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It's Friday and it's been another great week at BookEnds. To celebrate I'm going to share the recipe for one of my favorite drinks . The Moscow Mule. I discovered this quite a number of years ago and it's my go-to. I've also managed to make it a favorite for a number of friends.
The Moscow Mule
1 oz vodka--whatever your favorite brand works 1/2 oz lime juice--I always recommend fresh squeezed Ginger Beer--for those who don't know this amazing drink, ginger beer is not in fact a beer but a soda. More along the lines of root beer. Depending on what brand you buy it can be very tangy and spicy. You might want to try a few different brands to find your favorite. We prefer Fever Tree.
Traditionally the Moscow Mule is served in a copper mug. We use rocks glasses. Add all the ingredients over ice, stir, finish off with a lime wedge and enjoy. I think you'll like this one.
Many of you may be aware that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but it is also National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. I was blessed to receive this wonderful book, Rhyme Schemer by K.A. Holt, and I thought this would be the perfect time to shine the spotlight on this well-written tale of bullying and learning from our mistakes.
Kevin Jamison rules the school as a big, mean bully. The beginning of his poetry journal talks about all the kids he picks on—Giant John, Freckle-Faced Kelly, Harry (his teacher’s mole). His parents are doctors, and even though they make a lot of money, Kevin does not consider himself rich. No one notices that he exists, and when they do, it’s only to acknowledge his mistakes. He has four brother’s, and he is the “mistake baby.” So this complicated middle-schooler takes his frustration out through poetry. He has a talent for picking out words in pages of books and turning them into unique poems.
However, when his older brother Petey throws his poetry journal out of the car window on the way to school, Kevin’s position as king of the school takes a downward spiral. One of the boys that he bullies, Robin, finds the notebook and begins to copy pages of poems and secrets for the whole school to see. Kevin switches from bully to bullied. The school begins to torture him; Robin wants to become the poet bandit—ripping pages out of books and creating poems to post around the school—but he wants Kevin to create them. Blackmailed by his poetry journal of secrets, Kevin has no choice but to submit to Robin, which eventually leads to him getting caught. Once Kevin sinks into his darkest place, a few faithful friends who can see past his rock hard outer shell pull him back into the light by recognizing his unique poetry talent. His librarian forces his family to see his talent, which in turn allows him to find faith in himself. Once he finds faith in himself, life only shoots up from there.
I have never read any story of this sort—a story written in verse. I love the fact that Kevin’s poetry inches slowly from words in short lines to actual, rhyming poetry I did not think I’d like it, since I’m not a huge poetry fan, but this story was wonderful. K.A. Holt tells a wonderful story of a bully turning into the bullied. We see the outside forces that go into bullying and how hard it is for middle-grade children to deal with this sort of pain.
Bullying is a much larger problem than people make it out to be nowadays. Whether it is mean comments, physical abuse, blackmail….bullying is problem that needs to be addressed. Encourage children to speak up for themselves and their friends if they are being victimized. If they don’t feel like they can speak, show them different ways to share what is happening to them—like Kevin’s journal.
While Holt’s simplistic plot resolves a bit too neatly, this transformative tale offers important lessons for all persuasions of middle graders, whether bullies or targets, complicit or horrified bystanders.-Kirkus Reviews
This is basically the type of poetry that Kevin composed, except with this, we are not going to deface books—because that is just wrong. With chance poetry. You have a pile of random, set words, and you are allowed to put the words in any order they want. Watch amazing poetry appear before your eyes!
2. Convert Old Books into Personal Journals: Run to Radiance
3. Host a Poetry Reading
Invite your friends and have them bring some of their favorite prose with
Make Coffee (Decaf for our young, aspiring poets)
Have muffins, scones, and other goodies
4. How Bullying Feels: This is a very compelling video from Pacer.org that I highly recommend families watch together.
What bullying resources would you like to share?
**some of these links are affiliate links
Now Available! The newest children’s book from Audrey Press. Click the image below for more details.
A Kid's Guide to Arab American History by Yvonne Wakim Dennis and Maha Addasi (Chicago Review Press, 2013). Peek: "...dispels stereotypes and provides a look at the people and experiences that have shaped Arab American culture in a format enjoyable for elementary students. Each chapter focuses on a different group of Arab Americans including those of Lebanese, Syrian, Palestinian, Jordanian, Egyptian, Iraqi, and Yemeni descent."
I Want What She's Got: The Disastrous Comparison Game by Emma Dryden from Our Stories, Ourselves. Peek: "There's a thief among us in the writing community: this thief is insidious, harmful, and causing an enormous amount of heartache, pain, and angst. And worst of all, this thief is stealing writers' ability to write. What is this thief?"
Here I Am by Brian Pinkney from CBC Diversity. Peek: "As a renderer of images that affect children, it’s essential that I stick to my commitment of showing black kids in all their glory. By doing this, I hope to be able to bring power, change, healing, self-expression, and heart to children of every color."
How Image Systems Can Supercharge Your Novel by C.S. Lakin from Writers Helping Writers. Peek: "Great novelists know the power of motif and symbolism, often using something like a repeated word or phrase, or an object of importance to the character, to bring a richness to the story and to enhance the theme of their novel. In effect, they are creating something similar to an image system."
Mini Trend: Grrrl Power Graphic Novels by Elissa Gershowitz from The Horn Book. Peek: "...excellent graphic novel memoirs (or fiction that feels an awful lot like) written by women about their adolescence."
How Can I Make Readers Cry by Deborah Halverson from Dear Editor. Peek: "Examine your entire story to be sure every plot point amps up emotional tension. Since plot serves character arcs in romances, events should pierce the characters’ deepest fears and most passionate hopes repeatedly."
