What do You Think of the 2016 BEA Buzz Books?

Not sure if I'll make it to BEA this year. It's in Chicago (*sadface*) but that's great for all you Midwesterners. Hope you'll tell me all about it. But I may show up... who knows?

In any case, every year I'm excited to check out the BEA Buzz Books.  These are books selected as the ones "expected to resonate with readers." So how about we check the YA selections out and see if the descriptions resonate with us?

Thieving Weasels
by Billy Taylor
To be published by Dial BFYR
on August 23, 2016

Summary from Goodreads: Cameron Smith attends an elite boarding school and has just been accepted to Princeton University alongside his beautiful girlfriend, Claire. Life for Cameron would be perfect, except that Cameron Smith is actually Skip O’Rourke, and Skip O’Rourke ran away from his grifter family four years ago…along with $100,000 of their “earnings” (because starting a new life is not cheap). But when his uncle Wonderful tracks him down, Skip’s given an ultimatum: come back to the family for one last con, or say good-bye to life as Cameron. “One last con” is easier said than done when Skip’s family is just as merciless (and just as manipulative) as they’ve always been, and everyone around him is lying. Skip may have given up on crime, but there’s one lesson he hasn’t forgotten: always know your mark. And if you don’t know who your mark is . . . it’s probably you.
The pitch: "Winger meets Ocean's Eleven"

My take: Is it me, or does this kind of scream "guy book?" And yet, I could definitely get behind this concept. I love the Heist Society books and this seems to have that kind of vibe. Then again, this kind of book could go very Risky Business (maybe it's Princeton reference and is it me or on the cover does Cameron have a Joel vibe?) Is his "beautiful girlfriend Claire" just a pretty arm piece, or does she play a major role in the book? I'd be up for giving this a try...

by Stephanie Garber
To be published by Flatiron Books
on August 30, 2016

Summary from Goodreads: 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...
The pitch: "Night Circus meets Lunar Chronicles"

My take: Confession: I'm the outlier who DNF'd Night Circus. First I tried the book, then I tried the audiobook ... but I just wasn't feeling it. I did like Lunar Chronicles, but somehow the description above is giving me a "Night Circus meets Cirque du Soleil" vibe (and I'm also the weird person who is super creeped-out by Cirque du Soleil. I saw it once in Vegas and it just didn't get the appeal.) So this may not be a "me" book. On the other hand, I have liked other YA books with an offbeat vibe, like the Masque of the Red Death duology. I could be persuaded to try this if early review are positive.

by Aaron Starmer
To be published by Dutton Books for Young Readers
on August 30, 2016

Summary from Goodreads: Students are exploding at Covington High School. In this black comedy, one spontaneous combustion is an anomaly, two is coincidence, and three marks a pattern.
My take: Well, that description is not much to chew on, is it? And ... exploding students? In my experience as a YA reader and reviewer, black comedy in YA is often widely misunderstood and much maligned by readers. Yet I have found great YA black comedy gems: Drain You, Noggin, and Anatomy of a Misfit. But I'm not sure if the wider YA reading community agreed with me on those titles.
P.S. Look forward to seeing the cover. Will there be exploding people?

NOTE FROM 2023: this one ended up with a 3.33 Goodreads rating, so I guess I was right.

Stalking Jack the Ripper
by Kerri Maniscalco
To be published by Jimmy Patterson
on September 20, 2016

Summary from Goodreads: Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord's daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life. Against her stern father's wishes and society's expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle's laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

My take: YA has had its fair share of Jack the Ripper stories (Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, Ripper by Stefan Petrucha, and Ripper by Amy Reeves ) and serial killer stories ( I did a whole post about this here).  And we've seen plenty of YA books that mix historical fiction and horror. So while I'm getting a bit of a been-there-done-that vibe, I'm willing to give this a chance.


Rani Patel In Full Effect
Sonia Patel
To be published by Cinco Puntos Press
on  October 20, 2016

Summary from Goodreads: When Rani’s father leaves her mother for another woman, Rani shaves her head in mourning. This act of rebellion propels her onto the stage as a hip-hop performer and into a romantic relationship with an older man. Losing herself just as she finds herself, Rani discovers her need to speak out against those who would silence her—no matter the danger.

My take: I'd love to see more YA books that feature a diverse character as the lead, not the sidekick, so that's a huge plus. I'm just wondering just how old the "older man" in question is. Are we talking a college student, or are we talking "daddy issues?"  Still, I'll definitely give this one a try!

So, that's the round up. Please tell me in comments which of these books you're excited about!


  1. Exploding students?? lol

    All I can think of when I see the first book is Chuck Bass from Gossip Girl O_o

    I'm not going to BEA this year but I'll be at ALA since it's in Orlando. Do you think you would go to that?

    Karen @For What It's Worth

  2. As a Chicagoan, I am stupid excited for BEA. But I had no idea that these were they books they were pushing. After reading the synopsis I'm pretty "meh" about all of them.

    1. I'm so excited for you!!! And these aren't the only books that will be featured or pushed, not by a long shot. Every year, a handful of titles are selected to be featured at a special Buzz panel - there's a YA Buzz panel and an adult one, and maybe even middle grade....

  3. None of those books are really appealing to me. I am planning to attend BEA though. I am so excited it's in Chicago because that's only 2 hours away. :)

    1. Yay! Can't wait to hear how much fun you have. Now you guys are making me reconsider attending because I'd love to meet you :)

  4. So I've never even HEARD of any of these except for Caraval! :O But i'm intrigued about them. XD Particularly the first one (though I think the cover is tacky, hahhe) but I do so love heist and con artist books. Anyway, off to Goodreads to add some of these. XD

  5. These books are new to me. I'd planned on going to BEA (tickets bought, hotel booked), but now, I'm not sure. Thanks for putting these books on my radar. Sure are an eclectic bunch.

  6. I've never heard about these books, and most of them don't even have a cover yet, so it's hard to judge them. I know I'm not particularly interested in the first one, but we'll see.

    Anatea | Anatea's Bookshelf

  7. I really can get enough of horror historical fiction or creepy thriller books. they are some of my absolute favorites. They all sound good except for the last one... the older guy makes me wonder too.

  8. I have never been but I love seeing blogs after the fact so I can live vicariously through them :)

  9. I actually wanna read Thieving Weasels, I also loved Heist Society and it sounds pretty fun! Caraval sounds really good too, and Spontaneous sounds... weirdly interesting haha


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