Skip to main content

December 2008 Newsletter December 2008

Happy Holidays from!

Can you believe that 2009 is just days away? It seems like we just started 2008! As usual at this time of year, I'm still doing my holiday shopping for friends and family. If you're in the same boat as I am, check out this year's What to Give/What to Get Guide, chock full of gift ideas for the bibliophiles in your life. More bookish suggestions can be found in our Holiday Basket of Cheer feature --- and a special congratulations to the five winners of our holiday baskets!

If you weren’t a winner (or if you were and are feeling especially lucky), then be sure to enter our brand-new contest. We're giving away the complete works of Sarah Dessen, one of our favorite authors --- that's eight great books! --- as well as a super cool "lock and key" necklace. We'll keep you posted on Sarah's new novel, ALONG FOR THE RIDE, which is coming out in June. In the meantime, enter to win this amazing prize here.

Want more freebies? Look no further than this month's Grab Bag of Books contest. Winners will receive a copy of CROSS MY HEART AND HOPE TO SPY by Ally Carter, EON: DRAGONEYE REBORN by Alison Goodman, THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins and WHAT I SAW AND HOW I LIED by Judy Blundell. This really is an all-star lineup, so make sure you put your name in the hat!

Speaking of all-stars, we have come up with a list of our favorite books of 2008. On it, you'll find THE TALES OF BEEDLE THE BARD by J.K. Rowling, NATION by Terry Pratchett, THE DISREPUTABLE HISTORY OF FRANKIE LANDAU-BANKS by E. Lockhart and lots more. You can also see our interviews with many of these authors in this handy year-end roundup.

We're also excited to find out your picks for the best books of the year. Let us know your favs by nominating them for the Children’s Book Council’s Teen Choice Book Award. The books you choose for this won't be seen by the other readers of, so don't forget to answer this month's poll and question to get your recommendations to the teen community. You can also enter this month's Word of Mouth contest to win a copy of 3 WILLOWS: The Sisterhood Grows by Ann Brashares and FOREVER PRINCESS: Princess Diaries, Volume X by Meg Cabot.

Can't think of any favorite books this year? (Hard to believe, but maybe it's true.) Then check out our Cool New Books and New in Paperback roundups for November and December, as well as our most recent reviews. We’ve also updated our Coming Soon feature with January thru April titles, so it's possible you could be looking at some books that you’ll want to add to your own “Best of” list next year.

Here’s wishing you a fantastic end to 2008...and happy reading in 2009!

Carol Fitzgerald (


Special Giveaway: Win All of Sarah Dessen's Books --- and a "Lock and Key" Necklace!
Calling all Sarah Dessen fans! is giving one lucky reader the complete Sarah Dessen library, along with a very cool “lock and key” necklace (get it?!). The winner will receive one copy of LOCK AND KEY, JUST LISTEN, THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER, THIS LULLABY, DREAMLAND, KEEPING THE MOON, SOMEONE LIKE YOU and THAT SUMMER. Start reading now, and you’ll be done with Sarah’s books just in time for her upcoming title, ALONG FOR THE RIDE, which releases in June. Keep up with all the latest buzz on the new book at and To enter this can’t-miss contest, all you have to do is fill out this form by Thursday, February 12th.
Click here for all the contest details.

Don't Miss: THE TALES OF BEEDLE THE BARD by J.K. Rowling
THE TALES OF BEEDLE THE BARD by J.K. Rowling (Fantasy/Short Stories)
Loved the Harry Potter series, did you? Then read the five magical stories that Hermione herself translated from the ancient runes. For centuries, Beedle’s stories have been read to little wizards and witches as they ready themselves for bed. For you Potter aficionados out there, you now know that Beedle’s stories are more than that. Sure, they work as bedtime stories, but they hold in them a legendary power. How else could they have held so many secrets for Harry, Ron and Hermione? Reviewed by Jonathan Stephens.

Click here to read a review of THE TALES OF BEEDLE THE BARD.

