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1. One Breathtaking Quest Before Breakfast:A Visit with Author-Illustrator Aaron Becker


(Click to enlarge)

Pictured here is Aaron Becker’s sketch of the rhino that is embossed on the cover of Quest (Candlewick, August 2014), the second picture book in what Aaron calls the Journey trilogy. The trilogy began with last year’s Journey, which was awarded a Caldecott Honor.

I’ve told this story before, but my own journey with Journey began back in 2012 when Aaron left a comment here at 7-Imp, I clicked on his hyperlinked name, and I visited his website. I believe I muttered “whoa” a lot here at my desk at 7-Imp Central. (It was, most likely, more like “whoa, DUDE,” but that makes me sound way less professional, doesn’t it?) I asked him if he’d like to visit the blog, which resulted in this post a year before Journey came out (oh, and then this fun breakfast interview in 2013). Then, when it finally was released, I ended up blurbing it, which is something I don’t do on a regular basis, but I loved the book. When the book got a Caldecott Honor, I cheered loudly down here in Tennessee. And now … well, to see Quest finally on shelves is a bit thrilling if you’re a Journey fan.

Quest brings back to readers the boy and the girl of the previous tale, who embark one rainy day on a journey to save a king who has been captured. He surprises the children in the park, handing them a map and swearing them to secrecy, while setting them to the task of finding six magic crayons that will eventually free his kingdom from darker forces now in control. The Kirkus review notes that Becker’s storytelling here in the world he created with last year’s book is even more ambitious. I’ve read the book multiple times and see some new detail in each read, and I also love the bits of humor. (For one, during a glorious underwater scene, the purple bird from Journey can be seen with his own scuba tank. Becker is never one to miss details.)

It’s another wonderful (in the truest sense of the word) wordless tale. It’s breathtaking, thrilling, and epic all at once. At this Candlewick Q&A, Aaron goes into detail about how he creates his art; it involves computer 3D models of each element of the world he’s created. Today here at 7-Imp, he chats with me a bit and shares some preliminary images (dummy images, early cover art, etc.) And I thank him for visiting.

p.s. Don’t miss Matthew Winner’s August podcast conversation with Becker.

* * * * * * *


Original pitch image for Quest
(Click to enlarge)

Jules: You’ve probably already discussed elsewhere what it was like to get the Caldecott call, so I apologize if this is redundant, but hey, what was it like to get the Caldecott call?

Aaron: I’ve had people tell me not to read anything on the internet about one’s book, but because I’m so new to this, I just can’t help myself. It’s exciting! So, I had read all of these blogs leading up to the Caldecott announcements saying how Journey was a major contender. So when the call came, I saw that it was from Philadelphia, and I had a pretty good idea who might be on the other end. That said, it was still a total thrill, and I think the more time that passes, the better I understand just how amazingly fortunate I’ve been.


Early cover sketch for Quest
(Click to enlarge)


Original cover concept
(Click to enlarge)


Color cover sketch
(Click to enlarge)


Final cover

Jules: How’d you deal with the pressure of creating both a sequel and a sophomore picture book when the success of your debut was so huge? This is assuming you felt stress. Perhaps you did not.

Aaron: Because the artwork for Journey was completed a full year and a half before it published, I had plenty of time to work on a follow-up before I had any idea that Journey was going to be so well-received. Well, I had your blurb, but you know … I didn’t want to just rest on my laurels, so I went ahead and developed the idea for an entire trilogy. The artwork for Quest was finished in early June of 2013, a few months before Journey published!

That said, I did feel some pressure when working on the series’ finale (Return, due Fall 2016) — not so much because of the success of its predecessor, but because I knew it had to do justice to the character arcs I had been developing. Like Quest, it had to have its own beginning, middle, and end, but unlike the second book, it also had to finish the entire tale. I spent probably nine or ten months on the story alone and am just now starting to finish the artwork for it.


Mosaic sketch

Jules: Ah, I see. I had planned on asking if work on the third book in the trilogy has already begun.

Aaron: After much wrangling, the story is DONE. But the artwork awaits. My family and I are headed to Spain for the school year, and Candlewick has agreed to ship me all of my supplies to finish the artwork right on the Mediterranean. How cool is that?!

Jules: I’d have to say severely cool.

Do you want to talk a bit about working with the designers and such at Candlewick? (I know from experience how wonderful they are.) How much input do you have on the book’s overall design?





Dummy sketches
(Click each to enlarge)

Aaron: Maryellen Hanley is the designer that I work with at Candlewick. At this point, I defer to her on major design decisions around the book design, because I’ve learned she’s far more talented than I am. And smarter. Because there’s no text to flow into the images, most of the other design decisions come down to compositional issues that I deal with during the editing process. Sometimes she has ideas for where to go on a particular spread, but I find that I’m much more picky about those types of things. Usually, if I give it a few weeks, I realize that she’s right, but on some occasions, if I still feel strongly about whatever it is I’m trying to communicate, I stick to my original idea.


Watercolor prep — 3D and final sketch
(Click to enlarge)


Final — 3D and watercolor
(Click to enlarge)

Jules: Are there specific experiences that formed the essential bases, the fundamental building blocks, of your artistic vision? Books, movies, artists, events, images, anything else, etc….? (I love to pull out this question for my favorite artists, but if you think it’s too broad of a query, feel free to say so or skip.)

Aaron: I think from a story perspective the Journey series is quite autobiographical, especially if you think in terms of metaphors. I always used drawing as a means of escape and a tool with which to figure out life. I also think there’s going to be a bit of Star Wars in anything I do, just because I was summarily brainwashed by that film when I was three. “Trilogy,” anyone?

Jules: What do you, as an artist, find most challenging and satisfying in the creative processes you employ?

[Ed. Note: Pictured left is a painting from Anders Zorn, which served as a reference piece for Aaron on this book.]

Aaron Easily, by far, the most challenging thing is to find emotional resonance in a story. Crafting the logic of a story takes work, but there’s something completely subjective and amorphous about locating the heart of a tale. The problem is, if you rely on formulas to generate sympathy for your characters, the story becomes, well … formulaic. So the only way I’ve found is to work and work and work, and then when you’re done, keep working. So when you do finally “get it,” yes, it’s very, very satisfying. I still remember when, after about nine months of wrangling, I called my editor, Mary Lee Donovan, with the final draft for Journey’s closing chapter (Return), and we read through the sketches over phone/email — and the sense of it having landed was almost tangible. At the very least, it certainly was audible!

Jules: Okay, I’ve gotten lately to where I simply love to ask people: What are you reading now?

Aaron Spanish language books. I have a lot to learn, and it’s funny, because my brain has become so wired to focus only on book-making, that it’s almost like a jolt of caffeine to use it for something else like learning a new language. Well, new to me anyway! I’m working with a tutor this week, and at some point during the lesson she asked me to say my phone number in Spanish, and while I could remember how to say the numbers, I couldn’t remember my ACTUAL PHONE NUMBER. That was how much my brain was exploding.




Reference materials for Quest:
A Central Park underpass, a temple, and Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid statue
(Click each to enlarge)

Jules: On that note, what picture books have you loved lately? Or whose work have you seen that you think deserves some love and attention?

