Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spotlight Review: Sweet Hereafter by Angela Johnson

This review is a guest post by the awesome LaTonya at Black Eyed Susans

LaTonya is closer to fifty than not and happy about it. She has two daughters, one kitty and one great guy. In her former life she worked in reference publishing and had a successful run as a small press publisher, book charity administrator and currently her friends call her a literacy advocate. Favorite genres: YA, women's and multicultural literature. Favorite food is Indian. She's like young crooners like Jaime Cullen and mature singers like Cassandra Wilson and Dianne Reeves. She will not name a favorite author or book. :-)
Having read the other titles in the trilogy, I think sweet, hereafter is a deft closing. This final installment is about Sweet, a young girl we meet through Marley in Heaven. Sweet is odd; she wears knee high rain boots, isn’t obsessed with ipods or Facebook, drives a truck dubbed Alice and likes feeding ground hogs apple peels. She doesn’t fit in with her perfect, beautiful family. In this closing book, it’s a few years later and Sweet, a senior, is still odd but popular. When her relationship with her family reaches her breaking point, she moves in with Curtis, another quiet but friendly young man enlisted in the Reserves home after one tour in Iraq. Their connection is both tender and tenuous.

The story unfolds slowly. The commentary is sparse and even the most dramatic scenes are subdued. This is however a poignant read. Johnson renders a short, but memorable story about how we find meaning and make connections in the lives we lead. There’s no happy ending but there is resolution. There is some peace. To paraphrase one of the characters, there is enough. We don’t get a lot of time with the characters, we don’t get lengthy histories or long passages of dialogue but we do get enough. We get a mother connecting with a daughter in a way I think the daughter understands. We get a young girl and young man loving for a time. We see friends doing what they can. We get enough.

In a culture where communication is a juxtaposition of multi-tasking and texting, I think this kind of brevity matches teens' modern sensibility without compromising the art. This is life distilled in a meaningful way.

The length of the book works. This book is small but powerful. Yes, it is a good for a reluctant reader and a broader audience as well. My experience is that most teens want everything from food to entertainment to get to the point and get there fast. No, we don’t get 400 pages of pining or violence. It’s not an epic tale of adventure. It is what I think the author intended: an intimate close to a series that has looked at relationships the way they really happen.

For me the read is seamless; elegant in sparse prose lines that feel like poetry. The depth of the work is understated but potent.

Have you read any Johnson? How do you feel about slim volume YA titles? What elements do you need in a work to keep you interested: dialogue, action, fantasy, humor?

Friday, March 12, 2010

March reviews

Hey guys and gals. Just a quick note to let you know that I want to highlight some of your PoC reviews this month! If you have one that you want on the site email it to pam@eurobands.us with your link a picture of yourself if you have one and a short bio.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Lee & Low Books Acquires Tu Publishing, Brings Diversity to Fantasy and Science Fiction

LEE & LOW BOOKS, the respected independent children's book publisher specializing in diversity, has acquired Tu Publishing, an independent press focusing on multicultural fantasy and science fiction for middle grade and young adult readers.
New York, NY (PRWEB) March 9, 2010 -- LEE & LOW BOOKS, the respected independent children's book publisher specializing in diversity, has acquired Tu Publishing, an independent press focusing on multicultural fantasy and science fiction for middle grade and young adult readers.

“This is a natural fit for us,” says LEE & LOW publisher Jason Low. “Our customers have been asking us for years to publish stories for older readers. Tu represents an excellent way for us to bring diversity to a whole new audience.”

Recent controversies over whitewashing have brought widespread attention to the dearth of people of color in fantasy and science fiction stories, although avid fans of these genres have long acknowledged the problem.

Tu Publishing founder Stacy Whitman began the press in 2009 to address the need for more books featuring diverse characters and inspired by non-Western cultures, a need that she had seen as both a reader and an editor of fantasy and science fiction.

