Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Finds - October 24, 2014

This Week at TLT

Sunday Reflections: Why I'm a GLBTQ Ally

Middle Grade Monday - Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Yes we do, in fact, need negative book reviews

What's new in GLTBQ this fall

Thinking About Male Sexual Violence and Althea and Oliver by Cristina Moracho (The #SVYALit Project)

First Kiss: More Lego Movie Fun (More on my journey in learning how to make GIFs)

Take 5: Karen's TBR Pile (I'll Show You Mine if You'll Show Me Yours)

No Not the One in Sentences, Talking About a Different Kind of Period in YA Lit

Book Review: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Steifvater

Friday Finds: The #SVYALit Project Edition - More on how we fail the male victims of sexual violence

Around the Web 

This week in authors being smart on the internet:

Hope for the future?

Teen Issues: Teen Pregnancy, Teen Moms and Breastfeeding

Yesterday I talked some about periods in YA lit, in part because I had recently read 2 really amazing books that boldly mentioned periods. Also in part because it's a topic we recently have been dealing with personally in my house because I'm a mom to two girls. The convergence of these two events, my lit life intersecting with my real life, got me thinking about a wide variety of topics. In fact, as a mom to girls, I spend a lot of time thinking about these issues and there is no shortage of interesting discussions to be had.

But as I was writing the post yesterday it brought to mind another conversation I have had with The Leaky Boob's Jessica Martin-Weber. I know Jessica from our shared experiences with HG and it turns out that we are both very invested in talking about our culture and the way that it deals with girl's bodies. Dress codes, menstruation, and sexual abuse are all things we talk about. It seems you can't visit any news site at the moment and not find a conversation, for example, about another dress code challenge occurring and what these challenges say about our cultural feeling regarding girls and their bodies (and what it says about how we regard boys as well). And for Jessica, another one of those important issues is breastfeeding, and yes it too is related to the ways in which we talk about the female body.

I started thinking about teens and breastfeeding largely because of my relationship with Jessica. Her goal is to help normalize breastfeeding so that mother's who chose to can breastfeed their babies with the support that they need. And our conversation about teens and breastfeeding began years ago with the Mtv show Sixteen and Pregnant.

I remember watching an episode of the show where the mother went out to buy a can of formula and her and the teen father of her child were talking about how expensive it is. I wondered, how come no one is talking to them about the possibility of breastfeeding. And I was not asking this in a judgmental way, I actually breastfed exactly zero of my children for reasons. I was asking because it seemed to me that someone in the hospital ought to at least mention the possibility and the various benefits, including the fact that it would be cheaper for these financially struggling teens. Now it is entirely possible that the hospital did at some point talk to them about their infant feeding options and they just didn't show that part on television, but I would argue that if this did happen and they didn't show it well, that might just be part of the problem.

Friday Finds: The #SVYALit Project Edition - More on how we fail the male victims of sexual violence

Earlier this week, librarian and blogger Angie Manfredi brought Rob Bittner's review of Althea & Oliver to my attention. I want to make sure that everyone reads his review here. I was so excited to see this review because author Brandy Colbert and I had been having some of these same discussions behind the scenes. Rob raised some of my concerns, which I talk about here. This discussion is also very timely as many people seem to be talking about the various ways in which we fail the male victims of sexual violence in the news.

Part of that conversation is how we often fail to call sexual violence against male victims what it is - rape. Role Reboot also dives into this topic of conversation in a post entitled Creating Outrage: Three Factors That Predict The Public Response To Male Sexual Assault Victims. As Rob mentions in his post above, we often fail male victims of sexual violence because of the many dangerous beliefs we hold about men and sex, including the belief that all men want to have sex all the time and that their body being able to respond physically implies consent . This article takes a pretty good look at some recent examples in the press and breaks the issues down.

In other news, another school has suspended their football program as they investigate reports of hazing, some of which definitely falls into the sexual violence territory. Hazing is unfortunately in the spotlight at the moment due to several incidences at high schools across the country. Author Eric Devine shared with me this discussion piece that reminds us all that sometimes acts that are considered hazing should more appropriately be labelled sexual violence: "What allegedly happened isn't just hazing, it's rape," says Mel Robbins at CNN. This too is an example of how we fail to properly identify male sexual violence.

