Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Harry Potter + The Fault in Our Stars = A fantastic Why YA? post by Leah Miller

As part of our ongoing Why YA? series, Leah Miller, author of The Summer I Became a Nerd, shares two titles that moved her and why everyone should read them.

Harry Potter is, as we all know, a beautifully written story. It will be with me for the rest of my life (not to mention my kids’ lives, if I have anything to say about it). Sometimes, I’m not sure how I ever lived without it. I know that might sound a bit dramatic, but it’s the truth. Rowling wove a story for us that could never be equaled. All sorts of topics are touched upon in the series; prejudice, love, hate, loyalty, and relationships between friends, family, and enemies, among tons of others. The way her brain works is spelled out on the page in plots, sub-plots, and even ghost plots (all my Pottermore people say, “Holla’!”). I doubt I’ll ever be as in love with a story as I am with Harry Potter and his many adventures.

Rowling’s writing is, well, it’s what I aspire to write. Her turns of phrases to suit the situation,  her characters who rip your heart out and lay them on a silver platter, the twists and turns, the gasps you make after just one sentence.
Harry Potter is one of those series I acknowledge as the reason I started writing in the first place. In my opinion, anything that makes one aspire to be better, to follow one’s dreams, is valid. Also, the fact that she has interwoven so much of herself into the books is wonderful. Who would Hermione be without Rowling’s own know-it-all spirit? As a writer, I pull from my own experiences and ideas about the world. I can only hope that one day I’ll be able to do it as subtly and ingeniously as Rowling.

Harry Potter also holds a place in my heart due a special connection with someone very important to me that was made because of it. I talked my father into reading the Harry Potter series back in 2001. I always knew he loved me and believed I could do anything, but up until that point, I never really knew he trusted my opinion.

Of course, he loved it. Here was this almost sixty-year-old man asking me for the next book only two days after I gave him the first. We even watched the first movie together in the theater. After Dumbledore said, “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live,” Daddy leaned over to me and whispered, “Remember that, Leah.” At the time, I brushed him off, sort of. “Yeah, Dad, watch the movie.” Unfortunately, he never got to finish the series. He died in 2002 from a stupid disease called pancreatic cancer. Which leads me to another book: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

I don’t know about other people, but that book affected me in a very personal way. It made me analyze how I handled the news about my father. It made me remember what is was like to watch him die when I had only just turned twenty, still practically a teenager. TFIOS forced me to think about a part of my life that I considered a black spot, something I very rarely want to think about. I would hazard a guess and say we all have spots like that. But TFIOS also made me think about life and death, in general. And thinking is a good thing no matter what genre is causing you to do it (noticing a trend here?). I learned a lot about myself while reading that book that I don’t think I could have learned from reading anything else.

The fact that Harry Potter and The Fault in Our Stars are forever connected in my mind might seem a little odd, but that’s the thing about YA. Sometimes it can be heart wrenching. Sometimes it can be fun and make you laugh until you cry. Sometimes it can be both. Sometimes it can be all that and then teach you something about yourself you never knew was there. That’s what Harry Potter and TFIOS were for me. And I like to think Daddy would have felt the same way despite him being an almost sixty-year-old man.
Nothing I could ever say to J.K. Rowling could ever encompass my love for her series, but to John Green I’d like to say, “Thank you, Mr. Green, for giving the world that book.” I’m not as poetic as Mr. Green, so I’ll just say that, for me, The Fault in Our Stars was “heavenly in its hurtfulness”.
P.S. I hope John Green doesn’t take offense that I was able to put my feelings into words for his book, but was unable to do so with Harry Potter, but as Hank Green says, “No matter what I read, I think, ‘This is not Harry Potter.’”

P.P.S. I know at some point in this post I was supposed to say why these books appeal to teens. To that I say, “They appeal to teens because they’re really, really good.”

Mother, wife, and YA author living on a windy hill in Natchitoches, Louisiana. I love fuzzy socks, comic books, cherry coke, and brand new office supplies. THE SUMMER I BECAME A NERD by me coming Summer 2013 from Entangled Teen.  You can visit Leah Miller’s blog, Living the Dream, or follow her on Twitter (@LeahR_Miller).

You can also read our other Why YA? posts and learn how you can write your own here.

Advocacy 101: Be seen, Be heard, Be felt


A person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy.

Also, you, the teen services librarian!

Advocacy is the act of making your library’s presence in the community known, understood and valued.  You want to make sure the community knows what your library is doing in the community and why it matters.  Basic literacy, education support, lifelong learning, helping community members find jobs, and more – every member of your community needs to know.  Publishers talk about “impressions”: each time your cover is seen it makes an impression, their goal is to get enough impressions that their book can’t be ignored.  Your job is to get your library – your teen services programming – enough impressions that it can’t be ignored. As your message is repeated and ingrained in the community culture, your community members themselves become your best advocates.  The question is, how do you do that?

As teen services librarians we find ourselves doing multi-level advocacy: We advocate to our co-workers, our administrations, our communities.  We want support and resources; we want our front line staff to be our voice; we want our administrators to make sure we have the time, space and money we need to effectively serve our teens.  That is why we must advocate.

Phase I: Making your presence known in the community at large and with your admin/staff

Goals: Move your patrons and community members from thinking of it as “the library” to thinking of it as “my library.”  Creating a sense of pride and ownership on the behalf of the community means less advocacy work for you as they now become your greatest advocates.                                

