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Win This: 5 From Merit Press (Giveaway)

Earlier this year, Merit Press launched.  It is a new YA imprint started by New York Times best selling author Jacquelyn Mitchard.  Their focus is on “riveting and relevant real world novels for young adults” (via their Facebook page).  Today we had a guest blog post from author Julie Anne Lindsey, a Merit Press author.  I happen to have right here in my hand five FINISHED HARDBACK books from Merit Press for you to win.  You can keep them, use them as prizes, or add them to your library collection if you are a librarian.  This giveaway will be open until Midnight on Saturday, September 7th.  Complete details at the end of this post.

Exposure by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes

 “The minute you think you can outsmart life, that’s when life will outsmart you.”


A modern day homage to Macbeth.  The captain of the hockey team, Duncan, turns up dead.  And senior Skye finds herself caught in a love triangle.  She may be the only one who knows what really happened to Duncan.  To tell or not to tell, that is the question.

Tempestuous by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes

“I shuddered, remembering the similar crown of condescension I wore back when I stook perched on a higher rung of the social statrum.”

Miranda Prsopero has found herself banished from the popular crowd (say not banished).  She now finds herself working at the Hot-Dog-Kabob (think Hot Dog on a Stick with awesome uniforms and tall hats).  A huge storm sweeps through and they are all trapped in the mall, creating the perfect opportunity for revenge against her former clique.  Like Exposure, Temptestous is a part of the Twited Lit series, this one a take on The Tempest.

The Girl in the Wall by Daphne Benedis-Grab

“The one thhing even more dangerous than being in a hostage situation has to be being in a hostage situation that’s gone wrong.”

Rich, powerful people often make powerful enemies.  And they can seek revenge at the most unfortunate times.  Ariel is in the midst of a mega birthday party when they show up, guns in hand.  Everyone is now being held hostage, except Ariel who has escaped into secret tunnels.  Sera was forced to attend the party by her father.  As terrorists take over the party, Ariel and Sera may be everyone’s only chance for survival.

The After Girls by Leah Konen

“How could she have spent week after week with her friend, her best friend, and not known that she wanted to leave? The guilt ripped at her, enveloped her, drowned her.  If only she could find what it was that she’d missed. If only she could see how she’d failed her friend.”

Ella, Astrid and Sydney find their summer plans shattered when Astrid takes her own life.  Ella and Sydney are left reeling: they had no idea anything was wrong, shouldn’t they have seen this coming?  Ella hunts for the truth while Sydney tries to escape the pain, often in destructive ways.  And is it possible that Astrid is trying to communicate with her friends from beyond?  The answers may just change their lives forever.

Louder Than Words by Laurie Plissner

“Every night it’s the same thing. Screeching brakes. Crunching steel. A rush of cold, wet air as the glass crumbles, letting in the snowy night.”

Her entire family was killed in a car crash that left Sasha unable to speak without the assistance of a voice box.  Ben, an empath, seems able to read Sasha’s mind and tries to help her heal from the trauma of the accident.  Soon it becomes clear: Sasha’s family did not die in an accident, and her life is in danger.

Reproductive Rights in YA Lit: Christie’s Take

If you follow me on Twitter, you definitely know where I stand on this issue, and personally I am scared for where this country is headed. I realize that the issue is completely tied up to everyone’s personal beliefs, and I have close friends who fall on both sides of the lines- we just agree to disagree on this subject.

However, I know a lot of people across the country who feel the same way, who were activists before and after Roe vs Wade became law, and fear we’re headed down the same road as before abortion became legal, and access to women’s clinics (whether they perform abortions or not) were available to all. I do feel that the way “pro-life” is marketed is wrong- I feel that my viewpoints should be considered pro-life even though I consider abortion an option- just as I consider birth control an option, and federal and state care after birth options.

I remember the scene in Fast Times at Ridgemont High that Karen writes about, but that wasn’t the first movie I saw that deal with abortion. The first one I saw was the horrible botched abortion in Dirty Dancing, when abortion was illegal. I didn’t understand the whole situation, and I didn’t ask my parents about it (I didn’t see it in theaters, I saw it at a friend’s house a few years later)- instead, I went and researched it at the bigger city library nearby (no way could I go to the library in my small town- would everyone have gossip then, even if they would have had information about the subject). When I understood what was going on, and why it was going on, I thanked the powers that be (fill in whatever God/Goddess/Deity you like) that we (women) didn’t have to go through that now. That was when I decided I was going to be a feminist and an activist- I finally had a title to how I felt. However, I now have the scary feeling we’re headed backwards to that time.



Like Karen, I don’t know of any 11-15 year old ready to be a parent (boy or girl or inbetween), and like Karen, I have worked with teens in that age range who have had to deal with that issue.


In previous work experiences it was usually the girl alone who was having to deal with her parents and the decision as the boy was long gone or denying responsibility (and leading a campaign of slut shaming along with his *new* girlfriend), in my current one it has been more of a mix which I think is due to the culture more than anything else. However, they are still struggling with options, and to have one option taken away means that they are left with two: adoption (which while may be the best case has stigma attached in a lot of cultures) and keeping the baby (which may not be the best case for the child or parent/parents). This is why we have trends in libraries of grandparents as parents collections, and grandparents as parents programming- because adoption was not a viable option in anyone’s mind (for whatever reason) and the baby ended up with grandparents.

16 and Pregnant : MTV


We, as teen service specialists (which I use to encompass all of us who work with teens) are always advocating for books that reflect teen life- because teens turn to YA fiction to find themselves, and to help know that they are not alone. Abortion in YA fiction is a subject that is extremely hard to find, and needs to be written about more, in a compassionate way- not just in a sentence or two that it was a consideration before moving on to other options. When we have television shows that glorify and make stars of teen moms acting badly and abusing their kids (yes, I’m looking at you, MTV), and media that can’t honestly deal with the issue except on the margins we need a counterbalance somewhere.

Book Review: Canary by Rachele Alpine

Staying quiet will destroy her, but speaking up will destroy everyone.
 

Earlier this year, the world was rocked by the Stuebenville case and it is like, somehow, Alpine knew it was happening and in her premonition wrote about it all, just changing the sport from football to basketball in her teen novel, Canary.  At the same time, we have spent the month of April speaking and Tweeting and blogging about things like Sexual Assault Awareness Month, consent, and the importance of teaching our teens to respect one another not only as sexual beings, but as people period. Canary is an important tool in that process.

Synopsis: It has been 2 years since the death of her mother from cancer has turned Kate Franklin’s home into a quietly desperate place of strangers who speak through post it notes, so when her father gets the coaching job at a prestigious private school Kate sees a chance to start over again.  She is immediately welcomed by the popular crowd, though at times she questions ther motives.  For a while, she is blinded by the glamour that comes from being star players boyfriend, the parties, the friends . . . but occasionally glimpses of the truth creeps in.

We’ve all heard the stories before, about sports stars (and sometimes cheerleading squads) that seem to rule the school to such a degree that even the adults in this world are willing to turn a blind eye to drinking, cheating, and barely passing grades.  Beacon is such a school and, for a while, Kate is a part of it all.  That all changes one night when one of the players attempts to rape her and she is suddenly labelled a slut and an outcast.  And just like the stories we have heard in the news lately, pictures are shared via cell phones, Kate is ostracized, and she is suddenly very desperately alone.


I am not going to lie, there is a little bit of everything thrown into Canary: grief, sexting, drinking, sex, drugs, attempted rape, parental alienation and even a little war anxiety.  It is a mega dose of the after school special, but done pretty effectively and, as we now know all too well, there are cases of this really happening in the world around us.  When even Kate’s father asks her to stay quiet, you know people’s priorities are really screwed up.  But don’t lose hope, Kate finally finds a way to stand up for herself and there is a definite theme of hope at the end.

There is so much to talk about in this book.  The way these teens all pressure each other to do things, like drinking and engaging in sexual activity, with little real care and concern for the actual person.  The bullying.  The slut shaming.  The rape culture.  The entitled sports culture.  All of it real and relevant.

The first part of Canary involves setting Kate up in her new world. There are parties, a new boyfriend, and that high one gets when you are suddenly on top of the world.  It also establishes the culture of Beacon, which can sometimes be a slow process but it essential to building up and then subtly revealing the layers of deceit and master manipulation involved.  The star basketball players hold all the cards, and they know it; the trick is too wield them without showing their hard, which they do quite successfully for a while.  Beacon is an example of a school that puts sports and profits over people and academics, it is disturbing and sinister in the “character” that it builds in these teenage athletes, more so because many of us can name places just like it in the real world.

Whereas Kate seems able to turn a blind eye for far too long, her brother Brett stands in as the voice of reason, reminding her that as his older brother he knows far too well this life she is living, how her friends may not be her real friends, and how he will always be there for her.  And even in the midst of his own personal grief and crisis, he comes through when she needs him most.  This is a sometimes strained but genuine sibling relationship, the shining beacon (no pun attended) in the life of these two teens who are suffering the loss of one parent quit literally while also dealing with the emotional abandonment of another.

Kate’s father, the basketball coach, is a disappointment.  He clearly is not dealing well with the grief of losing his wife and is failing as a parent.  His reaction to Kate’s admission of the sexual assault is so very disappointing. It is hard to imagine any father reacting the way he does, and it is troubling when you think that many parents often do in fact ask their children to keep these types of revelations quiet out of fear.

The way Kate eventually finds her voice is by publishing her online blog/diary, which has been revealed to us throughout the story in poetry form as it happens.  Some of these entries are cutting and poignant and spot on.  It is interesting, too, how Alpine uses current technology to have Kate keep her secrets and then make them public in an effort to save herself from the harassment she is receiving at school after the rumors about her start spreading.  There are definitely a lot ways that this book can be used to spark discussion about technology in the lives of teens, and again – there are some real relevant discussions to be had about sexting, privacy, the distribution of child pornography, etc.

Plot wise, there are no real surprises, but it is a compelling read all the same in part because it does seem like one of those ripped from the headlines episodes of Law & Order SVU and because of the addition of verse journal entries.  Canary helps teens put some emotional components in place with the current headlines they are hearing.  Real, relevant, and very discussable.  3.5 out of 5 stars. 

Canary by Rachele Alpine.  Published in August of 2013 by Medallion Press.  ISBN: 978-160542587-0.

More About Sexual Assault 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

Entangled Teen: Fall 2013 Titles coming your way

This week is Entangled Teen week at TLT.  All week long we will be reviewing Entangled Teen titles and giving you multiple chances to enter and win a mini-collection of 2013 titles to add to your home or library collection.  We kick off the week with a look at some of the Fall 2013 titles that will be coming your way.

