Skip to main content

Early March
March 13, 2015

Quick Links to Features on Gets Ultimate

Hi Teenreaders,

I hope you're doing well and enjoying the start of spring! I know, I know...the season doesn't technically change over until March 20th, but between daylight savings and the sudden onslaught of sunnier, warmer days (at least in New York City), the dreary grays of winter couldn't be further from my mind. (And yes, I'm knocking on my wooden desk right now...please don't blame me if there's a winter storm, tomorrow).

While not daydreaming about every possible thing I could do outside (Picnics! Free outdoor movies! Walking in the park! Walking the perimeter of Manhattan!), my mind has been pretty focused on one of our biggest initiatives: The Ultimate Reading List!

You can find more details about this feature in the next section of the newsletter, but basically, The Ultimate Reading List is our roundup of more than 400 books that we think you will love. The list mainly comprises young adult titles (including graphic novels), but there are adult books on there, too --- the one connecting thread is that each featured work is well-written, entertaining, compelling and deserving of your attention! We hope you consult the list when choosing your pleasure reading and use it as a reference throughout the year --- you can’t go wrong with any of the books, on there!

Also, we'd love you to share this list with your teachers and school librarians. We have a goal to make mandatory reading more fun than tedious, and we know that if teachers include these books, it will help us achieve that mission!

To celebrate the newest edition of this list, I asked our reviewers and Teen Board members to tell me about their own Ultimate Reading Lists --- what three books would they recommend unfailingly to their friends? Which three do they think are some of the most awe-inspiring, thought-provoking or just plain fun that they’ve ever read? I know --- big question. Read a selection of their answers below and see how they compare with your own! To see all of their answers, read the blog post, here.

NAOMI AND ELY'S NO KISS LIST by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan - This book made me laugh from start to finish. I love how the author gives minor characters their own plot lines.
--- Alonzo D., Teen Board member

SLEEPING FRESHMEN NEVER LIE by David Lubar - This book isn't just entertaining; it's what got me through high school.
--- Cheyenne C., Teen Board member

WICKED: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire - In this book best suited for older teens, Maguire creates a mesmerizing reimagining of Oz where vivid, complicated characters engage in intense dialogues about religion and politics. This is one of the most thought-provoking books I have ever read and I could not put it down for one second.
--- Corinne Fox

SNOW LIKE ASHES by Sara Raasch - This novel came out during the winter of 2014 and it quickly became a hit with my sisters and I! We each have our own copy (that's three copies of the same book!) because we all loved it. The main character is incredibly relatable and the high fantasy setting is interesting and unique.
--- Kate F., Teen Board member

THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER by Stephen Chbosky - This is my favorite book of all time; it hits on every teenage touchy subject with grace and a gentle sweetness. Every time I read it, it gets better.
--- Maya B, Teen Board member

TO THE RESURRECTION STATION by Eleanor Arnason - The most fun I've had with a book perhaps ever, and one that had me thinking for a long, long time afterwards.
--- Charles Payseur

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson - It's a fantasy book that has a main character who is the most realistic character I have ever read. Enough said.
--- Christa O., Teen Board member.

ANIMAL FARM by George Orwell - It is awesome to read a book where you can learn a valuable history lesson while still enjoying every part in the story.
--- Aliza M., Teen Board member

WILLOW by Julia Hoban - This is a touching, realistic story about a teen who is a cutter. The narrative is rather graphic, but the story is one that needs to be told.
--- Christine Irvin

HATCHET by Gary Paulsen - This used to be one of my favorite books back in middle school. I tend not to reread books but I had to for this one. I loved that the realistic plot that made me sympathize with the protagonist, almost as if he were a real person.
--- Lynn W., Teen Board member

CASTLES BURNING: A Childs Life in War by Magda Denes - This is an eye-opening, horrifying, funny, witty and deeply emotional view of World War II from the eyes of nine-year-old Magda Denes. It encompasses the day-to-day experiences of war and far more than that, the wreckage after, in a brilliantly unique way that is far from platitudes and tired plots. It's a true novel, and one that is so worth reading.
--- Mary M., Teen Board member

THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME by Mark Haddon - It has one of the best narrations I have ever read.
--- Sydney L., Teen Board member

WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart - The writing was so beautiful it genuinely made me cry because of its sheer perfection.
--- Katherina T, Teen Board member

THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern - This is a masterpiece in the realm of magical realism --- the most beautiful piece of work I've ever read.

