Saturday, January 29, 2011

Food, Girls, And Other Things I Can't Have - Allen Zadoff

Food, Girls, And Other Things I Can't Have by Allen Zadoff
15 yr old Andy Zansky weighed 307, when the new school year begins, he's down to 306.4 pounds. He's in model UN with his best friend Eytan. Andy doesn't like model UN, but figures its an after school activity someone like him should do. His parents are separated. Andy and Jessica his younger sister live with their mother.

I've heard a lot about this book, and I am so glad I finally read it. I loved Andy's voice.

"God went on vacation my first week of school. There's no other explanation. Here's the bright side. April looks good in gym clothes. Really good. When she turns, I see the outline of her bra through her T-shirt. It takes my breath away, and I didn't have much breath to start with. April glances in my direction, without thinking, I speed up. It makes no sense for a guy who can barely run to run even faster, but my body does it automatically. It's like it doesn't give a crap what it can and can't do. When it sees April, it tosses out the rules and starts hauling ass."

To impress, April a new girl, Andy decides to make some changes. He uses his weight to his advantages and goes out for football. After making the team Andy believes everything will turn around for him. Soon Andy is hanging out with O, the quarterback and the most popular kid in school.

I really enjoyed reading a YA novel that isn't set in an all White H.S. Food, Girls and Other Things I Can't Have is a great story with a wonderful twist

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Latte Rebellion - Sarah Jamila Stevenson

The Latte Rebellion by Sarah Jamila Stevenson
Best friends Asha Jamison and Carey Wong, senior year and friendship are threatened after an inappropriate joke at a pool party. Roger Yee, a classmates calls Asha a towel head. Asha and Carey are tired of the misconception and inappropriate remarks of their peers.

"The heat rose behind my cheeks, my head filling with any number of things I could tell her. Carey is not Japanese. And J. Lo. is not from Mexico - she's a Puerto Rican American. This is not even close to the same thing. There are these things called maps; you should look at one. And, am I dreaming or did you just say my butt was big? But in the end, I didn't say any of it. It seemed futile. Kaelyn just didn't get it. Maybe she really did think she was paying us a compliment."

The two decide to start a business selling T-shirts. They call it Latte Rebellion, for their love of Lattes and multiethnic people, who come in many shades of Brown. Soon Asha decides she wants to do more then sell T-Shirts. When everything gets too big it leads to unexpected trouble for Asha

The story alternates between Asha hearing in front of the school disciplinary board and the beginnings of the Latte Rebellion. This really worked for me, I liked being able to see Asha in both situations. Its obvious that the Asha in front of the school board is very different from the one who started the Latte Rebellion. Though I wish the author's transitions were smoother. They were too abrupt and early for me. There were many times when I felt a scene could've been developed more.

I enjoyed The Latte Rebellion but was also frustrated it. As good as it is, I don't think it reached it's full potential. The author's writing is good. I kept reading because of Asha. She was a great character, I couldn't help but care about her. Though I wish Stevenson's editor would've challenged her to flush out and develop her characters and storylines more.

I still found this a very worth while read, there's a lot here. I believe Asha got in so much trouble partly because of one word- Rebellion. To her it meant change. To her school board it meant - threat. It because of things like that I think this would make an excellent book club selection. Also it doesn't hurt that Asha remembers to have fun while taking up the cause of the Latte Rebellion. An excerpt

The sayings in italics would've made great Latte Rebllion T-Shirts.

"Yeah, here's an idea," Carey said, a little sarcastically. " We could print instructive T-shirts that say, No I am not Mexican. Neither is J. Lo. Thanks for asking"

"One of the ideas the Latte Rebellion posed early on was "ask not what the brown can do for you, but what you can do for the brown. "

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Fourth Stall - Chris Rylander

The Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander
Christian who goes by the nickname Mac runs a business in school, helping other students out with this problems. Vince is Mac's best friend and partner. Mac's office is the fourth Stall in East Wings boys bathroom. Mac has built a name for himself and does great business. Everything is threatened when Mac learns that Staples, a high school crime boss is setting up business at his school.

There are a few other (not many) very fun middle grade novels in the same vein as The Fourth Stall. Though this one stands apart because Mac isn't all that good. Mac will help other students get answers to test or sneak into PG 13 movies. After Mac said in his business he helped other students cheat, I was like uh-oh. Though then I remembered its fun to read about a character who would do something you would never do. Mac is definitely the good guy here. He's a great friend to Vince and listens to his parents.

Mac must figure out a way to get Staples operation in his school closed down. He is forced to ask the school bullies for help. One of the books strengths is back information. Mac, outlines all nine bullies, from Nubby to Kitten the top bully. Also in the beginning Mac explains how he came to acquire the fourth stall as his office. The explanation fit smoothly into the story and made sense.

Rylander tells a good and entertaining story. Some of it, like high school students going to war with middle grade students is a bit over the top. Though Mac's likability and his friendship with Vince keeps it grounded. Mac and Vince love the Chicago Cubs. They do their best to stump each other with Cubs trivia.

