Nov 30, 2010

Book Review: The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

by Daisy Whitney
9780316090537, $16.99, Little Brown (Hachette)

E. Lockhart’s The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks meets Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak in this debut novel.

I love the tagline for this book:

“Hush little students, don’t say a word…”

There’s something slightly creepy about nursery rhymes used in non-nursery rhyme contexts. While this isn’t a YA horror novel, the teens at Themis Academy do need to watch their backs. Because while the administration at this private boarding school may believe all their students are perfect, the Mockingbirds are fully aware that not everyone acts honorably all the time. Where the administration fails to enforce any sort of consequence for dishonorable conduct, the Mockingbirds step in to pick up the slack.

When Alexandra Nicole Patrick gets date-raped in her junior year by a popular member of the water polo team, she knows going to the administration is not an option. Neither is going to the police, which will only result in lots of publicity, hysterics from her parents, and Alex getting yanked out of Themis – none of which she wants to deal with. What does Alex want? Justice. And there’s only one place to go for justice at Themis Academy – The Mockingbirds.

An underground system for justice, the Mockingbirds are a student organization set up several years ago by Alex’s older sister. Their purpose is to be judge and jury for student-against-student crimes. There are three tiers of Mockingbird participants, a system of checks-and-balances, and above all, fair justice dealt out to all parties involved.

With the help and support of her roommates T.S. and Maia, Alex accuses Carter Hutchinson of date rape. There’s only one problem – Alex doesn’t remember a lot of details from that night. If she was too drunk to say yes, then it follows that she was too drunk to participate in consensual sex, and therefore Carter raped her. Or did he?

As the Mockingbirds investigate, Maia cross-examines, and T.S. offers moral support, Alex tries to retain some semblance of her before life – before the rape, before she avoided the cafeteria for meals, before she started mapping out new Carter-less routes to class, and before she began having flashbacks to a night she’d almost prefer remain a mystery. Alex just wants to focus on playing the piano, on the possibility of getting into Julliard, and on her new crush-like feelings for Martin, one of the three students on the Mockingbirds’ board of directors. It’s when Alex learns more about the Mockingbirds’ history, when other female students let Alex know similar things have happened to them, and when Alex gets tired of living in the difference of before vs. after that she begins to realize the importance of standing up, speaking out, and ensuring that justice – even an underground, student-run justice – is the only way to finally get back to being just normal.

Nov 28, 2010

Mass Market Monday: Eat Prey Love by Kerrelyn Sparks

Welcome to Mass Market Monday, 
a weekly meme where people share what mass market titles they've read in the previous week.

To participate:

1. Enter your blog into the list below with the main type of books you review.
Example: Blog Name (main type of books you review or "eclectic")
Wildly Read (eclectic children's & adult)

2. Post about this meme on your blog, sharing your Monday mass market review.

3. Visit other blogs on the list, finding great book recommendations, following new blogs, and sharing your own.

And now, for my Mass Market Monday review:
Eat Prey Love
by Kerrelyn Sparks
9780061958038, $7.99, Avon (Harper)

How could I not read a book with this title? Though the story had absolutely nothing to do with the famed Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert nor the movie based on the novel starring Julia Roberts, the title spoof alone was enough to have me pick up this book - which, let's face it, was probably the whole point. Though by no means great literature (and sorry, but I don't consider Eat, Pray, Love GL either), I definitely enjoyed it.

I'm stealing this tagline from the Publisher's Weekly review:

Wanted: Bride. Must love children. Mortals need not apply.

Too bad the one woman who smells perfect also smells human. Carlos Panterra can shapeshift into a jaguar, and possibly one of the last of his kind thanks to a merciless slaughter of two were-jaguar villages. He was able to save a few young, but now he's on a hunt for a woman of his species to not only mother these orphans but to produce more babies to help carry on the were-jaguar line. It's highly unlikely that Caitlyn Whelan would be able to do so, despite her own special skills.

Caitlyn can learn any language in minutes, include the language of animals. Though unable to turn into any other being herself, Caitlyn's special abilities make her much more understanding of the paranormal set, including her sister who happens to be married to a vampire. Caitlyn's father, however, is the head of a CIA agency bent on hunting, killing, and eventually eradicating all vamps and shifters everywhere, even if they haven't committed any crimes. When Caitlyn becomes part of the paranormal agency, she is choosing to stand against her father and to work with Carlos on finding a mate for him, despite her own nearly irresistible attraction.

