2016 Hub Challenge Check-In #3

Not signed up for YALSA’s 2016 Hub Reading Challenge? Read the official rules and sign up on the original post. Anything you’ve read since the awards were announced counts, so sign up now!

It’s week three of the 2016 Hub Reading Challenge! How are you doing so far?  There are so many great books eligible this year, my biggest problem right now is simply deciding what to read next.

the hub 2016 reading challenge

Of course, what I actually decided to read (or re-read) next is a book I devoured all the way back in January of last year, Marcus Sedgwick’s The Ghosts of Heaven.  I haven’t seen a whole lot of discussion of this 2016 Printz Honor title, though I know it had some early–and clearly warranted–buzz, but it was my favorite book of last year, and the one I was most hoping to see acknowledged at the ALA Youth Media Awards last month.

I’m not sure I can articulate, even after a third reading, exactly why this book has made such an impression on me, but lets start with the first of the four interconnected stories, “Whispers in the Dark.”  I’m a hard sell on free verse, but this story of a stone age girl on the cusp of making a connection that will lead to written language absolutely haunted me.  It’s elegant and understated, while virtually dripping with foreboding and the thrill of discovery.  The second story, “The Witch in the Water,” seemed to be rushing headlong to an inevitable conclusion, though understanding that diminished none of the anger and claustrophobic horror I felt reading it.  Accusations of witchcraft never end well.  “The Easiest Room in Hell,” the third story, was terrifying, and also made me cry.  A lot.  The creeping horror that’s threaded through the first two stories really ramps up here, as a new assistant superintendent discovers the truth about the asylum he’s come to manage, and about one of the inmates in particular.  And then finally, or maybe not, depending on how you’re reading, there’s the fourth story, “The Song of Destiny,” which has the distinction of being the only story in recent memory that actually made me gasp out loud in shock, as though I was watching a horror movie on a big screen.  Stories set in space do tend to creep me out–I find them stifling and scary and absolutely compelling all at once–but this one really, literally, made my hair stand on end.

And the ending. No spoilers here. But this one–for me at least–sticks the landing.  Absolutely.

I can’t honestly say that I’d give this book to everyone.  I want to, but it’s the kind of book that feels huge and personal and important and (that word again!) haunting and I’m pretty sure it isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea.  But if you haven’t read it yet, do yourself a favor and dip in.

If you have read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.  If you’re not reading The Ghosts of Heaven, what are you reading?  What’s been the most challenging or rewarding title you’ve picked up so far?  What are you hoping to pick up next?  Remember, you can find a complete list of eligible titles here.

And finally, don’t forget to join the conversation on Instagram, Twitter, or at the 2016 Hub Challenge Goodreads group and when you’ve completed the Challenge, be sure to complete this form.

– Julie Bartel, currently reading Ms. Marvel Vol 3 and All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely.

33 thoughts on “2016 Hub Challenge Check-In #3”

  1. I have finished two this week putting me at 11. The Ms. Marvel books are really cute and I think Kamala is a great leading lady. I finished Echo – wow! I’ve never heard such a beautiful, unique story with all the music interspersed.

    I am also having trouble deciding what to read next, especially when it comes to all the novels I want to read. I haven’t read Ghosts of Heaven yet but after trying and falling in love with (surprisingly!) Midwinterblood from the challenge a few years ago, I’m definitely going to try this title!

  2. I have Ghosts of Heaven on my shelf, but I haven’t read it yet. I just moved it higher up on my to read list. I had parent-teacher conferences this week so I didn’t get to read much. I have almost finished The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B, which I am enjoying immensely. I have The Notorious RBG on deck and I am excited to read this, given the fact that we will probably be having huge discussions/arguments about appointing someone to replace SCJ Antonin Scalia. I’ll make an effort to get to Ghosts of Heaven afterwards.

  3. This week I finished Most Dangerous (#4), Humans of New York: Stories (#5) and Enchanted Air (#6). I’ve enjoyed all the books from the “Award for Excellence in Nonfiction” so far and have just one more to go: Symphony for the City of the Dead, which I’ll definitely read at some point during this challenge.

