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Adult Books 4 Teens
Inside Adult Books 4 Teens

Ape House

Ape House

Sara Gruen’s first novel, Water for Elephants (Algonquin, 2006), was (and is) a huge success with both teen and adult readers. It was also an Alex Award winner. A few years ago, I had an interesting request. We were discussing what to read next in student bookgroup, and a senior asked that we choose something […]

The Power of Music

The Bells

The Bells is less about opera than about the power of music, the melodrama of being an outcast and a victim of thwarted young love. This is a book about a boy nearly overpowered by his senses and emotions.  For him, sound is a physical sensation. Teens, both artistic and not, may identify with the […]

Recent Booktalks

Early last week, I had the opportunity to booktalk to the three 11th grade English classes at my school. I thought it would be interesting to share this experience, as a very informal case study in appeal. The English teacher kicked off each class by encouraging the students to read over the holidays. I booktalked first, […]

First Novels


Several first novels stood out this year, many with appeal to young readers. Many of them have already been reviewed here:  Girl in Translation, The Girl who Fell from the Sky, The House of Tomorrow,  Matterhorn,  The Outside Boy, and The Vanishing of Katharina Linden. Let’s add one more. A paperback original, Finny is a coming-of-age novel […]

Mystery series

The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag

Two mystery series with teen appeal added installments this year. The Spellmans Strike Again is the fourth in Lisa Lutz’s hilarious series. The Spellman Files (2007) won an Alex Award, and was followed by Curse of the Spellmans (2008) and Revenge of the Spellmans (2009). If you haven’t seen them, check out the great mass market paperback covers: […]

Hot Nonfiction Monday


I thought I would kick off the Thanksgiving holiday week with two nonfiction titles that are garnering both critical praise and a great deal of publicity.  They will likely end up in many a Christmas stocking this year. How do they stack up for young adult readers? First, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, the much anticipated new […]

Alternate History, in two parts

All Clear

Connie Willis considers her World War II alternate history/time travel saga to be one book. She calls it Blackout-All Clear, even though Blackout was published in February and All Clear in October. So we decided to publish one review encompassing both. While yes, both books are long (very long), there are teens out there who have no problem […]


The Vanishing of Katharina Linden

Today’s book, The Vanishing of Katharina Linden, has an undercurrent of fairytale themes, and brought to mind a conversation I joined recently. One of the advantages of living in New York City is the ability to attend Bookfest each fall. Formerly hosted by the New York Public Library, this year it was titled Bookfest@BankStreet and […]

Contemplating Fear


It has been a long time since I was genuinely scared by a book, especially one featuring zombies or vampires. Maybe it is the fact that they are everywhere these days, mixed with humor or social commentary that dilutes the horror itself. The last time I came close was reading Justin Cronin’s The Passage, but […]

Archaeology, Dinosaurs & Murder

Yesterday I wrote about memoir.  Today, I present the review of a mystery written by Homer Hickam, best known for a memoir, Rocket Boys (Delacorte, 1998), which he expanded into a trilogy with The Coalwood Way (Delacorte, 2000) and Sky of Stone (Delacorte, 2001). He may not be writing memoir, but he’s still writing what he knows. […]