What's Up in YA

YA Adaptation News, Space for Gay Teens, & No Apologies for Social Politics

Hello YA Fans!

square-product-imageThis week’s “What’s Up in YA?” is sponsored by

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A number of emails came through in response to last week’s newsletter. I thought it would be worth addressing a recurring theme in a number of them which boiled down to this: keep politics out of a newsletter about YA books.

The response to that, in a word, is no.

Reading is a political act. Whether or not you believe yourself to be political or active or socially conscious, partaking in reading is inherently political.

So no, politics don’t be removed from talking about YA books — or any books — here or elsewhere in the Book Riot world. That’s what we do, and it’s what we do well.

That said, let’s take a look at some recent news from around the YA world, link-style:

  • There’s an official trailer out for the film adaptation of Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall (which hits theaters in early March). I know that Zoey Deutch is only 22 in real life, but she and her co-stars look that age, rather than teenagers.
  • The World Science Fiction Society is considering adding a YA-specific award that can be given out at their WorldCon event (they do the Hugo and Campbell awards, for those who may be more familiar with those). Can you help name the award?
  • This is an interesting piece about an adult reader picking up Twilight AS an adult and seeing the abusive relationships at play. It’s thoughtful and critical, but it’s a prime example, I think, of why adults have to remember to take off the adult lenses when reading YA books and accept that teenagers are the characters in the story and thus, are the ones making dumb mistakes. It doesn’t at all excuse abuse, but this is a fascinating exercise in teen vs adult eyes and readership. I see a lot of people complain about teenagers being dumb in YA books, and too often, it’s adults who are forgetting that YA books are about teenagers. . . and teenagers do dumb things (which is part of why stories about them are so good!).
  • Bustle has been doing an excellent job on YA news lately, if that weren’t clear. Here’s a piece that fans of Melina Marchetta will love — it’s an interview with her about her recent adult novel, but it teases at another potential Saving Francesca sequel. If you haven’t read those books, do yourself the big favor of checking out Marchetta’s YA work. You can start with the Francesca books (which I adore!) or dive right into her fantasy series, which begins with Froi of the Exiles (as someone who doesn’t read enough fantasy, I found myself deeply in love with this story).
  • A lot of people shared this piece over the last couple of weeks, and there could easily be an entire newsletter dedicated to it. It’s about gay characters in YA and how they’re no longer as taboo as they once were. It, of course, is pretty much limited to gay boys in YA; that’s not a bad thing, except it’s exceptionally limiting about the range of queer stories that are finding their way onto more and more shelves in YA. Looking for some love for books like Sarah McCarry’s About A Girl (with two girls kissing on the cover!), Malinda Lo’s Adaptation duology (which features a romantic queer relationship among more than two people!), and trans love/romantic YA stories like Anna-Marie McLemore’s When The Moon Was Ours and Meredith Russo’s If I Was Your Girl. I also get my back up a bit about the phrase “taking over” when it comes to any marginalized group eking out even the slightest space on a bookshelf.

How about some “best of” 2016 news? If I’m being perfectly honest, I cannot read these lists yet. I find the “best of” creep happening in October to be a disservice to books and to readers; I understand the “best of” lists hitting in mid/late November, if for no other reason than it serves as a shopping list for many, but October is way, way too soon. I can’t comment on these because I’ve yet to read them, but I know they’ll be of interest to many (spoiler: in December I’m sure we’ll be talking about these in more depth!):

Still needing to think about the election? Although the entirety of this newsletter has been politics, let me go ahead and proclaim this part of the newsletter is BLATANTLY POLITICAL. Here’s some good reading and action plans in the wake of our future as Americans…and global citizens:

  • Tessa Gratton’s “As I Lay Awake” is a reflection more than worth reading and thinking about.

If you’re struggling with what you can do, actionable steps you can take to make a difference, one of the things worth doing is making a phone call or two. This week, I poked around for an organization to which I could donate books locally — I’m lucky to get so many books sent to me and one thing I can do is drive them to a local facility that will get them into the hands of kids. I’m in a small town in Wisconsin in a very red county; organizations that help kids and families exist everywhere, and it literally takes a phone call to set up a relationship. I’m eager to be driving 100s of books over to the non-profit that houses and supports children from abuse and neglect, and it was through that phone call I got to hear stories about how many of the children and teens there are avid, devoted readers.

So I’m ending this newsletter with this: can you help? Can you take one step that betters the lives of young readers in some capacity this week?

