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1. Monthly Book List: Our Five Favorite Books for September

FIVEfaves copyOur favorite books this September feature some lovable animals and some courageous young adults. These stories about friendship and making good choices will make you laugh, cry and learn life lessons in the process.

Read on to see what books had us hooked this September!



For PreK-K (Ages 3-6):

The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach


Bear meets sandwich, adventure ensues. The wonderfully told story, spectacular illustrations, and surprise ending make this Julia Sarcone-Roach’s best book to date. You’ll want to share it with your friends (and keep a close eye on your lunch). A sly classic-in-the-making for fans of Jon Klassen, Peter Brown, and Mo Willems.



For 1st & 2nd Grade (Ages 6-8):

My Friend Maggie by Hannah E. Harrison
my-friend-maggiePaula and Maggie have been friends forever. Paula thinks Maggie is the best—until mean girl Veronica says otherwise. Suddenly, Paula starts to notice that Maggie is big and clumsy, and her clothes are sort of snuggish. Rather than sticking up for Maggie, Paula ignores her old friend and plays with Veronica instead. Luckily, when Veronica turns on Paula, Maggie’s true colors shine through.



For 3rd & 4th grade (Ages 8-10):

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch


Welcome to Hereville, home of the first-ever wisecracking, adventure-loving, sword-wielding Orthodox Jewish heroine. A delightful mix of fantasy, adventure, cultural traditions, and preteen commotion, this fun, quirky graphic novel series will captivate middle-school readers with its exciting visuals and entertaining new heroine.




For 5th & 6th grade (Ages 10-12):

Booked by Kwame Alexander


In this follow-up to the Newbery-winning novel THE CROSSOVER, soccer, family, love, and friendship, take center stage as twelve-year-old Nick learns the power of words as he wrestles with problems at home, stands up to a bully, and tries to impress the girl of his dreams. Helping him along are his best friend and sometimes teammate Coby, and The Mac, a rapping librarian who gives Nick inspiring books to read.



Grades 7 & up (Ages 13+):

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan


One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, Will Grayson crosses paths with . . . Will Grayson. Two teens with the same name, running in two very different circles, suddenly find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, and culminating in epic turns-of-heart and the most fabulous musical ever to grace the high school stage. Told in alternating voices from two YA superstars, this collaborative novel features a double helping of the heart and humor that have won them both legions of fans.

The post Monthly Book List: Our Five Favorite Books for September appeared first on First Book Blog.

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2. June 2016 New Releases

Welcome back to Upcoming Titles, our monthly feature where we highlight books releasing this month. As always, this is by no means a comprehensive list of forthcoming releases, just a compilation of titles we think our readers (and our contributors!) would enjoy.

Summer is in full swing and two of our PubCrawl contributors have books coming out this month, including our very own Jodi Meadows and Julie Eshbaugh! Julie’s debut will be coming out this month and we are so, so, so excited for her book to finally be out in the world!

Without further ado:

June 7

The Leaving by Tara Altebrando
The Long Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Tumbling by Caela Carter
With Malice by Eileen Cook
My Brilliant Idea by Stuart David
Julia Vanishes by Catherine Egan
The Loose Ends List by Carrie Firestone
My Lady Jane
Being Jazz by Jazz Jennings
You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan
The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder
How It Ends by Catherine Lo
True Letters from a Fictional Life by Kenneth Logan
The Vanishing Throne by Elizabeth May
The Way to Game the Walk of Shame by Jenn P. Nguyen
Rocks Fall Everyone Dies by Lindsay Ribar
All the Feels by Danika Stone
American Girls by Alison Umminger

June 14

The King Slayer by Virginia Boecker
Look Both Ways by Alison Cherry
The Girls by Emma Cline
Sea Spell by Jennifer Donnelly
Ivory and Bone
Autofocus by Lauren Gibaldi
Cure for the Common Universe by Christian McKay Heidicker
How It Feels to Fly by Kathryn Holmes
Change Places with Me by Lois Metzger
The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash

June 21

Mirror in the Sky by Aditi Khorana
The Marked Girl by Lindsey Klingele
Never Ever by Sara Saedi

June 28

The Distance to Home by Jenn Bishop
Winning by Lara Deloza
Empire of Dust by Eleanor Herman
Run by Kody Keplinger
United as One by Pittacus Lore
Never Missing Never Found by Amanda Panitch
The Bourbon Thief by Tiffany Reisz
The Darkest Magic by Morgan Rhodes
And I Darken by Kiersten White

* PubCrawl contributor

That’s all for this month! Tell us what you’re looking forward to reading and any titles we might have missed!

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3. New York City Teen Author Festival 2016: It's Live

No one is actually sure how David Levithan does it. Writes books that are both bestselling AND lauded. Edits books that define a generation of readers. AND coordinates the entirely generous New York City Teen Author Festival.

We don't know how.

But we're glad he does.

This year's festival is gonzo-sized. Check out the link to the full schedule here. I'll be attending for the very first time and how in the world I got this lucky, to be on this panel (below), I'll never know. (Well, I guess I could ask David, but I suspect he's busy.)

Consider me star struck.

March 18—42nd Street NYPL, South Court
4:40-5:30: Perspective (Part 1)
Explanation: What perspective do we, as adults, bring to our novels when we write about teenagers? How do we balance what we know and what our characters don’t? Why do we find ourselves revisiting these years, and what do we learn (even years later) by writing about them? How do you acknowledge the darkness without robbing the reader of finding any light? In this candid conversation, we’ll talk to four acclaimed authors about being an adult and writing about teenagers.

