Tag Archives: books for teens

Shiny New Cover Reveal & Giveaway – THE ONE THING

We at the BookYArd are super excited today to reveal the gorgeous new cover for the 2015 debut THE ONE THING by Marci Lyn Curtis.


The One Thing Marci Lyn Curtis Cover

Beautiful, right? And while we’re at it, take a look at these little beauties, which Marci is giving to some lucky soul! Click here to enter the giveaway.

custom earrings book swag


A soaring tale of life and love, of sacrifice and renewal, and learning to see people as they really are.

Maggie Sanders might be blind, but she won’t invite anyone to her pity party. Ever since losing her sight six months ago, Maggie’s rebellious streak has taken on a life of its own, culminating with an elaborate school prank. Maggie called it genius. The judge called it illegal.

Now Maggie has a probation officer. But she isn’t interested in rehabilitation, not when she’s still mourning the loss of her professional soccer dreams, and furious at her so-called friends, who lost interest in her as soon as she could no longer lead the team to victory.

When Maggie first meets Ben, she thinks she can add crazy to her list of problems. But the precocious ten-year-old isn’t a hallucination. Maggie can actually see him. She immediately befriends the kid, desperate for any chance to see again.

It turns out Ben’s older brother is Mason Milton, the ridiculously hot lead singer of Maggie’s new favorite band. Music is the first thing that has made Maggie feel alive since losing her sight. But when she learns the real reason she can see Ben, Maggie must find the courage to face a once-unimaginable future…before she loses everything she has grown to love.


Marci Lyn Curtis author photoMarci Curtis grew up in Northern California, where she went to college and met an amazing guy in a military uniform. Two college-aged kids and one dachshund later, she lives in Maryland, where she laughs too loudly and eats peanut butter off spoons. Her YA contemporary debut, The One Thing, comes out September 8th, 2015 via Disney-Hyperion.


A foray into middle grade involving wombats (this is actually happening)

Howdy all! Sorry I have been MIA—crises of various sorts and sequel due dates have kept me away (yes, I just turned in a revised version of LIFELESS, the sequel to my YA sci-fi-/fantasy debut, WORDLESS, to my editor!).

But, now I’m back and I have some wild news involving wombats and writing middle grade fantasy adventure.

You heard correctly: wombats!

In case you didn’t know, wombats are adorable, furry, and, at times, ferocious marsupials that live in Australia. Check them out:

Wombat small

Or, for my purposes, sometimes they look like this:

Kita wo logo

The wombat above is roughly what the star of my new middle grade series, The Way of the Wombat, looks like. The first installment, THE QUEST FOR GRAY IRONBARK, kicks off February 2nd, 2015! But first, there will be a cover reveal Dec. 22nd—coming right up, so keep an eye out for it! Not only that, but I’ll be revealing some a few of the amazing illustrations along the way and giving away cool prizes.

Check out the book’s description below:

Which Way would you follow?

When Laz, a young wombat, goes from playing a game with his friend Kita in their idyllic tribal village to witnessing the nightmare of a Tasmanian devil attack, he reacts in the only way he can: he fights back. He accidentally kills a devil while trying to save his sister, but his sister is still taken captive. To make matters worse, the tribal elders banish Laz, Kita and Zeeg—the three youths who fought back—for failing to follow the way of the wombat.

Frustrated and adrift, the three friends embark on a quest through red rocky deserts and deep eucalyptus jungles to discover their own way. With a cheerful koala warrior as a guide and a wise platypus as their trainer, they hope to survive long enough to find a legendary weapon that could save their tribe and Laz’s sister from the devils. But danger lurks around every tree…

Add it to Goodreads here, or pre-order the ebook on Amazon here!

How did this happen, you might ask? It’s a valid question, since I typically write YA.

The truth is, I wouldn’t have done it on my own. WhomBatz, LLC, a foam sword company, approached me to write the backstory for their line of toys, geared toward ages 8-12 and based around their mascot, a wombat. As I’ve said, middle grade isn’t usually my thing, but I’ve always wanted to write a story about anthropomorphic animals, since I essentially grew up ingesting Brian Jacques’s Redwall series (I even wrote a poem around said-series in fifth grade that was published in my elementary school anthology *looks self-important*).  Not only that, but I would get to explore a whole new type of animal—marsupials!—in a less common landscape—the Australian outback.

Also, one of the founders of WhomBatz just so happens to be my husband, and he asked nicely.

Since WhomBatz wanted The Way of the Wombat to be entirely in their control as far as release, distribution, marketing, branding, etc, they’re acting as the publisher. It’s fun—while I get more control, too, I still have an editor, an illustrator, a book designer, a marketing plan, all funded by someone else, so it’s been a pretty new and exciting experience.

I’m really proud of this book and WhomBatz’s incredibly awesome line of toys, and I hope you all will enjoy them too!

So, like I said, keep an eye out for The Way of the Wombat: The Quest for Gray Ironbark, coming February 2nd, 2015, and its cover reveal on December 22nd—there will be all sorts of fun prizes, including free books, gift cards, sneak peeks at the art, and foam swords! And check out WhomBatz here!



adriannestricklandAdriAnne shares a home base in Alaska with her husband, but has spent two cumulative years living abroad in Africa, Asia, and Europe. While writing occupies most of her time, she commercial fishes every summer in Bristol Bay, because she can’t seem to stop. Her YA sci-fi/fantasy, WORDLESS, launched August 8th, 2014 from Flux Books. You can follow her on Twitter and like her on Facebook.


Here’s the first thing I will tell you about this book:

It is far, far better than that awful pun in the title of this blog post.

Here in the Bookyard, we’re all sprinting around, screaming in glee, overcome with fits of uncontrollable fist-pumping — because today, Skylar Dorset’s book is OUT IN THE WORLD!

Chuck Taylors, a red rose, and a reflecting pool that breaks the laws of optics: what's not to love?
Chuck Taylors, a red rose, and a reflecting pool that breaks the laws of optics: what’s not to love?

“Romantic, suspenseful, and witty all at once — ALICE IN WONDERLAND meets NEVERWHERE.” — Claudia Gray, New York Times bestselling author of the EVERNIGHT series

This book features Boston, young love, AND faerie princesses. How, you may ask? Take a look at the jacket copy.

THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS is the story of Selkie Stewart, who thinks she’s a totally normal teenager growing up in Boston. Sure, her father is in an insane asylum, her mother left her on his doorstep—literally—when she was a baby, and she’s being raised by two ancient aunts who spend their time hunting gnomes in their Beacon Hill townhouse. But other than that her life is totally normal! She’s got an adventurous best friend who’s always got her back and an unrequited crush on an older boy named Ben. Just like any other teenager, right?

When Selkie goes in search of the mother she’s never known, she gets more than she bargained for. It turns out that her mother is faerie royalty, which would make Selkie a faerie princess—except for the part where her father is an ogre, which makes her only half of anything. Even more confusing, there’s a prophecy that Selkie is going to destroy the tyrannical Seelie Court, which is why her mother actually wants to kill her. Selkie has been kept hidden all her life by her adoring aunts, with the help of a Salem wizard named Will. And Ben. Because the boy she thinks she’s in love with turns out to be a faerie whose enchantment has kept her alive, but also kept her in the dark about her own life.

Now, with enchantments dissolved and prophecies swinging into action, Selkie finds herself on a series of mad quests to save the people she’s always loved and a life she’s learning to love. But in a supernatural world of increasingly complex alliances and distressingly complicated deceptions, it’s so hard to know who to trust. Does her mother really wish to kill her? Would Will sacrifice her for the sake of the prophecy? And does Ben really love her or is it all an elaborate ruse? In order to survive, Selkie realizes that the key is learning—and accepting—who she really is.

And if you’re as hooked as I am, check out the excerpt on Amazon!


You can have it with a few clicks: Indiebound | B&N | Amazon

You see that head? There’s some weird stuff going on in here.

Who’s behind THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS? The brilliant Skylar Dorset, a born-and-bred New Englander who lives in Boston (mostly, it seems, due to her love for JOHNNY TREMAIN: our kind of woman!) with her cardboard Doctor Who cut-out and a head full of stories. You don’t want to miss her website, which includes lots of behind-the-scenes information about the book as well as a veritable smorgasbord of tastefully chosen GIFs.

What’s that you say? You want to hear more about why we’re so thrilled that June 3 has, at last, drawn nigh?

Well, if you twist my arm…

“Half-ogre and half-faerie? Gnome-hunting guardian aunts and a Salem wizard? There’s nothing I love more than a fantastical romp, whether it be through beautiful Boston or at the perils of a Seelie Court, and THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS has that in spades — plus enchantments, faery magic, and prophecy! What more can you ask for from a gorgeous new debut?” — Rin Chupeco, THE GIRL FROM THE WELL

“Faeries, secrets, and finding love while trying to survive? I cannot wait to dive into Skylar Dorset’s THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS!” — Sarah Bromley, A MURDER OF MAGPIES

“I had the luck to get my hands on an ARC of THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS, so I can tell you that you’re in for a treat! Imaginative, fun, and wonderfully written! The world of books is better for having Skylar Dorset in it!” — Mary Crockett, DREAM BOY

“I also got my greedy hands on an ARC of THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS, and it blew me away. The voice and writing are absolutely captivating, and the comparisons to ALICE IN WONDERLAND and Neil Gaiman’s NEVERWHERE are wonderfully apt. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up!” — AdriAnne Strickland, WORDLESS

