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A Recap of the HOPE NATION Launch Event at Irving Public Library – and a GIVEAWAY

 Hope is a decision, but it is a hard one to recognize in the face of oppression, belittlement, alienation, and defeat. To help embolden hope, here is a powerhouse collection of essays and letters that speak directly to teens and all YA readers. Featuring Marie Lu, James Dashner, Gayle Forman, David Levithan, Julie Murphy, Jeff Zentner, Renee Ahdieh, and many more!

“Hope is a decision, but it is a hard one to recognize in the face of oppression, belittlement, alienation, and defeat. To help embolden hope, here is a powerhouse collection of essays and letters that speak directly to teens and all YA readers. Featuring Marie Lu, James Dashner, Gayle Forman, David Levithan, Julie Murphy, Jeff Zentner, Renee Ahdieh, and many more!”

Yesterday The Teen and I attended the HOPE NATION launch party at Irving Public Library. One of her best friends, a big reader and also the daughter of a YA librarian, was there with us as well. We were excited to learn more about this anthology, get copies signed, and to hear the authors share their stories. Here is a recap of that event with some of the Tweets I sent out as I live Tweeted.

Read TLTer Amanda MacGregory’s Review Here:

Book Review: Hope Nation: YA Authors Share Personal Moments of Inspiration

And yes, The Teen did wear her favorite fuzzy pink slippers to the event to meet some of her favorite authors. We kid her about them, but I also love that she is who she is, likes what she likes, and just goes with it. I think they also make a fun juxtaposition to her frequent all black wardrobe.

The panel consisted of authors Ally Carter, Julie Murphy and Angie Thomas! These are three of the contributors to the HOPE NATION anthology. And the first question was editor Rose Brock asking why they agreed to be a part of this anthology.

Texas woman taps popular young adult authors in new book for teens

As a librarian who works at a small town library with a high rate of teen poverty, I am always glad to see stories set in rural areas that reflect rural and small town poverty.

The panelists were then asked what their stories are about. Ally Carter talked about wanting to be a famous writer and getting out of her small town. Julie Murphy talked about how they lost their home her senior year of high school and the concept of having a home and having the concept of home in your heart. Angie Thomas talked about wanting to give hope back to all of the readers who had given her hope and helped to make her dreams come true.

 

When it was opened up to audience questions, an audience member asked Angie Thomas how she should respond to parents who objected to The Hate U Give being offered in schools.

A second audience question and the audience member asked how we could get guys to read these books when there are girls on the covers. The audience member also suggested that these books needed different covers without girls on the covers to appeal to male readers.

All of the panelists did a great job of discussing how we needed adult males to help break down the barriers and stereotypes about reading “girl books”. Ally Carter shared a story about a male librarian who had booktalked The Gallagher Girl series to his school and he had emailed her to say it was the most popular book series at his all guy school. This was an example of men doing the work and challenging cultural norms and stereotypes.

At the end of the event the authors did a signing and The Teen got copies of several books signed for herself and we got a copy of the first Gallagher Girls book signed for Thing 2 (she’s almost old enough now for this series!). And, guess what? I got all the panelists to sign a copy of HOPE NATION to give away here to you all. So just do the Rafflecopter thing by Friday, March 2nd at Midnight to be entered to win a copy of HOPE NATION signed by Rose Brock, Ally Carter, Julie Murphy and Angie Thomas. Open to U.S. residents only please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Take 5: Five Reasons You Should Read THE 57 BUS by Dashka Slater, seriously right now

I don’t typically read a lot of nonfiction, but I was blown away by The 57 Bus, which I stumbled onto by accident. I’m part of a book club and this Christmas, we played some book exchange game where everyone brought a book and we traded and what not. The 57 Bus was hands down the book that everyone was fighting over, the premise is that compelling. I didn’t go home with the book that night, by the way. It was stolen right out of my hands. But they let me borrow it and I read it and wow! I have thought about, talked about, and recommended this book a lot since reading it.

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The 57 Bus is narrative nonfiction that tells the true story of an agender teen, Sasha, who rode the 57 bus home every day. One day, on that bus, three teen boys are being obnoxious jerks and Richard takes a lighter to Sasha’s skirts and seems surprised when it goes up in flames. The remainder of the story discusses Sasha’s recovery and the court case surrounding Richard. It’s a remarkable story about identity, choices, consequences and, in the end, forgiveness.

In the midst, there are a lot of informational tidbits thrown in that I think everyone who values, raises, or works with teens should read.

1. Gender and Sexual Identity

Sasha does not identify as male or female and considers themselves to be agender. Sasha’s preferred pronouns are they/them. I am not going to lie, I what my friend calls “an old” AND I come from a conservative Christian background, so trying to think differently about the gender binary is challenging. And although I have teens and adult friends that identify as asexual or aromantic, I continue to grapple with what these terms mean and put them into context into what I thought I knew about the world and the people who populate it. The 57 Bus has one of the best, most straightforward discussions about what various terms on the GLBTQ spectrum mean. In addition, seeing how Sasha’s parents and the community respond to Sasha is a very educational experience. In my library, we have a lot of teens who identify as being on the GLBTQAI+ spectrum and this discussion is helpful in understanding what those various labels mean.

