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November 2007 Newsletter November 2007
This Month on

Holiday Reading and More... Holiday Basket of Cheer Contest

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

New Special Feature: SLAM by Nick Hornby

Book Giveaway: ZEN AND THE ART OF FAKING IT by Jordan Sonnenblick

Don't Miss: STAR WARS: A POP-UP GUIDE TO THE GALAXY by Matthew Reinhart

Books Into Movies

Series Update: Kiki Strike by Kirsten Miller

Kimani TRU: Novels For, By and About Teens --- Now Featuring: GETTIN' HOOKED by Nyomi Scott

Random House Celebrates the Release of WYVERNHAIL by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes with a Special Contest

Cool New Books for November and December

November and December's New in Paperback Roundup

This Month's Reviews --- Including Manga, Christian Fiction and Titles Perfect for Teens

Poll and Question of the Month: Giving and Receiving Books as Presents

Word of Mouth: Tell Us What You're Reading and You Could Win A Book!

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Holiday Reading and More...

Here come the holidays, and are we ever in the mood to celebrate! As you know, our Second Annual Basket of Holiday Reading and Fun Contest is live. You have a chance to win one of FIVE baskets filled with 12 amazing books and holiday goodies. You can see all the details about this here. Our annual What to Give/What to Get Gift Guide has a list of great reads that will give you some ideas for what to ask for this winter --- and maybe avoid Aunt Gertrude’s perennially hideous sweater. I confess that besides buying for others, I personally ascribe to the "what to give myself" credo at this time of year.

Earlier this month I went to the Miami Book Fair with my sons, Greg and Cory. Greg is taking a very cool course at his high school on the Holocaust and Genocide. I arranged for him to meet Miriam Kassenoff, one of our readers who very kindly gave him a copy of her book STUDYING THE HOLOCAUST THROUGH FILM AND LITERATURE. They had a nice chat, and he ended up texting one of his friends with changes to a presentation that they were working on for the class based on some concepts she shared with him. I love moments like that.

Nick Hornby’s first novel geared toward teens is in stores and sitting pretty on the New York Times bestseller list. SLAM introduces us to Sam, a 16-year-old who seeks advice from a poster of Tony Hawk in his room. A review of the book can be found here, and be sure to take a look at a conversation between Sam and his creator here. You can also enter to win one of five SIGNED advance reading copies of the book.

As long as you are entering contests, be sure to fill out this form to win a copy of ZEN AND THE ART OF FAKING IT by Jordan Sonnenblick. Totally funny, this book follows the misadventures of San, who convinces everyone at his new school that he’s a Zen master. Meanwhile, fans of Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, author of WYVERNHAIL, will want to enter a very special contest for a chance to interview her in person in New York City!

This holiday season, be sure to set aside at least one day of your well-deserved winter break for a trip to the movies. Not to be missed is The Golden Compass, the first film in Philip Pullman’s award-winning His Dark Materials trilogy. This epic fantasy features a star-studded cast and chronicles the adventures of a young orphan in an alternate universe who sets out to rescue her best friend from a mysterious organization and learns she must save the world as well. Click here for more details about The Golden Compass and other notable films in our Books into Movies feature.

One book that has everyone here in the office buzzing is STAR WARS: A POP-UP GUIDE TO THE GALAXY by Matthew Reinhart. You can’t believe how much fun this masterpiece is --- the last page is especially “bright!” I highly recommend putting this one on your holiday list. Matthew is a true guru on all things Star Wars. I saw him in October at a trade show, and I was amazed at his complete depth of knowledge of Star Wars; I really had fun chatting with him about the book. I am a pop-up book junkie. I love them. I love studying how they are built. One year I took a class taught by Matthew and his partner Robert Sabuda and made a few of my own little pop-up pages. Loved it.

The wonderful Kiki Strike series has a new addition: THE EMPRESS’S TOMB by Kirsten Miller continues the crazy adventures of Kiki and company. A review and more about the series can be found here.

Already thinking about what books you want to read over winter break? Check out our Cool New and New in Paperback roundups, along with our most recent reviews.

Here's to great do have a book in hand, right?

Carol Fitzgerald ( Holiday Basket of Cheer Contest

Back by popular demand: The Basket of Holiday Cheer Contest! From November 21st through December 14th, you can enter to win a "Basket of Holiday Reading and Fun."

