Friday, May 30, 2008

Jellicoe Road Melina Marchetta

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
My top ten YA list, is constantly changing but Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta will always be on it. I am a huge fan of Marchetta's writing. So much so I was tempted to order her third novel Jellicoe Road when it was originally published in Australia in 2006. I decided to wait, but thanks to Farrin from HarperCollins, I didn't have to wait until August. If you've never read Marchetta you're seriously missing out. So after you read this go to your favorite book source and order her first two novels. Looking for Alibrandi and Saving Francesca. Treat yourself to a mini Melina Marchetta marathon. Then you'll understand why I love her writing so much. Marchetta's first two novels have a Laurie Hale Anderson/Sarah Dessen feel to them.

Jellicoe Road is nothing like Marchetta's previous novels. Taylor Markham, has attended the Jellicoe school ever since her mother abandoned her on Jellicoe road at eleven years old. She was discovered by Hannah a women who works at the school. The school is made up of six houses, each run by an upper classman. Taylor runs the Lachlan House. There is an on going territory war between the Jellicoe School, the townies and the cadets. Taylor is chosen has the schools representative by the graduating seniors. Taylor is not the best house leader. She has made a home for herself at Jellicoe School with Hannah's help but lately she's been wondering about her mother. She is also distracted by her dreams of a boy in a tree who is trying to tell her something.

For the first half of the book, I felt one step behind the author. Marchetta's writing kept me reading.

"First thing's first. This year we get the Townies on our side, I say. Ignoring everyone in the room but Ben. The chorus of disapproval is like those formula songs that seem to hit number one all the time. You know the tune in a moment and it begins to bore you in two."

The author gives us fragments of stories. Along with Taylor's we learn of the five, five friends who are forever linked to a fatal car accident 22 years earlier.

"My father took one hundred and thirty two minutes to die. I counted. It happened on Jellicoe Road."

Jellicoe Road reads like a puzzle, I was more then okay with this. As a reader sometimes I get a thrill out of having a story finally click. (like ohh I get, I see where the author is taking me) To enjoy Jellicoe Road you must have a lot of patience and trust in Marchetta's writing. I could see readers getting frustrated with Jellicoe Road's chaotic order but the end result is beautiful, tear shedding good.

I love that Marchetta didn't underestimate teens, and wrote Jellicoe Road the way she did. Every reader remembers their first complex multi layered novel.
Jellicoe Road is a journey of a read. A few days after you finish it you'll understand how beautiful it really is. Marchetta's writing always finds a way to touch my heart Jellicoe Road is no exception. I highly recommend it. Jellicoe Road will be released in the U.S. on 8/26

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Six Innings James Preller

My baseball team went into a series slump last week. Losing a four game series, to a divisional rival. For those of you, who don't watch baseball its very hard to lose a four game series. Sadly I gave up hope after game three. I lost faith in my team. As a fan that's the worst thing you can do. Without faith each loss is heavier and the next win slips farther away. Then you start blaming yourself, maybe if I believed my team would win again. I was tired of wallowing in the loses and avoiding ESPN. I was going to fight for my faith back. The first step, reminding myself of the goodness that is baseball. I decided to begin with a book.

Six Innings by James Preller. Preller is the author of the early chapter series Jigsaw Jones. Six Innings is his first middle grade novel. A major league baseball game is nine innings, a little league game is six innings.
Its all about the big game. Preller doesn't waste time with the regular season or even the playoffs he gets right to it. The championship game

Earl Grubb's Pool Supplies vs Northeast Gas & Electric

Six Innings opens with 13 Sam Reiser, who would be playing if not for cancer. Though Preller doesn't reveal why Sam is sidelined until later on. He spends the little league season in the booth. Though he his pulling for Earl Grubb's Pool Supplies, Sam calls a fair and unbiased game.
Before the game begins Preller shares the teams lineup cards, including the little league special rules. Each chapter is another inning. The action is fast, the game playing out in front of the readers eyes.

"Dylan Van Zant dives for the ball but is out of reach. Carter Harris charges. He's on the grass moving fast. Carter knows there is no time to hesitate. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Green heading for home- there is no play there. And now Carter is in the Tunnel charging the baseball, and that's all the world he sees, that bouncing white globe. He is deaf to the shouts the cries from the stands. He can't wait for a good hop its now or never, do or die. Without thinking Carter bends low and short hops the ball with his bare hand "

Preller gives us a great story and doesn't limit himself to the field. We learn about the players as well. The book doesn't get overly emotional, its just the right amount for boys to enjoy.

"Mike will try to sneak away to visit Sam later if he gets a chance. It almost feels wrong that he's on the field, while Sam the better player is stuck up there. Mike checks the stands and wonders Will they come? His parents miss so many of his games. But this one is different. This time it means something to Mike."

Preller also manages to slip in some baseball history, like the 1956 world series. I loved Six Innings. It's the best middle grade baseball book I've ever read. I was telling my co workers I plan on selling Six Innings like candy. (I wasn't kidding) This book is for every boy who prefers to be on the field. Its for every baseball fan who loves the game down to the core.

