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About Jessica Schein

Jessica Schein wrote and illustrated her very own feline love story at the age of 6, which thus began her short but illustrious picture book career. When she realized that her stick figure illustrations wouldn’t cut it she turned her attention toward reading, and has been a dedicated booklover ever since. Her literary taste is varied and includes young adult and middle-grade fiction, literary fiction, nonfiction, and cookbooks--into which she doodles about her (often unsuccessful) attempts following a recipe. Follow her on Twitter.

Posts by Jessica

YA Wednesday: The 'Catching Fire' Book Club & My Farewell

This is a bittersweet YA Wednesday for me, as it is my last post as part of the Amazon Books team. Working here for the last two-and-a-half years has been a wonderful experience. I've interviewed inspiring authors for this column, had the pleasure of collaborating with some of the most intelligent, funny people I've ever met, and even got to go to the L.A. premiere of The Hunger Games (yea, it doesn't get much better than that).

However, my long-term dream has always been to write and there comes a now-or-never point so after much (much, much) thought, I've decided the time is now. That's right--I'm off to finally finish the two novels that have been clogging up my personal computer's hard drive for years. I'm excited, scared, and trying--as Markus Zusak advises--"not to be afraid to fail."

In spite of my absence YA Wednesday will continue on, so please make sure to keep coming back every week. There's a lot of great content lined up, including (sorry to be such a tease but it's pretty cool!) an exclusive interview between YA powerhouse authors Richelle Mead (Bloodlines: The Golden Lily)and Kristin Cashore (Bitterblue), both of whom have books coming out in the next few months.

Outside of this column there are even more exciting events going on in the Young Adult books sphere on Case in point, our new Catching Fire book club. Tune into the Hunger Games discussion boards and Amazon Books' Facebook page every Monday and Wednesday, when we'll be posting new discussion questions about Catching Fire. Check out the interesting answers posed by some of our customers in response to Monday's question, or join in on today's conversation.

As for me, I'll miss everyone here--and that means you, too, Omni readers. But I'm still around on the Internet--most notably here and here. Stop by and say hi please!

YA Wednesday: Announcing the 'Catching Fire' Book Club

If, like me, you left The Hunger Games movie and immediately started re-reading Catching Fire, you're in luck. We're starting a book club! (If you haven't yet read the second book in Suzanne Collins' riveting trilogy and somehow aren't 100% sold yet, download the first two chapters now for free.) Catching_fire

So here's how it'll work. Every Monday and Wednesday we're going to post a new question to the discussion board in our Hunger Games Store and on our Facebook page to start the conversation. After that, it's up to you to keep it going.

But first we want to hear from you, Omni readers. Tell us what you want to talk about before Monday and help us shape upcoming discussions.

Until then, may the odds of not becoming obsessed with Catching Fire to the point where you accidentally miss a meal be ever in your favor.

"The Hunger Games" Book Trilogy Sweepstakes Winners

Thanks to all who entered our The Hunger Games book trilogy sweepstakes and congratulations to our 12 winners, each of whom will receive a Kindle Fire and all three Hunger Games books in hardcover and Kindle book.

1. Erin K., Raynham, MA
2. Lori G., W. Nyack, NY
3. William G., Emmaus, PA
4. Miki B., San Francisco, CA
5. Donna A., Haverhill, MA
6. Becky H., Nashville, TN
7. Victoria K., Buzzards Bay, MA
8. Trina K., San Bernadino, CA
9. Matt B., Baltimore, MD
10. Lindsey K., Albuquerque, NM
11. Mike S., Andover, MN
12. Luke P., Amboy, IL

Also, just a reminder to check out our Hunger Games Store, which includes the books, apparel, and so much more!

YA Wednesday: Calling for Questions for Cassie Clare!

