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Author: Ariel Cummins

Reel Good Reads: February

You guys, we’ve almost made it! The shortest day of the year is behind us, and we are creeping closer to spring every day. If you’re looking for a movie to brighten up your day (or serve as a centerpiece for a hot date), there are several new releases this month to keep you occupied. If you’d rather stay under the covers, though, check out one of this month’s recommended reads.

Escape from Planet Earth movie posterMovie: Computer animated movies keep getting better and better, and Escape from Planet Earth represents Rainmaker Entertainment’s first foray in to the field. This movie promises lots of laughs and silly sight-gags as it tracks Gary — head of mission control for planet Baab’s space exploration program — on his mission to save his brave and bold brother from a mission gone wrong.

Book Soulmate: If you want a silly space novel, look no farther than The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The modern sci-fi classic has crazy plot, hilarious writing, and more in-jokes than you can shake a stick at. It pretty much defies description (or at least it defies my modest writing talent’s ability to describe it), but suffice to say it starts out with one cranky Englander having a very, very bad day.

Reel Good Reads: January

6991676973_23dac0ddf2_bWelcome to another month of matchmaking books and movies! This month, we’ve got fairy tales gone action-flick, creepy children, and just the right amount of gallows-humor.

The Movie: Fractured fairy tales are always a favorite, and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters promises to provide some action to the tried-and-true tale. Picking up fifteen years after the, um, gingerbread incident, this film re-imagines Hansel and Gretel as attractive young people with a penchant for tracking down those of a more witchy persuasion.

pretty bad things c j skuse coverBook Soulmate: There’s definitely no shortage of fairy tale retelling in YA lit. If the thing that intrigues you most about Witch Hunters is that it’s a retelling of the Hansel and Gretel tale, check out Pretty Bad Things by C.J. Skuse. This isn’t a straight-up rehash, but H&G fans will relish in spotting the details (like twin protagonists, some serious woodland action, and plenty of candy) that tie these two stories together.

Reel Good Reads

Well, it’s getting to be that time again. Here in Texas, the air is getting slightly less hot, the birds have pretty much stayed where they are for the winter, and the leaves have stayed firmly on their trees. In more seasonally-inclined locales, though, you are probably enjoying crisp fall weather that’s perfect for cozying up with a good read. If the chilly air is keeping you from venturing out to the cinema this December, why not check out one of these books inspired by December’s new releases?

Movie poster for Red Dawn (2012)
The Movie: If the holly-jolly feeling of November has you feeling more Scrooge-y than merry, you may be in the mood for the action-filled remake of Red Dawn that opened this week. When Korean paratroopers invade Spokane, Washington, who else to defend the town than a rag-tag gang of young folks?

Book Soulmate: If you’re looking for an action-filled book about teenagers defending their homeland from a mysterious foreign invasion, you can’t go wrong with the modern classic Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden. Australian teens who decide to go camping for a week in the bush have no idea that when they return their hometown will be abandoned, and an invading country will have taken over. The first book in this critically-acclaimed series is filled with action and the tension of life-and-death decisions.

Reel Good Reads

A bookshelf and a film reel -- true love!Welcome to the first installment of a new feature here on The Hub: Reel Good Reads. Despite the super-cheesy title (leave your suggestions for a better title in the comments — I’m easily swayed!), I’m pretty excited! Each month, I’ll round up some of the most talked about new movie releases and point you toward books that will also tickle your fancy. Let’s get started!

The Movie: Perpetual video game baddie Ralph gets tired of being typecast as a villian and decides to take matters in his own hands in Disney’s newest animated feature, Wreck-It Ralph. His attempt to show that he’s hero material takes him through arcade games ranging from extra-pixelated vintage gems to the latest and greatest cart racing games. Of course, it wouldn’t be a movie if something didn’t go terribly wrong…

Book Soulmate: If what’s got you most excited about Wreck-It Ralph is its tongue-in-cheek solute to video games of days past and its celebration of what was once considered the realm of nerds, then 2012 Alex Award winner Ready Player One by Ernest Cline has got to be your next read! Set in an apocalyptic near-future, the world of Ready Player One is filled with people who plug in to OASIS, a huge multi-player world simulation invented by one man: James Halliday. When Halliday dies, he leaves his fortune not to family or friends, but to whomever can find a set of keys hidden in OASIS. Halliday just happened to be obsessed with the video games, movies, and music that he grew up with in the 1980s, which allows this book to become somewhat of a love-letter to the decade that gave us Space Invaders, Back to the Future, and, of course, The Goonies.

The Next Big Thing According to Internet Memes

YALSA’s upcoming YA Literature Symposium will explore the future of young adult literature. The symposium begins on November 2nd, but we wanted to get a head start here at The Hub, so we’re devoting October to 31 Days of the Next Big Thing. Each day of the month, we’ll bring you forecasts about where YA literature is headed and thoughts on how you can spot trends and predict the future yourself.

We’ve definitely got all kinds of perspectives this month as we focus on the Next Big Thing. I mean, it doesn’t matter if you’re interested in fantasy, or contemporary fiction, or even nonfiction — we’ve got you covered.

But since the Next Big Thing is all about the fast-changing world of public opinion and trends, I decided to head to the place where trends happen these days: the intertubes. I’ve rounded up some of the Internet’s most loved children, memes, to get their opinions on what the next big thing in YA is. If you’re still fuzzy on what a meme is, head on over to the Internet Meme Database, Know Your Meme, but be warned — it’s from the wilds of the internet, so there my be things that aren’t safe for all eyes. I’ll let the memes take it from here!

