Can You Handle this 2019 YA Book Challenge?

(Okay…it’s two months late, but that only adds to the challenge) Here’s my 2019 YA book challenge (but you can definitely adapt it to ANY reader!) There are twenty-five challenges that’ll make any booklover more well-rounded. An additional challenge? Create a unique hashtag for your library and get those who do this challenge (or any challenge for that matter!) to post selfies of them with the number they’re on and the bookcover to prove it. Challenge accepted?

A YA Fiction and Non-fiction Novel to Read RIGHT NOW

2019 started out with a BANG! I started a TBR list and these two were at the top of the stack. I couldn’t have chosen better. They are STUNNING reads. I included a book trailer (when possible) as well as a book pairing for each. Let’s begin this YA novel joyfest!!

Hey Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. Graphix, 2018.  There has to be something said about writing your biography using the talents you possess, which is what this graphic novel is about. It’s also about what the definition of family is and how he learned from them, grew up with them, and loved each and every one of them, including the ones he never knew existed.

Jarrett’s family life has had starts and stops. His mother had him when she was a teenager and trying to balance a baby and life took it’s toll on her. His grandparents tried to help, but could only do so much until she ended up in rehab and Jarrett ended up living with his grandparents. He’d receive an occasional card from his mother (hence the title) but there wasn’t a lot of connection between the two.

His life with his grandparents wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible either. He finally found himself with family, something everyone craves, including Jarrett. His grandfather, Joe, worked hard and owned his own business. Sometimes at night he’d come home later than usual and the arguing would ensue. Joe loved his grandson and was a catalyst behind his talent, urging him to use it to find purpose. His grandmother, Shirley, was a woman who had a manage a large family and had a mean streak in her that would rear its ugly head. But it went as quickly as it came and Jarrett knew how much she loved him despite are actions sometimes.

It’s important in today’s society to understand the complexities some kids go through when it comes to family dynamics. This essential graphic novel shows a dysfunctional family dynamic many young adults can identify with. Highly recommended.

A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa Sheinmel. 2019, Sourcebooks Fire.  Hannah spent her summer in California, rooming with Agnes while they both worked hard attending courses to get a step up on their college applications. Then Jonah came…he and Agnes became a couple, but that didn’t stop Hannah from letting him know of her affection for him too, which led to a secret relationship to form the perfect toxic relationships.

Now, Hannah finds herself surrounded by four walls, small windows, a narrow bed, and regular visits from a psychiatrist she nickenames “Lightfoot,” which visits her regularly. Before coming here, she tried to see Agnes in the hospital but was told to never come back. It wasn’t her fault what happened to Agnes…it truly was an accident.

Now, all Hannah wants to do is “pass” Lightfoot scrutiny to get back to New York in time for school and finishing her college applications. That’s all she can think about, living by herself in a small room with no interaction with others living there, including eating meals and showering. Hannah scoffs at the label they put on her – A danger to herself and others but she’ll play the game as long as it takes to be able to leave.

What exactly happened and how dangerous is Hannah?

Riveting from the beginning, you’ll wonder if what the main character is saying is true or not, real or not, and how dangerous they think she is. Thrilling throughout, the psychology and psychiatry built into the plot only adds to the thrill.

Book pairs:

My List of 18 Best YA Books I’ve Read in 2018

It’s been a GREAT year for YA books!! I’ve read so many that were amazing, and I now have the daunting task of creating a list of the best.  The hardest part? Limiting it to eighteen (oh, the agony!!) But in no particular order here are my top picks in nine different genres I read based on recommendations and personal  choice, with a short one sentence review for each book, a recommendation for exceptional audiobooks, and a link to Goodreads.  Most of them are 2018, but there are a few exceptions for titles I missed in very recent years (haven’t we all done that? ūüôā

  1. The Faithful Spy: Deitrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler by John Hendrix. Abrams, 2018.  Graphic Novel/Biographical Narrative NF.  The reader gets to see the other side of WW II from the perspective of those Germans who wanted to defy Hitler with their will, solidarity, and faith in good that led to three almost successful attempts to end his reign of terror and to stop the war.

