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1. A Word from our Sponsors

For those delightful people who have ordered the hardback edition of The Bureau of Them, the publisher of Spectral Press, Simon Marshall Jones, has informed me that, due to unforeseen circumstances* printing has been delayed but it should be with you by the end of November.

Apologies for the delay.

In the meantime, for those who haven't ordered the hardback, The Bureau of Them is available on Kindle over at Amazon or as a paperback from the publisher.

*When holidaying in a caravan park in the 1980's the pool was closed every other day due to unforeseen circumstances and usually when the weather was actually dry. This has absolutely nothing to do with the book, that I am aware of, although perhaps the manager of said holiday park is now disrupting things from a wee corner of Hell.

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2. Circus Mirandus

Circus Mirandus. Cassie Beasley. 2015.  Random House. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I found Cassie Beasley's Circus Mirandus to be a compelling read. I'm not convinced that it's the best book ever, ever, or even the best book published in 2015.

First, I do want to mention that I went into this book with little to no expectations. I wasn't expecting it to be wonderful, marvelous, unforgettable, just wow-wow-wow. I'd not read any reviews at all. And I hadn't paid any attention to what others were saying about the book, for better or worse. I do think when you've heard so-much-gush about a book and you've seen all the five-star-reviews that it can change your expectations, and, can at times lead to disappointment.

Second, how I think when I'm actually reading the book sometimes differs greatly from what I think about a book a week or two later after reading. (Not to mention sometimes how great the difference between in-the-moment reading reaction and a year or two from now reflection.) I want this "review" to capture both if at all possible.

As I was reading Circus Mirandus, I was hooked, for the most part. I wanted to know what would happen next. Would the Light-Bender come? What would the Grandfather ask for? While I suspected strongly that the miracle itself would not restore him to oh-so-perfect health and enable him to live forever-and-ever, I hoped that something good would come from his writing to Light-Bender. One thing I greatly enjoyed was the devotion Micah had for his Grandpa, and, his belief in magic, in the circus that he's grown up hearing about. Yes, the book is sad, I definitely found it to be so. It isn't FUN to read about someone, someone that is your everything, dying slowly and painfully. And it particularly isn't fun to read about someone being kept from being with their loved one in the last days. So there were plenty of places in this one that just resonated with pure sadness. But then there were the other scenes: the flashback scenes where readers meet the boy, Ephraim, and the bird-woman, Victoria; and the scenes where Jenny and Micah visit Circus Mirandus themselves. These balance out the sadness, to some degree, by no means erasing or eliminating it. But relieving the situation somewhat. This novel isn't without hope. Sad novels without hope get little love from me. Though I will point out that just because a novel is sad doesn't mean that I will like it. Sadness is no reason to love a novel, and sadness is no reason to automatically hate a novel either.

So as I was reading, I found it compelling. I needed to know what happened next, what happened to the characters, how it all resolved. Once I started reading it, it was the one book I wanted to be reading. I wasn't tempted to pick up any other book. (And I do usually have several going at any time.) So there is something to be said for that.

But. How do I feel days after reading it? My enthusiasm is weakening in places. That's not to say, I don't really like it. But if you'd talked to me while I was reading the book, I'd be GUSHING to say the least. Wanting to tell you how great and wonderful it was. I can't say I'm in a gushing mood right now. It was good. And I'm very glad I read it. It SURPRISED me in some ways. I wasn't expecting it to be a contemporary read. I don't know where I could have gotten the idea that it was historical. I really don't. So it was refreshing to find out it was set relatively contemporary give or take a decade or two. (His grandfather was a child during World War II.)

This is one you should consider reading. You may love it. You may not. But it's worth trying.
© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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3. Here’s an autumnal #watercolor for the weekly #wabisabi...

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4. Feedback Request

The author of the book featured in Face-Lift 1262 would like feedback on the version posted below:

Dear EE,

Allie shouldn’t have watched the strange man sneaking around in the woods—because now, he’s watching her.

Thirteen-year-old Allie is the queen of imaginary adventures, so even her best friend, Brandon, doubts her latest story of seeing a killer dumping a body in the woods. But when Allie and Brandon explore the woods the next day, they discover a body at the bottom of a cliff. Before they can find a way down to investigate it, the body disappears.

But Allie can’t go to the police. No body means no crime. Since no one has reported a missing person in her small town—and with her history of crazy stories—no one would believe her. [How do the police know about her history of crazy stories? Does she regularly go to the police with false reports of crimes?] [Even if they do know, I doubt the police would refuse to investigate a report of a corpse in the woods. They've got something better to do in this small town?] Then Allie finds out her brother has been lying about not going into that area of the woods. 

[Allie: Was that you I saw dumping a corpse in the woods?

Brother: No.

Allie: I happen to know you're lying.]

Now Allie is determined to solve the mystery of the missing body, and hopefully prove her brother isn’t involved. [Has anyone suggested that he's involved? She saw the killer dump the body, right? She should know if it was her brother.] 

Her adventure takes a dangerous turn when Allie sees a mysterious figure in the bushes outside her window and when someone breaks into her room while she's gone. She suspects the killer saw her spying on him in the woods that night and he has hunted her down. Now Allie must figure out what happened to the body and who the killer really is—before he makes her disappear. [Why does she have to figure out what happened to the body?]

SILHOUETTE is my upper middle grade mystery complete at 34,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


She's still worried that there's a killer trying to make her disappear, and she's still telling no one. This seems pretty similar to the original version. Not that we expected you to rewrite the book, but being the queen of imaginary adventures isn't enough to keep her quiet with her life on the line. The fact that no one believed her previous five stories didn't keep her from telling a sixth, so why should it keep her from telling the truth?

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5. Pinterest

How can you use Pinterest to raise awareness of your book?


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6. Buried Treasures: Archival Research on Eleanor Estes

In my career as a children's literature scholar, I have published several articles on the work of mid-twentieth century children's author Eleanor Estes, who received three Newbery Honor awards (for The Middle Moffat, Rufus M., and The Hundred Dresses) and the 1952 Newbery Medal for Ginger Pye. In fact, it is fair to say that I am the world's foremost living Eleanor Estes scholar - simply because hardly anybody else is doing any work nowadays on Eleanor Estes at all.

But you can't call yourself the world's foremost living Eleanor Estes scholar unless you've done archival work on Eleanor Estes, poring over her manuscripts and her editorial correspondence for insights into her creative process. So I needed to do that. And the last golden week of September, I did.

Many of Estes's papers are housed at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center at the University of Connecticut; Estes was a native of West Haven, Connecticut, which became the fictionalized Cranbury of the Moffat and Pye books. My friend Lisa Rowe Fraustino, who always has excellent ideas, told me to apply for one of their travel grants for visiting scholars. I did, and received one, thanks to two scholar friends who wrote generous letters in support of my application.

So off I flew to Connecticut for a delicious, delightful, delectable week of doing nothing but reading box after box after box of Eleanor Estes materials in the lovely, peaceful reading room at the Dodd Research Center.

Every day I would arrive precisely at 9:00 and enter the reading room, taking with me only my pad of paper, paper, and cell phone (for taking photos of certain documents): no pens allowed!

The special collections librarians would bring one box at a time to my little table:
And I'd sit there hour after hour, taking notes:
Here, a few snippets:

Letter from Elisabeth Hamilton, Estes's first editor at Harcourt:
"I do agree with you about Disney. .  I've never seen many Disney pictures, but judging from one or two I can't imagine he would do anything nice with The Hundred Dresses."

Western Union telegram from Margaret McElderry, Estes's second editor, August 31, 1950:

Oh, why don't editors send authors Western Union telegrams today to acknowledge a book's arrival?

And, finally, this from one of Estes's speeches:
After showing the manuscript of her first book, The Moffats, to her New York Public Library supervisor, the towering and terrifying Miss Anne Carroll Moore, Estes received this response: "Well, Mrs. Estes, now that you have gotten this book out of your system, go back to being a good children's librarian." !!!

I read, and I read. My notes grew to 25 pages, with dozens of photos taken as well. Whenever I needed a break, I wandered over to the Bookworms Cafe in the UConn Babbidge Library across the plaza and bought myself a raspberry croissant or yogurt parfait. I also had lunch one day with two UConn children's literature faculty, guest-taught my friend Lisa's creative writing course at nearby Eastern Connecticut State, and gave a "University Hour" lecture there. Friday afternoon, my work completed, I celebrated by taking myself to tour the adjoining Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe houses in Hartford:
Alas, there is no Estes house open to the public to visit. If there had been, you can bet I would have been there, clipboard poised, ready to do my duty as the world's foremost (well, just about only) living Eleanor Estes scholar.

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7. Leaky’s Review of Jim Kay’s Illustrated Edition of “Philosopher’s Stone”

It is here–it is finally here. Since it was first announced in a press release in early 2012 (yes–we have been waiting for years), fans have been eagerly awaiting Bloomsbury’s illustrated editions of the Harry Potter books. As we wondered what these books would look like, Bloomsbury took their time, carefully picking an illustrator to take the job. Jim Kay was revealed as the new set of eyes that would be reimagining our beloved Harry Potter series–it wasn’t long before every fan knew his name.

Jim Kay has expressed the extreme pressure he has experienced, undertaking such a monumental project. Harry Potter is so beloved, that the critique of fans, the actors, publishers, and the approval of the author herself could make or break his endeavors. J.K. Rowling, publishers, and many others have expressed not only their approval, but their love for Jim Kay’s vision of Harry Potter’s world. The fans are probably the hardest group of people to win over.

After so many years of waiting, the fans are excited to get their hands on a new Harry Potter book–and because of this help from Father Time, whether or not the images are to individual fans’ taste, Jim Kay’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone will be eaten up from the moment bookstores open today, or UPS trucks show up at your front door.

Even though it is difficult to let go of Harry Potter envisioned in our own heads, by Mary GrandPre, and even by the films, after getting our hands on a copy of Jim Kay’s illustrated edition of Philosopher’s Stone, there is no denying that this Harry Potter book is a work of Art.





Though we hoping that Scholastic would keep the title of “Philosopher’s Stone” for Bloomsbury’s illustrated book project, the US editions of the illustrated books have maintained their US titles and rights of their US publishers. However this does not detract from the cover art of the book that we have seen over the last few months (it is even more beautiful in person).





Though it is a medieval castle full dungeons, cold and damp stone walls, and to Ron’s dismay, spiders, many of us picture Hogwarts as warm and welcoming. A place to call home for many of the lost character’s in Harry Potter–Harry, McGonnagall, and even Tom Riddle. Jim Kay’s sketches, though beautiful, are a bit more foreboding.





On page 91, Harry’s first glimpse of Hogwarts (not pictured) would remind fans of castles in gothic novels–inciting more fear than excitement.Though Harry’s arrival to Hogwarts was during a chilly September night, Hogwarts is an iconic image of beauty, with “it’s windows sparkling in the starry sky.” Some fans will like this new image of Hogwarts, others probably will not.




Even though the majority of artwork portraying Hogwarts is rather dark, there are two images that shine a more warm light on the beloved castle. The first is this scene of Draco during flying class with Madam Hooch, Hogwarts looks more inviting amongst the beautiful fall colors of the foliage in its grounds.





Chapter one throws us right into the lives of the Dursley’s along with J.K. Rowling’s opening words of the Harry Potter series. Jim Kay captures Dudley perfectly–as a over weight, spoiled, crying baby, who could not be more precious to his proud parents.




In the recent fansite interview with Jim Kay, the illustrator mentioned that one of his favorite illustrations in the book was the ghosts. We quite agree with him. The “reverse” method of painting that he used to layer on color, all the while making the ghosts still appear translucent was beautifully executed. The contrast of neon colors against the black make the ghosts glow off the page.




During the interview, when answering the same question about the ghosts, Jim Kay also mentioned that he was particularly fond of drawing the trolls. Famous Hufflepuff, Newt Scamander (who has been making news a lot recently in the muggle world), makes an appearance in Harry’s first year, as the author of one of his textbooks. Jim Kay was sure to high light this, in line with the large film project of Fantastic Beasts, with a two-page spread.




Other Fantastic Beasts make appearances, and are also highlighted across two-page spreads. The first is Hagrid’s precious baby Norwegian Ridgeback, who appears to be a lot more threatening than Baby Norbert (or should we say Norberta?). The adult dragon pictured above is very majestic, and perhaps gives us an idea of what the dragons will look like in book four.





One of the most beautiful images of a Fantastic Beast, is this piece of art portraying the unicorns that Harry, and the other in detention with Hagrid after Draco turns them in on the night Nobert(a) hatched, track in the Forbidden Forest. The image seems to have been made much in the same way as the ghosts earlier in the book, with a “reverse” painting process that makes the unicorn more transparent, and glow off the page.




The second to last image of the book is the famous scene of celebration. Harry won Gryffindor it’s first House Cup of his time at Hogwarts, and just defeated Voldemort for the first time that he can remember. The Great Hall of Hogwarts looks like the hall we are all familiar with, and we finally see Hogwarts as the community and family we know and love. The final image of the book leaves us with an outside perspective of the Great Hall, in a warm and colorful, less foreboding image of our favorite castle.

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 4.27.55 PM


There is no denying that Jim Kay’s artwork is a masterpiece. And though the images are beautiful and well crafted, fans’ reactions are most likely to be mixed–given their strong feelings and associations with the books they have grown up with. Though adults will buy these books, and appreciate the artwork attached to their favorite stories, the book does have a more “child story book” feel. It will definitely more difficult to look at the illustrated editions of Harry Potter as novels, and easier to hold this book as children’s literature, with beautiful pictures that will help parents bring in the new generation of young Harry Potter fans. This is not necessarily a bad thing, for no matter how old we grow, most of us will always be children at heart, and associate Harry Potter with the important role it played within our childhood.

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8. नेता जी

नेता जी

बेचारा मरीज…. डेंगू के लिए खून चढवाना है … नेता जी आए हैं रक्तदान करने पर मरीज बिफर गया कि कुछ भी हो जाए भले ही मैं मर जाऊ पर नेता जी का खून नही चढवाऊंगा … बात से पलटना, अंट शंट बोलना ,यू टर्न लेना और अपने कार्य के प्रति ईमानदार नही है ऐसे मे नेता जी का खून अगर उसे चढ गया तो !!! इसलिए ये मरीज मरने को तैयार है पर नेता का खून चढवाने को तैयार नही ….


