I Get By With a Little Help from my Friends

2016 has been an interesting (read: challenging) year in many aspects. Truly, we wouldn’t get through it without the help from our friends.

There wouldn’t be any #YearofYA without Mollee + Tavia. And there wouldn’t be any #2jennsbookclub without Jennifer + Jennifer. BFFs are there for each other. Make ideas a reality. Cheer you on. Pick you up. Keep it real.

I (Mollee) had the amazing experience of going to YALLfest in Charleston, which is the best YA festival around. It’s casual, a great mix of signings and panels, and draws some incredible talent. (Perhaps I’ll write a whole post about it!) One panel I attended with a NEW friend — Hi Aimee! — was BFFs in YA with authors Sarah Dessen, Lance, Jesse Andrews, ??. First of all, I got a pic with my fave YA author, Sarah, whom I refer to as my TwitterBFF. She posts my thoughts 100% of the time. Pretty sure we’d be real BFFs if I ever got my books published… but I digress. They made some great points about the importance of accurately portraying friendships in their novels because romance nearly always has an expiration date, but friendship isn’t viewed with the same lens. So how does it stay sustained? What happens when the strain leads to break ups between besties? And the best question asked: who are you favorite YA BFFs?!

This Q stumped many of them!! Harry Potter was brought up… as was Perks of Being a Wallflower, TFiOS, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Of course, our favorite duo is Tina Fey & Amy Poehler, but they are real-life bad ass besties!!!

tina amy.gif


So to cap off our #YearofYA 2016 season, let’s celebrate the besties who see us through the good times AND the bad times. Find stories that focus on friendships…. because, as Leslie Knope would say:


Need a soundtrack?


Need some lists?

9 Novels for Teen Besties

5 of our favorite platonic Boy/Girl BFF stories

Best BFFs in books for Galentine’s Day  – Ok this is early, but still a good list!

Greatest BFF’s in YA

6 Perfect YA Friendship Books To Read With Your BFF

7 Great YAs About Best Friendship

Guest Post from BJ Neary

Hey everyone! Mollee and I have been so impossibly busy this past month. Because of this, we extended our September theme, Unapologetically Smart Girls, moving our chat date to October 4th. This means more time to read about our favorite leading ladies! We also decided that since we will be equally busy in October, we’re taking the month off and encouraging you guys to read all of the things you’ve been saving on your TBR lists! In lieu of a scheduled chat, we decided to ask our book buddy, the amazing BJ Neary, to write a guest blog post with some of her favorite YA titles. Below you will find her post. It’s fabulous and packed with great suggestions. Have an awesome month of reading all things YA, and we will announce our November theme soon!

BJ Neary
Retired HS Librarian – Abington Senior High, Abington, PA

I am so happy that my book-loving librarian friends, Mollee and Tavia, founders of #yearofya, the virtual Twitter book chat that I so look forward to and participate in monthly, asked me to be a guest blogger!  As I began to think about what I most ENJOY RIGHT NOW in YA literature and looked at my Goodreads bookshelves, I realized I have been totally hooked on YA SERIES fiction for years now and wanted to share (1) my CURRENT favorites, (2) series books not to be missed, (3) amazing audiobook series and (4) NEW series I am SO looking forward to jumping into (I want your recommendations too!)

What I relish in any series is that they can be any genre; authors build believable and fantastical worlds and craft strong, authentic characters that readers can relate to and cannot wait to explore and enjoy in more than one book. To satisfy my cravings for the next sizzling series sequel, I preorder the next book in the series either for my Kindle, order hard copy from Amazon or for my listening pleasure on Audible.  Afterward, I excitedly look forward to discussing the sequels and series with my friends.  Since I curate Young Adult Novels on Scoop.it, I cannot wait to read reviews from bloggers and other publications like SLJ and Booklist for their recommendations concerning these new releases.

How do I keep track of all the series?  I use Goodreads and I just love free FictFact because there are several ways to find your favorite series: Browse by Series, Browse by Author, Popular Series Overall, Most Popular by Genre, Book Release Calendar (love this) and Search…could not be any easier!

