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1. Book Review: An Ember in the Ashes

An Ember in the Ashes

by Sabaa Tahir

Told in alternating stories of two main characters on opposite sides, An Amber in the Ashes is a suspenseful exploration of the effects of violence on both the conquered and the conquerors. Set in a Rome-like fantasy world, the Scholars are a subjugated people under the rule of the Martials. Laia is a Scholar living with her brother and grandparents. When her brother is arrested on suspicion of being a member of the resistance, and her grandparents are killed violently by Martial soldiers, Laia runs away in fear. To atone for her cowardice, Laia sets out to save her brother, and goes undercover as a slave to the cruel and sadistic commander of the elite military academy Blackcliff.

Elias is a student at Blackcliff, training to become a Mask, the most elite of Martial soldiers. Although he has lived most of his life as a student under the harsh discipline at Blackcliff, Elias still sees things differently than his peers because he spent the first six years of his life outside the Martial society. Elias is determined to escape the violent society and his role as an enforcer as soon as he graduates. Then a visit from the Augurs — the Martial's version of oracles — puts a difficult choice before Elias. But can he trust the prophecy, or is he being manipulated by the Augurs?

Sabaa Tahir was inspired to write An Ember in the Ashes during her time at the Washington Post's foreign desk, when she was exposed to horrifying stories of the effects of violence on people around the world. An Ember in the Ashes is an exciting dystopian story that shows how a violent society affects everyone, from the slaves to the highest levels. Even the resistance is divided by the question of whether they have an obligation to help those of their people in need, or whether such aid detracts from their mission of fighting back against the Martials.

I had some minor credibility problems, and the plot development was occasionally awkward. I thought that the addition of supernatural characters like djinn was an unnecessary device that muddies the waters. The augurs were fine and really drive the plot in many ways, but the djinn and other spirits made it start to feel like everything was thrown in, including the kitchen sink.

This isn't a subtle book: the message about the effects of violence is hammered pretty hard. However, as I write this in a Baltimore (and a nation) trying to figure out how to police our communities without unnecessary violence by police against the people they are supposed to protect, the message really resonates.

In spite of the minor issues, I found An Ember in the Ashes to be a thrilling and highly engaging plot-driven story with loads of teen appeal, especially for fans of dystopian fiction like the Hunger Games. I can understand why it's been optioned for film already.

Diversity

Elias is described as having golden-brown skin. The identity of Elias' father is unknown, but it's likely that his skin color came from his father, since his mother is described as having pale skin. Other than that, skin color doesn't seem to play a role, although one of the more despicable characters is also described as having dark skin. The Martial empire appears to be generally diverse, with various ethnicities of people coming from the different conquered nations, although it's not significant to the plot.

Although the empire appears to be fairly patriarchal, female characters play a significant role. Besides Laia, there's Helene, who is also a student at Blackcliff and Elias' best friend. Helen is one tough cookie, in some ways one of the toughest students there. In spite of that, though, she's mostly relegated to the traditional female support role, and a subplot about an attraction leaves her acting "like a girl." There's also the female commander of Blackcliff, and several minor female characters including a cook who used to be an explosives expert.

The author is a woman of color.


Who would like this book?

Anyone who enjoys a thrilling, suspenseful plot-driven story, particularly fans of The Hunger Games and other dystopian fiction. In keeping with the theme, An Ember in the Ashes is fairly dark and violent, so sensitive readers may want to take a pass.


Buy from Powells.com:


FTC required disclosure: Review copy sent by the publisher to enable me to write this review. The bookstore links above are affiliate links, and I earn a very small percentage of any sales made through the links. Neither of these things influenced my review.

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2. nerosunero (mario sughi) back on Juxtapoz

Juxtapoz Magazine / Erotica (San Francisco, CA, USA, 5 May 2015)

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3. Bugs Bunny to Return in Direct-to-Video ‘Rabbits Run’

The classic Looney Tunes star is now a New York City cab driver.

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4. Coming Soon....

...from Tales From The Kryptonian....

Unseen D-Gruppe art.....

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5. Kathryn Huck Moves to Simon & Schuster

Simon & Schuster Image LogoKathryn Huck will serve as a senior editor at Simon & Schuster’s North Star Way.

According to the press release, North Star Way is a “a new publishing unit that will offer authors an expanded suite of profile-building, ancillary services that extend beyond the boundaries of traditional publishing.” The company announced the launch of this venture back in January 2015.

Prior to this development, Huck worked as a freelance editor. In the past, she has held editorial positions at St. Martin’s Press and HarperCollins.

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6. Tuesday - A Week in the Artist Studio

Monday officially sets the week in motion, and by Tuesday, I feel like I can best determine what kind of week it's going to be. Granted, things unexpected always happen, but this week Norah has a cold, which means a lot of play and a lot of snuggles. I need to keep my to do list simple and not expect to get everything done.

If she has a cold, I'm not too far from one, so self care (napping when she naps, eating well, etc) is just as important for me too.


Today I'm excited because I get to paint three lovely ladies sipping tea. I was going to do coffee (since I'm a coffee fanatic), but I wouldn't have been able to draw the wee tea flags that I adore so much. ^_^

Tuesdays are a day for creating. I do my best to reserve this day for painting or drawing. Sometimes if I am able, I will paint or draw Monday night to gear me up for Tuesday. Somehow that works for me.

Last night I was able to put 4 hours in (!!!) and got some Christmas art finished, and today is the reward by painting something fresh and new!


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7. The Importance of Libraries and What We Do

I've seen all types of Top Five's for different areas of education, but rarely do I see a Top Five for school libraries (or libraries in general!)  So I combed through then scoured Youtube looking for what I think are the top five videos about and for libraries and this is what I found.  My criteria were:
1. Had to be about school libraries
2. Definitely no cheesiness!  It has to have importance attached to it
3. Well done format.

So, here are the Top Four.  I searched as much as I possibly could for a fifth and couldn't find one, so if you do, please add a comment with the link! :)


School Libraries Matter: The Changing Role of the School Librarian


Principals Know: School Librarians are the Heart of the School



 School Libraries from NJASL

What Are Databases and Why You Need Them


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8. John Green Delivers Speech at Brandcast 2015

The Fault in Our Stars author John Green delivered a speech at YouTube’s Brandcast conference.

The video embedded above features Green talking about the impact that YouTube has had on his careers as a writer and a video content creator. He encourages advertisers to devote less of their focus on attracting eyeballs.

Green has posted the piece in its entirety on The Huffington Post. Here’s an excerpt: “I can say ‘Our videos have been viewed more than a billion times’ and it sounds impressive, but it’s not actually an important number to me. I don’t care how many people watch or read something I make. I care how many people love what I make.” (via TechCrunch.com)

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9. Kiera Cass and Gretchen Rubin Get Booked

The Heir Cover (GalleyCat)Here are some literary events to pencil in your calendar this week.

To get your event posted on our calendar, visit our Facebook Your Literary Event page. Please post your event at least one week prior to its date.

Pinkalicious series creator Victoria Kann will make an appearance at Books of Wonder. Meet her on Saturday, May 9th from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. (New York, NY)

Young adult author Kiera Cass will discuss her newest book, entitled The Heir, at the 92Y (Lexington Ave. branch). Join in on Saturday, May 9th starting 7:30 p.m. (New York, NY)

The next session of the Macaulay Author Series will feature a conversation between Better Than Before author Gretchen Rubin and journalist Anne KreamerCheck it out on Monday, May 11th from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. (New York, NY)

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10. Early Bidding Incentive


Place a bid on anything in the auction (see below) before Friday, and receive a PDF version of Evil Editor's History of the World in Tweets, the only history book that provides both hundreds of historical facts and explains what's so funny about them. Perfect for reading on your Kindle or iPad or monitor.

If you've already bid, or if you place a bid before Friday (win or lose), and you want this bonus prize, I will, of course, need your email address.

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11. Unconfirmed: Nick Park’s Next Feature Is Soccer-Themed ‘Early Man United’

The film could be released in 2018 in time for the FIFA World Cup.

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12. BOBBEE BEE: LOOK MAMA WE MADE IT!!!!




Look Mama We Made It is the hot single from Eric D.Graham, which comes off of his highly anticipated album Pocket Full of Ghetto Poems. For more info. contact Eric at lbiass34@yahoo.com

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13. Twitter Fiction Festival Kicks Off Next Week

Author Celeste Nghe will kick off the #TwitterFiction Festival next week as she tells a love story from a note that she found hidden in the Cambridge Public Library.

The online writing marathon will begin on Monday, May 11 at 9 a.m. The festival will feature the works of 24 #TwitterFiction Festival contest winners from seven countries and sixteen states. The five-day event will include participation from authors including: Margaret Atwood, Jackie Collins, and Lemony Snicket.

Stories will range from a thriller starring a CIA agent on the hunt for a terrorist told from multiple Twitter handles to love poetry from one Star Wars character to another in iambic pentameter. The event will also include an in-person event in New York City on May 13 in which writers and artists will live tweet stories in front of a live audience.

 

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14. Chipotle Launches Cultivating Creativity Student Essay Contest

Chipotle Essay Contest Logo (GalleyCat)Chipotle Mexican Grill has launched the Cultivating Creativity Student Essay Contest.

According to the press release, the winning entries will be published on the restaurant’s cups and bags some time in 2016. Each of the winners will receive $20,000 in prize money which will be “deposited into a 529 savings account, to support their continuing education.”

Jonathan Safran Foer, an author and the curator of this series, and Laura Esquive, a novelist and screenwriter, will serve as the judges. The submission deadline has been set for May 31st. Follow this link to submit a story.

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15. Time Management Tuesday: Keeping Your Head In The Game

I am using my May Days to put a lot of time into one project, something I've done the last two May Days. The same project, I'm sorry to say. But, once again during this May Days I am experiencing the value of trying to write every day on the same project. It's incredibly helpful for organic writers like myself. We have trouble isolating plot and planning out what we're going to do for an entire story. We deal with stories as a whole organism. If we have to stay away from that organism too long, it takes us a while to come back up to speed, because while we have a feel for our whole story, we aren't good on the details that are coming up. It's hard for us to pick up where we left off.

The May Days project forces us to write every day. For me, this meant spending some time at my laptop in a motel room between biking excursions this past weekend. Writing every day increases chances of having a breakout experience (at least it increases my chances), and I had one on a bike the next day. This led to taking notes on it while having lunch in a sandwich shop (my work for the day) and that led to a much easier transition back to work on Monday.


Whenever I find myself in a situation where I'm writing every day, even a tiny amount, I think, I've got to keep this up! Not because I accomplish so much (I did mention that I've been working on the same May Days project three years in a row, right?) but because it keeps my head in the game.

That is a huge plus for time management.



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16. Princess K.I.M. Opens May 8TH IN CALIF!


Presents 
Princess K.I.M. The Musical
OPENS MAY 8TH
Here's a teaser:


Tehachapi Community Theatre 
(Full edition- 2 Acts) 
May 8, 9, 15, 16, 22 and 23 at 7:30 pm
May 17 and 24- 2pm 
Tickets Now on Sale:

Go Cast!
XO Maryann and Princess KIM Team

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17. And To Prove A Point....

Within 30 minutes of posting about D-Gruppe and German comics -over 50 hits from Germany for that post.

Beats the heck out of me.

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18. New website

F I N A L L Y.
The new paulapertile.com is live!




It needs 'more' (mostly, art samples), and a couple of fiddly tweaks, but over all I'm pretty happy with it. I used the godaddy website builder, mostly because I have my domain name registered there already, and also had a credit. So it made sense. I wanted something simple, and I like the scroll-down design rather than fancier bells and whistles. I went with the business site option, which lets you have a lot of pages. They have several templates you can choose from, and I chose the "Freelance Portfolio" one - and then completely changed it (of course). Its all 'drag-and-drop' and really easy to use. They give you a lot of options for little design-y things (I got so excited over the 'make rounded corners' thingy!), most of which I didn't even use. So I would recommend this. (*godaddy is not paying me to say any of this, by the way)

Besides the business option, they have a simple and inexpensive 5 page option, and also upgrades for SEO optimizing, as well as a store-builder. It can add up, but they have sales often so I plan to wait for one of those before I sign up for anything else.

There are so many options for website building software these days. Squarespace, Weebly, Wix, come to mind. They're all beautiful and modern and fancy and hip. I kind of like the idea of not being so trendy though, and sticking with something a little more classic. It fits my style. 



Another really good thing with this is that its mobile-friendly! (All those other options I listed are too, I'm sure.) I looked at my old site on my phone and it was microscopic. The godaddy website builder lets you preview how your site will look on a desktop and a phone as you go along, so you know exactly what you're doing. On a phone, it arranges all the images in a single file 'up and down' scrolling thing, which are sometimes a little out of sync with how they're arranged on the page, but its still 100% better than what I had before, so I'm fine with it.




Full disclosure: there are a couple of things I'm not 100% thrilled with, and wish I could change.

1) You're allowed 2 drop-down pages for each main page. Which is great. But. Normally, if you hover over a page title that has drop-down choices, you just pick one of those and go to that page. With this design, the main title page is also 'clickable', and is still a stand alone page by itself. So you need to have stuff on there as well as the drop down pages, which feels a little redundant, and I'm not sure how to get around that. (Like, if you hover over "Children's Books", "Color" and "Black & White" pages come up as the drop down options. I think most people would just click on one of those, and not the actual main page - does that make sense?).

2) Another thing is, the way I designed my pages, every element - image, or type - is independent, and can be dragged around to go anywhere on the page. Which I love! But, when I decide to update the site with new work, which will go on the top of the page, I'll have to rearrange the whole rest of the page downward, one piece at a time, rather than selecting the whole lot and dragging it as one thing. Pretty sure anyway. There might be some way to do it easier that I haven't figured out yet, so don't quote me on this.

Still, I'm super happy to have this done, and it will be fun to update things and fiddle around with it as I go. I know several people who are re-doing their websites right now. It must be "website re-design season"! Its soooooooooooooooooooo much easier now than it used to be - remember using (or trying to use) Dreamweaver or . . . what was the other one? Go Live, that was it. Blimey! I never did figure those out.

Please let me know if you find any links that don't work, or if anything feels clunky or 'off' or weird.
Happy Website Building!

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19. IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF CRAZY HORSE by Joseph Marshall III

Joseph Marshall III is an enrolled member of the Sicangu Lakota (Rosebud Sioux) tribe. Born and raised on the Rosebud Sioux reservation, he is the author of several books about Lakota people. Last year, I read his The Journey of Crazy Horse: A Lakota History. I highly recommend it. In 2011, Marshall's book was selected for the One Book South Dakota project. Over 2400 Native high school students in South Dakota were given a copy of it. How cool is that? (Answer: very cool, indeed!)

Yesterday, I finished his In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse. First thing I'll say? Get it. Order it now. It won't hit the bookstores till later this year, but pre-order it for your own kids and your library. Like The Journey of Crazy Horse, it provides insights and stories that you don't get from academic historians.

To my knowledge, there is nothing like it for kids. Some of the reasons I'm keen on it?

First, it is set in the present day on the Rosebud Sioux reservation. Regular readers of AICL know that I think it is vitally important that kids read books about Native people, set in the present day. Such books provide Native kids with characters that reflect our existence as people of the present day, and they help non-Native kids know that--contrary to what they may think--we weren't "all killed off" by each other, by White people, or by disease, either.

Second, the protagonist, Jimmy McClean, is an eleven-year old Lakota boy with blue eyes and light brown hair. Blue eyes? Light brown hair?! Yes. His dad's dad was White. Those blue eyes and light brown hair mean he gets teased by Lakota kids and White ones, too.

Third, it is a road trip book! I love road trips. Don't you? In this one, his grandfather (his mom's dad) takes him, more or less, in the footsteps of Crazy Horse. Along the way, he learns a lot about Crazy Horse, who--like Jimmy--had light brown hair. When his grandfather is in storytelling mode, giving him information about Crazy Horse, the text is in italics.

Fourth, Jimmy's mom is a Head Start teacher! That is way cool. My little brother and my little sister went to Head Start! When I was in high school, I'd cut school and volunteer at the Head Start whenever I could. But you know what? I can't think of a single book I've read in which one of the characters is a head start teacher, but for goodness sake! Head Start is a big deal! It is reality for millions of people. We should have books with moms or dads who work at Head Start!

Fifth, Jimmy's grandfather imparts a lot of historical information as they drive. At one point, Grandpa Nyles asks him if he's heard of the Oregon Trail. Jimmy says yes, and his grandpa says (p. 29):
"Before it was called the Oregon Trail, it was known by the Lakota and other tribes as Shell River Road. And before that, it was a trail used by animals, like buffalo. It's an old, old trail." 
I love that information! It tells readers that Native peoples were here first, and we had names for this and that place.

Sixth, they visit a monument. His grandpa tells him that the Lakota people call it the Battle of the Hundred in the Hands, and that others call it the Fetterman Battle or the Fetterman Massacre. They read the inscription on the monument. See the last line? It reads "There were no survivors." That is not true, his grandpa tells him. Hundreds of Lakota and Northern Cheyenne survived that battle. It is a valuable lesson, for all of us, about perspective, words, who puts them on monuments, why those particular ones are chosen, etc.

Last reason I'll share for now is that Marshall doesn't soft pedal wartime atrocities. Through his grandfather, Jimmy learns about mutilations done by soldiers, and by Lakota people, too. It isn't done in a gratuitous way. It is honest and straightforward, and, his grandfather says "it's a bad thing no matter who does it."

