Welcome to the first ever Sneak Peek Weekend! I thought I’d do a quick little explanation why I decided to do sneak peeks for some books, and full reviews for others. It turns out, Canada’s a challenge when it comes to acquiring new releases. Although my hometown’s public library system is amazing, there is always a chance I’ll get stuck in a 50-person long waitlist for books, especially new releases. And the bookstore system isn’t much better. It’s not exactly a case of stopping in at Waterstones and picking up a £5 paperback on a whim as it is in the UK. Here, new releases are only sold in hardcover, and go for anywhere between $20 to $35 a pop and I don’t know how many people are willing to throw down that much money for books they’re going to take less than a week to read… I personally wouldn’t.
Herein lies my fun compromise: every month I stop into a bookshop to browse the past month’s new releases to bring you my first impressions! I’ll be posting two or three books at a time with my expert marketing and editorial opinion to showcase the type of notes a manuscript might get within a publishing house.
Today, I have two stellar contemporaries, one in prose, one in verse!
A List of Cages
There is a room in this school no one knows about but me. If I could teleport, I’d be there now.
Author: Robin Roe
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Published: January 10, 2017
For People Who Liked: Perks of Being a Wallflower, All the Bright Places, We Are the Ants, The Rest of Us Just Live Here, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Target Audience: Teens or family members of teens with mental illness (specifically ADHD), LGBT readers, teenage boys.
If I were an agent/acquisitions editor, would I select this for publication based on the opening chapter?*:
I think I would! For a debut author, the writing is solid, with some nice, well-thought out descriptive language while still maintaining a realistic narration for a high school setting. The protagonist is sympathetic, going through very real high school situations. You immediately feel for and relate to him. Obviously bullying is not a new concept for teen stories, but it’s one that should continue to be portrayed as accurately as possible, because it still is a persistent issue in schools that probably won’t ever go away so long as kids don’t get along.
I don’t know where it’s going based on the opening chapter alone, but the synopsis is definitely intriguing. I’d pick it up to finish in the future and recommend it to teenagers going through similar ordeals.
The You I’ve Never Known
A single syllable
pregnant with meaning.
Author: Ellen Hopkins
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Published: January 24, 2017
For People Who Liked: Sarah Crossan, All the Bright Places, Perks of Being a Wallflower
Target Audience: fans of poetry and novels in verse, LGBT teens, readers looking for ethnic diversity in YA.
Would I select this for publication based on the opening chapter?:
Absolutely without hesitation. I’m not a fan of reading poetry often, but this grabbed me right away. It’s got personality. It’s not a huge info dump, nor is it saying anything too new, but it’s doing it in a unique format. Within the first twenty pages, we get a good sense of diversity, discussions of sexuality, and hints of the protagonist’s broken home. It sounds like a lot, but Hopkins drops these little seeds of shocking details in such subtle ways. If you’re not used to reading poetry, Hopkins presents it in an accessible way, so don’t let that intimidate you!
*Agents and publishers will ask for different things when accepting submissions. Some will accept 15 pages, some, 50. I’ve chosen to read the first 10-20 pages of each novel to get a sense of just how quickly publishers will pass judgement on manuscripts.