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1. Oscar Isaac Lands Villain Role In X-Men: Apocalypse

Yeah, at first I read "Oscar Pistorius".  I come from another century!

After landing a role in ‘Star Wars VII’ it looks as though the up and coming star will be heading to the ‘X-Men’ universe… as he takes the title role in ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’.


X-Men: Apocalypse - Oscar Isaac lands villain role


Not content with nabbing a role in the galaxy far, far away it looks as though Oscar Isaac is determined to conquer modern geek culture. And now the actor has reportedly signed up for the upcoming ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ as the movie’s big, bad villain.

According to Variety, the 35-year-old Guatemalan-born American actor has nabbed the role of Apocalypse in the upcoming ‘X-Men’ sequel.

“Oscar Isaac will be playing the titular comic book villain in 20th Century Fox’s ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’,” they revealed. “[Bryan] Singer has described the upcoming ‘X-Men’ film, which is expected to feature all cast members including Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and James McAvoy, as the most destructive movie in the franchise.”

Of course, Apocalypse has already taken to the big screen in a post credit teaser after the recent ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’. But while the scrawny-looking mutant was busy with his newfound pyramids, it looks likely that he’ll bulk up a bit for the upcoming sequel.

“‘Apocalypse’ will have more of the mass destruction that ‘X-Men’ films, to date, have not relied upon,” said Singer in a recent interview. “There’s definitely now a character and a story that allow room for that kind of spectacle.”

Reportedly taking place during the 80s, ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ will feature younger versions of the classic ‘X-Men’ characters. And while it seems that ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ has found its villain, the hunt is apparently on for a young Cyclops and Jean Grey.

But will they be able to conquer the mighty Apocalypse? For now, we’ll have to wait and see. Although, if Isaac has to go up against Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, I don’t fancy his chances.

‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ heads to cinemas on 19 May 2016.

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2. Comic: Being Thankful

 

I've decided that the girl's name is Keiko.  Haven't come up with a name for the baby yet, though.

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3. Step-by-step Guide to Assigning Free ISBNs for ebooks through CISS

CISS is the Canadian ISBN Service System that’s f […]

The post Step-by-step Guide to Assigning Free ISBNs for ebooks through CISS appeared first on aksomitis.com.

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4. Free ebooks Review: Ring on Her Finger by Lisa Swinton



Disclaimer: I received no compensation from the author or publisher for this honest review.


About the Book

What happened in Vegas should stay there, not follow Amanda home, newly wedded to the man who broke her heart.

After celebrating college graduation with her friends in Las Vegas, Amanda St. Claire wakes up with a terrible hangover and a ring on her finger. Her day gets worse when she finds out she's married to rich playboy Blake Worthington—the guy she has loathed the past four years. Amanda convinces Blake to legally terminate the marriage and they both return home like nothing ever happened. That is, until Blake shows up on her doorstep and Amanda has to come clean with her family.

Together for better or worse while the legalities are cleared, Amanda reluctantly plays along, but then the unthinkable happens---she finds herself falling in love with Blake.

Can they overcome the past? Or will it end their future before it even starts?

Buy the Book


Here's what I'm giving it:

Rating: 4 stars

Here's why:

There were a couple of things that kept this book from being a 5-star for me. First, I want to start off with the things I liked.

Amanda's and Blake's past played a huge role in their present interactions and also brought new meaning to the "put your past behind you" adage. The contrast between their families was well done and made me grateful for the family I do have.

What I didn't like was how long Amanda held on to her grudge/stubbornness. Granted, I do know/have known people who are "stubborn as a mule" before, but I think it was just a little bit overdone and got to be very irritating.

The other thing was how Amanda was in denial or reality even after getting a good slap of it. That also annoyed me.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, especially for those who are looking for "clean" romances.

0 Comments on Free ebooks Review: Ring on Her Finger by Lisa Swinton as of 11/25/2014 10:02:00 PM
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5. The Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing for Children's Book Authors




 
It's difficult for any writer to get published by a traditional publisher, whether you write for adults or for children. That's why more writers than ever are turning to self-publishing. But before you jump on the bandwagon, especially if you write for children, it's helpful to find out more about self-publishing.
Check out the recent post by guest blogger Sangeeta Mehta on publishing expert Jane Friedman's blog. Mehta, a former acquiring editor of children's books at Little, Brown and Simon & Schuster who runs her own editorial services company, interviewed agents Kate McKean and Kevan Lyon for answers to key questions on self-publishing children's books.
Here are some highlights:
Kate McKean: “The anecdotal evidence I’ve seen, however, is that the more titles a self-published author has up, the more visibility they can possibly garner.”
Kevan Lyon: “I do believe that YA writers probably have an edge over middle grade writers in the indie publishing world.”
Kate McKean: “For picture book writers, the cost of producing the book is one hurdle, and distributing it is another bigger hurdle.”
Kevan Lyon: “Self-publishing a full-color print picture book can be very expensive with little room for a profit margin, especially without distribution.”
Click here to visit Jane Friedman's blog for the complete post.
What do you think about the pros and cons of self-publishing? Please share your experiences.
Hope you enjoyed this post! To be notified of future updates, use the subscription options on the right side bar.


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6. …continuing ramblings about muses and inspiration and finding stories, I give you: Erato, the muse of love poetry (warning: this page is fairly messy and filled to bursting with words)

muse-five


Filed under: journeys, love, poetry, songs

1 Comments on …continuing ramblings about muses and inspiration and finding stories, I give you: Erato, the muse of love poetry (warning: this page is fairly messy and filled to bursting with words), last added: 11/25/2014
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7. I Accidentally Read a Gayle Forman Book

by andye I Was HereBy Gayle FormanHardcover: 288 pagesPublisher: Viking Juvenile (January 27, 2015)Language: EnglishGoodreads | Amazon Cody and Meg were inseparable. Two peas in a pod. Until . . . they weren’t anymore. When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—

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8. Annual Black Swagday Giveaway

Wow, I can't believe we're already to Black Friday weekend--seriously where has the year gone??????

But deadline panicking aside (MEEP!), it's also time for my annual Black Swagday Giveaway!!!  

Since this is the time of year where everyone has gifts on their minds--and I personally feel that signed books are THE BEST gifts anyone can give--I have a nice handy way for you guys to make your gifts even more special.

If you buy any of my books (Keeper of the Lost Cities, Exile, Everblaze, Let the Sky Fall, and/or Let the Storm Break) this weekend--which just so happens to be the biggest shopping weekend of the year, between Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday--and fill out the form at the end of this post, I will send you the corresponding swag pack below.

If you buy any of the KEEPER books, I'll send you this (for each book purchased):


















And in case you can't tell, that's:
- a signed (and personalized) bookplate 
- 4 Team Stickers
- 1 5x7 character art print (featuring the awesome illustrations by Courtney Godbey)
(*whispers* if you buy more than one KEEPER book, I *might* throw in some other goodies as well... #justsayin')



And if you buy either of the SKY FALL books, I'll send you the corresponding swag you see in this pic (for each book purchased):
So if you buy Let the Sky Fall you'll get: 
- a LTSF signed (and personalized) bookplate
- a LTSF bookmark
- a LTSF sticker

And if you buy Let the Storm Break you'll get:
- a LTSB signed (and personalized) bookplate
- a LTSB bookmark
- a LTSB sticker 


All of this swag is exclusive--only available here--and hand signed by me!

And there's no limit on how many I'll give away. Everyone who fills out the form between now and 11:59 pm pacific time on Monday, December 1, 2014 WILL get the swag. I'm also not requiring proof of purchase. If you say you bought it, I believe you. But remember, every time you lie, an alicorn's poop stops sparking AND WHAT WOULD THE WORLD BE WITHOUT SPARKLY POOP??????

It also doesn't matter where you buy the book (though supporting your Local Indie Bookstore guarantees you a life of sunshine and happiness) or if you buy the paperback or the hardcover (ebooks and audiobooks count too!). And you're welcome to buy as many books as you want! (Just make sure you fill out the form separately for each book, so I know to send you more prizes).

Giveaway is also open internationally!!!


**Please note** This giveaway ONLY applies to books purchased between 11/26/14-12/1/14, and does NOT include books previously purchased. Of course I super-appreciate if you've bought my books before now, but I've also done previous giveaways for many of those purchases that you would've had a chance to take part of (sorry if you missed them). So this is only for new purchases, and if you are desperate for the swag you could always buy a book to give as a gift (what better gift could there be, really? Plus then you can get your friends/family/teachers hooked on the books so you have someone to talk about them with) and keep the swag for yourself--I won't tell! :)

Um... I *think* that covers everything--but if I missed something, of course feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments. 

Here's the form you'll need to fill out (and if it doesn't load for some reason, go HERE)

Loading... Read the rest of this post

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9. Writer Wednesday: I'm a Very Thankful Author

Every book has a dedication page and an acknowledgments page so authors can thank all those people who helped make the book. Well, to be honest, I hate writing these. I'm always afraid of leaving someone out (by accident of course), and to be honest, I could gush for pages upon pages thanking people I'm happy to have with me on my writing journey. Still, I try to keep these short, knowing most people don't read them anyway. ;)

Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I want to say a general thank you to everyone reading this post. I don't care if you've ever read one of my books. I'm thankful that you found me here and that you allow me to share a little of me and my writing with you each week. I hope everyone has a great holiday filled with good food, family, friends, and a whole lot to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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10. “The French Laugh At The British At Angouleme –We’ve No Comics Industry!”



And So They Might


And that is a quote, baby.  Not from one person but several including some comic professionals from the UK who will not repeat those words in public because “I just do not want the grief that follows saying that!

Oh, yes. On the old CBO I got the reaction to writing things like this but not just off the top of my head for controversy but fully backed up by facts and statistics.  I once suggested that all UK comic bloggers add a banner to their sites: “Let’s Revive The UK Comic Industry” and the reaction?

I was told I had “a Saviour complex” and a lot worse.  “Oh, so YOU are going to come and save us all?!!”  Really nasty things were written and not just on CBO but on comic blogs and forums.

Let me make this clear (because ALL the postings and responses were kept –a full file of all this is with a solicitor “in case”): I was being attacked because I suggested all of us in UK comics get together and try to rebuild the comic industry as best we could.

At that point I realised that the main problem was that we never really had an industry anyway –the comics business was so crooked that it used to be known to tax people as “the double cooked books with triple layer mud”.  Distributors were no better and often acted in collusion with publishers.

Once the fan-boy got into comics that was it.

But I was asked why I do not include the Small Press as the new comics industry?  Well, I believe that I have written before that it is but it does no real good. It is a dilettante comics industry.

Someone just Googled “Dilettante Comics” to see if they are collectibles.

Now I know people do tend to misconstrue my words even though I try to make them clear so hold on to your lederhosen.

I began drawing as a youngster.  In school I edited the school magazine Starkers The Magazine That Tells The Naked Truth which was in…1971/72?  The title came from the Deputy Head, Mr. Wright –an ex-RAF man and one of the most popular teachers at Greenway Boys School.  I do know that there was/is a magazine by that name from London(?).  Never seen it and I did an internet search recently and cannot find reference to it.  I am positive that I did see it advertised in publications such as Fortean Times (in the old days).

Anyway, one of the school secretaries complained and it was stopped at printing and burned.  Also, the rather pompous religious Head Master disliked immensely that I called it a “zine” –it was NOT a magazine and I kept saying it was a “little magazine –a zine”.

I later did lots of other work with newsletters, magazines, printers and from the late 1970s on, the Small Press world of fanzines.  I have a big collection of Small Press publications –poetry, prose fiction/sci fi as well as fanzines and comics.  Unlike today, the 1980s saw people from all over the UK exchanging their zines and if anyone needed a strip to fill a page or so everyone chipped in.  This was in letter writing days –no internet and phone calls were too expensive.

Also, we all knew comics.  Whether UK weeklies or the US comics from Marvel, DC, Charlton or the rather obscure companies.  And, of course, we all had our Alan Class comics.  Strange to think how many of us were into horror movies and particularly some of the classic black and white movies.  Then again, we were working in a black and white medium.  I was very happy when I also discovered a great many zinesters were fans of Orson Welles because of his masterful use of angles, shadows and the B&W medium.

In other words we were a community without internet and only after the Westminster Comic Marts and other one day events became more popular in the 1980s did any of us meet up.  There is a term you don’t hear these days –“marts” that were, basically, a hall full of people selling comics and zines and creators meeting up.  Going to the Westminster Marts was fun but we must have looked odd: meeting in a corner or on a staircase feeling different types of paper we drew on.  Checking out each others pencils,  pens (one typo and a letter “i” there and I could put a whole new slant on things!), brushes, sniffing inks and pens –checking which were alcohol based or whatever because certain pens combined with certain papers or boards could be very messy. Most of all we talked.

Apart from one or two incidents involving certain people I was never once accused of throwing anyone out of a window or into the Thames.  There were no witnesses. Understand?  NO….WITNESSES.

Most of us were starting work in comics or already working in the medium.  We knew about our subject.  Everything except earning big money!

Mastering a photocopier not to mention paste-ups, removing ghost-lines and so on was not something you had a choice in.  It was what you had to learn if you were in comics.

In the mid-1990s computers started appearing and before you knew it everyone new who came along was thinking they were going to produce and get rich from a Teenage Mutant Turtles or Blade Runner rip off.  And the ‘new pros’ –well some were quite open about using tracing paper to draw their comics.  In the huge stack of news zines and papers I have there are some true horror stories about this.  Stick figures as “a genuine artistic comic medium”…..no, I really never did throw that man in the Thames though he deserved to be.

And it only got worse.  Once the wave of mostly untalented creators vanished they were replaced by those arty farty elitists who believed that only European comics –Bandes Dessinee matter and that everything else was purile.  Those people had been around in the 1980s and we used to call them “bow-tie *******” (this is a family site).  Here is the problem, though. These people only considered Franco-Belgian BD (must NOT call them “comics”!) legitimate.  Spain and Italy had comic industries and though Germany had a small industry that mainly reprinted Franco-Belgian and US comics Bastei Verlag at least had their books going to more than a dozen European countries.

Alan Clark and the late Denis Gifford –particularly Denis- were nastily mocked and their work looked at as “low interest” because, unless it was The Beano, The Dandy, The Eagle were any other publications or creators not in those comics of any worth? Denis had a life long love of comics which the alcohol and dope loving new creators didn’t like.  Despite the lies and rumours I can tell you that Denis did receive and read Small Press publications –including mine.

People who were “names” in the 1980s continued to hang on in though, and I find it funny, they become media comic luvvies but you go to a Small/Alternative Press event and mention their names and you get blank looks!  But, if as “media luvvies” they get to pay their rent, eat and enjoy life good luck to them. I have no problem with that.

Now while comic Expos –the new “Marts”-  are popping up all over the country it has to be said that, say, 90% have no interest in the Small Press and have never seen a SP comic –and if they have they probably grimaced the same way their mothers do when they find that “odd stain” on the bed sheets (ladies I ask you to submit your own comic slob image).

One comic geek –because TV programmes such as The Big Bang Theory have made comics “hip” and everyone wants to be known or called a comic geek.  Bless, they’ll tire of it after a while.  And everyone is a new comic collector spending money on the ‘cool’ comics that many do not read and a few think that because they were conned  into paying huge amounts for a comic featuring a character(s) from new movies –which they find out are NOT the movie characters- they think will make them rich one day….when every other one of the THOUSANDS of copies of that comic suddenly turn to dust!

Comics toys, cosplay (including those with no knowledge or interest in comics) and TV/Movie merchandise are their world. Honestly, real old style comic fans are driven away from events and their passion by hugely inflated prices of comics and event entry fees.

Then we have the SP/AP people.  Never heard of Stan Lee (other than “Is he that old guy –the character from The Big Bang Theory?”.  Never heard (NEVER) of Jack Kirby or Steve Ditko.  John Romita snr (notJnr) or John or Sal Buscema?  Gene Colan? John Byrne?  No.  “Oh, they made a comic out of that Avengers film?” –it’s at this point that I usually fall to my knees (which hurts) and raise my fists to the heavens and scream out “KHAAAAAAAAAAAAN!” and some ***** says “Mr Khnan from the TV comedy series? Why –is he okay?”

Honestly, I make a point of talking to these people and most, let’s face it, are at the oldest in their mid-30s so have never known UK comics other than the horrendous merchandise crap with toys attached.  Big names in UK comics –John Cooper? No.  Mike Western?  No.  Terry Hooper-Scharf?  “Didn’t he used to be held hostage somewhere?”  Yes. I have a beard so I’m mistaken for Terry Waite. 

WHAT THE ***** DO YOU MEAN “WHO?”!!!

Well, I suppose at least he kept the handcuffs and radiator.

But these people move in their own little circles.  I never realised that until I started name checking with people.  Some people in zines today do go to various events outside of cliques.  Our own Paul Ashley Brown –doyenne of the Bristol, London and he’s even known outside the UK.

I’m that man on the hill The Beatles sang about.  “Who are the Beatles? What man –Stan Lee?”  Do   not   try    my   patience……..grrrrrrrr

At events you note that exhibitors, if I may call them that, have their own entourages.  Their friends and others go to their tables and talk, buy a zine, talk….Twenty tables in a room with twenty different groupings of mates who might –might- look around and possibly buy things.

These SP/AP people are producing their own comics or zines (some really do have no idea their books are classed as comics!) without having read comics.  Some may have seen what friends have produced and decide to have a go.  Others may have seen something about European comics.  A good few start at art college.  But they have no knowledge of the history of comics and I have genuinely had these young folk say “Well, when did they start comics -1970s or 1980s?”

So we have an ever increasing number of SP/AP events around the UK –in London Dimitri Pieri is a human dynamo at organising events-  but most are independent of one another and some have no knowledge of the other events.

I meet the occasional creator who knows about comics but to a limited degree because, again as I found out from personal experience, most were not born until the 1980s (by which time the UK comic scene was dead) so if they are “doing comics” it is in the US format.  These days I just introduce myself –“I come from the comics world of another century and you may call me…..Methuselah!”

You are getting some of these nuggets of gold, aren’t you?

Most AP/SP people have been to Art School/college or whatever –some are still students and others have full time jobs.  The idea –if it is ever there as anything more than a dream- is to make zines, have fun and if you sell a copy or two –great! Very few actually get to go on to make a living out of their work and when I’ve asked about this in the past I get a furrowed brow and “make a living out of it? “ and they look at me oddly or laugh –and I am fully clothed.

Independent Comics are the same in a way.  A LOT of vanity publishing –you should neverpay any publisher to have your work printed.  If it is that good, even if they don’t pay: they should shoulder the costs.  But I did wonder how the same publishers could attend one event after another throughout the year while claiming thay they do not sell enough books to earn a living or pay their creators?  Some do make money but there are a lot of gullible creators out there.

Here is the thing and I observe these things because “its what I do”: the Indie publishers are the same as the AP/SP people.  True most hope for that comic that is going to make them huge sums of money but they, too, have their groupies/entourages who do follow them to events.

You see, Print On Demand (POD) makes it possible for anyone to publish their own comics.  Good quality production in both hardback and paperback.  For Indie/SP/AP there is the buzz of seeing the books printed.  Books with your work in.  You don’t even have to learn all the old skills just use your computer –even print limited runs of zines on your own printer.

Do I get a buzz from publishing my books? No.  It’s hard work and I do it to try to make a living.  At events I tend to be the only person who is doing so professionally. The fact is that everyone else is doing this as a past time because they like doing it and have paying jobs so the “tomato ketchup on toast” meal is something they don’t have to face. 

Do you know that back in the 1980s I regularly went without food for days?  Usually three to four days and a maximum was six days –publishers didn’t care because they tried to hold back your earned cheque as much as possible (Fleetway/Egmont owe me over £5,000 from the 1990s but I’ll never see that!).  Trick is that you drink fluids and when you get food eat lightly.  The idea of a slap-up meal after days of no food is dumb because you will be spending a lot of time in the toilet afterwards!

I’m meandering in my textual …..what am I writing? I should make notes.  And before you ask: NO, printing off copies of bank notes on your printer is no good.  Shops do not accept them and they are illegal….that’s what the police told me.

You pay £25 for a table.  Sell one zine or nothing but you’ve had a good day and met your mates blah blah blah.  Really?  That £25 loss cuts into me. 

The attitude is not a professional one it is an amateur one. I like a lot of these people I meet.  Some are really lovely.  But they are dilettantes.  Nothing wrong with the attitude but it creates a major problem.

You see, if those attending events just go to see their friends and buy their books but do not look around at other tables, maybe a glance of a few seconds, then the people who are selling books to make a living are not.   You carry that over to a hundred events a year, small or large, then you are talking about many thousands of people who, were they more widely interested in comics as in the “old days”, would be looking around, checking other tables and books out (most will not even lift a book off a table let alone look inside) and chatting with creators they do not know.  These days they do not.

And at a comic event you will find “dilettante fan” who only goes for cosplay but not to buy books.  Or the “Nuevo geek” who is only after the “cool” Marvel or DC comics or the merchandise collector.
“Comics” has splintered into factions –one not knowing the other.  In the 1980s/early 1990s, we would buy our Marvel and DCs at a mart or convention but we would also check out and buy SP books.  None of the factions really knows of one another or cares.  Its not “their scene.”  If all of those factions did combine we would have one hell of an industry in the UK.

But that will never ever happen.

The comics background and mindset is now gone and comic ‘geeks’ make fun of or stick up their noses when the SP/AP is mentioned and vice versa.  Totally and utterly ridiculous.

Try to make a living out of comics in the UK gets you no real respect. 

So maybe those French BD people have a point –except they are also suffering from a stuffed shirt attitude.  For decades BD publishers and collectors have looked down their noses at the “poor relations” publishing US comics in French or original French books as now published by Hexagon Comics.  They just ain’t arty.  But the huge success of movies tied to Marvel and DC has made a few BD publishers sit up and take notice because there is nothing more “arty” than the smell of money.  So now they repackage some BD to take advantage and make money from this.

At least, though, they do have a comics industry.  And I so wish Germany would wake up and get in on the act.

For the UK the dilettantes –however sweet- have taken over and it has killed us.

A more happy, warm ending to a miserable depressing posting?

Okay.  A butterfly.  Let’s smash a butterfly on a wheel (5 kudo points to whoever got that 1980s music reference).


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11. 2015 Challenges: Birthday Month Reading Challenge

Host: You, Me, and a Cup of Tea
Name: 2015 Birthday Month Reading Challenge (sign up here)
Dates: January - December 2015
# of Books: 12
Note to self: remember to leave links to reviews on her linkies post. 

January:
February:
March:
April:
May:
June:
July:
August:
September:
October:
November:
December:

Ideas for each month:
January
  • J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Wilkie Collins
February
  • Charles Dickens
  • Victor Hugo
  • Mo Willems
March
  • Dr. Seuss
  • Lois Lowry
April
  • Margaret Oliphant
  • Anthony Trollope
  • Beverly Cleary
  • Charlotte Bronte
  • Ngaio Marsh
May
  • Jerome K. Jerome
  • Pat Frank (Alas, Babylon)
  • Arthur Conan Doyle
June
  • Dorothy Sayers
  • Thomas Hardy
July
  • Josephine Tey
  • Erle Stanley Gardner
  • Candice F. Ransom
  • Joan Bauer
August
  •  Georgette Heyer
  • Orson Scott Card
  • E. Nesbit
  • Kenneth Oppel
  • Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
  • P.L. Travers
  • Diana Wynne Jones
September
  • Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Agatha Christie
  • Roald Dahl
  • Gail Carson Levine

October
  • Julie Andrews Edwards
  • Karen Cushman
  • Lois Lensky
  • Shel Silverstein
  • Laurie Halse Anderson
  • Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
  • Katherine Paterson
November
  • C.S. Lewis
  • Neil Gaiman
  • Astrid Lindgren
  • Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • Mark Twain
  • George Eliot
  • L.M. Montgomery
  • Louisa May Alcott
  • Neal Shusterman
December
  • Avi
  • Carol Ryrie Brink
  • Rudyard Kipling
  • Mercer Mayer
  • Rex Stout
  • George MacDonald

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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12. Impending

The highway signs flashed “High Alert!
Tomorrow, don’t be driving.”
The day before Thanksgiving,
There’s a winter storm arriving.

So traffic crawled and inched along
Much slower than just slow
‘Cause everyone was on the road
To beat the coming snow.

You’d think that Martians had attacked
Or that the world was ending
When all that fuss is for some weather –
Lousy, but impending…

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13. 2015 Challenges: Hard Core Re-reading Challenge

Host: You, Me, and a Cup of Tea
Name: Hard Core Rereading Challenge (sign up here)
Dates: January - December 2015 (books started before January do not count)
# of Books: Level 5; 50+ Rereading Coma
Note to self: check back to see about review linkies. MUST, MUST, MUST add links to reviews to the linkies.

What I (Actually) Reread
1.
2.
3.

What I Plan On Rereading: 

Georgette Heyer Novels I Want To Reread in 2015:
  1. Devil's Cub
  2. These Old Shades
  3. Frederica
  4. Venetia
  5. Civil Contract
  6. Sprig Muslin
  7. Black Sheep
  8. Masqueraders
  9. Cousin Kate
  10. Convenient Marriage
  11. False Colors
  12. Talisman Ring
Elizabeth Gaskell Novels I Want to Reread in 2015:
  1. Ruth
  2. Wives and Daughters
  3. North and South 
Anthony Trollope Novels I Want To Reread in 2015:
  1. Lady Anna
  2. He Knew He Was Right
  3. Belton Estate
Charles Dickens Novels I Want to Reread in 2015:
  1. Our Mutual Friend
  2. Bleak House
  3. Oliver Twist
Wilkie Collins Novels I Want To Reread in 2015:
  1. Woman in White
  2. Armadale
  3. Man and Wife
Mystery Novels I Want To Reread in 2015:
  1. Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie
  2. The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
  3. Some Buried Caesar by Rex Stout
  4. The Golden Spiders by Rex Stout
  5. Have His Carcase by Dorothy Sayers
  6. Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy Sayers
  7. The Nine Tailors by Dorothy Sayers
  8. Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers
  9. Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy Sayers
Historical Novels I Want to Reread
  1. Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman
  2. London by Edward Rutherfurd
  3. Sarum by Edward Rutherfurd
  4. Gone with The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
    Science Fiction Novels I Want To Reread in 2015
    1. Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
    2. Worthing Saga by Orson Scott Card
    3. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
    4. Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
    5. Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
    6. Foundation by Isaac Asimov
    7. Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov
    8. Second Foundation by Isaac Asimov 
    9. Babylon 5: To Dream in the City of Sorrow by Kathryn M. Drennan
    10. Babylon 5: The Shadow Within by Jeanne Cavelos
    11. Bablyon 5: In the Beginning by Peter David
    12. Babylon 5: Legions of Fire: The Long Night of Centauri Prime by Peter David
    13. Babylon 5: Legions of Fire: Armies of Light and Dark by Peter David
    14. Babylon 5: Legions of Fire: Out of the Darkness by Peter David
    Fantasy Novels I Want to Reread in 2015
    1. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
    2. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
    3. The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan
    4. The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan
    5. The Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan
    6. The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan
    7. Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan
    8. A Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan
    9. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
      Children's Novels I Want to Reread in 2015 (I'm sure I'll be adding *more* to the list.)
      1. Welcome to the Grand View, Hannah by Mindy Warshaw Skolsky
      2. You're the Best, Hannah by Mindy Warshaw Skolsky
      3. Love From Your Friend, Hannah by Mindy Warshaw Skolsky
      Dr. Seuss Books I Want to Reread in 2015
      1. 1937 -- And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street
      2. 1938 -- The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins
      3. 1939 -- The King's Stilts
      4. 1940 -- Horton Hatches An Egg
      5. 1947 -- McElligot's Pool
      6. 1948 -- Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose
      7. 1949 -- Bartholomew and the OObleck
      8. 1950 -- If I Ran The Zoo
      9. 1953 -- Scrambled Eggs Super
      10. 1954 -- Horton Hears a Who
      11. 1955 -- On Beyond a Zebra
      12. 1956 -- If I Ran the Circus
      13. 1957 -- How The Grinch Stole Christmas
      14. 1957 -- The Cat in the Hat
      15. 1958 -- The Cat In the Hat Comes Back
      16. 1958 -- Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories
      17. 1959 -- Happy Birthday to You
      18. 1960 -- One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
      19. 1960 -- Green Eggs and Ham
      20. 1961 -- The Sneetches and Other Stories
      21. 1961 -- Ten Apples Up On Top (Theo LeSieg)
      22. 1962 -- Dr. Seuss's Sleep Book
      23. 1963 -- Dr. Seuss's ABC
      24. 1963 -- Hop On Pop
      25. 1965 -- Fox in Socks
      26. 1965 -- I Wish That I Had Duck Feet (Theo LeSieg)
      27. 1965 -- I Had Trouble Getting to Solla Sollew
      28. 1968 -- The Foot Book
      29. 1969 -- I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today and Other Stories
      30. 1970  -- Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?
      31. 1971 -- The Lorax
      32. 1972 -- Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now
      33. 1972 -- In A People House (Theo LeSieg)
      34. 1973 -- Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are
      35. 1974 -- There's A Wocket in My Pocket
      36. 1974 -- Great Day for Up
      37. 1974 -- Wacky Wednesday (Theo LeSieg)
      38. 1975 -- Oh, The Thinks YOu Can Think!
      39. 1975 -- Because a Little Bug Went Ka-Choo (Rosetta Stone)
      40. 1975 -- Would You Rather Be A Bull Frog (Theo LeSieg)
      41. 1976 -- Hooper Humperdink…? Not Him (Theo LeSieg)
      42. 1977 -- Please Try to Remember the first of Octember (Theo LeSieg)
      43. 1978 -- I Can Read With My Eyes Shut
      44. 1979 -- Oh Say Can You Say
      45. 1980 -- Maybe You Should Fly A Jet (Theo LeSieg)
      46. 1981 -- The Tooth Book (Theo LeSieg)
      47. 1982 -- Hunches in Bunches
      48. 1984 -- The Butter Battle Book
      49. 1986 -- You're Only Old Once
      50. 1987 -- I Am Not Going To Get UP Today
      51. 1990 -- Oh, The Places You'll Go
      52. 1995 -- Daisy-Head Mayzie
      53. 1996 -- My Many Colored Days
      54. 1998 -- Hooray for Diffendoofer Day
      55. 2011 -- The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories

      © 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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      14. Bookselling in ... the US

             In The Los Angeles Times Frank Shyong describes how To Survive in the U.S., Chinese Bookstores Evolve Way Beyond Books.
             Yes:

      Internet competition has forced bookstores across the nation to close, but in the San Gabriel Valley, they've evolved. Chinese bookstores ship packages, repair laptops, supply lottery tickets. One bookstore became a classroom, another a convenience store.
             Sadly:
      As for books, they mostly gather dust.

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      15. Watch A Roundtable with Oscar-Contending Animation Directors and Producers

      A 40-minute video roundtable with six feature film directors and producers contending for an Oscar this year.

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      16. I hadn't understood review

             The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Diego De Silva's I hadn't understood.
             The second in De Silva's series is about to come out -- My Mother-in-Law Drinks; see the Europa editions publicity page, or pre-order your cppy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk -- but I figured I should get to this one first.

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      17. Garden notes, Thanksgiving week 2014

      photo (48)

      Faded: the sunflowers. They’re drooping in sad-Charlie-Brown fashion all along the side wall. They amuse me.

      In bloom: yellow daisies, masses of them. Pink geraniums, always. Orange zinnias, still going strong. Sweet alyssum and snapdragons, recently added. (The summer alyssum crop, grown from seed, carpeted a corner of the yard all summer, then went brown and weedy. We missed them and put in a few nursery plants to tide us over until the next batch of seeds comes up.) Bougainvillea, small but promising. Lavender, keeping the bees busy. Basil, because I forgot to pinch it off.

      In fruit: Tomatoes! Hurrah! I moved them to the front yard this year and voila, they are producing abundantly.

      But overshadowing all of these by a mile: the renegade pumpkins. Last year (Halloween 2013) we had one jack-o-lantern and two smaller uncarved pumpkins. These got left alone when we tossed the melting jack-o-lantern. (That’s what carved pumpkins do in Southern California. They dissolve on the stoop.)

      The two little pumpkins became a quiet science experiment during the course of the year. One was partly under a bush and retained its integrity for months. The other, in full sun, decomposed rapidly. All of us enjoyed comparing their progress during our comings and goings from driveway to front door.

      By July, the shaded pumpkin had joined its mate in the circle of life: its skin crisped and cracked like old, brittle paper. Seeds spilled out everywhere. Did I pay them any mind? I did not.

      In August, we noticed sprouts. Not only at the site of the departed pumpkins, but also along the side wall near the sidewalk.

      photo (49)

      By October, we had vines. Big sprawling vines with huge leaves, trailing all across the lawn and beyond. We had to keep kicking them off the sidewalk back onto the grass lest they trip up passersby.

      And now, two days before the final pumpkin holiday of the year, we have (at last count) a crop of six young pumpkins of modest size in various shades of green and yellow. Not orange. No, not quite orange yet.

      pumpkin

      I figure they’ll be ripe in time for Christmas.

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      18. Nigerian Writers Series

             Hoping to emulate the success of the African Writers Series -- see, for example, my review of James Currey's history of The African Writers Series and the Launch of African Literature, Africa Writes Back -- the Association of Nigerian Authors.has launched a Nigerian Writers Series, now announcing the first ten titles (from fifty total and thirty-eight 'valid' submissions) that will be published by a variety of Nigerian publishers.
             See also Henry Akubuiro in The Sun on the New dawn for Nigerian writers this might facilitate.
             Sounds like a good idea, in any case, and I hope to eventually see some of these titles.

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      19. Mini-Reviews: Short Form (Congratulations, By the Way, The Reason I Jump, and Evil Eye)

      From Goodreads:
      Three months after George Saunders gave a graduation address at Syracuse University, a transcript of that speech was posted on the website of The New York Times, where its simple, uplifting message struck a deep chord. Within days, it had been shared more than one million times. Why? Because Saunders’s words tap into a desire in all of us to lead kinder, more fulfilling lives. Powerful, funny, and wise, Congratulations, by the way is an inspiring message from one of today’s most influential and original writers.
      This is, honestly, another addition to the list of short motivational books that people publish and promote around graduation time in order to make some money.  You can find the full text online or even watch Saunders deliver the actual speech, but I am a total sucker for gift books, especially when I can get them from the library.  I'm also a sucker for Saunders, so of course this immediately went on my holds list as soon as it was available.

      I loved the message and the idea of finding ways to be kind to everyone in every situation.  It's a good, very short read, and I'd recommend finding a copy to look through.  It's not going to take you more than half an hour tops and it's full of great thoughts and brilliant writing.  As far as spending $14 to own a copy - I'd stick to picking it up at the library, unless you're enough of a Saunders fan that you just have to own everything he prints (which is totally acceptable).  

      You’ve never read a book like The Reason I Jump. Written by Naoki Higashida, a very smart, very self-aware, and very charming thirteen-year-old boy with autism, it is a one-of-a-kind memoir that demonstrates how an autistic mind thinks, feels, perceives, and responds in ways few of us can imagine. Parents and family members who never thought they could get inside the head of their autistic loved one at last have a way to break through to the curious, subtle, and complex life within.
       
      Using an alphabet grid to painstakingly construct words, sentences, and thoughts that he is unable to speak out loud, Naoki answers even the most delicate questions that people want to know. Questions such as: “Why do people with autism talk so loudly and weirdly?” “Why do you line up your toy cars and blocks?” “Why don’t you make eye contact when you’re talking?” and “What’s the reason you jump?” (Naoki’s answer: “When I’m jumping, it’s as if my feelings are going upward to the sky.”) With disarming honesty and a generous heart, Naoki shares his unique point of view on not only autism but life itself. His insights—into the mystery of words, the wonders of laughter, and the elusiveness of memory—are so startling, so strange, and so powerful that you will never look at the world the same way again.
      This one may be pushing it as far as being considered short form, but I need to fit it in somewhere and I think this is the closest I've got.  It IS a very short, very easy to read book.  I think I read it in just one sitting over the course of an hour or two, if that long.  It's set up as a series of very short (half a page to three page) essays answering questions that Naoki and his family are commonly asked about autism.

      For a book that was written using an alphabet grid, this is amazingly well done.  The translation is also flawless.  I understand that some reviewers see this as a sign that the book isn't really written by Naoki, but I refuse to accept that autism means someone can't have a well-developed interior mind and life.  It's beautiful and enlightening and you need to read it.

      Joyce Carol Oates is one of the most prominent writers of her generation, and she is fearless when exploring the most disturbing corners of human nature. In Evil Eye, Oates offers four chilling tales of love gone horribly wrong, showing the lengths people will go to find love, keep it, and sometimes end it.
      It's hard to come up with much to say about this one that isn't covered by "four novellas of love gone wrong."  There's a reason Joyce Carol Oates is known for her short fiction - most of the time it's amazing.  This is a great example of a collection that I found riveting and disturbing in all the best ways.  If you're a fan of the darker side of things, Gillian Flynn style, this is a good collection to pick up.  

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      20. Athens Prize for Literature

             As Theodoros Grigoriadis reports at his weblog, they've announced this year's winners of the Greek Athens Prize for Literature, with Anthony Marra's A Constellation of Vital Phenomena winning the best translated category (dominated by translations from the English; see the shortlist, which included titles by Coetzee, McEwan, Banville, and Hollinghurst) and Tηλέμαχος Κώτσιας' Kώδικας Τιμής taking the Greek novel prize (see also the Ψυχογιός publicity page).

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      21. Happy Thanksgiving from the Royal Dinosaur Family!

      Happy Thanksgiving from the Royal Dinosaur Family!


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      22. I'm On Tour! Enter To Win A Copy Of My Book!




      Book Tour

      Hi everyone:

      Good News! The day is finally here. My book tour begins today. Please complete a raffle through BK book tour and win a chance to get a free e-book of Ignition: AN Educator's Journey. Good luck everyone!





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      23. This Weekend in Dublin: Irish VFX & Animation Summit

      The second Irish VFX + Animation Summit will take place this weekend in Dublin, Ireland.

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      24. When bad things happen to good characters



      Last week I got to visit a school in my neighborhood to talk about my book, The Desperate Adventures of Zeno and Alya. The kids had excellent questions about parrots and muffins and writing. One boy wisely chose to email me. He knew that his question would spoil part of the story for others. And so, if you haven't read the book ...... please be advised.

      SPOILER ALERT!    (I've always wanted to say that.)

      With his permission, I'm going to share his emails to me and my answer.

      Hello, 

      My name is Johnny and I'm nine years old. 

      I loved your book! I really loved the adventure Zeno was on and how he had to fly over the Atlantic Ocean. I also liked when Alya climbed the six steps. There was so much tension and excitement.

      I was hoping Zeno and Bunny would stay friends. I know sometimes characters die in books, so I was just wondering why you chose him to die?

      Thank you, 
      Johnny C.
      Hi Johnny,

      I'm glad that you loved my book. But I'm really grateful that you asked me such an important question. I had to think a lot about why I chose to let Bunny die.

      First, I wondered did any of the characters really have to die? I think the answer to that is yes. If a book is realistic, then the events that the author describes should have real consequences. I think that Zeno's dangerous journey over the ocean is more exciting because you knew that bad things really might happen. Without real risks and real dangers,  his accomplishment wouldn't mean as much.

      Hawks do kill pigeons. They don't do it to be cruel. They do it because they need food. I think you can accept that the hawk would attack a bird. But you want to know why did that bird have to be Bunny?

      I could have let the hawk attack a different pigeon. But Zeno is so selfish, he wouldn't have helped anyone except Bunny. All of Zeno's adventures teach him important lessons. First he learns that a friend needs to fight for a friend. But he won't really learn how important that friendship is until he loses Bunny. Zeno has to learn the hard way.

      If Zeno hadn't learn those lessons, he wouldn't have been there to help Alya when she needed it. That would have been sad too.

      Like you, I hoped that Zeno and Bunny would stay friends. I do know that Zeno remembers everything that Bunny taught him. And, in that way, Bunny lives on.

      Thank you again for asking me such a great question.

      Sincerely,
      Jane Kelley



      Hello,

      Thank you for writing back to me. What you said made a lot of sense because Bunny was such a good friend and Zeno cared for Bunny and when Bunny died, it changed Zeno and made the story better. It was sad, but I realize why it had to happen.

      I can't wait to read your other books.

      Sincerely,
      Johnny C.





      I am grateful to Johnny for letting me share his thoughts on my blog. I'm lucky to have a reader who is willing to journey with my characters, over the Atlantic Ocean or up the six steps to a Brooklyn brownstone. And willing to think about why those journeys are important.

      I'm humbled to be reminded that my characters matter to my readers. Writing novels for kids is a privilege––and a responsibility. Sometimes bad things have to happen to good characters––but there better be a very, very, very good reason.

      (Thank you, Eliza Wheeler, for your amazing drawing of Zeno and Alya.) 

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      25. Sisters and Brothers at Luna Station

      “Sisters and Brothers,” my post in honor of the UN commemoration of the international day to end violence against women is up at Luna Station Quarterly.

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