Saturday, 22 August 2015

Make Mine an Indie: Alma Books

This week I am running A Way into YA here on the blog; a series of guest posts on where to start with young adult literature, and to tie in with that I thought I'd try to make the Make Mine an Indie posts bookending the week focus on publishers who have produced some quality YA titles.


I've known about Alma Books for a while, primarily because they're based in Richmond, the area I grew up in, but also because they sent me Sketcher by Roland Watson - Grant a while ago and I didn't finish it for which I heartily apologise because it was great and I am going to finish it pretty much as soon as I get home. It's next, I promise. 

The thing I like most about Alma is their tagline - 'A Publisher with a Soul'. For me the ideas of joy, love, passion and soul are the most associated with reading and I think this has to remain the case if we are to keep the love of books and reading alive in society today so I'm excited to keep discovering publishers and booksellers who seem to share this idea! 

This is directly from the About section of Alma's website, but honestly I don't think I could have written it better myself. Head here to find out more about them!

Alma – which is Spanish for “soul” – is a publisher that regards a book as an aesthetic artefact rather than as a mass-produced commodity. The company’s whole emphasis lies on quality over quantity, all the way from choosing projects for publication to creating the physical look and feel of each volume. Alma works intimately with authors and translators to develop the best possible finished scripts, and displays a passionate commitment to the kind of professional editing, copy-editing and proofreading that is dying out elsewhere.

They publish a multitude of different things as well as a heavy amount of translated fiction and non-fiction titles. During my research I'm finding it difficult to discover many independent publishers whose main focus is YA, but a few of Alma's titles really intrigued me leading to me choosing to feature them today. There are many other titles in their catalogue that I'm excited by, but for the purposes of this week I'm going to just focus on the YA.

Some things I'm excited to read:

Sketcher by Roland Watson- Grant

From the Alma Books website:

SketcherNine-year-old “Skid” Beaumont’s family is stuck in the mud. Following his father’s decision to relocate and build a new home, based on a drunken vision that New Orleans would rapidly expand eastwards into the wetlands as a result of the Seventies oil boom, Skid and his brothers grow up in a swampy area of Louisiana. But the constructions stop short, the dream fizzles out, and the Beaumonts find themselves sinking in a soggy corner of 1980s Cold War America. As things on the home front get more complicated, Skid learns of his mother’s alleged magic powers and vaguely remembers some eerie stories surrounding his elder brother Frico.

These, as well as early events that Skid saw with his own eyes, convince him that Frico has a gift to fix things by simply sketching them. For the next few years, Skid’s self-appointed mission to convince his brother to join him in his lofty plan to change their family’s luck and the world they live in will lead to even more mystery and high drama in the swamp. Atmospheric, uplifting and deeply moving, Sketcher – Roland Watson-Grant’s stunning debut – is a novel about the beauty of life no matter how broken it is.

Skid by Roland Watson - Grant

From the Alma Books website:

SkidHaving left the Louisiana swamp behind, the Beaumonts are finding it hard to settle into the big city. As he unpacks the boxes after their move to Eastern New Orleans, the now sixteen-year old Skid finds a diary which had belonged to his older brother Frico. Among various other family secrets that emerge from this discovery is the startling revelation that “Skid” is a hoodoo word of ominous significance. This throws Skid’s mind into turmoil and prompts him to launch into a quest for the real meaning of his name and the very foundations of his own being, an adventure which will pit him against his own brother and lead him to encounter Claire, a mysterious girl who seems to hold the answers to some of his questions.

Heart-warming, funny and poignant, Skid – the second volume in Roland Watson-Grant’s Trilogy of the Swamp after the critically acclaimed Sketcher – continues the exploration of a young man’s coming of age in today’s broken world.

Madame Tussaud's Apprentice by Kathleen Benner Duble

From the Alma Books website:

Madame Tussaud’s ApprenticeCélie Rosseau is a talented young artist who, along with her partner Algernon, resorts to petty thieving on the streets of Paris to survive. It is 1789: rumours of rebellion against the monarchy are starting to spread in the capital, and the two of them get involved in the idealistic revolutionary fervour. But when she is caught stealing from the brother of the King himself, Célie is saved only thanks to her drawing skills and the intercession of Marie Tussaud, the famous waxworks artist and a favourite at the French court, who decides to employ her.

Suddenly Célie finds herself whisked away from the tumult of Paris to the safety and opulence of Versailles. This raises a difficult moral dilemma for the young lady who had until recently dreamt of overthrowing the very people who now treat her with kindness: should she compromise her ideals and risk losing Algernon – the man she loves – or should she stay true to the cause of the poor and the revolution?

Caramel Hearts by Elizabeth Rose Murray

From the Alma Books website:

Caramel HeartsLiv Bloom’s life is even more complicated than that of your average fourteen-year-old: her father walked out on the family when she was young, her mother is in a recovery centre for alcoholics, and her older sister is struggling to step into Mum’s shoes. The only person she can turn to is her best friend Sarah, who gets out of scrapes at school and is a constant source of advice and companionship. One day Liv discovers a book of recipes written in her mum’s handwriting, which sets her off on a journey towards self-discovery and reconciliation – but a theft, a love rivalry and a school bully are just some of the many obstacles on the way.

Structured around real cake recipes, Caramel Hearts is a coming-of-age novel about love, disappointment and hope, and discovering the true value of friends and family, no matter how dysfunctional they are.

The last one sounds particularly exciting! Alma also publish a gorgeous range of Classics, check out their website to see their Autumn catalogue.

You can find Alma Books online at 

The Make Mine an Indie series so far:

And Other Stories
Atlantic Books
Nobrow Press

Be sure to follow throughout the week for some brilliant guest posts full of Young Adult recommendations from across the genres!

I'm also still in search of lovely donations for a big YA giveaway at the end of the week! If you'd like to donate a book (can be preloved or new) or bookish gift type things please fill in this form

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