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Late September 2014
September 26, 2014

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"Welcome to Fantasy Island" Panel at Brooklyn Book Festival - Scott Westerfeld, Cara Lynn Shultz, C. J. Farley, and Seth Fishman
"Welcome to Fantasy Island" Panel at Brooklyn Book Festival - Scott Westerfeld, Cara Lynn Shultz, C. J. Farley, and Seth Fishman

Hi Teenreaders!

I know that September is a pretty hectic month in your lives --- waking up early for school, completing piles of homework each night and squeezing in time for friends, extracurricular activities and maybe a pumpkin bar or two.

Well, the book world is no different! In September, tons of great books come out (later in our newsletter you’ll find excellent reviews of ON A CLEAR DAY, SKINK, BEETLE BOY and more), and there are some really cool events and awards! Here is a quick roundup:

1) Banned Books Week: Sure, a lot of people tout reading as something that’s “good for you” --- a way to make more learned, empathetic and worldly citizens. But a surprisingly large amount of them don’t think the simple act of reading --- of finding a book that speaks to you, no matter what it is --- is good enough. It has to be a certain kind of book, one that fits his or her idea of appropriate/correct/”good” content, language and ideas.

Choosing what you want to read based on these standards is perfectly legitimate, but using them to dictate what other people read --- by trying to get them removed from school, library or bookstore shelves --- becomes a problem. What one person considers offensive could change another person’s life.

Banned Books Week has been celebrating the freedom to read and drawing attention to censorship issues in the last week of September since 1982. This year, Banned Books Week runs from September 21st to September 27th and specifically focuses on comics and graphic novels. Learn more about the event and banned books in general with some great articles, infographics and quizzes that we culled throughout the week!

  • Banned Books by the Numbers: The Huffington Post made banned books visible with this super helpful visual breakdown of the most popular banned books in 2013 and the reasons behind them.
  • Celebrity Videos: What’s better than seeing someone you admire talk about their favorite banned book? From Markus Zusak (THE BOOK THIEF) explaining how THE OUTSIDERS by S.E. Hinton made him want to be a writer to Whoopi Goldberg reading one of her favorite Shel Silverstein poems, there’s a wealth of entertainment here.
  • How Scandalous is Your Reading History? Take this Buzzfeed quiz and see how many banned books you’ve read (I got a 38 out of 93!).
  • 10 Great Book to Screen Adaptations: For those of you who can’t get enough of our Books on Screen feature, compiled a list of some of the best banned books to make it to the movie theater. Pass the popcorn!
  • Banned Books blog posts: On her website, writer E. Kristin Anderson dedicates the entire month of September to guest blog posts by authors talking all things banned books. Contributors so far have included William Ritter (JACKABY), Jessica Verday (OF MONSTERS AND MADNESS), Carrie Mesrobian (SEX & VIOLENCE) and more.

2) National Book Awards Long List: The National Book Awards celebrates some of the best fiction, nonfiction, poetry and children’s books written by Americans or published by an American publisher. The long list for the Young People’s Literature category recently came out, and we couldn’t be more excited! Here is a link to the list, and it includes some great ones (including THE IMPOSSIBLE KNIFE OF MEMORY by Laurie Halse Anderson, which I just finished and absolutely adored). We have reviews for many of them on Teenreads, such as THREATENED by Eliot Schrefer, who Norah Piehl said “did a beautiful job of arousing readers’ sympathies for [chimpanzees]” and THE PORT CHICAGO 50 by Steve Sheinkin, who Aimee Rogers said “has a true gift for revealing and sharing historical events that not only allow us to learn more about our past, but to better understand our present.” Be sure to check them out! The finalists will be announced on October 15th, and the winners on November 19th.

3) Brooklyn Book Festival --- One of the premier book fairs in the country and the largest free book event in NYC, the Brooklyn Book Festival took place on September 21st! Some major YA authors --- including Coe Booth, Scott Westerfeld, Adele Griffin and Ann Brashares --- led and participated in panels, and it was pretty much any YA lover’s dream come true. Our intern Rebecca Czochor and Teen Board member Maya B. both attended and blogged about their experiences --- check out their posts here!

Did your town or school have any cool Banned Books Week-themed events, or host any interesting book fairs lately? Let me know at!

Happy reading,

--- Shara Zaval (


Special Feature: NIGHT SKY by Suzanne and Melanie Brockmann

Although Suzanne Brockmann’s latest novel, NIGHT SKY, takes place in the same world as her adult book BORN TO DARKNESS --- a darkly futuristic one where girls are devalued --- it was a very unique writing experience. Not only was it Suzanne’s first foray into YA --- and she’s written 55 books! --- but it’s also the first book she wrote together her 15-year-old daughter, Melanie.

In our Special Feature, Suzanne talks about what it was like to write as part of a mother-daughter team, the inspiration for some of the main characters and powers featured in NIGHT SKY, and what readers can expect from the sequel, WILD SKY.

Click here to read the excerpt of NIGHT SKY.
Click here to read the review of NIGHT SKY.
Click here to read the interview with Suzanne Brockmann.

Click here to read the special feature!

Contest and Special Feature: POSITIVE: A Memoir by Paige Rawl
Paige Rawl has been HIV positive since birth, but growing up, she never felt like her illness defined her. One day in middle school, she disclosed to a friend her HIV-positive status --- and within hours the bullying began. At 15 she found herself facing a bottle of pills, but pulled herself back up and has become a motivation for teens. You can learn more about Paige's inspiring story in our special feature, which includes a review (Teen Board member Cassandra H. said POSITIVE "ignites a compassion-fueled, indignant spark to reach out to those who are hurting "), an excerpt and an interview with Paige. You can also win a copy of POSITIVE --- just enter our contest by Monday, October 20th at noon EST!

Click here to read the excerpt of POSITIVE.
Click here to read the review of POSITIVE.
Click here to read Paige Rawl's guest blog.
Click here to read the interview with Paige Rawl.

Click here to read the special feature and enter the contest!

Giveaway and Special Feature: CONTAMINATED by Em Garner
In anticipation of the release of CONTAMINATED 2: Mercy Mode --- the second in Em Garner's series that follows 17-year-old Velvet after a contaminated diet drink makes consumers act like zombies --- we have a special contest. One hundred readers will win paperback copies of CONTAMINATED --- signed by the author! The deadline for entries is Tuesday, September 30th at noon EST.

Velvet Ellis has struggles to care for her 10-year-old sister and maintain a sense of normalcy, despite brutal government rations and curfews. She goes to the "Kennels" every day searching for her parents, and when she finds her mother, she's eager to bring her home. Sacrificing everything --- her boyfriend, her home, and her job --- Velvet will do anything to protect her mother.

More about CONTAMINATED 2: Mercy Mode:
Velvet, her little sister, their mom, and Velvet's sweet boyfriend, Dillon, are attempting to build a new life amid the rationing and regulations of the post-outbreak nation. But the outbreak isn't over: more people turning into "Connies," more madness erupting, more killings occurring. And what they are being told is not the truth; the truth is far darker and more threatening.

Click here to read the excerpt of CONTAMINATED.
Click here to read the review of CONTAMINATED.
Click here to read the review of CONTAMINATED 2: Mercy Mode.
Click here to read the interview with Em Garner.

Click here to enter the CONTAMINATED contest!

Side by Side: Frosty Reads
The leaves may be just starting to turn in most parts of the country and some of us are still stubbornly clinging on to our t-shirts and shorts, but in the YA book world, things are a whole lot chillier --- by about 50 or 60 degrees.

For this Side by Side, we’re taking the polar plunge and exploring two particularly “frosty reads”: WINTERKILL by Kate A. Boorman and THE WINTER PEOPLE by Rebekah L. Purdy. In WINTERKILL, Emmeline and her community are trapped in their freezing, isolated village because the enemy who killed half of her people lives in the woods just outside. When her dreams urge her into the forest, however, she can’t help but follow. In THE WINTER PEOPLE, Salome has been desperately afraid of winter since she fell into a frozen pond as a child, but when her grandparents leave her in charge of their estate, she learns about an entirely other world --- and an evil that swirls in the snowy backdrop.

Read our Side by Side interviews with Kate and Rebekah to learn the coolest thing they discovered when researching their books and their favorite high school winter memory.

Click here to read the Side by Side feature!

REAL TALK Publishing with May Wuthrich, Audiobook Producer and Director

When May Wuthrich accepted her friend’s advice and listened to the audiobook HATCHET by Gary Paulsen and narrated by Peter Coyote while driving from New York City to the Hamptons, she had no idea that it would launch an entirely new phase of her career. “We were hooked from that first book,” she said. “We were listening on a regular basis, and I got inspired.”

Now, almost eight years later, May is an experienced audiobook producer and director, working on books by such acclaimed authors as Rick Riordan, Jacqueline Woodson, Azar Nafisi and Mary Oliver.

We posted all three parts of her REAL TALK Publishing interview over the past month, where she discusses the start of her audiobook career, her mentors and how she prepares for recording sessions.

Click here to read Part 1.
Click here to read Part 2.
Click here to read Part 3.

Also, be sure to check out our blog post, where we write about what it was like to sit in on one of May's recording sessions --- she was directing Mozhan Marnò, who was narrating Azar Nafisi's latest book, THE REPUBLIC OF IMAGINATION!

Congratulations to Our Back to School Book Bag Contest Winners!
Thanks to everyone who entered our Back to School Book Bag Contest! Here are the five winners:

Kerren from Austin, TX
Melissa from Slidell, LA
Molly from Eaton, IN
Paula from Norfolk, VA
Sarah from Plantation, FL

Here are the titles that our winners received:

A DIFFERENT ME by Deborah Blumenthal
THE FASHION BOOK by various editors
GHOST HOUSE by Alexandra Adornetto
LET'S GET LOST by Adi Alsaid
THE OPPOSITE OF LOVE by Sarah Lynn Scheerger
THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Stiefvater
YOLO (The Internet Girls) by Lauren Myracle

Teen Board

--- Our September Teen Board Question: School is starting up again, and you know what that means --- assigned reading! People might complain about not getting to choose what they read, but often teachers pick books that are truly terrific. We asked our Teen Board members: What is one book you read in class and thoroughly enjoyed? Alison S. chose THE GIVER by Lois Lowry for its versatility, and Rachel D. chose THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME by Mark Haddon because "the book was full of life and thoroughly entertaining."

--- Reviews: We had lots of teen reviews this month! Emily P. recommends HUNT FOR THE BAMBOO RAT by Graham Salisbury: "For anyone looking for an interesting take on World War II, an intense novel of survival or just a good read." Pranshu A. reviewed JUST CALL MY NAME by Holly Goldberg Sloan and said, "It felt like you were in the book itself, experiencing everything the characters were going through right along with them!"


Click here to meet the Teen Board!

On the Teenreads Blog!

Brooklyn Book Festival - Post 1 --- intern Rebecca Czochor got to go to the Brooklyn Book Festival and broke down three of the YA panels.

Brooklyn Book Festival - Post 2 --- Teen Board Member Maya B. went to the Brooklyn Book Festival and talked about her favorite panel of the day.

Meeting Authors Sarah J. Maas, Susan Dennard and Erica O'Rourke --- Teen Board Member Kate F. got a chance to meet three of her favorite authors.

Click here to read our blog!

Now in Stores: SKINK--No Surrender by Carl Hiaasen

SKINK--No Surrender by Carl Hiaasen (Fiction)

The #1 New York Times bestselling author Carl Hiaasen serves up his unique brand of swamp-justice in SKINK—No Surrender.

Classic Malley --- to avoid being shipped off to boarding school, she takes off with some guy she met online. Poor Richard --- he knows his cousin’s in trouble before she does. Wild Skink --- he’s a ragged, one-eyed ex-governor of Florida, and enough of a renegade to think he can track Malley down. With Richard riding shotgun, the unlikely pair scour the state, undaunted by blinding storms, crazed pigs, flying bullets and giant gators.

Carl Hiaasen first introduced readers to Skink more than 25 years ago in DOUBLE WHAMMY, and he quickly became Hiaasen’s most iconic and beloved character, appearing in six novels to date. Both teens and adults will be thrilled to catch sight of the elusive “captain” as he finds hilariously satisfying ways to stop internet predators, turtle-egg poachers and lowlife litterbugs in their tracks. With Skink at the wheel, the search for a missing girl is both nail-bitingly tense and laugh-out-loud funny.


Click here to read the review!

Now in Stores: THE INFINITE SEA by Rick Yancey

THE INFINITE SEA by Rick Yancey (Fiction)

How do you rid the Earth of seven billion humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.

Surviving the first four waves was nearly impossible. Now Cassie Sullivan finds herself in a new world, a world in which the fundamental trust that binds us together is gone. As the fifth Wave rolls across the landscape, Cassie, Ben and Ringer are forced to confront the Others’ ultimate goal: the extermination of the human race.

Cassie and her friends haven’t seen the depths to which the Others will sink, nor have the Others seen the heights to which humanity will rise, in the ultimate battle between life and death, hope and despair, love and hate.


Click here to learn more about the book!

September's Cool and New Roundup

Our September roundup includes ON A CLEAR DAY, the final novel by Walter Dean Myers, which tells the story of a group of diverse teens who must wage war against the powerful elite; THE JEWEL by Amy Ewing, the dark tale of a servant girl learning the brutal truth about her employer; and EGG & SPOON by Gregory Maguire, the richly layered story of two Russian girls and an adventure that weaves in Russian folklore.

Among the paperback titles released this month, we have the second book in Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series, CROWN OF MIDNIGHT; INSIDE CHARLIE’S CHOCOLATE FACTORY by Lucy Mangan, the true story behind Roald Dahl’s classic; and IF YOU COULD BE MINE by Sara Farizan, the story of two Iranian girls in love, and the lengths they go to stay together.


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

Check Out Our Latest Reviews!

NEW! BEETLE BOY by Margaret Willey (Fiction)

When he was seven, Charlie Porter never intended to become the world's youngest published author. He just wanted his father to stop crying. So he told him a story about a talking beetle --- a dumb little story his mother made up to make him feel better. (That was before she left and feeling "better" became impossible.) But Charlie's story not only made his father stop crying. It made him start planning. The story became a book, and then it became school events and book festivals, and a beetle costume, and a catchphrase --- "I was born to write!" Reviewed by Rebecca Czochor.

NEW! AFTERWORLDS by Scott Westerfeld (Fiction)

Darcy has put college and everything else on hold to publish her novel, AFTERWORLDS. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she's made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other writers who take her under their wings. Told in alternating chapters is Darcy's novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the 'Afterworld' to survive a terrorist attack. But as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved --- and terrifying --- stories need to be reconciled. Reviewed by Rebecca Munro.

NEW! THE WINTER PEOPLE by Rebekah L. Purdy (Supernatural Fiction)

Salome Montgomery fears winter --- the cold, the snow, the ice, but most of all, the frozen pond she fell through as a child. Haunted by the voices and images of the strange beings that pulled her to safety, she hasn’t forgotten their warning to "stay away." For 11 years, she has avoided the winter woods, the pond, and the darkness that lurks nearby. But when failing health takes her grandparents to Arizona, she is left in charge of maintaining their estate. This includes the "special gifts" that must be left at the back of the property. Reviewed by Alison S., Teen Board Member.

NEW! ON A CLEAR DAY by Walter Dean Myers (Futuristic Fiction)

It is 2035. Teens, armed only with their ideals, must wage war on the power elite.
Dahlia is a Low Gater: a sheep in a storm, struggling to survive completely on her own. The Gaters live in closed safe communities, protected from the Sturmers, mercenary thugs. And the C-8, a consortium of giant companies, control global access to finance, media, food, water and energy resources --- and they are only getting bigger and even more cutthroat. Dahlia, a computer whiz, joins forces with an ex-rocker, an ex-con, a chess prodigy, an ex-athlete and a soldier wannabe. Their goal: to sabotage the C-8. But how will Sayeed, warlord and terrorist, fit into the equation? Reviewed by Anita Lock.

NEW! EYES WIDE OPEN: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines by Paul Fleischman (Nonfiction)

We're living in an Ah-Ha moment. Take 250 years of human ingenuity. Add abundant fossil fuels. The result: a population and lifestyle never before seen. The downsides weren't visible for centuries, but now they are. Suddenly everything needs rethinking --- suburbs, cars, fast food, cheap prices. It's a changed world. Reviewed by Yaira M., Teen Board Member.

NEW! SWAY by Kat Spears (Fiction)

Jesse Alderman, or "Sway," as he’s known, could sell hell to a bishop. He also specializes in getting things people want --- term papers, a date with the prom queen, fake IDs. He has few close friends and he never EVER lets emotions get in the way. But when Ken Foster, captain of the football team, leading candidate for homecoming king, and all-around jerk, hires Jesse to help him win the heart of the angelic Bridget Smalley, Jesse finds himself feeling all sorts of things. Reviewed by Sabrina Abballe.

NEW! HUNT FOR THE BAMBOO RAT by Graham Salisbury (Fiction)

Zenji Watanabe graduates from high school in Hawaii and is recruited into the army as a translator because he speaks perfect Japanese. He is sent to Manila undercover as a civilian to gather information on the Japanese in the Philippines. If they discover his identity, he’ll be executed as a traitor. When captured, he maintains that he is an American civilian despite unthinkable torture. He also survives being lost in the jungle for months. Zenji’s time behind enemy lines is grueling, and his survival is a testament to the strength of the human spirit. Reviewed by Emily P., Teen Board Member.

NEW! JUST CALL MY NAME by Holly Goldberg Sloan (Fiction)

Emily Bell has it all. She's in love with a boy named Sam Border, and his little brother has become part of her family. This summer is destined to be the best time of their lives --- until a charismatic new girl in town sets her sights on Sam. Now Emily finds herself questioning the loyalty of the person she thought she could trust most. Reviewed by Pranshu A., Teen Board Member.

NEW! BE A CHANGEMAKER: How to Start Something that Matters by Laurie Ann Thompson (Nonficiton)

Empower yourself in today’s highly connected, socially conscious world as you learn how to wield your passions, digital tools and the principles of social entrepreneurship to affect real change in your schools, communities and beyond. Reviewed by Emily P., Teen Board Member.

NEW! BLACKBIRD by Anna Carey (Fiction)

From the author of the Eve trilogy comes the breathless story of a girl racing to figure out who she is --- and how to stay alive. When a nameless girl wakes up on the subway tracks, she knows only one thing for sure: people want her dead. Can she find them before they track her down? Reviewed by Christa O., Teen Board Member.

NEW! JACKABY by William Ritter (Historical Fiction)

Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary --- including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. Reviewed by Sabrina Abballe.

NEW! I AM MALALA: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World by Malala Yousafzai and Patricia McCormick (Nonfiction)

Raised in a once-peaceful area of Pakistan transformed by terrorism, Malala was taught to stand up for what she believes. So she fought for her right to be educated. And on October 9, 2012, she nearly lost her life for the cause: She was shot point-blank while riding the bus on her way home from school. Reviewed by Rebecca Czochor.


Vote in Our Poll!

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Last month, we asked you what part of going back to school made you most excited. The overwhelming majority couldn't wait to see your friends again on a daily basis (77%), and just above half of you (52%) seem to be extracurricularly-minded and were itching to get involved in your favorite clubs again. However, you don't seem to be the most athletically-focused bunch --- only 14% are looking forward to cheering on a high school football or basketball game. To see the full results, click here.

Click here to take our 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:

ROOMS by Lauren Oliver (Fiction)

Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family has arrived for their inheritance, but they are not alone. Alice and Sandra, long-dead former residents, linger within the house. The living and dead are each haunted by painful truths. When a new ghost appears, and Richard’s troubled son, Trenton, communicates with her, the spirit and human worlds collide.

TIGERMAN by Nick Harkaway (Fiction)

Sergeant Lester Ferris, who is about to be retired, is serving out his time on the backwater island of Mancreu, a former British colony in legal limbo, belching toxic clouds of waste and facing imminent destruction by an international community concerned for their own safety. The perfect place for Lester is also the perfect location for a multinational array of shady businesses. Meanwhile, he befriends a brilliant, Internet-addled street kid with a comic-book fixation who will need a new home when the island dies.

A DEADLY WANDERING by Matt Richtel (Non-Fiction)

Matt Richtel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the New York Times examines the impact of technology on our lives through the story of Utah college student Reggie Shaw, who killed two scientists while texting and driving. Richtel follows Reggie through the tragedy, the police investigation, his prosecution and, ultimately, his redemption. In the wake of his experience, Reggie has become a leading advocate against “distracted driving.”

Click here for more Adult Books You Want to Read!

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