Tag Archive | business

On ghosts, in the laundry – Sheets, by Brenna Thummler (book review)

book cover of Sheets, by Brenna Thummler. Published by Cub House/Lion Forge | recommended on BooksYALove.com Mom’s gone forever,
Dad’s drifting…
where did this ghost come from?

Junior high has enough challenges, but now Marjorie has to make sure her little brother eats (not just junk food) and run the laundry business by herself.

Maybe having a ghost around is better than dealing with the local man trying to cheat her out of their house/laundromat!

Find this August 2018 book at your local library or independent bookstore or comic shop.

Any ghosts you’d like to meet?
**kmm

Book info: Sheets / Brenna Thummler. Cub House/Lion Forge, 2018. [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: A schoolgirl in mourning and a tale-telling new ghost unexpectedly meet in this graphic novel that explores endings and beginnings.

Marjorie keeps the family laundry going when her father cannot cope. Never mind that she should be concentrating on her junior high assignments instead of “no starch, get that spot out, I need it today” customers – or Mr. Saubertuck’s demands that she sell out so he can build a yoga spa in their small Pennsylvania town.

Wendell brings a new story to every DYE meeting, but still isn’t ready to share with the other ghosts how he died. Never mind that it’s forbidden to even walk near the train connecting the worlds of living and dead – or to sneak a ride and arrive wind-blown in Marjorie’s laundry.

Ghosts aren’t real! If they were, Marjorie’s mother would have drifted by to comfort her little brother and dad, of course.

So how can Marjorie see little-boy-ghost Wendell?

Why could Wendell get back to the living world?

Why can’t he remember what’s important about this lakeside town?

As Halloween approaches and Mr. Saubertuck pressures Marjorie to sell their home and business, maybe a young ghost with holes in his memory and a young woman with a huge hole in her heart can find a way to heal together.

C for The Candymakers, by Wendy Mass (book review) – sweet competition, dark secrets

book cover of The Candymakers by Wendy Mass published by Little BrownA scrumptious contest to win!
An entire candy factory to use!
Secrets to keep…

Logan, Miles, Daisy, and Philip each have worrisome problems in their lives which they must overcome or work around so that they can succeed in this sweet opportunity that most twelve-year-olds can only dream about.

Despite having four youngsters entering a candy factory, this is not at all a copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,  but a unique story with its own variations and flavors of friendship.

Pick up this yummy tale today at your local library or independent bookstore; it’s a great all-ages read-aloud with mysterious twists.

What candy would you invent to satisfy discriminating sweet tooths?
**kmm

Book info: The Candymakers / Wendy Mass. Little Brown, 2010 hardback, 2011 paperback.  [author’s website]  [book website]   [publisher site] [fan-created book trailer]

My Book Talk:  Inventing a new candy! What could be a sweeter contest for kids, especially the four regional finalists who live near the famous Life Is Sweet candy factory? Except that only one can win, even if the twelve-year-olds can overcome their differences and become friends…

Logan lives in Life Is Sweet with his Candymaker parents, who stopped giving factory tours a few years ago. Miles is allergic to rowboats and wonders constantly about the afterlife, sometimes speaking in code. Daisy carries a big book in her bag everywhere, is amazingly strong and often looks distracted. Philip in his business suit chooses regular pizza over chocolate pizza for lunch and doesn’t want to have any fun.

From calming the bees whose honey makes the best nougat to squooshing through the mud to harvest roots to make marshmallows, the four young people learn about all the ingredients that go into candy on their first day at the factory. Camping out under the sapodilla trees and vanilla vines in the Tropical Room, they dream about making the best, most unique candies in the world.

So whose idea will work – and win? Logan’s chocolate that turns into gum then back into chocolate? Daisy’s ummm-something flower or Philip’s playable candy harmonica? And they have just one full day to create the actual product!

The winning candy will be produced by the factory sponsoring its creator, so if Life Is Sweet brings a winner to the Confectionary Association’s contest, they’ll be able to keep making high-quality candies. It’s an open secret that Life Is Sweet puts their secret ingredient into every candy they make…and that other candymakers really want to have it.

Is someone trying to steal the secret ingredient?
Why does Logan live at the factory instead of going to school?
Can the four competitors be friends and still make amazing candy in just one day?

Friendship, complications, misunderstandings, and trust fill the many compartments of this story told from four viewpoints with a surprise ending and a yummy twist. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Tempestuous, by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes (book review) – blizzard, robbery, clique wars, corndogs

book cover of Tempestuous by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes published by Merit PressPopular crowd versus geek teens,
Trapped together by a blizzard
With bad cellphone reception… and a robber!

It’s Gossip Girl  and MacGyver woven into Shakespeare’s play The Tempest as authors Kim Askew and Amy Helmes throw the Bard’s heroine Miranda Prospero into a winter-whipped shopping mall with Ariel as her corndog-cooking sidekick.

Check your local library or independent bookstore for this first book in the Twisted Lit series from new publisher Merit Press.

Kind of crazy, lots of fun! What other Shakespeare remixes do you know of?
**kmm

Book info: Tempestuous (Twisted Lit #1) / Kim Askew and Amy Helmes. Merit Press, 2012. [Kim’s website]  [Amy’s website]   [publisher site]   [book trailer]    (Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher)

My Book Talk: Trudging through the snow toward the mall, Miranda again laments the unfairness of her life. Forced to work at a corndog stand in the mall to pay back the finks who turned her tutoring-matchmaking service into a cheating scam, Daddy taking away her platinum charge cards, wearing this hideous uniform with the revolving-wienie hat… at least other teens working in the mall turn to her for advice in sticky situations.

Thank goodness perky co-worker Ariel also pulled this Saturday night shift at Hot Dog Kebob, so Miranda can throw her a surprise birthday party for her after closing. The petite home-schooled 17-year-old deserves the ice cream cake that Grady the security cop will pick up later. Maybe moody Caleb from the game store and gangly Chad from the sports store will come by, but no one has seen their pal Mike from collectibles tonight.

The news is forecasting blizzard conditions overnight so the food court supervisor leaves early; in fact, most customers are heading out, but the closing employees must stay to lock up. Too bad Miranda’s ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend didn’t go when they could – the mall doors are now completely blocked by snow! No one is getting home from here tonight and the mall cop has just discovered a burglary!

Suddenly shoppers and workers try to find the best places to stay for the night, praying that the power stays on and that the robber stays away. Miranda accidentally gets handcuffed to Caleb, someone stalls the elevator with a panicked teen inside, and boredom threatens to become chaos if something exciting doesn’t happen soon. Finding another teen knocked out cold by the robber wasn’t in the plan!

How long are the rival factions of teens going to be trapped in the mall?
Will Caleb’s impromptu concert keep things from getting crazy?
Can Grady trap the robber before someone else gets hurt?
How can Miranda get out of these handcuffs and get to the bathroom?

A modern retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, this first book in the Twisted Lit series has more wild and crazy twists than Miranda ever dreamed of, with quotes from the play as chapter headings to add to the fun. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Dark Unwinding, by Sharon Cameron (fiction) – invention, espionage, affection

Book cover of The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron published by ScholasticClever clockwork devices,
A hidden town,
A special man with a child’s heart,
A spy and traitor plotting destruction…

Is it any wonder that Mr. Babcock used Uncle Tully’s money to rescue working families from the poorhouses and create a unique village to fill all the estate’s needs? Or that agents from enemy countries would try to steal Uncle Tully’s work to use against England? Or that Katharine might finally find love?

The author promises us a sequel in fall 2013, so visit Stranwyne Keep yourself soon – and watch out for Aunt Alice’s sharp tongue!
**kmm

Book info: The Dark Unwinding / Sharon Cameron. Scholastic Press, 2012.  [author’s website] [publisher site]

My Recommendation: It seems that Uncle is squandering away the family fortune, so it falls to Katharine to quietly visit the old man and gather enough evidence to have him declared insane. As “the poor relative”, the young lady has no choice but to make the long carriage journey to Stranwyne Keep, and a mysteriously strange place she finds it indeed.

A drowsy housekeeper, a mute young boy, a belligerent apprentice named Lane – that’s the entire staff for this huge English manor house? Mrs. Jeffries recognizes Katharine as Mr. Simon’s orphan daughter and avers that cousin Robert’s scheming mother must have sent her here to uproot Mr. Tully.

Where is all the money going if Uncle doesn’t throw lavish parties or buy fine horses? In his workshop across the moors, childlike genius Uncle Tully creates precise inventions in miniature with Lane’s assistance and keeps an unvarying personal timetable. Automatons, clockwork creations, part science, part magic, all Uncle Tully.

The family solicitor enlightens Katharine about how this estate is run – and how an entire village supports Uncle Tully’s projects as the estate supports its hundreds of workers rescued from London’s poorhouses! No wonder there is less money in the accounts than before… yet Mr. Babcock assures her that these projects will rebuild the fortune soon.

Katharine becomes convinced that some of her uncle’s entertaining inventions are very practical (others quite dangerous and alarming) as her fondness for this very special person grows, so she decides to support him in defiance of her aunt’s wishes, endangering her own chances of a safer financial future.

But all is not well in this idyllic setting, as strange noises taunt Katharine in the manor, Lane warns her about upsetting her uncle, a visiting student of mechanics begins to court her, people disappear from one location and reappear far away, and the villagers turn against her in defense of their dear Mr. Tully.

Who can she trust now – Lane? Mr. Babcock? Her maid and friend from the village?
What’s causing those eerie noises and her new nightmares?
Is someone really planning to steal inventions from Uncle Tully’s workshop?

A mystery and a Victorian family drama rolled into one, this Dark Unwinding twists and turns as Uncle Tully’s inventions tick-tock along, and a villain seeks to use them for nefarious purposes. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Year Zero, by Rob Reid (book review) – music downloads, alien invasion, legal loopholes?

book cover of Year Zero by Rob Reid published by Del Rey Books

Sharing music is an age-old tradition.
Downloading music is more recent.
But global annihilation to avoid copyright fees?

That’s what Earth faces when the rest of the universe realizes that their music downloads since the 1970s have run up a copyright bill bigger than…than…than the universe.

Author Rob Reid knows quite a lot about music licensing and copyright, since he founded the Rhapsody music service before he wrote this first novel. About those lawsuit-happy aliens… he’s not telling us his sources.

Grab this funny-alien-legal-music-thriller in hardcover, eBook, or audiobook now at your local library or independent bookstore; available in paperback April 30, 2013.

Wonder if aliens really prefer disco to 80s hair metal?
**kmm

Book info: Year Zero / Rob Reid. Del Rey Books, 2012.  [author’s website] [author’s Facebook page] [publisher site] [book trailer]

My Book Talk: Radio waves going from station to listener bounce out into space, too, and the aliens agree that Earth’s music is better than any other in the universe.
But once they realize how much money the entire Refined League owes in royalty and copyright fees to human musicians, some alien bad guys decide that wiping out Earth to erase the debt is the only way to go!
However, most aliens would rather find a more-peaceful solution, so a few drop in on New York attorney Nick Carter to have him fix it all. Alas, Nick is not the Backstreet Boys singer Nick (as the aliens had hoped) nor is he the world’s best music copyrights attorney who could possibly find a way to reverse-license a few decades of slightly-to-completely illegal music downloads many light years from Earth.
But he’s going to have to try, since the bad-aliens will blow up Earth in a few days’ time if he can’t find a way around or through this problem. Of course, his law firm will decide this week on whether he’ll finally be named a junior partner or get axed, his cute neighbor also acquires a stray pet who’s an alien spy, and the wrinkles of universe-travels get a little sweaty.
Did the aliens of the Refined League honestly decide that Earth’s musical domination of the universe ended with rap?
Are there truly jokes coded into human (or Perfuffinite) DNA, since our bodies only use 2% of the genome?
Is there really a loophole in US music copyright law that Nick can find in time?
This debut novel by the founder of Rhapsody online music service brings music-crazed aliens to Earth, whisks earnest-but-only-human humans into outer space battles, and sharply skewers the most restrictive music copyright system in the universe between all the laughs.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Difference Between You and Me, by Madeleine George (fiction) – love, be true to yourself

book cover of Difference Between You and Me by Madeleine George published by Viking

Fisherman boots and rough-cut hair.
Sweet little flats and pearl buttons.
These two girls couldn’t be more different, yet more attracted to one another.

