Skip to main content

Teenreads Monthly Update

Late May 2015
May 27, 2015
Quick Links to Features on
Buying a book online? Use these links and support!
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, IndieBound Gets Collaborative
Authors Jodi Picoult (middle) and Samantha Van Leer (right) with their editor Beverly Horowitz (left) talking about OFF THE PAGE at the Random House Open House on May 1st, 2015
Authors Jodi Picoult (middle) and Samantha Van Leer (right) with their editor Beverly Horowitz (left) talking about OFF THE PAGE at the Random House Open House on May 1st, 2015

Hi Teenreaders,

I always love to ask an author about his or her writing process because it’s so intensely personal. Some compose a rigid outline before they begin page one, and others just dive right into the manuscript, trusting their characters to lead the way. Some only write in the wee hours of the morning or at their favorite coffee shop or while disconnected from the internet, while still others write five-page biographies for each character or create bulletin boards of images that evoke the mood of their fictional world. And from all of my conversations, no two authors do it the same way.

And this has always made me wonder --- how on earth do authors write books together? I am curious because more and more books on the market aren’t just by Awesome Author X or Amazing Writer Y --- they’re by Awesome Author X and Amazing Writer Y --- two authors with one concept, one set of characters, one climax.

In some of these books, each author writes from a different character’s perspective --- in the outer space romance THESE BROKEN STARS, Meagan Spooner wrote Lilac's chapters and Amie Kaufman wrote Tarver's, and in John Green’s and David Levithan’s WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON, each author took on one of the boys with the shared name. But other times, there’s just one voice, one story, one perspective --- both authors write every line together.

Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer are one such example --- their book BETWEEN THE LINES came out in 2013 and its companion novel, OFF THE PAGE, was published just last week. And to add a further complication, the two aren’t just co-authors --- they’re mother and daughter! So, how did they do it?

Well, in a literal sense, by sticking to a strict routine. They locked themselves in Jodi’s home office for eight hours every day over a single summer and spoke the entire story out loud as Jodi typed (“I wasn’t allowed to type because I wasn’t fast enough,” Sam explained at a recent panel at a Random House Open House). Occasionally, they even spoke the exact same sentence at the same time. Was that a result of spending so much time working together? DNA? Who knows, but clearly, their system worked. They did the same thing while editing BETWEEN THE LINES, but it was a little bit more difficult with OFF THE PAGE --- Sam was at Vassar College, and they would edit between 10pm and midnight on speaker phone while one of them typed. It’s definitely a bit more challenging when you’re physically far away!

While the whole thing sounds a bit intense and unorthodox, both Jodi and Sam agreed that their books were actually elevated by having two authors. First, Jodi and Sam were able to pool their experiences and resources, making the novels richer. Jodi is a seasoned writer, of course, so she could help guide the writing process. But, at least while writing BETWEEN THE LINES, Sam was a high school student, and thus could add touches of the real teen experience to the novel (Jodi particularly loved Sam’s observation that popular girls “cluster together like grapes. Do you ever see just one?”, a line that made it into the first book).

Plus, working with someone else made Jodi and Sam individually better, too. “’You can do better’ was the theme” of OFF THE PAGE, Sam said. “It was the line that came out the most.” While it must be hard to not only deal with your inner critic as a writer but an actual critic too, such conversations kept each author working to the best of her ability. You can’t slack off when there’s someone who knows that you’re capable of producing stronger work…and will tell you so.

And despite any arguments or disagreements, Jodi and Sam were always able to see eye to eye in the end. As their editor Beverly Horowitz said, “I gave comments to both, and they came back as one.”

It's one thing to hear all of this from an author team and an editor, though, and an entirely other story to ask a reader's opinion. Luckily, at least in this instance of collaboration, it worked --- Teenreads reviewer Christi Sheehan called OFF THE PAGE "sheer brilliance" that "marries the quick wit and pacing of Picoult’s bestsellers with a youthful sheen that is all Van Leer." To read the full review, click here!

What do you think when you read books written by more than one author? Can you tell the difference? Does it turn you off or intrigue you? And would you ever try writing your own collaborative book with a friend, or, as Sam did, with your mom? Let me know at --- I’d love to hear!

