Monthly Archives: January 2012

Congrats to the 2012 ALA Youth Media Award Winners!

Days like today are exciting ones for anyone who is part of the kid lit community — even YA book bloggers like those of us here at Novel Novice.

Why? Well, because the 2012 ALA Youth Media Awards were announced!

In particular, those of us here at Novel Novice are extraordinarily proud & excited for John Corey Whaley, whose debut novel Where Things Come Back won both the Morris Award for debut YA novel and the Printz Award for outstanding work in YA fiction. Not only have we been praising this book since last year, but we’ve come to be friends with Corey in real life, too — so you can see why we’re over the moon.

But we’re also stoked about ALL of the honors.

Here’s a look at the winners in YA & MG:

John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature:

  • Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

Two Newbery Honor Books also were named:

  • Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai a
  • Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin

Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults:

  • Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

Printz Honors:

  • Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler, art by Maira Kalman
  • The Returning by Christine Hinwood
  • Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey
  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience:

  • The Jury chose not to award a book in the category for children ages 0 – 8 because no submissions were deemed worthy of the award.

Two books were selected for the middle school award (ages 9 – 13):

  • close to famous byJoan Bauer
  • Wonderstruck: A Novel in Words and Pictures by Brian Selznick

The teen (ages 14-18) award winner is:

  • The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

Alex Awards for the 10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences:

  • Big Girl Small by Rachel DeWoskin
  • In Zanesville by Jo Ann Beard
  • The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan
  • The New Kids: Big Dreams and Brave Journeys at a High School for Immigrant Teens by Brooke Hauser
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  • Robopocalypse: A Novel by Daniel H. Wilson
  • Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
  • The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt: A Novel in Pictures by Caroline Preston
  • The Talk-Funny Girl by Roland Merullo

Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults:

  • Susan Cooper is the 2012 Edwards Award winner. Her books include: The Dark Is Rising Sequence: “Over Sea, Under Stone”; “The Dark Is Rising”; “Greenwitch”; “The Grey King”; and “Silver on the Tree.”

Odyssey Award for best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults, available in English in the United States:

  • Rotters by Daniel Kraus and narrated by Kirby Heyborne.

Four Odyssey Honor audiobooks also were selected:

  • Ghetto Cowboy by G. Neri and narrated by JD Jackson
  • Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt and narrated by Lincoln Hoppe
  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater and narrated by Steve West and Fiona Hardingham
  • Young Fredle by Cynthia Voigt and narrated by Wendy Carter

Pura Belpré (Author) Award honoring a Latino writer whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience:

  • Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

Two Belpré Author Honor Books were named:

  • Hurricane Dancers: The First Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck by Margarita Engle
  • Maximilian and the Mystery of the Guardian Angel: A Bilingual Lucha Libre Thriller by Xavier Garza

Stonewall Book Award -Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award given annually to English-language children’s and young adult books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience:

  • Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy by Bil Wright

Four Honor Books were selected:

  • a + e 4ever by Ilike Merey
  • Money Boy by Paul Yee
  • Pink by Lili Wilkinson
  • with or without you by Brian Farrey

William C. Morris Award for a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens:

  • Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

See a complete list of winners here.

For the comments: Which of these books have you read? Which ones are you going to read now?

Book Review: Pink Smog by Francesca Lia Block

Weetzie Bat has been a classic icon in young adult literature for almost twenty years — and now, she’s back in an all new prequel to introduce new readers to her fabulous modern day fairy tale escapades.

Pink Smog by Francesca Lia Block introduces readers to Weetzie’s middle school years, and shows us how this iconic character became the Weetzie Bat of the Dangerous Angels collection.

In her formative years, Weetzie is less sure of herself than her older self seen in Block’s beloved collection of stories. With Pink Smog, readers witness the events that help shape her personality, her signature style, and her strength. There’s a lot of real world drama for Weetzie to deal with: bullies, a broken home, and witnessing one friend’s eating disorder, and another friend’s questionable means of income.

These are issues any teenager can relate to — and yet, woven throughout Pink Smog is an element of whimsy and magic, the very signature style that Block is known for. She weaves these fantastical elements into her story so seamlessly that it’s easy to believe magic is real and that this whimsical version of Los Angeles really exists.

I fell in love with the Weetzie Bat books when I was a teenager, and I fell in love all over again reading Pink Smog. Whether you’re a long time Weetzie Bat fan, or just meeting her for the first time, Pink Smog is a seductive, magical story that will leave you ready for more.