कार्टून नेता जी

कार्टून नेता जी

The post नेता जी appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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9. The Emperor of Any Place by Tim Wynne-Jones

After his father suddenly dies, Evan Griffin, 16, discovers he had been reading a book written by a Japanese soldier named Isamu Ōshiro, who found himself stranded on a small island in the Pacific during World War II.  The book is a memoir of his life on the island, which he called Kokoro-Jima, and is addressed to his new bride, Hisako, back in Saipan.  But Evan also discovers a letter to his dad from a man named Leonardo Kraft that seems to connect his estranged grandfather, Griff, a career Marine, to the events that are in the book.

Curious, Evan begins to read the Ōshiro's memoir one night when he gets a phone call from his grandfather that he will be at the house in a little while - arriving a week earlier than Evan expected him.  But why?  Clearly it has something to do with Ōshiro's story.  But what?

Isamu's story, framed by Evan's story, is riveting.  He describes his arrival on Kokorro Jima, what he does to survive despite being severely injured, but he also writes about something else.  There are ghostly children on the island who hover close by him, and who Isamu calls his ghostly family.  Soon, however, he begins to notice that there are also zombie-like ghoulish creatures, which he calls jikininki and who feed off the dead.

It is the jikininki who lead Isamu to a crashed cargo plane and the two dead pilots.  Isamu realizes there is a missing person, the navigator, and eventually he finds Derwood Kraft on the beach, seriously injured and who seems to have his own ghost family of children. But along with this gaijin, Isamu also discovers Tengu, a monstrous black creature about to attack the American.

That pretty much sets the stage for this incredibly well-written, well-developed, wonderfully crafted novel.  At the heart of the novel is the mystery of what happened to Isamu and why this is connected to Evan's grandfather.  But Tim Wynne-Jones keeps the mystery going without even a hint of what happens until the very end, and getting there is never dull or boring.

As far as I'm concerned, The Emperor of Any Place is definitely top-drawer fantasy, and yes, it is also very graphically detailed.  The novel switches between the present and past seamlessly, and Wynne-Jones throws in some seemingly unimportant scenes that only serve to deliciously increase the mood and tension.  I'm not much of a zombie fan, but I was totally drawn into this novel and hated to put it down when I had to do something else.

But there is something else that Wynne-Jones wants us to take away beside a great story and that is how tenuously connected the lines between war and peace, friends and enemies, love and hate are and how they impact past to present, generation to generation.  As Griff explains to Evan, "[war] ends and then it starts again, and the end of one war inevitably grows out of the war that can before it."

The Emperor of Any Place is one of those novels that took me totally by surprise and my only regret is that I can't have the pleasure of reading it for the first time again, but I will be re-reading it soon.

The Emperor of Any Place will be available on October 13, 2015.

This book is recommended for readers age 13+
This book was an EARC received from NetGalley

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10. Anne-Margot Ramstein

Anne-Margot Ramstein


Beautiful work from Anne-Margot Ramstein an author and illustrator based in Montreal.




Anne-Margot Ramstein

Anne-Margot Ramstein

Anne-Margot Ramstein



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11. Aladdin


This is a piece I did for a Educational reader a little while back. It’s interesting how the original story differs from the Disney version that so many of us are familiar with. It’s much darker.

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12. Lucifer cat!

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13. Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans by Don Brown

HMH Young Readers, 2015

I picked up this graphic novel because I was intrigued not only by the cover, but by how this non-fiction GN would stack up to what happened....I wasn't disappointed.

At this moment in time, there are two very significant historical moments high school students have lived through and will tell their grandchildren they were alive when it happened.  Most students can tell you about the 9/11 tragedy because there is a memorial set up, it's been televised and Youtubed, and schools usually honor those who died every year.

When asked what the other significant historical moment happened during their lifetimes, most had to think about it until I showed them the cover of the book.  Don Brown, who wrote and illustrated this GN, tells the tragic story of not only Hurricane Katrina the natural disaster, but also the tragedies that happened to those who stayed, the heroes and the villains, and how this natural disaster was SO overlooked not only by the state, but also by the federal government.  Brown's illustrations depict the sadness and desperation people felt, from those at the Superdome to those trapped in their homes, to the patients in hospitals left behind and based on factual evidence.

Brown also injects sad truth into the book as well.  Authorities in charge of the city from the top down weren't available or around during the aftermath.  Some in the police force abandoned their posts and the companies who volunteered their services  before the hurricane hit to transport those who couldn't get out were turned away...but there were the unknown heroes as well, who used their boats and other water vehicles to help those stranded on their rooftops.

While booktalking this book last week, I asked students to recall the heat in Texas in August, when temperatures easily reached into the 100s.  Would they be able to stand on a paved road for 24 hours with little or no water or food?  Coupled with extreme humidity, raw sewage, toxic water and the smell of death in the air....that's what people went through who were left behind.

This is the powerful image Don Brown creates, not only physically but emotionally as well.  And it is also something students need to know more about instead of compartmentalizing it as another hurricane that wrecked a city.

