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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: Our Exclusive "Why We Broke Up" Video

If you're home this week or at work but doing very little, I highly recommend you check out this video of Daniel Handler asking passersby in New York's Grand Central Station about their experiences with love, and more to the point, breaking up.

Why, you wonder? Because the hilarious Handler (a.k.a. Series of Unfortunate Events author Lemony Snicket), along with the enormously talented illustrator Maira Kalman, have a new book out as of yesterday titled Why We Broke Up. The plot is--you guessed it--about a relationship that ends. But this isn't your average break-up story. Ed and Min's courtship is told (and literally drawn) through the items (a comb, books, etc.) that Min picked up while she and Ed were together--making Why We Broke Up a uniquely-crafted, bittersweet love story.

Okay, enough sad stuff for now. In the spirit of the holiday season have a chuckle, albeit often at someone else's expense.




P.S. If you need more YA ways to fill up your time check out the Why We Broke Up-inspired blog, which chronicles real life break-up stories that have been anonymously submitted. A word to the wise, though. You may want to have a tissue at the ready.

An Exclusive Interview with Amanda Hocking

Last month we asked Omni readers to submit questions for an interview with Amanda Hocking, the very successfully self-published author of the Trylle series. Now signed with Macmillan, Switched will be out in paperback in January, followed by Torn and Ascend in February and April. To celebrate the publication of these newly edited novels, Macmillan created this video based off of the questions you asked. So watch now and learn about Amanda's inspirations and so much more.




YA Wednesday: A Conversation with Maggie Stiefvater

Back in May at Book Expo America (BEA), the publishing industry's biggest conference, our own Seira Wilson spoke with Maggie Stiefvater, who was about to close out her New York Times best-selling Wolves of Mercy Falls series with the publication of Forever in July. At the same time, Seira got wind (and a galley) of Stiefvater's first book in a new trilogy, The Scorpio Races, which since October has topped a number of the year's "best-of" lists, including our own. So what does Maggie have to say about her latest release, writing, and more? Watch Seira's interview and find out.


Best Young Adult Books of the Year

Let's face it: young adult lit isn't just for young adults anymore. It seems like every few months there's an article about how the genre is growing, and hits like Twilight and The Hunger Games are now popular with twenty & thirty-somethings, moms, dads, and even grandparents.

So what does this have to do with our Best of the Year picks? Well, as readership surges so does the number of titles published, meaning we read a lot of books in 2011. Luckily our team includes a number of YA enthusiasts who in the past year helped expand our Best of the Month in Young Adult program to include one spotlight pick, and three other recommended reads, every month!

As for this year's ten best, our list reflects the exciting year that 2011 was (and still is). It includes popular authors who continue to publish gems (Lauren Oliver, Maggie Stiefvater, and Jenny Donwham), as well as a fair share of newbies like Veronica Roth, Ransom Riggs, and Ruta Septeys.

Daughter_JPEGOur top slot belongs to National Book Award nominee (for Lips Touch) Laini Taylor and her extraordinary new novel, Daughter of Smoke and Bone. As reviewer Juliet Disparte wrote back in September, "Karou is a seventeen-year-old art student with a most unusual family. From his desk in a dusty, otherworldly shop, her mysterious, monstrous father sends her on errands across the globe, collecting teeth for a shadowy purpose. On one such errand, Karou encounters an angel, and soon the mysteries of her life and her family are unraveled--with consequences both beautiful and dreadful...Taylor’s writing is as sumptuous as poetry, and the story overflows with dark and delightful magic, star-crossed love, and difficult choices with heartbreaking repercussions. Readers of all ages will be utterly enchanted."

Check out the full list of our Top 10 Young Adult books of 2011, or browse our 100 Best Books of the Year.

YA Wednesday: Chatting with Lauren Oliver

Lauren Oliver first appeared on the YA lit scene in 2010 with Before I Fall, which was a New York Times best-seller as well as one of Amazon's top 10 books for young adults last year. In 2011 she doubled her output, releasing the first in a new young adult trilogy, Delirium, while also making a foray into middle-fiction with Liesl & Po. Both books made our respective top 2011 teens and middle grade lists as well as various other "best of" (e.g. Kirkus, round-ups.

To put it mildly, Lauren Oliver is awesomely talented, personable, and according to this article on yesterday, great at co-running her own company. So when her publisher told me she would be coming through Seattle I eagerly jumped at the chance to interview her, the result of which is below. Hopefully it'll make the wait for the follow-up to Delirium, titled Pandemonium (it's out on March 6, 2012 but who's counting, right? Wait, I am...), at least a little more bearable.


YA Wednesday: Markus Zusak's Favorite Literary Characters

I've not yet met a person who hasn't been totally floored by Markus Zusak's The Book Thief. It is--in one word--extraordinary, and Amazon customers agree. The novel currently has more the 1,000 five-star reviews.

BookthiefSo what makes The Book Thief special?

First off, it's narrated by Death (no easy feat), who watches nine-year-old Liesel Meminger after she moves to a small, Nazi-occupied German town to live with foster parents. The story that ensues is undoubtedly "brillant and ambitious," as The New York Times noted when the book was published. Yet whenever the book comes up in conversation it's the characters that people want to talk about. After spending time with the politician's wife who allows Liesel to steal books from her library; Max, the Jewish refugee who lives in Liesel's basement; and Rudy, Liesel's best friend, it's clear that Markus Zusak knows the characters he creates. 

So who are his favorite fictional characters? Zusak took the time to tell us his top ten--and why--in no particular order:

1. Jimmy Rabbitte (The Commitments by Roddy Doyle): the heart and soul of the world’s hardest working band – bringing music back to the proletariat!

2. Amy Grape (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape by Peter Hedges): Poor Amy. She’s really the only person holding the Grape family together – one of literature’s true unsung heroes. And, of course, she loves Elvis.

Continue reading "YA Wednesday: Markus Zusak's Favorite Literary Characters" »

YA Wednesday: A Q&A with Jeyn Roberts

November is a packed month for new releases. It's when publishers unveil some of their biggest books for the impending gift-giving season. So competition for the Best Young Adult Book of the Month was stiff--and outside of our top pick, Dark inside, we also loved Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler's The Future of Us, Heather Davis's Wherever You Go, and Ralph Fletcher's Also Known as Rowan Pohi.

DarkinsideSo why was Dark Inside given top honors? Well, on I saw one reviewer call it "compulsively readable," which is sure part of it. But we chose Jeyn Roberts's debut because a number of people called it terrifying--a word not often tossed around outside of discussing Stephen King. Terrfying, you think? Yes, really--like hair raisingly-scary in the best way possible. After all, what could be more frightening than thinking the world is right and then all of a sudden it's not? What's worse than living through fires and earthquakes, watching friends and family die or become infected and murderously evil? Not much, I say.

After our weary-eyed all night read-a-thons were over, we had some questions for author Jeyn Roberts. (Trust us, you will too). She graciously agreed to answer what we wanted to know.

Q: Much of today’s dystopian literature takes place long after civilization has ended, but in Dark Inside, your characters deal with the event as it happens—and its immediate aftermath. What drew you to writing about this specific time versus further down the road?

Roberts: I’ve always found how events begin to be just as exciting as what comes afterwards. I’ve always been a fan of end-of-the-world movies and novels—but the events that lead up to the destruction are often more terrifying than what comes afterwards. I really wanted to do something that focuses on both aspects.

Q: What was it like writing from multiple POVs, and is there one character in particular that you relate to?

Roberts: I really enjoy writing from multiple POVs. When I started this story, it seemed too large to focus on just one character. I wanted to spread it out and show different POVs from different locations. There are a lot of writers I enjoy who have done this.

I can honestly say that I was able to relate to every single character in one way or another. If I compared myself to one, it would probably be Aries. I’d like to believe I’d be the type of person who becomes a reluctant leader and worries about everyone else instead of myself.

Continue reading "YA Wednesday: A Q&A with Jeyn Roberts" »

Have a Question for YA Author Amanda Hocking?

SwitchedAmanda Hocking is not your average YA author. Even before her Trylle series is released in early 2012 from St. Martin's press she's already sold millions of her books. How? By being a self-published phenom--that's how. (In case you're wondering, there's a movie deal in the works, too).

So how'd she do it? Where does she get her ideas from? What will happen to changeling and star of Switched, Torn, and Ascend Wendy Everly'? 

We don't know, but you have the opportunity to find out in an exclusive Amazon video with Amanda--to be filmed later this week!

So if there's something you're dying to ask, speak up (and leave your question as a comment below).


YAWednesday: The Pen Fatale Tour

Last month, in a suite at a hotel near the Amazon offices, a bunch of us had the pleasure of meeting four young adult writers for a little lunch and conversation. Over tomato soup and roast beef sandwiches, the authors--Jessica Brody (My Life Undecided), Alyson Noel (Dreamland), Mary E. Pearson (The Fox Inheritance), and Gabrielle Zevin (All These Things I've Done)--told us about their favorite moments on the road, where they get their ideas, and of couse their favorite shoes (footwear is always important, whether stationed in front of a computer or not).

UndecidedBut then we realized while all this was well and good for us, wouldn't fans want to know these tidbits too? The ladies were undoubtedly exahusted from being on the road for weeks, but they made the time to answer these quick Q&As for you Omni readers/YA fans/generally curious book lovers. So without further ado here's quick peek into just some what these authors love:

Happy reading!

YA Wednesday: Teens' Top Ten

As the end of the year draws closer award and "best-of" lists sprout up--though mostly for adult books. With the exception of the National Book Award for Young People's Lit, which consists of 5 (or sometimes temporarily 6) exceptional middle-grade and young adult titles, YA readers wait for the Printz Medal and Honor winners to be announced in January. Even then the books are selected via a rigorous process by librarians and other professionals (a.k.a adults).

So what do teens themselves love? Are they into angels, forbidden love, or the end of society? All of 'em, actually.

As part of the Young Adult Library Services Assocation's (YALSA) "Teen Read Week" the top ten books of the previous year, as nominated and voted on by teens, were announced this past Monday. Check out the winners (and the various videos, interviews, and excerpts hosted on some of their Amazon pages) below. Clockworkangel

  1. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare (exclusive interview with Cassie Clare)
  2. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (Suzanne reads an excerpt)
  3. Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick (book trailer + the "original" third chapter)
  4. I Am Number Four by Pittacue Lore (interview between Pittacus Lore + Will Hill, author of Department Nineteen)
  5. The Iron King by Julie Kagawa (book trailer)
  6. Matched by Ally Condie (exclusive interview with Ally Condie)
  7. Angel: A Maximum Ride Novel by James Patterson
  8. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
  9. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
  10. Nightshade by Andrea Cremer (interview with Andrea)

Congrats to all, of course, but now we want to hear from you Omni readers. What are your recent favorite YA reads?

(Last but certainly not least keep an eye out for our top 10 of 2011 in YA lit, which will be announced next month.)


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