Lucky for us, there is lots more to Weetzie’s story!

Pink Smog is in stores on Tuesday.

John Green, Beth Revis join this week’s top ten list

It should come as no surprise that this week’s top spot belongs to the much-anticipated and lauded The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. (Read our review.) By all accounts, it’s an amazing book. Also debuting in the top ten is Beth Revis’s A Million Suns, the follow-up to Across the Universe.

This Week Children’s Chapter Books Weeks on List
1 THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, by John Green. (Dutton, $17.99.) A 16-year-old heroine faces the medical realities of cancer. (Ages 14 and up) 1
2 THE SON OF NEPTUNE, by Rick Riordan. (Disney-Hyperion, $19.99.) The cast of characters expands; Book 2 of the Heroes of Olympus. (Ages 9 to 12) 15
3 MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN, by Ransom Riggs. (Quirk Books, $17.99.) An island, an abandoned orphanage and a collection of curious photographs. (Ages 12 and up) 32
4 THE LEGO IDEAS BOOK, by Daniel Lipkowitz. (DK, $24.99.) Projects with plastic bricks. (Ages 7 and up) 11
5 THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET, by Brian Selznick. (Scholastic, $22.99.) An orphan thief must decipher his father’s last message. (Ages 9 to 12) 96
6 CLOCKWORK PRINCE, by Cassandra Clare. (Margaret K. McElderry, $19.99.) Book 2 of the Infernal Devices, a sequel to “Clockwork Angel.” (Ages 14 and up) 6
7 THROUGH MY EYES, by Tim Tebow with Nathan Whitaker. (Zondervan, $16.99.) The quarterback’s journey, rooted in his Christian faith. (Ages 7 to 12) 2
8 THE LOST HERO, by Rick Riordan. (Disney-Hyperion, $18.99.) A return to Camp Half-Blood and semi-divine characters. (Ages 10 and up) 62
9 WONDERSTRUCK, by Brian Selznick. (Scholastic, $29.99.) In alternating stories told in words and pictures, children look for loved ones. (Ages 9 to 12) 18
10 A MILLION SUNS, by Beth Revis. (Razorbill, $17.99.) Elder and Amy race to discover the truth behind life on the spaceship Godspeed. (Ages 12 and up) 1

Cinder Author Marissa Meyer: My Query Letter

Today, we’re hosting an exclusive guest blog from Cinder author Marissa Meyer, as part of the official Cinder Blog Tour! Thanks to Marissa for stopping by today!

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Cinder: From Query Letter to Flap Copy

If there is anything more difficult to write than a novel, it’s that novel’s submission materials. The dreaded query letter! The awful synopsis! The pristine first five pages that have been tweaked to within an inch of their lives! How we writers stress and worry, analyzing every sentence, agonizing over the difference between “sincerely” and “best regards,” struggling to hit that perfect balance between the necessary and the interesting.

I started writing my query letter for Cinder, my debut novel, more than a year before it was ready to submit to anyone. Sometimes I would be chugging along, revising or editing or doing something that had nothing to do with writing at all, and a sentence or two would pop into my head. A hint of description, a taste of conflict, a short enticement into my story. So I would open up a word doc and write it down. Sometimes it was only a couple sentences, sometimes it turned into the complete letter.

By the time the book was finally ready, or as ready as I thought I could make it, I opened up all my query drafts and started piecing them together. Kind of like Dr. Frankenstein, I took the best parts of each letter—the wittiest turns-of-phrase, the most concise descriptions—and stitched them together into a sensible whole, following the tips I’d learned from months of diligently following agent blogs.

I then posted the query letter to my blog, let my friends pick it apart, and used their suggestions to make a handful of changes.

Then—finally—I chose my top five dream agents, took a deep breath, and hit send.

As it turned out, my query letter was quite respectable, despite how nervous I was. Of sixteen agents I submitted to, two asked for partials and three for fulls, and I ended up signing with Jill Grinberg, the very first agent I’d sent it to. She later used my query letter when she went on submission to publishers.

And then, can you imagine my surprise when a year later I received my book—my book! And I opened up the cover to read the front flap of the jacket and immediately recognized the description text my publisher had chosen to print there. My query letter! Almost word-for-word, as it will live on now for eternity.

So that’s my query story, and here, without further blabbing, is the letter itself.


Dear Ms. Grinberg,

I’m seeking representation for Cinder, an 85,000-word futuristic young adult novel and a re-envisioning of the classic Cinderella story. I’m submitting to you because Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series was hugely inspirational in the writing of this novel, and I hope my futuristic world will capture your interest as well.

Sixteen-year-old Cinder is a cyborg, considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though—Cinder’s brain interface has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings the prince himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it a matter of national security, but Cinder suspects it’s more serious than he’s letting on.

Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder’s intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that’s been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter’s illness, Cinder’s stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an “honor” that no one has survived.

But it doesn’t take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. The surgeons who turned Cinder into a cyborg had been hiding something. Something valuable.

Something others would kill for.

I’ve had a novelette, “The Phantom of Linkshire Manor,” published in the gothic romance anthology Bound in Skin (Cats Curious Press, 2007), and am a member of the Romance Writers of America. I hold an MS in Publishing and a BA in Creative Writing, emphasis on children’s literature. My bi-monthly writing newsletter reaches over 450 subscribers.

Cinder is the first of a planned series.

I’ve attached the first fifty pages. Thank you for your consideration.

Best regards,

Marissa Meyer


If there are any questions about the letter or my submissions experience, I’m happy to try to answer them! Thanks so much to Sara of Novel Novice for wrapping up the Cinder Blog Tour!

The Saturday Post: Movie Rights, Covers, Teasers & More

* The movie rights to Kody Keplinger’s The Duff have been optioned by CBS films. Congrats to Kody! We hope this one makes it to the big screen!

* Jessica Martinez revealed the cover for her new book, The Space Between Us, and a synopsis:

From the author of Virtuosity, a novel about two sisters and the secrets they tell, the secrets they keep, and the secret that tears them apart.

Amelia is used to being upstaged by her charismatic younger sister, Charly. She doesn’t mind, mostly, that it always falls to her to cover for Charly’s crazy, impulsive antics. But one night, Charly’s thoughtlessness goes way too far, and she lands them both in serious trouble.

Amelia’s not sure she can forgive Charly this time, and not sure she wants to…but the situation is even worse than either of them realizes. Amelia has no choice but to give up everything–her friends, her future, her dream–in order to cover for Charly’s huge mistake.

Amelia doesn’t understand how her sister could have done this to them both. What she doesn’t know is that Charly is hiding a terrible secret—one with the potential to change everything.

* The nominees for the Edgar Awards were announced. Here’s a look at the nominees for middle grade:

  • Horton Halfpott by Tom Angleberger
  • It Happened on a Train by Mac Barnett
  • Vanished by Sheela Chari
  • Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby
  • The Wizard of Dark Street by Shawn Thomas Odyssey

And the YA nominees:

  • Shelter by Harlan Coben
  • The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
  • The Silence of Murder by Dandi Daley Mackall
  • The Girl is Murder by Kathryn Miller Haines
  • Kill You Last by Todd Strasser

* Shameless self-promotion: my comic book FAME: Suzanne Collins comes out next month, and you should totally pre-order it now. Plus check out an exclusive sneak peek from MTV:

See more at MTV Geek!

* The Hillywood Show has released a teaser for their Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Parody, coming next month:

Cinder by Marissa Meyer & Other Fairytales in YA

Fairy tales will always have a place in our hearts, but these days they’re seeing a resurgence in Young Adult literature with new adaptations and modernizations that breathe fresh life into these timeless stories.

The latest YA fairy tale twist came out this month: Cinder by Marissa Meyer — but there are plenty of fairy tales getting new life in the YA book shelves.

Here’s a look at some of our favorites:

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

Fairy Tale Inspiration: “Little Red Riding Hood”

Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris– the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She’s determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.

Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts fiercely alongside her. Now Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves and finds herself drawn to Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an ax– but loving him means betraying her sister and has the potential to destroy all they’ve worked for.

Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

Fairy Tale Inspiration: “Hansel & Gretel”

Twelve years ago, Gretchen, her twin sister, and her brother went looking for a witch in the forest. They found something. Maybe it was a witch, maybe a monster, they aren’t sure—they were running too fast to tell. Either way, Gretchen’s twin sister was never seen again.

Years later, after being thrown out of their house, Gretchen and Ansel find themselves in Live Oak, South Carolina, a place on the verge of becoming a ghost town. They move in with Sophia Kelly, a young and beautiful chocolatier owner who opens not only her home, but her heart to Gretchen and Ansel.

Yet the witch isn’t gone—it’s here, lurking in the forests of Live Oak, preying on Live Oak girls every year after Sophia Kelly’s infamous chocolate festival. But Gretchen is determined to stop running from witches in the forest, and start fighting back. Alongside Samuel Reynolds, a boy as quick with a gun as he is a sarcastic remark, Gretchen digs deeper into the mystery of not only what the witch is, but how it chooses its victims. Yet the further she investigates, the more she finds herself wondering who the real monster is, and if love can be as deadly as it is beautiful.

Entwined by Heather Dixon

Fairy Tale Inspiration: “The 12 Dancing Princesses”

Azalea is trapped. Just when she should feel that everything is before her . . . beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing . . . it’s taken away. All of it.

The Keeper understands. He’s trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. And so he extends an invitation.

Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest.

But there is a cost.

The Keeper likes to keep things.

Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.

Ash by Malinda Lo

Fairy Tale Inspiration: “Cinderella”

In the wake of her father’s death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.

The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King’s Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash’s capacity for love-and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.

Entrancing, empowering, and romantic, Ash is about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.

Beastly by Alex Flinn

Fairy Tale Inspiration: “Beauty & the Beast”

I am a beast.
A beast!
Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright. I am a monster.
You think I’m talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It’s no deformity, no disease. And I’ll, stay this way forever ruined unless I can break the spell.
Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly…beastly.

Cloaked by Alex Flinn

Fairy Tale Inspiration: “The Elves & the Shoemaker”

I’m not your average hero. I actually wasn’t your average anything. Just a poor guy working an after-school job at a South Beach shoe repair shop to help his mom make ends meet. But a little magic changed it all.

It all started with a curse. And a frognapping. And one hot-looking princess, who asked me to lead a rescue mission.

There wasn’t a fairy godmother or any of that. And even though I fell in love along the way, what happened to me is unlike any fairy tale I’ve ever heard. Before I knew it, I was spying with a flock of enchanted swans, talking (yes, talking!) to a fox named Todd, and nearly trampled by giants in the Everglades.

Don’t believe me? I didn’t believe it either. But you’ll see. Because I knew it all was true, the second I got cloaked.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Fairy Tale Inspiration: “Cinderella”

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

In this thrilling debut young adult novel, the first of a quartet, Marissa Meyer introduces readers to an unforgettable heroine and a masterfully crafted new world that’s enthralling.

For the comments: What are your favorite fairy tale adaptations in YA lit?

Untraceable Author SR Johannes: Tough Girls in YA

Today, we’re delighted to host Untraceable author S.R. Johannes, here to guest blog about one of our favorite subjects … Kick Ass Heroines!

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Tough Girls in Contemporary Fiction

When I started Untraceable, the first thing I set out to do was create a strong girl MC. I feel like all the tough girls are in dystopic books and fantasy books. Then, most of the contemporary books are issue driven (suicide, rape, or chick lit/funny.) While I think there is a place for everything, I began to notice that there are not many girls who don’t revolve around boys and who are tough on their own. In this world. With no special powers.

Tough yet relatable was my first goal.

I really wanted to have a character in my book that could take care of herself, was tough yet real. I think the hardest part of creating Grace was making her tough, making her seem real and not “superhero-ish”, yet still let her be snarky and fun to where you might want to be her friend.

A lot of tough girl MCs are so tough they seem unrelatable. I wanted you to like her enough that you rooted for her even though she might not need many people.

Tough and in the real world

I also really wanted to keep Grace in a contemporary world. It was important to me to show that girls could be tough without living in a fantastical world or having special powers.

Tough on the boys

I wanted to show a girl in todays’ world who cared about more than just boys. I’m not saying boys are not important, but I think we underestimate teens. I think they think about more than that.

It was important to me that Grace has nice guys to choose from. Though one is more mysterious. At the core, they are nice guys. Both Wyn and Mo treat her with respect – neither is the “typical bad guy” we see in a lot of books today.

So to me, Grace embodies independence, loyalty, and toughness that I think we should encourage in all girls. She is a real girl in a real world.

Untraceable is a wilderness thriller available in ebook and paperback at B&N, Amazon, and other major booksellers.

S.R. Johannes lives in Atlanta Georgia with her dog, British-accented husband, and the huge imaginations of their little prince and princess, which she hopes- someday- will change the world. After earning an MBA and working in corporate america, S.R. Johannes traded in her expensive suits, high heels, and corporate lingo for a family, flip-flops, and her love of writing. 

Her second book is a tween paranormal coming Jan 31st. On The Bright Side is about Gabby, a tween angel, who is forced to protect her school nemesis, now dating her crush. Instead of protecting her, she plays pranks and soon realizes what can happen when you hate someone to death. She is also part of a indie author Anthology, In His Eyes, coming Feb 14th.

Here’s where you can learn more: 


Hallowed Author Cynthia Hand: Unique Angel Mythology

Today, we are delighted to be part of the official blog tour for Hallowed by Cynthia Hand, in stores now. Thanks Cynthia for stopping by to guest blog! Plus, keep reading for your chance to win a copy of Hallowed, the sequel to Unearthly.

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How do you keep your angel mythology unique is a genre that is overly saturated?

There are a lot of angel books out there. Yeah, trust me, I know. Unearthly was on the crest of the wave of angel books that hit the market last year. Here’s what I had to say about that last year, when there were a few new articles on the angel-mania.  At first I made sure to read all the other angel books that came out, not out of competitiveness, although I felt a bit of that, surely, but mostly out of sheer curiosity. I wanted to see how different authors handled similar material, my material. After a while, though, I stopped seeking out angel books because there were just too many of them. I wanted to read about other things, too, and I was busy writing my own books. Now I only read an angel novel if I hear through the grapevine that the book is particularly awesome or unique. This is why I’m currently reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

There was a time in the early days where my editor and I pondered whether or not we should change Clara’s name, since there was already an angel-related Clary. Also, Clara sounded a bit like Bella. Did I want people to make the comparison? But I said no to changing her name, ultimately, because Clara in my head was so firmly herself: CLARA. Not Clary. Not Bella. Not based on anybody I knew from any other book. Herself.

I’m glad I stuck to my guns on that.

But there was also a moment when I was reading the sequel to Lauren Kate’s Fallen (Torment) when I realized that she had a female-mentor character named Frances, nicknamed Frank. Well crapzol, I thought. I had a female-mentor character named Frances Fairweather, who everybody called Frank. I dashed off a distressed email to my editor. Yes, she replied, probably better change this. We wouldn’t want anybody to think I copied Lauren Kate. And that is how Frank became Billy, who you will meet in all her awesomeness in Hallowed. I think the name Billy fits her too; in fact, it’s almost hard for me to remember her as Frank, way back when my novel was first forming.

So yes, I am generally aware of what’s out there. Sometimes it changes the way I approach things. And sometimes it doesn’t.  But in truth, I don’t worry much about keeping my mythology unique. It was more than two years ago when I first started scribbling down notes about my angel-populated universe at a frantic pace because the ideas were pouring out of my brain like a faucet on full-blast. That was a grand time, when this entirely new world was forming in my head, with new creatures and new rules and new stories to tell about these people. It was wonderful to create that world, and the core angel mythology hasn’t changed much since then, honestly. My job now is to fill in the holes, which is fun too.

That’s the trick, I think, if you’re writing anything that’s already saturated. Have fun. Don’t worry too much. Be aware of what other people are doing, but don’t obsess about it. Be yourself. Because, at the end of the day, what will make your mythology stand out from the rest is you. I am confident that nobody else but me could have come up with Unearthly. It is a unique mix of influences, from books I’ve read and loved, like Anne of Green Gables, to philosophy, like Eckhart Tolle, religion, like C.S. Lewis, my memories and past experiences and writing style and sense of humor. Sure, it’s going to share characteristics with the other angel novels. We’re basing our stories on the same ground material. There’s going to be wings, probably, and the use of light, and stuff with languages, a flaming sword or two, a fight of good versus evil in some form. But Unearthly is my baby, grown from my brain.

And oh, how my baby has grown!

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Want to win your own copy of Hallowed? Here’s how:

  • Fill out the Novel Novice Hallowed Entry Form
  • Enter by midnight (PT) on Wednesday, January 25th
  • And follow these rules:
    • U.S. only
    • One entry per person
    • Use the entry form
  • One winner will receive a finished copy of Hallowed!

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Here’s more about Hallowed, in stores now:

For months part-angel Clara Gardner trained to face the raging forest fire from her visions and rescue the alluring and mysterious Christian Prescott from the blaze. But nothing could prepare her for the fateful decisions she would be forced to make that day, or the startling revelation that her purpose—the task she was put on earth to accomplish—is not as straightforward as she thought. Now, torn between her increasingly complicated feelings for Christian and her love for her boyfriend, Tucker, Clara struggles to make sense of what she was supposed to do the day of the fire. And, as she is drawn further into the world of part angels and the growing conflict between White Wings and Black Wings, Clara learns of the terrifying new reality that she must face: Someone close to her will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning.

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is the type of book that doesn’t really need a lot of extra publicity. I mean, it had a 150,000 initial print run (with pre-sales boosted by John’s promise to sign all 150,000 copies ahead of time) and it’s written by freaking John Green. The man has a following so huge that my blog’s readership pales by comparison. Suffice it to say, John Green doesn’t need my help selling books.

But The Fault in Our Stars is one of those rare books that come along only every so often and move me, as a reader. So it behooves me to share my feelings on this stunning portrait of adolescence, cancer, love, life, and death. Here are three things I loved most about The Fault in Our Stars (and why you should read it, too):

1. It’s the funniest sad book I’ve ever read, and the saddest funny book I’ve ever read. I was crying and then laughing and then laughing and crying at the same time. Combined, this unexpected blend of humor and tragedy makes for a truly honest portrayal of what it’s like to deal with a terminal disease. Cancer sucks. Life doesn’t have to.

2. This is what contemporary YA is all about. It’s smart and witty and doesn’t speak down to its audience. Green gives us characters who are insightful and flawed and who share the same hopes, dreams, and fears we all do as teenagers. (And that many of us continue to face as adults). You read this book, and think, Yes! This! This is adolescence! This is life! This is real!

3. It’s the kind of book you tell everyone about. Sure, John Green has a huge following online and lots of fans. But there are even more people WHO DON’T EVEN KNOW. They have no idea! And after reading The Fault in Our Stars, I want the entire world to read this book as well. And so I find myself telling anyone and everyone about it — even people who probably don’t give a crap. Friends, family, coworkers, random strangers in the grocery store. This is the kind of book I can’t shut up about. Honestly. It would just be easier if you read it. Then I might stop telling you about it.

Bonus Points: The title is a Shakespearean reference. And the book is chock-full of literary references, both real and fictional. That makes everything more entertaining for book nerds like me.

The Fault in Our Stars is in stores now.

New Young Adult Book Releases: January 17, 2012

Here’s a look at some of today’s new YA releases:

Tempest by Julie Cross

The year is 2009.  Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy… he’s in college, has a girlfriend… and he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies – nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there’s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors – it’s just harmless fun.

That is… until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future.

Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities.

But it’s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these “Enemies of Time” will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler.  Recruit… or kill him.

Piecing together the clues about his father, the Enemies of Time, and himself, Jackson must decide how far he’s willing to go to save Holly… and possibly the entire world.

Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

For months part-angel Clara Gardner trained to face the raging forest fire from her visions and rescue the alluring and mysterious Christian Prescott from the blaze. But nothing could prepare her for the fateful decisions she would be forced to make that day, or the startling revelation that her purpose—the task she was put on earth to accomplish—is not as straightforward as she thought. Now, torn between her increasingly complicated feelings for Christian and her love for her boyfriend, Tucker, Clara struggles to make sense of what she was supposed to do the day of the fire. And, as she is drawn further into the world of part angels and the growing conflict between White Wings and Black Wings, Clara learns of the terrifying new reality that she must face: Someone close to her will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning.

The Pregnancy Project by Gaby Rodriguez

The true story of a high school senior whose faked pregnancy rocked her community and made international headlines. Growing up, Gaby Rodriguez was often told she would end up a teen mom. After all, her mother and her older sisters had gotten pregnant as teenagers…from an outsider’s perspective, it was practically a family tradition. Gaby had ambitions that didn’t include teen motherhood. But she wondered: How would she be treated if she “lived down” to others’ expectations? Would everyone ignore the years she put into being a good student and see her as just another pregnant teen statistic with no future? These questions sparked Gaby’s school project: faking her own pregnancy as a high school senior to see how her family, friends, and community would react. What she learned changed her life forever, and made international headlines in the process.

In The Pregnancy Test, Gaby details how she was able to fake her own pregnancy—hiding the truth from even her siblings and boyfriend’s parents—and what it was like to become an accidental overnight media sensation, trying to navigate a new world of film and book offers and talk show invitations while getting ready for the prom. But more than that, Gaby’s story is about the power of stereotypes, and how one girl found the strength to come out from the shadow of low expectations to forge a bright future for herself.

For the comments: Which of today’s new releases are you most excited about?