2. The Teenage Brain

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Part of my job is knowing and understanding adolescent development. One thing we know is that the teen brain is very different from the adult brain. Teens don’t make the same decisions that adults would make because their brains are literally wired different. The 57 Bus has one of the best discussions of those differences and what that means that I have ever read. If you work with teens, you need to read this chapter alone just to help get a deeper understanding of why teens think and act differently, and why they make decisions that make absolutely no sense to adults. Teens are not mini-adults, and understanding the teenage brain is imperative in being able to serve them.

3. Adolescent Justice

It is no secret that the United States has one of the highest rates of incarceration in the world. At a previous library I worked there was a local juvenile detention center and I worked with that detention center in various ways to provide services and materials to those teens. The 57 Bus really challenges the idea of trying teens as adults given what we know about the adolescent brain. It posits the question: given what we know about the development of the teenage brain, can we justify trying teenagers for their crimes as adults?

4. Forgiveness

Throughout the story of The 57 Bus is a discussion about forgiveness and reconciliation. Sasha’s family is approached by a group that wants to lead them through the reconciliation process with Richard. Richard himself writes several letters to Sasha asking for forgiveness. In the end, Sasha’s family chooses to speak on Richard’s behalf, despite the overwhelming pain and suffering that Sasha has undergone. Even if you don’t agree with the ideas presented, it’s an interesting point of view to sit with.

5. Awards

The 57 Bus is now an award-winning book, having won a Stonewall Book Award at the 2018 Youth Media Awards recently announced. It was also honored with a YALSA AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN NONFICTION FOR YOUNG ADULTS. It deserves these awards, it’s that good.

The 57 Bus also features teachers being awesome, a look at complex family dynamics, friendship and more. The teens in this story also create their own game which is one of my favorite things ever. I just highly recommend this book.

YALLFEST Recap by Michelle Biwer

I had the pleasure of attending YALLFest a few weeks ago in Charleston, South Carolina. YALLFest is the largest Young Adult literature festival in the US, featuring over 70 Young Adult authors and numerous publishers.

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I had a blast at this conference for a few reasons:

  1. ALL YALLFest events are out in the city of Charleston, not cooped up in a convention center.
  2. YALLFest is open to the public, so in addition to networking with teen librarians I met a lot of teens and their parents and talked to them about their favorite authors. Even though I’m a teen librarian, I don’t usually get to spend much time just chatting to teens from all over different parts of the country about books so that was a valuable perk!
  3. YALLFest is mostly free! There were a couple keynote events that required a small fee but other than that, really truly free! This definitely added to the fun and diversity of the event-a bunch of folks just stumbled across author signings and talks with their kids while walking downtown and just joined in the action.

On Day 1 I attended “YALLCrawl,” a Friday afternoon book signing extravaganza as well as a special event featuring Marissa Meyer and other authors hosted by the “Fierce Reads” imprint.

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Day 2 was jam packed with educational panels and author meetups. First thing in the morning I waited in line to meet Maggie Stiefvater, and during an author breakfast event was given a chocolate doughnut by none other than fabulous YA author and editor David Levithan. I attended a variety of panels throughout the day–some focused on genre literature, how to love/criticize problematic work, and creating worlds. What I valued most about the conference lineup was that there were a lot of diverse authors invited, and they weren’t pigeonholed into a “diversity panel.” Instead, every panel lineup I saw was diverse and thoughtful about the importance of representation in YA literature. And of course because YALLFest is truly great and speaks to my soul, the day ended with the only YA author rock band in the world performing a Hamilton cover.

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Panelists: Veronica Roth, Leigh Bardugo, Sabaa Tahir, Renée Ahdieh, Stephanie Garber, and Victoria Aveyard

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YALLFest really was a great conference but like any large event there were a few issues that affected my experience. Some miscommunications about events were kindly resolved by staff. I just hope it gets expanded from 1 ½ to 2 full days! There was so much to see and very long lines not just for author signings, but even just to get to an ARC at a publisher’s booth. This was compounded by the vast and somewhat ingenious number of teens with parents sitting in lines for them so they could attend other things.

I very much hope to attend again in the future-and if you aren’t on the east coast check out YALLFest’s sister festival, YALLWest.

New Releases and Mini Reviews: Little & Lion, The Bakersville Dozen, and The Epic Crush of Genie Lo

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Today is a good day for book releases, as apparently all the recent books I have chosen to read release today. Is it fate? Destiny? Hard to say. Let’s dive right in, shall we.

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

august83Two step-siblings who were closer than close are reunited after one, Little (the female) spends a year in boarding school so that her step sibling, Lion (the male), can figure out how to deal with his bipolar disorder. At first the two of them deal with tension as they try to navigate who they are now after a year apart and the secrets they are both keeping, but as everything starts to unravel they have to learn to face their various truths.

There’s a bit of every aspect of teen life in this one: friendship, family, siblings, identity (both racial/ethnic and sexuality including frank discussions of bi and pansexuality), mental health, sex, teen, pregnancy, abortion, feminism, drinking and drug use, consent and more. It is in many ways the most authentically fleshed out and inclusive YA book I have ever read. There are a few brief moments where the character’s get a little didactic in how they talk about these various subjects, but it almost has to in order to make sure that the reader fully understands the topic at hand. For example, many readers may be unaware of the difference between bi and pansexuality and the discussion helps flesh out the concepts for the reader. There are moments in this book where teens clearly make bad decisions, sometimes even acknowledging that they are making bad decisions and then going on to make them anyway, and we see the ultimate results of those decisions. It’s a thoughtful look at the very real complexity of teen life with a respectful tone and engaging story. Brandy Colbert is a fantastic author and really does a good job of telling this story and diving into these issues.

The Bakersville Dozen by Kristina McBride

bakersvilledozenWhen compromising videos of several – a dozen to be exact – students go viral, life is not the same for the students in this Ohio high school. Then one of the Bakersville Dozen goes missing. Soon, a note is found with a challenge: find five trophies, follow the rules or everyone dies. It’s a macabre scavenger hunt full of twists and turns that you won’t see coming. Kristina McBride is a good author who deals with issues like online bullying, friendship, rivalries, broken relationships and more in the pages of this mystery thriller. Every step of the way you’re shouting to the teens, no don’t go into the basement and please call the police – which of course they can’t do or else we don’t have a story. And what a story it is.

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F. C. Lee

august81Genie thought she was just a regular girl trying to get into a good college, until the Monkey King shows up and she discovers that she is a celestial being with a destiny to fight demons. Things get complicated – and snarky. For those of us old enough to know what this means, it definitely has a Buffy the Vampire Slayer feel to it in both storytelling and vibe, but has some unique twists in that it is steeped in Chinese culture and folklore. For the younger crowd, think Shadowhunters with a Chinese folklore infusion. I was not familiar with the legend of the Monkey King and found this story to be both entertaining and enlightening. It’s a fun read and that is high praise indeed. We need more flat out fun reads and this fits the bill.

About the Books

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

A stunning novel on love, loss, identity, and redemption, from Publishers Weekly Flying Start author Brandy Colbert

When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she isn’t sure if she’ll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (along with her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support.

But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for someone new…the same girl her brother is in love with. When Lionel’s disorder spirals out of control, Suzette is forced to confront her past mistakes and find a way to help her brother before he hurts himself–or worse.

The Bakersville Dozen by Kristina McBride

You have four days to locate five treasured trophies. Break the rules and you all die. Happy hunting!

Back in September, the town of Bakersville, Ohio made national news when a video went viral featuring thirteen of the high school’s elite in compromising positions. Now it’s May, and every month since the “Bakersville Dozen” made their infamous appearance on the national stage, one girl has gone missing. Officials are no closer to identifying the criminal.

Bailey “Like a Virgin” Holzman is getting really fed up with the scrutiny. She just wants to enjoy the rest of her senior year and have an epic summer before heading off to college. So when she discovers a note in her locker on the last day of school inviting her on a scavenger hunt, she thinks it’s just a sweet surprise from her boyfriend trying to cheer her up.

But following the clue leads her, instead, to the first official casualty. And another sinister envelope. The killer is close, and it could be anyone. Even the people Bailey’s always trusted most—her best friend, her perfect boyfriend, or the boy-next-door she’s always pined for.

With the clock ticking, she faces a terrifying choice: play the game by the killer’s rules—follow the clues, tell no one, and no cops—for a chance to save the rest of the missing girls, or risk becoming the next grisly victim.

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F. C. Lee

The struggle to get into a top-tier college consumes sixteen-year-old Genie Lo’s every waking thought. But when her sleepy Bay Area town comes under siege from hell-spawn straight out of Chinese folklore, her priorities are suddenly and forcefully rearranged.

Her only guide to the demonic chaos breaking out around her is Quentin Sun, a beguiling, maddening new transfer student from overseas. Quentin assures Genie she is strong enough to fight these monsters, for she unknowingly harbors an inner power that can level the very gates of Heaven.

Genie will have to dig deep within herself to summon the otherworldly strength that Quentin keeps talking about. But as she does, she finds the secret of her true nature is entwined with his, in a way she could never have imagined… (Amulet Books, 9781419725487)

Take 5: Using YA Lit to Talk Government, Power, Politics, Corruption and More (An #SJYALit Book List)

A few years ago, I believe it was Cory Doctorow who Tweeted that no one discusses politics in literature anymore. Which struck me, at the time, as an odd statement because it was the height of YA Dystopian, which arguably is all about power and politics. It could also have been someone other then Cory Doctorow, for the record, I’ve just always remembered the tweet as being from him, and we all know that memory is a trickster god.

But since then, I have often read books with that tweet in the background of my mind, unconsciously noting books that I thought fit the bill. And now, more then ever, it seems particularly important that books talk about politics. I’m not just talking about the 2016 election, I’m talking about the way the North Carolina GOP just in effect executed a coup by stripping the incoming Democratic governor of any real power. Of the way our elected representatives remain silent about the fact that 17 intelligence agencies have stated that Russia has had undo influence on our recent government and election. Of the way that legislators just quietly made the investigation into Flint go away or the way that Governor Kasich of Ohio just signed a bill making it illegal for local governments to raise the minimum wage. I’m talking about the fact that we go into the next administration with effectively no checks and balances because for the first time in years all three arms of our federal government are now in the control of only one political party, thanks in no small part to things like gerrymandering and the repeal of voter rights acts.

Now more then ever – although we can argue that it is in fact too late – we need to be talking about politics and democracy and government with our teens. In fact, in the next presidential election, my teen will be able to vote. So we talk about it.  We read about it. And here are 5 books and series that I recommend to get teens reading and thinking about power, politics, government, corruption and more.

