It’s Your (Monthly) Monday Poll: May

Monday Poll @ YALSA's The HubHappy first Monday of May, Hub readers!

Last month, we asked which series finale or next installment you’re most looking forward to this spring, and Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven King was the favorite by a landslide (48% of the vote!). Tied for second were The Crown, Kiera Cass’ final book in the Selection series, and The Last Star, the final book of Rick Yancey’s 5th Wave trilogy, with 16% percent each. A Court of Mist and Fury was a close third, with 14%, and The Rose and the Dagger had 8% of the vote.

Today we’re going to revisit a poll theme from several years ago: your favorite YA siblings, updated with some more recently-published characters. Did we leave out your favorite siblings? Tell us in the comments! Continue reading It’s Your (Monthly) Monday Poll: May

2016 Hub Challenge Check-in #14

Not signed up yet for YALSA’s 2016 Hub Reading Challenge? Read the official rules and sign up on the original post. Anything you’ve read since the awards were announced counts, and the challenge runs until 11:59pm EST on June 23, so sign up now!

the hub 2016 reading challenge

 

I’m feeling a little shocked that it’s May already (I work in a school; crunch-time is descending!), but there are still over seven weeks of reading time left in this year’s Hub Reading Challenge, and I’ve got lots of titles I’m hoping to fit in before June 23rd.

Lately, I’ve read the latest Ms. Marvel installments (Vol. 3: Crushed, from the 2016 Great Graphic Novels for Teens Top Ten list, and Vol. 4: Last Days as well, which is not for the Hub 2016 Reading Challenge, but I really really love Ms. Marvel, so I’m planning to keep reading the series as long as G. Willow Wilson is writing them). I also finally got my hands on Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (this year’s Morris Award Winner), and am half-way through The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds, a 2016 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book.

 

Continue reading 2016 Hub Challenge Check-in #14

Hub Bloggers Love: Recent Young Adult Romances

Valentine’s Day might be over but that doesn’t mean some readers aren’t still in the mood to fall in love with a good love story!  If you’re looking for some recent titles to spice up a suddenly sparse book display or you’re in need of some new recommendations for your eager romantic readers, the Hub bloggers are here for you!HubLoveRomance

This week we’ve gathered together to showcase just a few of our recent favorite young adult romances.  Some of our picks are well-known titles while others might have slipped under the radar.  Either way, we hope you’ll find something new and exciting to read or share.  Want even more romantic reading inspiration? Check out Dawn Abron’s latest Diversify YA Life post highlighting interracial couples in young adult fiction or search our tags for past romance book lists.

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (2016 Morris Award Winner; 2016 Best Fiction for Young Adults)

After several months anonymously corresponding with a classmate he knows only as Blue, Simon Spier is sure of several facts: he is definitely gay, he is falling in love with Blue, and he does not want to share either of these realities with anyone else–at least, not yet.  But then Simon’s emails fall into the wrong hands and suddenly, his–and Blue’s–secrets are in serious danger of being revealed.  Can Simon find a way to come out on his own terms, without causing even more drama amidst his increasingly complicated group of friends, becoming the center of unwanted attention at school, or–worst of all–losing his chances with Blue, the perfect boy he’s never met? -Kelly D.

What We Left Behind by Robin Talley

In high school, Gretchen and Toni were that couple.  They prided themselves on the fact that they never fought and their friends all joked that they were already practically married.  Gretchen and Toni had the kind of love everyone else envied.  Then Gretchen decides that she’s not coming to Boston with Toni in the fall–she’s going to try out NYU for at least a semester instead, abandoning the plan the two have carefully constructed.  Toni is angry and Gretchen is guilty but still they’re convinced that they’re going to make it.  But while Toni, who’s quietly identified as genderqueer for about a year, finds a new sense of belonging with a group of older transgender students, Gretchen struggles to redefine herself as someone other than Toni’s girlfriend.  Is love enough or is the distance between more than mere geography?  – Kelly D.

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Sandwiched between the dependable Margot and mischievous Kitty, Lara Jean feels secure as the shy and quirky middle Song sister. She’s content being the one who stays home to scrapbook or bake on Friday night and she finds expression for her unrequited crushes in writing letters that she hides in a hatbox under her bed. But then Margot is heading off to Scotland for college and within weeks, disaster strikes when Lara Jean’s secret letters are mistakenly mailed out.   Now all her past crushes are coming back to haunt her as her first kiss, her camp crush, and the boy next door ( also Margot’s ex-boyfriend) each confront her about the letters.  And suddenly Lara Jean’s dependable and tidy life is spinning out of control.  -Kelly D. Continue reading Hub Bloggers Love: Recent Young Adult Romances

2016 Morris Award Winner: An Interview with Becky Albertalli

Becky Albertalli is the winner of the 2016 William C. Morris YA Debut Award, which was presented at the ALA Midwinter Youth Media Awards. A full announcement of all of the titles and authors honored at the 2016 YMA’s can be found here.

