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January 2012
January 2012

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Teens Who Read...
Last weekend, I was in Dallas at a convention where there was a more than two-hour panel in which teens talked about 120 books that were being considered for a list of the 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults. A group of more than 70 teens discussed the books that they liked --- and those that they did not. Many of the presenters gave excellent reasons for their defense for or against a book. I found myself thinking of all of you as I listened to them. Such a great afternoon of book conversation and lively commentary!

We have another way for you to share what your favorite books of the year were. In collaboration with the Children’s Book Council and Every Child a Reader, we are collecting nominations for the Teen Choice Book of the Year. The five most popular books from 2011 will be entered into a final round of voting, from which the ultimate winner will be chosen. You only have until Wednesday, February 15th to make your voices be heard, so please do so now! You would not want your favorite books --- and authors --- left out.

Also in Dallas, the winners of the 2012 ALA Youth Media Awards were announced on Monday, and it was such fun to be in the room when the awards were being being announced. It’s a great lineup of winning titles, so be sure to check out our Awards feature to see which of your favorite books got prizes.

Now let’s turn the focus to this month's update.

A number of standout books have hit stores this month, including THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green and WHY WE BROKE UP by Daniel Handler.

In THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, Hazel struggles with terminal cancer and is attending a Cancer Kid Support Group to get through it. When a hot new member joins the group, Hazel’s future begins to look up. Reviewer Norah Piehl says, “John Green shatters expectations with this novel, turning assumptions about ‘tragic’ books --- perhaps even about the idea of tragedy itself --- on their heads." John has been touring, and most of the events have been sold out. I got to hear him speak in Dallas, and he was just terrific.

WHY WE BROKE UP by Daniel Handler (best known as the author of the Lemony Snicket books) highlights an experience everyone can relate to --- breaking up. Here, Min tells the story of her relationship with Ed through the objects she has in a box that she’s returning to him. Norah Piehl calls the book “both bitter and funny” and says it proves “that the end can be just as compelling as the beginning.”

Both these titles are our latest Word of Mouth prize books. So if you’d like to win them, let us know what you’re reading and you automatically will be entered! We love to see what you have to say about the books that you are reading.

We have a new special feature for you that spotlights THE JERK MAGNET, which kicks off Melody Carlson's Life at Kingston High series. In this first installment, Chelsea gets a makeover from her stepmom that she winds up not entirely happy with. In our interview with Melody, she lends her opinion on makeovers and our society’s obsession with exterior beauty.

And in another special feature, we highlight Abby McDonald's latest book, GETTING OVER GARRETT DELANEY. Sadie is best friends with Garrett Delaney --- and she wishes they were more than friends. Garrett, however, does not feel the same way. Will she be able to get over him? We are giving away 30 copies of the book to lucky readers who enter by Wednesday, February 22nd at noon ET.

We know it’s not February yet, but Valentine’s Day is fast approaching! Get ready with our first-ever Valentine’s Day contest. We’re giving away four books you’ll fall in love with, along with a bag of Ghirardelli Chocolate Squares. Enter by Thursday, February 9th at noon ET for your chance to win one of these great prizes to share with your Valentine --- or to keep for yourself, of course.

Our Books on Screen feature has also been updated this month. “Pretty Little Liars”, based on Sara Shepard’s popular series, finally resumes its second season on ABC Family. Check out how former best friends Aria, Emily, Hanna and Spencer are getting along after having been arrested. And a new movie based on Gaby Rodriguez’s memoir THE PREGNANCY PROJECT will premiere on Lifetime on January 28th, and you won’t want to miss it. Everyone told Gaby she would become a teen mom, just like her mother and sister, but Gaby did not agree. To see what it would be like to “live down” to people’s expectations, she pretended to be pregnant and recorded her friends’ reactions in a senior project that turned into a book.

In our Cool & New Books roundup for January, we have lassoed many wonderful titles, so be sure to check out the feature as you browse the site to get an idea for what to read next. If you don’t see anything there, check out our whopping 19 new reviews this month, or our updated Adult Books You Want to Read feature --- which includes Kristin Hannah’s NIGHT ROAD, now available in paperback.