Aaron I am still talking about Quentin Blake’s work on the late Russell Hoban’s Rosie’s Magic Horse. There’s something just utterly delightful and freeing about his penmanship and the story itself. I’m also very impressed by Benjamin Chaud’s The Bear’s Song and Aleksandra Mizielińska’s Mamoko series. And on a trip to L.A. recently, I met Drew Daywalt for the first time and realized that there’s a good reason why The Day the Crayons Quit is so popular — the author is an incredibly wonderful and sharp-witted guy. I think we’re going to see a lot more from him.

Jules: Oh yes, my daughters are deeply in love with those Mamoko books by Mizielińska and Daniel Mizieliński. They even turned the word “Mamoko” into its own song, and those books go everywhere in the car with them. And the Maps book from last year? It’s exquisite. I hated that in 2013 I didn’t write about that book, but at least we’re giving it some attention now. (Better late than never.)


Last question, since you have a big journey ahead of you (no pun intended): Do you know enough about the future to know what will be post-trilogy, as in any plans/ideas already in the works that you can talk about?

Aaron: I have several ideas in the works, but I have the feeling I’ll find something in Spain that will plant a seed or two. In particular, Southern Spain, where we’ll be living, is known for its Moorish influences, so I’m pretty sure I’ll be in my version of architectural heaven.

* * * * * * *

QUEST. Copyright © 2014 by Aaron Becker. Published by Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

All artwork and images are used with permission of Aaron Becker.

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2. Reading Roundup: August 2014

By the Numbers
Teen: 11
Tween: 5
Children: 3

Sources
Review Copies: 11
Purchased: 2
Library: 3

Standouts
Teen: The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco
It starts with a murderous ghost who's not even the villain, and ends . . . well, no, I can't tell you that. In between, it crawls through Japanese ghost stories and gives you the creepies to no end.
Tween: The League of Seven by Alan Gratz
While I thoroughly enjoyed the old-fashioned adventure story feel of this (with a soupcon of steampunk!), my favorite part lay in the construction of a world where Europeans, mysteriously cut off from Europe, get absorbed into the pre-existing Native American society of the New World.
Children: Rose by Holly Webb
Rose has a bedrock of good common sense, which is why it's so interesting to see her go head-to-head with magical goings-on and discover her own magical power.

Because I Want To Awards
For the Whovians in the Crowd: Jackaby by William Ritter
This fast-paced murder mystery, careering through Victorian New England, with a supernatural detective who has a Really Bad Habit of not imparting all the facts to his long-suffering assistant (and our narrator), was definitely built on the Dr. Who/Sherlock Holmes model model.
For an Author Who's Done So Many Teen Girls, This was a Spot-On Tween Boy: Life on Mars by Jennifer Brown
As legions of older sisters and younger brothers will tell you, there's a world of difference between the two. But Brown nailed it, first try.
Tissue-Paper Premise, Slam-Dunk Execution: Finding Ruby Starling by Karen Rivers
Twins who didn't know it find each other over the internet in a story told solely through text communication of one kind or another. Oh, yeah, it's a tough sell, but Rivers' spot-on tween girl voices do the trick.

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3. September online issues

       Among the publications with September issues now available, in part or whole, online are:

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4. Ten Tips to Juice Up Your Protagonist

Most writers know every story needs a protagonist with a problem, but your MC also needs to be interesting, compelling, and sympathetic to keep the readers wanting more. We want our characters to jump off the page and grab our readers by the throat. Plus, we want our readers to remember and think about our characters and our story long after they close our book.

Here are ten ways to make your protagonist do just that: 

 

1.  MC has a problem that needs to be solved

Make sure your protagonist is the one with the problem and no one else can solve this problem (or solve it as well as he or she can. The MC has to be central to the entire issue.

2.  MC has the ability to act

Don’t let your protagonists go around just reacting to things when they happen. Your MC should make things happen and move the story along through his or her choices and actions. A protagonist who knows what she wants and makes the story happen is a far more compelling character than one who sits around and waits for the story to happen. Make sure your protagonist is more than just someone in the middle of a mess.

If this is not happening in your book, you need to adjust your story in order to get your protagonist in a position where they can affect the change.

3.  MC needs reasons to act

You can always give your MC something to do, but they need to have good reasons for their actions or your story will start to stretch credibility as to why they would get involved in something that clearly don’t care about. If you want to have your protagonist risk their life or happiness, make sure it’s for a reason readers will understand. NOTE: This is where a critique group comes in handy.

4.  MC needs a compelling quality

Like I said in the beginning, we want to make our MC interesting. Maybe they’re funny, smart or twisted. Maybe your MC has an unusual talent, skill, or quark. Whatever you choose, there needs to be a quality that makes a reader want to know more. Most times the thing that is compelling is also contradictory, making the reader want to know how these two things work together, thus hooking the reader.

5.  MC has something to lose

Just having a reason to act isn’t enough, so think about having your MC lose something that matters. This is a powerful motivating tool that will enable you to force your protagonist to do what he normally wouldn’t. You can have them take risks they would never take if there are consequences hanging over their head. This will make readers worry that your MC might suffer those consequences and lose what matters most to him.

6.  MC should have something to gain

An important aspect of the story’s stakes that’s sometimes forgotten or not thought through well enough is giving the MC something to gain. Readers want to see a protagonist rewarded for all their hard work and sacrifice, and a reason for your protagonist to keep going when everything says give up.

7.  Give Your MC the capacity to change

The sole of the story is character growth. It’s what turns it from a series of plot scenes to a tale worth writing. Giving your protagonist the ability to learn from his experiences and become a better (though not always) person will deepen your story. Your MC shouldn’t be the same person as they were when the story began.

8.  MC needs an interesting flaw

It is the flaws that make your MC interesting. Flaws let you show character growth and give your protagonist a way to improve themselves. Maybe your MC knows about this flaw and is actively trying to fix it, or perhaps he or she hasn’t a clue and change is being forced upon them. This flaw could be the very thing that allows your MC to survive and overcome the problems. Of course, it could also be the cause of the entire mess.

9.  MC has a secret

You don’t want your MC to be predictable – boring. A good way to keep your protagonist interesting is to have your MC hide something. Readers will wonder what that secret is and how it affects the story. Having your protagonist be a little cryptic, will keep your readers dying to find out.

10. MC needs someone or something interesting trying to stop him

Don’t forget that your protagonist needs an antagonist standing against him. The stronger the antagonist is that goes up against your MC, the more tension, suspense and victory you will provide for the reader. Give the reader a villain they will love to hate. The payoff will be keeping your readers turning the pages and reading into the wee hours of the morning.

Do you have another tips for juicing up your characters? We’d love to hear it.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, How to, list, Process, revisions, Writing Tips Tagged: Juice Up Your Protagonist, Ten character Writing Tips, Writing compelling characters

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5. facebook page

I made a new facebook page, you can visit it here:


I included some old works that i haven't posted here and the idea is to continue to post here and there.



0 Comments on facebook page as of 9/2/2014 2:43:00 AM
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6. More Murakami !

       Yes, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage just came out in English, but we're in for a Christmas-season treat as well, as Alexandra Alter reports in The New York Times that New 96-Page Murakami Work Coming in December, and Lindesay Irvine reports in The Guardian that UK readers can also look forward to it, as Haruki Murakami to publish new book in English in December.
       Knopf will be publishing The Strange Library in the US, and Harvill Secker will in the UK; neither publisher appears to have a publicity page up yet, but you can already pre-order the book at Amazon.com. (And you can see (parts of) the two covers in the aforementioned newspaper articles.)
       Among the points of interest: the short volume is being translated by Ted Goossen -- not entirely new to translating Murakami, but the first stand-alone he's handled. A new name to add to the Murakami regulars (Jay Rubin, Alfred Birnbaum, Philip Gabriel) ?
       Apparently also:

Knopf is fleshing out The Strange Library with full-color art throughout in a lavish volume designed by Chip Kidd, Knopf's associate art director. Mr. Kidd said he drew on his own collection of vintage Japanese graphics as inspiration for the design.
       I'm always suspicious of 'lavish' and wish the focus were more on the words; kind of sad that Alter sees fit to make big mention of this -- and none at all of who translated the work ..... Read the rest of this post

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7. Open a World of Possible

Rainbow Pen

Writing Prompt: How does reading open your world and make new things possible?

Scholastic has a new mission about the power of books and reading called Open a World of Possible. Did you ever feel pulled into the pages of a book you were reading? Like that book . . . or a combination of all the books you read . . . turned you into a different person?

Reading can change our lives. It can be magical. We can get lost in the pages of a good book. It can open our eyes to people and situations we never knew. It can make us laugh. Pass hours of boredom away. Make us want to right the wrongs in the world. Make us want to create our own adventures. Help us to grow up. Or help us be a kid just a little longer.

So for today’s Writing Prompt, we want to know:

How does reading open your world and make new things possible?

Watch these Open a World of Possible videos for inspiration

and let us know how reading has shaped your life. Can’t wait to see your responses in the Comments below.

-Ratha, Stacks Writer

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8. Spotlight and Giveaway: Texas Twist by Cynthia D’Alba

 
Enter to Win
TONS of TEXAS TWIST Goodies
Gift Card, Mugs, T-Shirts, Etc


 
Real bad boys can grow up to be real good men.

Hit hard by the death of her parents, Paige Ryan needs to figure out what to do with her life. She moves to Whispering Springs, Texas, to be near her step-brother. But just as she starts to get her life on track, the last man she ever wanted to see again sends it right back off the rails.

Cash Montgomery was on the cusp of having it all. Three bull riding titles, fame, fortune and respect from his family. Until a bad bull leaves him injured, angry and searching for comfort at the bottom of a bottle. With nowhere to go, he moves into his sister-in-law’s old ranch house in Whispering Springs—which he’s surprised to find already occupied.

As Cash rebuilds the dilapidated home and Paige starts out on her medical career, their old friendship begins to reemerge and sparks are ignited. Paige knows that Cash is nothing but a heartache waiting to happen. But maybe this bad boy has grown up to be a real good man?

Warning: Watch out for falling lumber, falling in holes, and falling for the wrong guy…again. You can leave your hard hat on.


 

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway


 

 
 
Award winning author Cynthia D’Alba was born and raised in Arkansas. After being gone for seventeen years, she’s thrilled to be back home living on the banks of an eight-thousand acre lake. When she’s not reading, writing or plotting, she’s doorman for her two dogs, cook, housekeeper and chief bottle washer for her husband and slave to a noisy, messy parrot. She loves to chat online with friends and fans





The post Spotlight and Giveaway: Texas Twist by Cynthia D’Alba appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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9. Institute from near or far

2014 Institute LogoIt’s true: registration for the ALSC Institute has reached maximum capacity and is now closed. We’re very sorry that we weren’t able to accommodate the demand.   But not to fear: you can come right here for live blogging during the Institute!  And watch for a wrap up post next month, along with an announcement of the location for ALSC Institute 2016.

For those that will be joining us in Oakland, stayed tuned for local information on our website, as well as instructions for how to access online materials.  And… would you care to share with your colleagues? We are still recruiting live bloggers; just contact alscblog@gmail.com.

Here’s what’s happening in Oakland this week. See you all soon!

Nina Lindsay, ALSC Institute Task Force Chair, Oakland Public Library

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10. From the Family Bookshelf – September

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Hard to believe summer is nearly gone. It was a busy time for me, but an enjoyable one. The family traveled to North Carolina at the beginning of July, and then I went on an all girls trip to visit Laura Ingalls Wilder sites in South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa. For the Lil’ Diva’s 13th birthday, we took the girls on a surprise trip to Disney. What a blast we had, but it was so HOT! The thermometer didn’t get below 95 degrees during the day while we there. I’m sure you’re all feeling sorry for me right now, huh?

I managed to get some reading done in between jaunts. I’m glad to be home with the girls back in school. Though with my new job I don’t have much free time, at least we’re on a schedule. In July I read, Renewal “Anytime” 10 Day Detox by Lisa Consiglio Ryan, When SHMACK Happens, an inspirational sports biography by international cycling champion Amber Neben, and A Grand Design by Amber Stockton and Miracle in a Dry Season by Sarah Loudin Thomas–both Christian romances. On vacation I finished The Truth: Diary of a Gutsy Teen by Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein. Right now, I’m reading The Red Sheet by Mia Kerick and The Hybrid Author by Dianne Sagan.

Poor Dad is still working on The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman. He works too much, so he’s tired a lot of the time. He rarely gets an entire chapter done before falling asleep.

The Lil’ Diva received two $25 gift cards to Barnes and Noble for her birthday, so she splurged on books. In addition, I bought her America: Imagine the World without Her by Dinesh D’Souza, The Sound by Sara Alderson, and Let it Snow: Three Holiday Romances by John Green, Lauren Myracle, and Maureen Johnson. Then she won Fangirl and Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell from the summer reading program. Also as part of the program, she got to order a free paperback. She chose If I Stay by Gayle Forman. She’s working her way through her new books right now.

The Lil’ Princess managed to read enough to complete her goal for the summer reading program, but then called it quits for the summer. She’ll have a busy fall, so I guess it’s okay that she slacked off. She also won a raffle during the library’s summer reading program. We definitely had a great summer. I hope you did too.

That’s it for this edition of From the Family Bookshelf. Hope you’ll share some of what you’ve been reading. Have a great day and keep reading!


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11. Review: Not For Everyday Use. On-line Floricanto 7 X 5

Elizabeth Nunez. Not For Everyday Use. NY: Akashic Books, 2014. ISBN: 9781617752339 e-IBSN: 9781617752780

Michael Sedano

You won’t necessarily take a phone call one day, maybe you’ll be there. You won’t necessarily be 64 like that song, but you’ll be old when you get the news your mother is dead. Not For Everyday Use is Elizabeth Nunez’ memoir of the hours and days following her mother’s passing.


In the course of a few days, the family reunion, funeral and church rituals, sibling expectations, and the author’s own disconnectedness spark reflections upon memories that guide the daughter’s comprehension of the immensity of this change in her family.

