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Author: Geri Diorio

2015 Hub Reading Challenge Check-In #19

2015_reading_challenge_logo “And now, the end is near, and so I face, the final curtain…”

OK, that’s hokey, but apt! The end is very near indeed! Tonight at 11:59 PM EDT the 2015 Hub Reading Challenge wraps up. If you took part and completed it, be sure to fill out the form below before 11:59 PM tonight so you will get credit AND be eligible to win our random drawing for a YALSA tote bag full of 2014 and 2015 YA literature. If the winner is a teacher or librarian or something similar, we will also toss in a few professional development titles!

Everyone who completes the Challenge will receive an elite digital badge to show off online. And if you completed it – well done!! That is a lot of reading and listening. I hope you enjoyed yourself and that you broadened your reading horizons; perhaps explored some genres you don’t normally venture into.  I didn’t actually hit 25 books myself, but just by taking part, I read some titles that I would otherwise never have even looked at!

We are still working on contacting all finishers, so don’t worry if you haven’t gotten your badge yet. Please feel free to use the comments here to tell the Hub what you enjoyed most about this year’s challenge, as well as what didn’t really work for you. Please share what books you loved and what books you didn’t love. If you’d rather email us that information, that works too. Don’t forget you can still peruse the #hubchallenge hashtag on social media to see what other folks have been doing, challenge-wise.

Thank you so very much for taking part in the 2015 Hub Reading Challenge! We hope you enjoyed yourself and that you’ve found some new authors and genres to dive into for the rest of the year. 

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Great Road Trip Audiobooks for Teens (And their Parents!)

photo by Flickr user Julien Sanine
photo by Flickr user Julien Sanine

It’s summertime and you know what that means: sunny skies, windows down, time to take a road trip! If you haven’t discovered the joys of audiobooks, summer road trips are the perfect time to dive into this medium. What could be better than having a book read to you? Have a talented, professional actor perform a book for you. The miles will fly by as you listen to a story come to life when presented by great voice talents.  But if you are traveling this summer with your family, choosing an audiobook can become complicated. You want a book that will be of interest to everyone, no matter their age, but you also want to avoid embarrassing plot lines. The Hub is here to help you.

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury read by Scott Brick the-martian-chronicles-book-cover
First published in 1950, this book is a “future history” of Mars. It is a set of connected short stories that together, tell of the people of Earth colonizing Mars and of how folks from Earth become Martians after a long enough time. It is beautifully written, as so many Bradbury works are, and it is hopeful yet grounded too. Scott Brick is an experienced and talented narrator whose smooth voice imparts all the drama and solemnity of humans making their way on an alien world. His voice trembles with rage and fear, soothes with velvet tones, and practically shouts with excitement when talking about rocket ships. These old fashioned tales are entertaining for all ages.

Reaready player onedy Player One by Ernest Cline read by Wil Wheaton
In the future, life is so terrible that most people escape into a virtual reality video game called OASIS. OASIS was created by a super rich, super smart techie who had a love of all things 80’s. This mastermind hid a puzzle inside the game. If players figure out the puzzle, they will inherit the game creator’s fortune! Needless to say, playing becomes vicious and potentially deadly. Actor Wil Wheaton, best known for his turn on Star Trek: The Next Generation performs Cline’s wonderfully kitschy dystopia with gleeful, nerdy energy. And I mean that in the best way. Families that enjoy pop culture and games and science fiction will get a kick out of this simultaneously futuristic and nostalgic novel.

Skink No Surrender by Carl Hiaasen read by Kirby Heyborne skink audio
Hiaasen writes great, goofy, strong characters and it is delightful to hear narrator Heyborne having fun, bringing them to life with his performance. The story is set in the wilderness of Florida’s rivers, where 14 year old Richard teams up with wild man Skink to find and rescue Richard’s cousin Malley from a kidnapper. The amazing descriptions will make listeners feel they are in a swamp, while Heyborne’s performance of young girls, teen boys, concerned moms, old men, and 20-something lowlifes is a delight.

