Monthly Archives: January 2010

Book trailer: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

There’s been a lot of buzz recently about The Iron King by Julie Kagawa (which was just recently published) — but I hadn’t gotten a chance to really look into it. Now, after seeing this trailer, I’m definitely adding it to my reading list:

Here is the official synopsis for The Iron King:

Meghan Chase has a secret destiny—one she could never have imagined…

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan’s life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school…or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she’s known is about to change.

But she could never have guessed the truth—that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she’ll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face…and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

For the comments: Have you read The Iron King, or are you planning to after seeing this trailer?

What is in J.D. Salinger’s safe? More novels?

Author J.D. Salinger passed away this week at the age of 91 — sad news for the literary world. Beloved for his novel Catcher in the Rye and other works, Salinger was notorious for his dislike of fame and publicity. He was something of a recluse.

But now there is talk about what’s inside his vault. And if it includes unpublished manuscripts, will Salinger’s family release them for publication, given the author’s tendency not to publish later in life. Here’s more from an AP article:

No comment, says his literary representative, Phyllis Westberg, of Harold Ober Associates Inc.

No plans for any new Salinger books, reports his publisher, Little, Brown & Co.

Marcia B. Paul, an attorney for Salinger when the author sued last year to stop publication of a “Catcher” sequel, would not get on the phone Thursday.

His son, Matt Salinger, referred questions about the safe to Westberg.

Stories about a possible Salinger trove have been around for a long time. In 1999, New Hampshire neighbor Jerry Burt said the author had told him years earlier that he had written at least 15 unpublished books kept locked in a safe at his home. A year earlier, author and former Salinger girlfriend Joyce Maynard had written that Salinger used to write daily and had at least two novels stored away.

Salinger, who died Wednesday at age 91, began publishing short stories in the 1940s and became a sensation in the 1950s after the release of “Catcher,” a novel that helped drive the already wary author into near-total seclusion. His last book, “Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour,” came out in 1963 and his last published work of any kind, the short story “Hapworth 16, 1924,” appeared in The New Yorker in 1965.


Some of the great works of literature have been published after the author’s death, and even against the author’s will, including such Franz Kafka novels as “The Trial” and “The Castle,” which Kafka had requested be destroyed.

Because so little is known about what Salinger was doing, it’s so easy to guess. McInernay said he has an old girlfriend who met Salinger and was told that the author was mostly writing about health and nutrition. Lish said Salinger told him back in the 1960s that he was still writing about the Glass family, featured in much of Salinger’s work.

But the Salinger papers might exist only in our dreams, like the second volume of Nikolai Gogol’s “Dead Souls,” which the Russian author burned near the end of his life. The Salinger safe also could turn into a version of Henry James’ novella “The Aspern Papers,” in which the narrator’s pursuit of a late poet’s letters ends with his being told that they were destroyed.

Margaret Salinger, the author’s daughter, wrote in a memoir published in 2000 that J.D. Salinger had a precise filing system for his papers: A red mark meant the book could be released “as is,” should the author die. A blue mark meant that the manuscript had to be edited.

“There is a marvelous peace in not publishing,” J.D. Salinger told The New York Times in 1974. “Publishing is a terrible invasion of my privacy. I like to write. I love to write. But I write just for myself and my own pleasure.”

For the comments: What do you think of this situation? Do you respect the Salinger’s family rights to keep unpublished manuscripts secret, or do you want to see Salinger’s work published posthumously?

This Week’s NYT’s Best-Sellers in Young Adult Lit

Here are this week’s best-sellers in Young Adult lit from The New York Times:

This Week Weeks on List
1 CATCHING FIRE, by Suzanne Collins. (Scholastic, $17.99.) The protagonist of “The Hunger Games” returns. (Ages 12 and up) 21
2 THE HUNGER GAMES, by Suzanne Collins. (Scholastic, $17.99.) In a dystopian future, a girl fights for survival on live TV. (Ages 12 and up) 72
3 PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS (THE ULTIMATE GUIDE), written by Mary-Jane Knight. Designed by Philip Chidlow.. (Disney-Hyperion, $12.99.) Gods, beasts and tips for children with one immortal parent, based on the series by Rick Riordan. (Ages 10 and up) 1
4 FALLEN, by Lauren Kate. (Delacorte, $17.99.) Thwarted love among misfits at a boarding school in Savannah, Ga. (Ages 12 and up) 7
5 WHEN YOU REACH ME, by Rebecca Stead. (Wendy Lamb, $15.99.) A sixth-grade girl in New York City begins receiving mysterious notes. (Ages 9 to 12) 10
6 WITCH AND WIZARD, by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet. (Little, Brown, $17.99.) One of each, brother and sister, flex their newfound powers. (Ages 12 and up) 6
7 WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON, written and illustrated by Grace Lin. (Little, Brown, $16.99.) Traditional folktales embroider a Chinese girl’s adventures. (Ages 9 to 12) 1
8 SHIVER, by Maggie Stiefvater. (Scholastic Press/Scholastic, $17.99.) Love among the lupine. (Ages 12 and up) 26
9 HUSH, HUSH, by Becca Fitzpatrick. (Simon & Schuster, $17.99.) Love among immortals. (Ages 14 and up) 10
10 THE EVOLUTION OF CALPURNIA TATE, by Jacqueline Kelly. (Holt, $16.99.) A girl indulges her penchant for observing nature. (Ages 12 and up) 1

