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Page to Screen Review: Insurgent

2015 March 27
by Katie Shanahan Yu
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insurgentThe second entry into the planned four part film series that is adapting our favorite Veronica Roth source material, known as the Divergent trilogy, has finally arrived. Insurgent made its debut last weekend amidst mixed reviews (31% rotten according to critics, 71% liked among fans) but still managed to top the box office with an estimated $54.03 million. Now the question that we are all clamoring for, how did the new director do with our beloved series’ second book? Let’s break it down by the top three questions that I get every time someone asks me about my thoughts of a book-to-movie adaptation.

Was it entertaining?

The film was entertaining, and it was very enjoyable as a fan of the series. The simulation sequences were action packed and intense. They were definitely created to be viewed in 3D, but you’re probably not missing too much if you’re cheap like me. Probably one of the best sequences is the first Dauntless simulation where Tris is fighting to get to her mother who is trapped in a rotating, burning box. This was probably the most visually interesting sequence, the one that managed not to go too over the top, and one of the few simulation scenes that didn’t feel like it was overtly pandering to the 3D technology.

And most importantly when it comes to entertainment, have no fear shippers, the relationship between Tris and Four is still squee-worthy in this installment. There are some weird moments that happen concerning our central couple, one that involves a dream and Four’s mother to be specific, but aside from that the filmmakers really focus on how much these two trust and love each other. It’s pretty stinking adorable.

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Sincerely Yours, The Breakfast Club

2015 March 27
by Julie Bartel
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mp_breakfastclub_posterAnd these children that you spit on

As they try to change their worlds

Are immune to your consultations

They’re quite aware of what they’re going through…

–David Bowie, “Changes”

 

The 30th anniversary (and theatrical re-release) of The Breakfast Club seemed like the perfect time to indulge in (yet another) re-watch, with my Breakfast Club buddy (and lovely niece) Halle for company.  Written and directed by John Hughes, starring Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy, and Paul Gleason, The Breakfast Club is one of the many things we bonded over, in between comic books, Michael Jackson’s Thriller album, and good thai food, despite the fact that it came out in 1985, a good decade before she was born!

There’s no need to be coy; Halle is 19, I’m 44.  I wasn’t old enough to see it in the theater (that pesky and widely despised ‘R’ rating!) when it first came out, and I was too much of a Brian to try sneaking into the theater.  Thankfully, the magic of VHS brought The Breakfast Club to my very own living room; I’m guessing I finally saw it during my sophomore or junior year of high school.  Over many years of re-watching, I’ve changed my opinion about some parts, noticed things that are missing (like any diversity whatsoever), and come to appreciate some of the scenes I didn’t before.  It’s not an easy movie–it’s too ambiguous and hits too close to home–and I don’t think it’s perfect.  But it’s funny and honest and real in a way that’s pretty rare, even now, 30 years later.

Halle here– I was a kid when I first saw it so it didn’t mean much.  I thought it was really funny but I didn’t get a lot of it until I was 9 or 10, and even then it didn’t really hit me the same way.  That probably changed when I was 13 or 14 and old enough to more fully appreciate what was going on.  And then I loved it.  It’s one of the only films about teens that isn’t full of clichés, that isn’t totally unrealistic.  All of the stereotypes (athlete, princess, outcast etc.) are obvious, but not over-exaggerated.  This movie has charmed two generations, at least, so we wanted to talk about some of the reasons we think it holds up.

Julie & Halle’s Top Five Things That Make The Breakfast Club Special:

Words, words, words

Halle: My favorite aspect of the movie is probably the dialogue. It’s hilarious and clever, but realistic and not over the top.  The movie is basically just talking, but all of the dialogue is interesting and important and it never gets boring, which is amazing.  The dialogue is especially good compared to most teen-centric films, which do not accurately portray what teenagers are really like, what high school is like, and how teens actually speak.  You can basically tell right away what stereotypes each character represents by how they’re dressed and by their body language, but it’s their first few lines of dialogue that really tell you who they are.

Julie: Plus, the quotes! This is one of the most quotable movies ever.  “Does Barry Manilow know you raid his wardrobe?” “If he gets up, we’ll all get up…it’ll be anarchy!” “Screws fall out all the time; the world is an imperfect place.” “Could you describe the ruckus?”  Hilarious and highly useful.  But then there’s also “Sometimes I feel invisible.” “If you say you haven’t, you’re a prude. If you say you have, you’re a slut. It’s a trap.”

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Add Some Serendipity to Your Reading

2015 March 26
by Emily Childress-Campbell
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Serendipity: luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for

-Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online

"I love in rainbow." Courtesy of Flickr user D. Sharon Pruitt (Purple Sherbet Photography)

“I love in rainbow.” Courtesy of Flickr user D. Sharon Pruitt (Purple Sherbet Photography)

The summer before I started middle school, my mom went back to work full time.  This meant that I needed looking after during the day. She worked something out with another local mom who had daughters about my age, and I spent many a long afternoon sitting on their couch, marveling over the fact that they didn’t have cable, and in some small way cultivating the reading habit that has always stayed with me. One of my summer playmates happened to be reading a book that I had never heard of at the time, but maybe you have, just this awesome little novel called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

This is my story that captures the magic (pun intended) of finding a great book out of pure luck and random circumstances, but I’m sure all avid readers have one that is just as meaningful.  Technically there is no way to add serendipity to your reading as it is, by nature, accidental, but here are some things you can do to invite those lucky bookish moments into your life.