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The Glorious 25th of May & Terry Pratchett

Lilacs
Photo by Flickr user Glenn Kraeck

It is the “Glorious 25th of May” and if you are a fan of the late Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, you no doubt understand what that means. If you have yet to discover the joys of the Disc, please let me explain. Sir Terry wrote 40 books set on the Discworld, a flat disc that is set on the backs of four elephants who stand on the back of a great turtle who is traveling through space. Ostensibly fantasy novels, they actually skewer both common genre tropes and human foibles. In Night Watch, a Discworld book featuring the city watch (think policemen), citizens rise up in a revolution and later, survivors of the People’s Revolution gather each year on May 25th to remember their fallen brethren while wearing lilac blooms on their lapels. After it was announced in 2007 that Sir Terry had Alzheimer’s, his fans started to honor him each May 25th by wearing lilacs. With his death on March 12 of this year, this Glorious 25th of May is an enormously bittersweet day. 

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2015 Hub Reading Challenge Check-In #15

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!

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Each week in these challenge check-ins, the Hub has encouraged you to use the hashtag #hubchallenge when you post about your progress on social media. There are only four weeks left in the challenge, and if you are heading into this home stretch and need some encouragement or fresh ideas to keep you reading, may I suggest perusing that hashtag? Even if you are not a Twitter user, you can Google “Twitter” and “#hubchallenge” to see what people have been talking about .

  • @hari_vert #hubchallenge #10 gabi a girl in pieces, by isabel quintero. now _this_ is what high school summer reading should be like.
  • @bobcatlibrarian Loved Through the Woods! So very Poe-esque and, dare I say, it had some POEtic moments. #hubchallenge
  • @Ms_Librarian_ “The text. I bet he calls it the text.” My favorite line so far in Five, Six, Seven, Nate. #hubchallenge #audiobook @TimFederle
  • @cavecibum I’ve reached the point in the #hubchallenge where I want to read what I want now, but I find completing the challenge very rewarding too.
  • @teenlibrarian1 #hubchallenge #5 Laughing at My Nightmare by Shane Burcaw is done! I laughed out loud so many times reading this book.
  • @kellylynnin I might have to call in sick tomorrow…#hubchallenge #readathon

After looking over all these tweets, I have not only gotten some good ideas about which books to read next (some of their tweets opened my eyes to books I never would have considered!), but now I also have some new people to follow on Twitter! These are my kind of people – passionate readers with strong opinions and interesting views.

Have you been checking out the hashtag#hubchallenge? Discovered any good tweets? Please share them in the comments, after you let us know your progress on the challenge. If you are on Goodreads, won’t you please join the 2015 Goodreads Hub Reading Challenge group.  You have until 11:59 PM EST on June 21st to finish at least 25 books from the official list, and if you participated in the Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge this year, you can count the books that you read for that challenge for this challenge as well.  2015 reading challenge logo - participantDon’t forget to post the Participant’s Badge on your blog, website, or email signature, and if you have any questions or problems, please let us know in the comments or via email.

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, 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. 

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Quiet Books: They Deserve More Love

lost-boy-coverHold-Me-Closer-Necromancer-cover out-of-nowhere-cover dead ends cover

 

 

 

 

When you think about YA fiction, there are the “big” books – The Hunger Games, The Fault in Our Stars, Divergent, Twilight, Fangirl, Grasshopper Jungle – these are the books that are in the magazines, that have been adapted as movies, that everyone seems to be talking about. They are great books not in need of any additional promotion. Everyone knows about these titles.

But today, I’d like to talk about those other YA books out there. Books that, in my opinion, are just as good, just as heart rending, as powerful, as emotionally satisfying, but for whatever reason, they did not hit the publicity jackpot. They are what I call quiet books. It is not that their plots or characters are quiet, but their fame is quiet. They may not get as much love, but I feel they are worthy of attention. Here are some quiet books; books that I feel deserve more renown. I hope you will read them and discover new authors and stories. Do you know of some quiet books of your own? Please leave a comment and tell us all what books you think are unsung! I’d love to add more quiet books to my ‘To Be Read’ pile.

Dead Ends by Erin Jade Lange
Dane is a high school senior, an excellent student, and one suspension away from expulsion. He has anger management issues. Dane must spend time with Billy, a high schooler with Downs Syndrome, to work off his detentions. To the surprise of both boys, they develop a real friendship based on their similarities: both are fatherless, both have tempers, and both appreciate cute girls. Lange writes realistically about teens with rough lives, and readers will believe in the friendship, will feel Billy’s pain of abandonment, and will appreciate the honesty of the not-tied-up-with-a-bow ending.

