Series: Buzz Books
Published by: Publishers Lunch
ISBN 13: 9780989335349
Published: January 2015
Format reviewed: eVersion from NetGalley
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Buzz Books is an excellent window into which books we should be keeping an eye out for, with 26 exclusive pre-publication excerpts both young adult and middle-grade novels.
Who can resist such a thing? Actually getting to try-before-you-buy in such ease and comfort – and exciting when you discover that it has excerpts from books I had already listed in my ‘need to read’ pile for 2015!
It’s also handy with additional information and I can’t rate it highly enough for other book reviewers out there. As for book readers, I’ll get on to the meaty part which is the 26 excerpts!
In this, well, it’s almost an anthology – we had the following:
THE WRATH AND THE DAWN by Renée Ahdieh (Putnam Juvenile)
This was such a happy discover as I started reading, as it caught my eye in other lists and is easily one of the main books I’m looking forward to this year. When I was a child I had Arabian Nights as one of the few books at grandmas house that I could read – other than the Secret Garden, the rest were all boring westerns or gardening books – so I’ve known the tale of Shahryar and Scheherazade since I was young – how she tells him a story each night but never ends it, so he keeps her alive in order to find out what happens next.
This short preview shows you Shahrzad (a shortened version of Scheherazade) getting ready in order to see Khalid Ibn al-Rashid, Caliph of Khorasan, someone she hates on sight. And then it ends there! So very cruel. I can’t wait for this to come out, May is certainly way too far away.
A SCHOOL FOR UNUSUAL GIRLS by Kathleen Baldwin (Tor Teen)
This one is a little harder to grasp from such a short preview. It’s of a school, but all we see are Georgiana’s parents acting rather… well, the preview is short and all, but I don’t see how they would act this way in public at that time. They seem to be there for plot alone, rather than as realistic characters or individuals – snapping and carrying on about what their daughter has done as if they’re children themselves. Because of this, it doesn’t really come across as a good sample for the book itself, which would – I assume – barely mention the parents again and be entirely about the school.
Still, it seems interesting. If I saw the book while out I’d look at it a bit more, but I really think the preview should have been of Georgiana being shown around the school, or a first lesson or something.
UNDERTOW by Michael Buckley (HMH Books for Young Readers)
Shallow, one-dimensional and poor characterisation – other than the mother, who seems interesting.
SERIOUSLY WICKED by Tina Connolly (Tor Teen)
Quite cute, launching off into the list of chores a girl has who lives with a witch – things like, clean of the dragon’s den and feed and walk the werewolf. I found the writing style a little hard to keep going with, but it shows promise and I like how spells aren’t easy – this goes into the math behind them and how witches try to hide their secrets.
99 DAYS by Katie Cotugno (Balzer + Bray)
Another love triangle book. Daughter of an author fucks up between two brothers, and leaves the town they grew up in as the plot of her mothers latest book hits the tabloids, exploiting a secret she shared about how she cheated on one guy with his brother. The girl then returns, having to spend 99 days back in this town. Why did she even leave in the first place? Quite melodramatic. The introduction of Gabe was a bit odd – he didn’t seem to care much about anything when she returns to the town. It seems on one hand no one gives a shit, and on the other hand they’re all over-reacting quite a bit. While I don’t see why anyone feels the need to cheat or ‘just lets it happen’, I also don’t think it’s that much of a deal – or anyones business.
SAINT ANYTHING by Sarah Dessen (Viking)
This one was a little odd. The Synopsis makes it seem as though the main character has a reckless brother and then she discovers a new friend and how excellent her family is (the family of the friend, that is). Instead this preview sends out mega creep vibes, seeming as though a friend of the family is grooming the MC ad would have tried to assault her if she didn’t get her friend around with pizza that night.
It seems odd to offer a preview so at odds with the synopsis when this is the only little bit you get of the novel. It kinda works if you’re already a massive fan of Dessen, but from a standalone marketing point of view it’s… odd.
FERALS by Jacob Grey (HarperCollins)
Have to admit, I didn’t read this one all the way through. Just not my thing.
PAINLESS by S. A. Harazin (Albert Whitman Teen)
Kind of a bland preview, which is a shame as I’ve always found this kind of thing incredibly interesting – where your nerve endings are shot, so you can’t tell/feel if you’ve accidentally cut yourself, or if you’ve scratched yourself in the night so much you’ve bled, etc. You can’t feel heat from a fire so you could melt your skin off and not know. It’s all so fascinating, but unfortunately, the preview doesn’t do itself any favours and I probably won’t get this book.