How? Relationship, customer service, social media and presence

Get your name in the press as often as possible.  Contact the local newspaper and ask them if you can write a regularly occurring guest column.  Attend community planning and development groups.  If they don’t exist, start your own (see Mpact: Building an Asset Builder’s Coalition in the November 2011 edition of VOYA Magazine).  Have regularly occurring programming events that keep your library’s name on the tips of patrons tongues.  These events should range in variety and audience but generate buzz. 

Social Media                                                                                                                                            Facebook, Twitter, Pinterestand more – social media is an important tool in today’s culture.  It helps you build relationships with your teens, community members and increases your presence.  Different types of groups use different types of social media differently, and you really need to be using them all.  Twitter works well for brief blasts, fun contests, chats and more.  Pinterest is one of the fastest growing social media tools that have several advantages: 1) it is visual, 2) it is more easily organized and accessed, and 3) it can be used in such a diverse number of ways.  You can use Pinterest to share booklists, staff favorites, programming information and more.  You can also invite your community to create their own additions which helps generate buy in.  (See the Bookfessions Tumblr for a fun way to involve community members).  Share teen created artwork.  And don’t forget to blog! Daily.

Relational Librarianship                                                                                                                                                        
When members of the community feel that they know and are known by their library staff members – at all levels – we enter into a relational partnership.  Some of this can be accomplished through the library’s effective use of social media. Blogs can be your friend.  At my last two library positions I have created staff picks displays (like all good librarians, I borrowed the idea from elsewhere).  Here, staffs picks are continually put out with a staff name and face to go with it.  Over time patrons find the staff members that they have common reading interests with and seek them out for personalized RA services. 

Customer Service                                                                                                                                           
Good businesses know that quality customer service is key.  It helps you build those relationships 1 on 1.  The simple act of calling someone by name can make all the difference.  Continual staff training and communication is key to good customer service.  A satisfied patron is your best advocate.  Create the best library policies to create consistent, quality services and train your staff not only how to implement them, but why.  Key talking points help staff keep messages on point and keep your patrons satisfied.  Why do we have public computer limits? To help make sure that the greatest number of patrons get to use the computers in ways that are satisfying to them all.  Why do we have check-out due dates?  So that the greatest number of patrons can get their hands on the materials they need in a timely matter.

Phase II: Networking with your community leaders
Goals: Build partnerships with your community leaders and maintain relationships that keep your library moving forward and viable.           

How?: Meet and greet, extend an invitation, and social media

The Meet and Greet
Want to know your community leaders and advocate for your library?  Go out there and meet them.  Or invite them to a meeting.  Better yet, do both.  Visit the leaders in your community; drop them off a welcoming gift and your business card.  Make sure you have a tip sheet (might I suggest infographics) that highlight the who, what, where, when and why of your library and teen services programming to leave behind.  Then, invite them all to the library for an open house with tours, highlights and yes, food.  Don’t just seek out your community leaders, seek to be one.  Remember, show your community leaders how you are helping meet the 40 Developmental Assets of teens; more assets means less risky behaviors and all communities agree that is a good goal.

Extend an Invitation        
Find out where your community leaders are active – Rotary Club, Key Club, Community Foundations, etc. – and offer to be a part.  Regularly attend meetings and contribute meaningfully to the dialogue and goals.  If you see, or hear expressed, a need in your community, create an organization to help meet that need and invite others into partnership with the library.  Let your leaders know that the library is available to help provide information research, meeting rooms, or staff to do programming.

Social Media                                                    
Create unique social media pages to dialogue with your community leaders.  You can have a business oriented blog.  Or a teen services blog open to community organizations that serve teens.  Create a community Wiki where organizations are invited to share information such as hours and contact information as well as upcoming calendar dates.  This keeps everyone in dialogue and has the bonus feature of allowing staff members to know where to send patrons for assistance when questions arise.
Part III: Who does this?
On some level, you – the teen services librarian – has primary responsibility.  But every staff member has unique talents and interests and these can be tapped.  Phases I and II are concurrent and ongoing.  Advocacy is a process and your goal it to do it effectively and continually.  One voice in the wilderness is hard to hear, but a chorus of angels can not be ignored. 
Advocacy motto: Be heard, Be seen, Be felt

How do you advocate for teens in your library and in your community? Let us know in the comments.

Jennifer Rummel declares “I Love YA” (with apologies to Randy Newman)

Why read YA?

I read YA because I LOVE it!

There are so many things I love about YA books, but the biggest is the first moments.  Teen years are the biggest moments for firsts – first kiss, first love, and first heartbreak. It’s a time for drama: family, friendships, school, job, and relationships.  It’s a time for finding you’re not alone in the world.  It’s a time where you learn that other people have the same questions, quirks, feelings that you have and it’s normal. It’s a time for discovery and figuring out who you really are.

The YA community is huge! I enjoy hearing about books from other book bloggers. It’s great meeting YA bloggers and YA Librarians and conversing about books.  I’m a huge fan of social networking, talking with authors, librarians, publishers, book bloggers, and readers. I blog about the books I read and enjoy reading other blogs and discovering new books to read or purchase for the library collection.

It’s hard for me to choose a favorite book because of the volume I read each year. While I have a slew of favorite authors whose books I will always read, its great discovering new authors.   For the past four years I’ve started keeping track of the number of books I read. Last year I completed my goal of a book a day, across all age groups.  So far, I’m on track for my reading goal this year.