Simon vs. the Hsimonomo Sapiens Agenda follows the developing relationship between high school junior Simon and an anonymous boy he meets on his school’s Tumblr site “Creek Secrets.” Simon is not ready to come out to the rest of the school, but after forgetting to log out of his email, a classmate discovers his correspondence and begins blackmailing Simon in exchange for Simon’s attempts to persuade his best friend to go out with him. The heart of the story lies in Simon’s close friendships and the sweet, slowly developing relationship between Simon and the boy he knows only as “Blue.” Albertalli’s debut novel already has many devoted fans and, after her Morris Award win, is sure to gain more.

Congratulation on being selected as the 2016 Morris Award winner! Can you give us an idea of what was going through your head when you won?

Thank you so much! I’m ridiculously honored, and I can’t explain how much this means to me. I don’t know if it’s even sunk in yet that my book won this award! I found out via a phone call from the committee, and I didn’t see it coming AT ALL. Even after I was named a finalist for the Morris, I still didn’t think winning was in the realm of possibility. I’ve always viewed my book as a romantic comedy. I have a lot of feelings about how rarely romantic comedies are recognized as having literary merit, and I actually feel strongly that rom coms deserve award consideration. That said, I didn’t think MY rom com would be considered for a national award. I’m stunned and humbled and so, so grateful. To be honest, I was floored to be named a finalist alongside Anna-Marie McLemore, Kelly Loy Gilbert, Stephanie Oakes, and Leah Thomas. Their books blew my mind. I can’t even describe what it feels like to be honored next to them.

Social media plays a huge role in Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Simon and “Blue” meet through Tumblr and fall in love through emails. What was your reasoning behind having their relationship develop this way, and how do you think the story would be different if they had met “IRL”?

I love this question. Technology is a huge part of Simon’s story, and I truly believe this reflects the way many modern teens form the connections that matter most to them. There’s something almost magical about the way the internet shapes relationships. It allows us to get to know people, as Simon says, “from the inside out.” I think that possibility is meaningful for all of us – but for LGBTQIAP+ kids, it can be lifesaving. For Simon and Blue, who live in a conservative southern suburb, the internet is one of the only ways to connect with other gay teens. It allows them to find each other safely and anonymously, and it provides a space to discuss sexual identity before they’re actually out to friends and family. I can’t imagine this particular story even happening if they had first gotten to know each other “IRL.” Simon and Blue actually do know each other IRL in this story – but it’s hard to imagine them finding that intimacy and comfort with each other based on that relationship (I don’t THINK that’s a spoiler).

For what it’s worth, though, I think internet friendships and relationships do count as real life. Often, they’re even realer than what we think of as “real life.” Continue reading 2016 Morris Award Winner: An Interview with Becky Albertalli

Diversify YA Life: Social Justice League-Reader’s Advisory for Teens Dealing with Social Issues

As library workers, especially those of us who work with teens, our role can shift to “social worker” in an instant. Our teen patrons visit the library everyday and they begin to trust and confide in us.  Because most of us don’t have the training to work with at-risk youth, we can feel a little helpless but we don’t have to because we have the power of a good book.

About a year ago, a member of my book discussion group seemed to be questioning his sexuality and he never talked about it.  I gave him Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith to read because I thought the ending was perfect for his situation.  He loved the book and now he’s very open with his sexuality and he accepts who he is.  Did my recommendation help him? I don’t really know but I like to think it gave him some perspective.  When I see a teen who I think or know is struggling with a personal problem, I’ll strike up a book conversation on their next library visit asking them what they like to read.  If they are a reader, I’ll find a book from their favorite genre that deals with the subject they are struggling with.

In my library, I see homeless teens, teens with alcoholic parents, teens living with a dying parent, and teens dealing with gender identity and body image.  I used to feel powerless but after I recommended Grasshopper Jungle, I realized that I could be an effective adult in the lives of teens. Below are a list of good books that blend popular genres with social issues.  Gone are the days of feeling helpless. Say goodbye to sifting through numerous Google results.  You now possess the power of reader’s advisory in a flash.  You are the newest member of the Social Justice League!

