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Kids and Teen Blog

Tag: Teen Fiction

Teens Read Spring Preview

by Megan
December 08, 2014

Last Saturday, we met in person (and virtually) with a crack team of caffeinated bloggers for a sneak peek at some amazing YA titles on the horizon for Spring 2015. Several (most) of us present likely hadn’t started our Christmas shopping, but the amount of excitement on hand for these Spring titles months away still put any holiday concerns to shame. There were treats, squeals, and overall giddy anticipation. Here are some of the highlights...


Title that elicited the biggest freakout:

Fairest by Marisa Meyer

There was a genuine Fairest freakout when we discussed this title; stampede for the book is imminent.


Science Fiction/Fantasy titles that elicited tribute volunteers in exchange for ARCs:

Ice Kissed by Amanda Hocking

The Novice by Taran Matharu

Becoming Jinn by Lori Goldstein

The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson

Public Enemies by Ann Aguirre

Bell Weather by Dennis Mahoney


Titles that caused spontaneous shrieks/squeals of excitement:

From the Notebooks of a Middle-School Princess by Meg Cabot

Elena Vanishing by Elena Dunkle & Clare Dunkle

Joyride by Anna Banks

One Thing Stolen by Beth Kephart (THAT COVER!)

The Revelation of Louisa May (book nerds + bookish historical themes = !!!!!)

Sweet by Emmy Laybourne

Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu

Love Fortunes and Other Disasters by Kimberly Karalius

Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn

Weightless by Sarah Bannan


Titles that generated the most spontaneous singing:

Jesse’s Girl by Miranda Kenneally (Go ahead. Try not to burst into song with this one.)

The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak


Titles with the most maple-syrup covered Canuck love:

Some Kind of Normal by Juliana Stone

The Truth About Us by Janet Gurtler

SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki

Lola Carlyle’s 12-Step Romance by Danielle Younge-Ullman


Thrillers, horror, and other heart-rate-increasing titles that left some presenters (Melissa, I’m looking at you) feeling a little faint:

The Forgetting by Nicole Maggi

The Escape by Hannah Jayne

The Suffering by Rin Chupeco

Gone Too Far by Natalie D. Richards


To check out all the action from the preview, follow the #TeensReadFeed hashtag on Twitter, and let us know the books you can't wait for!

Our beloved bloggers! Full of treats, coffee, and wielding goodie bags:

New Releases: Kids + Teen Highlights June 2014

by Dan
Kids + YA Fiction / May 29, 2014

The wait for the final book in the Leigh Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy is finally over next month!

Here's a look at Ruin & Rising and some of the other awesome new books for kids, middle grade, and teens available in June!  



The Truth About Alice

Jennifer Mathieu

When Healy High star quarterback, Brandon Fitzsimmons, dies in a car crash, it was because he was sexting with Alice. Ask anybody

In this remarkable debut novel, four Healy High students tell all they "know" about Alice—and in doing so reveal their own secrets and motivations, painting a raw look at the realities of teen life. But exactly what is the truth about Alice? In the end there's only one person to ask: Alice herself.

Ages 12+


Available June 3


Ruin and Rising

Leigh Bardugo

The much-anticipated conclusion to the Grisha Trilogy!

The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne. Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army...

Ages 12+




"Every time readers may think she’s written herself into a corner, Bardugo pulls off a twist that, while surprising, will keep them turning pages furiously."Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


Available June 17




James Preller & illustrated by Iacopo Bruno

Welcome. Have a seat. The wolves will wait. Let us tell you a story. But be warned. Nightmareland isn’t just any tale. This is a Scary Tale.

Prepare yourself for the next installment of James Preller’s heart-poundingly scary chapter book series filled with dark and creepy illustrations from acclaimed artist Iacopo Bruno. 

Ages 7-10


Available June 10



Arree Chung & illustrated by Arree Chung

A ninja must be strong, courageous, and silent! He creeps through the house on a secret mission. There may be obstacles! But have no fear-a true ninja can overcome all challenges.

