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1. Happy Memorial Day... and Geek Pride Day!

Happy Memorial Day!  In honour of the day, Amanda, Teresa and I (with Christina on trumpet) have done a video!


It was absolutely gorgeous when we filmed. So many pictures were taken. I don't have them here, but I will share eventually.  You will see most of the footage in the film.

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY!!


Also... Today is Geek Pride Day! Who's excited? Who's excited?!

So, I usually post lots and lots of gifs with my posts, but as there are an inordinate amount of questions associated with this tag, I'm not going to post AS many.  I will post where I deem it appropriate.

Without further ado... the Geek Day Question Fiasco! (Yep, that's what I'm calling it.)

1.)  Who directed the first Star Trek Movie?
Do we mean MOVIE, or TV show?  If we are talking movie, I haven't the foggiest.  If we're talking TV show, I'm pretty sure it was Gene Roddenberry.


2.)  Where did the Winchester's live before Mary's death?
Lawrence, Kansas.
*shiver

3.)  What do the Druids call Merlin?
Emrys.

4.)  Who was originally casted for Han Solo?
I feel like, once upon a time, I knew, but I don't know anymore.
*It appears that the correct answer is Kurt Russell.

5.)  Who are Arwen's brothers?
Elladan and Elrohir!!!
THESE guys! :-)
 
6.)  Who was the first goblin to guide Harry around Gringotts?
No idea.  I'm guessing Warwick Davis, in one of his innumerable roles in those movies.
*Actually, it wasn't Warwick Davis... he played the bank teller.  It was actually Verne Troyer, who played the role of Griphook the Goblin.

7.)  In what Star Trek episode did the Tribbles FIRST appear?
a.) Trials and Tribble-ations
b.) Amok Time
c.) Trouble with Tribbles.
Wow, this is multiple choice?  The answer is C., Trouble With Tribbles!
*That look. :-)


8.)  Who played the First Doctor?
That white haired gentleman.  Hang on, let me think... Let... me... think...  William.  William something.  I'll come back to this.

9.)  What hits John on his way to see Sherlock in the streets in "The Reichenbach Fall"?
A fella on a bicycle.

Which of the following knights did not betray Arthur?
A.) Lancelot
B.) Gwaine (Which, by the way, is spelled WRONG!  I don't care if it IS a TV show... that name is spelled GAWAINE.)
C.) Leon
D.) Mordred
E.) Elyan.
And I would have to say, since this TV show is apparently pro Lancelot and NOT Gawaine, it was Lancelot who did not betray him.  As I cannot find what the proper answer is to this, I'm afraid you'll have to discover the truth of it yourself.

10.)  What was Bones' first name?
I think Leonard. Or wait. Sylvester?

11.)  The Tesseract is one of six powerful "Infinity Stones." What are the other five?
Ta Da!

12.)  John Watson goes on a date with a girl in "The Blind Banker." What is her name?
Sarah, but don't ask me her last name.  I dinna ken it.

13.)  What does TARDIS stand for?
Time And Relative Dimension In Space.

14.)  Who killed Darth Vader?
I *think* the Emperor guy?  I'm not hugely into Star Wars, so my trivia on this point is a bit foggy.

15.)  What does the inscription on the Colt say?
All I know is Samuel Colt made it.  I don't know the inscription.
*Apparently the inscription reads, Non Timebo Mala,  which is Latin for I Will Fear No Evil.

16.)  What words did Moriarty carve into an apple as a message for Sherlock?
I O U. 
"I owe you a fall, Sherlock."

17.)  What episode of TNG were the Borg originally introduced?
*I dunno*

18.)  How does Sherlock Holmes like his coffee?
Black, two sugars?

19.)  Who finally kills Morgana?
Merlin, I believe.

20.)  Who is older, Fred or George?
Fred.

21.)  What kind of plane does Han Solo fly?
A Millennium Falcon!!!

22.)  Where do Eowyn and Faramir settle (and rule) after the War of the Ring?
 I *think*.... Ithilien?

23.)  What does the T stand for in James T. Kirk?
Tiberius.

24.)  What is John Watson's middle name?
Hamish.  :-)
*Source

25.)  Who is the most famous Doctor?
I'm thinking it was Tom Baker.

26.)  What is Chewbacca?
*I always wanted a Wookie, but I found out they weren't real.*

27.)  What is the color of Gallifrey's sky?
Red. Which seemed like a bad idea. Red is such an angry color.

28.)  What does SHIELD stand for?
Strategic Homeland Intervention and Enforcement Logistics Division
*Epic Music

29.)  In Iron Man 2 what element saved Tony Stark from blood poisoning?
I am Vi-braaaaa-niiiii-uuuuuum!
:-)

30.)  Name the seven horcruxes.
1.  Tom Riddle's Diary.
2.  The Ring in Dumbledore's drawer.
3.  The Locket in that weird cave.
4.  The Goblet in Gringotts.
5.  Rowena Ravenclaw's diadem.
6.  Nagini the weird snake.
7.  Harry Potter.
That last answer sounded a bit weird, didn't it. :-)

31.)  Name the movie that goes with this famous exchange: "I love you." "I know."
Star Wars, the original second movie, I believe - what's it called? "The Empire Strikes Back"? - Anyway, it's that scene right before Han goes into the deep freeze thingy.  Carbonite.

32.)  In which episode did the sonic screwdriver first appear?
Heh.  It was with the second doctor, I think, but I'm not totally sure, y'all.

33.)  Where was the HOUND group located?
Liberty, Indiana.

34.) What is the Secret Word that opened the Gates of Moria?
Mellon.
*Source

35.)  Which college did Sam Winchester attend?
*Oh yeah.  Stanford.  Duh.

36.)  Who does Lavender give Ron for Christmas?
I'm not really sure what to take from that question.  Does she really give him someone?  Who?  Who?  Not the Doctor, that's for sure!
*That answer, apparently, isn't WHO, but WHAT.  And it was a necklace that said "My Sweetheart."

37.)  In Doctor Who, who is Davros?
*Seems he was the Chief Scientist of the Kaleds.  Now you know. :-)

38.)  In "The Blind Banker" which book does Sherlock use to crack the coded messages?
Some sort of A-Z atlas of London.
*A-Z London Street Atlas

39.)  What action made Thor worthy of Mjölnir?
He faced the Destroyer and sacrificed himself in exchange for the safety of the earth.

40.)  In what episode was Arthur crowned King?
Somewhere in the fifth season?
* Nope, apparently it was season 4, episode 3, "The Wicked Day."

41.)  How many kids are in the Weasley family?
Seven.
*source

42.)  When did Bruce Banner "Hulk" for the first time?
In Harlem?
*Per the comic books, he first hulked after being caught in the blast of a gamma bomb.

43.)  What is Ron's boggart?
Spyiiiiiders!!!
*source


44.)  What is the name of the remote and uninhabited planet that was destroyed by the first test of the Death Star's laser cannon?


45.)  Who saved Frodo from the barrow wights?
"Hey, Tom Bombadil, Tom Bombadillo!"

46.)  What is the name of the Gentlemen's Club that Mycroft Holmes attends?
The Diogenes Club.

47.)  What iconic word is the Ninth Doctor known by?
Fantastic!

48.)  A character from Captain America: The First Avenger reappears in a later movie as a villain. Who is it?
James "Bucky" Buchanan Barnes.  He reappears as the Winter Soldier.
*Source


49.)  In which classic episode did Sarah Jane leave the TARDIS?
*Appears to be Season 14, Episode 5, The Hand of Fear.


50.)  What did Hagrid give Harry the first time they met?
A rather messy birthday cake.

51.)  Who was the father of Legolas?
Thranduil.

52.)  Which three people does Moriarty have snipers set on in "The Reichenbach fall"?
John, Mrs. Hudson, Lestrade.

53.)  "Every life is a pile of good things and bad things...." complete this quote.
"The good things don't always soften the bad things, but vice versa the bad things don't always spoil the good things or make them unimportant."

54.)  What kind of car does Dean Winchester drive?
DIS ONE!!
A '67 Chevy Impala :-)

55.)  What team played in the Quiddich World Cup that Harry attended?
All I know is that Viktor Krum was fabulous.
*He played for the Bulgarian National Quidditch Team, but I can't find the name of the team.

56.)  When was Agent Phil Coulson first introduced? What were his first lines?
He was introduced in the very first Iron Man.  I'm pretty sure his first lines were, "I'm Agent Phil Coulson" or "I'm Agent Phil Coulson with the Strategic Homeland Intervention and Enforcement Logistics Division."

57.)  In Merlin, what is the name of the evil spirits that attack Camelot at the beginning of Season Four?
Sorry, haven't seen the show.  Only the first season, and I got caught up in a multitude of other shows since.

58.)  The despised character Jar Jar Binks (who first appears in "The Phantom Menace"), hails from what underwater society found on planet Naboo?
He is despised.  Why do we care?  And I'm not looking it up.  It's late. :)

And HARTNELLWilliam Hartnell was the name of the man who played the first doctor! :-)  I REMEMBERED! :)

59.)  What political office did Pippin have in Gondor after the War of the Ring?
Thane, I believe.

60.)  When was Lancelot first introduced?
Somewhere in the first season.  Like the fourth or fifth episode?  It felt early on.  I remember thinking I didn't despise him, for a change.

61.)  What does Harry want to be after he Graduates from Hogwarts?
An Auror.

62.)  Which Avenger has no personalized/superhero weapon?
This one is tricky, since neither Black Widow NOR the Hulk really have personalized weapons.  The Hulk IS a weapon, and the Black Widow MAKES weapons out of anything.

63.)  Which Supernatural character shares Dean's birthday? (hint: it's a girl.)
Charlie?
*Oh, Jess!  That's cool. :-)

64.)  What three items does Sherlock steal to impersonate a waiter for his clever surprise “reveal” to John Watson at the restaurant?
A.) A comb, a fountain pen, and a boutonniere.
B.) A monocle, sharpie, and a silk cravat.
C.) A bowtie, glasses, and eyebrow pencil.
I'm going to say C., a bowtie, glasses, and eyebrow pencil.
*source


65.)  What are some other names used for Gandalf the Grey?
Mithrandir, Gandalf Greyhame, Gandalf Stormcrow.  The Dwarves also called him something, and he was also called something like Olorin, somewhere, I think.


66.)  What is the the licence plate number on the Winchester's car currently? (NO LOOKING IT UP!)
CNK 80Q3?
Whoa, I was RIGHT!!

67.)  Which Avenger movie did Hawkeye first appear in?
Thor, God of Thunder.

68.)  What was the name of the waltz Sherlock played at John and Mary's wedding?
The Blue Danube?
*I think actually the Blue Danube was the one playing when he was practicing his dancing, but he played a song he composed for John and Mary.

69.)  When was the One Ring destroyed?
In the Third Age somewhere in the year 3000, I believe. March 25th.

70.)  How many years had the Great Dragon been imprisoned when Merlin first entered Camelot?
A huge amount of time!
*About 20 years, I guess.  I asked a sister who has seen it. 



71.)  Where is the Stark tower located?
New York City.  Manhattan area?

72.)  Who voiced the computer in the TNG?
Oh, wasn't it the nurse in the Original Series?  What was her name... Nurse Chapel?
*source



73.)  There are five ranks of Wizards. What are they?
White, Grey, Brown, Red, Blue. Or possibly two blue, no reds.

74.)  How did Mary accidentally reveal her true identity to John? (This is for Sherlock, BTW)
Didn't she shoot a coin or something that Sherlock threw in the air? And John, who was hiding in the house, saw and realized she was an assassin.

75.)  Who is K-9?
A mechanical dog belonging originally to the Fourth Doctor, I believe.

76,)  What is the Name of Aragorn's ring?
The Ring of Barahir!!!
*Source

77.)  What is inscribed upon each side of the sword Excalibur?
A Just Question, My Liege.  Possibly a variation of "Whosoever pulls this sword from the stone is rightful king of England."

78.)  What is Bucky Barnes' full name?
James Buchanan Barnes.

79.)  What was the gift given to Boromir in Rivendell?
In Rivendell?  Or Lothlorien?  'Cause I don't recall him getting a gift in Rivendell, but in Lothlorien he received a gold belt and an Elven cloak.

80.)  "You were right, okay? I see light at the end of this tunnel..." Finish this quote.
"And I'm sorry you don't."  If there's more, I don't know it. :-P

81.)  Where did "The Last Battle for Camelot" take place?

82.)  What were the names of the Eagles who rescued Sam and Frodo from Mount Doom?
A.) Orcrist, Sting and Glamdring.
B.) Narsil, Glamdring and Hadhafang.
C.) Sting, Anduril and the white Knife of Legolas.
D.) Aeglos, Orcrist and Sting.
None of the above.  I know one was Gwaihir, but the others were Landroval and Meneldor.

AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST:
How did Sherlock fake his death?
Don't we wish we knew?! 

And that's the end of the tag, folks.  Thanks for stopping by and giving it a read!

God bless!

Cat


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2. SIX BY SONDHEIM for writers


The other day I watched the terrific documentary SIX BY SONDHEIM. (available streaming on HBO-Go, or on Amazon or iTunes.) It's part biography, part show-biz history, following Sondheim's career guided by six important songs in his life. It's excellent, and I was particularly struck by how many nuggets of wisdom I found, profound insights into not just Sondheim's creative process, but a creative life in general. Though he is writing musicals, obviously, I think that much of this is applicable to novelists as well. Just replace "put on a show" with "publish." You should watch the doccy yourself because I can't do it justice... but I can provide six things that I found worth remembering:


1) On "writing what you know":  "Part of the author is always in what he writes, and partly [it's] a work of imagination. It's like what Faulkner said about Observation, Imagination and Experience - you can do without one of them, but you can't do without two."

Sondheim was paraphrasing Faulkner, but yeah. This is good advice. You may not have lived something yourself, but if you have good observation and imagination skills, you can still bring it alive on the page.

2) On harsh reality: At 15, he showed Oscar Hammerstein something he'd written.... Oscar was nice about it, but Stephen said he wanted to get REAL feedback, just like he would rate it against something professional. (Young Stephen thought his own work was terrific, and was pretty sure he was about to be the first 15 year old with a Broadway show.)

Oscar said,"Oh well in that case, this is the worst thing I've ever read." Sounds pretty harsh, but Oscar then went on to show young Stephen point-by-point how his work was failing, and Stephen had to agree. Awkward! But a learning moment. You may not want to hear that your work isn't good enough - but if you are submitting to agents and editors for publication, they will expect your work to be on par with that of a professional.

And even excellent professionals get a LOT of stinging rejections!

3) On imitation: "One of the things he [Oscar] told me to do was not to imitate him. 'If you write what you feel it will come out true. If you write what I feel, it will come out false. Write for yourself and you'll be 90% ahead of everyone else.'"

4) On learning to write: "You can't learn in a classroom and you can't learn on paper. You can only learn by writing and doing. Writing and doing. A friend says 'write something, put it on. Write something, put it on.' -- well, you can't always put it on, but that's the only way to do it. That's how everyone who's ever been good got good.

5) On failure: "I experienced real failure when I did I Hear a Waltz... we thought, well, this'll be an easy job and we'll make a quick buck. Those are reasons never to write a musical.

It was a respectable show. It was not lambasted by the critics. It was politely received by critics, and politely received by audiences, and had no passion, and no blood, and no reason to be. And I learned from that, the only reason to write is from love. You must not write because you think it's going to be a hit or because it's expedient, or anything like that. It's so difficult to write, it's so difficult to put on a show, that if you have the privilege of being able to write it, write it out of passion

That's what failure taught me." 

6) PROTIP: "I work entirely with Blackwing pencils for a number of reasons. One is, it's very soft lead, and therefore wears down very quickly, so you can spend lots of time resharpening. Which is a lot easier and more fun than writing." ;-)




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3. DINO-MITE! Dinosaur picture books with bite

If dinosaurs had any inkling as to how popular they’d end up, I’m sure they would have stuck around longer to enjoy their fame and fortune. Here are a few more new titles to add to your prehistoric, dino-inspired picture book collection, some serious, some silly. All fun.  Dino-Daddy by Mark Sperring and Sam Lloyd […]

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4. My Take On An Open Letter From GRRM


A friend sent me a certain link, thinking it might amuse me. It did, sort of.

Here it is, so you can read it too. 


It seems people have been noticing how many characters you like get killed in Game Of Thrones. Some must have been complaining about it, because his response is rather grumpy. But I did chuckle when he pointed out that, among other things, Ned Stark is an idiot who warned his enemy - and then that they had cast Sean Bean in the role, what did people expect? Because, of course, he does  tend to play roles in which he is killed off. I can think of two off the top of my head - Boromir in LOTR and a man who got on the wrong side of Henry VIII in the miniseries with Ray Winstone(I forget the character's name, but he was real, and Mr Bean got to use his Yorkshire accent). Though he also played Odysseus in Troy and Odysseus survived, didn't he, and came home to a faithful wife and a loyal son, unlike the other Greek heroes. 

Then he went on to call William Shakespeare a psycho and argue that there are piles of bodies on the stage in Shakespeare tragedies. Well, yes. Though one play he describes with gruesome relish is Titus Andronicus, which was probably Shakespeare's first play, certainly early in his career. I must admit, that's one I can't watch. I had to read it at university and haven't read it since then and I didn't go to see the movie(what were they thinking, choosing that one?). It's too awful. There's even a scene where this man is standing making a beautiful, lyrical speech about his niece when she has just been raped and mutilated! But the thing is, it wasn't the only one of its kind. It was part of a very popular genre, the revenge tragedy. I guess he and his company must have decided to cash in on the craze,

And Shakespeare, like a certain American spec fic writer complaining about him, was a writer of popular stuff that everyone went to see. He was a commercial writer. If he was alive today he would probably be writing sensationalist stuff for TV. He wouldn't be getting invited to writers' festivals to talk about the deep and meaningful symbolism in his work. The fact that he wrote stuff that makes you laugh and cry and says for you things that you can't express yourself and has something to say about everything  is beside the point. He would probably be shocked to find people running courses in his work. I had a very faint taste of that once, when I found an online review of a short story I had forgotten I'd written, reading into it all sorts of things that had never occurred to me when I wrote it. 

Shakespeare was the sort of guy you could have a beer with at the pub. And he wrote plays that are still performed, not because they're great literature(though they are)but because they still have things to say to us. 

Then Mr Martin goes on about that dreadful, violent book, the Bible. Well, I can't deny that. I have always liked the Bible for that very reason, all the sex and violence ...;-) 

I read The Game Of Thrones when it first came out. I liked it for the believable mediaeval stink and discomfort and for the fascinating weather conditions on whichever planet it is, oh, and for all the eating that goes on. Some fans wrote a wonderful cookbook, which I have at home. I have since read more, though I'm not sure I'll finish the series, not because of the violence and killing off your favourite characters, but because, IMO, it has turned into a soap opera. I'm not a fan of the soaps.  I'm also not a fan, in general, of fat fantasy series, however good they might be. Terry Pratchett was another matter. His books weren't thick and it mostly didn't matter if you hadn't read the earlier ones, though you'd probably rush off to find them anyway.

To be honest, there are other books of his that I prefer. Tuf Voyaging, the space-based story of a man and his cats and their adventures in a seed ship. Fevre Dream, the story of vampires in the Old South and a vampire who is sick of killing people and wants to find another way of getting his nutrition, is my favourite. That was about to come out when he was in Melbourne for a very small convention at a tiny hotel in St Kilda, a suburb of Melbourne - the population is small here, so even US minicons would be huge compared to our conventions. I remember him saying that he chose that setting because it was a time and place where slaves could disappear and nobody would ask questions. He was working on the TV series Beauty And The Beast at the time. And I enjoyed his work. Fortunately, the early ones are still in print, no doubt because of the success of his later ones. Read them if you can. 

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5. LumberJanes and Purgatory

cover artNo, LumberJanes has nothing to do with purgatory, I’ll tell you a bit about that later.

LumberJanes: Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis is a fun graphic novel that brings together teenage girls and camp and adventure. The five girls each has her own special talent whether it be archery or math or puzzles, that she is able to use in their adventure to solve a mystery.

In the end the mystery doesn’t get completely solved, only partially, and we are left with a cliffhanger, which is fine because since this is volume one I presume there is going to be a continuation of the story in volume two. Only thing is, there is no volume two published yet so I’ll have to wait. More than the mystery though is the friendship between the five girls. They are in the adventure together and they work through the obstacles and problem-solving as friends not as individuals competing against each other. There is a section of the story that is very much a play off of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark where it would have been easy to split the group apart but instead we see them stick together, hat and all.

The book is broken up into chapters and each chapter begins with a badge —Up All Night Badge for example — and a page from the LumberJanes field manual talking about the badge and what is required for a LumberJane to acquire it. It should be no surprise that the plot of the chapter takes the adventure along a route that has something to do with the badge.

It’s all in good fun. A fast, easy read with an entertaining story and great artwork, it’s girl power on an every day sort of level. None of the girls are extraordinary nor are their adventures presented as something unusual. In fact, when they find themselves at the nearby boys’ camp, the boys offer them fresh-baked cookies and tea and there is no indication at all that this might somehow be not what boy campers would, should, or could enjoy doing. Check it out for a little afternoon entertainment and then hand it off to a tween/teen girl to enjoy.

Purgatory

Purgatory is deceptively pretty

Purgatory is deceptively pretty

I am not a LumberJane but I do enjoy a good bike adventure. Bookman was a good sport and took a ride with me today. We went to Purgatory Park. Purgatory has a creek too called Purgatory Creek. It is not a picnic and ballpark park but a wild-ish green patch in the midst of the outer suburbs. It is a trail around wetlands and the creek through trees and generally very nice and woodsy.

I was thinking Purgatory was a pretty pleasant place until we hit the hills. The hills are not big and long but short and steep. One in particular I struggled to get up and wished I had one more gear as I was pedaling as hard as I could and barely moving. I realized after I made it to the top that it might have been a good opportunity to practice standing up and pedaling. By the time I realized this it was too late and it turned out to be our last really hard hill. Oh well. Next time.

All in all, the trip to Purgatory and back was 41.7 miles/67km. Not too shabby.


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6. An interview with D. D. Everest – author of Archie Greene and the Magician’s Secret

Archie Greene and the Magician’s Secret by D. D. Everest takes you into a world where bookshelves are enchanted, librarians have magical powers, and spells aren’t just something to read about in dusty tomes. It’s ideal for kids around the age of 10 who perhaps enjoyed the magic of Harry Potter, but it can also can be enjoyed as a family read with younger children who’ll be excited by mysterious apparitions and strange goings-on.

Various Archie Green covers - from L-R: UK paperback, UK hardback, US

Various Archie Green covers – from L-R: UK paperback, UK hardback, US

Archie Greene receives a curious birthday present; an old wooden box containing a book written in a language he can’t read, along with the command to return this book to its rightful place on the shelves in the Secret Library. This is the first step on Archie’s journey to meet the family he never knew he had and a band of people dedicated to finding and saving magic books.

Atmospheric and exciting, I enjoyed this book so much I’ve since recommended it to several children in my 8-12 bookgroup. With a paperback edition hitting bookshelves early in June I took the opportunity to interview D.D. Everest about this book.

Playing by the book: Archie Greene and the Magician’s Secret is a wonderful fantasy novel. What is it about fantasy as a genre that appeals to you? I’m especially curious because of your background as a journalist and non-fiction writer, both of which seem to be about as distant as you can get from fantasy… which is maybe part of the answer?

D. D. Everest

D. D. Everest

D. D. Everest: You’re right. One of the (many) reasons I love the fantasy genre is that it is so far removed from my other work as a journalist. When you deal with dry facts all day it is such a treat to escape to another world of magic and adventure.

But I have always loved magical fantasy. My favourite books growing up were the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. What I love most about those books is the depth and detail that Tolkien gives to the world he creates, the layering of the stories and the myths and the cultures that he describes.

Playing by the book: I love books where true facts coincide with the story and this very much happens in Archie Greene and the Magician’s Secret; John Dee really did exist and was Elizabeth 1’s adviser, and there was indeed a Library of Alexandria which was destroyed by fire. What other truths have you smuggled in to your story? (What other truths did you discover during your research which you would like to have included in your story)

D. D. Everest: I think including real facts and places grounds a story. It connects it to the real world so it feels like you can almost touch it. It’s something I really wanted to do with the Archie books. Using history is a great way to give the story some of that depth that I mentioned before.

John Dee, who is in the first Archie book, was a real person. He was described as Queen Elizabeth I’s court magician. He really did collect books about magic and he did think he could talk to angels. The Great Library of Alexandria is also historically accurate, although the part about Alexander the Great’s magical book collection being kept there is just wishful thinking!

Another historical detail I included in the book is the Great Fire of London. In Archie’s world, the fire was started by a magical experiment that went wrong. That plays a big part in the second book Archie Greene and the Alchemists’ Secret.

Playing by the book: With another hat on you’ve written several non-fiction books. How has writing fiction compared? What’s been more difficult about writing fiction? And what has been more enjoyable? Do you still write non-fiction?

D. D. Everest: Writing fiction is much harder, especially fantasy because you are creating a whole world from your imagination. That world has to be plausible enough for people to believe in it and exciting enough for them to want to read about it.

Writing children’s books is the most challenging of all. Having said that, I don’t write for children as such. I write what I’d like to read. But I hope children will enjoy it.

The best thing about writing for children is that they have such rich imaginations that you have lots of licence to be creative. So, you have a big canvas. But the other side of that is they have very high expectations. They question everything in a way that adults don’t, which means they could get ahead of the plot or find holes in the logic. So you have to work really hard at that.

Playing by the book: Can you share a little of the research you did for Archie Greene and the Magician’s Secret – I imagine you spent time exploring the back streets of Oxford and visiting atmospheric libraries, perhaps even learning some bookbinding skills?

D. D. Everest: Luckily, I was doing some work at the university when I was writing the first book so I was in Oxford quite a lot. I wandered around at night taking lots of photos with my phone. I sometimes show the pictures when I do school events. Again, it grounds the story and makes it feel real.

Oxford

Oxford

For example, there is a description of when Archie first goes to the magical bookshop and he crosses a cobbled square and goes into some narrow lanes. If you go to Oxford it is very easy to find that cobbled square!

Playing by the book: Libraries play an important role in Archie Greene and the Magician’s Secret. Can you share a memory/experience of libraries and the role they’ve played in your life?

D. D. Everest: Most of my memories of libraries are of being told to be quiet because I was talking too loudly! That’s probably why I wanted the Museum of Magical Miscellany to be a noisy place, full of children laughing. Books should be exciting and fun. And magical books should be even more exciting and fun, so that’s how I imagined the Museum.

I have been lucky to see some famous libraries like the British Library, which are fabulous places. I’ve always wanted to have my own library – with revolving bookcases and secret passages. Perhaps I will one day!

Playing by the book: Did you always want to be a writer? If you weren’t a writer, would you rather be? (A professional football coach, perhaps?)

D. D. Everest: I have always wanted to be a writer ever since I was very young. I didn’t really know it at the time but looking back I can see it now. I was the kid who wrote pages and pages when the teacher asked us to write a story. My stories were always too long and complicated to finish in the lesson time. I still do that!

When I’m not writing I manage a junior football team. Most of them have been with me since they were about six – they are now 17. They are a great bunch. I’m not sure how good a manager I would be but I do enjoy it, especially on match days.

Playing by the book: What’s the most magical (in any sense) book you’ve read recently?

D. D. Everest: I really enjoyed Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell. It is very imaginative and beautifully written. The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman, is so original. The other really clever book I’ve just read is Lockwood & Co. The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud. He’s a great writer – I loved his Bartimaeus series.

One of many interior illustrations by  James de la Rue for the hardback edition of Archie Greene and the Magician's Secret

One of many interior illustrations by James de la Rue ffor the hardback edition of Archie Greene and the Magician’s Secret

Playing by the book: What magic trick would you most like to be able to perform?

D. D. Everest: I’d like to be able to vanish, so I could avoid people I don’t want to talk to. I’d love to have a permission wall around my study, too, like the one that protects the Museum of Magical Miscellany so that only people with the secret mark could come in. But best of all I’d love to be able to talk to magical books like Archie!

Playing by the book: Oh, yes I’m with you on that one! Here’s keeping our fingers crossed that such magic comes our way!

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7. Guest Post from Michelle Isenhoff

It’s almost summer! I live in Michigan, so during the few months when the sky is blue, the grass is green, and clouds are fluffy, I pack away my winter projects and hit the outdoors—preferably with a book in hand. Those days are just around the corner, so I’m stocking up my Kindle now. If […]

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8. Sloths


Too cute!

Sloths Are So Talkative!
Did you know #Sloths made this adorable sound? It's like they're calling out for us to hug them, too cute! What animals do you think they sound like? Tell us below and share the video if you want to see more #SlothSundays.
Posted by Animalist on Sunday, May 17, 2015

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9. Musical Book Beats for Little Ones

Music and books have many benefits in common for a baby’s long-term development. Learning about patterns and sequencing, counting, memory, expressing language and emotions are all powerful advantages to being exposed to these experiences. And when combined, this makes for a most engaging, dynamic and instrumental union. Here we explore a few upbeat and rhythmic […]

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10. Setting and POV

Your setting is filtered through the point of view character's senses.

http://www.adventuresinyapublishing.com/2015/04/pov-secret-to-creating-memorable-setting.html

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11. THE DEVIL YOU KNOW by Trish Doller

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12. Monday's Stories:Fact or Fiction

Running behind due to the weather.

Hello, Monday's Stories will be posted as soon as possible. I'm running behind due to power outages. My utilities just returned, so hopefully they will stay on, at least long enough for me to publish a post. Thank-you for coming by, and Monday's stories will be published today. Thank you for your patience, and I hope you will return.    

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13. Finnish revivals

       The modern Finnish classics suddenly appear to be hot: Dedalus are working on a new translation of Aleksis Kivi's Seven Brothers, and Penguin Classics have just brought out (in the UK) a new translation of Väinö Linna's Unknown Soldiers in Liesl Yamaguchi's translation.
       Linna's classic novel was previously translated in 1957, as The Unknown Soldier, by Alex Matson -- a notorious translation-disaster, perpetrated by the English-language publishers. As Pekka Tarkka writes in his overview of the novel at Books from Finland:

The German and English translations were total losses. Initially, The Unknown Soldier was Englished by Alex Matson, known as an excellent interpreter of the works of Aino Kallas and the Nobelist F.E. Sillanpää. Collins of London and Putnam of New York, however, did not find his translation satisfactory: they decided to have it revised by an editor, unidentified to this day, who then proceeded to falsify and rewrite -- one can say, forge -- the text in an outrageous manner.
       In his Translation and the Problem of Sway Douglas Robinson relates that:
Matson was so angry at the American publisher for radically abridging and otherwise revising his translation that he refused to allow his name to appear as the book's translator, and never translated literature again.
       So now there's this new translation -- see the Penguin publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.co.uk -- and the opinions seem to be all over the place:
  • It's: "A Finnish War and Peace -- without the interesting bits" suggests Max Liu in The Independent. And: "A Finnish classic this may be but, as in war, you're better off with the Russians." Ouch.

  • "The prose is short, direct, and to the point, and Yamaguchi renders it into an English so good it hurts to read" warns (rather dubiously -- it takes a lot for prose to cause actual physical pain) Daniel Goulden at the Asymptote blog.

  • "In places it feels as if Linna set out to depict a war of attrition that would simultaneously grind down his reader. And yet those who last the arduous course will find much to admire in Linna's unsparing prose and gritty realism. Not a comforting novel by many means, but a profound and enriching one." finds Malcolm Forbes in the Sunday Herald
       I knew to avoid the previous translation-edition, but my interest has been piqued.

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14. SEX!!!!

Thank you for taking part in this experiment.

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15. George MacDonald Fraser debut

       George MacDonald Fraser had grand success with his Flashman-novels, and others, like his Quartered Safe Out Here, also continue to enjoy great popularity (the latter is, somewhat bafflingly, one of the most consistently bought-via-the-Amazon-links titles at this site), and now Caroline Davies reports in The Guardian that Lost novel of Flashman Papers creator to be published for first time, as Fraser's first effort, Captain in Calico, will be published for the first time this fall; see the Mysterious Press publicity page, or pre-order your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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16. Free Review Copies at Audiobook Jukebox

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17. #699 – Stella Brings the Family by Miriam B. Schiffer & Holly Clifton-Brown

cover
Stella Brings the Family

Written by Miriam B. Schiffer
Illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown
Chronicle Books      3/05/2015
32 pages     Age 4—8

“Stella’s class is having a Mother’s Day cerebration but what’s a girl with two daddies to do? It’s not that she doesn’t have someone who helps her with her homework or tucks her in at night. Stella has her Papa and Daddy who take care of her and a whole gaggle of other loved ones who make her feel special and supported every day. She just doesn’t have a mom to invite to the party. Fortunately, Stella finds a unique solution to her party problem in the sweet story about love, acceptance, and the true meaning of family.” [book jacket]
.
Review
Stella’s teacher at Elmwood Elementary School announces a celebration for Mother’s Day and each student can invite a “special guest.” Jonathan, Leon, and Carmen are inviting their mothers. Howie even has two mothers to invite! Stella does not have a mother. Her classmates wonder—without a mother—who reads to her at night, helps her with homework, and kisses her when she gets hurt. Stella has many people who do those things. She has her Papa and Daddy, Nonna, Aunt Gloria, Uncle Bruno, and Cousin Lucy. Jonathan suggests inviting them all, but Stella is not sure. On party day, Howie is there with his two mothers and Jonathan is with his grandmother (mom is away in the army). The party is a big hit and everyone has a great time.

kids table

Stella Brings the Family delves into what a family consists of today. No longer simply mom and dad plus kids, today’s configurations of families can be anything that consists of people loving and caring for each other. That can be mom and dad plus kids, or a mom and child, a grandmother and grandchild, even two dads and a daughter, like Stella’s family. Stella Brings the Family is not a book about homosexuality. It does not try to explain why Stella has two dads or anything about the two dads, except that they love Stella.

invite daddy papa stella

What Stella Brings the Family is, is a celebration of family and a celebration of acceptance. None of the kids—or special guests—care about the kind of family each child is a member of, but rather that each child has someone who reads to them at night, helps them with homework, and kisses them when they get hurt. Kids will recognize themselves and their friends in Stella Brings the Family. Debut author Schiffer keeps the story’s focus on Stella, who stands out thanks to her curly red hair.

sp5

The watercolor illustrations beautifully render the multicultural and multigenerational family members. The kids’ invitations, with their drawings of family members, are terrific. The invites look like how someone Stella’s age (6—8) would write, though just a little better than most that age might draw. Clifton-Brown elicits the emotional story clearly through Stella’s expressions. At day’s end, the worn out teacher rests her head on her desk. Stella tells her things will not be as hectic for Father’s Day . . . she will just bring two dads, not the entire family. While not a huge twist or a big laugh, the ending is sweet, just like the story.

STELLA BRINGS THE FAMILY. Text copyright © 2015 by Miriam B. Schiffer. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Holly Clifton-Brown. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.

Purchase Stella Brings the Family at AmazonBook DepositoryChronicle Books.

Learn more about Stella Brings the Family HERE.
Meet the author, Miriam B. Schiffer, at her Young Children column:  http://bit.ly/ReadingChair
Meet the illustrator, Holly Clifton-Brown, at her website:  http://www.hollycliftonbrown.co.uk/
Find more picture books at the Chronicle Books website:  http://www.chroniclebooks.com/
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Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

Review section word count = 384

stella brings the family


Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Debut Author, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: 2 dads, 2 moms, Chronicle Books, family composition, Holly Clifton-Brown, Miriam B. Schiffer, multicultural, multigenerational, Stella Brings the Family

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18. This...



Forthcoming from Spectral Press
Astounding artwork by David Chatton-Barker

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19. प्लास्टिक बोतल में पानी

प्लास्टिक बोतल में पानी कितना खतरनाक हो सकता है कभी सोचा न था.

कुछ देर पहले मेरी सहेली मणि का फोन आया कि उसकी तबियत ठीक नही पेट दर्द है बहुत तेज. मैं तुरंत उसके घर पंहुची. बहुत ज्यादा दर्द हो रहा था. दवाई ले चुकी थी. मैने पूछा कि आज दिन भर क्या क्या खाया तो उसने बताया कि वो दोपहर तक  बिल्कुल ठीक थी. शाम को शहर से बाहर जाना था जल्दबाजी में कार मे पानी की बोतल रखना भूल गई. रास्ते में प्यास लगी तो कार मे एक  प्लास्टिक बोतल में पानी  रखा मिल गया  शायद दस बारह दिन पहले रखी होगी . वही पानी पी लिया. बस उसी के बाद से …

बस , अब मैं समझ गई थी. मैने कही पढा था कि कार में रखी प्लास्टिक की बोतल जब धूप या तापमान की वजह से गर्म होती है तो प्लास्टिक में मौजूद नुकसानदेह डाइऑक्सिन का रिसाव शुरू हो जाता है। ये डाइऑक्सिन पानी में घुलकर हमारे शरीर में पहुंचता है डाइऑक्सिन कोशिकाओं पर बुरा असर डालता है. वैसे उसे तो मैने ज्यादा कुछ नही कहा पर सचेत जरुर कर दिया कि आगे से वो कभी कार मे रखे  पुराने पानी को कभी न पीए… इस बार तो मात्र दर्द ही हुआ था पर इससे भी बुरा और  खतरनाक कुछ भी हो सकता है…

दवाई के बाद उसे आराम हुआ और वो सो गई तो मैं भी घर लौट आई और नेट चला कर इसी विषय पर खोज की … और बहुत कुछ पढा और आप के साथ भी शेयर कर रही हूं

Drinking water from a plastic water bottle poses serious health risks

http://rajasthanpatrika.patrika.com/story/health/drinking-water-from-a-plastic-water-bottle-poses-serious-health-risks-972113.htmlप्लास्टिक की बोतल में कई नुकसानदेह केमिकल होते हैं, जो गर्म होने पर रिसकर पानी में मिल जाते हैं। ये खतरनाक केमिकल सेहत को नुकसान पहुंचाते हैं। कैंसर, कब्ज और पेट संंबंधी कई बीमारियों के अलावा कई अन्य नुकसान हैं इन बोतलों के।

एक रिसर्च में यह सामने आया है कि प्लास्टिक के बोतल और कंटेनर के इस्तेमाल से कैंसर हो सकता है। हवाई के कैंसर हॉस्पिटल के डॉक्टर एडवर्ड फुजीमोटो ने प्लास्टिक और कैंसर पर काफी शोध किया है। उनका कहना है कि प्लास्टिक के बर्तन में खाना गर्म करना और कार में रखे बोतल का पानी कैंसर की वजह हो सकते हैं। उनका कहना है कि कार में रखी प्लास्टिक की बोतल जब धूप या तापमान की वजह से गर्म होती है तो प्लास्टिक में मौजूद नुकसानदेह डाइऑक्सिन का रिसाव शुरू हो जाता है। ये डाइऑक्सिन पानी में घुलकर हमारे शरीर में पहुंचता है। डाइऑक्सिन कोशिकाओं पर बुरा असर डालता है। इसकी वजह से महिलाओं में ब्रेस्ट कैंसर का खतरा बढ़ जाता है। Read more…

मैने तो अपना प्लास्टिक बोतल में पानी का अनुभव शेयर किया।  क्या आप भी मुझे कोई अपना अनुभव बताना चाहेगें … हो सकता है कि आपके अनुभव से किसी को फायदा हो जाए …

The post प्लास्टिक बोतल में पानी appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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20. What Makes a Picture Book Mega-Hit?

It’s not that it’s impossible to predict the “next big thing” in children’s literature, but it’s also not exactly a hard science.  Indeed, whenever a publisher starts spending beaucoup de bucks on a given title (hardcover f&gs, a serious marketing campaign for a debut author, etc.) I cringe a bit.  They’ve made their bets and they’re willing to bank on them.  I, on the other hand, make my own kinds of bets.  As a Materials Specialist it’s my job to figure out how many copies of any given title should be added to my library system.  Sometimes it’s a no brainer.  And sometimes I’m far off the mark.

Now picture book blockbuster hits, for whatever the reason, are where I fall down the hardest.  It’s not just that I can’t see them coming.  It’s often that I’m blind to whatever esoteric elements are in play, making those books big time hits.  With that in mind, today I’m going to talk about some of the top picture book blockbusters to come out in the last ten years.  Please note that I’m avoiding picture books with TV or other media tie-ins.  These are the folks who got where they are on their own merits.

BookWithNoPictures

The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak – It’s not the first time someone did this idea (the Elephant and Piggie title We Are In a Book does something very similar to what Novak does here) but I’ll admit that I haven’t ever seen anything exactly, precisely like this. With that in mind I bought a reasonable number of copies for my library system.  Then it took off like gangbusters.  Folks who’ve never even heard of Novak were pulling it from the shelves.  I’m not going to say it’s the most successful celebrity picture book of all time, but it sure comes close.  Wowzah.

DayCrayonsQuit

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers – Though it’s by no means as pro-union as Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type, one does wonder what the anti-union folks out there think about Daywalt’s smash success.  Definitely didn’t see this one coming.  I figured it was a bit wordy and long for total and complete New York Times bestseller domination but about the time it was on the list for 4+ months I knew we had a genuine blockbuster on our hands.

FancyNancy

Fancy Nancy by Jane O’Connor, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glaser – You know, it’s very cool in some circles to disparage FN, but as crazy huge hits go, I’m a fan.  It’s a lot smarter than folks give it credit for.  You can trace its initial popularity to its sheer untold gobs of pink fanciness, but it sustains its hold on the marketplace in large part because of the writing.

GoodnightGoodnight

Good Night, Good Night, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld – No idea.  None.  We see fun construction equipment picture books all the time.  And we see popular subjects mixed with the bedtime book genre all the time too.  Robots go to bed.  Dinosaurs.  But for whatever reason, this hit all the right buttons.  I can’t account for it.  Consider me broadsided by its success.

LittleBlueTruck

Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle, illustrated by Jill McElmurry – I don’t think I realized, until this very moment, that the illustrator of the book is the same woman behind Kathi Appelt’s lovely 2015 title When Otis Courted Mama.  Huh!  In any case, this is a case of a book that’s a huge hit everywhere in the country except NYC.  I only know about it because it’s always on the Publishers Weekly bestseller list.

PeteCat1

Pete the Cat by Eric Litwin, illustrated by James Dean – This is one picture book that can credit its massive success to its creators’ self-promotion.  It’s also one of the rare self-published books to go mainstream and then blockbuster success.  Doesn’t hurt matters any that there’s a catchy little YouTube song that goes with it.  Other books have tried to replicate its success.  So far, no takers.

Pinkalicious

Pinkalicious by Victoria & Elizabeth Kann – According to legend, this book came about when an editor heard the song “Fergilicious” and thought it would make sense (post-Fancy Nancy‘s success) to do a book called “Pinkalicious”.  So the Kanns were hired and that was that.  Like Pete the Cat, subsequent sequels have only been credited to one of the original creators.  So there’s that.

PressHere

Press Here by Herve Tullet – Rarer than the self-published picture book that becomes a massive success?  The imported picture book.  Translations don’t usually yield the kind of crazy popularity enjoyed by Tullet’s best known title.  Still, the King of Preschool Books managed to make his sense of humor, style, and originality work here in the States.  No small feat.

Now what did I miss?

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21. Artist of the Day: Antoine Marchalot

Discover the work of Antoine Marchalot, Cartoon Brew's Artist of the Day!

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22. ‘Song of the Sea’ Wins Top Prize at Irish Academy Awards

Cartoon Saloon's latest animated feature goes up against live-action features and wins!

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23. Write, Share, and Give

Share your story today!

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24. The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough

In the first chapter of The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough, a baby boy is visited by the manifestation of Love. Appearing as a man in a fine gray suit, Love gives the boy a steady heart and these words: "Have courage." The next night, the manifestation of Death visits a baby girl across town and marks the child with a tear and whispered warnings. The first chapter is set in 1920; the next chapter skips forward to 1937, when the players are seventeen years old and the Game officially begins.

Told in third person, the book shuttles between the perspectives of the players - Flora, an African-American aviatrix who tends to planes during the day and sings jazz music at her uncle's club at night, and Henry, a scholarship student who lives with his best friend's well-to-do family - and the game runners - Death, a cynical feminine presence who would give Once Upon a Time's Queen Regina a run for her money, and Love, a masculine presence who believes in the transformative power of love. Other characters who come into play include Henry's best friend Ethan, Ethan's little sister Annabel, Ethan's cousin Helen, Flora's grandmother, Flora's uncle, and others at the jazz club. The third-person narrative permits the readers to know more about the characters, the events, and the overall big picture than the main players, who are unaware of their part in the Game. Revelations and connections lead to some tense page turns, especially as the story ramps up to the climax.

Death is a master manipulator, cunning and some would say cruel as she finds a way to get close to Henry and use him as a pawn. Meanwhile, Love is determined and hopeful, and his side story is something that made me want to give Brockenbrough a very strong high-five. The world would be a better place if all people were open-minded and optimistic and true to themselves.

The contrast between Death and Love is stark, but what's even more interesting is what they have in common. Consider, if you will, what they want; what they seek; what they are willing to sacrifice; and what they refuse to give up. It's eye-opening and tear-jerking and thought-provoking and other hyphenated things. If you are an emotional reader, you should probably have a box of Kleenex nearby. Also, perhaps you should sit in a comfy chair so you can grip the arm of it and/or curl up in a ball when necessary.

The writing throughout the novel is thoughtful. Every scene offers a complete picture of the setting and the people present. For example:

"Do you ever wonder," Helen said, walking down the stairs towards him, "if flowers feel pain when someone cuts them?" She lifted one from the basket. "Does it look like it suffered?"

"Oh, Helen," Mrs. Thorne said, "what a curious thing to say. I'm sure Henry has thought no such thing."

It was true. But, he realized, he would not be able to look at a flower again without wondering whether it had suffered, or whether anyone had cared.
- Page 94

The word "someday" is introduced early in the book as something important to the characters, and it leads to an impactful song that I wish we could hear.

If you liked The Game of Love and Death, you should check out The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Read the original book, then see the classic film. The book was written by Josephine Leslie, but she used a pseudonym: R.A. Dick. The book also inspired a TV series, a sitcom. You should also read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, which is directly narrated by Death, who is omniscient and genderless and more of an observer than a manipulator. Set on the European homefront during World War II, you'll need Kleenex to handle the tears you'll shed while reading that book, too.

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25. Happy Days

Good friends, good food, good weather - hey,

What more could one desire?
(I guess I'd add close family ties
Or else I'd be a liar!)

But hanging out with those you like
Or even those you love 
Is what the stuff of happy days 
Appears to be made of.

An anecdote, a sip of wine
And some camaraderie
In comfortable surroundings
Is the perfect day for me.

How lucky if you have tha chance
To laugh, relax and schmooze*
And for the icing on the cake -
It's nice to have some booze!

*converse

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