Hold Me Closer Necromancer by Lish McBride (A 2011 Morris Finalist)
Is humorous horror a genre? Because that is the best way to describe this unique and charming book. Sam’s life is not the best, but it’s not the worst. He has friends, a job, and a loving mom. He has no idea that he is a necromancer, a magician who can control the dead. A dumb prank brings him unwanted attention from a powerful necromancer who wants Sam to work with him, or be killed. Sam must learn to master powers he never knew he had, fast. McBride writes snarky, funny, sweet, and scary characters and places them in unusual magical jeopardy. She makes death and situations around it scary but also somehow silly. Knowledge of ’80s pop music is not required, but does enhance the reading experience. 

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2015 Hub Reading Challenge Check-In #11

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!

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My fellow readers, I am having an attention problem. There are two television shows that are just devouring my time right now: The Flash and Game of Thrones. I watch them faithfully. I read reviews and online recaps. I scour Tumblr for behind the scenes information about them. And all of this takes up time that I should be spending finishing up my Hub Reading Challenge!

There are eight weeks left in the challenge, but I need special motivation to tackle some of the books I have left. So here’s the plan: I will read Batman Science: The Real World Science Behind Batman’s Gear because it will appeal to my super-hero loving heart. (And yes, I know Batman doesn’t have super powers – he’s the world’s greatest detective – but if I don’t use this argument, I’m only going to read more Snowbarry fanfic to tide me over in between Flash episodes.) And I shall read The Story of Owen, Dragonslayer of Trondheim. There is not much magic in the book, but there are swords and dragons and songs and that’s good enough to remind me of Game of Thrones! Finally, I will read All the Light We Cannot See. This book has nothing to do with superpowered speedsters or vicious political fighting for a kingdom, but it did just win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and thus must have something going for it.

How about you? Do you have any tricks to motivate you to finish the challenge? Please tell us in the comments and help out your fellow, easily distracted readers! You can also keep in touch with us on social media. Use the hashtag #hubchallenge to post updates on Twitter or join the 2015 Goodreads Hub Reading Challenge group.

2015 reading challenge logo - participantYou have until 11:59 PM EST on June 21st to finish at least 25 challenge books (here’s the full list of eligible titles).  You can include 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 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.

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2015 Hub Reading Challenge Check-In #7

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!

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Thirteen! Wait, let me rephrase that: 13! That is the number of books I’ve read and listened to for the 2015 Hub Reading Challenge. I am more than halfway done! And there are still twelve weeks left to complete it. That works out to a book a week – I can totally do it! How about you? How are you doing? I tore through a bunch of graphic novels in recent weeks; Ms. Marvel, Seconds, and Tomboy, and they were terrific. Perhaps grouping books by format or genre or some other randomly selected criteria will help me tackle another bunch. Maybe it’s time to hit the audio books, or perhaps I should focus my efforts on horror, or realistic fiction. Tell me in the comments how you are doing, and also let me know your plan of attack. Perhaps your ideas will inspire me and other Hub readers.  Twelve more weeks? We got this.

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 - participantYou 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.  

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YA Lit with an Irish Connection

 

Slemish Mountain, the legendary home of St. Patrick. Photo by Flickr user Identity Chris Is
Slemish Mountain, the legendary home of St. Patrick. Photo by Flickr user Identity Chris Is

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! It is the feast day of the patron saint of Ireland. Patrick was not born in Ireland, but was taken captive by Irish pirates and made a slave. Although he eventually made his way home to Britain, he return to Ireland as a Christian missionary and is thought to have converted thousands of people. Using a shamrock as an illustration of the Christian Holy Trinity, “banishing” all snakes from the island, having his walking stick turned into a tree; the folklore and tales surrounding him forever tie Saint Patrick to Ireland. So on this, his celebratory day, how about considering some excellent Irish YA fiction? These books are set on The Emerald Isle and most are by Irish authors; try one or two to get a taste of great Irish literature.

