Thursday, December 31, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
An absolute, can't put down page turner is the best way to describe Winfred Cook's Uncle Otto. Set in 1920s/1930s Arkansas and St. Louis, the narrator introduces us to his disabled Uncle Otto, for whom he's named. A stroke that left Otto incapable of speaking clearly has caused him to be a shell of the man he used to be, but the birth of his namesake brings a spark that the rest of the family hasn't seen in years. The younger Otto becomes fascinated with his uncle and persuades his grandparents to tell his story.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Though this book is called If These Walls Could Talk, it should have been called "that's what you get for being uppity and thinking you could buy a house, now stay your tail in an apartment and call it a day." I don't know if that's what author Bettye Griffin had in mind, but that's certainly what I got from it.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
When you're a woman of a certain age, it can be difficult to find books that speak to you on your level. I'm not really one for chick lit or urban lit and that's what several contemporary authors are trying to push onto women. At times I feel like writing to the publishing houses, "Stop assuming that we're all 20, or what to be 20, and write to my demographic." Ladies, I'm happy to tell you that newcomer Michele Grant is writing to our demographic and she gets it!
Friday, December 11, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Back in my Judy Blume/Paula Danziger/Carolyn Keene days, also known as 25 years ago, Rosa Guy was the first author I read that spoke to me as an African American young adult. Set in New York in the late 70s/early 80s, Edith Jackson is the third in a trilogy that includes Ruby and The Friends. Each book in the trilogy could stand alone, so there's no need to read the first two to understand the third.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
The Underneath by Kathi Appelt & David Small
Mean, old Gar-face abuses his poor little animals so much so that the only place they can find solace is underneath the house. The story deals with animal mistreatment, but also teaches friendship can be found in the unlikeliest of places - in this case among a dog and a cat. This is a great book to read aloud or with an older child perhaps 2nd grade or above.
Testing the Ice by Sharon Robinson & Kadir Nelson
Written by Sharon Robinson - Jackie Robinson's daughter - this is a wonderful tale of history, hope, faith and love. It was a welcome addition to our family library and an even greater addition to my kids' school library - as we purchased an additional. copy to donate. Another favorite for the 2nd grade and above.
The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden
Ivy, Holly, and Mr. and Mrs. Jones all have one Christmas wish. Ivy, an orphan, wishes for a real home and sets out in search of the grandmother she's sure she can find. Holly, a doll, wishes for a child to bring her to life. And the Joneses wish more than anything for a son or daughter to share their holiday. Can all three wishes come true?
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
A YA urban fantasy book about a high school girl who draws the unwanted notice of a faerie prince. I think that'd be a great choice for an older teen/20s reluctant girl reader.
Liar by Justine Larbalestier
It's about a girl who lies. A lot. It's suspenseful and keeps you guessing. I loved it.
Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher
It's about a multiracial sarcastic smart athletic guy who decides to make a bunch of misfits popular. For guys especially I recommend ..A poignant, hysterical read.
I also recommend anything by Walter Dean Mosley.
A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott
For all the historical fiction/fantasy readers. About a girl from 21st Brooklyn's time travel to the Civil War Brooklyn. Amazing.
Flygirl by Sherri Smith
Ida Mae Jones dreams of flight. Her daddy was a pilot and being black didn't stop him from fulfilling his dreams. But her daddy's gone now, and being a woman, and being black, are two strikes against her.
When America enters the war with Germany and Japan, the Army creates the WASP, the Women's Airforce Service Pilots—and Ida suddenly sees a way to fly as well as do something significant to help her brother stationed in the Pacific. But even the WASP won't accept her as a black woman, forcing Ida Mae to make a difficult choice of "passing," of pretending to be white to be accepted into the program. Hiding one's racial heritage, denying one's family, denying one's self is a heavy burden. And while Ida Mae chases her dream, she must also decide who it is she really wants to be.
Mare's War by Tanita S. Davis
Octavia and Tali are dreading the road trip their parents are forcing them to take with their grandmother over the summer. After all, Mare isn’t your typical grandmother. She drives a red sports car, wears stiletto shoes, flippy wigs, and push-up bras, and insists that she’s too young to be called Grandma. But somewhere on the road, Octavia and Tali discover there’s more to Mare than what you see. She was once a willful teenager who escaped her less-than-perfect life in the deep South and lied about her age to join the African American battalion of the Women’s Army Corps during World War II.
She's So Money by Cherry Cheva
Maya has always been the good girl. Camden is the popular jock with a bigger ego than brain. Maya never thought there'd be a reason for them to, like, interact. But when the biggest mistake of her life lands her in need of a seriously devious plan, she discovers Camden isn't as dumb as he looks. And now that Maya's playing the bad girl (lying, cheating, swindling, and, um, shopping), she might as well do it right and flirt with the bad boy. . . .
Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
Marcelo Sandoval hears music no one else can hear--part of the autism-like impairment no doctor has been able to identify--and he's always attended a special school where his differences have been protected. But the summer after his junior year, his father demands that Marcelo work in his law firm's mailroom in order to experience "the real world." There Marcelo meets Jasmine, his beautiful and surprising coworker, and Wendell, the son of another partner in the firm.
The Making of Dr. Truelove by Derrick Barnes (for guys it's very funny, very hormone-driven!).
Diego is a sixteen-year-old boy with a problem. He loves his girlfriend, Roxy. And when they suddenly break up due to Diego's own insecurity issues, the boy is crushed. However will he win Shorty back?
On the trusty advice of his (crazy) best friend, Diego invents an alter ego known as Dr. Truelove. A sex and relationship e-columnist, Truelove is smooth where Diego is gawky, skilled where Diego is clueless. Truelove is, quite clearly, the way back into Roxy's heart. Or so it seems.
Lip Gloss Chronicles series: The Ultimate Test and Splitsville by Sheila M. Goss
The Lip Gloss Chronicles explores the life of three sassy and hip urban high school freshmen who are high on fashion and magnets for drama. Britney Franklin, Jasmine McNeil, and Sierra Sanchez, daughters of Dallas, Texas socialites met in their private grammar school, and now they are ready to tackle their freshman year in a new public high school as a team.
Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer
Isabella Swan's move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Isabella's life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Isabella, the person Edward holds most dear. The lovers find themselves balanced precariously on the point of a knife -- between desire and danger.
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl which just came out a few days ago. It was an amazing paranormal read and about as long as one of the Twilight books.
Donut Days by Lara Zielin. It was a great story about families, church, and friendship.
The Book of Night Women by Marlon James
About a group of slave women in Jamaica plotting their escape.
Cereus Blooms at Night by Shani Mootoo
Essentially a gothic multigeneration family saga
The New Moon's Arms by Nalo Hopkinson
A book about a woman going through menopause who is forced to reexamine her life and values after realizing mermaids are real. Trust me, it's handled wonderfully.
Complications and Better by Atul Gawande's medical essays (the latter has slightly more interesting topics)
anything by Oliver Sacks (my favourite is his memoir of loving chemistry as a boy called Uncle Tungsten)
Red, White, and Drunk All Over by Natalie McClean
For foodies: a wonderful book about wine-not at all pretentious and McClean's love for it shines through.
Fiction - Adults
Still reeling from divorce and feeling estranged from her teenage son, Trish Taylor is in the midst of salvaging the remnants of her life when she uncovers a shocking secret: her sister is alive. For years Trish believed that her mother and infant sister had died in a car accident. But the truth is that her mother fatally overdosed and that Trish’s grandparents put the baby girl up for adoption because her father was black.
After years of drawing on the strength of her black ancestors, Billie Cousins is shocked to discover that she was adopted. Just as surprising, after finally overcoming a series of health struggles, she is pregnant–a dream come true for Billie but a nightmare for her sweetie, Nick, and for her mother, both determined to protect Billie from anything that may disrupt her well-being.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Be prepared to meet three unforgettable women:
Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.
Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.
Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, so she's lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town...
Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
"My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973."
So begins the story of Susie Salmon, who is adjusting to her new home in heaven, a place that is not at all what she expected, even as she is watching life on earth continue without her -- her friends trading rumors about her disappearance, her killer trying to cover his tracks, her grief-stricken family unraveling.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Published: February 2006
Purchase: Amazon | B & N | Book Depository | IndieBound
Monday, November 30, 2009
Based on the true story of a modern day lynching in the early 80s in Mobile, Alabama, Like Trees, Walking left me wanting more. First time novelist Ravi Howard hits a home run with this story as seen through the eyes of Roy Deacon, heir apparent to the family funeral homes.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
A delightful collection of short stories, The Prophet of Zongo Street, skillfully introduces the reader to a wide array of characters connected to this fictitious street in Kumasi, Ghana. From the elderly Uwargida who magically spins tales for the young children to the humble tea seller, Mallam Sile, who always has a kind word for the cruel patrons that take advantage of him, you'll be drawn into these stories from start to finish.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Geneva Holliday, the lighter and more erotic side of author Bernice McFadden, is back with another great read. Her latest, Lover Man, picks up where Seduction left off.
Friday, November 20, 2009
I really wanted to like this book. I think Sherri is funny as a comedian, pretty good as an actress, kind of a dingbat on The View, but I was ready to give her book a chance. I made it a little less than halfway through and realized this was not the book for me. I know the title is Permission Slips, but I didn't need a permission slip/note at the end of every two or three pages reiterating what she'd just said in her short story.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
I know, I know! I'm jumping the gun. I'm the person that complains when stores put Christmas decorations up in July. Give Labor Day, Halloween and Thanksgiving their time to shine before you start decking those halls.
I'm not much for Christian lit. Not that I'm a heathen, but I prefer to keep my Biblical studies separate from my reading for entertainment. I expected this book to be heavy on Biblical quotes, but it really wasn't and I think I was a little disappointed. Other than a few verses sprinkled in towards the end of the book, one could almost forget that this story was classified as Christian lit.
Monday, November 16, 2009
What is the date of the next Read-a-thon?
December 5, 2009, starting at 6 am PST.
Where can I sign up?
You can sign up to be a Reader or a Cheerleader for the December 2009 read-a-thon here.
What is the 24 Hour Read-a-thon?
It’s sort of a reading challenge, only everyone participates at the same time. For 24 hours, we read books, post in our blogs about our reading, and visit other readers’ blogs.
Do I have to stay up the whole 24 hours?
No, although it’s more fun if if you do. Cheerleaders only need to commit to at least one hour, and Readers can either choose to stay up the entire time or take breaks as they need to.
What are the ways in which I can participate?
The two types of participants are Reader and Cheerleader.
What is the role of a Reader?
People who sign up to be readers are committing to reading books, posting updates in their blogs, and, if they need breaks, visiting the blogs of other readers and encouraging them. The most hardcore among us will stay up the entire 24 hours and do nothing but read and update, even going so far as to skip showering and eat meals while reading. However, not all of us are that hardcore, and it’s OK for you to customize this read-a-thon to meet your needs. All I ask is that you be honest in your updates, and that’s about the only rule for readers.
Updating for Readers: This should be individually customized. If you want to spend 5 or 10 minutes updating each hour or every 3 hours, that’s great. If you want to update whenever you feel like you need a break from reading, that’s great, too. If you want to just read and read for 24 hours straight and then write one big update, that’s also great. You do what works for you, OK?
Suggested format for updating: Again, customize this as you wish, but I suggest updating about what you’re reading, how many pages you’ve read since your last update, and how much time you’ve spent reading since your last update. You may want to keep a running total of time spent reading, number of books read and pages read; this could make you eligible for some prize drawings. Updates might also be your typical book reviews, once you finish something.
Readers visiting other readers: Do this if and when you’re in the mood, as often as you like.
Tips for Readers:
1. Pick shortish books. When you’re reading for such a long time, you might get really sick of the same book for hours on end. Past readers recommended that you start with a short book so that you have a feeling of accomplishment when you finish it early in the read-a-thon.
2. Choose something light (children’s books, humorous books, graphic novels, books you already know well) and save those for the end when you’re tired and sick of reading.
3. Try not to pick really dense nonfiction unless you have the most enormous attention span ever.
4. If you’re going to use this time to catch up on other challenges, try to have a big variety available. You don’t know what will hold your attention, so don’t assign yourself specific books without alternates.
5. Give yourself permission to put a book aside and try something else if it’s not holding your attention.
6. Careful with caffeine! If you drink more coffee than you’re used to, you’ll be jittery at first and then crash later. Drinking something lightly caffeinated (green tea?) throughout the day seems to work better.
7. Don’t sit in the same spot/position all day! This could make your back hurt. Instead, move to different places in the house every hour or two.
8. In general, don’t be a masochist. This is supposed to be fun! And if anything about the challenge makes you start picturing us with little devil horns and wanting to strangle us, please stop and change it so that it works for you. Or, you know, go ahead and scream TO HELL WITH THIS CHALLENGE and go to sleep. We don’t want sleep deprivation making you hate your friendly read-a-thon organizers.
What is the role of a Cheerleader?
Cheerleaders don’t need to make a commitment to a time slot. They cheerleaders will just spend whatever amount of time they can visiting the blogs of readers and other cheerleaders and encouraging everyone. The main purpose of this type of cheerleader is to keep Readers from feeling isolated as they spend their day reading.
We would like to have as many cheerleaders as possible, so that the Readers don’t go for any large chunk of time without an encouraging comment.
I can’t participate, but is there some small way in which I can help?
You would go straight onto our mental list of Most Awesome People Ever if you would promote the read-a-thon in your blog. If you scroll down, you’ll find buttons you could use. You don’t have to say much; you can just say the 5th of December 24-Hour Read-a-thon is coming up and link to this page. Or you could just put a button in your sidebar. But if you don’t really care about being on our M.A.P.E. list, you could promote the read-a-thon just because your readers might be interested!
Or you could just sort of hover in the background and, if you’re not busy on December 5th, visit a few Readers and say hi (or not).
Once I sign up, what do I do next?
Key your eye on this blog. In the days leading up to the Read-a-thon, we’ll probably post updates, last minute info, etc. The day of the read-a-thon, there will be a home base post.
Do e-books count?
Well, sure! Also audio books, reading to the kids, etc.
I can’t decide yet. The date of the Read-a-thon is too far away, I don’t know my work schedule, etc.
That’s OK. We’re going to keep mentioning the read-a-thon, especially the week before it starts. Just sign up if/when you decide to join us! The only problem you might encounter if you sign up at the last minute is that you may not make it onto the participants list before the event starts.
GIVE ME BUTTONS! Please.
Here you go. These buttons were all made by past read-a-thon participants. You’re also free to make your own (let me know and we’ll add it here) or tweak these.