Writers on Writing: Dear Professor H. by Lesléa Newman from Passages North. Peek: "If you meant to intimidate us, Professor H., you certainly succeeded. You distributed the syllabus and launched into the course requirements without once explaining the phrase 'serious pleasure' which stared down at us like an angry gargoyle."
My link of the week is Everything I Know About Plot, I Learned from Buffy by Dave King from Writer Unboxed. Peek: "Whedon keeps this working because his morality, while always clear, is never simplistic. Good and evil are the sides, but characters sometimes switch sides or aren’t sure what side they’re on."
If you haven't read all of Sophie Littlefield's books I urge you to ameliorate this dreadful state of affairs at once.
If all the copies are on reserve at your library, here's a chance to win her most recent book THE MISSING PLACE. (Let's just say my sox were knocked off so often while reading this I finally just abandoned them completely and stuck with flip flops)
Usual rules apply:
1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer
2. Use each of these words in the story:
oil boom mother ice shower
You can use the word as part of a larger word but it must be appear in whole form:
oil/spoil is ok but ice/icicle is not.
3. Post your entry in the comment column of THIS blog post.
4. If you need a do over, delete your entry and post another. [It helps to compose on a word .doc then paste to the comment box when done]
5. Entries outside the US are ok.
6. Contest opens Saturday (10/25/14) at 10am and closes on Sunday (10/26/14) at 10am. That gives you a whole extra hour since daylight savings time ends this weekend!
We’re getting ready for Halloween this month by reading the classic horror stories that set the stage for the creepy movies and books we love today. Every Friday this October we’ve unveiled a part of Fitz-James O’Brien’s tale of an unusual entity in What Was It?, a story from the spine-tingling collection of works in Horror Stories: Classic Tales from Hoffmann to Hodgson, edited by Darryl Jones. Last we left off the narrator, Harry, tried to fight off a mysterious creature fighting him in his bed. His friend Hammond had just come to his rescue.
Hammond stood holding the ends of the cord that bound the Invisible, twisted round his hand, while before him, self-supporting as it were, he beheld a rope laced and interlaced, and stretching tightly around a vacant space. I never saw a man look so thoroughly stricken with awe. Nevertheless his face expressed all the courage and determination which I knew him to possess. His lips, although white, were set firmly, and one could perceive at a glance that, although stricken with fear, he was not daunted.
The confusion that ensued among the guests of the house who were witnesses of this extraordinary scene between Hammond and myself, — who beheld the pantomime of binding this struggling Something, — who beheld me almost sinking from physical exhaustion when my task of jailer was over, — the confusion and terror that took possession of the bystanders, when they saw all this, was beyond description. The weaker ones fled from the apartment. The few who remained clustered near the door and could not be induced to approach Hammond and his Charge. Still incredulity broke out through their terror. They had not the courage to satisfy themselves, and yet they doubted. It was in vain that I begged of some of the men to come near and convince themselves by touch of the existence in that room of a living being which was invisible. They were incredulous, but did not dare to undeceive themselves. How could a solid, living, breathing body be invisible, they asked. My reply was this. I gave a sign to Hammond, and both of us — conquering our fearful repugnance to touch the invisible creature — lifted it from the ground, manacled as it was, and took it to my bed. Its weight was about that of a boy of fourteen.
‘Now, my friends,’ I said, as Hammond and myself held the creature suspended over the bed, ‘I can give you self-evident proof that here is a solid, ponderable body, which, nevertheless, you cannot see. Be good enough to watch the surface of the bed attentively.’
I was astonished at my own courage in treating this strange event so calmly; but I had recovered from my first terror, and felt a sort of scientific pride in the affair, which dominated every other feeling.
The eyes of the bystanders were immediately fixed on my bed. At a given signal Hammond and I let the creature fall. There was the dull sound of a heavy body alighting on a soft mass. The timbers of the bed creaked. A deep impression marked itself distinctly on the pillow, and on the bed itself. The crowd who witnessed this gave a low cry, and rushed from the room. Hammond and I were left alone with our Mystery.
We remained silent for some time, listening to the low, irregular breathing of the creature on the bed, and watching the rustle of the bed-clothes as it impotently struggled to free itself from confinement. Then Hammond spoke.
‘Harry, this is awful.’
‘But not unaccountable.’
‘Not unaccountable! What do you mean? Such a thing has never occurred since the birth of the world. I know not what to think, Hammond. God grant that I am not mad, and that this is not an insane fantasy!’
‘Let us reason a little, Harry. Here is a solid body which we touch, but which we cannot see. The fact is so unusual that it strikes us with terror. Is there no parallel, though, for such a phenomenon? Take a piece of pure glass. It is tangible and transparent. A certain chemical coarseness is all that prevents its being so entirely transparent as to be totally invisible. It is not theoretically impossible, mind you, to make a glass which shall not reflect a single ray of light, — a glass so pure and homogeneous in its atoms that the rays from the sun will pass through it as they do through the air, refracted but not reflected. We do not see the air, and yet we feel it.’
‘That’s all very well, Hammond, but these are inanimate substances. Glass does not breathe, air does not breathe. This thing has a heart that palpitates, — a will that moves it, — lungs that play, and inspire and respire.’
‘You forget the phenomena of which we have so often heard of late,’ answered the Doctor, gravely. ‘At the meetings called “spirit circles,” invisible hands have been thrust into the hands of those persons round the table, — warm, fleshly hands that seemed to pulsate with mortal life.’
‘What? Do you think, then, that this thing is — ’
‘I don’t know what it is,’ was the solemn reply; ‘but please the gods I will, with your assistance, thoroughly investigate it.’
