ALA Annual 2012 (Part 2): Books to be excited about

Words you will read frequently in this post: excited, happy, OMG, love. This is a list of the top 10 got-at-ALA books I’m most excited to read, somewhat late but who really cares.

In no particular order:
1. The Diviners by Libba Bray

Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City–and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult–also known as “The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies.”

When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer–if he doesn’t catch her first.

♥ It should be pretty frickin’ obvious why I’m so excited to read this. Ghosts. 1920s New York. MYSTERIES AND THINGS. C’MON NOW.

2. Shadows by Ilsa J. Bick

Even before the EMPs brought down the world, Alex was on the run from the demons of her past and the monster living in her head. After the world was gone, she thought Rule was a sanctuary for her and those she’d come to love.

But she was wrong.

Now she’s in the fight of her life against the adults who would use her, the survivors who don’t trust her, and the Changed who would eat her alive.

Welcome to Shadows, the second book in the haunting apocalyptic Ashes Trilogy: where no one is safe and humans may be the worst of the monsters.

♥ Thank you SO much to the nice guy at the EgmontUSA booth who handed me this ARC after I waxed poetic about how awesome Ashes was. The more I think about the ending of Ashes, the more I need to read Shadows NOW. Yay!

3. Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz

The master puppeteer, Gaspare Grisini, is so expert at manipulating his stringed puppets that they appear alive. Clara Wintermute, the only child of a wealthy doctor, is spellbound by Grisini’s act and invites him to entertain at her birthday party. Seeing his chance to make a fortune, Grisini accepts and makes a splendidly gaudy entrance with caravan, puppets, and his two orphaned assistants.

Lizzie Rose and Parsefall are dazzled by the Wintermute home. Clara seems to have everything they lack — adoring parents, warmth, and plenty to eat. In fact, Clara’s life is shadowed by grief, guilt, and secrets. When Clara vanishes that night, suspicion of kidnapping falls upon the puppeteer and, by association, Lizzie Rose and Parsefall.

As they seek to puzzle out Clara’s whereabouts, Lizzie and Parse uncover Grisini’s criminal past and wake up to his evil intentions. Fleeing London, they find themselves caught in a trap set by Grisini’s ancient rival, a witch with a deadly inheritance to shed before it’s too late.

♥ I read A Drowned Maiden’s Hair earlier this year and loved it, so of course I’m excited to read LAS’s new book, Splendors and Glooms. I actually got this signed by the author and, of course, acted like a fool when I met her. (WHY oh god why) I may give pretty good advice but I haven’t learned how to apply it IRL yet.

4. Mira’s Diary: Lost in Paris by Marissa Moss

When Mira receives a cryptic postcard from her missing mother, she sets off with her father and brother to find her in Paris. Only Mira doesn’t know she’s looking in the wrong century.

With an innocent touch to a gargoyle sculpture on the roof of Notre Dame, Mira is whisked into the past. There she learns her mother isn’t just avoiding the family, she’s in serious trouble. Following her mother’s clues, Mira travels through time to help change history and bring her mother home.

♥ I actually got two books by Marissa Moss at ALA, from two different publishers. They both look good (the other one’s a historical fiction with spies!) but this one seems like it MIGHT be a MG-version of the Amelia’s Notebooks series, one of my favorite kids book series ever. Plus, I just love diaries-as-books.

5. Privateer’s Apprentice by Susan Verrico

When Jameson is kidnapped and taken to sea, he must learn how to survive–and how to apply the skills he has learned at home as a printer’s son.

♥ Pirates! Historical fiction! Interesting cover! I was drawn to it there at ALA, yes, and the enthusiastic Peachtree person who talked it up helped me decide to take it home with me.

6. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

♥ I haven’t read a Maggie Stiefvater book before (werewolves aren’t really my thing, and I’m just a little tired of dystopias now), but I heard her talk about The Raven Boys at the LA Times Festival of Books (during a panel) and it seemed interesting. I mean, I know it’s a paranormal romance, but…maybe it’ll be okay? Plus, just look at that cover!

7. Iron Hearted Violet by Kelley Barnhill

In most fairy tales, princesses are beautiful, dragons are terrifying, and stories are harmless. This isn’t most fairy tales.

Princess Violet is plain, reckless, and quite possibly too clever for her own good. Particularly when it comes to telling stories. One day she and her best friend, Demetrius, stumble upon a hidden room and find a peculiar book. A forbidden book. It tells a story of an evil being — called the Nybbas — imprisoned in their world. The story cannot be true — not really. But then the whispers start. Violet and Demetrius, along with an ancient, scarred dragon, may hold the key to the Nybbas’s triumph . . . or its demise. It all depends on how they tell the story. After all, stories make their own rules.

Iron Hearted Violet is a story of a princess unlike any other. It is a story of the last dragon in existence, deathly afraid of its own reflection. Above all, it is a story about the power of stories, our belief in them, and how one enchanted tale changed the course of an entire kingdom.

♥ There was a HUGE pile of this book at the Little, Brown booth one day, and that makes me think it’s one of the big books for this year. But hardly anyone’s talked about! Why not? It’s a fairy tale-like story with a twist, a princess who rescues herself (I think), plus dragons and maybe swordfights and all in all, it should be a good book. Yay!

8. Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

Astrid Jones copes with her small town’s gossip and narrow-mindedness by staring at the sky and imagining that she’s sending love to the passengers in the airplanes flying high over her backyard. Maybe they’ll know what to do with it. Maybe it’ll make them happy. Maybe they’ll need it. Her mother doesn’t want it, her father’s always stoned, her perfect sister’s too busy trying to fit in, and the people in her small town would never allow her to love the person she really wants to: another girl named Dee. There’s no one Astrid feels she can talk to about this deep secret or the profound questions that she’s trying to answer. But little does she know just how much sending her love–and asking the right questions–will affect the passengers’ lives, and her own, for the better.

In this unmistakably original portrayal of a girl struggling to break free of society’s boxes and definitions, Printz Honor author A.S. King asks readers to question everything–and offers hope to those who will never stop seeking and sharing real love.

♥ I feel like I’m a big A.S. King fan already, though I’ve never actually read any of her books. I don’t know why either of those things are true, but now that I’ve got this, her newest book, I can cross off the latter and find out if I’m right about the former.

9. The Stockholm Octavo by Karen Engelmann

In 18th century Stockholm, as the winds of revolution rage through the great capitals of Europe, the key to a nation’s fate rests in the hands of an unlikely hero. Emil Larsson is a drinker, card player and contented bachelor until he is told that his position at the Office of Excise and Customs depends on his settling down and finding a wife. Mrs Sparrow, proprietor of an exclusive gaming house, fortune teller (and confidante of King Gustav III) offers to lay an Octavo for him – a form of cartomancy which can divine his future if he can find the eight individuals who can help him realise his vision. When Mrs Sparrow wins a mysterious fan in her card game, the Octavo’s deeper powers are revealed. No longer just a game of the heart, collecting his Eight is now crucial to pulling his country back from the brink of rebellion and chaos. A debut novel full of opulent period detail, brilliantly interweaving history, romance and intrigue, in which one man’s fortune holds the key to a nation’s precarious fate.

♥ I mostly picked up this book because something about it reminded me of Arturo Perez-Reverte’s books, and I hope I’m right about that connection. I haven’t yet found another author who can do the sort of books AP-R does, but I want to. And even if it isn’t an AP-R-type book, it’s sure to be entertaining on its own. Historical fiction! Intrigue! Romance! Etc.!

10. Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart (also Wicked Bugs)

A tree that sheds poison daggers; a glistening red seed that stops the heart; a shrub that causes paralysis; a vine that strangles; and a leaf that triggered a war. In Wicked Plants, Stewart takes on over two hundred of Mother Nature’s most appalling creations. It’s an A to Z of plants that kill, maim, intoxicate, and otherwise offend. You’ll learn which plants to avoid (like exploding shrubs), which plants make themselves exceedingly unwelcome (like the vine that ate the South), and which ones have been killing for centuries (like the weed that killed Abraham Lincoln’s mother).

Menacing botanical illustrations and splendidly ghastly drawings create a fascinating portrait of the evildoers that may be lurking in your own backyard. Drawing on history, medicine, science, and legend, this compendium of bloodcurdling botany will entertain, alarm, and enlighten even the most intrepid gardeners and nature lovers.

♥ I’ve been wanting to read Wicked Plants ever since it first came out, so when I saw Algonquin Books giving away a copy I was v. excited. Wicked Bugs, a sequel in intent if not subject matter, was very kindly given to me by a fellow attendee who had gotten it first, but thought I should have it to go with Wicked Plants. Thanks, fellow attendee!

And I think this’ll be the last of my ALA posts. I was planning on doing another of tips and stuff, but that can wait until later on. I’d just like to say “thank you” one more time to all the publishers who gave out these lovely books, the authors who came and signed them, the attendees who were on the whole pretty wonderfully behaved, the conference organizers who made navigating ALA so easy, and everyone else involved in making ALA annual 2012 such an awesome experience for those who attended. Woohoo!

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