--- Cassandra H, Teen Board member

THE ODYSSEY by Homer - It deals with every aspect of the human condition.
--- Carly Silver

THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak - This compelling story pretty much left me speechless. It's a really amazing piece of work, so I recommend that everyone check it out!
--- Rachel D., Teen Board member.

And speaking of "ultimate" books, I have to mention a couple that I recently read and absolutely adored --- these two would undoubtedly make my personal list of favorite YA books, and that’s saying something. The first is THE TIGHTROPE WALKERS (Candlewick, March 24), a coming-of-age story that draws from author David Almond’s own memories from his childhood in northern England. Following Dom, his best friend Holly Stroud and bully Vincent McAlinden from elementary school through their late teen years, this is one of the most atmospheric, beautiful books I’ve read in a long time. The language was by far the highlight of THE TIGHTROPE WALKERS --- the dialect transported me to the British shipyards and the lyrical quality of the text captured the sometimes haunting atmosphere. However, each character was also beautifully developed; their complexity made them feel utterly human. As I’ve told teens and adults alike, go read this!

My other recent literary love is CHALLENGER DEEP by Neal Shusterman (HarperCollins, April 21), a story that’s told from the perspective of Caden Bosch, a teenager with schizophrenia. The chapters alternate between what’s going on in Caden’s head --- he’s on a ship with an untrustworthy captain, a mutinous parrot and an army of feral brains --- and his external reality, where his parents send him to a facility for teens dealing with various forms of mental illness. Neal masterfully constructed the novel --- Caden's two "worlds" continuously inform one another --- and the illustrations, drawn by Neal's son while he was in the depths of his own schizophrenia, added a deeper, more personal layer.
When I finished this novel I felt like I had swum into somebody else’s brain; it was an out-of-body experience. Powerful, moving, and original --- I cannot recommend this one enough.

So, now that your book wishlist has tripled in size, go start reading…outside!

Best wishes,

--- Shara Zaval (

P.S. - I snapped that middle picture during my lunch break today in Central Park. Yes, there's still snow on the ground, but as you can see, it's very quickly melting away...seasonal optimism! Ultimate Reading List - 2015 Update!

As mentioned in the opener, the Ultimate Reading List is one of our favorite features on --- it's a list of more than 400 titles that we think make perfect pleasure reading for teens. Our criteria: We looked for books that were compelling, beautifully written, pure fun, thought-provoking or edge-of-your-seat gripping; books that we would hand to someone and say, “read this!” We hope that you will use the Ultimate Reading List when selecting books for independent reading, and that schools will consult it when making suggestions for their students for summer reading.

Each year, we spend hours/days/weeks going through the list with fresh eyes, culling some titles and adding others. The latest update features titles through February 2015.

Click here to see the newly updated Ultimate Reading List!

Special Feature and Contest: THINGS I'LL NEVER SAY: Stories About Our Secret Selves, Edited by Ann Angel

A baby no one knows about. A dangerous hidden identity. Off-limits hookups. A parent whose problems your friends won’t understand. Everyone keeps secrets --- from themselves, from their families, from their friends --- and secrets have a habit of shaping the lives around them. Acclaimed author Ann Angel brings together 15 top young adult authors to explore some secrets dark, provocative, magical and heart-breaking in this unforgettable collection. We invite you to catch a glimpse by winning one of 50 hardcover copies of THINGS I'LL NEVER SAY --- but shhh! Don't tell! The deadline is Tuesday, March 17th at noon ET.

Click here to enter the contest.
Click here to read the excerpt.
Click here to read the review.
Click here to read about the book.


Click here to read the special feature!

Special Feature: SEEKER by Arwen Elys Dayton --- Read Our Review and See Comments from Teenreads Early Readers!

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.

NEW! Click here to read our interview with Arwen Elys Dayton.
Click here to learn more about SEEKER.
Click here to read an excerpt from SEEKER.
Click here to read the review of SEEKER.

We also had readers give us advance comments about the book, including Ali G. from Winslow, AR, who said she was "completely engrossed in the story of Quin, Shinobu, and John as they learned that life does not always turn out the way you expect." Daiane C. from Brooklyn said that she'd recommend the book to her friends who like The Hunger Games and A Song of Ice and Fire.

