I’m very pleased to kick off the 2015 Morris Award blog tour, celebrating the best in YA debuts. I had the pleasure of reading all five finalists and I’ll talk a little about them below. I’ll also offer a giveaway set of all 5 Morris finalists!
Over the course of the blog tour, bloggers will highlight each of the five finalists with reviews, guest posts, and author Q&A’s leading up to the award ceremony on Feb. 2. All five finalists this year are from indie presses, so you may not have seen them in your local bookstore but they are definitely worth seeking out. These are all very different stories (they feature a girl with wings, a burned punk rocker, a poet trying to put the pieces of her life together, a dragon slayer, and a grunge fan in Ireland) but they are all very relatable.
About the Award:
The William C. Morris YA Debut Award, first awarded in 2009, honors a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature. The award’s namesake is William C. Morris, an influential innovator in the publishing world and an advocate for marketing books for children and young adults. Bill Morris left an impressive mark on the field of children’s and young adult literature. He was beloved in the publishing field and the library profession for his generosity and marvelous enthusiasm for promoting literature for children and teens.
The 2015 Morris finalists are:
The Carnival at Bray written by Jessie Ann Foley, published by Elephant Rock Books – Maggie moves with her family from Chicago to Ireland when her mother remarries and misses her beloved uncle desperately. It’s 1993 and the height of grunge, and though Maggie has few friends she has music to keep her company, and Eoin a new crush. Circumstances lead Maggie and Eoin to take a music pilgrimage to a historic Nirvana concert. It’s an addictive, passionate read. Read more of my review here.
The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim written by E.K. Johnston, published by Carolrhoda Lab™, a division of Lerner Publishing Group – I usually see dragons in a book description and run for the hills, but this contemporary fantasy read about a dragon slayer changed my mind. Owen is set in a realistic world (albeit with dragons) where humans and dragons thirst for fossil fuels. In this alternate history the dragon attacks leave their imprint on famous works of music, literature and sports. It’s up to dragon-slayer-in-training Owen and his bard Siobhan to try to change the world. A unique, witty adventure! Full review to come later this week.
Gabi, a Girl in Pieces written by Isabel Quintero, published by Cinco Puntos Press – Gabi’s dealing with a lot in her life including a drug addict father, a mother who wants her to stay a virgin, body image, culture, college applications, poetry, friendship, and love. The reader learns Gabi’s story through journal entries where Gabi works through all the pieces of her life. Gabi’s so relatable and her honesty, cheeky personality, and self-deprecating humor are so refreshing. Gabi is edgy, fresh and authentic. Read more of my review here.
The Scar Boys written by Len Vlahos, published by Egmont Publishing – In The Scar Boys, a burn victim finds solace in a punk rock band. Harry recounts his experiences being a target of bullies and the aftermath of the attack that left him scarred. He attempts to put his life into words in a 250-word college essay, but finds he has a lot more to say. The Scar Boys is an emotional and satisfying read that celebrates the power of music, acceptance and individuality. Read more of my review here.
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender written by Leslye Walton, published by Candlewick Press – Ava is a girl born with wings- she’s hidden away by her mother Viviane but longs to be an everyday girl. At sixteen, she gets to spread her wings, so to speak, and get a taste of typical teenage life with her friend Cardigan. Ava’s story is set in Seattle in around 1960, though the story has a timeless quality to it. This debut is an atmospheric and magical read that’s darkly beautiful and complex, yet accessible. Read more of my review here.
Edited to add: Congrats to Isabel Quintero for her win for Gabi, a Girl in Pieces! Yay for Gabi and for all the finalists!
Enter to win a set of all 5 books!
One winner will receive:
A print copy of all 5 Morris finalists.
Giveaway open to US entrants age 13 and open.
Books provided by the publishers (thank you!) and will be mailed by The Reading Date
Winner will be notified on Feb. 2
Thanks to Cinco Puntos Press for organizing this blog tour – follow their site for all the latest tour information.