Check back next Friday, 31st of October for the final installment. Missed a part of the story? Catch up with part 1, 2, and 3.
Please give a warm welcome to Karen Akins this morning! She’s here to chat about her new release, LOOP.
Thank you so much for having me on your blog today to celebrate the release of LOOP!
One of the things about writing any story is that as the creator, you know so much more about your characters than ends up on the page. It’s fun to be able to share some of these “extras” with readers.
Without further ado, I give you…
The Top 5 Things Bree Never Leaves Home Without:
1. Her QuantCom. This handy little device is kind of like a temporal GPS, telling her where and when she is while she’s time traveling. At one point, Finn refers to it as “her security blanket,” and it kind of is. When I was thinking through what it would be like to be a time traveler, the Com was one of the first devices I thought up because it would help you feel a little more in control of your surroundings.
2. Comfy, non-descript clothing. Another detail that I thought through. I’m not sure that time travelers would really worry all that much about perfectly matching the styles of any era as long as they don’t stick out like a sore thumb.
3. Her heart-shaped locket. Bree’s mother is in a coma (which may be a bit more than it seems…dunh dunh dunhhhhhh), and one object that helps Bree feel closer to her mom is the photo locket that her mom gave her when she was younger. One thing I love about the cover of LOOP is that the space between them forms a heart, sort of an homage to the locket.
4. Hair clip. Bree’s pretty non-fussy, so it would be pretty utilitarian with maybe a little bit of sparkle that her best friend Mimi insisted on attaching to it.
5. Lip gloss. Navigating the space-time continuum can be pretty chapping on the lips, y’all. One detail about Bree’s lip gloss that I had to cut out was that it changes shades to perfectly complement the wearer’s skin tone.
Bonus: One thing she would be SO tempted to sneak back with her? Girl Scout Thin Mints.
Thanks again for having me! I hope everyone enjoys LOOP. <3
At a school where Quantum Paradox 101 is a required course and history field trips are literal, sixteen year-old time traveler Bree Bennis excels…at screwing up.
After Bree botches a solo midterm to the 21st century by accidentally taking a boy hostage (a teensy snafu), she stands to lose her scholarship. But when Bree sneaks back to talk the kid into keeping his yap shut, she doesn’t go back far enough. The boy, Finn, now three years older and hot as a solar flare, is convinced he’s in love with Bree, or rather, a future version of her that doesn’t think he’s a complete pain in the arse. To make matters worse, she inadvertently transports him back to the 23rd century with her.
Once home, Bree discovers that a recent rash of accidents at her school are anything but accidental. Someone is attacking time travelers. As Bree and her temporal tagalong uncover seemingly unconnected clues—a broken bracelet, a missing data file, the art heist of the millennium—that lead to the person responsible, she alone has the knowledge to piece the puzzle together. Knowledge only one other person has. Her future self.
But when those closest to her become the next victims, Bree realizes the attacker is willing to do anything to stop her. In the past, present, or future.
I leave in an hour for five days away with my father—a trip we've been looking forward to for quite some time. I thought that maybe I'd try to write while gone. I won't. I'll be riding my bike through the pine paths of Hilton Head Island instead. Walking the beach. Reading a book or two.
I need not to work for awhile.
I will return in time for the Alumni Authors Panel for Homecoming Weekend—with Lorene Carey, Jordan Sonnenblick, Kathy DeMarco Van Cleve, and Liz Van Doren—at the University of Pennsylvania. I hope to see some of you, perhaps some of my former students, there.
Happiness and peace to you in the meantime. I'm signing off of the blog for a spell.
Many years ago I visited a friend who was living in Nairobi with her husband and two little sons. One of the boys kept on calling out "Digga!" when we drove around town, pointing at the vehicles that were hard at work on road construction projects. As far as he was concerned the diggers, dumper trucks, and other machines he saw were the bees knees. He would have loved today's poetry title.
Digger Dozer Dumper
Illustrated by David Slonim
For ages 5 to 7
Candlewick Press, 2013, 978-0-7636-5078-0
There is something about trucks, diggers, cement mixers, and other big vehicles that young children find irresistible. They love the loud engine noises these machines make and will watch them at work for hours on end. In this book children will meet eighteen of these wonderful machines and they can figure out which of the machines is most like them. Are they “slow and steady” or “really strong?”
The first machine that sweeps across the page is…you guessed it, the street sweeper. Though this machine is perhaps not very glamorous, it is vital to getting rid of all the things that make the streets in a busy town or city dirty or messy. The street sweeper’s “steely whiskers whisper / as they gather dust and dirt,” and the sweeper is “quiet and determined” not to “miss a spot.”
After getting to know a garbage truck who “adores his work,” we meet a dump truck and a backhoe. These hard working machines are vital to the success of a project that requires the removal and placement of earth, rock and other materials. The dump truck is “precise” and does not dump his load “just anywhere.” The backhoe is amazing because it is two machines in one. Its “front end pushes dirt and rocks; / his back end digs out muck.”
Unlike the dump truck and backhoe, the skid-steer loader does not have a steering wheel. Instead, it has two levers and being small it can zip and turn almost on the spot. It can drill, push, lift, and dump.
As they read the delightful poems in this book, children are going to enjoy looking at the artwork. The vehicles described in the poems all have large eyes and very definite personalities, and the people and dog that we meet on the first introductory spread appear in all pictures thereafter. Children will enjoy seeing where the dog will turn up next. Will the girl with the black curly hair be driving the next vehicle or will the boy with the glasses? The clever ending perfectly wraps up the narrative, giving children something to think about.