Hover by Melissa West, August 2013
On Earth, seventeen-year-old Ari Alexander was taught to never peek, but if she hopes to survive life on her new planet, Loge, her eyes must never shut. Because in this world, pleasure is everything, held up by a ruling  body that keeps their peopke in check by giving them what they want and closing their eyes to what’s really happening around them.  The only hope Loge has is to move its people to Earth, and they have a plan.

Thousands of humans crossed over to Loge after a poisonous neurotoxin released into Earth’s atmosphere, nearly killing them.  They sought refuse in hopes of finding a new life, but what they became were slaves, built to siege war against their home planet.  That is, unless Ari and Jackson can stop them.  But on Loge, nothing is as it seems . . . and no one can be trusted. 

Out of Play By Nyrae Dawn and Jolene Perry, August 2013





Rock star drummer Bishop Riley doesn’t have a problem. Celebrities—especially ones suffering from anxiety—deserve to party, right? Wrong. After taking a few too many pills, Bishop wakes up in the hospital facing an intervention. If he wants to stay in the band, he’ll  have to detox while under house arrest in Seldon, Alaska.

Hockey player Penny Jones can’t imagine a life outside of Seldon. Though she has tons of scholarship offers, the last thing she wants is to leave. Who’ll take care of her absent-minded gramps? Not her mother, who can’t even be bothered with the new tenants next door.

Penny’s too hung up on another guy to deal with Bishop’s crappy attitude, and Bishop’s too busy sneaking pills to care. Until he starts hanging out with Gramps. If Bishop wants a chance with the fiery girl next door, he’ll have to admit he has a problem and kick it. Too bad addiction is hard to kick…and Bishop’s about to run out of time.
Tale of Two Centuries by Rachel Harris, August 2013


When her time-traveling cousin Cat returns to the future, Alessandra D’Angeli is the only one in her family who remembers the truth. Haunted with ideas of the future, she’s unable to return to her quiet sixteenth-century life, and when the one she loves betrays her, she cries out for an adventures of her own. The stars hear her plea.

One mystical spell later, Alessandra appears on Cat’s Beverly Hills doorstep five hundred years in the future. Surrounded by confusing gadgets, scary transportation, and scandalous clothing, “Less” throws herself into the magical world of a twenty-first century teen, and then meets infuriating – and infurariatingly handsome – surfer Austin Michaels.  Ausin challenged everything she believes in . . . and introduces her to a world filled with possibility.

With the clock ticking, Alessandra knows she must return to the past and give up the future filled with opportunity and love. Although she longs to fight fate, it’s not possible to stay in the twenty-first…or is it?



Everlast (previously Fated) by Andria Buchanan, August/early Sept. 2013

Allie Munroe has only ever wanted to belong, maybe even be well liked. But even though she’s nice and smart and has a couple of friends, she’s still pretty much the invisible girl at
school. So when the chance to work with her friends and some of the popular kids on an English project comes up, Allie jumps at the chance to be noticed.
And her plan would have worked out just fine…if they hadn’t been sucked into a magical realm through a dusty old book of fairy tales in the middle of the library.
Now, Allie and her classmates are stuck in Nerissette, a world where karma rules and your social status is determined by what you deserve. Which makes a misfit like Allie the Crown
Princess, and her archrival the scullery maid. And the only way out is for Allie to rally and lead the people of Nerissette against the evil forces that threaten their very existence.

Relic by Renee Collins, September 2013


After a raging fire consumes her town and kills her parents, Maggie Davis is on her own to protect her younger sister and survive best she can in the  Colorado town of Burning Mesa. In Maggie’s world, the bones of long-extinct magical creatures such as dragons and sirens are mined  and traded for their residual magical elements, and harnessing these relics’ powers allows the user to wield fire, turn invisible, or heal even the worst of injuries.
Working in a local saloon, Maggie befriends the spirited showgirl Adelaide and  falls for the roguish cowboy Landon. But when she proves to have a  particular skill at harnessing the relics’ powers, Maggie is whisked away to the glamorous hacienda of Álvar Castilla, the wealthy young relic baron who runs Burning Mesa. Though his intensions aren’s always clear, Alvar trains Maggie in the world of relic magic. But when the mysterious fires reappear in their neighboring towns, Maggie must discover who is channeling relic magic for evil before it’s too late.

Relic is a thrilling adventure set in a wholly unique world, and a spell-binding story of love, trust, and the power of good.

The Liberator by Victoria Scott, Sept. 2013



Dante  has a shiny new cuff wrapped around his ankle, and he doesn’t like that  mess one bit. His new accessory comes straight from Big Guy himself and marks the former demon as a liberator. Despite his gritty past and bad boy ways, Dante Walker has been granted a second chance.

When Dante is given his first mission as a liberator to save the soul of seventeen-year-old Aspen, he knows he’s got this. But Aspen reminds him of the rebellious life he used to live and is making it difficult to resist sinful temptations. Though Dante is committed to living clean for his girlfriend Charlie, this dude’s been a playboy for far too long…and old demons die hard.
With Charlie becoming the girl she was never able to be pre-makeover and Aspen showing him how delicious it feels to embrace his inner beast, Dante will have to go somewhere he never thought he’d return to in order to accomplish the impossible: save the girl he’s been assigned to, and keep the girl he loves.

Made of Stars by Kelley York, October 2013

When 18-year-old Hunter Jackson and his half sister, Ashlin, return to their dad’s for the first winter in years, they expect everything to be just like the warmer months they’d spent there as kids. And it is – at first. But Chance, the charistmatic and adventurous boy who made their summers epic, is harboring deep secrets. Secrets that are quickly spiraing into something else entirely. The reason they’ve never met Chance’s parents or seen his home is becoming clearer.

