Top Fives from Simon & Schuster’s Summer 2017 Educator and Librarian Preview

missprinttopfivesOn February 17 I attended Simon & Schuster’s Summer 2017 Educator and Librarian Preview. You may have been following the news with the publisher’s recent cancellation of a book by someone who can politely be called a far-right commentator (and who is a racist, homophobic, and misogynist). That’s worth remembering but I have to say I was pleased with how inclusive the list was for this upcoming season for their children’s imprints.

Big (to me) news from the event: Merit Press is now an imprint of Simon & Schuster after their acquisition of Adams Media. I’ve been following Merit titles for a long time and I’m excited to see them attached to one of the big publishers as I think it will lead to some more attention for them.

If you want to see more about the preview you can check out the #sskidspreview tag on Twitter and also look at my tweets from the preview.

Picture Books:

  1. This Beautiful Day by Richard Jackson, illustrated by Suzy Lee: A picture book so pretty it has no by-lines on the front cover (author attribution will be on the back). A thoughtful story about turning a gloomy day into a beautiful one. Coming August 2017
  2. Little Red Riding Sheep by Linda Ravin Lodding, illustrated by Cate Atkinson: What happens when an author tries to write a version of Little Red Riding Hood with a sheep who is afraid of the woods? Well, the sheep is definitely going to have something to say about it in this picture book that breaks the fourth wall. Perfect for fans of fracture fairy tales like Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs. Coming August 2017
  3. Rodzilla by Rob Sanders, illustrated by Dan Santat: Rodzilla is a chubby, slimy monster and he is wrecking havoc on town. But, (spoiler!) he is also a toddler taking seven big steps across his playroom. Coming May 2017
  4. Long May She Wave: The True Story of Caroline Pickersgill and her Star-Spangled Creation by Kristen Fulton, illustrated by Holly Berry: Did you know that the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner” was sewn by a thirteen-year-old girl who was working in the shop her mother owned? Coming May 2017
  5. Whobert Whover: Owl Detective by Jason Gallagher, illustrated by Jess Pauwels: Picture book about an owl detective asking the tough (and inevitably wrong) questions about the murder of his possum friend. Just take my money. Coming July 2017.

Middle Grade:

  1. Quicksand Pond by Janet Taylor Lisle: It still feels very surreal that I was in the same room as Janet Taylor Lisle. Her new book is about an unlikely friendship that forms between two girls from different backgrounds when they spend their summer days together on a raft. Coming May 2017.
  2. Pablo and Birdy by Alison McGhee, illustrated by Ana Juan: The story of a boy and his parrot. Pablo wants to know about his past and his biological parents while Birdy wonders why she can’t fly or talk like other parrots. This book is going to have a hint of fantasy and stunning illustrations. Coming August 2017.
  3. One Shadow on the Wall by Leah Henderson: A timely and heartbreaking middlegrade debut set in Senegal with poetic writing. Comparisons made to Between Shades of Gray. Coming June 2017.
  4. Three Pennies by Melanie Crowder: In her MG debut Crowder delivers a story about last chances and new opportunities with multiple points of view including an old owl. Coming May 2017.
  5. Our Story Begins edited by Elissa Brent Weissman: This anthology features a wide range of children’s book authors talking about how they begin writing or illustrating. Each piece is prefaced by a childhood picture of the author and includes a piece of their early work. Includes pieces from Dan Santat, Rita Williams Garcia, Grace Lin, and more! Coming July 2017.
  6. A Properly Unhaunted Place by William Alexander: What happens when a ghost-hunting librarian moves to a town where there aren’t any ghosts? Her daughter Rosa isn’t sure–especially when it turns out the ghosts aren’t just absent, they’re being kept away by something worse. Coming August 2017.

Young Adult:

  1. Sasquatch, Love, and Other Imaginary Things by Betsy Aldredge and Carrie Dubois Shaw: Samantha, a nice Jewish girl, is dragged onto a Yeti hunt with her parents as part of a reality show. To make matters worse, the whole thing is taking place near an elite boarding school where a Bollywood handsome boy has a front row seat to Samantha’s humiliation. Coming August 2017.
  2. Shimmer and Burn by Mary Taranta: A fantasy with magic that shines like gold until it is corrupted and begins to burn. Also political machinations. Need it yesterday. Coming August 2017.
  3. The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell: Gangs of New York. With magic. Do you actually need to know more? Coming July 2017.
  4. Saints and Misfits by S. K. Ali: This is one of the first YA titles coming from the Salaam Reads imprint. Described as My So-Called Life featuring a Muslim hijabi female lead obsessed with Flannery O’Connor. Compared to Fangirl and I’ll Give You the Sun. Coming June 2017.
  5. Two Roads From Here by Teddy Steinkeller: A Sliding Doors style story about five teens getting ready to graduate high school and what could happen if they went on the road not taken.Coming June 2017.

