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Early November
November 14, 2014

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Teenreads...or Teenwrites?

Happy November, Teenreaders!

I know that you’re all about reading YA, but I have a small inkling that a fair amount of you are into writing, too. And for those of you who are --- whether it’s YA or adult or children’s literature, realistic fiction or fantasy or action-adventure or stories populated by aliens and circus elephants --- November is your month. Well, technically it’s National Novel Writing Month (or, as it’s frequently called, NaNoWriMo), but you know --- same thing.

So what does this mean, anyway? Well, since it started in 1999 --- with just 21 San Francisco-based participants --- this month-long event invites both experienced and novice writers to pen a 50,000-word novel in just 30 days (and you thought writing a 10-page English paper in a month was tough!). The theory is, the help of a deadline and supportive community --- along with a healthy dose of personal drive and enthusiasm --- can make someone make their wishy-washy “maybe I’ll write a novel some day, some time" goals a reality.

So, to celebrate you ambitious readers who are participating (go you!) and the other writers among you, I gathered a quick round-up of writerly articles, tips and products to help you on your merry way

Music to write to: Some of us like to write in complete silence, and others need the din of a coffee shop or school cafeteria. Others still insist on music…I remember getting yelled at by college roommates for listening to the same song over and over (read: 300 times) as I rattled off research papers (thanks “Under the Cherry Tree” by Telemetry Orchestra and “Decatur, or, Round of Applause for Your Stepmother!” by Sufjan Stevens for getting me through some rough nights!) But if you’re not into that “pretty white noise,” as I used to call it, and want more variety, try some of these ready-made writing playlists. Esquire compiled one, as did the online writing community Litreactor. Additionally, the music website 8tracks features 956 free writing-themed playlists that you can peruse at your leisure (er, speed).

Get inspired: If you’re suffering from writer’s block, lack of self-confidence or writerly anxiety, there are plenty of places to turn. Writer’s Digest, the website for the leading writing magazine of the same name, compiled a list of 72 quotes from greats such as George Orwell, Stephen King and Virginia Woolf. If Ray Bradbury can’t make you feel better, who can? MentalFloss also collected some great writing quotes from YA front-runner John Green, who has dispensed words of wisdom about everything from symbolism to dialogue. And then of course there’s the NaNoWriMo website itself, which is bursting with authors’ inspirational pep talks (including ones from Kami Garcia and Veronica Roth).

Delightful writing gadgets: Honestly, these might be more distracting than helpful, but I couldn’t help but get a little gleeful when searching for these goodies on the internet. There’s this Aqua Pad for when ideas strike you in the shower (when you only have 30 days, there’s no time to spare!) And for those of you carrying your laptop to a local library or coffee shop to pound out some words, you can maintain your literary mindset in transit with one of these conceptual, book-themed totes from Litographs. I’m a big fan of THE GREAT GATSBY and MOBY DICK ones, myself.

Blogs aplenty: This overlaps with inspiration, a bit, but there are plenty of writing-related blogs out there that might help jog your creative juices. One is Writing Forward, which is dedicated to the craft of creative writing and shares tips, exercises, quotes, helpful essays and prompts aplenty. Another less traditional blog is Brain Pickings, where creator Maria Popova collects intriguing nuggets ranging across disciplines, believing that the more we’re exposed to interesting information, the better creatives we will be. There’s also Grammar Girl, which discusses common grammar questions (effect vs. affect, who vs. whom) in an entertaining and accessible way. I know grammar isn’t the main focus in NaNoWriMo, but this could certainly be helpful in later drafts of your work.

At Teenreads, we’re celebrating NaNoWriMo with a blog series by our intern Brianna Robinson, who is participating in the month-long event by writing a contemporary novel set in a small Georgia town about estranged family, secrets and broken people trying to find a way back together. Read her first post here (seven days in) and watch out for more as the month progresses. Do you other writers relate to her struggles and successes?

