Teen Librarian Toolbox
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Nevertheless, She Persisted: A Nonfiction Reading List

neverthelessshepersisitedmixedmedia2017 has seen a lot of challenges for women, whether it be in regards to legislation that harms them or the necessary but difficult discussion happening in the last few weeks regarding the prevalence of sexual assault in the lives of women. As a public librarian and the mother to teen girls, and as a woman, this year has been emotionally very challenging, though at times empowering. I’ve had a lot of difficult conversations with my daughters. We began this year by marching in the Women’s March and I’m not sure yet how this year will end, but it’s important that we keep empowering our girls. Today I share with you some new and upcoming nonfiction that celebrates strong females in a variety of ways, one of them in a truly unique way.

Why We March: Signs of Protest and Hope, Voices from the Women’s March


As I mentioned, the girls and I marched in the Women’s March in January of this year and it was a truly empowering experience. Because I work in a state then I live in, I actually marched in two. Why We March is a collection of the signs that people carried in the march sprinkled with quotes by some of the more well known women who spoke at the march including Gloria Steinem, Deb Parent (a c0-organizer), Alicia Keyes, Barbara Streisand and more. There is a brief introduction, but the book is really about the signs. (Out now from Artisan, a division of Workman Publishing Co.)

The girls and I marching

The girls and I marching

Awesome Women Who Changed History: Paper Dolls


As a kid, I loved paper dolls. They’re not something that my girls have ever played with, in part because they are growing up in a time of cell phones and other high tech dolls so they aren’t easy to find. So here is a creative way to introduce a new generation to some awesome, world changing women AND some good old fashioned paper dolls. Yes, really, they are paper dolls. Each doll comes with one change of outfit and some accessories. Lucille Ball comes with a couple of interchangeable facial expressions, as she should. Ruth Bader Gingsberg comes with a Supreme Court robe. Amelia Earhart comes with an airplane, obviously. Frida Kahlo comes with an artist’s palette. Susan B. Anthony comes with a votes for women sign. Well, you get the idea. There is a brief introduction to each person, so brief you may want to supplement with some additional titles from your local library. This book is inclusive and fun. It will make a great present, though not a great library purchase in general. You could use it to make some great displays though. (Out now from Adams Media)

Coming in 2018

Girl on Pointe: Chloe’s Guide to Taking on the World by Chloe Lukasiak


I personally have very mixed feelings about Dance Moms, the show that introduced the public to Chloe Lukasiak. I’m not a big fan of using yelling, fear and the pyramid to motivate young people. And I found Abbie Lee’s treatment of these young girls to be so disgusting that I only ever watched a few episodes. Whatever my personal feelings may be, several of the young female dancers have used the platform to launch careers and platforms for themselves, which I can’t help but applaud. Here Chloe Lukasiak has capitalized on that popularity to put together this book which many tween and teen girls may be interested in.  It is a biography that includes topics like bullying and the search for self acceptance. Fans of the show will particularly be interested in this biography. (Coming January 23, 2018 from Bloomsbury Children’s Books)

Votes for Women! American Suffragists and the Battle for the Ballot by Winifred Conkling


Coming off of one of the most contentious elections of recent history that resulted in a year that saw the walking back of a lot of women’s rights in 2017, there could not be a more timely book. Votes for Women! is a pretty comprehensive look at the American Suffragist movement. It contains a list of key primary sources (and thank you for this!), a timeline, a well developed bibliography and a comprehensive list of notes. The bibliography is broken down into books (yay!), film, manuscript collections, websites and places of interest. I mean, it is well researched and documented and pretty glorious. It is text heavy and picture light, so it’s more research and reading then some of the nonfiction we put into the hands of teens, but it’s important and comprehensive and that has value. (Coming in February 2018 from Algonquin Young Readers)

