Blogs

So ok, we're probably pretty biased because the proprieter of A Girl With Books is one of OUR girls... Her name is Connie and she works at our Opera Plaza store in San Francisco. Connie's an avid reader (hello, she works in a bookstore) and now that she's graduated SFSU (CONGRATULATIONS, CONNIE!) she's going to have ever more time to spend on her awesome blog. Below, is the review she wrote of The Mockingbirds by local author (and NYMBC guest) Daisy Whitney.

The Mockingbirds opens with Alex waking up in an unknown person's bed with no memory of the night before. She had sex, but she never remembers consenting. As fragments of the night comes back, Alex realizes that she been raped. What follows is an exceptional debut book about a young girl's stand for justice. Complex and authentic, Whitney weaves a story that's part courtroom drama and part emotional journey as Alex struggles to find her self and her voice in the aftermath of her rape.

I really love this book. It was one of my favorite debut novels of 2010. The characters and plot were so skillfully crafted that this is an impressive story that I would advocate every teen and their parent read this book. Alex's characterization felt very spot-on and realistic as she struggles with her feelings of doubt, guilt, shame, etc. as she attempts to feel 'normal' again. Her vulnerability and strength as she confronts her demons and her rapist definitely got me rooting for her. I also enjoyed the strong secondary female characters Whitney writes. Maia, Amy, T.S., etc. were all incredible characters as they help support Alex through her healing process. My internal feminist was definitely jumping up and down as these characters appeared on the page. Additionally, Whitney does not fall into the trap of characterizing all the boys as one-dimensional stereotypes. There were the jerks (Carter), but she also has Jones and Martin, boys who have a strong moral code and different ideas on how to approach justice.

One major aspect that I notice in many reviews is the commentary that Carter did not get a fitting enough punishment for his crime. That date rape is something that need to be address by the public legal system and that he should be given time in prison, etc.. I don't disagree with that statement. Rape is a serious issue and I completely agree that Carter should be given a harsher sentence, but given the confines of the premise, the punishment the Mockingbirds give for the guilt sentence is as far as their power can go. Because the Mockingbirds is a student-run society, anything harsher is out of their reach. The other comments I notice is about the version of justice that the Mockingbirds use on Carter. I can understand their point, but my counterpoint is that since the Mockingbirds is not a formal court of justice, they have to use other avenues to ensure that the accuse show up for the case and accept their punishment if found guilty. If they did not use ways to compel the accused to show up, how will they try the case or punish someone, the Mockingbirds will be an ineffective group. And it is very checks and balance as attest by Alex when she signed the contract. If Alex was found lying, she'll have to accept punishment.

"Sexual assault is against the standards to which Themis students hold themselves. Sexual assault is sexual contact (not just intercourse) where one of the parties has not given or cannot give active verbal consent, i.e., uttered a clear "yes" to the action. If a person does not say "no" that does not mean he or she said "yes." Silence does not equal consent. Silence could mean fear, confusion, inebriation. The only thing that means yes is yes. A lack of yes is a no."

This quote above is one of the most candid messages I read about rape in a YA book and one of the best messages in this book. Especially today, where society still stigmatize women for not being a virgin or acting morally (getting drunk or high, dressing provactively, etc.). And if they do act unmoral, they are therefore "asking for it." The Mockingbirds empowers women with its strong message that rape isn't simply the act of sexual intercourse and that being drunk or expressing sexuality through clothes or words is not an agreement to sex. That silence does not equal consent. And a lack of yes is a no. This message alone makes The Mockingbirds a must-read for anybody and everybody, but combined with the awesome characters and plot, its not only empowering, but page-turning as well.
Middle grade author, Lewis Buzbee is a true bibliophile. He's been a bookseller, a sales representative for Chronicle books, a life-long reader and now he's an author! And thank goodness for that, because his books are awesome; they're books about books for people who love books and people who need a reason to start loving them. So, obviously, we love him. His latest novel, The Haunting of Charles Dickens, is an Edgar Award honoree, the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association Children's Book of the Year, a Smithsonian Notable Book for Children and the Winner of the California Library Association's John and Patricia Beatty Award. Oh, and also he's local. And awesome. In the video below, he shows us The Haunting in its manuscript form.

Diana graduated from UCLA with a masters in library and information sciences, and now she can help you shop for children's books at Books Inc. in Mountain View! That is, when she's not working at the library, or teaching community college online library research classes, or pouring wine at the Cooper Garron Vineyard. Her favorite food is apple pie and her favorite muppet is Fozzie Bear, and her favorite book store is Books Inc. Obviously.

That's right; Part 8. Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 9 of the short story Nine Lessons from a Wyverary Governesse are strewn about the internet in a literary treasure hunt. Each part is exclusive to those who host it, and the author has made the super cool decision to only post parts of her story on websites for independent bookstores and public libraries! You can read the introduction to this here, and check out your chance to meet the author, Cat Valente at our Mountain View store here!

8. On Science in Fairyland

How do you feel about Science, children?

I hope you are on good terms with it, that you have it over to tea at least every other week. Science is an excellent conversationalist, and much prized in Fairyland. In Pandemonium, the capital of all our merry land, Scientists have a tower all to themselves, called Groangyre. There they can have tea as much as they like while inventing and studying marvelous things like Moving Pictures, Electricks, the Carriageless Horse, Blueology, Lunar Travel, the Hyper Toadstool Transfer Protocol (by which you can leave quite long messages with the mushrooms and they will carry them anywhere you please via underground fungal network), and the Three Q’s: Quiet Physicks, Questing Physicks, Queer Physicks (these being the study of the Unseen and Unheard, the Mechanicks of Narrative and People Who Can’t Leave Well Enough Alone, and Things What Make No Good Sense).

I think you’ll agree all of that sounds quite good. 

The Prioress of Groangyre Tower is Belinda Cabbage, Empress of the White Coats, Quarterback of the Municipal Quantumball Team and Champion Crossword Solver. She causes most of the explosions you’ll see blossoming out of the tower on the hour, nice and regular. I mention her because she has been very occasionally known to take on apprentices. Sometimes these apprentices do very well, like Dr. Erasmus Jane Fallow, one of our premier alchemists. Sometimes they merely break local QB records and in the process cause two bakeries and a letterpress shoppe to vanish, as in the case of the famous and unfortunate Simon Snowpea, who can’t get a loaf of bread to save his life these days.

The line for the apprenticeship forms a charming spring ritual, stretching form Pandemonium all the way to her sister city, Sticks. So if you feel you know your sums and long division, know how to work a lilyscope, and are proof against fire, acid, boiling, and spells of disintegration, I suggest you line up early.

Come celebrate this awesome new book with Susane Colasanti herself at our next event! Information here.

Pure brilliance. Meet Maggie at the THIS IS TEEN event June 13th at our Opera Plaza store! And please, bring your puppets.

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