Monthly Archives: September 2012

Stiefvater, Bray debuts hit the best sellers list

Forgive my editorializing, but there’s something wrong when Justin Bieber’s book ranks higher than debuts from such YA powerhouses as Maggie Stiefvater (The Raven Boys, no. 8) and Libba Bray (The Diviners, no. 10). Yes, yes, I’m happy people are reading no matter what the subject matter, but please do yourselves a favor and check out some fantastic new fiction!

This Week Children’s Chapter Books Weeks on List
1 LINCOLN’S LAST DAYS, by Bill O’Reilly and Dwight Jon Zimmerman. (Holt, $19.99.) An account of the 16th president’s assassination. (Ages 10 to 15) 5
2 UNSTOPPABLE, by Tim Green. (Harper/HarperCollins, $16.99.) A foster child in a cruel home dreams of playing in the N.F.L. (Ages 9 to 12) 1
3 SECONDS AWAY, by Harlan Coben. (Putnam, $18.99.) Mickey Bolitar and his new friends find themselves at the center of a terrifying mystery. (Ages 12 and up) 1
4 JUSTIN BIEBER: JUST GETTING STARTED, by Justin Bieber. (Harper/HarperCollins, $21.99.) The pop star tells his own story in words and pictures. (Ages 10 and up) 2
5 INSURGENT, by Veronica Roth. (Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins, $17.99.) In this “Divergent” follow-up, a faction war looms. (Ages 14 and up) 21
6 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) 37
7 THE DEMIGOD DIARIES, by Rick Riordan. (Hyperion/Disney, $12.99.) Lore on the Heroes of Olympus and Percy Jackson books. (Ages 10 to 14) 6
8 THE RAVEN BOYS, by Maggie Stiefvater. (Scholastic, $18.99.) The daughter of a town psychic lives under a dark prophecy. (Ages 13 and up) 1
9 TILT, by Ellen Hopkins. (Margaret K. McElderry, $18.99.) Three teenagers cling to the remnants of their secure and familiar world even as the ground shifts under their feet. (Ages 14 and up) 2
10 THE DIVINERS, by Libba Bray. (Little, Brown, $19.99.) In 1920s New York, a girl’s supernatural power only brings her trouble. (Ages 14 and up) 1

Book Review: Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon

Today’s guest book review is written by my dad! Like most everyone in my family, he’s also a big reader — though he doesn’t delve much into YA (despite my best efforts). However, he’s a huge fan of Michael Chabon — so when I had a chance to let him review Chabon’s newest book, well, dear ol’ dad couldn’t resist. For our usual readers, we think Chabon is a top-notch writer … but remember, he writes for adults. So adult topics lie ahead within this book’s pages!

Telegraph Avenue, Michael Chabon’s new novel, tells the story of two families’ struggles to survive not only with each other, but within the community that is focused on and around the stretch of this famous street in Oakland & Berkeley. Typical of Chabon, the story takes a while to develop, but that is because he provides such vivid details of both the people and the community. The characters are flawed, which serves to make them seem real.

Nat Jaffe & Archy Stallings co-own Brokeland Records, a struggling used record store on Telegraph Avenue. Their situation becomes desperate when Gibson Goode, a wealthy former NFL quarterback, announces his intentions to open a Dogpile mega-store just a few blocks away. The popular corporate entity will include a large used record section, so this likely will be the end for Brokeland.

And while Nat & Archy struggle to fend off their corporate rival, wives Aviva Roth-Jaffe and Gwen Shanks find themselves embroiled in a battle for the survival of their longstanding midwives practice with a local hospital, and as a result, their deep and abiding friendship.

Add to the mix that Gwen is pregnant with her and Archy’s baby; Titus Joyner, Archy’s teenage son whom Archy has never acknowledged (and is heretofore unknown to Gwen), arrives in Oakland; Julius Jaffe, Nat & Aviva’s teenage son has a crush on Titus; Archy’s estranged father, former Blaxploitation movie star Luther Stallings has returned to Oakland in an effort to blackmail Goode and local city councilman Chan Flowers over a 30-year crime to finance the resurrection of his film career.

