Having submitted our AB4T Best of the Year list to SLJ about 10 days ago, I’m ready to focus my attention on 2014. Yes, there are many more Best lists to come, including the Alex Awards and the Booklist Editors Choice Adult Books for Young Adults, and we will have plenty to say about them. But October is spring preview season. I attended a few publisher events over the past weeks, so let’s take a look at some upcoming adult titles with crossover potential.
Let’s begin at the lovely Melville House offices in DUMBO, an intriguing Brooklyn neighborhood that is well worth a visit if you’re ever in the area. This publisher concentrates on acquiring and translating works from other languages. They publish international crime series, reissue out-of-print novellas, and discover and promote debut authors living in Brooklyn. While they do not strive for crossover titles, their 2014 list includes two good possibilities. First, A Highly Unlikely Scenario: or a Neetsa Pizza Employee’s Guide to Saving the World: A Novel by Rachel Cantor. Perhaps you can tell from the title, this is a humorous book, which releases in January. Imaginative, whimsical, and the heroes are…librarians!
The Weirdness by Jeremy Bushnell comes out in March, and the author will appear at ALA Midwinter in Philly. This is another humorous debut novel about a slacker who makes a deal with the devil that puts him in direct conflict with a powerful warlock.
The AAP (Association of American Publishers) puts on a Librarians’ Sneak Peek Book Preview event twice a year that features 13 major publishers. Attending is a great way to learn about the books with the highest expectations from each.
Since the event took place at Random House, we will begin there. Random is especially excited about Ransom Riggs and his sequel to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, titled Hollow City and featuring 50 eerie all-new photographs (January). They also have an exciting debut author coming out with his first book in late January, Red Rising by Pierce Brown. Full disclosure–I had dinner with Pierce and the Random House folks at ALA Annual. The author is charming and genuinely excited about his story, a dystopian trilogy set on Mars that promises plenty of crossover appeal. This is a Hunger Games readalike that has the goods.
We reviewed Kate Alcott’s The Dressmaker last year. Her new novel, The Daring Ladies of Lowell is also about a young woman caught up in an important moment in history. (Doubleday, February)
David Sedaris fans (and his teen fans are legion) will enjoy One More Thing by B.J. Novak, a funny collection of “Stories and Other Stories” coming from Knopf in February.
Going darker, The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh (Spiegel & Grau, March) is being compared to the work of Daniel Woodrell. This is set in the Ozarks and centers on a young woman whose mother disappeared when she was a baby and whose best friend is found murdered. She decides to investigate.
From MacMillan– Ishmael Beah’s first novel, Radiance of Tomorrow, is coming in January! Radiance is about postwar life in Sierra Leone. A Long Way Gone was an Alex Award winner, and is still widely read by teenagers. Beah will is scheduled to appear at ALA Midwinter.
Macmillan is also touting a fast-paced thriller, Runner by Patrick Lee that features an 11-year-old girl with some kind of special ability being chased by the military after escaping from a secret government prison. (February, Minotaur)
You all know how much I loved Austin Kleon’s Steal Like an Artist. He’s back in 2014 with Show Your Work: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered coming from Workman in March 2014.
Harper started things off right with a new novel by Matthew Quick, author of The Silver Linings Playbook. The Good Luck of Right Now (February) is another quirky story, featuring a series of letters to Richard Gere.
The Kept by James Scott is a January debut about a mother and young son seeking answers about the brutal murder of the rest of their family. Set in upstate New York at the turn of the 20th century, this is being called a “gothic western.”
The Bees by Laline Paull is a coming of age parable being touted as Animal Farm meets The Handmaid’s Tale. The main character is a young bee. This one piqued my curiosity. (Ecco, May)
Norton has a sure-fire crossover title on their hands with The Last Days of California by Mary Miller. This debut about a family driving cross-country in preparation for the Rapture already has a couple starred reviews under its belt. (January)
An intriguing nonfiction title, also arriving from Norton in January, Our America: A Hispanic History of the United States by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, sounds like a book that belongs in school libraries.
In February, Norton offers Saint Monkey by Jacinda Townsend, about a young Kentucky woman who joins the Harlem jazz scene in the 1950s, and the friendship she leaves behind.
Simon & Schuster has a new novel from Alice Hoffman coming in Feburary – The Museum of Extraordinary Things. This love story set in New York at the beginning of the 20th century features a young woman who is the mermaid in her father’s Coney Island “museum.”
About 10 years ago, Jennifer Vanderbes wrote a novel titled Easter Island that was one of my favorites of that year. She has a new novel coming from Scribner in February. In The Secret of Raven Point a 17-year-old girl volunteers as an Army nurse in order to find her brother in WWII Italy. Vanderbes spoke eloquently about her research and writing at the S&S spring preview at their offices in midtown Manhattan last month.
Above by Isla Morley (Gallery, March) is being called a cross between Room and The Road. A Kansas teenager is kidnapped and locked in an abandoned missile silo by a survivalist who believes he is saving her from the end of the world. When she gets out years later, it turns out he was right. What a booktalk — that would sell it to my teens in a heartbeat!
Life in Motion by Misty Copeland looks like an important book for teen collections. Copeland is an African American professional solo ballerina, one of only a handful. In this memoir she shares her journey to success and the issues that plagued her along the way. (Touchstone, March)
In fact, there are a trio of ballet books coming out at the beginning of 2014. Sourcebooks is publishing The Art of Falling by Kathryn Craft in January. Being compared to Laurie Halse Anderson’s Wintergirls, this novel set in the ballet world explores body issues.
Sourcebooks is also releasing an intriguing nonfiction title with teen potential in April. Shooting Stars: My Life as a Paparazza by Jennifer Buhl reveals the world of the paparazzi from the inside – Buhl is a photographer.
Penguin is publishing the third of the ballet trio – Dancing Through It: My Journey in the Ballet by Jenifer Ringer is a behind the scenes look by a principal dancer at the New York City Ballet.
Rules for Becoming a Legend by Timothy S. Lane (Viking, March) is a promising debut about a high school basketball player who struggles with his town’s expectations and a family curse.
Two welcome fantasy novels are next. Moth and Spark by Anne Leonard arrives from Viking in February. A conventional fantasy, but it has dragons! (Ever since we read Seraphina in my student bookgroup last year, my readers have been looking for more.) While Beauty Slept by Elizabeth Blackwell is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty coming from Amy Einhorn Books, also in February.
And last from Penguin, an historical fiction title, Savage Girl by Jean Zimmerman (Viking, March). An 18-year-old girl reportedly raised by wolves in Nevada is adopted by a tremendously wealthy couple and brought to live in Gilded Age Manhattan. Their son narrates the results.
Hachette has a handful of promising titles on the way, including an historical fiction title, The Visionist by Rachel Urquhart (Little, Brown, January). A young teen girl sets fire to her family’s home then flees to a Shaker community where she is mistakenly hailed as a visionist. Striking cover!
In The Bear by Claire Cameron (Little, Brown, February) a 5-year-old saves her baby brother from the bear attack that kills their parents, then must figure out how to survive in the wilderness.
And, forgive me, but I end this post with zombie fiction. Perhaps this trend is winding down as well? In any case, Orbit tends to publish the best, so I’m looking forward to The Girl with all the Gifts by M.R. Carey in June.