This is Our Story by Ashley Elston

In a small town, a group of privileged, elite teen boys goes hunting. One of them does not come back. Because of power and influence, the case of the River Point Five is given to a district attorney with the expectation that he will lose. But Kate Marino is an intern that works for him and she challenges him to pursue justice and the truth, so he does. This is a compelling read that shows you how guilty people go free and the innocent can go to jail for crimes they didn’t commit. Overall, it’s a good read. My only quibble with the book is that this intelligent and driven teenage girl compromises things because she “falls in love” with one of the suspects, which is annoying, but it’s still a powerful look at the themes being discussed. The Teen also read this book because she said, I really want to read a mystery and so I handed her this book, here’s what she thought:

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The Fixer series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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Tess Kendrick finds out that her sister is not who she seems to be, in a lot of ways. Her sister is, in fact, a fixer. This means that she covers up the dirt in Washington. Scandals disappear, murders look like suicides, and more as we get an inside look at how people in power scheme, make power plays, and manipulate what the public sees and thinks about people and politics. I’ve read books 1 and 2 in this series and they are so good. Also, book 2 gives you a real sucker punch to the gut. Because this is Jennifer Lynn Barnes these are fun and engaging reads, but there are also strong female leads, meaningful conversations about important topics, and a lot of good quips. It’s interesting to note that some people in politics are called “King Makers” because it is said that they have the power to make and break kings. You’ll definitely want to check this series out. The Teen read and loves this book as well.

Publisher’s Book description:

This thriller YA is Scandal meets Veronica Mars.

Sixteen-year-old Tess Kendrick has spent her entire life on her grandfather’s ranch. But when her estranged sister Ivy uproots her to D.C., Tess is thrown into a world that revolves around politics and power. She also starts at Hardwicke Academy, the D.C. school for the children of the rich and powerful, where she unwittingly becomes a fixer for the high school set, fixing teens’ problems the way her sister fixes their parents’ problems.

And when a conspiracy surfaces that involves the family member of one of Tess’s classmates, love triangles and unbelievable family secrets come to light and life gets even more interesting—and complicated—for Tess.

Perfect for fans of Pretty Little Liars and Heist Society, readers will be clamoring for this compelling teen drama with a political twist.

Embassy Row series by Ally Carter

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Grace Blakely goes to live on Embassy Row with her grandfather, a place where politics is everything. Here, families from countries all over live in close proximity to one another and how you act, where you go, and what you say matters – the slightest misstep could start a new war. It is here that Grace begins to learn more about her mother’s murder. It is also here that Grace begins to learn more about politics, power and corruption. On the one level, these are just teens who want to do the things that teenagers do, but they can’t just be teens because their actions have never had so much consequence. I love both The Heist Society and the Gallagher Girls series, and this one does not disappoint.

Publisher’s Book Description

A new series of global proportions — from master of intrigue, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Ally Carter.

Grace Blakely is absolutely certain of three things:

1. She is not crazy.
2. Her mother was murdered.
3. Someday she is going to find the killer and make him pay.

As certain as Grace is about these facts, nobody else believes her — so there’s no one she can completely trust. Not her grandfather, a powerful ambassador. Not her new friends, who all live on Embassy Row. Not Alexei, the Russian boy next door, who is keeping his eye on Grace for reasons she neither likes nor understands.

Everybody wants Grace to put on a pretty dress and a pretty smile, blocking out all her unpretty thoughts. But they can’t control Grace — no more than Grace can control what she knows or what she needs to do. Her past has come back to hunt her . . . and if she doesn’t stop it, Grace isn’t the only one who will get hurt. Because on Embassy Row, the countries of the world stand like dominoes, and one wrong move can make them all fall down.

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

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Monsters are real. In fact, monsters are born out of our violence. Two opposing cities sit near each other, in the midst of a delicate truce. But there are unseen things in place that are working to upset that delicate truce. There are factions that seek to force the other party to break the truce so that a war can be declared and the monsters can reign supreme. I love this book. I love how it takes the mythology of monsters and makes it something new, I love how it puts our humanity next to the monsters and asks us to question which one is truly evil, and I love the way it takes this really creative premise and uses it to examine power and corruption in politics.

Publisher’s Book Description

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan

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A luxury yacht is gone, and there are very few survivors. Some people want to hide the truth of what happened – and why. Frances Mace knows the truth, and there are some people who will go to any length to keep her silent. I picked up this book because I am a fan of Ryan’s zombie series, and I was surprised by this book; It was the first book I read on this list and it made me go hmmm, that’s a really interesting look at the world of political influence for teens. So I end this list by the first book that got me compiling this list in my head. I know there are others, so what titles do you recommend? Please add yours in the comments. I think it’s really important that we get teens reading books like these and thinking about what’s happening behind the scenes in their local, state and federal government.

Publisher’s Book Description

I’m the daughter of murdered parents.
I’m the friend of a dead girl.
I’m the lover of my enemy.
And I will have my revenge.

In the wake of the devastating destruction of the luxury yacht Persephone, just three souls remain to tell its story—and two of them are lying. Only Frances Mace knows the terrifying truth, and she’ll stop at nothing to avenge the murders of everyone she held dear. Even if it means taking down the boy she loves and possibly losing herself in the process.

Sharp and incisive, Daughter of Deep Silence by bestselling author Carrie Ryan is a deliciously smart revenge thriller that examines perceptions of identity, love, and the lengths to which one girl is willing to go when she thinks she has nothing to lose.

P.S., Cory Doctorow is, of course, a great author that you should be reading on this topic as well.

