Books, David Perez, fiction, Fifty Shades of Gray, Heidi Durrow, Kevin Powers, Summer reads for adults, The Yellow Birds, Wow: A South Bronx Memoirito

Finding F Books


June has been my lucky month for books. Not only did my coastal town reverse its usual June Gloom but the four o’clock winds also abated for most of the month. This all made for some great outdoor reading weather. 

I’ve also had luck with finding fascinating, funny, and fearless books for a fraction of the cost: (yes, that F thing was on purpose and I’m tired of it now too). Let’s proceed.

First the Fascinating Read: The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi Durrow

Rachel, the daughter of a Danish mother and an African American G.I., becomes the sole survivor of a family tragedy. She does not remember much about what happened until later in the story, so I won’t spoil the ending.

As a young girl she is forced to move to a new city and largely African American community. With her light brown skin, blue eyes, and Danish upbringing she is the oddity among her peers. 

Rachel’s adjustment to the tragedy and her grief is heart-wrenching. Biracial identity, the mother daughter bond, the desire to fit in, and abandonment are major themes.    

The novel is the winner of the Bellwether Prize for best fiction as well as several other awards. Bought it for $10 and had it signed at a book reading by Heidi Durrow-she is one of the most gracious author I’ve met and gives a heck of a presentation.

The Funny: WOW! A South Bronx Memoirito of Boyhood and Catholic School by David Perez.  
  
Now this one was almost guaranteed to make me download onto my Kindle Fire. Latino in Catholic School and the South Bronx= Funny before I flipped the page. 

This is a memoir set in 1964. David Pérez is living in the Millbrook housing projects, about to be transferred to St. Luke’s Elementary School, where the Brothers of the Sacred Heart are about as scary as the baddest gangs. 

This “memoirito,” follows David trying his best to be cool in a neighborhood where being the smartest guy in school isn’t something to brag about. His trials and tribulations as he navigates through his ‘tests of manhood,’ altar boy experiences and his first date are laugh out loud funny.

Perez has a great way with detail, description, and dialogue. I was able to borrow this e-book from Amazon Lending Library, but I would have bought it for the 2.99 Kindle price if it hadn’t been available. 

The Fearless: The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers

“The war tried to kill us in the spring,” begins this breathtaking account of friendship and loss. In Al Tafar, Iraq, twenty-one-year old Private Bartle and eighteen-year-old Private Murphy cling to life as their platoon launches a bloody battle for the city.”

This book is due out on 9/11/12. A 20 page excerpt was in the free Book Expo America Buzz Books of the 30 top Fall 2012 titles. I was mesmerized from the first line to the last. Powers creates a setting that is both fearful and fearless.   The narrative is clean but descriptive of setting, emotive, and insightful. 

Powers  joined the army at the age of 17, later serving a year as a machine gunner in Mosul and Tal Afar, Iraq in 2004 and 2005. He is currently a Michener Fellow in Poetry at the University of Texas at Austin, where he will receive his M.F.A. in 2012. 

I can’t say I’ve ever read a book about the Iraq War but from what I’ve read I’ll definitely be waiting for this one, which I’m sure will become a classic. 

A F not read yet: Fifty Shades of Gray  

My sister and most of the world raves about this book. She just finished the first two of the trilogy and lent the first one to a girl friend who said she couldn’t understand all the hoopla and the book was boring, so she’s getting it back and lending it to me to see what I think. 

I’m not holding my breath for the book,  it received 2,500 1 star ratings and 3,000+ 5 star ratings. 

July started out beautifully over here in coastal Southern California, but today it’s overcast, 68 degrees and humid. Forecast is the same all week. Doesn’t really matter to me, I’ll read most anywhere. I hope to fit in 4 or 5 more books this month.(Using another letter in the alphabet).

Any recommendations? 
Amazon best sellers, Amazon Kindle, Books, E-books, fiction, GoodReads., Indie bookstores, Non-fiction, Summer reads for adults, Summer reads for children

Seven Ways to Build an Inexpensive Summer Reads list


                                                                   “Summertime and the living is easy…” 

Remember that 1935 Gershwin song from Porgy and Bess. Well the living may be easy but if you are a book lover summertime may be expensive. The prices for most traditionally published print books have climbed. E-books and the costs for download compared to print version is almost the same.

Amazon announced its ten best books of 2012 (as far as chosen by its book editors) and all ten on the list were from big-six publishers who set their own prices for the e-books. None was self-published.

Random House published most of the books and all are priced at $10.99 or above for the Kindle edition, a price underscored on the Amazon sell page that was “set by the publisher.” The prices range from $10.99 to $19.99. The average price on the list is $13.79. For many of the books on the list, the Kindle price is ranges from .99¢ to $6 cheaper than the print price.

If you’re like most booklovers, you will read 24+ books a year. More than that if you are an E-Book reader.

The average American reader comes in at 3-5 books annually. Pew Research found that the majority of print readers (54%) and readers of e-books (61%) prefer to purchase their own copies of these books. Bottom line:

                            Ave. price of book (13.79) x 24 books = $330.96 per year

                   Let’s break it down per quarter. Six books purchased for summer reads: 13.79 x 6= $82.74


I’m pinching pennies for a while (I have a huge trip of a lifetime coming up soon) so reading has to come cheaper for the next year.

Here are 7 ways to get some good inexpensive reads this summer:
  •  Only Indie every new book starts at $0. The first 15 downloads are free and every download after that is a penny more, up to a maximum of $7.98, a number chosen by the site’s founders in response to what they see as too-high e-book prices at other retailers. If a book isn’t downloaded for 24 hours, its price begins to slowly drop per an algorithm designed to take 100 days to bring the price back to $0.
  • Shakespeare series for students and general readers alike. 
  • e-Libro announced more than 48,000 Spanish-language e-books are available on millions of smart phones, tablets, and other devices using ebrary’s dedicated iOS and Android™ apps with Spanish language interfaces. They digitize more than 800 titles every month. 
  • Amazon’s Kindle Top 100-Best Sellers. There are loads of e-books under $9. If you haven’t gotten around to reading Hunger Games and trilogy they’re $5. Many more well reviewed (4 star+ with 50+ reviews) e-books at $2.99. OrAmazon’s Top 100 Free e-books.  I found 3 pretty interesting books on the list.
  • Good Reads has a recommendations site that has some great looking books.
  • Free sites  such as E-Book.net. 
  • Used books: Almost every independently owned bookstore has a shelf or more of gently read used books. For not so gently read try the thrift stores.
 I know I did not list going to the library or swapping books with friends (both good choices, but each have their downsides) as these are given ways to reduce costs. 

There may be more sites out there to get quality reads, so if you know any, please contribute your finds to the list. Maybe we can get to “10 Ways…”

Oh wait,  I didn’t list my favorite way to find good inexpensive reads:

Clean out the bookself and re-read a favorite or find the one you missed. 

Happy reading!


Alexander McCall Smith, Authors, Brandon Skyhorse, Jaime Becerra, Kathy Cano-Murillo, Matthew Munoz, Rebecca Skloot, Summer reads for adults, T. Soli

Toes in the Sand, Nose in a Book


This catchy byline is the title for Border’s summer book list. Now if we could just find the time to read the entire list and have the money to buy all the books. Since that’s not happening for most of us, let’s see what we can do with a shortage of time and money.
The following books are award winners, an Oprah pick, or on Amazon’s four and five starred review list. There are multi-cultural characters and settings that will take you from Bakersfield to Vietnam. Genres include adventure, biography, thriller, romance, and non-fiction. Best of all they are under $12 and two of them are available for e-reading devices.

Every night is Ladies Night by Michael Jaime Becerra. A humorous and poignant story collection by a writer who observes with great skill, leading him to portray ordinary scenes in the ongoing human drama. (Booklist)
What you see in the Dark by Matthew Munoz: In 1959, the Director (i.e., Alfred Hitchcock) arrives in Bakersfield, Calif., to film Psycho, along with the Actress (Janet Leigh). Providing counterpoint to the events surrounding the making of the iconic Hollywood film, including the search for a motel to serve as the exterior of the Bates Motel, is the story of locals Dan Watson and Teresa Garza, whose doomed love affair ends in murder. (Booklist)
Miss Scarlet’s School of Patternless Sewing by Kathy Cano-Murillo. The founder of popular http://www.craftychica.com pens her second Crafty Chica novel. Scarlet Santana has abandoned a promising engineering career to follow her passion for sewing. Cano-Murillo manages to extract much mirth from her cast of craftsters, each striving to transcend restrictive patterns in life and to defeat family expectations that are squelching self-expression. (Kirkus)

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. A fascinating story of medicine and family. Henrietta Lacks died from an aggressive cancer at the age of 30 in 1951. A sample of her cancerous tissue, taken without her consent, turned out to provide one of the holy grails of mid-century biology. (Amazon)
The Double Comfort Safari Club by Alexander McCall Smith. The new installment in Smith’s bestselling series finds Mma Ramotswe traveling to the north of Botswana to visit a safari lodge, where there have been several unexplained and troubling events–including the demise of one of the guests. (Amazon)
Madonna’s of Echo Park by Brandon Skyhorse. Echo Park, the LA neighborhood down the hill from Chavez Ravine, is the setting for this novel-in-stories—a vivid portrayal of the lives of Mexican Americans who live and work there. Skyhorse weaves his characters—migrant farm workers, gardeners, dishwashers, bus drivers, house cleaners, gang members—in and out of his stories in various time frames. (Booklist)
The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli. A unique debut novel that follows an American female combat photographer in the Vietnam War as she captures the wrenching chaos and finds herself torn 
between the love of two men.(Amazon)

There are tons of books out there for equal or less prices at swap.com, .99¢ Store, used book stores and for free (library). There is no excuse to relax and get your read on. So put your toes in the sand, your nose in a book, and don’t forget the sunblock.