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1. Congrats to Antony John!

Rejection. Redemption. Romance.

Now that the weather is nice and the sun is shining, I for one am itching to take a road trip. And if you are too, why not start with a dazzling new read by one of teen lit’s best writers?

Antony John.

Antony’s last book, FIVE FLAVORS OF DUMB, was the recipient of brilliant reviews, lavish praise from authors and readers alike, and the prestigious Schneider Award for Teens.

NowThou Shalt Not Road Trip Antony brings us a fantastic new story: THOU SHALT NOT ROAD TRIP!

When sixteen-year-old Luke’s book, Hallelujah, becomes a national bestseller, his publishing house sends him on a cross-country book tour with his older brother, Matt, as chauffeur. But when irresponsible Matt offers to drive Luke’s ex–soul mate, Fran, across the country too, things get a little crazy. On the trip, Luke must loosen up, discover what it truly means to have faith, and do what it takes to get the girl he loves.

Told with Antony John’s signature wit and authenticity, and featuring smart, singular characters who jump off the page and into your heart, this story is a spiritual awakening and rockin’ road trip in one.

To learn more about Antony, visit him on the web at www.antonyjohn.net

Now start reading!

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2. Books, Books, and more Books

This winter has been unusually warm here in New York—no doubt that is because some of our favorite Upstart Crows have been heating up the bookshelves with their latest releases!

Yvonne Woon has followed up her debut novel, Dead Beautiful, with a haunting sequel called Life Eternal, continuing the epic journey of star-crossed lovers Dante and Renée.

Kirkus raves for Life Eternal, saying that “Renée’s story is romantic, suspenseful and far from over. A solid read, this one will leave readers wanting more.”

And if you haven’t read Dead Beautiful (which Publisher’s Weekly said has a “Harry Potter start and a Twilight finish”), what are you waiting for? It’s out now in paperback!

Learn more about Yvonne and her fabulous writing at: www.yvonnewoon.com

***

Have you ever wanted to go sleuthing?

Suzanna Show did in her first adventure, The Midnight Tunnel (now out in paperback!) and she’s at it again in The Mastermind Plot.

Kirkus says, “The suspenseful plot unfolds from Zanna’s first-person perspective, punctuated by her pithy observations. Fans of Suzanna Snow’s first mystery will cheer her latest adventure” and School Library Journal tells you to “add Zanna Snow to [your] list of quirky, bright, and determined female detectives.”

Angie brings the city of Boston to life with intriguing characters and a suspenseful mystery perfect for any middle grade reader. Will Zanna solve the case of the warehouse fires while uncovering secrets about her family’s past? You’ll have to buy a copy of The Mastermind Plot to find out!

To learn more about Suzanna Snow and Angie Frazier, visit www.angiefrazier.com

***

The saying “March comes in like a lion, out like a lamb” takes on a whole new meaning with this next release. And by lion we mean werewolf, of course!

If you’re anything like us, you’re practically salivating to get your hands on a copy of The Savage Grace, the conclusion to Bree Despain’s blockbuster Dark Divine trilogy. Action, suspense, and a heartbreaking romance are all on line—will Grace and Daniel make it, or not?

Translated into over fifteen languages, and optioned for the big screen, you won’t want to miss The Savage Grace, which is available on March 13th.

Visit Bree for more information at www.breedespain.com

***

March 13th also brings us the publication of Josh Berk’s highly anticipated GUY LANGMAN: CRIME SCENE PROCRASTINATOR.

Josh’s debut, THE DARK DAYS OF HAMBURGER HALPIN, received multiple starred reviews, awards, and landed on more than a few “Best of 2010” lists.

This new novel follows Guy Langman as he is unwittingly drawn into a murder investigation as part of the Forens

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3. Say Hello to Cole Gibsen’s KATANA

Katana final CoverI’m thrilled today to announce the publication of KATANA, a sexy, fun, and engrossing story by my client Cole Gibsen. KATANA, published by Flux books, tells the story of Rileigh Martin, a skater girl who suddenly finds herself with the fighting abilities of an ancient Japanese samurai.

From the publisher: “Rileigh Martin wants to believe that adrenaline gave her the strength to fend off three muggers in the mall parking lot. But adrenaline doesn’t explain the voice in her head giving her battle tips and warnings.

While worrying that she’s going crazy (always a reputation ruiner), Rileigh gets a visit from Kim, a handsome martial arts instructor, who tells Rileigh she’s harboring the spirit of a five-hundred-year-old samurai warrior.

Relentlessly attacked by ninjas, Rileigh has no choice but to master the katana–a deadly Japanese sword that’s also the key to her past. As the spirit grows stronger and her feelings for Kim intensify, Rileigh is torn between continuing as the girl she’s always been and embracing the warrior inside her.”

Antony John, author of the 2011 Schneider Family Book Award for his novel Five Flavors of Dumb, says “Prepare yourself for a smart, sassy heroine and seriously swoony romance…with a little butt-kicking thrown in for good measure. A cracking debut.”