    Since I mostly read fiction during the year, this challenge is a great way to get nonfiction titles under my belt. While waiting for my library holds to come in, I’ll start the week with some graphic novels, another category which I often neglect.

  4. I’ve been forgetting to check in, but so far I’ve read The Silence of Six, Awkward, Roller Girl, The Boston Girl, and The Weight of Feathers. I really liked Awkward and Roller Girl, but I haven’t been a huge fan of any of the rest. I’m currently reading Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits. All of my reviews are on Goodreads!

  5. Took a break from YA at the beginning of the week and instead listened to the first book in the Maggie Hope series. It was recommended by a teacher who knew I’d enjoyed the Maisie Dobbs series. Perhaps it was a mistake to read this book so soon after reading the first three MD stories as I didn’t enjoy the Maggie Hope story nearly as much.

    On to “All Americican Boys.” Loved the book–a powerful message especially important in today’s society. Currently listening to “Waistcoats & Weaponry” and enjoying it the second time around ( first listened to in Feb 2015.)

  6. Haven’t read Ghosts of Heaven but would like to add it to the list. I’m working on the audiobook,Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray, an amazing mashup of historical fiction and “dream walking.” Reader, January LaVoy, is a superb narrator bringing dozens of distinct character voices for your listening enjoyment.

    1. Just downloaded the pdf of the lists and it did not include the Coretta Scott King winners. Aren’t those books included in the Hub Challenge list this year? If so, can you please update the pdf for us and repost? Thanks!

      1. Hi Charlene,

        The Coretta Scott King titles are listed on the pdf and include
        All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds, and X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz with Kekla Magoon.

  7. I’ve read Nimona by Noelle Stevenson and Rad American Women A-Z by Kate Schatz. I didn’t love Nimona as much as I thought I would (maybe too much hype?) but I LOVED Rad American Women. It was definitely rad :)

    1. I felt the same way about Nimona. I liked it, but I wasn’t 100% sure how it got on the shortlist for a National Book Award. I enjoy Lumberjanes a hell of a lot more.

      Rad American Women was great, but I wanted MORE about all the women!

  8. Wow, I am feeling super lazy! I’m only finishing up my third!

    I’ve done:
    “The Boston Girl”
    “Enchanted Air”
    (finishing up) “Nimona”
    (just starting) “Dumplin'”

  9. A good reading week. Remember, I have no life after work.
    #29/30 Ms. Marvel 2 & 3 – 1 each.
    #31-33 A Silent Voice – 1 each – Not my thing
    #34 Roller Girl – 4 1/2 – Surprise! Such a cute book for MS. Story & illustrations were believable. I always loved watching roller derby on TV when Joanie Weston (Blonde Bomber) of the San Francisco Bay Area Bombers was on.
    #35 Nimona – 1 – See #29-33 – Same comments
    #36 Audacity – 5 – To be read by all
    #37 Devoted – 4
    #38 How They Met… – 2 1/2 – Not his best effort. Like others much better
    #39 Charm & Strange – 4 1/2 – A reread.
    #40 The War that Saved My Life – 5 – Another must read by all

    Am listening to Library of Souls. Since I didn’t read the first 2, had to review them after starting. Like listening better than reading this one.
    Started The Unraveling of Mercy Louis last night.

  10. I’m up to 12 books. This week I read Most Dangerous and Lumberjanes. I thought I’d like Lumberjanes more since I loved Nimona but I couldn’t get into it. I liked Most Dangerous. I hate to admit it but I really didn’t know much about the Vietnam War before I read MD. My question is, “How do I get my teen patrons to give it a chance?” They rarely pick up any of our YA nonfiction.
    I’m currently reading Out of Darkeness by Ashley Hope Perez and still listening to Libba Bray’s Lair of Dreams.

    1. Hi, Susan,
      If you have teen patrons who are willing to try an audiobook or love audiobooks, Most Dangerous is extremely well done. It’s easier to digest the content because the audio is very engaging. Hope some of your teens will give it a try.