Our Favorite Books of the Year for Teens
As 2008 comes to a close, we at have compiled some of our favorite books of the year for teens. Along with the blockbusters BREAKING DAWN and BRISINGR, we spotlight THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins, the first installment of a trilogy set in a future with unsettling parallels to our present; THE KINGDOM ON THE WAVES, book two in the historical epic The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, in which M. T. Anderson recounts Octavian’s experiences as the Revolutionary War explodes around him; and THE DISREPUTABLE HISTORY OF FRANKIE LANDAU-BANKS, E. Lockhart’s story of a teenager who finds a way to infiltrate her school’s boy-only secret society and practically becomes a criminal mastermind by the age of 16.

Additional standouts include PAPER TOWNS, the highly anticipated return of Printz Medalist John Green in an irresistible plot combining a friendship tale, a road trip and a mystery; CHAINS, Laurie Halse Anderson's compelling examination of the very different implications of freedom and loyalty for slaves during the American Revolution; THE GOOD NEIGHBORS, which marks the first time Holly Black has written about the faerie world in graphic novel form; and the winner of the 2008 National Book Award in the Young People's Literature category, WHAT I SAW AND HOW I LIED, Judy Blundell’s coming-of-age novel set against a backdrop of mystery, lies and shattering reality.
Click here to see our Best Books of the Year roundup for teens.

Author Interviews of 2008
As 2008 comes to a close, we invite you to take a look at the author interviews that were featured throughout the year on This is a great way to catch up on the discussions you may have missed --- and to re-read what some of your favorite authors had to say about their books.
Click here to see our roundup of 2008 interviews.


What to Give/What to Get Holiday Gift Guide for Teens

Sometimes deciding what to get is as hard as deciding what to give. So we've created a special What to Give/What to Get Guide --- a list of books just for teens that will give you tons of gift-giving ideas (and maybe a few to put on YOUR list).
Click here to read our What to Give/What to Get Holiday Gift Guide for teens.'s Holiday Basket of Cheer Contest --- Announcing the Five Lucky Winners!

Our Holiday Basket of Cheer Contest has ended. Thanks to all who entered, and congratulations to the winners!

Christine from St. Charles, MO; Georgeanna from Syosset, NY; Laura from Mill Run, PA; Megan from North Liberty, IN; and Shania from Apple Valley, MN.

Even if you weren't a winner, may we suggest you take a look at our featured titles? These are books you'll want to read any time of the year. 

AIRHEAD by Meg Cabot
KENDRA by Coe Booth
LOVE IS HELL by Melissa Marr, Scott Westerfeld, Justine Larbalestier, Gabrielle Zevin and Laurie Faria Stolarz
THE LUXE by Anna Godbersen
MELTING STONES by Tamora Pierce
ONE MILLION THINGS: A Visual Encyclopedia by DK Publishing
RAPUNZEL’S REVENGE by Shannon and Dean Hale


Click here to read more about the titles spotlighted in our Holiday Basket of Cheer feature.

Special Feature: IMPOSSIBLE by Nancy Werlin

Nancy Werlin is the author of seven novels for young adults, including DOUBLE HELIX, THE RULES OF SURVIVAL and the newly released IMPOSSIBLE, which combines romantic suspense and fantasy in a tale about a young woman who discovers that, as the result of a family curse, she must perform three seemingly impossible tasks in order to save her unborn daughter. In this interview with's Chris Shanley-Dillman, Werlin explains how the plot arose from listening to "Scarborough Fair" --- a centuries-old ballad popularized by Simon & Garfunkel in the 1960s --- and discusses the metaphor behind the story's villainous Elfin Knight. She also talks about how this book thematically differs from many of today's YA novels, shares her thoughts on blessings and curses, and reveals details about her next manuscript, which was inspired by a song from the musical Wicked.

IMPOSSIBLE by Nancy Werlin (Romantic Suspense/Fantasy)
Lucy has nine months to break an ancient curse in order to save both herself and her unborn daughter.

Inspired by the ballad “Scarborough Fair,” this riveting novel combines suspense, fantasy and romance for an intensely page-turning and masterfully original tale.