As Carlos and Caitlyn travel deeper into the jungle on a hunt for rumored were-jaguars, the temperature and their passions get hotter and hotter as they encounter were-tigers, battle evil vampires, and use up another one of Carlos's nine lives. A quick read that includes steamy jungle sex, I highly recommend this for a guilty pleasure book.

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I'd Like to Thank the Academy...

Actually, I'd like to thank Ms. Emily Crowe of As the Crowe Flies (and Reads!) for passing on the Versatile Blogger Award! This is my first award on my new blog, and I'm thrilled to receive it from a friend, fellow blogger, and person whose opinion I trust. And now, to pay it forward...

The rules of the award are as follows:

1.  Share 7 things about ourselves.

a. I love flying, especially that moment at takeoff, because I find it exhilarating to have no control over whether I live or die.
b. I love high-heeled shoes but almost never wear them.
c. If I ever get married, I would like pies instead of cake at my wedding.
d. I prefer myself in contacts rather than glasses, but love glasses on other people.
e. I have lived in Massachusetts for 7 years but have yet to get an in-state license. (No, that is not because I like my driver's license picture. It's because I hate the DMV.)
f. My last meal: appetizer: my mother's spanikopita with a glass of my favorite Pinot Grigio; soup: my mother's chicken soup with matzoh balls; main course: filet mignon - medium/rare, seared tuna steak so it has a thin cooked layer of seasoning but is raw on the inside, garlic mashed potatoes with gravy & butter, french cut green beans with toasted almonds, shot of Jack; dessert: my grandmother's cherry pie with one pumpkin, walnut, chocolate chip cookie on the side; shot of Patron silver.
g. Though I like giving my opinion, I'm uncomfortable making seven "I" statements in a row.

2.  Pass the award on to 10 bloggers recently discovered.

a. Bibliophile Brouhaha
b. Walk the Ridgepole
c. There's a Book
d. The Grammarian's Reviews
e. The Broke and the Bookish
f. Got Books?
g. Female Illustrators of the Mid-20th Century
h. Book of Secrets
i. Bloggin' 'bout Books
j. Between the Covers

3.  Notify the blogger recipients. - Done
4.  Link to the blogger who gave us the award. - and Done (see above)

What a great post-Thanksgiving pick-me-up. 

And don't forget to check out tomorrow's Mass Market Monday meme!

Nov 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I struggle with this holiday, like I struggle with most American-history holidays, because we celebrants tend to remember only one side of the holiday story - the White side, the colonizer side, the winning side. Though my people (only 2nd generation here) came over after most of the overt colonizing had taken place, I struggle with the lack of respect for and remembrance of the Native Peoples living in the Americas that is still prevalent in today's society, despite often living next to people from those cultures still alive today.

This isn't intended to be a soapbox, so I'll step down now and simply say this book, published by National Geographic (Random House), does a decent job of taking into consideration both the Wampanoag Indians' history as well as the Pilgrims' history when discussing this holiday. 

1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving 
by Catherine O'Neill Grace & Margaret Bruchac, photographs by Sisse Brimberg & Cotton Coulson
Hardcover: 9780792270270, $17.95
Paperback: 9780792261391, $7.95

Reenacted at the Plimoth Plantation, full-color photographs of people in historical regalia accompany sections of text written by various historians of both White and Native American Indian backgrounds. The text, written on a level to be enjoyed by 8-12-year-olds (and up!), may startle you by laying to rest misconceptions and myths you didn't even know you perpetuated/believed.

Also check out Plimoth Plantation's interactive First Thanksgiving website.

Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate 
and/or commemorate this American holiday!

Nov 24, 2010

Word of the Day: Lagniappe

I can't wait to receive my lagniappe, coming in the mail, and from a Southern-speaking friend at that!

Nov 22, 2010

Mass Market Monday:

Welcome to Mass Market Monday, 
a weekly meme where people share what mass market titles they've read in the previous week.