Click here to see all of our Readers' Comments for SEEKER.



Click here to read our SEEKER special feature!

Bookshelf: 20 Talk-worthy Teen Books --- Time to Start a Book Club!
Sure you love reading great YA books, but how about talking about them? Whether you're a member of your school's book club, thinking about starting a group of your own or just love chatting about your favorite tomes in the cafeteria, we're curated a list of 20 that are sure to inspire some lively discussion amongst you and your book-loving friends. Including classics like THE GIVER, memoirs like I AM MALALA, literary fiction like I'LL GIVE YOU THE SUN and graphic novels like BOXERS & SAINTS, we've rounded up some of the most compelling, riveting, complex, eye-opening and instigating volumes we could find. So start reading...and start talking!


Click here to read the bookshelf!

Teen Board

Teen Board Question: In honor of World Poetry Day on March 21st, we asked our Teen Board to write limericks about one of their favorite authors or books. We had a big variety of answers --- Alonzo D. wrote about Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Kate F. penned some rhymes in honor of Holly Black and Katherina T. was inspired by WE WERE LIARS. Click here to read all of their answers here --- perhaps you'll be inspired to write one of your own!

Reviews: Our Teen Board members tackled a huge number of reviews this month, and many couldn't have been more thrilled with their choices. Mary M. said that the conflict the protagonist of PAINLESS by S.A. Harazin faces "is internal and riveting," and Maggie L. said that BONE GAP by Laura Ruby was "definitely one of the best and most exciting books [she's] read in awhile."



Click here to learn more about the Teen Board!

Guest Blog Post --- J.L. Morin, Author of NATURE'S CONFESSION
Every book has an origin story; maybe someone saw a girl with green hair on the subway and thought she'd make a great protagonist, or dreamt about aliens going to prom and thought it would make for the most unforgettable dance --- or novel --- ever. NATURE'S CONFESSION has an origin story too, but it's a slightly more sobering one; J.L. Morin couldn't help but notice all of the pollution that surrounded her every day. Read her blog post for more details on her cli-fi dystopia and a few topics that we all should be thinking more about.
Click here to read the Teenreads blog!

Now in Stores: DEAD TO ME by Mary McCoy

DEAD TO ME by Mary McCoy (Historical Fiction)

"Don't believe anything they say."

Those were the last words that Annie spoke to Alice before turning her back on their family and vanishing without a trace. Alice spent four years waiting and wondering when the impossibly glamorous sister she idolized would return to her--and what their Hollywood-insider parents had done to drive her away.

When Annie does turn up, the blond, broken stranger lying in a coma has no answers for her. But Alice isn't a kid anymore, and this time she won't let anything stand between her and the truth, no matter how ugly. The search for those who beat Annie and left her for dead leads Alice into a treacherous world of tough-talking private eyes, psychopathic movie stars, and troubled starlets--and onto the trail of a young runaway who is the sole witness to an unspeakable crime. What this girl knows could shut down a criminal syndicate and put Annie's attacker behind bars--if Alice can find her first. And she isn't the only one looking.

Evoking classic film noir, debut novelist Mary McCoy brings the dangerous glamour of Hollywood's Golden Age to life, where the most decadent parties can be the deadliest, and no drive into the sunset can erase the crimes of past.

Click here to read the review!

Now in Stores: THE UNLIKELY HERO OF ROOM 13B by Teresa Toten
THE UNLIKELY HERO OF ROOM 13B by Teresa Toten (Young Adult Fiction)

As a young adult in wartime Vienna, Georg Rauch helped his mother hide dozens of Jews from the Gestapo behind false walls in their top-floor apartment and arrange for their safe transport out of the country. His family was among the few who worked underground to resist Nazi rule. Then came the day he was drafted into Hitler's army and shipped out to fight on the Eastern front as part of the German infantry --- in spite of his having confessed his own Jewish ancestry. Thus begins the incredible journey of a nineteen year old thrust unwillingly into an unjust war, who must use his smarts, skills, and bare-knuckled determination to stay alive in the trenches, avoid starvation and exposure during the brutal Russian winter, survive more than one Soviet labor camp, and somehow find his way back home. Unlikely Warrior is Rauch's true account of this extraordinary adventure.

