Thursday, May 31, 2012

Don't read those %&#@ YA books! A discussion of profanity in teen fiction

Trend Watch: Profanity in Teen Fiction

Lately, everyone has been a buzz about the profanity in teen novels.  It even made the news! A recent study was done and they counted the swear words and noted an increase in the use of profanity in teen books.  There have been some informative - and some amusing - blog posts about the topic (linked at the end of this post).  Apparently, the women's lib movement is somehow to blame and all us women folk got a potty mouth when we put on our shoes and walked out of the kitchen.

I am not going to lie, I have noticed as a reader the increase in profanity in teen books and it has given me pause.  Not because I personally care, but because I stop for a moment and think to myself yep, a parent is going to complain about this.  So far they haven't, but with all the press it increases the likelihood.

Are you feeling feral? Big news from author Holly Schindler

Author Holly Schindler has big news!

You can learn more about Feral at Holly's blog:, on Twitter: @holly_schindler, or at Holly's Facebook author page:

Holly Schindler is the author of Playing Hurt and A Blue So Dark.  You can find out more about her and these books, including book trailers, at

Feral will be coming soon from Harper Collins.

Book Review: Ranger's Apprentice by John Flanagan

The Ranger's Apprentice is a series of amazing fantasy novels written by Australian author John Flanagan. The series takes place in a fictonal world, based upon medevial Europe and follows the adventures of Will, an orphan of Castle Redmont who is taken as an apprentice Ranger, as he strives to keep the Kingdom of Araluen safe from invaders, traitors, and threats. He is joined on his adventures by his mentor Halt and his best friend Horace.

Book Review: No Safety in Numbers by Dayna Lorentz

Life As We Knew It meets Lord of the Flies in a mall that looks just like yours

A biological bomb has just been discovered in the air ducts of a busy suburban mall. At first nobody knows if it's even life threatening, but then the entire complex is quarantined, people start getting sick, supplies start running low, and there's no way out. Among the hundreds of trapped shoppers are four teens.

These four different narrators, each with their own stories, must cope in unique, surprising styles, changing in ways they wouldn't have predicted, trying to find solace, safety, and escape at a time when the adults are behaving badly.

This is a gripping look at people and how they can--and must--change under the most dire of circumstances.

And not always for the better.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Giver (Lois Lowry) as discussed by Lauren Kate

Today, as part of our ongoing series Why YA?, Lauren Kate, author of the Fallen series, discusses The Giver by Lois Lowry.

TPIB: Food Fight based on The Sweetest Thing (by Christina Mandelski)

Funny story, I hate to cook.  But I am obsessed with The Food Network, especially shows like Iron Chef, Cupcake Wars and the Extreme Challenge.  So as I was sitting there reading The Sweetest Thing by Christina Mandelski, all I could think about was all the great cooking show programming you could do as a tie-in.

The Sweetest Thing tells the story of Sheridan, the daughter of a master chef and a cake decorator who has some amazing talent of her own.  In fact, she is known around her small town as Cake Girl.  Unfortunately for her, her fabulous cake decorating mom took off quite a while ago and hasn't really done a great job of keeping in touch.  When her father makes the announcement that he finally got his own TV show, Sheridan is terrified of making any changes and moving to New York City where her mom is sure to never find her.  As the countdown is on to film the pilot for her dad's cooking show, things are really unravelling for Sheridan.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Top 10 Tuesday: From Beyond the Grave

In the end, life inevitably always ends in death. Death and taxes you know.  A lot of teens can avoid the taxes part, but they often get to the death part too early, especially in teen fiction.  But death is a funny thing, and you don't always stay dead.  Or you hang out in limbo while you wait to learn life's GREAT LESSONS.  So here, for your reading pleasure, is a list of books that tell their stories from beyond the grave, where teens come back to make things right, fall in love, or just haunt the people who made their lives miserable.  They are not always ghost stories, because you don't have to be a ghost to haunt someone.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Secrets of the (Probably Not So Much) Immortal Michael Scott

Yesterday was my 17 year wedding anniversary and, like any good teen services librarian, I ditched my husband, grabbed my tween, and journeyed to a magical place - the bookstore - to meet author Michael Scott.  (Don't worry, it's not as bad as it sounds, we had dinner together later.  Me and the Mr. that is, not Michael Scott and I.)  It is always fascinating to hear authors talk about their work, their writing process, and to get those little glimpses into who an author is.  So today I bring you a look at the secrets of the (probably not so much) immortal Michael Scott, the author of The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series.

