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frootjoos blogs about young adult and other juvenile literature... and doesn't get much sleep, it looks like.
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1. The Book of Three 50th Anniversary Blog Tour

Thanks to Macmillan for asking us to participate in the blog tour for the 50th Anniversary Edition of The Book of Three. Read on for Alethea's post about reading the book again, a list of other blog tour stops, and a giveaway!

About the book:

Henry Holt Books for Young Readers is proud to publish this 50th Anniversary Edition of Lloyd Alexander's classic The Book of Three, the first book in the Chronicles of Prydain, with a new introduction by Newbery Honor–winner Shannon Hale. This anniversary edition is filled with bonus materials, including an interview with Lloyd Alexander, a Prydain short story, the first chapter of the next Prydain book (The Black Cauldron, a Newbery Honor book), an author's note, and a pronunciation guide.

 

Begin at the Beginning

When I was twelve, I got my first public library card, and took my second trip to Prydain. I didn't know it at first, but I'd already been there. My grandfather took me to see The Black Cauldron a few years before I read the books, and I remember being riveted and a little scared, but mostly excited by the adventure.

We moved to New Jersey from the Philippines that year, and I swore I'd read every book in the Old Bridge Public Library from A to Z. (I moved to California two years later, having made hardly a dent in the alphabet.) Naturally, the first book that I found when I walked into the children's section was The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander. I picked it up and couldn't put it down. I read the rest of the series in quick succession.

The Book of Three isn't just the story of Taran, erstwhile and brave Assistant Pig-Keeper, funny and faithful Gurgi, the enchanting and spunky Eilonwy. It's not just the adventures of shaggy-haired hero Gwydion, of Flewddur Fflam Son of Godo--bard of the harp. It's not, the author Lloyd Alexander warns in his note, to be taken as a guide for tourists [to Wales]. Prydain was the door that opened onto other worlds: Lewis's Narnia, McCaffrey's Pern, Tolkien's Middle-Earth. It opened in me an unstoppable craving for new adventures in strange lands.

Reading this book again for the umpteenth time in the twenty-four years since I first read it, I'm not just taken back to Prydain, I'm taken back to my childhood, to a musty-smelling public library. I'm walking into the building, past the periodicals, straight to the children's wall, to A for Alexander. And in my imagination, my fingertips sizzle like Taran's did when he first tried to touch The Book of Three.

   

Blog Tour Schedule:

Monday, September 22 - YA Bibliophile
Tuesday, September 23 - Maria’s Melange
Wednesday, September 24 - The Book Wars
Thursday, September 25 - Bunbury in the Stacks
Friday, September 26 - Manga Maniac Café
Monday, September 29 - Read Now Sleep Later
Tuesday, September 30
 - The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia
Wednesday, October 1
 - Word Spelunking
Thursday, October 2 - Proud Book Nerd
Friday, October 3 - Book Haven Extraordinaire

Giveaway Rules:

  1. Open to US and Canada residents only. Ends 10/06/2014. The prize is a hardcover 50th anniversary edition of The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander.
  2. We are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items. 
  3. One set of entries per household please. 
  4. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address. 
  5. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends. 
  6. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner. 
  7. If you have any questions, feel free to email us. You can review our full contest policy here
  8. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find. Thanks!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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2. Little Elliot, Big City

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Little Elliot, Big City by Mike Curato

ISBN 10: 0805098259
ISBN 13: 978-0805098259

Publication date: 26 August 2014 by Henry Holt & Co. BYR

Category: Children's Picture Book

Keywords: Elephant, mouse, friendship, cooperation, desserts

Format: Hardcover

Source: F&G from publisher

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Dedicated to "anyone who feels unnoticed", Little Elliot, Big City is about a pale, polka-dotted, pint-sized elephant who appreciates the little things in life. He has a box of small keepsakes, a sweet tooth, and finds inventive ways to solve everyday problems despite his small stature. One day he meets somebody even smaller and more helpless than himself, and helping out this littler creature really grows his self-esteem!

Little Elliot is a story about friendship, cupcakes, and how to not let your limitations stop you from becoming more than you are. I really love Curato's illustrations which have a very pastel mood and vintage style. His cupcake and macaron drawings make me want for run right down to the mall for some dainty sweet treats! The endpapers are achingly sweet. I love the colors and shadows, too.

The characters are very cute and the story has a great message as well. I hope this is only going to be the beginning for a long series of Elliot books filled with kind adventures and baked goods.

I received this book for free from Macmillan in exchange for an honest review.

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3. Tabula Rasa Blog Tour

 Thanks to Egmont USA for asking us to host a stop on the Tabula Rasa blog tour! Check out info about this new YA thriller below, a Q&A with author Kristen Lippert-Martin, and enter for a chance to win a copy of the book. 

   

About the Book

The Bourne Identity meets Divergent in this heart-pounding debut.

Sixteen-year-old Sarah has a rare chance at a new life. Or so the doctors tell her. She’s been undergoing a cutting-edge procedure that will render her a tabula rasa—a blank slate. Memory by memory, her troubled past is being taken away.

But when her final surgery is interrupted and a team of elite soldiers invades the isolated hospital under cover of a massive blizzard, her fresh start could be her end. 

Navigating familiar halls that have become a dangerous maze with the help of a teen computer hacker who's trying to bring the hospital down for his own reasons, Sarah starts to piece together who she is and why someone would want her erased. And she won’t be silenced again.

A high-stakes thriller featuring a non-stop race for survival and a smart heroine who will risk everything, Tabula Rasa is, in short, unforgettable.


Q&A with Kristen Lippert-Martin

 

RNSL: Did you have to do a lot of research for Tabula Rasa?

KLM: I guess I’d say I let the sci-fi stuff take precedent, but I definitely fact-checked the military-related elements. In other words, I didn’t let reality get in the way of the cool stuff at all. ;) But! One of my goals with the sci-fi elements in the story was to create a world and a scenario that felt like it could be real in the here and now.

Fortunately I have people in my life who can act as experts and give me advice. The scene in the opening where the helicopter arrives and starts shooting through the hospital windows—I had to fix that because I was told, “Oh, no way would a pilot get so close to the building. If a helicopter is going to fire a missile it’s got to back up and fire from a distance or else risk getting hit by the blowback and debris from the rockets it launches.” There were plenty of things like that I wanted to make sure were portrayed accurately.

 

RNSL: Tabula Rasa is your debut. How many books did you have to write before you got to this one, the one that sold? Do you write in a specific genre only, or in various genres?

KLM: I wrote two adult literary novels and two YA novels before selling Tabula Rasa. One of the YA novels was on submission for about a year and never sold.

 

RNSL: What were your biggest influences for coming up with this story?

KLM: A perhaps odd mix of things: an assortment of action movies and, believe it or not, Hamlet.

I loved the reboot of The Bourne Identity a few years back, and I thought that concept would be perfect for a YA novel. I thought the notion of “trying to figure out who you are while people are trying to kill you” a very apt metaphor for adolescence. ;)

As for Hamlet, I’m very much an over-thinker myself, and the idea of Hamlet as this character paralyzed by gloom and constantly mulling things over—yeah, that was something I was prone to doing as a teen. I wanted to create a character who was motivated to act, to save herself, as a way of snapping out of her apathy and indifference.

 

RNSL: Your bio says you like to rewrite endings to tv shows and books when you don't like the way they turn out. Can you give us an example? (I personally would have rewritten the ending of Buffy the Vampire Slayer so she ends up with Spike, though I admit that would have made for a much less compelling show.)

KLM: OMG! I would have done EXACTLY THE SAME THING. Spike was my favorite BtVS character. I was so rooting for the Buffy-Spike relationship… and uh, maybe we should get back to things!

See, this is what I’m talking about though. I think what I was doing as a kid, long before the internet, was what fans do now in writing fan fiction. You want to take this character you care about and create another dimension of reality for them. I was just a very sensitive kid, and I didn’t like seeing bad things happen, even to imaginary people, so I’d figure out ways for characters to get their happy endings. 

 

RNSL: Did you decide to write for teens and young people (and why), or is it one of those things where it just happened, and marketing placed your book in YA? 

KLM: For me it’s definitely case of “this is where I fit.” The kind of stories I write, the tone, the way I want my stories to end. I tell you, I’ve read enough books about bleak, middle-aged white guys unable to emotionally connect with the people in their lives to last the rest of my life. I know it’s not fair to say that’s what ALL adult literary fiction is but yikes, it sure takes in a lot of it.