What Would She Do? 25 True Stories of Trailblazing Rebel Women


What Would She Do? is an illustrated guide and brief introduction into 25 diverse women who have made their mark on history in some way. Some of the women included are The Trung Sisters (rebel leaders from Vietnam), Murasaki Shikibu (Japan’s first female novelist), Ada Lovelace (England’s first computer programmer), Frida Kahlo (the famous Mexican artist), and Judit Polgar (Hungarian chess master). For me, it was a mixture of women I have heard of and an introduction to some new ones. It is illustrated and contains no actual photos, so it’s not a source of pictures for those make a presentation board bio projects that teachers love to assign, but it is a very accessible introduction to a variety of meaningful women. Each section includes an introduction, a quote from the subject, and a brief “what would x do?” section. (Coming in May 2018 from Scholastic)

Karen’s Note: I used an illustration of Emma Watson from What Would She Do? to make the Nevertheless, She Persisted mixed media collage above because we are huge Harry Potter fans in this house and we’re exploring upcycling books in the Teen MakerSpace.

Social Justice Booktalks, a guest post by Cindy Shutts

Two weeks ago, when I was doing my bi-monthly booktalks for a sixth grade class, I was booktalking Because they Marched by Russell Freedman. This book focuses on the fact that it was nearly impossible to register to vote if you were black before the Voters Rights Act. One of the 6th graders asked me, “Are things better now?” I had to stop to think about what to say. I told him, “There has been some improvement, but in fact the Voters Rights Act has been overturned in part recently by the Supreme Court.  I do not know what will happen in the future, but I recommended learning more about the Voters Rights Act.” This conversation inspired me to focus my next booktalk session on social justice.  My resolve to use this topic for my booktalk also grew from waiting for the release of the decision on whether to indict from the grand jury in Ferguson. It was something I could do while I dealt with the helpless feelings of waiting.


My first choice for this booktalk is the classic, One Crazy Summer, by Rita Williams-Garcia. One Crazy Summer tells the story of Delphine and her two sisters when they go visit their mother who left them when they were little. They do not know what to expect and at first their mother is not sure what to do with them. Delphine and her sisters are sent to a summer camp run by the Black Panthers and they realize that the Black Panthers are not exactly like they are portrayed in the media.



I choose to include Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh. This is a non-fiction picture book that I think they will enjoy. I had never heard anything about this case before. I knew about Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, but I was un familiar with the case of Mendez V. Westminster School District. Sylvia Mendez’s parents fought to have her placed in the school closest to her instead of the out of date and decrepit school for Mexican-American children and won.



Black &White: The Confrontation between Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth and Eugene “Bull” Conner by Larry Dane Brimner is another book that I must talk about. It concerns the epic struggle for civil rights in Birmingham between Reverend Shuttlesworth and “Bull” Conner. The Ku Klux Klan was all over Birmingham during the fifties and sixties. “Bull” Conner was a city commissioner and did not believe that there were problems in his city and he thought Shuttlesworth was wasting his time. Conner opposed desegregation and ordered the arrest of many civil rights protestors.


Strike!: The Farm Workers’ Fight for Their Rights is another great title by Larry Dane Brimner. This discusses the Filipino farmer workers who stood up along with Cesar Chavez to get better working conditions and fairer wages.





Of course, I will include Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, this book that just won the National Book Award and is my personal pick to win the Newbery. Jacqueline Woodson’s writing is so powerful when talking about her childhood during the civil rights era that when I read it, I felt transported to her childhood. You see the changes going on in the South when she is living with her grandparents.



The most current book I will talk about is Kinda Like Brothers by Coe Booth. In this book, Jarett’s mother becomes a foster mother to a teenage boy and his little sister.  I am including it on the list because of the powerful conversation between Jarrett and his mother’s boyfriend when they talk about what to do when a young black man is approached by the police. This is very timely with everything going on in Ferguson and around the country.



Cindy Shutts is the Teen Services Librarian at the White Oak Library District in IL. You can follow her on Twitter at @cindysku.

My Heart Says…

What do Anne from Anne of Green Gables and George Michael Bluth from Arrested Development have in common?  Both characters knew the great significance of a Valentine’s Day candy heart.  For the second year in a row, we’re celebrating the significance of this staple candy of Valentine’s Day by pairing the sayings with appropriate books.  Don’t know what to read next?  Close your eyes, grab a chalky heart from the bowl in the break room, and read accordingly.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Ever gotten lost in a story? This is the book for anyone who has, and for anyone who  can understand why reading aloud to someone who is resting his head on your shoulder until you’re hoarse is one of the most romantic ways to spend an evening.

