Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday Links

I am still trying to decide if Sunday Links will be a regular feature. Though when I think about it I don't have any regular feature. So you may see Sunday Links again or next time it could be Saturday Links.

Check out a few recent reviews of books for young readers with characters of color

Edi @ Crazy Quilts - He Forgot to Say Goodbye by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Laura @ Bib-Laura-graphy - One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams Garcia
April @ Good Books & Wine - Copper Sun by Sharon Draper
Casey@ Bookworm 4 Life - Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers
Tanita @ Finding Wonderland - 8th Grade SuperZero by Olugbemisola Rhuday -Perkovich
Mary Ann @ Great Kids Books - The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon
Mary Ann @ Great Kids Books - Bad New For Outlaws by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
Ah Yuan @ Gal Novlety - 8th Grade SuperZero by Olugbemisola Rhuday -Perkovich
Jill @ Rhapsodyinbooks A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott

Not sure which review to click on first - let your mouse decide, or start with the blogger name you like the most, or the book you keep hearing about. If you keep hearing about the same book, there's a reason - it wants you.

Over at Book Smugglers there is a new monthly feature called Covers Matter - first up Whitewashing Its an excellent piece and its obvious a lot of research went into it. They touch on everything from recent YA cover issues to Gerard Depardieu playing Alexandre Dumas.

April of Good Books & Wine is compiling a list of Top 100 Young Adult Titles of all time. You have until March 17 to sumbit Nominate your top 5 YA titles.

Author Zetta Elliott's article @ The Huffinton Post - Demanding Diversity in Publishing

Jill of Rhapsodyinbooks has had some great post for Black History Month. Two of my favorites, the review of Blood Done Signed My Name by Timothy Tyson and the one on Nina Simone. If you have never read anything Jill's written on Paul Robeson, you are seriously missiong out.

The other day when I went over to A Fuse #8 Production and learned that author Tonya Hegamin was the 2010 Ezra Keats Award winner for Most Loved in All the World, I gave a little happy squeal.

Cozbi A. Cabrera is the illustrator of Most Loved in All the World. Hegamin and Cabrera were both featured in TheBrownbookshelf 28days later campaign.

Ali of Worducopia is hosting Diversity Roll Call this week. There's still time to do it.

The assignment is to do one of the following sometime in the next couple of weeks or so:

1) Take a look at the magazines or literary journals you read. If you don't read them, pick one up from the library just for the heck of it. Look at the ads, the photo spreads, the authors and subjects of the articles. Do people of color exist in the world this publication presents to its readers? How about gays, lesbians, or people with physical differences?

2) Do you know of a magazine or journal that does embrace diversity? Be it high brow or low brow, tell us about it. If you don't know of any, do a little digging. They've got to be out there.

Smile Raina Telgemeier

Smile by Raina Telgemeier
This is a laugh out loud, true story based off of the author's own experience. In Sixth grade Raina trips and fells after a girl scouts, damaging her two front teeth. One tooth falls out the gets jammed inside her gums. The story follows Raina's difficult journey to fixing her teeth, ending her sophomore in high school.

Smile is a graphic novel,a genre I don't read often. Sometimes I get confused about which bubble to read next and sometimes there's too much stimuli for me to process at once. Neither was the case with Smile, I absolutely loved all the images. Seeing the expressions on everyones face made me laugh that much more.

Raina is surrounded by a diverse group of characters, very fitting for a story set in San Francisco. Smile is one of those stories, I knew I was going to love as soon as I read after the first few pages. Raina has a younger sister who makes fun of her, friends who don't respect her, and she must deal with some serious dental drama. That all makes for one great read. ages 10 up
Read an excerpt

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Painting the Black Carl Deuker

Painting the Black by Carl Deuker
Baseball season is almost here. So I will be reviewing more baseball books. The first book I read by this author was Heart of a Champion. It was a few years ago and I loved it. Its one of the best middle grade baseball novels out. Deuker is one of the best sports novelist for young readers.

Ryan Ward loves the game of baseball. In middle school he was a very good player, after an injury he could no longer play. The novel begins with Ryan starting his senior year of high school. Ryan becomes friends with his new next door neighbor Josh, a senior an ace pitcher and quarter back. It's still summer break when the two meet. They get into a comfortable rhythm with Ryan becoming the accidental catcher so Josh can stay fresh. Ryan takes to his new position like a natural.

