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Book Review: The Last Confession of Autumn Casterly by Meredith Tate

Publisher’s Book Description:

When band-geek Ivy and her friends get together, things start with a rousing board game and end with arguments about Star Wars.

Her older sister Autumn is a different story. Enigmatic, aloof, and tough as nails, Autumn hasn’t had real friends–or trusted anyone–in years. Even Ivy.

But Autumn might not be tough enough. After a drug deal gone wrong, Autumn is beaten, bound, and held hostage. Now, trapped between life and death, she leaves her body, seeking help. No one can sense her presence–except her sister.

When Autumn doesn’t come home, Ivy just knows she’s in trouble. Unable to escape the chilling feeling that something isn’t right, Ivy follows a string of clues that bring her closer to rescuing her sister… and closer to danger.

Autumn needs Ivy to find her before time runs out. But soon, both sisters realize that finding her also means untangling the secrets that lead to the truth–about where they’re hiding Autumn, and what Autumn has been hiding. 

Karen’s Thoughts:

I picked this book up thinking I was going to read an engaging psychological thriller with paranormal twinges, which I did. What I did not realize was that I was going to be reading a thoughtful commentary about sexual violence and the long term effects of trauma in the life of teens. I’ve been thinking a lot about this book after finishing it, which is always a positive sign. There are layers upon layers of social commentary that I was not expecting in this book.

At the end of the day, this is a rich, feminist novel that looks at the resiliency of sisterhood, the power of friendship, and the ways that we accept the abuse of our daughters as the collateral damage to live in the patriarchy and the long term harm that does. It’s also a book about healing in a wide variety of ways.

As someone who works with teens and has been reading some about trauma informed librarianship, it’s also a stark reminder that there is always a reason for a teen’s difficult behaviors and that before we dismiss our challenging teens out of hand, we should extend to them grace and help to connect them with the tools they need to unpack their trauma and find their pathway to thriving. The story of Autumn is a shameful reminder that we, as a society, are failing our youth every day in a wide variety of ways.

Although both main characters are white, Ivy is a fat girl who is mostly okay in her body, though she does wish others would stop commenting on her weight and diet. Ivy also has a wide variety of strong friendships and there is some rich LGBTQ representation here as well. I appreciated Ivy’s story in this just as much as I did Autumn’s. Ivy is strong, brave, and inspiring while still being very real and flawed. I thought the various issues she talked about, including her relationship to her body and her complex feelings of self worth in her home and friend relationships, were complex, authentic and relateable.

There’s a lot to unpack in this feminist novel disguised as a paranormal mystery. Strongly recommended for all readers. And then I hope we will all sit with it a while.

This book was released February 11, 2020 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

If You Like The Good Place, Read This

Today YA Librarian Cindy Shutts has put together a fabulous list of recommended reads for fans of The Good Place. If you have titles to add, please leave us a comment. We’re huge fans of the show in my house and I want to hear all your reading recommendations.

Warning Spoilers!

The Good Place is the popular sitcom on NBC starring Kristen Bell and Ted Denson. The basic premise is that a group of four people are placed in the afterlife and they think they are in the good place but are actually in the bad place and part of an experiment to change how torture is done. This is the fourth and final season.  This season is about finding out if you can be a good person in a world connected to bad consequences. For example, if you drink a Coke-a-Cola, do you lose points because they are the worst plastic polluter in the world, even though you personally recycle the bottle? Is it possible to become a better person in the afterlife? What do we owe each other?

Just for fun, check out Hypable’s list of 34 of the best The Good Place quotes

Afterlife

Elsewhere: A Novel by Gabrielle Zevin

Fifteen- year -old Liz has just died and moved on to Elsewhere, where people who have died age backward and get jobs. She has to learn to move on from life to the afterlife, while falling in love with a man who is also learning to age backward and whose wife is still alive.

More Than This by Patrick Ness

A boy about to die wakes up and does not know if he is in the afterlife. He will have to figure out where he is to go on with his life.

Croak by Gina Damico

Lex is sent away to spend time with her Uncle Mort, but when she is with him she finds out he is a grim reaper.  Uncle Mort is now going to teach Lex the family business, but Lex develops a taste for justice.

It’s a Wonderful Death by Sarah J. Schmitt

RJ’s soul is accidently reaped by a grim reaper and she wants to talk to a manager because she should not be dead.

I Woke Up Dead at the Mall by Judy Sheehan

Sarah is murdered and wakes up at the Mall of America. She is given a death coach and told she will have to be able to move on after her death or be forced to walk the mall forever.

Demon Chick by Marilyn Kaye

Jessica always had a rough relationship with her politician mother, but she never expected her mother to sell her soul to the devil. Jessica finds herself living in one of the better neighborhoods of hell with a demon named Brad who seems to be a nice guy.

The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

The Christmas Spirits gave Holly Chase a second chance at life. She did not listen to their advice and now she is one of the ghosts of Christmas Past, who is in charge of warning people about their possible fates.

The 39 Deaths of Adam Strand by Gregory Galloway

Adam is depressed and tries to commit suicide thirty-nine times, but every time he wakes up and feels fine. He will have to find out why this keeps happening.

Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall by Wendy Mass

Tessa wakes up after a gym accident in the mall. She is very confused and she starts to relive her life and the moment that led up to her death. She has to figure out who she is and what she wants now.

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Everyone used to die after a period of time, but now in a world where death has been eliminated people have taken on the role of the scythe. The people of the scythe have the responsibility of quelling the population. Two teens have been chosen to be the scythe and they must succeed, because if they do not they will be killed.

Open Mic Night at Westminster Cemetery by Mary Amato

Lacy wakes up and finds out she is dead in Westminster Cemetery. She must try to adjust to her afterlife, but it is hard not knowing how she died and what happened to the people she cared about.

Moral Complex

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing by M.T. Anderson

Octavian has grown up learning philosophy and science, but as he becomes a teenager he realizes something is wrong. He learns that he and his mother are part of a science experiment testing the mental capability of Africans and that he is enslaved.

Feed by M.T. Anderson

In the near future everyone gets their entertainment from feeds in their head telling them what is cool and what is not. However, on a spring break trip to the moon Titus and his friends fall victim to a hacker who turns off everyone’s feed. Titus has to learn to live without someone always telling him what to value.

Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

Regina was one of the mean girls at her school, but when she is falsely accused of cheating with her best friend’s boyfriend she is expelled. She slowly learns to deal with the consequences of her actions.

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

Matt is not like everyone else. He is the clone of a narcissistic drug dealer. Everyday he is in danger from people who wish him harm and the only way out is to escape.

