Books to Look Out For (January 2018)

2017 is nearly over, and what a year it’s been for books! But don’t despair — 2018 promises to be just as exciting for all of us readers. Below are just ten of the 2018 releases that I’m looking forward to, all of them hitting shelves in the next month alone! Take a look — and get excited!

. . .

Books to Look Out For: January 2, 2018 — January 30, 2018

FENWAY AND HATTIE UP TO NEW TRICKS, by Victoria J. Coe — January 2, 2017

fenway and hattie 3.jpg

What it’s about:

Fenway’s life is pretty great, except for the strange stripey chipmunks that have suddenly appeared in the Dog Park behind his house. He’s determined to catch them, but one of their hiding places contains some stinging insects. Ouch! Fenway thinks he can take care of this injury himself, but his humans don’t let him. They take him to the Place of Fear and then Hattie doesn’t even help him take off the Cone of Doom!

Fenway never would have expected Hattie to do these things to him. Doesn’t she love him anymore? But even though his family is acting weird, Fenway is determined do whatever it takes to make them all happy again.

Why I want to read it:

The previous two FENWAY AND HATTIE books have been utter joys. As far as I’m concerned, there can’t be enough of these hilarious, heartwarming adventures. Keep ’em coming, Victoria!

Visit Victoria here to learn more about her and her books.

HELLO, DOOR, written by Alastair Heim, illustrations by Alisa Coburn — January 2, 2018

hello, door

What it’s about:

In Hello, Door, kids can follow a thieving fox as he greets everything he sees in a home that isn’t his.

Hello, door.

          Hello, house.

                    Hello, mat.

                              Hello, mouse!

In this ode to the classic “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” story, kids can follow a thieving fox as he greets everything he sees in a home that isn’t his. He collects fine art and jewelry, practices his golf swing, and devours a tasty snack along the way. But just when he thinks he’s in the clear to leave with all the goods, the owners of the house—a mama bear, papa bear, and baby bear—come home. They chase him through the house, and when the mama bear catches him, she promptly throws him out. But she throws him so far that he ends up in a much nicer neighborhood—in front of a mansion, in fact—where he can begin his mischievous adventure again!

Why I want to read it:

All of Alastair’s picture books are a delight, and his last collaboration with Alisa — 2016’s LOVE YOU TOO — quickly became one of my all-time favorites. I’d be looking forward to anything this dynamic duo teamed up on.

Visit Alastair here to learn more about him and his books. And visit Alisa here to learn more about her and her work.

WINTERHOUSE, by Ben Guterson, illustrations by Chloe Bristol — January 2, 2018


What it’s about:

Orphan Elizabeth Somers’s malevolent aunt and uncle ship her off to the ominous Winterhouse Hotel, owned by the peculiar Norbridge Falls. Upon arrival, Elizabeth quickly discovers that Winterhouse has many charms―most notably its massive library. It’s not long before she locates a magical book of puzzles that will unlock a mystery involving Norbridge and his sinister family. But the deeper she delves into the hotel’s secrets, the more Elizabeth starts to realize that she is somehow connected to Winterhouse. As fate would have it, Elizabeth is the only person who can break the hotel’s curse and solve the mystery. But will it be at the cost of losing the people she has come to care for, and even Winterhouse itself?

Mystery, adventure, and beautiful writing combine in this exciting debut richly set in a hotel full of secrets.

What people are saying:

“Guterson provides readers a treat: mean caregivers à la the Dursleys; a vast, luxurious hotel where oddities abound; a new word-puzzle-loving friend; a shrouded history for Winterhouse; and sinister circumstances. . . Clever and captivating.” — Kirkus Reviews

Filled with puzzles and magic, Guterson’s debut keeps suspense high as the secrets of Elizabeth’s past unwind. This satisfying mystery leaves just enough unanswered questions to have readers eager for the next book in this planned trilogy.” — Publishers Weekly

Why I want to read it:

A cursed hotel? A mystery involving a peculiar man and his sinister family? A magical book of puzzles? If that’s not a recipe for awesomeness, I don’t know what is.

Visit Ben here to learn more about him and his books. And visit Chloe here to learn more about her and her work.

LOVE SUGAR MAGIC: A DASH OF TROUBLE, by Anna Meriano, illustrations by Mirelle Ortega — January 2, 2018


What it’s about:

Leonora Logroño’s family owns the most beloved bakery in Rose Hill, Texas, spending their days conjuring delicious cookies and cakes for any occasion. And no occasion is more important than the annual Dia de los Muertos festival.

Leo hopes that this might be the year that she gets to help prepare for the big celebration—but, once again, she is told she’s too young. Sneaking out of school and down to the bakery, she discovers that her mother, aunt, and four older sisters have in fact been keeping a big secret: they’re brujas—witches of Mexican ancestry—who pour a little bit of sweet magic into everything that they bake.

Leo knows that she has magical ability as well and is more determined than ever to join the family business—even if she can’t let her mama and hermanas know about it yet.

And when her best friend, Caroline, has a problem that needs solving, Leo has the perfect opportunity to try out her craft. It’s just one little spell, after all…what could possibly go wrong?

Debut author Anna Meriano brings us the first book in a delightful new series filled to the brim with amor, azúcar, y magia.

What people are saying:

“Meriano builds a wonderful contemporary world in small-town Texas, full of diverse characters, where magic feels right at home and muggles will feel equally welcome. A series opener that’s proof that windows and mirrors can be magical ingredients.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Why I want to read it:

One of the only things I love more than eating cookies and cakes is reading about cookies and cakes. Mix in some magic, an ambitious protagonist, and a storyline involving Dia de los Muertos, and you’re sure to have a winner.

Visit Anna here to learn more about her and her books. And visit Mirelle here to learn more about her and her work.

THE UNCANNY EXPRESS (The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters Book 2), by Kara LaReau, illustrated by Jen Hill — January 9, 2018


What it’s about:

Jaundice and Kale are back from their adventure on the high seas, and they are settling back into a quiet life in Dullsville, just the way they like it. The tea is tepid, the oatmeal is tasteless, and the socks are ripe for darning . . . until Aunt Shallot shows up and reveals herself to be anything but the dull relation they were expecting. Instead, she tells her nieces she is Magique, Queen of Magic, and she’s on her way to a big show and in need of two willing assistants. As Magique and the Bland sisters board the Uncanny Express, they meet a cast of mystifying characters. And when Magique goes missing, it’s up to Jaundice and Kale to solve the mystery—with the help of famous detective Hugo Fromage.

An inventive story in the tradition of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient ExpressThe Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters: The Uncanny Express has all the whimsy and humor that readers who are looking for an anything-but-bland adventure will love.

What people are saying:

“LaReau has a lot of fun with her Agatha Christie homage, filling her book to the brim with requisite gags and puns . . . Move over, Holmes and Watson. There’s a new detecting pair in town, and the name’s Bland.” — Kirkus Reviews

Why I want to read it:

A new book by Kara is always something to celebrate. No one can make me laugh hard and think deeply in the space of a single sentence quite like her. The first installment of the Bland Sisters series, THE JOLLY REGINA, was no exception — it’s filled with clever wordplay, loads of fine-tuned sentences, and all kinds of gender norm-upending. Add Jen Hill’s brilliant illustrations, and you’ve got the perfect package. I can’t wait to spend some more time with Jaundice and Kale, and hope the sisters come back soon for a third round of unintentional fun.

Visit Kara here to learn more about her and her books. And visit Jen here to learn more about her and her work.

SPIN THE GOLDEN LIGHT BULB, by Jackie Yeager — January 9, 2018

SPIN THE GOLDEN LIGHT BULB, by Jackie Yeager.jpg

What it’s about:

It’s the year 2071 and eleven year-old Kia Krumpet is determined to build her 67 inventions, but she won’t have the opportunity to unless she earns a spot at PIPS, the Piedmont Inventor’s Prep School. Kia, who has trouble making friends at school, has dreamed of winning the Piedmont Challenge and attending PIPS ever since she learned that her Grandma Kitty won the very first Piedmont Challenge. After she and four of her classmates are selected to compete for a spot at PIPS, they travel by aero-bus to Camp Piedmont to solve a task against forty-nine other state teams to earn their place at the best inventor’s school in the country.

Why I want to read it:

I love reading about tinkerers, and Jackie’s Kia Krumpet sounds like a world-class tinkerer if there ever was one. Add in the drama and excitement of a competition, and I’m hooked.

Visit Jackie here to learn more about her and her books.

SPY TOYS, by Mark Powers, illustrations by Tim Wesson — January 16, 2018

spy toys.jpg

What it’s about:

The world’s leading toy manufacturer gives each toy it creates a tiny, computerized brain and a unique personality making for some seriously awesome toys. But sometimes there’s a faulty toy . . .

Dan is a “Snugliffic Cuddlestar” bear–he should be perfect for hugging. But because of a malfunctioning chip, Dan is so strong he could crush a car. Thrown into the rejects pile, he meets Arabella, a “Loadsasmiles Sunshine” doll, who has a very short temper. Soon Dan, Arabella, and Flax (a custom-made police robot rabbit) are recruited by the head of the toy world exactly for what makes them unfit. And their first mission is a doozy: to protect a senator’s eight-year-old son from being kidnapped.

With black-and-white illustrations throughout, this hilarious book has reluctant reader appeal written all over it.

Why I want to read it:

This series was described to me as Toy Story meets James Bond — and as soon as I heard that, I knew I had to check it out.

Visit Mark here to learn more about him and his books. And visit Tim here to learn more about him and his work.

A PROBLEMATIC PARADOX, by Eliot Sappingfield — January 23, 2018

a problematic paradox.jpg

What it’s about:

Nikola Kross has given up on living in harmony with classmates and exasperated teachers: she prefers dabbling in experimental chemistry to fitting in. But when her life is axially inverted by a gang of extraterrestrials who kidnap her dad and attempt to recruit her into their service, she discovers he’s been keeping a world of secrets from her–including the school for geniuses where she’s sent for refuge, a place where classes like Practical Quantum Mechanics are the norm and where students use wormholes to commute to class. For Nikola, the hard part isn’t school, it’s making friends, especially when the student body isn’t (entirely) human. But the most puzzling paradox of all is Nikola herself, who has certain abilities that no one understands–abilities that put her whole school in greater danger than she could have imagined.

What people are saying:

“Absolute outlandishness, an endless parade of jokes (both sly and knee-slapping), incredibly wacky worldbuilding and characters, and a savvy, refreshing irreverence for the genre. Readers will clamor for more. A glorious cacophony of wildly inventive gadgets, gags, and action.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Nikola’s blunt wit makes for entertaining reading in debut author Sappingfield’s frenetic SF comedy. The school’s fantastical elements are inventive and fun, but it’s Nikola’s longing for friends that forms the heart of the story.” — Publishers Weekly

Why I want to read it:

If I had to pick a favorite genre, it’d be science fiction — but silly science fiction, a la Douglas Adams and Kurt Vonnegut. Why? Because I love to laugh. Because I’m always excited by the inventiveness that science fiction demands. Because I find that, perhaps paradoxically, the sillier an author lets their story become, the deeper it’s able to get. Eliot seems destined to join the ranks of great, silly-yet-deep sci-fi storytellers, and I don’t want to miss a single sentence of it.

Visit Eliot here to learn more about him and his books.

THE PROBLIM CHILDREN, by Natalie Lloyd — January 30, 2017

problim children.jpg

What it’s about:

Filled with mystery, humor, and adventure, the first book in this new trilogy is an unforgettable tale of adventure, family, and finding the courage to face any problem heart-first.

When the Problim children’s ramshackle bungalow in the Swampy Woods goes kaboom, the seven siblings—each born on a different day of the week—have to move into their grandpa’s bizarre old mansion in Lost Cove. No problem! For the Problim children, every problem is a gift!

But rumors about their family run rampant in the small town: tales of a bitter feud, a hidden treasure, and a certain kind of magic lingering in the halls of #7 Main Street. Their neighbors, the O’Pinions, will do anything to find the secrets lurking inside the Problim household—including sending the seven children to seven different houses on seven different continents!

What people are saying:

“With her trademark charm and heavy doses of whimsy, Lloyd spins another heart-warming yarn centered on friendship and family.” — Booklist (starred review)

“Both text and illustrations offer a nod to Roald Dahl’s quirky, juvenile heroes and equally quirky, nasty villains. The distinctive flavor comes both from Lloyd’s witty but succinct word mastery and from her unflagging imagination.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Natalie Lloyd has done it again! A story about family, hidden treasure, a wonderfully mysterious house, and finding your place even when you’re frightened to try, The Problim Children is bursting at the seams with magic, heart, and humor. A sheer, riotous delight.” — Claire Legrand, author of Some Kind of Happiness

“An affectionate ode to the wonders of being a weird kid in a weird family. This book is an utter delight!” — Anne Ursu, author of The Real Boy and Breadcrumbs

“Filled with adventure, mystery, humor, and heart. I couldn’t help but fall in love with the entire Problim family.” — Heidi Schulz, author of Hook’s Revenge

“An absolute gem, delightfully original but with the timeless charm of a favorite classic.” — Dan Gemeinhart, author of The Honest Truth and Some Kind of Courage

Why I want to read it:

No one writes quite like Natalie Lloyd, and each of her previous books offers up a feast of wholly unique wonders and joys. The only thing more exciting than the release of THE PROBLIM CHILDREN is the promise that there’ll be two more books coming after it.

Visit Natalie here to learn more about her and her books.

SMART COOKIE, by Elly Swartz — January 30, 2017

smart cookie

What it’s about:

Sometimes you need to keep a few secrets.

Frankie knows she’ll be in big trouble if Dad discovers she secretly posted a dating profile for him online. But she’s determined to find him a wife, even if she ends up grounded for life. Frankie wants what she had before Mom died. A family of three. Two is a pair of socks or the wheels on a bicycle or a busy weekend at the B&B where Frankie and Dad live. Three is a family. And Frankie’s is missing a piece.

But Operation Mom is harder to pull off than Frankie expects. None of the Possibles are very momish, the B&B’s guests keep canceling, Frankie’s getting the silent treatment from her once best friend, and there’s a maybe-ghost hanging around. Worst of all, Gram and Dad are definitely hiding secrets of their own.

If a smart cookie like Frankie wants to save the B&B and find her missing piece, she’s going to have to figure out what secrets are worth keeping and when it’s time to let go.

What people are saying:

“Frankie is honest and ever hopeful as she narrates her own fast-paced tale of confusions, worries, and headlong lapses of judgment. She is fully accepting of her charmingly eccentric family and friends. All the pieces come together in the end with many surprises . . . Readers will laugh and commiserate and root for Frankie all the way.” — Kirkus Reviews

Why I want to read it:

If you’ve read Elly’s FINDING PERFECT, then you know why I’m looking forward to SMART COOKIE. Elly tackles important issues, and does so with graceful prose that makes you feel big feelings and think deep thoughts. Her latest is sure to be a sweet, thoughtful, heartfelt treat.

Visit Elly here to learn more about her and her books.

. . .

Are you looking forward to a book that I haven’t mentioned? Let me know! That way, I can start looking forward to it, too!

2 thoughts on “Books to Look Out For (January 2018)

  1. Wow, Jarrett, this is an awesome compilation of 2018 book releases! I especially like the *Why I want to read it* sections. You make a convincing case for why we should read, and/or gift) every one of these books. 📚

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