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Late November 2015
November 30, 2015
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Posing with Neal and Brendan Shusterman at The National Book Awards
Posing with Neal and Brendan Shusterman at The National Book Awards

Hi Teenreaders,

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Now that the holiday is over, I know that stores everywhere are telling you to forget about the turkey already and start thinking about end-of-the-year shopping (Cyber Monday, anyone?). I admit that I've already moved into an "OMG, 2015 is almost over!" state of mind, too. For me, though, it's a bit more literary than consumerist; I'm wondering, what were the best books that came out all year?

This is a HUGELY subjective question --- as I've mentioned time and time again, all readers' hearts (and minds) are gripped by something completely different, whether it's a character who reminds them of themselves or a mystical world nothing like their own. Maybe you consider a good book one whose unpredictable twists keep you turning pages late into the night, or one that has you so emotionally invested that you burst into tears more than once before you're finished.

I've already mentioned some of my favorites in newsletters past --- CHALLENGER DEEP by Neal Shusterman (who I met at the National Book Awards --- see the photo on the right!), which transports readers into the mind of someone with schizophrenia and feels like an out-of-body experience; THE TIGHTROPE WALKERS by David Almond, whose lyrical language and northern English dialect takes the coming-of-age novel to a new level; A HISTORY OF GLITTER AND BLOOD by Hannah Moskowitz, which is the most grounded tale of fairies and trolls that I have ever come across; and ONE by Sarah Crossan, a novel in verse about conjoined twins that somehow uses the briefest poems to convey a full picture of sisterly love.

But enough about my choices --- I also asked our reviewers and Teen Board members to weigh in on what they consider the best of the best of 2015. You'll see more about this later in the newsletter, but as a sneak peek, here are a few of the books that got the most votes, along with reader comments.

THE HEIR by Kiera Cass

"...intricate and surprising and left me waiting desperately for the final installment." --- Maggie D.

"I will always love the characters of THE SELECTION, and reading from their daughter's point of view was icing on the cake." --- Grace P.

RED QUEEN by Victoria Aveyard

"I think RED QUEEN should pride itself on being one dystopian that is not drowning in romance." --- Jeanna Michel

"I was thrown into Mare's world and I loved every second of it!" --- Isabel C.

by Nicola Yoon

"...this tender and inventive tale of first love made me swoon." --- Emma Kantor

"A refreshing take on teen romance stories that manages to bring a smile." --- Rachel D.


"Everything seemed to come together perfectly while still leaving you yearning for the next book." --- Bryn D.

"So much action. So much character development. So much romance." --- Brynn S.

To read the full feature, click here. And, to get a bit consumerist (can't resist when all of those "SALE" emails keep invading my inbox), consider buying some of them for your friend(s) or sibling(s) this holiday season!

Happy reading,

--- Shara Zaval (


Holiday Bundle of Cheer Contest --- Enter to Win Today!

Here at Teenreads, we're kicking off the holiday season with our Holiday Bundle of Cheer Contest and Feature. As our gift to you, we are spotlighting some amazing books. Five lucky readers will win a copy of each featured title to curl up with this holiday season, along with some incredibly festive goodies.

This year's featured titles include:

IF YOU'RE LUCKY by Yvonne Prinz
INFINITE IN BETWEEN by Carolyn Mackler
RIDERS by Veronica Rossi
THIEF OF LIES: A Library Jumpers Novel by Brenda Drake
UNTAMED: A Splintered Companion by A.G. Howard
WHAT WE SAW by Aaron Hartzler

Fill out this form by Thursday, December 17th at noon ET to be one of five lucky winners.

Click here to enter our Holiday Bundle of Cheer contest!

Special Feature: DARK RISING by Monica McGurk
A lot of authors will tell you that research is paramount to writing a good novel. Even if you’re working on a piece of fiction, you want it to breathe with authenticity --- the issues should be dealt with in realistic ways, events should be historically accurate and settings should look like the real thing.

Luckily, Monica McGurk, author of the Archangel Prophecies series, is an expert at this, and dug into all kinds of fascinating (and at times upsetting) research for DARK HOPE and DARK RISING (and the final book, DARK BEFORE DAWN); she studied angels, child trafficking and even took trips to Las Vegas and Istanbul!
Learn more about DARK RISING through our special feature which features a review, interview and excerpt.
Click here to read the review.
Click here to read the interview.
Click here to read the excerpt.
Click here to enter the contest.

