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Late April 2013
April 22, 2013

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April Showers Bring…Cozy Reading Environments!

I have never been a huge fan of rain or any sort of precipitation, for that matter. I’m the sort of person who always finds herself sans umbrella and wearing the wrong type of shoes in the midst of a downpour. I understand that we desperately need rain in order for plants and lawns to flourish and be so beautifully green…but I will never be a person who enjoys a drizzle.

However, throughout the years, I’ve learned to see the silver lining to these rain clouds. Rainy days are great days for reading and hunkering down in a cozy reading environment. I’m sure you all know EXACTLY what I’m talking about. Imagine yourself safe and dry inside your home, sitting next to the window with a book and letting the soothing sound of rain provide the soundtrack to your reading. Lovely! A thunderstorm provides the perfect soundtrack for a thriller or horror novel --- sound effects! See! One of my pet peeves is easily fixed with a book! If you’ve solved any similar quandary with reading, let me know. I’d love to hear it.

GREAT NEWS! We know how much you LOVE our Teen Ultimate Reading List…and we’ve just completed our annual update of it. We included some of our favorites from 2012 and early 2013 and took off a few titles that we think may be a little outdated for your tastes! Check out the Ultimate Reading List here. We’d like to suggest you share this list with your teachers, librarians, media specialists, friends and family for Summer Reading List suggestions. And keep your eyes out next month for Ultimate Genre Lists. We've heard from many of you that you would like this list by genre, and we are working on this feature. You asked, and we listened! Keep those comments coming --- we love to hear them. Some of our best ideas have come from readers!

World Book Night in the USA is tomorrow on April 23rd! Again this year, tens of thousands of people hand out FREE BOOKS to their communities to spread the joy of reading from person to person. The goal is to get those who are not reading --- reading. This is a fantastic event, which is celebrated globally in the U.S., the UK, Ireland and Germany. Some of the YA books being given that we think you would enjoy are LOOKING FOR ALASKA by John Green, THE LIGHTNING THIEF: Percy Jackson & the Olympians by Rick Riordan and FAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury. Check out the World Book Night Facebook page for more information!

Last week, the American Booksellers Association (ABA) announced the winners of the 2013 Indies Choice Awards! THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green won the Young Adult Book of the Year, and John Green also won the Indie Champion Award. The Young Adult Honor Awards were given to CINDER: Book One of the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, COLIN FISCHER by Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz, EVERY DAY by David Levithan, GRAVE MERCY: His Fair Assassin, Book One by Robin LaFevers and SERAPHINA by Rachel Hartman. And on Friday, the Los Angeles Times announced their Book Prizes to launch the L.A. Times Festival of Books. The Young Adult award was given to ASK THE PASSENGERS by A.S. King. If these books aren’t on your to-read list yet, definitely put them on there!

In our reviews this update, we have Aaron Hartzler’s memoir, RAPTURE PRACTICE where he tells his story of growing up in a strict, Christian environment. In it, he details how he came to question the beliefs that he was raised under and came to terms with being different from the son his parents expected him to be. I read this book and highly recommend it to everyone! In my review, I say, “Combining insight into a specific segment of American culture with the universal journey of growing up makes RAPTURE PRACTICE a compelling and inspiring read that everyone will enjoy.”

The contest to win the conclusion to The Jenna Fox Chronicles, FOX FOREVER, ends tomorrow on Tuesday, April 23rd! Five lucky readers will win the follow-up to THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX and THE FOX INHERITANCE in which Locke Jenkins has spent 260 years as a disembodied mind in a little black box, but before he can move on, he must earn the trust of his 17-year-old daughter in order to infiltrate the home of a government official. Does being human require more than flesh and blood? Enter NOW for your chance to win!

The follow-up to GRAVE MERCY, which was just honored by the ABA, is Robin LaFever’s DARK TRIUMPH. The second in the His Fair Assassin trilogy follows Sybella who arrives at the convent’s doorstep, half mad with grief and despair. Because Sybella is naturally skilled in the arts of death and seduction, the convent views her as one of their most dangerous weapons --- but it’s of little comfort when they return her to a life that nearly drove her mad. Our reviewer, Caroline Osborn, explains, “While it may be difficult for new readers of the series to start at book two, readers who loved GRAVE MERCY are sure to find a satisfying sequel in DARK TRIUMPH, and new readers will be converts by the time they get to the third act.” Looks like both GRAVE MERCY and DARK TRIUMPH make exhilarating reads!

Maybe all of these April showers make you want to read something a little creepier. In Cat Winters’ IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS, it’s 1918, and Mary Shelly Black doesn’t believe in ghosts, despite the deadly Spanish influenza and the war making death an everyday occurrence. But she’s forced to rethink her way of looking at life when her first love returns from battle in spirit form. What does he want from her? Sheena Keenan, who LOVES ghost stories, reviews, “Winters entices all five of your senses while you read, and she will urge your sixth sense to emerge as well.” I already have goose bumps!

In light of current events, it’s hard to take in the world’s grim realities. In his novel, DARIUS & TWIG, Walter Dean Myers doesn’t shy away from the reality that sometimes people aren’t able to get what they want. Darius and Twig are best friends, even though Darius is a writer and Twig is a star runner. But together, they try to overcome the obstacles that Harlem throws at them --- will they ever be able to escape their socioeconomic fate? Rebecca Kilberg explains, “Myers doesn’t pretend that the world is perfect --- far from it. In fact, through most of the book it feels as though Darius and Twig are teetering on the edge, only slightly ahead of the danger that pervades their world.”

Our Teen Board continues to be busy writing blogs and reviews! Check out what each member has been up to by viewing their profiles here. Are you impressed with what our Teen Board has accomplished? Are you between the ages of 13-18 and interested in being a Teen Board member? Do you know friends or family who would love this opportunity? We are now accepting applications to be a part of the July-December Teen Board! Opportunities include contributing reviews, writing blog posts, sharing ideas for the site, giving feedback on features we have and scouting trends in your own community. We're looking for a group of diverse teens around the country to be able to weigh in on YA lit and share their opinions on it. Applications close on Friday, May 24th at midnight.

To celebrate the warmer, albeit rainy, weather, we have our Spring Fling Giveaway! Enter to win one of five totes with copies of each of the following books: CITY OF A THOUSAND DOLLS by Miriam Forster, PIVOT POINT by Kasie West, THE SHADOW GIRL by Jennifer Archer, THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater, THIS IS WHAT HAPPY LOOKS LIKE by Jennifer E. Smith, RECONSTRUCTING AMELIA: A Novel by Kimberly McCreight, MOONGLOW by Michael Griffo, UNREMEMBERED by Jessica Brody and THE PROGRAM by Suzanne Young. The deadline for entries is April 30th at noon ET.

This month’s Cool & New roundup includes NINE DAYS by Fred Hiatt, which is based on the true story of an American teenage boy and his friend, a Chinese girl from his Washington, DC-area high school, who must find her father who has been kidnapped --- and they only have nine days ; Walter Dean Myers' DARIUS & TWIG, where an unlikely pair of friends are drawn together in the struggle to overcome the obstacles that Harlem life throws at them; and Jessica Verdi's MY LIFE AFTER NOW, where Lucy has the worst week ever and wants to act out...but when she does, she can't take back the consequences, especially when it's contracting HIV.

Plus, don’t miss Adult Books You Want to Read, reviews that we’ve recently featured on our site for adults,, that we think you'll love, too. This month’s additions are THE GATE THIEF by Orson Scott Card, RECONSTRUCTING AMELIA: A Novel by Kimberly McCreight and ORPHAN TRAIN by Christina Baker Kline.

There’s less than three weeks for you to cast your vote for the Children’s Book Council’s (CBC) Teen Choice Book Award! The five finalists for the 2012 YA books you nominated on are CINDER by Marissa Meyer, CITY OF LOST SOULS by Cassandra Clare, THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green, INSURGENT by Veronica Roth and RAPTURE: A Fallen Novel by Lauren Kate. Thanks again to all of you who nominated your favorite books of 2012, and now it’s time to cast your vote for the winner. And if you vote with us, you can see how other readers have voted --- our voting widget records how all of you are voting. Share this with your friends! Voting ends on May 7th! For more information about the Children’s Choice Book Awards, visit the Children’s Book Week website.

Have you seen all the great links from around the web that we’ve been posting on our social media? Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for not only updates on our features, blogs, but for even more fun YA stuff we find around the web!

Even though I complain about the rain, we all know that this slight April inconvenience make for beautiful flowers in May. Here we hope we are helping you find not just your next great read…but the ones that follows from there as well. We hope that helps you along your reading journey!

Happy reading!

--- Liz Kossnar (
Now in Stores: RAPTURE PRACTICE by Aaron Hartzler

RAPTURE PRACTICE by Aaron Hartzler (Memoir)
In this funny and heartfelt coming of age memoir, debut author Aaron Hartzler recalls his teenage journey to find the person he is without losing the family who loves him. It's a story about losing your faith, finding your place and learning your very own truth --- which is always stranger than fiction. Reviewed by Liz Kossnar.

- Click here for more about the book.

- Click here to read an Author Talk.

Click here to read a review.

Now in Stores: DARK TRIUMPH by Robin LaFevers

DARK TRIUMPH by Robin LaFevers (Action Adventure)
Sybella arrives at the convent’s doorstep, half mad with grief and despair. The convent views Sybella, naturally skilled in the arts of both death and seduction, as one of their most dangerous weapons. But those assassin's skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to a life that nearly drove her mad. And while Sybella is a weapon of justice wrought by the god of Death himself, He must give her a reason to live. Reviewed by Caroline Osborn.

- Click here to read more about the book.

Click here to read a review.

Now in Stores: IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS by Cat Winters

IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS by Cat Winters (Paranormal)
In 1918, Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as mourners flock to séances for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. She’s forced to rethink her way of looking at life and death, for her first love --- a boy who died in battle --- returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her? Reviewed by Sheena Kowalski.

- Click here to read more about the book.

Click here to read a review.

Now in Stores: DARIUS & TWIG by Walter Dean Myers

DARIUS & TWIG by Walter Dean Myers (Fiction)
Darius and Twig are an unlikely pair: Darius is a writer whose only escape is his alter ego, a peregrine falcon named Fury, and Twig is a middle-distance runner striving for athletic success. But they are drawn together in the struggle to overcome the obstacles that Harlem life throws at them. Reviewed by Rebecca Kilberg.

- Click here to read more about the book.

Click here to read a review.

Special Feature: FOX FOREVER by Mary E. Pearson

In honor of the third book in the Jenna Fox series, FOX FOREVER --- where Locke Jenkins must earn the trust of his daughter after spending 260 years as a disembodied mind in a black box --- we have a special contest. Five readers will have the opportunity to win a copy of Mary E. Pearson's science fiction thriller. To enter, please fill out this form by Tuesday, April 23rd at noon ET.

FOX FOREVER by Mary E. Pearson (Science Fiction)
After spending 260 years as a disembodied mind in a little black box, Locke Jenkins has a perfect new body. But before he can move on with his unexpected new life, he’ll have to return the Favor he accepted from the Network by infiltrating the home of a government official by gaining the trust of his daughter, 17-year-old Raine. He soon finds himself pulled into the world of the resistance --- and into Raine’s life.

- Click here to read more about the book.

Click here to enter the contest.'s FIRST-EVER Spring Fling Contest! Win Books Packed Up in a Tote Bag! is celebrating the weather warming up and flowers beginning to bloom with the first ever Spring Fling Contest! Between now and Tuesday, April 30th, teens can enter to win a prize package with all the books below in a tote.

Five winners each will receive a selection of books from our list of featured titles, which includes the following:

PIVOT POINT by Kasie West
THE SHADOW GIRL by Jennifer Archer
THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater
RECONSTRUCTING AMELIA: A Novel by Kimberly McCreight
MOONGLOW by Michael Griffo
UNREMEMBERED by Jessica Brody
THE PROGRAM by Suzanne Young
Click here to enter the contest.

The's Ultimate Reading List is Updated!
One of our goals each month is to inspire you to read --- and to keep reading. We have found that required reading lists for school --- especially summer reading lists --- are not exactly inspiring. Thus we have created what we think is the Ultimate Teen Reading List --- over 400 titles that we believe are perfect choices for reading and discussing. Our dream is that schools will use this list to help them make their own for summer reading or, even better, suggest that students just read what they want from this list.

How did we create our list? We compiled entries from readers who weighed in with their selections, and we also asked our staffers for suggestions. Titles range from young adult books to adult books that we think would be enjoyed by teens. As part of our commitment to staying current and keeping on top of the latest trends, we overhauled the entire list in February 2011 and February 2012. Now, another year later, we've updated the feature with books that have released in the past year. They include a mixture of fiction and nonfiction, plus graphic novels and manga titles.

Click here to see our updated Ultimate Reading List for teens.

Author News and Interviews

Here's what we have for you from Author News and Interviews this month:

Interview: Beth Reekles, author of THE KISSING BOOTH
You may have already heard of Beth Reekles, the teen British sensation who won over readers on the platform, Wattpad. At only 17 years old, she earned herself a three-book deal with Random House, a dream come true for so many aspiring authors. We at were lucky enough to be able to ask Beth a few questions about her first book, THE KISSING BOOTH! In this interview, Beth explains how she began writing, offers advice for teens who have writing aspirations and tells us what is coming next from this teen author.

Author Talk: Aaron Hartzler, author of RAPTURE PRACTICE
In this author talk, author Aaron Hartzler discusses his debut novel RAPTURE PRACTICE, his memoir about growing up in a fundamentalist Christian family and beginning to question his identity in high school. Learn how he began writing his memoir, what advice he would give his teenaged self and little hints about what his life has become after high school.

Click here to read Author News and Interviews.

From the Blog

Here is a selection of blog posts we've recently run on!

The Book Report Network's Josh Mallory only recently read all seven of the Harry Potter books despite being around during the book release parties, midnight movie showings and all of the speculative hype back when no one knew what was going to happen. In "Missing the Mania: Reading Harry Potter After the Hype," he writes about what it was like to read the books far after all of his friends did...and how his relationship with the books is different because of it.

Our Teen Board continues to contribute to our blog! Sally T. shares with us a funny YA story in her post, "The Starbucks Incident," Cara S. reminds us that classics deserve a reading in her post, "Give Classics a Chance!" and Kate F. put together a reading list for us in her "Fresh Spring Reads" blog post. And remember, six of the 23 are still participating in the YALSA 2013 Hub Challenge and are checking in each Wednesday in a weekly blog post.

Did you miss reading earlier Teen Board blog posts? Check out a compilation of their favorite book quotes along with a second compilation of favorite quotes. Also make sure to check out our favorites: "In Defense of Cliffhangers," "The Ever-Enjoyable Minor Characters," and "Rural Bookworm."

Click here to visit out blog.

Apply to be on the Teen Board for July-December 2013!

Our first-ever Teen Board began their term in January and have been doing some impressive things for us since then: writing blog posts, writing reviews and providing us general feedback on our features. As their term comes to an end in June, we need to start looking for the NEXT Teen Board: are you interested in participating?

The application to be on the July-December 2013 Teen Board is now live! We are looking around the country for 20-25 teens between the ages of 13 and 18 years old who are passionate about books and committed to contributing to to serve on our Teen Board for a six-month period, from July to December 2013. Opportunities will include contributing reviews, writing blog posts, sharing ideas for the site, giving feedback on features we have, and scouting trends in your own community. You'll be given a Contributor profile on the site, as well as a snazzy certificate of proof of your involvement on the Teen Board. That would look pretty nice on a college application, wouldn't it?

- Click here to meet our current Teen Board.

- Click here to read blog posts written by Teen Board members.
Click here to apply to the Teen Board.

Vote for the 2013 Teen Choice Book Award!

Earlier this year, YOU nominated your five favorite books to become finalists for the 2013 Teen Choice Book Awards! Now here they are.

Vote for the book you want to win the Teen Choice Book of the Year now! Voting ends May 9th.

- CINDER by Marissa Meyer
- CITY OF LOST SOULS by Cassandra Clare
- INSURGENT by Veronica Roth
- RAPTURE: A Fallen Novel by Lauren Kate

For more information on the 6th annual Children and Teen Choice Book Awards, click here.

Cast your vote here.

Other Reviews

REVENGE OF THE NOT-SO-PRETTY GIRL by Carolita Blythe (Historical Fiction)
Faye doesn't mean to hit the old lady she and her friends are mugging. But she does. The old lady might be ancient and wrinkly now. But back in the day, she was as beautiful as they come --- a famous movie star. And everyone knows that pretty and mean always go together. But Faye feels guilty. So she comes back. Slowly, Faye and the old lady form an unlikely friendship, one that pulls Faye out of her life with her abusive mother and destructive "friends" and allows the old lady relief from her loneliness. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

THE MILK OF THE BIRDS by Sylvia Whitman (Fiction)
Nawra lives in Darfur, Sudan, in a camp for refugees displaced by the Janjaweed’s trail of murder and destruction. Nawra cannot read or write, but when a nonprofit organization pairs her with an American donor, Nawra dictates her thank-you letters. K. C. is an American teenager from Richmond, Virginia, who hates anything that smacks of school. But as Nawra pours grief and joy into her letters, she inspires K. C. to see beyond her own struggles. Reviewed by Christine M. Irvin.


Izzy is a hypochondriac with enormous boobs that won't stop growing, a mother with a rare disease who's hiding something, a best friend who appears to have undergone a personality transplant and a date with an out-of-her-league athlete. When she discovers that the people she trusts most are withholding from her the biggest secrets, things are about to get epic --- or is it epidemic? Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

THE SUMMER PRINCE by Alaya Dawn Johnson (Science Fiction)
In the lush city of Palmares Tres, June Costa creates art that's sure to make her legendary --- even more so when she meets Enki, the new Summer King. Together, June and Enki will stage explosive, dramatic projects that Palmares Tres will never forget, adding fuel to a growing rebellion against the government's strict limits. Unfortunately, like Summer Kings before him, Enki is destined to die. Reviewed by Alice Dalyrmple.

BRUISED by Sarah Skilton (Realistic Fiction)
When Imogen, a 16-year-old black belt in Tae Kwon Do, freezes during a holdup at a local diner, the gunman is shot and killed by the police, and she blames herself for his death. Now that her sense of self has been challenged, she must rebuild her life, a process that includes redefining her relationship with her family and navigating first love with the boy who was at the diner with her during the shoot-out. Reviewed by Rachael W., Teen Board member.

DR. BIRD'S ADVICE FOR SAD POETS by Evan Roskos (Fiction)
Sixteen-year-old James Whitman has been yawping (à la Whitman) at his abusive father ever since he kicked his beloved older sister, Jorie, out of the house. James’s painful struggle with anxiety and depression make for a heart-rending read, but his wild, exuberant Whitmanization of the world and keen sense of humor keep this emotionally charged debut novel buoyant. Samantha W., Teen Board member.

CRAP KINGDOM by DC Pierson (Humor)
Tom Parking is the Chosen One, and he's swept off to his now kingdom from Earth. The kingdom totally sucks. When Tom turns down the job of Chosen One, he thinks he's making a smart decision. But when Tom discovers he's been replaced by his best friend, Kyle, who's always been cooler, more athletic and better with girls, Tom wants Crap Kingdom back --- at any cost. Reviewed by Samantha E., Teen Board member.

WHEN LOVE COMES TO TOWN by Tom Lennon (Social Issues)
The year is 1990, and in his hometown of Dublin, Ireland, Neil Byrne plays rugby, keeps up with the in-crowd at his school and is just a regular guy. A guy who's gay. It's a secret he keeps from the wider world as he explores the city at night and struggles to figure out how to reveal his real self --- and to whom. Review by Sally T., Teen Board member.

From Around the Web...

Do you follow us on Facebook or Twitter? If you do, you'll know that we LOVE to share fun, YA-related articles with you from other sources around the web. Pictures of authors' work spaces? The movie trailer to the next YA movie adaptation? List of banned books? Check them out here!

E.L. Konigsburg, 1930–2013 (Publishers Weekly)

10 Celebrities' Favorite Children's Books (Flavorwire)

10 Fabulous YA Book and Show Pairings (Epic Reads)

40 Inspiring Workspaces of the Famously Creative (BuzzFeed)

Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2012 (Galleycat)

Dear Teen Me from author Aaron Hartzler (Dear Teen Me)

This Month's Poll


Which book are you most looking forward to see adapted into a movie this year?

ADMISSION by Jean Hanff Korelitz
BEAUTIFUL CREATURES by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
CARRIE by Stephen King
CATCHING FIRE by Suzanne Collins
CITY OF BONES by Cassandra Clare
EMILY THE STRANGE by Jessica Gruner, Rob Reger and Buzz Parker
THE ENDER'S GAME by Orson Scott Card
FALLEN by Lauren Kate
THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald
THE HOBBIT by J. R. R. Tolkien
THE HOST by Stephenie Meyer
HOW I LIVE NOW by Meg Rosoff
THE LAST APPRENTICE: REVENGE OF THE WITCH by Joseph Delaney and Patrick Arrasmith
SAFE HAVEN by Nicholas Sparks
SEA OF MONSTERS: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book Two by Rick Riordan
WARM BODIES by Isaac Marion

-Click here to answer the poll.

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