  2. Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham.  Little, Brown, 2017.  Historical Fiction.  This book places the reader in one place (Tulsa, Oklahoma) but at two very different times and reveals the horror and destruction prejudice and bias can do to tear apart relationships and families.  **exceptional audiobook booktrailer
  3. Neverworld Wake by Mariah Pessl.  2018, Delacorte Press. Fantasy Fiction/New Adult.  Five friends venture into a world that is warped by time and their living dreams, and their actions will impact their future where only one will survive based on the decisions of them all.  booktrailer
  4. Words on Bathroom Walls by Julia Walton.¬† 2017, Random House.¬† Realistic Fiction.¬† The novel chronicles Adam’s struggle with schizophrenia along with a fresh start in a new high school, and with the help of a new drug, he begins to see improvement in his life until the drug begins to fail… **exceptional audiobook
  5. Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer.¬† 2018, Houghton Mifflin.¬† Fantasy/Horror.¬†¬†In Nita’s world, those with supernatural powers are curious to her while her mother knows they’re more valuable dead than alive and when the two clash over the next victim, Nita finds herself sold on the black market as a commodity with her life at stake.¬†¬†
  6. 24 Hours in Nowhere by Dusti Bowling.¬† 2018, Sterling Children’s Books.¬† Realistic Fiction/Mystery.¬† Gus lives in Nowhere, Arizona (the name says it all) and has to dodge the local bully and hide a secret crush until a date with a cholla cactus leads him on an impossible journey to make his life bully-free with a possibility of romance.¬†¬†
  7. Impossibility of Us Katy Upperman.¬† 2018, Swoon Reads.¬† Romance.¬† After her brother’s death serving in Afghanistan, Elise is adjusting to a new life when she meets Mati and where she also realizes she struggles with the prejudice her family has against him because of his Afghanistani heritage and culture and her love for him.¬†¬†
  8. Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian.  2018, Delacorte Press.  Fantasy.  Theodosia saw the fall of her country to a brutal dictator and is now forced to live in the castle as a tortuous example of triumph until she is approached as the last hope of their people, where she will have to make a decision of life and death for them and her.  **exceptional  audiobook  booktrailer
  9. Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman.¬† 2018, Simon and Schuster.¬† Survival Fiction.¬†¬†Southern California has reached Tap Out, where there is no more available water for the region and when Alyssa’s parents disappear trying to find water, she must navigate herself and others through danger from desperation and drought to survive.¬†¬†
  10. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family in Crisis by J.D. Vance.  2016, Harper.  Biography/Narrative NF.  The 34 year-old author writes about his childhood and the struggles of the poor white working class culture he grew up in where generational poverty and abuse navigated his decisions and relationships, which ultimately molded his life and success as a lawyer.  **exceptional audiobook   
  11. Poet X Elizabeth Acevedo. 2018, HarperTeen.  Realistic Fiction/Novel in Verse.  Xiomara lives in the Bronx with  her twin brother in a very traditional family with strict expectations and with her growing sense of identity and physicality, which she chronicles in her poetry journal, a clash between both her personal and traditional worlds tears both apart. booktrailer 
  12. I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman.¬† 2018, Penguin Teen.¬† Realistic Fiction.¬† In one single day, three teens are struggling with life that include a personal passion turned into a parent’s passion, the love of a boy, and the loss of a father, and they find themselves at the same place in Central Park where their stories are told and they help each other find the beginning of the paths they choose.¬†¬†booktrailer
  13. Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Penelope Bagieu. 2018, First Second. Biographies/Narrative NF Graphic Novel.  The author details the lives who brazen women (gasp!) that impacted history, but most importantly, about women whose lives are not nearly as spoken and written about as they should be and includes stellar ladies like Peggy Guggenheim, Agnodice, and Nzinga, to name a few.  
  14. Mary’s Monster: Love, Madness and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein. 2018, Roaring Brook Press.¬† Narrative Biography/Graphic Novel.¬† This beautifully illustrated GN traces Mary Shelley’s life along with the joy, tragedies and very complicated relationships that helped her create one of the most recognized monsters of her and our time and opens up the reader’s awareness of how Frankenstein parallels a woman whose personal strength ran deep.
  15. All We Can Do is Wait by Richard Lawson.  2108, Razorbill.  Realistic Fiction.  When a bridge collapses in Boston, four teens nervously sit in the hospital waiting room to find out if their sister, parents, and loved one survived and during the time spent waiting, their stories come out about the impact of those who hopefully survived the bridge collapse made in their lives.                           
  16. Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics.¬† 2015 Harlequin Teen.¬† Horror.¬† Amanda’s world changes when she finds her family is moving to the prairie to escape harsh winters, only to find herself living the tales of nightmarish horrors she’s heard about the prairie, all while trying to protect her siblings and her hidden pregnancy. **exceptional audiobook
  17. The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares.¬† 2017, Delacorte Press.¬† Realistic Fiction/New Adult.¬† Every family has dysfunction, and this one is no different except that the siblings on both sides continue to have a strong bond beyond their parents’ divorce, the joy of an impending wedding celebration and the loss of life, all in a summer cottage and small town everyone grew up sharing.¬†¬†
  18. Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case by Patricial Hruby Powell.¬† 2017, Chronicle Books.¬† Historical Fiction.¬† Told in two strong alternating voices, this novel brings to life the civil rights case for mixed marriage in a time when segregation still reared it’s ugly head, and where readers in today’s world can see the implications of this landmark decision in the United States today.¬† **exceptional audiobook

