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The 12 Blogs of Christmas 2013

#12 A Beautiful Mess
#11 Diane Ravitch’s Education Blog
#10 Terrible Minds
#9 The Daring Librarian
#8 Women Write About Comics (Seriously, a lot)
#7 Justin the Librarian
#6 Book Blather
#5 Make it @ Your Library
#4 Hi Miss Julie
#3 YA Lit Quotes
#2 Go Book Yourself
#1 Diversity in YA

12 Blogs of Christmas 2012
12 Blogs of Christmas 2011

10 Titles to Look for in 2014 – Karen’s Most Coveted

Fire and Flood by Victoria Scott

Victoria Scott is awesomesauce.  The real deal.  She totally floored me with her turn around in The Collector, which I thought I was going to hate because at first it seems shallow and superficial and bad female messaging, but then she pulled a 180 with her sexy, snarky demon and proved that she had mad skillz.  Fire and Flood is an epic race for a cure to save a beloved brother: “A modern day thrill ride, where a teen girl and her animal companion must participate in a breathtaking race to save her brother’s life—and her own.”


Plus One by Elizabeth Fama

I feel like all I really need to say is PLAGUE and those of you who know me will understand why this is on my list.  I don’t know what is wrong with me, I really don’t but I love a good epidemic book.  Also, this is set during the 1918 flu pandemic so it allows me a chance to read about an epidemic AND try to fulfill my personal quest to read more historical fiction. Boom. Okay, technically it is alternate history with a dystopian sounding twist, but I’m going to go with it.  It should make an interesting companion study to read A Death Struck Year, also about the flu epidemic of 1918, and compare.


Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Delaria

Laurel writes letters to the dead, like Kurt Cobain and Janis Joplin, as she explores what happened to her and her sister May in a journal of speaking the truth and trying to heal.  Intriguing cover and title. Check.  Epistolary novel. Check. Looks like something teens will be drawn to. Check.  It goes on my TBR pile.


The Murder Complex by Lindsey Cummings

I feel like all I need to share is this brief description: “An action-packed, blood-soaked, futuristic debut thriller set in a world where the murder rate is higher than the birthrate. For fans of Moira Young’s Dust Lands series, La Femme Nikita, and the movie Hanna.”  I’m not a huge fan of this cover which seems a little “muddy” to me, but the concept is killer (see what I just did there) and I have been waiting for this one for a while.


Noggin by John Corey Whaley

Technically, I have already read this book.  BUT IT WAS SO GOOD. So very, very good. It was such a rich emotional portrait of a fish out of water.  Travis Coates was dying, so he had his head removed and preserved until now, where it has been attached to a new body.  It’s been 5 years since he was frozen, waiting for science to catch up, and the world went on without him.  Which is kind of a problem because to him, it’s like he just went to bed for the night and woke up the next day.  So he’s still a teenager while his girlfriend (wait, is she still his girlfriend?) and his best friend are now adults.  Such a great tone and writing style, an interesting way to explore traditional ya lit themes like finding yourself, and just really amazing.  Highly recommended.

Panic by Lauren Oliver

Um, so, yeah – I already read this one too.  It was actually probably one of my favorite books I read in 2013.  In small towns, you get creative trying to figure out how to pass the time.  So years ago the game of Panic was started.  Only seniors can compete for the cash prize, and they do so by participating in a variety of daring challenges.  This is a compulsively readable thrill ride, but it also poignantly depicts the stark desperation that teens feel to escape both small town life and poverty.  There is intrigue, backstabbing and some nail biting involved here.

Servants of the Storm by Delilah S. Dawson

Look, I was so struck by this cover that I thought, “I really am interested in this.”  And then, there it was on Edelweiss, so I downloaded it.  And then I started reading it, even though it doesn’t come out until August of 2014.  And then I couldn’t stop.  So, that is the story of how I read this book super early instead of doing things I was supposed to do.  Here’s a basic rundown: a hurricane roars through Georgia, one best friend, Dovey, survives and one dies.  A year later, everything changes when Dovey thinks she sees Carly.  Then it is like she falls down the rabbit hole as she learns the truth about what happened to Carly, what teems beneath the surface of her town, and the next big storm coming.  This is a unique, twisted look at demons.  It is obviously at times disturbing, but very interesting. 

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

Here’s what I know about this book: A girl is diagnosed with cancer so she makes a list of everyone she wants to get revenge on.  Then, when she checks the last person off of her bucket list of vengeance, she goes into remission.  Oops.  Now she has to deal with the blowback.  This just sounds so compelling.  Plus, I have met Julie Murphy and she has awesome style and voice and I think it will translate well to the page and resonate with teen readers.  Also, Printz Winner John Corey Whaley says this book is good and who can argue with him.

White Space by Ilsa J. Bick

Because this: “Ilsa Bick’s WHITE SPACE, pitched as The Matrix meets Inkheart, about a seventeen-year-old girl who jumps between the lines of books and into the white space where realities are created and destroyed – but who may herself be nothing more than a character written into being from an alternative universe, to Greg Ferguson at Egmont, in a two-book deal, by Jennifer Laughran at Andrea Brown Literary Agency”  Bolding mine.

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

Dorthy. Must. Die.  Great title. Great cover.  And here’s a small snippet from the blurb:  
“My name is Amy Gumm—and I’m the other girl from Kansas.
I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.
I’ve been trained to fight.
And I have a mission:
Remove the Tin Woodman’s heart.
Steal the Scarecrow’s brain.
Take the Lion’s courage.
Then and only then—Dorothy must die!”

Yep, sign me up. 

Christie says Goodbye 2013….

Everyone makes resolutions for the New Year…  Mine for 2013 were:

How did I do?

  1. Straighten Desk:  I get it somewhat straight- at least a little. It may be that I leave 15-20 minutes later than my schedule, but at least I have a clear place to work the next day. And, it’s always clear before I leave for an extended period of time…..
  2. Hug More: We definitely got more hugs this year…
  3. Breathe Deeper: Still working on the breathing. I haven’t really figured out how to deep breathe and release the stress like you are supposed to, but I’m trying to learn.
  4. Keep Schedule: I am working on calendars and schedules. Some days I make it, some days I don’t. I get laughed at about things, but it helps
  5. Love More: Definitely gave out more love, and while my heart might have gotten smushed in the process, I’m working on it.
  6. Star Reviews: I tried to star/rate reviews. I really did. My problem is that I don’t think of books that way, and what makes it an 5 star book for me could make it a 3 star book for others, or a 2 star for me could be a 5 star for someone else. That’s really a lot of stress.
  7. Declutter House: So did not happen.
  8. Eat Better & Exercise More: Always ongoing, right? Sure, probably didn’t do as well as I needed or wanted to…
  9. Read More: Always and always…..

Cybils Mini Reviews: Unremembered and Maggot Moon (two books that have little in common outside the fact that they are both speculative fiction))

Unremembered by Jessica Brody
Tagline: The only thing worse than forgetting her past . . . is remembering it.

A girl wakes up in the ocean, surrounded by the wreckage of a plane crash.  She is the sole survivor.  Soon she is released into the care of a foster family and the search to find out who she is and what happened is on.  She is given the name Violet; and she seems stronger than typical, and surprisingly good at math.  Is she genetically modified?  An alien?  Part of the allure of Unremembered is trying to figure out what is happening.

Mysterious figures seem to be tracking her down, putting everyone at risk.  They can find her with a surprising swiftness that suggests there are paranormal elements at work.  A boy keeps appearing and there is a slip of paper in her pocket telling her to “trust him”, he claims that they are in love.  There is a slow revealing of facts as we learn the truth of what is happening along with our main character.  The romance can be overly sappy at times for me, but I know a large number of my teen readers that will eat this up.  The pacing is swift, the mystery intriguingg – for those looking for an entertaining read, Unremembered won’t disappoint. Put this in the hands of your readers who loved Hourglass by Myra McEntire and yes, even Twilight fans.

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner

This book. Oh my goodness people – this book!  The setting is somewhat ambiguous, but we are in a time (1956) and a place this is frighteningly reminiscent of Hitler’s world.  People live in poverty and fear in a very regimented society.  Everyone is forced to praise the Motherland, and even if you do not want to you do it in public for fear of the repercussions.  There are searches and seizures and secrets.  The setting of this book is terrifying.

Standish Treadwell is considered deficient; he is slower than most kids and doesn’t talk a lot.  His goal is to stay under the radar so he can survive.  Soon, another family moves in to the hovel next door and they become friends with Standish and his grandfather (who is raising him after his parents have disappeared).  One day, a football goes over the mysterious wall behind the house and that is the day that everything changes: “On the other side of the wall there is a dark secret. And the devil. And the moon man.  And the Motherland doesn’t want anyone to know.”

This is a haunting and mesmerizing book.  A challenging read, to be sure, but incredibly fascinating.  The truth that is revealed about the Motherland and their quest to gain superiority by landing a mission on the moon is jaw dropping.  I can not even begin to explain to you all the rich layers and subtleties in this book.  The prose is melancholy, the story if often brutal (a boy is beaten to death by a teacher in front of the class) and it raises a vast array of important discussions.  In the end, it is a heartbreaking story of how one boy discovered the truth and what he risks to reveal it and change the fate of everyone.  This is a book that will be discussed in classrooms for a long time and challenges us all to think of what the world may be like if things in the past had turned out differently.  

Standish is a powerful character, a character with disabilities (maybe Dyslexia?) that he is challenged by but he is smarter than everyone around him thinks.  His mood shifts frequently throughout the book and it is his mesmerizing storytelling that keeps you invested.  Maggot Moon has received a ton of starred reviews, justifiably so.

Karen’s Top 10 Posts for 2013

Ah, the end of the year. Time to reflect on all that we have accomplished in 2013 (or not).  Or, really, it’s time to go on vacation and I need a quick and easy post.  Plus, we have new followers (**waves hi**) and you may have missed these posts, which we really like and want to make sure you have seen.  So here are my Top 10 Posts for 2013 . . .

The one where I share what I wish my library patrons knew.

The one where author Kim Purcell tells us how we can help get teens involved by raising awareness about human trafficking.

The one where my friend and school librarian Amianne Bailey shared about how one book made a kid think differently about a nonverbal kid in her library and made our eyes leak.

The one where I discussed what it means to tell boys that they should only study boys and girls that they should only study girls, and maybe got a little ragey. Because feminism.

The one in our ongoing series on youth and poverty where I reflect on the fact that poverty doesn’t always look the way you think it does. As poverty is growing, we need to be aware and we need to work towards change.

The one where Heather reminded us all of the ways that teenagers are like cats.

The one in which author Mike Lancaster kindly opened up his life to us and shared what it was like to grow up watching Doctor Who for Doctor Who Week, it was such an amazing gift to be invited on this journey with him.

The ones where we discussed the implications of the newly proposed electronic badging process and then Christie got her snark on and proposed some other badges we could earn in part of our Things I Never Learned in Library School series.

The one where Jonathan Maberry helps me impress The Mr. and asks him, “Haven’t you learned that wives have superpowers?” Bam, take that Mr.

And the one where I discuss why The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa is more than just another vampire book because it is a reminder of the dangers of banning books.  Because education and the freedom to read are vitally important.

Sunday Reflections: The Curious Case of Doctor Who Kissing without Consent, and why it matters

More about consent from The Feminist Anthropologist

She was 2 years old.  I had just strapped her into her car seat which held her in pretty tightly.  We were getting ready to pull out of her grandma’s driveway, but we weren’t going far – just to run some errands and such.  “Can Grandma have a kiss?”, she asked.  And the 2-year-old, who always spoke her mind, said no and turned her head away.  That was when the Grandma reached out and pinned her arms down and kissed her any way.  There she was, 2-years-old, already strapped in and now she was being forcibly held down so she could not resist and kissed even though she had just clearly said no, she didn’t want a kiss right now.  But that wasn’t respected.

After she was released, the 2-year-old smacked her grandmother in the face.  Surprised, and angry, she looked at me and said, “You should teach your children it’s not nice to hit.”  And although that is indeed true, my response to her was not what she expected: “You can’t hold people down and kiss them against their will, that’s not nice either.”  That’s the thing, people have a right to say no to being kissed, hugged, or touched in any way.

Consent: “permission for something to happen or agreement to do something”

As my children are growing older, I think often on this day.  To me, as an outsider, I was shocked by how violent the whole encounter was; the way my child’s wishes were totally disregarded and she was held down – disabled by someone more powerful than her – and forced to do something that she didn’t want to do.  I get it, 2-year-olds are cute.  And they don’t stay that little for very long.  Trust me, I am all too aware of how quickly they grow and change.  But when did we develop this notion that just because we want something – just a simple kiss, right – that it’s okay to take it?

Source: ColorLines.com

In Protecting the Gift, Gavin DeBecker talks about one of the most important things we can do to help protect our children from sexual abuse is to let them know from birth on that they have control and agency over their bodies.  This means that we do not force them to kiss or hug relatives when they don’t want to.  Yes, even grandmothers that they may only see on a rare occasion.  It’s a radical notion for some, I have seen it debated often online, but I don’t understand why just because children are small we feel that we can force them to express acts of affection without their consent.  And I can see the danger in setting this precedent where we teach our children even if you don’t want to kiss or hug someone, we do it because it is “nice”.  Or because they – the adult – wants it.  So how do they differentiate when they are a little older and it is a teacher or a coach or some other authority figure – or a boyfriend – asking them to do something they don’t want to do, that doesn’t feel right?  We have taught them that they have to do this thing because we do what adults say, so maybe we shouldn’t be surprised when they are confused when authority figures ask them to do things that they think probably aren’t right – they certainly don’t want to do these things – but they have been taught that they can’t say no.

Which brings me to Doctor Who.  Yes, it’s a big leap, so stay with me here.  My two daughters and I started watching Doctor Who this summer and we are BIG FANS.  We have seen all of Doctors 9, 10 and 11 – multiple times.  We may watch an episode almost daily.  Don’t judge.  But I love many things about the Doctor: he is a moral, compassionate being, he seems genuinely accepting of all – not just all races, but all species – he is open to exploration and adventures . . . But over time the Doctor has changed.  In fact, since the introduction of Clara, I find the show to be particularly problematic.  Though I don’t blame Clara, it’s a writing problem.

So this Christmas, we sat together to watch the 11th Doctor’s fond farewell.  We were anxious, a little sad, a little sorrowful because we had grown so fond of him.  And then it happened and to be honest, it was a real let down.

Actually, I had grown worried about it earlier in December when early promo pics had come out:

Please, please, please do not let this be a case of the Doctor does the manly work of saving the day while the girl cooks the turkey I tweeted.  But honestly, that’s kind of what it was.  In fact, the Doctor saved the day AND saved the turkey while Clara did – well, nothing really.  Actually, read these two reviews to get a handle on what some of the problems were (I excerpted the points relevant to my discussion below):

“The sexualization of Tasha’s power and her attempts to assert her autonomy became extremely problematic during the scene when the Doctor kisses her without her consent. When the Doctor releases Tasha she orders him to only kiss her when asked, and the Doctor replies “Only if you ask nicely,” and they immediately give each other bedroom eyes. The Doctor receives no punishment for kissing her without her consent, and her protest at having been kissed without her consent is trivialized and sexualized. It’s not a big deal she was kissed without her consent, the show tells us, because she secretly liked it.

Even more disturbing is the fact that this is the second time in a year I’ve had to write about Doctor Who‘s problematic treatment of sexual assault. Including the scene in “The Crimson Horror” where the Doctor laughs off Jenny’s protest that he forcibly kissed her was bad enough, but including a second scene in which the Doctor is portrayed laughing off a woman’s protest that he forcibly kissed her so soon after receiving a strong backlash to the first is particularly galling, and it’s hard to read it as anything other than a deliberate provocation.”

“Despite her rank and the supposed power of her position, she was easily taken over by the Daleks (don’t get me started to the whole eyestalk in the forehead thing) and when she eventually did manage to fight back her consciousness, the Doctor decided to lay a smacker on her without her consent.”

But more importantly, there was the kiss.  In a moment of celebration, the Doctor grabs Tasha’s face and kisses her.  Please note, he forcibly grabs her face in both hands and kisses her full on the mouth – he has all the power in this moment.  And as the above review mentions, this is not the first time during series 7 that this Doctor has done that.  So much forcible kissing.  And I am glad to see there are people talking about it because we should be talking about it.

We are in the midst of a cultural revolution right now.  Steubenville and other moments like it have opened some real dialogue about how we talk to our teens about respecting other people’s person-hood and the idea of consent.  And it IS an important idea.  A fundamental right.  You don’t get to kiss someone just because you want to.  Not if the are two and you are their grandma and you think they are cute.  Not if they are 16 and you have just bought them dinner and taken them to a movie.  Not because you are more powerful than them.  Not if they are . . . well, never actually.  That’s the point.  Human rights are important.  Bodily autonomy is an important human right if you ask me.  Consent matters.

In addition to all of our regular blogging here at TLT in 2014, we are dedicating the year to discussing important teen topics like sexual violence in the lives of teens and YA literature.  Join us on Wednesday, January 29th for a virtual panel with authors Carrie Mesrobian (Sex & Violence), Christa Desir (Fault Line), and Trish Doller (Where the Stars Still Shine) as we discuss sexual violence in the lives of teens and in their novels – and why it matters that we talk about it. 

Here’s the 411:

We’re going to Google Hangout and do a “virtual discussion panel” with authors Carrie Mesrobian (Sex & Violence), Christa Desir (Fault Line) and Trish Doller (Where the Stars Still Shine) on Wednesday, January 29th at Noon Eastern to discuss Sexual Violence in the lives of teens and YA lit.  You can join us for our virtual panel.  We will also be attempting to record it so you can view it later.  Some of the questions we will be discussing include how writers go about making realistic representations to raise awareness and give teen survivors a voice. These are all good books with some good discussion and I recommend reading them.  In fact, read them before January 29th and join us.

More About Sexual Violence in YA Lit on TLT:
What It’s Like for a Girl: How Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama made me think about the politics of sexuality in the life of girls
Sexual Assault Awareness Month, talking to teens about consent and rape part 1 and part 2
Should there be sex in YA books? 
Plan B: What Youth Advocates Need to Know 
Because No Always Mean No, a list of books dealing with sexual assault
Who Will Save You? Boundaries, Rescue and the Role of Adults in YA Lit.  A look at consent and respecting boundaries in relationships outside of just sex. 
Incest, the last taboo 
This is What Consent Looks Like
Street Harassment
That Time Matt Smith Perpetuated Street Harassment Culture at Comic Con
An Anonymous Letter to Those Who Would Ban Eleanor and Park
Take 5: Difficult books on an important topic (sexual violence) 

Friday Finds – December 27, 2013

This Week at TLT

The second half of our 12 Blogs of Christmas!

What Robin is Anticipating in 2014
Previously at TLT

Last year, Christie told us all of her Holiday Secrets

She also shared life lessons from her favorite Christmas movies

And finally, these were Christie’s resolution for 2013…I wonder how she did?

Around the Web

Emergency unemployment benefits will expire for approximately 1.3 million jobless people tomorrow. You know things are getting bad when the federal government starts to treat the disadvantaged like North Carolina does. (It’s okay, I’m allowed, I live here.)

Ypulse has a great article about Millennials and technology. And also about Millennial entertainment trends.

From Upworthy, watch this video about The Representation Project (coming in 2014.)

Teen movies that bombed at the box office this year

12 Blogs of Christmas: A Beautiful Mess

One thing I definitely need to have on my blogroll are craft blogs.  You never know when the perfect craft idea will come along and suddenly – presto magic – you have a complete program idea ready to go.  So we are wrapping up the 12 Blogs of Christmas with one of my favorite craft blogs.

Blog #12: A Beautiful Mess

A Beautiful Mess is a crafting/DIY blog done by Elsie & Emma.  That’s really about all I know about them.  This blog has a such a clean layout with a great graphic presentation.  Also, lots of great ideas.  Their Instagram Canvas Wall Art post started a revolution in both my home decorating and programming.  I am quite literally obsessed with this project and if you are in any way related to me, then you got some type of Instagram Canvas Art from me in 2013.  And if you are one of my teens, you probably attended my program on 10 Things You Can Do with a Blank Canvas (part 1 and part 2).

A Beautiful Mess has sections on crafts, photography, recipes, decor, fashion and beauty.  The crafts and decor sections are most usual in program planning inspiration, but I like learning about the photography.
Some of my favorite posts include:

This Family Photo Bookshelf Project

This post on making your own foam stamp

They have a whole collection of posts on book making

This post on displaying photos in your home (some of which would work at the library or as a program)

And this post on making a pinhole camera, which totally counts as tech programming in my book 

There is also an A Beautiful Mess iPhone App, which I have not used so I can’t give an opinion on it.   

What Robin is Anticipating in 2014

Here are 10 books I am excited for in 2014

*The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson (January 7, 2014) I was fortunate enough to get and advanced copy of this, and it’s brilliant, and just as important as her other issue novels. This is an eye opening look at post traumatic stress and the toll it takes on a family.

*Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo (June 3, 2014) I still need to read Siege and Storm, but Shadow and Bone was one of my favorite books I read this year.

*Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins (April 8, 2014) Yes, I’ve already read this one, too – read my review here

*Firebug by Lish McBride (Fall 2014) Because, honestly, I’d read a menu by Lish McBride. If you haven’t read Hold Me Closer, Necromancer or its sequel, Necromancing the Stone, what are you waiting for?

*We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (May 13, 2014) I just got approved for an eARC of this, and I am SUPER excited! It seems like all of the authors I follow on Twitter (and many of the librarians) have either already read this or are super excited about it.

*The Unbound by Victoria Schwab (January 28, 2014) A most prolific young author! I am excited to be able to experience her long term trajectory as it unfolds. I feel like I am getting in on the ground level of a really exciting IPO – does that even make sense?

*Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray (August 5, 2014) This is the second book in Bray’s Diviners series. I would love to be a fly on the wall in the genius that is Libba Bray’s mind.

*The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (June 10, 2014) Oh, the drama! This is the conclusion of the Mara Dyer Trilogy.

*Dangerous by Shannon Hale (March 4, 2014) Something new from Shannon Hale, sign me up!

*The Eye of Zoltar by Jasper Fforde (April 10, 2014 – UK release date?) Um…yeah. It’s Jasper Fforde. Read of my love of his works here or here. This is apparently the UK pub date; I’ve been unable to find a US pub date. My local bookstore may be getting an international order.

    12 Blogs of Christmas: Diane Ravitch’s Blog

    A someone involved in the school system, Robin is very interested in the topic of education.  We have a lot of behind the scenes discussions about what is happening in education, and post frequently about how our schools and our world are failing our kids.  In fact, just last week Christie went on a tear about how we our failing our kids.  So it is no surprise to be that one of Robin’s blogs has an education focus.
    “A site to discuss better education for all.” 

    You may recognize her from her appearances on The Daily Show with John Stewart. Diane Ravitch is a professor at NYU and author of multiple books – and one of the sanest contemporary voices on the state of public education. Her blog is invaluable to those of us who wish to stay current with the public education debate and educate ourselves on priority talking points. Her links to other articles are well worth following.


    5 Posts to Check Out:

    PISA Rankings are Utterly Wrong and Meaningless
    Poverty Influences Brain Development in Children
    U. S. Has a Poverty Crisis, Not a School Crisis
    Can Schools End Poverty?
    Dasani: The New York Times Should Win a Pulitzer Prize for This Powerful Series

    – Robin