And don’t forget about World Book Night! On April 23rd, there will be an EPIC night of book giveaways. To spread the love of reading, the World Book Night council is sending 50,000 people into their communities to give away free books. Want to be one of them? Then sign up here by February 1st for your chance to do so. There are a ton of great YA books on the giveaway list, and you only have to be 16 to be a “book giver.”

In our poll and question this month, we’re curious about what percentage of your friends read for pleasure --- and why some say they don’t. We love knowing more about teens’ reading habits, so please weigh in!

Well, that’s all for now. Read on for much, much more...

Carol Fitzgerald (

Now in Stores: THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green
THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green (Fiction)
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel is still terminal. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: WHY WE BROKE UP by Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman
WHY WE BROKE UP written by Daniel Handler, art by Maira Kalman (Fiction)
Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.
Click here to read a review.
The 2012 ALA Youth Media Awards
Each year the American Library Association (ALA) honors books and media for children and teens. Recognized worldwide for the high quality they represent, ALA awards --- including the Newbery, Printz, Sibert and Coretta Scott King Book Awards --- guide parents, educators, librarians and others in selecting the best materials for youth. Selected by committees composed of librarians and other literature and media experts, the awards encourage original and creative work in the field of children’s and young adult literature and media.
Click here to see this year's winning titles and honor books.
New Special Feature: THE JERK MAGNET by Melody Carlson
In THE JERK MAGNET, the first installment in Melody Carlson’s Life at Kingston High series, high school student Chelsea Martin goes through a complex transformation when her stepmom gives her a makeover. Though at first Chelsea loves her new look, she soon realizes it’s attracting all the wrong guys --- and repelling potential friends. In this interview, conducted by’s Michele Howe, Carlson discusses her reasons for writing about society’s obsession with outer beauty. She also offers insight into Chelsea’s character, shares her own opinions about beauty and self-esteem, and gives glimpses into her upcoming books.

THE JERK MAGNET: Life at Kingston High, Book 1 by Melody Carlson (Fiction)
When Chelsea Martin’s future stepmother helps her transform from gawky and geeky into the hottest girl at her new school, Chelsea is pretty sure it’s the best thing that ever happened to her. But her hot new look has a downside. She’s attracting lots of guys who all have one thing in common: they’re jerks. Oh, and stealing the attention of all the guys in school doesn’t exactly make her BFF material for the girls.

Finally a great guy catches her eye. But he’s the only one around who doesn’t give her a second glance. Can Chelsea come up with a plan to get his attention? Or will her new image ruin everything?

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read a review.
-Click here to read Melody Carlson’s bio.

Click here to read our interview.
Announcing's First Annual Valentine's Day Contest and Feature
The countdown to February 14th is on! And we're spreading the love with our first-ever Valentine's Day contest and feature. From now through February 9th, readers will have the chance to win one of our five Valentine's Day prize packages, which includes one copy of each of our featured books and a bag of Ghirardelli Chocolate Squares.

Our featured Valentine’s Day titles are:

-CINDER: Book One in the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
-FALLEN IN LOVE: A Fallen Novel in Stories by Lauren Kate
-FIRST DATE by Krista McGee
-THE LUCKY ONE (movie tie-in edition) by Nicholas Sparks
Click here to read all the contest details and enter to win.
Special Contest: Win a Copy of GETTING OVER GARRETT DELANEY by Abby McDonald
We are celebrating the release of GETTING OVER GARRETT DELANEY --- the story of a 17-year-old girl caught in an unrequited crush --- with a special contest. 30 readers will have the opportunity to each win a copy of this latest novel from Abby McDonald, whose previous books include SOPHOMORE SWITCH and THE ANTI-PROM. The deadline for entries is Wednesday, February 22nd at noon ET.

Seventeen-year-old Sadie is in love: epic, heartfelt, and utterly one-sided. The object of her obsession --- ahem, affection --- is her best friend, Garrett Delaney, who has been oblivious to Sadie's feelings ever since he sauntered into her life and wowed her with his passion for Proust (not to mention his deep-blue eyes).

For two long, painful years, Sadie has been Garrett's constant companion, sharing his taste in everything from tragic Russian literature to art films to '80s indie rock --- all to no avail. But when Garrett leaves for a summer literary retreat, Sadie is sure that the absence will make his heart grow fonder --- until he calls to say he's fallen in love. With some other girl!

A heartbroken Sadie realizes that she's finally had enough. It's time for total Garrett detox! Aided by a barista job, an eclectic crew of new friends (including the hunky chef, Josh), and a customized self-help guide, Sadie embarks on a summer of personal reinvention full of laughter, mortifying meltdowns, and a double shot of love.

-Click here to read an excerpt.

Click here to read all the contest details and enter to win.
Books on Screen: The Pregnancy Project and "Pretty Little Liars"

After a suspenseful hiatus, "Pretty Little Liars" finally continues its second season. A month ago, Aria, Emily, Hanna and Spencer were arrested. Now, tensions between them are running higher than ever. No longer inseparable best friends, they are at each other's throats, and they have cut Emily off completely. Meanwhile, "A" remains unidentified. Has she finally won her cruel game?

Meanwhile, The Pregnancy Project, based on the true account of Gaby Rodriguez's faked pregnancy, premieres on Lifetime on January 28th. Gaby grew up being told that she would end up a teen mom, like her own mother and sister. Gaby had different plans for her future, but she was curious about how others would react if she "lived down" to their expectations. Would they lose respect for her? Would they disregard all that she had achieved thus far and regard her as just another pregnant teen statistic? For her senior project, she sought answers to these questions --- by faking her own pregnancy.

Click here to see January’s Books on Screen feature.
Nominate Your Favorite Books of 2011 for the Children's Book Council's Teen Choice of the Year
In association with the Children’s Book Council (CBC) and Every Child a Reader (ECAR), is giving you a very special opportunity to let your voices be heard by telling us your five favorite books of 2011. The five titles that receive the most votes will serve as the finalists for the CBC’s 2012 Teen Choice Book of the Year. Once the five finalists have been determined, we will tell you where you can go vote for them. The winner will be announced in May 2012.

The voting will be open until Wednesday, February 15th at 11:59PM ET.

Click here to nominate your favorite books of 2011.
Celebrate World Book Night on April 23rd!
We are pleased to announce World Book Night, an evening of book giveaways that is set to take place simultaneously in the U.S., the U.K. and Ireland on the evening of April 23rd.

As a way of connecting with other readers, 50,000 people will head out into their communities that night to hand out free books. You only have to be 16 to give books away, so sign up here by February 1st for your chance to do so. Everyone who signs up will be given 20 copies of a title (you list three choices in your application). The goal for the evening is to give away a million free books!

The list of featured titles includes many that appeal to teens. Among them are:

-THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak
-ENDER’S GAME by Orson Scott Card
-THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins
-THE LOVELY BONES by Alice Sebold
-WINTERGIRLS by Laurie Halse Anderson

The entire list of 30 titles can be viewed here.

Keep an eye out for more information on World Book Night in the coming weeks. And apply now to be a book giver.

Click here to read more about World Book Night and to sign up to give away free books.
Cool & New Books for January

January’s roundup of Cool & New Books includes THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, John Green’s novel about a teenage cancer patient whose outlook on life changes when she meets a gorgeous new member of Cancer Kid Support Group; FRACTURE, a supernatural thriller about a teen who escapes death after falling into icy waters and now finds herself drawn to the dying; and THE PREGNANCY PROJECT, the memoir of a high school student who made national headlines in 2011 when she revealed she had faked her own pregnancy for a class project to find out how her community would react.

Among the paperbacks releasing this month are ABANDON by Meg Cabot, a dark and fantastical story about a girl who encounters an elusive stranger who takes lives --- but not in the way she ever imagined; DARK FLAME, the fourth book in Alyson Noël’s The Immortals series, in which Ever tries to help Haven transition into life as an immortal, but struggles against Haven’s reckless, dangerous behavior; and THE LAST SUMMER OF THE DEATH WARRIORS by Francisco X. Stork, which follows an impassioned teenager as he seeks revenge against his sister’s killer, but then meets someone who unexpectedly changes his life.

Click here to read January’s Cool & New Books roundup.
This Month's Reviews

THERE IS NO DOG by Meg Rosoff (Fiction)
Like most teenage boys, Bob has convinced himself he’s in love. Unlike other teenage boys, Bob happens to be the creator of the world. As the earth and its weather patterns reflect his mood, mankind better watch out, because Bob is head over heels --- or at least he thinks he is. Reviewed by Benjamin Boche.

IRISES by Francisco X. Stork (Fiction)
When their father dies, two sisters must support themselves and their mother, who is in a permanent vegetative state. With their sudden freedom, both girls also struggle with dark new temptations in this provocative novel from the author from MARCELO IN THE REAL WORLD. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

FRACTURE by Megan Miranda (Supernatural Thriller)
Delaney Maxwell was pulled from an icy lake after 11 minutes underwater, yet she miraculously survived. But now, pulled by strange sensations she can't control or explain, Delaney finds herself drawn to the dying. Is her altered brain now predicting death, or causing it? Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

Larten Crepsley is forced to make a choice: hide in the shadows of the human world, or take his place among the vampire clan and protect those weaker than himself. But enemies are waiting, traps are laid, and Larten's path is bound to be strewn with bodies. Reviewed by Sally M. Tibbetts.

X-MEN: AGE OF X written by Mike Carey, illustrated by Clay Mann (Graphic Novel)
In a world where the X-Men never existed, and mutantkind has been hunted to extinction, the few remaining mutants have banded together to make their last stand. But when a conspiracy is discovered within their stronghold, Fortress X, could it be that mutantkind's last bastion will crumble from the inside out? Reviewed by John Hogan.

WHAT BOYS REALLY WANT by Pete Hautman (Fiction)
Adam has decided to write and publish a book about what boys want and is not letting his best friend, Lita, stop him. Lita is the writer, though, and she’s sure that Adam has no idea what he’s doing. All the answers can be found in this hilarious story about what boys and girls really want. Reviewed by Benjamin Boche.

THE QUEEN OF KENTUCKY by Alecia Whitaker (Fiction)
After graduating from a small Catholic grade school, 14-year-old Ricki Jo Winstead decides to shuck her Kentucky farm girl image. As she prepares to enter a larger public high school, she tells her best friend Luke that she wants to be called “Ericka.” But is being popular worth losing life-long friendships? Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt.

DEATH WATCH: The Undertaken Trilogy, Book 1 by Ari Berk (Gothic Horror)
Silas Umber’s father, Amos, was an undertaker, a person charged with bringing peace to the dead. When Amos goes missing, Silas discovers that he is responsible for taking over the family business. The dead have many secrets, though, and Silas isn’t sure he’s ready to deal with them. Reviewed by Benjamin Boche.

DARK INSIDE by Jeyn Roberts (Post-Apocalyptic Thriller)
Teenagers Mason, Aries, Clementine and Michael watch helplessly as the world around them begins to crumble. Earthquakes and mass killings threaten humanity, and these four individuals all must forge different paths in order to survive. Living through the night seems impossible, and hope is nowhere to be found. Reviewed by Benjamin Boche.

FINDING SOMEWHERE by Joseph Monninger (Fiction)
Determined to set an old, ailing horse free, best friends Hattie and Delores drive him west in search of rangeland. But the road takes some unexpected turns as the girls get their own taste of freedom --- and as they confront the reasons they left home. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

WINTER TOWN by Stephen Emond (Fiction)
Every year, straight-laced, Ivy League-bound Evan looks forward to a visit from his childhood friend, Lucy. But suddenly, Lucy has changed into a dark, scowling stranger, and Evan is determined to find the “Old Lucy” that he knows still exists. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

SCORED by Lauren McLaughlin (Dystopian Fiction)
Forget everything important in life. All that matters is the score. A high score means the college and job of your choice. A low score means a tough life ahead of you. For Imani, the score means having to choose between friendship and questioning everything she’s ever known. Reviewed by Benjamin Boche.

