2015 Young Adult Services Symposium: Book Blitz!

On the Schedule at a Glance in the Symposium’s program, Saturday’s list of events included a “Book Blitz” from 5:00-7:00 p.m. The only information about this event were a few pages in the program dedicated to Book Blitz Author Bios and a small box that stated: Each attendee will receive 6 tickets to exchange with these authors for free signed books!


Symposium veterans knew what to expect from the Blitz, but newcomers could be heard Friday evening and Saturday afternoon pondering, “What is this Book Blitz all about?”

This tweet from attendee Lauren Regenhardt sums up the experience pretty well:


Continue reading 2015 Young Adult Services Symposium: Book Blitz!

Celebrate Bastille Day with French Authors and Themed Novels!

Tomorrow is Bastille Day! To commemorate this day check out some French authors who have had their titles for teen readers published in the US and teen novels that center on French culture and history. Joyeux Quatorze Juillet!

French Authors

NoandMeLife As It ComesvangoWintersEndILoveIHateIMissMySisterLastMan

No and Me by Delphine de Vigan (2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults)

Life as It Comes by Anne-Laure Bondoux

Vango by Timothée de Fombelle (2015 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults)

When I was a Soldier by Valérie Zenatti (2006 Best Books for Young Adults)

Winter’s End by Jean-Claude Morlevat

I Love I Hate I Miss My Sister by Amélie Sarn

Last Man, Vol. 1: The Stranger by Balak, Sanlaville, Vivés


Set in Paris

AnnaFrenchKissCoverdieformeBeautifulAmericansMarie Antoinette Serial KillerStarryNightsGadgetGirlJustoneDayCoverBandette

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (2012 Readers’ Choice, 2012 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults)

Die for Me by Amy Plum

Beautiful Americans by Lucy Silag

Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer by Katie Alender (2015 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers)

Starry Nights by Daisy Whitney

Gadget Girl: the art of being invisible by Suzanne Kamata

Just One Day by Gayle Forman (2014 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults, 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults)

Bandette in Presto! by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover (2014 Great Graphic Novels)


Historical Fiction Set in France

The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page MorganDarknessStrangeLovelyRevolutionCoverBelleEpoqueCoverPaleAssassinthe rednecklacecoverUnderWarnTornSkySovayGraveMercyBlueFlameRevolutionofSabine

The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan

A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly (2011 Odyssey Honor Audiobook, 2013 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, 2011 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults)

Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross (2014 Morris Award Finalist)

The Pale Assassin by Patricia Elliott

The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner (2009 Best Books for Young Adults)

Under a War Torn Sky by L.M. Elliott

Sovay by Celia Rees

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers (2013 Teen Top Ten Nominee, 2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults)

Blue Flame by K.M. Grant

The Revolution of Sabine by Beth Levine Ain


–Colleen Seisser, currently reading Antigoddess by Kendare Blake

The Third Day of YA

The Twelve Days of YAThis year on the Hub we are celebrating the Twelve Days of YA with a series of posts loosely based on the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas gifts. We have converted each gift into a related theme common to YA and paired it with a list of relevant titles. You may use the Twelve Days of YA tag to read all of the posts in the series.

Special thanks goes to Carli Spina, Faythe Arredondo, Sharon Rawlins, Geri Diorio, Becky O’Neil, Carla Land, Katie Yu, Laura Perenic, Jennifer Rummel, Libby Gorman, Carly Pansulla, and Allison Tran for their help creating the booklists and organizing this series.

On the third day of YA, my true love gave to me three French hens.

There is something so romantic and exciting about stories set in foreign countries. France is certainly no exception. Rather than three French hens, today we are giving you eight French stories. The following books all take place, at least in part, in France. Ooh-la-la! We hope you enjoy the titles we picked and encourage you to share your favorite French stories in the comments!

