Unexpected Finds – ALA midwinter 2011

One of my favorite parts of circling the exhibit floor like a reader-shark smelling ARC-blood in the water (and a HUGE THANK YOU to all the brave souls manning the publisher booths for being so insanely nice about my pestering them) is finding the surprises, the shiny new reads that catch my eye and call my name, the joy in discovering new books and authors to get excited about. It’s kind of like the zing of a Jane Austen style introduction (why, hello…).

So here are some of my finds from this past weekend that I am now absolutely raring to read:

The Floating Islands by Rachel Neumier

Release Date: 2/8/2011

Book Jacket:

The Floating Islands are unlike anything Trei has ever seen: stunning, majestic, and graced with kajuraihi, men who soar the skies with wings. Trei is instantly sky-mad, and desperate to be a kajurai himself. The only one who fully understands his passion is Araene, his newfound cousin. Prickly, sarcastic, and gifted, Araene has a secret of her own… a dream a girl can never attain.

Trei and Araene quickly become conspirators as they pursue their individual paths. but neither suspects that their lives will be deeply entwined – and that the facte of the Floating Islands willl lie in their hands…

Lyrical and engrossing, The Floating Islands captures a world of great beauty, great bravery, and great danger.

My thoughts:

Love the cover, love the originality. SOLD.

Entwined by Heather Dixon

Release Date: 3/29/2011

Book Jacket:

Azalea and her younger sisters dance in the mysterious silver forest every night, escaping from the sadness of the palace and their father’s grief. What they don’t understand – although as time passes they begin to get an inkling of the danger they are in – is that the mysterious and dashing Keeper is tightening his snare with deadly purpose.

Lush, romantic, and compelling, this debut novel by Heather Dixon will thrill fans of Shannon Hale, Robin McKinley, and Edith Pattou.

My thoughts:

I have an unholy love for fairy tale retellings – I blame Robin McKinley – and this one looks simply lovely.

TEETH: Vampire Tales, Edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

Release Date: 4/5/11

Book Jacket:

Sink your teeth into these bite-sized tales exploring the intersections among the living, dead, and undead. The vampires in these stories range from romantic to chilling to gleeful—and touch on nearly every emotion in between. The one thing they have in common? Their desire for blood….

Contributors include: Genevieve Valentine • Steve Berman • Christopher Barzak • Neil Gaiman • Delia Sherman • Garth Nix • Suzy McKee Charnas • Kaaron Warren • Cecil Castellucci • Jeffrey Ford • Nathan Ballingrud • Kathe Koja • Catherynne M. Valente • Melissa Marr • Ellen Kushner • Cassandra Clare • Holly Black • Lucius Shepard • Emma Bull • Tanith Lee

My thoughts:

How did I not know about this anthology?!? And while I’m the first to admit I’m a little vamped out, you had me at Neil Gaiman – not to mention Tanith Lee, Holly Black…

Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis

Release Date: 4/5/2011

Book Description:

At twelve years old, any proper young lady should be sitting quietly at home, practicing her embroidery, learning French, and keeping her mouth closed and her opinions to herself.

But Kat Stephenson is no ordinary young lady.

Kat’s father may be a respectable vicar, but her late mother was a notorious witch, her brother has gambled the whole family into debt, and Kat herself is the newest target of an ancient and secretive magical Order.

Now Kat’s ready to do whatever it takes to win all three of her older siblings their true loves, even if she has to battle highwaymen, practise magic, and break all of Society’s rules along the way.

The first Kat Stephenson adventure was published August 1, 2010 in the UK as A Most Improper Magick and will be published April 5, 2011 in the US as Kat, Incorrigible.

My thoughts:

If the word “incorrigible” is in the title, I am destined to like it. Plus Brits, magic, manners, highwaymen… I’m in love.

Juniper Berry: A Tale of Terror and Temptation by M.P. Kozlowsky

Release Date: 4/26/2011

Book Jacket:

Be careful what you wish for.

Life for young Juniper is a series of contradictions. She is the daughter of the world’s most famous film stars, and yet she is alone. She lives on a palatial estate, but she feels completely trapped. And even though she is closer to her mother and father than anyone, she couldn’t feel more distant from them. In fact, Mr. and Mrs. Berry have been cold, disinterested, and cruel, not at all themselves lately. And lonely, imprisoned Juniper and her equally beset friend, Giles, are determined to find out why.

On a cold and rainy night, she follows her parents as they sneak out of the house and enter the woods. What she discovers is an underworld also filled with contradictions: one that is terrifying and enticing, lorded over by a creature both sinister and seductive, who can sell you all the world’s secrets in a simple red balloon. For the first time, Juniper and Giles have a choice to make. And it will be up to them to confront their own fears in order to save the ones who couldn’t.

M.O. Kozlowsky’s debut is a modern-day fairy tale of terror, temptation, and ways in which it is our choices that make us who we are.

My thoughts:

Sounds like part The Replacement, part Grimm. Yes, please.

Between Two Ends by David Ward

Release Date: 5/1/2011

Book Jacket:

Can Yeats escape from The Arabian Nights?

When Yeats and his parents visit his grandmother’s creepy old house, Yeats reunites a pair of pirate bookends and uncovers the amazing truth: Years ago, Yeats’s father traveled into The Arabian Nights with a friend, and that friend, Shari, is still stuck in the tales. Assisted by the not-always-trustworthy pirates, Yeats must navigate the unfamiliar world of the story of Shaharazad – dodging guards and tigers and the dangerous things that lurk in the margins of the stories – in order ot save Shari and bring peace to his family.

David Ward has created a fantasy rich with atmosphere and full of heart-stopping drama.

My thoughts:

Narnia meets Inkheart, Arabian Nights style. I like…

Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

Release Date: 5/31/10

Book Jacket:

How do you defy destiny?

Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is—no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it’s getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she’s haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood . . . and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they’re destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history.

As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together—and trying to tear them apart.

My thoughts:

Greek myths, another of my infamous soft spots – and though it’s hard to picture demigods without Rick Riordan, this looks like a fun, lush, gothic take. Also, the cover seems very Helen of Troy – and it isn’t black!

Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey

Release Date: 6/21/2011

Book Jacket:

Violet Willoughby doesn’t believe in ghosts. But they believe in her. After spending years participating in her mother’s elaborate ruse as a fraudulent medium, Violet is about as skeptical as they come in all matters supernatural. Now that she is being visited by a very persistent ghost, one who suffered a violent death, Violet can no longer ignore her unique ability. She must figure out what this ghost is trying to communicate, and quickly because the killer is still on the loose.

Afraid of ruining her chance to escape her mother’s scheming through an advantageous marriage, Violet must keep her ability secret. The only person who can help her is Colin, a friend she’s known since childhood, and whom she has grown to love. He understands the true Violet, but helping her on this path means they might never be together. Can Violet find a way to help this ghost without ruining her own chance at a future free of lies?

My thoughts:

I tend to look at these type of *breathless* covers with a jaundiced eye, but Victorian style seances just sound like fun. Plus, the fact that the cover isn’t black gives me hope…

Withering Tights by Louise Rennison

Release Date: 7/8/2010

Book Jacket:

Hilarious new series from Queen of Teen – laugh your tights off at the (VERY) amateur dramatic antics of Talullah and her bonkers mates. Boys, snogging and bad acting guaranteed!

Picture the scene: Dother Hall performing arts college somewhere Up North, surrounded by rolling dales, bearded cheesemaking villagers (male and female) and wildlife of the squirrely-type. On the whole, it’s not quite the showbiz experience Tallulah was expecting… But once her mates turn up and they start their ‘FAME! I’m gonna liiiiive foreeeeeever, I’m gonna fill my tiiiiights’ summer course things are bound to perk up. Especially when the boys arrive. (When DO the boys arrive?) Six weeks of parent-free freedom. BOY freedom. Freedom of expression…cos it’s the THEATRE dahling, theatre!!

My thoughts:

Who can resist that title, I ask you?

And there you have it! My ALA midwinter finds. What do you think?