Finding an Authentic Teenage Voice, a guest post by author Amy S. Foster

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One of the main reasons that I wrote The Rift Uprising was because I felt like the label ‘Young Adult’ had become a bit of a misnomer. The first YA novel I ever read was Judy Blume’s Forever. Forever IS NOT Are You There God It’s Me Margaret? It deals with very mature themes, tackling them relentlessly, head on, without toning anything down. As an author I took my cues from her. As a fan of Judy Blume’s, I related so much to the books she wrote throughout the various years of my childhood and adolescence. Her female protagonists acted and sounded like me and my friends. Today, YA skews much younger. There’s plenty out there for thirteen year olds, but, for seventeen year olds, there seems to be a gap.

Using a dystopian or fantastical setting has given authors a way around this problem. When kids are living in a world entirely of the writer’s design, where there are no cell phones or snap chat, the character’s vernacular changes and while I love those worlds, I wanted to do something different. I wanted to create this secret, hidden world in the present where young people are living extraordinary lives when everyone else around them is going about their business like normal people do. I wanted them to sound like actual teenagers regardless of their circumstances.

I couldn’t have done this without the input of my teenage daughters and their friends. I thought I knew what was cool. I thought, yeah, sure I’m old(er!) but I’m not old. I know what’s up. Spoiler Alert…I don’t know what’s up. I had no idea for example, that my daughters and their friends never email. Why would they? When they could text or Face Time or Snap an expression on their faces instead of writing anything at all? I had my older daughter vet every bit of dialogue I wrote. She would tell me, yeah, that’s good or NO WAY! NO TEENAGER WOULD EVER SAY THAT! This to me was invaluable. It was great to have something to talk about with my kid but it was also great to create characters who I think are genuine and authentic young people. I hear it time and time again in the reviews for The Rift Uprising“These people sound like me.” It’s such a compliment.

However, taking this route means that there is swearing. It means there is dark humor. It means talking a lot about sex. It also means that there isn’t a ton of empathy. Empathy doesn’t always come naturally for teens. So, I had to balance this out. I had to find a way to make my characters self-involved, but still willing to make sacrifices. I had to give them a touch of narcissism while still having steadfast loyalty. I think this is why my book is in the adult sci-fi section instead of the YA one. It pushes a lot of envelops. Still, I wish, as I’m sure many of you out there do too, that the “New Adult” category extended beyond romance. I would be so thrilled if there was New Adult Sci-Fi, New Adult Fantasy, New Adult Thriller. It would be so much easier and so great for those older teens who are looking for books they can truly identify with.

MORE ABOUT THE RIFT UPRISING

Normal seventeen-year-old girls go to high school, binge watch TV shows all weekend, and flirt with everyone on the face of the Earth. But Ryn Whitaker is trying to save it.

Ryn is a Citadel. A soldier. A liar. Ryn and her fellow Citadels were specially chosen and trained to guard a Rift—one of fourteen unpredictable tears in the fabric of the universe that serve as doorways to alternate Earths. Unbeknownst to her family, Ryn leaves for school each day and then reports for duty as an elite, cybernetically-altered soldier who can run faster, jump farther, and fight better than a Navy SEAL—which comes in handy when she’s not sure if axe-wielding Vikings or any number of other terrified and often dangerous beings come through the Rift. A fine-tuned weapon, Ryn is a picture-perfect Citadel. But that’s all about to change.

When a young man named Ezra is pulled through the Rift, Ryn finds herself immediately drawn to him, despite her training. What starts as a physical attraction quickly grows deeper, and Ezra’s curiosity throws Ryn off balance when he starts questioning the Rifts, the mysterious organization that oversees them, and the Citadels themselves—questions that lead Ryn to wonder if the lies she’s been telling her family are just the surface of a much bigger lie told to her. As Ryn and Ezra desperately try to get to that truth, they discover that each revelation blurs the line between the villains and the heroes even more.

ABOUT AMY S. FOSTER

Amy S. Foster is a celebrated songwriter, best known as Michael Bublé’s writing partner. You might recognize her work in his four hit singles, including “Home” and “Haven’t Met You Yet.” She has also collaborated with Destiny’s Child, Diana Krall, Andrea Bocelli, Josh Groban and a host of other artists. She is also the author of the novel When Autumn Leaves. When she’s not in a studio in Nashville, Amy lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family. Amy is the daughter of singer B.J. Cook and the legendary music producer, David Foster. Fun fact about Amy: Her extended family tree includes Bella and Gigi Hadid, Sara and Erin Foster and Brody and Brandon Jenner, and Clay Aiken! The Rift Uprising, her YA debut, will be released on October 4, 2016.
Brianna Robinson
Wunderkind PR
brianna@wunderkind-pr.com
www.wunderkind-pr.com

#NastyWomenRead

justagirlDuring the 3rd and final debate, Republican nominee Donald Trump called Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman”. Many women have remarked that this is the sexism that powerful women face on a daily basis. If being a strong, confident and powerful woman makes you a “nasty woman”, what YA lit books would a “nasty woman” read I wondered. So I asked my friends on Twitter. So here is a list of recommended YA lit titles for “nasty women” to read. You can add your own recommendations in the comments.

nastywomenread book list

Take 5: YA Lit Titles for Makers and MakerSpaces

Collection development is an active process in which I, like all librarians, actively seek to build balanced collections of all types of books. Because we have an active and popular Teen MakerSpace, one of the things I actively look for are “maker” related books. These can be books that include any type of maker related activity, including djing and music production, coding, hacking, robotics, film making and more. Here are 5 new (and newish) books that somehow relate to the concept of making.

Dotwav by Mike A. Lancaster

dotwavPublisher’s Book Description

Fifteen-year-old Ani Lee is a skilled hacker researching a strange .wav file that she’s downloaded when it behaves as no file ever should.

Joe Dyson is a seventeen-year-old American transplant recruited into secret teen division of the British intelligence service who’s looking into the disappearance of a friend caught up in an underground music scene that might be more than it appears.

When Ani and Joe’s investigations intertwine, they discover that the .wav file and the music are linked—someone’s embedding the file into tracks to create a mind-controlled teen army.

But who’s behind it? And why? And how do you stop a sound? (Sky Pony Press, September 2016)

Karen’s Thoughts

If you love books where teens act as spies or secret agents, this book is for you. It is also a fascinating look at how technology can be combined with music production to . . . what exactly? Control populations? Subvert? Like I said, fascinating. Lancaster writes interesting premises, and given the leaps and bounds being made with technology these days they terrify as well as fascinate. Also, there is a female hacker in this book (whom I adore) and this would be a good companion novel with the Find Me series by Romily Bernard, which also features a female hacker.

Titans by Victoria Scott

titansPublishers Book Description

Ever since the Titans first appeared in her Detroit neighborhood, Astrid Sullivan’s world has revolved around the mechanical horses. She and her best friend have spent countless hours watching them and their jockeys practice on the track. It’s not just the thrill of the race. It’s the engineering of the horses and the way they’re programmed to seem so lifelike. The Titans are everything that fascinates Astrid, and nothing she’ll ever touch.

She hates them a little, too. Her dad lost everything betting on the Titans. And the races are a reminder of the gap between the rich jockeys who can afford the expensive machines to ride, and the working class friends and neighbors of Astrid’s who wager on them.

But when Astrid’s offered a chance to enter an early model Titan in this year’s derby, well, she decides to risk it all. Because for a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, it’s more than a chance at fame or money. Betting on herself is the only way she can see to hang on to everyone in the world she cares about. (Scholastic, February 2016)

Karen’s Thoughts

Teenage girls that build mechanical creatures to race while smashing the patriarchy? Why yes please. I loved so much about this book from premise to characters, and it is the most classicly maker feeling book on the list. From problem solving to hands on building, this book is maker culture on full display.

Replica by Lauren Oliver

replicaPublishers Book Description

Gemma has been in and out of hospitals since she was born. ‘A sickly child’, her lonely life to date has revolved around her home, school and one best friend, Alice. But when she discovers her father’s connection to the top secret Haven research facility, currently hitting the headlines and under siege by religious fanatics, Gemma decides to leave the sanctuary she’s always known to find the institute and determine what is going on there and why her father’s name seems inextricably linked to it.

Amidst the frenzy outside the institute’s walls, Lyra – or number 24 as she is known as at Haven – and a fellow experimental subject known only as 72, manage to escape. Encountering a world they never knew existed outside the walls of their secluded upbringing , they meet Gemma and, as they try to understand Haven’s purpose together, they uncover some earth-shattering secrets that will change the lives of both girls forever… (Harper Collins, October 2016)

Karen’s Thoughts

Full disclosure, I haven’t finished reading this one to completion yet. But put this on your list of suggested reads for Strange Things fans. Also full disclosure, I’m a big Lauren Oliver fan.

Gamescape by Emma Trevayne

gamescapePublishers Book Description

The planet is dying. Centuries of abuse have damaged the earth beyond repair, and now all the authorities can do is polish the surface, make the landscape look pretty to hide the disease within. Two prominent yet mysterious businessmen couldn’t fix it, either, but they did something even better. Together, they invented Chimera, the most complex and immersive virtual reality video game the world has ever known. The Cubes in which Chimera is played quickly became a fixture of this landscape: part distraction, part hospital, and almost wholly responsible for holding up the failing world economy.

Miguel Anderson is also dying. He isn’t the only one who plays the game–everybody does–but Miguel has more reason than most: When players leave their Cubes for the day, the upgrades and enhancements they’ve earned for their virtual characters leave with them. New lungs to breathe poisoned air, skin that won’t burn under the sun are great and everything… but Miguel, born as broken as the earth, needs a new heart–and soon–if he wants any hope of surviving just a little longer.

Then the two Gamerunners announce a competition, with greater rewards and faster progression than ever before, and Miguel thinks his prayers have been answered. All he needs to do is get picked to lead a team, play the game he’s spent years getting good at, and ask for his prize when he wins. Simple, really.

At first, things seem to go according to plan. Mostly, anyway. Inside his Cube, with his new team–including his best friend–at his back, Miguel begins his quest. He plays recklessly, even dangerously, for someone whose most vital organ could give up at any moment, but his desperation makes him play better than ever. The eyes of the world are on him, watching through status updates and live feeds, betting on his chances. With greater rewards, though, come greater risks, and the Gamerunners seem to delight at surprising the competitors at every turn. As he ventures deeper into a world that blends the virtual and the real to an unsettling degree, Miguel begins to wonder just why the game was invented at all, and whether its stakes could be even higher than life and death. (Greenwillow, September 2016)

Karen’s Thoughts

I haven’t read this yet, but gaming, game design and coding are all very popular topics with teens in my Teen MakerSpace. For more video game related reads, check out this list.

