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Monday, July 19, 2010

Hooray for Justin! And Independent Bookstores!!!

This just in:

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at IndieBound.org, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:


Pray for Silence by Linda Castillo (Minotaur, $24.99, 9780312374983/0312374984). "In this sequel to Sworn to Silence, Police Chief Kate Burkholder is faced with the slaughter of an Amish family of seven. Her search for the killer takes her on a dark journey of discovery and uncovers a disturbing realm of violence and brutality. As before, Castillo keeps the pace quick, the story compelling, and her manner towards the Amish reverent."--Katherine Osborne, Kennebooks, Kennebunk, Me.

Blind Descent: The Quest to Discover the Deepest Place on Earth
by James M. Tabor (Random House, $26, 9781400067671/1400067677). "This thrilling true-life adventure involves two men, two caves, and enough terrifying hazards to capture any reader! Tabor takes that old adage that what goes up must come down and turns it over--what goes down does not necessarily always come back up. A mesmerizing and compelling read that is best taken on only in well lit and airy surroundings!"--Jerry DeLong, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Lyndhurst, Ohio.


The News Where You Are: A Novel by Catherine O'Flynn (Holt, $15, 9780805091809/0805091807). "Old people, old buildings, old friends--Frank Allcroft seems to be losing all of them. He is a pun-cracking television news anchor on the brink of a mid-life crisis but lucky enough to have a young daughter, Mo, who puts his life in perspective. An honest, funny look at family, friends, career and the memories we choose to cherish or leave behind."--Karen Briggs, Great Northern Books and Hobbies, Oscoda, Mich.

For Ages 9 to 12

Justin Case: School, Drool, and Other Daily Disasters by Rachel Vail, illustrated by Matthew Cordell (Feiwel & Friends, $16.99, 9780312532901/0312532903). "Poor Justin! He is a worrier. Robbers, tests, even earning Superstars in school are sources of stress. He tells his story in a series of short journal entries that follow his third grade school year from September through June. Readers will cheer--and laugh! Justin (Case) Krzeszewski is my new hero!"--Christopher Rose, Andover Bookstore, Andover, Mass.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bastille Day!

We're celebrating Bastille Day here chez moi -- because, well, why the heck not.

Sometimes, if we can't find a holiday and we are hard up for a party, we will celebrate Tuesday Afternoon.

However, today the book I am currently writing took a surprising, but very cool, turn. This is fantastic, of course, because it yanked me into a highly productive writing day (though as a result I am kind of scrunched up, with my shoulders ratcheted up to my earlobes). This is a good enough reason to party, in my opinion. (Or perhaps do some yoga?) But I do not need an excuse to celebrate today!

Bastille Day is an actual holiday, with a lovely (though historically questionable and of course horribly out-of-touch) command regarding food. My French may be a bit rusty, but I think I have got it -- so this is what I just made for dinner tonight.

Let them eat cupcakes! (But let them wait for frosting.)

Rachel Vail

Friday, July 9, 2010

Signed books!

Want a signed book?

You got it.

Click below to order one of the AVERY books -- or Sometimes I'm Bombaloo -- from my local bookstore, Bank Street Books. They'll let me know. I will dash over there that very day and sign the book just for you -- and they will mail it right out.


David Brooks is so annoying.

He wrote a column in today's New York Times that I should love, because it is all about how great books are, especially for kids. But I can't fully love it, because his attitude is so darn prissy and annoying -- exactly the attitude that turns so many kids off to books.

Here's the link to his column:


I love that researchers gave kids books -- and that the kids got to CHOOSE their 12 books, and that those kids showed real improvements in their test scores. Yay for them, and yay for books.

But contrary to what David Brooks seems to be saying, books aren't just good because they make you a better student. Or because they are somehow hierarchical. Or because a better mind than your own created them and you should just shut up and listen.

Books are interactive in most profound way: the reader's imagination completes the story created by the writer.

Books force us not to just shut up and listen but to imagine and wonder and question.

I get his point about the twitchy anarchy/lack of deep thought of the internet, and also the value in seeing oneself as someone who has books.

But books are also fun, even the classics, even the really hard and deep books. He makes them sound like drudgery to be endured if you want to climb some ladder. Ew.

Do you love books? Why?

Rachel Vail

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy Independence!

I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend.

I am. (This is the crazy plant in my garden in CT. Every year it gets bigger and crazier and more tropical. But no complaints from me; I love it.)

What a whirlwind! Saturday we went to the wedding of some very close friends in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. This is the dress I tried to get. The one I actually wore was similar, but looser. Also, I smiled while wearing mine.
My sons walked the bride down the aisle; the service was completely in Polish;and the day was just perfect in every way. We had spent all morning transforming our apartment into a honeymoon suite for the lovely couple to stay in this weekend -- I hope it was terrific for them, and that the Hershey's kisses I scattered all over the bed didn't melt during the day...
Then yesterday we went to Shakespeare & Co in Lenox, MA, for a reading of the Declaration of Independence (my boys got to read a bit!) and hanging out listening to music, drinking tall cool drinks, and then, at night of course, the traditional viewing of the fireworks (not actual fireworks, though. Instead a production of Richard III. Which was great.)

Today we canoed around the lake here in CT. Mmmm, heaven.

And, my favorite soldier, Zack J, got promoted to Sergeant on Friday! Hu-ah!!!!

Gonna chill for now, but first, two BRILLIANT-related things:

AS PROMISED -- I took the Avery quiz, and here is my result: I am most like... Allison!

Have you taken it yet? I highly recommend it. I was SO surprised to come out most like her, even though in some ways I guess it makes sense... Tell me your results in the comments below! The link is right there in the post below this.

Also -- just got word of a new review for BRILLIANT, this one from Bookchic! I met the great and hugely dedicated guy behind this site at BEA. Here's the link:

And the review is below.
What are you doing to celebrate Independence Day?

Rachel Vail

Brilliant by Rachel Vail
"Everything is going to be fine . . . .

Quinn Avery can handle change. It's just paint, right? Bright, blinding white paint covering her once dazzling red bedroom walls. Quinn knows she shouldn't be angry at her mom—she's doing what she must to sell the house—but still, Quinn is beyond mad, and she doesn't know what to do about it.

Until now, Quinn was doing a pretty good job at pretending to be her old self—calm and brilliant Avery daughter, responsible big sister to Allison and Phoebe, piano virtuoso, girl who makes everyone proud—but without the sanctuary of her room, a new, wild Quinn is emerging. Lying, sneaking out, partying, Quinn is practically asking to get caught. When Quinn adds kissing the wrong boys—including her sister's boyfriend and her own piano teacher—to her list of crimes, has she gone too far to save herself?"- summary from Amazon

I love how Rachel Vail did this trilogy; you get the same situation with different events in each book as it's told from each sister. There's the same family situation told over several months, I think. The timeline was a bit confusing for me as I thought it was going to be the same period of time told through each sister's perspective.

But aside from that, it's interesting to see how each sister views the other two, then to read how the outer appearance is different from the inner. In this one, Quinn is seen as the perfect oldest sister but reading from her point of view, you see that she's way more than that and wants to break out of the mold. It sounds cliche, but Vail makes it more complex and realistic. To me, it's just fantastic how she crafts each character, especially the sisters.

The book flew by for me because it was so interesting. The prose was full of humor, romance, reflective moments, and heated arguments. This trilogy is wonderful for those who love realistic fiction, which can be a bit hard to find these days.

FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.