Beth Kephart
Carolyn Mackler
Luanne Rice
Francisco Stork
Moderator: David Levithan
I'll also be there, at the mega-signing, on Sunday, with first-ever copies of This Is the Story of You.

Join us?

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4. This Is the Story of You: a scene from my Jersey Shore novel

In less than five weeks, This Is the Story of You, my Jersey Shore novel, will be released by Chronicle Books. A Junior Library Guild selection that has received two early stars, this is a mystery set in the wake of a monster storm. It's a meditation on our environment and an exploration of friendship, sisterhood, loss, and resilience.

It is, perhaps, the most urgent novel I've yet written, both in terms of themes and pacing.

On March 18, in the New York Public Library, as part of the New York City Teen Author Festival, I'll be reading from the book and talking about the perspective adults bring to the novels they write about teens in a panel gorgeously assembled by David Levithan and featuring Carolyn Mackler, Luanne Rice, and Francisco Stork. On March 20, I'll be signing early copies at New York City's iconic Books of Wonder. And on April 30, at Main Point Books in Bryn Mawr, PA, I'll be doing a signing.

This morning I'm sharing this scene.

Here I should probably explain the rules, the lines in the sand, the ins and outs of Haven. We were a people shaped by extremes. Too much and too little were in our genes.

To be specific:

Too little was the size of things—the dimension of our island, the we-fit-inside-it-bank-turned-school, the quality of restaurants, the quantity of bridges.

Too much was The Season—Memorial Day through Labor Day. Vacationeers by the boatload, bikinis by the square inch, coolers by the mile, a puke-able waft of SPFs. The longest lines at night were at Dippy’s Icy Creams.

The longest lines by day circled the lighthouse. During The Season the public trash bins were volcanic eruptions, the songbirds were scarce, the deer hid where you couldn’t find them, the hamburgers were priced like mini filets mignons, and the rentable bikes streamed up, streamed down. At the Mini Amuse the Giant Wheel turned, the Alice in Wonderland teased, the dozen giraffes on the merry-go-round looked demoralized and beat. At Dusker’s Five and Dime the hermit crabs in the painted shells sold for exorbitant fees.

Whoever was up there in the little planes that dragged the advertising banners around would have looked down and seen the flopped hats, crusted towels, tippy shovels, broken castles, and bands of Frisbee fliers—Vacationeers, each one. Whoever was up there looking down would not have seen the bona fides, the Year-Rounders, the us, because we weren’t on the beach. We were too employed renting out the bikes, flipping the burgers, scooping the Dippy’s, cranking up the carousel, veering the Vacationeers out of riptides—to get out and be seen. From the age of very young we had been taught to maximize The Season, which was code for keeping the minimum wage coming, which was another way of saying that we stepped out of the way, we subserved, for the three hot months of summer.

We Year-Rounders had been babies together, toddlers together, kindergartners together, Alabasterans. We had a pact: Let the infiltrators be and watch them leave and don’t divide to conquer. We knew that what mattered most of all was us, and that we’d be there for us, and that we would not allow the outside world to actually dilute us. Like I said,we knew our water.

Six miles long.

One-half mile wide. Haven.

Go forth and conquer together.

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5. the week ahead, and thoughts on Francisco X. Stork, Luanne Rice, Carolyn Mackler, and David Levithan

You know how, when the fever finally breaks, you emerge new (again) to the world? These past many days, fighting the flu that has afflicted so many, fighting the political news that is equally afflicting, I have been preparing for the week ahead—losing myself inside a heated fog, waking with urgency, getting out into the world, then rushing back home to my couch and its furry cover, where, again, I try to prepare—shrugging off the fever, then succumbing to it.

This week: The first workshopping of memoirs in my class at Penn, on Tuesday. A talk about Philadelphia stories at the Union League, on Wednesday. The alumni publishing event, at Penn, on Thursday. The NYCTAF panel, "Perspectives," featuring Carolyn Mackler, Luanne Rice, Francisco X. Stork, myself, and moderator David Levithan, on Friday at the New York Public Library (South Court), at 4:40. My first signing of This Is the Story of You at Books of Wonder on Sunday, at 2:30 (alongside many other wonderful writers).

(For more on any of these events, or additional events, including the upcoming keynote for the annual Historic Rittenhousetown fundraiser, see the sidebar on this page.)

The only way I know how to prepare for a panel is to read the work of my fellow panelists. And so I have. I began with The Memory of Light, Stork's moving meditation on depression and mental unwellness. This is the story of Vicky, a second-best sort of sister mourning the death of her mother who no longer wishes to live and whose suicide attempt fails. Rushed to a hospital, Vicky becomes friends with others her age who are also battling demons. Vicky needs a reason to believe that her life is worth living. She doubts that it is for long stretches of this book. But as her new friends spiral into unsettling places—and as they reveal their own humanity—something shifts.

Stork, whose Marcelo in the Real World is a book that also must be read, writes from a true place, a deep understanding of a condition, depression that, while it affects so many, remains so poorly understood: "You are not the clouds or even the blue sky where clouds live," Vicky is told. "You are the sun behind them, giving light to all, and the sun is made up of goodness and kindness and life."

With The Secret Language of Sisters, Luanne Rice, a bestselling adult novelist (whose work has often been translated to TV),  presents her YA debut—the story of two sisters whose lives are irrevocably changed by a texting-when-driving accident. Roo, a photographer, hopes to be headed to Yale. Tilly, the younger sister, is envious/proud of Roo's abilities and grace. The accident that results from Roo's response to Tilly's text leaves Roo with locked-in syndrome—the same terrifying condition that lies at the heart of Jean Dominique-Bauby's memoir, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. As the novel unfolds, the two sisters speak to us—yes, both sisters, despite the fact that no one (but us) can hear Roo's thoughts for the longest time.

