Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Jimmy Hoffa Disappears

On this day in 1975, Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa disappeared. Many assume he was kidnapped and murdered by the mob, but no one's sure what really happened-- Hoffa has never been seen since that night, no body has been recovered, and it's a major mystery of our time.

Going off the theory that he was kidnapped, today we're looking at teen books with kidnappings.


The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney. One day at lunch, Janie's looking at the missing child on the back of her milk carton and is shocked to recognize herself. Her proper, slightly uptight parents can't really be kidnappers, can they? But what about these flashes of memory from a different type of life? Who is Janie Johnson? The first in a series, follow it with Whatever Happened to Janie?.

Girl, Stolen by April Henry. Griffin was excited to see the empty car idling in front of the store, so easy to steal. Finally, he did something right. But Cheyenne was asleep in the back. Now the blind teenager is prisoner of a car theft ring, who can't decide if she's worth ransoming, or if all the evidence (including her) should be destroyed.

What Happened to Cass McBride? by Gail Giles. Popular girl Cass is a bully. After his brother commits suicide because of her cruelty, Kyle kidnaps her, and buries her alive. Cass is now trapped in a coffin, but Kyle wants to see her suffer, so there's a camera and a microphone. Can Cass talk her way out of this one?


Stolen by Lucy Christopher. On a layover between Vietnam and England, Gemma is drugged and kidnapped, stolen from her family and taken to the Australian outback. Ty has been watching Gemma for years, and planning. Now that he has her, he expects her to love him and to stay forever.

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott. When Alice was 10, she was lured away from a school field trip and taken to live with Ray. But Alice knows she's not the first Alice and now that she's 15, there are certain things about her body that Ray can no longer prevent or hide. It's time for a new Alice, but it's up to the old one to find her.

The Good Girl's Guide to Getting Kidnapped by Yxta Maya Murray. Michelle used to be Princess P, daughter to one of the biggest crime families in South LA. But then the money went away and the rest of her family ended in jail. In foster care, Michelle has turned her life around, turning into an academic and track superstar. But those her family wronged are still looking for her, and they've found her.


The Missing Girl by Norma Fox Mazer. There is a guy on the corner obsessively watching the five Herbert sisters. The sisters don't notice, too busy worrying about the money troubles at home. One will be taken, but which one, and what will happen next?

The Tension of Opposites by Kristina McBride. Two years ago, Tessa's best friend was kidnapped and Tessa put her life on hold. Now Noelle is back, but she's not the same girl who left. As Noelle tries to fit back into her own life, Tessa has to realize that things can't go back to the way they were.

Broken Moon by Kim Antieau. When Nadira's brother is kidnapped to be a camel jockey in the desert, she disguises herself as a boy. Then, she uses her storytelling skills to survive, infiltrate the camel-racing world, and tries to find and rescue him.

What books with kidnapping to you recommend?

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support YA Reading List by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Paperback Book Day: some of my favorite paperbacks

Today is Paperback Book Day! On this day in 1935, Penguin published its first book. To celebrate, here are some of my favorite books out in paperback.


Diva without a Cause by Grace Dent. Shiraz will be the first to tell you that she's not a chav, even though she's the very definition of one. All she wants is to finish school so she can be discovered and go on Big Brother, but this year has other plans. Only the first sequel, Posh and Prejudice was published in the US, but there are several in the UK.

Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale y Holly Black. When Kaye moves back to New Jersey, she discovers that she is actually a changeling child-- a pixie left by the faeries to replace the human child they stole. This is a retelling on Tam Lin. It's time for the 7-year tithe and Kaye's friends are it. Kaye's changling status lets her straddle both worlds, and she can save her friends, but if you don't know the ways of the faerie, it's a dangerous game to play.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. After his grandfather is killed, Jacob feels compelled to travel to a small Welsh island to discover more about his grandfather's past. There he discovers that his grandfather's wild stories were true. There's a time loop and the monsters are real. This is one where I had it in print and ebook so I could read it EVERYWHERE until I finished. Sequel comes out in January.


A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson. Anna's a Russian Countess who's fled communist Russia and landed penniless in London. She's had to take a job as a housemaid in a manor house. Rupert, Earl of Westerholme, was never supposed to be Earl, but his older brother died in the war. Mersham is out of money, and Rupert has to marry for money. You know where this is going but you're still on the edge of your seat.

Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty. Jessica ("Not-So") Darling is one of my favorite characters in YA literature, her sarcastic and cynical look at New Jersey high school life is wonderful. In this book, she's mourning the fact her best friend, Hope, has moved away and can't escape Marcus Flutie, the stoner best friend of Hope's older (and recently deceased) brother. There are five books in the series, follow it with Second Helpings.

The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Ford Prefect is a writer for the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy-- a handbook every space adventurer needs. He rescues hapless earthling Arthur Dent moments before the Earth is demolished to build a highway. This omnibus edition contains all 5 volumes of the trilogy. Remember to pack your towel.


Tamar: A Novel of Espionage, Passion, and Betrayal by Mal Peet. After her grandfather commits suicide, Tamar is left with his box of parachute silks, with code written on them, plus some other objects from his time in WWII. The story bounces between her and her grandfather in WWII, when he was with the Dutch resistance, him, his best friend, and the girl they were both in love with. Trapped in Nazi-occupied Netherlands, they get information out, and receive information. But the tension and fear soon take its devastating toll. Seriously, one of my favorite books of all time.

All-American Girl by Meg Cabot. Sam's just a goth girl in DC, who's in love with her older (uber-popular) sister's boyfriend. Things take a turn when she (accidentally) saves the President's life. Suddenly in the lime-light and the nation's Teen Ambassador, she's finding that the political advisors want her to speak up and use her voice--but only if she sticks to the talking points. Making matters more complicated is the president's son, who has a thing for Sam.

Gamma Glamma by Kim Flores. Normally, being asked to enter the science fair would be an honor, but it's the same day as Homecoming--something Luz does not want to miss. Her solution? Come up with a project so outrageous, there's no way it will win and she won't have to go! So, she's using science to make people popular. Her lab cooks it all up--jelly beans that make you tan, bubble gum that helps your conversational skills, and specially formulated perfume. Sadly, it turns out when you made all your friends super-popular, there's no one left to eat lunch with. And she her success means she still has to go to Science Fair.

What are your favorite paperbacks?

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support YA Reading List by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Tomorrow is Paperback Book Day!: Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults

Tomorrow is Paperback Book Day, which marks the anniversary of Penguin published its first book in 1935. With a such a subject as paperbacks, this is obviously a day we need to celebrate over multiple days! Today, we'll look at some titles on the YALSA list of Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults. Every year, the committee chooses 4 topics and puts together a list of books that fit the topic, are popular with teens, and are available in paperback. Out of all the books on the list, they also choose a top 10 list. This is the Top Ten List for 2013.


Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg. This takes the classic Jane Austen story and sets in a modern elite high school, with Lizzie Bennett as the scholarship student and people looking from prom dates instead of marriage proposals.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson. Rory starts boarding school in London when a Jack the Ripper copy cat serial killer starts his dastardly deeds. Rory's the only one who can see the prime suspect-- something that leads her into dealing wiht London's own Ghost police. The first in the Shades of London trilogy, follow it with The Madness Underneath.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart. Disgusted by certain aspects of her elite boarding school, Frankie infiltrates the all-male Order of the Basset Hounds. Despite the fact her father and boyfriend are members, Frankie's supposed to pretend she doesn't know it exists. Instead, she makes it do her bidding without their knowledge.

Struts & Frets by Jon Skovron. If Sammy's band wins the Battle of the Bands, the prize is a recording contract. But in addition to making sure the band is ready, Sammy also has to deal with his grandfather's dementia and the fact that his best friend wants to be his girlfriend.


Drama by Raina Telgemeier. Callie loves working backstage, even when it means trying to create a world-class set on a budget of nothing. Her theater friends sometimes offer an escape from the confusing world of boys, but sometimes theater just makes boys that much more confusing.

First Crossing: Stories About Teen Immigrants edited by Donald R. Gallo. This anthology contains 11 short stories about immigrant experiences. Authors include Pam Munoz Ryan, Lensey Namioka, and David Lubar.

The New Kids: Big Dreams and Brave Journeys at a High School for Immigrant Teens by Brooke Hauser. THe International High School at Prospect Heights, in Brooklyn, is a school just for recent immigrants who are learning English. Hauser follows several students during their first year at the school and in the US.


Heist Society by Ally Carter. When a group of paintings is stolen, there's only one suspect, Kat's father. The only way to save him is to find the paintings and steal them back. Kat's been raised in a family of art thieves, but this time she's in charge with her own crew, and they're about to pull of the most daring heist in history. The start of a series, you'll want to read Uncommon Criminals next.

The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen. Jessica was a track star-- until she loses her leg in a bus accident. Jessica now has to figure out a life without running, while trying to navigate the world without her leg.

Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy by Bil Wright. Carlos knows he's fabulous and talented. He's excited to get a job at the Macy's makeup counter, sure he's on his way to makeup artist fame, but the competition is fiercer than he imagined.

What are your favorite paperbacks?

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support YA Reading List by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Auntie's Day: The Cool Aunts of YA Literature

Today is Auntie's Day! Auntie's Day is a day to celebrate aunts, godmothers, and other women who play a large role in the lives of kids who aren't their own. To celebrate, we're looking at some of the cool aunts in YA literature.


13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson. When Ginny's Aunt Peg passes away, she leaves Ginny 13 blue envelopes, each decorated and numbered. In it she finds money and instructions that will send her on a whirlwind journey across Europe. Follow it with The Last Little Blue Envelope.

Amazing Grace by Megan Shull. Grace is a tennis star whose face is on every magazine, and she wants out. Starting over with a nose ring and a new name, Grace moves to a small village in Alaska to live a completely "normal" life, with her Aunt Ava, far away from tennis.

I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter. The first in a series about life in an exclusive boarding school that trains future spies, Cammie's Aunt Abby is a CIA agent, sometimes teacher, and always awesome and one of Cammie's biggest sources of protection. Follow it with Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy.


Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen. When her fitness-guru mother travels to Europe, Collie spends the summer with her aunt, a greeting-card illustrator. Collie lost 45.5 pounds, thanks to her mother, but she still feels just as insecure, but her aunt and the other people in her aunt's life help Collie see her life in a different way.

Alibi Junior High by Greg Logsted. Cody's been homeschooled by his father as they travel the globe (Dad's in the CIA). He's had a new identity every week, but now he he's living with his aunt and has to try something new--Cody, the normal junior high student, which is something he is not at all prepared for.

Love and Haight by Susan Carlton. Chloe is spending New Year's Eve in San Francisco. She and her best friend are going to stay at her groovy Aunt Kiki's house and have a great time, except Chloe has another reason for coming-- she's pregnant and in 1971 California is one of the only places where abortion is legal.


Bindi Babes by Narinder Dhami. Amber, Jazz, and Geena have been fine since their mother died. Dad's at work all the time, and they get whatever they want. But when Dad decides they need more adult supervision and Auntie moves in from India, she's sticking her nose into EVERYTHING. So, they come up with a plan--marry her off. Soon they're interviewing every available guy in the neighborhood. Follow it with Bollywood Babes.

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. Told in interlocking short stories, Tan follows four Chinese women and their American-born daughters. Spanning time and continents, it's a look at multiple mother/daughter relationships and immigrant experiences. This is also a great on to look at many family friend "aunties." A modern classic, it was a teen favorite of mine.

Enchanted by Alethea Kontis. Joy and Sorrow are two fairies. Joy is godmother to Sunday, Sorrow to the prince. Their rivalry and ways have influenced too many lives for too long. Enchanted is part Frog Prince, part Cinderella, part Jack and the Beanstalk, with dashes of many other fairy tales.

Who are your favorite aunts?

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support YA Reading List by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

My Birthday: Some of my Favorite Books

And now for a totally self-indulgent day! It's my birthday, so here's a list of some of my most favorite YA books. It's by no means complete, but it's a start.


Two Moons in August by Martha Brooks. One of my most favorite books of all time. After her mother died last summer, Sidonie's family fragmented--her sister went off to Uni and her father threw himself into his work. This summer, she tries to bring them back together, while also letting herself open up to the new boy across the street.

Nation by Terry Prachett. Mau's entire island village is destroyed by tsunami. He's the only one left until he comes across Daphne, a white girl shipwrecked on his island by the same deadly wave. Together they find a way to survive and move on from the tragedy, while still examining the greater questions of life. Prachett is one of my favorite authors, and this was the first of his books that I ever read.

Heist Society by Ally Carter. When a group of paintings is stolen, there's only one suspect, Kat's father. The only way to save him is to find the paintings and steal them back. Kat's been raised in a family of art thieves, but this time she's in charge with her own crew, and they're about to pull of the most daring heist in history. The start of a series, you'll want to read Uncommon Criminals next.


Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson by Louise Rennison. While Georgia is mainly preoccupied with her love life, readers will fall in love with her insane cat, mad toddler sister, crazy parents, and the Bison dancing of the Ace Gang. This book is guarenteed to change your vocabulary forever it doesn't matter where you live--Old Blighty or Hamburger-a-go-go-land. The books pick up mere seconds after the previous book in the series, so be sure to have On the Bright Side, I'm Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God on hand.

Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jacyln Moriarty. Elizabeth has problems. Her best friend, Celia, is missing. Her father's moved back to Australia from Canada. To top it all off, the new English teacher wants the Internet Generation to rediscover the JOY OF THE ENVELOPE and is making the students at Ashbury (posh private school) become penpals with students at Brookfield (public school a few blocks away.) This is told entirely in letters although not always from real people. The first in a series of companion novels, the second is The Year of Secret Assignments.

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh. Mark Renton and his friends are junkies without a future. Told in scenes and vignettes (the movie has much more of a plot than the book) this is a mind-opening book about modern Scottish life with the wrong crowd. Published for adults, the heavy dialect and adult language make this one for mature readers, but it's been a favorite of mine since high school.


A Spy in the House by Y. S. Lee. Sentenced to hang at the age of 12, Mary is rescued by Miss Scrimshaw's school for girls. Upon graduation, she's recruited into their secret-- a spy ring made of women, because in Victorian London, a woman who knows her place is in the perfect place to learn everything. Lee's a master at working in the details of daily life and the city, without it ever overwhelming the story. The first in a series, follow it with The Body at the Tower.

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta. After the days of the unspeakable, Seranonna curses Lumatere, and its exiles are left to find each other and try to find a way home, never knowing if there's a home to find their way back to. Finnikin roams the countryside, checking on the refugees, trying to find them a new home, but then he hears the name of the heir to the throne and has hope that maybe they can go back home, so he finds a novice that will guide them. The second in the trilogy is Froi of the Exiles.

Soulless by Gail Carriger. Alexia Tarabotti is a half-Italian blue-stocking spinster in Victorian London. Every knows that. What not every knows is that she has no soul. In a London teeming with vampires, werewolves, and ghosts, Alexia can turn them mortal with a mere touch. But lately, random vampires are attacking her, and others have disappeared. They're after Alexia, too, but only if she doesn't find them first. The first in a delightful series, follow it with Changeless.

For some of my other favorites, check out my list for Drop Everything and Read Day. What are your favorite YA books?

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support YA Reading List by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Day of the National Rebellion: Books about Cuba

On this day in 1953, Fidel Castro attacked an army garrison, launching the Cuban Revolution. To mark this day, here are some books about Cuba.


Leaving Glorytown: One Boy's Struggle Under Castro by Eduardo F. Calcines. As he grows up in Castro's Cuba, Eduardo gets used to watching what you say, used to hunger, used to his father being gone at labor camp (for daring to apply for an exit visa), used to the jealousy as other families get their visa and his family is still stuck.

The Red Umbrella by Christina Diaz Gonzalez. When the soldiers come to her town, life changes for Lucia and her family. As it gets more and more oppressive, Lucia and her brother are sent, by themselves, to the US, as part of Operation Peter Pan. Now she lives in Nebraska, struggling to fit in, and worrying about her parents and the country she left behind.

Letters to My Mother by Teresa Cardenas, translated from the Spanish by D. Unger. After her mother dies, a nameless girl is sent to live with relatives, where she experiences cruelty and racism for having African blood. To cope, she writes letters to her mother. This is one of the only teen books I know of that was originally published in Cuba and portrays contemporary life.


Cuba: My Revolution by Inverna Lockpez and Dean Haspiel. Based on Lockpez's own life, Sonya is a medical student when the revolution hits. She volunteers to join the revolution and treats soldiers at the Bay of Pigs. But, she treats the wrong person and ends up imprisoned and tortured. When she gets out, she joins an artist collective to cling to the revolutionary spirit. Published for adults, older teens will like this one.

The Secret of the Yellow Death: A True Story of Medical Sleuthing by Suzanne Jurmain. Jurmain walks us through the ravages of yellow fever and the steps and experiments the doctors went through to prove that it is, indeed, spread by mosquito. Most of these experiments were done in Cuba.

Around the Bloc: My Life in Moscow, Beijing, and Havana by Stephanie Elizando Griest. After college, Griest went to Moscow. She spent the next four years traveling throughout various communist countries, including Cuba. Although written for adults, Griest's age during her travels makes this book highly appealing for teens.


No YA author writes about Cuba as often as Margarita Engle. I couldn't choose just 1.

Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba by Margarita Engle. The main voice in this verse novel is Daniel, a Jewish teenager from Berlin, whose parents could only afford to get one person out, him. They said they'd meet him in New York, but his ship wasn't allowed to land in New York and ended up in Havanna. Paloma is a Cuban girl who helps the Quakers with the refugees. Her mother ran off to Paris with another man, her father charges huge fees and bribes for entry visas and then sometimes rejects the ship anyway.

Hurricane Dancers: The First Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck by Margarita Engle. This verse novel combines the historical tale of a disgraced landowner turned pirate, who shipwrecked on Cuba's shores during a hurricane, and the Cuban love story of Caucubu, the chieftain's daughter, and Narido, a fisherman.

The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom by Margarita Engle. Starting in 1850, when Rosa, a slave girl with healing knowledge, is lent out to the slave hunter and his son, the story follows her, the son (Lieutenant Death), and a complete cast of characters throughout the next 50 years as Cuba fights multiple wars in an attempt to win independence from Spain.

What are your favorite books about Cuba? Any recommendations for books from Cuba?

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support YA Reading List by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links.