What's Up in YA

đź”– 7 Tips For Reading With Mental Health Challenges

Hey YA readers: Time to get personal!

Sponsored by Me and Me by Alice Kuipers from KCP Loft.

Lark’s on a dream date with Alec. Blue skies, clear water, a canoe on the lake. Everything is perfect … until they hear screams. Annabelle, a little girl Lark used to babysit, is struggling in the reeds. When Lark and Alec dive to help her, Alec hits his head on a rock. Now Annabelle and Alec are both in trouble, and Lark can only save one of them. Suddenly, Lark’s world is torn in two, leaving her to cope with the consequences of two choices. She lives two lives, two selves. But which is the right life?

My YA anthology, (Don’t) Call Me Crazy: 33 Voices Start The Conversation About Mental Health releases tomorrow, October 2, from Algonquin Young Readers. I’ve written extensively about YA books that take on mental illness, and you can read some of the posts linked at the bottom of the newsletter, along with some other great resources.

Today, I wanted to offer up some of the things I do when I struggle with my depression and anxiety when it comes to reading and talking about books. It’s my hope this not only feels useful for anyone who struggles with mental illness, but also that it’s useful both for those who have rough mental health stretches (even without an illness) and those who work with teens who themselves may be dealing with them. The more tools in the pocket, the better equipped we all are.

Part of why reading can become so daunting when one’s mental health is challenging is that it requires use of executive functioning, which can shut down. Executive functioning is in charge of mental processes and skills, and it can become utterly exhausting or frustrating even thinking about picking up a book from one’s shelf. YA author Molly Backes goes into the further, in this excellent talk about the impossible task on Twitter.

As always with mental health, your mileage may vary. These are things that have worked for me.

  1. Read something entire out of the norm.

    Changing up formats can be a big game-changer when it comes to reading. The same can be said about changing up genres or age categories. Since I lean toward YA reading, sometimes while dealing with severe anxiety or depression, all I want to do is read a bunch of magazines or peruse graphic novels for the art. I let myself do this. I’ve found that reading romance has been a big winner for me lately on this front; the fact I know going in that the book will end in a Happily Ever After is predictable and satisfying.

  2. Revisit an old favorite book.

    One of the biggest challenges I face with reading when I’m not feeling my best is that I don’t want to be surprised by something that could trigger strong emotional response. Picking up a book I’ve read and loved before solves this: I know going in what’ll happen and I can more passively enjoy the ride. It might sound odd, but my rereading tends toward horror/creepy. I find them to be comforting, since those worlds are so different from the one I’m in.

  3. Schedule reading time like a date (and/or make it a date).

    Dealing with mental health sometimes means wandering through a day without a plan. It’s not that I don’t want to accomplish things or that I don’t need to meet deadlines. I do. But, depression wants me to stay in bed or worry about it later or not at all because it doesn’t really matter and no one really cares (and anxiety then throws in the fun of “you need to get the thing due in a month done today or else you’re a failure”). This can mean that things like reading — which is both pleasure for me, as well as related to the work I do — can fall to the wayside. By scheduling time to read in my day and following through, I’m able to ensure I get some words in my mind that aren’t my own. I’ve made this a routine when I’m functioning well and managing my illnesses, and I’m able to continue those routines when I’m not doing so hot. I make listening to audiobooks a part of my getting ready in the morning routine, and I’ve found that, even when I’m struggling to get anything done, the silence while brushing my hair and teeth encourages me to hit play on my audiobook and get those words in.

  4. Clean the shelves and/or library holds and checkouts.

    Nothing feels better than a clean slate, especially when everything else is hard. I might have been excited about all of those library books I checked out, but there’s also something satisfying in returning them all, clearing my fines, and having a fresh start. Another tool I use is cleaning my personal collection: sometimes it means donating books I know I’ll never read and other times, it’s a matter of reorganizing the shelves that have gotten out of hand. Each of these tasks has a satisfying visual outcome. There’s a completion and a freshness and newness.

  5. Listen.

    Audiobooks are a lifesaver when I’m having bad mental health spells. I mentioned above the power of routine, but even more than that, audiobooks can be consumed while I am doing literally nothing. I can lay in bed and listen. I can listen while going for a walk. I can listen while working (or attempting to work). When I’m unable to concentrate on a story, though, I also find myself turning to podcasts. Book podcasts abound, and sometimes listening to other people talk books is everything I need and didn’t realize.

  6. Focus on helping other people find a good book by writing about recent favorites or talking with others about books that remind you of them.

