All posts in the ‘YA’ Category

Join the Cress by Marissa Meyer Readathon!

The fourth book in Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series, Fairest, hits retailers on January 27, 2015, and we’re getting ready by hosting a readathon of the third book in the series, Cress. Join in if you’re a series newbie or reread it with us if you’ve already read it. Here’s how it works:


Step 1: Locate a copy of Cress.

Step 2: Read the book with us from Monday, December 1 to Sunday, December 14. That gives you two weeks to read!

Step 3: Track your progress by posting text and pictures of the page you’re reading, chapter you’re on, and quotes from the book on Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr. Use the hashtag #ReadCress.

Step 4: Win! Anyone who joins the readathon from December 1 to December 14 by tracking his or her progress as outlined in Step 3 will be entered to win a signed copy of Cress and Lunar Chronicles swag.

We can’t wait for all you Lunartics to reread one of your favorite books and for series newbies to discover the fascinating world Marissa Meyer has created.

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Tweet with Marissa Meyer During the #CyborgMonday Twitter Chat!

Fairest might not come out until January 27, 2015, but #CyborgMonday is less than a week away! To celebrate, we’re hosting a #CyborgMonday Twitter Chat with Marissa Meyer!
Join our Twitter Chat with Marissa on Monday, December 1 at 9PM EST / 6PM PST with #CyborgMonday
As always, there will be swag for participants! So mark your calendars and get your questions for Marissa ready!


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#ThankfulForYALit 2014 Sweepstakes!

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and if you’re anything like us (we think you are!), then you’re most thankful for one thing: young adult literature! To celebrate our love and your love of YA lit, we’re hosting a #ThankfulForYaLit 2014 Sweepstakes!

Here’s what you have to do to enter:

  • Follow MacTeenBooks on Instagram.
  • Post a picture of a Young Adult book or books that you’re thankful for with a caption that answers the statement: “Why I’m thankful for #yalit.”
  • You must include hashtag #ThankfulForYALit and tag @MacTeenBooks.
  • Be sure to post your picture between now and 11:59PM EST on 11/29/14.

Here’s what you could win:ThankfulForYA2

So what are you waiting for? Head on over to Instagram and enter now!


#ThankfulForYALit 2014 Sweepstakes!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  A purchase does not improve your chances of winning.  Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 13 and older as of the date of entry.  To enter, you must: “Follow” MacTeenBooks on Instagram; post a picture of a Young Adult book or books that you’re thankful for, with a caption that answers the statement: “Why I’m thankful for #yalit.” You must include hashtag #ThankfulForYALit and tag @MacTeenBooks to participate in the Sweepstakes, beginning at 12:00am Eastern Time (ET) 11/24/14. Sweepstakes ends at 11:59pm ET 11/29/14. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law.  Please see full details and official rules below. Sponsor: Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010. When you enter this promotion, you are providing your information to Sponsor and not to Instagram.  Please review Sponsor’s privacy policy at [].  This Sweepstakes is in no way sponsored, endorsed, or administered by, or associated with, Instagram.

Click read more or read the full rules below.

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#NaNoWriMo Writing Tips

Exhausted yet? It’s day 21 of NaNoWriMo, and lots of us are lagging a bit behind in our word counts – even if we leapt ahead of schedule early on. But don’t give up! Lots of famous authors began their masterpieces in November as part of the challenge, and went on to get their books published. S.A. Bodeen’s The Compound, Rainbow Powell’s Fangirl, and Sarah Dooley’s Livvie Owen Lived Here are just a few such success stories. And don’t forget that New York Times-bestselling author Marissa Meyer drafted her outstanding Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress books of The Lunar Chronicles during three consecutive NaNoWriMos!

cress3dStill, we know it’s a hard task to tackle, so here are ten pro-tips for getting through the final days (they’re good for next year’s fearless attempt, too!):

