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<<May 2015>>
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1. happy birthday, little sister!

This year's been a big one for my sister! She and her partner, Mike, have moved their whole bar, the Streamline Tavern a few streets away, and they've done a great job of it, but it's been LOADS of work.

Here's my dad helping out, making a new sign in a size that suits the new building.

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2. The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch written by Chris Barton; illustrated by Don Tate

The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch Written by Chris Barton; Illustrated by Don Tate Eerdmans Books for Young Readers. 2015 ISBN: 9780802853790 Grades 4-8 I received a copy of this book from the publisher. <!--[if gte mso 9]> <![

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3. Boost Your Optin Rate Today - It’s All About the Lead Magnets (Offers)

Being a marketer is a never-ending learning process. You’re always reading the heavy-hitters and doing research as to what’s working ‘now’ and what’s not. The reason? The rules to the game are always changing. Well, in my research I came upon an amazing article at Matthew Woodard’s site, “How I Increased Email Conversion By 469% Instantly.” It’s one of those articles that makes you say, “Ahhhh.

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4. Math Monday! I See A Pattern Here by Bruce Goldstone

It's MATH MONDAY! Join Mandy at Enjoy and Embrace Learning for the Math Monday Link Up!

I am a huge Bruce Goldstone fan and was thrilled to see his new book I SEE A PATTERN at Cover to Cover last week. I bought it, figuring it might be a bit primary for my kids but that we definitely needed to add it to our Bruce Goldstone collection.  If you are not familiar with this author/photographer, we've reviewed several of his books on the blog!

WOW! Was I surprised. I should have know that Goldstone would teach us more about patterns than I expected. I should have realized that he would take the book in directions I hadn't considered.  The one thing I love about his books is that there are so many places for readers to enter and engage.

As always the photos in this book are fabulous. The size and color draw you in immediately. For young students the visuals will be plenty to learn from and talk about.  For older readers, Goldstone includes options.

He begins the book talking about pattern, what makes a pattern, where we find patterns.  In the bottom corner of the first spread, there is a bright box with the heading "MathSpeak". In it he says, "Mathematicians use special words to describe patterns. Check out these speech balloons if you want to talk MathSpeak, too. Then on pages throughout the book, Goldstone introduces math words that go along with what he is sharing on the page.

Goldstone starts with simple patterns with beads and explains how they are made using slides. He continues on with ideas around rotation and symmetry, scale and tessellations.  There are some activities for kids at try at the end of the book.

This book, as with all of Goldstone's, is one that I am excited to bring to the classroom. Lots of ideas about patterns for kids to explore over time!

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5. The Mural is Being Installed This Week!

I just heard the really exciting news that my new mural in Castleford Library is going up on the walls this week! 

That doesn't mean I am taking my paints and brushes to Castleford. No, just like with the one in Wakefield Library, I designed and created the artwork digitally, rather than painting onto the actual walls, which would have been way too disruptive for the library and taken me far longer. 

This technique has proved a great idea (though I say so myself). It worked really well last time anyway. My design has already been printed onto rolls of special, heavy-duty wallpaper, which is then going to be pasted onto the walls of the library. Clever eh? This was the taken during the installation of the last one, a couple of years ago (goodness - it seems like yesterday):

Of course, this time things are much, much more complicated. the Wakefield mural was very big, but it was one panel, running the length of a single wall:

This time, the illustrations wrap around all four walls, weaving around various features and bits of furniture as they go. The design stretches from the ceiling right down to the floor. Which was great fun for me, but is going to be a bit of a nightmare for the installers. Thanks goodness I don't have to do that job...

The problems will come if the corners of the room and the ceiling joins are not exactly square. Anyone who has done any wallpapering at home will know what I mean. As the paper turns the corner, any anomalies will change the angle of things and could make the illustrations for the adjacent wall travel up over the ceiling! When you are wallpapering round the corner with a normal, patterned wallpaper, you stop at the corner to create an overlap, levelling things up anew, to make the paper continue straight. But overlaps and changes of angle could mean tigers with lumps missing, headless librarians and all sorts - Aaaargggggggh!

It is an old building, so you can see why, 
as well as being excited, I am a little anxious, and why I am very, very, very glad that a professional is doing the installation, not me!

I have asked the librarians to see if they can get photos of things in progress, which I will of course share with you, my gentle readers. There's going to be a big opening event at the beginning of June anyway, so there will be lots more photos then. 

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6. Conferring Toolkits: Class Stories, Shared Writing and Interactive Writing

Whether it's storytelling, or shared writing, or interactive writing, any piece of writing that your whole class created together is going to be extremely helpful to have at your fingertips while you are moving about the classroom conferring.

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7. Spotlight and Giveaway: Breaking Noah by Missy Johnson and Ashley Suzanne

This morning I have an excerpt and giveaway for Breaking Noah.  Enjoy!

Breaking Noah

By: Missy Johnson & Ashley Suzanne

Releasing May 12, 2015



What happens when you start falling for your worst enemy? Fans of Abbi Glines and Monica Murphy will relish this addictive novel of smoking-hot seduction—and revenge gone so wrong, it’s right.

I wasn’t always this jaded. I had a clear head, things I wanted out of life, and a concise plan on how to get there. For being only twenty-one, I pretty much had it all figured out. Until the day my cousin died.

I spent months going over all the details surrounding her death, trying to figure out how I missed the signs, and the only thing I could come up with was she would still be alive if it wasn’t for one person: her professor. So I transferred to his college, enrolled in his class, and set my new plan in motion.

First I’ll seduce him. Then I’ll ruin him. I’ve just got to stay strong and not let his charm and my emotions get the best of me. Because someone has to pay for her death. If it’s the last thing I do, I’m going to break Noah.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/02/breaking-noah-by-missy-johnson-and.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23636584-breaking-noah?from_search=true

Buy Links: Amazon | B & N | iTunes | Kobo | Publisher

Author Info: Missy Johnson
Missy Johnson is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who lives in a small town in Victoria, Australia, with her husband and her confused pets (a dog who thinks that she is a cat, a cat who thinks he is a dog . . . you get the picture). When she’s not writing, she can usually be found looking for something to read.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


Author Info: Ashley Suzanne

Ashley Suzanne has been writing for as long as she can remember. As a youngster, she was always creating stories and talking to her imaginary friends. Thankfully, her parents also carried this love of fiction, and helped her grow into the bestselling author she is today. When Ashley isn’t coming up with her next story, you’ll most likely find her on the couch, telling her husband all about her new book boyfriend, or spending quality time with her two gremlins . . . er, adorable children.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter| Goodreads


He’s flustered.

I suppose if I’d been caught stalking a student, I’d be flustered, too. I stand there with my hand on my hip, my eyebrows raised, waiting for him to say something. Containing my smirk is harder than I’d imagined. I really couldn’t have planned this any better if I’d tried. Oh, Karly, justice is so close, I can taste it.

I don’t even think he’s aware he’s glanced at my chest three times already. Noah’s already putty in my hands.

“Mr. Bain? Would you like to tell me why you’re at my home, of all places? You couldn’t be stalking me, could you?” The cool, sarcastic tone of my voice surprises even me. I had no idea I had it in me—so Karly-like. It’s as if her attitude’s flowing through me.

He’s so uncomfortable that it’s a real effort for me not to laugh. What the hell is he doing here, outside my apartment? This guy really is the definition of creep. The way he looked at me today, and now this? I shiver and run my hands over my arms. He might be the worst kind of predator—attractive, intelligent, with a smile that could charm the pants off a nun. It would have been easy for Karly to fall for him and never be able to see the disastrous results coming.

“I was in the area . . .” His voice trails off as his face resigns to the fact that there is nothing he can say to get him out of this. I don’t think watching him squirm will ever get old. How’s that hot seat feel? It’s only going to get worse.

“Dammit,” he curses, slamming his hands down on the steering wheel in frustration.

“Language, Professor Bain,” I chide softly. I lean forward so my arms are resting on the door frame of his car.

He runs a hand through his dark, unruly hair, his pale blue eyes darting around, and I can see the effort he’s putting forth to not look at me. Maybe he’s expecting me to be angrier than I am? That I’d be making more of a scene? But how can I be? This is perfect.

I never expected to have this kind of effect on him this early, and as creepy as he’s being right now, this is exactly what I want. I really thought I’d at least have to put in some sort of effort.

He finally speaks. “I wanted to check that you were okay.” His voice is quiet, and I’m confronted by how much I actually believe his words.

Don’t get dragged in, Zara. This is probably how he lured Karly, too. Acting allconcerned and gentlemanlike. I want to pull his heart straight out of his chest, but there’s much better ways to handle men like him.

“Why wouldn’t I be okay?” I laugh. I pretend his words don’t affect me, but they do. I’m not used to anyone outside of my family actually caring about me. I’m usually referred to as the lone wolf. With the exception of Karly and my brother, nobody knows me. I’ve never given anyone the chance. Not even Dillon. He’s seen glimpses of who I really am, but allowing anyone that close gives them the opportunity to hurt me.

“I had a feeling.” He shrugs, shaking his head as if he can’t put into words exactly what he’s doing. The sweat beading on his forehead and the slight tremor in his hands have me wondering if this really is out of character for him. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have come here, and you obviously weren’t meant to see . . .”

“That you were spying on me?” I supply. “I can assure you, Professor Bain, I’m quite all right, and not in need of saving, or whatever it is that you’re doing here,” I protest. “I can only imagine what the dean would say if she found out about this. I’m not exactly sure, but I would think that showing up at a student’s home in the middle of the night with some sort of feeling could land even the most trusted professor in some serious hot water.” Start begging, Noah. The unintentional trap I’ve laid for him: It’s pure genius. I only wish I’d thought of it myself.

“Please, Zara. Can we keep this between us? I’m sorry . . .” He curses again, gripping the steering wheel so tight his knuckles turn a ghostly white. I know the color well. I’m sure if I uncoiled my tightly wrapped hands, they’d match his perfectly.

I bite back a smile. I can’t help it; I’m amused, yet angered at the same time. How is it possible to feel both of these emotions simultaneously? Wanting to giggle and punch him in the face? I wish there were some manual to tell me which feeling I should have.

I’ve never seen a grown man so worked up before. His embarrassment is obvious, yet there’s something else I can’t put my finger on. Maybe genuine concern? But that can’t be the case. He hasn’t known me long enough to feel that way. He starts the engine and I step back, cross my arms over my chest and attempt to keep my fists hidden from sight. I bite my lip and watch him shift the gearshift into drive.

“Sure, Professor Bain,” I whisper, biting my lip. Releasing balled hands, my finger toys with the necklace that hangs around my neck, drawing his gaze once again to my breasts—a trick Karly taught me when we were teenagers trying to buy beer. Give a man an excuse to ogle your goodies and you’ve won without even having to try. I tilt my head and smile at him. “This will be our little secret, okay?” A secret that I’m going to use against you anytime I wish, I think to myself, inwardly rubbing my hands and cackling like a mad scientist.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, Ms. Hamilton,” he says nervously. He checks his blind spot, or to see if anyone else is watching our interaction, and sheepishly smiles.

I watch as he drives off, the car disappearing into the night. I stand on the road for a moment, trying to gather my thoughts before I head inside. The last thing I need is Dillon poking his nose around where it doesn’t belong. This is my fight.

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8. Reading Is Its Own Reward: Summer Reading and the 7th Annual #Bookaday Challenge

Originally posted on Donalyn Miller:
I cleaned the season’s first melted chapstick out of my car yesterday. Summer must be around the corner. Time to check the expiration date on last year’s sunscreen…

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9. Fusenews: Gravel in the bed

“If kids like a picture book, they’re going to read it at least 50 times, and their parents are going to have to read it with them. Read anything that often, and even minor imperfections start to feel like gravel in the bed.” – Mark Haddon

I’ve just returned from speaking at a magnificent writing retreat weekend at Bethany Hegedus’s Writing Barn in Austin, Texas.  That quote was one that Bethany read before Alexandra Penfold’s presentation and I like it quite a lot.  Someone should start a picture book blog called “Gravel In the Bed”.  If you need a good treat, I do recommend The Writing Barn wholeheartedly.  The deer alone are worth the price of admission.  And if you’ve other children’s book writing retreats you like, let me know what they are.  I’m trying to pull together a list.

  • I just want to give a shout out to my girl Kate Milford. I don’t always agree with the ultimate winners of The Edgar Award (given for the best mysteries) in the young person’s category but this year they knocked it out of the park. Greenglass House for the win!
  • As you know, I’m working on the funny girl anthology FUNNY GIRL and one of my contributors is the illustrious Shannon Hale.  She’s my personal hero most of the time and the recent post Boos for girls just nails down why that is.  Thanks to bookshelves of doom for the link.

Not too long ago I was part of a rather large gathering based on one of my blog posts.  The artist Etienne Delessert saw a piece I’d written on international picture books and how they’re perceived here in the States.  So what did he do?  He grabbed local consulates, flew in scholars, invited friends (like David Macaulay) and created an amazing free day that was hugely edifying and wonderful.  You can read the SLJ report We need more international picture books, kid lit experts say or the PW piece Where the Wild Books Are: A Day of Celebrating Foreign Picture Books or the Monica Edinger recap International Children’s Books Considered.  Very interesting look at these three different perspectives.  And, naturally, I must thank Etienne for taking my little post so very far.  This is, in a very real way, every literary blogger’s dream come true.  Merci, Etienne!

  • There’s a lot of joy that can come when when a British expert discusses their nation’s “forgotten children’s classics“.  The delightful Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature is out and its editor Daniel Hahn has recapped the books that he feels don’t get sufficient attention in Britain.  Very funny to see one of our American classics on this list (I won’t ruin which one for you).
  • How do we instill a sense of empathy in our kids?  Have ‘em read Harry Potter.  Apparently there’s now research to back that statement up.  NPR has the story.
  • Ooo. Wish I lived in L.A. for this upcoming talk.  At UCLA there’s going to be a discussion of Oscar Wilde and the Culture of Childhood that looks at his fairytales.  It ain’t a lot of money.  See what they have to say.
  • Because of I have ample time on my hands (hee hee hee hee . . . whooo) I also wrote an article for Horn Book Magazine recently.  If you’ve ever wondered why we’re seeing so many refugees from the animation industry creating picture books, this may provide some of the answers.
  • Over at the blog Views From the Tesseract, Stephanie Whelan has located a picture book so magnificent that it should be reprinted now now now.  Imagine, if you will, a science fiction picture book starring an African-American girl . . . illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon.  Do you remember Blast Off?

Of course you don’t.  No one does.  Stephanie has the interiors on her site.  And since the number of books that show African-American girls as astronauts are . . . um . . . okay, I’ve never seen one.  Plus it’s gorgeous and fun.  REPRINT REPRINT REPRINT!

  • Speaking of girls in space, I’ve never so regretted that a section was cut from a classic book.  But this missing section from A Wrinkle in Time practically makes me weep for its lack.  I WISH it had been included.  It’s so very horribly horribly timely.
  • As you’ll recall, the new math award for children’s books was established.  So how do you submit your own?  Well, new submissions for 2015 (and looking back an additional five years) will begin to be received starting June 1st. So FYI, kiddos.
  • Daily Image:

Know a librarian getting married?  Or an editor?  Or an author?  Gently suggest to them these for their registry.

Thanks to Stephanie Whelan for the link.


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10. Cartoon- Women Empowerment

cartoon-monica gupta - upबेशक, मंजिल दूर है हमसे पर हम मंजिल से दूर नही :)

इस बात में कोई दो राय नही कि हम महिलाओं का समय ठीक नही चल रहा … महिला असुरक्षा, रेप, मानसिक तनाव… पर ऐसे में नकारात्मक होने की बजाय हिम्मत रखनी पडेगी खुद को बोल्ड होना पडेगा फिर देखिए …

The post Cartoon- Women Empowerment appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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11. {Excerpt & Giveaway} TRACKED by Jenny Martin

Today we have the privilege of being the next stop on the TRACKED blog tour. This book is a lot of fun, and is one of the most anticipated books of the season. Below we have an excerpt, to give you a taste of what's to come, and don't miss the awesome giveaway at the end of the post! Enjoy! ~Andye TRACKED  Author: Jenny Martin Pub. Date: May 5, 2015 Publisher: Dial Books Pages: 400

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12. Interacting with agents in the wild

Last week was filled with revels surrounding the Edgar Awards,  then Malice Domestic. During much of this I was in the same place with authors, published and unpublished, agented, not-agented, ept and inept.  After a week of seeing some good interactions, and more than a few bad ones,  here are some tips on what to do to increase your chances that if you are looking for an agent, your interaction with one you meet in the wild will be a good one.

First, how to introduce yourself.

1. Tell me you read the blog.  It's better if this is actually true of course. As an opening, this is gold, because then I am thanking YOU, and can then ask where you're from and what you write.

If the agent doesn't write a blog, figure out something else, like "I saw your interview in Writers Digest, it was very helpful."

2.  Tell me that QueryShark helped you.  That's a sure-fire winner because then, I can ask you about your book.  This is so much more effective than you leading with "here, let me tell you about my book."

If you start by making it personal and important to ME, you've engaged my interest.  This is the first rule of selling, and if you want to talk to me about your book, you ARE SELLING.

Second, if you want to meet me, here's how to get on my radar at a conference:

3. Be nice to my clients. Often they introduce me to their friends at conferences. Any pal of a client is ok in my book.

4. Give good panel. I attend panels that my clients are on, and if you're fabulous I will buy your books and introduce myself.  How do you give good panel? You read the books of the other panelists, interact with the other panelists in a good way, and are charming. A light-hearted bio always helps.  A willingness to be funny about yourself too.  Not everyone is capable of giving great panel, but it's a great way to get my attention.

5. Win the William F. Deeck Malice Domestic Unpublished Manuscript grant. I pay serious attention to this contest.

Third, once the conversation gets started:

6.  Don't mention previous rejections. There's simply no way to reply to that, even if you say it without rancor, with something other than:
"Oh I was deranged, please send it again?"
"Oh did you find anyone who thought it was good?"
"Yea I remember that."

None of these lead to pleasant conversation. Pleasant conversation is your goal here!

Look for another gambit.  The very best one is asking about my clients:
 "How's that amazing Stephanie Jaye Evans?"
"I loved RUNNER!"
"Steve Ulfelder's books knock my sox off."

If you don't have those salvos available (and it's ok if you don't) ask what I'm reading. Ask if I'm having a good conference. Ask me if you can buy me a drink!

Since I too am in a social situation there with you, I am fully prepared to take your opening salvo and return it with gusto; Yes, I'd love a drink. Shall we find a waitress? What do you prefer?  or I'm exhausted I had to catch a 7am train! How did you get here? Where are you from?

See how that works? Now we're having conversation, and I don't want to eject you from my table because you started out with that stupid "hey you rejected me" thing.

Fourth, be attuned to setting

7. Don't interrupt a meeting. ASK if you're not sure. I was always glad to say "no, you're not interrupting" this weekend at Malice. I'm much more likely to be in a meeting if you see me talking to someone at BEA.  That said, two of my colleagues at Malice were there for LOTS of meetings, so don't ever assume. ASK.

8. Don't hover if I'm talking on my phone. 

9. Don't start a conversation on the way in to the Ladies. Start it when I'm washing my hands.

10. If I'm wandering around looking distracted and anxious, I'm probably trying to find the room I'm supposed to be in in five minutes. Asking if you can help me is a very nice thing to do.

When you look at that list, it's true, it's all about ME. Remember, this is a sales situation. You want my attention. I'm not sure yet if I want yours.

And if this feels one-sided, just remember, I'm in YOUR position at conferences when I'm introduced to or want to meet editors. These tips apply to that situation too.

Above all, remember agents are people. You're just not going to like some of us, and that's ok. I don't like some of us either.

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13. Hunting Finches

Paul Finch's latest Heck novel, Hunted, is released this week and you can meet Paul in Waterstones Liverpool One store on Wednesday 6th May 2015 at 18:30 where he'll be in conversation with Luca Veste.

Paul and his wife Cathy are awesome folk so if you're in the local area, come give Paul your support. The Bestwick and I will either be cheering from the front row (him) or the back row (me).

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14. MMGM Links (5/4/15)

Yes, I'm still in the revision cave (Have I mentioned NEVERSEEN is the hardest book I've ever written--but never fear, third time will be the charm!)  So as per usual lately, I'm putting together the MMGM links on minimum brainpower. Sorry again if there are mistakes!

- Rcubed's heart is stolen by STORY THIEVES. Click HERE to read her feature. 
- Jenni Enzor has chills for WINTER COTTAGE. Click HERE to see why. 
- Cindy Tran is featuring BREAKING THE ICE with an interview with GAIL NALL Kelly. Click HERE for all the fun.
- Rosi Hollinbeck is reviewing--and GIVING AWAY--THE PERFECT PLACE. Click HERE for all the details.   
- Natalie Aguirre has an interview with author Krista Van Dolzer and a GIVEAWAY of THE SOUND OF LIFE AND EVERYTHING. And if you check back on Wednesday she'll have another giveaway of JOSHUA AND THE LIGHTNING ROAD. Find both HERE.
- Greg Pattridge is charmed by MY LIFE IN DIORAMAS. Click HERE to read his feature. 
- Carl at Boys Rule! Boys Read! is marveling at THE SCORPION'S CLAW.  Click HERE to see what he thought.
- Rachel at What Rachel Wrote is spotlighting KIRA KIRA. Click HERE to see why.  
- Laurisa White Reyes has the cover reveal for CAMP OHMYGOSH. Click HERE to check it out.  
- Suzanne Warr is highlighting JOEY PIGZA SWALLOWED THE KEY. Click HERE to see why. 
- Mark Baker is spreading some love for NICK AND TESLA'S SPECIAL EFFECTS SPECTACULAR. Click HERE to see what he thought. 
- Jess at the Reading Nook is clucking for UNUSUAL CHICKENS FOR EXCEPTIONAL FARMERS. Click HERE to read her review. 
- Dorine White is finding beauty in THE LUCK UGLIES #2: FORKED TONGUE CHARMERS. Click HERE to find her feature. 
- Alex at Randomly Reading is gushing about FISH IN A TREE. Click HERE to see why 
- The Bookworm Blog is raving about EVIL SPY SCHOOL. Click HERE to see what they thought. 
- Sally's Bookshelf is championing LIKE A RIVER. Click HERE to read her feature. 
- The Rad Reader is rooting for THE RIVERMAN. Click HERE to see why.
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.   
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time!  
- The Mundie Moms are always huge supporters of middle grade. Click HERE for their Mundie Kids site.  

If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love on a Monday (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!) (Also make sure the post you send me is a new post, not one from earlier in the week. I try to keep the content fresh)

If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and spreading the middle grade love!

*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me.

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15. Celebrating my Fourth Blog Anniversary…Then and Now…

May the Fourth be with You...
ALL SYSTEMS GO! (First posted May 4th, 2011)

May the ‘Fourth’ Be With You!

Sorry. I couldn’t resist. After all, it is Luke Skywalker Day.

First, let me introduce myself—my name is Sharon Ledwith and I write young adult fiction. My genres include: time travel mysteries (kind of like a mesh of fantasy with a splash of sci-fi meets Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys), as well as paranormal stories where teens deal with psychic powers like psychometry, telekinesis, animal communication—stuff like that.

My intention of this blog is to:

#1 Get you to know me as a writer, and post my experiences as an indie publisher of eBooks.

#2 Introduce and showcase my stories and characters.

In a nutshell—market myself and promote my work.

That’s it really. You see, writing is all about the reader. My goal is to influence and empower today’s youth—the next generation—through the stories I create. I believe everyone is here at this time with a mission and a purpose, and every child has something to add to our evolutionary advancement. Children truly are the keys to our future. It is my hope to unlock this portent.

Wow! To be honest, I was so afraid when I started blogging and putting myself out in cyber-space. Reading my first post over again, I realize that I’ve come a long way in my writing journey. Back in 2011, I didn’t have a publisher and was still querying agents and publishers. This blog and my Facebook account was the beginning of my online presence, and I really felt like a fish out of water. But I kept blogging and posting on Facebook. I learned to share interesting and helpful posts for other authors as a way of connection. I figured out what works for me and what doesn’t—still an ongoing process, I must admit! And I continue to work on my author brand and platform through blogging and networking with other authors, readers, publishers, and bloggers.

I’ve also gotten better with time. Go figure. My intention has changed a lot since that first blog post. I’m much more confident and tech savvy then I was. Now I’m a published author, and represented by a literary agency. I’ve also learned to adapt to my environment, and go with the flow through the ups and downs of the publishing industry. So what have I learned in the last four years? In grand Oprah-like fashion, I’d like to share with you what I know for sure:

·         I’ve realized that I do NOT want to be an indie publisher, but rather be part of a publishing company. I’m more of a team player and had to figure that out for myself. I like having the support of a publisher behind me. Plus I didn’t have to look for, and invest in an editor, cover artist, and book formatter.
·         I’d rather write blogs that uplift or help authors and readers.
·         I love showcasing middle grade and young adult authors and their books and/or series on my blog for readers to find.
·         I enjoy doing Goodreads Giveaways. I’ve connected with so many readers this way!
·         Book blog tours are exhausting. I’ve learned to delegate blog tours to the professionals whenever possible!
·         Trying to fit into other authors’ shoes is painful and unproductive. Stand in your truth.
·         I can only be one place at a time. Too many social media accounts = too many distractions and not enough writing time. I decided to stick with Facebook, get on Twitter, join Google+ and Goodreads, and occasionally share on LinkedIn. That’s it!
·         I blog every Monday. I used to do it twice a week, but couldn’t keep up. I’ve learned being consistent keeps you out there and creates an audience.
·         I’ve learned to develop a positive mental attitude. Trust me, a PMA will keep you afloat on the days you just want to throw in the towel.
·         I’ve learned from other authors. Success leaves clues. Follow the clues.
·         Finally, I’ve learned that writing is both a business and a passion. It requires wearing two different hats. You need to juggle these hats if you want to be a successful author.

Where the Magic Happens...
I still believe writing is all about the reader. And I still hope to influence, uplift, and empower through my books. My personal motto is: I write to make people’s lives better, create something of value to make them smile. May the fourth be with you, everyone! Cheers! 

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16. Review: The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly

May Contain Spoilers


I decided to borrow The Great Zoo of China from the library because it has dragons in a modern setting.  The Chinese discovered a cave filled with dragon eggs 40 years before, and they have been secretly studying their new treasures, in addition to building a zoo to showcase them.  In their intense competition with the US, the Chinese are seeking to create a vacation and pop culture behemoth to rival Disney World.  If there are occasion setbacks, like when the dragons attack and eat their caregivers, well, that’s just an acceptable price to pay to finally bump the United States out of their position as the number one world leader.

This is a very fast, exciting read.  I couldn’t help but compare it to Jurassic Park, which I read, oh, a gabillion years ago.  Jurassic Park, like so many of Michael Crichton’s works, is heavy on the science in an effort to make his world more believable.  The Great Zoo of China is like Jurassic Park lite.  Not so much science, but the action more than makes up for it.  The first 22% or so is set up for making the zoo believable, but it comes across as a huge info dump.  Once the dragons go on their bloody rampage, the pace picks up, the info dumping is left largely behind, and protagonist CJ Cameron falls into one hair-raising predicament after another.  While at times I echoed CJ’s “You’ve got to be kidding me!” the dragon battles and desperate attempts to escape a painful end gobbled up in their massive jaws kept me turning the pages.  Rapidly.  I couldn’t put it down and finished in just a few hours.

The overabundance of exclamation points was jarring, and I thought they took away from the tension of the action.  After the first few, I wished I could replace them all with nice, sentence ending periods.  Alas, I suffered through many, many exclamation points, which soon had me cringing each time I saw one.  I thought they over emphasized the dragons’ actions, and instead of making the moment more exciting, just made me think, “oh, brother.” 

If you need a book for lounging around the pool, The Great Zoo of China is a great choice for your summer reading list.  It’s pure popcorn, with a kick ass heroine with nerves of steel.  The dragons are frightening death machines that easily match the might and power of the most advanced military helicopter, and evil villains who want to protect the zoo, and their country’s reputation, no matter the cost, just add to the chaos after the dragons revolt.

Rated F for FUN

Review copy borrowed from my local library

From Amazon:

In the blockbuster and bestselling tradition of Jurassic Park comes the breakneck new adventure from the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author Matthew Reilly whose imaginative, cinematic thrillers “make you feel like a kid again; [they’re] a blast” (Booklist).

It is a secret the Chinese government has been keeping for forty years. They have proven the existence of dragons—a landmark discovery no one could ever believe is real, and a scientific revelation that will amaze the world. Now the Chinese are ready to unveil their astonishing findings within the greatest zoo ever constructed.

A small group of VIPs and journalists has been brought to the zoo deep within China to see these fabulous creatures for the first time. Among them is Dr. Cassandra Jane “CJ” Cameron, a writer for National Geographic and an expert on reptiles. The visitors are assured by their Chinese hosts that they will be struck with wonder at these beasts, that the dragons are perfectly safe, and that nothing can go wrong.

Of course it can’t…

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17. Star Wars Epic Yarns: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back & Return of the Jedi by Jack and Holman Wang

Of course there is a specific market for Star Wars: Epic Yarns, the trilogy of books by twins Jack and Holman Wang, creators of Cozy Classics. However, this happens to be a very large market - one that has raised their children and grandchildren with these movies as part of their lives. Why am I reviewing these books? I was one of those people who stood in line, more than once, as a child to

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18. SIX Giveaways plus New YALit Releases 5/4 - 5/10 with Author Interviews

How did it get to be May already? Hopefully the April showers have brought a bounty of May flowers your way. If not, there are many amazing books releasing this week with covers as beautiful as a bouquet of flowers. Which new releases are you planning to add to your novel garden? Leave a comment and let us know!

Happy reading,

Jocelyn, Martina, Jan, Shelly, Susan, Lisa, and Erin


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Dust to Dust
by Melissa Walker
Signed Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Katherine Tegen Books
Released 5/5/2015

Perfect for fans of If I Stay or Imaginary Girls, Dust to Dust is the mysterious, thoughtful, and poignant sequel to Melissa Walker's haunting and heartbreaking novel Ashes to Ashes.

When Callie McPhee miraculously recovers from a tragic accident that should have taken her life, she thought her connection to the ghost world would be severed forever. And that she would never see Thatcher—the ghost she fell in love with in the hereafter—again. But when she receives unexpected signs from Thatcher, she's led down a dark road toward the angry souls who once tried to steal her soul's energy for another chance at life.

Now Callie must prevent the real world and the spirit world from colliding, and that could mean saying good-bye to people she'd never imagined she'd lose.

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by Aaron Karo
Hardcover Giveaway
Simon Pulse
Released 5/5/2015

A romantic comedy about high school, heartbreak, and having all the answers.

What if the secrets of dating and love were revealed in one simple formula? That is the tantalizing proposition high school senior Shane Chambliss offers the hopeless and hapless guys who come to him for relationship advice.

After the girl of his dreams breaks his heart, Shane devises a mysterious formula called the Galgorithm and establishes himself as the resident dating guru at Kingsview High School. But his attempts to master the art of romance go outrageously awry.

As Shane tries to navigate the ensuing drama, he must follow his heart, abandon all the rules, and ignore his own advice in a quest for true love. What he discovers, no formula could ever predict...

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Galgorithm?

My favorite part about GALGORITHM is the main character – Shane – and his relationship with his best friend, Jak. (Jak is a girl and J.A.K. are her initials!) I think we’ve all had a friendship in our lives that bordered on romantic without ever quite getting there, which was simultaneously fulfilling and frustrating. Shane is locked in a constant battle between his brain and his…let’s say crotch. Jak is awesome and an amazing friend, but Shane can’t help but think that there is something more. It makes him do crazy things. I’ve been there. I had a lot of fun exploring the thought process of a teenage boy who is crushing hard but doesn’t know how to act on it. Boys (and men) are in general pretty dumb I think. We’re all testosterone and instinct and very little cogent thought. But we mean well. Observing Jak interact, deflect, and engage with Shane was probably the highlight of constructing their story.

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Material Girls
by Elaine Dimopoulos
Hardcover Giveaway (5 Copies)
U.S. Only

HMH Books for Young Readers
Released 5/5/2015

In Marla Klein and Ivy Wilde’s world, teens are the gatekeepers of culture. A top fashion label employs sixteen-year-old Marla to dictate hot new clothing trends, while Ivy, a teen pop star, popularizes the garments that Marla approves. Both girls are pawns in a calculated but seductive system of corporate control, and both begin to question their world’s aggressive levels of consumption. Will their new “eco-chic” trend subversively resist and overturn the industry that controls every part of their lives?

Smart, provocative, and entertaining, this thrilling page-turner for teens questions the cult like mentality of fame and fashion. Are you in or are you out?

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Material Girls?

My favorite thing about MATERIAL GIRLS is perhaps the character of Ivy Wilde, a sixteen-year-old pop princess. From the beginning, Ivy is a mess of contradictions. She adores shopping sprees yet feels uncomfortable about the piles of clothes in her two-story closet. She craves the adulation of her fans yet dreams of a vacation alone. She pities her ordinary parents yet can’t help but notice how happy they seem despite not being famous. She knows she has the talent and drive to get what she wants out of life… if only she can figures out what that is.

I love my other protagonist, Marla Klein, as well, but Marla is the more typical dystopian heroine of the two. Ivy is both a critic and a victim of her consumer-driven, youth-obsessed world. It is an ambivalence I live with and one I think many readers will find familiar.

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Swept Away
by Michelle Dalton
Hardcover Giveaway
Simon Pulse
Released 5/5/2015

Beachfront love blossoms in this refreshing summer romance, in the tradition of Sixteenth Summer and Seventeenth Summer.

Mandy Sullivan isn’t exactly looking forward to the summer months as tourists invade her seaside hometown on the coast of Maine. Her best friend, Cynthia, has abandoned her for camp and her older brother just announced he’ll be staying at college taking classes for the summer, leaving Mandy with nothing to do and no one to hang out with. Hoping to keep herself busy, Mandy takes a volunteer job at the Rocky Pointe Lighthouse. On her very first day, Oliver Farmingham asks for a private tour. A new—and incredibly cute—face in Rocky Pointe, Oliver seems more interested in Mandy than the lighthouse and its history.

Without her best friend at her side, Mandy is scrambling to act the right way and say the right things when Oliver is around. Cynthia—not Mandy—has always been the confident, flirtatious girl that everyone wanted to be around. As Mandy and Oliver spend more time together exploring the coast, biking through the woods, and attending the local summer festivals, their budding friendship becomes much more. But with Mandy’s insecurities creeping to the surface, can she open her heart to someone who will only be in town for three months?

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Swept Away?

The research! The book is very much based on a place in Maine where I spent a summer, but it had been awhile since I’d been there, so in addition to reading and looking at pictures, I took myself to a wonderful place in Connecticut that was similar, with a wonderful lighthouse and museum. I was inspired by a lot of what I saw-- and smelled, and tasted. Though I didn’t have any “bloob pockets” – I invented them for the story. I’ll have to try making some…

Oh – and total coincidence – one of the books I found for my research (a collection of Maine photographs) was actually all about the place I had stayed that summer! The memories came back very vividly when I saw that.

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* * * *

A Court of Thorns and Roses
by Sarah J Maas
ARC Giveaway
Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Released 5/5/2015

A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

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* * * *

Ice Kissed
by Amanda Hocking
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

St. Martin's Griffin
Released 5/5/2015

Bryn Aven has always longed to be a part of her Kanin world. Though she has no social status because she’s a half-breed, she refuses to give up on her dream of serving the kingdom she loves. It’s a dream that brings her to a whole new realm…the glittering palace of the Skojare.

The Skojare people need protection from the same brutal rival who’s been threatening the Kanin. And being half Skojare herself, it’sa chance for Bryn to learn more about her heritage. Her boss Ridley Dresden is overseeing her mission and wants to help. He’s always been her most trusted friend—but as their undeniable attraction heats up, it’s a distraction she can’t afford. She’s about to discover that the Skojare world is full of secrets, and as she’s drawn in deeper, she doesn’t know who to trust. And matters worse, as she gets closer to Ridley, she can’t even trust her own heart.

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* * * *

In a World Just Right
by Jen Brooks
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Released 4/28/2015

Imagination takes on new meaning for a uniquely talented teen in this debut novel that is a breathtaking blend of contemporary, fantasy, and romance.

Sometimes Jonathan Aubrey wishes he could just disappear. And as luck—or fate—would have it, he can. Ever since coming out of a coma as a kid, he has been able to create alternate worlds. Worlds where he is a superhero, or a ladies’ man, or simply a better version of himself. That’s the world he’s been escaping to most since sophomore year, a world where he has everything he doesn’t have in real life: friends, a place of honor on the track team, passing grades, and most importantly, Kylie Simms as his girlfriend.

But when Jonathan confuses his worlds senior year and tries to kiss the real Kylie Simms, everything unravels. The real Kylie actually notices Jonathan…and begins obsessing over him. The fantasy version of Kylie struggles to love Jonathan as she was created to do, and the consequences are disastrous. As his worlds collide, Jonathan must confront the truth of his power and figure out where he actually belongs—before he loses both Kylies forever.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about In a World Just Right?

My favorite thing about IN A WORLD JUST RIGHT is the ending. It’s hard to say more without giving spoilers! I will say that although this is my first published book, it’s my third completed manuscript, and I think the way the ending came together was the result of a lot of things learned by writing manuscripts 1 and 2, whose endings didn’t have the pay-off I really wanted. But that’s how you grow as a writer (and a person!). You work at something until you get better at it. And, boy, as much as I enjoy it, writing is work for me. It’s been really rewarding to read reviewer reactions to the events in the final chapters.

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* * * *

The Boyfriend Project
by Rachel Hawthorne
Released 4/28/2015

Perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins, Lauren Barnholdt, and Susane Colasanti, The Boyfriend Project is a romantic read about a girl who wishes her sweet boyfriend had a little more edge.

Kendall and her boyfriend, Jeremy, have been together forever, and Kendall is starting to wonder if Jeremy is a little boring. . . . So she embarks on a boyfriend makeover. But as Jeremy learns to strut his stuff, other girls start to notice him and, what's worse, he's noticing them back. Then Jeremy breaks up with Kendall and she realizes her makeover project was the ultimate disaster. Is the sweet boyfriend she loved gone forever?

A companion novel to Rachel Hawthorne's paperback original Trouble from the Start, this title is perfect for fans of summer beach reads and sweet treats.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Boyfriend Project?

My favorite thing about THE BOYFRIEND PROJECT is that it explores the old adage that the grass is always greener on the other side. This book is a companion to TROUBLE FROM THE START. Kendall loves Jeremy but he seems a little boring compared with her best friend’s new bad-boy-turned-good boyfriend. So she starts suggesting ways that he might change. It was fun writing his metamorphosis and figuring out ways that he might change that didn’t really alter the essence of him. I think sometimes we all wonder what if or if we’re missing out on something. We search for what we think we will make us happy when it’s actually been with us all along.

I’ll also admit that I loved all the dogs in the story. Kendall works at a dog shelter. The various dogs featured in the story were part of my life at one time or another, so it was fun to visit with them again.

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* * * *

The Secrets of Attraction
by Robin Constantine
Balzer + Bray
Released 4/28/2015

Set in the same world as The Promise of Amazing, this smart, surprising, and (of course) romantic follow-up to Robin Constantine’s debut novel follows two New Jersey teens as they become friends and fall in love.

Madison Parker is on fast-forward. Working toward a scholarship for a summer art program, she already has her future figured out. But when a visit from a family friend turns her life upside down, everything she thought she knew becomes blurred. All she wants is to stand still for a moment.

Jesse McMann is stuck on repeat. Reeling from a breakup that shattered his heart and his band, Jesse divides his time between working as a barista and trying to find the inspiration to write music again. All he wants to do is move forward.

The night Maddie strolls into Jesse’s coffee shop after yoga class, the last thing on his mind is hooking up, but her smile and witty comebacks are hard to ignore. The spark between them is undeniable, but once-a-week flirting is hardly the stuff of epic romance.

Kismet arrives in the unlikely form of Grayson Barrett. When Jesse discovers that Gray’s girlfriend is also Maddie’s best friend, he invites Gray to join his band as their new drummer, hoping this connection will give him more time around Maddie. Slowly but surely, Jesse and Maddie forge a friendship, but do they have what it takes to make their relationship truly sync?

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Secrets of Attraction?

The Secrets of Attraction is a companion to my first novel The Promise of Amazing, and I loved having characters from the first book play an integral role in this book too. It’s Madison and Jesse’s story, but Wren, Grayson and Jazz are featured, and I enjoyed revisiting their world of private school and coffee shops and garage bands. I also love the swoony parts! Lots and lots of swoon in this one, which is always fun to write!

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* * * *

The Secrets We Keep
by Trisha Leaver
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Released 4/28/2015

A girl takes over her twin sister's identity in this emotionally charged page-turner about the complicated bond between sisters.

Ella and Maddy Lawton are identical twins. Ella has spent her high school years living in popular Maddy's shadows, but she has never been envious of Maddy. In fact, she's chosen the quiet, safe confines of her sketchbook over the constant battle for attention that has defined Maddy's world.

When—after a heated argument—Maddy and Ella get into a tragic accident that leaves her sister dead, Ella wakes up in the hospital surrounded by loved ones who believe she is Maddy. Feeling responsible for Maddy's death and everyone's grief, Ella makes a split-second decision to pretend to be Maddy. Soon, Ella realizes that Maddy's life was full of secrets. Caught in a web of lies, Ella is faced with two options—confess her deception or live her sister's life.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Secrets We Keep?

In one word: Josh! Is it wrong to have a crush on one of your own characters!?! If so, then I am guilty as charged. He is quiet and loyal to a fault. He shares Ella’s passion for art, understands her quirks and is the one who eventually makes her see the truth—that she is as loved, as valued as her twin sister. He’s the kind of friend I wished I had growing up.

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* * * *

Trouble from the Start
by Rachel Hawthorne
Released 4/28/2015

One of two companion novels from beach-read favorite Rachel Hawthorne, this cute, romantic paperback original is about a good girl who falls for a bad guy.

Avery knows better than to fall for Fletcher, the local bad boy who can’t seem to outrun his reputation. Fletcher knows he shouldn’t bother with college-bound, daughter-of-a-cop Avery. But when their paths cross, neither can deny the spark. Are they willing to go against everything and let their hearts lead the way? Or are they just flirting with disaster?

Trouble from the Start releases simultaneously with companion novel The Boyfriend Project. These heartwarming paperback originals are the perfect summer reads, great for fans of Jennifer Echols, Lauren Barnholdt, and Susane Colasanti.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Trouble from the Start?

My favorite thing about TROUBLE FROM THE START is the banter between the heroine Avery and the hero Fletcher. Avery is super-smart so she is really quick with comebacks. Fletcher has a bad-boy reputation and wants to be a loner so he will say things hoping that it’ll cause Avery to leave him alone. But she’s not having it. Due to mysterious circumstances that are revealed later, Fletcher is staying in the apartment above her family’s garage and she’s determined he’ll be part of the family, whether he wants to be or not.

I also love the attraction these two feel toward each other. They represent the opposites attract rule. Avery loves school; Fletcher just wants it to end. Avery never breaks the rules; Fletcher thinks rules exist to be broken. Avery has plans and dreams. Fletcher just wants to make it through to the next day. Avery wants to fall in love with Mr. Right. Fletcher is definitely Mr. Wrong.

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* * * *

Seriously Wicked
by Tina Connolly
Tor Teen
Released 5/5/2015

The only thing worse than being a witch is living with one.

Camellia’s adopted mother wants Cam to grow up to be just like her. Problem is, Mom’s a seriously wicked witch.

Cam’s used to stopping the witch’s crazy schemes for world domination. But when the witch summons a demon, he gets loose—and into Devon, the cute new boy at school.

Now Cam’s suddenly got bigger problems than passing Algebra. Her friends are getting zombiefied. Their dragon is tired of hiding in the RV garage. For being a shy boy-band boy, Devon is sure kissing a bunch of girls. And a phoenix hidden in the school is going to explode on the night of the Halloween Dance.

To stop the demon before he destroys Devon’s soul, Cam might have to try a spell of her own. But if she’s willing to work spells like the witch...will that mean she’s wicked too?

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Seriously Wicked?

I love funny high school stories, so this was my chance to get to write one of those (although, with a magical twist!) I had a great time coming up with all the minor characters (maybe come up with is the wrong phrasing – it was more “watch them jump onto the page and start talking.”) For example, there’s Mr. Rourke the math teacher, AKA “Mr. Visible Undershirt,” who’s obsessed with root beer and red pens, and might be a little too interested in Camellia’s guardian, the wicked witch Sarmine.

It was also really fun to come up with all the random anecdotes about ridiculously terrible things the witch has done in the past. For example, my heroine Cam says: “But seriously, the witch was always coming up with new plans to take over the city. The last one involved placing a tank of sharks in the courthouse.” Sarmine has a lot of really great plans like that. You gotta think big if you want to rule everything.

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* * * *

Dream a Little Dream
by Kerstin Gier
Henry Holt and Co.
Released 4/14/2015

Mysterious doors with lizard-head knobs. Talking stone statues. A crazy girl with a hatchet. Yes, Liv’s dreams have been pretty weird lately. Especially the one where she’s in a graveyard at night, watching four boys conduct dark magic rituals.

The strangest part is that Liv recognizes the boys in her dream. They’re classmates from her new school in London, the school where she’s starting over because her mom has moved them to a new country (again). But what's really scaring Liv is that the dream boys seem to know things about her in real life, things they couldn't possibly know—unless they actually are in her dreams? Luckily, Liv never could resist a good mystery, and all four of those boys are pretty cute....

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about DREAM A LITTLE DREAM?

Well, in general I love the whole idea of being able to control and craft your own dreams. I mean think about it, the things you could do?! Especially the chance to visit other people in their dreams, people which I see too little of in real life. I would very much like that!

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* * * *

Crimson Bound
by Rosamund Hodge
Balzer + Bray
Released 5/5/2015

An exhilarating tale of darkness, love, and redemption inspired by the classic fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood, from the author of Cruel Beauty.

When Rachelle was fifteen she was good—apprenticed to her aunt and in training to protect her village from dark magic. But she was also reckless—straying from the forest path in search of a way to free her world from the threat of eternal darkness. After an illicit meeting goes dreadfully wrong, Rachelle is forced to make a terrible choice that binds her to the very evil she had hoped to defeat.

Three years later, Rachelle has given her life to serving the realm, fighting deadly creatures in a vain effort to atone. When the king orders her to guard his son Armand—the man she hates most—Rachelle forces Armand to help her hunt for the legendary sword that might save their world. Together, they navigate the opulent world of the courtly elite, where beauty and power reign and no one can be trusted. And as the two become unexpected allies, they discover far-reaching conspiracies, hidden magic . . . and a love that may be their undoing. Within a palace built on unbelievable wealth and dangerous secrets, can Rachelle discover the truth and stop the fall of endless night?

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* * * *

Halfway Perfect
by Julie Cross
Sourcebooks Fire
Released 5/5/2015

Bestselling author Julie Cross teams up with Ford model Mark Perini to pen a poignant and gritty YA novel about love and the dark side of modeling and the fashion industry.

Eve's time as a fashion model nearly destroyed her-now she's determined to build a career behind the camera lens. But landing a coveted photography internship brings her face to face with her dark past-and her ex.

While Eve is snapping pictures, up-and-coming male model Alex is launching his career-which, for him, involves maintaining a fake relationship with his (secretly) underage co-star, Elana.

But Alex is falling for Eve, and Eve won't let herself get hurt again. If Alex can pull off a fake love with Elana, can he convince Eve to risk a secret affair with him?

Purchase Halfway Perfect at Amazon
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* * * *

by Mark H. Kruger
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Released 5/5/2015

Nica struggles to decipher the nefarious forces ruling her small town in this electrifying sequel to Overpowered, which VOYA says "offers all the conspiracy and intrigue of the best dystopian fiction."

After the mysterious pulses changed Nica Ashley’s life forever, she was sure things could only get worse when Dana Fox returned. Her reappearance after having gone missing for months surely means not only that Nica will lose her friendship with Jackson, but also that something more ominous is simmering under the surface of quiet Barrington.

When another pulse occurs, Nica discovers that she can be invisible at any time. She tries to talk to her friends about how bizarre things have become, but they all seem to have no idea what she is talking about. Nica soon realizes that Dana has a strange control over the whole town, including her undercover, government-agent father.

Now on her own, Nica must stop BarTech from using her and her friends as weapons. But can she figure out their ultimate plan before it is too late?

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* * * *

Revenge, Ice Cream, and Other Things Best Served Cold
by Katie Finn
Feiwel & Friends
Released 5/5/2015

The war rages on between Gemma and Hallie in the second installment of the Broken Hearts and Revenge series.

After the humiliating events on the 4th of July, Gemma's trying to handle the fact that Hallie knew who she was all along, and she was the one who stole Teddy from her. Gemma vows revenge, but things get more complicated than she planned. Ford, Gemma’s long-time crush, has arrived in the Hamptons cuter than ever. Josh is refusing to speak to her after she lied to him, and Teddy is playing champion to his beloved Marsh Warbler (in Gemma's backyard, no less).

Gemma and Hallie find themselves locked in an escalating revenge cycle. Just when Gemma thinks she has the upper hand, the biggest bombshell of all is dropped. And it’s one that threatens to change her life forever. This exciting sequel to Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things To Mend will leave you begging for the third installment.

Purchase Revenge, Ice Cream, and Other Things Best Served Cold at Amazon
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* * * *

Saint Anything
by Sarah Dessen
Viking Books for Young Readers
Released 5/5/2015

Peyton, Sydney's charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion's share of their parents' attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton's increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.

The uber-popular Sarah Dessen explores her signature themes of family, self-discovery, and change in her twelfth novel, sure to delight her legions of fans.

Purchase Saint Anything at Amazon
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* * * *

Some Kind of Normal
by Juliana Stone
Sourcebooks Fire
Released 5/5/2015

What is Normal?

For Trevor normal was fast guitar licks, catching game-winning passes and partying all night. Until a car accident leaves Trevor with no band, no teammates and no chance of graduating. It's kinda hard to ace your finals when you've been in a coma. The last thing he needs is stuck-up Everly Jenkins as his new tutor—those beautiful blue eyes catching every last flaw.

For Everly normal was a perfect family around the dinner table, playing piano at Sunday service and sunning by the pool. Until she discovers her whole life is a lie. Now the perfect pastor's daughter is hiding a life-changing secret, one that is slowly tearing her family apart. And spending the summer with notorious flirt Trevor Lewis means her darkest secret could be exposed.

Purchase Some Kind of Normal at Amazon
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* * * *

The Fill-In Boyfriend
by Kasie West
Released 5/5/2015

When Gia Montgomery's boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she'd been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend— two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it's not the real Bradley she's thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn't even know. But tracking him down doesn't mean they're done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend's graduation party — three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

Purchase The Fill-In Boyfriend at Amazon
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* * * *

The Heir
by Kiera Cass
Released 5/5/2015

Kiera Cass's #1 New York Times bestselling Selection series has enchanted readers from the very first page. In this fourth romantic novel, follow Illéa's royal family into a whole new Selection—and find out what happens after happily ever after.

Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won Prince Maxon's heart. Now the time has come for Princess Eadlyn to hold a Selection of her own. Eadlyn doesn't expect her Selection to be anything like her parents' fairy-tale love story...but as the competition begins, she may discover that finding her own happily ever after isn't as impossible as she's always thought.

A new generation of swoonworthy characters and captivating romance awaits in the fourth book of the Selection series!

Purchase The Heir at Amazon
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* * * *

The Novice
by Taran Matharu
Feiwel & Friends
Released 5/5/2015

When blacksmith apprentice Fletcher discovers that he has the ability to summon demons from another world, he travels to Adept Military Academy. There the gifted are trained in the art of summoning. Fletcher is put through grueling training as a battlemage to fight in the Hominum Empire’s war against orcs. He must tread carefully while training alongside children of powerful nobles. The power hungry, those seeking alliances, and the fear of betrayal surround him. Fletcher finds himself caught in the middle of powerful forces, with only his demon Ignatius for help.

As the pieces on the board maneuver for supremacy, Fletcher must decide where his loyalties lie. The fate of an empire is in his hands. The Novice is the first in a trilogy about Fletcher, his demon Ignatius, and the war against the Orcs.

Purchase The Novice at Amazon
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* * * *

The Summer After You and Me
by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
Sourcebooks Fire
Released 5/5/2015

Sunbathing, surfing, eating funnel cake on the boardwalk—Lucy loves living on the Jersey Shore. For her, it's not just the perfect summer escape, it is home. And as a local girl, she knows not to get attached to the tourists. They breeze in over Memorial Day weekend, crowding the shore and stealing moonlit kisses, only to pack up their beach umbrellas and empty promises on Labor Day. Lucy wants more from love than a fleeting romance, even if that means keeping her distance from her summertime neighbor and crush, Connor.

Then Superstorm Sandy tears apart her barrier island, briefly bringing together a local girl like herself and a vacationer like Connor. Except nothing is the same in the wake of the storm. And day after day, week after week, Lucy is left to pick up the pieces of her broken heart and broken home. Now with Memorial Day approaching and Connor returning, will it be a summer of fresh starts or second chances?

Purchase The Summer After You and Me at Amazon
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View The Summer After You and Me on Goodreads

* * * *

by Michael Buckley
HMH Books for Young Readers
Released 5/5/2015

First, we feared them. Then we fought them. Now they might be our only hope.
Sixteen-year-old Lyric Walker’s life is forever changed when she witnesses the arrival of 30,000 Alpha, a five-nation race of ocean-dwelling warriors, on her beach in Coney Island. The world’s initial wonder and awe over the Alpha quickly turns ugly and paranoid and violent, and Lyric’s small town transforms into a military zone with humans on one side and Alpha on the other. When Lyric is recruited to help the crown prince, a boy named Fathom, assimilate, she begins to fall for him. But their love is a dangerous one, and there are forces on both sides working to keep them apart. Only, what if the Alpha are not actually the enemy? What if they are in fact humanity’s best chance for survival? Because the real enemy is coming. And it’s more terrifying than anything the world has ever seen.
Action, suspense, and romance whirlpool dangerously in this cinematic saga, a blend of District 9 and The Outsiders.

Purchase Undertow at Amazon
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* * * *

Until the Beginning
by Amy Plum
Released 5/5/2015

Juneau has been searching for her people and for answers . . . and she is about to find both in the exhilarating sequel to After the End, which Marie Lu, New York Times bestselling author of the Legend series and The Young Elites, called "Wonderfully riveting."

When Juneau's clan disappeared, she lost so much more than her friends and family. She soon discovered everything she thought she knew about her life was a lie. Her people's gifts were actually secret abilities that others wanted, desperately enough to kidnap an entire village.

Juneau and her new companion Miles's cross-country journey to find her clan has led them to a game preserve in New Mexico. Now Juneau's people are finally within reach, and she will stop at nothing to save them. But she has a target on her back too, because unbeknownst to her she is the key to unlocking everything. To rescue her people—and herself—Juneau must discover what she, and her abilities, are truly capable of.

Purchase Until the Beginning at Amazon
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View Until the Beginning on Goodreads

* * * *

Wild Hearts
by Jessica Burkhart
Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Released 5/5/2015

Enjoy Wild Hearts and the other standalone titles in Bloomsbury's contemporary If Only romance line centered around an impossible problem: you always want what you can't have!

Brie Carter's father's land development business has taken her family all over the world, but as soon as they arrive at their new home in Lost Spring, Wyoming, the town turns out to protest. They don't want a new hotel if the resident mustang population will be displaced or hurt as part of the deal. Then Brie meets Logan, a gorgeous local who has a special connection to the mustangs, and she is immediately drawn to him . . . and the horses. However, with Logan's father leading the protests and Brie's father refusing to budge, it's clear that their parents are heading towards an all-out war. Can Brie and Logan find a way to save the mustangs and be together? Or is their love doomed from the start?

This new title in the If Only line is the perfect summer read and proves that love flourishes in the wildest places!

Purchase Wild Hearts at Amazon
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0 Comments on SIX Giveaways plus New YALit Releases 5/4 - 5/10 with Author Interviews as of 1/1/1900
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19. Best Selling Young Adult Books | May 2015

With so many strong novels on this list, a lot remains the same on our hand-picked list from the Best Selling Young Adult list.

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20. Article- Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin

किसी बात पर मन बहुत उदास था . कुछ करने को दिल नही था इसलिए टीवी के चैनल बदलने शुरु किए. चैनल बदलते समय अचानक  मेरा ध्यान गया कि अरे !!चार्ली चैपलिन की मूवी आ रही है… मैं उसे देखती रही और मेरा उदासीपना उडन छू हो गया. हां,  पर हंसते हंसते  पेट दर्द जरुर हो गया.

16 अप्रैल 1889 को जन्में सर चार्ल्स स्पेन्सर चैप्लिन, जिन्हे सब  Charlie Chaplin के नाम से जानते है विश्व सिनेमा के आज तक के सबसे बड़े मजाकिया माने जाते है ।  हालांकि उनका शुरूआती जीवन बड़ी ही कठिनाइयों और अभावों में बिता था लेकिन उन्होंने परदे पर सदैव हास्य भूमिका अदा की और लोगो को भरपूर हसाया 88 वर्ष की उम्र में 25 दिसंबर 1977 को उनकी मृत्यु हुई लेकिन वे अपनी मृत्यु को अपनी फिल्मों से पराजित करते हुए हमेशा-हमेशा के लिए अमर हो गए और आज भी वे स्क्रीन पर अपनी खास अदा , अपनी खास वेशभूषा तथा  खास हँसी से हमारे दिल मे बसे रहेग़ें

cartoon Chaplin by monica gupta


चार्ली चैपलिन के कुछ विचार जो मुझे बहुत अच्छे लगे …

यदि आप केवल मुस्कुराएंगे तो आप पाएंगे की ज़िन्दगी अभी भी मूल्यवान है ।

मेरी ज़िन्दगी में कई तकलीफे है पर मेरे होठ उनको नहीं जानते है।  वो हमेशा मुस्कुराते है।

शीशा मेरा सबसे अच्छा मित्र है क्योंकि जब मै रोता हूं तो वह कभी नहीं हँसता

मेरा दर्द किसी के लिए हंसने की वजह हो सकता है। पर मेरी हंसी कभी भी किसी के दर्द की वजह नहीं होनी चाहिए

मैंने सोचा कि मैं बैगी पैंट, बड़े जूते, एक छड़ी और एक डर्बी टोपी पहन कर तैयार होऊंगा . सब कुछ उल्टा :पैंट  बैगी , कोट तंग, छोटी टोपी और बड़े जूते.

चार्ली चैपलिन की ज़िंदगी में बहुत दुख थे लेकिन उन दुखों को अपने भीतर छिपाए  जिस तरह से वो हंसी बांटते चले गये, वो हमारे लिए सीख है और सदियों तक रहेगी

उन्हे सादर नमन और श्रधांजलि



The post Article- Charlie Chaplin appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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21. Best New Stars Wars Books: May the 4th Be with You

The Children's Book Review strikes back with the return of the Star Wars book list. Grab your favorite little droid and treat them to a galactic read—the force is strong in these books.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

0 Comments on New Adult Fiction Genre - Contemporary Romance - #WriteTip as of 3/18/2015 4:48:00 PM
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23. Admiralty Islands, 1944

Pete Hurley, WWII, 1944

Pete Hurley, WWII, 1944

This is my grandfather, Pete Hurley, during WWII in the Pacific. He was a member of the SeaBees – the USN Construction Battalion who built and maintained airports, runways, etc. on the islands during the war. He’s about 28 in this picture.

My grandfather died a few days before my 5th birthday but I have some huge memories of him. He was not a big man, but had a very big personalty. More than anything, he embodied all the classic characteristics of the Irish Mick – fair skinned, fair haired, blue-eyed, a great dancer and storyteller, talented in a thousand different ways. He wasn’t perfect – he had the Irish demons as well – but he was unforgettable.

This is one of my favorite photos of him – if you follow me on twitter (@chasingray), my grandfather & grandmother are in my profile pic.

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24. मां – प्यार का दूसरा नाम

कुछ देर पहले नेट पर कुछ सर्च कर  रही थी कि तभी एक लेख  पढने को मिला कि मां के हाथ के खाने जैसा दुनिया में और कुछ नही हो सकता… उसमे बहुत सारी बाते बताई हुई थी कि मां के हाथ मे ये है  मां के हाथ में वो है… कुछ बातें बहुत अच्छी भी लगी पर जब भी मां के हाथों से बने खाने की बात होती है तो मुझे बस एक ही बात याद आती है और वो है ..पेट भरने के बाद, मना करने के बावजूद , एक फुल्का और लो ना बस ये बिल्कुल छोटा सा है … यानि मना करने के बाद भी आखिरी फुल्का तो खिलाना ही होता है…

बात उन दिनों की है जब मैं कुरुक्षेत्र से एम ए (संगीत) कर रही थी. होस्टल मे खाना खा रही थी. उस दिन मेरे पसंदीदा राजमा चावल बने थे. पेट भर गया था पर नियत नही भरी थी. मैस वाला भाई प्लेट में फुल्का डाल गया और मैने कहा कि और नही चाहिए. फिर मैं बहुत देर तक इंतजार करती रही कि वो फुल्का ले कर आएगा… असल में, वो क्या है ना कि जब मम्मी को मना करती तो बाद मे एक चपाती तो आनी ही आनी होती थी . होता वही साईज था पर कहने  को पतली सी छोटी सी होती. वही आदत पडी हुई थी और याद भी नही रहा कि मैं घर नही होस्टल मे हूं और ये मैस वाला भईया है मेरी मम्मी नही. मैने जब उसे बुला कर पूछा कि चपाती क्यो नही दी इतनी देर से इंतजार कर रही हूं  तो वो बोला कि आपने ही तो मना किया था.

उस रात मैं अपने कमरे मे जाकर  मम्मी को याद करके बहुत रोई… फिर धीरे धीरे आदत पड गई.

ये जो प्यार है न कि बस एक आखिरी , छोटी सी और … ये हमेशा बहुत याद आता है मां का  ऐसा प्यार और कही भी नही देखने को मिल सकता… cartoon -mother love


The post मां – प्यार का दूसरा नाम appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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25. Blog Series: A Peek Inside Conferring Toolkits

This week my friends and I at Two Writing Teachers will take you on a tour of our writing toolkits. You won't want to miss a single post this week!

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