For the comments: Have you read any of these books? What did you like/dislike about them?

Two new reading guides at Teenreads

There are two new reading guides over at Teenreads. These list book information and discussion questions, which would also make good essay topics.

The featured books are Anything but Normal by Melody Carlson and Out with the In Crowd by Stephanie Morrill.

2000-2010: The Decade of Young Adult Lit has declared 2000-2010 the YA Decade … and, well, we’re inclined to agree. After all, it seems as if Young Adult lit has really taken off in the last ten years (Thanks, J.K. Rowling, et. al.) and it’s now become one of the hottest commodities in the publishing world.

Amazon’s Omnivoracious blog writes:

No other genre (except maybe graphic novels) has grown and changed as much during the last decade as young adult fiction. Inspired by Harry Potter (and probably a little bit by Lemony Snicket and Artemis Fowl), a whole generation of voracious readers emerged, and a whole new group of writers came up with stories to keep them reading well into their teens.

Rather than attempting the seemingly impossible feat of naming the top YA authors or books of the decade, Omnivoracious rather listed eight influential YA authors who helped pave the way for others. Here’s a peek at their list:

1. M.T. AndersonOctavian1
primary contributions: writing YA books that adults take seriously; influencing multiple YA subgenres: vampire, romantic comedy, dystopian, and historical.

YA novels:
Thirsty (1997, his vampire novel)
Burger Wuss (1999)
Feed (2002, L.A. Times Book Prize winner and finalist for National Book Award)
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party (2006, winner of the National Book Award)
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. II: The Kingdom of the Waves (2008, Michael L. Printz Honor from YALSA)

paved the way for: Scott Westerfeld, John Green, Stephenie Meyer, and basically everyone else who aspires to literary YA fiction

2. Laurie Halse Anderson
Speak primary contributions: writing about the things you’re not supposed to talk about; enduring a book ban now and again with grace; general awesomeness

YA novels:
Speak (1999)
Catalyst (2002)
Prom (2005)
Twisted (2007)
Wintergirls (2009)

next book:
Forge, a follow-up to 2008 National Book Award nominee Chains (Oct 2010)

paved the way for: Jay Asher, Elizabeth Scott, Gayle Forman, to name just a few

3. Meg Cabot
Princessdiaries1 primary contributions: cheeky girl humor; writing one of the first super-series; constantly encouraging aspiring writers

To describe how I feel about Meg Cabot, I have to borrow one of my grandma’s favorite phrases: Isn’t she just darling? When she’s not busy writing, like, a million books, she writes to her fans on Meg’s Diary, her blog.

YA Series:
The Princess Diaries (2000, first of a series of 10, which ran until 2009)
Shadowland (from The Mediator series, 2000-2004)
Airhead (2008, first in a series that also includes Being Nikki)

YA novels (examples):
Teen Idol (2004)
Avalon High (2005)
Pants on Fire (2007)
All-American Girl (2008)

paved the way for: Melissa Walker, E. Lockhart, Ally Carter, Sarah Mlynowski, and many other funny women of YA

4. Cecily Von Ziegesar
Gossipgirl9primary contributions: creating a YA niche so steamy it would make Jackie Collins jealous; enduring frequent ban/censoring attempts; turning real-life prep school experience into an industry

Of the YA books we’ve received for consideration at our house, the Gossip Girl series is the most frequently imitated. It’s Gossip Girl… in Philadelphia. It’s Gossip Girl… with vampires. Etc. Also, like The Twilight Saga, it’s brought YA to the forefront of mainstream pop culture, and criticism (like Rebecca Mead’s semi-recent New Yorker story on Alloy Entertainment, “The Gossip Mill”.)

Novels (all Gossip Girl, all the time):
Gossip Girl (2001, first in a series of 11 novels that “ended” in 2007… the last three ghostwritten, per von Ziegesar)
It Had to Be You (2007, the first Gossip Girl prequel)
Gossip Girl: The Carlyles (2008-2009, spin-off series)
The It Girl (2005-2009, another spin-off series)

next book: Cum Laude (June 2010)

5. Christopher Paolini
Books-eragon primary contributions: putting the notion in our heads that a YA can write a successful YA novel; putting the notion in publisher’s heads that YA fantasy can sell

YA Novels (in the Inheritance Cycle):
Eragon (2003)
Eldest (2005)
Brisingr (2008)

6. Scott Westerfeld
primary contributions: crossing over to YA as an established science fiction writer for adults; raising the profile of YA SciFi; writing one of the most beloved/recommended YA series (the Uglies)

UgliesYA series:
Uglies (2005, book one in the Uglies trilogy, with a fourth book, Extras, added in 2009)
Midnighters (book 1 of a 3-book series, 2005-2007)

YA novels:
So Yesterday (2005)
Peeps (2006, his vampire novel)
The Last Days (2007, sequel to Peeps)

paved the way for: YA SciFi superstars like Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games) and Cory Doctorow (Little Brother)

7. Stephenie Meyer
primary contributions: supernatural teen romance crossover; author as celebrity; book-writing mommy; person who dreams about something and writes it down and it becomes a best-selling series

Twilight YA novels (duh):
Twilight (2005)
New Moon (2006)
Eclipse (2007)
Breaking Dawn (2008)

cleared a path in the supernatural romance subgenre for: Cassandra Clare, Melissa Marr, Maggie Stiefvater

in the vampire subgenre: PC and Kristen Cast, Richelle Mead

8. John Green

primary contributions: nerdfighters; using YouTube to connect with his readers; writing books about teens that teens want to read; telling the guy’s side of the crush; incorporating Walt Whitman into a YA novel

An Abundance of Katherines (2006)
Looking for Alaska (2006)
Let it Snow (2008, with Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle)
Paper Towns (2008, Edgar Award, Teen Choice Award)

See the rest here.

For the comments: Who do you think were some of the biggest/most-influential YA authors of the last decade?

Part 5: YALSA names 2010 top books for teens

This past week, the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), named its 2010 list of Best Books for Young Adults.

All this week, Novel Novice has been featuring the top 10 … and here are the final two titles:

Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor


Three tales of supernatural love, each pivoting on a kiss that is no mere kiss, but an action with profound consequences for the kissers’ souls:

Goblin Fruit: In Victorian times, goblin men had only to offer young girls sumptuous fruits to tempt them to sell their souls. But what does it take to tempt today’s savvy girls?

Spicy Little Curses: A demon and the ambassador to Hell tussle over the soul of a beautiful English girl in India. Matters become complicated when she falls in love and decides to test her curse.

Hatchling: Six days before Esme’s fourteenth birthday, her left eye turns from brown to blue. She little suspects what the change heralds, but her small safe life begins to unravel at once. What does the beautiful, fanged man want with her, and how is her fate connected to a mysterious race of demons?


  • American Library Association Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults
  • National Book Award Nominee for Young People’s Literature (2009)
  • Cybils Award Nominee for Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction (2009)

Stitches: A Memoir by David Small


One day David Small awoke from a supposedly harmless operation to discover that he had been transformed into a virtual mute. A vocal cord removed, his throat slashed and stitched together like a bloody boot, the fourteen-year-old boy had not been told that he had cancer and was expected to die.

In Stitches, Small, the award-winning children’s illustrator and author, re-creates this terrifying event in a life story that might have been imagined by Kafka. As the images painfully tumble out, one by one, we gain a ringside seat at a gothic family drama where David—a highly anxious yet supremely talented child—all too often became the unwitting object of his parents’ buried frustration and rage.

Believing that they were trying to do their best, David’s parents did just the reverse. Edward Small, a Detroit physician, who vented his own anger by hitting a punching bag, was convinced that he could cure his young son’s respiratory problems with heavy doses of radiation, possibly causing David’s cancer. Elizabeth, David’s mother, tyrannically stingy and excessively scolding, ran the Small household under a cone of silence where emotions, especially her own, were hidden.

Depicting this coming-of-age story with dazzling, kaleidoscopic images that turn nightmare into fairy tale, Small tells us of his journey from sickly child to cancer patient, to the troubled teen whose risky decision to run away from home at sixteen—with nothing more than the dream of becoming an artist—will resonate as the ultimate survival statement.

A silent movie masquerading as a book, Stitches renders a broken world suddenly seamless and beautiful again. .


  • American Library Association Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults
  • National Book Award Nominee for Young People’s Literature (2009)
  • Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Nonfiction & Graphic Novel (2009)
  • ALA Alex Award (2010)

See our previews posts on YALSA’s 2010 Top Books for Teens:

EXCLUSIVE giveaway: My Soul to Save by Rachel Vincent

We’re excited to announce our first contest/giveaway here at Novel Novice!

Courtesy of the fine folks at Harlequin Teen, we’re giving away three copies of My Soul to Save by Rachel Vincent.

This is book #2 in the Soul Screamers series, which the publishers boast will be loved by Twilight fans.


Jan. 29th through Feb. 19th

The Prize:

Three winners will each receive one (1) copy of My Soul to Save.

How to Enter:

It’s easy!

Between now & Feb. 19th, we’ll be making various posts about My Soul to Save.

Just leave a comment on ANY of the My Soul to Save posts with the word SOUL and you’ll automatically be entered to win!

Keep track of all posts about My Soul to Save on our contest homepage.

The Rules:

  • Only ONE comment per post
  • You may comment on ALL of the posts for My Soul to Save (It’s just ONE comment PER post)
  • Only comments made between Jan. 29th & Feb. 19th, 2010 will be eligible
  • Spam comments & multiple comments per post will be deleted, and you will be disqualified.
  • We can only ship prizes to U.S. addresses (Sorry int’l folks!)

Be sure to stop by Novel Novice regularly between now & Feb. 19th for more posts about My Soul to Save, and more chances to win. (And check for ALL our posts about My Soul to Save here!)

Great New Contest for Beginning Writers!

While I must apologize for the late notice, there is an excellent contest over at for beginning writers. Check out the contest rules below:

Kidlit Contest

Since the query contest worked out so well in October, I’m going to do another contest at the beginning of 2010… novel beginnings! That’s right, the beginning (up to 500 words) of your YA or MG novel!

It’s too messy to have people post their entries in comments,  so please don’t leave an entry there. Only use the comments to ask questions. This time, I’m going to let you enter by e-mail only, to mary at kidlit dot com, with the subject line “Kidlit Contest.” Copy and paste your novel text… do not send attachments. Your entry has to be for a children’s novel (YA or MG, sorry, no picture books this time around), it has to be for a manuscript that is FINISHED and could be sent out to an agent, and it must be under 500 words.

To be clear, you have to email your entry to me with the subject line “Kidlit Contest” by January 31st, 2010 in order to qualify.

Once I have all entries, I will deliberate for about a week, pick the most compelling openings, dissect what makes them so awesome on the site AND award you fabulous prizes:

Grand Prize Winner: A 15 page critique
First Place: A 10 page critique
Second Place: A 5 page critique
Third Place: A 2 page critique
Honorable Mention(s): A critique of the first page of your novel”

Click below for more information!

Author J.D. Salinger dies at 91

It is with a heavy heart that I pass on the news today that author J.D. Salinger has died at the age of 91.

Salinger is perhaps best known for his coming of age novel The Catcher in the Rye. This is one of my personal all-time favorite novels, and one I have always cherished. It’s one of those quintessential novels that every teen should read — despite the attempts of some narrow-minded souls to have it banned. And because Salinger was so anti-Hollywood, don’t wait around for a movie adaptation. It won’t happen.

You can read more about Salinger’s death here.

Meanwhile, I’m currently stuck in the Denver airport, waiting for a connecting flight (hopefully, if the weather in Oklahoma cooperates) … but as soon as I get home, I am breaking out my battered copy of Catcher in the Rye for yet another read-through.

I highly recommend you do the same.

For the comments: Have you read any of Salinger’s work? What’s your favorite?

R.I.P. – J.D. Salinger

Not many people can get through high school without reading J.D. Salinger’s iconic book The Catcher in the Rye. The reclusive author of this angst-ridden novel passed away today at the ripe old age of 91. From The New York Times:

Mr. Salinger’s literary reputation rests on a slender but enormously influential body of published work: the novel “The Catcher in the Rye,” the collection “Nine Stories” and two compilations, each with two long stories about the fictional Glass family: “Franny and Zooey” and “Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction.”

“Catcher” was published in 1951, and its very first sentence, distantly echoing Mark Twain, struck a brash new note in American literature: “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”

Read more about Salinger’s life and times in the NYT obit.

So tell us, The Catcher in the Rye – love it or hate it?