Friday, March 6, 2009

February 20 BookNotes

The first yellow crocus has popped up, the daphne didn’t die during the snow days and is pink, pink,pink. The rose is starting to send out new foliage, and the robins are up when I am. My nose is running like crazy, my upper lip is raw, and my eyes itch. I know we have weeks yet to go, but my spring-o-meter starts to register the changes in the yard and air just as I have to carry a roll of toilet paper with me everywhere I go. Can’t breathe? Can’t wear mascara because your eyes itch all the time? Pockets bulge with emergency tissue? Must be spring!


Just a few Calendar Notes, first: You are going to want to write these dates on your calendar, now, IN INK: Tamora Pierce is going to be here in May, either the 9th or 10th (you can always circle the correct date later). Bloodhound, the second book in her Beka Cooper series, will be in stores the last week of April. Call us and we will let you know when it arrives.

Michael Perry, the author of Truck: A Love Story, one of my favorite grownup books of last year, will be here with his new book, Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs, and Parenting. The book comes out the first week of May so he will be at the store around then. I will keep you informed or you can check in a month or so and the date will magically appear. I heard him speak at one of the book shows a year or so ago and he was fabulous. Most of the booksellers I know remember this presentation most clearly and with great fondness. I don’t think it was the massive amounts of breakfast speech coffee, but… He is an EMT in a very small town (remember Population: 485? His book, too.) and has lots of great stories. You really should plan on being here. He is funny and oh, so cute, and will be well worth an hour or two of listening pleasure.

There was just a quiet little lift in my heart, and then a quick look around to see if anyone heard me involuntarily squeal, when I heard that the 7th book in the OUTLANDER (!) books will be out SOON! Finally!!! Yes, this deserves all those exclamation points! Diana Gabaldon’s next book will be a Jamie and Claire fest called An Echo in the Bone and I am thrilled. I just checked her website and she says there isn’t a specific date for the release of the book yet, no matter what that huge ethernet book dealer says, but it is coming (sometime in September, maybe) and you can put a copy on order through Third Place for your very own, right now, and we will call you when it comes!

Okay, insert deep breath here.

There are a couple of new entries on my blog ( and I hope you will find time to check them out. One of them is a review for a new grownup book that I heard about at a bookseller’s educational program in Salt Lake City earlier this month. The book is Shimmer, by new author Eric Barnes. Absolutely riveting, it is a thrilling read about a man, his high tech communications corporation, and the people who run it. Truly, I could NOT put it down. Eric will be visiting Third Place Books in July, 2009.

I mentioned wanting to read the Teen and Children’s Edgar Award Nominees in my last newsletter, and I just now, moments ago, finished reading Getting the Girl: A Guide to Private Investigation, Surveillance, and Cookery, by Susan Juby. And, yes, it was fabulous.

I really like Susan’s books, she wrote the Alice, I Think series, and she does a grand job of writing about what it is like to be a teenager. In Getting the Girl, Sherman Mack (who unfortunately thinks of himself as Mack Daddy) gets involved in trying to find out who is D-listing the girls in his school. Girls, whose photos show up on the school bathroom mirrors with a small d written on them, are immediately and forever shunned by the rest of the school, which has some pretty awful results. Sherman, a nice boy with a good healthy respect for all girls, especially his friend Vanessa, is appalled by this and decides it must be stopped. He grabs his surveillance kit and sets off to find out who is behind it all and why.

Sherman is the boy all girls would want as a friend: he loves girls, is chivalrous (although he may not use that word), and would like everything and everyone to be fair. He has a posse of devoted friends and family: his best friend and hypochondriac Rick, 40 year-old Fred who feeds him real food, a very young mother who is a burlesque dancer, and Vanessa who convinces him that he can do anything.

Sherman is funny (although he doesn’t try to be) and sweet and in that place of life where everything is slightly off. He doesn’t drive so he has to use his mom’s pink bike to surveil his marks and when he finally achieves his goal, he somehow ends up in a closet wearing clear high heels and someone else's mom’s blue blouse and photos end up all over the school internet. The upside (and there is one) is that two of the “trophy wives” (popular girls at school with popular boyfriends) are also in the photo, kissing him, thus changing his status to both horndog and pervert. As a freshman in high school, though, any attention can be dangerous and someone may be out to stop him from exposing the dark underbelly of Harewood Tech.

