Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2020) Nominees Round Up, November 8 Edition

Click here to see all of the current Best Fiction for Young Adults nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.

Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All by Laura Ruby
Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
ISBN: 978-0062317643

 On the tail end of the Great Depression and into World War II, Frankie and her younger sister, Toni, are left at an orphanage in Chicago by their father as secrets are revealed through the eyes of a ghost girl named Pearl watching and narrating a tale of heartbreak, tragedy, and hope.

Continue reading Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2020) Nominees Round Up, November 8 Edition

School Library Journal 2016 Day of Dialog Recap

SLJDOD2016_SLJHeader_900x250Each year, School Library Journal presents a Day of Dialog, which allows librarians, educators, and library students the chance to come together and learn the latest about childrens and teens publishing trends and upcoming releases.  This was the first time I have attended a Day of Dialog and I would definitely recommend future attendance to anyone who works with children and/or teens promoting books and reading. Check out my recap of the middle school/high school panels and speakers from the day! Continue reading School Library Journal 2016 Day of Dialog Recap

SYNC Audiobooks for Teens

SYNC imageThe SYNC Audiobooks for Teens program, sponsored by AudioFile Magazine, and powered by OverDrive, will start next week on May 5th to give teens, librarians and educators the opportunity  to download a selection of free audiobooks during a 15-week program that ends on August 17, 2016.

Each week, SYNC offers a thematic pairing of  two YA books or a YA book with an classic adult book. You must download the Overdrive app to the device of your choice to access the audiobooks each Thursday after 7 pm (EST). Each week’s selections are only available for download for one week, so if you don’t download them during that time period, you won’t be able to get them later, since they aren’t archived. Teens, librarians, club leaders, and educators can sign up for email or text alerts to receive reminders of when they’re available.

Many of the selections are award-winners or titles frequently assigned for summer reading. They are notable for their excellent narration that enables readers to master the listening skills so necessary for literacy. During the summer of 2015, the SYNC program gave away more than 129,000 downloads to 41,000 participants.

With the continued discussions of the loss of reading skills over the summer, SYNC hopes to help keep teens engaged and stimulated throughout the summer. Public librarians have also used SYNC as part of their summer reading programs.

SYNC has a toolkit you can use to publicize it to teens and other librarians by going to their website. There are downloadable posters and a brochure with the list of each week’s audiobooks, and even audio snippets of the books you can listen to.

I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to listen to books I may not have read, or adult books I wouldn’t normally listen to. I really love that they’re free and that I can keep them forever once I’ve downloaded them. I’ve only participated over the past three or so years. Since this is the seventh year of the program, I’ve missed out on a lot of great audios! So you don’t miss out like I did, the list of what’s available is here, with annotations from WorldCat. You can also go to SYNC’s website to see the list too.

Vivian Apple at the End of the WorldVIVIAN APPLE AT THE END OF THE WORLD by Katie Coyle (Dreamscape Media) 

Sixteen-year-old Vivian Apple returns home after the alleged ‘Rapture’ to find her devout parents gone and two mysterious holes in the roof. Vivian never believed in the Rapture, or the uber powerful Church of America. Now that she has been left behind, Vivan’s quest for the truth begins.


Great Tennessee Monkey Trial Peter GoodchildTHE GREAT TENNESSEE MONKEY TRIAL by Peter Goodchild (L.A. Theatre Works) 

Presents a dramatization of the Scope Trial in a small-town Tennessee courtroom in 1925 which set the stage for the ongoing national debate over freedom of inquiry and the separation of church and state in a democratic society.


Sin Eaters Daughter audioTHE SIN EATER’S DAUGHTER by Melinda Salisbury (Scholastic Audio)

For four years sixteen-year-old Twylla has lived in the castle of Lormere, the goddess-embodied, whose touch can poison and kill, and hence the Queen’s executioner–but when Prince Merek, her betrothed, who is immune to her touch returns to the kingdom she finds herself caught up in palace intrigues, unsure if she can trust him or the bodyguard who claims to love her.



Los Angeles lawyer and law professor, Jim Gash, tells the amazing true story of how, after a series of God-orchestrated events, he finds himself in the heart of Africa defending a courageous Ugandan boy languishing in prison and wrongfully accused of two separate murders. Ultimately, their unlikely friendship and unrelenting persistence reforms Uganda’s criminal justice system, leaving a lasting impact on hundreds of thousands of lives and unearthing a friendship that supersedes circumstance, culture and the walls we often hide behind.

Continue reading SYNC Audiobooks for Teens

Journey Through the 2015 National Book Award Longlisters

NBA2015Happy almost-Halloween, Hubbers! The leaves are changing, it’s cooling down (even in Arizona where I just was – it was 90 degrees! Brr!), and it’s my favorite time of the year. But, on to the books! Over the next couple of months, I thought I’d focus on the National Book Awards longlist for Young People’s Literature – although, due to my trip, I wasn’t able to get as much reading done as I’d have liked. But, we’ll start small this month, and I’ll be working my way through the longlist over these cold & rainy months to come. This month, I’m focusing on 3 books that are fun, interesting and perfect books for all the teens in your life. I know they’ve announced the finalists by now, but I thought it would be fun to celebrate all of the great books that made the longlist since they are all winners to me! Here we go…

Continue reading Journey Through the 2015 National Book Award Longlisters

An Ode to the Magic in Bone Gap and A Corner of White

It’s October and I’ve been thinking a lot about cornfields and scarecrows since Halloween is almost here. I associate cornfields and scarecrows with horror (Children of the Corn, the short story by Stephen King anyone?).

Actually I’ve been thinking about cornfields ever since I listened to the wonderful A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty this past summer as part of the summer SYNC audio book program that pairs a YA book with a classic title.

I also recently listened to Bone Gap by Laura Ruby, a 2015 National Book Award finalist for Young People’s Literature, and currently nominated for YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults and noticed that cornfields play a big part in that book too. So, although it might be more seasonal to discuss horror books, I’m going to focus on two wonderful magical tales, one with a touch of horror, instead.

Photo Oct 15, 2 01 07 PMRuby deserves all the praise she’s getting for her unforgettable book Bone Gap. It’s an amazing read, and it’s also terrific on audio. Bone Gap is a town in the Midwest where Finn and his perfect, and very responsible older brother Sean live on a farm. Their mother’s left them to live in another state with a new guy. One day a beautiful woman named Roza shows up in their barn, hurt and on the run from something that she won’t talk about.

They help her and she ends up staying – until one night she’s kidnapped right in front of Finn but he can’t recall enough about the man who took her to help the police find her. Roza’s been taken to a place between – a gap – by a terrifying man who has magical powers and she must try to figure out if, or how, she can get away. At the same time, Finn and his girlfriend Petey are trying to find a way to find Roza too.


A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty is also hard to describe because it also combines our world with a parallel one that’s also mostly set in the present, but with a uniquely magical and quirky aspect to it. In Cambridge, England, 14-year-old Madeleine is struggling to adjust to her new life after she and her mother mysteriously leave their rich father and their wealthy lifestyle for a more impoverished one.

Elliot lives in the Kingdom of Cello on a farm with his mother. His father has disappeared under strange circumstances. People think that one of the villainous colors “a third-level purple” was responsible because in Cello, colors can actually attack and kill people. Madeleine and Elliot become aware of each others existence after they begin exchanging letters through a crack between their worlds. Elliot leaves a letter in a sculpture in his world that appears in a slit in a parking meter in Madeleine’s world. As they get to know each other, events in their lives begin to intertwine.

Continue reading An Ode to the Magic in Bone Gap and A Corner of White

Diversify YA Life: Social Justice League-Reader’s Advisory for Teens Dealing with Social Issues

As library workers, especially those of us who work with teens, our role can shift to “social worker” in an instant. Our teen patrons visit the library everyday and they begin to trust and confide in us.  Because most of us don’t have the training to work with at-risk youth, we can feel a little helpless but we don’t have to because we have the power of a good book.

About a year ago, a member of my book discussion group seemed to be questioning his sexuality and he never talked about it.  I gave him Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith to read because I thought the ending was perfect for his situation.  He loved the book and now he’s very open with his sexuality and he accepts who he is.  Did my recommendation help him? I don’t really know but I like to think it gave him some perspective.  When I see a teen who I think or know is struggling with a personal problem, I’ll strike up a book conversation on their next library visit asking them what they like to read.  If they are a reader, I’ll find a book from their favorite genre that deals with the subject they are struggling with.

In my library, I see homeless teens, teens with alcoholic parents, teens living with a dying parent, and teens dealing with gender identity and body image.  I used to feel powerless but after I recommended Grasshopper Jungle, I realized that I could be an effective adult in the lives of teens. Below are a list of good books that blend popular genres with social issues.  Gone are the days of feeling helpless. Say goodbye to sifting through numerous Google results.  You now possess the power of reader’s advisory in a flash.  You are the newest member of the Social Justice League!

Continue reading Diversify YA Life: Social Justice League-Reader’s Advisory for Teens Dealing with Social Issues

We Can Do It! Feminist Literature for Teens

photo by flickr user Trishhhh
photo by flickr user Trishhhh

Are we in the dog days of summer, dear Hubbers? It sure feels like it! One thing I know is I sure missed writing for all of you; I’m glad to be back! So, this was a post I was going to write a couple of months ago when the word “feminist” was all in the news thanks to Beyoncé and Taylor Swift. It still kind of is in the news, and I think it’s a very important and relevant topic even though we’re not necessarily talking about it incessantly.

Anyways! Feminist teen literature. I’ve been noticing that a lot of new teen books are being marketed as feminist literature for teens which intrigued me, and I happened upon this article that piqued my interest even more: Book Riot – Feminist Teen Lit. They had so many good recommendations, so I chose a brief few from their list to see what was up.

