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1. MMGM: AFTER THE BOOK DEAL w/ Jonathan Auxier (plus the 4/21/14 links!)

Don't go into shock--but I actually have a proper post this week. A really good one, too. PROBABLY because I didn't write it. But hey, I had to be organized enough to get it all assembled and posted for you, so... it's progress, right?????

All kidding aside, I'm SO excited to share this most from the amazing Jonathan Auxier with you guys. Partially because he's super flippin' smart in it. But mostly because I'm a huge fan of his books, so it's always fun when I get to support them.

And so, without further ado, I give you: AFTER THE BOOK DEAL, by Jonathan Auxier:

The Internet is full of great advice about how to sell a book, but what about after the sale? When my first book came out, I found it was surprisingly hard to find answers to some basic questions. Like most authors, I learned most of the answers through trial and error. And so in anticipation of the launch of my new novel, The Night Gardener, I’ve decided to write down everything I learned so I don’t make the same mistakes twice!

AFTER THE BOOK DEAL is a month-long blog series detailing the twenty things I wish someone had told me before entering the exciting world of children’s publishing. Each weekday from now until MAY 20, I will be posting an article on a different blog. Follow along and please spread the word!


DAY ONE - Finding Your Tribe

Publishing is a slow process—usually taking more than a year between sale and publication. For a new author, desperate to see their book on a shelf, it can be an agonizing wait. But this delay is a good thing, because you need that time to prepare! This first week, I’ll be talking about the five things you need to do in the months before your book comes out.

The first thing any new author should do—and they should start as soon as possible—is find a community of friends within the book world. This can be easier said than done.

Right after selling Peter Nimble, I dedicated myself to learning all about the kidlit/YA community. I spent months reading every klidlit blog and website I could. The goal was simple: find my tribe. Even in a market as small as ours, there is a lot of diversity—some people love paranormal romance, some want to talk about education, some want to talk about public libraries, and some want to discuss old books (that would be me!). The more widely I read, the more I was able to determine which authors/bloggers/teachers/librarians shared my own interests and passion.

Your goal is not to determine a “target audience” or anything so cynical. Think of yourself as a new kid in school, scoping out the yard during recess, looking for friends. That last word is key: these people will be your friends. So look for people that you actually like and whose opinions and interests you respect.

So how do you turn these strangers into friends? Reaching out to virtual strangers can be daunting. The trick lies in nine simple words:

“Can I buy you lunch and pick your brain?”

The best way to learn about the industry is to talk to people who are in the industry. And the best way to talk to these people is to spend time with them in person and learn about their lives. When I entered the world of children’s publishing, I did just this. After meeting a few authors/bloggers/librarians who I admired, I made a point to seeking them out. If you’re not in the same city, then you’ll probably have to meet up with people at conferences and book festivals (which I’ll be discussing in week two!).

Please note that this is not about pitching your book. Your book shouldn’t even come up. This is about learning from people you like and respect. Just be a curious, courteous person who shares similar interests. Remember the kid in the schoolyard: you’re just trying to make friends, not win votes for class president.

I should mention that many of these librarians/bloggers/authors are likely too busy to sit down with complete strangers—that’s where being an avid reader of (and commenter on) blogs helps. If I want to meet someone who isn’t a blogger, my rule of thumb is first to make sure that I have at least two mutual acquaintances before reaching out. And once I’ve sat down with a person and had a good chat, I always end the conversation with the same question:

"Who would you recommend that I talk to next?"

This is a fairly painless way for a new friend to help you—it takes almost no time and gives you a reason to keep in touch with them. Hopefully, over the course of several months, you will build friendships that will live way beyond your book launch. Assuming you’re serious about being an author, this is a community you will share for the rest of your life.

That’s it for BEFORE THE BOOK DEAL! Tomorrow, I’ll be visiting the Novel Novice to discuss the tricky business of building a “public identity” that actually reflects who you are! Swing by and spread the word!

JONATHAN AUXIER writes strange stories for strange children. His new novel, The Night Gardener, hits bookstores this May. You can visit him online at www.TheScop.com where he blogs about children's books old and new.


See why I'm a huge fan of this guy? Such great advice. Thanks so much for sharing it with us, Jonathan. 

And don't forget to check out these other MMGMs happening throughout the blogosphere:

- Michelle Mason is cheering for PARTNERS IN CRIME--with a GIVEAWAY! Click HERE for details.  
- Barbara Watson is gushing about WHAT THE MOON SAID, with an ARC GIVEAWAY! Click HERE for all the fun.  
- Mark Baker is spreading love for POACHED. Click HERE to read his feature! 
- Katie Fitzgerald is feeling TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. Click HERE to see what she thought.
- Andrea Mack is drawn to THE AWESOME ALMOST 100% TRUE ADVENTURES OF MATT & CRAZ. Click HERE to see why. 
- Susan Olson is on the edge of her seat for THE WELLS BEQUEST. Click HERE to see why. 
- Rosi Hollinbeck is reviewing--AND GIVING AWAY--ICE DOGS. Click HERE for details.
- Rcubed is highlighting THE ILLUMINATED ADVENTURES OF FLORA & ULYSSES. Click HERE to see why. 
- Sue Heavenrich has some earth day reading for you with LAST BUT NOT LEAST: LOLA GOING GREEN. Click HERE to learn more.
- Greg Pattridge wants you to TURN LEFT AT THE COW. Click HERE to see why.
- Daniel Johnston is giving a shoutout to FRINDLE. Click HERE to see his feature 
- Suzanne Warr has chills for ODIN'S PROMISE. Click HERE to see why.
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.  
- The Mundie Moms are always part of the MMGM fun (YAY!). Click HERE to see their newest recommendations. And if you aren't also following their Mundie Kids site, get thee over THERE and check out all the awesome! 
- The lovely Shannon O'Donnell always has an MMGM ready for you! Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time!
- Jennifer Rumberger always has an awesome MMGM feature on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.    
- Pam Torres always has an MMGM up on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's spotlighting this week.
- Deb Marshall is a MMGM regular. Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.

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

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

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

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

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2. The contours and conceptual position of jus post bellum

By Carsten Stahn, Jennifer S. Easterday, and Jens Iverson

In our previous post, “Jus post bellum and the ethics of peace,” we introduced the concept of jus post bellum, including its history, functions, and varied definitions. Because jus post bellum can operate simultaneously with related but distinguishable concepts, it is important to keep the goals of related concepts clear. Jus post bellum may serve a particular function in facilitating choice among competing interests in the transition from armed conflict to peace.

Relationship to related concepts

Jus post bellum overlaps with Responsibility to Protect (R2P), Transitional Justice, and the law of peace. It is sometimes even argued that it forms part of these concepts, but there are differences.

The concept of transitional justice emerged in the context of the post-democratic transitions of the 1990s. Traditionally, it has a different focus than jus post bellum. It is geared towards accountability for past violations and the establishment of new political order that would prevent human rights violations from re-occurring. Jus post bellum is not a ‘human rights’ or ‘justice’ project per se. It is geared at peacebuilding more broadly, focusing on the organization of the interplay between actors, norms, and institutions in situations of transitions, and the establishment of sustainable peace.

Jus post bellum is also distinct from Responsibility to Protect. R2P was developed to provide authority for protective duties and response schemes, through a definition of sovereignty as responsibility. Its application is linked to atrocity crimes. This trigger has oriented the concept towards prevention and response to conflict. Ethics of care in the aftermath of conflict have been side-lined in its operation. Jus post bellum is tied to the ending of hostilities. It entails certain due diligence obligations towards intervention, but is mostly focused on the organization of post-conflict peace. It includes negative obligations (i.e. ‘do no harm’ principle) and positive duties. In some cases, conduct may be warranted by R2P (e.g. continued international presence), but sanctioned under jus post bellum, i.e. due to lack of consent (e.g. unlawful occupation).

Monrovia, Liberia - 24 February 2012: The abandoned Ministry of Defence building stands empty and ruined, a reminder of the civil war here not so long ago. © MickyWiswedel via iStockphoto.

Monrovia, Liberia – 24 February 2012: The abandoned Ministry of Defence building stands empty and ruined, a reminder of the civil war here not so long ago. © MickyWiswedel via iStockphoto.


In just war theory, some attempts have been made to define the ideal content of a jus post bellum. Areas included in this checklist are:

  • Disarmament, Demilitarization, Re-integration (DDR)
  • Compensation
  • Punishment
  • Constitutional reform
  • Economic reconstruction

This ‘toolbox’ logic deserves critical scrutiny. These factors are typically tied to international armed conflicts, rather than dilemmas of internal armed conflicts, or mixed conflicts. More fundamentally, there is an inherent danger that jus post bellum might be used to tell what a ‘just society’ ought to look like.

An alternative way to think about content is to view jus post bellum as a mechanism to facilitate choice among competing interests. The concept provides an incentive to integrate the goal of sustainable peace into decision-making processes requiring a balancing of conflicting rationales. For example, this is relevant to peace arrangements, processes of governance, and redress for victims. How should ‘consent’ used in peace negotiation and peacebuilding efforts, and how inclusive should it be? What factors should be taken into account in the restoration of public authority and democratic rule? How can judicial reform be reconciled with ‘vetting’ of institutions? To what extent is there an adequate equilibrium between protection of fundamental freedoms and socio-economic rights in post-conflict settlements? Is damage repaired in a way that that addresses harm and needs of post-conflict societies?

