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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: young adult fiction, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 435
1. Best Selling Young Adult Books | October 2015

This month, the best selling young adult titles include books by super-talents Neil Gaiman, Chris Riddell, Rainbow Rowell and Sarah Dessen.

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2. Shalanda Stanley, Author of Drowning Is Inevitable | Selfie and a Shelfie

Shalanda Stanley grew up in Louisiana and earned her BA in creative writing at Florida State University. She’s an assistant professor at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, where she also lives with her family.

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3. Seeker, by Arwen Elys Dayton | Book Review

It's delightful to slip into the complex and fully realized world where Seekers slice through time and space and unlock the mysteries of the universe.

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4. Review: Rogue (Talon #2) by Julie Kagawa

I absolutely fell in love with Talon by Julie Kagawa, as you might recall from this gushing review of mine last month. What’s not to love?! Dragons! Guns! Missions! The occasional delicious summery smoothie? Consider me 100% hooked. So of course I had to get my hands on the sequel: Rogue. And of course I must gush about […]

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5. Review: Are You Seeing Me? by Darren Groth

Oh this book is utterly glorious! I picked up Are You Seeing Me? by Darren Groth on impulse and am totally glad I gave it a chance. This book is so special and I’m squawking with the effort of writing a review to give it justice! It’s about Australian twins, Justine and Perry (who has autism), who […]

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6. Best Selling Young Adult Books | August 2015

Check out our hand-picked list from the Best Selling Young Adult list from The New York Times.

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7. Best Young Adult Books with Pat Schmatz, Author of Lizard Radio

It’s a tough assignment, and the best I can do is choose five YA books that, if I were shipwrecked today, I’d want with me.

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8. Review: The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes

Well, just WOW. I did not expect to be terrified absolutely witless while reading this. BUT I WAS. This book is wonderful and addictive and…frightening.  If you need me, I shall be the one rocking in the corner giving random pterodactyl screeches from the trauma. True story. The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes is about […]

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9. Cybils Awards: Five Reasons to Apply as a Judge!

Everyone else is doing it, so I thought I'd post my five reasons why you should apply to be a Cybils Awards judge. As you would expect, there's a lot of overlap with other people's reasons, but I'll add my own spin on them, and with an emphasis on my category, Young Adult Speculative Fiction. For those who don't know what speculative fiction is, it includes fantasy, science fiction, horror, dystopian, steampunk, and basically anything else with supernatural, fantastical, or futuristic elements.

1. Read and discuss good books. Hopefully you don't need an excuse to read, but it doesn't hurt to be able to say, "Sorry, I can't do the dishes, I have to finish this Cybils book." Cybils judges engage in intense reading - and for Round 1, a LOT of reading - and intense discussions with a small group of people who share your book passion.

In YA Spec Fic, we've sometimes had upwards of 200 nominated books in Round 1, and while you don't have to read them all, Round 1 judges in YA SF can expect to have to read at least 40 books over a 3 month period. (Presumably, you'll already have read some of the category nominations). It's crazy intense, but so much fun! Round 2 judges have to read 5 to 7 books in a little under 6 weeks, but they get to read "the best of the best" and choose a winner.

2. Make lifelong friends. Those intense discussions with like-minded people? Turns out they're a great basis for a friendship. I've made lifelong friends from serving together on a Cybils panel. (And KidLitCon is a great place to meet up with them in person!)

3. Influence the books available for children/teen reading. Yup, awards do have an influence. And while the Cybils don't get as much media as, say, the ALA awards, we have a pretty big and dedicated following that includes teachers, librarians, and booksellers. The books you choose may end up on reading lists, getting purchased by a library, or in bookstore displays. Books that win awards and get that attention may be more likely to be reprinted or have a sequel or other books by the author published.

4. Get your blog better known. Did I mention we have a following? Round 1 judges are encouraged to blog about the books you read, and while Round 2 judges can't blog the finalists during the round, they can post reviews after the winners are announced. Throughout the Cybils season, we post review excerpts with links to reviews by both Round 1 and Round 2 judges to the Cybils blog, thus further aiding discovery of judges' blogs. During the summer, you can contribute themed book lists for posting on the Cybils blog. Being a Cybils judge can bring greater visibility to your blog, increase your traffic, and give you greater credibility with publishers.

5. Learn a lot. I mean, a lot. I sometimes think I know a lot about YA SF, but every year I'm blown away by the knowledge and expertise of my fellow judges, and every year I learn more from them.

What I'm looking for

As Category Chair for YA Speculative Fiction, I have the responsibility to choose the judges for my category. It's my least favorite part of the Cybils: I hate having to choose one person over another, but unfortunately we usually don't have room for everyone.

Here are some of the things that I look for:

1. A passion for speculative fiction. If your "about" on your blog says that you don't really like most spec fic, then I'll most likely pass. If you don't post about SF much, I'll think long and hard before choosing you.

2. Knowledge of spec fiction and its subgenres. Speculative Fiction is a very diverse genre. One day you might be reading a scary ghost story, and the next a futuristic dystopian. I look for people who have read broadly within the genre and can discuss the various aspects, literary elements, and tropes of the genre.

3. Critical thinking skills. I have to know that you can think critically about books and analyze the literary elements and readability of a book. Reviews are a great way to demonstrate this, but if you don't review books, hopefully you can submit other blog posts that demonstrate your critical thinking skills.

4. Open to diverse perspectives. I want to see that you have a demonstrated interest in diversity, and a tolerance for worldviews different from your own.

5. Diverse backgrounds. I mean this in two ways. First, I look for people who can bring expertise or experience with one or more under-represented groups, in what we usually mean when we say diversity. For example, do you blog about people of color, LGBTQA+ characters, differently-abled characters, different religious or worldviews, etc.? Second, I look for a variety of personal and work experience, so that the panel is hopefully made up of a good mix of librarians, teachers, parents, booksellers, authors, etc.

So I have I scared you off yet? Oops, I was supposed to be convincing you why you should apply! Please do apply, and if YA Speculative Fiction isn't your thing, we have plenty of other categories ranging from Easy Readers to Young Adult. We even have a book apps category!

Here's the information on how to apply!

Also, see the following posts for more reasons to apply!

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10. Review: Talon by Julie Kagawa

I am so dragonishly pleased with Talon by Julie Kagawa. It was just so excitingly good! I do love me some dragons, though. I absolutely adore them, so I had a feeling this book would be “my thing”. It isn’t flooded with dragonishness (that is a word, don’t doubt me now), but it has loveable characters and sparky humour […]

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11. Catherine Linka, Author of Girl Undone | Selfie and a Shelfie

"I wanted my selfie to show that A GIRL UNDONE continues the story of A GIRL CALLED FEARLESS."

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12. Review: Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill

You know those books that make you sit back and go, “Um, woah” and then are super hard to talk about because they’ve messed with your brain so much? WELL. Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill definitely fits in that category. It’s the kind of book that makes you think. It took me ages to formulate thoughts. WHAT DO […]

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13. Best Young Adult Beach Reads with Lori Goldstein, Author of BECOMING JINN

Lori Goldstein | The Children’s Book Review | July 16, 2015 I grew up on the Jersey Shore and now live outside of Boston, where on the right day, I can smell the sea from my back deck (though it still takes an hour to get to the beach). Maybe that’s why the beach is my happy place. For […]

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14. The Last Good Day of the Year, by Jessica Warman | Book Review

Emotionally wrought and sharply written, The Last Good Day of the Year explores and examines the capacity of evil and the result is a fine, smart read that isn’t afraid to uncover the frailty and weight of guilt and family relationships.

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15. Five Tips for Making Any Scene in Your Novel More Tense and Interesting

I'm about to spill one of my worst kept writing secrets, by which I mean that I'm going to talk about why I include a lot of the kinds of scenes that  legendary agent and author Donald Maass, whose many books about writing I usually agree with in their entirety, says to leave out of a novel. What kind of scenes are those? The ones that take place in kitchens, living rooms, and cars driving back and forth. Let's call them the everyday scenes.

Now it's true that these scenes are the ones that usually are left out of successful novels--especially young adult novels. Why? Because they tend to be low-tension scenes. Scenes where people are sitting around talking and not much is happening.

But low action doesn't have to mean low tension. Novels aren't necessarily about action; they're about conflict. And conflict can occur anywhere. That's what a lot of writers overlook, and it can result in low-tension (aka boring) action scenes as well as scenes that end up being just two characters talking.

There are many valid reasons to have those everyday scenes, though. Which means it's a good thing there are easy ways to beef them up so they engage instead of disengage your reader.

Read more »

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16. Six Steps to Nail Your Plot, Motivation, Character, and Story Opening plus AN EMBER IN THE ASHES Giveaway

I was reading an interview with NYT Bestselling author Tess Gerritsen over on Novel Rocket, yesterday, and she mentioned that her favorite piece of writing advice is to focus on the character's predicament. I love, love, love that, because it actually addresses four different aspects of your WIP.

In one fell swoop, you can nail the core of your character, the movement of your story, the place you start it, and how you tell it.

Here's how.