Josh is a very gifted athlete who gives off the impression that he is better then everyone else. The people around him feed into that, including Ryan.

"Ever since football season started, you've been a lost soul. You're always looking across the street, hoping to see Josh. You're totally wrapped up in him, but he's got no time for you. It's not healthy. " "Is all this because Josh backed out on the Seahawks game? Because I can explain that" "It's deeper than that, Ryan. It's always been there right from the day you met him. There's something in your voice when you talk about him - something I've never liked. It's like you think he's about you. Like you think he is doing you a favor by being your friend." "Listen , Dad, I am lucky he's my friend. Josh has greatness in him."

The author does a excellent job so study the dynamic of Ryan and Josh's friendship. As well as Ryan's insecurities. Deuker also touches upon the free passes male athletes are given when they win. With Josh as QB the schools football team has a winning season. In the lunchroom, the teacher turns the other way when the football players get a little too rowdy and begin to rate the female students. In the end Ryan, a well rounded character, must make a decision that may cost his team the championship. Like Heart of a Champion the action is spot and the story extends beyond the baseball field. ages 13up

Read an excerpt

Friday, February 26, 2010

Finnikin of the Rock Melina Marchetta

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
I love Marchetta's writing and my expectations are always very high. Though whenever I finish her latest, I realize they aren't high enough. Which each new book, there is always obivious growth, as a reader one of the things I appreciate about Marchetta's writing. Finnikin of the Rock is her first fantasy novel.
When Finnikin was 9 yrs old, he mixed his blood with his friends Prince Balthazar, and Lucian. The three promised to protect their kingdom of Lumatere. Before their oath Lumatere was a very blessed kingdom. Soon after its attacked the king and queen are killed. An unrecognized king seizes power. A curse is placed upon Lumatere. No one can enter or exit the kingdom. Families are torn aport. Many Lumatere's are at the mercy of other kingdoms. What happen is simply known as the five days of the unspeakable.

For the past 10 yrs Finnikin and his mentor Sir Topher have been traveling throughout the various kingdoms, visiting their displaced people recording their stories. When the novel begins the two are introduced to a young girl named Evanjalin who has taken a vow of silence. Evanjalin can lead them to the one person who can help restore order.

Finnikin's travelling party soon gets bigger. They must bring along young thief, so he doesn't sell them out for a few coins. For awhile I questioned the importance of this character to the story. Though I was wrong to doubt and I should've known better.
There are alot of characters in Finnikin of the Rock but everyone serves a purpose. This novel is so beautifully written. There are passages found myself revisiting again and again. I wish I had the words to express how much I loved Finnikin of the Rock. Though I will say its ridiculosly throw down good and a favorite read of 2010. Its another great example of a YA book that should not be missed because of placement. Good writing is good writing, no matter where its shelved.

First published in the authors home country of Australia. In 2008 it won the Aurealis Award for best Young Adult Fiction

Read a Q&A via the authors site.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Early Reviews - Share Your Thoughts

Is there some sort of time etiquette, regarding when to post reviews of ARCS? I was tempted to ask this question earlier in the year. In January I read Orlev's upcoming middle grade release The Song of the Whales. Its a beautiful and magical story. Set in Israel and has nothing to do with the Holocaust. I can't wait to talk about but I must (at least I think I do) because it doesn't come out until April.

I just finished another soon to be released middle grade book, that I loved. How I, Nicky Flynn, Finally Get a Life (and a Dog) by Corriveau. It comes out in May. This MG debut reminded me of Shusterman's The Schwa was Here

I think the release dates of these two titles are too far away for me to review. It makes sense for bloggers who have professionals like, librarians, teachers, book buyers as followers, to review books three or even six months in advance.

I believe anyone else ( me included) should try to post closer to the release date. Reviews too far in advance might be forgotten by the time the book comes out. Though I do think its okay to review books in a series early. So people can check out the other books before the new one is released.

I would love to hear what others think

A question for bloggers - If you review a book months in advance, do you remind your readers of it when the book is released?

A question for authors - Would you like to see reviews of your upcoming novels months in advance or would you rather they be closer to the release date?