Such choices require a certain ‘margin of appreciation’. In some areas, a deviation from peacetime standards may be acceptable. Classical examples are collective reparation, the focus on targeted accountability, or conditional amnesties.

Jus post bellum may also offer some guidance for specific procedures. One example is the permissibility of derogation from human rights, including their justification and declaration. Existing principles have been applied primarily in the context of human rights obligations of States. In the context of jus post bellum, such principles become relevant in relation to other entities, such as regional organizations, peace operations, or the Security Council.

Another example is ‘sequencing’ and coordination of the temporal application of specific responses. Under a ‘justice after war’ perspective, classical dilemmas of peace v. justice are at forefront of attention. In the context of peacebuilding, sequencing gains broader importance in additional areas, such as the timing of elections or the determination of status issues. Jus post bellum may further determine parameters for ‘exit’ after intervention.

The fundamental problems of minimizing the evils of war and building a robust peace are not new, but they are often treated as new. Too often, contemporary peacebuilding difficulties are treated as essentially unprecedented, when in fact legal history could serve as a valuable aide. A key thesis of jus post bellum is that the rich legal and philosophical traditions that guide the law of armed conflict and the general prohibition on the use of force could also inform the transition from war to peace. Unfortunately, these traditions are too often ignored. Rather than being depreciated or held sacred, those traditions must be refreshed and revisited if they are to be applied meaningfully to contemporary problems. We could extend the dualistic approach of jus ad bellum and jus in bello to a tripartite conception that includes jus post bellum. Such a conception would cover the entire process of entering into armed conflict, fighting, and exiting from armed conflict. This more comprehensive approach would improve our capacity to manage the enduring difficulties inherent in ending war and building peace. Jus post bellum does not offer the promise of a more comprehensive approach on its own, but only in combination with other, related concepts. Together, however, they offer the promise of transitions to peace that are both more just and more secure.

Carsten Stahn, Jennifer S. Easterday, and Jens Iverson are the editors of Jus Post Bellum: Mapping the Normative Foundations. Carsten Stahn is Professor of International Criminal Law and Global Justice and Programme Director of the Grotius Centre for International Studies, Universiteit Leiden. Jennifer S. Easterday is a Ph.D Researcher, Faculteit Rechtsgeleerdheid, Instituut voor Publiekrecht, Internationaal Publiekrecht, Universiteit Leiden. Jens Iverson is a Researcher for the ‘Jus Post Bellum’ project and an attorney specializing in public international law, Universiteit Leiden.

Oxford University Press is a leading publisher in international law, including the Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, latest titles from thought leaders in the field, and a wide range of law journals and online products. We publish original works across key areas of study, from humanitarian to international economic to environmental law, developing outstanding resources to support students, scholars, and practitioners worldwide. For the latest news, commentary, and insights follow the International Law team on Twitter @OUPIntLaw.

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3. Just One Year: Review Haiku

Oh, Willem -- you're like
a Manic Pixie Dream Boy
in five languages.

Just One Year by Gayle Forman. Dutton, 2014, 352 pages.

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4. A religion reading list from Oxford World’s Classics

By Kirsty Doole

Religion has provided the world with some of the most influential and important written works ever known. Here is a reading list made up of just a small selection of the texts we carry in the series, covering religions across the globe.

The Ecclesiastical History of the English People – Bede

Bede’s most famous work was finished in 731, and deals with the history of Christianity in England, most notably, the tension between Roman and Celtic forms of Christianity. It is one of the most important texts in English history. As well as providing the authoritative Colgrave translation of the Ecclesiastical History, the Oxford World’s Classics edition includes a translation of the Greater Chronicle, in which Bede discusses the Roman Empire. Meanwhile, Bede’s Letter to Egbert gives further reflections on the English Church just before his death.

The Varieties of Religious Experience – William James

This work is William (brother of Henry) James’s classic survey of religious belief in its most personal aspects. Covering such topics as how we define evil to ourselves, the difference between a healthy and a divided mind, the value of saintly behaviour, and what animates and characterizes the mental landscape of sudden conversion, The Varieties of Religious Experience is a key text examining the relationship between belief and culture. At the time James wrote it, faith in organized religion and dogmatic theology was fading away, and the search for an authentic religion rooted in personality and subjectivity was something deemed an urgent necessity. With psychological insight, philosophical rigour, and a determination not to jump to the conclusion that in tracing religion’s mental causes we necessarily diminish its truth or value, in the Varieties James wrote a truly foundational text for modern belief.

Saint Augustine of Hippo On Christian Teaching – Saint Augustine

This is one of Saint Augustine’s most important works on the classical tradition. Written to enable students to have the skills to interpret the Bible, it provides an outline of Christian theology. It also contains a detailed discussion of moral problems. Further to that, Augustine attempts to determine what elements of classical education are desirable for a Christian, and suggests ways in which Ciceronian rhetorical principles may help in communicating faith.

The Book of Common Prayer

Along with the King James Bible, the words of the Book of Common Prayer have permeated deep into the English language all over the worldFor countless people, it has provided the framework for  a wedding ceremony or a funeral. Yet this familiarity also hides a violent and controversial history. When it was first written, the Book of Common Prayer provoked riots, and it was banned before eventually being translated into a host of global languages. This edition presents the work in three different states: the first edition of 1549, which brought the Reformation into people’s homes; the Elizabethan prayer book of 1559, familiar to Shakespeare and Milton; and the edition of 1662, which embodies the religious temper of the nation down to modern times.

The Qur’an

The Qur’an, the Muslim Holy Book, was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad over 1400 year ago. It is the supreme authority in Islam and the source of all Islamic teaching; it is both a sacred text and a book of guidance, that sets out the creed, rituals, ethics, and laws of Islam. The greatest literary masterpiece in Arabic, the message of the Qur’an was directly addressed to all people regardless of class, gender, or age, and this translation aims to be equally accessible to everyone.

Natural Theology – William Paley

Natural Theology is arguably as central to those who believe in Intelligent Design as Darwin’s Origin of Species is to those who come down on the side of evolutionary theory. In it, William Paley set out to prove the existence of God from the evidence of the order and beauty of the natural world. It famously starts by comparing our world to a watch, whose design is self-evident, before going on to provide examples from biology, anatomy, and astronomy in order to demonstrate the intricacy and ingenuity of design that could only come from a wise and benevolent deity. Paley’s work was both hugely successful, and extremely controversial, and Charles Darwin was greatly influenced by the book’s accessible style and structure.

The Bhagavad Gita

‘I have heard the supreme mystery, yoga, from Krishna, from the lord of yoga himself.’

So ends the Bhagavad Gita, the best known and most widely read Hindu religious text in the Western world. It is the most famous episode from the great Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata. Across eighteen chapters Krishna’s teaching leads the warrior Arjuna from confusion to understanding, raising and developing many key themes from the history of Indian religions in the process.

It considers religious and social duty, the nature of action and of sacrifice, the means to liberation, and the relationship between God and human. It culminates in an awe-inspiring vision of Krishna as an omnipotent God, disposer and destroyer of the universe.

Kirsty Doole is Publicity Manager for Oxford World’s Classics.

For over 100 years Oxford World’s Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford’s commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more. You can follow Oxford World’s Classics on Twitter, Facebook, or here on the OUPblog. Subscribe to only Oxford World’s Classics articles on the OUPblog via email or RSS.

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Image credit: Saint Augustine of Hippo. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

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5. Circa 1915

tina& Carol.jpg

My great grandmother Julia's two sisters, Ernestine (Tina) on left and Carolina (Carol) on right. This was taken about 1915 when Carol was 15 and Tina 20.

The two girls (and a third sister, Marie) shared a mother with my great grandmother but she had a different (and unknown) father. By all accounts Julia was fairly close with her younger half siblings however, and my mother can recall visiting her great aunts in the 1950s.

I am still working on the lives of these women. I know that they married and had children but I believe Tina's daughter (and grandson) died of diphtheria in the early 1930s and I have seen allusions to Carol losing a child (a son) as well. There are still, so many things I do not know about my family.

But still - look at them here. This picture was made into a postcard and taken, from the stamp on the back, at Schaffers Studio on the Boardwalk in Midland Beach, Staten Island. These historic postcards from the beach really make it look quite charming; I'm glad the girls had such a good time.

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6. Hove on 'the day Zimbabwe became independent'

       In the Mail & Guardian 'Chenjerai Hove reminisces about what April 18 1980 meant for him', in Free at last: The day Zimbabwe became independent.
       The obscenity that was Rhodesia is certainly not missed; still, one wishes a bit more of the promise had been realized by now.

