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Late December 2014
December 19, 2014

Quick Links to Features on - Reviewers' Choices!

Hi Teenreaders!

I don’t know about you, but I can’t believe that 2014 is winding down so quickly. We’re already halfway through Hanukkah (meaning that I need to find some great latkes in NYC, stat), Christmas is just around the corner, and before we know it, it will be 2015.

Before we jump into the realm of New Year’s resolutions, though, we wanted to do some reflection on the year that has passed. And while TIME or People can walk you down political or pop cultural memory lane, we at are, of course, looking at 2014 from a more literary perspective.

In the last newsletter, I mentioned my personal favorites for 2014 (the really narrow list is I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson and THE UNFINISHED LIFE OF ADDISON STONE by Adele Griffin), but this time around, I wanted to share our reviewers’ choices.

Our reviewers are a wonderfully dedicated team of both teens and adults from around the country, and not only do they read and review what we assign them every month, they devour plenty of other books from their local bookstores and libraries throughout the year. This year our reviewers gave us a wonderfully diverse list of favorites, ranging from series’ ends to standalones, science fiction to realistic fiction to nonfiction, with everything in between. However, there were a couple that got two or three nods, and I’ve highlighted those below. You can add them to your To Be Read (TBR) list, or, if you come from a family of last-minute shoppers, your holiday wish list!

CITY OF HEAVENLY FIRE by Cassandra Clare

I absolutely loved The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, so naturally I was excited to read the final book. I was also wary because I know, from experience, that authors tend to end series with some, unfortunate surprises (I'm talking about Lupin and Tonks from Harry Potter, for example). Thankfully, I was not disappointed with CITY OF HEAVENLY FIRE. Cassandra made sure that I was left happy after finishing her book. I really feel like the story was completed.
--- Aliza M., Teen Board Member

CONVERSION by Katherine Howe

Intricate, harrowing, one of the most intensely ingenious plots --- I couldn’t put this book down until I knew all the answers.
-- Corinne Fox

CRESS by Marissa Meyer

The third book in The Lunar Chronicles series! I loved meeting Cress. It also was just one big huge climax to the series, which I loved! It also had a bunch of new characters and things were all connecting --- it was INSANE.
--- Christa O. Teen Board Member

DOROTHY MUST DIE by Danielle Page

All the raving you've probably heard about this book is true; this book was such a dark retelling of THE WIZARD OF OZ and every bit of it was absolutely, without a doubt, perfect.
--- Sydney L., Teen Board Member


I don't think I need to say anymore than the title in order to explain why this book is on my list. Cute, sweet, romantic, adorable…I will run out of words if I try to describe this book. This is a book that I see myself coming back to reread multiple times throughout the years.
--- Pranshu A., Teen Board Member

WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart

With an enticing plot and great characters, this novel grabbed my attention from the very first page.
--- Rachel D., Teen Board Member

THE WINNER’S CURSE by Marie Rutkoski

This book is in my top five favorites mainly because of the characters. Normally I read novels with a female heroine who is physically strong, but in THE WINNER'S CURSE, Kestrel is not physically, but mentally, strong. Her amazing wit astonished and thrilled me! Also, the relationship between Arin and Kestrel is incredible in how they are so different yet so similar.
--- Kate F., Teen Board Member

But seriously, be sure to check out the whole list because a huge variety of genres are represented, and we know there will be something for everyone.

And, simply because I can’t resist, here is a sneak peek at some things to pay attention to come 2015. I recently finished X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon (Candlewick, January 8th), which is a fictionalized telling of Malcolm Little’s childhood --- the Malcolm Little that later became human rights activist Malcolm X. After a teacher told him he had no chance of becoming a lawyer because he was an African American, he figured there wasn't a point in trying and turned to a life dominated by the nightlife, jazz, drugs, stealing and the glittering lights of Boston and New York City. I loved learning that even legendary figures had to find their way as teens, and getting transported to the unmatchable energy of 1940s Harlem.

I also read INK & ASHES by debut author Valynne E. Maetani (Tu Books, Spring 2015). It follows 16-year-old Claire Takata, who, after learning that her father and stepfather knew each other, discovers a series of dark secrets about her family’s history…and finds herself in very real danger. I loved that this thriller taught me a lot about Japanese culture and featured a memorable, loveable group of friends that I desperately wanted to join. It’s one to keep an eye out for!

And if you want to mix things up a bit, I’m loving the middle grade ECHO by award-winning author Pam Muñoz Ryan (Scholastic, February 24th). I’m only partway through, but the interweaving stories and the enchanting, magical tone have completely transported me. I can’t wait to see where this one will go. And for adult, the short story collection GET IN TROUBLE by Kelly Link (Random House, February 3rd) is one I can’t stop raving about. Each story takes place in the same bewitching universe, similar to ours but with little bits of off-kilter magic, and is at times dark but always fascinating.

So now that the number of books you want to read in December and into 2015 has exponentially grown, my job is done! Enjoy the newsletter, check our site to see if you won the Holiday Bundle of Cheer contest and revel in whichever holidays you celebrate.

Here’s to a great end of the year and an even better start to the new one!

--- Shara Zaval (

P.S.: If you're curious about the photos, they're just highlighting some of the Book Report Network's holiday spirit! The President of The Book Report Network, Carol Fitzgerald, made cupcakes with Christmas and Hanukkah-themed sprinkles and arranged them in the shape of a Christmas tree, and yesterday, we had a holiday lunch at Rosa Mexicano in New York City --- let's just say our group New Year's resolution to eat healthier is definitely not kicking in a minute before 2015.


Nominate Your Favorite Books of 2014 for the Teen Choice Book of the Year
In association with the Children’s Book Council (CBC) and Every Child a Reader (ECAR), is giving you a very special opportunity to let your voices be heard by telling us your five favorite books of 2014. The five titles that receive the most votes will serve as the finalists for the CBC’s 2014 Teen Choice Book of the Year. Once the five finalists have been determined, we will tell you where you can go vote for them. The winner will be announced in May 2015.

All you have to do is fill out this form between now and Monday, February 2, 2015 at noon ET. Your top five selections may come from the list we’ve provided below, or you can vote for titles not on the list.

Important Note: If you choose to add a title for nomination that is not on our list, please be sure that the book(s) released for the first time in 2014; this means that paperbacks originally published as hardcovers prior to 2014 will not be accepted. If you’re uncertain about a book’s release date, we suggest you search for that title on, or

And please share the following link with your friends, teachers, librarians and school media specialists --- the more feedback we get, the better!:

Click here to nominate your favorite books of 2014 for the Teen Choice Book of the Year!

REAL TALK Publishing with Robin Adelson, Professional Association/Nonprofit Executive
A lot of book jobs are, understandably, inextricably connected to books themselves: writing them, editing them, designing them, publicizing them, selling them...the list goes on. But some book jobs take a step back, and instead focus on publishing initiatives, promoting literacy and the joy of reading itself.

As the Executive Director of the children's book trade association Children's Book Council (CBC) and the nonprofit Every Child a Reader, Robin Adelson has one (well, two) of those jobs. At the CBC, she acts as the face of the children's book publishing industry and makes sure that she addresses publishing professionals' needs and interests. At Every Child a Reader, she works every day to fulfill the organization's mission to "instill a lifelong love of reading in children."

After heading up the CBC and Every Child a Reader for eight years, Robin is leaving both organizations at the end of 2014. She will surely be missed, and at Teenreads, we wanted to make sure to talk to her about her unique roles in the book world before she left.

Click here to read the first part of our interview, where Robin talks about what it was like to enter the publishing world from a completely different industry, her day-to-day responsibilities and how she took Children's Book Week from a poster program to a nationally celebrated extravaganza. Stay tuned for Part 2 on Tuesday, December 23rd!

Teenreads Reviewers Pick Their Favorite Books of 2014!

I know we mentioned it in the opener, but we wanted to highlight our "reviewers picks" feature one more time! Check out what our reviewers and Teen Board members thought were the standouts of 2014. Do you agree with their choices?

Click here to read the special feature!

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

With all the holiday cheer in the December air, we asked our Teen Board Members: "if you could invent a book-themed holiday, what would it be and how would you celebrate it?" Here are a few excerpts from their answers:

- Faction Day, based on the Divergent series, where "everyone could celebrate by dressing in clothes according to their faction, eating Dauntless cake, and do activities with their factions" - Kate F.

- Annual Detective Day, based on Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes books, where "everyone would investigate a problem in their community and solve it to their best of ability. At the end of the day, family and friends would gather at each other's homes and discuss the problems they faced and how they overcame them." - Rachel D.

- National Quotable Dialogue Day, where participants could speak in nothing but literary quotes for a full 24 hours --- Alison S.

- New Novel November, a whole month decicated to exploring "new novels, genres, authors, publishers, reading formats and more... in an effort to open up horizons far and wide for all readers." --- Aliza M.

See the full feature here!

And there are of course Teen Board reviews and blog posts too --- be sure to check them out!

Click here to meet the Teen Board!

On the Teenreads Blog!

Writing Male Hero Characters in YA --- Otherworld author Skylar Dorset writes a guest post about Ben, one of the leading (and totally endearing characters) in the series

Pulling Yesterday Into Today --- FOREST OF WHISPERS author Jennifer Murgia gives advice on researching for historical fiction novels --- and how it's way more fun than history class.

MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME McNally Jackson event --- Former intern Brianna Robinson shares how the event based on this festive book put her in the holiday spirit

International Diversity in YA Writing Panel --- intern Rebecca Czochor shares her experience at this fascinating and important panel at the New York Public Library on December 10th.

Click here to read the Teenreads blog!

Best of Lists for 2014

This is the time of year when “Best Of” lists are everywhere. Although we at don’t have a “Best Of” list of our own, we’ve compiled a number of them for you here. See which of your top picks appear on these lists and which titles you feel should've been included but weren't. Perhaps you’ll even find some books to add to your reading list as we head into the new year!

National Public Radio
Publisher's Weekly
New York Times
School Library Journal

Click here to see our roundup of Best of Lists from 2014!

Books on Screen
This December, celebrate the holidays by going on an adventure! You could join Bilbo and the gang as they battle for the ultimate fate of Middle Earth and defeat the dragon Smaug in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. Or follow the harrowing true story of Louie Zamperini, a World War II soldier who survives a plane crash, drifts on the sea for 47 days, then spends over two years as a prisoner of war in Unbroken.

Looking for something a little more musical? Check out the new modern-day version of Annie. Featuring some of your favorite songs from the classic musical, updated for a modern retelling. You’ll definitely be singing along to “It’s The Hard Knock Life!”

So get out there this December and see some of these great books on screen!
Click here to read books on screen!

December's Cool and New Roundup

In December’s Cool and New Roundup, we have DIAMOND BOY by Michael Williams, a high-stakes adventure where 15-year-old Patso works the Marange diamond fields for a chance at a better life; WE SHOULD HANG OUT SOMETIME: Embarrassingly, A True Story, Josh Sundquist’s memoir about looking for love in all the wrong places; and the latest volume in Sara Shepard’s best-selling series --- PRETTY LITTLE LIARS #16: Vicious --- where Aria, Spencer, Hanna and Emily are on trial for killing Alison DiLaurentis and no one believes in their innocence…

Among the paperback titles released this month, we have WRITER TO WRITER: From Think to Ink, where Newbery Honor Author Gail Carson Levine shares her secrets for creating page-turning prose and poetry for all aspiring writers; The second book in the At Somerton series by Leila Rasheed, DIAMONDS & DECEIPT, which follows Rose and Ada’s adventures in a 1913 England filled with questions of class, fortune, betrayal and love; and THE BOY WITH THE HIDDEN NAME by Skylar Dorset, the sequel to THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS featuring half-faerie princess Selkie Stewart, who is responsible for saving the world from the terrorizing Seelie Faerie Court.

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

Check Out Our Latest Reviews!

NEW! NOW THAT YOU'RE HERE by Amy K. Nichols (Science Fiction, Romance)

One minute Danny was running from the cops and the next, he jolted awake in an unfamiliar body --- his own, but different. Somehow, he's crossed into a parallel universe. Now his friends are his enemies, his parents are long dead and studious Eevee is not the mysterious femme fatale he once kissed back home. Then again, this Eevee --- a girl who'd rather land an internship at NASA than a date to the prom --- may be his only hope of getting home. Reviewed by Lexibex V., Teen Board Member.

NEW! UGLY GIRLS by Lindsay Hunter (Fiction)

Jamey, an alleged high school student from a nearby town, has been pining after Perry from behind the computer screen for some time now. When Perry and her friend, Baby Girl, finally agree to meet Jamey face-to-face, they quickly realize he’s far from the shy high school boy they thought he was --- and they’ll do whatever is necessary to protect themselves. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

NEW! REBELS BY ACCIDENT by Patricia Dunn (Young Adult Fiction)

After attending her first high school party lands her in jail, Mariam thinks things can't possibly get worse. So when her parents send her to live with her grandmother in Cairo, she is sure her life is over. Her Sittu is Darth Vader's evil sister, and Mariam is convinced that the only sights she'll get to see in Egypt are the rooms in her grandmother's apartment. Then a girl named Asmaa calls the people of Egypt to protest against their president, and Mariam finds herself in the middle of a revolution, running from teargas and falling in love for the first time, and having her first kiss. Reviewed by Rachel B., Teen Board Member.

NEW! ALICE + FREDA FOREVER by Alexis Coe (Fiction)

In 1892, America was obsessed with a teenage murderess, but it wasn't her crime that shocked the nation—it was her motivation. Nineteen-year-old Alice Mitchell had planned to pass as a man in order to marry her seventeen-year-old fiancée Freda Ward, but when their love letters were discovered, they were forbidden from ever speaking again. Reviewed by Cheritta J., Teen Board Member.