But fabulous kisses can hardly outweigh Emily’s go-go-go-business attitude when Jesse considers the damage that a large corporation could inflict on their charming small town. 

Beyond the complicated/simple attraction between Jesse and Emily in this story is the larger question of being true to your community. Whether observing the International Day of Peace Vigil every September 21st with millions or demonstrating weekly for peace like Jesse and friends, perhaps humankind can take more steps forward for community and peace in 2013.

Find this honest and enriching story in hardback or eBook today at your local library or independent bookstore.
What’s your most heartfelt wish for this new year?
**kmm

Book info: The Difference Between You and Me / Madeleine George. Viking, 2012. [author’s website] [publisher site] [book trailer]

My Recommendation: Her kisses are perfect, her pearl-button sweaters are adorable, but the way that Emily compartmentalizes her life bugs Jesse. Of course, it’s complicated because she’s always second-fiddle to Emily’s boyfriend, and Emily’s work as Student Council VP, and Emily’s upcoming internship with NorthStar…

Jesse’s parents accept her orientation, although they’re not so happy about her frequent detentions for plastering the high school with posters for NOLAW, the National Organization to Liberate All Weirdos. They think she has a crush on earnest young activist Esther when the girls attend their town’s weekly peace vigil together. Honestly…
Her buddy Wyatt has to contend with his anti-gay father while trying to keep his homeschooling on track so that he doesn’t have to go back to their high school; he and Jesse keep each other real. So why hasn’t Jesse ever told him about her weekly rendezvous with Emily?
Emily cannot understand why the Student Council won’t let NorthStar be the sole sponsor of their dance. Just because the corporation might bring a huge StarMart to town, might endanger all the small businesses, might…might…might!
When should financial gain win out over doing the right thing? How far can you go to protect your community without resorting to violence? How do you decide when a relationship is over?
Alternating chapters by Jesse and Emily weave together a story that’s more than physical attraction and much more than your average StuCo meeting.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

On ARCs, review timing, and niches (reflective) – my blog = my choices & recommendations

sketch of black cat reading a sheet of paper
from OpenClipart.org

After I left my High School library 3 years ago, I seriously missed being able to connect the right books with the right readers. Thankfully, a shout-out from Barb Langridge on LM_NET (school librarians’ listserv) let me start writing recommendations of great books for babies, kids, tweens, and teens on her site www.abookandahug.com. (Try the “Which Reading Superhero Are You?” quiz – it’s spot on!)

Then on May 1, 2011, I started BooksYALove as part of the WordCount Blogathon so that I could add my own personal observations and relevant info links to my recommendations. Despite other bloggers’ urging, I have NOT ‘monetized’ this blog – no referral links to online book retailers or ads. I will often point readers to sites where they can search for local library or independent bookseller – sales taxes support essential services where we live, ya know.

I want BooksYALove to be a repository of recommendations for books that YA readers might miss – those great ones from first-time authors, small publishers, and smaller imprints of major publishing houses. The books must be available in a bricks-and-mortar store (even if by special order) and from more than one source online if in electronic formats = I won’t point YA readers toward any book that requires a credit card in order to obtain it, so I’m not accepting self-published works currently.

My TBR (to be read) stacks of printed ARCs and new books require additional bookshelves now, while my downloaded ARCs need some sort of pinging alarm system to remind me of their digital expiration dates.

BooksYALove is a niche blog, so I’m picky about the ARCs that I choose, whether it’s at Texas Library Conference or directly from publishers. And as for the ARCs themselves, I admit to having a love/hate relationship: 
I love being able to get ARCs so that I can read and recommend the best works from debut authors and smaller presses, but I hate the pile-up of non-sellable books (if print format) and the too-quick expiration of most digital ARCs.

