Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New Fall Novels

Even though it's the beginning of summer - not even July yet - we at Micawber's are buying our fall books from publishers. As we prop open the door to welcome visitors, we are thinking about what will sell as the leaves turn color and, later, when snow covers the branches.

It's exciting to see all the children's publishers' fall catalogs. They traditionally pull out some big books for this season, and it's no surprise. Fall leads into the holiday season, which is the biggest selling season for independent book stores like Micawber's.

I have been getting my ARCs in the mail. These Advance Reader Copies are what everyone will see on the shelves come September and October. Right now, I'm particularly excited about these four new novels:

Fire by Kristin Cashore (Dial - Oct. 2009)
This is a prequel (of sorts) to Cashore's earlier, spectacular novel Graceling (which comes out in paperback this fall.) You don't have to read one first because they can stand alone. But, I bet once you read one, you'll want to read the other, and fast!

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (Little, Brown - Dec. 2009)
I'll just say it's set in the South, it involves a boy, a new girl, a curse, and some very interesting family members. I read it and I predict it's going to be BIG this fall!

The Maze Runner by James Dashner (Delacorte - Oct. 2009)
When the book rep sold me this book, she said it gave her the same feeling she had when she first read The Book Thief. Not because of similar subject matter, but because of the magnitude and quality of the book. Author, Dashner, has described The Maze Runner as a modern Lord of the Flies. It promises to be a very compelling read!

The Blue Shoe by Roderick Townley (Knopf - Oct. 2009)
I admit, I love this book already just because of the subtitle and artwork. And seriously, what's not to love about Mary GrandPre's art and a subtile that reads "A Tale of Thievery, Villainy, Sorcery, and Shoes." Plus, the first printing will be in BLUE ink! Bring it on!

That's it for now, but look for more news soon on great fall picture books!

Friday, June 19, 2009


It's summertime in Minnesota. Finally. Of course, when summer actually shows up, it arrives full steam ahead. And I mean steam! It's been humid lately. Maybe in comparison to say, the Rain Forest, it's not so bad. But, 80's and humid feels pretty darn hot.

At the store, we have two air conditioners, but I hate window air conditioners. It always feels closed in and stuffy. (I get enough of that all winter.) I want the windows and doors wide open! Let in that air, even if it comes with a little wetness. It reminds us that we are alive. We can sweat! We can feel heat. Our skin contains moisture. No need for hand lotion for at least a couple months. So what if we need 2 showers a day to cool off. This is good! I know there are people who disagree with me, but when you have 7 months of winter, a little heat feels good. Enjoy it people. It won't last long.

My parents live "Up North" in Minnesota, almost in Canada, all year round. My father likes to say, "We have two seasons up here. Winter and Winter's Coming." Laugh all you want, but it's too close for my comfort.

So, what does a Minnesotan do on a long, hot summer day? Find a good spot in the shade, with a beverage of your choice and READ! Right now I'm reading ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE by Barbara Kingsolver. It's a very good read. And inspiring. I feel the urge to shop at the Farmer's Market and raise chickens in my backyard. I kid you not. Ask my poor husband. Every spring, I get a hankerin for some live furry or feathery thing. A couple years ago, it was for chickens. Cute, colorful, pet-like (I hear) and dang!, you get fresh eggs every day! But, still there are no chickens in my backyard. My husband REALLY didn't go for the idea. The main reason - chicken poop. He is such an urbanite. So, I have settled for my own little garden. It's nowhere the size of Barbara's, but it should produce some produce. By the end of the summer, I'll be eating a big, yummy salad from my own garden while reading under a tree. Ahhhh, summer.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Books and Baseball

Last Sunday I had a fun opportunity - I read my book at a Saint Paul Saints baseball game! The Saints have a program called The Reading Tree that happens at Sunday home games. A local children's author reads from his or her book and a ball player talks about the importance of reading. It's an all around good thing.

Sunday was a double header because of a rain out the night before. So the plan was for me to read between the games. We got there half way through the first game. If you haven't been to a Saints game, you really need to go sometime. In addition to a great game (Saints won) we also had fun watching Mudonna the mascot, the Nerd, Press Guy, the Lumberjack and of course, Slumhog Millionaire, the little pig who brings out balls to the umpire between innings. It was a lot of fun, if a little cloudy and cold that day.

When the game was almost over, I was led down to the field. It was fun to hear the announcer tell the crowd that Dara Dokas, a local children's author, was going to be reading her book, Muriel's Sweater. (Somehow "Red" was dropped from the title.) But he pronounced my name correctly!

We walked out onto the field and a small crowd of kids and parents followed. A ball player, Andrew Bennett, joined us. Andrew and I sat on chairs and I read my book. Then Andrew talked about why reading is important. He also said his favorite book growing up was The Lord of the Rings. And he said he has a lot of time to read on the team bus. Muriel, the duck puppet, made an appearance and then Andrew signed baseballs.

I know the kids were really there for the ball player, but hey, it was fun to read my book and see the game (for free). Plus, I got to meet Slumhog Millionaire (aka Freckles) the pig!