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Late October 2015
October 30, 2015
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Oh, the Places We'll Read!
Shirleyka and I at the Hans Christian Andersen statue in Central Park
Shirleyka and I at the Hans Christian Andersen statue in Central Park

Hi Teenreaders,

While I bow down to beautifully crafted characters, to page-turning plotlines with thoughtful dips and bends, to words that flow to their own beat, sometimes, it's the setting that really breathes life into a story.

I recently had the chance to hear David Almond speak --- you’ve probably heard me wax poetic about his book THE TIGHTROPE WALKERS throughout 2015, and our reviewers Sarah Rachel Egelman and Alison S. have equally gushing thoughts about HALF A CREATURE FROM THE SEA and A SONG FOR ELLA GREY, respectively. One common thread in Almond’s titles --- aside from his lilting language --- is their inextricable tie to northern England, the area where he grew up.

Almond writes the dialect into his story, so you can hear the sounds of frigid beaches and harsh shipyards ringing in characters' voices. Descriptions of scraggly gangs of kids wandering neighborhoods and Catholic imagery are omnipresent, printer shops and roughly hewn bullies and icy water frame each tale. If you read one of Almond’s pieces, you can expect to be transported to his hometown of Felling-on-Tyne, or at least somewhere in the general vicinity.

To go a bit closer to home (my home, anyway), there are tons of books that just breathe New York City when you open the pages. I was lucky enough to learn about them when I went on “Down the Rabbit Hole: A Children’s Book Tour of Central Park” run by e.t.c. custom events, with my Girls Write Now mentee, Shirleyka. Evan Levy, the founder of the company, and Isabella Lores-Chavez, a tour guide, led us everywhere from the stunning Cultural Services of the French Embassy building --- where one can find a gorgeous star-speckled library and a statue with a startingly similar backstory to the sculpture in FROM THE MIXED UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER by E.L. Konigsburg --- to Conservatory Water in Central Park, where tiny, precocious mouse Stuart Little takes part in an epic sailboat scene in E. B. White’s eponymous novel. (See the library in the photo, above center).

Whether we were talking about the spark of Konigsburg’s idea (a piece of popcorn lying on a roped-off piece of furniture in the Met) or Harriet (The Spy's) adventures along the Upper East Side, I realized just how many famous children’s stories are rooted in the Big Apple --- its neighborhoods, its cultural institutions, its huge swaths of green in an otherwise highly urban landscape. Claudia's and Jamie's story wouldn't have been the same had it taken place in a museum any less grand and mythical than the Met, and Harriet's observations would have been wholly different (and more difficult to make) in a sprawling suburb. If you take the setting out of the book, it's just as momentous a change as deleting the protagonist.

What novels have you read where the place was as important as any of the characters that inhabited the book? Let me know at

And to change gears entirely, enjoy the rest of the newsletter where-ever you choose to do so, and have a spooky, startling, unforgettable Halloween weekend!

--- Shara Zaval (


Thrills and Chills Contest: Contest Closes Monday, November 2nd So Enter NOW! is celebrating the season of ghouls and ghosts with our second annual feature, Thrills and Chills! Between now and Monday, November 2nd at noon ET, teens can enter to win special sweet treats and some (mostly) spooky reads that will help make the scariest season of them all last well beyond Halloween.

This year's featured titles include:

CATACOMB by Madeleine Roux
THE DEAD HOUSE by Dawn Kurtagich
THE DETOUR by S.A. Bodeen
DUMPLIN’ by Julie Murphy
ICE LIKE FIRE by Sara Raasch
THE SLEEPER AND THE SPINDLE, written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated Chris Riddell

Click here to enter our Thrills and Chills contest!

Teenreads on Twitter - #BooksThatHooked and Ryan Graudin Chat

Teenreads has been on Twitter for a while now (follow us at @Teenreads), but we've recently been involved in a couple of cool Twitter projects we want to make sure you check out!

Author Chat with Ryan Graudin (@RyanGraudin): Ryan is attending the Miami Book Fair (one of the best book fairs in the country --- see below for more details!), and we're PSYCHED to get to interview her via Twitter chat on Wednesday, November 4th at 7pm EST. We'll be talking about her books, THE WALLED CITY and WOLF BY WOLF, as well as all things writing, reading and sunny Miami weather. We'll be asking questions, but you'll be invited to chip in as well with your own questions and comments! Be sure to mark this one in your calendar now.