And what the siblings used to think of as Chance’s quirks—the outrageous stories, his clinginess, his dangerous impulsiveness—are now warning signs that something is seriously off.
Then Chance’s mom turns up with a bullet to the head, and all eyes shift to Chance and his dad. Hunter and Ashlin know Chance is innocent…they just have to prove it. But how can they protect the boy they both love when they can’t trust a word Chance says?


Olivia Twisted by Vivi Barnes, November 2013

Olivia

He tilts my chin up so my eyes meet his, his thumb brushing lightly across my lips. I close my eyes. I know Z is trouble. I know that being with him is going to get me into trouble. I
don’t care.

At least at this moment, I don’t care.

Tossed from foster home to foster home, Olivia’s seen a lot in her sixteen years. She’s hardened, sure, though mostly just wants to fly under the radar until graduation. But her natural ability with computers catches the eye of Z, a mysterious guy at her new school. Soon, Z has brought Liv into his team of hacker elite—break into a few bank accounts, and voila, he drives a motorcycle. Follow his lead, and Olivia might even be able to escape from her oppressive foster parents. As Olivia and Z grow closer, though, so does the watchful eye of Bill Sykes, Z’s boss. And he’s got bigger plans for Liv…

Z
I can picture Liv’s face: wide-eyed, trusting. Her smooth lips that taste like strawberry Fanta. It was just a kiss. That’s all. She’s just like any other girl.
Except that she’s not.
Thanks to Z, Olivia’s about to get twisted.

Ink Is Thicker by Amy Spalding, December 2013

For Kellie Brooks, family has always been a tough word to define. Combine her
hippie mom and tattooist stepdad, her adopted overachieving sister, her younger
half brother, and her tough-love dad, and average Kellie’s the one stuck in the
middle, overlooked and impermanent. When Kellie’s sister finally meets her birth
mother and her best friend starts hanging with a cooler crowd, the feeling only
grows stronger.

But then she reconnects with Oliver, the sweet and sensitive college guy she had
a near hookup with last year. Oliver is intense and attractive, and she’s sure he’s
totally out of her league. But as she discovers that maybe intensity isn’t always a
good thing, it’s yet another relationship she feels is spiraling out of her control.

It’ll take a new role on the school newspaper and a new job at her mom’s tattoo shop for Kellie to realize that defining herself both outside and within her family is what can finally allow her to feel permanent, just like a tattoo.

January 2013 Releases

Here’s a look at what new releases I am reading in January 2013

Finding Zasha by Randi Barrow
Hitler’s troops are marching across Russia and 12-year-old Ivan has joined a secret group fighting against the Nazis.  When he meets Zasha and Thor, he knows that he must save them and stop them from becoming weapons of war.

Return to Me by Justina Chen
Tagline: And there it was again, the troubling notion that I barely knew the people I loved.
Rebecca’s life is upturned when her family moves and dad takes off.

Gabriel Stone and the Divinity of Valta by Shannon Duffy (Middle Grade)
The first title from Month9Books, a new YA imprint focusing on speculative fiction.  Gabriel Stone finds a crystal that transports him to strange new worlds, literally.

The Dead and the Buried by Kim Harrington
This line really says it all: “I was living in a murder house.”  There are ghosts, mysteries, swoony guys and a cute little brother.  Christie G. has read and is writing her review as we speak.

The Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman
It is 1923 and Jade Moon is a headstrong, reckless girl; something that is not valued in Chinese girls.  But when her father and her find the chance to move to America, they discover that freedom isn’t always what they think it is, especially for Chinese immigrants.

Catherine by April Lindner
Chelsea sets off to New York to try and find her missing mother, Catherine.  In a dual voice narrative, we learn about the great and obsessive love of Catherine and Hence while Chelsea tries to understand what could make a mother leave her daughter.  A modern day mystery, this is a play on Wuthering Heights.

Victoria Rebels by Carolyn Meyer
Princess Victoria is destined to be the queen of England.  Meyer bases this work of historical fiction off of Queen Victoria’s own diaries.  This is not only a sweeping love story, but an intimate look at one of England’s most beloved queens.

Whatever After: If the Shoe Fits by Sarah Mylnowski (Middle Grade)
Mylnowski continues her Whatever After series with a little twisted Cinderella.  What’s Cinderella going to do with a broken foot? The Tween and I love this series and can’t wait to read this next title.

Altered by Jennifer Rush
Tagline: When you can’t trust yourself, who can you believe?
Anna lives with a group of genetically altered boys who are poised to be secret government weapons. They soon find themselves on the run, fleeing for their lives and Anna has discovered she has a secret connection to one of them, Sam. They must find out what that connection is in order to survive.

Falling for You by Lisa Schroeder
Tagline: Love found her. Now it won’t let her go.
Rae has always dreamed of having a boyfriend like Nathan, but is he really the dream guy she thinks he is?

Then You Were Gone by Lauren Strasnick
Two years ago Adrienne’s best friend walked out of her life.  One week ago she left a desperate message asking for help.  Adrienne never called her back.  When Dakota disappears and leaves behind a rumored suicide note, Adrienne can’t help but wonder.  Can Adrienne find and help Dakota, or is it really too late?

