Land of YA
Sarah on March 23rd, 2013
You may get assigned a "social issue" book, and you might think, "Ugh, I don't want to read about an issue." BUT don't think like that! Some of the best books out there are "issue" books! In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find a good book out there (fiction or nonfiction) that doesn't talk about a "social issue" in some way.
So what are some incredible reads that focus on social issues? Try some of these...
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson*
Eighteen-year-old Lia comes to terms with her best friend's death from bulimia as she struggles with her own eating disorder.
One of my favorite books and authors!!
The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler*
Feeling like she does not fit in with the othermembers of her family, who are all thin, brilliant, and good-looking, fifteen-year-old Virginia tries to deal with her self-image, her first physical relationship, and her disillusionment with some of thepeople closest to her. Love this book! Funny but also insightful.
The Fat Boy Chronicles by Michael Buchanan
Overweight and bullied by his classmates, teenaged Jimmy Winterpock relates in his English class journal the life-changing events of his freshman year in high school. Also a movieFor.
Fat Kid Rules the World by Kelly Going
Seventeen-year-old Troy, depressed, suicidal, and weighing nearly 300 pounds, gets a new perspective on life when a homeless teenager who is a genius on guitar wants Troy to be thedrummer in his rock band.
Jersey Tomatoes Are the Best by M. Padian
When fifteen-year-old best friends Henry and Eve leave New Jersey, one for tennis camp in Florida and one for ballet camp in New York, each faces challenges that put her long-cherished dreams of the future to the test.
Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King*
Overburdened by his parents' bickering and a bully's attacks, fifteen-year-old Lucky Linderman begins dreaming of being with his grandfather, who went missing during the Vietnam War, but during a visit to Arizona, his aunt and uncle and their beautiful neighbor, Ginny, help him find a new perspective. Another one of my favorite authors ever, and this book is one of the reasons why.
Forget Me Not by C. Dean
Told from separate viewpoints, Ally discovers that she may have tried to kill herself, and Elijah, recalling his own suicide attempt, tries to give Ally a reason to live and escape from the spirits that haunt their high school.
Keep Holding On by S. Colasanti
Bullied at school and neglected by her poor, self-absorbed, single mother at home, high school junior Noelle finally reaches the breaking point after a classmate commits suicide.
Burn by S. Phillips
Bullied constantly during his freshman year in high school, Cameron's anger and isolation grows, leading to deadly consequences.
Leverage by J. Cohen*
High school sophomore Danny excels at gymnastics but is bullied, like the rest of the gymnasts, by members of the football team, until an emotionally and physically scarred new student joins the football team and forms an unlikely friendship with Danny.
Some Girls Are by C. Summers
Regina, a high school senior in the popular--and feared--crowd, suddenly falls out of favor and becomes the object of the same sort of vicious bullying that she used to inflict on others, until she finds solace with one of her former victims.
Drugs & Alcohol
Crank by Ellen Hopkins*
Kristina Snow is the perfect daughter, but she meets a boy who introduces her to drugs and becomes a very different person, struggling to control her life and her mind.
This book is a verse book and will fly by.
A Plague Year by E. Bloor
A ninth-grader who works with his father in the local supermarket describes the plagueof meth addiction that consumes many people in his Pennsylvania coal mining town from 9/11 and the nearby crash of United Flight 93 in Shanksville to the Quecreek Mine disaster in Somerset the following summer.
Beautiful by A. Reed
Haunted by serious problems in her recent past, thirteen-year-old Cassie makes a fresh start at a Seattle school but is drawn by dangerous new friends into a world of sex, drugs, and violence, while her parents remain oblivious.
Freefall by M. Scott
A bass guitar player in a teen rock band deals with alcoholism, his best friend's death, and first love.
Lush by Natasha Friend
Unable to cope with her father's alcoholism, thirteen-year-old Sam corresponds with an older student, sharing her family problems and asking for advice.
Recovery Road by B. Nelson
While she is in a rehabilitation facility for drug and alcohol abuse, seventeen-year-old Maddie meets Stewart, who is also in treatment, and they begin a relationship, which they try to maintain after they both get out.
Tales of the Madman Underground by J. Barnes*
In September 1973, as the school year begins in his depressed Ohio town, high-school senior Kurt Shoemaker determines to be "normal," despite his chaotic home life with his volatile, alcoholic mother and the deep loyalty and affection he has for his friends in the therapy group dubbed the Madman Underground.
Child Abuse & Neglect
A Child Called It by D. Pelzer*
The horrific true story of a boy singled out by his mom for torturous abuse.
A short nonfiction book that, if you're like me, you'll read in 1 hour and weep the whole way through.
