Unmade: A Review

*Unmade is the third book in Rees Brennan’s Lynburn Legacy trilogy which begins with Unspoken and continues in Untold. As such this review contains major spoilers for book one!*

Unmade by Sarah Rees BrennanThe boy Kami loves is gone. She is tied to a different boy. Her town is under siege. And her enemies are only getting stronger.

Kami tries to push her grief for Jared aside because she refuses to imagine a world where Jared might not be okay. But even with a new link between herself and Ash, Kami isn’t sure she will be strong enough to fight Rob Lynburn and save Sorry-in-the-Vale.

Rob is demanding a sacrifice. And Kami isn’t sure her town is strong enough to resist. Kami will have to risk everything in order to save her town and the people she loves in Unmade (2014) by Sarah Rees Brennan.

Find it on Bookshop.

Unmade is the third book in Rees Brennan’s Lynburn Legacy trilogy which begins with Unspoken and continues in Untold. Rees Brennan pulls no punches in this action-packed final book.

The novel picks up a few months after the conclusion of Untold with Kami and her friends still reeling from Jared’s disappearance and Rob’s crushing victory in taking control of Sorry-in-the-Vale.

With time running out and the stakes climbing ever higher, Kami and her friends face impossible choices (and sacrifice in their efforts to save their town). These moments are tempered with Rees Brennan’s signature wit and the banter readers of this series have come to expect. Unmade also happily features Kami’s father, the delightfully irreverent Jon Glass, and Lillian Lynburn in more prominent roles.

Although Unmade is very action-driven, the story also spends time with all of the characters readers have come to love in this series. Readers coming to this series for the romance will not be disappointed as Kami gets to deal with kissing and break ups while fighting evil and performing magic. Watching Lillian’s changing feelings about Ash and Jared is especially touching while Kami’s own changing family dynamic is suitably realistic.

Unmade is a clever ending to a truly unique trilogy. Rees Brennan takes time to give each character the sendoff that they deserve. This series is highly recommended for readers looking for a modern take on the Gothic novel, witty banter, and loads of excitement.

Possible Pairings: Compulsion by Martina Boone, City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, Enchanted Ivy by Sarah Beth Durst, Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, A Dark and Starless Forest by Sarah Hollowell, The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones, Dreamology by Lucy Keating, The Devil and Winnie Flynn by Micol Ostow and David Ostow, Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter, It Wasn’t Always Like This by Joy Preble, Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt, A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab, The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, The Dolls by Kiki Sullivan, Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin, The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff, Veronica Mars

Untold: A Review

*Untold is the second book in Rees Brennan’s Lynburn Legacy trilogy which begins with Unspoken. As such this review contains major spoilers for book one!*

“Let’s not front. We all know magic is real.”

Untold by Sarah Rees BrennanKami Glass thought she knew everything there was to know about her small English town Sorry-in-the-Vale; she was certain she had her town’s story figured out.

Then the Lynburns came back, bringing magic with them as well as Jared Lynburn–the boy Kami has known for her entire life as a voice inside her head.

Now everything is changing in Sorry-in-the-Vale. Even the boy Kami thought she knew better than anyone. With their link broken, Jared feels farther away than ever and Kami isn’t sure how they can ever bridge the new and foreign distance between them.

Rob Lynburn is gathering his sorcerers and preparing to make Sorry-in-the-Vale a battleground as he tries to bring the old ways ways back to town when sorcerers ruled and everyone else cowered.

Kami has never been much for cowering.

Everyone tells Kami that without magic she is helpless and of no use when sorcerers choose to fight. Kami refuses to believe that. Trouble is coming to Sorry-in-the-Vale. Kami intends to do her part in the thick of it in Untold (2013) by Sarah Rees Brennan.

Find it on Bookshop.

Untold is the second book in Rees Brennan’s Lynburn Legacy which begins with Unspoken.

Untold picks up shortly after the shocking conclusion of Unspoken. Kami and Jared are barely speaking. Sorcerers are choosing sides. Life in Sorry-in-the-Vale has never been messier. Or more dangerous.

Rees Brennan once again delivers a refreshing blend of witty humor and chilling moments in this decidedly modern take on Gothic mysteries. Untold expands the world of Sorry-in-the-Vale as Kami uses her journalist know-how to research more about the town’s history and the role of the Lynburns therein.

Kami’s ensemble of friends (and potential love interests) returns in this installment. Everyone is as dimensional and well-written as they were in book one. Third person narration and shifting viewpoints also help to give secondary characters larger storylines and more opportunities for witty banter.

Untold is very much building to the conclusion of this series in Unmade and has quite cliffhanger ending as a result. At the same time, Untold also has a contained and generally complete arc for the characters. This books offers a thoughtful exploration of what it means to be dependent on a person versus what it means to have a person on whom you can depend. Rees Brennan artfully explores character relationships, particularly between Kami and Jared, as our intrepid heroes are forced to test their mettle both together and apart throughout the novel.

Untold is a story all about choosing who you want at your side and holding on tight. Another excellent installment in a favorite series. Highly recommended.