Lucy is 17 when she discovers that the women of her family have been cursed through the generations, forced to attempt three seemingly impossible tasks or to fall into madness upon their child’s birth. But Lucy is the first girl who won’t be alone as she tackles the list. She has her fiercely protective foster parents and her childhood friend Zach beside her. Do they have love and strength enough to overcome an age-old evil?

here to read an excerpt from IMPOSSIBLE.

-Click here to read our interview with Nancy Werlin.
here to read Nancy Werlin’s bio.


Click here to read a review of IMPOSSIBLE.

Nominate Your Favorite Books of 2008 for the Children's Book Council's Teen Choice Book Award!
In association with the Children’s Book Council (CBC), is giving teens a very special opportunity to let their voices be heard by telling us their five favorite books of 2008. The five titles that receive the most “votes” will serve as the finalists for the CBC’s 2009 Teen Choice Book Award. Later we will tell readers where they can go vote for them once the five finalists have been determined. The winner will be announced in May 2009.
Click here for all the details.'s Grab Bag of Books Contest

Every month in our Grab Bag of Books contest, five readers are awarded a signature tote bag filled with some of the hottest books --- and may even include a sneak peak at titles that haven’t been released yet!

This contest period’s winners will each receive a copy of CROSS MY HEART AND HOPE TO SPY by Ally Carter, EON: DRAGONEYE REBORN by Alison Goodman, THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins and WHAT I SAW AND HOW I LIED by Judy Blundell.

-Click here for the winners of our past giveaways.

Click here for all the contest details.

Now in Stores: IF I WAS YOUR GIRL by Ni-Ni Simone

IF I WAS YOUR GIRL by Ni-Ni Simone (Fiction)
IF I WAS YOUR GIRL is a drama-filled, humorous hip-hop teen novel about love, life lessons, and learning how to be a teenager again...

Toi McKnight's always rocking the latest fashion trends, and hanging at every bangin' party, but all that came at a price --- now she's the 17-year-old mother of a baby boy. Between bills and adult responsibilities, she's got zero time for sizzling gossip, chilling with her friends or doing the things she used to.

When unexpected sparks start flying between her and 6'2", deliciously fine Harlem, Toi knows she's got to end any chance of a relationship, especially since he doesn't date teenage mothers and she's vowed to never love again. But every time Toi tries to cut Harlem loose, she falls harder for him. All the other drama in her life doesn't help the situation either, especially when her son's father comes back around. Toi tries to do the right thing, but that just might put her on heartbreak express for good.

Click here to read more about IF I WAS YOUR GIRL.

Cool New Books for November and December
November and December’s roundup of Cool New Books includes PERSISTENCE OF MEMORY, a thrilling tale of love, loyalty and illusion from the bestselling author of the Kiesha’ra series, Amelia Atwater-Rhodes; LOVE IS HELL, a collection of supernatural stories courtesy of Melissa Marr, Scott Westerfeld, Justine Larbalestier, Gabrielle Zevin and Laurie Faria Stolarz; LILY DALE: CONNECTING, the third installment in Wendy Corsi Staub’s paranormal suspense series, in which Calla finally uncovers the mystery behind her mother’s death; HERE LIES ARTHUR, Philip Reeve’s retelling of the legend of King Arthur, who is portrayed as the leader of a ragtag war band; DEATH’S SHADOW, book seven in The Demonata horror series by Cirque du Freak author Darren Shan; and THE TALES OF BEEDLE THE BARD, a collection of five fairy tales courtesy of J.K. Rowling that gives new insight into the world of Harry Potter.
Click here to read our Cool New Books feature for November and December.


November and December's New in Paperback Roundup

November and December’s roundup of New in Paperback titles includes THE DANGEROUS DAYS OF DANIEL X, James Patterson's sci-fi adventure about a boy who uses his unique gifts to hunt down the killer who brutally murdered his parents; WYVERNHAIL, the fifth and final installment in Amelia Atwater-Rhodes’s The Kiesha’ra series, in which readers find out what happens after Princess Oliza abdicates the throne of Wyvern’s Court; UNBELIEVABLE, book four in Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars series that marks a return to the exclusive town of Rosewood, Pennsylvania; COVER-UP, a John Feinstein mystery that finds Steve Thomas and Susan Carol Anderson sitting on the biggest sports scandal of the decade; RIGHT BEHIND YOU by Gail Giles, a psychologically complex novel in which a boy learns that sometimes your own past can be the scariest thing of all; and THE NIGHT MY SISTER WENT MISSING, a suspenseful mystery from Carol Plum-Ucci involving a summer night, a group of teens --- and a loaded gun.
Click here to see what's New in Paperback for November and December.

This Month's Reviews

In this second volume of M. T. Anderson's historical epic, Octavian flees from the College of Lucidity, where he has been raised in isolation, to the British-occupied city of Boston. He enlists with Lord Dunmore’s Royal Ethiopian Regiment on the promise that he will earn his freedom from slavery if he fights for the Crown. Reviewed by Sarah A. Wood and excerpted. 

HERE LIES ARTHUR by Philip Reeve (Fiction/Action & Adventure)
Gwyna is servant to Myrddin, bard to the young and brutal warlord Arthur. Exchanging her service for Myrddin's protection, Gwyna witnesses Arthur's rise to power. HERE LIES ARTHUR is a record of her role in the events that one day will become legend. Reviewed by Sarah A. Wood.

PERSISTENCE OF MEMORY by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes (Fantasy)
In times of stress, Erin Misrahe has always been overcome by her alter ego, Shevaun, whose violent behavior wreaks havoc on those around her. Erin can never remember anything about these episodes and is grateful to have been spared them for a while. But when a protective friend comes back into her life, he insists that Shevaun is a vampire who actually exists apart from Erin. Reviewed by Amy Alessio. 

LOVE IS HELL by Melissa Marr, Scott Westerfeld, Justine Larbalestier, Gabrielle Zevin and Laurie Faria Stolarz (Supernatural Fiction Anthology)
In these supernatural stories by Melissa Marr (WICKED LOVELY), Scott Westerfeld (SPECIALS), Justine Larbalestier (MAGIC OR MADNESS), Gabrielle Zevin (ELSEWHERE) and Laurie Faria Stolarz (BLUE IS FOR NIGHTMARES), love may be twisted and turned around, but it's more potent than ever on its quest to conquer all. Reviewed by Amy Alessio. 

LET IT SNOW: Three Holiday Stories by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle (Romance/Humor)
When one thinks of Christmas, images of sparkling snowfalls, traditional family dinners and children dreaming of the shiny presents that Santa might bring probably come to mind. Today’s holiday season, however, is sometimes more stressful than joyful. Fortunately, reading LET IT SNOW, a collection of interconnecting Christmas-themed stories, is one such stress-reducer. Reviewed Sarah Sawtelle. 

LILY DALE: CONNECTING by Wendy Corsi Staub (Paranormal Suspense)
Now that Calla has accepted her ability to communicate with the Other Side, she’s desperate to connect with the one spirit whose energy she can’t seem to feel anywhere: her late mother. As ominous supernatural signs imply that the devastating loss might not have been an accident, Calla sets out to uncover the truth. Reviewed by Sarah Sawtelle.

DEATH’S SHADOW: The Demonata #7 by Darren Shan (Horror/Supernatural)
With Beranabus, Grubbs and Kernel off exploring the universe of the Demonata for clues about the Shadow behind the demon invasion, Bec is left behind in Carcery Vale for safekeeping. But with Dervish's health on the decline, Lord Loss knows she's the most vulnerable piece of the Kah-Gash. As hoards of demons, werewolves and zombies advance, Bec needs to figure out how to reach Beranabus with crucial information about the Shadow-fast. Reviewed by Sally M. Tibbetts. 

WAYS TO LIVE FOREVER by Sally Nicholls (Fiction)
Eleven-year-old Sam McQueen has leukemia and sadly won’t live to see his 12th birthday. WAYS TO LIVE FOREVER is his story: his hopes, his dreams, his goals, his questions and his thoughts on life. Come and share this profoundly moving debut novel, become Sam’s friend and carry part of him in your heart forever. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman. 

CRICKET MAN by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (Fiction)
Kenny Sykes is determined to make his mark somehow in his new town and his new school. In the meantime, he has appointed himself the secret savior of the hundreds of crickets who seem bound to commit suicide by jumping into his pool. He is not entirely sure why he wants to save them. But once school starts again, Cricket Man finds that there are more important things that need saving. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

THE GHOST'S CHILD by Sonya Hartnett (Fiction)
Maddy arrives home one day to find a peculiar boy waiting for her. She tells him the story of her life long ago, when she fell painfully in love with a free spirit named Feather. He put aside his wild ways to live with her in a little cottage, conceived with her a child never to be born, and disappeared --- leaving an inconsolable Maddy to follow after him on a fantastical journey across the sea. Reviewed by Norah Piehl. 

BABYLONNE by Catherine Jinks (Historical Fiction)
Sixteen-year-old Babylonne, an orphan, lives in the 13th century with her abusive aunt and grandmother. When they start planning to marry her off to an old man, Babylonne chops off her hair and runs away, disguised as a young boy. She longs to join the noble knights and assist them with their mighty quests. But then she actually gets what she wished for. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

THE LETTER WRITER by Ann Rinaldi (Historical Fiction)
Nat Turner was a slave who led the largest slave rebellion in the South beginning on August 21, 1831. When finished, at least 55 people were slaughtered. The mystery is that before this occurred, he was known as a Preacher of God’s Word among the area slaves. Ann Rinaldi brings the man and the surrounding events to vivid life from the point of view of 11-year-old Harriet Whitehead. Reviewed by Amy Alessio.

PLAY ME by Laura Ruby (Fiction)
Eddy knows how to play the game. Not only does he have a hit online TV show, but in the game of love Eddy knows all the tricks and who will play with him. The girls who know he doesn't make any promises. The girls who are cool with it. But as graduation looms, everything starts deviating from Eddy's master script. Reviewed by Sally M. Tibbetts.

DOWN SAND MOUNTAIN by Steve Watkins (Fiction)
Twelve-year-old Dewey Turner is giving life a go in 1966 Florida. Though he hasn’t had the best of luck with popularity, Dewey is positive it will get better when he starts at the junior/senior high school. But it doesn’t. In fact, it gets worse. Dewey muddles through the confusion of racial rights, the Vietnam War, death, growing up, morality and even a haunted hotel while trying to figure out himself. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman. 

UNSETTLED: The Problem of Loving Israel by Marc Aronson (History)
Marc Aronson's new book explores the history of Israel, from the beginning of the Zionist movement to the birth of Israel as a state in 1948 to the intense conflicts over Israel, the Palestinians and the Jewish settlements of today. Along the way Aronson intersperses stories from his own family's long experiences in Israel. Reviewed by Sarah Hannah Gómez.


Click here to read this month's reviews.

Poll, Question and Word of Mouth

What did you think of the books you read in 2008? 

I read some of the best books that I ever have read.
There were a few books that excited me.
I think this was not a really exciting year.

I am not sure how I feel.

-Click here to answer the poll.


We’ve updated our Coming Soon feature with January thru April titles. Name up to five books releasing during these months that you’re most looking forward to reading in 2009.

-Click here to answer the question.

Word of Mouth: 

This contest period, one teen reader will be randomly chosen to win a copy of 3 WILLOWS: The Sisterhood Grows by Ann Brashares and FOREVER PRINCESS: Princess Diaries, Volume X by Meg Cabot. See the official rules here. To put your name in the hat, submit your current reading list and ratings by completing the form here.

-Click here to see the most recent Word of Mouth comments.

Have a great month...and make some time each day to read something you enjoy!

Our mailing address is:
The Book Report Network
250 W. 57th Street - Suite 1228
New York, New York 10107

--- Carol Fitzgerald for