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June 27, 2014

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Fireworks + Literary Works = a Teenreads Independence Day

Hi Teenreaders,

I love all of the traditional ways to celebrate Independence Day --- barbeques, fireworks (especially the kinds that look like gold glitter and make crackling noises as they fall), friends, lawn games if you’re lucky, swimming if you’re extra lucky, canoeing if you’re extra, extra lucky…you get the picture.

But I was thinking, there must be some literary ways to celebrate this beloved summer holiday, and I don’t mean reading the Declaration of Independence (although you certainly can, if you’d like). Here is a list I came up with --- if you can think of more, be sure to email me at or tweet to @Teenreads.

- Visit an independent bookstore: While there is nothing wrong with chain bookstores or online retailers, independent bookstores occupy a special, inimitable place in the literary world (and I’m not just saying this because I used to work at one --- shout-out to The Curious George Store, formally Curious George & Friends, in Cambridge, MA!). The people who own and work in these businesses live and breathe books. They know about what’s on their shelves, they know their loyal customers and nothing makes them happier than putting the right book in the right hands at the right time. There are a lot of cheesy-but-true idioms about books out there (books can change your life, books are the keys to the wider world), and independent bookstores are the places to find what those books are, for you.

As a sidenote, if you are traveling this summer, look to see if there is an independent bookstore in that location --- many feature titles from local authors and books about the place itself that may be hard to find elsewhere. And if your travels take you to Mystic, Connecticut, make sure to visit Bank Square Books --- we'll feature a REAL TALK publishing interview with the owner, Annie Philbrick, in a couple of weeks!

- Read a book from an independent publisher: There are certain publishers that everyone has heard of: they’re big, they publish many books a year and they’re responsible for a lot of the prized novels on your shelves. However, there are lots of smaller, independent publishers out there that publish amazing books that you might have to search a bit more to find. Just because you haven’t heard of something, or there aren’t as many copies being sold, doesn’t mean the book is something you want to overlook. So ask your bookseller or librarian to recommend something from an independent house like Candlewick, Soho Teen, Holiday House or Month9 Books, or from a small house represented by a distributor like iPg or PGW. There are many passionate people publishing books across the country, and you will be pleasantly surprised to see the cool, indie stories they’re working with!

- Do some independent reading: You’re assigned a lot of reading in school, and even on summer break. While these books are assigned for a reason, and plenty of them are incredibly well-written and teach important lessons, it doesn’t mean that they’ll necessarily speak to you. So put down THE SCARLET LETTER for a minute (no offense, Nathaniel Hawthorne) and grab that graphic novel you’ve been eyeing but don’t have a “reason” to explore. Delve into that perfect “beach read,” revisit your favorite series or pull that intriguing Roman history book off your dad’s shelf even though it’s way too “advanced” for your social studies class. Assigned books have their moments, but the beauty of books is that the right one can introduce you to a new character, society or idea that can shape the way you view the world --- don’t let someone else dictate that choice for you.

So, sorry to get all preachy, but really --- bring the idea of “independence” to your book habits early next month and your upcoming July 4th celebrations will reach a whole new level.

Happy reading!

--- Shara Zaval ('s Eighth Annual Beach Bag Giveaway --- Have YOU Entered Yet?

It's time to think about summer reading --- and we're not talking about the list of books you'll be receiving for Required Summer Reading from school. We're talking about the kinds of books that you're glad you now have time to kick back with and enjoy. The way we see it, it wouldn't be summer without sun, surf and great reading. You supply the beach chair, and we'll provide the fantastic reads in our Eighth Annual Beach Bag of Books Feature and Contest. From now through Friday, July 25th at noon ET, five lucky readers will win a selection of the featured books.

This year's featured Beach Bag of Books titles include (scroll down to read more about each book):

AMITY by Micol Ostow
BRUTAL YOUTH by Anthony Breznican
CATCH A FALLING STAR by Kim Culbertson
THE FASHION BOOK by various editors
THE LOST by Sarah Beth Durst
ON THE FENCE by Kasie West
QUARANTINE #1: The Loners by Lex Thomas
SINNER (Companion book to the Shiver Trilogy series) by Maggie Stiefvater
TABULA RASA by Kristen Lippert-Martin




Click here to enter our Beach Bag of Books Contest!

Giveaway: MY LAST KISS by Bethany Neal

There are tons of books about first kisses, but MY LAST KISS by Bethany Neal explores the opposite --- the last kiss of Cassidy's life, which happened at her 17th birthday party --- and with someone other than her amazing boyfriend. To be one of 15 lucky readers to win a copy of MY LAST KISS, enter the contest by Tuesday, August 5th at noon ET.

More about MY LAST KISS:

Cassidy Haines remembers her first kiss vividly. It was on the old covered bridge the summer before her freshman year with her boyfriend of three years, Ethan Keys. But her last kiss --- the one she shared with someone at her 17th birthday party the night she died --- is a blur. Cassidy is trapped in the living world, not only mourning the loss of her human body, but left with the grim suspicion that her untimely death wasn’t a suicide as everyone assumes. She can’t remember anything from the weeks leading up to her birthday and she’s worried that she may have betrayed her boyfriend. If Cassidy is to uncover the truth about that fateful night and make amends with the only boy she’ll ever love, she must face her past and all the decisions she made --- good and bad --- that led to her last kiss.

Click here to read the excerpt.


Click here to enter the contest!

REAL TALK Publishing with Walter Mayes, School Librarian - Parts 1 and 2

We know you love to read, but have you ever considered working with books as a career? If so, there are tons of options to explore. With this feature, we'll introduce you to book editors, librarians, booksellers, children's literature professors, book cover designers, publicists, professional reviewers and more. Through interviews, guest posts and sometimes sneak peeks inside their offices, we'll take you into their worlds so you can learn about the book industry.

Walter Mayes has had a lot of book jobs --- he’s worked in a bookstore, at a publishing company and as “Walter the Giant Storyteller” (he’s 6’ 7 1/2’’ tall). For the past 13 years, though, he’s been a school librarian at the Girls' Middle School in Palo Alto, California.

We just posted his REAL TALK Publishing interview, where he talks about what makes his library unique, shares a particularly memorable interaction with a student and explains why listening is actually one of the most important parts of his job.

Click here to read Part 1 of his interview!
Click here to read Part 2 of his interview!


Side by Side: Dangerous Waters

Reading in the sand, splashing your siblings in the ocean, devouring an ice cream cone before it melts…the beach can be so pleasant! But as authors Kat Rosenfield, Michael Northrop and Nichola Reilly know, it can also be a dangerous, dark and terrifying place.

For this month’s side-by-side, we wanted to add some scare to your summer by focusing on books with a “dangerous waters” theme. In Kat Rosenfield’s thriller INLAND, Callie’s mother drowned in the ocean, and now she’s feeling the magnetic pull towards Florida’s chilly waters, too. In SURROUNDED BY SHARKS by Michael Northrop, Davey gets caught in a rip tide while on vacation and ends up surrounded by water…and something even more terrifying. And in DROWNED by Nichola Reilly, Coe lives on the Island of Tides, where the land all but disappears during high tide, and there’s an ever-growing danger that it will get swallowed by the ocean for good.

Read our feature to hear Kat, Michael and Nichola talk about the coolest underwater creatures, their favorite ocean memories and how they’d spend a beach day with the protagonists of their books.


Click here to read the Side by Side feature!

Teen Board

Thanks to everyone who applied to join the July-December 2014 Teen Board! For those of you who made it to round two --- you will hear from us today about whether you made it, or not! This decision has been are all so smart and enthusiastic!

And of course, we can't forget to mention what our CURRENT Teen Board is up to!

--- Our June Teen Board Question: With THE FAULT IN OUR STARS movie coming out, we asked our Teen Board members which book they would like to see adapted into a movie and why. Answers ranged from FANGIRL, where Aliza M. "would love to see the characters come to life", to DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE, but for Pranshu A., "only if it stayed true to the book." Read all the Teen Board's answers here!

--- Teen Board Blog posts: Alonzo D. taught us how to start a book club, Sara J. came up with some book to movie adaptations she'd like to see, and Rachel B. gave us the inside scoop on Little Free Libraries.

--- Reviews: We have lots of Teen Board reviews this month! Pranshu A. thought CITY OF HEAVENLY FIRE was "packed with action" and Cheritta J. said SURROUNDED BY SHARKS was like "sitting in the first row on the fastest rollercoaster at the carnival."


Click here to meet our current Teen Board!

NEW! Follow us on Tumblr

Teenreads is excited to announce that we recently joined the Tumblrverse! Our Tumblr handle is teenreadsdotcom and you can follow us for posts on all things YA, like interviews, quotes, and YA news. Here are some recent posts and reblogs:

  • This awesome new teaser for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 featuring a surprise guest
  • We found a great way to self-publish books with Powell's Espresso Book Machine
  • Our most recent Real Talk Publishing featuring Walter Mayes, school libararian

And of course, we want to follow YOU, too! Send us your Tumblr handle here and we'll follow you back. We can't wait to see what you post!

Click here to follow our Tumblr!

June's Cool and New Roundup

Our June roundup includes SAY WHAT YOU WILL by Cammie McGovern, which follows the friendship and budding romance between a girl with cerebral palsy and a boy with OCD; RUIN AND RISING, the much-anticipated conclusion of Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy that features Alina as she faces The Darkling one last time; and BREAKING FREE: True Stories of Girls Who Escaped Modern Slavery by Abby Sher, which explores the global issue of human sex trafficking from a survivor's point of view.

Among the paperback titles released this month, we have CHARM & STRANGE by Stephanie Kuehn, the story of a lonely teenager with a troubled past at war with himself; WICKEDPEDIA by Chris Van Etten, a new installment in the Point Horror series that features two boys discover a dark, murderous side to Wikipedia; and STRANGE FRUIT VOLUME 1 by Joel Christian Gill, an anthology of lesser known stories from African American history.


Click here to see June's Cool and New roundup!

Books on Screen

Have you already seen...and perhaps cried your way through...The Fault In Our Stars? Based on John Green's mega-popular bestseller, this is definitely THE film YA fans have flocked to. Not seen it yet? Well whether you've read the book or not, prepare to get a little misty eyed watching the story of Hazel and Gus play out on the big screen. Also in theaters now is the highly anticipated sequel, How to Train Your Dragon 2, based on the series by Cressida Cowell.


Click here to read Books on Screen!

On the Teenreads Blog

Books to Movies - which would YOU like to see?--- Teen Board member Sara J. explains why THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT by Jennifer E. Smith would make a great movie.

How to Start a Book Club --- Teen Board member Alonzo D. gives some great advice on how to start a book club, all while channeling some of your favorite literary characters.

Little Free Library - Straight from the Steward --- Teen Board member Rachel B. talks about her experience being a steward of a Little Free Library in her front yard...and the awesome way she decorated hers.


Click here to read our blog!

Now in Stores: THE THINGS YOU KISS GOODBYE by Leslie Connor

THE THINGS YOU KISS GOODBYE by Leslie Connor (Fiction)

Bettina Vasilis can hardly believe it when star basketball player Brady Cullen convinces her strict father to let them date. That summer, Bettina falls in love with Brady and the freedom that comes along with him. But when school starts up again, Brady unexpectedly changes for the worse. Unable to give up on her first love just yet, she finds herself trapped in an abusive relationship.

Then she meets "Cowboy," a smoldering older guy and the last guy her father would approve. Yet he is everything Brady is not --- gentle, caring and interested in getting to know the real Bettina. When tragedy strikes, Bettina must tell her family the truth --- and kiss goodbye the things she thought she knew about herself and the men in her life.


Click here to read the review!

Now in Stores: THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE by Jennifer Mathieu

THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE by Jennifer Mathieu (Fiction)

Rumor has it Alice Franklin is a slut. It's written all over the "slut stall" in the girls' bathroom: "Alice had sex in exchange for math test answers" and "Alice got an abortion last semester." After Brandon dies, the rumors start to spiral out of control. In this remarkable debut novel, four Healy High students tell all they "know" about Alice --- and in doing so, reveal their own secrets and motivations, painting a raw look at the realities of teen life. But in this novel from Jennifer Mathieu, exactly what is the truth about Alice? In the end there's only one person to ask: Alice herself.



Click here to learn more about the book!

Now in Stores: WHEN MR. DOG BITES by Brian Conaghan

WHEN MR. DOG BITES by Brian Conaghan (Fiction)

All Dylan Mint has ever wanted is to keep his Tourette’s in check and live life as a “normal” teenager. The swearing, the tics, the howling “dog” that escapes when things are at their worst --- nothing about Tourette’s makes it easy to meet cute girls or have normal friends (or many friends at all). But a routine hospital visit changes everything --- Dylan overhears that he's going to die. In an attempt to claim the life he’s always wanted, he decides to grant himself parting wishes, or “Cool Things To Do Before I Cack It”. In an intimate portrayal of life with Tourette’s, Dylan’s journey to come to terms with the disorder that has defined his life and his preconceptions about the world around him is hilarious, painful and ultimately, masterful.


Click here to learn more about the book!

Check Out Our Latest Reviews!
NEW! FAN ART by Sarah Tregay (Fiction)

Jamie Peterson has a problem: Even though he tries to keep his feelings to himself, everyone seems to know how he feels about Mason, and the girls in his art class are determined to help them get together. Telling the truth could ruin Jamie and Mason's friendship, but it could also mean a chance at happiness. Falling in love is easy, except when it's not, and Jamie must decide if coming clean to Mason is worth facing his worst fear. Reviewed by Sydney L, Teen Board Member.

NEW! THE BODY IN THE WOODS by April Henry (Fiction)

Alexis, Nick, and Ruby have very different backgrounds, but when the three teens join Portland County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, they are teamed up to search for an autistic man lost in the woods. What they find instead is a dead body. In a friendship that will be forged in danger, fear and courage, the three team up to find the girl’s killer --- before he can strike one of their own. Reviewed by Charles Payseur.

NEW! DROWNED by Nichola Reilly (Fiction)

Coe is one of the few remaining teenagers on the island of Tides. Deformed and weak, she is constantly reminded that in a world where dry land dwindles at every high tide, she is not welcome. The only bright spot in her harsh and difficult life is the strong, capable Tiam --- but love has long ago been forgotten by her society. The only priority is survival. Reviewed by Rachel B., Teen Board Member.

NEW! DREAMWOOD by Heather Mackey (Fantasy)

Determined to find her father, Lucy and her vexingly stubborn friend Pete follow William Darrington’s trail to the deadly woods on Devil’s Thumb. As they encounter Lupine princesses, giant sea serpents and all manner of terrifying creatures, Lucy hasn’t reckoned that the dreamwood itself might be the greatest threat of all. Reviewed by Lily Philpott.

NEW! CITY OF HEAVENLY FIRE by Cassandra Clare (Fiction)

Darkness has descended on the Shadowhunter world. Chaos and destruction overwhelm the Nephilim as Clary, Jace, Simon and their friends band together to fight the greatest evil they have ever faced: Clary’s own brother. Nothing in this world can defeat Sebastian --- but if they journey to the realm of demons, they just might have a chance. Lives will be lost, love sacrificed and the whole world will change. Reviewed by Pranshu A., Teen Board Member.

NEW! COMPLICIT by Stephanie Kuehn (Fiction)

Two years ago, 16-year-old Jamie Henry breathed a sigh of relief when a judge sentenced his older sister to juvenile detention for burning down their neighbor’s fancy horse barn. The whole town did. Because Crazy Cate Henry used to be a nice girl. Until she did a lot of bad things. Like drinking. And stealing. And lying. Like playing weird mind games in the woods with other children. Like making sure she always got her way. Or else. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

NEW! LOVE AND OTHER FOREIGN WORDS by Erin McCahan (Young Adult Fiction)

Sixteen-year-old Josie lives her life in translation. She speaks High School, College, Friends, Boyfriends, Break-ups and even the language of Beautiful Girls. But none of these is her native tongue --- the only people who speak that are her best friend Stu and her sister Kate. So when Kate gets engaged to an epically insufferable guy, how can Josie see it as anything but the mistake of a lifetime? Kate is determined to bend Josie to her will for the wedding; Josie is determined to break Kate and her fiancé up. As battles are waged over secrets and semantics, Josie is forced to examine her feelings for the boyfriend who says he loves her, the sister she loves but doesn't always like and the best friend who hasn't said a word --- at least not in a language Josie understands. Reviewed by Patrick C., Teen Board Member.

NEW! SURROUNDED BY SHARKS by Michael Northrop (Fiction)

Davey can't wait to slip out of the crammed hotel room he's sharing with his family. As the sparkling ocean entices him, he decides to test the water, never mind that "No Swimming" sign. But as the waves pull him farther from shore, Davey finds himself surrounded by water --- and something else, too. Something circling below the surface, watching, waiting. It's just a matter of time. Reviewed by Cheritta J., Teen Board Member.

NEW! WHILE WE RUN by Karen Healey (Fiction)

After Abdi Taalib meets Tegan Oglietti, his world is turned upside down. Tegan's no ordinary girl --- she died in 2027, and was frozen and brought back 100 years later. Now, all they want is for things to return to normal, but the government has other ideas. On the run, Abdi and Tegan uncover startling details about Australia's cryonics program, and realize that thousands of lives may be in their hands. Reviewed by Charlotte L, Teen Board Member.

NEW! WICKEDPEDIA: Point Horror by Chris Van Etten (Horror)

Cole and Greg love playing practical jokes through Wikipedia. So after the star soccer player steals Cole's girlfriend, the boys take their revenge by creating a Wikipedia page for him, an entry full of outlandish information including details about his bizarre death on the soccer field. It's all in good fun, until the soccer player is killed in a freak accident...just as Cole and Greg predicted. To his horror, Cole soon discovers that someone has created a Wikipedia page for him, and included a date of death. He has one week to figure out who's behind the murders, or else he's set to meet a pretty grisly end. Reviewed by Lexibex V., Teen Board Member.


Vote in Our Poll!

Summer is almost here! Where will you be reading in June, July and August?

  • By the beach/pool—Gotta have somewhere to cool off in between pages.
  • In the library—Love that quiet space and air conditioning.
  • In my favorite place in my house—I’ll go outside… After this chapter.
  • On a plane/train/automobile—Packing at least two books for vacation
  • In the park or some other kind of natural location—Anywhere outside works for me!

Last month, we asked if you planned to see THE FAULT IN OUR STARS movie, and a whopping 48% said that you did and you couldn't wait. 21% were excited even though you hadn't read the book (seriously: read it now!), and 18% were excited but a bit nervous, too. 11% of you haven't read the book and don't care about the movie, and a tiny 2% have read the book but are purposely avoiding the film!

Click here to take our poll!

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