Free Smart Pop YA Essay: As Time Goes By

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A New Dawn

As Time Goes By

by K. A. Nuzum

As New Moon opens on the morning of her eighteenth birthday, Bella is dreaming of her grandmother–her dear, old, wrinkled grandmother. Edward–beautiful, youthful Edward–saunters into the scene, and Bella is faced with having to tell her grandmother she loves a vampire–and she thinks that’s the disturbing part of the dream. But suddenly, Bella realizes:

There was no Gran.
That was me. Me in a mirror. Me–ancient,
creased, and withered.
Edward stood beside me, casting no reflection,
excruciatingly lovely and forever seventeen.

Tick Tock

Forever seventeen. Two simple words, and yet they provide three books’ worth of heartache for Bella and Edward. By the end of Breaking Dawn we know that everything turns out swell for the two (now three, counting Renesmee), but while Bella is still human, growing up and growing old are major concerns for her. After all, as New Moon opens, year eighteen is already in the rearview mirror for …

Available Until Wednesday, March 17th, 2021

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: The Elements of Life

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Nyx in the House of Night

The Elements of Life

by Bryan Lankford

Good evening! It’s good to see this many humans who are interested in vampyre culture. As it has been many years since I’ve spoken to a group this large who were not vampyres, I beg your indulgence if I misspeak somewhere along the line. Tonight we are going to be discussing rituals and the elements as they are used in vampyre worship.

Many of you have read about vampyre rituals in Zoey’s chronicles, but it may surprise you to know that our form of worship is not confined exclusively to the vampyre community. There are in fact many human groups who think and worship in a very similar fashion to vampyres. Human groups such as Wiccans, Pagans, Shamans, and witches all over the earth live and worship in a manner similar to us. They do not all worship our Goddess Nyx, nor do they use blood in ritual, but …

Available Until Wednesday, March 10th, 2021

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Bonnie Bennett: A New Kind of Best Friend

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A Visitor's Guide to Mystic Falls

Bonnie Bennett: A New Kind of Best Friend

by Bree Despain

As an author of teen fiction, there are many things I
absolutely love about my job: meeting new people,
spending all day creating fictional boys for my readers to
crush on, and developing whole new mythologies inside my
head. But I have to say that one of the absolute best parts of
my job is that watching shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer,
Gossip Girl, Veronica Mars,
and Friday Night Lights is actually
considered work. After a long day of writing and mommyhood
there’s nothing better than cuddling up with my hubby
and a bowl of popcorn and firing up the TiVo.

Some may call this vegging.
I call it research.

You see, as I’m watching, I’m also taking mental notes on
the choices the writers and directors have made concerning
plot, dialogue, pacing, and the progression of the characters
I’ve grown to love (or love to hate) …

Available Until Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Family Life in Panem

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The Panem Companion

Family Life in Panem

by V. Arrow

The most important things in Katniss’ life are survival and family, perhaps not in that order. The entire journey of the Hunger Games series begins because of Katniss’ devotion to Prim and her sense of duty to (and love for) family. However, as she tells the reader, “family devotion only goes so far for most people [in Panem] on reaping day.”THG31

A total of 1,776 children (73 Games — 24 tributes each, plus an additional 24 tributes in the Fiftieth Hunger Games) have been a part of the Hunger Games before Katniss volunteers in Prim’s place, and from the way Katniss tells it, very few–if any–have been spared their fate by family members before. Indeed, most of the nuclear families that we as readers encounter through the series are deeply dysfunctional and unhappy, and it’s hard to imagine them sacrificing so much for each other. What do we know about what …

Available Until Wednesday, February 24th, 2021

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Freedom of Choice

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Nyx in the House of Night

Freedom of Choice

by Jeri Smith-Ready

It’s not easy being the Chosen One. Just ask Buffy Summers. Ask Harry
Potter. And ask Zoey Redbird, the latest in this list of “lucky” candidates picked
by fate to save the world from darkness–and oh yeah, find romance, keep their
friends, and maybe not flunk every class. In their spare time, of course.

You’d think the act of getting chosen would be the biggest hurdle of all.
Once you know you’re The One, every choice should be easy. Simply “do the
right thing,” and the rest will follow. After all, you were chosen for a reason,
so you must be destined to succeed, right?