Fat Angie by E.E. Charlreton-Trujillo
Instead of eating, her therapist suggests to “Just count.  Counting is like eating.”  But Angie knows it’s not true, as much as she knows that K.C. Romance is like no one she’s ever met before – she’s someone who can see beyond the surface and understand what is underneath.


The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
Yes, there really are Sweethearts that say “Occupy My <3" this year.  If you don't think that's a creepy way to express your love, then there's no other book for you than The 5th Wave, and that's all I'm going to say about that. 

Noggin by John Corey Whaley
Five years after his head was removed and cryogenically frozen in hopes of a cure for his terminal cancer being discovered, Travis awakes in a new body (with the same head) and a new puzzle: how to win back his girlfriend when he never intended to lose her to begin with?
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Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor
Zoe and Liv have been through everything together, from their first days of ballet class, to the worst day ever – the day they were both cut from their ballet troupe. But soon, that tragedy pales in comparison to the difficulties that they face when Zoe is diagnosed with leukemia. The truest love isn’t always romantic. Read and cry over this poignant coming of age book with your own BFF.
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Cress by Marissa Meyer
Expanding on the Lunar Chronicles from Cinder and Scarlet, Cress re-imagines the character of Rapunzel as a young woman orbiting high above the earth in a satellite.  Isolation does have its benefits though, as she’s had ample times to hone her computer skills.
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Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young
In her grandmother’s final moments, Caroline is faced with a fateful decision: stay with her or take her best friend up on the invitation to get away for a few minutes.  With her life split into “stay” and “go” trajectories, will she ever end up being the person – and being with the person – she is meant to be and be with? Does she even have a choice in the matter, or is her destiny fated?

Cherry Money Baby by John M. Cusick
She didn’t mean to save a movie star’s life.  She didn’t mean to abandon her beloved trailer park life.  She didn’t mean to cheat on her boyfriend.  She didn’t mean to forget who she was… Cherry’s plan to marry her high school sweetheart and settle down in her small town is thrown for a loop when she catches a million dollar glimpse of how the other half lives.  Before she can commit to a new way of life or a major life change, she needs to get back to her roots.

Want to make your own hearts? I used this brilliantly simple site and you can too!
Want to build on this and host a conversation heart fest? Here are Fourteen Conversation Heart Crafts, and you can always just see who can stack them the highest too.

Happy Valentine’s Day, from everyone here at the Teen Librarian Toolbox!


Booktalk This! Not your mother’s bedtime storytelling (Nontraditional Books and Stories for Teens)

Though storytelling comes in all forms, I tend to spend the majority of my reading life with fiction told from a 1st or 3rd person point of view, and a “first this happened, and then this, then this…” chronology.

Yes, these stories are often wonderful, but I find that sometimes it’s intriguing to mix things up a bit.  The following books all tell their stories differently, whether by playing with style, point-of-view, or format, but they’re all guaranteed to catch the attention of older teens (and adults)!

The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty


There’s nothing quite so infuriating than a pen pal assignment from a teacher who clearly wishes to go back to the dark ages of letter writing (before the awesomeness that is text messaging).  For Lydia, Cass and Emily, this assignment is also dangerous, as they’re meant to write kids at Brookfield HS, the student body of which is rumored to be full of scary criminals.  But then Charlie, Seb, and Matthew write back.  And through letters, emails, and even meeting transcripts, they experience friendship, grief, secret missions, love, and heartbreak, not to mention a trial about some not-so-harmless school vandalism…

You by Charles Benoit

“You’re surprised at all the blood.” So begins You, a suspense story with a twist: it’s told in 2nd person, meaning that you, the reader, feel as if you’re Kyle Chase, a 10th grader with an “aptitude” for math and a crush on Ashley.  You hate your school, and wish you could go back to eighth grade, to work harder for the better grades needed to get into the school all your friends did.  Instead, you’re stuck at Midlands High, where you end up hanging out with the kind of guys who sneak out at night to smoke, steal beer, and break into your old middle school.  And then, one night, you’re covered in blood and someone is dying.  But how, exactly, did you get there?