If you do, if you’ve been thinking about it, or if you need support or ideas, please drop a response and I’d love to share, generate ideas, or offer support to taking those steps. Want to help but have no idea where to begin? Let me know. I am happy to shoulder some of the work to put you in touch with local orgs or with orgs that are local to me or other YA/teen advocates. Together we can do something, even at a small level. Safety pins are great, but they don’t do the work.

We have to do the work.

Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships 11/18

Hello again, nerd-friends and fellow geeks.

This week’s newsletter is sponsored by Book Riot’s newsletters!

We’re giving away a brand-new, top-of-the-line Kindle Voyage. Go here to enter for a chance to win, or just click on the image below.

Win a Kindle Voyage: Click Here to Enter to Win

During his acceptance speech last night at the National Book Awards, Colson Whitehead confessed that he had been struggling with what to say to people about the election as he toured for The Underground Railroad. What he finally came up with was (and I am paraphrasing slightly):

“BMF: Be kind to everyone. Make art. Fight the power… Remember, ‘They can’t break me, because I’m a Bad Mother F$#@!er.'”

Set this side by side with a quote from Ursula Le Guin’s speech at last year’s National Book Awards:

“Hard times are coming, when we’ll be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine real grounds for hope. We’ll need writers who can remember freedom – poets, visionaries – realists of a larger reality.”

A final quote for you, this time from comics artist Valentine De Landro at Book Riot Live last weekend:

“We want Bitch Planet to be speculative fiction.”

Us too, De Landro. Us too.

Like many others right now, I am searching for explanation, illumination, inspiration, motivation. The fact that I turn to books and writers for these things is, well, why I’m writing a newsletter about genre fiction — and, I imagine, why you’re reading one. Science fiction and fantasy have always been the first and last place I turn. They are the cloudy mirror, the escape, the wake-up call, the great what-if. And now more than ever, we need the capacity to ask, “What if?”

Every book does this, of course, but some ask a bigger and stranger “What if?” than others. Since this question has never felt more relevant or urgent, I give you a list of 11 novels of science fiction and fantasy that have asked questions that pulled me out of myself, sparked my mind, and changed me as a reader and citizen.

Everfair by Nisi Shawl: What if the victims of the Belgian Congo had had better technology?

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin: What if gender was both variable and sporadic?

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin: What if the oppressed used their power to fight back?

Infomocracy by Malka Older: What if government was no longer tied to geography?

American Gods by Neil Gaiman: What if everything we put our faith in was made manifest?

Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine de Landro: What if unruly women were sent to prison?

Kalpa Imperial by Angélica Gorodischer: What if we could watch the arc and fall of an empire through its stories?

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples: What if two people found love amidst war?

Zoo City by Lauren Beukes: What if our crimes were made manifest for all to see?

The Illumination by Kevin Brockmeier: What if our pain was made visible and impossible to hide?

Gemsigns by Stephanie Saulter: What if we reconsidered what it means to be human?


Next installment we’ll return to our regularly scheduled programming; until then, I wish you good books and fruitful thoughts.

The Stack


Today’s The Stack is sponsored by COMIC BENTO, the original graphic novel subscription box service.

bento_200wComic Bento is the original Graphic Novel subscription box!! Every month a box filled with $60-$80 worth of Graphic Novels ships right to your door! With a different theme each month, you’re sure to discover classic favorites, hidden gems and new and exciting worlds among the curated selections! If you’re a longtime comics reader or new to the world of ink and excitement, Comic Bento is for you!

Head to and subscribe! Use code RIOT15 and get 15% off your subscription!

Riot Rundown


Today’s Riot Rundown is sponsored by
NYU MS in Publishing: Digital and Print Media.



Audiobooks!: November 17, 2016

This week’s Audiobooks! Newsletter is sponsored by

ds9mr_9nnvka33d9utosu2rdt87yw1bqk4qmnpmj2wiwsjt85tdwjv9xj7j87ncyv_lftebo4mpc6ve1cr1dljly5iulnylk_9bxkclpmqn6mmneyzwmgc3stptk3ckigda8lfqvListen while you cook! While spending hours in the kitchen prepping meals for the holidays, put on a good audiobook and let the story help you along. Cooking for Picasso and The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living are great cooking memoirs or you can listen to Where Am I Now? read by Mara Wilson herself! Let audiobooks be your secret ingredient this holiday season. Visit for a free download and get started!

Audiobook people! Last weekend I was at Book Riot Live in New York, and I got to see so many of your faces IRL. If you were there: hello, and I miss you! I loved swapping audiobook recommendations with you and just generally reveling in the awesomeness of audiobooks. I think we agreed that, while Moby-Dick is stellar on audio (not biased, I swear), The Sound and the Fury should be avoided at all costs.

I may or may not have a giant Moby-Dick tattoo. I may or may not have a giant Moby-Dick tattoo.

Like many of you, I had a beyond crappy week last week. I woke up on Tuesday morning glowing with excitement about participating in a historic feminist milestone, and went to bed with a heart heavy knowing that racism, homophobia, misogyny, and xenophobia are still alive and well in my neighborhood. I want you all to know that I am more committed than ever to seeking out and amplifying awesome stories by people on the margins, and to sharing those stories with you.

BookOfUnknownAmericansReading is scientifically shown to increase empathy, and I believe that hearing these stories out loud, spoken in a human voice, makes this effect even more powerful. Please, listen to The Book of Unknown Americans, Behold the Dreamers, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Another Brooklyn, Homegoing, The Wangs vs the World, In The Country We LoveYou Can’t Touch My Hair, or any of the other audiobooks we’ve talked about here. Then — and this is the especially important part — recommend them to other people. So many folks are listening to audiobooks these days, even people who don’t read much in print. Let’s get out there, share human stories, and build some fucking empathy.

An All-American Road Trip Book, Now With More Wangs

wangsvstheworldYou know it’s serious when you re-up your lapsed audiobook subscription for just one book. It was so worth it for The Wangs vs the World by Jade Chang, the story of a wealthy immigrant family that loses their fortune in the financial crisis and regroups on a (hilarious) road trip across America.

What I love most about this book is its delicate balance between comedy and compassion. I LOVE the entire Wang family — there’s the embarrassing dad, the cold stepmother, the art world ingenue, the college bro, the millennial fashion blogger, and the crunchy hipster farmer. Jade Chang playfully teases each character about their personality quirks while ultimately digging into the humanity beneath, making you grow to love each one. My personal favorite is Grace, the high school student with a weird suicide obsession who steals blogging equipment from her boarding school.

Nancy Wu is another new narrator to me, and her performance is phenomenal. She interprets the story with a fabulous dry humor, and she differentiates between characters by effortlessly switching registers and accents — everything from a sixteen-year-old fashion blogger to a sixty-year-old cosmetics tycoon. Snippets of Chinese are sprinkled throughout, and it was cool to hear both the Chinese and the English spoken together. This is definitely one of those effortless listens that translates beautifully to audio <3

8 Addictive Audiobooks Worth Missing Your Exit For

everything-everything-by-nicola-yoon-audioYou know the type — you’re listening to a kickass audiobook when, oops! You blow right past your exit on the highway. That, or you listen in the parking lot for 15 extra minutes while you laugh / cry / freak out. These are the moments Book Riot contributor Kristy Pasquariello lives for; here are eight of the juiciest, funniest, scariest, and most suspenseful audiobooks she’s ever had the pleasure of listening to.

These Books? The Audio’s Better Than The Print

troublemakerWe’ve all been there, staring at the audiobook and the book for an eternity, debating which to get. Or maybe you just got the print when someone says, “I listened to that on audio and the narrator was AMAZING!,” instilling you with deep regret and a desire to switch to the audio immediately.

Jamie Canaves, contributing editor at Book Riot, rounded up our top picks where we say “Go with the audiobook!” If you’re playing the which-version-to-get game, read on to see if its one of our go-to audio picks.

Audiobook or Podcast? How to Decide What to Listen To

My mind was kind of completely blown (I know, it happens a lot) when I realized that, for lots of readers, audiobooks and podcasts vie for the same space in their lives. Personally, it’s totally contextual for me — my brain can’t process audiobooks while I work, so that’s when I listen to podcasts. But if you’re a lucky duck who can listen to whatever, wherever, how do you solve the should-I-listen-to-a-book-or-a-podcast dilemma?

Book Riot contributor Rebecca Hussey loves audiobooks and podcasts equally and has to make that choice almost every day. These are the factors that help her decide — here’s hoping they help you, too!



We have 10 copies of Letters of Note: Volume 2 by Shaun Usher to give away to 10 Riot readers.  Entries are limited to the United States and will be accepted until 11:59pm, Tuesday, November 22nd. Winners will be randomly selected.

From the editor of the New York Times bestseller and instant classic Letters of Note, comes this companion volume of more than 125 captivating letters. Each turn of the page brings delight and discovery in a collection of correspondence that spans centuries and place, written by the famous, the not-so-famous, and the downright infamous. Entries are accompanied by a transcript of the letter, a short contextual introduction, and a spirited illustration—in most cases, a facsimile of the letter itself. As surprising as it is entertaining, Letters of Note: Volume 2 is a book of endless enjoyment and lasting value.

Go here to enter for a chance to win, or just click the image below. Good luck!


Book Riot Live

BRL 16 Attendee Survey

Thank you so much for helping make Book Riot Live 2016 such a safe, welcoming, and joyful experience! We hope you had as much fun as we did, and we’d love to hear your feedback. The Attendee Survey will be open until November 30, 2016; tell us how it went!

The Goods

Best Books of 2016 Box

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The Best Books of 2016 box is here! We picked 4 faves that we can’t wait to share with you and added an assortment of bookish gifts. It’s as eclectic and awesome as the year in reading has been.

Treat yourself or a favorite book lover – supplies are limited.


The Best of 2016 box is $100 with free shipping, and the value of its contents exceeds the ticket price. Titles are a secret, but there is *no* overlap with any previous Book Mail or Quarterly box selections. Get yours now.


Unusual Suspects

Calling Nancy Drew Fans, October Releases, and More in Mysteries/Thrillers

If you’re a mystery and thriller lover, liker, occasional dabbler, or looking to dip your toe in for the first time welcome to the Unusual Suspects’ newsletter—don’t mind the police tape and I’m pretty sure that’s ketchup.

I’ll be sharing great books (old, new, and upcoming), adaptations, publishing news, and anything interesting/exciting that might fall under the mystery umbrella. There’s so much to discuss let’s get to it.

Calling Nancy Drew fans!

goldie-vance-vol-1-by-hope-larsonI’m still giving CBS all the side-eye possible for passing on a modern-day Nancy Drew starring Sarah Shahi but I’m consoling myself with a comic I’m very much enjoying: Goldie Vance by Hope Larson. Goldie is technically a valet at a Florida resort but can’t help constantly assisting the in-house detective on cases—and especially going rogue. Not sure I would stay in a hotel that needed a detective on the payroll but it totally works in the comic. Goldie is smart, fearless, and determined, with a dad as a boss and a mom who works as a live mermaid. It’s awesome and delightful!

Read Now!

among-the-ruins-by-ausma-zehanat-khanAmong the Ruins (Ausma Zehanat Khan’s third book in the Rachel Getty & Esa Khattak series) is coming out in early 2017 so ending the year/starting the year reading The Unquiet Dead and The Language of Secrets would be an excellent decision that I highly recommend!


Now Playing:

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, based on Douglas Adams’ series, is for fans of quirky, weird, wtf, ridiculous, and odd paired “detective” tales. There’s a lot thrown at you in regards to story (there’s a kidnapping, a murder, a firing…) and characters (down on his luck guy, a holistic detective, a holistic assassin, a sick sister, detectives, unhinged landlord…) and while you have no idea how any of it relates you know it’s all going to, somehow. Currently airing on BBC America Saturdays at 9/8c and streaming on their site/app.

Good Behavior, TNT’s adaptation of Blake Crouch’s Letty Dobesh novellas, is for fans of crime/thrillers. While on probation and in the midst of committing a crime Letty overhears a murder-for-hire meeting and decides she must save the intended victim. I’m always here for lady criminals and Michelle Dockery is perfectly cast! Premiered November 15 at 9/8c on TNT and streaming on their site.

Going to the movies? Nocturnal Animals, adapted by Tom Ford from Austin Wright’s novel Tony and Susan, starring Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal will be in theaters November 23. “An art gallery owner is haunted by her ex-husband’s novel, a violent thriller…” I’m sold!

Have you heard?

Sherlock will return January 1, 2017 with its 4th season starting with the episode ‘The Six Thatchers’!

HBO has picked up the Canadian/U.S. rights to the limited series Cormoran Strike based on the series by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling).

The current adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder On The Orient Express has a fantastic cast: Michelle Pfeiffer, Judi Dench, Daisy Ridley, and Leslie Odom Jr.!

Looks like Hollywood is planning on skipping two books to make The Girl in the Spider’s Web the “sequel” adaptation to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo film.

Make room on your TBR shelf for these October releases:

tell-the-truth-shame-the-devil-by-melina-marchettaTell the Truth, Shame the Devil by Melina Marchetta: A mystery and drama–Bish, suspended from the MET, is roped into finding the person responsible for a school bus bomb and finding the kids who have run away—filled with wonderful moments and humor, that never falls near the territory of tragedy porn. I finished this one hoping that I will get to once again meet these fantastic characters and wanting to read Marchetta’s entire back catalog.


the-trespasser-by-tana-frenchThe Trespasser (Dublin Murder Squad #6) by Tana French: Antoinette Conway is a tough as nails detective in the Murder Squad who is getting no respect from fellow detectives and is, along with her partner, hoping to finally get a case to prove them wrong. They get the case—a woman murdered in her home—but as they keep going in circles trying to figure out what happened Conway starts to doubt herself. French brilliantly places readers inside this investigation without ever making you feel like you want to hurry things along. And the audiobook has a nice narration by Irish actress Hilda Fay. (You can dive into the series here without feeling lost—most of the books in the series change the characters, although this is Conway’s second appearance—but if you’re looking for a recommendation on how to read the series Rioter Jessica Woodbury wrote a great post.)


iq-by-joe-ideIQ by Joe Ide: The novel jumps between Isaiah Quintabe’s childhood and his current life as a private detective in East Long Beach taking the cases the LAPD haven’t solved for whatever his clients can afford—until he takes a case for money involving a rap mogul whose life is in danger. Ide’s gift is writing characters that are so alive I felt like they were in the room with me. And there was a bidding war for the rights before the novel even published!


the-mistletoe-murder-and-other-stories-by-p-d-jamesThe Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories by P. D. James: Great whodunit short stories with twists! And if you’re an audiobook fan it’s narrated by English actors Jenny Agutter and Daniel Weyman who do a lovely job.



four-rabbi-small-mysteries-by-harry-kemelmanFour Rabbi Small Mysteries: Friday the Rabbi Slept Late, Saturday the Rabbi Went Hungry, Sunday the Rabbi Stayed Home, and Monday the Rabbi Took Off by Harry Kemelman: A mouthful of a title because it’s a collection of four novels that follows Rabbi David Small and the small Jewish community he’s recently begun to watch over. I found this a very enjoyable cozy whodunit read with the bonus element of taking me into a Jewish community in the ‘60s not lacking in small town drama—starting with a vote to oust the new Rabbi who while a suspect is also helping solve the case of the murdered nanny.

san-juan-noir-by-mayra-santos-febresSan Juan Noir by Mayra Santos-Febres (Editor): A good collection of noir (crime infused, dark, despair) short stories that are set in Puerto Rico and written by writers of Puerto Rican heritage. From the panty-stealer trying to save a dog from his cruel, criminal owner to the story that brings San Juan to life like a character I found myself carving out time every day to sneak in at least one story.

Now that I’ve overloaded you with mysteries to solve I’m going back to reading! Until next time, keep investigating! And in the meantime feel free to come talk books with me on Litsy, you can find me under Jamie Canaves.


We’re giving away a brand-new, top-of-the-line Kindle Voyage. Go here to enter for a chance to win, or just click on the image above!

We’re giving away a brand-new, top-of-the-line Kindle Voyage. Go here to enter for a chance to win, or just click on the image below.We’re giving away a brand-new, top-of-the-line Kindle Voyage. Go here to enter for a chance to win, or just click on the image below.Save




Join Us For Read Harder Book Groups in November!

This month’s Read Harder Book Groups are sponsored by Feiwel and Friends, publisher of Heartless by Marissa Meyer.

As we discovered this past weekend at Book Riot Live, there’s no time like the present to spend time with your fellow booknerds. You live in one of our Read Harder Book Group cities, and we’d love for you to come talk with us about what you’re reading right now, what you might read next, what you’ve read this past year — all fair game. Hope to see you soon!

Vancouver, BC – 11/17
Chicago, IL – 11/17
New York City, NY – 11/19
Los Angeles, CA – 11/19
Glasgow, GB – 11/19
Boston, MA – 11/19
Philadelphia, PA – 11/20
Houston, TX – 11/20
Washington, DC – 11/20
Toronto, ON – 11/26