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Early April 2015
April 10, 2015

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Celebrate National Poetry Month with

Happy April, Teen readers!

Since it's National Poetry Month, I'm going to tell you something right now --- I think that novels in verse are genius, plain and simple.

Why, you may ask? Because they help bridge one of the biggest false binaries among book lovers everywhere. You know those unnecessary divisions I'm talking about --- just like there are some people who only read nonfiction (news flash: novels reveal truths, too!), refuse to pick up a YA book after they reach a certain age (just because it stars a teenager doesn't mean it's not well-written!) or automatically turn down a book of a certain genre (I promise that a little science fiction, historical fiction or contemporary realistic fiction won't bite), a lot of people turn their nose up at poetry as a rule. It doesn't matter the context --- no prose, no thank you.

And honestly, I kind of get it. We're used to seeing complete sentences with a subject, verb and object. We're used to seeing periods at the end of sentences (or exclamation points if we're feeling frisky), properly placed commas and semicolons to break up the monotony a bit. Breaking down these logical formations of language can be kind of...uncomfortable. Not only do we have to take a second to interpret what's going on, but we're probably going to feel a lot more once we do. When words are free to flow in a less contained manner, they tend to be a lot more emotional.

And then there's just the reality that a lot of readers love fully-fledged stories. Sure, poems can be told from the perspective of a character, have a setting and convey some kind of action, but there's not the same kind of plot development as there is in a 300-page book (unless we're talking about something like THE ODYSSEY, of course). You don't get to delve into characters' lives and watch them grow, be surprised by unexpected twists or linger in a beautiful world. Usually in poetry, there simply isn't enough space for that.

Which brings us back to novels in verse, the happy medium. Characters you get to know and adore (or maybe hate, or feel intrigued by)? Check! A fully developed universe that you can spend time in and become a part of? Check! A storyline that changes over time, that leaves you wanting to turn the next page to see what's going to happen next? Check!

It just so happens that these stories aren't conveyed in prose, and generally it's for a good reason. Jacqueline Woodson, author of the National Book Award-winning memoir in verse BROWN GIRL DREAMING, said she wrote her book as a series of poems because it felt like a more honest way to portray her memories. She didn't remember her childhood as a continuous narrative --- just as a series of bursts --- and it so it made sense to write about it in this slightly more disjointed manner. Sometimes poetry better reflects the speech of the characters --- in an interview with the blog Middle Grade Manifesto in 2012, Caroline Starr Rose said she chose to use verse in her novel MAY B. because it reflected the spare language that her characters, frontier women on a Kansas homestead, would use. And as Ellen Hopkins said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, she likes to write in verse because "it takes away enough of the extraneous description and language that it puts you on the page, so it’s more like living the story than being told a story."

So, whether you're already a fan of poetry (hooray!) or you're in that "I already get enough Robert Frost in school, thanks" camp, check out our Novels in Verse Bookshelf. We think it's the perfect way to experience a sometimes intimidating genre and that you'll be pleasantly surprised. After all, teen board member Emily P. said she'd recommend one of the books on the shelf, AUDACITY, "to anyone," and last time I checked, "anyone" included non-poetry fans, too ;).

For other poetry-themed features on Teenreads, check out Teen Board member Mary M.'s blog post on a series of THE CATCHER IN THE RYE-inspired poems she wrote for a school project, and take our poll, asking you whether you're more into romantic sonnets or thoughtful Haikus, slam poetry or witty limericks.

And if, despite my moaning and tugging and poem-ing out, you're just not feeling the genre, don't worry. We have tons of other awesome things going on this month, including several amazing contests and book reviews aplenty.

There's also our Teenreads Fantasy Book Cover Survey where your answers could influence the future direction of fantasy book covers. Finish it and you can enter to win a prize, which includes a $100 gift certificate to the bookstore of your choice or one of 25 copies of a fantasy book! And may we ask you to share this link with your friends (aged 12-29) as well? We want to hear from as many of you as possible!

So happy reading, whether poetry or prose, as long as they're words, anything goes! (I know, I'm going to win a poetry Pulitzer myself any day now).

--- Shara Zaval (

P.S. For those of you who shop online, if you use the store links below, our site gets a small affiliate fee on your purchases. We would appreciate your considering this!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound


YA Fantasy Cover Survey --- Weigh in and Win!
In this survey, we’re looking for thoughts on 10 YA fantasy book covers from readers aged 12-29. Once you’ve completed the survey, you’ll be eligible to win either one of 25 copies of a fantasy book (we’ll surprise you with the title) or our Grand Prize: a $100 gift certificate to the bookstore of your choice! We’re looking forward to seeing the results, which could influence how covers of YA fantasy titles will look in the future. Thanks for sharing your opinions!

Click here to take the survey!

Special Feature and Contest: DON'T STAY UP LATE by R.L. Stine

R.L. Stine has been called the Stephen King of children's and young adult literature, and for good reason; he's sold 350 million copies of his horror stories, including the legendary Goosebumps series books. In other words, he's responsible for keeping a lot of kids up at night!

He's back at it with DON'T STAY UP LATE, the first book in his terrifying teen series Fear Street in nearly 20 years, and quite possibly the scariest one yet. In DON'T STAY UP LATE, Lisa takes a new babysitting job as a way to distract herself from the terrible car accident that killed her father and put her and her mother in the hospital. However, this seemingly easy gig turns eerie when Lisa begins to question who --- or what --- she is babysitting.

If you're ready for a read that's sure to get your heart racing, enter to win one of 25 ARCS of DON'T STAY UP LATE by April 20th at noon ET! But if you win, take our advice: read it with the lights on!

Click here to enter the contest.

Click here to read our interview with R.L. Stine.

Click here to read an excerpt from DON'T STAY UP LATE.

Click here to learn more about DON'T STAY UP LATE.

Click here to read a review of DON'T STAY UP LATE.

Spring Fling Contest! Enter Now to WIN BOOKS!

Spring is finally here, and with it comes warmer weather, blooming flowers...and the chance to win some great new YA books! From now through Monday, May 4th at noon ET, readers will have the chance to win one of our five Spring Fling prize packages, which includes one copy of each of our featured books and a signature tote bag.

Our featured Spring Fling titles are:

  • 99 DAYS by Katie Cotugno
  • I WAS HERE by Gayle Forman
  • LIES I TOLD by Michelle Zink
  • THE ORPHAN QUEEN by Jodi Meadows
  • THE PROMISE OF AMAZING by Robin Constantine
  • THE SECRETS OF ATTRACTION by Robin Constantine
  • VANISHING GIRLS by Lauren Oliver
Click here to enter our Spring Fling giveaway! Ultimate Reading List - 2015 Update!

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 Ultimate Reading List.
Click here to see a PDF of each title.
New! Click here to see a PDF of each title with ISBNs and book descriptions.


Bookshelf: 20 Novels in Verse to Celebrate National Poetry Month!
Poetry comes in all sorts of different forms --- there are pithy limericks, romantic Shakespearean sonnets, epics that span hundreds of pages, and even slam poems, specifically designed to be spoken aloud.

At, we’re particularly partial to the verse novel, which encompasses all of the best things about standard novels --- strong characters, interesting plot lines, beautiful description --- but does so with spare, rich verses, rather than with prose. Poetry lovers can find their niche here, as can reluctant readers, as can those who simply want a wonderful story.

We’ve rounded up 20 of our favorite young adult and middle grade "verse" novels that have been published in the past few years, those addressing a specific moment in history like SILVER PEOPLE: Voices from the Panama Canal by Margarita Engle, to those delving into deeply personal issues like RUMBLE by Ellen Hopkins. Whether poetry is your favorite genre or you’d rather read your parents’ tax forms, we guarantee you that you’ll find something you love in this bookshelf.

Click here to read the bookshelf!

On the Blog

Infographic - Books vs. Movies: Check out cool facts about classic children's tales and their popular movie adaptations, courtesy of the British costume company Fancy Dress Ball.

Guest Post by Janet Gurtler --- THE TRUTH ABOUT US: Janet Gurtler talks about how her own experiences volunteering at soup kitchens influenced THE TRUTH ABOUT US.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE, National Poetry Month Style: Teen Board member Mary M. writes a series of poems that celebrate this classic coming of age novel.


Click here to read the Teenreads blog!

Teen Board

Teen Board Question: April 4th is "tell a lie day," but we twisted it to "untell a lie day," and asked our Teen Board members to confess a lie they told about a book. We had a lot of great answers --- Kate F. told a friend THE FAULT IN OUR STARS "wasn't really all that sad" to get her to read the book, and Aliza M. secretly finished the Harry Potter series before her dad! Click here to read all of their answers!

Reviews: The Teen Board members loved their recent round of books. Christa O. said that the protagonist of SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA by Becky Albertalli is "one of the most realistic characters I have ever read," and Aspen R. called BACKLASH by Sarah Darer Littman "an amazing novel" that "shows you just how your words and actions can affect people."



Click here to learn more about the Teen Board!

Now in Stores: BLACK DOVE, WHITE RAVEN by Elizabeth Wein
BLACK DOVE, WHITE RAVEN by Elizabeth Wein (Historical Fiction)

Emilia and Teo's lives changed in a fiery, terrifying instant when a bird strike brought down the plane their stunt pilot mothers were flying. Teo's mother died immediately, but Em's survived, determined to raise Teo according to his late mother's wishes-in a place where he won't be discriminated against because of the color of his skin. But in 1930s America, a white woman raising a black adoptive son alongside a white daughter is too often seen as a threat.

Seeking a home where her children won't be held back by ethnicity or gender, Rhoda brings Em and Teo to Ethiopia, and all three fall in love with the beautiful, peaceful country. But that peace is shattered by the threat of war with Italy, and teenage Em and Teo are drawn into the conflict. Will their devotion to their country, its culture and people, and each other be their downfall or their salvation?

In the tradition of her award-winning and bestselling Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein brings us another thrilling and deeply affecting novel that explores the bonds of friendship, the resilience of young pilots, and the strength of the human spirit.

Click here to learn more about the book.
Click here to read the review.


Now in Stores: ASK THE DARK by Henry Turner

ASK THE DARK by Henry Turner (Fiction, Suspense)

Billy Zeets has a story to tell. About being a vandal and petty thief. About missing boys and an elusive killer. And about what happens if a boy who breaks all the rules is the only person who can piece together the truth.

Gripping and powerful, this masterful debut novel comes to vivid life through the unique voice of a hero as unlikely as he is unforgettable.

Click here to learn more about the book.


Books On Screen
This April, fall in love with the story of Luke and Sophia in The Longest Ride. Based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks, this movie spans generations to show two intertwining love stories. Sophia, a young artist, and Luke, a former bull riding champion, meet an old man whose deep romance with his beloved wife inspire the young couple.

And if you're feeling humor more than romance? Make some popcorn, get in your pajamas and watch Paddington, the story of the hilarious, accident-prone bear that is now available on DVD.
Click here to read our Books on Screen feature!

April's Cool and New Roundup

Our April roundup includes CHALLENGER DEEP by Neal Shusterman, which deftly delves into the mind of a teenage boy with schizophrenia; I WILL ALWAYS WRITE BACK: How One Letter Changed Two Lives by Martin Ganda, Caitlin Alifirenka and Liz Welch, a true story about a six-year epistolary correspondence between a girl from the United States and a boy from Zimbabwe; and AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir, a debut dystopia inspired by ancient Rome where a slave becomes a spy in order to save her brother.

Among the paperback titles released this month, we have POPULAR: How a Geek in Pearls Discovered the Secret to Confidence by Maya Van Wagenen, where a middle school girl followed a 1950s popularity guide for a year to see if the advice would work in the 21st century; OPENLY STRAIGHT by Bill Konigsberg, a “coming-out-again” story where Rafe, who wants to be more than his sexuality, initially hides the fact that he’s gay from his new boarding school classmates; and THE ART OF SECRETS by James Klise, in which Saba’s classmates rally around her after her apartment burns down, but a mysterious painting changes everything.

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

Check Out Our Latest Reviews!

New! HOLD ME CLOSER: The Tiny Cooper Story by David Levithan (Young Adult Fiction)

Watch out, ex-boyfriends, and get out of the way, homophobic coaches. Tiny Cooper has something to say --- and he’s going to say it in song. Filled with honesty, humor and “big, lively, belty” musical numbers, HOLD ME CLOSER is the no-holds-barred (and many-bars-held) entirety of the beloved musical first introduced in WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON, the award-winning bestseller by John Green and David Levithan. Tiny Cooper is finally taking center stage...and the world will never be the same again. Reviewed by Lexibex V., Teen Board Member.

New! THE START OF ME AND YOU by Emery Lord (Young Adult Fiction, Romance)

It’s been a year since it happened --- since Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school...and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her --- the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club --- simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live? --- Reviewed by Brianna Robinson.

New! THE KIDNEY HYPOTHETICAL: Or How to Ruin Your Life in Seven Days by Lisa Yee (Young Adult Fiction)

Higgs Boson Bing has seven days left before his perfect high school career is completed. Then it's on to Harvard to fulfill the fantasy portrait of success that he and his parents have cultivated for the past four years. Four years of academic achievement. Four years of debate championships. Two years of dating the most popular girl in school. But something's not right. And when Higgs's girlfriend presents him with a seemingly innocent hypothetical question about whether or not he'd give her a kidney...the exposed fault lines reach straight down to the foundations of his life. --- Reviewed by Rachel D., Teen Board member.

New! BACKLASH by Sarah Darer Littman (Young Adult Fiction, Social Media)

Lara just got told off on Facebook. She thought that Christian liked her, that he was finally going to ask her to his school's homecoming dance. It's been a long time since Lara's felt this bad, this depressed. She's worked really hard since starting high school to be happy and make new friends. But no one realized just how far Christian's harsh comments would push Lara. As online life collides with real life, the truth starts to come together and the backlash is even more devastating than than anyone could have imagined. --- Reviewed by Aspen R., Teen Board member.

New! I HATE MYSELFIE: A Collection of Essays by Shane Dawson (Essays, Humor,Memoir)

Shane steps away from his larger-than-life Internet persona and takes us deep into the experiences of an eccentric and introverted kid, who, by observing the strange world around him, developed a talent that would inspire millions of fans. In this collection of 18 personal essays, Shane explores how messy life can get when you’re growing up and how rewarding it can feel when the clean-up is (pretty much) done. --- Reviewed by Cheyenne C., Teen Board Member

New! LITTLE PEACH by Peggy Kern (Young Adult Fiction, Social Issues)

When Michelle runs away from her drug-addicted mother, she has just enough money to make it to New York City, where she hopes to move in with a friend. But once she arrives at the bustling Port Authority, she is confronted with the terrifying truth: She is alone and out of options. Then she meets Devon, a good-looking, well-dressed guy who emerges from the crowd armed with a kind smile, a place for her to stay and eyes that seem to understand exactly how she feels. But Devon is not who he seems to be, and soon Michelle finds herself engulfed in the world of child prostitution, where he becomes her "Daddy" and she is his "Little Peach." Reviewed by Cheritta J., Teen Board Member.

NEW! DREAM A LITTLE DREAM written by Kerstin Gier, translated by Anthea Bell (Young Adult Supernatural Fiction)

Mysterious doors with lizard-head knobs. Talking stone statues. A crazy girl with a hatchet. Yes, Liv’s dreams have been pretty weird lately. Especially the one where she’s in a graveyard at night, watching four boys conduct dark magic rituals. The strangest part is that Liv recognizes the boys in her dream. They’re classmates from her new school in London, the school where she’s starting over because her mom has moved them to a new country (again). But what's really scaring Liv is that the dream boys seem to know things about her in real life, things they couldn't possibly know --- unless they actually are in her dreams. Luckily, Liv never could resist a good mystery, and all four of those boys are pretty cute. Reviewed by Maggie L., Teen Board Member.

NEW! WHEN YOU LEAVE by Monica Ropal (Fiction)

Cass has a theory: everyone eventually leaves. Her father walked out, her mother is starting a new family and she almost lost her best friend to cancer. As Cass transfers to a new school, Cooper takes an interest in her. Once Cass lets her guard down, the unthinkable happens: Cooper is mysteriously murdered. She is determined to find answers and must go through her list one by one until somebody cracks. Reviewed by Corinne Fox.

NEW! THE FIVE STAGES OF ANDREW BRAWLEY by Shaun David Hutchinson (Young Adult Fiction)

Andrew "Drew" Brawley was supposed to die that night, just like the rest of his family. Now he lives in the hospital, serving food in the cafeteria, hanging out with the nurses, sleeping in a forgotten supply closet. Drew blends in to near invisibility, hiding from his past, his guilt and those who are trying to find him. His only solace is in the world of the superhero he’s created --- Patient F. Then, one night, Rusty is wheeled into the ER, half his body burned by hateful classmates. Rusty’s agony calls out to Drew like a beacon, pulling them both together though all their pain and grief. Reviewed by Harman K., Teen Board Member.

NEW! SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA by Becky Albertalli (Fiction)

When an email falls into the wrong hands, 16-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier is at risk of having his secret thrust into the spotlight. Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he's pushed out --- without alienating his friends, compromising himself or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he's never met. Reviewed by Christa O., Teen Board Member.


April Poll

April is National Poetry Month. Which kind of poetry would you rather read?

  • A novel in verse --- It perfectly balances lyrical language with great characters and plot development.
  • A pithy limerick --- Who doesn't like a little humor with their poetry?
  • A classic epic poem --- You could analyze "The Odyssey" and "Paradise Lost" for hours and still find more to unpack.
  • A clever rhyme --- Who doesn't love Dr. Seuss?
  • A Shakespearean sonnet --- The master of love poetry is perfect if you feel like daydreaming about your crush.
  • Slam poetry - Why read poetry when you can listen?

Last month, we asked which fictional locations would you most like to visit. Diagon Alleycame in at number one, with 35% of the votes, while Middle Earth and Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory tied for second with 23% of the votes! To see the full results of the March 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 are our latest featured titles:

DON'T TRY TO FIND ME by Holly Brown (Suspense, Psychological Thriller)

Don’t try to find me. Though the message on the kitchen white board is written in Marley’s hand, her mother Rachel knows there has to be some other explanation. Marley would never run away. As the days pass and it sinks in that the impossible has occurred, Rachel and her husband Paul are informed that the police have “limited resources.” If they want their 14-year-old daughter back, they will have to find her themselves.

THE UNRAVELING OF MERCY LOUIS by Keija Parssinen (Suspense, Psychological Thriller)

Mercy Louis, the star of the championship girls’ basketball team, seems destined for greatness, but the road out of town is riddled with obstacles. At the periphery of her world floats team manager Illa Stark, who is spellbound by Mercy’s beauty and talent. But a note discovered in Mercy’s gym locker reveals that her life may not be as perfect as it appears. The last day of school brings the disturbing discovery, and as summer unfolds and the police investigate, every girl becomes a suspect.

Click here for more books you want to read!

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