Reading widely across ages and genres makes me a better librarian. I read pictures books that sound cute or have gotten great reviews, chapter books that appeal to me, cozy mysteries, regency romances, craft books, cookbooks, and tons of teen books. As a teen librarian, teen books make up the majority of books I read.  I help run a 4th and 5th grade book club. There, I’m exposed to books I wouldn’t normally read, but books I end up loving. Sometimes I read for knowledge or the emotional ride, but mostly I read for pleasure.  Reading is fun.

Here are some books that stay with me long after I’ve turned the last page. There are some that haunt me because of their issues. There are some that touch my soul. There are some that amazed me and made me look at the world differently.  Either way they have touched me and I’ll never forget them.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

One of the most important books in the history of YA. It’s about a huge issue, but it’s also about friendship, finding yourself and your voice, and being a social outcast in high school. Years after its publication, girls are still finding it helpful.

Wintergirlz by Laurie Halse Anderson

This book is so haunting I don’t even know how to begin to describe it. It’s about two girls who used to be friends and also have eating disorders. They grew apart and one girl died. The other struggles to survive.

Purge by Sarah Darer Littman

A heart wrenching yet funny take on eating disorders. “It was like they went from being my Band of Barfers, my Sisterhood of Sneaky Eaters, to my Judge and freaking Jury in three minutes flat.” Littman tackles such a huge issue with humor and honesty while letting the raw pain of her characters shine through. It’s really a book everyone should be reading and chatting about. It’s that good.

Just as Long As We’re Together by Judy Blume
I read this book until it fell apart when I was younger.  I loved the friendship drama between Steph, Alison, and Rachel. This was my Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (which is also amazingly good).

13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
I devoured this one. It’s about a girl who creates 13 tapes of the 13 people she blames for her life. The tapes are sent right before she commits suicide. One of the 13 is listening to these tapes. It was so dark and brutally honest. I wanted the outcome of the story to be different, but of course you already know the ending of the book from the beginning.

Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Disaster strikes when a meteor hits the moon, pushing it closer to Earth. Havoc and chaos reign as everything changes.  I’d never read anything like this book. I couldn’t put it down. I wasn’t expecting it to be so emotional. Whenever I hear of a potential disaster strike, I always want to stock up on canned goods now.

Truth about Forever by Sarah Dessen
Macy learns to deal with her father’s death by embracing chaos into her formally perfectly ordered life.  I can’t say enough about this book dealing with grief, letting yourself go, and finding your true identity. I hate the library scenes, but they do also make me chuckle. I found Macy to be brave.

Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
DJ helps a rival high school quarter back with his game while they work on her family farm.  I love how this book defies gender stereotypes in sports books. I found DJ to be strong, caring, and athletic.  I think everyone who likes sports books should read this one!

Sold by Patricia McCormick
A novel in verse, that’s hard to read due to the subject matter: prostitution of young girls. Lakshmi is a survivor and she keeps hope alive, even in the darkest moments.

Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt
The ultimate road trip book featuring four siblings whose mother left them alone. They travel south along the east coast to find family and a place to call home. It’s a heartwrenching book about survival, family, and hope.

My latest favorite YA reads:

Sweet Shadows (comes out in September)

Touch of Power (A/YA crossover)

I know that I will never tire of reading YA books. I love reading them, love talking about them, and love handing them off to my friends, family, and patrons at the library.
Jennifer Rummel: I’m a Teen Librarian who LOVE LOVE LOVES book and my job! I work at Otis Library in Norwich, CT as a YA Librarian. I have been known to squeal when books come into the library that I can’t WAIT to read! I review books for VOYA. Besides reading books and chatting about books, going to bookstores and other libraries, and meeting fabulous authors, I’m pretty  crafty – beading, card making, and some other odd crafts. I adore candy, pizza, my puppy and the Celtics.  Hear Jennifer talk more about ya at her blog, YA Book Nerd.
Read more Why YA? posts and find out how you can share yours with us here!

The ABCs of Hyperemesis Gravidarum, an unconventional picture book

As part of the first ever HG World Awareness Day (May 15, 2012), I am sharing my experience with Hyperemesis Gravidarum in the only way I know how as a librarian – as an ABC picture book.  Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) is a debilitating, life threatening pregnancy illness that can cost a pregnant woman her life.  Although one of the symptoms of HG is nausea and vomiting, this is not morning sickness.  This is a nausea and vomiting so severe that women lose tremendous amounts of weight, their bodies shut down from dehydration, and babies don’t make it.  Over the course of 3 pregnancies I have thrown up more than a 1,000 times, stared death in the face, and lost one precious baby.  This is my tale . . .


After my first pregnancy, which would now be considered mild HG, the announcement that I was pregnant didn’t come with presents and balloons.  It came with terror and fear.  It came with prayers and pleading.  Every day I lay there wondering if today would be my last day.  Sometimes I begged for it to be.  I have stood at the edge of a cliff and stared death in the face.  My toes hung over the edge.  Death came barrelling towards me like a train on the tracks, its single headlight cascading its circular light on my chest as I stood there paralyzed in fear.  For me, the announcement that I was pregnant could just as easily have been the announcement that I was dying.


Without the energy to walk, and because movement made the vomiting so much worse, I spent many a night sleeping on the bathroom floor.  It became both my sanctuary and my prison.

Charlotte Bronte

Charlotte Bronte is the author of Jane Eyre, which I love.  It is also believed that she died in her fourth month of her pregnancy from Hyperemesis Gravidarum.  I never thought I would have something in common with an author I love.  I would prefer it be something besides a life threatening pregnancy condition.