Creative Archiving: Holiday Makerspace Projects with Weeded Books

‘Tis the season!  Time for gifts for family, friends and colleagues.  This is also especially true for students too!  But budgets can get tight when the circle of giving gifts gets larger.  And that’s where creativity (which is free!) and a few materials can really help.  And as I told my students, what better gift to give to a loved one than ones that’s homemade?

What I did for several past fall semesters is have students create things from weeded books.  They usually did a book wreath, but since than I have made several other things with weeded books.  Minimal cost, patience, and time.  So if you’re looking for ideas, here are a few you can do:

Book Page Christmas Trees:  What I like about these is that you can make them large or small, depending on what you’d like.  All you do is cute strips of paper with the same width and then cut down the strip halfway to make a fringe.  Roll it around a pencil to fluff it out and then hot glue it from the bottom up overlapping the strips as you go up.  After you finish, you can add little decorations and use an upsweeping motion to fluff it even more.  (the picture is one I made in 15 minutes)  
Resources: posterboard, weeded books, hot glue gun, scissors, pencil.  If you’d like something a little easier, try this idea for a simple weeded book Christmas tree

Book Wreath:  I don’t know how many of these I have made, but it seems like a million!  And the best part?  They all come out so differently!!  Again, size is what you’d like it to be and how you put the pages on (cone shapes, scrunched up paper, rolled shapes) is up to you.  The hardest part is cutting a template (which looks like a giant donut) but other than that, the sky’s the limit, especially if you’d like to bling it up a little!  The MOST creative one I made was with a comic book for my fellow nerd in arms teacher at my campus.  It doesn’t have to be just books.  My library assistant did one from an almanac for a friend who traveled a lot. (the picture are two I made for my house).  Here’s a link to a book wreath, including the template  Resources: template for book wreath, heavy duty cardboard, hot glue gun, pencil (to help glue the pages), and a ribbon to loop on back to hang it.  

Paper Ornaments:
This is going to be the one I’ll be making this year, as I haven’t tried it before.  Last year, I purchased a small white Christmas tree and instead of putting traditional ornaments on it, I’m going to do all different sizes of ornaments and hang them on there for a little white on white contrast. This creator is using scrapbooking paper, but book pages that have a little stiffness or thickness to it would work well.  If not, I plan on double the strips and gluing them together to make them more sturdy.    The link to this excellent tutorial can be found here

So there are three projects you can do with students and make someone’s Christmas merrier!  And if you need any more ideas, I have a BUNCH of ideas on a Pinterest board, so head on over there and see what else you can do with those weeded books!  

Happy Holidays everyone!!  

Alternating Voices: YA books with (multiple) perspectives

I’ve been a fan of alternating voices in novels.  It gives more depth for the reader and really allows them to connect with the characters because their personalities, conflicts, realities, and relationships show through their voices.  What’s even better is that we, as readers, become omnipotent and can only hope we could warn the characters what they’re getting wrong or right (but can’t!)

Here are a list of great YA novels with alternating voices. Includes author, publisher, genres and publisher summaries.

dreamland1. Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham. 2017, Little Brown Books.

Historical Fiction/Mystery

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.

lies you never told me2. Lies you Never Told Me by Jennifer Donaldson. 2018, Razorbill.

Realistic Fiction

Gabe and Elyse have never met. But they both have something to hide.Quiet, shy Elyse can’t believe it when she’s cast as the lead in her Portland high school’s production of Romeo and Juliet. Her best friend, Brynn, is usually the star, and Elyse isn’t sure she’s up to the task. But when someone at rehearsals starts to catch her eye-someone she knows she absolutely shouldn’t be with-she can’t help but be pulled into the spotlight.

Austin native Gabe is contemplating the unthinkable-breaking up with Sasha, his headstrong, popular girlfriend. She’s not going to let him slip through her fingers, though, and when rumors start to circulate around school, he knows she has the power to change his life forever.

Gabe and Elyse both make the mistake of falling for the wrong person, and falling hard. Told in parallel narratives, this twisty, shocking story shows how one bad choice can lead to a spiral of unforeseen consequences that not everyone will survive.

impossibility3. The Impossibility of Us by Katy Upperman. 2018, Swoon Reads.

Romance/Realistic Fiction

The last thing Elise wants is to start over in a new town. But after her brother’s death in Afghanistan, she and her mother move to a sleepy coastal village to be closer to Elise’s sister-in-law and niece.

When Elise meets Mati during a beachside walk, they quickly discover how much they have in common. Mati is new to town, too. Over the course of the summer, their relationship begins to blossom, and what starts out as a friendship becomes so much more.

But as Elise and Mati grow closer, her family becomes more and more uncomfortable with their relationship, and their concerns all center on one fact–Mati is Afghan.

i have lost my way4. I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman. 2018, Penguin Teen

Realistic Fiction

A fateful accident draws three strangers together over the course of a single day:

Freya who has lost her voice while recording her debut album.
Harun who is making plans to run away from everyone he has ever loved.
Nathaniel who has just arrived in New York City with a backpack, a desperate plan, and nothing left to lose.

As the day progresses, their secrets start to unravel and they begin to understand that the way out of their own loss might just lie in helping the others out of theirs.

snow and glass5. Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust. 2017, Flatiron Books.

Fantasy

At sixteen, Mina’s mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone–has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.

Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina.

Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do–and who to be–to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.

one of us is lying

6. One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus.  2017, Delacorte Press

Realistic Fiction/Mystery

Pay close attention and you might solve this.
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

after the fire7. After the Fire by Will Hill. 2018, Sourcefire Books.

Realistic Fiction (technically not alternating voices, but has before and after alternating chapters)

The things I’ve seen are burned into me, like scars that refuse to fade.

Before, she lived inside the fence. Before, she was never allowed to leave the property, never allowed to talk to Outsiders, never allowed to speak her mind. Because Father John controlled everything–and Father John liked rules. Disobeying Father John came with terrible consequences.
But there are lies behind Father John’s words. Outside, there are different truths.

Then came the fire.


pitch dark8. Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda. 2018, Feiwel and Friends.

Science Fiction/Horror

Lost to time, Tuck Morgan and his crew have slept in stasis aboard theUSS John Muirfor centuries. Their ship harbors a chunk of Earth, which unbeknownst to them, is the last hope for the failing human race.

Laura Cruz is a shipraider searching the galaxy for the history that was scattered to the stars. Once her family locates theJohn Muir and its precious cargo, they are certain human civilization is saved.

When Tuck’s and Laura’s worlds collide–literally–the two teens must outwit their enemies, evade brutal monsters that kill with sound, and work together to save theJohn Muir . . . and the whole human race.

thousandth floor9. The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee. 2016, HarperCollins.

Dystopia/Science Fiction

Welcome to Manhattan, 2118.

A hundred years in the future, New York is a city of innovation and dreams. But people never change: everyone here wants something…and everyone has something to lose.

Leda Cole‚Äôs flawless exterior belies asecret addiction‚ÄĒto a drug she never should have tried and a boy she never should have touched.

Eris Dodd-Radson’s beautiful, carefree life falls to pieces when a heartbreaking betrayal tears her family apart.

Rylin Myers‚Äôs job on one of the highest floors sweeps her in to a world‚ÄĒand a romance‚ÄĒshe never imagined‚Ķbut will her new life cost Rylin her old one?

Watt Bakradi is a tech genius with a secret: he knows everything about everyone. But when he’s hired to spy by an upper-floor girl, he finds himself caught up in a complicated web of lies.

And living above everyone else on the thousandth floor is Avery Fuller, the girl genetically designed to be perfect. The girl who seems to have it all‚ÄĒyet is tormented by the one thing she can never have.

all we can do is wait10. All We Can Do is Wait by Richard Lawson.  2018, Razorbill.

Realistic Fiction

In the hours after a bridge collapse rocks their city, a group of Boston teenagers meet in the waiting room of Massachusetts General Hospital-

Siblings Jason and Alexa have already experienced enough grief for a lifetime, so in this moment of confusion and despair, Alexa hopes that she can look to her brother for support. But a secret Jason has been keeping from his sister threatens to tear the siblings apart . . . right when they need each other most.

Scott is waiting to hear about his girlfriend, Aimee, who was on a bus with her theater group when the bridge went down. Their relationship has been rocky, but Scott knows that if he can just see Aimee one more time, if she can just make it through this ordeal and he can tell her he loves her, everything will be all right.

And then there’s Skyler, whose sister Kate-the sister who is more like a mother, the sister who is basically Skyler’s everything-was crossing the bridge when it collapsed. As the minutes tick by without a word from the hospital staff, Skyler is left to wonder how she can possibly move through life without the one person who makes her feel strong when she’s at her weakest.

tradition11. Tradition by Brendan Kiely. 2018, Margaret McElderry Books.

Realistic Fiction

Prestigious. Powerful. Privileged. This is Fullbrook Academy.

Jules Devereux just wants to keep her head down, avoid distractions, and get into the right college, so she can leave Fullbrook and its old-boy social codes behind.

Jamie Baxter feels like an imposter at Fullbrook, but the hockey scholarship that got him in has given him a chance to escape his past and fulfill the dreams of his parents and coaches, whose mantra rings in his ears: Don’t disappoint us.

As Jules and Jamie’s lives intertwine, and the pressures to play by the rules and to keep the school’s toxic secrets, they are faced with a powerful choice: remain silent while others get hurt, or stand together against the ugly, sexist traditions of an institution that believes it can do no wrong.

9ec5f-loving2bvirigina

12. Loving vs. Virginia by Patricia Hruby Powell.  2017, Chronicle Books

Historical Fiction

Richard and Mildred Loving were sentenced to a year in prison for marrying each other at a time when interracial marriage was prohibited by law in their home state of Virginia.

Their determination to be together led them to bring this case all the way to the Supreme Court where, in a landmark decision, the court invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage.

The decision was followed by an increase in interracial marriages in the U.S., and is remembered annually on Loving Day, June 12.
This documentary novel vividly brings to life this inspiring story.



13.  Layover by Amy Andelson and Emily Meyer.  2018, Crown. Realistic Fiction

FLYNN-At first we were almost strangers. But ever since I moved to New York, Amos was the one person I could count on. And together we were there for Poppy. (I mean, what kind of parents leave their kid to be raised by a nanny?) I just didn’t expect to fall for him–and I never expected him to leave us.

AMOS-I thought I was the only one who felt it. I told myself it was because we were spending so much time together–taking care of Poppy and all. But that night, I could tell she felt it, too. And I freaked out–you’re not supposed to fall for your stepsister. So I ran away to boarding school. I should have told her why I was leaving, but every time I tried, it felt like a lie.

One missed flight was about to change their lives forever. . . .