While the theme of the matriarch’s death is universal, readers will appreciate the writer’s post-colonial, immigrant, and person-of-color themes that play strongly throughout the memoir. Nunez devotes elaborated discussion to class v. color arguments, fidelity, decolonized mindsets, the isolation and hardship of an immigrant single mother on her own, why her mother pushed her away.

Written with a novelist’s pen, the story flows from incidents and anecdotes juxtaposed in time. In one section, the reader learns that Nunez and Betty Shabazz work in the same academic department. Any sense of solidarity between the Trinidadian and the US Muslim quickly dissipates in another account, Nunez being told off by a U.S.-born black woman that the Trinidadian black woman should know her place. They were competing for a student leadership position. Another tale, in dialect, reflects an attitude that infects and strengthens the Nunez clan, what don bile, don spile. It's the attitude the old man displays looking upon the corpse of his wife of 65 years. He nods and says before walking away, "Well, that's that."

Mourning often gives way to old resentments and unfinished business. Nunez has some of this, perhaps, in her descriptions of her sisters and brothers. Her sister Karen really gets under her skin. Her father’s cheating and her mother’s pain at it are recurring jabs at the 90 year old demented man. The father’s Carnival dance at the funeral parlor comes as total surprise and author's restrained humor. You’re not supposed to laugh, are you?

Not For Everyday Use is the autobiography of Nunez’ novels Anna In-between and Boundaries. For practitioners of the craft of memoir writing, the author shares a writer’s insight on using one’s life and family to populate her fiction, and how a moment's recognition winds and unravels skeins of time recorded in the words.

Readers of those two excellent novels will appreciate the connections between the writer’s world and that of the novels. Prior reading won’t be required with Nunez calling attention to key parallels and differences between the novels and the author's life. The writer treads a storyteller's line that leads her familia to accuse the author of getting too honest about private matters. The writer’s defense, “I’m a writer.”

Reading Elizabeth Nunez’ two-novel life of Anna Sinclair, Anna In-Between and Boundaries, introduces readers to a flinty mother, a daughter wanting more affection, a divorced single mother immigrant black woman employed in New York publishing industry. That’s almost Nunez’ profile. She’s an English professor.

In the novels, Anna and Beatrice suffer one another’s needs but maintain an icy distance. Nunez' friends say she's too hard on the fictional mother. That’s also the mother-daughter relationship the author weaves together in Not For Everyday Use. It’s not a spoiler to say--look for it--Elizabeth and Una have a warm reconciliation when both manage to say, without choking on the emotion, “I love you.”

Readers and writers of US ethnic literatures will find Nunez’ voicing of immigrant sentiments familiar, eloquent, and distinctive. Coming from a newly de-colonized gente--she's first generation--the author’s voice and insight into exigencies in-common will prove vitalizing to readers and writers.

You can order Not For Everday Use through your local independent bookseller, or directly from the publisher, Akashic Books’ website here.



Seven by Five: On-line Floricanto for September 2
Gabriel Rosenstock, Francisco X. Alarcón, Jackie Lopez, Frank de Jesus Acosta, Mario Angel Escobar

The Moderators of the Facebook group Poets Responding to SB1070 Poetry of Resistance recommend five poets from two continents writing in three languages for today's La Bloga On-line Floricanto.


"An End to Borders" by Gabriel Rosenstock with his original poem in Gaelic, "Deireadh Le Teorainneacha"
"Frontera / Border" by Francisco X. Alarcón
"Slithering Our Way to Heaven" by Jackie Lopez
"Why I Write?" by Frank de Jesus Acosta
"Brown Chronicles" by Mario Angel Escobar



AN END TO BORDERS
by Gabriel Rosenstock

An end to borders
An end to flags
An end to barbed wire
An end to towering walls
An end to nations
End the base tinkle of currencies
End wars
Let the planet breathe freely
Without borders
Without flags
Without barbed wire
Without towering walls
Without nations
Without the base tinkle of currencies
Without wars
An end forever to borders

DEIREADH LE TEORAINNEACHA
by Gabriel Rosenstock

Deireadh le teorainneacha
Deireadh le bratacha
Deireadh le sreang dheilgneach
Deireadh le fallaí arda
Deireadh le náisiúin
Cuir deireadh le cling shuarach na n-airgeadraí
Deireadh le cogaí
Lig don phláinéad análú gan bhac
Gan teorainneacha
Gan bhratacha
Gan sreang dheilgneach
Gan fallaí arda
Gan náisiúin
Gan cling shuarach na n-airgeadraí
Gan chogaí
Deireadh go deo le teorainneacha



Gabriel Rosenstock. Poet, novelist, playwright, haikuist, essayist, author/translator of over 170 books, mostly in Irish (Gaelic). Taught haiku at the Schule für Dichtung (Poetry Academy), Vienna, and Hyderabad Literary Festival, India. Prolific translator of poems, plays, songs, he also writes for children, in prose and verse. Represented in Best European Fiction 2012 (Dalkey Archive Press) and Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years (W. W. Norton & Co. 2013). Books Ireland, Summer 2012, says of his detective novel My Head is Missing: ‘This is a departure for Rosenstock but he is surefooted as he takes on the comic genre and writes a story full of engaging characters and a plot that keeps the reader turning the page.’
New and selected poems I OPEN MY POEM …(translated from the Irish) published in 2014 by PoetryWala, Mumbai, India and The Partisan and other stories published by Evertype, 2014.
Rosenstock’s Blog address:
roghaghabriel.blogspot.ie




Frontera/ Border
by Francisco X. Alarcón





Francisco X. Alarcón, award winning Chicano poet and educator, born in Los Angeles, in 1954, is the author of twelve volumes of poetry, including, From the Other Side of Night: Selected and New Poems (University of Arizona Press 2002), and Snake Poems: An Aztec Invocation (Chronicle Books 1992), Sonetos a la locura y otras penas / Sonnets to Madness and Other Misfortunes (Creative Arts Book Company 2001), De amor oscuro / Of Dark Love (Moving Parts Press 1991, and 2001).
His latest books are Ce•Uno•One: Poems for the New Sun / Poemas para el Nuevo Sol (Swan Scythe Press 2010), and for children, Animal Poems of the Iguazú/Animalario del Iguazú (Children’s Book Press 2008) which was selected as a Notable Book for a Global Society by the International Reading Association, and as an Américas Awards Commended Title by the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs. His previous bilingual book titled Poems to Dream Together/Poemas para sonar juntos (Lee & Low Books 2005) was awarded the 2006 Jane Addams Honor Book Award.
He teaches at the University of California, Davis, where he directs the Spanish for Native Speakers Program. The issue of eco-poetics and xenophobia are a the core of three upcoming collections of poems, “Poetry of Resistance: A Multicultural Anthology in Response to SB 1070,” “Borderless Butterflies: Earth Haikus and Other Poems / Mariposas sin fronteras: Haikus terrenales y otros poemas.” He is the creator of the Facebook page POETS RESPONDING TO SB 1070 where more than 3,000 poems by poets all over the world have been posted. This is the link to the Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/PoetryOfResistance




Slithering Our Way to Heaven
by Jackie Lopez

I see love, peace, and joy slithering like a snake in the grass up to our spines.
It enables us to see Heaven on Earth when there is plenty of Orisha-orientations.
We sink into Mother Earth for her comfort and strength in our enterprise for survival.
And, we will survive.
Every border,
every genocide,
every racist, sexist, classist sentiment is thrown out the window for our survival.
Every history book will speak the truth of our organization.
Every Thursday we shall have dinner with wonderful disorganization.
Now and then, we cross the border of discontent and organize an evolution.
We march in the streets.
We picket on the line.
And, we shall nail our edict on the cross.
There is hope in a word.
There is hope in a dance.
There is hope in a march and we go marching on.
We claim the universe complete.
We are anointed and know that the only way to survive is if we take a trip to the truth.
I am not agnostic and esoteric at the same time.
I am survival of the kindest.
I am survival of true love.
We sink or swim in misbehavior.
For our solution is found in the consultation of our souls.
And, where does it all start?
And, where did I come from?
It all started with a misbehavior one evening when I was anointing the masses.
We are organizing an evolution for the promotion of restitution.
We are aghast with philosophy, and we shall anoint whomever washes a dish.
And, the saints are marching in.
We wear mini-skirts and shorts.
We wear an Alaskan mask and we shoot the breeze with the namesayers.
We are closet scientists and we mistake enamorations for flirtations.
So, now I say, Let us rejoice for the world has opened up with dire pollution in order for us to be united as emancipators.
We shall cross the border.
We shall reach the sea.
We have been accosted at every turn with oppression.
And, it is getting thick like molasses.
So, I cling to hope and enamorations.
I cling so that I might see the universe for what it really is and what it does to us.
We are disjointed at the ends, and we are getting the Heaven out of Hell.
So, speak your truth.
I am listening.
Sing, for boyfriends offer patrimony to the lovely creationism that you bring.
And, I dive into the lies and remember that the only thing that can get through my pores is the truth.
We are shamans.
We promote the non-toxicity of the world.
We are crazy with love and emotional control.
We sing in the spirit of a saint.
And we embark on traffic control.
There is not such a thing as hope without despair.
It is now our golden opportunity to live on Earth and say, “We are hope.”
So, little is said about the misogynistic era of enlightenment.
However, I am one to say it.
This is the millennium of Heaven.
There is an ocean of forgiveness somewhere out there.
There is emancipatory proclamations out there as well.
And, we are ones to ride that wave.



Jackie Lopez is a poet and writer from San Diego. She was founding member of the Taco Shop Poets and has always pursued a study of history of which has influenced her writing. She has taught in San Diego City Schools and has been published in several literary journals. She has just finished her Magnum Opus titled “Telepathic Goodbye” described as a uniform poem of 25, 333 words. She is now looking for a publisher for this. You can catch her work on facebook under “Jackie Lopez Lopez” where she shares her work with a daily poem. She has a radio interview that will come out later this year. Her email: peacemarisolbeautiful@yahoo.com







Why I write?
by Frank de Jesus Acosta

I write to:

Give scope to my growing understanding of truth;
Impart my dreams and visions;
Honor the sacrifice of the ancestors;
Remember the stories, traditions, and history of my people;
Reflect the duality of pain;
Express gratitude for the miracle of creation;
Acknowledge the integrity of all cultures;
Celebrate the expression of my own;
Lament the anathema of hate, greed, egoism, and tyranny;
Witness to justice, compassion, respect, and non-violence;
Incite aspiration to human possibility;
Voice the inspiration of love;
Commune with the presence of God in others;
Leave footprints of my dance to the song of life...

Reflection by: Frank de Jesus Acosta


Frank de Jesus Acosta is principal of Acosta & Associates, a California-based consulting group that specializes in professional support services to public and private social change ventures in the areas of children, youth and family services, violence prevention, community development, and cultural fluency. In 2007, he authored, The History of Barrios Unidos, Cultura Es Cura, Healing Community Violence, published by Arte Publico Press, University of Houston. Acosta is a graduate of University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). His professional experience includes serving in executive leadership positions with The California Wellness Foundation, the Coalition for Humane Immigration Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), Downtown Immigrant Advocates (DIA), the Center for Community Change, and the UCLA Community Programs Office. He is presently focused on completing the writing and publishing a two book series for Arte Publico Press focused on best practices to improve the well-being of Latino young men and boys. Acosta most recently co-authored a published “Brown Paper” with Jerry Tello of the National Latino Fatherhood and Family Institute (NLFFI) entitled, “Lifting Latinos Up by Their Rootstraps: Moving Beyond Trauma Through a Healing-Informed Framework for Latino Boys and Men.” Acosta provides writing and strategic professional support in research, planning, and development to foundations and community-focused institutions on select initiatives focused on advancing social justice, equity, and pluralism. He is also finalizing writing and editing a book of inter-cultural poetry and spiritual reflections.





BROWN CHRONICLES
by Mario Angel Escobar

If you ever want to walk
the corners of your streets,
Be ready to put your hands up
because the pigmentation of your skin,
Has already made you guilty.
Be ready to hold your last breath
because eyes with a sense of supremacy
will stalked you
following your foots steps.
Don’t hold anything in your hands
Open them like roses in the spring
accelerating their process
because if you don’t
the law will drop a white blanket
on a puddle of blood
covering a history
that has been deny
over and over again
but why cry
if the tears will continue to blossom
everyday
flooding with sadness
our sunsets.
Wherever you go
Sirens
Will stalked you
suffocated your path
with the scent of your
dead ones
If you ever want to walk
the corners of your streets,
Be ready to put your hands up
because a single phrase
I am not guilty!
I am not guilty!
I am not guilty!
Will not do
and in the vortex
of the hourglass sand
you will find
that the dream
still a dream
in the corners
of your street.

© Mario A. Escobar 2014


Mario A. Escobar (January 19, 1978-) is a US-Salvadoran writer and poet born in 1978. Although he considers himself first and foremost a poet, he is known as the founder and editor of Izote Press. Escobar has stated that his exposure to “poetic sounds” began during his childhood and that his foundation in poetry stemmed from what he witness during the Salvadoran Civil War. Escobar began his writing career by the age of 13 as a poet. He cites Roque Dalton, Tato Laviera and Jaime Sabines as some of his early poetic influences. Escobar’s work has been feature in UCLA’s publication Underground Undergrads which recognizes the poet as an activist for the undocumented Student Movement. In 2004, Escobar was placed under arrest and was scheduled to be deported. In 2006, Escobar won his case for political asylum making him one of the last Salvadorans to win a political case fourteen years after the Salvadoran Peace Accords were signed in 1992. Escobar is a faculty member in the Department of Foreign Languages at LA Mission College. Some of Escobar’s works include Al correr de la horas (Editorial Patria Perdida, 1999) Gritos Interiores (Cuzcatlan Press, 2005), La Nueva Tendencia (Cuzcatlan Press, 2005), Paciente 1980 (Orbis Press, 2012). His bilingual poetry appears in Theatre Under My Skin: Contemporary Salvadoran Poetry by Kalina Press.

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12. Recently Received

 

This is the World - Miroslav Sasek

 

Here’s the latest round of books and goods to hit our shelves. This week’s entries include items from Nobrow, Chronicle Books, Universe, Korero Press, Ryan Gillett and Mid Century Magazine.

 

This is the World - Miroslav Sasek

This is the World - Miroslav Sasek

This is the World - Miroslav Sasek

This is the World - Miroslav Sasek

 This is the World: A Global Treasury
By Miroslav Sasek / Published by Universe
 234 Pages / 9.1″x12.6″

A compilation of abridged versions of M. Sasek’s most popular children’s travel books. From London to Hong Kong, Sydney to San Francisco, readers will delight in this charming journey through the world’s great cities. With deft strokes of his paintbrush and a witty voice to match, master illustrator and storyteller M. Sasek captured the essence of the world’s major capitals and brought them to life for an entire generation of young readers. Now, more than fifty years later, those same readers are passing these stories down to their children and their children’s children, and Sasek’s This is series has officially reached iconic status. Collected here for the first time in one affordable volume are some of Sasek’s most beloved adventures.

Pre-order at Amazon, Rizzoli and your local book shop.

 

Paul Rand - Thoughts on Design

Thoughts on Design
By Paul Rand / Foreword by Michael Beirut / Published by Chronicle Books
96 Pages /  6 7/20 x 7 3/4 in

One of the seminal texts of graphic design, Paul Rand’s Thoughts on Design is now back in print for the first time since the 1970s. Writing at the height of his career, Rand articulated in his slender volume the pioneering vision that all design should seamlessly integrate form and function. This facsimile edition preserves Rand’s original 1947 essay with the adjustments he made to its text and imagery for a revised printing in 1970, and adds only an informative and inspiring new foreword by design luminary Michael Bierut. As relevant today as it was when first published, this classic treatise is an indispensable addition to the library of every designer.

Available at Amazon, Chronicle Books and your local book shop.

 

Moonhead by Andrew Rae

Moonhead by Andrew Rae

Moonhead by Andrew Rae

Moonhead and the Music Machine
By Andrew Rae / Published by Nobrow
176 Pages / Hardcover

Meet Joey Moonhead. A normal kid in every way.  Except one… He has a moon for a head.

Life is a peach when you have a moon for a head. Your head can wander out of the atmosphere into galactic reveries, drift blissfully across star specked plains, roll lazily into jungles with undiscovered artefacts or soar closer than Icarus to the sun’s seething glare. Snap! Back to reality – the world of a teenage boy is a much crueler place, the taunt “crater-face” is a very literal insult and the cool kids have an unremitting supply of abuse. And so, as the law of divine providence state, when the school talent contest takes its yearly turn, it is the role of the outcast to take part. Thus, Joey Moonhead begins a stellar mission to create a music machine that rivals all those in existence.

Available at Nobrow, Amazon and your local book shop.

 

Mid Century Magazine

Mid Century Magazine

Mid Century Magazine

MidCentury Magazine
Issue 07 – Summer / Autumn 2014
148 Pages

Features articles on Pioneers of architectural photography, Orla Kiely on creating a home, a buyers guide to Peter Hvidt and much more.

Available at Midcenturymagazine.com

 

 

Ryan Gillette

How Pleasant Postcard Test
By Ryan Gillett

 

Art inc

Art inc. - The Essential Guide for Building Your Career as an Artist
By Lisa Congdon, Edited by Meg Mateo Ilasco, Foreword by Jonathan Fields
184 Pages / 5 1/2 x 8 in / Published by Chronicle Books

Artists who dream of turning their passion into a career need only the expert guidance in Art, Inc. Lisa Congdon unveils the multiplicity of ways to make a living from art—including illustration, licensing, fine art sales, print sales, and teaching— and offers practical advice on cultivating a business mindset, selling and promoting work, and more. Trade secrets from art world pros including such luminaries as Paula Scher, Nikki McClure, and Mark Hearld makeArt, Inc. the ultimate resource for aspiring artists ready for success.

Available at Chronicle Books, Amazon and your local book shop.

Kiddie Cocktails by Stuart Sandler

Kiddie Cocktails by Stuart Sandler

Kiddie Cocktails

Kiddie Cocktails
By Stuart Sandler / Illustrations by Derek Yaniger / Published by Korero
112 Pages / Hardcover

Calling all junior mixologists ! Check out the coolest-ever collection of fabulous drink recipes in every flavor and style under the sun – sharp and tangy, smooth and sweet, fizzy but never flat, crisp and fruity, or rich and creamy – all minus the hooch ! Surprise your friends with a Kosmic Kooler, get the party started with a Dream Punch, or cruise to Hawaii with a Little Pink Pearl. You’ll also find tips on setting up your own kiddie cocktail bar – with advice on choosing everything you’ll need to make your cocktails look as amazing as they taste ! The entire book is lavishly illustrated by the internationally renowned artist Derek Yaniger.

Available at Korero Press and Amazon

 

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13. Premio FIL de Literatura en Lenguas Romances

       They've announced that this year's FIL Literary Award in Romance Languages will go to Blindly-author Claudio Magris; he will get his US$150,000 and the prize on 29 November, at the opening ceremonies of the Guadalajara International Book Fair.
       This prize has a solid list of previous winners, but Magris is certainly a worthy winner -- and good to see the prize look beyond Spanish again (not many Italian-writing winners so far ...).

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14. Hiroshima in the Morning by Rahna Reiko Rizzuto

On the basis of Beth Kephart's recommendation in her book Handling the Truth, I ordered a copy of Hiroshima in the Morning through Powells. The author Rahna Reiko Rizzuto received a fellowship to go to Japan in mid-2001 for six months and research her planned novel about the bombing of Hiroshima. What she did not expect was the wrenching difficulty (in a myriad of ways) of parting from her husband and 2 young sons in NYC and how complicated it would be to navigate Japanese culture and gain the insight she wanted on her subject.

This is a really tough book to classify because if I tell you it will resonate strongly with women who feel torn between family life and their work, you will probably immediately think of "Lean In" and not give it a second thought. But that aspect of the book is important and needs to be noted. Rizzuto's personal/professional conflict is so intense and so tied to the unique aspects of researching a book, that any writer who has ever felt similarly torn is going to identify very powerfully with her words. She wonders if she is committed enough to her marriage and motherhood and also worries about her own mother who is suffering from the early stages of dementia. Are there other places where Rizzuto should be? It doesn't help when her husband starts to rethink all of his earlier support for the project after spending one too many nights dealing with sick kids. And all Rizzuto can tell him is that she is talking to people, visiting museums and temples, "soaking up" the culture of Japan.

She might be more convincing if she felt more certain that she was getting done the work she needed.

That's the other impressive aspect of Hiroshima in the Morning--Rizzuto's discovery of how complicated the Hiroshima story is. The book has excerpts from the interviews she conducted with survivors and they are the very definition of gut wrenching. Rizzuto finds herself overwhelmed by the horror of those stories, (you will be too), and transformed by them. Then 9/11 happens and her family arrives for a visit and again her vision of herself and the world goes through another change.

There is a lot about this book that made me think about writing, history, stories, the power of family and so much more. So many times as a writer I have questioned the value of what I choose to do with my life and anyone who has ever been in that position will understand what Rizzuto goes through. But the stories from Hiroshima are what has stayed with me more than anything else and they make me think yet again how much our history is dominated by the way we tell stories, and our collective acceptance of who does the telling.

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15. Best Selling Picture Books | September 2014

Our best selling picture book for the past month is Herve Tullet's completely awesome Press Here (Chronicle Books, 2011). As per usual, we've shared our hand selected list of the most popular picture books from the nationwide best selling picture books, as listed by The New York Times

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16. Artist of the Day: Gaëlle Hersent

Today we look at the work of Gaëlle Hersent, Cartoon Brew's Artist of the Day!

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17. REVISITING AND RE-VISIONING A MANUSCRIPT – Dianne Hofmeyr

More than two years ago I finished the first draft of my 9th novel and handed three chapters over to my agent. She hated it. Picked holes in just about every paragraph. Didn’t think my characters were convincing. Thought some of my research was suspect. And generally couldn’t find anything good to say about it. I put up all sorts of arguments for it being a first draft etc etc but after she had torn it apart, the thought of fixing it was just too daunting. So the story was buried.

I knew it was a good idea and once I could stand back from all the criticism, I felt there was a kernel there that still needed to be told. But I was far too demoralized to dig deep and find the right way of telling it. After a couple of years of being involved with picture books, I recently took it out again. My son, who has had some success with an 'about to be published' first novel and a film deal, asked the burning question: what is the story about?

I rambled on and on. I was floundering.

There was the problem! I had no idea. I couldn’t be succinct enough to say what my story was about. So if I couldn’t sell my story to my agent, or even my own son, how was I going to whet the appetite of an editor or more importantly readers out there?

Anyone who listens to a premise, must be able to see the entire book unfolding in his mind. A premise has few words but must hit hard. It has to be emotionally intriguing. It has to mean something to the person hearing the idea for the first time. But it's not just a tool to use to sell a story to an editor, it's for the writer to keep crystalised in his head as he works. The little nugget from which all else springs. Nicola Morgan has written reams about writing premises but I had somehow fallen into the lazy trap of thinking because I write organically (pantster???), my premise could be equally organic.

Wrong! Basically a premise needs a compelling hero, a compelling bad guy and a compelling need or goal we as humans can identify with. Put this in a single sentence or at the most two and make it compelling enough to capture a stranger’s attention and to keep the writer focused on the kernel of the story.

What is the story about? My son’s question drew me up sharp. I couldn’t tell him in a few succinct sentences. But the moment I began to formulate and define the premise, like magic, the conflicts were brought more sharply into focus, my protagonist gained stature and I could make the bad guy just a bit more out of reach of my hero’s ability to defeat him.

So writing a good premise is a great step in the right direction. Ask yourself is this story about someone:
I can identify with
I can learn from
I have a compelling reason to follow
I believe deserves to win
Has weaknesses that are overcome in the end (the hero's arc)
Has stakes that are primal and ring true?

Now as I’m picking up on my story again, I’m visualizing a short and hugely dramatic first image and then I’m going into the beats of the story like they do in film-scripts. What is the right way to pace this story? I’m even writing out index cards and am putting them up on a cork-board. And having read Lori Don’s recent blogpost on ABBA where he writes: I know that I’m just discovering the story, not finding the perfect way of telling it first time around. And I know that it takes a lot of work to make that original mess of scribbled ideas into a book, I’ve realized that keeping track of the beats in a story is far easier if you’ve already written the first draft. Heaven forbid I would ever have to work out the beats in a story I hadn’t drafted first.

Now after the premise and that riveting first image and the initial set-up of time, place and characters, what is the catalyst? The moment of no turning back? Crossing the threshold? The door of no return? Should I go? Dare I go? I’m talking about me… not my hero! And for those of you who recognise some of the above – yes, I have read Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat and yes I think both he, my son and my agent have hopefully saved my manuscript.

And finally as an aside, I don’t believe my research is suspect – my notebooks are full of distracting and time-wasting detail that help me 'play' and doodle my way through the story. 




www.diannehofmeyr.com
twitter: @dihofmeyr
Dianne Hofmeyr's most recent picture book Zeraffa Giraffa published by Frances Lincoln, is illustrated by Jane Ray and has been translated into 6 languages other than English. Her previous picture book The Name of the Tree is Bojabi, also published by Frances Lincoln and illustrated by Piet Grobler, was nominated for the 2014 Kate Greenaway.

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18. Samuel Johnson Prize longlist

       They've announced the longlist for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction -- though, last I checked, they hadn't managed to do that at the official site, because ... well ... who knows ? But The Telegraph has the list of fifteen titles.
       None, I'm afraid, are under review at the complete review -- hey, it's non-fiction; hard to drum interest for that sort of thing hereabouts (though of course there are exceptions).

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19. The Garden of Letters by Alyson Richman



THE GARDEN OF LETTERS sounds wonderful.  I have this book but have not been able to read it yet.
________________________________

Alyson Richman’s previous novel The Lost Wife dazzled on national bestseller lists and was praised by author John Lescroart as being “the Sophie’s Choice of this generation.”
_________________________________


Praise for The Garden of Letters

“The Garden of Letters demonstrates artistry of the highest order. Lyrical and compelling, Alyson Richman’s novel of a cellist coming of age in wartime Italy is as layered as a symphony. Exquisite.”

Erika Robuck, author of Fallen Beauty

“Lyrical and rich…filled with beauty and tragedy, romance and heartbreak.”


Jillian Cantor, author of Margot

“Bottom line: you should read The Garden of Letters.”


Jenna Blum, New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Save Us
________________________________


Best-selling author Alyson Richman has received both national and international praise for her work, including 15 language translations and honorable nominations such as the Book Sense Notable Pick in 2006. Following the success of her first three novels, Richman’s latest book, The Lost Wife, was critically acclaimed, chosen as a Jewish Book Council selection and winning the Long Island Reads Pick in 2012, praised by booksellers, bloggers, and media all around the country.

Now, Alyson Richman explores the life of a young musician swept into the Italian Resistance during World War II in THE GARDEN OF LETTERS (Berkley Trade Paperback; September 2, 2014; $16.00).

Accompanying readers back to the tumultuous times of the 1940’s, THE GARDEN OF LETTERS follows Elodie Bertolotti, a young cello prodigy. When Mussolini’s Fascist regime strikes her family, Elodie is drawn into the burgeoning resistance movement by Luca, a young and impassioned bookseller, and as the occupation looms she discovers that her unique musical talents, and her courage, have the power to save lives.

But forced to escape to the small coastal village of Portofino, Elodie is scared and alone as she steps of the boat.  Fortunately, she is rescued by Angelo Rosselli, a young doctor shackled to guilt and haunted by his past. Attempting to escape her own tragedies, Elodie uses her musical talent to mount her courage and help others who suffer in the same way. In doing so, Elodie reawakens a spirit in Angelo he thought he’d lost, which ignites a spark between the two that changes the course of their lives forever.

THE GARDEN OF LETTERS is an incredible story of love, courage, and the power of the human spirit to find hope against the backdrop of war.

Alyson Richman is the bestselling author of The Mask Carver’s Son, The Rhythm of Memory, The Last Van Gogh, and The Lost Wife.

THE GARDEN OF LETTERS
by Alyson Richman
Berkley Trade Paperback
On-sale: September 2, 2014
$16; ISBN: 978-0425266250


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20. Pancake Art Tips: Cleaning Squirt Bottles


 Condiment squirt bottles are super important tools for creating art pancakes but they can be challenging to clean! So I thought I would share with you today my cleaning process for them. 

I used to put the bottles in the dishwasher but I noticed that they would end up discolored (not the lids for some reason, just the squirt bottles). This could just be my dishwasher but anyhow, now I always clean the bottles by hand.

Here's my process:

Step One: Discard the leftover batter in the trash

Step Two: Soak the bottles in water for a few minutes. 

Step Three: Put the palm of your hand over the squirt bottle and shake the water around a few times.

Step Four: Use a baby bottle brush to clean your squirt bottle. Let them dry upside down on a towel.

Step Five: Put the lids in the dishwasher in a basket on the top rack

All done!

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21. A Letter to 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith

By Becca @ Pivot Book Reviews First off, I want to send Andye a HUGE thank you for having me here on Reading Teen! Second, I'm going to be reviewing 100 Sideways Miles a little different than normal. I'll be writing a letter to the book, saying what I did/didn't like, similar to how I normally review on my own blog!  Be sure to check out more of my review letters at Pivot Book Reviews!

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22. Review: Wildlife

Wildlife by Fiona Wood. Poppy, an imprint of Little, Brown. 2014. Reviewed from ARC.

The Plot: It's time for the "dreaded term" that is an "outdoor education camp." Nine weeks away from home, in the middle of nowhere, just you and some classmates and teachers.

Sib -- Sybilla Queen, 16 -- will be going. It's both dreaded and looked forward to, and she'll be going with friends and teens she's known her whole life. And all that time away from home! Things aren't quite what she expects, though, when she starts a romance with popular Ben Capaldi and her best friend Holly veers between jealous and supporting.

Lou, also 16, is new to the school and the group. She stands out, not just for being new, but for also not caring if she makes friends or enemies. Instead she sits back and observes. But if she's not willing to let people into her life, can she really tell others about how they're living theirs?

The Good: Wildlife - first, for the record, every year there is one book whose name I just repeatedly get wrong. This year, whenever I say Wildfire, know I mean Wildlife.

Wildlilfe alternates between two stories: Sib and Lou. Sib's story is about the girl who before school starts gets her braces off and has her acne clear up -- you get the idea. The cosmetic changes are even more amped up, because she posed for her aunt's advertising campaign. A glammed up version of Sib is what introduces her classmates to the "new" Sib -- except it's still the same old Sib, inside.

The New Sib now has a new boyfriend, Ben, and she is both flattered and scared by that. Yes, she likes him, but it's her first real boyfriend and she's just not sure what she wants or how she wants to be. Her best friend, Holly, is there, always being supportive and telling Sib the way she should be treating Ben.

Here is Sib describing Holly: "Maybe I need to explain that Holly's mean is not really meant to be mean -- it's just Holly! And you get used to it!." The reader doesn't need Lou seeing the Sib/Holly friendship to realize the relationship is toxic, and unhealthy, and Sib has no idea that Holly is that mean.

Lou's boyfriend died. It's probably best to get it out there, up front. She is still grieving and isolated, keeping the world at arm's length. Her moms think that the "outdoor education campus", nine weeks in the "wilderness," will somehow help. (While Lou hasn't attended the school before, one of her mothers went as a teen.) Lou's story is one of grief and loss and recovery, and putting together ones life. She's slowly drawn into the world she finds herself in, not through the other girls in her cabin -- Holly has marked her as an enemy, an outsider -- but through Michael, Sib's other best friend.

This is not a book where Lou and Michael fall in love, or where Lou finds new love. No, it respects Lou's loss and the time, the long amount of time, it takes when a loved one dies. What Michael and Lou offer each other is more important: friendship and acceptance. Lou needs that, even if she won't admit it, and Michael needs it, because he has to go through the pain of seeing the person he loves -- Sib -- happy with someone else.

This isn't a book about Sib and Ben falling in love. Sib and Ben's relationship is important, and I loved how Sib sorted out all her own complicated feelings about Ben. She's attracted to him, she wants a relationship, but she's also not quite sure about him or herself. Ben's a decent enough guy, but he's a teenaged boy. He doesn't pursue Sib until after she's glammed up. He and Sib are put together in a heightened time and place, the intensity and isolation of the wilderness experience. Out in the real world, would they have anything in common? And does that matter? One thing I love about Sib is that, when it comes to Ben, part of Sib realizes all this. But part of her is also young and new to relationships so she is unsure just what she wants from Ben and how to proceed, both emotionally and physically. So Wildlife is about their relationship, yes, but Wildlife is about a more important relationship.

Wildlife is a book about the friendship between Holly and Sib. Sib is in some ways a passive girl. It's not the type of passive of someone who doesn't know what they want; it's the passive of someone who is content with what they have. So content that it's not that she lacks strong feelings about things, but that she doesn't care so let Holly take the lead. It's like the old deciding where to go for dinner: it's not that the person who says "I don't care" doesn't care, it's that they have no real strong urge for Italian or pizza or hamburgers or Indian, they just want food, and if you care, find.

It's the type of passive that allows Holly to be the leader, and for Sib to go along with it. It's what some people call "too nice." But here's the thing about that type of "nice." It is genuine. Sib truly loves, and forgives, Holly.

Holly is a wounded girl: from the start, Sib explains that part of her tolerance for what Holly does is that she, Sib, knows the "real" Holly. What the reader (and Lou) sees is a girl who has gone from acting mean to being mean. A girl whose own insecurities and need for popularity and acceptance means that she's not afraid to push others around, and push other's buttons, to get what she wants. Holly is the type of girl you don't want your child to be friends with: not because she's dangerous, but because you know at some point, she's finally going to go too far and hurt your child emotionally. And much as I grew to hate Holly, I have to confess: given her own emotional wounds, I wonder if Holly at some point will "grow up" and stop hurting others to make herself feel better. I wonder if she will ever become self aware. Still, that is just wondering --in the meanwhile, I want those who Holly hurts to stay away from her because they can't fix Holly. Only Holly can.

Wildlife is about Sib and Holly's friendship slowly, messily ending. Just as the boarding situation helps Sib and Ben's relationship progress, it also helps Sib and Holly's friendship implode.

Oh, the reason I put "wilderness" in quotes earlier is that this isn't tents and camping. There are cabins, and meals, and toilets, and showers, and classrooms. It is in the middle of a wilderness area, with opportunities for tents and camping and no toilets or showers. Like many experiences, it's a very controlled "wilderness." It's also a great time for all the teens to practice being grown up and older with a safety net. They are away from home, yes; but there are still rules and teachers and chaperones around.

This is one of my Favorite Reads of 2014, because of the character growth and the dynamics between people.




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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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