Tag Archives: YA


firefight Firefight by Brandon Sanderson (Reckoners, #2)

This second book in the Reckoners series reads like a complete story — with it central villain(s) being dealt with by the last chapter and secrets revealed. It also sets up the next book nicely, because those secrets will propel the conflict into grander scales. A thoroughly enjoyable book that did not go beyond my expectations, even when some “shocking truths” are exposed. Perhaps because I have been binging on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as I read this book, and the two storylines share a lot of similarities especially when it comes to how the perceived good characters and those supposedly bad characters might turn out to be very different from what you have originally believed. So, I learned to mistrust all characters (even the narrator himself) until proven otherwise. This makes me wonder about the recent wild popularity of dystopian novels for young people and the central conflict rooted in a strong distrust of one’s government (or team, family, or friends, etc.)

I am all for critical thinking and questioning authority and demanding clear reasons and transparency when we are asked to behave in certain ways (and when we ask young people to follow certain rules and paths.) However, I often fear that we (as educators) are encouraging generations of young people to question everything every step of the way and mistrust those around them as the default form of interaction with the wider world. Once in a while, it would be so nice to simply just trust since I do believe that large portion of humanity is good.

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Shadow Scale

shadowscaleby Rachel Hartman

Since I loved Seraphina so much and had waited for the sequel with huge anticipation, it was not surprising that I didn’t quite feel satisfied with this second volume. It took me a long time to get through it not because of its heft (almost 600 pages) but because I just didn’t quite feel compelled to know what’s happening next. Partly because I pretty much knew how things would have panned out, that readers would eventually see that Seraphina, after SOOOOOO many pages and chapters of self-doubt, self-pity, and self-blame, would have come through and be the amazing power that helps destroy the “evil side”; and partly because I was really tired of those self-deprecating qualities that were somehow more endearing in the first book. I do appreciate the varied and very invented half-dragons and their special talents and feel emotionally connected to quite a few of them. I also absolutely appreciate the non-traditional relationships between Phina, Selda, and Kiggs. Just wish that I had been swept away by this volume as I was by the first book.

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Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

funhomeby Alison  Bechdel

I savored every page, every sentence, every word of this graphic-narrative memoir. Still didn’t pay enough attention to the details of each panel and will hopefully go back to the book one day to closely examine all the illustrations as well. The tenderness and unflinching truth=telling of Bechdel’s own painful life events touch me deeply. A sense of vicarious catharsis presented itself every time I opened the book in the past few days. I want to “study” this literary masterpiece in an English class so badly — to engrave every overt and covert meaning onto my mind!

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This One Summer

thisonesummer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

Love the art in this bock, especially the skillful and creative ways many emotions are conveyed through imagery and hinted via lines and swirls. This is a quiet graphic story that eloquently showcases the interior life of a precocious prepubescent mind. Many of the double spreads are breathtaking and heartbreaking. It feels like a privilege to be allowed to peek into the minds of Rose and those around her.


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On a wet wintry night last week 12…

On a wet wintry night last week (12/10/2014,) I participated in a panel discussion where the question of how to bring more international YA literature into the American market was raised and pondered. Hosted by Words without Borders and NYPL and moderated by Marc Aronson. Other panelists are Arthur Levine, publisher of Arthur Levine Books/Scholastic, Padma Venkatraman, author of A Time to Dance, and Briony Everroad, guest editor for the Words without Borders December issue on International YA literature. This is a summary of the evening.

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BFYA 2015 Nominations – Final List

We did it!  Our Committee of 15 nominated 113 titles to be considered for Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2015.  You can find out what the titles are with short annotations on the official ALA/YALSA site.

Here’s a simplified list with just titles — Any surprises? Favorites? Comment away :)

Al Said, Adi Let’s Get Lost
Anderson, Jodi Lynn The Vanishing Season
Arnett, Mindee Avalon
Aronson, Marc One Death, Nine Stories
Bassoff, Leah & Laura DeLuca Lost Girl Found
Brezenoff, Steve Guy in Real Life
Caletti, Deb The Last Forever
DeWoskin, Rachel Blind
Fine, Sarah Of Metal and Wishes
Foley, Jessie Ann The Carnival at Bray
Fombelle, Timothee de Vango
Giles, Gail Girls Like Us
Gold, Jennifer Soldier Doll
Griffin, Bethany The Fall
Hosie, Donna The Devil’s Intern
Kiernan, Celine Into the Grey
King, A.S. Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future
Knudsen, Michelle Evil Librarian
LaMarche, Una Like No Other
Maas, Sarah Heir of Fire
Magoon, Kekla How It Went Down
Mathieu, Jennifer The Truth About Alice
McGovern, Cammie Say What You Will
Mesrobian, Carrie Perfectly Good White Boy
Miller, Lauren Free to Fall
Moracho, Cristina Althea & Oliver
Nix, Garth Clariel
Parker, Natalie C. Beware the Wild
Parsons, Mark Huntley Road Rash
Pearson, Mary E. The Kiss of Deception
Polonsky, Ami Gracefully Grayson
Ritter, William Jackaby
Smith, Andrew 100 Sideways Miles
Smith, Jennifer E. The Geography of You and Me
Spears, Kat Sway
Stiefvater, Maggie Blue Lily, Lily Blue
Talkington, Amy Liv, Forever
Tregay, Sarah Fan Art
Walrath, Dana Like Water on Stone
Zarr, Sara Roomies
Aslan, Austin The Islands at the End of the World
Fredericks, Mariah Season of the Witch
Kizer, Amber Pieces of Me
Phillips, LInda Vigen Crazy
Schrefer, Eliot Threatened
Smith, Sherwood & Brown, Rachel Manija Stranger
Tintera, Amy Rebel
Willey, Margaret Beetle Boy
Alexander, Kwame The Crossover
Almond, David The True Tale of Monster Billy Dean
Anderson, Laurie Halse The Impossible Knife of Memory
Armentrout, Jennifer Don’t Look Back
Bedford, Martyn Never Ending
Blankman, Anne Prisoner of Night and Fog
Brown, Jennifer Torn Away
Brown, Skila Caminar
Burgess, Melvin The Hit
Carleson, J.C. The Tyrant’s Daughter
Colbert, Brandy Pointe
Combs, Sarah Breakfast Served Anytime
Dellaira, Ava Love Letters to the Dead
Giles, Lamar Fake ID
Graudin, Ryan The Walled City
Green, Sally Half Bad
Griffin, Adele The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone
Han, Jenny To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Hattemer, Kate The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy
Herbach, Geoff Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders
Howe, Katherine Conversion
Hubbard, Jenny And We Stay
Johnston, E.K. The Story of Owen: Dragonslayer of Troneheim
Kephart, Beth Going Over
Kiely, Brendan The Gospel of Winter
Kuehn, Stephanie Complicit
Kulper, Kendall Salt & Storm
LaCour, Nina Everything Leads to You
LaFevers, Robin Mortal Heart
Lloyd-Jones, Emily Illusive
Lockhart, e. We Were Liars
Lu, Marie The Young Elites
Maciel, Amanda Tease
Maguire, Gregory Egg & Spoon
Nelson, Jandy I’ll Give You the Sun
Neri, G Knockout Games
Oliver, Lauren Panic
Paige, Danielle Dorothy Must Die
Philbrick, Rodman Zane and the Hurricane: A Story of Katrina
Pratt, Non Trouble
Quintero, Isabel Gabi, a Girl in Pieces
Reinhardt, Dana We Are the Goldens
Reynolds, Jason When I Was the Greatest
Rutkoski, Marie The Winner’s Curse
Sedgwick, Marcus She Is Not Invisible
Sharpe, Tess Far From You
Shepherd, Megan Her Dark Curiosity
Shinoda, Anna Learning Not to Drown
Smith, Andrew Grasshopper Jungle
Smith, Lindsay Sekret
Strasser, Todd No Place
Taylor, Laini Dreams of Gods and Monsters
Templeman, McCormick The Glass Casket
Tripp, Ben The Accidental Highwayman
Venkatraman, Padma A Time to Dance
Vlahos, Len The Scar Boys
Waller, Sharon Biggs A Mad, Wicked Folly
Walton, Leslye The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
Westerfeld, Scott Afterworlds
Whaley, John Corey Noggin
White, Kiersten & Jim Di Bartolo In the Shadows
Wiles, Deborah Revolution
Wolitzer, Meg Belzhar
Wood, Fiona Wildlife
Winters, Cat The Cure for Dreaming

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The Impossible Knife of Memory

impossibleknifeby Laurie Halse Anderson

Genre(s): Realistic Fiction

Basic Content Information: Hayley has to deal with caring for her father (her mother died a while back and her father’s long term girlfriend left) when he gets deeper and deeper within the dark landscape of PTSD after tours in Iraq. At the same time, she falls in love with Finn whose sister is a drug addict that his parents pour all their energy on and leave no time for him, who is in the process of applying to college. Her best (and only) friend Gracie also has to deal with parental fallouts of her father cheating on her mother and shouting matches at home. With everyone around her having to take care of their own business, Hayley is quite left alone to handle the worsen conditions of her father. When a former comrade was killed in the war, Hayley’s father left the house and a desperate search and rescue mission (by the young people themselves) ensues.

Edition: Hardcover

Pub Date: January, 2014

Publisher: Viking

(I’m only recording the bare bone facts about the Young Adult Fiction titles I read in 2014 — Serving on the Best Fiction for Young Adults committee means that I need to be quite cautious in expressing opinions on social media. The safest way is to not express specific reactions publicly. But I’d like to keep reporting the titles I encounter throughout the year. You can always follow the link to Goodreads to see other readers’ reviews.)

Click here for: Goodreads summary and other people’s reviews.

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