This week at Teen Librarian Toolbox


This week over at Teen Librarian Toolbox, I’ve summarized some of the key findings in GLSEN’s 2013 National School Climate Survey, which looks at the experiences of LGBT students in schools.

From my post:
168 page report (which is available as a PDF and as an hour-long webinar) looks at discrimination, harassment, assault, biased language, school resources and support, and more, and examines how these factors affect educational performance, safety, and mental health of LGBT teens. The report is filled with statistics, charts, and graphs that drive home the point that LGBT students face a lot of opposition at school and frequently don’t feel safe or supported.  Being knowledgeable of their potential struggles and understanding where they (and you!) can go to find useful resources (books, websites, helplines, etc) is a major step in the right direction. As GLSEN reports, “The survey has consistently indicated that a safer school climate directly relates to the availability of LGBT school-based resources and support, including Gay-Straight Alliances, inclusive curriculum, supportive school staff, and comprehensive anti-bullying policies.” This report should be required reading for anyone who works with teenagers. 

Waiting on Wednesday: The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson

waitingonwednesdayWaiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.


Hey, you guys! You’re never going to believe this! I chose ANOTHER book about grief! Pain! Grief! Dead families! Could someone please recommend a crapload of NOT depressing books to me soon? Because if you go back and look at my past many WoW picks, they are NOT cheerful. But whatever. I like what I like (even if seeing my list of books I intend to read sort of makes me wonder what my problem is). My pick this week is The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson, with illustrations by Christine Larsen. 


Summary from fivestages

A heartbreaking yet uplifting story of grief about a boy who has lost everything, but finds new hope drawing in the shadows of a hospital. Features a thirty-two-page graphic novel.

Andrew Brawley was supposed to die that night, just like the rest of his family.

Now he lives in the hospital, serving food in the cafeteria, hanging out with the nurses, sleeping in a forgotten supply closet. Drew blends in to near invisibility, hiding from his past, his guilt, and those who are trying to find him. His only solace is in the world of the superhero he’s created—Patient F.

Then, one night, Rusty is wheeled into the ER, half his body burned by hateful classmates. Rusty’s agony calls out to Drew like a beacon, pulling them both together though all their pain and grief. In Rusty, Drew sees hope, happiness, and a future for both of them. A future outside of the hospital, and away from their pasts.

But to save Rusty, Drew will have to confront Death, and life will have to get worse before it gets better. And by telling the truth about who he really is, Drew risks destroying any chance of a future.


Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication date: January 20, 2015


Why I’m excited: I’m hearing good things. It sounds super interesting and intense. Also, I love books that incorporate some kind of illustrations/graphic novel element to them. Plus, it’s an LGBTQ book, so OF COURSE I’m going to read it. I’ll be reviewing it at some point in January for Teen Librarian Toolbox. 

Top Ten Tuesday: Top ten sequels I can’t wait to get



It’s time for Top Ten Tuesday! Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. 


This week: Top Ten Sequels I Can’t Wait To Get. 


1. The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick. Summary from Goodreads:

Tim Mason is trying to get it right. Always the ready-for-a-good-time guy, he’s working to put his past behind him, staying in the apartment over his best friend’s parents’ garage, and picking up the pieces of his life. It wouldn’t be smart to fall for Alice, the ambitious, too-savvy sister of that same best friend. But Tim has never been known for making the smart choice. So when the unexpected consequences of his wild days come back to shock him, Tim finds himself in a situation that isn’t all it appears to be—that he never could’ve predicted . . . but maybe should have.

Returning to the world of the beloved and critically-acclaimed My Life Next Door comes a story about failing first, trying again, and having to decide whether to risk it all once more. (Publication 2015)


2. P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han. Summary from Goodreads:

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.

She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.

When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of makes it so amazing. (Publication April 21, 2015)


3. Fairest by Marissa Meyer. Summary from Goodreads:

In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series. (Publication date January 27, 2015)


4. Winter by Marissa Meyer. Teeny summary from Goodreads:

This book will feature Cinder and Snow White and will take place on the moon. (Publication date November 24, 2015)


5. Rhiannon by David Levithan. Very little info from Goodreads:

Nancy Hinkel at Knopf has acquired David Levithan’s Rhiannon, the companion to Every Day, his recent novel about A, the character who changes bodies on a daily basis. The new book is told from the perspective of A’s love interest, Rhiannon. Publication is set for spring 2015; Bill Clegg at WME brokered the deal for North American rights.(Publication date 2015)


6. We Can Work it Out by Elizabeth Eulberg. Summary from Goodreads:

When Penny Lane started The Lonely Hearts Club, the goal was simple: to show that girls didn’t need to define themselves by how guys look at them, and didn’t have to value boyfriends over everything else. Penny thought she’d be an outcast for life…but then the club became far more popular than she ever imagined it would be.