Tonight, my team hit a homerun in the bottom of the 9th to tie It was 6-5 bad guys bottom of 12th. I wasn't worried, I believed again. They won 7-6. Faith is good. Baseball will always be beautiful even when its hard to watch.
I shall thank Preller, for helping me get my faith back by selling the hell out of his beautiful book, Six Innings

Into the Dark Peter Abrahams

Into the Dark by Peter Abrahams, is the third book in the Echo Falls Mystery series. 13 yr old Ingrid lives at 99 Maple Lane in Echo Falls. I love Ingrid, she's a independent teenager, who solves mysteries. Ingrid reminds me a lot of Jennifer Allison's character Gilda Joyce. If Ingrid Levin-Hill and Gilda Joyce meet they would be best friends or archenemies they're so much alike.
Though a mystery must be solved Ingrid's life doesn't stop. She has school, family issues, including an older brother who tries to get out of chores. Also Ingrid is a member of the Prescott Players, a local theatre group. This year they're preforming Hansel and Gretel.

"Ingrid loved being int the Prescott Players,loved this beautiful little theater in Prescott in Prescott Hall, loved everything about putting on plays especially working with Jill. Jill was a real actress. She'd been in a Hollywood movie Tongue and Grove"

Abrahams writing is visually strong and Ingrid does the rest. She's a smart girl who uses deductive reasoning like her favorite fictional character Sherlock Holmes.

Ingrid's grandfather, Aylmer is arrested for murder. Ingrid knows her grandfather is innocent because he would never shoot anyone in the back. Unfortunately, Aylmer is not the most likable person so he decides to take a plea deal. Ingrid discovers her grandfather alibi, but she can't reveal it, its his secret to tell. Leaving Ingrid with only one option, find the real killer.

"Now she had a list, but what did it mean? Her mind refused to make those three questions had up to anything. What did Sherlock Holmes do in baffling situations? Sometimes he took cocaine, that was out. Or he played violin, Ingrid, although she liked belting out songs in the shower, had no musical ability whatsoever. But sometimes Holmes went for a walk"

It pretty easy to figure out who the killer is. What makes this book good is how Ingrid figures out the why. What makes this book great is the ending. There is nothing better then someone trying to cover up a murder with a murder. I loved the last few chapters, the action was fast, intense, scary, page turning good.

The Echo Falls mysteries work well as stand alone books. I highly recommend this series, especially for fans of the Gilda Joyce and Kiki Strike books.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Ruby and the Booker Boy Derrick Barnes

Brand New School, Brave New Ruby (Ruby And The Booker Boys) by Derrick Barnes I found this little goody on Sunday while helping a customer. I am always exicted to find a new early chapter series, and its featuring a black girl. What! Thats double sweetness. Ruby Booker is going to the third grade and a new school. I like Ruby from the start, first day jitters won't stop Ruby from being herself. Ruby's first day of school outfit is a purple and orange ensemble including mismatched sneakers. Ruby's schoolbag is in the shaped of a guitar. Its easy enough to go with the trend but Ruby's fearless, and does her own thing.

As I looked in the mirror for the last time, I whispered to myself,, "Ruby Marigold Booker, you are fabulous! And that's the truth.

Ruby has three older brothers Roosevelt, Tyner and Marcellus aka the Booker boys. The Booker boys are very popular at Hope Road Academy, Ruby's new school. Ruby's worried she won't make a name for herself at Hope Road Academy. She doesn't want to be seen as the Booker Boys little sister but rather Ruby the singer. Throughout the day Ruby is determined to shine, but each time its about to happen the PA system comes, and its always about one of Ruby's brothers. I enjoyed the PA interruptions, it was fun trying to guess what the announcement would be. In the end Ruby finds a way to stand out.
This is a great book for younger siblings. They will relate to Ruby's desire to make a name for herself and get out of older brother's shadows. Plus its not a hand me down book, thats double sweetness. Ruby is going to be a fun girl to follow. I love that Barnes doesn't neglect Ruby's family. His writing is fun and enjoyable.
This is going to be a great series I can't wait to read more. I won't have to wait long. Trivia Queen, 3rd Grade Supreme, the second book in the Ruby and Booker Boys series was released with book one

Impulse Ellen Hopkins

Impulse by Ellen Hopkins
A co worker recently read Impulse and loved it. She wanted me to read it so we could discuss it. Of course I said yes, I do what I can to encourage my coworkers to continue reading YA. Plus I have yet to read any of Ellen Hopkins bestselling books. ( shame on me) Her first book Crank was published in 2004. There are four (and one on the way) Crank, Burned, Glass and Impulse. The singled titled bestsellers are about teen facing crisis or addiction. The novels are written in poetry form, each poem gliding into the other. Impulse is about three teens who attempted suicide. They all end up at Aspen Springs for treatment. There's Tony the street kid, Vanessa the cutter and Conner the clean cut All American teenager. Hopkins develops each character, giving us the how and why. I couldn't stop reading as each teen told their story. Hopkins poetry style works very well, the transitions are smooth.
While reading Impulse I wondered why it took me so long to pick up one these books. I couldn't help but love the honesty of it. There's something so right about these tough topics in a poetry form.
It cuts out all the B.S.
Ellen Hopkins new book Identical will be out August 26

