Tuesday, November 30, 2010
First Weekly Feature, Hanukkah, Interviews
Hanukkah begins December 1st* (Wednesday) this year.
Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch would make a great Hanukkah gift. I loved this graphic novel. I still think. " Just another troll fighting 11 yr old Orthodox Jewish Girl" is one of the best book tag lines of the year. An excerpt via the author's site
If you visit here on a regular or semi regular basis you might notice that I like interviews. Since its the holiday season, I've decided to mention some of my favorites of the year.
Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey - my interview . I loved Guardian of the Dead. Its one of my favorite YA reads of 2010. I loved how the interview turned out. I remembered to ask everything I wanted to ask. Kirkus selected Guardian of the Dead as a best of YA sci/fi fantasy book of 2010
I loved One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams Garcia. Its one of my favorite middle grade reads of 2010. Back in June, author Zetta Elliott did a three part interview with Williams-Garcia and it was simply WOW. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, One Crazy Summer is a 2010 National Book Award Finalist
The final one is a little more recent. Charlotte interviewed author Robin Mckinley in November about her lastest YA release Pegasus. I love this interview because Mckinley is a well established author who could've easily phoned in, blah answer but didn't. Kirkus selected Pegasus as a best of YA sci/fi fantasy book of 2010
From Zetta and Charlotte's I learned that sometimes its okay to shut up and simply let an author answer. No extra comments necessary.
If you have any favorite 2010 interviews leave the link in the comment box. I'll probably be doing this again next Tuesday.
*December 1st is also the last day to enter author Cindy Pon's Fury of the Phoenix arc contest
Friday, November 26, 2010
Best of List - Personal Opinion (Social Responsibilty)
I am just going to go ahead and say it, its too White. If this list was on Forman's personal blog, I still wouldn't like it, however everyone would know its her personal opinion. Under the title of Oh, To Be Young: The Year's Best Teen Reads. It has much more influence on buyers. Some customers treat NPR suggestions like gospel, especially best of list.
I've read two of these titles and thought both were over hyped. Overall, I was not impressed by this list. If I was going to do a YA best of list with only White female authors it would be
Compromised by Heidi Ayarbe
Heist Society by Ally Carter
A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner
Scars by Cheryl Rainfield
Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams
I would never make such a list. If I did I would call it what it was Favorite Teen Reads by White Female Authors. Chances are great 6 of the lets say 30 people who read this ( it's a holiday weekend) aren't going to like one or more of my five. A few more will love Forman's five picks. That's the great thing about personal opinions-,we are all allowed to have them.
Though, when someone's opinion will influence many there's a social responsibility that comes with that. I don't want a rainbow coalition or a United Nations best of list. However a broader selection of gender and race would be nice, and should be expected when the list is featured on a site like NPR.
I've referenced the title of this best of list, at least twice. So, I don't want to put this out in the world without saying I know NPR probably selected it, not Forman. To that end, NPR should take more care in choosing the title for this feature in the future. "My Favorite Teen Reads" would be more appropriate.
NPR should consider having more then one person submit their favorite YA reads of the year. I think this will allow for more inclusiveness. It would put less pressure on the submitters, knowing their five aren't the only five. It will also let readers know "best of" is relative.
I am going to end with two question.
Do you notice when Best of Lists feature authors/ protagonists of one race, one gender or all are straight?
If you do, does it matter?
I hope no thinks this NPR list is just one of many and this doesn't matter. One homogenous list can quickly turn into more. In April I did a post at Color Online called Would We Forget? I linked to four best of list. There were only nine female authors of color featured.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Cindy Pon's Arc Contest- Fury of the Phoenix
The sequel, Fury of the Phoenix is scheduled to be released at the end of March. I am really looking forward to reading it. Pon's having an arc contest at her blog. Usually I don't mention author contest because the chances of winning are very slim. Though I am making an exception here
Silver Phoenix was very good. It would make a great gifts. If you go to a bookstore, you'll probably have to order it. But its worth it trust me. Or don't take my word for it, go read the excerpt
A Fury of the Phoenix contest, is one thing I wouldn't mind seeing everywhere.
A wonderful series that's not more of the same and is diverse should be hyped up.
The contest is open until Dec. 1. - So if you are a Silver Phoneix fan, go enter and talk it up.
Also, Check out Diversity in YA Fiction - Pon is one of the co-founders.
Diversity in YA Fiction is a website and book tour founded by two young adult authors, Malinda Lo and Cindy Pon, to celebrate diverse stories in YA.