Top Fives from Macmillan’s Winter/Spring 2017 #MacKidsPreview

missprinttopfivesLast week Macmillan hosted their Librarian preview for Winter/Spring 2017. The event was at Macmillan headquarters in the Flatiron Building and organized by Macmillan’s School & Library marketing department. The preview covered books from Farrar Straus Giroux, Feiwel & Friends, Swoon Reads, Imprint, Henry Holt, Roaring Brook Press and First Second.

I was on the 14th floor in their room themed after Game On. Which you can see on my Twitter:

(You can also browse the #MacKidsPreview tag and my own tweets to see more thoughts on the preview and what Macmillan has coming up.)

MICRO TREND ALERT: Duologies are still very much a thing. Also seeing lots of exciting non-fiction, more mainstream graphic novels, and thrillers.

Picture Books:

  1. Don’t Blink by Tom Booth: This interactive picture book centers around a staring contest between various animals and the reader! (June 2017)
  2. Go Big of Go Gnome! by Kristen Mayer, illustrated Laura K. Horton: Al the garden gnome can’t grow and compete in the annual gnome beard championship (inspired by a real event). BUT it turns out he’s a great beard stylist! (March 2017)
  3. Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines by Jeanne Walker Harvey; illustrations by Dow Phumiruk: A picture book biography with lyrical, poetic text about the woman who designed the Vietnam War Memorial among other well-known projects. Illustrations by a new artists who, fun fact, is a full-time pediatrician. (May 2017)
  4. What’s Your Favorite Color? by Eric Carle and Friends: Artists talking about their favorite colors with accompanying illustrations. Eric Carle has been on a lifelong quest for the perfect yellow–a color that is notoriously difficult for artists to reproduce. Mike Curato likes mint because he loves mint ice cream. If you want to know more, you’ll have to read the book in May 2017.
  5. John Ronald’s Dragons: The Story of J. R. R. Tolkien by Caroline McAlister, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler: I don’t have much to say about this because the subtitle says it all and I got all Verklempt when I saw the illustrations. You need it. (March 2017)
  6. Now by Antoinette Portis: This contemplative picture book explores the joys of living in the now. Quote from the book: “This is my favorite now because it’s the one I’m having with you.” (July 2017)

Middle Grade:

  1. Game On: Video Game History from Pong and Pac-Man to Mario, Minecraft, and More by Dustin Hansen: A non-fiction book about the history and evolution of video games and their relationship to popular culture. Fast paced, short chapters, filled with illustrations and graphic sidebars. (November 2017)
  2. Blooming at the Texas Sunrise Motel by Kimberly Willis Holt: A modern day Heidi about a girl who is sent to live with her estranged grandfather after her parents die. (March 2017)
  3. Bravo! Poems About Amazing Hispanics by Margarita Engle, illustrations by Rafael Lopez: This book includes poems, illustrations, and biographical information about a variety of historical figures including Tito Puente, Pura Belpre, and more. (March 2017)
  4. Grand Canyon by Jason Chin: Another stunning non-fiction picture book from Chin this time about the Grand Canyon. Includes Chin’s usual photo-realistic illustrations which are even more stunning with a double page spread and die cuts. (February 2017)
  5. Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire by Susan Tan, illustrated by Dana Wulfekotte: Cilla is 1/2 white and 1/2 Chinese and completely delightful in this debut series starter where Cilla is writing her memoirs before her new baby sister is born. Grace Lin said meeting Cilla was like meeting a new best friend. Comp to Ramona. (March 2017)
  6. Real Friends by Shannon Hale, art by LeUyen Pham: Four color illustrations highly this story about making and losing first friends. Gene Yang described it as “so many feels.” (May 2017)

Young Adult:

  1. I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo: This one is a bit of a cheat because I already had it on my radar since the cover reveal (and even featured it on a YALSA list). But still excited! Want to know more? Here’s my annotation from that booklist: Desi Lee is a straight A student who knows CPR, car mechanics, and definitely has her application to Stanford well in hand. Love and flirting, however, remain a painful challenge. When Luca Drakos–probably the hottest guy ever–enters Desi’s life, she decides it’s time to improve her flirting game. And she knows exactly how to do it thanks to the Korean dramas her father loves. (May 2017)
  2. The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom: Thriller about a teenage girl searching for her kidnapped father. Compared to the Taken films. First in a duology. (February 2017)
  3. Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller: Another one I’ve been excited to read for awhile. Fantasy debut! Pirates! (February 2017)
  4. This one I’m cheating a little. I’ve been following Imprint since Erin Stein first introduced her new imprint at a preview last year. It’s been great watching Imprint grow and they have some awesome titles coming up including:
    • Freya by Matthew Laurence a contemporary fantasy about gods and goddesses who live among us. (March 2017)
    • The Traitor’s Kiss by Erin Beaty pitched as Jane Eyre with an espionage twist. First in a trilogy. (May 2017)
  5. Eye of the World: Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, and the Invention of Modern Photojournalism by Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos:  Aronson and Budhos, husband and wife authors, team up to look at some of the creators of photojournalism (as photographers started looking past slogans for real human connection) in this picture-filled book. (March 2017)
  6. Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman: This biography about Vincent and Theo Van Gogh, who wrote letters to each other for most of their lives is one of my most anticipated 2017 releases. (April 2017)

