Subscribe to SLJ
Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

A List of New YA Book Release Links for 2018

tltbutton7December is here, which means it’s time to start thinking about 2018 YA Lit releases. I’ve already submitted my first book order for January 2018 titles. Here for your convenience (and really, for mine) is a list of links to booklists put together online so far for 2018. In the coming weeks we’ll be sharing some of our best of 2017 and must haves for 2018.

18 YA Novels That Are Currently Being Developed For TV And The Big Screen

YA Releases of January, 2018 (42 books) – Goodreads

A note about Goodreads lists: as these are less professionally curated, I use them for informational purposes only, making sure to do further research on unknown titles or authors. These lists are not recommendations.

Cover Reveal: HOW YOU RUINED MY LIFE by Jeff Strand

Have you read any Jeff Strand? That’s one of my go to questions for anyone – teen or YA reader – who lament that there are not enough funny books in YA. And I get it, the funny is definitely outnumbered in YA, it truly is. But Jeff Strand is a pretty dependable author when it comes to the funny. He writes with wit, sarcasm and snark, all qualities that I can appreciate. And horror. That’s right, Jeff Strand often combines horror and humor for a winning combination. A BAD DAY FOR VOODOO by Jeff Strand is one of the funniest books I have ever read.

This is one of the funniest, LOL books I have ever read

So I was honored when Sourcebooks Fire reached out to me and asked if I wanted to host a cover reveal for his most recent book, HOW YOU RUINED MY LIFE. Yes! Yes, I do. But first, what is this book about?

Rod’s life doesn’t suck.

If you ask him, it’s pretty awesome. He may not be popular, but he and his best friends play in a band that has a standing gig. Yeah, it’s Monday night and they don’t get paid, but they can crank the volume as loud as they want. And Rod’s girlfriend is hot, smart, and believes in their band—believes in Rod. Aside from a winning lottery ticket, what more could he ask for?

Answer: a different cousin.

When Rod’s scheming, two-faced cousin Blake moves in for the semester, Rod tries to keep calm. Blake seems to have everyone else fooled with his good manners and suave smile, except Rod knows better. Blake is taking over his room, taking over his band, taking over his life! But Rod’s not about to give up without a fight. Game on. May the best prankster win…

And now . . . The Great Cover Reveal (insert drum roll here please)

howyouruinedmylife2

Preorder How You Ruined My Life: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Indiebound

HOW YOU RUINED MY LIFE — EXCERPT

“Thanks for coming out tonight! Are you ready to rock?”

A couple of people in the audience indicate that yes, they are indeed ready to begin the process of rocking. A few others don’t look up from their cell phones, but I’m confident that they’ll discover their readiness to rock as soon as we start playing. The rest of the eleven or so people in the club haven’t bothered to walk over to the dance floor. Presumably, they’re waiting for the headline act before committing to whether or not they’re mentally and physically prepared to rock.

“We’re Fanged Grapefruit,” I say into the microphone. “This first song is an original called, ‘You Can’t Train a Goldfish to Catch Popcorn in Its Mouth, So Don’t Even Try.’ One, two, three, go!”

I can’t remember which of us came up with the name Fanged Grapefruit. I think it was Clarissa, our drummer. I consider myself the creative driving force of the band, but if you see Clarissa, you’ll understand why she doesn’t lose many arguments. She’s at least six foot three (though I’ve never measured her), and you wouldn’t want to arm wrestle her unless you were willing to lose an arm. When she really gets going, her drumsticks become a blur. And when she’s done with a set, the sticks look like they’ve been gnawed on by beavers.

Mel, short for Melvin, is lead guitar and background vocals. I’m lead vocals and rhythm guitar. Ironically, Mel is a worse guitar player and a better singer than me. Not everything we do in Fanged Grapefruit makes sense.

Mel doesn’t look like he should be in a punk rock band. He looks like he should be president of the Chess Club. Which he is, but I assure you, the guy plays chess with attitude. He also gets straight A’s and is likely to be our class valedictorian, and if so, I hope he’ll pause his inspiring commencement speech for a wicked guitar solo.

I’m Rod, short for Rodney. Nice to meet you. I’m pretty much average, I guess.

Other band names we’d brainstormed included Untidy Reptiles, Autocorrected Text Fail, Rod & the Whacknuts, Carnivorous Vegans, Impolite Music for Unruly People, The RMC Experiment, Say Goodbye to Your Ears, Pawn Takes Rook, Crunchy Noise, Crispy Noise, Chicken Fried Noise, (The Parentheticals), Fake News Echo Chamber, Hairnets Gloriously Aflame, Dog Eat Dog Eat Munchkin, The Self- Diagnosing Hypochondriacs, Sequel II, and Sushi Gun.