Alas, destiny isn’t a straight, well-paved road. Sometimes it’s not even a
rocky, overgrown bike path. All the signs point in different directions, and
half of them aren’t even in English (they might be in another language–or
worse, poetry).

The adults or divine beings–you …

Available Until Wednesday, February 17th, 2021

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Worshipping the Female Deity

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Nyx in the House of Night

Worshipping the Female Deity

by Christine Zika

Before I was P.C. Cast’s editor on her Goddess Summoning romances, I once worked with three female mystics on a self-help book for women. During one of our conversations, the authors pointed out that a lot of church rituals–burning incense, the use of flowers, and candle-lighting–had origins in Pagan and polytheistic traditions.

Now, I’m Greek Orthodox, a branch of Christianity similar to Catholicism that is heavy on tradition, ritual, and symbolism. So while I take pride in my faith, I also take pride in my ethnic roots, which stretch back to the ancient Greeks and their beliefs in the gods and goddesses of Olympus. When I worked with P.C., I was always amused when she would call or write to me and address me as “Goddess Editor.” Each of the books in the Goddess Summoning series (Goddess of the Sea, Goddess of the Rose, Goddess of Love, etc.) revolved around an everyday woman who is transformed when …

Available Until Wednesday, February 10th, 2021

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Team Shay

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Mind-Rain

Team Shay

by Diana Peterfreund

“Team David or Team Zane?” was a popular question on Westerfansites and forums (and even an Amazon Poll) during the span of the Uglies series’s initial release. Readers enthusiastically debated whether Tally should be romantically linked with David, the self-sufficient, wild-born young man who first leads her into the Smoke, who teaches her how to survive in the wilderness, and who tells her the truth about her not-so-pretty world; or Zane, the charismatic, enigmatic leader of the New Pretty Town clique the Crims, the almost too “extreme” pretty who snaps Tally out of the empty-headed, pretty mindset, who is brave enough to share with her the experimental cure (though it costs him his brain), and who is willing to do anything, absolutely anything, to make up for chickening out and not leaving the city when he was still an ugly.

David or Zane? David or Zane? What love story in the …

Available Until Wednesday, February 3rd, 2021

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Ladies of the Night, Unite!

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A Visitor's Guide to Mystic Falls

Ladies of the Night, Unite!

by Jon Skovron

The Vampire Diaries is a perfect example of an age-old battle between opposites. Not Good and Evil, of course. Neither the book nor the show is so didactic as to portray any character as purely Good or purely Evil. No, I’m talking about that other age-old conflict: Boy Vampires vs. Girl Vampires. The conflict began a long time ago, in a place kind of far away . . .

The year was 1816. Many called it the “Year without a Summer” because of a series of strange weather events in northern Europe that extended the rains of spring straight into fall. The earnest young English physician John William Polidori found himself in a Gothic villa near Geneva with his good friend and frequent traveling companion, the poet Lord Byron, and guests Claire Clairmont, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. Since they were forced to stay indoors by the …

Available Until Wednesday, January 27th, 2021

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: The War of Light and Darkness

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Through the Wardrobe

The War of Light and Darkness

by Herbie Brennan

The Chronicles of Narnia is a seven-book tale of good versus evil–the age-old war of Light and Darkness. It’s a story you’ll also find in the Lord of the Rings, the Harry Potter series, and many other fantasy novels–a heady brew of myth and magic, brave heroes, dark villains, mystic artifacts, and occult powers.

But that’s all just fiction–right? You’d never get black magicians, mystic artifacts, and occult powers in the real world, would you?

Well . . .

The author of the Narnia chronicles, Clive Staples Lewis, fought in the First World War. He joined the British Army in 1917, and was commissioned an officer in the third Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry. He fought at the Somme and was subsequently wounded during the Battle of Arras.

He was forty years old when the Second World War broke out, a Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford. Just four years after the war ended, …

Available Until Wednesday, January 20th, 2021

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: The Greek Hero–New and Improved!

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Demigods and Monsters - Expanded Edition

The Greek Hero–New and Improved!

by Hilari Bell

Essay excerpt to come!

Available Until Wednesday, January 13th, 2021

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