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Early February 2016
February 10, 2016
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Me saying goodbye to my favorite part in the office --- the huge window where you can see the sunset!
Me saying goodbye to my favorite part in the office --- the huge window where you can see the sunset!

Hi Teenreaders,

Sitting down to write this opener is hard, and it’s not because I’m having writer’s block. Instead, it’s because today is my very last day at, so I just want to savor this moment as long as possible…add a few comments about a few upcoming YA books that I just finished and loved (THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE by Heidi Heilig and THE SMELL OF OTHER PEOPLE’S HOUSES by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock), ramble on a bit about the weather, make some off-the-cuff comment about my nephew’s ever-increasing adorableness…

OK but really, I’ll stick to the task at hand. I’m leaving because I got the opportunity to help launch the British publishing company Faber & Faber in the U.S. and run their American publicity and marketing efforts, and I couldn’t say no. I mean --- simultaneously working with a very storied publisher but also having the chance to, effectively, start something new? Getting to work with a huge variety of interesting books across all genres? And, you know, talking to people with delightful accents on the phone on a regular basis? Sometimes, surprising things come your way and you just have to say yes.

On that note, though, leaving (and is not easy. As I compose this opener, I can’t help but think of everything I’ve done here in the past few years. I got the chance to be more fully immersed in the YA scene than I could have been anywhere else; I interacted with amazing authors, librarians and publicists every day; I interviewed inspiring industry members through our REAL TALK: Publishing interview series; I got to dream up and create fun features every month; I worked with an amazing group of teens on our Teen Board….the list goes on and on!

And, of course, none of it could have happened without all of you, our readers. So thanks for being there and making this job unforgettable. If you ever want to contact me, you can reach out to my personal email:

While it's hard to leave, I couldn’t be happier to be “passing the crown” (or whatever a YA analogy would be…passing the book? The mouse?) to the next lovely editor who will head up Teenreads and Kidsreads --- Rebecca Munro! She doesn’t start until the end of February, but I guarantee that she will do a great job and bring a ton of knowledge and passion to these websites, so be sure to stay tuned.

And in the meantime, be sure to check out everything going on on Teenreads right now. In honor of the Grammys on February 15th, we asked a huge range of YA authors to tell us about their favorite songs, and compiled a Spotify playlist! You can check out the feature here, and maybe discover a new tune to obsess over. Our Teen Board members also wrote a series of Valentine’s Day blogs that you can find in the blog section, covering everything from the cutest YA couples to how to get someone to fall in love with…your favorite book. And then there is the usual awesomeness…reviews, this month’s Cool and New books, the poll, etc. So get reading!

Thanks to all of you who voted for the nominees for the Teen Choice Book Awards. As soon as voting opens the awards themselves, we will let you know!

And with that, adieu, avoir, goodbye, and thank you, thank you, thank you!

--- Shara Zaval (

YA Authors Celebrate the Grammys!
Award season is officially upon us! While we’re all about acting, we’re especially anxious for the Grammys. With Taylor Swift, Mark Ronson, The Weeknd, Kendrick Lamar and Ed Sheeran each garnering multiple nominations, a live screening of the opening number from the Broadway sensation “Hamilton” and a tribute to David Bowie courtesy of the one and only Lady Gaga? Sign us up!

To celebrate in our own bookish way, we made a playlist of some of our favorite YA authors' favorite songs! Check out the feature to find the full playlist (minus a few songs that aren't available on Spotify) and read the reasons behind each author's selection!

Click here to read our YA Grammys Feature!

Now in Stores: SALT TO THE SEA by Ruta Sepetys

SALT TO THE SEA by Ruta Sepetys (Youth Fiction, Historical Fiction, Military)

In 1945, World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage and trust in each other tested with each step closer toward safety.

Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.

Told in alternating points of view, and perfect for fans of Anthony Doerr's Pulitzer Prize-winning ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE, Erik Larson's critically acclaimed #1 NYT bestseller DEAD WAKE, and Elizabeth Wein's Printz Honor Book CODE NAME VERITY, this masterful work of historical fiction is inspired by the real-life tragedy that was the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff--the greatest maritime disaster in history. As she did in BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY, Ruta Sepetys unearths a shockingly little-known casualty of a gruesome war, and proves that humanity can prevail, even in the darkest of hours.

