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Tag: Romance

Booklist: Realistic Romance

If you’re searching for romantic novels in the young adult genre, you will only have to look for approximately ten seconds before being buried beneath an annal of books. Just recently, Hub bloggers have compiled a great list of interracial romances and a list of their favorite recent releases in YA contemporary romances. 

This makes sense, as romance tends to be an important part of people’s lives and everyone remembers the relationships they either had or wanted to have in high school. Older adults read these books to reminisce about their own experiences. Young adults may read these books because they are interested in stories that align with their experiences or what they wish their experiences had been.

One of the complaints I’ve heard (and made) about a lot of young adult romance novels is that they’re not always very realistic and are oftentimes cliche-ridden and predictable. The awkward and/or quirky girl or boy meets up with the girl or boy who is popular but really has these hidden depths that only the quirky unpopular person can truly understand. These may be fun, escapist, well-written, and engrossing stories. They just maybe don’t reflect the reality of most teen relationships. 

Many readers like a little romance now and again, but still want some romance that didn’t follow tropes or ended with the ambiguity that often occurs in real life. 

These are books that do a good job of tackling romance in more realistic ways.

 

The Big Crunch by Pete Hautman

This is a book about a boy named Wes and a girl named June who meet and do not immediately fall in love with each other. They also don’t hate each other and then come together a lá Pride and Prejudice. They meet each other and exist. Eventually June starts pity-dating one of Wes’ friends but even then, he isn’t overwhelmed with a jealous desire for her. Eventually they just start spending time together and before you know it, they’ve got some hard decisions to make about the future.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (2014 Michael L. Printz Honor Book) 

Eleanor and Park meet and bond over her needing somewhere to sit on the bus. Park reads comic books every day and she secretly reads along with him. They start to hang out with each other even though they don’t have a lot of opportunity and they seem to be total opposites. That mantra might sound familiar but this is “opposites attract” without the requisite clichés.

The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider

Ezra has to reinvent himself when an injury during a car crash robs him of his identity as a tennis star. He tries new things, reconnects with old friends along the way, and meets a girl who seems like the perfect manic-pixie dream girl. But is she the reason he’s changing? Is she perfect for him? Does she have to be?

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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.

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Diversify YA Life: Interracial Couples

As you walk down aisles and aisles of books, that one cover catches your eye.  There’s a couple gazing longingly into each other’s eyes or perhaps it’s just hands inches from touching.  You take that book home to read about that girl who’s suffered a loss and goes to beach to wash her troubles away.  During her moment of reflection, a swoony bad boy walks by and smiles.  Hooray, a new ship has sailed your way.

Find your next OTP (One True Pairing) from the romance titles below.

Diversify YA Life interracial couples-2

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

elyse

After a serious accident left singer Elyse mute, she decides to live a life of solitude.  During a party Elyse meets Christian, a playboy who doesn’t treat her like glass.  Will Elyse give her heart to a boy who steals many hearts?

The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig 

nix & kash

Nix is a member of a four man crew aboard The Temptation-captained by her father.  Captain Slate is fiercely searching for a map from 1868 to go back into time to save his one true love.  Will Nix help him or sabotage his search?

Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman

anne teach-2

What was Blackbeard, the pirate, like as a teenager?  Blackhearts imagines Blackbeard as a teen as he falls in love with Anne, his father’s bi-racial servant.

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera (2016 Best Fiction for Young Adults)

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Booklist: Genre Reads for Cold Winter Nights

The temperatures are dropping below freezing and the sun sets early, making it the perfect time of year to curl up with a good book. Whether you like thrillers, swoon-worthy romance, or an escape from reality, there’s a book here to warm you up.

This is also a great list for a seasonal book display that can incorporate many genres and appeal to a wide range of readers.

Thrillers and Mysteries for Cold Winter Nights

If you’re in the mood for an adrenaline rush, these books are sure to  get your heart pounding. These mysteries and thrillers will chill you to the bone!

young adult thrillers for cold winter nights

Bonechiller by Graham McNamee (2009 Best Books for Young Adults)

After his mother’s death, Danny moves with his father to a remote Canadian town next to a frozen lake with a terrifying legend that haunts it.

Trapped by Michael Northrup

Seven teens are waiting to be picked up from school when a killer snowstorm hits. Can they survive? This is a good bed for readers who want a thriller without paranormal elements.

As White as Snow by Salla Simukka

Atmospheric Nordic crime thrillers have been popular with adult readers, and this trilogy brings the blood (and cold) to YA and adds a fairy tale twist.

Nightfall by Jake Halpern and Peter Kujiwinski

When the season turns, more than severe weather threatens an isolated island and residents flee. When a group of teenagers are left behind, they must fight to survive. With hints of supernatural threats in addition to the terror of the elements, this is a spooky thriller for middle school readers.