Five winners each will receive a basket that includes 12 books --- THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie; GUYAHOLIC by Carolyn Mackler; HERO by Perry Moore; I’D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU, BUT THEN I’D HAVE TO KILL YOU by Ally Carter; INCANTATION by Alice Hoffman; THE LUXE by Anna Godbersen; MEMOIRS OF A TEENAGE AMNESIAC by Gabrielle Zevin; PERFECT: Pretty Little Liars #3 by Sara Shepard; THE RED QUEEN’S DAUGHTER by Jacqueline Kolosov; RETURN TO ATLANTIS by R.A. Montgomery; SAVING ZOE by Alyson Noel; and WICKED LOVELY by Melissa Marr.

Along with the books, winners will find their basket stocked with the hottest holiday goodies --- a kit to make a gingerbread house, Ghirardelli Rich Dark Hot Chocolate mix, gourmet vanilla marshmallows, sweet-smelling cinnamon sticks, delicious Chewy Peps peppermint candies, adorable winter-themed cookies, an Illuminations Cranberry Orange jar candle, very cute reindeer socks, Junior Mints Peppermint Crunch candy, a marshmallow Christmas tree pop and holiday-colored bath confetti.

Click here for all the contest details.


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 see the What to Give/What to Get Gift Guide for teens.


New Special Feature: SLAM by Nick Hornby

In SLAM, Nick Hornby’s first novel for young adults, a 16-year-old named Sam gets his girlfriend Alicia pregnant. Sam is a skater and spends a great deal of time talking to a poster of Tony Hawk. The skating legend talks back, in lines from his own autobiography, and at various points in the book, Hawk transports Sam into his own future. Hornby spoke to Sam recently to compare notes about their teenage years, and we at are thrilled to share with our readers their enlightening conversation.

by Nick Hornby
Just when everything is coming together for Sam, his girlfriend Alicia drops a bombshell. Make that ex-girlfriend --- because by the time she tells him she’s pregnant, they’ve already called it quits. Sam does not want to be a teenage dad.

There’s only one person Sam can turn to --- his hero, skating legend Tony Hawk. Sam believes the answers to life’s hurdles can be found in Hawk’s autobiography. But even Tony Hawk isn’t offering answers this time --- or is he? In this wonderfully witty, poignant story about a teenage boy unexpectedly thrust into fatherhood, it’s up to Sam to make the right decisions so the bad things that could happen, well, don’t. is giving five readers the opportunity to win a SIGNED advance reading copy of SLAM. Click here for all the contest details.

-Click here to read an excerpt from SLAM.
-Read an exclusive interview between Nick and Sam as they compare notes on their teenage years.
-Click here to read Nick Hornby’s bio.
-For more Nick, visit
-Watch the SLAM trailer.
-Download the SLAM podcast.


Click here to read a review of SLAM.


Book Giveaway: ZEN AND THE ART OF FAKING IT by Jordan Sonnenblick

To celebrate the release of ZEN AND THE ART OF FAKING IT by Jordan Sonnenblick, in which an eighth grader who changes towns and schools with annoying frequency devises a plan to be completely different from his peers, is offering five readers the chance to win a copy of the book. To enter, please fill out this form by Wednesday, December 19th.

ZEN AND THE ART OF FAKING IT by Jordan Sonnenblick (Fiction)
When eighth-grader San Lee moves to a new town and a new school for the umpteenth time, he doesn't try to make new friends or be a loner or play cool. Instead he sits back and devises a plan to be totally different. When he accidentally answers too many questions in World History on Zen (only because he just had Ancient Religions two schools ago) all heads turn and San has his answer: he's a Zen Master. And just when he thinks everyone (including the cute girl he can't stop thinking about) is on to him, everyone believes a major Zen way. Reviewed by Jana Siciliano.

here to read a review of ZEN AND THE ART OF FAKING IT.

Click here for all the contest details.


Don't Miss: STAR WARS: A POP-UP GUIDE TO THE GALAXY by Matthew Reinhart

Lifelong Star Wars fan and paper engineer extraordinaire Matthew Reinhart combines his two passions in STAR WARS: A POP-UP GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, an encyclopedic examination of who, what, when and where in the Star Wars universe --- not to mention some very impressive pop-up sculptures of monsters, vehicles and enemies…including Darth Vader. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.


-Click here to read an interview with Matthew Reinhart on

Click here to read a review of STAR WARS: A POP-UP GUIDE TO THE GALAXY.


