Parker’s Picks – November/December 2010

Cover of "Blockade Billy"

Cover of Blockade Billy

A blessed companion is a book, – a book that, fitly chosen, is a lifelong friend,… a book that, at a touch, pours its heart into our own.  ~Douglas Jerrold

Envision cozying up in your comfiest reading chair by your warm blazing fireplace with one of these books I’ve selected for my November/December Parker’s Picks.  Sounds inviting, doesn’t it?!  Douglas Jerrold said it best in the quote above.  So many books we read touch our hearts and become emblazoned in our minds as I’m sure some of the following titles will for you.  I know these will meet with your approval!  I enjoyed all of these! I have a variety of books on this list from a baseball story, Blockade Billy, from Stephen King with a twist, of course – to a look back at the 1960’s in the book, Countdown, by Deborah Wiles.  I’ve also included book trailers for several of them to entice your interest! 

Beautiful Darkness (Caster Chronicles, #2)

Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Darkness will satisfy many of your unanswered questions – the cliffhangers!!  Does Lena go to the dark side and do Ethan and Lena continue with their growing relationship.  Beautiful Darkness introduces an interesting mystifying character, John Breed. His purpose in the story is dangled in front of the reader like a carrot. I like how he was interwoven into this ongoing saga and the role he plays. There’s also a new girl in Gatlin who is working with Marian at the library. Do you see some love triangles forming?? There are battles and confrontations from those with strong powers from the Dark Side.  I enjoyed the fact that more of the minor characters in Beautiful Creatures were more developed in this sequel. There’s a HUGE surprise in story for you concerning Link!  Book 3 of the Caster Chronicles will be out in 2011 – stay tuned!

 Blockade Billy by Stephen King

I LOVE a good Stephen King book!  I was drawn to this particular book because of my fondness for baseball.  King takes a look back to baseball as it was played in 1957.  Billy Blakely is called up after two other catchers are injured.  He is dubbed –Blockade Billy– by his New Jersey Titan teammates because of his incredible feats as a catcher. Of course mystery surrounds Billy. King’s novella and the character of Billy are reminiscent to me of his book, The Green Mile, and the character, John Coffey.  Billy’s “skeleton in the closet” is revealed at the end….


Countdown by Deborah Wiles

This is the first book in The Sixties Trilogy! Countdown is a brilliant look back in time.  Young adult readers will discover a time like no other. Deborah Wiles website is jam-packed with information from the actual “Duck and Cover” film to an iTunes playlist for all of the songs mentioned in the book!  Going to teach a decade unit with your students?  Look no further than Countdown.  It’s rich with information to enhance the learning experience! Anyone living during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, will thoroughly enjoy this historical fiction novel.  We are guided by the Chapman family in a truly scary time in our country when “duck and cover,” underground bomb shelters, and anticipating the “bright flash” dominated our daily existence. Told by Franny, the eleven-year-old daughter of a military pilot, her mother, older sister, Jo Ellen who is a college student, younger brother Drew, who she labels “Mr. Perfect & Saint Drew”, and Uncle Otts, a WWII veteran, all guide us in telling the story.  The pictures and footage of this unforgettable year enhance the story that intertwines with these events.  There is mystery, comedy, and adventure that grab your interest from the beginning.  A valuable lesson is disclosed as expressed by Franny’s sister, Jo Ellen.A safe bomb shelter is not required to relive or discover 1962 as you read, Countdown.  All one needs is to enjoy and cherish a truly emotional story. (This review is from my husband – thanks Steve!)

View the trailer of Countdown.

Every Last One

Every Last One by Anna Quindlen

I’m a devoted fan of Anna Quindlen’s books!  Every Last One is mind-blowing and stunning! It centers on Glen and Mary Beth Latham, their children Ruby, Alex, Max, and a chain reaction of events that lead to the ultimate horror of every parent.  I thought I knew what would eventually happen but I must say it was a shocker and a bombshell.  Quindlen draws you into the everyday life of the Latham household where you get to know them like you would your next door neighbors – well almost.  Throughout the story Quindlen weaves, you’ll wait for the bottom to fall out and believe me it does.

The Good Thief 

The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti

Conjure up the book, Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, but change the setting to 19th century New England, add a vast array of memorable villainous characters, and you’ll find yourself engrossed in, The Good Thief!  Ren is a twelve-years-old orphan with a missing left hand whom no one so far ever wants to adopt.  He continues in his daily life at the St. Anthony’s until one day Ren is plucked from the orphanage by Benjamin Nab who claims to be his brother.  Once on the road adventures and escapades ensue for Ren, Benjamin, and his band of thieves. Truly a remarkable and well written book worthy of your time!

View the trailer for The Good Thief.

Hold Still 

Hold Still by Nina LaCour

What words and praises can I say that haven’t already been bestowed upon this debut book by Nina LaCour?!  It’s a remarkable and emotional story of Caitlin who is left to continue with her life after her best friend, Ingrid commits suicide.  The story is told in seasons not chapters which I think moves the story along quite effectively through the transition of time.  By way of Ingrid’s diary the reader glimpses at life through her eyes and what leads her to the destructive decision to end her life.  Follow Caitlin’s journey from devastation to recovery.  Truly an amazingly brilliant story!

View the trailer of Hold Still.

I Am Not A Serial Killer 

I Am Not a Serial Killer (John Cleaver #1) by Dan Wells

Wells’ has created a psychological thriller in this first book for his trilogy!  It’s suspenseful and filled with horror which is perfect for reading on a dark cold night!  Fifteen –year- old John Cleaver has a fixation with dead people and serial killers which he knows it’s not quite normal – you might also if you lived above your family’s mortuary.  Once the first body appears behind the Laundromat, John tries to unearth the mystery surrounding the murder but when several bodies begin to be discovered it’s evident there is a real serial killer on the loose.  You’ll be drawn into this menacing and chilling story that just might haunt you until you close the last page of the book!

View trailer here.


Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

I fell in love with ten-year-old Caitlin as she tells her story of how she and her father deal with the death of her older brother Devon who was killed in a school shooting. Caitlin has Asperser’s Syndrome so you see the world through her eyes and how she views it. Find out how Caitlin and her father find “Closure” with their grieving process. As you read the story you’ll discover the importance of the title, Mockingbird. Such a wonderful and poignant gem! This book would be an excellent choice for a read aloud with your students.

The Prince of Mist 

The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

I first discovered and then became a devoted fan of the author, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, when I read his book, The Shadow of the Wind.  I found The Prince of Mist to be just as entertaining eerie and chilling! I wasn’t disappointed with this Young Adult gothic tale.  The story centers on the Carver family who has moved to get away from the fears of the World War II to a small town overlooking a coast.  Max Carver and his older sister, Alicia, become friends with Roland to discover the terrifying secret of a longstanding curse with non other than the Devil.

Stop by to view the trailer of The Prince of Mist!

Tomato Girl 

Tomato Girl by Jayne Pupek

Tomato Girl is simply unforgettable!  It’s a painful look at how life can change so uncontrollably especially for eleven-year-old Ellie Sanders and how she must deal with the broken pieces of her very existence.  Once I opened this book I knew I was captivated by the heartrending chain of events faced by young Ellie as she tells her story.  Ellie’s father Rupert manages the General Store where Ellie loves to spend her time helping out any way she can.  Her mother Julia is a bit unstable and Ellie sometimes doesn’t quite understand her mood swings.   Tomato Girl isn’t Ellie but a teenage girl, Tess, who sells produce from her father’s farm to the store.  Rupert enlists Tess’ help at home when Julia has an accident.  The wheels of fate begin to turn and change the life Ellie once knew.   A very poignant story you soon won’t forget.

View the trailer of Tomato Girl.



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5 responses to “Parker’s Picks – November/December 2010

  1. Great list — I keep forgetting to read The Good Thief 🙂

    • Hi Rebecca!
      Oh, you must read The Good Thief! It really will remind you of Oliver Twist!
      Hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving!
      Will be featuring your book, The Bird Sisters, in the upcoming months for your big launch!

  2. Oh Kathy, thank you so much! I am smiling like such a dork right now 🙂 You have been so kind to me. Thank you with all my heart.

    p.s. The Good Thief is on my Christmas list now. xox
    p.p.s. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, too. I ate way too much pie!

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