Hi everyone! I’m very excited to be writing a guest blog post here. Kelly and I were friends in college, lost touch after graduation, and reconnected several years later on Facebook when I was looking at her profile and realized, “Hey, she’s a librarian who specializes in YA!” and Kelly realized, “Hey, she’s a children’s book editor!” So here I am.
I worked for several years at HarperCollins, where I learned so much and worked with amazing people, and I recently joined the fantastic team at Razorbill as a senior editor. I focus primarily on teen and middle-grade fiction, but make the occasional exception for a super cool nonfiction or picture book project.
She said, “Write about whatever you want,” so I’m going to be very casual and chatty and just tell you about some 2011 books for teens that are going to rock your socks off…
Technically Tempestuous (HarperTeen) went on sale at the tail end of 2010, but this gorgeous book is a conclusion to a trilogy that I just love, Lesley Livingston’s Wondrous Strange series. If you haven’t discovered these books yet, I hope you’ll give them a try. They’re urban faerie paranormal romances, yes, and I know you’ve seen that before—but the characters are so vibrant and original and the strand of Shakespeare that winds through the complex, rich plots is so lyrical. I think you’ll find them to be extremely different from the sea of paranormal you’ve undoubtedly been experiencing.
Across the Universe (Penguin/Razorbill) by Beth Revis is a book I was eyeing long before I came to work at Razorbill, which publishes it. It can be pitched as “Titanic meets Brave New World,” and it’s a romance/murder mystery set on a future space ship. It’s awesome. Again, I know you’re seeing a glut of dystopian in the YA sphere (or if you haven’t yet, get ready, because every publisher has ‘em coming out like dominoes) but this novel is very deep and different. It also has one of the best first chapters I’ve ever read in my life.
Starcrossed (HarperTeen) by Josephine Angelini…Modern-day Nantucket. Ancient Greek mythology. Super sexy romance. Superhuman powers. I’m not going to say anything more because the plot is too special to give away. This book will go on sale May 31, and it is going to explode like a, well, supernova. You heard it here first.
I’d like to give another Razorbill shout-out to the Strange Angels series by Lili St. Crow. For those of you who like your vampires with a dash of kickass, you’ll love this Buffy-esque heroine, Dru Anderson. These books are smart and sexy—no wilting violet here! Book 5 in the series, Reckoning, comes out this fall. Okay okay, and one more Razorbill book (not from 2011) that you should go find is The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove, Lauren Kate’s first book, published before Fallen, is Macbeth set in high school.
Cold Kiss (HarperTeen) by Amy Garvey. A friend of mine edited this novel, and it’s a book that had everyone who read the manuscript coming into work the next day clutching it (or their e-reader) to their chest and saying, “OMG, this was so good.” Beautiful, beautiful writing and a story that will grab your heart. It’s about a girl who resurrects her dead boyfriend and must deal with the repercussions thereafter.
The Way We Fall (Hyperion) by Megan Crewe. I’m not sure if I’m allowed/supposed to admit this, but I lost this book at auction last year. However, it sold to a rockstar editor who’s another friend of mine, so I didn’t gnash my teeth too violently. (Only a little bit.) This one is dystopian (what did I tell you about the lineup the publishers have in store for you?), but the kind of creepy, spooky dystopian where it starts out in a very recognizable and normal modern day but then … something happens. The scariness of what happens is counterbalanced by the beauty and simplicity of the prose. I think this novel will be a memorable one.
The Fitzosbornes in Exile (Knopf) by Michelle Cooper. And now for something completely different…if you like Gothic novels, historical fiction, or the classic I Capture the Castle, you’ll love The FitzOsbornes in Exile and its predecessor (which I recommend reading first) A Brief History of Montmaray. It’s about a girl who lives off the coast of Spain and France on a tiny (fictional) island of which she is a princess. But don’t go thinking tiaras. These books are set in the 1930s, right before the outbreak of World War II, and they’re filled with spying, danger, and of course coming of age.
Have you read any of these? Are they on your radar? I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments!
Thanks for stopping by, Laura. And you can keep your eyes here for a giveaway of Starcrossed when pub date draws a little nearer, too!
Kelly Jensen is a former librarian turned editor for Book Riot. She's the author of IT HAPPENS: A Guide to Contemporary Realistic Fiction for the YA Reader and the forthcoming Feminism For The Real World (Algonquin Young Readers, Spring 2017).