Yes, I realize that publishers are wary of allowing digital-format ARCs to be “out in the wild” once the works are actually published, but I don’t want to be forced to write a recommendation during their preset publicity schedule! Yes, word-of-mouth publicity just prior to publication date helps create “buzz” for a new book, but you’d think that publishers would like to also build up a groundswell of sales during the months (or years) following a book’s birthday.

Best-case scenario for me is to read the book and write a recommendation during the digital ARC’s open-time, then publish it on my schedule. So thanks to the urging of Bekka at Pretty Deadly Reviews, I’m signing up for the Netgalley Knockdown in July, trying to read all of the digital ARCs currently in my queue with Netgalley, Edelweiss, and directly from publishers, write up at least the barebones of any recommendations (since not every interesting-sounding book makes the cut for BooksYALove, you know), then decide when I want to blog them.

I’ll keep choosing just the best ARCs to place on my real and virtual TBR shelves for books you won’t want to miss. Lots of great reading ahead, y’all!
**kmm

All These Things I’ve Done, by Gabrielle Zevin = Z (fiction) – chocolate, crime, deadly

Payoffs keep New York City running.
Chocolate and caffeine are illegal drugs.
Paper is scarce and clean water even scarcer.
Welcome to 2083.

Anya has inherited her crime boss father’s business sense, his stake in the mafiya chocolate empire, and responsibility for her mentally disabled older brother, precocious younger sister, and dying grandmother.

What a time to fall in love! And with Win, of all people. Her lab partner for anatomy and physiology class is cute, smart, and the son of NYC’s newest assistant district attorney who is determined to make it to the top by shutting down illegal chocolate operations.

In the face of the frightening choices that she must make to keep her immediate family safe, Anya asks God’s forgiveness for All These Things I’ve Done, first in the Birthright series.

So this is the last A-to-Z Blog Challenge post for this year, 26 new book recommendations in April! On to the 2012 WordCount Blogathon for May and BooksYALove’s first birthday tomorrow.
**kmm

Book info: All These Things I’ve Done (Birthright, book 1) / Gabrielle Zevin. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2011 (hardback); Square Fish, 2012 (paperback). [author’s website] [publisher site] [book trailer]

My Recommendation: Illegal or unwise – which choice is worse? Anya’s mafiya family makes chocolate, that forbidden drug, in crime-riddled New York City in 2083. The teen is trying to keep life normal for her grandmother, brother, and sister when someone is poisoned by tainted Balanchine chocolate. Now the police and the mafiya are trying to pin the blame on her.

The cute boy she’s falling for at school turns out to be son of the new DA who’s determined to prosecute chocolate and caffeine trafficking to the max, her older brother is incapable of caring for himself, and her grandmother’s health is failing. If Nana dies, the mafiya will gladly take over all the assets left to her by her dead crime boss father, and the city authorities will separate her from her brother and sister.

Surely Win knows who she is, knows what her extended family does – how can he start a relationship that’s guaranteed to anger his father? At least she’s finally broken up with that loser Gable, who was only after her chocolate connection.

When her brother Leo loses his cleaning job and starts hanging out with some of their more unsavory cousins, Anya warns him that they’re just trying to take advantage of him. No one could imagine that he’d get stuck in the middle of a big mafiya operation or that foreign racketeers might be trying to take over Balanchine’s territory.

Who’s really behind the chocolate poisonings? How can Anya keep juggling her siblings’ needs, her schoolwork, and her feelings for Win? How deep do family loyalties run and how far will their “protective” reach go? (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Whose Internet is this, anyway? (reflective)

If today (January 18, 2012) is “Internet Blackout Day” to protest SOPA/PIPA bills under consideration by the US Congress… then why am I still online? Why are you online, if you’re reading this post on the 18th?

Is it because we cannot go a single day or hour or minute without our entertainment and news and communication? Perhaps – but there are still movies and print newspapers and telephone calls that can fill those voids.

More likely, we’re online – now and any time – because we must share something. I mean that we are truly driven to share good news, bad news, cute kitten pictures, tidbits of information, and titles of books that someone else will just love; we are humans, and our culture of sharing is part of what makes us human.

To me, giving credit to the originator/creator/performer of a painting, a song, a book, a charming and witty sentence is a moral obligation, according to my upbringing and my education as a librarian. This was much easier when books and paintings were “one-off” and there was only one original with no easy way to copy it. Then along came the printing press, camera, tape recorder, photocopier and so on. Thank goodness for US copyright laws.

Yes, piracy of intellectual property is a real and growing problem. Yes, there do need to be legal ways to stop and punish intentional internet piracy. But I agree with many others that SOPA/PIPA is the wrong way to accomplish this.

This tweet today from Erin Bow (author of Plain Kate, which I recommend) puts it in perspective for me: “I’m an author; I make a living because of copyright, and piracy takes its toll. But SOPA would stop piracy by poisoning the ocean.” @ErinBowBooks

Google has started a petition to protest passage of SOPA (the House of Representatives version)/ PIPA (the Senate version); you can sign it here.

The bills are scheduled for Jan. 24th vote, so you have time to read them yourself (PIPA here, SOPA here) and contact your Representative and your Senators to help them understand that censoring the Internet through SOPA/PIPA will not stop piracy of intellectual property online.

If we do not speak out, how can we help our lawmakers decide?
**kmm

50 Jobs in 50 States, by Daniel Seddiqui (book review) – 1 year to find perfect job

Months of fruitless job-searching left USC grad Daniel exhausted and his parents unhappy that he’d had to move back home. But he decided to act on a seemingly wild idea to work in each of the 50 states, meeting their people as he tried out one of the jobs unique to each place. This Fun Friday feature is an autobiography that roves across America, in search of more than just a job.

You’ll want to read for yourself how he persevered in his dream, rising above his parents’ disapproval, the logistics of finding the right job in the right area during the right time, and the immense difficulties of funding travel all over the USA. Yes, Daniel wanted to do this challenge on his own terms, not bound to a corporate sponsor‘s restrictions on which jobs he could try or how many times he had to tout their product in his blog.

Along the way, he met more supportive people than naysayers, tried his hand at skills that he never knew existed, and learned more about himself than he ever imagined.

Coal miner? Did it. Amish woodworker? Satisfying work. Baseball scout? Lots of dreams and talent out there – like our roving pal, who shares the high points and lowest lows of his adventure with us, in a conversational way. I guess “Inspirational” should be Daniel’s new middle name!
**kmm

Book info: Fifty jobs in 50 states / Daniel Seddiqui. Berrett-Koehler, 2011 [author’s website] [publisher website] [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: After many interviews yield no job, Daniel decides to hit the road and work his way across the USA – one iconic job in each state – to find out what he truly wants to do with his life.

You’d think that good grades in college and a great resume would guarantee a job after graduation, but that’s not always true. But instead of giving into despair and taking a minimum-wage job, Daniel turns his back on the months-long, frustrating search for a position in economics and hatches the idea of traveling the United States to discover where he should really be and what career would use his talents best.

It took four months to set up his first short-term job and even longer to scrape together some funding to travel. His parents thought he was wasting his time; his on-again-off-again girlfriend thought he was crazy – Daniel knew that he had to do this to find his way in the work-world.

Rodeo announcer in South Dakota, corn farmer in Nebraska, landscape architect in New Mexico – he met helpful people, learned new skills, faced trials and setbacks. Meatpacker in Kansas winter (frozen fingers), bartender in New Orleans during Mardi Gras (lotsa kinds of crazy), peanut sheller in Georgia (allergic reaction) – Daniel never gave up.

Sharing his adventures through the media and his own blog, this young guy from California inspired many folks facing challenges and job losses to keep on trying. Enjoy this talking-to-your-buddy autobiographical travelogue through all 50 states as you root for Daniel to find his niche and to find someone to share his journey through life. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)