Top Fives from the #ABCPreview (Algonquin, Bloomsbury, Chronicle Books)

missprinttopfivesOn October 24 I was at The Manhattan Club for this year’s A. B. C. Preview. The preview showcases upcoming children’s and YA titles from Algonquin (and their imprint Workman), Bloomsbury , and Chronicle Books. Here are some of the titles I was most excited about.

Picture Books:

  1. Stand Up and Sing!: Pete Seeger, Folk Music, and the Path to Justice by Susanna Reich, illustrated by Adam Gustavson: This picture book biography chronicles Pete Seeger’s life through the lens of his commitment to justice and equality. One fun fact from the book? Seeger learned We Shall Overcome from Dr. Martin Luther King! Out March 21, 2017.
  2. This is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from Around the World by Matt Lamothe: Lamothe’s picture book follows seven children from Japan, Uganda, Russia, Iran, Peru, Italy, and India. The book uses multiple panels on each page to show the seven children going about their days from when they wake up, what they wear to school, and more. Watch for this one May 2, 2017.
  3. Pete With No Pants by Rowboat Watkins: Pete is big, grey, and he doesn’t wear pants. So he must be a boulder right? Except the boulders don’t respond to his knock knock jokes. Neither do the squirrels or any of the other big, grey, pantsless things Pete finds. Except for his mom, of course. (Spoiler from the cover: Pete is an elephant.) May 2, 2017
  4. I Wrote You a Note by Lizi Boyd: A child writes a note and sends it to a friend. Along the way the note is used by various animals as a nest and a other things. Some even try to read it. Reads with a repeated refrain along the lines of “I wrote you a note, did you get it yet?” Out June 6, 2017.
  5. Mine! by Jeff Mack: Mack is back with a picture book that says a lot . . . with only one word. Two mice start a bitter battle over a rock. But what happens when that rock is actually a turtle? Releasing May 9, 2017.

Middle Grade:

  1. Carmer and Grit: The Wingsnatchers by Sarah Jean Horwitz: Reluctant magician Carmer would much rather spend his time building new inventions. When Grit a one-winged fairy princess comes to Carmer for help, they strike a bargain. Carmer will help her investigate a series of fairy disappearances and Grit will add some extra magic to Carmer’s illusions. Coming April 25, 2017.
  2. The Unexpected Life of Oliver Cromwell Pitts by Avi: Described as The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, this latest novel from Avi follows Oliver after his parents disappear and he steals money from a shipwreck to try and follow them to London. Will he make it before the authorities catch him? Find out on May 16, 2017.
  3. Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren: Prison Break meets Frozen. When Valor gets arrested and sent to prison, she couldn’t be happier. Valor is convince that she can break her sister Sasha out of Demidova’s prison for criminal children. But she has to do it from the inside. Watch for this page-turner April 4, 2017.
  4. Spy on History: Mary Bowser and the Civil War Spy Ring: Mary Bowser was one of the most successful spies in American history. Bowser was a freed slave who worked as a maid in Jefferson Davis’ house during the Civil War. Mary used her photographic memory to learn enemy plans which she then encrypted to pass on to her allies. This book offers a fast-paced biography of Bowser along with myriad clues to help readers solve the puzzle of where Mary hid her diary. Coming January 10, 2017.
  5. One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes: Grimes showcases poems and poets from the Harlem Renaissance in this collection. Each poem is paired with a new poem she has written using the “Golden Shovel” technique. (Grimes highlights a line from each existing poem. The words in that line then become the final words for each line of Grimes’ new poem.) This collection also includes illustrations from numerous artists including Cozbi Cabrera, R. Gregory Christie, Pat Cummings, Jan Spivey Gilchrist, Ebony Glenn, Nikki Grimes, E. B. Lewis, Frank Morrison, Christopher Myers, Brian Pinkney, Sean Qualls, James Ransome, Javaka Steptoe, Shadra Strickland, and Elizabeth Zunon. Back matter includes a forward, author’s note, poet biographies, and an index. Add this one to your reading list now. Out January 30, 2017.