My favorite small character was Tyrell, the schools best spy. Mac only uses his services when he has no other choice. When Mac realizes there's one of his people is giving Staples insider information, he calls on Tyrell.

When I first saw the cover of The Fourth Stall, I thought it was something I would enjoy. I was right. This is a great suggestion for fans of Grief Carver, Hallway Patrol by Jim Krieg, The Big Splash by Jack D. Ferraiolo or Half Moon Investigations by Eoin Colfer

Monday, January 24, 2011

Salytypie - Tim Tingle, Karen Clarkson

Saltypie: A Choctaw Journey from Darkess to Light by Tim Tingle illus. by Karen Clarkson

Tingle shares a family story that begins in 1915. When Tingle's father was almost two years old, the family moved Oklahoma to Pasadena Texas. One day someone threw a stone cutting the face of Tingle's grandmother.

"My father was two at the time. He ran to see his mother sitting on the floor, her hand covering her face. It looked like the peep-eye game to him. He crawled into her lap and saw shiny red liquid squishing from between her fingertips. It reminded him of sweet cherry pie filling, bubbling up from the criss cross crust of Mawmaw's pies. He reached to her face to get a taste of it, then touched his fingertip to his lips. "Saltypie!" he said, spitting as he said it. " Saltypie!"

That rock may have caused Tingle's grandmother to lose her sight. Though he didn't realize she was blind until he was six years old. In 1970 the family gathered at the hospital. Tingle's grandmother was having surgery to fix her eyesight.

I loved Tingle's straight forward approach. Many times I was moved by his beautiful words.

" A quiet but remarkable change occurred in the room. The light streaming through the window took on a copper glow, floating above the green waiting room carpet. It reminded me of the late afternoon sun in Mawmaw's backyard. The spirit of who we were as a Choctaw family was coming alive in the room. We could almost hear the cicada hum their night music in the Choctaw river bottoms of years ago. The stories continued, but there were fewer words now and much silent nodding. Many heads bowed to the moment."

Clarkson's illustrations bring Tingle's family to life. Saltypie is a very beautiful book, textually and visually. Tingle's afterword is just as good. With so few American Indian children's authors, its as important as the story.

In "How Much Can We Tell Them?" Talks about his family and touches upon many stereotypes American Indian's face and what people can do to stop them. An excerpt

I've linked this post to Non Fiction Monday. This week its being hosted by Mary Ann over at Great Kids Books.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Online African American Read In (Updated)

On Monday, I announced an online African American Read In, I would be doing with Edi from Crazy Quilts and Ari from Reading in Color. Everyone had until Friday to head over to Ari's to vote for one of six YA novel to discussed.

We've settled on President's day weekend. The Read In will be on Sunday Feb 20th. Stay tuned for more details.

The Six
Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves

Jumped by Rita Williams Garcia

Tyrell by Coe Booth

A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott

When the Black Girl Sings by Bil Wright

Yummy by G. Neri

61 people voted (thank you) and a book was selected by just one vote. If only 30 people participate in the Read In, I will be happy. If only 15 people seek out more then one title on this list, I will be happy. Though in an effort to increase both of those numbers, I will take a moment to do one of my favorite things, talk up great books.

Jumped by Williams Garcia - is a rhythmically beautiful story, that alternates between three high school girls; Leticia, Dominique and Trina. The author uses the less in more approach with her words. Every word and comma has a purpose. Its a well crafted and very believable story. Jumped was published in 2009 and was a National Book Award Finalist. An excerpt

Tyrell by Booth* - I read this when it first came out in 07. Its still makes me very happy when I get a chance to recommend Tyrell. I don't know what I liked more Booth's writing or Tyrell himself. Either way I am really looking forward to the sequel, Bronxwood which is scheduled to be released in September. An excerpt

A Wish After Midnight by Elliott - 15 yr old Genna loves to makes wishes in the Brooklyn Botatical Gardens, one night a midnight wish lands her back in Civil War - Brooklyn. Please don't confuse this as just another civil war story. Its the first YA novel to mention the NY Draft Riots. More importantly its about Genna, a well developed character, that I had no choice but to care about. Elliot's writing has a beautiful purpose from the very beginning. An excerpt

When the Black Girl Sings by Wright - This one I haven't read. (shocking I know) Ari gave it a 4 out 5. An excerpt

I also really liked the gospel choir aspect of the book. The imagery described. I could see (and honestly I felt like I could hear) the gospel choir, see the church, Lahni, her parents. Nicely detailed. Onyx 1 was scarily creepy (gotta read to find out who that is!) and sometimes I wanted to smack Donna or just laugh at her. This novel was sweet and just plain wonderful.

Yummy by Neri - I think its very fitting that this is one of the six. Since Ari, Edi and I did a group interview with the author about Yummy. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 All I can say about Yummy is believe the hype. Yummy is as powerful as people say it is. An excerpt

The people have voted, we will be reading Bleeding Violet by Reeves
This was one of my favorite novels last year. Its crazy and beautifully strange. This is a great excuse to read it again. I love that Bleeding Violet is so far from the pigeonholed idea of what is good YA with Black characters or in this case biracial characters by Black authors is . Reeves used her Portero key* to escape that awful box. An excerpt

We've established the What - Bleeding Violet. We hope the Who will be greater then 61. We know part of the When - Feb. We will get back to you very soon with the rest of the When and the Where. And of course the Why is we love YA literature and diversity.

According to the two books that got the must votes, Bleeding Violet and A Wish After Midnight, half the people who voted didn't get the memo; Black characters and fantasy do not mix.

I want to take a moment to thank Booth for stopping by and voting for Yummy
If your confused about this key reference, you won't be after you join us for the Read In

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Stone Soup Saturday

Artist Rafeal Lopez created U.S. postal stamps celebrating Latin American Music Legends
I am passionate about Latin music as it has fueled my work for decades. As a child growing up in Mexico City I was lucky to study guitar and South American instruments like the quena and cuatro with Folklorista Gerardo Tamez. My uncle had a musical radio program at UNAM that introduced folk and protest music from Latin America. I grew up in a household where my architect parents constantly played instruments and sang music. We were always dancing and I can't bring myself to paint without music.

What an honor it is for me to tell you more about these extraordinary legends and the process of creating stamps to celebrate their contributions. I'm proud of Latin music because it is essential in communicating the spirit of our culture. I have to agree that Latinos are born with rhythm. These five dynamic individuals continue to inspire future generations of musicians. I hoped to paint portraits that would resonate for their families and fans. I felt compelled to give it all I had as an artist to communicate the essence of these legends, their spirit, style and sound.

The stamps will be available in February. Also coming out next month is Samantha R. Vamos newest picture book The Cazuela that the Farm Maiden Stirred illus. by Rafael Lopez

In Celebration of African American History Month, RIF is having a live broadcast of Moon Over Star by Diana Hutts Aston illus. by Jerry Pinkney on February 8th

Join RIF for the next RIF LIVE broadcast at 1:30 p.m. (ET) on Tuesday, February 8, in celebration of African American History Month. Leland Melvin, NASA’s Associate Administrator of Education and a former astronaut, will share his experiences traveling in space and read aloud The Moon Over Star.

The online broadcast will happen in real time on the RIF LIVE page so you will be able to ask questions via a chat feature or by email.

Over at The Brown Bookshelf they have announced the authors and illustrators to be featured for the 4th annual 28days later campaign

YA author Debbie Riguad shares an aunt's joke as she remembers the one year anniversary of the major earthquake that hit Haiti.

This new year marks the first anniversary of the devastating earthquake that rattled our family hometown of Port-au-Prince to its core. So on January 1st as I was issued Evelyne’s customary “A pye nou ye” greeting, I heard the echo of something entirely different. To me, the phrase echoed of Haiti’s slow recovery process. Oftentimes, it seems that Recovery is traveling “on foot” up a steep and slippery hill. The people in the affected areas in and around the captiol seem like weary travelers stripped down to their slowest mode of transportation—walking.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Jazz in Love - Neesha Meminger

Jazz in Love by Neesha Meminger
17 yr old Jasbir (Jazz) is very good student and in her schools, Future Stars and Leaders program. When Jazz's mom learns through the Indian community grapevine that she was hugging a boy in public, Jazz's parents begin to play matchmaker. They want to find a parent approved boyfriend who will of course be Indian, preferably with Punjab roots.

This sounds more serious then it really is. Don't get me wrong I like serious but sometimes it nice to read something fun that's hard to put down with just the right amount of substance. That's exactly what Meminger's give us with Jazz in Love.

Jazz doesn't want to go on blind dates arranged by her parents but she has no choice. In the process Jazz meets Gurmit (Mit). He trust Jazz to keep his secret, he also likes boys.

Tyler R. a new student from Trinidad catches Jazz's eye. Jazz's parents would not approve, that doesn't stop her. When Jazz realizes Tyler R. is bad news she still can't stay away.

Jazz is a very likable and well drawn character. I loved her voice. She likes romance novels. This one my favorite things about Jazz because its so unexpected.

I walked up the stairs to my room, and stuck my head out to listen to my dad's snoring for a minute before pulling out my latest romance novel. If my parents ever got a glimpse of one of those book covers- ample -bosom cleavage and hard bronzed pecs galore- they would immediately book me a one way ticket to India to straighten me out. No, thank you. Romance novels got smuggled into my house with secret-agent, espionage-level security.

I love that Jazz's parents have blue collar jobs. South Asian parents are usually portrayed as working professionals. There are South Asian doctors and lawyers and some work 9 - 5 jobs. Its very nice to see another reality reflected.

As with her debut, Shine, Coconut Moon, Meminger doesn't create stereotypical immigrant parents that are disconnected from their teens need to fit it. Nor are Jazz's parents overly strict. The author goes one step further and giving us Auntie Kinder, a very close cool family friend. Jazz can talk to Auntie Kinder about almost anything. To show her thanks, Jazz decides to get Auntie Kinder back together with her first love. Who just so happens to be a very popular celebrity doctor in England. Jazz's "I love Lucy" scheme was a lot of fun to watch.