Enjoy the rest of the newsletter, which, among other things, features our Teenreads Beach Bag of Books contest, one of our most fun contests of the year! We know some of you are out of school and others finish in the next few weeks, so it's definitely a great opportunity to get some books for summer reading.

One more note: If you live in the New York area and will be at BookCon on Saturday, make sure to let me know! I’ll be there too and it’s always fun to meet our readers!

Best wishes,

--- Shara (


Beach Bag of Books 2015
It's time to think about summer reading --- and we're not talking about the list of books you'll be receiving for Required Summer Reading from school. We're talking about the kinds of books that you're glad you now have time to kick back with and enjoy. The way we see it, it wouldn't be summer without sun, surf and great reading. You supply the beach chair, and we'll provide the fantastic fiction in our Ninth Annual Beach Bag of Books Feature and Contest. From now through Monday, July 27th at noon ET, five lucky readers will win a selection of the featured books.

This year's titles include:

THE FINISHER by David Baldacci
KILLER WITHIN: Killer Instinct #2 by S.E. Green
ONLY EVER YOURS by Louise O'Neill
P.S. I STILL LOVE YOU by Jenny Han
A SCHOOL FOR UNUSUAL GIRLS: A Stranje House Novel by Kathleen Baldwin
SINNER by Maggie Stiefvater
WILDFLOWER by Alecia Whitaker

Click here to enter our Beach Bag of Books contest!

Series Feature: KILLER INSTINCT and KILLER WITHIN by S.E. Green

You get all sorts of female protagonists in YA literature, whether they’re fighting to save an empire, overcoming a difficult family situation or trying to summon the guts to talk to their crush. Lane, the protagonist of KILLER INSTINCT and KILLER WITHIN by S.E. Green, is a slightly rarer breed --- she’s obsessed with serial killers, and she herself struggles with an urge to kill.

Intrigued? Check out our series feature, which offers reviews of both books in the Killer Instinct series, an excerpt of the first book and an interview with Green, where she talks about the most difficult scenes to write, the inspiration for Lane and more!

Please note that these books feature mature content.

Click here to read the interview with S.E. Green.
Click here to read the review of KILLER INSTINCT.
Click here to read the review of KILLER WITHIN.
Click here to read the excerpt of KILLER INSTINCT.


Click here to see the full series feature!

Special Feature: THE CHOOSING by Rachelle Dekker

A lot of older siblings want to inspire their sisters and brothers --- to teach them to be kind human beings, to go after their goals and stick up for their beliefs. But Rachelle Dekker went above and beyond --- she wrote an entire book (and soon-to-be series) to teach her sisters that “they are worth everything.”

The result is THE CHOOSING, in which Carrington Hale’s Choosing Ceremony goes horribly awry and she’s sent to spend her life as a Lint, the lowest level of society. But rumors of rebellion rattle all of her beliefs, and, surprisingly, resonate deeply with her.

In our special feature we have an interview with Rachelle in which she discusses her new dystopian novel THE CHOOSING, the first book in The Seer series, as well as an excerpt and review of the book!

Click here to read the interview with Rachelle Dekker.
Click here to learn more about THE CHOOSING.
Click here to see the excerpt of THE CHOOSING.
Click here to read the review of THE CHOOSING.


Click here to see the special feature!

REAL TALK Publishing --- Interview with Rachel Fershleiser, Head of Publisher Outreach at Tumblr
A lot of you are probably familiar with Tumblr --- that social media website where you can engage in your favorite fandoms, share images, stories, memes and quotes and connect with people from across the globe.

One of the cool things about Tumblr is that it has a HUGE book presence, including authors, readers, publishers, bookstores and everything in between. You can connect in Tumblr’s book club, share photos of your favorite-book-inspired manicure or participate in genuine discussions with authors about your favorite (or least favorite) character.

And even cooler still, it’s someone’s JOB to make sure that all of this “book content” runs smoothly. We talked to that person --- officially called the Head of Publisher Outreach --- for our latest REAL TALK Publishing interview, and we couldn’t be more excited to share this super modern, ever-changing and fun part of the business.

Read the interview to get all of Rachel Fershleiser’s insights on “the bookternet,” learn what it’s like to work at a startup, discover some of Tumblr’s newest book-themed initiatives and hear why this is the best time to work in the book world.

Click here to read Part 1.
Click here to read Part 2.
Click here to read Part 3. Goes To Prom!

Now that spring is finally here, so is another little high school tradition that you may have heard of --- prom! We didn’t think it was fair for juniors and seniors to have all the fun, though (all the stress of figuring out what to wear, who to go with, whether or not they’re a good dancer…), so we asked some of our favorite authors and illustrators to join in.

Check their daily blog posts here, where they share their own prom experiences, design awesome outfits, write hilarious prom asks featuring their own characters, and more. Whether you’re a dancing queen or someone who’d rather hang out by the punch bowl all night, we know these posts will get you in the prom spirit!


Mental Health Awareness Month
One of the best things about the modern young adult literature scene is the increasingly diverse set of characters and stories. Yes, there’s still a lot of work to be done, but more than ever before, you can find protagonists who fall in all points on the LGBTQ spectrum; who come from a variety of ethnic, racial, religious and familial backgrounds; and who might have a physical disability or disease.

Or, as in the case of Fig in FIG by Sarah Elizabeth Schantz and Adam in THE UNLIKELY HERO OF ROOM 13B by Teresa Toten, have personal experience with mental disorders. Fig worries that she’ll develop schizophrenia just like her mother and begins to engage in various forms of self-harm, and Adam has OCD and joins a support group to learn to control it.

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, we did a candid joint interview with Sarah and Teresa where we asked them about the reasons they wrote their books, what they learned about mental health in the process and their advice for teens going through difficult issues of their own. On a lighter note, we also learned about their favorite characters, their writing routines and their writing advice (which, you’ll find, is shockingly similar!).
Click here to read our Mental Health Awareness Month Special Feature.

Teen Board

Teen Board Question: This month we asked our Teen Board members what single question they'd ask if they got to spend three minutes with their favorite author. We got a lot of great answers! Maggie L. wants to ask Wendy Mass how she gets inspiration for her books, and Sydney L. would ask Rainbow Rowell what happens after the final page of ELEANOR AND PARK. Click here to read all of their answers!

Reviews: The Teen Board members loved their recent round of books. Sean E. said that EXTRAORDINARY MEANS by Robyn Schneider offered "interesting and original insight on what living really is" and Aliza M. said that "between beautifully drawn comics, interesting websites and exciting dialogue, Cherie Priest took me on a journey I won't forget [in I AM PRINCESS X]."

Click here to learn more about the Teen Board!

On the Teenreads Blog
RT Booklovers Convention --- A Teen Board Member’s Experience: Christa O. shares her experience at the week-long convention featuring over 100 YA authors including Scott Westerfeld, Marie Lu and Lauren Oliver.

Living Life to the Fullest --- Guest Post by Katie McGarry: The NOWHERE BUT HERE author explains how her personal mantra is woven into her new novel.

Click here to read the blog!

Books On Screen
It's May, which means it's time to grab a big bucket of popcorn and get ready to see all your favorite superheroes kick some butt in Avengers: Age of Ultron! Thor, Iron Man, Black Widow and the team are all back in this sequal to The Avengers. This time, Earth's Mightiest Heroes must battle the villaninous Ultron to save the planet.

Or if you're feeling musical, check out Pitch Perfect 2! The Bellas are back, and this time they're taking their acapella skills on the road. Beca and the girls enter an international acapella competition that no U.S. team has ever won before. You're definitely going to want to sing along to their newest musical mashups.
Click here to read our Books on Screen feature!

May's Cool and New Roundup

Our May roundup includes CUCKOO SONG by Frances Hardinge, the story of two sisters who have to band together against a world where nothing is as it seems; WE ARE ALL MADE OF MOLECULES by award-winning author Susin Nielsen, where two complete opposites are forced to move in together; and beloved young adult romance author Sarah Dessen’s latest book, SAINT ANYTHING, which is more psychologically probing than anything she’s written before.

Among the paperback titles released this month, we have IN REAL LIFE, an uplifting memoir from 23-year-old YouTube star Joey Graceffa; BATTLE MAGIC, in which legendary fantasy author Tamora Pierce returns to the world of Winding Circle; and THE WEIRD WORLD OF WORDS: A Guided Tour by Mitchell Symons, which bursts with truly oddball facts about words and language.

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

Check Out Our Latest Reviews!

New! SHADOW OF THE WOLF by Tim Hall (Young Adult Fiction, Folklore)

In the first book of a trilogy that retells the story of Robin Hood, Robin Loxley is seven years old when his parents disappear without a trace. Years later the great love of his life, Marian, is also taken from him. Driven by these mysteries, and this anguish, Robin follows a darkening path into the ancient heart of Sherwood Forest. What he encounters there will leave him transformed. --- Reviewed by Alison S., Teen Board member.

New! THE HUNTED by Matt De La Peña (Young Adult Fiction, Adventure, Thriller)

When the Big One hit, Shy was at sea in style. The Paradise Cruise luxury liner he worked on was a hulking specimen of the best money could buy. And now it's at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, along with almost all of its passengers. Shy wasn't the only one to survive, though. Addie, the rich blond daughter of a mysterious businessman, was on the dinghy he pulled himself into. And she tells him something that people would kill for --- and now he's a moving target. Reviewed by Aimee Rogers.

New! EXTRAORDINARY MEANS by Robyn Schneider (Young Adult Fiction, Romance)

At 17, Lane finds himself at Latham House, a sanatorium for teens suffering from an incurable strain of tuberculosis. Part hospital and part boarding school, Latham is a place of endless rules and confusing rituals, where it's easier to fail breakfast than it is to flunk French. There Lane encounters a girl he knew years ago. Instead of the shy loner he remembers, Sadie has become sarcastic, fearless and utterly compelling. As Lane and Sadie begin to fall in love and their group begins to fall sicker, their world threatens to come crashing down. --- Reviewed by Sean E., Teen Board member.

New! THE LAST LEAVES FALLING by Sarah Benwell (Young Adult)

Abe Sora is going to die, and he’s only 17 years old. Diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), he’s already lost the use of his legs, which means he can no longer attend school. Seeking a sense of normality, Sora visits teen chat rooms online and finally finds what he’s been longing for: friendship without pity. --- Reviewed by Aliza M., Teen Board Member.

New! THREE DAY SUMMER by Sarvenaz Tash (Fiction, Romance )

Michael is unsure about most things. Go to college? Enlist in the military? Break up with his girlfriend? He is living for the moment and all he wants is a few days at the biggest concert of the summer. Cora lives in the town hosting the music festival and is volunteering in the medical tent. So, when Michael and Cora meet, sparks fly, hearts race and all the things songs are written about come true. --- Reviewed by Maya B., Teen Board Member.

New! I AM PRINCESS X by Cherie Priest and illustrated by Kali Ciesemier (Mystery, Thriller)

Once upon a time, two best friends created a princess together. Libby drew the pictures, May wrote the tales, and their heroine, Princess X, slayed all the dragons and scaled all the mountains their imaginations could conjure. However a few years later Libby was in a car accident and she passed away with her mom and Princess X died with her. Years later May is 16 and wandering the streets of Seattle when she sees Princess X everywhere: Stickers. Graffiti. The more May explores the webcomic, the more she sees disturbing similarities between Libby's story and Princess X online. And that means that only one person could have started this phenomenon --- her best friend, Libby, who lives. --- Reviewed by Aliza M., Teen Board Member.

New! THE BOYS WHO CHALLENGED HITLER: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club by Phillip Hoose (History)

At the outset of World War II, Denmark did not resist German occupation. Deeply ashamed of his nation's leaders, 15-year-old Knud Pedersen resolved with his brother and a handful of schoolmates to take action against the Nazis if the adults would not. Naming their secret club after the fiery British leader, the young patriots in the Churchill Club committed countless acts of sabotage, infuriating the Germans, who eventually had the boys tracked down and arrested. But their efforts were not in vain: the boys' exploits and eventual imprisonment helped spark a full-blown Danish resistance. --- Reviewed by Lexibex V., Teen Board Member.

New! MATERIAL GIRLS by Elaine Dimopoulos (Young Adult Fiction)

In Marla Klein and Ivy Wilde’s world, teens are the gatekeepers of culture. A top fashion label employs 16-year-old Marla to dictate hot new clothing trends, while Ivy, a teen pop star, popularizes the garments that Marla approves. Will their new “eco-chic” trend subversively resist and overturn the industry that controls every part of their lives? --- Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

New! ELENA VANISHING by Elena Dunkle and Clare B. Dunkle (Memoir)

Seventeen-year-old Elena is vanishing. Every day means renewed determination, so every day means fewer calories. This is the story of a girl whose armor against anxiety becomes artillery against herself as she battles on both sides of a lose-lose war in a struggle with anorexia. --- Reviewed by Cheyenne C., Teen Board Member.

New! THE SUMMER AFTER YOU AND ME by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski (Fiction, Romance)

For Lucy, the Jersey Shore isn't just the perfect summer escape, it is home. As a local girl, she knows not to get attached to the tourists, because they leave Labor Day with their empty promises. Still, she can't help but crush on charming Connor Malloy. His family spends every summer next door and she longs for their friendship to turn into something deeper. So when Superstorm Sandy happens, it brings Lucy and Connor together for a few intense hours. Except nothing is the same in the wake of the storm and Lucy is left to pick up the pieces of her broken heart and home. Time may heal all wounds, but with Memorial Day approaching and Connor returning, Lucy's summer is sure to be filled with fireworks. --- Reviewed by Aspen R., Teen Board Member

New! OFF THE PAGE by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer, illustrated by Yvonne Gilbert (Fantasy, Romance)

Meet Oliver, a prince literally taken from the pages of a fairy tale and transported into the real world. Meet Delilah, the girl who wished Oliver into being. It’s a miracle that seems perfect at first --- but there are complications. To exist in Delilah’s world, Oliver must take the place of a regular boy. Enter Edgar, who agrees to play Oliver’s role in the pages of Delilah’s favorite book. But just when it seems that the plan will work, everything gets turned upside down. --- Reviewed by Christi Sheehan.

New! SERIOUSLY WICKED: A Novel by Tina Connolly (Fantasy)

Camellia's adopted mother wants Cam to grow up to be just like her. Problem is, Mom's a seriously wicked witch. Cam's used to stopping the witch's crazy schemes for world domination, but when the witch summons a demon, he gets loose --- and gets into Devon, the cute new boy at school. To stop the demon before he destroys Devon's soul, Cam might have to try a spell of her own. But if she's willing to work spells like the witch, does that mean that she's wicked, too? --- Reviewed by Aspen R., Teen Board Member.

New! NOWHERE BUT HERE by Katie McGarry (Romance)

Seventeen-year-old Emily likes her life the way it is. Sure, she's curious about her biological father --- the one who chose life in a motorcycle club over being a parent --- but that doesn't mean she wants to be a part of his world. But when a reluctant visit turns into an extended summer vacation among relatives she never knew she had, one thing becomes clear: nothing is what it seems.--- Reviewed by Rachel D., Teen Board Member.

May Poll

May 6th is National No Diet Day (seriously!). In honor of pigging out, which literary feast would you most like to participate in?

  • A Hogwarts feast --- No way to welcome the first years like chocolate frogs and treacle tarts!
  • A CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY tour --- I’ll take the everlasting gobstopper with a side of chocolate waterfall, please
  • An ALICE IN WONDERLAND tea party --- You’d get some Earl Gray AND fascinating company
  • CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS Weather --- Food falling from the sky? Most convenient (and surprising) meal ever
  • A JULIE AND JULIA-style dinner --- Who would ever say no to the incomparable Julia Child?

Last month, we asked which kind of poetry would you rather read. A novel in verse took the top spot with 33% of the votes, followed by a clever rhyme with 22% and a Shakesperean sonnet with 15%. To see the full results of the April 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:

HOPE AND OTHER LUXURIES: A Mother's Life with a Daughter's Anorexia by Clare B. Dunkle (Nonfiction, Memoir)

Clare Dunkle seemed to have an ideal life --- two beautiful, high-achieving teenage daughters, a loving husband, and a satisfying and successful career as a children's book novelist. But just after one daughter successfully conquered her depression, another daughter developed a life-threatening eating disorder. Co-published with ELENA VANISHING, the memoir of her daughter, this is the story of one family's fight against a deadly disease, from an often ignored but important perspective: the mother of the anorexic.

Click here to see more Adult Books You Want to Read!

connect with us twitterfacebook