  1. Establish a setting.
    Not for your story – for yourself! Find a workspace that balances inspiration with productivity. Adjust your lighting, minimize distractions, and put on some soft music to block out background noise. If the Starbucks ambiance is more your style, stream the sounds of a coffee shop at work at
  1. Save your work. Constantly.
    Avoid the Blue Screen of Death and all its accompanying misery. Email yourself your latest draft, copy it onto a USB, or just write in the cloud where your work will save automatically.
  2. Use a name generator.
    No need to pilfer your parents’ antiquated Baby Names books anymore. Tons of online services will randomly generate a character or place name with the click of a button. You can even search by first letter, origin, or meaning.
  1. Kill your darlings.
    It worked for George R.R. Martin! It can for you too – but it doesn’t always have to be characters that get cut. Sometimes the scene or sentence you love most is what’s really holding you back. Eliminate it entirely and see where that takes you. Back up your original draft first in case you just can’t let go.
  1. Skip specifics for the sake of speed.
    Skip over facts if they don’t come to you immediately. Don’t know how old your main character is? Fill it in with “TK” (this is short for “to come”) and figure it out as you write. You can always Ctrl+f later and fill in the missing pieces.
  1. Write the book you want to read…
    …and know that this might not be the same as the book you want to write. Maybe you’d love to be known for writing Anna Karenina, but if you’re more likely to pick up Cinder off the shelf, consider shelving the high-brow references.
  1. Let yourself write badly
    The whole point of NaNoWriMo is to get everything out and onto the page, even if it’s not perfect. Then comes the editing, where you can cut the length of your manuscript in half if need be. Just remember to leave those deep revisions for after you’ve reached your goal.
  1. Simplify
    Too many characters? Subplots out your ears? Combine a few and see what happens!
  2. Mix up your habits!
    Stack books beneath your monitor or laptop to create a standing desk. Go outside to write. Try a pen and paper. Borrow your dad’s old typewriter. Get creative!
  3. Write or DIE
    Now there are consequences for your procrastinating habits! The genius behind designed the app to dole out punishment every time your work starts to lag. Spiders may crawl across your screen, your speakers may start scolding you, or grumpy cat may glare. Kamikaze Mode is for the seriously masochistic – turn it on and watch your words be “disemvoweled”. If you stop writing for long enough, every A, E, I, O, and U on your page will systematically vanish!

If nothing else works for you, stick with this: do good work; then put it where people can see it. No one will be able to love your manuscript if they never get to read it! Show your final product parents, friends, teachers, and anyone else you can get to take a copy. Best case scenario, they have just the right connections to get you on track to being published.

Good luck, and keep writing!

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Which Jessica Brody Book Character Are You?

Jessica Brody, the author of several contemporary YA novels and the Unremembered Trilogy, put together a super fun quiz on Buzzfeed: Which Jessica Brody Book Character Are You? Are you Maddy from The Karma Club? Or maybe Seraphina from Unremembered? Find out which Jessica Brody young adult character you are most similar to! Take the quiz here.

52reasons3d     Unremembered

Unchanged by Jessica Brody is available on 2/25/14! Pre-order your copy today.


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Download Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick for $2.99 for a Limited Time!

MidwinterbloodThe winner of the 2014 Printz Award. Seven interconnected stories. Passion and love. Centuries of time. What more could you want? Oh, maybe all of that for $2.99!

That’s right! Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick is available for $2.99 right now!

Seven stories of passion and love separated by centuries but mysteriously intertwined—this is a tale of horror and beauty, tenderness and sacrifice.

An archaeologist who unearths a mysterious artifact, an airman who finds himself far from home, a painter, a ghost, a vampire, and a Viking: the seven stories in this compelling novel all take place on the remote Scandinavian island of Blessed where a curiously powerful plant that resembles a dragon grows. What binds these stories together? What secrets lurk beneath the surface of this idyllic countryside? And what might be powerful enough to break the cycle of midwinterblood? From award-winning author Marcus Sedgwick comes a book about passion and preservation and ultimately an exploration of the bounds of love.

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Author Blog: The Mary Sue Complex by Nikki Kelly

Today, we have a very special post on the blog. Nikki Kelly, the author of Lailah, is here to discuss the Mary Sue Complex, and she’s using two of our favorite YA MCs to do it: Bella Swan and Katniss Everdeen.

Though I’ve since learned the term “Mary Sue” has been kicking around the young adult literature world for some time, it only became apparent to me around six months ago—yup, I’ve been living under a rock.

I came across the term, along with some other new ones, such as “special snowflake” and “Marty-Stu,” when I was reading some reviews of popular YA titles.

In many of these, the reviewers tallied up the qualities of the main character (MC) and compared them against a checklist to see just how “Mary Sue” the MC was.

With my own debut YA title, LAILAH, coming out October 7, I couldn’t help but read those lists with an eye toward my own MC’s characteristics. Would my MC, Lailah, be dubbed a “Mary Sue”? And was this a good thing or a bad thing?

To determine that, I needed to understand the term fully, and so I looked to the dictionary definition—nope, not that one, the Urban Dictionary, of course!

mary sueIt describes “Mary Sue” as follows: “A female fanfiction character who is so perfect as to be annoying … The Mary Sue character is almost always beautiful, smart, etc. … Often, the Mary Sue is a self-insert with a few ‘improvements’ (ex. better body, more popular, etc.). In short, she is the ‘perfect’ girl. The Mary Sue usually falls in love with the author’s favorite character(s) and winds up upstaging all of the other characters in the book/series/universe.”

Righty, so that’s the Urban Dictionary’s most popular definition of what a Mary Sue is. Next question, where and when did the term originate?—yes, I’m turning to my old and faithful friend, Wiki, for an explanation…

Wikipedia says: “The term ‘Mary Sue’ comes from the name of a character created by Paula Smith in 1973 for her parody story ‘A Trekkie’s Tale’ published in her fanzine Menagerie. The story starred Lieutenant Mary Sue (‘the youngest Lieutenant in the fleet — only fifteen and a half years old’), and satirized unrealistic Star Trek fan fiction.”

So how has that term changed, evolved, and become popularized today?—Nikki, needs some more wiki!

“‘Mary Sue’ today has changed from its original meaning and now carries a generalized, although not universal, connotation of wish-fulfillment and is commonly associated with self-insertion. True self-insertion is a literal and generally undisguised representation of the author; most characters described as ‘Mary Sues’ are not, though they are often called ‘proxies’ for the author. The negative connotation comes from this ‘wish-fulfillment’ implication: the ‘Mary Sue’ is judged as a poorly developed character, too perfect and lacking in realism to be interesting.”

With this more complete definition, I took another spin through the Urban Dictionary and noticed that the “Mary Sue” can be further broken down and boxed into different types of “Sue”—because, well, why the heck not, in for a penny in for a pound, right?!

Here I want to explore two of the most popular: the “Victim Sue” and the “Warrior Sue.”

The first is defined as follows: “Victim Sues: The Victim Sue is your whiny, wimpy, pathetic female character who can’t seem to do much of anything except cry and get herself into trouble that the romantic interest of the fic has to rescue her from.”

And the second as: “Warrior Sues: The Warrior Sue is usually loud, obnoxious and (of course) an amazing warrior. She’ll usually have some tragic past that led her to become a warrior, and she’ll upstage all of the Canonical characters with her mad Sueish powerz.”

There’s more, of course, the Mage Sue, the Misfit Sue, the Punk Sue, yada yada…

But let’s stick with these two and think about who some of the most popular “Mary Sue” heroines out there in YA land might be.

I’m going to pluck out two MCs from YA and offer a checklist based on the above definitions.

Bella Swan from Twilight


Gets herself in trouble—check

Romantic Interest has to rescue her—check

Whiny, wimpy, pathetic female—subjective, I don’t personally agree, but I have read reviews that would suggest some would.


Bella was widely dubbed a “Mary Sue,” and I can’t help but wonder if it was this character, a possible “Victim Sue,” that gave rise to the “Warrior Sue”?

Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games


Amazing warrior—check!

Tragic past—check!

Upstaging of canonical characters with her mad Sueish powerz—check!


Right, using the checklist, these two female characters can be pretty much placed within their respective “Sue” boxes. What’s wrong with this, you might ask? Well, it became clear early on as I was Googling and reading reviews that when MCs are noted as being a “Mary Sue” (whatever their “type”) it has a very negative connotation.

Let’s backtrack a moment to the Wiki entry: “True self-insertion is a literal and generally undisguised representation of the author … The negative connotation comes from this ‘wish-fulfillment’ implication: the ‘Mary Sue’ is judged as a poorly developed character, too perfect and lacking in realism to be interesting.”

Let’s continue to use Bella and Katniss as our examples.

Were Bella and Katniss born from their respective authors’ “self insertion”? Were these authors’ creations, in part, fantasies of their own self, in a more exaggerated form, placed into worlds created from the depths of their imagination? And if that were the case, would that really make any difference to the audience? Does it really matter?

If the character is initially born from “wish-fulfillment,” fantasizing, day dreaming, whatever you want to call it, does the character created become too idealistic, thus making them “too perfect and lacking in realism”?

Let’s think about this … wouldn’t it actually be the opposite? If you, the author, give your MC a little part of yourself here and there—especially your flaws—isn’t it actually the case that since these traits belong to you, they are easier to show, explore, and explain? The characters become even more realistic—not less–as a result?

I’m going to take this one step further. If by definition, characters like Bella and Katniss can potentially be dubbed “Mary Sues,” and furthermore boxed into specific categories within that term, and “Mary Sue” carries a negative connotation, then why are both these girls so popular? Why have millions of readers the world over invested in them and followed them through their journeys? Why do we feel their highs, their lows, and love them? Why are they aspirational figures for so many?