Meminger found a beautiful balance with Jazz in Love. She keeps its light yet still manages to incorporate themes worth discussing from what's Indian enough to asserting independence. Many readers will be able to relate to Jazz, her worries are universal.

What she'd said about it taking courage to be okay with being different made sense. I knew about being different. I was FSL- different, even among the different. But did it take courage to just keep doing what you were told, without asking any questions? Did it take a different kind of courage to not love the person you loved, and do what was considered appropriate - as Auntie Kinder had done? Or to pretend you were something you weren't - like Mit was doing

As I trudged up the stairs to my bedroom, I wondered what turned some girls into Kamaljit Purewals and others into girls like me - ones who started doing things that got them into a whole heap of crap. I wondered if Auntie Kinder had been a girl like me. And my mom- had see been a Kamal or a getting in deep doodoo for breaking the rules Jazz?

Jazz is surrounded by well developed characters including best friends Cindy and Jeevan (Jeeves). The secondary characters add wonderful dimension. The various storylines tie in smoothly and are well thought out.

I have my fingers crossed this isn't the last time we see Jazz and her friends. I want to know if Jazz and Jeeves relationship will change. I want to know about Mit's relationship. Jazz in Love doesn't have loose ends, Meminger simply wrote it in such a way that I can't help but want more.

Meminger couldn't find a house for Jazz in Love to call home. So she decided to self publish (lucky us).

Jazz in love can be purchased at amazon and several other places online

I don't normally do a disclaimer but since Meminger sent me the book for review and I am mentioned in the acknowledments its kind of mandatory. For anyone who can't trust my review because of this disclaimer, no worries, I completely understand but please check out the google preview via powells. For those who know I would never lead you astray. Thank you, please enjoy the preview. as well. Feel free to share it with friends and strangers.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

On Sale Now : New Releases

This weeks new releases with diverse cast or featuring kids of color. Technically most of these books are scheduled to be released on the 25th. A few are titles I missed and didn't list the last time. (oops) The only one I found that was coming out tomorrow is The Dog who Loved the Moon.

Miss Dorothy and Her Bookmobile by Gloria Houston illus. by Susan Condie Lamb

The Dog Who Loved the Moon by Cristina Garcia

Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream by Jenny Han illus by Julia Kuo

The Archies & Josie and the Pussycats by Dan Parent

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith

The Dark Goddess by Sarwat Chadda

Daughters of Xanadu

The Meltdown by L. Divine

Orchard by Holly Thompson

Mare's War by Tanita Davis (paperback)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Cybils Nominated Non Fiction Picture Books

I really enjoyed my time on the Cybils Non Fiction panel. I thought we all worked very well together. Though it was very hard to narrow it down to seven finalists. There were a lot of great books. Today I am going to follow, Lizjones lead, and highlight some of my favorites that almost moved on.

Ballet for Martha :Making Appalachian Spring by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan illus by Brian Floca

I loved this look at dancer and choreographer Martha Graham's making of the Appalachian Spring ballet. The book highlights Aaron Copland, the composer and Isamu Noguchi, the set designer, just as much as Graham. The authors manage to include a lot of information on all three, as well as the history of particular ballet, yet the text never feels overcrowded. The text, is very fluid, rhythmic and informative. Floca's gorgeous illustrations are a perfect fit.
An excerpt

Yucky Worms by Vivan French illus. by Jessica Ahlberg

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this one. A grandmother is working in her garden with her grandson. After a worm appears, and the little boy says yuck, the grandmother proceed to tell him all about worms. I thought French did a great job with Yucky Worms. I love that the line between fiction and non fiction is never blurry. Ahlberg's illustrations are wonderful match. Ahlberg's style differs for the story and facts portions of Yucky Worms. Like the text, I really appreciated the distinction. The author includes a few things in the back, including how to be a wormologist. An excerpt

Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age by Cheryl Bardoe

This was very well done. As far as I know there aren't a lot of non fiction books about mammoths and mastodons. The text is very informative and readable. This book has a lot of visual appeal. There are illustrated maps, photographs and drawings. In the end I like that Bardoe, reminds the reader that elephants are the same type of species as mammoths and mastodons. The connection makes mammoths and mastodons that much more real.

I've linked this post to nonfiction Monday which is being hosted this week at NC Teacher Stuff

In Honor of Dr. King - Read In Announced

In honor of Martin Luther King Day, I am announcing an African American Read In. I will be putting one together with Edi from Crazy Quilts and Ari from Reading in Color. This February will be the 22nd National African American Read In The three of us have decided to hold an online Read In discussion.

Schools, churches, libraries, bookstores, community and professional organizations, and interested citizens are urged to make literacy a significant part of Black History Month by hosting and coordinating Read-Ins in their communities. Hosting a Read-In can be as simple as bringing together friends to share a book, or as elaborate as arranging public readings and media presentations that feature professional African American writers.

