Big Blue Marble Bookstore YA Newsletter
August 18, 2014
Contents and comments:

1) Current books and current events: Turns out we're reading rather close to the news just now. Next week's Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, newly out in paperback and set right outside of Philly (in the eastern suburbs where I grew up) deals with depression and suicide (see more below), and September's Flygirl, set in the middle of the last century, deals with race relations, in this case passing for white in order to fly.  Ask a friend to read along, and come join the conversations.

2) New Release: the anthology Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories. See my review below, and keep an eye out for an event this fall!

3) Speaking of events, we've got a number of YA and middle grade events coming up in the next month or so!  Zines, historical fiction, and talking about sex.  More details below.

5) August Promotion: The all-popular Frequent Buyer Card promotion!
Is your frequent buyer card full? Will you fill one in August? Redeem it this month for an extra 5% off, for a total of 25% off a purchase of up to $150! If you're not sure how close you are, ask us!

4) Looking ahead: There's been enough turnover in this group that I think it's time to bring some books back to get new perspectives.  I'd like your help!  Please check out the list of past selections (you'll need to scroll down), and write to let me know whether there are books from last year or before that you'd love to discuss.  Or even books you think are missing from our list. The giveaway from last month is still active, so please send your suggestions!

Stay cool, and keep reading!  

See you soon, 


Thursday, August 28, 2014
7:00 pm
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock
by Matthew Quick

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock cover
The world has been speaking out about suicide and depression this past week, because of Robin Williams' death.  And one thing that is clear is that you never know exactly what is going on in someone's head.  People can tell themselves all sorts of stories about themselves and their place in the world ... and Matthew Quick does quite a job getting into the head space of someone who has had enough bad experiences not to trust his surroundings or his future.  (And as it happens, there are also Lauren Bacall references throughout the book.)  

Leonard Peacock knows his plan.  He's on his way to school on his birthday with a gun, to commit a murder/suicide.  He has thought it through very carefully, as he is careful to tell us.  And first he has some presents to deliver, to people who have meant a lot to him.  People that he hopes will understand that it wasn't -- or won't have been -- their fault.  Maybe he even has a slight hope that they'll figure it out and stop him.
Thursday, September 17, 2014
(3rd Thursday)
7:00 pm 
Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith

Flygirl cover Ida Mae wants to fly.  She's already been denied a pilot's license because she's female.  When the US armed forces announce the Women Airforce Service Pilots program, Ida Mae decides she won't be denied again because she's black.  She's light-skinned enough to pass, so she does. 

Passing for white changes the way people treat her -- old friends, new friends, fellow pilots, family.  And it also changes the way she treats them, sometimes in devastating ways.  So when the war is over, will she be able to bring the parts of her life she loves together?  Or will she have to choose? 
Thursday, October 23, 2014 
7:00 pm
Thirteenth Child 
by Patricia C. Wrede 

In Thirteenth Child, a Western-frontier coming-of-age story meets an alternate-history-with-magic tale!

Thirteenth Child cover
Eff is a twin. Her brother Lan, born just after her, is the seventh son of a seventh son, which everyone knows brings tremendous power. However, everyone also knows  that being the 13th child born into a family is a curse. Or at least nearly everyone in the Eastern city where she was born.  When the family move west, to the eastern shore of the Mammoth River, where the Great Barrier keeps the scary wildlife -- from saber cats and bison to steam dragons and spectral bears -- beyond the western shore, Eff begins to make a new life for herself in a place where no one suspects she might be unlucky or dangerous. No one, that is, but herself.
Upcoming YA/MG Events
Forged in Philadelphia cover
(middle grade)

9/21, Sunday, 2 pm

Author Rebecca Gibby introduces her new Middle-Grade novel "Forged in Philadelphia." Set in the city in 1792, the story follows two young men as they press the boundaries of true independence: Adam, an apprentice blacksmith, and Christian, enslaved to Adam's family.


(ages 14 and up)

9/27-9/28, Saturday-Sunday

Write, Bind, Share: A Weekend Celebration of Zines, featuring top local Zine artists and an afternoon workshop for ages 14+ on how to create, print, and distribute your own zines.


cover, For Goodness Sex
(teens and parents of teens)

10/11, Saturday,  

7 pm

Friends' Central School teacher Al Vernaccio presents his guide for teens and parents on navigating conversations on sex and sexuality, For Goodness Sex.


Here's a link from Al Vernaccio's blog that I particularly like.

Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories, edited by Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios

What do a disabled superhero, a time-traveling Chinese-American figure skater, and a transgender animal shifter have in common? They're all stars of Kaleidoscope stories!

Kaleidoscope collects fun, edgy, meditative, and hopeful YA science fiction and fantasy with diverse leads. These twenty original stories tell of scary futures, magical adventures, and the joys and heartbreaks of teenage life.

Kaleidoscope cover

When the editors entitled this collection Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories, they were not kidding around. The book is full of difference -- in race, culture, gender, sexuality, ability, mobility, physical and mental health, and economic status (not to mention species and style of magic) -- and one of the most notable things is that it's not the purview of the protagonist alone but woven into the fabric of each story. The diversity is so thick on the ground here that it's like walking through an Alison Bechdel comic strip -- or like walking through Mt. Airy. I confess to a fond partiality for "Signature," by Faith Mudge, set in a small indie bookshop in Queensland, Australia. The story starts out so full of cozy and familiar detail that I had to remind myself partway through that there would be fantasy coming!


There is also geographic diversity, though that's partly because the book is a multinational effort, with even the editors working together from opposite hemispheres. There are two Philly-area authors in the mix, whom we're hoping to bring to the store in the fall. "Krishna Blue" by Shveta Thakrar is filled with colors so vivid you can taste them, while Eugene Myers' "Kiss and Kiss and Kiss and Tell" delves into possible futures, drug interactions, and kissing games. Shveta and Eugene have both visited before, and we're looking forward to seeing them here again!


Some other favorites of mine:

"Cookie Cutter Superhero" by Tansy Rayner Roberts - Joey must leave school to become a superhero, and everything in her life will change. Well...maybe not quite everything.

"Vanilla" by Dirk Flinthart - A fascinating and sweet look at immigration and assimilation, and the meaning of friendship.

"Careful Magic" - Imagine being the only declared (and highly skilled) Order worker in a high school full of Chaos. Yeah, it's like that.


I read the stories in order, and I found the writing consistently engaging and compelling.  As I scroll through the list of titles I keep seeing more and more stories I really enjoyed. So many different kinds of stories, so many different kinds of difference! Rather than try to describe them all, I will offer a list of odd pairings I noticed as I read through.  I was entertained to discover that the highly disparate collection nonetheless contains...


2 lotteries

2 love spells

2 vampires

2 cosmic bridges

2 unpredictable machines

2 sets of daily protection rituals

2 interactions with alien species

2 strange types of four-legged animals

and 2 characters with veterinary interests.


Good luck with your own explorations! Kaleidoscope offers a wild ride to places both enticingly new and comfortingly familiar, and it's a great addition to the worlds of both YA and SFF.

Big Blue Young Adult Book Discussion

For adults who read YA and teens who like to talk about books

Please join us on the fourth Thursday of the month (with some exceptions) for the Big Blue Young Adult Book Discussion, led by Jen Sheffield.  The young adult genre refers to the books under discussion; readers of all ages are welcome.  The books do not have to be big or blue, though that's always nice.

You can purchase the current month's and next month's selections at a 10% discount!

For a list of past selections, check out the Book Clubs page on the Big Blue Marble website.