Search results: "clara" (Page 1 of 3)

Get to Know Clara

Pssst. Drew Daywalt (author of The Day the Crayons Came Home) will be at Lemuria on September 15 at 3:30!

Pssst. Drew Daywalt (author of The Day the Crayons Came Home) will be at Lemuria on September 15 at 3:30!

How long have you worked at Lemuria? In my current position, I’ve been at Lemuria for 1 year, although I worked here in the summers in high school. It is definitely the best job I’ve had and I’m glad to be back.

What do you do at Lemuria? Most days I’m Dorothy who has been spit out of the tornado. On good days I’m Glinda the Good Witch, and on AWESOME days I’m the Wizard of Oz. Oz, for those of you not familiar with Lemuria, is our children’s book section! I order all the books for newborns all the way up to teens. I also arrange for authors who write books for kids to visit Jackson. You can catch what children’s books I review each Sunday in The Clarion Ledger!

Talk to us about what you’re reading right now.

I just finished Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. For every 10-20 children’s books I read, I try to read one adult book, and this one was a winner.

Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit. A WW2 story told from Anna’s perspective, who at the beginning of the story has just turned 7. Her father, an intellectual linguistics professor in Poland, leaves for work one day and never returns. The Swallow Man finds her and an incredible journey ensues.

Drowning is Inevitable by Shalanda Stanley. Four teens find themselves in a heap of trouble in Louisiana and set off to New Orleans. A little Kate Chopin, a lot of Southern Gothic, and I love it.

After Alice by Gregory Maguire. We all know the story of ALICE, but what happened to the other girl listening to Carroll’s story, Ada? This is her story, and the book will be out just in time for the 150th anniversary of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands. Kevin Sands will be at Lemuria September 18! This is a fast-paced adventure and mystery story set in London, and Christopher Rowe is an apprentice to Master Benedict Blackthorn, an apothecary. When Master Blackthorn is murdered, Christopher is left behind to unlock the key, or code. Really fun, and I can’t wait for the event.

I know it’s difficult, but give us your current top five books. THIS IS SO HARD. This fall in particular there are so many debut authors whose books I am obsessed with, so come talk to me about them because the list is too long.

1. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (out in October!)

2. Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell

3. Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie is always in my top five and

has been ever since I read it in 5th grade. It’s his only children’s book.

4. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

5. The Nonsense Show by Eric Carle

What did you do before you worked at Lemuria? I was a student at Vanderbilt University in Nashville (anchor down!), a student in Florence, Italy, a substitute teacher, a Spanish tutor, a painter at Old Tyme Commissary, a hostess, a research intern at the Mississippi Museum of Art, a magazine editor for Mississippi Magazine and a receptionist in a doctor’s office.

Why do you like working at Lemuria? When you take an author to a school and see the effect they can have on a child, it’s wonderful. Also, finding that perfect book for the perfect person is all the more rewarding when it’s a child who has just discovered reading.

If we could have any living author visit the store and do a reading, who would you want to come? J.K. ROWLING!!! I think I would die.

If Lemuria could have ANY pet (mythical or real), what do you think it should be? Hedwig!! I would love receiving mail by owl post.

If you had the ability to teleport, where would you go first? You mean apparate? Hogwarts, duh. Except not in Hogwarts (nobody’s able to apparate into Hogwarts grounds) but I’d apparate to Hogsmeade.Tumblr_lsfx45f81Z1qhxlx1o1_500

Staff Fiction Favorites for 2017

Last Tuesday, we brought you our favorite nonfiction books from the past year. Next week, we’re going to post our favorite children’s books from the experts in Oz. (Don’t forget to share with us your personal favorites; see below). But today, we’re going to share our favorites in the glamour category: fiction. These books made us laugh, cry, and helped us connect more deeply with the world around, like all great stories do. Without further ado, here are each of our staff’s favorite fiction books of the year:

  • John Evans, bookstore owner – Paris in the Present Tense by Mark Helprin
  • Kelly, general manager – The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas
  • Austen, operations manager – Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
  • austen lincoln in the bardo verticalIt was with wonder and awe that I read Lincoln in the Bardo. With his first novel, George Saunders subverts the structural integrity of the form nearly to collapse, but apparently, he can dance en pointe. Mr. Saunders was able to transmute the most somber subject into something both wildly entertaining and profound. This is a malformed and superb piece of art.

  • Lisa, first editions manager – Paris in the Present Tense by Mark Helprin
  • Mark Helprin gave his first book to his friend and well-known writer John Cheever with the hope that he would write a favorable review. When Cheever rejected the book and wrote a review for another writer, Helprin described the rejection as a “double lightning bolt of anger and shame.” And so his first book, Dove of the East, has no blurbs on the dust jacket, just a photo of Mark Helprin on the back of the dust jacket looking rather melancholy. To this day, Helprin writes no reviews or blurbs for other writers, he does not long for prizes, and he occupies himself with a large life beyond writing his best-selling novels. He shared in the Paris Review that it was “Flaubert who said something like ‘live like a bourgeois so you can write like a wildman.’” Though others continue to blurb, I will not blurb Mark Helprin’s Paris in the Present Tense. Just read it and live wild.

  • Hillary, front desk manager – History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund
  • hillary history of wolves verticalFrom the very beginning of History of Wolves, I could literally feel the anticipation building. I just knew something was going to happen, yet the shock factor was still there when it did. This is a eloquently written debut novel with a fascinating story. Emily Fridlund has a masterful way with words, no doubt, her writing is beautiful.

  • Clara, Oz manager – The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine by Mark Twain and Philip Stead
  • clara prince oleomargarine verticalWhy is The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine my favorite fiction book this year? In publishing, it is not too rare for a well-known author’s work to be found and published posthumously. However, in the case of this book, Phil and Erin Stead managed to take sixteen pages of notes from a bedtime story that Mark Twain told his daughters, and turn it into a true literary masterpiece over a century later. Phil holds a conversation with the ghost of Mark Twain (which is hilarious) and Erin’s illustrations are airy and lovely, as always. They truly breathe life into the story. So what’s the right age for this book? I’d say somewhere from 6 to 96. There are a handful of times where I walk out of the store, a book under my arm, and race home to read it. Not only did I do that, but I felt somehow as if I was reading a lost masterpiece of children’s literature. There’s only one time I’ve had that experience, and it was with The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine.

  • Abbie, fiction supervisor – The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon
  • abbie confusion of languages vertical

    The Confusion of Languages is about two military wives who aren’t too fond of each other but have to band together to navigate life in Jordan. It’s a beautiful, well-written story about how kindness, friendship, and otherness translate between cultures.

  • Guy, First Editions Club supervisor – Dinner at the Center of the Earth by Nathan Englander
  • guy dinner at the center verticalDinner at the Center of the Earth gave me the chance to look closely at something, all at once individual and global, and to work backwards and forwards through its history. This is a wild, prismatic spy novel full of strange facets and wonderfully flawed characters. It’s fractured and beautiful and just what you need to puzzle over.

  • Andrew, blog supervisor – Desperation Road by Michael Farris Smith
  • andrew desperation road verticalDesperation Road is a stunning second novel by Michael Farris Smith. It’s long, elegant sentences bring urgency and dignity to two desperate citizens, a drifter with her daughter and an ex-con, living on the margins in south Mississippi. It tells the story of the tragedy that binds them together, and the hope that can bring them forward.

  • Pat, bookseller – Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
  • pat exit westExit West is a short book packed with big ideas.  It’s the story of day to day survival in a mid-Eastern country where love and hope bloom in the midst of bombs exploding at any and every corner.

  • Ellen, bookseller – The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne
  • ellen heart's invisible furies verticalThe Heart’s Invisible Furies is the story of the life of Cyril Avery, from conception to end of life. Cyril comes roaring into the world in Ireland during the year of 1946. He is alive during the heyday of the IRA and the height of bigotry and intolerance for homosexuals in Ireland, so he therefore is forced to hide his homosexuality for years. His story takes us to Amsterdam and all the way across the Atlantic Ocean to New York City. Fact: Cyril has many hardships in his life. However, this book is not some unending sob story due to the fact that it is balanced with wonderful humor. This is a novel of redemption and it just couldn’t have been a better story. (I fear for the immortal soul of the person who does not love this book.)

  • Katie, bookseller – Human Acts by Han Kang
  • Kang’s second book published in English, Human Acts tells the story of the Gwanju uprising that occurred in South Korea in the 1980’s. This is one of the most beautiful, most powerful books I have read this year.

  • Jamie, bookseller – Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
  • jamie sing unburied square


    Nothing I read this year matched Sing, Unburied, Sing‘s lyric beauty. The characters are compelling and believable, and Ward’s prose is perfect.


  • Aimee, bookseller – Celine by Peter Heller
  • Of all the books I read this year, Celine has stuck with me the best. The writing style and the plot itself contribute to what I now call one of my all time favorite books. Celine is the woman I want to be when I’m in my 60s.

  • Hunter, bookseller – American War by Omar El Akkad
  • Trianne, bookseller – Fresh Complaint by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • Fresh Complaint is a collection of short stories that is both practical and profound, capturing the lovely details of every day life while examining the underlying existential questions.

  • Taylor, bookseller – Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfar
  • Julia, bookseller – The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas
  • Abigail, bookseller – The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne
  • Dorian, bookseller – Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
  • Reading Sing, Unburied, Sing was like the shadow of Toni  Morrison’s younger self snuck up behind me and gave me something else to think about. Jesmyn Ward is an inspired voice sounding at a time when it is most needed.
  • Erica, Oz bookseller – Caraval by Stephanie Garber
  • Diane, Oz bookseller – The Explorer by Katherine Rundell

fiction books vertical

Did you enjoy our recommendations? We hope so–but we want to hear from you, dear readers! Tell us your favorite fiction, nonfiction, or children’s books published in 2017. Reach out to us on social media, e-mail us at, or come visit us at the store! All we need is your name and your favorite book of 2017, and a brief description like the ones above and a picture of your book if you wish. We will be dedicating a post next week to our the customers and community of Lemuria. Here’s to a happy new year, full of more great books!

Staff Nonfiction Favorites for 2017

We’re coming to the end of another exciting year for books. Below are a list of books that our staff consider to be the very best of the year in nonfiction, from the horrors of war, crime, and discrimination to the beauty of music, poetry, humor, and solitude. We encourage you to come to Lemuria and check these books out, either as a great gift for Christmas or a present to yourself to read in the new year.

all nonfiction

Did you enjoy our recommendations? We hope so–but we want to hear from you, dear readers! Tell us your favorite fiction, nonfiction, or children’s books published in 2017. Reach out to us on social media, e-mail us at, or come visit us at the store! All we need is your name and your favorite book of 2017, and a brief description like the ones above and a picture of your book if you wish. We will be dedicating a post next week to our the customers and community of Lemuria. Here’s to a happy new year, full of more great books!

Discovery brings Twain back to life in kid’s bedtime story

By Clara Martin

What do cooking grease, ornery dragons, and Mark Twain have to do with each other? As it turns out, quite a lot.

At the Bancroft Library in Berkeley, California, in a search for recipes relating to a Mark Twain cookbook in the Twain Archives, the word “oleomargarine” pulled up 16 pages of handwritten notes. But the notes weren’t about cooking. These 16 pages comprised a bedtime story, a fairy tale that Twain told his daughters, Clara and Susy Clemens, while in Paris in 1879.

The story ended abruptly with Prince Oleomargarine being kidnapped and taken to a cave guarded by dragons. The Mark Twain House sold the rights to Doubleday, an imprint under Penguin Random House. But with the author long gone and only 16 pages of notes to work with, the story needed some guidance.
Lucky for us readers, Philip and Erin Stead, the team behind the Caldecott Winning picture book A Sick Day for Amos McGee, took the reins in The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine.

prince oleomargarine

But how do you work with a dead man who was writing before the 20th century? By turning him into a character, of course.

In the story (and in real life), Philip goes out to a cabin on Beaver Island to write this story and converse with the ghost of Twain, who interjects in the first half of the story quite frequently. The banter goes on back and forth, with Philip Stead asking Twain “what happens next,” and when Twain’s own story doesn’t fit with Stead’s vision, he goes ahead, sometimes with Twain’s permission and sometimes without.

What ensues is a hilarious feat of storytelling that hearkens back to the oral tradition. As you read, you will feel the need to read this to someone else, to share the story. After all, aren’t the best stories meant to be shared?

So while the Steads make some changes, they stick to the theme that runs through all of their books–the importance of kindness.

The hero of the story, Johnny, is a young African-American boy whose grandfather is a “bad man.” His only friend in the world is a chicken named “Pestilence and Famine.”

He sells his chicken to an “old, blind woman, thin enough to cast no shadow.” This beggar woman gives Johnny a handful of pale blue seeds in exchange for the chicken. She promises him that if he plants the seeds under very specific conditions, then a flower will bloom. If Johnny eats the flower, he will never feel emptiness again. He plants the seeds, and one flower blooms. Johnny eats the seed, ravenous with hunger, but he does not feel fulfilled. He is about to give up when he hears a voice: that of a talking skunk named Susy. As it turns out, the magic flower allows Johnny to talk to and understand animals.

Johnny’s life with the animals is filled with peace. As the old beggar woman promised him, he does not feel emptiness because of his friends. But when they come across a notice proclaiming that Prince Oleomargarine has gone missing, Johnny and the animals go forward to help.

As it turns out, the King is very, very short. So, all of his subjects must stoop before him (or they will be enemies of the state). He claims that giants have taken his only son and heir to the throne. Johnny and the animals follow the trail and end up at the entrance to a cave, guarded by Two Ornery Dragons. AS the narrator says: “An important thing to know about dragons is this: They are always arguing with one another. No two dragons can agree on anything.”

And, as this is where Twain left Philip Stead to pick up the storytelling mantle, this where I will leave you to discover the rest of the tale.

Erin and Philip Stead

Erin and Philip Stead

While reading The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine, I felt as though I was reading a long-lost classic children’s story. Which, in a way, I was. Thanks to the magic and artistry of the Steads, the gem of the original story is not lost. With Erin’s ethereal illustrations that are suited for a fairy tale of this magnitude, she brings Phil’s words, Twain’s eccentricity, Johnny’s pure heart, and the importance of kindness to life.

To borrow from Twain, I think the moral of the story can be summed up as such: “There are more chickens than a man can know in this world, but an unprovoked kindness is the rarest of birds.”

Philip Stead will appear at Lemuria on Monday, October 30, to promote The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine. He will sign books at 5:00, and he will read from the book beginning at 5:30.

Author Q & A with Rosemary Wells

Interview with Rosemary Wells by Clara Martin.

In the world of children’s books, there is a duo named Max and Ruby. They are bunny siblings: Ruby is the older sister who is very bossy, and Max is her little brother who is always up to mischief. The Max & Ruby series spans over forty books and now have their own television show on Nick Jr.

rosemary wellsTheir creator, Rosemary Wells, has been writing and illustrating books for over 45 years. She began working in publishing as a book designer for seven years. All through her writing and illustrating career, from her picture books to her young adult novels, Rosemary Wells advocates for children’s literacy wherever she goes. Born in New York City and raised in rural New Jersey, she now resides in Connecticut.

Lemuria Books is thrilled to welcome ROSEMARY WELLS, the author of MAX & RUBY for a story time and signing on MONDAY, OCTOBER 2ND from 3:30 – 4:30 pm. This story time is free and open to the public!

A presentation given by Rosemary Wells that is geared towards adults & educators will run from 5 pm to 6 pm, and a RSVP is necessary. To RSVP, please call Lemuria Books at 601-366-7619.

In an interview below, Rosemary Wells talks about her own characters, her illustration process, and the importance of reading books aloud to children.

What drew you to stories about toddlers and young children?

I can’t really tell you why. Perhaps because I had young children around me, and still do. I find them hilarious. My own childhood–I was as a tomboy, a very dedicated artist, and utterly non-compliant with what I didn’t like in school–also added to this. It always does in authors. We go back over our own lives and see, in the new lives around us, many of the same traits and predicaments.

However, I have also written 4 books for middle grade readers and 7 novels for YA!

Tell me a little bit about Max & Ruby (and your other characters).

What I really love is the sibling dynamic. It is so real. Max and Ruby are my own two children. This is how they constantly behaved with each other when they thought I wasn’t present or listening to them. Ruby never stopped guiding Max in all the ways of the world that Max had to learn. Max never took anything she said seriously. Never listened to a single word she said. This is a story dynamic which never ran out on me. It is a universal sister/brother routine in all countries in the world. That’s the reason the parents aren’t in the stories. None of the funny stuff would happy with Mom or Dad there. So where are they? In the next room, listening!

felix stands tallMy equally favorite character is Yoko. My next book is another Felix and Fiona melodrama friendship book from Candlewick. And next year, I have a book from Macmillan that introduces new characters, Kit and Kaboodle, twin pussycats and their little nemesis, Spinka, the mouse.

Why are you drawn to drawing animals to represent your children?

I draw animals better. People love animals, particularly young ones. That’s why we take stuffed animals too bed—not so much stuffed people!

Children depicted in illustration cannot do what animals can do on a page. Nor do they engender as much humor or sympathy unless drawn by Garth Williams! Kids are more serious to draw and elicit more reader questioning.

Can you tell me about your illustration style & process?

I wish I could answer this better. I draw. I’ve put in my 30,000 hours! I use mostly watercolor but have branched out to pastel. I copy. What I can’t draw well, I copy out of books. When I need inspiration, I look to the great illustrators and commercial artists of the early twentieth century. Trademarks, advertising, etc.  I encourage all my young artists in my workshops to concentrate, copy, and revise. Revise everything, because each time you do it again, the work gets better.

What do you love about writing and illustrating books for children?

It has endless possibilities. It’s what I do really well. It has been and continues to be a very successful career for me. I never tire of it because each book I do is alive. When they stop being alive, then I will stop. Not until then.

What were some books that made an impact on you as a child, and what do you hope your books do for children today?

We had very few books in the 1940s and 50s compared to today. Robert Lawson, Beatrix Potter, Garth Williams, who else? I don’t know. I copied them all. Lavishly illustrated fairy tales. We read them again and again. As a writer, I think that made me realize I better write books to be read over and over.

This is why I know for a fact, that although I had a golden childhood, safe from want, harm, and discord, that my great escape was books. No matter where we are on life’s scale, we need escape. Kids eat it up and they get it best from books. (worst, I have to add from video games, which are toxic and free of any moral compass or other good outcome.)

We need to read real books (not tablets) to our babies, starting very early in the first year of life.

The one great privilege that fortunate, advanced kids have over the less the fortunate is reading-aloud parents and regular visits to the library.

So, if we read to our children twenty minutes every day, they will listen to us, learn from their many books more than we can ever imagine.

When they reach kindergarten, no matter how underserved their childhoods, those children who are read to all the time will be the level equal of any privileged child in their school. They will be prepared to learn and advance in school. If you read every day aloud, you can almost guarantee your child’s bright future.

There are very recent live MRI scans of children’s brains while being read to. The critical development of the brain takes place in the first five years of life and apparently nothing stimulates it into permanent growth like read aloud stories in the parents’ voices. This treasure of childhood, reading aloud requires only a library card.

Books taught me to think in ways neither my parents not my teachers ever taught me. This is why it is so important that we encourage the next generation to be readers. We are in a national crisis in our country today. My two cents is this: We don’t need any more followers in America today. We need leaders. Real leaders are critical thinkers. They become critical thinkers from reading everything, things they agree with and things they don’t. Our kids need this cognitive training in order to become good citizens. Good citizens are independent. Good leaders understand the difference between facts/science and made up fairy tales that are narrow opinions and lead nowhere. If our country as we know and love it is to survive, the leaders of our next generation need generosity of spirit. While very young, the leaders of tomorrow have to learn to be patient, inclusive of those unlike them, kind to the less fortunate, courteous, curious, and able to dream a better world for all of us, not just for self.

Much of this comes from good parenting and educating. The rest comes from books.

Meet Rosemary Wells at Lemuria Books on Monday, October 2nd!

3:30 – 4:30 p.m. Story Time & Signing

5:00 – 6:00 p.m. Rosemary Wells Presentation on Literacy*

*Adults Only, Please RSVP at 601-366-7619


Celebrating the books of Mississippi

By Clara Martin. Special to the Clarion-Ledger Sunday print edition (August 13).

For the past two years, on a sweltering Saturday in the middle of August, the booksellers of Lemuria have gathered outside of the Mississippi State Capitol at the crack of dawn to unpack boxes of books. For the third year in a row, these booksellers will be there with their sleeves rolled up, filled with anticipation. Because one day of the year, the most exciting literary event in the state will take place in the heart of Jackson on the steps of the Capitol. It is a place where people of all faiths, political leanings, and races join together in the celebration of one thing; books.

When you think of Mississippi’s literary history, there are the heavy weights: Eudora Welty, William Faulkner, Margaret Walker Alexander, and Richard Wright. But what the Mississippi Book Festival celebrates is the growth and continuation of literature in the state. The festival shows Mississippi as a hub that is rich in literary culture that is constantly evolving.

John Evans is the owner of Lemuria Books, the independent bookstore in Jackson that has been open since 1975. He is a big supporter of the festival and has long-term goals for the festival’s growth in the state. Evans say, “the Book Fest is the most important thing to happen in Mississippi now, and for the next couple of years. It benefits the tourist business, and will attract out-of-towners. It’s a landmark event. Hopefully, it [the festival] will be an event to mark a literary trail marker in the next couple of years. I think the Mississippi Book Festival proves the need for a literary trail.”

When I asked the director of the Mississippi Book Festival, Holly Lange, what the festival means to her, this is what she said: “What I love most about the book festival is the magic it creates: thousands of Mississippians have the chance to meet their favorite writers, participate in some pretty special national exhibits, and support our local authors and independent bookstores.”

It’s true. It really is magic to pull together the authors and the panels. This year’s lineup is phenomenal. Carla Hayden, the first woman and first African American to lead the Library of Congress, will be there to kickoff the whole event–she was sworn in as the 14th Librarian of Congress on September 14, 2016.

Whatever your preference and taste in books, there is a panel for you. Maybe you are interested in Art in Mississippi, with artists William Dunlap and H.C. Porter Or maybe you’ll join Two Cooks in the Kitchen with John Currence (his restaurant, Big Bad Breakfast in Oxford, has a wait-line of several hours on the weekend) and Vivian Howard, star of the PBS television show A Chef’s Life. If mysteries are your thing, then join Otto Penzler, Mysterious Press president and CEO and owner of The Mysterious Bookshop in New York City. Discover some amazing debuts with moderator Richard Grant, author of Dispatches from Pluto. Join Mark Bowden in discussion with a Vietnam veteran as he discusses his book Hue 1968 that follows the turning point of the Vietnam War. Ron Rash, Richard Ford, and Greg Iles will also be in attendance, just to name a few.

If you have young kids, then the Kidnote is the way to go, with Candace Fleming, author of over 30 books for children, and illustrator Eric Rohmann, who is also a Caldecott Medalist. Their latest joint project is the adorable picture book Bulldozer Helps Out. Other great events for kids include the big tent of Kids Corner, which will feature an early Saturday morning surprise guest reading of Ezra Jack Keats’ classic–Snowy Day–and a free Popsicle to beat the summer heat. Join a group of star middle grade authors who all have their roots in Mississippi. Meet Angie Thomas, the Jackson native whose book The Hate U Give has been on the New York Times Bestseller List for 22 weeks and counting. Thomas’s young adult novel is a powerful look at race in modern America.

So, what are you waiting for? Rain or shine, the Lemuria crew will be at the Mississippi Book Festival bright and early on Saturday, August 19, slinging books and wearing some custom made shades. Join us, and the rest of Mississippi, for a day in August that is fun for the whole family, free to the public, and all about books. Visit for information on author, panel times, and other events.

ill be there ms book fest

Author Q & A with Angie Thomas

Interview with Angie Thomas by Clara Martin. Special to Twenty by Jenny.

Angie ThomasIn August of 2015, I met Angie when she had just signed with her agent. She was excited, hopeful, but also nervous. She didn’t know how a book influenced by Black Lives Matter would work for a YA story. Over a year later, The Hate U Give is going to be a movie (starring Amandla Stenberg as Starr), and Angie (and T.H.U.G.) are getting ready to take the world by storm. Angie was kind enough to answer some questions before embarking on her tour! Here is a review of The Hate U Give.

Where are you from? Tell me about the journey that led you to where you are now.

hate u giveI was born, raised, and still reside in Jackson, Mississippi. I’ve told stories for as long as I can remember—I used to write Mickey Mouse fanfiction when I was six. But I never thought that I could be an author until I was in college, studying creative writing. I actually wrote the short story that became The Hate U Givewhile I was in my senior year. It took me a few years after college, though, to decide to make it a novel. Even after I wrote it, I was afraid that the topic may not be appropriate for YA. So when a literary agency held a question and answer session on Twitter, I asked if the topic was appropriate. An agent not only responded and said yes, he asked to see my manuscript. A few months later, I signed with him, and a few months after that we were in a 13-publishing house auction.

When did you know you needed to write this book?

Oscar Grant

Oscar Grant

Like I said, I first wrote it as a short story during my senior year of college, back in 2010/2011 after the shooting of Oscar Grant in Oakland, California. Like my main character, Starr, I was living in two different worlds—my neighborhood that most people called “the hood” and my upper class, mostly-white college. By being in these two different worlds, I heard two very different takes on the case. At my school, he was seen as a thug who deserved what he got, but in my community he was one our own. My anger, fear, and frustration led me to write the story. I put it aside after graduation, but as more of these cases continued to happen, I found myself angry, afraid, and frustrated again. So I did the only thing I knew how to do–I wrote.

Black Lives Matter is…

An organization and a movement. I don’t think a lot of people realize there’s a difference between the two. (And for the record, I’m not affiliated with the organization). It’s also a statement. It is not saying that only black lives matter or that black lives matter more. All lives should matter, indeed, but we have a systemic problem in this country in which black lives don’t matter enough. Black lives matter, too.

Tell us a little bit about Starr. Why did you use her voice to tell the story? She starts out so unsure of herself, and it was amazing watching her grow and come into her own.

I know plenty of Starrs in my neighborhood; I was a bit of a Starr myself growing up. She’s in two different worlds where she has to be two different people, and she’s still trying to figure out which one is truly her. I think a lot of people can relate to that. Also, there is this stereotype that black women, especially young black women, are loud and harsh, and I wanted to crush that stereotype with this character.

There is a moment where Starr is in the car with Chris, and she says to him, “I don’t need you to agree…Just try to understand how I feel. Please?” And I felt like this was a powerful line that white people need to hear from black people.

That’s one of my favorite lines, actually. I think if more people understood why black people are so upset when another unarmed black person is killed, it would help bring about change. These cases always become political, but for so many of us they are personal. They need to become personal for all of us.

Another moment that I felt was really powerful is between Ms. Ofrah (Starr’s attorney) and Starr.
“Who said talking isn’t doing something? [Ms. Ofrah] says. “It’s more productive than silence. Remember what I told you about your voice?’
‘You said it’s my biggest weapon.’
‘And I mean that.’”

That’s another one of my favorites (Is it ok for an author to like something they wrote? Haha.) I hope that more people realize just how powerful their voices are, especially in our current political climate. Fighting is not always about violence; sometimes it’s about speaking out. Our voices can change things.

This story is fiction, and yet, it is a real look into casual racism, blatant racism, and both sides of the police equation (Starr’s uncle is also a policeman)—and this is just the tip of the iceberg. In many ways, Starr’s story is not fiction. It is the story of every black person who has been a witness to injustice, time and time again.

My ultimate hope is that it will help people realize that empathy is stronger than sympathy.

Angie Thomas will serve as a panelist on the “Rising Stars in Young Adult” discussion at the Mississippi Book Festival on Saturday, August 19 at 12 p.m. in the Galloway Sanctuary.

Staff Nonfiction Favorites from 2016

Last month, we showed you our favorite fiction books from 2016. This time, we’re back to tell you what our favorite nonfiction books were. From Churchill to Hitler, from art to music, from the frontier to the boudoir,  our picks were all over the place, but they all have a place on your shelf in 2017. Come to the store and ask us about our favorites–we’ll tell you all about them!

  • John Evans, bookstore owner – Hero of the Empire by Candice Millard
  • Kelly, general manager – Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
  • Austen, operations manager – Hitler: Ascent 1889 – 1939 by Volker Ullrich
  • Lisa, first editions manager – Absolutely on Music by Haruki Murakami
  • Hillary, front desk supervisor – Trials of the Earth by Mary Mann Hamilton
  • hillary-trialsFor what small amount of education she had during her life, Hamilton has created a beautifully written book about her time as a pioneer women in the Mississippi Delta.  Throughout this time in her life, she encounters a flood that completely washes away her home and the family’s logging camp, buries children, and deals with her husband’s secretive life and drinking problem. Hamilton is a fierce woman that I found absolutely fascinating.

  • Clara, Oz manager – Mad Enchantment by Ross King
  • Abbie, fiction supervisor – Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
  • Julia, First Editions Club supervisor – You Will Not Have My Hate by Antone Leiris
  • Andrew, blog supervisor – Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
  • Ellen, bookseller – The Voyeur’s Motel by Gay Talese
  • ellen voyeursThe Voyeur’s Motel is an amazing work of narrative journalism which I could not put down. The majority of this book is from the titular voyeur Gerald Foos’ actual journals and notes, which were extremely fascinating. Basically, Foos spent the majority of his time writing down any and everything that he watched from his voyeuristic “observation deck” and shared those thoughts with Gay Talese. Fascinating read.

  • Katie, bookseller – Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West
  • katie-shrillLindy West is an outspoken, confident, intriguing woman in our world today. Shrill tells the story of Lindy’s life, her accomplishments and failures, and her highs and her lows. Her story is insanely inspiring and relatable, touching on the many struggles that women are still facing today. Lindy is a role model to me and many others, and I know she could be one to you, too.

  • Jamie, bookseller – March by John Lewis
  • Matt K., bookseller – The Voyeur’s Motel by Gay Talese
  • Alex, bookseller – The Fire This Time edited by Jesmyn Ward
  • James, bookseller – Trials of the Earth by Mary Mann Hamilton
  • Diane, Oz bookseller – The Journey That Saved Curious George by Louise Borden

nonfiction all

Gifting the Perfect Book: Staff Fiction Favorites for 2016

Are you in a crunch for Christmas gifts?! Can’t find that perfect book for the one you love? Let our staff give you some GREAT recommendations! Here is a list of some of our FAVORITE FICTION books from the year 2016! Hurry by and we’ll wrap one for you just in time to stick under the tree!

  • John Evans, bookstore owner – Everybody’s Fool by Richard Russo
  • Kelly, general manager – Bright Precious Days by Jay McInerney
  • Austen, operations manager – The Nix by Nathan Hill
  • Lisa, first editions manager – Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift
  • Hillary, front desk supervisor – Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  • Clara, Oz manager – The House at the Edge of Night by Catherine Banner
  • Abbie, fiction supervisor – Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  • abbie-homegoing“Homegoing is  about the families of two sisters, one of whom marries a slaver, and one who is taken into slavery. It is a story that spans generations that is for every generation. You’ll fall in love with every character. Gyasi weaves together a compelling and beautiful tale. ” – Abbie

  • Julia, First Editions Club supervisor – by Graham Swift
  • julia-mothering-sundayMothering Sunday is a short and fabulous book about
    forbidden love and class division. I would read it 100 times over; it was so good. – Julia

  • Andrew, blog supervisor – The Nix by Nathan Hill
  • andrew-nixThe Nix is a spectacular debut novel about a writer searching for the truth about the mother who abandoned him, only to make headline news decades later. The tone alternates between comic and serious, and and it expertly captures the zeitgeist of both the 2010s and the 1960s. Hill does such a good job writing from multiple perspetives. – Andrew

  • Ellen, bookseller – Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  • Katie, bookseller – Nicotine by Nell Zink
  • Jamie, bookseller – Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  • Maggie Smith, bookseller – Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  • Matt K., bookseller – Mischling by Affinity Konar
  • Aimee, bookseller – The Chemist by Stephanie Meyer
  • Alex, bookseller – Nutshell by Ian McEwan
  • James, bookseller – El Paso by Winston Groom
  • Erica, Oz bookseller – Scythe by Neal Shusterman
  • Diane, Oz bookseller – Pax by Sara Pennypacker
  • Polly, Oz bookseller – Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum


Her Hardest Hue to Hold: ‘The Gold Seer Trilogy’ by Rae Carson

like-a-river-gloriousI’ve been in a reading funk for a little bit. Yep, it even happens to us booksellers. I just couldn’t get into any of the books I was picking up lately. So, I did what I always do to get out of said “funk”…I went to our young adult section and asked Clara to just go nuts and hand me books. Because, hey…..that section is just plain fun. Sure enough, she handed me an advance copy of the second book in Rae Carson’s The Gold Seer Trilogy, Like A River Glorious! I read the first book in the trilogy when it came out last September and loved it, so I was pretty excited to get back into the world that Carson has created.

walk-on-earth-a-strangerThe Gold Seer Trilogy begins with the first book, Walk on Earth a Stranger, which was long-listed for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature last year. I’m just going to write an overview of both books, because I don’t want to spoil anything if you haven’t even started the series. Which, you obviously should. Like, now.

This series is very much historical fiction, as it is set during the Gold Rush-era in America; but, in true Carson form, there is also magic throughout. Lee Westfall, the protagonist, has a strong, loving family. She has a home that she loves and a loyal longtime friend, Jefferson—who might want to be something more than friends. She also has a secret which only her family, including her awful uncle, knows: she can sense gold in the world around her…small nuggets in a stream, veins deep within the earth, even gold dust under her fingernails.

And y’all….she is a badass. She basically loses everything due to her special ability and her terrifying uncle. She begins a very long and hard journey westward to California disguised as a boy to not only hide from her uncle, but also to keep herself safe from others and to be seen as an equal to all other traveling men. Lee swears to herself that she will never marry, because then she and anything she does will become the property of her husband. Jefferson heads west as well to get away from his own abusive home life and the two meet up in Missouri. On their journey, they face sickness and exhaustion, greedy gold seekers sent by Lee’s uncle, and stampedes of buffalo. Once in California, Lee and Jefferson finally have a new group of people to call their family and with Lee’s ability, they set up their homestead on plots of land rich with gold. But, with gold….comes more trouble.


Carson does such a great job balancing the magic with all of the historical aspects. She also makes Lee Westfall an awesome, strong female lead. This is a great series for girls ages 14 and up.  If you haven’t read any Rae Carson, go to Lemuria, find me (I’m usually at the front desk) and then treat yourself to about three or four of her books. This is Carson’s second book series, her first is The Girl of Fire and Thorns series. READ IT. It is awesome as well.

Happy Reading!

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