In Your Library

Being a librarian, I’m rather biased in favor of libraries, but truly they are one of the best low maintenance ways to find new and interesting books.  After all, you don’t have to pay for them.  Library professionals are typically quite good at creating book displays, and are always looking to vary up their displays by theme.  Browsing the displays is a great way to discover a book you may not have otherwise heard of. Library book sales are also great, usually very cheap, routes of discovery.  If you’ve got a few hours, wander a library book sale and see what catches your eye, but be careful, you may take home a few tons of books.  And, of course, get to know your librarian! I can’t tell you how many times I have been reading a book and thought, “I know that (insert name here) would love this!” If a librarian gets to know what you like, they might end up serving as your own personal book scout and give you random, surprising recommendations.  read more…

Jukebooks: Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark

2015 March 25
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mr. brightsideThey might have been friends in a past life, but in this life, Juliette and Abram don’t speak to each other. How can they? Juliette’s mother was having an affair with Abram’s father, culminating in a car crash that killed the cheating pair. The gulf of grief and awkward recognition between Juliette and Abram seemed far too wide to bridge. Yet one night at midnight, they run into each other by chance at the CVS. Both are picking up drug prescriptions that testify to their ragged emotions during the year since the car accident. Turns out, they kind of like each other. They kind of understand each other. At last, they come to realize that finding each other is the bright side of a terrible tragedy.

The reference to “Mr. Brightside” immediately draw the mind to the first song written by The Killers, a catchy wail of a song released in 2004. The lyrics seem to be a disorganized mash of jealousy and longing as the singer envisions his lover with another man, sung with the kind of passion that invites full volume at 2am. Indeed, lead singer Brandon Flowers has admitted that the song was based on a time when he caught a girlfriend cheating on him.

Here’s a taste:

Jealousy
Turning saints into the sea
Swimming through sick lullabies
Choking on your alibis
But it’s just the price I pay
Destiny is calling me
Open up my eager eyes
‘Cause I’m Mr. Brightside

It’s a pop song with a punch. Pain comes in many forms, but look for Mr. Brightside.

Ten years after, the song’s release, The Killers play for an audience in Amsterdam as part of MTV’s World Stage series. It’s hard to sit still during this enthusiastic performance, much like a giant sing-along.

Diane Colson, currently reading an advance reader’s copy of Fell of Dark by Patrick Downes.

Genre Guide: YA Contemporary Romance

2015 March 25
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GenreGuideYAContempRomanceDefinition
Contemporary romance YA novels are realistic fiction that take place during (more-or-less) the time frame in which the book is being published that include a love story as a main focus of the plot. There are not any hard and fast rules regarding how close to publication year a story must be set in order to be contemporary, but it is a small window. As a result, it may be difficult for some of us to swallow, but a book published this year that takes place in 1999 would not fall into this category, but rather into the realm of historical fiction.

Characteristics
Contemporary romances usually include the full cycle of a romance, beginning with the meeting of the future couple. Occasionally characters will already know each other and rather than having an adorable or awkward meeting there will a trigger event that begins the change in feelings from platonic to romantic. Then, the relationship will be tested or stressed by some series of events. These events can range from simple misunderstandings that are blown out of proportion to serious matters or life and death. Eventually, the conflict is resolved and the characters are able to fully acknowledge their love, though this does not always result in a happily ever after.
When you hear the words “contemporary romance,” you may immediately picture pink covers with doodled hearts. Sure, some of these stories are adorably fluffy and I can often spot a YA contemporary romance from across the room based on its cover. Some, though, appear to focus more on the contemporary life aspect and may be more sarcastic, dry-witted, and/or out-right weird. The romance is definitely there, but it may not be the first thing that a reader thinks about. Still, others may have a heavy dose of trauma or life-threatening situations as part of the plot.

