Monthly Archives: November 2012

Holiday Shopping Guide: YA for Adults

Want to get mom or dad, grandma or grandpa, a great YA book for the holidays? Here are our picks for YA books that will most appeal to non-YA readers: that is, adults who think they’re too cool for YA — but just don’t know any better yet!

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfeld

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

The Diviners by Libba Bray

Mister Death’s Blue-Eyed Girls by Mary Downing Hahn

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

The Infects by Sean Beaudoin

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Lexapros & Cons by Aaron Karo

The Edumacation of Jay Baker by Jay Clark

For the comments: What other YA books would you recommend to non-YA readers?

Best of The Blessed by Tonya Hurley

Today, we bid farewell to our November Book of the Month — The Blessed by Tonya Hurley. But first, we want to take a look back at highlights from the past month’s features:

The Blessed Religious Writing Contest

You’ve got until midnight (PT) tonight to get your entries in — hurry! Check out the complete rules and details here.

The Blessed: Beyond the Book

Whether you’re enjoying The Blessed at home or bringing it into the classroom, here are some of our features that expand your reading experience beyond the book:

One-on-One with Tonya Hurley

Having met Tonya in person, I can absolutely tell you how much I adore her. Now get to know her a bit better yourself by checking out our exclusive Q&A right here.

For the comments: What have been your favorite features on The Blessed?

Holiday Shopping Guide: Paranormal & Dystopian

There are SO many paranormal and dystopian YA series out there, and you probably know some of our favorite series already. So for today’s shopping guide, we’d like to suggest some of our new or recent favorites in each genre.


Black City by Elizabeth Richards

The Diviners by Libba Bray

Such Wicked Intent by Kenneth Oppel

The Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

Poison Princess by Kresley Cole

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Team Human by Justine Larbalestier & Sarah Rees Brennan

Of Poseidon by Anna Banks

Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

Balthazar by Claudia Gray

Arcadia Awakens by Kai Meyer


Blood Red Road by Moira Young (And check out the sequel, Rebel Heart!)

Chosen Ones by Tiffany Truitt

Starters by Lissa Price

Legend by Marie Lu

Ashes and Shadows by Ilsa J. Bick

Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky

The Lost Code by Kevin Emerson

Partials by Daniel Wells

Fever by Lauren DeStefano

For the comments: What paranormal and/or dystopian books would you recommend for gift giving?

Holiday Shopping Guide: Contemporary YA

In today’s shopping guide, we’re featuring our favorite contemporary YA novels — perfect for readers who like their books set in reality!

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfeld

Lexapros & Cons by Aaron Karo

The Edumacation of Jay Baker by Jay Clark

Fingerprints of You by Kristen-Paige Madonia

First Comes Love by Katie Kacvinsky

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (Movie Tie-in Edition)

For the comments: What are your favorite contemporary YA books to give as gifts?

Exclusive Video Debut: The Blessed Event

Today we are thrilled to exclusively debut a video from the very exciting launch party for The Blessed. The video features performances by Kara Hayward (Moonrise Kingdom; The Blessed audiobook), Vince Clarke (Erasure, Yaz, Depeche Mode), Gus + Scout (Scout Willis and Gus Wenner), and Stephin Merritt (of The Magnetic Fields).

Thanks to Simon & Schuster for letting us share this great debut!

Holiday Shopping Guide: Best Boxed Sets

If you’re looking to offer up a truly splashy gift this holiday season, may we recommend one of these boxed sets or special editions for the YA lover in your life? These are all available now.

The Twilight Saga: White Collection

Modeled after a set released in the UK last year, this set of The Twilight Saga books are in paperback with gorgeous white covers. I fell in love with these when the UK versions first came out — and am thrilled to see them offered now in the U.S. The set includes Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn, and The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner.

Beautiful Creatures Series Boxed Set

The movie adaptation of the first book in this addictive series comes out in February, so now is the perfect time to introduce a new reader to Beautiful Creatures, or give this gorgeous set to the ultimate fan in your life. Includes all four books in the series in hardback.

John Green Boxed Set

Featuring all four of Green’s best-selling YA solo novels in hardback, and packaged in a nerdfighter-worthy artsy box. The books include: Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, An Abundance of Katherines, and The Fault in Our Stars. Perfect for a Green fan looking to add this limited edition boxed set to their collection — or a great way to spark the interests of a new fan.