You have until Friday Jan 21, to head on over to Ari's to vote for the book you'd like to discuss. Your choices are

Tyrell by Coe Booth
A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott
Yummy by G. Neri
Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves
Jumped by Rita Williams Garcia
When the Black Girl Sings by Bil Wright

We hope you'll consider participating and spreading the word.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Meminger Takes Control (Jazz in Love)

Neesha Meminger's debut YA novel, Shine Coconut Moon, came out in 2009. Smithsonian named it a Notable Book for Children in 2009. I really liked Shine Coconut Moon. Sometimes when I finish a novel by a debut author, I will think to myself "That was nice, maybe I'll try them again" There was no maybe with Meminger. It was never a matter of if but when.

Thankfully Meminger took control - when is now.

Her second YA novel Jazz in Love, official release date was Monday. Shine Coconut Moon was published by McElderry Books an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Meminger self published Jazz in Love. Self publishing isn't new. Though I think most authors would prefer to be published and supported by a house.

Unfortunately that is not always an option for authors of color. Even if their first novel is well received. With the low number of YA authors of color being published, I know I should be pro self publishing but I am still very wary. Some books are rejected for a reason.

I will always be one of those people, that has doubts about self published authors.* However, I will never question an author after they've already established what they can do. I knew what Neesha Meminger could do. Jazz in Love being self published was secondary. All I cared about was the story. I am not the only one to feel that way.

Lyn Miller- Lachmann @ Readergirlz
For her second novel, Meminger has chosen to join the growing indie publishing movement, and the impressive quality of writing and design that characterizes Jazz in Love bodes well for authors with unique stories who choose to go with small presses or strike out on their own.

Jazz in Love is a breathtaking short read about a girl who wants to follow her own pad, with parents that want her to follow theirs. I loved Neesha's first novel Shine, Coconut Moon, so I was excited to hear she had a new novel coming up. I thought this book was amazing and fun to read. Jazz is just the perfect narrator of the book and you just immediately like her. And she has just the best friends in Pammi and Cindy. A fun new YA between cultures, just read it!

The Rejectionist
But, like Neesha's first YA novel Shine, Coconut Moon, Jazz in Love also tells a universal story about finding your own way in the world. Anyone who knows what it's like to have a totally different vision for your own life than your parents' idea of what's best, or who's felt way too strongly about someone way too sketchy, will see something of themselves in Jazz. Wisecracking, huge-hearted Jazz is as fabulous a protagonist as they come, and it's impossible to come away from this stellar sophomore novel without being head over heels in love with her yourself.

Since the author sent me an advanced reader copy, and was kind enough to mention me in her acknowledgements. I thought I'd be one of the first bloggers to post a review. Nope, my forthcoming review will not even be the fourth or the fifth. Everyone forgets to put their reviews on amazon. I thought I had a good chance at that. Nope, Jill beat me to it.

With every new review I think crap, someone is going to say what I was going to say. Or touch upon simliar points. That has yet to happen .

Jazz in Love is a wonderful story. It's nice to see it get postive reviews early. In case you missed it, I did say the author mentions me in the acknowledgements.

Though this is not for that. I will always do a little extra for authors I believe in that decide to take a chance and self publish. It can't be an easy decision to make. I hope this post will encourage a few people to give Jazz in Love (only $11.00) a chance.

Even with all this extra blogger love, Jazz in Love did not get to skip the review queue. It had to wait its turn. I will posting my review sometime this week.

Edi interviews the author @ Crazy Quilts

Google preview via Powells books

*I may have doubts but I am always willing to give a self published book a chance.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Stone Soup Saturday

I had no idea what to title this post since its a little of everything. I thought Stone Soup Saturday had a nice ring to it.

All the children's and young adult awards were given out on Monday. Two of the winners Jordan Sonnenblick and Eric Velasquez were at author James Preller's recently launched site

If you have a moment stop by the Purple Ladybugs Reading Club and say hello to Ms. S and the Ladybugs

Also checkout the newly launched Diversity in YA blog. It was started by YA author Malinda Lo and Cindy Pon.

Primary Source, will have an online live chat about Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins on January 19th.

Primary Source is proud to announce a unique global reading opportunity. Responding to requests from educators, Primary Source will facilitate a FREE worldwide book discussion, or "Global Read," featuring an online discussion forum followed by a "live" web-based session. You are invited to join us for a discussion of the young adult novel, Bamboo People, by Mitali Perkins — a compelling coming-of-age story about child soldiers in modern Burma. The online discussion forum will begin on Wednesday, January 12th. Then join the author for a live chat on January 19th

Even if you can't do the online chat, I still highly recommend Bamboo People. It was named one of the top ten fiction titles for Young Adults. I am loving the overall diversity within the top ten. Five of the ten feature a diverse cast of characters.

This week, I skipped my on sale now, new releases on Tuesday, since I posted my list 2011 titles I am looking forward to on Sunday. The list was long and a lot to take in, so I decided to forgo the on sale now feature for one week.

