Coming Up This Year

Inkyard Press (Harlequin Teen rebranded) seems to be willing to take some risks. Rebel Girls by Elizabeth Keenan is due out in 2019, and is definitely on my to-read list. I’ve heard it is set in the 1990s.

Here’s what it’s about:

A rumour is spreading in Baton Rouge. Helen Graves, the freshman that leads her Catholic school’s Pro-Life Alliance… had an abortion.

When it comes to being social, Athena Graves, Helen’s older, punk-rock sister, is far more comfortable writing down a mixtape playlist than she is talking to cute boys, or anyone for that matter.

So when someone starts this malicious rumour about her popular, pretty, pro-life sister… she has to summon all her strength to push through her social fears, and become the champion Helen needs, even if she doesn’t want one.

Athena and her radical feminist riot grrrl friends come together despite their wildly contrasting views, to save Helen’s reputation and rescue her from being expelled… even though their punk-rock protests, with buttons and patches emblazoned with powerful messages, might result in the expulsion of their entire rebel girl gang.

Happy Birthday, Judy Blume.

On classic children’s and young adult author Judy Blume‘s eighty-first birthday, I’d like to remind people of the importance of “controversial” books for teens.

For some young people, these books – that conservative groups try their best to get banned – are the only way they learn about important issues in their lives. Blume’s Forever, published in 1975, taught some teens things they needed to know about sex when their parents and teachers refused to fill in the gaps.

A few years ago, in the ballet world, I came across a group of homeschooled Christian ballet students from America’s Mid-West.

These young teens had been blatantly lied to by their parents, and told that: #1 only gay men could get AIDS, and #2 that AIDS could only be contracted by men having sex with monkeys.

And this is a perfect example of why we need authors like Blume, and why libraries shouldn’t be pressured to ban them.

A side note: dance is possibly the world’s most gay-friendly profession. The parents might have been in for a surprise!

Here’s The Australian Ballet onstage, openly campaigning for marriage equality during curtain calls (before the law was passed):

The Week: 21st – 27th January

canberra summer heatwave sunset australia sonya heaney 20th january 2019

Summer heatwave sunsets in Canberra.

A very scruffy red wattlebird trying to cope with the heat (this bird lives on our back deck), and what it looks like most of the time (second image from Wikipedia).

Rome: City and Empire

In Defence of the Unlikeable Heroine

I Kissed a Rogue (Covent Garden Cubs #3) by Shana Galen

Out Now: All is Fair by Dee Garretson

All is Fair by Dee Garretson

Out Now: Prisoner by Jason Rezaian

prisoner my 544 days in an iranian prison—solitary confinement, a sham trial, high-stakes diplomacy, and the extraordinary efforts it took to get me out by jason rezaian

Australia Day

Out Now: All is Fair by Dee Garretson

All is Fair by Dee Garretson

This one sounds interesting. I’d like to see more young adult historical fiction. People involved in major world events (such as wars) were often very young, so there’s no reason why more books like this couldn’t exist.

All is Fair by Dee Garretson

When Lady Mina Tretheway receives a telegram at boarding school, she doesn’t want to read it. In 1918, with war raging, she dreads telegrams, knowing they never bring good news.

At first she doesn’t understand the cryptic message. Then she realizes it’s written in code, and the message leads her home to Hallington Manor. When Lord Andrew Graham appears with a dashing young American, Lucas Mueller, Mina learns that the two of them must work together on dangerous project for the war effort.

Thinking Mina is just a spoiled aristocrat, Lucas tries to complete the project alone, fearing her inexperience will give them away. But when the project goes very wrong, Mina and Lucas are thrown together to complete the mission before more soldiers disappear into the darkness of war.

 

Kristen Simmons: Mixed Race, Half Enough?

ya author kristen simmons

YA author Kristen Simmons has an interesting article over at Medium:

Mixed Race, Half Enough?

I would also strongly recommend reading the comments in the Twitter discussion.

Simmons is half-Japanese and half European, and she discusses the issues she encounters both in real life, and with people in the book community who think her mixed race characters are either a cop-out or tokenism.

Much of Simmons’ issues come with the fact she’s not considered “Japanese enough”.

A lot of prominent people in publishing and book blogging have a lot of opinions about the representations of culture and race in books, and – more often than not – I find they’re people who have no experience with what they’re talking about.

Harlequin Teen Rebranded

This week Harlequin Teen – the young adult branch of Harlequin books (obviously) – is being rebranded as Inkyard Press.

Maybe an attempt to attract more diverse readers who are turned off by Harlequin stereotypes…? The stereotypes frustrate me, but I kind of understand if that’s the case.

There are some interesting books in this line due out next year, covering the kind of topics that wouldn’t be accepted by other Harlequin lines (e.g. abortion).

Harlequin Teen Becomes Inkyard Press++

The Week: 22nd – 28th October

White Spring Flowers Blue Sky Canberra Australia 25th October 2018 Sonya Heaney Sunshine Garden Nature

Spring sunshine – and a spring sunset – in Canberra.

Only days to go before I fly to China!

A Book for the Anniversary: Goodbye for Now by M.J. Hollows

Goodbye for Now by M.J. Hollows

Babies in Young Adult Fiction

Revisiting Madeline Hunter

A Devil of a Duke (2018) (The second book in the Decadent Dukes Society series) A novel by Madeline Hunter

Out Now: A Stage Full of Shakespeare Stories by Angela McAllister (author) and Alice Lindstrom (illustrator)

A Stage Full of Shakespeare Stories By (author) Angela McAllister Illustrated by Alice Lindstrom

On this day: British women prepare for invasion

The_British_Army_in_the_United_Kingdom_1939-45_Second World War Two 23rd October 1941 Women of Britains Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) operate a rangefinder during anti-aircraft

On this day 80 years ago

Babies in Young Adult Fiction

I was going to write some serious essay on the topic these tweets address, but I don’t think I need to. I’ve had multiple young adult stories ruined by the author rushing their adolescent characters into marriage and babies (and, in the case of more conservative books, marrying off characters in their teens so it’s “okay” for them to have sex!).

Maybe I’m weird, but never once as a teenager – not ever – did I want my teen heroines impregnated in the name of “romance”!

Twitter Conversation Link

Pregnancy in Young Adult Books Victoria Graveyard

Pregnancy in Young Adult Books PC Cast

Pregnancy in Young Adult and Romance Books M L Sparrow

Judy Blume on the Big Screen

Are You There God It's Me Mrgaret by Judy Blume

It was announced a couple of days ago that Judy Blume’s 1970 book Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is finally being turned into a movie.

You can read more about it HERE.

Here’s what the book is about:

“Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” No one ever told Margaret Simon that eleven-going-on- twelve would be such a hard age. When her family moves to New Jersey, she has to adjust to life in the suburbs, a different school, and a whole new group of friends. Margaret knows she needs someone to talk to about growing up-and it’s not long before she’s found a solution.

“Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret. I can’t wait until two o’clock God. That’s when our dance starts. Do you think I’ll get Philip Leroy for a partner? It’s not so much that I like him as a person God, but as a boy he’s very handsome. And I’d love to dance with him… just once or twice. Thank you God.

 

 

Book Feature: My Real Name is Hanna by Tara Lynn Masih

My Real Name is Hanna by Tara Lynn Masih

Ukraine is basically the forgotten country of the twentieth century. Before the Second World War arrived on its doorstep it had already suffered a genocide at Stalin’s hands that killed at least as many as the Holocaust. More people died on Ukrainian soil than anywhere else in the war, leading to historians calling Ukraine the Bloodlands.

My Real Name Is Hanna appears to be well-researched, and I hope to read and review it soon. Of course, it’s going to be a touchy subject for me, as both my mother’s parents were taken prisoner by the Nazis, and my family still lives on Ukrainian land full of WW2 craters.

My Real Name is Hanna by Tara Lynn Masih

Hanna Slivka is on the cusp of fourteen when Hitler’s army crosses the border into Soviet-occupied Ukraine. Soon, the Gestapo closes in, determined to make the shtetele she lives in “free of Jews.” Until the German occupation, Hanna spent her time exploring Kwasova with her younger siblings, admiring the drawings of the handsome Leon Stadnick, and helping her neighbor dye decorative pysanky eggs. But now she, Leon, and their families are forced to flee and hide in the forest outside their shtetele—and then in the dark caves beneath the rolling meadows, rumored to harbor evil spirits. Underground, they battle sickness and starvation, while the hunt continues above. When Hanna’s father disappears, suddenly it’s up to Hanna to find him—and to find a way to keep the rest of her family, and friends, alive.

Sparse, resonant, and lyrical, weaving in tales of Jewish and Ukrainian folklore, My Real Name Is Hanna celebrates the sustaining bonds of family, the beauty of a helping hand, and the tenacity of the human spirit.

Inspired by real Holocaust events, this poignant debut novel is a powerful coming-of-age story that will resonate with fans of The Book Thief and Between Shades of Gray.