I want to write action, sci-fi, humor, and romance—preferably all at once. And the place to do that, for me anyway, is YA. It just feels like home.

 

RNSL: When you were the age that your target audience is now, were you a reader? What were you reading?

I was an avid mystery reader—mostly Agatha Christie. But actually I think that happened when I was an older teen, say between 17-19. I’m embarrassed to say that I was not a big reader in high school. I mean, beyond what I had to read for school in English class. That might have been because the YA we know today just didn’t exist. It seemed like the whole of YA lit comprised two books: Catcher in the Rye, which I loved for the sarcasm but hated for the message (that growing up = tragedy), and A Separate Peace. I liked things about that story too, but I mean, come on. How many rich kid boarding school stories do we need?

 

RNSL: Cake or pie, or neither? What kind and why?

CAKE. I don’t even get pie. This is an argument that goes on in my household frequently. I find most pie to just be slimy fruit. My husband is a huge pie guy, but I’m like, “GANACHE, OK? When they make a pie with chocolate ganache, then we’ll talk!”

Cake preferences, depending on my mood: carrot, coconut, chocolate ganache, and lemon.

I spend weeks leading up to my birthday thinking about and planning for my cake. I am not screwing around with the cake, I tell you. ;)

 

About the Author

Kristen Lippert-Martin is a practicing geek. She holds an MFA from Columbia University. Her patronus is a platypus, and she prefers Star Trek to Star Wars. Do you really need to know more? I don't. (One of us! One of us!)

Tabula Rasa is her debut book. Her website is www.kristenlippertmartin.com and you can tweet her @KLipMart.


Giveaway Rules:

  1. Open to US and Canada residents only. The last day to enter the giveaway is Sept 29, 2014.
  2. We are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items. 
  3. One set of entries per household please. 
  4. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address. 
  5. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends. 
  6. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner. 
  7. If you have any questions, feel free to email us. You can review our full contest policy here
  8. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find. Thanks!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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4. Banned Books Week

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This week is Banned Books Week!

I almost forgot to post about it, but I saw my friend Yukari had changed her profile pic to the CBLDF logo with Bone, and that was a great reminder. 

Banned Books Week is an annual event to celebrate the freedom to read. I am eternally grateful to my parents for trusting me to be able to make my own reading choices and not policing my reading. I understand if parents want to be involved with their kids' reading choices, but to then try to impose those restrictions on other people's children? Whoa, nellie. I'm so glad that there are people out there creating awareness to combat those who would seek to censor ideas just because they don't agree with them.

You can find more info at www.bannedbooksweek.org and banned comics at www.cbldf.org.

Here are some of my favorite banned or challenged books. Are you surprised at some of them? What are your favorites?

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5. A Bed for Kitty

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A Bed for Kitty by Yasmine Surovec

ISBN 10: 1596438630
ISBN 13: 978-1596438637

Publication date: 23 September 2014 by Roaring Brook Press

Category: Children's Picture Book

Keywords: Cats

Format: Hardcover, ebook

Source: Finished paperback copy from publisher

I dare you not to squee while reading A Bed for Kitty! I adore Yasmine Surovec's Cat vs. Human blog. She doesn't update as often as she used to, but that may be because she is busy making picture books now, and I can't fault her for that! 

Surovec draws upon her extensive cat-mom experience to come up with this adorable picture book. The story is very simple. You can find Kitty sleeping everywhere--in boxes, on books, on random pieces of furniture and clothing--everywhere except her actual bed. Eventually Chloe figures out a solution to get Kitty to sleep in the bed like she's supposed to.

I especially relate to this since it took months before our cat would sleep in the comfy bed we bought for her. This story is true to life! I love this book's design, particularly the endpapers which I think would make brilliant desktop wallpaper. The colors are cheerfully bright, and the humor gently understated. 

For more cat humor, check out Yasmine's blog at www.catversushuman.com.

I received this book for free from Macmillan for review purposes.

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6. Knockout Knits

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Knockout Knits by Laura Nelkin

ISBN 10: 038534578X
ISBN 13: 978-0385345781

Publication date: 2 September 2014 by Potter Craft

Category: Adult nonfiction

Keywords: Knitting, crafts

Format: Paperback, ebook

Source: Finished paperback copy from publisher

 You guys! This book! I can't contain myself. I can't even right now. It's SO good. 

You have to understand, I love cables. I love lace. I love dropped and elongated stitches. I love twists and wraps... and they're all in here. 

It has not one, but two--TWO!--tams. My favorite kind of hat to knit. 

I even learned something new after 13 years of knitting. I'd never heard of a life line before, but now it makes total sense to string a piece of thread through your work at intervals so that if you have to rip out a few rows, you won't lose too much ground.

There is also a great but somewhat scary section on beading. But don't worry, the book reassures me, "All these designs will be beautiful without beads!" So I can maybe attempt the Laden Cowl without before trying my hand at beading.

Ahem.

Laura Nelkin's book of accessories has everything I look for in a knitting book. Gorgeous photography shows off the designs, almost all of which are something I would not only make for myself (no gifts! all mine!) but also look fun and interesting to knit. it's well-organized and easy to read. It offers helpful information about choosing yarn fibers and colors for each project, and the looks are very modern and wearable. I think the techniques in this book will definitely flex my lace and cable muscles. I can barely believe this is her debut book, though I do recognize her style (my friend Stephanie teaches the Mudra Cuff in one of her Knitting University classes).

I'm not a huge fan of knitted jewelry, but I can definitely see myself knocking out a few of the cuffs and bracelets for holiday gifts. Ditto the tams and the great Folly Cloche (which reminds me of something the fabulous Miss Fisher would wear).

The fabulous Miss Phryne Fisher

The fabulous Miss Phryne Fisher

For more photos from the book, go to nelkindesigns.com

For more photos from the book, go to nelkindesigns.com

For myself, the Laden Cowl and Las Cruces Shawl are high up on my list to cast on. Really, the only project I don't ever see myself making are the Bootsy Boot Toppers (only because I am not a boot-wearer, and not anything to do with the pattern itself).

I would definitely recommend Knockout Knits to an intermediate knitter who knows how to read a pattern and has the basics down pat, maybe someone who is a little bored with the same-old same-old drill. You have to be willing to drop and pick up stitches, a scary trick for a beginning knitter who isn't yet comfortable with tensioning and pattern repeats. 

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for review purposes.

For photos of the projects, visit nelkindesigns.com.

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7. Melissa Marr at BN The Grove Recap

See how excited Kimberly is to see Melissa Marr?

See how excited Kimberly is to see Melissa Marr?

Hi, everyone. Last night I went to the Melissa Marr event at Barnes & Noble at The Grove. This was sort of a last minute event. I wasn't planning to go but Kimberly convinced me that it would be the fun thing to do - and she was right. Melissa was there to promote her newest novel, Made For You, a creepy contemporary about a young woman and the serial killer who is obsessed with her.

While I have had the opportunity to meet a lot of authors in the last few years, this was my first time meeting Melissa. I was immediately struck by how energetic and gregarious she was. As she said, she is "very animated" and "extremely caffeinated." It was a small, intimate crowd, which meant that the event wasn't very formal. Melissa talked a bit about herself and about how the new book was inspired by real life events that happened to her when she was in her 20's. Melissa had a stalker, a man who appeared one day claiming to be a police officer. Melissa wisely deflected his attentions but he showed up later that weekend trying to climb into her window for their "date." Unlike the stalker in her novel, Melissa's stalker never tried to kill her or her friends and she eventually moved away where he could not find her. 

She said that the book left her feeling emotionally raw because, in order to make the reader feel what the characters are feeling, she had to pull up those own feelings in herself. She had to bring back the memories and feelings of what it was like to have her own stalker.

Melissa also said that she writes a good serial killer because both her editor and son thought that the sections of the book from the serial killer's point of view where a little too spot on. Her son even proceeded to give her a serial killer quiz while they were grocery shopping. Good news - she passed.

She also let drop the news that there is another Wicked Lovely book in the works. Her daughter was unhappy with the original ending to the series and recently handed her a 60,000 word draft of an alternate book/ending. She plans to edit it and add to it and hopefully publish. The working title for the book is Brightest Vengeance

Melissa also had a bit of movie news for us. The movie is definitely happening and two actors have been cast. Unfortunately she could not divulge their names just yet, but everyone was excited to hear that the movie was moving along.

After more questions, it was time to sign books. Melissa was super gracious and spent a lot of time making conversation with everyone and signing big stacks of books.

We also got to see a mock up of Melissa's new picture book which comes out next spring. The book is entitled Bunny Roo, I Love You and will be released by Penguin. The book was written while she was in the hospital with her adopted infant son, who was working through the symptoms of being exposed to drugs in the womb. The book is illustrated by Teagan White and it's gorgeous.  I can't wait to see this one in person. 

Melissa also told me and Kimberly her pseudonym for a couple of upcoming romance novels she's written. I love a good smutty book and was super excited to hear that Melissa was delving into the romance genre. She said that the books are biker romances, inspired by her days running a biker bar in her youth.

As you can see, Melissa has led a pretty awesome and interesting life. It was a great pleasure to meet her and I am really excited to read Made For You and to see what other goodies she comes out with in the coming year.  Thanks to BN The Grove and Melissa for a fantastic event!


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8. The Sound

US and UK covers

US and UK covers

The Sound by Sarah Alderson

ISBN-10: 1442499338

ISBN-13: 978-1442499331

Publication date: 1 August 2014 by Simon Pulse

Category: Young Adult Contemporary Thriller

Keywords: Summer vacation, Realistic Fiction, Murder

Format: Hardcover, ebook

Source: Review copy provided by Author

17-year-old Londoner Ren Kingston flees a bad breakup for the summer by taking a job as a nanny for a young family vacationing on Nantucket Sound. At first, it seems like paradise: easy work, beautiful scenery, and unsupervised teenage parties. She even manages to attract the attention of handsome, wealthy Jeremy Thorne, which helps to soften the pain of her recent heartbreak. Affairs start to get complicated when she also starts befriending (and maybe falling for) local bad-boy Jesse Miller, but it's no big deal--she gets to go home at the end of the summer.

When bodies (of attractive young foreign au pairs) start turning up in the Sound (just like the summer before), Ren's mom threatens to pull the plug on her plans. Animosity flares up between Jeremy and Jesse--and Ren suspects it has nothing to do with her, and has rather more to do with the fact that Jesse nearly killed one of Jeremy's preppy buddies the previous year.

I really enjoyed this whodunit, though mostly because I found a lot to relate to among the characters. Ren and I have something in common--she's a blogger, though for music rather than books--which made me like her even more. She's funny and easy to care for, even if she seems to get dropped into too-good-to-be-true circumstances. I also really enjoyed the music she listens to (c'mon, Dry the River? I wanted to high-five my Kindle). That, and she gets a crush on a boy named Jesse Miller who just happens to play guitar in a band--dude, that was totally me when I was her age!

I'd really love to see Olivia Cooke play Ren in a film- or tv-movie-version, though I'm not sure who'd make a good Jeremy (and his twin brother, though i swear that doesn't play into the mystery portion of the story) or Jesse for that matter. I confess, in my mind Jesse was a slightly more serious Jake Wyler (as played by Chris Evans 13 years ago in Not Another Teen Movie), but maybe Sam Clafin (who starred with Cooke in The Quiet Ones) would work.

Ahem. Back to the topic at hand.

While I don't expect all other readers in the world to like Ren for those same reasons (I mean, what are the chances you are a funny blogger with a huge crush on Jesse Miller who plays guitar?) I think many readers will enjoy the summer romance, haves-versus-have-nots, slightly-predictable-but-creepy-nonetheless mystery. I thought that despite the Gossip-Girl-iness of it all (something the main character occasionally points out, so meta is she), the relationships felt believable, and Ren finds as many friends as she does foes. My only peeve: why did the US not get the cool UK cover art?

All in all, The Sound is a great summer read for when it's just too bloody hot to think (so basically all of Los Angeles needs to read this book right now).

I received this book for free from Sarah Alderson for review purposes.

 

Alethea

 

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9. Gretchen McNeil & Anna Carey

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Hey all! I actually wasn't able to get to Gretchen McNeil and Anna Carey's launch party on Monday at The Last Bookstore. So, no recap for you (actually, for me either--I'd love to read one, so if you went, leave a link in the comments)!

Instead, I'm posting their upcoming appearances. Are you near one? I hope you get to check them out.

Thursday, September 18th, 2014 at 7:00pm

Not your Mother's Book Club at Books Inc.
601 Van Ness
San Francisco, CA 94102
Anna Carey, Gretchen McNeil, and Catherine Linka (A Girl Called Fearless)

Sunday, September 21st, 2014 at 2:00pm

Mysterious Galaxy
7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd Ste 302
San Diego, CA 92111
Anna Carey & Gretchen McNeil

Epic Reads Fall Tour
Anna Carey with Heather Demetrios (Exquisite Captive), Amy Ewing (The Jewel), Madeleine Roux (Sanctum), and Andrea Portes (Anatomy of a Misfit)

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014 at 6:00pm

Barnes & Noble
3535 US Highway 1 Ste 400
Princeton, NJ 08540

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014 at 6:00pm

Schuler Books & Music
2820 Towne Center Blvd
Lansing, MI 48912

Thursday, October 9th, 2014 at 6:00pm

Wild Rumpus
2720 W 43rd St
Minneapolis, MN 55410

Friday, October 10th, 2014 at 7:00pm

The King's English Bookshop
1511 South 1500 East
Salt Lake City, UT 84105

Saturday, October 11th, 2014 at 3:00pm

Barnes & Noble
2501 W. Happy Valley Rd Ste 20
Phoenix, AZ 85085


Happy book birthday to these wonderful ladies!

About GET EVEN by Gretchen McNeil

The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars in Gretchen McNeil’s witty and suspenseful novel about four disparate girls who join forces to take revenge on high school bullies and create dangerous enemies for themselves in the process.

Bree, Olivia, Kitty, and Margot have nothing in common—at least that’s what they’d like the students and administrators of their elite private school to think. The girls have different goals, different friends, and different lives, but they share one very big secret: They’re all members of Don’t Get Mad, a secret society that anonymously takes revenge on the school’s bullies, mean girls, and tyrannical teachers.

When their latest target ends up dead with a blood-soaked “DGM” card in his hands, the girls realize that they’re not as anonymous as they thought—and that someone now wants revenge on them. Soon the clues are piling up, the police are closing in . . . and everyone has something to lose.

About BLACKBIRD by Anna Carey

A girl wakes up on the train tracks, a subway car barreling down on her. With only minutes to react, she hunches down and the train speeds over her. She doesn’t remember her name, where she is, or how she got there. She has a tattoo on the inside of her right wrist of a blackbird inside a box, letters and numbers printed just below: FNV02198. There is only one thing she knows for sure: people are trying to kill her.

On the run for her life, she tries to untangle who she is and what happened to the girl she used to be. Nothing and no one are what they appear to be. But the truth is more disturbing than she ever imagined.

The Maze Runner series meets Code Name Verity, Blackbird is relentless and action-packed, filled with surprising twists
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10. The Maze Runner Cast Q&A

   

Thank you so much to 20th Century Fox and Big Honcho Media for inviting us to a screening and Q&A with the cast of The Maze Runner. Directed by Wes Ball and based on the YA novel by James Dashner, the film adaptation will be released on Friday, September 19, 2014.

The movie stars Dylan O’Brien as Thomas, Kaya Scodelario as Teresa, Will Poulter as Gally, Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Newt, Aml Ameen as Alby, and Ki Hong Lee as Minho.

After the screening, the main cast (minus Aml Ameen) answered some questions for a mix of bloggers, reviewers, and fans. We hope you enjoy the trailer and event recap, as well as the photos, including stills from the film (used with permission) and photos from the Q&A session by our friend Katie Ferguson (pocketofgreen).

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The Maze Runner follows Thomas (Dylan O'Brien, Teen Wolf), a young man whose memories have been wiped clean before he wakes up in the center of a giant labyrinth. The other boys subsisting in The Glade, the green heart of the maze, especially their de facto leader, Alby (Aml Ameen, Lee Daniels' The Butler) quickly absorb him into their community. Their day-to-day routine is tense, but the boys seem to have organized themselves well enough to get by despite their straitened circumstances. The letters W.C.K.D. are stamped on various things, including the provisions that arrive with each new arrival, but no one can remember what it stands for.

Thomas's fascination with the maze, which at night is filled with monsters called Grievers, arouses distrust in another boy, Gally (Will Poulter, We're The Millers), who blames Thomas for all of the strange occurrences following his appearance. This includes the appearance of the first and only girl, Teresa (Kaya Scodelario, Skins). After one of the runners who goes out daily trying to find a way out of the maze shows signs of having been infected with a zombie-like affliction, events quickly take a downward turn. What is W.C.K.D.? Why are they in the maze? And most importantly, can they get out before it's too late?