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Underneath - Kathi Appelt

The Underneath by Kathi Appelt
New books come into the bookstore all the time. For some unknown reason I am drawn to some. Every time I turn around the book is there waiting. The Underneath by Appelt was one those books, it would not be ignored. Finally giving into the urge I picked it up. I am a sucker for good blurbs. The Underneath has a few including one by award winning author/illustrator Ashley Bryan. Bryan doesn't blurb much, so I knew The Underneath had to be special and it was.
The Underneath is magical and beautiful story. It's a tale of many things, set in the deep deep Southern Bayou. The past and present are told until they eventually collide. The tale begins with a calico cat who has been abandoned. Now she wanders alone for a safe place to have her kittens. From the beginning Applet's writing is poetic, she quickly pulls the reader in. The calico cat is drawn to a hound's song.

Oh, I woke up on this bayou
Got a chain around my heart.
Yes, I'm sitting on this bayou,
Got a chain tied round my heart.
Can't you see I'm dying?
Can't you see I'm cryin?
Can't you throw an old dog a bone?
Oh I woke up it was rainin
But it was tears came fallin down
Can't you see I'm tryin
Can't you hear my cryin?
Can't you see I'm all alone?
Can't you throw an old dog a bone?

That was only chapter three. Applet gives us so much more. After hearing that song the calico cat seeks out the hound, Ranger. She finds him forever chained to a back porch. The calico decides to stay and have her kittens. This is a small part of a wonderful tale. It's also about love, hate, consequences, forgiveness, revenge, basically all the emotions that fuel or eat away at us.
Applet's writing is beautiful and colorful. She weaves a tale that should be read and will be loved.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Night Road A. M. Jenkins

Night Road by A. M. Jenkins
I was very excited when I heard Jenkins had a new book coming out. There are a lot of teen vampire novels out. Though don't mistake Night Road for one. There are no vampires only hemes. They can't die, must avoid the sun and need blood like omnis need oxygen. Night Road opens with Cole, a veteran heme in an 18yr old body making his way to New York. He was called by Johnny,who is a sort of father figure for the hemes in the United States. Johnny created the Building a safehaven for hemes. Cole arrives to find a new heme was accidentally created. Gordon, a former 18yr old college student is now a heme.

Johnny has asked Cole to take Gordon on the road with Sandor, another veteran heme. The Cole is the more serious one, constantly grilling Gordon with new information. Sandor a traveling heme as well is there to keep things light. I really liked Sandor.
The beginning of Night Road, has an almost midway feel to it.

"Cole did have a map in his backpack. He'd studied it back at the parking garage. Only now that he was that he was already on the subway did it occur to him that it might be outdated"

Sometimes I like being thrown right into the story. For me to enjoy a book I must find rhythm of the writer. Jenkins makes me work for it and I like that plus its always worth it. Jenkins has created a different kind of coming of age story with Night Road. We follow along as the two veteran hemes with complementary personalities teach the new heme, Cole the basics of who is he is becoming.

"You had no idea what was happening to you. Now you are starting to understand. And you dont have to deal with it alone. Sandor and I are here and our job is to keep you safe until you become familiar with your new limitations. Which I might add are the exact same limitations the rest of us have."

If only we all were as lucky as Gordon. The end came too quickly, but I have much respect for an author who leaves me wanting more. I highly recommend Night Road. Its on sale now. Though if you're looking for something in paperback check out Jenkin's adward winning novel Repossessed.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Suite Scarlett - Maureen Johnson

Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson
The first book I read by Johnson was 13 Little Blue Envelopes. I thought it was okay. Next was Girl at Sea which I really enjoyed. Last week I finished her latest release Suite Scarlett, I am officially a fan. On the surface Johnson's books are good, but her subtle writing approach makes them great. Unfortunately, I didn't know this when I read 13 Little Blue Envelopes.
Suite Johnson is about a girl, Scarlett Martin and her family. The Martin's live in and own the Hopewell hotel in NYC. Scarlett has just turned 15 with no plans for the summer. Then the guest arrives

Scarlett's mother's face had slipped into that half paralyzed it got when a seriously paying customer was around.
"This is Mrs Amberson" She said to Scarlett she'll be here all summer.
"All summer? Scarlett repeated
"All summer," Mrs. Amberson said
"All summer." Her mother said again. "In the Empire Suite"
"The Empire Suite?" Scarlett said
This is adorable," Mrs Amberson cut in. "Do you often sing in rounds? Makes sense. You look a bit like the Von Trapps."

