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ALA Midwinter Highlights, The ARCs (March 2012)

Although ARCs (advanced reader’s copies) are not the main point of ALA (there is so much to see and learn there, see my previous post), it is interesting to get a look firsthand at some of the books being released in the upcoming year for teens.  Many of us are operating on limited budgets (I know I am) and need to make every dollar spent count.  We are looking for popular but well written titles that will get teens reading and keep them coming back for more. We are also looking to develop a balanced collection that meets the very wide variety of needs and interests out there.  Here is a look at some of the books set for March 2012 release dates that I learned about at ALA. This does not, in any way, cover all the titles coming to you in March, and I will be reviewing some of the titles more fully for you throughout the course of the year.

March 2012

Me, and Earl, and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
Back cover blurb: “A Funny, Profane, Heartbreaking Debut Novel” – You, hopefully
First lines: So in order to understand everything that happened, you have to start from the premise that high school sucks.
In just a brief overview, I can tell you that this title is witty and clever.  It includes a note from the author that says, “I have no idea how to write this stupid book.”  And that first line is indeed a grabber, and a premise that is hard to argue with. Although I only browsed through this title, it is clever and witty and is fun. The dying girl mentioned is a senior with cancer, so it will be interesting to see what kind of reception this book gets in the year of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I will definitely be reading this one.

Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby

Cover blurb: “A discovery, a rare bird, a Book You Want to Tell Everyone About. Everyone: Read Wonder Show and pass it on.” – Laini Taylor
First lines: Wayward can mean a lot of things. It can mean lost, misled, unfortunate, left behind. That is the way the girls at The Home thought of themselves, despite their best efforts to live some other way.
Portia joins at traveling freakshow to escape Mister, who said he would always find Portia.  I love the back cover description of this book:
Oh, it’s not for the faint-of-heart folks. If you’re prone to nightmares or you’ve a weak ticker, you’d best move on. Within these pages lies a tale of abandonment, loss, misfortune for the rich, and glory for the poor (and a little murder doesn’t hurt). It’s a story for the ages, but be warned: once you enter the Wonder Show, you will never be the same.

This title has an eye-catching cover and the back cover is sure to draw readers in. And who can argue with Laini Taylor?

Traitor’s Son (The Raven Duet, book 2) by Hilari Bell
Cover blurb: When Jason catches the small bag that a girl throws to him at the Canadian/Alaska bordering during a gun fight. all he can this is the bag must contain drugs. But if the small, brown powder is some sort of illegal substance, it’s certainly nothing he’s ever seen.
First lines: Raven felt the change in the catalyst the moment the pouch left the girl’s hand, so sharply that he feared she’d died.
It’s hard to imagine going wrong with Hilari Bell, and if you already have book 1 and it circulates for you then you will definitely want book 2.

Chomp by Carl Hiaasen
Back cover blurb: Wahoo Cray’s life is a zoo – literally.
First lines: Mickey Cray has been out of work ever since a dead iguana fell from a palm tree and hit him on the head.
Honestly, how can you go wrong with Carl Hiaasen? I feel like that is all I need to say here. But I will give you more . . . Chomp is the tale of Wahoo, the son of Mickey Cray, professional animal wrangle.  The two of them set off to the Everglades to film a show called Expedition Survival where they are joined by  Tuna, a girl who is sporting a shiner courtesy of her dad.  Will any of them survive this Everglade adventure?  Hiaasen can always be counted on for warm and witty with lots of animal adventures thrown in and you’ll probably by this title based on name recognition alone.

One Dog and His Boy by Eva Ibbotson
Cover blurb: All Hal had ever wanted was a dog . . .
First lines: All Hal had ever wanted was a dog.
This book is really for the tween market; the main character is Hal, who is ten years old.  There is not a lot of information on the back cover (the cover blurb is it), but the first few pages were a nice easy read and will probably fit the bill for kids loving for animal stories. Eva Ibbotson is a New York Times bestselling author.

The Paradise Trap by Catherine Jinks
Back cover blurb: Open a door . . . into the paradise trap!
First lines: Marcus didn’t want to spend his summer vacation at the beach. He wasn’t a beach person.
Catherine Jinks is the author of Evil Genius, which is a good read, and The Reformed Vampire Support Group.  Here she weaves another tale that is dark and twisted.  When his parents buy a trailer, Marcus knows it will be a horrible vacation.  But when Marcus opens a door in the basement, he finds a door to a land that may be his most amazing dream, or his worst nightmare. If you are familiar with Catherine Jinks work you know that she does dark and edgy with a sarcastic twist with excellence.  If you are not familiar with Catherine Jink – well, why not? But seriously, this has a good premise and should be a fun, adventurous read. The cover picture skews younger ya.

The Fairy Ring: or Elsi and Frances Fool the World (a true story) by Mary Losure

Back cover blurb: This is a true story about Frances, age nine, who saw fairies by the waterfall behind her house.
First lines: For as long as she could remember, Frances’s parents had told her stories about England. But when she got there, the real England wasn’t like the stories at all.

In 1917, two young girls took pictures claiming to have seen fairies. These photographs, known as the Cottingly fairies, are considered one of the world’s greatest hoaxes.  These photographs captured the attention of the world, including the famous author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  Here, Mary Losure looks at a variety of real world sources, including some primary sources, to tell the tale from the two young girls point of view.  This is delightful nonfiction; easy to read, tells a story that will interest a variety of reader’s from a variety of angles, and definitely is a currently popular topic – fairies are everywhere.  There are some photos scanned into the book, including the very fairy photos themselves.  This book should be popular and fly off the shelves.

Eye of the Storm by Kate Messner
Back cover blurb: In this fast-paced dystopian adventure, kids must find a way to stop killer tornadoes.
First lines: There are no words to describe this sound.
This is a unique twist on the dystopian novels that adds killer storms into the mix; there is a definite interest in storms and natural disasters among tweens and young teens in some of the popular fiction being released lately – think the Storm Runners series for example.  In this future, the world is being torn apart by storms and Jaden Meggs is sent to live with her father for the summer.  His research is part of the plan to help protect the future, but Jaden learns a terrible secret about his research.  As a huge tornado approaches their safe haven, Jaden must decide what she is going to do with the knowledge that she has and whether or not she can stand up to her father.  There is a definite emphasis on science and Jaden is presented as a young girl with a strong passion and mind for science, that always makes a book a plus.

Dead is a Battlefield by Marlene Perez
Back cover blurb: A favorite series is back – with a brand new heroine who can kick butt.
First lines: I took a deep breath before I pushed open the door of Slim’s Diner.
Jessica Walsh just wants to have a normal high school experience, but if you know about Nightshade you know that is probably not going to happen. For starters, the new guy at school doesn’t just make girls swoon, he seems to turn them into zombies. She also is sporting a wicked new tattoo – that suddenly appeared without her consent – that alerts her to trouble.  Is Jessica supposed to be Nightshade’s newest hero? This is a fun series and the newest entry shouldn’t disappoint.  They have fabulous eye-catching covers that definitely maintain a consistent brand and appeal to teen readers.

Embrace by Jessica Shirvington
Back cover blurb: It starts with a whisper. “It’s time for you to know who you are . . .”
First lines: Birthdays aren’t my thing.
Violet Eden is having a very bad 17th birthday the back cover says.  When she dreams, she wakes up with real injuries.  She has just been told that she is only half human.  The evidence seems to suggest that this book, which is the first in a new series, is about angels (currently popular in teen fiction).  BUT, before you write this book off as another angel series (think Fallen by Lauren Kate or Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick), you should know that out of all the more than 50 ARCs I brought back from ALA this was the first one my husband picked up to read.  He stayed up all night reading it (in the words of James Patteson, is was unputdownable – the Mr. said it was definitely worth staying up for) and said it was “very good” (this is high praise coming from him). When pressed, he gave it a 9 out of 10 and said that he was looking forward to reading the next book in the series (He actually said ask them to send the second book and I told him we did not do those things, it was bad form; he will learn).  He said it was “well developed” and “believable”. The cover is eye-catching, the topic is hot, and the Mr., who is an intense critic, recommends it. This is a must have. 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wckF97bQt_8]

As I mentioned, these are not full reviews but brief overviews to help you make some informed decisions with your purchasing budgets.  Full reviews for some titles will be coming.

Tomorrow: my review of BZRK by Michael Grant


  1. I'm already itching to read Me, and Earl, and the Dying Girl! Wonder Show looks intriguing, but I'm a baby when it comes to scary-ish books. I couldn't even finish Miss Peregrine! What an awesome opportunity to collect so many good books 🙂

  2. Katie, I really liked Miss Peregrine. It starts out super scary, but it ends up being more fantasy than horror. But I can see how it can be trying to get past the first parts which read as more horror. The description of Wonder Show makes me think Something Wicked This Way Comes or The Vampire's Assistant. Have you signed up for NetGalley? You can sign up and select books to preview and they download to your computer or e-reader. I know that the new Lauren Kate title is on there, for example. You might want to check it out. Also, are you on Twitter? There are tons of book bloggers, authors and publishers on Twitter and they are often announcing book and arc giveaways. You never have to actually Tweet really, just follow them to find out about contests. There are so many it can be hard to keep up with them. I will be giving away some of my arcs as I read them so keep an eye out. Thanks for all the feedback, it is fun to hear back from readers.

  3. I found this blog from the Girl Meets Boy blog tour. I'm not a teen librarian but I loved your write up of upcoming books!

  4. Stephsco, stay tuned. There are more coming. April is a really big month!

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