Two questions for readers - Do you add early reviewed titles to your reading list? Do you pre-order?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Girl Who Fell From The Sky Heidi W. Durrow

The Girl Who Fell From The Sky by Heidi W. Durrow
This is Durrow's novel debut and the 2008 Bellwether Prize winner. This is a coming of age story of Rachel Morse, a brown skinned, blue eyed girl. Rachel's dad is a Black G.I. and her mom is Danish. After her parents divorce, the mom moves the family to Chicago.

Its 1982, 11 yr old Rachel is dealing with the tragic loss of her mom and siblings. She moves in with her grandmother (dad's mom ) in Texas. Everything begins to change. Around her parents, Rachel always knew who she was.

Now, Rachel is continuously questioned about who or what she is. People are always comment on her blue eyes. The Black girls in class ignore and threaten her. Rachel's grandmother tells to stay out of the sun, so she won't get any darker.

There is a wonderful smoothness to Durrow's writing style. I loved many things about it, including her ability to get across Rachel trying to come to terms with how the world sees her.
The chapters alternate between Rachel, Brick a boy who witnessed the tragic event in Chicago, and Laronne, the mom's former boss. Through these characters, we learn what led up to the tragic event in Chicago. The Girl Who Fell From the Sky is very well done and beautifully sad at times. Rachel Morse is going to stay with me for long time.

In the future other characters will be compared to Rachel Morse. Hopefully sooner rather than later. The world needs more three dimensional mixed raced characters, that deal with identity. This novel could have easily been classifiled as Young Adult. It would make a wonderful book club selection. There are many themes to be discussed including race, culture, identity, and love. Ages 15up

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Heist Society Ally Carter

Heist Society by Ally Carter
Katrina (Kat) Bishop was born into a family of thieves. It's the only life she has ever known. Kat wants to try living a regular one. She enrolls into an exclusive high school and is soon kicked out.

Kat returns to what she know best but this time its to save her dad's life. Five priceless paintings have been stolen from Arturo Taccone, a man not to be messed with. Arturo believes Kat's dad has the paintings. She has two weeks to find the real thief and steal the paintings back. Kat puts together a team of young talented thieves to get the job done. With Kat in charge, I was reminded of E. Lockhart's The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. Two very different stories but both feature strong and smart female protagonist in a leadership roll that's usually reserved for those with a Y chromosome. Making them both great reads for March aka Woman's History Month

Carter showed the many sides of Kat and I loved what I saw. I was sold on Kat Bishop. I believed she was the daughter of professional thieves and that it ran in her blood. The author surrounded Kat with some wonderful characters. The conversations between Kat and Arturo are so well done.

This was very good and oh so much fun. It was entertaining, exciting, well written, action filled and such pleasure to read. I loved every word and didn't want to put it down. Toward the end something unexpected happened, it made me appreciate Heist Society that much more.
Ages 11 up

I didn't do this book justice so check out the an excerpt via the authors blog.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Scarlett Fever Maureen Johnson

Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson
This is the second book in the Suite Scarlett. I was really looking forward to reading this one and my expectations were high. I was not disappointed. Scarlett Fever continues where Suite Scarlett left off. Johnson wrote this follow up in such a way, that it can still be enjoyed without having read the first one. Though I highly recommend starting from the beginning. Its too good to miss.

Scarlett's family, the Martins own and run The Hopewell hotel in Manhattan. Summer is over, and its the end of Hamlet production starring Scarlett's big brother Spencer that was staged in the hotel. Scarlett's friends will be returning from their summer travels. The Martins may own a Hotel but they are not rich or even well to do, more like keeping their heads above water. (at least they don't have to worry about temporary lay offs)

Scarlett is doing her best to get over Eric, an actor who worked with Spencer. Her days are filled with school and her new job assisting Mrs. Amberson, a former Hopewell guest turned agent. Scarlett's life gets complicated when 15 yr old Chelsea becomes Mrs. Amberson second client, thanks to her brother Max.

I love the rhythm of Johnson's writing, it follows its own beat. There is much going on with Scarlett's family but it never seems like too much. I enjoy the fact that this is Scarlett's story but Johnson includes the whole family. There are for Martin children. Spencer, Lola, Scarlett and Marlene. Johnson takes the time to develop all of the siblings and explore all of the relationships.

