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Late November
November 24, 2014

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Teenreads Gets Starstruck, Literary Style
Steve Shenkin and I at Teen Press Conference
Steve Shenkin and me at Teen Press Conference

Hi Teenreaders!

Last Tuesday, while introducing the five finalists for the National Book Award for Young Literature to a group of students at the annual Teen Press Conference at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, Sherrie Young, the Director of Marketing and Special Projects at the National Book Foundation, said, “You have movie stars --- these are your literary stars.”

Showing that authors are stars --- just like actors, singers and athletes --- and are people to admire and aspire to be, is actually one of the central points of the Teen Press Conference. At this event students from multiple New York middle and high schools gather to interview the finalists about their books and writing processes.

I thought a lot about Sherrie’s statement after the event, because it’s true --- even though people fall in love with books all the time, and are touched and challenged by stories in innumerable ways, it’s rare that we think of the people behind them as sparkly, glittery stars in the same way me might view Beyoncé, Jennifer Lawrence, or in my case, Jeff Goldblum (that odd cadence and being the one voice of reason in Jurassic Park…gets me every time). Paparazzi aren’t hiding in bushes to snap pictures as authors take their babies on walks and selling them to Us Weekly, and no one asks them who designed their dresses.

But why is this?

I think one major reason is that, unlike theater, being an author is not a particularly visual career. If you’re an actor, your face, your body, your whole being is a major part of your job. People feel like they know you when they’ve seen you cry or fight or save the love of your life from a sinking cruise ship, even if it’s not actually you, just the person you’re playing. Plus --- especially if you’re on TV --- you’ve become part of your audience’s weekly ritual for years, just as much as their favorite pair of sweatpants or regular order from the pizza place down the street. Your jokes, mannerisms and haircuts become theirs.

With authors, obviously, it’s a bit different. We don’t see their faces when we read. In fact, we might not see their faces ever beyond a book jacket, unless we do some very intentional internet digging or are lucky enough to have one visit a bookstore or library nearby. Plus, at least when we’re reading fiction, it doesn’t feel like we’re getting to know the authors --- we’re getting to know the characters they’ve created and the world they’ve built. We’re thinking about Katniss Everdeen, not Suzanne Collins. About Percy Jackson, not Rick Riordan.

While I totally understand this --- fiction authors wouldn’t be doing their jobs if we were wondering about Rainbow Rowell’s eye color rather than the fate of Eleanor and Park’s relationship --- I also think it’s kind of funny, because we’re in fact getting to know these authors intimately. We may not see their faces, but we’re getting inside their heads. We’re learning what they care about, what they daydream about, and most likely, thoughts, scraps and memories that were taken from their very lives.

As Deborah Wiles, author of REVOLUTION, said at the Teen Press Conference, all of her fiction comes out of her life, partly because she’s still figuring it out. For instance, her book REVOLUTION takes place in 1964 Mississippi during the Civil Rights Movement --- the same time and place Deborah spent summers as a child (and questioned why so many white-owned businesses, like the roller skating rink, were closing their doors once they were forced to allow African American patrons). And while not every detail is drawn from her own childhood --- she didn’t sneak into a pool like her protagonist Sunny, for instance ---the story is emotionally true.

John Corey Whaley also garnered inspiration for NOGGIN from his real life --- and that is not to say that he died, had his head frozen and reattached to a different body five years later. Rather, the character Cate was inspired by his best friend Carissa, and the two were so similar that Carissa was actually “thrown off” while reading it.

The overall themes authors choose to tackle also reveal something about them. For instance, Eliot Schrefer told the Teen Press Conference audience that he wrote the human character Tatagani and the alpha chimp in THREATENED because he wanted to explore how those with power control those without it. By dissecting this theme, and threads in fiction in general, we can really see a huge portion of an author’s inner monologue --- what makes them tick, wonder, get angry and get passionate.

My point in all of this, though, is that even though we may not know what they look like or much about them, we do forge a strong connection with authors by reading their books, and we should get that awed, giddy, giggly, fumbling (or composed, if you’re more mature than I am) thrill of recognition when we see them. Because they’re stars. They deserve it.

So enough preaching to the choir (and accidentally encouraging paparazzi to gather new targets) --- onto the rest of the newsletter! Be sure to check out our National Book Awards section for more info on the winner and my favorite parts of the Teen Press Conference, the 5 Under 35 celebration and the Awards themselves! There’s also our take on The Hunger Games, The Holiday Bundle of Cheer contest, our Thanksgiving-themed poll, and more.