These are important conversations for us to be having because far too often male victims of sexual violence are overlooked in conversations about sexual violence. The truth is, anyone and everyone can be a victim of sexual abuse regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation or ethnicity - and all victims matter.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Book Review: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Steifvater

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Steifvater is, in my humble opinion, one of the most excellently written book series of all time. There is something about the flow of the language that enchants me as a reader. And I think her characterizations are remarkably authentic and moving. When I first read The Raven Boys, I was simply astounded by the high quality of the writing and the way I was pulled so fully and emotionally into this world. To me, it was like some magic had enchanted her pen as she wrote.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue is the 3rd book in what I believe will be a 4 book cycle. It's so hard to talk about it because I don't want to spoil people who may be new to the series about what comes in the books before. Because those things that come in the books before are moments that can wow you with shock and awe. So how do I talk about a book so far into a series and not reveal to much information to ruin the reading experience for new readers? Let me say this.

No Not the One in Sentences, Talking About a Different Kind of Period in YA Lit

Like my women my age, I learned about my period from Judy Blume.

I distinctly remember all my friends passing around copies of Are You There God? It's Me Margaret They would say things like, "I can't wait to start my period," which honestly always confused me. Did they read it right, I would wonder. Do they understand what they say is going to happen? I kept reading it again and again and again to make sure I understood what they were so excited to start. And because life is nothing if not a cruel, ironic kick in the pants, I was of course the first among all my friends to get my period. The girl who wants it least gets it first.

In the 21 years that I have been reading YA fiction in my job as a YA librarian, it turns out that the female period isn't mentioned all that often. The girls in books don't even often joke about it or commiserate about it to one another, as we do in real life. It often feels like it is this taboo subject, just another instance of us shaming ourselves culturally for very normal biological functions. Although current research suggests that 1 out of 4 girls now gets their period as young as the age of 9, it appears that in ya literature we have a different medical crisis happening where girls aren't getting their periods at all. At least, that's what the silence on the topic in ya lit might suggest.

I began thinking about this in earnest a few years ago when I read the book Lost Girls by Ann Kelly. Here, a group of girls gets stranded on an island and the author makes mention of the fact that they have become so starved for food that they have stopped menstruating. It was like the author was thinking, I know you are wondering how they are handling their period but I want you to know that I have thought of that and have written in this convenient plot device so you don't have to wonder. But the thing is, I wasn't wondering. I had become so used to the girls in ya not even mentioning their periods that it didn't even really occur to me to wonder. Zombie apocalypses, bleak dystopian futures - what are these people doing about their periods?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Take 5: Karen's TBR Pile (I'll Show You Mine if You'll Show Me Yours)

We have come to the point in my year when I have fallen behind in reading the books in my TBR pile. This seems to be a yearly event, maybe I should celebrate with balloons and cake. Please tell me I'm not the only one behind on my reading . . . Anyhow, I thought I would share with you 5 of the titles that I'm reading now or very, very soon. I'll show you my TBR pile if you'll show me yours. Ready? Go.

Who R U Really? by Margo Kelly

Publisher's Description:

Thea's overprotective parents are driving her insane. They invade her privacy, ask too many questions, and restrict her online time so severely that Thea feels she has no life at all. When she discovers a new role-playing game online, Thea breaks the rules by staying up late to play. She's living a double life: on one hand, the obedient daughter; on the other, a girl slipping deeper into darkness. In the world of the game, Thea falls under the spell of Kit, an older boy whose smarts and savvy can't defeat his loneliness and near-suicidal despair. As Kit draws soft-hearted Thea into his drama, she creates a full plate of cover stories for her parents and then even her friends.

Soon, Thea is all alone in the dark world with Kit, who worries her more and more, but also seems to be the only person who really "gets" her. Is he frightening, the way he seems sometimes, or only terribly sad? Should Thea fear Kit, or pity him? And now, Kit wants to come out of the screen and bring Thea into his real-life world. As much as she suspects that this is wrong, Thea is powerless to resist Kit's allure, and hurtles toward the same dark fate her parents feared most. Ripped from a true-life story of Internet stalking, Who R U Really? will excite you and scare you, as Thea's life spins out of control.

Karen's Thoughts: The idea of online safety and Internet stalking is certainly a timely issue. Stalking as a whole seems to be having a moment of cultural relevance, whether it be the new TV show Stalker or Shia LaBeouf's recent admission that he engaged in some "light stalking" of Alec Baldwin. Maroon 5 was recently called out by RAINN for its video of the new single Animal, which RAINN suggests romanticizes stalking. And of course this week the news of Kathleen Hale's admission she stalked a reviewer that she had some online interactions with has been all over the place. At the same time, there is no escaping the news of GamerGate and the incredible ramifications it has for the online community. So it seems Who R U Really? is a very timely read. For the record, stalking is always wrong and Internet safety is an important issue we need to keep engaging our teens in conversation about.

Made for You by Melissa Marr

First Kiss: More Lego Movie Fun (More on my journey in learning how to make GIFs)

Previously, I shared with you how my Teens and I decided to explore the world of GIFmaking by using the Legos in my library's MakerSpace. This week, I totally had something totally new and fun prepared for my teens, but a group came in very excited about the prospects of making more "movies". They had apparently been thinking and talking about it, planning what today's movie might look like. One of my favorite movies created today they titled FIRST KISS:

They were working hard behind the scenes trying to figure out how they could make a crash scene but show the steps of the crash more in process. They experimented with things like using a hidden Lego to prop up a car to show it in the process of turning over, step by step. It was fascinating to watch them try and figure out a way to make this happen. We'll have to keep working on it, but it's a fun challenge to try and solve.

Here's how making our .GIF Lego movies works. You have to storyboard your scene, at least conceptually. What do you want to see happen in the movie? What elements do you need to create to make it work? Then you fill in the details.

After you build all the pieces, you then have to take step by step single photos. You set up your first shot, then click the photo. Make a slight adjustment - move a car forward, move a person forward - then click the photo. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Movements have to be small to make it look like it's happening. And you have to keep the frame set in the exact same place for it to work well. I might even invest in a tripod of some sorts (do they have something like that for the iPhone?) to help keep the camera stable and the frame perfectly set.

After taking my series of photos, I used the Giffer app to upload the pictures, frame it, adjust the speed, etc. You can read my previous review here. In a much earlier post I listed a wide variety of ways to make GIFs, and if they continue to want to make GIFs I might try comparing different ways by using some new tools:

Article on 9 Free GIF Maker Apps at About Technology
Make an animated GIF in Photoshop Gickr Picasion GifBoom (app!) Cinemagram (also an app!) Gizmodo: How to Make a GIF in 5 Easy Steps Free Online GIFmaker Make a GIF Mashable: Make Reaction GIFs with These 7 Tools Mashable: How to Make GIFs 8 Free GIF Maker Apps
GIF are so popular there are even artists out there specializing in GIFs, and they are amazing:
YPulse: 3 Rising Artists of the Digital Age.

The FIRST KISS "Lego Movie" was made with the teens at the Betty Warmack Branch Library in Grand Prairie, Texas. I'm learning how to create GIFs right along with my teens, it's pretty cool actually.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Thinking About Male Sexual Violence and Althea and Oliver by Cristina Moracho (The #SVYALit Project)

Karen's Short Thoughts: An amazing, complicated and at times flawed look at the relationship between two childhood friends.

Publisher's Description:
What if you live for the moment when life goes off the rails—and then one day there’s no one left to help you get it back on track?

Althea Carter and Oliver McKinley have been best friends since they were six; she’s the fist-fighting instigator to his peacemaker, the artist whose vision balances his scientific bent. Now, as their junior year of high school comes to a close, Althea has begun to want something more than just best-friendship. Oliver, for his part, simply wants life to go back to normal, but when he wakes up one morning with no memory of the past three weeks, he can’t deny any longer that something is seriously wrong with him. And then Althea makes the worst bad decision ever, and her relationship with Oliver is shattered. He leaves town for a clinical study in New York, resolving to repair whatever is broken in his brain, while she gets into her battered Camry and drives up the coast after him, determined to make up for what she’s done.

Their journey will take them from the rooftops, keg parties, and all-ages shows of their North Carolina hometown to the pool halls, punk houses, and hospitals of New York City before they once more stand together and face their chances. Set in the DIY, mix tape, and zine culture of the mid-1990s, Cristina Moracho’s whip-smart debut is an achingly real story about identity, illness, and love—and why bad decisions sometimes feel so good.

Karen's Longer Thoughts:

As I said, this is an amazing and rich book with very complicated characters.

Althea and Oliver both come from single parents home, Althea lives with her father the professor and she has a very strained relationship with her mother who took off. Oliver lives with his mother, his father died some time ago.

Oliver suddenly develops a rare condition in which he will unexpectedly fall asleep for days, weeks and sometimes even months at a time. Kleine-Levin Syndrome is a very real disease, though I had not heard of it until reading this book. While Oliver struggles with what this syndrome means to him - he loses whole chunks of his life - the syndrome also puts a real strain on their friendship.

Althea is also very lost, in part because she very much wants her relationship with Oliver to be something more, but Oliver does not return those feelings. He is, in fact, very clear about this. So when Oliver starts checking out for long periods at a time, Althea is forced to find an identity for herself apart from Oliver. It gets messy. Also, please note, some very real spoilers occur from this point on.

And this is where things get complicated. Althea really begins to spiral and is at times a very unlikable person. But worse yet, she does something horrific at one point when Oliver is in the midst of one of his long sleeps. You see, Oliver will some times "wake up" for a brief period, though he is most definitely not himself during this brief moment of awakeness. This fact is established in a previous scene where Oliver wakes up and goes on a hostile eating binge at Waffle House, only to crash back into the deep, unwakeable slumber on the way back home. In another instance, an episode that I think can only be called rape happens, as Rob Bittner at Sense and Sensibility and Stories points out:

What's new in GLTBQ this fall

by Amanda MacGregor

Every other month I’ll be doing a roundup of new and forthcoming GLTBQ YA books (and sometimes some non-YA books). I’ll try to include as many titles as possible. Know of a title I missed in this list? Or know of a forthcoming title that should be on my radar for an upcoming list? Leave a comment or tweet me @CiteSomething. This list covers September, October, and some November 2014 titles. All annotations here are via WorldCat or the publishers.


The Boy I Love by Nina de Gramont (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, September 2): Fifteen year old Wren has fallen in love with the most sought after boy in school, but his secret will both bring them together, and keep them apart.

First Time for Everything anthology edited by Anne Regan (Harmony Ink Press/Dreamspinner, September 4): There’s nothing like the first time. Whether it’s a first crush, first date, first kiss, or finding tolerance and approval for the first time, for gay, lesbian, bi, and trans teens—or those still exploring and discovering their sexuality and identity—these important firsts can shape the rest of their lives.

No One Needs to Know by Amanda Grace (Flux/ Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd., September 8): Told from separate viewpoints, two seniors at an elite girls school grow close as they work together on a project and Zoey, a scholarship student, begins dating wealthy, troubled Olivia's twin brother Liam, but romance blossoms between the girls, threatening both of their relationships with Liam.

God Loves Hair by Vivek Shraya, illustrated by Juliana Neufeld (Arsenal Pulp Press, Limited, September 9): Vivek Shraya's first book is a collection of twenty-one short stories following a tender, intellectual, and curious child as he navigates the complex realms of sexuality, gender, racial politics, religion, and belonging.

This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids: A Question and Answer Guide to Everyday Life by Dannielle Owens-Reid and Kristin Russo (Chronicle Books LLC, September 9): Written in an accessible Q&A format, here, finally, is the go-to resource for parents hoping to understand and communicate with their gay child. Through their LGBTQ-oriented site, the authors are uniquely experienced to answer parents' many questions and share insight and guidance on both emotional and practical topics. Filled with real-life experiences from gay kids and parents, this is the book gay kids want their parents to read.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Yes we do, in fact, need negative book reviews

This weekend my Twitter feed was overflowing with discussion about an article that Kathleen Hale wrote in the Guardian this weekend (Do Not Link provided). And while I won't talk here about the particulars of the article, because many have already discussed it eloquently and thoroughly, I want to discuss one trend I saw repeated over and over again in my timeline in response to this article: PEOPLE SHOULDN'T WRITE NEGATIVE REVIEWS.

That, apparently for some, was the take away. Don't write negative reviews. This is a dangerous speech suppressing idea and it concerns me greatly. The truth is, we need to be having thoughtful, critical and yes, sometimes negative, discussions about books.

Sometimes books contains negative and harmful gender stereotypes, racial stereotypes, and sexual stereotypes. Sometimes books are misogynistic, participate in slut shaming, or suggest that rape is something other than rape. There are a number of ways that a book may have some type of issue that we should in fact be discussing.

Take, for example, Kathleen Hale's book itself and one of her issues issue with the review in question. The reviewer said she didn't like that the book had a problematic rape element yet Kathleen Hale maintains that there is no rape in the book, thus this reviewer must not have even read the book correctly Hale criticizes. Yet there is a teenage character who is revealed to have a sexual relationship with an adult man. This is rape. It is, more specifically a type of rape known as statutory rape. Almost all states have a law which states the legal age of sexual consent is often 16, though sometimes as high as 18. And a great many of these laws further stipulate that the adult that the teen is in a relationship with can not be more than 3 or 4 years older than the teen. The laws vary by state, but by almost all state laws the relationship presented in Hale's book would legally be considered rape.