From the beginning it's clear that Martin's don't have much money. Usually, YA novels especially those set in New York, the characters don't worry about money. So Scarlett's concern about having the finances to hang out with her friends and paying for college, was a very nice realistic inclusion. Ages 13up

Read an excerpt

The Heaven Trilogy Angela Johnson

The First Part Last by Angela Johnson
I've heard for years that The First Part Last and Heaven by Johnson are beautifully crafted. With the coming release of Sweet, Hereafter (now on sale), the final book in the Heaven trilogy, it was time I finally read the first two books.

Heaven, was published first but I started with The First Part Last. The order in which these two books are read doesn't matter. Johnson's writing hooked me from the first page. I read The First Part Last in one sitting.

On his 16th birthday, Bobby's girlfriend Nia tells him she is pregnant. The novel looks at teenage pregnancy from the boys point of view. Many things contributed to the beauty of this story, one is Johnson's less is more approach. Only 131 pages and it hits as hard as a book twice its size, maybe more so - there is a reason and a need for every word. And oh my the ending. I was not prepared. No one told me there would be tears. By I time I figured out was going on it was too late, Johnson had already captured my heart.

I picked up Johnson's Heaven a day later. 14 yr old Marley, lives in a small town called Heaven, OH. We get to know Heaven through Marley. Her voice is beautiful, sweet, questioning, and authentic. Like The First Part Last, I read it in one sitting.

Now I am very excited about Sweet, Hereafter , it was released in January. When I saw it in the store, I let out a high happy squeal, because now I know there is some sweet goodness inside.

An excerpt of The First Part Last, an excerpt of Heaven, an excerpt of Sweet, Hereafter. I am not going to take the time to link to three excerpts if I merely liked these books. I got nothing but love for Johnson's Heaven Trilogy.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Goodbye Lucille Clifton, Cybils Winners, Haiti and More

Poet and children's author Lucille Clifton died on Saturday February 13th. Lucille Clifton was one of the first female Black poets I read. She will always hold a special place in my readers heart. I didn't know she was the only author to have two books nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in the same year, 1987. That takes some serious skill.

Checkout Hear Me Sing, a teen who goes by the name Miss Elizabeth Bennett shares her poems. Please delurk and leave a comment because the children are our future.

The first thing I did when I got online tonight, checkout the Cybils winners. I love the Children's and Young Adult Blogger's Literary Award.

The rules are explained from the beginning and its an open process. Much congrats to the Cybils winners. Thank you to the bloggers who signed on as panelists and judges.

I recently interviewed YA author Debbie Rigaud about her debut novel Perfect Shot. She answered a few questions about Haiti as well. Check it out at Color Online. And thanks Debbie and Jennifer Echols author of The Ex Games for quickly signing on to get Sports and Boys or S&B into YA Speak.

I did a guest post at YA author Justine Larbelestier blog. Its about books being television shows. The guest blogger who gets the most comments wins a prize. (just kidding)

Edi, a high school librarian, wrote a critical review of Irene Latham's Leaving Gee's Bend at her blog Crazy Quilts. Its worth reading. Who we are and our experiences influence how we see a book and its characters. Latham's debut novel is a great example of that. There seems to be a blogger racial review divide with this middle grade novel. Before reading Leaving Gee's Bend, I read a lot of positive reviews by White bloggers. Like Edi, I was unimpressed. I hope when people read Leaving Gee's Bend they with consider the critics and praise. When given the opportunity readers should take into consideration other points of view. I think that makes for a stronger more active reader.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

An Interview With Debbie Rigaud

In December, I read and reviewed Perfect Shot by Debbie Rigaud. Perfect Shot was everything it should've been, entertaining and page turning good. It was so nice to read a contemporary YA romance with Black characters. When I asked Debbie Rigaud for an interview, she was kind enough to say yes.

Before, I sent off my questions, I did extensive research (author's blog). I learned that Debbie Rigaud is a Haitian American, and wrote an essay in Transculturalism edited by Claude Grunitzky. The collection was published in 2004. Rigaud's essay is about what it meant to have Haitian roots growing up in America. As well as Haiti's fight for independence.

I asked Debbie a few questions about the essay and Haiti in general. I felt talk about Haiti deserved its own space. I will post that soon, either here or at Color Online.

Hi- Debbie. Please tell us, a little about yourself? And Perfect Shot?

:-) Gladly. I am a magazine writer/editor turned YA Author. I was raised in Jersey (born in NYC) and currently live abroad in Bermuda, thanks to my hubby's job. My first piece of YA fiction was a novella published in the Kimani Tru anthology titled Hallway Diaries .

Perfect Shot is my solo debut. It's a Simon Pulse romantic comedy about a sporty girl who signs up for a modeling contest just to catch the eye of the cute contest intern collecting applications.

Aside from being about the wacky things we do when under the spell of a crush, Perfect Shot is also about challenging ourselves to step outside of our comfort zones. I had so much fun writing it.

With African American YA novels being pigeonholed, did you ever feel discouraged from writing Perfect Shot?

Not at all. Granted, I am sensitive to the fact that it's not an easy path, thanks to certain publisher's perception that a book featuring Black protagonists cannot be a commercial success.

But the fact is, I felt encouraged because of my desire to offer African-American teens and young readers in general, stories that more closely reflect their multicultural experiences.

Plus, my background in magazine publishing provided the perfect training for pitching diverse stories to mainstream gatekeepers. I remember, and this was 10 years ago-- feeling triumphant when my piece about double Dutch as a competitive sport made it into Seventeen magazine. It was like, YES!

Are you a better turner or jumper?

If I had to choose, I think I'm slightly better at jumping. I just love everything about double Dutch. A few years back, I pulled my car over when I saw a few teens jumping double Dutch in the street. I asked them if they'd let me turn so that I can get to jump next. They did. And it was funny, because a few minutes later, another woman my age also pulled over and asked if she could join in. I recognized that same nostalgic look in her eyes.

I thought you found a great balance between laughter and romance. How much of that was revision and how much was editor input?

I'm so glad you appreciated the humor. I always wonder if I get too carried away with the jokes, but that's the way my mind works sometimes. My editor Michael del Rosario was awesome. But he was more instrumental in encouraging me to rev up the conflict throughout the story.

I admit that I was mindful of being the first African-American author in the series. At first, I avoided writing scenes that I thought might reinforce stereotypes about aggression in our community, and I think this showed in my first draft. Michael helped me strike that right balance.

I didn't just appreciate the humor, I loved it. As much as I enjoy YA literature there needs to be more diverse stories told with characters of color. Sometimes I get a serious urge to lose myself in a contemporary YA novel with characters of color. While I was reading Perfect Shot (and laughing) I couldn't help but think I want more of this.

Debbie, do you think there will come a time, when you will get tired of people referring to you as the first Black author of a Simon Pulse's
romantic comedy novel?

Well, in a perfect world, I'd like to just be known as a good writer for the Simon Pulse Romantic Comedies. But I'm aware of the milestone. And if it can make things less difficult for others who follow, than that's a title I accept.

Tell us a little about London't best friend Pam? HDQ, and their friendship.

One suggestion my editor made after reading my first draft was, More Pam! From the feedback lots of readers adore London's bff. Pam is a style blogger who has a flair for the dramatics, thanks to her HDQ or Haitian Drama Queen? leanings. (Spend one evening with my hilariously theatrical family and you?ll understand why I was inspired to create a character like Pam.)

As a friend, Pam is the best road dog a girl can ask for. A healthy risk-taker, she was instrumental in getting London to seize her moment by doing something unexpected to meet Brent. London and Pam make a great team because they accept and support each other wholeheartedl. HDQ tendencies and all.

Pam was great. Many romantic comedies are ruined for me because the bestfriend comes across as annoying, mean or spiteful. Pam was nothing but supportive. When the novel opens, the two have part time jobs at Art Attack. As someone who works in retail I found London's inner monologues at the register very funny. Did you do retail time? If so where?

Yes, I did. Lots of it. In high school I worked at Mandee's, the clothing store. Interestingly enough, after a customer complained that there were no Black girls on register, my manager marched right up to me and said, "You, Debbie--you're on register." I remember thinking, Why me?

London is a very likable and well developed character. I appreciated that you took the time to mention her awkward middle school years, when she wasn't comfortable with her height and was called names like giraffe. How tall are you? Is London's middle school experience mirrored after your own?