Other titles I can’t wait to read this month:
Prodigy by Marie Lu, the sequel to Legend
Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi
Shades of Earth by Beth Revis
Archived by Victoria Schwab
Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff
Prey by Andrew Fukuda, the sequel to Hunt

What are you looking forward to in January?

New Adult: A Broken Promise, Now a Rose by Any Other Name (by Chrisite G)

I have been following with waxing and waning interest for the last few months the chatter about the “New Adult” trend that publishers have been introducing.  You can trace it back to St. Martin Press back in 2009, when they wanted to market books as coming-of-age stories with characters in their twenties.  You can actually trace it further back to an online contest, sponsored by #YALitChat, and they had a really decent turnout for it.  The winners got the first 50 pages of their manuscripts looked over by St. Martin, and a lot of them were really idealistic.  Blogger and author Kristan Hoffman, who won the contest, stated that she felt that New Adult could really take off, Especially since New Adult could offer a variety of “flavors.” Sci-fi, fantasy, romance, historical, thriller, literary … Just like the Young Adult umbrella, New Adult can (and probably will) cover all these genres and more.”

In spite of this early optimism, even the reps for St. Martin admitted back then what I keep thinking now:  that New Adult isn’t needed, and that it’s just a marketing ploy. It was a way for ADULT FICTION to expand out of its box.  Which is good- we all like things expanding outside of their boxes, and it’s nice that publishers want to reach out to a section of readers that they think need special marketing.  I think it would have been wonderful if it had taken off that way.  Books like the Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty  or Prep often live in the Young Adult section but need to find an older audience, as they might need a college aged crowd who won’t go back to a teen section once they graduate.  (Note to readers- mine continue to haunt the teen area even after they’ve graduated high school, are constantly asking me for more teen and adult books, and are actually laughing at the thought of me calling them “new adults”)

New Adult is not coming out of its box, though. Instead, publishing is wrapping things up in bright, shiny pink polka dot paper with froufrous and lace, and that’s not acceptable. If anything, it’s basically the new shiny name for chick lit and backhanded acceptance that it’s OK for a FEMALE to read.  And that makes me incensed.

If you look at some of the definitions, now New Adult is considered anything coming of age for readers 14-35.  That’s a bit of a gap developmentally- what’s appropriate for a freshman in high school is not going to be appropriate for a freshman in college or a graduate student, and a far cry from the original intent of 18-26 year olds. How, realistically, am I as librarian supposed to put together a New Adult collection with a straight face?  “Oh, here, teenager, read the bodice ripper your MOM likes.  Oh, here, adult patron, please don’t mind that we have the scantily clad covers right next to the rapidly diminishing young adult section, because it’s the NEW ADULT area.”  If you search Goodreads for New Adult titles, you get at least 300 titles:  everything from Julie Cross’ Tempest (rated YA- 14 to 18 yrs by the publisher on BN.com)  to 50 Shades of Grey.  We’ve gone far afield from college experiences, moving out, and finding our way in the real world. 

Five young adult titles that are being called New Adult on Goodreads- where would you put them?

And take a CLOSE look at titles that are being considered new adult.  Notice a pattern?  How about the fact that the vast majority of them are romantic intrigue?  So, who exactly is the New Adult category for?  Random House just announced this morning a new digital imprint for their New Adult titles- called FLIRT.  Sci-fi is called Hydra while Mysteries is called Alibi.  So, if New Adult were actually FOR people 18-26 or 18-36, why would you call it something that is going to appeal primarily to young women while alienating the vast majority of readers?  Unless you WANT it to be aimed for that segment?

Shiny imprint of New Adult called Flirt.  Plus vast majority of books being published and categorical under New Adult are romantic intrigue genre.  Therefore, New Adult = romantic intrigue books that have younger protagonists for women ages 18-26.  What happened to the coming-of-age topics?  What happened to the other flavors, the sci-fi, fantasy, historical, thriller, literary?  Between the imprint name and the marketing, what are publishers demonstrating about their opinion of the target audience?  Do they not trust young women to seek out and read quality literature?  Instead of simply encouraging them to read the good books that they want to, why do the publishers think the books have to be decked out in such a way for the target audience to choose to read them?  Why is there a stigma of guilt associated with either the content or the act of reading, such that publishers think it has to be disguised as something with stylish appearance?  

Why do we have to turn something that could have been good into basically permission-giving for people to read one particular sub-genre without guilt?

Of course, there are other arguments, both for and against New Adult.  For more on the discussion, check out:
http://dearauthor.com/features/letters-of-opinion/if-you-like-new-adult-books/
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/sep/10/new-adult-fiction
http://nymag.com/thecut/2012/09/new-adult-genre-is-misreading-its-audience.html
http://www.stackedbooks.org/2012/11/some-thoughts-on-new-adult-and-also.html
http://naalley.blogspot.com/p/about.html
http://cleareyesfullshelves.com/blog/the-new-adult-category-thoughts-questions.html
http://trishdoller.blogspot.com/2012/11/why-new-adult-isand-isnta-thing.html

Karen’s 2 Cents: How in the world could something categorized as ages 14 -17 be considered NEW ADULT? 14 year olds are not adults.

Shelf Talkers: The “C” Word in Teen Fiction

My Judy Blume fan.  Because Judy Blume “gets it”.

Several years ago my grandmother went to the ER and they opened her up and said they were sorry, but there was nothing they could do for her.  She had cancer and, because she didn’t know it was there, it was so advanced that in just a couple of months it took her from us.  It was quick and unexpected, but often cancer is not.  Sometimes it hangs over you for years

I met and began dating The Mr. when I was 18 years old.  On my 20th birthday we got engaged.  I met the man who would be my father-in-law exactly once.  He was at home in the midst of what would turn out to be an all to brief period of remission from lymphoma.  By the time we got engaged he had already passed away.