There is a long list of things you should not do during pregnancy and I broke one of the biggies: I took drugs.  Lots of them.  Dr. prescribed, life saving drugs.  I took the drugs that they give cancer patients to help fight nausea when they are undergoing chemo.  I tried a variety of drugs and then a variety of combination of drugs.  At their best, they simply knocked the edge off.  Often they failed entirely.


With HG, you will vomit so much the acid will erode your esophagus.  Every drop that comes back up burns all the more greatly as it comes back through your ravaged esophagus.  The doctor will look down your throat and see places where the skin has been burned away.  Your esophagus, like many parts of your body, will never be the same after HG.  Pregnancy only lasts 9 months, but HG damages you forever. 


Your kidneys start to fail.  Your liver starts to fail.  Your baby’s heartbeat starts to fail.  And you know that you are a failure.  Your body has failed you; it can not do the one thing the world says you were designed to do – make a baby.

Grow Up

I will never forget the day I stood at the top of the stairs and began to pass out. It was the 3rd time this happened in my second pregnancy.  I looked down at the bottom of the stairs to see my amazing 3 year old child and I feared for her. What would happen to her if I was home alone with her when I died? Would she get out of the house? Would she be safe? Would she be scared? I began to try and teach her to dial 911 at the age of 3.  I wondered who she would grow up to be without a mother. 


In our lives we will say to ourselves many times, “I am starving.”  But I have truly starved.  I have vomited until there was nothing left to vomit but blood and bile and I have truly known what it means to be hungry.  I have been so hungry that my body began to do the only thing it could to survive – eat itself.

IV Hydration

You become so dehydrated your lips crack, your skin cracks, and you thirst in ways you never knew you could thirst.  In my third and final pregnancy, IVs were the only thing that kept me and my baby alive.  My husband set his alarm to get up in the middle of the night to change my IV bags.  I unhooked myself to go to work and then came home, parched and weary in both body and soul, to hook myself back up again.  IVs delivered the sweet nectar I needed to survive. 

Just . . .

Just eat crackers.  Just drink ginger ale.  Just wear sea bands.  Just suck on a pregnancy pop.  Just shut up already! Just love and support me.  Just trust me, I am doing everything I can.  HG is a medical condition with serious health ramifications for both the mother and child.  Each patient is different and responds to treatments differently.  If you are lucky, you find a drug combination and hydration routine that works for you and keep it at bay . . . but just barely.


Ketoacidosis is a build of Ketones caused when your body chemistry goes wonky because you have HG.  It has big fancy medical definitions that I don’t really understand.  I just know that it means that your body is shutting down.  I know because it was happening to me.  There are a lot of things that I don’t understand in my medical records – “significant anion gap”, numbers, abbreviations.  It was all just medical jargon for a truth that could not be escaped – my body was shutting down.  It could not support both of us so it was choosing to support neither of us. 


You are trying to make a life, but it is taking yours.  Not figuratively, literally.  It is a race to the end to see who, if anyone, will make it through your pregnancy.  In the end, if you survive, you will never take life for granted again.  But in the process, you lose your life.  Your friends, your family . . . you will spend your life in a place of such stark aloneness that you could never imagine.


I have been pregnant 3 times, but I have 2 living children.  HG has taught me that if you endure a hell on Earth, you get to have a baby – maybe.  There are higher incidences of second and third trimester loss in an HG pregnancy.  Once you get past the first trimester they say you are usually safe, but those odds change once you introduce Hyperemesis into the picture.  With my third child, the force of my vomiting was so severe that my placenta began to detach. At 19 weeks I went in to the ER on a Friday night and they told me they were sorry, my baby wasn’t going to make it through the weekend because my placenta was completely detached.  They were wrong, but the fact that she is here is a miracle.


Nobody understand HG unless they have lived through it.  My husband, my daughter, my friends – they have seen it, but they will never understand it.  Like any other life changing event, only those who have stood in your shoes can truly understand what it is like.

On the Line, Off the Line

At one point my doctor asked the home healthcare nurse to remove my IV line.  She came to my home, took one look at me and called him, “she won’t make it if you remove the line.”  Finally, in resignation, the doctor got on the phone with me and with a heavy sigh he said, “this is going to be a long, painful pregnancy.”  He had no idea.  By taking away my iv, he would be taking away my life line. 


Noun. 1. An organism that lives in or on another organism (its host) and benefits by deriving nutrients at the host’s expense.  It is a struggle every day with HG to remember that there is a baby inside of you trying to live.  Not just any baby, but YOUR baby.  This is the one thing you must keep reminding yourself.  In my 3rd pregnancy, I bought a baby blanket and laid with it every day to help remind me that I was fighting for the life of my baby, not simply feeding a parasite.  Many days it was too easy to forget. I had learned a horrible truth: Even in the 21st century, woman can still die from pregnancy.


Every time I see a pregnant woman walking around the mall, I am flabbergasted: She can walk?  She looks so . . . healthy?  When people tell me they are pregnant I don’t think congratulations.  No, I think, I hope you don’t die.  There are so many questions that come with HG: Why me? Will it be like this every time? Does it happen to everyone?  Am I going to die? Is my baby?  Will it happen again?  And now, as the mother of two little girls, will it happen to them?


With HG, you are racing against time.  It is a 9 month race to a very important finish line – your baby.  But every step you take closer you seem to see the finish line drawing farther away.  It’s an illusion created by the depths of your despair, by the shattering of your undernourished mind, but the finish line seems so very far away . . . and you are sure you will never reach it.


