A big part of ALA is learning about new and upcoming books. This happens not only on the floor, but in special publisher book buzz sessions. I’m going to try to highlight some of the titles I feel may be lesser known (and maybe a few that aren’t) I have a feeling this may be a two parter as I sent most of my books to the library and haven’t been back yet! So there may be another one coming in the next couple of days as I go through the box and make a list for my teen reviewers. I do tend to gravitate to LGBTQ books so many of the ones I list will fall into this category. (Also, I should note I do not have ARCs of all of these, but books that will be on my TBR list as they come out)
Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie
Seventeen-year-old Matt Foster thought that if he could only get his hands on his brother’s stuff from Iraq, he’d be able to make sense of T.J.’s death. He wasn’t expecting T.J.’s personal effects to raise even more questions about his brother’s life.
Now, even if it means pushing his dad over the edge … even if it means losing his best friend … even if it means getting expelled from school … Matt will do whatever it takes to find out the truth about his brother’s past
They read a passage of this one during the preview breakfast and I was instantly hooked. Matt’s brother ends up being gay and his questions lead him to his brother’s boyfriend. With all the media that has surrounded Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell I can’t wait to see what this book has to offer
October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Leslea Newman
I can’t find an official description of this one yet, but as you can tell it is about Matthew Shepard. Written in verse Newman tries to tell his story through the eyes of the various people Matthew encountered that evening. An interesting sidenote Newman was the keynote speaker for the Gay Awareness Week at Matthews school; she arrived shortly after his attack and was able to witness firsthand the effect it had on the community.
Same Sun Here by Silas House & Neela Vaswani
Meena and River have a lot in common: fathers forced to work away from home to make ends meet, grandmothers who mean the world to them, and faithful dogs. But Meena is an Indian immigrant girl living in New York City’s Chinatown, while River is a Kentucky coal miner’s son. As Meena’s family studies for citizenship exams and River’s town faces devastating mountaintop removal, this unlikely pair become pen pals, sharing thoughts and, as their camaraderie deepens, discovering common ground in their disparate experiences. With honesty and humor, Meena and River bridge the miles between them, creating a friendship that inspires bravery and defeats cultural misconceptions. Narrated in two voices, each voice distinctly articulated by a separate gifted author, this chronicle of two lives powerfully conveys the great value of being and having a friend and the joys of opening our lives to others who live beneath the same sun.
Both authors were present at the breakfast and it was interesting to hear how this book formed. The authors didn’t plan the book out and responded in character as they received the parts. They literally mailed each other their portions for the first six months (until Neela was overseas) to make the process a bit more authentic.
On the Day I Died by Candance Fleming
The phenomenally versatile, award-winning author, Candace Fleming, gives teen and older tween readers ten ghost stories sure to send chills up their spines. Set in White Cemetery, an actual graveyard outside Chicago, each story takes place during a different time period from the 1860’s to the present, and ends with the narrator’s death. Some teens die heroically, others ironically, but all due to supernatural causes. Readers will meet walking corpses and witness demonic posession, all against the backdrop of Chicago’s rich history—the Great Depression, the World’s Fair, Al Capone and his fellow gangsters.
This one landed on my radar because our patrons LOVE scary stories. Seriously, they ask for them all the time so I’m hoping it’ll be another strong recommendation I can give to them, especially since we’re so close to Chicago.
Sisters of Glass by Stephanie Hemphill
Maria is the younger daughter of an esteemed family on the island of Murano, the traditional home for Venetian glassmakers. Though she longs to be a glassblower herself, glassblowing is not for daughters—that is her brother’s work. Maria has only one duty to perform for her family: before her father died, he insisted that she be married into the nobility, even though her older sister, Giovanna, should rightfully have that role. Not only is Giovanna older, she’s prettier, more graceful, and everyone loves her.
Maria would like nothing more than to allow her beautiful sister, who is far more able and willing to attract a noble husband, to take over this role for her. But they cannot circumvent their father’s wishes. And when a new young glassblower arrives to help the family business and Maria finds herself drawn to him, the web of conflicting emotions grows even more tangled
This one piqued my interest because it was in verse and in the Renaissance.
Jersey Angel by Beth Ann Bauman
It’s the summer before senior year and the alluring Angel is ready to have fun. She’s not like her best friend, Inggy, who has a steady boyfriend, good grades, and college plans. Angel isn’t sure what she wants to do yet, but she has confidence and experience beyond her years. Still, her summer doesn’t start out as planned. Her good friend Joey doesn’t want to fool around anymore, he wants to be her boyfriend, while Angel doesn’t want to be tied down. As Joey pulls away, and Inggy tours colleges, Angel finds herself spending more time with Inggy’s boyfriend, Cork. With its cast of vivid and memorable characters, this tale from the Jersey shore is sure to make some waves.
This one is for OLDER teens. I was told this several times, but it still drew my attention. I mean Jersey shore and a hot, sexy book? I’m willing to check it out. (Also, a good one to watch out to see if I’ll get any slack for having it in the library)
Happy Families by Tanita S. Davis
Teenage twins Ysabel and Justin Nicholas are lucky. Ysabel’s jewelry designs have already caught the eyes of the art world and Justin’s intelligence and drive are sure to gain him entrance into the most prestigious of colleges. They even like their parents. But their father has a secret—one that threatens to destroy the twins’ happy family and life as they know it.
Over the course of spring break, Ysabel and Justin will be forced to come to terms with their dad’s new life, but can they overcome their fears to piece together their happy family again?
Honestly, I’ve seen this one floating around, but I’ve bypassed it. The initial description didn’t catch me. However, sitting in on the buzz I’ve learned that their father is a cross dresser (perhaps trans) it spun the book into a whole new light for me. I’ll be checking this one out for sure.
Starters by Lissa Price
Callie lost her parents when the Spore Wars wiped out everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty. She and her little brother, Tyler, go on the run, living as squatters with their friend Michael and fighting off renegades who would kill them for a cookie. Callie’s only hope is Prime Destinations, a disturbing place in Beverly Hills run by a mysterious figure known as the Old Man.
He hires teens to rent their bodies to Enders—seniors who want to be young again. Callie, desperate for the money that will keep her, Tyler, and Michael alive, agrees to be a donor. But the neurochip they place in Callie’s head malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her renter, living in her mansion, driving her cars, and going out with a senator’s grandson. It feels almost like a fairy tale, until Callie discovers that her renter intends to do more than party—and that Prime Destinations’ plans are more evil than Callie could ever have imagined. . . .
My teens (and I!) love dystopians. This is a different premise that I’ve yet to hear of and that sparked my interest enough to make my list.
When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle
Rosie knows that she and Rob are destined to be together. They are best friends, next door neighbors, and the soon-to-be cutest couple in their senior class. Rosie has been waiting for years for Rob to kiss her–and when he finally does, it’s perfect. But just before their relationship becomes completely official, Rosie’s cousin Juliet moves back into town. Juliet, who used to be Rosie’s best friend. Juliet, who now inexplicably hates her. Juliet, who is gorgeous, vindictive, and a little bit crazy…and who has set her sights on Rob. He doesn’t even stand a chance.
Rosie is devastated over losing Rob to Juliet. This is not how the story was supposed to go. And when rumors start swirling about Juliet’s instability, her neediness, and her threats of suicide, Rosie starts to fear not only for Rob’s heart, but also for his life. Because Shakespeare may have gotten the story wrong, but we all still know how it ends.
A modern day retelling of Romeo and Juliet through Rosiland’s eyes. Yeah, I was hooked with that. (Hear my inner English fangirl self screaming)
The Pregnancy Project by Gaby Rodriguez
Growing up, Gaby Rodriguez was often told she would end up a teen mom. After all, her mother and her older sisters had gotten pregnant as teenagers; from an outsider’s perspective, it was practically a family tradition. Gaby had ambitions that didn’t include teen motherhood. But she wondered: how would she be treated if she “lived down” to others’ expectations? Would everyone ignore the years she put into being a good student and see her as just another pregnant teen statistic with no future? These questions sparked Gaby’s school project: faking her own pregnancy as a high school senior to see how her family, friends, and community would react. What she learned changed her life forever, and made international headlines in the process
I remember when this story made headlines. I’m super interested in hearing her whole story and how it unraveled.
Counting Backwards by Laura Lascarso
When troubled Taylor Truwell is caught with a stolen car and lands in court for resisting arrest, her father convinces the judge of an alternative to punishment: treatment in a juvenile psychiatric correctional facility. Sunny Meadows is anything but the easy way out, and Taylor has to fight hard just to hold on to her sanity as she battles her parents, her therapist, and vicious fellow patients. But even as Taylor struggles to hold on to her stubborn former self, she finds herself relenting as she lets in two unlikely friends-Margo, a former child star and arsonist, and AJ, a mysterious boy who doesn’t speak. In this striking debut, Laura Lascarso weaves together a powerful story of anger and self-destruction, hope and love.
They hooked me when they called it Girl, Interrupted meets Looking for Alaska. I was sold with that line alone! But the plot sounds good and one I’m looking forward to.
And that ends the books that I learned about at the buzz session. There will another post for sure highlighting the ones I saw on the floor.