Got something you want to ask Cassie Clare, Omni readers? Well from today through the 1st of April, tell us what to ask Cassie when our exclusive-for-Amazon video is filmed in a few weeks. Lost_souls

Wondering where she got the idea for her Infernal Devices series, or dying to know more about Jace? Or Clary? Yeah, we all are. Ask away! Who knows? Maybe you can even get her to leak something about City of Lost Souls, the latest in The Mortal Instruments series, which will be out on May 8th.

Don't be shy... It isn't every day you get to ask one of your favorite authors a question, right? So add yours to the comment section below.

Happy Hunger Games Day!

So as you can imagine, there's major Hunger Games fever going on over here. Most people on the team already have their tickets for the weekend, and everyone's very excited to see Katniss, Peeta, and the Capitol on the big screen. As far as I'm aware no one in the office went at midnight, but apparently a lot of people did! According to Entertainment Weekly, The Hunger Games movie earned a record-breaking $19.7 million from this morning's midnight screenings alone. Hunger_games_movie

So the big question of the day is, have you seen the movie yet? If so, what'd you think? 

Also, just a reminder that our The Hunger Games Book Trilogy Sweepstakes is ending soon. Enter for your chance to win a Kindle Fire and The Hunger Games Trilogy in hardcover and Kindle book.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.  Sweepstakes ends 3/25/12. See Official Rules.

Enter today!

In the meantime, for those of you who haven't yet gotten to the theater, as a friend of mine so cleverly put it, may the odds of getting a good seat and not waiting too, too long in line be ever in your favor.

An Exclusive Interview with Hunger Games Director Gary Ross

Just when you thought there'd be no more exclusive Hunger Games content leaked prior to the movie's opening, we go ahead and release this: a pretty awesome video of Director Gary Ross talking about the making-of this year's most anticipated film so far.




Think You Know Everything About The Hunger Games?

I can't believe that I forgot to mention this yesterday but better late than never, right?

Guys, The Hunger Games movie is opening this Friday! I don't know about you but 3/23 has been etched in my mind for so long I can't believe it's nearly here. My only issue is that after reading all of the original books as well as the tie-ins, and scouring the Internet for pics of the stars and new trailers, what's left to do?

Take a trivia quiz of course. I really thought I knew the books but this one floored me. You can download the entire quiz here, but in the meantime here are a few sample questions:

  • What is District Hunger_games 12's special wedding ritual called?
  • What product does District 8 produce?
  • Katniss notes that President Snow smells like what two things?
  • What is an Avox unable to do?
  • What does Head Gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee have on his watch?

So, Omni readers, how'd you do? Let us know in the comments section below! (The answer key can be found here).

Last but certainly not least, enter the "The Hunger Games" Book Trilogy Sweepstakes for your chance to win a Kindle Fire and The Hunger Games Trilogy in hardcover and Kindle book. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Sweepstakes ends 3/25/12. See Official Rules. Enter today.

What Would You Grab from the Cornucopia?

Last week we asked Hunger Games fans what they'd grab from the Cornucopia on Facebook. More than 670+ people responded! Here's the breakdown of votes:

  • Food: 40 Cornucopia
  • Weapons: 439
  • Containers of water: 153
  • Blanket rolls: 3 
  • Medicine: 16
  • Clothing: 2
  • Firestarters: 11
  • Tent pack: 4
  • Tarp: 7

Weapons are the clear winner--and personally, I agree. I'd be useless without something to keep my enemies at bay. The other option I'd consider, which someone so smartly wrote in is, "Nothing. Just run."

What do you think Omni readers? Do you agree with these results? Would you overwhelmingly choose a sword over, say, water? Let us know in the comments section below!

Top Cities in the U.S. Reading The Hunger Games Trilogy

Hey Hunger Games fans, is your city on this list?

Today we announced the Top 20 U.S. cities (per capita, with more that 100,000 residents) that have purchased the most copies of Suzanne Collins’ epic Hunger Games trilogy in both print and Kindle formats.

Hunger_gamesThey are:

  1. Sunnyvale, CA
  2. Salt Lake City, UT
  3. Tallahassee, FL
  4. Seattle, WA
  5. Orlando, FL
  6. Pittsburgh, PA
  7. St. Louis, MO
  8. Provo, UT
  9. San Francisco, CA
  10. Naperville, IL
  11. Washington, DC
  12. Richmond, VA
  13. Scottsdale, AZ
  14. Wilmington, NC
  15. Murfreesboro, TN
  16. Vancouver, WA
  17. Portland, OR
  18. Tampa, FL
  19. Overland Park, KS
  20. Norman, OK

Also, a huge congrats to Suzanne Collins on being the best-selling Kindle author of all time!

Last but certainly not least, enter the "The Hunger Games" Book Trilogy Sweepstakes for your chance to win a Kindle Fire and The Hunger Games Trilogy in hardcover and Kindle book. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Sweepstakes ends 3/25/12. See Official Rules. Enter today.

YA Wednesday: Announcing the "The Hunger Games" Book Trilogy Sweepstakes

Hungry for The Hunger Games series?

If so, satisfy your craving by entering the "The Hunger Games" Book Trilogy Sweepstakes for your chance to win a Kindle Fire and The Hunger Games Trilogy in hardcover and Kindle book.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.  Sweepstakes ends 3/25/12. See Official Rules.

Enter today.

A Recap of The Hunger Games World Premiere

As a longtime fan of the books who may (cough, cough) have watched the trailer obsessively, I’ve been waiting for March 23rd like a little kid waits for Christmas. 

MarqueeSo when I learned I’d be going to the Hunger Games movie’s worldwide premiere a few weeks ago I just about stopped breathing--momentarily. Then I started talking about the books even more than I already was, much to the annoyance of my family, friends, and co-workers.

As I’m sure you know now from all the media coverage, last night was the night, although the excitement actually started a day earlier when hundreds camped out for one of 400 tickets inside the Nokia Theater in L.A. By the time I arrived at 3 p.m. yesterday, a new pack of Hunger Games fans were already lined up across the street. The crowd was electric as they waved around copies of the book or their homemade signs designed to capture the eyes of the arriving celebs.

FansAfter a few very brief glimpses of Josh Hutcherson (great smile!), Jennifer Lawrence (absolutely stunning!), and Liam Hemsworth (so tall!) I headed inside to relieve my eardrums, which stung from the shrieks of the crowd. Greeted with Hunger Games-branded popcorn boxes and commemorative cups I finally arrived at my seat in time to hear Gary Ross, the director, talk about how it took a long time to get to this night. Admitting the movie was at times difficult to make due to rain, bears and even snakes, Ross went on to thank The Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins for “trusting me with your book.” Amid cheers of “We love you, Gale!” and “Peeta!” Ross went on to introduce the main stars—last but not least of which was Jennifer Lawrence, who gracefully handled a few tripping mishaps in her shimmering gold dress, which made us all think she really is the girl on fire. “I don’t know where she [Lawrence] came from,” Ross said, “But I thank God for her every day.” On stage together Hutcherson, Hemsworth, and Lawrence waved at the seated guests and finally The Hunger Games began.

Continue reading "A Recap of The Hunger Games World Premiere" »

YA Wednesday: An Exclusive Interview with Lauren Oliver

6 days, guys, 6 days.

If you're a Delirium fan you know what I'm talking about: Pandemonium is out next Tuesday!

A while back I interviewed Lauren Oliver about both Before I Fall and Delirium. Now in the second part of that chat, Lauren talks about what would be on her Pandemonium playlist, gives us a few hints about what will happen in Requiem, the third book in the trilogy, and even admits to loving high heels, pasta, and Mr. Darcy.

(Note: there are some spoilers in the video)


Enter the “The Hunger Games” Movie Premiere Sweepstakes


The movie opens on March 23, 2012, but it’s not too late to win a trip to the movie premiere!

Enter on the Books Facebook page for a chance to win a trip to the worldwide premiere of “The Hunger Games” movie at the Nokia Theatre at L.A. LIVE on March 12, 2012. Prize includes two premiere tickets, round-trip airfare for two, and two nights hotel accommodations.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Must be a legal resident of the 48 contiguous U.S. or D.C. Sweepstakes ends 2/24/12. See Official Rules for details. Entry not available on mobile devices.

Good luck everyone!

Attention Hunger Games Fans!

Oh, hey guys. The movie release is almost here, but not quite!

In the meantime check out this video of Jennifer Lawrence talking about how she loved the books and enjoyed playing the "strong and willful" Katniss.



Happy Birthday, Judy Blume!

I've been known to announce my love for Judy Blume at dinners, friends' parties, and once during a conversation with a stranger on a plane. Every time I claim that at 32 she's still one of my all time favorite authors, I expect a look of disbelief and then, "You mean that children's book writer?" Except the funniest thing happens. People look relieved, confess they love her too, and then tell me that [Insert one of her many titles here] was one of their favorite books as a kid.

MargaretFor the mention of an author's name to elicit such enthusiasm, especially since many fans around my age haven't read her books in decades, is pretty rare. It's a testament to the fact that Judy Blume isn't merely a children's book author. She's a stand-in teacher, friend, and even sometimes, a mom. So it's not surprising that when I asked my co-workers if they'd like to pay tribute to Ms. Blume a fair number chimed in (including myself):

"Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret was a deeply important part of my awkward preteen years. It was the first book I saw as more than just entertainment: It was a health book (much more honest than my mother was going be to me about women’s health issues at that age); it was a confidante (even my friends weren’t baring their souls to that depth); and mostly, it was the first time I realized that writing, something I had always loved, could really and truly be a career. Judy Blume wrote directly to me, or so I thought, and in turn I wanted to be her when I grew up." -- Ali Foster, Site Merchandising Specialist

"When I was 12-years-old few names meant as much to me as Margaret Simon. Although she wasn't a friend in the traditional meet-up-in-person-after school sense, Margaret and I were BFFs in the place most special to me: my mind. Looking back I see that she was an intermediary between my teddy bear best friend to an actual human BF who I could actually call at any hour of the night.  Like the stuffed Gund panda still atop a shelf in the room I grew up in, I refuse to dispose of my copy of Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret nor Margaret herself. Some things I'll hold close to my heart forever." -- Jessica Schein, Site Merchandiser

Continue reading "Happy Birthday, Judy Blume!" »

YA Wednesday: Lucas Klauss on Being a Guy Writing YA


ApocalypseIt isn't every day that Booklist predicts a debut novel may "become the sustained hit that Chbosky’s Perks of Being a Wallflower proved to be," so when Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse (a January Best Book of the Month) author Lucas Klauss agreed to write something exclusive for our YA Wednesday column, I was delighted! 

We bounced around a few ideas but kept coming back to his first suggestion: explaining why he, a grown man, reads and writes young adult books. I've not done the actual math but any YA reader knows that a majority of books in the genre are by a woman.

So what made Lucas decide to write about teens instead of "someone his own age?" A lot of reasons, actually, and yes his love of Coldplay factors into it.

I really like being an adult. Reasonable bedtimes? Awesome. Weddings and babies? I love weddings and most babies. A diet that doesn’t consist entirely of chicken fingers? Hell, yeah!

And as I rapidly approach 30, that glorious birthday on which I shall finally, truly become old, I find that I care less and less what other people think of me. In fact, this might be the greatest advantage of being a grown man, especially considering my taste in music.

Let it be widely known: I like Coldplay.

Of course, I am still very much aware of people’s perceptions of me—or what I imagine their perceptions to be. (Coldplay makes beautiful music, okay?! Back off.) And now that I am a published young adult author, in addition to my job as, essentially, a reviewer of YA fiction, some of the people in my imagination look at the direction my life has taken, furrow their brows, and mumble: “Weird.”

These imaginary people have a point. After all, I, a grown man on the verge of oldness, spend most of my days reading and writing about adolescence. Make-believe adolescence. And make-believe adolescents!

