It’s just gone March and I’m reading for May. Which, really, isn’t that far out, but it gets frustrating when the awesome book you just finished would be perfect for the customer who just asked you for a recommendation. I love being able to read books ahead of publication, but I wish my memory was better so that I could keep a mental list of which book I thought of when I was speaking with which customer, but my poor brain just doesn’t work that way. On the plus side, though, I’m always pleasantly surprised when a book I read months ago finally shows up on the bookstore shelves. (I’m even more surprised by picture books because we look at the samples even further in advance.)
Razorhurst by Justine Larbalestier is rather fresh in my mind because I got my galley a little late. It’s full of ghosts and gangsters and orphaned urchins. It’s dark and dangerous and a little bit glamorous, though it’s a shabby, fading sort of glamour. It’s not for everyone, but when the right customer comes through the doors, I’ll gladly lead her to the bloody, brutal world of Sydney, Australia in 1932.
Shadow Scale, Rachel Hartman’s sequel to Seraphina, is also coming soon, which is exciting. The only trouble is, I don’t think I’m going to have to convince anyone to buy this book. We already have so many Seraphina fans among our customers that all I’ll have to say is “Seraphina sequel” and the book will sell itself. This is excellent, of course, but takes some of the fun out of it for me.
There are some other sequels coming in March that will also sell themselves, such as The Thickety: The Whispering Trees by J.A. White and Lauren deStefano’s The Internment Chronicles: Burning Kingdoms and Half Wild by Sally Green. Again, it’s exciting to see them, but they don’t really require much from me to get them into customers’ hands.
Oooooh…I almost forgot that Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee is also coming out in March. I love this book. Lovelovelovelovelove. With diversity in young people’s literature being so much in conversation right now–and rightly so–it’s heartening when one runs across a book like this that embraces characters of color so effortlessly. We have, as protagonists, a Chinese-American girl and a runaway slave who disguise themselves as boys and run from their small Kansas town after a terrible accident. They meet up on the trail with three cowboys–one of whom is Mexican–who are heading to California to seek their fortunes. There’s lots of danger and adventure and a little bit of romance (sadly, not between the two girls) and, although race definitely plays a role in how the characters are treated by others, it’s not made such a point of by the author as to come across as preachy or awkwardly politically correct. It’s sooooo good and you should read it and why isn’t it out right the heck now so I can handsell it like crazy? Why, Penguin? Why? [Ed. note: Don’t forget any of these to-be-released titles– you can email Billie’s bookstore or contact your local shop to preorder!]
Um, sorry. I got a little passionate there. I’m better now, I promise.
I am, however, going to taunt and tease you a little by singing the praises of a book that’s not coming out until the end of April. Any of you booksellers who are reading this, you need to check your galley shelves for a copy of The Game of Love and Death by Seattle author Martha Brockenbrough. I love this book. I love this book like I love slow, romantic black-and-white movies on a lazy Sunday afternoon. I love this book like Flora loves flying and like Henry loves jazz (but not like Flora and Henry love each other, because that would be weird). This book is being published by Scholastic and is clearly YA, but I hope that adults will find it and read it and love it. It’s a wonderful, wonderful book about love and death and about Love and Death, but it’s really mostly about love in all its variations and it’s sad and beautiful at once and I just can’t say enough about how much I loved this book. I’m afraid to read it again, for fear it won’t be as good as I remember, that it couldn’t possibly be as good as I remember. So, um, why don’t you go read it instead and let me know if it’s as good as I think it is? And I’ll just bide awhile with my memories of the love between Flora and Henry and the warm glow that love kindled in my tired soul.
Well, back to Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves, which I’ll be able to exclaim over to customers in May. Sigh.
Billie Bloebaum works at A Children’s Place Bookstore in Portland where she’s constantly finding herself saying, “I have the perfect book for you. Oh, wait. Never mind. It’s not out just yet. But, let me write down the title for you because you have to read it when it is out.”