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<<August 2015>>
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1. Four ways in which policy-makers resolve moral dilemmas

Moral dilemmas are ubiquitous in modern democratic societies. Can we protect the bodily integrity of women and their unborn children at the same time? How can we protect the free will of adults while at the same time denying them to engage in self-harming activities, like (assisted) suicide or drug use?

The post Four ways in which policy-makers resolve moral dilemmas appeared first on OUPblog.

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2. WEEKEND LINKS- Great Links, Reads and Activities to #ReadYourWorld

Welcome to Weekend Links! As one of the co-founders of Multicultural Children’s Book Day and I pleased to share that planning for the 2016 event is well under way! We are working like busy little bees to update the MCCBD website, add new book-inspired events like our upcoming Classroom Reading Challenge (more details later on that).

Reading is always an important part of our children’s lives no matter what time of year it is and so is helping our young readers learn about other cultures, religions and traditions through the pages of these books. Here are some great booklists and resources that I have discovered during my www travels this week:

Where I Belong Book Review at Kitchen Counter Chronicle

multicultural childrens book
10 Examples of How Reading and Writing Go Together Like Peanut Butter & Jelly at Literate for Life


A Dozen Diverse Picture Books with All Kinds of Families at Welcoming Schools

A 1,000 year old Persian tale from the “Book of Kings” find out more about this Green Musician. Check out this new multicultural release at Wisdom Tales Press.

multicultural childrens books

A wonderful story of hope. Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes


It’s hard to be what you can’t see-MulticulturalChildrens Books at Huff Post Education

Raising World Explorers: Ten Creative Experiments that Prove that Travel is a State of Mind at Suitcases and Sippy Cups.

10 favorite reasons to read diversely. What are yours? (Lee and Low)

10 reasons to read diverse books

Something You May Have Missed at JIAB

Pippi’s Longstockings

Did you see my post this week with my Pippi Longstock book review (one of my favs) but also a fun and unique activitiy on making Pippi’s “Longstocking!” See the full story HERE.

pippi longstockings activity


Follow me on Pinterest!
Follow Valarie Budayr @Jump into a Book’s board Jump Into a Book Kidlit Booklists on Pinterest. Follow Valarie Budayr @Jump into a Book’s board A Year In The Secret Garden on Pinterest.

The post WEEKEND LINKS- Great Links, Reads and Activities to #ReadYourWorld appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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3. My tweets

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4. Jane Casey, author of HIDE AND SEEK, on knowing when a book is wrong

HIDE AND SEEK is the third book in the Jess Tennant Mysteries series, and we're thrilled to have Jane Casey here to share more about it.

Jane, what was your inspiration for writing HIDE AND SEEK?

Hide and Seek is the third book in the Jess Tennant crime series and I wanted to write about mother-daughter relationships because Jess and her mother are extremely close. Jess seems like the responsible one a lot of the time, and she has to deal with the fall-out from her mother’s decisions, but there’s a huge amount of love between the two of them. There’s another mother and daughter in Hide and Seek who have a very different dynamic, one that is quite dangerous and unstable. I’m also fascinated by those people who live by exploiting others. I think there’s some truly evil behaviour in this book!

Read more »

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5. Illustration Friday's "WORK"

Renee never thought of her job as work. She got to fly to the most exotic places and stay in gorgeous hotels. She was only reminded when passing out peanuts, liquor, and giving instruction in case of emergency. Have a great week everyone!

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6. The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves – 2 More Days!

The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba of The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.  This is a weekly meme where we can share news of the week and highlight new books received.

I’m officially freaking out about my surgery on Tuesday.  I still don’t know what time I have to be at the hospital.  I had to stop taking the anti-inflammatory, so I can’t even sit down without a great deal of pain and effort.  Every time I speak with the surgical coordinator, I have a mini meltdown.  She is the one who said dogs are dirty and I can’t be near them for weeks after the surgery, or that I couldn’t skip in home PT in favor of going to the therapist I already know and who knows my goals and history (the surgeon said it was fine!).  Last week she said I needed to have a walker, and that the crutches I have aren’t recommended, and my cane can’t be used until Week 2.  I have decided that I will take her advice with a grain of salt and discuss everything with the hospital PT and my PT.

Friday night I had to run Poppy up to the vet.  Her little toes are red and inflamed, and I was worried they would become infected.  I won’t be able to take her  next week, so the vet fit us in.  We both suspect that she is suffering from allergies, and because of my surgery, she suggested an antibiotic shot that works for 2 weeks, instead of worrying about having to give her pills.  It was a little more expensive, but since I don’t know what time Dean will be home on Tuesday, or what I’ll be home Wednesday, I thought it was a good idea.  She’s also on an anti-inflammatory and Benadryl.  I discovered avocados a few weeks ago (I share a little bit with the duppers), so I don’t know if that may be the problem.  There are several trees in the yard dropping obnoxious berries and fruits, so that might the culprit, too.

While there, I asked the vet about having to stay away from the dogs after my surgery.  She laughed.  She told me to wash, wash, wash my hands, and to keep the dogs off the incision, and all will be fine.  She said there is a huge psychological advantage to having pets near during recovery, and not to worry about it.  She did advise that I change the sheets every few days, and be careful that they don’t jump on me.  Phew!

Yesterday, Dean and I stocked up on a few last minute essentials, and then went to Buca’s for lunch.  I had a 20% off coupon, so we ordered several of their small plates, which still feed more than 2,  a big bowl of pasta, and dessert (to go!).  Now we have enough leftovers that I don’t have to worry about him starving while I’m in the hospital.  Today, after watching the horses work, I’m meeting my uncle and some of his friends for dinner at Maggiano’s for a little pre-surgical party.  Since they have a enjoy one dinner here and take one home, I’ll have a little stockpile of food to look forward to when I get sprung from the hospital.  I hope I have an appetite!  Between that and what I’ve prepared and put in the freezer, I should be good for the next two weeks, when I will be feeling the worst.  The thought of having to cook while I feel like crap just isn’t appealing, and it was stressing me out.  Problem – SOLVED!

My Kindle Fire is charged and ready to go.  I have a couple audio books in case I don’t feel like reading, as well as Mercy Thompson #2 and Fair Game, Bk #3 in the Alpha and Omega series.  Between some upcoming fantasy novels I have eARCs for, my new Harlequins, and access to digital downloads at the library, I should keep from going stir crazy, too!

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews to share new additions to our library.  Click here to learn more about it.

New Arrivals at the Café:

Lots of great 2016 releases!  Harlequin had a BOGO free sale, so I grabbed a couple of titles there, too.

Assassin’s Heart

Reign of Shadows

The Girl from Everywhere

The Great Hunt

Burning Glass


Should’ve Said No

Sword and Verse

The Shadow Queen

Kissed by a Cowboy

The Nanny Plan

The Lawman Lassos a Family

Daddy Wore Spurs

The Texas Ranger’s Bride

The Cowboy and the Lady (I HATE this cover!  It is on so many books!)

The Cowboy Returns

Her Favorite Cowboy

A great big thanks to the publishers for their continued support!

What did you get? Please leave links and share!

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7. Are You A BIG Comic Toys Fan? Lifesize Artstatues from Geraplica Sculptoys

 If you are then take a look at these!

When I saw these images I thought it w3as that old modeller's trick of posing a figure at the right angle and distance.  Boy, was I wrong!

Here is what Toysrevil http://toysrevil.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/lifesize-artstatues-from-geraplica.html writes:

"Lifesize Artstatues - in fiberglass - for sale at php 12,000 from artist sculptor Gerald Asilo of Geraplica Sculptoys - ASILO's sculpture for a "January Promo" price. Batman is a sure bet, Wonder Woman is a shoo-in, while I am on personally the fence with Superman LOL
"Buy this statues for 10,000 each plus 2,000 for delivery charge in a total of 12,000 pesos only , you can now save 6,000 pesos. Original price php18,000, now on sale for php 12,000" 
Contact them via their Facebook or email direct to g_asilo@yahoo.com

According to Gerald on his Linkedin page:

"In the 1990s my father was a sculptor for the Japanese company Craftwood. The company asked him to sculpt their own design like life-size Disney characters, Loony Toons, etc.  That was 1996 and I was only 12 years of age at that time. I was also practising how to sculpt because it's in the blood to sculpt.   Here I am now, following my father's legacy and sculpting my own designs and also what any client requires."

I just have to say that these are freaking incredible!  Now some of those "comic book cafes" need things like this!  Imagine inviting a friend into your apartment and finding The Avengers or JLA standing there -or maybe even a Swamp Thing or Man-Thing to go in your garden!

Man, if I ever get rich!!!

More images at the Face Book page!


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8. "Red Horse Dancing"

Red Horse Dancing is a small (8" x 8") watercolor painting on paper. It was created from my imagination, and it's part of my "Daily Something" series.

More of my artwork can be seen on my website and my Etsy shop

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9. Swarming Mayflies

While we were in Blois, we experienced a natural phenomena - swarming Mayflies. I'd never seen anything like it. The swarms were as thick as snow, but more like a blizzard because they flew every which way, including into your hair. ACK! They only live for a day and fell to the ground in drifts of white, which crunched when you walked over them (or drove over them as you'll hear in the video). The next morning, they all lay dead with their little white wings sticking up to the sky. What a sight! CLICK HERE or the image to go see the video on YouTube.
I also found this lovely poem by George Crabbe...

In shoals the hours their constant numbers bring,
Like insects waking to th' advancing spring;
Which take their rise from grubs obscene that lie
In shallow pools, or thence ascend the sky:
Such are these base ephemeras, so born
To die before the next revolving morn.
—George Crabbe, "The Newspaper", 1785

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10. A Girl Named Disaster

A Girl Named Disaster. Nancy Farmer. 1996. Scholastic. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I read A Girl Named Disaster and Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind the same week. That fact definitely influenced my thoughts on both books--fair or not. Reading is subjective, after all.

Did I enjoy reading A Girl Named Disaster? Yes and no. I didn't exactly "enjoy" it. I found it a bit slow at the beginning, and, a bit rushed at the end. There were times I definitely found it interesting, but, I never really found myself loving it.

Nancy Farmer's A Girl Named Disaster is set in Mozambique and Zimbabwe in the early 1980s. Nhamo has an interesting relationship to the rest of the family. She dearly, dearly loves her grandmother (Ambuya), and is in return beloved of her grandmother. (She is in fact probably the favorite granddaughter.) But the rest of her family is a different story. They seem to blame Nhamo for the circumstances of her birth. Her mother returned home from school (high school??? college???) pregnant and married to a "useless" man, a man named Proud. Neither is in her life when the novel opens. Her mother died when Nhamo was a toddler--eaten by a leopard. Her father had disappeared even before that. Nhamo is, without a doubt, a hard worker. Yes, she is slightly bitter that her tasks are more difficult and time-consuming than her slightly-older cousin's--Masvita. But she isn't hate-filled and overflowing with attitude either.

Like Shabanu, A Girl Named Disaster introduces readers to a culture where marriage happens VERY early in life for girls--twelve to fourteen, and where a woman's worth is very much tied to her ability to produce children, particularly sons. Like Shabanu, A Girl Named Disaster features a heroine who is to be sacrificed via marriage. Like Shabanu, this marriage is MOST, MOST unwelcome. Dare I say this would-be marriage sounds even more unpleasant than the one in Shabanu--and I never thought I'd say that. Like Shabanu, the heroine makes the only choice she can under the circumstances....

Nhamo runs away from home in an attempt to make it across the border to Zimbabwe. Once there, she'll pretend to be Catholic--her mother attended a Catholic school--and seek refuge with nuns. Is she actually Catholic? No. Of course not. Her ideas of who Jesus is are far from sound, to say the least. But that is not exactly the point of A Girl Named Disaster.

Her journey to Zimbabwe is....much longer than she imagined it ever could be. It is not a journey of a few days or even a few weeks. MONTHS go by with Nhamo still struggling to reach her destination. It is her fight for SURVIVAL. It is definitely nature versus Nhamo...with Nhamo receiving a bit of help from the spiritual world.

Will Nhamo's life be better--easier--in Zimbabwe? Will she find her father? Will she find her father's family? Will she find welcome with them? What will happen to her if she doesn't find them? What will become of her? What are her chances of a decent life, a good life???

A Girl Named Disaster is slightly less depressing than Shabanu. That's not fair. It's not. The ending sees Nhamo with a bit of hope and a chance at a future.

Still neither book "feels" like a children's book. And when I do think of Newbery or Newbery Honor, I tend to think CHILDREN'S BOOK more than anything else. Arranged marriages, child-adult marriages, don't really come to mind. Still exposure to diverse titles can be a good thing. And both books offer readers something to think about.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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11. Mountain lit. prize

       The Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature is ... exactly that, "an annual award to authors of literary works, the central theme of which is concerned with mountains" (and worth £3,000).
       They've now announced their shortlist for the 2015 prize -- though I am a bit disappointed by the similarity in covers (blue and snow dominate), as well as the fact that a book with the subtitle: "A Life Rocked by Mountains" passed muster ..... Read the rest of this post

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12. I will draw your social media avatar—It's Tough to Lose Your Balloon contest!

It's Tough to Lose Your Balloon will soon be on bookshelves everywhere!

To celebrate, I am running a little contest. What can you win? I will draw your social media avatar in the style of the illustrations from my new book! Three winners will get digital art of their likeness—they'll be reading and holding a balloon of their favorite color!

How do you enter? Sign in to Rafflecopter below and follow the prompts for how you can rack up virtual raffle tickets!

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13. Why We Gather: The Importance of a Classroom Meeting Area

You might be so completely used to your classroom arrangement that it seems normal to you -- but it maybe could be better.

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14. Revise and Resubmit

What does it really mean when an agent or editor asks you to revise and resubmit your manuscript?


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15. The New Screen Savers - featuring Stan!

Recently, Stan was a guest on The New Screen Savers. It's a show about computers and technology which used to be the headline show for cable's Tech TV channel. Since the channel's demise, the show has gone live online. If there's a geek in your life, you can be sure he or she knows about it. Stan has been an avid fan of the show since it's inception.
     Stan had a question about saving my enormous art files to the Cloud - something we've been trying to figure out for some time now. I work digitally and my illustration files are enormous - often about a half meg each. I can't keep them all on my laptop because it has limited space. So we've been employing external hard drives. It works, but it's not ideal from an access or safety standpoint. Cloud storage is available out there for average-sized files, but we've not found an affordable service available for files like mine.
     Stan turned to the experts. He submitted his question earlier in the summer and the show's producers got back to him a few weeks ago. The show is filmed live in California and now that we're in Scotland that meant an 8-hour time difference in screening. So Stan set up Skype to talk to Leo and the guys at our new kitchen counter and was filmed at about midnight.
     The show is now archived online and you can see Stan do his bit. Stan comes on at the 57:00 mark. CLICK HERE to go see it, and Go Stan!

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16. Our Week in Books: August 23-30

Books We Read This Week - Here in the Bonny Glen


Sophie's Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller & Anne WilsdorfSophie’s Squash by  Pat Zietlow Miller & Anne Wilsdorf. Read to: my boys.

If you only pick up one new picture book for fall, let this be it. Here’s what I wrote in a Picture Book Spotlight post last year:

We first read this absolute gem of a picture book last year during the CYBILs. Fell so utterly in love with it—the lot of us—that a library copy wouldn’t do; we had to have our own. Huck and Rilla were overjoyed when I pulled it out this morning. Sophie’s instant bond with a butternut squash is utterly believable, and not just because Huck formed a similar attachment once upon a time, long before we encountered this book! “Bernice” becomes Sophie’s best friend and closest confidant, all through a bright and beautiful autumn. But as winter approaches, Bernice begins to get a bit squishy about the edges. Sophie’s parents make gentle attempts to convince Sophie it’s time to let her friend go, but since their suggestions involve treating the squash like, you know, a squash, Sophie’s having none of it. Her own solution is sweet and heartwarming, and it makes my kids sigh that contented sigh that means everything has come out exactly right.


How to Read a Story by Kate MessnerHow to Read a Story by Kate Messner, illustrated by Mark Siegel. Read to: my boys.

Well, I was sure I had posted a video of Huck reading this book last March. He was enchanted by the story from the first—a little step-by-step guide to enjoying a book with your best reading buddy, charmingly illustrated—and one day I caught him reading it out loud to himself, putting in all the voices. ::melt:


(In case the video won’t play for you, here’s a Youtube link.)


Charlie Parker Played Be Bop by Chris RaschkaCharlie Parker Played Be Bop by Chris Raschka. Read to: my boys.

One of our longtime family favorites. The rhythm and whimsy of the text has captivated each of our small fry in turn. And the art is bold and funny and altogether wonderful.


Don't Know Much About History by Kenneth C. DavisDon’t Know Much About History by Kenneth C. Davis. Read to: the teens.

Another of the texts Beanie, Rose, and I are using for our 20th-century history studies. We continue to enjoy reading history texts aloud together, which allows us all to stay on the same page (literally) and—even more important—fosters discussion and fruitful rabbit trailing. We try to reserve two 45-minute blocks a week for this, supplementing with other books (including graphic novels, historical fiction, and biographies) and videos.



Walt Whitman, selections from “Song of Myself
Gwendolyn Brooks, “kitchenette building


Books Continued from Last Week:

(Rillabooks in the top row)
Charlotte's Web by E.B. White Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths Dancing Shoes by Noel Streatfeild audiobook

Best of H.P. Lovecraft An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

I’m nearing the end of To the Lighthouse and am feeling pretty well shattered. And I sort of want to start it all over from the beginning.



books to read with my 9yo  TEXT HERE (2)

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17. ‘Abrahamic religions’ – From interfaith to scholarship

Together with Ulysses, Abraham is the earliest culture hero in the Western world. More precisely, as Kierkegaard, who called him ‘the knight of faith,’ reminds us, he has remained, throughout the centuries, the prototype of the religious man, of the man of faith. The wandering Aramean from the Book of Genesis, who rejected his parents’ idols and native Mesopotamia to follow the call of the One God to the land of Canaan, started a saga reverberated not only in early Jewish literature, but also in the New Testament (Galatians 3: 6-8), and in early Christian literature.

The post ‘Abrahamic religions’ – From interfaith to scholarship appeared first on OUPblog.

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18. Best Picture Books for the New School Year!

Oh my goodness, if teachers haven't spent enough already on glue sticks and bulletin board border and what-not...but one of the great pleasures of the plundering of the pedagogue's paycheck is the building of one's own special classroom collection.  Here are a baker's half-dozen of primary picture book titles that I would hazard to suggest are must-haves of the season.  Treat yourself, or if you're a parent, treat a teacher!

Mouse's First Night at Moonlight School by Simon Puttock, illustrated by Ali Pye (Nosy Crow).  Any child will relate to the feeling of shyness on the first day in a new classroom. But don't worry...Miss Moon will help the little mouse find friends, and any child who hears this story will be reassured that his or her classroom teacher will do the same! The nocturnal school setting suggests a certain autumnal spookiness that matches well with the timidity of our hero, and the witchy teacher is simply charming.  I can't wait to share it with primary students during our first week together!

There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight by Penny Parker Klostermann, illustrated by Ben Mantle (Random House)  I know, I know, another "there was an old woman" formulaic cumulative tale chestnut, but really, this one is very good.  Exciting, bold and funny illustrations and clever rhymes combine with the appealing Medieval setting to make this a favorite read-aloud.

Troll and the Oliver by Adam Stower (Templar Books)  Every day around lunchtime, Troll tries to eat the Oliver, but to no avail.  With the catchiest refrain since The Gingerbread Man and a great surprise ending, this book is sure to inspire predictions, choral speaking and a lot of laughs.

The Grasshopper and the Ants by Jerry Pinkney (Little, Brown)  Can't have too many classics, and the beauty of this version of this Aesop's fable by a multiple Caldecott-winning watercolor artist will make you gasp aloud.  You should get it just as a present to yourself, though it's bound to prove as useful and cheerful as a song in the long, cold winter months.

Rufus the Writer by Elizabeth Bram, illustrated by Chuck Groenink (Tundra Books)  A story stand instead of a lemonade stand?  What an inspired idea!  Read how Rufus satisfies his customers, gets paid in an alternative economy and set up your own Story Stand in a writing center.

Use Your Imagination by Nicola O'Byrne (Nosy Crow)  Speaking of story, a rabbit who happens to be a librarian helps a hungry wolf create a narrative with an ending that keeps him from being the end.  Meta marvelousness with discussion of action and setting.

Fowl Play by Travis Nichols (Chronicle)  One of the trickiest parts of learning a new language is learning the idiomatic expressions, and this book is chock full of them, in the context of discovering who broke Mr. Hound's store window.  Mystery of helping ESL students solved!

Also check out:

The Whisper by Pamela Zagarenski (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt); I Will Never Get a Star on Mrs. Benson's Blackboard by Jennifer K. Mann (Candlewick); Daisy Saves the Day by Shirley Hughes (Candlewick); Snow White and the 77 Dwarfs by Raphael Barbanegre (Tundra Books); The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes (Flying Eye Books).

And where is all the nonfiction, you may ask?  Stay tuned for best books for the new school year part II!  In the meantime, please share your favorites in the comments below.

Links for informational purposes.  Please support your local independent bookseller!  

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19. Betsy Cornwell, author of MECHANICA, on finding the everyday grit to keep on working

We're excited to have Betsy Cornwell here to tell us more about her latest novel MECHANICA.

Betsy, what book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?

I grew up loving Cinderella retellings like Gail Carson Levine's ELLA ENCHANTED and Margaret Peterson Haddix's JUST ELLA, and some of my favorite reviews of MECHANICA have compared it with those books. Since Mechanica is a character-driven story that's told from the perspective of one lonely, intelligent girl, I'd like to think that its readers would also be drawn to my favorite novel, I CAPTURE THE CASTLE, and other open-ended character studies of brilliant teenage girls.

Read more »

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20. Talking to Ruta Sepetys (and you) about Salt to the Sea

I have not vlogged for years. I'd forgotten how. Also, the technology has changed. Plus, I'm old and weary. Please forgive all of that.

Because the only thing that matters is that I've just read the third novel by Ruta Sepetys, Salt to the Sea, a powerful historical novel about refugees, friendship, and a terrifying trek toward the world's greatest maritime disaster.

My thoughts are here.

Congratulations, Ruta Sepetys. 

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21. Book Review: 5 to 1 by Holly Bodger

Book: 5 to 1
Author: Holly Bodger
Published: 2015
Source: Review copy from publisher via NetGalley

After decades of gender selection, the ratio of boys to girls has become 5 to 1, and the tiny country of Koyangar has instituted elaborate tests for girls to pick their mates. The winners will get marriage, money, and a life of trying to breed more daughters. The losers will get menial jobs or worse, sent to the wall that separates Koyangar from the rest of the Indian subcontinent, an almost certain death sentence.

Sudasa is the granddaughter of a highly-placed woman in the government, and knows that she is expected to select a particular contestant. But she keeps getting distracted by Contestant 5, who helps out the other contestants and shows compassion for the injured that are ignored by every other boy. What she doesn't know is that Contestant 5 has come to the Tests without any intent of winning a wife. Instead, he plans to escape, because anything is better than Koyangar.

Initially, Contestant 5 disdains Sudasa as spoiled and corrupt, and Sudasa can't fathom why he would risk the wall rather than try for a life of comfort and plenty as her husband. But as they get to know each other in stolen moments, they come to understand that they both want the same thing: freedom.

I have to be honest: I've been completely over the whole novels in verse thing for awhile, so while Sudasa's free-versified thoughts and feelings were interesting, I was always relieved when I got back to the prose of Contestant 5's sections. That being said, seeing Sudasa slowly realize that there was a life for her outside of Koyangar, and her grandmother's control was a fascinating character arc. I just wished it had been more fleshed out. Free verse tends to be extremely spare, without a lot of detail. This is obviously a personal preference, so your mileage may vary.

With its themes of gender inequity (girls are still treated like property, their rarity adding to their value like precious gems, locked away in a safe most of the time) and political corruption (always, always political corruption) this book fits into the usual run of current dystopian fiction. The non-Western setting and culture makes it stand out, but at only 246 pages (and about half of those in free verse), it feels like we skimmed over the setting and honestly, everything outside of the Tests themselves.

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22. Seasonal Transition

Giant sunflower

Giant sunflower

It is season transition time! That means some days are like summer and some are like fall. The leaves on maples are beginning to change color already. The Canadian geese are flocking around the lakes for food and rest on their way south. The bees are very busy. The monarchs float through the garden. The crickets chirp almost 24-hours a day. The cicadas buzz in the heat of a warm afternoon. Days are noticeably shorter. Nights are cooler and mornings are on the verge of crisp. Some of the pumpkins in the garden are hinting at orange. On my bike rides I see masses of goldenrod with their feathery flowers turning yellow and bluestem grass flowering and starting to turn pink/red. The squirrels are frantically collecting their winter stores and digging holes everywhere to hide it in. And my allergies are raging beyond what my medication can control but I refuse to lock myself in the house and as a consequence have a near-constant sore throat, dry, itchy eyes, and swollen sinuses so I feel as though I am coming down with a cold even though I am not. But in a little over a month there will be a killing frost and it will be the end of the growing season and I will be both relieved and sad.

We have a sunflower in the garden that is 10 feet/3 m tall. The flower on top is ridiculously small given the plant’s height. It must have put all its energy into getting tall and not saved enough to make a big flower. We have a few shorter sunflowers in the garden and we are attempting again this year to save them from the squirrels so we can eat the seeds ourselves. One has a bag over the flowerhead already as the seeds grow and dry. We did this last year and it worked until we left it too long and an enterprising squirrel broke the flower stalk and ripped the bag apart and had itself a tasty meal. Not gonna let that happen this year!

The amaranth is going great. I had thought it would only get about 5 feet / 1.5 m tall

Awesome amaranth

Awesome amaranth

but some of them are about 7 feet/ 2 m tall. They are very beautiful plants. I looked up when and how to harvest the seeds and it should be pretty easy. Famous last words! But I also discovered the plant has a golden yellow variety too. So Bookman and I are thinking we will plant both read and yellow next year. The seeds are tiny and you can use them like flax seed or cook them like quinoa. Apparently they make a delicious breakfast porridge. The whole enterprise being an experiment this year, I am not certain how much seed we will get from our patch. Next year I will know to leave more room between each plant. Also, the young greens are reportedly very tasty and rich in iron, calcium and vitamin C. According to one website I found, if you prune down the main stem for greens early in the season it will promote a somewhat shorter but much bushier plant that will produce more flowers. The greens are used like one would use Swiss chard. I also learned that amaranth is a nitrogen hog so next year, since the plants get so tall, I am going to try growing pole beans with them and see how that goes.

Brussels beginning to sprout

Brussels beginning to sprout

The summer has been cooler than usual this year which is fine by me, but it does present a problem for plants that need heat to ripen the fruit like tomatoes. We have loads of green tomatoes in the garden and so far have had only three cherry tomatoes get ripe enough to pick. The coming week is forecast to be downright hot, summer’s last hurrah. So my fingers are crossed that the heat is enough to get the tomatoes on their way to ripening. If not, I suppose Bookman will have to make some green tomato salsa or discover the pleasures of fried green tomatoes.

I picked the last of the yellow wax beans, a second effort from the plants that are now officially done. I also picked a couple of small yellow beets. When I say small, I mean small, they are about the size of a gobstopper, but I am happy about it nonetheless because they are the first beets I have ever pulled from the garden. Every gardener has the vegetable that she just can’t grow and it is always one that is so easy, according to everyone else, but for some reason it is not easy for her. Beets are my Achilles heel. Every year I plant them and they sprout and get a few inches tall but never really leafy and never any beetroots. That I have pulled two beets big enough to actually eat is a cause for celebration and makes me inordinately happy. Perhaps my beet luck is about to change!

We had a bald eagle visit the neighborhood yesterday. It is not uncommon to see them near

Aralia Racemosa

Aralia Racemosa

the lakes but they generally don’t fly around the neighborhood. It circled around low a few times, watching something, no doubt, though I don’t know what. All the crows in the vicinity were in an uproar and goodness can they make a loud racket! After circling around four or five times it gave up and left, much to the relief of the crows who quieted as soon as the eagle departed. Unfortunately I was too busy watching it to even think about trying to get a photo. Such a beautiful bird too!

Thursday the fence people came our and set the posts for out fence. Yay! This week they will come out and install the chainlink. Yay! Bookman and I are still working out all the materials we need for the chicken coop. It is taking longer than I thought but we are getting there!


My long ride yesterday was lovely. It was cool enough that I had to start the ride with arm warmers. I took them off about halfway through and was still a bit cool but it was also really humid and I was borderline warm with them on. So I figured better a little chilly than hot. It was foggy in a few places though not so foggy that it affected visibility. A very nice ride.

My friend who rides with me Saturday mornings for part of the way had a wasp fly into one of the vents of his helmet and sting his head! I’ve eaten my share of gnats, been smacked by bugs and other unknowns, have even been pooped on by a low flying crow, but I’ve never had anything fly into my helmet let alone sting me while riding. Luckily he isn’t allergic to wasps and while it hurt he was able to keep going and still enjoy the ride. Next weekend he is getting married so I will be on my own for the whole ride. The weekend after that is the Jesse James fun ride Bookman and I are signed up for. One of the perks is a chair massage at the end of the ride. I am not sure which I am looking forward to more, the ride itself or the massage at the end of it!

Filed under: biking, gardening

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23. Prayers


हमारी जिंदगी में  prayers का बहुत मह्त्वपूर्ण स्थान है. महिलाएं तो ज्यादातर सुबह सवेरे अपने दिन की शुरुआत नहाने के बाद  पूजा और धूप बत्ती से करती हैं. मेरी सहेली मणि के घर अगर सुबह सुबह जाओ तो घर महकता मिलेगा. बहुत अच्छा लगता है  क्योकि खुश्बू होती ही इतनी मनभावन है.

उसकी देखा देखी मैने भी ऐसा करना शुरु कर रखा है दिन में तीन चार बार तो खुश्बूदार अगरबत्ती लगा ही लेती हूं पर पर पर  आज कुछ ऐसा पढा कि टैंशन सी हो गई. असल में, खबर है कि” हैरानी होगी आपको यह जानकर कि सुगंधित अगरबत्तियों और धूप बत्तियों से निकलने वाला धुंआ शरीर की कोशिकाओं के लिए सिगरेट के धुएं से अधिक जहरीला साबित होता है।

शोधकर्ताओं का कहना है कि अगरबत्ती का धुआं सिगरेट के धुएं की तरह है। अगरबत्ती का धुआं कोशिकाओं में जेनेटिक म्‍यूटेशन करता है। इससे कोशिकाओं के डीएनए में बदलाव होता है, जिससे कैंसर होने का खतरा बढ़ जाता है।

अब ज्यादा तो समझ नही आया बस इतना समझ आया कि अगरबत्ती से निकलता धुंआ बेहद नुकसानदायक है.

वैसे पहले गूगल सर्च में कितनी बार पढा है कि अगरबत्ती बनाए खुश्बू के साथ साथ धन भी कमाए या अगरबत्ती बना कर जीवन महकाए  या सफल बिजनेस है अगरबत्ती का … !!!

पर आज वही अगरबत्ती और धुआं  गूगल  पर जब सर्च किया तो वही हैरान कर देने वाली खबर बहुत जगह पढने को मिली… ये तो कभी सोचा ही नही कि ऐसा भी होता है इसलिए तनाव हो गया है फिलहाल तो मैं मणि को सचेत करने जा रही हूं वैसे आप तो ज्यादा धूप बत्ती नही करते होंगें अगर करते हैं तो जरुर सोचिएगा !!



http://epaper.navbharattimes.com/details/4486-61408-1.html Via navbharattimes.com

reasons to say NO to agarbattis or incense sticks

शोध के नतीजों के आधार पर फेफड़ों की बीमारी से जूझ रहे लोगों के लिए यह अच्‍छा होगा कि वह धूप के धुंए से बचें। अगरबत्ती और धूपबत्ती को फेफड़ों के कैंसर, ब्रेन ट्यूमर और बच्‍चों के ल्‍यूकेमिया के विकास केसाथ जोड़ा जा रहा है। Via patrika.com

Prayers लेख आपको कैसा लगा जरुर बताईगा !!!

The post Prayers appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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24. organic shopping

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25. हंस profile

       In the Hindustan Times Manoj Sharma reports that For Hindi literature, Hans writes a story of grit and revival, profiling हंस (Hans) magazine.
       Hey, founded by Premchand and with Mahatma Gandhi as its editorial adviser .... that's not a bad pedigree. (Okay, there was a long interim between that time and Hans 2.0, but still ......)
       In any case, good to hear that this kind of publication can survive -- indeed that its readership is apparently growing:

Interestingly, in this digital age when the circulation of major magazines has going down, that of Hans has gone up in the last two years from 9,500 to 11,000, which makes it the largest-read Hindi literary magazine.
       And I kind of like the idea of a 'literary' magazine printed on newsprint.

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