And speaking of awards, stay tuned for next week when nominating begins for the Teen Choice Book Award. We'll be sending you a special newsletter about that!

So happy reading, and have a happy, delicious, festive, family-filled Thanksgiving!

--- Shara Zaval (

P.S: Photos! Up top, you can see the fabulously decorated tables at the National Book Awards on the left, and two girls waiting for Jacqueline Woodson to sign their copies of BROWN GIRL DREAMING on the right. On the right of the opener, you can see Steve Shenkin and me at the Teen Press Conference.


Sneak Peek: An Early Look Inside a Book. Enter to Win a Pre-Publication Copy of SEEKER by Arwen Elys Dayton and Comment on It! Enter by Next Monday, December 1st!

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 Monday, December 1st at noon ET (that's next Monday for those of you who are procrastinators) 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 by December 12th!

Congratulations to Jacqueline Woodson, winner of the 2014 National Book Award for Young Readers!

This year, Jacqueline Woodson took home the National Book Award for Young Readers for her book BROWN GIRL DREAMING, a novel in verse that details Jackie's childhood in South Carolina and New York City in the 1960s and '70s and her journey to becoming an author. Here are a few things about Jacqueline Woodson that stuck out to me over the past week:

  • She first decided she wanted to be a writer when she was seven and read STEVIE by John Steptoe
  • She wrote BROWN GIRL DREAMING in poems because in the book, she's writing about memory and small moments --- there’s "white space" around them. Writing it as a narrative would have been dishonest, because she remembers them as small moments in time.
  • She thinks that it doesn't matter how interesting the facts and plot points are --- you have to make readers care about the characters first and foremost, because then they'll care what happens to them.
  • Jackie was humbled when writing BROWN GIRL DREAMING --- she realized everything her family had done to get her where she is today.
  • As she stated while accepting her NBA, the thinks that "the world wouldn't be complete without all of our stories in it." Maybe it's time to write some of your own!

Click here to learn more about BROWN GIRL DREAMING.
Click here to read our review of BROWN GIRL DREAMING.
Click here to read our blog post detailing the highlights of the NBAs and the Teen Press Conference.

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.

In the third section, she talks about the biggest change since she began as a book scout 14 years ago, the most surprising part of her job and the popular TV series she hated when she read the script.

Click here to read Part 1.

Click here to read Part 2.

Click here to read Part 3.
Side by Side: Space Travel

Have you ever thought about hopping in a spaceship and taking a trip around the universe? Maybe you’d like see the stars, have an epic adventure and fall in star-crossed love. The characters in LIFER by Beck Nicholas and THIS SHATTERED WORLD by Meagan Spooner and Amie Kaufman get to do just that.

In LIFER, Asher is a slave, called a lifer, aboard the spaceship Pelican. She’s desperate to aid the brewing Lifer rebellion, but she could be in serious danger. On the other side of the universe, Blank wakes up without his memory and has to play for it in a black-market gaming warehouse. In THIS SHATTERED WORLD, Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac are caught between two sides in a senseless war over a terraformed planet.

We talked to Beck Nicholas, Meagan Spooner and Amie Kaufman about their inspiration, their sci-fi research, and what aliens would think about their high school days --- and their apparent mutual love for chocolate that grows on trees.

Click here to read the special feature!

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! Aspen R. reviewed THE NAME OF THE BLADE by Zoë Marriott and thinks "everyone should read this novel because it is fabulous!" Christa O. read CLARIEL by Garth Nix and would "would recommend it to anyone who loves high fantasy." And Emily P called CLOSE by Erika Raskin "a great read for any teenager and the characters are all extremely relatable."

--- Blog: Over on the Teenreads blog, Allison S. wrote about one of her favorite classic books, FRANKENSTEIN by Mary Shelley.


Click here to meet the Teen Board!

On the Teenreads Blog!

Let's Get Classic --- Teen Board member Alison S. writes about one of her favorite classic books, FRANKENSTEIN by Mary Shelley

Leigh Bardugo at Books of Wonder --- Teenreads intern Brianna Robinson attended a talk by Leigh Bardugo, the author of The Grisha Trilogy at Books of Wonder in New York City

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 Musings --- We check in with Teenreads intern Brianna Robinson on her NaNoWriMo progress

The National Book Awards: My Favorite Things: I wax poetic on my favorite moments of the 5 Under 35 Celebration, the Teen Press Conference, and the Awards ceremony itself.


Click here to read the Teenreads blog!

