Twitter Chat for #SummerofYA – July 6 at 8pm

Join our twitter chat-We are excited to announce the date and time for our first #SummerofYA Twitter chat! Join Mollee & Tavia on Monday July 6 at 8pm to chat about YA titles you’ve been reading, including any that fit our June theme of SURVIVAL. Be sure to follow our Twitter handles and use #SummerofYA to engage with others during the discussion. No worries if it’s your first Twitter chat – we will moderate and make it easy!

If you are new to Twitter, Tavia made a great Twitter101 tutorial that will help you get up and running. And if the time (or Twitter) doesn’t work for you, feel free to comment on the blog, and we will check back here after the 6th.

In the mean time, keep up the summer reading & don’t hesitate to reach out to us on Twitter/Comments before the 6th!


#SummerofYA Review: Off the Page by @JodiPicoult and Samantha Van Leer

I’m on a YA roll right now, because we are still in school mode and I’ve needed an escape when I come home! This enchanting story is not part of our Survival theme for June, but just a new(ish) book that I’ve been anxious to read! You should recognize the name Jodi Picoult, of contemporary fiction fame – She and her daughter co-wrote this, and its companion, Between the Lines, which follow the fantastical relationship between an average high school girl, and a prince from a fairy tale. Between the Lines introduces these characters, and I highly recommend reading it first, but this can be read without first knowing the history between Delilah and Oliver.

While it sounds like a lighthearted story, what I really appreciated about Picoult and Van Leer’s tale is the honest voice they give the multiple characters who share their POVs. Each chapter switches perspective, and even though there are elements of fantasy, the problems they face are very real – reputations in high school, first love, friendships, family drama, and life not turning out like expected. Not only are the characters easy to relate to, there are some lines that jump out at you and make you want to say “YES! ME TOO!” ~ isn’t that what we all want out of a good read?

‘But, you know, in this world… it’s not always a perfect happily-ever-after.’ – Delilah

When you love someone, silence isn’t awkward. Delilah sits next to me, her arms wrapped tightly around me, and neither of us speaks. I was born in a sea of words, I lived and breathed language, but right now, this quiet is the most comfortable place in the world. – Oliver


Another feature I loved about this book, besides the blissful love story and the bond of best friends, were the artistic details. Each chapter heading has a black and white illustration, that looks like a wood carving but it carries so much emotion! And there are also several full-color illustrations and add to the fairy tale element.


This is a perfect read when you want to root for the underdog, hope for the best, and believe that fairy tales can really come true.

Currently Reading: I am Malala

#SummerofYA Review: All Fall Down by @OfficiallyAlly

I’ve heard nothing but great things about the author Ally Carter, especially the Heist Society series and yet, I hadn’t cracked open one of her YA mystery thrillers until All Fall Down was released this year! Now I’m wondering why I thought I wouldn’t love this YA subgenre, and regretting it took me so long to try!

To be fair, I’m just not a mystery/thriller kind of girl. Gone Girl, Alex Rider, Maximum Ride are some of the few that I tried, only to not be completely drawn in. Carter approaches her storytelling with a refusal to fit into one category – and I greatly admire that. In All Fall Down, there are elements of espionage, international diplomacy, heavy emotional baggage, challenges that accompany coming-of-age, and of course, relationships.
I picked this book for our survival theme because it teases that a killer is on the loose in (fictional) Adria, and that the embassies situated there are like ticking time bombs – much like Grace, the protagonist. She is sent to live with her ambassador grandfather after her mother’s accidental death, and her father’s deployment. I expected the plot to be driven by these elements, but what really drew me in was Grace’s instability. Not only is she clumsy, people think she’s suffering from some mental illness as a result of watching her mother die. As more details unfold about what she’s experienced prior to arriving in Adria, it made me aware of how I (like characters in the story) treat emotionally vulnerable people. Rather than really listening to what Grace says, most try to put a protective bubble around her and ignore the root of the problem. Without giving too much away, I really loved how Grace’s vulnerability takes the spotlight.
No one theme dominates this first book in  the Embassy Row series, which leaves me itching for more of Grace’s story to be told! Fortunately, Carter has announced that the sequel, See How They Run, will be out early 2016. In the mean time, I have some Heist Society and Gallagher Girls to read up on!

Currently Reading: Off The Page by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer

#SummerofYA review: Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider

I’ve been looking forward to this May 2015 release by Robyn Schneider after reading her debut, The Beginning of Everything, but I was slightly put off by the fact that it was about a drug-resistant illness in teens (cue: Cancer connections and questions about a new “sickness” sub-genre). The John Green factor cannot be ignored after his insane success, so let me address this first: I want to be clear that Extraordinary Means might deal with sick kids, but it’s vastly different than The Fault in Our Stars. If anything, it’s more aligned with Looking For Alaska in the sense that the students live in a boarding school setting, navigate relationships, and push boundaries.

Schneider’s background in medical ethics drives the conflict in this novel, where teens are kept quarantined after contracting a drug-resistant strand of Tuberculosis. This is something that’s hard to imagine in our world or vaccinations and 21st century medicine, but with the recent outbreak of Ebola, perhaps it’s not as far-fetched as it first seems. What the teens learn is similar to what many of us experience: we take our health for granted until its compromised.

Add the dose of mortality that Extraordinary Means serves up with the typical battles teens face like first love, expectations for the future, family dynamics, and the pressures of school, and you get an original, thought-provoking novel by a very strong storyteller.

Want to talk about how this was a SURVIVAL book? Join us for our June Twitter Chat using #SummerofYA 

Currently Reading: All Fall Down by Ally Carter

#SummerofYA June Theme: Survival

Want to join our unconventional YA book club?? Tavia + Mollee are partnering up to host a virtual book club that celebrates the diversity and enrichment that YA lit brings to all readers. One of the misconceptions of YA is that its written only for teens, so it’s not quality literature. We want to help prove that wrong and encourage others to read some of the best books and authors that are out there. Period.

It also helps to read more, and read what (some of your) students are reading.

This is a no-stress, low-commitment book club. Our goal is to get you to read YA (1 book a month) and engage in conversation – we want INTERACTION. We will not be lecturing on YA, but facilitating discussion.

This club is meant to be exploratory. We will give a theme or genre, and it’s up to you to find the title that suits the monthly topic. If that’s too broad for you, we will also suggest a “spotlight author” that is associated with that theme/genre.

We consider YA lit to be suited for students in grades 6th – 12th.

We will hold a Twitter Chat monthly using #SummerofYA but we’re open to chat anytime – so follow us @molleebranden and @tavia_clark  If you aren’t a Twitter-user, SIGN UP! We have a helpful tutorial on our tech website if you are new to it. We do encourage you to try it, as it’s a great way to be a connected educator – with your peers, and with students. If you aren’t comfortable with Twitter, we will post transcripts of our chat on this blog, and encourage you to post comments here. We can also be reached via email (see About page).

We also believe in the value of YA lit. For more information on YA lit, please see the articles below, and on the “Links” page.

Why YA Lit Matters to Everyone @BookRiot

When Authors Take Risks, That’s Not Kid Stuff @NYTimes

June Theme: SURVIVAL

Dystopian has become a booming topic in YA lit (The Hunger Games, Divergent), and often, the theme is SURVIVAL. However, that term is flexible and can include survival of other means.

Find a YA novel or nonfiction that deals with SURVIVAL for the month of June.

If you want more direction, our Spotlight Author is James Dashner (The Maze Runner).

You might also find ideas at: