We Love YA: Holly

In We love YA!, a fellow YA-lover is featured and is asked to answer the following questions: Why do you love YA? What are some of your favorite YA books? What can you say to encourage other people to read YA? At end of which, readers are requested to recommend books based on the featured person’s answers.

I love that I get to feature some of my favorite bloggers here because of We Love YA. Today, I have Holly of Book Harbinger as a guest. I love Holly’s blog because aside from the fact that we have similar tastes in books, she writes reviews so well. If you haven’t been to her blog, I suggest that you go over there at once and browse through her posts. Holly deserves to have more followers with the way she can succinctly why you should or shouldn’t read a certain book. She has two degrees in art history and works once a week as an assistant librarian at her city library.

Why do you love YA?
Great question. I’ve loved YA for as long as I can remember, even before I knew the label existed. I didn’t read a lot in high school outside of required reading but when I did have some free time and especially in college I started with the YA classics I missed such as L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series and Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass. That’s one reason I love YA because it’s for both the most novice and reluctant readers as well as the more experienced, seasoned readers. It can get non-readers excited to read and former readers started again.

Another reason I read YA is because more than any other genre “anything goes” as far as defying genre and writing original premises. While YA readership includes young and old alike, it’s targeted towards teen-aged readers and many YA authors write with that audience in mind. Young adult readers can be some of the most hard-to-please readers as well as the most open readers. The imaginative possibilities are endless for writers whose audience is less ingrained in their ways and more flexible in their expectations.

And the last and probably most important reason I read and love YA is because of the characters. I connect to well written YA characters just as well if not more than their older counterparts. More than we’d like to admit sometimes all adults have unhealed childhood wounds and lingering teenage insecurities. What a better way to laugh at and understand yourself than through the eyes of a YA protagonist. That combined with the many “firsts” young adults experience makes YA a genre that never fails to excite and compel me.

What are some of your favorite books/series/authors?
Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Looking for Alaska by John Green
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Alexie Sherman

Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner

Fairytale retellings
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

Historical fiction
The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope (also a retelling)

What can you say to encourage other people to read YA?
Like almost any genre out there – from literary fiction to fantasy – there is truly a little something for everyone in YA. It’s just a matter of finding the right subgenre or author. It doesn’t hurt that YA is often more entertaining and page-turning than regular fiction. After all there has to be some way to motivate even the most reluctant young adults to read. 🙂 On the other hand there is so much intelligent, mature YA out there that there are plenty of crossover books to choose from. Just don’t believe in the negative stereotypes and you’ll be fine. Taking recommendations from a knowledgeable librarian, book seller, or blogger doesn’t hurt, either.

Thanks for doing this, Holly! Like you, I started reading more YA when I had free time back in college. I remember I bought The Golden Compass back then and then I bought the sequels when I lined up for the final Harry Potter book. I like the idea of “anything goes” in YA because it really is true. I love how you talked about why it’s so easy to connect with YA characters because I couldn’t really explain why I feel that way.

I have to look up the books that you mentioned and add them to my wishlist. On to recommendations! While I love that you’re a fan of the Queen’s Thief series, I think we should add more fantasy to your list of favorites. I looked up your Goodreads and it seems like you haven’t read the Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix, which is a YA fantasy series about necromancy. My favorite in that series is Sabriel although the latter ones are really good. Have you read any of Tamora Pierce’s books? All of them have strong female protagonists and set in Tortall, a fantasy land ripe with magic. My favorite is the Daughter of the Lioness duology because of the similarities of the main character to Eugenides but I recommend that you start with the Song of the Lioness series, the first of which is Alanna: The First Adventure.

For urban fantasy, I recommend the Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud because the story is mostly narrated by a hilarious djinn. I remember laughing out loud at some of the sections of that book. Still in UF, I loved The Changeover by Margaret Mahy (which I read because it was highly recommended by Sarah Rees Brennan) and I’d love to know what you think of it.

I think that’s it for me, what about you guys, do you have any recommendations for Holly? 🙂

15 thoughts on “We Love YA: Holly

    • I loved both The Goose Girl and Ella Enchanted! Also Beauty but I didn’t recommend that anymore because I know that Holly has read it. I have a copy of The Perilous Gard and it’s already in my “bump up the TBR” shelf in Goodreads.

  1. Oh, and for recommendations: if you haven’t read Beauty by Robin McKinley yet, read it. Also seconding the Alanna series by Tamora Pierce (and I also enjoyed the Immortals series).

  2. Thanks for the recommendations Danya! I’ve read BEAUTY but I’ve heard so many great things about the Alanna series. I must read it soon. I’ve never read anything by Tamora Pierce.

    • I hope you get to read one of Tamora Pierce’s books soon. The Song of the Lioness are pretty short and targeted for younger YA. The Daughter of the Lioness books are meatier because as Tamora Pierce puts it – the Harry Potter books made everyone realize that young adults with read thick books.

  3. I am thinking that I should really try something by Shannon Hale, and I can’t wait to read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Alexie Sherman.

    Holly I loved your last observation about stereotypes because it’s how I feel,…about contemporary ya I highly recommend reading something by Carolyn Mackler “Vegan Virgin Valentine” would be my favorite. I also recommend “Cleopatra’s daughter” by Michelle Moran, this is historical fiction but clearly Moran had a ya target in mind, it’s great

    • Ari, you really should give Shannon Hale a try! I love her books. I found out about Megan Whalen Turner and Sherwood Smith through her blog so I have her to thank for discovering two favorite authors.

      Oh hey, Cleopatra’s Daughter is already in my wishlist. I remember you were the one who recommended it.

    • Emily – Ari? What do you prefer? 🙂

      I think you may like GOOSE GIRL or ENNA BURNING. You may enjoy Hale’s AUSTENLAND too because it’s sort of Austen chick-lit. THE ACTOR AND THE HOUSEWIFE was a very frustrating read for me, though. I would agree that I can’t wait for you to read PART-TIME INDIAN. You must – it’s brilliant.

      I’m excited to check out the Mackler and the Moran – thanks.

  4. I was wondering when you were going to have Holly stop in. I love her list of favorites – and say yes! you should try the Alanna books – they are great. Also, have you read LIFE AS WE KNEW IT? Another dystopian book, books 2 & 3 in the trilogy aren’t much to talk about, but that one is awesome.

    • Thanks Michelle, I will definitely get to the Alanna books as soon as I can.

      Yes, I have read LIFE AS WE KNEW IT. Never wanted to try the others. I really liked it, though I was worried about food storage and stuff for awhile afterward. 😉

    • Michelle, it’s funny that you knew that Holly would eventually make her way here for a We Love YA feature. I’ve seen Life As We Knew It around and I think the cover for that is beautiful.

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