It's nice to see two authors with the same goal working together. Especially when the book market is set up in such a way that authors releasing Asian inspired YA fantasy around the same time could easily be pitted aganist each other. So much kudos to Cindy Pon and Malinda Lo. Lo's next YA novel Huntress is scheduled to come out in April
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
On Sale Now : New Releases (Latino Edition)
La aventura del Dia Mundial de al Escuela by Shakira, illus. by Kellee Riley and Kuni Tomita. And yes tt's the grammy award winning artist. This Dora Explorer book is making the list because I know Shakira does a lot of charity work.*
Manolito Four Eyes by Elvira Lindo, illus by Emilio Urberuga, translated by Joanne Moriarty. This is a popular children's series in Spain. An excerpt
When the Stars go Blue by Caridad Ferrer. I love this cover. This sounds like a beautiful story, I can't wait to read it. Even more so after the author was kind enough to answer a few questions about Latino authors and Young Adult literature for my blog back in October. Ferrer's answers were just WOW. I (I already have my copy) read an excerpt or Ari's rave review
I've done many features and interviews this year, More Latino Authors/Necesitamos mas autores Latinos was one of my favorites. It was only as good as it was because of the authors
Three of my favorite Latino Picture Books of 2010
Chavela and the Magic Bubble by Monica Brown illus. by Magaly Morales. my review
Floating on Mama's Song by Laura Lacamara, illus by Yuyi Morales. my review
The Tooth Fairy Meets El Raton Perez by Rene Colato Lainez, illus by Tom Lintern. my review
*Maybe one of Shakira's people will accidentally find this and tell her about "When the Stars Go Blue" a story about a Latina girl who loves to dance. Shakira reads it and loves it,next thing you know, Ferrer's novel is muy caliente.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Edgar Allan's Official Crime Investigation Notebook - Mary Amato
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Mehrshad " Doret Begardam"
The other day I heard and watched "Doret Begardam" for the first time. The song is lovely and the video is beautiful.
Mehrshad is an Iranian band. I think Doret Begardam roughly translates to "I turn round you" but please someone correct me if I am wrong. There is a good chance that I am.
Friday, November 19, 2010
The Samantha Granger Experiment: Fused - Kari Lee Townsend
Sam is a regular girl who accidentally becomes a superhero. I like that Sam doesn't instantly understand what happened. It takes her a little time to figure it out. Somehow 911 calls are being redirected to Sam's phone, located in her palm. She has no choice but to answer. To protect her identity Sam starts wearing a disguise. The only person who knows about Sam's new abilities is her best friend Melody. If anyone else finds out the scientist studying the crystal might want to study Sam.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Blank Confession Pete Hautman
Shayne Blank walks into the police station, confessing to a murder. Detective Rawls listens to Shayne confession and doesn't know what to make of him. The story alternates between Shayne's confession in a precinct interview room to Mikey Martin, his one friend in town. Everyone assumes Mikey is Mexican even though his mother is Haitian and his father is Italian. Three true things about Mikey - he has a smart mouth, is short and loves to wear suits. All of that plays a roll into the new kid confessing to murder. Shayne is as mysterious as his last name. Two true things about Shayne - rides a motorcycle and is not afraid of bullies.
"Who did you kill?" The kid didn't say anything, same as the first time Rawls had asked him that question instead, he reached for the metal ring attached to a hinge bolted to the tabletop and ran his fingers over it. The ring was there so that a potentially violent suspect could be handcuffed to the steel table, which was bolted to the floor. Rawls sat back and looked at his was 5:09. It didn't matter. This time he was going to wait for the kid to speak, no matter how long it took. It took two minutes and thirteen seconds."
This is the first novel, I've read by Hautman, though I've always heard great things, now I know why. Blank Confession is an intense realistic novel with drugs, violence and bullying that's very hard to put down. I loved it. Its very refreshing to read a well crafted YA novel that's only 170 pages at a time when longer is supposedly better. Very reluctant reader friendly. ages 14up
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Behemoth - Scott Westerfeld
I love how author embraces diversity in the world he's placed his characters in, and with his secondary characters.
"We split off from those cretins years ago. They think that only Turks are true Ottomans. But as you can see, the Committee takes in all kinds." He gestured at the other two men. "My friends are Vlachs, I am Armenian, and we have Kurds, Arabs and Jews among us. And plenty of Turks of course."
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
On Sale Now: New Releases (Mark Your Calenders)
Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters by President Barack Obama illus. Loren Long
Sugar Changed the World : A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery and Freedom by Aronson & Budhos - I've only had a change to flip through this but it looks amazing. This is definitely one of those not just for teens non fiction reads.
Edgar Allan's Official Crime Investigation Notebook by Mary Amato - Edgar Allan is trying to find the person who kidnapped the classroom fish before his rival Patrick Chen. I am only a few pages in but so far a very fun middle grade novel.
Blank Confession by Pete Hautman - The story alternates between to characters, one is Mikey who is biracial. His mother is Haitian and his father is Italian. This book was so good. Review to come.
The Boy from IIysies by Pearl North - I missed this one last week. Its the next book in the Libyrinth which I really enjoyed.
Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld - The main characters are White, the book is making the list because the author doesn't embraces diversity in the world he's placed his characters and with his secondary characters. I loved Behemoth, so I am very happy I was able to add it to the list.
"We split off from those cretins years ago. They think that only Turks are true Ottomans. But as you can see, the Committe takes in all kinds." He gestured at the other two men. "My friends are Vlachs, I am Armenian, and we have Kurds, Arabs and Jews among us. And plenty of Turks of course."
The Painted Boy by Charles de Lint
With the year coming to an end, the On Sale Now feature will get shorter and shorter. I decided to add on Mark Your Calenders, highlighting one or two new releases. So I don't list too many, the upcoming releases must tie in to one of the featured on sale now titles some how. Last week was the first time included Mark Your Calenders, just naming 2 upcoming 2011 releases.Mark Your Calenders
Ladder to the Moon by Maya Soetoro-Ng illus by Yuyi Morales
Maya Soetore-Ng is President Obama's half sister. This book is not scheduled to be released until April, but its illustrated by Morales, and looks gorgeous, so I am putting it on your radar early.
Ari has a list going of 2011 MG/YA authors of color. So far there are only 10 authors. If you know of any debut authors of color, please leave their name in Ari' comment box.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Truth With A Capital T - Bethany Hegedus
Saturday, November 13, 2010
A YA Slump (Don't Believe the Hype)
I went to amazon to see what other people thought of it. All five and four star reviews. Mostly fives. I was shocked and little pissed. I am done with, over hyped and over rated YA novels. As far as book ratings are concerned I am tired of 4 being the new 3.
I place all of my reviews on amazon. Since I have to rate them I do. There's anything wrong with rating a book a three. If its rating without a review, I could see why some would be hesitant go lower then four. Though most places where reviews are appected, online - amazon, goodreads, shelfari, etc, people are allowed to write review to go along with the rating. If many people are avoiding three, doesn't that decrease the value of four?
Though I don't review the YA novels that I feel fall very short of the abundance of "five star praise" I am quick to warn customers when I see them with the books in their hand. Sometimes I have the urge to snatch the really bad ones out of their hands. But, I restrain myself. I do tell the customers they may want to read the first chapter before they buy the book.
The other day, while I was checking a customer out, she told me I talked her out of a YA novel. Since then she heard it wasn't that great and borrowed the book from a friend and still hasn't read it. I warned many people against this YA novel (that shall not be named), when it was in hardcover. People should not spend money on poorly written hardcovers.
Don't Belive the Hypne on over buzzed and over rated novels.
* It wolud be wrong not to point out a few recent releases that are very far from more of the same.
The Foundling's Tale by D.M. Cornish. This this the third book in the Lamplighter series. These books are very good and original.
Behemoth by Scott Westerfield - The second book in the Leviathan series. I thought the first one was good with potential and loved Behemoth. (review to come)
Dust City by Robert Paul Weston -
I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett
The Boy from IIyseis by Pearl North - The second book in the Libyrinth series. I really enjoyed the first book. Looking forward to seeing what the author does next
Blank Confession by Peter Hautman - the only YA fiction novel. (very good, review to come)
I wish I could add more YA fiction titles but my luck with this genre has been so bad lately afraid to pick anything up. Though thanks to Weston, Westerfield and Hautman that may be changing. Also I will be reading Illyria by Elizabeth Hand soon. I've heard great things from reviewers I trust so I hoping my streak of good YA books will continue.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
A Long Walk to Water - Linda Sue Park
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Pull - B.A. Binns
David is starting over, after his father murdered his mother. New surname, school and state. Entering his senior year of high school, and the oldest of three. David has two sisters, Barney and Linda, he is now responsible for keeping them together. The three move from California to Chicago, to live with their Aunt Edie in a small one bedroom apartment.
After school David works at a construction site, earning money for rent. Still haunted by the murder of his mother. David just want to lay low his senior year, graduate and look out for his sisters.
At school David is attracted to Yolanda Dare (The Dare) , who is dating Malik. Malik is on the basketball team and thinks much of himself. David is doing his best to avoid the couple and keep Malik away from his sister, Barney.