Photos by Katie Ferguson

The Maze Runner Cast
 Will Poulter & Dylan O'Brien
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Cast Q&A

Asked if they thought the world ran better with or without adults, Will Poulter remarked on the wide range of ages among the cast members, from then 12-year-old Blake Cooper (Chuck) to Aml Ameen, who is nearing 30. The 21-year-old Poulter talked about how they all got along very well and became very close, then quipped, "Don't get me wrong. Some adults helped us make this."

Throughout the Q&A, the cast members seemed really friendly with each other. Asked what it was like to be on set with "just a bunch of dudes", Kaya Scodelario replied:

“I never felt like the only girl. They never changed the way they acted around me, which I really respected. I didn’t feel like when I walked in the room suddenly they were really polite. They were still dirty and rude and fun.”
— Kaya Scodelario

Dylan O'Brien cut in, saying, "But still polite," and Scodelario agreed. " We just had so much fun as a group... a lot of the boys' girlfriends came on set and sisters and stuff like that. So, there were females to interact with. But in the words of Aml [Ameen], I am quite laddish anyway."

Asked what was the most challenging and fun stunt they had to do on set, O'Brien laughingly recalled a 12-hour day spent hanging from wires, shooting a scene where he's climbing or hanging from vines in the maze: "They would just bring me food. They didn't want to lower me because it would just take a lot more time." He also had some takes where falling leaves and debris from the maze walls kept getting in his eyes, and how the director handled that:

“[Wes Ball]’d just be like I got it, baby. Don’t need a medic. And he’d come over, and he’d literally just take it out of my eye. Before that, I was never someone who was comfortable having someone touch their eyeball. But now I am.”
— Dylan O'Brien

One of the bloggers asked the cast which of their previous characters they've played in other films would survive the longest in the maze, Ki Hong Lee (The Nine Lives of Chloe King), who plays Minho, said none of his previous roles would compare to the characters in the book.

“... if I was personally as Ki Hong in The Maze, I would be freaking out. I’d be like, ‘Just put me in the box. I’m going to stay there. I’ll be friends with the pig, and I’ll be good.’ I would not get out, man. ”
— Ki Hong Lee

The cast talked about running (hate it!),  passionate fans (love them!), and portions of the book that didn't make the cut. O'Brien mentioned the Beetle Blades, scurrying mechanical creatures thought to be spies for the bigger, deadlier Grievers, and how they derailed the story too much and got left out of the final version of the movie. Poulter referred to a gag reel which he hopes will be on the DVD, because it "speaks a lot to our professionalism. It's 20 minutes of us cracking up and not doing our jobs properly."

The whole group also weighed in on the lack of romance in the film. Poulter concluded that there were enough emotions and relationships running among the Gladers themselves, that throwing in a romance amidst the bromance, as Lee called it, would have been really weird. 

Scodelario said, "[Teresa]'s purely about survival. And that's so brave and so kind of against the grain nowadays with female characters in films. So, I really liked that.  And it's like Dylan said, there would be no time for them to be like, oh, let's go for a little walk in the forest together"

"In the Glade," Thomas Brodie-Sangster finished the thought. O'Brien added that he hopes that the flirty scenes they shot don't end up on the DVD. "I think it works without it," agreed Scodelario, followed by nods and murmurs of agreement by her cast mates.


The Maze Runner opens nationwide on Friday, September 19, 2014.

Visit the Official Website

Like ‘The Maze Runner’ on Facebook

Follow @MazeRunnerMovie on Twitter

Follow on Google+InstagramYouTube

Please use the hashtag #MazeRunner

Synopsis: When Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) wakes up trapped in a massive maze with a group of other boys, he has no memory of the outside world other than strange dreams about a mysterious organization known as W.C.K.D. Only by piecing together fragments of his past with clues he discovers in the maze can Thomas hope to uncover his true purpose and a way to escape. Based upon the best-selling novel by James Dashner.

Rated: PG-13
Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Will Poulter, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Aml Ameen, Ki Hong Lee
Directed By: Wes Ball
Produced By: Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, Wyck Godfrey, Marty Bowen

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11. The Grisha Series Giveaway

   

This signed set of Leigh Bardugo's Grisha series could be yours! Shadow & Bone (paperback), Siege & Storm (paperback), and Ruin & Rising (hardcover)... and maybe some other goodies thrown in. What could they be? Buttons? Nail polish? Etherealki-blue kefta not included in the prize pack, though.

We love Leigh so much, we've already put her latest novel, The Dregs (due out summer 2015) on our to-be-read shelves. We cannot wait.

US addresses only (until I properly hit the lottery and can afford worldwide shipping).

Giveaway Rules:

  1. Open to US residents only. Ends 09/21/2014.
  2. We are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items. 
  3. One set of entries per household please. 
  4. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address. 
  5. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends. 
  6. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner. 
  7. If you have any questions, feel free to email us. You can review our full contest policy here
  8. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find. Thanks!
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Good luck!

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12. My Brother's Shadow

My Brother's Shadow by Tom Avery

ISBN-10: 0385384874

ISBN-13: 978-0385384872

Publication date: 9 September 2014 by Schwartz & Wade

Category: Middle Grade Contemporary Fiction

Keywords: Fiction, Realistic, Suicide, Grief

Format: Hardcover, ebook

Source: Review copy provided by Publisher

Kaia is frozen in time since her brother's death. She moves through life in a static emptiness. Her mum is barely there too. Until the day a new boy comes to school. He's wild and untamed, he's a good listener and doesn't care what the other kids think. And he's the friend Kaia needs.

Well written, My Brother's Shadow is a sad tale of a young girl moving through grief and isolation after a traumatic event in her life. Kaia is so well drawn, she is almost sitting next to you, telling you her story of how she meets the mysterious boy, her memories of her family "before" and how this friend is helping her cope with her new world.

I liked the delicate and sparse language. Kaia's voice is clear and her pain is palpable, bringing the reader in immediately. We want to know more about this boy, about Kaia, about her brother and what happened.

At the same time, you're truly frightened to find out.

The story touches upon sensitive topics, but it's important to understand that the real story is about Kaia and how this young girl can handle such an emotional experience. How this event unwinds her mother and how Kaia grows and processes her own feelings differently. Avery does a wonderful job illustrating the heartbreak that follows such events and the hope that has to fight extra hard to be seen.

Overall, I think readers will enjoy the book, in all of it's heaviness and sadness. It's about coming out, moving on, and grabbing a friend's hand.

I received this book for free from Random House for review purposes.

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13. Telephone

Tonight I headed to Once Upon a Time in Montrose with Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy and our 8yo buddy KK. We had dinner and a scoop of ice cream at Black Cow Café, then headed over to the bookstore to see the hilarious Mac Barnett. He read and signed some of his previous books, as well as his latest title, Telephone!

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If you're a picture book groupie like me (I'm going to use that term from now on--it's officially a thing), you'll recognize his name from Extra Yarn (illustrated by Caldecott medalist Jon Klassen) or maybe the middle grade mystery series The Brixton Brothers. You may also recognize Jen Corace's gorgeous watercolor work from such hits as Amy Krouse Rosenthal's Little (Pea, Hoot, Oink) series.

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Anyway, Mac read us a couple of his books, including Extra Yarn and Guess Again. He's a great reader even with kids talking over him. He's also very, very funny. I took an audio recording and you can hear us giggling all over the place.

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I don't think you have to be a knitter to appreciate Extra Yarn, a magical story of giving, greed, and yarnbombing. It's still my favorite. (You can click here to check out our totally awesome event from a few years ago at Unwind in Burbank.)

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We were supposed to play a game of Telephone with all the attendees, but we kind of forgot because we were all so excited about Mac coming for a visit.

He told us about his first book tour ever, with Jon Scieszka (who was on his millionth book tour, in comparison), where they found a really old book that inspired the book Battle Bunny, which they ended up writing together. Illustrator Matthew Myers draws over a rather tame and predictable picture book. You can even download the pages and draw your own version at mybirthdaybunny.com. (You can email them the finished book when you are done modifying it, and the best ones will be posted online!)

Mac also said he decided to be a writer sometime in first or second grade, but he didn't really think about becoming a children's author until he was in college. He said no writers came to his school when he was a kid, though he remembers meeting Ed Emberley once and thinking he had a really gigantic beard. His first picture book was Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem, illustrated by one of my favorite painter/authors: Adam Rex!

Mac Barnett reading Guess Again to a mostly-well-behaved audience

Mac Barnett reading Guess Again to a mostly-well-behaved audience

Rex also illustrated Guess Again, so of course I had to add that to my collection. I have quite a few of his books, including the slightly inappropriate and oft-banned The Dirty Cowboy by Amy Timberlake. (Mac claims he inspired the titular character's appearance, which I find hard to believe--the cowboy's so goofy-looking! Perhaps I'll get  to verify that with Adam someday.)

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The kids at the event were really funny, and one girl even correctly guessed an answer in Guess Again! I think the parents had fun, too. One dad with a little girl said it was their first author signing ever, and they were so thrilled that they might come right back to the bookstore tonight (to see Rosemary Wells of Max & Ruby fame).

We also ran into lovely picture book authors-to-be Carter Higgins (from Design of the Picture Book) and Tina & Carson Kugler (whose In Mary's Garden will be out next March from HMHKids). I can't wait to read what they've written, as well!

I hope you enjoy Mac Barnett's books as much as we do. Check your local bookstore or library (or pop by Once Upon a Time!)

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14. Watch Out for Hug Machine!

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Hi, everyone./ If you don't know who Scott Campbell is, you should really check him out. We here at Read Now Sleep Later are big fans of this author and illustrator and were thrilled to hear that he was having launch party for his new children's book, Hug Machine, at Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra.

There was a big crowd there for the event. Scott started off with a slide show detailing his process for coming up with the idea for and writing the book.

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Above is a page from hit sketch book. Campbell said that he'll sometimes go to the children's section of the bookstore and read a bunch of picture books to get ideas flowing. Then he'll go to a coffee shop and just sketch in his notebook.  He does this for several months and then culls through his notebooks to see if any of the ideas lead him anywhere. Hug Machine started with a page of drawings which depicted a child attached to various people/characters (if you look at the drawing above you can see how he is attached so someone's back in the middle of the page). 

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After coming up with the story and idea, it's time to develop that artwork and look of the book. Above are some early paintings of Hug Machine. This book was mainly done in watercolor paints. Campbell likes to play around with the colors until he comes up with a good palette for the book. 

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Next, Campbell read the entire book aloud to the rapt audience. Above is one of my favorite panels in the book which depicts Hug Machine giving a porcupine a much needed hug. 

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Then it was time for the drawing portion of the show. Campbell let the audience pick who/what Hug Machine would hug. Above is Hug Machine hugging an ice cream sundae.

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Next we had Hug Machine Hugging Scott Campbell while a giraffe, dragon and knight wait in line for their hugs.

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One of my favorites was Hug Machine hugging a Civil War ghost.

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After the drawing portion of the show, Campbell sat down to sign some books. The line was quite long but we were luckily near the front of it.

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Along with displaying original artwork, the show also had a cool interactive Hug Machine. As you can see, Kimberly and Hug Machine became fast friends.

If all this cuteness doesn't make you want to read Hug Machine, then check out the hilarious trailer below. It'll help you get those arm muscles ready for some serious hugging!

We highly recommend Hug Machine to picture book lovers and fans of great art. Hugs for everyone!

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15. Adi Alsaid at BN Americana Recap + Giveaway

Hello! It's Thursday night (though this post is going up on Friday) and I'm popping in to write a quick recap of the super fun event that I just got back from. Barnes and Noble Americana in Glendale hosted Adi Alsaid, debut author of the YA contemporary novel Let's Get Lost. Alexandra Adornetto (Halo, Ghost Town) was also supposed to be at this event but she left unexpectedly before the signing started. This was disappointing to some of the attendants but it meant more time with the lovely Adi Alsaid. 

He started off the event by telling us about his cab driver, a talkative Russian with a Swedish accent who has had an amazing life. Alsaid said that it was people like his can driver that made him want to write let's Get Lost. He has an appreciation for the many interesting and varied people you often meet on road trips. That's one if the reasons why his book is told from the pov of the people that the main character meets and not from her pov. Alsaid likes to write from a perspective that is not his and often writes from multiple points of views. One of the ways he does this is by writing from a female pov. He says that he does it well enough that some people at his publishing house actually thought he was female. He usually knows from the first sentence whether or not his character will be male or female. 

When asked why his main character was going to see the northern lights or if that place had significance, Alsaid said no, that he chose it so that she would have a reason to go on the road trip. However, by the end of the book, the destination does gain significance. And it wasn't until Alsaid wrote the ending from the main charaxter's pov did he understand her reasons. 

Alsaid has only been to one of the locations in his book. He chose places he's never been becausr he prefers to make stuff up. The one place he did visit though was Barnesville, Minnesota.

When asked who some of his favorite books were he are he mentioned books by authors Anne Patchett, Kurt Vonnegut, Jennifer Egan and the Calvin & Hobbes comic strip. He is currently reading Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith (who he called a YA Vonnegut). 

After a few more questions it was time to sign books! Alsaid was really great and didn't mind all of our senseless babbling while he signed our books. And look, we managed to get a rare picture of the entire Read Now Sleep Later team at the signing.

Alethea got to take the Let's Get Lost home for Cypress Park Library. We got quite a few looks while wandering around the Americana with it, but it was /a great conversation starter. And we even think Alethea managed to hand sell a book to the Sprinkles clerk. If you want to see more pics, check our the Facebook album.

Many thanks to BN Americana, Adi Alsaid and Harlequin Teen for putting on a wonderful event. Now that you've made it this far I have a wee giveaway for you. We got a bit of fun swag at the event last night that we thought you guys would like. Included in this pack are a signed ARC of Let's Get Lost (not pictured), a signed poster for Let's Get Lost, a bookmark and a Let's Get Lost luggage tag. This giveaway is US only and ends on 9/13/14. Thanks and good luck!

Giveaway Rules:

  1. Open to US residents only.
  2. We are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items. 
  3. One set of entries per household please. 
  4. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address. 
  5. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends. 
  6. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner. 
  7. If you have any questions, feel free to email us. You can review our full contest policy here
  8. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find. Thanks!
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16. Super Stitches Sewing

Super Stitches Sewing by Nicole Vasbinder

ISBN 10: 0770434797
ISBN 13: 978-0770434793

Publication date: 18 March 2014 by Potter Craft

Category: Adult nonfiction

Keywords: Sewing, crafts

Format: Paperback, ebook

Source: Finished paperback copy from publisher

Never again will I refer to stitches on my sewing machine as "the one that looks like shark teeth" or "the zigzaggy one with the thread on the edge". Super Stitches Sewing is the Rosetta Stone of embroidery hieroglyphics I didn't even know I needed.

Not only does Nicole Vasbinder explain what each stitch looks like, how the machine moves to create it, and what it's used for, she also explains what fabric you are probably going to want to use it with, the right threads/needles, and step-by-step instructions for using them effectively in your sewing. The book is cleverly organized. It gives you alternate names for each stitch, and substitutes in case your machine doesn't have that one. It's also a lot prettier and easier to read than my sewing machine's manual. I especially appreciate the Expert Tips scattered throughout the book--Vasbinder anticipates what problems a beginner might run into and explains how to avoid these pitfalls.

If I had to say one negative thing about the book, it would be that the tools & equipment section I usually expect to see in the beginning of the book is actually in the back. Most of my other sewing books start out with a detailed explanation of terms and items needed for executing each technique. I'm not an expert sewist by any means, in fact I sew infrequently out of fear. So when I started reading and ran into unfamiliar terms like "wing needle" or "overcast foot", I got a little nervous, even though I knew I could probably check Google or YouTube for more info.

Then I reached the end of the hand-stitching chapter and found explanations and diagrams for the various needles, threads, presser feet, and sewing terms mentioned in the book. It even includes explanations of how to change stitches on a manual, mechanical, and a computerized sewing machine. I might actually finish out the year knowing what all the little sliders, knobs, and buttons are for.

Aside from the thoroughness of the book, I appreciate that there's not much in the way of projects to distract you from the information. There's just enough to give you ideas, but not enough to overwhelm and confuse. I think this would be a great tool for a beginner-to-intermediate sewist to make a cloth sampler book of stitches and actually explore how to use a sewing machine beyond the usual straight and zigzag stitches. My first goal: hem a skirt with Straight Blind Hem Stitch (page 30), which I can now stop calling "the one that looks like a bunch of plateaus".

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for review purposes.

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17. Getting The Words Out (7)

Sometimes words are too much, or not enough. For those hard-to-reach places, there are photographs.

I have cats, so it's a given that my Instagram account is full of cat photos. I also love food, especially when it's pretty! I also share my book mail, events, plants, knitting, and anything else I see that looks interesting.

I recently started an Instagram account for the blog, which we'll be using to post photos from the Adi Alsaid & Alexandra Adornetto event tomorrow, so follow us there!

@readnowsleeplater and #readnowsleeplater on Instagram

On Friday, check out my review of SUPER STITCHES SEWING by Nicole Vasbinder from Potter Craft, thanks to #bloggingforbooks #crafting #sewing #handmade #readnowsleeplater #diy #machinesewing #handsewing #embroidery #imm #inmymailbox #stacked #bookmail #bookblog #bookreview #amreading New reviews coming your way! Tomorrow, @kimberlybuggie reviews MADE FOR YOU by Melissa Marr (to be released Sept. 16, 2014 from #HarperTeen #madeforyou #melissamarr #advancereview #yalit #youngadult #readnowsleeplater #bookreview #bookblog #imm #inmymailbox #stacked #bookmail Scored a great bargain book at @Vromansbookstore yesterday! SWEET by Valerie Gordon: great dessert cookbook from Artisan Books/Workman Publishing #readnowsleeplater #nonfiction #cookbook #amreading #desserts #sweet #imm #inmymailbox #stacked #bookhaul Had to get the updated Handmade Marketplace by Kari Chapin from @StoreyPub #readnowsleeplater #handmade #nonfiction #storeybooks #imm #inmymailbox #stacked #amreading Epic mail day! BLACK ICE by Becca Fitzpatrick, out October 7, 2014 from @simonteen #imm #inmymailbox #readnowsleeplater #stacked #simonteen #blackice #beccafitzpatrick #yalit #youngadult #bookmail #bookblog #bookbloggers In our mailbox: A LITTLE SOMETHING DIFFERENT from #swoonreads #readnowsleeplater #imm #inmymailbox #stacked #bookmail #bookblog #bookbloggers #yalit #youngadult

You can follow my (Alethea's) personal account @frootjoos, Thuy @fishgirl182, and Kimberly @kimberlybuggie (though she'll only allow access to people she knows).

If you've got a moment (and an Instagram or Facebook account), please vote for some of my favorite photos on Twenty20

Entrances frootjoos_animals.jpeg frootjoos_action.jpeg frootjoos_dark.jpeg frootjoos_sky.jpeg

Did you know? You can also click on a photo in my gallery and hit the Buy button to see what the image would look like on a t-shirt, canvas, pillow, iPhone cover, magnet, or print. You can buy that, or purchase a digital download of the image!

Hmm... I wonder if Thuy would like a John Carter pillow for Christmas...

Do you take photos? What's your favorite subject? 

If you'd like us to follow you on Instagram, or share the names of your favorite book/food/cat related accounts, leave the usernames in the comments section!

 

Alethea

 

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18. Made for You

Made for You by Melissa Marr

ISBN 10: 0062011197

ISBN 13: 9780062011190

Publication Date: 16 Sept 2014 by HarperCollins

Category: Young Adult Contemporary Fiction

Keywords: Southern, Thriller, Obsession

Format: Hardcover, eBook, Audio

Source: ARC from Publisher

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Eva Tilling is high school royalty. It might not matter in your high school, but in Eva's town, family connections and high society matter greatly. She has the perfect boyfriend and is adored by her friends. So she is clueless why someone would hit her with their car. It must be an accident, right?

There is some great things about this book. Eva for one. She's popular but not mean. She knows she's well respected and liked, mostly because of her family's high social standing, but that doesn't make her a bad girl. She's nice to everyone and although she feels sometimes detached from her friends, she is a good person and truly cannot imagine someone wanting to kill her. As the story progresses, Eva becomes even more likeable. She stands up to her dumb boyfriend, she goes after what she wants, and really comes into her own. 

The book is told from multiple perspectives. I really liked Grace's voice. She's Eva's best friend and it's refreshing to see someone so strong minded. Also, she's a diverse character! (yay!) Grace is not your average best friend side kick. Sure, she has a strong personality, but she doesn't fall into the realm of the funny best friend. She's more of a mature, level headed, I don't take this crap kind of girl. She's the voice of reason and it was a welcome break to see how she saw this little society, from an outsider looking in.

The other point of view is Judge who is Eva's stalker. His voice is menacing, troubled and very dark. The scariest part about Judge is that he continually justifies his actions, making everything seem like it's totally reasonable to behave the way he is behaving. Psycho.

It's Marr's first contemporary fiction book but if I'm honest, I have to say that the magic is missing. The suspense and thrills seem artificial and even though I like Eva and Grace,  I wasn't glued to my seat wondering what happened. Also, there's a bit of romance in there with a kid that's out of their social circle. While Nate is supposed to be dreamy, I found him to be kinda boring and vanilla. The plot was supposed to keep me on the edge of my seat, but I wasn't enthralled.

Bravo to Marr for addressing teenagers and sex. There is some sex in the book and the topic is handled delicately and well. I really appreciated how the characters spoke and viewed sex. It was very believable. 

I think fans of Lisa McMann and Gretchen McNeil will enjoy this thriller. It's in a similar vein and many readers will like the anxious tone and danger.

For me though, I think I'll go back and read the Wicked Lovely series again.

I received this book for free from HarperCollins for review purposes.

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19. 5th Blogaversary Giveaway

I've been blogging on and off since 1998. It's been such a fun and fulfilling part of my life and though I slow down now and then, I never really stop, and probably never will.

Some big things happening on this, the 5th anniversary of my current blog, Read Now Sleep Later:

1) We are going to be switching over to a new blog! readnowsleeplater.com will remain where it is for now, but new posts will only appear on readnowsleeplater.org, so update your bookmarks! We have a new Twitter @rnslbooks, but Facebook and Email followers, no need to switch :) 

2) CleverBee began as a group blog experiment with posts written by myself, Alyson Beecher from Kid Lit Frenzy, and David Yenoki from davidyenoki.com. I've decided to continue on my own, and Read Now Sleep Later will still cover book reviews, events, and giveaways. However, I'll also be blogging about other things I think are cool or interesting under the CleverBee banner. Interested? Click "CleverBee" on the menu above.

3) Giveaways! Oh my gosh so many giveaways. Thanks to all of our followers, new and old, for reading and following our blogs.

Enter with the Rafflecopter widgets below, depending on where you are. Please read our contest policy if you enter any of the giveaways.

Giveaway #1

For our US followers, we have $100 worth of books from the oldest children’s bookstore in America, Once Upon a Time Bookstore (winner’s choice)! Make sure you follow them on Twitter and Facebook

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Giveaway #2

For our non-US followers, we have $50 worth of books from Book Depository (winner’s choice)!

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Giveaway #3

Open to all Etsy shop followers anywhere in the world, 36 Book Geek buttons (a random selection) from my Etsy shop!

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Giveaway #4

Open to all school- or library-affiliated US blog followers, a 10-pack of Live to Read posters (16" x 24")! Keep one for yourself and give the rest of them away to your students, friends, colleagues. (Or keep them all for yourself; we won’t tell!)

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Good luck, and thanks again for your loyalty! We love you!

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20. Knitting Reimagined by Nicky Epstein

KNITTING REIMAGINED by Nicky Epstein

Knitting Reimagined by Nicky Epstein

ISBN 10: 0385346255
ISBN 13: 978-0385346252

Publication date: 03 June 2014 by Potter Craft

Category: Adult nonfiction

Keywords: Knitting, crafts

Format: Hardcover, ebook

Source: Finished hardcover copy from Publisher

 

I usually avoid Nicky Epstein designs, as they frequently don't match the kind of clothes I want to make. I'm a very practical knitter in general; while I love to knit complicated cables and lace, I also like the pieces I create to be things I can wear comfortably all the time, whether I'm going to the office, out and about, or just sitting at home knitting more things. Epstein's designs tend to appear much more precious and frilly than I'd normally wear.

I took a chance that Knitting Reimagined would have at least a couple of projects I could envision wearing, and that's about all I got. I'll agree that the designs are imaginative, playing with construction techniques, turning oddly-shaped sections at weird angles, and utilizing just about every show-offy skill there is: entrelac, intarsia, you name it. However, considering the amount of time it takes to finish a project if your knitting schedule is hampered by things like a day job or other hands-on activity, I don't think there are many pieces I would bother starting. On this very short list are the Crisscross Weave Tank with its braided back strap (p. 92), the dainty Edging Epilogue Dress (p. 162), and maybe, just maybe, the Directional Vest (p. 78), minus the swirly I-cord closure in front. 

One thing I do like about the book is that a "re-imagine it" section appears at the beginning of each pattern. It took me up to the third or fourth pass through this book to really take them to heart, otherwise I wouldn't even have been able to come up with the handful of projects that I might want to make and wear. Even then, occasionally even these miss the mark; on the Quintessential Cable Pullover, for example, it states "You'll want to keep the unique sleeve construction and the flaps..." No, no you won't. This pullover is a busy mess of tight cables, ribs, and flaps that make it look like the upside-down parapets of a castle. Compiled with poufed shoulders, an additional band of cable over each wrist, and a collar (optional, the re-imagine section notes, you can leave it off for "a sleek V-neck"), it's a hot mess of a sweater.

One project I'm still on the fence about is the Buttons and Bows Manteau (p. 124). It's a dress-length jacket in a lightweight mint-green yarn, with tucks adding texture to the skirt of the piece. There are two pink bows adorning the front on either side of the buttoned opening, and another one in back over a pleat to shape the waist. The optional ruffled collar is in the same contrasting color. My first thought is to change the color scheme entirely. The "re-imagine it" note suggests, "Remove bows or add even more to create the look you want." Add even more? Crazy talk. I really like the undulating shape of the tucks, but I'm already considering undertaking this piece in a purple sportweight yarn and replacing the bows with puffy stars to make a sort of deconstructed Lumpy Space Princess outfit for next year's Comic-Con. In other words, I'm not seriously considering making this unless it's part of a costume.

I'll spare you and the designer my descriptions of the projects I didn't like and can't re-imagine into a marginally wearable ensemble; that would just be hurtful snark. I can't decide if some of them are just tragically old-fashioned, or trying and failing to reach into the realm of couture. My modern/pragmatic biases aside, the book itself is fine. Photographs are taken from thoughtful angles and if nothing else, jog the imagination towards "this would look almost OK if..." The instructions and charts are clear, at least the ones that I read through completely for the handful of projects I think I might someday attempt. I can tell that this book really tried to stretch past the boundaries of the typical knitting pattern; it just doesn't quite make it past the edge.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for review purposes.

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21. The Vault of Dreamers

The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O'Brien

ISBN 10: 1596439386
ISBN 13: 9781596439382

Publication date: 16 Sept 2014 by Roaring Brook Press

Category: Young Adult Science Fiction

Keywords: SciFi, Reality Show, Privacy, Dreaming

Format: Hardcover, ebook

Source: ARC from Publisher

For students at The Forge School, every day is more than just a popularity contest. It's the most prestigious arts school in the country, true, but it's also the set of The Forge Show, a reality television series. Students attending Forge give up all of their privacy, except for the half day that they sleep, in exchange for 3 years of first-class creative education and revenue from ad sales, which they can later use to fund college studies.

For Rosie Sinclair, it's the chance to escape a life of poverty and obscurity. Just one problem: she's not very popular, and just before half of the sophomore class gets cut, she skips her sleeping pill so she can watch the rain fall on the dorm at night. Might as well make some good memories before she has to go back to the disused railway car her family calls home.

Except she doesn't get "voted off the island". A series of circumstances results in her blip rank rising high enough to stay. She gets to know a few of the kids in her classes, as well as a kitchen worker, Linus Pitts. But she also discovers that at Forge, not all of what you see is what you get... and there are eyes watching everywhere.

I didn't expect to enjoy this book as much as I did. The conclusion doesn't quite satisfy the outlandish premise, but I did find the journey there gripping and hard to put down. I liked Rosie, thought I felt frustration rising as she tried to unravel the mystery surrounding the school: with so much at stake, why jeopardize her position? And yet, I kept rooting for her through all of her obviously bad decisions, because somehow I felt that doing the wrong thing was really the right thing to do.

This novel raises some great discussion questions:

  • How far would you go to make money and improve your prospects for success?
  • How important is privacy to you? Are there instances in which you would give up your right to privacy? How is our privacy invaded on a daily basis, and what makes it ok/not ok?
  • What are dreams? How does the novel play with the different meanings of the word?
  • When Rosie makes decisions, is she influenced by their potential effect on her blip rank? If she is, is that wrong? Or is she just playing the game as it's supposed to be played?
  • What is the purpose of reality television? Think about this from several angles: as a subject on the show, as a producer, or as an audience member.

This book caused me at least one sleepless night. The secretiveness of the school's staff, the cinematic pace of the action, and the near-plausibility of the setup will tingle many a reader's spine.

I received this book for free from Macmillan for review purposes.

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Alethea

 

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22. Gone Girl

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Unabridged audiobook

Read by Julia Whelan and Kirby Heyborne

Publication date: 05 June 2012 by Random House Audio

Category: Adult Mystery Thriller Suspense

Keywords: Kidnapping, Murder, Crime

Format: Hardcover, ebook, audiobook

Source: Purchased from Audible.com

Having read Gillian Flynn's debut, Sharp Objects, I was really looking forward to her nightmarish account of a marriage gone completely to hell. An unemployed writer, Nick Dunne, drags his silver-spoon-fed, New York City born-and-bred wife Amy to his hometown in Missouri to help out his aging parents. Their relationship shreds apart over a combination of money troubles, petty arguments, and deep-seated resentments. On their fifth wedding anniversary, when Nick comes home to an empty house, he becomes the chief suspect in Amy's disappearance and possible murder. 

While the first part felt a bit slow, dragging along with two really unlikeable main characters, the second part blew up, took off, and didn't slow down until the last 30 minutes or so. The self-referential, inside-jokey-ness of the plot and dialogue kept me hooked, even though at times I wasn't quite sure who I was rooting for--Amy, the victimized wife, or Nick, the put-upon husband? The twist comes early, but then keeps on twisting until you can't see the end. The ending chilled me, though it left me wanting a different outcome.

I'm really looking forward to the film version from David Fincher. While I didn't like the ending of the novel, I hear the third act has been rewritten for the movie, and I look forward to the possibility of getting a more satisfying ending. I think Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck (a man with "a face you want to punch", as the character of Nick is described) are perfectly cast. 

The audiobook readers, Julia Whelan (Amy) and Kirby Heyborne (Nick) sound like they're really having fun on this production. Not only do they get to say the darndest things, they get to imbue the material with such vitriol and attitude that the last 2/3rds of the audiobook sounds virtually unstoppable. I seriously had to force myself to stop listening and go to sleep so that I wouldn't be a total wreck at work the next day. I'd definitely listen to other audiobooks they read.

Flynn writes her characters' voices with flair, shifting into their different moods and personas quickly and easily. She throws out so many red herrings, you hardly suspect that more than one of them--heck, almost all of them--turn out to be real. All in all, Gone Girl was exactly the escapist thriller I wanted for a zingy summer read.

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23. Watch Out, Hollywood! Blog Tour

We're featuring the second book in the Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child--Watch Out, Hollywood!  Read on for a quick interview with the author and a chance to win a copy of the books.

Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child cover.jpg Watch Out Hollywood! More Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child cover.jpg

About the Book

Hilarious tween heroine Charlie C. Cooper—reformed bully, misguided fashionista, and so-called middle child—is back! This sequel to Confessions of a So-called Middle Child will delight fans of Louise Rennison, Mean Girls, and Harriet the Spy.

Charlie's adventures offer a fresh look at middle school, bullying, and mean girls. In Book Two, Charlie navigates sudden celebrity and auditions for a television series, but a little white lie may endanger the one friendship Charlie can truly count on—and her connection to swoon-worthy crush Bobby! Poignant and seriously funny, Charlie's account of her dilemma is one all tweens will relate to.

Charlie knows what it feels like to be stuck in the middle, but it's finally her time to shine. After saving her friend Marta in the old Houdini tunnels of Los Angeles, Charlie's become a local hero, gained sudden celebrity, and *MIGHT* just become a TV star! But will Charlie let her newfound fame go to her head? Watch out, Hollywood!

Q&A with Maria T. Lennon

RNSL: What's the most important thing you try to emphasize when you write a story like Charlie's? Is it humor and fun, a life lesson, or a balance of several aspects?

MTL: When you write a book I think you need to have skin in the game—to quote Jonathan Franzen. It has to mean something. So, when I started writing about Charlie I wanted to write a story about a young girl trying to figure out who she was and how she fits in. Kids all try to see how they fit in, and they’ll try on a variety of different identities to see which one fits. Am I an athlete? Am I a brain? Am I—wait I’m none of these things. Then what? Am I bad? Am I the troublemaker? That’s the girl who interests me. The girl who just can’t find the thing that fits. So, it begins with a girl, there has to be a point and, of course, humor. Humor is everything in life.

RNSL: Where do you get your sense of humor?

MTL: My father. He was so funny—like hold-your-stomach funny. He had one of the driest, funniest senses of humor I’ve ever come across and thankfully I think we’ve inherited it by osmosis. No matter what we went through as kids—and we went through a lot—he had us laughing. And we still laugh all the time.

RNSL: Have you always been a writer? Tell us how you got started on the path that led you to your current career.

MTL: Yes. Always. First it was notes slipped under my mother’s door to apologize when I did something bad, and then when I went to school in England all I did was write essay after essay. I had great teachers and they supported my efforts.

RNSL: Is there a book or screenplay out there that you love so much, you wish you had been the one to write it? (I'll tell you mine: The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger--the book, NOT the so-called movie!)

MTL: Million Dollar Baby and Brokeback Mountain are, in my humble opinion, perfection.

RNSL: If you could live anywhere else in the world except Los Angeles, where would it be and why?

MTL: In my mind there is always an act three. Act one: Get your life together, figure out who you are and what you want to be. Act two: Build a family and a life. And then Act three—do whatever the heck you like. Now, I’m still in act two but when act three comes along I’d like to have a house in the south of Italy. My husband is from Italy and we lived there for a long time before moving back to LA and having children. Life by the sea there is a good life. 

About the Author

Maria T. Lennon is a graduate of the London School of Economics, a novelist, a screenwriter, and the author of Confessions of a So-called Middle Child, the first book featuring the irrepressible Charlie C. Cooper. When not driving one of her four children to school or volunteering at school libraries, she can be found sitting in a parked car, a café, or a library, writing novels, travel articles, or just passed out. To learn more, and to download a free curiculum guide, visit her website: http://confessionsofasocalledmiddlechild.com/.

Blog Tour Schedule

Follow all of the stops on Maria Lennon’s blog tour!

Wed, Aug 13 - The Hiding Spot
Mon, Aug 18 - Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Tues, Aug 19 - The Book Monsters
Wed, Aug 20 - The Children's Book Review
Thurs, Aug 21 - Kid Lit Frenzy
Fri, Aug 22 - Booking Mama
Mon, Aug 25 - Read Now, Sleep Later
Tues, Aug 26 - Once upon a Story
Wed, Aug 27 - The Late Bloomer's Book Blog
Thurs, Aug 28 - The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia
Fri, Aug 29 - Beauty and the Bookshelf

Giveaway

One lucky winner will receive both books featuring Charlie C. Cooper--Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child, new in paperback, and Watch Out, Hollywood! More Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child, in hardcover! (U.S. addresses only.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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24. If I Stay - Movie Review

If I Stay

Release date: 22 August 2014

Directed by: R. J. Cutler

Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Mireille Enos, Jamie Blackley

Based on the novel If I Stay by Gayle Forman

DiNovi Pictures/Warner Bros.

Based on Gayle Forman's best-selling young adult novel, If I Stay follows talented young cellist Mia Hall (Chloë Grace Moretz) after her family is involved in a fatal car accident. Her spirit wanders the halls of the hospital where her body lies in a coma, watching her loved ones grieve, remembering her life, and trying to decide whether she will wake up or go towards the light.

While the film adaptation is fairly faithful to the events of the novel, the forgettable dialogue fails to hit the right resonance. Lip-biting Mia comes across as stuck-up, pretentious, and flat--a disservice to Moretz, whose Hit-Girl character from the Kick-Ass movies proves she is capable of a wider range of expression. Her handsome rocker boyfriend Adam (the scrumptious Jamie Blackley) is by turns charming and cheesy. Their on-screen attraction smolders, but moments that should have flared fizzle instead. Fans of the book might swoon over their mawkish declarations of love, but the screenplay produces nothing even remotely as memorable or quotable as The Fault in Our Stars's simple but heartfelt "Okay? Okay."

The Halls's family life is much more compelling than Mia's budding romance. The adults surrounding her are drummer-turned-teacher dad Denny (Joshua Leonard), riot-grrrl-turned-travel-agent mom Kat (Mireille Enos), and the ever-supportive Gramps (Stacy Keach). Enos burns with pent-up energy, from her vibrant growl of a voice to her flaming hair to her staccato walk. Leonard's eyes light up with awe and pride as Denny realizes his daughter is a much more talented musician than he will ever be. Keach's bedside scene is the only one that moves me to tears: Gramps pours his heartbreak out and, just for a moment, pierces the veil between himself and Mia's lingering soul. 

A killer soundtrack could have saved If I Stay from its own snoozefest. It's serviceable, don't get me wrong. The poignant Saint-Saëns "Le Cygne", other cello pieces, and even the songs composed for Adam's fictional band Willamette Stone manage to imbue some otherwise lifeless scenes. But for a story set in musically rich Portland, Oregon, one has to wonder why no Portlandian bands are on the soundtrack.

Some visual choices were also a tad confusing: the outfit Mia wears for their snow-day outing is much more suited to a breezy California winter than snowy Oregon; a tight, too-bright close-up of Mia screaming in the hospital's hallway frames her more like a spoiled brat having a tantrum than a genuinely distraught young adult who has lost everything she holds dear. Top that off with Moretz's face super-imposed on someone else's body whenever Mia has to play the cello, and you have a hot mess of a movie.

I wanted to like it, I really did. But everything was too clean, while the audience was reminded now and then that life is messy, and that that's just how it is. Adam's tidy rehearsal space, perfectly-coiffed Mia (who looks like she spends an hour at the salon every morning before school), and the Halls's too-neat cottage would have benefited from a little grunge to make the setting more believable. In the end, I'd rather have watched a not-so-pretty cellist with medium acting chops, a script that better translates the emotions and not the plot, and a less-glossy production.

If I Stay is in theaters now.

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25. September 2014 Event Calendar

It's a new month which means new events! We hope you can make it out to some of this awesome author events coming to the Southern California area. If you don't live in SoCal, check your local bookshops to see if these authors are coming your way. :)

Wednesday - September 3, 2014 at 7pm
Michelle Gagnon
Don't Let Go

Barnes & Noble The Grove
The Grove at Farmers Market
189 The Grove Drive Suite K 30
Los Angeles, CA 90036
tel 323-525-0270
event page

Thursday - September 4, 2014 at 7pm
Adi Alsaid & Alexandra Adornetto
Let's Get Lost; Ghost House

Barnes & Noble Americana
210 Americana Way, Glendale CA 91210
tel 818-545-9146
event page

Thursday - September 4, 2014 at 7pm
Josephine Angelini
Trial by Fire

Barnes & Noble The Grove
The Grove at Farmers Market
189 The Grove Drive Suite K 30
Los Angeles, CA 90036
tel 323-525-0270
event page

Saturday - September 6, 2014 at 7pm
Scott Campbell
Hug Machine

Nucleus Gallery
210 East Main Street
Alhambra, CA 91801
tel 626-458-7482
event page

Tuesday - September 9, 2014 at 7pm
Mac Barnett
Telephone

Once Upon a Time Bookstore
2207 Honolulu Ave
Montrose Shopping Park
Montrose, CA 91020
tel 818-248-9668
event page

Saturday - September 13, 2014 at 2pm
Edith Cohn
Spirit's Key

Children's Book World
10580 1/2 West Pico Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90064
tel 310-559-BOOK
event page

Monday - September 15, 2014 at 7pm
Gretchen McNeil and Anna Carey
Get Even and Blackbird

The Last Bookstore
453 S Spring St
Los Angeles, CA 
tel 213-488-0599
event page

Monday - September 15, 2014 at 7pm
Danielle Fishel
Normally This Would Be a Cause for Concern

Barnes & Noble The Grove
The Grove at Farmers Market
189 The Grove Drive Suite K 30
Los Angeles, CA 90036
tel 323-525-0270
event page

Wednesday - September 24, 2014 at 4pm
LAPL Teen Author Reading Series
Carrie Arcos, Gretchen McNeil, Cam Baity, Ben Zelkowicz, Lauren Miller, hosted by Cecil Castellucci

LAPL Junipero Serra Branch
4607 S Main Street
Los Angeles, CA 90037
tel 323-234-1685
event page

 

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