Saturday, December 20, 2014


Sunrise today was at 7:54, sunrise will be at 4:20.  This is a photo from the Bainbridge Island side of my commute, looking back towards Seattle, taken a couple of weeks ago, just as the sun rose.  Today, well, tomorrow, I'll get off the ferry and the sun will be much farther south, behind the bit of land off to the right, and I'll already be at work before the rises.  Happy Solstice!  Monday morning, we'll have an extra second of daylight.

When the nights are so long, when you need to feel a little less lonely or need a little more light in your life, stories can help.  And......Ta DAH:

The Penderwicks are coming, the Penderwicks are coming!  Oh, how I have missed them.  It’s been a long couple of years between books in this great series about the Penderwick sisters and their little brother, Ben, and the assorted animals that live with them. These books are like walking into a long awaited hug from old friends.

I just finished Penderwicks in Spring, by Jeanne Birdsall, the penultimate book in the series, and I am already sad that there is only one more to come, probably in two years.  WHY DO I NOT SAVE THINGS FOR LATER!!!   This book came in the mail and I read it that day!!!  It was like chocolate – I couldn’t save it for later, I kept thinking about it so I swallowed it all in one sitting.  Now I have to wait for SOOOOO long for the next one!

If you haven’t read this series for younger readers, you are in for such a treat.  They are the perfect binge books for a rainy day…or a sunny one.  Or a sick day.  Well, okay, they are good anytime.  The Penderwicks are a loyal and honorable family, funny and feisty, filled with all the foibles any group with 4 girls, a dog and a rabbit would have.

They are the perfect books to insist on sharing with younger readers, mostly so the adults can actually finish them!  A lot of moms tell me they start reading them aloud and then the kids take them because they can’t stand to wait to see what happens next.  The adults have to sneak them out of backpacks and slide them out from under pillows so THEY can read them. 

The books take place in current day but the kids play outside and have many adventures, only stopping in to use a computer to check on a fact or to write school papers. They feel very old-fashioned in that respect: lots of playing outside, reading, having important discussions with family and friends. It's not all fairies and light, though: Mom died just after Batty, the youngest Penderwick, the one with wings in the first book, was born, Dad is a little lonely and works a lot, they aren't wealthy.  But, they have each other to play with and are eager to make friends, to add more fun to their lives.  The oldest Penderwick, Rosalind, is 12 when the series begins and is just beginning to notice boys which allows the series accessibility to an older reader. 

The girls are older now, in Penderwicks in Spring.  Batty is in 4th grade, Ben is in 2nd and newest Penderwick, Lydia, is just about two.  Parents are happy, kids are okay, some are in college, the Geiger boys are coming home, Ben is all about digging up rocks, Jeffrey's coming home for Batty's birthday, Lydia just wants to be wherever Ben is, and Batty has started a dog walking business.  There are some bouncy rough spots in the lives in the houses on Gardam Street, but mostly everything is good, until Batty accidentally hears Skye spilling a secret that she’s been holding forever. 

If you loved Noel Streatfield, or E. Nesbit's The Railway Children, you and your kids will love the Penderwicks, too. 

I can’t wait to start sharing this book with everyone!  Penderwicks in Spring will be available March 24, 2015.  $16.99.  Random House.  Ages:  Everyone!

Give your local bookshop a call to reserve your copies now.   Penderwicks in Spring will be out the first Tuesday after the Spring Equinox, also a perfect time to read these lovely books.

Monday, November 24, 2014

What a Book! I Remember You

Sunrise was at 7:28, sunset was at 4:24.  What a rainy day it was.  Water rushing down both sides of Rainier at 6:15 am, four feet out from the curbs on both sides, water streaming down all the streets and parking lots to add to the depths, the drains completely overwhelmed, more water going over the drains than into them. All I could think of was “rain gardens, rain gardens, rain gardens”! Exhilarating! 

Well, it's a good thing the ferry just stops on the other side.  I was reading I Remember You, by Cathleen Davitt Bell, and completely missed ALL the tells that I needed to get off the ferry: the warnings to get to your car, "walk on passengers must disembark", the bumps as we docked, the bridge coming down, the silence as I suddenly realized that I was the only one left except for the ferry folk coming to make sure no one's sleeping in a booth.  It is a REALLY good book!

I Remember You is a YA book about a couple of seventeen years-old.  They are both pretty sure they know how the rest of their lives will play out:  He will play hockey and then join the marines, she will go to college and become a lawyer.  But when they first meet, Lucas tells Juliet that he remembers her. He remembers their first kiss, the smell of her hair, how her college years will go.  Juliet is more than a little worried that Lucas could be crazy or psychic but he says it's not that: he's already lived this life with her and everything is a memory of their past and their lives together.

When it comes to trying to explain why she is so attracted to Lucas, as different from each other as they are, she can't tell anyone the truth, it's just too weird and unwieldy a story, all this talk of her future and his past, his breaking up with her (and his explanation about why and when he’ll do that), the reasons why he might be remembering his life with her…All she can do is love him. And she does, and we do - he's the perfect book crush.  He is sweet and caring, passes the hockey puck to everyone, is a true team player and thinks the world of Juliet.

I Remember You is so romantic, so well-told; I loved this book and its odd and quirky characters.  Juliet and Rosemary have a great friendship, (almost) always telling each other the truth, supporting each other without question.  Rosemary has "relationship issues" with boys, Lucas is loving and sweet, Dex is easy and bright, Jason is a little off and scary.   It is really a Young Adult novel:  There is sex, deception, a lot of drinking, also a lot of redemption, support, openness, and some really great adult characters.  And what a good premise!  Remembering your girlfriend before you even meet her!  There were a few moments where I thought, WHAT? but they passed and worked out.  As far as I know….

What a book, what a good time I had reading it! I hope you do, too.  I Remember You will be available February, 2015, from Knopf.  $17.99.  Give Eagle Harbor a call at 206-842-5332 if you need a copy and don’t have a local bookstore.  We will be so happy to help you out! 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Spool of Blue Thread

Sunrise was at 7:24, sunrise will be at 4:27.  Huh.  All the same numbers in those times.  It is rainy and blustery out there, Pooh.  Gray skies and very few leaves left on our old maple tree.

Oh, it's been so long since I last sat down to write about books (and the weather outside our windows).  I've been reading so much and in such small slivers of time (thank god for ferry time) that finding other time to sit and read is hard to do.

However!  The books I've been reading have been AMAZING!  Lots of YA, of course, and science fiction, mysteries, and I've been adding in a lot more books written for adults.  I haven't made "grown-up" books a priority in the past since I've been a children's book buyer and seller for most of my bookselling life.  But now, I am the "Adult Book Buyer" and, well, you can see what I need to do.  I've been collecting some of the best books our reps have recommended and have a nice stack to occupy my time during these long Pacific Northwest nights.

I just finished Anne Tyler’s new book, A Spool of Blue Thread, a story of family and home and what makes both: classic Anne Tyler. Abby and Red live and raise their family in a house built by hand by Red’s dad, a beautiful place with a wide porch, surrounded by poplars up on a small hill. 
The women (ditzy Abby, practical sisters Jeannie and Amanda, calm and inexplicable Nora, strong-willed Linnie Mae) and their men (quiet and hardworking Red, secretive Denny, steady Stem and bowled-over Junior) pull us back and forth in time from a cabin in Spruce Pine, Virginia, to the well-sanded, varnished, porch swing attached to the high-ceilinged Baltimore house the Whitshanks have lived in for three generations.

A Spool of Blue Thread is the story of a family but only as Anne Tyler can tell it:  humorous, sharp, with a sly insight into marriage and relationships. It is filled with hope and love and flawed people and I think you’re really going to like it, too.
Reading her books are like seeing a porch light in a storm: warm and familiar, never knowing quite what you’ll get when the door is opened, but looking forward to the visit.

(A Spool of Blue Thread will be available in February, 2015, and is published by Knopf.  $25.95.  Please read responsibly and support your local, independently owned bookstore.  If you don’t have one, call Eagle Harbor Books and you can use ours.)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Perfect Summer Series for Teens

Sunrise was at 6:16 am, sunset will be at 8:07 pm.

It's still summer!  Cool mornings, hot afternoons, breezy evenings.  The sun is the most amazing orange as it sets so much earlier than last week, the color most likely the reaction to smoke and fire, barbecue or forest.  There are blue jays and bluebirds, chickadees and robins, ducking in and out of the fountain out back, bumblebees, and once I saw 8 honeybees at the same time, in the lavender out front.  I love hearing the neighbor's ducks as the sun goes down, a low rolling quack quack quack as they settle.  Today we seal the deck.  Again.