Continue reading Diversify YA Life: Social Justice League-Reader’s Advisory for Teens Dealing with Social Issues

YA Books to Make You Laugh Out Loud

CC photo by Flickr User Joao Paulo de Vasconcelos
CC photo by Flickr User Joao Paulo de Vasconcelos

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

Satire is the use of humorous exaggeration to expose and criticize, particularly in the context of politics or culture.

beauty queensBeauty 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.  Continue reading YA Books to Make You Laugh Out Loud

Wishing Away the Winter Blues with YA Lit

Dreaming Abour #summerreadingThis is my fourth year living in a city that has an actual winter season and I can say that January and February are the most difficult times of year for me. The magic of first snowfall and all of the holiday celebrations are long gone. Now everything is just grey and cold and dirty. I don’t want to think about getting cozy with a warm beverage and good book like I did back in November. I want to think about warm climates and drinks served in hollowed-out coconuts.

One of the things that gets me through this time of year is planning and daydreaming about my annual summer vacation to my hometown in South Florida. I look at the calendar to determine the best arrival and departure dates. I create spreadsheets with all of the restaurants that I want to visit and all of the supplies and cute clothes I need to buy. I ponder if this is the year that I finally plan a road trip to Orlando to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. And I also begin to plan my vacation reading list.

I know that not everyone considers what they will read four months down the road, but it really is part of the process for me. There is an excitement in deciding what books will be part of my vacation. It is as important as deciding which sandals will be on my feet when I read them. Some of these are titles with well-timed release dates at the start of summer vacation, while others are upcoming releases that I plan to save.

Here is a peek at the start of my summer vacation reading list:

 

The Night We Said YesThe Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi – June 16, 2015
What’s better than reading a Florida author while on vacation in Florida? I’ve been waiting for this debut novel from Gibaldi F-O-R-E-V-E-R and I am so excited that it will be released shortly before my vacation begins so it will be waiting for me when I arrive. You’ll be able to find me on day one reading this one with my feet up.

 

Emmy & OliverEmmy & Oliver by Robin Benway – June 23, 2015
Benway is an insta-read author for me. Audrey, Wait! is one of my all-time favorite YA titles and I can often be found pushing it to readers interested in fun, contemporary stories. Emmy & Oliver seems to be a much more emotional story, though, and I cannot wait to see how it plays out.

 

Ripped from the PagesRipped from the Pages (A Bibliophile Mystery) by Kate Carlisle – June 2, 2015
While not YA lit, I think this series of cozy mysteries does have high teen appeal. This is the ninth release in the series and I’m excited to see what happens when Brooklyn joins her kooky family back on their commune in Wine Country, California.

 

The Girl at MidnightThe Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey – April 28, 2015
Thanks to Twitter, The Girl at Midnight hit my radar a long time ago. I am excited to welcome a new fantasy trilogy into my life and the buzz has been fantastic about this debut. Waiting a couple months won’t be as bad as waiting for books two and three (scheduled for release in 2016 and 2017, respectively).

 

 

MosquitolandMosquitoland by Davis Arnold – March 3, 2015
It’s going to be rough to wait on this one because I LOVE road trip stories. They scream vacation, though, so I’m going to do my best and hold out. Mosquitoland sounds like it will have all of the high points and low points that a real road trip has. Throw in a quirky cast of characters along the road and I’m sold.

 

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens AgendaSimon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli – April 7, 2015
The cover of this one demands my attention every time I see it – it’s so great! The story sounds like a fun and charming contemporary romance with some drama related to the not-so-openly gay protagonist’s e-mail correspondence. Many of the reader reviews I have seen relate to the readers’ inability to stop smiling and I cannot imagine anything better for a summer vacation reading list.

 

Hello I Love YouHello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout – May 26, 2015
If a contemporary romance about an American student studying in a Korean wasn’t enough for me, throw in the fact that the love interest in a KPop star and I am all over it. Musically-charged with an adorable love story and some family drama? This sounds amazing!

 

Made You UpMade You Up by Francesca Zappia – May 19, 2015
Not going to lie: this one had me at “for fans of Wes Anderson.” The main character struggles to tell the difference between reality and fantasy which in turns requires the reader to work out the difference. It sounds both adorable and funny which are great qualities in a vacation read.

 

Have you started planning your summer reading? Any upcoming releases that I should consider adding to my list? Leave a comment with your thoughts!

– Jessica Lind, currently reading Batgirl Vol. 2: Knightfall Descends by Gail Simone