Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2021) Nominees Round Up, March 6 Edition

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Light It Up by Kekla Magoon
Henry Holt and Co. Books for Young Readers / Macmillan
Publication Date: October 22, 2019
ISBN: 978-1250128898

The community of Underhill reacts after an unarmed thirteen-year-old girl is shot and killed by a police officer while walking home. Tensions mount even more upon the arrival of White supremacist demonstrators. The citizens of Underhill prepare  for possible havoc as they protest and await the announcement of the officer’s verdict.

Continue reading Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2021) Nominees Round Up, March 6 Edition

Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2020) Nominees Round Up, August 20 Edition

Click here to see all of the current Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.

Belly Up Book CoverBelly Up by Eva Darrows
Harlequin Inkyard Press
Publication Date: April 30, 2019
ISBN: 978-1335012357

Serendipity (Sara) spends one drunk post-breakup night with a boy she meets at a party. She can’t find the boy, but does discover soon after that she’s pregnant. As a high-achieving 17 year old, Sara is faced with unexpected and challenging choices, as well as a brand new school and town.  When Sara decides to keep the baby, she has to figure out how to balance her priorities, navigate dating, and finish her senior year, all in maternity jeans.  Continue reading Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2020) Nominees Round Up, August 20 Edition

#BFYA2019 Nominees Round Up, November 16 Edition

Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman
Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 2, 2018
ISBN: 978-1481481960 

What would happen if you turned the handle on your sink and no water came out? How would the world react if there was no more usable water? The people of California are about to find out.

Continue reading #BFYA2019 Nominees Round Up, November 16 Edition

#ALAAC18 Recap: #BFYA2019 Teen Feedback Session

The Best Fiction for Young Adults feedback session is one of the best parts of every ALA conference. Local teens get the opportunity to read books that have been nominated for #BFYA and give their feedback about the titles. It’s always interesting to hear the perspective of real teens, and the group in New Orleans were particularly amazing. They all sounded like professional book reviewers, and I wish there had been time to talk with them at length about the books they enjoyed.

Here are some of the titles the teens particularly liked from this year’s #BFYA nominees list along with a little of their feedback and a link to each title’s nomination post (when available.)

Continue reading #ALAAC18 Recap: #BFYA2019 Teen Feedback Session

#BFYA2019 Nominees Round Up, April 13 Edition

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman
Simon and Schuster BFYR / Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: January 9, 2018
ISBN: 9781442472457

This thrilling sequel to Scythe finds Citra and Rowan both gleaning in hopes of preserving the Scythedom. However, there is an increasing divide between the new and old orders of scythes putting both Citra and Rowan’s lives in danger. Will the Thunderhead be forced to intervene to save them and all of humanity?

Continue reading #BFYA2019 Nominees Round Up, April 13 Edition

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

ALA Annual 2015: YALSA YA Author Coffee Klatch Recap

The amazing group of authors participating in the Klatch.
The amazing group of authors participating in the Klatch.

I was lucky enough to attend the ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco last week and attended the YALSA YA Author Coffee Klatch sponsored by BLINK on Sunday, June 28th from 9 – 10 am. Allison Tran was there too and included some great photos in her post from the event.

I had the opportunity to have coffee while I met many of YALSA’s award winning authors, many of whom have appeared on one of YALSA’s six annual selected lists or have received one of YALSA’s five literary awards. In this speed-dating-like event, we sat at the tables and every five minutes or so the authors would come to our table to talk with us.

Participating authors included: M. T. Anderson, Leigh Bardugo, Deborah Biancotti, Virginia Boecker, Erin Bow, Martha Brockenbrough, Rae Carson, Selene Castrovilla, Carey Corp, Zak Ebrahim, Jack Gantos, Gail Giles, Amalie Howard, Jenny Hubbard, Bill Konigsberg, Michael Koryta, Daniel Kraus, Stephanie Kuehn, Susan Kuklin, Margo Lanagan, Lorie Langdon, Eric Lindstrom, Sophie Maletsky, Marissa Meyer, Jandy Nelson, Patrick Ness, Mitali Perkins, Kate Racculia, Luke Reynolds, William Ritter, Ginny Rorby, John Scalzi, Neal Shusterman, Andrew Smith, Allan Stratton, Nova Ren Suma, Jillian Tamaki, Mariko Tamaki, Scott Westerfeld, Carol Lynch Williams,  and Suzanne Young.

These were the YA Authors who came to my table and a little of what they said (any inaccuracies are solely my fault):

Photo Jul 05, 10 53 23 AMMitali Perkins talked about her latest middle grade book called Tiger Boy. 

She said that publishers didn’t think young people wanted to read about teen characters from other countries but that hasn’t been the case. Perkins wants young people to read across borders. She said she’s gotten letters from kids from all over the US – like rural Kansas. They connect with her books and there’s a power that readers have over the story. She said that one of her previous books, Bamboo People (2011 YALSA Top Ten Photo Jul 05, 10 54 17 AMBest Fiction for Young Adults), is on twelve state reading lists. It has two boys as the main characters and lots of action and it’s still a popular read, even though it came out in 2010 and is set in Burma. The fact that it’s a coming of age story is universal. Perkins has drawn inspiration for her writing because she said she’s traveled a lot and lived in Thailand, Boston and in the Bay Area. Tiger Boy is a tribute to her dad. He became a talented civil engineer and traveled all over the world. She said she “writes to the boy who doesn’t think he is a reader.”

 

Photo Jul 05, 11 13 41 AMStephanie Kuehn described her third book Delicate Monsters (after Complicit, 2015 Best Fiction for Young Adults) after Charm & Strange (2014 William C. Morris Award winner).Photo Jan 26, 1 32 40 PM

It’s a psychological mystery, set in Sonoma, CA and it has a lot of darkness to it. It features a female anti-hero. The girl was sent down from boarding school for almost killing another girl. She is cruel. She becomes reacquainted with a boy named Emerson she knew as a kid & they both have a connection with Emerson’s younger brother who sees visions of people dying. It’s told from a third person point-of-view because it’s easier to tell that way as it shifts from the different perspectives of the characters. Kuehn says her main character is a psychopath but there’s a humanity to her too. “We share common experiences – they’re human monsters.”

Continue reading ALA Annual 2015: YALSA YA Author Coffee Klatch Recap

Your Summer Reads Focus on Mental Health Awareness

 mental_health_awareness_month2015May is recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month. In recognition of mental health awareness, I have chosen to highlight some young adult novels published this year that focus on characters dealing with difficult and sensitive topics.  

From relationship struggles to depression and suicide, characters in these stories
 challenged by internal and external conflicts, similar to real life experiences you may be familiar with. You may have felt sympathy for Cadence and her struggling memory in We Were Liars, begged Leonard to put down the gun in Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, connected with Charlie in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, agonized with Melinda to Speak, set out Looking for Alaska, or unraveled the mystery of the 13 Reasons Why Hannah committed suicide. Teens may experience tough and complex issues, and it shows in the contemporary stories we read.  
Recent Titles about Mental Illness 

What’s next on your reading list? 2015 brings an array of new titles related to mental illness – stories to 
place on your summer booklist (while remembering to pack a box of tissues).

 

all the bright placesAll the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven 
Violet Markey and Theodore Finch have one thing in common: they both want to leave. Violet wants to leave her Indiana town after graduation with the memory of her buried sister. Finch wants to leave this world, imagining the ways he might kill himself. After meeting on the ledge of a bell tower at school, they resolve to discover more about their world. Embracing life instead of death, Finch learns he is more than the freak he’s known as. They both learn to start living instead of dying. Elle Fanning stars in the upcoming motion picture. 

Elena Vanishing
 by Elena Dunkle, Clare B. Dunkle 
Every day, seventeen-year-old Elena is vanishing, as heranxiety and anorexia slowly steal away pieces of herselfAuthor Elena Dunkle bravely shares her story of struggling with a frightening and devastating disease as a teenager in this memoir co-written with her mother, Clare B. Dunkle. In this honest and intense telling, Elena describes what it’s like to live with anorexia and provides insight to a reality true for many.    

The Pause
 by John Larkin
Even as he seemingly has everything – loving family, friends, girlfriend – Declan makes a decision to end his life. Something in his past won’t go away and claws at his consciousness with brutal, buried scrapes, agonizing him for so long. In one moment, one pause before he jumps into an approaching train, Declan sees two versions of his life. One version where his body is destroyed and his loved ones are left behind, and another. One new life. 

Continue reading Your Summer Reads Focus on Mental Health Awareness

What’s Trending in YA?

I’ve had the opportunity to attend a few publisher previews recently and have noticed a few recent trends in YA publishing. Since I haven’t been able to attend all the previews it’s not a completely comprehensive list so I welcome any suggestions for those I’ve missed.

Road Trips:

  • Kissing in America by Margo Rabb (5/2015). Teenaged girl still grieving over her father’s death a drive me crazy mcvoyporcpine of truth konigsburgRabb - Kissing Americafew years before contrives with her best friend to enter and win a teen game show to win a trip to CA to follow her crush.
  • The Porcupine of Truth by Bill Konigsberg (5/2015). Two teens embark on a road trip to uncover the root cause of three generations of family estrangement and solve their difficult family issues.
  • Drive Me Crazy by Terra Elan McVoy (4/2015). Two girls who don’t really like each other, now related due to their grandparents’ wedding, try to get along as they accompany their grandparents on their California road trip honeymoon.

Mental Illness:

  • Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman (4/2015). Caden, 14, is gradually descending into made you up zappiaone stolen thing kephartchallenger deepschizophrenia and lives in two worlds – the real one and the one in his delusions.
  •  One Thing Stolen by Beth Kephart (4/2015). Girl who steals things then weaves them into elaborate nests is also losing the ability to speak due to a mental disorder.
  • Made You Up by Francesca Zappia (5/2015). Girl with paranoid schizophrenia

Death/Dying:

  • The Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell (5/2015). Seventeen-year-old Japanese boy dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease) wants to die on his own terms.
  •  Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider (5/2015). Two teens with terminal TB

Kidnapping:

  • Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway (6/2015). Teenaged Emmy’s friend and neighbor Oliver Our Endless Numbered Daysshackled leveenemmy & oliver benway disappeared when they were in 3rd grade and she’s been overprotected by her parents ever since. Oliver returns years later after he finds out he was kidnapped by his father and must try to adjust to life with Emmy and his community again.
  •  Shackled by Tom Leveen (8/2015). Teenager suffering from severe panic attacks ever since her best friend disappeared six-years ago determines to find her after thinks she sees her again.
  • Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller (3/2015). Seventeen-year-old Peggy recounts how when she was 8, her mentally ill survivalist father kidnapped her from London and took her to an isolated forest where they survived off the grid after he told her the world had been destroyed.

Continue reading What’s Trending in YA?

What Would They Read?: Supernatural

There are certain fandoms I’ve been apprehensive to take on due to their immense fanbases.  I definitely breathed a sigh of relief when I coSupernatural_-_Season_9mpleted the blog posts for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly and realized that they turned out to be successful.  I’m still debating when I’m going to dive in and take on Doctor Who.  It’s probably my most frightening concept to date, but I promise it will happen.  I just need a little more psyching up and then I will do it.  Today, however, I will attempt to impart my recommendations for one of my favorite shows of all time: Supernatural.

The basic plot of Supernatural is a something that has been recently retold in a variety of YA books.  It’s a basic story about two guys (in this case, brothers Dean and Sam Winchester) who travel around and take on a plethora of supernatural and paranormal creatures while dealing with their own personal demons which range from recovering from a trip to purgatory to actually being the human embodiment of Lucifer.

anna dressed in blood There are three books in particular that resonate as perfect readalikes for the series.  First, Sarah Rees Brennan has a series that begins with The Demon’s Lexicon(Best Fiction for Young Adults Top Ten, 2010).  In this book, two brothers, Alan and Nick, hunt demons avenging their dead father and taking care of their crazy mother.  There are definitely similarities between Alan and Nick and Dean and Sam are very evident.  Perhaps the Winchesters can take a break and read a bit about another duo who fight the evils lurking in the dark.

A second selection to seek out is Anna Dressed in Blood and its companion, Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake.  The main character is a  boy named Cas, who coincidentally shares his name with the Winchester’s angelic friend.  Cas travels around with his witch mother and a cat that can sense ghosts.  Dean and Sam will find comradery with Cas as he sets off to avenge his father’s death while wielding an athame with the the power to destroy ghosts.  Like Sam Dean, Cas is challenged to overlook his predispositions to kill ghosts and determine whether or not this particular case involving the spirit called Anna Dressed in Blood is not quite like the others.

Finally, I would definitely hand over Kami Garcia’s new series called “The Legion.”  Garcia’s series begins with Unbreakable.  The story begins with a female protagonist named Kennedy who finds her mother murdered by something supernatural.  She only survives due to twin brothers named Lukas and Jared who whisk her away from danger only to inform her that there will definitely be more danger down the road.  In turns out that Kennedy, the twins, and two others are the descendants of members of a group called The Legion that fight against ancient evil spirits.  Secret societies full of knowledge regarding the killing of all things evil?  Sounds a bit like the Winchester’s new discovery, the Men of Letters, only with a lot less resources.  Now that I covered a few titles that Sam and Dean can share and read together, here are a few titles specifically chosen for each of their personal tastes. Continue reading What Would They Read?: Supernatural