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1. Enough with the Holocaust Books for Children!

It all started with Marjorie Ingall’s Tablet article, Enough with the Holocaust Books for Children. As she says in the article, "if you dropped an alien into the children’s section of a library, it would think Jews disappeared after World War II.” Then Arthur A. Levine shared Marjorie’s article on Facebook, commenting that “this smart article says many things that I’ve been saying for a while.” Twenty comments later, Elissa Gershowitz and Yael Levy had thoroughly discussed the difficulties and triumphs of getting NON-Holocaust books for kids published, and Barbara Bietz and I (blogger and podcaster, respectively) had started wondering aloud how we could bring more attention to these issues. Thus, this podcast episode was born.


Or click Mp3 File (63:19)

BOOK LIST of mostly non-Holocaust great Jewish kidlit
(titles mentioned during the podcast or submitted later by panelists)

I Lived on Butterfly Hill by Marjorie Agosin
An Unspeakable Crime: The Prosecution and Persecution of Leo Frank by Elaine Marie Alphin
My Grandfather’s Coat by Jim Aylesworth
Naamah and the Ark at Night by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Becoming Darkness by Lindsay Francis Brambles
Samir and Yonaton by Daniella Carmi
Hush by Eishes Chayil
Deadly by Julie Chibarro
Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust by Loic Dauvillier and Greg Salsedo
Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword, How Mirka Met a Meteorite, How Mirka Caught a Fish by Barry Deutsch
The Whispering Town by Jennifer Elvgren
Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba by Margarita Engle
The Importance of Wings by Robin Friedman 
Emma’s Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty by Linda Glaser
The Path of Names by Ari Goelman
The Brooklyn Nine by Alan Gratz
The Whole Story of Half a Girl by Veera Hiranandani
The Rabbi and the 29 Witches by Marilyn Hirsh
Feivel’s Flying Horses by Heidi Smith Hyde
Never Say a Mean Word Again by Jacqueline Jules
Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric A. Kimmel
Sam and Charlie (and Sam Too) by Leslie Kimmelman
About the B’nai Bagels by E.L. Konigsburg
Albert Einstein by Kathleen Krull
all books by Anna Levine
The Very Beary Tooth Fairy by Arthur A. Levine
Small Medium at Large by Joanne Levy
Lauren Yanofsky Hates the Holocaust by Leanne Lieberman
Proxy by Alex London
Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel
Flesh and Blood So Cheap by Albert Marrin
The Cats in the Doll Shop by Yona Zeldis McDonough
The Doll Shop Upstairs by Yona Zeldis McDonough
Rabbi Benjamin’s Buttons by Alice B. McGinty
As Good as Anybody by Richard Michelson
Lipman Pike: America’s First Home Run King by Richard Michelson
Fancy Nancy by Jane O’Connor
Wonder by RJ Palacio
When Life Gives You OJ by Erica Perl
Rifka Takes a Bow by Betty Rosenberg Perlov
Beautiful Yetta, the Yiddish Chicken by Daniel Pinkwater
Hidden Like Anne Frank: 14 True Stories of Survival by Marcel Prins
Chik Chak Shabbat by Mara Rockliff
Fleabrain Loves Franny by Joanne Rocklin
Playing with Matches by Suri Rosen
Looking for Me by Betsy Rosenthal
The Mitten String by Jennifer Rosner
Gathering Sparks by Howard Schwartz
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
The Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow
Zayde Comes to Live by Sheri Sinykin
Any Which Wall by Laurel Snyder
Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip by Jordan Sonnenblick
Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind and Haveli by Suzanne Fisher Staples
Kindred by Tammar Stein (series)
All of a Kind Family (series) by Sydney Taylor
New Year at the Pier by April Halprin Wayland
I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Dreidel by Caryn Yacowitz
Company’s Coming by Arthur Yorinks
A Bottle in the Gaza Sea by Valerie Zenatti


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  
Facebook: facebook.com/bookoflifepodcast  
Twitter: @bookoflifepod 
Support The Book of Life by becoming a patron at Patreon.com/bookoflife!
Your feedback is appreciated! Please write to bookoflifepodcast@gmail.com or call our voicemail number at 561-206-2473.

