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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2021) Nominees Round Up, July 31 Edition

Click here to see all of the current Best Fiction for Young Adults nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.

The Best Laid Plans by Cameron Lund
Razorbill / Penguin Random House
Publication Date: April 7, 2020
ISBN: 978-0593114919

There are no secrets in Keely’s small hometown or in her even smaller graduating high school class. So everyone knows that Keely is still a virgin. Literally everyone else in her class has found someone to lose it to, but Keely has a hard time seeing any of her classmates as possible romantic interests when she’s known them all since they were picking their noses and eating glue in kindergarten. So when Keely gets a job at the local video store with cute college guy Dean, she’s determined to have sex before she goes to college. And who better to make her seem like an experienced, worldly seductress (instead of the clueless virgin that she is) than her player BFF Andrew? But even the best-laid plans go awry, and Keely’s whole plan depends on staying JUST FRIENDS with Andrew–which is suddenly much, much harder than it’s ever been before…

#AA2019 Nominees Roundup, March 21 edition

Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga, narrated by Soneela Nankani
Balzer & Bray / HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: November 7, 2017
ISBN: 978-0062689221

For the past three years, sixteen-year-old Jordanian-American Tal has been writing to indie rock star Julian Oliver, convinced that he is her father.  Tal’s evidence: a take-me-back letter from Julian to Tal’s mom, Lena; the fact that Lena attended college in Julian’s small hometown and facial similarities between Julian and Tal.  

Oscars Best Picture Nominees: Readalikes

Credit Flickr user Rachel Jackson
Credit Flickr user Rachel Jackson

We are in the midst of Hollywood’s award show season with what seems to be an endless variety of shows every weekend. Each show bringing new red carpet styles, Youtube-able acceptance speeches and a new list of what films to watch. In the spirit of this flurry of film festivities and movie lists, we thought a readalikes post would be the best way for us at the Hub to partake in all of this fun. So in preparation for the quintessential award show, the Oscars, we’ve come up with a list of a YA readalikes for some of this year’s most talked about films – The Academy Awards Best Picture Nominees.

Special thanks goes to Hannah Gomez, Jennifer Rummel, Erin Daly, Tara Kehoe, Sharon Rawlins, Jessica Lind and Wendy Daughdrill for helping to create these booklists.  

What Would They Read: Agent Carter

I’m a huge fan of the Marvel Universe, so I’m really excited to learn more about Agent Carter in the mini-series that premiers tonight. Here are some books I imagine might be on her nightstand should the occasion arise when she’s in need of a good read. They are all about feisty heroines, just like herself.

The Girl is Murder by Kathryn Miller Haines (2012 Readers’ Choice List)
After her father lost his leg at Pearl Harbor, the Andersons had to move. Now he’s a private investigator. His daughter, Iris, stumbles across his latest case and realizes that she could be of some help. Secretly, she attempts to gather clues on her own.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (2013 Teens’ Top Ten, 2014 Popular Paperbacks, 2013 Printz Honor Book)
A British spy plane crashes over Nazi territory in France leaving two girls in very grave danger.

Genre Guide: Spy Fiction

By Employee(s) of Universal Studios (Photograph in possession of SchroCat) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Employee(s) of Universal Studios (Photograph in possession of SchroCat) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Definition
Spy fiction is a sub-genre of mysteries and thrillers. For a novel to be considered spy fiction, some form of espionage must be present in the plot. This can include one person as a spy, or a whole agency of spies.  Spy fiction can be set in the present day, past, and future. When spy fictions are written for teens, the protagonist or protagonists are often inexperienced and considered amateur sleuths.

Authors to Know

Characteristics
Spy fiction must have action and adventure. Though some have it outright, others may have more of a cerebral approach.  The main character or characters have a mission that is given to them at the start of the story.  This can be a mission that they adopt themselves or one that is handed to them by a higher-up.  Oftentimes, spy fiction involves some kind of political entity, either employing the spy or working against them. In spy fiction, good and bad parties are clearly defined.  Most often, we are receiving the story from the good guy’s point of view, and that good guy is the spy.   However, readers must always beware of the double agent!  Unless part of a series, most spy fiction novels end with justice.  However, before justice is carried out the reader is usually led on a series of twists and turns and kept guessing as to if the main character will be victorious in the end.  Spy fictions are usually set in the past, alternate past, or present, and rarely are they set in the future.

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

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. 

Great Britain Across The Genres

London bus by E01. CC BY-SA 2.0.
London bus by E01. CC BY-SA 2.0.

Great Britain has always been a popular setting in all types and genres of literature. While I have read many books set there over the years, I never really thought about exactly how many books I enjoy are set in Great Britain until I started planning a trip to England and Scotland. But as I did start reflecting on some of my favorites, I realized how integral the British setting is to many great YA books across multiple genres. Whether you are an Anglophile looking for a new read, or are simply interested in reading books set there before planning your own trip, this list offers great British settings for fans of all genres.

