Monday, April 21, 2014

Still at Your Door

Still at Your Door: A Fictional Memoir by Emma Eden Ramos
Genre: YA/Contemporary
Publisher: Writers AMuse Me Publishing
Published: February 22nd 2014
YA - Sabrina "Bri" Gibbons has only a few short minutes to pack her things and help her sisters pack theirs before running with their mother to the bus that will whisk them away from Butler, Pennsylvania, an abusive relationship, and a secret that none of them wish to acknowledge.  She was not prepared, though, for her mother to drop them on the streets of New York with the promise that she would be right back.  Haunted by the sight of her mother running back to the cab, Bri, with Missy and Grace in tow, settles in with her grandparents.  Thoughts of her present and her future collide with memories of her past, her dead father, and her mother's bizarre episodes.  She watches her sisters struggle with school and acceptance, all the while knowing the lack of any sense of security will make it impossible for them to carry on as 'normal' children.  She finally lets her guard down enough to allow someone else in and sees a faint glimmer that her dreams might be attainable.  Disaster strikes again, this time targeting her sister.  Is it possible for Bri to find that balance between her dreams and her families realities?
Emma Eden Ramos is a writer and student from New York City.  Her middle grade novella, The Realm of the Lost, was recently published by MuseltUp Publishing.  Her short stories have appeared in Stories for Children Magazine, The Storyteller Tymes, BlazeVOX Journal, and other journals.  Ramos' novelette, Where the Children Play, is included in Resilience: Stories, Poems, Essays, Words for LGBT Teens, edited by Eric Nguyen.  Three Women: A Poetic Triptych and Selected Poems (Heavy Hands Ink 2011), Ramos' first poetry chapbook was shortlisted for the 2011 Independent Literary Award in Poetry.  Emma studies Psychology at Marymount Manhattan College. When she isn't writing or studying Emma can usually be found drinking green tea and reading on her Kindle.
Twitter:  @emmaedenramos
I hold tight to my memories of the solid years.  Each one is a crystal vase filled to the brim with brightly colored petals.  Summer, '99: Missy is five, I'm six.  We're vacationing at Virginia Beach with Mom and Dad.  Mom wears a black one-piece, a white sun hat and no sunscreen.  Her lanky, bronzed legs shimmer under the fiery rays, but it's all well and good.  "Gypsy skin," she explains, lathering up my little sister.  "You and I have it."  She winks at me.  "Missy here's more like Daddy."  In front of us.  Dad talks to a blonde boy with a surfboard.  He turns to us and beckons.  I jump to my feet, eager to hit the waves.  "Sabrina."  Mom presses her leathery palms against my cheeks.  "Bri-bear."  She kisses my nose.  "Go on."  I grab Missy's hand and we scamper toward the great salt pond, ready for Dad to scoop us up and wade us through.
Another summer, many years later.  Missy and I come across what looks like a secret stash of sea glass.  We collect the emerald green fragments just as a mother-sized wave unfurls to scoop them back up.  The edges have been smoothed over, calmed.  I slide my index finger across one side of the largest piece.  Missy stands next to me, peering out toward the horizon.  I turn to her, the glass held tightly in my fist.  Before I can begin, she says, "Water life is easier."
"Huh?" I stare down at the rushing waves.  A thick clump of seaweed tickles my ankle. 
 Missy seizes a shard from her stash and flings it.  The water swallows the glass whole.  There's no resistance on either side.  "It wasn't ready." She shakes her head.
"What does that mean?" I ask.  "How is water life easier?"
"I don't know.  I go in jagged.  You're jagged when you go in but smooth when you come out."
Trying to understand, I scrutinize my sister's profile.  I recognize our mother in her pronounced cheekbones, her long black lashes.
"But not us."  Missy speaks to the open water.  I just happen to be standing by.  "We come in soft, without edges.  Those come later."
"You mean we get jagged with age?"
"Yes."  Missy's eyes grow big.  She cocks her head to one side, then turns to meet my gaze.  "That's what happens to us."
Ten Things You Didn't Know About the Author by Books for Birds
1. She speaks French
2. She loves The Velvet Underground
3. Her favorite city is Dublin
4. She hopes to make it to Finland in the next year
5. She is of Polish, Mexican and German descent
6. Her favorite food is Mexican food
7. She is a chai tea fanatic
8. She loves Alfred Hitchcock films
9. She hates shopping for clothes
10. She collects postcards



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Screaming Divas

Screaming Divas by Suzanne Kamata
Publication Date May 18, 2014
Publisher Merit Press
Pages 208
Genre YA Contemporary

Banes and Noble:
The Book Depository:

At sixteen, Trudy Baxter is tired of her debutante mom, her deadbeat dad, and her standing reservation at the juvenile detention center.  Changing her name to Trudy Sin, she cranks up her major chops as a singer and starts a band, gathering around her other girls ill at ease in their own lives.  Cassie Haywood, would-have-been beauty queen, was scared in an accident in which her alcoholic mom was killed.  But she can still sing and play her guitar, even though she seek way too much relief from the pain in her body and her heart through drugs, and way too much relief from loneliness through casual sex.  Still it's Cassie who hears former child prodigy Harumi Ykokyami playing in a punk band at a party, and enlisted her, outraging Harumi's overbearing first-generation Japanese parents.  The  fourth member is Easter Shealy, who joins as a drummer in order to be close to Cassie-the-long-time object of her unrequited love-and Harumi, her estranged childhood friend.  Together, they are Screaming Divas, and they're quickly swept up as a local sensation.  Then, just as they are about to achieve their rock-girl dreams, a tragedy strikes.

Back in the day, Suzanne Kamata spent a lot of time hanging out in a club in Columbia, South Carolina, much like the one in Screaming Divas (The beat goes on...) She later wrote about musicians for The State newspaper, The Japan Times, and other publications.  Now, she mostly writes novels.  In her free time, she enjoys searching for the perfect fake fur leopard-print coat and listening to the Japanese all-girl band Chatmonchy.  Her YA debut, Gadget Girl: The Art of Being Invisible was named the 2013-2014 APALA YA Honor Book and Grand Prize Winner of the Paris Book Festival.  For More Info, Visit or follow her on Twitter @shikokusue

From The Screaming Divas
By Suzanne Kamata
Trudy got her hands on a guitar.  Actually, it was her father's guitar, the one he'd plays in his band.  The instrument had a history of smoky bars, fields of wild flowers, park benches, greyhound buses.  It had been all over the place, probably even Dahomey.
She was going to ask to borrow it, but when she dropped by Jacks apartment, he wasn't home.  Trudy decided to cart the guitar off anyhow.  He never played it any more and besids, he might say no if she asked him to loan it to her.  He didn't trust her so much since all the trouble with Adam.
She'd practice and innovate and turn herself into a brilliant performer.  And then she'd start a band.  It would be the most exciting thing to hit town since General Sherman.  Yeah, these were the good thoughts.
By day, she practiced.  By night, she hung out at The Cave, playing records or slamming on the dance floor.  During breaks, she looked for musicians in the Pink Room.
"Hey, Maddy.  I'm starting a band.  Wanna join up?"
Her roommate Madeline tossed a lock of black hair out of her eyes.  "You must be out of your mind."
Trudy shrugged.  She asked Jeff, the David Bowie lookalike.  She even asked Johnny Fad.  People laughed, blew smoke in her face.  Sometimes they just turned away as if they hadn't heard her at all.
Why did everyone treat her proposition like some sort of joke?  She was as serious as she'd ever been.  The more she practiced, the more she knew that her dreams lay in music.  She closed her eyes and saw herself on the stage, crooning into a mike while a huge crowd lit and lifted their Bics in tribute.
When people were drinking and dancing, they weren't in the mood for serious talk.  She had to find another way to put her band together.
Trudy made a flyer with scissors and magazines and Elmer's glue.  When she was finally satisfied with her work, she rode her housemate's rickety bicycle to Kinko's and made a hundred copies.  Then she ran around Five Points with a staple gun and plastered them to every telephone pole in sight.  When she was finished, she went back to the apartment, picked up her guitar, and waited for the phone to ring. 
"Hey, what's this?" Madeline barged into her room just after midnight, smelling of booze and smoke.  She waved one of Trudy's flyers in the air between them.
"I'm starting a band," Trudy said.  "I told you already."
Madeline shrugged. "Yeah, whatever. I wish you hadn't put our phone number down though.  We'll get half a million calls from creeps."
Trudy didn't answer.  Why was Madeline being such a butch?  She looked really cool with her tattooed shoulder and asymmetrical haircut, but sometimes she could be totally square.
"I'll get my dad to buy us an answering machine, " Trudy said. "That way we can screen calls."
Madeline nodded, seemingly consoled, and wandered off to her room.
Trudy giggled softly.  Jack would never fork out cash for something like that, but the lie had worked.
The first call came at noon the next day.
"Hey, I'm calling about the band," a gravelly voice said.
"What do you play?"
"Bass, drums, whatever.  I'm versatile. Hey wait.  You sound really familiar.  What's your name?"
:"Trudy Sin."
"Hey, I know you.  Your that firestarter."  The line went dead.
Later, Southern Bell called about a over due phone bill.  The manager at Yesterday's, where Madeline waited tables, called asking Madeline to report to work early.  Someone dialed a wrong number.
Where were all the budding musicians, the soulmates in tune with her dreams? Trudy set aside her guitar and put on some music.  She threw on the bed and let Patti Smith comfort her.
How was she ever going to start a band?
Maybe She could go solo-set up a drum machine and play guitar herself.  She wracked her brain trying to come u with someone who'd gotten famous without back-up.  Her mind went blank.
Two night later, when she came home from a trip to the Quick Mart down the street, Madeline greeted her with, "You got a phone call.  Someone wants to join your band."
"Great. Who?"  She pictures a pale, black-haired guy in leather, a guitar strapped across his hard-muscled body.
"I dunno. She said she'd call back."
She?  Well, okay.  This could be good.  A girl group.  Yeah, that's the ticket. They's be like the Supremes with instruments.  The Gogo's with attitude.  It would be a good gimmick, something to get them started while they developed as a band.
Top Ten Movies for Screaming Divas
I made this list of movies about musicians and other artsy types that I have loved
1. Sid & Nancy (A classic film of the punk scene)
2.  Despertly Seeking Susan (Not exactly about musicians, but it has great alternative 80's vibe, Madonna's film debut)
3.  Singles (Love this film about grunge scene in the pacific northwest)
4.  Almost Famous (Also a favorite, about a aspiring music journalist)
5.  24 Hour Party People (Tragicomic film about the Manchester music scene and Joy Division)
6.  The Punk Singer (A documentary about Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre)
7.  The Runaways  (Kristen Stewart as Joan Jett!)
8.  Basquiat(Tragic artist in the 80's)
9. The Commitments (A rock band in Ireland!)
10.  Dreamgirls

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Kaleidoscope Me

Four Months Ago
I couldn’t sleep. My eyes were heavy and stiff like papier-mâché, but my mind was going in a million different directions, or at least one direction, or maybe a million different directions that always
ended with one thought, one of those things anyway. I sighed and rolled to the edge of my bed, trying to reach underneath without having to get up, but my fingers could only reach about an inch. I pushed the covers back and slid to my knees next to the bed, leaning over far enough to press my cheek to the carpet and peer under the bed.
I used to make Mom do this every night when I was four, I thought, checking for monsters, but I stuck my hand into the dark underneath, feeling for what I wanted, pushing aside old clothes and something else that felt like one of Trenton’s baseballs―or maybe an old orange―until my hand brushed the dulled corner of an old shoebox. I pulled it out and tucked it under my arm quickly sliding back under the warmth of the covers. I took the lid off the box and took a deep breath of the faint smell of dust and cheap plastic.
I didn’t need to turn the light on to know what was in the box. An old necklace Dad had bought me for Christmas one year so long ago that the silver chain was yellowing. The cardboard kaleidoscope Aunt Nadine had given me. Trinkets that weren’t really worth anything except for the memories they had. I reached my hand inside and carefully felt through the items until I found the smooth plastic. I pulled it out and set the shoebox on the nightstand.
I could picture every detail of the walkie-talkie even in the dark. The faded pink box, the big purple antenna, the chipped battery cover from accidentally dropping it. I reached for the ridged knob and turned it on, listening to the cackle of white noise as a tear slipped down my cheek.
Mom had given this to me when she was in the hospital to have Trenton, so I could talk to her if I missed her. My shoulders started shaking with sobs as I listened to the sound of emptiness.
“Mom?” I whispered into the box, clutching the button at the side. “I miss you.” I drew in a deep breath hoping to stop the shudders in my shoulders. “I really, really need to talk to you.”
“Aunt Nadine’s moved in with us, but she’s not okay. She forgets things sometimes, and I’m worried.” I let go of the button, listening to the white noise before clutching the button again. “I’m worried that she’s going to forget something and hurt Trenton or me. Or,” I took another deep breath to try and calm my voice. “That she’ll have to leave us too, and then I won’t be just missing you, but her too.”
My words started coming faster and faster. “And Dad, he stays at work most of the time. So much, that I’m not sure he knows that something is wrong with Aunt Nadine, or that I’m sad or that Trenton is scared. And he’s not taking us to church either, because it hurts so much to go there and think of you.” One of my sobs turned into a gasp. “That’s where you married him, isn’t it? At that
church? But it shouldn’t matter, he should still come just for me and Trenton, even if it makes him sad.” I felt selfish saying it, but the words just kept coming, uncensored.
“And half the time Ellie and Avery don’t even know what to say to me. And Ellie doesn’t even know Aunt Nadine is staying with us. I, I was afraid of what she’d think, even though I know you always said it never matters what other people think. I just couldn’t tell her, and now I can’t really tell her that I lied to her either.”
“I miss you Mom. I really, really miss you. I want you here so that I can talk to you, so that I can tell you everything and then you can give me a hug and tell me that everything is going to be okay, tell me what I should do.” The words had to stop, I was crying so hard, I relaxed my hand, releasing the button, and let my arm fall to my pillow, listening to the crackle of the walkie talkie as I cried myself to sleep.

This book is about a teenage girl, Jaydn, who is very similar to me.  Jaydn and I would have been very good friends I believe, we even both lost someone very close, and had to deal with Alzheimer’s in a relative.  You see Jaydn’s mother dies and her great aunt moves in to help her dad with her and her younger brother Trenton.  But Jaydn’s dad refuses to believe that Aunt Nadine’s Alzheimer’s is bad as Jaydn keeps trying to tell him, until the day Aunt Nadine and Trenton go missing in a blizzard.  Can Jaydn in her different way of seeing things help find the two in time?  After all Aunt Nadine is always saying that they think alike. Can Jaydn also help her dad see what he has been missing all along?

This book is great.  It will be a positive addition to any library shelf.  It is a wonderful book for reluctant readers, those with trouble reading, and people looking for a wonderful story about a girl who thinks differently but learns to use it to her advantage.  Many will be able to relate to Jaydn in ways not found in any other book available at this time, I wish it had been around, well let’s just say a few years back for a younger me.


Link to purchase:

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Seven Wonders Book 3- The Tomb of Shadows

Awesome as ever!!!  Peter Lerangis has yet another hit with his third installment of the Seven Wonders series, The Tomb of Shadows.  And I am not just saying that because he is the one that got me started doing this blog.  He would want nothing more than for me to be totally honest about his book, right?

The Tomb of Shadows has us back with Jack the tailor, Cass the sailor, Aly the tinker, (Marco the soldier defected to the Massa), joining up with Jack’s dad to hunt for more loculi in hopes of seeing their fifteenth birthdays before the dreaded affects of the G7W gene kills them, like all the other selects before them.  This time they not only have to fight the ever present pesky Massa, but also the zombies of the Great Mausoleum at Halicarnassus in Turkey.  In this fast paced book you see the Karai Institute home base get attacked when it should have never been found, a plane crash, puzzles solved, and was the big eye from the last book really Jack’s mom back from the grave, and who of our hero’s crew goes to the grave in this book?  Some questions get answered, and more questions asked.

This is an awesome book it keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole time.  It is a definite can’t put it down, I read past my bedtime kind of book.  Oh and if you haven’t started the series it is not too late, you won’t regret it.  It is so fun and fast paced with action even your reluctant readers will find it a great read.