Click here to read the review!

Books On Screen

This March, Tris and Four are back on the big screen! In Insurgent, the two are on the run from Jeanine and the rest of the Erudite faction. Together they learn the secrets of their world and race against time to protect its future. Based on Veronica Roth's thrilling bestseller, this is definitely a sequal YA fans are going to want to see!

Or if you're more into fairy tales, check out Disney's new live-action Cinderella. In this retelling, a poor servant stepdaughter just wants to go to the ball, but needs a little help --- and some classic glass slippers --- from an old beggar woman with a magic touch!

So get out there this March and see some of these great books on screen!

While you wait for Insurgent to come out, check out some cool Insurgent-inspired links below!

Click here to watch the Insurgent trailer.
Cick here to check out the official movie site.
Click here to check out the official Twitter.
Click here to learn how to make some delicious Divergent-inspired recipes.
Click here to find out what faction you should join



Click here to read our Books on Screen feature

March's Cool and New Roundup

In March’s Cool and New roundup, we have THE TIGHTROPE WALKERS by David Almond, which tells of the rich inner world of a British boy teetering on the edge of manhood; SHADOW SCALE by Rachel Hartman, the sequel to the much-loved SERAPHINA, where an epic battle breaks out between humans and dragons; and VANISHING GIRLS, the new novel by bestselling author Lauren Oliver about two sisters inexorably altered by a terrible accident.

Among the paperback titles released this month, we have THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO by Gae Polisner, the story of Francesca, whose guilt keeps her stuck in the past; BEYOND MAGENTA: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin, featuring six honest and inspiring interviews with transgender or gender-neutral young adults; and WHAT IF I’M AN ATHEIST? by David Seidman, a thoughtful, one-of-a-kind guide that offers answers to questions about atheism and nonbelief.

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

Check Out Our Latest Reviews!

NEW! EMBASSY ROW #1: All Fall Down by Ally Carter (Mystery, Thriller, Young Adult Fiction)

Grace Blakely is absolutely certain of three things: 1. She is not crazy. 2. Her mother was murdered. 3. Someday she is going to find the killer and make him pay. As certain as Grace is about these facts, nobody else believes her -- so there's no one she can completely trust. Not her grandfather, a powerful ambassador. Not her new friends, who all live on Embassy Row. Not Alexei, the Russian boy next door, who is keeping his eye on Grace for reasons she neither likes nor understands. But they can't control Grace --- her past has come back to hunt her, and if she doesn't stop it, Grace isn't the only one who will get hurt. --- Reviewed by Kate F., Teen Board member.

NEW! BONE GAP by Laura Ruby (Young Adult Fiction)

Roza is a beautiful girl who is taken from a quiet midwestern town and imprisoned by a mysterious man. Finn, the only witness, cannot forgive himself for being unable to identify her kidnapper. As we follow them through their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents and their uncertain futures, Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery and regret and forgiveness. --- Reviewed by Maggie L., Teen Board member.

NEW! VANISHING GIRLS by Lauren Oliver (Thriller, Young Adult Fiction)

Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara's beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged. When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks she's just playing around. But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished, too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked. Now Nick has to find her sister before it's too late. --- Reviewed by Christi Sheehan.

NEW! SHADOW SCALE by Rachel Hartman (Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction 12+)

The kingdom of Goredd: a world where humans and dragons share life with an uneasy balance, and those few who are both human and dragon must hide the truth. Seraphina is one of these, part girl, part dragon, who is reluctantly drawn into the politics of her world. When war breaks out between the dragons and humans, she must travel the lands to find those like herself --- for she has an inexplicable connection to all of them, and together they will be able to fight the dragons in powerful, magical ways. But there's another half dragon who can creep into people's minds and take them over --- and he's determined to stop her. --- Reviewed by Lynn W., Teen Board member.

NEW! PAINLESS by S.A. Harazin (Romance, Young Adult Fiction 14+)

Seventeen-year-old David has anhydrosis --- or CIPA for short --- and is unable to feel pain. He lives with his elderly grandmother, who's now dying. All David wants to do is grow old, beat the odds, find love, travel the world and see something spectacular. And he wants to find his parents --- while he still can. --- Reviewed by Mary M., Teen Board member.