I just finished three books, a little series, that feature teens who go to a high school in France, The School of America in Paris, by Stephanie Perkins.  It was a lot of fun to read all three of them at once, following one couple and their troubles and love, and then the next book, a new couple and their relationship and cameos of the other students we came to love in the other books. 

I'm glad I got to read them one after the other as my memory can truly suck after a year (or two) between books and I can't remember who's who after that long.  You are so lucky to be able to read them all at once, too, now that they are available side by side on the shelf of your bookstore.

The series is based in Paris, can you get more romantic than that? and each of the books focuses on a particular pair of friends who eventually become more than.  Being in Paris, far from home, family, and other friends, our heroes are cut loose from all things familiar which allows them to reinvent themselves, test new waters, and fall in love as if in free fall.  The city is as big a character as the humans in the story and is a wonderful foil for all the romance, mean girls, and break-ups that happen in a relationship.

These books aren't simple: they are packed with crushes, break-ups, breakdowns, studying, sex (yes, sex), detentions, odd friends, mean people, good people...They seem realistic (from the point of view someone who has never been to Paris, gone to a private school or the Olympics - the sports Olympics, not the mountain range - but who has fallen in love) and the emotion throughout is certainly true to anyone who has loved or been hurt in love.  I really liked these books and I think any of you who like YA Lit or who have a 14 year-old, this series will be a perfect end of summer read.

All are published by Dutton, are for ages 14 and up, the paperbacks (Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door) are 9.99, and Isla and the Happily Ever After is $17.99.  All are available now and you can get them at your local bookshop.  If you don't have a local bookshop, call me at Eagle Harbor (206-842-5332) and we will ship them to you!  

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Some Books for Early Readers

Sunrise was at 6:04 and sunset will be at 8:23.  Just about 10 minutes less daylight than last week. It's dark when I get up, now.  There's just the barest bluing of the air, the wind picking up as the sun gets higher, but it is obvious that we're heading into winter.  The lilac leaves are turning bright red already, the maple's helicopters are huge and still attached (thank ALL the gods) to the maple, and the blackberries smell like cobbler when it's warm (a very autumnal smell).  It's hot, everything is dry, and I come up our hill at the end of the day anticipating the beer at the end of the trip home (which I drink out on the porch next to the bubbler, reading just one more chapter).

My commute has been WONderful!  Sometimes foggy, sometimes clear, but mostly cool in the mornings, and hot in the afternoon, I sit on the ferry, book mostly forgotten on my lap, and watch the water traffic and the view, looking for whales and taking pictures of families with Rainier in the background.  Enforced non-desk time.

Lately, I've been reading a few first and second grade readers, those in-between books that give kids practice reading, give them confidence and then lead them into the whole grand world that is literature.  I love the books written for this age and grade level - there are some wonderful stories out there now for kids who are ready to make that leap into longer and more complicated books.  And the best thing is that authors are writing these stories without using simple words or simplistic storylines!

Kate DiCamillo's Mercy Watson series is hysterically funny, well-written, has great artwork, and a porcine heroine with an amazing capacity for toast.  Kate's now added a new character to her younger reader books, Leroy Ninker (a man who works at a drive-in movie theater) and his horse Maybelline.  Well, when the story begins, Leroy has boots, a hat and a lasso, but no horse!  Leroy Ninker Saddles Up is the story of how Leroy meets and becomes friends with Maybelline, a four-toothed horse with a love of beautiful words, especially those directed at her.

Leroy Ninker Saddles Up is funny and made me tear up at the end.  It's a book filled with angst and fear, great love and joy, a wonderful ending, big words, and complicated feelings. The thing I liked best about the book were the words used: Solemn, Exceptionally, Emboldened, Concept...wonderful phrases like  "purple mountains", "rue and regret", "take fate in your hands and wrestle it to the ground"...Many of the words can be figured out from their context and once learned will be remembered forever.  I just love that Ms. DiCamillo doesn't write down to an age, she writes the reader up to a new level. (Ages 5-10, Candlewick Press.Available this month, August!  $12.99.)

Lenore Look's got a new addition to the Alvin Ho oeuvre: Alvin Ho Allergic to the Great Wall, the Forbidden Palace, and Other Tourist Attractions.  YAY!  Alvin is Chinese-American, in second grade, and pretty much afraid of everything.  Luckily, he has a great family that helps him through his worry and fear of EVERYTHING!

In this, the 6th, I think, in the series, Alvin and his family go visit his grandparents in Beijing.  Very funny, very realistic, Alvin is worried about everything, again.  He can't go up and down in the elevator, loses his dad's passport, won't go to the Great Wall... and yet still prevails, learning so much.  The best part was when he could NOT use the public toilets.  I really like these books.  Alvin is such a sweetheart, he always means to do the right thing, he just doesn't always get there.  I loved the part where he and his dad are lost in an alley and they go to a fortune teller.  She tells Alvin that he will be married and Alvin freaks, yelling that he won't be getting married and "HISWIFEISGOINGTOBEAHAMSTER!"

The books really appeal to this age group, 6-9, and the experiences will resonate with them.  There is a lot of information in these books and a pretty amazing glossary in the back, although the definition of EUNUCH is not included.  There's enough artwork to give kids' eyes a break from the text, and the art's pretty funny stuff, too.  (Ages 6 and up.  Schwartz & Wade,  Available now.  $15.99)

The classics are still good, too:  Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad books, Syd Hoff's Danny and the Dinosaur and Who Will be My Friends, Cynthia Rylant's Mr. Putter and Tabby series and the Cobblestreet Cousins series.  All of which are probably at your local bookstore on the shelves NOW! No waiting. No online problems, no censorship, you will be able to pre-order and buy whatever books you want from Hachette, Disney and any other publisher you can think of!  Who needs the store in the sky when there are so many bookstores waiting for you to be a part of their community of neighbors and ideas? 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Sunrise was at 5:13 am, sunset will be at 9:03pm.  I got home last night at 10 pm and the sky was still light.  I LOVE this time of year.

Cool, cloudy, massively green out there, this morning.  The view from our dining room is full of blackberry bushes, trees and birds.  A chickadee has been hovering over the blackberries like a hummingbird and plucking petals off the blossoms and carrying them away - decorating a nest?  I don't know, but it's pretty interesting.

Lexington Ave. On my way to see Peter Sis!
I just got back from New York for the big book show.  I like New York, I like books, I like most of the people attached to the show, I have a hard time with crowds, kind of a conundrum when every aisle in the building is packed with (mostly) younger readers, bloggers, waiting in long lines for signed books.

Those of us who had work to do could only look at what was being handed over and yearn for the time to wait for that book.  That book for me was  Sinner,
Maggie Stiefvater's new book, but I didn't have the time to wait.

Ambassador Eoin Colfer and me at BEA
I did, however, make the time to wait in a line the next day with very excited bloggers (the very first person in line was hyperventilating; he kept saying, Oh, my God, I'm so excited!) to meet Eoin Colfer.  I am going to tell you now just how thrilled I was when Eoin caught my eye and then waved at me standing there in the line.  Sigh.  So, I waited through all the pictures and hugs and babbling of all those bloggers and a few librarians until it was my turn and, yes, I did the exact same thing.  I'm sure I babbled a little but I demanded a picture of the two of us AND a hug.  I love me some Eoin Colfer.  (Here signing The Reluctant Assassin, book 1 in the W.A.R.P. series.)

Book Love:  I did find some things I can't wait to read - they are still on their continental drift from that coast to this - but I had to make lists of the things I didn't pick up for immediate consumption so I can remember to look for them later.

Ember in the Ashes Manuscript
One of the books I picked up and then packed up to share with the staff is by a new author, Sabaa Tahir, who on her own has an amazing story to tell, but the one she's written, Ember in the Ashes, is a fast-paced adventure story that feels as if it's placed somewhere on this earth, somewhen in the far future, and is a not-so-gentle mix of mythologies from all the hot places, Rome, the Middle East, the Mojave.  The military is a harsh bunch trained from youth who feel it is their right to take what they want, when they want.  Our heroine, Laia, has lost the last person in her family to this brutal bunch.  She knows he is imprisoned somewhere and she joins the underground to find him.  Unfortunately, circumstances put her in the ultimate danger, in the home of the head of the military, vicious woman, the mother of one of the soldiers.  This is a tough, unforgiving life for the people living, and dying, here.  The book is packed with action and danger, but it isn't without hope and courage (and a big helping of romance!). 

I can't wait to start selling this book to our customers.  It was SO good and I am hoping there will be another one SOON!  I don't know when it's coming, I don't know the price...It's so new and exciting! I know it's published by Penguin Young Readers Group and everyone should put it on order at their Indie bookshops, like Eagle Harbor Book Company!   (Ages 13+)

(No Recompense Received for this Post.)