#BooksThatHooked - Together with the National Book Foundation, we started this hashtag so authors could tell us (and the rest of the Twittersphere) what books made them want to become a writer. It was so exciting to watch it go viral and take a life of its own (what books hooked people onto reading, what hooked people so they didn't want to put it down until they finished, etc). Do you have #BooksThatHooked you onto writing or reading!? Feel free to use the hashtag and let us know! We've included a few of the participants' tweets below: below:

Andrea Davis Pinkney (@AndreaDavisPink): Mom was an English teacher. Thanks to her, #BooksThatHooked: The Friends, Roots, The Chosen, Roget's Thesaurus (still hooked on it).

Patrick Ness (@Patrick_Ness): #BooksThatHooked Richard Scarry, Beverly Cleary, Encyclopedia Brown. NEVER underestimate primary & middle grade books.

Sarah Dessen (‏@sarahdessen): My #BooksThatHooked: Fannie Flagg's Coming Attractions, Lois Lowry's A Summer to Die, Lee Smith's Fair and Tender Ladies, all @judyblume.

Lauren Oliver: (‏@OliverBooks): The Redwall Series by Brian Jacques were #BooksThatHooked me on both reading and writing! I wrote some early fanfic for those mice!

Ellen Hopkins ‏(@EllenHopkinsLit): Character, character, character. Ken Kesey's SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION made me want to become a character-driven author. #BooksThatHooked

Tim Federle ‏(@TimFederle): Anything and everything Beverly Cleary, Roald Dahl, or Shel Silverstein wrote. #BooksThatHooked


Mix-it-Up Bookshelf
Every October, schools around the country participate in National Mix-it-Up Day and encourage students to connect with new people, especially in the cafeteria. "Mixing it up" doesn't just happen in the lunchroom, though --- it happens in the library, too! As it turns out, plenty of authors have been thinking outside the box (er, covers?) these days and shaking up the traditional book form.

Some infuse their stories with modern communication, whether texts or IMs, and others intersperse them with letters and diary entries. Some authors make images a central part of their novels, and still more go full "documentary style," creating books that are a collage of fake newspaper articles, interviews, drawings and more.

In this bookshelf, we rounded up 20 books that "mixed it up," from Alyson Noel's CRUEL SUMMER --- where 17-year-old Colby communicates about her summer in Greece through blog entries and emails --- to Ransom Riggs's MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN, which utilizes pictures to tell the story of a forgotten time loop.

So if you're sick of that same old book format, look no further --- these books will add plenty of variety to your to-be-read list.

Click here to see our Mix-It-Up Bookshelf!

Live in Miami? Make Sure to Check out the Miami Book Fair Nov 20 - 22!

Do you live in the Miami area? If so, lucky you, and not just because of the weather! On November 20 - 22, you can head to the Miami Book Fair, one of the best book fairs in the country, and see tons of YA stars, including Melissa de la Cruz, Victoria Aveyard and Ryan Graudin (who we're hosting a Twitter chat with on November 4th at 7pm EST!)

We'll send another reminder next month, but seriously...this is one book event that you don't want to miss.
Click here to learn more about the Miami Book Fair!

Now in Stores: THE DEATH AND LIFE OF ZEBULON FINCH, VOLUME ONE: At the Edge of Empire by Daniel Kraus

THE DEATH AND LIFE OF ZEBULON FINCH, VOLUME ONE: At the Edge of Empire by Daniel Kraus (Adventure, Historical Fiction, Mystery)

Twenty minutes after his murder on the shores of Lake Michigan in 1896, 17-year-old Zebulon Finch awakens, resurrected to suffer an eternity upon the planet. But of all people...why him?

Is it because he was a violent Chicago gangster and this is his chance at redemption? Is it because he is a modern-day Job whose suffering is beyond human comprehension?

Over the next century --- or two --- he will try to find out. With a sly aristocratic voice and a healthy appetite for women and anarchy, Zebulon Finch spins a tale of his travels across a young America, watching the country grow and mature, knowing that his mind and body will never do the same.

Yes, he is witty. He is also vain. Absolutely brilliant, too. And he is always entertaining. But have no doubt --- Zebulon Finch has a heart as vulnerable as anyone’s. Too bad he doesn’t learn to use it till after it has stopped beating…

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


Now in Stores: THESE SHALLOW GRAVES by Jennifer Donnelly

THESE SHALLOW GRAVES by Jennifer Donnelly (Historical Fiction, Romance, Thriller)

Set in gilded age New York, THESE SHALLOW GRAVES follows the story of Josephine Montfort, an American aristocrat. Jo lives a life of old-money ease. Not much is expected of her other than to look good and marry well. But when her father dies due to an accidental gunshot, the gilding on Jo’s world starts to tarnish. With the help of a handsome and brash reporter and a young medical student who moonlights in the city morgue, Jo uncovers the truth behind her father’s death and learns that if you’re going to bury the past, you’d better bury it deep.

Click here to learn more about the book.