The Rules of Survival by N. Werlin
Seventeen-year-old Matthew recounts his attempts, starting at a young age, to free himself and his sisters from the grip oftheir emotionally and physically abusive mother.
Lock & Key by Sarah Dessen*
When she is abandoned by her alcoholic mother, high school senior Ruby winds up living with Cora, the sister she has not seen for ten years, and learns about Cora's new life, what makes a family, how to allow people to help her when she needs it, and that she too has something to offer others.
Stick by A. Smith
Thirteen-year-old Stark "Stick" McClellan's brother has always defended him against those who tease him for his thinness and facial deformity, so when Bosten, having admitted he is gay, must leave home and their abusive parents, Sticksets out to find him.
Skin Hunger by K. Duey
In alternate chapters, Sadima travels from her farm home to the city and becomes assistant to a heartless man who is trying to restore knowledge of magic to the world, and a group of boys fights to survive in the academy that has resulted from his efforts.
Boy Meets Boy by D. Levithan*
Paul falls hard for Noah, but when Noah walks out of his life, Paul fights to have him back in his life.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post by E. Danforth*
In theearly 1990s, when gay teenager Cameron Postrebels against her conservative Montana ranch town and her family decides she needs to change her ways, she is sent to a gay conversion therapy center.
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan*
When two teens, one gay and one straight, meet accidentally and discover that they share the same name, their lives become intertwined as one begins dating the other's best friend, who produces a play revealing his relationship with them both.
Skim by M. Tamaki
"Skim" (Kimberly Keiko Cameron) is a not-slim would-be Wiccan goth who goes to a private girls' school. When her classmate Katie is dumped by her boyfriend, who then kills himself, the entire school goes into mourning overdrive. The popular clique stars a club to boost school spirit, but Skimsinks into an ever-deepening depression. Love, love, love this graphic novel!
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray*
When a plane crash strands thirteen teen beautycontestants on a mysterious island, they struggle to survive, to get along with one another, to combat the island's other diabolical occupants, and to learn their dance numbers in case they are rescued in time for the competition.
One of the funniest books I've ever read and very empowering.
*Available as an e-book or e-audiobook, as well.
Okay, I'm sure there are tons of other "issues" that I'm forgetting right now, but that'll get you started, I hope!
Sarah on March 20th, 2013
Resolutions to Read By: Grace J.
The new year is well within its third month. Right about now, the resolutions you planned probably aren’t panning out. Your goal to get better at math isn’t adding up, your idea to work out isn’t exactly working out. Some resolutions are hard to keep, but you can always make resolutions to read. It’s super easy! All you have to do is pick a few books you want to read by the end of the year. Of course I would HIGHLY recommend any of the books on Ms. Sarah’s Picks for 2012 (trust me, she always picks AMAZING books!). Or, you can check out the top 3 books I’ve read this year.
A Study in Scarlet – By: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
I read this book because I love the BBC show Sherlock, which is basically an updated version of Sherlock Holmes. Each episode of the show corresponds with one of the original Sherlock Holmes cases. For example, the first ever adventure of Sherlock Holmes is A Study in Scarlet, and the first episode of the TV show is A Study in Pink. Neat huh? Last year, if someone had asked me what I thought of the Sherlock Holmes books, I would have told them that the books were old and boring. I have NEVER been more wrong! Sherlock Holmes is an irrestible character that you can’t wait to find out about. The Sherlock Holmes books present the fascinating consulting detective and the exciting cases that he solves with his sidekick, Watson. And then after you read the book, go watch the show! The third season is being filmed RIGHT NOW. What are you waiting for? The game is afoot!
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – By: J.R.R. Tolkien
I read this book in the fall because I saw that the movie was coming out in December. I had never read any of The Lord of the Rings books, but nonetheless, I THOROUGHLY enjoyed The Hobbit. The book, a prequel to the series, takes you on an exciting adventure with a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins, 12 singing dwarves, and a Gandalf the wizard. I could really relate to Bilbo, a homebody like me, who enjoys sitting, reading, and drinking tea. Unlike most protagonists, who hear of a fantastic journey and jump right in, Bilbo is terrified of the prospect of leaving his sweet home. We get to travel with this unimaginable hero and see him face his fears to help his friends. This epic adventure is a MUST READ. (And then you can go see the first of three Hobbit movies to come, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which is just as fun as the book.)
The Maze Runner – By: James Dashner
This book puts you in the world of the Glade. A boy who knows nothing but his name, Thomas, awakes in the Glade with a gang of boys as they try to figure out why they are there in the first place, and how they can escape. A futuristic thriller that leaves you guessing at every page, I thoroughly enjoyed and sped through the Maze Runner series, which now has a prequel!
Happy reading! ^_^
Sarah on March 13th, 2013
Award season rolls around every year and immediately makes me feel like rushing out to read ALL the books on the award list that I haven’t read yet. Which is implausible since I’m usually already reading so much, but still!
The winner for this year was Seraphina by Rachel Hartman:
In a world where dragons and humans coexist in an uneasy truce and dragons can assume human form, Seraphina, whose mother died giving birth to her, grapples with her own identity amid magical secrets and royal scandals, while she struggles to accept and develop her extraordinary musical talents.
The Printz Award is the award for teen literature, in my opinion. It’s the one I look forward to most every year (aside from the Morris). It’s given based on the literary merit of the books published in the year of the award.
The winner this year was In Darkness by Nick Lake.
In the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake, fifteen-year-old Shorty, a poor gang member from the slums of Site Soleil, is trapped in the rubble of a ruined hospital, and as he grows weaker he has visions and memories of his life of violence, his lost twin sister, and of Toussaint L'Ouverture, who liberated Haiti from French rule in the 1804.
The Alex Awards are given to ten adult books that appeal to teens and were written the previous year. These are the ten books for this year!
Caring is Creepy by David Zimmerman
Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman
Juvenile in Justice by Richard Ross
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf
One Shot at Forever by Chris Ballard
Pure by Juliana Baggott
The Round House by Louise Erdrich
Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
This is an award that honors an author for their body of work in young adult literature, and I’m so pleased to say that this year it was for Tamora Pierce, whom I truly love! Her work is mostly high fantasy awesomeness. If you like fantasy and have not read her yet, you must! I recommend this one:
11 year old Alanna, who wants to be a knight even though she’s a girl, disguises herself as a boy to become a royal page, learning many hard lessons along her path to high adventure.
But there are tons of others, and her latest series is the Beka Cooper series, which starts with Terrier.
When sixteen-year-old Beka becomes "Puppy" to a pair of "Dogs," as the Provost's Guards are called, she uses her police training, natural abilities, and a touch of magic to help them solve the case of a murdered baby in Tortall's Lower City.
The 2013 nonfiction award goes to the best nonfiction book for ages 12-18 published from January 1st – December 31st, and this year it goes to a great, great nonfiction author Steve Sheinkin for Bomb.
I haven’t read this one yet, but can’t wait! It’s subtitle is “The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon.” This is about the Manhattan project and spies, and it’s Steve Sheinkin!
A standard-bearer for good literature since 1950, the National Book Award for Young People's Literature is given to an American citizen who publishes a youth book from December 1st the previous year to November 30th of the current year.
Goblin Secrets by William Alexander
Out of Reach by Carrie Arcos
Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick
Endangered by Eliot Schrefer
Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin (Look at Mr. Sheinkin, winning honors right and left!!)
There you have it! Teen book awards in a nutshell. Now go forth and read!
Ms. Sarah, YA Librarian and Sucker for Award Winners
Sarah on January 28th, 2013
Perhaps you are one of the hundreds (and hundreds!) of people who’ve gotten an e-reader, smartphone, or tablet over the holidays, and now you’re looking for ways to get more titles to read or listen to on your device. Or maybe you’ve had one for awhile and are now looking to get some free e-books and e-audio. OR maybe you don't really know what all this e-book hubbub is about and might want to learn. Well, you’re in luck! The library’s got your back. We’re here (despite the “war” going on between publishers and libraries over e-books [skip ad to get to article]) to help you keep reading into the future.
Not only do we circulate Kindles and Nooks for you to use, but we also work with a company called Overdrive to provide you with free e-books and downloadable audiobooks. You'll definitely want to check out the Media On Demand site; that's where you can go to search for the titles available through Overdrive. (Note: Overdrive is the name of the vendor we buy our e-books and the software from, but Media On Demand is the name of our ebook catalog site and the consortium of other libraries we share e-books with.)
Now, how do you get e-books and audiobooks online? The basic steps to downloading books from the library regardless of your device are easy.
The Basics to Downloading
1.) Go to www.mediaondemand.org.
2.) Download the Overdrive Application (if needed). Note: You may also need to create an Adobe Digital ID depending on your device.
3.) Search for a book you want to read.
4.) Place it on hold OR add it to your cart.
5.) Download the book to your device and enjoy!
5.5) Seek help as needed. Sometimes you run into more problems (for instance, remember to sync after downloading if using the Kindle Fire), and that’s when you can bring your device into the library or call the librarian. However, Overdrive also has a fantastic help system set up.
That’s the basics; once you download the Overdrive software and/or the app (see instructions for your device or sign up for one of our classes on how to get e-books [Media On Demand workshops]), all you need to do is find a book to read...
Right. Well, sometimes that’s the hard part for people: finding a book. Sometimes you just want to browse to find a good book--but browsing’s not always easy when the books are not on the shelf right in front of you. Here’re my top tricks to help you browse our e-book catalog.
Top Tricks to Browsing E-Book Catalog
1.) Use the sidebars. The drop-down bars they’ve added help you jump right into Teen Fiction, Teen Nonfiction, Youth audiobooks, etc. Pretty nifty!
2.) Advanced Search is awesome sauce. Not only can you limit the format (say you only want MP3 audiobooks to listen to on your smartphone or only Kindle e-books), but you can also limit the subjects as well.
3.) Limit to what’s available (or be prepared to wait).
4.) Know what you want already. If you already know the titles you want, then you can just search for the titles to see if they are available in the format you want. (However, keep in mind again that publishers aren’t happy making titles available in e-book format to libraries, and your title may not be available.)
5.) Don’t despair! There are lots of books available as e-book and downloadable audio. As I make my blog posts and my lists, I usually put a * next to a title that’s available through Media On Demand. Also, titles available as audio file or e-book are often listed in our regular SWAN catalog as well. I also put the * on the bookmarks I make for teens in Land of YA, as well.
If all else fails, try some of these E-BOOKS...
If all else fails, try some of these E-AUDIO . . .
There are so many more choices available, and if you need any suggestions, don't hesitate to ask, but for now... that's all I got.
Keep in mind as well that there are other resources where you can get free e-books, as well. For instance...
- Project Gutenberg, which includes 40,000 free ebooks (epub books, free kindle books, downloadable or web-based).
- Librivox, a collection of free audiobooks in the public domain (i.e. mostly classics). (Downloadable for your phone, too!)
- Amazon! Yes, the biggest online retailer has free e-books. Just search "free ebooks" and see what you find. A LOT of classics are available for free since they are out of copyright (i.e. public domain).
- Barnes & Noble, not to be outdone by Amazon, has a lovely selection of free e-books, as well. Also, check out their blog with "free Fridays" where they highlight a free ebook.
- Directory of Open Access Books, which has books from all over the world and lots of nonfiction choices.
- Books section of iTunes. Again, just like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, you can search free e-books in iTunes and voila! Find some pretty sweet classics and surprisingly enough other cool things for free!
So, you see, there are plenty of ways to get free e-books out there, and if you're like me, you'll try them ALL. But (and I may be biased here) the library's got your back most of all!
--Ms. Sarah, Youth Services Librarian & Media On Demand Fiend
Sarah on December 22nd, 2012
I love this time of year because I get to go to the schools and tell them about some of the great books I've read this past year. (See my list of Booktalk Books! You can also see my list on our pinterest page.) But I've read a lot more books than I have time to tell them about, not to mention the ones I've heard about and haven't had a chance to read yet. Here're my picks from what I've read and what I've heard about in YA fiction that's worthy of being Best of YA 2012.
The Selection by Kiera Cass.
Story: America Singer is chosen to compete in a reality tv-show type of competition to marry the Prince and become the new Princess.
Ms. Sarah Says: Despite some similarities (which made it feel at first like it would just be a rip-off) to the Hunger Games, I truly looooved this book. It wasn't actually a rip-off of HG, just had some similarities. I guess I'm a sucker for princess books! I cannot WAIT for the next one.
Ungifted by Gordon Korman. (Yes, this was one of my booktalks at the middle schools!)
Story: Donnie gets in big trouble and the superintendent writes his name down in order to put him in detention or expel him--but then the superindendent accidentally adds his name to the gifted school list instead.
Ms. Sarah Says: This was a super fun read; I couldn't put it down! Finished it in just about one sitting. Funny and brilliant, as always. These characters are my people: nerds and geeks and smarties! Awesome. I recommend especially if you like The Big Bang Theory. 5/5 stars
Story: Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.
Ms. Sarah Says: Brilliant and philosophic language, thought-provoking subject matter. Typical John Green. (Looking for Alaska is still my favorite of his, though!) Didn't really love the ending of this one, BUT that's part of the point and couldn't see it ending any other way. A believable and wonderful romance of the highest kind. 4.5/5 stars
Other top picks from my reading list this year:
As much as I love reading, even I cannot read all the wonderful books that come out for YA every year, so here are some others that I haven't read but have been frequently on other people's Best of YA 2012 lists. My apologies, but I couldn't get the images to link to the catalog, so if you want to check out the full list with links, go here.
There are plenty of other fantastic books from 2012, as well, but these are my picks. As you can see, there are more on my to-read list than on my read list (as per usual). So enough blogging, time to get reading!
--Ms. Sarah, Never Finished Reading.