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7. Putin in the mirror of history: Crimea, Russia, empire

By Mark D. Steinberg

Contrary to those who believe that Vladimir Putin’s political world is a Machiavellian one of cynical “masks and poses, colorful but empty, with little at its core but power for power’s sake and the accumulation of vast wealth,” Putin often speaks quite openly of his motives and values—and opinion polls suggest he is strongly in sync with widespread popular sentiments. A good illustration is his impassioned speech on 18 March to a joint session of the Russian parliament about Crimea’s secession and union with Russia (an English translation is also available on the Kremlin’s website). The history of Russia as a nation and an empire are key themes:

“In Crimea, literally everything is imbued with our common history and pride. Here is ancient Chersonesus, where the holy Prince Vladimir was baptized. His spiritual feat of turning to Orthodoxy predetermined the shared cultural, moral, and civilizational foundation that unites the peoples of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. In Crimea are the graves of Russian soldiers, whose bravery brought Crimea in 1783 under Russian rule. Crimea is also Sevastopol, a city of legends and of great destinies, a fortress city, and birthplace of the Russian Black Sea fleet. Crimea is Balaklava and Kerch, Malakhov Kurgan and Sapun Ridge [major battle sites during the Crimean War and World War II]. Each one of these places is sacred for us, symbols of Russian military glory and unprecedented valor.”

No less revealing is his reflection on the relationships uniting the diverse peoples of Russia.

“Crimea is a unique fusion of the cultures and traditions of various peoples. In this, it resembles Russia as a whole, where over the centuries not a single ethnic group has disappeared. Russians and Ukrainians, Crimean Tatars, and representatives of other nationalities have lived and worked side by side in Crimea, each retaining their own distinct identity, tradition, language, and faith.”

How Russians have often understood their history as an “empire” (though the word is no longer favored) pervades these words and Putin’s thinking.

Try to figure out Putin’s mind—getting “a sense of his soul,” as George W. Bush famously thought he had seen after meeting Putin in 2001—has long been a political preoccupation, and has become especially urgent since the events in Crimea in March. Until now, most commentators viewed Putin as a rational and potentially constructive “partner” in international affairs. Even the growing crackdown on civil society and dissidence, though much criticized, did not undermine this belief. Russia’s annexation of Crimea shattered this confidence. German chancellor Angela Merkel declared that Putin seemed to be living “in another world.” Influential commentators in the United States declared that these events unmasked the real Putin, destroying any “illusions” that might have remained (Obama’s former national security advisor, Tom Donilon), revealing a revanchist desire “to re-establish Russian hegemony within the space of the former Soviet Union” (former US ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton) by a “cynical,” power-hungry, “neo-Soviet” despot seeking to reclaim “the Soviet/Russian empire” (Matthew Kaminski of the Wall Street Journal). A less radical reassessment, but with roughly the same conclusion, is President Obama’s argument that Putin “wants to, in some fashion, reverse…or make up for” the “loss of the Soviet Union.” In this light, the key question becomes “how to stop Putin?”


History haunts arguments about what Putin thinks, how much further he might go, and what should be done. Some commentators focus on how Putin sees himself in history. The Republican chairman of the US House of Representative’s Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers, told Meet the Press that “Mr. Putin…goes to bed at night thinking of Peter the Great and he wakes up thinking of Stalin.” The logical conclusion is that if we do not stop Putin “he is going to continue to take territory to fulfill what he believes is rightfully Russia.” Others think of historical analogies. The former US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, for example, writing in the Washington Post, described Putin as “a partially comical imitation of Mussolini and a more menacing reminder of Hitler,” making the Crimea annexation, if West does not act, “similar to the two phases of Hitler’s seizure of the Sudetenland after Munich in 1938 and the final occupation of Prague and Czechoslovakia in early 1939.” Echoing these interpretations are scores of satirical images of Putin as Stalin and Hitler that have appeared at demonstrations and in social media (images of Putin as Peter the Great, more common once, are seen as too flattering now).

Putin himself has a lot to say about history in his 18 March 2014 speech. He points, as he often has, to the recent history of humiliation and insults suffered by Russia at the hands of “our western partners” who treat Russia not as “an independent, active participant in international affairs,” with “its own national interests that need to be taken into account and respected,” but as a backward or dangerous nation to dismiss and “contain.” Worse, the Western powers seem to believe in their own “chosenness and exceptionalism, that they can decide the fate of the world, that they alone are always right.” Rulers since Peter the Great have been fighting for Russia to be respected and included, and generally along the same two fronts: proving that Russia deserves equal membership in the community of “civilized” nations through modernizing and Europeanizing reforms, and winning recognition through demonstrations of political and military might, “glory and valor” (in Putin’s phrase). That Russia was famously disgraced during the original Crimean War, revealing levels of economic and military backwardness that inspired a massive program of reform, and that Western commentators now are expressing surprised admiration at the advances in technique and command seen among the Russian army since it was last seen in the field in Georgia, is not only surely gratifying to Putin (who has made military modernization a priority) but part of an important story about nation and history.

Putin also has a lot to say about empire. In the nineteenth century, a theme in Russian thinking about empire was that Russians rule the diversity of its peoples not with self-interest and greed, like European colonialists, but with true Christian love, bringing their subjects “happiness and abundance,” in Michael Pogodin’s words. As Nicholas Danilevsky put it in 1871, Russia’s empire was “not built on the bones of trampled nations.” The Soviet version of this imperial utopianism was the famous “friendship of peoples” (druzhba narodov) of the USSR. Putin, we see, echoes this ideal. He also directs it against ethnic nationalisms that suppress minorities (above all, Russian speakers in Ukraine). Hence his warnings about the role of “nationalists, neo-Nazis, Russophobes, and anti-Semites” in the Ukrainian revolution, and his declaration that Crimea under Russian rule would have “three equal state languages: Russian, Ukrainian, and Crimean Tatar,” in deliberate contrast to the decree of the post-Yanukovych Ukrainian parliament that Ukrainian would be the only official language of the country (later repealed).

Of course, the Russian empire and the Soviet Union were not harmonious multicultural paradises, nor is the Russian Federation, but the ideal is still an influence in Russian thinking and policy. At the same time, Putin contradicts this simple vision in worrisome ways. A good example is how he wavers in his March speech between defining Ukrainians as a separate “people” (narod, which also means “nation”) or as part of a larger Russian nation. Until the twentieth century, very few Russians believed that Ukrainians were a nation with their own history and language, and many still question this. Putin works both sides of this argument. On the one hand, he expresses great respect for the “fraternal Ukrainian people [narod],” their “national feelings,” and “the territorial integrity of the Ukrainian state.” On the other hand, he argues that what has been happening in Ukraine “pains our hearts” because “we are not simply close neighbors but, as I have said many times already, we are truly one people [narod]. Kiev is the mother of Russian [russkie] cities. Ancient Rus is our common source and we cannot live without each other.”

Putin’s frequent use of the ethno-national term russkii for “Russian,” rather than the more political term rossiiskii, which includes everyone and anything under the Russian state, is important. Even more ominous are Putin’s suggestions about where such an understanding of history should lead. Reminding “Europeans, and especially Germans,” about how Russia “unequivocally supported the sincere, inexorable aspirations of the Germans for national unity,” he expects the West to “support the aspirations of the Russian [russkii] world, of historical Russia, to restore unity.” This suggests a vision, shaped by views of history, that goes beyond protecting minority Russian speakers in the “near-abroad.”

Putinism often tries to blend contradictory ideals—freedom and order, individual rights and the needs of state, multiethnic diversity and national unity. Dismissing these complexities as cynical masks does not help us develop reasoned responses to Putin. Most important, it does not help people in Russia working for greater freedom, rights, and justice, who are marginalized (and often repressed) when Russia feels under siege. “We have every reason to argue,” he warned in his March speech, “that the infamous policy of containing Russia, which was pursued in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, continues today. They are constantly trying to sweep us into a corner.” Of course, Putin is not wrong to speak of Western arrogance toward Russia (though he is hardly a model of respect for international norms) nor to warn of the dangers of intolerant ethnic nationalism (though he looks the other way at Russia’s own “nationalists, neo-Nazis, and anti-Semites”). That he can be hypocritical and cynical does not mean his thinking and feelings are “empty,” much less that he has lost touch with reality or with the views of most Russians.

A version of this article originally appeared on HNN.

Mark D. Steinberg is Professor of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is the author or editor of books on Russian popular culture, working-class poetry, the 1917 revolution, religion, and emotions. His most recent books are Petersburg Fin-de-Siecle (Yale University Press, 2011) and the eighth edition of A History of Russia, with the late Nicholas Riasanovsky, published by Oxford University Press in 2010. He is currently writing a history of the Russian Revolution.

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Image credit: Vienna, Austria – March 30, 2014: A sign made up of a photo composite of Vladimir Putin and Hitler looms over protesters who have gathered in the main square in Vienna to protest Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. © benstevens via iStockphoto.

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8. Spotlight and Giveaway–Edge April Releases!

Edge, a digital-first single-title romance line from Entangled Publishing, takes its lead from their popular Select imprint but gives its novels an edge in the marketplace by bringing great stories to readers at reasonable prices in a quick-and-easy way. Whether sexy or sweet, traditional romance or love and lust with a women’s fiction bent, at the center of every Edge book is heart. From Urban Fantasy to Contemporary Romance to Science Fiction Romance, Edge has a book for all romance readers—and right at their fingertips! As they say, all’s fair in love and war. To find out more about their titles, chat with authors, participate in special events, and to find out what books are coming next, visit the Entangled website, follow them on Twitter, and like their Facebook page.