“I’m such a fan of magic and fairy tales so this book is right up my alley. I love Dorset’s twist on selkies. THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS gives enchantments and hidden pasts a whole new meaning.” — Christina Farley, GILDED

“As a new mom of a three-month-old baby girl, trust me when I say that I need books to whisk me away from diaper duty and infant howling! That’s why I’m so looking forward to Skylar Dorset’s THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS. A story about a teenage girl who finds out she’s a half-faerie, half-ogre princess and who happens to have potentially murderous queen mother? Sign me right up!” — Caroline Richmond, THE ONLY THING TO FEAR

You had me at gnomes and Beacon Hill. Toss in a bat-ass crazy dad and hot Selkie, and what’s not to love? Cannot get my hands on this book fast enough!” — Trisha Leaver, CREED

Okay. I’m trembling, either from bookish excitement or the large quantity of coffee ingested while drafting this post. I’ll impute it to the former. Skylar, from all the Bookyard writers, a sincere congratulations — and HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY!

The Science of Writing

My little brother just participated in the fifth-grade science fair. His topic was something about evolution. I’d give you more details, but I was slightly distracted by the fact that he used a photograph of me as part of his illustrated progression from Australopithecus to Homo Sapiens. And that picture was NOT on the far right of the scale.

In high dudgeon, I turned to inspect the other fifth-graders’ projects. Humanity’s age-old questions were answered here, guys. “Why Are Volcanos Deadly?” one girl asked. “What Type of Steel Is Best for Bridges?” queried another.  A bespectacled boy presented a board entitled “Is There Dark Matter?”

My fifth-grade science fair experiment was called “Do Plants Grow Better with Water or with Coke?”

Given the obvious intellectual gap between us, I hope some of these scientists can be persuaded to take on my burning questions.

Are Writers More Productive in Sweatpants, or No Pants?

I would like to see a controlled experiment that would take into account quality, quantity, and number of panicky moments when the UPS guy unexpectedly arrives.

How Many Wikipedia Pages Can One Read Before One Realizes One’s Not Researching, Just Wasting Time?

I expect it’s a very high number, as I myself have not hit it.

How Many Awkward Constructions with “One” Can One Embrace Before One Just Uses “You” Already?

Hypothesis: many.

Does the Cactus on My Desk Grow Better with Water or No Water?

As I write, I often ponder this problem. Though not often enough to be shamed into trying the “water” option.

How Many Words a Minute Is It Possible to Type with Six Fingers?

Is anyone else cursed with this fate? I somehow learned to type properly with my left hand and chicken-peckingly with my right hand. Now I can’t change.

In Emails to One’s Agent, What is the Ideal Ratio of Exclamation Points to Periods?

If it’s not approximately 5:1, I’m doing something very, very wrong.

Why Does My Brother Think I’m a Neanderthal?

This question, I suspect, has no satisfactory answer.

3 Fairy Tales That Should Never Be YA Novels

Everyone loves an updated fairy tale, a rewritten myth. Ella Enchanted is one of the greatest children’s books of all time. Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles are rabidly popular. C.S. Lewis used the story of Cupid and Psyche as the basis of Till We Have Faces, and Shakespeare started with Pyramus and Thisbe for Romeo and Juliet.

And Wicked, if nothing else, gave the makeup artists of the world a chance to use up their green face paint.

But the realm of mythos is fraught with peril. The forests of Grimm are black. Here are a few stories that — I beg of you — should never be reimagined as YA novels.

The Red Shoes (Hans Christian Andersen)

A girl loves her red shoes — loves them so much that she wears them to church (an obvious no-no).  The shoes take on a life of their own: the girl can’t stop dancing! They dance her into the dark woods! They’ve melded with her feet! “You’ll dance till you’re dead,” an angel tells her, “and even when you’re nothing but bones.”

Desperate, the girl asks an executioner to chop off her feet. He does so — yet the shoes (and feet-stubs) keep dancing.

She dies.

I can’t even imagine how draconian high school administrators could fashion this into a morality tale. “Your skirts must be to your knees,” they’d say, “or we’ll cut off –” No.

The White Snake (Brothers Grimm)

Too weird to summarize. It involves, however, (a) eating white snakes, (b) receiving wisdom from eating white snakes, and (c) a goose who whines about a ring that’s stuck in its throat.

I can see the goose analogue being that annoying guy who never stops whining about his trig homework, but I am not sure how anything else would work.

Procne, Philomela, and Tereus (Ovid, et al.)

If you’re strong-stomached, go read the Wikipedia page.

Otherwise, all you need to know that the YA novel from this story would involve cheating, a traumatic break-up, and an even more traumatic revenge plan. And that plan would center around a burger. A burger made from the cheater’s dog.