School Library Journal says, “This action-packed novel has a unique and compelling plot…Fans of Carrie Asai’s “Samurai Girl” series (S & S) will be particularly interested, but even readers who dislike supernatural story lines will enjoy this tale of modern samurais.”

I originally pitched KATANA as a mix of Kill Bill and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and wrote about it some time ago in my post on pitching projects in 25 words or less. KATANA is the very definition of a high concept, commercial project, and I think teen readers everywhere will love it! If you’re in the mood for a sexy tale with plenty of action, find KATANA online or at your local bookstore!

  • For more information about Cole Gibsen and the book, head to: http://www.colegibsen.com/ or follow her on Twitter at @ColeGibsen
  • To read a great interview with Cole, head to: http://carlybennett.blogspot.com/2012/03/interview-cole-gibsen-katana.html
  • For an interview with me about what made me sign KATANA, head to LS Murphy’s blog: http://lsmurphy.com/2012/03/08/5-questions-with-chris-richman/

What are you doing still reading this blog? Go out and buy the book already!

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4. Shucked: Life on a New England Oyster Farm by Erin Byers Murray

shucked-cover-imageDo you love oysters? Do you love cooking? Then you’ll love the fantastic new memoir from Upstart Crow client Erin Byers Murray!

SHUCKED: LIFE ON A NEW ENGLAND OYSTER FARM (St. Martin’s Press) is now available from your favorite book retailers. Murray chronicles her experience with the crew at Island Creek Oysters, where she learned the ins and outs of farming, and follows her food in an unforgettable journey from sea to table.

Praise for SHUCKED:

“Murray’s own love of food and food writing informs the narrative, and she skillfully dramatizes the scenes of summertime sowing and depicts her many colorful co-workers. Murray eschews poetic waxing on her subject and focuses closely on the action and the hard, hard work of …” –Publishers Weekly

“Part of the book’s charm is following Murray through the process of becoming aware of her surroundings in working directly with an edible product.  An entertaining and informative firsthand experience of the locavore movement.” –Library Journal

“While most books about oysters tell people what they want to hear, Shucked tells it like it is: the frigid winter days on the water with hands like popsicles, the backbreaking work, the anxiety of nurturing thousands of dollars’ worth of oyster seed, the hard-partying nights. Erin Byers Murray captures the seasonal rhythms of the New England coast and the romance of one exceptional company’s efforts to coax great food from the sea. You’ll never take an oyster for granted again.” –Rowan Jacobsen, bestselling author of The Geography of Oysters

Pick up your copy today!

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5. The Jack Blank Adventure Continues with The Secret War!

Secret WarI often field questions about how to handle writing and pitching a series. Do you write all the books at once? (No) Should you pitch the entire series to an agent or editor? (Probably not) Should things in book fourteen be set in stone? (Absolutely not)

If you’re looking for a great example of how to plot a successful series, be sure to check out Matt Myklusch’s Jack Blank Adventures; Book I, The Accidental Hero, came out in paperback this April, and Book II, The Secret War, is in stores now.

Book II begins one year after the conclusion of The Accidental Hero. After helping save the Imagine Nation and proving himself a hero, Jack is sidekicking with big league super heroes and getting a taste of what it takes to be a hero in the real world.

Even though Jack is being hailed as a superstar, he’s still hiding dark secrets from his best friends…secrets that could prove disastrous to both The Imagine Nation and the world at large. And Jack’s old enemy Jonas Smart will do whatever it takes to uncover Jack’s secrets and prove him a villain once and for all.

Jack will need to learn to trust his friends, balance his growing powers, and find a way to head off an invasion if he wants to win The Secret War.

Congratulations, Matt! And readers, be sure to look for the exciting conclusion in next year’s The End of Infinity!


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6. Are You A Mischief Maker?

Look no further.

July brought the debut of Laura Goode’s SISTER MISCHIEF, a provocative look at coming-of-age, first love, religion, and music.

Listen up: You’re about to get rocked by the fiercest, baddest all-girl hip-hop crew in the Twin Cities – or at least in the wealthy, white, Bible-thumping suburb of Holyhill, Minnesota. Our heroine, Esme Rockett (aka MC Ferocious) is a Jewish lesbian lyricist. In her crew, Esme’s got her BFFs Marcy (aka DJ SheStorm, the butchest straight girl in town) and Tess (aka The ConTessa, the pretty, popular powerhouse of a vocalist). But Esme’s feelings for her co-MC, Rowie (MC Rohini), a beautiful, brilliant, beguiling desi chick, are bound to get complicated. And before they know it, the queer hip-hop revolution Esme and her girls have exploded in Holyhill is on the line. Exciting new talent Laura Goode lays down a snappy, provocative, and heartfelt novel about discovering the rhythm of your own truth.

SISTER MISCHIEF may be outrageous, but it’s absolutely full of heart, and Laura has one of the freshest voices on the shelves today. The book has been garnering some lavish praise, including a starred review from Booklist which said, “This debut is full of big ideas, big heart, and big poetry, with a positive, activist message.”

So what are you waiting for—go get your copy!

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7. Jacqueline West’s BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE, VOL II: SPELLBOUND

The long wait is finally over, because today’s the day you can get your hands on Jacqueline West’s SPELLBOUND, the sequel to the critically acclaimed, New York Times Bestselling novel THE SHADOWS. SPELLBOUND continues Olive’s adventures into Elsewhere, where she’ll meet new friends, face familiar foes, and be sucked deeper into the mystery of her house’s previous owners.

Here’s a terrific video featuring fun facts about the house that inspired the series, some details about SPELLBOUND, and the always-lovely Jacqueline West speaking about her story.

If you missed out on the first book of the series, don’t fret! THE SHADOWS was released in paperback just last month! It’s not too late to read the book Publisher’s Weekly praised for it’s “wicked sense of humor,” Time For Kids rated 9.5 out of 10, and The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books called “A delightful concoction of quirky humor blended with a rumbling ominous undertone.”

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8. We’ve Gotta Crow!

Despite the immense loss everyone still feels here at Upstart Crow about Bridget Zinn, we would nonetheless like to take a moment to shine a bit of sweet light on the wonderful crows who’ve brightened readers’ month of June with their new releases. It has been a busy, busy month!

eternal seaThe first of June brought us The Eternal Sea from Angie Frazier, the sequel to her rollicking, romantic debut, Everlasting.

The Eternal Sea follows star-crossed lovers Oscar and Camille through a dangerous and paranormal adventure to find true love and happiness. It is thrilling, passionate, and incredibly well done. Fans of historical novels, romances, and simply “darn good” books should pick it up!

And if you haven’t read Everlasting… what are you waiting for?

~

Halpinpb

Josh Berk’s critically acclaimed (and super funny) The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin may have a fresh new look in paperback—but the jokes and suspense are deadly funny just the same.

Will Halpin may be deaf and overweight, but what’s a couple of handicaps matter when there’s a murder to be solved?

Read the book that Kirkus and SLJ gave starred reviews to, and Amazon.com, Kirkus, and VOYA named one of their “Best Books” for 2010.

~

BOE1pb

And the middle of June welcomed Olive—the protagonist of Jacqueline West’s New York Times bestselling debut, The Shadows—into paperback.

This award-winner is the recipient of multiple starred reviews and nominations. If you missed Olive in hardcover, get caught up on this heartwarming, spooky, and very funny series  … with luck, you’ll be done with it just in time for Spellbound, the second entry, which hits shelves in July.

~


AccyHeropb

Another book with a hot new look for summer is Matt Myklusch’s THE ACCIDENTAL HERO.

Formerly known as Jack Blank and The Imagine Nation, this riveting middle grade adventure is perfect for Percy Jackson fans, but stands on its own as the start of a great new series. The San Francisco Book Review called Jack “a mythical hero.&rdquo

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9. Bridget Zinn

One of the Upstart Crow fold passed away early yesterday morning, and we here are still reeling and red-eyed rom the news. Our love and support go out to her husband, Barrett, and to Bridget’s family and friends, who are legion.

As one should have expected about someone dubbed the World’s Fastest Librarian, Bridget Zinn departed the scene earlier and faster than anyone could have ever imagined. And the world is a poorer, dimmer, duller place for her absence. We will miss her. I will miss her.

[Below, a video'd thank you she'd made after an auction to raise money for her fight against cancer. It is how I always see her in my mind's eye.]

At times like these, one can’t help but realize how shabbily inadequate words are when it comes to grief. Sad just doesn’t cut it. No how no way. Doesn’t come anywhere near to capturing the weighty emptiness we feel. And to amp things up with adverbs—well, that sort of lousy writing she wouldn’t stand for.

When I think of Bridget, who was a friend as well as a client, I think of her first novel, Poison. It is a bright, funny, sweet wonder of a book, and I’d printed out the manuscript and taken it with me home from the office because I just couldn’t stop reading. I startled my fellow subway passengers by barking out laughter every few minutes. You’ll get to read it one of these days—we later sold it at auction to Hyperion. The story is a fantasy about a girl fugitive who fancies herself tough-as-nails until she finds love, humility, and more through an unexpected partnership with a wee enchanted piglet named Rosie.

Like Bridget, her novel is warm, breezily witty, full of a large-hearted love for her characters and the world. And oh god, but she and it are funny. A giddy joy saturates every page of the manuscript—a joy, I realized, that came from Bridget herself.

When she was diagnosed with cancer, Bridget handled it with a courage that I found hard to fathom. How could she be so happy? So carefree? So effortlessly sweet and funny? She had an optimism about her, I learned, because that’s who she was. Even after the diagnosis, inspiration to us all, she was for the most part happy. She and her longtime boyfriend, Barrett, got married, and they bought their dream house in Portland, the city they loved. (And where, when I’d visit, they’d take me to beautiful spots I’d have never found otherwise.) She’d sold her book and was hard at work on the sequel, as well as another novel about one of her favorite things in the world: Shoes. It’s a cliche, but Bridget was so full of zest and life that she made the cancer almost seem beside the point.

Which is why yesterday’s news was so devastating, so unexpected, so unjust. There was little enough in the world already to made it a worthwhile place; now there’s a whole lot less.

We have all been so fortunate to have Br

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10. Everlasting

When I first read Angie Frazier’s debut, Everlasting, I knew I had something special in my hands. Together, we worked diligently to revise and shape the manuscript prior to submission. To this day, I am still struck by what a phenomenal writer Angie is, and how she was able to transform an already fantastic manuscript to an even more glorious one. And this was all before she had guidance from her phenomenal editor at Scholastic!

Books are hard work. Everlasting is a prime example of a novel’s journey, from its initial draft to sale to finally hitting the shelves. It has been a long wait, but I could not be more thrilled that this novel is now available for readers to fall in love with as much as I have.

From the back copy:

Sailing aboard her father’s ship is all seventeen-year-old Camille Rowen has ever wanted. But as a lady in 1855 San Francisco, her future is set: marry a man she doesn’t love in order to preserve her social standing.

On her last voyage before the wedding, Camille learns the mother she has always believed dead is in fact alive and in Australia. When their Sydney-bound ship goes down in a gale, and her father dies, Camille sets out to find her mother and a map in her possession—a map believed to lead to a stone that once belonged to the legendary civilization of the immortals.

The stone can do exactly what Camille wants most: bring someone back from the dead. Unfortunately, her father’s adversary is also on the hunt for the stone, and she must race him to it. The only person Camille can depend on is Oscar—a handsome young sailor and her father’s first mate—who is in love with Camille and whom she is inexplicably drawn to despite his low social standing and her pending wedding vows.

With an Australian card shark acting as their guide, Camille eludes murderous bushrangers, traverses dangerous highlands, evades a curse placed on the stone, and unravels the mystery behind her mother’s disappearance sixteen years earlier. But when another death shakes her conviction to resurrect her father, Camille must choose what—and who—matters most.

Heartfelt congratulations to Angie from everyone at Upstart Crow. Visit her at www.angelafrazier.com and get swept up in the action-packed and über romantic adventure that is Everlasting!

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11. Starred Review for Jacqueline West’s THE SHADOWS

Elsewhere_FINALIf you’ve seen me speak at a conference, read my online interviews, or follow me on Twitter, you’ve likely heard me mention Jacqueline West’s THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE VOL I: THE SHADOWS.

The truth is, I love this book. Jacqueline’s story was the first project I ever signed as an agent, and I’ve been anxiously waiting two long years for it to come out so that everyone else could see what made me fall so hard in love with this story, these characters, and this remarkable writer.

I’m thrilled to share that the fine folks at Publisher’s Weekly loved the project enough to give it a starred review. They write:

The Shadows
Jacqueline West, illus. by Poly Bernatene, Dial, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8037-3440-1
Poet West’s debut novel is a quirky and clever beginning to the Books of Elsewhere series. The Dunwoodys, “a pair of more than slightly dippy mathematicians,” and their 11-year-old daughter, Olive, have just moved into an old Victorian house. Olive has learned to be independent, given her parents’ aloofness (”Her persistently lackluster grades in math had led her parents to believe that she was some kind of genetic aberration”). She explores the house’s eccentricities and discovers that, by donning a pair of spectacles, she can enter the house’s many unsettling paintings. Inside one, she encounters nine-year-old Morton, who brings to her attention the secrets that the house and its late owner are keeping. With the help of three talking house cats, Olive works to patch together clues to save the painting-dwellers from their dark fate. The house is as much a character as are Olive, Morton, and her family, and a wicked sense of humor tempers the book’s creepiness. A suspenseful plot and insight into childhood loneliness–handily amplified by Bernatene’s moody and dramatically lit b&w illustrations–will have readers anxiously awaiting the next book.

Mark you calendars for June 15th, folks, to get your hands on this wonderful book!

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12. #MyDeathday

DDay_LowResTo help count down to the release of Shaun Hutchinson’s The Deathday Letter, today we’re running a little contest on here, Facebook, and Twitter.

The Deathday Letter takes place in a world much like our own: the one difference? In this world, you receive a letter the day before you kick the bucket letting you know your croakage is happening within 24 hours whether you like it or not. When teenage Oliver receives his deathday letter, he embarks on an epic and hilarious last day full of risks, best friends, and pudding. Yep. Pudding. As the clock ticks down and Oliver’s staring the reaper in his surprisingly pretty blue eyes, he realizes it’s his last chance to make his mark, however small, on the people around him.

Sounds awesome, right? It is! So here’s the question I pose to you: What would your teenage self have done with 24 hours left to live? Stood up to the bully? Finally tried foie gras? 24-hour laser tag session?

Leave you answer in a comment (please limit to one sentence or less) or tweet your answer using the #MyDeathday tag. Everyone who participates will have their names entered to win a signed copy of The Deathday Letter.

Be sure to check out Shaun’s blog for other chances to win copies, news about the book, and a special surprise video coming soon of Shaun doing something crazy as his #MyDeathday moment. And if you want to buy the book, it hits stores June 15th!

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13. Double Release Day!

