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Teenreads Monthly Update

Late August 2015

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August 28, 2015
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If Teenreads Designed Your Schedule...

Hi Teenreaders,

Whether you’ve already been in classes for a couple of weeks or are still savoring those last sleep-until-noon days, you can’t deny that school is very much part of your reality now that August is racing to a close. While I’m all for learning the future tense in Spanish or the gory details of the Civil War, if I was your registrar, I’d obviously fill your schedules with all YA, all the time. How would that work, you ask? Well, take a look:

Science: There are a couple of different routes I’d take for this subject. We'd start with some environmentally-themed science fiction (“cli fi,” as the cool kids call it) --- THE STELLOW PROJECT by Shari Becker --- where New York City is threatened by ecoterrorists and teens Lilah and Daniel have to get to the bottom of things, fast. Next, we’d switch to nonfiction with PRIMATES: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas by Jim Ottaviani and illustrated by Maris Wicks. The paperback of this primatology-themed graphic novel just came out this month, and it explores the ins and outs of three women who contributed immeasurably to the field. Lastly, we’d take in a quick middle-grade, THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH by Ali Benjamin (Sept 22). Yes, it’s meant for younger readers, but this beautiful book explores death, hope and love and is perfect for readers of any age. Protagonist Suzy loves science and the entire book is arranged like a report (hypothesis, procedures, etc). A great way to learn proper formatting, no?

History – Time to break out the historical fiction! How about THE HIRED GIRL by Newbury Medalist Laura Amy Schlitz (Sept 8)? Written as a diary, this novel follows the romantic, lovable 14-year-old Joan Skraggs in 1911 as she dreams about leaving her life as a hired girl on a Pennsylvania farm for a more glamorous one in Baltimore. You get an intimate portrayal of an endearing protagonist, plus a glimpse at what gender politics and day-to-day life was like at the time. Then we’d explore nonfiction powerhouse Steve Sheinkin’s latest book, MOST DANGEROUS: Daniel Ellsberg and The Secret History of Vietnam War (Sept 22). While you may have read about Nixon, the Viet Cong and communism in textbooks, you’ve probably never learned about this angle of the Vietnam War. Sheinkin explores how one government analyst risked everything to expose what later became known as the Pentagon Papers: a 7,000 page collection of documents detailing a secret history of the war, one that American citizens knew nothing about. Through both fiction and fact, these dives into the past would give you plenty to think about.

English – Hmm, this one is a bit tough since pretty much any book I can think of can be taught in our imaginary English class. However, there are a couple that actually center around themes of reading and writing, expressly. We’d definitely have to explore THE ANATOMY OF CURIOSITY by Brenna Yovanoff, Tessa Gratton and Maggie Stiefvater (Oct 1). Not only does this collection contain three stories by acclaimed authors, but it also explores their creative process. Readers have the chance to peruse the authors’ comments as they read the story, learning about their methods, decisions and struggles along the way --- definitely useful for all of the future writers in the room. Next, we’d explore STORIES OF MY LIFE, Katherine Paterson’s memoir (paperback: Oct 6) that shares all of the real-life experiences that influenced her beloved children’s books (including THE BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA and JACOB HAVE I LOVED). After our riveting discussion, I’d make you write your own short story based on a personal experience (bwahaha, you didn’t know there’d be homework, did you?).

Math: Hmm, how are you going to work books into this traditionally numbers-focused field? Don’t worry, some of our favorite novels center around protagonists that are excellent at math. We’d read THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME by Mark Haddon, where Christopher John Francis Boone can recite all of the prime numbers up to 7,057, and GALGORITHM by Aaron Karo, where high school senior Shane Chambliss figures out the perfect formula for securing a relationship --- for everyone but himself, of course. There are also math jokes aplenty, and who doesn’t love those? Lastly, we’d break out of fiction for a bit and follow along with THE CARTOON GUIDE TO ALGEBRA by Larry Gonick. If these amusing drawings don’t make math problems fun, than nothing will.