  11. I finished Ms. Marvel and Shadowshaper. Shadowshaper was amazing! Really enjoying the challenge this year!

  12. I read Drowned City by Don Brown. It was heartbreaking! I have started on the Squirrel Girl comic.

  13. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda – I liked Simon’s voice. Great story about friendship and being true to yourself.

    Nimona – Villian an his sidekick trying to take down the institution. Loved Nimona’s sass.

    Roller Girl – Astrid wants to learn how to be part of a Roller Derby and takes part in a roller derby summer camp. It is my second time reading it and I liked it better the second time.

    Started reading SuperMutant Magic Academy and I am not really sure what to make of it. Not really a story – seems to be a bunch of one – two page vignette’s bound in one book. Am I missing something here?

    Challenger Deep – Just started – intrigued!

  14. I read two books this week:

    *Zeroboxer – I liked the overall story, but there were parts of the plot that could use a bit of work. The fight scenes and sportsmanship were well written, but the romance should have been cut. It felt forced and more like an unnecessary plot point than something that helped either character grow. The antagonists – the crumbling relations between Terra (Earth) and Mars, and the criminal genetic splicing organization – were not well fleshed out, and there should have been more focus on them.

    *Drowned City – I loved Don Brown’s graphic novel about the Dust Bowl, and he didn’t disappoint with Drowned City. His illustrations are amazing – harsh lines, angular figures, and how his use of coloring/shading. He captures the helplessness and confusion. My only complaint is that the ending felt too abrupt.

  15. I finished up two books this week (woot!) bringing my total up to 4. I read Half the World by Abercrombie. Great story, great characters. I would have liked even more world-building though. I also finished listening to What If? Wil Wheaton’s narration was excellent, as always. The chapters were hit or miss but once I started listening to it on 1.25x speed, I was able to get through it much more quickly and that helped! I just picked up Notorious RBG which is great timing with all the attention currently focused on the Supreme Court right now.

  16. Only three this week: Notorious RBG, which was okay, Trashed, which was more interesting than I expected, and The Iron Trial, which I must have missed when it first came out, but I LOVE IT. :)

    I have a bunch on hold for me, so I’m at 68 down, 24 to go if I’ve calculated correctly. :)

  17. Rough year this year, alot of the books I have already read and don’t have time to reread when there is so much out there to be read for the first time. I read the Lumberjanes books and was not impressed. Tried mutant magic academy and could not get into it at all. Still working on Shadowshaper. Not holding out much hope for finishing but I am ok with that this year.

  18. I finished Bone Gap and Six of Crows which brings my total to five. I really enjoyed both books. Next up is either Shadowshaper or Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda depending on which becomes available first.

  19. I read:
    * Bones & All by Camille DeAngelis (weird, not sure I liked the end, but loved the writing)
    * Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert (not my cup of tea at all, but well-written)
    * Breakthrough: How One Teen Innovator Is Changing the World by Jack Andraka (an awesome read, both about dealing with identity and how fun science can be)
    * Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa (really enjoyed but wanted more out of the end)
    * Audacity by Melanie Crowder (enjoyed despite it being free verse which I usually can’t stand),
    * Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero (read before, LOVED the audio version as much as I loved the written)

    I’m currently reading four others all at once! Hopefully done by next check-in. :)

  20. I just finished Humans of NY: Stories, which was pretty great. Very moving and powerful.

    I’m working on Zeroboxer, having it picked it for my Teen Book Club without realizing it was one of the Challenge titles.

    In audio, I’ve just started Lair of Dreams after finish Illuminae, which was AMAZING. Holy moly, that audiobook is SO GOOD. I’ve recommended it to all my adult friends.

  21. I only decided quite recently to sign on for the challenge this year. Consequently I’m only three books in.

    1. Shadowshaper
    2. Ms. Marvel
    3. The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly

    Is there a Goodreads group for this year’s challenge yet?

  22. My list is up to: Calvin, Echo, Shadowshaper, and half-way through Half the World and Jackaby, which I’ll need to read to understand Beastly Bones, haha

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