With an introduction like that I couldn't help but love Mrs Amberson. She was such a fun character. Mrs. Amberson stayed involving herself in family matters. Especially Scarlett's older brother Spencer's acting career. Mrs. Amberson a former thespian herself is determined to help Spencer.
Though Scarlett is the main character, her family plays a large roll as well. The family works together to keep The Hopewell hotel running. Johnson does a great job of showing the family relationships.
I was really excited when I got to the end it sounds like there may be a sequel. I am hoping this is so, I would love to see the Martin's again and of course Mrs. Amberson. Plus it would nice to see what Scarlett decides to do about the boy. Eric is his name he's Scarlett's first almost official boyfriend.

"This conversation was ridiculous. She had never actually imagined how you did this- she thouht it just happened. A mutual wave of understanding passed over both your heads, covering you completely in the warm waters of relationshop status. But no. Like most things in life, it required an unexpectedly awkward moment of bureaucracy"

I really enjoyed Suite Scarlett there were a lot of laughs to be found. Also all the Johnson's titles I've read are in my pre teen repertoire.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Shoes or Sneakers, Sneakers or Shoes How about both?

Today I decided to wear my converse sneakers, giving my black shoes a break. When I put on my shoes in the morning I don't pay attention because I merely going through the motions. This morning I almost paid the price. I'd walked 10 steps from my apartment door and just happen to look down at my feet. I had a converse on my right foot, and a black shoe on my left. My first thoughts were how in the hell, what the hell am I on, and Thank God no one saw me. The shoes didn't feel any different they're both well worn in. After I put on my right converse, I just so happen to pick up the left black shoe. Since I normally where the black shoes I didn't think twice about putting it on. If I had only picked up the right black shoe this would not have happened. Somehow I got through the day without telling any of my co workers this story. It was on the tip of my tongue a couple of times but I always got distracted by work.

Lets Discuss Summer Reading List

I forgot to weigh our stores summer reading list binder but I am guessing its about 3lbs. We still don't have all the school list in yet. I've seen some good ones this year. Though a lot of the optional titles have female protagonist. One middle school 6th grade required social studies book is James Patterson's Maximum Ride. I pointed this out to a few of a co workers while saying can we take their accreditation away. James Patterson for required reading, really.
One school second required reading book is different for boys and girls. There is something about gender required reading I don't like. The girls must read Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick (in paperback) and the boys must read Big Field by Mike Lupica. I've loved baseball since I was ten. If my middle school teacher assigned a baseball story I'd be very happy. Though if I was in this class, since I have a vagina I wouldn't be reading the Big Field.
Big Field is only available in hardcover (HC). I hate when teachers assign hardcover books. Here is a little skit to help explain why

Customer- Hi, I need to get my child's summer reading books today. He's leaving for camp on Monday.
Me- Okay, I can help you with that. What is his required title?
Customer- The Big Field by Mike Lupica
Me- Oh yeah we have that. Here you go.
Customer- Is it avaiable is paperback
Me- (thinking yea we have 30 copies in hardcover on the shelf, but since you asked I will get you can have on of the paperbacks we have in the back) No, sorry hardcover only.
Customer - Are you sure can you check
Me- I check. Yep, only hardcover
Customer - Why would his teacher assign a hardcover title
Me- I don't know
This is followed by a pregnant pause while the customer decides what to do. Required HC suck, they're expensive and heavy. I don't even read HC on vacation. So I do feel for the parents but by the end of the summer I am going to be sick of parents asking if the Big Field is in paperback.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Little Brother - Cory Doctorow

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
I read the first 111 pages of Little Brother in Starbucks. I was that person who would not leave. Overall I was amazed by Little Brother. The book takes place in a near future San Francisco. 17yr old Marcus Yallow is very tech savvy and playing an Alternate Reality Game (ARG) with three friends. If you have no idea what ARG is don't worry Doctorow does a great job explaining it and everything for US (the non tech savvy, non gamers) While Marcus and his friends are out in search of a ARG clue, there is a terrorist attack a few blocks away. Anyone found in the area was detained and questioned by Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Marcus and his friends are forced to surrender everything. When they are finally let go, San Francisco is no longer their city. In the name of national security, public privacy is a thing of the past. Marcus is too upset to forget and ignore so he decides to fight back. The first thing he does is create Xnet, an underground Internet using Xbox.
Doctorow does for San Francisco what Eric Larson did for Chicago with The Devil in the White City. This is a beautiful and important book. Touching on many issues that are a lot closer then we want them to be. Though Little Brother is a young adult novel, everyone can and should take something away from it.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Adult Magazines in Children's Section

So I am doing my thing is children's working on displays, helping customers and cleaning up, nothing serious. As I am walking passed a table with YA and MG titles I notice that The C.S Lewis Omnibus is in the wrong spot, and Laurie Anderson's Speak in its place. I pick up Speak and find an adult magazine underneath. It wasn't even anything classy like Playboy, the magazine was very graphic. I was freakin pissed, I really don't understand why someone would do that. I was just glad I found it. So I take the magazine away thinking its over. Never underestimate perverted persistence. I am away from the section for about 15 minutes. I get back to find another adult magazine (2 actually) this time on the table with picture books for fathers day. Again I was lucky enough to find it. This time I was beyond pissed, I told my manager. One magazine I let it go as fluke, two times is a pattern there will probably be a third time but it wont be on the same day as one and two. Of course I didn't see or catch anyone. I have yet to catch any of these pervs. These MF could be using their sleuth powers for good instead they plant adult magazines in children section. One day though I will catch one in the act. I can't wait.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Up All Night - Various Authors

Up All Night is a collection of short stories by six awarding winning and best selling authors. Peter Abrahams Libba Bray, David Levithan, Patricia McCormick, Sarah Weeks and Gene Luen Yang. Growing up I didn't read many short stories. Its only in the last few years that I've begun to appreciate there beauty. Though if I had read Up All Night in high school, I'd have a bookshelf filled with short stories. I loved this collection and the titles were perfect. If a professor was teaching a course on writing short stories Up All Night could be on the sylabus. The writing was precise and staccato (and yes I know that's a music term I am using it anyway). I think it applies perfectly. A musician must play a staccato note short and sharp. If too long its loses its magic.

The same is true of a short story. A writers word choice must be short and sharp. There's no room for excess words, the body of the story comes too quickly. These six authors chose their words carefully, creating wonderful stories that easily pulled me in. The stories are not connected the only thing they have in common, the characters must stay up all night.

Peter Abrahams's Phase 2 is about two boys desire to protect their mother. In Libba Bray's Not Just for Breakfast Anymore four friends go to a concert. I love that Bray was able to give glimpses of each characters personality and the dynamics of their friendship. David Levithan's The Vulnerable Hours is about getting beyond the polite answer. Going in I thought Levithan's story would be technically the strongest (not the best mind you, that's always a matter of opinion.) because he is an editor. He proved me right, it was crazy cool what Levithan did blending what seem like two short stories together. Patricia McCormick's Orange Alert is about a girl who learns to drive. The last line is great and pure justice. McCormick fans should definitely read Orange Alert. I was pleasantly surprised by Sarah Weeks story Superman is Dead. At the end I expected one thing, Weeks gave me something much better. Gene Luen Yang's The Motherless One is about a monkey's search for his mother.

There is no weak link with this collection. Usually when I write about a book I've enjoyed I'll share some lines, this time I won't. Each word means so much, I don't want to ruin the surprises for the next reader.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Road to Vengeance

The Road to Vengeance by Judson Roberts
This the third book in the Strongbow Saga. 15 year old Halfdon is a newly freed thrall. His mother was born in Ireland to a royal family, but was captured in a Viking raid. His father Hrorik was a Viking chieftain. Halfdon was granted his freedom at his father's death bed. Harald and Sigrid Halfdons half siblings accepted him into the family. Harald an experience Viking warrior was training Halfdon. The two became very close. While visiting land Hrorik left for Halfdon they were attacked. Harald's men were unprepared. The attackers promised the children, women and thralls would not be hurt. The attackers went back on their word, everyone was killed.

Halfdon was spared only because Harald cleared a path for his escape. Halfdon made a vow to kill everyone involved in the slaying. In the sequel Dragons from the Sea, Halfdon joins a Viking crew to gain experience. In the Road to Vengeance Halfdon is still with the same Viking crew. The Danes are attacking the Franks. The author does a great job of describing the battle unfortunately it doesn't start until halfway into the novel.

I love the way Judson Roberts blends Viking facts and terminology into the story avoiding the did you know factor.

"My warriors, do not fear death this day. The Gods themselves will be watching this great battle. They will look to see who fights bravely and scorns fear. Odin's shiel maidens, the Valkyries, will carry our brave warriors who fall in this day's contest to the great feast all of the Gods, and their glory will be sung of there forever. It is a good day to day."

Halfdon is a very smart young man. His weapon of choice is a bow and arrow. Halfdon doesn't react he acts, weighing the pros and cons of a situation. Even though he joined a Viking crew he still thinks for himself.

"I thought it a better day to live, but the army once again roared its approval of
Ragnar's words.

I enjoy the Strongbow series. I loved the first book, Viking Warrior its always a go to recommend especially if the customer is a fan of the Rangers Apprentice series. In the back of each book the author has a list of characters, glossary and historical notes. I only skimmed the historical notes but I am sure non fiction fans will enjoy every word.
The Road to Vengeance goes on sale June 17, 2008