I remembered my seizure, Tilly standing there—the worst feeling I've ever had, thrashing around with no control, hearing her scream just before I passed out. I woke up being restrained—or at least that's what I thought. I thought they had tied me down. Then I realized, No, there are no straps. It's me—I can't move. I can't speak. I can't get anyone to hear me. 
Rice has created a story of triumphal love despite harrowing circumstances.

Then there is the beloved Carolyn Mackler, author of The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things (a Printz honor book), The Future of Us (co-authored with Jay Asher), and others. In her new book, Infinite in Between, Mackler traces the intertwined lives of five high school students who survive freshman orientation and step (sometimes sideways, sometimes backwards, but finally ahead) toward graduation—five likable teens whose differences bind them.

Of the five, Zoe, the daughter of a celebrity now in rehab, is the most (ruefully) famous. We first meet her when she learns that her mother has (without saying goodbye) left their Colorado home. Zoe's life is about to change:
Zoe bit at her thumbnail. She knew things were getting worse with her mom, but it wasn't like anyone was talking about it. It wasn't like anyone ever talked about anything.

"What?" she asked, her voice rising.

Rosa touched her arm. Their housekeeper was on the older side and had a granddaughter around Zoe's age she sometimes brought over.

"I know it's not fair," Rosa said, "but you can try to make the best of it."

"Where is Hankinson, anyway?"

"It's in New York State. Your aunt lives there. That's nice, right? You're going to stay with her for a while."
Finally, there is David Levithan himself, who, with all his charisma and intelligence, constructs New York City Teen Author Festival—a mammoth undertaking involving more than a dozen venues and 110 authors. Every day, including today, at the Strand, there are events. David is behind each one. We're so grateful to him for opening these doors, and I'm grateful that he'll be moderating our panel—bringing his insights as an editor and his great talents as a writer.

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6. Guest Post: Lara Herrington Watson on Analyze This: A Grammatical Breakdown of Favorite First Chapters

click to enlarge
By Lara Herrington Watson
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

As I finished writing my second YA novel, I worried that my writing was getting stagnant.

What if I was learning bad habits that I would repeat through all of my future novels?

In order to glean some knowledge about my writing, I completed grammatical analyses on the first chapters of works by some of my favorite authors (Jane Austen, Ernest Hemingway, Barbara Kingsolver, David Levithan, Rainbow Rowell, and J.K. Rowling), and on my own novel.

I calculated percentages of sentences that begin with a subject, adverb, etc. I also looked at percentages of sentence type used: fragments, complex sentences, etc.

Here’s what I learned:

When reading your manuscript straight through for errors, highlighting different parts of speech individually (nouns, verbs, adverbs…) is an excellent editing method. This is how I started the project, and while it didn’t teach me much about my writing, scanning it piecemeal made the text pop in a different way. I discovered a dozen small errors and typos that I and my writing group had not yet found (in the first 50 pages alone).

Simplicity is okay. Forty-five percent of all my sentences are simple. I start 63 percent of my sentences with subjects. At first I was sure this was too high. But these numbers are actually pretty average compared to my favorite authors.

Levithan had the highest percentages of simple sentences and of sentences beginning with subjects (65%), but his writing is still some of the most poetic, jazzy, and prismatic writing I’ve read. Maybe this is because of the many gorgeous participial phrases in the middle or at the end of his sentences.

Similarly, Rowell’s writing gets more interesting (lots of fragments composed of participial phrases) whenever the protagonist waxes nostalgic about his girlfriend. Much like Levithan, her fragments make seemingly small, subtle emotional steps that work.

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Austen had the second highest percentage of fragments (Blame Mrs. Bennet’s blathering about Bingley.). Austen also uses the smallest range of tools for sentence starters, yet she scores fairly high in her use of complex sentences.

Complexity is also okay. One myth among young writers is that long sentences are always run-on sentences. This is untrue.

Take Hemingway, who is surprisingly complex. Because of his reputation as a straightforward, clear writer, I expected him to score high in fragments, but he had the least of anyone: only 2.2%.

His complex sentences were also the most complex of any I analyzed. Compared to writers like Levithan and Rowell, Hemingway often covers more ground (years, literally) with longer, more complex, and exceptionally clear sentences.

Use a range of tools. As far as sentence starters, Rowling definitely uses the widest range of tools. It’s probably not a coincidence that her varied writing has captivated children and adults alike.

Don’t focus too much on statistics. Initially, I thought that the best writing would have the greatest variation. But some sentence starters and structures work better depending on the author’s voice and the novel’s contents; Hemingway and Kingsolver, for example, punctuate their long, complex sentences with short, punchy ones. This may not make the most interesting graph, but it sets their voices apart and makes for great fiction.

My sample size is admittedly small. I’m only looking at first chapters, and there’s plenty more to learn. But my brain hurts from too much data entry, and the boarding school from my third novel beckons.

click to enlarge
click to enlarge

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7. 2014 in Review- The End of Year Book Survey

So, I wanted to do a roundup of this (rather quiet) year.  But I didn’t know how I’d put it together. And then I remembered that there was a giant survey from Jamie (The Perpetual Page Turner). Anyone can do it and I’m sure I should have started earlier as it’s 5 pages spaced and empty, but hey. Let’s try!

2014 Reading Stats
Number Of Books You Read: 110
Number of Re-Reads: 6 (Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Frankenstein,  The Huger Games, Mockingjay, and The Hobbit)
Genre You Read The Most From: I don’t know because I don’t keep track. I plan to work it out some day though, so watch this space.

Best in Books
1. Best Book You Read In 2014?
Out of a shortlist of Adaptation, Delete, and this, my favourite this year was probably A Kiss in the Dark by Cat Clarke.  

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
 Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith.  I’d heard many great things about it, but the writing style slowed it down and I couldn’t get into it as much as I wanted.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014? 
Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare.  I knew it was bloody, but four deaths within a few lines... well.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?
 Either This Book is Gay by James Dawson, or Persepolis by MarjaneSatrapi.

 5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?
 Series: Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens. Sequel: Inheritance by Malinda Lo. Ender: Delete by Kim Curran.

 6. Favourite new author you discovered in 2014?
 Joe  Hill. I’d seen good things about him, but never bothered to read anything. Then I read Heart Shaped Box and really enjoyed it.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
I read mostly within my comfort zone, but I think I’ll put down Phillip Larkin’s poetry from The Whitsun Weddings, which I read (and analysed) for school. initially thoroughly depressing, but it grew on me.
 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
Delete by Kim Curran. Another of my “cannot put down” reads 

  9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley for school? Eh, I don’t know. Reread love comes and goes. But maybe Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, in preparation for Carry On.

10. Favourite cover of a book you read in 2014?
This Book is Gay by James Dawson. It’s bold, eye catching, simple, and it works exceedingly well.

 11. Most memorable character of 2014?
Laureth Peak from She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgewick.  It’s such a good book and so much more than it seems and fuller explanation will follow.

  12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?
Persepolis, again.  Also, More than This by Patrick Ness, even if I really didn’t get on with the book as a whole.

 13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?
Persepolis, again.

  14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read? 
Persepolis, again *will try not to use this again*  Also, The Princess Bride by William Golding.

  15. Favourite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?
From Fanny and Stella by Neil McKenna, “French male prostitutes in drag... wore false bosoms made from boiled sheep’s...lungs... “One of the prostitutes complained to me the other day” the Parisian doctor François-Auguste Veyne reported “that a cat had eaten one of his breasts which he had left to cool down in his attic.”

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?
Shortest: The Card Sharp or The Snake Charm by Laura Lam.  Longest: Winter of the Worlds by Ken Follett.

   17. Book That Shocked You The Most
Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan because it was SO MUCH BETTER than my expectations that were based on Boy Meets Boy. Does massive improvement count as shock? I don’t know, but it was definitely unexpected.

Reese/David/Amber from Adaptation by Malinda Lo.

19. Favourite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
Daisy and Hazel from Murder Most Unladylike. So much love and fun.

 20. Favourite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
Delete by Kim Curran.

 21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
Can’t think of one.

 22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?
Amber from Adaptation.

 23. Best 2014 debut you read?
Trouble by Non Pratt. Looking forwards to Remix!

 24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
Best worldbuilding: The Wall by William Sutcliffe. Most vivid: The Mirror Empire by 
Kameron Hurley.

 25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
Fanny and Stella by Neil McKenna, or American Savage by Matt Whyman.

 26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?
Can’t think of one. Sorry.

 27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
Or one for here.

 28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan because COOPER.

 29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?
Grasshopper Jungle by Alexander Smith.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
More Than This by Patrick Ness. What feels like fifty pages of a character walking around and describing scenery with not much else happening just...ugh.

Bloggish/Bookish Life

1. New favourite book blog you discovered in 2014? 
I’ve mostly been keeping in contact with bloggers via means other than their blogs, and the people who I love, I can’t think of people who I definitely discovered in 2014. But down the side, there’s links to bloggers! Go check them out!

2. Favourite review that you wrote in 2014?
None of my book reviews stand out for me.  But I do quite like my theatre reviews, so if you’re interested, go have a look.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?
Mr. Gove, you are the UK's education secretary. Educate. #saveourbooks
With the help of Georgia’s graphics, there were many of us speaking about against Gove’s reforms to the GCSE and Alevel English syllabus.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
Hmm... I loved the Ken Follett and Cat Clarke and David Levithan  and James Dawson talks and signings. Honourable mention for best event goes to the Divergent premier!

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2014?
Some of the many many conversations I’ve had with some people in the past year. You guys rock.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
I think my post on my We Need Diverse Books display counts by views, if you take into account its tumblr notes, after being reblogged by authors and the WNDB team!

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
Ugh. Can’t think. Sorry.

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)? Hmm...shops. Two in Edinburgh which I found on the last day of my trip. Word Power, which does independent things, books I’d never heard of and sadly didn’t have money to buy. And Transreal Fiction, which is all the fantasy/ssf/specfic/pretty books that I’d ever need.
10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
No. *laughs* (goodreads doesn’t count becasue I’d adjusted it halfway through the year!)

Looking Ahead

 1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2014 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2015?
 The many on my ex-to read pile of doom. Especially Look Who’s Back by Tim Viernes.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2015 (non-debut)?
Prudence by Gail Carriger because I can’t wait to go back and maybe get bits of Alexia and Maccon, as well as seeing the new things.

3. 2015 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
Tatum Flynn’s  D’Evil Diaries. Looks funny, and has been compared to Good Omens, which I love.

  4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2015?
Does Carry On count as a tie-in or sequel to Fangirl? It’s going here.

 5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2015? Review books once they’re read! A post with further 2015 plans will come soon.

6. A 2015 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:

Other things: 
Thank you so much for sticking with me, even though it’s been relatively quiet around here. That goes to all of you-readers, publishers, bloggers, authors, everyone. I hope be blogging more soon, and interact with blogs, not just the bloggers behind them, more. I also hope to pick up some failed projects from earlier on in the year- anyone still up for Bard to Bookshelf? 

