Books, Sneak Peek Weekends

January* Sneak Peek Weekends #2

*I’ve titled these under January instead of February in reference to the novels’ release dates, as it’s easiest to get a full round-up of the latest books at the end of every month.

After the Fall

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It’s entirely possible Matt can see up my shorts.

Author: Kate Hart

Publisher: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux (Macmillan)

Published: January 24, 2017

For People Who Liked: Louise O’Neill’s Asking For It, The Girl on the Train

Target Audience: Readers who like gritty plots addressing rumours, sexuality, and sexual assault.

If I were an agent/acquisitions editor, would I select this for publication based on the opening chapter?:

Based on that opening sentence (quoted above) alone, I personally wouldn’t. I can tell Hart is already  trying to set a specific tone to make a point, but it’s more likely to chase me off than reel me in. Within the first chapter, there’s clearly something going on involving a love triangle, and none of these characters are particularly engaging or likeable, so I can’t say why I should be interested…

From what I know of the plot based on the synopsis, the story’s supposed to focus around a specific discourse addressing serious issues in terms of sexist double standards teen girls face, but whether she addresses it well remains to be seen. If you want something bold and hard-hitting in terms of social justice writing in the name of sexist double standards, try Asking for It by Louise O’Neill instead.

Allegedly

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Some children are just born bad, plain and simple. These are the children that don’t live up to the statistics. One cannot blame their surroundings or upbringings for their behaviour. It’s not a scientifically proven inheritable trait. These children are sociological phenomena.

Author: Tiffany D. Jackson

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins Children’s)

Published: January 24, 2017

For People Who Liked: Girl, Interrupted; Orange is the New Black, Gone Girl 

Target Audience: Readers looking for diverse characters, particularly women and girls of colour. For people wanting to raise awareness of racism within the American justice system in the media, people who like mysteries, or Law and Order procedural-type plots.

Would I select this for publication based on the opening chapter?:

I don’t know if it’s immediately obvious that this is going to be a gripping story from the first pages, but the strong synopsis says so much about where the plot is going to go it’s hard not to at least be curious. For those unaware, the story follows a young black girl thrown into the criminal system as a child for murdering a white baby left in her care. That’s the exact sort of twist that makes me sit up and take notice.

Tiffany D. Jackson is a woman of colour writing about the POC experience of racism in modern America, so I think it’s safe to trust that she’s going to speak accurately toward this particular discourse.  With this in mind, I’m going to assume the dialogue is language she’s familiar with and not simply stereotyping. As a white girl, I honestly have no frame of reference to tell me one way or the other, and I feel as though it’s not my place to judge. Regardless, by the first chapter, I was hooked and the first 20 pages breezed by without my notice.

I’ve heard rave reviews about this one and nothing but good things all around, so I would definitely recommend!

Sneak Peek Weekends

January Sneak Peek Weekends #1

 

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

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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

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Home

Four letters,

one silent.

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.