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

It Chicks Sixteen Candles

Sixteen Candles by Tia Williams
This is the second book in It Chicks series. I really liked, the first one and was very excited when I saw Sixteen Candles on the new release cart last week. I got the last copy yesterday. This made me very happy for two reasons 1) its selling by itself (I only sold one) and 2)I don't have to wait for more copies to come in. These books are filled with some serious page turning drama. I wouldn't expect anything less from teenagers attending a performance arts high school.
The It Chicks are made up of four girls. Skye a drama major, who is always upstaged by her talented older sister and mother. Tangie a badazz dancer with a ghetto booty. Skye and Tangie have been friends since grade school. Kamillah a drama major from the Bronx who don't take no shit. Regina the film major who plans on doing a documentary on her high school years. They attend Louis Armstrong Academy of Performing and Creative Arts. The book begins with Syke trying to quickly make amends with her friends. Her 16th birthday party will air on Music Video Network (MVN) for their Sixteen Candles reality show, so Skye needs to have friends by her side. In the first book Tia Williams juggled a lot of characters but I thought she did a good job. The author has trimmed down the characters in Sixteen Candles. Though I seriously missed the Regina and Nick scenes they where so much fun together. With less characters and more focus the writing was stronger.
As much as I enjoyed Sixteen Candles I am still wondering what happened to Spotlight tryouts? A spotlight performance is coveted at Louis Armstrong only a few students from each major and class are selected to perform. In the second chapter we find out Tangie is preparing a dance number for Spotlight tryouts. She is called upon in Street funk class to show the routine. Tangie is nervous but ends up killing it. The author does a great job of describing Tangie's dancing. So I was looking forward to the Spotlight tryouts. Unfortunately it's only mentioned a few more times. (with no dancing) I understand its all about Skye's party I only wish the author would've fit in the tryouts or eluded to it more for the next book. It seems like they were forgotten, which is a shame because spotlight auditions had some serious scene potential. Even with that bump in the reading road, I highly recommend the It Chick series.
I will share 3 very from parts from Sixteen Candles so you'll know its worth it to add these books to your tbr list.

All the students must meet with their guidance counselors weekly for Self Awareness Sessions where they are free to say anything. Its to help them channel their emotions for artistic gain. Enough background scene

Exactly, Miss Abdulrayjid


A... del... Fuck it just call me Jane Smith. Can we get to my problem?

Skye's mother Alexa Carmicheal starred in a famous 1980's soap opera. She has been known to drink too much. Skye her sister, Eden and mother are picking male models. Enough background scene
"Kenny, if I was half my age I'd make love to you for three days straight and happily bear your mulatto love child."

No background needed scene
"Look at Ciara folks think she's a damned transvestite, okay? And She's out their doing her thing. So don't trip."

If you're a chick lit fan you should really check out the It Chicks series. They are very entertaining and laugh out loud funny. I love that the It Chicks are black. (It Chicks come in all shades) The author doesn't try too prove their blackness they just are who they are, one of the many cliques in a very competitive and diverse performing arts high school.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Zahrah the Windseeker Nnedi Okorafor

Zahrah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor This book was first published in September 2005. The paperback edition was released earlier this year. I only heard of Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu after her second novel, Shadow Speaker was a finalist for the 2008 Essence Magazine Literary Award. In February in honor of Black History Month, The Brown Bookshelf blog, interviewed 28 black authors. Okorafor-Mbachu was one of the authors. Her interview was my favorite. Last month I finally ordered Zahrah the Windseeker. I love the cover of the paperback, cover design by Sheila Smallwood and Carol Chu. I went back and forth about whether or not to include the cover designers. I finally decided to, illustrators are mentioned all the time why not cover designers. Besides the cover is the reason why I stopped straddling the fence and brought the book. I definitely made the right decision. I really enjoyed Zahrah the Windseeker. It was a visual treat. Its not often I get to picture scholarly baboons, trees as tall as The Empire State building, a talking compass with an attitude or spiders big enough to trample a 14 yr old girl. My ears got a treat as well. Hip-Pocalypso and Tree Rhythm are just two types of Ooni music. Hip-Pocalypso sounds cool as hell and I can almost hear the smooth melodies of a Tree Rhythm song.
Zahrah was born with the mark of dada upon her head. Vines intertwined inside her locks. (dadalocks) Dada are rear and believed to have powers. Zahrah lives in northern Ooni on planet Ginen where nature and technology are one. The planet is overrun with vegetation rather then fight it Ooni people embrace it. Everything is cultivated from seeds including computers and buildings. I love how the author explains it.

"My father had given me the cpu seed when I was seven years old, and I had planted and taken care of it all by myself. It was my first responsibility. My flora computer had grown nicely because of my care."

When the story begins Zahrah is 14, since her parents never feared the mark of dada, she has never had to cut her dadalocks. On any planet, if a teenager is marked as different they will be teased. Zahrah starts off as a shy quiet girl teased by classmates and feared by others. Dari, her only friend was a born intellectual. He is a very good influence on Zahrah, challenging her to question why, pushing her to face her fears. About a chapter into the book Zahrah begins her menstrual cycle. That evening she begins to float off her bed. Zahrah can fly. This new ability scares her silent. Finally she confides in Dari.
Zahrah's people embrace nature but they are afraid of Greeny Jungle, known as the forbidden Greeny Jungle. The forbidden Greeny Jungle is an untamed wilderness that no one from Ooni will enter. Everyone happily pretends the jungle does not exist. Ooni adults fear of the forbidden Greeny Jungle is ingrained, their days of exploring have long past. Children are born hearing the stories and warnings of the Forbidden Greeny Jungle, and thus will not enter. The unknown will remained just that until a child refuses to expect stories as truth without evidence. Dari, is that child. He will not allow fear to stop his desire to explore and learn. Though Zahrah is afraid, she goes with Dari. Their friendship is that strong. They don't go just to go, they need a private place so Zahrah can practice flying.
At first everything goes well, then Dari is bitten by a war snake and goes into a coma. The only thing that can save him is the yolk of an unfertilized elgort egg. Elgorts are vicious animals that live deep inside Forbidden Greeny Jungle. To save her friend Zahrah will enter the Forbidden Greeny Jungle alone. Let the adventure begin. Okorafor-Mbachu created a very colorful, entertaining, enjoyable read with Zahrah the Windseeker. I'll leave you with a taste of the books goodness.

"After I screamed I could only gawk as the giant tortoise cracked the scorpion's hard head with its powerful jaw and began to feast on its now limp body with both of its heads! The wet meaty sound and inky color of scorpion's blood, which covered the tortoise's mouths and oozed out of the scorpion's body made me gag with disgust."

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

I'd run for Percy

Two girls ran past customer service today not in a blur but close. My first thoughts were what the hell where are their parents and don't they know better then to run inside a store. A few minutes later though they ran by again Battle of the Labyrinth in hand. I was annoyed no more. I can't hate on new release excitement. Battle of the Labyrinth is a book worth running for.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Dragon's Child - Jenny Nimmo

The Dragon's Child by Jenny Nimmo

The one good thing about doing recovery is finding new books. I was putting back some early chapter books and came across The Dragons's Child by Jenny Nimmo. I gave a little happy squeal. I am always excited to find new chapter books for early readers. Jenny Nimmo is the author of Charlie Bone books, a bestselling series for middle grade readers. I haven't read any of the Charlie Bone books. However, if an early chapter book looks slightly interesting I will read or at least skim it.

The story begins on an island with a mother dragon trying to teach the dragon child, Dando, how to fly. I loved the voice of the mother dragon. You could hear her frustration and impatience as she tried to teach Dando to fly. "No, no sighed the mother dragon lift your wings not your feet." Dando practiced and practiced yet couldn't fly. Flying is a must for dragons, as a group they always fly north. When its time to go he still can't fly. Mother dragon is desperate, so she decides to fly him on her back. Unfortunately Dando can't hold on, and mother dragon doesn't notice him fall. He would be alone on the island if not for bird. Bird and Dando had recently meet becoming quick friends. (for some reason bird makes me think of Woodstock, the snoopy bird) I won't give anything else away you'll have to read it for yourself. Though there is a girl who speaks the language of dragons (If there's a sequel I hope the author explains how she can speak the language of dragons) The island is inhabited by doggins, evil creatures who hunt in packs. Okay that's really it, no more. Check out the rest for yourself. This was a fun well paced read. I would recommend The Dragon's Child to struggling readers. It doesn't read young and is reluctant reader friendly.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Sunrise Over Fallujah - Walter Dean Myers

Sunrise over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers

I finished Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers,the tears are still fresh. The book lived up to the hype. The first novel I read by Myers was Crystal. I had recently started working at the bookstore, so I had no idea who he was. I picked Crystal up because there was a black girl on the cover. It's still one of my favorite Myers novels. I am always attached to the first book I read by good author. Without the first book there would be no second or third. Monster was the second.

After reading Monster there was no going back to not knowing who Walter Dean Myers is and what he's capable of. I was reading rave reviews about Sunrise Over Fallujah months ago. I tend to stay away from books set during war time.

This time though how could I not face my fear and read the words when so many people are still fighting a war that doesn't seem to want to end. To pass on a novel set during the Iraq war because its too sad or real just seems wrong. There are a lot of excellent reviews of Sunrise Over Fallujah online including one by Publishers Weekly. I love that Myers recognizes women serve in the military. I wonder what happened to Yossarian?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Dessen can work a signing

I said no to dessert night at my complex and yes to a Sarah Dessen signing. Today it was very warm in Atlanta. Leave your jacket at home warm, shave or wax your legs so you can wear shorts warm. It was a very nice day, and normally when the weather is nice people don't show up for a booksigning. I thought there would a small turn out 10 tops. I was wrong, teen fans are loyal. When I got there it was still early only few people had arrived. I sat in the back (reading Sunrise over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers) People kept on coming in, I even had to move over for an older couple to sit. If I go to a signing I usually have a question prepared just in case. I always think it would suck to be an author doing a booksigning and on one has a question. This time I didn't need my just in case question. Dessen interacts very well with her fans. Everyone left happy with their signed book including myself. I had her sign my name and blog name. Sweet. Here is a cool fan story. One of Dessen's fans drove down from Florida with her sister. So Dessen gave the fan a necklace.

