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)

acidaudioscorpioracesaudio

  • 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

Jukebooks: For What It’s Worth by Janet Tashjian

for what it's worthQuinn is fourteen years old in 1971, living in Laurel Canyon, California. Rock music is just hitting its stride, and Quinn is obsessed. He writes a column, “For What It’s Worth,” that’s filled with rock ‘n roll minutiae. But rock never did exist in a vacuum. Like the blues, it was born of creative and political need, as Quinn begins to realize when a draft dodger shows up at his house.

The book is loaded with music. It would be far simpler to make a playlist than to select one song, one musician. But Quinn makes reference to “Club 27,” which has been a theme for Jukebooks lately. It’s a bit prescient for Quinn to speak of Club 27, since it wasn’t really a thing in 1971. (I would know; I was fourteen in 1971.) But it presents an opportunity to write about Brian Jones.

Jones is the Rolling Stone you never hear about. He’s the one who recruited the band members and chose the band’s name. He introduced the Jimi Hendrix Experience at the Monterey Pop Festival. Through it all, he took drugs. The descent is sadly familiar: erratic behavior, arrests, fighting with the other band members. In 1969, Jones was asked to leave the band, eventually replaced by Mick Taylor.

Below is a montage of Brian Jones images, accompanied by the Rolling Stones’s “Last Time.” Jones played the guitar riff heard in the recording.

Diane Colson, currently reading Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann.

New and Forthcoming LGBTQ Young Adult Fiction

This summer, The Hub did a round up of Speculative LGBTQ fiction and highlighted other notable LGBTQ young adult novels. If you’ve worked your way through those lists and are looking for more LGBTQ fiction, you’re in luck! This post is highlighting teen fiction that features lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and otherwise non-heterosexual identifying characters and themes that are coming out in Fall 2014 and Winter 2015.

In some of these novels, the sexual orientation and gender identity are integral to the plot, and in others, it’s just another characteristic of the protagonist. There’s a great mix of genres and styles so that any reader can find a book they’ll enjoy. With titles from debut authors as well as those firmly established in the YA world, it’s great to see such an eclectic assortment of titles.

New LGBTQ YA Fiction FallWinter 2014-2015 Continue reading New and Forthcoming LGBTQ Young Adult Fiction

Beyond The History Books: Genre Guide to ‘Off The Beaten Path’ Historical Fiction

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Definition

Historical fiction can be a deceptively complex genre to define.  It would seem initially that any fiction set in the past might be considered historical fiction but as we examine this basic distinction, it becomes significantly less simple.  After all, how far into the past does a novel need to be set to be considered historical rather than contemporary realistic fiction?  Do we use a specific range of years? Do we consider the likely cultural memory and lived experiences of the intended audience?  For the purposes of this guide, I’ve decided to define historical fiction as a novel set in the past in which the particular realities of that time and place play a significant role in the narrative.

Characteristics

The genre of historical fiction is vast and varied.  The idea of compiling a definitive genre guide is fairly daunting  so I chose a focus: “off the beaten path” historical fiction–novels set in the past that feature perspectives, places, time periods, or events frequently unexplored in both the average history class curriculum and historical fiction.

Appeal

These novels expand the genre beyond the ‘white people in interesting clothing’  approach that can dominate the historical fiction shelves. In the process of creating history, many voices have been silenced, forgotten, or shoved aside. Good historical fiction–like all good fiction–weaves an absorbing story with complex characters, providing us with an opportunity to counteract simplified or biased versions of history.  Through fiction, readers can look at well-known events from a new perspective, immerse themselves in unfamiliar cultures, or see an exploration of their heritage.

Continue reading Beyond The History Books: Genre Guide to ‘Off The Beaten Path’ Historical Fiction

Fashion Hits and Misses from YA Historical Fiction Book Covers, Part 4

I love historical fiction.  The drama, the intrigue and, oh– the fashion.  I just assume all the period details regarding clothing are accurate.  Or I did until my friend Liz shared it was her secret delight to troll the adult fiction section and find anachronistic apparel.  Curious to know how Liz knows all that she does about fashion?  Read her bio found in our first two collaborative blog posts for The Hub:

Turns out a lot of books from specific dates and locations feature outfits as cover art that either haven’t been invented yet or were way out of fashion.  I was eager to know if these same mistakes were being made in Young Adult historical fiction. After all, how was I to know? Here are some examples of books that got it right and those that got it wrong.

clockworkseries
The Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare

Hit: The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare.  This series takes place in Victorian London, 150 years before Clare’s popular Mortal Instuments series.  The first book, Clockwork Angel, is a 2011 Teens’ Top Ten winner. The Victorian Era  runs from 1837 to 1901 spanning the entire reign of Queen Victoria, and despite the inherent vagueness of generalizing fashion from one monarch’s rule,  examples for men’s dress and women’s dress on these covers are very typical of the 19th century and are therefore good examples despite being in a magical fantasy setting.  Continue reading Fashion Hits and Misses from YA Historical Fiction Book Covers, Part 4