I recently finished I Beat the Odds by Micheal Oher. Oher is the football player featured in Micheal Lewis, The Blindside. The book will be released Feb. 8 and I plan on reviewing it closer to the release date. For now I'll say I really liked it. I thought, I Beat the Odds would have teen crossover appeak, and it does. I am glad that Oher got a chance to tell his story.

Oher plays for the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens have a playoff game against the Steelers today. I really hope the Ravens win because Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers QB makes me want to spit. Roethlisberger has never been charged with anything, but he was suspended for six games without pay. For a big name QB to get suspended that long without pay says a lot. So Go Ravens.

The adult book, I am reading right now is Snowman by Jo Nesbo. I've been meaning to read Nesbo, since I like Swedish mystery authors. Not Larsson. I am not a fan of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I like Mankell and Wahloo and Sjowell . So far Snowman is very good.

Friday, January 14, 2011

I AM Nuchu - Brenda Stanley

I Am Nuchu by Brenda Stanley
After Cal's parents get divorced, his mother gets full custody of Cal, Doran and Rachel. Cal a senior in high school is the oldest. The four move back to the Utah reservation Cal's mother grew up on. They move in with Raymond their grandfather. Cal is half native American. Though he has never been exposed to that part of his heritage. When Mona was a teenager, her sister Jackie died under mysterious causes. Cal is detemined to find out what really happened.

When they get to the reservation, Cal doesn't like what he sees.
"Cal waved his hand to quiet her and grunted. He walked past the three of them and toward the town, then stopped and studied the area intently trying to find something redeeming. There had to be a nice part of town he thought. But as he searched , all he found were dismal signs of poverty and distress" (p14, arc)

I had many issues with this story. One was how much Cal could find nothing of worth at the reservation and the fact that he said it over and over again. My problem isn't so much that Cal found it lacking, any teenager up rooted from their home after a divorce , isn't going to like the new place. My problem was there was no character there to speak up for the reservation to match Cal's passion for what was wrong.

"That guy sounded drunk or stoned." Cal scoffed, "It's so weird here. This place sucks." Doran shifted in his seat, and commented, "Maybe the rest of the area is better. We haven't even seen anything outside of the reservation. "It can't all be like this" They pulled onto the highway west for the town Roosevelt. Small, beat up looking houses dotted dusty open spaces. Fences made of rusted barbed wired and twisted wood sectioned off parcels of land Cal couldn't imagine anyone wanting."- (p29, arc)

"Cal heard talking and laughter as he entered. In the kitchen stood a large Indian man, his hair was long and tied back in a braid, and two Indian women sat at the table. As Cal entered the room, Mona quickly turned toward the sink. The room became quiet as Cal walked over to Mona, who kept her back to him as she tired to hide a beer bottle in the sink." (p35, arc)

"What are you doing?" It's 10 in the morning!. Cal asked amazed. Mona remained silent, unable to face him. As Cal grabbed her arm and turned around, the beer bottle clanked against the sink, making the two women at the table jump. "What are you doing, Mom?" Mona pulled away and said, "Whatever I want Cal," Cal slammed his hand against the wall and he pointed toward the women at the table, "This is why we've never been to this hellhole before. I can't believe you made us move here." (p 35, arc)

I was really surprised that the author had the mother drinking by page 35. Though on the upside at least the author didn't portray the Native American characters as too lazy to get up in the morning to drink. They were up and going way before noon. I know I shouldn't be so flippant, I am just very frustrated by this story.

Was I harder on I Am Nuchu because the author was White? No, my expectations were the same. However I did go in with an, the author better prove this is authentic attitude. Stanley lost me on page eight.

"Doran searched the road ahead of them. "Where's Mom?" he asked.
"She's up there. She's mad at me."
Cal shrugged flippantly, "We stopped about an hour ago for Rachel to pee. You slept through it. I asked her if she was going to try and date the Indian chef or start over with the butcher or the baker."

Doran shook his head. "Why do you have to say things like that? Dad was no angel, either." Cal scoffed, "Whatever, but at least he'd never bring us to Podunk, Indianville, Utah"
"Where else could she go? This was her home. Aren't you even a little curious about what this place is going to be like?
"Look around." Cal said, cutting Doran off. "This place is hell. " What about Grandpa? Aren't you curious about the Indians" (pgs 8-9)

Reading that again, I realize Doran was suppose to be the one who tried to see the good in things. But it was not enough for me, especially with the ending. If you thought its butcher and baker line that got under my skin, the first time, you'd be wrong. Though not liking it much now. But what caught my eye was "Aren't you curious about the Indians"

I didn't like the wording of the question, even more so when I replaced Indian with other ethnicity's. As it is the question makes it look like the brothers are insensitive outsiders. Cal and Doran being half Indian should be reflected in that question. I would've been more than okay with "Aren't you curious about your Indian heritage" or something along those lines.

I know some people think this a small distinction not even worth mentioning. But sometimes its the little things that make all the difference. That one moment told me where this story was headed.