Today I’m doubly excited to announce the release of not only two fantastic projects from Upstart Crow Literary, but also the first two books I personally sold long, long ago.

No longer do I have to tell editors, conference attendees, friends, and family that the books I’ve sold will come out “soon.” Now when someone asks what I do and I try to explain my job, I’ll have actual books I can direct them toward. So, as you can probably imagine, I’m super excited for two very talented authors.

Elsewhere_FINAL First up is Jacqueline West’s amazing BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE, VOL I: THE SHADOWS, out today with Dial Books for Young Readers. Jacqueline was the first client I ever signed, and her debut surely doesn’t feel like one. Before writing for children, Jacqueline’s poetry and short fiction were published widely in literary journals. I could tell the first time I read sample pages in her initial query that Jacqueline was a seriously talented writer, and I’m ecstatic that the public will soon get to read her fantastic work themselves!

To learn more about the book, which is the first in a new series, head to the official website, check out Jacqueline’s author profile on the Penguin website or read what Publisher’s Weekly had to say about the project in their starred review.

DDay_LowResIf you follow me on Twitter, you’ve likely heard me raving about Shaun David Hutchinson’s THE DEATHDAY LETTER, which also comes out today from Simon Pulse. THE DEATHDAY LETTER, or DDL, as Shaun and I have been referring to it for nearly two years, is a hilarious, poignant story unlike anything many readers have experienced before. This was another story that grabbed me right from the query because the concept of a boy who receives a letter informing him he has 24 hours to live was so, well, whacked out and awesome.

Read more about Shaun on his blog, check out his page on the Simon and Schuster website, and go out and grab yourself a copy of this hilarious book!

I couldn’t be more excited for these amazing books. They represent two different aspects of my taste–in THE SHADOWS, a classic middle grade that could have been published 50 years ago and not felt much different, and in THE DEATHDAY LETTER a hilarious high-concept story that will delight teen readers.

Congratulations to both Shaun and Jacqueline, and I hope for much future success down the road!

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14. Crash Test Love

Although I typically blog about my authors’ books, today I am actually writing about my own.

On June 8th, my second novel for teens, Crash Test Love, was released. I truly believe that having the firsthand experience of publishing a novel—finishing that elusive first draft, going through rounds of revision with a skilled editor, worrying about the cover, reviews, and all that jazz—only makes me a more insightful and skilled agent, and I am incredibly proud to share this novel with all of you.

I am happy to invite any Upstart Crow blog readers who live on Long Island to a reading I will be doing at the Barnes and Noble in Carle Place tonight at 7pm.

More details here: http://store-locator.barnesandnoble.com/event/67004

Enjoy!

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15. Recapping the Summer of 2010

Photo from trekearth.com

Photo from trekearth.com

Well hello there, friends. Long time no blog. I hope everyone had a wonderful end of the summer and you’re all ready for back-to-school for the parents, back-to-work for the teachers, or back-to-working-every-week if you’re like the rest of us working stiffs.

And yes, I include myself as someone who worked. “But what of your ‘break?’” you ask. Well, it wasn’t really a break. It was a chance to try (and fail) to catch up on the queries in my inbox (I’m almost through June as of this posting…I know, I’d hoped to do better), spend some time relaxing like in the scene pictured right (you can’t see me in the picture–I’m in the water on the other side of the boat about to be struck in the head by the oar), and read, read, read (Who read MOCKINGJAY? Omg text me K?). There may have been a mojito and some golf and some softball mixed in, but trust me, not much.

So what else happened this summer? I was lucky enough to see my client Jacqueline West’s THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE: THE SHADOWS hit the New York Times Bestseller List. It’s a terrific achievement for anyone, but especially a debut writer. THE SHADOWS also garnered two starred reviews, the first of which I wrote about here, and the second which just came from The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, who predict “this will be a hit with young fantasists ready for a measured helping of menace.” If all this isn’t enough to get you to check out the book, then I don’t know what will!

The summer also kicked off with the release of Shaun David Hutchinson’s THE DEATHDAY LETTER, an occasion Shaun celebrated by jumping out of a freaking plane. While he was up there watching the ground come up to meet him, VOYA was writing that main character “Ollie’s unabashed self-acceptance of his foibles makes him both a hilarious and a heartbreaking character,” and Booklist said “the reader is pulled along in Ollie’s grip, wrestling with the big questions of life (and afterlife) at a punishing pace…This first novel will appeal to male readers who care more about sex than philosophy.” I think they served donuts on the ground, too, which is pretty cool.

At the end of the summer came Matt Myklusch’s JACK BLANK AND THE IMAGINE NATION. What did the critics think? School Library Journal said JACK BLANK had “just the right amount of plasma blasts, fusion cannons, and major explosions” and that the “especially careful plotting that leads to an exciting and thought-provoking conclusion.” Publishers Weekly called it an “ambitious, no-holds-barred adventure” and that “the exuberance and anything-goes whimsy of this story–enhanced by a light, comic book sensibility along with questions it raises about fate, corpo

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16. More Good News for THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE

Shadows IllustrationsYes, yes—I already mentioned that Jacqueline West’s THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE: THE SHADOWS garnered a second starred review in this post yesterday, but I then realized there were a few other pieces of ELSEWHERE news I wanted to share. One thing led to another and before I knew it, there was too much information to shoehorn into the previous post. So here we are, with a second post chock full of great Jacqueline West-related info!