Matched Trilogy Boxed Set

Now that Ally Condie’s dystopian series has concluded, get a gorgeous set of all three books in one hardcover boxed set: Matched, Crossed, and Reached.

Divergent and Insurgent Boxed Set

The third and final book in this series won’t come out until late next year, and a movie adaptation is in development. So if there’s someone you know who hasn’t gotten hooked on this dystopian series yet, this is the perfect way to entice them. The first two books are featured in hardcover in this set.

Or pick up the new special edition of Insurgent, featuring a shiny cover, faction tattoos, a poster, and the short story from Four’s perspective (previously available only in e-book format).

Uglies Series Boxed Set

Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series has been a hit amongst YA readers since it came out several years ago. But newer YA readers may not have discovered these masterpieces quite yet. Packaged together in paperback with last year’s newly designed covers, this box set makes a great gift for fans of dystopian lit.

Hush, Hush Saga Boxed Set

Patch and Nora’s story has finally concluded with this year’s release of Finale by Becca Fitzpatrick. Fall in love with these characters all over again, or introduce a new reader to them, with this hardcover boxed set featuring all four books in the series.

The Mysterious Benedict Society Complete Collection

For the voracious middle grade reader in your life! Help them discover the world of The Mysterious Benedict Society in this hardcover boxed set featuring all of the books in this whimsical series. Eager young readers will quickly devour these books.

The Secret Series Complete Collection

Pseudonymous Bosch may have concluded his Secret Series last year, but new middle grade readers can discover his puzzling world in this paperback boxed set featuring all five books.

For the comments: What other boxed sets do you love for gift-giving this holiday season?

Will Sparrow’s Road by Karen Cushman

Official Synopsis:

In his thirteenth year, Will Sparrow, liar and thief, becomes a runaway. On the road, he encounters a series of con artists—a pickpocket, a tooth puller, a pig trainer, a conjurer—and learns that others are more adept than he at lying and thieving. Then he reluctantly joins a traveling troupe of “oddities,” including a dwarf and a cat-faced girl, holding himself apart from the “monsters” and resolving to be on guard against further deceptions. At last Will is forced to understand that appearances are misleading and that  he has been his own worst deceiver. The rowdy world of market fairs in Elizabethan England is the colorful backdrop for Newbery medalist Cushman’s new comic masterpiece.”

Elizabethan England has never been more rough, tough, and scandalous than in thirteen-year-old Will Sparrow’s journey. Liar and thief (by self-appointed trade) Will runs away from an abusive innkeeper and into a life on the streets. After hooking-up with a band of “oddities and prodigies,” who earn their living as part of a traveling fair, Will learns the secrets to surviving on the streets, and is forced to come to terms with his own shadows along the way.

I love what Cushman achieves in this novel; from the very first page she weaves together an unforgettable journey that is not only about one child’s monetary survival, but more importantly, it’s about the survival of his heart. It’s about the aftermath of betrayal and the courage it takes to trust again. It’s about finding and claiming a family of one’s own. It’s about real emotions, real humor, and real people.

I loved the sincerity found among the dirty streets of beggars and thieves. For history lovers and admirers of old England’s past, I highly recommend the journey.

Holiday Shopping Guide: Middle Grade Must-Haves

This week, we’re featuring a variety of shopping guides to help you buy the best books for everyone on your list.

Today, we’ve got the must-have books for your middle grade reader!

The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy

Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You’ve never heard of them, have you? These are the princes who saved Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel, respectively, and yet, thanks to those lousy bards who wrote the tales, you likely know them only as Prince Charming. But all of this is about to change. Rejected by their princesses and cast out of their castles, Liam, Frederic, Duncan, and Gustav stumble upon an evil plot that could endanger each of their kingdoms. Now it’s up to them to triumph over their various shortcomings, take on trolls, bandits, dragons, witches, and other assorted terrors, and become the heroes no one ever thought they could be.

Debut author Christopher Healy takes us on a journey with four imperfect princes and their four improbable princesses, all of whom are trying to become perfect heroes–a fast-paced, funny, and fresh introduction to a world where everything, even our classic fairy tales, is not at all what it seems.

Peter Nimble & His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes is the utterly beguiling tale of a ten-year-old blind orphan who has been schooled in a life of thievery. One fateful afternoon, he steals a box from a mysterious traveling haberdasher—a box that contains three pairs of magical eyes. When he tries the first pair, he is instantly transported to a hidden island where he is presented with a special quest: to travel to the dangerous Vanished Kingdom and rescue a people in need.

Along with his loyal sidekick—a knight who has been turned into an unfortunate combination of horse and cat—and the magic eyes, he embarks on an unforgettable, swashbuckling adventure to discover his true destiny.

Neversink by Barry Wolverton

Along the Arctic Circle lies a small island called Neversink, whose jagged cliffs and ice-gouged rocks are home to a colony of odd-looking seabirds called auks, including one Lockley J. Puffin. With their oceanfront views and plentiful supply of fish, the auks have few concerns–few, save for Lockley’s two best friends, Egbert and Ruby, a know-it-all walrus and a sharp-tongued hummingbird.

But all of this is about to change. Rozbell, the newly crowned king of the Owl Parliament, is dealing with a famine on the mainland of Tytonia–and he has long had his scheming eyes on the small colony to the north. Now Neversink’s independence hangs in the balance. An insurgence of owls will inevitably destroy life as the auks know it–unless Lockley can do something about it.

Barry Wolverton’s debut is an epic tale of some very un-epic birds, a fast-paced and funny story of survival, friendship, and fish.

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead

When seventh grader Georges (the S is silent) moves into a Brooklyn apartment building, he meets Safer, a twelve-year-old coffee-drinking loner and self-appointed spy. Georges becomes Safer’s first spy recruit. His assignment? Tracking the mysterious Mr. X, who lives in the apartment upstairs. But as Safer becomes more demanding, Georges starts to wonder: how far is too far to go for your only friend?

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

Called “A new Narnia for the tween set” by the New York Times and perfect for fans of the His Dark Materials series, The Emerald Atlas brims with humor and action as it charts Kate, Michael, and Emma’s extraordinary adventures through an unforgettable, enchanted world.

These three siblings have been in one orphanage after another for the last ten years, passed along like lost baggage.

Yet these unwanted children are more remarkable than they could possibly imagine. Ripped from their parents as babies, they are being protected from a horrible evil of devastating power, an evil they know nothing about.

Until now.

Before long, Kate, Michael, and Emma are on a journey through time to dangerous and secret corners of the world…a journey of allies and enemies, of magic and mayhem.  And—if an ancient prophesy is correct—what they do can change history, and it is up to them to set things right

Pickle by Kim Baker

Junior Library Guild Selection

This is the story of THE LEAGUE OF PICKLE MAKERS.

Ben: who began it all by sneaking in one night and filling homeroom with ball-pit balls.

Frank: who figured out that an official club, say a pickle making club, could receive funding from the PTA.

Oliver: who once convinced half of the class that his real parents had found him and he was going to live in a submarine.

Bean: who wasn’t exactly invited, but her parents own a costume shop, which comes in handy if you want to dress up like a giant squirrel and try to scare people at the zoo.

TOGETHER, they are an unstoppable prank-pulling force, and Fountain Point Middle School will never be the same.

The Familiars by Adam Jay Epstein & Andrew Jacobson

Is the kingdom’s fate in the hands of an orphan cat?

Running fast to save his life, Aldwyn ducks into an unusual pet store. Moments later Jack, a young wizard in training, comes in to choose a magical animal to be his familiar. Aldwyn’s always been clever. But magical? Jack thinks so and Aldwyn is happy to play along.

He just has to convince the other familiars the know-it-all blue jay Skylar and the friendly tree frog Gilbert that he’s the powerful cat he claims to be.

Then the unthinkable happens. Jack and two other young wizards are captured by the evil queen of Vastia.

On a thrilling quest to save their loyals, the familiars face dangerous foes, unearth a shocking centuries-old secret, and discover a destiny that will change Vastia forever. Their magical adventure an irresistible blend of real heart, edge-of-your-seat action, and laugh-out-loud humor is an unforgettable celebration of fantasy and friendship.

Will Sparrow’s Road by Karen Cushman

In his thirteenth year, Will Sparrow, liar and thief, becomes a runaway. On the road, he encounters a series of con artists—a pickpocket, a tooth puller, a pig trainer, a conjurer—and learns that others are more adept than he at lying and thieving. Then he reluctantly joins a traveling troupe of “oddities,” including a dwarf and a cat-faced girl, holding himself apart from the “monsters” and resolving to be on guard against further deceptions. At last Will is forced to understand that appearances are misleading and that  he has been his own worst deceiver. The rowdy world of market fairs in Elizabethan England is the colorful backdrop for Newbery medalist Cushman’s new comic masterpiece.

Vanishing Acts by Phillip Margolin & Ami Margolin Rome

From tracking down her best friend, who’s nowhere to be found, to secretly helping her attorney father solve a missing-person case, Madison Kincaid is a busy seventh-grade sleuth. Teaming up with new classmate Jake, she hits the sidewalks of Portland, Oregon, determined to find out what’s behind two mysterious vanishing acts.

In his first book for young readers, “New York Times” bestselling author Phillip Margolin and his daughter, Ami Margolin Rome, deliver a fast-paced, compelling mystery that’s perfect for reluctant readers and sure to appeal to fans of “Masterpiece,” “The Calder Game,” and “Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer.”

For the comments: What other middle grade books would you recommend?

Beyond The Blessed: Tonya Hurley’s ghostgirl series

Before she wrote The Blessed, the first book in a new trilogy, author Tonya Hurley hit the best-sellers list with her ghostgirlseries. But if you’ve never delved into these fantastic books, now is the time! That’s why we’re spending today introducing you to the series.


Now I lay me down to sleep,

I pray the Lord my soul to keep.

And if I should die before I awake,

I pray the popular attend my wake.

Charlotte Usher feels practically invisible at school, and then one day she really is invisible. Even worse: she’s dead. And all because she choked on a gummy bear. But being dead doesn’t stop Charlotte from wanting to be popular; it just makes her more creative about achieving her goal.

If you thought high school was a matter of life or death, wait till you see just how true that is. In this satirical, yet heartfelt novel, Hurley explores the invisibility we all feel at some times and the lengths we’ll go to be seen.


Heaven couldn’t be a phone bank, could it?

Charlotte Usher discovers that the afterlife isn’t quite what she pictured when she’s forced to intern at a hotline for troubled teens. Before she can officially cross over, she’ll have to be a source of guidance for one such teen. The problem is she doesn’t have much advice to offer since dying hasn’t exactly boosted her confidence level.

But when Hawthorne High’s leading, love-to-hate cheerleader Petula and her gothic little sis’ Scarlet find themselves suddenly resting-in-peace in comas, Charlotte’s opportunity to save them will prove to be the risk of a lifetime-for all of them.


Romance is dead.

Before she can rest in peace, Charlotte Usher must return to the tragic site of her death: high school. She still has one last assignment to complete, but no one explained what happens if you fall in love with your class project. Charlotte would die (again) for love. But when her ticket to the afterlife means having to face the dreaded, all-too-familiar pains of being invisible, it may be too much for her to withstand.

Plus, check out the e-novellas, ghostgirl: Xmas SpiritAND the newly-released, ghostgirl Xmas Spirit: It’s a Wonderful Life

For the comments: Are you a fan of the ghostgirl series? Tell us what you love about it!

Contest: Celebrate the movie adaptation of Anna Karenina

Now playing in select cities, and coming to theaters everywhere in November 30th, is the big screen adaptation of the classic novel, Anna Karenina.And to celebrate the movie’s release, we have an exciting contest for you!

The Contest

Just fill out the Novel Novice + Anna Karenina Contest Entry Form, and tell us your favorite classic novel, for your chance to win!

The Prizes:

Courtesy of Focus Features, two (2) winners will receive:

  • Copy of the book (movie tie-in edition)
  • Official Soundtrack
  • Votivo Candle with Bookmark

The Rules:

  • U.S. only
  • One entry per person
  • Use the entry form

The Deadline:

All entries are due by midnight (PT) on Friday, November 30th

About Anna Karenina:

Starring: Keira Knightley, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Jude Law, Matthew Macfadyen, Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, Kelly Macdonald, Ruth Wilson, Olivia Williams, and Emily Watson

Directed By: Joe Wright (“Pride & Prejudice”, “Atonement”)

Written By: Tom Stoppard (“Shakespeare in Love”)

Anna Karenina is acclaimed director Joe Wright’s bold, theatrical new vision of the epic story of love, stirringly adapted from Leo Tolstoy’s great novel by Academy Award winner Tom Stoppard (Shakespeare in Love). The film marks the third collaboration of the director with Academy Award-nominated actress Keira Knightley and Academy Award-nominated producers Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, and Paul Webster, following their award-winning box office successes Pride & Prejudice and Atonement.

Link Up!