Supporters met Whitman’s project with great enthusiasm and donated funds via the online organization Kickstarter to help launch the company. Through many small donations, Tu Publishing surpassed its $10,000 goal, catching the attention of LEE & LOW.

“The fact that Tu was able to raise so much money indicates that there is a real need for this,” says Low. Since Tu will now become an imprint of LEE & LOW, all money will be refunded to donors.

“The outpouring of support on the Kickstarter project and from children’s book professionals validates my mission, and the opportunity to join forces with LEE & LOW, with its vast experience publishing diverse children’s books, will allow me to accomplish my goals even beyond what I could have expected,” Whitman explains.

Whitman will join LEE & LOW as editorial director of the new imprint, which will undergo a slight name change to Tu Books. Several manuscripts are already under consideration for possible acquisition, with hopes of releasing the first books under the new imprint in 2011.

**Press release courtesy of PRWeb. Thank you to Miriam for bringing it to my attention!

Monday, March 8, 2010

February Winner + A Link of Interest

Time to announce the February winner who is *DRUMROLL*

The Cazzy Librarian!

Cazzy reviewed Pemba's Song which was the review picked by random.org

Congrats Cazzy :) You have 48 hours to email me with your mailing address and your book choice from the prize list.

And for everyone else, we have a lot of prizes so even if you don't when one during the monthly giveaway, you could win one at the end.

Also do check out this post by author Justin Allen. it's funny, informative and it talks about books and their covers (specifically, whitewashing).

Here's an excerpt.

The New York Times Book Review Hates YOU, but I Don’t;
Or… Why Where Your Book Gets Shelved Determines Your Intelligence,
Work-Ethic and Value to Society

That’s a longish title I’ll admit, and while I generally don’t go in for
such larded vessels, in this case I’m willing to make an exception.
Monstrous though it may seem (and most assuredly is), the above title
sums up pretty much everything I have to say on the subjects of writing
and publishing. The first line ought to be read as a word of warning to
struggling writers. The second explains - in as much as an explanation of
the unintelligible is even possible - why the publishing industry behaves
as it does. And the third highlights our common enemy, which turns out to
be ourselves.
Really - if I must say so myself - that title is a wonder of economy,
precision and restraint. But maybe you’d like me to elaborate? Normally
I’d refuse - principally on the grounds that my arguments tend to be
weakened by exploration - but as I have been contracted to provide a
minimum of fifteen minutes of reading diversion, I will betray myself and
attempt to explain…

Why Where Your Book Gets Shelved Determines Your Intelligence, Work-Ethic
and Value to Society.

Monday, March 1, 2010

March Book Review Links

I am so impressed with the level of participation we had last month! It was the shortest month of the year and yet as of this morning we had 93 reviews linked up for February! I don't know about you, but I've been really enjoying reading everyone's reviews.

Here we are, at the start of a new month, so here's the link-up for March:

March POC Book Review Links
1. Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles (Once Upon a Bookcase)  41. The Joys of Motherhood (BrownGirl BookSpeak)  
2. The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon (Stone-Bow)  42. Peace Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson (Books&Wine)  
3. Becoming Billie Holiday by Carole Boston Weatherford (Stone-Bow)  43. Mardel - Church Folk by Michele Andrea Bowen  
4. Dust Tracks on a Road by Zora Neale Hurston  44. Notorious Spinks Talks- One Man's Treasure  
5. Face by Sherman Alexie (Marieke - Athyrium filix-femina)  45. A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts, by Ying Chang Compestine (Charlotte's Library)   
6. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (Mel u-The Reading Life)  46. Haunting Bombay, by Shilpa Agarwal (Charlotte's Library)  
7. Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez (Bloggin' 'bout Books)  47. Zorro by Isabel Allende (After Library School)  
8. The Conch Bearer by Divakaruni (Karen)  48. Scars by Cheryl Rainfield and Dancing Through the Snow by Jean Little (Terry Doherty)  
9. Tiger Moon, by A. Michaelis (Charlotte's Library)  49. Peony In Love by Lisa See (The Reading Life)  
10. The Key by Junichiro Tanizaki (Mel u-The Reading Life)  50. Notorious Spinks Talks- big book of SOUL  
11. Year of the Horse (lucy was robbed)  51. Shifty by Lynn E. Hazen (Into the Wardrobe)  
12. Shine, Coconut Moon (Melissa @Book Nut)  52. City of Ghosts (I Was A Teenage Book Geek)  
13. Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson (I Was A Teenage Book Geek)  53. Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon (Reading Extensively)  
14. Paper Daughter by Jeanette Ingold (Books&Wine)  54. Sugar by Bernice McFadden (A Few More Pages)  
15. A Personal Matter by Kenzaburo Oe (Mel u-The Reading Life)  55. The Surrendered by Chang Rae Lee (Karen GHHS Library)  
16. Sugar by Bernice L McFadden (Melissa @ Book Nut)  56. The Death March: A Documentary Novel by Jiro Nitta  
17. Libyrinth by Pearl North (Tia\'s Book Musings)  57. The Diving Pool by Yoko Ogawa (The Reading Life)  
18. The Complete Persepolis (The Englishist)  58. Melissa@Book Nut (Marching for Freedom)  
19. The Eternal Smile (The Englishist)  59. Bleeding Violet (Voracious YAppetite)  
20. Sugar by Bernice L McFadden (April Books & Wine)  60. The Good Girl\'s Guide to Getting Kidnapped (Voracious YAppetite)  
21. Heaven by Angela Johnson (Bloggin' 'bout Books)  61. The Iron King (Voracious YAppetite)  
22. Sweet, Hereafter by Angela Johnson (Black-Eyed Susan's)  62. Feminista (Thehappynappybookseller)  
23. Monique and the Mango Rains by Kris Holloway (Tia's Book Musings)  63. An Ocean Apart a World Away (Thehappynappybookseller)  
24. The Skin I'm In (The Englishist)  64. Most Loved in All the World (Thehappynappybookseller)  
25. Backtracked by Pedro de Alcantara  65. Fortune\'s Bones (Thehappynappybookseller@gmail.com)  
26. The Street of a Thousand Blossoms by Gail Tsukiyama (The Reaing Life-Mel u)  66. Sweet, Hereafter (Thehappynappybookseller)  
27. Broken Memory (Helen\'s Book Blog)  67. Ruby Booker Trivia Queen (Thehappynappybookseller)  
28. One Amazing Thing by Divakaruni (Karen GHHS Library)  68. Dear Primo (Thehappynappybookseller)  
29. My Life as a Rhombus (The Englishist)  69. Good Fortune (Thehappynappybookseller)  
30. Shine, Coconut Moon (Stone-Bow)  70. Blue Mountain Trouble (Thehappynappybookseller)  
31. Amanda (Mornings in Jenin)  71. Purple Hibiscus (GAL Novelty)  
32. Bloodchild by Octavia Butler (Tia's Book Musings)  72. A Spy in the House (GAL Novelty)  
33. Maritcha: A Nineteenth Century American Girl (Stone-Bow)  73. Escaping the Tiger (Beach Rading)  
34. Keeping Corner (Helen's Book Blog)  74. Ash (Beach Reading)  
35. Push by Sapphire (Books&Wine)  75. From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun (Beach Reading)  
36. Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman (The Reading Life-Mel u)  76. Anahita's Woven Riddle (Beach Reading)  
37. A Million Shades of Grey by Cynthia Kadohata (GAL Novelty)  77. The Best Kept Secret by Kimberla Lawson Roby (Tea/Leola)  
38. Tracks by Louise Erdrich (Zee @ Notes from the North)  78. Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons by Ann Rinaldi (Tea/Leola)  
39. Shine Coconut Moon (BrownGirl BookSpeak)  79. The Freedom Writers Diary (Tia\'s Book Musings)  
40. Me Dying Trial (BrownGirl BookSpeak)  

(Collection closed)
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