First—and well worth repeating—is how thrilled all of us were to see THE SHADOWS hit the New York Times Bestseller list. We then received more great news when we learned the fine folks at Penguin were interested in extending the series. Now there will be three additional installments after next summer’s SPELLBOUND, the second in the series, bringing the total number of books in the series to five. Five times the books for five times the goodness!

But wait, there’s more!

In relatively minor but still very cool news, there’s the completely super dope website for THE SHADOWS, where you can solve puzzles, hear an audio excerpt, and wander around the scary McMartin household. And with the music, it’s seriously a little creepy. Not pee-your-paints creepy, but definitely make-sure-there’s-a-light-on creepy. Check it out!

German OliveAnd for all of you Germans out there wondering to yourself, “When can I enjoy the wonder that is THE SHADOWS?” or, perhaps more accurately, “Wo ist das pie ich am Dienstag verloren?” fear not! The long wait for the arrival of OLIVE UND DAS HAUS DER SCHATTEN is finally over! Check out the crazy old-school-yet-weirdly-awesome cover you guys have! One day I’ll post the covers from all the different countries that will be enjoying Olive’s adventures so we can compare and contrast, but for now, Genießen Sie diesen Hut von Würsten, dass ich für dich gemacht hat!

Finally, below you can read the complete second starred review for THE SHADOWS from The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. They wrote:

The atmospheric old house is a new home for eleven-year-old Olive, and though she finds it fascinating, with its colorful contents that include a collection of arresting paintings, she also finds it creepy. Her instincts prove to be accurate: the vivid paintings are actually portals into other realms, accessible to her if she’s wearing the spectacles found in the house. Advised, albeit cryptically, by Horatio, a talking cat secretly still resident in the house, Olive dabbles in exploration of those realms, but she also unwittingly comes ever closer to enabling the evil trapped inside the house to break free. West creates a delightful concoction of quirky humor blended with a rumbling ominous undertone (“This house belongs to someone else,” Hor

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17. “The Dark Divine” Goes Hollywood!

Being a writer has a lot to do with being a dreamer.

Every writer dreams about writing a novel–the characters, the plot, the emotions that will go into telling your story. The next step, of course, is to dream about getting that novel published. To have your writing reach others. And sometimes, the dream extends beyond that.

We are ecstatic here at Upstart Crow with congratulations to our very own Bree Despain, whose DARK DIVINE trilogy has been optioned by 1019 Entertainment.

You can read the Variety article here: http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118024579.html?categoryid=2431&cs=1

And don’t forget about THE LOST SAINT, which releases on December 28th, 2010. Pre-order now!

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18. A Star is Born

51ux54Laq4LSpecial congratulations are in order to Antony John, whose upcoming teen novel Five Flavors of Dumb just received its first review—a starred one from Kirkus!

Typically, we’d wait until the book appears in stores to ballyhoo a starred review, but we’re just so jazzed about this novel that we thought we’d share the good word early. Here’s what the smart folks over at Kirkus have to say:

Piper—gutsy, savvy and, yes, deaf—has signed her way into a gig that promises a big, necessary payoff: manager of Dumb, Seattle’s Battle of the Bands winners. Seething with resentment and feelings of inadequacy after her parents raid her college account to pay for her baby sister’s cochlear implants, Piper is determined to shape both Dumb’s future and her own. Piper’s struggles and growth as a manager—she is initially hampered by lack of both experience with intra-band politics and knowledge about music—enjoy realistic treatment, as do her nuanced relationships with family members and the super-talented and adorable Ed Chen. As Piper learns about Seattle’s rock heroes (Cobain and Hendrix), she sees both the band Dumb could be if they would choose rocking over fighting and the person she will become once she truly owns her deafness. Making Piper the manager of a rock band never feels like a cheap trick (pardon the pun) because Piper is not A Great Deaf Character but a great character who is deaf. Complex characterizations, authentic dialogue and realistic ups-and-downs give this title chart-topping potential.

Visit Antony and learn more about how to be DUMB @ antonyjohn.net

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19. Two New Releases!

Even though 2011 is upon us, two Upstart Crows made huge splashes in December with their sophomore novels for teens.

Sarah Ockler tackles romance, secrets, betrayal and family drama in her novel FIXING DELILAH, a follow-up to her debut novel TWENTY BOY SUMMER.

FIXING DELILAH was recently an Amazon.com Kindle bestseller, and has been receiving a slew of rave reviews.

Fixing Delilah

A starred review from VOYA claims that Delilah is “one of the more realistic adolescent girls in contemporary fiction. She tells her own story in a lyrical and authentic voice; the thoughtful reader will get lost in her anguish, her triumphs, and her eventual resolution.”

Booklist says: Ockler’s follow-up to 20 Boy Summer (2009) is another perfect fit for those seeking expressive writing, emotional depth, and lush, cinematic romance, cementing her comfortably next to similar teen favorites like Deb Caletti, Carolyn Mackler, and Sarah Dessen.”

Go pick up your copy today!

Meanwhile, Bree Despain offers up the second entry in her DARK DIVINE trilogy, delving into the star-crossed love of Grace and Daniel in THE LOST SAINT.

With hot romance, thrilling action scenes, and an incredibly unique take on the werewolf mythology—this series has it all. It is totally un-put-downable and readers have simply been eating these books up!

Kirkus says: “Despain’s fans will be pleased by the introduction of a flannel-clad hottie who is more than ready to comfort Grace during Daniel’s mysterious absences” and acknowledges the presence of “rippling muscles and naked pecs”—so be sure to pick this baby up to keep you warm on these cold winter nights!

And if you haven’t read THE DARK DIVINE…shame on you! But fear not: it’s out in paperback!

Huge congrats to Sarah and Bree on these fantastic new books!

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20. Award Announcement!

Schneider Family Book Award image

The American Library Association Awards were announced this morning, and I am incredibly proud to congratulate Antony John on winning the 2011 Schneider Family Book Award for Teens for his novel Five Flavors of Dumb.

The Schneider Family Book Awards honor an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.

Five Flavors of Dumb is Antony’s second novel (his first was Busted: Confessions of An Accidental Player) and is published by Dial, an imprint of Penguin Books for Young Readers.

Five Flavors of Dumb

As described on the ALA website: Dumb is not the name Piper, a high school senior who is Deaf, would have chosen for a heavy metal band, yet she volunteers to manage this disparate group of would-be musicians. In her attempt to make Dumb profitable, Piper learns a few things about music and business, striking a chord within herself.

This novel is so many things: an incredible portrayal of what it’s like to live with a disability, a depiction of what it feels like to confront a challenge head-on and succeed, a hysterical, laugh-out-loud rollercoaster, a tender love story, and an examination of the many different definitions of the word “family.”

And the critics agree!

In a starred review, Kirkus says: “Making Piper the manager of a rock band never feels like a cheap trick (pardon the pun) because Piper is not A Great Deaf Character but a great character who is deaf. Complex characterizations, authentic dialogue and realistic ups-and-downs give this title chart-topping potential.”

School Library Journal says: “The parallel attention to Piper’s hearing family and the strain her parents’ decision to treat her sister with cochlear implants adds to the greater story and informs the novel’s direction and ending in a satisfying way. Set in the Pacific Northwest, this rock-and-roll novel joins the ranks of Randy Powell’s equally thoughtful Tribute to Another Dead Rock Star (Farrar, 2003) and Blake Nelson’s Rock Star Superstar (Viking, 2004)

Publishers Weekly says: “In this witty yet thoughtful behind-the-music account of Dumb’s journey to semistardom, John (Busted: Confessions of an Accidental Player) creates a series of humorous surprises while demonstrating how Piper’s deafness, which is integral to the story and never feels like a gimmick, affects her life and those of her parents and brother, who are equally complex and well-developed characters. Relying on help from unexpected sources, Piper learns important lessons about music and media hype, while growing closer to her family and friends in the process.”

Please pick up your copy of FIVE FLAVORS OF DUMB today, and visit Antony at his website: http://antonyjohn.net

And from everyone here at Upstart Crow: CONGRATULATIONS!

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21. Get Ready To Be WARPED!

Congratulations to Maurissa Guibord on the release of her debut novel, WARPED, from Delacorte Press.

Warped

About WARPED:

Tessa doesn’t believe in magic. Or Fate. But there’s something weird about the dusty unicorn tapestry she discovers in a box of old books. She finds the creature woven within it compelling and frightening. After the tapestry comes into her possession, Tessa experiences dreams of the past and scenes from a brutal hunt that she herself participated in. When she accidentally pulls a thread from the tapestry, Tessa releases a terrible centuries old secret. She also meets William de Chaucy, an irresistible 16th-century nobleman. His fate is as inextricably tied to the tapestry as Tessa’s own. Together, they must correct the wrongs of the past. But then the Fates step in, making a tangled mess of Tessa’s life. Now everyone she loves will be destroyed unless Tessa does their bidding and defeats a cruel and crafty ancient enemy.

Booklist says: “Debut author Guibord easily shifts the action between de Chauncy’s 1511 Cornwall village, the timeless and forbidding forest world of the tapestry, and Tessa’s modern-day Portland, Oregon. Will’s enslavement is told in flashbacks, which builds a nice tension around the connections between Tessa and Will and allows the author to reveal details at just the right moments.”

The Bulletin says: “The relationship between Tessa and Will is fraught with misunderstandings and secret longings, a standard but wholly effective formula for irresistible romance. Teens who just can’t get enough of the brooding hero and the spirited heroine will therefore do well to pick this one up.”

WARPED truly has something for everyone: romance, action-packed adventure, chilling and exciting unicorn and Fates mythology, and of course…a sultry villainess!

Get your copy of WARPED now—everyone is crowing about it!

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22. Congratulations, Jeff! (Or, Go Grab Your Nearest Deviant)

jeff sampson - vesperThis week saw the debut of Vesper, the constantly surprising, un-put-down-able first entry in Jeff Sampson’s thrilling new paranormal teen trilogy, Deviants, from HarperCollins Children’s Books/Balzer + Bray. It’s got a sexy cover, a spiffy design, and the stewardship of a great editor. A happy ending all around.

But this novel has had a long route to publication, and so its appearance on bookshelves is especially sweet. In a much different form—as a novel entitled, I believe, Wildeside—it was purchased for the Mirrorstone imprint of Wizards of the Coast. It was revised, edited, and scheduled. But before it could be published, Mirrorstone was folded and WotC became again focused on Dungeons & Dragons. (Roll those polyhedral dice, Nina!)

Then Jeff found a new agent, and the novel was again revised and edited. And then it sold at auction and was again revised and edited. During those years it went from being called Wildeside to The Savage Files to The Vesper Files to The Life and Death of Emily Cooke, until at last it was retitled Vesper, and Jeff again revised to more seamlessly work the title origin into the text, and now it is there, in stores, waiting for you to go and buy it for the teen in your life (or for yourself—go on, it’s okay).

I’ve already written about this novel on Goodreads, where I described it asa kind of mix of Westerfeld and Heroes (when it was good) and Veronica Mars, but entirely its own beast.” And then I got all philosophical-like. To wit:

Of late, the teen genre paranormal romances announce themselves as such, with the single element the author is playing with brayed about on the cover. Bored by Wolves! or Fairy Tail or Angel Boy or what-have-you. Such books are all about cashing in by being as obvious as possible. Want paranormal romance? Here’s a vampire angel zombie you can really love! You know you’re reaching the nadir of a trend when mere labeling is enough to make a book a success.

Which is one of the most refreshing things about Vesper. There are genre elements in here, but they’re not the ones you expect, and they’re not being used in a manner you’ll expect. Sampson has bigger aims than mere sort-of-boy-meets-sort-of-girl, and one of the novel’s many joys is just how often you realize that you don’t quite know what in tarnation is going on.

And the book is written with a crispness that is increasingly rare in this genre—Sampson isn’t one to linger forever on a boy’s steely gaze, the line of his jaw, his rock hard head (er, abs), etc.—those sorts of calculatedly gooey details that basically make so much of today&rsqu

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23. Pleased as Punch for THE SHADOWS!

Elsewhere CybilsGreat news! We learned today that Jacqueline West’s THE SHADOWS has won a Cybil in the category of favorite middle grade fantasy & science fiction. What are the Cybils, you ask? From the official Cybils website (where you can view all the winners), “The Cybils awards are given each year by bloggers for the year’s best children’s and young adult titles… [that] combined literary merit with kid appeal.” We’re so happy bloggers chose to give this great award to Jacqueline’s book!

We must also acknowledge Sandra Stiles, a blogger who runs the website The Musings of A Book Addict; Sandra nominated THE SHADOWS and posts loads of great reviews on her site. Thanks so much, Sandra!

And there’s more BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE news, too! THE SHADOWS is also a finalist for a Minnesota Book Award in the Young People’s Literature category, and was named to the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list for 2011-2012. We’re so, so excited!

SpellboundOne last thing: As many of you know, Olive & company’s adventures don’t end in THE SHADOWS. There will be at least five volumes, starting next July with Vol 2: SPELLBOUND.  Here’s a look at the cover. Isn’t it just gorgeous?

Stay tuned for more exciting news!

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24. Jack Blank News + Boy Books

Jack Blank New CoverI’m thrilled to show off the brand spanking new title and cover for Book I in Matt Myklusch’s Jack Blank Adventures, now titled The Accidental Hero. If you didn’t have a chance to read the story in hardcover, fear not, for the book hits the shelves in paperback TODAY!

I’m planning a later post on books for boys, but in the meantime, if you’re interested in reading the sort of book that immediately caught my eye and serves as a solid indication of the sort of story I’m interested in representing, do yourself a favor and pick this story up! I love this story and think you will, too.

Here, for your clicking enjoyment, are a few useful links:

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25. A Sweet Read

100214981Happy Release Day to the wonderful Christina Mandelski, whose debut novel, THE SWEETEST THING, is officially on sale today from Egmont USA.

A bit about the novel:

In the world of Sheridan Wells, life is perfect when she’s decorating a cake. Unfortunately, everything else is a complete mess: her mom ran off years ago, her dad is more interested in his restaurant, and the idea of a boyfriend is laughable. But Sheridan is convinced finding her mom will solve all her problems—only her dad’s about to get a cooking show in New York, which means her dream of a perfect family will be dashed. Using just the right amount of romance, family drama, and cute boys, The Sweetest Thing will entice fans with its perfect mixture of girl-friendly ingredients.

It’s always exciting to see a wonderful book make its way into the world, especially when there was such a group effort in the publication process–and particularly when that book introduces readers to an author who is as bright a talent as Christina.

Pick up your copy today!

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