AnnaFrenchKissCover   Isla and the Happily Ever After      BelleEpoqueCover

   JustoneDayCover  White_Bicycle  Marie Antoinette Serial Killer

– Jessica Lind, currently reading My True Love Gave to Me edited by Stephanie Perkins

Bookish Brew: In Honor of Author Elizabeth Ross, a Pot of Tea and French Pastry

Belle EpoqueI loved 2014 William C. Morris YA Debut Award Finalist Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross so much that I thought it should be highlighted with both drink instructions AND a pastry recipe.  The drink this time is simply black tea – but made properly, soothingly, with a kettle, teapot, loose leaf tea and all the rest.  While protagonist Maude Pichon does mention drinking and fantasizing about a “bowl” of hot chocolate more than once, and two of the wealthier characters drink coffee a couple times, tea is by far the most commonly enjoyed hot drink in this novel, mentioned more than twenty times.  The eats?  A recipe for the beloved pastry of Maude’s close friend Marie-Josée: pain au chocolat, of course!

As Hub bloggers Alegria Barclay and Anna Tschetter have respectfully already thoughtfully reviewed Belle Epoque and interviewed author Elizabeth Ross, I will only provide a brief outline of the novel here.  Set in 1888, it is narrated by protagonist Maude Pichon, a sixteen-year-old who has run away from her home in Brittany to start a new, self-determined life in Paris.  Desperate to make ends meet, she takes a position as a repoussoir at an agency, serving as a hired “beauty foil” for the wealthy.  Supposedly plain-looking women such as Maude are paid by this agency to accompany wealthy women on social outings, with the idea that the women’s plainness will make the wealthy clients appear attractive in contrast.  Maude often finds her work degrading, and yet, eventually becomes a bit enchanted by the world of her main client.  In doing so she risks ruining meaningful new friendships and a possible love relationship.  In our appearance-obsessed 21st century culture, it is impossible not to identity with Maude’s experiemce on some level.

photo by flickr user Helen Chang

A bit of casual research on my part appears to indicate that black tea is the most popular variety in France, with Breakfast, Earl Grey and fruity black tea blends often being found on salon de thé menus.  This coincides with Marie-Josée’s humorous dismissal of herbal tea when she describes a client outing which she did not particularly enjoy: “ ‘But no, this client had me stuck in the back corner drinking a tisane… not a foot set on the dance floor, herbal tea, and my talents wasted.’ ”


Making a Pot of Black Loose Leaf Tea

  1. Pour the number of cups of water that you desire into the tea kettle (one cup of water makes one cup of tea).
  2. Put the kettle on a stovetop burner.  Turn the burner up to its highest setting.
  3. Meanwhile, warm your teapot by filling it with hot tap water and letting it sit covered for a while.
  4. Once the tea kettle is boiling, empty the teapot of warm water.  Measure into the teapot one teaspoon of loose leaf tea for each cup of water that you have boiled.
  5. Turn off the kettle and pour the boiling water into the teapot and place the lid on it.
  6. For black tea, let the teapot sit (let the tea “steep”) three to five minutes.  Longer steeping time leads to stronger tea.
  7. After this time is up, for each cup of tea, place a strainer on top of the tea cup and pour your tea through this so that you catch the leaves.
  8.  Remove the strainer from the tea cup, add anything to your tea that you like (honey, sugar, milk, etc.) and enjoy!

Continue reading Bookish Brew: In Honor of Author Elizabeth Ross, a Pot of Tea and French Pastry

ALA Midwinter 2014: YALSA’s Morris/Nonfiction Award Program & Presentation

morris_nonfiction_program_alamw2014The morning of Monday, January 28th, at the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia was filled with excitement. Right on the heels of the ALA Youth Media Awards came YALSA’s Morris/Nonfiction Program & Presentation, and the whole room was abuzz to celebrate this year’s finalists and winners of the William C. Morris YA Debut Award and the Award for Excellent in Nonfiction for Young Adults.

Emceed by YALSA President Shannon Peterson, the program began with the Morris Award winner and finalists, introduced by Dorcas Wong, 2014 Morris Award Committee Chair.

Sex & ViolenceCarrie Mesrobian, author of Morris finalist Sex and Violence, gave a heartfelt speech recounting the significance of libraries in her formative years. She was an avid library user during her youth, but never interacted with librarians as a teen. Despite this, she said, “No matter that I never spoke to a single librarian, the librarians kept the shelves stocked… Librarians regularly and reliably provided me with the books I needed.” And for that, she said, she is “forever grateful.”

Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad PoetsEvan Roskos, author of Morris finalist Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets, had everyone in stitches by observing that being honored for the Morris is a truly a once in a lifetime opportunity because, well… he can only debut once. He then told a story about how his book empowered a teen reader to get help for their mental health concerns. Of course, the inspiring nature of this anecdote turned to hilarity as he observed that “Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets actually caused someone to seek therapy.” He concluded by sharing his four-year-old son’s reaction to seeing his book cover. “Daddy, YOU wrote Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus?” This author is just as hilarious and thoughtful as his book. Continue reading ALA Midwinter 2014: YALSA’s Morris/Nonfiction Award Program & Presentation

An Interview with Morris Finalist Elizabeth Ross, author of Belle Epoque

I am happy to continue our series of 2013 Morris Award finalist interviews with a chat with Elizabeth Ross, author Belle Epoque. Check out Alegria’s review of Belle Epoque, the story of a plain girl hired to become a beauty “foil” for an attractive society girl in 1880s Paris. Elizabeth was kind enough to answer some questions about her novel and even provided us with some pictures used in her research!

In Belle Epoque’s afterword, you mention that Emile Zola’s story ‘Les Repoussoirs’ in part inspired the story, but what made you want to set the book in this time? What do you think is so fascinating to many people of this time in history, and especially in Paris? I’m thinking the enduring love for the paintings of Toulouse Lautrec and other Post-Impressionists, and the continuing romance of the bohemian lifestyle. What is it about that time?

Salon at the Rue des Moulins, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec
Salon at the Rue des Moulins, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec

Paris at the end of the 19th century was a pivotal time in history. Technology, architecture, art and culture were exploding. It was the dawn of the modern age, where the ‘new’ was at odds with old ways of thinking in so many fields.

I’m glad you mentioned Toulouse Lautrec because his art was a huge inspiration for my repoussoirs. The world he painted and the Paris Zola wrote about show the ugly underbelly of a city that we usually associate with romance and luxury. These unbeautiful elements, such as extremes of class and gender inequality, helped augment the stakes and drama for my characters.

Lastly, setting my story in belle époque Paris meant I could examine lots of ideas about today’s society but disguise them in another place and time.

Continue reading An Interview with Morris Finalist Elizabeth Ross, author of Belle Epoque

Morris Award Finalist: Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross

Belle EpoqueAs a fan of both Emile Zola and Paris at the turn-of-the-century, I was very excited to read Elizabeth Ross’ debut novel Belle Epoque based on Zola’s short story “Les Repoussoirs.”  Zola’s story briefly outlines how one particularly unsavory businessman opens an agency that rents out unattractive lower-class women to attractive upper-class ones in order to highlight the latter’s beauty.  Near the end of Emile Zola’s story, the narrator states: “I don’t know if you can realize what it is like to be a foil; they have their joys and public triumphs but they also have their very private sorrows.”  In many ways, this one sentence is at the heart of Ross’s novel as she explores with nuance and depth the complex internal lives of these women acting as foils to more beautiful women.

Belle Epoque primarily focuses on the story of Maude Pichon, a poor young girl who has run away from an arranged marriage to find her fortune in the City of Lights.  She soon discovers that life is not as easy as imagined in Paris for a plain woman with few prospects.  Hungry and desperate, she answers an ad looking for young women for “undemanding work”, as she soon finds out the work may be undemanding physically but it is emotionally taxing.  Although not ugly, Maude is deemed plain enough to serve the purposes of the Countess Dubern who needs a suitable companion for her willful and beautiful daughter Isabelle.  Maude’s interactions with the Dubern family form the basis of the story set against the sumptuous backdrop of Paris in the 1890s.

Continue reading Morris Award Finalist: Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross