Adult Genre Readers: Break out of a Reading Rut with YA

TeenBooks

Adults reading young adult  books has been discussed here, and here and here, and let’s keep talking about it!  YA  has clearly been established as a force as we continue to see titles fly off the shelves at libraries and book stores (not to mention those virtually flying onto smart phones, kindles, and nooks.)  Clearly it’s not only teens reading YA anymore.

Speaking of adults reading YA… do you know any adults stuck in a reading rut who might appreciate some suggestions?  Two of the most widely-read adult fiction genres today are horror and romance.   There are some truly wonderful YA alternatives out there — and it can be argued that YA authors take greater risks than their mainstream adult genre counterparts do– resulting in diverse, exciting, and ground-breaking books.  Exclusively reading genre selections which follow an established and familiar formula (even when the formula works)  can become tedious. Here are some suggestions to help a genre reader shake things up.

Horror/Serial Killers

i hunt killers barry lyga coverJames Patterson fans will enjoy Barry Lyga’s I Hunt Killers series: a nail-bittingly suspenseful serial killer manhunt trilogy with a flawed hero.  Lyga explores issues of identity, parenthood, nature vs nurture, race, and attraction.

rottersStephen King readers will like Daniel Kraus’s terrifying Rotters (2012 Odyssey Award winner) and Scowler (2014 Odyssey Award winner) Grave digging, monstrous fathers, rat kings, gruesome imagery… Kraus is truly a master of literary horror; nothing run of the mill here!

Dean Koontz lovers will enjoy The Girl From the Well by Rin Chupeco: a terrifying tale of vengeful ghost named Okiko. This spooky tale was inspired by Japanese folklore.

Edgar Allen Poe fans can’t help but enjoy Bethany Griffin’s The Fall and Masque of the Red Death couplet. These atmospheric tales were inspired by Poe’s short stories.   It’s also a refreshing change of pace to find quality literary horror featuring strong female characters. Continue reading Adult Genre Readers: Break out of a Reading Rut with YA

Teen Romance in YA Lit

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October is an exciting month for any YA lit fan, because it includes Teen Read Week! In honor of this annual celebration of young adult literature, YALSA invited book-loving teens all over the world to apply to share their enthusiasm for reading in a guest post for The Hub. Thirty-one talented young writers were chosen, and we’ll be featuring posts from these unique voices all month long. Here’s Karina Hernandez from New Jersey.

Young adult books with teen romance are the stories that take you on a roller coaster of emotion. It’s the moment when the two characters meet. It’s the love that grows between the two of them. It’s the introduction of a good love triangle. It’s the struggle when the couple refuses to accept their love for each other. It’s the tears shed, the pillows punched in frustration, the smile released when they finally kiss.

The many emotions of YA lit
The many emotions of YA lit

Everyone has their favorite couple from a YA- Hazel and Augustus, Anna and Étienne, Tris and Tobias, Sophie and Archer, Hermione and Ron, Samantha and Jase, Willem and Allyson, Eleanor and Park. Everyone also has their favorite love triangle – Katniss/Peeta/Gale, Bella/Edward/Jacob, America/Maxon/Aspen, Clara/Tucker/Christian, Juliette/Adam/Warner (Why does it seem like all the love triangles are two boys and a girl, anyway?).

These are the stories that leave us either sobbing at the end or just closing the book and letting out the biggest smile. These stories make us fall in love and just feel happy from head to toe. They take us on a crazy adventure from start from finish, leaving us rapidly turning the pages, thirsty for more.

Now I’ll quickly take you through some of my favorite teen romances in young adult lit and describe the story, the feels, and the love. Continue reading Teen Romance in YA Lit

Gothic, Horror, and Mysteries: YA Fiction for Fans of Edgar Allan Poe

It’s the time of year where readers start asking for creepy and the supernatural, and teens flock to stories of gothic horror and murder mysteries. There’s no shortage of young adult fiction in these genres and there’s even quite the list of Poe-inspired works. This is a list to satisfy those with an appetite for the macabre or mysterious!

young adult fiction for fans of edgar allan poe | YALSA's The Hub

Continue reading Gothic, Horror, and Mysteries: YA Fiction for Fans of Edgar Allan Poe

Librarians Love: Contemporary Romance Beyond Best Sellers

by Flickr user Leland Francisco
by Flickr user Leland Francisco

YALSA-bk is a listserv with lively discussions among librarians, educators, and beyond about all things YA lit. Sometimes one listserv member will ask for help finding books around a certain theme or readalikes for a particular title. This post is a compilation of responses for one such request.

The original request
One of my book clubs is looking for a good romance to read but I can’t give them “the usual suspects” (aka John Green, Huntley Fitzpatrick, Rainbow Rowell) because they’ve read all of those highly publicized ones. I’m looking for one that is off the radar, preferably paperback, that will sweep them off their feet and isn’t too brazenly in-your-face with the language and physical stuff (aka Jamie McGuire, Simone Elkeles, Katie McGarry.)

Continue reading Librarians Love: Contemporary Romance Beyond Best Sellers

Summer Lovin’ : Recent YA Books To Satisfy Your Inner Romantic

Image: "Untitled" by talitafreak, used under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Image: “Untitled” by talitafreak, used under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

For many, summer will always be associated with vacation–and vacation reading habits.  And just as we each have an ideal vacation, so too do we have personal definitions of vacation reading. As a generally omnivorous reader, I’ll fill my suitcase and e-reader with anything from favorite mystery series to thrilling high fantasy novels.

However, even I must admit that there is something about love stories that makes them particularly well suited for vacation reading.  It might be inherent optimism in love stories–even those lacking a tidy, happy ending.  They revolve around the belief that human connection is meaningful, fragile, and precious; what could be a more encouraging? Happily, the last few months have produced several rich and varied titles perfect for readers seeking a good love story to dive into this summer.

everything leads to youEverything Leads To You – Nina LaCour

When her older brother offers her his apartment for the summer, ambitious young set designer Emi can hardly believe her luck; it’s the perfect place for Emi & her best friend Charlotte to spend their final pre-college summer together.  But Toby hands over the keys with one condition: they must do something epic in their temporary home.  Then Emi discovers a mysterious letter at an estate sale and the resulting scavenger hunt leads her to Ava.  Ava is different from anyone Emi has ever met and their immediate connection is undeniable and electric.  But life-long romantic Emi hasn’t had the best luck in love and Ava has a painful history of her own. Can Emi & Ava find the way to their own Hollywood happy ending? Will Emi’s fulfill her brother’s challenge by falling in love–or tumbling into heartbreak? (LaCour was named a 2010 Morris Award Finalist for her debut novel, Hold Still.)

Tgeography of you and mehe Geography of Us – Jennifer E. Smith 

In this next story of unusual meetings and communication mishaps, solitary bookworm & native New Yorker Lucy and grief-stricken, recent city transplant Owen find their lives unexpectedly colliding when a city-wide blackout strands them in the elevator of their apartment building.  Following their rescue, Lucy & Owen explore the powerless city’s strange wonderland together.  But when the power returns, their very separate realities come rushing back, tugging them apart.  Lucy’s globe-trotting parents move her to Edinburgh just as Owen and his father decide to hit the road, searching for a new life in the wake of his mother’s death.  But Lucy & Owen can’t shake their connection and through postcards, emails, text messages, & attempted reunions, the two teens navigate life, love, and the true meaning of home. Continue reading Summer Lovin’ : Recent YA Books To Satisfy Your Inner Romantic

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

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

tearcollectorswoongeneration deadmonstrous beautyEveAdamUnderNeverSky

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

Is This Just Fantasy?: Fantastic Adult Fiction For The Voracious YA Fantasy Fan

Just Fantasy crossover 1.jpgI love sharing, discussing, and contemplating fantasy fiction–especially with fellow fans and readers. Happily, opportunities for such conversations happen on an almost daily basis for me.  Many of the most voracious readers among my students are fantasy fans; even as their tastes expand, these readers return again and again to this genre.  So where’s an ardent fantasy reader to turn when she exhausts her local library’s supply of young adult fantasy? One solution is to expand the search area–into the  world of adult fantasy fiction.

ocean at the end of the laneFor some, the easiest entry into a new area of fiction is through an author. For example, Neil Gaiman writes highly imaginative fiction imbued with dark beauty and twisted humor; his adult fiction is highly popular with teens at my library. Fans of unusual fairytale retellings might start with delightful Stardust (2000 Alex Award) while urban and offbeat high fantasy readers should investigate American Gods or Neverwhere.   And frankly, all fantasy readers should read his most recent release, the enchanting The Ocean At The End of The Lane.   Continue reading Is This Just Fantasy?: Fantastic Adult Fiction For The Voracious YA Fantasy Fan

Where is the Love?: A Sci-Fi Valentine’s Day Special

Photo by Flickr user puuikibeach

Science fiction doesn’t normally conjure images of passionate embraces or longing looks.  It’s more often associated with deep space adventures or hypothetical quandaries.  Of course, there’s the famous sci-fi couples of TV and moviedom–Han Solo and Leia, Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor, Adama and Roslin, Captain Kirk and half the universe–but epic love stories in sci-fi novels are fewer and farther between.  Perhaps this is because we can project how societies, relationships, families, and sexuality might evolve, but it’s hard to imagine a different way to love.  As a hardcore sci-fi nerd with a secret penchant for rom-coms, I thought I’d compile a list of some of the best and most recent sci-fi books that explore the enduring power of love.  More specifically, books where romance is at the beating heart of the story and not a sidelined note on the periphery.

I’ll start with one of my personal favorites from last year, Will McIntosh’s Love Minus Eighty (RUSA’s Best Science Fiction Pick of 2013).  Set in the 22nd century, the book explores in vivid and believable detail, the vagaries of fate, the long dark days of heartbreak, and the compromises and conditions of love. Love Minus Eighty follows multiple relationships but the heart of the novel is the improbable yet utterly delightful love affair between an impoverished musician, Rob, and the woman he accidentally killed.  Her death is not final as she’s placed into a cryogenic dating facility and becomes a “bridesicle” waiting for a wealthy man to rescue her. Rob’s decision to stop at nothing to be with her provides not only a multitude of entertaining plot twists but also a passionate love affair to rival any romance book. Continue reading Where is the Love?: A Sci-Fi Valentine’s Day Special

Is This Just Fantasy?: Valentine’s Day Special

Just Fantasy Valentines 2014Valentine’s Day is almost upon us and as heart-shaped cookies, chocolates, and balloons fill shop windows, I must acknowledge that the romance is in air–and on the bookshelves.    And it seems only appropriate to celebrate the holiday by exploring some of my favorite love stories: the romances featured in young adult fantasy fiction, of course.

While particular subgenres of speculative fiction such as supernatural romance and even dystopian or futuristic romance have enjoyed a particular upsurge in popularity over the past few years, I must make a case for the delightful variety, rich character-driven stories, and, yes, swoon-inducing moments available in high fantasy fiction.  Whether you like your romance to be a classic case of initial dislike and misunderstanding turned to love or platonic partnership grown into something more, there’s a something for you!  So here are a few of my favorite high fantasy novels and series featuring that unique magic: romance.

gracelingGraceling – Kristin Cashore (2009 YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, 2009 William C. Morris Award finalist)  Since discovering her Grace (or superhuman ability) for fighting and killing as a child, Katsa has lived as her royal uncle’s unenthusiastic thug.  But with the help of her tentative new ally Prince Po, Katsa sets out on an epic journey to face frightening secrets–about her abilities, her undecided future, and the dark violence spreading through the kingdoms.

 

Kristin Cashore is a fairly recent but incredibly popular addition to many lists of favorite fantasy writers.  Her debut Graceling features not only an action-packed plot and fantastically complex heroine–it also possesses a wonderful romance.  The developing relationship between Katsa and Po highlights their complementary personalities and explores the complexities of romance for a woman who has worked hard to earn her independence.  Continue reading Is This Just Fantasy?: Valentine’s Day Special