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1. Diversity in Jewish Kidlit

Top: Joni Sussman
Bottom, L-R: Ann Stampler, Mira Reisberg, Sylvia Rouss

Sylvia Rouss, Mira Reisberg, Joni Sussman and Ann Stampler spoke at the 2014 Association of Jewish Libraries conference on a panel responding to the Pew study "A Portrait of Jewish Americans" - and it all boils down to diversity.

Today, January 27, 2015, is Multicultural Children's Book Day. It seems like good timing to share some thoughts on diversity within Jewish children's literature.


Press the play button to listen to the podcast now:

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    (Use subject line: Jewish submission via Heidi's Podcast)


Here is the first in a 2-part series of articles I wrote about diversity in children's literature for EBSCO's NoveList. This article focuses on race, while the second article will focus on other forms of diversity (including religion). While these articles are not specifically Jewish, I thought you might find them of interest.


Produced by: Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel 
Supported in part by: Association of Jewish Libraries 
Theme music: The Freilachmakers Klezmer String Band 
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Twitter: @bookoflifepod 

Your feedback is appreciated! Please write to bookoflifepodcast@gmail.com or call our voicemail number at 561-206-2473.

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2. Magneto Meets His Last Days in Secret Wars

By Davey Nieves

LAST DAYS 195x300 Magneto Meets His Last Days in Secret Wars

Marvel pulled another piece out of their Secret Wars puzzle box today when they announced, on Newsarama, the ongoing Magneto book by writer Cullen Bunn and artist Javi Fernandez would be under the umbrella of the Last Days banner during Secret Wars. Starting with May’s issue #18, the master of magnetism faces off against the end of the world in a four issue story the writer described as being about Magneto’s legacy. He’ll see the events leading up to end of the Marvel 616 and attempt to use every bit of his power to halt them.

MAGNETO 018 small 198x300 Magneto Meets His Last Days in Secret Wars

The arc is also set to feature appearances from Briar, the Marauders and various S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who’ve been in pursuit of Magneto throughout the series. Readers will also see a surprise appearance in the form a character related to Magneto with a controversial past. With the terminability surrounding these Last Days tie-in books it would suggest an end to the series and maybe even the character himself upon conclusion. Could Marvel be revealing what characters won’t make it into Secret War? Magneto was a major part of the original 1984 Secret Wars, but it looks also though he may not even make it to this one. When asked if this would be the series finale Cullen Bunn had this to say: “If the book were to end, I think this arc would wrap things up quite nicely,” Bunn explains. “But what I’m doing also positions Magneto for some really exciting stuff that’s coming up. Really, do you think something like the end of the world is going to stop the Master of Magnetism?”

No other story details were revealed but we expect to hear more soon as the rest of the tie-in books are revealed including titles for the other two banners Battleworld and Warzones!.


What do you think of Marvel’s latest tease? Could Marvel leave Magneto out of their new world order?

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3. Winter in the Desert

As  you know, I'm a desert dweller. It's our high season.

So while most are digging out of snowbanks, Phoenicians are sporting boots and sweaters (whether we're sweating or not) to car shows, golf events and artwalks. Seriously, we're a goofy bunch. At church we see both flip flops and winter boots, shorts and sweaters. We have such a small window to wear cozy clothes and we try to squeeze them in whenever we see a few clouds on the horizon.

I'm sporting winter desktop wallpaper of snowy scenes to get a "winter feel" which works until I look out the window and see blue skies. It's beautiful hiking weather and patio time, though most of us have outside heaters or fire pits because the nights can drop 20-30 degrees.

Brrr... sweetie, come on over to my place...

The hummingbirds love the Christmas Cactus

I have on my patio.

For me January is a month of fresh starts and I love trying new things. It's when I have high hopes of improving every area of my life. Ha~ I make lists of goals and do a lot of dreaming. Realistically, I'm lucky if I can latch onto something that sticks. But that's okay. This January -- I ramped up the exercise. Pushed for burning more calories on the treadmill, and took a gentle yoga class with a friend.

One thing that happened that wasn't so good, my Pinterest account got hacked and somebody put up racy pins on my Amish boards. I ended up just deleting the whole board and hope those pics are not floating anywhere in cyberspace with my name on it!

Bookwise - I just finished some edits and am thinking about possible new book ideas.

