Saturday, July 13, 2013

24 Young Adult Fiction Pick and Mix - July 13th Edition Plus THE SECRET INGREDIENT Giveaway

Young Adult Fiction Thought for the Week

Parents need to stop thinking they are "protecting their children" when they try to ban books that contain difficult subject matter. This week, Laurie Halse Anderson's beautiful book SPEAK was labeled child pornography. PORNOGRAPHY! Seriously, people? The rape is barely mentioned. And certainly not gratuitously. The book is about what happens in the aftermath. But that's not the worst part. You have to read Laurie's post.

Leave it to Judy Blume to get it right.
"Parents are always going to be anxious over how fast their children grow up. It's easy to dismiss these people as loons, but smarter for kids, school systems, and writers alike to instead try to make them understand that a book isn't going to blindside a child with ugliness or pain. Instead, encountering something tough on the page lets kids know that they aren't alone in their troubles—or makes them more ready for the realities that are coming for them as an inevitable part of growing up, no matter how hard their parents try to protect them. As Parker Posey's bookstore clerk told Louie last season, as he searched for a good read for his daughter: “Some of these books will let her take these feelings, these emotions, out for a safe kind of spin.” 
And there is simply NO reality in which bullying a kid should be a reality that any parent supports. Perhaps if Richard Swier in Florida had read a few more books while he was growing up, he might have developed some more empathy and compassion. 

Young Adult Novel of the Week

I reread SPEAK, because the controversy reminded me that the book was written for teens. Teens who may face the same situation as victims, as bystanders, as friends of a victim, or friends of a someone who steps (or bulldozes) over the line of social or criminal behavior.

Read SPEAK. Talk about it. Speak up.

Buy it on Amazon | Buy it on IndieBound | View it on Goodreads

I also loved:

The Murmurings by Carly Anne West

Creepy. Beautifully written. Unexpected. I love that it is layered and not what it seems, and did I mention beautifully written?

Like Free Young Adult Novels? 

Fill out the form below to win one of TWO copies of THE SECRET INGREDIENT.

For fans of Sarah Dessen and Jay Asher's 13 Reasons Whycomes a journey of family, food, romance, and self-discovery as Olivia, a teen chef living in L.A., finds a vintage cookbook and begins a search for her birthmother that will change her life forever.
Olivia doesn’t believe in psychics. But the summer before her senior year of high school, she meets one in an elevator.

This summer will be pivotal, the psychic warns. Please remember—all your choices are connected.
Olivia loves her life in Silverlake, Los Angeles, but lately, something’s been missing. And after getting this strange advice, her world begins to change. A new job leads Olivia to a gorgeous, mysterious boy named Theo. And as Olivia cooks the recipes from a vintage cookbook she stumbles upon, she begins to wonder if the mother she’s never known might be the secret ingredient she’s been lacking.
But sometimes the things we search for are the things we’ve had all along.

Buy on Amazon | Buy on IndieBound | View on Goodreads

More Young Adult Giveaways:


What's Hot to Watch? Two Young Adult Book Trailers

  • How to Graffiti A Car (The Dream Thieves Style) by Maggie Stiefvater

  • The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Thoughts on Reading



Young Adult Reader of the Week: D from The Lovely Getaway


This is D, she's a book blogger over at The Lovely Getaway. She's an avid reader addicted to YA fiction. She's not afraid to reach through books and slap characters upside the head when they make bad decisions. When she's not reading, she's bankrupting her personal checkings account by attending every fabulous author event on the west coast. She loves futbol, or soccer, and will one day marry Chelsea FC's striker, Fernando Torres. She believes in sharing the love of books and is often hosting giveaways. Check out her blog or follow her on twitter, @Bookish_D
 * Want to be the reader of the week next week? Leave a comment on our Thursday or Friday posts! 

Young Adult Writer/Blogger of the Week: Julie Musil


Julie is a tireless supporter of all things writing and reading. As a writer of young adult books, she is also a brilliant writing analyst. I adore her Writing Lessons Learned From series, in which she produces fabulous, universal truths from a young adult novel she has recently read. I would pick Julie anyway, because her blog is fabulous and I want to share it. But I also have to mention that she wrote a post about my book deal last week that made me break down and cry. She is absolutely a lovely person, as well as a talented writer and blogger. If you are one of the few people who hasn't discovered Julie yet, do yourself a favor and fix that now. Don't forget to check out articles like these:

* Want to be the blogger of the week next week? Leave a comment. I'll pick from among the bloggers who leave comments here on the blog today through Wednesday.

Writing Tips



Writing Tip of the Week
Writing Inspiration

More Writing Inspiration

Beautiful Young Adult Writing
“I have survived. I am here. Confused, screwed up, but here. So, how can I find my way? Is there a chain saw of the soul, an ax I can take to my memories or fears?” 
~ Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak
Publishing News and Trends
Need a few more bookish things to think or talk about? How about a few more of my favorites.
Just for Laughs
What About You?
What are you reading? Writing? Have any quotes or thoughts you'd like to share? Did you find or write any book reviews or blog posts you want to let people know about?


  1. I think it's SO important to let our children experience difficult topics through books. But it's most effective if we read the books too and TALK ABOUT IT with them!! Sometimes, it's easier for a child to open up about a difficult topic when they have a fictional account to turn it into "safe ground." They don't have to say "Mom, I'm worried about my friend." Instead, they can say "Mom, what would you do if you were the friend of this main character, dealing with depression (or whatever the issue may be)?" Keeping kids locked away from the harshness of the real world, in order to protect them, only serves to ensure that they'll be unprepared to face the real world when they're off on their own as adults.

    1. Excellent point, Veronica! Books are a safe place for kids to pre-process situations all on their own while they judge (as we always do) how the characters are acting and reacting. Talking to them about deeply emotional books can be tricky though, unless *we* can keep from seeming judgy in the process. I don't know if you are all better at achieving that than I am. My approach is always more about biting my tongue and listening. (Not always successfully!) And trying to embrace the fact that my kids are going to make mistakes just like i did. But hopefully they are going to be smaller mistakes. And I do believe, passionately, that reading books like SPEAK will help if they find themselves in a situation where the decisions are hard and the consequences are painful no matter what they choose.

  2. I often wonder if the people who want to ban the books have ever read them and if they've ever worked with kids. Do they understand how kids/teens think/feel? I think most people forget how much our young people need to deal with and how very smart and capable they are. Learning coping strategies from reading a book is very healthy!

    1. The article by the guy in Florida cites specific page numbers with specific things that are objectionable. It's done in a way that makes it crystal clear that he (and the parents he speaks of) are unaware of what actually happens in middle school and high school. The things that kids deal with every single day, what they see happening around them, and what they may feel pressured to join. It also makes it clear that rather than reading the book objectively and interpreting what the mc ACTUALLY says, they are skimming, looking for things to object about.

  3. Julie is an awesome blogger and Speak is a fabulous and important book. It also does not meet the definition of pornography which in my dictionary is defined as "intended to incite lascivious feelings." Seriously, some people need to find something better to do with their time than try to ferret out books to ban.

    1. Do you think they are looking for books to ban, or trying to convince themselves that they can control the environment their children live in by sheltering the kids from the dangers the parent can see? I suspect it's a mix of things. There are parents who genuinely don't know the language in SPEAK is in the hallway of every middle school, and that their kids are hearing classmates talk about engaging in sex in sixth and seventh grades--yes, even in private schools. But then there are people like the guy in the article, and I suspect they make the books an issue as a political maneuver, a way to gain support and become leaders of a group of wishful thinkers. I don't know.

      Have you encountered people like this? What do you say to them?

  4. I read SPEAK just a few months ago and thought it was an amazing book. I've recommended it to several friends since. I have no idea how it can fit anyone's definition of pornography. As you said, the rape is hardly mentioned. It's the aftereffects and the fear that's dealt with. In some cases with these people who jump on the book-banning wagon they haven't even read the book(s).

    1. I agree! And I think you've done the best thing that we can do with banned books we love. Share them. Let them speak for themselves.

  5. SPEAK is an amazing book - we need books that touch the soul. My (high school) son loved it and felt it should be on the reading list for all kids. I asked him what he thought about the rape - he said that the book was about way more than that. He also said "it'll be banned for sure". Because it's honest and tough and straightforward and deals with issues people are afraid of.
    I mean - look at the Texas legislature this past week!

    1. I agree, Sue. The world is so tough to navigate these days. It's fantastic that your son was able to read SPEAK and see its importance, and even better that he was able to share his thoughts with you! That says a lot about your relationship with him, too.

  6. I just cannot wait for Coldest Girl in Coldtown. I adore Holly Black. As for banning books, I scoff at the very idea. It's so barbaric. Especially looking at the list every year. It's only one of the MANY things that are wrong with this country. Don't even get me started.

    1. I know, right? I have to,say, I was about done with vampires, but it is Holly Black!!! Mad this feels like a fresh take. I can't wait to read it.

  7. Haven't heard of these books before

  8. Judy Blume's comments are thought surprise there!

    1. Judy Blume is incredible! I was lucky enough to see her give a keynote at an SCBWI-LA conference, and she was electrifying. Such an inspiration. I would love to be a fly on her shoulder while she writes.

  9. I would love to read these books. These topics need to be read about and discussed with our children so they know what is right and wrong and to not make the same misstakes. Thanks for the giveaway.

  10. DEFINITELY against book banning, because honestly what's with censoring life? It's not as if teens live in a protected utopian world. They need books that talk about their issues openly and sometimes they can't go to their parents, their teachers don't want to get involved and they need these books!!

    Thank you:)

    I'd love to win one of the two books - I entered the form but it says it's for a critique. Hope it's the right form:)

    1. I'm sorry -- I must have copied the wrong form. No worries, Christina. You are entered!

  11. So much info in one post - I'm in awe!

  12. It never ceases to amaze me what books people will object to young people reading. Speak is such an important, powerful book. The good news is when people try to ban good books, it generally backfires and more people read the book than otherwise would.

    The Secret Ingredient looks like a really good book. I, too, hope the form is for the drawing for the book. I'm filling it out in that hopel.

    1. It is, Rosi! I'm so sorry. I'm going to go fix that right now. :)

      And yes. Luckily, it does seem that all publicity is good publicity. Of course, we ALL know that when you tell a teenager not to do something they NEVER do it, right? :)

  13. Hi Martina! awesome post!! Thanks so much for picking me as this week's reader :D wooo! And thanks for this giveaway, you are too kind! Good luck to everyone entering *crosses fingers*


  14. The only books that should be banned are the ones that teach you to make bombs and such. I love Speak and recommend it to everyone. YA needs to deal with tough issues, because teens sure are!

  15. OMG, Martina! I just got back from vacation and saw this post. You are way, WAY too kind. Thanks so much for the kind shout out. Truly.

    SPEAK is an awesome book, with a touchy subject that should be discussed! My opinion? Banning the books only makes people curious, which causes more people to read the book. Our job as parents is to talk to kids about this stuff, and hopefully prepare them for the real world.

    Again, thanks SO much. See? You're ALWAYS giving :) <33


Tell us what you think. We'd love to hear from you! :)