Twintastic Teen Tomes!

If you happen to be Twinsburg, Ohio this weekend, you’ll notice that the city is definitely living up to its name. That’s because Twinsburg hosts an annual Twins Day Festival on the first weekend of the August. In honor of what the Guinness Book of World Records has titled as the largest gathering of twins in the world, here’s a retrospective of teen books with twins that helped define the past thirty years.

Classic cover of Flowers in the Attic by VC AndrewsFlowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews
This book hit the scene in 1979 and definitely made some waves. While it wasn’t published specifically as young adult lit, this bestseller features four siblings: Cathy, Chris, and twins Cory and Carie. When their mother can’t afford to take care of them anymore, the family moves in with their grandmother. Weirdly, their grandmother banishes them to a locked attic. Things get stranger and stranger from there, in this book that scandalized many and has been passed around school yards for over thirty years because of its voyeristic and incestious content.

Sweet Valley High by Francine Pascal
If you ask the random person on the street to name the quintessential teen book that featured twins, they would probably not hesitate before naming this uber-popular book series. Created by Francine Pascal (but shhh — she used ghost-writers for many of the books), this series featured the pretty and popular identical twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. Over the twenty years they were in print, readers were treated to 152 Sweet Valley High books. Whether you identify with Jessica, the social butterfly who loves fashion, or Elizabeth, the sensible bookworm, these California girls were the talk of the lockers in the 80s.

You got your book in my app! You got your app in my book!

An iPod with headphones lays on a book.
Image courtesy of flickr user Michael Casey

Books and technology are often pitted against each other. I mean, how many times have you heard (or said yourself!), “Ah, no e-reader for me! I’m a dead-tree person!” I am here to tell you, though, that we live in a world that doesn’t force you to chose! You can love books and technology. If, like me, you want to have your trees and your pixels, too, check out some of these awesome (free!) book-related apps for your iOS or Android phones or tablets.

Out of all the bibliovore apps I’ve tried and tired of, Goodreads is the one that has a permanent spot on my home screen. Allowing quick access to your account, this app lets you search for books that are already on your shelves, check out reviews from friends and other members, and even scan barcodes to add books to your shelves. A must-have for people who read so much they can’t keep up with what they want to check out next (or have already forgotten the last book they read!)

YALSA’s Teen Book Finder
Created by The Hub’s own parent organization, YALSA, the Teen Book Finder was created to help lovers of YA lit find more YA lit to love! Currently available only for iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touches, this app lets you see three years of awesome YALSA lists and awards, find libraries nearby that have the book you’re looking for, and then share what you’ve found on Facebook and Twitter. Don’t have an Apple device? Then keep your eyes peeled for the Android version, expected before the end of the year!

Won’t Get No Sleep Tonight!

A picture of the moon through the iron of a street light
Image courtesy flickr user raselased

Have you guys ever looked at a copy of Chase’s Calendar of Events? If you haven’t, it’s a big book that’s put out every year with every sort of holiday, anniversary, and notable day you can ever imagine in it. (If you’re a total nerd like me and that sounds awesome to you, your local library probably has a copy hanging out somewhere.)

So, I was flipping through my Chase’s the other day when I noticed that May 12 is Stay Up All Night Night. Stay Up All Night Night is a celebration of how awesome it is to stay up late when you’re a kid, and it encourages people to stay up and relive some of that magic once they’re older. It’s celebrated annually on the second Saturday in May.

Thinking about Stay Up All Night Night got me thinking about books where most or all of the action takes place at night. Here are some of my favorites!

Paper Towns by John Green
Margo Roth Spiegelman is the girl Quentin Jacobsen can’t help dreaming about. She’s quirky and funny and smart and lives right next door. One night she knocks on his window in the middle of the night for a series of adventures that require, among other things, a fish, a bouquet of flowers, and a can of spray paint. Q thinks his dreams are finally coming true–until Margo disappears. Q knows something bad has happened, but can he find her in time?

Goodreads: A Reader’s Perspective

Recently, John Green posted on a response on his Tumblr to an advertising campaign for his new book, The Fault in Our Stars, on the social reading site Goodreads. While he was, obviously, thankful to his publishers for the publicity bump, he also used the opportunity to reflect on what Goodreads means to him as an author. Essentially, he is glad that there’s finally a way for readers to talk about books in a social and (this is the important part) pretty much public way. Buying books (or checking them out from the library!) shows that you’re interested in reading the book, but, up until now, there hasn’t been an easy way to tell what people think after they’ve read the book.

I love Goodreads for a lot of the same reasons John Green does. It’s useful to be able to see which of my friends have read a book when I’m checking out a book from the library. It’s also a great place to talk about books with my friends who live far away–it’s much easier to just comment on a review than to constantly send emails that say”“Did you read this? What about this one? How about this trilogy?!” I also like being able to write reviews so that I myself remember what I like about books. In other words, I love Goodreads because it’s a well-made social network for readers.

There is one thing about Goodreads that makes me feel a little … weird, and it’s pretty much the exact same thing that makes me love it:

There’s one for you, nineteen for me…

Pennies, nickles, and quarters
Image courtesy of flickr user pleeker
They say only two things in life are certain: death and taxes. While some characters in young adult novels definitely have to worry about the first (I keep hearing about this book called The Hungry Games? Or was it The Hunger Names? Have you guys heard about it?), most teen chacters only have to worry about the second. Lots of teens in young adult novels work in movie theatres or at restaurants. These characters, all featured in books that came out in 2011, will have something a little more unusual to put on their 1040s: