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Results 26 - 50 of 151,815
26. Mr Stransky -Hope All Is Well?

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27. REVEILLE II 2015

I know a few of those who visit CBO are wargamers so, here's some info on an event in November and I may just go to enjoy myself and ease into retirement!
Lincombe Barn Wargames Society
Sunday 29th November 10.00-4.00pm
According to Miniature Wargames, Reveille is a fine example of a local wargaming show. It is a friendly event, packed with traders, games and a bring & buy. There are always multiple participation games to join in

It's at the same venue as always, Lincombe Barn Folk House, Overndale Road, Downend, Bristol, BS16 2RW

Entry prices : Adults £3, Concessions £1.50 (under 18s, OAPs).
The show is currently raising money for the Battlegames Combat Stress Appeal. Money is raised through the entry fee, a raffle and other donations. 

Combat Stress is the UK's leading charity specialising in the treatment and support of British Armed Forces Veterans who have mental health problems.

Mental ill-health affects ex-Service men and women of all ages, and currently Combat Stress is supporting over 5,000 Veterans aged from 20 to 101, providing a vital lifeline for these men and women, and their families.

The treatment and support services they provide are always free of charge, and are proven to work, for more details visit their site at: www.combatstress.org.uk

Regular Trader include:
The traders for 2014 are:
* Magister Militum - The home of over 9,160 wargames products for wargamers everywhere, from Akkadians to Zulus, Tanks to U-boats, aircraft to orcs we have thousands of products in various scales - www.magistermilitum.co.uk
 * The Square - 10mm flags, resin casts, 10mm figures and more. - www.thesquare-wargames.co.uk
 * The Scene - excellent resin scenery, painted and unpainted. - www.thesceneuk.com
 * Grubby Tanks/Britannia Miniatures - 20mm WW2 vehicles and figures. - www.grubbytanks.com
 * Minimi Miniatures - high quality range of affordable WWII 20mm vehicles and 20mm / 15mm terrain for wargamers. Now sell a fine range of 28mm Pirate ships. - www.minimi.co.uk
 * Reinforcements - selling a large collection of 20mm tanks & vehicles as well as other items - www.reinforcements.org.uk
 * Clockwork Goblin - War without end figures in 15mm and 28mm - http://www.clockworkgoblinminis.co.uk/
* Last Man Last Bullet - Scenery from 6mm to 40mm. - http://www.lastmanlastbullet.co.uk/
 * History of Wargaming Project - re-publishing classic Wargaming books. - www.wargaming.co
* Scarab Miniatures - produce 28mm and 1/48th scale model soldiers for wargamers, collectors and model makers. - http://scarabminiatures.com
* Glenbrook Painting Services - a painting service to gamers and collectors, from 10 to 54mm - Glenbrook Painting Service
 * Angel Barracks - 6mm SciFi figures, scenery and rules - http://angelbarracks.co.uk
 * Orange Square Games - Dystopian Wars, Infinity, Malifaux etc - http://squareorangegames.co.uk/
*  Instant Armies - All ranges of painted and unpainted figures.
* Ironclad Miniatures - Manufacture high quality models for wargaming in a variety of scales including 15mm, 20mm and 25mm amongst others. - http://www.ironcladminiatures.co.uk/ 
* Area 51 - Bristol's premier comics and games store and specialising in all things related - http://area51online.co.uk/    
* Warlord Games  -  Plastic, resin and metal historical figures - http://www.warlordgames.com/
* Forlorn Hope - High-quality 28mm miniatures for wargamers, painters, modelers and collectors - http://www.forlornhopegames.co.uk/
* Stonewall Figures - Stonewall Figures provide their popular painted Battalion packs all over the world - http://www.stonewallfigures.co.uk
* Great Escape Games - Dead Man's Hand, Rules of Engagement and Clash of Empires - http://www.greatescapegames.co.uk/
 Bring and Buy
Your chance to flog those items you never quite finished and grab yourself a bargain too. Please bag your sales into a small number of big lots rather than many tiny lots. This means we can total up your money quickly and the chance of error is minimized. People expect bargains so price your items to sell. Save yourself loads of time at the show by printing off your 'Bring and Buy' form. Just click on the link, press the 'Print' button to print it and then press the 'Back' button to return here.
Here is the Bring and Buy Form and the Bring and Buy Form continuation sheet should you need it.
Travel directions
* Car: On the M4 motorway exit at J19 onto the M32. Exit immediately at Junction 1 of the M32. At the bottom of the sliproad go left, straight on through the Hambrook traffic lights, then bear right (signposted Downend) at the roundabout, turn first right after the Cleevewood shops.
* Train: Bristol Temple Meads or Bristol Parkway (closer).
* Buses: The timetables for buses in Bristol can be found at www.firstgroup.com.

Please Note:
A small part of the premises are not fully accessible to those with mobility problems due to a flight of stairs. Therefore we will make no charge for entry to the show for those with such difficulties.
Local amenities
Cashpoint: Lloyds, HSBC and the Co-op all in Badminton Rd, Downend.
Pubs: Green Dragon (Badminton Rd), Beaufort Hunt, Horseshoe, White Swan (Downend Rd), Sandringham Arms(Quakers Road).
Shops: Somerfield (Cleeve Hill Extension), Threshers (Overndale Road), the Co-op (Badminton Road), the Post Office (Quakers Road).

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28. Somewhere There Is Still A Sun

Somewhere There Is Still A Sun. Michael Gruenbaum and Todd Hasak-Lowy. 2015. 384 pages. [Source: Library]

Looking to read a memoir of the holocaust? Michael Gruenbaum has teamed up with Todd Hasak-Lowry to write Somewhere There Is Still A Sun. This memoir is not reflective. In fact, it is actually written in present tense, first person present. I must admit that took a bit of getting used to on my part. In a way, it almost seems unnatural. But. It wasn't a distraction either. I did not stay focused on the mechanics of how it was written for long. I did get swept up in the narrative. And with good reason, it is compelling and intense.

There is an innocence to the narrator, to Misha, for he is as sheltered as he possibly can be as a Jew living in a Nazi-occupied country. That is, Misha hasn't really grasped how life-and-death the situation is. Misha is still focused on life, on things like playing soccer and going to the movies. His mother and older sister seem to be keeping some things from him, for better or worse. And these things don't come to the reader's attention until the author's note. (Do all readers read authors' notes? I do. But I'm not sure everyone does.) Because of Misha's innocence, many readers may know more than he does. (Though maybe not all readers. I don't want to presume that every single reader will have read five or six holocaust books by the time they come across Somewhere There Is Still A Sun.) It is an interesting position to be put in as a reader, to know more than a character.

Misha's memoir focuses on his time in a Jewish ghetto in Prague, and, in Terezin. Terezin is still relatively new to me to read about, so I found this one fascinating. For example, Misha takes part in one or two of the plays held in Terezin.

What I appreciated the most about Somewhere There Is Still A Sun is the focus on relationships--the bonds between characters. Misha is separated from his mother and sister for many years. He is one of many assigned to a room. (I want to say that forty young boys shared a room?) Relationships matter in books, and it really gives one a complete story.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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29. Critique Group Sandwich

A popular method of critiquing is the sandwich: what you liked about the text, what you think needs more work, and what you liked again.


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30. Fat Boy One Is Down!!!!!

Seriously.  I took photos of various scenarios using action figures and toys and each chapter of Fat Boy One Is Down!!!!! would be based around a photo pulled out at random.

In this one I am sure some of you will recognise King Kong from that bloody awful recent version (I have a much better Great Ape figure than this one but....).  The Peg Doll "Fat Boy" was made by brother Michael or Marie -?  Part way through the action it gets replaced by a not so Fat Boy One!

Will it ever appear?

Not in this country.  But if Ben Dilworth draws it...!!

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31. Evolt Sale: Feral Curse & Diabolical for $1.99

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Spooky fantastic news! E-book editions of Diabolical and Feral Curse (both Candlewick) are on sale this monthly only; see E-volt for more information.


When "slipped" angel Zachary and his werewolf pal, Kieren, are summoned under suspicious circumstances to a mysterious New England boarding school, they quickly find themselves in a hellish lockdown with an intriguing assortment of secretive, hand-picked "students."

Plagued by demon dogs, hallucinatory wall decor, a sadistic instructor, and a legendary fire-breathing monster, will they somehow manage to escape? Or will the devil have his due?

Best-selling author Cynthia Leitich Smith offers a fascinating cast of characters for a suspenseful, action-packed clash between the forces of heaven and hell.

"...full force on the fires of hell 
and the sword power of heaven."
—The Horn Book
"A blend of romance, action and horror, 
this distinguishes itself from the crowd of paranormal teen fare 
with the employ of plenty of camp and a healthy dose of dry humor."
—Kirkus Reviews

See excerpt and media kit.

Through the Ashes
Feral Curse


New York Times best-selling author Cynthia Leitich Smith’s thrilling Feral series delivers danger, romance, and suspense in an all new action-packed adventure.

The adopted daughter of two respectable human parents, Kayla is a werecat in the closet. All she knows is the human world.

When she comes out to her boyfriend, tragedy ensues, and her determination to know and embrace her heritage grows. 

Help appears in the lithe form of sexy male werecat Yoshi, backed up by Aimee and Clyde, as the four set out to solve the mystery of a possessed antique carousel while fielding miscast magic, obsessive strangers, and mounting species intolerance.

Fans will go wild for this rousing Feral adventure.

"Campy humor is paired with themes of social justice in this fast-paced...volume....
A neat, smart middle novel that clearly sets the stage for an epic showdown 
between those who champion the rights of shifters and those blind to their humanity."
-Kirkus Reviews
"...as kooky a cast of supernatural characters as ever...
but they’re all relatable in various ways and easy to root for.
Debut character Kayla—level-headed, religious, 
but also quietly proud of her shifter nature—holds her own, 
nicely complementing Yoshi’s swagger,
Wild Card shifter Clyde’s newfound confidence, 
and human Aimee’s resourcefulness."
-The Horn Book

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32. Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton

Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton  bu Don Tate Peachtree, 2015 ISBN: 978-1-56145-825-7 Grades K-5 The reviewer received a galley from the publisher. Earlier this year Louise reviewed The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch written by Chris Barton and illustrated by Don Tate. Peachtree recently published a gorgeous picture book biography written and illustrated by Don Tate. Poet: The

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33. Collected Fiction by Leena Krohn

The most peculiar property of language is its symbolic function. The writer exchanges meanings for marks, while the reader performs the opposite task. There are no meanings outside us, or if there are, we do not know them. Personal meanings are made with our own hands. Their preparation is a kind of alchemy. Everything that we call rationality demands imagination, and if we did not have the capacity to imagine, we could not even speak morality or conscience.

—Leena Krohn, "Afterword: When the Viewer Vanishes"
Ann and Jeff VanderMeer have done wonders for the availability of contemporary Finnish writing in English with their Cheeky Frawg press, and in December they will release their greatest book yet: Collected Fiction by Leena Krohn.

I've been a passionate fan of Leena Krohn's work ever since I first read her book Tainaron ten years ago. I sought out the only other translation of her writings in English available at the time, Doña Quixote & Gold of Ophir, and was further impressed. I read Datura when Cheeky Frawg published it in 2013. It's all remarkable work.

Collected Fiction brings together all of those books, plus more: The Pelican's New Clothes (children's fiction from the 1970s, just as entrancing as her adult work later), Pereat Mundus (which I've yearned to read ever since Krohn mentioned it when I interviewed her), some excerpts and stories from various books published over the last 25 years, essays by others (including me) that give some perspective on her career, and an afterword by Leena Krohn herself.

This book is as important a publishing event in its own way as New Directions' release earlier this year of Clarice Lispector's Complete Stories. It's a similarly large book (850 pages), and though not Krohn's complete stories, it gives a real overview of her career and provides immeasurable pleasure.

Leena Krohn
One of the wonders of this collection is just how big it is. I keep jokingly referring to it as KROHN!, and not just because of Jeremy Zerfoss's gorgeous cover, but because this is a doorstop of a book that collects the work of someone whose writing might often be described as delicate, miniature tales. Her books don't tend to be especially long, and even her novels are built of miniatures. But now we can hold this huge collection of decades of writing and its solidity is stunning.

In a helpful overview of the first thirty years of Krohn's writing (1970-2001) included here, Minna Jerman writes: "Gold of Ophir is constructed in such a way that you could easily read its chapters in any order, and have a different experience with each different sequence." This is true for most of Krohn's novels, it seems to me, and is another virtue of her writing, something that makes it feel so different from so many other books, so truly strange, and yet so captivating, like a puzzle that isn't especially insistent about its puzzle-ness — or, to quote the great John Leonard, it embodies "Chaos Theory, with lots of fractals."

This is what I want to tell you, then: Reader, you should get this book at the first opportunity and you should spend a year (at least!) reading through it in whatever order you feel like, letting it be a magical, mind-warping cabinet of curiosities, a wonderbox of a book. You should not devour Leena Krohn's writing. Savor it, take it in in small bits, because there are so many glorious small bits here. Why rush? This is rich, rich material. Just as no rational person would ever guzzle a truly fine scotch, so you should sip from Krohn's fountain of dreamwords.

And this is what I want to tell you, O Writerly Types: This book is a gift to you, a tome of possibilities. Stop writing like everybody else. We don't need you to make your vision fit into the airport bookstore shelves. Those shelves are full. We need more writers who will do what Leena Krohn has done, who will seize language as a tool for dreaming back toward consciousness, who will find forms that fit such dreaming, who will not replicate the conventions of now but instead reconfigure their own conventions until they seem inevitable. Learn from this book, O Writers. Let it inspire you to write in your own new ways, your own new forms, your own truthful imaginings.

In a trance, his hand already numb and senseless, accompanied by the rustle of the rain and the croaking of frogs, Håkan was taken through the eras toward the wondrous time when he did not yet exist.
—Leena Krohn, Pereat Mundus: A Novel of Sorts

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34. Ten Bookish Things I Want to Quit...

From Becca's Shelves... Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke & The Bookish.  This week's topic is Top Ten Bookish Things I Want to Quit, aka the ten book series I think I'm going to abandon. Key word being *think*. Because since I'm such a moody reader, I might just get the urge to go ahead and finish them. Who knows?  Partials (Partials Sequence series) by Dan Wells - I know I

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35. Putin Says.....

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36. Oreo

cover artOreo by Fran Ross. Completely and delightfully meshuganah! Remember how excited I was about the beginning? How I wondered if it could possibly keep up for an entire novel? Or would it get old fast? The hilarity remains high throughout and not once does it get old or irritating. In fact, it is continually surprising.

Christine Clark, the offspring of a black mother and Jewish father, is raised by her black grandparents because her father abandoned the family after her brother was born and her mother is constantly traveling. Oreo is Christine’s nickname. It was supposed to be “oriole” but no one could understand her grandmother’s deep and peculiar southern accent and they all thought she said “Oreo.” Of course the name has a double meaning. It is a cookie, but it is also an insult for people who appear to be black but act white. Christine may be called Oreo but an oreo she is not.

What she is is a whip smart, linguistically talented, self-confident, take charge and take no crap young woman. The story is a kind of coming of age quest feminist satire. Christine is Theseus gone in search of her father who has left her clues. She overcomes obstacles, performs deeds, faces dangers, and makes her way through the labyrinth that is the New York City subway system. She finds her father but the story’s end is not one in which our heroine is richly rewarded as Theseus was. This is not that kind of story. Stereotypes and expectations must be subverted, and are.

A big part of the pleasure of this book is the language itself. I am going to have to find a way to work I had “more fun than a tornado in a trailer park” into a conversation some time. It is filled with Yiddish and black vernacular and a made up language and standard English and southern something or other, and puns and puzzles and jokes and word play of all sorts:

As Oreo walked up the street, she saw a pig run squealing out of a doorway, a bacon’s dozen of pursuers pork-barreling after it.

Oreo is sadly Ross’s only novel. It was first published in 1974 to very little notice. Ross worked as a freelance editor and writer, wrote articles for magazines, worked as a proofreader and copyeditor for a couple big publishers and was part owner of a mail order educational supply company. In 1977 she moved to Los Angeles to work as a comedy writer for The Richard Pryor Show. The show did not last long and Ross returned to New York. She died of cancer in 1985 at the age of fifty.

I can understand why Oreo did not get much attention in 1974. It was far ahead of its time and the places that did review it were not sure what to make of it. Thank goodness for independent publishers, because time has finally caught up with the book and New Directions has done us all a service in reprinting it.

I haven’t really told you all that much about the book, but I am not certain I could really do it justice even if I went on and on about it. It is one of those books you have to experience for yourself. Don’t expect realist fiction and well-rounded characters. Don’t expect a linear plot, heck don’t expect much plot at all. Do expect much absurdity, mayhem, and lampooning of everyone and everything. Oh, and expect to giggle, chuckle, guffaw, and laugh out loud.

Filed under: Books, Reviews Tagged: Fran Ross

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37. Merkel Says.....

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38. Interview with Jen K. Blom, author of 'New Pony Day!'

Jen K Blom is an international award-winning author living in Berlin, Germany with her daughter, husband and hairless cat Yoda. Visit www.pony101.de to get all sorts of great updates and activity sheets featuring Josie, Floki and Pasta!

Her latest book is the children’s picture book, New Pony Day!

For More Information
    Welcome to Mayra's Secret Bookcase, Jen! Did you always want to be a writer?

    Always did! Wrote my first poem at 5, and carried on from there. Took a long time to get to this point but definitely, definitely worth it!

    Tell us about your recent release. What was your inspiration for it?

    My recent release is NEW PONY DAY, a picture book about a little girl and her quest to find the perfect pony – who was there all along * spoiler!

    My daughter is the inspiration for this series.

    The process began over two years ago with a glimmer of an idea for my daughter (who was then 3). She adores horses, but had problems understanding certain things about them. Josie (then Heba) and her pony Floki (then Nosy) popped in my head, but it took a visit to the Sharjah Children’s Book Festival as a featured author to make me realize: I could make this book myself. Now, for her. While she was young. And so it happened!

    It took awhile to decide on the format, whether I would submit to trad pubs or not, but in the end I had a shiny new book. It was definitely one of the more satisfying experiences of my life – and not only because I recently read her the final version with pics and she loved it.

    Tell us about your children's books.

    The PONY101 series is my first picture book series, and is targeted towards horse-crazy kids that also want to learn great facts about horses. It fills a great gaping hole in the marketplace, as well: there is no real series about a horse and a kid out there – especially not one that covers the theatrical (ALIEN VS PONY) as well as the more mundane (IT’S GROOMING DAY – coming soon).

    I am a hybrid author, which means I have been published traditionally (POSSUM SUMMER and OUT OF THE WILD, with an agent for my middle grade books) as well as indie for the picture books. So far, I’m really enjoying my indie experience.

    Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your works?

    I do! www.pony101.de is a combined blog/website with lots of interesting facts, a blog, and activity sheets. I’m working on a special site there just for kids that read the books, but that might take a bit to finish. J

    What are you working on now?

    I am presently working on the second book’s illustrations in the series, ALIEN VS PONY. We had a vote to see which would come first (I was all for the grooming one, but was overruled. Because aliens!)


     About the Book:

    Title: New Pony Day!
    Author: Jen K. Blom
    Publisher: Jen K. Blom
    Pages: 28
    Genre: Children’s Picture Book

    Today’s the day Josie gets her new pony – if she can find him, that is! Her cat Pasta’s along for the ride, too, but there’s no telling if he’ll help or not – he’s a cat!

    For More Information

    Book Excerpt:

    My name is Josie and I'm happy as I can be. 

    My kitty Pasta and I have a job just our size, you see. 

    Today’s the day I choose my pony.

    All mine. Only for me me ME!

    I’ll know him when I see him! 

    I KNOW I will. Only…

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    39. Cameron Says.......well.....

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    40. #747 – ROAR! by Julie Bayless

    Roar! Written and illustrated by Julie Bayless Running Press Kids     10/13/2015 978-0-7624-5750-2 32 pages      Age 4—8 “It is nighttime in the savanna, which means that it is time to play for one rambunctious lion cub! The cub tries to make new friends with the hippos and the giraffes, but roaring at …

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    41. Obama Says....

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    42. Build Your Library's Capacity to Engage Teens through Connected Learning

    Want to offer more hands-on learning opportunities for and with the teens in your community?  3D Systems Corp., in partnership with YALSA, is giving away up to 250 3D printers to members of YALSA.  Learn more and apply online by Oct. 30th.  Are you not a YALSA/ALA member yet?  Membership starts at $60 per year.  Contact Letitia Smith at lsmith at ala dot org, or 312.280.4390, to get the best rate and to learn about paying in installments.  And don't forget to check out all of the great maker and connected learning resources on YALSA's wiki!

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    43. It's live!! Cover Reveal: Nil On Fire by Lynne Matson + Giveaway (US/Canada)

    Hi, everyone!

    Today we're super excited to celebrate the cover reveal for NIL ON FIRE by Lynne Matson, releasing May 31, 2016 from Macmillan. Before we get to the cover, here's a note from Lynne:

    Hi YABC!! I'm Lynne Matson, author of NIL ON FIRE coming May 31, 2016  from Macmillan. I’m SO excited to share the cover for NIL ON FIRE with y'all today!

    NIL ON FIRE is the third--and final--book in the Nil trilogy. Nil is a darker place these days, and more powerful than ever. But it's also familiar, at least to the readers. So I knew the cover had to capture the new feels and yet, maintain the continuity of the series. And wow--Macmillan did an INCREDIBLE job!!!

    So before I say anything else, I’d like to thank the talented cover designers at Macmillan (April & Liz!) for making this cover beyond amazing. It fits the series--and the book itself--perfectly. The colors, the smoke, the darkness and the depth, and of course, the flames. And the tallymarks!  I can't imagine a more perfect cover.  I love it and hope y'all do too! What do you think?:)
    ~ Lynne Matson (NIL ON FIRE, Macmillan)



    Ready to see?

    Scroll, YABCers! Scroll!


































    Here it is!



    *** If you choose to share this image elsewhere, please include a courtesy link back to this page so others can enter Lynne's giveaway. Thank you! ***



    by Lynne Matson
    Release date: May 31, 2016
    Publisher: Macmillan
    ISBN: 978-1627792950
    About the Book
    Despite Rives and Skye's attempt to destroy Nil, the island remains. And back in this world, Nil won't let Skye go. Haunted by a darkness she can't ignore, Skye wrestles with Nil nightmares that worsen by the day and threaten to tear her apart. As the island grows in power, Skye fights to keep her mind intact. Soon Skye realizes that to finally break free of Nil, she must end Nil's vicious cycle once and for all--and she can't do it alone.

    Who will return to Nil, and in the end, who will survive? In this thrilling final installment of the Nil series, the stakes have never been higher: everyone's fate hangs in the balance, including Nil's own--and Nil will fight to the death. When the full force of the island is unleashed, Skye faces an impossible choice, a cruel one she'd never imagined she'd have to make. As the island's clock ticks away, one Nil truth becomes painfully clear: only one side can win.

    Losing isn't an option, but winning will cost Skye everything.
    To learn more about this book and see our review, go HERE.

    b2ap3_thumbnail_Ketterman_130313_6423web.jpgAbout the Author

    Lynne loves books--both reading and writing them. When she's not reading or writing, you can find her hanging out with her husband and their four sons, probably at the beach. At any given time, at least one of the 6 of them is up to no good.:) Lynne is the author of the Nil series: NIL and NIL UNLOCKED are out now; NIL ON FIRE releases in May of 2016.

    Twitter | Web | Facebook | Goodreads | Tumblr | Instagram | Pre-order Amazon


    Giveaway Details

    Two winners will each receive a signed copy of NIL plus a #NILtribe swag pack including a #NILtribe t-shirt. 

    Entering is simple, just fill out the entry form below. Winners will be announced on this site and in our monthly newsletter (sign up now!) within 30 days after the giveaway ends.

    During each giveaway, we ask entrants a question pertaining to the book. Here is the question they'll be answering in the comments below for extra entries:

    What do you think about the cover and synopsis?

    Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway:

    a Rafflecopter giveaway
    Read More

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    44. WRITE. SHARE. GIVE. SOL Tuesday on #TWTBlog

    It's Tuesday! Join us!

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    45. So I Hit 2 Million On Google+ But Never Knew It

    Oddly, I was looking at the stats every week or so but the views on the Google+ account has never gone up by even 1....

    Now I find out that the stats counter there has a malfunction so shows no new views though I hit 2million a couple weeks ago.

    I love the internet.

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    46. Review of the Day: The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz

    hiredgirlThe Hired Girl
    By Laura Amy Schlitz
    Candlewick Press
    ISBN: 978-0763678180
    Ages 12 and up

    Bildungsroman. Definition: “A novel dealing with one person’s formative years or spiritual education.” A certain strain of English major quivers at the very term. Get enough Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man shoved down your gullet and you’d be quivering too. I don’t run across such books very often since I specialize primarily in books for children between the ages of 0-12. For them, the term doesn’t really apply. After all, books for kids are often about the formation of the self as it applies to other people. Harry finds his Hogwarts and Wilbur his spider. Books for teenagers are far better suited to the Bildungsroman format since they explore that transition from child to adult. Yet when you sit right down and think about it, the transition from childhood to teenagerhood is just as fraught. There is a beauty to that age, but it’s enormously hard to write. Only a few authors have ever attempted it and come out winners on the other side. Laura Amy Schlitz is one of the few. Writing a book that could only be written by her, published by the only publisher who would take a chance at it (Candlewick), Schlitz’s latest is pure pleasure on the page. A book for the child that comes up to you and says, “I’ve read Anne of Green Gables and Little Women. What’s new that’s like that?”

    The last straw was the burning of her books. Probably. Even if Joan’s father hadn’t set her favorite stories to blazes, it’s possible that she would have run away eventually. What we do know is that after breaking her back working for a father who wouldn’t even let her attend school or speak to her old teacher, 14-year-old Joan Skraggs has had enough. She has the money her mother gave her before she died, hidden away, and a dream in mind. Perhaps if she runs away to Baltimore she might be able to find work as a hired girl. It wouldn’t be too different from what she’s done at home (and it could be considerably less filthy). Bad luck turns to good when Joan’s inability to find a boarding house lands her instead in the household of the Rosenbach family. They’re well-to-do Jewish members of the community and Joan has no experience with Jewish people. Nonetheless she is willing to learn, and learn she does! But when she takes her romantic nature a bit too far with the family, she’ll find her savior in the most unexpected of places.

    I mentioned Anne of Green Gables in my opening paragraph, but I want to assure you that I don’t do so lightly. One does not bandy about Montgomery’s magnum opus. To explain precisely why I referenced it, however, I need to talk a little bit about a certain type of romantically inclined girl. She’s the kind that gets most of her knowledge of other people through books. She is by turns adorable and insufferable. Now, the insufferable part is easy to write. We are, by nature, inclined to dislike girls in their early teens that play a kind of mental dress-up that’s cute on kids and unnerving on adolescents. However, this character can be written and written well. Jo in Little Women comes through the age unscathed. Anne from Anne of Green Gables traipses awfully close to the awful side, but manages to charm the reader in the process (no mean feat). The “Girl” from the musical The Fantastiks would fit in this category as well. And finally, there is Joan in The Hired Girl. She vacillates wildly between successfully playing the part of a young woman and then going back to the younger side of adolescence. She pouts over not getting a kitten, for crying out loud. Adults reading this book will have a vastly different experience than kids and teens, then. To a grown-up (particularly a grown-up woman) Joan is almost painfully familiar. We remember the age of fourteen and what that felt like. That yearning for love and adventure. That yearning can be useful to you, but it can also make you bloody insufferable. As such, adults are going to be inclined to forgive Joan very easily. I can only hope that her personality allows younger readers to do the same.

    My husband used to write and direct short historical films. They were labor intensive affairs where every car, house, and pot holder had to be accurate and of the period. It would have been vastly easier to just write and direct contemporary fare, but where’s the fun in that? I think of those days often when I read works of historical fiction. Labor intensive doesn’t even begin to explain what goes into an accurate look at history. Ms. Schlitz appears to be unaware of this, however, since not only has she written something set in the past, she throws the extra added difficulty of discussing religion into it as well. Working in a Jewish household at the turn of the century, Joan must come to grips with all kinds of concepts and ideas that she has hitherto been ignorant of. For this to work, the author tries something very tricky indeed. She makes certain that her heroine has grown up on a farm where her sole concept of Jewish people is from “Ivanhoe”, so that she is as innocent as a newborn babe. She isn’t refraining from anti-Semitism because she’s an apocryphal character. She’s just incapable of it due to her upbringing, and that’s a hard element to pull off. Had Ms. Schlitz pushed the early portion of this book any further, she would have possibly disinterested her potential readership right from the start. I have heard a reader say that the opening sequence with Joan’s family is too long, but I personally believe these sections where she wanders blindly in and out of various situations could not have worked if that section had been any shorter.

    But as I say, historical fiction can be the devil to get right. Apocryphal elements have a way of seeping into the storyline. Your dialogue has to be believably from the time and yet not so stilted it turns off the reader. In this, Laura Amy Schlitz is master. This book feels very early 20th century. You wouldn’t blink an eye to learn it was fifty or one hundred years old (though its honest treatment of Jewish people is probably the giveaway that it’s contemporary). The language feels distinctive but it doesn’t push the young reader away. Indeed, you’re invited into Joan’s world right from the start. I also enjoyed very much her Catholicism. Characters that practice religion on a regular basis are so rare in contemporary books for kids these days.

    As I mentioned, adults will read this book differently than the young readership for whom it is intended. I do think that if I were fourteen myself, this would be the kind of book I’d take to. By the same token, as an adult the theme that jumped out at me the most was that of motherhood. Joan’s mother died years before but she has a very palpable sense of her. Her memories are sharp and through her eyes we see the true tragedy of her mother’s life. How she wed a violent, hateful man because she felt she had no other choice. How she wasn’t cut out for the farm’s hard labor and essentially worked herself to death. How she saw her daughter’s future and found the means to save her (and by golly it works!). All the more reason to have your heart go out to Joan when she tries, time and again, to turn Mrs. Rosenbach into a substitute mother figure. It’s a role that Mrs. Rosenbach does NOT fit into in the least, but that doesn’t stop Joan from extended what is clearly teenaged rebellion onto a woman who isn’t her mother but her employer. Indeed, it’s Mrs. Rosenbach who later says, “I felt her wanting a mother.”

    Is it a book for a certain kind of reader? Who am I to say? It’s a book I’d hand to a young me, so I don’t think I can necessarily judge who else would enjoy it. It’s beautiful and original and old and classic. It makes you feel good when you read it. It’s thick but it flies by. Because of the current state of publishing today books are either categorized as for children or for teens. The Hired Girl isn’t really for either. It’s for those kids poised between the two ages, desperate to be older but with bits of pieces of themselves stuck fast to their younger selves. A middle school novel of a time before there were middle schools. Beautifully written, wholly original, one-of-a-kind. Unlike anything you’ve read that’s been published in the last fifty years at least, and that is the highest kind of praise I can give.

    On shelves now.

    Professional Reviews:

    Interviews: Laura speaks with SLJ about the book.


    More discussions of the book and where it came from!


    7 Comments on Review of the Day: The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz, last added: 10/6/2015
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    47. Livin' La Vida Loca: I Love the Writing Life

    I love writing for kids and working with them. But I have never (at least not as an adult) had any illusions that I could support myself working solely as a writer. This "Ah-Ha!" moment came during a banquet while I in library school, (as we called it back in the day.)

    I was graduate assistant to the children's services specialist.  (Who knows where I'd be today if I assisted the specialists in government documents or cataloging?) He had put together an all-star children's literature symposium--Ellen Raskin, Ashley Bryant, Jean Fritz--award-winning authors and illustrators all. At the banquet, I was thrilled when my boss seated me next to the brilliant Ellen Raskin.  The year before, her Figgs & Phantoms had been named a Newbery Honor book.  Her own Newbery for The Westing Game would be three years in the future.

    Always a big fan of Ms Raskin's funny, quirky books, I was thrilled to discover that the author was just like her books--funny, quirky and blunt. Too chicken to ask this Great Author anything more than to pass the salt, please, I listened as she answered the questions of our tablemates.  I learned that she had a daughter, was married to an editor at Scientific American and lived in a funny (quirky?) house on a private, gated street in Greenwich Village. Her studio on the top floor had a big skylight. (Odd the details the memory records.)

    I was ready to chuck my previous career role model, Mary Tyler Moore, and move into Ellen Raskin's seemingly perfect life.  Then someone asked "that question" which really wasn't a question.

    "So, you must be doing pretty well with your books," said a person whose name and gender is lost in time.

    Ms Raskin's fork clinked against her plate."That depends on how you define 'pretty well'," she replied.

    "I mean financially," the Person said blandly, with a smile that assumed Ellen would answer, "Oh yes, I am making buckets of money." Young, dumb me, assumed that would be the answer too.

    Ms Raskin paused, as if calculating something in her head. "Well," she said. "I have ten books in print."

    Wow! I thought. Ten books in print. She must be making a fortune. Three-story houses in Greenwich Village aren't cheap. The thought of anyone having ten books in print at the same time was simply mind-boggling.

    But Ellen was still talking.  "...and last year I made..." and named a four digit figure. Even in 1976, it was a ridiculously low amount of money. Ten books and this is all she made?  She has a Newbery Honor book for crying out loud!

    Long silence at our table. After a moment, Ellen laughed and made a comment about writers needing employed spouses. Dinner went on, but that conversation was a wake-up call for me. Now I knew what people meant went they said, "Don't quit your day job." And I didn't for a long, long time.

    Quitting my day job was not my choice. My husband's company transferred him to Thailand, a country with notoriously tough labor laws. I became a full-time writer, whether I wanted to or not. I wrote ten and twelve hours a day.  I wrote and sold My Best Friend and Yankee Girl in those years.

    Fast forward to today. I have written and published seven books, plus contributed to two YA short story anthologies. My Best Friend won both the Ezra Jack Keats and Charlotte Zolotow Awards, and is referenced in many children's literature textbooks. Yankee Girl was nominated for a dozen State Book Awards. I am extremely fortunate that all but one of these books is still in print. One, Jimmy's Stars, is only available as an e-book. For someone who is considered a mid-list author, someone who is not J.K Rowling or Suzanne Collins or Rick Riordan, I am doing really well.

    Last year, my royalties were half of what my daughter makes as a part-time waitress at Golden Corral. My very best year, royalty-wise, equalled my teaching salary when I left to get married. That was 1990, and I taught in one of the poorest school systems in my state. My very best year, in real money terms, was a lot less than my best year teaching.

    Luckily, I enjoy doing school visits and teaching. However, in the last couple of years, school budgets and curriculum have rarely accommodated author visits.  I pick up teaching/tutoring gigs here and there, mostly for homeschool groups. I've done freelance editing and worked as a private writing coach. My most reliable source of income is the Young Author's day camps I run each summer, with
    weekend workshops during the school year.
    One of my first school visits, Davis Elementary, Jackson, Ms 

        In the beginning, my non-royalty "author jobs" income equalled my royalties.  Now it surpasses it. I love working with these young writers. It's my dessert, after spending the rest of the year writing in solitude. I began with a single week camp. Now, ten years later, I  conduct writing camps for the Parks Department and local historical societies nearly every week from Memorial Day to the start of school.

    Young authors at work! Roswell, Ga, summer 2013.
    Sure, if I were still a school librarian, I'd be
    making more money. I am super lucky to be married 25 years to my best friend, who has a good job and insurance.  If my income dried up to zero, we would not be out in the streets. But I have always been a working mom. I love what I do. I can't imagine ever retiring.

    Don't forget to sign up for our latest Book Giveaway (click here) for info.  Don't miss out;  
    the deadline is October 10.

    Posted by Mary Ann Rodman

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    48. Book Trailer: Counting Crows by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Rob Dunlavey

    By Cynthia Leitich Smith
    for Cynsations

    Check out the book trailer for Counting Crows by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Rob Dunlavey (Atheneum, 2015). From the promotional copy: Counting has never been this much fun or this jazzy!

    Count along with the cool crows in this book trailer sung by Laurel Kathleen with music by Cooper Appelt.

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    49. Diversify Your Shelves with WNDB--October 5, 2015


    Contributed by Maurene Goo


    Humor often takes a backseat in YA Land. It just doesn’t get that much love compared to quirky romances about dying teens or girls running around saving the world from evil dystopian governments. Trust, I love all of the above. But as someone who peaked when meeting Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peel, there’s nothing I appreciate more than a wicked sense of humor. And I’m absolutely thrilled when I come across a good, funny YA novel. Add to that funny YA that reflect a myriad of voices that aren’t all neurotic, straight white guys? Sign this Korean American girl up.

    Here are a few personal recs for some funny YA that will most definitely diversify, and perk up, your shelf this month.

    I’ve been lucky enough to be on a few panels with Bill Konigsberg (usually about diversity or humor, go figure!) and not only is he a very sweet, funny guy but those qualities also come out in his books. Openly Straight is about an openly gay teen named Rafe who has a pretty pleasant and normal life. His parents are supportive of him (almost to a fault, they’re comically progressive types) and he gets along fine at school. But he’s tired of being the gay poster child at his high school, to be defined by his sexual orientation above all else. So he transfers to an all­ male boarding school on the other side of the country and doesn’t tell anyone he’s gay—essentially, he passes as “straight.” Witty, heartfelt, and thoughtful, Openly Straight explores the complex labels teens put on each other, and what it means to rediscover yourself.



    You had me at “vampire parody.” Team Human is a genuinely laugh­at­loud YA about a Chinese American girl named Mel who lives in a city founded by vampires. Which is unfortunate for her because she hates vampires (gotta’ love an intolerant protagonist with loads of room to grow). So when her best friend Cathy falls in love with one, Mel sets out to save Cathy from herself. Her adventure has her come across more than just one paranormal beast—the book also has a bit of zombie action and the genre mash­up is so fun. While the book’s basic premise is a parody, both vampire lovers and haters will find something to love in this hilarious, and surprisingly charming, take on the genre.




    A few years back, Lisa Yee wrote one of the most delightfully funny middle grade novels I have ever read—Millicent Min, Girl Genius. Her new YA novel, The Kidney Hypothetical, carries the same spirit as her middle grade debut. The book deals with another youthful genius, Higgs Boson Bing (yes, named after the “god particle), your classic overachiever: Harvard­bound, debate champ, boyfriend to the school’s queen bee. But when he completely fails at correctly answering his girlfriend’s hypothetical question (Would you donate a kidney for me?), his perfect life is turned upside down. The book spans a week, and Yee manages to take those seven days and turn it into a hopeful coming­of­age story about a flawed yet undeniably authentic character.


    Maurene Goo is the author of Since You Asked. She has very strong feelings about graphic design and houseplants and lives in Los Angeles. She is also a team member of We Need Diverse Books.





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    50. Biff! Crash! Cash! The 'Originality' Back Then!

    Bath Comics Mart circa (I think) 1986.  Bath Chronicle reporter thought the heading was just soooo 'original'!

    Taking place in a Scout Hall, no longer there I am told, it was trestle tables, cardboard boxes, a few makeshift signs and, believe-it-or-not, everyone there from dealers, publishers and the public talked!! Talked comics, talked zines and even music, occasionally TV and movies.

    No poseurs.  No trendy zine beatniks.

    Good comic folk and great sex.

    Uhhh. I meant "great conversation".......I am quite old.  In fact, if I EVER (and it ain't likely) that I attend another UK event I am having a name tag made that reads "Rip Van Winkle"

    And there was NO over pricing of comics -some dealers (such as David Johnson) actually GAVE me 1960s UK/US comics to lighten their load!

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