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    Let’s start with the obvious: young adult (YA) is booming. It’s an unavoidable fact of book life. You find yourself waiting for weeks for a copy of The Hunger Games from your library, you get lost in the mass of books shoved onto the small shelves in bookstores, and publishers seem to only talk about YA in all its forms. YA is the “it” group, and for very good reason.

    If you’re over 18 and reading this post, do not be ashamed to walk into the teen section of a bookstore or library. You’re in the midst of some great stories about self-discovery, overcoming adversity and discrimination, and all those things that every individual experiences at some point in life. The age of the protagonists in YA defines the genre, not the readership. Take a look at the Harry Potter craze! Children, teens, and adults were all reading about the boy wizard.

    Speaking of wizards, another enticing and popular genre is fantasy. It’s a genre people love to love, or love to avoid. Surely there’s a story in each reader’s life when they first read fantasy, even if it was just to try it out. Depending on the book, the reader either became hooked or avoided the genre like the plague.

    But fantasy can be intimidating; all those alternate worlds, creatures, pages to keep track of. It’s overwhelming!

    And that’s where the beauty of YA simplicity waltzes in. YA is notorious for simpler writing with big plots. This is perfect for those extending feelers around the fantasy genre. No one wants page after page of description and back-story on a bush on the side of the path (think Lord of the Rings) for their very first. While those can be nice and interesting, it’s more suited for the established fantasy lover. Instead, YA fantasy is like a giant pool with tiny steps leading you ever so slowly deeper and deeper into the variety of magical possibilities.

    So… what makes a good YA fantasy, you ask?

  • While fussing around on Quirk's Tumblr, I stumbled upon this wonderful video on the blog Lauren Reads YA

    Lauren put together a great recap of Ransom Riggs' visit to Boekhandel Den Boer in Baarn, The Netherlands. Bestselling YA author Tahereh Mafi is also in the video. 

    Have a look, and be sure to follow Lauren on Tumblr

  • The first two books in Charles Gilman's Tales From Lovecraft Middle School series are currently in bookstores everywhere, with the third title, Teacher's Pest, due out this Spring. 

    We're currently hard at work on the fourth title in the series, Tales From Lovecraft Middle School: Substitute Creature, and we're looking for a model for the cover!

    Here are the details from our art director, Doogie Horner:

  • Photo via Doobybrain

    Remember those childhood trips to Pizza Hut -- that greasy pizza justified by the fact that you were picking up a Book It! star? Those hologram buttons proudly displayed on your Jansport? How many of you thought that this program was long gone, that the program dissolved when buttons went out of style and the Boxcar Children stopped going on adventures?

    Well, believe it or not, the Boxcar Children are still going on adventures and the Book It! program is still thriving. This week marks the 23rd year of National Young Readers’ Week -- an event co-founded by Pizza Hut and the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. That’s right -- stuffed crust meets Washington, D.C.

    The Book It! program has evolved a bit since the mid-80s -- minutes and books are logged online and this year, in addition to the Pizza Hut sponsorship, Book It! is partnered with Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Today’s Book It! program even features a lemur named Dewey who teaches card-holding young readers how to utilize their library.

    Visit the Book It! website to learn more, and relive a bit of your childhood. 

  • It's almost Halloween, which means for us bibliophiles it's a time for reading horror novels and celebrating the Neil Gaiman created holiday All Hallow's Read! It's the very best of the scary and the literary.

    Way back in 2010 (eons ago) Neil Gaiman wrote a blog post about how there aren't enough holidays revolving around the giving of books and since Halloween was right around the corner, All Hallow's Read was born. The premise is simple: gift a scary (age appropriate) book on October 31st.

    While it would be fun to give every trick-or-treater a book, it also runs the risk of being not very cost effective so here are some tips for having a fiscally responsible All Hallow's Read.

  • For those that love words and those that love food, the combination is heaven. I first learned how literary food could make my mouth water and tongue slurp like Wile E. Coyote through Dr. Seuss. Green Eggs and Ham, man. Then, I remember reading how Edmund couldn’t resist Turkish Delights and loved how an author could make a sugary treat sound so tempting. I don’t need that much convincing, but it’s always pleasant to experience lovely language mixed with food. Preview: Dainty slapjacks garnished with honey and puddings made of delightful creaminess.

    In short I became very ravenous, especially for pudding, figuring out which literary recipes to present. You might too.
     
    1. Turkish Delight (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe): In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Edmund inhaled the Snow Queen’s Turkish Delight (pictured above!) and betrayed his siblings! Then, he had the gall to ask for more. Sheesh.
     
    Turkish Delight is comprised of sugar, gelatin, water, and cornstarch, and it is commonly flavored with rosewater, lemon or mint. History says a Turkish man named Bekir Effendi, who opened up a confectionary shop in Istanbul in 1776, unveiled the delicacy in his sweet boutique. Legend has it that an Englishman stumbled upon the treat and began shipping cases back to Britain calling it “Turkish Delight.”
     
    Soon, it became a ritual among socialites to exchange Turkish Delights wrapped in silk handkerchiefs as gifts. [Recipe]
     
    2. Pickled Limes (Little Women): The youngest sister, Amy, in Louis May Alcott’s Little Women was crazy for pickled limes. Pickles limes were the iPhones of today, the Tamagotchis and Pogs of the nineties.
     
    "Why, you see, the girls are always buying them, and unless you want to be thought mean, you must do it too. It's nothing but limes now, for everyone is sucking them in their desks in schooltime, and trading them off for pencils, bead rings, paper dolls, or something else, at recess. If one girl likes another, she gives her a lime. If she's mad with her, she eats one before her face, and doesn't offer even a suck."
     
    So, you see, anyone who is anyone eats pickled limes. [Recipe]

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