NEW! BLACKFIN SKY by Kat Ellis (Fiction)

When Skylar Rousseau falls from Blackfin Pier and drowns on her sixteenth birthday, the whole town goes into mourning - until she shows up three months later like nothing happened. Unravelling the mystery of those missing months takes Sky to the burned-out circus in the woods, where whispers of murder and kidnapping begin to reveal the town's secrets. Reviewed by Cheritta J., Teen Board Member.

NEW! ON THE EDGE by Allison Van Diepen (Young Adult Fiction)

Maddie Diaz never should have taken that shortcut through the park. If she hadn't, she wouldn't have seen two members of the Reyes gang attacking a homeless man. Now, as the only witness, she knows there's a target on her back. But when the Reyes jump her on the street, Maddie is protected by a second gang and their secretive leader, Lobo, who is determined to take down the Reyes himself. Lobo is mysterious and passionate, and Maddie begins to fall for him. But when they live this close to the edge, can their love survive? Reviewed by Kate F., Teen Board Member.

NEW! TOP TEN CLUES YOU'RE CLUELESS by Liz Czukas (Young Adult Fiction)

Chloe would rather be anywhere than locked in work jail (aka the break room) with five of her coworkers . . . even if one of them is Tyson. But if they can band together to clear their names, what looks like a total disaster might just make Chloe's list of Top Ten Best Moments. Reviewed by Sabrina Abballe.

NEW! NO PLACE TO FALL by Jaye Robin Brown (Young Adult Fiction)

Amber Vaughn is a good girl. She sings solos at church, babysits her nephew after school, and spends Friday nights hanging out at the house of her best friend, Devon. But when she learns about an audition at a prestigious arts school, Amber decides that her dream—to sing on bigger stages—could also be her ticket to a new life. Devon’s older brother, Will, helps Amber prepare for her one chance to try out. The more time Will and Amber spend together, the more complicated their relationship becomes . . . and Amber starts to wonder if she’s such a good girl, after all. Then, in an afternoon, the bottom drops out of her family’s world—and Amber is faced with an impossible choice between her promise as an artist and the people she loves. Amber always thought she knew what a good girl would do. But between right and wrong, there’s a whole world of possibilities. Reviewed by Aliza M., Teen Board Member.

NEW! LIKE WATER ON STONE by Dana Walright (Young Adult Historical Fiction)

It is 1914, and the Ottoman Empire is crumbling into violence. Beyond Anatolia, in the Armenian Highlands, Shahen Donabedian dreams of going to New York. Sosi, his twin sister, never wants to leave her home, especially now that she is in love. At first, only Papa, who counts Turks and Kurds among his closest friends, stands in Shahen's way. But when the Ottoman pashas set in motion their plans to eliminate all Armenians, neither twin has a choice. After a horrifying attack leaves them orphaned, they flee into the mountains, carrying their little sister, Mariam. But the children are not alone. An eagle watches over them as they run at night and hide each day, making their way across mountain ridges and rivers red with blood. Reviewed by Aimee Rogers.

NEW! THE LOST (Witch & Wizard) by James Patterson and Emily Raymond (Young Adult Fantasy)

Whit and Wisty Allgood have fought and defeated their world's most pernicious threats: the evil dictator, The One Who Is The One, as well as his wicked father and son. But just as the heroic witch and wizard start to settle into their new roles in governance, a deadly crime wave grips their city, with all signs pointing to a magical mastermind every bit as powerful and heartless as The One. Now the siblings find themselves persecuted as the city turns against all those who possess magic. They're questioning everything, including each other and their abilities. Can they confront the citizens' growing hostility and their own doubts in time to face the new enemy barreling toward their gates? Reviewed by Christine M. Irvin.


Vote in Our Poll!

It's December, which means the year is winding down and a new one is just around the corner! What book genre best describes your 2014?

  • Dystopia --- Things took a dark turn this year; hopefully 2015 will be better!
  • Science Fiction --- Full of surprises and strange twists and turns
  • Biography --- A lot of important dates, deadlines and people defined your 2014
  • Modern Fairy Tale --- Bursting with magic and maybe even an awesome Prince (or Princess) Charming!
  • Contemporary Realistic --- As you expected it: Colored by school, friends, extra-curriculars, family...the usual.
  • Classic --- This was a year that will live down in history

Last month, we asked you what book-related wonders you were most thankful for. An overwhelming 58% of you voted for libraries --- live long and prosper! Coming in second at 18% were bookstores, where you loved running to buy new releases the day they came out. To see the full results, click here.

Click here to take our poll!

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