But don’t worry, we still have plenty of great stuff about the books that are already written this month, too, including some stellar reviews of DEATH COMING UP THE HILL, GRACEFULLY GRAYSON and POISONED APPLES, as well as our Holiday Buncle of Cheer Contest, where you can win eight great books as an early holiday present to yourself.

And then there’s the first two sections of our latest REAL TALK: Publishing with film scout Erin Hennicke, who explains how your favorite books become movies, and a FABULOUS opportunity to enter a contest to become an early reader of a hot 2015 title SEEKER by Arwen Elys Dayton, which comes out this February.

So read on (and write on!),

--- Shara Zaval (

PS: Not only is November NaNoWriMo, but it's also when The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 hits theaters and it's the National Book Awards! I'm going to a pre-screening of the movie and the NBA ceremony next week...I'll be sure to report back in the next Teenreads newslettter!

Sneak Peek: An Early Look Inside a Book. Enter to Win a Pre-Publication Copy of SEEKER by Arwen Elys Daytonand Comment on It!

As the first book in an epic new series, SEEKER follows Quin as she's about to take her Oath and become a Seeker, but the night of the ceremony, she realizes that nothing is what she thought. SEEKER doesn't hit bookstore shelves until February 10th, but we have 50 early reader editions to give away to people who want to preview the book and share their thoughts, which will be published on!

All you have to do is fill out this form by December 1st at noon ET to be considered. We really want to see what you have to say about this book. Sign up if you can to commit to reading and commenting on it (we'll send some questions to get you started) by January 5th, 2015 at noon ET. If you cannot make this commitment, don't worry! More opportunities like this will be available in the months ahead.

More about SEEKER:

For readers of A Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games comes an epic new series. The night Quin Kincaid takes her Oath, she will become what she has trained to be her entire life. She will become a Seeker. This is her legacy, and it is an honor. As a Seeker, Quin will fight beside her two closest companions, Shinobu and John, to protect the weak and the wronged. Together they will stand for light in a shadowy world. And she'll be with the boy she loves --- who's also her best friend. But the night Quin takes her Oath, everything changes. Being a Seeker is not what she thought. Her family is not what she thought. Even the boy she
loves is not who she thought. And now it's too late to walk away.
Click here to apply to be part of our Sneak Peek feature!

Holiday Bundle of Cheer 2014
Here at Teenreads we're kicking off the holiday season with our Holiday Bundle of Cheer Contest and Feature. As our gift to you, we are spotlighting some amazing books. Five lucky readers will win a copy of each featured title to curl up with this holiday season, along with some incredibly festive goodies.

This year's featured titles are:

AFTER by Anna Todd
THE FASHION BOOK by various editors
HOW IT WENT DOWN by Kekla Magoon
MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children) by Ransom Riggs
HOLLOW CITY: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Click here to enter the contest!

REAL TALK Publishing with Erin Hennicke, Film Scout

Some of our favorite movies were books first, from The Hunger Games to The Godfather. But have you ever wondered how that transition happens?

Well, it starts with people like Erin Hennicke --- a film scout at Franklin & Siegal Associates. As Erin explains, it's a film scout's job to "cover the publishing waterfront" in New York City --- reading books and magazines and talking to agents to figure out what might make a great movie, and then reporting back to film studios in Los Angeles.

In the first section of our three-part interview with Erin, she talks about how she became a scout, what she looks for when reading manuscripts and the New York Magazine article that inspired American Gangster.

In the second section, she talks about how she knows if something would make a good movie or TV show, who she'd cast in every movie if she had the choice and her favorite book-to-screen adaptations.

Click here to read Part 1.

Click here to read Part 2.



Side by Side: Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe is famous for writing some of the eeriest poems and stories in English literature, rife with people being buried alive, talking ravens and mysterious detectives. Years later, his works are still frightening readers everywhere --- and inspiring a new generation of authors.