Art: To supplement your paintings, it’s time to discover the amazing artists who populate YA. First we’ll read one of my favorite books of 2014 --- I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson (paperback: Oct 27). In this Printz Honor-winning book, twins Noah and Jude are both truly amazing artists --- in paint and sand sculpture, specifically --- and we learn about how their relationship with each other, and with their mediums, changes between the ages of 13 and 16. We’ll also dig into INTO THIS DANGEROUS WORLD by Julie Chibbaro with illustrations by Jean-Marc Superville Sovak where high school student and artist Ror has some major life decisions to make. Later, we’ll get interactive with COLOR ME CREATIVE: Unlock Your Imagination (Sept 29), where 19-year-old artist Kristina Webb shares her journey to artistic sensation as well as more than 50 projects that will help you unleash your own creative impulses. We’ll finish with a hand-lettering unit, accompanied by the droolworthy THE COMPLETE BOOK OF CHALK LETTERING by Valerie McKeehan (Oct 6).

P.E.: Take a break from sprints with a couple of these awesome reads for the athletically-minded. First there’s BREAKAWAY: Beyond the Goal (Jun 2), where star soccer player Alex Morgan tracks her route to success, from the American Youth Soccer Organization to the Olympics. Is rugby more your style? Then try STAND-OFF (Sept 8), the sequel to Andrew Smith’s much-loved WINGER. Ryan Dean is in his last year of high school, and his hijinks on and off the field are as entertaining as ever.

So, want to sign up to go to my school? I’m accepting applicants, now! Just kidding. Really though, check out these books to supplement your class reading this fall --- they’re “educational,” after all! For more recommended reads, check out the rest of the newsletter (but of course). It’s also filled with fun features, an introduction to the August 2015 - September 2016 Teen Board and the Back to School and THE DEAD HOUSE contests!

--- Shara Zaval (shara@bookreporter.com)

P.S. That picture on the right is from a storefront in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. It says "Welcome Back to School" in Spanish!

Back to School Book Bag Giveaway

Even though summer is winding down and a deep-seated dread may be beginning to settle in your stomach, Teenreads.com has something for you to celebrate the back-to-school season. From now until Monday, September 21st at noon ET, we are giving away a copy of each of the titles listed below to five lucky winners, along with a Teenreads tote bag.

This year's featured titles include:

BECOMING MARIA: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx by Sonia Manzano
COURT OF FIVES by Kate Elliott
FORGET TOMORROW by Pintip Dunn
FRIENDS FOR LIFE by Andrew Norriss
HOW TO SAY I LOVE YOU OUT LOUD by Karole Cozzo

 

Click here to enter our Back to School Book Bag Giveaway!

 
Special Feature and Giveaway: THE DEAD HOUSE by Dawn Kurtagich

It doesn't matter if it's 11AM or 11PM --- at both times you have the same personality, the same eye color, the same body, the same wants and values. But what if, as soon as it got dark, you turned into someone different? An alter-ego who did whatever he or she wanted, and your day self could do nothing to stop it?

That’s the backstory of the protagonist in Dawn Kurtagich’s debut novel THE DEAD HOUSE --- when the sun dips below the horizon, Carly Johnson transforms into Kaitlyn. And Kaitlyn is the main suspect for the Elmbridge High fire, which killed three students and caused Carly’s disappearance. Now, 20 years later, Kaitlyn’s diary has been found, and THE DEAD HOUSE shows us all of its gritty details, along with video footage, psychiatric reports and witness testimonials.

For a chance to win one of 40 copies of this terrifying debut, which the reviewer calls "a masterful novel that will surely give readers nightmares," enter our contest by September 24th at noon!

Click here to read the review of THE DEAD HOUSE.

Click here to read an interview with Dawn Kurtagich.
Click here to read an excerpt of THE DEAD HOUSE.
Click here to enter to win a copy of THE DEAD HOUSE.

 

Click here to see the special feature and contest for THE DEAD HOUSE!

 
The More the Merrier: Anthology Bookshelf

"The More the Merrier" seems to capture the spirit of summer, doesn't it? You and your friends hanging out poolside, grilling burgers at a BBQ, playing frisbee in the park...it is the season for group activities.

This line of thinking has invaded our literary proclivities, too...why read a book written by one author when you can read one written by 3, 7, 10 or even 20? Below, we rounded up 20 multi-author anthologies that range the entire spectrum from heartmelting romance to shake-in-your-sandals horror, some of them several years old, some of them brand new and some that are hitting the shelves in a couple of months!

Discover the topsy-turvy worlds of UNNATURAL CREATURES: STORIES SELECTED edited by Neil Gaiman or flash back in time with the harrowing poetry of ABOVE THE DREAMLESS DEAD: World War I in Poetry and Comics edited by Chris Duffy. Expect these tales to agree, conflict, and deviate from one another; with so many voices thrown in the mix, you’re guaranteed a wild ride.

View the entire Anthology bookshelf here!

 
Interview with Jeremy Scott, author of THE ABLES

Phillip Sallinger is blind. He also has telekinesis, and can move objects with his mind. Phillip is just one of the disabled teen superheroes in Jeremy Scott’s debut YA novel, THE ABLES, which features four friends in the Special Education program at a superhero high school who have to save the world from impending evil. Below, we talk to Jeremy about his inspiration for the book, his favorite superhero and what exactly fills the old suitcases he has lying around his house.

Click here to read the review of THE ABLES.

Click here to read the interview with Jeremy Scott.

 
Side by Side: Survival

Whether you went camping under the stars, learned how to tie knots in Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts or even just navigated the wilderness that is high school, you've had to deal with survival skills at some point in your life.

But the characters in Melinda Braun's and Paul Griffin's new books take survival to a whole new level. In Braun's STRANDED, Emily and a group of campers are forced to face the world's most violent enemy: Mother Nature. In Griffin's ADRIFT, new friends decide to take a stolen boat out on the Atlantic, but not all of them return to shore.

We decided to ask Melinda and Paul some questions about their books and the unique set of skills it takes to survive in the wild --- check out their answers!

Click here to see the Side by Side!

 
Meet the Teen Board September 2015 - August 2016!
Drumroll, please! It's the moment you've all been waiting for: It's time to introduce the September 2015 - August 2016 Teen Board!

We are SO excited about this group of 30 teens, six of whom are continuing form last year's Board! They range from 8th grade to 12th grade and hail from all over the country, including Connecticut, California, Alabama and Michigan.

Want to learn more about them? Click here to read the "Meet the Teen Board" page. Once there, you can click on each name to read members' individual bios. Be sure to look out for great reviews, blog posts, participatory features and more from this stellar group of teens!

Also, we want to extend a sincere thank you to everyone who applied to the Board. We got lots of applications and it was very, very difficult to choose. If it were up to us, we'd have a Teen Board that was double the size! If you didn't get in and will be in 8th grade or high school next year, you are highly encouraged to apply again.

Click here to meet the September 2015 - August 2016 Teen Board!

 
Teen Board Update

As you saw in the previous section, we're so psyched to start working with our new Teen Board! But that doesn't mean that our last Teen Board wasn't hard at work this August. Read below to see what they've been up to!

Teen Board Question: Teen Board Question: It's nearly time to head back to school. Hopefully you were able to stay on your academic game over the summer! This month, we asked our Teen Board members to get back into the school spirit a little early, telling them: Assume you’re the teacher and get to assign your class one book to read before filing back into the classroom. What do you choose, and why? Our Teen Board members had some wonderful and creative reading requirements for their hypothetical students. Kate F. wants her class to read ELEANOR AND PARK to think about issues of acceptance, while Cassandra H. would assign Robert Cormier's THE CHOCOLATE WAR, an eye-opening read for everyone. See the rest of their answers here!

Reviews: Teen Board members have been reviewing quite a bunch of new books recently. Lynn W. calls MECHANICA by Betsy Cornwell a "great story about hardship" in "a beautiful world full of magic." Speaking of magic, Eleanor Herman's LEGACY OF KINGS wowed Pranshu A. and is sure to "leave you breathless and itching for more."

 

On the Teenreads.com Blog

HOW TO DISAPPEAR: Cover Reveal and Contest:Young adult author Ann Stampler reveals the cover and info about her latest book, HOW TO DISAPPEAR, which doesn't come out for almost a year! Be ahead of the curve and enter the contest --- you could win a copy of that book, and more!

Blog Tour - A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz: Hannah Moskowitz visits the blog to tell us how playlists help her write her books, and she even shares the songs that brought A HISTORY OF GLITTER AND BLOOD from concept to finished novel!

Q & A with Emily-Anne Rigal, Author of FLAWD: Emily-Anne Rigal knows a thing or two about bullies; she was so bullied so badly as a child that she transferred schools...where she then became a bully. We got the chance to ask Emily-Anne questions and learn more about her personal story, her book and how you can start loving your flaws, too.