Hey, if you have any, let me know.

Is it snowing your way?

What kinds of birds are in your yard? Have a winter feeder?

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4. The Daily Sketch

Yesterday I started a new semester at The Des Moines Art Center, teaching teens fantasy art. I've taught there for over a decade now ( O_O ) and I tried something I've never done before! It was super fun too, at least it got more interaction and conversation from the teens than usual.

I made three categories: symbol/animal/fantasy figure

There were ten in each category, folded up and placed in three cups. The kids divided a large sheet of drawing paper into eight sections and then drew whatever I pulled from the cups. Finally they picked one they liked and elaborated for the final.

I didn't draw with them during the eight, but I did sit and draw with them during the final. My personal favorite was

leaf + rabbit + elf

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Although I didn't get to draw this weekend, here are a few highlights from around our home.

Little bird added to our bathroom, next to his new buddy the Goldfinch.

New amazing rug found on craigslist for the living room. In LOVE!

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

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5. Heavy Metal locating its comics in Portland

deadline death 01 Heavy Metal locating its comics in Portland

Since relaunching early last year, the new Heavy Metal has been relatively quiet, relaunching Hoax Hunters under their banner and pursuing their multi media plans mostly behind the scenes. However, a recent appearance at Wizard World Portland has revealed plans for locating the comics operations of the company in Portland, OR where they’ll pursue a model that takes advantage of their well known branding:

“We’re looking at (comics) properties in the same way we look at television and film,” says Krelitz, who attended Wizard World Portland last weekend.

“We have a much better economic model than anyone will offer in the marketplace.  We have a merchandizing company that’s one of the biggest in the world.  Not only are we not going to fleece you to get your self-published book, we’re going to help your brand building.”

The new Heavy Metal is run by film producer Jeff Krelitz and former music exec David Boxenbaum, with comic only part of a film, tv and licensing model. According to the piece, they plan to launch eight titles this year, 12 more next year and more than fifty over five years. “We’re positioning to be a premiere publisher,” Krelitz told Steve Duin, author of the above piece.

While things ramp up, the regular Heavy Metal website is publishing some short comics such as “Deadline of Death” by Jason Paulos, (shown above) a satisfyingly ECish tale of a deal with the devil to work for Marvelous Comics. Short version: do not make a deal with the devil.

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6. Coherence

The second stop in my short trip through 2014's lesser-known genre filmmaking is James Ward Byrkit's Coherence.  Which turned out to be fortuitous, as the comparison between Coherence and The One I Love revealed some interesting similarities, as well as telling differences.  On the surface level, the two films feel very different--The One I Love is intimate and tightly focused, while Coherence is

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7. Avon & Powell’s Curate Romantic Reading List

Powell’s Books has teamed up with Avon Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, to create a book recommendation platform curated by romance authors.

The program is called \"Mutual Attractions,\" and includes four romance novel selections which will be promoted in Powell’s Books stores as well as on social media for two month periods. Each collection will be chosen by a bestselling romance author.

The first collection was put together by author Julia Quinn and goes live today. Her choices include: Something New by Tessa DareRecommended Read from Julie Anne LongNew Discovery by Loretta Chase; and Desert Island Keeper by Eva Ibbotson.

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8. Family Tree: Slate, Tin House, Begats

Grave map

At Slate, Ariel Bogle recaps a discussion I had last week with AJ Jacobs, Wilhelmina Rhodes-Kelly, and Chris Whitten on how technology is affecting the family tree. I talked a little bit about what drew me to research my ancestry in the first place.

Although technology is changing the way we discover our personal histories, the reasons why people may begin to investigate in the first place have stayed the same. Curiosity, of course, but also a sense of history. Maud Newton told the audience how her interest in her family tree was sparked by the improbable stories her mother told about their predecessors. But the importance of ancestry cut very close for Newton. “I myself was basically a eugenics project,” she said. “My parents married because they thought they would have smart children together, not because they loved each other.” Her father was particularly obsessed with the idea of purity of blood, she added. “Someone suggested to me that there might be something [my father] was hiding, and then I got really interested.”

We had lots of fun; I don’t think any of us were ready for the panel to end when it did, and how often can you say that? The audio is below Bogle’s summary, if you’d like to listen.

In related reading: at Tin House, my series of brief but wide-ranging interviews with authors about ancestry is ongoing. Guests so far are Laila Lalami, Celeste Ng, Saeed Jones, and Christopher Beha. And at The Begats, I’ve written in the last few months about Alexander Chee’s jokbo (gorgeous books recording his family history back to the Joseon Dynasty, which began in 1392), ancestor worship in the Old Testament, and some disappointing (but not too surprising) discoveries about my self-given namesake, Maude Newton Simmons, among other things.

The stark and stunning image above is a grave map — taken from Alex’s jokbo — for one of his ancestors.

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9. Adrian Tomine Inks Deal With Drawn + Quarterly

Killing & DyingComics creator Adrian Tomine has signed a deal with Drawn + Quarterly. A release date for Killing and Dying: Stories has been scheduled for October 2015.

Editor Chris Oliveros negotiated the deal with Samantha Haywood of the Transatlantic Literary Agency. Farrar, Straus & Giroux has signed on as the U.S. distributor and Raincoast Books will serve as the Canadian distributor.

Oliveros had this statement in the press release: “D+Q first published Adrian Tomine’s comics in 1995 and in the ensuing two decades it’s been a real privilege to see how he has continued to evolve as an artist, a writer, and overall as a cartoonist. Killing and Dying just might be my favorite book by Adrian. We’ve come to expect from him an eloquent visual sensibility and insightful, complex storytelling, but there’s something else going on here: these stories are darkly funny, and they’re tinged with a very particular acerbic wit that we haven’t seen all too often before this.”

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10. Happy Birthday, Mr. Dodgson!

Today is the 183rd birthday of Charles Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice in Wonderland.

This year is also the 150th anniversary of that children's classic. To celebrate this momentous occasion, many organizations are putting on special exhibits. Here are a few of the more notable ones you might like to add to your calendar.

February 12 to Spring 2015 (Poughkeepsie, NY)
Vassar College: The Age of Alice: Fairy Tales, Fantasy, and Nonsense in Victorian England.

June 26 to October 11 (New York, NY)
The Morgan Library & Museum: "Alice: 150 Years of Wonderland"

July 4 (Oxford, UK)
Alice's Day at Oxford

September 15 to November 15 (New York, NY)
Grolier Club: "Alice in a World of Wonderlands"

October 9 to October 11 (New York, NY)
Lewis Carroll Society of North America: "Alice in the Popular Culture"

October 14 to March 27 (Philadelphia, PA)
Rosenbach Museum & Library: Alice in Philly-land" and "The Dream of Wonderland: Alice at 150"

For additional exhibitions and performances, check out the events database here.

And in you'll like to read more about Lewis Carroll and his most famous creation, here's a link to my book on the topic: Alice's Wonderland: A Visual Journey through Lewis Carroll's Mad, Mad World.

And to make this day even more special, here is a link to a video podcast of my interview with Mr. Media about my book: What Did Alice Know and When?

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11. Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou Review

Title: Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou Genre: Slice of Life Publisher: Shonen Gahosha (JP), Crunchyroll (US) Story/Artist: Ruri Miyahara Serialized in: Young King Ours Reviewed: Volume 1 of 6 Review copy provided by Crunchyroll. As I mentioned last time, there are many different kinds of slice of life manga out there. Some rely on character growth to move the story along and ... Read more

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12. ‘The Curse of the Sad Mummy’ by Riot Games

Every child in Valoran has heard the tale before, about the cursed mummy boy who felt his heart no more.

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13. Wizard World announces Fan Fest for Rosemont, IL in March

201501271414 Wizard World announces Fan Fest for Rosemont, IL in March

WizardWorld has announced a new Chicago-based show with the Wizard World Comic Con Presents Fan Fest Chicago on March 7-8 at Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont. In contrast to pricier Wizard shows, the event will be $25 for the weekend and $15 for either day, and people who sign up for VP or four day registration at the regular August show get in free.

Although Bleeding Cool originally positioned this show as a “Con Wars” shot across the bows to Reed’s C2E2 show held just a month later in Chicago proper—and we like a good con wars story as much as the next guy—the real reason was more prosaic: Wizard had originally booked the venue for these dates for Bruce Campell’s HorrorFest. However Campbell had to pull out due to filming on the new Evil Dead TV show (YYYAYYYYYYYY!) and since the dates were booked, Wizard put on another show rather than eat the costs of renting the venue.

Pretty simple.

The Campbell event has now been moved to co-locate with Wizard World Chicago in August. WWC is generally held to be a pretty busy and profitable show for all, and the Chicago area can probably support a whole bunch of events. Parking not included, of course.

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14. Gingerbread Spies and Magic Pencils - Two Book Birthdays!

Mara Rockliff's latest picture book, GINGERBREAD FOR LIBERTY, is the delicious (and true!) story of the baker who helped save the American Revolution.

Christopher Lutwick was a German immigrant and, in the 1770's, a vocal advocate of revolution as well as possibly the most celebrated and popular baker in Philadelphia. When the war broke out, though he was too old for fighting, he was determined to help, and his friend George Washington made him the "baker general" of the army. He also had an even more significant, albeit more secretive role... to talk starving Hessian soldiers working for the British into abandoning the King. And he could do it because he was a former starving Hessian soldier himself.

This remarkable tale shines a light on a little known figure of the Revolution who worked alongside George Washington and the other heroes we all know about. And the scrumptious illustrations by Vincent X Kirsch are the icing on the gingerbread!

"This appealing concoction is a powerful reminder of the good one person can do." -- Kirkus

"A sweet addition to Revolutionary War units." --School Library Journal, starred review

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15. manjulamartin: coming soon to a digital device near you… ...


coming soon to a digital device near you…
Scratch Magazine: The Hollywood Issue
Subscribe: scratchmag.net

Excited to be a part of this!

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16. Write: For Those Writers Out There That Need to Know About the Decomp Process

I looked this information up when I wrote this short piece the other day. Then I thought, “why not share this information with other writers?” Because at some point, you need to know about dead bodies, right?

Or is it just me? :-D

By the way, word to the wise, DON’T Google images for decomp. You’re welcome.

Believe it or not, decomposition begins as soon as you die; it starts deep into the digestive system, where the intestinal flora [bacteria that live in our intestines and that are crucial for the proper functioning of the gut] begin to multiply exponentially and to feed on your internal organs, the same organs they helped protect when you were alive. This process is called autolysis and it begins as the dead body begins to cool off, a few minutes after death. The external signs of putrefaction [bloating, marbling of the skin tissue, swollen and protruding tongue, seepage of fluids from every imaginable orifice, odor of rotting meat] may start to show as soon as a few hours after death, depending greatly on the environmental factors surrounding the corpse. In general, a corpse lying out in the open and exposed to high temperatures and humidity can become completely skeletonized in as few as 10 days to a month, at the most. Areas of the body which have sustained injury or trauma decompose much more rapidly than those which are not injured. However, a corpse that’s been carefully embalmed, put into a sealed casket and interred in a place where there’s little moisture can be exhumed and still be nearly intact several months or even years after the demise.

The following is a copy/paste of an article called “The 26 Stages of Death”, the original of which is located at here.

Moment of Death:
1} The heart stops
2} The skin gets tight and grey in color
3} All the muscles relax
4} The bladder and bowels empty
5} The body’s temperature will typically drop 1.5 degrees F. per hour unless outside environment is a factor. The liver is the organ that stays warmest the longest, and this temperature is used to establish time of death if the body is found within that time frame.

After 30 minutes:
6} The skin gets purple and waxy
7} The lips, finger- and toe nails fade to a pale color or turn white as the blood leaves.
8} Blood pools at the lowest parts of the body leaving a dark purple-black stain called lividity
9} The hands and feet turn blue {because of lack of oxygenation to the tissues}
10} The eyes start to sink into the skull

After 4 hours:
11} Rigor mortis starts to set in
12} The purpling of the skin and pooling of blood continue
13} Rigor Mortis begins to tighten the muscles for about another 24 hours, then will reverse and the body will return to a limp state.
After 12 hours:
14} The body is in full rigor mortis.

After 24 hours:
15} The body is now the temperature of the surrounding environment
16} In males, the spermatozoa die.
17} The head and neck are now a greenish-blue color
18} The greenish-blue color continues to spread to the rest of the body
19} There is the strong smell of rotting meat {unless the corpse is in an extremelly frigid environment}
20} The face of the person is essentially no longer recognizable

After 3 days:
21} The gases in the body tissues form large blisters on the skin
22} The whole body begins to bloat and swell grotesquely. This process is speeded up if victim is in a hot environment, or in water
23} Fluids leak from the mouth, nose, eyes, ears and rectum and urinary opening

After 3 weeks:
24} The skin, hair, and nails are so loose they can be easily pulled off the corpse
25} The skin cracks and bursts open in many places because of the pressure of Internal gases and the breakdown of the skin itself
26} Decomposition will continue until body is nothing but skeletal remains, which can take as little as a month in hot climates and two months in cold climates. The teeth are often the only thing left, years and centuries later, because tooth enamel is the strongest substance in the body. The jawbone is the densest, so that usually will also remain.

Filed under: Just Write, Writing Stuff

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17. Wrong!

The storm was called historic
Before it even hit,
The weathermen euphoric,
As reports they did submit.

They closed the subways and the schools;
Prevented cars from driving.
The pols used all their lofty tools
For snow not yet arriving.

The Broadway theaters shut their doors;
Museums followed suit.
The gyms were shuttered and the stores,
Decisions resolute.

And after all was said and done,
The blizzard never came.
Though all were wrong, there wasn’t one
Who’d shoulder any blame.

Defensively the bigwigs boast,
“We made the right decision;”
But I am one of quite a host
Who view them with derision.

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18. Legal Music

Don't violate another artist's copyright when you create your book trailer.


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19. It seems unfair whenever Freedom shuts off and your inbox fills up… and instead of a lovely...

It seems unfair whenever Freedom shuts off and your inbox fills up… and instead of a lovely email newsletter filled with amusing gossip and compliments there’s just bucketloads of spam.

0 Comments on It seems unfair whenever Freedom shuts off and your inbox fills up… and instead of a lovely... as of 1/27/2015 12:51:00 PM
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20. Report: Disney have their hearts set on Chris Pratt as the next Indiana Jones

chris pratt 1000x667 Report: Disney have their hearts set on Chris Pratt as the next Indiana Jones

Between Guardians of the Galaxy and The Lego Movie, Chris Pratt was probably THE action/adventure star of 2014. With Jurassic World coming up in June and The Magnificent Seven about to begin shooting, that momentum doesn’t look like it’s slowing down anytime soon.

If Disney has their way, we may very well see Pratt attached to another big franchise: The Indiana Jones series.

Ever since acquiring the rights to the swashbuckling archaeologist from Paramount in 2013 (who had held onto film rights even after the Lucasfilm purchase by the House of Mouse), the studio has been looking to reboot after the moribund reaction to Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. There were rumors floating around that Bradley Cooper would get the nod that were eventually dismissed, but now Deadline is hearing that Pratt is their go-to guy.

Its still a rumor at this point, but something to keep an eye on in a world where we’re about to get a Mad Max revival (and I call that a great thing, by the way).

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21. CJ Omololu - my friend, Top Cancer Ass Kicker, and author of the new The Third Twin - Spread the Word!

I met Cynthia Jaynes-Omololu about 5 or 6 years ago in LA. We'd known each other for years online and built a great friendship. (I think it was in FriendMatch.com that connected us or Blogger :)

When we met, we s sat down to have a drink and I ordered my usual filthy martini. She laughed and said she was surprised. She went on to tell me this story she made up in her head - that she thought I was an Ann Taylor marketing business gal who only wore pink suits with matching shoes and purse who drank pink cosmos.Those who know me know I am far from pretty in pink. I am jeans and boots who drinks filthy martinis and coffee.

A few things stuck out to me that day that made me adore CJ -
1) I had to like her b/c she obviously spent many nights thinking about me ;) so I didn't want to hurt her feelings.
2) She is OBVIOUSLY creative as hell and makes up great stories - she did with me.
3) She's a little wackadoo too. Which sells me even more b/c I am far from normal on the bell curve.
4) She immediately made me feel comfortable and listened to my publishing woes, laughed at my bad jokes, and insisted on being my friend. (She's pushy that way ;)

Since then, we have:
 - Roomed at conferences where she has generously shared her portable Kuerig, flavored cream and strong coffee with me (and yes...she drags that dang thing with her everywhere. Where most people would have loves to snuggle, CJ sleeps with her mini-kuerig. In fact - Kuerig should call her for a commercial and pay all her med bills for the free PR she has given them!)
- Shared stories - funny ones and the ones we write. She has been a great CP in the past, always offering great suggestions (and twists) in my own work.
- Stayed with me at the Writers Police Academy where we fingerprinted each other and tested blood stains ( - so we also share a sick humored mind! only writers will appreciate this part!)
- Shared her lovely home and family with me. Her husband made me coffee too. I swear they probably grow their own coffee beans.
- Made delicious salmon and sauteed green been dinner for me.
- Introduced me to her lovely dog…ok I can't make this all rosy just b/c she's battling cancer! That "sweet" (he would never hurt anyone even if you came in the house with a key) kind of dog chased my butt upstairs and cornered me in my bedroom until Tae had to rescue me! (Thx Tae :)
- She has made me laugh, seen me cry over this strange industry, given me words of encouragement, and stayed up late with me talking b/c I could not go to sleep!

So the fact that some asshole named Cancer barges in and wants to take her away from me - pisses me off to no end.

Interrupted by bad movie clip from Independence day! -
"We will not go quietly into the night!" We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on! We're going to survive!"

So - a bunch of us are throwing a launch party for her and spreading the word about her new book across the country. It is important that everyone in this world knows about CJ Omololu, The Third Twin, her total wacky awesomeness, and her deep resonating words.

Because as a writing community, that's what we do for friends, authors and books - we support them always no matter what!

So please share this flyer with your community. Join our Facebook page, preorder her new book, and come to the launch party to help CJ celebrate her new baby - The Third Twin.

And while you are at it - a couple prayers couldn't hurt either.

(Take that Mr. Cancer! jerk hat...)

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22. Book Review: The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer

Annihilation is the first volume in Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, Authority is the second, and Acceptance is the third. 
     Area X—a remote and lush terrain—has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer. 
     This is the twelfth expedition. 
     Their group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all their observations, scientific and otherwise, of their surroundings and of one another; and, above all, to avoid being contaminated by Area X itself. 
     They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding—but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them, and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another, that change everything. 
     After the disastrous twelfth expedition chronicled in Annihilation, the Southern Reach—the secret agency that monitors these expeditions—is in disarray. In Authority, John Rodriguez, aka “Control,” is the team’s newly appointed head. From a series of interrogations, a cache of hidden notes, and hours of profoundly troubling video footage, the secrets of Area X begin to reveal themselves—and what they expose pushes Control to confront disturbing truths about both himself and the agency he’s promised to serve. And the consequences will spread much further than that. 
     It is winter in Area X in Acceptance. A new team embarks across the border on a mission to find a member of a previous expedition who may have been left behind. As they press deeper into the unknown—navigating new terrain and new challenges—the threat to the outside world becomes more daunting. The mysteries of Area X may have been solved, but their consequences and implications are no less profound—or terrifying.
I know that's a super long description, but I wanted to include a bit of information about all three books and the only way to do that was to use the description from Area X, a collection of all three books.

It's not every day that you come across a work of genre fiction, especially science fiction, that's more focused on writing and characterization than it is on plot or action.  This one definitely succeeds in the quality of writing category and particularly in the area of character development.  I'd argue that the point of the books is not the crazy goings-on in Area X but how each character responds and changes as a result of his or her experiences.  I think it would also be very easy to make a case for Area X itself as a character, as opposed to just a setting.  Incredibly well done and a pleasure to read.

Entertainment Value
This, I think, is where things will be a little bit trickier and less amazing across the board.  I, personally, was thoroughly entertained by each book and found Annihilation and Acceptance particularly difficult to put down.  That said, I don't think that this is a series that will appeal to all science fiction fans or to all literary fiction fans.  Unlike the typical science fiction book, this one isn't as focused on action and plot movement, which may make for a slower read.  It also doesn't wrap every mystery up in a neat bow at the end - there are lots of unanswered questions.  In terms of literary fiction lovers, I think the complete weirdness may not appeal.  This series is absolutely bizarre, full of moments that will just completely jolt you and, for the reader who prefers realism, may cause a few too many eyebrow lifts.

That said, I found both the elements of literary fiction and science fiction to be perfectly combined into an absolutely engrossing series.  I wasn't bothered at all by the questions that remained at the end of the book - they've remained on my mind in the days after I finished Acceptance, which is always a good thing.  It's the kind of mystery that lead me to seek out other reviews and blogs covering the series to see how others interpreted the parts that aren't spelled out explicitly.  I love when an author can capture my interest that fully and then let my imagination do the work.  I also enjoyed the craziness of the plot itself and was absolutely enthralled with the world of Area X.

For me, this is the perfect combination of literary and genre fiction.  It had the elements that I love from literary fiction combined perfectly with the elements I love from science fiction.  The second book, Authority, read a bit slow for me, but it reflected what was happening at that point in the story.  I recommend this to those who can enjoy a crazy setting/plot with elements of the bizarre, but who also enjoy quality writing and don't need to have every question answered.

0 Comments on Book Review: The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer as of 1/27/2015 5:11:00 PM
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23. Emma Watson to Star in a Live-Action Beauty & The Beast Film

Emma WatsonOn the heels of completing live-action versions for Cinderella and Maleficent, Disney has announced that it will create a live-action adaptation of Beauty & The Beast. Like the 1991 animated movie and the hit Broadway musical, the story for this project will be based on Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont’s beloved fairy tale “La Belle et la Bête.”

Actress Emma Watson announced on her Facebook page that she will play Belle; the post has drawn more than 1.1 million “likes.” Watson feels that her “six year old self is on the ceiling – heart bursting” and plans to prepare for this part with singing lessons.

BuzzFeed reports that no actor has been cast as The Beast. Who would you nominate for this role?

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24. Top Ten Tuesday: Book Clubs

Hello blog readers!

I know I’ve been a bit absent lately. Still struggling to find internet access. But my goal is to work myself towards more active participation over here. Thanks to all of you who’ve stuck through these ups and downs with me over the last few months. And welcome to any new readers too. :)

Anyway, moving on to today’s post. In addition to getting back to regular posts, I just discovered this way cool weekly event called Top Ten Tuesdays hosted over at The Broke and Bookish. They post a book related question each Tuesday, and participants have the chance to come up with a list of 10 books that answer that question.

Sounds like fun. So although I don’t know how often I’ll participate, I thought it would be fun to do so today anyway. Today’s question is: Ten Books I'd Love to Read With My Book Club/If I Had A Book Club.

Interesting question for me, since for the first time ever in my life, I actually am a member of a book club. I found out in November that a group of ladies from my church do participate in a monthly book club and they invited me to join. Of course, that being said, most of the books we’ve read so far totally aren’t my thing. But since we take turns choosing books, this is actually something that I’ve thought about (for when my turn comes around).

When choosing a book for book club, I think it’s better to choose something that you’ve already read, since that way there’s no surprises content-wise that you can’t warn people about before they start the book. As a result, I’ve approached this question narrowing it down to books I’ve already read.

So here’s 10 books I’d like to read with my book club (in no particular order):

Austenland: A Novel by Shannon Hale - Normally I don’t like adult contemporary romance, but I picked this one up because it’s Shannon Hale and Jane Austen mixed together, what could go wrong? And I loved it. This is a book that everyone who I’ve ever passed it onto has liked. And the movie isn’t bad either, even though it doesn’t follow the book exactly.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer - Okay, I know full well I’m going to catch flack for this one because Stephenie Meyer has kind of become a cliché name due to the Twilight books. And yes, I enjoyed the Twilight books. Never a big fan of them, but they were fun to read the one time. However, I really liked her book The Host (her adult book) a lot more. But most of the people I talk to won’t give it a try because of how they feel about Twilight etc. So I wish more people would try this one so I could discuss it with them.

We Bought a Zoo - Also a cute movie. Although the movie is pretty much nothing like the book. The actual book is a non-fiction memoir about the opening of Dartmouth Zoological Park in England. It’s a little slow to start because there is a lot of background information to slog through before you get to the specific anecdotes about owning/refurbishing a zoo, which is why those I’ve shared it with have had a hard time with it in the past. But I love re-reading this one, because the stories are quite funny if you can get through the background information, and it’s wonderful to think that they all actually happened to someone somewhere. Definitely an escape book for me.

Agatha H. and the Airship City by Phil Foglio and Kaja Foglio - This one is a little weird, because I actually read the graphic novel version of it first. But knowing it might be hard to entice people to read graphic novels if they’re not used to it, there’s also a book version which pretty much follows the comic word for word. If you like steampunk, this is a great series for you. And a good introduction to the idea of steampunk if you’re not familiar with it already. I love the characters and the mystery of the whole plot of this series.

So here’s where I get into trouble. My book club is made up of adults, and although we have read one YA book since I’ve joined (Graceling by Kristin Cashore, which was excellent, by the way, and I don’t know why it took me so long to read it) but most of the books I read are YA ones. So the above four are my “adult” choices. But if I could, I would share these YA/Kid titles with my book club too.

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede - This one lands firmly in the “kid” category, but it has been one of my favorite books since childhood. Who wouldn’t want to share one of their favorites with others? No brainier for this list.

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde - Fforde normal writes adult novels, so although this book is marketed as YA (probably because the main character is 16) I think it’s very translatable to adult readers. I love the inventiveness of the world created in this one, as well as the spunky main character, and I enjoyed the sequel a lot too. Hopefully I will be able to get my hands on the third one soon.

A World Without Heroes (Beyonders) by Brandon Mull - I love pretty much everything Brandon Mull does, but I think the Beyonders series grapples with more larger and complex issues than his Candy Shop War and Fablehaven series do. I’ve always been disappointed that this one is billed as middle grade level, as I really think it would appeal more to YA readers because of its complexity, and I think most teens won’t give it a chance because it’s usually shelved in the kids section. I think this one could spark lots of great discussion with a book club.

Heist Society by Ally Carter - Again, I love pretty much everything Ally Carter does, but Heist Society has a special place in my heart among her books. I don’t know why this particular one resonated with me so much, but it is another one of those books that everyone I recommend it to loves. I even got my brother to read it (and its two sequels) and he doesn’t read “girl books”. So that’s a success story right there.

A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck - I think this one is considered a “modern children’s classic”. I picked it up because it was required reading for my YA lit class in college. Even though it’s a relatively short children’s book, the merit of this one is definitely high. It’s a great collection of connected short stories about growing up during the years of the Great Depression. Seriously, if you haven’t read this one yet, you should.

Holes by Louis Sachar - If you haven’t read Holes yet, you need to. End of story. Yes, it’s a kid’s book, but it’s great anyway. Like Harry Potter. I’m serious, go read if you haven’t. Now.

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25. Spotlight and Giveaway: Sweet Surprise by Candis Terry

Today I have a spotlight and giveaway for Sweet Surprise.  I have also cleverly hidden a secret letter in my post for Candis Terry’s Word Hunt.  I bet you will never find my letter! (Just kidding!)
Join the Hunt
(See Details Below)
Playing naughty or nice . . .

Fiona Wilder knows all about falling in lust. Love? That’s another story. Determined not to repeat past mistakes, the single mom and cupcake shop owner is focused on walking the straight and narrow. But trouble has a way of finding her. And this time it comes in the form of a smoking hot firefighter who knows all the delicious ways to ignite her bad-girl fuse. Can lead to heartbreak . . .

Firefighter Mike Halsey learned long ago that playing with fire just gets you burned. He’s put his demons behind him, and if there’s one line he won’t cross, it’s getting involved with his best friend’s ex. But when fate throws him in the path of the beautiful, strong, and off-limits Fiona, will he be able to fight their attraction? Or will he willingly go down in flames? Or a sweet surprise!

Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | Kobo | BAM


Each host will have a different letter placed within their post during the SWEET SURPRISE Release Blast!

Readers, you will have to visit EACH tour stop to find the letters, and then enter the “Secret Word” into the Rafflecopter for more chances to win!  

You can enter ONE WORD per day, five words to find!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Candis Terry was born and raised near the sunny beaches of Southern California and now makes her home on an Idaho farm. She’s experienced life in such diverse ways as working in a Hollywood recording studio to chasing down wayward steers. Only one thing has remained the same: her passion for writing stories about relationships, the push and pull in the search for love, and the security one finds in their own happily ever after.
Find Candis Here

SOMETHING SWEETER by Candis Terry is the
Harlequin Junkie Book Club Read for January!

Mark your calendars for Jan 29th!
(6pm PST/9pm EST)

The post Spotlight and Giveaway: Sweet Surprise by Candis Terry appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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