Young Adult:

  1. Just Fly Away by Andrew McCarthy: When he isn’t busy being a famous actor, Andrew McCarthy is also a writer. In his YA debut Lucy’s world is shaken when she discovers that she has an eight-year-old half-brother whom her father has kept secret for years. Lucy’s search for answers will force her to reassess the relationships in her life and lead her to her estranged grandfather. Publishing March 28, 2017.
  2. Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer: Juliet deals with her mother’s death by writing her mother letters and leaving them at her grave. Declan finds the letters during his community service cleaning the cemetery. And he writes back. Out April 7, 2017.
  3. Crossing Ebenezer Creek by Tonya Bolden: Mariah and Zeke are newly-freed slaves when they join Sherman’s march through Georgia. Mariah hopes that this freedom will be a new start despite the continued hardships. When she meets Caleb, a free black man, the two even begin planning for a future together. But with the march continuing and bringing Mariah, Zeke, and Caleb closer to the dangerous waters of Ebenezer Creek, it seems like Mariah’s hopes are more fragile than ever. Coming May 30, 2017.
  4. Piper Perish by Kayla Cagan: Piper and her best friend Kit live in Texas and dream of moving to New York City for art school. But with desperate need for financial aid and no guarantee both Kit and Piper will get in, Piper’s long dreamed-for future remains uncertain. Watch for this one on March 7, 2017.
  5. Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson: Jade thinks she has to get out of her neighborhood to get ahead. Her mother tells Jade to take every opportunity–including a scholarship to a mostly-white school. When Jade is invited to a mentorship program for “at risk” girls she soon realizes the program is really for black girls from “bad” neighborhoods. And even though Jade’s mentor is a black woman, it doesn’t mean she knows anything about Jade and her life. Turns out there are some things Jade can show these women about the real world and making a real difference. Publishing February 14, 2017.

 

Top Fives from HarperChildrens’ Spring 2017 Preview #harperpreview

On October 14 I was able to attend my first publisher’s preview for HarperCollins. This felt a bit like arriving and it was fascinating to see their new downtown offices. With new titles from Megan Whalen Turner and Gail Carson Levine (not to mention Goldenhand by Garth Nix which came out this season), it felt a bit like my childhood was coming back in full force. Some micro-trends I spotted: duologies and alternating POV.

missprinttopfivesHere are my Top Fives presented at the preview across all of Harper’s imprints:

Picture Books:

  1. Egg by Kevin Henkes: Described as a graphic novel for preschoolers, this book will be Henkes’ fiftieth. Coming January 2017.
  2. Good Night! Good Night! by Carin Berger: Berger’s signature collage-style illustrations tell the story of rabbits who don’t want to go to sleep. Watch for it in January 2017.
  3. I Do Not Like Al’s Hat by Erin McGill: Herb loves everything about being a magician’s rabbit. Except Al’s hat. Which he hates. So Herb quits and answers an ad to become Sophie’s pet rabbit. Out January 2017.
  4. The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Adam Rex: Rock, Paper, and Scissors travel through the venerable kingdom known as Backyard trying to find worthy opponents. April 2017.
  5. Rulers of the Playground by Joseph Kuefler: Compared to books by Peter Brown and Jon Klassen this is a picture book about learning how to share–and what happens when everyone wants to be king or queen of the playground. Coming April 2017.

Middle Grade:

  1. Joplin, Wishing by Diane Stanley: A New York City girl receives a Delft platter and the girl painted on the platter comes to life (kind of like a genie). Adventure! Magic! Heart! Watch for it in June 2017
  2. Girl Code: Gaming, Going Viral, and Getting It Done: by Andrea Gonzalez and Sophie Hauser: Non-fiction title about girls who code and more.
  3. York: The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby: First in an epic series pitched as National Treasure meets The Westing Game. The scale of the cipher and a hunt across the city also brings Ready Player One to mind. May 2017.
  4. Two Truths and a Lie: It’s Alive by Ammi-Joan Paquette: A collection of non-fiction stories. Full color photos and illustrations. The catch? For every two stories that are true, one is a lie. An answer key in the back gives a rundown of what’s true and what isn’t. Described as National Geographic in book form.
  5. Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder: Every year a new child is brought to the island and the eldest is taken away in this story about growing up. Compared to Anne Ursu and Kelly Barnhill. May 2017.
  6. Miss Ellicott’s School for the Magically Minded by Sage Blackwood: Story about a girl trying to become a sorceress. A diverse cast and dragon magic! March 2017.

Young Adult:

  1. Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer: Sleeping Beauty style story where a girl goes on a quest to rescue her half-sister. Watch for it in April 2017
  2. Literally by Lucy Keating: A book about a book about falling in love. Anabel is the MC in the new hit YA novel being written by the hot YA author of the moment. She she finds herself falling for an unexpected boy, she goes off script. Stranger Than Fiction meets books by Jenny Han or Stephanie Perkins. Watch for it in April 2017.
  3. Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson: Three teen girls in three different eras (Oklahoma 2065, Oklahoma 1934, England 1919) all connected in this novel that is all about connection. Coming April 2017.
  4. By Your Side by Kasie West: What happens when the Good Girl gets locked in the school library for the long weekend with the Bad Boy? Coming January 2017.
  5. A Season of Daring Greatly by Ellen Emerson White: YA novel about the first woman drafted to MLB as a pitcher. If it sounds like Pitch, that’s because it’s really similar! “Gets you in the feminist feels.” From the author of the president’s daughter series. Out February 2017.
  6. American Street by Ibi Zoboi: Zoboi was the keynote speaker for this preview and talked about her inspiration for this novel which follows Fabiola, a teen girl who has emigrated from Haiti only to find her new life in Detroit isn’t everything promised by the American Dream. February 2017.

