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1. Station Eleven (2014)

Station Eleven. Emily St. John Mandel. 2014. Knopf Doubleday. 352 pages. [Source: Library]

The King stood in a pool of blue light, unmoored. This was act 4 of King Lear, a winter night at the Elgin Theatre in Toronto. 

Did I love Station Eleven? Yes. Did I love, love, love it? I'm almost sure of it. Only rereading it a year or so from now will answer that question definitively. But regardless of if it was love or LOVE, Station Eleven is a fascinating, absorbing read. It isn't exactly chronological in its storytelling, yet, I found it easy enough to follow. Its storytelling--the form of it, almost reminds me of LOST. It tells both the story of civilization's collapse and civilization's rebuilding. Readers meet a handful of characters then and now.

The "then" sections perhaps center around the character of Arthur Leander, an actor, a celebrity. Chapters focus in on significant, dramatic moments of his life. Not necessarily in chronological order. And not always from his point of view. Readers meet two of his three ex-wives, his son, his (former) best friend, his lawyer, etc. The novel actually opens with Arthur's death on stage. One young witness to his death is a young girl, Kirsten. Another is a former paparazzi turned paramedic.

The "now" sections center on the Traveling Symphony. Kirsten is one of the actors/performers in The Traveling Symphony. The group travels--horses pulling trucks, I believe--from place to place (town to town) performing. They perform music. They perform Shakespeare.

As I said, the focus is on the collapse of society and civilization. What life might be like if 98% of the population died from a terrible plague/disease within a few weeks. In this book, it's the "Georgian flu." What would life be like without modern conveniences--gas and fuel, electricity, telephones, television, internet, etc.

The book is beautifully written. I liked the world-building. I especially liked Miranda's creation of the graphic novels Station Eleven. I liked what little description we get of Dr. Eleven and his situation. I wouldn't have minded more. It actually would be a graphic novel that I'd want to read if it existed. I liked what the two graphic novels meant to Kirsten.

I would definitely recommend this one.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2. The 11 Types Of People You Meet In Book Club - Courtesy of Bustle.com


When I found this article on Bette Lee Crosby's Site, I just had to share.

What type are you?  Find out here.

I think I qualify as The Quiet Kind.  I read every book but don't have much to say.  I just listen.  :)


Book Image Courtesy of:

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/that-old-book-smell-is-a-mix-of-grass-and-vanilla-710038/?no-ist

 

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3. 2015 Power Political Book Award Winners

Revolt on the Right by Matthew Goodwin and Robert Ford won the Paddy Power Political Book Awards this year. The two were awarded with a £10,000 prize.

The award recognizes “the very best in political writing and publishing.” The awards include ten categories chosen by a panel of political celebrity judges and the prizes were donated by Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC.

Alan Johnson’s memoir Please, Mister PostmanLuke Harding’s The Snowden Files; and Simon Danczuk Smile for the Camera were also in the running for the top award at the event. Follow the jump to see the complete list of winners.

2015 Power Political Book Award Winners

Political Book of the Year: Revolt on the Right: Explaining Support for the Radical Right in Britain by Robert Ford & Matthew Goodwin (Routledge)

Polemic of the Year: An Inconvenient Genocide: Who Now Remembers the Armenians? by Geoffrey Robertson QC (Biteback Publishing)

International Affairs Book of the Year:Women of the World: The Rise of the Female Diplomat by Helen McCarthy (Bloomsbury Publishing)

Political History Book of the Year: Modernity Britain: Book Two: A Shake of the Dice 1959–62 by David Kynaston (Bloomsbury Publishing)

Political Biography of the Year: Roy Jenkins by John Campbell (Jonathan Cape)

World War One Book of the Year: The World’s War by David Olusoga (Head of Zeus)

Political Humour and Satire Book of the Year: The Coalition Book by Martin Rowson (SelfMadeHero)

Debut Political Book of the Year: City of Lies: Love, Sex, Death and the Search for Truth in Tehran by Ramita Navai (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

Political Fiction Book of the Year: Acts of Omission by Terry Stiastny (John Murray)

Practical Politics Book of the Year: The ‘Too Difficult’ Box by Charles Clarke (Biteback Publishing)

 

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4. Veronica Grech

Veronica Grech

After years of working in the field of education, Veronica Grech decided to pursue her true calling, illustration.  Inspired by her love for folk art and the age of exploration, she creates whimsical works brimming with color and life.