Possible Pairings: Compulsion by Martina Boone, City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, Enchanted Ivy by Sarah Beth Durst, Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, A Dark and Starless Forest by Sarah Hollowell, The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones, Dreamology by Lucy Keating, The Devil and Winnie Flynn by Micol Ostow and David Ostow, Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter, It Wasn’t Always Like This by Joy Preble, Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt, A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab, The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, The Dolls by Kiki Sullivan, Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin, The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff, Veronica Mars

The Girl Who Could Not Dream: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

The Girl Who Could Not Dream by Sarah Beth DurstSophie has always loved her parents’ secret shop, the one hidden below their book shop, where dreams are bought and sold. The business of distilling, bottling and sorting dreams has always been fascinating to Sophie, especially since she never has dreams of her own.

When the dream shop is robbed and her parents go missing, Sophie will have to follow the clues to try and save them. With her best friend–a snarky monster named Monster–at her side, Sophie will have to decide who she can trust and who she can ask for help in order to protect her family and their secrets in The Girl Who Could Not Dream (2015) by Sarah Beth Durst.

Find it on Bookshop.

The Girl Who Could Not Dream has a carefully executed fantasy system that makes sense for the plot and also immediately draws readers into the story. Durst expertly evokes the dream shop run by Sophie’s parents as well as the complex distillation process. Moments of humor and often improbably creatures (ninja bunnies!) blend well with genuinely scary nightmares as Sophie follows the trail to her missing parents.

Sophie is a determined protagonist even as she struggles with trying to make new friends and keeping her family’s secrets. Along the way Sophie also gets help from equally entertaining characters including Monster (her best friend) and Ethan, a classmate who suffers from terrifying nightmares.

The Girl Who Could Not Dream is a charming fantasy novel perfect for readers of all ages. Highly recommended for readers who like their thrills and chills tempered with some good laughs.

Possible Pairings: A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine, A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, Rules for Stealing Stars by Corey Ann Haydu, The Year of Shadows by Claire Legrand, Mister Monday by Garth Nix

*An advance copy of this book was acquired from the publisher for review consideration at BEA 2015*

Be sure to check out my interview with Sarah about this novel!

Author Interview #7: Sarah Beth Durst on The Girl Who Could Not Dream

Sarah Beth Durst author photoSarah Beth Durst is here today to talk about her latest middle grade novel, The Girl Who Could Not Dream. This book is a ton of fun. It’s about a girl whose family sells dreams, a monster named Monster, ninja bunnies, and more!

Miss Print (MP): What was the inspiration for The Girl Who Could Not Dream?

Sarah Beth Durst (SBD): Dreams.

I don’t mean that the story came to me in a dream — it didn’t. But once, I had this magnificent dream in which I was a dragonrider tasked with defending the planet against alien ninja robots… and then I forgot what happened.

You see, I have always had vivid dreams that slip away in the glare of the day’s light, and I’ve always wished I could bottle up those dreams to re-live later.

In THE GIRL WHO COULD NOT DREAM, Sophie and her family own a dream shop where they buy, bottle, and sell dreams. Drink a bottle, and you’ll dream that dream.

So really, the inspiration was: I want my own dream shop!

 MP: Sophie is the youngest character you’ve had since your debut novel Into the Wild. How was it writing a younger middle grade novel again?

SBD: I love writing for all ages — there’s something wonderful and magical about each age group. Right now, for example, I’m working on an epic trilogy for adults and loving every second. It’s such an immersive experience. I’m also working on a picture book, and there’s a great joy to be found in playing with such precision of language.

The joy in writing for kids is that you can be both silly and sincere at the same time. You can write about a rainbow-pooping unicorn completely unironically. And you can write about firsts — the first time a character steps out on her own, the first time she encounters magic, the first time she learns to be strong, the first time she makes a new friend.

When you write about a twelve year old experiencing her first adventure, you get to feel and see and experience all those firsts with her.

MP: Sophie’s parents run a dream shop where they sell dreams (and nightmares!) to buyers of all kinds. If you could buy any dream, what would it be? Is there any dream you’d like to get rid of or sell to someone else?

SBD: I’d buy a dream that was like the books I love: fantasy. Give me a dragon or a talking wolf or an enchanted sword, and I’d be happy.

As for any dream I’d like to get rid of… you can take the boring ones. I could do without any more missing-the-train or can’t-find-the-bathroom dreams, thank you very much.

MP: As the title suggests, Sophie does not have dreams. If you had a choice would you want to give up dreaming?

SBD: Never! I often lie still in the morning trying to remember every second of my dream before it slips away. They fade so very fast!

MP: I love the cover of this novel because it does such a good job of bringing the characters from the story to life, especially Sophie’s best friend Monster. Where did he come from? Did you always know what he would look like?

SBD: The cover art was done by Andrea Femerstrand, and I think she did an absolutely fantastic job. Monster looks EXACTLY like I pictured him. I swear she scooped him right out of my brain. Those lemur eyes! And the golden tongue! She captured his attitude perfectly too.

Monster was born fully-formed in my imagination. I knew from the very first paragraph of the novel what he looked like, what he sounded like, and the fact that he really, really loves cupcakes.

Don’t tell my other characters, but he’s actually my favorite that I’ve ever written. I want my own Monster!

MP: Did you have a favorite dream creature to write about in this novel? (I’m especially partial to the ninja bunnies!)

SBD: Monster, obviously. And I love my ninja bunnies. The one who surprised me as I was writing, though, was Glitterhoof, the arrogant, rainbow-pooping unicorn. He trotted onto the page and insisted he play a role.

(It’s really disconcerting when characters do that, especially since I always write with an outline. But I’m happy to toss out the outline if my subconscious presents an option I like better. Writing a novel is often an exercise in trusting yourself. You have to believe in your own innate sense of story and character. It’s not always easy, but if you don’t, well, that’s often where writer’s block comes from. Trust yourself!)

MP: Which scene are you especially excited for readers to get to in The Girl Who Could Not Dream?

SBD: I am most excited for readers to meet Sophie and Monster. They became my friends as I was writing them, and I hope they’ll become readers’ friends too.

But if you want a specific scene… I think Monster and the chocolate milk.

MP: You have a lot of novels in the works. Can you tell us anything about your next projects? (Do you think you’ll ever return to Sophie and her family?)

SBD: Right now, I am working on an epic fantasy trilogy for adults. The first book is called THE QUEEN OF BLOOD, and it will come out in fall 2016 from Harper Voyager. It’s about bloodthirsty nature spirits and the women who can control them, and I’m so, so, so excited about it!

Thanks so much for interviewing me!

Thanks to Sarah for taking the time to answer my questions!

For more information about Sarah and her books you can also visit her website.

You can also check out our previous interviews discussing Sarah’s other novels Enchanted Ivy, Drink, Slay, Love, Vessel, Conjured, The Lost and Chasing Power.

If you want to know more about The Girl Who Could Not Dream be sure to check out my  review.

The Devil and Winnie Flynn: A Review

The Devil and Winnie Flynn by Micol Ostow and David OstowSeventeen-year-old Winnie Flynn doesn’t know why her mother killed herself. All she knows is that her dad said yes when Winnie’s estranged aunt Maggie proposed that Winnie spend the summer with her. Now Winnie is working as a production assistant on Fantastic Fearsome, the reality TV show Maggie produces and hosts.

This season the show has fresh, young talent (including one Devil Hunter named Seth who is as earnest as he is cute) and big plans to track down the famous Jersey Devil.

As much as she loves horror movies, Winnie doesn’t believe in ghosts–or the Devil. But as she gets to know the Hunters and learns more about the Devil’s strange history, Winnie begins to wonder if there might be some fact to the fantastic here.

Soon, Winnie realizes her family may have a stronger connection to the Devil than she could have imagined. But even Winnie’s firm skepticism and calm might not be enough to keep her safe in The Devil and Winnie Flynn (2015) by Micol Ostow with illustration by David Ostow.

The Devil and Winnie Flynn is the second collaboration from the Ostow siblings.

Written as a scrapbook-style letter for Winnie’s friend Lucia, The Devil and Winnie Flynn is a mixed media adventure filled with illustrations, shooting scripts, and other ephemera beyond the traditional narrative including appropriately eerie depictions of choice Jersey locations.

Winnie’s dry humor and skepticism throughout the narrative keeps this novel firmly grounded even as the story moves into decidedly “fantastic” territory complete with magical powers, mysterious guardians and other psychic phenomena.

A quick finish and unanswered questions about Winnie’s mother will leave readers hoping that The Devil and Winnie Flynn is the start to a series. The Devil and Winnie Flynn is a fun and campy horror novel filled with real details about the Devil and evocative New Jersey locations sure to have high appeal for horror fans.

Possible Pairings: Enchanted Ivy by Sarah Beth Durst, Ghost Huntress by Marley Gibson, Bad Kitty by Michele Jaffe, The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos, It Wasn’t Always Like This by Joy Preble, Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan, I Woke Up Dead at the Mall by Judy Sheehan, Veronica Mars

*A more condensed version of this review appeared in the 2015 issue of School Library Journal from which it can be seen on various sites online*

Week in Review: October 25

missprintweekreviewThis week on the blog you can check out:

I was sick most of this week with a weirdly stubborn cold. Between that and the time it took to recap the Book Buzz thing I attended last week, there isn’t much else to report.

If you want to see how my month in reading is shaking out be sure to check out my October Reading Tracker.

How was your week?

AAP Children’s Tri-State Book Buzz 2015: Event Recap Part 3

Last week I got to attend the American Association of Publisher’s Tri-State Book Buzz event. Book Buzz is an all-day event (at Random House HQ this year) where various publishers give brief presentations highlighting the new titles they will have in the upcoming publishing season (Spring 2016 in this case).

This is my attempt at a recap although there was SO much going on that I’m sure I’ll miss some good stuff. If you want to see what other people had to say about it on social media, you can check out the hashtag #BookBuzz2015 which attendees used to highlight the children’s/YA day (which I attended) as well as the adult one.




  • Arctic White by Danna Smith, illustrated by Lee White (January 2016) is about a girl and her grandfather going to see the Northern Lights and it looks absolutely charming.
  • When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for Every Season by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Julie Morstad is a beautiful looking collection of seasonal poems.
  • Philip C. Stead returns with a new solo picture book called Ideas Are All Around (March 2016) with a combination of photos and illustrations that follows an author around his neighborhood as he looks for inspiration.
  • Where’s the Party? by Ruth Chan (April 2016) is picture book about a cat who loves to party. But where is the party?
  • Terror at Battle Creek by Watt Key (January 2016) is a middle grade novel that follows kids left behind in the chaos of evacuation during a category three hurricane.
  • Faith Erin Hicks has a new middle grad trilogy starting with The Nameless City (April 2016). The Nameless City is constantly being invaded and renamed but the residents know that no name will hold for long.
  • Underwater (January 2016) is Marie Reichardt’s YA debut that takes place in the aftermath of a tragic high school shooting as the main character grapples with survivor’s guilt and a father with PTSD.
  • Flawed by Cecelia Ahern (April 2016) is a YA debut being touted as Divergent meets The Scarlet Letter.