Top Fives from the Fall 2016 Simon & Schuster Preview

Another preview, another recap. On July 19, Simon & Schuster hosted their Fall 2016 Educator and Librarian preview. The preview was held at the Simon & Schuster previews near Rockefeller Center and covered Fall 2016 releases from Atheneum: Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, Atheneum, Margaret K. McElderry Books, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Beach Lane Books, Paula Wiseman Books, Little Simon, Simon Spotlight, Aladdin, Simon Pulse, and Simon & Schuster Audio.

missprinttopfivesHere are my Top Fives for a few categories presented at the preview:

Picture Books:

  1. Click, Clack, Surprise! by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin: Doreen and Betsy were the special guests at this preview and talked about this latest installment on Farmer Brown’s farm. This one follows Little Duck on his birthday as he gets into a bit of trouble while mimicking other farm residents to prepare for his big party. I’m a fan of this series, so it’s no surprise that this book is another winner.
  2. The Snurtch by Sean Ferrell, illustrated by Charles Santoso: This picture book comes from the team behind I Don’t Like Koala which is a delightfully creepy picture book about a boy and his terrifying stuffed animal. In this book, Ruthie has a problem. It’s the Snurtch. The Snurtch is not nice or quiet or polite. And he is making Ruthie’s school day VERY difficult. In this book about dealing with behavioral issues and acting out (comped to Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse), Ruthie eventually learns how to negotiate life with the Snurtch. And that she may not be the only one who has a Snurtch.
  3. I Heart You by Meg Fleming, illustrated by Sarah Jane Wright: Really great actions. Sweet, sweet story. I think this would be a great story to use in a Babies and Books program. It’s saccharine but in a charming way.
  4. Octopuses One to Ten by Ellen Jackson, illustrated by Robin Page: This is a counting concept book filled with fun facts about octopi (which I contend is the correct pluralization!).
  5. The Pros & Cons of Being a Frog by Sud deGennaro: After dressing as a cat becomes problematic for a little boy (after being chased by a dog for eleven days straight), his best friend Camille (who loves to talk in numbers) suggests he try a new animal. A frog perhaps? A beautifully illustrated story about celebrating differences.

Non-Fiction/Biography/Based on a True Story:

  1. Freedom Over Me by Ashley Bryan: While talking with his editor, Bryan revealed that he collects wills, sale receipts, and deeds from plantation and slave auctions. Bryan worries that these documents could end up in the wrong hands and fears that this point of history could be erased. After years of gathering and pondering, he began to write poetry about some of the people listed in one such contract. This book features portraits of what Bryan imagines these individuals would have looked like, poems about their lives as slaves, and poems of their dreams of the lives they could have had if they were free. This seems to be the book that Bryan was born to create as well as incredibly important and powerful.
  2. The Marvelous Thing That Came from a Spring by Gilbert Ford: This picture book explains the accidental invention of one of the popular Slinky toy. This book marks a completely new illustrative style for Ford. Each page spread includes a three-dimensional scene which Ford built and photographed to include in the book.
  3. Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science by Jeannine Atkins: This illustrated book includes stories of three noted women scientist when they were still young girls and looks at how their childhoods and upbringings shaped the scientists they would become. The book is broken into three stories: “Mud, Moths, and Mystery” about Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717) who discovered the process of metamorphosis while studying the life cycle of insects; “Secrets in Stones” about Mary Annin (1799-1847) who studied fossils; and “Many Stars, One Comet” about Maria Mitchell (1818-1889) who discovered a comet while studying astronomy and observing the stars.
  4. I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debby Levy, illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley: This illustrated biography doesn’t need much introduction. What it does need is to be read widely. I’m pretty excited to check out a finished copy once it’s published!
  5. Willa: The Story of Willa Cather, an American Writer by Amy Ehrlich, illustrated by Wendell Minor: The first book in a new biography series focused on American women writers.