To participate:

1. Enter your blog into the list below with the main type of books you review.
Example: Blog Name (main type of books you review or "eclectic")
Wildly Read (eclectic children's & adult)

2. Post about this meme on your blog, sharing your Monday mass market review.

3. Visit other blogs on the list, finding great book recommendations, following new blogs, and sharing your own.

And now, for my Mass Market Monday review:

Stars, containing Hidden Star and Captive Star (books 1 & 2 in the Stars of Mithra trilogy)
by Nora Roberts
9780373285624, $7.99, Silhouette (Harlequin)

It's back to the basics this Monday - the tried-and-true - my go-to mass market (MM) author whenever I'm feeling blue - the NYTimes bestselling author, Nora Roberts!

I've been reading NR for over half my life and I'm constantly amazed by the way her writing stays current and new. Even in books such as Stars, a republishing/repackaging of two of her earlier novels, she has a way of gently infusing her writing with an edge, with elements of fringe culture, with unexpected personality traits, and uncommon interests, often years before those influences become more mainstream.

For instance, her female characters, even while meeting a man and falling in love, tend to be strong in their own right, independent, and demanding of equal respect from their male partners (not something all romantic fiction authors write about). In Hidden Star and Captive Star, the two books contained in Stars, though originally published in 1997, reading them now over 10 years later, there are so many character elements that could fit right into daily life now.

In Hidden Star, Bailey James is suffering from amnesia. She can't remember who she is or what she is running from. All she knows is that she woke up in a hotel room with a gun, a bag full of cash, and a large blue diamond. Going to the police isn't an option, so she goes to the next best thing - private investigator Cade Parris. Never one to turn away a damsel in distress, Cade takes the case, and ends up taking Bailey James home - all with the best intentions, of course. As they slowly uncover who she might be (gemologist), who she is running from (evil older step-brother who has already killed once and won't hesitate to do it again), and who else might be involved (her two best girl-friends who have gone MIA with the other two diamonds), they also uncover that they might be in love.

The trilogy continues in Captive Star when friend #2, M.J. O'Leary, gets arrested by bounty hunter Jack Dakota. Though an expert in martial arts, and holding her own in any fight, M.J. ends up handcuffed to Jack Dakota, running for her life when two men start trying to kill them in what was an obvious set-up by the evil men after the diamond. Forced to trust each other in war, if not in love, M.J. and Jack race around trying to lose their tail, but find Bailey and Grace (BFF #3), without losing their lives. In the process, they just may figure out how to make a life together.

Favorite parts? The sexy little tattoos all three women got together in college. M.J. leaning out of a car window to shoot at the men chasing them. Bailey getting all hot-and-bothered in the kitchen but not wanting to let Cade know. And of course, the steamy sex. Bailey's the lingerie-princess-type, while M.J. just happens not to be wearing any underwear on "getting arrested" day. My ultimate favorite part is how I can relate to both characters in different ways (though I gotta be honest, the shooting at people out the window is probably more my style).

Looking forward to reading Treasures, the next MM that contains Secret Star, the third and final book in the Stars of Mithra trilogy.

Nov 21, 2010

Celebrate the Haul-idays with Chronicle Books

Attention Book Bloggers and those who just love books:

Chronicle Books, publisher extraordinaire based in San Francisco, is helping us celebrate the holidays with a chance to win
$500 worth of Chronicle titles!

Celebrate the Haul-idays with Chronicle Books

If you're a blogger, create your own list and add your own blog.
If you're not a blogger, comment in the comments field on my blog for your own chance to win a Chronicle haul.

As the rules request, here is my list of Chronicle titles I would love to haul in if my blog name is picked to win. The hardest part of entering this contest? Keeping my list to only $500! Chronicle is one of my favorite publishers: the innovative design of their books, the unique children's books they acquire, and the saucy adult books they publish all combine to make looking through the Chronicle catalogue similar to looking through a shoe catalogue (for me, anyway) - as in something to savor in my favorite chair with a glass of wine and an open checkbook.


Children's Titles

Alphabeasties and Other Amazing Types by Sharon Werner and Sarah Forss (9781934706787, $19.99)
(I have been coveting this book for over a year, and included it in my ABC book roundup here.)

Binth Matching Game by Binth (9780811869294, $24.95)

Bruno Munari:
Bruno Munari's ABC by Bruno Munari (9780811854634, $19.99)
Bruno Munari's Zoo by Bruno Munari (9780811848305, $17.99)

Classic Illustrated Editions:
(I love this entire series and have been slowly - slowly - collecting them for myself.)
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, compiled by Cooper Edens (9780811875585, $14.99)
Robin Hood by E. Charles Vivian, compiled by Cooper Edens (9780811833998, $19.95)

Creature project:
(I can't decide! One of these for sure, though.)
Creature by Andrew Zuckerman (9780811861533, $60)
Creature ABC by Andrew Zuckerman (9780811869782, $19.99)

Flash Cards:
Alphabet Flash Cards by Beth Nelson (9780811843942, $14.95)
Alphabet Animals Flash Cards by Lisa DeJohn (9780811864657, $14.95)
Alphabeasties Flash Cards by Sharon Werner and Sarah Forss (9781609050030, $15.99)
(I've decided when I have a child, I will buy packages of gorgeous flash cards like these, frame them in sets, and put those up as decorations in my child's room. Read my earlier odes to mixed-media artists [including Lisa DeJohn & Lorena Siminovich] here.)

For Just One Day by Laura Leuck, illustrated by Marc Boutavant (9780811856102, $16.99)
(This was a favorite handsell of mine at the Odyssey Book Shop last winter season, and I still say it's one of the best to give a 2-4 year-old. I can't remember if I ever got a copy for myself!)

A Long Piece of String by William Wondriska (9780811874939, $15.99)

Out of Sight by Pittau & Gervais (9780811877121, $19.99)

Shadow by Suzy Lee (9780811872805, $15.99)
(Suzy Lee stole my heart with her first wordless picture book Wave. I continued to be enamored when I saw Mirror [read my review here] and now can't wait to see what she does with Shadow.)

Wild Horse Winter by Tetsuya Honda (9780811812115, $6.95)

Young Adult Titles

Prisoners in the Palace: How Princess Victoria became Queen with the Help of Her Maid, a Reporter, and a Scoundrel by Michaela MacColl (9780811873000, $16.99)
(Wins the award for my favorite cover design.)

Adult Titles

(Masquerading as a picture book, this is actually intended for snarky-humored adults. I included it in my "Picturebooks for Adults" roundup here.)
Cake Pops by Bakerella: Tips, Tricks, and Recipes for Irresistible Mini Treats by Angie Dudley (9780811876377, $19.95)
(Every year, my friend Mattie & I give each other books for various holidays - she gets cupcake books; I get interior decorating with flea market style coffee table books. She doesn't actually bake and I'm not actually an interior decorator, but we both love looking at the pictures. Though these aren't cupcakes, I think they'll do. This book would be for her.)

Hot Type: 30 Sheets of Typographic Fabric Transfers by Brett MacFadden and Scott Thorpe (9780811870863, $12.95)
Let's Bring Back: An Encyclopedia of Forgotten-Yet-Delightful, Chic, Useful, Curious, and Otherwise Commendable Things from Times Gone By by Lesley M.M. Blume, illustrated by Grady McFerrin (9780811874137, $19.95) 
(You may remember Ms. Blume as the author of one of my favorite middle grade novels called Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters; you can read my review of it here.)

Paper + Craft: 25 Charming Gifts, Accents, and Accessories to Make from Paper by Minhee and Truman Cho, with Randi Brookman Harris, & photographs by Johnny Miller (9780811874625, $19.95)

The Tagine Deck: 25 Recipes for Slow-Cooked Meals by Joyce Goldstein, photographs by Leigh Beisch (9780811865203, $14.95)
(My mother, international food cook lover, is getting a tagine for the holidays. She'll need some recipes to go along with that, won't she?)

Nov 20, 2010

Young People's Literature National Book Award: Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

Congratulations to National Book Award winner for 
Young People's Literature:

In Caitlin's world, everything is black or white. Things are good or bad. Anything in between is confusing. That's the stuff Caitlin's older brother, Devon, has always explained. But now Devon's dead and Dad is no help at all. Caitlin wants to get over it, but as an eleven-year-old girl with Asperger's, she doesn't know how. When she reads the definition of closure, she realizes that is what she needs. In her search for it, Caitlin discovers that not everything is black and white--the world is full of colors--messy and beautiful.

About the author:
Kathryn Erskine was a lawyer for 15 years before she devoted her time to writing. Her first young adult novel, Quaking, was one of YALSA’s Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. Mockingbird is her second novel, and she has a third, The Absolute Value of Mike, coming out in June 2011. To read an early interview with her, check out I am a Reader, Not a Writer. To read a post-award interview, click here.

The mission of the National Book Awards is to "celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of good writing in America". In 1987, the awards were "reestablished...with an emphasis that the Awards are given by writers to writers. Since 1996, independent panels of five writers have chosen the National Book Award Winners in four categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature."

One of the things I find most fascinating about awards like this is that very different novels are considered every year depending on factors like what books were published and submitted for consideration, who the judges are, and (in my opinion) issues like the current political climate.

For instance, let's compare 2008's finalists and judges...

What I Saw and How I Lied: A young girl moves from innocence to desire, from prejudice to justice and from the tumultuous bonds of family into a sad, enduring wisdom.

Chains: In the story of the slave girl Isabel's struggles to claim the freedom bequeathed her, and unjustly denied, Laurie Halse Anderson has created not only an adventure story with a resourceful and intelligent heroine, but also a rich vision of Revolutionary Manhattan, inhabited by imperfect human beings, their judgments and choices impaired by fear, shaped by necessity and greed.
The Underneath: Haunting in tone and resonance, The Underneath weaves a heartrending and magical tale that speaks to love and hope, loneliness and loss, ancestral forgiveness and a deep abiding reverence for the natural world that surrounds us, the ethereal world that entices our imagination and the real world that may bruise us, haunt us, but eventually set us free.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks: Sixteen-year-old Frankie, frustrated by the exclusion from her school’s all-male secret society, infiltrates the group, sending the unknowing boys on a spree of ingenious pranks. Subversive and clever, this young adult novel is a stunning story of gender, entitlement, and the making of an anti-heroine.

The Spectacular Now: The Spectacular Now perfectly juxtaposes hilarity and tragedy in the character of Sutter, a high school senior with a bevy of generous and caring ex-girlfriends, a desire to help those in need, a careless charm, and an insistence on being the life and soul of the party. With so much to recommend him, it's easy to overlook how often he's drunk.

(Or in other words noir, historical, haunting fiction, subversive contemporary fiction, contemporary teen social issues.)

...with last year's finalists and judges...

Claudette Colvin: Phillip Hoose’s riveting and intelligent portrait incorporates photographs and other galvanizing primary source illustrations, as well as Claudette Colvin’s own voice, to draw the reader fully into 1950s Montgomery, Alabama.

Charles and Emma: Through meticulous research, vibrant prose, and inspired integration of journals and personal correspondence, Heiligman reveals how, over a lifetime of love and loss, success and setback, the Darwins’ religious differences evolved into a portrait of mutual respect and devotion. 

Stitches: Vivid and assured cartoon illustrations accompanied by evocative, pared-down text bring the reader fully inside a family tortured by anger, repression, lies, and mental illness, and then take the reader along with Small into healing and understanding.

Lips Touch: Lips Touch pulses with vivid imagery yet remains economical in its world-building, its unpredictable plot-spinning, and its compassionate characterization. Taylor draws from multiple literary and historical sources to spin a wholly original and unforgettable reading enchantment that is nothing short of a tour de force. 

Jumped: Acclaimed author Rita Williams-Garcia intertwines the lives of three very different teens in this fast-paced, gritty narrative about choices and the impact that even the most seemingly insignificant ones can have. Weaving in and out of the girls’ perspectives, readers will find themselves engrossed in not one intimate portrayal but three.

(Or in other words: historical, historical, memoir, 3 interwoven stories [based on history, mythology, & folklore], 3 interwoven stories [contemporary].)

...with this year's finalists and judges:

Ship Breaker: In America's Gulf Coast region, where grounded oil tankers are being broken down for parts, Nailer, a teenage boy, works the light crew, scavenging for copper wiring just to make quota--and hopefully live to see another day. But when, by luck or chance, he discovers an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, Nailer faces the most important decision of his life: Strip the ship for all it's worth or rescue its lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl who could lead him to a better life. . . .

Mockingbird: In Caitlin's world, everything is black or white. Anything in between is confusing. That's the stuff Caitlin's older brother, Devon, has always explained. But now Devon's dead and Dad is no help at all. Caitlin wants to get over it, but as an 11-year-old girl with Asperger's, she doesn't know how.

Dark Water: Fifteen-year-old Pearl DeWitt and her mother live California, where her uncle owns a grove of 900 avocado trees. Uncle Hoyt hires migrant workers regularly, but Pearl doesn't pay much attention to them--until Amiel.

Lockdown: When I first got to Progress, it freaked me out to be locked in a room and unable to get out. But after a while, when you got to thinking about it, you knew nobody could get in, either.

One Crazy Summer: In a humorous and breakout book by Williams-Garcia, the Penderwicks meet the Black Panthers in 1968 Oakland, California. And congratulations to Rita Williams-Garcia for making the short list 2 years in a row!

(Or, contemporary political issue, contemporary social issue, contemporary political issue, contemporary social issue, historical.)

Notice a difference in the novels' subject matter from year-to-year?
This isn't meant to be a criticism, a complaint, or a condemnation, but simply a topic to ponder and discuss.

On a personal note, I wonder what it says about my own reading tastes that I had read 3 of the 5 books chosen for the 2008 awards prior to their being chosen, but I have yet to read a single 2009 or 2010 shortlisted title.

Anyone have thoughts on this (or previous years') finalists/winners?

Nov 19, 2010

Book Blogger Hop & Follow Friday

It's that time again: 
Follow the yellow brick road, follow your dreams, and follow me
because it's 

This week's Book Blogger Hop question:

  "Since Thanksgiving is coming up next week, let's use this week's Hop to share what we are most thankful for and what our holiday traditions are!"

Most thankful for - how to answer without being a cliche or a jerk? I'm thankful for all the usual - a loving family, my fairly decent health, the fact that I have a job that allows me to buy fresh, local, and organic food most days of the month. But I'm also thankful for those things most people don't openly talk about:

- I'm thankful I'm recognized as an attractive person by most physical standards. I genuinely believe life is more difficult for those judged as having a less-than-traditional beauty.
- I'm grateful I have some sort of fashion sense (not saying it's good fashion, just that I have a sense of it), so that I know how to dress my non-commercialized body type in attractive ways.
- I'm thankful I was born with a natural intelligence. The educational advantages my parents worked hard to give me, aside, it's undeniable that I have both book and life smarts and I use them.
- I'm thankful I was raised to question life, to give in to curiosity, and to be a "doer", as in one who gets off one's ass to go out and explore the world first-hand (though this really goes back to being thankful for my family).
- In short, I'm thankful to be me, where I am, who I am, right now.

As for Thanksgiving traditions, well, first I try to reconcile Native American history with European American history. Then I travel to Syracuse, NY to have a big Thanksgiving dinner with my Polish grandmother, my father, my mother, my sister, my brother, and my 3 cousins (and whoever they bring [of the paramour variety] to Thanksgiving this year). This will be our first Thanksgiving without my uncle. PJF, may you forever rest in peace. You, and your wine-loosened tongue filling in the awkward conversational gaps with even more awkward family stories, will be missed.

Today's Follow Friday question:
"How long have you been blogging?"

That's a complicated one. As you can tell by the archive on the side of this blog, I've been blogging since February 2009. In reality, I've been blogging since 2007, but the original blog was more for me and my family. Those posts were deleted to make way for a new book-related public blog. BUT to complicate that, the original book blog was actually called Afterthoughts..., accompanied by Afterthoughts for Adults, accompanied by Afterfonts. I also blogged on my former store's blog, A Reading Odyssey, as well as blogging with my former grad school cohort (former grad school, former cohort, current good friends) on The Guinea Pigs blog. 
My current blog, Wildly Read, began in early November when I decided I wanted one blog to rule them all. Collected here are all the posts from all three of my previous blogs, the bookstore blog, and the Guinea Pigs blog, plus all the new posts I now create. Hence the need for new followers. I can import my posts; I can't import my follower list.

Nov 17, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: More Guilty Pleasures

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by  

My first WoW post was about my guilty pleasure reading - basically those mass market paperbacks I write about on Mondays - and this one is going to continue that tradition.

Tempest's Legacy   
by Nicole Peeler
9780316056601, $7.99, Orbit (Hachette)
Pub. Date: January 2011

Description from the author's website:
After a peaceful hiatus at home in Rockabill, Jane True thinks that her worst problem is that she still throws like a girl – at least while throwing fireballs. Her peace of mind ends, however, when Anyan arrives one night with terrible news . . . news that will rock Jane’s world to its very core.
After demanding to help investigate a series of gruesome attacks on females — supernatural, halfling, and human — Jane quickly finds herself forced to confront her darkest nightmares as well as her deepest desires.
And she’s not sure which she finds more frightening.

If you haven't already discovered this series, run out and pick up book 1: Tempest Rising and book 2: Tracking the Tempest. Please don't be put off by what I personally think are unfortunate covers. The writing is great quality with Jane's snarky voice coming into her own as she explores her growing powers and her increasingly important role as a half-human/half-selkie in the supernatural world.

Nov 14, 2010

The Baby-Sitter's Club

Remember when The Baby-Sister's Club by Ann M. Martin looked like this?

I admit, I loved these books as a kid. I read them, collected them, and after about 6 months, grew out of them. But they'll always hold a special place in my heart for giving me the idea and courage to start my own solo baby-sitting service around the neighborhood. Yet I think I outgrew them in part because my sense of humor matured more quickly. The BSC was friendly and sometimes drama-filled; they occasionally took on difficult time-of-life issues while also showing what a close-knit circle of girlfriends could be like. The big thing missing, though? A snarky sense of humor.

Well, my prayers have been answered. Blog #1 is called Incredulous Kristy! (The exclamation point is actually in the blog name, though I am that excited about it.) It produces images like this:

a.k.a. What would happen if The BSC met Mean Girls.

They're not all this mean, but they all do fall into that snarky sense of humor category (and before y'all get your panties in a twist, no, I'm not condoning bullying and I don't think anyone should actually say these things out loud to another person while meaning them, but yes, I do like to laugh at them online sometimes).

Blog #2 is called What Claudia Wore. This one basically deconstructs Claudia's (and occasionally other characters') clothing choices. C'mon, even when you were young and read the BSC for real, Stacey was who you wanted to look like, Kristy was who you looked like most of the time, and the only time you actually dressed like Claudia was on Halloween or when all your other clothes were in the wash.

Visit the blogs, relive the books, laugh at yourself, cherish the memories.

Nov 13, 2010

Book Review: Nathaniel Fludd: The Wyvern's Treasure by R.L. LaFevers, illustrated by Kelly Murphy

The Wyvern's Treasure: Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist, Book 2
by R.L. LaFevers, illustrated by Kelly Murphy
9780547316185, $16, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

When Nate & Aunt Phil return to England, they find their house trashed and Cornelius, Aunt Phil's dodo, traumatized. A strange man ransacked their house - but looking for what? They don't have much time to stop to figure it out because pretty soon they're off on another Beastologist adventure.

This time, they're going to the Welsh countryside where a group of large dragons, known as wyverns, are in an uproar. Who is causing the ruckus and why? A very proud and political race of beasts, Aunt Phil and Nate have their hands full trying to calm the wyverns before they break their treaty with the humans. On his most dangerous adventure yet, Nathaniel will once again need to use his courage, his brains, and all of his luck to save his Aunt Phil. As we all probably know, a den of angry dragons is no safe place to be. It's obvious someone has been riling them up in an effort to steal the famed wyvern treasure. Could it be the same man who broke into the house? It will be a real surprise when they find out who he is, and what he says he knows about Nathaniel's missing parents!

Nov 12, 2010

Book Blogger Hop

Welcome to my first Book Blogger Hop on my new blog.

The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly follow hosted by Crazy-for-Books.

For those new to my blog, this is a compilation of three former blogs: Afterthoughts..., Afterthoughts for Adults, and Afterfonts. With this one blog to rule them all, I plan to continue blogging about children's books, adult books, and fonts/typography. I hope you follow me and enjoy!

This week's hop's featured question:

"If you find a book that looks interesting but is part of a series, do you always start with the first title?"

My answer:

Not unless the whole point is for me to find a new series. For instance, if I'm at a library or a bookstore and I pick up a book I think I'll like, I'll read it, even if it's not the first book in the series. BUT, if I'm trying to find a new series to begin - say, I've read everything of Christine Warren's and am looking for something new to pass the time before her newest book comes out - then yes, I will begin at the beginning.

Later in the day:
Visiting people's blogs today has been really eye-opening. I had no idea so many people consider jumping into a series so sacrilegious! There are certain series such as Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, or Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (quick, what do those three series have in common?) where the reader would miss so much, even be lost, if they began in the middle. Yet for certain series — such as The Baby-Sitter's Club by Ann M. Martin or any number of paranormal mass markets I can think of — starting in the middle may not be all that bad. Personally, I find that characters are often richer, more fully developed, and have more complex emotional reactions the later on you read in a series. I don't necessarily have to have read books 1-4 in order to enjoy the character development in book 5. Though I can understand that's not everyone's cup of tea, people's visceral responses to this question have been quite enlightening!

Nov 11, 2010

Gay Literary Awards

On November 1, 2010, the American Library Association (ALA) sent out a press release announcing their Stonewall Book Award will now also be awarded to a children's book. Joining the ranks of the ALA's Youth Media Awards alongside the Caldecott Medal for illustration, the Newbery Medal for children's fiction, the Coretta Scott King Award for Black authors/illustrators, the Pura Belpre Award for Latino/Latina authors/illustrators, the "Dr. Seuss" (Theodor Seuss Geisel) Award for beginning readers, and the Printz Award for YA fiction, the Stonewall Children's and Young Adult Literature Award will be "awarded annually to English-language works for children and teens of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered experience". Traditionally the Stonewall Award has only been for adult books. Though I don't remember hearing the news at the time, apparently The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd won in 2010. Can't wait to read it.

Better a little late than never, and as I'm in the process of writing two YA novels with LGBTQ themes myself, I'm excited to see what children's books are recognized. Speaking of which, can anyone think if any young adult or middle grade novels that have bisexual characters in them?

While the Stonewall may claim to be the "first and most enduring award for GLBT books," I'd hasten to guess that when people think of awards for GLBT literature, they think of the Lambda Literary Awards. The Lambda Literary Awards were certainly the first to have an award for "LGBT Children's/Young Adult - Fiction, nonfiction, picture books, poetry, and anthologies—whose intended audience are young readers". On May 26, 2011, the 23rd Lambda Literary Awards (or Lammys) will be held in NYC. Apparently if you're anyone in the GLBT-writing world, it's an event not to be missed.

One last organization highlighting the writing talents of LGBT folks/subjects is The Publishing Triangle, the association of lesbians and gay men in publishing. Nine different awards honor people for everything from lifetime achievement to fiction to play writing, though not for children's or YA literature (as of yet). Maybe now that two out of three organizations recognizing the efforts of LGBT writers and subject matter for children and young adults, this last organization will jump on the bandwagon, too.

Nov 1, 2010

Mass Market Monday: Moon Sworn by Keri Arthur

Moon Sworn 
9780440245711, Bantam Dell (Random House), $7.99

So, when I said in my first Keri Arthur post that I wanted to read more of this series, apparently what I meant was I'm going to read #1 and #just released and skip all the ones in between. The problem with this is now that I know what happens in the latest book, I don't want to go back and read the heartbreak that happens in the previous ones! Moon Sworn is such a great plot, and Riley Jenson is in such a good place at the end of the novel that I don't want to go back and read about a time when she wasn't doing this well. That said, if you're new to the series and haven't already read the latest, I highly recommend reading them all in order because though you can understand it even if you skip around, the stories do build upon one another.

I really enjoy the depth of Keri Arthur's characters. The action scenes are well-written, the dialogue is funny, the sex is hot, but most importantly, the complexity of her characters doesn't read as banal drama but real human (or not-so-human, as the case may be) interest. She's not afraid to kill off characters you've come to love, but she also doesn't make her main characters suffer endlessly. There's a happy ending wrapped up in there, and that's something I can get behind.
In this latest novel of the Riley Jenson Guardian series, old foes turn up to get their final revenge. Using nanotechnology, Riley's enemies find a way to strip her of her identity, her shapeshifting, and everyone she loves in this ultimate game of payback. Payback's a bitch, though, and her abductors better watch out, for Riley has too many secrets and too much to live for to let some twisted psychos take her life from her. After a murder occurs that is similar to the case Riley was working on prior to her abduction, Riley begins piecing together her fractured memory, needing to regain everything from her true name and true forms to her true loves. While not giving anything away, let me just say the book finishes very well with both Riley and her tormentors getting exactly what they deserve.