Tag: young adult literature

ALA Recap! (Part I) Annual Convention 2015: San Francisco


The Illuminae Stairs!

Sit back and imagine. A visit to San Francisco. Sunny weather. Books. ARCs. Authors you love. Librarians. Blogging friends. Crepes. Blue Bottle Coffee.

It’s the perfect vacation, right? That’s what I thought! Welcome to my American Library Association Annual Convention 2015 recap!IMG_7651

ALA was fantastic! Traveling to San Francisco, meeting blogger friends, chatting with publicists, and meeting authors made it an absolutely wonderful extended weekend. I’m so glad I took the time to drive to San Francisco and see what the whole ALA Annual Convention experience was all about.

I’m going to have to divide up this recap into several parts because there’s just too much to talk about. First, let’s talk about those BOOKS and AUTHOR SIGNINGS!

Learning the Ropes of ALA & Author Signings:

I’d never been to ALA or BEA before, so this was a real treat visiting the booths of major publishers of children’s, young adult, and adult literature, as well as some of the smaller and independent ones. Saturday morning, some of us book bloggers were hanging out together near the front of the crowd, ready to go, and when those security guards stepped aside, we stormed them! Just kidding—we actually didn’t—but we did walk pretty quickly to the Bloomsbury booth, which ended up being a little too crowded so we sauntered down to Disney instead. At the Disney Booth, the publicists were extremely friendly, and though I was disappointed they didn’t have ARCs of Passenger, they did have some other titles that were on my list! Over the three days, these are the titles I acquired from Disney. Many thanks to their awesome publicists!!


Titles include: A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston, Black Widow by Margaret Stohl, Spinning Starlight by R.C. Lewis, Hunter by Mercedes Lackey, Out of Abation: The Wooden Prince by John Claude Bemis, Starflight by Melissa Landers, Hook’s Revenge: The Pirate Code by Heidi Schulz, Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty, and Odd Aquaticum by Alistair Grim.

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The Harper booth became a place all of us book bloggers frequented often! Of course, Saturday morning included the RAE CARSON SIGNING and you know that this was one of the very events I attended ALA for. I was too star struck to get a photo but it was utterly fabulous to meet Rae, and have her sign my ARC of WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER. I’m happy to say I will gladly attend more book events where she’s signing and/or speaking.

Over the the next three days of the event, we returned to the Harper Booth for either signings or to chat with publicists about certain titles. I’m happy to say that I returned with a wonderful selection of books I’m super excited about reading and reviewing for the fall. Two titles that I had been hoping I would nab included A MADNESS SO DISCREET by Mindy McGinnis and THIS MONSTROUS THING by Mackenzie Lee.


There were two sides to the exhibit hall at Moscone and so we would hop back and forth for signings or for just browsing and chatting with people. Sometimes we stayed together in a group and sometimes we went our own separate ways.

That’s the beauty of ALA—you can always meet again later for lunch or coffee, or rendezvous for an author signing…such as the Leigh Bardugo Six of Crows signing on Saturday afternoon! That line was insanely long, but we managed to be near the beginning as we showed up pretty early. I had never seen Leigh before, and it was a joy to meet her and have her sign my ARC of Six of Crows. I am very excited about this one!


How can I not tell you about meeting Ann M. Martin, one of my favorite childhood authors, the beloved writer of THE BABYSITTER’S CLUB!?!?! Yes, she was at ALA signing several books, including RAIN, REIGN and also THE BABYSITTER’S CLUB Graphic Novel. I had seen her speak for the first time last fall at the Boston Book Festival, but this was the first time I actually met her in person, and it was FANTASTIC!! I think I read every single one of The Babysitter’s Club books as they were coming out, all of the Super Specials, and all of the Mystery editions as well.

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Since two of my favorites books (I have taught both of them in my college level Children’s Literature course) are the graphic novels of Brian Selznick, you can imagine I was pretty excited for the signing in the Scholastic Booth on Sunday. I showed up pretty early because I knew that line was going to be long. I had with me my hardback copy of THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET and I was given an ARC of THE MARVELS. It is AMAZING!! And Brian signed both my books. I also got to tell him about an article I wrote about Hugo Cabret that appeared in an issue of Bookbird, and so I was happy about that. I knew that someone with that level of talent and imagination just had to be a fabulous person, and I could tell he is! I have a few photos to share with you. The first photo is a bit blurry–sorry about that!

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Of course, I can’t end Part I of this recap without telling you how amazing it was to meet Anthony Doerr, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE! I adore this book, and when I discovered that Anthony would be there signing finished hard copies, I was beyond excited. Sydney and Vanessa were awesome enough to get in line early, and I joined them soon after. The line grew to around 300 people and then they cut it off. Thankfully we were not too far back, so we didn’t have to wait a terribly long time, though we didn’t mind. Anthony spoke to each person and gave them a personalized signature! I chatted with him about being left-handed (I noticed he was) and I don’t think I’ll ever forget meeting this kind and sensitive author. I’m definitely due for a re-read of the novel. If you haven’t read it, get to your calendar/planner now, and plan to read this amazing book!


That’s all for Part I of my recap. Stay tuned for Part II, with topics ranging from the bookish friends I met in San Francisco to more books I picked up to other fun adventures!!



What Katie Read

Last Ten Books That Came into My Possession: Top Ten Tuesday

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This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is both easy and difficult. Easy because we just think about the last ten books we acquired and BAM, there’s our Top Ten Tuesday. Difficult because I’ve acquired a lot of books very recently because of ALA so I have to pick and choose.

But no fear! I have a selection for you–a mixture of library books, ARCs for review, and a few finished copies I picked up at ALA.

As usual, this weekly meme is hosted by The Broke and Bookish. Be sure to link up each week so we can visit your Top Ten!

the truth according to us

THE TRUTH ACCORDING TO US [Signed hard copy from ALA!]


THE WOLF WILDER [For review]


OVERBOARD [From Elizabeth Fama!]

princess juniper



RIDERS [Review Copy from ALA]


EVERY LAST WORD [Signed Copy from ALA]

World after




big little lies



CONVICTION [Signed Copy at ALA!]

Needless to say, I have a lot of wonderful reading ahead of me. Later this week I’ll be sharing my ALA recap so get ready!

What’s on your Top Ten Tuesday this week?

What Katie Read

Mini Review: The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly (2015) by Stephanie Oakes

Mini Review: The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly (2015) by Stephanie OakesThe Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes
Published by Penguin on June 9th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Social Issues, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Physical & Emotional Abuse, Religious
Pages: 400

A hard-hitting and hopeful story about the dangers of blind faith—and the power of having faith in yourself The Kevinian cult has taken everything from seventeen-year-old Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, her ability to trust. And when she rebelled, they took away her hands, too. Now their Prophet has been murdered and their camp set aflame, and it's clear that Minnow knows something—but she's not talking. As she languishes in juvenile detention, she struggles to un-learn everything she has been taught to believe, adjusting to a life behind bars and recounting the events that led up to her incarceration. But when an FBI detective approaches her about making a deal, Minnow sees she can have the freedom she always dreamed of—if she’s willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past.Gorgeously written, breathlessly page-turning and sprinkled with moments of unexpected humor, this harrowing debut is perfect for readers of Emily Murdoch's If You Find Me and Nova Ren Suma's The Walls Around Us, as well as for fans of Orange is the New Black.From the Hardcover edition.

This book is definitely one of my favorite reads for 2015 so far. It’s a gripping story about seventeen year-old Minnow Bly who has just emerged from a cult in the woods—the Kevinian cult (named after the Prophet who founded it, Kevin).

Minnow is in a juvenile detention center for attacking a boy she encountered after she left the cult. However, she is one of the only people who knows how the Prophet died and what happened that last night in the community (which burned to the ground).

That’s why an FBI agent begins visiting her, in an attempt to piece together what happened. But will Minnow reveal anything? That’s a question readers will be wondering about throughout the narrative, a story that is compelling, beautiful, and tragic, but ultimately hopeful. 

I read a huge chunk of this book on a plane journey, and it’s the perfect book for a long road or plane trip because you will want to keep reading in an attempt to find out what happened that last night with the community of the Kevinian cult.

A few things I loved about this book:

Stephanie Oakes, the Wordsmith: The prose of this novel is gorgeous! It’s no surprise to me that the author has an MFA in Poetry—you may find yourself re-reading passages, reflecting symbolic language that features gaps where meaning can be mined. Trust me—there are so many passages in this book you’ll want to highlight and return to later.

The Spirituality: So, it makes sense that a book focusing on a girl emerging from a cult would feature talk about spirituality and religion. It’s clear that the cult Minnow’s family was a part of was abusive and terrible in so many ways (let’s not talk about Minnow’s hands getting cut off—don’t get me started!) but that doesn’t mean that Minnow stops wondering about the existence of God and who made the stars and how God works. There are multiple points in the story where Minnow is talking to others or thinking about the big questions of meaning so many of us don’t ask or think about often enough.

The Hope: There are a lot of dark and sad events in this book—I won’t lie. That includes events that happen prior to the beginning of the book, and are featured through flashbacks of Minnow. Some majorly intense happenings took place within the cult community, and it might make you really mad. But in spite of the twisted beliefs and actions of those in the Kevinian cult, Minnow still manages to keep an open mind, and an underlying hope (as much as it sometimes doesn’t seem like she does). Minnow is coming to grips with the fact that the world may not look the way “The Prophet” said it did. God may be different than who he was constructed to be within the cult. Without giving too much away, I’ll just say that the narrative is seeped in hope, even in the midst of some very difficult circumstances for Minnow and others.

Quotes I Loved

“Everybody around me was in pain, I realize now, but none of them ever poured it out of themselves into another person. Jude taught me what love was: to be willing to hold on to another person’s pain. That’s it.”

“We have to be happy to keep searching and not knowing all the time.”

“If it’s possible to have a soul, mine was steel-plated and invincible that night, and I think that’s what love does, makes you strong. Makes you think nothing can bring you down.”

This books get all the stars—a solid 5. I’ve already recommended it to multiple readers, but what about you? Did you read Minnow Bly’s story? What did you think?
What Katie Read
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