We play at this club, the Lane, every Monday, which is the only day you can get in if you’re under eighteen. We go onstage around eight, and we’re home by nine fifteen, so all our parents are cool with us being out on a school night. It also helps that they’ve never actually been inside the Lane, which is a bubbling pit of health code violations. If you have to go to the bathroom, hold it. Trust me.

I’m sure we’d have a much bigger audience if we could play on a Friday or Saturday night, but Clarissa, Mel, and I are only sixteen, so we’ve got a couple of years to go. (Sorry if it was insulting that I did the math for you.) We hope that by the time we’re old enough to play there on a weekend, we’ll have upgraded to venues where your feet don’t stick to the floor as often.

Anyway, we begin to rock out on our guitars and drums, and select members of the audience begin to move to the music. Well, okay, only two of them. And one is my girlfriend, Audrey. You might say that she doesn’t count, but we got together because I was in a band, so I think she does count, thank you very much.

Audrey runs our merch table. We never sell anything, though she gives away free stickers to people who look like they might be band managers. She’s as tiny as Clarissa is non- tiny. You won’t believe me if I say she’s the most gorgeous girl at our school, so all I’ll say is that if you look at her and look at me, you’d say, “Wow, how did that happen? He must be in a band.”

By the end of our set, three people in the audience are bopping their heads to the music. That’s a fifty percent increase from when we started. Fanged Grapefruit rules!

***

After dropping off Clarissa, Mel, and then Audrey (because I always pick her up first and drop her off last, even though she lives the furthest away), I go home, take a shower, and start packing my lunch for the next day.

“How was your gig?” Mom asks, walking into the kitchen.

“Great! Every show gets a little better.”

“I was going to do that for you,” she says, pointing to the sandwich I’m making.

“I know.” Mom works two jobs, both of which suck, so I’m always happy to make my own lunch. Plus I’m very specific about the spread of my peanut butter. It should be as close to the edge of the bread as possible without spilling over, and the thickness should be consistent. Generally, I’m a pretty casual guy, but not when it comes to peanut butter application. We all have our quirks.

“I’ve got news,” she says.

“Dad got out of prison?” Dad isn’t really in prison. He left us two years ago. We joke about him being in prison as a coping mechanism.

“No.”

“I’m finally going to get a baby sister?”

“Ha. You wish.”

“You got a raise?”

Mom shakes her head. “I did get a five- dollar tip on an eighteen- dollar meal though. That was nice.”

“Wild panthers have run amok in our neighborhood, gobbling up people left and right?”

“Maybe you should stop guessing.”

“Maybe I should. So is this good news or bad news?” I ask.

“Well…”

I set down the butter knife. “That doesn’t sound like a good ‘well…’”

“I wouldn’t necessarily call it bad news,” Mom says. “It’s definitely not the worst news ever. Nobody died or anything.”

“Tell me.”

“You know your aunt Mary and uncle Clark?”

“Of course.” I don’t think I’ve seen Uncle Clark since I was six. We live in Florida, and they live in California. He and Dad never got along, so every couple of years, Aunt Mary would visit us by herself. With Dad out of the picture, I assumed we’d see more of our extended family, but it never really happened.

“Aunt Mary and Uncle Clark are going on a cruise.”

“That’s cool.” I consider that for a moment and then get very excited. “Are they taking us with them?”

“No.”

“Oh.”

“It’s one of those around- the- world cruises. Three whole months. Doesn’t that sound fun?”

Did I mention that Aunt Mary and Uncle Clark are rich? You probably picked up on that when Mom said they were going on a three- month- long world cruise.

“Is Blake going with them?” I ask.

“No. He’s not.”

Suddenly, I have an idea where this conversation is headed. It doesn’t make me happy. “Maybe you should spell this out for me,” I say.

“Your cousin Blake is going to live with us for three months. Isn’t that exciting?”

I stare at her for a few hours.

(Possibly, I’m exaggerating.)

“Starting when?” I ask.

“Next week.”

“You mean before the school year ends?”

“Yes. He’s going to transfer to your school.”

“That’s messed up!”

Mom shrugs. “They got a good deal on the cruise.”

“Where’s he going to stay? We don’t have a guest bedroom.”

“Well, I thought…you know…”

“He can’t share my room!” If I wasn’t almost an adult, I would have stomped my foot.

“Honey, it’s only for three months.”

“That’s a quarter of a year! I thought we were broke,” I say. “How are we going to pay for all that extra food?”

“We’re not that broke, and obviously, your aunt and uncle will help pay for groceries.”

“Isn’t he a spoiled brat?”

“You haven’t seen him in ten years,” Mom says.

“Well, ten years ago he was a spoiled brat.” “I’m sure he’s fine now.”

“Doesn’t he have any friends he can stay with in California?”

My mom sighs. “Rodney, he’s family. Family is always welcome in our home.”

I hope I’m not coming off as whiny and selfish. If a hurricane tore the roof off their house and they lost all of their worldly possessions, sure, I’d happily donate half of my room to Cousin Blake while they rebuilt their lives. But asking me to give up my privacy so Aunt Mary and Uncle Clark can go on a luxury cruise seems kind of unreasonable.

However, I’m pretty sure this is a done deal, and my mom has enough stress in her life without me continuing to protest.

“All right,” I say.

“Thank you.” Mom gives me a hug. “I think you’ll enjoy having him here.”

Who knows? Maybe I will. Maybe my cousin is a really cool guy. Maybe he has good taste in music. And maybe he’s witty and entertaining. And maybe he’ll be willing to help with emergency cleanup if we’re having a wild party and Mom calls suddenly to say she’s on her way home early.

We might end up being the best friends that any two cousins could ever be. We’ll giggle and frolic and be inseparable.

But probably not.

I can’t believe I have to share my room.

I return to making my lunch. I’ll try to be optimistic and pretend that these will be the best three months of my life. How bad could it be?

ABOUT Jeff Strand

Jeff Strand has written more than twenty books and is a four-time nominee of the Bram Stoker Award. Three of his young adult novels were Junior Library Guild picks. Publishers Weekly called his work “wickedly funny.” He lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Learn more at JeffStrand.com.

Want to win an advanced reading copy?

Do the Rafflecopter thingy!

 Open to U.S./Canada residents until Midnight on November 1st.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Choosing Whose Words Have Power Over Us, a guest post by author Meg Kassel

I loved the movie Labyrinth as a little kid. Aside from being fascinated with David Bowie, I liked the main character, Sarah (Jennifer Connelly), whose baby brother is stolen by Jareth (Bowie), the Goblin King. The only way to get him back is to defeat a formidable labyrinth, with traps and twists that render it nearly impossible to navigate. Despite Jareth’s taunts to give up, Sarah enters the labyrinth to save her brother and makes some unusual friends on the way. There is a poem, which if Sarah could remember the ending to, would negate the Goblin King’s power. But she can’t remember the words. . .

blackbirdofthegallows

This movie stuck with me. I’ve watched it numerous times, at different stages of my life. Because, well, David Bowie, but more so because Sarah represented. Steely resolve, determination despite terrible odds, and resilience in the face of a cruel foe. It isn’t surprising that these books, movies, music, make an impression on a writer when they start creating work. There is a bit of Sarah in all my heroines, and certainly in Angie Dovage, the seventeen-year-old main character in my debut, Black Bird of the Gallows.

Early in the book, Angie’s traumatic past is exploited by a bullying classmate, Kiera, who makes a point of informing Reece, Angie’s new neighbor and hot new addition to the student body, about the troubled years Angie lived with her late mother. Angie flees the cafeteria in humiliation and shame. She also hides her musical talent behind a disguise, afraid that if her true identity is known, she and her music would be rejected. That’s where she is in the beginning. That’s where lots of teens are, and that’s where I was at various points in my life. The words of another can devastate. In Black Bird of the Gallows, Angie becomes swept into a fight for survival, as events unfold, both natural and supernatural. She learns to trust herself. She learns to choose who has power over her. Late in the book, she faces Kiera again, although this time, the bully must rely on Angie for assistance. Kiera hasn’t changed. She’s still as petty and small and unkind as ever, but Angie IS different. And that’s what makes this interaction so different from the first.

labyrinth

There were times in school when I felt intimidated, belittled, by another. There were mornings I walked to the bus stop with a pit in my stomach and sweat on my palms. It’s a horrible feeling, and one I usually kept to myself for fear of compounding the bad feelings I already had. There was no defining moment that ended those feelings for me, but many little lessons. Many tiny revelations. Growth that came in the form of a thousand pricks on the finger. Life is always changing. We DO get to choose whose words have meaning and whose does not. At some point in Angie Dovage’s journey, she decides that Kiera’s words do not. If I hadn’t chosen to disempower the negative voices in my life, I wouldn’t be a writer now. Creativity can’t flourish without some level of personal empowerment. Creativity and fear don’t mix. In Labyrinth, Sarah’s journey eventually finds her face to face with the Goblin King. She prevails because she owns her inner strength, sees a larger world, and finds the words which have been with her the whole time: “you have no power over me.”

Black Bird of the Gallows Official Description:

A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full.

Angie Dovage can tell there’s more to Reece Fernandez than just the tall, brooding athlete who has her classmates swooning, but she can’t imagine his presence signals a tragedy that will devastate her small town. When something supernatural tries to attack her, Angie is thrown into a battle between good and evil she never saw coming. Right in the center of it is Reece—and he’s not human.

What’s more, she knows something most don’t. That the secrets her town holds could kill them all. But that’s only half as dangerous as falling in love with a harbinger of death.

 

Buylinks: https://entangledpublishing.com/black-bird-of-the-gallows.html

Add to Goodreads TBR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33509076-black-bird-of-the-gallows

 

MegKassel-HeadshotAbout Meg Kassel:

Meg Kassel is an author of paranormal and speculative books for young adults. A New Jersey native, Meg graduated from Parson’s School of Design and worked as a graphic designer before becoming a writer. She now lives in Maine with her husband and daughter and is busy at work on her next novel. She is the 2016 RWA Golden Heart© winner in YA.

Author Links:

Website: http://megkassel.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/megkassel

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/megkasselauthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/seemegwrite/

tumblr: https://megkassel.tumblr.com/

Newsletter: http://megkassel.com/newsletter/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8353652.Meg_Kassel

May 2017 #ARCParty

May 2017 #ARCParty// The Teen and Bestie were here last night and we looked through our stack of ARCs that release this month. Each teen took turns reading the back descriptions out loud and they divided them up to see who gets to read what.

They agreed they would share Songs About a Girl (which The Teen began reading last night). The Bestie walked out with The Names They Gave Us after The Teen gushed about it. She also walked out with Four Weeks, Five People and No Good Deed (she liked Kill the Boy Band by the same author). The Teen is all about fantasy so she has Dark Breaks the Dawn on deck next.




  1. Two best friends go on an epic adventure to try and fix their friendship #ARCParty

    Two best friends go on an epic adventure to try and fix their friendship #ARCParty


  2. Fantasy  A fight for a kingdom Shapeshifting #ARCParty

    Fantasy
    A fight for a kingdom
    Shapeshifting
    #ARCParty


  3. Mental Health, OCD, Eating Disorders Four weeks, five people #ARCParty

    Mental Health, OCD, Eating Disorders
    Four weeks, five people
    #ARCParty


  4. Historical fiction, Civil War, Slavery, True Love #ARCParty

    Historical fiction, Civil War, Slavery, True Love
    #ARCParty


  5. Bands, Photography Fame, Rivalry #ARCParty

    Bands, Photography
    Fame, Rivalry
    #ARCParty


  6. Drug trafficking, family, butterflies, immigration #ARCParty

    Drug trafficking, family, butterflies, immigration
    #ARCParty


  7. One minute and fifty-three seconds after the safety bar comes down, two girls lives are changed forever

    One minute and fifty-three seconds after the safety bar comes down, two girls lives are changed forever


  8. Teens attend a camp where they learn to do good deeds #ARCParty

    Teens attend a camp where they learn to do good deeds #ARCParty

 

WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI and Sex Positive YA, a guest post by author Sandhya Menon and a GIVEAWAY

Today we are honored to host author Sandhya Menon as she discusses writing a sex positive YA story. We’re also giving away a hardback copy of this upcoming YA title, one of the most anticipated YA releases of 2017.

whendimplemetrishi

Growing up, my parents and I never discussed sex. It wasn’t even something that they considered discussing with me, I’m sure. In general South Asian parents don’t ever, ever talk about sex with their children. It was weird, in the South Asian community, if your parents were open about that kind of thing, and they were usually judged pretty harshly by the other parents; being that open was viewed as putting your kids on the path to promiscuity. I didn’t really figure out all of the ins and outs of sex—so to speak—until I was well into high school, and only then thanks to other overzealous, (non-South Asian, naturally) high school students who couldn’t wait to share their exploits.

So you can believe me when I say that putting in a sex scene into my debut YA, When Dimple Met Rishi, was something I agonized over. I knew South Asian people (and others who don’t typically discuss sex with their teenage children) would be reading this—strangers, acquaintances, friends, those in my family, etc. What would they think? Would they feel that the book would corrupt the youth of today? Would they glare at me for breaking the unspoken rule—no South Asian adult shall educate unmarried South Asian youth about sex until the night before their wedding, and only then in the vaguest terms? I spent many a sweaty day fretting.

In the end, with my editor’s blessing (she’s Cambodian American, and shared my concerns), I decided to put it in there. It’s not on the page, per se…I fade out once things get going. But I do also very plainly state what’s going to happen. Dimple and Rishi have a very frank and open conversation about sex and what it means to them, and even talk about using a condom to be safe. In some ways, I still can’t believe my family members in India might read this one day soon. (And that I’m not immediately begging Simon & Schuster to stop the presses.)

Why, then, given my anxieties about it, did I put the scene in and leave it there? Honestly, I feel like it’s time for adults in the South Asian community to begin having those conversations with our sons and daughters (especially our daughters, who’ve traditionally been kept in the dark the longest). Not talking about sex doesn’t prevent sexual activity. If anything, it only makes sex something carried out in shameful secret—which means more venereal diseases and unwanted pregnancies, more unneeded psychological pain and damage.

I certainly don’t think all teenagers need to have sex. Sex depends on the individual, and readiness will vary with emotional and physical maturity, among other factors. But I do think that talking about healthy sexual practices like consent, birth control, and readiness (and for South Asian teens, that may well mean considering their parents’ stance on premarital sex) should become more of a practice in our homes.

Most importantly, by writing the sex scene in When Dimple Met Rishi, I wanted to show that sex can be safe and positive, something that, when undertaken with care, is a normal part of a consensual, adult relationship even when the individuals in question aren’t married. I hope it opens the door for teens in households where sex isn’t a part of the conversation to approach it in a non-threatening, healthy manner.

About WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI

A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married.

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways. (Simon Pulse, May 30th)

Meet Author Sandhya Menon

Sandhya Menon author photo, credit Timothy Falls

Sandhya Menon is the author of WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI (Simon Pulse/May 30, 2017) and a second YA contemporary coming in the summer of 2018. She was born and raised in India on a steady diet of Bollywood movies and street food, and pretty much blames this upbringing for her obsession with happily-ever-afters, bad dance moves, and pani puri.

Sandhya currently lives in Colorado, where she’s on a mission to (gently) coerce her family to watch all 3,221 Bollywood movies she claims as her favorite.

Visit her on the web at http://www.sandhyamenon.com.

Social media:

Twitter: http://bit.ly/sandhyatwitter

Instagram: http://bit.ly/sandhyainsta

A GIVEAWAY

U.S. residents can enter by Saturday, May 20th to win a hardback copy of this swoon worthy book. Do the Rafflecopter thing below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Power of Humor in YA, a guest post by Jeff Strand

By way of introduction, I present to you dear reader Jeff Strand. Jeff Strand writes funny, irreverent, slap your sides humorous YA. It’s the kind of humor I don’t think there is enough of in YA, though if you like Jeff Strand I do recommend Lish McBride,  Sarah Rees Brennan and Lance Rubin as well. I am a huge fan of Jeff Strand’s books and today we are honored to have a guest post by him discussing humor in YA.

strand4

First of all, I do believe that kids should be forced to read the classics in school. I certainly don’t want a new generation to get out of something I had to endure.

“Endure” isn’t always the right word. I loved Lord of the Flies and Catcher in the Rye. But Wuthering Heights? If you genuinely enjoyed Wuthering Heights, I salute you, but for me that book was constant “Gaaaahhhhh!!!” I have scarring memories of lines like ‘Wretched inmates!’ I ejaculated, mentally, ‘you deserve perpetual isolation from your species for your churlish inhospitality.’ And right after that, ‘T’ maister’s down i’ t’ fowld. Go round by th’ end o’ t’ laith, if ye went to spake to him.’

For those weeks in English class, reading was a nightmarish activity. Consecutive words on a piece of paper? Ugh. Where’s my Playstation 4? (Playstation 4 did not exist when I was in school, nor did Playstation 3, 2, or 1, but I’m trying not to date myself.)

This is one of the funniest, LOL books I have ever read

This is one of the funniest, LOL books I have ever read

Again, it was right of my teacher to subject the class to that excruciating novel. It was good that he quizzed us on that miserable book. I retroactively admire him for making us write papers about it. This ghastly reading experience was good for our brains. We needed it. But we don’t want students to have post-traumatic stress disorder when they see a book, so there should be a balance of weighty books with fun ones. Humor!

I don’t mean humor as in the comedic works of William Shakespeare, which some say should have you holding your sides as you roll in the aisles with tears of laughter streaming down your face. ROFL!!! The footnote explains why that reference is hilarious! No, I mean books that would make an actual teenaged human being laugh.

I mean, you can’t gorge yourself on candy for every meal (sadly) but you want candy sometimes. Nobody can live on healthy food all the time. Actually, I guess they can. It’s not as if somebody’s going to say, “Since I only have nutritious dining options available, I’m just going to stop eating altogether!” So it’s a bad metaphor. Which is fine, because I’m talking about the kind of books where you don’t have to analyze metaphors.

strand2

As a kid, I always gravitated toward the “funny” books, although they tended to be more “lighthearted” than joke-filled. Judy Blume’s Fudge series and Beverly Cleary’s Ramona series, which I read over and over and over and over and over and over, were filled with wacky antics but not necessarily “Bwah hah hah hah!” types of reads. I would tell my friends about the crazy trouble these characters got themselves into, but I wasn’t quoting zany one-liners.

hitchhikers

The first laugh-out-loud funny book I read was Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. My reaction was, “This is allowed? You can be this over-the-top goofy and funny and somebody will actually publish it?” I knew then what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to kidnap Douglas Adams, bury him in a shallow grave, assume his identity, and write his books for him. This plan turned out to be impractical, for a number of reasons, and I settled for trying to write like him.

Now, as a kid, I was most definitely not a reluctant reader. My parents were both avid readers and passed that on to me. Though the lighthearted romps were my favorite, I loved tales of adventure, mysteries…pretty much everything, old and new. I didn’t need anybody to dangle a carrot to get me to read. The reading experience itself was my carrot. (Again, I’m not here to do good metaphors. If you want good metaphors, Charlotte Bronte put plenty of them in Wuthering Heights.) (I’m here to do humor, like when you pretend that you thought Charlotte Bronte wrote Wuthering Heights, but of course it was her sister Emily. Charlotte wrote Captain Underpants.) (I apologize for that misinformation. Emily Bronte illustrated Captain Underpants but didn’t write it.)

But not everybody inherited a love of reading. And that’s why “fun” books are important. Sure, “fun” can involve swashbuckling pirates or high-speed cowboy horse chases, but humor is one of the strongest indicators that a book might be enjoyable to kids who aren’t predisposed to pick one up. “Hey, books don’t have to be gloomy! Books can make you laugh so hard that people give you weird looks!”

I don’t specifically write with a reluctant reader audience in mind, but few things are more gratifying than getting an e-mail that basically says, “I didn’t even know I liked to read! Reading to me was punishment! But your book, with all of its stupid jokes, made me realize that not all books exist to suck joy out of my life. What else have you written? What other books are like yours?”

Not all reluctant readers are going to discover nutty comedy novels and go on to develop a deep appreciation for deep complex literature. But at least it can be a step away from “Books! Ugh!”  Though I have not personally created a new generation of lifelong readers, I’ve at least converted a few of ’em, and it’s not through my brilliant character development or unbelievably gripping storylines. It’s ‘cuz they’re funny! There’s not just room for that kind of material in the world of young adult fiction—it’s a crucial part!

Of course, as an author of humorous young adult fiction, I would say that, but still…

To recap: Funny = Good. Impenetrable metaphor = Also Good. We need both.

About STRANGER THINGS HAVE HAPPENED

You can’t always believe what you see in this hilarious coming of age novel from the author of The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever and I Have a Bad Feeling about This

Harry Houdini. Penn and Teller. David Copperfield. Marcus Millian the Third.

Okay, so Marcus isn’t a famous magician. He may not even be a great magician. But his great-grandfather, the once-legendary and long-retired Zachary the Stupendous, insists Marcus has true talent. And when Grandpa Zachary boasts that he and Marcus are working on an illusion that will shock, stun, and astonish, Marcus wishes he could make himself disappear.

The problem? Marcus also has stage fright—in spades. It’s one thing to perform elaborate card tricks in front of his best friend, Kimberly, but it’s an entirely different feat to perform in front of an audience.

Then Grandpa Zachary dies in his sleep.

To uphold his great-grandfather’s honor, the show must go on. It would take a true sorcerer to pull off the trick Marcus has planned. But maybe he’s the next best thing…

Sourcebooks Fire (April 4, 2017)

January #ARCParty – A look at some new YA lit releases

The Teen, The Bestie and I gathered together to discuss some January 2017 and upcoming YA releases recently. Here's a brief look at what we looked at and how the teens felt about them. Because we did it on Instagram (we often talk books and Teen MakerSpace on the TeenLibrarianToolbox Instagram page, though fair warning, you'll see pictures of my kids there too), the pictures can be hard to see here. You can also find the January #ARCParty storified here.

janarc1 janarc2 janarc4 janarc5 janarc3 janarc6 janarc7

Exclusive Deleted Scene from UNDEFEATED by Steve Sheinkin

For 10 years, I worked at the Marion Public Library in Marion, Ohio. This is significant to this story because one of our branches was in LaRue, the home of Jim Thorpe and the pro-football team which featured the Oorang Indians. We had entire programs built around Jim Thorpe. But it still always tickles me when other people talk about Jim Thorpe, in part because I’m not super involved in the world of sportsball of any kind and I forget that other people are and they know things about it. Today we are honored to share with you a deleted scene from the new book, UNDEFEATED by Steve Sheinkin.

undefeated

I always wind up with a lot of deleted material, and often whole scenes, but this was the once instance in Undefeated where I cut an entire chapter. I love the story, but I knew the same themes would be covered later in the story, once Jim Thorpe arrived on the scene.

On an October night in 1902, Pop Warner sat in his home on the Carlisle campus, wondering what he could possibly do to turn his football program around. The team had gone 6-4-1 in 1900, with losses to Penn and Harvard, and a 35-0 thrashing at the hands of Yale. 1901 was worse. A beating by old school, Cornell, set off a seven game winless streak, and the team finished with a losing record. Warner could not possibly justify his salary with these kinds of results.

      There was a big game with a strong Cornell team in four days. And Warner, an optimist at heart, was wrestling gloomy thoughts. 

      “It looked,” he later said, “as if victory was going to be impossible.”

      Halfway into the 1902 season, Carlisle was 3-1. Not bad, but they hadn’t played any top teams yet, which is what made this Cornell game so important. That and the fact it was Pop’s old school. And the fact they’d crushed Carlisle 17–0 the year before. And the fact that Pop’s younger brother Bill, one of the country’s top linemen, was the Cornell team captain. Was he really going to let his kid brother humiliate him again?

      Yeah, probably.

      Bill was six-foot-one, 220, and Cornell’s other linemen were nearly as big. They’d use mass plays to batter Carlisle’s smaller line. But the bigger problem was the state of the Carlisle team. Nikifer Schouchuck, the sturdy center from Alaska, had been hurt so badly the week before, he was still in the hospital. Albert Exendine, a promising eighteen-year-old left end, could hardly walk on his badly sprained ankle. Martin Wheelock, who Pop called “my best offensive weapon,” was down with a case of pleurisy, an excruciating inflammation of the membrane lining the lungs and inner side of the ribcage. “His pain was so great that he couldn’t bear even to have the bedclothes touch him,” Warner remembered.

      Warner was pondering limited options when there was a knock on the door. It was another of Pop’s best players, Antonio Lubo. His arm was in a sling.

      “Coach, I’d give anything if I could play against Cornell,” Lubo said. “I know how Schouchuk and Wheelock can’t play. I’d like to go up there for you and for Carlisle.”

      In a game with Navy the year before, Lubo had suffered a compound fracture of his left wrist. The wound got infected, and still hadn’t healed properly. But here he was, begging to play.

      “Not with that arm,” Warner told him.

      “But that wouldn’t make any difference,” Lubo insisted. “I’ve been exercising and have kept in good shape in every other way.”

      Warner asked Lubo where he thought he could play.

      “Tackle, in Wheelock’s place.”

      “No. That’s out of the question. A tackle must have both arms.”

      “Well, then, center.”

      “No, a center must use both hands to pass the ball.”

      “Well,” Lubo said, “I know I could play somewhere.”

      Pop had always been a tinkerer, the type of guy who liked to take things apart and put them back together. He had an idea. The next morning he found two strips of leather and sewed them into a finger-to-elbow cast. He slipped it over Lubo’s wrist, stuffed it with cotton, and wrapped the whole thing in a thick layer of tape.

      “Thank you, coach,” Lubo said with a huge smile.   

      That inspired a movement. “All the cripples around the place asked for harness that would enable them to play,” Warner recalled. Albert Exendine’s ankle injury was fairly straightforward. “We bound his crippled limb with tape so tightly that he couldn’t move his foot.” The real challenge was Martin Wheelock, who sneaked out of the infirmary and showed up at Pop’s door.

      Warner ordered him back to bed.

      “If you can fix Lubo, you can fix me,” Wheelock said. “There’s nothing wrong with my arms or legs; all I’ve got is pleurisy.”   

      “But you can’t run, Martin.”

      “Change me from guard to center. Then I won’t have to run.”

      Against his better judgment, Warner shaped two sheets of aluminum into a sort of lightweight suit of armor. Wheelock wriggled his tender chest into the contraption, and taped it in place.

      On the field at Cornell, Pop chatted with his brother before the game. Bill asked how the Carlisle team was feeling.

      “So-so,” Pop said, shrugging. “I’ve got a sick lad at center and a one-armed chap at guard.”

      “Say! We don’t want to play a bunch of cripples.”

      Pop smiled. “Don’t worry old boy. You’ll find ‘em lively enough.”

      Cornell was the stronger team, moving the ball steadily with power runs. But Carlisle hung around, making just enough third down stops to keep it close. “Mostly it was Lubo and Wheelock,” Warner recalled. “How Lubo did it with his lame arm I don’t know. And time and time again, Wheelock winced in pain as he came in contact with his opponents.”

      Late in the second half, with Cornell leading 6–5, Carlisle recovered a fumble at the Cornell thirteen. Four plays later, third down and goal from the Cornell two, quarterback Jimmie Johnson handed it to Charles Williams, who dove over backs of his blockers, Lubo and Wheelock, landing across the goal line.

      Carlisle held on for the win, 10–6.

      Bill Warner hobbled over to shake his brother’s hand. He told Pop, “Thank the Lord these boys weren’t feeling well.” 

About UNDEFEATED

Jim Thorpe was an incredible Native American athlete and Olympic gold medalist, and Pop Warner was an indomitable coach and football mastermind with an Ivy League background. Before these men became legends, they met in 1907 at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania, where they forged one of the greatest teams in American football history. Called “the team that invented football,” they took on the best opponents of their day, defeating much more privileged schools such as Harvard and the Army in a series of breathtakingly close calls, genius plays, and bone-crushing hard work.

UNDEFEATED is an astonishing underdog sports story—and more. It’s an unflinching look at the U.S. government’s violent persecution of Native Americans and the school that was designed to erase Indian cultures. Expertly told by nonfiction powerhouse author Steve Sheinkin, it’s the story of a group of young men who came together at that school, the overwhelming obstacles they faced both on and off the field, and their absolute refusal to accept defeat.

Just in time for pre-Super Bowl football roundups and coverage, Steve Sheinkin brings Jim Thorpe’s inspiring story to life, highlighting his heritage and the previously little-known and astonishing history of Native American boarding schools.

Meet Steve Sheinkin

Steve Sheinkin

Steve Sheinkin is the award-winning author of fast-paced, cinematic nonfiction histories for young readers. The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights, was a National Book Award finalist and received the 2014 Boston Globe/Horn Book Award for Nonfiction. The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery, won both the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award and the YALSA award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. Bomb: The Race to Build-and Stealthe World’s Most Dangerous Weapon was a Newbery Honor Book, a National Book Award Finalist, and winner of the Sibert Award and YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War was a National Book Award finalist and a YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award finalist. Sheinkin lives in Saratoga Springs, New York, with his wife and two children.

Published by Roaring Brook Press | On sale January 17, 2017 Hardcover | $19.99 | 9781596439542

Take 5: Book Links of Interest for January 2017 (Collection Development Tools)

newyalitIt’s 2017! Which means it’s time for new books. Here is a list of some links to new YA coming out this year, and a couple that focus on this month.

15 of the Best YA Books for January 2017 : Bustle

60 Diverse Books To Look Forward To In 2017 – Bookishness and Tea

22 of Our Most Anticipated Contemporary YAs of 2017 : The B&N Teen Blog

26 of Our Most Anticipated YA Fantasy Novels of 2017 : The B&N Teen Blog

17 2017 YA Books To Have On Your Radar : Amanda MacGregor (Teen Librarian Toolbox)

Privacy in the Digital Age, A Look at IN CASE YOU MISSED IT by author Sarah Darer Littman

What if you kept a diary and suddenly everyone could read what you had said in private? That’s the question posed in IN CASE YOU MISSED IT by author Sarah Darer Littman. Today she is here to talk about her latest book and the idea of privacy in an increasingly open and online world.

incaseyoumissedyouit

Did you ever keep a journal in middle school or high school? My teen diaries provide a wealth of humor, insight, and sometimes, deep embarrassment when I read back on them through the lens of longer life experience.

Even now, the thought of those journals being made public in anything other than a deeply disguised fictional form is mortifying.

My teen diaries were hand written, but even though I tried to hide them, they were vulnerable to discovery by my siblings and parents.  Those discoveries had negative consequences, but nothing like what happens to Sammy Wallach, the main character in my latest YA novel, IN CASE YOU MISSED IT.

Sammy thinks she’s being smart by keeping her journal on her laptop, so her parents and little brother RJ can’t read it. What she forgets is that her laptop is set to automatically back up to the cloud. Her most private thoughts become public as “collateral damage” when hacktivists target her father, the CEO of a major bank. Sammy has been keeping secrets from her parents – but they’ve got secrets of their own. When everything becomes public, can they all learn to trust again?

One thing for which I’ve become increasingly grateful as I’ve watched my kids grow up in the Internet age is that I was able to make all the many, many mistakes I did in relative privacy.  Most of my worst offenses are hazy memories in the heads of middle school and high school friends. I didn’t have to worry about them being  documented on social media.

If 2016 has taught us anything, it’s that a great proportion of adults have difficulty with using social media responsibly.  Yet we put this technology in the hands of younger and younger kids, whose frontal cortexes (the area of the brain that controls reasoning and helps with rational decision making) haven’t fully matured and developed, and we expect them to behave in a way many adults still have been unable to master and model.

As with all of my books, I hope IN CASE YOU MISSED IT helps to start some conversations, especially about online privacy and personal responsibility in the social media era.

Publisher’s Book Description

Everyone has secrets—until they go viral.

Sammy Wallach has epic plans for the end of junior year: Sneak out to the city to see her favorite band. Get crush-worthy Jamie Moss to ask her to prom. Rock all exams (APs and driver’s).

With a few white lies, some killer flirting, and tons of practice, Sammy’s got things covered. That is, until the international bank her dad works for is attacked by hacktivists who manage to steal everything in the Wallach family’s private cloud, including Sammy’s entire digital life. Literally the whole world has access to her emails, texts, photos, and, worst of all, journal.

Life. Is. Over.

Now Sammy’s best friends are furious about things she wrote, Jamie thinks she’s desperate, and she can barely show her face at school. Plus, her parents know all the rules she broke. But Sammy’s not the only one with secrets—her family has a few of its own that could change everything. And while the truth might set you free, no one said it was going to be painless. Or in Sammy’s case, private. (Scholastic, October 11, 2016)

About Sarah  Darer Littman

Sarah Darer Littman is the award-winning author of CONFESSIONS OF A CLOSET CATHOLIC, PURGE, LIFE, AFTER, WANT TO GO PRIVATE? and the upcoming CHARMED, I’M SURE and IN CASE YOU MISSED IT. In addition to writing for teens, she is a columnist the website CTNewsJunkie.com. She lives in Connecticut, in a house that never seems to have enough bookshelves.Tweeters follow Sarah @SarahDarerLitt