Boy Robot by Simon Curtis

boyrobotPublishers Book Description

Boy Robot is the first in a planned science fiction trilogy that follows a group of synthetic cell human teens with special abilities as they fight against the government organization that created them and now wants to destroy them. (Simon Pulse, November 2016)

Karen’s Thoughts

On my TBR list

Have some other titles to add to my list? I would love for you to drop me a comment. I’m always looking for new ones.

What I Learned About “Representation Matters” While Reading BENEATH WANDERING STARS by Ashlee Cowles

beneath wandering starsBy the time I graduated high school, I had attended 9 separate schools in three different states. Every time I would start a new school the first question everyone asks, after what’s your name, is “where are you from?” I have no good answer to this question. I am from nowhere and everywhere.

I am what they call a “military brat”.

My father was in the Air Force and long after they divorced and he retired, my mom continued to work for AAFES. I understand if you don’t know what that means. While other kids bought their school supplies at KMart or wherever, I bought mine at the BX (base exchange). And we bought our groceries at the commissary. Although I only ever briefly lived on a base, usually for transitional housing, my life was often radically different then the kids I went to school with. We spoke in my house in terms and abbreviations that my friends never fully understood.

And you always entered into each new school year with the realization that you were a stranger in a land full of people who had spent their lives building bonds that you could never hope to have. When I graduated high school I had only been at that school for 2 years. For the few brief years of my Freshman and Sophmore year I had a glimpse into the epic lifestyle known as best friends. But one of my trio died in a car crash our junior year, shortly after I moved again, and the second part of that trio died on January 1st of this year. That was the closest I ever came to traditions and rituals and stories to share about high school besties because there was always another move.

Which brings me to Beneath Wandering Stars by Ashlee Cowles.

Gabriela Santiago is a military brat/kid. When we first meet her, she is stationed with her family on a base in Germany (my parents were stationed in Germany as well). Her brother has recently enlisted and is now serving in Afghanistan. They soon learn that Lucas has been seriously injured and he has requested that she and her father go on a hiking journey in his honor and conquer the Camino de Santiago. What follows is a moving tale of self discovery and forgiveness and relationship in the great tradition of quest novels. This book would actually be a great companion piece with The Way Back from Broken by Amber Keyser in the way that it combines rugged outdoor activity and peril with healing journeys. I recommend both.

When I began reading this book, I was immediately struck by Gabi’s story of life in the military. It wasn’t a vague reference to military life, Gabi actually mentions going to the BX, AAFES, and more. She talks very openly about the frequent moves and the emotional impact. She talks about the expectations of military kids. And she does so in ways that were moving and felt incredibly accurate to me. This is only the second time I have really read a book that addressed the life of being a military kid in such authentic ways. The first was If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth.

Reading this book and seeing my struggles as a military kid – I can not begin to tell you how much it meant to me. I’m not going to say that I cried, but I’m not going to say that I didn’t. I have always struggled with a lot of the emotions that Gabi expresses. Today as an adult I continue to struggle with the lack of what most people call ties or a sense of home. When I go visit either of my parents, there are no rooms full of childhood memories because they are not the rooms that I slept in.

The way that I related to this book and the way that it spoke to my soul really got me thinking about representation. As a white woman, I have never really lacked to see myself in a book. I am not underrepresented in YA literature. There are 1,000s of Hermiones and Bellas and whoever else you can think of. I can pick up almost any book in my YA collection and read about girls that look like me.

But Gabi is different. She spoke to a part of me that always seemed so different and misunderstood – being a military kid. This is not surprising as the author bio states that Cowles herself was an Army “brat”. She gets it. She was able to tap into her experience in a way that speaks of authenticity to military life, which is another affirmation and helped me gain a better understanding of the importance of “own voices”. In this case were not talking about ethnicity or disability, but about unique life experiences. And trust me, military life is a unique life experience that is under represented in YA literature and media as a whole. As we talk about “supporting our troops”, we fail to fully grasp not only what we are asking our military to do, but the unique burdens that we put on their families as well.

It’s interesting to note that Gabi is not white, she is Latinx, but as a white reader I still had no problems relating to her. Her Latin culture is very important to her story and it was something that I enjoyed learning about, but her story of what it is like to be a military kid spoke the universal about military life. This book was, for me, both a mirror and a window. I can not tell you how powerful that was to me to read things about how military life haunted me in the story of Gabi, further reminding me of the importance of representation for all of our teens.

I needed this book when I was in high school and dealing with yet another two moves. I didn’t know I needed it until I read it, but what a difference this would have made for teenage Karen. I needed to hear someone else say AAFES and talk about shopping at the BX and eating at the food court with some really unique and weird food places that didn’t seem to exist off base.

And our teens . . . they need to see themselves in the books that they read. They need to have a voice. They need to know that there are people like them who experience and think about the same things that they do. This book further solidified for me a deeper understanding of the call for more diversity and inclusion in YA literature.

Representation matters.

Publisher’s Book Description

After her soldier brother is horribly wounded in Afghanistan, Gabriela must honor the vow she made: If anything ever happened to him, she would walk the Camino de Santiago through Spain, making a pilgrimage in his name. The worst part is that the promise stipulates that she must travel with her brother’s best friend–a boy she has despised all her life. Her brother is in a coma, and Gabi feels that she has no time to waste, but she is unsure. Will she hesitate too long, or risk her own happiness to keep a promise? An up-close look at the lives of the children of military families, “Beneath Wandering Stars” takes readers on a journey of love, danger, laughter, and friendship, against all odds. (August 2016 from Merit Press)

Book Giveaway

Leave a comment by Friday, September 2nd for your chance to win a hardback copy of this book. Open to US only please. Be sure and leave some type of trackback, like a Twitter handle or email, so I can get in touch with you. I’ll put the names into a hat and do a random drawing.