During his author visit, Mr. Scott shared with us his ten year journey to write the 6 book series The Secrets of the Immortal of Nicholas Flamel.  The most fascinating tidbit: besides the two main characters, Sophie and Josh, every single character and every single place in the story are rooted in real life.  He researched the story to such a degree that, should you choose, you can go and fact check the story.  Whereas most fantasy authors get a fiction book editor, Mr. Scott got a nonfiction book editor who did just that.  And one fan went through and Google mapped the story.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Book Review: This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

“This must be what Dorothy felt like, I think. Maybe. If Dorothy was six scared teenagers and Oz was hell.” (This is Not a Test, Courtney Summer."

It is always assumed that when the zombie apocalypse happens we will do everything in our power to survive, but what if the morning all hell breaks loose, you were already planning to end it all?  That is the superbly unique premise that Courtney Summers brings to us in This is Not a Test, hands down one of the most stunning looks at the ZA I have ever read.

Friday, May 25, 2012

TPIB: Don't Judge a Book By Its Cover

I am a huge fan of cover art.  Like...HUGE.  It's no mistake that teen books have some of the best cover art out there and generally because most of our teens are looking for things that are visually appealing.  But some of the books that I read and fell in love with didn't have the best covers.  When I would try to booktalk these books or hand sell them to my teens in the stacks, they looked at me like I was insane.  The conversation would go a little something like this:

Me: OMG I just read Bloody Jack and it's about this girl who cuts off her hair and joins the Navy as a boy in disguise but then...she falls for one of the guys on the ship.  Except he doesn't know.  Because he thinks she is a dude.  It's awesome.
Teen: This book looks like it needs to go in the Children's section.  That cover is stupid looking.
Me: But trust's really good.  And here's a good book called Mare's War about a girl who has to travel cross country in the car with her grandmother and learns that her grandmother was one of the first African-American women to participate in WWII.
Teen: Is it a picture book?
Me: ::jumps out of library window::

Making the Match: Why finding the right book is important by Teri Lesesne (guest post)

One of my teens making a match!
A few weeks ago, I read about the YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) summer course entitled Making the Match.  I decided to email the instructor for this course, Teri Lesesne, to see if she would be interested in writing a guest post for us.  Teri is @professornana via Twitter and is a professor of library science at Sam Houston State University in Texas.  See what she has to say about why finding the right book is important and if you are able, I encourage you to take her course offered through YALSA!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Book Review: Timepiece by Myra McEntire

They have altered history, and now it's time to learn what the consequences are . . .

Be warned: spoilers for Hourglass (previously reviewed), the first part of Myra McEntire's series, abound in this review. Read at your own risk.

Timepiece takes off where Hourglass left us, although it is told from another character's point of view.  If you read Hourglass, you know that Emerson and Michael stepped back in time to save one man from death, and that man was Kaleb's father.  Now we get to see what it like to have mourned your father and see him live again.  Kaleb wasn't dealing so well with his father's death in Hourglass, but how will he deal with his resurrection?

They say that every action causes a ripple of reactions throughout the universe, and the people from Hourglass have made earthquakes.  Now, time rips are becoming more frequent, new people can see them, and sometimes you can interact with them.  The rules are changing and no one is quite sure what it means.

Trend Watch: Contagion

What's next on the Trendwatch? Contagions!  Suddenly in the ya books I'm reading communities - and countries - are being taken down by the age old arch nemesis of mankind: the virus.

Caution: While reading these titles please report any sudden coughing, sneezing or itching to the local authorities.  In order to prevent the spread of contagion, please wear appropriate protective gear and remember to wash your hands.  Any person showing any signs of contagion must report those signs immediately. Happy reading.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Can you forgive the bully? A guest post by author Patty Blount

There’s a t-shirt popular among writers that says, “Writers block: when your imaginary friends won’t talk to you.” (Note to self: buy t-shirt.) It’s a well-accepted fact that writers are probably the only group of people who DON’T panic when they hear voices in their minds.

At any given time, there are about half a dozen characters who are jabbering away in my head and will not shut up until I write them out.  To date, Dan, the main character from SEND (coming August, 2012 from Sourcebooks Fire), was the hardest character for me to exorcise for a couple of reasons. First, he was male and I’d never written a male lead before, especially not from the first person POV. Second, he was obviously NOT a hero – he’d done a terrible thing and even though he was paying for it, his crime hit a bit too close to home for me.

Book Review: Lexapros and Cons by Aaron Karo

Chuck Taylor’s OCD has rendered him a high school outcast. His endless routines and habitual hand washing threaten to scare away both his closest friend and the amazing new girl in town. Sure he happens to share the name of the icon behind the coolest sneakers in the world, but even Chuck knows his bizarre system of wearing different color “Cons” depending on his mood is completely crazy.