So, yes: weird.

Yet I feel hugely fortunate to have so weird a life. I love YA and am thrilled to be a part of the community that has developed around this burgeoning literature. I am too old to feel I need to justify my enthusiasm; but I hope I never tire of wondering why. Herewith, then, my invented critics and curious readers, a few of the reasons I read and write YA:   

Communication. Most YA novels tell a story in a direct way, unencumbered by cynicism, cleverness, or pretentiousness. Teenage readers will not tolerate that bulls**t. True, this approach, like any other, has limitations, and more oblique methods can yield surprising insights, but I find young adult literature’s straightforward style refreshing and rewarding. If one of the major goals of fiction is to help us empathize with one another—or, from a different point of view, to help us feel less alone—then why not try simply to communicate?

Continue reading "YA Wednesday: Lucas Klauss on Being a Guy Writing YA" »

New Hunger Games Movie Trailer Released

Sure Sunday is the Superbowl (Go Giants!) but for me all that football throwing will be secondary, because I'll still be gushing over the second Hunger Games trailer that released this morning. Have you seen it yet? No joke, I've watched it five times already and as soon as I'm done with this post I'll probably go back and press play again.

Personally I love it, as my obsessive watching will attest. Is it too early to say that Jennifer Lawrence was born to play Katniss? Oh and Lenny... Lenny Kravitz, guys! I could go on forever but I'll stop and instead just urge you to WATCH IT NOW... and tell us what you think after your first, fifth, or 23rd viewing.




YA Wednesday: Best of the Month in Young Adult

Happy February! Personally, I love the beginning of every month. Not only are there days of possibility ahead but we get to unveil the books we're most excited about--a.k.a. our four Best of the Month in Young Adult picks. As always it was tough to choose a spotlight title but in the end the honor goes to Graffiti Moon, a lyrical novel that I savored from beginning to end.

Graffiti_moon On the last night of the school year Lucy, Jazz, and Daisy decide to go on an adventure with three guys they know--Ed, Leo, and Dylan. From the get go Lucy isn't very enthusiastic about the evening ahead. She and Ed went out once a year earlier and it ended with her punching him in the face. They've not spoken since and Lucy has little interest reconvening for conversation until Ed claims to know Shadow, a well-known graffiti artist for whom Lucy is saving her affections. While Ed takes Lucy on a tour of Shadow's works they re-hash their disastrous date and bond over their shared love of art, forcing Lucy to wonder if what she really wants is already before her.

What was before author Cath Crowley after she finished the first draft of this novel? Something she didn't much like she admits in this exclusive Amazon essay about how Graffiti Moon came to be :

At first the characters went off in the wrong direction, and that was my fault. I had an idea for a voice that was sharp and angry, so I pushed them that way.

The first draft was called The Mean Night. It was set in a bleak landscape. Pollution ate stars. Lucy blew glass that shone like love, sure. But mostly she thought about how it could burn a person’s hand right off if they touched it.

The night began when Dylan destroyed Ed’s, Lucy’s, and Jazz’s year-twelve art folios. He didn’t have a reason other than that he hated art. Lucy convinced everyone to take revenge. They went on an adventure that involved breaking every single thing that Dylan loved.

Continue reading "YA Wednesday: Best of the Month in Young Adult" »

YA Wednesday: More Young Adult Award Winners

Earlier this week, the winners of the American Library Association (ALA)'s top children's and teens awards were announced at their annual midwinter conference. It's the most exciting day of the year for those of us who love kid's lit as the Caldecott, Printz, and Newbery are akin to the film industry's Oscars®.

However above and beyond these three awards, the ALA also recognizes a number of other authors/titles for their recent contributions to the young adult genre. While perhaps less recognizable they're no less important. These honors include:

The Stonewall Book Award recognizes English-language children’s and young adult books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience. One winner and four Honor books were announced:


The William C. Morris Award is given to exceptional debuts by first-time authors writing for teens. One winner and four finalists were announced:


The YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults honors the best nonfiction book published for young adults between the ages of 12 and 18. One winner and four finalists were announced: Benedict

Last but certainly not least, Susan Cooper, author of the Dark is Rising sequence, received the Margaret A. Edwards award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults.