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2. The Rider

cover artI don’t remember where I heard about The Rider by Tim Krabbé. I feel like a broken record lately, how many times have I begun a post “I don’t remember where I heard about this book…”? It is beginning to get ridiculous and I should just stop. Does anyone even care how I found out about a book? I think I am just being lazy with opening sentences.

The Rider is anything but lazy. Along with being a chess champion and novelist, Krabbé also had a career as a professional bicycle racer. He got started in racing late in life at the age of thirty. Thirty is not old but to begin racing professionally at that age, not very common. He had talent though and made a good showing. This book is a kind of memoir of his racing and is it ever good.

The brilliance of the book is how it is structured. Krabbé begins with his arrival before the Tour de Mont Aigoual, a 137 kilometer race that climbs one of the highest peaks in the Cévennes. It is June 26, 1977, cool and cloudy. All the other riders are gathering and warming up. We get some of the dirt on who is good at doing what, who is young and ambitious and who has been around a long time and starting to lose their edge. We get pre-race jitters. They line up and then they are off.

And the narrative changes to a different time in Krabbé’s life in 1973. And then we are back in the race at kilometers 25-30 and back and forth the narrative goes between the race and the events that got him there, past races, past sports experiences when he was a child, histories of other riders and races. Having the narrative of one race interspersed with other things really works to ratchet up the suspense and by the time it gets to the end of the race I didn’t want to put the book down.

You may wonder what anyone could possibly have to say about a 137 kilometer bicycle race. I did. But wow, is it interesting. We get an insider’s view of what it is like to ride in the peloton — I was surprised to learn how much they talk to each other, just chatting to pass the time. We also get racing strategy — most of the time it has nothing to do with how fast you ca go. We learn about how terrifying it is to descend mountains on curving, wet roads. And we learn about what it means to suffer on the bike.

I read a lot about suffering and cycling, a lot of cyclists glorify it. Strava even lets you assign a suffer score to your rides as though the more you suffer the better cyclist you are. I have never understood about the suffering. I understand a little better now.

When you are racing 137 kilometers through the mountains there will be suffering. Your legs are going to hurt and many times you are going to feel as though you have nothing left but the race is not over yet and you can’t quit so somehow you find the will to keep pedaling; pedaling up the mountain, through the wind and the rain and the rain that turns to snow and the cold that settles into you in spite of how hard you are working so that you can’t even feel your hands on your handlebars anymore and can’t feel whether or not you are actually squeezing the brakes enough to keep you from crashing as you get ready to go through a sharp downhill turn on a wet road, can’t feel your feet or your face, or anything but the pain in your tired, cold legs that somehow keep pedaling.

I’ve heard before that bicycle road racing is all about who can suffer the most and longest. It now makes more sense. If racing is about suffering then why do it? Valid question. Krabbé says alpinists have it easy, when asked why they climb mountains and they say “because it is there,” people let them off the hook as though their reason has some deep and mystical meaning. Cyclists have no simple answer and can’t easily explain why they do what they do. It’s multiple reasons, because they can, because it is a challenge, because it is a test of will, because

after the finish all suffering turns to memories of pleasure, and the greater the suffering, the greater the pleasure. That is Nature’s payback to riders for the homage they pay her by suffering. Velvet pillows, safari parks, sunglasses: people have become woolly mice. They still have bodies that can walk for five days and four nights through a desert of snow, without food, but they accept praise for having taken a one-hour bicycle ride. ‘Good for you.’ Instead of expressing their gratitude for the rain by getting wet, people walk around with umbrellas. Nature is an old lady with few suitors these days, and those who wish to make use of her charms she rewards passionately.

He also calls suffering an art.

Doesn’t that make you want to jump on a bike and ride?

The only other book about cycling I have ever read is Lance Armstrong’s It’s Not About the Bike. I read it long before he admitted to doping when he was still an amazing cyclist with an amazing story. It was a good book as far as the story goes, the writing itself was straightforward and so-so and I am pretty sure Armstrong had help writing it. Krabbé’s book is so much better. It reads almost like a suspense novel. And it is good not just because the story is interesting but because it is well-written too.

You don’t have to be a cyclist to enjoy the book but it certainly helps. But even if you don’t ride a bike and just enjoy being a spectator the book is a lot of fun. Krabbé is Dutch. I’ll have to check if my library has any of his novels that have been translated into English and give one a try. If you know of any other good books about cycling, I’d love to hear about them, fiction or nonfiction!

Filed under: biking, Books, Memoir/Biography, Nonfiction, Reviews

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3. The SCBWI Book Launch Party!

Wanna join in a huge old book party? Sure you do, because books!

The SCBWI has put together a Book Launch Party where well over 400 books/authors are celebrating launches (of books out in 2015). There's information galore, videos, personal messages, and tons of giveaways, too. You can like the pages, click around, buy the books, and... well... celebrate kids' books in general.

Come meet me over there - I'll be the guy looking for cake!

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4. Reading Roundup: November 2015

By the Numbers
Teen: 5
Tween: 1
Children: 3

Review Copies: 4
Library: 5

Teen: All the Rage by Courtney Summers
I don't think you need me to tell you about this book. Really I don't. All I have to say is, it really is that good, that raw, that angry, that important.
Tween: None
Children: Funny Bones: Posada and his Day of the Dead calaveras by Duncan Tonatiuh
Living in the Southwest, I'm very familiar with the Dia de los Muertos calaveras, but I never knew all this about their originator. It also works as a fascinating glimpse into turn-of-the-century Mexican history, and an introduction to the idea of art as social protest. That's a lot of work for a book with 40 pages including illustrations.

Because I Want To Awards

Most ups and downs: Faceless by Alyssa B Sheinmel
How do you live life after a face transplant transforms you into a different person? Sheinmel's look at the tumultuous first year post-accident for her heroine is honest about her highs, her lows, and how things change even as she clings to her life pre-accident.
EEEE Sequel!: Sound by Alexandra Duncan
Last year's Salvage was one of my very favorite books of the year, and this companion (okay, not sequel) follows a minor character from that book through her own journey. Starting out as a lowly assistant on a research spaceship and content to be so, Miyole's world and heart open up when she meets Cassia, rescued from pirates and desperate to find her brother.

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5. You're B.A.C.K. (Blessed by an Act of Christian Kindness)

by Sally Matheny

Blessed by an Act of Christian Kindess
     Kindness breaks through barriers. One act of kindness can turn a person's day around. Just one thoughtful deed has the potential to open up a whole, new life for someone.  

     This week I'm reposting an article I wrote about this time last year. It prompted an overflowing of two-way blessings. I thought it would be beneficial to post it again.  

     There are many stories about random acts of kindness. One account is of a family waiting until their neighbors went to work. Then, they secretly placed a festive welcome mat at their front door. The children especially liked giving in secret; much like that St. Nicholas fellow did long ago.     

     Not expecting anything in return, not even recognition, keeps the giver humble, and focused on the giving.

    Kind deeds are a great way to help us concentrate on other people rather than ourselves. Children, who are constantly adding to their wish lists, are prime candidates for this type of family project.

     You can find free downloads of cards and tags on the internet to print and leave for the recipients of your random acts of kindness.  
     However, for my family's secret giving, I wanted to create a different kind of tag. I desired to add a twist of faith—something that told about the ultimate act of kindness—that of Jesus Christ. The result is a card that begins: “You’re B.A.C.K.! (Blessed by an Act of Christian Kindness). The card ends by sharing about God's greatest act of kindness and how it isn't random at all, but intentional.

Read more »

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6. Looking for Shelter

Illo from SCARLETT: STAR ON THE RUN by Susan Schade and Jon Buller, Papercutz 2015.

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7. The Case of the Missing Moonstone review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of the first in Jordan Stratford's The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency-series, The Case of the Missing Moonstone.
       A rare foray into unadulterated kids' fiction, I was curious about the premise and protagonists -- Ada Lovelace and Mary Shelley as youngsters. Of course, that pairing also proves problematic, since Stratford can only make it ... work by playing rather fast and loose with history.
       I'm not sure that stretch is worth the cost -- or does one have to be more forgiving, 'cause it's just meant for immature audiences ?

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8. Cold Water Swim

Adelie Penguins
                                                              acrylic gouache on paper
                                                                      by Joanne Friar

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9. सहिष्णु बनाम असहिष्णु

सहिष्णु बनाम असहिष्णु और मैं  असहिष्णु होते होते रह गई   टीवी पर लगातार सहिष्णु और असहिष्णु की बहस चले जा रही थी और मुझे भी बहुत गुस्सा आ रहा था.बहस देखते देखते मेरा ब्लड प्रेशर भी बढ रहा था. असल में, उस बहस को देख कर नही बल्कि बार बार घडी की सूई को […]

The post सहिष्णु बनाम असहिष्णु appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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10. Two Mice


Two Mice

Since it came out last September, Two Mice has received a lot of attention, including the inclusion in three prestigious best-books-of-the-year lists:

The Horn Book Fanfare

The Washington Post

Kirkus Reviews

And here’s what people think of the book (click on the links for the full reviews):

“There’s a lot of drama for a book about counting, but that’s not the only stunner. The world Ruzzier creates with his illustrations is so singular, so extraterrestrial that the pictures give the story a sci-fi vibe.” –The Boston Globe

“What a cute, clever way into number sense.” –The New York Times

“Expressive, mildly mischievous pen-and-ink illustrations in soft colors develop details and drama that the words leave out. (…) The book’s creative focus on pattern in plot leaves plenty of room for readers’ imaginations to play a strong role.” –The Horn Book (Starred review.)

“The simplicity of the text means that the earliest readers will soon be able to pick it up and will return to it over and over. One story. Two mice. Three cheers. Lots to love.” –Kirkus (Starred review.)

“A scintillating combination of danger and comfort.” –Publishers Weekly

“Sweetly satisfying.” —School Library Journal

“Two Mice is a brief master class in the picture book form.” –Nine Kinds of Pie

“The inventively undulating narrative structure, the sherbet-like color palette, fantastic tile floors, countless tiny visual surprises–and last but not least, the comfortingly resilient mouse friendship–make Two Mice a standout.” –Shelf Awareness

“A simple and simply lovely book. A sort-o- counting (well, one to three and back again) book and a tiny adventure story too. Absolutely charming.” –Monica Edinger

“Ruzzier’s counting book is a gem.”  –Waking Brain Cells

“Using pen and ink and watercolors, Sergio Ruzzier assures a place on the Caldecott list this year (well, I think that should happen).” –Sal’s Fiction Addiction

Two Mice is a tiny treasure waiting to be found over and over by readers.” –Librarian’s Quest

Read my interview with Julie Danielson at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast

Read my guest post on the making of the book on Elizabeth Dulemba’s blog.


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11. Wanted: Live Bloggers at #alamw16

alamw16After the holidays, in just over 5 weeks, thousands of librarians will be heading to Boston for ALA’s Midwinter Conference.


The ALA Midwinter Meeting, to be held January 8th through the 12th, brings together more than 10,000 leaders in the library and information industry for some 2,000 meetings and events.  The exhibit hall features the latest in books, videos, computers and other materials.  And, of course, a highlight of the Midwinter Conference is the announcement of the Youth Media Awards, including the Newbery and Caldecott Awards.

Are you heading to Boston for these meetings? If so, the ALSC Blog would love to have you volunteer to help those who are #leftbehind by writing short pieces telling about the people you are meeting and the meetings you are attending as well as offering information about what you are experiencing and learning. It’s easy and fun, and is a powerful tool for sharing information with other librarians. Take a look through our live blogging archives to read some of the information which has been shared from past conferences.

Sound interesting? Sound fun? Sound like something you’d like to do?  Contact Mary Voors at alscblog@gmail.com with your questions or to volunteer to liveblog from Midwinter.

The post Wanted: Live Bloggers at #alamw16 appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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12. In 1900....

Jacqueline Kelly very kindly wrote another book about Calpurnis Tate. In The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate, Callie Vee, as her six brothers and parents call her, is disappointed to find that life in the year 1900 goes on pretty much like always.  She goes on rambles with her scientist grandfather.  She makes meticulous notes in her notebook.  She is by turns bedeviled and beguiled by her brothers.  And she disappoints her mother and baffles her father almost weekly.

Almost every other chapter tells of her struggles with Travers, her wild animal loving younger brother, and his latest "find".  The armadillo is a bust.  The raccoon is fated for failure, but the coy-dog??  Really???

Then there is the hurricane of 1900 that wiped Galveston, TX, off the map.  The barometer and Callie's chance sighting of a strange bird sends Callie's grandfather to the telegraph office to send wires to the coast.  Callie has to give up her bed to a cousin she barely knows - a greedy, penny-pinching cousin who has no appreciation of nature.  That and the disappearance of Callie's gold piece add up to a recipe for high drama.

In between, Callie runs errands for the new veterinarian, learns how to type, gets even with a conniving brother and deals as well as she can with her parents' expectations for her future.

This feels like a bridge book.  I am eager to see if Callie prevails.

MEANWHILE, in San Francisco, Lizzie Kennedy hates her school, Miss Barstow's.  She'd much prefer going out on doctor's calls with her father.  She loves science but, just like Callie Vee, her obsession is considered unseemly for a young woman. 

In Chasing Secrets by Gennifer Choldenko, there are rumors that plague has broken out in Chinatown.  Lizzie's uncle, the owner of one of the biggest newspapers in town, refuses to believe the rumors without proof.  But Chinatown is quarantined and trapped inside is Lizzie's cook and friend, Jing.  Jing leaves behind a secret - a real LIVE secret.  And that secret teaches Lizzie to look at her world in a whole new way.

There are a lot of secrets in this book; secrets that endanger a whole city; secrets that hide the way people really feel; secrets about how to fit in.  Lizzie has to find Jing, learn how to be friends with people her own age, survive her first ball, and prove her worth as a nurse. 

It all happened in 1900!

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13. Edwar El Kharrat (1926-2015)

       Egyptian author Edwar El Kharrat has also passed away; see, for example, Mohammed Saad's ahramonline report.
       He's best-known for Rama and the Dragon -- see the American University in Cairo Press publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
       I have a copy of this, and I'll try to get a review up at some point.

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14. The Lion

The lion, a zoo-living fellow,
Let loose with a very loud bellow
     But after his roar
     He bellowed no more
And sat there, both regal and mellow.

The jungle was ages ago.
If he thinks of it, we just don't know
     But his roaring's the thing
     That reminds him he's king
And to us, it's all part of the show.

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15. december 1 show-and-tell

Christmas Trolls by Jan Brett

1. Christmas Trolls by Jan Brett: always our first book of the season. My younger three love it every bit as much as my older three did. I’m right there with them—the troll voices are so much fun to read aloud, and there’s a bit at the end that chokes me up every single time. Plus we have a red wooden horse exactly like the one in the book!

(Why has Amazon started slapping a copyright notice on book covers? They’re fair use.)

DEC15_lockscreen_iPhone2. I really appreciate the downloadable lock-screen calendar Inkwell Press provides for free every month. What a nice gift! I like being able to turn on my phone and see what day it is without clicking to my actual calendar. I’m lazy that way. If you sign up for their email list, Inkwell will send links to each month’s wallpaper options—lock screen, home screen background, and desktop. Pretty nifty.

3. I mentioned this on Facebook and Twitter last night, but for those who missed it: 50 Incredible Minecraft Seeds You Must Try is free on Kindle right now and it’s pretty darn cool. It includes seeds for PC, Pocket Edition, XBox, etc. My kids and I were pretty excited to explore some of the Pocket Edition maps today…there’s one with four villages squished together and another with a mountain village that looks like something out of Howling Fjord. I ran around the mountain one for a while and it was a hoot. The blacksmith shop is high up on a rocky crag above the rest of the town.

4. The Jacquie Lawson Advent Calendar! We look forward to this every year. It’s an animated Advent calendar with some new little piece of story to click on every day. I’m glad my friend Phoebe reminded me to download it today. (Costs $4.) This year’s theme is “Victorian Christmas,” which, you know, had me at hello.

5. Periscope: I’ve done about one scope a week since I started. I never know if I should post them here! You can view all my replay videos at katch.me/melissawiley, but I could upload them here on the blog, too, if it would be helpful. Actually, I suppose I ought to start posting a list of links for stuff I mention in each scope, since show-and-tell seems to be what I wind up doing every time. Okay, there’s a plan (but not for tonight). Yesterday’s was called “A quick Monday hello” and is pretty chatty. Sometimes I have a structured topic, and other times I’m just there to gab. :)


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16. Writer Wednesday: Go-To Words

Today I want to talk about go-to words. You know, those words we ALWAYS use in our manuscripts even though we know we shouldn't. When I'm editing for a client, I cut these words, change them out, or mark them to be changed by the author. The thing is, I use these words in my own writing.

I'm working on edits for my Into the Fire trilogy and my editor kindly pointed out that my characters LOVE to smile and shrug. Not together, obviously, but you get the point. When I did a search for these, I was blown away. I'm talking head to desk, wondering how book one was ever printed this way. I was embarrassed to be honest. The good thing is that I know this book is so much better now. The writing is tighter, there are added scenes, and the pace is faster.

I'm going to share some words you should look for in your own writing and then cut. Here it goes:

that (This is the word I cut the most for my editing clients.)
just (This word is a close second to "that" as far as what I cut most for clients.)
adverbs (Okay, it's not an exact word to look for, but you know what I'm talking about. Opt for specific verbs and ditch those adverbs.)
So (I'm very guilty of this one. Cut it.)
but (Nothing wrong with this word, but—see what I did there?—be mindful of how often you use the "He did this, but…" sentence structure.)
well (Another personal favorite)

Here are three others, I'll caution you about:
These are telling words. If you're using them, you are distancing your reader from the story. Let the reader experience these senses instead of being told about them.

*While this list is in the present tense, ALL tenses apply. ;)

Do you have any go-to words that aren't on my list? Feel free to share them in the comments.

**If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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17. Natalia Tena on ‘Harry Potter’, ‘Game of Thrones’ and Molotov Jukebox

Yesterday, Herald Scotland released an interview with Natalia Tena, discussing Tena’s role as front woman of the band Molotov Jukebox, and her role as Tonks in Harry Potter and Osha in Game of Thrones.

In the run-up to the release of their second album (‘Tropical Gypsy’), Tena’s band (for which she sings and plays accordion) are playing a series of exclusive UK shows, and Tena talks about her choice of King Tut’s for their Glasglow venue tonight (1st December):

“King Tut’s has such a heavy historical musical pedigree that it’s a real honour to be part of it,” Tena says. “Everyone on the circuit has stories and fond memories of playing there. Its reputation is such that even down here in London the name carries some serious weight.

“We had an amazing time when we played there in 2013. It seems to really epitomise the warmth and fun of the city as a whole. I hope we can get the fans dancing and smiling as much as we did last time.”

On the development of the band:

‘”Over the years that we have been playing and developing our own idiosyncratic sound, we have used a variety of different labels to try and sum it up, all of which have been somehow unsatisfactory”, she says.

“We feel that with this one we have finally hit the nail on the head. It’s Latin/Balkan fusion with London roots.

“What really gets our juices flowing is that beautiful dichotomy, which is prevalent in both Eastern European and Latin musical cultures, of dark, real emotional content in lyrics, something that is sadly lacking in a lot of current pop music, alongside music that drives your feet on the dance floor into a frenzy. It’s this feeling, reinterpreted through a London mindset.

“It is essentially sticking two musical fingers up at the hardships of life, and the cherry on top of that, death itself.”‘

‘The new record has been inspired by the band’s travels and desire to showcase their musical heritage, passions and trademark sound.’


On whether she will be returning to her role as ‘Osha’ in the sixth season of Game of Thrones:

‘”I can’t tell you about that I’m afraid, sworn to secrecy. Anyway, no-one wants to spoil a good surprise!”, Tena says.

“When it comes to the show, what is one of its greatest strengths is that you never know what could happen next. I cannot wait to see the next season and read the next book.”‘

Tena also spoke about the influence of Harry Potter and Game of Thrones on her own life, and on her band’s success:

‘”It has opened doors that would have been closed to me and brought such exciting projects and adventures to my doorstep, not to mention the incredible fans that have found our music through it”, she says.

“I feel bl**dy humbled and honoured.”‘

Read the full interview here!

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18. Q & A: Ivan Vladislavić

       At 3:AM Tristan Foster has a more limited Q & A -- eight questions -- with Ivan Vladislavić.

       There are half a dozen Vladislavić titles under review at the complete review, most recently of his debut, The Folly.

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19. Christmas 2015

My holiday stamps this year -

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20. Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye (1928-2015)

       British-born Kenyan author Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye has reportedly passed away.
       Feminist Press did bring out two of her books in the US -- see their publicity page -- and even The New York Times Book Review reviewed Coming to Birth, but she doesn't seem to have achieved the recognition abroad she deserves for her central place in modern Kenyan literature.
       Get your copy of Coming to Birth from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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21. Thunder and Lightning/Lauren Redniss: reflections

Not long ago, my husband and I escaped to Frenchtown, NJ. I taught memoir on a Sunday, then spoke, the next day, to an assembly of high school students. My husband walked the banks of the Delaware and found, he said, great peace. Quietude. The occasional passerby. Fish that seemed to come when called.

Peace. I search for it, too. Shield myself from incipient interruptions, step away from active unkindness, shrink from noise, read deep into the news with a hope for understanding.

And, always, books. Over the last few days, during a storm of work, I've reached repeatedly for Lauren Redniss's glorious Thunder and Lightning: Weather Past, Present, Future—an illustrated (Adam Gopnik rightly calls it illuminated) collage of odd facts, hard science, and Redniss's signature way of seeing.

This is a book so unto itself that it comes to its readers utterly undefended. No introduction. A simmering table of contents. Facts lassoed from a multitude of unexpected sources. We meet the managers of a cemetery who are left with the sweep of dislocated bones, post storm. The secret keepers of the Farmers Almanac. A company called Planalytics, which is apparently right down the road from me and is designed to help companies plan for weather incursions, the spiking needs wrought by heat and hurricane. Weaponized weather experts. The inventors of cloudbusters. The mad-scientist brain of Nathan Myhrvold (now at work on, among other things, solar radiation management), the long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad (who is popping up in many things I've read lately), and the seeds that burst to life every eight years ago in the desert.

What binds it all is erudition, curiosity, and appetite for the alluringly strange. What makes it so peaceful to hold, to sit with, to ponder is how much it teaches through story, ink saturation, and hieroglyphics.

We see so many books that are "just like" books—books that are, indeed, marketed that way. Peace, though, is the original mind set free. I'll wake at 4 AM for this. I'll read it by a lamp in the lonesome dark.

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22. Demonstration Writing: Sometimes They Need To See “Writing Thinking”

Making my writing thinking visible to my students has given them another tool to “get unstuck”...

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23. Best of Short Fiction and Essays

A genre I always enjoy and wish I'd read more of at the end of each year.  It's really inexcusable how few of my Best American collection I've gone through.  That said, I do, of course, have some great choices from this year's reading.  I'll start with short fiction:

And some essays (and one book of poetry)

Did you read any amazing short story or essay collections (or poetry) in 2015?

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24. Q & A: Gabriel Josipovici

       There's an interesting in-depth Q & A with Gabriel Josipovici by Victoria Best at Numéro Cinq.

       The only Josipovici title under review at the complete review is of What Ever Happened to Modernism ?

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The fBooks SCBWI Book Launch party begins today! 
Have a look and leave a like or a note! 


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