What a year 2017 has been. At the end of January, I got two offers on my middle-grade novel THE BOY, THE BOAT, AND THE BEAST and now the book has a publisher, a cover (isn’t it pretty?!), a jacket, chapter illustrations, and it’ll be on shelves in six months from today!
It feels like the next six months will be one celebration after another, because it has been an eight-year journey since I first got the idea for this story, and my path to publishing has been much, much longer. As part of these celebrations, I’ve got lots of fun giveaways planned, and the first one begins on Dec. 30 on Goodreads. (I’d meant to begin it on Dec. 26 for the six-month-out pre-anniversary — is that a word? — but I missed the setup deadline.) Put the book on your want-to-read list so you’re notified about this and future giveaways, then make sure you enter for your chance to win an early advanced reader copy.
Outside of my book finding its wonderful home at Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster, one of the most fun parts of this year has been meeting other authors whose debut books are coming out next year and reading advanced reader copies of their work. From the books I’ve read so far, 2018 is shaping up to be an amazing year for welcoming new literary voices.
Here are the 2018 books I’ve read so far, in order of their release dates:
This contemporary young adult book had me in tears. The story follows two sisters who, on their eighteenth birthday, take a test that’ll let them know whether their genes show they’re going to get the same disease that’s slowing killing their mother. Tragic, right?
How these two young women deal with their new realities, their relationships with themselves and others, and how their lives change along with their ideas of their “future” is the crux of this novel. Ultimately, the book is as sad as it is hopeful and as tragic as it beautiful.
The legend of Spartacus is turned on his head in a great way in this young adult novel. The story follows Attia, a 17-year-old warrior princess who’s been captured as a slave and presented to the Gladiator Champion of Rome, Xanthus. The two get to know each other inside the brutal world of ancient Rome. Brought up as a master swordsmaiden, Attia navigates through her new duties as a slave, including helping the Dominus, and taking care of the children of the house. But her nature doesn’t allow her to ignore the atrocities going on behind closed doors, and when she discovers a connection to the man who killed her father, revenge is on her mind.
I loved the way C.V. Wyk took the Spartacus legend and imagined something new with this book. But the best part is when Attia shows how much an of awesome badass she is.
The first middle-grade novel I read that’s coming out next year, A PROBLEMATIC PARADOX, is like Harry Potter with science. In the book, genius science whiz Nikola Kross’s life is turned upside down when her genius science whiz father is kidnapped by some foul-smelling creatures that are disguised as humans. Nikola is whisked out of her former-department-store home, where her father does experiments, and taken to a hidden school for science genius kids.
Turns out, Nikola’s dad is quite famous. And whereas in her old school, Nikola was the smartest kid and the odd one out, in this new school, she fits right in… sort of. There’s a lot to learn, what with portals that could take her anywhere and material that’ll bend into anything with the flick of her mind. And, of course, there’s the pesky problem of the aliens who still have her dad.
With lots of humor and adventure, A PROBLEMATIC PARADOX is a really fun read.
Lovers of stories will love this young adult fantasy novel in which a girl called Alice discovers the not-so-normal life she thought she led is even more not-so-normal. When her mother is kidnapped, Alice goes on a journey to save her and at the same time learns the true story of her own life.
And story is the important word there. THE HAZEL WOOD has references to so many classic and not so classic tales. Part of the fun of reading the book is getting the references. But Melissa Albert has also created an amazing world of the Hazel Wood with fantastic characters I won’t forget in a hurry. I’m looking forward to more stories in this world and from Melissa.
Another middle-grade novel, this contemporary fantasy story finds Megan Meyers trying to fit in at her new middle school. She’s done her research and knows what she’s got to do to make friends, which basically comes down to not being herself. But when things start going wrong and her usual self, including snort laugh, starts popping up, Megan does the only thing she can think of: Wishing for some help at the 11:11 minute like her grandmother told her.
The only thing is, her wish comes true, complete with magic that can solve all her problems! Or can it?
Kim Tomsic has written a funny, heart-warming story that everyone who has ever felt out of place in school or anywhere will be able to relate to. I hugged this book at the end. So many laughs, I had to drop everything else so I could know what happened at the end. I miss it already.
I love a good time-travel story, and this middle-grade novel takes the idea into a different direction. Focusing on Alec and his friend Danny in our present and Josie and her little sister Cassie in the past, the story shows these children talking through a Quija board while they’re living in the same house but more than a hundred years apart.
Camille DeAngelis has included wonderful details from the past and present, uniting the stories of the separate sets of children in unusual ways as they both deal with different difficulties in their respective times. The story shows that, in their hearts, kids are kids no matter what the year the is.
Imaginative and beautiful, Henry Lien’s PEASPROUT CHEN: FUTURE LEGEND OF SKATE AND SWORD blends mystery, action, martial arts and ice dancing in an amazing story I’ll never forget. Peasprout and her younger brother Cricket have just joined the Pearl Famous Academy of Skate and Sword, where Peasprout is determined to become a legend at the deadly but beautiful martial arts ice skating technique called wu liu.
Yet, like in any competitive school, there are students who are out to make sure Peasprout doesn’t achieve the honor she believes is her destiny. And there’s the disturbing news of conflicts outside of the Academy and attacks on the school itself that some accuse Peasprout of doing.
Henry Lien has created a wonderful, strong girl in Peasprout and a wonderous world in the Pearl. I already can’t wait for the next book in this series.
Beings with wings are falling out of the sky in this young adult novel, set in Edinburgh against the backdrop of the city’s famed festival. The protagonist, Jaya, is dealing with the death of her mother when the beautiful Beings start falling from the sky, broken and dying with no explanation. The world goes into angel-fever, including Jaya’s father and some of her friends, while all Jaya wants is to heal.
Sophie Cameron uses this miraculous event to explore grief, growing up, responsibilities, family and idea of what’s right in this book. Jaya, her father, her little sister and other people around the world are affected differently by the Beings, and when one lands in front of Jaya, she has to decide how it will affect her.
OUT OF THE BLUE is part thriller, part emotional drama, and I look forward to reading more books from Sophie Cameron in the future.
I can’t wait to read the other middle-grade and young adult novels coming from debut authors in 2018. You can find the list here.
And, of course, I can’t wait for you to read mine, THE BOY, THE BOAT, AND THE BEAST, when it comes out on June 26.
Which books are you excited about for 2018?