“We waited until you were almost ready to deliver to give you a baby shower.  We weren’t sure you were going to survive the pregnancy.  We thought there was no way the baby would.”  That’s what a co-worker once told me after my first pregnancy.  They had never seen anyone be pregnant like me before. They thought there was no way me or the baby would survive and they put off having a baby shower until the last possible moment.  And yet, that pregnancy was definitely the best out of my 3.


BEATBEATBEATBEATBEATBEATBEAT “Your heart is beating too fast.  It is working too hard to keep you alive”.  At one point I was hospitalized and my resting heart rate was over 200. Yet my blood pressure was down to around 60 over 40.  No one thought I would make it through that night in the hospital.  When that pregnancy ended, without a baby, I spent the next 7 months or so taking medication to help regulate my heartbeat. Beat, beat, beat . . . .  beat


The ultrasound tech quickly reached up and turned off the sound as we heard the faint, slow, uncertain heartbeat of my second child.  Thump, thump . . . . thump.  “That’s doesn’t necessarily mean anything,” she fearfully whispered.  But we both knew it did.  Three weeks later, 3 hospital stays later, we would learn that my body, which was barely keeping me alive, had failed to keep my baby alive.  10 weeks, 4 ER visits, multiple IVs and all we got to bring home from the hospital was an empty uterus and a broken heart.


In the midst of my second pregnancy, by far my worst, I vomited sometimes more than 30 or 40 times a day.  I vomited so much there was nothing left to vomit except bile and blood.  There ought to be a law, once you have survived HG you never have to throw up again.  Except I find that now I am more prone to it.  My stomach will never be the same. HG changes you forever – physically, emotionally and spiritually. It rocks you to the core.


With parched lips and sagging skin you stare at the glass of water in your hand.  You want more than anything to drink it but you know it will not stay down.  It sits there, taunting you.  Like Alice down the rabbit hole a glass of water sits there with a note saying “drink me”; but, even though you know you must, you can not.  And when you do, oh . . . the cycle starts all over again.

X Marks the Spot

There is a before and an after.  There is who you were before HG; before you stared death in the face and learned what it means to lose a child.  The you before who faced the world head on.  And then there is the after. The you that stood at the edge of that cliff.  The you that has seen a darkness so dark you worried there would never be a ray of light again in your world.  The you that knows that women still die in pregnancy and that far too often, no baby comes.  X marks the spot where you change – where HG changes you forever.


As your liver begins to fail, your skin turns yellow.  Yellow looks good on mustard, but not so much on the face of a pregnant woman.  Jaundice is what it is called.  It doesn’t matter what name they give it, all you will remember is the yellow pallor of your skin and that slow, stark realization that your body is failing.


Hyperemesis Gravidarum.  The term sits there, heavy but unspoken, in my medical records from my first pregnancy.  They were whispered lightly in my second pregnancy; a pamphlet sent in the mail from the hospital after a night spent being rehydrated, mutterings under the breath of a doctor in the ER.  Finally, in my third pregnancy, a doctor stood up and spoke them loudly and clearly.  With that knowledge came the realization that I could have had help.  It could have gone so differently for me if I only had known what questions to ask.  So today, I stand here with a zealous desire to shout at the top of my lungs: Hyperemesis Gravidarum! Know what it is and what it looks like. Sharing the truth of it may just help someone else.  I want my suffering to have meaning, my baby’s lost life to touch a heart besides my own, so I say it with zeal: Hyperemsis Gravidarum is real. Know the signs. Get help.

For more information and support, contact the Hyperemesis Education and Research Foundation (HER) at http://www.helpher.org/.  They have a wide variety of information to help pregnant women and their families understand what is happening, what questions to help, find doctors, and more.  Current research indicates that because I have had HG, my two daughters are also likely to have HG. You can help fund research, participate in research yourself and help spread the word so that my daughters – so that all daughters – can have the medical help they need in the future should they find themselves suffering from HG in their pregnancies. HG World Awareness Day: May 15, 2013. Please share this information with everyone. Thank you.

Book Review: The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry

There are tales that in the outlying region of Scree there live a brand of people known as Peculiars.  These peculiars have many bizarre physical characteristics which make them unacceptable to modern society.  They have been shunned and labelled criminals.  And if tales are to be believed, Lena’s father is one of them.  In fact, Lena has some traits of her own that suggest she may be as well.

On her 18th birthday Lena receives a letter and some money and decides that she will travel to the land of Scree to find answers for herself.  She leaves the only home she has ever known and boards a train that will lead her on more adventures than she has ever known.  In her adventures she meets Jimson, a mysterious marshal who may know – and hate – her father, the flamboyant Mr. Beasley and his crazy concoctions.  And she meets many people with secrets like her own.

After a train robbery leaves her with little funds, Lena spends time in the care of Mr. Beasley, having been asked to spy on him by the marshal and learns that the people around her are often not whom they see.  Her spying puts events into motion that causes many, including Lena, to flee in an amazing flying contraption to the land of Scree where the real adventure begins.

The Peculiars should be an adventurous addition to the steampunk genre, but there is little steam and the adventure stalls when Lena ends up in a town outside the forbidden lands trying to find a guide.  Part of the problem is that it is clear to the reader what is going on in around Lena, even when she is not.  There is a certain amount of naivete that makes sense on Lena’s part; she has, after all, spent a great deal of her life hiding as much as possible because of those ailments that may make her peculiar.  But at the end of the day, the plot trapping knock you over the head with an anvil, even if Lena isn’t seeing the clues.

