Friday, September 30, 2011

Under the Mesquite - Guadalupe Garcia McCall

Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall
A novel in verse. Lupita loves writing in her journal. The oldest of eight siblings, Lupita has a lot of responsibilities even more when her mother becomes ill. The story spans Lupita's high school years and is broken up into six parts. I either like a verse novel or I don't, there is no middle ground. I consider verse a structured free form, that requires a certain amount of rhythm. Its easy to find poorly written novels in this style but the good ones are come by. McCall's debut is a great one.

There's an honesty and beauty to Lupita's voice. I love how the author makes Lupita and her family come to life. The novel moves at a beautiful pace with each poem tying in nicely to tell Lupita's story. These poems also work very well separately. It's a joy to flip and read a random entry. This is a very emotional read that never feels forced. Everything comes about naturally. I have much respect for an author that simply writes with the intention of telling a good story as opposed to playing on readers feelings to get the biggest reaction. The release date of Under the Mesquite got pushed back twice. It was well worth the wait. One of my favorite debuts of the year.

From Senorita

Senorita is a nina,
the girl I used to be,
who has lost her voice

A starred Kirkus Review
An excerpt

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Shattering - Karen Healey

The Shattering by Karen Healey
Keri's is trying to come to terms with the suicide of her older brother, Jake. Then Janna a friend from Keri's past tells her Jake was probably murdered. Janna's older brother's death was also labeled a suicide. Keri and Janna live in Summerton, a small beautiful New Zealand island and tourist favorite. Though it's Sione, a tourist who first figures out that the suicides in Summerton have a pattern. He too as lost an older brother to the island. The three decide to work together to find out the truth about the yearly suicides.

The mystery lies in the how and the why as opposed to the who. A very smart move by the author. Since it's set on an island the number of suspects is going to be limited to begin with, so rather then create unbelievable red herrings Healey focuses her energy elsewhere. Much of that goes into the main characters. I loved their individual stories. Each is dealing with things that will impact how they get along and face what's really going on in Summerton. Keri, Janna and Sione all get the same amount of fact time thanks to alternating chapters. It was very nice to see the author once again embracing a diverse cast. Shattering is one of those novels that I enjoyed when I was done and continues to grow on me as I look back on it

Healey set the bar very high with her award winning debut, Guardian of the Dead. Shattering is a very good, page turning follow up.

An excerpt via Little Brown.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bronxwood - Coe Booth

Bronxwood by Coe Booth
When Tyrell's father is released from jail, the two clash. Tyrell supported his mother and younger brother for a year and can't go back to the way things were. The inability of father and son to get along comes across well especially since the father hasn't changed.

Tyrell lives with his best friend Cal and Cal's older brother Greg. Tyrell and Cal's relationship was one of the stories strengths. Their life long friendship allow them to be as honest as they wanted to be with each other.

Bronxwood is filled with a lot of drama. Though the author manages it well I could've done with less. Once again Tyrell's voice is strong, realistic and believable. This is a solid sequel that Tyrell fans will love.

An excerpt

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Summer Jackson - Teresa E Harris, AG Ford

Summer Jackson: Grown Up by Teresa E. Harris, illus. by AG Ford
Tired of being seven, Summer throws out all of her toys and stuffed animals. From now on she's a grown up. Summer now carries a briefcase, and wears high heels. The fun text along with Ford's perfect fit illustrations make this a great read aloud.

I meet with my clients during playtime. " So, what you're saying is you want to play soccer during recess, but you want to play basketball, and you want to poke bugs with a stick? Okay. Monday and Wednesday, soccer, Tuesday and Thursday, basketball and on Fridays you poke bugs with a stick. Get it? Got it? Good. That will be $2.50."

This is an excellent picture book debut by Harris. Fancy Nancy fans will love Summer Jackson. A 2011 favorite

An excerpt

Thursday, September 1, 2011

On Sale Now: New Releases

New Releases for the month of September featuring Characters of Color or a Diverse Cast. The list is a good size, usually that means I've included a lot of missed releases from a previous month. All are September releases expect for four from August.

My Hands Sing The Blues:Romare Bearden's Childhood Journey by Jeanne Walker Harvey illus by Elizabeth Zunon - my review

Marisol McDonald Doesn't Match by Monica Brown illus. by Sara Palacios

Belle, The Last Mule at Gee's Bend by Calvin Alexander Ramsey & Bettye Stroud illus. by John Holyfield

The Boy From Dragon Palace by Margaret Read MacDonald illus. by Sachiko Yoshikawa

Heart and Soul by Kadir Nelson

Drawing From Memory by Allen Say

Ruby's New Home by Lauren and Tony Dungy illus. by Vanessa Brantley Newton

Keena Ford and the Secret Journal Mix up by Melissa Thompson illus. by Frank Morrison

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Dean Bodies, Funerals, and other Fatal Circumstances by Lenore Look

How Tia Lola Ended Up Starting Over by Julia Alvarez

The Unforgotten Coat by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Nerds: The Cheerleaders of Doom by Michael Buckley

Planet Middle School by Nikki Grimes

With the Might of Angels by Andrea Davis Pinkney

Starfields by Carolyn Marsden

Dragon of Silk by Laurence Yep

Nowhere Girl by A.J. Pagquette

Saint Louis Armstrong Beach by Brenda Woods

Jefferson's Sons by Kimberly Bradley

A Girl Named Faithful Plum by Richard Bernstein

Tankborn by Karen Sandler

Galaxy Games by Greg R. Fishbone

Wolf Mark by Joseph Bruchac

Bronxwood by Coe Booth

Amigas: Point Me To Tomorrow by Veronica Chambers

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Comsic Storm by Dom Testa

Ambitious by Monica McKayhan - my review

My Own Worst Frenemy by Kimberly Reid

The Shattering by Karen Healey

Perfect by Ellen Hopkins

Dear Bully edited by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones

What You Wish For by Various Authors

Possess by Gretchen McNeil