  • A Year in the Life of a Complete and Total Genius by Stacey Matson (November 2015) is the start of a middle grade series about a boy coming to grips with the death of his mother. The ephemera format also promises that the book will appeal to reluctant readers.
  • The Night Parade by Kathryn Tanquary (January 2016) is being touted as Spirited Away meets A Christmas Carol. The story features a Japanese heroine, 3 nights, 3 guides and 3 chances to break the curse!
  • Just Like Me by Nancy J. Cavanaugh (April 2016) is a diverse story about a girl with two adopted Chinese sisters. It also has summer camp and shenanigans!
  • Until We Meet Again by Renee Collins (November 2015) is being called a time slip mystery with a dual POV. Color me excited.
  • The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever by Jeff Strand (March 2016) is filled with dark humor. The publicist presenting this title said it was like The Hangover but in high school and with a zombie movie. Despite the comparison the book is also a clean read.
  • Cori McCarthy’s latest You Were Here (March 2016) is an “emotionally cathartic page-turner.” The novel includes multiple POVs that follow traditional prose format, graphic novel format from character who is a selective mute and one told in art poetry.
  • Don’t Get Caught by Kurt Dinan (April 2016) is a debut about a prank club and characters seeking payback Ocean’s 11 style. Sure to have high reluctant reader appeal.
  • My Kind of Crazy by Robin Reul (April 2016) is another debut receiving comparisons to The Spectacular Now and Freaks & Geeks. It’s a friend story with promposal fail.

Chronicle Books:

  • Molly Idle returns with Flora and the Peacocks (May 2016) about the challenges of a three person friendship.
  • President Squid by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Sara Varon (March 2016) follows the exploits a squid who knows all of the ins and outs of becoming president. Ties, for instance, are VERY presidential!
  • Gena/Finn by Kat Helgeson and Hannah Moskowitz (April 2016) is a story about fan fiction, online friends and slash fic! All in an epistolary format!
  • Beth Kephart’s latest This is the Story of You (April 2016) is a mystery set in a town ravaged by a superstorm.

Soho Teen:

  • Barnabas Miller began writing his novel The Girl With the Wrong Name (November 2015) with the question “How would you tell yourself a story that you didn’t know you needed to tell yourself?”
  • I’m From Nowhere by Suzanne Myers (January 2016) is a companion to Stone Cove Island. It’s about a girl sent to boarding school by her single mother who has no clues about who her father is. It’s being pitched as a novel perfect for fans of subculture/chosen family novels like This Song Will Save Your Life.
  • It Wasn’t Always Like This by Joy Preble (May 2016) is Tuck Everlasting meets Veronica Mars and that, frankly, is all I needed to hear.
  • Little White Lies by Brianna Baker and F. Bowman Hastie III (February 2016) is a story of “millennial mayhem and magic” according to Rita Williams-Garcia. It’s also the story of how we construct identities online with alternate formatting besides.

Quirk Books:

  • Warren the 13th by Tania Del Rio, Wilhelm Staehle (November 2015) is a series starter that is ideal for fans of Coraline, Wes Anderson and Edward Gorey.
  • Quirk is also making a illustrated storybook of Home Alone just in time for the 25th anniversary. Watch for that this month!

Sterling Publishing:

  • Cici Reno #MiddleSchoolMatchmaker is Cyrano for the digital age.
  • In Mr. Particular even a complainer can save the day!
  • I Am NOT a Dinosaur is based on the AMNH collections and explains that not every pre-historic creature was a dinosaur.

Perseus Books:

  • Inherit the Stars by Tessa Elwood is being described as Game of Thrones. In space.
  • One of Us by Jeannie Waudby is a military suspense story about a girl who has to figure out who to trust and how to stay alive after being recruited by an insurgent spy organization.

Penguin Young Readers Group:

  • Ruta Septeys returns with a new historical fiction novel. In Salt to the Sea (February 2016) she explores the biggest maritime disaster in history (a German ship that sank during WWII) in this novel told from 4 POVs.
  • Where Futures End  by Parker Peeveyhouse (February 2016) is a debut sci-fi with 5 POVs. It’s being compared to one of my favorite novels of all time, The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick, which is all I needed to hear.
  • Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton (March 2016) is being pitched as Arabian Nights meets Mockingjay. Also: Genies! In the wild west!
  • The Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox (March 2016) asks readers an important question: “Would you rather be trapped in an old Scottish castle with a ghost or a Nazi spy?
  • Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer (February 2016) is a debut picture book where a little boy asks different animals, “what is poetry?” with illustrations reminiscent of Ezra Jack Keats.
  • Marilyn Singer and Josee Masse deliver another reverso poem collaboration in Echo, Echo (February 2016) which looks at and retells Greek myths.
  • Hoot and Peep by Lita Judge (March 2016) is an owl story so of course I’m excited. Hoot is the older brother teaching his wise owl ways to little sister Peep in this bedtime story.
  • Ten Days A Mad Woman by Deborah Noyes (February 2016) is a new biography about Nellie Bly and how awesome she was.

