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1. YA Novels That Don't Follow The Rules

Of all of the books I've read, there are just some that stand out from the pack.  They're what I call renegades, rebels, and non-conformists. Once I started reading these bad books, I was HOOKED. But don't think they aren't workhorses either.  In today's educational world, students who can interpret and understand a variety of texts are the pros.  It's not so much about the written word, but also how you can "read" different formats.
So here's a list of naughty but very nicely written YA novels that don't follow the rules:

 

1. Illuminae by Amy Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.  2015
Like the cover says, this is a compendium of files from charts, to layouts of space ships, government documents to personal texts, decoded voice and video files.  Don't let the thickness daunt the reader, it's a FAST read with an excellent plot and conflict!!








2. YOLO Juliet by William Shakespeare and Brett Wright.  2015
When a generation comes up with their own langauge, why not write a novel with it?  Better yet, why not only write a novel, but let is be a translation of one of the greatest works of all time!!  It may help to have background knowledge, but even if you don't, it's definitely a FUN read!






3. TTYL, YOLO (Internet Girls series) by Lauren Myracle  2004-2015
Before emoticons, there were acronyms, and the beginning of some very interesting ones too.  The list keeps growing, just like this series that is all about friendship, text, and three girls from junior high to college.  Keep in mind (always!) - you can't read emotions in text...until emojis were born!






4. Dear Nobody: The True Diary of Mary Rose by Gillian Cain and Legs McNeil.  2014
First-person perspective of a young girl whose life goes from okay to bad to downright sad.  In non-fiction diary format, you will experience her pain, her joys, and her frustrations all the way until the last day she writes.  But what captures the reader's heart is her self-portraits. Wide-eyed innocence or a look of being overwhelmed?  Wow....powerful




5. Non-fiction Graphic Novels ( My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf) 2012

Graphic novels, a cousin of the comic book, brought  non-fiction to a whole 'nother level.  While teens may say there's nothing as boring as a non-fiction book (they should try narrative non-fiction!) this is THE antidote to boring.  Pictures fill the pages along with the short storyline.  Little do teens know interpreting graphic novels is all about reading waaaaay deeper than a regular novel. Gotcha!!




6. Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony.  2012

This is definitely not your avereage graphic novel, although it is considered one.  First of all, there are no drawings.  This is more like a scrap book filled with pictures, notes and a storyline all about elicit love and music.  Difficult to read?  No.  Emotionally fulfilling?ABSOLUTELY!





7. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children 2012
It doesn't matter how old you are, there will always be something comforting about reading a picture book.  Until you read this one with some really crazy scary pictures in it!  The storyline is impeccable and how the author weaves his story with these eerie images is a thrillfest.  Love at first sight...or read...





8. The Notebook Girls by Julia Baskin.  2006
Who hasn't ever wanted to pick up someone's diary and read all about their lives?  What you get with this novel is called a two-fer.  The first is that first forbidden look into one of three girls' notebooks.  The second is that this isn't a made-up story but a real one.  Talk about living vicariously through characters in a book! 10 years later, visiting NYC, I couldn't HELP but think about this book and the teens who live there!



9. Post Secret by Frank Warren.  2005
Sometimes, all it takes is a small snippet to either suck the air out of the room or make you sigh with happiness.  The premise is brilliant - share a secret with complete anonymity.  There are more books in the series, and you'll want to read them after tasting the first one full of real-life and real people.




10. Monster by Walter Dean Myers  1999
When you're sitting behind bars, waiting to see what happens next, your mind can whirl with all kinds of thoughts.  So why not create an alternate ending to life in the form of a movie?  Myers nailed it in this fiction book and I contend that is  why this is still such a favorite.  Myers actually gets kids to read a movie script of an excellent YA story through a classic format not much widely read by young adults.



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2. Best Young Adult Books with Rachel Caine, Author of Midnight Bites

We're living in a golden age of great fiction ... so many beautiful works being published every month, and it's become a real paradise for readers, whatever they like to read.

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3. Five Family Favorites with Sue Fliess, Author of Calling All Cars

Author Sue Fliess selects "Five Family Favorites" to share with readers ... Read the rest of this post

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4. Best Selling Kids Series | April 2016

This month’s best selling kids series from The Children’s Book Review’s affiliate store Captain No Beard, by award-winning author Carole P. Roman, is an imaginative picture book series loved by all.

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5. Best Selling Young Adult Books | April 2016

This is a solid list that we're not budging on from last month! Our hand-picked list from the Best Selling Young Adult books listed on The New York Times includes both Glass Sword and Red Queen, by Victoria Aveyard.

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6. 5 Middle Grade Books to Love | Selected by Sarah Dooley, Author of Free Verse

It’s always difficult to narrow down the teetering pile of “Books I Loved” and the tottering pile of “Books to be Read” to a manageable number. Here are just a few middle grade novels author Sarah Dooley loved, and a few more she's looking forward to reading.

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7. Best Young Adult Books with Deirdre Riordan Hall, Author of Pearl

During her teens, Deirdre Riordan Hall, author of PEARL, traveled throughout the United States and Europe, developing a love for stories and a desire to connect with worlds imagined or real on the page.

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8. Five Family Favorites with Mariam Gates, Author of Good Morning Yoga

Mariam Gates, author of Good Morning Yoga, selected these five family favorites.

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9. 75+ STEM Inspired Young Adult Books in 9 Categories


via GIPHY
Recently, there had been a discussion about STEM/STEAM related YA books, which prompted this blog post. I chose the categories first and then searched for books I've read as well as some I haven't and categorized them to what I thought the book best suited. Some of them, of course, could possibly go into more than one category but alas! I had to choose but one. And interestingly enough, I didn't know I had read so many science related books! This was especially surprising as science isn't my forte at all! So here's a link to the Mindomo infographic I created. If you use the arrows at the bottom, it'll zoom into each one better :)   https://www.mindomo.com/mindmap/a8f462216179467b97e02f857f50c749

If you know of any others I may have missed (or even categories) please comment and share with everyone because I'm SURE I've missed something STEM-MY

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10. Randomly, on a Thursday, She Caught Up. Sort of.

I am about a week and a half overdue in posting this, but better late than never: DID YOU KNOW TANITA'S NEW BOOK IS OUT? WOO HOO! Released on Feb. 9, it's about being a foster sister and finding a family in today's complex social and racial... Read the rest of this post

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11. Five Family Favorites with Carol Weston, Author of Ava XOX

Oh wait, wait, wait, am I cut off? So many other favorites!

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12. Top 3 Mystery Novels set in London | Selected by Carina Axelsson, Author of Model Undercover: London

Mysteries and London go together like tea and cake or jeans and Converse. Although not all of my favourite English mysteries take place in London, many do. Here are three (okay, maybe a few more than just three) of my top mystery novels set in London.

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13. Celebrate Black History Month with Five Collections from LEE & LOW BOOKS

February is Black History Month. The origins of Black History Month began with historian Carter G. Woodson launching Negro History Week in 1926. Woodson felt that teaching African American history was essential for the survival of the African American race.

In 1969, students at Kent State University proposed expanding Black History Week to Black History Month. The first Black History Month was celebrated a year later. In 1976, Black History Month was recognized by the federal government and has been celebrated ever since.

Today, heritage months can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, relegating culturally diverse books to specific months of the year can mean these books are overlooked the rest of the year. It can also separate Black history from American history, when in fact black history is American history.

On the other hand, we are still working to undo a long history in which the achievements and contributions of people of color were routinely ignored. Having a special time of year to highlight these achievements can help fill in the gaps in our history.

Our opinion? Black History Month isn’t a time for once-a-year books; the books you use this month should be in your regular rotation. But Black History Month is a good time to give your collection of African American titles a little extra love–or updating, if it needs it.

LEE & LOW is proud to offer a number of different Black History Month collections. Check them out below:

k-2 collectionBlack History Month Collection, Grades K-2

This paperback collection features a mix of historical fiction and biographies from African Americans who excelled in arts and politics for young readers.

Featured Books:

Love Twelve Miles Long, written by Glenda Armand and illustrated by Colin Bootman – Frederick Douglass’s mother travels twelve miles late at night to visit him in another plantation. Mama recounts why every step of the way is special to her.

Knockin’ On Wood, by Lynne Barasch – Clayton “Peg Leg” Bates, a legendary 20th century tap dancer, lost his leg in an accident at the age of twelve. He taught himself how to dance, first with crutches and then later with a peg leg.

Purchase this collection here


3-6 collection

Black History Month Collection, Grades 3-6

This collection explores the lives of great African Americans with a wide range of picture book biographies and historical fiction books for young readers.

Featured Books:

Little Melba and Her Big Trombone, written by Katheryn Russell-Brown and illustrated byFrank Morrison – This award-winning biography follows the life of Melba Liston, a trailblazing musician and a great unsung hero of jazz.

Ira’s Shakespeare Dream, written by Glenda Armand and illustrated by Floyd Cooper -Ira Aldridge dreamed of being on stage one day performing the great works of William Shakespeare. Due to little opportunity in the United States, Ira journeyed to Europe and through perseverance and determination became one of the most respected Shakespearean actors of his time.

Purchase this collection here


BHM collection 7-12Black History Month Collection, Grades 7-12

This collection is perfect for a wide range of middle to high school level readers. Readers will be able to explore the history of African American music, Civil Rights, and sports.

Featured Books:

i see the rhythm, written by Toyomi Igus and illustrated by Michele Wood – This book explores African American music throughout history, starting with its roots in Africa.

I and I Bob Marley, written by Tony Medina and illustrated by Jesse Joshua Watson – This book of poems explores the life of famous musician Bob Marley.

Purchase this collection here


Black History Month Special Collection

Black History Month Special Collection This collection features a mix of award-winning hardcover and paperback biographies of great African Americans at a range of reading levels.

Featured Book:

Love to Langston, written by Tony Medina and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie – Fourteen original poems explore the life of Langston Hughes, one of America’s most beloved poets.

Purchase this collection here


Black History Month Paperback Collection

Black History Month Paperback Collection

This collection features hand-picked award winning books, available in paperback.

Featured Book:

In Her Hands, written by Alan Schroeder and illustrated by JaeMe Bereal – Augusta Savage enjoyed sculpting with clay, despite her stern father thinking it was a waste of her time. To pursue a career as an artist, Augusta leaves everything she knows behind and journeys to New York.

Further Reading:

Who Is Ira Aldridge?

Remembering Cortez Peters

Why Remember Bill Traylor?

Why Remember Florence “Baby Flo” Mills?

Why Remember Author Ashe?

Why Remember Robert Smalls?

Why Remember Toni Stone?

Storyline Online: Catching the Moon

Seven Core Values to Celebrate During Black History Month

Why You Should See Selma

Katheryn Russell-Brown on the Research Behind Little Melba and Her Big Trombone

Protesting Injustice Then and Now

Resources for Teaching About Wangari Maathai and Seeds of Change

Three Ways to Teach Etched in Clay

The Origins of the Coretta Scott King Award

More Resources

Twelve Months of Books

The Problem with Ethnic Heritage Months

African American History Month (Library of Congress)

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14. Best Selling Kids Series | February 2016

This month's our list of hand-selected series from the nationwide best selling Children's Series list, as noted by The New York Times, features James Dashner's Maze Runner series and Ransom Riggs' Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children series.

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15. Best Selling Young Adult Books | February 2016

Our hand-picked list from the Best Selling Young Adult list from The New York Times includes a revisit of Red Queen, by Victoria Aveyard. The best selling young adult titles include books by super-talent Rainbow Rowell.

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16. Best New Kids Books | February 2016

Our selection of hot new releases and popular kids' books has a lot to offer!

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17. Five Family Favorites with Arwen Elys Dayton, Author of Traveler

Arwen Elys Dayton, author of Traveler, selected these five family favorites.

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18. January 27th is Multicultural Children's Book Day!

At Finding Wonderland, we have always been committed to reviewing a wide range of diverse and multicultural books, which is why we're very excited to see that this year the folks at Multicultural Children's Book Day are making a supreme effort to... Read the rest of this post

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19. Five Family Favorites with Allison Branscombe, Author of All About China

Allison Branscombe, author of All About China: Stories, Songs, Crafts and More for Kids, selected these five family favorites.

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20. 2015 Book Favorites

I’ve been looking at all of the year-end book lists and getting even MORE recommendations for my To-Be-Read (TBR) list. Since moving into the city, I have been able to read more books. But I’ve also become a book hoarder as well and there is a ton of books still on my nightstand.

I think YA author Beth Revis said it best on Twitter:



However I still want to share with you some books that I did enjoy this year. Here’s a list of some of my favorites:

2015Favorites

Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor
Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older
Slade House by David Mitchell
The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin
The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
When by Victoria Laurie

Hope everyone is ending the year on a positive note and that 2016 will be even bigger and better for all of you! :)

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21. My List of Top Ten YA Books of 2015

https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2559/4182826573_d82b2ff78a_o_d.jpg

It's been a great year for YA books!  This year, I accomplished my goal of reading 50 books in different formats (I'm really enjoying the wonder of e-books) and among that list is the cream of the crop titles I absolutely got lost in.  These titles are a mix of fiction and non-fiction, graphic novel and short stories and everything in between.  These aren't in any particular rank or order (other than alphabetical), as all of these books were absolutely amazing!  There are more than ten I could absolutely put on this list, but I took my time and really thought about the titles I chose and why.  So walk with me through my top 10 best of the best book for teens....

1. All The Rage by Courtney Summers
What struck me about this book is the powerful theme it contains.  Romy, the main character, faces the most intense hardships of high school - bullying, isolation, and being taken advantage of against her will.  These take Romy to the brink of a breakdown but her strength, family and the few she can trust help her not only deal with what she went through, but also makes her realize her own self-worth.





2. All We Have is Now by Lisa Schroeder
When I can read in a book in one setting, I know it's a book that should be on this list.  Emerson knows she has less than 48 hours to live - not due to illness, but to a meteor bearing down on the U.S. This novel shows how not only what happens to her, but others who decide to live the rest of their lives by fulfilling lifelong dreams, falling in love, and granting forgiveness.  What grabbed me are the different threads of lives Schroeder writes about that begin to interweave in unusual ways leading to a beautiful ending.




3. The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks
This is one of those books that people either loved or not and that's why it made my list.  Brooks' novel evokes powerful emotions from readers and what ultimately happens to the group of people who are victims of circumstance in this superbly suspenseful book.  Another reason why I put this book on the list is that the ending is so climactic and unexpected, most of the teens I know who've read it can't wrap their minds around the ending of it all.





4. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Fantasy fiction has become (or still is) a popular genre, and while so many I've read recently take place in another time and world, this book doesn't. Rowell writes an urban fantasy with quirky characters and villains in today's world where wizards co-exists with Normals.  VERY reminiscent of the Harry Potter series, Rowell brings back the magical fun the characters and the school creates that makes it such a refreshing read.  It's all about relationships first, conflict second and the ability to combine lighthearted reading with some dark places the readers get to explore.



5. Drowned City by Don Brown
Brown brings back into the spotlight the horrors, mistakes and redemptive circumstances that created the disaster of New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina.  This book tells the story not only through words but the powerful images depicted on the pages, allowing those to not only read it, but truly look at what happened and allow it to resonate in them.  This is one of the best graphic novels I've read not only because it brings an important event up in teens lives, but also because although it's a quick read, it stays there long after the last page is turned.

6. Hitler's Last Days by Bill O'Reilly
There are a few titles from O'Reilly's Killing series that have been adapted for young adults, and when there is, they become an important part of a YA collection because of the hidden history behind the event and person.  This is about Hitler, but also about World War II and how his decisions led to the ultimate downfall of one of the most evil people in history.  O'Reilly writes without any political motive, which makes this a book for all readers.  You may not like the author, but try not to transfer bias to a great YA non-fiction book.

7. Infinite in Between by Carolyn Mackler
Follow five teens as they enter high school and begin their four year tour. Any teen will be able to find a character to identify with, whether it be the most popular girl in school or the geekiest kid to enter high school.  Not only do you get to see how they change physically (case in point: freshmen year class picture to senior year) but also the relationships and conflicts that begin to create the person they are.  Its' definitely a St. Elmo's Fire meets The Breakfast Club kind of book you'll fall into.




8. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
It's not the flashy Marvel or DC graphic novel, but it's definitely a contender in attracting readers' attention through the clever use of dialogue and character.  Stevenson creates a meld of genres in this book.  She mixes a little fantasy with a bit of science fiction and adds a touch of historical fiction to create a fabulous graphic novel about friendships and enemies that holds a deeper meaning in what it means to be a true confidante and mentor.  I chuckled all the way through this book through Stevenson's dry and witty humor between the characters, especially Nimona and her unique talents.



9. Orbiting Jupiter by Gary Schmidt
There have been books that have made me shed a tear or two because of it's emotional impact, but this one jerked them right out of me because of its plot of love and loss.  Blending difficult days spent behind bars with a love story with the beauty of  adoption and foster care, Schmidt creates a character that has the weight of the world on his shoulders as well as the promise of new beginnings.  This isn't a book with lots of pages (in fact, it won't take hardly any time to read) but it makes up for it through the large emotional reach it'll have once the last page is turned.



10. Slasher Girls and Monster Boys edited by April G. Tucholke
This short story collection has the best YA authors that have written stories that are truly from the dark side.  This is horror at its best because it comes in small or large doses, depending on how much the reader can handle.  This isn't for those who get nightmares from reading YA horror and supernatural, but will definitely delight those who enjoy walking on the side tainted by dark evil and revenge.





And one to grow on....

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
This is a slice of science fiction that takes place completely in outer space. There aren't a hundred characters, planets and ships to keep track of.  One plot, one (or two) huge conflicts, and two main characters makes this book readable and enjoyable for those  who can't manage to keep track of too much.  The authors write the story through transcripts, text messages, secret documents and  file and this is what makes it a standout.  While reading this, I saw it as a movie in my mind...excellent sign of a great YA read!!




Now, bring on 2016!!!

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22. Best Selling Picture Books | January 2016

Our best selling picture book from our affiliate store is one of our all-time favorite books: Dear Zoo, by Rod Campbell!

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23. Best Selling Middle Grade Books | January 2016

This month, El Deaf, a 2015 Newbery Honor book is the best selling middle grade book from our affiliate store. Our selection of books picked from the nationwide best selling middle grade list, as they appear on The New York Times, includes Star Wars: The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary.

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24. Best New Kids Books | January 2016

Take a look at our selection of hot new releases and popular kids' books and let us know which titles and covers catch your eyes. There are so many amazing new kids books coming in 2016!

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25. Best Selling Young Adult Books | January 2016

Our hand-picked list from the Best Selling Young Adult list from The New York Times includes a revisit of Red Queen, by Victoria Aveyard.

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