Now in Stores: WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND by Robin Talley
WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND by Robin Talley (Youth Fiction, Gay & Lesbian)

Toni and Gretchen are the couple everyone envied in high school. They've been together forever. They never fight. They're deeply, hopelessly in love. When they separate for their first year at college --- Toni to Harvard and Gretchen to NYU --- they're sure they'll be fine. Where other long-distance relationships have fallen apart, theirs is bound to stay rock-solid.

The reality of being apart, though, is very different than they expected. Toni, who identifies as genderqueer, meets a group of transgender upperclassmen and immediately finds a sense of belonging that has always been missing, but Gretchen struggles to remember who she is outside their relationship.

While Toni worries that Gretchen won't understand Toni's new world, Gretchen begins to wonder where she fits in this puzzle. As distance and Toni's shifting gender identity begin to wear on their relationship, the couple must decide --- have they grown apart for good, or is love enough to keep them together?

Click here to learn more about the book.

On the Blog

Vampire Series Breakdown --- Teen Board member Alyssa L. tells us about her three favorite vampire series, just in time for Halloween!

The Evolution of a Cover --- The cover of Todd Strasser's latest YA novel, THE BEAST OF CRETACEA, is arresting, and the author takes us step by step through the design process.

Teen Read Week - Interview with Evangeline Denmark --- CURIO author Evangeline Denmark talks YA and tells us what she did to celebrate Teen Read Week (Oct 18-24).

Halloween: Books Vs. Reality --- Teen Board member Rachel D. compares spooky stories to how teens actually celebrate the scariest night of the year.
Click here to read our blog!

Teen Board Update

Teen Board Question: To trick or to treat --- that is the question! Now that Halloween is just around the bend, we wanted to know: if our Teen Board members could either play a (friendly!) prank on a YA character OR give them a tasty treat, what would they do and who would be the recipient of your holiday spirit? We got an awesome range of answers --- Yasemin B. would love to prank the Dursleys from Harry Potter with the Tarantallegra spell (forced dancing), while Laura T. would gift the anagram-loving Colin Singleton from AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES with a book of word puzzles. See all of their answers here!

Reviews: Our teens reviewed some terrific books this month. Hafsag K. says Micol Ostow does "a great job on [THE DEVIL AND WINNIE FLYNN], captivating readers so they won’t want to let go. " Meanwhile, Chris C. said, "if you enjoy witty dialogue and sardonic pieces about culture, you are sure to love [MARTians by Blythe Woolston] just as much as I did." See all of our Teen Board member reviews (and other reviews) at the end of the newsletter!


Books on Screen

Welcome to our Pumpkin Spice edition™ of Books on Screen! You didn’t think we’d miss out on October’s bestselling rebrand, did you? This month, we’ll be evaluating the top books on screen based on their Pumpkin Spice Rating (PSR), which is just as silly and delicious as it sounds! Toss your regular old latte, because we’re about to go full fall!

Plus, tickets for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 are now on sale, even though it doesn't premiere until November 20th. If you're a huge Katniss fan, make sure to buy a ticket now here. You can also check out the trailer of what is sure to be an epic conclusion to this bestselling trilogy.

Click here to see our PSR ratings and October Books on Screen titles!

October's Cool and New Roundup

This month’s Cool and New roundup includes ILLUMINAE by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, the highly anticipated science fiction book written in the form of emails, medical reports and more about two recently broken-up teens whose planet is being destroyed; A THOUSAND NIGHTS by E.K. Johnston, an enchanting, supernatural twist on the classic THE ARABIAN NIGHTS; and THE ROSE SOCIETY by Marie Lu, the second book in the exhilarating Young Elites series.

In paperback titles this month, we have MONSTER: A Graphic Novel written by Walter Dean Myers and illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile, an adaptation of Myers’ multi-award-winning coming-of-age tale about a teen awaiting trial for a murder and robbery; SIGNS POINT TO YES by A LITTLE SOMETHING DIFFERENT author Sandy Hall, which follows Jane as she babysits for her crush’s siblings and helps her own sister develop the courage to come out; and WEIRD GIRL AND WHAT'S HIS NAME by Meagan Brothers, about a couple of secrets that come between Lula’s and Rory’s friendship and change everything.

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

Check Out Our Latest Reviews!

New! IF YOU'RE LUCKY by Yvonne Prinz (Youth Fiction, Mental Health)

Determined to clear the fog from her mind and uncover the truth about her brother Lucky’s death, Georgia secretly stops taking the medication that keeps away the voices in her head. Georgia is certain she’s getting closer and closer to the truth about his old friend Fin, but as she does, her mental state becomes more and more precarious, and no one seems to trust what she’s saying. --- Reviewed by Grace P., Teen Board Member.

