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What is ALA?

ALA is the American Library Association, and every year they have two major conferences:  ALA Midwinter and ALA Annual (in the summer).  This year, the annual conference was in Orlando, so my bestie, Hannah, and I hopped in the car for an awesome road trip!

I know there has been some recent controversy about a blogger who was greedy at ALA and other cons, and a sign at Macmillan Library booth asking bloggers not to take books that I didn’t see.  Hannah and I honestly had an amazing time – everyone was super nice and as excited as we were to talk about books!  I found I spent a lot of time talking to pubs and asking questions and I loved hearing what they were passionate about.   Hannah and I were both at RT 2015 and this was much more low-key and definitely less stressful.  I really hope that certain “blogger” hasn’t ruined it for everyone else who loves books and wants to attend cons like ALA.

It was hard to narrow it down to my 10 favorite discoveries and I am honestly surprised about what made my list (I never would have guessed that three graphic novels would be on this list!).  You will be seeing more of most of these here at PJV in the future in the form of reviews and such, but, without further ado, here are the 10 books I discovered at ALA that I’m most excited about:

Manga Classics!
Pride & PrejudicePride & Prejudice (August 19, 2014) –

“This adaptation retains all of the charm and fun of the characters and situations, and is a great way to expose those without the time or inclination to pick up the novel.”

“Good Comics For Kids (School Library Journal).”

Beloved by millions the world over, Pride & Prejudice is delightfully transformed in this bold new manga adaptation. All of the joy, heartache, and romance of Jane Austen’s original, perfectly illuminated by the sumptuous art of manga-ka Po Tse, and faithfully adapted by Stacy E. King.


Emma (June 16, 2015) – Just in time for the 200th Anniversary, Manga Classics: Emma brings Jane Austen’s classic tale of youthful folly and romantic exuberance to a modern audience with this beautiful, new manga adaptation. The impulsive match-making of Emma Woodhouse delivers both humor and heartache through the gorgeous artwork of manga-ka Po Tse (Manga Classics: Pride and Prejudice). – Manga Classics editions feature classic stories, faithfully adapted and illustrated in manga style, and available in both hardcover and softcover editions. Proudly presented by UDON Entertainment and Morpheus Publishing.

Patti says: I absolutely love the idea of turning classic novels into manga! In addition to Jane Austen, they had other titles like Great Expectations, Jane Eyre, and The Scarlet Letter, and more.  I think if you can find a new and interesting way to bring the classics to each new generation – go for it! (Of course I bought Sense and Sensibility; how could I resist?)

caravalCaraval by Stephanie Garber (January 31, 2017):

Before you enter the world of Caraval, you must remember that it’s all a game . . .

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their ruthless father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the legendary, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

Then, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation to Caraval finally arrives. So, Tella enlists a mysterious sailor’s help to whisk Scarlett away to this year’s show. But as soon as the trio arrives, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nonetheless soon becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with her sister, with Legend, and with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

Patti says:  You guys, this has the beginnings of a story I’d love – a looming arranged marriage, a creepy carnival, kidnapping, and a deadly game. Yes, please.

I’m also going to put it out there that I almost didn’t get a copy of Caraval -or get to meet the author- because I am not a librarian, but thanks to the extreme generosity of a total stranger (a librarian named Tina) I was able to do both.  I’d never met her before and probably never will again, but I will always remember her kindness and try to pay it forward as often as I can.

jerkbaitJerkbait by Mia Siegert (May 1, 2016):

Even though they’re identical, Tristan isn’t close to his twin Robbie at all—until Robbie tries to kill himself.

Forced to share a room to prevent Robbie from hurting himself, the brothers begin to feel the weight of each other’s lives on the ice, and off. Tristan starts seeing his twin not as a hockey star whose shadow Tristan can’t escape, but a struggling gay teen terrified about coming out in the professional sports world. Robbie’s future in the NHL is plagued by anxiety and the mounting pressure from their dad, coach, and scouts, while Tristan desperately fights to create his own future, not as a hockey player but a musical theatre performer.

As their season progresses and friends turn out to be enemies, Robbie finds solace in an online stranger known only as “Jimmy2416.” Between keeping Robbie’s secret and saving him from taking his life, Tristan is given the final call: sacrifice his dream for a brother he barely knows, or pursue his own path. How far is Robbie willing to go—and more importantly, how far is Tristan willing to go to help him?

Patti says:  I picked this one up by accident but the blurb grabbed me and I’m looking foward to reading Jerkbait. The story sounds original and I think this one’s going to pull at my heartstrings a little (or a lot). 

OutcastOutcast by Kirkman & Azaceta (January 28, 2015):

NEW HORROR SERIES FROM THE WALKING DEAD CREATOR ROBERT KIRKMAN! Kyle Barnes has been plagued by demonic possession all his life and now he needs answers. Unfortunately, what he uncovers along the way could bring about the end of life on Earth as we know it. Collects OUTCAST BY KIRKMAN & AZACETA #1-6.

Patti says:  I love The Walking Dead (not Fear The Walking Dead – let’s just be clear about that) and I had no idea Robert Kirkman had done a graphic novel about demonic posession (yay, right?) I think this one’s going to be really, really scary.

Vassa Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter (September 20, 2016):

In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they’ve arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now—but not Vassa’s working-class neighborhood.

In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling out again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.

But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair. . . .

Inspired by the Russian folktale Vassilissa the Beautiful and Sarah Porter’s years of experience teaching creative writing to New York City students.

Patti says:  Okay, I’m just excited for everything about Vassa in the Night. That blurb! That cover!  Sarah Porter is a new-to-me author but I have very high hopes for this book.

last true love story The Last True Love Story by Brandon Kiely (September 13, 2016):

The point of living is learning how to love.

That’s what Gpa says. To Hendrix and Corrina, both seventeen but otherwise alike only in their loneliness, that sounds like another line from a pop song that tries to promise kids that life doesn’t actually suck. Okay, so: love. Sure.

The thing about Corrina—her adoptive parents are suffocating, trying to mold her into someone acceptable, predictable, like them. She’s a musician, itching for any chance to escape, become the person she really wants to be. Whoever that is.

And Hendrix, he’s cool. Kind of a poet. But also kind of lost. His dad is dead and his mom is married to her job. Gpa is his only real family, but he’s fading fast from Alzheimer’s. Looking for any way to help the man who raised him, Hendrix has made Gpa an impossible promise—that he’ll get him back east to the hill where he first kissed his wife, before his illness wipes away all memory of her.

One hot July night, Hendrix and Corrina decide to risk everything. They steal a car, spring Gpa from his assisted living facility, stuff Old Humper the dog into the back seat, and take off on a cross-country odyssey from LA to NY. With their parents, Gpa’s doctors, and the police all hot on their heels, Hendrix and Corrina set off to discover for themselves if what Gpa says is true—that the only stories that last are love stories.

Patti says:  This is another book I stumbled upon by accident! I was waiting to talk to the publishing rep about a book signing, and was browsing their titles when this one caught my eye – they steal a car and spring Grandpa from the old folks’ home!!! I was sold right there.

labrynthLabrynth Lost by Zoraida Cordova (September 6, 2016):

Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

I fall to my knees. Shattered glass, melted candles and the outline of scorched feathers are all that surround me. Every single person who was in my house – my entire family — is gone.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange markings on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…

Beautiful Creatures meets Daughter of Smoke and Bone with an infusion of Latin American tradition in this highly original fantasy adventure.

Patti says:  “Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.” <– how’s that for an opener?  I love the idea of magic that backfires, and also the “in between” scares the crap out of me. We got to meet this author and she was so lovely and I might be a little in love with her 😉

DAD cov 3_2 3_3_16.inddDancers After Dark by Jordan Matter (October 18, 2016):

Dancers After Dark is an amazing celebration of the human body and the human spirit, as dancers, photographed nude and at night, strike poses of fearless beauty.

Without a permit or a plan, Jordan Matter led hundreds of the most exciting dancers in the world out of their comfort zones—not to mention their clothes—to explore the most compelling reaches of beauty and the human form. After all the risk and daring, the result is extraordinary: 300 dancers, 400 locations, more than 150 daring photographs. No clothes. No arrests. No regrets.

Each image highlights the amazing abilities of these artists—and presents a core message to the reader: Say yes. Embrace the risks and opportunities that life presents.

Patti says:  This is just cool. More of a coffee-table book but still… just so cool. It’s easy to forget how beautiful the human body is and this book is a wonderful reminder.

The Continent by Keira Drake (January 3, 2017):

For her sixteenth birthday, Vaela Sun receives the most coveted gift in all the Spire—a trip to the Continent. It seems an unlikely destination for a holiday: a cold, desolate land where two “uncivilized” nations remain perpetually at war. Most citizens tour the Continent to see the spectacle and violence of battle—a thing long vanished in the Spire. For Vaela—a smart and talented apprentice cartographer—it is an opportunity to improve upon the maps she’s drawn of this vast, frozen land.

