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Mid August 2015
August 14, 2015
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Untouched vs. Utterly Mangled: What a Much-Loved Book Looks Like

Hi Teenreaders,

Saturday, August 1st, was a tough day for my copy of AVENUE OF MYSTERIES by John Irving (11/03/2015). I had just arrived at the beach in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, and was about to open my bag to retrieve the galley, feeling content at the mere idea of reading an all-time favorite author in one of the most beautiful places in the world. My daydreams were zapped, though, by a very mischievous and hungry raccoon; he ran over to my bag, proceeded to open it for me, and embarked on a mad hunt for nuts, berries and small animals. Chaos ensued --- my friend and I attempted to run away with the bag, and I secured a few raccoon scratches in the process (and a whole NINE SHOTS when I got back to the U.S --- the rabies vaccine is no joke). You can see the brazen little guy on the top left --- he’s quickly discovering that my hairbrush is not edible.

Fast forward one hour later: I decide to abandon AVENUE OF MYSTERIES for a quick dip in the ocean, tasking my friend, who was reading on a log, to watch my things. When I returned 10 minutes later, everything was soaked --- the tide had risen at record pace, and my friend, absorbed in her own story, hadn’t even noticed. My fresh, crisp galley had transformed into a soaked, crumbly mess, its pages so curled and distorted that you couldn’t even read the back cover (see the picture above).

And while I’d probably be embarrassed to lend this withering copy to a friend, I’ve got to be honest: I actually appreciate that this absurd series of events left AVENUE OF MYSTERIES in such shambles. Why?

First, “sentimentality magee” might as well be my middle name, and I love when my books serve as both stories and mementos. For instance, when I see the brown splotches sullying my copy of HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE, I remember scarfing down mugs full of Edy’s Mint Cookie Ice Cream as I raced through the pages, knowing my sister could snatch it away from me at any moment. And when I noticed my best friend’s notes scrawled across the inside cover of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD a couple of months ago, I was instantly brought back to eighth grade English class, where I spent as much time giggling as I did discussing classic literature. Similarly, I know that my mangled copy of AVENUE OF MYSTERIES will forever transport me to the idyllic beaches --- and fearless wildlife --- of Costa Rica’s Pacific coast.

Second, I think a visibly used book is a bit symbolic of the whole reading experience (stop rolling your eyes and hear me out). Sure, a writer’s delicate prose might inspire a slew of readers no matter their circumstances, but it will affect the reader recovering from a difficult break-up differently than the reader on a one-way flight to Japan; it will affect the 17-year-old differently than the 87-year-old. People bring their perspective --- where they are, both physically and mentally --- to the books they’re reading, and that influences their experience as much as the words themselves.

So what are your feelings on leaving books unbent, untouched and immaculate? Are you a book protector, leaving your favorite volumes in perfect condition for generations to come, or do you unabashedly leave your mark, letting your experience mold your book just as much as your book molds you? Let me know at

And now time to enjoy the rest of the newsletter (which includes our Back to School Book Bag and THE DEAD HOUSE contests)! If you print it out, you know my thoughts --- feel free to smear it with whatever you please!

--- Shara Zaval (

P.S. Curious about the photo above in the center? It’s the window display from a bookstore in San Jose. Looks like Costa Rican teens love boy bands --- and Jennifer Armentrout --- just as much as American ones!


Back to School Book Bag Giveaway

Even though summer is winding down and a deep-seated dread may be beginning to settle in your stomach, has something for you to celebrate the back-to-school season. From now until Monday, September 21st at noon ET, we are giving away a copy of each of the titles listed below to five lucky winners, along with a Teenreads tote bag.

This year's featured titles include:

BECOMING MARIA: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx by Sonia Manzano
COURT OF FIVES by Kate Elliott
FRIENDS FOR LIFE by Andrew Norriss


Click here to enter our Back to School Book Bag Giveaway!


Special Feature and Giveaway: THE DEAD HOUSE by Dawn Kurtagich

It doesn't matter if it's 11AM or 11PM --- at both times you have the same personality, the same eye color, the same body, the same wants and values. But what if, as soon as it got dark, you turned into someone different? An alter-ego who did whatever he or she wanted, and your day self could do nothing to stop it?

That’s the backstory of the protagonist in Dawn Kurtagich’s debut novel THE DEAD HOUSE --- when the sun dips below the horizon, Carly Johnson transforms into Kaitlyn. And Kaitlyn is the main suspect for the Elmbridge High fire, which killed three students and caused Carly’s disappearance. Now, 20 years later, Kaitlyn’s diary has been found, and THE DEAD HOUSE shows us all of its gritty details, along with video footage, psychiatric reports and witness testimonials.

For a chance to win one of 40 copies of this terrifying debut, which the reviewer calls "a masterful novel that will surely give readers nightmares," enter our contest by September 24th at noon!

Click here to read the review of THE DEAD HOUSE.
Click here to read an interview with Dawn Kurtagich.
Click here to read an excerpt of THE DEAD HOUSE.
Click here to enter to win a copy of THE DEAD HOUSE.

Click here to see the special feature and contest for THE DEAD HOUSE!


The More the Merrier: Anthology Bookshelf

"The More the Merrier" seems to capture the spirit of summer, doesn't it? You and your friends hanging out poolside, grilling burgers at a BBQ, playing frisbee in the is the season for group activities.

This line of thinking has invaded our literary proclivities, too...why read a book written by one author when you can read one written by 3, 7, 10 or even 20? Below, we rounded up 20 multi-author anthologies that range the entire spectrum from heartmelting romance to shake-in-your-sandals horror, some of them several years old, some of them brand new and some that are hitting the shelves in a couple of months!

Discover the topsy-turvy worlds of UNNATURAL CREATURES: STORIES SELECTED edited by Neil Gaiman or flash back in time with the harrowing poetry of ABOVE THE DREAMLESS DEAD: World War I in Poetry and Comics edited by Chris Duffy. Expect these tales to agree, conflict, and deviate from one another; with so many voices thrown in the mix, you’re guaranteed a wild ride.

View the entire Anthology bookshelf here!


Interview with Jeremy Scott, author of THE ABLES

Phillip Sallinger is blind. He also has telekinesis, and can move objects with his mind. Phillip is just one of the disabled teen superheroes in Jeremy Scott’s debut YA novel, THE ABLES, which features four friends in the Special Education program at a superhero high school who have to save the world from impending evil. Below, we talk to Jeremy about his inspiration for the book, his favorite superhero and what exactly fills the old suitcases he has lying around his house.

Click here to read the review of THE ABLES.

Click here to read the interview with Jeremy Scott.


Side by Side: Survival

Whether you went camping under the stars, learned how to tie knots in Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts or even just navigated the wilderness that is high school, you've had to deal with survival skills at some point in your life.

But the characters in Melinda Braun's and Paul Griffin's new books take survival to a whole new level. In Braun's STRANDED, Emily and a group of campers are forced to face the world's most violent enemy: Mother Nature. In Griffin's ADRIFT, new friends decide to take a stolen boat out on the Atlantic, but not all of them return to shore.

We decided to ask Melinda and Paul some questions about their books and the unique set of skills it takes to survive in the wild --- check out their answers!

Click here to see the Side by Side!


Now in Stores: ENCHANTED AIR: Two Cultures, Two Wings by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Edel Rodriguez

ENCHANTED AIR: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir by Margarita Engle, with illustrations by Edel Rodriguez (Autobiography, Culture)

In this poetic memoir, Margarita Engle, the first Latina woman to receive a Newbery Honor, tells of growing up as a child of two cultures during the Cold War.

Margarita is a girl from two worlds. Her heart lies in Cuba, her mother’s tropical island country, a place so lush with vibrant life that it seems like a fairy tale kingdom. But most of the time she lives in Los Angeles, lonely in the noisy city and dreaming of the summers when she can take a plane through the enchanted air to her beloved island. Words and images are her constant companions, friendly and comforting when the children at school are not.

Then a revolution breaks out in Cuba. Margarita fears for her far-away family. When the hostility between Cuba and the United States erupts at the Bay of Pigs Invasion, Margarita’s worlds collide in the worst way possible. How can the two countries she loves hate each other so much? And will she ever get to visit her beautiful island again?

Now in Stores: DROWNED CITY: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans by Don Brown

DROWNED CITY: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans by Don Brown (Graphic Novel, Historical, Youth Fiction)

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina's monstrous winds and surging water overwhelmed the protective levees around low-lying New Orleans, Louisiana. Eighty percent of the city flooded, in some places under 20 feet of water. Property damages across the Gulf Coast topped $100 billion, and 1833 people lost their lives. The riveting tale of this historic storm and the drowning of an American city is one of selflessness, heroism and courage --- and also of incompetence, racism and criminality.

Don Brown’s kinetic art and as-it-happens narrative capture both the tragedy and triumph of one of the worst natural disasters in American history. A portion of the proceeds from this book has been donated to Habitat for Humanity New Orleans.


On the Blog

A Literal Walk in the Park: Teenreads intern Sydney Scott explores Central Park through the lens of children's literature. Visiting famous landmarks, she realizes the close connection between literature and location.