Thanks to all for their amazing contributions to young adult literature and, of course, congratulations!

YA Wednesday: Margaret Stohl Interviews Jennifer E. Smith

In case you missed it, we're pretty much snowed in here in Seattle, which means two very wonderful things: working from home and catching up on my reading list (not at the same time of course). So early this morning, as the flakes piled up, I burrowed under my covers with The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith. Both quick (it takes place over 24 hours) and romantic, I devoured the story of Hadley and Oliver, who meet in an airport waiting room and end up sitting two seats apart on a flight to London.

Recently Margaret Stohl, a co-author of Beautiful Chaos who knows a thing or two about writing a romantic novel herself, asked Jennifer a few questions about love at first sight, bad in-flight experiences, and how to best layer a believable character.

LoveatfirstsightMargaret Stohl: Okay, Jen, it has to be asked: What’s your own take on the statistical probability--or even the vague possibility--of love at first sight? More to the point, has it ever happened to you? Would you know if it had? Would any of us? I wonder...

Jennifer E. Smith: I’d like to think it exists. I’m an optimist and a romantic--both key ingredients for believing in this sort of thing. But for me, time is also such an important part of any relationship--time to get to know each other, time to share stories, time to grow--so it’s hard to imagine that kind of instant connection. That said, I do know people who have experienced it firsthand, couples who have been together happily for a very long time, so it’s hard to argue with that. I guess that anecdotally--if not statistically--it seems to be possible, and since I’m in the business of telling stories rather than compiling statistics, that’s good enough for me!

Stohl: Your boy-meets-girl-meets-world happens on a flight across the Atlantic to Heathrow. My own teens are fencers, and we spend half our lives making that same flight for European tournaments. But why did you pick such an unusual setup? What’s the backstory there for you?

Smith: I suppose it could have been set on a flight headed anywhere, but there’s something about flying at night that seemed like an interesting backdrop for this type of story. Unfortunately, I have a complete inability to fall asleep on planes, so I’ve spent plenty of trips wide awake as the rest of the passengers doze off, and the cabin is always so hushed and dark and dreamlike during those hours. It seemed like the perfect setting for two people to get to know each other.

Stohl: I’ve had some of the strangest encounters of my life on planes. I’ve met people who have read my books or drawn me a map of recommended towns in Southeast Asia or recounted their entire life stories. How about you? Was there an encounter that inspired this story?

Smith: A few years ago, on a flight from Chicago to Dublin, I was seated next to a man from Ireland. He was reading a book that I loved, and we started chatting, and ended up talking for much of the flight. He was older--probably in his sixties--and there was nothing romantic about it, but it was nice to meet a kindred spirit, someone who loved books the way I do, and it made the hours pass quickly. When we arrived in Dublin, we walked off the plane together, but we ended up in separate lines for customs, since he was an Irish citizen. We didn’t exactly say good-bye; I think we both thought we’d see each other on the other side, but my line ended up being really slow, and when I finally made it through, he was gone. It was obviously a much different situation than the one in my book, but it definitely provided some of the initial inspiration for the story of Hadley and Oliver.

Stohl: What about your worst in-flight experiences? Perhaps not involving children and bodily fluids…?

Smith: Well, that narrows it down quite a bit! I’ve had a few harrowing experiences involving turbulence, one emergency landing, and a couple of awfully long flights to places like South Africa and New Zealand. But I can’t really complain too much. My worst experiences usually have to do with the fact that I can’t sleep on planes, and while there’s nothing quite like being wide awake for nine straight hours in a middle seat on a red-eye flight, I’ve actually been pretty lucky in the grand scheme of things.

Continue reading "YA Wednesday: Margaret Stohl Interviews Jennifer E. Smith" »

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