Other info: Landy has also written a lot of Skullduggery Pleasant novels, the world of which this book is set.
Summary : This time, the bad guys take the stage. Tanith Low, now possessed by a remnant, recruits a gang of villains – many of whom will be familiar from previous Skulduggery adventures – in order to track down and steal the four God-Killer level weapons that could hurt Darquesse when she eventually emerges. Also on the trail of the weapons is a secret group of Sanctuary sorcerers, and doing his best to keep up and keep Tanith alive is one Mister Ghastly Bespoke. When the villains around her are lying and scheming and plotting, Tanith needs to stay two steps ahead of her teammates and her enemies. After all, she's got her own double-crosses to plan – and she’s a villain herself.
Review: Tanith Low has a remnant inside of her, which made her stronger and more powerful and more suited to . Two teams of seven want a set of God Killers, and
I was very excited to read this. I've been recommended Skullduggery Pleasant for years, (and apologies, I still haven't read it) and one of the key things I’ve noticed people like is the world. This being sent to me for review, and this being set in the same world, I was looking forwards to this.
The world building lives up to its hype, incorporating a mix of the folk tales, and more traditional fantasy staples.
I liked Tanith's backstory and the meaning for her name. I l liked all the major characters, especially Tanith, Sabine and Jack, and they were well fleshed out, and I'm looking forwards to seeing more of them when I (eventually) get round to reading the Skullduggery Pleasant books.
The book is short (well, nearly 300 pages, but it feels short) and pacy, and I feel the overall story was quite simple, but I liked fact that the characters and their views on what they were doing add conflict and interest. I thought the dialogue felt quite samey, sassy, and funny, in some places, especially when comparing the two teams' interactions, but I liked the characters too much to mind.
Overall: Strength 4 tea to an action led novel in a world I’d love to return to one day.
I have now read Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers three times. (The first review; the second review.) It is a book that is a pleasure to reread. (Not every book is.) I enjoy Grave Mercy because it is intriguing and compelling.
I wish the author had included more, at the very least more real names. For example, instead of "king of England" or "England's king" I wish she'd named him: Henry VII. There were places she could have been more specific, grounded the book more into history. I'd have LOVED an author's note. I'd have also loved an indication of which characters were historical people and which weren't.
Grave Mercy is not your traditional historical romance. (Well, now that I think about it. If Philippa Gregory can have witches and curses in her Cousins' War series, and be considered "historical" romance, then Grave Mercy might rightly be included as well.) For those that love, love, love romance, I think there is plenty of it in Grave Mercy. I think that is one of its most satisfying features. For those that love fantasy and/or mythology, I think it has some appeal as well. The heroine, Ismae, is Death's daughter and his handmaiden. She lives in a convent, of sorts, dedicated to serving Death. She is a trained assassin. She kills those that her lord (Death) has marked for death.
One of her assignments brings her close to Duval, the half-brother of Anne of Brittany. They share a common goal: to protect Anne, to protect Brittany. But she's been taught--trained--to trust no one, to love no one. So this assignment will test her certainly!
The book has plenty of action, drama, mystery, and politics.
"Are you drunk?" I try to put as much scorn into my words as he did. "No. Yes. Perhaps a little. Definitely not enough." The bleakness is back and he turns to stare into the flames. I am torn between wanting to leave him to wallow in his despair and wanting to rush to his side and chase that look from his eyes. That I long to do this appalls me, sets panic fluttering against my ribs. "I suggest you return to your room," Duval says, his gaze still fixed woodenly on the fire. "Unless you have come to practice your lessons of seduction on me?" His mouth twists in bitter amusement. "That could well entertain me till sunrise." I jerk my head back as if I have been slapped. "No, milord. I had thought only to pray for your soul if Madame Hivern had seen fit to poison you. Nothing more." And with that, I turn and flee the room, then bolt the door against the disturbing glimpse of both his soul and mine. Whatever games are being played here, he is master at them, and I will do well to remember that. (155)
"What is my fair assassin so afraid of? I wonder." "I'm not afraid." Duval tilts his head to the side. "No?" He studies me a long moment, then rises out of his chair. I hold my breath as he crosses to my bed. "Are you afraid I will draw closer, perhaps?" His voice is pitched low, little more than a purr. My breath catches in my throat, trapped by something I long to call fear but that doesn't feel like fear at all. (174)
His smile flashes, quick and surprising in the darkness. "When one consorts with assassins, one must expect to dance along the edge of a knife once or twice. I bid you good night." (218)
Today we have our very own First Five Pages Workshop Coordinator, Erin Cashman! Erin's novel, THE EXCEPTIONALS, is a YA fantasy that was named a Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book.
WORLD BUILDING TIPS by Erin Cashman
Recently, someone commented to me that writing fantasy must be easy, since I can just make up what I need to fit my plot. I wish! As Lloyd Alexander said, “Once committed to his imaginary kingdom, the writer is not a monarch but a subject”. I think world building is both the hardest and the most wonderful part of writing a fantasy novel. Here are some of the techniques that help me:
1. Give your imagination free reign! Do not edit your thoughts or ideas. During brainstorming sessions let your imagination soar. Take chances and risks while you write – try outlandish ideas. Editing comes later. Fantasy, is by its nature, a leap of faith, suspended belief, so – dream big. Write big.
2. Description and Parameters of the World What is the nature of the magic? Who has it and who doesn’t? What are the rules? What are the consequences of breaking the rules? What does it cost? What does the world look like? Beware the dreaded info-dump, however. No one walks down the street and thinks about the color of the buildings, the thickness of the sidewalk – nor should your character think about the blue floating bridge that connects two purple fluffy clouds. The details of the world need to be woven in artfully and naturally – in revision after revision after revision.