Fashion Hits and Misses from YA Historical Fiction Book Covers, Part 3

I love historical fiction.  The drama, the intrigue and, oh– the fashion.  I just assume all the period details regarding clothing are accurate.  Or I did until my friend Liz shared it was her secret delight to troll the adult fiction section and find anachronistic apparel.  Curious to know how Liz knows all that she does about fashion?  Check out her bio in the first post Fashion Hits and Misses from YA Historical Fiction Book Covers.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds  by Cat Winters
In the Shadow of Blackbirds
by Cat Winters

The jazz age of American history is very popular right now in TV and books. Recent Hub posts like Get Ready for Downton Abbey Season 4 With These BooksThe Glamour and Greed of The Great Gatsby and Prohibition Era: Ohio Roots in History and YA Lit highlight our current fascination with the 1920s and 1930s. While imitation is meant as a sincere form of flattery, this only works if the copy is accurate, no matter the intention.

Here are some  Young Adult historical fiction novels sent during the Roaring Twenties with covers that try and sometimes fail to reflect accurate costuming/

Hit: In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters (Morris Award Finalist: In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters)

Set in 1918, bombarded by the war and Spanish Influenza Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black is mistrustful of popular fad spirit photography until a seance takes on personal meaning.  This dress is a bit short length-wise, at this time you would expect to see a longer hem. Overall style is decent.  The fashion of the time often featured a waist that was accentuated with a belt or sash.

 

American dress, 1916-1917
American dress, 1916-1917

This cotton dress was a gift of Mrs. Edwin Stewart Wheeler in 1956 to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. This costume is not on display and can only be viewed online. Continue reading Fashion Hits and Misses from YA Historical Fiction Book Covers, Part 3

Fashion Hits and Misses from YA Historical Fiction Book Covers, Part 2

I love historical fiction.  The drama, the intrigue and, oh– the fashion.  I just assume all the period details regarding clothing are accurate.  Or I did until my friend Liz shared it was her secret delight to troll the adult fiction section and find anachronistic apparel.  Curious to know how Liz knows all that she does about fashion?  Check out her bio in the first post Fashion Hits and Misses from YA Historical Fiction Book Covers.

Turns out a lot of books from specific dates and locations feature outfits as cover art that either haven’t been invented yet or were way out of fashion.  I was eager to know if these same mistakes were being made in Young Adult historical fiction. After all, how was I to know? Here are some examples of books that got it right and those that got it wrong.

In Mozart's Shadow by Carolyn Meyer
In Mozart’s Shadow by Carolyn Meyer

Hit, sort of – In Mozart’s Shadow: His Sister’s Story (alternate title In Mozart’s Shadow: Nannerl’s Story) by Carolyn Meyer

The novel In Mozart’s Shadow: His Sister’s Story is set in eighteenth-century Europe. Older sister Nannerl remains home in Salzburg, Austria while her brother Mozart travels and performs.  How does the cover art compare?

The idea of the appropriate style of dress is there, but the quality of the fashion is poor and ill-fitting.   This particular dress looks like one you would wear for an “old-timey” photo.  The style of the time was a low-necked gown made from woven silks in elaborate patterns worn over panniers, a cage-like garment which extended the hips at the sides.  The bodice would be tightly fitted over a stiff pair of stays, known by modern terminology as a corset.  The front of the bodice exposed a stomacher, which was a triangle-shaped piece which was elaborately decorated.  Sleeves were normally close-fitting and worn to the elbow with ruffle and lace embellishments.  The skirt was often open in the front to expose the petticoat which was decorated to match.  There were several different types of dress worn at the time, but most did follow the same silhouette as described here.  Continue reading Fashion Hits and Misses from YA Historical Fiction Book Covers, Part 2

Ruta Sepetys: Up Close and Personal

Let me start by saying that Ruta Sepetys is a spectacular speaker. As in mind blowing, jaw Ruta Sepetysdropping, side splitting, hands down one-of-the-best-visiting-authors-in-the-world good.  If you get the chance to book her at your library, do so! We had the great fortune to have her as our visiting author last week and she enchanted teachers, students, and parents alike with her remarkable stories.

Ruta started her adult life as a failed opera singer (her words, not mine!), a fact that led her to work behind the scenes in the music industry for 22 years. She came to writing later in life, although her interest in stories manifested itself in all of her many previous endeavors. Indeed, what makes her such an engaging speaker is her own personal narrative. From working on the Halo games to helping singers craft their stories for American Idol to managing well known bands, Ruta has consistently forged her own path and collected countless stories along the way.

out of the easyFans of her two books, Between Shades of Gray (2012 Morris Award Finalist) and Out of the Easy (2014 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults), will be particularly interested in how she came to write both novels. An avid researcher, Ruta immerses herself in the historical world she is writing about in order to truly experience the atmosphere she describes so evocatively in both her books. This devotion (dare I say obsession?) with authenticity has led her to be locked up in a WWII-era train car, as well as an overnight stay in a simulated Soviet prison ending in rather disastrous results (a story best heard in person).  Undaunted, Ruta has since schmoozed with the Mafia, visited once glamorous brothels in New Orleans, and even explored a sunken cruise ship replete with possible treasures.