This is an important book to have in any library because it tells a story needing to be told in a format conveying more than words on pages.  Highly recommended.    

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14. Watch: Pixar Releases New Full-Length ‘Good Dinosaur’ Trailer

Can Pixar release two great films in one year?

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15. Wake me up when it’s all over

sleep-paralysis-1170x668I confess to feeling nonplussed when the publicist wrote to see if “Horn [ed note: AARGH] will review The Rabbit Who Wants to Go to Sleep,” the self-published bestseller that Random House picked up for a rumored seven-figure advance. I mean, yes, the Horn BOOK will review it in the Spring 2016 Horn Book Guide because that publication reviews non selectively, but, really, why are you asking me this? Is somebody making you do it? I felt one step away from a drunk Reese Witherspoon bellowing at a cop who didn’t know who she was.

But, okay, Rando, here’s what Horn thinks. The Rabbit Who Wants to Go to Sleep is a book designed to help parents get their kids to go to sleep. It has sold so many copies (already, I mean, but clearly RH thinks there are even more suckers out there) because it probably works as advertised. The text is long–really, really long– and droning and uneventful, and it will bore the brats right into dreamland. Authorial directives are everywhere, telling parents where to whisper, where to provide emphasis, where to yawn: “The name of the rabbit, Roger [ed note: fuck you], can be read as ‘Raaah-gerr’ with two yawns.” The combination of boredom plus suggestion will induce a hypnotic state in both parent and child and cause Chandler to walk around the apartment with a towel round his head like a girl make them very, very sleeeepy. (Despite what the Amazon reviews will tell you, this is not “magic.” Now, I would have thought that the kind of parent  susceptible to The Rabbit Who Wants to Go to Sleep might have been horrified at the prospect of hypnotizing their offspring because that is how demons get in, but anything for a good night’s sleep, I suppose.) Mission accomplished.

If the seven-figure-advance rumor is true, I’d love for someone to do the math for me. Can this book (or books; the author and publisher are threatening a series) earn that much money back? Won’t parents figure out that Goodnight Moon–cheaper, prettier, and a billion times classier–does the same thing?


The post Wake me up when it’s all over appeared first on The Horn Book.

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16. BTW @dog_opus thanks to you I’ve revived my lead holder,...

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17. The In$sane Chicago Way


John M. Hagedorn’s The In$ane Chicago Way mines the secret history of the attempt to form a Spanish Mafia by Chicago gangs in the 1990s—including why it failed—in order to examine and contextualize our current potential to intervene in and reduce gang-related violence. Hagedorn was recently interviewed by Milt Rosenberg (podcast in full here), and submitted his book to the scrutiny of the Page 99 Test, both of which you can access online, including an excerpt from Page 99 below. And, if you’re in Chicago, you can catch Hagedorn in person at the Great Cities Institute (412 S. Peoria, Suite 400) on Monday, October 19th, at 2:30PM.

From the Page 99 Test blog:

The In$ane Chicago Way tells a heretofore unknown story of how Chicago Latino gangs tried to create a Spanish mafia and why they failed. In$ane explains how a coalition of Latino gangs, Spanish Growth & Development (SGD), was created by gang leaders to control violence, organize crime, and corrupt police. Law enforcement and even most gang members were not aware of the 10-year existence of SGD which ruled the streets from the Illinois prison system. SGD was not destroyed from outside by arrests but by an internecine war of the families, or rival groups of gangs. The book follows SGD from its origins to its bloody demise in an assassination of the steps of a peace conference.

Chicago’s mafia, the Outfit, was not an uninterested observer to these efforts. They worked backstage through their minor league team, the C-Note$, to influence SGD, particularly to control violence in order to safeguard profits. The book follows the exploits of the five principal C-Note leaders, who my Outfit informant called “Two Dagos, Two Spics, and a Hillbilly.” In order to infiltrate SGD, the Outfit had to overlook their Italian C-Note leaders and push forth a Puerto Rican, Mo Mo, as their de facto representative. Page 99 is a small glimpse into Mo Mo and why he became the Outfit’s choice as their covert liaison to SGD.

To read more about The In$sane Chicago Way, click here.

To read the Page 99 Test post in full, click here.


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18. #Diversiverse Challenge

I am participating in the #Diversiverse Challenge, in which you have to:
  • Read and review one book
  • Written by a person of color
  • During the first two weeks of October (October 4th-17th, 2015)

I wanted to include a Jewishly diverse angle, so I selected My Basmati Bat Mitzvah by Paula J. Freedman (Amulet/Abrams, 2013). The author and the protagonist have a mixture of European Jewish and East Indian heritage. The novel is aimed at 10-14 year olds.

