Wednesday, February 18, 2009

More snow. Nope, now it’s stopped. No, here it comes, again.

I have started my blog. Finally. You can go to to see what’s up. There isn’t much there, yet, just the last newsletter I sent out but that will change as I get used to doing it. We’ll see how it progresses and morphs and I am feeling quite giddy in the face of all of this! Don’t forget to bookmark the site for ease in traversing the ether.


First, a few notes about happenings at the store.

Last week I wrote about The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford, and he will be at the store on Wednesday, February 11, at 7 p.m.. Yes, that’s tomorrow! If you heard his interview on Saturday morning’s Weekend Edition, you know how good this book is. It’s a look at Seattle at the end of WWII during the Jackson Street jazz days. It’s racism, Japanese internment, and a love story that takes place then and now. It is one of the Third Place Books staff’s favorite books. Hey, if you didn’t read my review about it last week, you can go to my blog and read it now!

Friday night, February 13, at 6:30 p. m., we have Patrick Carman coming. He is the breakaway best-selling kid’s author of The Land of Elyon and the Atherton series, and he has a new book coming that will amaze and astound you. Using two types of media, print and electronic, his new book, Skeleton Creek, is going to bend how we approach literature.

Skeleton Creek is the story of two kids, Ryan and Sarah, who realize there is something sinister happening at Skeleton Creek. When Ryan comes back from the creek, having almost died, and is now forbidden to see Sarah, he tries to work out what happened to him by writing in his journal. Sarah goes back to Skeleton Creek with her camera to investigate, sending Ryan her videos and the links so he can see what she sees. Told in alternating chapters, using Ryan’s written journal and Sarah’s videos and links, we are taken on a scary, scary adventure. Ages 10 and up. (Scholastic, $14.99.)

Patrick will present a multi-media event at and it will be broadcast live from our store! You can access the webcast from the comfort (and safety!) of your own home by clicking on the following link: However, if you want a book signed to you or one of your kids without coming to the store, you must contact us, credit card in hand, and we will take care of it for you.

The Edgar Awards will be given out on April 30, 2009, and I have started to read some of the nominees, at least the nominees on the kid’s side of the awards. The Edgars are given to the best novels, nonfiction books, movie, television episode, and play in the mystery genre and there are some pretty good choices out there. You can see all the nominees at So far, I have read Paper Towns, by John Green, Eleven, by Patricia Reilly Giff, and Bog Child, by Siobhan Dowd and I am looking forward to the next one. I think it will be Getting the Girl, by Susan Juby, since I really like the other things she’s written.

Paper Towns, by John Green. I think John Green is a very smart writer. His books are clever and funny and he uses big words and then assumes that the people who read him will understand what he means. Paper Towns and his other two books, Looking for Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines, are strong, poignant books about kids who have great friendships and real problems. His books are probably the single most reason there are so many great books coming out for young adults that combine humor and serious issues. I have said it before: The children’s book genre has some of the best writing out there, for any age, and John Green is leading the pack.

Paper Towns is the story of Margot and Quentin. Quentin has loved Margot since they were nine. Now, just before graduating from high school, after a big night of prank playing, Margot disappears leaving a single clue. Not sure if Margot is hiding or deciding to do something more final, Quentin and his friends set out to find her.

John Green uses road trips, of one kind or another, in all of his books, so far. We could get all metaphorical and say they are a representation of growth and change but I like to look at them as just what they are: a chance to go for a ride with people you like, doing something important, figuring stuff out along the way, accompanied by chips, deep conversation, and noxious gases. Ages 14 and up. (Dutton Books, $17.99.)

, by Patricia Reilly Giff, is a story about friendship and family. Giff’s books are always good, solid reads and Eleven is a good mystery, too.

Sam has been having scary dreams about rocks, icy water, boat crashes and the number 11 as his eleventh birthday approaches. He thinks the dreams may have something to do with the box of papers hidden in the attic but he can’t read them: the letters swirl and move and don’t make any kind of sense. Caroline is the new girl at school, someone who has spent a lifetime moving from place to place, never having any long term friendships except those with books. She finally finds a haven in Sam and his warm family and friends, helping him learn to read, hoping she can finally call this town home. Together, they try to solve the mystery surrounding Sam, his family, and his dreams. Ages 8-13. (Wendy Lamb Books, $15.99.)

Bog Child, by Siobhan Dowd, is another one of my favorite books this year. It is the story of a young man trying to decide what is right in a world filled with instability.  Fergus and his uncle are digging peat when they find a child's body curled up deep in the bog.  As the excavation of the iron age body begins, and the story of the girl makes itself known to him in a series of dreams, Fergus finds himself dealing with a life filled with problems:  It is Ireland in the 1980's, in the middle of the “troubles”, his older brother is on a hunger strike and likely dying in jail and his parents are arguing about whether he has the right to kill himself for something he believes in. His uncle may be involved in something dangerous to himself and to everyone around him, and Fergus himself is up to his chin in what could be a conspiracy to kill  innocent people.  Not only that, but he is fast forming a dangerous friendship with a boy who guards the border between the Catholics and the Protestants.