Now in Stores: STONE COVE ISLAND by Suzanne Myers

STONE COVE ISLAND by Suzanne Myers

THE STEPFORD WIVES meets Stephen King in this debut mystery, a sleepy New England beach town is wrecked by a hurricane that reveals an unthinkable secret kept for more than 30 years.

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. Everyone who knew Bess is suddenly a suspect. Soon Eliza finds herself in the throes of an investigation she never wanted or asked for. As Stone Cove Island fights to recover from disaster, Eliza plunges the locals back into a nightmare they believed was long buried.



Click here to learn more about the book!

Now in Stores: AUTUMN FALLS by Bella Thorne

AUTUMN FALLS by Bella Thorne

Filled with personal elements from Bella’s own life, AUTUMN FALLS is the first book in Bella Thorne’s new series! It has everything readers will love and relate to: a real girl trying to find her own inner strength and be the best she can be, with a hint of magic and mystery and a steady stream of OMG-I-can’t-believe-that-just-happened fun.

With her fiery red hair, new-girl outsider status, and tendency to be a total klutz, Autumn Falls definitely isn’t flying below the radar at Aventura High. Luckily, she makes some genuine friends who take her under their wing. But she also manages to get on the wrong side of the school’s queen bee, and then finds out the guy she’s started to like, funny and sweet Sean, hangs with the mean crowd. Now her rep and her potential love life are at stake.

When Autumn vents her feelings in a journal that belonged to her late father, suddenly her wildest wishes start coming true. Is it coincidence? Or can writing in the journal solve all her problems? And if the journal doesn’t work that way, is there a bigger purpose for it --- and for her?


Click here to find out more about the book!
Books on Screen

So, how many of you have seen The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1? Did you like it, dislike it, fall somewhere in between? I was excited to have a chance to see a pre-screening a few days before the movie hit the theaters! Overall, I enjoyed the movie --- it's a great franchise and I was immediately pushed into the heart of the District 13 vs. The Capital battle, Katniss's distress over Peeta's captive state and ever-nearing state of full-blown war. Admittedly, I liked the other two films a lot more. I think this is because 1) I liked the other books more, too 2) I don't think it needed to be made into two movies, and it felt like they were stretching to make it fill two hours and 3) There's just something missing when you don't have the games. But some favorite things:

1) The humor! This is a serious movie, full of bombings, torture and talk of political uprisings. However, there are little light moments throughout from our favorite standbys, Effie Trinket and Haymitch Abernathy.

2) The music - I remember loving the soundtrack in the earlier movies --- they brought the eeriness of the games to life. While there was no arena this time around, I do think that they employed the Capital theme-song, the call of the mockingjay and a new song from Katniss incredibly well. And Lorde in the closing credits? Who can complain?

3) The tension - While I found this movie to sometimes be lacking in pace and have a few moments of intense over-acting, I will be the first to admit that I truly felt the dilemma that Katniss was going through: she wants to help spark a revolution against the truly evil Capital, but she doesn't want to harm the love of her life. This is a question of politcal vs. personal, and I think the movie really did a good job on exploring both of these very important factors in a person's life.

If you saw The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1, let us know what you think!





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! INCOMMUNICADO by Randall Beth Platt (Young Adult Fiction)

Just about everyone is incommunicado in the small, sleepy Oregon coastal town of Sea Park during winter. Until Pearl Harbor, that is, when it springs to patriotic life. But is Ruby Opal Pearl (a.k.a. Jewels) Stokes the only person to see what’s really happening here? Tommy Kiramoto, the one person in her life who has provided security, shelter, and a smidgeon of respect --- and who owns the biggest resort on the coast --- is now the cause of the town’s rage because of his Japanese ancestry. Reviewed by Mary M., Teen Board Member.

NEW! CLOSE by Erika Raskin (Fiction)

Single mom Kik Marcheson is doing the best she can. But effort doesn't seem to count for much in the parenting department. Her oldest daughter, Doone, is swimming in the deep end of adolescence. Casey, the middle-child slash good-girl is fraying along the edges and Tess, a quirky kindergartner, has installed an imaginary playmate in the family abode. When Doone falls in with the wrong crowd, a TV therapist offers to help. And things do start to look up. But only for a while. Reviewed by Emily P., Teen Board Member.