I really like Sherman and his problems with being a normal 9th grade boy and I think you will too. Ages 12 and older. (HarperTeen, $16.99.)

Fetch, by Laura Whitcomb, the author of A Certain Slant of Light has written a wonderful second book.

Calder is a Fetch, an escort for the newly dead. He has been a Fetch for hundreds of years and he has never once been tempted to step out of his role of helping the dead make peace with their pasts and move on, until he falls in love with a mortal woman.

This is a ghostly romance that will satisfy all those Twilight readers’ yearning for something unearthly and romantic. Calder, who has fallen in love with a Russian noblewoman, Alexandra, does the unthinkable by interfering with the natural order of things and a hole is ripped in Heaven allowing unhappy spirits into the earthly realms. In a borrowed body, he and the noblewoman’s children, Alex and Ana, must put the worlds right.

I thoroughly enjoyed this. I like how Ms. Whitcomb didn’t feel she needed to fill us in on all the details of the Russian Revolution so we are armed only with the information that the Fetch has, and that she places us in the moment by outfitting the story with the news of the times. It is romantic and exciting and I can’t wait for her next book. Ages 13 and up. (Houghton Mifflin, $17.00.)

If you haven’t read A Certain Slant of Light yet, put it on your list to read. It’s the story of a ghost who has attached herself to an English teacher. She is lonely and unable to leave the teacher until she sees someone in his classroom who sees her back! Romantic, well-written, you will enjoy it muchly. Laura Whitcomb lives near Portland and we should support our local authors!

The Softwire: Wormhole Pirates on Orbis 3, by P J Haarsma

I really enjoy these books about Johnny Turnbull and his friends.

Johnny is one of a large group of kids who were born in a starship on its way to the Rings of Orbis when the men and women of Earth, who were escaping to a new life, all died. The central computer, Mother, took the embryos frozen in banks and grew a new set of people, all of whom were born on the same day. Johnny, our hero, is one of these children. He is also a Softwire, able to talk directly to Mother and other computers without having to “jack in”.

When the group finally arrives at Orbis 1, they are informed that they are required to work off the trip across the galaxy as their parents had bartered their futures for a ship and a place to land it. They are now slaves to the Citizens of Orbis.

In this, the third installment in the series, Johnny and his friends have moved to Orbis 3. In this rotation, they will have to go to school, a school filled with spiteful, bullying Citizens, most of whom cause the humans great grief. As JT tries to figure out what his role in this world and his future will be, things become more even more difficult and strange: People he knows die, he is challenged to duels, his sister seems to be able to read minds, even while wearing the muzzle, and the Wormhole Pirates are real and dangerous. And, if the dangers of just being on Orbis 3 weren't enough, Vairocina, his mind-link to the computer world, has made herself a body – a holographic body, but a pretty one – and there may be a little competition between Max, Vairocina, and Riis, their Citizen guide to the school, for Johnny's affections.

There isn't enough “real” science fiction out there in the kid's book world and I am glad P J Haarsma has written this series. They are good, exciting, appeal to both girls and boys, and have enough humor to keep our spirits up. Ages 10 and up, and great for reluctant teen readers. (Candlewick, $16.99) Available March, 2009.

I am in the middle of a few different books right now: Benny and Shrimp, by Katarlina Mazetti, a love story about two really different people. I know, it seems that the only love stories that work are those between really different people (like Shannon Hale’s new book, The Actor and the Housewife), but so far this is very sweet and earthy. I am in the middle of Bernard Cornwell’s Agincourt. Bernard wrote the Sharpe’s Rifles books and if you are any kind of a history buff, you should move his books to the top of that large pile next to the bed. Next to my side of the bed is also Angels and Demons (must read before the movie comes out), I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti (going to meet her, Giulia Melucci, at dinner in a few days), and Agent to the Stars, by John Scalzi, one of my favorite science fiction authors. Hmm. Those are all grown-up books….I think there are two kid’s books in my bag. Anyway…What are you all reading? Send me a quick email and let me know. I will put the list in my next newsletter and share your titles. I am always looking for something new and everyone else is, too!

Allrighty, then. It is a beautiful day here and I think I am going to go outside and play.


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