Long Story Short by Siobhan ParkinsonLongStoryShortcover
Jono and Julie’s alcoholic mother is mostly useless when it comes to actually parenting, but Jono feels he and Julie are not doing too badly all in all. But when their mother hits Julie one day, Jono knows he must get the two of them out of there, away from the abuse and neglect, and far from child services who will separate them. Parkinson was Ireland’s first laureate for children’s literature. Her writing is exquisite and her storytelling masterful. Jono is not the most reliable of narrators; as he spins his tale, readers will be kept on their toes, and not just with worry for these two vulnerable kids.

NewPolicemancoverThe New Policeman by Kate Thompson (Best Books for Young Adults 2008)
There never seems to be enough time to do all the things you want to do. This seems especially true in Kinvara, Ireland where JJ lives with his family. After his mother wishes for more time, JJ learns about a portal to Tír na n’Óg, the Land of Youth, where time stands still. Could this be where all the lost time goes? JJ wants to make the journey there, but he learns that venturing into the faerie realms can be fantastic, but also dangerous. This novel is drenched in Irish culture and folklore. Pro tip: listen to the audio book if you can. The chapters are interspersed with bits of music from Irish folk songs!

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2015 Hub Reading Challenge Check-In #3

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 9 counts, so sign up now!

2015_reading_challenge_logoAre you familiar with the modern aphorism “don’t read the comments?” In general, online, it is wise advice, but it does not apply to The Hub and it especially does not apply to the annual Reading Challenge! There are so many books to choose from. Look at this list! If you feel overwhelmed, I encourage you to find all the posts tagged “2015 Hub Reading Challenge” and then read their comments, reply to people, maybe start a dialog. Hub readers are encouraging, cheerful, and smart. They offer good, well articulated insights into what they like and dislike about books. You will get a solid feeling about books you may be waffling on. And you can get so much support from your fellow readers as you all work towards completing the challenge.

As you work on the challenge, why not share your progress on social media? On Twitter please use the hashtag #hubchallenge.  If you are a Goodreads person, you can join the 2015 Goodreads Hub Reading Challenge group.

Don’t forget that the titles you read during the Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge count for this challenge but if you’ve read any of the other books before February 9, you’ll have to read them again to make them count.

2015 reading challenge logo - participantYou have until 11:59 PM EST on June 21st to finish at least 25 books.  When you read the weekly check-in posts, again, please don’t forget to read the comments and keep track of your progress by commenting yourself! If you review books online, please include links to your reviews. Also, 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. 

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For Mardi Gras: YA Books Set in New Orleans

Mardi Gras photo by Andy CastroToday is Mardi Gras, the cumulation of Carnival celebrations before the start of Lent tomorrow. Lent is a specific time in the Christian calendar when believers are meant to fast and practice self-denial. Mardi Gras is sort of meant to allow people to go a little crazy before the austerity of Lent. The very name means “Fat Tuesday” – as in: eat a lot of rich foods today before you have to fast tomorrow!

In the United States, the celebration of Mardi Gras is most closely associated with New Orleans, Louisiana. There will be parades, balls, and dancing in the streets today and tonight down in “The Big Easy.” Of course New Orleans is more than just Fat Tuesday celebrations. There is a lot of history there including the civil rights movement and Hurricane Katrina. Perhaps some of these New Orleans-set YA novels will transport you mentally down south to New Orleans.
the Iron King cover

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa (2011 Teens’ Top Ten book)
A teenage girl’s baby brother is taken by fairies and as she chases after him, she discovers secrets about herself. Meghan has always felt different, she’s never fit in anywhere. Perhaps this is because she is half fey, half human, the daughter of Oberon, king of the fairies. As she pursues her brother, she discovers unlikely allies, love, and the fact that the Unseelie Court controls some humans…human who live in New Orleans.

Ship-Breaker-coverShip Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi (2011 Michael L. Printz award winner)
In the future, sea levels have risen so much that the US coastlines have moved far inland. In an area that used to be New Orleans, Nailer works as a ship breaker, taking apart old, wrecked ships for scrap. It is a dangerous and dirty job, and young Nailer is always looking for more money and more opportunities. When a rich person’s gorgeous yacht beaches due to a storm, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot. But when he finds a girl on board, unconscious but still alive, he becomes torn between survival and doing the right thing. 

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