What about poetry?  Do you have a group of teens obsessed with Ellen Hopkins’ dark verse novels?  Why not give them family by Micol Ostow?  Ostow took the true story of the Mason Family cult and murders, and told that story from the point of view of a person on the inside.  Mel, a seventeen-year-old self-described “broken” girl, finds solace and companionship in the charismatic Henry.  Through Mel’s eyes, we begin to see the ways in which Henry, as a collector of “broken” people, uses and manipulates his devotees, Mel included, to carry out horrific acts.  This is an unsettling story, but powerful in the way it forces the reader to understand how a person looking for acceptance can be led down a very dark path. 

Dead Inside: Do Not Enter (Notes from the Zombie Apocalypse)

Do you prefer stark images and notes to go with your zombie apocalypses? Dead Inside tells the story of a zombie outbreak and the breakdown of society through “items found in a backpack.”  In reality, this was a huge Internet project, in which people from around the world created content for the book.  You’ll forget soon, though, that this isn’t real as you get caught up in reading increasingly confused and desperate notes scribbled on torn pages, signs, and any available paper, including birthday cards, photos, maps and cardboard.  (You, too, can participate in the project at www.lostzombies.com )


This final book, Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral, has the least amount of text of all the books here…and it’s the most mind-blowing, in my opinion.  Glory Fleming was a brilliant piano “prodigy,” destined for greatness and sold-out performances.  So why has she gone missing?  And what led to her Chopsticks-obsessed breakdown?  Through photographs, drawings, and newspaper clippings, follow the story of a girl who fell in love, and then lost her mind.  Then reread the story, in order to find out what *really* happened.

What are your favorite nontraditional format books?  Share with us in the comments.

Kearsten, Teen Services Librarian from Glendale, Arizona


The #bestYAdad list is a present to my husband.  That’s right, I’m super cheap – but creative.  You see, The Mr. is an excellent father.  I pick ’em good I tell ya.  But also, I was reading Eleanor and Park, which does make this list, and was so impressed with the dad I though to myself: “Self, what other great YA dads are out there?”  So I crowd sourced the answer.

Here are some of the nominees . . .

#bestYAdad Nominees

Kimberly Alberts: Meghan, Hans Huberman from The Book Thief is my favorite book dad.

Melinda Bruce: Luke isn’t Clary’s dad, in City of Bones, but he’s close enough and he’s great.

Richa Parande: Anna’s dad in Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins

Tracy Weikel: I’ll always love Matthew Cuthbert. Other favorite YA lit dads include Arthur Weasley and Atticus Finch (of course), Sam from Aristotle and Dante Discover the Universe, and Denny Hall (If I Stay).

Erinn Batykefer: Love the dads in Lola and the Boy Next Door kicked ass

Melinda Bruce: Luke isn’t Clary’s dad, in City of Bones, but he’s close enough and he’s great.

Barbara Lowe: Mr. Austin in Madeleine L’Engle’s books about the Austin family.

Anonymous: The #bestYAdad that I immediately thought of is Bobby in The First Part Last by Angela Johnson. Being a teen father is HARD!  

Anonymous: One of the #bestyadads is Charlie Swan. #Twilight.

Kym: Dante’s dad in Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. Love him!! 


Atticus Finch
To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee

Without a doubt Atticus Finch is the epitome of the wise, loving, patient dad.  I thought it was interesting that so many considered this book YA, and if it was published today it would probably be published as YA.  To me, it is sheer perfection.     

Atticus Finch: “The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”

Ken Deitz
Please Ignore Vera Dietz
A. S. King 

Vera Dietz is struggling with the death of her former best friend who screwed her over big time.  To say she is in a bad place emotionally is to put it mildly.  Ken Dietz is an amazing dad who is raising his daughter all on his home – will the help of some flowcharts.  Flowcharts can help you answer all of life’s great questions.  My favorite is the Ken Dietz Face Your Shit Flowchart.  

Ken Dietz: “the trick is remembering that you are the boss of you.”