NEW! THE AGE OF AMY: Channel '63 by Bruce Edwards (Young Adult Fiction)

What if you could tune your TV to the year 1963, and watch --- live? A new theme park attraction allows visitors to not only observe, but also to talk with the people of that turbulent decade. For 16-year-old Amy, it's the perfect escape. Things get complicated, however, when Amy falls for a '60s teenage boy on the bewitching TV screen. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

NEW! THE NAME OF THE BLADE by Zoë Marriott (Youth Adult Fantasy/Supernatural)

When Mio sneaks the family’s katana --- a priceless ancestral sword --- from her parents’ attic, she just wants to spice up a costume. But the katana is much more than a dusty antique. Awakening the power within the sword unleashes a terrible, ancient evil onto the streets of unsuspecting London. But it also releases Shinobu, a fearless warrior boy, from the depths of time. He helps to protect Mio — and steals her heart. With creatures straight out of Japanese myths stalking her and her friends, Mio realizes that if she cannot keep the sword safe and learn to control its legendary powers, she will lose not only her own life . . . but the love of a lifetime. Reviewed by Aspen R., Teen Board Member.

NEW! WATERFALL by Lauren Kate (Fiction)

Eureka’s tears have flooded the earth, and now Atlantis is rising, bringing with it its evil king, Atlas. Eureka is the only one who can stop him, but first she must learn how to fight. She travels across the ocean with Cat, her family and Ander, the gorgeous and mysterious Seedbearer who promises to help her find Solon, an enigmatic lost Seedbearer who knows how to defeat Atlas. Reviewed by Christa O., Teen Board Member.

NEW! CLARIEL by Garth Nix (Fiction)

Clariel is the daughter of one of the most notable families in the Old Kingdom, with blood relations to the Abhorsen and, most important, to the King. She dreams of living a simple life but discovers this is hard to achieve when a dangerous Free Magic creature is loose in the city, her parents want to marry her off to a killer and there is a plot brewing against the old and withdrawn King Orrikan. When Clariel is drawn into the efforts to find and capture the creature, she finds hidden sorcery within herself, yet it is magic that carries great dangers. Can she rise above the temptation of power, escape the unwanted marriage and save the King? Reviewed by Christa O., Teen Board Member.

NEW! THE BOOK OF IVY by Amy Engel (Young Adult Dystopian)

After a brutal nuclear war, the United States was left decimated. A small group of survivors eventually banded together, but only after more conflict over which family would govern the new nation. The Westfalls lost. Fifty years later, peace and control are maintained by marrying the daughters of the losing side to the sons of the winning group in a yearly ritual. This year, it is my turn. My name is Ivy Westfall, and my mission is simple: to kill the president’s son --- my soon-to-be husband --- and return the Westfall family to power. But Bishop Lattimer is either a very skilled actor or he’s not the cruel, heartless boy my family warned me to expect. Reviewed by Ashley Tran.

NEW! GUILTY? Crime, Punishment, and the Changing Face of Justice by Teri Kanefield (Young Adult Nonfiction)

When some people kill, they are jailed or even executed. When others do, they are celebrated as heroes. Though this example is extreme, it’s just one of many that author and lawyer Teri Kanefield explores in depth. From an examination of what constitutes a crime, why and how we punish people who commit crimes, how the government determines these rules to how citizens have reacted when they feel laws aren’t fair, this book will challenge young readers’ thinking about law and order, crime and punishment, while giving them specific legal cases to ponder along the way. Reviewed by Anita Lock.

NEW! A MURDER OF MAGPIES by Sarah Bromley (Young Adult Paranormal Fiction)

Winter in Black Orchard, Wisconsin, is long and dark, and 16-year-old Vayda Silver prays the snow will keep the truth and secrecy of the last two years buried. Hiding from the past with her father and twin brother, Vayda knows the rules: never return to the town of her mother’s murder, and never work a Mind Game where someone might see. But it's not long before her powers can no longer be contained. The truth is dangerously close to being exposed, placing Vayda and her family at risk. Until someone quiets the chaos inside her. Reviewed by Maggie L., Teen Board Member.

NEW! UNBROKEN (The Young Adult Adaptation): An Olympian's Journey from Airman to Castaway to Captive by Laura Hillenbrand (Young Adult Nonfiction)

On a May afternoon in 1943, an American military plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary sagas of the Second World War. Reviewed by Chyenne C., Teen Board Member.

NEW! TEEN TITANS: Earth One, Vol. 1 Written by Jeff Lemire and drawn by Terry Dodson (Comics / Graphic Novel)

The Teen Titans never felt like normal kids... but they had no idea how right they were. Their seemingly idyllic Oregon upbringing hides a secret --- one that will bring killers, shamans and extraterrestrials down on their heads, and force them into an alliance that could shake the planet to its foundations! Reviewed by John Maher.

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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