ALA Midwinter: The ARCs (May 2012)
A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle
Back cover blurb: “A reminder that Doyle is one of the best writers of dialogue there has ever been. A Greyhound of a Girl has all that Barrytown strut and swagger. No, not swagger – sway. It dances. It dances on the grave.” – Frank Cottrell Boyce, author of Millions
First lines: She hated the hospital. She hated walking through it. She hated everything about it. Exept for one thing. Her granny. She hated the hospital, but she loved her granny.
Roddy Doyle is a Booker Prize winner and known for his books for adults. Here, Doyle tells the story of four generations of women in an Irish family. On the way home from school on afternoon, Mary meets the ghost of her great grandmother who enlists her help to deliver an important message. What ensues is a “glriously eccentric road trip to the past. Four women traveling on a midnight car journey: one of the deam, one of them dying, one of them driving, and one of them just starting out” (from the back cover. Road trips are always fun, especially when a ghost is involved, and this is a read that skews to the younger end of YA (it is listed as ages 9 and up).
The Shadow Collector’s Apprentice by Amy Gordon
Back cover blurb: Would you let someone collect your shadow?
First lines: For the hundredth time, I’m wondering why Jack ran off.
Amy Gordon has appeared on the Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List for her book The Gorillas of Gill Park. Apprentice is historical fiction that takes place in 1963. In the town of Medley peculiar things are happening: Cully’s father has disappeared and people aren’t quite acting like themselves. the owner of the Batty’s Attic antique shop has a bizarre hobby, he collects people shadows. He says it is safe, but what if it is not? The cover and description sound sufficiently creepy to get young teens/middle grade readers intersted.
Back cover blurb: Like his name, Gray is dark and stormy. Dylan is the exact opposite – full of light and life. It’s definitely not love at first sight for these two. But slwoly, fascination turns to admiration, which turns to caring, until finally these lone souls find love. But staying in love is not as easy as falling if love. If Dylan and Gray want their love to last, they’re going to have to learn that sometimes love means having to say you’re sorry.
First lines: (Gray) Out of the corner of my eye, I’m watching a girl.
I flipped through and browsed parts of this title and it seems like a well written, slow simmering love story. The parts I read, I liked. And I liked the characters, too. This will probably be a hit for teens looking for a contemporary romance. Ages 14 and up.
The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry
Back cover blurb: This dark and thrilling adventure, with an unforgettable heroin, will aptivate fans of steampunk and fantasy.
First lines: “There’s no mistaking what your father was, not when you’ve got feet and hands like those.”
When Lena Mattacascar turn 18, she leaves the comfort of her home to find the northern wilderness knows as Secree, and hopefully her father. Secree is an “untamed and mysterious regions, said to be inhabited by Peculiars – people who unsual physical characteristics make them unacceptable to moder society.” Lena can’t help but wonder, was her father a Peculiar? Is she? On her journey Lena meets a wider variety of characters whose motives are uncertain, but if she is going to find her father she is going to have to confront her darkest fears. My co-worker borrowed this ARC and read it and she liked it a lot and recommends it. It sounds like it would be a good pairing with Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.
All the Right Stuff by Walter Dean Myers
Back cover blurb: Who’s on top of the social food chain? How do you get ahead? Who makes the rules? Who needs to follow them?
First lines: “Police!”
I cursed under my breath and felt around in the darkness for my table lamp, found it, and check the small travel clock on the end table. Three o’clock. Nothing good ever happens at three o’clock in the friggin’ morning.
When looking for gritty, urban reads for teen males, Walter Dean Myers can usually be counted on to deliver the goods. For 2012 he was named the Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Paul is working in a soup kitchen the summer his father is killed. Here he spends time with a soup man named Elijah who spends a lot of time talking about “the social contract”. “Philosophy, conspiracy theories, and the culture of Harlem come together in one of Walter Dean Myer’s most thought-provoking nvoels to date.” This title has a discussion guide and teacher and library blog feature at www.thepageturner.com.
Back cover blurb: October 11, 1943. A British spy plan crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lot the game before it has barely begun.
First lines: I am a coward. I wanted to be heroic and I pretended I was. I have always been good at pretending.
“Verity” is captured by the Gestapo and living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogator gives her a choice: reveal her mission or face the firing squad. Laurie Halse Anderson says “This astonishing tale of friendship and truth will take wing and soar into your heart.” Again, I read snippets of this book and it is a thrilling tale that should fly off of the shelves.
The Downside of Being Charlie by Jenny Torres Sanchez
Back cover blurb: How do you rise above when you’ve always been left behind?
First lines: I don’t know how you can see things before it’s actually there, but you can.
The Downside of Being Charlie is a touching contemporary tale that I highly recommend for older teens and you can read my full review here.
Everyone thinks Evan is sick . . . Everyone thinks science will find a cure. but Evan knows he is not sick, he is transforming. Evan’s metamorphosis has him confied to his bed, constantly terrified, and completely alone. Alone, except for his visits from the Wuftoom, a wormlike creature that tells him he is becoming one of them.
First lines: Evan sat on his bed with his back against the pillow. The light was so low that the room was bathed in shadows. They fell from the cutter, making dark shapes on the worn hardwood floor. But Evan was so used to the darkness that he saw the shapes making the shadows, even the pain peeling off the once-white walls.
This book has a stunning cover and an interesting premise based on the back cover pitch, but I can’t even begin to say anything about it without reading it.
Sway by Amber McRee Turner
Back cover blurb: Sway (noun) 1: The action of swining back and forth; a sweeping motion
2: Power; influence. With a little sway, everything might change.
First lines: Being awake all night long is not such a good thing when it comes from eating spoiled mayonnaise or hearing raccoons fight over garbage outside your window.
Cass and her dad set off on the road in an RV named The Roast looking to stir up a little home spun magic, the amazing power of “Sway”. On their mysterious summer adventure there is one person in particular Cass would like to share this magic with, her mom. This is technically middle grade fiction, but everyone can use a little Sway in their lives . . .
Back cover blurb: The anticipated final book in the trilogy hailes as “Weird in the best possible way” by Salon.com
First lines: Dear
Mamma Butcher Brakespeare Azota Tiny Doom: Everyone thinks the Birdies killed you, sacrificed you to one of their gods, whose priests ate your body while he ate your soul.
This is the final book in the stunning Flora Segunda trilogy, and I think that is all I should have to say about the matter. But in case you need a little more, Diana Wynne Hibes calls the adventures of Flora “highly original, strange and amusing.” Still need more? Wilce has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award and won the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science fiction and Fantasy. You’ll want to read the first two books, Flora’s Dare and Flora Segunda, first.
Leave a comment and let me know what you think of these May releases.
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About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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