Little, Brown:

  • In Are We There Yet? by Dan Santat (April 2016) time starts to go so slowly that it begins to go backwards on a long roadtrip.
  • Sherman Alexie makes his picture book debut in Thunder Boy Jr. illustrated by Yuyi Morales (May 2016) in which Little Thunder wants a new name and he and his father have to figure out what it should be. I wish I had some artwork to show you all because it looks absolutely stunning.
  • In The Sound of Silence by Katrina Goldsaito, illustrated by Julia Kuo (August 2016) a boy in Tokyo looks for the silence between sounds.
  • Peter Brown makes his middle grade debut in The Wild Robot (April 2016) in which a robot alien has to take care of a baby goose and soon becomes part of the natural world.
  • Matthew Quick has a new YA coming called Every Exquisite Thing (May 2016) where a girl befriends a reclusive author in this celebration of self.
  • Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse (April 2016) was blurbed by Elizabeth Wein. It’s a WWII/Holocaust story that explores the ways in which “we are all heroes and villains at the same time.”
  • Annabel Pitcher is back with Silence is Goldfish (May 2016) in which a girl finds out, through a blog post, that she was conceived via IVF with a sperm donor. Shocked by this news she stops speaking and goes looking for her biological father. I’m not sure if the book is even in print anymore but this one sounds a lot like Donor Boy to me.

AAP Children’s Tri-State Book Buzz 2015: Event Recap Part 2

Last week I got to attend the American Association of Publisher’s Tri-State Book Buzz event. Book Buzz is an all-day event (at Random House HQ this year) where various publishers give brief presentations highlighting the new titles they will have in the upcoming publishing season (Spring 2016 in this case).

This is my attempt at a recap although there was SO much going on that I’m sure I’ll miss some good stuff. If you want to see what other people had to say about it on social media, you can check out the hashtag #BookBuzz2015 which attendees used to highlight the children’s/YA day (which I attended) as well as the adult one.


Bloomsbury Children’s Books:

  • I’ve been hearing nothing but amazingly good things about Be A Friend by Salina Yoon (January 2016) and I have to say I’ve never wanted a mime book more.
  • Mousquerade Ball (May 2016) is a rhyming counting tale from power duo Lori Mortenson and illustrator Betsy Lewin.
  • Blue in the Face: A Story of Risk, Rhyme, and Rebellion by Gerry Swallow (December 2015) is a story set in a world of fracture nursery rhymes. In this “hilarious and irreverant” tale the main character is a girl whose super power is throwing epic tantrums by holding her breath.
  • How to Capture an Invisible Cat by Paul Tobin (March 2016): Sometimes a genius needs to do something dumb to unwind. Like make his pet cat gigantic and invisible. Recommended for reluctant readers.
  • Carrie Jones makes her middle grade debut in Time Stoppers (May 2016) which is a start to what is being called a “whimsical and sweeping” trilogy.
  • When We Collided by Emery Lord (April 2016) needs no further introduction I am sure.
  • Burning by Danielle Rollins (April 2016) is a story about girls in a detention facility. This psychological thriller also has the BEST tagline: “Monsters are much more interesting than heroes.”
  • Printz winner Nick Lake is back with a “fresh high concept tale” set in New Jersey in Whisper to Me (May 2016) which is a summer romance told in reverse.
  • The Leaving by Tara Altebrando (June 2016) promises to be a real page turner (blurbed by E. Lockhart!) about six children who were kidnapped. And the five who came back as teens.

MICRO-TREND ALERT: Thrillers are IN right now. I would even go so far as to call this a full-on trend. Forget the micro part.

Griffin Teen, Flatiron Books, Tor Teen & Starscape:

This one was tag-teamed by two publicists so there were LOTS. OF. BOOKS.

  • Truthwitch by Susan Dennard (January 5, 2016): epic fantasy where the main focus is friends NOT an all-consuming romance.
  • Riders by Veronica Rossi (February 2, 2016) is a dark fantasy where the four horsemen have to save the world.
  • Character Driven by Dave Lubar (March 1, 2016) is a funny book with an unreliable narrator. And no sci-fi elements despite coming from Tor.
  • If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo (May 6, 2016) is a high school romance with a transgender main character. The young woman on the cover is also a transgender model and I just think it’s great.
  • In American Girls by Allison Umminger (June 7, 2016) a girl runs away to LA only to have to find a job to work to earn enough to make her way back home.
  • In Real Life by Jessica Love (March 1, 2016) sounds a lot like Tonight the Streets Are Ours to me with its interplay or real life and online personas. It was also pitched as “The Hangover meets My Best Friend’s Wedding but for teens” so I really don’t know what more you need.

MICRO-TREND ALERT: Lots of stuff is being comped to The Hangover which I find oddly delightful.

  • Roshani Chokshi’s The Star-Touched Queen (May 3, 2016) is a fantasy inspired by Indian folklore.
  • The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You by Lily Anderson (May 17, 2016) is a debut that retells Much Ado About Nothing. I never did get to that play but I for one am intrigued.