For our latest side-by-side, we talk to Bethany Griffin and Jessica Verday, both of whom based their latest YA novels on one of Poe’s masterpieces. Bethany Griffin reimagines the short story “The Fall of the House of Usher” in the tension-filled THE FALL, which follows a girl named Madeleine who is trapped in a living house that is slowly driving her mad. In OF MONSTERS AND MADNESS, Annabel discovers that her father’s two assistants --- Edgar and Allan --- are in fact two halves of the same person, and that they’re determined to commit the crimes described in Allan’s stories.

Click here to read the special feature!

On the Teenreads Blog!

Retelling Myths and Fairy Tales: Why Bother? --- Author Jen McConnel writes about why fairy tale retellings have grown in popularity, especially when there's a modern spin to them.

National Picture Book Month --- For the month of November, we'll feature a blog each day written by reviewers, editors, authors and Teen Board Members dedicated to our favorite children's books and why they're so incomparable.

NaNoWriMo - Post 1 --- intern Brianna Robinson shared her thoughts on participating in National Novel Writing Month.


Click here to read the Teenreads blog!

Teen Board

--- Our November Teen Board Question: November is the birth month of many famous authors, including Mark Twain, Louisa May Alcott, Robert Louis Stevenson and Neil Gaiman. That’s a pretty star-studded list, and would make for the most interesting party! So we asked our Teen Board members: If you could invite one author to celebrate with you on your birthday, who would it be and why? What would the two of you do? Sydney L. chose Rainbow Rowell because, "she seems to have something about her that just makes you want to be around her." Sara J. said she would like Kurt Vonnegut at her party because "whatever we would have done, it would have been unforgettable. "

--- Reviews: We had loads of reviews this month! Trevor P. reviewed Sean Burcaw's memoir LAUGHING AT MY NIGHTMARE and said, "When Shane revealed his deepest fears and greatest joys, I related to all of it. After reading this satisfying book, I felt like I would enjoy chatting with the author over a cup of coffee. " Kate F. recommends THE GOOD SISTER by Jamie Kain: "Jamie Kain manages to write from all three sisters’ points of view and gives them such distinct voices that you can immediately tell which sister is the narrator in each chapter." And Lynn W. shared that "WATCHED by CJ Lyons puts a dramatic twist on an all too real problem in this day and age."


Click here to meet the Teen Board!

Now in Stores: GRACEFULLY GRAYSON by Ami Polonsky

GRACEFULLY GRAYSON by Ami Polonsky (Young Adult Literature)

Grayson Sender has been holding onto a secret for what seems like forever: "he" is a girl on the inside, stuck in the wrong gender's body. The weight of this secret is crushing, but sharing it would mean facing ridicule, scorn, rejection, or worse. Despite the risks, Grayson's true self itches to break free. Will new strength from an unexpected friendship and a caring teacher's wisdom be enough to help Grayson step into the spotlight she was born to inhabit?

Click here to find out more about the book!


Now in Stores: ATLANTIA by Ally Condie

ATLANTIA by Ally Condie (Young Adult Fiction)

For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamed of the sand and sky Above—of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all Rio’s hopes for the future are shattered when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected choice, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio’s true self—and the powerful siren voice she has long silenced—she has nothing left to lose.Guided by a dangerous and unlikely mentor, Rio formulates a plan that leads to increasingly treacherous questions about her mother’s death, her own destiny, and the corrupted system constructed to govern the Divide between land and sea. Her life and her city depend on Rio to listen to the voices of the past and to speak long-hidden truths.

Click here to find out more about the book!


Now in Stores: SLUMP by Kevin Waltman

SLUMP by Kevin Waltman (Young Adult Fiction)

"Things were supposed to change for sophomore year. Things were supposed to be --- I don't know --- easier somehow. At least with Jasmine. Instead it's more of a struggle than ever. At least last year when she was with Nick Starks I knew where I stood."

Derrick Bowen's sophomore year is a grind. He's been looking forward to the basketball season all summer, but his girlfriend Jasmine leaves him for putting too much focus on basketball. The promise his Marion East basketball team showed at the end of last season isn't materializing. And the sweet jumper D-Bow worked on all summer just isn't falling. When Derrick's father is severely injured in a car crash, Derrick is faced with a new reality where basketball can't be his only priority.

Click here to find out more about the book!

Books on Screen

Hunger Games series fans, rejoice. This November, Mockingjay Part One will be released. Are you ready for the beginning of the end? As you get ready for the movie, recap by reading our MOCKINGJAY review, unless you haven't read it and want to avoid spoilers. And when you're done, here are some fun links to get you in the mood:

--- Get pumped by watching the offical trailer or the first official clip.

--- Where do you think Mockingjay Part One will end? Here are some ideas.

--- Want to borrow Katniss' look? Check out this Katniss braid tutorial here.

--- How well do you know MOCKINGJAY? Test your knowledge here in this quiz.




Click here to read books on screen!

November's Cool and New Roundup

Our November roundup includes THE WALLED CITY by Ryan Graudin, the adrenaline-fueled story of three teens trying to escape their dangerous city that’s no more than a few acres large; UNBROKEN, the new YA adaptation of Laura Hillenbrand’s bestseller, soon to be in theaters; and GRACEFULLY GRAYSON by Ami Polonsky, the moving story of a transgender teen hoping to find acceptance.

Among the paperback titles released this month, we have SAME DIFFERENCE by Siobhan Vivian, the story of a girl trying to find her own identity as she navigates friendship and boys; THE TEEN VOGUE HANDBOOK: The Insiders Guide to Careers in Fashion, a behind-the-scenes look at the fashion industry; and ICHIRO by Ryan Inzana, a graphic novel about a New York City boy who gets tangled up in Japanese mythology.

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

Check Out Our Latest Reviews!

NEW! GABI, A GIRL IN PIECES by Isabel Quintero (Young Adult Fiction)

Gabi Hernandez chronicles her last year in high school in her diary: Cindy's pregnancy, Sebastian's coming out, the cute boys, her father's meth habit and the food she craves. And best of all, the poetry that helps forge her identity. Reviewed by Aliza M., Teen Board Member.

NEW! RHYME SCHEMER by K. A. Holt (Youth Fiction)

Kevin has a bad attitude. He's the one who laughs when you trip and fall. In fact, he may have been the one who tripped you in the first place. He has a real knack for rubbing people the wrong way --- and he's even figured out a secret way to do it with poems. But what happens when the tables are turned and he is the one getting picked on? Rhyme Schemer is a touching and hilarious middle-grade novel in verse about one seventh grader's journey from bully-er to bully-ee, as he learns about friendship, family and the influence that words can have on people's lives. Reviewed by Aimee Rogers.

NEW! THE WITCH'S BOY by Kelly Barnhill (Fiction)

When Ned and his identical twin brother tumble from their raft into a raging, bewitched river, only Ned survives. Villagers are convinced the wrong boy lived. Sure enough, Ned grows up weak and slow, and stays as much as possible within the safe boundaries of his family’s cottage and yard. But when a Bandit King comes to steal the magic that Ned’s mother, a witch, is meant to protect, it's Ned who safeguards the magic and summons the strength to protect his family and community. Reviewed by Rebecca Czochor.

NEW! IN REAL LIFE by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang (Fiction)

Anda loves the role playing game Coarsegold Online, but things become a lot more complicated when Anda befriends a gold farmer --- a poor Chinese kid whose avatar in the game illegally collects valuable objects and then sells them to players from developed countries with money to burn. This behavior is strictly against the rules in Coarsegold, but Anda soon comes to realize that questions of right and wrong are a lot less straightforward when a real person's livelihood is at stake. Reviewed by Charles Payseur.

NEW! POISONED APPLES: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann (Nonfiction)

In 50 poems, Christine Heppermann confronts society head on. Using fairy tale characters and tropes, POISONED APPLES explores how girls are taught to think about themselves, their bodies and their friends. The poems range from contemporary retellings to first-person accounts set within the original tales, and from deadly funny to deadly serious. Reviewed by Charles Payseur.