Interview with Mary Weber, author of the Storm Siren Trilogy: STORM SIREN author Mary Weber answers some questions about her writing process, her own taste in YA and her advice to future writers.

An Author-Character Interview --- Conversation with Erica O'Rourke and Del Sullivan: Do you ever wish that you could watch your favorite authors sit down with their characters and have a casual chat? This is exactly what author Erica O'Rourke did, interviewing her character Del Sullivan of the Dissonance series.

Worldbuilding 101 --- Guest Post by Anne Boles Levy: In this guest post, author Anne Boles Levy discusses the challenges and rewards of the worldbuilding process, and how she created an entirely new planet even before writing a single word of her new novel, THE TEMPLE OF DOUBT.

Writing in Third Person --- Guest Post by Heather Reid: In this post, Heather Reid, author of PRETTY DARK NOTHING and PRETTY DARK SACRIFICE, talks about why she breaks YA convention by writing in third person and not first.

Click here to read our blog!


Teen Board Monthly Update

Teen Board Question: It's nearly time to head back to school. Hopefully you were able to stay on your academic game over the summer! This month, we asked our Teen Board members to get back into the school spirit a little early, telling them: Assume you’re the teacher and get to assign your class one book to read before filing back into the classroom. What do you choose, and why? Our Teen Board members had some wonderful and creative reading requirements for their hypothetical students. Kate F. wants her class to read ELEANOR AND PARK to think about issues of acceptance, while Cassandra H. would assign Robert Cormier's THE CHOCOLATE WAR, an eye-opening read for everyone. See the rest of their answers here!

Reviews: Teen Board members have been reviewing quite a bunch of new books recently. Alison S. called Dave Shelton's THIRTEEN CHAIRS "bone-chilling," "eerie" and "spine-tingling," while Katherina T. praised the "beautiful drawings and honest characters" of BRIGHT LIGHTS, DARK NIGHTS by Stephen Emond. Yaira M., always up for heartbreak via literature, said that Mary Ann McGuigan's CROSSING INTO BROOKLYN "was painful to sit through in the most rewarding way possible."

Teen Board September 2015 - August 2016 Update: Thank you so much to everyone who applied to be part of our September 2015 - August 2016 Teen Board! We got so many great applicants, and it was incredibly tough to narrow it down. We will have made our final decisions by the time the Late August newsletter comes out. Look out for introductions then!

Click here to learn more about the Teen Board!


Books on Screen

Heroes are going to rule the box office this month, with Fantastic Four out August 7th, and the Japanese film Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F' releasing August 4th. Chris Pine, a gorgeous heartthrob seen in the newest Star Trek movies, takes on the post-apocalyptic thriller, Z for Zachariah, which will surely knock you off your feet (out August 28th)!

Click here to read our August Books on Screen!


August's Cool and New Roundup

This month's roundup includes Sonia Manzano’s memoir BECOMING MARIA, in which the "Sesame Street" star shares how her turbulent childhood in the South Bronx eventually led to her to realize her dreams of becoming an actress; A HISTORY OF GLITTER AND BLOOD by Hannah Moskowitz, a powerful and stunning fantasy about a fairy stuck in the middle of a war; and David Lubar's SOPHOMORES AND OTHER OXYMORONS, the companion novel to the author's beloved SLEEPING FRESHMEN NEVER LIE about a boy discovering the truths of high school.

In paperback titles this month, we have THE RIGHTS OF THE READER by Daniel Pennac with illustrations by Quentin Blake, a quirky ode to reading; the new SwoonReads title HOW TO SAY I LOVE YOU OUT LOUD by Karole Cozzo, which features a girl who is torn between the boy she kissed last summer and keeping her autistic brother a secret; and STRONGER THAN YOU KNOW by Jolene Perry --- a heart-wrenching novel about a hopeful girl who just needs to hold on.

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


Check Out Our Latest Reviews!

New! HOW TO SAY I LOVE YOU OUT LOUD by Karole Cozzo (Romance, Contemporary)

When Jordyn Michaelson's autistic brother joins her at her elite school, she's determined not to let anyone know they're related, even if that means closing herself off to all her closest friends, including charming football stud Alex Colby. But despite her best intentions, she just can't shake the memory of kissing Alex last summer, and the desire to do it again. --- Reviewed by Aimee Rogers.

New! DROWNED CITY: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans by Don Brown (Graphic Novel)

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina's monstrous winds and surging water overwhelmed the protective levees around low-lying New Orleans, Louisiana. Eighty percent of the city flooded, in some places under 20 feet of water. More than 1,800 people lost their lives. The riveting tale of this historic storm and the drowning of an American city is one of selflessness, heroism and courage --- and also of incompetence, racism and criminality. --- Reviewed by Maya B., Teen Board Member.