Many years later, my friend  (my mentor, my adopted mom) would call and tell me that she too had cancer.  Unlike the others in my life, she would survive (thank God and modern medicine).  She was fighting cancer at the same time that I laid on bed rest fighting HG and trying to make sure my baby made it into this world.  We would call each other and talk about what it was like to have fallen down the rabbit hole that our lives had become.  I am the librarian I am today, and the persona I am today, in large part because of what she taught me.  I am thankful every day that we both made it out of that rabbit hole.

These past few weeks I have spent wondering if cancer was once again going to touch my life.  The truth is, it touches all of our lives at one point or another.  Current statistics indicate that 1 out of 2 men and 1 out of 3 women will have cancer of some form.  Cancer touches us all.  I remember years ago watching the movie St. Elmo’s Fire and there was a scene around the dinner table where the mom whispered that another person had “cancer” (said in a tiny, tiny whisper).  And here we are just 20 years later and the word is so common, we no longer whisper it.  It is no longer the “C” word.  So today I thought I would share with you some of the best books out there about teens dealing with cancer in their lives.

As I was writing this post, my childhood favorite, Judy Blume, announced that she, too, was fighting cancer.  Thankfully, she is recovering well. All my good wishes go out to her.  Her books have touched millions of lives, including mine.  The other day I had a teen come in and ask where the Judy Blume books were.  She reads them, she says, because “Judy Blume gets it.”

Before I share some of the amazing works of teen fiction out there dealing with cancer, I want to encourage you to read this amazing piece of work by Katie1234 in Teen Ink called The Cancer Monolgue.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Hazel and Augustus are two teens struggling with cancer in a brilliant, touching story written in the master class by John Green.  Hazel and Augusts try to resist falling in love because they know what fate awaits them both, but sometimes the heart has its own ideas.  With snark, wit, wisdom and humor, Green tells their story and pulls at your heart strings in all the right ways.  This book has now spent months on the bestseller list so if you are one of the two people who hasn’t yet read it, you really should.

A Time for Dancing by Davida Wills Hurwin
Samantha and Julia have been best friends forever, bound together by their love of dance.  In the summer before their senior year they are poised for great things and ready to face the world head on.  But what they aren’t ready for is cancer.  Julia is diagnosed with incurable cancer.  A Time for Dancing is an older title, published in 1997, but it is a raw presentation of the anger and fear that comes from a cancer diagnosis.

Me, and Earl, and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Me, and Earl, and the Dying Girl is a book that has done a very rare thing: made me laugh out loud. Literally.  And yes, it is indeed a book about cancer via “the dying girl”.  Greg and Earl end up spending time with Rachel, who has leukemia.  They are not really friends. but Greg’s mom wants him to help Rachel.  Greg is used to flying below the social radar at school, but suddenly finds himself the center of more attention then he ever wanted.  The guffaws come courtesy of some baked goods laced with marijuana and their unexpected eaters.

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
Second Chance Summer is one of my favorite summer books of all time.  Matson perfectly captures the essence of summer in this story of Taylor Edwards whose father has been diagnosed with cancer.  In addition to all the touchstones, including summer love and rekindled friendships, SCS is a beautiful story of a relationship between daughter and father.  As you know, these types of relationships are rare in teen fiction, but Matson presents a rich and deep look at what it is like to spend what may be your last moments with someone you love and adore.  You will sob.

Deadline by Chris Crutcher
What would you do if you knew you only have a year to live?  How would you spend that last year?  That is the question that Ben Wolf faces.  Told in a way that only Chris Crutcher can tell it, Ben spends his final year trying to find a way to make his mark on the world.

If you have titles to share, please add them in the comments.

Best or Favorite? A look at the NPR “Best” Young Adult Novels list

I watch So You Think You Can Dance every week without fail.  Here is a show where you can call in and vote for your “favorite” dancer.  This favorite part is important, every year they make a point of making this distinction: it is not the best dancer, but your favorite.  Because that’s how voting works usually, it’s subjective.

Best implies perhaps the highest quality while favorite implies the most popular.  And, truthfully, if you are asking the people to vote you are going to end up with the most popular.  So when NPR puts out it’s list of the Best 100 Young Adult Novels that have been voted on by the public, what you are really getting is some combination of both the best and everyone’s favorites.

NPRs Best Young Adult Novels
http://www.npr.org/2012/08/07/157795366/your-favorites-100-best-ever-teen-novels
Did your favorites make the list?


One look at the list and you see the truth of this statement.  The Twilight series by Stephanie Meyers appears at number 27.  Had the vote been taken just a few years earlier, before it became fashionable to hate Twilight, I am sure it would have appeared in the top 10.  But still, in terms of quality of writing and storytelling, even 27 seems incredibly high when you compare it to some of the other books that made the list farther down – and some of those that didn’t make the list at all.  My favorite comment on Reddit: “List totally invalidated by the presence of Twilight.”

If you are on the Yalsa-bk listserv, then last week you saw a really informative post by author David Lubar.  He took a quick moment to do a Google search and found that many authors and fans actively campaigned for others to vote for their favorite books.  As someone who spends a lot of time on the Internet, this is not surprising to me at all.  But it does remind us all that the Internet voting is not a perfect mechanism for developing lists, unless of course your goal is popularity.  So perhaps if they had just changed what they called the list, not the “best” but “favorite”, it would have been an accurate statement.