Now, I know what a feminist is, and I’m proud to call myself one. But, I wondered – what makes a book a feminist book? Are they only stories narrated by girls or women (kind of, but not always)? Are they only powerful and sad stories where the main character goes through a traumatic event and grows through the healing process (sometimes, but not always)? I was so excited to find out the answers to those questions that I decided to dive right in to the books I added to my to-read stack, and I’m happy to share those awesome books with you today.

These books are great reads for anyone who loves stories about strong characters; stories who don’t portray or see women and girls only in relation to or as defined by the men and boys in their lives. These are stories of fully formed people who see the strengths and weaknesses in each other as humans, not in relation to their gender. On a side note, I work with a teen who is a member of the feminist club at her high school (how I wish I’d had one of those!), and she has been thoroughly enjoying these books which range from comedy to dystopian to mystery to a story of pain and redemption. Well, let’s get started, shall we? First up! My favorite book that I’ve read so far this year!

The Walls Around UsThe Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma: Oh my goodness, you guys. This book is spectacular – really unbelievably wonderful. It’s the story of 3 girls – Violet, Amber, and Orianna – the journeys they will take in their lives, and the paths that have already been established for them. Violet is a ballerina, and Orianna used to be. Orianna was the best ballerina at their school until she was sent to prison for the murder of girls who were tormenting Violet…the same prison where Amber is serving her sentence for killing her abusive stepfather. But, what really happened between Orianna and those other ballerinas, Amber and her stepfather, Violet and Orianna? And, what is happening to Amber as she starts to see the prison in a different light after a very timely and suspicious lightning storm one night. Readers will be glued to their seats to not only see how the story turns out, but also to see how these 3 girls will all become part of each other’s past, present and future.  Ugh!  I can’t say anymore or it will just totally ruin the whole experience for you.  Trust me – you just have to accept that you don’t have to know everything going into this story. However it turns out, these well-developed and realized girls aren’t totally perfect and they aren’t totally flawed, but indicative of real people whose actions, emotions, and lives are highly nuanced. A haunting read that will stay with readers, well, let’s just say, forever. I read it a month ago, and I’m still thinking about it!! Continue reading We Can Do It! Feminist Literature for Teens

One Thing Leads to Another: An Interview with Laura Ruby

Check out previous interviews in the One Thing Leads to Another series here.

I’d been a fan of Laura Ruby for quite some time, having read, I think, all of her books–both YA and middle grade–as they were released.  I also followed her online and quickly realized I wasn’t just a fan of Laura Ruby’s work, but of Laura Ruby herself because she’s smart and passionate and funny and angry, often all at the same time.  She’s also thoughtful and honest and energizing, whether she’s talking about sexism or YA publishing or what it means to be an adult, whether she’s writing a novel, a blog post, or 140 characters.  If you’re not well acquainted, this would be an excellent time to fix that, especially because…

…then came Bone Gap, which literally couldn’t be a more perfect book for me if it had come gift wrapped on a silver platter.  I’ve written about my love of mythic fiction and magic realism (especially North American magic realism) elsewhere, and Bone Gap is sort of both of those, but also more, with Roza and Finn and “beauty” and gaps and Petey and hope…with love and landscape and the true magic of dancing honeybees…   I can’t tell you how much I love this book, but it’s a lot. So much.  So much love.
Thank you so much, Laura, for taking the time to talk with me, and for your honesty and generosity.  Thank you for telling the truth. 

Always Something There to Remind Me

laura1-pressPlease describe your teenage self.

I was alternately furious and sad, opinionated and confused, arrogant and awkward, articulate and incomprehensible, focused and aimless, ferocious and nearly witless with terror. I was desperate for attention and at the same time I didn’t want anyone to look at me, ever, for fear I might explode with anxiety.  I loved my friends with an intensity that was almost painful, and yet I was basically a self-absorbed jerkface. I tried on personalities like outfits. Really awful, 80s-era outfits, the images of which I wish I could scrub from my brain.

As a younger teenager, one of my favorite books was Edith Konecky’s Allegra Maud Goldman.  In it, Konecky writes, “I have a terrible memory. I never forget a thing.”

Yeah.  It’s like that.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Why?

I’d been writing fiction and poetry all my life, but I didn’t know that a regular person could become a writer.  Writers were near-magical creatures that lived in cabins on snow-capped mountaintops or maybe in chic garrets in Paris.  Writers didn’t worry about things like mortgages and health insurance and toilet paper.  My parents worried about things like mortgages and health insurance and toilet paper; they would have laughed me out of the house if I’d told them I wanted to become a novelist.  (Now that I’m thinking about it, they did chuckle a bit when I first told them I was writing a novel.  Writing a novel!  What are you, French or something?)

Since becoming a writer wasn’t an option, I thought I would study psychology and perhaps become a therapist.  Because the world needs more insanely awkward therapists.

But really, I just wanted to be an adult because I thought that once you turned eighteen other people finally stopped telling you what to do. Continue reading One Thing Leads to Another: An Interview with Laura Ruby