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<<May 2015>>
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1. RT Teen Day Preview Edition and an RT Teen Day Five Book Mystery Box Giveaway!

I can't believe that it's less than a week before the RT Convention! What is RT, you ask? It's a HUGE book fair with workshops, parties, and book signings. This year, it's in Dallas, TX, and--the best part--there's an enormous Teen Day program.

Want a sneak peek?

11-2pm Giant Book Fair and Author Signing (I'll be in Row 1 with swag--Come find me! : ) )

2-3pm Fierce Reads Pizza Party, including many/most of the authors who will be at Teen Day as well as the Fierce Reads authors.  (I'll be there)

3-4:15pm Author Speed Reading (I'll be there)

3-4:15pm Strong Heroines: Writing Fictional Girls Who Can Save Themselves

3-4:15 YA Family Feud: Test your knowledge of YA books!

4:30 - 5:45 Humble Beginnings: YA Authors Share Their Teen Writing

4:30 - 5:45 The Match Game: Authors and Readers Team Up to Answer Lit Questions

4:30 - 5:45 Writing Tips & Techniques

6-7:45 Teen Day Party -- Come hang out with the authors!

What authors will you find?

Ann AguirreSusan DennardAaron KaroStacey O'Neale
Karen AkinsKimberly DertingBrigid KemmererErica O'Rourke
Jennifer L. Armentrout  (aka J. Lynn)Bree DespainCiara KnightLauren Oliver
Brodi AshtonShannon DuffyDebra Kristi  (aka Deborah Krager)Danielle Paige
Kathleen BaldwinSusan EeMichelle KrysNatalie Parker
Jenna BlackMichelle N. FilesTonya KuperStephanie Perkins
Martina BooneBecca FitzpatrickJustine LarbalestierTamora Pierce
Kate BrauningKami GarciaVicki LeighAprilynne Pike
Killian BrewerTessa GrattonMarie LuLissa Price
Patricia BurroughsClaudia Gray  (aka Amy Vincent)Shawntelle MadisonSara Raasch
Meg CabotBethany HagenMichelle MadowBrendan Reichs
Rachel CaineCynthia HandMari MancusiKathy Reichs
Erica CameronRachel HarrisMelissa MarrVictoria Scott
Kiera CassColleen HouckB. L. MarshJ.A. Souders  (aka Bailey James)
Sona CharaipotraAmalie HowardGretchen McNeilMargaret Stohl
Lizzy CharlesTara HudsonRichelle MeadTamara Ireland Stone
Dhonielle ClaytonC.C. Hunter  (aka Christie Craig)Jodi MeadowsRachel Vincent 
Susane ColasantiTonya HurleyPage MorganKasie West
Katie CotugnoJ.R. JohanssonJulie MurphyScott Westerfeld
Andrea CremerSophie JordanL.H. NicoleIlene Wong  (aka I.W. Gregorio)
Kady Cross  (aka Kate Locke)Stacey KadeAlyson NoëlNicole Zoltack
Lindsay CummingsLydia KangLea Nolan
And if that's not enough, there's TONS more going on all week.

Want to know what I'm looking forward to?

Readers. Readers are why I write, and when I get a chance to hear what readers thought while reading Compulsion, that's an amazing, humbling, gratifying, and uplifting experience for me. I also love connecting with authors (okay, fangirling over them in deeply embarrassing ways) whose work I love. And finally, I allow myself one weeklong craft workshop to focus on improving my writing per year. This is it, so I'm looking forward to attending the workshops, learning, going back to my room and applying what I learned, and hopefully getting stronger as a writer.

Want to know what other authors are looking forward to?

"I love Teen Day. It's a whirlwind of a day, where we get to meet readers in a more casual atmosphere, and this year we're playing games too (I'm play Family Feud!). So basically, I'm super excited about pretty much everything!!:
~Kimberly Derting

"Great clothes, great costumes, amazing writers and wonderful fans!

That's what I found last year, at least, and I'm REALLY yearning for another dose!"
~Tammy Pierce

I got a bonus sneak peak for you, too--something you might hear Marie Rutkoski say in one of her session:

"I'm looking forward to Maggie Stiefvater's last book in the Raven Cycle series (The Raven King), Lindsay Smith's Dreamstrider, Mary Pearson's The Heart of Betrayal, and Becky Albertalli's Simon vs The Homo Sapien Agenda."
~ Marie Rutkoski

"I'm looking forward to meeting readers (always!), and seeing old authors pal (it's been too long!). Oh, and maybe indulging in some giggle-inducing, memory-making, 'I shouldn't have done that' parties with fellow book junkies. I love RT!"
~Victoria Scott

"I'm looking forward to the Teen Day party - nothing like free books and teen fans! Oh, my horror panel on on Thursday!"
~Gretchen McNeil

"I'm looking forward most to the networking: hanging out with other authors, industry professionals, and, most of all, READERS! Bring on the Twitter-worthy shenanigans!"
~Sara Raasch

"I'm most excited about the panels! I love learning about craft and industry--hearing what work for other people, or how they cope with similar problems I face. Or just listening to writers talk about writings--that's PURE BLISS to me!!"
~Susan Dennard

And now for the GIVEAWAY!

How about a mystery box of FIVE books from RT Teen Day authors? (Mix of signed and unsigned)

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2. Will Agents and Publishers Accept This...?

Question: In my YA novel, there is a homosexual relationship. They're not the main focus of the plot, or even the subplot - but they are both MCs and do

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3. (Over)publishing in ... Iceland

       At Grapevine Elliott Brandsma wonder whether in famously book-friendly Iceland there might be Too Many Books: Do Icelandic Publishers Need To Chill Out ?
       When there was: "one year when the publishing companies collectively released almost a hundred new cookbooks" (this in a country with a total population of not much more than 300,000) one can argue that the industry/market maybe aren't functioning perfectly ..... Still, I hope they keep it up.

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4. The Book Review Club - My Brilliant Friend

My Brilliant Friend
Elena Ferrante

After a string of Australian books both adult and children's, I was beginning to feel like a serial Aussie reader and decided to get out from down under if only to vary my reading.

So, I went to Italy. I've been craving gelato and chianti ever since.

There is a significant difference between old-world writing and stories from the "colonies", penal and otherwise. The old-world has, not always, but very often, a very melancholy feel to it, whereas "newbies" from the colonies seem to have been able to free themselves somewhat from that melacholy. Their more upbeat feel may be what's so alluring to me. Or the accent. These have all been audio books. 

Nevertheless, a little melancholia isn't a bad thing. What's more, My Brilliant Friend is jam-packed with writing tricks. But first, a synopsis:

My Brilliant Friend is the story of two young Neapolitan girls growing up in the harsh conditions of a very working class, poor neighborhood, their dreams, the diversions those dreams have to take due to economic hardship - one girl gets to go on to school, while her smarter friend is forced to quit school and try to marry up - and the successful, but flawed, women the girls become.

What is the absolute, most brilliant aspect of My Brilliant Friend, is its final line and how it ties the entire book together and then rips it apart, much like the last line of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's last sentence to One Hundred Years of Solitude deconstructs and erases the entire story that has gone before with one slash of the pen. Ferrante is brilliant in her alteration of this trick, to tie and deconstruct her story at the same time - all was for nothing - or so it seems since this is the first in a series of books called the Neapolitan Novels. However, I didn't know that as I listened to the last line and actually stopped my car from the force of that line. It made me think, reponder, rethink, re-reflect. It's that brilliant.

It's usually first lines that are so mesmerizing, pulling the reader in, hooking her, and making her want more. But if the last line snags in a reader's heart, it really never lets go. It haunts the reader, challenging her to think and think and think. It's an amazing writer tool I can't wait to use.

For more great reads, cinco de mayo your way over to Barrie Summy's website!

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5. The Fragility of Grand Discoveries

When I was in graduate school at Berkeley I was offered a prestigious fellowship to study for a year in Germany, but I decided it would be a disruption, so I wrote a short note declining the offer. As, letter in hand, I stepped to the mailbox, I bumped into a woman from the scholarship [...]

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6. New World Literature Today

       The new issue of World Literature Today is (partially) available online, with a focus on 'New Hebrew Writing'.
       Most importantly: the World Literature in Review review-section is fully accessible -- always worth a look.

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7. Que Sera, Sera

My aunt was laid to rest today
With eulogies and rain.
Her children wept and shoveled dirt
In disbelief and pain.

Her life was long and full and rich;
She clearly was adored,
With all of those attending,
Admiration-wise, on board.

My aunt loved "Que sera, sera"
And someone sang it out.
We all joined in, accepting what
That song is all about.

A funeral's an ending
But reminds us we should see
That the future proves the chorus -
What will be will surely be.

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8. "green eyes,

©the enchanted easel 2015
yeah, the spotlight shines upon you..."

this beauty, named Lily, is what's on the easel for the next week.  i "heart" her.
{couldn't resist the Coldplay lyrics, of course ;)}

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9. The Importance of Libraries and What We Do

I've seen all types of Top Five's for different areas of education, but rarely do I see a Top Five for school libraries (or libraries in general!)  So I combed through then scoured Youtube looking for what I think are the top five videos about and for libraries and this is what I found.  My criteria were:
1. Had to be about school libraries
2. Definitely no cheesiness!  It has to have importance attached to it
3. Well done format.

So, here are the Top Four.  I searched as much as I possibly could for a fifth and couldn't find one, so if you do, please add a comment with the link! :)

School Libraries Matter: The Changing Role of the School Librarian

Principals Know: School Librarians are the Heart of the School

 School Libraries from NJASL

What Are Databases and Why You Need Them

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10. Disneyland for Librarians

There’s a new library in Nova Scotia. Central Library in Halifax opened mid-December with great fanfare. Thousands of people turned out for opening day. Thousands! Now, Halifax is about a 2-hour drive from our small, rural community, but it is still exciting to me that we have this library. It is simply amazing.

photo by A. Reynolds

photo by A. Reynolds

I get pretty excited about a new library anywhere. We have a couple in the works in our region, and we plan to take a page from the Central Library book and create spaces that draw people in. The thing that I love about the new library in Halifax is that though it is not near us, we are still benefiting from the buzz. Libraries are on people’s minds.

Photo by A. Reynolds

Photo by A. Reynolds

The building is just amazing. Honestly I feel like I am in Disneyland for Librarians when I go there. And I am not alone—I’ve had parents tell me that they’ve taken their kids to the city for a museum trip, and the kids kept asking “When are we going to the library?” It is that cool. With a giant Lite-Brite wall, a play area that is downright fabulous, a LEGO table, iPads galore, and a space that makes you feel right at home, why wouldn’t they want to go there? There’s even a gaming area and a lovely built-in puppet theatre.

The Teen area is a big WOW as well. There’s a recording studio, a craft/maker room, tons of great programs, another gaming area, really comfy seating, and staircases that remind me of Hogwarts (though these don’t actually move). And the colors! So bright and happy. Go there on a weekend and you won’t find a spot to sit. After school the place just buzzes.

Photo by A. Reynolds

Photo by A. Reynolds


Photo by A. Reynolds

Photo by A. Reynolds

Photo by A. Reynolds

Photo by A. Reynolds

So what can a rural library take from this? Central Library is a million miles away from anything we will ever have in our region as far as size goes. But we can listen to our patrons, and if they ask for something, we should try to do it. We can make our library comfortable, with ample plugs for devices and spaces where people can work on whatever they need to work on. We can allow covered drinks and food. We can make the space bright, modern, clean, and welcoming. We can add local art. We can make play spaces and quiet spaces.

I want our libraries to be the place that kids and teens choose to visit. I think we need to figure out how that happens, without building a 5-story gem. The building is part of it, but the feeling is the real draw. We can all learn from other libraries, and continually ask our communities how we can better serve them.

The post Disneyland for Librarians appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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11. Spain’s Latest Animated Feature ‘Possessed’ is A Tale of Supernatural Horror

The debut stop motion feature from an Aardman alum will screen in competition at Annecy.

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12. (badly drawn/scribbled) today’s daydream at two pm: Matzo Ball Pizza

kosher pizza - sepia

Filed under: love

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This new title- All Four Stars by Tara Dairman explores the world of cooking through the eyes of a sixth grade girl named Gladys.  Gladys cooks in secret but lands herself in trouble from her parents when the kitchen almost burns down.  After that Gladys parents do not want her to cook.  However, she needs to write a essay for a school contest about her future.   Gladys tries to write about another topic, but the teacher convinces her and inspires her to write about cooking.  This leads to her contest entry getting mixed up and her being asked to be a professional freelance reviewer for The New York Standard.   Alot of adventure occurs, but she does get her review done and published! 

A delightful read about the impact of a great teacher and a sixth grade girl with strength and personality.  This is a light read for the summer.   Make sure you have a great dessert to eat while you are reading.  If you get inspired by what Gladys cooks the author listed recipes for some of  the desserts on her site.

Here's to looking back on an older post from my blog for another foodie related titled called The Tea Shop Girls.

Also kids are inspired by creative teachers and creative progams.  Plus they never forget them.   Take a look at one of my first library cooking programs!

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14. Gathering Prey Leads iBooks Bestsellers

Gathering Prey” by John Sandford has debuted on the iBooks bestsellers list this week at No. 3.

Apple has released its top selling books list for paid books from iBooks in the U.S. for week ending May 4, 2015. “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins remained at No. 1 and “Memory Man” by David Baldacci rose to the No. 3 slot.

We’ve included Apple’s entire list after the jump.

iBooks US Bestseller List – Paid Books 5/4/15

1. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins – 9780698185395 – (Penguin Publishing Group) 2. Memory Man by David Baldacci – 9781455586387 – (Grand Central Publishing) 3. Gathering Prey by John Sandford – 9780698152519 – (Penguin Publishing Group) 4. Hope by Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, Kevin Sullivan & Mary Jordan – 9780698178953 – (Penguin Publishing Group) 5. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – 9781476746609 – (Scribner) 6. Paper Towns by John Green – 9781101010938 – (Penguin Young Readers Group) 7. The Liar by Nora Roberts – 9780698161351 – (Penguin Publishing Group) 8. Thirty-Four and a Half Predicaments by Denise Grover Swank – 9781939996268 – (DGS) 9. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – 9781466850606 – (St. Martin’s Press) 10. Victorious (Quantum Book #3) by M.S. Force – 9781942295105 – (HTJB, Inc.) 11. The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks – 9781455520664 – (Grand Central Publishing) 12. Tripwire by Lee Child – 9781440638930 – (Penguin Publishing Group) 13. The Stranger by Harlan Coben – 9780698186200 – (Penguin Publishing Group) 14. Virtuous (Quantum Book #1) by M.S. Force – 9781942295082 – (HTJB, Inc.) 15. Fifty Shades Darker by E L James – 9781612130590 – (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group) 16. Take Me With You by K.A. Linde – 9780996053020 – (K.A. Linde Inc.) 17. NYPD Red 3 by James Patterson & Marshall Karp – 9780316284561 – (Little, Brown and Company) 18. The Bone Tree by Greg Iles – 9780062311146 – (William Morrow) 19. The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly – 9780316069502 – (Little, Brown and Company) 20. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – 9780440335160 – (Random House Publishing Group)


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15. New Adult Fiction Genre - Contemporary Romance - #WriteTip

There is a new genre emerging..."New Adult" fiction for older teens aka college-aged readers. You never stop growing up, but little in the market seems to address the coming-of-age that also happens between the ages of Nineteen to Twenty-six. Life changes drastically once high school is over, you have college, first jobs, first internships, first adult relationships…

Part of the appeal of NA is that the storylines are about characters who are taking on adult responsibilities for the first time without guidance from their parents. And the storylines generally have a heavy romance element. 

Keep this in mind as you revise your wonderful story, New Adult books are mostly about that specific time in every person's life—the time when the apron strings are cut from your parents, you no longer have a curfew, you're experiencing the world for the very first time, in most cases, with innocent eyes. New Adult is this section of your life where you discover who you want to be, what you want to be, and what type of person you will become. This time defines you. This is the time of firsts, the time where you can't blame your parents for your own bad choices. 

An NA character has to take responsibility for their own choices and live with the consequences. Most storylines are about twenty-something (18 to 26) characters living their own lives without any parents breathing down their necks, and learning to solve things on their own as they would in real life. New Adult fiction focuses on switching gears, from depending on our parents to becoming full-fledged, independent adults.

I am a firm believer that if you’re going to write a certain genre that you should read it, too. So I’m going to recommend that you start devouring NA novels to get a real sense and understanding of the genre before you write one.

Here are some great recommendations: https://www.goodreads.com/genres/new-adult-romance and http://www.goodreads.com/genres/new-adult and https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/new-adult-romance

Just as YA is fiction about teens discovering who they are as a person, New Adult (NA) is fiction about building your own life as an actual adult. As older teen readers discover the joy of the Young Adult genres, the New Adult—demand may increase. This, in turn, would give writers the chance to explore the freedom of a slightly older protagonist (over the age of 18 and out of high school, like the brilliant novel, "BEAUTIFUL DISASTER" by the amazing talents of author, Jamie McGuire) while addressing more adult issues that early 20-year-olds must face.

Older protagonists (basically, college students) are surprisingly rare; in a panel on YA literature at Harvard’s 2008 Vericon, City of Bones author talked about pitching her novel, then about twenty-somethings, as adult fiction. After several conversations, Clare realized she had to choose between adults and teens. She went with teens.

Quote from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press: We are actively looking for great, new, cutting edge fiction with protagonists who are slightly older than YA and can appeal to an adult audience. Since twenty-somethings are devouring YA, St. Martin’s Press is seeking fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult—a sort of an “older YA” or “new adult.” In this category, they are looking for spunky but not stupid, serious but not dull, cutting-edge, supernatural stories.

Quote from Georgia McBride, author (Praefatio) and founder of #YALitChat and publisher at Month9Books: "New Adult is a fabulous idea in theory, and authors seem to be excited about it. But in a world where bookstores shelf by category, to them, it is either  Adult or Young Adult. Some booksellers even call their YA section “teen.” And when you have a character who is over a certain age (19 seems to be the age most consider the start of New Adult), it is received as Adult. In some cases, the designation by publishers causes more confusion than not.
Let’s face it, YA is associated with teens, and at 19, most no longer consider themselves teens. So, it would support the theory of placing these “New Adult” titles in the Adult section. However, with the prevalence of eBook content, it would seem that the powers that be could easily create a New Adult category if they really wanted to...."

There’s also a list on goodreads of New Adult book titles. These books focus on college age characters, late teens to early twenties, transitioning into the adult world.

Some popular authors of the NA category include:
  • Jamie McGuire
  • Jessica Park
  • Tammara Webber
  • Steph Campbell
  • Liz Reinhardt
  • Abbi Glines
  • Colleen Hoover 
  • Sherry Soule

Would you buy New Adult books? 
Does the genre appeal to you? 

Does it sound better than YA (teen novels)? 
Or are you happy with YA as it stands?

Do you consider YA to include characters that are over the age of eighteen? 

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16. Encore Webcast Scheduled!

Encore scheduled! On May 15th at 12, 2 and 2 pm ET, tune in again! State-test free!

And this webcast is completely free of charge.


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17. 2015 National Puppetry Conference

I was accepted into the Marionette strand of the Eugene O'Neill National Puppetry Conference! I'll be building wooden marionettes with Jim Rose, a master puppeteer who greatly influenced my grandfather. It's my first time stepping into the string world. Fundraiser with all sorts of luck-related ThankQs here! http://www.gofundme.com/golinda2015

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18. Goncourt du premier roman

       They've announced the winner of this year's Goncourt du premier roman -- the 'first novel'-Goncourt -- and it's yet another prize for The Meursault Investigation, Kamel Daoud's variation on Camus.
       It will be available next month in the US (and in two in the UK); see the Other Press publicity page, or pre-order your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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19. Humor Mini-Reviews: I Can Barely Take Care of Myself by Jen Kirkman, Gummi Bears Should Not Be Organic by Stephanie Wilder-Taylor, and I Don't Have a Happy Place by Kim Korson

"You'll Change Your Mind." 

That's what everyone says to Jen Kirkman - and countless women like her- when she confesses she doesn't plan to have children. But you know what? It's hard enough to be an adult. You have to dress yourself and pay bills and remember to buy birthday gifts. You have to drive and get annual physicals and tip for good service. Some adults take on the added burden of caring for a tiny human being with no language skills or bladder control. Parenthood can be very rewarding, but let's face it, so are margaritas at the adults-only pool...
I Can Barely Take Care of Myself is a beacon of hilarious hope for anyone whose major life decisions have been questioned by friends, family, and strangers in a comedy club bathroom. And it should satisfy everyone who wonders if Jen will ever know true love without looking into the eyes of her child. 
So while I'm not completely on the same page as Jen Kirkman (I'd love to have kids in the future), I am TOTALLY with her on the unbelievable amount of inappropriate questions I've been asked about my reproductive plans.  Being married but child-free in the South is not really a thing people my age typically do.  Or at least not the ones in my social circles.  My friends are, almost without exception, either single or married with kids.

I figured I'd appreciate the humor in this one, as it's an issue I am, honestly, constantly complaining about.  And while I was entertained, I felt like there wasn't much here that I haven't already heard or said myself.  Each chapter addresses one of the things that people say to Kirkman when she tells them she doesn't have kids, but it's really closer to memoir than it is to humor.  It's mainly the story of Kirkman's marriage and divorce as she attempts to break into comedy.  It's not that it isn't a fun read, but there wasn't anything new to add to the typical plea of "please stop asking questions about my uterus and sex life".  I smiled some, but didn't find the laugh out loud moments I was looking for.  

Thanks to my local inter-library loan system for providing me with a copy of this book!

Stefanie Wilder-Taylor is officially fed up with the endless mommy fads, trends, studies, findings, and facts about how to raise children. Tiger Mom or Cool Mom? Organic or vegan? TV is the devil or TV is a godsend?

The mother of three young girls, Stefanie has finally decided to hell with Google she's going to find out how to be a mom all on her own. In this latest mommy book from the popular blogger, author, and TV personality, Stefanie will share her secrets for achieving a balance in motherhood between being protective and caring, and downright batshit crazy. She'll debunk some of the looniest parenting myths and reinforce others; she'll describe how, through as simple a process as good old trial-and-error, she's learned to pick and choose what works for her and her family, and tune out the rest.

Filled with sage advice, laugh-out-loud stories, and Stefanie's signature wit, Gummi Bears Should Not Be Organic is sure to appeal to any and every renegade mom who's forged her own path to childrearing.
So this is basically the opposite of Jen Kirkman's book - it's humor all about being a mom.  Somehow I missed that aspect when I requested it from NetGalley and thought it was more about modern sensibilities.  Had I read anything at all about the book, I would have seen that no, it's all about modern sensibilities surrounding motherhood.  Refer to above, but just as a refresher: not a mom.

What's ironic about this is that I thought this book was hilarious.  While I could identify with Kirkman's situation more, I found Wilder-Tyler to be much funnier.  The fact that I could read and enjoy this one without having kids is a sign, in my opinion, that the author was successful over and above her intentions.  Even us non-moms can find something to laugh at in her stories.

I had a copy of this both to read and to listen to, and, I will say that it's a very quick listen (only a bit over four hours) and the narration is fantastic.  I recommend either option highly.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a copy to read and to FLP's Hoopla collection for providing me with a copy to listen to.

From Goodreads:
When a trip to the therapist ends with the question “Can’t Kim be happy?” Kim Korson responds the way any normal person would—she makes fun of it. Because really, does everyone have to be happy?

Aside from her father wearing makeup and her mother not feeling well (a lot), Kim Korson’s 1970s suburban upbringing was typical. Sometimes she wished her brother were an arsonist just so she’d have a valid excuse to be unhappy. And when life moves along pretty decently--she breaks into show business, gets engaged in the secluded jungles of Mexico, and moves her family from Brooklyn to dreamy rural Vermont—the real despondency sets in. It’s a skill to find something wrong in just about every situation, but Kim has an exquisite talent for negativity. It is only after half a lifetime of finding kernels of unhappiness where others find joy that she begins to wonder if she is even capable of experiencing happiness.

In I Don’t Have a Happy Place, Kim Korson untangles what it means to be a true malcontent. Rife with evocative and nostalgic observations, unapologetic realism, and razor-sharp wit, I Don’t Have a Happy Place is told in humorous, autobiographical stories. This fresh-yet-dark voice is sure to make you laugh, nod your head in recognition, and ultimately understand what it truly means to be unhappy. Always.
I'm a bit of a pessimist myself (although I prefer to believe I have realistic expectations for life), so I assumed Korson and I would have a lot in common.  Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately?) it turns out that I'm not nearly as much of a pessimist as Korson.  I know she was exaggerating for the sake of humor and I'm sure she's a perfectly nice person in reality, but in this book she did not come across as sympathetic in any way.  She's whiny and entitled and constantly complaining about basically everything.

I get it.  That's the point of the book, she's a pessimist and doesn't like things.  I think I was more expecting something along the lines of An Idiot Abroad, where she's negative but in a funny and sympathetic way.  In this book, Korson is just frustrating.  She's so universally miserable about so many things that the humor gets lost under the negativity.  I think maybe the problem is that I know some Kim Korsons in real life, and the truth is that they are exhausting people.  It's not fun to be around people who are just never happy with anything and can always find fault with everything and it made for a less than funny book for the most part.  It certainly has its moments of levity and humor, but it was drowned out for me by being whiny rather than darkly comedic.

Thanks to NetGalley for a review copy of this one as well as to FLP's Hoopla for an audio version.

0 Comments on Humor Mini-Reviews: I Can Barely Take Care of Myself by Jen Kirkman, Gummi Bears Should Not Be Organic by Stephanie Wilder-Taylor, and I Don't Have a Happy Place by Kim Korson as of 1/1/1900
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20. The Book of Beginnings review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of François Jullien's The Book of Beginnings, a non-fiction work in Yale University Press' always worthwhile Margellos World Republic of Letters-series.
       An interesting look at looking at Chinese culture/thought -- with some good discussion of translation-issues along the way.

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21. Authorial Intrusion

You want your characters to sound like themselves, not like you.


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22. Best Translated Book Award - fiction finalists

       They've announced the fiction-finalists for the Best Translated Book Award (for which I am a judge), and they are:

  • The Author and Me, by Éric Chevillard, tr. Jordan Stump

  • Faces in the Crowd, by Valeria Luiselli, tr. Christina MacSweeney

  • Fantomas versus the Multinational Vampires, by Julio Cortázar, tr. David Krunick

  • La Grande, by Juan José Saer, tr. Steve Dolph

  • Harlequin's Millions, by Bohumil Hrabal, tr. Stacey Knecht

  • The Last Lover, by Can Xue, tr. Annelise Finegan Wasmoen

  • Pushkin Hills, by Sergei Dovlatov, tr. Katherine Dovlatov

  • Things Look Different in the Light, by Medardo Fraile, tr. Margaret Jull Costa

  • Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, by Elena Ferrante, tr. Ann Goldstein

  • The Woman Who Borrowed Memories, by Tove Jansson, tr. Thomas Teal
       A nicely varied lot (with just a bit of a Spanish-language tilt), and it'll be interesting to see what winner emerges.
       The winner will be announced 27 May (at BookExpo America).

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23. EXCLUSIVE!! Before Anyone Else -The Cardiff Comic Expo 2015!

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24. King Bronty, Free Comics Day, Inexplicable Fun!

This past Saturday May 2nd, I'm sure you know, was "Free Comics Day" and I go to celebrate it at GROUND ZERO COMICS, the best comics shop I know, right here in my hometown, Tyler, Texas.
It was great experience! I made a lot of new friends and so did "King Bronty"!

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Joseph Marshall III is an enrolled member of the Sicangu Lakota (Rosebud Sioux) tribe. Born and raised on the Rosebud Sioux reservation, he is the author of several books about Lakota people. Last year, I read his The Journey of Crazy Horse: A Lakota History. I highly recommend it. In 2011, Marshall's book was selected for the One Book South Dakota project. Over 2400 Native high school students in South Dakota were given a copy of it. How cool is that? (Answer: very cool, indeed!)

Yesterday, I finished his In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse. First thing I'll say? Get it. Order it now. It won't hit the bookstores till later this year, but pre-order it for your own kids and your library. Like The Journey of Crazy Horse, it provides insights and stories that you don't get from academic historians.

To my knowledge, there is nothing like it for kids. Some of the reasons I'm keen on it?

First, it is set in the present day on the Rosebud Sioux reservation. Regular readers of AICL know that I think it is vitally important that kids read books about Native people, set in the present day. Such books provide Native kids with characters that reflect our existence as people of the present day, and they help non-Native kids know that--contrary to what they may think--we weren't "all killed off" by each other, by White people, or by disease, either.

Second, the protagonist, Jimmy McClean, is an eleven-year old Lakota boy with blue eyes and light brown hair. Blue eyes? Light brown hair?! Yes. His dad's dad was White. Those blue eyes and light brown hair mean he gets teased by Lakota kids and White ones, too.

Third, it is a road trip book! I love road trips. Don't you? In this one, his grandfather (his mom's dad) takes him, more or less, in the footsteps of Crazy Horse. Along the way, he learns a lot about Crazy Horse, who--like Jimmy--had light brown hair. When his grandfather is in storytelling mode, giving him information about Crazy Horse, the text is in italics.

Fourth, Jimmy's mom is a Head Start teacher! That is way cool. My little brother and my little sister went to Head Start! When I was in high school, I'd cut school and volunteer at the Head Start whenever I could. But you know what? I can't think of a single book I've read in which one of the characters is a head start teacher, but for goodness sake! Head Start is a big deal! It is reality for millions of people. We should have books with moms or dads who work at Head Start!

Fifth, Jimmy's grandfather imparts a lot of historical information as they drive. At one point, Grandpa Nyles asks him if he's heard of the Oregon Trail. Jimmy says yes, and his grandpa says (p. 29):
"Before it was called the Oregon Trail, it was known by the Lakota and other tribes as Shell River Road. And before that, it was a trail used by animals, like buffalo. It's an old, old trail." 
I love that information! It tells readers that Native peoples were here first, and we had names for this and that place.

Sixth, they visit a monument. His grandpa tells him that the Lakota people call it the Battle of the Hundred in the Hands, and that others call it the Fetterman Battle or the Fetterman Massacre. They read the inscription on the monument. See the last line? It reads "There were no survivors." That is not true, his grandpa tells him. Hundreds of Lakota and Northern Cheyenne survived that battle. It is a valuable lesson, for all of us, about perspective, words, who puts them on monuments, why those particular ones are chosen, etc.

Last reason I'll share for now is that Marshall doesn't soft pedal wartime atrocities. Through his grandfather, Jimmy learns about mutilations done by soldiers, and by Lakota people, too. It isn't done in a gratuitous way. It is honest and straightforward, and, his grandfather says "it's a bad thing no matter who does it."

The history learned by reading In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse and the growth Jimmy experiences as he spends time on that road trip with his grandfather make it invaluable.

In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse, with illustrations by Jim Yellowhawk, is coming out in November from Amulet Books (an imprint of Abrams). Pitched at elementary/middle grade readers, I highly recommend it.

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