Yurtscope: ALA midwinter 2013 discoveries

ALA midwinter CROP

What I love more than anything else is discovering new books, especially when they come completely out of the blue – and there is no place quite like ALA for doing just that. So here are a few of the titles I was very excited to uncover this past weekend in Seattle:

Spirit and Dust by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Delacorte Books for Young Readers, May 14, 2013

Spirit and Dust

Described as part caper, part classic detective story, they had me the minute they compared it to The Maltese Falcon. This book just sounds like a ridiculous amount of fun.

Book Jacket:

Speaking to the dead is nothing for Daisy Goodnight. The living, on the other hand, can occasionally be a problem. Especially when they knock you out, kidnap you, and force you to be their magical police dog.

Donald Maguire – mob boss extraordinaire – has a missing daughter, and Daisy is his first choice to track her down. But he didn’t actually ask her for help. When she woke up in his guest bedroom, she was told. But why her? And who – or what – in the world is the Black Jackal?

The Caged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni

Clarion Books, May 14, 2013

The Caged Graves

Speaking of mysteries, you know how I adore the historicals – and this one sounds wonderfully complex and heart-wrenching. Oh, I can’t wait…

Book Jacket:

17-year-old Verity Boone expects a warm homecoming when she returns to Catawissa, Pennsylvania, in 1867, pledged to marry a man she has never met. Instead, she finds a father she barely knows and a future husband with whom she apparently has nothing in common. One truly horrifying surprise awaits her: the graves of her mother and aunt are enclosed in iron cages outside the local cemetery. Nobody in town will explain why, but Verity hears rumors of buried treasure and witchcraft. Perhaps the cages were built to keep grave robbers out…or to keep the women in. Determined to understand, Verity finds  herself in a life-and-death struggle with people she trusted.

Inspired by a pair of real caged graves in present-day Catawissa, this historical YA novel weaves mystery, romance, and action into a suspenseful drama with human greed and passion at its core.

 Handbook for Dragon Slayers by Merrie Haskell

Harper Collins, May 28, 2013

Handbook for Dragon Slayers

As a fan of Haskell’s debut (The Princess Curse), I was delighted to learn that she has a new MG fantasy coming out this year – and though it won’t be a direct fairy tale retelling this time around, apparently Handbook for Dragon Slayers does make a slight allusion to a Norwegian fairy tale, The Princess on the Glass Hill. Have to say I’m intrigued…

Book Jacket:

A runaway princess, magic horses, and fire-breathing dragons populate a smart and adventurous coming-of-age story sure to appeal to fans of Gail Carson Levine and Shannon Hale.

Princess Tilda rarely thinks about dragons, preoccupied as she is with her endless responsibilities – and the pain from her crippled foot – as she dreams of someday writing a book. But when politics and greed turn Tilda’s life upside down, she goes on the run with two would-be dragon slayers. Freed of a princess’s obligations, soon Tilda is facing down the Wild Hunt, befriending magical horses, and battling flame-spouting dragons.

But just as there is more to fighting dragons than pointing a sword at them, there is more to being a princess than Tilda had supposed. And before long she is learning more about dragons, and herself, than she ever expected.

Merrie Haskell, author of The Princess Curse, presents a magical tale of perceptions, dangers, and duty, and of a brave new heroine on a journey of transformation and discovery.

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, June 4, 2013

The Testing

Despite my profound dystopian fatigue, this book still managed to catch my eye – and as for the buzz, Hunger Games comparisons abounded. Dare to hope?

Book Jacket:

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one in the same?

The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing – their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.

Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies – trust no one.

But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.

Written in Stone by Rosanne Parry

Random House Books for Young Readers, June 25, 2013

Written in Stone

I love stories about times of change, about the upheaval when new eras take root over old, and everything about this book, from the content to the cover, drew me in. Described as a quiet, beautiful book, it just sounds mesmerizing.

Book Jacket:

Rosanne Parry author of Heart of a Shepherd, shines a light on Native American tribes of the Pacific Northwest in the 1920s, a time of critical cultural upheaval.

Pearl has always dreamed of hunting whales, just like her father. Of taking to the sea in their eight-man canoe, standing at the prow with a harpoon, and waiting for a whale to lift its barnacle-speckled head as it offers its life for the life of the tribe. But now that can never be. Pearl’s father was lost on the last hunt, and the whales hide from the great steam-powered ships carrying harpoon cannons, which harvest not one but dozens of whales from the ocean. With the whales gone, Pearl’s people, the Makah, struggle to survive as Pearl searches for ways to preserve their stories and skills

And there you have it, the books I was thrilled to discover at ALA. And a huge thank you to the many brave booth-soldiers who helped me do just that!