These stories may also include some other common themes in YA including sports, music, and LGBTQ characters.  read more…

For the Love of Cats: Felines in YA Fiction

2015 March 24
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Last month I wrote about canines in YA literature. This month I want to give equal time to the felines. Firstly because I had the joy of growing up in a household of cats. Secondly, there are dastardly cat gangs out there which watch our every move, and I don’t want to get on their bad side. Or so goes the familiar negative image of cats in some popular lore. However, anyone who has actually shared their life with cats knows that this is not at all the reality. Each cat, like each dog, has its own characteristics, whether affectionate or independent, forgiving or wary. With that in mind, in the following list I’ve tried to include fiction titles which I feel are well-suited to teens and which include feline characters in a variety of roles and with a variety of personalities.

blacksadBlacksad (Blacksad series) by Juan Díaz Canales & Juanjo Guarnido

The Spanish Canales and Guarnido originally created their Eisner Award-winning detective noir graphic novel series for French readers, but the setting is early 1950s U.S. This first volume collects the first three issues, which include a murder mystery and stories concerning the effects of white supremacy on individuals and the Red Scare. Private Investigator John Blacksad is an unforgettable feline. Lucia Cedeira Serantes, in her summer 2005 Young Adult Library Services article “¿Es un Pájaro? ¿Es un Avión?.…Spanish Comics for American Libraries” mentions two of the issues in this volume as being among the best in graphic novels and comics from Spain. (Adult Graphic Novel)

Book of Night with Moon (Feline Wizards trilogy) by Diane Duane

This is the first novel in a series which combines science fantasy, adventure, horror and even humor. There is a secret civilization of cats in Manhattan complete with its own language, a glossary of which is included in the novel. When the world is threatened with invasion by monsters from the “Downside”, four cats – Rhiow, Saash, Urruah and Arhu — seek out the wizard responsible for the dire situation. The cats make interesting observations about the differences between human and feline culture. (Adult Fiction) read more…

The Monday Poll: Basketball in YA Lit

2015 March 23
by Allison Tran
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monday_pollGood morning, Hub readers!

Last week, we explored alarming first lines in YA lit that grab our attention and compel us to keep reading. The votes were pretty well divided among the various options, but Kami Garcia’s Unbreakable took top honors with 21%. The line? “As my bare feet sank into the wet earth, I tried not to think about the dead bodies buried beneath me.” Shudder! We got some great alternative suggestions in the comments, so check out the post. 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’re kind of right in the middle of March Madness, right? I am clueless about basketball, but umm, how are your brackets going? (See, I totally sound like I know what I’m talking about right there.) So anyway, let’s have a basketball themed poll for the sports fans out there! Choose from the options below for your favorite basketball title in YA lit, or suggest another book in the comments!

What's your favorite basketball novel in YA lit?

View Results

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2015 Hub Reading Challenge Check-In #6

2015 March 22
by Libby Gorman
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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!

2015_reading_challenge_logo

I don’t know about anyone else, but as a slower reader, that June 21 deadline is starting to look awfully close already. I completed the Nonfiction part of the Morris/Nonfiction Challenge (and any reading done for either of those challenges counts, so make sure you include it in your total), but since then, I’ve only finished 3 other books. Yikes, I need to get a move-on!

What are your strategies for getting the reading done? I’m trying to balance books that just interest me with books I think I can read faster (hello, Great Graphic Novels and Quick Picks!). I’m also trying to always have one of the audiobooks going, because then I can read while I’m doing dishes, folding laundry, or driving. My problem then becomes getting immersed enough in any one story to finish it. I’m slowest at the start of a book, while I’m still getting to know the characters and the landscape, then, like a roller coaster, once I reach a certain zenith of interest in the story, I speed up toward the end. Half Bad was especially like this for me–I wasn’t sure what I thought of Nathan for quite awhile, and then I wasn’t sure I wanted to know what was going to happen, but once I got to the action climax, I found myself inventing chores so that I could listen to the ending.

As you are reading, don’t forget to use the hashtag #hubchallenge to share your progress on Twitter, or join the discussion over at the 2015 Goodreads Hub Reading Challenge group.

2015 reading challenge logo - participantRemember, you have until 11:59 PM EST on June 21st to finish at least 25 challenge books (here’s the full list of eligible titles).  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.   read more…

Tweets of the Week: March 20

2015 March 20
by Jennifer Rummel
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Spring is just around the corner, it’s time for warmer weather and sunshine. Lots of movie news this week with Insurgent hitting theaters and Paper Towns releasing publicity photos.

Book News:

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Realistically Speaking! New & Upcoming Realistic YA Fiction for Your Spring Reading

2015 March 20
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Vanishing GirlsHappy March, dear Hubbers! I’m trying to think of something fun and pithy to say about March, but, alas, I can think of nothing. So, let’s get to the main topic at hand – ALA Midwinter. Yes, I know Midwinter has been over for a month now, but I had put off so much work at my library preparing for Midwinter (shh – don’t tell my boss!) that when I came back, I was like, “uh, I have a ton of stuff to do.” Well, most of that “ton of stuff” is done, so I was finally able to dive in to a few of the ARCs that I brought home with me from Chicago.

As always, there are some great new and upcoming teen reads that I hope you will check out and recommend to teens! From a finale in a two-book series (a two-book series – I haven’t seen one of those in forever!) to ballerinas at each other’s throats to sisters and the complicated relationship they have, readers will have plenty to choose from in the upcoming months. One thing I will say that’s not related – I just finished Noggin by John Corey Whaley (I know, I know – I’m behind), and wow, did I love that book! I almost thought about sneaking it in this list, but I’m sure I would have been caught! Ha! Anyways…here we go…first up: something I know a lot about – sisters!

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