In this hilariously candid debut novel from comedian Aaron Karo—who grew up with a few obsessions and compulsions of his own—very bad things are going to happen to Chuck. But maybe that’s a good thing. Because with graduation looming, Chuck finds himself with one last chance to face his inner demons, defend his best friend, and win over the girl of his dreams. No matter what happens, though, he’ll have to get his hands dirty.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sequel Preparedness: Human.4 by Mike Lancaster

Later this year, in November to be exact, the world as we know it will change - again.

It began with a quiet little book titled Human.4 by Mike Lancaster.  Human.4 is a classicly creepy science fiction tale that immediately brought to mind some of the best episodes of The Twilight Zone.  The best part: it is incredibly creepy but appropriate for readers of all ages.

We begin by zooming in to a small town.  Not a lot happens here, as it the case with most small towns.  But every year there is an annual talent show.  It is here that the world as we know it changes for everyone.  Well, everyone except for 4 individuals who happened to be hypnotized at the moment the change occurred.

The girl in the fiberglass corset: a story about scoliosis and eating disorders

The first time I had to wear it in public, I threw up.  It was at my brother's baseball game and there I was running to the bathroom to hurl.  You see, unlike the corsets of old, it didn't make me look thinner.  No, it made me look . . . well, large.  It being a fiberglass cast that went around my torso to help correct my spine.  I had scoliosis.

I remember it was the same year I read Deenie by Judy Blume and thought, wow that would suck.  Later that year they called us all in to the nurses office and had us bend over and touch our toes.  It turns out that I, too, had scoliosis.  My spine was curved.  For 2 years I had to wear a fiberglass corset 24/7 and then for another 2 years I had to wear it at night.  Nothing says have a good night's sleep like a fiberglass corset digging in your hips.

Top 10 Tuesday: Body Image and Eating Disorders

Yesterday we talked about The List by Siobhan Vivian.  One detail that didn't come fully to light in our coverage is the story of Bridget, who develops an eating disorder.  Her description on the "list" says this: what a difference a summer makes.  What they don't know is how she lost that weight over the summer, and how that statement affects her downward spiral.  I felt that Bridget's story, her story of how she counted calories and avoided food, was a thoughtful depiction of anorexia that rang true.  So today, in honor of The List by Siobhan Vivian, and in honor of teens everywhere trying to learn to love their bodies, we have put together this Top 10 List of books on Body Image and Eating Disorders.  Click the book cover and it will take you to the books Goodreads summary or TLT review.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Why YA? To never forget... The List (Siobhan Vivian) as discussed by Stephanie Wilkes

Today, TLT member Stephanie Wilkes shares her Why YA? post.  You can write one too. Here's how.

I’ve contemplated this post for several weeks now because the reason I read YA didn’t seem like something I could just pin down for a blog post.  There are so many different reasons and in my interview when I joined the TLT team, I gave away the book that made me into a YA reader.  I kept telling Karen that I was going to write this post and for several days I have just stared at my reminder post-it, seeking inspiration.  Then, during a recent outreach visit to my old high school, I found it.

The Feminist in Me by Siobhan Vivian (guest post)

High school can be cruel.  Everyone wants to put a label on you: Jock, Geek, Loner, Stoner, Prep.  There are even school sanctioned labels: Most Likely to Succeed, Prom Queen.  Labels, sometimes, can make or break us.  How do we live up to them - or live them down?  Today we are honored to have a guest blog post by the talented ya author Siobhan Vivian.  What label does she give herself? And how did you she come to write the amazing THE LIST?  Read on to find out.
I am a feminist.

And though that facet of my personality might not be the first thing you pick up on when you meet me, I do hope it’s a theme you see present in all my young adult novels. Real girls, real problems. That’s always been my inspiration, where I set my moral compass as a writer. And in my new novel, THE LIST, it is front and center.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Meet Jenny Torres Sanchez

On Tuesday, May 22nd, a little book is being born called The Downside of Being Charlie.  Charlie is a rare gem of a novel because it tells the story of a boy who doesn't often find himself in teen lit.  He is not swoony, he is not a raging bad boy oozing layers of angsty sex appeal, and he is not anyone's hero - until the end where he is maybe his own.  The Downside of Being Charlie is a contemporary marvel by a debut ya author that knows what she is talking about because she served her time in the trenches as a high school teacher.  Today, Jenny Torres Sanchez shares with us her thoughts about Charlie, her journey to being a writer, and the 5 books that every teen should read.

What made you interest in becoming a writer? Why young adult?

In fourth grade, I wrote a short story for a creative writing contest. That's when I first become interested in writing and have been at it ever since.  And I write young adult for a couple of reasons. First, I think teenagers are incredibly honest about the world and those around them.  I like and respect that kind of honesty.  Second, adolescence is when you're trying to find your place in the world, trying to figure out how exactly you fit in and how you're going to go about life.  i find the complexity of that pretty compelling and think there are great stories to be told there.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Relational Reading Revolution: How you can change the landscape of reading

   Earlier this year I jumped on Twitter and realized that a revolution was happening; a Relational Reading Revolution.  If I was going to get super technical and educatory (not really a word), I would draw you a diagram explaining the relationship using a triangle and the three points of the triangle would be labelled author, reader, librarian.  Lucky for you, I'm just going to write about it.  Read on.

It began simply enough, a teen walked in and told me that she loved a certain book or series, and I tweeted a picture of said teen to the author.  Occasionally, the author tweeted back.  All of the sudden I became a super hero with magical powers.  I brought them into contact with someone that seemed inaccessible.  And with that, I became someone of greater import in the life of this teen.  Tweet by tweet I began building relationships with teens.  (I'm in a new library system and, honestly, this relationship building method has proved faster and more effective than I could ever have imagined). (See Don't Underestimate the Value of Twitter)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Top 10 Tuesday: Trend Watch

2010 Trends Poster
 So as you know, the yearly Top 10 Trends is kinda my "thang".  For the 3rd year in a row, I am following trends and getting ready to put together my annual poster.  So join us, won't you, in a little discussion we like to call Trend Watch.

Here's what I am seeing so far this year . . .

Reality Bites
Finally, thanks in no small part to The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, contemporary fiction is returning in popularity.  Some of the hot titles include In Honor by Jessi Kirby, The Downside of Being Charlie by Jenny Torres Sanchez, Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson and Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams.  Dying, especially death by cancer, seems to be a prevalent theme in the current crop of titles that I have been reading. Keep your eye out for Ask the Passengers by A. S. King (October 2012).  What are your favorite contemporary titles for 2012?

Book Review: The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all.

Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he’s seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.

Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home—and his own art—through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.

So, while I realize that this book is a bit more juvenile than what we usually review, I was prompted to read this book by a school librarian (@mrschureads) and after seeing his tweets and others raving about this book, I picked up my first juvenile fiction book in a long time.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Setting out to fight the HG war, an anonymous guest blog post

Today in the midst of World HG Awareness Day, a friend posted this analogy on her Facebook wall.  All day today us HGers have shared our stories, shared facts, and thanked our loved ones and doctors for walking this HG journey with us.  But, we have also struggled for words to help those outside understand.  Then she posted this analogy and I thought . . . yes . . . exactly.

In a way, by setting out today to raise awareness, we have declared another type of war against HG - a war against misinformation and poor care.

I hope the analogy doesn't offend anyone - and it might if you've never lived through it yourself - but I've long thought HG pregnancies are like deployments.

Chocolate Chip Cookies and Turkey Sandwiches: World HG Awareness Day, May 15

As a librarian, when you hear HG you probably think about The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  But for me, HG is a different type of hunger games, a very real one.  HG stands for Hyperemesis Gravidarum.  It is literally translated as excessive vomiting during pregnancy.  Before IVs and PICC lines, women died from HG.  Truthfully, women still die from HG, but it is more rare. 

Recent research sponsored in part by the Hyperemesis Education and Research Foundation (HER Foundation) indicates that there is a genetic component to HG.  As the mom to two little girls, this breaks my heart.  The fact that if they choose to have children they may have to suffer the way I did is inconceivable - and this time I am pretty sure it means what I think it means.  With better awareness and more research we can find better treatments and make sure that women can get early and aggressive care.  It's easier to treat more successfully if intervention happens before a woman spirals out of control, before her body systems are already starting to shut down.

We were going to have a brother but got a sister instead: HG from a tween's perspective

Today is World HG Awareness Day.  For the month of May I have spent some time sharing my story.  Today, a tween tells you hers.  No, not her story about having HG, but her story about what it is like to be a child and watch your mothers go through it.  What it is like to lose a sibling to HG.  What it is like to wonder if your mom is going to die.  HG (hyperemesis gravidarum) is a debilitating, life threatening pregnancy disease.  Approximately 1 in 1,000 pregnant women will experience HG - including teens.  If they don't experience it themselves in pregnancy, they are still greatly impacted by watching their mother's suffer from it.  Early and aggressive treatment can help make the symptoms more manageable; they can be the difference between life and death.  As a librarian, I believe that information is power.  That is why I am working so hard to raise awareness.  This is Caitlin's story.

Just the facts: HG

Today is HG World Awareness Day.  As you know, I have had HG 3 times.  After my first bout of HG, I swore I would never get pregnant again.  I had no idea that my first pregnancy would turn out to be me easiest.  My second pregnancy almost killed me, and it did kill my baby.  During my third pregnancy I had better, pro-active care, but I still spent months on being fed via an IV and almost lost my child because the force and frequency of my vomiting was causing my placenta to separate. At 19 weeks they told me they were sorry, my baby was not going to make it.  She did make it, my little miracle, but after 3 years spent barely surviving, almost dying, and throwing up more than 1,000 times, I knew that there would be no more children for me.

You see, you remember that time when you got food poisoning so bad and you threw up all day and night and became so dehydrated you could barely lift your head off your pillow.  The next day you went back to work and told everyone it was the most horrible experience of your life and you hoped to never be that sick again.  Yeah, that's what HG is like - except it is 24/7 for 9 long, torturous months.  In several of our HG World Awareness Posts we have talked about the emotions of HG, today an ob/gyn talks about some of the medical facts and highlights the need for better research and health care protocols.  The only thing that helped me in my last pregnancy is the fact that my new doctor had some experience treating HG and was willing to give me the medications that my first doctor wouldn't. Well, that, and the liquid nutrition that came from home health care.

Monday, May 14, 2012

I GalleyChat, Do You?

You don't?  SHAME!  Several months ago, I heard about something called GalleyChat that a website called EarlyWord ran which played out over Twitter.  I sat in, learned a ton about all the new adult galleys and what is hot and what was not.  Which is great.  Except I don't work in adult services and my one 3 hour shift at the reference desk once every three months doesn't really lend itself to a ton of adult readers' advisory.  But after one meeting, I was hooked and so I posed the question to Nora Rawlinson (co-founder of EarlyWord and former editor of Library Journal and Publishers Weekly), "Why can't we have a YA GalleyChat?".  And so, the EarlyWord YA GalleyChat was born.

Book Review: Wonder by R. J. Palacio

I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?

If you're a constant Twitter-er like Karen and myself, then you may have seen the trending hashtag #thewonderofwonder floating around the Twittersphere. Many people are starting to catch on to this wonderfully crafted story and rightly so. I myself read this as a ARC from NetGalley several months back and when I finished it, thought simply, "This is one of the best books that I've ever read."

11 months and counting...

Last year, I sat down at the Austin Teen Book Festival and looked around in complete awe.  Hundreds of teens, gathered together in one room excitedly tweeting and talking and making new a book festival.  The concept just blew my mind in a good way.                                                                          
 I wanted my teens, in my town in north Louisiana, to have that experience.  Driving 8 hours or more?  Not possible.  And why should they?  We have big towns like Shreveport and Monroe both with airports and nice convention centers.  I made up my mind that no matter what, I was going to make this happen.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A letter to A. S. King

This morning I went for a walk.  Headphones in my ears, arms pumping, and there stood one lone yellow flower in a field of green grass.  Technically probably a weed.  But I looked at it and slowed . . . marveled for a moment.  In the midst of all those green blades of grass sat this burst of yellow sunshine, staking its claim.

On Friday I read Ask the Passengers.  All day long I sat around and read, turning the pages furiously.  I thought of all the teens that I have worked with over the years, how hard they fought to be able to love themselves - for their friends to love them.  For their parents to love them.  For me, for us - the adults in their lives - to love them. Unconditionally.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

There's no sister like an HG sister

You would think that since this weekend is Mother's Day, I would talk about being a mom.  But instead, I want to talk about sisters.  You see, I am very lucky in that I got to give my daughter a sister.  Not that she always appreciates it to be honest; you should hear the two of them fight.  There are 6 years of age between the two of them.  And, as it is, my youngest child almost didn't make it into this world - multiple times.  My oldest child could just as easily have been an only child, a daughter without a sister.  Thankfully, miracles sometimes still happen.

Photograph by Sarah Elizabeth Photography

But this post is not just about my quest to give my daughter a sister, but about how I found "sisters" of my own.  This post is part of my ongoing effort to raise awareness about a debilitating, sometimes fatal pregnancy illness that I had.  A disease experienced by 1 out of 1,000 women - a sisterhood of HGers.  You see, when you travel the lonely road of unknown and misunderstood diseases, you join a sisterhood.  Without a doubt, I would rather have not joined this sisterhood - but I am so thankful to have these women in my lives.  They are survivors and fighters.  They are wounded and changed, but they live life with a new understanding and appreciation.  So today, in celebration of the first ever World HG Awareness Day on May 15th, I share with you a post I wrote a while ago called "There's No Sister Like an HG Sister" . . .

Friday, May 11, 2012

Why YA? Please Ignore Vera Deitz (Guest post by Jenny Torres Sanchez)

On May 22nd debut author Jenny Torres Sanchez releases her first book, The Downside of Being Charlie. Fridays in May we are introducing you to Jenny and her main character, Charlie. Today Jenny is sharing her Why YA? post with us all.  Want to share a YA book you love with us? You can.  Click here to find out how and to read the post that started it all.

I didn’t start reading YA until I was an adult.  There just didn’t seem to be much of it when I was a teen, and if there was, I didn’t really hear about it.  But I definitely could have used some YA when I was a teenager. 

See, most of the reading I did as a teen was just my required reading for school, and while I loved my English classes, most of the books we were reading weren’t necessarily books I saw myself in.  It was great literature, sure, that introduced us to amazing ideas, but I remember feeling disconnected and removed from it.  Maybe it was simply because often the language was a bit archaic, or the characters were obviously of some other time, or their struggles didn’t match my own.  And while yes, they portrayed the universal themes that make for great literature - it didn’t always feel very relevant.  As an insecure kind of teen that felt misunderstood and dismissed and socially inept and like somehow everybody else knew something I didn’t, I could have used some teen lit.  I could have used seeing characters like me, really like me, going through struggles that I could relate to.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Throwdown: Do the rules of romance apply in supernatural fiction?

Stephanie and I need you to weigh in on an ongoing debate we are having.  Simply stated our question is this: do real world rules of romance apply in the world of supernatural fiction?  But let's back up and get some background info, shall we?

It began simply enough yesterday when I tweeted that I was upset about something I read in a teen fiction book and asked: What's the deal with our female protagonists falling for a guy who is clearly a jerk?  People weighed in and the general consensus was that this happens in real life and they wish that they had this type of fiction when they were teens because it would clearly have saved them a lot of heart ache.

Trend Watch: Darkness Ruled the Land

Today I take off my librarian hat and set it aside.  I want to talk to you as a reader.  As a fan.  In particular, I want to talk about three very specific books: Masque of the Read Death by Bethany Griffin, Rotters by Daniel Kraus and Embrace by Jessica Shirvington.  These are all each, in their own way, dark, dark books.  The kind of books that haunt you.  And I just, well, need to talk about them.  So come talk about them with me.
Please note: you read this post at your own risk - spoilers abound! (You have to read that spoiler warning with a dark and sinister voice in your head. And maybe add in a "mwahahaha" and twirl your mustache.)

Book Review: Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock

In this world, it is a known and accepted fact that werewolves exist.  If you receive a scratch or a bite from a werewolf you must turn yourself in, for you now suffer from LS (lupine syndrome).  Failure to report is a crime.  The infected are sent off to rehabilitation camps and never heard from again.  Mac shouldn't care about all of this, but when her best friend is murdered by a werewolf the world begins crumbling around her.  It seems that everyone has a secret and she isn't sure who she can trust.
Mac, short for Mackenzie, is haunted by visions of her murdered best friend, Amy.  It's been five months since her brutal murder and the remaining three in their group of 4 best friends are struggling.  Jason has taken to alcohol to drown his sorrows and Kyle is wrestling with an ex-girlfriend that changes his life forever.  They are barely holding it together when a new werewolf attack occurs and they decide to try and take care of the problem on their own, though in very different ways. 

The Unconventional Summer Reading Club

We all have things we don't like.  For me, the list includes sea food and sports.  It is hard for me as a librarian to hear someone say they don't like to read, but over the years I have come to a sense of peace about it.  I have come to the point where, for me, it is okay to hear that a person doesn't like to read for pleasure. I can respect that.  What is important to me is that they CAN read and successfully engage in information seeking skills.  I have also come to understand that the library is about more than just book circulation.  This is one of the reasons why I advocate for having ways to involve non-readers in your summer reading clubs - what I like to call the Unconventional Summer Reading Club.  I know, it seems like a contradiction in terms - it is, after all, called a READING club.  But we have a variety of programs and services that invite non-readers into the library and we can find creative ways to involve them while respecting the library goals and our non-readers.  Here are just a few . . .

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Do you write negative reviews? The TLT RA philosophy

The other day I walked into work and two of my co-workers told me they were reading Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children because they had read Cuyler's review of it here.  Sometimes it is jarring to see your work life and your, well, other work life intersect.  To be honest, it is nice to know my co-workers read TLT and it is also nice to know that what you are doing makes a difference and that people are reading and discussing the information you are putting out into the universe.  The universe is sometimes a silent partner in the blogging world.

If you are a regular reader of this blog you know that I put tremendous value on the importance of communication.  Because I believe in it, I put out a weekly communication to my co-workers called Monday Musings.  Sometimes it even appears on a Monday.  I'm not gonna lie, it has been late.  The last part of my musings always involves what I call the Teen Title of the Week.  Here I review a book that is owned in our collection and offer similar read-alikes that fans of the title may like.  I believe that staff are empowered with information.  And, as we all know, I think everyone should read the occasional YA title.  My goal is that all staff will become familiar with the teen collection and be able to have positive interactions with teens because I can't be there 24/7.

And I am telling you all this why?  The other day a friend at work asked me about the blog and commented on the fact that I didn't seem to give negative reviews.  I actually have spent some time over the years thinking about negative reviews and, well, this is what I think about them . . .

Book Review: Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

Although I am a weeper by nature, I am not a book weeper. The last book that really left me sobbing what If I Stay by Gayle Forman, until last week.  True story: although I adored The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, I didn't really cry when I finished it.  Then, I read two books in a row that made me sob.  The first was Waiting by Carol Lynch William.  And the second was Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson.  I sobbed through the last 30 pages of this book. But it was the sobbing that comes from just reading a really good story and being a satisfied reader as you close the back cover.

Taylor Edwards family sets out to spend one last summer with their father who has been given 3 months to live; maybe less and maybe more, but basically 3 months.  So the family sets off for their summer home that they haven't visited in more than 5 years.  This is the last place that Taylor wants to be because of what happened that last summer.  From the outset, it looks like this will be the worst summer ever.  But summers always have a way of surprising you.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Top 10 Tuesday: Steph's Take

So, I don't make cool pictures like Karen.  But one thing that I LOVE is music.  I love all kinds of music from rap to country, classical to indie rock, and I really dig German/Swedish rave music...I'm so weird.  So, since I don't make cool pics, I decided to make my first 'Top 10 List' all about my 'Top 10 Music Themed Books", so in no certain order other than being my favorite 10, here we go...

Monday, May 7, 2012

Ashfall with Mike Mullin, Q&A and Ashen Winter ARC contest

April showers bring May flowers - unless you live in a post apocalyptic world covered by volcanic ash.  Then, not so much.  Ashfall by Mike Mullin is just such a novel; it tells the story of a US after a major volcano eruption in Yellowstone.  Ashfall was also the subject of one of the photographs of The Real Fauxtographer, Margot Wood.  We may have mentioned her before (here and here to be exact).  Today, author Mike Mullin discusses Ashfall, his response to Margot Wood's photograph inspired by his book, and the upcoming sequel Ashen Winter.  Be sure to read through the whole post because at the end we have an awesome surprise for you all.  You want to win a signed ARC of Ashen Winter, right?

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

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Book Review: The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison

The Butterfly Clues is a deceptive book, but in really good ways.  I first stumbled across this title while looking for new mysteries to add to my collection for this year's summer reading theme.  And make no mistake, there is a mystery underlying this tale, but at its core it is really a complex, gut wrenching and gritty contemporary tale of a young girl living with OCD in a family haunted by loss.

Lo, short for Penelope, is controlled by forces inside her mind.  The numbers 3, 6 and 9 are safe numbers.  She has rituals for coming and for going.  She tries to keep them hidden, but they are hard to avoid.  Sometime items speak to her and once they do, she can't avoid their whisper humming in her brain - she must steal them.  Lo breaks your heart; she is tormented by these urges that she can not control and no one understands.  But they are not the only things that torment her; her brother descended into drug use and died alone in a part of Cleveland that no one dare go known as Neverland.  But go Lo does, and that is where the mystery begins.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Life's Bilest Moments, HG poetry

As we draw closer to May 15th of this year, we draw closer to the first ever World Awareness Day for Hyperemesis Gravidarum.  HG is a debilitating, life threatening pregnancy illness.  I have struggled with it in three pregnancies, with only two living children to show for it.  My second pregnancy was by far my most horrific experience; in a little over a week I lost 30 pounds and my body began to shut down from the excessive vomiting.  My baby, Casey Lee, did not survive; at around 10 weeks we found out that she had died around 6 and a half weeks.  During the months following my experience I turned to an old friend to express my physical and emotional pain, poetry.  This is my HG poetry.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Dear Teen Me with Jenny Torres Sanchez

On May 22nd debut author Jenny Torres Sanchez releases her first book, The Downside of Being Charlie.  Fridays in May we are introducing you to Jenny and her main character, Charlie.  Today Jenny shares with you her experience as part of the Dear Teen Me project.  Be sure to check out the Dear Teen Me project at their website and check out the anthology coming to your library in Fall 2012. As a fun writing assignment flip the premise and have your teens write a "Dear Adult Me" letter. Make sure they save them until they are adults, it would be interesting to see what they think about them later. (Dear Teen Me published by Zest Books October 30, 2012)

As teens, most of us get our fair share of unsolicited advice from well meaning but slightly out of touch adults. And when we do, most of us roll our eyes and curse under our breath because it’s just really hard to listen to advice from someone who seems so far removed from your experience, who you can’t ever imagine being young, and whose BS you don’t want to listen to because you fear it might make you turn out like one of them.

Which is why the first time I came across the Dear Teen Me website, I thought now that is a cool idea! Because Dear Teen Me is different. This is adult us talking to teen us with intimate knowledge of exactly what we went through.  This person isn’t removed from our teen experience because he/ she lived through it. This person acknowledges the pain and hardship of being a teen and is honest about it. So when a teen identifies with a particular post, there’s a sense of trust and not being talked down to. 

Dear Teen Me, with love from Stephie Jo

Because today we are talking about Jenny Torres Sanchez and her involvement in the Dear Teen Me project, Karen Jensen and I decided to try our hand at our own "Dear Teen Me" letters. Be sure to check out the Dear Teen Me project at their website and check out the anthology coming out in Fall 2012. As a fun writing assignment flip the premise and have your teens write a "Dear Adult Me" letter. Make sure they save them until they are adults, it would be interesting to see what they think about them later. (Dear Teen Me published by Zest Books October 30, 2012)

Dear Teen Me,

So many things that I wish to tell you, but knowing us, you’re entirely too headstrong to listen.  Just try to listen and keep an open mind.

You will always love eating...
One thing to get out of the way and quickly.  When you are 13, someone extremely close to you (not family) is going to die in a terrible car accident.  And you will spend months in a dark place because of how close you were to this person and how much you just don’t understand death.  You cannot change things, so I will never tell you who, but just know that death is a part of life and even though we never understand how or why young people are taken from us, God has a master plan.  Another angel to watch over you is never a bad thing in the years to come.

Dear Teen Me, the tiny little paths set abundantly before you

Because today we are talking about Jenny Torres Sanchez and her involvement in the Dear Teen Me project, Stephanie Wilkes and I decided to try our hand at our own "Dear Teen Me" letters.  Be sure to check out the Dear Teen Me project at their website and check out the anthology coming to your library in Fall 2012.  As a fun writing assignment, flip the premise and have your teens write a "Dear Adult Me" letter.  Make sure they save them until they are adults, it would be interesting to see what they think about them later. (Dear Teen Me published by Zest Books October 30, 2012)

Dear Teen Me,
Karen as a Freshman
Congratulations, I have great news! You will not always have to wear braces, they really will come off.  And that back brace you are wearing for Scoliosis, it too will magically disappear one day.  And there will be much rejoicing (and much Monty Python watching).  Some things, however, will not change; you will still like to pretend you are a writer and will fill notebooks with cheesy, angsty poetry, you are still an annoyingly picky eater (your life motto: "if it lives in the sea, it ain't for me" - that was time well spent coming up with that one I tell ya), and you are still a huge reader.  Keep reading because that last part will become very important.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Q&A: Meet the 2012 Printz Award Winner John Corey Whaley

Last year, a debut author from a small town in Louisiana (WOOT!  LOUISIANA PRIDE!) proudly/nervously anticipated the day that his book would hit store shelves.  And when that magical day came, little did John Corey Whaley know that his days as an English teacher were numbered and his life as an award-winning author would soon begin.  From becoming the first young adult author to ever receive the National Book Foundations ‘5 Under 35’ Honor, to winning the William C. Morris Debut Author Award AND the 2012 Michael L. Printz winner for Excellence in Young Adult Literature.   

Today at TLT, we are honored to host an author interview with Corey Whaley and signed copy of his book as a giveaway! 

Stephanie Wilkes of TLT and Printz Winner John Corey Whaley
Can you describe Where Things Come Back in 140 characters or less?

Why YA? Callie says "Bring it on"

One year ago today a little book was published that had the title Where Things Come Back and it was authored by a young man named John Corey Whaley.  In January Where Things Come Back received both the William C. Morris Debut Award and the Michael L. Printz Award, because this book is that awesome.  Today at TLT we are celebrating the 1 year anniversary of Where Things Come Back with a Why YA? post and a Q&A with John Corey Whaley. Somewhere in these posts you will find a way to enter to win a signed copy of Where Things Come Back. Happy book anniversary.

For many years now I’ve been quite obsessed with children’s literature: collecting the Newberys, reading as much as I can, writing a little here and there, and working toward my Masters in Library and Information Science, specifically to become a children’s librarian… until about 4 months ago.

You see, a few strange things happened at the beginning of the year. I’d reluctantly registered for a YA class this semester and, after considering dropping the class for another option, decided to stick around. At least this was a good reason to reread The Hunger Games (#TeamKatniss).

So I’d begun a YA class, wondering “why YA?”

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Why YA? The remix

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post defending the notion that adults not only could, but that they should read YA fiction.  You can read the post here, but the basic premise is this: we work with teens, we live in a world with teens, we were once teens so, of course, we should read teen fiction.  Then we started a meme and invited teens and adults to share their favorite YA experiences.  And then - bam - yesterday on the YALSA blog there was a post questioning what it means for ya collection development to have adults reading (and liking) ya literature.  The underlying question seems to be this: are we building collections for adults or for teens?  As a teen services librarian, I build the collection for teens, but I am happy whenever any reader finds a book that speaks to them and walks out of the library a satisfied customer.  That's just good business.