Happy 1st of May–otherwise known as May Day, or International Workers’ Day. May Day has long been celebrated as a spring holiday, with the most famous related celebrations including dancing around a May Pole or giving baskets of flowers to friends. While it’s not usually as large a celebration, many people still think of the first of May as a marker of the beginning of spring.
But May Day has become more than that. While most of us in the United States think of Labor Day (the holiday for celebrating the average working men and women) as the last gasp of summer in September, many countries celebrate their workers on May 1.
And finally, you’ve probably heard of “Mayday!” as the official radio cry for help. It comes from the French, “M’aidez!” (Help me!), and is used internationally in emergencies.
So here’s to May Day, and here are some books to help you celebrate:
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (Outstanding Book for the College Bound). In this now-classic dystopian story, a Christian theocracy has been set up in the former United States. Women are completely disenfranchised, and the protagonist, “Offred,” is a handmaid, a fertile woman assigned to an upperclass family for the sole purpose of bearing children. As the story unfolds, we learn that there is a resistance movement, called “Mayday.” Will Offred join the resistance? Will she even survive?
Mayday by Jonathan Friesen. This one has nothing to do with either holiday, or with radio cries for help, but with the title, I had to include it, right? And the first of May does play an important part of the story. Crow has sacrificed her life to protect her sister, Adele, from someone evil–but it didn’t work. She has the chance to return to her past, but only if she goes in someone else’s body. The outsider’s perspective forces Crow to re-evaluate what really happened. read more…
Happy end of April, Hubbers! I can’t believe it’s already almost summer; time moves very quickly when you’re not noticing, I guess. And, with that little rumination on the passage of time, I give to you the third and final installment in our The Hub Loves the ’90s series – great posts from Jessica and Katie have been featured in previous weeks, so be sure to check those out if you missed them the first time around.
The thing is, the 1990s were and continue to be the best decade that’s ever existed, and I’m not just saying that because that was when I was a teenager! Like Katie said, I developed interests and favorites in the world of pop culture that still stay with me today. I was just mentoring a teen the other day that was looking at the latest Rolling Stone that features Kurt Cobain on the cover. She made a really quick comment to me about how great he is. And, readers, let me tell you – that just sparked such a wonderful feeling in my heart because I could see that things I cared about (Nirvana being the #1 thing I loved as a teen) are still resonating with teens today. As an adult, you want to think the art that shaped you will matter in the future, and a lot of 90s pop culture is still attracting teens, which is pretty great.
Well, enough with my sappy introspection! With the influx of 90s culture into the current day, and like Katie mentioned, the influx of 30-somethings into the field of YA literature, we’ve got a bit of a ’90s revival happening in recent teen fiction. Now, there’s no way I want to call fiction set in the ’90s historical fiction (how old does that make me?!), so how about recent past fiction, instead? Good. It’s settled. So, here’s a list of some recent past fiction set in the 1990s that I thought I’d feature for all you Hubbers – first up, Facebook in the 90s?!
I’ve noticed a trend in young adult literature that has been growing over the past year or so- a lot of popular YA books are getting the graphic novel treatment. I first noticed this with Twilight a few years ago, but recently I’ve seen more and more popular YA fiction titles are being reimagined as graphic novels. The reasons for this escaped me for a while. Don’t get me wrong, I like comics. I have nothing but love for Batman and Batgirl. But when books that were successful and popular without pictures suddenly started showing up in my library in a completely new picture-filled format the first thing I asked myself was why?
The cynical side of me realizes it’s a whole new way to make money off of a story. We all know that books that get made into movies tend to sell better, so putting them out in graphic form is another way to extend their moneymaking. Or perhaps by changing the format of the books publishers can get people who already own the originals to buy them again. These are certainly valid reasons, and it’s likely there’s truth there. The non-cynical side of me sees other reasons for this trend.
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. read more…
In honor of National Poetry Month, I’m highlighting YA books (and one adult one) that feature teen characters who are obsessed with poets and poetry. I know it’s not a very original idea, although it’s harder to do than come up with a list of YA books written in verse. Still, I’m happy to know that there are still teens today who adore certain poets and yearn to write their own stirring and meaningful poetry, as I did as a teen. I’m sure it won’t come as a surprise that Emily Dickinson and Sylvia Plath are favorites with YA characters.
In an emotionally taut novel with a richly diverse cast of characters, readers will relish the poetry of Emily Dickinson and be completely swept up in the turmoil of two girls grappling with demons beyond their control. Goth girl Elizabeth Davis is struggling to control her anger before it destroys her. Her seemingly happy classmate Emily Delgado is struggling with depression. They are both in the same English class studying Emily Dickinson. Which one is driven to suicide? The powerful novel will keep readers guessing.
Eva, 16, still grieving over her father’s death two years previously in a plane crash, has taken solace in devouring romance novels (118 so far), much to her women’s studies professor mother’s dismay. Eva’s interest in writing poetry is reignited after she starts to tutor Will, a senior, and her long-time secret crush. As she helps him refine his college entrance essay and AP English class assignments, they bond over their mutual love of poetry and grief over losing a family member. When Will unexpectedly moves to CA, Eva and her super-intelligent best friend Annie find a way to travel across the country to visit him. Each section includes poetry by Eva’s favorite poets, including W. H. Auden, Nikki Giovanni, Emily Dickinson, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Adrienne Rich, W. B. Yeats, Mary Oliver, and Marie Howe, as well as Dylan Thomas and Elizabeth Bishop.
And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard (2014) 2015 Printz Honor winner
After her boyfriend kills himself in front of her after she ends their relationship because she’s pregnant and then is pressured to have an abortion, a traumatized Emily Beam transfers to a boarding school in Amherst, MA. Inspired by her namesake and favorite poet Emily Dickinson (whose poems appear throughout the novel) Emily writes her own heartfelt poetry about her relationship with her boyfriend, her suffering, and her journey toward healing.
Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero (2014) 2015 Morris Award winner
Sixteen-year-old Gabi Hernandez chronicles her senior year in high school as she copes with her friend Cindy’s pregnancy, friend Sebastian’s coming out, her father’s meth habit, her own cravings for food and cute boys, and especially the poetry she writes that helps her forge her identity. Some of the poets and poems she likes include “Loose Woman” by Sandra Cisneros, Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl”; Pablo Neruda’s “Tonight I Can Write”; and Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise”.
One of the most frequent readers’ advisory questions I get is also one of the most complicated. Often, a reader asks for a “funny” book. But what does that mean?
Humor is subjective. Some readers might be looking for a book with slapstick-y humor, others might appreciate darker humor, like satire. Some readers don’t mind a book with bits of humor but more dramatic themes overall, others just want an easy, breezy comedy.
Bottom line: matching books with readers looking for a funny book can be tricky.
Since April is National Humor Month, it seemed like a good time to break down the subcategories of humor and offer suggestions for readers looking for funny books.
Satire is the use of humorous exaggeration to expose and criticize, particularly in the context of politics or culture.
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (2012 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2012 Amelia Bloomer List, 2012 Rainbow List, 2014 Popular Paperbacks) is about a group of beauty pageant contestants who crash land on an island: hilarity ensues. But while a less adept writer might have just mocked the beauty-obsessed girls, but instead, she creates complicated characters who for various reasons—money, love, approval—have all bought into the rigid standards beauty pageant contestants are expected to embody, and in the process, critiques consumerism , reality TV, and of course, pageants.
The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde (2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults) is the story of Jennifer Strange, a wizard for hire who becomes the last dragonslayer. Like Bray, Fforde critiques the corporate world and consumer culture in this fantasy series sure to put a smirk on reader’s faces.
Teen readers who love satire should also check out the classics from authors like George Orwell and Kurt Vonnegut. read more…
Good morning, Hub readers!
There are so many things to celebrate in April! Last week, our poll asked you to choose your favorite YA vampire series in honor of National Garlic Day. We thought we might have been unearthing a somewhat passe trend, but your responses indicate that vampires still have their fans! The results were fairly evenly spread– Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series took top honors with 37% of the vote, followed by Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy books with 20%. LJ Smith’s classic Vampire Diaries won 13% of the vote. 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 honoring National Honesty Day on Thursday, April 30. Honesty is a virtue, but let’s turn the tables and talk about characters who seem to have a little problem with honesty. Who’s the best liar in YA lit? Whether they’re lying to others or lying to themselves, choose from the options below, or suggest another in the comments.
Who is the best liar in YA lit?
- Cady from We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (44%, 36 Votes)
- Noah and Jude from I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (33%, 27 Votes)
- Lola from Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (12%, 10 Votes)
- Micah from Liar by Justine Larbalestier (9%, 7 Votes)
- Shelby’s mom from There Will be Lies by Nick Lake (2%, 2 Votes)
Total Voters: 82
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!
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.
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). 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.
It’s Flashback Friday and The Hub is taking you back to the 1990s! Last week, Jessica Lind discussed the ’90s nostalgia emerging in contemporary pop culture in her post titles The Hub Loves the ’90s. Now we’re going to be flashing back to what young adults were reading in the ’90s. The inspiration for this post was the television show Fresh off the Boat. The show based on Eddie Huang’s best-selling memoir, is about a Taiwanese-American family living in the suburbs of Orlando, FL during the ’90s. The show gave me a very funny librarian thought: what if the tweenage Eddie went to the library on Fresh off the Boat– what would the librarian recommend to him? This thought caused me to crack open the librarian vault and take a journey back to the decade that had us rolling with the homies….
So it’s time to break out your flannel, find those old shoe-lace hair clips, put on Wannabe by the Spice Girls and grab your favorite Pogs, because we’re going to the 90’s!
Spring is here – Summer books are coming, BEA is coming, and blockbuster movies are coming.
I’ve got the round up of any news your might have missed this week.