  1. Start by putting yourself in your character's head. What's her problem? What no-win predicament does she find herself in? Journal this, just as a rough paragraph or two or three, writing as if she is screaming at someone for putting her in that situation. Let it all loose. Imagine the confrontation, all the emotion, the frustration, the desire to move forward and fix something.
  2. Examine that thing that she has to fix and establish the consequences if she fails. Brainstorm why she wants to fix it and jot it down your on one page in a notebook, note software program, or on a Scrivener entry. Why does she need to fix the problem? Why does she have no choice to act to change that situation? 
  3. What is your character willing or forced to give up to fix her predicament? Add a second page to your notes. Write down what is most important to your character. Explore what defines her view of herself, and how this predicament effects that. What wound from her past or weakness of character is going to make it harder for her to repair the problem? What unexpected strengths can she find along the way that will help her?
  4. Now build your plot like dominos. Once you have a pretty good grasp on the predicament itself, it's relatively easy to make a timeline of how the problem, the person who created that problem (or personifies it) and your character intersect. You can build your plot as if it's inevitable: this happened, your character reacted, because your character reacted, this other thing happened, and so on. One thing leads directly to another.
  5. Next, taking into consideration who your character is, find the place in the timeline, or right before what you've jotted down, where the problem first rears its head. This could be something that your character did that set the problem in motion, or something coming in from outside to shake things up, but there has to be a change. This is where you're going to begin your story, on the day that is different, with the first domino. Write down what that incident is.
  6. Finally, put everything together to set up the story. Your opening has to show the inciting incident, suggest the story problem, and jump start the action, but you also want to foreshadow your character's strength and the weakness that is going to hold her back. You want to give us a hint of the personal lesson she will have to learn in order to get out of the predicament she's facing.
That's it. When you look at it from the standpoint of the character's predicament, every aspect of the story comes together. Whether you're a plotter or a pantser, and regardless of whether you're writing a fantasy or sci fi novel, a romance, a contemporary, or virtually anything else, these six simple steps will help you get enough information to structure it in a way that will let it feel like it's writing itself. 

Happy writing!

This Week's Giveaway

An Ember in the Ashes
by Sabaa Tahir
Released 4/28/2015





LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier— and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.

When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.

Purchase An Ember in the Ashes at Amazon
Purchase An Ember in the Ashes at IndieBound
View An Ember in the Ashes on Goodreads

More Giveaways

I have exciting news! Want to know the title for the final book in the Heirs of Watson Island trilogy? Head on over to Elizziebooks.com. Liz has my first ever video about Compulsion and the title, plus a great new giveaway. There are two additional places to win a necklace and T-Shirt, and you might even find a Persuasion teaser along the way. : )

There's also a grand prize, and you'll be automatically entered to win it when you enter any of the three T-shirt giveaways. But if you'd like even more chances to win, keep an eye out here, and on my Facebook page. I'll be posting a separate Rafflecopter in a little while!

And finally, don't forget. There's a new Compulsion for Reading bag of books this month!

What About You?

Have you wrestled with this kind of an approach to writing your story? Are you a plotter or a pantser, and is this too much or too little planning for you?

As a reader, do you like stories where the plot feels inevitable? Can you think of an example of a book that read like the characters never had any choice but to do what they did?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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17. Best Selling Young Adult Books | July 2015

This month, the award-winning classic Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen, is The Children’s Book Review’s best selling young adult book.

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18. Review: Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

I am absolutely in love with Girl Of Fire And Thorns by Rae Carson. I’ve been gnawing at fantasies like a fiend lately and finally found this one which is a) unique, and b) feministic, and c) incredibly adorable and charming and heart warming. WELL. Apart from the moments when my heart was breaking. This author does NOT spare […]

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19. The FAT CAT Get Healthy for Summer Giveaway!

I get soooo many e-mails from people who have just read or listened to FAT CAT and want some more tips about how to do what Cat does in the book and totally transform their bodies and their health.

So guess what? I’m going to give you the chance to win a great book to get you started.

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau has written numerous books and cookbooks and has an amazing podcast and is generally out there inspiring people and teaching them how to make lifelong changes that will make them feel happy, healthy, and strong. Those of you who have listened to the FAT CAT audio book know that Colleen and I have a great conversation at the end of the book about both of our food backgrounds and what led us to make changes. I love Colleen’s work. I’m also happy to introduce other people to it.

So for this month’s giveaway, you’ll have the chance to win a signed copy of her new book, The 30-Day Vegan Challenge: The Ultimate Guide to Eating Healthfully and Living Compassionately. The winner will also receive a signed copy of FAT CAT, along with a Karmic Cafe T-shirt just like the one Amanda designs in FAT CAT.

You can enter the giveaway here. And remember the cool extra-credit detail: When you enter you’ll get a confirmation email that contains your own personal special code. When you post that code on your own blog or Twitter or Facebook, you’ll get 3 extra entries in your own name every time someone else enters from that link. So the more you share, the better your chances are of winning! Go get ‘em!

Good luck to all of you!

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20. Best Selling Young Adult Books | May 2015

With so many strong novels on this list, a lot remains the same on our hand-picked list from the Best Selling Young Adult list.

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21. Book Review: An Ember in the Ashes

An Ember in the Ashes

by Sabaa Tahir

Told in alternating stories of two main characters on opposite sides, An Amber in the Ashes is a suspenseful exploration of the effects of violence on both the conquered and the conquerors. Set in a Rome-like fantasy world, the Scholars are a subjugated people under the rule of the Martials. Laia is a Scholar living with her brother and grandparents. When her brother is arrested on suspicion of being a member of the resistance, and her grandparents are killed violently by Martial soldiers, Laia runs away in fear. To atone for her cowardice, Laia sets out to save her brother, and goes undercover as a slave to the cruel and sadistic commander of the elite military academy Blackcliff.

Elias is a student at Blackcliff, training to become a Mask, the most elite of Martial soldiers. Although he has lived most of his life as a student under the harsh discipline at Blackcliff, Elias still sees things differently than his peers because he spent the first six years of his life outside the Martial society. Elias is determined to escape the violent society and his role as an enforcer as soon as he graduates. Then a visit from the Augurs — the Martial's version of oracles — puts a difficult choice before Elias. But can he trust the prophecy, or is he being manipulated by the Augurs?

Sabaa Tahir was inspired to write An Ember in the Ashes during her time at the Washington Post's foreign desk, when she was exposed to horrifying stories of the effects of violence on people around the world. An Ember in the Ashes is an exciting dystopian story that shows how a violent society affects everyone, from the slaves to the highest levels. Even the resistance is divided by the question of whether they have an obligation to help those of their people in need, or whether such aid detracts from their mission of fighting back against the Martials.

I had some minor credibility problems, and the plot development was occasionally awkward. I thought that the addition of supernatural characters like djinn was an unnecessary device that muddies the waters. The augurs were fine and really drive the plot in many ways, but the djinn and other spirits made it start to feel like everything was thrown in, including the kitchen sink.

This isn't a subtle book: the message about the effects of violence is hammered pretty hard. However, as I write this in a Baltimore (and a nation) trying to figure out how to police our communities without unnecessary violence by police against the people they are supposed to protect, the message really resonates.

In spite of the minor issues, I found An Ember in the Ashes to be a thrilling and highly engaging plot-driven story with loads of teen appeal, especially for fans of dystopian fiction like the Hunger Games. I can understand why it's been optioned for film already.


Elias is described as having golden-brown skin. The identity of Elias' father is unknown, but it's likely that his skin color came from his father, since his mother is described as having pale skin. Other than that, skin color doesn't seem to play a role, although one of the more despicable characters is also described as having dark skin. The Martial empire appears to be generally diverse, with various ethnicities of people coming from the different conquered nations, although it's not significant to the plot.

Although the empire appears to be fairly patriarchal, female characters play a significant role. Besides Laia, there's Helene, who is also a student at Blackcliff and Elias' best friend. Helen is one tough cookie, in some ways one of the toughest students there. In spite of that, though, she's mostly relegated to the traditional female support role, and a subplot about an attraction leaves her acting "like a girl." There's also the female commander of Blackcliff, and several minor female characters including a cook who used to be an explosives expert.

The author is a woman of color.

Who would like this book?

Anyone who enjoys a thrilling, suspenseful plot-driven story, particularly fans of The Hunger Games and other dystopian fiction. In keeping with the theme, An Ember in the Ashes is fairly dark and violent, so sensitive readers may want to take a pass.

Buy from Powells.com:

FTC required disclosure: Review copy sent by the publisher to enable me to write this review. The bookstore links above are affiliate links, and I earn a very small percentage of any sales made through the links. Neither of these things influenced my review.

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22. Saaba Tahir, Author of An Ember in the Ashes | Speed Interview

Which five words best describe An Ember in the Ashes (Razorbill, April 2015), by Saaba Tahir? Adventurous, Brutal, Honest, Fast-Paced, Romance

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23. Emma Pass, Author of The Fearless |Selfie and a Shelfie

This is Emma Pass in front of her favorite bookshelf, with her latest novel, The Fearless (Delacorte Press, April 2015).

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24. How Do Award Judges Feel About the Books They Were Unable to Honor?

Best YA and Middle-Grade novels selected by Pete Hautman. His latest book is Eden West, the story of a boy growing up in an isolated doomsday cult in Montana.

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25. Off the Page, by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer | Book Review

Fantasy meets reality in Off the Page, a romantic comedy written for the young adult audience by New York Times bestselling authors Jodi Picoult and her daughter and coauthor, Samantha van Leer.

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