Click here to read the special feature!

Down the Rabbit Hole - 15 Books to Celebrate ALICE IN WONDERLAND's 150th Anniversary

When you say "ALICE IN WONDERLAND," you'll be hard-pressed to find someone who's not familiar with the very tardy rabbit, the ferocious Queen of Hearts and the ever-so-kooky Mad Hatter, who hosts a tea party Alice will never forget.

While we don't need an excuse to celebrate one of the hallmarks of children's literature, this year, we have more reason than ever --- ALICE IN WONDERLAND turned 150 years old! That's right --- Lewis Carroll wrote this adventure back in 1865.

To honor its anniversary, we made a bookshelf of tomes that are all about Alice. The top five give us some background on the topsy-turvy tale and its idiosyncratic author; you can learn who inspired various characters in ALICE IN WONDERLAND, read Carroll's most famous poems and see art spurred by Alice and co. The bottom 10 share (mostly YA) books that are somehow based on the famous story, whether it's the origin tale of the infamous villain or a reimagining where Alice is forced to fight the undead.

So fall down the rabbit hole --- I mean, into one of these books --- and remind yourself of the one-of-a-kind wonders of this off-the-wall classic.

Click here to see the ALICE IN WONDERLAND-themed bookshelf!

Teenreads Reviewers Pick Their Favorite Books of 2015!
There's no better way to start an argument with self-proclaimed book nerds than to ask "what is the best YA book of 2015?" We decided to get our lovely reviewers and Teen Board members involved in the debate by asking them to tell us a few of their favorites. Do you agree with their choices?

Click here to the reviewers' and Teen Board members' picks of 2015!

Congratulations to Neal Shusterman, Winner of the National Book Award for Young People's Literature!
We want to extend our warmest congratulations to Neal Shusterman, who won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature for his book CHALLENGER DEEP, a book that our team loved loved LOVED. To honor Neal, we rounded up a few interesting facts about him and the book that we learned at the Awards and the Teen Press Conference the day before. See below, and be sure to check out the book if you haven't already!
  • He came up with the title of CHALLENGER DEEP long before he had a story to fill it; he was helping his son Brendan do a research project and discovered that the very deepest part of the ocean's floor was called Challenger Deep, a small valley in the Marianas Trench.
  • Neal found that story years later, when his son was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and said that he sometimes felt like he was "at the bottom of the ocean screaming at the top of my lungs and noboday can hear me.” The topic was so personal to him, though, that he couldn't start writing about it until many years later.
  • Neal wasn't allowed to tell people he was on the shortlist of the National Book Awards for a full 24 hours, but he sent a select few smiley face emotions (they could read between the, faces...if they so chose). Pretty sneaky!
  • Writing CHALLENGER DEEP was a cathartic experience for Neal
  • Neal usually writes his books in order, but not this one. He wrote about memories as he had them and then slowly pieced the book together.
Now in Stores: DARE TO DISAPPOINT: Growing Up in Turkey, by Ozge Samanci

DARE TO DISAPPOINT: Growing Up in Turkey by Ozge Samanci (Youth Fiction, Graphic Novel, Memior)

Growing up on the Aegean Coast, Ozge loved the sea and imagined a life of adventure while her parents and society demanded predictability. Her dad expected Ozge, like her sister, to become an engineer. She tried to hear her own voice over his and the religious and militaristic tensions of Turkey and the conflicts between secularism and fundamentalism. Could she be a scuba diver like Jacques Cousteau? A stage actress? Would it be possible to please everyone including herself?

Click here to learn more about the book.

Now in Stores: THE GAME OF LIVES: The Mortality Doctrine, Book Three by James Dashner

THE GAME OF LIVES: The Mortality Doctrine, Book Three by James Dashner (Youth Fiction, Science Fiction)

The games are over. The VirtNet has become a world of deadly consequences, and Kaine grows stronger by the day. The Mortality Doctrine --- Kaine’s master plan --- has nearly been realized, and little by little the line separating the virtual from the real is blurring. If Kaine succeeds, it will mean worldwide cyber domination. And it looks like Michael and his friends are the only ones who can put the monster back in the box --- if Michael can figure out who his friends really are.

Click here to learn more about the book.

On the Blog

The National Book Awards: My Favorite Things --- Editor Shara Zaval breaks down the most memorable parts of the National Book Awards, and the events leading up to them.

My Rules to Live By --- And Break --- Kate McGovern, author of RULES FOR 50/50 CHANCES, guest posts about rules to live by, as well as a few she's trying to break.

Books to be Thankful For --- Teen Board member Kate F. writes about what books she's thankful for and why.

Hunger Games Post 1: The Premiere --- Teen Board member Brynn S. was lucky enough to go to the premiere and after-party for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2. Here, she breaks down her unforgettable night!

Hunger Games Post 2: The Review --- Teen Board member Brynn S. goes into detail about the final movie in this epic YA franchise.

The Miami Book Fair --- Teen Board member Juliette G. was lucky enough to attend one day of this epic event, and she breaks down the highlights.

Click here to read our blog!

Teen Board Update

Teen Board Question: Although it’s a whole year until we elect a new president, you can’t go a day in the news without hearing something about one of the candidates! In honor of Election Day, which falls on the first Tuesday of each November, we asked our Teen Board members: If you could choose any book character to be the President of the United States, who would you pick, and why? As it turns out, they think that a wide range of characters would be perfect for the top job. Harleen K. would vote for Maxon from Kiera Cass's THE SELECTION since he is an effective, experienced ruler, has a cabinet to help him and listens to others, while Maggie D. would choose Four from Veronica Roth's DIVERGENT because he has leadership experience as well as "a good amount of compassion and technological prowess." See all of their answers here!

Reviews: Our Teen Board members were pretty enthusiastic about their books this month! Alison S. said that when reading CALVIN by Martine Leavitt, "you’ll cry, you’ll laugh til you cry and you’ll plunge through every emotion in between." Meanwhile, Lauren H. said that SOULSHIFTER author Barbara Pietron "does a brilliant job of introducing romantic undertones into this high action, intriguing novel." See all of their reviews in the "reviews" section of this newsletter!


Books on Screen

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 is in theaters! Have you seen it yet? Here are some ways to celebrate this finale!

  • Bake Mockingjay-shaped cupcakes, a delicious and fun treat!
  • Follow the movie's official Twitter account to get the inside scoop on the film and the actors.
  • Watch (or re-watch) the trailer.
  • Brush up on your Hunger Games knowledge!
  • Learn how to braid your hair like Katniss' iconic style.
  • Read this hilarious interview with the cast.
  • And, of course, you can always reread The Hunger Games series!
Click here to see our full November Books on Screen feature!

November's Cool and New Roundup
This month’s Cool and New roundup includes WINTER, the conclusion to Marissa Meyer’s bestselling fantasy series that adds a futuristic, robotic twist to classic fairytales; DA VINCI’S TIGER by L. M. Elliott, which follows the story of real-life Renaissance woman Ginerva de Benci, the inspiration of one of Leonardo Da Vinci’s earliest paintings; and NEED by Joelle Charbonneau, an intense thriller exploring the dark side of social media.

In paperback titles this month, we have GOING OVER by Beth Kephart, a Booklist Top 10 Historical Fiction for Youth book that tells the tale of two young lovers separated by the Berlin Wall in 1983; THE RETRIBUTION OF MARA DYER by Michelle Hodkin, the breathtaking conclusion to the always-unexpected The Martha Dyer Trilogy; and Grammy-winning, debut author Cynthia Weil’s I'M GLAD I DID, a mystery entrenched in the tunes of the 1960s.

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

Check Out Our Latest Reviews!

New! FORGET TOMORROW by Pintip Dunn (Youth Fiction, Romance, Dystopian)

Callie lives in a world where her destiny has already been her future self. When she sees the vision of becoming a criminal, and murdering her younger sister, she must run from her future and the government. She sets in motion a chain of events that she hopes will change her fate. But if they don't go as planned, she must figure out how to protect her sister from the biggest threat of all --- Callie, herself. --- Reviewed by Cat S., Teen Board member.

New! BLUE VOYAGE by Diana Renn (Youth Fiction, Mystery)

Zan is a politician’s daughter and an adrenaline junkie. But she gets more of a rush than she bargained for on a forced mother–daughter bonding trip to Turkey, where she finds herself in the crosshairs of an antiquities smuggling ring. These criminals believe that Zan can lead them to an ancient treasure that’s both priceless and cursed. Until she does so, she and her family are in grave danger. --- Revoewed by Grace P., Teen Board member.

New! CALVIN by Martine Leavitt (Youth Fiction, Mental Illness)

Seventeen-year-old Calvin has always known his fate is linked to the comic book character from Calvin & Hobbes. He was born on the day the last strip was published; his grandpa left a stuffed tiger named Hobbes in his crib; and he even has a best friend named Susie. As a child Calvin played with the toy Hobbes, controlling his every word and action, until Hobbes was washed to death. But now Calvin is a teenager who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, Hobbes is back --- as a delusion --- and Calvin can't control him. Calvin decides that if he can convince Bill Watterson to draw one final comic strip, showing a normal teenaged Calvin, he will be cured. --- Reviewed by Alison S., Teen Board member.

New! SOULSHIFTER by Barbara Pietron (Youth Fiction, Paranormal)

Sixteen-year-old Jack Ironwood knew exactly what he wanted. Until he got it. Jack was content to stay unnoticed by pretty and popular track-star, Natalie Segetich, until her best friend Emma disappears. Natalie swears something took Emma, and though most people write Natalie off as traumatized and confused, Jack is a soulshifter and he knows the human-stealing Enuuki --- hell's messengers --- are real. As a soulshifter, Jack can cross into the underworld so he sees Emma's rescue as an opportunity to prove himself a valuable member of his transcendental sect. As a viable plan takes shape, it's clear the best chance of success means Natalie must accompany him. On the eve of the quest, when Jack is promised the hand of a respected elder's daughter --- a dream come true --- he realizes he's no longer sure what he wants. But it's too late to back out, not with the sect and Natalie counting on him. --- Reviewed by Lauren H., Teen Board member.

New! HOTEL RUBY by Suzanne Young (Youth Fiction, Science Fiction)

When Audrey Casella arrives for an unplanned stay at the grand Hotel Ruby, she’s grateful for the detour. Just months after their mother’s death, Audrey and her brother, Daniel, are on their way to live with their grandmother, dumped on the doorstep of a DNA-matched stranger because their father is drowning in his grief. Audrey and her family only plan to stay the night, but life in the Ruby can be intoxicating. However, the hotel proves to be as strange as it is beautiful. The more Audrey learns about the new people she’s met, the more her curiosity grows. She’s torn in different directions --- the pull of her past with its overwhelming loss, the promise of a future that holds little joy, and an in-between in a place that is so much more than it seems… --- Reviewed by Kate F., Teen Board member.

November Poll - Last Day to Submit Your Vote!

Halloween may be over, but Friday the 13th falls this month! Which curse from a YA novel is the worst of them all?:

  • Edward Cullen’s vampirism in TWILIGHT by Stephenie Meyer --- It’s hard to focus in class when you’re hearing voices in your head and can’t stop thinking about drinking your crush’s blood.
  • The “gift” of obedience from ELLA ENCHANTED --- Not being able to make your own decisions? No thanks.
  • Madame Zeroni’s curse in HOLES by Louis Sachar --- You wouldn’t be wishing for summer again if you were doomed to dig trenches in a desert all day.
  • The grey world of THE GIVER by Lois Lowry --- Say goodbye to the blue sky, green grass, red strawberries…
  • Kyle Kingsbury’s beastliness in BEASTLY by Alex Flinn --- It’s the inside that counts, but it still can’t be easy…

Last month, we asked you which bookish athletic competition would you be most interested in playing. The largest percentage (66%) wants to chase the golden snitch and play the exciting game of Quidditch from HARRY POTTER. Next up, with 15% of the votes, is the battle room from ENDER'S GAME --- turns out a lot of readers are techies too, just like Andrew Wiggin. And what came in last? That would be The Blackwater Trail bike race in STONE RIDER --- I guess you're more into reading whizzes than daredevils. To see all the results from the October poll, click here.

Click here to take our poll!

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