Ages 4-7

Available June 3

The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School

Deborah Diesen & illustrated by Daniel X. Hanna

Turn little pouts into big smiles!

Mr. Fish is nervously awaiting his first day of school, and he frets about not knowing how to write his name, how to draw shapes, and how to do math—until he's reassured that school is the perfect place to learn how to master all of these new skills.

Ages 2-5

Available June 24


A Little Valkyrie's First Day of School

Adam Auerbach

Edda is a Valkyrie (an ancient Norse goddess who guides and protects heroes). She lives in a magical land called Asgard, where she has everything she wants. Well... almost everything. Edda wants to find a friend her own age. Edda's wise papa knows of a place where she can make friends: a place on Earth called "school."


Ages 4-8

Available June 24

Guest Post: Cecil Castellucci, Author of Tin Star

by Dan
Fiction + Science Fiction and Fantasy + YA Fiction / March 31, 2014

In a special guest post for Raincoast, Cecil Castellucci, the author of Tin Star, explains why she created a role playing game based on her novel.

When I wrote my new novel, Tin Star, I knew that the story of Tula Bane was only going to be two books. It's a duet! But the universe that she lives in and all of the aliens and moving parts of the book were still interesting to me. So much stuff goes into world building. What's a nerdy girl to do? Write a game!

I am a gamer. I like to play all kinds of table top games and video games. And my favorite kind of game to play is a Role Playing Game (RPG). I don't play them often enough. In Los Angeles, I have a regular D&D game that I play with a group of friends once a month. We tweet about it, so if you follow me @misscecil, you've likely seen the mini figure—I'm a rogue—light up my twitter feed on the occasional Friday or Saturday night. 

I've played a lot of games and I've read a lot of books. This past fall I took a Coursera class on the transmedia of narratives where we read The Lord of the Rings, watched the movies and then also played the MMRPG (Massive Multiplayer Role Playing Game). What I love about transmedia is that it lets you engage with a story in many different ways.

Lucky for me, I have a friend Chris who is the publisher of Green Ronin and they created the True20 open license system which I used to create the game TIN STAR: A SIMPLE FAVOR.  

I recruited my brother and we wrote an adventure where you play some aliens who come aboard the Yertina Feray and go on an adventure where you have to interact with Tula, Tournour, Heckleck and Thado. 

Now perhaps some of you have never played a RPG before. Or you feel intimidated by the word "multi sided dice." Never fear! We wrote the adventure so that it's really easy to play. What you need is a group of friends who are fun and want to go on an adventure. A Game Master who will lead the group through the adventure and run the game. It helps if this person is a great story teller! A 20 sided die. You can get these at any gaming store. Or ask your gaming friends or relatives if you can borrow one. Maybe order a pizza! 

The Game Master will tell the players the story and lead them through the action of the game. You never know what is going to happen because dice are rolled and actions either succeed or fail and random events may occur.  Basically you're making up a story that stars you and has some guidelines as to make the story fun. 

The TIN STAR True20 Quick Start rules (PDF) give a detailed overview of the True20 rules and they describe the feats that the characters have. The TIN STAR: A SIMPLE FAVOR adventure  has all the stuff that the Game Master needs to run the adventure plus a player hand out and the pre-generated characters that your players will play. If you're an experienced gamer this will all make sense. True20 is pretty simple system. If you are not a regular gamer and are intimidated by all the percentiles, then just think of it like this. Roll the dice, if something is hard to do, then the players have to roll high. If it's easy, they can do it with a lower roll. You decide what's hard and easy. Trust me. You'll get the swing of it!

For me, writing the game in the universe of Tin Star was a way that I got to hang out with Tula some more. So I hope you'll enjoy playing the game and hanging out with Tula Bane and the gane. Reading the book will make parts of the game more fun, because you'll get some of the references and you'll know who is who. But if you or your friends haven't read it yet, that's cool too!  I think playing the game will make your eventual hanging out with Tula in the book fun too because you'll have already met her. Please let me know how your game goes!    

New Releases: Kids & Teen Highlights April 2014

by Dan
Kids + YA Fiction / March 10, 2014

Here's a sneak peek at some of the fantastic new books for kids and teens coming in out next month!  


Love Letters to the Dead

Ava Dellaira

"I simply loved this book. Love Letters to the Dead is more than a stunning debut. It is the announcement of a bold new literary voice."—Stephen Chbosky, author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower

It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May did...



"Laurel and her friends’ struggles and hard-won successes are poignant, and seeing Laurel begin to forgive herself and May is extremely moving."Publishers Weekly

Ages 12-17

Available April 1


Chronicles of Nick

Sherrilyn Kenyon

Old enemies and new friends square off for a major battle that will either restore Nick to his real world, or end him forever in Sherrilyn Kenyon's fifth novel in the #1 bestselling series The Chronicles of Nick.

Ages 12-17

Available April 1


Going Over

Beth Kephart

It is February 1983, and Berlin is a divided city with a miles-long barricade separating east from west. But the city isn't the only thing that is divided. Ada lives among the rebels, punkers, and immigrants of Kreuzberg in West Berlin. Stefan lives in East Berlin, in a faceless apartment bunker of Friedrichshain. Bound by love and separated by circumstance, their only chance for a life together lies in a high-risk escape. But will Stefan find the courage to leap? Or will forces beyondhis control stand in his way? National Book Award finalist Beth Kephart presents a story of daring and sacrifice, and love that will not wait.

"A stark reminder of the power of hope, courage, and love."Booklist (starred review)

"An excellent example of historical fiction focusing on an unusual time period."School Library Journal (starred review)

Ages 14+

Available April 1

Always Emily

Michaela MacColl

Emily and Charlotte Brontë are about as opposite as two sisters can be. Charlotte is practical and cautious; Emily is headstrong and imaginative. But they do have one thing in common: a love of writing. This shared passion will lead them to be two of the first published female novelists and authors of several enduring works of classic literature. But they're not there yet. First, they have to figure out if there is a connection between a string of local burglaries, rumours that a neighbour's death may not have been accidental, and the appearance on the moors of a mysterious and handsome stranger. The girls have a lot of knots to untangle—before someone else gets killed.

"Reimagined as detectives, the Brontë sisters kick-start their writing careers by solving a mystery... Equal parts gothic melodrama and Nancy Drew derring-do."—Kirkus Reviews 

"satisfyingly action-filled and breathtakingly resolved."Publishers Weekly

Ages 12+

Available April 8

Expiration Day

William Campbell Powell

Tania Deeley has always been told that she's a rarity: a human child in a world where most children are sophisticated androids manufactured by Oxted Corporation. When a decline in global fertility ensued, it was the creation of these near-perfect human copies called teknoids that helped to prevent the utter collapse of society.

Though she has always been aware of the existence of teknoids, it is not until her first day at The Lady Maud High School for Girls that Tania realizes that her best friend, Siân, may be one. Returning home from the summer holiday, she is shocked by how much Siân has changed. Is it possible that these changes were engineered by Oxted? And if Siân could be a teknoid, how many others in Tania's life are not real?  

"In this coming-of-age diary, a girl navigates life in a dystopic near-future... An auspicious debut."Kirkus Reviews

Ages 13-18

Available April 22


The 26-Story Treehouse

Andy Griffiths & illustrated by Terry Denton

Andy and Terry live in a 26-story treehouse. (It used to be 13 stories, but they've expanded.) It has a bumper car rink, a skate ramp, an antigravity chamber, an ice cream parlor with 78 flavors, and the Maze of Doom-a maze so complicated that nobody who has gone in has ever come out again. Well, not yet, anyway.






Ages 8-12

Available April 1

Here Comes Destructosaurus

Aaron Reynolds & illustrated by Jeremy Tankard

Watch the unstoppable destructive force of a raging temper tantrum! Tremble at the enormous mess and disrespectful roaring! Despair as no amount of scolding can stem the heedless fury! Someone is heading for a time-out, Mister! Anyone who has witnessed (or been) a toddler in the throes of a full-blown fit will delight in this clever book's movie-monster rampage, and may just come away from it with a bit more sympathy for toddler and caregiver.

Ages 2-3

Available April 1

Dinner with the Highbrows

Kimberly Willis Holt & illustrated by Kyrsten Brooker

Bernard has never been to dinner at a friend's house before. His mother gives him quite the list of rules to follow—no elbows on the table, put your napkin on your lap, don't talk with food in your mouth, and so on. But Bernard isn't prepared to discover that the Goldsmiths think the table is the best place for elbows and feet, never put their napkins on their laps, and talk with food in their mouths! How will Bernard survive dinner with such an obnoxious crew?

Ages 4-7

Available April 8

The Open Ocean

Francesco Pittau and Bernadette Gervais

Guess a sea creature from its silhouette, shell, or scalesand just lift the flap to discover the answer! This lush, oversized book about marine life features a variety of guessing games and special features, and provides hours of educational entertainment. With elegant, graphic illustrations, plus intriguing facts about each animal, learning about ocean life has never been so fun or interactive.

Ages 5-8

Available April 8

Tea with Grandpa

Barney Saltzberg

In this sweetly simple, rhyming picture book by acclaimed author/artist Barney Saltzberg, a little girl tells us about her daily tea ritual with her grandfather where they sing and laugh and clink their teacups with the help of their computers and a video chat.


Ages 3-8

Available April 15

Janet Gurtler #16ThingsIThoughtWereTrue Interview

by Dan
Author Q & A + YA Fiction / March 07, 2014

Janet Gurtler

We're very excited about Janet Gurtler's new novel 16 Things I Thought Were True (if you don't believe me, take a look at our list of "Things We Thought Were True About Publishing!" inspired by the book on Facebook!) and to celebrate its release we thought we'd ask the Calgary-based author a few questions about the book and her writing process...  

Where do you write?

I can write almost anywhere if I have to, but I usually just sit on my couch with an ottoman under my feet, laptop in my lap. Sometimes I also write at Starbucks. Lastly, my son is a swimmer and I often write in the viewing area while he swims. He swims A LOT.

Tell us about your writing process.

I tend to be more of a seat of the pants writer, meaning that I don’t do heavy plotting. I usually come up with a character first and build around that character’s life. I try and make my characters and secondary characters well rounded and relatable and I use Donald Maass’s Breakout Workbook a lot when I’m writing.

Is there a teacher or librarian who has influenced your life?

I had a teacher in sixth grade who really encouraged my creative writing. He was a really great teacher, Mr. Dufferin, and he made me believe in myself as a writer. I think he made me a writer in my soul.

What is your favourite social media platform?

I am a Facebook fan. Because I’m old. But I do love Twitter as well.

Why did you choose to incorporate social media into this novel?

I actually wanted to use the paradox of a girl who has been overexposed online, and then finds herself hiding out online. I know so many people (myself included) who spend a lot of time alone and being online makes it somehow less lonely. As a writer I am pretty much alone most of the day, but I love being able to check in on social media sites. It makes me feel connected to others. I wanted to explore that connection, but also show how this girl needed to get a “real” life as well as an online one.

What have you learned over the past four novels? Has that influenced the way you wrote this fifth novel?

Wow. I’ve learned that I really can write a book! That may sound like I’m kidding but sometimes when I’m at the middle point of a first draft, it feels like it’s not possible to ever finish. But I know I can. I am big on giving myself daily word counts. It’s a great way to keep a book going.
I also learned how much I love the revision process. The type of writer I am, it works best for me to get the first draft down in a choppy, rather sloppy way, and then the real shape comes in the revision process.

Other than your own book, what’s your favourite book that you’ve read in the last year?

I’ve read some great books this year, Rainbow Rowell is amazing! But I think I was most taken with, It’s Kind Of A Funny Story, by Ned Vizzini. The voice is amazing and I really admired the book. I was so sorry to hear of his death. Such a talented but conflicted man. Mental illness sucks.

Have you ever been tempted to write genres other than contemporary YA?

I’ve been more than tempted! I’ve done it! I’ve actually written a couple of paranormal YA’s. Neither sold. But right now I’m writing an MG series for Capstone, called Mermaid Kingdom. It’s fun. Four small books. So different than my YA.

What is one of the things you thought were true as a teenager?

I thought that Rex Smith was the most beautiful man on the planet. I thought that this was the most beautiful and meaningful song ever written. And a great video. Ha ha. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Read a lot. Write a lot. And try to find some writing friends who “get” what you’re trying to do. It’s not always easy but if you love it, you’ll keep at it.

Where do you get inspiration for your novels?

I get inspiration everywhere, and lots from real life. Most of my ideas start with characters. I’m kind of a “what if” writer. What if a girl’s embarrassing video accidentally went viral and she was hiding out on Twitter. What if a girl ate a peanut butter sandwich and then kissed a boy who had peanut allergies.

Why do you write novels for young adults?

I think that’s where my voice is most natural. I tried writing romance when I wrote my first book but when I started writing my first YA, I was like, YES, this is what I was meant to write. I think in my head I’m a sixteen year old girl, and it’s easy for me to write at that level. Scary. True.

How do you choose names for your characters?

Very randomly. I use social media to find names for most of my main characters. I have to make sure I’m giving my characters names that are popular today and not when I was a teenager. I’m not the kind of writer who gets really hung up on character’s names. In 16 Things, Adam was not Adam until my editor gave me revisions. His name was Riker and my editor really nicely asked if I would change it. It tends to happen more with my male characters. That they get changed, I mean.

What would be in your road trip survival kit?

First coffee. Then Diet coke. And Gum. Especially if I’m driving. I love to chew gum when I drive. And good speakers, if I’m driving. So I can play loud music. If I’m a passenger, I need a good book.

What has been your most memorable road trip?

I took A LOT of road trips as a kid. That was our go to summer holiday plan in my family with 4 kids. The one that stands out the most is when family friends drove all the way from the Edmonton joined us in Toronto (where we’d recently moved from Edmonton) and we drove all the way to the Maritimes. Two station wagons, 9 kids, 2 dogs, 4 adults. We camped along the way. I mostly remember the fireflies in on East Coast. They were so cool.

What kind of advice would you give kids who are suffering from cyber bullying? Do you think it’s something that will keep escalating?

As the mom of a teenager, I really hate the idea of cyber bullying, but of course it happens. I think parents need to play an active role if they can. By that I mean making sure they are aware of what kids are doing online and keeping communication lines open. So if bullying is happening with kids, they can feel comfortable about asking parents for help. Which is hard, I know, because being bullied feels so shameful (when it isn’t the fault of the victim at all) but it’s not always something kids want to talk about. My advice is to tell someone. Ask for help. No one should have to deal with bullying alone.

If you could go back in time and give your teenage self 5 pieces of advice, what would they be?

  1. Stop perming your hair.
  2. Drinking does not make people like you more. Quite the opposite. You’re okay without it. Shy isn’t a death sentence. Be yourself.
  3. You’re not so bad. Give yourself a break.
  4. A boy who says you need to lose weight is NOT a boy you want to be dating. Also. You are NOT fat.
  5. Don’t be so worried about what other people think.

Do you imagine that your characters go on to live happier, stronger lives having overcome the obstacles they face? Or, do you think they continue to be presented with struggles in their adult lives?

Great question ha ha! I always imagine my characters going on to have a happier life after the books is over, I really do! I don’t usually think of them all the way to adult lives, but I think past the time when the book ends and they’re off to college, or with the boy or whatever they need to do to get happy when the book is over. ☺

Who is your favourite character from your books, and why?

Hmm. This is hard. I always really love the characters I’m currently working on. And it’s harder than naming my favorite child, because I only have one so he always wins. Picture me currently in deep thought. Okay. I’m going to go with Sam from Who I Kissed. I felt very protective of her because she really did think she didn’t deserve to have any happiness in her life after the tragedy in the book took place. It was a hard book to write, very close to home, as my son has peanut allergies. I really felt emotionally connected to Sam.

Have you ever wanted to revisit any of your characters in a sequel?

I think at some point I’d like to write a short novella or something where all my characters meet up and there’s some resolution to where they ended up after their stories ended. I haven’t felt compelled to continue a characters story in a full book though.

Which character is the most like you?

Honestly I think little parts of me slip into most of the characters. Or they get to do or say thing I always wanted to.

This book is a departure from your previous cover treatments. What do you think of the new cover?

I really really really love it! (really really) I think it is a great representation of what the book is about. I love the Morgan they used on the cover and the feeling of being alone in all that white space!

Thanks Janet!

16 Reasons to Read #16thingsithoughtweretrue

by Melissa
Fiction + YA Fiction / March 04, 2014

16 Reasons to Read This Book
(yes, I went there!)


1)    It’s written by the lovely (and Canadian!) Janet Gurtler.

2)    It features a road trip. Who doesn’t love road trips!?

3)    Social media plays a predominant role in this book.  Our culture is so immersed in social media and 16 Things I Thought Were True does an excellent job of portraying some of the issues that go along with it

4)    This book features a realistic protagonist who has flaws

5)    It’ll make you laugh

6)    It’ll make you cry

7)    It’s about friendship

8)    It’s about family

9)    It’s about love

10)  It tackles the hard issues

11)  It has an awesome hashtag #thingsithoughtweretrue

12)  It's a contemporary YA book, so there’s no need to immerse yourself in a new world or learn new terminology

13)  There’s an element of mystery as secrets are uncovered

14)  It's perfect for book clubs

15)  It’s a great spring break read

16)  Because I said so!

16 Things I Thought Were True is available in stores now. Read it! You won’t regret it.


Scarlet Set to Launch February 5!

by Megan
February 01, 2013


Why Marissa Meyer, what kickin' reads you have!

Marissa Meyer’s epic Lunar Chronicles series kicks into high gear next week with the release of book #2, Scarlet (Check out the Facebook fan page for the latest release information). Cinder and Scarlet’s dystopian take on the fairytale aren’t your average damsel-in-distress, singing-drawf stories. I am so excited for Scarlet’s release, I’ll be wearing my red cloak and bionic leg all weekend (family, watch out, you’re about to be embarrassed). Here’s a quick recap to get y’all in the mood:



Not Your Average Dystopia: Raises questions about what it means to be human when the androids are often more empathetic than the warmbloods.

Not Your Average Fairytale: Androids? Plague? Cyborgs? YES! So much for tiaras and tulle.

Girl meets boy. Girl is cyborg, boy is prince of New Beijing, and, oh yeah, the world is being threatened by both a deadly plague and a race of eerie moon people who seem bent on intergalactic domination.

Cinder is a cyborg, a second-class citizen with a mysterious past who is both reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her sister’s illness. After becoming intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai, Cinder becomes caught in an intergalactic struggle. Cinder must uncover secrets about her own past in order to protect the future of the world.



Not Your Average Dystopia: Raises questions about permanence, leaving a mark on this earth. Can a person’s essence be captured in a microchip? Is destiny something to be embraced, or avoided?

Not Your Average Fairytale: Grandma ain’t goin’ down without a fight. Take that, wolfie.

A young girl and her missing grandmother. A big bad (and handsome) wolf. A vicious lunar queen trying to hunt them down.

Scarlet Benoit is searching for her missing grandmother. In the search, she discovers secrets about her grandmother’s life and her own, and the grave danger they have both been in for their entire lives. Scarlet meets Wolf, a street fighter who promises to have information about her grandmother. The two are drawn to one another, growing closer in their search. Cinder also appears, trying to break out of prison and in the process, becoming the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

In honour of the Lunar Chronicles and their awesomeness, I’ve taken down a list of recommendations à la Scarlet for other fairytale creatures (listen up, gnomes):

  1. Always travel with an android if you can swing it, preferably one with a smart mouth and a celebrity obsession. Much more entertaining than singing dwarves.
  2. Cyborg parts are SO HANDY! Run out of pockets for your magic wand/spare change/poisoned apple? Simply open up that metal panel in your thigh and stick 'em inside! Ikea storage taken to a new level.
  3. If you’re going to be bitten by a wolf, make sure he’s tall, dark, and mysterious.
  4. Train your grandmother to kick butt. And not just a little, but a LOT.  A grandma with a wicked sidekick is much more excellent when it comes to battling evildoers than one who just pulls the covers tighter and gets eaten.
  5. Take note Hansel and Gretel: it’s much easier to navigate dark forests and fairytale settings with an internet connection in your brain. Not to mention the money you’ll save on breadcrumbs. 

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Tough Issues, Great Reads: When Teen Life Isn’t All Rainbows and Sock-Hops

by Megan
January 25, 2013

Sometimes, being a teenager sucks.

Sometimes it goes beyond plain-old suckage and into downright nasty, over-the-top suck-tastic territory.

Adult fiction loves the coming-of-age tale, but what if that coming of age is horrendous, cataclysmic, short… or doesn’t happen at all?

There’s been an ongoing spate of attention to the so-called genre of “sick lit” for teens (a term that doesn’t leave much wiggle room for argument). What is "sick lit"? (I cringe whenever I type that term... Every time I read about so-called “sick lit” I hear a shrill shriek in my head of “Won’t somebody please think of the children!"). Essentially it describes  books for teens that explore topics such as death, disease, and anything not particularly PC.

This subject got a lot of attention from the success of last year’s The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, a story about two teens with cancer. Whether you think the whole sick lit argument is a somewhat bogus idea that doesn’t give teens enough credit [full disclosure here: I DO! ], or an argument with some merit, it can hardly be disputed that bad things happen to kids, bad things act as good discussion points, and bad things can make a pretty compelling story.

Here are a couple of good books on the horizon that I’ve been reading that do it right, and some good discussion points raised therein.


(Spring 2013)

Much like the Marleys were dead to begin with, Paige is dead from the get-go after a freak fall from the school roof during her physics class. Seemingly doomed to be confined in ghostly form to the high school that was the scene of her death (as nightmarish an idea as any I’ve ever heard), Paige feels hopeless as rumors circulate that her death wasn't an accident, but a suicide... until she discovers that she can possess living people when they think about her. Can she use this new ability to stop the rumors swirling about her death?

Why you’ll talk about it: There is a mystery involved in this story, and the borders between the living and the dead are not so rigid as they would seem.

Discussion points: Questions of free will are raised, the labels we assign to people, and the idea of reputation, that bastion of obsessed high-school attention, extended to life after death.


My Life After Now
(April 2013)

Theatre-loving Lucy is sixteen and happy, with a boyfriend, her best friends, and an upcoming role in the school play. But after her boyfriend makes a less-than-graceful exit with another girl and Lucy's choice role in the school play goes to said girl, Lucy loses it and does something completely out of character. After an unplanned night, Lucy becomes HIV positive. Yikes. Now there’s a yearbook summary from hell for you.

Why you’ll talk about it: This is no “don’t have sex or bad things will happen” kind of book, but a book of what happens "after". As the protagonist notes, what happens when you need to know information beyond the “practice safe sex, kids” lessons of sex ed class?

Discussion points: How do you go to high school being HIV positive? How do you deal with the misinformation and fear around the disease? How do you forgive yourself for a costly mistake? 

BIG Discussion Point: As the authors notes in the "Facts and Figures" section at the end of the book, though teenagers make up only 25% of the sexually active population, young peole (13-29) accounted for 39% of all new HIV cases in the USA in 2009. That is a scary number.

(BONUS: the book includes book Reader's Guide discussion questions and an HIV Resource Guide For Teens at the back).

Apocalyptic Reads - Upcoming YA Dystopia

by Megan
January 18, 2013

If you’re feeling a little chafed that ye olde Mayan apocalypse failed to materialize (really, how bothersome), fear no more frustrated mortals. There are some amazing dystopian reads floating like a mushroom cloud above the horizon for Winter and Spring 2013, filled with destruction, magical realism, adventure, and introspection.

If you’re like me, there’s nothing better than curling up with a great dystopian read, some cheesie poofs (official foodstuff of the apocalypse) and letting glimpses into the possible future take over your imagination. Here are some recommended dystopian reads, and some suggested survival accessories.


Love in the Time of Global Warming

Essential Survival Accessories Kit: Flippers, snorkel, giant-repellent, a copy of Homer’s Odyssey.


After losing everything to a tidal wave that sweeps across her city, 16-year-old Penelope sets off on an Odysseus-esque quest that will bring her face to face with life and death, and all the choices therein. The beautiful language and writing will pull you in, and the gripping story will keep those pages turning.



The Fury

Essential Survival Accessories Kit: Burn ointment for those pesky radiation burns, a tape measure to determine quarantine distances, running shoes.


Three normal kids discover that their families and friends are suddenly overtaken with rage and have an unstoppable mission to kill them. Just another Saturday night for some, but the scope of this epic story ensures it is anything but ordinary. This page-turner will keep you guessing: who are the real bad guys in a setting where survival itself may be the worst thing one can do to a person?



Essential Survival Accessories Kit: Social insurance card and birth certificate, lifejacket, parachute.


Being in a plane crash probably isn’t the most fun thing  in the world. Being the sole survivor and media target, as well as losing your memory completely? Probably even less so. This book is all the more intriguing and alarming for how completely around-the-corner it feels. Science running rampant? No way, that would never happen…





Essential Survival Accessories Kit: Toolbox with ALL screwdriver heads (no skimping), degree in mechanical and/or computer engineering, up-to-date vaccinations.


The second book in the Lunar Chronicles series, this book continues to follow Cinder as her story crosses with that of the fiery Scarlet, as well as her grandmother and, oh yeah, a futuristic big bad wolf. Intergalactic espionage and fighting forces Cinder to finally accept, acknowledge, and embrace a destiny that will change everything she has ever known.


Siege and Storm

Essential Survival Accessories Kit: Warm clothes for those brisk northern snowstorms, pickled herring (mmmmm), boating license.


Fantasy with an overlay of dystopia, this book, the second in the Grisha series (FYI waiting for the third book feels like my own personal dystopia—I want it now!) further pushes main character Alina’s personal powers to a brink that could either sever the natural world or save it. This book will make

Cory Doctorow Pirate Cinema Launch

by Dan
Events + Fiction + Science Fiction and Fantasy / September 24, 2012

Cory Doctorow, portrait by NK Guy

Do you live in Oakville? You do! Well then, make sure you get yourself down to the Oakville Public Library this Wednesday to hear the awesome Cory Doctorow (author of Little Brother and For the Win) introduce his latest novel, Pirate Cinema

Pick up your free ticket at all Oakville Public Library branches to hear Cory read from his book and discuss creativity, copyright and bill C-11 followed by a Q&A.

Bring your book to have it autographed! Don’t have a copy? Different Drummer Books will be available with copies for purchase.

Pirate Cinema!

Cory Doctorow at Oakville Public Library 
Wednesday, September 26: 6-8pm
Central Branch Auditorium – 120 Navy Street
Refreshments will be served

Tickets are required and are available in all branches. If you are unable to pick up a ticket for this event before Wednesday, please contact Elise at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or at 905-815-2042 ext. 5037 and a ticket will be left at the door for you!

This event is open to Grades 9 and above.

Please contact Elise at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 905-815-2042 ext. 5037 if you have any special needs.

This event is sponsored by The Friends of the Oakville Public Library.

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