Sumer #YALit #ARCParty

 

A look at some upcoming May, June and July ARCs of YA Lit

  1. Getting ready to start an #aRCParty with The Teen & Bestie to look at some upcoming new releases.
  2. Here’s how it works: they’ll read the back of each book out loud & share whether they think it sounds good. #arcparty
  3. Here's a look at the May 2016 #yalit titles we'll be looking at for today's #ARCParty https://t.co/W8dLF5lih5

    Here’s a look at the May 2016 #yalit titles we’ll be looking at for today’s #ARCParty pic.twitter.com/W8dLF5lih5
  4. Montana, Romance, The Bestie says YES because she is into horses & loves romance #ARCParty Present day & past https://t.co/VhO1G2tPoa

    Montana, Romance, The Bestie says YES because she is into horses & loves romance #ARCParty Present day & past pic.twitter.com/VhO1G2tPoa
  5. Selective mutism, power, identity - @VictoriaLBYR sold me hardcore on this book & its look at power #arcparty https://t.co/tULhLdv9is

    Selective mutism, power, identity – @VictoriaLBYR sold me hardcore on this book & its look at power #arcparty pic.twitter.com/tULhLdv9is
  6. Summer in Hawaii, can you escape home? Betrayal, relationships, forgiveness #ARCParty Disney Hyperion https://t.co/tX58JpCB74

    Summer in Hawaii, can you escape home? Betrayal, relationships, forgiveness #ARCParty Disney Hyperion pic.twitter.com/tX58JpCB74
  7. A new Bryan Bliss! Military families, effects of service, identity, one night adventures #ARCParty https://t.co/zQULx51iJX

    A new Bryan Bliss! Military families, effects of service, identity, one night adventures #ARCParty pic.twitter.com/zQULx51iJX
  8. THE LIE TREE: A young woman can not resist a mystery, family scandal, science, fantasy SOUNDS GOOD 
#ARCParty https://t.co/Ix0sOIakEW

    THE LIE TREE: A young woman can not resist a mystery, family scandal, science, fantasy SOUNDS GOOD
    #ARCParty pic.twitter.com/Ix0sOIakEW
  9. After her mom does, a teen girl finds a priceless piece of memorabilia; southern life #ARCParty https://t.co/VGumQD2Pci

    After her mom does, a teen girl finds a priceless piece of memorabilia; southern life #ARCParty pic.twitter.com/VGumQD2Pci
  10. A TOTALLY AWKWARD LOVE STORY : "toilet boy Cinderella", sounds funny, romantic #ARCParty https://t.co/snp0891v8Q

    A TOTALLY AWKWARD LOVE STORY : “toilet boy Cinderella”, sounds funny, romantic #ARCParty pic.twitter.com/snp0891v8Q
  11. Teenage rebellion, teens falls in love w/poet, self discovery, the power of story #ARCParty https://t.co/nyTvClVHof

    Teenage rebellion, teens falls in love w/poet, self discovery, the power of story #ARCParty pic.twitter.com/nyTvClVHof
  12. Keplinger uses her own experiences growing up legally blind to inform this story; friends on the run #ARCParty https://t.co/SYMXO9dyfb

    Keplinger uses her own experiences growing up legally blind to inform this story; friends on the run #ARCParty pic.twitter.com/SYMXO9dyfb
  13. Alternate Earth; identity, sci fi, . . . "Nothing on Earth will ever be the same again" #ARCParty https://t.co/avAAqCJdYs

    Alternate Earth; identity, sci fi, . . . “Nothing on Earth will ever be the same again” #ARCParty pic.twitter.com/avAAqCJdYs
  14. What if everyone in town starts to turn into wax figures? Love this author, great concept #ARCParty https://t.co/AjysxKkUyN

    What if everyone in town starts to turn into wax figures? Love this author, great concept #ARCParty pic.twitter.com/AjysxKkUyN
  15. Teen writes an article for the Huffington Post, scores an agent; Reshma tries to be "American girl" #ARCParty https://t.co/Gyq3QHj6vS

    Teen writes an article for the Huffington Post, scores an agent; Reshma tries to be “American girl” #ARCParty pic.twitter.com/Gyq3QHj6vS
  16. "One of these truths is a lie, and not everyone will live to find out what it is" - Boom! #ARCParty https://t.co/Yy3jXZT2Id

    “One of these truths is a lie, and not everyone will live to find out what it is” – Boom! #ARCParty pic.twitter.com/Yy3jXZT2Id
  17. 7 interwoven stories about 1 fateful day that changes everything #ARCParty https://t.co/eq01yVd5Ks

    7 interwoven stories about 1 fateful day that changes everything #ARCParty pic.twitter.com/eq01yVd5Ks
  18. World War 1; Poppy volunteers as a front line nurse; romance and identity #ARCParty https://t.co/Pu2rR7yFEw

    World War 1; Poppy volunteers as a front line nurse; romance and identity #ARCParty pic.twitter.com/Pu2rR7yFEw