Firecracker by David Iserson

Astrid loves her life going to a posh boarding school and her grandfather happens to be a nuclear arms dealer.  Astrid gets kicked out of her boarding school and vows revenge on everyone who betrayed her, but she starts to learn things about herself. She realizes she is a trashy person and she had to decide if she is going to change.

Eleanor Shellstrop

Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina (Parent Issues)

Nora knows something is wrong with her brother, but her mother is not listening to her. She wonders if he is connected to a string of murders in her city.

Dicey’s Song by Cynthia Voigt (Parent Issues)

Dicey’s mother abandons her and her three younger siblings. Dicey is trying to keep her young siblings together and takes them to their grandmothers home, but she does not know how to relate with having someone who wants to help her.

Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang (Unlikeable Narrator)

Liz Emerson decides to drive her Mercedes into a tree because she thinks the world would be better off without her. What does her life mean and how can people impact each other?

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy (Unlikeable Narrator)

Alice had cancer and thought she was going to die, so she created a bucket list and completed most of it. Now suddenly she is in remission and has to deal with the consequences of her actions.

Chidi Anagonye

Finding Felicity by Stacey Kade (Indecisive)

Caroline is not good at making decisions and after her parents’ divorce instead of living in the real world she finds comfort in an old television show she found online.  Her mother decides to push her out into real world and Caroline must makes real life decisions.

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor (Nigeria)

Sunny lives in Nigeria but she was born in America. Sunny is an albino so she has to avoid direct sunlight but suddenly she discovers she has magical powers.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green (Anxiety)

 Aza decides to hunt down a missing billionaire and reconnects with her old friend Davis. She has to deal with her anxiety from her OCD while solving this mystery.

Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos  (Anxiety)

James is experiencing anxiety and depression and he decides to make his own therapist, Dr. Bird. This way he can deal with his vanished sister and his abusive parents.

Tahani Al-Jamil

People Like Us by Dana Mele (Boarding School)

Kay has decided reinvent herself at her new school to cover up her past. But unexpectedly, a dead body is found near the lake of her school and her new world starts to collapse.

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake (Sibling Rivalry)

Three siblings who are princesses and have been raised apart are now forced to compete in a battle to the death to decide who will be the new queen.

All You Never Wanted by Adele Griffin (Sibling Rivalry)

Thea wants everything her sister has such as beauty, brains, popularity, and a good-looking boyfriend. Thea decides to spin the truth to get what she wants.

Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik (Wealth and Name Dropping)

Elise’s sister has caught the attention of Hollywood royalty and now Elise must spend time with the rich and famous. Is your importance based on who you know?

Jason Mendoza

Gym Candy by Carl Deuker (Football)

Mick wants to be the best running back for himself and his team, but he knows he needs an edge to make him bigger and faster.

DJ Rising by Love Maia (DJ)

Marley lives for music, but has to struggle with the fact his mother is an addict. Marley’s dream is to be professional DJ. When he gets a job things start to go well, but disasters at home cause everything to fall apart.

Past Perfect by Leila Sales (Pranks)

Chelsea wants to hang out with her friends and eat ice cream, but she has to get a summer job at the Essex Historical Colonial Village. She learns about friendship while being involved in an epic prank war.

Paper Towns by John Green (Florida)

Quentin lives in Florida and has lived next door Margo his entire life. When she is missing, he has to find her and goes on the adventure of a lifetime. 

Janet

Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza (Robot But Not a Robot)

Mila finds out that she is an experiment in artificial intelligence. Her mother is actually one of the scientists who created her.  It has been decided that Mila should be scrapped and now she will have to fight for her life.

Your Robot Dog Will Die by Arin Greenwood (Robots)

Nano lives on Dog Island where a company has decided to make robotic dogs and this island is the home of the last of the living dogs. After a genetic experiment, dogs have stopped wagging their tails and are being recalled.

Delirium by Lauren Oliver (Falling in Love)

Lena lives in a world where love is considered a disease and you are supposed to receive the cure when you turn eighteen. Lena meets Alex just before she is to receive her cure and her feelings change.

LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff (Artificial Intelligence)

Eve lives on a junkyard island filled with radiation. She learns she is gifted with the power to destroy robots with her mind and now she has to escape a gangster who has her on his most wanted list.

Michael

The Good Demon by Jimmy Cajoleas (Demons)

Claire was possessed by a demon, but when her demon is exorcised away from her she is left all alone. Her demon was like a friendly sister who helped her. Claire is ready to do anything to get her demon back.

The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles (Underworld)

Zoe is dealing with her father’s death in a caving accident and she and her brother are attacked and then saved by a bounty hunter called X. X is from a hell called the Lowlands and he is sent to take the soul of Zoe’s attacker. X makes a mistake and wants to capture Zoe.

The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones (Demon Deals)

Dee’s life is not going well. Her home life is terrible and she is about to be kicked out of school, but she decides to make a deal with a demon. He asks for her heart.

Serpentine and Sacrifice by Cindy Pon (Underworld)

Skybright has always wondered who she really is but has focused her time training to be a lady’s maid for her friend Zhen Liu. One night, she realizes she is not quite human and has to find her destiny.

A Brief History of YA Literature, an Infographic

Several months ago someone on Twitter asked a question about YA literature and I went looking for an answer. That sent me down a rabbit hole in which I started reading a bunch of research and articles about YA lit. It was a fascinating journey through space and time, and my life as an adult. I started working as a YA paraprofessional in public libraries in 1993 at the age of 20, right around the time libraries really started committing sincere time and energy to serving teens. I became a degreed librarian in 2002, just a few months after The Teen, a prolific YA reader herself, was born. So this research was both professional and personal. In many ways, the timeline you see below is a timeline of my career working with teens and reading the books that I was sharing with them. My life as a reader and my career as a YA librarian is woven into the fabric of this infographic you see below.

To make the following infographic, I took a deep dive into the history of YA literature, reading a lot of research online and in professional journals. I also sought out the help of my fellow TLTers who checked and then double checked my work. We checked initial book publication dates. We swapped out lesser known titles for more well known titles that represented that era best. We looked to make sure we were as inclusive and diverse as we could be, understanding that early eras of YA literature were sadly definitely not focused on representation. Then we combed through this searching for typos (I sincerely hope you don’t find any!). My friend and YA librarian extraordinaire Heather Booth was a particular help to me on this and I thank her. The infographic itself was made using Canva.

Today I present to you a brief history of YA literature, an infographic

Please note, because this is an infographic, it is by no means comprehensive. There are lots of great YA titles and authors that I would have liked to included here. For example, Sarah Dessen’s first book, That Summer, was published in 1996, just a few years after I started working with teens in libraries, and she has always been there with me working with teens in libraries. It also seems weird not to have John Green on this infographic given the influence he had on YA readers in the earlier 2000s. It seems especially weird not to have one of The Teen and I’s favorite authors, A. S. King, on this infographic. There are way more amazing books and authors that everyone should know about, hands down, but this infographic is a place to start.

Also, a brief note about Monster by Walter Dean Myers. It was originally published in 1999, but it won the first ever Michael L. Printz Award for Young Adult literature in 2000 so I put it on the 2000s.

It’s also interesting to note that although YA literature originally was defined as being a book written for someone aged 12 to 18, today most YA literature is suggested as being for readers ages 14 and up and more often than not contains a protagonist who is 16 and up. More and more, it’s is Middle Grade fiction, defined as being for readers ages 8 to 12, that the youngest teen readers turn to. Younger teens, those ages 13, 14 or 15, are often left out of the literature all together these days. Andrea Sower did some anecdotal data collecting about this which she shared on Twitter.

Whether you are an experienced YA librarian or someone who is just diving into the world of YA lit professionally or personally, I hope you will take a few moments to journey into the history of YA lit and learn a bit more about it. Understanding the history of YA lit helps us understand a bit more of what makes YA lit, well, YA lit and why that matters.

When you think about YA literature, what are some of the authors and titles that you think of as being representative of that time in YA history? Talk with us in the comments about the history of YA literature and what it means to you.

Resources and Some Further Reading:

Be sure to go down the rabbit hole yourself and follow the links on each article to even more reading about the history of YA.

https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-10522-8_2

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/how-young-adult-fiction-blossomed-with-teenage-culture-in-america-180968967/

https://historycooperative.org/fantasy-to-reality-the-history-of-young-adult-literature/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_adult_fiction

https://www.pearsonhighered.com/assets/samplechapter/0/1/3/3/0133066797.pdfh

https://blog.bookstellyouwhy.com/what-exactly-is-young-adult-literature-a-brief-history

https://medium.com/the-establishment/the-critical-evolution-of-lgbtq-young-adult-literature-ce40cd4905c6

https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/rise-young-adult-books-lgbtq-characters-what-s-next-n981176

http://theconversation.com/telling-the-real-story-diversity-in-young-adult-literature-46268

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diversity_in_young_adult_fiction

https://www.timetoast.com/timelines/history-of-ya-literature

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2011/08/how-young-adult-fiction-came-of-age/242671/

https://my.visme.co/projects/w4ynw9mo-timeline-of-young-adult-literature

A Brief History of YA Literature

Conversation Snapshots: Let’s Talk YA Lit Titles & YA Programming Success

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YA Lit Suggestions

Although I do a lot of blogging here, sometimes good conversations happen on Twitter. Last Sunday, I wrote a post about updating YA titles that are discussed in media discussions and then I asked people on Twitter to recommend books for those updated discussions. Follow the tweet and you will see some of the recommended titles.

There were several recommendations for Scythe by Neal Shusterman, One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus and They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. All great recommendations.

I keep thinking about how odd it is in retrospect that all these articles that talk about older YA don’t mention two of the first really popular – like word of mouth and all the teens come in asking for them popular titles: Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. What titles – old or new – do you think need to be included in the conversation? Please let us know in the comments.

Teen Programming Success!

The second question I asked this past week was about popular YA/Teen programming. What, I asked, is the most popular program you have ever hosted past or present? You’ll get lots of great programming ideas by reading through this thread. Many have them have been and continue to be popular for me and some of them are completely new ideas that I am looking forward to trying out.

Have some other teen programming success stories that you would like to share? Drop us a comment.

Feminist AF Fashions and the YA Characters That Rock Them

feminist

For a long time, I bought into the lie that a feminist couldn’t be girly or care too much about fashion. I believed that in order to be a feminist, you had to reject all things associated with what it traditionally meant to be female. Pink and tutus, for example, were straight out. By over time, I learned that this belief was not, in fact, feminist. This is one of the reasons why when I was designing the Feminist AF graphic, I purposely choose to use an image of a red sequined background. Young feminist Karen would have rejected anything with glitter or sequins and pearls or whatever as not feminist. Young feminist Karen would have been wrong. I love the image so much that I had a cell phone case made out of it, which is what I now proudly carry. (Ordered via Snapfish)

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The Teen models my TLT Feminist AF phone case

Meanwhile, The Teen found her own way to turn her phone into a Feminist AF fashion statement. Be sure to check out how she organized her apps.

femphone2

 

Today, guest poster Lisa Krok is talking with us about Feminist AF fashion statements and then she shares some books featuring YA characters that rock all kinds of fashion. Because feminist and fashion can go together and we can rock it!


 

While teens don’t have Cinna on hand to style them like the Girl on Fire, many choices are out there to cover feminist fashionistas from head to toe. Starting at the top, teens can keep warm and in vogue with this handmade beanie, found on Etsy. Alternatively, for a golden glam look, try David and Young’s feminist baseball cap, found on Poshmark.

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https://www.etsy.com/listing/504546661/feminist-black-beanie-hat-white-text

https://poshmark.com/listing/Baseball-Feminist-hat-

What better way to accent your feminist cap than with some badass earrings!  Author Hillary Monahan creates fun and funky jewelry choices with feminist options featured in her Etsy shop.

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fem5

 

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https://www.etsy.com/shop/HillsPeculiarities

Up next, some trendy t-shirts to flaunt girl power.  Amazon.com hosts a plethora of listings from a variety of sellers.  One of the best ways to promote feminism is of course to support and empower each other, and resist those who do not.   www.amazon.com

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Your feet need some love, too. Try these lively socks that are just a sampling of many choices from Blue Q  https://www.blueq.com/socks/ .

femsocksLast but not least, teens need the most important accessory of all: an awesome book! Feminist AF Fashionistas come in a wide array of forms and these characters (and books) prove it:

A Flair for Glam

Hair, body, face…and the DRESS!

femdress

Tough as Nails

Rock some Timbs like Bri,  shoot purple lightning from your hands, or wear a snake as jewelry.

femnails


Fashion Has No Limitations

All genders, all sizes, all cultures, and all sexual orientations.

femmultiEditor’s Note: You can also teach teens to make their own feminist fashion statements, so look for an upcoming post where I share with you just how you can do this.

Meet Our Guest Poster

lisakrok1

-Lisa Krok is a Feminist AF Ravenclaw, library manager, and 2019 and 2018 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers committee member. She is counting the days until we have a female POTUS. Lisa can be found being bookish and political on Twitter @readonthebeach.

2019 Collection Development Resources, a handy list of resources to help you buy new books in the new year

One of the reasons that I do this blog is that it allows me to create and curate a resource for myself. That’s right, I use this blog as a resource just as much as I hope others might. It works as sort of a journal, a manual if you will, to help me be better at my daytime job. Today I am curating a list of 2019 collection development resources because I want to have them all in one place for myself moving forward, but I’m happy to share them with you and I hope you’ll share your favorite resources with me.

tltbutton7

YA Lit

Rachel has put together an amazing resource for those who purchase YA lit which you can access here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Q6zleJBHg0EWLG22aC3awjJQk7SaS5qtDlaZEb02XgU/edit?usp=sharing. You can learn more about Rachel at Rec-It Rachel.

Bookbirds has a curated list of YA lit releases which you can find here: http://www.booksbirds.com/2018/02/your-guide-to-2019-ya-releases.html

Stacked books has a list of 2019 YA lit titles with teens of color on the cover. You can view that post here: http://stackedbooks.org/2018/07/2019-ya-books-with-teens-of-color-on-the-cover-so-far.html

Epic Reads has curated Harper’s 2019 YA lit cover reveals here: https://www.epicreads.com/blog/summer-2019-young-adult-book-covers/

You can view the Penguin 2019 YA lit book preview here: http://www.penguinteen.com/2019-penguin-teen-ya-book-preview/

Macmillan has a list of 2019 YA releases which you can view here: http://macmillanlibrary.com/2018/08/20/books-for-teens-2019-ooh-la-la/

Simon Teen has a look at their 2019 YA lit book covers here: https://rivetedlit.com/2018/06/04/your-first-look-at-all-the-covers-for-our-spring-2019-ya-books/

And Goodreads currently has a list of 665 books tagged as 2019 YA lit releases which you can view here: https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/128821.YA_Novels_of_2019

MG Lit

The Goodreads middle grade list currently has 265 titles on it and you can view that list here: https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/111975.Middle_Grade_Novels_of_2019

There are some MG novels listed on this 2018 and 2019 spreadsheet over at MG Book Village which you can find here: https://mgbookvillage.org/2018releasedates/

Goodreads also has a list of MG and YA lit titles that feature POC characters here: https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/111986.2019_YA_MG_Books_With_POC_Leads

Goodreads has a list of MG and YA lit titles that feature GLBTQAI+ themes here: https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/108612.2019_YA_Books_with_Possible_LGBT_Themes

I will be adding to this list as I find new resources and please feel free to add any links you are aware of in the comments. Happy book buying!

 

Book Review: Dig by A. S. King, an important reflection on white privilege in YA literature

digPublisher’s Book Description:

Acclaimed master of the YA novel A. S. King’s eleventh book is a surreal and searing dive into the tangled secrets of an upper-middle-class white family in suburban Pennsylvania and the terrible cost the family’s children pay to maintain the family name.

The Shoveler, the Freak, CanIHelpYou?, Loretta the Flea-Circus Ring Mistress, and First-Class Malcolm. These are the five teenagers lost in the Hemmings family’s maze of tangled secrets. Only a generation removed from being simple Pennsylvania potato farmers, Gottfried and Marla Hemmings managed to trade digging spuds for developing subdivisions and now sit atop a seven-figure bank account, wealth they’ve declined to pass on to their adult children or their teenage grand children. “Because we want them to thrive,” Marla always says. What does thriving look like? Like carrying a snow shovel everywhere. Like selling pot at the Arby’s drive-thru window. Like a first class ticket to Jamiaca between cancer treatments. Like a flea-circus in a doublewide. Like the GPS coordinates to a mound of dirt in a New Jersey forest. As the rot just beneath the surface of the Hemmings precious white suburban respectability begins to spread, the far flung grand children gradually find their ways back to each other, just in time to uncover the terrible cost of maintaining the family name.

With her inimitable surrealism and insight into teenage experience, A.S. King explores how a corrosive culture of polite, affluent white supremacy tears a family apart and how one determined generation can save themselves.

This book will be released in March 2019. I read an ARC that I received via the publisher. ISBN: 9781101994917

Karen’s Thoughts:

I just finished reading an ARC of DIG by A. S. King and my mind is blown, as it always is. And I mean I just literally finished reading it. I closed the pages and had to sit down at my computer and talk about this book. It’s a little early to be talking about this book, but talk about it I must. No spoilers.

A. S. King is one of those authors that adults always say teens aren’t reading, in part because they’re always underestimating teens. They say this at the same time that they assign things in class like Kafka’s Metamorphosis or Shakespeare or Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. There is some real disconnect in the way that adults talk about teens. They often under-estimate them and have zero to little faith in them. Teens know this; they know that many of the adults who claim to love them or value them or be in the process of educating them are doing very few of those things because they don’t actually respect teens. They know this and they resent it. Yes, not all adults and yes not all teens, but on the whole, that’s been the history of adolescence. Adults complain about teens even though they did the same things as teens and we underestimate them even though we resented the ways adults underestimated us as teens and we keep repeating this vicious cycle.

Make no mistake, A. S. King writes seriously weird and trippy books. I mentioned Metamorphosis above for a reason, King does not write straightforward literature. She takes a trippy, winding path with allusions and metaphors and surrealism that takes a while to get to the point but when you get there, your mind is both blown and sure that you missed a lot of stuff along the way. You could read an A. S. King book over and over again and find something new and different every time. And you will probably walk away sure that you didn’t fully get it every time. It’s that type of literature. It’s bold and confusing and maddening and dark yet inspiring and profound and moving.

If I’m being honest, I will tell you that although I name A. S. King as one of my favorite authors, and this is a true fact, I find her books difficult to begin. It takes a while to get into the rhythm of each book, to find out what’s knitting this particular book together, to suss out what’s real and what’s not. This is true for Dig as well, it takes a while to figure out who is who and what is going on. This is part of the reason, I think, that adults think that King doesn’t write YA. And yet King really gets into the heart of what it means to be a teenager in current times. She writes teens more authentically then some of the bestselling YA authors. She isn’t an adult writing YA for the adults that buy YA, she is an adult writing YA for the teens that read YA because she cares about teenagers and the teenage experience. Teen readers feel this in the pages and relate, even when adult readers find the books unrelatable or unapproachable. When I read the thoughts and conversations that the teens have in this book, they correlate to what I am hearing my own teens talk about and in the ways that they talk about them. It’s an authentic voice captured in radically unique ways.

Now I’m writing this and worried A. S. King will stumble across this post and wonder why I keep saying that adults think that teens don’t like her work but the truth is, many YA librarians have said this to me. Every time I post about A. S. King I get emails and replies, “yes but, teens don’t really like her work” or “it’s too intellectual for teens”. I find that to be a worrisome thing for YA librarians to say, because it means from the get go we are underestimating the very people we serve.

Dig is a multi-generational novel that brings together a host of characters and talks about things like racism, abuse, family dysfunction and mental health. It introduces a bunch of incredibly weird characters who seemingly have nothing to do with a cohesive story and then it just blows your mind in the way all the pieces are woven together. Once that final piece of the puzzle is put into place, you see the complete picture and you are stunned. In some ways, this is one of her most accessible books because the topics these teens are facing are so relevant to current events and discussions. Also, some of the more surreal elements are rooted in reality in ways that ultimately make sense to the story. The part of the story that made the least amount of sense to me, that was the most confusing, became an important element of the story that really works. That’s some good storytelling.

A. S. King is also one of the growing number of authors who seek to include frank discussions about sex, sexuality and sexual abuse in their novels because they recognize that this is a very real part of the teenage years. Teens think about sex. They’re trying to figure it out. A lot of them are doing it. This is one of the few YA novels that talks frankly not only about masturbation, but about female masturbation. King’s honesty resonates with teen readers because they feel heard, valued, respected and understood. King acknowledges the truth of adolescence, which makes her books that much more authentic to teens as readers.

I also like that in Dig King shares a lot about the adults in these teens’ lives. They are real, raw, human and flawed, but they are there and an important part of the story. This is, ultimately, a story about family and dysfunction and secrets and finding your own way – of digging yourself out of your genes and your family history – and it is profound. That’s what all teenagers are trying to do, right? Trying to find their own place in this world, to find their own voice, to set their own path, to break free of outside expectations and desires to truly find a sense of self and future. That’s what these teens are doing, and that’s why teen readers will relate.

Some of the topics in this story that are touched on include: racism, poverty, domestic violence, death and grief, secrets, the long lasting effects of trauma, teenage pregnancy, family dynamics and dysfunction, and depression and anxiety. Just to name a few. King really asks the readers to consider things like privilege, especially economic and white privilege. Characters often talk about race and bias and privilege and I think it is valuable and needed, but also handled well in the context of this novel. Even some of the characters who may consider themselves “woke” have personal revelations that indicate that they may not be as “woke” as they seem. I hate to keep using the word profound, but I found it it to be truly profound. As someone who is also wrestling with white privilege and what it means to live in our world in 2018 and how to be a good ally, it is nice to read a book that asks me to think about these issues in real and honest ways.

I keep a journal where I write down a lot of my favorite quotes from books and I marked a ton of quotes that I will be adding to that journal. Dig doesn’t come out until March of 2019 so it’s far too early to share them with you, but I wish that I could. There are some very moving reflections on the nature of self and family that I will be reflecting on for a very long time. The Teen is currently reading this book and I’ll let you know what she thinks once she finishes.

At the end of the day, this is a book I hope that everyone will read as it genuinely asks the reader to reflect on the concept of white privilege and it does not shy away from that discussion. What other books on this topic would you recommend?

YA A to Z: F is for Female Friendship

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I am very honored to be the “Second Mom” to The Teen’s best friend, who we call The Bestie here at TLT. I have known this girl since she was in the 3rd grade and I truly consider her to be a part of my family. When I travel, I text her and keep in touch with her just as I do the two girls that I have given birth to. I feel very blessed to have her as an honorary family member and I love seeing her friendship with my daughter. As someone who moved a lot – hello, military brat – I never really got to have the type of BFFs that you read about in books. I am so delighted to see my daughter have one of her own and am proud to see the women they are becoming separately and together. Because of all of this, one of the things I always notice when reading YA is the best friend quotient. I like to give them both books that highlight besties and realistically portray the ups and downs of female friendship. My hope is that it will help them to develop realistic expectations and remind them that even in the moments where their friendship is tried and tested, as all friendships are, that they will make the choice and do the work of maintaining and nurturing their friendship. I’ve posted some of my favorite female friendship books before, and you can read that post here, but I’ve read some new ones to add to the list so keep reading.

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The Teen and The Bestie

Stay Sweet by Siobhan Vivian

stay sweetPublisher’s Book Description

Summer in Sand Lake isn’t complete without a trip to Meade Creamery—the local ice cream stand founded in 1944 by Molly Meade who started making ice cream to cheer up her lovesick girlfriends while all the boys were away at war. Since then, the stand has been owned and managed exclusively by local girls, who inevitably become the best of friends. Seventeen-year-old Amelia and her best friend Cate have worked at the stand every summer for the past three years, and Amelia is “Head Girl” at the stand this summer. When Molly passes away before Amelia even has her first day in charge, Amelia isn’t sure that the stand can go on. That is, until Molly’s grandnephew Grady arrives and asks Amelia to stay on to help continue the business…but Grady’s got some changes in mind…

Karen’s Thoughts

This summer I had the honor of having The Teen volunteer with me at my library, which meant every day we drove back and forth from work together and listened to audio books. One of our favorites was Stay Sweet. I loved listening to this book with The Teen for a wide variety of reasons. It is no exaggeration when I tell you that we laughed and we cried together listening to this book. There are some very moving and emotional scenes and we balled. There may have been snottage.

One of my favorite things about this book was how much it emphasized the power and importance of female friendship. From the very beginning we step foot into this world where there is a strong emphasis put on empowering women and that stream of thought is never lost. Even when our main character’s friendship is put to the test and strained, as most friendships will be, the significance of and dedication to one another remains powerful.

As you may recall, The Teen and The Bestie often help me out a lot here at TLT and I take them to a lot of book events. When we finished this book I immediately thought, we need to make sure you both have a copy of this book to remind you of what being a best friend can look like as you make the transition from graduating high school. This goes right into both of their collections.

This book is moving, thoughtful, and a powerful story that reminds girls that they can learn, grow, be empowered and achieve their dreams. Sharing this book and this summer with The Teen will always have very deep and lasting meaning for me, and I hope The Bestie will love it as well.

Don't fear - The Teen isn't trying to kill The Bestie, they're just making a movie together

Don’t fear – The Teen isn’t trying to kill The Bestie, they’re just making a movie together

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

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Publisher’s Book Description:

Beware of the woods and the dark, dank deep.

He’ll follow you home, and he won’t let you sleep.

Who are the Sawkill Girls?

Marion: the new girl. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find.

Zoey: the pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is.

Val: the queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives, a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.

Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires.

Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight… until now.

Karen’s Thoughts:

This may in some ways be a weird book to include on a list like this. After all, it’s a dark paranormal mystery where a lot of girls die. It is also, however, the story of two girls who become friends and try to help each other solve the mystery of what it happening to the Sawkill Girls and how they can save themselves and each other from being the next one. This is a very compelling read with a lot of feminist undertones; it seriously makes some bold declarations about what it means to be a girl in this world. I think Sawkill Girls will be a phenomenal success when it comes out in October of this year.

The Teen and The Bestie looking at ARCs for an ARCParty here at TLT

The Teen and The Bestie looking at ARCs for an ARCParty here at TLT

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E K Johnston

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Publisher’s Book Description:

Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don’t cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a tiny town. The team’s summer training camp is Hermione’s last and marks the beginning of the end of… she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black.

In every class, there’s a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They’re never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she’s always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn’t the beginning of Hermione Winter’s story and she’s not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.

Karen’s Thoughts:

I love this book and it is one of my favorites because of the way the two best friends deal with the sexual assault of one half of their duo. Johnston describes this book as a fantasy because it is the way she wishes we handled sexual assault compared to the ways in which we do. When Hermione is assaulted her best friend stands by her and up for her and it is glorious. In your moments of darkest need, everyone needs a best friend like this.

The Bestie is a cheerleader and we try to watch her cheer as often as we can because she's part of the family and we support her always

The Bestie is a cheerleader and we try to watch her cheer as often as we can because she’s part of the family and we support her always

The Wicked Deep by Shea Earnshaw

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Publisher’s Book Description:

Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.

Karen’s Thoughts:

This is one of the teens favorite books of this year. It’s another dark paranormal – what can I say, we have a type – that also has a strong friendship tucked inside the pages. Also, there are witches! Friendship, romance, witches and local legends make for a pretty enthralling read.

The Teen and The Bestie making a "classic" portrait at an art museum installation

The Teen and The Bestie making a “classic” portrait at an art museum installation

The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed

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Publisher’s Book Description

Three misfits come together to avenge the rape of a fellow classmate and in the process trigger a change in the misogynist culture at their high school transforming the lives of everyone around them in this searing and timely story.

Who are the Nowhere Girls?

They’re everygirl. But they start with just three:

Grace Salter is the new girl in town, whose family was run out of their former community after her southern Baptist preacher mom turned into a radical liberal after falling off a horse and bumping her head.

Rosina Suarez is the queer punk girl in a conservative Mexican immigrant family, who dreams of a life playing music instead of babysitting her gaggle of cousins and waitressing at her uncle’s restaurant.

Erin Delillo is obsessed with two things: marine biology and Star Trek: The Next Generation, but they aren’t enough to distract her from her suspicion that she may in fact be an android.

When Grace learns that Lucy Moynihan, the former occupant of her new home, was run out of town for having accused the popular guys at school of gang rape, she’s incensed that Lucy never had justice. For their own personal reasons, Rosina and Erin feel equally deeply about Lucy’s tragedy, so they form an anonymous group of girls at Prescott High to resist the sexist culture at their school, which includes boycotting sex of any kind with the male students.

Told in alternating perspectives, this groundbreaking novel is an indictment of rape culture and explores with bold honesty the deepest questions about teen girls and sexuality.

Karen’s Thoughts

This is another meaningful contemporary that explores themes of sexual assault and teenage sexuality while giving us some strong female friendships. Here, a group of girls come together and fight the system while exploring who they are and trying to stand up for what they think is right. It’s powerfully, hand down, pull no punches feminism and it rocks! Also, there are a lot of intersectional friendships that happen here and it’s great to have some strong female friendships that are intersectional.

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The Bestie came and supported The Teen as she participates in a national martial arts tournament. They are interested in very different things but support each other!

What YALit with a strong female friendship would you add to our list? Let us know in the comments below. The Teen and The Bestie may want to read them!

YA A to Z: H is for Historical Fiction, a guest post by librarian Amanda Perez

Today in our YA A to Z series, new librarian Amanda Perez joins us to talk about Historical Fiction in YA Lit.

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Historical Fiction authors go through a great deal of research in order to present their readers with an accurate window into history.  The final product presented to teen readers is often a masterful look into that particular moment in time, which encourages the development of empathy and new perspectives.  The benefits of reading Historical Fiction are well documented and as such are often the focus of book reports.

It is important to note that Historical Fiction can also be fun and not just a homework assignment.  The genre is unique in that it enlightens as well as entertains. The current trend of genre-bending include the latest works of historical fiction, and they may well be thrillers, humorous tales, or tinged with fantasy. Below is a list of recently released Historical Fiction teen novels, with great reviews.

(All Book Summary’s taken from Amazon.com)

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What the Night Sings by Vesper Stamper (2018)

After losing her family and everything she knew in the Nazi concentration camps, Gerta is finally liberated, only to find herself completely alone. Without her Papa, her music, or even her true identity, she must move past the task of surviving and onto living her life. In the displaced persons camp where she is staying, Gerta meets Lev, a fellow teen survivor who she just might be falling for, despite her feelings for someone else. With a newfound Jewish identity she never knew she had, and a return to the life of music she thought she lost forever, Gerta must choose how to build a new future.

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Olivia Twist by Lorie Langdon (2018)

Olivia Twist is an innovative reimagining of Charles Dickens’ classic tale Oliver Twist, in which Olivia was forced to live as a boy for her own safety until she was rescued from the streets. Now eighteen, Olivia finds herself at a crossroads: revealed secrets threaten to destroy the “proper” life she has built for herself, while newfound feelings for an arrogant young man she shouldn’t like could derail her carefully laid plans for the future.

Olivia Brownlow is no damsel in distress. Born in a workhouse and raised as a boy among thieving London street gangs, she is as tough and cunning as they come. When she is taken in by her uncle after a caper gone wrong, her life goes from fighting and stealing on the streets to lavish dinners and soirees as a debutante in high society. But she can’t seem to escape her past … or forget the teeming slums where children just like her still scrabble to survive.

Jack MacCarron rose from his place in London’s East End to become the adopted “nephew” of a society matron. Little does society know that MacCarron is a false name for a boy once known among London gangs as the Artful Dodger, and that he and his “aunt” are robbing them blind every chance they get. When Jack encounters Olivia Brownlow in places he least expects, his curiosity is piqued. Why is a society girl helping a bunch of homeless orphan thieves? Even more intriguing, why does she remind him so much of someone he once knew? Jack finds himself wondering if going legit and risking it all might be worth it for love.

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The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe and Lilit Thwaites (2017)

Based on the experience of real-life Auschwitz prisoner Dita Kraus, this is the incredible story of a girl who risked her life to keep the magic of books alive during the Holocaust.

Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious volumes the prisoners have managed to sneak past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the librarian of Auschwitz.

Out of one of the darkest chapters of human history comes this extraordinary story of courage and hope.

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Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough (2018)

Her mother died when she was twelve, and suddenly Artemisia Gentileschi had a stark choice: a life as a nun in a convent or a life grinding pigment for her father’s paint.

She chose paint.
By the time she was seventeen, Artemisia did more than grind pigment. She was one of Rome’s most talented painters, even if no one knew her name. But Rome in 1610 was a city where men took what they wanted from women, and in the aftermath of rape Artemisia faced another terrible choice: a life of silence or a life of truth, no matter the cost.

He will not consume
my every thought.
I am a painter.
I will paint.

Joy McCullough’s bold novel in verse is a portrait of an artist as a young woman, filled with the soaring highs of creative inspiration and the devastating setbacks of a system built to break her. McCullough weaves Artemisia’s heartbreaking story with the stories of the ancient heroines, Susanna and Judith, who become not only the subjects of two of Artemisia’s most famous paintings but sources of strength as she battles to paint a woman’s timeless truth in the face of unspeakable and all-too-familiar violence.

I will show you
what a woman can do.

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Hell and High Water by Tanya Landman (2017)

Caleb has spent his life roaming southern England with his Pa, little to their names but his father’s signet ring and a puppet theater for popular, raunchy Punch and Judy shows — until the day Pa is convicted of a theft he didn’t commit and sentenced to transportation to the colonies in America. From prison, Caleb’s father sends him to the coast to find an aunt Caleb never knew he had. His aunt welcomes him into her home, but her neighbors see only Caleb’s dark skin. Still, Caleb slowly falls into a strange rhythm in his new life . . . until one morning he finds a body washed up on the shore. The face is unrecognizable after its time at sea, but the signet ring is unmistakable: it can only be Caleb’s father. Mystery piles on mystery as both church and state deny what Caleb knows. From award-winning British author Tanya Landman comes a heart-stopping story of race, class, family, and corruption so deep it can kill.

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Dread Nation by Justina Ireland (2018) – Historical Fiction/Alternate History/Horror

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania—derailing the War Between the States and changing the nation forever.

In this new America, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Education Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead.

But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.

But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose.

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Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham (2017) – Historical Fiction/ Multiple Timelines

Some bodies won’t stay buried.
Some stories need to be told. 

When seventeen-year-old Rowan Chase finds a skeleton on her family’s property, she has no idea that investigating the brutal century-old murder will lead to a summer of painful discoveries about the present and the past.

Nearly one hundred years earlier, a misguided violent encounter propels seventeen-year-old Will Tillman into a racial firestorm. In a country rife with violence against blacks and a hometown segregated by Jim Crow, Will must make hard choices on a painful journey towards self-discovery and face his inner demons in order to do what’s right the night Tulsa burns.

Through intricately interwoven alternating perspectives, Jennifer Latham’s lightning-paced page-turner brings the Tulsa race riot of 1921 to blazing life and raises important questions about the complex state of US race relations–both yesterday and today.

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Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson (2017) – Historical Fiction/SciFi/ Multiple Timelines

2065: Adri has been handpicked to live on Mars. But weeks before launch, she discovers the journal of a girl who lived in her house more than a hundred years ago and is immediately drawn into the mystery surrounding her fate.

1934: Amid the fear and uncertainty of the Dust Bowl, Catherine’s family’s situation is growing dire. She must find the courage to sacrifice everything she loves in order to save the one person she loves most.

1919: In the recovery following World War I, Lenore tries to come to terms with her grief for her brother, a fallen British soldier, and plans to sail from England to America. But can she make it that far?

While their stories span thousands of miles and multiple generations, Lenore, Catherine, and Adri’s fates are entwined in ways both heartbreaking and hopeful. In Jodi Lynn Anderson’s signature haunting, lyrical prose, human connections spark spellbindingly to life, and a bright light shines on the small but crucial moments that determine one’s fate.

But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies.

And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.

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Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen (2018) – Historical Fiction/Thriller

After her mother is shot at a checkpoint, fifteen-year-old Sarah meets a mysterious man with an ambiguous accent, a suspiciously bare apartment, and a lockbox full of weapons. He’s part of the secret resistance against the Third Reich, and he needs Sarah to hide in plain sight at a school for the daughters of top Nazi brass, posing as one of them. If she can befriend the daughter of a key scientist and get invited to her house, she might be able to steal the blueprints to a bomb that could destroy the cities of Western Europe. Nothing could prepare Sarah for her cutthroat schoolmates, and soon she finds herself in a battle for survival unlike any she’d ever imagined. But anyone who underestimates this innocent-seeming girl does so at their peril. She may look sweet, but she’s the Nazis’ worst nightmare.

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The Radical Element: 12 Stories of Daredevils, Debutantes & Other Dauntless Girls, edited by Jessica Spotswood (2018)

To respect yourself, to love yourself, should not have to be a radical decision. And yet it remains as challenging for an American girl to make today as it was in 1927 on the steps of the Supreme Court. It’s a decision that must be faced when you’re balancing on the tightrope of neurodivergence, finding your way as a second-generation immigrant, or facing down American racism even while loving America. And it’s the only decision when you’ve weighed society’s expectations and found them wanting. In The Radical Element, twelve of the most talented writers working in young adult literature today tell the stories of girls of all colors and creeds standing up for themselves and their beliefs — whether that means secretly learning Hebrew in early Savannah, using the family magic to pass as white in 1920s Hollywood, or singing in a feminist punk band in 1980s Boston. And they’re asking you to join them.

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The Book of Pearl by Timothee de Fombelle (2018) – Historical Fiction/Fantasy

Joshua Pearl comes from a world that we no longer believe in — a world of fairy tale. He knows that his great love waits for him there, but he is stuck in an unfamiliar time and place — an old-world marshmallow shop in Paris on the eve of World War II. As his memories begin to fade, Joshua seeks out strange objects: tiny fragments of tales that have already been told, trinkets that might possibly help him prove his own story before his love is lost forever. Sarah Ardizzone and Sam Gordon translate the original French into a work both luminous and layered, enabling Timothée de Fombelle’s modern fairy tale to thrum with magic. Brimming with romance and history, mystery and adventure, this ode to the power of memory, storytelling, and love will ensnare any reader’s imagination and every reader’s heart.

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Murder, Magic and What We Wore by Kelly Jones (2017) – Historical Fiction/Thriller/Comedy

The year is 1818, the city is London, and 16-year-old Annis Whitworth has just learned that her father is dead and all his money is missing. And so, of course, she decides to become a spy.

Annis always suspected that her father was himself a spy, and following in his footsteps to unmask his killer makes perfect sense. Alas, it does not make sense to England’s current spymasters—not even when Annis reveals that she has the rare magical ability to sew glamours: garments that can disguise the wearer completely.

Well, if the spies are too pigheaded to take on a young woman of quality, then Annis will take them on. And so she crafts a new double life for herself. Miss Annis Whitworth will appear to live a quiet life in a country cottage with her aunt, and Annis-in-disguise as Madame Martine, glamour artist, will open a magical dressmaking shop. That way she can earn a living, maintain her social standing, and, in her spare time, follow the coded clues her father left behind and unmask his killer.

It can’t be any harder than navigating the London social season, can it?historical13

 

Odd & True by Cat Winters (2017) – Historical Fiction/Horror

Trudchen grew up hearing Odette’s stories of their monster-slaying mother and a magician’s curse. But now that Tru’s older, she’s starting to wonder if her older sister’s tales were just comforting lies, especially because there’s nothing fantastic about her own life—permanently disabled and in constant pain from childhood polio.

In 1909, after a two-year absence, Od reappears with a suitcase supposedly full of weapons and a promise to rescue Tru from the monsters on their way to attack her. But it’s Od who seems haunted by something. And when the sisters’ search for their mother leads them to a face-off with the Leeds Devil, a nightmarish beast that’s wreaking havoc in the Mid-Atlantic states, Tru discovers the peculiar possibility that she and her sister—despite their dark pasts and ordinary appearances—might, indeed, have magic after all.

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The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein (2017) – Historical Fiction/Mystery
When fifteen-year-old Julia Beaufort-Stuart wakes up in the hospital, she knows the lazy summer break she’d imagined won’t be exactly what she anticipated. And once she returns to her grandfather’s estate, a bit banged up but alive, she begins to realize that her injury might not have been an accident. One of her family’s employees is missing, and he disappeared on the very same day she landed in the hospital.

Desperate to figure out what happened, she befriends Euan McEwen, the Scottish Traveller boy who found her when she was injured, and his standoffish sister, Ellen. As Julie grows closer to this family, she witnesses firsthand some of the prejudices they’ve grown used to-a stark contrast to her own upbringing-and finds herself exploring thrilling new experiences that have nothing to do with a missing-person investigation.

Her memory of that day returns to her in pieces, and when a body is discovered, her new friends are caught in the crosshairs of long-held biases about Travellers. Julie must get to the bottom of the mystery in order to keep them from being framed for the crime.

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Guide Series by Mackenzi Lee (2017-2018) –Historical Fiction/Comedy

Summary for The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (Book 1):

A young bisexual British lord embarks on an unforgettable Grand Tour of Europe with his best friend/secret crush. An 18th-century romantic adventure for the modern age written by This Monstrous Thing author Mackenzi LeeSimon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda meets the 1700s.

Henry “Monty” Montague doesn’t care that his roguish passions are far from suitable for the gentleman he was born to be. But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quests for pleasure and vice are in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

So Monty vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Witty, dazzling, and intriguing at every turn, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is an irresistible romp that explores the undeniably fine lines between friendship and love.

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Conqueror’s Trilogy by Kiersten White (2016-2018) – Historical Fiction/Alternate History

Summary for And I Darken (Book 1):

NO ONE EXPECTS A PRINCESS TO BE BRUTAL. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

More Historical Fiction Series:

Stalking Jack the Ripper series by Kerri Maniscalco

Charlotte Holmes Series by Brittany Cavallaro

Valiant Series by Lesley Livingston

Soldier Girl Series by Michael Grant

The Diviners Series by Libba Bray

Gold Seer Trilogy by Rae Carson

Jackaby Series by William Ritter

Meet Guest Blogger Amanda Perez:

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Amanda is in her first year as a Youth Librarian, currently at the Folsom Public Library, and has recently graduated with her MLIS from San Jose State University.  The fact that her nose was always stuck in a book should have been an early indicator of her eventual profession; however her undergrad degree is actually in Economics. When she’s not reading Amanda can be found attempting to keep up with her husband and two kids at their busy home.

YA A to Z: All You Need are Dragons, a guest post by Cindy Shutts

Today for YA A to Z, guest poster Cindy Shutts is talking dragons!

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Dragons are beasts that have lived in the imagination of people all over the world and bring an element of mythology and world building to the canon of Young Adult Fiction.

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Patricia Wrede changed the role of dragons in Young Adult Fiction with her Enchanted Forest Chronicles starting with Dealing with Dragons. She wrote about Princess Cimorene who became friends with Kazul, a dragon whom she ran away with and was employed by. Wrede was tired of traditional princess roles and wanted adventure for her characters. The Princess became the hero of the series and was able to fight back. This series is great for both Young Adult and Middle Grade readers. Cimorene and Kazul turned the princess-dragon dynamic around; their friendship was wonderful to read about because it broke away from the classic fantasy tropes. The dragon is not the villain and the princess is not helpless. This was one of the first books marketed as Teen Read. By today’s publishing standards, it would be labeled as Middle Grade.

If you loved The Enchanted Dragon Chronicle, definitely check out the Dragon Slipper series by Jessica Day George. Creel’s aunt wants to sacrifice her to a local group of dragons in the hope that a knight will come to rescue Creel and marry her; so that her aunt will no longer have to support her. When she meets the Dragons, she develops a warm and rich friendship with many of them.  It explains the political structure of the dragons.  The dragons have their own complex rules of government and who are in charge.

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For an awesome Science Fiction dragon story, check out Scorched by Mari Mancusi. Trinity is forced into a world of Dragon’s, when her grandfather purchases the last dragon egg. She meets two twins from the future who are on different sides of the dragon war. One saying the egg must be destroyed and one saying it must be protected at all costs.

Goodreads List of YA Dragon Books

17 YA Books With Dragons – Epic Reads

The Best Dragon Books for Teens – The YA Shelf

Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina won the Morris award in 2013. This is one of the most beautifully written dragon books for teens. Seraphina has joined the court as a musician, but she is hiding a secret that could cost her life. Dragons and Human hate each in Seraphina’s world.  This book brings a love of music to the world of dragons and explores the dark secrets of dragons. Hartman has a new book coming out this month, Tess of the Road, another dragon fantasy that is surely to be as captivating as Seraphina.

Other great dragon Young Adult titles include: The Prophecy Series by Ellen Oh, Dragon’s Keep by Janet Lee Carey, and Firelight by Sophie Jordan. Also if you like Dragon-like creatures check out Serpentine by Cindy Pon, who is amazing!

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