Books Into Movies

The countdown officially has begun to belt-busting festive meals and seasonal celebrations, a couple of well-deserved weeks off from school and a fantastic lineup of buzzworthy movies perfect for the end-of-the-year blockbuster holiday season. With so many terrific book-inspired movies hitting the big screen, we thought we'd get ahead in this latest Books into Movies feature and spotlight the upcoming films in the next couple of months based on some of our favorite reads --- including the poignant and provocative The Kite Runner, the witty and bittersweet P. S. I Love You and the sci-fi fantasy epic The Golden Compass. From the magic of The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep and the warm-and-fuzzy sentimentality of Martian Child, to the timelessness of Beowulf and the offbeat innovation of Persepolis, these movies will certainly pack your winter break schedule with multiple trips to the theater.

Click here for more details about these films.


Series Update: Kiki Strike by Kirsten Miller

KIKI STRIKE: THE EMPRESS'S TOMB by Kirsten Miller (Fiction/Action & Adventure)
Ananka is on the verge of being sent to a remote boarding school, Kiki’s life (as always) is in danger and Betty seems to have found love in all the wrong places. However, it’s Oona who seems to be in the most serious trouble of all. From Chinatown to Fifth Avenue, whether they are rescuing kidnapped children or resuscitating an ancient Empress at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Irregulars have a knack for finding trouble and putting it out of its misery. Reviewed by Carlie Webber.

-Click here to see the Kiki Strike series feature.


Click here to read a review of KIKI STRIKE: THE EMPRESS'S TOMB.


Kimani TRU: Novels For, By and About Teens --- Now Featuring: GETTIN' HOOKED by Nyomi Scott

Click for your dream date.

Could she go to the senior dance with just any guy? No way.
Imani Lane has her heart set on Maurice, the hottest guy in town. But he isn't exactly asking. So she comes up with an idea to help herself --- and everyone else, too. An online dating hookup site for local teens! Her friends and cousin can find their dream dates, and Imani can brilliantly engineer her own profile to match Maurice's. Problem is, the Web site is becoming too popular. Guys who are looking for hookups --- say, with Imani's own impressionable cousin --- now include some very sleazy types. So Imani has to get things unhooked and fast.

GETTIN’ HOOKED is available in 3 formats: Book, Digital Audio and eBook.

-Click here for more information about the eBook version of GETTIN’ HOOKED.
Click here to read more about Kimani TRU.


Random House Celebrates the Release of WYVERNHAIL by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes with a Special Contest

Enter the Strange Lands Correspondent contest, and you could be entered to win a trip to New York City to meet and interview author Amelia Atwater-Rhodes!

WYVERNHAIL: The Kiesha’ra, Volume Five by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes (Fantasy)
In the fifth and final installment of Amelia Atwater-Rhodes’s The Kiesha’ra series, find out what happens after Princess Oliza abdicates the throne of Wyvern’s Court. The story is told from the point of view of Hai, the relative rescued from the Ecl prison who has scary visions of the future. Her visions urged Oliza to abdicate in the first place. But the visions are continuing… Reviewed by Amy Alessio.

-Click here to read a review of WYVERNHAIL.
-Click here to read an excerpt from WYVERNHAIL.

Click here for more details about the Strange Lands Correspondent contest and how to enter.


Cool New Books for November and December

November and December’s roundup of Cool New Books includes THE SWEET FAR THING, the extraordinary conclusion to Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy; PRINCESS MIA, the ninth --- and next-to-last --- installment of the Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot; BREATHE MY NAME, an intense psychological thriller from R.A. Nelson, who wrote the much-talked-about novel TEACH ME; BLOOD BEAST, book five in The Demonata horror series by Cirque du Freak author Darren Shan; and THE LUXE, Anna Godbersen’s novel about five teens in 1899 Manhattan, where appearance matters more than anything else and breaking the social code means running the risk of being ostracized forever.

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 PRINCESS ON THE BRINK, the eighth installment in Meg Cabot’s Princess Diaries series; HATTIE BIG SKY by Kirby Larson, a work of historical fiction that was selected as a Newbery Honor book in 2007; SLAWTER, a continuation of Darren Shan’s Demonata horror saga; CRISS CROSS by Lynne Rae Perkins, a coming-of-age novel that was awarded the Newbery Medal in 2006; FLY ON THE WALL, E. Lockhart’s story of how a girl’s wish to become a fly on the wall in the boys’ locker room comes true; and BLIND FAITH, in which Ellen Wittlinger explores questions of belief, the mother-daughter bond and how death affects those who are left behind.


Click here to see what's New in Paperback for November and December.


This Month's Reviews --- Including Manga, Christian Fiction and Titles Perfect for Teens Reviews:

DIAMONDS IN THE SHADOW by Caroline B. Cooney (Fiction) 
The last thing Jared Finch wants is to share his room with an African refugee. When his church can’t find an inexpensive apartment for a four-person African refugee family, Jared’s loved ones decide to step in, over his protests. But taking them in means a lot more than providing shelter. Reviewed by Amy Alessio.

MY SWORDHAND IS SINGING by Marcus Sedgwick (Historical Fiction/Gothic)
Peter, a woodcutter's son in 17th century Europe, must solve the riddle of his father's mysterious past to save the nearby village of Chust when the dead begin returning from the grave. Reviewed by Brian Farrey.

TAKEN by Edward Bloor (Mystery)
Edward Bloor masterfully melds a futuristic plot with current political and social concerns in TAKEN, a compelling --- and constantly surprising --- mystery novel that also happens to be a frightening, dystopian vision of a too-plausible future world. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

BOY TOY by Barry Lyga (Fiction)
When Josh Mendel was a seventh grader, he became intimately involved with his history teacher, Eve Sherman. Now, five years later and ready to graduate from high school, Josh is still battling the demons of his past, especially when he learns that Eve is about to be released from prison. Reviewed by Kristi Olson.

THE EVER-AFTER BIRD by Ann Rinaldi (Historical Fiction)
CeCe McGill’s 13-year-old eyes are forced open to the horrors of slavery when she and her uncle take a trip to Georgia in 1851. They travel through the south under the true but safe role of bird watchers, but her uncle has another secret, highly dangerous agenda --- handing out directions to the Underground Railroad. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

RACE: A History Beyond Black and White by Marc Aronson (History)
Where did racial prejudice come from? Why is it so powerful? What has allowed it to endure? Why have millions been enslaved, murdered or denied their rights because of the color of their skin or the shape of their eyes? Award-winning author Marc Aronson tackles these and other questions in this important and eye-opening book. Reviewed by Amy Alessio.

LOVE, MEG by C. Leigh Purtill (Fiction)
Fifteen-year-old Meg Shanley and her older sister, Lucie, have moved to a new town, new apartment and new school yet again. Meg is used to being the new kid, but this time it’s different. A stranger from the past catches up with them, revealing family secrets that will turn Meg’s world upside down. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

BUNKER 10 by J. A. Henderson (Thriller)
Deep in a remote forest, a secret military base has accidentally created a hostile mutant gene capable of massive destruction and supreme intelligence --- and it has infected one of the seven young people stationed at the base. The infected May-Rose intends to take over the world, and she won’t let anyone --- not even her six friends --- stand in her way. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

LESSONS FROM A DEAD GIRL by Jo Knowles (Fiction)
In her debut novel, Jo Knowles explores the cycle of abuse and how it can affect all areas of children's lives --- even their closest friendships --- through the character of Leah Greene, who struggles to come to terms with secrets and shame and find her own power to heal. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

THE DECLARATION by Gemma Malley (Science Fiction)
It's 2140, and Longevity drugs let people live forever but also make it illegal for them to have children. Anna was born anyway, making her an expendable "Surplus" living in a bleak and brutal place that trains Surpluses to be servants. She knows she shouldn't exist…until a new Surplus, Peter, arrives with an astounding message for her. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

SENSITIVE by Nina Wright (Fiction)
As Easter Hutton begins her new life in Homefree, a program for students with special gifts such as astral projection and psychokinesis, she finally feels like she can relax just a bit. Surrounded by other gifted teens (one of whom has serious boyfriend potential), Easter is not the weird outcast anymore. Plus, her messed-up mom is finally out of her life --- or so she thought. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

-Click here to read our reviews.

Manga Reviews:

The following reviews are courtesy of the graphic novel review website for teens No Flying No Tights:

AVENTURA, Volume 1 by Shin Midorikawa
Lewin Randit has no magical talent --- he can’t work even the simplest spell. So Lewin is astonished when he is accepted to the top wizarding school around. But he soon discovers that what he thinks of as tricks and luck may well be a kind of magic no one has ever seen before. Reviewed by Robin Brenner.

JAPAN AI: A Tall Girl's Adventures in Japan by Aimee Major Steinberger
Who wants to go to Japan? If you're dying to see the country that produced your favorite manga or video game, be sure to check out this funny, illuminating travelogue of one very tall girl (six feet!) in Japan. Reviewed by Robin Brenner.

PICK OF THE LITTER, Volume 1 by Yuriko Suda
Riku Fukagawa was found at age 10, lost and alone and unable to remember how to speak Japanese. Everything is normal until he runs into a mysterious group whose members claim that they are his long-lost family. But his new brothers are a strange bunch and may end up causing more trouble for Riku than he can handle. Reviewed by Snow Wildsmith.

TRANSLUCENT, Volume 1 by Kazuhiro Okamoto
Have you ever felt like no one was paying any attention to you? That it wouldn't matter if you just disappeared? If so, then you’ll be able to relate to Shizuka, an introverted girl who is dealing with schoolwork, boys and a medical condition that begins to turn her invisible. Reviewed by Eva Volin.

Luca and her sister Gae have cobbled together a life, but their fragile peace shatters when Gae's grip on reality starts to weaken. Is she really mentally ill, or does her talk about the past and their parents' former profession have something to do with Luca’s bizarre dreams? Reviewed by Snow Wildsmith.

-Click here to read our Manga reviews.

Christian Fiction Reviews:

Notes From a Spinning Planet

After her life-changing journey to Ireland, 20-year-old Maddie Chase feels ready for whatever she and her Aunt Sid will find on their trip to Papua New Guinea. But when she sets foot on the beautiful South Pacific island, she can’t help but notice the sense of hopelessness around her. Reviewed by Michele Howe.

Sierra Jensen

OPEN YOUR HEART - Sierra Jensen Collection: Volume Three, Book Seven by Robin Jones Gunn (Fiction)
Having Christy Miller invite Sierra on an all-expenses-paid trip to Europe was amazing, but Sierra never imagined that she would meet someone like Alex, a dark-eyed Russian college student who’s a Christian. Or that they would all come face-to-face with disaster. Through it all, one question haunts Sierra: Can she learn to love others without expecting anything in return? Reviewed by Jennifer Crosby.

Stand-Alone Title

MY BEAUTIFUL DISASTER by Michelle Buckman (Fiction)
Dixie Chambers is an average high school girl who has just been granted access into the popular crowd. Sucked into a world that resembles one big party, Dixie falls into an intimate relationship with a local rock star. But it isn’t long before she faces a tough decision that will change her life forever. Reviewed by Jennifer Crosby.

-Click here to read our Christian Fiction reviews.

Recent Titles Perfect for Teens:

First published in 1938, THE HOBBIT is a story that “grew in the telling,” and many characters and events in the published book are completely different from what J.R.R. Tolkien first wrote to read aloud to his young sons as part of their “fireside reads.” For the first time, THE HISTORY OF THE HOBBIT reproduces the original version of one of literature’s most famous stories, and includes a number of little-known illustrations and previously unpublished maps for THE HOBBIT created by Tolkien himself. Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard.

LOOK ME IN THE EYE: My Life with Asperger’s by John Elder Robison (Memoir)
John Elder Robison’s memoir tells the moving, darkly funny story of growing up with Asperger’s at a time when the diagnosis simply didn’t exist. Robison takes you inside the head of a boy whom teachers and other adults regarded as “defective,” who could not avail himself of KISS’s endless supply of groupies, and who still has a peculiar aversion to using people’s given names. Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott.

THE TENTH MUSE: My Life in Food by Judith Jones (Memoir)
In this delicious memoir, Judith Jones --- author and editor of numerous classic cookbooks such as Julia Child's MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH COOKING --- tells of her lifelong passion for food. Her story is a well-paced, fascinating page-turner that may well inspire readers to cook and eat with a heightened sense of adventure and joy. Reviewed by Terry Miller

-Click here to read the titles perfect for teens.


Poll and Question of the Month: Giving and Receiving Books as Presents


Do you like giving books as presents?

Do you like receiving books as presents?

-Click here to answer our poll.


If you only gave books as presents this holiday season, name up to three titles you'd like to give.

-Click here to answer our question.


Word of Mouth: Tell Us What You're Reading and You Could Win A Book!

This contest period, one teen reader will be randomly chosen to win a copy of THE LUXE by Anna Godbersen. 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!

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