HarperCollins Children’s Books:

  • I feel deeply and intensely betrayed by all of my bookish friends who never told me that Kevin Henkes and Laura Dronzek are married in real life. They have a new book coming called When Spring Comes (February 9, 2016) which looks lovely.
  • Pax by Sarah Pennypacker (illustrated by Jon Klassen) (February 2, 2016) is a publicist favorite about a boy and his fox.
  • Cammie McGovern makes her middle grade debut with Just My Luck (February 23, 2016) about a boy in fourth grade who has to deal with the chaos in his life while watching out for his brother who is autistic.
  • Wing & Claw by Linda Sue Park (March 1, 2016) is a series starter. With talking bats.
  • All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor (March 1, 2016) is a book about a boy raised in the correctional facility where his mother is an inmate. Pitched as perfect for fans of Wonder and When You Reach Me.
  • Lauren Myracle has a new book called Wishing Day (May 2016) which sounds like a charming middle grade about the magic of wishing.
  • Front Lines by Michael Grant (January 26, 2016) is the start to a new alternate history series where girl soldiers are on the front lines of World War II.
  • The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig is a debut novel about a girl who can time travel. Pitched as Rae Carson meets Outlander.

MICRO-TREND ALERT: Many time travel novels are coming and I couldn’t be happier about it!

Albert Whitman & Co.:

  • The William Hoy Story by Nancy Churnin, illustrated by Jez Tuya (March 2016) looks awesome. William Hoy was a deaf baseball player who did not get a spot on the local deaf league. So he practiced and played until he became a professional player. Being deaf, Hoy had difficulty following the umpires calls and eventually worked with them to create the hand signals that are still used today. How cool is that?!
  • How Kate Warne Saved President Lincoln by Elizabeth Van Steenwyk, illustrated by Valentina Belloni (March 2016) tells the story of the first female Pinkerton detective and how she saved the president from a failed assassination attempt.
  • Of Better Blood by Susan Moger (February 2016) was blurbed by one of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Wein. It’s about a girl who recovers from polio and becomes tangled in the Eugenics movement that swept the US in 1922.

WW Norton & Co:

  • The Big Adventure of a Little Line by Serge Bloch (February 2016) is a story about a boy who finds a line and picks it up without another thought. A story about artistic development.
  • Miro’s Magic Animals by Antony Penrose (April 2016) looks at the famous artist’s work through a child’s eyes.
  • AbZzzz… A Bedtime Alphabet by Isabel Minhos Martins and Yara Kono (May 2016) is a fun bedtime alphabet book.

Harlequin Teen:

  • In Firstlife by Gena Showalter (February 2016) there is, in fact, life after death. And you get to choose where you live.
  • Heir to the Sky by Amanda Sun (April 2016) is a standalone high fantasy pitched as “Final Fantasy meets Castle in the Air.”
  • Bestseller Jennifer L. Armentrout is back with The Problem With Forever about a girl in foster care who has been homeschooled but decides to go to public school in her senior year.

After the break for lunch it was time for our second guest speaker. Barnabas Miller talked to the audience about his latest title The Girl With the Wrong Name which sounds absolutely fascinating. The story stems from some very personal inspiration for Miller and after hearing him speak, I cannot wait to read it.

Simon & Schuster:

  • I don’t actually have notes for The Night Gardener by the Fan Brothers (February 2013) but it has three stars on my handout and an owl topiary and magic and I have never needed a picture book so badly in my life.
  • Debut author Amber Smith’s The Way I Used to Be (March 2016) is being likened to Speak and takes place in four parts that span the main character’s four years in high school.
  • We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson (January 2016) follows a teen boy who must decide if the world is worth saving.
  • Tim Federle makes his YA debut in The Great American Whatever (March 2016) which is being called “laugh out loud sad.”

Check back for Part three later this week!

Dumplin’: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Dumplin' by Julie MurphyWillowdean Dickson has always been comfortable in her own skin. Even when she knows small-minded people might make unfavorable comparisons between Will and her beautiful best friend, Ellen. But Will knows who she is and she is okay with it. At least, she thinks she is until she takes a summer job working at Harpy’s–a local burger joint–alongside Private School Bo.

Bo is a former jock and totally hot. Of course Will is attracted to him. What gives her pause is that Bo seems to be attracted to her too.

When this unexpected romance makes Will question everything she thought she knew about herself (and her self-esteem), she knows it’s time to take a step back and make a change.

Inspired by all of the things her aunt let herself miss out on because of her weight, Willowdean decides to enter the Miss Clover City beauty pageant to prove to herself and everyone else (and maybe even her mother) that she can.

Entering the pageant might be the worst idea Will has ever had but with help from her friends, inspiration from Dolly Parton, and a lot of humor along the way, Willowdean will take Clover City by storm in Dumplin’ (2015) by Julie Murphy.

Find it on Bookshop.

Dumplin’ has a very strong sense of place as Willowdean’s first person narration brings her small Texas town to life complete with its quirks and charms. And a love of Dolly Parton, of course.