I found this to be a delightful book. Twelve-year-old Tara Feinstein forges her identity as a Jew with strong pride in both the Jewish and Indian sides of her family. She struggles and grows as her relationships with best friends and boys change and develop, she expresses her individuality while respecting her family relationships, and she takes her Bat Mitzvah lessons seriously. Despite all the important learning going on, the tone remains light and upbeat, a fun read. Characters are well-developed and likable. Comparisons with Are You There, God? It's Me Margaret by Judy Blume (1970) are inevitable, as a mixed-heritage girl contemplates her religious identity, but Tara seems to have a pleasing confidence that Margaret lacks. As a bonus, the paperback edition (2015) has recipes included at the back for Jewish traditional dishes with an Indian twist

For those who enjoyed the Indian/Jewish mix of Mira in the Present Tense, The Whole Story of Half a Girl, or the cultural tensions of the film Bend It Like Beckham, My Basmati Bat Mitzvah will be very welcome. For an interesting comparison of Basmati and Mira, check out Matzo Masala in The New York Times, Nov. 2013.

Check out other entries in the #Diversiverse Challenge here!

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19. Author Chat with Angela Blount


Contributed by Joanne Mumley


One of our extraordinary staff members, Joanne, interviewed Angela Blount, author of Once Upon a Radtrip! Now she's sharing this fantastic chat with us! But first we'd like to introduce you to this literary duo. 




Meet Angela Blount.


Award-winning author Angela N. Blount is a Minnesota native, transplanted to the deep South–where she currently resides with her understanding husband, their two children, and a set of identity-confused cats. She is a staff book reviewer for Young Adult Books Central, an underwriter for LitPick, a memoirist, sporadic poet, and webcomic artist.


In her spare time, Angela enjoys painting, reading, coffee shop loitering, questionable attempts at horticulture, and all things geeky.


Now meet Angela book, Once Upon a Roadtrip.

Eighteen-year-old Angeli doesn't "fit in." She's never been on a single date, and she lives vicariously through an online world of storytelling. With the pressures of choosing a practical future path bearing down, she needs a drastic change. Too old to run away from home, she opts instead to embark on a solo 2-month road trip. But her freedom is tempered by loneliness - and anxiety tests her resolve as she comes face-to-face with her quirky internet friends. 

Aside from contracting mono and repeatedly getting herself lost, Angeli's adventure is mired by more unforeseen glitches - like being detained by Canadian authorities, and a near-death experience at the hands of an overzealous amateur wrestler. Her odyssey is complicated further when she unwittingly earns the affections of two young men. One a privileged martial artist; the other a talented techie with a colorful past. 

Bewildered by the emotions they stir, Angeli spurns the idea of a doomed long-distance relationship. But she is unprepared for the determination of her hopeful suitors. In the wake of her refusal, one man will betray her, and the other will prove himself worthy of a place in her future. 

Angeli sets off in search of a better understanding of herself, the world, and her place in it. What she finds is an impractical love, with the potential to restore her faith in happy endings. 

A true story with an unapologetically honest outlook on life, love, faith, and adventure - Once Upon A Road Trip is a coming-of-age memoir.


With introductions in order, it's time to CHAT! 


Joanne Mumley: Memoirs are very personal, what was the most challenging part of writing this book?


Angela Blount: For me, the most challenging aspect in writing my story was reliving the emotions. There’s something deeply  taxing about reaching back inside yourself and pulling everything out to put on display. It was part of the reason I didn’t start compiling Once Upon a Road Trip until the whole adventure was seven years behind me. I needed the distance. I needed to be ready to let go and write about the good, the bad, and the potentially embarrassing with equal candor. 

The most challenging part about choosing to actually publish the book was overcoming the idea of releasing something so personal to public scrutiny. I understood well ahead of time that I would be opening myself up to judgment from complete strangers. (It’s one thing when readers decide they can’t stand one of your fictional characters, and quite another thing when they dislike YOU as a person.) But after weighing the probable consequences, I felt compelled to go ahead with it. My hope was that for every person who might not understand my peculiarities or where I was coming from, there would be another person who connected well enough to be affected by the story I had to share.       


JM: What is the best advice you would give to young adults thinking about going on a cross-country trip?


AB: Be prepared. Fortunately, a lot has changed since I hopped in my car fresh out of high school and drove around for eight weeks. Cell phones and GPS are much more affordable and (generally) have decent coverage. But that doesn’t mean a tangible road map isn’t a good thing to have along for backup. 
Research the area you’re visiting long before you get there. (I still regret a number of sights and landmarks I completely missed because I didn’t know any better at the time.) 

And last but not least… know how to defend yourself. 


JM: What made you choose to tell your story both in the 3rd person and with journal entries?


AB: The 1st person journal entries were the backbone of the story—the thing that jogged parts of my memory and reacquainted me with my 18-year-old self. They added a depth of insight into my mental and emotional state at the time, but I quickly realized it didn’t feel quite right to tell the entire story from that close up. Once Upon a Road Trip was as much about the journey and the adventure as it was about me. 

3rd person limited held a lot of appeal in that it allowed me to be more objective—like standing on the outside of myself and looking in. 


JM: Looking back on your time and travels across the country is there anything you would go back and change?


AB: I think I would talk to more strangers. (Within reason and in public, of course!) I was so focused on the trip, the sights, and my individual host families along the way, there were a lot of opportunities I didn’t think to take at the time. I’m still an introvert by nature, but in the years since then I’ve gotten better at going outside of my social comfort zone and seeking out other people’s stories.  


JM: What is one thing you want your readers to take away from your memoir?


AB: I consider it an honor whenever readers can take away anything positive from one of my books. 

But if I could choose, I’d want them to be inspired to face challenges and do things you need to do in spite of fear. I started out thinking I wanted people to stop being afraid—of failing, of disappointing someone, of taking the road less traveled. Yet, I know from my own experiences that an absence of fear isn’t always feasible. What is feasible is doing something even though you’re afraid of it.


JM: What authors influenced you growing up? or Even now?


AB: Growing up, C.S. Lewis taught me to love reading—not just the love of a good story, but of the words themselves. S.E. Hinton gave me the audacious idea that a 15-year-old girl could write a book worth reading and actually have it published. 

These days authors influence me a little more directly. Moriah Densley has had a tremendous impact on the conveyance of emotion in my writing. Patrick Rothfuss has also been influential to me, not only in his epic storytelling capacity but in his big-hearted generosity as an author determined to use his influence to leave the world better off than he found it.


JM: You met a lot of interesting people on your cross country trip. What advice would you give to young adults who feel that they might not "fit in"?


AB: Embrace the weird. The sooner you do that, the less you’ll fritter away time and energy worrying about how other people perceive you. Eventually you’ll discover effective ways of using it to your advantage. 


JM: Do you have any current book projects? Can you tell us more about them?


AB: I actually have two projects going at the moment. One is the second book in a loosely connected Contemporary YA series, set in a small town in Tennessee. The other is a YA sci-fi series set on a speculative future Mars. The differences between them are somewhat extreme, but I find it refreshing to shift back and forth.



A big thanks to both Angela Blount and Joanne Mumley for this enlightening interview! Now read on for the latest giveaway below!

Once Upon a Road Trip

  1. By: Angela Blount

  2. Release Date: November 1, 2013 





Two winners will receive a signed copy of Once Upon a Roadtrip, open internationally.


Entering is simple, just fill out the entry form below. During this giveaway, Marilyn has a question for readers. Here is the question they'll be answering in the comments below for extra entries: What is the name of the book that serves as a continuation to Once Upon a Road Trip?


*Click the Rafflecopter link to enter the giveaway*

a Rafflecopter giveaway




Joanne Mumley is a middle school Language Arts teacher, who loves tweeting about the things she loves; books, Doctor Who, Star Wars, Marvel movies, and Pop Culture, and how to make reading a passion, not something tedious you do in school. Outside of work, she loves performing music, video games, and archery. Joanne especially loved having the opportunity to go to San Diego Comic Con this year and finding out more about favorite authors and sharing all the cool information with her students!


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20. Who Was The Phantom Who Drew The Phantom Sheriff?

When I originally posted this Phantom Sheriff page over at the now redundant Golden Age blog, I knew it was from Knockout weekly of 14th June, 1947.  And I thought it might be the work of  Jock McCail.  So I've checked and double-checked.

Artists used a specific standard style so unless you can identify quirks such as how a hand is drawn it's hard to tell who did what.  I still think it looks very McCail so I'll soon be getting my Swan Comics volumes out to check the styles.

But if YOU know who drew this let me know.....I ain't proud.

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21. Seize the Night anthology

Attention Buffy the Vampire Slayer and True Blood fans: Here's a new anthology for your to sink your teeth into today!

Seize the NightSeize the Night is old-school vampire fiction at its finest. A blockbuster anthology of original, blood-curdling vampire fiction from New York Times bestselling and award-winning authors, including Charlaine Harris, whose novels were adapted into HBO’s hit show True Blood, and Scott Smith, publishing his first work since The Ruins.

Before being transformed into romantic heroes and soft, emotional antiheroes, vampires were figures of overwhelming terror. Now, from some of the biggest names in horror and dark fiction, comes this stellar collection of short stories that make vampires frightening once again.

Seize the Night was edited by New York Times bestselling author Christopher Golden and features all-new stories, including:

Up in Old Vermont by Scott Smith
Something Lost, Something Gained by Seanan McGuire
Blood by Robert Shearman
The Neighbors by Sherrilyn Kenyon
On the Dark Side of Sunlight Basin by Michael Koryta
Paper Cuts by Gary A. Braunbeck
Miss Fondevant by Charlaine Harris
In a Cavern, In a Canyon by Laird Barron
Whiskey and Light by Dana Cameron
We Are All Monsters Here by Kelley Armstrong
May the End Be Good by Tim Lebbon
Mrs. Popkin by Dan Chaon and Lynda Barry
Direct Report by Leigh Perry (Toni L.P. Kelner)
Shadow and Thirst by John Langan
Mother by Joe McKinney
The Yellow Death by Lucy A. Snyder
Last Supper by Brian Keene
Separator by Rio Youers
What Kept You So Long? by John Ajvide Lindqvist
Blue Hell by David Wellington

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22. Writers' Block Biscotti

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23. Cemetery Girl, Book Two: Inheritance by Charlaine Harris and Christopher Golden

Cemetery Girl: Inheritance
Last year, I devoured the first Cemetery Girl graphic novel, The Pretenders, in one sitting. I am not always "into" stories in which the main character has amnesia - I am impatient and want to know what happened to the character, and I also really wish I could help them/heal them/restore their memories immediately - but the quick pace of this story offered intrigue and action rather than hemming and hawing, plus I liked the full-color illustrations...and I still felt the urge to help the protagonist and learn more about her.

Today sees the release of Book Two in the Cemetery Girl trilogy, Inheritance. Here's the cover summary:

She calls herself Calexa Rose Dunhill. She has been living - hiding out - in Dunhill Cemetery ever since someone left her there to die. She has no idea who wants her dead or why, but she isn't about to wait around for her would-be killer to finish the job.

Despite her self-imposed isolation, Calexa’s ability to see spirits - and the memories she receives from them - guarantees she'll never be alone, even among the deceased. The only living people she allows herself to interact with are Kelner, the cemetery's cantankerous caretaker, and Lucinda Cameron, an elderly woman who lives in an old Victorian house across the street. With their friendship, Calexa has regained a link to the world beyond tombstones and mausoleums.

Until the night she witnesses a murder that shatters her life - a life now under a police microscope - as their investigation threatens to uncover Calexa’s true identity...

Cemetery Girl: Inheritance was written by Charlaine Harris and Christopher Golden and illustrated by Don Kramer.

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24. Now Call Me A Miserable ***** But.....

I wasn't good enough for a table at last weekends zine event in Bristol.  Apart from Mr Brown I have to say I was not made very welcome either.  And so the last thing I expected was for someone -whom I did not see take a photograph nor ask if I/we minded- to surreptitiously take a photograph while I was having a private conversation -as is obvious if you look at this.

The photo is obviously focussed on the two of us and I'm not aware of anyone asking "do you mind if-?"  As part of a crowd at an event okay but I just take this as an intrusion -especially as it is, I am told (I've not visited the unnamed Face Book page) on the event's FB page.  The organisers know me.  They know Mr Brown.  They couldn't check first with their "right on" attitude?

It is common courtesy to ask if you can take a photo of someone -and I DO NOT want people thinking I support this event.  Maybe I ought to find out who the photographer is, follow them and take photographs of him/her?

Sorry, just totally fecked off at the current crop of Small Pressers and hangers on.  You want to take a photo of me -ASK.

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25. Everyday Advocacy Challenge: Week 5 Reflections

The inaugural Everyday Advocacy Challenge (EAC) began its second half on September 29 with this Take Action Tuesday prompt:

Talk up the Everyday Advocacy initiative with a colleague.

Here’s what a few of our EAC cohort members said about the Week 5 challenge in six words or less:

  • “One of the easiest so far.”
  • “Sharing the proactive thinking.”
  • “Energizing!”
  • “Perfectly timed to coincide with newsletter.”
  • “Much easier to do!”

For Lynda Salem-Poling, the Week 5 challenge was both a fun opportunity and a great reminder of what Everyday Advocacy is all about.

Lynda writes:

This week’s challenge was to talk up the Everyday Advocacy Challenge to our colleagues. I took this opportunity to poll my co-workers to find out who was interested in learning more about ALA, as well as more about the EAC specifically. I sent out a general e-mail to all the librarians in my library system, linking to all of the ALSC blog posts, and asking if anyone was interested in participating and inviting them to contact me for more information.

The resulting conversations were fabulous and enlightening. I learned a lot about how my fellow librarians saw advocacy and their roles as advocates. And, as usual, I surprised myself by having insights while we were talking that I had never thought of before.

Talking over the EAC with my fellow librarians helped me find even more importance in doing it. Specifically, I realized the added benefit of talking to librarians from different types of public libraries from across the country, and even some “library folks” who work outside of libraries all together. One colleague pointed out that even if I never spoke to anyone about libraries again, it is good to have internalized the positive messages that I was creating.

We are now past the half-way mark, when it’s possible to suffer from a bit of burn-out, even for such a short experience. This week’s challenge was an invigorating, uplifting, reminder of how important the EAC is and how much fun.

Lynda Salem-Poling, is a librarian and supervisor at El Dorado (Calif.) Neighborhood Library. Lynda is a member of the inaugural Everyday Advocacy Challenge cohort, an 18-member volunteer group convening from September 1-October 20, 2015.

The post Everyday Advocacy Challenge: Week 5 Reflections appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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