MAGONIA by Maria Dahvana Headley (HarperCollins)
This is another I’ve been really looking forward to – I have to admit, it’s basically the cover that caught my eye, but it’s the plot I’m staying for. Aza has a rare disease – so rare, it’s now been named after her. She struggles to breathe our air, needing less oxygen than we do, and often finds herself drowning in it, having seizures, etc.
What I loved about this preview is how you see the range of people and their attitudes towards a very ill person. Sometimes it’s portrayed that no one understands, or that everyone treats you as though you’re made of glass, but in this you get a bit of everything. I loved the teacher who didn’t care at all and still thought Aza could get things done like anyone else.
I’ll certainly be getting this one as soon as it comes out. I can’t wait!
SEED by Lisa Heathfield (Running Press Teens)
This is another interesting one. Seemingly an isolated community a bit like that odd 2004 ‘The Village’ movie, we see a girl become a woman and what happens to girls when the first start to bleed. This girl is in hopes she’ll become the newest ‘companion’ to their leader, who is known as Papa S… so from fairly early-on we get a pretty firm idea that this is a cult, and that there’s certainly allowance if not encouragement for underaged girls to be used freely by much older men.
I’ll keep an eye out for this one – it certainly seems to grab you in, if only to see the baffling ideals this cult has. I’m not sure how I’ll find the romance that I’m expecting will occur as the synopsis says some other guy moves into the community with his very ill mother, and he no doubt questions everything the community stands for, and hence opens the girl’s eyes up a bit.
NIGHTBIRD by Alice Hoffman (Wendy Lamb Books)
Another I couldn’t really get into, unfortunately.
ANOTHER DAY by David Levithan (Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers)
I haven’t read much Levithan yet – only The Lover’s Dictionary which I quite enjoyed. This one is quite good, but uncomfortable if you’ve ever been in the kind of relationship where you’re that girl – emotionally twisted into being pathetic and needy and unable to see that it’s not just because you’re being a bit silly; it’s also because they’re the ones making you feel awkward and unwelcome and your defence results in making it worse.
I probably won’t get this book. I think it’ll be well written and excellent and everyone will be fans, but I also think it’ll be sad and awkward and hit a little too close to home for me.
AFTER THE RED RAIN by Barry Lyga with Peter Facinelli and Robert DeFranco (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
This one will be interesting, with three authors doing the one book. From reading the synopsis you can’t really tell, it’s a well-fleshed dystopian that reminds me quite a bit of the world in Pure by Julianna Baggott – that level of complete ruin where materials are so scarce.
The characters seem to be intelligent, and this seems like an interesting book – I’d pick it up again if I came across the full book once its out and have a bit more of a look at it. Peter Facinelli – I was wondering where I’d heard that name before – he was the vampire ‘dad’ in the Twilight movies. Interesting!
NOWHERE BUT HERE by Katie McGarry (Harlequin Teen)
Didn’t read, not my kind of thing, it seems. It’s probably fine, but motorcycle gangs are a bit of a problem where I live, and while I know there’s some good clubs out there, I just wouldn’t be able to get into that headspace here.
THE HAUNTING OF SUNSHINE GIRL by Paige McKenzie (Weinstein Books)
This has quite a good set up – someone watching a girl celebrate her 16th birthday, apparently her real mum as the girl celebrates with a friend and her foster mum. The girl apparently has powers – something to do with feeling when someone dies, which manifests on the second she turns 16.
Then you see the girl and the foster mum move across America for a job opportunity, and see them settle into the new creepy home. The girl is reading Pride & Prejudice and mentions how no one uses the words flutter or enquires anymore – which I find odd, I mean, enquiries is pretty dang common, isn’t it? Butterflies flutter? Anyway, I’ll probably try find this book when it comes out in March. In looking up things about this book, they say it’s ‘based on the wildly popular YouTube channel, The Haunting of Sunshine Girl has been described as ‘Gilmore Girls meets Paranormal Activity for the new media age.” – I haven’t watched Gilmore Girls, shocking, I know. But I do love Paranormal Activity.
KISSING IN AMERICA by Margo Rabb (HarperCollins)
Just couldn’t get into this one.