In the final chapter, naturally, they would all turn into birds.

A Celebration of The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy

Hooray! The lovely and funny Kate Hattemer is releasing her debut novel, The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy out into the world tomorrow!


We here at the BookYArd are thrilled to sound its barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world! (Yep, this book has gotten me so excited that I’m quoting Whitman.)


We’re yawping, Steve, not yelling… and here’s why:


Witty, sarcastic Ethan and his three friends decide to take down the reality TV show, For Art’s Sake, that is being filmed at their high school, the esteemed Selwyn Arts Academy, where each student is more talented than the next. While studying Ezra Pound in English class, the friends are inspired to write a vigilante long poem and distribute it to the student body, detailing the evils of For Art’s Sake. But then Luke—the creative force behind the poem and leader of the anti-show movement—becomes a contestant on the nefarious show. It’s up to Ethan, his two remaining best friends, and a heroic gerbil named Baconnaise to save their school. Along the way, they’ll discover a web of secrets and corruption involving the principal, vice principal, and even their favorite teacher.

I bet now you want your very own copy of The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy. Well, you’re in luck, here’s where you can get it:

Indiebound | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

And as if that’s not enough, check out what KIRKUS REVIEW had to say about it:

Blending Ezra Pound, rhetoric and reality TV, this hilarious, subversive debut about a cadre of friends at an arts high school is a treat from cover to cover.

In seventh grade, popular, good-looking Luke rescued Ethan, Jackson and Elizabeth from misfit nerd-dom. Four years later, Luke still leads while Narrator Ethan is cheerfully resigned to a spot in the “Untalented caste” at Selwyn Academy. Disturbing the status quo, the school’s chosen to host a new reality TV show, a student talent competition with a $100,000 scholarship prize and a familiar format: interviews, clichéd romances and rivalries, and two smarmy hosts. The obsequious vice principal and most students are thrilled, but For Art’s Sake feels like an insult to Ethan and friends. Luke, the most offended, leads a counterattack, writing guerilla poetry inspired by Pound’s Cantos that ridicules the enterprise, which the conspirators secretly print at school. However, the masterminds behind reality TV are several steps ahead of them—money and fame are powerful currency, and they know how to use them. Maura, the beautiful, talented ballerina Ethan fancies, has been accepted at Juilliard, but without the scholarship, she can’t attend—participating is a no-brainer. Ethan struggles with ethical conundrums (Does Pound’s anti-Semitism invalidate his work? Are compromises the price of an arts career?) as he works out his own place in this world and among his friends, especially Elizabeth.

A sparkling, timely tour of the complicated intersection where life meets art. (Fiction. 12 & up)

Or, to translate for Andy Samberg fans:


So, just who is the woman who wrote this amazing book?  Here’s the nutshell version:

The oldest of eight siblings, Kate grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. She attended Yale and taught high-school Latin in Virginia before returning to Cincinnati, where she now works at an independent bookstore. The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy, out in April 2014 from Knopf, is a contemporary YA novel about reality TV, an arts school, Ezra Pound, and a heroic gerbil. In spring 2015, Knopf will publish her second novel, The Land of Ten Thousand Madonnas.

For more about Kate, check out her website where she talks books, obscure grammatical rules, and life on a pogo-stick.

Finally, here are a few words from members of the BookYArd about why we’re so ding-dang excited to get this book in our hands.

“What an awesome, unique concept! Love the idea of getting a truly behind-the-scenes look at some of the people caught up in one of those crazy reality T.V. shows. And a heroic gerbil named Baconnaise? If I hadn’t already been sold on this book’s premise, that line would have clenched the deal.” — Stefanie Gaither, Falls the Shadow

“Who doesn’t want to read about vigilante poetry in action? This is like Victor Hugo and Maya Angelou’s artsy lovechild with a hamster sidekick. This is looking to be a great commentary on friendship, on standing up to one’s own principles at the cost of fame and money and, of course, on poking fun at the unrealness and strange dichotomy of reality shows!” — Rin Chupeco, The Girl from the Well

“Vigilante poets?! How could I not be looking forward to this? I love academy-type settings where students make clever mischief. I might be totally off, but this strikes me as a modernized cross between The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys and Dead Poets Society, with a lot of humor thrown into the mix. I can’t wait!” — AdriAnne Strickland, Wordless

“This book has Ezra Pound poetry, reality television, and a heroic gerbil. ‘Nuff said. If that hasn’t convinced you, did I mention the gerbil is named Baconnaise? Yes, I *will* join you in your dance of delighted glee.” — Skylar Dorset, The Girl from the Well

“I don’t have to read past the title to know I want to eat this book whole. The fact that Kirkus calls it ‘hilarious’ and ‘subversive’ just makes me want to drink it too.” — Mary Crockett, coauthor Dream Boy