 

Veronica Grech

Veronica Grech

Veronica Grech

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5. Haven't I see you someplace before? More dueling nape covers

There is something so alluring about the nape of the neck and a bun. Just begs to be taken down.
Unknownimagesimages 12.41.07 PM

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6. The 100 most sought after out-of-print books of 2014

Today we published the 2014 Bookfinder.com Report which features the 100 most sought after out-of-print books in America.  The big surprise this year annual report was that after years on the throne the Queen of Pop (Madonna)’s photographic escapade "Sex" was finally knocked off the top of the list, and the book(s) that took its place may surprise you.  There were in fact two, and you can read about them here.  What I wanted to talk about on the blog, however, are some of the usual suspects there were some interesting additions and subtractions to this year’s list.

Back In-Print:

Labyrinth-smith-2014
2014 edition

Avid readers will notice that A.C.H Smith’s Labyrinth novelization is noticeably missing from the top end of the report; the book has been a part of the BookFinder report since 2010 and was finally re-published in April as Jim Henson’s Labyrinth and contains updated cover art.  I’m not sure the books target age group would have any idea who David Bowie is anyway.  According to reviews the books both stay quite close to the movie’s plot line however the novel replaces Bowie’s musical interludes with additional dialogue; and Smith also draws out the dialogue in a number of scenes.

Another graduation was In A Dark Place: The Story of a True Haunting by Ray Garton who’s book has been on the BookFinder.com Report since 2008.  The fact that it was republished December 31st 2014 left me on the fence as to whether I should remove it from this year’s list, but considering precious few of you would have gotten to read an in-print copy in 2014 I decided to leave it on this year.  In 2009 the book became the basis for the hit film The Haunting in Connecticut (starring Virginia Madsen).

New to the BookFinder.com Report

An American Exodus: A Record of Human Erosion by Dorothea Lange this book was featured heavily in the photographer’s episode of PBS’s American Masters series (snippet below) which aired late August 2014.  The full episode covered Lange’s five decades photographic work which documented Great Depression, the Dust Bowl and World War II Japanese internment camps and more.  You can find a wide array of Dorothea Lange’s other work on BookFinder.com.

Another new, and timely, entry to the list was Margin of Safety by Seth Klarman.  The books author, who has been singled out by Forbes as one of the most successful hedge fund managers of recent years, was quoted numerous times this year after his 2013 year end investor letter was leaked online.  In the letter he preaches caution and warns of today’s stock markets being too bubbly, and that today's investors should take warning.  The fact that his track record for posting huge growth has remained in tact all these years has lead to his 1991 out-of-print value investing opus to fetch four figures, when you can find it.

Every year I find stories about these books buried within the list, and every year I also miss some amazing stories.  Read the full list and let us know any of your interesting stories about the books within.

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7. Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Dan Brereton

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Dan Brereton broke into the comics scene in the late 80’s/early 90’s with books like The Black Terror from Eclipse, and The Psycho from DC Comics. His distinct painted art style stood out among the other comics being published at that time. In 1995 Brereton introduced his creator-owned series The Nocturnals to the world. The Nocturnals is a pulp style horror series about a bunch of supernatural crime fighters, starring a cast of colorful characters like Doc Horror, his daughter Evening AKA Halloween Girl, Firelion(a revived victim of spontaneous human combustion), and many, many more.

The Nocturnals are celebrating their 20th Anniversary with a special KickStarter campaign for their next graphic novel The Sinister Path. There’s less than 2 days left as I write this, so hurry over there, if you’re interested.

Other works of note by Dan Brereton are Giantkiller, Batman: Thrillkiller, Legends of the World’s Finest, and The Last Battle, just to name a few.

Brereton has been nominated for 5 Eisner Awards, and has won an Inkpot Award.

You can keep up with the latest Dan Brereton news, and browse more artwork on his website here.

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website comicstavern.com - Andy Yates

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8. Ready For A Gag? And, NO -I Do NOT Mean It Like That!!

Back in the early 1990s I wrote  single gags to go into European newspapers and magazines for, amongst others, the German Baaske Agency.  Got paid once and heard no more since -these could be in constant reprint and I'd never know it!

Anyway, I scanned some on the old 1990s computer so quality ain't great but here -see if they give you a smile!

Artist on these was John "Sepp" Schiltz.








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9. Harts Pass No. 237

Design something to succeed, and it probably will. Mess with that Griz when you don't have a plan or any prior experience with Griz-like situations... and your confidence may take a hit!

Wrapped up a fun comics workshop with the Methow Elementary 5th graders last week. I always forget to take photos of these residencies in action, but I will post some of the student comics when I get them all collected again (we're making a book) next week!


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10. Public Speaking

Here are some hints to help you survive public speaking at an event.

http://writershelpingwriters.net/2014/11/3-tricks-surviving-public-speaking-event/

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11. Sketchbook "Somethings"

It is developing into A Year of Somethings. That is, a year made up of many "read something", "write something", "make something" and "share something" bits. I'm still leaning into a more sustainable way of doing the sharing part, at least when it comes to this blog. Here are some patterns I created in my sketchbook this month:

Sketchbook patterns #sketchbook #yearofthespark

A photo posted by Lisa Firke (@lisafirkecreative) on

Another all-over pattern. #sketchbook #yearofthespark

A photo posted by Lisa Firke (@lisafirkecreative) on

Night and day leaf pattern. #sketchbook #yearofthespark #inky

A photo posted by Lisa Firke (@lisafirkecreative) on

Last one today. A more muted all-over leaf pattern. #sketchbook #yearofthespark

A photo posted by Lisa Firke (@lisafirkecreative) on

Those of you who have been following the INKY 500 will see that the preoccupation with overall leaf patterns rendered in brush pen continues!

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12. relatable-images: feeling sad? look at this baby animal blog!



relatable-images:

feeling sad? look at this baby animal blog!



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13. Live Blogging from ALA Midwinter 2015 #alamw15

MW15_webbanner_950x175It’s almost time for the ALA Midwinter Meetings! Are you #alscleftbehind and unable to make it to Chicago? Are you wondering how you can keep up with all that’s going on? We’ve got you covered! Check the ALSC Blog for photos, videos and information about what’s going on at Midwinter. You can also check in on Twitter; just track the hashtag #alamw15.

Seventeen bloggers have committed to offering short, frequent posts throughout the conference. They are:

  • Alyson Feldman-Piltch
  • Amy Musser
  • Amy Sinnett
  • Andrew Medlar
  • Ashley Waring
  • Barb Langridge
  • Dan Bostrom
  • Elisabeth Marrocolla
  • Gesse Stark-Smith
  • Gwen Vanderhage
  • Karen Choy
  • Kim Alberts
  • Linda Ward-Callaghan
  • Lisa Nowlain
  • Mary Voors
  • Melina Easter
  • Tessa M. Schmidt

Let me be the first to thank this wonderful group of volunteers!

Are there activities you hope we cover? Let us know in the comments below.

The post Live Blogging from ALA Midwinter 2015 #alamw15 appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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14. Trajectory Aims to Improve Book Discovery

Digital book distribution firm Trajectory has created a new algorithm that aims to make book discovery better online.

The tool users metadata and keywords to scan the texts of eBooks in order to give readers and book buyers book recommendations. Using its “Natural Language Processing Engine,” the tool categorizes books on a complex level with the promise to understand the personality of a book. The engine then uses this three-dimensional understanding of a text to make recommendations for other books that a reader might be interested in. It’s not unlike what you might experience on Netflix or Amazon.

This new service is now available for book retailers, as well as libraries and schools to license.

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15. Snow big deal?

Well, yesterday's snow storm got us a day off from school, but the forecast promised us that it would be;

"A Storm of Historic Proportions."

Sure, we got quite a lot of white fluffiness sprinkled across our lawns, but in the end, and for
New York City, history will not remember "Winter Storm Juno" as one for the books.


Average snowfall around the country, and the world for that matter, varies.  However, you might  want to read about a really crazy storm that hit New York City.  A storm of historic proportions?  One for the books?




This is the book for you!  Jim Murphy's Blizzard!, is a true account of a real storm that hit Manhattan in March of 1888.  Now, please remember, here was a time when there were snow giant plows, no snow blowers, no trucks equipped with salt for the roads.  Weather forecasting was not anywhere near the science it is today.  In other words, no one saw this coming.  So how bad was it?


It snowed for 36 hours, and while the general accumulation of snow hit about 30 inches (a little under an inch an hour) some of the snow drifts hit as high as 50 inches!  Can you imagine what that looked like?



Here are a few pictures to help you out.        
-Miss Jessikah                                                                           
Snow drifts reached close to 50 inches!
The Snow Fell for about 36 hours!
 That means, almost an inch of snow fell each hour that the storm raged on!


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16. TOON THURSDAY: New and Probably Not Improved!

New cartoon today, as promised! I've had the sketch of this one sitting around for at least a week. I couldn't not draw this one. It made me snicker. Um, why, yes, it IS semi-autobiographical... Enjoy. This work is copyrighted material. All... Read the rest of this post

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17. Graphic Design

FINAL Unity logos RGB 1-01 

Our Next Chapter was the capital campaign program for Unity of Fort Lauderdale.

I designed the 12-page booklet, and miscellaneous collateral pieces. I created all the vector images as well. The photographs were shot by someone else.

The puzzle theme was exciting to figure out. I am especially thrilled to now know how to take any image and map it to interlocking jigsaw puzzle pieces. Most puzzle graphics I see sort of cheat by not having the image flow across the puzzle pieces. I know the secret to making this happen

      

Related Stories

 

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18. Happy Birthdays to My Eldests

In November, Blondechick turned 22 on the 22nd--her "golden birthday." We had a party with all "gold" foods (yellow and orange) and also had a quiz on her favorite things ("Things Blondechick Thinks Are Golden").


And a week ago, our oldest turned 24! His only requests were pecan pie instead of birthday cake, and he wanted the whole family to watch "How to Train Your Dragon 2" with him. He also asked his dad to take him and B15 to Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner. It's the simple things!

In honor of their missed birthdays--a quick update. 

Blondechick has been working at a law firm since September, training to become a paralegal--and she absolutely loves it! Such an answer to prayer. She has been living alone, essentially, on the second floor of a friends' home, but she is about to move into a house with 4 other girls from her church--another answer to prayer! These girls not only cook and eat meals together, they pray and worship together too, so she is excited for that kind of fellowship! She remains involved with the church she began attending last year, when she was enrolled in its School of Worship. She continues to have her ups and downs, but she keeps clinging to Jesus through it all--praise God! We are thankful for how God faithfully keeps working in her life.

Bantam24 still lives at home and still works at a dollar store, usually just one day a week, where he stocks shelves from 5 AM to 10 AM. He may not be their most productive employee, but he is reliable! He sets his alarm for 3:30 AM and has never overslept. Instead of paying us rent, he contributes service at home. It is wonderful to have his help running kids around, picking up groceries, vacuuming, putting out the trash weekly and staying on top of the daily dishes. He runs daily on the treadmill and is at his lowest weight in years. He spends a lot of time gaming and editing/contributing graphic images for Halopedia and Destinypedia. He has many online friends that he games with, and he even began witnessing to one, a depressed veteran of Iraq.

We have recently applied for Social Security Income for him, since it doesn't seem like he's going to be very capable of supporting himself if something were to happen to both of us. We had a lot of testing done and it clearly supports our case. It was sad and sobering to read the report. Yet it made me so very grateful to God that B24 lives a life that is much richer than his diagnosis and abilities would indicate. He enjoys his family, and we enjoy him and his quirks so much. Even though he gets argumentative sometimes about helping, he feels needed and appreciated. (He has told others that his family really needs him--and it's the truth!) God knew what He was doing when he gave us B24 first!

The transition from having dependent children to having young adults hasn't been really smooth with these two (and we still need prayer, if you are so inclined). But God has been so faithful to walk with them and with us through these seasons.

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19. Writing Advice From Virginia Woolf: INFOGRAPHIC

EssaymamaWhat’s your favorite Virginia Woolf book? The team at EssayMama.com has created an infographic called “Top 10 Writing Tips from the Desk of Virginia Woolf.”

Some of the advice featured on the image includes keeping a diary, going on walks, and forging innovative paths. We’ve embedded the full infographic below for you to explore further—what do you think?

virginia woolf infographic

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20. Catalogging Consortium

Lots of great titles from lots of great small press publishers in the 2015 Consortium catalog - here are the ones that caught my eye with some catalog copy to describe them:

Three Kinds of Motion: Kerouac, Pollock and the Making of the American Highways by Riley Hanick (Sarabande Books). In 1943, Peggy Guggenheim commissioned a mural from Jackson Pollock to hang in the entryway of her Manhattan townhouse. It was the largest Pollock canvas she would ever own, and four years later she gave it to a small Midwestern institution with no place to put it. When the original scroll of On the Road goes on tour across the country, it lands at the same Iowa museum housing Peggy's Pollock, revitalizing Riley Hanick's adolescent fascination with the author. Alongside these two narrative threads, Hanick revisits Dwight D. Eisenhower's quest to build America's first interstate highway system. When catastrophic rains flood the Iowa highways with their famous allure and history of conquest, they also threaten the museum and its precious mural. In Three Kinds of Motion, his razor-sharp, funny, and intensely vulnerable book-length essay, Hanick moves deftly between his three subjects. He delivers a story with breathtaking ingenuity.

The Shark That Walks on Land....and Other Strange But True Tales of Mysterious Sea Creatures by Michael Bright (Biteback Publishing). When you dive into the sea, do you ever wonder what's down there, beneath you, poised to take an inquisitive bite? Author of Jaws Peter Benchley and film director Steven Spielberg certainly did, for below the waves lies a world we neither see nor understand; an alien world where we are but the briefest of visitors. The Shark that Walks on Land uncovers tales of ancient and modern mariners, with stories of sea serpents, mermaids and mermen, sea dragons, and the true identity of the legendary Kraken. But this book contains more than just a medley of maritime myths and mysteries for marine biologists; it celebrates wonderful discoveries by blending the unknown and the familiar in an entertaining miscellany of facts, figures, and anecdotes about the myriad creatures that inhabit the oceans. Along the way we meet the giants, the most dangerous, the oddballs, and the record breakers; and the shark that really does walk on land!

Enormous Smallness: The Story of E.E. Cummings by Matthew Burgess, Illus by Kris Di Giacomo (Enchanted Lion Books). Here E.E.'s life is presented in a way that will make children curious about him and will lead them to play with words and ask plenty of questions as well. Lively and informative, the book also presents some of Cummings's most wonderful poems, integrating them seamlessly into the story to give the reader the music of his voice and a spirited, sensitive introduction to his poetry.

In keeping with the epigraph of the book -- "It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are," Matthew Burgess's narrative emphasizes the bravery it takes to follow one's own vision and the encouragement E.E. received to do just that.


Mischief and Malice
by Berthe Amos (Lizzie Skurnick Books).
Set in New Orleans, Louisiana, on the eve of World War II, Mischief and Malice is a brand new work from an iconic figure in young adult literature. Following the death of her Aunt Eveline, fourteen-year old Addie; who we first met in Berthe Amoss's classic Secret Lives; is now living with her Aunt Tooise, Uncle Henry, and her longtime rival cousin, Sandra Lee. A new family has just moved into Addie's former house, including a young girl who is just Addie's age. Meanwhile, Louis, the father of Tom, Addie's lifelong neighbor and best friend, suddenly returns after having disappeared when Tom was a baby. Between school dances, organizing a Christmas play, fretting about her hair, and a blossoming romance with Tom, Addie stumbles upon a mystery buried in the Great Catch All, an ancient giant armoire filled with heirlooms of her family's past, which holds a devastating secret that could destroy Louis and Tom's lives. Once again, Berthe Amoss has created an indelible portrait of a young girl coming of age in prewar New Orleans.

The Astrologer's Daughter by Rebecca Lim (Text Publishing Company). Avicenna Crowe's mother is missing.

The police suspect foul play. Joanne is an astrologer, predicting strangers' futures from their star charts. Maybe one of her clients had a bad reading?

But Avicenna has inherited the gift. Armed with Joanne's journal, she begins her own investigation that leads into the city's dark underworld. The clock is ticking, and as each clue unravels Avicenna finds her life ever more in danger.


The Keeper's Daughter
by Jean-Francois Caron, Translated by Don Wilson (Talonbooks)
. Young Dorothea is appointed by the tourist bureau to direct a documentary film re-enacting life at a lighthouse off Quebec's North Shore in the 1940s and '50s. To obtain material for the film, she is advised to interview an old woman, Rose Brouillard, the daughter of a fisherman who grew up on a nearby island in the St. Lawrence. Rose is finally tracked down in Montreal. She is now old: her memory and grasp of reality are hazy; nevertheless she tells her story and takes Dorothea back to scenes from her childhood. We see fishermen on the docks with their nets, hard-at-work villagers with shirtsleeves rolled up to the elbow, leafy gardens and tree-lined streets, all recreated from Rose's failing memory. The problem is that many of these scenes are invented, not real. Does that matter? Or are the stories we tell more important?

(This one is listed as "Finding Rose" in the catalog but "The Keeper's Daughter" at the publisher and online booksellers - not sure what it really is, though.)

Load Poems Like Guns: Women's Poetry from Herat, Afghanistan compiled & translated by Farzana Marie (Holy Cow! Press). A groundbreaking collection of poetry by eight contemporary Afghan women poets in English translation en face with the original Persian Dari text. These poets live in Herat, the ancient epicenter of literature and the arts.


The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain (Gallic Books). Bookseller Laurent Letellier comes across an abandoned handbag on a Parisian street and feels impelled to return it to its owner.

The bag contains no money, phone or contact information. But a small red notebook with handwritten thoughts and jottings reveals a person that Laurent would very much like to meet.

Without even a name to go on, and only a few of her possessions to help him, how is he to find one woman in a city of millions?

The Little Free Library Book by Margret Aldrich (Coffee House Press). Take a book. Return a book." In 2009, Todd Bol built the first Little Free Library as a memorial to his mom. Five years later, this simple idea to promote literacy and encourage community has become a movement. Little Free Libraries; freestanding front-yard book exchanges; now number twenty thousand in seventy countries. The Little Free Library Book tells the history of these charming libraries, gathers quirky and poignant firsthand stories from owners, provides a resource guide for how to best use your Little Free Library, and delights readers with color images of the most creative and inspired LFLs around.

Fanny Says by Nickole Brown (BOA Editions, Ltd). In this "unleashed love song" to her late grandmother, Nickole Brown brings her brassy, bawdy, tough-as-new-rope grandmother to life. With hair teased to Jesus, glued-on false eyelashes, and a white Cadillac Eldorado with atomic-red leather seats, Fanny isn't your typical granny in a rocking chair. Instead, think of a character that looks a lot like Eva Gabor in Green Acres, but tinted with a shadow of Sylvia Plath.

Chernobyl Strawberries by Vesna Goldsworthy (Wilmington Square Books). How would you make sense of your life if you thought it might end tomorrow? In this captivating and best-selling memoir, Vesna Goldsworthy tells the story of herself, her family, and her early life in her lost country. There follows marriage, a move to England, and a successful media and academic career, then a cancer diagnosis and its unresolved consequences. A profoundly moving, comic, and original account by a stunning literary talent.

The Surfacing by Cormac James (Bellevue Literary Press). Far from civilization, on the hunt for Sir John Franklins recently lost Northwest Passage expedition, Lieutenant Morgan and his crew find themselves trapped in ever-hardening Arctic ice that threatens to break apart their ship. When Morgan realizes that a stowaway will give birth to his child in the frozen wilderness, he finds new clarity and courage to lead his men across a bleak expanse as shifting, stubborn, and treacherous as human nature itself.

Well Fed, Flat Broke by Emily Wright (Arsenal Pulp Press). This collection of 120 recipes ranges from the simple (perfect scrambled eggs, rice and lentils) to the sublime (Orecchiette with White Beans and Sausage, Mustard-fried Chicken). Chapters are organized by ingredient so that you can easily build a meal from what you have on hand. Well Fed, Flat Broke has flavours to please every palette including Thai, Dutch, Indonesian, and Latin American-inspired recipes such as Kimchi Pancakes, Salvadoran Roast Chicken, and Pantry Kedgeree, reflecting a diverse array of affordable ingredients and products in grocery stores, markets, and delis.

Emily is a working mother and wife who lives with a picky toddler in one of Canada's most expensive cities. She offers readers real-talk about food, strategic shopping tips, sound advice for picky eaters, and suggestions on how to build a well-stocked, yet inexpensive pantry. Cooking every night can be challenging for busy families who are short on time and lean in budget; Emily includes plenty of one-pot dishes to keep everyone healthy, full, and happy.

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21. Melville House to Publish U.S. Edition of The Establishment

EstablishmentMelville House plans to publish the U.S. edition of Owen Jones’ The Establishment: And How They Get Away With It.

A release date has been scheduled for May 2015. The book originally came out in the United Kingdom back in September 2014.

According to the press release, “the book, which details the rise of the far right and the leftist backlash and its impact on power structures in British and European politics, has gotten blanket coverage in UK media and made numerous ‘best books of the year’ lists…being published in the U.S. just days before the most consequential UK elections in decades, The Establishment is a sweeping, controversial, and hugely acclaimed account of wealth and political power from one of the UK’s brightest media stars.”

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22. nine picture book topics to avoid

By Leslie Helakoski Boyds Mills Press

By Leslie Helakoski
Boyds Mills Press

While we’re still knee-deep in winter, it helps to have something GREAT to look forward to. Here’s what I high-as-a-snowbank highly recommend . . .

Children’s book author Darcy Pattison and children’s book author/illustrator Leslie Helakoski will co-lead a unique workshop, PB&J: Picture Books and All That Jazz at Highlight’s Foundation in Honesdale, PA on April 23-26, 2015. Join them and learn how to make your story rise above the fierce competition.

For a taste of what’s to come at the PB&J workshop, here’s a wisdom-filled article written by Darcy and Leslie . . . 

When people think about writing a children’s picture book, clichéd topics pop up. These classic themes are based on universal childhood experiences. It’s not that these topics are taboo. Instead, they are so common that competition is fierce. As they say, children’s publishing is a bunny-eat-bunny world.

Here are the top 9 topics to avoid. Also listed is a children’s book, published within the last 5 years, that is a fresh take on the topic. If you are considering writing a picture book about one of these topics, it will be a harder sale unless you can find an original way to approach it.

1. First Day of School. Everyone wants to get kids ready for the first day of school, and it’s hard to find a fresh approach.

Updated title that works:

Dad’s First Day (July, 2015), written and illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka.

2. Tooth fairy. People have 32 teeth, and losing baby teeth in early elementary school is a universal experience. The tooth fairy often has a place in a family story, which makes it a perennial topic for a children’s book.

Updated title that works:

The Dinosaur Tooth Fairy (2013) by Martha Brockenbrough, illustrated by Israel Sanchez.

3. Christmas/Halloween. Major holidays are often the focus on children’s books.

Updated Titles that Work:

Christmas Parade (2012) written and illustrated by Sandra Boynton.

Smudge and the Book of Mistakes: A Christmas Story (2013), by Gloria Whelan, illustrated by Stephen Costanza.

 4. Wanting a pet. From gerbils to dogs, cats to chinchillas—humans love their pets. It’s a natural topic for a children’s book.

Updated titles that work:

I Want a Dog: My Opinion Essay (2015) by Darcy Pattison, illustrated by Ewa O’Neill.

I Want a Cat: My Opinion Essay (2015) by Darcy Pattison, illustrated by Ewa O’Neill.

5. Dealing with a disability. With today’s cultural emphasis on diversity (#WeNeedDiversity), libraries are looking for stories with disabled characters.

Updated title that works:

My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay (2015) by Cari Best, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton.

6. Visiting Grandma and Grandpa. Who buys books for children? Grandparents! And of course, grandparents want to encourage a close relationship with their grandchildren. Do this topic with humor and honest emotion and you’ll have a winner.

Updated titles that work:

How to Babysit a Grandpa (2012) by Jean Reagan, illustrated by Lee Wildish.

How to Babysit a Grandma (2014) by Jean Reagan, illustrated by Lee Wildish.

 7. New baby in the family. Young children often have to move over and make room for a new sibling. Books helps them work through the complicated emotions when a new baby arrives

Updated title that works:

You Were the First (2013) by Patricia MacLachlan, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin.

8. Barnyard stories/rural nostalgia. The rural roots of America are ever-present in children’s books. One of the first things kids learn is the sounds made by farm animals. From there, chickens and pigs rule!

Updated title that works:

Big Pigs (2014), written and illustrated by Leslie Helakoski.

9. Bedtime stories. Kids who are read to become better readers. What better time to read than bedtime? And if the story ends on a quiet note that encourages the kids to go to sleep faster, parents will love you.

Updated title that works:

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site (2012) by Sherry Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Tom Lictenheld.

Not convinced that you should avoid these topics? Then put on your A-Game! Because the competition for children’s picture books about these topics is fierce. Yet, if you write a fantastic story about one of these topics, it might just become a classic.


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23. FOODFIC: Please Welcome Joshua Done, Author of The Exile Empire

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7236682-the-exile-empire



A few days ago I received a pleasant surprise in the form of a Goodreads message from Shelley. She wanted to know if I would be willing to talk about the food in my story and the significance and story behind it. Immediately I thought of one meal that stands out in The Exile Empire. It took an invasion, thousands of lives, and the formation of an entirely new economy for the new recipe to exist.

One of the primary components in The Exile Empire is obviously the fact that humans have been dispersed from their old area of space. The problem with such diaspora in the vastness of interstellar space filled with hostile enemies is the relative lack of resources, and chief among them food! This had become more than an inconvenience by the time the major events of the story began to unfold and the human exiles were getting quite desperate.

But that was when they found a new system with edible plants and animals a-plenty. There was only one catch. The planet was in a system crawling with hostile enemies that had just conquered the natives on a nearby planet and the humans would have to fight their way to the new food source.

After the initial scouts are attacked the remaining human fleet springs into action, moving to protect both their people and the precious food on the planet below. After the carnage that ensues there is still a major problem in that most of the edibles are either in raw, indigestible form, or spread around the planet in roaming herds that weren’t big enough to feed everyone.

That is when Karen, an economic and business savant from the old civilization, was brought in. Over the course of several chapters she takes the rag-tag remnants of a mixed civilian and military fleet and is able to create a fully functioning economy and foodstuffs supply chain in only a few days. Now, of course such a supply line would be highly limited in what it could produce. The two main foods that resulted from this endeavor are a grain called a sand nut and meat from a creature called an Abe.

The sand nuts had to be refined because in their raw form they contain a powerful laxative (something a few of the initial colonists lacking caution found out in humorous fashion). The Abes were similar to earth cattle and because of this similarity people started calling them Alien Bison when they first encountered them. This lead to the abbreviation ‘A’ ‘B’ which Wen said aloud sounds like “ABE” and after a few rounds of repetition the name stuck. The end result of all these shenanigans was a pita-bread-like wrap around an Abe meat filling.

These resulting Sh’in Wraps (named for the planet) quickly became a staple in the new civilization and they appear in subsequent stories throughout the series. It is amazing how much history and work can go into the simplest of foods, and science fiction, since it involves people and supply chains, should be no exception. I think that the Sh’in Wraps are an excellent example of simple food created by a complex setting.


Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Joshua!


You can find Joshua here:


 




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24. NOW! New KING BRONTY, "Captain Crocker's Signal!"

More action is going on below decks on the "Scurvy Shark"! Prior to this post the crew of cut throat Dinosaur Pirates waited for Cap'n Crockers' signal to attack, to kidnap King Bronty and Prince Podoee.








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25. Christianity 101

Living in our rental house is not the only change we’ve been making in Roy’s life – we’ve been teaching him Christianity 101.

He’s been going to church with first his mom (Kevin’s grandmother) and then with Kevin’s parents all his life. And I’m not knocking church – it’s great if you’re getting something out of it. And by that I mean, you’re studying God’s word and learning how, and why, God wants you to live a certain way. It’s a great place to fellowship with other Christians and to make life-long friends. God wants us to fellowship with other Christians.

However. If you dread Church, or you’re not getting anything out of the lectures pastors give, then perhaps it’s time to step back and re-evaluate why you’re going or why you’re not receiving God’s wonderful messages.

That’s where we are with Roy. Roy’s churches have continued to use the King’s James version of the bible. And there’s nothing wrong with the King’s James version, it’s just an antiquated language that is not used anymore. It’s hard for people to understand because we don’t use that language anymore. And because people don’t understand the language (or the culture in which the Bible was written), then people just assume that the Bible is not meant for us to understand.

AND THAT’S BULL HOCKEY.

God WANTS us to know how to read the Bible. He wants us to live our lives by rules laid out in the Bible. He gives us examples of how to live our lives and what can happen if we choose NOT to live by his rules. If we don’t live our lives by His rules, then he is unable to protect us against Satan’s tricks. And of course, it’s Satan’s goals to trick people into thinking they are incapable of understanding the Bible because then he will swoop in and create havoc in our lives.

So. Roy has made the decision of NOT going to church for a while and sitting with us when we have Bible study at our house every Sunday evening after dinner. We watch a few videos from the Truth or Tradition YouTube channel and then we all take turns reading out of the New International Version of the Bible. He made the decision to not go to church because he never felt like he understood anything that was taught. Too many churches focus on the hell and damnation of the Bible and though that is part of God’s word, it’s a VERY SMALL part of God’s word. Or worse, pastors will pick and choose verses out of the Bible, taking them completely out of context, and use them to their own advantage. The first time I realized that was happening was the last time I set foot in a church. I have NO INTENTIONS of going back to church – ever.

God is about love and teaching us humility, compassion, forgiveness and HOW TO LOVE OTHERS. How is anyone expected to be inspired or moved into helping others when all they are fed every Sunday is scary crap about Satan and being fried alive in hell?

Think about it.

Anyway. After watching a video, I asked Kevin to bring up one of their older videos (we have it set up where we watch YouTube on our TV and Kevin controls it with his phone – TECHNOLOGY RULES!) where they talk about HOW to read and understand the bible. Kevin brought up this video:

We’ve been watching Truth or Tradition videos for as long as they’ve been making them and somehow, we missed this one. What a COOL summary of the Bible!!

And we started talking about buying Roy a Bible that he can understand – more like a children’s bible. I wouldn’t mind having a children’s bible to read the basic stories myself. I’m not even sure I know all of the basic stories, to be perfectly honest.

I think all of us, deep down, are searching for something in our lives. Whether that’s the meaning of life, how to make our marriages successful, how to raise a God-fearing child (and God-fearing is actually, more accurately translated, into RESPECTING GOD), how to seek forgiveness or how to cultivate patience … learning God’s word, living a Godly life, tends to satisfy that hunger and produce peace.

Don’t believe me? Try it. What have you got to lose?

*Oh, by the way – I just found out they have an iPhone/Android app. Which I downloaded and am looking forward to using on-the-go.


Filed under: Abundant Life

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