Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Cornered: 14 Stories of Bullying and Defiance

Cornered: 14 Stories of Bulling and Defiance edited by Rhoda Belleza
I assumed most of the stories in this collection would feature the bullied.  While there are stories with thebullied as the main character, there is much more.  In The Shift Sticks by Josh Berk,the main character Bryan, was a bystander in elementary school while, Tiffany, another student was being bullied.  Bryan runs into Tiffany,when visiting family in another town.  There was something very real about Bryan and Tiffany voices.  In  How Auto- Tune Saved My Life by Brendan Halpin, students in an elite private school have to contend with a teacher using his position to mock and bully students.  One great lesson learned from this very fun story is that auto tune remixes don't just make songs fun, they can also jazz up a story quite nicely.  In Sweet Sixteen by Zetta Elliott, two very different worlds collide when a teenage prostitute and girl who has grown up on a secluded compound meet.  They have very different experiences,however, both are being used and  each girl has the courage and the desire to survive.

 Along with being well developed, none of the stories are bogged down by lessons to be learned.  Much kudos to Belleza the editor for putting this collection together. The first story is Nemesis by Kirsten Miller. the main character is a former victim turned vigilante.  Followed by On Your Own Level by Sheba Karim. Shabnam the main character, is kissed by a boy at a party, and then is bullied by the girl who likes the boy.  The third story is Berk's. All three were very good and set the tone for this collection.  

Cornered was released in paperback and is only $9.95.
An excerpt

Monday, July 30, 2012

The 1st Post Back is Always The Hardest/August New Releases

I took an unexpected but much needed hiatus. I have enjoyed the extra time but I am trying to get my blogging grove back. Though I have still been reading.  I am almost done with Team Human by Justine Larbalestier & Sarah Rees Brennan. I was bit worried before I started reading it, because I lent it to a friend first and she didn't care for it. But, it is so Good.  I love some of the chapter titles - "Hard Out There For A Vamp" or "Interrogation with the Vampire".  Also there is a bit of a mystery, a serious unexpected bonus.  I loved Geoff Herbach's debut last year Stupid Fast, and I was excited to read the follow up "Nothing Special" but also a little worried because the author set the bar so high with the first one, but Nothing Special is an very good and a must read for all Stupid Fast fans. 

It Jes Happened by Don Tate illus. by R. Gregory Christie is also very good.  It is the story about folk artist Bill Traylor.  A few months back a few months back the High Museum in Atlanta was showing some of Traylor's work, and I was able to go with a friend. I really enjoyed it especially the people Traylor drew and the sharp clothes he put them in.   Tate and Christie had a book signing at the High, but unfortunately I had to work that day so I couldn't go.   

Instead of doing an on sale now post for August, I've decided to simply list the two titles I am aware of now.  I know there are more August releases that fit my criteria of featuring characters of color or having a diverse cast. But truth be told I don't feel like looking for them. Is that wrong? Maybe a little.  But it takes a lot of time, and I should only do it if I want to. I love the search when I am in the mode for it, otherwise it feels like work. So only two this week, though of course I will mention other new releases when they are brought to my attention. 

August New Releases
Fire in the Streets by Kekla Magoon

A Certain October by Angela Johnson

As an added bonus a fiction title I can't wait to read that I've heard as some YA crossover appeal
Devil's Wake by Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due.  I am a very big Due fan, so much so that I am psyched to read this book about Zombies even though they are just not my thing.

Finally a very random tidbit that will probably never be useful, but here it is anyway, the three listed releases are all published by Simon & Schuster

Friday, July 6, 2012

Cinco Puntos Press - (Small Press Fortnight Blog Tour)

After spending a three months interning at Periene Press, a small publishing press in London, Jodie from Bookgazing decided to give bloggers the opportunity to  show a little love to smaller, independent presses. 

It's no secret that independent publishers have a smaller budget, however this doesn't stop many from focusing much of their attention on marginalized groups.  Just in terms of children's and YA fiction, many small presses are dedicated to publishing multicultural titles.  Cinco Puntos Press, started in 1985, is an small independent press based in El Paso, Texas.  Like most independent houses, it goes for the quality over quantity approach, publishing just a few titles a year. One of the these I love about Cinco Puntos Press is that the owners Bobby and Lee Byrd are conscious of being three miles north of the US Mexican Border. Being so close to the Border it is only natural that El Paso, Texas have a large Latino population. The Byrd's embraced, Latino authors and their stories.

Sammy & Juliana in Hollywood by Benjamin Alire Saenz and Crossing Bok Chitto by Tim Tingle are the first two books I read that were published by Cinco Puntos Press.   Since then, they have been one of my go to smaller presses for children's and young adult literature.  I think Sammy & Juliana in Hollywood, is one of the best YA novels of all time.  Part of me can't help put wonder if Saenz submitted it to one of  big six, would his YA debut been been published?  

Unfortunately  there are only a few of Native American children's and young adult authors.  Because of that a small press who publishes a Native American author is going to get some serious points with me, especially when it is very well done. Tingle's Crossing Bok Chitto is definitely that.

Last year, Maximilian &the Mystery of the Guardian Angel by Xavier Garza was a 2012  Pura Belpre Award Honor Book.

I am very much looking forward to -

Conspiracy Girl by Karen Chacek (September)

Cadillac Chronicles by Brett Hartman (October)

The Full Fortnight Schedule.  Thanks so much for Jodie for putting this together.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Small Press Fortnight Blog Tour

For the next two weeks there is an ongoing project that will showcase various independent publishers, started by Jodie from BookgazingThe full schedule   Tomorrow, is my official day to post about Cinco Puntos Press. (Still need to finish it.)  Today, I've decided to a list titles by small presses I've loved and some I am looking forward to. 

Albert Whitman & Company
 Zapato Power  by Jacqueline Jules, This is a great series

Beautiful Lie by Irfan Master, which comes out in August is excellent. The book was first released in the UK.

Flying Dragon by Natalie Dias Lorenzi - A very good debut, this month actually.

Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins - I love the author's style and this story 

Cinco Puntos Press
Crossing Bok Chitto by Tim Tingle - This awarding winning book is intense and very good. 

Conspiracy Girl by Karen Chacek. I don't know what I love more, the cover or the title.  Can't wait to read this one.
Kane Miller Publishing
Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke - This is a great series.

Lee & Low Books  - First kudos for having such a searchable website. 
Shining Star:The Anna May Wong Story by Paula Yoo - I love this biography
Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall.  I loved the author's award winning debut Under the Mesquite  and I am very much looking forward her next novel and first fantasy

The Cheshire Cheese Cat by Carmen Agra Deedy and Randall Wright - I loved this one so much. 

We've Got A Job by Cynthia Levinson -Excellent piece of nonfiction

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Flying the Dragon - Natalie Dias Lorenzi

Flying the Dragon by Natalie Dias Lorenzi
Skye and Hiroshi Tsuki are cousins but they've never meet. Skye lives in the United States with her parents and loves to play soccer. Hiroshi lives in Japan with his parents and grandfather, and loves flying kites.  After Skye's father married,he moved to the States, and has never been back to Japan.   Skye is finally going to meet her grandfather because he's moving to Virginia to for medical treatment.  Hiroshi and his parents are moving as well. 

The chapters alternate between the two cousins.  The author does an excellent job, transitioning from Skye to Hiroshi.  The two have very distinct voices and concerns.  Skye has been selected for the soccer all star team for the first time, though there's a conflict with the Japanese lessons and she might not be able to play.  Hiroshi is having a difficult time adjusting to the move and learning English.  One thing the two have in common is their grandfather.  Hirsohi has always been very close to his grandfather. Skye feels an instant bond with his grandfather and wants to get to know him better.

  Some of best scenes center around kite flying/ kite fighting, both of which run through Tsuki's blood, including Skye's even though she never touched a kite until she meets her cousin and grandfather. Many of the readers who pick up this book will be unfamiliar Kokkaku, or Japanese fighting kites and explanations could've easy bogged down the storyline. However the author gives the reader, clear, fun and visually appealing  basic understanding of Kokkaku.  Flying the Dragon is a very fitting title for this great debut.

An excerpt