Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Donavan's Double Trouble

Donavan's Double Trouble - Monalisa Degross - We were first introduced to Donavan in 1998 with Donavan's Word Jar. I loved the first book and though it took awhile I was happy to see a second book. Donavan is dealing with two problems. The first is fifth grade math, and the second is coping with his favorite uncle in a wheelchair. Like many fifth graders Doanvan is having trouble with multiplying large numbers. His uncle Vic was in the war and lost his legs, now Donavan doesn't know how to act around this new uncle who can't play basketball or dance. His fears and doubts about his uncle's wheelchair come across as real. He admits what many would be afraid to say out loud. Donavan has a strong family support system, they listen to him and give suggestions. He still collects words in a jar and spends quality time with his grandmother. It was nice watching Donavan work through his troubles. Neither was an easy fix but he kept at it, and his family was there to help. Life doesn't stop for Donavan's troubles, his school is preparing for Hertiage Month. Every April the kids are encouraged to invite adults to speak. One year someone played bagpipes, and someone else acted out all the animals in the Chinese horoscope. Degross found a very creative way to add a little diversity to her book.

Time to share

Donavan sees Uncle Vic a wheelchair for first time

"But not one of them had said right out, "They cut off Vic Carter's legs." He would have remembered that. The thin bearded man sitting in the wheelchair, was not laughing, dancing, basketball playing Uncle Vic Carter. Not the uncle who got on the bus at the armory and announced loudly to his family, "I'll be back" The crowd around him had laughed and laughed. That Uncle Vic had been replaced with this almost Uncle Vic."

Donavan goes to math class

"Man oh man, it's lima bean time." Pooh shook his head. "Yup," Donavan agreed. Whenever one of them had to face something that they hated, they called it limabean time.

Degross has written another very enjoyable early chapter book. Many kids will be able to relate to one or both of Donavan's troubles. There is a great surprise at the end of the book with Uncle Vic.
check out Ms debs post http://msdebfiction.blogspot.com/2008/03/donavans-double-trouble.html

Monday, September 29, 2008

I love her, She's my favorite

Books are Beautiful- Another Unfortunate Skit

Jamie- Thanks for choosing Books are Beautiful. This is Jamie how can I help you today.
Customer- I want all the books you have on or about Madonna. I love her, she's my favorite
Jamie- Well the only book we have in right now is the one by her brother
Customer- No, I won't read anything that is anti Madonna. Her brother is just jealous she's the real talent in the family. Find me something else. I love Madonna, she's my favorite
Jamie ( planning her escape) That is the only book we have in right now about Madonna
Customer- Madonna is a singing icon and you only have one book. Shame on you. Well go ahead and order me something. I love Madonna, she's my favorite. Which Madonna do you like?
Jamie (will not engage the customer, pretends not to hear the question) Let me see what other Madonna books I can find for you.
Customer- I don't care, 80's 90's or now, I love Madonna, she's my favorite.
Jamie (this ends now) All the other Madonna books are out of print. Unfortunately we do not deal in out of print titles.
Customer- So where should I go?
Jamie (I really don't care) Try amazon

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Otherworldlies Jennifer Anne Kogel

Otherworldlies by Jennifer Anne Kogler Vampire books are not really my thing so I came very close to not reading this book. This week I had a mini vacation from work, no funds to travel and a limited book selection , so I picked Otherworldlies up and was pleasantly surprised. I happily lost myself in the world Kogler created. Fern McAllister is nothing like her twin brother,Sam, or older brother, Eddie. Fern's quirks and peculiar sensitivity to the sun does not stop her family from loving her. Fern is a 12 yr old middle school outcast, going through changes she can't explain. What I loved about Otherworldlies is its not oblivious Fern's a vampire. Though the preferred term is otherworldly, a different species of human. Yes, Fern knows she's different, odd and strange but that doesn't automatically add up to vampire. Kogler takes her time building the story. The first part is about Fern and the relationships in the McAllister household. We learn a lot about the bond between twins. Otherworldlies comes at a perfect pace thanks to Kogler's patient writing style. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to more in this series. If you know a pre-teen or teen who hates vampire books Otherworldies may changed their mind.

Time to Share
Fern hears the voices

"That's what Fern called them the Voices probably because whenever she heard them, there were no bodies attached. That very morning she heard them again, louder than ever. She had been lying in bed, waiting for her alarm to ring. Her spine stiffened when she realized, that once again she was the topic of conversation."

Friday, September 26, 2008

Ida B. Wells: Let The Truth Be Told Walter Dean Myers Bonnie Christensen

Ida B. Wells: Let the Truth Be Told - Myers, Walter Dean, Christensen, Bonnie- Myers and Christensen have collaborated to create a great biography about Ida B. Wells. Myers begins with Ida's birth in 1862 in Holly Springs, Mississippi. Picture book biographies come across as chopping to me when the author doesn't transition well through the different stages of life and tries to fit in too much information. Myers does not have this problem. He gives us a clear sense of Ida at every stage in her life. Christensen muted illustrations are a perfect fit. I love the detail to Ida B. Wells face. As Ida grows older the face changes are subtle, allowing us to see five year old Ida in 50 year old Ida.
A few things we learn about Ida B. Wells
Yellow fever killed for parents and brother
She sued the railroad for forcing her to sit in the smoking car
Organized one of the first economic boycotts
Spoke out against lynching
Created the first voting organization for black women in the state of Illinois
There is a timeline included in the back and behind that the words of Ida B. Wells. Before reading this all I knew about Ida B. Wells is she traveled the country to speak out against lynching. Now I have a better idea of who Ida B. Wells was and how much she contributed to this country.
Also reviewed at Black Threads in Kid Lit http://blackthreadsinkidslit.blogspot.com/2008/07/ida-b-wells-let-truth-be-told-by-walter.html
Ida B. Wells Let the truth be told -Comes out October 28

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tethered Amy Mackinnon

Toni is always on me to add more adult fiction into my reading diet. So I was eyeing the new Henning Mankell novel and came across Tethered by Amy Mackinnon First of all I love the cover, there is something about it that makes me want to know more. I loved Tethered, its a beautiful read. Clara Marsh is an undertaker who can help the police solve an old murder case. Will I start mentioning more adult novels, only the ones that move me completely. There is nothing like a good book cry.

Sight Adrienne Maria Vrettos

Sight - Adrienne Maria Vrettos 15 yr old Dylan lives in a small town. She has been friends with the same group of kids since kindergarten. They will forever be linked to a kindergarten tragedy, the aduction and murder of their classmate Clarence. Dylan's gift of sight enables her to see the last moments of a child's life. Dylan's first vision was of Clarence when she was five. The kids called the killer, the drifter, he was never caught. Children are being murdered again. Though Dylan can only see their last moments, she knows its the drifter. Panic arises again in Dylan's town. I really enjoyed Sight for many reasons including the mystery of the drifter, the tragedy link and untold secrets. Dylan's friends don't know of her gift of sight. There are times when the friends are all together and you can almost feel them back in that moment.

Time to share

Dylan's part in the drifter story

"I'm the little sister in this, the one who slept through Christmas, who played with the box instead of her present, who thought the moon was made of cheese, who asked the librarian why she smelled like feet. My role I tell in this story is to make my friends laugh, to break the tension, and as they look at me with laughing and desperate eyes, I do."

Once started you won't want to stop reading Sight, when you get to the ending you'll be very happy you didn't.

An interview with the author

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Gas Shortage


Atlanta has a serious gas shortage right now. The gas station near my apartment got a delivery this morning (saw the gas tanker) The line for gas was like 15 deep. They had someone doing line patrol, it was very orderly. From watching the news some people are ready to throw down for some gas. I passed five or six other stations with no gas or only unleaded. Some stations won't get gas delivered for another two days. There have been a lot of new riders on Marta lately.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Welcome back to Books are Beautiful

Michelle and Kirk, two Books are Beautiful employees are standing near the help desk when a customer approaches to place an order. This seems easy enough and Michelle not willing to risk getting a harder request is quick to offer up her services. Kirk happily moves out of the way. Though the two have been working at Books are Beautiful for the some amount of time, Kirk's customer instincts are far better.

I Promise not to Call or Write, another unfortunate skit

Michelle- Sir, what book would you like to order today?
Customer- The Big History of Rock & Roll
Michelle- Okay, give me a moment. Have you ordered from us before?
Customer- No
Michelle- Well I just need some information.
Customer- Why?
Michelle (damn, I choose wrong) So we can contact you when your item comes in.
Customer- I don't like giving out my information. Can't you simply place the order and I'll come back to pick it up.
Michelle- Unfortunately, not sir. We need your information to place the order.
Customer- Fine ask your questions, I'll simply answer the ones I deem appropriate
Michelle- (this keeps getting better) First name
Customer- Sullivan
Michelle- Last Name
Customer- Sullivan isn't my first name
Michelle- Then what is your first name
Customer- None of your business.
Michelle- (are you kidding me with this,) Would you like me to put Sullivan in the first name box
Customer- Now you're catching on
Michelle- (I don't want to catch what you got) What would you like to put in the last name box
Customer- I've always liked Solo. It rolls off the tongue. Solo Solo Sullivan Solo Sullivan Solo
Michelle- Address
Customer- that you can't have, I won't even given you Sullivan Solo's
Michelle (oh bleeping bleep bleep bleep, damn) Sir we need some way to contact you, either address or phone number
Customer- Why?
Michelle- To remind you when the book comes in
Customer- I won't forget
Michelle- I can not place the order without contact information
Customer- I don't like giving out my information. That's how you get unsolicited calls and junk mail
Michelle- It's policy
Customer- Would you if you could
Michelle- (I should have let Kirk have you. Let him laugh it out now, the next one is his.) Yes
Customer- I believe you. I won't blame you for their intrusion. I'll give you a number
Michelle (random digits, a real number, or the number to the taco joint, Michelle will accept anything) What is it.
Customer- (202) 555-9865
Michelle- (three 5, where are the cameras?) I have everything I need. That number will be called when the book arrives.

My Thoughts

http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6593578.html A co worker pointed this article out to me today. Its written by Denene Millner co author of the new Young adult series Hotlanta
I thought I'd take the time to share my thoughts on it. I agree that African American fiction is on a serious decline. The section is filled with urban and street literature, I've shed tears in the past but now I've even up hope. I also agree that there must be something done about teenage girls reading their mother's Zane books.

"Very few prolific authors have enjoyed consistent, successful careers writing about black teen life, and only a handful of publishing houses have dedicated their resources to publishing black teen books."

I agree that there are not nearly enough black authors writing YA novels but it would've be nice if a few were acknowledged by name. Why not recognize some of the authors who paved the way for Hotlanta like Sharon G. Flake, Jacqueline Woodson, Sharon M. Draper, Walter Dean Myers and Julius Lester to name a few. Giving these authors credit does not diminish the fact that there are not enough books for black teens but rather reinforces that truth because the list is so small.

At the bookstore I work at I am constantly getting teachers, librarians and parents who are searching for YA novels starring or featuring black characters. Teachers or librarians unfamiliar with new black teen authors are always willing and open to learning about them. So I happily share a few names like Coe Booth, Tia Williams Tanita S. Davis, Okorafor-Mbachu; Nnedi, Chase-Hyman, Paula ,Deborah Gregory and M. Sindy Felin just to name a few. There are not enough publishing houses geared toward black teens but if asked I am quick to point out the Bluford High series published by Scholastic or Kimani Tru novels published by Kimani press. I wish book stores carried more black YA fiction but just because its not in stock doesn't mean I won't tell the customers about it. At that point its no longer about the sale but exposing black teens to characters and situations they can relate to and possibly find a piece of themselves in.

"Houses should be publishing more books about and for African-American teens, and not tomes about slavery, the ghetto and growing up in impossible conditions."

Tomes about slavery is a tad harsh, unnecessary and inaccurate. The sisters in Hotlanta are well to do and don't live in the ghetto anymore because this stepfather is a big man in the drug game. Living in a house with a man that would hurt you to keep his secret doesn't seem like the most ideal living conditions.

"At a book conference for teachers, librarians and booksellers, many attendees cast a dismissive eye on Hotlanta, with its pretty brown girls on the cover, wearing cute dresses and fresh makeup, posed against the Atlanta skyline. “This,” one teacher huffed, “is street fiction—like Zane, right?"

Hotlanta is nothing like Zane, however the cover does have a street lit look, and people at the conference probably dismissed it for this reason. Though Hotlanta is not my type of read, but its good that black teen girls have another option. Hotlanta might be the book that turns some into book lovers.

"I can't tell you how painful it is to have my books—particularly a teen book—dismissed as street fiction because the cover features black girls.

I am offended for all the teachers and librarians I interact with on a regular basis at the bookstore I work at or blogs I visit, that Millner believes Hotlanta is looked upon has street lit. because the cover features black girls. The cover artist should be blamed for people mistaking Hotlanta for street fiction.

If you want more black children's authors check out http://thebrownbookshelf.com/28-days-later/

Monday, September 22, 2008

Door of No Return Sarah Mussi

Door of No Return Sarah Mussi This novel was originally published in the UK in 2007. 15yr Zac Baxter was raised by his grandfather (Pops). The book opens with the two on the way to a club where Pops will prove that they are related to Baktu a Ghanaian King. Baktu's chosen son, Bartholomew was stolen into slavery when he was seven. King Baktu stuck a deal with the British to pay a ransom for the release of his son. The British double crossed King Baktu, Bartholomew was still taken into slavery, but the gold was hidden from the British. Now in present day on the way to the club to prove what he knows Pops is killed. Zac does not want his grandfather death to be in vain and starts to realize that Pops wasn't crazy. What I liked about Zac is he's an ordinary teenager who's trying to out think his enemy and stay one step ahead. I loved following Zac Baxter on this journey though his past. You could feel the change come over Zac as he got closer to his truth. When he gets to the Door of No Return that Bartholomew went though its almost too much for me. Time to Share

Zac talks of the Door of no Return

"Once through the door no slave ever again sets foot on African soul. The Door is a stone opening which is past through in single file. It leads straight out into the Atlantic surf. There are boats of the middle passage wait. From there the journey of the New World begins. After long imprisonment in the dark labyrinths, the sunshine is often too much for their weak eyes and many leave without setting sight on their motherland again. It was back through the Door of no Return I planned to pass. In some ways it was fancy. Hadn't Pops said "Until my son, the Lost Prince, come back through the Door of No Return and claims his ransom, my soul will never rest in the land in my ancestors.

Zac meets a lost (stolen) relative

I took Nunu's hand and pressed it. I laid my cheek on it and I think my eyes got a bit soggy. I'm beyond embarrassment. You have to realize. Bartholomew might have said a prince may not weep, but I disagree. If you can't weep for three hundred years of separation, then I guess you can't weep for anything.

I hate thinking about how many lives, families and futures were stolen thanks to slavery but it should not be forgotten. With the Door of No Return, Mussi has written a beautiful novel that encourages us to remember.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Toni says FU EMMY'S

I hope you don't mind Toni, but I had to share this post. Toni says FU to the Emmy's. http://sewtransformed.blogspot.com/2008/09/fk-emmys.html Toni I don't doubt you could write an episode of House but why would you want to. I have only seen the first season of Wire but it was a damn good show. Toni maybe you could write an episode of Monk, so you can help Tony Shalhoub get his 4th emmy. I've stolen Toni's post but I shall had some info. Bestselling mystery author Laura Lippman's husband David Simon created the Wire. Bestselling mystery author George Pelecancos was a producer on the show. Bestselling mystery author Dennis Lehane was a writer on the show

Freefall Anna Levine

Freefall Anna Levine I loved this story but before I say why I am going to pull a Tyra and make it all about me for a minute. This is a very good, I promise. A customer came in today who looked familiar. I couldn't place from where, I just figured I'd seen her in the store before and left it at that. Before checking out she wanted to see if her friends Young Adult title was released yet. I was happy to check, I am all about the YA. All she gets out is the title before I am interrupting. I am like OMG Freefall by Levine, I am reading that right now and loving it. After that my memory clicked. I meet Yael ( we introduced ourselves this time) at a Sarah Dessen signing eariler this year. While waiting in line to get our books signed we got to talking (about books of course) and Yael said her friend had a YA book coming out in the fall from HarperCollins that is being compared to Sarah Dessen. What are the chances that Yael would come seek out her friends book, and not only am I familiar with it but I am currently reading it, and I was the one to help her. Everything would have to be aligned right and I doubt it will happen again.
Sarah Dessen is a fair comparison for Anna Levine's, Freefall. Though it reminds me more of Melina Marchetta. I love Dessen and Marchetta, so either one is a very nice compliment. In Israel every citizen must give two years of military service. Abigail (Aggie) Jacobs is 18 yrs old her time to serve has come. Most women decide to take office jobs. Aggie can't she herself cooped behind a desk for two years. So even though Aggie's family doesn't believe in her (except her grandma) and she's on the small side, she enlist for combat. Sometimes I love when an author throws me into the story. The first chapter doesn't read like hello my name is, but rather like I am being reintroduced to characters I already know. Levin does just this with the beginning of Freefall. She has created a great character in Abigail. Aggie's life is changing though she's unsure of herself, she's still willing to take a chance on herself. Aggie goes to pre-basic training with nine other women. She fights through the exhaustion, pain and doubt to make it to the end. Aggie is also trying to sort out her love life, before this year she had no options, now there are two. Her friend, Ben and her girlfriends older brother, Noah. Freefall is so good because Levine doesn't try to make it anything more then it should be and she doesn't stray from Aggie. Its easy to fall in love with Levine's writing style. Time to share.

Aggie kisses Ben
"Maybe the taxi jolts or maybe I don't know maybe we've both been waiting for the opportunity, but its our lips that touch and for a moment, or longer our bodies press together. His lips hold mine. His hand circles my waist. I am suspended. My heart beats like tiny bird wings, and I hover in unfamiliar territory before pulling away."

Aggie tells her family of her service plans
"They're laughing. Laughing at the thought that I would even think of trying out for an elite combat unit for girls and that an army as strong as ours would have to use someone as hopeless as me. I want to start crying. I want to get up, slam my chair against the table, tell them they're hurtful horrible people, and then stomp out. But they're just waiting for me to lose it, to have a temper tantrum so they can look at one another and say, "And she thinks she's elite soldier material." So I just sit there, head bowed."
I highly recommend Freefall and I hope we haven't seen the last of Aggie Jacobs

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Louise, The Adventure of a Chicken Kate DiCamillo Harry Bliss

Louise, the Adventures of a Chicken - DiCamillo, Kate, Bliss, Harry

I gave a happy squeal when I saw this on the new release cart today. I stayed after work to read it, it was too long to read on the clock but we all know reading on the clock is wrong. However product knowledge is essential. I don't read picture books on the clock for me I do it for the parents - who ask " I am looking for a fun new picture book" and I do it for the children our future, so if reading picture books on the clock is wrong I don't want to be right. Though I am very happy I waited until I had time to read and enjoy this book. I loved it.

Louise lives in a hen house and longs for adventure. The picture book is broken up into four chapters. Louise goes on three adventures and returns home in the fourth. In the first chapter Louise boards a ship which is over taken by pirates. In the second chapter Louise joins the circus as the high wire act. In the third chapter she visits a faraway land sees a fortune teller and is captured.

I absolutely loved this this book. DiCamillo gives us a wonderful story, you can't help but enjoy following Louise on her adventures. The illustrations are beautiful. Bliss puts a lot of emotion in Louise's eyes. Each chapter is illustrated in its own color code so they fit the story being told. The text and illustrations are a perfect fit.

Time to share

From the second adventure

"However, too soon, walking the high wire with a pink umbrella became rather mundane, and Louise found herself longing for a little excitement. It was then that the lion got loose. Louise's heart beat fast within her feathered breast. Here at last was a true adventure.

Louise tells her sister hens about her adventures

The hens gathered round. They trembled as Louise told them of her adventures on the high seas. They murmured in alarm as she described the lion. They clucked in disapproval when they heard of the imprisoned chickens. As they listened, their hearts beat fast, fast within their feathered breasts.

Louise, the adventure of a Chicken is perfect for story time. I look forward to selling this book a lot and it will be a go to book for me this holiday season
received a starred PW review http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6595583.html?industryid=47141

Monday, September 15, 2008

I So Don't Do Mysteries Barrie Summy

I So Don't Do Mysteries by Barrie Summy I really enjoyed this book and I loved Sherlock (Sherry) Holmes Baldwin, she was just the right amount of pink for me. Sherry must help her mom who died in the line of duty last year, solve a mystery so she can continue on in the Academy of Spirits. The academy of spirits is an organization that trains ghost to protect the living. So far Sherry's mother hasn't been doing well, if she doesn't solve this case she must pass over. Though she's scared and unsure Sherry is determined to help her mother because it means a second chance for their relationship. Someone has been tempting the Rhino's at the Wild Animal Park with bananas, in hopes of kidnapping them. The who and the why are easy to figure out the fun is watching Sherry get her mystery legs and believe in herself. Sherry makes a few mistakes but she's only 13yrs old and this is her first case. Sherry uses everything a good detective should including her ears, eyes and quick on her feet thinking. I like that Summy doesn't one track Sherry, her life continues as she helps her mom. That continuation includes dealing with her father marrying Paula aka the ruler, a math teacher from her school and Josh Morton the crush.
I So Don't Do Mysteries had a few too many coincidences but they were easy to overlook because there is some serious growth potential with this series and Sherry was so much fun.
Time to share

Talking with her friends after finding out that Josh wants to know if she plays videos games

"Well send it through the grapevine that I totally kill at video games. " "I already did. But the big question is, Brianna pauses for dramatic effect. Will you let him win? I consider the idea for half a sec, then shake my head. "No."

How can you not love a girl who won't let a boy win at video games?

Sherry on her first tail

"In case he looks back, I slump down in the seat, tugging the brim of my hat low over my eyes. Then I get my bearings. There's a canopy roof above, and the sides of the train, open from about three feet up, give way to a panorama of the savanna. It's brown dirt, ponds with green water and patches of grass and shrubs. Very National Geographic."

Summy has created a very lovable character in Sherry Baldwin and doesn't skimp us on the others. I look forward to reading more.

I So Don't Do Mysteries comes out Dec 9

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ignatius Macfarland: Frequenaut Paul Feig

Ignatius Macfarland: Frequenaut! by Paul Feig Ignatius (Iggy) has already traveled to another world. Frequenaut is the retelling of his adventure. 12yr old Iggy is teased by his classmates, he's called Piggy and MacFartland. Iggy uses a telescope to search for UFO's that will take him back to his real planet. Iggy convinces his friends Gray and Ivan to help him build a spaceship. Iggy had no intention of flying in the spaceship, once the fuse is lit, he remembers his dads Shakespeare book is inside. The spaceship explodes while Iggy's inside. Rather then die Iggy is transported to another world. In the new world Iggy sees a dog in a tree and a cat who thinks its a dog scare the dog in the tree. It was a very nice Skippyjon Jones moment. At home dogs love Iggy in this new world cats love him. There are two other people from his world in this new dimension. Chester Arthur, an English teacher from Iggy's school and Karen, a high school student. Chester and Karen arrived via an explosion as well. Chester's a home explosion, five years ago. Karen's a chemistry experiment gone bad, a year ago.

The cat/dog leads Iggy to a the city where everything is similar but wrong. Starbucks is now Artbucks. Arthur has made himself President and is passing of the ideas of great thinkers and famous artist has his own. The place is inhabitanted by weird looking bugs. Feig does a good job of describing them, and the creature illustrations are perfect.

Iggy enters Artbucks

"The place was packed. But it wasn't packed with people. It was filled with the strangest assortment of creatures I had ever laid eyes on in my life. There were four creatures standing in line behind the mole guys that sort of looked like a cross between fish and eels. They were about five feet tall with slippery looking skin that turned different colors when the light hit it. They each had one big black eye, a long thin mouth and an arm with a big suction cup on the end coming out of their backs. One of the feels was sticking and unsticking its suction cup on the counter impatiently as it glared at the really slow creature working the cash register."

For the past year Karen has been trying to convince the creatures Chester is a fraud. Karen and Iggy are chased by Chester's ill formed army. They must figure out a way to stop Chester and get home.

There is a lot to like about this novel. I actually loved the first half. The beginning is quick and fun, very relucantant reader friendly. Iggy's voice comes across has a 13 yr old boy. He does stupid and dangerous things with his friends that only boys would do. The new world Feig created was interesting the creatures coming to life thanks to his words and the illustrations. Karen was a pretty badazz fighter.

Karen and Iggy trapped by creature army

''Then grab somthing and help me fight these guys" she yelled at me. And with that she suddenly struck a pose like she thought she was in a kung fu movie, gave a warrior cry and ran toward the creatures. She spun her pole over her head and then slammed it down on top of the giant octopus's eye."

Unfortunately the novel lost me along the way. After the cat/dog showed Iggy the city and kepted on reappearing I thought it would play a bigger role in the store. It felt like a story line died. Chester is singing Frank Sinatra songs. I don't think 10 yr olds are that famliar with Frank Sinatra. Chester also redoes the classic song Stairway to Heaven. Stairway to Kevin is only funny if you know the original song and melody. That joke will be lost on many 10 yr olds. Feig introduces a new major character with a little over hundred pages left. Sometimes this works in this case it doesn't.

A few chapters into this book I couldn't wait to talk about it, it was so good. That just makes the second half even more frustrating since I know what the author is capable of.

Laura Lippman NYT Magazine

I turned a regular customer on to Laura Lippman (Tess Monaghan Mysteries #01: Baltimore Blues ) a while back and today she told me about Laura Lippman writing a new Tess Monaghan story in NYT magazine, The link is the first entry http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/07/magazine/07serial-t.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1

I enjoy everything Lippman writes and I love Tess. If you like Lehane and Pelecanos, you should try Lippman and start with the Tess Monaghan series.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Adventures in Moving

I have been priced out of my current neighborhood, and turned in my notice at the beginning of the month. I will be moving at the end of October. I hate looking for a new place. But I do know the places to avoid, which I will share with you later. Today I started to look for a new place to live. I decided to look around Buford Hwy, if you're unfamiliar with Atlanta, Buford Hwy is majority Spanish speaking with pockets of Asian. The whole day was a bust. The first leasing office I stopped at or should I say a two bedroom apartment turned into a leasing office I was welcomed by one of those hot dog looking dogs. Someone finally came out after the dog wouldn't stop barking, and I was informed that there were no vacancy. What a shame. I walk over to the next complex, I took a few steps in and decided to leave. It reminded me too much of my first apartment complex which was close to a jail. I couldn't see the jail out of my window but it was in walking distance. Actually living near a jail wasn't that bad, only when I heard of a prison break on the news did I freak out. The reporters would always leave you hanging. "There has been a prison break, stay tuned to find out where and how many" WTF, I need more then that lady. My old roommate still swears they caught someone in our complex, we still disagree on this but I do remember the helicopters. So you can see why I wasn't to keen on moving to somewhere that reminded me of that place. Once I left the second place I walked towards an apartment complex that look pretty decent on the bus. And up close it was still very nice, I was thinking okay this may be an option but then I saw condominium residencies on the sign. I start hoping maybe that's a fancy way of saying apartments, so I keep walking in and from the cars and carports I know I can't afford this place. I am thinking to myself WTF are you kidding me I am on fu*king Buford HWY, there's a freakin pawn shop at the next light. All the nice apartments near Marta are really expensive and house people who don't need to live that close to the train and now they are taking the apartments on the busline. I am not looking for luxury hell I can't afford it. All I want is something affordable, safe, nice and drug free. I just can't go back to the hood. I can do the swagger when I need to, but I really don't want to hear hey dread every time I leave my apartment. I don't want to see camera crews roll in and know something else has happened. After the condominium residencies I am pretty much done for the day. I get to the bus stop right before the bus arrives (had good bus timing today) My plan was to go straight to the station, but I saw a place that looked okay. So I got off, I should have stayed on. Another leasing office that was a two bedroom apartment. So I leave there and start to walk off my frustration, I end up passing a place called Orient Mart- One store said it had music videos and books. So I thought to myself let me go in and check it out. The books would probably all be in another language, but whatever I am a sucker for bookstore, and who knows maybe they have a kids section. So I find the store, and if posters of women on the window were any indication they did not have a children section. I took a serious pass on going in. I have no reason to go into a store that looks like its windows have been decorated by a 15 yr old boy who has a thing for Asian chicks. After that I am officially done for the day.
Places to avoid when Apartment hunting in Atlanta

Too Scary
Anything with Villa in the name
Anything French sounding like de or chateau
If there is a sign posted in front of the complex that says drug free community

Too expensive
Luxury Apartment living
Apartment Homes
Condominium Residencies
Indulgent Amenities

The hunt continues,

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Retail Rants

Had a customer today who placed three wrinkled balled up dollar bills on the counter to pay. I mean WTF is that. I expect that from a kid who is still learning how to interact with a cashier not from someone who looks like they have an AARP card. Now it wouldn't even be that big of an issue if he at least attempted to straighten out the money and then placed it on the counter nicely plus it was no where near me. And his wife could've saved them both when she got the change out but all she did was place them on top of the dollar bills. When I collected the money I said Thank You for placing the money in my hand. I know I probably should not have said that, but I don't care. What about my Retail Rights?

I hate line bullies - These are the customers who come up all on top of the customer you're checking out in hopes of rushing the transaction Yea see how fast I go, back the f*c* up line bullie. I hope I am there the day a line bully gets shoved back. Line bullies never have their method of payment ready and they always want to take forever to get their s*it together to leave.

You purchased a book three months ago, don't have a receipt today, and you wonder why we won't take it back. I mean really wtf.

I love it when customers come to the help desk and can't get the title out. I am looking foorrrrrr its hmmm, its hmm a book I need hmmm, its hmmm new I need Hmmm,

All I am thinking while this is going on is what you need are a few consonants and a couple of vowels, wtf is the title

I hate explaining what Out of Print means. I do it at least once a day. I always have to explain it three different ways before they get it and a few still ask if I can order it. I mean wtf is so hard to understand about Out of Print

Now, I actually look forward to the racist and sexist customers who don't want to be bothered with me, unfortunately there aren't enough of those.

To be continued

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Phone Pacers

Phone Pacers go into a store not to shop or even browse but simply to talk on their cell phones. Phone Pacers look like trapped crazed animals walking back and forth while screaming into their phones.
Two examples of Phone Pacers conversations

That bit*h is not getting a dime of my money. I don't care what she said that fu*k*ng b*tch is crazy. I got the best lawyer, she'll be lucky to get one car.

No, you listen to me we had a deal. I don't care, we had a deal. You are not listening we had a deal. No I don't want to hear it we had a fu*k*n deal. I asked you over and over again do you want to do this. And what did you say? What did you say? Exactly, so you will do it.

Phone Pacers are unpredictable and the pacing freaks me out. The angrier they are the harder their steps and the louder they get. Can someone please tell me why Phone Pacers exist? Why would someone want to have a long personal conversations in a public place, loudly.

Big Splash Jack D. Ferraiolo

Big Splash by Jack D. Ferraiolo I had a lot of fun reading this novel. Ferraiolo does a wonderful job . Its Dick Tracy meets Half Moon Investigations Eoin Colfer meets Codename KND. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codename:_Kids_Next_Door.
Matt Stevens is a detective and in the seventh grade at Franklin Middle School. Matt's school is a war zone, the hallways are patrolled by Hall Monitors. Vinny Biggs is the big man on top. He controls the sugar supply, forgeries- report cards doctors notes, etc and gambling. Kids are packing water guns just waiting to put another kid in the Outs. A kid is put in the Outs when they are sprayed below the belt.
"The Outs- This club had a highly undesirable method of initiating new members humiliation. Vinny was marking the kids that he wanted taken out of the school social system, and the pee stain was the perfect symbol for this. Most kids knew the pee wasn't real, but it didn't matter. Kids laughed at the victims anyway."
Big Splash opens at the beginning of a new school year one of the most feared shooters Nikki Fingers has retired from Vinny's organization.
"Nikki Fingers was a dream girl the kind who caused nightmares. She was twelve but could have easily passed for fourteen. One glimpse of her bright red hair and luminous green eyes made you freeze like a package of fish sticks, and that was all the time she needed to shoot so much water on the front of your pants it looked like your bladder exploded."
Vinny hires Matt to get a hula figurine back from Nikki for him, and in the process Nikki is put in the Outs.
"I heard a quick two pump behind me. Before I could turn around, two giant bursts of water caught Nicole square on the front of her pants, right below the waist. The surprise and the force of the water jolted her backward , causing her head to slam into the locker doors. She slid to the ground butt first, legs splayed, eyes glazed over in shock."
Matt Stevens is on the case. Nikki Fingers put many kids in the Outs so there are alot of suspects. Big Splash was a joy to read. Matt Stevens is a likeable and smart detective- like any good detective he has his own mystery to solve. Ferraiolo has created a very believeable world where the kids are front and center while the adults merely make appearances. Big Splash is a fun mystery noir. There are some great twist and turns at the end. Big Splash is a great book for mystery fans or fans of fun and silly books set at school.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Gridiron Reads

Today was the first batch of Sunday games for the season. I watched a little but U.S. OPEN Semifinals and finals trumps opening day football. My Superbowl picks are the Dallas Cowboys and San Diego Chargers. I am iffy on the Cowboys pick though, I believe the Jessica Simpson Jinx on Romo and he has yet to prove himself in the playoffs.

1 Jim Thorpe by Joesph Bruchac
2 Two-Minute Drill by Mike Lupica -
3 Crash by Jerry Spinelli
4 Kickoff by Tiki Barber and Ronde Barber
5 Long-Arm Quarterback- by Matt Christopher
6 Football Hero by Tim Green
7 Tackling Dad by Elizabeth Levy
8 Cover-Up by John Feinstein
8 Roar of the Crowd by Rich Wallace
9 Damage by A.M. Jenkins
10 Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
11 Deadline by Chris Crutcher
12 Knights of the Hill Country by Tim Tharp
13 Raiders Night by Robert Lipsyte
14 Out of His League by Pat Flynn
15 Out of the Pocket by Bill Konigsberg
16. Gym Candy by Carl Deuker
17. Payback Time by Carl Deuker

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Ghostgirl Tonya Hurley

Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley. Usually I am not a fan of covers that are designed with an open center they tear easily. Though the Ghostgirl coffin cover is eye catching and sturdy, so I can enjoy it and not have to worry about damaging any out. Charlotte is going back to high school ready to be seen. Charlotte has a plan, has studied the popular girls and has her eye on one of the popular boys, Damen. In Charlotte's first class Physics things are going to according to plan when she is patnered with Damen and then she dies. Charlotte enrolls in a new school Dead Ed and though she is now longer living Charlotte still has a thing for Damen. Charlotte follows Damen to his girlfriends, Petula house. Charlotte discovers Petula's sister Scarlet can see her. Hurley never explains how or why Scarlet is able to see Charlotte. Charlotte convinces Scarlet to let her take over her body every once in a while and they both use this to their advantage. Even in death Charlotte still craves the popular crowd and believes it is her unfinished business. I laughed out loud many times while reading Ghostgirl.

"You know, you don't look or act like your dead," Scarlet said as she looked Charlotte up and down. You're like a dead poseur" Charlotte tilted her head in dissappointment. The old feelings of inadequacy came rushing back.

Charlotte as Scarlet tutoring Damen

He looked over to see that Charlotte's book was covered with a brown bag and a gravity is a downer bumper sticker. "Let's begin," she said, pointing to the sticker. "I dont get it," he said looking at it really hard. The whooshing sound that followed might have been the wind, but Charlotte would have sworn it was the sound of irony flying right over Damen's head.

Ghostgirl has some great moments and overall was a lot of fun. I look forward to recommending it. http://ghostgirl.com/blog/entry/publishers_weekly_gives_gg_book_a_starred_review/

Switch by Snow, Carol. I really liked the premise of this book, Snow does an excellent job of explaining what it is and how it happens. 15 yr old Claire is body switcher like her grandmother. Switching occurs when lighting strikes, the electrical jolt causes Claire's spirit to fly out of her body and take over another until the two wake up and switch back. Claire lives in a small town that is prone to thunderstorms. Claire's grandmother, Evelyn died because of her ability to switch now she watches over Claire. When Claire takes over another body Evelyn steps into hers. Early on in the book Claire remembers when she was younger and thought her grandmother was a guardian angel who smoked. I know smoking is bad but there is something endearing about a dead grandmother who smokes. For two years Claire and Evelyn had the Switch under control, until Claire touched a light switch. Claire is caught of guard and takes over the body of Larissa. Larissa is the girl Nate likes, and Nate is guy Claire likes. Claire and Nate run in different circles but are acquaintances from the high school swim team and summer life guard program. Now in Larissa beautiful body, that boys love, Claire is able to get closer to Nate. I like the fact that Snow didn't make Nate a bad guy, he just wasn't attracted to Claire. Overall I really enjoyed Switch. Claire has a very likeable voice, and it was fun watching her grandmother have a living vacation.

"A girl who looked like me was leaning against the side of the brick building, partially hidden by the stinky brown dumpsters, cigarette in hand. Instead of the new jeans and layered top, she wore my mother's short-sleeved black dress and black high heeled shoes."

Friday, September 5, 2008

Books on the Mound and a few in the Circle

In honor of the last month of regular season play I complied a list of baseball and softball books. There is hardly any order to this list because that would've been too much like right and sometimes I just don't do right. Though I think I made up for that by adding link reviews to a few titles.

1.Hey Batta Batta Swing! The Wild Old Days of Baseball By Sally Cook and James Charlton Illustrated by Ross MacDonald
2.We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball -Kadir, Nelson http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/blog/1790000379/post/120020412.html
3.Honus & Me by Dan Gutman
4.The Longest Season: The Story of the Orioles' 1988 Losing Streak- Ripken, Cal, Jr., Mazellan, Ron
5.Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow - Sturm, James Tommaso, Rich http://www.comicbookbin.com/satchelpaige001.html
6.Satchel Paige -Cline-Ransome, Lesa, Ransome, James
7.Heart of a Champion - Carl Deuker http://www.myshelf.com/teen/fiction/07/heartofachampion.htm
8.The Boyfriend League - Hawthorne, Rachel http://thehappynappybookseller.blogspot.com/2008/09/boyfriend-league-rachel-hawthorne.html
9.Safe at Home(Comeback Kids) - Lupica, Mike http://thehappynappybookseller.blogspot.com/2008/08/safe-at-home-comeback-kids-novel.html
10.Black Diamond: The Story of the Negro Baseball Leagues - McKissack, Patricia C., McKissack, Fredrick L
11.The Comeback Season - Jennifer E. Smith. http://thehappynappybookseller.blogspot.com/2008/06/comeback-season-jennifer-e-smith.html http://www.thestorysiren.com/2008/06/comeback-season.html
12. Six Innings: A Game in the Life - Preller, James http://thehappynappybookseller.blogspot.com/2008/05/six-inning-james-preller.html http://www.jamespreller.com/2008/08/28/ten-best-sports-books-of-the-year/
13.Keeping Score -Park, Linda Sue http://www.papertigers.org/reviews/USA/papertigers/KeepingScore.html
14.Home Run: The Story of Babe Ruth -Robert Burleigh
15.Stealing Home: Jackie Robinson: Against the Odds - Robert Burleigh
16. Promises to Keep: How Jackie Robinson Changed America - Robinson, Sharon
17. A Strong Right Arm: The Story of Mamie "Peanut" Johnson - Green, Michelle Y., Johnson,Mamie
18.Safe at Home - Robinson, Sharon
19.Willie Mays: Art in the Outfield- Shannon, Mike This is not a children's book I put it on the list so I could share a Willie Mays story. It comes from another baseball book The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O'Neil's America - Posnanski, Joe http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buck_O%27Neil, Posnanski travels around with Buck O'Neil, a Negro league baseball player and manager. In New York City they run into Satchel Paige's son. At one point they make a trip to the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negro_Leagues_Baseball_Museum Where they run into Willie Mays. Willie Mays and Buck O'Neil get to talking about old times and playing for the Kansas City Monarchs. Willie Mays ends up telling a story about seeing one of his Negro League Jersey sold on the Antique Roadshow http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antiques_Roadshow, Buck O'Neil tried to get Mays to remember the good things again. (thanks wikipedia)

I absolutely loved the following two titles and they both include some beautiful baseball so they made the list
20.The Wednesday Wars - Schmidt, Gary D http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/16/books/review/Stone-t.html
21.My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins & Fenway Park - Kluger, Steve http://jkrbooks.typepad.com/blog/2007/12/my-most-excelle.html

22. No Cream Puff - Day, Karen
http://blbooks.blogspot.com/2008/07/no-cream-puffs.html http://jkrbooks.typepad.com/blog/2008/07/no-cream-puffs.html
23.Throwing Like a Girl - Mackey, Weezie Kerr http://bookshelvesofdoom.blogs.com/bookshelves_of_doom/2007/07/throwing-like-a.html
24.Screwball: An Ashley Clarke Novel - Keri Mikulski http://thebookmuncher.blogspot.com/2008/08/screwball-by-keri-mikulski.html

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Doo-Wop Pop Roni Schotter

Doo-Wop Pop by Schotter, Roni, Collier, Bryan . When I first saw this picture book mention in Publisher Weekly children's fall releases it was a must read for me because I love Bryan Collier's illustrations. So thank you Lindsay from Harpers Collins for sending me an ARC

Mr Searle is a school janitor. In his younger days Mr Searle was a singer known as Snow Man. Now the kids call him Doo Wop Pop. Though he traded his mike for a broom Doo Wop Pop still has a few moves. While Doo Wop Pop is cleaning the gym one of the shy kids Elijah (Slipper) watches from the doorway captivated by the Sha-boom - Sha bop of the Doo Wop Pop. One of the things I loved about this picture book is it puts the shy kids front and center. Doo-Wop Pop teaches them how to shine. Schotter writing is smooth and rhythmic. Schotter manages to tell a story, pass along a few messages all the while keeping an easy jazzy tempo. Beautiful

"One day in the lunchroom, I'm sitting solo , eating my PB and J, when Doo Wop Pop comes over, smiles and says, "Hey", "I see you," he says "always hiding taking your notes. So take this down one of my favorite quotes It's no disgrace to show your face." I swallow some air, along with some fear

Doo Wop Pop meets a few of the shy kids after school, and tells them tales of his singing days. He encourges the kids to start a vocal group of there own. They are wary at first but soon begin to believe in each other and themselves, discovering their own sound.

There is alot to like about Doo Wop Pop. As always I am impressed by Bryan Collier's illustrations. http://www.bryancollier.com/ Doo Wop Pop reminds me of the importance of adults taking an interest in children's lives and music or the arts in general in school. If not for Doo Wop Pop and the music the kids would still be too shy to try.

Doo Wop Pop released date in early Nov.

The Boyfriend League Rachel Hawthorne

The Boyfriend League Rachel Hawthorne It's the summer before Dani's senior year and she is determined to have a boyfriend at last. Dani and her best friend, Bird play on the high school softball team but now that its summer its all about baseball and boys. Dani loves baseball and its big in her hometown of Ragland, Texas.

Dani and Bird convince their parents to house a Rattler for the summer. The Rattlers are Ragland's summer collegiate baseball team. Dani plans to use her Rattler, Jason has an in to meet the other players on the team in hopes of finding a boyfriend. Boyfriend League moves with ease, Dani and Bird are fun to follow.

Dani and Bird watch the boys practice

Bird tapped the roster she'd given me when she'd picked me up earlier to bring me to the field. She'd added a column: Hottie Score. Shortstop is cute, I said. I glanced at the lineup. Chase Parker. "I can't tell at this distance " Bird said, "I wish they had these guys pictures on the roster"

Boyfriend League was a fun, quick and enjoyable read. The perfect mix of baseball, boys, and romance. I highly recommend it for girls who play in or around the circle or a pitching mound.

Order of the Odd Fish James Kennedy

The Order of Odd-Fish by James Kennedy Let me begin by saying I love this cover. Its very odd, beautiful and perfect. It's the reason why I picked up the book. Normally I don't look up cover artist but this time I couldn't resist. It's like when I listen to a jazz song every once in a while one artist will stand out forcing me to check the liner notes. No liner notes this time but I did have Google. The cover illustration by John Myers and the book designer is Angela Carlino.

The Order of the Odd-Fish is a visual treat. 13 yr old Jo Larouche lives with her aunt Lily Larouche in California. As a baby Jo appeared out of the blue in Lily's washing machine with a warning attached- This is Jo, please take care of her. But beware this is a dangerous baby. Up until now Jo has been anything but, she is actually more responsible then Lily. Lily a former actress is very outgoing the novel opens with Lily's annual Christmas costume party.

"The party had moved inside and the dancing had begun. A squid glided across the dance floor, its tentacles wrapped around a dainty geisha. A table of centipedes in tuxedos played whist as a pack of witches and monkeys argued politics."

The party is crashed by Colonel Korsakov and his partner Sefino a 3 foot tall cockroach ( Sefino my have just been in my bathroom but he wasn't wearing a bowler hat and didn't contribute to the rent so I sprayed) The two were at the party because Korsakov digestion was telling him he needed protect Jo. A box falls from the sky for Jo from the order of the odd fish. Korsakov had stolen the box from Ken Kiang, an evil man in training.

Jo, Lily,Korsakov and Sefino are swallowed by a large fish and spit out in Eldritch City, home to the order of the odd fish. Lily and Korsakov are Knights, and Sefino like all cockroaches is a butler. The three had their memories removed when they where exiled from Eldritch City. When Jo was born the city the Silent Sister's threatened to destroy the city if they didn't get Jo. Now that Jo is back in Eldritich she can't tell anyone who she is or they may try to kill her.

Jo is a likeable and mature 13 yr old. The book is filled with some very interesting characters, I was partial to the cockroaches who loved to give grand speeches.

"An ugly and withered cockroach laid hold of Jo, causing her to yelp and step back. Do not fear I understand your cries of ecstasy , said the cockroach leaning forward. It is not often that I condescend to touch my admirers I am of course the great Benozzo. Jo's skin winced under the cockroaches slick hairy claw. Please take your hand off of me. Yes the thrill overwhelms you ? You wonder if you can bear the exaltation of my touch a moment longer"

The Order of the Odd Fish is hard to describe but it's a whole lot of fun to read. I laughed out loud many times. Kennedy's word choice is smart and witty. I love that Kennedy appreciates the sophistication of a teenage reader. This isn't the type of book you show to everyone it needs just the right reader. So I will probably leave it on a table allowing the cover and reader to find each other

Check out another The Order of the Odd Fish post by bookworm4life http://bookworm4life.wordpress.com/2008/08/30/the-order-of-odd-fish/

Monday, September 1, 2008

I have one thing in common with Jenny from the Block, growing up in NY I rode the 6 train actually I still do when I go home to visit. The 2 and 5 make too many Bronx local stops. If I wanted to read the sports section I'd pick up the Daily News before I got on the train. The Daily News has a great sport section and that was when I first introduced to Mike Lupica. I read and loved his first children's book Travel Team a few years back. His second book Heat, was just okay for me. So its taken me awhile to read another Lupica book. Safe at Home was worth the trip back.

Nick Crandall is 12yrs old and attends Hayworth middle school. He was adopted when he was nine. He is the catcher on the JV team. In preseason the varsity catcher is injured. Nick is called up and now he is the youngest player on the varsity baseball team. His first few weeks on the varsity team are challenging. In Nick Crandall, Lupica has created a character many boys can relate to. He does so-so in school, loves comic books, worries his parents don't understand him and is trying to fit in. Safe at Home is a very enjoyable read, Lupica does a very fine job with it but sometimes he does tow the line of too much lesson and not enough story. As always Mike Lupica writes so you can see the field and the game. I loved the development of Nick Crandall

"Nick especially liked the mask and just that it made him feel a little bit like a superhero from one of his comic books. The mask made him feel as if he could hide in plain sight looking at everybody's else face on the field without them seeing his."

I was helping a customer a couple of weeks back, he was about 10 yrs old and knew who Lupica was. Safe at Home would make a great gateway book for young sports fans. They may see Lupica not has a writer but as a sports reporter/sports fan/the guy they saw on ESPN. With all those slashes a young sports fans/reluctant reader might be inclined to read one of Lupica's books