Friday, January 11, 2013

Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy, by Bil Wright (fiction) - chase the dream, ignore the haters

book cover of Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy by Bil Wright published by Simon Schuster
We all want to be respected,
and fabulous.

Carlos is already completely fabulous, a fabulous makeup artist at sixteen. He just has to show the world that a Latino guy from the Lower East Side can do perfect makeup on anyone, anywhere - including the fanciest department store in New York City.

Be sure to meet this fabulous guy with a not-so-fabulous family life, the perfect touch with his own makeup, and his ever-positive attitude soon. Just thinking about Carlos and his drive to succeed makes me smile!


Book info: Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy / Bil Wright. Simon & Schuster, 2011 hardback, 2012 paperback.  [author's website] [publisher site] [book trailer]

My Recommendation: Carlos wants one thing, and one thing only: to be the most-respected makeup artist anywhere.

Oh, and for the cute guy in his high school class to ask him out, and for Mama to have a decent job that doesn’t wear her down, and for his sister to stay away from that loser Danny at work.

When he hears that the FeatureFace cosmetics counter at Macy’s is hiring, Carlos goes into overdrive: hiring cute rocker Gleason to photograph the  models wearing his makeup designs, crafting the perfect job application, watching videos of interview tips, and sweet-talking Rosaria into coming to the interview to be his live model. Of course, the manager will want to see Carlos apply makeup in person – everyone knows that!

At school all day, working at the child care center till late evening, Carlos keeps his cellphone close by, waiting for the call from FeatureFace to set up his interview, to let him prove his fabulous makeup skills, to start on his way to the top!

Carlos proves how well he handles makeup, chatting his way through the demonstration to explain his techniques, so snooty manager Valentino just has to hire him – part-time, since he’s only 16 – and FeatureFace cosmetics has a new star.

Of course, there are still a few problems in life, like Mama’s precarious job situation, that rotten Danny trying to rough up Rosaria if she ever gets the guts to leave him, Soraya screening his calls (how could that problem with the borrowed boots really be his fault?), and the cute guy at school not flirting with him anymore.

Can Carlos really balance work, school, and family at 16?
As his schedule loads up, will his friends let him down?
Will Valentino’s disdain for his talents ever give way to respect?

Ready to take on the world, Carlos Duarte is fabulous indeed. (One of 6,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

What Happens Next, by Colleen Clayton (fiction) - getting past rape, finding redemption

book cover of What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton published by Poppy Books
Ski trip!
Fresh snow, new guys, curfew broken.
Now Sid is broken, too.

But she won't let anyone help her past the attack, won't even tell anyone what happened. The coping mechanisms that she's chosen aren't helping her cope too well either.

What can a slacker like Corey teach this former honor student about trust or friendship or caring what happens...

Post this info where people can find it: National Sexual Assault Hotline | 1.800.656.HOPE | Free. Confidential. 24/7. or search for a local crisis center at

Grab this debut novel today at your local library or independent bookstore and cheer for Sid as she works past her outrage to a better future. The author gives us Sid's playlist, too - you can tell a lot about someone by the music they choose.

Book info: What Happens Next / Colleen Clayton. Poppy/Little Brown, 2012. [author's website] [publisher site]

My Recommendation: Meeting cool college guy Dax was the best thing about the high school ski trip for Cassidy, until he convinced her to sneak out after curfew to a night she cannot remember.

Back home, Sid’s grades slide, her single-parent mom can’t figure out what’s wrong, her friends eventually give up trying to jolly her back to normal. Sid drops her advanced classes and drifts into “A/V Club” instead. Everyone knows that A/V Club is just Corey-the-Stoner hanging out in the DVD storage room until someone needs a video, so he won’t try to break through Sid’s new protective shell to help her get over things.

Except that he manages to say things that make her think, nudge her to try feeling good about herself again by exercising, make her wonder why she can’t remember anything about being with Dax – and he has no clue that he’s doing it. Nice that he always smells like the bakery where he works before school, that he brings new pastries for her to taste-test, that he’ll just listen if she ever wants to talk.

Why do they call him Stoner when she’s never seen him act druggie?
Could Sid ever be more than friends with Corey?
Will she ever find the key to the locked door of that blank ski trip night?

The author’s time spent working with teens in bad situations really shines through in this debut novel, as readers root for Sid to break through the barricades that her mind put up and uncover what happened with Dax so she can heal herself.

 (One of 6,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Year Zero, by Rob Reid (fiction) - music downloads, alien invasion, legal loopholes?

book cover of Year Zero by Rob Reid published by Del Rey Books
Sharing music is an age-old tradition.
Downloading music is more recent.
But global annihilation to avoid copyright fees?

That's what Earth faces when the rest of the universe realizes that their music downloads since the 1970s have run up a copyright bill bigger than...than...than the universe.

Author Rob Reid knows quite a lot about music licensing and copyright, since he founded the Rhapsody music service before he wrote this first novel. About those lawsuit-happy aliens... he's not telling us his sources.

Grab this funny-alien-legal-music-thriller in hardcover, eBook, or audiobook now at your local library or independent bookstore; available in paperback April 30, 2013.

Wonder if aliens really prefer disco to 80s hair metal?

Book info: Year Zero / Rob Reid. Del Rey Books, 2012.  [author's website] [author's Facebook page] [publisher site] [book trailer]

My Recommendation: Radio waves going from station to listener bounce out into space, too, and the aliens agree that Earth’s music is better than any other in the universe. 

But once they realize how much money the entire Refined League owes in royalty and copyright fees to human musicians, some alien bad guys decide that wiping out Earth to erase the debt is the only way to go!

However, most aliens would rather find a more-peaceful solution, so a few drop in on New York attorney Nick Carter to have him fix it all. Alas, Nick is not the Backstreet Boys singer Nick (as the aliens had hoped) nor is he the world’s best music copyrights attorney who could possibly find a way to reverse-license a few decades of slightly-to-completely illegal music downloads many light years from Earth.

But he’s going to have to try, since the bad-aliens will blow up Earth in a few days’ time if he can’t find a way around or through this problem. Of course, his law firm will decide this week on whether he’ll finally be named a junior partner or get axed, his cute neighbor also acquires a stray pet who’s an alien spy, and the wrinkles of universe-travels get a little sweaty.

Did the aliens of the Refined League honestly decide that Earth’s musical domination of the universe ended with rap?
Are there truly jokes coded into human (or Perfuffinite) DNA, since our bodies only use 2% of the genome?
Is there really a loophole in US music copyright law that Nick can find in time?

This debut novel by the founder of Rhapsody online music service brings music-crazed aliens to Earth, whisks earnest-but-only-human humans into outer space battles, and sharply skewers the most restrictive music copyright system in the universe between all the laughs.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Watersmeet, by Ellen Jensen Abbott (fiction) - outcast, healer, in danger

book cover of Watersmeet by Ellen Jensen Abbott published by Marshall Cavendish and Amazon
Centaurs who collect human toes as souvenirs.
Obrium metal that only the dwarves can mine.
Settlers always moving into enemy lands, always at war.

Despite making the required sacrifices to Vran, there are still imperfect children born to Vranille village, doomed to be outcasts.
Amid grinding poverty, the outcasts are poorer still.
Among the outcasts, Abisina is most despised, her father unknown.

Look for Watersmeet (remember, the main action occurs where the waters meet) at your local library. Alas, your independent bookstore will probably not have this great fantasy, as Amazon Publishing acquired Marshall Cavendish Publishing's fiction books and many others in late 2011, reprinting this one in paperback in 2012.

Book info: Watersmeet / Ellen Jensen Abbott. Marshall Cavendish, 2009, hardback; Amazon Publishing, 2012, paperback. [author's blog] [publisher site] [author interview]

My Recommendation:  Outcast, always an outcast, fatherless Abisina with her different hair color, different skin color, barely tolerated in the tradition-bound outpost because of her mother’s healing skills, until a new leader comes to Vranille. Now, anyone with the slightest difference at the Ritual of Penance is outcast, and Charach decrees all the outcasts hunted to the death.

“Watersmeet,” says her mother, finally telling Abisina where she will find her father. Far away in the mountains, through the dread country where centaurs and dwarves capture humans for sport or for food.

As Charach leads the slaughter of outcasts, Abisina watches helplessly from the woods, retrieves her mother’s necklace from the ashes, then runs until she can go no further. Rescued by a mother and son, Abisina regains her strength and plans to head north, to Watersmeet. 

Will Charach allow her to escape from the lands of Vran unharmed? Can the young teen make it all the way to the fabled city of peace? After so many years, will her father truly be at Watersmeet?

Dark the nights, bitter the heart of Charach, growing the hope of Abisina to live free from fear in this stunning debut novel of a world where truths can be stranger than fables. (One of 6,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.