New! THIRTEEN CHAIRS by Dave Shelton (Horror, Short Stories, Young Adult 12+)

When a boy finds himself drawn into an empty house one cold night, he enters a room in which 12 unusual-looking people sit around a table. Then, the 13th chair is pulled out for him. One by one, each of those assembled tells their own ghost story: tales of doom and death; of ghostly creatures and malevolent spirits; of revenge and reward. It is only at the end of the night that the boy starts to understand what story he must tell. --- Reviewed by Alison S., Teen Board member.

New! CROSSING INTO BROOKLYN by Mary Ann McGuigan (Youth Fiction)

As a priveleged only child, 16-year-old Morgan Lindstrum has everything she could ever want, except her parents' attention. Then her beloved grandfather dies, depriving Morgan of the only stable figure in her life. If that's not enough, she suddenly finds out he was never her grandfather at all. The temptation to walk away from this ugly reality, as her mother did, is strong. But if she does, can Morgan ever really leave behind what she learned when she crossed into Brooklyn? --- Reviewed by Yaira M., Teen Board member.

New! TROUBLE IS A FRIEND OF MINE by Stephanie Tromly (Mystery, Young Adult 12+)

When Philip Digby first shows up on her doorstep, Zoe Webster is not impressed. He's rude and he treats her like a book he's already read and knows the ending to. But before she knows it, Digby --- annoying, brilliant and somehow attractive --- has dragged her into a series of hilarious and dangerous situations all related to an investigation into the kidnapping of a local teenage girl. A kidnapping that may be connected to the tragic disappearance of his own sister eight years ago. --- Reviewed by Maya B., Teen Board member.

New! CRUSHED: The Witch-Game 1 by Kasi Blake (Fantasy, Romance, Youth Fiction)

The Noah girls have beauty, powers and brains. They use all three to play their games. They blow the dust, the boys are crushed and no one is ever the same. But when Kristen picks the wrong boy to Crush, everything starts going wrong. --- Reviewed by Alison S., Teen Board member.

New! BRIGHT LIGHT, DARK NIGHTS by Stephen Emond (Graphic Novel, Young Adult 12+)

Walter Wilcox has never been in love. That is, until he meets Naomi, when sparks and clever jokes fly. But when his cop dad is caught in a racial profiling scandal, Walter and Naomi, who is African American, are called out at school, home and online. Can their bond (and mutual love of the Foo Fighters) keep them together? --- Reviewed by Katherina T., Teen Board member.

New! ADRIFT by Paul Griffin (Youth Fiction, Drama)

Matt and John are best friends working out in Montauk for the summer. When Driana, JoJo and Stef invite the boys to their Hamptons mansion, Matt and John find themselves in a sticky situation where temptation rivals sensibility. The newfound friends head out into the Atlantic after midnight in a stolen boat. None of them come back whole, and not all of them come back. --- Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

New! THE NEXT BIG THING: A History of the Boom-or-Bust Moments That Shaped the Modern World by Richard Faulk (Nonfiction, Technology)

Whether it is a new iPhone or the New World, the freshest and newest inventions, discoveries and fads loom large in the public mind. The impact that everyone thinks these "next big things" will have is often more important than the actual impact it generates. After all, if it fails, it will be almost immediately forgotten. THE NEXT BIG THING searches through 3,000 years of Western culture to find the colorful and key steps (and missteps) that led us to where we are today. --- Reviewed by Cassandra H., Teen Board member.

New! EMMY & OLIVER by Robin Benway (Youth Fiction 14+)

Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. Emmy just wants to be in charge of her own life but her parents can't seem to let her grow up --- not since the day Oliver disappeared. When Oliver returns home --- and discovers that it was his father who kidnapped him and kept him on the run --- everything changes for both of them. --- Reviewed by Brianna Robinson.


August Poll

August is the perfect time for poolside reading. Which of the following would you rather pick up while whiling away the warm weather?

An epic fantasy: In the summer, you have all the time in the world to get lost in an entirely new universe.

A dystopian adventure: At least you’ll have sunshine to balance out the corrupt society.

A romance: Summer and love go together like ice cream and cones.

A contemporary realistic tale: Just because you’re not in school doesn’t mean you need to escape reality, entirely.

A horror novel: That adrenaline rush is unbeatable in any weather.

A sci-fi book: As long as aliens aren’t attacking the pool, I’m good.

Last month, we wanted to know what famous beaches mentioned in books our readers would visit. Our readers preferred Santorini, Greece, featured in THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS. In second place, 25% of respondents would go to Cair Paravel from THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE. To see all the results from the July poll, click here.

Click here to take our poll!


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