Click here to learn more about the book. We will have our review soon!


Now in Stores: THE UNPOPULAR ONES by Kathleen Krull
THE UNPOPULAR ONES by Kathleen Krull (Nonfiction, History)

Slavery is wrong. Women can be doctors. Women can wear pants. These are truths that most Americans today would agree are unambiguous. But there was a time in this country when each of those statements resulted in vicious criticism. When she wore pants, Amelia Bloomer was a “hussy,” subjected to jeers and catcalls. As the only female doctor in the entire western United States, Bethenia Owens was so unpopular that she was threatened with tar and feathers and driven out of town. And when Jonathan Walker was caught helping escaped slaves, he was branded with the letters “SS,” for “slave stealer.”

Today we recognize these unpopular ones as both brave and in the right. Their stories remind young readers that sometimes it is important to speak out against the popular opinions of the time. What are those opinions in today’s world? These 15 men and women set stunning examples of standing up for what's right. Be inspired by their courage and perseverance when up against the odds. Whose unpopular beliefs today will be the truths of tomorrow? Will you be one of the unpopular ones?

Click here to learn more about the book. We will have our review soon!


Now in Stores: FRONT LINES by Michael Grant
FRONT LINES by Michael Grant (Youth, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Friendship, Military)

Henry Denton has spent years being periodically abducted by aliens. Then the aliens give him an ultimatum: The world will end in 144 days, and all Henry has to do to stop it is push a big red button. Only he isn’t sure he wants to. After all, life hasn’t been great for Henry. His mom is a struggling waitress held together by a thin layer of cigarette smoke. His brother is a jobless dropout who just knocked someone up. His grandmother is slowly losing herself to Alzheimer’s. And Henry is still dealing with the grief of his boyfriend’s suicide last year.

Henry is a scientist first, and facing the question thoroughly and logically, he begins to look for pros and cons. He's left with the ultimate choice: push the button and save the planet and everyone on it...or let the world --- and his pain --- be destroyed forever.

Click here to learn more about the book.
Click here to read the review.


On the Teenreads Blog, Valentine's Edition

How do we celebrate Valentine's Day at Teenreads? With some themed blog posts, of course! Our Teen Board members wrote about everything from swoonworthy characters to how to make your crush fall in love with...your favorite book! We'll be posting them over the next couple of weeks, but check out the first four below!

Ode to THE VESPERTINE: Vaishnavi S. writes an ode to her first book crush and the novel that made her fall in love with the romance genre.

THE NICEST GUYS YOU WILL EVER MEET IN A BOOK: Bryn D. writes about one character stereotype she has no problem with: the nice guy.

How to Get Someone to Fall in Love With...Your Favorite Book: Sure, you've already gotten them to fall in love with you, but Aliza M. helps you with that critical next step: getting your special someone to fall for your favorite book!

Top Five Couples in YA Lit: Isabel C. shares her list --- does yours match up?

Top Five Dates in YA Lit: Linnea P. reminds us of the most romantic moments to grace YA characters...and their lucky audiences.

Most Crushworthy YA Characters: Asia H. reveals two YA characters who are more crushworthy than any real teen.

Click here to visit the Teenreads blog!

Teen Board Update

Teen Board Question: Since Valentine's Day is in February, we wanted to put our Teen Board members in a romantic state of mind. Therefore, our Teen Board question this month is: if you could go on a date inspired by a YA book, what would you do? They came up with some super fun and original date ideas. Ariel G. suggested going to Pittsburgh and acting in one of Greg's amateur films from ME EARL AND THE DYING GIRL by Jesse Andrews, while Chris C. would want to visit Camp Half-Blood from Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, where he and his date could play capture the flag against the Greek demigods and enjoy the Long Island scenery. See all of their answers here!