Fantasy
The Name of the StarThe Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson (2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults– Rory Deveaux isn’t sure what to expect when she moves from the U.S. South to a boarding school in London, but it definitely isn’t getting caught up in a series of horrifying killings copying those of Jack the Ripper. When she becomes a key witness to one of the crimes, Rory gets dragged into the case and might even become his next victim if she isn’t careful. In this, the first of the Shades of London series, plot twists and laughs both come fast and furious. You won’t be able to stop with just one book; but if you start now, there is still plenty of time to catch up with the first two books before the next one comes out early next year. 

Diverse YA Titles to Look for at ALA Annual

Photo Jun 22, 6 52 28 PMAs a follow-up to Hannah Gómez’s post #DiversityatALA about the current movement to be vocal about the need for more diversity in YA literature (#weneeddiversebooks), and Kelly Dickinson’s post featuring LGBTQ titles, I’m here to list some upcoming YA books that contain non-white, non-heterosexual, non-cisgendered or differently-abled characters that you should be on the lookout for. If you are attending the ALA Annual Conference this weekend in Vegas, ask the publishers about ARCs for many of these. Not all of them will be available as ARCs because some aren’t being published until 2015, but publishers’ reps should still be able give you the scoop on them.

To start, I’m including a few recent notable books that you probably know about and a few that aren’t as obvious because the reviews might not have mentioned their diverse content, or you can’t tell from their jacket flaps.

Photo Jun 23, 2 15 16 AMFreakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark (2014 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults) is a novel about a transgendered boy while a strong pick for a nonfiction book about transgendered teens is Susan Kuklin’s Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out.

I wasn’t aware that  the main character Chevron “Chevie” is descended from the Shawnee Native American tribe in Eoin Colfer’s Warp: Book 1 the Reluctant Assassin until I started reading it. The second book in the series, Hangman’s Revolution is coming out today. Park in Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (2014 Printz Honor book) is half-Korean.

In Stick by Andrew Smith the main character “Stick” is differently-abled because he was born without an ear & his older brother is gay. Chasing Shadows by Swati Avashi has a main character of Indian descent and there’s a lot about Hindu mythology in the book.

Photo Jun 19, 11 31 11 AMPadma Venkatraman’s A Time to Dance is about a classical Indian dance prodigy whose life seems to be over after she becomes a below-the knee amputee.

Erin Bow’s Sorrow’s Knot is a fantasy flavored by Native American cultures and Dark Metropolis by Jaclyn Dolamore features a lesbian character.

Now that you’re up to speed on recently-published diverse titles, here are some upcoming books with diverse content to keep an eye out for at ALA Annual and other conferences:

  • Girl From the Well by Rin Chupeco (Sourcebooks, August  2014) is Photo Jun 22, 11 44 43 AMa ghost story about Okiko, whose spirit has wandered the world for centuries delivering punishment to monsters who hurt children,  but when she meets teenaged Tark, she tries to free him from the demon that invaded him.
  •  Blind by Rachel DeWoskin (Penguin, August 2014) A 15-year-old teen girl loses her eyesight the summer before high school after a firecracker misfires into a crowd.
  •  Positive: a Memoir by Paige Rawl (HarperCollins, August 2014) (NF). Memoir of Paige Rawl, HIV positive since birth, who was bullied in school once she disclosed her HIV-positive status and from that moment forward, every day was like walking through a minefield. 

What Would They Read?: My Little Pony

MLP FIM (800x450)
from deviantart user bluedragonhans

As you probably know, the television reboot of the My Little Pony franchise (Friendship Is Magic) has managed to find an older audience than the elementary school-aged girls one would have expected. As a regular viewer of the show and frequent YA reader, I thought it would be fun to take a look at what titles the ponies would read in their free time.

One thing I really like about the show is that it has a strong pro-female message. The show presents female characters who routinely solve problems by conducting research, reaching out to friends, and finding strength within themselves. In addition to encountering magical Big Bads, the ponies encounter real world problems such as bullying, low self-esteem, over-committing, and being too proud to ask for help. Because of this theme, I have selected books with female protagonists for all of the characters.

Today, I am focusing on three of the main six ponies: Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, and Rarity.

Twilight Sparkle
from deviantart user shapeshifter95

Twilight Sparkle

When Friendship Is Magic began, Twilight Sparkle was sent to Ponyville to learn the value of having friends. She was the best student studying under the Princess, but she missing a social component in her education. Twilight lives in a tree-house library, surrounded by books and often encourages research when faced with trouble. However, Twilight is also a unicorn and, therefore, magical. She must find balance between magic, research, and friendship to ultimate solve her problems.

Girl-of-Fire-and-Thorns-USI think that Twilight Sparkle would enjoy The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (2012 Morris Award Finalist, 2012 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults) which is the story of Elisa, a princess and the Chosen One. Married off to a king whose people need her to save them, Elisa lives in a world of magic. She must fight to live long enough to save the people who need her, while avoiding those who hunt her for her power. Twilight has recently become a princess herself and has been forced to save all of Equestria on more than one occasion.

I also think that Twilight Sparkle would enjoy Graceling by Kristin Cashore (2009 Morris Award Finalist, 2009 Teens’ Top Ten, 2012 Popular Paperback for Young Adults) for similar reasons. Royalty, magic, and a strong female fighter would all appeal to Twilight’s love of reading, fantasy, and adventure.