Today I’m happy to be featuring Edge’s April 21st releases!!

A Shot of Red by Tracy March

Special $0.99 Introductory Price!

Find Out More!

When biotech company heiress Mia Moncure learns her ex-boyfriend, the company’s PR Director, has died in a suspicious accident in Switzerland, Mia suspects murder. Determined to reveal a killer, she turns to sexy Gio Lorenzo, Communications Director for her mother, a high-ranking senator—and the recent one-night stand Mia has been desperate to escape. While negotiating their rocky relationship, they race to uncover a deadly scheme that could ruin her family’s reputation. But millions of people are being vaccinated, and there’s more than her family’s legacy at stake.

Undying Desire by Jessica Lee
Enclave #3

Special $0.99 Introductory Pricing!

Find Out More!

Eve Devonshire is a woman hiding in plain sight. Not completely human, but not quite a vampire, she’s accepted by neither race but is more powerful than both. To stay alive, Eve can’t trust anyone, including the alpha vampire with midnight eyes and a thirst for pain and submission. With her enemies nipping at her heels, Eve has Guerin cornered, and both are determined to get the answers they’re looking for or die trying… if they can fight their desires long enough.

The Perfect Hostage by Misty Evans

Special $0.99 Introductory Pricing!

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Sergeant John Quick has seen the worst in life, both personally and professionally, and long ago decided loving someone comes at too high a price. But when the woman of his dreams “kidnaps” him for a weekend affair with no strings attached, he can’t resist. The smoking-hot weekend turns deadly when John and Lucie are trapped during a blizzard and discover they’re not alone. Someone from their past has come hunting for revenge. Now John must become the perfect hostage in order to save Lucie’s life.

Untamed Hearts by Heather McCollum
Special $0.99 Introductory Pricing!

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Jonet Montgomery has longed for a chivalrous knight her whole young life. Instead she found herself wed to a scoundrel and left a widow. When a lusty, silver-tongued rogue steals a kiss and opens a crack in her routine life, she’s tempted by his offer to taste adventure of the most pleasurable kind. Will’s heart of gold shines through despite his infamous past. But is Jonet enough woman to keep this sexy pirate from straying? With past embarrassments haunting her, she risks more than just her reputation this time. She risks her heart.


The post Spotlight and Giveaway–Edge April Releases! appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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9. Teaching difficult novels

greatliterature 243x300 Teaching difficult novelsIdeally, students would stop judging books by their covers and at least try to read what they are given.  Yet more often than not, I am faced with the question, “How do I get students to love the amazing books I love, or at least tolerate the books we are assigned since they’re the only remaining ones in a full class set?”

Here’s how I handle this situation.

Well, first things first.  I make sure students can read the book. Only when my students are able to fluently read the book (meaning the student does not have to look up more than 3 or 4 vocabulary words per page and can relate to you the basic plot after an individual reading) will they be able to take that comprehension into the next level of questioning and analysis. Granted, this happens most often with classics published for adults, but it can happen with trade books for children as well.

If the administration says, “Phooey to your research-based suggestion! Teach this work of literature — it will challenge the students to rise!” Then, I work to create two or three clear, attainable objectives for the book.

My students are not only 8th graders, but all of them come from a different language background and a little under 50% are still English Language Learners.  I am not denying my students’ tenacity, but I also don’t want to set them up for defeat.

So, in order to tackle this beast, I focus on just three goals.  I want students to (1) know and connect with the basic plot, (2) use the story to apply their skills to a specific element of literature, and (3) identify and connect story elements to whichever major themes I have for that book.

I know it feels oversimplified, but with these three goals, I am able to prune the extraneous.  With stronger readers, I can assign deeper prompts connected to my three goals and with weaker readers, I can create cloze exercises [link to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloze_test], chapter summaries, and other supports to scaffold their mastery of these three goals.  Anything outside these goals, I nix!  Sure, I would love to hit every theme, motif, character motivation, and symbol in these novels — I’m a lit major!  Yet, for my eighth graders, I know that the best way to have lasting impact — to get pieces to stick to their ribs — is not to spread the story shallow, but to give them tools to dig deep.

Some would argue that I am not doing the book justice, and I admit that it is a risk.  Yet I am hoping that by creating manageable objectives for my students now, they will not be turned off by the books that they most likely will reencounter in their future education.

So now tell us, how do all of you handle this situation?

share save 171 16 Teaching difficult novels

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10. In the Limelight with Children’s Author David Chuka…

I want to thank and welcome good friend and wonderful children’s author, David Chuka for sharing his personal writing journey with us on my blog today. David’s series The Fartastic Adventures of Billy and Monster and his other non-fiction books can be purchased from Amazon.

So let’s get this interview rolling! How long have you been writing, David?

As a children’s book author, I’ve been actively writing for the last two years. I’ve been writing non-fiction stuff longer than that.

Only two years? Quite prolific, I might say! Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write The Fartastic Adventures of Billy and Monster series?

The idea for the first book in the series came early one morning on Boxing Day 2012. The entire house was quiet and instead of lying in bed counting imaginary sheep, I crawled out of bed, grabbed my pen and pad and went to the kitchen. With an empty page staring at me, I began to imagine this little boy who’s an only child and creates this Monster character to serve as a brother and friend. They do everything together and have loads of fun. There’s just one problem. Monster farts a lot and everyone blames Billy for it. I completed the first draft in about 90 minutes. With the good reviews that accompanied the book’s publication and a nudge from a friend, I’ve gone on to write three more books in the series. Book Five is coming out this summer and it’s titled ‘Billy and Monster Meet the President.’

I want to know was in your coffee that morning for you to produce a draft in 90 minutes! What sets The Fartastic Adventures of Billy and Monsterseries apart from other books in the same genre?

I believe the books in this series are different from most books because in spite of the shenanigans Billy and Monster get up to in each episode, there is always a lesson with good moral values weaved into the story. Parents and grandparents have informed me that they enjoy reading the Billy and Monster books with their loved ones.

It’s certainly good to have parents and grandparents on your side! As a children’s author, what is your writing process?

I think for me, there has to be a big ‘What If What if someone couldn’t exercise self-control and it led them
to over-indulge? This ‘what if’ led to me writing ‘Billy and the Monster who Ate All the Easter Eggs.’ What if a child disobeyed their parent because they didn’t want to be teased by their friends? This ‘what if’ led to me writing ‘Kojo the Sea Dragon Gets Lost.’ A ‘What If’ scenario is always the springboard for me to write a story.

Asking ‘what if’ is a very powerful question for a storyteller. How long does it usually take for you to start and finish each book in The Fartastic Adventures of Billy and Monster series?

Hmmmm… that is a very interesting question. Sometimes, like with the first book in the series, it can take me less than two hours to have a first draft in place. Other times, like with the fourth book in the series, it took me about a month to get the story done.

Do you have any advice for other writers striving to write in your genre, David?

I would say to read a lot of children’s book to familiarize yourself with what’s out there. Then I would implore them to either innovate on what’s currently out there or perhaps take a fresh approach on a popular theme. I see a lot of me-too books in kidlit and it’s always refreshing to discover a new voice.

Sage advice, David! So, what’s next for David Chuka the author?

That is a very loaded question Sharon JIn the short term, I’ll be working with my illustrator to get the fifth Billy and Monster book ready before July 4th. In the medium term, I’m working on writing my first Middle Grade book. And in the long term, I have aspirations to write a mystery thriller. Maybe things will pan out in that exact order…maybe not.

Hopefully your plans will all take root, David. Okay, here’s one for me, since I’m writing a time travel series—If you could time travel anywhere into Earth’s past, where would you go and why?

I would love to go to Egypt during biblical times. Whenever I read the Bible or watch the Ten Commandments, I’m always fascinated by the drama that surrounded the ten plagues that beset the Egyptians as well as the parting of the Red Sea. I sometimes imagine closing my eyes and waking up to here and see Moses telling Pharaoh ‘Let My People Go!’

It’s been an absolute pleasure being on your blog today Sharon. I value and appreciate your friendship and the way you go out of your way to make other authors SHINE! Your blog readers can connect with me at one of the links below. I’d love to hear from each and every one of them!

David Chuka lives in London with his lovely wife and two adorable children. His family are usually the first people to hear his funny and quirky tales. He was inspired to write his first book, 'If You See a Doctor' after he struggled to find a book for his daughter who was a beginner reader.

He's gone on to write more books including the popular 'Billy and Monster' series, a funny set of books about a little boy and his Monster who get into all sorts of funny situations and learn about moderation, friendship, self control, bravery etc. Young children can relate to Billy and you'll love sharing his adventures with your children, grandchildren and loved ones.

As a father himself, he has parents at heart when he writes. He recognizes that bedtime has to be one of the best parts of the day for parents and grandparents as it gives them the opportunity to bond with their little ones. He believes you'll enjoy sharing his stories with your loved ones at bedtime.

In David Chuka's books, you can stay rest assured that quality and captivating images will always complement the story to ensure your loved ones are spell-bound as you read to them. Beginner readers will also enjoy discovering new words as they read his books.

He would like to keep you updated on what he's working on and any giveaways he currently has on offer. Please subscribe to his newsletter at www.davidchuka.com and you'll get a FREE Coloring and Activity book for your loved ones.

You can also connect with him on twitter @davidchuka and Facebook.

Make sure to watch the video trailers for his most popular books on his Amazon Page and you'll get a little taste of why his books have garnered more than 300 glowing reviews.

He has so many stories to tell and can't wait to share them with you and your loved ones.

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11. Interview with Gayle Callen, Author of Redemption of the Duke

And, to bring our Two Dukes and a Scandal day to an end, Gayle Callen is here to answer a few questions about her release Redemption of the Duke. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Gayle!  Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Gayle Callen] Wife, mom, author, dog-obsessed, skating-fan (okay, that last hyphen was incorrect…)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about your book?

[Gayle Callen] REDEMPTION OF THE DUKE is the third book of my “Brides of Redemption” trilogy—but you don’t need to read the books in any order. All you need to know is that, in the past, something went wrong for three soldiers at war, and when they return to England, they want to help the families of their fellow soldiers who died. The tag line for the newest book is “A duke who needs to be tamed; a lady who refuses to be rescued.” Adam is determined to help Faith, who had to go into service as a lady’s companion when her brother died. She doesn’t want to be beholden to another man again, but he doesn’t give her a choice, and manipulates each situation to his benefit. He thinks he’s been redeemed, but she’s going to show him otherwise.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Gayle Callen] After writing the “Scandalous Lady” trilogy about three women, I wanted to focus on the men. I wanted them to be as close as brothers—and what makes them that way more than serving together in the army? And I liked the idea of them coming home determined to make up for the mistakes of their past. To build each story differently, the heroines were connected to the dead soldiers three separate ways: one was a widow, one was a sister, one was a daughter. Because of that, our heroes had to approach them differently.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

[Gayle Callen] The brainstorming. I have two critique groups made up of longtime friends who are fellow writers, and we bounce ideas off each other in person or by email. Sometimes the plotting takes weeks to figure it out, but they’re always there to answer questions or come up with more solutions. And boy do we laugh together. ;)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with this story?

[Gayle Callen] In some ways, setting the identical back story for all three heroes—that they feel guilty for mistakes in their past that ended tragically—made me pay special attention to creating the heroes themselves. They had similar goals, so by the time I hit the third book, it really forced me to dig deep and find new and interesting motivations that guided my hero.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had a theme song, what would it be?

[Gayle Callen] “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile.” Old-fashioned but so true! I try to be positive all the time, because doubts aren’t good for writing or for life. ;)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

[Gayle Callen] A lot of people probably say this, but it’s my cell phone. I like to be able to call my husband and kids, to find a map of where I’m going, to search for something, to look at all my lists. And I make a lot of lists…

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Gayle Callen] Index cards for plotting; different colored markers to color the corners of those cards so I know if they pertain to the hero, the heroine, the romance, the main plot, etc.; and a big glass of ice water.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Gayle Callen] I’d love to be J.K. Rowling for a day, just to see how her brain works. The world of Harry Potter is so brilliantly created. I’m rereading the series for the third time now, and I keep finding new things to be amazed at.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Gayle Callen] I just finished reading Simply Perfect, by the great Mary Balogh. Now I have to go read the others in the “Simply” series. Also, as I mentioned above, I’m rereading Harry Potter, and just finished The Half Blood Prince. Can’t wait to dive into the final book again!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Gayle Callen] I really enjoy being outside, hiking or snowshoeing with my husband and our two dogs, Apollo and Uma. I love to travel, although I don’t get to do it nearly as often as I’d like. My daughter did a semester abroad in London last fall, and I was able to visit her and tour the country for a week. Such great research—and fun, too. I also like to sing, read, watch TV, and crochet, but not at the same time. ;)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Gayle Callen] Website: http://www.GayleCallen.com
Newsletter (sent when I have a book coming out): http://tinyurl.com/pfchxk3
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GayleCallen
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/GayleCallen

Thanks so much for the great interview!

Blurb (Redemption of the Duke by Gayle Callen)

USA Today bestselling author Gayle Callen concludes her new series with a tale of generosity, passion, and the true kindness of the heart.
A duke who needs to be tamed…a lady who refuses to be rescued.
Adam Chamberlin was the third son of a duke, known for gambling binges and drunken nights. No one expected anything of him …until tragedy strikes. Now Adam is the new Duke of Rothford, determined to right the wrongs he’s done. Except a secret in his past means helping the one woman who doesn’t want his help at all…
It’s not every day that a duke introduces himself to a woman sitting by herself in Hyde Park. Faith Cooper is even more surprised when Adam offers her a position as a lady’s companion to his elderly aunt. Faith refuses to be beholden to a man again-certainly not this man, who both infuriates and attracts her. But with the simmering passion between them, will Faith surrender to forbidden desire?

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Redemption-Duke-Brides-Gayle-Callen-ebook/dp/B00FJ376TQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1395632622&sr=1-1&keywords=redemption+of+the+duke

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/redemption-of-the-duke-gayle-callen/1116864944?ean=9780062267962

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/redemption-of-the-duke/id718592591?mt=11

Link to Follow Tour: http://tastybooktours.blogspot.com/2014/03/now-booking-two-dukes-and-scandal-blog.html

After a detour through fitness instructing and computer programming, Gayle Callen found the life she’d always dreamed of as a romance writer. This USA Today bestselling author has written more than eighteen historical romances for Avon Books, and her novels have won the Holt Medallion and the Laurel Wreath Award.

Gayle lives in Central New York with her three children, her dog, Apollo, and her husband, Jim the Romance Hero.

Visit her website at www.gaylecallen.com.

Excerpt -

(Setup: The duke wishes to employ Faith to help her, since he feels guilty about the death of her brother, a fellow soldier. But she’s refused.)

Faith gasped and put a hand to her chest, glancing up and down to see if they were alone before frowning at him.

And they were alone, more so than they’d been in the park or on Bond Street. They were dangerously alone.

“Can Miss Warburton work you any harder?” he asked softly.

She took a step backward. “Believe me, Your Grace, I would fetch a reticule for a sister or friend, why not Adelia? You make too much of how I help her.”

“I don’t think so. I saw your bare hands at dinner.”

She clutched them together, though they were now hidden under gloves. “You could not have—we were too far apart.”

“Not that far. You are embarrassed about their roughness, embarrassed about what you do.”

“I may not like the look of my hands,” she insisted, “but I am not embarrassed by respectable employment.”

“I’ve offered you better employment.”

“And I’ve refused.”

He took a step closer. “I could push the matter.”

She groaned and wished she could childishly stomp her foot. “And I will still refuse. I cannot make you feel better about yourself.”

“That is not the point—I can make your life better.”

She stared up at him in confusion, wondering how long it would be before he’d take her at her word. And then she realized she was standing too close, that he was leaning over her to make his point, that if anyone saw them—

And worst of all, she was actually flattered by his persistence.

Giveaway (Three Gift Packs from Avon Romance including a Piece of Custom Jewelry and Copies of Release from All Three Authors)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The post Interview with Gayle Callen, Author of Redemption of the Duke appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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12. Picture Book Monday with a review of Hermelin the detective mouse

I love detective stories and began reading Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers novels are an early age. It is therefore not surprising that I was thrilled when today's picture book arrived in the mail. The cover alone got me hooked because there was a picture of a typewriter on it (love these machines), a mouse (love mouse-centric stories) and the mouse is a detective. What could be better!

Hermelin: The Detective MouseHermelin the detective mouse
Mini Grey
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Random House UK, 2014, 987-0-857-55023-1
Hermelin is a mouse who can read, and he lives in the attic of a house on Offley Street. Like many attics, this attic is full of stuff that people don’t want any more. There are stacks of boxes and books, and there is also a typewriter, which Hermelin has learned how to use.
   One morning Hermelin walks past the Offley Street notice board and he sees that is covered with notices. Seven of the eight notices were written by people who have lost something. Imogen Splotts has lost her tedd bear, Captain Potts has lost his cat, and Emily, who lives in Hermelin’s house at No.33, has lost her notebook. Other residents have lost a bag, reading glasses, a goldfish, and a diamond bracelet.
   Hermelin, who is a compassionate mouse, feels sorry for all these people who have lost something that is dear to them. They need help and he decides that he is the perfect person for the job.
   Hermelin begins by looking for Mrs. Mattison’s lost handbag. Being a mouse who is very observant and who remembers what he sees, he soon finds the handbag in her fridge behind the lettuce. He then finds Dr. Parker’s glasses. Hermelin saw Dr. Parker wearing those same glasses just that morning and at the time she was reading a book, Medical Monthly. It turns out that the glasses are inside the book.
   Every time he finds one of the missing objects Hermelin leaves the owner of the missing object a type-written note telling him or her where it is. Soon, Hermelin is a neighborhood hero and the people he has helped invite him to a party. They never imagine that their secretive little helper is a rodent.

   After spending just a few seconds with Hermelin, readers will find that they have developed a sudden fondness for typing mice. He is such a funny, intelligent fellow that one cannot help oneself. His story is engrossing and beautifully illustrated, and readers will be delighted when they see how Hermelin gets a wonderful surprise.

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13. Maryam's Maze review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Mansoura Ez Eldin's Maryam's Maze.

       (The review appears just ...2537 days after I received the review copy. Which demonstrates that little is lost in the piles surrounding me, and there's always a chance I will still get to a title from way back when .....)

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14. Latest News

My children’s book Living Green: A Turtle’s Quest for a Cleaner Planet began being published as a 5 part series in February, and will run through June in Jabberblabber Magazine. Based in Memphis, Tennessee, Jabberblabber is a print and online Earth Friendly magazine for kids available at all Walgreens in the Tri State area, as well as various other locations throughout the Mid-South. To read part 3/5 in the April issue, please click on the illustration below. Parts 1-3 are covered on pages 31 and 32.

LG Cover

The Southern Newspapers Publishers Association is offering several of my children’s stories to newspapers across the United States. The latest is my story titled The Hummingbird Who Chewed Bubblegum, which was published on March 18th.  To read the stories, please click on the illustration below.

The Hummingbird Who Chewed Bubblegum


Use of any of the content on this website without permission is prohibited by federal law 


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15. 5 Baseball Themed Books for Young Fans and Readers

Among scores of spring themed picture books, families with young fans can celebrate the season with this diverse selection of 5 baseball inspired books.

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16. Interview with Caroline Linden, Author of It Takes a Scandal

Continuing with the Two Dukes and a Scandal book tour, please enjoy this interview with Caroline Linden!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Caroline! Can you tell us a little about your book?

[Caroline Linden]  IT TAKES A SCANDAL is about a girl who seems to have everything, and a guy who seems to have nothing. Abigail is a beautiful young woman with a loving and very wealthy family. Sebastian, on the other hand, is virtually bankrupt because his father went mad and frittered away the family estate, then disappeared—leaving Sebastian to be suspected of murdering him. Even though Sebastian is star-struck by Abigail at first sight, he’s quite sure she’s never going to give him the time of day. But Abigail doesn’t see him as everyone else does; Sebastian treats her like a real person instead of a nouveau riche social climber, and he intrigues her. Unfortunately, her parents have other plans for her…


There’s a bonus offer for IT TAKES A SCANDAL as well. Everyone who submits proof of purchase by 5/6 will receive three issues of 50 Ways to Sin, a scandalously naughty story Abigail reads. It was also featured in LOVE AND OTHER SCANDALS, the first book in this series. Details here: http://avonromance.hc.com/takesascandal

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Caroline Linden] My original plan was to write a love triangle, with two men who grew up as brothers falling in love with the same woman. But then the hero, Sebastian, just turned out differently. He wasn’t charming and chipper, he was brooding and somewhat reclusive. The heroine, Abigail, was in my previous book so I already knew her; she’s sensible and sensitive, with a strong sense of loyalty and justice as well as an independent streak. In a way, the book wrote itself by the way the two characters interacted.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

[Caroline Linden] The hero, Sebastian. I have a real soft spot for heroes who aren’t Lords of All They Survey, who are suffering a bit of hard luck. They have to work harder to prove themselves, both to believe they deserve happiness with the heroine and often to earn her respect and approval (and in this book’s case, her parents’ approval).

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with this story?

[Caroline Linden]  The other man! I had a terrible time figuring out Benedict: was he a good guy, honestly in love and destined for a cruel heartbreak? Or was he not so pure of heart or motive? It took me a while to sort him out, because I knew I wanted him to stick around for another book.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had a theme song, what would it be?

[Caroline Linden] No idea! It would probably change from day to day. My kids know I’ve finished a book when they come home and hear my 90s hits playlist on the stereo. There might be dancing as well, which usually sends them running in horror.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

[Caroline Linden] My cell phone. I would be in serious trouble without it. (NB: my dog would like to add that the answer here really should be, “I won’t leave home without my dog,” because she loves to ride in the car. Doesn’t care where we go, either.)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Caroline Linden] A book on web design (because I’m re-doing my website); a cat, trying to spread himself over my keyboard; and a mug of tea, which is in serious danger of getting swept off by the cat’s tail.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Caroline Linden] Someone who is going on a two week long spa vacation in Aruba. It has been a terrible winter around here; I cannot wait to feel the sun on more than my forehead.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Caroline Linden] I just finished Dorothy L. Sayers’s HAVE HIS CARCASE, which features Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane. Harriet’s a mystery author who finds a dead body; Peter’s a detective who keeps asking her to marry him. Mystery + Romance = WIN. Plus, they solve the murder in part by asking themselves what Harriet’s detective character would do, which was just hilarious to this author.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Caroline Linden] Anything that doesn’t involve sitting at my desk. Baking cookies. Reading. Going out with my husband. Walking the dog. Sometimes sewing, when I let my daughter talk me into making her an elaborate Halloween costume.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Caroline Linden] I’m on Facebook (AuthorCarolineLinden) and on Twitter (@Caro_Linden), and I have a website which is pretty up to date. I also answer every single email I get from readers, so please drop me a line!

About the book:

The second book in a deliciously sexy new series from USA Today bestselling and RITA award winning author Caroline Linden, in which an utterly shocking book–Fifty Shades of Grey for the Regency era– has all of London talking and gives more than one young miss a mind for scandal.

Sometimes it takes a scandal . . .

Abigail Weston has everything: beauty, wit, and one of the largest dowries in England. Her parents hope she’ll wed an earl. Abigail hopes for a man who wants her desperately and passionately. But the money seems to blind every man she meets-except one.

Sebastian Vane has nothing. He came home from war with a shattered leg to find his father mad and his inheritance gone. He’s not a fit suitor for anyone, let alone an heiress. But Abigail lights up his world like a comet, bright and beautiful and able to see him instead of his ruined reputation. And it might end happily ever after . . .

To reveal your heart’s desire

Until Benedict Lennox begins courting Abigail. Ben is everything Sebastian isn’t-wealthy, charming, heir to an earl. Sebastian won’t give up the only girl he’s ever loved without a fight, but Abigail must choose between the penniless gentleman who moves her heart, and the suitor who is everything her parents want.

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Takes-Scandal-Caroline-Linden-ebook/dp/B00FJ350FS/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/it-takes-a-scandal-caroline-linden/1116864936?ean=9780062244901

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/it-takes-a-scandal/id718587203?mt=11

Caroline Linden was born a reader, not a writer. She earned a math degree from Harvard University and wrote computer software before turning to writing fiction. Ten years, twelve books, two Red Sox championships, and one dog later, she has never been happier with her decision. Her books have won the NEC Reader’s Choice Beanpot Award, the Daphne du Maurier Award, and RWA’s RITA Award. Since she never won any prizes in math, she takes this as a sign that her decision was also a smart one. Visit her online at www.carolinelinden.com


This time he stopped so suddenly, she ran into him. Instinctively she clutched at his shoulder, and his arm went around her waist to catch her. Abigail’s eyes grew wide as she stared up at him. His eyes were no longer hard and angry, but dark with raw longing. “As if I want you?” he asked, not making any effort to release her. “I do. I came into the woods today because I wanted to see you, even though I said I wouldn’t—even though I know I shouldn’t. I want you in every wicked way a man can want a woman. And if I had you, I could show you many, many more than fifty ways to sin.”

Her eyes had grown wide at his first words, but she froze in shock at the last bit. “What?” she squeaked.

“You know what I mean,” he murmured. His hand moved up her back, his fingers spread wide to hold her to him. “The pamphlet you bought in Mrs. Driscoll’s shop.”

“You read it?”

He nodded.

Abigail made a silent vow to murder her sister for this. She’d known it would land her in trouble somehow. “But—but—why did you buy it?” She really wished she could look away, but her wits—and her will—seemed to have gone missing.

“Because you bewitched me, and I wanted to know you, even if just what you read.” He wound a stray wisp of hair around his finger before smoothing it back from her temple. “Why did you buy it?”

Abigail’s heart was beating a tocsin against her breastbone. It was tempting to blame it on her sister, but she’d found that issue so arousing … “Curiosity,” she finally whispered.

Giveaway (Three Gift Packs from Avon Romance including a Piece of Custom Jewelry and Copies of Release from All Three Authors)

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The post Interview with Caroline Linden, Author of It Takes a Scandal appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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17. Monday Morning Edition

In case you missed it, a quick recap of the past week on WordPress.com, from new features to great blogs to discover.

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18. Sinan Antoon Q & A

       In the Irish Times Martin Doyle has a Q & A with The Corpse Washer-author Sinan Antoon.
       Among his responses:

What book would you give to a friend's child on their 18th birthday ?

Nowadays, George Orwell's 1984.

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19. Happy Birthday, Charlotte Bronte!

Photo of Charlotte 1854.
(Wikimedia Commons)
Charlotte Bronte was born on this day in 1816, 198 years ago. She was one of a largeish family of children, but by the time her two older sisters, Maria and Elizabeth, died of illness probably caused by time in an unpleasant boarding school, there were only four left - Charlotte, Emily, Anne and their brother Branwell. Charlotte didn't waste the experience: her alma mater turned up as Lowood School in Jane Eyre.

The Bronte kids, whose father was a parson, did a lot of writing together, poetry and fiction, all set in their own universes, Gondal and Angria. Unfortunately, they all ended up dying young, but their childhood writings are still in print, as are the published novels.

There was a novel by Antonia Forest, Peter's Room, in which a group of children think it might be a good idea to play around with the Bronte children's universe of Gondal. It was particularly interesting, I thought, in that there's a negative view of the girls' feelings about school, which meant they were interrupted in their world-building activities.

I haven't read a lot of their work, but there's no question that Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights are special. I had to read Wuthering Heights for English Literature at high school. I remember one of the boys bemoaning the fact that all the girls were Heathcliff fans - and I can see his point. Both novels are Gothic-themed, but Heathcliff and Cathy are not at all sympathetic characters. I think I've said before on this blog that in my opinion they are unpleasant lovers who totally deserve each other. All the same, it's an amazing, powerful novel about what can happen when two selfish people are obsessed with each other. I loved it - but I don't love Heathcliff.

Jane Eyre is another matter. Jane is not a wimp, or the kind of Gothic heroine who faints at the drop of a hat or screams a lot. She isn't physically attractive either. She is a former abused child who decides to make the best of things and create a life for herself. The Reeds don't succeed in cowering her; if anything, she scares them!  She loves Rochester, but won't be his mistress or his bigamous wife. It's rather a shame that it has to end with her going back only when he's helpless, but the author does allow him to get back his sight.

Rochester is a much nicer man than Heathcliff. He was duped, let's face it, by a family wanting to marry off their daughter quickly before he noticed there was something not quite right about her. Despite all that, he looks after Bertha. He says he could have sent her to an institution, but didn't want her to be mistreated, as tended to happen in mental hospitals in those days. Even when she's set the house on fire and he could just let her jump, he tries to save her - that's how he goes blind in the first place.

Adele, the little girl, is almost certainly not his child, just the daughter of a former mistress. All the same, he took on the responsibility of caring for the child when her mother dumped her.

So, when he finally falls in love with a woman worth loving, he does the wrong thing in hopes of having a little happiness. Not good, but you can understand it. You can also understand Jane's departure when she finds out.

In any case, these are characters I could care about. And I do.

Happy birthday, Charlotte!

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20. Interview with Laura Lee Guhrke, Author of How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days

Laura Lee Guhrke is here to kick off the Two Dukes and a Scandal blog tour!  Check back a little later for interviews with Caroline Linden and Gayle Callen, and be sure to enter the giveaway!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Laura Lee Guhrke] I am a rebellious, perfectionistic, history-obsessed, morning-adverse procrastinator.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about your book?

[Laura Lee Guhrke] When she met the Duke of Margrave, Edie knew he could change her life. And when he accepted her proposal of a marriage of convenience, the ruined American heiress became an English duchess. Five years later, with her husband living a separate life on a whole other continent, Edie couldn’t be happier with the bargain they made.

With Edie’s money, Stuart was able to pay his family’s debts, and happily agrees to her terms that he leave England forever. But a brush with death in the African bush makes him decide it’s time to settle down and make a real marriage with his American bride, and he proposes a bold new bargain: ten days to win her willing kiss. But he soon discovers that to keep her, he has to win more than her kiss. He has to win her heart.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Laura Lee Guhrke] HOW TO LOSE A DUKE IN TEN DAYS is the second book in my new series: AN AMERICAN HEIRESS IN LONDON. When Edie appeared as a secondary character in the first book of the series, WHEN THE MARQUESS MET HIS MATCH, I knew she had to have her own story. I also knew I wanted to write a marriage of convenience, and this character seemed to dovetail perfectly with that particular plot. I’d never written a marriage of convenience story before, but I was determined to present it in a fresh, new way, so instead of having the marriage of convenience begin in the present, Edie and Stuart’s wedding took place five years before their story opens. During that five years, they had lived completely separate lives. But then Stuart decides it’s time to change the status quo and have a real marriage, a decision that rocks the safe, secure world Edie has built for herself.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

[Laura Lee Guhrke] I really loved these two characters! I try not to get too emotionally attached to my characters, because it can interfere with my ability to be true to the story. But Edie and Stuart really got under my skin, and I was cheering for them to work things out every step of the way.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with this story?

[Laura Lee Guhrke] The ten-day time frame! There is some leeway at the beginning and end, but most of the story takes place in a ten day period. These are two wounded souls, with deep scars, and showing them falling in love over the course of only ten days meant every scene had to make a powerful impact. The sexual and emotional tension is very high in this book. It’s a bit deeper and a bit darker than my usual story, and much more intense.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had a theme song, what would it be?

[Laura Lee Guhrke] I Will Survive. I’ve been a working published author for twenty years now, and about half that time writing has been my only source of income. It amazes me every day that I’m lucky enough to have this as my job and that my readers have supported me so loyally. My thanks to them for being such great fans.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

[Laura Lee Guhrke] My SleepPhones. I have a hard time sleeping when I travel, and these cushy headphones are great for shutting off noise. I play meditation music and relax my way into sleep. I love my SleepPhones!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Laura Lee Guhrke] A funky set of toy blocks that spells: IMAGINE, an essay listing the Ten Commandments for a Happy Writer, and my awesome red stapler, like the one from Office Space. The stapler reminds me of why I chose to leave the corporate world. Oh, and both my cats are on my desk, Sushi and Saké. They are always on my desk, getting in my way, walking across my keyboard, demanding attention. It’s amazing I get any work done.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Laura Lee Guhrke] That’s tough. I can’t imagine being anyone but me! And wanting to be a real person has risks, you know. There’s that saying: Be careful what you wish for. Anyone’s life can seem great from the outside, but inside, who knows? On the other hand, if I could be a fictional character, it’s easier to choose. I’d be Alice because I’ve always wanted to go to the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. Or, wait, maybe I’d be Lady Grantham because then I’d get breakfast in bed at Downton Abbey, servants to wait on me, and gorgeous dresses to wear as I walk around my beautiful English gardens. Hmm…I can’t decide. I told you that was a tough question!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Laura Lee Guhrke] I just finished reading THE SECRET ROOMS, by Catherine Bailey, a non-fiction account of the 9th Duke of Rutland, who shut himself away in the servants’ quarters of his estate and spent his last days there. It’s a fascinating peek into early-mid 20th century English life. I also just read THE TYPEWRITER GIRL, by Alison Atlee, a wonderful debut novel set in Edwardian England, my favorite period!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Laura Lee Guhrke] I live in Idaho, and my husband and I have a mountain cabin, so in the winter, we spend a lot of time up there skiing. In the summer, we like to wakeboard on the lakes. I also spend a lot of time in my garden in the summer. We love to cook, and it’s great to use the herbs and vegetables from our own garden.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Laura Lee Guhrke] By visiting my website, www.lauraleeguhrke.com, or my Facebook Author Page. Readers can try to reach me via Twitter, but that’s a bit more hit-and-miss. I’m still working on liking the whole Twitter thing.)


How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days

From USA Today bestselling author Laura Lee Guhrke comes the story of a bargain, a marriage of convenience…and the chance for love to last a lifetime
They had a deal…
From the moment she met the devil-may-care Duke of Margrave, Edie knew he could change her life. And when he agreed to her outrageous proposal of a marriage of convenience, she was transformed from ruined American heiress to English duchess. Five years later, she’s delighted with their arrangement, especially since her husband is living on another continent.
But deals are made to be broken…
By marrying an heiress, Stuart was able to pay his family’s enormous debts, and Edie’s terms that he leave England forever seemed a small price to pay. But when a brush with death impels him home, he decides it’s time for a real marriage with his luscious American bride, and he proposes a bold new bargain: ten days to win her willing kiss. But is ten days enough to win her heart?

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/How-Lose-Duke-Ten-Days-ebook/dp/B00G97C51K/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1395632581&sr=1-1&keywords=how+to+lose+a+duke+in+ten+days

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/how-to-lose-a-duke-in-ten-days-laura-lee-guhrke/1116864918?ean=9780062118196

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/how-to-lose-a-duke-in-ten-days/id734493048?mt=11

Laura Lee Guhrke spent seven years in advertising, had a successful catering business, and managed a construction company before she decided writing novels was more fun. A New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Laura has penned over twenty historical romances. Her books have received many award nominations, and she is the recipient of romance fiction’s highest honor: the Romance Writers of America RITA Award. She lives in the Northwest with her husband (or, as she calls him, her very own romance hero), along with two diva cats and a Golden Retriever happy to be their slave. Laura loves hearing from readers, and you can contact her via her website: www.lauraleeguhrke.com.


The image of her moonlit face, as luminous and smooth as alabaster, flashed across his mind, as vivid now as it had been that fateful night at Hanford House—so vivid, in fact, that despite his many efforts over the years not to think of her, he’d failed more often than he’d succeeded. It had been her image that invaded his dreams during his delirium-filled fever, not the dangerous events that had nearly killed him. Even now, he could hear her voice clearly, so resolute and uncompromising.  That you never, ever come back.  Well, as he’d told her then, never was a long time. Circumstances changed, and plans went awry. His certainly had. He turned on the carriage seat, grimacing as he shifted his weight onto one hip and stretched out his leg. The sea voyage from Mombasa to Constantinople hadn’t been too bad, even without Jones. He felt another grimace of pain that had nothing to do with his leg, and he put his valet out of his mind. Jones was gone, and there was nothing he could do about that. He focused on the pain in his leg instead. That was easier to bear. On the ship, he’d been able to move about freely, but trains and carriages were a different matter. The muscles of his thigh had knotted up before he’d even reached Rome, and by now they were so constricted that he felt his right leg must surely be at least an inch shorter than his left.

“What happened to your leg?”

Stuart glanced at the girl seated opposite him. “Do you always ask impertinent questions?”

That made her grin. “All the time. It drives Mrs. Simmons mad.”

“I don’t doubt it. But to answer your question, I was mauled by a lioness.”

Her brown eyes went wide. “Really? How exciting.”

Stuart settled back in the corner of his seat, giving her a wry look. He unknotted his tie and removed his collar stud, something he’d been longing to do ever since he’d put them on. Nothing like a stiff, tight collar to remind a man of all that was wrong with civilization.

“It wasn’t the least bit exciting, my dear girl,” he assured Joanna as he dropped his stud into his pocket and pulled apart his collar. “I almost died.”


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21. Warning - Email Marketing and Free Email Services

If you’re an email marketer, and you should be, pay attention to what’s going on with the free email services and your subscriber lists. The first to play havoc on their email customers is Yahoo. Yahoo recently made a change to its DMARC ((Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) Policy, according to iContact. What does this mean to you? Well, maybe nothing, but if

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22. Review of the Day: The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza by James Kochalka

GlorkianWarrior1 224x300 Review of the Day: The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza by James Kochalka The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza
By James Kochalka
First Second (an imprint of Roaring Brook)
ISBN: 978-1626721036
Ages 7-11
On shelves now

James Kochalka has always had a penchant for the outright silly. If nothing else his Johnny Boo series of books have said as much. He’s not afraid to go for the obvious gag, but at the same time his sheer willingness to get ridiculous sort of becomes his strength. I picked up The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza uncertain if it would be honestly funny or just trying too hard, and you know what? There was more than one time I thought this book was actually, honestly really funny. It’s the kind of funny best appreciated by younger kids too. Your Captain Underpants / Junie B. Jones crowd. Humor is, admittedly, so completely subjective that adults have a hard time remembering what it’s like to be a kid and to find just the most ridiculous thing in a story freakin’ hilarious. But reading about The Glorkian Warrior I couldn’t help but feel like this was one book where Kochalka really put his finger down firmly on the pulse of kid-humor. Nothing against Johnny Boo or any of his other funny books over the years but with The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza I feel like the man has finally hit his stride. His funniest and most ambitious bit of space-based lunacy to date.

It’s a slow day for The Glorkian Warrior. No amazing adventures on the horizon. Nothing much going on. And though his Super Backpack is bugging him to go out and do something heroic, until the Emergency Space Phone rings our hero is out of ideas. Turns out the phone call is from someone ordering a pepperoni pizza and, not one to back down from a challenge, our Warrior sets off to complete this mission. Granted, the only pizza he has in his possession is the partially eaten peanut butter and clam concoction in his fridge. And granted, nothing seems to go according to plan. But between busting up his Supercar, blowing up a little bully (don’t worry, he’s not hurt), acquiring a baby space cat head sucker thing, and encountering a Magic Robot capable of mucking up time itself, it’s all in a day’s work for The Glorkian Warrior and his newfound pals.

GlorkianWarrior2 197x300 Review of the Day: The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza by James Kochalka I’m not one of those children’s librarians that claims to have the sense of humor of a 9-year-old kid. There are folks out there that can say this in perfect seriousness and though I do understand where they’re coming from, it’s not really my thing. After all, there are some works of children’s literature that just baffle me with their popularity. That said, I found myself grudgingly really liking what Kochalka was doing here. It’s no mean feat to create an honest-to-goodness quest novel that fills itself from tip to toe full of silliness. The tone in this book is also consistent throughout. It has a clear vision, even if the reader does not, and even manages at the last minute to pull a little surprise coup on the reader. So while it will not be to every adult’s taste, I have absolutely zippo problem with the kiddos picking it up. Heck, I’ll be recommending it to them myself. This is for the kid who wants something along the lines of Adventure Time but without the existential philosophy.

Not that there wasn’t at least one element that struck me as particularly fascinating. Put a little time travel into a book and you’ll find folks like myself examining it from every angle, no matter how silly it is, for inconsistencies. I’ll repeat that. I, a 35-year-old woman, read a children’s graphic novel called The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza and when I hit on the time travel aspect I looked for mistakes. Just put that in your pipe and smoke it for a while. For me, the only possible problem I could come up with was the fact that if The Glorkian Warrior called himself to order the pizza, why did he call his own number thinking it was a pizza delivery place? So, yeah. Continuity-wise it’s a bit shaky, but honestly if that’s what you take away from the book you’re probably looking at it from the wrong angle anyway. Besides, I love the philosophical quandary of how The Glorkian Warrior learned about the existence of pepperoni pizza from himself rather than some outside source.

You can’t help but love a book where the Don Quixote of space is accompanied by a Sancho Panza-like talking backpack. And yes, it’ll get its own fair share of objections from various quarters. Not every parent will get it, but it’s awfully hard to find anything to object to here. It hasn’t the scatological warning signs of a Captain Underpants or the “bad” language / “bad” attitude of a Junie B. Jones. Instead it’s just a good-natured tale of a dumbo making a date with destiny. It’s not going to blow you away with its insights into the nature of humanity itself, nor would it want to. It’s just here to make kids laugh. And honestly, we could do with a couple more books along those lines these days.


On shelves now.

Source: Galley sent from publisher for review.

Like This? Then Try:

  • Meanwhile by Jason Shiga – Not to give anything away, but Shiga does some pretty similar things with time travel in his book with similarly goofy results. The tone of the two books is also quite similar.
  • Fangbone! Third Grade Barbarian by Michael Rex – I’m sort of seeking out the silliest/goofiest of graphic novels, all operating under their own internal logic, to pair with Kochalka’s latest. Fangbone is a much smarter character, but that doesn’t prevent him from running headlong into danger ala our pizza delivery boy here.
  • Astronaut Academy by Dave Roman – Because if we’re talking peculiar space-based graphic novels with their perfect little ridiculous worlds, you can’t do any better than this.

Other Blog Reviews:

Professional Reviews:

Other Reviews: Boing Boing



  • Read the first three chapters of the book here!
  • Check out the alternate sketches for the cover of this book over here at Tor.com.  Then you can continue to read the book online here.


Oh. And yes. It has its own app.  Makes absolutely perfect sense.  Sort of Centipede-ish (a statement that perfectly solidifies where in history my understanding of video games began and ended).

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23. 2014 April PAD Challenge: Day 21

Before we get started today, I just want to take a moment to thank all our guest judges for volunteering their time, energy, and talents to this year’s April PAD Challenge. Be sure to find their poems online and if you like them, buy their books! Click here to review the complete list of our 30 guest judges.

For today’s prompt, write a “back to basics” poem. For me, back to the basics means jumping to the fundamentals. Maybe it’s me re-learning (or practicing) fundamentals–like running or writing–but it could also be a child learning how to tie his shoestrings, which can be a unique experience for both the child and the adult trying to give instructions and advice. Back to basics could also be re-setting a state of mind or getting back into a routine. In a way, spring is a season that gets back to the basics.


Get feedback on your poetry!

If you want some professional feedback on your poeming efforts, the Writer’s Digest Advanced Poetry Writing course is a great place to start.

Click here for more details.


Here’s my attempt at a Back to Basics Poem:


forget websites & blogs
what i need is a business card

i miss the tactile presence
of a name and job title

displayed with contact info
& sometimes a logo

but what i miss most
is the blank slate back side

on which i could jot notes
& random couplets

sometimes i’d sketch pictures
or get the contact info

of someone i actually
intended to contact

that cardstock carried no
analytics but it was

useful in a way only
a human could measure


Today’s guest judge is…

Deborah Ager

Deborah Ager

Deborah Ager

Deborah recently co-edited The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish American Poetry (2013) and Old Flame: Ten Years of 32 Poems Magazine (2013).

The latter is a finalist for the Forward Book of the Year prize.

Learn more at: http://www.deborahager.com.


PYHO_Small_200x200Poem Your Heart Out

Poems, Prompts & Room to Add Your Own for the 2014 April PAD Challenge!

Words Dance Publishing is offering 20% off pre-orders for the Poem Your Heart Out anthology until May 1st! If you’d like to learn a bit more about our vision for the book, when it will be published, among other details.

Click to continue.


Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems. The collection has a recurring theme of pushing the re-set button and getting back to basics. Learn more about Robert here: http://www.robertleebrewer.com/.


Get back to basics with these poetic posts:

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24. Our Wonderful World.21

Details of my Poetry Month Project can be found here.

21. The Great Barrier Reef

Do you care
If the
Vitality of the
Earth is
Reduced by
Slow degradation of ecosystems?
It should
Tear at 
Your soul,

Making you feel the loss
As if a part of you were

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2014

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25. Alistair MacLeod (1936-2014)

       Canadian author Alistair MacLeod has passed away; see, for example, Mark Medley's obituary in the National Post.
       None of his books are under review at the complete review, but I certainly admired his work; get your copy of No Great Mischief at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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