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Clay must listen to the tapes and follow the clues that Hannah leaves to find out the mystery of her suicide.

-Kimberli Buckley