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).
Kelly convinced me to go to Midwinter this year, and I’m so glad she did – it was by far the most enjoyable conference I’ve been to. Highlights included seeing Kelly and Janssen, who I had not seen in person since BEA in May of 2011, YALSA trivia (where I contributed nothing, but I’m OK with that), chatting with a very cool editor about books over lunch, a fantastic Little Brown preview breakfast (bacon…and books), a terrific Scholastic preview full of reader’s theater and genuine syllabub, and meeting a bunch of librarians who I had previously only known through Twitter. (Spoiler: none of them tried to kill me.)
I’m going to leave the more in-depth conference review to Kelly and just discuss a few of the books I picked up. I’ve learned to be more selective in my choices. The first conference I went to I was just so gobsmacked by the “free books” that I was more than a little grabby. I’ve learned better, and I’m glad I have. The stack I brought home is made up entirely of books I am excited to read. Links lead to Goodreads.
The List by Siobhan Vivian
The only contemporary on my list! I’m very picky about the contemporary books I read. I need a very strong hook, and this one has it: each year, a list with the “prettiest” and “ugliest” girls in each grade is put up at a high school. Plus, Kelly thinks it’s terrific and the author is just so nice. (Yes, I know niceness does not indicate talent, but it does make me feel more favorable about the book anyway.)
Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott
I’ve become a huge fan of Candlewick lately. I think their selections are almost universally examples of good writing, even if the subject matter is not really up my alley. This one, of course, is perfect for me: an Asian re-telling of Cinderella with a different kind of magic. I like Marriott’s blurb on the back: “I never liked Cinderella as a little girl. She seemed like the worst kind of wimp to me, and I hated the fact that she needed someone else to rescue her.” Fairy tale re-tellings never go out of style – I would say they are “story templates” and almost all literature owes a debt to them.
I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
This is supposed to be “Dexter for teens.” It’s also my first Barry Lyga. I don’t know how I feel about Dexter for teens, but I do like thrillers and murder mysteries, and I certainly like the fact this is in third person past tense.
There Is No Dog by Meg Rosoff
God is a teenage boy named Bob. “Every time he falls in love, Earth erupts in natural disasters.” Sounds pretty funny to me.
172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad
Three teens are sent by NASA on a voyage to the moon. Terrifying things ensue. I’ve heard that this one is scary enough to keep readers up at night. Teen horror novels usually have just the right amount of creepiness for me. Adult horror novels? Too much.
Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough
Another creepy title, this time from Candlewick. In case you’re unaware, this is where the book gets its title.
The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman
A thriller about a girl who sets out to prove her boyfriend is not a murderer. Her quest takes her to Prague and gets her involved with a secret society and conspiracies and lots of other fun stuff. This has been billed as similar to The Da Vinci code, but it seems much darker.
The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
A fantasy about a kingdom that needs a prince and the boy who auditions to impersonate the king’s long-lost son. This sounds like a really fun middle grade.
Winning Team by Dominique Moceanu
Self-explanatory. Regretfully, I could not find an image of this cover online.