3. Important Objects/Mechanics For example, in Lord of the Rings, there is the one ring and the lesser rings, the Wizard’s staffs, etc. Harry Potter has many as well: the sorcerer’s stone, the sorting hat, the Sword of Gryffindor, etc. If you have these objects, try to have them serve another purpose besides a plot device. Rae Carson does an excellent job of this in The Girl of Fire and Thorns. The Godstone is crucial to the plot, it connects history to the present and informs the reader about the people. These objects should not be a crutch, but should add richness to the novel.
4. Power/Abuse of Power Who has power? Who wants power? In a fantasy world a central conflict often arises from the control, or the use and abuse of the magic. Why should magic be protected? Why would someone want to exploit it? Try to weave in good, evil and murky gray reasons and purposes for using/controlling/monopolizing the magic, and strong motivation.
5. Government Who is in charge of the fantasy world? What is their goal? Can those in power be believed and trusted?
6. History of The World The history of my world often takes shape as my draft takes shape (I wish I was a plotter, but alas, I am a pantser). It comes to life through revision . . . after revision . . . after revision . . . you get the idea. I always draw (draw is a very grandiose word for what I do – it is more like scribble) a map. For The Exceptionals, a contemporary fantasy, I drew the school grounds, the tunnels, the tournament field, and the caves. My editor even asked me to send her a copy! If I’ve created a world, I make a map of the geography, and take notes on how it would have influenced the people and the government.
7. Travel How do people get around in your world? Are there space ships like in Star Wars? Do they teleport? Is there a portal – like the wardrobe in Narnia? Do they use magical creatures? Back to #1 – let your imagination go wild!
8. Recreation/Culture/Rituals Think of the magic/powers/creatures that you have in your world. What would be a game or a competition that would arise from it? What about rituals? Expressions? Always be on the lookout for ways to include more world building, such as in currency, recreation, clothes, food . . . this adds layers to your world, and makes it more real to the reader.
9. Edit Revise, revise, revise. Make sure the rules that you have created are followed, or have a consequence if not followed. With each new draft, look for ways to take what you have created and use it for more than one purpose. For example, if you have a magical creature, perhaps it can be used in a competition, or as a plot twist or for barter.
10. Find a Critique Partner and/or Writing Group I really can’t emphasize this enough. Your CP should be someone that you trust who is not afraid of hurting your feelings. Consider what he or she says – the places in your manuscript that are muddled or confusing, the world building that worked, and more importantly, the world building that needs work. And then – you guessed it – revise, revise, revise!
About The Author
Erin's debut YA fantasy novel, THE EXCEPTIONALS, was named a Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book. She primarily writes YA and middle grade fantasy while eating chocolate and drinking tea. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and three children. You can find her here, as our First Five Pages Workshop Coordinator. She loves hearing from readers and writers, and you can contact her at erin (at) erincashman.com, or through her Website or on Twitter.
About The Book
Born into a famous family of exceptionally talented people, 15-year-old Claire Walker has deliberately chosen to live an average life. But everything changes the night of the Spring Fling, when her parents decide it's high time she transferred to Cambial Academy--the prestigious boarding school that her great-grandfather founded for students with supernatural abilities. Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads
J.K. Rowling has penned a new essay about the antagonist Dolores Umbridge.
It’s scheduled to be posted on Pottermore this forthcoming Halloween Day. According to the press release, “the new exclusive J.K. Rowling content provides a rich, 1,700-word back story about Umbridge’s life filled with many new details, as well as Rowling’s revealing first-person thoughts and reflections about the character.”
There's been a LOT going on around here, thanks to how close we're getting to the launch of EVERBLAZE. (Less than two weeks--AHHHHHHHH!) So in case you missed anything, I thought I'd put it all in one place, to make it nice and handy.
First up--the EVERBLAZE Official Launch Party, in Southern California. There will be cupcakes! And prizes! And an exclusive piece of swag that will be very hard to get anywhere else! Plus you'll get to buy your signed copy a whole day early and be there for all the fun. Trust me, if you're in SoCal you don't want to miss this. For more details on all of that, go HERE. And here's the when and where:
Monday, November 3, 2014
Barnes & Noble
5183 Montclair Plaza Ln.
Montclair, CA 91763
Next--I'm hitting the road again, for the EVERBLAZE Fall tour!! Each stop will include special swaggish goodies and some awesome raffle prizes. So if you're in Colorado, Utah, Texas, or Arizona I hope you'll come out to see me. Here's a handy tour graphic, and a list of all the stops (in case the graphic doesn't load):
And I know this is the point where those of you who do not live in any of these areas pout because I'm not coming to see you. Believe me, I'm sad too. I wish it were possible to go everywhere. But since it's not, I've got a couple of other options for how you can get signed books and some of the awesome tour goodies I'll be giving away:
If you want a hand-signed copy of EVERBLAZE and the swag I'll be giving out on tour (except the mirrors--those are only for the launch party), you can order a copy from the stores I'll be visiting and have them ship it to you. Independent booksellers tend to be the best organized for this, so I'd recommend either The King's English, Blue Willow, or Changing Hands. Shipping and availability may vary, so you'll want to be sure to ask. Phone numbers for all of the stores are listed above.
If you pre-order a copy of EVERBLAZE before 11/3/14, you can fill out the form on this blog for the Pre-Order Swag giveaway and as soon as I get home from tour, I will send you awesome signed swag. You'll get the Iggy postcard art print, a Keeper series bookmark, and a signed bookplate to stick in your copy and turn it into a signed hardcover (or put anywhere you'd like if you order the ebook.) Plus you'll have a chance to win some extra goodies (including a few of the exclusive launch party mirrors). And this offer is even open internationally--but is only for a limited time. Full details on how it works--and the form you'll need to fill out--can be found HERE.
And in non-event related news: the KEEPER website has been totally redesigned, and it has some incredible new goodies I think you're going to LOVE!!! Go HERE to check it out, and be sure to keep an eye out for:
Sophie's Foxfire schedules
Foxfire Academy information
All the details you'll need to create your own Foxfire schedule
Awesome new character art
A quiz to discover your ability
A recipe for Mallowmelt
Plus an excerpt from EVERBLAZE--which includes the first TWO chapters (so yes, if you've read chapter one in the EXILE paperback, another chapter has been revealed!!!) Get thee there quickly for another early sneak peek!
Phew--I think that's everything!!! But as always, keep an eye on this blog, and my other social media because there's a good chance I'll have more updates in the days to come. I hope I get to meet some of you on tour, and that the rest of you sign up to get your swaggish goodies. And thank you all for the excitement and support--THE WAIT IS ALMOST OVER!!!!
Life is pretty comfortable for Gabriella Schramm, 13, called Gaby by friends and family. Living in 1932 Berlin, her upper middle class family is better off than most Germans at the time. Her father is a renowned scientist, teaching astronomy at the University, and is friends with Albert Einstein. Her mother, an former pianist who gives lessons at home now, hob nobs with Baba, a well-respected Jewish society columnist for the only newspaper in Berlin that isn't pro-Nazi. Gaby's older sister, Ulla, is scheduled to begin studying at a conservatory in Vienna next year. And Gaby, who loves to read anything she can get her hands on, including Ernest Hemingway, Jack London, Mark Twain and my personal favorites Rainer Maria Remarque and Erich Kästner, is looking forward to reading Heinrich Heine's poetry in Gymnasium after summer vacation.
But things are beginning to change, both within Gaby's family and all over Germany. First, Ulla insists on remaining in Berlin for the summer instead of going to the family's lakeside vacation home, claiming she has a bookkeeping job at the cabaret where her boyfriend Karl, an engineering student, works. But when Karl and Ulla come to visit, Gaby begins to suspect that Karl is a Nazi supporter. She had already suspected the same thing of the family housekeeper, Hertha and the man who maintains their Berlin apartment building. In fact, Gaby has noticed a significant increase in the number of Brown Shirts (SA) and Black Shirts (SS) all over Berlin despite the ban on them.
Back in school after vacation, Gaby and her best friend Rosa are overjoyed to begin studying literature with the very beautiful, kind, well-dressed Frau Hofstadt, who is picked up everyday by a mysterious limousine. But, at home, the talk is more and more about the political situation, which in 1932 is all over the place, though everyone is relieved when the Nazis loose seats in the Reichstag (Parliament), hoping that that will be an end to Hitler and his Nazi party.
But that's not what happens at all and through all kinds of twists and turns, Hitler is named Chancellor by President Hindenburg at the end of January 1933. And with amazing speed, Gaby watches her previously safe, happy world fall completely to pieces.
The period 1919-1933 was such a complicated time in German history and politics. The Nazis referred to it as the Kampfzeit, the time of struggle to gain acceptance and power for their radical policies. Lasky covers only 1932-1933 in Ashes and kudos to her for successfully tackling it in a novel for young readers. There is lots of talk about events that actually happened, and Lasky provides enough information to understand it without overwhelming or boring the reader.
Ashes is a well-written novel, and although it is a little slow in places, given the time and place of the action, it is indeed a worthwhile read. I particularly loved that each chapter begins with a quote from a book Gaby loves and which foreshadows what happens in that chapter. And since Gaby witnesses the Nazi book burning on May 10, 1933, it is all the more poignant a reminder of some of what was lost in that tragic event.
The novel is told from Gaby's point of view, which gives us her very subjective, but very astute observation, not only of what is happening around her, but how she thinks and feels about it all, A fine example of that is when she witnesses her former math teacher, Herr Berg, being removed from her school by the Nazis for being Jewish, and disappears. The reader feels her shock, disgust, sadness and despair all at the same time.
Some of the scenes may feel a little cliche and I am not the first person to realize that Karl resembles Lisle's Hitler Youth boyfriend from The Sound of Music, and that there is a scene similar to one in Cabaret, in which everyone in an outdoor Biergarten joins a Hitler Youth in singing a Nazi song. But, these scenes also make a necessary point (and people have traditionally joined in singing in Biergartens in Germany, it wasn't just a Nazi thing to show support).
Ashes is a nice contribution to the body of Holocaust and World War II literature and on its own, a very interesting book about a very complex time made accessible by good research and skillful writing.
This book is recommended for readers age 11+
This book was purchased for my personal library
I don't know, but it feels like Revival hit the house of Watt this morning in the form of audio Bible. Words elude me. In awe. Completely. Join me in worshiping the Lord today. Share some art later- but right now, oh mama mama- I'm on Holy Ghost fire.
PS- if anybody wants to share some Jesus art on here or a recycled treasure on Hand Me Dones, please just let me know. Woo! Have a blessed day.
Fun Holiday Book with a Great Message, October 23, 2014
The book is a fun mix of both traditional and contemporary holiday charm! Frizzy is one of Santa's elves and she loves making dolls. However, she's always sad when Santa takes the dolls to deliver them to the children. So Frizzy talks with her friend Dizzy and decides that she must find a new toy to make - one that she won't miss when Santa delivers them on Christmas Eve.
It's a fun twist to see what Frizzy decides to do and also the outcome of her new toy-making adventures. The author includes some very up-to-date and funny references to technology throughout the book which the kids thought was great! I like the problem-solving aspect of the story and how Frizzy approaches her dilemma (and also how Santa and her friends help out along the way).
The story is actually written in verse and mimics the poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas". I wasn't sure I would like this when we first got the book but it works really nicely with the story! My 10 year old and I read this book together so it was great to get into the rhythm of the poem as we read. And I also like the connection of old and new (old being the link to the original Christmas story and new being the fun introduction of technology throughout the book). - Jacqueline Fisher, Amazon.com
The Adventures of Wally and Warren Series: The Reluctant Penguin by Lise Chase
The Adventures of Wally and Warren continue wit their love of books. Hunkering down for bedtime, Warren is determined to read a bedtime story. Remembering how mom taught him how to sound out the words he is confident he can do it. Not to be thwarted by Wally’s negativity of anything Warren wants to try himself, Warren puts his best foot forward to each task Warren’s attempts are admirable. Does Wally ever learn that one must try new things to expand their horizons or does Wally remain wrapped up in his self-doubt?
Best wishes, Donna M. McDine Multi Award-winning Children's Author Ignite curiosity in your child through reading! Connect with Donna McDine on Google+ A Sandy Grave ~ January 2014 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2014 Purple Dragonfly 1st Place Picture Books 6+, Story Monster Approved, Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Reader's Favorite Five Star Review Powder Monkey ~ May 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review Hockey Agony ~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Farvorite Five Star Review The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards FinalistAdd a Comment
Today is United Nations Day, celebrating the day that the UN Charter came into force in 1945. We thought it would be an excellent time to share thoughts from one of their former Commissioners to highlight the work this organization undertakes. The following is an edited extract by Navanethem Pillay, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, from International Human Rights Law, Second Edition.
I was born a non-white in apartheid South Africa. My ancestors were sugarcane cutters. My father was a bus driver. We were poor.
At age 16 I wrote an essay which dealt with the role of South African women in educating children on human rights and which, as it turned out, was indeed fateful. After the essay was published, my community raised funds in order to send this promising, but impecunious, young woman to university.
Despite their efforts and goodwill, I almost did not make it as a lawyer, because when I entered university during the apartheid regime everything and everyone was segregated. However, I persevered. After my graduation I sought an internship, which was mandatory under the law; it was a black lawyer who agreed to take me on board, but he first made me promise that I would not become pregnant. And when I started a law practice on my own, it was not out of choice but because no one would employ a black woman lawyer.
Yet, in the course of my life, I had the privilege to see and experience a complete transformation in my country. Against this background it is no surprise that when I read or recite Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, I intimately and profoundly feel its truth. The article stated that: ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood’.
The power of rights made it possible for an ever-expanding number of people, people like myself, to claim freedom, equality, justice, and well-being.
Human rights underpin the aspiration to a world in which every man, woman, and child lives free from hunger and protected from oppression, violence, and discrimination, with the benefits of housing, healthcare, education, and opportunity.
Yet for too many people in the world, human rights remain an unfulfilled promise. We live in a world where crimes against humanity are ongoing, and where the most basic economic rights critical to survival are not realized and often not even accorded the high priority they warrant.
The years to come are crucial for sowing the seeds of an improved international partnership that, by drawing on individual and collective resourcefulness and strengths, can meet the global challenges of poverty, discrimination, conflict, scarcity of natural resources, recession, and climate change.
In 2005, the world leaders at their summit created the UN Human Rights Council, an intergovernmental body which replaced the much-criticized UN Human Rights Council, with the mandate of promoting ‘universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all’. The Council began its operations in June 2006. Since then, it has equipped itself with its own institutional architecture and has been engaged in an innovative process known as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The UPR is the Council’s assessment at regular intervals of the human rights record of all UN member states.
In addition, at each session of the Council several country-situations are brought to the fore in addresses and documents delivered by member states, independent experts, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Today, the Office of the High Commissioner is in a unique position to assist governments and civil society in their efforts to protect and promote human rights. The expansion of its field offices and its presence in more than 50 countries, as well as its increasing and deepening interaction with UN agencies and other crucial partners in government, international organizations, anad civil society are important steps in this direction. With these steps we can more readily strive for practical cooperation leading to the creation of national systems which promote human rights and provide protection and recourse for victims of human rights violations.
In the final instance, however, it is the duty of states, regardless of their political, economic, and cultural systems, to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms. Our collective responsibility is to assist states to fulfil their obligations and to hold them to account when they do not.
When an old friend told me he had saved the former Edward Everett Hale house in Matunuck, Rhode Island from demolition and gifted it to a local historical society with an endowment fund for its restoration, I remembered there was a significant collection of E. E. Hale letters at the Library of Congress that might throw light on the house. How could I have guessed this would lead me to uncovering the revered minister’s decades-long love affair with a forgotten, much younger and truly remarkable woman named Harriet E. Freeman?
First I had to unlock the code the writers used in passages throughout some 3,000 surviving letters. As I transcribed the letters, I recognized the “code” as a defunct shorthand, which I traced to its inventor, Thomas Towndrow. Hale taught himself this shorthand while a student at Harvard, and Towndrow’s 1832 textbook became my “Rosetta Stone” to unlocking an intimate, sometimes passionate, and mutually supportive relationship — the nature of which was concealed by the two of them, their families, and generations of Hale biographers.
Hale’s public life and career are well documented, but who was this Harriet Freeman? As I discovered from reminiscences in the letters, Hale’s special relationship with Freeman had its origins in his close friendship with the wealthy Freeman family, his parishioners since her teenage years. In her early twenties, Freeman began working as a volunteer in Hale’s church, the South Congregational Church in Boston’s South End, just a block away from the Freeman’s town house. Soon, she became his favorite literary amanuensis, to whom he dictated more than half of his sermons and a significant number of his fifty books and countless articles. Their coded expressions of devotion to each other in the letters that begin in 1884, when Hale, married with six surviving children, was 62 and Freeman 37, often seem “over-the-top” in typical Victorian fashion, but the longhand portions of the letters are rich in evidence of their shared intellectual and activist interests and love of the outdoors. Quite simply, they were soul mates.
Far from being just an adjunct to an older man’s life, Freeman fashioned a full and useful life of her own. She had a passion for botany and geology, which she studied at the Teacher’s School of Science (a venture of the Boston Society of Natural History and Boston Tech, later MIT) and then as a special student at Boston Tech, when she participated in multiple field trips in North America. Active in leadership roles in a number of the women’s clubs and organizations that pursued philanthropy and reform in women’s higher education and human rights, she also became a member of the Appalachian Mountain Club once women were allowed to join in 1879. Spending her summers in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, where Hale joined her for the month of August and other shorter visits, she was an activist for preserving the severely threatened forests of the region, persuading Hale to lend his authority to the cause when he became chaplain to the US Senate in 1904.
The story of Harriet Freeman and Edward Hale is valuable for two reasons: it sheds new light on the already celebrated E. E. Hale and it comprehensively documents the life of a truly remarkable woman. I began by thinking that “Hattie” could only be overshadowed by the overpowering legend and charismatic personality of Edward Everett Hale. Instead, I found multiple reasons why he felt she transformed his life. At last, and 84 years after her death, the formerly obscure Harriet Freeman is recognized with a profile in American National Biography Online.
This may just be my favorite time of year. In my head, I return to streets filled with leaves raked into big piles by adults, lit afire and then crowds of kids hunched shoulder to shoulder holding marshmallows poked onto thin tree branches in hand. Spirals of smoke went skyward as we and the marshmallows toasted to a golden brown – or sometimes, outright BURNED. As the huge piles turned to small nests of ash, we trudged home, our clothes reeking of smoke – but with smiles on our faces. Those leaf burnings are no longer allowed because of the environmental impact, but they sure were fun.
I saw an ad recently. It showed a family gathered about, each with his or her own technology device and the caption read, “The modern family is plugged in.” It sort of begged the question – to what and to whom?
First, let me begin by saying, I am NOT anti technology. Smart phones, ipads and their offspring have their place in our culture. They provide vehicles for communication, information and reading, unheard of in MY childhood. What concerned me was the image of a family, their heads and eyes, COMPLETELY captured by the device and NOT each other! To what degree are we completely engaged with devices and NOT with the people that share our lives.
True, there are many ways of sharing and communicating. And to that end, a young father recently piqued my interest in a big way, as he inspired me with the way HE shares and communicates with his two young children. They share something called “Campfire Fridays.” It’s a great idea!
This is how it goes. On Fridays, they sit around a campfire with each other, outside – or in – and share the week. They swap stories, events and happenings that occurred to each during the week. S’mores and similar edibles are added to the mix. But the important thing is they are plugged in, for that space of time, TO EACH OTHER.
Amazing things can happen in such a space. Barriers fall that separate us over our busy fast forward lives and for that amount of time – we can unite over hot chocolate, a s’more and a story. Kids love ritual and traditions. When crummy things happen during their week, their minds go to the small event at the end of the week that can make whatever happened loom not so large. Why? Maybe because it is shared with those that love and support them. And THAT can make a big difference for kids.
Maybe meals are not shared every night in many families today because of cobbled together schedules of extra curricular commitments, but hey, what about a “Campfire Friday?” I guess my version of Campfire Friday were those leaf burning rituals that I so looked forward to.
May I suggest during picture perfect fall Fridays left to families everywhere, that you plug into each other and unplug the devices? As batteries run down on a device and need to be recharged, so too does the energy surrounding the quality of our family life and relationships. Please plug in to each other with a Campfire Friday and a book!!
Here are a just a few suggestions to read around a campfire or a cozy chair pre Halloween:
“The Runaway Mummy: A Petrifying Parody” by Michael Rex
“Pumpkins” by Mary Lynn Ray; illustrated by Barry Root
“Ten Orange Pumpkins: A Counting Book” by Stephen Savage
“Halloween Night” by Marjorie Dennis Murray; illustrated by Brandon Dorman
"Now this way, now that way, and won't let me be! Keep him off, Bill - look here - don't let him come near! Only see how the blood-drops his features besmear! What, the dead come to life again! Bless me! Oh dear!"
The Dead Drummer or a Legend of Salisbury Plain from The Ingoldsby Legends a collection of myths, legends, ghost stories and poetry supposedly written by Thomas Ingoldsby, actually the pen-name of an English clergyman Richard Harris Barham (1788-1845).
The legends were originally serialised in Bentley’s Miscellany Magazine and later in the New Monthly Magazine the version I'm featuring here was published by Macmillan in 1911. The illustrations are all by Harry G Theaker.
I was thrilled to be one of the lucky recipients of a giveaway hosted by the lovely Yvonne over at Winter Moon. My gift was a copy of The Savage Garden by Mark Mills and as if that wasn't enough Yvonne also included a gorgeous bookmark, a pretty card and a second card with my initial. Thank you so much Yvonne, I know what I will be reading this All Hallows Eve.
The Witching Hour is nearly upon us – are you reading anything scary?