Saturday, July 25, 2009

What I've Been Reading

Blood's A Rover
James Ellroy

This book isn't out until September, but I can't wait to tell you about it. What a completely crazy story. I mean, I won't even attempt to lay out the plot, which spans the 60s and 70s. But, J. Edgar Hoover, Richard Nixon, The Dominican Republic, Voodoo, the Mob, and some stolen emeralds all play a part. And it's jammed with James Ellroy's snappy, melt-your-face, prose. A delight, and a thrill. Look for it in September.

This one's another that isn't out for a bit, but it was so good. Dan Chaon is one sensitive writer. He gets his character, and lays them out in the best understated flashes. The story is about several different people and their search for identities. some authentic, and many others that are only temporary. Chaon takes the whole menace of identity theft and the Internet, and builds a terrific, fast paced and elegant story with it. I absolutely loved it.

Rabbit Run
hn Updike

This is the book I'm reading now. I haven't finished it, but it's one of the best ever. Of course, everyone says this. I think it was near the top of the New York Times best books of the past fifty years. Updike can write! It's about this schmuck going through an early midlife crisis. I think he's 28 or something. Anyway he thinks he's great, and he abandons his wife, who's a wreck. He's off his nut. Great stuff!

Michael Con

Connelley writes seriously hard-boiled stuff. This one's a newsroom procedural, in Los Angeles. A reporter chases his final story before he gets laid-off, and stumbles onto a killer that the police don't have a clue about. This book interfered with my work. I took some long breaks, if you know what I mean. Like Await your Reply, this has to do with the Internet and identity theft, adding to the creepiness. Don't wait for the paperback, get it today.

The Devil's Company

David Liss writes these historical mystery thrillers that center around economics. I know how that sounds,but they're fantastic. Full of historical tidbits, and somehow he ties his stories into current events. Like, this one takes on globalization, and consumerism, but instead of the GAP or Target, it's the East India Trading Co. Over that compelling mix, Liss lays down a bang-up plot with a pugilist protagonist who's very charming and honorable, like that. Good stuff!

Looking After Pigeon
Maud M

I adore this novel about five-year-old Pigeon searching for someone to take care of her in her dysfunctional family. It'll break your heart, and also make you laugh, a lot. And if your family, like mine, wasn't ideal, you'll find this one incredibly validating. Pigeon's self-absorbed and dismissive mother is truly one of the greatest characters I've come across in a long time.

Philip K. Dick

Philip K. Dick's books are one of the great pleasures in life, if you're a little off your nut, like me. They are always wild and brilliant, and VALIS is the wildest and the brilliantest I've read. It's like a who done it, but the protagonist, who's named Horselover Fat, go figure, is on the trail of God, who might be alien technology, or a being from the future, or a Russian spy satellite. This book is theology, and unforgiving in its analysis. And the kicker is, it's autobiographical.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Who you gonna call? Book Busters!

"If there's a book to read, in the neighborhood, who you gonna call? Book Busters!"

Special Announcement! After much heated debate, my new Middle Reader Book Club has voted on its official club name! We are now.... BOOK BUSTERS!!

Since last February, this newest in-store book club has been gathering club members from all over the Peninsula & proudly stands at 15 members strong! With free books, special raffle prizes & food at each group meeting, we're burning our way through our favorite Middle Reader picks at an astounding rate! We've already pre-selected some fantastic reading clear though December & can't wait to get our hands on some of these titles' upcoming sequels! For the next 5 months here are our upcoming reading selections....

For the month of August, we will be reading Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George! Creel, the heroine of Dragon Slippers is hardly a damsel-in-distress. After her aunt totes her out to the local dragon in desperation (with the hope that the local prince will rescue her from certain death and marry her), Creel refuses the haughty prince and finds friendship with the dragons, who set her on a journey to the center of the kingdom with a pretty pair of what only seem to be ordinary slippers. Along the way we discover Creel’s enormous talent at embroidery, and you can’t help but linger over the rich descriptions of her lovely tapestry-like gowns, which quickly make her the most sought-after dressmaker in the kingdom. But soon enough those mysterious slippers begin to wreak havoc, and it’s up to Creel to save the kingdom from disaster and defend the dragons from certain doom.

Our September reading selection is Radiant Darkness by Emily Whitman! Persephone lives in the most gorgeous place in the world. But her mother's a goddess, as overprotective as she is powerful. Paradise has become a trap. Just when Persephone feels there's no chance of escaping the life that's been planned for her, a mysterious stranger arrives. A stranger who promises something more—something dangerous and exciting—something that spurs Persephone to make a daring choice. A choice that could destroy all she's come to love, even the earth itself. In a land where a singing river can make you forget your very name, Persephone is forced to discover who—and what—she really is.

For the month of October, we will be reading George's Secret Key To The Universe by Lucy & Stephen Hawking! Stephen Hawking, author of the multi-million copy bestselling A Brief History of Time, and his daughter Lucy explain the universe to readers of all ages. George's parents, who have always been wary of technology, warn him about their new neighbors: Eric is a scientist and his daughter, Annie, seems to be following in his footsteps. But when George befriends them and Cosmos, their super-computer, he finds himself on a wildly fun adventure, while learning about physics, time, and the universe. With Cosmos's help, he can travel to other planets and a black hole. But what would happen if the wrong people got their hands on Cosmos? George, Annie, and Eric aren't about to find out, and what ensues is a funny adventure that clearly explains the mysteries of science.

Our November reading selection is Roar by Emma Clayton! Mika and Ellie live in a future behind a wall: Solid concrete topped with high-voltage razor wire and guarded by a battalion of Ghengis Borgs, it was built to keep out the animals, because animals carry the plague. At least that's what Ellie, who was kidnapped as a child, has always been taught. But when she comes to suspect the truth behind her captivity, she's ready to risk exposure to the elements and answer the call of the wild. Listen. Can you hear it? She's strapping on her headset, jump starting her Pod Fighter, and--with her capuchin monkey at her back--she's breaking out! With a refreshing blend of adventure & suspense akin to that within The Hunger Games & Artemis Fowl, this is the new series readers have been waiting for!

To finish out the year in December, we will be devouring the bestselling phenomenon The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins! Katnis is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used to be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called "The Hunger Games." The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat's sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place. So begins the shocking tale within this riveting new series!

See anything you're interested in reading? Bring your friends (ages 9-12) & meet my crew every 2nd Tuesday of the month at 6pm and see why we call ourselves "Book Busters!" Hit me up with an email at if you have any questions! See you next month Book Busters!

Psst! Since this is a registered book club, each month's reading selection is 15% off!


Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Super-ific Superhero!

Throughout the month of June, we challenged children of all ages to create drawings of their favorite "Superhero!" 6 year old Daniel Blum rose to the occasion! Daniel's superhero is not quite the stereotypical superhero either! His idea of a "Superhero" is a fantastic pink & green monster who's saving the city from the real villains: little blue aliens! Not all monsters have to be scary after all! On behalf of the entire staff at Palo Alto, I would like to congratulate this highly imaginative youngster for stealing the show! Thank you Daniel! Your creativity is an inspiration to all of us kids at heart!


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Beam me up, Scotty!

On July 20th of this year, Americans of all ages will be celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the historic moon landing. Bookstores far & wide will proudly display the newest and best of books published chronicling this prestigious moment in history! In honor of this star studded day, I wanted to share two of my own favorite space related children's books!

The first & newest of picture books I've added to my moon landing collection of stories is Look To the Stars by Buzz Aldrin. As one of a handful of astronauts to have walked on the moon, Buzz Aldrin has a unique perspective on space. He serves as an amazing guide as he introduces us to the pioneers of space travel. From Copernicus to the Wright brothers, from the Apollo program to dreams of future travel, he reminds us that mankind has always looked to the stars. Aldrin's informative, kid-friendly text is paired with beautifully detailed illustrations by renowned illustrator Wendell Minor. This book offers the perfect introduction to everything space-related, including the development of the first rockets, America's space race with Russia, details of the Apollo missions, and the space station. Aldrin and Minor collaborated on the bestselling Reaching for the Moon and now they reach beyond that book to give readers a concise look at the entire history of space exploration. Each spread provides a wonderful jumping-off point for young readers, and will no doubt inspire them to look to the stars themselves. Thinking of doing some early Christmas shopping? This is the "it" gift book of the year! *recommended reading for all ages*

One of my other favorite space adventuring picture books is Regards to the Man in the Moon by bestselling author, Ezra Jack Keats. When the other kids make fun of Louie and call his father “the junkman,” his dad explains that the so called junk he loves “can take you right out of this world”—with a little imagination. So Louie builds the spaceship Imagination I and blasts off into his own space odyssey. Reissued just in time for the 40th anniversary of the first lunar landing, this fantastical Keats adventure celebrates the power of imagination, with the help of some very creative friends! Even if it's been a while since you've journeyed though the spectacular worlds of Ezra Jack Keats, this is the book that will make you fall in love with him all over again! *recommended reading age 3-6*

So go ahead young astronauts , break out those telescopes & space boots! All of the thrilling wonders of space are right here, only a page away!

Happy Landings!


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Fabulous Fall

This fall this is shaping up to be a great one for new books! I've been busily reading all the advance copies I can get my hands on, and here are a smattering of my favorites coming out soon (so far):

  1. The title I am most excited about is Await Your Reply, by Dan Chaon (due out August 1st). I probably never would have noticed it in our big stack of advance copies, but at the urging of our Random House rep, I read it last weekend. I am so glad I did! This is an amazing book, by a wonderful writer. There are 3 storylines, each about 2 people, seemingly unconnected. Each storyline is fascinating in itself, but when they all come together (which I wasn't sure was going to happen), you will be astounded. This book comes out on August 25th, and is sure to be one our top-sellers this fall (if I have anything to say about it!).
  2. Next up, coming out a month later (September 22nd), is Year of the Flood, by master poet and writer extraordinaire Margaret Atwood. This is a companion novel to her 2004 book Oryx & Crake, both satirical and dystopian views of a future that could easily come to be.
  3. Coming out later in the year (December) is The Kingdom of Ohio, by Matthew Flaming. This is a fantastical tale set at the turn of the last century, concerning a young woman who mysteriously appears in New York City, and how her life intersects with Peter Force, a subway worker (as in, he's helping to excavate the tunnels). Throw in guest appearances by Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, & J.P Morgan, and the result is a riveting story about the mythical (or is it?), little known, Kingdom of Ohio.
  4. Fire, by Kristin Cashore, is the eagerly anticipated prequel to the bestselling YA novel Graceling, which is a favorite of many of us on staff. Fire (due October 1st) is the eponymous story of a young woman who is a "human monster", ("monster" being the term given to animals and people who possess brilliant plumage/hair/fur and great physical beauty, as well as some unusual mental powers). Fire is the last human monster, and as her father was a monster in every (bad) sense of the word, she is determined to use her powers for good, or not at all. A wonderful story all on its own, you needn't have read Graceling (which comes out in paperback on September 7th) to understand this book (but you really should read it, because it's AWESOME). Also, read Kristin's blog, because it's charming and witty and wonderful. And also again, we've just received word that she's coming here on October 8th to do a reading and signing!!
  5. Coming on September 17th is David Byrne's new book, Bicycle Diaries, in which he writes about some of the major world cities which he's viewed (over the last 30 years) from a bicycle. Witty and entertaining, and also thought-provoking!
Happy Reading!


Thursday, July 2, 2009

It's like Christmas in July!

InnVision, a supportive services center for families on the Peninsula, and Books Inc. Palo Alto are proud to be sponsoring our very first book drive for the Opportunity Center in Palo Alto, a weekly assistance program for adults & children in need, during the entire month of July. Beginning July 1st, there will be a Giving Tree in the Children's Section of our store & a donation barrel at the front door so customers can buy & give new or like-new children's books to kids of all ages! It's easy! All you have to do is pick a red construction paper apple from our Children's Giving Tree with the child's age, gender and interests written on it & choose a gift for that particular child! Or choose any book of your liking for the Opportunity Center's phenomenal after school program. The center's after school program serves between eight and twelve children throughout the year, ranging from five to twelve years of age. What's summer without a really good book? If you have any questions about this delicious event, please contact us at the store!

Have a safe & happy summer!