New! SIGNS POINT TO YES by Sandy Hall (Youth Fiction, Romance)

Jane, a superstitious fangirl, takes an anonymous babysitting job to avoid an unpaid internship with her college-obsessed mom. The only problem? She's babysitting the siblings of her childhood friend and new crush, Teo. Meanwhile, at Jane's house, her sister Margo wants to come out as bisexual, but she's terrified of how her parents will react. --- Reviewed by Laura T., Teen Board Member.

New! WILLFUL MACHINES by Tim Floreen (Youth Fiction, Gay & Lesbian, Adventure)

In this action-packed, high-octane debut, the closeted son of an ultra-conservative president must keep a budding romance secret from his father while protecting himself from a sentient computer program that’s terrorizing the United States --- and has zeroed in on him as its next target. --- Reviewed by Asia H., Teen Board Member.

New! THE ACCIDENT SEASON by Moira Fowley-Doyle (Youth Fiction, Horror)

Every October, Cara and her family become inexplicably and unavoidably accident-prone. Some years it's bad, like the season when her father died, and some years it's just a lot of cuts and scrapes. This accident season --- when Cara, her ex-stepbrother, Sam, and her best friend, Bea, are 17 --- is going to be a bad one. But not for the reasons they think. --- Reviewed by Brianna Robinson.

New! PLACEBO JUNKIES by J.C. Carleson (Youth Fiction, Relationships)

Meet Audie: Professional lab rat. Guinea pig. Serial human test subject. For Audie and her friends, “volunteering” for pharmaceutical drug trials means a quick fix and easy cash.The best fix of all is her boyfriend, Dylan, whose terminal illness just makes them even more compatible. No pain, no gain, Audie tells herself as the pills wear away at her body and mind. No pain, no gain, she repeats as her grip on reality starts to slide... --- Reviewed by Pranshu A., Teen Board Member.

New! THE WINTER PLACE by Alexander Yates (Youth Fiction, Fantasy)

There is a middle world between life and death, and Tess must navigate it to save her brother in this heart-wrenching story infused with the fractured and fantastical realms of Finnish mysticism. Axel and Tess are bewildered when a stranger shows up in their backyard accompanied by a giant brown bear, but before they can investigate the bizarre encounter, something more harrowing happens: their father is killed in a freak car accident. --- Reviewed by Christi Sheehan.

New! ILLUMINAE by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Youth Fiction, Science Fiction, Dystopian)

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded. Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents --- including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews and more --- ILLUMINAE is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth and the courage of everyday heroes. --- Reviewed by Brianna Robinson.

New! ONE by Sarah Crossan (Youth Fiction, Family)

Tippi and Grace. Grace and Tippi. For them, it's normal to step into the same skirt. To hook their arms around each other for balance. To fall asleep listening to the other breathing. To share. And to keep some things private. Each of the 16-year-old girls has her own head, heart, and two arms, but at the belly, they join. But the girls' body is beginning to fight against them. --- Reviewed by Brianna Robinson.

October Poll
In honor of the World Series, which bookish athletic competition would you be most interested in playing?:
  • Quidditch from Harry Potter --- Who hasn’t imagined catching a snitch on their broom at least once in their life?
  • A race against the title character of MANIAC MAGEE --- Your chances of winning are slim, but hey, at least if you lose, you’ll still be part of the legend.
  • Five months with the boys from LORD OF THE FLIES --- The real challenge isn’t simply surviving --- it’s staying human.
  • The Battle Room from ENDER’S GAME --- Mock team wars in zero-G? Bring it on.
  • The Blackwater Trail bike race in STONE RIDER --- Is the prize of a better life worth risking the one you have now?

Last month, we asked you which memorable YA protagonist best described your classroom personality. It turns out that the largest percentage (38) are the quiet types, just like Charlie from THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER --- you aren't always the center of attention, but you don't let that faze you. Next up, with 33% of the votes, are the Hermione Grangers of the world, from Harry Potter --- turns out a lot of readers are quite smart and not afraid to show it! And who came in last? That would be Andrew Wiggin from ENDER'S GAME with 3% of the votes --- I guess you're more reading whizzes than techies (surprise, surprise!). To see all the results from the September 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:

AFTER ALICE by Gregory Maguire (Fantasy, Fiction)

Ada, a friend of Alice’s mentioned briefly in ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND, is off to visit her friend, but arrives a moment too late --- and tumbles down the rabbit hole herself. Ada brings to Wonderland her own imperfect apprehension of cause and effect as she embarks on an odyssey to find Alice and see her safely home from this surreal world below the world. If Eurydice can ever be returned to the arms of Orpheus, or Lazarus can be raised from the tomb, perhaps Alice can be returned to life.

Click here to see all the Adult Books You Want to Read!

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