So who was ALA Annual in New Orleans this year? Raise a hand (or Daiqiuri glass!)
Tasch and I, along with our friends Oggie and Jenn, made a vacation of it and boy howdy was it fun. Good food, good walking, and good books – really what more do you need?
I went into ALA Annual as I usually do – with a plan in hand and backups as necessary. Oh I did my research and I poked at every title or author that sounded evenly remotely interesting to me, but as always there are more books in the world being published then even I can keep track of.
Here is a list of 10 titles I was thrilled to learn more about and pick up a copy of!
When Elephants Fly
(Nancy Richardson Fischer)
There are some battles worth fighting even if it means losing yourself.
T. Lily Decker is a high school senior with a twelve-year plan: avoid stress, drugs, alcohol and boyfriends, and take regular psych quizzes administered by her best friend, Sawyer, to make sure she’s not developing schizophrenia.Genetics are not on Lily’s side.
When she was seven, her mother, who had paranoid schizophrenia, tried to kill her. And a secret has revealed that Lily’s odds are even worse than she thought. Still, there’s a chance to avoid triggering the mental health condition, if Lily can live a careful life from ages eighteen to thirty, when schizophrenia most commonly manifests.
But when a newspaper internship results in Lily witnessing a mother elephant try to kill her three-week-old calf, Swifty, Lily can’t abandon the story or the calf. With Swifty in danger of dying from grief, Lily must choose whether to risk everything, including her sanity and a first love, on a desperate road trip to save the calf’s life, perhaps finding her own version of freedom along the way.
Friday night, as I was sitting down waiting for friends, Nancy sat down next to me and we had a lovely conversation about the Conference, about books and about her book. She had a presentation that evening she was a little nervous about, but in my opinion her pitch to me was spot on so I had a lot of faith in her ability.
What drew me to her description of the book was that Lily feels like a character I can relate to – or that I can see my teen self in. Living life carefully – within boundaries and rules and structures – is something that I prefer. I like knowing that by following certain actions I can forestall larger problems. I’m interested to see how working with the baby elephant will teach her to expand her horizons.
Ship of Smoke and Steel
In the lower wards of Kahnzoka, the great port city of the Blessed Empire, eighteen-year-old ward boss Isoka comes to collect when there’s money owing. When her ability to access the Well of Combat is discovered by the Empire—an ability she should have declared and placed at His Imperial Majesty’s service—she’s sent on an impossible mission: steal Soliton, a legendary ghost ship—a ship from which no one has ever returned. If she fails, her sister’s life is forfeit.
Ok so first – the tagline for this from the publicist included Legend of Korra and I am all about that life. Secondly, I love this cover (here’s to hoping it doesn’t get too changed). Thirdly, I love Wexler’s other series so I have every expectation this will capture my interest.
ALSO GHOST SHIPS GUYS LOOK A GHOST SHIP. Also Sister having to save a Sister is my bread and butter.
Outrun the Wind
The Huntresses of Artemis must obey two rules: never disobey the goddess, and never fall in love. After being rescued from a harrowing life as an Oracle of Delphi, Kahina is glad to be a part of the Hunt; living among a group of female warriors gives her a chance to reclaim her strength, even while her prophetic powers linger. But when a routine mission goes awry, Kahina breaks the first rule in order to save the legendary huntress Atalanta.
To earn back Artemis’s favor, Kahina must complete a dangerous task in the kingdom of Arkadia— where the king’s daughter is revealed to be none other than Atalanta. Still reeling from her disastrous quest and her father’s insistence on marriage, Atalanta isn’t sure what to make of Kahina. As her connection to Atalanta deepens, Kahina finds herself in danger of breaking Artemis’ second rule.
She helps Atalanta devise a dangerous game to avoid marriage, and word spreads throughout Greece, attracting suitors willing to tempt fate to go up against Atalanta in a race for her hand. But when the men responsible for both the girls’ dark pasts arrive, the
game turns deadly
Artemis! Archery! Atalanta! FORBIDDEN LOVE (I mean…its Artemis so yeah). I have a soft spot for Greek Mythology based things and archery, so this cover grabbed me real quick. I was rather uncertain about the romance angle – the synopsis makes it SEEM like Kahina and Atalanta fall into that relationship, but it also seems kinda like not. So I’m hopeful there.
Mangoes, Mischief and Tales of Friendship
Chitra Soundar (Author), Uma Krishnaswamy (Illustrations)
Can Prince Veera and his best friend outsmart the king’s trickiest subjects? Inspired by traditional Indian folktales, these stories are sure to delight.
Being a wise and just ruler is no easy task. That’s what Prince Veera discovers when he and his best friend, Suku, are given the opportunity to preside over the court of his father, King Bheema. Some of the subjects’ complaints are easily addressed, but others are much more challenging. How should they handle the case of the greedy merchant who wishes to charge people for enjoying the smells of his sweets? And can they prove that an innocent man cannot possibly spread bad luck? Will Prince Veera and Suku be able to settle the dispute between a man and his neighbor to whom he sells a well — but not the water in it? Or solve the mystery of the jewels that have turned into pickles? Illustrated throughout by Uma Krishnaswamy, these eight original tales by Chitra Soundar task Veera and Suku with outwitting the kingdom’s greediest, wiliest subjects. Are the two clever boys up to the challenge?
So I read this one already – and greatly enjoyed it (see a short review here), this was just a honestly delightful collection of stories. They’re short enough that they would make for good bedtime tales for younger kids. They’d also make good discussion starters as Jeera does not always know the right answer right away and Suka is not always in perfect agreement with Jeera’s decisions. Together they balance each other while tackling a whole host of complicated problems that even Jeera’s father, the King, has trouble navigating.
Luisa: Now and Then
Mariko Tamaki (adaptation); Carole Maurel (creator)
At 32, Luisa encounters her 15-year-old self in this sensitive, bold story about self-acceptance and sexuality. Single, and having left behind her dream to become a renowned photographer, she is struggling to find out who she is and what she wants. In order to help and guide her younger self, she must finally face herself and her past. When Luisa finds herself attracted to a female neighbor, things become even more complicated…
As someone who is now in her 30s – nowhere near the life my mid-teen self thought she’d be having at this point, the idea of being able to encounter the Me of Then and guide her through the issues I remember so vividly appeals to me. Who wouldn’t want to help their younger self?
Kill the Queen
In a realm where one’s magical power determines one’s worth, Lady Everleigh’s lack of obvious ability relegates her to the shadows of the royal court of Bellona, a kingdom steeped in gladiator tradition. Seventeenth in line for the throne, Evie is nothing more than a ceremonial fixture, overlooked and mostly forgotten.
But dark forces are at work inside the palace. When her cousin Vasilia, the crown princess, assassinates her mother the queen and takes the throne by force, Evie is also attacked, along with the rest of the royal family. Luckily for Evie, her secret immunity to magic helps her escape the massacre.
Forced into hiding to survive, she falls in with a gladiator troupe. Though they use their talents to entertain and amuse the masses, the gladiators are actually highly trained warriors skilled in the art of war, especially Lucas Sullivan, a powerful magier with secrets of his own. Uncertain of her future—or if she even has one—Evie begins training with the troupe until she can decide her next move.
But as the bloodthirsty Vasilia exerts her power, pushing Bellona to the brink of war, Evie’s fate becomes clear: she must become a fearsome gladiator herself . . . and kill the queen.
Ok look I love Estep’s other series (Elemental Assassin, Mythos Academy, Bigtime and Black Blade) so this was an automatic YES for me. I didn’t even need to know what it was about – I saw the title, I saw that awesome cover, I saw it was from Harper Voyager and BAM I was there.
Above the Star
Alexis Marie Chute
When Archie goes in search of his missing son, Arden, in the Spanish Canary Islands, he stumbles upon a higher mission: to save his ailing fourteen-year-old granddaughter, Ella. Using a portal-jumping device called the Tillastrion, Archie and a strange creature, a Bangol named Zeno, are transported—along with a cruise ship full of people, including Ella and her mother, Tessa—to a magnificent yet terrifying island in another realm, a place called Jarr-Wya, where Archie hopes to locate Ella’s cure.
On Jarr-Wya, the Bangols battle the Olearons—creatures made of fire—and the evil Millia sands for control of Jarr-Wya. When Ella is captured by the Bangols, her wit and resourcefulness emerge as she fights against all odds, and against all manner of creatures, to survive. Meanwhile, Tessa, must confront her long-buried secrets, broken marriage, and a confusing new love triangle, all while navigating the mysterious island in search of her daughter. And unbeknownst to everyone, there is an even greater foe to contend with: a wicked star anchored in the sea beneath them that is poisoning the island.
The author, Alexis, had a table at ALA and she was telling folk about her book. For me she had me hooked at “portal fantasy”. From there I found myself intrigued by the blend of surreal and fantasy.
The House in Poplar Wood
For as long as the Vickery twins can remember, they’ve only ever been able to leave the house together once a year, on Halloween. The rest of the year, Lee and his mother serve Memory, while Felix and his father assist Death. This is the Agreement.
But one Halloween, Gretchen Whipple smashes her way into their lives. Her bargain is simple: If the twins help her solve the murder of local girl Essie Hasting, she’ll help them break the Agreement. The more the three investigate, however, the more they realize that something’s gone terribly wrong in their town. Death is on the loose, and if history repeats itself, Essie’s might not be the last murder in Poplar Wood.
Look I’m always on the look out for spooky (but not SCARY) books that I can read as part of Halloween. You can only read THE HALLOWEEN TREE so many times in one month. This sounds right up my alley and I’m interested to see just how spooky it gets.
Pilu of the Woods
Mai K. Nguyen
Willow loves the woods near her house. They’re calm and quiet, so different from her own turbulent emotions, which she keeps locked away. When her emotions get the better of her one day, she decides to run away into the woods.
There, she meets Pilu, a lost tree spirit who can’t find her way back home—which turns out to be the magnolia grove Willow’s mom used to take her to. Willow offers to help Pilu, and the two quickly become friends.
But the journey is long, and Pilu isn’t sure she’s ready to return home yet—which infuriates Willow, who’s determined to make up for her own mistakes by getting Pilu back safely. As a storm rages and Willow’s emotions bubble to the surface, they suddenly take on a physical form, putting both girls in danger… and forcing Willow to confront her inner feelings once and for all.
Oni Press’ Booth guy pitched this to me after I gushed over TEA DRAGON SOCIETY – and guys this looks as adorable as can be. It also feels very similar in spirit to TEA DRAGON SOCIETY and Miyazaki’s films (that is, from the little I’ve read so far it seems to grasp the uniqueness that is childhood) so I’m looking forward to sharing it with my niece as well.
Kit and Cat Seaton
Sibylla always wanted adventure, but she didn’t know it would come in the form of a giant, magical bull. Is he a man or a monster? And who knew a prophecy could be so literal?
Based on the classic Scottish fairy tale, this is the first title in a new series co-created by sibling writer/artist team CAT SEATON and KIT SEATON, begins the adventure of a lifetime.
Scottish fairy tale lover says what?? I love the artwork here and I am always down for fairy tale comics. Also Prophecies are the root of all evil in this world (in my opinion).
So there’s my list – did you see anything floating around that interested you? Pick up any titles I should keep an eye out on? Sound off!