Reviews: Our Teen Board members reviewed a bunch of great YA books this month. Aliza M. said that "as [she] turned the last page of the [BLACKHEARTS by Nicole Castroman she] was left with one thought: 'I want more!'". Levi V. said that SWORD AND VERSE by Kathy MacMillan was "one of the best books [he's] read in the past year," and Alison S. said that HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: A Woman Living History by Karen Blumenthal "captured [her] interest the old-fashioned way: an all-too-human protagonist and a never-ending slew of conflict." To read all of their reviews, check out the reviews section towards the bottom of the newsletter!

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

Books on Screen

What better way to warm up on a brisk February day than to watch some of the latest book-to-screen adaptations? For a sinister twist on Jane Austen's classic novel, check out Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a tale of romance, violence and heartbreak. In this comedic reimagining of Austen's novel, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton --- and the dead are coming back to life! Elizabeth Bennet is determined to defeat the zombies but is soon distracted by the imperious Mr. Darcy. Seeking a few laughs and thousands of rotting corpses? Than this film is for you!

Or perhaps, you're looking for something romantic to watch with that special someone this Valentine's Day. In that case, grab the chocolates --- and possibly some tissues --- and check out The Choice. In a story of love found and lost, Travis --- a man who seemingly has everything he wants --- is thrown off guard when he meets his new neighbor Gabby. This film will ultimately force you to consider the harrowing question: how far would you go to keep the hope of love alive?

So shake off the snow, grab some hot chocolate, and watch as the worlds you immersed yourself in are brought to life (or undead) on screen!

Click here to see our full February Books on Screen feature!

February's Cool and New Roundup
This month’s Cool and New roundup includes THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE by debut author Heidi Heilig, a fantasy in which 16-year-old Nix and her father travel across the world and through time in their not-so-ordinary ship; STARS ABOVE, a collection of stories based on Marissa Meyer’s bestselling series The Lunar Chronicles; and SALT TO THE SEA by Ruta Sepetys, a work of historical fiction inspired by the real-life sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff at the end of World War II.

In paperback titles this month, we have THE HAUNTING OF SUNSHINE GIRL: Book One by Paige McKenzie and Alyssa Sheinmel, a novel based on the famous YouTube series about a girl who knows her new house isn’t quite right; THE TRAGIC AGE: A Novel by Stephen Metcalfe, where two teens help the disenchanted Billy Kinsey learn to love and trust our completely absurd world; and MORTAL HEART, the powerful conclusion to Robin LaFevers’ bestselling His Fair Assassins trilogy.
Click here to see February's Cool and New roundup!

Check Out Our Latest Reviews!

New! UNHOOKED by Lisa Maxwell (Youth Fiction, Fairytale, Fantasy)
A lush, atmospheric fantasy novel filled with twists and turns about a girl named Gwen, who is kidnapped and brought to an island inhabited by fairies, a roguish ship captain and bloodthirsty beasts. As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and tries to find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the captivating pirate who promises to keep her safe. --- Reviewed by Linnea P., Teen Board member.

New! HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: A Woman Living History by Karen Blumenthal (Biography, Women's History, Politics)
As a young girl, Hillary Diane Rodham’s parents told her she could be whatever she wanted --- as long as she was willing to work for it. Hillary took those words and ran. In a life on the front row of modern American history, she has always stood out --- whether she was a teen campaigning for the 1964 Republican presidential candidate, winning recognition in Life magazine for her pointed words as the first student commencement speaker at Wellesley College, or working on the Richard Nixon impeachment case as a newly minted lawyer. Now, she aspires to a bigger role: her nation's first woman president. --- Reviewed by Alison S., Teen Board member.

New! SWORD AND VERSE by Kathy MacMillan (Youth Fiction, Fantasy, Dystopian)
Raisa was just a child when she was sold into slavery in the kingdom of Qilara. Where she now lives, literacy is a capital offense for all but the nobility, Tutor and Tutor-in-training. So when she is plucked from her menial labor and selected to replace the last Tutor-in-training, Raisa knows that betraying any hint of her ability to read and write could mean death. Keeping her secret guarded is hard enough, but the romance that's been blossoming between her and Prince Mati isn't helping matters. Then Raisa is approached by the Resistance --- an underground rebel army --- to help liberate the city's slaves. --- Reviewed by Levi V., Teen Board member.

New! BLEEDING EARTH by Kaitlin Ward (Youth Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Gay & Lesbian)
Lea was in a cemetery when the earth started bleeding. Within 24 hours, the blood made international news. All over the world, blood oozed out of the ground, even through the concrete, even in the water. Lea wants to be a regular teen again, but the blood has made her a prisoner in her own home. Fear for her social life turns into fear for her sanity, and Lea must save herself and her girlfriend however she can. --- Reviewed by Maggie L., Teen Board member.

New! RED INK by Julie Mayhew (Youth Fiction, Contemporary)
When her mother is knocked down and killed by a London bus, 15-year-old Melon Fouraki is left with no family worth mentioning. Her mother, Maria, never did introduce her to a living, breathing father. The indomitable Auntie Aphrodite, meanwhile, is hundreds of miles away on a farm in Crete. But at least Melon has The Story. The Story is the Fouraki family fairy tale. A story is something. This time-shifting novel follows a narrator as she struggles with sudden grief --- and the unfolding process of finding out who she really is. --- Reviewed by Alyssa L., Teen Board member.

New! BLACKHEARTS by Nicole Castroman (Youth Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance)
Nicole Castroman reimagines the origins of history's most infamous pirate --- Blackbeard --- and tells the story of the girl who captured his heart and ultimately set him on his path of destruction. From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn together by a shared desire for freedom, but kept apart by Teach's father, their love is as passionate as it is forbidden. --- Reviewed by Aliza M., Teen Board member.

New! THESE VICIOUS MASKS by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas (Youth Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance)
England, 1882. When her beloved sister, Rose, mysteriously vanishes. Evelyn ignores her parents and travels to London to find her, accompanied by the dashing Mr. Kent. A reclusive young gentleman, Sebastian Braddock, is also searching for Rose, claiming that both sisters have special healing powers. Evelyn is convinced that Sebastian must be mad, until she discovers that his strange tales of extraordinary people are true --- and that her sister is in graver danger than she feared. --- Harleen K., Teen Board member.

New! LITTLE WHITE LIES by Brianna Baker and F. Bowman Hastie (Youth Fiction, Friendship, Social Interests, Racism)
Seventeen-year-old honors student Coretta White’s Tumblr, Little White Lies --- her witty thoughts on pretty much…everything --- has gone viral. She’s got hundreds of thousands of followers; she’s even been offered a TV deal. But Coretta has a secret. She hasn’t been writing all her own posts. Stressed from the demands of the sudden attention, she hired an expert ghostwriter, 41-year-old Karl Ristoff, to keep the Tumblr going. Now consumed with guilt, she confesses. Almost instantly, she suffers a public humiliation. Then Karl is thrust into the limelight, only to suffer a dramatic fall himself. Together, they vow to find out who is responsible for ruining both of their lives, and why. --- Reviewed by Chris C., Teen Board member.

February Poll

The Grammys are this month! Do you listen to music while you read? Check all that apply.

  • All the time
  • Never
  • Sometimes
  • When I’m reading for pleasure
  • When I’m reading for school
  • Yes, I listen to music without words
  • Yes, when a book comes with a playlist
  • Yes, I listen to my favorite songs
  • Yes, I listen to music that matches the mood of the book

Last month, we asked which opening line(s) made you want to read the book. Coming in first with 57% was the opening line of Michael Grant's FRONT LINES --- "I’m not going to tell you my name, not right away." Apparently, our Teenreaders are willing to hang on and find out! In second with 31% was the opening line from UNDER THEIR SKIN by Margaret Peterson Haddix --- “You’re doing WHAT?” Nick exploded" --- a question no curious reader could leave unanswered. Polling third with 30% was the opening line of William Sutcliffe's CONCENTR8 --- "You want to know how I got famous?" This is not all that surprising, because let's be honest...who wouldn't? To see the full results, click here.

Click here to take our poll!

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