Saturday, January 22, 2011

Firsts: The Monkees and The Emerald Atlas

Sunrise today was at 7:44, sunset will be at 4:59. There's still light in the sky at 5:30 pm!

KUOW's Steve Sher is doing a story about the first record album bought with your own money. Many memories popped into my head about my first record: The Monkees were the first band I fell in love with, as well as the first album bought for me (we had little spending money so Mom included our music in her selections-thank you, Mom).

To this day I recognize the opening notes of every song on this record. I took it with me from Eugene to Eureka the summer it came out, afraid that the t.v. show wouldn't be on and I'd need the relief of Davy's face on the record cover while I waited to go back home to a television where The Monkees were always on at a specifically designated time and day. Never mind that Grandma and Grandpa didn't have a record player.

I'd lie in the attic bed, dreaming that, because we were, after all, in California, we'd just happen across Davy Jones and he'd drop that blond bikini-ed bimbo hovering over him on the back of the record, opting instead for a girl of 10 with long straight brown hair and glasses, seeing something in me he would wait for. Maybe I'd eventually fill a bikini and walk on the sand with him, holding hands in the sunset. Oh, my god, the yearning in my soul for him, his starry eyes and his accent.

I am back from Washington, DC, Arlington, actually, where we spent a few extremely cold days and nights at The Winter Institute, an educational and fun event all about books, bookselling, business, and friends. We (Robert Sindelar, Michael Coy, and I) learned a lot and ate a lot, met many new people and reconnected with old friends and collected lots of new books. I pretty much concentrated on the children's book side of things, can't help it, I like kids' books, and have sent boxes of new authors' books home to review and then to share with customers and you, dear reader.

One of the best parts of the Institute is the Speed Dating part: Many publishers present as many books as they can in 15 minutes, moving on and presenting again. It gives booksellers a broad swathe of genres and favorites to investigate afterward. The next best part is meeting those books' authors at the receptions that separate the educational parts of the day and the following dinners with other booksellers and authors. Wine, books, dessert, mmmmm... nothing better.

One of the authors I was really excited to meet was John Stephens. He was a writer for The Gilmore Girls, produced Gossip Girls, but has written his first kids' book called The Emerald Atlas. I was in the middle of this book when I left for DC and then finished it last night.

This is going to be huge, kids! Put it on your list of books to buy, get a first edition, as soon as you can. It is the story of three children, they might be orphans, who are sure their parents will be back for them. In the final orphanage, the last and worst orphanage that will take them, they embark on a journey and quest that will take them back and forth in time, in and out of people's lives, searching always for home and family. It is a great story, filled with adventure and danger, a good deal of humor, smart and brave children, horrible, evil adults, and magic, magic everywhere. It feels a little like Narnia, has good language and pacing, great story for both genders...I LOVED it! I can't wait for the next one!

Age 9 and up. The Emerald Atlas will be available April 5, 2011, published by Knopf. $17.99.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ship Breaker and bone breaks

The sun will rise at 7:55 and will set at 4:40.

I have an appointment this morning for x-rays to see if I can take my "cast" off! Woo hoo! No more missing Ns because my cast spaces forward! No more accidentally entering data with a strap tap! No more catching and snagging all my scarves and sweaters, velcroing myself to my clothes. Not to mention having both hands and arms velcro to each other when I sleep because I have two braces, one for my right hand and the breaks, one for my left hand and the rapidly changing carpal tunnel problems there.

It's overcast and cold, my daphne bush is almost bald because it was exposed to the frost (I really tried to keep it covered), and it's supposed to snow just in time for the evening commute. Great. Last time it snowed and I did the right thing by taking mass transit, it took me almost 5 hours to get home and I broke my wrist. Today, I go in late so I may miss the evening commute because I get off at 8, but it could be freezing rain over the snow, before it starts to plain rain and melt the snow.

There has been a bright piece of news in this week of horrible stuff: The Newbery, Caldecott, and other children's book awards were announced yesterday and we are all pretty happy about the choices. The Newbery award went to Moon Over Manifest (which I have yet to read), the Caldecott went to Sick Day for Amos McGee, and the Printz award was given to Ship Breaker. The author of Ship Breaker, Paolo Bacigulpi, won the Nebula award and tied for the Hugo Award (science fiction book awards) for his grown-up book Wind-up Girl, and has now picked up the award for best book for older readers. It was really good, I just don't know if I can believe it was the BEST book that I, personally, have read this year.

Ship Breaker takes place well into the future when the gap between those who have and those who don't is immense. There is small very wealthy group and everyone else. Our hero lives in an area near what used to be New Orleans, a landscape buried under fathoms of seawater, skyscapers don't even break into the air, and he works at the old shipworks and docks, breaking ships for scrap metal, looking for a treasure trove of holds filled with oil or fuel. Dangerous work as the ships shift and shake and the children who are small enough to slither between the walls looking for the gold often get lost or die in them.

In this particular world, our hero and his friend find a yacht tied offshore (a treasure that is worth more than they can imagine), a dead man, and a live girl. The girl, wealthy and spoiled, tries to convince the boys to let her go, that there will be a ransom paid, but before that happens, she is tracked and it is sure that whoever killed the man is looking to kill her, too.

Great adventure, great friendships, an intriguing look at a world that could be. It's very much like looking at a foreign culture. Very cool book, both genders will really enjoy it. Age 10 and up. (17.99. Little Brown.)

(This post was written, oh, so long ago, (last Tuesday?) and, no, I am still in my brace. I am still having trouble flipping eggs and combing my hair (spatulae get caught inside the brace and I can't bend my wrist). I may be able to downgrade to a thumbless brace next week-hope for me that that happens, the metal rods in the brace have cut through and are pressing against my thumb-and start physical therapy then. Then two more weeks in the thumb-free brace and then x-rays. Again. I am complaining about this little thing but I know how hard other people have it: My friend Tessa fell down her stairs and shattered her wrist: surgery, pins, plates, full cast, slings, shoulder pain...I am thankful that I only cracked my scafula(?) and chipped a bone. It's just a long time in something that has absolutely no style and is beginning to reek.)

(Oh, and now I'm in Arlington, Virginia, attending ABA's Winter Institute 6, getting ready to come home to Seattle. I am going to post from here! WooHOO!!)

Monday, January 3, 2011

books, books, books and Elizabeth Eulberg

Sunrise was at 7:58 Sunset will be at 4:30.

Cold, clear, much frost, and the plants are all either rubbery or crisp.

Finished Demonglass, can't wait to read the first in the series, Hex Hall, before Ms. Hawkins comes to the store.

Read Elizabeth Eulberg's new book Prom and Prejudice last night and found it very sweet and fun. A little frothier than The Lonely Hearts Club (which I LOVED!) but has a side story about bullying that grounds it. It will definitely find an audience with all those Pride and Prejudice fans. I think we need a list of Pride and Prejudice retellings, maybe a separate shelf for them-lots of the readers of P & P want other books like it and, boy, are they out there! Both books are good for ages 12 and up. P & P is available in hardcover, LHC is out in paperback.

Not much more to say, today. It's a day for reading and for doing orders at the store. Plenty to do.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

From Demonglass to World Peace

Sunrise at 7:58, sunset will be 4:28

27 degrees out there. Everything covered in frost except where the sun settles. Birds EVERYWHERE searching for seeds and insects. I'm going to start having to get serious about the feeder now- we do have that great big water feature that they love, so we're set on having a place for them to drink and bathe. Just need to get out and feed them. There are feeders all over the neighborhood, though, and the flocks of birds we have wheeling in and out of the trees and bushes are testament to that.

First day of the new year, we're going to go out for breakfast, take a walk, and then see True Grit. Good times.

I don't do resolutions well- I always have these grand, sweeping thoughts like, say, work for world peace, when I need to focus on something like drinking more water and cleaning the bird cage more often. Maybe if I am well-hydrated and less-stressed over a bird cage that embarrasses me, I will be calmer and more able to deal with the world peace thing.

So, this year I am going to drink more water and clean the bird cage more often. There. I am also going to send letters, well, postcards-I don't have a lot to say- to all the family members and a few select friends. It's a start, anyway.

I am in the middle of a book called Demonglass, by Rachel Hawkins, a Hex Hall novel. It is really fun. I have a hard time suggesting hardcover books in series like these, supernatural, paranormal romance-y books, but I love to read them, I'm sure someone else will too, so there you go. (Couldn't find cover art for Demonglass.)

Demonglass is the second in a series and I didn't read the first one, don't think I really need to now-but I will. It's a good romp, a nice romantic tangle, I like stories about shifters and weres, and demons are just a little extra thrilling. I find myself wishing I had it in my hands when I am waiting for things, like breakfast, so that proves to me that it's compelling enough to stay with. I am taking it with me to the movies to read while I wait for it to start. I think the author will be on tour for this book in the spring and coming to the store, that's another good reason to read both in the series. Age 12 and up. (Hyperion. $16.99. Available in March, 2011, the first one, Hex Hall is available now.)