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Jukebooks: Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

2014 September 10
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SinnerCole St. Clair is returning to a Los Angeles and a life of rock star glory, but it will all be for nothing if he can’t find the infuriating Isabel, a girl he cannot live without. Cole is not an easy person; he is, in his own words, “…a performer, a singer, a werewolf, a sinner.” Isabel wants to believe in Cole’s love, but doubt hardens her heart. When these two thunderclouds collide, expect a spectacular storm of a relationship.

Readers were introduced to Cole and Isabel in the second book of The Wolves of Mercy Falls series, Linger. This book is all about them.

Maggie Stievfater compiled a playlist of the songs she listened to while writing Sinner.  You can find the whole list here: https://soundcloud.com/maggie_stiefvater/sets/whitepantsnovel  My favorite is “Unkinder (A Tougher Love)” by Thumpers. It’s a very hip kaleidoscope of sound, combined with video effects that are both nostalgic and surreal. Very L.A.

-Diane Colson, currently reading Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols

No Tense Like the Present

2014 September 9
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I don’t know if it’s my penchant for once-upon-a-time fairy tale retellings, but when I pick up a book, I expect it to be narrated in past tense. Recently, though, it seems like more and more YA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAbooks are being told in present tense. I’m not quite sure why this is a trend, but I find the more frequent use of present tense interesting and occasionally annoying (I write this completely aware of the irony that I am writing this post in the present tense).

I remember clearly the first time I noticed a story was being narrated in present tense–I honestly don’t remember the book or even quite when in my life this was, but I found the narration clunky and distracting, and I put the book down after a chapter or less. Looking back, I’m not sure if the writing was bad or clunky at all, or if I was just completely put off by the present tense. Now that I have encountered many more books that use present tense, I usually find it easier to ignore the tense and fall into the story, but not always. After all, past tense is something of a common language in English narrative writing, and it’s not like an author can’t convey that something is happening now even while using past tense. september_girlsFor example, Sam in Bennett Madison’s September Girls (2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults) describes his current whereabouts using past tense: “I had decided to take a walk, and now I was alone at the edge of the water as it came and went” (p. 22).

When I thought about writing a Hub post on this topic, I decided to speculate about reasons why an author might choose to use the present tense instead of the past. This seemed like a good way to try to appreciate this writing technique better. Here are some possibilities I’ve come up with: read more…

I Fought the Law and I Won: Taking a Stand in YA Lit

2014 September 8
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Photo by atomicjeep. CC BY 2.0

Photo by atomicjeep. CC BY 2.0

From dystopian futures, to political protest, to legal disputes, YA literature is full of stories about fighting the rules and even laws. This post rounds up some of the best examples of teens winning these battles in YA literature across genres and time periods. Find a book that will inspire you to stand up for your beliefs.

Dystopian Futures
Many dystopian novels are at their core about teens fighting unjust governments. From The Giver by Lois Lowry to Divergent by Veronica Roth (both of which happen to have been made into movies this year), these stories often center around teens who discover the dark side of their society and decide that they are willing to risk it all to fight for their beliefs and for justice.

little brother cory doctorow coverLittle Brother by Cory Doctorow (2009 Best Books for Young Adults) - Set in a near future where a terrorist attack prompts an increase in government surveillance, both this book and its sequel, Homeland, show teens fighting back against the government and standing up for their rights. Teens who are interested in hacking will particularly enjoy this one since the main character is a hacker who uses his skills to take down those more powerful than he is.

The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson – Set in a far future Brazil, The Summer Prince tackles issues relating to relationships, art, technology, and government control through the story of June Costa, a young artist living in a society that is divided by class, gender, and technology use. Johnson has created a world that feels completely foreign while still being wholly believable and fans of science fiction will enjoy getting lost in it.  read more…

The Monday Poll: Your Favorite Librarian in YA Lit

2014 September 8
by Allison Tran
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photo by flickr user aussiegall

photo by flickr user aussiegall

Good morning, Hub readers!

Last week, in the spirit of back-to-school season, we wanted to know which school from a YA novel you’d want to attend. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the majority of you opted for Hogwarts from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, leading with 91% of the vote. Those wands and talking portraits are tempting, aren’t they? But a few of you chose other fictional schools: Ever After High from the series of the same name by Shannon Hale took in 4% of the vote, and Aglionby from The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater garnered 3%. You can see detailed results for all of our previous polls in the Polls Archive. Thanks to all of you who voted!

Now for this week’s topic! Did you know September is Library Card Sign-up Month? In celebration of this very important occasion, we’re asking you to weigh in on your favorite librarian from YA lit. Vote in the poll below, or add your choice in the comments.

Who is your favorite librarian from YA lit?

  • Lirael from Lirael by Garth Nix (28%, 27 Votes)
  • Marian from the Beautiful Creatures series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (23%, 22 Votes)
  • Princess Cimorene from the Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia Wrede (18%, 17 Votes)
  • Madam Pince from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (15%, 14 Votes)
  • Nickamedes from the Mythos Academy series by Jennifer Estep (9%, 9 Votes)
  • The Librarians from Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson (7%, 6 Votes)

Total Voters: 95

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Tweets of the Week: September 5th

2014 September 5
by Allison Tran
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It’s September! The Twitterverse is filled with chatter about the new schoolyear and football, as well as current events like the recent invasion of celebrity privacy and the passing of 81-year-old comedian Joan Rivers. Did you miss any tweets? We’ve got you covered.

tweets of the week | the hub

 

Books

read more…

Is This the Real Life?: Graphic Novels

2014 September 5
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September brings a lot of things: cooler temperatures, pumpkin everything, the start of a new school year, Library Card Sign-up Month, and Banned Books Week, to name just a few. This year, Banned Books Week is focusing on comics and I thought I would share some contemporary, realistic graphic novels. What other recommendations do you have?

Seconds by Bryan O’Malley
Katie’s life was going pretty well– until it wasn’t. She soon discovers a way to do things over… and soon Katie can’t stop redoing anything that goes wrong.

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
Rose and her family spend their summers at Awago Beach. This summer is different. Her parents won’t stop fighting and she and her friend get tangled up in some local drama. read more…

“Grown-Up” Books (For the Kid in You)

2014 September 4
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Girl_Reading

When did you start to love reading? Can you remember the first book that did it for you?

Why, yes I do remember–so glad you asked! I was in third grade at my local public library with my friend Margaret (a bookworm and savvy reader a few years older than me). She thrust Lois Lowry’s Anastasia, Again at me so I shrugged and checked it out. I spent the rest of that afternoon on my front porch for hours happily lost in the book. I was a reader. And I haven’t looked back since.

Over the years, I have found that the phase of life in which you read a book affects your outlook on it. Have you ever re-read a beloved book only to find you now despise it? Have you discovered that you still love that same book but notice a lot of different stuff now? If you’ve grown up reading chances are you have many fond memories of the greats you read as a kid. In this line of thinking my colleague Meaghan Darling and I put together some recommendations of titles to try now based on what you liked when you were younger.

Witches_HUB

 

 

* The Witches by Roald Dahl –Beautiful Creatures (2010 Morris Finalist) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Some witches are good, some are bad—but all are powerful!

 

read more…

Jukebooks: Wildflower by Alecia Whitaker

2014 September 3
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Wildflower by Alecia WhitakerThe Barrett Family Band travels the road in Winnie, their trusty RV, playing bluegrass at bars, festivals, and any other kind of venue that likes footstompin’ music. They’re scheduled to play at the Station Inn in Nashville when Dad, the family’s lead singer, comes down with laryngitis. Suddenly the focus is on sixteen year-old Bird, usually the fiddle-player and back-up singer, to take the lead. Nervously, Bird sings one song that she knows very well because she wrote it herself. As it happens, the president of a large record company is in the audience, and he offers Bird a deal.

Fans of the television show Nashville will know it’s a big deal when Bird is invited to play with other young musicians at the Bluebird Cafe. Like Scarlett on the show, Bird uses the words from her journal to compose songs. Her first big hit is “Notice Me.” What does it sound like? Well, no one will really know until the end of September. That’s when the winner of Justine Magazine’s Wildflower Talent Search is announced. Author Whitaker includes the lyrics and sheet music for “Notice Me” in the book. It’s up to the contestants to display their talent through interpretation and performance.