    Whether or not you’re a librarian, a teacher, or a blogger who regularly writes book lists, this trick can be valuable. There are a couple of benefits: first, it’s satisfying to make something like a book list and be able to share it and second, it’s an opportunity to reach out to people in a way that’s not threatening and allows you to pass along your passion to them when everything feels impossible. If focusing on other people doesn’t sound appealing, there is value in writing personal book lists, too. Top five books from childhood or ten books with great book covers or seven books you read but absolutely loathed can make for valuable (and low-stakes) self-reflection. You may not do anything with these lists, and that’s okay. It might even be part of the point.

  7. Allow myself to simply not read.

    Sometimes, it’s okay to just be. There is no shame in not reading, especially when it ends up impinging upon your mental wellness.


Some further reading on mental health/illness in the world of YA:


Thanks for hanging out. If you’re up for it, consider picking up a copy of (Don’t) Call Me Crazy. And in any case, we’ll be back in your inbox on Thursday with a roundup of recent YA book news and more!

— Kelly Jensen, @veronikellymars on Instagram.


Win LIES by T. M. Logan!


We have one (1) grand prize to give away to one lucky Riot reader: a copy of Lies by T. M. Logan and one Fujifilm Instax 9 camera!

Here’s what it’s all about:

What if you have the perfect life, the perfect wife and the perfect child—and then, in one shattering moment, you discover nothing is as it seems? It’s the evening drive home from work, a route Joe Lynch has taken a hundred times with his young son. But when he unexpectedly sees his wife’s car ahead of them, he decides to follow her—and ends up witnessing her secret rendezvous with another man. The encounter will tear two families apart and leave an innocent man set up to take the fall for a murder. Lies poses the question: Can we ever really trust those closest to us? Lies by T.M. Logan is an unputdownable thriller in which each chapter changes the meaning of what came before, keeping the reader guessing until the jaw-dropping finale.

Go here to enter for a chance to win, or just click the cover image below:

Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships Sept 27

My fellow warriors, warlocks, witches, and wights: hello and congratulations on making it to Friday! Today I’m reviewing For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig and looking at neural networks, black girl magic, Hispanic Heritage Month, Alanna of Tortall’s anniversary, and more.

This newsletter is sponsored by The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke.

Frey yearns for a life worthy of saga and song. But she is a Boneless Mercy, a member of an ancient female sect that has survived the rising and falling of kingdoms. Frey and her band of Mercies are weary of the death trade. So, when they hear a beast is slaughtering townspeople, they decide slaying it is their chance at fame and fortune. Their success—or failure—could change the fate of women everywhere. With prose as silken and slippery as blood, the complex truths of Tucholke’s novel will sink into your bones and linger long after the last page is turned.

“Whose stories? Our stories!” is the rallying cry of this piece by L.L. McKinney about retelling Alice in Wonderland with a black main character, and I need to pick up A Blade So Black ASAP.

Related: here’s a list of literal black girl magic, including books by personal favorites Nnedi Okorafor, N.K. Jemisin, and Nicky Drayden.

Could you teach a neural network how smell works? Do we even know how smell works?! This is the kind of deep dive I love, and which I can only hope will inspire a future sci-fi novel/la.

Hispanic Heritage Month runs through October 15, and Silvia Moreno-Garcia (author of personal favorite Signal to Noise) has an incredibly handy list of Latinx SF/F authors you should check out.

It’s the 35th anniversary of Alanna: The First Adventure, which means Alanna and I are basically the same age, which means I got a bit verklempt reading this post.

Wizard laser tag!!! I have been WAITING for these toy wands to be readily available, and that glorious day has finally arrived.

If RPG is more your speed than LARP, Alice has some books and series that she wishes had a game version.

Also related: need some speculative school stories beyond Hogwarts? Here’s a round-up of audiobooks!

Today we’ve got a YA novel that’s immersive, lush, and an excellent escape from reality if you need one (and when do we not, these days).

For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig

a girl silhouetted against a fiery backdrop, with the shadow of a dragon in the middle of the flamesComplex heroine? Check. A vividly imagined world? Check. A plot with both emotional and political stakes? Check. Magic that ranges from delightful to truly creepy? Very check. The first book in Heilig’s newest series has lots to love, especially if you’re looking for something to get you into a spooky mood. (Halloween is coming!)

Jetta is the daughter of two skilled shadow players (here’s where I invite you to fall down a rabbithole on the history of shadow puppetry, which is fascinating), and they’re hoping to use their skills to make their fortune and leave their homeland of Chakra. The arrival of the conquering Aquitan army has created nothing but unrest, banning the old ways and turning native citizens against each other. Jetta lost her older brother to the war and is herself suffering from a “malheur” (a mental illness that reads similarly to bipolar disorder) and her family hopes to earn enough money to travel to Aquitan, leave the civil unrest behind, and find a cure.

But there’s much more to Jetta than her malheur; she also has magical powers. She can see the souls of recently deceased things — insects, plants, animals, people — and even control them. She uses small souls to animate her puppets, enabling her to perform tricks that raise her family’s profile, but she must always hide her true abilities. When a bid to catch the attention of an important general goes awry, Jetta and her family must go on the run in the company of a smuggler, and more than one secret is revealed in the ensuing adventure.

Inspired by French colonialism and Asian civilizations, For a Muse of Fire takes the familiar and makes it new. Jetta is a compelling and complicated heroine, the supporting characters have range and depth, and the plot had me gripped from start to finish. As I mentioned on this week’s All the Books, I read the whole thing on a plane and was lost to the world, from the first word to the last. It’s the first book in a series, with enough loose threads to have me ready for the next book and enough closure to make it an immensely satisfying read.

And that’s a wrap! You can find all of the books recommended in this newsletter on a handy Goodreads shelf. If you’re interested in more science fiction and fantasy talk, you can catch me and my co-host Sharifah on the SFF Yeah! podcast. For many many more book recommendations you can find me on the Get Booked podcast with the inimitable Amanda.

Don’t let the Vogons read you poetry,

The Kids Are All Right

Interview with Kate DiCamillo

Hi Kid Lit fans,

I am super excited today because Kate DiCamillo is with us, sharing about her newest book Louisiana’s Way Home! This is a companion book to National Book Award finalist Raymie Nightingale. It tells the story of Louisiana Elefante, one of the Three Rancheros from Raymie Nightingale. This book took the number one spot on the Children’s Fall Indie’s Next list (voted on by indie booksellers) and received multiple starred reviews. I was thrilled to interview her about her new book, writing, and what she’s reading.

Sponsored by Graphix, an imprint of Scholastic

Emily has lost control of her Amulet and is imprisoned in the Void, where she must find a way to escape the influence of the Voice. Meanwhile, Emily’s brother, Navin, travels to Lighthouse One, a space station where the Resistance is preparing to battle the approaching Shadow forces that would drain planet Alledia of all its resources. Emily and Navin must be smarter and stronger than ever to ensure Alledia’s survival.

Karina Yan Glaser: I absolutely loved Louisiana’s Way Home. This is the first time you have revisited a human character from a world you created in a previous novel. I have heard you say that Louisiana’s voice was so strong and persistent that you gave in and wrote her story. Did you already know where her story was heading from the beginning, or did that develop as you began writing?

Kate DiCamillo: Oh, I am so, so happy that you liked Louisiana’s story.  So.  Yes . . . the voice that would not go away . . . that’s Louisiana.  And I didn’t know anything about what was going to happen.  I was just as surprised as Louisiana was as it all unfolded.

KYG: Louisiana’s Granny is a very complex character. Can you tell us how she came about?

KD: Granny is certainly complicated.  And I don’t know where she came from.  I mean she showed up in Raymie’s story and I was like: oh boy, here’s a character.  And then, in this story, I was surprised, and moved, to learn more about her.  I came to understand her better, and like Louisiana, I came to forgive her.

KYG: I’ve heard you say that you write around eight drafts of each book. How many drafts did you write for Louisiana’s Way Home?

KD: I think it was 7 (emotionally wrenching) drafts this time.  It was a hard book to write because of what happens, but it was also an easy book to write because Louisiana’s voice (and Louisiana herself) is so strong.

KYG: Any chance you’ll write Beverly Tapinski’s story next?

KD: Beverly is a constant presence.  I think she is waiting (a little cynically (as in: let’s see if Kate is going to come through on this)) for me to tell her story, too.

KYG: I love the cover art. After only seeing Louisiana from the back in the paperback edition of Raymie Nightingale, I was thrilled to see a detailed profile of Louisiana’s face in Louisiana’s Way Home. Could you tell us how the cover came to be?

KD: That cover!  It makes my heart stop; it is so beautiful and right.  It captures Louisiana’s determination, her fragility, her spirit.  And I think that is what Candlewick was searching for.

KYG: What are you working on now?

KD: I am working on a novel.  And a few shorter things.

KYG: Have you read any middle grade books recently you would like to recommend?

KD: I loved Rita Williams-Garcia’s Clayton Byrd Goes Underground and Meg Medina’s Merci Suarez Changes Gears.  Also, M.T. Anderson’s brilliant, funny, moving The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge.

Louisiana’s Way Home will be released by Candlewick Press this Tuesday, October 2nd!

Many thanks to Kate for taking some time to chat with us!


Around the web…

Top Ten Challenged Books of 2017, via Publisher’s Weekly

30 Children’s Books about Diversity that Celebrate Differences, via Book Riot


I would love to know what you are reading this week! Find me on Twitter at @KarinaYanGlaser, on Instagram at @KarinaIsReadingAndWriting, or email me at

Until next time!

*If this e-mail was forwarded to you, follow this link to subscribe to “The Kids Are All Right” newsletter and other fabulous Book Riot newsletters for your own customized e-mail delivery. Thank you!*

Today In Books

Watch Hundreds of Historical Films Via Library of Congress: Today in Books

This edition of Today in Books is sponsored by Flatiron Books, publishers of Unstoppable Moses by Tyler James Smith.

Library Of Congress Launches Screening Room

The Library of Congress has digitized hundreds of films and made them available to the public. The National Screening Room website hosts home movies of Liza Minnelli, Thomas Edison footage, and more from the Library of Congress’s collection of more than 1.6 million items. The website has launched with 281 titles covering fiction, non-fiction, newsreels, and home movies from 1890 to 1999. More will be added each month.

Carnegie Medal Promises Action Over Lack Of Diversity

The UK’s oldest prize for children’s books has promised to make some changes in light of a review of its lack of diversity. The statement from the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education arrives in the wake of outrage at the all-white, 20-author longlist for the 2017 Carnegie. The Carnegie prize is judged by the UK’s librarians, 97% of whom self-identified as white in a 2015 survey. The prize, established in 1935, has never been won by a black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) writer.

Goodnight, Sweet Elf

After 40 years, ElfQuest is coming to an end. One of the longest-running fantasy series ever, creators Wendy and Richard Pini began their passion project in 1978 and haven’t quit since. Now, they’re stepping back to allow other creators to tell stories from the world of ElfQuest. The last storyline, The Final Quest, wrapped up on the 40th anniversary of the publication of the first issue.

Unusual Suspects

Chris Evans Will Star In DEFENDING JACOB

Hi mystery fans!

Sponsored by Hanover Square Press and Guess Who by Chris McGeorge

Guess Who cover imageAt eleven years old, Morgan Sheppard solved the murder of a teacher when everyone else believed it to be a suicide. The publicity surrounding the case laid the foundations for his reputation as a modern-day Sherlock Holmes. He parlayed that fame into a gig as TV’s “Resident Detective,” solving more typical mysteries such as “Who is the Father?” and “Is He Cheating?” Until, that is, Sheppard wakes up handcuffed to a bed in a hotel room. Around him, five strangers are slowly waking up as well. Soon, they discover a corpse in the bath. And Sheppard is challenged to put his skills to the test: He has three hours to solve the murder. If he doesn’t find the killer, they all die.

From Book Riot And Around The Internet

25 Best Suspense Books From 2018

On this episode of Get Booked, Liberty and Jenn get asked for some cozy mysteries!

By the Book: Reese Witherspoon “Well, I should start by saying that I don’t get my ideal reading experience ever. I work a lot and I have kids and a husband and about a thousand side hustles. But in theory, it would be alone in a cabin by a lake.”

The Literary Life with Mitchell Kaplan podcast: Walter Mosley on his unique childhood, an appreciation of Edwidge Danticat, philosophy and his latest book, John Woman.

Adaptations And News

Mycroft Holmes cover imageKareem Abdul Jabbar–who you may know as a basketball legend–will be in the Veronica Mars writing room! If you didn’t know, he’s been writing Sherlock mystery novels recently.

William Landay’s novel Defending Jacob is going to be an eight-episode limited series for Apple. The good news: Chris Evans is starring and producing (I vote for bearded Evans!). The bad news: Apple has bought a bajillion shows so far and has yet to announce how the service will work and it seems there may be issues with wanting no sex and violence in their shows.

We’re not getting Idris Elba as bond (Boo!) but we are getting Cary Joji Fukunaga as director (Yay!) for James Bond 25 starring Daniel Craig.

Netflix’s Sacred Games, adapted from Vikram Chandra’s novel, has been renewed for a second season.

Michael B. Jordan will star as John Clark in new film series based on Tom Clancy novels.

Kindle Deals

A Front Page Affair cover imageA Front Page Affair (Kitty Weeks Mystery Book 1) by Radha Vatsal is $2.51! (Historical mystery perfect if you’re looking for a break from violence against women right now: Review) (And the 2nd in the series was super good: Murder Between The Lines.)

Today in I had no idea: The creator of the TV show Monk along with the author of the Stephanie Plum series started an FBI and con artist series and it’s $2.99! The Heist (Fox and O’Hare Series, Book 1) by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg.

Audiobooks On Hoopla! (Hoopla is a fantastic app that many libraries use, which has no holds and everyone is picking from the same catalog regardless of your library.)

Forty Acres by Dwayne Alexander Smith, Andre Blake (Narrator) (For fans of Get Out: Review) (TW rape/ suicide)

Tear Me Apart by J. T. Ellison, Narrators: Eva Kaminsky, Rebekkah Ross, Jacques Roy, Caitlin Davies, Amy McFadden, Pete Simonelli (For fans of domestic thrillers and characters with interesting jobs.) (TW rape/ pedophile/ self-harm/ suicide)

Browse all the books recommended in Unusual Suspects previous newsletters on this shelf. And here’s an Unusual Suspects Pinterest board.

Until next time, keep investigating! And in the meantime, come talk books with me on Twitter, Instagram, and Litsy–you can find me under Jamie Canaves.

If a mystery fan forwarded this newsletter to you and you’d like your very own you can sign up here.

The Stack


Today’s The Stack is sponsored by Lion Forge

For their 45th anniversary, Hank and Molly Nonnar decide to undergo an experimental rejuvenation procedure, but their hopes for youth are dashed when the couple is faced with the results. In Upgrade Soul, McDuffie Award–winning creator Ezra Claytan Daniels asks probing questions about what shapes our identity—Is it the capability of our minds or the physicality of our bodies? Is a newer, better version of yourself still you? Upgrade Soul is in stores now from Lion Forge!

Riot Rundown TestRiotRundown


Today’s Riot Rundown is sponsored by Flatiron Books, publishers of Unstoppable Moses by Tyler James Smith.

Perfect for John Green fans, 17-year-old Moses has one week in the aftermath of a disastrous prank to prove to the authorities, and to himself, that he’s not a worthless jerk who belongs in jail.

Today In Books

Anthology By Bored Explorers Sells for $97,500: Today in Books

This edition of Today in Books is sponsored by the GCP Clubcar.

Historic Copy of LADY CHATTERLY’S LOVER Available

You know how in school you would sometimes get a used copy of a book that would have some really helpful marginalia? A Half-Blood Prince situation? Well, anyone who’s got Lady Chatterly’s Lover on their syllabus and deep pockets will be interested to know that the obscenity trial judge’s copy of the book will be up for auction.

RIP Norm Breyfogle

Batman artist Norm Breyfogle has passed away at the age of 58. Tributes, especially from other artists, have been pouring in. Breyfogle suffered a stroke a few years ago and relied on crowdfunding to cover his medical expenses. On Twitter, Tim Seeley noted that fact, and added that “comic book creators are freelancers, and often do not have adequate insurance or any at all.”

The First Book Published in Antarctica

Anyone who’s gone on a trip with a good portion of your luggage reserved for reading material will understand why Ernest Shackleton brought a printing press, ink, and paper with him on his first Antarctic expedition. He edited an anthology authored by his crew, and one of the 70 extant copies was sold this week for $97,500.




We have 10 copies of The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare by Shannon and Dean Hale and illustrated by LeUyen Pham to give away to 10 Riot readers!

Here’s what it’s all about:

Princess Magnolia is excited. Excited and nervous. She’s going to the Interkingdom Science Fair today to present her poster about seeds and plants, and when she arrives, she sees that her friends are there too! Princess Honeysuckle made a mole habitat, Princess Sneezewort has built a blanket fort, and Tommy Wigtower has a talking volcano that’s saying “EAAAAT!” Wait, what? A surprise goo monster makes this a job for the Princess in Black, and the Princess in Blankets is on the scene to lend a hand. But will two masked heroes be enough to save the science fair? A little scientific problem-solving—and a lot of princess power—will make the sixth entry in the New York Times best-selling series a smash hit.

Go here to enter for a chance to win, or just click the cover image below. Good luck!