Will is a charming and authentic narrator. Like many people, she has moments of doubt and often gets in her own way when it comes to being happy. She is also refreshingly self-aware and can identify these behaviors even if she can’t always stop them. While it’s hard in parts Dumplin’ to watch Willowdean being her own worst enemy, it’s also incredibly empowering to see her get it right and go after what she really wants.

Murphy’s sophomore novel highlights a lot of diverse lifestyles in this story including single parent homes, poor families, and some others that I can’t mention because they’re small spoilers.

Dumplin’ is an effervescent novel with a lot of heart and as much charm is its one-of-a-kind heroine. Recommended for readers looking for a sweet romance, thoughtful characters and an empowering story. Bonus appeal for readers who enjoy stories that feature beauty pageants.

Possible Pairings: The Sweetheart of Prosper County by Jill S. Alexander, Harley in the Sky by Akemi Dawn Bowman, Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo, Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg, You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson, The Truth Commission by Susan Juby, The Romantics by Leah Konen, How to Be Brave by E. Katherine Kottaras, In Real Life by Jessica Love, The Rites and Wrongs of Janice Wills by Joanna Pearson, If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo, Vibes by Amy Kathleen Ryan, Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales, Absolutely Maybe by Lisa Yee

*An advance copy of this book was acquired from the publisher for review consideration at BEA 2015*

AAP Children’s Tri-State Book Buzz 2015: Event Recap Part 1

Last week I got to attend the American Association of Publisher’s Tri-State Book Buzz event. Book Buzz is an all-day event (at Random House HQ this year) where various publishers give brief presentations highlighting the new titles they will have in the upcoming publishing season (Spring 2016 in this case).

This is my attempt at a recap although there was SO much going on that I’m sure I’ll miss some good stuff. If you want to see what other people had to say about it on social media, you can check out the hashtag #BookBuzz2015 which attendees used to highlight the children’s/YA day (which I attended) as well as the adult one.

The day started bright and early with welcome notes from Chris Vaccari before the morning keynote from Andrea Davis Pinkney.

Andrea Davis Pinkney gave a fantastic presentation about the inspiration and writing process for her latest book Rhythm Ride: A Road Trip Through the Motown Sound. I’ve never seen Andrea Davis Pinkney in person before but I sure hope I have a chance to now. Her presentation was fantastic complete with some Motown songs and great visuals. The book is close to her heart and it was fascinating hearing about the research that went into it. While Rhythm Ride is an obvious choice for music fans, I think it will also have a lot of appeal for any non-fiction fans and reluctant readers as well.

After that it was time to dive right into the publishers presentations. (Huge shoutout to all of the intrepid publicists/editors and marketing people who were on point talking up their latest and greatest titles.)

First up we had. . .

Disney Book Group and some of the titles I’m really excited about:

  • Pigs and a Blanket by James Burk (April 5, 2016) is a picture book about siblings learning to share when their favorite blanket rips.
  • Good Night Owl by Greg Pizzoli (April 19, 2016) is about an owl who hears a noise when he tries to go to sleep. What readers realize (before owl) is that the noise is a very sneaky mouse!
  • Elizabeth Started All the Trouble by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Matt Faulkner (February 23, 2016) looks fantastic. The only notes I have are “Elizabeth Cady Stanton! Suffrage!” but just trust me it looks amazing.

MICRO-TREND ALERT: In my totally informal findings, there are a lot of books coming out about Woman Suffrage and I am excited about it!

  • Mo Willems will be wrapping up his 25 book Elephant and Piggie series with The Thank You Book (May 3, 2016)
  • Powerhouse duo Sara Pennypacker and Marla Frazee will start a Clementine spin-off series with Waylon! One Awesome Thing (April 5, 2016) with the familiar gang but now in fourth grade.
  • Stranded on Planet Stripmall! by Tom Angleberger (March 8, 2016) is an adventure featuring Rocket and Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy which looks delightful. Rocket tells most of the story but Groot gets to illustrate parts at the end which will be done by John Rocco.
  • Shadow Magic by Joshua Khan (April 12, 2016) is the start to a new series where a girl escapes from a kingdom where magic is prohibited. But she’ll have to learn if she want to save her kingdom.
  • Rick Riordan will return to Camp Halfblood in The Hidden Oracle (May 3, 2016).
  • Obviously I am already SUPER excited about Passenger by Alexandra Bracken (January 5, 2016) because I am a superfan. For those who are not: It’s Bracken’s riff on Outlander themes with time travel and adventure and romance.
  • Disney’s next Twisted Tale will be Once Upon a Dream by Liz Braswell (April 5, 2016). It will work around the question: What if Sleeping Beauty never woke up? Instead Prince Phillip also falls asleep when he kisses Aurora and Aurora will have to fight out of her dreams. I know reviews were mixed for A Whole New World but I’m hoping for something cool here.
  • Holding Smoke by Elle Cosimano (May 3, 2016) follows Smoke, a boy in juvenile detention for a crime he didn’t commit who uses his ability to astral project to try and find the real culprit.
  • Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider (May 3, 2016) is a debut about Sloane who finds out her BFF is pregnant–with Sloane’s boyfriend’s baby–right before heading on her summer vacation.