It is Lena’s naivete that sets that last third of the book in motion and the action finally picks up; but to be honest, before I got to this part I had set the book down and read three other books only to come back to it out of sheer will and determination.  I am not sure that teen readers have that driving principal to finish books that don’t hold their attention.  If they do, readers will actually be rewarded in the last 3rd of the book as the cast set out into Scree – finally – in a literal flight for their lives.  The Peculiars is clearly set up for a sequel and as Lena finally starts showing some growth readers may turn in for part two.  But, to be honest, I doubt that I will.

To be fair, my co-worker borrowed my ARC, which I picked up at ALA, and she genuinely liked this book.  The actual print cover is a fantastic improvement over the ARC cover and steampunk is definitely popular this year, so you may want to give this title a try.  One definite thing that it has in its favor is that it is a much more gentler read than a lot of the YA titles I have been reading lately; it has a lightness about it in tone, theme, language and sexual tension.  It will definitely work for younger YA readers as an introduction to the genre.  3 out of 5 stars. (Karen)

Book Review: In Honor by Jessi Kirby

I finished reading In Honor by Jessi Kirby on an airplane.  I sat there for a moment and finally, I couldn’t resist the urge any longer, I turned to the stranger sitting next to me – the one not drooling and snoring but playing Angry Birds on his computer – and said, “I’m sorry, I just need to tell someone – this was a glorious book.”  He blinked a few times, clearly trying to understand what could possibly be happening here, and looked at me and said, “I’m . . . glad.”  Sometimes a book is just so good you need to tell someone, and so I did.

In Honor is a soul satisfying read about a glorious cross country trip through the journey of grief.  Yes, I know I already told you it is glorious, and I’ll work on expanding my vocabulary later, pinky swear, but it’s just – glorious.  It is just such a satisfying read that reminds us that everyone must travel their own journey through the tunnel of grief; there is no right or wrong way – it just is. 

Honor has just graduated from high school and instead of spending the summer partying, she is burying her older brother, Finn, who was killed in Afghanistan.  On her dresser sits a letter he sent before being killed, unopened.  When she finally opens it Honor finds tickets to the farewell concert of their favorite popstar – in California.  Her brother tells her to go to the concert, have and adventure, and tell Kyra Kelley about him.  So she feels that she must.

Rusty ends up tagging along for the ride.  Oh Rusty, broken in so many ways.  He’s the boy that makes every girl swoon, and knows it.  Rusty was Finn’s best friend for years, though they had a sudden falling out when Finn enlisted in the army.  He also has taken to some serious alcohol consumption to help drown his sorrows, literally.  The journey begins with Honor behind the wheel of Finn’s beloved Pala and Rusty passed out in the passenger seat.

Like all good road trips, there are obstacles that pop up along the way. And some incredible moments that you don’t normally get to experience in life.  There are moments of raw, honest emotions.  And those moments when all you can do is laugh out loud because, let’s face it, you can’t spend 24/7 on the road with someone without the occasional embarrassing moment.

Each moment In Honor adds up to – wait for it – one glorious road trip. (Yes, yes – I’m sick of me too. But you know, it really is a glorious read.)  Honor is both naive and self-assured, she is broken but still likable.  Rusty is the type of guy who seems like he may be one way on the surface, but along the way you learn what ripples beneath those sharp edges.  Every teen girl who reads this book will fall in love with Rusty.  Heck, not so teen girls will, too.

In Honor is a story with a lot of heart, even if it is a broken one.  There are no pretty bows at the end of this journey – Finn is still going to be dead after all – but there is the satisfaction in knowing that Honor and Rusty are at the beginning of their healing journey, even if they are at the end of their road trip, and that they are probably going to find ways to be okay.  And as a reader, you close the pages of this book having taken this amazing journey with them, and you are soul satisfied.  In some ways the novel itself seems so simple, but the emotions involved are oh so rich and complex.  There are moments of rich detail, touching phrasing, and a slight smoldering just below the surface.  A definite 5 out of 5 stars.  And in case you didn’t hear, I think this is a glorious road trip novel. I now duck as you throw things at your computer screen.

Have you read In Honor? Am I right or am I right about the “glorious”? How do you describe it? Tell me in the comments. Karen

Exquisite Corpse: Tweet a poem April 27th

Tomorrow, Friday April 27th, TLT and the Library as Incubator Project invite you to help us build an exquisite corpse poem!  Simply tweet your poem line with the hashtag #exquisitecorpse on Friday and we’ll compile our collaborative poem.

What is an exquisite corpse poem?  An exquisite corpse poem is a poem in which each person contributes a different line of the poem.  We’re going to do it via Twitter.  So tweet your line of poetry with the hashtag #exquisitecorpse and when you search that tag, a huge multi-person poem will come together.  It is most fun if you tweet your line before you read what others are saying – let nonsense reign! For more information about exquisite corpse poetry visit the Poets.org website.

What is the Library as Incubator Project you ask? It is an amazing project that focuses on bringing libraries and art together.  At their website you can find a wide variety of project kits, ideas and see how other libraries are incorporating the arts into their library programming.  Whether it be showcasing musical acts, getting patrons involved in crafts or sharing poetry, the Library as Incubator Projector is a great place to see how libraries and art go hand in hand.  Let’s not forget that the written word is, in fact, amazing art!  The Library as Incubator Project will be following along and will compile our poem on their website as part of their National Poetry Month wrap-up.  This is a great website for inspiration and programming ideas.  Be sure and check them out often.  You can also follow them on Twitter @IArtLibraries.