THE SHARP TIME by Mary O’Connell (Fiction)
The death of her single mother has left high school senior Sandinista Jones alone in the world, subject to the random vulnerability of everyday life. When the school system lets her down, her grief and instability intensify, and she ponders a violent act of revenge. Reviewed by Sarah Hannah Gomez.

THE BETRAYAL KNOWS MY NAME, Volume 1 written and illustrated by Hotaru Odagiri (Manga)
Abandoned as a baby and raised in an orphanage, the kind-hearted high-schooler Yuki Sakuragi is driven by a need to find the reason for his existence. Plagued by mysterious dreams, Yuki also possesses the strange ability to read the deepest, darkest thoughts of anyone he touches. Reviewed by Danica Davidson.

THE BETRAYAL KNOWS MY NAME, Volume 2 written and illustrated by Hotaru Odagiri (Manga)
Welcomed into the arms of the Giou clan and the Zweilt, Yuki reaches out to his comrades even as he is drawn into their war with the darkness. But the demonic Duras continue to spread their malevolence around Yuki, and the members of his new family are not impervious either, as one of their own vanishes without a trace and yet another is cornered by a sudden ambush. Reviewed by Danica Davidson.

MY GIRLFRIEND’S A GEEK, Volume 4 written by Pentabu, illustrated by Rize Shinba (Manga)
Last time, Yuiko proudly declared to Taiga that she'd picked up a "girlfriend" for herself! Thankfully(?), it turned out to be none other than Kouji's cosplay-loving little sister, Akari. But now, Yuiko is getting wary that Taiga may have found a little piece on the side of his own! The truth is, he's still trying to keep his part-time schoolboy tutoring gig a secret from his girlfriend. Reviewed by Danica Davidson.

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:

THE FLIGHT OF GEMMA HARDY by Margot Livesey (Fiction)
When Gemma Hardy is orphaned and left to fend for herself, she moves to the Orkney Islands, where she is hired as an au pair for the niece of charming London businessman Hugh Sinclair. Everyone in the island community, including Gemma, is intrigued by the enigmatic Hugh, and soon, Gemma and Hugh begin a complex relationship that will change Gemma’s life forever.

NIGHT ROAD by Kristin Hannah (Fiction)
For 18 years, Jude Farraday has put the needs of her twins, Zach and Mia, before her own. And it shows. Then Lexi, a former foster child, befriends Mia --- and when Zach falls in love with her, the three become inseparable. Jude now struggles to keep her kids on track. And on a hot summer’s night, her worst fears are realized.

NIGHT ROAD is now available in paperback.

THE LOVER’S DICTIONARY by David Levithan (Fiction)
How does one talk about love? Do we even have words to describe it? Taking a unique approach to this problem, David Levithan’s nameless narrator constructs the story of his relationship as a dictionary. Through these short entries, he provides a window into the great events and quotidian trifles of couples, offering a moving portrait of love in our time.

THE LOVER'S DICTIONARY is a recipient of the 2012 Alex Award, which is given to books written for adults that have special appeal to teens.

Click here to see all the adult books we recommend you read.
Poll and Question of the Month


Approximately what percentage of your friends read for pleasure?

Less than 25%
I’m not sure.

-Click here to answer the poll.


What is the leading reason (name up to 3) that your friends say they do not read for pleasure?

-Click here to answer the question.

Word of Mouth: Tell Us What You're Reading --- and You Could Win TWO Books!
Tell us what books you are reading and loving --- and even those you don't.

This contest period, one teen reader will be randomly chosen to win a copy of THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green and WHY WE BROKE UP by Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman. Tell us what you are reading here and rate the titles 1-5 by noon ET on Friday, February 17th to ensure that you are in the running to win these books.
Click here to enter our Word of Mouth contest.
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