My Current Faves (linked to my reviews on Goodreads)

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas    An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

And I Darken by Kiersten White     The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Andieh

The Raven King by Maggie Steifvater Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski       The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer    The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey

Series not to be missed (my oldies but goodies)
Over the years, my students and I enjoyed discussing and sharing series.  Therefore, I am providing even more series (Animoto video) since I was a high school librarian for ten years. Retired for 4 years, I still ravenously read YA series and am always anxiously waiting for the next new title!  When I was a high school librarian, I did not get around to reading as many series as I would have liked, since librarians are also performing multifaceted jobs (you know what I mean.)  By the time I was able to read series such as, Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi and Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, the whole series was finished!  I just gobbled all three books in the trilogy (one over Christmas break and the other over summer), loved them, of course, and it was heaven!

Amazing audiobooks series

A Court of Thorns and Roses Series Sarah J. Maas
The Selection Series Kiera Cass
Daughter of Smoke & Bone Series Laini Taylor
Half Bad Series Sally Green

New Series I Want to READ
You can’t read every single series that comes out, but this Animoto video shows a few I WANT to read but have not gotten to yet.  But, oh how I do want to jump into them!

Nerd Alert! I just received Crooked Kingdom, Six of Crows, Book 2 by Leigh Bardugo on my Kindle, so I will begin reading this heist thriller immediately!

Additional Series Books Links

YA Series Adults Will Enjoy    

Essential YA Series Reads

Underrated Series That Need More Love


Unapologetically Smart Girls – #YearofYA September 2016


Image from Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls

There are some incredible, real life smart girls out there to inspire and encourage us (including the incomparable Jennifer LaGarde who suggested this month’s theme!) but in September, we will be exploring the ferocious fictional femmes that prove we’re no fools!

When I (Mollee) think back to some of my favorite characters in grade school, Ramona, Matilda & Mary Poppins top the list. Lucky for me, the Harry Potter series released as I grew through middle school and high school, providing me with the ultimate smart girl, Hermione Granger. I still turn back to these characters as an adult and can identify the distinct ways they influenced my identity. Here’s a great article by Bustle on Ramona specifically and how she prepared young girls for adulthood (it’s hilarious, and for adults).

It’s essential that readers can see themselves in what they read, as well as have windows into the lives of others. And I’m not just talking girls…

Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 11.16.19 AM.pngImage from Bustle

Books featuring young girls who can stick up for themselves, defend their loved ones, change the world, or simply be themselves without fear or shame send a strong message about equality: anything boys can do, girls can do too. Sometimes, they can even do it better.

This is an important theme for those of us reading in a lens of adults recommending books to our readers – whether they be in high school, or younger. As an elementary librarian, I’ve seen the struggle some of my young students face in thinking females are inferior to males. One of my admins came to me about a student who had been crying on the bus because a boy called her a feminist (using it in a derogatory way): “I told her that some of her favorite teachers are feminists, like you. Can you show her a good book to read so she understands it’s a good thing?” Guess what: that student has found understanding and encouragement in the pages of many a book. Here’s another story for you… my school is gearing up for its second school-wide read. I recommended Ramona Quimby, Age 8 but received backlash from our 98% female staff, that the story wouldn’t appeal to boys. We’re reading it, and it’s because I’ve pushed the importance of boys reading from a girl’s perspective.

Guess what folks, there’s no such thing as boy books and girl books. It’s time to accept that there are some unapologetically smart girls waiting to teach the world that, when given a chance, girls are right up there fighting bad guys, saving the day, and exercising some impressive brain power.

Read up – find the honorable heroines, and even those vile villainesses, that are waiting for their stories to be celebrated and read up in September. Then hand them off to students – remembering that all age readers, girls AND boys, need to read more of these stories!

August 2016 #YearofYA Teens Talk Tragedies (3)

Mollee’s Reads

I’m obsessed with this topic. So excited to hear what YOU read and share w/ us on our next chat! In the mean time, I’m exploring several options… and have to share that I think my favorite smart girl of 2016 so far is Willowdean from Murphy’s Dumplin‘. If you haven’t read it yet, treat yo’self.

I plan to read…

  • Afterworlds by Scott Westerfield – I was intrigued by the format of this one, where an 18 year old NaNoWriMo writer is pursuing her dream to publish YA, in alternating chapters with her novel. I haven’t investigated enough to learn if Darcy (or Lizzie) really falls under the “unapologetically smart” label, but as one also chasing down dreams of publication, I know the determination and guts it takes!
  • Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven – it comes out in October but I scored an ARC at BEA… SO anxious to read it! The description of this book tells me that Libby is headstrong and determined to be true to herself; an important message for any reader.
  • Ruby Lee and Me by Shannon Hitchcock – this is Middle Grade (or maybe lower?) but it’s one I’ve been wanting to read for awhile. The student here learns to be unapologetically smart and just by a teacher who models those ideals.
  • The rest are TBD!! Have only picked these to START!

Tavia’s Reads
I (Tavia) am a feminist – and I make no excuses for it. When choosing books for the school library, I spend tons of time reading reviews and trying to pick titles that are representative of my kids. I also choose books that are important for my kids to read – books that offer characters that will inspire, give hope to and empower the young people I’m surrounded by on a daily basis. This month’s theme is so important to me, because like Mollee writes, everyone can find meaning from reading books with unapologetically strong and smart females!

To celebrate our theme, I’ll be reading these books:

  • The Golden Compass – Philip Pullman
    This is a classic, but it’s been a long time since I read it. I’m excited to dive in again. I’m thinking about doing the audio version this time around.
  • Wolf by Wolf – Ryan Graudin
    I bought this for the school library last year, but never got around to reading it. It seems like a perfect fit for this month’s #YearofYA theme. I’m excited to read alt-history since this isn’t a genre I normally choose. Plus, one review I read described it as, “like Sons of Anarchy, Inglorious Bastards, and The Hunger Games had a baby.” I mean how can you say no to that!?!
  • Only Ever Yours – Louise O’Neill
    This book sounds pretty intriguing. The cover describes it as Mean Girls meets The Handmaid’s Tale. Sold!
  • Throne of Glass – Sarah J. Maas
    I tried to read this book for another #YearofYA theme a while back, but ran out of time! I think this month’s theme is perfect. A book with a female assassin sounds like a page turner. Plus, my students keep begging me to read the series.

Additional Lists to help you find titles:

A Mighty Girl list

PBS Empowering Middle Grade Girls

The Daily Beast – Smart YA

HelloGiggles – 25 Books for Every Girl

Buzzfeed – This is what a feminist looks like

Oh, and as a bonus:

“The sexiest thing in the world is being really smart”

Attn: YA writers! *Free Contest*

So usually this blog is all about our monthly #YearofYA themes, news about upcoming chats, and the occasional book review. But part of why I approached Tavia about starting this Twitter Book Club is because I’m working on publishing my first YA novel!

Over the last year, I’ve been submitting queries to agents, which is a long, tough process. Each time you send one, hopeful that agent *might* be the one to change your world… you open your inbox every time with dread that it’s more likely you’ll see a rejection. After 12 months of (slowly) emailing and receiving rejections, it’s hard to keep at it! But, the motivation for me is knowing that many, many, many of our favorite authors went though this experience, receiving 10’s, or 100’s of rejections before the novels we adore we’re taken up by an agent, brought before editors, and put out in the world (Kate DiCamillo’s 1st novel, Because of Winn Dixie was rejected 450+ times. Yes, you read that correctly. She didn’t quit!).

While I’m still working on querying, I’m taking a short break to enter a contest for complete, contemporary YA through Writer’s Digest. It’s not a guarantee for representation if I win, but it’s a huge step in getting an agent to read and review part of the book. So far, I’ve received read feedback from 2 agents, but my hope is this is a bit more thorough if I’m a winner.

So if YOU are also a writer, have a complete contemporary YA manuscript, and want to enter… it’s FREE! Get more details: http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/22nd-free-dear-lucky-agent-contest-contemporary-literary-young-adult and tweet me if you’re entering! I’ll be cheering you on, because this is about all being in it together!

#YearofYA Book Chat: George

It’s our 2nd #YearofYA Book Chat! If you missed our first one on An Ember in the Ashes, feel free to go check it out! A quick recap –

Our Book Chat has 4 sections:

  1. 30 Second Sell – where we book talk what we’ve read // feel free to use this section as a hook in your own classes to sell the book to YOUR readers
  2. Elaborate – where we dig deep into themes and what made us want to chat about this book specifically. If you have NOT read the book yet, you might want to skip over the “Elaborate” section as we discuss some details about the plot (but don’t give away the ending!!)
  3. Read Alikes – where we share other titles that are related to the theme, structure, etc that you might want to read or recommend to fans of the novel
  4. If you’ve read… answer this – where we pose a question and want YOU to participate in the conversation! Share your thoughts on Twitter using #YearofYA or comment on the blog.

Check out the #YearofYA Book Chat on: GEORGE!

If you’ve read… answer this:

  • Why do you think the author, Alex Gino, used Charlotte’s Web as the play in this novel?



NYT Review by Tim Federle – it’s SO good

NPR Book Review

TPT Novel Study; endorsed by the author

Teens Talk Tragedy: #YearofYA August 2016

When we sat down to discuss themes for our #YearofYA summer line-up, we knew we wanted to cover Pride month (even if it was a month late!), then Orlando happened. So immediately we decided there was a need to discuss tragedy from the perspective of teens, who are sure to be concerned about the violence they heard about in a club that was about embracing ALL and celebrating LOVE and LIFE through music. What a tragedy we thought… but then the news kept pouring in. PULSE… And Alton Sterling. And Philando Castille. And Dallas. And Baton Rouge. And Istanbul. And Nice.

I’m sure before this post goes live, we’ll have to add another And.

Tragedy isn’t new. Gun violence isn’t new. Discrimination isn’t new. But the 24-hour news and constant updates from social media means that we are fully aware of what’s happening around the world.

For so many teens, they experience tragedy on a less-public scale; no one will read their personal account or hear their audio bit on the national broadcast. Like other readers, my personal tragedies were validated through works of fiction; authors who were able to create a situation that was relatable and left me feeling less alone in my coping and healing.

So whether it’s a tragedy that would (or has) made the news, or something that’s far more personal, choose something this month that would help a student learn, cope, and heal. We don’t want to give too much guidance, because this looks different for every community, school, classroom, and student. Below are some ideas, but pick what fits for your needs.

July 2016 (4).png

We will discuss on Wednesday, August 24 at 8pm EST. As always, tweet us using #YearofYA during the month, or drop your comments below.

Suggested Reading:

from Tavia: I’d like to suggest one book, which has had a place in my heart ever since I read it in 2015. All American Boys, by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, tells the story of two teens, one black and one white, who are left to deal with the aftermath of a violent incident that divides not only their school and community, but also the country. Violence, whether terrorism, extrajudicial violent acts, school shootings, etc., permeates our culture and with every new tragedy I find myself thinking  enough is enough. In the wake of Alton Sterling and Philando Castille’s deaths, I turned back to the pages of this book for comfort and hope that things will get better and the next victim won’t be a friend, colleague or even one of my students.

from Mollee: I will be reading Tavia’s choice for August! One I recently read that I thought handled grief extremely appropriately and honestly was Tim Federle’s The Great American Whatever. Quinn, the main character, is reeling from a difficult loss while also experiencing every day, teenage challenges like applying for college (or not), first love, embracing his identity… but Federle’s voice maintains this undertone of hope — despite all that Quinn is sorting through (some of it, so so tough), there’s youthful optimism buried deep that life will find a way to go on. {But it’s not hoaxy!}

GoodReads Tragedy in YA List

SLJ Tragedy and Triumph in YA

Quirkbooks: YA that realistically depicts tragedy>> Short list, but I like the preamble to it

Aftermath: How YA Novels Deal With Shootings


#YearofYA Book Chat : An Ember in the Ashes


We’ve been working on a NEW feature for #YearofYA and after lots of chatting, writing, tweeting, and planning…. it’s finally ready to launch!

Our Book Chat has 4 sections:

  1. 30 Second Sell – where we book talk what we’ve read // feel free to use this section as a hook in your own classes to sell the book to YOUR readers
  2. Elaborate – where we dig deep into themes and what made us want to chat about this book specifically. If you have NOT read the book yet, you might want to skip over the “Elaborate” section as we discuss some details about the plot (but don’t give away the ending!!)
  3. Read Alikes – where we share other titles that are related to the theme, structure, etc that you might want to read or recommend to fans of the novel
  4. If you’ve read… answer this – where we pose a question and want YOU to participate in the conversation! Share your thoughts on Twitter using #YearofYA or comment on the blog.

As much as I love to write, we’ll let the video do the:


Please make sure to tweet us about your thoughts using #YearofYA and/or commenting below! Remember, if you’ve READ An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, add to this convo by answering our question at the end of the Book Chat!


Additional Resources about the book & Sabaa Tahir:

BEA video: From 2016 BookCon, where Sabaa talks about both Ember and its sequel, A Torch Against the Night

Huffington Post: Very personal, in-depth facts about how she was inspired to write this novel

Short Kirkus video: Sabaa answers some Qs about Ember

LOC National Book Festival Speech: Great speech; talks of her childhood at the 6min mark

Bookstacked: Interview about both Ember and its sequel, A Torch Against the Night

YAHighway:  great questions about the book and inspiration