You got me. By the 7th grade, I had already reached my full adult height of 5'6", so I was dubbed too tall. So yes, to a certain extent, London's middle school experiences as the awkwardly tall, lanky girl mirrored my own. But as I developed her character, London grew into her own person.

It's interesting how that happens. You start off having definite ideas about a certain character, then as you write, a different person than you'd imagined takes shape. In the end, London and I are different. If only I could stand up to confrontation or boldly compete in the way that she does.

London was pretty serious on the volleyball court. She also held her own in the modeling competition. If Tyra Banks ever runs out of ideas for Next Top Model challenges, she should give you a call.

Debbie - I need your help. I really want Sport & Boys click lit or (S&B)chick lit to become a part of the YA vernacular. So the next time you talkabout Perfect Shot can you slip that in. Can you ask Jennifer Echols who wrote The Ex Games ,another S&S romantic comedy author to do the same?

I'll be happy to spread the word about S&B lit. And I'm honored to even be mentioned alongside cool S&B chick lit authors like Jennifer Echols.

I like how you slipped in S&B all nice and easy in your answer. Do more of that.

Are you working on anything now?

Yes. I'm working on another YA romantic comedy, as well as a story about a Haitian-American girl trying to break from her sheltered life. I'm really into paranormal stories, so that's a project I also plan to complete this year.

Will we see London and Pam again?

Now that you mention it, revisiting London and Pam would be awesome. It's the perfect excuse to write another S&B chick lit story!

What 2010 novels are you looking forward to?

So many. The next on my (very long) reading list is 8th Grade Super Zero by Olugbemisola Ruday-Perkovich. Looking ahead, there's Mitali Perkins? The Bamboo People, Saving Maddie by Varian Johnson, Endless Summer by Jennifer Echols, and The Mark by Jen Nadol sounds interesting.

Debbie, I wish you much success. Perfect Shot is a wonderful read. I hope it finds it way into the hands of many readers.

Thank you so much, Doret! I am beyond thrilled that you and so many readers appreciated Perfect Shot. It's such a tremendous encouragement.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Letting go of Bobby James Valerie Hobbs

Letting go of Bobby James by Valerie Hobbs16yr old Sally Jo (Jody) Walker is newly married to Bobby James. The two are away from their hometown of Purley, Texas, when Bobby James hits Jody for the first time. The next day he leaves Jody behind in a gas station with only $20 to her name. Rather then run back home, Jody finds her way to Jackson Beach, Florida. Jody's voice is sweet, honest, direct, real . I was quickly taken in with Jody's writing a letter to Mr. Harris Teeter.

"This is about the coleslaw. But first, I would like to take this opportunity to tell you how much we enjoyed the fine convenience of your food market in Perdido, Florida. Like I said to Bobby James, the coleslaw is probably just an oversight on your part. Still, I thought you'd want to hear about it. Bobby James said not to bother. An important personage like yourself would not take the time to read a letter from a plain out customer, he said. That was when I showed him your color ad in the Perdido News Press. Harris Teeter is waiting to hear from you."

In Florida, Jody finds a job and makes some friends. She thinks about her mother's marriage to her abusive father and her own relationship.

"Sometimes I thought I was stronger than my mama, that I would never let a man like daddy knock the fight out of me. Other times, I was not so sure. If I was back in Purley? And Bobby James came courting like he wasn't already a married man, with all those sweet promises and smelling like fresh aftershave? Well, I just didn't know for sure if I could turn him away. That was the shamefilled truth of it. Before I went back to Purley, I was going to have to find the strength in me. I didn't know exactly where to find it, or if I would know when I had it, but one thing was for sure. Letting go of Bobby James was for a reason. That morning in the Econo, I had listened to a voice deep inside me that I knew was the truth. It was only small then. It had been hiding behind Willie Nelson's words, whispering for me to stay put in the ladies. I figured when that voice got big enough to yell in my ear, well that was when I would have all my strength."

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Map of Home Randa Jarrar

A Map of Home by Randa Jarrar
I heard about this book over at Becker's blog Dwelling in Possibility This is one of the best coming of age stories I've read in a long time. Nidali was born in the 1970's in America to an Egyptain Greek mother and Palestinian father. Soon after her birth the family moves to Kuwait.

We hear Nidali's distinct, funny, truthful (sometimes with four letter words) from the beginning. She even tells the story of her birth. A Map of Home was such a pleasure to read. Jarrar's writing pulled me in quickly and she made me laugh.

Nidali's, her father didn't wait to find out her sex before he put a name on the birth certificate.

"Baba's brow furrowed, and Mama couldn't finish her complaint, because, eager to correct his mistake, Baba was already out the door and running down the white -tiled hallway, past new mothers and their red -faced babies, past hideous robes in uncalled for patterns, bypassing the elevator, and sliding down the banister of the staircase, landing smack on his balls at the end of it. But he raced on, doubtlessly feared by the hospital's patients and nurses who saw an enormous mustache with limping legs, which, upon its arrival at its destination, was screaming for Rhonda, where is Rhonda, help me Rhonda, an outcry that provided the staff with three weeks worth of endless laughter and snickering."

Several professional views including starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly via the author's site

Friday, February 5, 2010

Millicent Min, Girl Genius Lisa Yee

Millicent Min, Girl Genius by Lisa Yee
A few months back I read my first Lisa Yee novel Bobby vs. Girls (Accidentally) . I loved Bobby voice and wanted more Yee. So I decided to read her first novel Millicent Min, Girl Genius. I am so happy I finally read this book. I loved it.

11yr old Millicent Min has just completed her junior year of high school. Millicent is not having the best summer. Her parents will only let her take one college course. They signed Millicent up for volleyball. She must tutor her archenemy Standford Wong. Her grandmother and best friend is moving.

Millicent Min is just this little girl who happens to be a genius. Her voice was spot on good. I loved it. I am about to make a strange literary comparison . Millicent Min's voice reminded me of Ignatius voice from A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.

Read an excerpts, reviews and awards via Arthur A. Levine Books.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Macmillan Books Buy New Not Used

If you haven't heard yet, Amazon and Macmillan publishers are feuding about the price of ebooks. Amazon wants to sell Macmillan ebooks at around 9.99 price point - Macmillan wants Amazon to sell their ebooks for around $15.00 I first learned about it at Charoltte's Library Amazon has stopped selling Macmillan books. Macmillan has many imprints including ten for children.. If you search Amazon for any Macmillian titles they will come up out of print.

I had a customer called for a novel by sci fi author Robert Jordan. The customer said he tried amazon first but all of Jordan's titles were coming up out of print. After the customer said that, I looked at the inside flap and sure enough Jordan is published by Tor a Macmillan imprint.

I don't know what the outcome of this will be but Amazon pulling the Macmillan titles is a crappy and bully move. If you want to understand what's going between Amazon and Macmillan I highly recommend reading a few of sci fi author John Scalzi recent posts, like this one (it has great links and updates) Don't miss the comments

I will use this as an excuse to highlight a few children's titles published by Macmillan imprints that I loved.

Zac Power by H.I. Larry -Its so hard to find stories for early readers that feature boys this is great one. Reluctant readers will love it.

Fairy School Dropout by Meredith Badger - I love this title and its a pleasure to handsell because I know girls are going to love it.

My Aussie reader love now extends beyond YA to younger books thanks to H.I. Larry and Meredith Badger

Spellbinder by Helen Springer - This book was oh so good, and I have a serious reading weakness for a main character who can talk to ghost. I loved the friendship between the three main characters. A girl, a boy and a ghost girl.

Six Innings by James Preller - This is one of the best middle grade baseball books out. If its one thing I know its baseball books. A kid who hates to read but loves baseball and plays little league will love this book.

Soccer Chick Rules by Dawn FitzGerald- This was one of my favorite girl sports finds of 2009. Girls who love Meg Cabot and enjoy playing on their field of choice will love it.

The Dog Whisperer by Nicholas Edwards - This was such a great read. I loved the protagonist. You don't often see a character of color let alone a biracial one as the main character of animal story, let alone a series. (hopefully) It feels like its suppose to be a series at the end. I love this cover, look at the pretty born to model dog (aww).

The Cabinet of Wonders by Marie Rutkoski - This is a must for fantasy fans. The writing is simply beautiful. I loved it.

Blessing's Bead by Debby Dahl Edwardson - This one has a quiet beauty

Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev - This was one my favorite books of 2009. The book is as good as the cover is beautiful. I love the cover.