Middle Grade:

  1. Ghost by Jason Reynolds: This book is the first in a four book series (each book will focus on a different character–three boys and one girl). Reynolds has seen in his own life that black boys are always running and looking over their shoulder. He wanted to change that and write about black kids who are running toward something. This middle grade series features four kids on an elite track team. It’s “gulpable yet penetrating” and was compared to Sharon Draper’s Tears of a Tiger (but aged down about four years).
  2. The Lost Property Office by James R. Hannibal: In a complete departure from his military thrillers for adults, Hannibal makes his MG debut with this novel being pitched as Harry Potter meets Dr. Who. This story blends history, science, and victorian style. It also has a stunning cover.
  3. The Bad Kid by Sarah Lariviere: Debut middle grade mystery comedy. This story is set in Sunset Park, Brooklyn and joins the very small “middle grade mafia” sub-genre with the likes of The Fourth Stall and Al Capone Does My Shirts.
  4. The Littlest Bigfoot by Jennifer Weiner: In her middle grade debut, Weiner explores a boarding school in upstate New York where a little girl is feeling very alone . . . until she rescues the smallest Bigfoot from the lake and makes a new friend. First in a trilogy.
  5. League of Archers by Eva Howard: Twelve-year-old Ellie love Robin Hood and all that he stands for. She and her friends try to emulate Robin’s band of Merry Men with their League of Archers. When Ellie is accused of killing Robin Hood she will have to work fast to clear her name (and save Maid Marian) if she hopes to keep her hero’s legacy alive.

Young Adult:

  1. Don’t You Trust Me? by Patrice Kindl: This YA thriller is a new and unexpected direction for Kindl. The story starts with a girl who has no conscience (that’s right, we have a psychopath MC) and knows she isn’t quite like other people. She agrees to switch identities with a girl at the airport just to get her to stop being so annoying with all of her crying. Who does that? The main character here is being compared to Barbara Stanwyck’s character in Double Indemnity–something I never even realized I wanted in a YA protagonist until this very moment.
  2. The Last True Love Story by Brendan Kiely: The only stories that last are love stories, and this one is no exception. It’s a cool, sweet contemporary that takes road trip conventions and turns them upside down. Oh and it’s a little bit of The Odyssey too. Compared to Rainbow Rowell and Tim Tharp.
  3. The Diabolic by S. J. Kincaid: This book is getting a BIG push from the publisher. It’s being called The Terminator meets House of Cards, Red Queen meets The Hunger Games. Nemesis is sent to serve as hostage in place of a politician’s beloved daughter. But then everything starts to go wrong. This is a standalone novel and has a killer twist on page 161.
  4. Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel: I could tell you more about this book but honestly, I was sold the moment I heard it described as Indiana Jones meets Romeo & Juliet.
  5. Fate of Flames by Sarah Raughley: Four girls, known as effigies, control the elements to keep the world safe. The only problem is that when Maya become sthe new fire effigy she has no idea what she’s doing. Buffy meets Sailor Moon with a dash of The Avengers.

Event Recap and Reflections: Victoria Schwab Signing This Savage Song

Last week I went to Victoria Schwab’s signing on July 7 for This Savage Song at Books of Wonder. This book was the only ARC I asked my BFF Nicole to try to get for me when she went to ALA Midwinter a few months ago. I added the event to my phone calendar almost as soon as it was announced and adjusted my work schedule to be sure I could be there early. I went alone because no friends could accompany me and it was that important for me to be there.

It was a great event. Victoria talked about how the main characters of this book, Kate and August, both explore different sides of anxiety. She mentioned that a theme she returns to often in her stories is an exploration of what it means to not feel comfortable in your own skin. She also explained that August’s voice came to her very early on in the writing process while Kate remained much more reticent–forcing the entire story to shift into third person so that Victoria could tell both characters’ stories throughout the novel. It’s a common pattern in her novels having tough, non-talkative female characters contrasted with more emotive male characters.

During the Q&A, Victoria imagined that her characters Delilah Bard and Victor Vale would be the most interesting ones to see locked in a room together. She guessed that neither of them would talk but that by the time they were released they would have a grudging respect for each other. Victoria discussed how she explores archetypes in many of her books but always strives to create something new (witches in The Near Witch, monsters in her latest novel and so on) and how her degree in the portrayal of monsters factored into her writing This Savage Song. (Spoiler: The way monsters are perceived has everything to do with humans and not always a lot to do with the monsters.)

During the course of her career (eleven books so far) she has realized that every character she writes represents one aspect of herself whether it’s something she strives for (Delilah Bard) or something closer to her reality (Victor Vale or Holland–jokingly). She also talked a bit about organizing her owned books by color and how she isn’t a re-reader which, as someone else who doesn’t re-read, I loved. She explained how her calendar method of tracking progress on various projects helps her to be a consistent writer even if she is not a fast writer. (I adore this idea and use star stickers and a monthly calendar to track my blog and work stuff–working on adding writing back into my routine too.)

I try to attend Victoria’s signings whenever she’s in New York (just about a year ago I was at McNally Jackson buying a red-endpapers copy of A Darker Shade of Magic) and this one obviously didn’t disappoint. At the end of the night I returned my newly signed copies of This Savage Song and A Gathering of Shadows to their spots on my bookshelf.

victoriaschwabbooksAfter staring at my books I started thinking about a lot of things (like how lucky I am to be in New York where so many author events happen). This signing was an interesting full circle moment for me.