NEW! HOW TO WIN AT HIGH SCHOOL by Owen Matthews (Fiction)

Adam thinks that starting as a junior in a new high school is exactly the right time to change things. He brainstorms with his best friend, Brian: What will it take for him to take over Nixon Collegiate? Adam searches for the A-listers' weak spot and strikes gold when he gets queen bee Sara Bryant to pay him for doing her physics homework. One part nerd, two parts badass, Adam ditches his legit job and turns to full-time cheating. His clients? All the Nixon Collegiate gods and goddesses. Reviewed by Pranshu A., Teen Board Member.

NEW! THE THIRD TWIN by CJ Omololu (Young Adult Thriller)

When they were little, Lexi and her twin, Ava, made up a third sister, Alicia. If something broke? Alicia. Cookies got eaten? Alicia. Alicia was always to blame for everything. Now that the girls are seniors, they use Alicia as their cover to date boys who are hot but not dating material. Now one of the guys Alicia went out with is dead, and Lexi wants to stop the game. But when another boy is killed, the DNA evidence and surveillance photos point to only one suspect --- Alicia. As she runs from the cops, Lexi has to find the truth, because either Ava is a killer . . . or Alicia is real. Reviewed by Maggie L., Teen Board Member.

NEW! LOVE & PROFANITY edited by Nick Healy (Fiction)

LOVE & PROFANITY is a collection of 40 short and unforgettable true stories from writers famous and on-the-rise. They highlight the intensity of daily life, transformative moments arising from the mundane, universal truths and teenagers in full splendor and horror. Reviewed by Maya B., Teen Board Member.

NEW! THIRTEEN by Tom Hoyle (Fiction)

Thirteen boys were born at midnight in London on the stroke of the new millennium. Today, 12 of them are dead. They were executed by a cult called "The People" under the leadership of a dark, ruthless man named Coron. The People have tracked down all but one of the boys and will do anything to reach their last victim, 13-year-old Adam. Adam doesn't know he's in danger. Raised by adoptive parents, he has never known his real birthday, and he has no idea that his days are numbered. When a cult deserter named Simon tries to warn him, Adam can hardly believe what he is facing. Reviewed by Cassandra H., Teen Board Member.

NEW! THE WINNER'S CRIME by Marie Rutkoski (Fiction)

A royal wedding is what most girls dream about. It means one celebration after another: balls, fireworks and revelry until dawn. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement: that she agreed to marry the crown prince in exchange for Arin’s freedom. But can Kestrel trust Arin? Can she even trust herself? For Kestrel is becoming very good at deception. She’s working as a spy in the court. If caught, she’ll be exposed as a traitor to her country. Yet she can’t help searching for a way to change her ruthless world...and she is close to uncovering a shocking secret. Reviewed by Brianna Robinson.


March Poll

March is a great time of year to take a vacation! Which of these fictional locations would you most like to visit?

  • Diagon Alley --- Where else can you buy a broomstick and magic wand?
  • Middle Earth --- Elves, hobbits AND dwarfs? Definitely the best "people watching."
  • Nantucket --- like the characters in NANTUCKET BLUE, you can spend all your time at a beautiful beach
  • Pemberley --- a beautiful country estate with more gardens than you can imagine? Yes please!
  • Narnia --- Perfect for anyone who's wanted to talk to animals.
  • Cruise Ship --- You can make like the characters from THE LIVING and go on a beautiful cruise --- but without the storm.
  • Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory --- This would definitely be the tastiest vacation option.

Last month, we asked about your ideal winter reading spot. This is definitely a heat-seeking bunch --- "in front of a fireplace" came in at number one, with 48% of the votes, while "in an igloo" came in last place, earning just 1% of the votes! I guess the key to winter reading is to ignore, rather than embrace, the weather, huh? To see the full results of the February poll, 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 is our latest featured title:

EMPIRE: The Chronicles of the Invaders, Book 2 by John Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard (Adventure, Science Fiction)

In EMPIRE, John Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard continue the journey of Syl and Paul as they fight to regain planet Earth from a ruthless alien species. Light years from Earth and millions of miles apart, the two must find a way to reveal the horrifying truth behind the Empire and save all that they hold dear from the hunger of the Others.


Click here for more adult books you want to read!

connect with us twitterfacebook