Summer Solstice Reads

photo by Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho on flickr
photo by Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho on flickr

The summer solstice is the longest day of the year, or in other words, the twenty-four hour period with the greatest amount of sunlight.  This year in the northern hemisphere the summer solstice will take place on this coming Saturday, June 21st, and in the southern hemisphere on December 21st.  Just think of all those hours of natural light to read by in a comfy hammock!  This definitely calls for a reading list.

The roots of summer solstice celebrations are pagan and over time also became associated with the Christian St. John’s Day.  Currently, the summer solstice is celebrated by many, including practitioners of Wicca and also residents of northern Europe, where it is a secular festivity.  The summer solstice is particularly important in the Scandinavian and Baltic countries.  In Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania the summer solstice, known as Midsummer, is even a public holiday occurring on June 24th.

There are several young adult novels concerning or including the summer solstice, in particular a few which have been published fairly recently.  The following are a sampling.  Grab one this Saturday, go relax in the sunshine and enjoy!

 

ShadowoftheMark_fallonShadow of the Mark by Leigh Fallon

In the first book of the Carrier trilogy, Carrier of the Mark, American teen Megan, who has moved with her family to a small town in Ireland, learns that she is actually the human representation of air, one of the four elements.  In book two of the series, Shadow of the Mark, Megan and her boyfriend Adam, who is the element of water, and his siblings Áine (Earth) and Rían (Fire) must get themselves ready for the summer solstice Alignment, a rite in which the four elements become one.  There are various complications in the novel, including the fact that any union between Megan and Adam may end up killing him.  There are also Druids and knights who are sometimes of assistance to the four teens and sometimes in conflict with each other.  Megan herself must decide to take action if things are going to come to a positive resolution in this suspenseful paranormal romance.  Continue reading Summer Solstice Reads

The Rise and Fall of YA Lit Trends: Timing is Everything

In 2008, Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight hit the big time with the release of movie version. Millions flocked to the theaters, then to bookstores and libraries to finish Stephenie Meyers’ saga. Suddenly, everywhere we looked, there were vampires: scary, sexy, sparkly, fangs… you could take your pick. More books hit the shelves (or were discovered) like PC Cast’s House of Night series, Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy, and Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series. Not to mention the many TV shows cropping up everywhere, such as HBO’s True Blood and CW’s Vampire Diaries. It was vampire frenzy. Then the inevitable backlash hit—hard. Folks had clearly hit a saturation point with vampires (particularly Twilight.) It became cool to loudly proclaim ones’ hatred of Twilight—and all things vampire. Twilight spoofs were being produced, such as Nightlight: a Parody by the Harvard Lampoon and the Vampires Suck movie.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly BlackFast forward to 2013 when Holly Black (author of both children’s and young adult gold like The Spiderwick Chronicles and the overlooked but spectacular Curse Workers trilogy) offers The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. This book has everything a lover of gothic reads could want: creepy cool cover art, a terrifying opening scene, scary and dangerously hot romance, flawed narrator, realistic intriguing side characters, and a vividly described falling apart Las Vegas-like town under constant camera surveillance (showing another frightening side of reality TV like that depicted in the Hunger Games trilogy.) In fact, in this librarian’s humble opinion, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown has nary a flaw to be found—except that it’s about vampires. As Karyn Silverman of the Someday My Printz Will Come blog writes, “…I think the anti-vampire bias runs so deep in most librarians these days that Coldtown risks a cold shoulder as a result.” I fear Silverman might be correct in her assessment, as I haven’t heard much buzz from other readers about Coldtown—unless of course, I’m the one who brought it up (which I do, often and loudly). On a bright note, Coldtown‘s appearance on YALSA’s 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults list offers hope for this overlooked gem.  Continue reading The Rise and Fall of YA Lit Trends: Timing is Everything