This is a fun way to involve your teens in poetry.  For more fun poetry programs check out the TPIB: Poetically Speaking

Updated: You can find the final Exquisite Corpse poem at The Library as Incubator Project. This was a ton of fun and I hope you will join us next time.

Book Review: One Moment by Kristina McBride

This was supposed to be the best summer of Maggie’s life. Now it’s the one she’d do anything to forget.

Maggie Reynolds remembers hanging out at the gorge with her closest friends after a blowout party the night before. She remembers climbing the trail hand in hand with her perfect boyfriend, Joey. She remembers that last kiss, soft, lingering, and meant to reassure her. So why can’t she remember what happened in the moment before they were supposed to dive? Why was she left cowering at the top of the cliff, while Joey floated in the water below—dead?

As Maggie’s memories return in snatches, nothing seems to make sense. Why was Joey acting so strangely at the party? Where did he go after taking her home? And if Joey was keeping these secrets, what else was he hiding?

I read this book at the suggestion of the editor and I was completely blown away.  Six friends. Inseparable. Best friends for years and secrets aplenty. Maggie and Joey, the lovestruck couple of the mighty band of friends, are prepared to have the summer of their lives when a horrible accident on Memorial Day leads to Joey’s death after falling off of a cliff. But Maggie can’t remember the final moments of his life and what led her to run and hide. Overcome with short term amnesia/PTSD, Maggie tears herself away from life and tries to remember the love of her life, the final moments, and relive all of the beautiful ones.  The snapshots that are given to clue Maggie into what happened in those final moments are so well written and so intriguing that I was immediately hooked into finding out what happened between her and Joey at the top of the cliff. 
When Maggie’s closest friend, Adam, seems to be keeping secrets from her and the group seems to be falling apart, Maggie comes to realize that sometimes things are not what they seem and the people you love are not always the people you wish them to be.  I think that this was an excellent setting for a book about real teen relationships.  Everyone knows that large groups, even when tightly knit, have their secrets and the way that these secrets unfolded throughout the book caught me by surprise several times.   

As an adult, I hurt for Maggie because I experienced some of those same emotions when I was in high school.  As a reader, I cheered her on because despite the complete devastation of having your boyfriend die right in front of your eyes, she remained a strong character.  One of my favorite scenes (which I can’t divulge because it may blow some of the plot) was so raw and brutally honest that I wanted to stand up and applaud Maggie and I wished that I had the same courage and strength as she when I was that age.

Other than Maggie, Joey, and Adam, the other triumvirate of the six, were also strong characters.  I loved that all six of the friends fit into a different mold as far as personality is concerned and I felt as if I could identify with each one of them at different points throughout the book.

Powerful and completely full of raw emotions, One Moment explores the heartbreaking summer and the consequences of secrets between friends.  5/5 stars.  Great contemporary and beautiful story.
Find out more about Stephanie Wilkes on the Meet TLT page.  Tell Stephanie what you think of One Moment in the comments.

Flattery Will Get You Everywhere: Beth Revis on the Real Fauxtographer

I am a huge fan of Margot Wood, the Real Fauxtographer.  Her photography is beautiful and I can’t help but think, it must be so amazing to be a novelist and stumble across something like this.  What must it be like to discover that you inspired someone in this way?  So I put out a call to artists that have inspired Margot and Beth Revis answered.  I am particularly glad that it was Revis that answered, because Margot’s pictures inspired by Across the Universe is hands down my favorite of them all.  It is a stunning portrait in and of itself and, if you know the story of Across the Universe, it brilliantly captures the essence of the story.  Margot talks more about her project in a previous post, but today I talk with Beth Revis to learn how she stumbled upon The Real Fauxtographer and what it is like to be someone’s muse.

Q & A with Beth Revis, author of Across the Universe

Photo by Margot Wood, inspired by Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Tell us a little bit about your novel Across the Universe and how you came to write it.

The short answer is that Across the Universe is a murder mystery in space. I think I ultimately wrote it because of a lifetime spent with awesome books. There’s a little bit of every book that inspired me in there–the setting came from Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap (an enclosed space with a killer trapped with victims), the twist at the end came from reading Megan Whalen Turner’s The Thief (I adored Gen), and much, much more.

How did you come across Margot Wood’s picture inspired by Across the Universe?

I’ve been following Margot’s fauxtography since she posted the picture of Carrie Ryan’s The Forest of Hands and Teeth. I thought it was brilliant how she combined a love of books with a passion for photography. When she posted some more pictures, a few people sent her tweets asking for some from the world of Across the Universe–and I totally jumped on board, excited by the possibility. Fortunately Margot was able to get a copy of the book and made the picture–it was so cool to see it come to life through photography!

What does it mean to you as an author to inspire other artists in this way? What kind of response do you have to something like this? What kind of response to people like your family and publishing house have when they see the photo?

I think it’s amazing. I’m constantly inspired by others’ arts–not just through music (which is the most common type of inspiration for me) but also film and visual arts. I get story ideas by looking at paintings or from scenes in movies; I try to evoke emotions or twist words in the same way as music does. So seeing something I’ve done help inspire someone else’s art is a amazing experience. It turns art into one big creative cycle: art begets art, and that is a truly wonderful aspect of the human experience.

Do you feel like her picture captures the essence of Across the Universe? How do you think it speaks about your novel?