I love selling Non Bestsellers

Books are bestsellers because they're good and kids love them. When a kid comes in looking for a Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and they're so excited they can't stop talking about it. I get it and love that enthusiasm. If a kids happiness over a bestseller doesn't warm your booklovers heart, I don't want to know you. Come next week when the new Percy Jackson book comes out, kids (few adults as well) will come looking for it, I too will share in their joy and plan on reading it. As much as I enjoy selling bestsellers I love selling non bestsellers. I love selling the other books on the shelve. I think its because I have to work a little bit harder .I like having to work for it sometimes it keeps me on my toes. Also the customer must trust me a little bit more. Sure this is easy with my reqular customers I've already built a relationship with them. Though I know I am at the top of my game when I can get a regular to order a book they haven't seen. (That's some serious trust, and I don't take it for granted) When I get new customers in the kids section I use my time wisely to convice them I know a little something about kids books. Once I know I have their trust,I will show them non bestsellers and bestsellers. I think every book deserves a chance to sell.

Marta Tips for IRA and other Atlanta tourist

So I assume most people coming into town for the International Readers Association May 4- 8 will be using Marta, Atlanta's public transportation system.
1. because gas prices are crazy
2. Atlanta traffic is crazy
3. Everything you will need to get to is accessible by Marta

So here are some very useful information and tips about riding Marta.

Paying for Marta
1. Cost is $2.00
2. Unlike N.Y or San Fran where you swipe the card ( I have no idea what DC does) in Atlanta its a tap system. Just tap n go. You also have to tap to get out of the station, which is totally crazy but whatever. And no the tap to get out doesn't cost
3. NY has the Metro Card, Atlanta has the Breeze Card. For those of you who have never used public transportation, tokens are obsolete. Every city with a pubic transportation system has a card system they use. The breeze card cost you can either pay .50 for a temporary card or $5.00 for a permanent card, after you purchase the card you can add rides. If you are in town for a convention you really only need the temporary card, you can't reload it but you can put enough money on it for a few days
3. Buying a Breeze Card, the machines are set up to take credit cards, but just in case its down make sure you have cash. I forget this one simple rule the last time I had to reload my breeze card and screwed myself. To begin any transaction just hit the screen. Every station has Marta workers to help.
4. Avoid using large bills (unless you wanna feel like you won big at the slot machines) because the Marta machines give back dollar coins. We get tourist in sometimes with pockets filled with dollar coins.
5.Free Bus Transfer

Five Points is Atlanta's version of 42nd street all trains stop there. However Atlanta is like DC when it comes to how many train lines there are, 2
There is the Northbound -Southbound line and the Eastbound -Westbound line,
The Omni, GA Dome etc are on the Eastbound Westbound Line
Peachtree Center Lenox Mall Buckhead are on the Northbound Southbound Line, If you're going to Lenox make sure the train says Doraville station not Northsprings the northbound line splits.
At Five Points the trains open on both sides, it doesn't matter which side you exit from. Some times when exiting Marta, the people getting on do not want to give you space to get off. If you're standing at the door getting ready to exit the train and they still don't give you room ( and they give you a whatever I aint moving look) feel free to throw some bows (elbows, it feels good to give an elbow once in a while when someone refuses to give you room to exit.) You will probably get cussed at if you decide to do this so be prepared, but you can always cuss back plus the people getting off with you got your back, in a verbal fight that is, anything physical and you're on your own. Also if the person looks a little unstable keep your elbows to yourself.

MARTA single tracks on the weekends. If you are going back to the airport I'd suggest you leave an hour earlier than you want.
Now I know how it is when visiting a new city you want to look cute, but please if you plan on riding Marta go for comfortable casual ( no heals ladies) I've seen many a dressed up tourist, looking worn down pissed and frumpled waiting for a delayed train. A good outfit wasted only person happy in that situation is the dry cleaner

Marta stops at the airport. Its the last stop on the Southbound line. So if you decide to ride Marta to your hotel, you shouldn't have a problem finding room for your bags. If you're in town for international readers association or any convention for that matter and your hotel is in Atlanta chances here its on Marta.
When getting on Marta from the airport all the trains are heading Northbound. All trains will stop at Peachtree Center. If your hotel is at the Omni you must transfer at five points to train going westbound. (I forgot how many stops)

The People
Sometimes people on Marta stare, I have no idea why they just do.
Like any other public transportation its best to avoid eye contact
Always have something to do, read, knit, listen to music whatever. This keeps you from having unwanted conversations and trains seems to come faster when you have something to do
Please do not hold on to your friend unless you are a seasoned train surfer because you will fall and the regular riders will be watching and we will laugh.

Marta is actually perfect if you are in town for a convention. Like I said before Atlanta traffic is crazy, and your hotel is probably right on a Marta line. You can easily get to restaurants and cabs can be found.

Please Do Not go walking around Five Points. If your friend told you to check it out they are not your friend. There is nothing to see at Five Points. The only thing you should be doing there is transferring trains or getting on the shuttle to the Braves games. Do not leave the station to walk around there is nothing to see. Same goes for the Underground which is located at Five Points. There is absolutely to see in the Underground. Nothing.

Sarah Dessen Trumps free Dessert

Lucky for me I remembered to check my secondary email, this evening. Sarah Dessen is in town tomorrow. She will be doing a signing at a Library in Decatur,GA. I am so there. I already have the book. So that means no dessert night for me, oh well. Sarah Dessen totally trumps free dessert, its not even close.