Teen Read Week: Ten Books for Reluctant Readers!

For those of you who may be unaware, order this week is Teen Read Week, a week of celebrating the books for teens and encouraging teens to read. All over the country, its celebrated as the third week of October, by the Young Adult Library Services Association. Libraries all over the country are doing some seriously amazing and fun stuff to encourage teens to read.

This year’s “sub-theme” is Seek the Unknown, encouraging teens to delve into worlds unknown with books in mystery, science fiction, adventure and fantasy.

This is the first year I’ve been aware of this, probably because I’m more involved with the book world, as a blogger, and I have to say: this is awesome, and I’m WAY thrilled about it.

I was a little disappointed that most of my local libraries aren’t doing anything for Teen Read Week, mostly because they’re kind of small, and because I still do think that some of these smaller libraries, that don’t have Teen Services Librarians, tend to not focus on the Teens. However, there ARE a lot of libraries all over the place that ARE doing things. As you guys know, I went to the Los Angeles Teen Book Fest, which was a kick off to this week. The Pasadena Public Library is having a YA Book Swap at their branch this coming Saturday (which I am SUPER looking forward to). There is DEFINITELY cool stuff going on.

But I love this. I love the idea of this, of having a whole week (though I do this everyday) of encouraging teens to read, through different methods. I think its fantastic. Its becoming more and more obvious how important it is to read and to be a proficient reader. Reading is a huge passion of mine, obviously, and it means a lot to me. I try every day on my blog to instill that passion into anyone who comes to say hello and I’m really excited.

So I decided in celebration of Teen Read Week that I would recommend ten books, ten books that I’ve read and loved, for reluctant readers. I want you to keep in mind that these are MY choices, but they are books that I love that I think can both reach out to those who already love books and reach out to those who feel uncomfortable with books, or just don’t know where to start with reading.

I also tried to keep it balanced in the favor of both genders. I think that all books that are written are written for everyone, and that everyone can enjoy them, but I think that boys, especially, tend to think of most YA books as for girls, and this is simply not true. All the books below are ones that I think both genders can enjoy, and I think adults will enjoy them as well.

Winger by Andrew Smith 

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Andrew Smith’s standalone novels follows fourteen year old Ryan Dean as he embarks on his junior year of high school, with the usual trials and tribulations of an awkward teen boy. From playing (and fighting) on the rugby field to being absolutely awkward with girls, and getting in trouble left and right, this book is full of so much humor, you’ll be wiping tears from your face through out the entire novel. Its a GREAT novel, and Ryan Dean is a character that you literally love from page one. You’re in the head of Ryan Dean, completely, and so you get his humor and his random thoughts, and his fears and doubts and its just a fantastic novel. Andrew Smith has an uncanny ability of capturing exactly what its like to be a teenager, and its an up and down ride the entire novel. Its the first novel that pops in my head when anyone asks for a recommendation.

Legend by Marie Lu

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When it comes to dystopian novels, most people tend to recommend The Hunger Games, Divergent, Unwind, amongst others, but the first one that I recommend is Legend, because I think its the best of them all. This is not to say that those books aren’t good, because they are! I’m a huge fan of them, as you guys will know. But Legend stands out to me, and I believe Marie Lu is a champion in the dystopian genre (yeah, I totally just pulled that pun off). Marie’s story takes place in Los Angeles, between two points of view: Day and June. Day is a teen boy who turns to a life of criminal activity after he fails his trials, and escapes from his placement in the labor camps. He does anything and everything he can to support the family that he has left behind. June has grown up in a life of privilege and luxury, scoring the highest score possible in her trials, and being groomed for a military career. When Day is accused of murdering June’s brother, a path emerges that will lead them together and uncover many secrets. I recommend this one above other because it feels so real, and its an easy, quick read, and Marie creates an amazing story with the two main characters, and its easy to speed through this.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green 

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Again, not the most likely book that people recommend when it comes to John Green. Most people recommend either The Fault in Our Stars or Looking for Alaska. I HIGHLY recommend both of those, definitely, and am looking forward to the TFIOS movie. Its going to be great. But the reason I recommend An Abundance of Katherines, besides the fact that it is my favorite, is because it isn’t heartbreaking like the other two. There’s nothing wrong with heartbreak, nothing at all but I think sometimes a teen could use a break from that, with just a good ‘ol fashioned coming of age story. The story follows genius Colin, who has been dumped 19 times, all by girls that are named Katherine. As he embarks on a road trip with his best friend, he’s determined to find his Eureka! moment in the form of a formula that determines what went wrong with all those Katherines. Its a beautiful coming-of-age, discovery novel with Colin, and it has the usual John Green humor, and its just a great novel. Its my favorite because its the one novel of John Green’s that I really think most teens can see themselves.

Airhead by Meg Cabot

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Yay! Time for some super awesome humor. I recommend ALL Meg Cabot books for reluctant readers because Meg writes as if she’s talking to a best friend, as if she is sitting next to you, a caramel frappacino in hand, telling you these stories. She is full of humor, and fast paced stories, and each story is like a juicy piece of gossip in your hands. Airhead tells the story of Em, an extremely smart girl, in love with her best friend, Christopher, and incapable of really being a “girl”. After a freak accident, Em’s brain is transplanted into the body of America’s hottest top model, Nikki Howard. Of course, there is way more to the story, and Em finds out the sinister nature in how she ended up in this body. Like so many of her books, its of a crazy, impossible nature and its full of a ton of humor. Meg Cabot has a way of making me laugh like no other author has ever made me laugh. Her books are light, and fun, and they’re easy to read, and they’re the first books that I read in the YA area, when I was twelve years old. I will always recommend her because of her ability to make people want to read.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

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I will forever recommend this book because the boy wizard has a way of turning people into readers. You can’t talk about young adult books or having an effect on reading and readers without bringing up Harry Potter. I’ve seen it happen over and over again, people reading Harry Potter and suddenly having a higher interest in reading. It did with my sister and I think it did with my boyfriend too. Jon has always read but after I basically forced him to read them, and now he reads all the time. Harry Potter is a much easier read than people think, and it captures nearly everyone who reads it. I hardly ever meet people who read the books and don’t love them. I’ve met people who are SO incredibly reluctant to read the books, for whatever reasons, and when they read them, they become their favorites. Harry Potter has a way of spanning generations and telling a story that is completely timeless. It breaks your heart, makes you laugh, introduces you to a new world and yet feels as familiar as waking up. Put this book in anyone’s hands and tell me that they won’t love it, and I’ll tell you that they are crazy haha.

Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

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It took me a long time to read Percy Jackson. I first picked up the books when The Lost Hero, the first book of the spin-off series, came out, that’s how long it took me. But when I did, I was so incredibly mad at myself for waiting SO long to read them. They are amazing books, and I think they really appeal to children because they’re the part of history and English that we learn in school that always sorts of sticks with us. I know that the Greeks and their mythology are one of those things that always sticks out to me about school, and I know its an interesting subject in school and I think Rick Riordan really capitalizes on that but also just tells an awesome story. He tells the story of Percy Jackson, a normal boy who finds out that he is actually a demigod, the son of his mortal mother, and his god father, Poseidon. They are full of fun and adventure, and yes a little bit of education too. I adore these books and I find most kids love them because of how fun and easy they are to read. There’s a reason that Rick only hits about 8 places when doing a book tour, and they sell out in minutes and range in the thousands when it comes to number of guests. He’s a winner.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

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Charlie writes his story to “Dear Friend”, of his life as an outsider in high school, trying to find friends, falling in love, dating and so much more. I’ve literally never met a person that read this book and didn’t like it. I would love to meet the person who didn’t, if only to get into a really fun discussion on why. You know me, I love to talk books. But there’s a reason that this is the whole novel that has been published by Stephen (though he told us back in May that he’s working on something new, finally!). Its that this book continues to reach out to teenagers, ever since its publication back in 1999. Every single teenager tends to feel like an outsider and Charlie is the ultimate outsider, and its beautiful and wonderful to follow his story, and to read his letters to “Dear Friend”. Everyone that I talk to that has read this book has loved it, and its the kind of book that you can read as a teenager, read as an adult and continuing reading it and it still has resonance, it still effects you.

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

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Yes, Cassandra Clare wrote a Harry Potter fan fiction that had a wee bit of plagiarism in it. Yes, Cassandra Clare took some elements of her fan fiction (the parts that WERE NOT plagiarized) and implemented them into her Mortal Instruments trilogy. You know what I say to that? Who cares? Most of the people who are saying this haven’t read her books and I have found that these books make incredible gateway to even more books. Cassandra Clare tells the story of Clary, a normal teen girl that witnesses a murder in a club, a murder than no one else can see. Not long after, her  mother is kidnapped and she is thrown into the world of Shadowhunters, humans with angel blood who have a mandate to rid the world of its demon infestation. From the moment I started reading these, I was addicted, and I remain addicted. I know so many people who have dove into these books and come out with a desire to read. Cassandra’s books are dark and funny, and sexy and easy to read. They’re adventurous and fast paced and its a great book to hand out, to get teens interested in reading.

If I Stay  by Gayle Forman

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Gayle Forman is an awesome contemporary writer, and the best part of her books, for a reluctant reader, is that they are fairly short. This book is only 200 pages, and its an easy and addicting read. Mia is in a tragic, terrible accident and she is rushed to the hospital, with horrible injuries. She is outside her body, witnessing her body as its at the scene, as it is transported to the hospital and as her family and friends gather around, hoping she’ll wake up. Mia alternately relives moments of her past, while contemplating her future, whether to fight and wake up, or whether to let go. Its a beautiful written novel, and the layers that she manages to convey in only 200 pages is brilliant. Her books are so emotional and haunting and they leave a mark on you when you read them. Because of their ease, their fast paced nature, the shortness of the book and the beautiful story, it is easy for a reluctant reader to get involved in this book.

The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

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Jack Swift is living in Ohio, playing soccer, and being a normal kid until one day he skips his medicine, and he is suddenly stronger and faster than before, and he nearly kills a kid on his soccer. It turns out that Jack is part of an underground society of Weir, people born with stones in them that make them warriors, wizards, sorcerers, enchanters and seers. Jack Swift is a warrior, and warriors are far and few between and when they’re found, the tyrannical wizards throw them together in a deadly tournament for entertainment. Cinda is a brilliant author that writes an amazing fantasy novel, but what makes her great for a reluctant reader is that she’s not so steeped in the fantasy that you’ll feel turned off by it. Its our world, the world we know and our familiar with, but turned upside down. As Jack learns about this crazy new world, so do you, and its a fun, adventurous book.

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I hope you all check out these books and that you pass these, and books that YOU recommend, out to those who haven’t found the passion of reading yet!

I hope that you all have a great Teen Read Week, and that there are awesome things going on near you! Check out your local libraries and bookstores to find out :)

What are some of your favorite books to recommend to those who are reluctant to read? Share them in the comments!

YALL Fest Interview: Cinda Williams Chima

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In a little less than two months, approved an amazing event is taking place in Charleston, South Carolina called YALL Fest. A ton of wonderful young adult authors are descending upon Charleston for this one day, FREE event, and I am envious of any and all people who are attending the event. There are going to be some seriously amazing authors going to be there like:

Leigh Bardugo, Libba Bray, Rae Carson, Cinda Chima, Rachel Cohn, Ally Condie, Melissa de la Cruz, Gayle Forman, Kami Garcia, Lev Grossman, Shannon Hale, Michelle Hodkin, Ellen Hopkins, David Levithan, Marie Lu, Tahereh Mafi, Lisa McMann, Alyson Noel, Lauren Oliver, Stephanie Perkins, Ransom Riggs, Veronica Rossi, Veronica Roth, and so many more.

This is sure to be an absolutely incredible event.

I am lucky enough to be part of the blog team to promote this as much as possible. Over the next few weeks, there will be a couple dozen of us posting interviews with some of these authors, and telling you more about this seriously awesome event.

Just a note: these interviews are all the same, and they will be on several websites. These are NOT exclusive interviews, and I did not copy this from other sites. We are all working together to promote this!

Now, I am excited about this first interview because the author is someone that I admire greatly, greatly, greatly…Cinda Williams Chima.

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She is a young adult fantasy writer, with two series under her belt. Her completed Seven Realms series is an epic fantasy, taking place in a beautifully built world and following the story of a headstrong princess Raisa and her efforts to keep her queendom together and the quick and clever Han, who discovers a secret about himself and has to conquer it. Her Heir Chronicles series contains, so far, three novels that are contemporary fantasy, following various characters like Jack and Ellen, Seph, Madison, and more on their adventures to discover their different powers and to take down the tyrannical leaders that rule over them all. Her fourth installment in the series, The Enchanter Heir, will hit bookstores on October 1st, 2013, and she’ll embark on a tour for this book (and she’s coming to California!). The Enchanter Heir can be read as the fourth book or it can be read as the first book.

You can find her at her website here.

Enjoy this short interview!

Q: What one thing do you need to have when you write?

Cinda: A computer

Q: Describe your book in 5 words

Cinda: Wizards misbehave, magic goes mutant.

Q: What is the hardest line to write- the first or the last?

Cinda: Usually the lines in between.

 Q: Best writing tip you ever received?

Cinda: Give yourself permission to write badly.

 Q: Tell us 5 random facts about yourself.

Cinda: 1.       I am a twin.

2.       I am named after a character in a novel.

3.       I didn’t really start driving until I was 27.

4.       I am descended from Puritans and scoundrels.

5.       I used to be in a folk music band.

Q: Where’s your favorite place to write?

Cinda: On a balcony overlooking the ocean.

Q: What are you working on now?

Cinda: I’m writing The Sorcerer Heir, the fifth book in a trilogy.

Q: At what point in the development of an idea do you know that it will become a full-length novel?

Cinda: When I’m finished with a full-length novel.

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I hope you enjoyed that short and sweet interview and come back for more coming soon!

Don’t forget to check out my interview with Cinda Williams Chima, from back in June, and also don’t forget to enter my current giveaway, where you can win a SIGNED Advanced Readers Copy of The Enchanter Heir!

Happy Reading!

Book of the Week-The Enchanter Heir ARC Review

I absolutely adore Cinda Williams Chima. In the year that I have been reading her books, thumb she has easily become one of my favorite authors. Her Seven Realms series literally blew me out of the water, and her Heir Chronicles proved that it had the contemporary fantasy genre in the palm of its hands. She is a brilliant writer, and she has great world building and fantasy stories and fantastic characters. She is an author that I have fell in love with, and I am addicted to the world that she created.

I am constantly trying to recommend her books to people. Because I run a book blog, because people know me as a person who loves to read, I am constantly asked for recommendations on books and in the past year, both the Seven Realms and the Heir Chronicles have been some of the first books to come out of my mouth. I’ve told Cinda herself a million times that I absolutely love her books, and the awesome, awesome lady send me an advanced copy of the book, signed personally to me.

What is even BETTER is that she sent me an extra signed copy for YOU guys :)

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Now before you run away because this is the fourth book of the Heir Chronicles, let me stress this! While this is the fourth book of the series, it is NOT necessary to read the first three to read this. So if you enjoy this review, please definitely check it out and keep an eye out for the giveaway coming VERY soon!

The Enchanter Heir ARC by Cinda Williams Chima 

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GoodReads / Amazon Barnes and Noble

This book will hit bookstores on October 1st, 2013. 

Genre:

young adult, fantasy

Part of a Series?

Yes. This is the fourth installment of the Heir Chronicles.

HOWEVER, this book can be read without reading the previous three books. There are familiar faces from the first three, but this is an entirely new story.

You May Like if You Liked:

Books by OR Melling, Joseph Delaney, Tamora Pierce, Sarah J Maas, Michael Scott, etc.

Plot Summary:

Now, normally I do plot summaries on my own because I really love doing that. But I started doing it and realized I was not giving this book and story the credit it deserved and I really like the summary that is on GoodReads and therefore that is what I decided to put here!

Direct from GoodReads, and word-for-word from the back cover:

They called it the Thorn Hill Massacre—the brutal attack on a once-thriving Weir community. Though Jonah Kinlock lived through it, he did not emerge unscathed: like the other survivors, Jonah possesses unique magical gifts that set him apart from members of the mainline guilds. At seventeen, Jonah has become the deadliest assassin in Nightshade, a global network that hunts the undead. He is being groomed to succeed Gabriel Mandrake, the sorcerer, philanthropist, and ruthless music promoter who established the Thorn Hill Foundation, the public face of Nightshade. More and more, Jonah’s at odds with Gabriel’s tactics and choice of targets. Desperate to help his dying brother Kenzie, Jonah opens doors that Gabriel prefers to keep closed.

Emma Claire Greenwood grew up worlds away, raised by a grandfather who taught her music rather than magic. An unschooled wild child, she runs the streets until the night she finds her grandfather dying, gripping a note warning Emma that she might be in danger. The clue he leaves behind leads Emma into Jonah’s life—and a shared legacy of secrets and lingering questions.

Was Thorn Hill really a peaceful commune? Or was it, as the Wizard Guild claims, a hotbed of underguild terrorists? The Wizards’ suspicions grow when members of the mainline guilds start turning up dead. They blame Madison Moss and the Interguild Council, threatening the fragile peace brokered at Trinity.

Racing against time, Jonah and Emma work to uncover the truth about Thorn Hill, amid growing suspicion that whoever planned the Thorn Hill Massacre might strike again.

The Bad:

That it ended? Seriously, when it ended, I almost felt my heart break into two pieces because I realized that it would be such a long wait until I get to read the next one. I already got this book about a month early as it is, and I’m not sure when the sequel is going to come out, or even what the title is. Its been rumored that The Sorcerer Heir is the possible title but there is NOTHING confirmed, at least according to her website. I hope that we hear something soon because this book was GOOD, and I can’t wait to read more about Jonah and Emma.

The Good:

I love all the characters of the Heir Chronicles. I love Jack and Ellen and Seph and Linda and Madison and all of them, and I’ve enjoyed the three previous books. However, there is something about both Jonah and Emma that had me hooked almost immediately. These characters felt so real and so likable right away. I didn’t stop for a second to give them more thought than just “I need to know what happens to these two characters”. Emma and Jonah are two very different characters. Jonah wants to care so much but its hard for him to get close to people because of his dangerous power. He is also aware of what he is, and where he came from. Emma, on the other hand, is unaware of her own background at first, and when she does realize it, she has a much easier time letting people in, even though she has every right to have grudges against. They both have the same sort of mysteries on their hands, they both have such similar backgrounds and yet they tend to push each other away and not trust each other, even when everything is screaming at them to be together, to work together, to figure things out together.

The story is so beautiful, too. Its not what I expected at all. With everything that had happened in the previous three books, it was almost difficult to see how the story could continue and yet not at the same time. This book takes place in the same universe as the first three books but its a new story, new characters, new situation. This made me incredibly wary. I have a sort of caution when it comes to series that go longer than a trilogy. I feel like there are very few authors that can accomplish this, and accomplish this well. I was immensely disappointed in Cassandra Clare’s City of Fallen Angels, and so I’ve been very wary of continuing stories, when the series has technically been wrapped up.

However, I was proven very wrong, and my fears dissipated very quickly. I should have known that the woman who could write the absolutely brilliant four book Seven Realms series would have no problem writing a fourth story in this realm. This was a fresh, fun, adventurous and addicting story. From the very beginning, when we first meet young Jonah amidst the chaos of Thorn Hill, I was invested. I was attracted to the characters, and their different stories and I was curious to see how they would eventually collide. I liked that they started off so differently but that their worlds eventually connected, their stories started to intertwine. It takes a lot of talent to create a story in two different perspectives that seemingly are on two different paths and make them come together, and in a way that you don’t see until its suddenly in your face. I love that. I love that I’m hanging on the edge of my seat, wondering at the mysteries of both of their lives and wondering how they’re going to meet and what is going to happen between them. She is an addicting storyteller than is able to weave a picture of adventure, mystery, action, drama, humor and romance. She is able to accomplish all of that in one book.

I also think that Cinda is an incredible world builder. It is the one skill of writers that I admire more than anything else, and I think a lot of that comes from the fact that I am really incapable of that kind of writing. Cinda has a great example of world building in her full fantasy, the Seven Realms, but I think an even better example of this is in these novels, and even more so in this novel. You would think maybe its easier to create a new world inside of a world that we already recognize but I think its harder. You have to create this entirely new world, a full world with all of its past, present, future, its laws and rules, its people while trying to keep consistent with the actual world that we know. I think that’s incredibly difficult and yet she does it with finesse, without flaw. There isn’t a moment while reading when you think, “this doesn’t seem real to me”. It is believable from page one to the very last page.

Speaking of the last page, without spoiling anything for those of you who haven’t read it (which is a lot, considering it hasn’t been released yet), HOW DARE YOU CINDA WILLIAMS CHIMA? How dare you? I’ve had my fair share of cliffhangers. I read a lot, more than an average person does in a year, and so I’m used to the concept of a cliffhanger. However, this was still a cliffhanger that smacked me in the face and left me wanting to throw the book across the room. Of course I didn’t because it is precious to me and its signed to me! But I was frustrated, in that wonderful way that you can be frustrated. Cinda has created these characters that I absolutely love and that I want to keep on reading about, and then she leaves off the story like that and it was almost painful to not be able to continue reading, to find out what happens next. These characters will be living in my mind for a very long time, as I wait incredibly impatiently for the next book. Emma and Jonah. I am forever in love with these characters and these books.

Rating:

5 out of 5 Stars

Recommended or Not?

Yes! Please, please, please! Someone needs to read these books. Read the Seven Realms series (The Demon King, The Exiled Queen, The Gray Wolf Throne, The Crimson Crown), and read the Heir Chronicles (The Warrior Heir, The Wizard Heir, The Dragon Heir), and read this book! Cinda Williams Chima is an underrated author who deserves all your praise and your support. She is one of the best authors that I’ve read in this genre, in this reading level of young adult literature and just books in general and I will push her books on you until the end of time!

If you are a fan of Cinda’s already, you won’t be disappointed in this book. Cinda takes what she’s already proven that she can do and she makes it that much better. This is a book worth waiting for and I can’t wait til it releases so I can talk about it with all of you!

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I hope you enjoyed this edition of this week’s Book of the Week, because it is a special one! Look out in the next couple days to try your chance at winning a SIGNED advanced copy of this book! It also comes with some swag too, which is always nice, so keep your eye out!

Happy Reading everyone!