I’ll be honest, I did not vote.  Not because I don’t care, I obviously care very much about teen literature, but because as soon as I realized the mechanism they were employing to create the list I realized that it would be a deeply flawed list.  Compare the idea of the NPR Best Young Adult Books list to the Teens Top 10s put together each year by Yalsa – and voted on by the public.  The Teens Top 10 list explicitly states that it is a “teens choice” list where teens nominate and then vote on their favorite books from the previous year.  You see the distinction there?  They aren’t saying they are the best, but that the teens declare these their favorites.  Semantics are important.

If you have looked at the NPR list you probably will have noticed what Debbie Reese, Laurie Halse Anderson and others have noticed: the list is incredibly white.  I mean super white.  There are only a couple of titles that have a main character that it a person of color. I won’t talk a lot about that because the previously mentioned people have covered it so well, but it is disappointing.  And not at all reflective of the literature that I see on my shelves.  Don’t get me wrong, I think there needs to be a lot more diversity on our library shelves, but this list totally neglects longstanding popular authors like Walter Dean Myers and Sharon Draper and Jacqueline Woodson.  In fact Monster by Walter Dean Myers is a groundbreaking – and award winning – book and definitely deserves to be on this list.

I haven’t seen it mentioned elsewhere, but the list also doesn’t seem to include many LGBTQ titles at all.  Where is Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan? How about Annie on My Mind?  A brief look at the list shows that it includes The Perks of Being a Wallflower (without a doubt an amazing read), Will Grayson Will Gryason and the Dangerous Angels series.  Is the lack of LGBTQ and POC titles representative of who votes, what we read, or what gets published?  Whatever the issue, it is clear that we need to work harder on reaching diversity goals.  (Side note: I actually think that the problem novel, one of the classic mainstays of young adult literature, is under represented on this list as well.  I know right now that fantasy and dystopian is super popular, but where are the problem novels?  Thankfully Speak made the list.)

My other question regarding this list would be around the voting mechanism, which I can’t actually speak about because as I mentioned, I didn’t vote.  But I would have loved for them to have kept track of the age of voters and created separate lists.  What does the list look like if only teens vote?  What does the list like if only librarians and educators vote?  What does the list look like if all adults – including educators and librarians – but no teen votes are counted?  It would be interesting to compare the various lists, and I suspect there would be some major differences.

And finally, I am interested in some of the titles that they classify as young adult.  To Kill a Mockingbird is without a doubt one of my favorite books and I would say one of the best books written, but is it young adult?  I would ask the same of The Lord of the Rings series?  Something can be popular with young adults but not be actually a young adult book.  We can all look back at what we read as a teen, and look at what our teens often read now, and recognize that a lot of teens like to read adult authors, which is cool.  Just because something is popular with young adults doesn’t mean that it is in fact a young adult novel.  Of course what, exactly, constitutes a young adult novel is probably the guts of an entirely different post and is further complicated by the introduction of the New Adult genre.

Overall, I think the list is a great starting place for new readers of young adult books to begin reading; it definitely is a good look at what is popular with my teens over the last few years.  As much as I love John Green, I would knock a couple of his books off the list – leaving The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska – and add some multicultural authors.  I was ecstatic to see the Delirium series and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children on the list.  I kind of felt that Miss Peregrine didn’t get the love that it deserved when it came out.  There is some good stuff on the list.  There is some fun stuff on the list (I LOVE the Gallagher girls series).  But is this list representative of THE BEST? I guess it depends on how we are defining the best.

So here’s my question to you: If we made the list again in 10 years, what titles from 2012 do you think will stand the test of time and make an appearance?  And what diversity titles do you think should have made the cut this year?
Also, what is the most surprising title on the list for you?  For me it is The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud.

Tuesday Top 10: Time Travel

Since we are talking about Mr. Was and time travel, I thought we should put today’s Top 10 list together: Time Travel books! So I’ll share my list of Top 10 Time Travel books for teens, then you share yours in the comments. And if you are really brave, share a day you would go back in time to change or fix or just relive because it was pure awesome.


Read what Pete Hautman has to say about writing Mr. Was.

“No matter what your reality looks like, you’re the girl I’m in love with today, and the same girl I’ll be in love with tomorrow and all the days after that. Not just because of who you are, but because of who you were. It’s all part of your story, Em. And I want to be a part of your story, too.”

And don’t forget the sequel, Timepiece
“Life’s all about the revolution, isn’t it? The one inside, I mean. You can’t change history. You can’t change the world. All you can ever change is yourself.” Jennifer Donnelly
“People think they own time. They have watches and clocks and digital pulses. But they are wrong. Time owns them. Caroline B. Cooney
“We all have such stories. It is a brutal arithmetic. But I I am alive. You are alive. As long as we breathe, we can see and hear. As long as we can remember, all those gone before are alive inside us.” Jane Yolen
“Wild nights are my glory,” the unearthly stranger told them. “I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me be on my way. Speaking of way, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract“. Madeleine L’Engle

First in the Time Quartet by Madeleine L’Engle


“I still think about the letter you asked me to write. It nags at me, even though you’re gone and there’s no one to give it to anymore. Sometimes I work on it in my head, trying to map out the story you asked me to tell, about everything that happened this past fall and winter. It’s all still there, like a movie I can watch when I want to. Which is never.” Rebecca Stead
“There is only one page left to write on. I will fill it with words of only one syllable. I love. I have loved. I will love.” Audrey Niffenegger

“You are one of the missing.” Margaret Peterson Haddix

Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix is the first book in The Missing series

“You are so . . . 11:59” Scott Westerfeld

The Midnighters series is not really about time travel, but it is about bending time and I love it so I am including it.