But an idyllic aerial exploration is not to be had: the realities of war are made clear in a bloody battle seen from the heli-plane during the tour, leaving Vaela forever changed. And when a tragic accident leaves her stranded on the Continent, she has no illusions about the true nature of the danger she faces. Starving, alone, and lost in the middle of a war zone, Vaela must try to find a way home—but first, she must survive.

Patti says:  There was a lot of YA at ALA this year, and for some reason The Continent stood out for me. Sounds like it’s going to be a riveting read.

Life AfterThe Life After by Joshua Hale Fialkov * Gabo (January 28, 2015):

Jude’s life is nothing special. It seems like every day is just a repeat of the last one, until one day, he meets a woman and can suddenly see into her past — revealing that he is actually in Purgatory for suicides. Now that he’s awake, he and the legendary Ernest Hemingway are on the path to change things in the afterlife for the better. Of course, that might not sit very well with the bigwigs down below or up above. Can just a few people change the course of billions of souls? Collects the first five issues of the ongoing series.

Patti says:  I honestly surprised myself with how much I enjoyed the Graphic Novel aisle at ALA. The rep brought this one to my attention as one he really liked and after reading the blurb and talking with him, I had to agree it sounds promising – hanging out with Earnest Hemingway in the afterlife? I love it!

Of course I couldn’t pick only 10 books!  Here are two more that speak to me on a personal level:

poetry protestOf Poetry and Protest by Phil Cushway and Michael Warr (June 21, 2016):

Included in this extraordinary volume are the poems of 43 of America’s most talented African American wordsmiths, including Pulitzer Prize–winning poets Rita Dove, Natasha Tretheway, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Tracy K. Smith, as well as the work of other luminaries such as Elizabeth Alexander, Ishmael Reed, and Sonia Sanchez. Included are poems such as “No Wound of Exit” by Patricia Smith, “We Are Not Responsible” by Harryette Mullen, and “Poem for My Father” by Quincy Troupe. Each is accompanied by a photograph of the poet along with a first-person biography. The anthology also contains personal essays on race such as “The Talk” by Jeannine Amber and works by Harry Belafonte, Amiri Baraka, and The Reverend Dr. William Barber II, architect of the Moral Mondays movement, as well as images and iconic political posters of the Black Lives Matter movement, Malcolm X, and the Black Panther Party. Taken together, Of Poetry and Protest gives voice to the current conversation about race in America while also providing historical and cultural context. It serves as an excellent introduction to African American poetry and is a must-have for every reader committed to social justice and racial harmony.

Patti says:  Poetry about social justice, civil rights, essays on race in America – I think that Of Poetry and Protest is going to touch many people, including myself, in many ways. And I think that’s a good thing.



drowned cityDrowned City: Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans by Don Brown (August 4, 2015):

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina’s monstrous winds and surging water overwhelmed the protective levees around low-lying New Orleans, Louisiana. Eighty percent of the city flooded, in some places under twenty feet of water. Property damages across the Gulf Coast topped $100 billion. One thousand eight hundred and thirty-three people lost their lives. The tale of this historic storm and the drowning of an American city is one of selflessness, heroism, and courage—and also of incompetence, racism, and criminality.

Patti says:  I think many of you know that Rachel and I are in New Orleans and when I saw the author was going to be signing copies of Drowned City, I knew I had to postpone my trip home from ALA to meet him.  I have not had a chance to read the book yet but am always curious to see how the city and the people of New Orleans are portrayed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. (I cannot believe it’s already been 11 years.)

So, what upcoming books are you excited about?


  1. Midnyte Reader

    Okay, I’m adding several of these to my list…the scary ones of course! And also, of course, the one about NOLA!!! As an amateur photographer, I would love to see the ones about the dancers at night as well.

  2. Grace Fonseca

    Seems like you got some great books and discoveries at ALA. It sounds like you had a great time. I hope you get to attend more. It’s always fun to attend a conference like this as well.

    • Patti

      It was a lot of fun! Would love to do BEA sometime but ALA I think is much more low-key and I hope to do it again.

  3. Lizzy

    Ahhhh Caravel looks amazing! Want. So. Bad.

    • Patti

      I’m so excited that not only did I get a copy but I got to meet the author!

  4. Hannah

    I’m so glad we hit the graphic novel section! I have never given much interest to GNs but boy howdy, I’m hooked now. We make perfect road dawgs and I think ALA 2017 is going to have to happen.

    • Patti