Ultimately, the various members of both families must overcome their individual struggles to come together in support of each other, and that is the ultimate theme of this story. While it was difficult to follow at times, Telegraph Avenue is well worth the investment of time and focus. It is in stores now.

The Best of Quarantine: The Loners by Lex Thomas

Today marks the end of our September Book of the Month featuring Quarantine: The Loners by Lex Thomas — but before we bid farewell to this thrilling YA debut, we want to look back at the best of this month’s posts.

Quarantine: The Loners Writing Contest

You’ve got until midnight (PT) on Sunday, September 30th to get your entries in — hurry!

Quarantine: The Loners Cover Inspiration

See what did the authors originally have in mind for their book cover!

Book Review: Quarantine: The Loners by Lex Thomas

See why we call this book “like The Lord of the Flies on crack.”

Quarantine: The Loners Movie Adaptation

When you can expect to see this book make its way onto the big screen.

What Kami Garcia loves about Quarantine: The Loners

The Beautiful Creatures author is quoted on the book’s cover — but here she delves into exactly why she loves this book so much!

What to read while you wait for the sequel to Quarantine: The Loners

We’ve got a reading list for you!

Q&A with Lex Thomas: Part 1

The serious questions …

Q&A with Lex Thomas: Part 2

The sillier questions …

For the comments: What were your favorite posts from this month? Tell us below!

Exclusive Guest Blog: Author Katherine Marsh discusses art in Jepp, Who Defied the Stars

Today, we are thrilled to be hosting an exclusive guest blog from Katherine Marsh, author of Jepp, Who Defied the Stars.We’re super excited to read this new book when it comes out October 9th. Meanwhile, thanks to Katherine for stopping by today!

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Greetings, Novel Novice Bloggers and Readers!

I’m the author of the new YA novel, Jepp, Who Defied the Stars. A few interesting factoids about me: my first job was teaching high school English, I spent two years writing for Rolling Stone magazine, and I can’t draw much beyond stick figures.

So why have you been invited here to talk about art? This is a book blog in case you haven’t noticed…

Point taken so first I’ll tell you about my book. Jepp is an adventure story/mystery starring a dwarf hero, a nose-less astronomer, a tormented giant, and even a beer-drinking pet moose. The novel explores issues of fate and free will, fitting in, and true love. Most of the characters (even the beer-drinking moose!) are real historical figures.

Sounds kind of cool. But what’s it got to do with art?

When we meet Jepp, the story’s teenage hero, he’s recovering from a tragic stint as a court dwarf. Part of the reason I decided to make Jepp a court dwarf is that as a kid I became fascinated with the dwarf portraits of the 17th century Spanish painter Diego Velazquez. I even based two of the dwarf characters that Jepp befriends at court on specific Velazquez paintings, Las Meninas and Don Sebastian de Morra.

I like Game of Thrones and all but what’s so interesting about these dwarf paintings?

Ever felt like an outsider, an “other”? (If you’re a teenager, or have ever been a teenager, you better say yes.) What Velazquez captures in his portraits—and I sought to capture in Jepp–is that feeling of being part of a scene but not of it, of being different, of being misjudged or underestimated by the world. In short, if you want to introduce a teen reader to art, these are some of the most emotionally identifiable paintings out there. There’s a dignity and directness in the gaze of Velazquez’s dwarf subjects that makes them seem more alive and more observant to injustice than almost anyone else around them—kind of like teens themselves. My book, Jepp, fleshes out the stories and people behind these portraits. It also introduces young readers to the many depths of still lifes–

You mean those boring pictures of apples in a bowl?

Forget about apples. Try insects and skulls. At court, Jepp falls in love with another dwarf named Lia who is obsessed with sketching a particular type of still life called a memento mori. The objects she sketches—a lily, a beetle, a half an orange, a seashell, and a small, white skull—serve as a reminder of death’s inevitability and are also the keys to a mystery of her past. Flemish and Dutch still lifes by such artists as Gerrit Willemsz Heda and Phillipe de Champaigne served as inspiration for Lia’s memento mori and will appeal to even the most Goth teen.

What if I’m not alienated or death obsessed. Any art behind the story that’s just plain pretty?