Binns manages to touch upon many issues. David reflecting on his parents abusive relationship. Knowing he doesn't want to be like his father and wondering why his mom stayed. Don't see much of David's youngest sister Linda, the same is not true for Barney.
I liked the storyline, of Malik going after Barney. In YA you already ever see the unsuspecting girl being worked on by an older guy. So many girls at that Barney's age end up in bad sexual relationships because they' re vulnerable. That could've easily happened to Barney, she was exposed to her parents abusive relationships and uprooted to a new home. Part of me thinks maybe the author wanted the reader to see Barney could've easily been the next Yolanda without her brother.
There is a lot going on in Pull but at no point does it feel like an issues book. It reads smoothly from beginning to end. The author gets the first kiss out of the way very early but David isn't involved. Its Neill and Carl who are kissing, the two are a couple. David and Barney sit at their lunch time with their group of friends. Binns doesn't make a big deal about the kiss or Neil and Carl's relationship. They are simply allowed to be another couple in the background.
David's a well drawn character and I loved his voice. The ending of Pull was unexpected, hopeful and very fitting. I thought Pull was very well done and really enjoyed it.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
The Boy in the Garden by Allen Say
On Sale Now : New Releases (Mark Your Calenders)
La Noche Buena: A Christmas Story by Antonio Sacre illus by Angela Dominquez.
All Aboard! Elijah McCoy's Steam Engine by Monica Kulling illus. by Bill Slavin
Sonia Sotomayor:Supreme Court Justice by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand illus. Thomas Gonzalez
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park - check out a Publishers Weekly interview with the author
Starfleet Academy by Rick Barba
Losing Romeo by A.J. Byrd
The Good Long Way by Rene Saldana Jr. - check out an interview with the author @ Pluma Fronteriza
Ash by Malinda Lo the paperback edition
Mark Your Calenders
Jeridine Nolen will be releasing her first middle grade novel in Jan. 2011
Eliza's Freedom Road : An Underground Railround I am very excited about this release. I am a big fan of Nolen ever since Raising Dragons and I can't leave out Thunder Rose . I love this cover by illustrator Shadra Strickland. This small image doesn't do it justice. Check out Strickland's evolution of a cover , for a much better look
Malinda Lo's second Young Adult novel Huntress comes out in April 2011. This cover is so ridiculously gorgeous and good on so many levels. Love It. Check out Lo's cover reveal
Sunday, November 7, 2010
A Cybils Inspired Poem
The End is not the End
Nonfiction picture books
Strewn about my place
All in the name of
Children's and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Awards
Known to most as
I am a
NFPB First Round Panelist
An honor, I take seriously
Reading and scrutinizing 2010 NFPB
With a new found eye
Beginning with the positive
Jotting down "What I liked"
Before anything else
After a story concludes
And the 5 W's ,
Who, What, When, Where, Why,
And the lone H
I am still at it
Even though my writing is
more illegible with each new pen stroke
(too much keyboard time )
I continue scribbling away
On this and that
The end is not the end
Like an Olympic judge
I will deduct points
When a timeline
even an author's note
Is not to be found
I am shaking my head
No, No, No,
Why, Why, Why,
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Seaside Dream - Janet Costa Bates - Lamert Davis
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Interview with Lisa Yee
Author Lisa Yee was kind enough to answer a few questions.
1. Hello Lisa. - If Bobby had a Dr. Seuss's "My Book About Me" journal, what would Bobby say about Bobby?
Bobby would say, "I am a boy. I'm not the tallest or shortest in my class. My hair is a mess, but it's not worth combing since it'll just get messy again. I live in a house in Rancho Rosetta, California, America, Earth. And my name is Robert, but I like it best when people call me "Bobby."
2. Bobby The Brave (sometimes) is the second book in the Bobby Ellis Chan series. Like the first one, I loved it because Bobby comes across as very real.
Does Bobby ever surprise you? Did you know he would a skateboarder?
The kindness Bobby shows to his little sister surprised me. I knew he was a nice boy, but as I was creating his character, I realized that unlike a lot of siblings who fight, he is patient with Casey. I wanted this to balance out his relationship with his moody teenage sister, Annie.
As for skateboarding, that I did know about! The book is very loosely based on my son when he was in fourth grade, and he's a skater. (For the record, I skateboarded when I was a kid. But it was basically, go up the street. Get off the the board. Turn around. Go down the street. Repeat.)
3. Bobby is such a great big brother. Bobby's family and friends are as important to these stories as Bobby. How much time did you take developing them?
It took me weeks to develop Bobby's world. However, the one thing I knew from the start was that Bobby was going to have parents who loved each other, and a family that (mostly) got along. I also wanted him to have good friends, including one who was a girl. With this backdrop, I knew that I could create situations for Bobby where even though he has a strong support system, he still felt alone at times.
I've heard from so many kids who say they can relate to Bobby, especially when he gets sad or embarrassed.
4. Its obivous a lot of care went into all the of the characters. Santat's illustrations are great. The facial expressions are always spot on perfect (even the gnome and the fish on the cover)
Its not easy finding middle grade novels (fantasy not included) with male protagonist for ages 8 up. With the artwork, short chapters and stories less then 180 pages, this series is geared toward children beginning to read longer novels.
Did you know this middle grade void existed? Did you consciously set out to help fill it?
I had no idea there was a void in this category until after I had written the first book! I just wanted to write something that my son would have loved to read when he was in the fourth grade--and actually the series was his idea.
He said to me, "Why don't you write a book with not a lot of commotion, like that Cleary woman." Of course he meant the great Beverly Cleary. So I set about to write something about the ups and downs of elementary school, with no vampires, epic battles, or weapons.
5.Will we ever get to see the 27 toes of the cat that terrorizes Bobby's neighborhood?
LOL! That remains to be seen
6. How many books do you have planned in this series ?
There is no set number planned, but the first book took place in September, and the second one was in October. So perhaps there's a pattern there. However, right now my focus is on a new middle grade novel that's completely different from anything I've done before. It's very exciting, but I can't talk about it yet because I don't want to jinx it!
7.Can you tell us a little about your next middle grade novel Warp Speed?
Warp Speed is about a kid named Marley Sandelski, a Star Trek geek who is beat up everyday at school. This book picks up where the Millicent Min trilogy left off. In Marley's story, he's a nobody until something unforeseen and tragic occurs - then suddenly everyone knows who he is. Only, Marley doesn't do well in the spotlight and wishes that he could be invisible again.
Lisa, thanks so much for your time. I am looking forward to reading many more of your books. I will end by confessing I enjoy visiting your blog to see what Peepy is up to and all the famous people she's meeting.
If any one if marking their 2011 calenders, Warp Speed is scheduled to be released in March.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
On Sale Now : New Releases
Also every week I miss at least 1 or 2 new releases. Every Tuesday or Wednesday when I go to work and see a few I've missed. Many of these books have soft release dates. Meaning catalogs and amazon may have the release date as Nov. 16 but the book hits the stores on Nov 2. There is just no knowing.
The only thing I can promise all the titles are 2010 releases.
Seaside Dream by Janet Costa Bates illus by Lamert Davis - This is Bates picture book debut. Its a lovely story featuring a grandmother and granddaughter with beautiful illustrations. Its the first picture book I've seen gives young readers a little insight into Cape Verde
Look See, look at me! by Leonie Norrington This was a great find, its a celebration of life in an Aboriginal community. The author grew up in a Barunga Aboriginal community
Wings and Dreams/Alas y Suenos The Legend of Angel Falls by Irania Macias Patterson illus. by Catherine Courtland McElvane - Another great find*, a newly imagined folktale from Venezuela by a Venezuelan author
The Boy in the Garden by Allen Say - This is a beautiful story, as always Say's artwork is amazing. I am pretty sure Say writes picture books in his spare time. The rest of Say'swork can be found hanging in museums.
Almost Zero: A Dyamonde Daniel Book by Nikki Grimes illus by R. Gregory Christie - This is the third book in this early chapter series. Grimes and Christie together to me that screams must read. And yes I do love this series.
More Spooky Texas Tales by Tim Tingle and Doc Moore - Of course I would find this one after Halloween, oh well. Spooky stories are great anytime.
Where the Streets Had a Name by Randa Abdel-Fattah - This is Abdel-Fattah's third novel and first middle grade novel. I loved her YA debut Does My Head Look Big in This? Really looking forward to reading this one.
Sweet Treats and Secret Crushes by Lisa Greenwald - This is a cute middle grade novel about three best friends who may be growing apart. One of the girls is Chinese.
Dragon Chica by May-Lee Chai - This is classified as fiction. Though I haven't read it, I am putting it on the list. Its a coming of age story and the protagonist is 11 yrs old at the onset.
Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self by Danielle Evans - This is a collection of coming of age short stories. Again fiction but works very well as a crossover. These stories are ridiculously good. The first story Virgin's was featured in 2007 Paris Review. read an excerpt
*I am on my game tonight.