TAPPER TWINS GO TO WAR by Geoff Rodkey (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
While I enjoy some books for younger readers, this one failed to grab me – though I’d love to have read it while judging CBCA as it seems it would be fun.
WHEN YOU LEAVE by Monica Ropal (Running Press Teens)
Cass is at a fancy new school on scholarship where she keeps getting in trouble. We see the hottest guy in school pretend she’s his girlfriend in order to avoid getting in trouble for snooping through the teacher’s desk, and also see Cass try to recover from the make-out session. She’s a skater girl with a best friend who’s unable to talk after a brush with cancer.
Nothing horribly wrong or bad about this book at all, but it didn’t really grab me either which seems to be the general consensus on goodreads.
DAUGHTER OF DEEP SILENCE by Carrie Ryan (Dutton Juvenile)
I read The Forest of Hands and Teeth but didn’t really love it. I liked elements of it, but overall it spiralled down into one whole big ‘nope’ from me.
Luckily, this seems quite interesting. A cruise ship is taken by pirates or terrorists, either way, people with guns who kill indiscriminately. A girl is found a week later, barely alive and with a recently deceased friend who only needed to hold on for an hour longer – it seems so cruel after they survived so long. The girl then sees on TV that two others from the ship have survived also – but they say it was a freak wave and make no mention of the men with guns.
The girl has lost her parents and best friend, and now she’s not sure what’s happened or why they’re lying.
Pretty good set up! I might just look for this one after all.
FUZZY MUD by Louis Sachar (Delacorte Press)
Also just not my thing, unfortunately.
THE KEEPERS by Ted Sanders (HarperCollins)
This is about a young boy who finds he can change worlds, and his friend Chloe who can walk through walls. This is written in a charming manner, showing us the boy as he discovers a store with his name on it, as she’s practically chased there by an unsettlingly tall man he later discovers is a hunter. What this all means though, we’d have to buy the book to find out.
This is one I’d recommend to Sam for sure!
KISSING TED CALLAHAN (AND OTHER GUYS) by Amy Spalding (Poppy)
I skim-read this one, but it didn’t really catch my attention.
GOODBYE STRANGER by Rebecca Stead (Wendy Lamb Books)
This seems like quite a sweet book, showing a girl who survived a horrific car crash but it’s left her wondering why she’s alive. We see her on a date perhaps, and their interaction is quite lovely. Though from this short extract we don’t really see how this is aimed at middle grade, I’d certainly say a bit older than that simple from how the characters interact with each other.
BIGGIE by Derek E. Sullivan (Albert Whitman Teen)
‘Biggie’, real name Henry, weighs in at 136kg (more than double what I weight, my goodness!). He’s the son of a famous baseballer and has no interest in following in his footsteps. He says at his weight, people leave him alone. When you’re slightly overweight people stare or call you names but once you get obese they stop looking at you and give you A-‘s for just turning up in class and keeping quiet.
Weight surely seems like the biggest craze at the moment with nearly everyone at least watching what they eat if not on a diet, and you can always nearly find some weight/food focus on the tv at any moment of the day. It’s an interesting thought.
AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir (Razorbill)
Set in a Rome-like world, Laia waits up late one night for her brother as she has done for too long now. She suspects he’s a traitor, but the truth is much worse than that. When he’s arrested for treason she goes undercover as a slave in hopes she’ll be able to free him before he’s executed.
This seems like an exciting and decently written tale, and is out in April.
ASK THE DARK by Henry Turner (Clarion Books)
Unfortunately I had to end on an ‘eh’ note, Ask the Dark just didn’t grab me.
Overall this collection was a lot of fun to read through, and added a few more books to my lists to keep an eye out for!
- Alice Hoffman
- Amy Spalding
- Barry Lyga
- Buzz Books
- Carrie Ryan
- David Levithan
- Derek E. Sullivan
- Geoff Rodkey
- Henry Turner
- Jacob Grey
- Kathleen Baldwin
- Katie Cotugno
- Katie McGarry
- Lisa Heathfield
- Louis Sachar
- Margo Rabb
- Maria Dahvana Headley
- Michael Buckley
- Monica Ropal
- Paige McKenzie
- Peter Facinelli
- Publishers Lunch
- Rebecca Stead
- Renee Ahdieh
- Robert DeFranco
- S. A. Harazin
- Sabaa Tahir
- Sarah Dessen
- Ted Sanders
- Tina Connolly
- Young Adult