NEW! THE YEAR OF THE RAT by Clare Furniss (Young Adult Fiction)

Pearl's baby sister is The Rat. She's the reason Pearl's mum died, the reason everything changed forever, and Pearl can't forgive her for that. Because losing her mum is the hardest thing that has happened to Pearl and no one, not her dad, her interfering granny, her best friend --- and especially not her new little sister --- can break down the barriers she's putting up. But what if Pearl's mum isn't completely gone? What if, somehow, she's still here? The world may tip at any moment, Pearl knows that now. The trick is finding something to hold on to... Reviewed by Cassandra H., Teen Board Member.

NEW! FORBIDDEN by Kimberley Griffiths Little (Young Adult Historical Fiction)

In the unforgiving Mesopotamian desert where Jayden's tribe lives, betrothal celebrations abound, and tonight it is Jayden's turn to be honored. But while this union with Horeb, the son of her tribe's leader, will bring a life of riches and restore her family's position within the tribe, it will come at the price of Jayden's heart. Then a shadowy boy from the Southern Lands appears. Handsome and mysterious, Kadesh fills Jayden's heart with a passion she never knew possible. But with Horeb's increasingly violent threats haunting Jayden's every move, she knows she must find a way to escape --- or die trying. Reviewed by Carly Silver.

NEW! WATCHED by CJ Lyons (Young Adult Thriller)

In a world where web cappers can hack any cellphone or computer webcam, no one is safe --- including 16-year-old Jesse. who is the victim of a ruthless web capper named King. So far, Jesse's given in to King's demands in order to protect his family, but now King wants something that's too horrible to contemplate --- and if he doesn't get it, King will kill Jesse's little sister. Terrified and helpless, the answer to Jesse's prayers arrive in the form of a plain manila envelope. Inside there's a phone number and a note: I can help. Reviewed by Lynn W., Teen Board Member.

NEW! COMPULSION by Martina Boone (Fiction)

All her life, Barrie Watson has been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lived with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt's South Carolina plantation instead --- a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions. Reviewed by Rebecca Munro.

NEW! THE GOOD SISTER by Jamie Kain (Fiction)

The children of former flower-children, the Kinsey sisters live in an unconventional world and have only each other to rely on. Rachel is wild. Asha is lost. Sarah, the good sister, is the glue that holds them together. But the forces of a mysterious fate have taken Sarah's life in a sudden and puzzling accident, sending the already fractured family into a tailspin of grief and confusion. Reviewed by Kate F., Teen Board Member.

NEW! HOW IT WENT DOWN by Kekla Magoon (Fiction)

When 16-year-old Tariq Johnson dies from two gunshot wounds, his community is thrown into an uproar. Tariq was black. The shooter, Jack Franklin, is white. In the aftermath of Tariq's death, everyone has something to say, but no two accounts of the events line up. Day by day, new twists further obscure the truth. Reviewed by Trevor P., Teen Board Member.

NEW! LAUGHING AT MY NIGHTMARE by Shane Burcaw (Memoir)

With acerbic wit and a hilarious voice, Shane Burcaw describes the challenges he faces as a 21-year-old with spinal muscular atrophy. From awkward handshakes to having a girlfriend and everything in between, Shane handles his situation with humor and a "you-only-live-once" perspective on life. While he does talk about everyday issues that are relatable to teens, he also offers an eye-opening perspective on what it is like to have a life-threatening disease. Reviewed by Trevor P., Teen Board Member.

NEW! KILLER INSTINCT (The Naturals) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Young Adult Thriller Fiction)

Seventeen-year-old Cassie Hobbes has a gift for profiling people, a talent that's landed her a spot in an elite FBI program for teens with innate crime-solving abilities called the Naturals. When victims of a brutal new serial killer start turning up, the Naturals are pulled into an active case that strikes too close to home for one member, Dean --- the killer is a perfect copycat of his incarcerated father. Forced deeper into a murderer's psyche than ever before, will the Naturals be able to outsmart the enigmatic killer's brutal mind games before this copycat twists them into his web for good? Reviewed by Josh D., Teen Board Member.

NEW! GET HAPPY by Mary Amato (Fiction)

Minerva has been raised by her single mother after her father left them both. On her 17th birthday, she is shocked to discover that he has been trying to keep in touch, but her mother has been sabotaging his attempts. Furious at her mom, she begins to investigate her dad, a famous marine biologist, only to discover that he has a new family, including a beloved, and perfect, stepdaughter --- a girl Minerva already knows and despises. As she tries to build her performing and songwriting career, her jealousy takes over and threatens to derail her life completely. Reviewed by Katherina T., Teen Board Member.

NEW! IN REAL LIFE by Lawrence Tabak (Young Adult Fiction)

Fifteen-year-old math prodigy Seth Gordon knows exactly what he wants to do with his life --- play video games in South Korea, where the top pros are rich and famous. But the best players train all day, while Seth has school and a job and divorced parents who agree on only one thing: "Get off that damn computer." Still though, Team Anaconda, one of the leading Korean pro squads, sees something special, and before Seth knows it, it's goodbye Kansas, goodbye Hannah, and hello to the strange new world of Korea. But the reality is more complicated than the fantasy, as he faces cultural shock, disgruntled teammates and giant pots of sour-smelling kimchi. Reviewed by Pranshu A., Teen Board Member.

NEW! STONE COVE ISLAND by Suzanne Myers (Young Adult Fiction)

When a catastrophic hurricane devastates Stone Cove Island, a serene New England resort community, everyone pulls together to rebuild. Seventeen-year-old Eliza Elliot volunteers to clean out the island’s iconic lighthouse and stumbles upon a secret in the wreckage: a handwritten, anonymous confession to a 30-year-old crime. Bess Linsky’s unsolved murder has long haunted the island, and the letter turns the town inside out. As Stone Cove Island fights to recover from disaster, Eliza plunges the locals back into a nightmare they believed was long buried. Reviewed by Cheyenne C., Teen Board Member.

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:

BROOD by Chase Novak (Gothic Horror)

Adam and Alice are reaching the age when some of the children created by the fertility treatment that spawned them begin to turn feral. Will they succumb to the same physiological horror that destroyed their parents? Their aunt, Cynthia, struggles to give her niece and nephew the love they never had. Meanwhile, the forces of good and evil collide as a troop of feral offspring threatens to invade the refuge Cynthia is so determined to construct.

THE REPUBLIC OF IMAGINATION: America in Three Books by Azar Nafisi (Literary Criticsm/Memoir)

Taking her cue from a challenge thrown to her in Seattle, where a skeptical reader told her that Americans don’t care about books the way they did back in Iran, Azar Nafisi energetically responds to those who say fiction has nothing to teach us. Blending memoir and polemic with close readings of her favorite American novels, Nafisi invites us to join her as citizens of her “Republic of Imagination,” a country where the villains are conformity and orthodoxy and the only passport to entry is a free mind and a willingness to dream.

Click here for more Adult Books You Want to Read!

Vote in Our Poll!

Thanksgiving is at the end of the month, and as readers, we're thankful for plenty! Which of these book-related wonders are you most grateful for?

  • The fact that books are available in both print and digital form so I have many options when choosing a new book
  • Libraries --- live long and prosper!
  • The many bookstores still thriving --- nothing beats rushing in on the day a new book releases.
  • The internet and social media so I can share my favorite books with others and find new reads
  • Author events --- nothing beats seeing an author in person!

Last month, we asked you for your favorite kind of horror story. The vote was pretty split, but 27% of you prefer stories that feature vampires, werewolves and zombies and 22% like tall tales and urban legends! To see the full results, click here.

Click here to take our poll!

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