(Did I mention my deep and abiding love of previews? How fun is it to dress up and eat food and socialize with other librarians WHILE HEARING ABOUT GREAT BOOKS? It brings out all my geek.)
So really, when I say another day, another preview, recognize that actually I’m dancing around singing “preview! preview!”
(Except it’s metaphorical singing. I don’t really do the actual singing so much. Or at all.)
Last Wednesday morning, in the rainy miserable, weather that initially wasn’t, Sarah and I sloshed our way over to Penguin’s offices on Hudson St. And oh was the journey worth it!
The upcoming list is chock full of YA goodness, so it was a very nice morning indeed. There were also some killer picture books, and if anyone wants to hear about those, ask away. I was particularly entranced by Tao Nyeu’s newest, which features her incredible art and a story that reminded me in the best way possible of Frog & Toad.
Back to the YA. Not everything that had me in raptures is going to be a contenda, obviously (and frankly, not all contendas have me in rapture). So I’m compromising: I’m going to be responsible and thoughtful and list lots of books that we’ll be reading and reading reviews for, to see if they have what it takes. Even if some of them weren’t among my most coveted. Then I might babble for a moment about a few that are probably not going to be contendas but that have best seller all over them. And finally I will talk about the four titles I walked away coveting truly deeply madly that I also think have potential written all over their (incidentally very appealing) covers.
Which means you can actually skip right to the last bit if you generally have the same taste as me.
Okay, here goes. I’ll start with the book that is the catalog cover: Bitterblue (Kristin Cashore, Dial, May, but you already had it on your calendar, didn’t you?) seems to be the book everyone’s been waiting for. I’ll confess that I have already read this one, and I think Cashore gets better with each book. Where it falls in the year’s spectrum remains to be seen; I think these are great reads but I’m not sure they are breaking new enough ground for Printz consideration.
Realistic fiction had a very nice showing, and given last year’s RealPrintz, this might be an important pile to look at closely.
My Life Next Door, by Huntley Fitzpatrick (Dial, June) was billed as a romance, which is desperately needed in this post Chicklit world. This one seems to have some heavier elements as well, so I’m thinking it might be a readalike for books like 20 Boy Summer or Lipstick Apology, which is to say romances mixed with serious stuff . Romance doesn’t typically fare well on award lists, but romantic elements often do, so we’ll see.
Along the same lines, we also heard about new titles from Susane Colasanti (Keep Holding On) and Natasha Friend (My Life in Black and White, both titles Viking, June pubs). My Life might have some staying power, or it might turn out to be a bit too Lifetime movie of the week–the basic premise is a beautiful girl who is disfigured in a car accident and must figure out who she is when she isn’t beautiful people.
Also sounding a bit made for TV, given the “Under the Tuscan Sky meets Juno” description is Beth Kephart’s Small Damages (Philomel, July). I’ve somehow never read anything by Kephart, but her titles are consistently well reviewed, and this one strikes me as a good place to start.
The cover of Zoe Letting Go (Nora Price, Razorbill, June) is highly reminiscent of the cover of Thirteen Reasons Why (it’s the pink beret), and the story was billed as “Wintergirls meets The Sixth Sense.” It’s either going to be amazing or… not. Neither Sarah nor I walked away with an ARC, but I did manage to skim the first page: the writing was lush enough that I’ll definitely be picking this one up.
Then, in the not-realistic-fiction camp, we’ve got No Safety in Numbers, by Dayna Lorentz (Dial, May). First in a series, this was described as topical and pacy–the editor compared it to Life as we Knew It, in the sense of a book set in a very believable near future. In this one, the teen protagonists are stuck in a mall when it is quarantined after a biological bomb is discovered inside. I’m admittedly skeptical of this as a contenda but think it will be a perfect booktalk if the writing lives up to the premise, and also you never know; another one that I am thinking is not a likely contenda but sounds so super fun is Alex Morel’s Survive (Razorbill, August; “Hatchet meets Lost” with a side of depression).
And while I am not a baseball fan, John Ritter caught my attention with the his magical realism novel The Boy Who Saved Baseball, and he’s back again with Fenway Fever (Philomel, May); this one skews young (10-14) and sounded a little middle grade, but might be worth seeking out anyway.
Finally, it’s probably too popcorn to be a contenda, but OMG do I want to read Gilt! Catherine Howard as a teen! Tudor England in YA lit is exactly my kind of popcorn. Mostly it sounds like a sordid soap opera (which is Henry VIII’s court all over, really), but don’t we all need a little soap every now and then? (By Katherine Longshore, Viking, May, with a wildly anachronistic but sexy cover.)
And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. Even amidst all the riches (and I haven’t mentioned nearly everything), four books stood out. One is contemporary, one is historical, one is straight up fantasy, and one is urban/contemporary fantasy. All were described in terms of amazing writing. These are the four I know we will be looking at, and if they live up to even a bit of the hype we’ll be talking about these at length come September.
First up, the only one I actually managed to take home with me (Sarah and I nearly duked it out, before remembering that we live all of five minutes from one another so we can share): The Girl with Borrowed Wings, by Rinsai Rossetti (Dial, July). “I am unlike most other people because I began, not in the body of my mother, but in the brain of my father,” reads the first line, but my understanding is that the narrator is fully human (although she meets a boy who is not). I’ve only read the opening so far but the writing is tight. Plus the editor compared it to Chime in terms of odd, strong voice and the mix of real and magic. Sold.
Second on my list, but it would be first if I had it in my actual hands, is another debut–it looks like three of the four books I’m most excited for are also debuts. Hmm. Perhaps we should do a Morris spinoff section this year? This one is from Dutton and the immensely skilled editorial oversight of Julie Strauss-Gabel, who is also John Green’s editor. I’m a big believer in the power of a good editor and if Julie says a book is good, I know we need to take a close look. Plus this one sounds dark and disturbing without ANY paranormal. Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone, by Kat Rosenfield.
Then we had the requisite beautiful dress cover. Ruth Frances Long’s The Treachery of Beautiful Things (Dial, August) has a really nice example of the trope; happily, it also sounds like the book might have immense potential as a contenda: fairy tale elements, riffs on Shakespeare and Alice in Wonderland, and apparently it’s genuinely scary. Plus the author is Irish AND a librarian.
And finally, a book many of us have been waiting for for a very long time: Keeping the Castle, by Patrice Kindl. Despite having read it more than a decade ago, Owl in Love has stuck with me. This sounds totally unlike Owl, but I have faith that Kindl hasn’t lost her touch. Plus, it’s a regency, laced with humor. Oh how I cannot wait!
Any of these on your list? Did I skip anything you are looking forward to? (You can access the complete list/catalog by clicking the thumbnail up at the top.)