For now, curious readers can listen to “Girl in a Country Song” by Maddie and Tae. Whitaker says:

This is exactly the sort of song I can see Bird writing. I love that these two girls, Maddie and Tae, write music from their hearts. This song really says something – boldly. I picked up on a few of the references about the male heavy world of country music and these girls weren’t shy about it. They are straight calling guys out.

-Diane Colson, currently reading Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

Librarians Love: Contemporary Romance Beyond Best Sellers

2014 September 2
by Gretchen Kolderup
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by Flickr user Leland Francisco

by Flickr user Leland Francisco

YALSA-bk is a listserv with lively discussions among librarians, educators, and beyond about all things YA lit. Sometimes one listserv member will ask for help finding books around a certain theme or readalikes for a particular title. This post is a compilation of responses for one such request.

The original request
One of my book clubs is looking for a good romance to read but I can’t give them “the usual suspects” (aka John Green, Huntley Fitzpatrick, Rainbow Rowell) because they’ve read all of those highly publicized ones. I’m looking for one that is off the radar, preferably paperback, that will sweep them off their feet and isn’t too brazenly in-your-face with the language and physical stuff (aka Jamie McGuire, Simone Elkeles, Katie McGarry.)

read more…

Bookish Brew: Summer Smoothie Edition

2014 September 1
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Image by Flickr user Pamela Bates

Image by Flickr user Pamela Bates

I don’t know what the weather’s like where you are, but here in southern California we’ve had some pretty hot days recently.  So I thought that for this entry in my occasional Bookish Brew series, a cool summer smoothie would be more in order than a hot drink.  Make that two smoothies– one for each of the narrators of Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando’s wonderful and authentic Roomies (2015 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers Nominations List). 

When Roomies begins, teens Lauren and Elizabeth are a couple months away from starting their freshman year at the University of California, Berkeley.  They have just received each other’s names and email addresses from the campus housing office because they have been matched as dorm roommates.  Lauren lives in San Francisco, California, which is not far from the city of Berkeley.  In her loving two-parent family, she is the eldest of her siblings by several years.  Her responsible nature may stem partly from her heavy child-rearing responsibilities.  She is somewhat shy, concerned with honesty and aims to work in scientific research.  Elizabeth, also known as E.B., lives in suburban New Jersey near the Shore with her single divorced mom with whom she does not have a close relationship.  Elizabeth can be overly sensitive at times and is more impulsive than Lauren, as well as more outgoing.  She plans to study landscape architecture. 

roomies zarr altebrandoInitiated by Elizabeth of course, the two begin an email correspondence over the summer.  They share the details of their lives and soon after their feelings and frustrations about friends, family and boyfriends.  This is not an epistolary novel, however; these emails are one component of a traditional narrative.  The two girls alternate narrating chapters. 

Initially Lauren and Elizabeth experience a mainly positive interaction, getting a feel for each other’s personalities, leaning on each other throughout a couple situations in their personal lives and sharing the joys of their respective first loves.  A misunderstanding arises, however, connected to Elizabeth’s estranged father, who lives and owns an art gallery in San Francisco.  Both girls are challenged to look at the situation through the other’s eyes and decide whether reconciliation is possible.  In an interview with Harvard Magazine (September-October 2014) Tara Altebrando describes how she and Sara Zarr wrote the book both separately and together over a period of three years and mentions that they are considering either a sequel or another collaborative project.

I highly recommend listening to the audiobook version of Roomies if you can, which is voiced by Becca Battoe and Emily Eiden.  These two readers do an amazing job of vocally capturing the distinct rhythms and personalities of Lauren and Elizabeth, not to mention the differences in regional accents. 

But now the time has come to blend!  When choosing the ingredients for a “bookish brew” I consider the setting and the essential traits or qualities of the main character of a novel.  As there are two quite distinct main characters in Roomies, I’ve created two smoothies.  read more…