Cute and Creepy Autumn Anime for Book Lovers

I love horror, but sometimes I crave a little sweetness mixed in with my scary stories. If you too enjoy some cuddles with your creep-outs here are a few anime titles that you may enjoy! Continue reading Cute and Creepy Autumn Anime for Book Lovers

From Page To Screen: A ‘We Need Diverse Books’ Wish List

image from Flickr user Kenneth Lu (
image from Flickr user Kenneth Lu (

As the number of film adaptations set to be released  in the 2015 illustrates, Hollywood seems firmly committed to turning to the world of young adult fiction for inspiration–and box office success.  While this trend is exciting for YA fiction fans, the lack of the diversity present in the stories selected remains disheartening. While planning a recent movie night at my library, I was freshly reminded of this problem and as usual, I took to Twitter to share my frustration.

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The ensuing discussion was vibrant and, inspired,  I polled friends & colleagues to develop a wish list of diverse young adult novels we’d like to see on the silver screen.

everything leads to youEverything Leads To You – Nina LaCour (2015 Rainbow List, 2015 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults)

Talented young set designer Emi is spending the summer before college with her best friend Charlotte in Emi’s older brother’s apartment when an estate sale & a mysterious letter brings Ava into her life. But despite their immediate, electric connection, Emi & Ava each have pain in their past and their path to happily ever after will be far from simple.  Between Emi and Ava’s “will they or won’t they” chemistry, great supporting characters and an intriguing setting, you’ve got the perfect rom-com of the summer!

One Man GuyOne Man Guy – Michael Barakiva (2015 Rainbow List)

Alek Khederian assumed that summer school will be an extension of his horrible freshman year; he never expected that it would lead him to Ethan.  Alek can’t imagine why someone like confident skateboarder Ethan wants to hang out with him and when romantic sparks start to fly between them, Alek will have re-evaluate everything he knew about himself. This novel isn’t just a lovely coming of age tale–it’s a love letter to New York City and Alek’s Armenian heritage featuring a built-in soundtrack of Rufus Wainwright songs. Continue reading From Page To Screen: A ‘We Need Diverse Books’ Wish List

Thou Shalt Not: Religion and Teen Books

Beautiful Girl Praying for redemptionphoto © 2010 Chris Willis | more info (via: Wylio)Last month while reading an article on diversity in ya fiction from the Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults, I stumbled upon an interesting issue. Although teen award-winners in many ways show excellent diversity, both these and teen best-sellers have a noticeable scarcity of religious protagonists. Religion is hardly rare among American teens, in fact, during the teen years it is common for involvement in one’s religion to increase as teens join youth groups and prepare for religious rites of passage, so the dearth of religious characters in YA fiction is a little odd. Teen books are notoriously blunt about confronting “taboo” subjects, as recently and infamously demonstrated by the Wall Street Journal editorial, Darkness Too Visible, which kicked off the entire #yasaves explosion. So why are teen authors leery of dealing with religion? Do they feel it is somehow too sensitive – more likely to offend than sex, drug use, and violence?

As a former religious teen (and a current religious adult) I can tell you that the treatment of religion in teen literature can be a minefield – opening a book involving Catholic characters or issues, I always wondered if the author would get it “right,” or if they would insult and belittle the faith that meant so much to me. So now I am issuing a challenge to YA authors thinking of writing books involving religion: Do it! But do it right. Here are my four commandments for making religion in teen books work:

1. Thou shalt not use religion as a one-stop conflict shop.

One of my pet lit peeves is when religion is added to a book solely to raise the stakes of an already controversial situation. If the main character gets pregnant, make her parents traditional Muslims! Presto – instant conflict! Continue reading Thou Shalt Not: Religion and Teen Books

Out of Our Comfort Zones: Ted and Sarah read SOULLESS and I KILL GIANTS!

Sarah Debraski and I decided to try something interesting to broaden our horizons: we each made a list of the types of YA books we didn’t read, and then each chose a book for the other person to read from those categories, to deliberately force ourselves outside of our comfort zones and read something we normally wouldn’t. Did it work? Read (and listen!) on in this post and podcast.

Continue reading Out of Our Comfort Zones: Ted and Sarah read SOULLESS and I KILL GIANTS!

Book review: Foiled (graphic novel)

Foiled.  Story by Jane Yolen, Art by Mike Cavallaro.

* YALSA 2011 Great Graphic Novels for Teens List

When I was an undergraduate in college, my friends packed together and signed up for judo one semester, spending their time throwing each other onto mats and comparing bruises. They patted themselves on their backs and commended their choice…that is, until they saw me in my fencing gear. Yup, that’s right. I opted to spend my semester learning how to fence, and it was by far one of the COOLEST things I’ve ever done.  Fencing is such a graceful sport…and, come on, you get to hold a weapon, wear padding that feels like armor, AND don a nifty mask.  So, I couldn’t have been more surprised – and any happier – than when I discovered Foiled, a graphic novel by Jane Yolen.

The heroine of this story is Aliera Carstairs, and Aliera is not your typical teen girl. By day, she’s a bit of a loner, floating through her high school hallways practically invisible to others because she doesn’t fit into any of the major peer groups (e.g., nerds, goths).  But as soon as she leaves school, she comes to life as a fencer (at a nationally competitive level, by the way). But like all teens, there’s a part of Aliera that wants to “belong.” So when the cutest boy in school just happens to become her lab partner, she finds herself starting to really question her happiness as a loner for the first time and how much of her current lifestyle she’d be willing to sacrifice for some of that normalcy.

The art by Mark Cavallaro captures Aliera’s passion and mood swings perfectly. Much of the art is also in two-tones, muted colors chosen to highlight the mostly hum drum world of Aliera. That is, until the latter portion of the novel when Aliera puts on her fencing mask in Grand Central Station. It’s at this point that the novel not only explodes in color, but also introduces a fantasy component of epic proportions to Aliera’s tale…where words like “destiny,” and “hero” come into play, and creatures such as faeries and trolls take over the scene.

According to Jane Yolen’s web site, Foiled is just part 1 of Aliera’s story; there is a 2nd volume in the works that will complete her tale. And to be honest, this first definitely feels more like the start of a really cool story than a complete story in itself. So I will anxiously await the sequel and will definitely put this pair of graphic novels on the “keeper” section of my personal book shelves.  And if you aren’t intrigued enough to pick up the book just yet, check out the book trailer below that originally was posted on Jane Yolen’s own site, which is made entirely with artwork from within the novel itself.

~ Nicole Dolat…

…thinking of reading Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit (vol. 1)