Throughout the year, I have  had really bad days. You won't have heard from me about them, because when that happens I take myself off the internet and curl up in my bed. But I get through them, and then I'm back, with the things I've done on my good ones. 

 I've gotten involved in theatre, and did Godspell and Lucky Stiff with two separate, brilliant groups. I got into a program called Pathways to Law. I went to some blogger events and met people. I tried teaching myself Spanish and can now understand basic pieces. I did exams and ended up with a batch of A and A* GCSEs that I'm proud of myself for.  

I have read a  lot  this year, if you take into account the fact that this year I discovered my kindle can download mobi files off the internet and so I read many novel length fanfiction pieces (such as a 280k piece by SaraNoH and the_wordbutler called 180 Days and Counting about the Avengers being teachers at a primary school which is cute and funny and brilliant, which I started at noon one day and finished at 5pm the next).

Thank you, everyone. I hope that 2014 wasn’t entirely awful for you (anyone who says it was entirely brilliant must have had an exceptional year –and- have been ignoring the news), and I hope that 2015 is better. 

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8. Buzz Books 2015 Brings First Look at Buzzed-About Spring/Summer Books

Publishers Lunch has two new editions in its free Buzz Books series, buzzed about as the first and best place for passionate readers and publishing insiders to discover and sample some of the most acclaimed books of the year, before they are published. Substantial excerpts from 65 of the most anticipated books coming this spring and summer are gathered in two new ebooks, BUZZ BOOKS 2015: Spring/Summer and BUZZ BOOKS 2015: Young Adult Spring, offered in consumer and trade editions (adult and YA). All are available free through NetGalley.

Book lovers get an early first look at books from actress and activist Maria Bello, \"Morning Joe\" co-host and bestselling author Mika Brzezinski, NPR/Weekend Edition’s Scott Simon, and bestselling fiction writers Dennis Lehane, Ann Packer, Ian Caldwell, and Neal Stephenson, among others. Highly touted debuts include Leslie Parry’s Church of Marvels, Erika Swyler’s The Book of Speculation, J. Ryan Stradal’s Kitchens of the Great Midwest, Christopher Robinson and Gavin Kovite’s War Of The Encyclopaedists, and Jessica Knoll’s Luckiest Girl Alive. From inside publishing, there’s Jonathan Galassi’s debut novel Muse, and George Hodgman’s memoir Bettyville.

The YA edition features the latest from Sarah Dessen, David Levithan, Barry Lyga, and Michael Buckley, plus renowned middle-grade authors including Newbery winner Rebecca Stead and Louis Sachar. There’s Alice Hoffman’s Nightbird, her first novel for this age range. We also get a first look at YA debut authors Margo Rabb, Maria Dahvana Headley, plus Paige McKenzie’s The Haunting of Sunshine Girl (adapted from the web series of the same name and already in development as a film from the Weinstein Company) and Sabaa Tahir’s debut An Ember In the Ashes (already sold to Paramount Pictures in a major deal).

Fourteen of the adult titles featured in last year’s Buzz Books 2014 were named to one or more major \"Best Books of 2014\" lists, and 18 became bestsellers. Of the 28 books published to date and previewed in the 2014 Fall/Winter edition, 19 have made \"best of the month/year\" lists and nine are New York Times bestsellers.

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9. 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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10. Another Day

What if you spent the perfect day with the one you love, but he or she doesn’t remember it the next morning? What if you then found out that your companion that day wasn't, in fact, the same person? A haunting companion to Levithan's Everyday, this is Rhiannon's side of the story and her search [...]

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11. Literary Events This Week: David Levithan and Mira Jacob

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12. Brené Brown & David Levithan Debut on the Indie Bestseller List

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13. David Levithan and Nina LaCour Collaborate on a New Book

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14. Free Samples of the 2016 Newbery Medal & Newbery Honor Winners

Market Street (GalleyCat)The American Library Association has announced that Last Stop on Market Street author Matt de la Peña is the winner of the prestigious John Newbery Medal. Throughout his career, de la Peña has written 6 young adult novels, 2 middle grade novels, and 2 picture books.

Last Stop on Market Street features illustrations created by Christian Robinson. Robinson earned a Caldecott Honor for this picture book.

We’ve linked to free samples of the Newbery Medal-winning title and the Newbery Honor books below. In addition to the newest winner of the Newbery Medal, the organization has also revealed that Finding Winnie illustrator Sophie Blackall has won the Randolph Caldecott Medal, Bone Gap author Laura Ruby has won the Michael L. Printz Award, Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda author Becky Albertalli has won the William C. Morris Award, and Boy Meets Boy author David Levithan has won the Margaret A. Edwards Award. Follow this link to access free samples from last year’s pool of Youth Media Award winners.

Free Samples of the ALA Youth Media Award Recognized Books

Newbery Medal Winner

Last Stop on Market Street written by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Christian Robinson

Newbery Honor Winners

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Roller Girl written and illustrated by Victoria Jamieson

Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan

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15. Finalists Unveiled for the 25th Annual Lambda Literary Awards

The Lambda Literary Foundation revealed the finalists for the 25th Annual Lambda Literary Awards. The “Lammy” awards honor the best lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) published works from 2012.

The nominated works in the 22 categories were picked by more than 90 booksellers, book reviewers, librarians, authors, and previous Lammy Award winners. The winners will be announced on June 3, 2013 at a ceremony in New York City. We’ve listed a few of this year’s nominees below.

Here’s more from the release: “Lambda Literary Foundation set a new record in 2013 for both the number of LGBT books submitted for Lammy consideration, 687, and the number of publishers participating, 332. This beats the record-setting numbers in 2012 of 600 titles by over 250 publishers and is the fourth consecutive year of growth in submissions and publishers.”


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16. When Can Changing Points Of View Work Really Well?

When you're not changing points of view, you're just changing bodies. That's what's happening in David Levithan's pretty fine book Every Day. A, the mysterious protagonist who doesn't know who or even what he is, wakes up every morning in a new body and has to live that person's life for him or her for the next twenty-four hours. So though every chapter is the story of A being a new person and dealing with that new life, he is always A. We're not really getting a point of view switch at all.

I'm still reading Wired for Story by Lisa Cron. One of the points that author makes is that humans are drawn to story because we evolved using it to help us survive, to help us determine and plan what we should do in various situations. Nowadays when reading fiction, the protagonists are stand ins for us, trying out different scenarios so we don't have to. If that is the case, Every Day is a treat for the brain, giving readers an opportunity to try out a large number of situations--being  diabetic, beautiful, gay, depressed, obese, nasty, and kind, just for starters.

The New York Time's review of the book made a big point about Every Day being a love story. Now that that's been pointed out to me, I guess it is. But A's basic situation and humanity are so engrossing that I didn't give that aspect of the book much thought.

A appears to be aging along with the bodies he inhabits, meaning that at some point he always woke up in a five-year-old's body and then a six-year-old's and now he's in his teens. I believe he's supposed to be in tenth or eleventh grade. I do feel he is a little too mature sometimes, a little too much like the only adult in the room.

But over all, the basic story is marvelous and the book is beautifully written. I had heard some talk of it last year, but I'm surprised I didn't hear more. I know it's been nominated for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy.

2 Comments on When Can Changing Points Of View Work Really Well?, last added: 3/8/2013
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17. Calling all New Yorkers: Come Meet us Tomorrow at Books of Wonder

Our No-Foolin’ Mega-Signing
18 West 18th Street
New York, New York

You want books? 
You want fine? 
You want signatures? 
You want to meet me and some of my friends? 
Join us.

Jessica Brody  (Unremembered, Macmillan)                         
Marisa Calin  (Between You and Me, Bloomsbury)             
Jen Calonita  (The Grass is Always Greener, LB)                 
Sharon Cameron  (The Dark Unwinding, Scholastic)                       
Caela Carter  (Me, Him, Them, and It, Bloomsbury)            
Crissa Chappell  (Narc, Flux)             
Susane Colasanti  (Keep Holding On, Penguin)                                
Zoraida Cordova  (The Vicious Deep, Sourcebooks)                        
Gina Damico   (Scorch, HMH)                                  
Jocelyn Davies  (A Fractured Light, HC)                  
Sarah Beth Durst  (Vessel, S&S)                               
Gayle Forman  (Just One Day, Penguin)
Elizabeth Scott  (Miracle, S&S)         

T. M. Goeglein (Cold Fury, Penguin)                                    
Hilary Weisman Graham (Reunited, S&S)                                                                            
Alissa Grosso  (Ferocity Summer, Flux)                                
Aaron Hartzler  (Rapture Practice, LB)         
Deborah Heiligman  (Intentions, RH)                       
Leanna Renee Hieber  (The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart, Sourcebooks)         
Jeff Hirsch  (Magisterium, Scholastic)                       
J. J. Howard  (That Time I Joined the Circus, Scholastic)                 
Alaya Johnson   (The Summer Prince, Scholastic)     
Beth Kephart (Small Damages, Penguin)                              
Kody Keplinger  (A Midsummer’s Nightmare, LB)

A.S. King  (Ask the Passengers, LB)                                    
Emmy Laybourne  (Monument 14, Macmillan)                                 
David Levithan  (Every Day, RH)    
Barry Lyga  (Yesterday Again, Scholastic)                           
Brian Meehl  (Suck it Up and Die, RH)                                
Alexandra Monir (Timekeeper, RH)  
Michael Northrop  (Rotten, Scholastic)                     
Diana Peterfreund  (For Darkness Shows the Stars, HC)                 
Lindsay Ribar (The Art of Wishing, Penguin)                      
Rainbow Rowell  (Eleanor & Park, St. Martin’s)                  
Kimberly Sabatini  (Touching the Surface, S&S)                  
Tiffany Schmidt  (Send Me a Sign, Bloomsbury)

Victoria Schwab  (The Archived, Hyperion) 
Jeri Smith-Ready  (Shine, S&S)
Amy Spalding  (The Reece Malcolm List, Entangled)                      
Stephanie Strohm  (Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink, HMH)                     
Nova Ren Suma  (17 & Gone, Penguin)                    
Greg Takoudes  (When We Wuz Famous, Macmillan)         
Mary Thompson  (Wuftoom, HMH) 
Jess Verdi  (My Life After Now, Sourcebooks)                                            
K.M. Walton  (Empty, S&S) 
Suzanne Weyn  (Dr. Frankenstein’s Daughters, Scholastic)                         
Kathryn Williams  (Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous, Macmillan)                   

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18. thanking David Levithan, Books of Wonder, Ed Goldberg, and New York City for a special Sunday

Yesterday, in New York City, I joined the great cast of writers that the truly great David Levithan had gathered at Books of Wonder, a store famous and hallowed and grand. I met a student with a future, a librarian with a heart, a blogger with whom I'd corresponded, an AP English teacher, a science fiction writer, a screenplay writer, super cool Wonder staff, others. K. M. Walton and I compared war stories (we always do; this time I won). A.S. King swore she'd been practicing her salsa (but I don't know; the girl does write fiction). David revealed some of the new work on his Scholastic list, and I sort of begged, I hope that's okay, for one of the ARCs.

(David Levithan did not reveal, however, how he maintains his fresh-faced good looks after his long and uber successful week of moderating and hosting countless (all right, so someone counted them, probably even David himself) YA panels and conversations.)

And then something else amazing happened: Ed Goldberg, who wrote to me following the launch of HOUSE OF DANCE and who has remained in touch ever since—a stalwart cheerleader in times both green and fallow, a teacher, a librarian, a garden lover, a dad, a man in love with his Susan—took the train into the city and surprised me. Yes, indeed, the surprise was gonzo. And Beth Kephart, born on April Fools' Day, does not easily surprise.

After the signing, I wove through New York City. I share my quick snapshots here.

On the train there and back, I was reading Elizabeth Graver's new novel, The End of the Point.Help me, Rhonda: I can't wait to tell you about her book. (That is, if you haven't already read about it everywhere, my friend Elizabeth now on bestseller lists everywhere.)

1 Comments on thanking David Levithan, Books of Wonder, Ed Goldberg, and New York City for a special Sunday, last added: 3/25/2013
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19. Book Review-Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Title: Boy Meets Boy
 Author: David Levithan
Series:  N/A

Published:  September 2003 by Knopf
Length: 192 pages
Source: publisher and netgalley
Other info: David Levithan co-authored Will Grayson, Will Grayson with John Green.
Summary : This is the story of Paul, a sophomore at a high school like no other: The cheerleaders ride Harleys, the homecoming queen used to be a guy named Daryl (she now prefers Infinite Darlene and is also the star quarterback), and the gay-straight alliance was formed to help the straight kids learn how to dance.
When Paul meets Noah, he thinks he’s found the one his heart is made for. Until he blows it. The school bookie says the odds are 12-to-1 against him getting Noah back, but Paul’s not giving up without playing his love really loud. His best friend Joni might be drifting away, his other best friend Tony might be dealing with ultra-religious parents, and his ex-boyfriend Kyle might not be going away anytime soon, but sometimes everything needs to fall apart before it can really fit together right. Review: Paul, who's known he's gay his entire life and lives in essentially a utopia for the LGBT community, doesn't have any problems. Until he meets Noah and falls in love.
I read this because everyone's just like “Yay! David Levithan!” and I wanted to know what all the fuss is about.
I think this would have been so much better if someone other than Paul was the main character.  Hopefully Tony, whose religious household means that he has to hide his feelings for other guys, or Kyle,  whose struggling with his sexuality. (I think) Both of them have much more interesting storylines than Paul, whose seems to be “I met a guy. I messed up. I want him back.” Paul himself isn't that interesting either, so having him as our main character didn't make me care too much for this book.
As I said, this is a utopia of sorts. The gay and straight scenes got mixed up. The only opposition to the LGBT community is from the overly religious, and there's none of the  outright or casual homophobia that is often seen in highschool environments. The star football player is a drag queen, and there's a small subculture. I'm reading it thinking “this is lovely and all, and I love the fact that there's very little discrimination and such, but it's just a bit too  optimistic; I can't see this happening in a contemporary, modern day setting”.
Apologies for the shortness of this review but I just sat there thinking “this is boring. Boring. Bored.” And couldn’t really formulate many thoughts past that.

Overall:  Strength 2 tea to a book where the side characters and plots make for much better stories than the main one we have.

1 Comments on Book Review-Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan, last added: 9/10/2013
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20. Two Boys Kissing

Two Boys Kissing David Levithan

After Tariq is beaten for being gay, Craig comes up with an idea, and his ex-boyfriend Harry is the only one who can help. Craig wants them to break the world record for kissing.

Tariq is filming and live-streaming it from multiple angles, so no one can question it. They’re doing it in public-- on the lawn of the high school.

We also have other stories woven through-- Peter and Neil, who live a few towns over and have been dating for over a year, Avery and Ryan, who meet at a gay prom the night before the kiss begins, and Cooper, who is closeted and struggling when his parents find out.

The kiss itself is the central plot-point, but what I found most powerful about the book is the narrator-- a generalized “we” of the gay men who died of AIDS in the 70s/80s. It was devastating and made me unexpectedly sob. I wonder if teens will find it as moving as I did, as they leave a lot unexplained. They mention how no one cared until a movie star and teenage hemophiliac died. When talking about the hate and violence, they mention the 19-year-old strung up along the highway. These are small, passing references to things I know and remember. Ok, I don’t remember Rock Hudson dying and he never meant much to me, but I do remember Ryan White. I remember his advocacy and his death. I most definitely remember Matthew Shepard's murder. I know what a huge effing dealPhiladelphia was when it came out. Do teens? And this isn’t to say they won’t “get” the book, or enjoy it, but just that the emotional impact readers of a certain age are getting won’t transfer over.

I love love love love that there’s a trans character. I love that while it creates fear and uncertainty in his life (well, I don’t love that bit, but it’s realistic) it’s not a big deal for the narrators. They never question that Avery is a boy, that he’s a gay boy. They just feel for him that much more because he’s carrying around that much more. Handled so well.

And, let’s just talk about the cover, shall we?

Two boys kissing. You know what this means.

For us, it was a secret gesture. Secret because we were afraid. Secret because we were ashamed. Secret because it was story that nobody was telling.

But what power it had. Whether we cloaked it in the guise of You be the boy and I’ll be the girl, or whether we defiantly called it by its name, when we kissed, we know how powerful it was. Our kisses were seismic. When seen by the wrong person, they could destroy us. When shared with the right person, they had the power of confirmation, the force of destiny.

