Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2021) Nominees Round Up, July 29 Edition

Click here to see all of the current Amazing Audiobooks nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.

Burn cover art

Burn by Patrick Ness; narrated by Joniece Abbott-Pratt
HarperAudio
Release date: 06-02-20
ISBN: 978-1094167534

In 1950’s rural Washington state, mixed race Sarah’s father hires a dragon as a last ditch attempt to save their farm.  Meanwhile she doesn’t realize she is the coming end of an ancient dragon prophecy.  Meanwhile a boy trained to be her assassin is on his way, and the local policeman has his cruel eye on her and her Japanese boyfriend.

Continue reading Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2021) Nominees Round Up, July 29 Edition

Monthly Monday Polls: Current and Upcoming YA page-to-screen adaptations

Monday Poll @ YALSA's The HubHappy August, and happy Monday, Hub readers.

Last month, we asked about your favorite historical fiction set in 18th century North America. A whopping 48% of you voted for Laurie Halse Anderson’s Chains and/or its sequel, Forged (good news for fans of the series; the third and final volume, Ashes, has a tentative publication date of November 20, 2016). The second and third most popular choices were, respectively, either volume of M.T. Anderson’s The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing (25%), followed by any of the 15 titles by Ann Rinaldi depicting the era (21%). Joseph Bruchac’s Winter People garnered 6% of the vote; The Portsmouth Alarm, by Terri A. DeMitchell, did not receive any votes.

This month, as many of us take refuge in that classic summertime heat-busting destination, the air-conditioned refrigerated movie theater, the Hub wants to know: which current or upcoming YA/cross-over page-to-screen adaptation are you most excited about?

[poll id=”219″]

Continue reading Monthly Monday Polls: Current and Upcoming YA page-to-screen adaptations

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

Is This Just Fantasy? : The Chosen One

If you read even a moderate amount of fantasy, you are likely familiar with one of its most common tropes: the chosen one, also known as the fated savior or destined heroine.  While there are many different types of fantasy being written and read today, certain patterns repeat frequently and the ‘chosen one’ trope is no exception.  This trope usually involves the inclusion of a character (usually the protagonist) who has in some way been marked as especially gifted or otherwise uniquely equipped to complete a special mission.   Whether they’ve been chosen by a deity, a prophecy, or circumstances of birth, chosen ones in fantasy tales must often complete quests, battle evil forces, and make difficult, pivotal choices in order to achieve their destinies.  This particular trope is far from limited to fantasy literature–it shows up in all kinds of science fiction and fantasy media and the template is often connected to mythologist Joseph Campbell’s concept of the monomyth or hero’s journey.
fantasy series chosen one

 

As a longtime fantasy fan, I find the ‘chosen one’ trope can be a double-edged sword for the genre.  On one hand, any popular pattern becomes stale after a while and stories that depend heavily on the ‘chosen one’ narrative can easily fall into traps of lazy plotting or derivative content.  ‘Chosen one’ stories can include protagonists who are unbelievably talented or inhumanly heroic.  These characters often react in their ‘chosen’ status in predictable ways, usually resisting or attempting to escape or avoid their destinies.  However, this trope has remained prevalent for a reason, especially in fantasy for and about teenage characters.  After all, it’s a narrative that investigates the difficult process of coming to understand one’s role in the larger world and battling with the frightening concept of a future–struggles common to adolescents even without magical prophecies hanging over their heads.

Continue reading Is This Just Fantasy? : The Chosen One

What’s In a (Book) Name?

It was Wild Bill Shakespeare himself who once penned the words “What’s in a name. That which we call a rose/By any other name should smell as sweet.” The words are spoken by one of the Bard’s more famous female characters, Juliet of House Capulet. She’s telling the hours-old love of her life that she doesn’t care that his last name of Montague brands him an enemy of her house. Whatever his name was, she would love him anyways.

image via Flickr User Leeds Museums and Galleries
CC v. 2.0 image via Flickr User Leeds Museums and Galleries

Once you’re able to part the curtain of deep sighs and introspective smiles at this grand romantic gesture, however, you find that you can’t count on Juliet’s statement as book recommendation advice. And really, shouldn’t that be what’s most important here? I mean, that play would be even better if it was about Juliet recommending books to Romeo rather than “falling in love” in the course of three days and faking her own death and being dumb and…and…and… Continue reading What’s In a (Book) Name?

One Thing Leads to Another: An Interview with Libba Bray

1. Do not give up piano lessons to play basketball. That is the second dumbest idea you will ever have. (The first dumbest will involve dropping acid and going to see Aliens, which is a Category Five mistake.)

Check out previous interviews in the One Thing Leads to Another series here.

I was going to tell you about the time I was reading Libba Bray’s Rebel Angels in a hotel in Belgravia, London, and how we were spending the next day at the Imperial War Museum (housed in the central portion of what was formerly Bethlem Royal Hospital, or “Bedlam”) and how it was all atmospheric and creepy and whatnot (which it totally was) and I was going to tell you about how I dog-eared and sticky-noted The Sweet Far Thing until there were no sticky notes left to stick because I thought (think) it was brilliant and wanted to see if I could connect all the luminous dots and figure out how she’d made it all work.  And I was going to tell you how I spent the night before the ACTs at a New Order concert, which, now that I think about it will make a lot more sense once you read on.

But instead I am going to just point you directly to the interview below because it is EPIC.  I mean, this is not run of the mill epic, it is Libba Bray level EPIC, which means playlists, life lessons, the influence of PBS, aspirations to royalty, Holden Caufield, Gilda Radner, existential crises, blood, make-up, exceptional teachers, music, boys, theater, George Saunders, thoughtful advice, pathological honesty, and–in what is certainly the most epic author-to-author question ever featured in this series–Chris Pratt.  Just go, now.  (You might want something to drink, and a snack, fair warning.)

Thank you, Libba, for this jaw-dropping and utterly exceptional interview, and for your willingness to come face to face with the monster time and time again.

Always Something There to Remind Me

libba-bray-5Please describe your teenage self.

Oh, Lord.

Actually, I feel like that sentence could be the description.

I was a girl of extremes, which I don’t think is terribly uncommon for the teen years: Goofy. Hopeful. Sardonic. Weird. Insecure. Certain I was a freak who would never have a boyfriend. Sometimes melancholy and lonely. An introvert who fronted like an extrovert. Well-intentioned if a bit “high-spirited,” as my high school principal described me that time I got sent home from the Latin trip. A class clown type who was terrified that someone might see how truly vulnerable I was while also wishing someone would see how truly vulnerable I was, preferably a wisecracking, music-playing boy who also read Salinger. I was in love with theater, music, literature, art, fashion, and film. I wanted grand adventures. I wanted to make the world a better, fairer place. I wanted my life to have meaning. And I desperately wanted out of Denton, Texas. Continue reading One Thing Leads to Another: An Interview with Libba Bray

One Thing Leads to Another: An Interview with Patrick Ness

“We want to remember what it feels like when things mattered that much, because we want them to matter that much to us now.”

Check out previous interviews in the One Thing Leads to Another series here.

1:37 am, New Year’s Day 2014 I’m lying in bed quietly dripping tears, wondering whether this bodes ill or well for the coming year.  I don’t really believe in omens or resolutions or whatever, but still, in that moment, in the dark, it all seems weirdly significant and profound.  I feel like I should fling myself into the new year head-on.  I feel like I should be honest and wild and maybe not fearless, but at least bold.  I feel like if a monster comes calling for me I want to be the sort of person that would accept the challenge.  That’s the power of an extraordinary book, right?  That feeling that we’re left with, once we’ve stayed up way too late, turned the last page, exhaled.  

Patrick Ness writes extraordinary books, books that are both utterly absorbing in the moment and that linger long after The End.  I’m still mulling over the Chaos Walking books years later, and clearly A Monster Calls made quite an impression.  Here’s a cool thing, though: I’m pretty sure, despite never having met him, that Patrick Ness is also an extraordinary human being.  I did, as usual, a lot of background reading for this interview, and this guy is consistently thoughtful, articulate, creative, kind, and funny on top of it all.  (See below for proof.)  Plus, instead of watching a too-big-to-tackle disaster unfold before him, he did something and his fundraising to help with the Syrian refugee crisis has been inspiring and–with support from many, many authors, publishers, and readers– has raised a truly amazing amount of money.  (More information on his campaign can be found at his fundraising page.)  As Rainbow Rowell said, “the people I admire most in this world are the ones who put themselves out there & TRY. It’s so scary to try. It makes you vulnerable.”  Not sure I could admire author and all-around extraordinary human Patrick Ness more right now.  

His next book, The Rest of Us Just Live Here (October 6) is still a couple weeks away here in the U.S. but I simply couldn’t hold onto this interview any longer–it’s too good not to share.  (Notice how I refrained from calling it an “extraordinary interview”? I think it is, but I didn’t want to test your patience by using that word again.)  Thank you so much, Patrick, for taking the time to talk with me, for making me cry in the middle of the night and literally laugh out loud (see below), and for putting yourself out there.  I think you’re way more than medium nice.

Always Something There to Remind Me

Patrick Ness (c) Helen Giles 2012

Please describe your teenage self.

As complex and contradictory as any teenager.  Terribly shy, but also could make any classmate laugh (and they usually got in trouble while I sat there innocently).  Super-anxious but keeping it crammed down into my stomach.  Always, always, always, always, always with an eye towards getting away to college.  Tragic hair.  Just… tragic hair.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Why?

I wanted to be a writer, but I didn’t know that was a possible career at all.  I thought, in a sort of twisted logic, that only famous people were authors.  I never thought it would happen to me at all.  I still got an English degree, but was working as a corporate writer when, to my astonishment, I got a book deal.  That was a surprise.  A nice one.

What were your high school years like? 

High school was… all right, I guess.  Could have been a lot worse.  I had a seriously sharp tongue on me when I needed, so bullying was almost never a problem, but mostly I was just trying to be friendly, trying to have friends, making huge mistakes, figuring them out.

I had a job as a waiter in a steakhouse in high school (this job reappears in The Rest of Us Just Live Here), which was actually great.  Good money, got me out of the house, I could always request the Sunday morning shift so I didn’t have to go to church…

Really, though, high school was a bit of a waiting room.  As a gay kid, I was fairly certain my “real” life wouldn’t start until college, so I was biding my time until then.  I think that’s becoming less and less true, but not fast enough. Continue reading One Thing Leads to Another: An Interview with Patrick Ness

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

Book/Life Pairings

MultitaskingFinalHow do you fit reading into life? Everywhere of course! Here are some fun suggestions of how to incorporate books into (almost) all parts of your life. I guess there are some events where books don’t belong… But you may be surprised by these multitasking opportunities.

Running/Vigorous Exercise

Some fast paced audio that will make you want to work out every day and never stop!

The Knife of Never Letting Go
The Knife of Never Letting Go

 

The Knife Of Never Letting Go
(and Chaos Walking series)

(2011 Odyssey Honor Audiobook, 2011 Top Ten Audio Books for Young Adults, 2009 Best Books for Young Adult)

by Patrick Ness and Nick Podehl

The action-packed audio book will help you keep up an energetic pace and be thoroughly entertained all the while.  Podehl’s amazing narration enhances Ness’ Sci-fi world which consists of only men whose thoughts are audible. Bonus: best talking dog voice ever.

Girl, Stolen

by April Henry and Kate Rudd

(2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults)

Here is a thrill ride of a book that will keep you on your toes.  Follow Cheyenne, a sixteen year old girl who is blind, as she gets kidnapped accidentally by a car thief.  Clever Cheyenne methodically and systematically plans her escape while poor mistreated wannabe criminal Griffin tries to do the right thing in spite of his horrendous family.

Divergent (and sequels)

(2012 Quick Picks for Young Adults , 2012 Teens Top Ten )

Divergent Audio
Divergent Audio

by Veronica Roth and Emma Galvin

This nail-biting gritty tale is perfect to listen to and get in shape!  You will run like a Dauntless trying to catch a train as you join Tris on her epic search for the truth in post-apocalyptic Chicago.

 

Continue reading Book/Life Pairings

YA Book Personality Test

Palm Reader
Palm Reader

Forget the Tarot cards, crystal balls, and palm-readers. Toss aside those stale fortune cookies.  You need only look to  your bookshelf to understand your deepest personality traits.  Look for some of your favorite YA titles below and you may find that my keen “psychic” abilities can be enlightening.

Vanishing Girls
Vanishing Girls

* Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver.  There is more to you than meets the eye.  You keep your secrets close, and may not be very trustworthy.  But you love deeply and are very protective.

* Love is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson. You might have a hard time trusting yourself, but go with your instincts- they won’t steer you wrong. Be yourself and don’t try so hard to please others.

Game of Love and Death
Game of Love and Death

* The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough. You may feel like you are being influenced by forces greater than your own. But it’s OK, go with it. Don’t be afraid to get hurt and great things will happen.

* Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong. Others may call you inconsistent. Your horoscope sign may be best described as “Gemini.” You are brave, smart, and have a keen sense of justice. You develop strong connections to friends and family.

Knife of Never Letting Go
The Knife of Never Letting Go

* The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (2009 Best Book for Young Adults). Some would call you are a guys’ guy. But don’t discount the fairer sex, you may find a wonderful friend. You may not be “book smart” but you are clever and can get yourself out of tough situations. Just believe in yourself, and don’t forget to appreciate your dog.

* All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. You are drawn to those in pain and have some dark times. Talking through it may help.  We all have to go through difficult times.  Let yourself mourn those you have lost.  Continue reading YA Book Personality Test