But what happens when the girl who never thought she’d date a good guy suddenly finds herself dating a great one? She doesn’t need a boyfriend… but she wants it to work out with this particular boyfriend. And he wants it to work out with her.

Only, things keep getting in the way. Feelings keep getting hurt. Words keep getting misunderstood.

Penny Lane worked hard to declare her independence. Now she needs to figure out what to do with it — and how to balance what she wants with what everyone else wants. In We Can Work It Out, Elizabeth Eulberg returns to the world of her first novel, The Lonely Hearts Club, and gets to the heart of how hard relationships can be… and why they are sometimes worth all the drama and comedy they create. (Publication date January 27, 2015)


7. Stone in the Sky by Cecil Castellucci. Summary from Goodreads:

In this thrilling follow-up to Tin Star, Tula will need to rely on more than just her wits to save her only home in the sky.

After escaping death a second time, Tula Bane is now even thirstier for revenge. She spends much of her time in the Tin Star Café on the Yertina Feray—the space station she calls home. But when it’s discovered that the desolate and abandoned planet near the station has high quantities of a precious resource, the once sleepy space station becomes a major player in intergalactic politics. In the spirit of the Gold Rush, aliens from all over the galaxy race to cash in—including Tula’s worst enemy. (Publication date February 24, 2015)


8. Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray. Summary from Goodreads:

After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O’Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. Now that the world knows of her ability to “read” objects, and therefore, read the past, she has become a media darling, earning the title, “America’s Sweetheart Seer.” But not everyone is so accepting of the Diviners’ abilities…

Meanwhile, mysterious deaths have been turning up in the city, victims of an unknown sleeping sickness. Can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld and catch a killer? (Publication date April 14, 2015)


9. Instinct by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Summary from Goodreads:

Zombies, demons, vampires, shapeshifters— another day in the life of Nick Gautier– and those are just his friends. But now that he’s accepted the demon that lives inside him, he must learn to control it and temper the very emotions that threaten the lives of everyone he cares for. Something that’s hard to do while trying to stay off the menus of those who want his head on a platter. And no one wants him more than the dark gods who created his race. Now that they know where he is, they will stop at nothing to reclaim him. And without knowing it, Nick has just embraced the one person he should never have trusted. The one person who will hand him over to his enemies to get back the life they lost.

Nick has finally accepted his fate, now he must learn to defy his destiny, and the dark, deadly forces that will stop at nothing to destroy everyone he loves so that they can again return to the world of man and own it. (Publication date March 31, 2015)


10. King Dork Approximately by Frank Portman. Summary from Goodreads:

From Frank Portman comes the long-awaited sequel to the beloved cult classic King Dork, of which John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars, said, “Basically, if you are a human being with even a vague grasp of the English language, King Dork will rock your world.”
Aside from the stitches and the head wound, Tom Henderson is the same old King Dork. He’s still trying to work out who to blame for the new scar on his forehead, the memory loss, and his father’s mysterious death. But illicit female hospital visitations, The Catcher in the Rye, and the Hillmont High sex-pocalypse have made him a new man.
What doesn’t make you stronger can kill you, though, and tenth grade, act two, promises to be a killer. Tom’s down one bloodstained army coat, one Little Big Tom, and two secret semi-imaginary girlfriends. Now his most deeply held beliefs about alphabetical-order friendship, recycling, school spirit, girls, rock and roll, the stitching on jeans, the Catcher Code, and the structure of the universe are about to explode in his face. If only a female robot’s notes could solve the world’s problems, he’d have a chance. But how likely is that?
King Dork Approximately–it feels like the first time. Like the very first time. (Publication date December 9, 2014)

Book review: Words and Their Meanings by Kate Bassett


Words-and-Their-Meanings-5About the book
Title: Words and Their Meanings

Author: Kate Bassett

Age level: YA

Genre: Realistic

Subjects: Death, Grief, Writing, Families, Depression, Romance, Friendship, Secrets, Art

Publisher: Flux/Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.

Publication date: 9/8/2014

Format read in: Paperback

Source of book: Picked it up at the Twin Cities Book Festival last month

Pages: 384

Why review this book?: Initially I was just going to read this “for fun,” that is, read it without the intent of taking notes and writing about it anywhere. But it took about 3 pages for me to realize this book was outstanding and that I needed to spread the word.


Summary (from Goodreads):

Anna O’Mally doesn’t believe in the five stages of grief. Her way of dealing with death equates to daily bouts of coffin yoga and fake-tattooing Patti Smith quotes onto her arms. Once a talented writer, Anna no longer believes words matter, until shocking discoveries– in the form of origami cranes– force her to redefine family and love.

As Anna goes in search of the truth, she discovers that while every story, every human being, has a last line, it might still be possible to find the words for a new beginning


The details

I was absolutely blown away by this book. Here are some places I cried while reading it: my kitchen table, my bedroom, my car, and the pharmacy. Anna’s uncle Joe died last year, at age 19. Joe was more like a brother to Anna (who is 17), as his parents died when he was a toddler and Anna’s family (her father is Joe’s brother) raised him. Early on Anna tells the reader that “Joe is a dead person because of me.” We see that Anna carries some secret and heavy guilt about Joe’s death, but we don’t understand why for a very long time. Now that her one year mourning period is up (one year seeming like enough time to shut down and not deal, according to her parents and her therapists), Anna is supposed to try to get back to normal. It’s either that or be shipped off to Hell–no really, Hell, Michigan–to a boarding school for “the afflicted, suicidal, and otherwise broken tween and teenage souls.” Anna doesn’t do a very convincing job of trying to be “okay.” Obsessed with Patti Smith, mostly she just writes quotes on her arms and practices her coffin yoga. She’s stopped writing, her former passion. Her little sister, Bea, isn’t doing much better—she’s taken to hiding all of the time, often in places that are really not great ideas (the washer, the oven).

Anna is still a mess, but when she finds a note from Joe to a mystery girl who is not his girlfriend, she and her best friend Nat attempt to uncover who the note was meant for as a way to keep Anna distracted and busy. Another distraction, one she’s not sure she’s ready to handle, is Mateo, whom Anna meets at her (brief and ill-fated) waitressing job. Mateo is extremely patient with her many hangups and her need to push him away. He’s a chef and an artist with secrets of his own.


All of these secrets–Joe’s love interest, Mateo’s plans, the true depth of Anna’s depression–all start to unravel after Anna’s grandpa ends up in the hospital. Secrets Anna could never have predicted (or maybe chose not to see) start to surface, throwing Anna into a spiral of despair. Anna continues to blame herself for everyone’s problems and sorrows, even in spite of plenty reassurance that things are not her fault. By the end, everything is out in the open, Anna is pushed to the breaking point, and I was sobbing my eyes out.


This amazingly beautiful and deeply moving book examines what grief can mean to so many people, the various ways it affects people, and the ways we choose to deal or not deal with it. An excellent pick for anyone who enjoys contemporary YA. 



Author’s website

Author’s Twitter

Roundup of book-related links

* At TLT we’re doing #YAAtoZ all month, celebrating the authors we love. Join us by doing your own posts or tweeting your favorite authors to us (@TLT16 and @CiteSomething). This week I wrote about E. Lockhart and David Levithan.


*At TLT this week I wrote about Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky, an excellent middle grade book about a transgender girl.


*At Diversity in YA, Isabel Quintero has a guest post, “Making My Self Visible.”  You know I’m absolutely in love with her book Gabi, A Girl in Pieces, right? And so is Kelly Jensen at Stacked. And you can be, too! GO READ IT!


*Carrie Mesrobian is talking about sex (what? really? shocking!) in “On Young Men and Virginity.” 


*At Wrapped up in Books, “If You Like Pretty Little Liars.” Great suggestions.


*At Book Riot, “Scratch and Sniff Books for Grown-Ups.”  I didn’t know these existed and now I desperately need to experience one of these books. After all, any good child of the 80s well remembers the joy/weird smells of scratch and sniff stickers!


*At Diversity in YA, “We Don’t Need Another Straight, White, Able-bodied Hero,” by Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith.


This week at Teen Librarian Toolbox: Gracefully Grayson


This week at Teen Librarian Toolbox, I wrote about Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky, an excellent middle grade book about a transgender girl.

From my review:

Reading this book wasn’t easy. Grayson is very alone for much of the time. The people who are horrible to her are awful. We spend a lot of time getting to see Grayson’s thoughts and dreams, which are so far from the reality she currently is in. But by the end, after the weeks spent with new friends in the play, the story begins to feel more hopeful. It’s clear that Grayson’s path won’t be an easy one. Nothing magically becomes great for her before the story wraps up. There is still a lot of uncertainty and sadness in her life. Though the ending is a bit abrupt, it looks like Grayson will be taking further steps to begin to show her true self to the world. (Full review here)

Waiting on Wednesday: I Was Here by Gayle Forman

waitingonwednesdayWaiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.


It would appear I intend to read a bunch of books in the near future about death and grief. As I write this, it’s one month almost exactly until the second anniversary of my dad’s death. So maybe because that’s on my mind, those are the books I’m drawn to. I dunno if that’s good or bad or just… is. At any rate, soon I’m going to have to start building a list of much lighter novels as an antidote to what will surely end up being despair-reading overload. I don’t doubt that Gayle Forman’s I Was Here will leave me in tears, but it’ll be worth it, because it’s GAYLE FORMAN.


Summary from i was here

Cody and Meg were inseparable.

Two peas in a pod.
Until . . . they weren’t anymore.

When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, and some secrets of his own. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.

I Was Here is Gayle Forman at her finest, a taut, emotional, and ultimately redemptive story about redefining the meaning of family and finding a way to move forward even in the face of unspeakable loss.


Publisher: Viking Juvenile

Publication date: January 27, 2015


Why I’m excited: As I said above, it’s GAYLE FORMAN. She’s one of those authors whose new books equal an immediate read.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top ten characters you wish would get their OWN book



It’s time for Top Ten Tuesday! Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. 



This week: Top Ten Characters You Wish Would Get Their OWN Book. Well, making this list should be simple. So often I find myself thinking that secondary characters just steal the show in some books, or that I’d love to know a whole lot more about people who are main characters but are not getting to tell the story.


1. Tiny Cooper from Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan. And oh look! He IS getting his own book. Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story by David Levithan comes out on March 17, 2015. Can’t wait to learn more about the completely fabulous Tiny Cooper.


2. Speaking of John Green, could Hassan Harbish from An Abundance of Katherines please get his own book? He completely made that book great.


3. Hey, J.K. Rowling, wanna rewrite the entire Harry Potter series with Neville Longbottom being the chosen one? I always loved Neville, and it didn’t hurt that he grew up to be gorgeous. 


4. Marcus Flutie from the Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty. Tell me the whole story all over from Marcus’s point of view. Tell me more about what he was doing every time he disappeared. Just tell me more, period.


5. Jelly from Steve Brezenoff’s Guy in Real Life. We get to read a bit more about her in this short piece “One in the Belly” on Young Adult Review Network. Every time she popped up in GIRL I just wanted her to hang around longer so I could learn more about her.


6. Tris from Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. Tris is kind of a mess, which makes me want to know more about her. Why would Nick like her so much?


7. Let’s put a third David Levithan title on this list, shall we? Boy Meets Boy. How about giving Infinite Darlene (formerly known as Daryl) the homecoming queen (formerly the football quarterback) her own book?


8. Libby from Tim Federle’s Nate books. She’s loyal, clever, and just as into theater as Nate. Let her have her own stories, too!


9. Hey, so, I really want to know more about what happened to Donovan from Pointe by Brandy Colbert while he was gone. It would be a thoroughly upsetting book, I’m sure (not that Pointe wasn’t upsetting), but I want to know.


10.Collette from Carrie Mesrobian’s Sex & Violence. I want to know what happened to her/with her once she leaves the boarding school. I want to know how the events that happened affected her.

My love letter to my teen book club

TAB4My favorite day of the month is the second Saturday. That’s when I head down to the public library and spend a few hours with my favorite teenagers. Back when I was working at the high school library, I partnered with a few public librarians and we started up a teen advisory board, and later we added a teen book club. I was lucky enough to have a very dedicated crew of kids who lived at my desk all day long–wonderful teenagers who lived and breathed books and wanted nothing more than to talk about them ALL THE TIME. They become the core members of the TAB and book club, and for the most part, they are still the members who show up the most frequently. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have left the library to pursue other things, but to be able to still see these fantastic people (and get their texts and calls, meet up for lunch, and consider them my friends). They’re smart, yo. 


We ended up with 13 teenagers at the meetings today. We talked about everything we’ve been reading lately. Some books: The White Rabbit Chronicles, City of Ashes, Love Story (yes, that Love Story), Waterwalker, Scorch Trials, Kate Chopin, Sarah Vowell, Andrea Dworkin, A Handmaid’s Tale, Room, Thirteen Reasons Why, Like the Red Panda, The Celler,, Jane Eyre, and so many more titles and authors I probably didn’t scribble down. As you can see, they read widely. I asked if they wanted to continue just babbling about what we’re all reading (we kinda do lightning round booktalks) or pick a book, author, or theme for our next meeting. I randomly tossed out there, “You know, if you wanted to read, I dunno, circus books or something.” Instantly everyone started blurting out their favorite circus books. I’m telling you, I could say just about anything and they’d be able to fill out a book list on the topic. Did I mention they’re smart? 


Best quote from a booktalk: “It’s kind of dirty, but life is dirty.” 


I hauled in all the galleys I’ve reviewed recently and other books I’ve picked up here and there to pass along. They are so good about taking books to read and then bringing them back next time to swap with someone else.


What I like best about this group (and I’ve said this before) is that what they have in common is books, and that’s enough. Our book club consists of kids primarily from the high school I worked at, but we also have a homeschooled girl, an unschooled girl, kids who come from a few other high schools, and a few members who are now out of high school a year or two (they’re grandfathered in, though new members need to be 19 and under). Nearly half of any given meeting is made up of Muslim girls. The interests and backgrounds and personalities are varied. These kids weren’t necessarily all friends before joining the group, but they are now. They hang out, text each other, stick together at school, and enjoy the heck out of each other. I adore them. 


Upcoming fun we’re all looking forward to includes Battle of the Books, Cupcake Wars (an announcement greeted by a deafening cheer), game day, Andrew Karre coming to talk about writing and publishing, open mic nights, coder dojo, and so much more.


99% of the time, I am so glad I quit my job. Various things went into making that (difficult) decision, and for the most part, I love working on different projects and being more available for my own child. But one day a month, I absolutely second guess whether that was the right choice. I miss getting to spend all day with these great teenagers draped all over the counter and my desk, chattering nonstop to me, inspiring me. I truly feel so lucky that they continue to be a part of my life, that they want to show me what they’re working on, ask for advice, check in with me, hang out with me, and let me be a part of their big, amazing lives.


So, that’s my love letter to YA Revolution and the League of Extraordinary Readers. Best kids in town. 

Roundup of book-related links

*Did you see the official announcement from SLJ that Teen Librarian Toolbox (my other blogging gig) is now a part of the School Library Journal blog network? So excited to partner with such a great journal.


*At TLT this week, we started our month-long YA A to Z project. Join the conversation!  Share a post about your favorite author OR tweet us your favorite author with the tag #YAAtoZ. While we’re sharing our favorite authors, we would love to hear about yours. We all might find some new authors we haven’t heard of before. And the more authors we share, the more comprehensive and diverse the list becomes. On Twitter, we’re @TLT16 and I’m@CiteSomething. This week I wrote about Laurie Halse Anderson and Kristin Cashore.


*Also at TLT this week, I reviewed the phenomenal book Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero. 


*At Stacked, “Get Genrefied: YA Books in Translation.”  Once again, my TBR list grows and grows.


*At The Horn Book’s Out of the Box, “Monstrous Affections,” a conversation with M.T. Anderson, Kelly Link, Gavin Grant, and Sarah Rees Brennan.


*At SLJ, “The ‘Red Band Society’ and Beyond: YA Novels About Life, Death, and Love.” 


*At The Horn Book, “Beyond the Magically (Dis)abled,” by Cammie McGovern.


*Also at The Horn Book, Margaret Wileey’s “Girls in Towers.”  And at the Carolrhoda Books blog, “Down from Their Towers,”  by Andrew Karre.


*One more from SLJ, “Bibliotherapy for Teens: Helpful Tips and Recommended Fiction.”  GREAT article.