She did a great job creating the feeling of Amy being frozen, the starkness and loneliness of it all. I love that she played with the visualness of the original book cover in the re-imaging of the scene, but I think the most important thing is the way she captures the coldness and pain of being so very alone.

What other types of feedback have you received about Across the Universe?

In terms of creativity and art, there have been some wonderful responses. I started a “Creative Contest” earlier in the year, and the entries were so varied and amazing, from a quilt to music to paintings to sculpture to jewelry and more. You can see a full gallery here: http://www.bethrevis.com/fan-art/

There’s also a Deviant Art fan page here: http://projectarkship.deviantart.com/gallery/

A Million Suns, the sequel to Across the Universe, came out in January of this year. Can you tell us a little bit about what we can expect to happen? Will the story continue beyond A Million Suns?

In Across the Universe, Amy and Elder discover that Godspeed is fueled by lies–there are secrets and conspiracies that they must uncover to find the truth of the society aboard the ship. In A Million Suns, Elder learns just how dangerous it is to rule a society in a space ship. Chaos abounds–and in the third and final book of the trilogy, Shades of Earth (January 2013), they discover what’s waiting for them outside of the spaceship Godspeed…

I want to extend a special thank you to the talented Beth Revis for taking the time to participate in this Q&A.  You can visit Beth Revis at her website.  Her debut novel, Across the Universe, has appeared on the New York Time’s Bestseller list. You can also follow her on Twitter @bethrevis.

And, of course, you should keep your eye on the Real Fauxtographer to see what she does next.  Visit the Teen Programs in a Box table of contents (TPIB TOC) to find a variety of art project and programs you can do with teens to turn their love of lit into art.  You can also visit my post where I discuss how the Real Fauxtographer reminded me how I turn my photographs into lit inspired art.

Edelweiss, Or Crack Cocaine for Librarians/Collection Development People (Stephanie Wilkes)

This is one of those ‘informative training type’ posts where I want to let you guys in on a little website that has completely blown my Snuggie off.  (Don’t steal my phrase…I’m gonna trademark that.)  Basically, if you are a librarian who orders books or if you work in collection development, you are going to want info about this website.  Edelweiss is a website that has this tagline: “Whether you’re a bookseller, sales rep, librarian, reviewer, or publisher, you have the same goal: to connect readers with books”.  I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Basically, this website is an amalgamation of publisher’s catalogs.  All of them.   EVER.  Well, probably not all of them but pretty much all of the ones that you are ordering books for your collection from.  Random House, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Egmont USA, Houghton Mifflin….you name it.  (I’m not paid by anyone to rep their publishing companies at all…if I left you off it was just because of a major lack of coffee and like I said, every publisher in the WORLD is on this site.  So that is your inclusion.  I’m going to stop now.)

So, instead of waiting for those color catalogs to come in the mail and letting them pile up on a corner in your office along with all other mail that we get daily, you can create an account and peruse the catalogs one by one all day long.

Now why is it crack-cocaine for you?  Because you can sit there and go through these catalogs for hours. Days.  Weeks.  Possibly months if you are an extremely slow reader, clicker, and you have an older computer.  Basically, the books are all listed in the catalog and you can see publication date, a ranking on Goodreads and the blogosphere of reactions, if it is the Frontlist or Backlist, the blurbs for the book, about the author info, publicity info from the publisher, and the list goes on.  Here is a sample of one of the listings for a book that I am absolutely salivating over:

See the page here

You can see the sale date, the ISBN #, the targeted audience, pages, sales rights, the Goodreads meter that shows the popularity of the title, summary, bio, marketing plans, selling points (which can be used for book talks), and quotes and reviews.  What more could you ask for?

Oh, well this:

See the page here

That little green button?  Yes, on Edelweiss you can Request a Review Copy for your e-reader.  So, it takes what NetGalley has done and brought it up to a collection development level.  I will say that NetGalley does have more YA titles than Edelweiss though, not sure why. 

Here’s the deal…with the abundance of rights being sold for trilogies and series, it is in your absolute best interest to use resources like these when you are working on collection development.  I preach day in and day out that Amazon should not be your discovery point for book selection and I 100% stand by that statement.  If you are a true professional, you should be using professional resources.  If you are training to be a librarian, work in a library, or want to ever work in this field, you should be learning how to use professional resources, not websites like Amazon, to determine what books are coming out and when.  There are several websites that collect information about release dates for YA books (http://yalit.com) and TeenReads (www.teenreads.com).   And, personally, if you want to browse a website to see what is selling, I urge you to use Indie Bound (www.indiebound.org).

There are other options you can use on this site to help you, some of which I am just now starting to use now that the glazed eyes have worn off after a three-day collection development spree.  For example, creating your own collections and even using a feature called GeoSearch, which enables you to find materials published that may have your city mentioned or authors near you. 

Okay, so a recap.  Schedule yourself a good 4 days in your office.  Make a large pot of coffee/tea/beverage of choice and sit down at your computer.  Crack your knuckles.  Pop your neck.  Go to http://edelweiss.abovethetreeline.comand create an account.  We’ll see you next week and Karen and I will try not to post anything very exciting until then.  And for those of you who already have an addiction to Edelweiss, we will be having our first Edelweiss Non-Anonymous meeting soon via Twitter. 

If you have questions about Edelweiss, feel free use their help page or contact them via Twitter @weiss_squad.  They are super helpful, super friendly, and as with all metaphorical drug dealers, readily available. – Stephanie Wilkes