However you look at it, the popularity of these and other “Mary Sue”- dubbed characters across so many popular YA titles, cannot be denied. The success of their stories is impossible to refute.

Personally, I don’t think there is anything wrong with the term “Mary Sue” in principle. As a shorthand definition for a character, why not? It’s no different than saying something like “he’s the Prince Charming of the story.” The problem is the negative connotation that has evolved and become anchored to the term—a negativity that is unfair and does a disservice to both the character and the author.

Are there pieces of me in Lailah? Only me and my besties know for sure. And that’s as it should be. Lailah needs to stand on her own two feet. And so, if my main character is dubbed a “Mary Sue,” I will accept the shorthand definition but refuse to allow the negative connotation seep in to either her or me. We both will stand on our own two feet.

Lailah by Nikki Kelly is on sale now! Buy your copy today!


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Enter the Shutter by Courtney Alameda Advanced Copy Sweepstakes!

Halloween might have come and gone, but that doesn’t mean we have to wait until next October to get our horror fix. So make sure all the doors are locked, keep a light on, and enter for a chance to win Shutter by debut author Courtney Alameda. Enter for a chance to win here.

shutter3dMicheline Helsing is a tetrachromat—a girl who sees the auras of the undead in a prismatic spectrum. As one of the last descendants of the Van Helsing lineage, she has trained since childhood to destroy monsters both corporeal and spiritual: the corporeal undead go down by the bullet, the spiritual undead by the lens. With an analog SLR camera as her best weapon, Micheline exorcises ghosts by capturing their spiritual energy on film. She’s aided by her crew: Oliver, a techno-whiz and the boy who developed her camera’s technology; Jude, who can predict death; and Ryder, the boy Micheline has known and loved forever.

When a routine ghost hunt goes awry, Micheline and the boys are infected with a curse known as a soulchain. As the ghostly chains spread through their bodies, Micheline learns that if she doesn’t exorcise her entity in seven days or less, she and her friends will die. Now pursued as a renegade agent by her monster-hunting father, Leonard Helsing, she must track and destroy an entity more powerful than anything she’s faced before . . . or die trying.

Lock, stock, and lens, she’s in for one hell of a week.

Enter for a chance to win here.

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Cover Feature: Revenge, Ice Cream, and Other Things Best Served Cold by Katie Finn

Did you love Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn? Is the cold weather making you wish summer was here again? Then we have something for you: the cover of Revenge, Ice Cream, and Other Things Best Served Cold, the second book in the Broken Hearts and Revenge series.

About the Book

After the humiliating events on the 4th of July, Gemma’s trying to grapple with the fact that Hallie knew her true identity all summer, and that she was the one who stole Teddy from her.

Gemma vows revenge, but things immediately get more complicated than she planned. Her dad forces her to get a job, and the only one she can find involves scooping ice cream all day. Ford, Gemma’s longtime crush, has arrived in the Hamptons, and is cuter than ever. Josh is refusing to speak to her after finding out she lied to him. And to top it all off, Teddy is back in the picture, and closer to home than Gemma would like.

Gemma and Hallie find themselves locked in an escalating revenge cycle involving everything from strawberry syrup to stolen identities. But just when Gemma thinks she has the upper hand, the biggest bombshell of all is dropped. And it’s one that threatens to change her life forever.

Are you ready to see the cover? 

Scroll down.

Here it is!


This cover makes us want to go get ice cream, even if it is pretty chilly out! And we love just how well it matches the cover of the first book in the series. What do you think of the cover? Let us know in the comments and with hashtag #BrokenHearts on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram.

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Enter the Lunar Chronicles Fairest Fanart Contest!

The fourth book in the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, Fairest, comes out on 1/27/15, and we’re getting ready to learn more about our favorite villain with the Lunar Chronicles Fairest Fanart Contest. Want to know more about the contest? Watch the video below and then head here to read the full rules and enter.

Abbreviated Rules: No purchase necessary. Must enter by 11:59 p.m. ET on 12/31/14. Open only to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia who are thirteen (13) years of age or older and of the age of majority in the jurisdiction in which they reside as of the time of entry. Visit for complete details and Official Rules (INCLUDING SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS FOR MINOR WINNERS AND GUESTS). Void where prohibited. The contest is sponsored by Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.

Fairest by Marissa Meyer is on sale 1/27/15! Pre-order your copy today.


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