Lockdown by Alexander Gorden Smith - This book gave me so much more than I expected. The main character Alex was one of my favorite male protagonist of 2009.

Hot Girl by Dream Jordan I really enjoyed this book and I loved the main character, Kate. A must read fan's of Coe Booth.

Upstate by Kalisha Buckhanon - I loved this novel so much. There are only a handful of YA urban fiction I think are well written. Upstate is at the top of that list. As with Hot Girl fan's of Coe Booth will love it.

Claudette Colvin : Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose - One of my favorite biographies of 2009

Letting Go of Bobby James by Valerie Hobbs - I am right in the middle of this book. 16 yr old Sally Jo, has just been hit and left by her husband at a gas station in Florida. Sally Jo voice is very honest, sweet, direct and real.

Ari's waiting on The Firefly Letters by Margarita Engle.Its a beautiful cover.

I've linked all of these titles directly to the publisher's site. Excerpts are available for most of these books. So if anything sounds interesting do check it out. All of these titles can be purchased directly from Macmillan. Though you can also shop online at Powell's or better yet spend your money where you feel welcome and support your local bookstore.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Black History Month + Links

So its February. That means Black History Month. I was really contemplating not doing a post. Books with Black characters and by Black authors are a constant content here but I had some links to share. Though first I want to say, I don't think heritage month should still be around. Dr Carter G Woodson came up with the idea to recognize and celebrate the work of many people who would otherwise be forgotten. Heritage months should have been stepping stones to change, to including the contributions of all into everyday lessons.

Two things I like about Black History Month are the T.V. specials be it interviews, documentaries or Black cinema classics like the Five Heartbeats, and commercials with well to do Black people. Though I would give up Black History Month without a second thought if there were more balance in the everyday. But we are not there yet, so Heritage Months will continue.

Over at Papertigers, a great mutlicutural children's blog, they are launching a new project today called The Spirit of PaperTigers Project

Today we are thrilled to be announcing our Spirit of PaperTigers Project, an initiative of Pacific Rim Voices, whose aim is to promote literacy while raising awareness of our common humanity. The idea is to donate 100 book sets of 7 carefully selected multicultural books to libraries and schools in areas of need across the globe.

The central criterion in the mind of the selection panel was to give special recognition to books that, in addition to meeting conventional standards for excellence, will also contribute to PaperTigers’ broader aims of bridging cultures and opening minds, and of promoting greater understanding and empathy among young people from different backgrounds, countries, and ethnicities. Another criterion was that books selected had to be in English, or bilingual publications where one of the two languages is English.

Over at TheBrownBookshelf its time for 28 days later again. Upcoming and well estalished Black authors and illustrators are interviewed thoughout the month. Its a must see.

One author that will be taking part in 28 days later is M. LaVora Perry. The author is also working on another important project.

Forest Hill Publishing is launching a book of stories from transplant survivors and donors of color. We are well aware that people of color represent a disproportionately high number of patients who need organ transplants—and die because they did not receive them—and a disproportionately low number of people who serve as organ and tissue donors.

Our hope is that our book will inspire many more people of color to become donors and save lives.

One blog that I love to check every Tuesday is White Readers Meet Black Authors run by author Carleen Brice. If you want to start reading more books by Black authors and you don't know where to begin, start here.

Brice has two great novels out now Orange Mint and Honey and Children of the Waters . Part of the beauty in both novels comes from the strength in the characters and their relationship. Both novels are in paperback and would make a great book club selection.

Speaking of book club. Brice's Children of the Waters novel will be Color Online's First Book Club Selection on Friday February 5, hosted by Terri.

Orange Mint and Honey has been turn into a lifetime movie called Sins of the Mother starring Jill Scott - It will premiere Sunday February 21, at 8 pm

I plan to use Black History Month as an excuse to sneak in some reviews of adult fiction by Black authors. I may not like the fact that Black History Month is still needed, but I will use it.

Do check out a list of Black children's books It was made in 2008 but it has been updated and I will do so again soon.

Eva- of A Striped Armchair, did a wonderful on so many levels, 2009 wrap up of books read and where they took her around the globe. Its a must see .If everyone travelled half that much there would be no need for Heritage Months.