NorthSouth Books:

  • Mr. Hulot on the Beach by David Merveille (May 1, 2016) features the Inspector Closseau like Hulot in another wordless adventure–this time on the beach.
  • Sebastian Meschenmoser returns with Gordon and Tapir (April 1, 2016) which features an odd couple pair of friends. Except this time the friends realize they realy are better off living apart.
  • Surf’s Up by Kwame Alexander with illustrations by  Daniel Miyares (February 1, 2016) follows surfer frogs Dude and Bro as they spend the day at the beach were, much to Bro’s dismay, Dude wants to keep reading Moby Dick.


  • A Birthday Cake for George Washington by Ramin Ganeshram, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton (January 5, 2016) is a beautiful book about a real-life birthday cake for Washington. Complete with recipe. From a food writer.
  • Two Friends by Dean Robbins, illustrated by husband and wife power couple Sean Qualls and Selina Alko (January 5, 2016) is about the friendship of Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony. I’ve seen Alko and Qualls talk about illustrating this book twice already at work and I am more excited about it every time.
  • Emma and Julia Love Ballet by Barbary McClintock looks like a delightful ballet story. I want to highlight it here because the ballerina is a woman of color which I think is fantastic and timely.

MICRO-TREND ALERT: There are many books coming with characters named Emma. I guess it was only a matter of time.

  • Come Home, Angus by Patrick Downes, illustrated by Boris Kulikov (July 26, 2016) has a very Maurice Sendak vibe with an Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day kind of plot.
  • Rodman Philbrick imagines a world with no electricity anywhere in The Big Dark (January 5, 2016).
  • Ruby Lee and Me by Shannon Hitchcock (January 5, 2016) is a middle grade historical where a segregated town in North Carolina gets its first black teacher. Based on the author’s own experiences.
  • Kirby Lawson starts a new series about a bookworm longing for adventure with Audacity Jones to the Rescue (January 26, 2015).
  • Emma wants to have a dream that will reveal her destiny–just like everyone else in her family–in The Key to Extraordinary (February 23, 2016), Natalie Lloyd’s follow-up to A Snicker of Magic.
  • Beetle Boy by M. G. Leonard (February 23, 2016) is a trilogy starter about a boy hunting for his kidnapped father with humor and real science.
  • Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan (April 26, 2016) follows the unlikely friendship of Ravi and Joe, which started over a shared love of M and M’s in fifth grade.
  • Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart (January 26, 2016) is a western set in the 1890s where Joseph has to reclaim his horse when it is sold without his permission. This one also got comps to War Horse.
  • My Name is Not Friday by Jon Walter (January 5, 2016) sounds like a really powerful story. It starts with two free black boys at the end of the Civil War. One of them is sold into slavery and has to make his way back to freedom.
  • Goldy Moldavsky’s Kill the Boy Band (February 23, 2016) is an in-house favorite debut. The novel comes out in defense of fangirls with a “darkly funny murder mystery.”
  • Luanne Rice makes her YA debut with The Secret Language of Sisters (February 23, 2016) which follows a girl suffering from Locked In Syndrome while her sister tries to make sense of what is happening to her sister and to reconcile her guilt over the accident that caused it.
  • Jenny Downham is back with Unbecoming (February 23, 2016) which follows three generations in one dysfunctional family including a lesbian protagonist.
  • Paul Rudnick creates a Lizzie Lohan/Miley Cyrus type character in It’s All Your Fault (January 26, 2016) where her straight-laced cousin is tasked with keeping the actress in line before her big movie premier.
  • The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork (January 26, 2016) follows a girl who wakes up in a mental ward after trying to commit suicide. It already has three stars.
  • A non-fiction title which will publish simultaneously with an adult edition: Sabotage: The Mission to Destroy Hitler’s Atomic Bomb by Neal Bascomb (April 26, 2016).

Random House:

  • Raul Colon is illustrating a new picture book biography of Hillary Clinton called Hillary by Jonah Winer (January 5, 2016)
  • Beatrix Potter & the Unfortunate Tale of a Borrowed Guinea Pig by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Charlotte Voake (February 2, 2016) is a “mostly true story” of when young Beatrix borrowed a neighbor’s guinea pig to draw it from life. Only to have the guinea pig die while in her care!
  • Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit (January 26, 2016) is a debut that is being compared to The Book Thief. The story follows seven-year-old Anna in Poland during World War II.
  • The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock (February 23, 2016) is another debut about growing up in Alaska in the 1970s. Inspired by the author’s own life and compared to Alexie, Saenz and Rowell.
  • Jeff Zentner’s debut The Serpent King (March 8, 2016) follows the son of a Pentecostal preacher and his two fellow outcast friends confronting their own demons while navigating high school in a small Tennessee town.
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak will be getting a fancy tenth anniversary edition in both hardcover and paperback on March 8, 2016.
  • Julie Buxbaum makes her YA debut with Tell Me Three Things (April 5, 2016) and honestly just from the cover I can tell you that I need it in my life.
  • The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas (April 19, 2016) is being marketed as perfect for Gillian Flynn fans. It’s a psychological thriller about “the lies girls tell and the deadly truths those lies become.”

Little Bee Books:

  • I love Douglas Florian so I’m pretty excited about his new book The Wonderful Habits of Rabbits illustrated by Sonia Sanchez (February 2, 2016)
  • Little Bee’s “Look!” and “Blast Back!” series also look fantastic.

And that’s it for now! Check back for part two (and maybe three) which I hope to have up later this week!