Denny Hall
If I Stay
Gayle Forman

One of the things I loved most about this book, outside of its hands down just amazing writing, was that it contained such a beautiful, healthy and loving intact family.  Both of the parents are active, engaged.  Denny Hall is a fine choice. 

Denny Hall: “Alice Cooper? Have we no standards? At least sing the Ramones.”
Park’s Dad
Eleanor and Park
by Rainbow Rowell

Park’s dad does exactly the right think in the moment that matters most.  In this one act he helps save a girl, demonstrates wisdom about the wrongness in some men, and expresses faith in Park.  I never knew that the act of handing over your car keys could speak such a powerful message.

I can’t quote the dad from Eleanor and Park here because in a rare moment of responsible library user behavior, I returned the book.  Possibly even on time. Maybe.

Matthew Cuthbert
Anne of Green Gables
by L M Montgomery

Oh, Matthew.  You sir, are a beautiful man.  You took in this red headed wonder, accepted her for who she was, loved her, and gave her the puffiest sleeves ever.  Matthew Cuthbert is Da Bomb as we once would say.  You stood up in the moments that mattered.  Honestly, I never would have thought of him when thinking about making this list, because I was thinking more recent titles, but once everyone started nominating him I thought, “Of course!”

Matthew Cuthbert:
“I never wanted a boy. I only wanted you from the first day. Don’t ever change. I love my little girl. I’m so proud of my little girl.”

What about the worst?

 Kelly Jensen (no relation, thanks for asking) over at Stacked has a list of the worst YA dads.  She technically calls her list Complicated Father Relationships, but some of those dads are hands down the worst dads ever imaginable, like the dads from Scowler and This is Not a Test.  The dad from Flawed also fits on this list.  In fact, I think it is a lot easier to think of bad examples then good ones.  Either way, share your best and worst YA dads in the comments. 

And Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. 

5 Audio Books My Tween Says You Should Listen To Right Now

If you follow me on Twitter (@tlt16), you know that the Tween and I are now audio book obsessed.  Even if we are just in the car for a five minute drive she asks me to turn on whatever book we are currently listening to.  We have gotten home and sat in the car for a few extra minutes to finish whatever scene or book we are listening to.  I don’t forget to turn on the book because she won’t let me, “Mom, turn the book on” she cries from the backseat of the car.  Here are 5 of her recent faves.

1.  Chomp by Carl Hiaasen

I won’t talk a lot about this one, because I mentioned it in yesterday’s post about reality TV. The tween wasn’t interested in it though for the inside look at all the behind the scenes happenings of reality TV.  No, she just liked that it was funny, charming, and at times kept you on the edge of your seat.  She is also a huge animal lover and there is plenty of fun wildlife present.

2.  The Paradise Trap by Catherine Jinks

In The Paradise Trap, Marcus’s mom buys a trailer for them to vacation at the beach.  One day they discover that the trailer has a basement, which if you know anything about trailers is physically impossible.  Inside the basement your wildest dreams – and most fearful nightmares – come true.  This story is an interesting twist on the legend of the Sirens.  It definitely keeps you on the edge of your seat as you travel through the maze of a basement and try to find a way out.  It also led to some fun discussions about what our dream vacation and nightmare vacations would look like.  I think it would be a fun book club book and you can do an activity where your tweens create their own dream or nightmare vacation brochures.  You can listen to an excerpt at the Random House Audio page.

Audio Book Fact: Most listeners use audiobooks in the car (whether they are commuting or on driving vacations) but an increasing number of people also report using audiobooks while they are exercising, cooking, gardening — and even at work. (from the Audio Publishers Association)

3.  Divergent by Veronica Roth
Okay, I don’t always make awesome parenting decisions.  I am the mother who took the Tween to see The Hunger Games movie when she was 8.  Anyhow, I was listening to Divergent when she got in the car with me one day and I hadn’t turned it off.  She started protesting so we kept listening.  There is a lot of violence, obviously.  And there is one scene where Tris is attacked and basically sexually assaulted.  I was surprised, because she did really like it.  And of course now she is closer to being a teen then she was when I took her to see The Hunger Games movie (which she did like by the way).  So, the moral of my story is this: definitely read or listen to the book first, but it is a good audio, a good book, and with the movie coming out soon there will be high demand.

Audio Book Fact: Audiobook listeners are avid readers who use audiobooks as a way of enjoying an author’s work when they are not able to read. 94% of audiobook listeners had read a book in the past year vs. 70% of non-audiobook listeners. (from the Audio Publishers Association)

4.  I’d Tell You That I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

Because I am the mom to two girls, I am always looking for good representations of females in my books.  Ally Carter is one of my favorite authors because of the characters she writes.  And, her books are charming, fun, and entertaining while being empowering.  ITYTILOVBTIHTKY is book #1 in the Gallagher Girls series.  I think everyone should read these books.  They are about girls in spy school and they do a good job of presenting a wide variety of girls, their interests and personalities, and have some pretty kick-ass role models.  There is a touch of romance, geeky spy science, and really intelligent women.  What’s not to love?  We were introduced to the series by listening to the audio and have bought every book since then for our home library.  Last night the Tween started reading the series again I noticed.

Audio Book Fact: In a recent consumer survey, the Audio Publishers Association learned that 25% of Americans had listened to an audiobook in the last year.

5.  The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

This was a really interesting listening experience because we did it backwards.  I started reading the book out loud as our family read along, but somewhere along the way I picked up a new book before we finished this one.  We both really liked this book and wanted to finish it, so we listened to the audio.  The Mysterious Benedict Society is such a clever book about genius children and there are lots of fun mysteries and puzzles to solve inside.  Just listening to it made us feel like we were getting smarter by the day.  And one of my favorite childhood books is The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, which this series reminds me a lot of in tone and personality.  You can listen to an excerpt to get a feel for the series at the Random House Audio page.

I recently had a discussion with the Tween, asking her what she liked about audio books.  She said she liked how they drew you into the story and it was kind of like watching TV or a movie, but the picture forms in your head.  Plus, it made car rides more fun.  The only thing she said she liked better about reading a book is that she could do it at “her own pace.”  I will say that I have noticed that she often doesn’t finish reading a book, but she always finishes the audio which means she is getting the whole story.

Take 5: Amelia Bloomer Project and Feminist Books

If you’re looking for feminist books, you definitely want to check out The Amelia Bloomer Project.  Sponsored by the Feminist Task Force of the American Library Association, this committee of librarians creates a recommended bibliography every year of new books that have significant feminist content for youth ages birth through 18.  Being a booklist like the Rainbow Project, their process is open, and they post titles on their blog as they are nominated.  They also take field submissions as well. 

Scrolling through the titles that they currently have listed for the 2014 list (to be announced at the Midwinter Meeting in January 2014 at Philadelphia) I have to say my favorites so far are these:

Atwell, Mary Stewart. Wild Girls: A Novel. 2012. 288 p. Scribner, $25.00 (978-1451683271). Gr. 10 and up. 

Kate Riordan fears two things as she grows up in the small Appalachian town of Swan River: that she’ll be a frustrated townie forever or that she’ll turn into one of the mysterious and terrifying wild girls, killers who start fires and menace the community.

Molley, Aimee. However Long the Night: Molly Melching’s Journey to Help Millions of African Women and Girls Triumph. 2013. 272p. HarperOne, $25.99 (978-0062132765). Gr. 10-up. 

In However Long the Night, Aimee Molloy tells the unlikely and inspiring story of Molly Melching, an American woman whose experience as an exchange student in Senegal led her to found Tostan and dedicate almost four decades of her life to the girls and women of Africa.

King, A.S. Ask the Passengers.  2012. 393p.  Little Brown, $17.99 (978-0-316-19468-6). Gr. 10-up.

Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone, but her mother’s pushiness and her father’s lack of interest tell her they’re the last people she can trust. Instead, Astrid spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn’t know the passengers inside, but they’re the only people who won’t judge her when she asks them her most personal questions . . . like what it means that she’s falling in love with a girl. 
We all know that Karen loves this book and says everyone should read it, right?

Brill, Amy. The Movement of Stars. 2013. 400p. Riverhead Books, $27.95 (978-1594487446). Gr. 10-up. 

A love story set in 1845 Nantucket, between a female astronomer and the unusual man who understands her dreams.

Abdi, Hawa. Keeping Hope Alive. Grand Central Publishing, 2013. 272p. $26.99 978-1-455-0376-6 

The moving memoir of one brave woman who, along with her daughters, has kept 90,000 of her fellow citizens safe, healthy, and educated for over 20 years in Somalia. 

What are your favorite books for young women?  Share with us in the comments.

Annotations from book descriptions on Goodreads.com

Take 5: What’s My Name Again? Stories about teens in the Witness Protection program

Identity is such a huge part of the teenage years.  When most teens are simply trying to figure out who they are, some teens are being yanked out of the comfort of their everyday lives and given new identities.  Since today we are talking about The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston, I present you with 5 more stories about teens in the Witness Protection program.

Hush by Jacqueline Woodson

Evie Thomas is not who she used to be. Once she had a best friend, a happy home and a loving grandmother living nearby. Once her name was Toswiah. Now, everything is different. Her family has been forced to move to a new place and change their identities. But that’s not all that has changed. (Google book synopsis)

I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier

Adam Farmer is on a journey – he has to get to Rutterburg with a parcel for his father. But as he travels, he starts to remember the events leading up to this point, memories which are also being prised out in gruelling psychiatric interviews. What is the secret of Adam Farmer? And what will happen when he finds out? (Goodreads synopsis)
Payback Time by Carl Deuker

Through the eyes of a distinctly non-athletic protagonist—a fat high school journalist named Mitch—veteran sports novelist Deuker reveals the surprising truth behind a mysterious football player named Angel.  When Angel shows up Lincoln High, he seems to have no past—or at least not one he is willing to discuss.  Though Mitch gets a glimpse of Angel’s incredible talent off the field, Angel rarely allows himself to shine on the field.  Is he an undercover cop, wonders Mitch?  Or an ineligible player?  In pursuit of a killer story, Mitch decides to find out just who this player is and what he’s done.  In the end, the truth surprises everyone. (Goodreads synopsis)

When I Was Joe by Keren David

When Ty witnesses the knife murder of another boy he identifies some very dangerous people and the police put him and his mother into hiding in a witness protection scheme. While they are packing, a petrol bomb is thrown through the front door of their flat, highlighting the extreme danger they face. Over the coming months, Ty becomes Joe, is given a new look and starts at a new school. To his surprise, he finds he is attracting the attention of the girls in his class, and the boys find his need to conceal his real identity cool – being Joe is not so bad. His ability as a runner is spotted and he starts training under a college student, a wheelchair user who is a Paralympics contender, but this special treatment attracts resentment. Somehow Joe keeps drawing attention to himself despite his efforts to remain anonymous. Then his beloved grandmother back in London is badly injured in an attack designed to flush Ty out of hiding and demonstrates the relentless determination to silence him.This wonderfully gripping and intelligent novel movingly depicts Ty/Joe’s confusing sense of identity in extreme danger – a remarkable debut from a great new writing talent.  (from Goodreads)

And one for adults, or maybe it is new adults now . . .

The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristifano

When Melody Grace McCartney was six years old, she and her parents witnessed an act of violence so brutal that it changed their lives forever. The federal government lured them into the Witness Protection Program with the promise of safety, and they went gratefully. But the program took Melody’s name, her home, her innocence, and, ultimately, her family. She’s been May Adams, Karen Smith, Anne Johnson, and countless others–everyone but the one person she longs to be: herself. So when the feds spirit her off to begin yet another new life in another town, she’s stunned when a man confronts her and calls her by her real name. Jonathan Bovaro, the mafioso sent to hunt her down, knows her, the real her, and it’s a dangerous thrill that Melody can’t resist. He’s insistent that she’s just a pawn in the government’s war against the Bovaro family. But can she trust her life and her identity to this vicious stranger whose acts of violence are legendary? (Goodreads summary)

If I was going to join the Witness Protection Program and got to pick my name, it would totally be Marissa. What name would you pick? Tweet us at #WPname.

If You Like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, take 2

I am a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer Fan. Huge.  So when I read books, I often find myself thinking, “Fans of Buffy will like this.”  Sometimes it is because of the plot: a feisty, chosen heroine who kicks supernatural butt.  Sometimes it is because of the writing style and dialogue, snarky, witty and full of that back and forth banter that Joss Whedon writes so well.  Whatever the reason, here are 5 new titles for Buffy fans looking for elements of the supernatural, wit and humor, snark galore, and the occasional kick-butt heroine.

The Collector by Victoria Scott
Dante Walker is a collector, sent to collect souls for The Big Guy down below.  He is smug and evil, just like Spike.  And just like Spike, he may find himself falling in love with someone on the wrong team. A great read for Buffy fans to be sure.  Full review hereProphecy Girl by Cecily White is another Entangled Teen title that Buffy fans are sure to love for the snarky voice and elements of the supernatural.

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride
Sam thought he was a going no where slacker working at a fast food place, until a head shows up in a box on his doorstep and lets him know that he is a Necromancer, and a powerful one at that. Absurdly hilarious and perfect for Buffy fans everywhere.  Full review here.

The Embrace series by Jessica Shirvington
Violet Eden learns that she has the power to help fight evil in this series now being developed into a TV show for the CW.  Violet is a strong, kick-ass female in the tradition of Buffy.  Full review of here.

Every Other Day by Jenny Lynn Barnes
Every other day Kali is this world’s version of the slayer; strong, capable of kicking supernatural butt, and here to save the day (if only it weren’t against the law).  The problem? The girl at school, her father’s bosses daughter, has been marked for death on the every other day, the day when she is a perfectly normal teenage girl.  Full review here.

Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter
Alice discovers her overprotective father isn’t as crazy as she thought, unfortunately she discovers this while he is being eaten by zombies.  Now, well after a brief stint of fear and depression, she is joining forces with those who fight the creatures.  Showalter presents an interesting take on both zombies and the Alice in Wonderland tale.  Full review here.
Previously: Top 10 YA Titles That Buffy Fans Will Like
Also of Interest: Top 10 Things I Learned from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Take 5: Lights, Camera, Action: YA Fiction about Filmmaking

Today we are all about teen filmmakers, so here is a list of 5 ya titles that feature teens who are stepping behind the camera (and sometimes in front of it) and trying to be their own Andrew Jenks.  Check out these 5 titles about Reel Teens.

Me, and Earl, and the Dying Girl
by Jesse Andrews
Greg, an aspiring filmmaker, and Earl, the best friend, find themselves suddenly friends with the dying girl, Rachel.  They put together Rachel the Film to try and capture her life.
Read our earlier review here.
“And the point of Rachel the Film should really have been to express how awful and shitty that loss was, that she would have become a person with a long awesome life if she had been allowed to continue living, and that this was just a stupid meaningless loss, a motherfucking loss, a loss loss loss fucking loss, there was no fucking meaning to it, there was nothing that could come out of it…”
Jesse Andrews, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl  
Pirate Cinema
by Cory Doctorow
Trent McCauley is sixteen, brilliant, and obsessed with one thing: making movies on his computer by reassembling footage from popular films he downloads from the net. In near-future Britain, this is more illegal than ever. (from Goodreads)
Read our earlier review here.
 Carter Finally Gets It (#1) and Carter’s Big Break (#2)
by Brent Crawford
After his freshman year, chronicled in Carter Finally Gets It, Carter is cast in an independent film.  Will Carter go Hollywood?
“My life would be a lot easier if I enjoyed it more.”
Brent Crawford, Carter’s Big Break 
Viola in Reel Life
by Adriana Trigiani
Forced to live life in a boarding school, Viola tries to hide behind the lens of a camera.
“Romy had never done a budget, Marisol had never designed costumes and sets, and Suzanne had never acted, but when I asked them to help, they didn’t hesitate”
Adriana Trigiani, Viola in Reel Life 
Project 17
by Laurie Faria Stolarz
The night before an abandoned mental institution, rumored to be haunted, is torn down, 6 teens break in and film themselves spending the night.  But will they make it out alive?
A great read for your Paranormal Activity fans.
Have any recommendations for us? Please leave them in the comments.