Friday, August 19, 2011

50 Jobs in 50 States, by Daniel Seddiqui (nonfiction) - 1 year to find perfect job

Months of fruitless job-searching left USC grad Daniel exhausted and his parents unhappy that he'd had to move back home. But he decided to act on a seemingly wild idea to work in each of the 50 states, meeting their people as he tried out one of the jobs unique to each place. This Fun Friday feature is an autobiography that roves across America, in search of more than just a job.

You'll want to read for yourself how he persevered in his dream, rising above his parents' disapproval, the logistics of finding the right job in the right area during the right time, and the immense difficulties of funding travel all over the USA. Yes, Daniel wanted to do this challenge on his own terms, not bound to a corporate sponsor's restrictions on which jobs he could try or how many times he had to tout their product in his blog.

Along the way, he met more supportive people than naysayers, tried his hand at skills that he never knew existed, and learned more about himself than he ever imagined.

Coal miner? Did it. Amish woodworker? Satisfying work. Baseball scout? Lots of dreams and talent out there - like our roving pal, who shares the high points and lowest lows of his adventure with us, in a conversational way. I guess "Inspirational" should be Daniel's new middle name!

Book info: Fifty jobs in 50 states / Daniel Seddiqui. Berrett-Koehler, 2011 [author's website] [publisher website] [book trailer]

Recommendation: After many interviews yield no job, Daniel decides to hit the road and work his way across the USA – one iconic job in each state – to find out what he truly wants to do with his life.

You’d think that good grades in college and a great resume would guarantee a job after graduation, but that’s not always true. But instead of giving into despair and taking a minimum-wage job, Daniel turns his back on the months-long, frustrating search for a position in economics and hatches the idea of traveling the United States to discover where he should really be and what career would use his talents best.

It took four months to set up his first short-term job and even longer to scrape together some funding to travel. His parents thought he was wasting his time; his on-again-off-again girlfriend thought he was crazy – Daniel knew that he had to do this to find his way in the work-world.

Rodeo announcer in South Dakota, corn farmer in Nebraska, landscape architect in New Mexico – he met helpful people, learned new skills, faced trials and setbacks. Meatpacker in Kansas winter (frozen fingers), bartender in New Orleans during Mardi Gras (lotsa kinds of crazy), peanut sheller in Georgia (allergic reaction) – Daniel never gave up.

Sharing his adventures through the media and his own blog, this young guy from California inspired many folks facing challenges and job losses to keep on trying. Enjoy this talking-to-your-buddy autobiographical travelogue through all 50 states as you root for Daniel to find his niche and to find someone to share his journey through life. (One of 5,000 books recommended on Review copy courtesy of the publisher.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Almost True, by Keren David (fiction) - London gang searches for witness

For Ty, the present-day is all a lie, as he tries to stay alive in the Witness Protection Programme long enough to testify in a London gangland murder trial. Only his childhood memories are real...maybe.

His mum Nicky has gotten herself into a slight complication, there's a guy shot to death on the doorstep of their latest safe house, and even Ty's memories don't seem to be true anymore.

Bottling up his worry and anger, desperately yearning to reconnect with the one friend who understood him, Ty's impulsive actions may be the undoing of all the careful preparations made by the police and lawyers to finally bring down the ruthless London crime family.

This stunning sequel to When I Was Joe brings the gritty realities of life for less-privileged London teens into sharp focus while faithfully taking us into the careening thoughts of a teen brain pushed to the brink. You must read these two books - World Wednesday standouts!

Book info: Almost True / Keren David. Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2010. [author's blog] [publisher site]

Recommendation: Finding a dying man on his doorstep, Ty knew that the London gang had found his latest “safe place” – so much for the Witness Protection Programme keeping him and his mum Nicky out of harm’s way until he could testify at the murder trial.

Ty’s aunt snatches him out of the hands of the police, telling no one – not even Nicky – where she’s hiding him. And suddenly, he’s in the large home of the grandparents that he doesn’t even remember – the parents of his dad, who left him and Nicky when Ty was very small. Nothing about this makes sense to him – why have his grandparents let him and Nicky live in near-poverty when they are rich? After all these years away, is his dad really coming to see him?

The trauma and stress of leaving the school that knew him as popular Joe, where he finally had friends and was succeeding on his own, where no one knew his past – it’s just too much for Ty, and the nightmares about the murder return.

Will Ty’s memories keep playing tricks on him? If he can’t contact anyone outside, how will Clare at school know that he’s okay? How did the crime family gang find him and his mum in their third hiding place? Is Nicky safe somewhere now?

A contemporary story that just won’t let you go, Almost True is the sequel to When I Was Joe – read them in order, and hang on, as Ty stays one step ahead of the killers… we hope! (One of 5,000 books recommended on Review copy courtesy of the publisher.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Cascade, by Lisa T. Bergren (fiction) - time travel, romance, the Black Death

It's mysterious Monday (after time off for a wonderful Caribbean interlude last week at the International Association of School Librarianship conference in Kingston, UWI-Mona), and we're hurtling back to 14th century Italy with Gabi and Lia.

Have the teens convinced their rational archaeologist mother that they can truly travel into the past? Worry that time is moving faster in Marcello's world while she is in the present is causing Gabi true pain.

And consider the classic time traveler's paradox - if they do go back and stop the people of Castle Forelli from succumbing to the Black Plague, will that change history as we know it?

Romance, adventure, intrigue, and a trio of strong women make this second novel in the Rivers of Time Trilogy as good as the first book in the series, Waterfall. And the final volume, Torrent, will be released on September 1, 2011 - I can hardly wait!!

Book info: Cascade / Lisa T. Bergren. David C. Cook, 2011. [author's website] [publisher site] [book trailer]

Recommendation: Her heart belongs to Marcello - Gabi knows this now that she’s back in modern times and he is in 1342. But she and her sister Lia had to come back to find their mother – and find a way to keep the black plague from wiping out their friends in old Tuscany.

Their archaeologist mom can’t quite believe that her daughters have traveled to the 14th century and back; her scientific background demands proof. When the three Bettarini women visit the ancient tomb, Mom gets more than proof – she goes back with them!

Marcello’s betrothed has given him up for his older brother, who is finally recovering from his long illness; becoming Lady of Castle Forelli is a political move, of course. Free to express their affection at last, Gabi’s reunion with Marcello is interrupted by invaders from Castle Paratore.

The regional war between is still going strong, as the republics of Siena and Florence fight over the borderland castles. So the enemies of Castle Forelli would love to capture the Ladies Bettarini who are strong and wise and fearless in battle.

Intrigue, conflict, and the coming Black Plague – can the “She-Wolves of Siena” turn the tide? Will the troops of Florence break through the Sienese defenses to capture the capital? Will Gabi stay with Marcello in 1342, or will Lia and their mom try to draw her back to their own time?

This second book in the Rivers of Time series answers questions raised by Waterfall (#1 - blogged here July 26th) and leaves readers anticipating more intrigue and romance in Torrent (#3 - Sept 1, 2011 pub date). (One of 5,000 books recommended on Review copy courtesy of the publisher.