Bog Child
was an absolutely riveting read. Ages 12 and up. (David Fickling Books, $16.99.)

Okay, it is no longer snowing, much, and it is late (I worked until 8, tonight, and then gave my friend, Steve, a ride home), and I want you to think seriously about coming to see Jamie Ford tomorrow and Patrick Carman on Friday. Check the Third Place website for all the other events, like Christopher Moore (on February 15 at 5:30 p.m.) and Debra Gwartney (February 18 at 7 p.m.), at Don’t forget that we are happy to get books signed for you and yours and all you have to do is call us: 206-366-3333.


Rene’ Kirkpatrick

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Shimmer, a new book from Eric Barnes

I just finished a book called Shimmer, written by a first time author, Eric Barnes, and it was so good. I have to tell you about it now, so I don't forget how much I loved it by July, when it will finally be available. You really should add it to your summer reads list now (especially since he is coming)!

Robbie Case worked with his father in the family communications business and when his dad died Robbie and his cousin Trevor took the company global. Now, with the invention of a thing called a “Blue Box”, Core Communications dominates the world’s communications network. In the space of just 3 years, the company is worth billions of dollars and employs 5,000 people all over the world. Things seem good, people are happy, Robbie is an oft-emulated, much sought after man, and the money keeps pouring in.

The only problem is that the entire company is built on a lie.

I haven’t been able to get the people in the book out of my head. Robbie is a very complex man. Lonely and depressed, he finds himself just following along when his cousin, Trevor, starts selling shares in the company. Now looking out over this vast empire, Robbie realizes just how much is at stake. His entire senior staff, and almost everyone else who works for him, has invested every waking moment in, and sacrificed their personal lives for, the business.

As watchers through Robbie's eyes, we see how the failure of the business will affect his staff in separate chapters interspersed through the book. Many have not been home in weeks, some are living on extended credit given to them on the promise of the future. They are realizing how much the company and Robbie are their only family. Robbie himself is only now beginning to truly understand how much these people love what they do and how much they do it for him. And he is going to let it all go; he will be the only one who walks away with anything.

Beautifully written, quiet and intense, Shimmer was absolutely riveting.

Available July 9, 09

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Grey skies, it’s above 40 degrees already, and it was light outside at 7:30 this morning! More time to read at both ends of the day-

There are many great books and I choose 5 or so a week (except for this last little hiatus) that I have especially enjoyed to share with you. I am not a critic, I only read what I like, and I don’t always even give the book a hundred pages. Sorry!

When kids’ books are only 200-300 pages long, I just don’t want to take the time reading something that rates a shrug from something that rates a two-handed, bowed over the table, what time is it?, butt-numbing, reading in the dark because it was too good to stop, read!

The books in these newsletters are things I just had to finish, usually in one gulp. I hope you and the people you share this with agree! Let me know, I would be interested in what you think of them, too.


The Black Book of Colors, by Menena Cottin, Rosana Faria, and translator Elisa Amador, is one of the most amazing books we have seen this year. It is a book about colors all in black with raised shapes to feel and Braille to explain what the color is.

Green has raised wavy grass and the authors use descriptions of senses other than sight to explain what green is. The text is in English and in Braille. It’s hard to explain but extraordinary to experience. I hope you all get a chance to stop in and see (and feel) it, soon. All ages. (Grounwood Books, $17.95.)

The Tomorrow Code, by Brian Falkner. The Tomorrow Code is a really good science fiction novel about two kids who, in the middle of some dire straits, get a message from the future that will change their lives, and maybe even effect the continuation of the human race. It takes place in New Zealand, which is cool in and of itself, and also talks about Maori culture and its relationship to nature and the earth.

Rebecca is smart and scientific and Tane, her best friend since birth, is a more artistic person. Together, using their considerable talents, they are able to figure out what the message is and how it will impact everything they know. Great science, great discussion of how science and art need each other, smart girls, sensitive boys, good adventure, this is a book for everyone 10 and older.

I finished this book on the bus, and, while we were driving past Lake Union, I looked out at the Space Needle. The top of the Needle, the tops of the skyscrapers, the top of Queen Anne, were enveloped in fog, chopped off in a flat line, even the lights were gone. When you finish The Tomorrow Code, you will know why I shivered at the view. (Random House, $16.99.)

Scat, by Carl Hiaasen, is really good! One of his funny, environmentally oriented books for kids and young adults, this one also takes place in Florida and is about the fragile ecology in the swamps. When Nick, Marta and their class get back to school after a field trip to Black Vine Swamp, they realize that their biology teacher didn’t come back with them.

Fearing she has been caught up in something nefarious, Nick and Marta set out to find out what happened and where she is. Unfortunately, there is a whole lot more going on in the swamp than kidnapping or death!

I love Carl Hiaasen’s kid’s books. He writes really good mysteries that have odd people, smart kids, and the environmental issues that we’re interested in. What is also cool about his books is that they are written like his adult books (without the sex, drugs, and violence), so adults can read them and enjoy them, too! Ages 10 and up. (Knopf, $16.99.)

3 Willows: the Sisterhood Grows, by Ann Brashares, is a really good follow-up to the Traveling Pants books. It feels slightly younger as it focuses on three friends who met in elementary school and, on the edge of leaving middle school and heading into high, realize that they may not have as much in common, now.

3 Willows follows Ama, Polly and Jo through the summer between middle and high school as they spend their first summer apart as teenagers, seeing their friendship fall apart as they each try on new roles. There aren’t any magic pants. This book connects the girls by the willow shoots they plant on the day they met.

They are just three very different girls, each with her own set of problems, who find that they really aren’t alone. I enjoyed the cameo appearances of the Traveling Pants girls. Ages 12 and up. (Delacorte, $18.99.)

Shift, by Jennifer Bradbury. After Chris and Win, best friends for years, graduate from high school, they decide to bike west across the US, heading to Seattle. They will reach Seattle, turn around and go back, and get on with college and the rest of their lives.

But they have a fight halfway across and split up. Chris makes it back home but Win never does. Where did he go?

A mystery, a friendship book, a travelogue of sorts, local author Jennifer Bradbury has written a great story about how things fall apart and how, no matter how close two people can be, you can never really know what is going on in someone’s head.

There aren’t any “issues” (sex, drugs, alcohol, too much “bad” language) to keep someone in middle school from reading this, even though it’s written about high school graduates, so I would recommend it for 12 and up. It’s GOOD, with a little romance and a great deal of mystery. (Atheneum, $16.99.)

The School for Dangerous Girls, by Eliot Schrefer. Wow. This is a thriller of a book about a bunch of girls thrown together in a secluded private school for those who are considered dangerous, dangerous to themselves and to others.

This school is the last place for these girls and it claims that it will change them into model citizens. It uses incredibly harsh methods to do so: no medication, no leniency, no freedom, no questions, no answers, solitary confinement and occasional torture.

Angela has been sent to this school because her parents don’t know what to do with her any more. There are questions about how her grandfather died while she was living with him, she is heavily involved with a boy who is using her, there has been drug and alcohol use, and she is unable to make good decisions about her life without being influenced by other people.

When Angela and her friends at the school begin to be culled from the group, answers to the questions about who gets “fixed” and who doesn’t become important to the girls’ very survival.

Maybe this isn’t high literature but there are issues in it that are important ones: Angela ends up in the situations she gets into mostly because she is so easily influenced by stronger personalities; people in power situations can really abuse those positions and they should be checked; mental illness masks itself in many ways.

The kids’ book staff at Third Place could not put this down once they got started. Ages 14 and older. (Scholastic, $17.99.)

Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford. The Third Place staff who have read this, loved it. Jamie Ford will be at Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, on February 11, at 7:00. I hope you can come and meet Jamie and hear his story about the writing of this book.

Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is the story of a young Chinese boy growing up in Seattle during World War II. He lives in what is now the International District but was then separated into many more –towns like Chinatown and Japantown.

Told in alternating chapters, the book begins as the older Henry Lee is walking past a crowd hugging the entrance to an old hotel called the Panama Hotel, where the Japanese internees had stored all their belongings, when he sees someone open a parasol that plunges him into memories of the past.

In the 40’s, during the war, Henry became friends with a young Japanese girl, Keiko, who went to his school, Rainier Elementary, where they were both ignored by the white kids. Their friendship, forbidden by his father, grows and becomes a romance.

Henry defies his father and stays friends with Keiko until the day she, her family, and all the other Japanese people are rounded up and sent by train out of the area to the internment camps where they are to live for years.

We travel through Henry Lee’s memories with him: the Jackson Street jazz scene, Bud’s Jazz Records, the racism of the time, and Seattle in wartime, as he takes steps to investigate the boxes and things stored in the Panama Hotel that may have belonged to Keiko and her family.

Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is SO good, it is such a well-told story, we are sure you are going to thoroughly enjoy it. It is also one of those great cross-over novels from adult to teen readers and would be a good addition to any school library or family bookshelf.

I loved the descriptions of pre-I-5 times and will be taking my map and the book out for a tour of the places Jamie mentions. Adult, but with teen appeal. (Ballantine, $24.00.)

Well, there it is for another week. There are so many good books coming and so many great events and things happening, I hope you get a chance to come to the store and sample a few.

The events for the Lake Forest Park store are on our site:, and you can also order -- and have delivered -- books from that site, if you don’t want to leave the warmth and comfort of your home.

Remember, when you spend your dollars with an independent store, those dollars stay in your community and so support you and your business!

P. S. -- A fellow book person sent me this link to a piece by Ann Patchett, of Bel Canto, Run, and my personal favorite, Patron Saint of Liars, fame. It is a lovely piece about books and reading. Thanks, Kathi!