- Cal talking with his grandfather -
"But what about the young people? Why don't they take up the fight? Why do you have to do it"
"The young people don't understand the history, Cal. Many don't care or want to learn our traditions, and now I'm afraid they'll be lost forever."
"They won't be lost if you write them down. Aren't there books on this stuff?"
"There are. But most of them are written by people other people, writers who are not us. (pg190)

The irony of that last line was not lost on me espeically since every single stereotype about Native American is in this story. And of course at one point Cal feels like he is soaring in the sky like an eagle.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Words in the Dust - Trent Reedy

Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy
13yr old Zulaikha is a young Afgahnistan girl, she was born with a cleft lip. Zulaikha stepmother treats her poorly. Many boys bully and tease Zulaikha calling her Donkey face. When the American Army comes to An Daral, Zulaikha's small village she might be able to have lip surgery.

Zulaikha is close to her older sister, Zeynab. As the two daughters of the house, they have a lot of responsiblites, including looking after their younger brothers Khalid and Habib's.

Zulaikha's father and older brother Najib are helping to build a new school. Girls aren't allowed to go school. Zulaikha still remembers the letters her mother taught her and wants an education.

I really liked this novel. I got a good sense of Zulaikha and her village. Since Reedy served in the U.S. Army I assumed, the Army would play large part in the story. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the story stayed focused on Zulaikha and her family.

read an excerpt

While I was reading Words in the Dust, I couldn't help but think about Wanting Mor by Ruksana Khan. The main character is also an Afghani girl with a cleft lip. I think the two pair nicely together.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sequins, Secrets, And Silver Linings by Sophia Bennett

Sequins, Secrets, and Silver Linings by Sophia Bennett
When I saw this cover, I wanted to read this book,it looked like so much fun. (yes I liked a pink cover. Don't judge me) Meg Cabot has a blurb on the book. (top left near the sneaker) Which seemed fitting because I thought it be something along the lines of Cabot's genre. Lucky me, I was right. I have really missed reading books like this, and Sequins, Secrets and Silver Linings was very good. Being set in London was an added bonus.

Three best friends Nonie, Edie and Jenny are doing very different things. Jenny starred in her her first movie, with Hollywood's sexist couple. Edie is always looking for a good cause to support. Nonie loves fashion and dreams of one day carry a famous person's coffee.

Nonie and Edie are doing their best to support Jenny, her movie is about to premiere. Edie is tutoring 11 yr old Crow a young Ugandan girl who is living with her aunt. Crow loves fashion as much as Nonie. Edie doesn't speak fashion, but she uses this connection to help Crow with her reading. Very early on its clear Crow has a great eye and was born to design. The friends do what they can to help make that happen.

Nonie is the narrator of this novel. (the first of three) I loved her voice. It was well drawn out and real, she does an excellent job of hold everything together. As the novel progressed Nonie grew, the same is true for Edie and Jenny.
Bennett's writing was smooth, fun and funny, with great dialogue. I will admit to getting a little choked up at the end. Sequins, Secrets, and Silver Linings is deceptively more layered then it looks. Everything fits seamlessly into the story. This is a must read for any readers of young adult who love fashion. Ages 11 up

I finished this book in one afternoon. It was such a pleasure to read. Sequins, Secrets, and Silver Linings* was originally in the UK and called Threads. Thank you so much to Chicken House, a Scholastic Imprint for making this series available in the U.S.

Read an excerpt

*I loved this book enough to give just a little more and a quick thank you. If your reading this fine print, that means you really want to check out the excerpt. Enjoy

Sunday, January 9, 2011

2011 Titles That Caught My Eye

Here is a list of 2011 titles I am looking forward to. Many of the titles in January have already been released I was a little heavy handed with the cover images but I couldn't help it, there are a lot of great covers.

If the title is italicized the story - features kids or color or has a diverse cast. If such a title is not italicized either I forgot to do it or I didn't know. So please feel free to tell me in the comment box.

All authors and illustrators of color will have an asterisk next to their name.

Before I get to January, here are three YA books that were published at the end of December

Bitter Melon by Cara Chow* - Ari's review
Teenie by Christopher Grant* - My review
Shadow Walker by L.A. Banks* - No review, but check out an excerpt

Picture Books

Shoe la la by Karen Beaumont illus. by Leuyen Pham*
A Nation's Hope : The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis by Matt de la Pena* - Kadir Nelson* Giant Steps to Change the World by Spike Lee* and Tonya Lewis* illus. Sean Qualls*
Roots and Blues: A Celebration by Arnold Adoff illus. by R . Gregory Christie*
Before there was Mozart by Lesa Cline Ransome* illus. by James E. Ransome*

Middle Grade

The Great Wall of Lucy Wu by Wendy Wan- Long Shang* my review
The Reinvention of Bessica Lefter by Kristen Tracy
Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy
Camo Girl by Kekly Magoon* my review
Wheels of Change : How Woman Rode the Bicycle to Freedom
by Sue Macy
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly (Paperback)