Four years ago, in 2012, I worked at Books of Wonder for eight months. It felt like my library degree was a mistake and although I desperately missed librarian work, I had begun to wonder if it was ever going to happen for me as an actual career. Last week, while I waited for my number (61) to be called I considered that point in my life where earning more than minimum wage seemed like a pipe dream compared to now when I just marked my second anniversary as a full-time librarian in June.

Five years ago, in 2011, I discovered Victoria Schwab’s debut novel The Near Witch at a signing at Books of Wonder. I had just started attending book signings as I became more aware of the book community in New York through a combination of blogging, getting review books through Amazon Vine, and being in library school. I was at the signing for a different author but gave myself permission to buy one book. After much agonizing, I picked up The Near Witch. I read the book soon after and reviewed it on here, as I’m wont to do.

A few months later I met Terra McVoy at another signing (at Books of Wonder) and she offered to participate in a blog interview. And honestly, that changed my life. Because of that meeting with Terra, I began reaching out to other authors, including Victoria Schwab to talk about The Near Witch.

The rest is history.

Of course I snapped up The Archived and The Unbound. How could I not when I was a librarian and these books featured a library where the dead rest on shelves like books? Vicious became a point of pride book to get at BEA 2013 and a favorite read that I think still find myself thinking about to this day. And I can’t even tell you how often I’ve been recommending A Darker Shade of Magic (which I was lucky enough to read just before its release thanks to a very generous librarian who saw my tweets asking for ALA attendees who got an ARC to think of me). When I received an ARC of A Gathering of Shadows after requesting it from the publisher, I really felt like I had arrived as a blogger. Then, of course, there’s This Savage Song which might be my favorite Victoria Schwab book to date of the ones I have read.

Victoria talked about her “overnight” success on Tumblr last week. Specifically, about how framing her career that way isn’t the most accurate portrayal. Reading that post, seeing Victoria at a signing and knowing we are solid acquaintances now thanks to Twitter, and admiring my own books on their shelf, I realized what a privilege it is to follow an author  from their beginnings. It’s crazy to think about who I was when I attended that small panel signing where I bought my copy of The Near Witch compared to who I am this month when I was 61st in line for Victoria to sign copies of her eleventh book.

I am so grateful to be where I am and, silly as it is, a bit humbled when I think about how many opportunities I have found and received surrounding Victoria’s books (and so many other books that I  have discovered because I started blogging and going to book signings).

BEA 2016: The Recap

BEA was in Chicago this year and for a very long time, I had no plans of going. I knew the added costs of travel (not to mention room and board) were going to be hard to manage. But as we got closer (still months away, mind) Nicole said that she wanted to go and after talking with my mom I decided I could make it work.

Fast forward through months of selling odds and ends on eBay to fund my flights and room, obsessively checking Chicago weather to figure out what to pack, and lots of other preparations for the trip that I did not expect having not traveled to BEA before (since it’s been in NYC every other year I went) and not traveled in general on this scale in at least ten years.

DAY ONE

Nicole and I knew we wanted to get in some sightseeing in Chicago since we’d never been so we booked an early flight on Tuesday (the day before BEA).

Upon arriving in Chicago we took the world’s longest cab ride to our hotel which was a bit dated but still pleasant enough for our trip. It was also swank as hell from the outside.

After checking in at the hotel and stowing our luggage until a room would be ready, we headed to the best breakfast place in the entire world: Yolk. Yolk was conveniently in walking distance to the hotel and became a favorite spot during our short trip.

Because I was an art history minor in college and love museums, I lobbied heavily for a visit to the Art Institute Chicago next.

I made sure we saw the Thorne Miniature rooms.

Nicole discovered the Art Institute Chicago’s Paperweight collection.

Then we both started to lose steam and decided to head to the gift shop. (Got to get those souvenirs!) This stop proved extremely helpful because I realized it was important to check out some other iconic pieces of art before we left.

After that, it was time to head back to the hotel. We decided to walk along Michigan Avenue to check out some other souvenir shops and window shop back to the hotel.

After regrouping at the hotel Nicole and I headed out to get dinner (dollar burgers at Bar Louie) and explore. I think because we were in a touristy area and near Columbia College Chicago, there was a lot of green space near the hotel and lots of public art in the form of sculptures and murals. So, just walking along Michigan Avenue it was possible to see a lot of beautiful things.

And with that day one in Chicago came to a close.

DAY TWO

It turns out when you travel one time zone over you body never really adjusts to being an hour ahead and you end up being awake really early for no good reason. So although BEA did not officially start until the afternoon, our day started early.

Happily, there were pancakes involved.

Then it was basically time to head to McCormick Place where we discovered that some things are the same in any city (AKA pre-BEA crowds).

BUT all of this line waiting did give me a chance to catch up with Cecelia and Sajda (and make dinner plans with Cecelia–more on that later) and also to meet Christina. Finally! So exciting. As is my way, I forgot to take pictures with almost everyone. So it goes.

Luckily Cecelia was a bit more on point so I at least have this:

The first day of BEA was pretty chill. There were some lines.

There were signings. And, most importantly, there was the new Little Elliot book Little Elliot, Big Fun.

Because so much of the show was scaled back this year, Nicole and I actually got to leave at a reasonable time. So we headed back to the hotel, emptied our suitcase, and got ready for dinner.

I had been asking about places to eat in Chicago for months by this point and one that stuck out was Portillo’s. As soon as Carli told me there were cake milkshakes, I was sold. So I dragged along Nicole, Cecelia and Cecelia’s friend Liza.

Words and even pictures cannot do justice to the sensory overload that is Portillo’s.

It was insane but I think it was also a sort of rite of passage as a Chicago visitor. The cake milkshake was exactly what you would expect of a piece of chocolate cake being put through a blender. I can still taste the icing.

DAY THREE

This was the first full day at BEA and the busiest.

There were tickets to be had.

There were signs to be held.

(I didn’t get that book, incidentally, but holding the sign seemed important.)

There were friends to meet like Val and Shannon and Kristen. There were friends to see like Britt and Cecelia and Sajda. Nicole and I spent a good chunk of BEA hanging out with Sajda and Cecelia which turned out to be an excellent life choice.

There were lots of exciting books!

One of my goals going into BEA this year was to be more selective about books and also to hit up some of the “less big” publishers. Mission accomplished because Sourcebooks was on point this year!

I didn’t take a photo with Zoraida Cordova BUT she did like my nails and had some epic candy swag.

After a full day at the convention center, Nicole and I decided it was high time to see the Bean. I don’t think either of us expected it to be as amazing as it was. But we had a blast!

So many photos ensued.

Apparently it's not called the bean … Did you all know? #latergram #chicago #bea16 #beaNE #nofilter

A post shared by Emma (@missprint_) on

Like this isn’t even all of the photos yet. I’m still working through sharing them all on Twitter or Instagram. Anyway, it was a blast.

After that it was an easy walk to Giordano’s for their infamous deep dish pizza. The only problem is making the actual pizza took forever so our night wound up being quite long for what, I’m just going to say it, was a fairly horrible pizza experience. It turns out deep dish pizza is only good when it is super hot. And even then the “goodness” is questionable. I will say that the bruschetta we ordered as a starter was delicious. Live and learn!

DAY FOUR

The final day of BEA started quite early. But we had a plan.

After realizing that Chicago BEA is a lot more chill that NYC BEA, Nicole and I decided to get tickets to Maggie Stiefvater’s signing for The Raven King. Because why not?

This involved getting to McCormick Place quite early, waiting in line, getting coffee, and then (finally) getting tickets before heading out to get breakfast. A mad dash back the convention center followed.

There were, unsurprisingly, a lot of lines on this final day of BEA.

My face, I think, sums up my feelings about said lines.

Things got really intense while Nicole and I were waiting for Kendare Blake’s signing. Every year there is one book at BEA that seems to be impossible to get. This year it was Three Dark Crowns. This signing involved waiting for over an hour, several book counts, and repeated warnings that we might not get books.

But, eventually it all worked out!

After finishing up at McCormick Place, Nicole and I had to figure out shipping our books. There was not going to be time to do anything in the morning and we discovered that the local post office hours did not work with our schedule.

But it turns out our hotel had numerous benefits (like a free shuttle to McCormick Place every day) including being across the street from a larger, swankier hotel with a Fedex Store in the lobby. There’s no way around it: shipping books is expensive and I don’t think either of us counted on the level of embarrassment in emptying an entire suitcase (plus two tote bags in my case) of books into a box. Not that we were alone–lots of people were queuing up to do the exact same thing as we left. But it all worked out and I felt a lot better about it than having to deal with BEA shipping.

The swankier hotel also had a gift shop where I found a necklace in a style I’d been searching for without success for the last year.

We closed out our last full day in Chicago with tacos from Flaco’s Tacos (delicious) and some quiet time in our room. And packing.

DAY FIVE

The final day in Chicago wasn’t really a day. It was just time for a nice breakfast (and a souvenir shirt from Yolk, of course), a long cab ride to the airport, and two hours waiting in the security line at the airport.

Once we were checked in for our flight, Nicole and I got some last minute edible souvenirs (popcorn and fancy chocolate) before waiting for the flight home. Then it was time for another long cab ride home.

And with that, BEA 2016 officially came to a close.

My books arrived the next week and at this point everything is squared away. Until next year.

Interested in every book I got at BEA? Check out my 2016 BEA Books Recap.