Maya and the Wizarding World: Teenreads intern Maya was fortunate enough to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and in this blog post shares the deep meaningfulness of her enchanting trip.

Click here to read our blog!

 
Books on Screen
Heroes are going to rule the box office this month, with Fantastic Four out August 7th, and the Japanese film Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F' releasing August 4th. Chris Pine, a gorgeous heartthrob seen in the newest Star Trek movies, takes on the post-apocalyptic thriller, Z for Zachariah, which will surely knock you off your feet (out August 28th)!
 
Click here to read our August Books on Screen!

 
August's Cool and New Roundup
This month's roundup includes Sonia Manzano’s memoir BECOMING MARIA, in which the "Sesame Street" star shares how her turbulent childhood in the South Bronx eventually led to her to realize her dreams of becoming an actress; A HISTORY OF GLITTER AND BLOOD by Hannah Moskowitz, a powerful and stunning fantasy about a fairy stuck in the middle of a war; and David Lubar's SOPHOMORES AND OTHER OXYMORONS, the companion novel to the author's beloved SLEEPING FRESHMEN NEVER LIE about a boy discovering the truths of high school.

In paperback titles this month, we have THE RIGHTS OF THE READER by Daniel Pennac with illustrations by Quentin Blake, a quirky ode to reading; the new SwoonReads title HOW TO SAY I LOVE YOU OUT LOUD by Karole Cozzo, which features a girl who is torn between the boy she kissed last summer and keeping her autistic brother a secret; and STRONGER THAN YOU KNOW by Jolene Perry --- a heart-wrenching novel about a hopeful girl who just needs to hold on.
 
Click here to see August's Cool and New roundup!

 
Check Out Our Latest Reviews!

New! THE LETTER FOR THE KING by Tanke Dragt (Fantasy, Adventure)

A secret letter must be delivered to King Unauwen across the Great Mountains --- a letter upon which the fate of the entire kingdom depends. Tiuri has a vital role to play, one that might cost him his knighthood. Tiuri's journey will take him through dark, menacing forests, across treacherous rivers, to sinister castles and strange cities. --- Reviewed by Kate F., Teen Board member.

New! MECHANICA by Betsy Cornwell (Fantasy, Science Fiction)

Nicolette’s awful stepsisters call her “Mechanica” to demean her, but the nickname fits: she learned to be an inventor at her mother’s knee. Her mom is gone now, though, and the Steps have pushed her into a life of dreary servitude. When she discovers a secret workshop in the cellar on her sixteenth birthday --- and befriends Jules, a tiny magical metal horse --- Nicolette starts to imagine a new life for herself. Determined to invent her own happily-ever-after, Mechanica seeks to wow the prince and eager entrepreneurs alike. --- Reviewed by Lynn W., Teen Board member.

New! CODE OF HONOR by Alan Gratz (Family, Youth Fiction)

Kamran Smith has it all. He's the star of the football team, dates the most popular girl in school, and can't wait to enlist in the Army like his big brother, Darius. Although Kamran's family hails from Iran, Kamran has always felt 100% American. Accepted. And then everything implodes. Darius is accused of being a terrorist. Kamran refuses to believe it, but the evidence is there --- Darius has been filmed making threats against his country, hinting at an upcoming deadly attack. Kamran's friends turn on him --- suddenly, in their eyes, he's a terrorist, too. --- Reviewed by Sydney Scott.

New! REAWAKENED by Colleen Houck (Fantasy, Romance)

When 17 year old Lilliana Young enters the Metropolitan Museum of Art one morning during spring break, the last thing she expects to find is a live Egyptian prince with godlike powers, who has been reawakened after a thousand years of mummification. And she really can’t imagine being chosen to aid him in an epic quest that will lead them across the globe. --- Reviewed by Kate F., Teen Board member.

New! BECOMING MARIA: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx by Sonia Manzano (Memoir, Youth Fiction)

When readers meet young Sonia, she is a child living amidst the squalor of a boisterous home that is filled with noisy relatives and nosy neighbors. Each day she is glued to the TV screen that blots out the painful realities of her existence and also illuminates the possibilities that lie ahead. But --- click! --- when the TV goes off, Sonia is taken back to real life --- the cramped, colorful world of her neighborhood and an alcoholic father. But it is Sonia's dream of becoming an actress that keeps her afloat among the turbulence of her life and times. --- Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

New! SOPHOMORES AND OTHER OXYMORONS by David Lubar (Humor, Contemporary)

Scott Hudson has somehow managed to survive Freshman year. But with a new baby brother in the house and a whole host of adventures awaiting him at school, Sophomore year promises to be anything but boring. --- Reviewed by Alison S., Teen Board member.

New! BEYOND CLUELESS by Linas Alsenas (LGBT, Contemporary)

Marty Sullivan’s life ends, basically, when her parents enroll her in a private high school. A private, Catholic, girls-only high school. Meanwhile, at their local public school, her best friend, Jimmy, comes out of the closet and finds himself a boyfriend and a new group of friends. Can Marty and Jimmy keep up their friendship? And is Marty’s new beau everything he appears to be? Or is Marty too clueless to figure it all out before it’s too late? --- Reviewed by Aliza M., Teen Board member.

New! INTO THE DANGEROUS WORLD by Julie Chibbaro and Jean-Marc Superville Sovak (Graphic Novel, Youth Fiction)

Ror finds herself pulled in different directions. Her father wanted her to make classic art. Noise Ink insists she stay within their lines. Her art teacher urges her to go to college. What does she want? What kind of artist am I? Ror’s journey is a seamless blend of words and pictures, cinematic in its scope--a sharp-edged, indelible work of art that will live inside your head. --- Reviewed by Rachel D., Teen Board member.

New! LEGACY OF KINGS by Eleanor Herman (Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Adventure)

Imagine a time when the gods turn a blind eye to the agony of men, when the last of the hellions roam the plains, and evil stirs beyond the edges of the map. A time when cities burn, and in their ashes, empires rise. Alexander, Macedon's 16-year-old heir, is on the brink of discovering his fated role in conquering the known world, but finds himself drawn to a newcomer… --- Reviewed by Pranshu A., Teen Board member.

New! AFTER THE RED RAIN by Barry Lyga, Robert DeFranco, and Peter Facinelli (Dystopian, Science Fiction, Fantasy)

One day Deedra comes across a beautiful boy named Rose struggling to cross the river --- a boy with a secretive past and special abilities, who is somehow able to find comfort and life from their dying planet. But just as the two form a bond, it is quickly torn apart after the Magistrate's son is murdered and Rose becomes the prime suspect. Little do Deedra and Rose know how much their relationship will affect the fate of everyone who lives on the planet. --- Reviewed by Jeanna Michel.

 

August Poll

August is the perfect time for poolside reading. Which of the following would you rather pick up while whiling away the warm weather?

An epic fantasy: In the summer, you have all the time in the world to get lost in an entirely new universe.

A dystopian adventure: At least you’ll have sunshine to balance out the corrupt society.

A romance: Summer and love go together like ice cream and cones.

A contemporary realistic tale: Just because you’re not in school doesn’t mean you need to escape reality, entirely.

A horror novel: That adrenaline rush is unbeatable in any weather.

A sci-fi book: As long as aliens aren’t attacking the pool, I’m good.

Last month, we wanted to know what famous beaches mentioned in books our readers would visit. Our readers preferred Santorini, Greece, featured in THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS. In second place, 25% of respondents would go to Cair Paravel from THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE. To see all the results from the July poll, click here.
 

Click here to take our poll!

 
Adult Books You Want to Read

Throughout the year, we feature books from Bookreporter.com, our site for adult readers, that we think will have appeal to teen audiences.

Here is our latest featured title:

MIKE'S PLACE: A True Story of Love, Blues, and Terror in Tel Aviv by Jack Baxter and Joshua Faudem with illustrations by Koren Shadmi (Graphic Novel, Nonfiction)

There's a rule at Mike's Place: Never, ever talk politics or religion. At this blues bar on the Tel Aviv beachfront, an international cast of characters mingles with the locals and everyone is welcome to grab a beer and forget the conflict outside. At least, that's the story Jack and Joshua want to tell in their documentary. But less than a month after they begin filming, Mike's Place is the target of a deadly suicide bombing. Jack, Joshua and the Mike's Place family survive the only way they know how --- by keeping the camera rolling.

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