What struck me most about my time spent with Ruta is her extraordinary graciousness. Every single minute of the day, she was focused on being open and available to her admittedly avid fans. She signed books every single day, took numerous selfies with the students, and responded to the many subsequent emails that kids wrote sharing their stories, their secrets, and their aspirations. And within it all, she also took the time to answer a few of my questions for the Hub.  Thank you, Ruta, for your inspiring visit, your commitment to teen readers, and for your lovely books.

Why are you drawn to writing historical fiction?

I’m drawn to secrets and history is full of them. Through characters and narrative, statistics and reported facts suddenly become human and we absorb history in a lasting way. Continue reading Ruta Sepetys: Up Close and Personal

British Women’s History in YA Lit

womens_history_ya_litMarch is Women’s History Month, celebrated worldwide. In Britain, the Great Reform Act of 1832 excluded all women from voting by specifically changing the word person to male. In 1918, women started to regain voting privileges but it wasn’t until 1928 that women over the age of 21 had the same voting rights as men. As a tribute and celebration to all the previous women who have challenged rules, broken rules, and changed the world, here’s a list of books throughout Great Britain’s history from a woman’s perspective.

Ancient Days: (0-1066)
Major Events Include: Rome invades Britain, Rome conquers Wales, Boudica leads rebellion against the Romans, Hadrian’s Wall is constructed, Rome withdraws, Anglo and the Saxons arrive looking for a fight, Vikings attack, and the Battle of Hastings occurs.

Books in this time period include:
The Edge on the Sword by Rebecca Tingle (2002 Best Books for Young Adults)
Princess Aethelflaed finds herself reluctantly betrothed to an ally of her father’s, in hope that their marriage will bring peace to the land. Betrothed isn’t the same as married, and when enemies attack, Aethelflaed will have to stand her ground.

Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell
Elaine of Ascolat, the Lady of Shalott lives with her family in the camps of King Arthur. As the only girl, she finds herself lonely, until Gwynivere arrives. Unfortunately, Gwynivere isn’t the type of companion Elaine’s been hoping for. Written in a novel in verse, Elaine shares her view of the world of King Arthur.

Middle Ages (1067-1485)
Major Events Include: Oxford University founded, Richard the Lion-hearted enters the Third Crusade, Prince John Signs the Magna Carta, Wales becomes part of Great Britain, Execution of William Wallace, Great European Famine, Hundred Years War, Black Death, and The War of the Roses

Books in this time period include:
Hawksmaid by Kathryn Lasky
Maid Marian (Matty) is the daughter a famous falconer. Matty has her father’s gift with the birds and hopes her future lies with them. When King Richard is captured and his brother rises to power, everything changes. She does her best to help Robin Hood (her childhood friend) make sure everyone survives.

Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
Scarlet keeps her female identity hidden from everyone in Nottinghamshire, except Robin and his friends. When the Sheriff tries to capture the band, she’ll do anything to save her friends.  Continue reading British Women’s History in YA Lit

Fashion Hits and Misses from YA Historical Fiction Book Covers

I love historical fiction.  The drama, the intrigue and, oh– the fashion.  I just assume all the period details regarding clothing are accurate.  Or I did until my friend Liz shared it was her secret delight to troll the adult fiction section and find anachronistic apparel.  Curious to know how Liz knows all that she does about fashion?  Here her bio:

I have had an interest in fashion history since I was young.  My mother would take me to estate sales and auctions where I would buy vintage fashions with my allowance.  After graduating from high school I found I did not know exactly what I wanted to do and ended up going to Miami University for costume design.  While studying I found the thing I loved most about designing costumes was actually doing the research that went into the design.  After this discovery I finished up my Bachelor’s Degree at Miami and moved to New York City to study what I loved most.  I got my Master’s Degree in Costume Studies at New York University and have been working in museums since..  Being with the objects in such an intimate setting has allowed my passion to continue to grow and for me to learn more about every aspect of fashion and clothing construction.

Turns out a lot of books from specific dates and locations feature outfits as cover art that either haven’t been invented yet or were way out of fashion.  I was eager to know if these same mistakes were being made in Young Adult historical fiction. After all, how was I to know? Here are some examples of books that got it right and those that got it wrong.

Hit:  His Fair Assassin Trilogy. Grave Mercy (2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults) and Dark Triumph (2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults) by Robin LaFevers

his fair assassin
His Fair Assassin series by Robin LaFevers

This series is set in Brittany in 1485.  Brittany is a region of North West France.  The book covers features the main character Ismae and Sybella. Both of these costumes are acceptable imitations of clothing found in 15th century France.  The v-neck style does appear to be more indicative of middle 15th century fashion instead of what you would find in the later half of the century. But because fashion didn’t change as fast at that time it would have still been common later in the century, especially for the masses.  Fashion was fairly limited at the time due to the production method and dyes used to make textiles.  Nicer textiles would have been astronomically expensive and impossible for commoners to own because of strict sumptuary laws that restricted the clothing that could be worn by different classes.  The hair, on the other hand, is very inaccurate as you can see from the comparisons below. Continue reading Fashion Hits and Misses from YA Historical Fiction Book Covers