As for travelling back in time . . . I would love to go back in time and just hold my babies again as little babies. Or the day I cracked open the first Harry Potter book, that was a fun ride.

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.

I am a huge believer in Intellectual Freedom.  I believe that authors have the right to tell their stories the way they feel they need to be told; it is their character and they have a right to give them the voice that feels authentic to them.  That doesn’t mean I have to like it, it means that I have to make it available and allow my patrons to make decisions for themselves.

As a parent, I can’t help but notice that faux-swearing has even invaded my tween television time.  The cast of iCarly spend a lot of time saying “shiz” or “chiz” or however they might spell it.  So here’s what I do as a parent: I either decide I am okay with it, I talk to my child about it, or I ban the show in my home.  Or some combination of the above.  I think whether you continue to watch the show or not, you have to have the conversation about what you view to be acceptable as language in your home.  If I took a moment, I could really evaluate every show we watch and tell you something that I find objectionable: Sam is mean to Freddy, Alex is a disrespectful slacker in Wizards (now over), Squidward is mean . . . I could go on, but you get the point.  This is where parenting is an active process: I watch TV with my children and we talk about it.  I read books with my children and we talk about it.  Sometimes topics come up that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to talk about otherwise, I wouldn’t think to.  That is part of the value of reading.

For example, my tween and I have had a lot of discussions about the way that Sam acts on iCarly, specifically how she acts towards Freddy.  You see, she hits him a lot and it is played for laughs – except I can’t help but feel that if the situation were reversed, if he were hitting her, there would be a huge outcry.  To me, it is not okay.  Any type of abuse between two people is never okay and I don’t appreciate the implication that it is a source of humor and I worry that it may send the wrong message to young viewers.  But again, I talk to my tween about it.  That’s my job as a parent.

So back to swearing.  As I read these various teen books, the question I always ask my self is this: is it organic to the story, to the character?  You see, books have to be about SOMETHING, and they are often about teen characters struggling with real life issues and whether we like it or not, teens cuss.  A lot in fact.  And sometimes, when you are hurting or angry, profanity is a good way to express the high emotions that teens feel because those words have known power and meaning.  Hurting people call the people who hurt them a bitch precisely because it has the known cutting power that they need in that moment.  When it comes to stroytelling, characters have to choose the words they need to convey their emotion in context of their setting and culture.  We don’t have to like it, but profanity is part of contemporary culture.  In fact, I think the F word is one of the few remaining words you still can’t hear on prime time television.

I was personally amazed when watching a special on Whitney Houston on Lifetime television and they kept showing an ad for an upcoming movie on Drew Peterson. Right there in the ad Rob Lowe said, “I’m unstoppable bitch.”  In an ad.  I understood why they had chosen that clip, it packed a wollop and conveyed their message in the 30 seconds that they had to do it.  Like I said, if our tv characters aren’t actually swearing, they are fauxswearing.  Is there really any difference?  The intent is definitely the same.

If we want teens to read, they have to have access to books that speak to them.  We can pretend that teens don’t cuss and present them with squeaky clean fiction – but they will immediately cast it aside because it’s not real to them.  This is especially true for those teens growing up in homes that we can’t imagine or in the inner cities. And of course the truth is that however we may feel about certain words, not all parents feel the same.  To be honest, I grew up in a home where my parents didn’t care about cussing as long as I didn’t direct it at them.  If I should make the mistake of cussing out my mom, well, the soap was coming out.  Otherwise, they were just words.

I think if we want teens to read, we have to respect the diversity of lifestyles that exist out there.  They are not all growing up in cookie cutter homes.  Just like the rest of the population, there is a tremendous diversity in how they live and love and think and feel and, yes, speak.  Our collections must reflect this diversity.  We must also remember that part of the value in reading is in helping the teens understand lives outside their own and develop empathy; thus, teens step into the shoes of main characters different from them and experience what it is like to grow up in homes and communities different than their own.

I understand the parental desire to protect your children, I also understand the value of engaging with your teen and helping them to see and understand that the world is a complex place full of a wide variety of people having a wide variety of experiences – some that we couldn’t even imagine.  As we talk to our teens about this, they develop the tools they need to live and thrive in a world that isn’t black and white but full of complex shades of gray.  I think, too, we have to respect our teens and recognize that if a book doesn’t feel right to them, they will stop reading it.  When we respect our teens and value them by providing thoughtful, well rounded collections, we all win.

It’s also important to remember that when we are talking about teens, we are talking about a huge age group: anywhere from around 12 up through 18 years of age.  So when I am working with teens or parents, I always tell them to look at the books before they check them out and note the age of the characters; middle school characters are going to talk the way middle school students do and deal with middle school issues and high school characters are going to talk the way high school characters do and deal with high school issues for the most part.

So what do you think, is there too much profanity in teen fiction?

More:
Research: more swearing in teen novels than video games
Spark Life: Is there too much swearing in teen fiction?
What teens may be learning from swearing in teen fiction
Daily Kos: Rich, beautifyl and popular, fould mouthed characters in teen books have it all
Cursing: Not just for sailors anymore
Censorship