For the Love of Cats: Felines in YA Fiction

Last month I wrote about canines in YA literature. This month I want to give equal time to the felines. Firstly because I had the joy of growing up in a household of cats. Secondly, there are dastardly cat gangs out there which watch our every move, and I don’t want to get on their bad side. Or so goes the familiar negative image of cats in some popular lore. However, anyone who has actually shared their life with cats knows that this is not at all the reality. Each cat, like each dog, has its own characteristics, whether affectionate or independent, forgiving or wary. With that in mind, in the following list I’ve tried to include fiction titles which I feel are well-suited to teens and which include feline characters in a variety of roles and with a variety of personalities.

blacksadBlacksad (Blacksad series) by Juan Díaz Canales & Juanjo Guarnido

The Spanish Canales and Guarnido originally created their Eisner Award-winning detective noir graphic novel series for French readers, but the setting is early 1950s U.S. This first volume collects the first three issues, which include a murder mystery and stories concerning the effects of white supremacy on individuals and the Red Scare. Private Investigator John Blacksad is an unforgettable feline. Lucia Cedeira Serantes, in her summer 2005 Young Adult Library Services article “¿Es un Pájaro? ¿Es un Avión?.…Spanish Comics for American Libraries” mentions two of the issues in this volume as being among the best in graphic novels and comics from Spain. (Adult Graphic Novel)

Book of Night with Moon (Feline Wizards trilogy) by Diane Duane

This is the first novel in a series which combines science fantasy, adventure, horror and even humor. There is a secret civilization of cats in Manhattan complete with its own language, a glossary of which is included in the novel. When the world is threatened with invasion by monsters from the “Downside”, four cats – Rhiow, Saash, Urruah and Arhu — seek out the wizard responsible for the dire situation. The cats make interesting observations about the differences between human and feline culture. (Adult Fiction) Continue reading For the Love of Cats: Felines in YA Fiction

2015 Amazing Audiobooks Top Ten Listen-a-Likes

Photo by Flickr User jeff_golden
Photo by Flickr User jeff_golden

This past year I had the immense pleasure to serve as chair for the 2015 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults committee. It was a really great year for audiobooks and my committee was fortunate to consider a total of 395 audiobooks for our selection list!  After hours and hours of listening, we had to whittle down a list of no more than 30 selections that were the year’s best.  If you have not yet had a chance to checkout our list you can see it here.  It was released last week, after the Midwinter Conference.

We also had the even more difficult task of selecting our Top Ten Audiobooks of the year. Below are our Top Ten titles for 2015, along with a suggested listen-a-like, in case you are ahead of the game and have already listened to these Top Ten selections.

2015 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults Top Ten

  • ACID by Emma Pass, read by Fiona Hardingham with Nicholas Guy Smith and Suzan Crowley. Listening Library, 2014. 10 hours, 48 minutes; 9 discs. 978-0-8041-6832-8.

The brutal police state ACID rules all, so when Jenna is broken out of prison by a rebel group she has to fight to survive as ACID’s most-wanted fugitive.  Unique ACID reports and recordings read by Smith and Hardingham’s excellent pace combine with her authentic teen voice to highlight this exciting story.

Listen-a-Like:

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, read by Steve West and Fiona Hardingham: For those listeners who are looking for another title narrated by Fiona Hardingham that is packed with action and adventure and that has a strong female main character. (Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults 2012,  2012 Odyssey Honor  Audiobook)

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  • Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger, read by Moira Quick.  Hachette Audio, 2013.  9 hours, 30 minutes, 8 discs, ISBN: 978-1-4789-2648-1.

In the second installment of the Finishing School series, Sophronia and her classmates use their training to search for a dangerous device that may have fallen into the wrong hands.  Quick’s lively narration highlights the wit and humor in Carriger’s story.

Listen-a-Like:

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud, read by Miranda Raison: The Finishing School series, narrated by Quirk, is filled with sly humor but also packs a punch with Sophronia’s adventures.  Likewise, The Screaming Staircase is not only is an action-packed steampunk mystery, but Raison brings variety to her narration by highlighting the nuances of the quirky cast of characters characters, including the darkly comedic Anthony Lockwood. (Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults 2014)

curtsies and conspiracies audio  screaming staircase audio Continue reading 2015 Amazing Audiobooks Top Ten Listen-a-Likes

A Bad Romance– Love Gone Wrong in Teen Lit

By CMEarnest (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By CMEarnest via Wikimedia Commons
Springtime is when love is in the air.  New relationships are blooming, the warmer weather drives people outdoors and puts everyone in a better mood, and it just seems like the perfect time to fall in love…

But what happens when you don’t want to fall in love?  When you just want to snarkily smirk at those silly people holding hands and picking flowers?  How do you avoid, nay how do you embrace the idea that falling in love is just not for you..?

Well, one good way is to read books about love gone wrong.  Luckily, teen lit is filled with excellent examples of books about all the ways love can be so harmful to your well-being.  From bad breakups to unrequited crushes, check out the list below if you want to fall in love with a bad romance!

Star-Crossed Love

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The Tear Collector by Patrick Jones

Cassandra comes from a long line of vampire-like creatures who need human tears to survive rather than blood.  Cassandra is very good at collecting tears by being the shoulder for her friends to cry on, and even volunteering as a grief counselor.  However, Cassandra is growing tired of her life and wants to be human, especially when she begins to fall in love with Scott.

Continue reading A Bad Romance– Love Gone Wrong in Teen Lit

Alice’s Reading List

alice in wonderlandHaving always been a fan of Alice in Wonderland, I was stoked for the spin off TV series Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, airing on ABC. Though it has been met with some criticism as well as praise, I have loved watching this new spin on the classic tale.  As the show goes into hiatus until the spring, I started thinking, what could I read in the meantime that was similar to Once Upon a Time in Wonderland?  What YA novels out there are spins on the classic Alice in Wonderland tale?  I also thought about how at the beginning of Lewis Carroll’s book Alice states, “…what is the use of a book…without pictures or conversations?”  If Alice saw no use in books without pictures or conversations as a child, would her tastes have changed as she grew up and became a teen?  What would Alice read?

Of course, I had to start digging.  What I came up with is a list of books that Alice may have read as she got older, after her adventures in Wonderland.  The novels I found have direct tie-ins to the Alice tale, they are set in the time that Alice lived, or they are about fantastical journeys similar to the one Alice took when she fell down the rabbit hole.  Check them out and be sure to add any suggestions you think Alice would enjoy!

Continue reading Alice’s Reading List