If you put enough closets together, you have enough space for a room. If you put enough rooms together, you have space for a house. If you put enough houses together, you have space for a town, then a city, then a nation, then a world.

We knew the private power of our kisses. Then came the first time we were witnesses, the first time we saw it happen out in the open. For some of us, it was before we ourselves had ever been kissed. We fled our towns, came to the city, and there on the streets we saw two boys kissing for the first time. And the power now what the power of possibility. Over time, it wasn’t just on the street or in the clubs or at the parties we threw. It was in the newspaper. On television. In movies. Every time we saw two boys kissing like that, the power grew…

Every time two boys kiss, it opens up the world a little more. Your world. The world we left. The world we left you.

And now there are two boys kissing on the cover of a major release book aimed at teens.

Book Provided by... my local library

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21. Cassandra Clare to Follow Up ‘Mortal Instruments’ with Three New Book Series

Last night, novelist Cassandra Clare headlined a 92Y event to celebrate the launch of the sixth and final book in The Mortal Instruments series, City of Heavenly Fire. Fellow writers Maureen Johnson, Holly Black, Kelly Link, and David Levithan joined her on stage. The group kicked off the night by reading a series of voice mail messages that were recorded by the protagonists some time in between book five, City of Lost Souls, and book six. Johnson announced that this material would be featured in the print edition of The Bane Chronicles; this short story collection is due out for release on November 11, 2014. At one point during the night, Black teased that Clare plans to have "lots of fairies" in the stories of her forthcoming new series, The Dark Artifices. In addition to the first installment of Dark Artifices, Clare's fans have plenty of projects to look forward to including the middle-grade Magisterium series co-written with Black and a trilogy set in the Edwardian era called The Last Hours. What do you think? (Photo Credit: Joyce Culver)

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22. David Levithan Inks Deal For Musical YA Novel

David Levithan, a New York Times bestselling author and Scholastic editorial director, has landed a deal with Dutton Children’s Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group.

Levithan plans to pen a musical novel entitled Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story. Fans will recall that this musical was featured in the collaborative novel written by Levithan and The Fault in Our Stars author John Green, Will Grayson, Will Grayson. For this project, he plans to share the full script.

Publisher Julie Strauss-Gabel negotiated the deal with William Morris Endeavor literary agent Bill Clegg. She will edit the manuscript herself. A release date has been set for March 2015 to honor the fifth anniversary of the publication of Will Grayson, Will Grayson.


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23. Lover's Dictionary

The Lover's Dictionary: A Novel David Levithan

Levithan makes the jump from YA to adult with something breathtaking in its simplicity and originality.

The story is basic enough, a couple, you and me, how we met, how we fell in love, how we moved in together, how we met each other’s friends and families, how we spend our time. You drink too much. You cheated on me. I don’t know if I can get past it, how we get past it.

But it’s not told in a basic manner, rather it’s a dictionary, in alphabetical order, with parts of the story coming out for each definition. Some definitions are a sentence or two. Some last for a page. What I really love is when the same part of the story is used for different words, with the story continuing, or emphasizing details that changes the meaning, and our understanding of it.

deciduous, adj. I couldn’t believe one person could own so many pairs of shoes and still buy new ones every year.

fluke, n. The date before the one with you had gone so badly --egoist, smoker, bad breath--that I’d vowed to delete my profile the next morning. Except when I went to do it, I realized I only had eight days left in the billing cycle. So I gave it eight days. You emailed me on the sixth.

It’s a short book-- only 211 pages, with most pages only have a paragraph on them, but it takes awhile to read. There are lines you have to read between and fill in, the story is out of order, and part of you just wants to savor the way it unfolds before you.

Ever since Boy Meets Boy, I’ve loved Levithan’s love stories, and this one is no different, even if it is between adults and is a bit more cynical (but just a bit--there’s still the wide-eyed exuberance, even if it’s a little quieter--it’s just hiding under the surface a bit.)

I love the craft of this one, but it’s Levithan’s writing and story that make it go beyond gimmick into something worth taking the time to savor. (Seriously--there’s a reason it’s an Outstanding Book for the College Bound)

Book Provided by... my local library

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24. Jackson Pearce & Maggie Stiefvater to Partner On a New Middle Grade Series

ScholasticHighResJackson Pearce and Maggie Stiefvater are collaborating on a new middle grade series entitled Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures.

Pearce will pen the story and Stiefvater will create the artwork. Stiefvater has become well-known for her popular young adult fiction books; this project marks her debut as a children’s books illustrator.

Scholastic editorial director David Levithan negotiated the deal with Laura Rennert from the Andrea Brown Literary Agency and Josh Adams from Adams Literary. Levithan secured world rights; the publishing house plans to release the first installment in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.

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25. ReedPOP & We Need Diverse Books Team Up For BookCon

BookCon EventReedPOP and We Need Diverse Books have established a partnership. The collaborators plan to organize two panels that will take place during BookCon 2015.

The first panel, scheduled for May 30th, will focus on the Science Fiction and Fantasy genre with participation from Kameron Hurley, Ken Liu, Nnedi Okorafor, Daniel Jose Older, and Joe Monti. The second panel, scheduled for May 31st, will feature appearances from Jacqueline Woodson, Sherman Alexie, Libba Bray, David Levithan, and Meg Medina.

Here’s more from the press release: “We Need Diverse Books was part of last year’s inaugural BookCon playing host to a standing room only panel full of thought-provoking conversation and enthusiastic readers. The overwhelming response from fans and the rapid ascent of We Need Diverse Books, which grew from a social media awareness campaign into a global movement, set the stage for the partnership to expand at this year’s show.”

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