Young Adult

The Latte Rebellion by Sarah Jamila Stevenson*
The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen
Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves* my review
Sequins Secrets and Silver Linings by Sophia Bennett My review
Blessed by Cynthia Letich Smith*
Jazz in Love by Neesha Meminger* Edi's review and interview with the author

Daughter of Xanadu by Dori Jones Yang*
The Dark Goddess by Sarwat Chadda*
Orchards by Holly Thompson
Good Fortune by Noni Carter* (Paperback)
Sweet Hereafter by Angela Johnson* (Paperback)
Tales of the Madman Underground by John Barnes (Paperback)
Mare's War by Tanita Davis* (Paperback)
Picture Books/Early Reader

The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred by Samantha R. Vamos illus by Rafael Lopez
Argus by Michelle Knudsen illus. by Andrea Wesson
Ballpark Mysteries : The Fenway Foul Up by David A. Kelly

Middle Grade

A Dog's Way Home by Bobbie Pyron
The Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander
Inside Out and Black Again by Thanhha Lai*
Tall Story by Candy Gourlay*
How Lamar's Bad Prank Won a Bubba Sized Trohpy by Crystal Allen*
The Prince of Fenway Park by Julianna Baggott (Paperback)
Young Adult

Trapped by Michael Northrop - out now my review
Pink by Lili Wilkinson
Pickup Game edited by Marc Aronson and Charles R Smith
SkateFate by Juan Felipe Herrera*
Death Cloud by Andrew Lane
The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney
Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon* (Paperback)
Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork* (Paperback)

Middle Grade

Dragonbreath: Lair of the Bat Monster by Ursula Vernon
Warp Speed by Lisa Yee*
Glitz by Philana Marie Boles*
The Popularity Papers Book Two by Amy Ignatow
Celestial Globe by Marie Rutkoski (Paperback)
The Big Splash by Jack D. Ferraiolo (Paperback)

Young Adult

Fury of Phoenix by Cindy Pon*
What Can't Wait by Ashley Hope Perez*
The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta
Blink &Caution by Tim Wynne Jones
Subway Girl by PJ Converse
I Am J by Chris Beam
The Way the Door Closes by Hope Anita Smith* (Paperback)
The Post Slave of Cuba by Margarita Engle* illus by Sean Qualls* (Paperback)
Nurse, Solider Spy -story of Sarah Edmounds by Marissa Moss illus. by John Hendrix (NF)
Picture Book
Ladder to the Moon by Maya Soetoro-Ng* illus. by Yuyi Morales*

Middle Grade

Operation Redwood by S. Terrell French (Paperback)
Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt
Theodosia and the Last Pharaoh by R.L. LaFevers
Bird in a Box by Andrea Davis Pinkney* illus. by Sean Qualls*
Sidekicks by Jack D Ferraiolo

Young Adult

Boyfriends With Girlfriends by Alex Sanchez*
Abandon by Meg Cabot
The Returning by Christine Hinwood
You Don't Have a Clue edited by Sarah Cortez*
Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor*
The Time Traveling Fashonisita by Bianca Turestsky
Huntress by Malinda Lo*


Summer Jackson: Grown Up by Teresa E. Harris*
Diego Rivera His World and Ours by Duncan Tonatiuth*
Ellray Jakes is Not a Chicken by Sally Warner
The Lemonade Crime by Jacqueline Davies
I So Don't Do Famous by Barrie Summy
Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge
The Midnight Gate by Helen Stringer
Jeremy Bender vs. The Cupcake Cadets by Eric Luper
Fibble: The Fourth Circle of Heck by Dale E. Bayse

Young Adult

Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia Mccall*
Compulsion by Heidi Ayarbe
My Life, The Theater, and Other Tragedies by Allen Zadoff
Shine by Lauren Myracle
Notes from the Blender by Brendan Halpin and Trish Cook
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Putting Makeup on Dead People by Jen Violi


OyMG by Amy Fellner Dominy
Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach

Picture Book/Early Reader
Waiting for the Biblioburro by Monica Brown* illus. by John Parra*
The Bravest Woman in America by Marissa Moss illus. by Andrea URen
Nikki & Deja Election Madness by Karen English* illus. by Laura Freeman*
Middle Grade
The Detention Club by David Yoo*
The Fast and the Furriest by Andy Behrens (Paperback)

Young Adult

Dreams of Significant Girls by Cristina Garcia*
Silhouetted by the Blue by Traci L Jones*
The Bestest Ramadan Ever by Medeia Sharif*
Luminous by Dawn Metcalf
Wildcat Fireflies by Amber Kizer


Chirchir is Singing by Kelly Cunnane illus. by Jude Daly
Vanished by Sheela Chari*
How Dalia put a big yellow comforter inside of a tiny blue box by Linda Heller
Sweetly by Jackson Pearce
Want to Go Private by Sarah Darer Littman
Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey


Circus Galacticus by Deva Fagan
Bronxwood by Coe Booth*
Return to Me by Justina Chen Headley*
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
All the Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake*
Dear Bully edited by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones