Skip to main content

Late January
January 24, 2014

Quick Links to Features on

Getting Introspective with

Earlier this month I rambled on (and on...and on...) about New Year's resolutions, which I feel is only natural --- in January, the mind-set is all, "new year, new you!" But as the days wear on and you start going to the gym way less than you promised, watch yet another episode of "Pretty Little Liars" instead of starting your homework and put off starting the next Great American Novel for tomorrow night, it's time to actually get introspective. Sure, you wanted to be a healthy, non-procrastinating famous author (and a gourmet chef, too!) but who actually are you?

I've been feeling this way, a bit, about and YA literature. At the beginning of this month I was psyched to start working on our new features (and I still am...keep an eye out for the first Side by Side and Career Panel sections in February and early March!), but now I've taken one step back to think about --- what exactly is YA, anyway? Take a look at my blog post here where I weigh in on this topic!

Well, now that my brain hurts from thinking about YA so much in that blog, it's time to actually talk about the books and authors we are excited about! We have some great features on the site in these final days of January.

First, check out our Valentine's Day contest that starts TODAY! This is our third annual Books To Fall In Love With contest, where we give five lucky winners the chance to win FOUR books that would be perfect to snuggle up with on Valentine's Day (along with some other delectable treats...books and chocolate might be my all-time favorite combination).

I know that people have mixed feelings about this holiday --- some only like it if they're in a relationship, others refuse to leave the house, and then there are those who wear all pink and red no matter what, spreading heart-shaped confetti wherever they go. I think I fall somewhere in the middle --- I don't love (pun unintended) it and I don't hate it --- I figure as you think about it as a great excuse to tell people you care about why they're so great, you'll make it through! It's also a great excuse to eat those heart-shaped Junior Mints with the pink not-so-secret vice.

On another IMPORTANT note, especially for those of you who wait til the last minute to do things. You only have until NEXT FRIDAY the 31st to vote for your favorite books of 2013! Whichever five books get the most votes will become the official nominees for CBC's Teen Choice Book of the Year awards, so make sure your top choices make the list! And be sure to have your friends weigh in as well! Spread the word as we want to hear from any many teens as possible.

We're really excited to have a Special Feature about THE PORT CHICAGO 50: Disaster, Mutiny and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin, who is famous for bringing key parts of American History to life in his books, which includes the 2013 Newbery Honor winner BOMB. In THE PORT CHICAGO 50, he talks about a little-discussed civil rights issue from WWII --- an explosion killed 300 black sailors at the Port Chicago Navy base in California, and 244 men refused to return to work until there were safer conditions and they were properly trained. In the end, 50 were charged with mutiny, and the charges haven't been dropped to this day! Read an interview with Steve, a review of the book and an excerpt if you want to learn more about it. We're betting you never heard this story in history class!

Our PHOENIX ISLAND Special Feature is also still live if you haven't seen it yet. Read an interview with John Dixon, a review and an excerpt, and, if you're a fan of the new CBS show "Intelligence", see how the book compares. We keep seeing that "Intelligence" is the #1 new show on CBS, which is exciting since it's based on a book!

I'm also excited about our interview with Marilyn Nelson, whose new poetry collection HOW I DISCOVERED POETRY shines light on the 1950s and her childhood in a beautiful format. This is a great book for any poetry-lovers out there, and a good one to keep in mind for National Poetry Month in April! (So is AND WE STAY by Jenny Hubbard, which I just finished. It's about a girl named Emily who goes to a New England boarding school in the town where Emily Dickinson grew up, and she uses her own poetry --- and Dickinson's --- to overcome a personal tragedy). I'm usually not a big poetry person, but these two definitely have me itching to pick up my pen and try to compose some of my own.

In some other great news, we finally picked our January-June 2014 Teen Board! We have 25 members in all, some from our last Board, and some who are brand new. Learn more about them below and on our site --- we can't wait for them to get started on some great reviews, blog posts and features!

And then there's all the usual good stuff --- reviews, blog posts, He Said/She Said, the poll, Adult Books You Want to Read...make sure to read on for more information.

Talk soon, and have a great weekend! I am headed to the American Library Association's Midwinter Conference in Philadelphia tomorrow where I am planning to see/meet a number of authors. I'll have my report for you in the next newsletter, so stay tuned.

---Shara Zaval ( 3rd Annual "Books to Fall in Love With" Contest and Feature

The countdown to "V Day" is on! And we're spreading the love with our Valentine's Day contest and feature. From now through Tuesday, February 11th, readers will have the chance to win one of our five Valentine's Day prize packages, which includes one copy of each of our featured books and some divine chocolate. Enter from now through Tuesday, February 11th at noon ET for your opportunity to be a lucky (and beloved!) winner. If you're feeling frisky, share with us your all-time book character crush. Don't be shy, we all got 'em! We'll post your literary loves and lusts --- and the five winners --- on Valentine's Day, so be on the lookout!

Our featured Valentine’s Day titles are:

BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver
HISTORICAL HEARTTHROBS: 50 Timeless Crushes from Cleopatra to Camus by Kelly Murphy
INTO THE STILL BLUE by Veronica Rossi
SHIVER by Maggie Stiefvater



Click here to read more about the contest and enter!

Special Feature: THE PORT CHICAGO 50
Although award-winning children's nonfiction author Steve Sheinkin doesn't have an exact recipe when deciding what to write about, he says that he wants the story to be "dramatic and full of tension" and hopefully enlighten readers about a key moment in American history. His earlier works certainly fit the criteria --- he's written about everything from the atomic bomb to Lincoln's grave robbers --- and his latest book, THE PORT CHICAGO 50: Disaster, Mutiny and the Fight for Civil Rights, is no exception. Addressing the prejudice that faced African American soldiers during World War II, this fascinating story follows the events stemming from an explosion at the Port Chicago Navy base --- 300 sailors were killed, and 244 men refused to return to work until conditions improved and 50 were charged with mutiny. In our special feature, you can find an excerpt of the book, a review and an interview with Steve, in which he talks about everything from his work as a filmmaker to the most memorable question a student ever asked him.


On July 17, 1944, a massive explosion rocked the segregated Navy base at Port Chicago, California, killing more than 300 sailors who were at the docks, critically injuring off-duty men in their bunks, and shattering windows up to a mile away. On August 9th, 244 men refused to go back to work until unsafe and unfair conditions at the docks were addressed. When the dust settled, 50 were charged with mutiny, facing decades in jail and even execution.

This is a fascinating story of the prejudice that faced black men and women in America's armed forces during World War II, and a nuanced look at those who gave their lives in service of a country where they lacked the most basic rights.

Click here to read the excerpt
Click here to read the interview
Click here to read the review

Click here to read the special feature!

Special Feature: PHOENIX ISLAND
Being sent to a military-style detention center would be hard enough --- intense physical labor, rigid schedules and hardcore discipline --- but what if that was the least of your worries, because there was something dark and sinister going on in the background? Just ask John Dixon, whose book PHOENIX ISLAND explores this very premise. In our special feature, you can find an excerpt of the book, a review and an interview with John, in which he talks about everything from his personal opinions on boot camps to PHOENIX ISLAND's transformation to the small screen.


First in a trilogy, John Dixon's Survival Series is part "Prison Break," part LORD OF THE FLIES. When 16-year-old boxing champion Carl Freeman is sent to an isolated boot camp for orphans, he’s determined to tough it out, earn a clean record, and get on with his life. Instead, he soon realizes Phoenix Island is actually a Spartan-style mercenary organization turning “throwaway children” into killers, Carl risks everything to save his friends and stop a madman bent on global destruction. But as the prisoners' lives spiral out of their control, so does their grip on humanity, until the lines of "us against them" disappear altogether.

Click here to read the excerpt
Click here to read the interview
Click here to read the review

Click here to read the special feature!

Teen Choice Book of the Year Award --- YOU Get to Choose Who Gets Nominated!

We've been talking about this for a couple of months, but the deadline to vote for your favorite book of 2013 --- and influence the nominees for the Teen Choice Book of the Year award --- is fast approaching! You have until January 31st to vote, so click here and show your favorite novel some love, now!

The Teen Choice Book of the Year award is put on by Children’s Book Council (CBC) and Every Child a Reader (ECAR) every May, and recent winners include THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green, CLOCKWORK PRINCE: The Infernal Devices, Book Two by Cassandra Clare and WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON by John Green and David Levithan.

Happy voting!
Click here to vote for your favorite books of 2013 for the CBC Teen Choice Book of the Year Award!

Interview with Marilyn Nelson, Author of HOW I DISCOVERED POETRY
An award-winning poet, Marilyn Nelson has written and translated more than 24 books and composed poems about a huge number of topics, including historical figures like Emmett Till and George Washington Carver, love, slavery and motherhood. Her latest collection HOW I DISCOVERED POETRY tackles a new theme --- the 1950s, the decade when Marilyn grew up. Comprising 50 poems, this book looks at Marilyn’s childhood but also delves into more universal themes, like the Civil Rights Movement, life for military families and the power of language. In this interview, Marilyn tells Teenreads the wonders of recipes published in 1950s magazines, her favorite poem in the collection and recommended books for teens who want to read poetry for the first time.
Click here to read the full interview!

Welcome to the January - June 2014 Teen Board! is pleased to announce our third Teen Board! In their applications for a position on the Teen Board, these teens have demonstrated their passion for reading and their readiness to share their opinions about books and authors. During their six-month term, they will be writing blogs, contributing book reviews, sharing feedback on and participating in our monthly features.

Click on each Teen Board member's name to visit their Contributor Page where you can read a longer profile and get to know a bit more about them --- we're so excited to have them as part of our team!

Click here to meet the new Teen Board!

Now in Stores - EVERTRUE: An Everneath Novel
EVERTRUE: An Everneath Novel by Brodi Ashton (Youth Fiction, Mystery)

Now that Nikki has rescued Jack, all she wants is to be with him and graduate high school. But Cole tricked Nikki as they journeyed through the labyrinth of the Everneath together, and now she's begun the process of turning into an Everliving herself. Nikki and Jack begin a desperate attempt to reverse the process, using everything they can think of. Even Cole has become an unlikely ally --- but for how long? Nikki needs to feed on Cole to survive, Cole needs Nikki to gain the throne in the Everneath, Jack needs Nikki because she is everything to him --- and, together, they must travel back to the Underworld to undo Nikki's fate and make her mortal once more.

Click here to learn more about the book.
Click here to read the review!

From the Teenreads Blog

A few authors have written some great guest posts on, recently --- check them out!

In thrillers, detectives are always analyzing blood splatter patterns, police officers in the Missing Persons Unit are having urgent meetings and protagonists, "bad guys" and cops alike are shooting guns at the exact right angle. So how do authors, whose typical work attire, as Hannah Jayne writes in her post, "includ[es] slippers and pajama pants" know how to create such believable, detail rich crime scenes? The Writer's Police Academy, of course! In this post, Hannah --- whose new book SEE JANE RUN came out January 1, 2014 --- describes a day in the life of this one-week camp in Greensboro, North Carolina, where authors are transformed into handcuff-wielding, body-searching, tough-as-nails versions of themselves.

Len Vlahos's new book THE SCAR BOYS --- about a severely burned boy who finds solace in his punk rock band --- hits surprisingly close to home. Len was in a punk rock band in high school --- Woofing Cookies --- and eventually dropped out of NYU film school to reunite and tour. In this interview, he talks about how his own experience influenced THE SCAR BOYS, the power of music and some insight into his next project.

RED RISING is an adult book --- it is being published by Del Rey, an adult imprint at Random House on January 28th. However, the protagonist of the book, Darrow, is 16 years old, and author Pierce Brown wrote the book when he was 23. So what makes it adult rather than YA, and should those distinctions even matter? In this article, Pierce talks about growing up, and how many of the issues that affect high school students continue into adult life, making one wonder --- does age even matter?

I also wrote a short post about the meaning of YA, and we'll be putting up some Teen Board posts, soon!

Click here to read our blog!

He Said/She Said: Cover Survey for AVALON and THE WELL'S END Results!

Stereotypically, girl books are pink, have a girl on the cover and FILLED with sickeningly sweet romance. Boy books, on the other hand, are darker, have blood dripping or something more creepy on the cover and there are NO girls to be found. But we all know this isn't true, right? There are books that boys AND girls love!!!'s “He Said/She Said” feature aims to highlight a book each month to discuss its guy and girl appeal. Each month, there is a cover survey to ask YOU what you think of the cover. After that, we reveal the results of the poll along with the reader responses from a Teen Board boy and a Teen Board girl --- but they never saw the cover, title or author's name!

In this newsletter, we have TWO pieces of "He Said/She Said" news for you.

First, we have the results of last month's "He Said/She Said," when we asked you if you thought THE WELL'S END by Seth Fishman looked like a boy book, a girl book or both based on its cover. Out of all of you who answered, 53% said the book looks like it's a book for boys and 47% said it looked like a book for boys AND girls. No one said it looked like a book for girls! Now, read what Patrick and Alex thought about reading the book --- without seeing the title, author's name or cover! Click here for their feedback.

Second, We have the February "He Said/She Said" all ready to go! Do you think AVALON by Mindee Arnett looks like a boy book, a girl book or both based on its cover? Click here to take the survey!


Check Out Our Latest Reviews!

AND WE STAY by Jenny Hubbard (Youth Fiction, Contemporary Fiction)
When high school senior Paul Wagoner walks into his school library with a stolen gun, he threatens his girlfriend Emily Beam, then takes his own life. In the wake of the tragedy, an angry and guilt-ridden Emily is shipped off to boarding school in Amherst, Massachusetts, where she encounters a ghostly presence who shares her name. The spirit of Emily Dickinson and two quirky girls offer helping hands, but it is up to Emily to heal her own damaged self. Reviewed by Ashley Bressingham.

THE DOCTOR AND THE DINOSAURS by Mike Resnick (Horror, Juvenile Fiction)
Beyond a shadow of a doubt, B Smith has decided to live --- and to fight for good as long as possible. However, London is overridden with the brain-eating undead and swarming with human mercenaries whose sense of right and wrong dissolved when society did. When they lay a trap, B is captured. And it'll take dozens of battles --- and the fight of a lifetime --- to escape. Reviewed by Sheena Kowalski.

ENTANGLED by Amy Rose Capetta (Science Fiction, Young Adult 14+)
Seventeen-year-old Cade is a fierce survivor, solo in the universe with her cherry-red guitar. Or so she thought. Her world shakes apart when a hologram named Mr. Niven tells her she was created in a lab in the year 3112, then entangled at a subatomic level with a boy named Xan. And once Cade discovers the wild joy of real connection, there’s no turning back. Reviewed by Pranshu A., Teen Board member.

UNINVITED by Sophie Jordan (Dystopian, Youth Fiction)
Davy had everything --- a terrific boyfriend, the homecoming crown, a bright future at Juilliard --- but when her genetic tests brand her as a killer, she loses it all. Uninvited from her prestigious school and avoided by her friends and family, she is placed in a special class with other "carriers" who are treated like the murderers they someday might become. Reviewed by Ashley Bressingham.

FIRST LOVE by James Patterson and Emily Raymond (Contemporary Romance)
Axi Moore is a "good girl": She studies hard, stays out of the spotlight, and doesn't tell anyone that what she really wants is to run away from it all. The only person she can tell is her best friend, Robinson --- who she also happens to be madly in love with. When Axi impulsively invites Robinson to come with her on an unplanned cross-country road trip, she breaks the rules for the first time in her life. But the adventure quickly turns from carefree to out-of-control. Reviewed by Molly Horan.

INDEPENDENT STUDY: The Testing Book Two by Joelle Charbonneau (Dystopian Fiction, Young Adult 12+)
In the second book of The Testing series, Cia is a freshman at the University in Tosu City. Though the government has tried to erase her memory of the brutal horrors of The Testing, Cia remembers. Her attempts to expose the ugly truth behind the government’s murderous programs put her --- and her loved ones --- in a world of danger. But the future of the Commonwealth depends on her. Reviewed by Amy Alessio.

FRAGILE SPIRITS by Mary Lindsey (Fantasy, Young Adult 12+)
Paul has always followed the Protector's rule book, preparing diligently for the day when he'd help spirits lingering after death find peace. Vivienne never does what she's told. So when Paul is matched with Vivienne, they both find the pairing less than satisfactory. But a kidnapping, a malevolent spirit and a power stronger than both of them may just prove that they are two halves of the same whole. Reviewed by Molly Horan.

CRUEL BEAUTY by Sophie Jordan (Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult 14+)
Betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom, Nyx has always known her fate was to marry him, kill him and free her people from his tyranny. But on her 17th birthday, when she moves into his castle high on the kingdom's mountaintop, nothing is as she expected --- particularly her charming and beguiling new husband. Nyx knows she must save her homeland at all costs, yet she can't resist the pull of her sworn enemy --- who's gotten in her way by stealing her heart. Reviewed by Sabrina Abballe.

THE SCAR BOYS by Len Vlahos (Social issues, Young Adult 14+)
To describe himself in his college application essay, Harry Jones goes way beyond the word limit. The first defining moment: neighborhood goons tied him to a tree during a lightning storm and the tree was struck, badly burning Harry. The second defining moment: the charismatic Johnny suggested that they start a band. Harry found something that compelled people to look beyond his physical appearance. Reviewed by Caroline Osborn.

BULLYING UNDER ATTACK: True Stories Written by Teen Victims, Bullies & Bystanders edited by Stephanie H. Meyer, John Meyer, Emily Sperber and Heather Alexander (Social Commentary, Teen Anthology, Nonfiction)
BULLYING UNDER ATTACK is an eye-opening anthology of all three players in the bullying cycle. These conversational essays on life as the bullied, the bully, and the bystander provide insight and inspiration for change. Rather than offer a cumbersome psychological breakdown, this graceful and hard-hitting book places the reader firmly in the shoes of all involved. Reviewed by Anita Lock.

ZOM-B GLADIATOR by Darren Shan (Horror, Juvenile Fiction)
Beyond a shadow of a doubt, B Smith has decided to live --- and to fight for good as long as possible. However, London is overridden with the brain-eating undead and swarming with human mercenaries whose sense of right and wrong dissolved when society did. When they lay a trap, B is captured. And it'll take dozens of battles --- and the fight of a lifetime --- to escape. Reviewed by Sheena Kowalski.

THE DUMBEST IDEA EVER by Jimmy Gownley (Teen, Tween, Memoir)
Jimmy Gownley returns with a graphic novel memoir about the "dumb" idea that changed his life forever! What if the dumbest idea ever turned your life upside down? Reviewed by John Hogan.


This Month's Poll

This is the time of year for New Year's resolutions! Did any of these make your list? (Check all that apply!)

  • Read books from a genre you don't normally read
  • Read more books, period!
  • Find more time each day for reading for pleasure
  • Keep a list of the books that you have read
  • Join (or start) a book club
  • Volunteer at a library
  • Volunteer at a literacy nonprofit
  • Go to more book-related events (author talks, etc)
  • Do more personal writing

And for the results of last month's poll, click here! We asked you to compare your year to a book, and the book with the most votes (24%) was OUT OF MY MIND by Sharon Draper --- "you spent a lot of time feeling like an outsider in 2013." Number two was ALLEGIANT by Veronica Roth --- "2013 was dark and dismal...thank goodness 2014 is just around the corner!" Yikes! Luckily it's a new year, and we wish you all the very best.


Click here to answer the poll!

Adult Books You Want to Read


Throughout the year, we feature books from, our site for adult readers, that we think will have appeal to teen audiences.

Here are our latest featured titles:

THE DEAD IN THEIR VAULTED ARCHES: A Flavia de Luce Novel by Alan Bradley (Historical Fiction, Mystery)
Eleven-year-old chemist and aspiring detective Flavia de Luce gathers with her family at the railway station, awaiting the return of her long-lost mother. Yet upon the train’s arrival, Flavia is approached by a stranger who whispers a cryptic message into her ear. Moments later he is dead, mysteriously pushed under the train by someone in the crowd. Who was this man, what did his words mean, and why were they intended for Flavia?

THE PRIORITY LIST: A Teacher's Final Quest to Discover Life's Greatest Lessons by David Menasche (Memoir, Nonfiction)
When a six-year battle with brain cancer ultimately stole his vision, memory, mobility and ability to continue teaching, David Menasche turned to Facebook with an audacious plan: a journey across America in hopes of seeing firsthand how his kids were faring in life. Had he made a difference? Within 48 hours of posting, former students in more than 50 cities replied with offers of support and shelter.

Click here to visit our Adult Books You Want to Read feature!

connect with us twitterfacebook