The Dead of Winter by Chris Priestley

This has all the elements of a classic ghost story: an orphan is sent to live in an isolated house in the woods, where he finds a spirits and a mysterious secrets. Fans of staples in this genre, like Poe or Gorey, will delight in this homage to Victorian ghost stories.

The Edge by Roland Smith

The follow up to Peak, this story revolves around a mountain-climbing and documentary film expedition that turns sinister when the director is murdered and other climbers are taken hostage.

Romance for Cold Winter Nights

There are countless summer romances in YA fiction, but sometimes it feels like the winter-themed stories are limited to holiday collections. These novels take place in the winter months.

YA romance for cold winter nights

 

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Genre Guide: Paranormal Romances for Teens

Source

Definition

Paranormal Romance is a sub-genre of Romance. For a novel to be a Paranormal Romance, a simple thing must occur: love must begin between a human and a supernatural being (whether wholly supernatural or partially, just as long as there are supernatural elements present). However, this can be a broad interpretation. Usually, the protagonist (often the human) in these novels is put in some kind of danger, where they come to realize they can overcome this danger either on their own or with the help of the supernatural love interest.

Authors to Know

Characteristics
Main characters include both humans and supernatural beings. The supernatural being can be wholly supernatural or partly, and include but are not limited by the following “types”: vampire, werewolf, fairy, magician, mermaid, zombie, psychic, ghost, demon hunter, demon, angel, shapeshifter, dragon, and gods or goddesses.  Additionally, the human in Paranormal Romances can have a touch of the paranormal as well.  An example is the teen psychic that can see the ghost. Quite often, when it comes to paranormal romances written for teens, a love triangle is involved.  There could be more than one human, or more than one supernatural being in the triangle.

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Love Triangles in YA: Is There Hope After All?

ed jake bella

Let’s face it, there are a lot of love triangles in YA literature and many readers either love them or hate them.  I first saw a spike in the love triangle concept when Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight came out in the mid 2000s.  The Edward, Bella, Jacob combination was one that I—and many fans— found compelling.  I was so excited to find out which guy Bella would pick.  The choice that she made definitely added to the suspense of the plot.  Unfortunately, she didn’t pick the guy that I liked, so I was devastated.  Why?  Well, what is it about the one girl, two guy factor that is destined to ruin our world?  Most obviously we will have to make a choice and one guy will end up being the loser.  Portraying love triangles in YA novels is a good way to show how hard it is for teens to stay neutral and how they might have to make a list of pros and cons in order to make their decision.

Let’s look at the choices involved in most love triangles.  Often, there’s the hot bad boy who makes all the girls drool.  You know this guy, he’s almost always a jerk or has obsessive tendencies.  The bad boy might be a chosen because he seems exciting and adventurous.  His good looks are fine, but beyond his looks there is a possessively driven heart.  Then, there’s the adorable best friend type, a dependable guy who usually melts our hearts with his sweetness. Each appeal to characters—and readers—for different reasons.

The good news is that love triangles have been evolving and changing over the years since Twilight and a few have redeemed my faith in them.  Here’s what I found out:  Some love triangles have two good guys, but one is just a little sweeter and bakes really good bread.

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Romance Awareness Month

The month of August is designated Romance Awareness Month, so it’s a great time to spotlight romance titles.

Honeycomb

Not everyone knows what a romance novel really means – I talk to tons of people who aren’t sure.

There’s a fool proof definition: A romance ends with a happily ever after.

In adult romances, books end with the couples married or engaged or together for the rest of their lives. For teens, it’s more likely happily ever after for now. Most teen books don’t end with marriage or the acknowledgement that they found their soul mate (although a few do.). Even in teen romances, the couple falls in love and are together at the end of the book.

It doesn’t matter if you fall in love in the book if the book doesn’t end happily. Nicholas Sparks doesn’t usually write romance. The Fault in Our Stars isn’t a romance. Romeo and Juliet isn’t a romance. Sure those books have elements of romance in them, but they are not romance books; they’re missing that one key ingredient of happily ever after.

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Middle School Pride : LGBTQ+ Tweens in Literature for Youth

rainbow heart ballons guillaume paumier
Image from https://www.flickr.com/photos/gpaumier/

Middle school (usually 5th through 8th grade) is an incredible time.  Kids begin to see themselves as part of a larger world, their minds and bodies go into development overdrive, and their relationships with everyone can shift dramatically.  Middle schoolers are heavily invested in figuring out their identities; they push for increased independence from adults while often desperately seeking a sense of belonging among their peers.  These experiences can be especially confusing, painful, or frightening for kids who feel different–such as kids whose gender identities or sexual orientations stand out in our still very binary and heteronormative culture.

This spring, Buzzfeed published an article titled “Coming Out As Gay in Elementary School,” which interviewed a few children and their families on their experiences coming out as gay, genderless, and queer at ages ranging from 7 to 13 years old.  The article also cites research and interviews with Dr. Caitlyn Ryan of San Francisco State University’s Family Acceptance Project.  In a 2009 practice brief, Dr. Ryan notes that their research shows that “both gay and straight children have their first ‘crush’ or attraction to another person at age 10” and on average, adolescents in their studies identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual at age 13.4 (2).  In the same report, she reiterates that children develop and express gender identity at ages 2-3 (2).

As a librarian,  I want to be able to provide all of my students with stories that both reflect their lives, experiences, and identities and expand their understanding of our diverse world.  Since these studies and testimonies clearly illustrate the relevance of LBGTQ+ stories to middle school students, I wondered: how many middle school age characters who identify on the LGBTQ+ spectrum show up in middle grade and young adult fiction?

Happily, we are beginning to see more and more novels featuring 10-14 year old LGBTQ+ characters. However, I struggled to find representations of girls who like girls or transgender boys, which was disheartening.  We’ve got some great titles currently available and several exciting titles set to be published this year. But I’d love to see even more, especially featuring lesbian/bisexual/queer girls and transgender boys!

dramaDrama – Raina Telgemeier (2013 Stonewall Honor Book, 2013 Rainbow List, 2013 Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens)

While her painfully bad singing rules out a future as an actor, theatre fanatic Callie has found her place backstage as a set designer. When talented twins Justin and Jesse join the middle school musical, the drama on and off stage reaches new heights. Callie’s thrilled to have a fun new friend in openly gay Justin and she hopes that quiet Jesse might be the boy to help her get over her crush on her old friend Greg.

so hard to saySo Hard To Say – Alex Sanchez

Thirteen year old Xio is confident, bubbly, and ready for first kisses and romance.  When shy Frederick starts at school, Xio is happy to lend him a pen and invite him to join her lunch table.  The two quickly become close friends but as Xio’s attempts to transform their relationship into romance escalate, Frederick finds himself increasingly attracted to handsome soccer player Victor.

Better Nate Than Ever by Tim FederleBetter Nate Than Ever (2014 Rainbow List, 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2014 Stonewall Honor Book) and Five, Six, Seven, Nate- Tim Federle (2015 Rainbow List, 2015 Lamda Literary Awardfive six seven nate

When thirteen year old Nate hears about open auditions for the lead in the upcoming Broadway production of E.T. : The Musical, he will stop at nothing to get to New York City and claim his rightful space in the spotlight.  Along the way, Nate faces merciless competition, perilous public transportation, and growing questions about his sexuality and identity.  Nate’s adventures continue in the sequel, Five, Six, Seven, Nate!  

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

image from Flickr user Kenneth Lu (https://www.flickr.com/photos/toasty/)
image from Flickr user Kenneth Lu (https://www.flickr.com/photos/toasty/)

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.

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Adult Genre Readers: Break out of a Reading Rut with YA

TeenBooks

Adults reading young adult  books has been discussed here, and here and here, and let’s keep talking about it!  YA  has clearly been established as a force as we continue to see titles fly off the shelves at libraries and book stores (not to mention those virtually flying onto smart phones, kindles, and nooks.)  Clearly it’s not only teens reading YA anymore.

Speaking of adults reading YA… do you know any adults stuck in a reading rut who might appreciate some suggestions?  Two of the most widely-read adult fiction genres today are horror and romance.   There are some truly wonderful YA alternatives out there — and it can be argued that YA authors take greater risks than their mainstream adult genre counterparts do– resulting in diverse, exciting, and ground-breaking books.  Exclusively reading genre selections which follow an established and familiar formula (even when the formula works)  can become tedious. Here are some suggestions to help a genre reader shake things up.

Horror/Serial Killers

i hunt killers barry lyga coverJames Patterson fans will enjoy Barry Lyga’s I Hunt Killers series: a nail-bittingly suspenseful serial killer manhunt trilogy with a flawed hero.  Lyga explores issues of identity, parenthood, nature vs nurture, race, and attraction.

rottersStephen King readers will like Daniel Kraus’s terrifying Rotters (2012 Odyssey Award winner) and Scowler (2014 Odyssey Award winner) Grave digging, monstrous fathers, rat kings, gruesome imagery… Kraus is truly a master of literary horror; nothing run of the mill here!

Dean Koontz lovers will enjoy The Girl From the Well by Rin Chupeco: a terrifying tale of vengeful ghost named Okiko. This spooky tale was inspired by Japanese folklore.

Edgar Allen Poe fans can’t help but enjoy Bethany Griffin’s The Fall and Masque of the Red Death couplet. These atmospheric tales were inspired by Poe’s short stories.   It’s also a refreshing change of pace to find quality literary horror featuring strong female characters.

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