One of my other favorite artists is the 17th century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer. If Velazquez’s dwarf paintings capture turmoil and alienation, Vermeer’s paintings of quiet moments and domestic scenes capture the peace and security that we hope to find when we grow up. As Jepp’s story is essentially a coming-of-age tale, these paintings were a touchstone to me as I wrote, especially The Astronomer, for reasons that will become clear when you read the book.

For more, check out or follow me on Twitter or on Facebook.

About Katherine Marsh:

I’m the author of the upcoming historical YA novel Jepp, Who Defied the Stars (out October 9th!), the Edgar-award winning The Night Tourist, and a sequel, The Twilight Prisoner (read if you like ghosts, New York City history and Greek myths).

Here is the official synopsis for Jepp, Who Defied the Stars, in stores October 9th:


Is it written in the stars from the moment we are born?

Or is it a bendable thing that we can shape with our own hands?

Jepp of Astraveld needs to know.

He left his countryside home on the empty promise of a stranger, only to become a captive in a luxurious prison: Coudenberg Palace, the royal court of the Spanish Infanta. Nobody warned Jepp that as a court dwarf, daily injustices would become his seemingly unshakable fate. If the humiliations were his alone, perhaps he could endure them; but it breaks Jepp’s heart to see his friend Lia suffer.

After Jepp and Lia attempt a daring escape from the palace, Jepp is imprisoned again, alone in a cage. Now, spirited across Europe in a kidnapper’s carriage, Jepp fears where his unfortunate stars may lead him. But he can’t even begin to imagine the brilliant and eccentric new master–a man devoted to uncovering the secrets of the stars–who awaits him. Or the girl who will help him mend his heart and unearth the long-buried secrets of his past.

Masterfully written, grippingly paced, and inspired by real histori-cal characters, “Jepp, Who Defied the Stars “is the tale of an extraordinary hero and his inspiring quest to become the master of his own destiny.

Enter to win Speechless by Hannah Harrington

Today, we’re helping celebrate the recent release of Speechless by Hannah Harrington with a cool contest thanks to our friends at Harlequin Teen!

First, here’s what Speechless is all about:

Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can’t keep a secret. Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast – and nearly got someone killed. Chelsea has taken a vow of silence – to learn to keep her mouth shut and to stop hurting anyone else.

Speechless explores the real-life teen issues of bullying, mean girls, LGBT awareness and hate crimes. Compared to the many books already out about bullies, Harrington’s novel stands out for its authentic voice and unflinching portrayal of what it means to be part of the bullying. In October 2012, Harlequin TEEN will be releasing a brand new survey that has interviewed 1,500 girls between 13-18 years old on the subject of bullying.

What’s more, Harlequin Teen has partnered with the nonprofit Love is Louder to help spread awareness with the book Speechless.

Love is Louder is a movement that started when actress Brittany Snow, MTV and the Jed Foundation decided to do something to help those feeling mistreated. Hundreds of thousands of people just like you have come together to raise the volume around the message that love and support are louder than any internal or external voice that brings you down.

Now thanks to Harlequin Teen, we’re giving away a finished copy of Speechless and a branded phone skin. Here’s how to enter:

The Contest

Just fill out the Novel Novice Speechless Entry Form and tell us about a time when witnessed, experienced, or stood up to bullying.

The Prize

One (1) winner will receive a Speechless/Love is Louder phone skin and a copy of Speechless.

The Rules

  • Open to U.S. and Canada only
  • One entry per person
  • Use the entry form

The Deadline

All entries are due by midnight (PT) on Tuesday, October 2nd.

Questions? Leave ’em in the comments & we’ll reply!

Exclusive Q&A with Quarantine: The Loners authors Lex Hrabe and Thomas Voorhies – Part 2

Today, we bring you the second part of our interview with Lex Hrabe and Thomas Voorhies, the writing duo behind Quarantine: The Loners known as “Lex Thomas.” Today, the guys tackle our favorite flash questions:

Living or dead, who would you like to have dinner with?

LEX: Willie Nelson. He’s one of the great storytellers. And if anybody’s seen it all, it’s that guy.

TOM: John Singer Sargent, so I could ask him whether he sold his soul to the devil to get that good at painting.

Pizza toppings?

LEX: Pepperoni. Don’t mess with a good thing.

TOM: Mushroom, and onion, and fresh mozzarella.

Private concert: who’s playing?

LEX: If it’s living or dead, I’m going with James Brown. I mean, come on, does it get more intense than that guy on stage? He was a master performer. Although I don’t think I’d want a private concert. Pack the house. One on one, that could get a little weird.

TOM: This is too hard, I don’t know how I could really make a choice if I could really have anyone. I’ve been listening to Scout Niblett’s The Calcination of Scout Niblett a lot while writing this week, so I’m going to say her. I love her sound, and I want to be friends.

Perfect vacation?

LEX: Caribbean. Lying in a hammock. That’s the life.

TOM: Film Festival in a town with nice food. Or a comedy festival, which I’ve never gone to, but I’d be thrilled to.

Look at your desk right now. Name five things within reach.

LEX: I see a lot of bills piling up. A bunch of pens that I’m pretty sure are out of ink. A picture of Elvis practicing karate. A copy of Quarantine for quick reference writing the sequels. There’s a mirror in front of me, so I’m staring at myself, wondering if I’m going to get outside today.

TOM: I brainstorm on post-it notes with sharpie markers, so those yellow squares are all over the desk and walls. Spilled candle wax. A mug of coffee that’s gone cold. Oblique Strategy cards, although I never remember to try and use them. And a bunch of trash I need to throw out.

Thanks to Lex & Tom for answering all our questions! Be sure to check out Quarantine: The Lonersin stores now, if you haven’t already!

New YA Releases: September 25, 2012

Here’s a look at some of today’s big YA releases …

The Paladin Prophecy by Mark Frost

Will West is careful to live life under the radar. At his parents’ insistence, he’s made sure to get mediocre grades and to stay in the middle of the pack on his cross-country team. Then Will slips up, accidentally scoring off the charts on a nationwide exam.

Now Will is being courted by an exclusive prep school . . . and is being followed by men driving black sedans. When Will suddenly loses his parents, he must flee to the school. There he begins to explore all that he’s capable of–physical and mental feats that should be impossible–and learns that his abilities are connected to a struggle between titanic forces that has lasted for millennia.

Co-creator of the groundbreaking television series Twin Peaks, Mark Frost brings his unique vision to this sophisticated adventure, which combines mystery, heart-pounding action, and the supernatural.

The Turning by Francine Prose

Jack is babysitting for the summer on an isolated island with no Wi-Fi, no cell service, and no one else around but a housekeeper and two very peculiar children. He immediately senses something sinister-and it’s not just the creepy black house he’s living in. Soon he is feeling terribly isolated and alone, but then he discovers there are others. The problem is, he’s the only who can see them. As secrets are revealed and darker truths surface, Jack desperately struggles to maintain a grip on reality. He knows what he sees, and he isn’t crazy…Or is he?

Where does reality end and insanity begin? The Turn of the Screw reinvented for modern-day teens, by National Book Award finalist Francine Prose.

The Blessed by Tonya Hurley

Brooklyn teens Lucy, Cecelia and Agnes find themselves in the emergency room at Perpetual Help Hospital at the lowest point in their lives. Lucy, the superficial party girl; Cecelia, a drop out rock chick; and Agnes, a hopeless romantic. All rebels running from their lives and themselves, plagued by broken hearts and broken dreams. Enter Sebastian. Mysterious, compelling, seductive. He seems to bring each of them what they long for…

But in the battle for his heart, will they lose their souls?

The Infects by Sean Beaudoin

A feast for the brain, this gory and genuinely hilarious take on zombie culture simultaneously skewers, pays tribute to, and elevates the horror genre.

Seventeen-year-old Nero is stuck in the wilderness with a bunch of other juvenile delinquents on an “Inward Trek.” As if that weren’t bad enough, his counselors have turned into flesh-eating maniacs overnight and are now chowing down on his fellow miscreants. As in any classic monster flick worth its salted popcorn, plentiful carnage sends survivors rabbiting into the woods while the mindless horde of “infects” shambles, moans, and drools behind. Of course, these kids have seen zombie movies. They generate “Zombie Rules” almost as quickly as cheeky remarks, but attitude alone can’t keep the biters back.

Serving up a cast of irreverent, slightly twisted characters, an unexpected villain, and an ending you won’t see coming, here is a savvy tale that that’s a delight to read—whether you’re a rabid zombie fan or freshly bitten—and an incisive commentary on the evil that lurks within each of us.

The Other Normals by Ned Vizzini

Given the chance, fifteen-year-old Peregrine “Perry” Eckert would dedicate every waking moment to Creatures & Caverns, an epic role-playing game rich with magical creatures, spell casting, and deadly weapons. The world of C&C is where he feels most comfortable in his own skin, so when his parents ship him off to summer camp Perry is sure he’s in for the worst summer of his life.

Everything changes, however, when Perry gets to camp and stumbles into the World of the Other Normals. Perry’s new otherworldly friends need his help to save their princess and prevent mass violence. As they embark on their quest together, Perry realizes that his nerdy childhood has uniquely prepared him to be a great warrior in this world, and maybe even a hero.

Bestselling author Ned Vizzini delivers a compulsively readable and wildly original story about the winding and often hilarious path to manhood.

A Fractured Light by Jocelyn Davies

When she wakes up in unfamiliar surroundings, Skye knows something terrible has happened to her. It’s not until she hears Asher, the dark, rebellious angel she fell in love with, that the memories come flooding back. She tries to put the past behind her, but she knows she’ll be forever haunted by the ruthless betrayal that almost took her life.

Skye returns home, but with the knowledge of who she really is, nothing can ever be the same. As she tests the limits of her newfound powers, Skye discovers that she’s capable of far more than anyone could have imagined. Both the Order and the Rebellion want her for their side as war between the factions looms. She can’t forget the terrifying truth she now knows about the Order, but something holds her back from embracing the Rebellion.

For the comments: Which new releases are you most excited about reading today?

Exclusive Q&A with Quarantine: The Loners authors Lex Hrabe and Thomas Voorhies – Part 1

Today, we are thrilled to bring you part 1 of our interview with Lex Hrabe and Thomas Voorhies, the writing duo behind Quarantine: The Loners known as “Lex Thomas.” These guys are SUPER busy right now, what with writing the sequel to Quarantine: The Loners AND working on the screenplay adaptation. So we’re even more thankful than usual that these authors took the time to answer our questions — both the serious ones, and the not-so-serious ones!

If you were trapped in McKinley High School during the quarantine, which gang would you join?

LEX: The Geeks. I did a lot of drama in high school and I’d probably feel the need to stick close to a stage to keep my mind occupied. Always having the Geek show to prep would be a great creative outlet.

TOM: I change my answer all the time when people ask me this. Today I’ve been sitting alone in my apartment, trying to plow through writing to meet our deadline. I haven’t seen anyone all day or night, and I’m gonna have a lot of days like this in the next few weeks. So, today I’ll say the Loners, so I can be around other people who are used to spending so much time alone. Also, I have a soft spot for weirdos.

Pick one “theme song” to represent QUARANTINE: THE LONERS. What song is it?

LEX: I tweeted about this the other day. There’s an old blues song by Son House called “Grinnin’ In Your Face”. It’s got a very slow, creepy vibe that reminds me of the still moments in McKinley and the silent halls. And the lyrics are right on target:

“You know they’ll jump you up and down / They’ll carry you all round and round / Just as soon as your back is turned / They’ll be trying to crush you down”

TOM: I’m completely down with that.

In the next QUARANTINE book, will we get to see what’s been happening outside of McKinley?

LEX: In a way. How’s that for cryptic?

TOM: I’ll stick with what Lex said. But what I’m more excited about, is how things will change inside the school.

So, thanks for putting everyone’s crappy high school experiences into perspective. What sparked the idea for this high school horror story?

LEX: I think Tom would have to answer that. We were working on a comedy script about a sea hag, and one morning I walked in, and he said what do you think of this idea for a story: instead of cliques in high school, there are gangs, so just walking from your locker to class would be an adventure. I think I said something like: AWESOME.

TOM: I remember the idea coming to me, and it was like any story idea, it just pops in your head. I think I had watched some high school movie or TV show earlier in the day, and the idea occurred to me that it would be cool if all the cliques and stereotypical groups that everyone knows from high school were actually fighting to the death instead of trying to one-up each other socially. The rest of our choices were made to try and make that metaphor for high school happen. What I like about it is things like fitting into a group, or winning in love can feel like life or death issues in high school, and in this premise they literally are. Without a group to belong to, you might starve, or if you mess around with someone’s boyfriend, his girlfriend might actually kill you. Who’s to stop her?

There are some really insane, outrageous moments in QUARANTINE. What scene was the most fun to write/plan?

LEX: For me, I loved when Mr. Meyer, David’s teacher, dies. It’s the first truly shocking beat in the story, where you think “okay, this is about to get crazy!” It’s a real “Evil Dead”-style horror moment where Mr. Meyer launches his lungs out at David’s feet. In early drafts, we went even bigger. Our initial vision was that adults melted into a bloody mess when they got near a teen. I remember we wrote something like Mr. Meyer’s head melted away like a creamsicle held up to a blowtorch. I still miss that.

TOM: My favorite parts to write are often the first and last sentences of each chapter. But if I had to pick a specific scene, I think the chapter where one of our main characters has to traverse a hallway full of lethal booby traps was one of my favorites to bring to life. Who doesn’t love deadly traps?

 See part 2 of our interview on Wednesday!

Ellen Hopkins’ latest enters top ten list

I don’t even know what to say … don’t get me wrong, I’m glad readers are eating up history, but Bill O’Reilly’s latest, Lincoln’s Last Days, is in its fourth week in the top spot. O_o In the second spot is Justin Bieber: Just Getting Started. (Really?!) Happily, in the third spot is the latest from the talented Ellen Hopkins, Tilt.

This Week Children’s Chapter Books Weeks on List
1 LINCOLN’S LAST DAYS, by Bill O’Reilly and Dwight Jon Zimmerman. (Holt, $19.99.) An account of the 16th president’s assassination. (Ages 10 to 15) 4
2 JUSTIN BIEBER: JUST GETTING STARTED, by Justin Bieber. (Harper/HarperCollins, $21.99.) The pop star tells his own story in words and pictures. (Ages 10 and up) 1
3 TILT, by Ellen Hopkins. (Margaret K. McElderry, $18.99.) Three teenagers cling to the remnants of their secure and familiar world even as the ground shifts under their feet. (Ages 14 and up) 1
4 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) 36
5 INSURGENT, by Veronica Roth. (Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins, $17.99.) In this “Divergent” follow-up, a faction war looms. (Ages 14 and up) 20
6 THE DEMIGOD DIARIES, by Rick Riordan. (Hyperion/Disney, $12.99.) Lore on the Heroes of Olympus and Percy Jackson books. (Ages 10 to 14) 5
7 WONDER, by R.J. Palacio. (Knopf, $15.99.) A boy with a facial deformity enters a mainstream school. (Ages 8 to 12) 26
8 MICHAEL VEY: RISE OF THE ELGEN, by Richard Paul Evans. (Mercury Ink/Simon Pulse, $17.99.) A quest to save Michael’s mother. (Ages 12 to 17) 5
9 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) 49
10 EVERY DAY, by David Levithan. (Knopf, $16.99.) A teenager who wakes up in a different body every day finds love. (Ages 14 to 18) 3

Breaking Dawn: Part 2 premiere set for November 12th

Most of you know that we here at Novel Novice got our start originally as a Twilight fan site. So we still have a particular fondness for the series that led to this site’s current inception.

With that in mind, we are thrilled to confirm details about the premiere of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2, the fifth & final movie in the franchise.

Summit Entertainment confirmed the premiere will take place on Monday, November 12th at the Nokia Theater at L.A. Live in Los Angeles, California.

And yes, once again, fans can camp out ahead of the premiere starting November 8th — but don’t book your travel just yet! Exciting NEW details about how camping will take place this year will be announced on October 1st. All I can say is, it sounds like a great plan!

So stay tuned …

For the comments: What scene are you most excited to see in Breaking Dawn – Part 2?