The history learned by reading In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse and the growth Jimmy experiences as he spends time on that road trip with his grandfather make it invaluable.

In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse, with illustrations by Jim Yellowhawk, is coming out in November from Amulet Books (an imprint of Abrams). Pitched at elementary/middle grade readers, I highly recommend it.


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20. Arctic Adventure

via Mythwood - The Art of Larry MacDougall http://ift.tt/1JoJEWJ

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21. Unconfirmed: Nick Park Is Making Soccer-Themed Film ‘Early Man United’

The film could be released in 2018 in time for the FIFA World Cup.

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22. New Adult Fiction Genre - Contemporary Romance - #WriteTip



There is a new genre emerging..."New Adult" fiction for older teens aka college-aged readers. You never stop growing up, but little in the market seems to address the coming-of-age that also happens between the ages of Nineteen to Twenty-six. Life changes drastically once high school is over, you have college, first jobs, first internships, first adult relationships…

Part of the appeal of NA is that the storylines are about characters who are taking on adult responsibilities for the first time without guidance from their parents. And the storylines generally have a heavy romance element. 

Keep this in mind as you revise your wonderful story, New Adult books are mostly about that specific time in every person's life—the time when the apron strings are cut from your parents, you no longer have a curfew, you're experiencing the world for the very first time, in most cases, with innocent eyes. New Adult is this section of your life where you discover who you want to be, what you want to be, and what type of person you will become. This time defines you. This is the time of firsts, the time where you can't blame your parents for your own bad choices. 


An NA character has to take responsibility for their own choices and live with the consequences. Most storylines are about twenty-something (18 to 26) characters living their own lives without any parents breathing down their necks, and learning to solve things on their own as they would in real life. New Adult fiction focuses on switching gears, from depending on our parents to becoming full-fledged, independent adults.

I am a firm believer that if you’re going to write a certain genre that you should read it, too. So I’m going to recommend that you start devouring NA novels to get a real sense and understanding of the genre before you write one.

Here are some great recommendations: https://www.goodreads.com/genres/new-adult-romance and http://www.goodreads.com/genres/new-adult and https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/new-adult-romance
 

Just as YA is fiction about teens discovering who they are as a person, New Adult (NA) is fiction about building your own life as an actual adult. As older teen readers discover the joy of the Young Adult genres, the New Adult—demand may increase. This, in turn, would give writers the chance to explore the freedom of a slightly older protagonist (over the age of 18 and out of high school, like the brilliant novel, "BEAUTIFUL DISASTER" by the amazing talents of author, Jamie McGuire) while addressing more adult issues that early 20-year-olds must face.

Older protagonists (basically, college students) are surprisingly rare; in a panel on YA literature at Harvard’s 2008 Vericon, City of Bones author talked about pitching her novel, then about twenty-somethings, as adult fiction. After several conversations, Clare realized she had to choose between adults and teens. She went with teens.

Quote from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press: We are actively looking for great, new, cutting edge fiction with protagonists who are slightly older than YA and can appeal to an adult audience. Since twenty-somethings are devouring YA, St. Martin’s Press is seeking fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult—a sort of an “older YA” or “new adult.” In this category, they are looking for spunky but not stupid, serious but not dull, cutting-edge, supernatural stories.

Quote from Georgia McBride, author (Praefatio) and founder of #YALitChat and publisher at Month9Books: "New Adult is a fabulous idea in theory, and authors seem to be excited about it. But in a world where bookstores shelf by category, to them, it is either  Adult or Young Adult. Some booksellers even call their YA section “teen.” And when you have a character who is over a certain age (19 seems to be the age most consider the start of New Adult), it is received as Adult. In some cases, the designation by publishers causes more confusion than not.
Let’s face it, YA is associated with teens, and at 19, most no longer consider themselves teens. So, it would support the theory of placing these “New Adult” titles in the Adult section. However, with the prevalence of eBook content, it would seem that the powers that be could easily create a New Adult category if they really wanted to...."

There’s also a list on goodreads of New Adult book titles. These books focus on college age characters, late teens to early twenties, transitioning into the adult world.

Some popular authors of the NA category include:
  • Jamie McGuire
  • Jessica Park
  • Tammara Webber
  • Steph Campbell
  • Liz Reinhardt
  • Abbi Glines
  • Colleen Hoover 
  • Sherry Soule
http://www.wattpad.com/story/29486760-irresistible-mistake-new-adult-romantic-suspense


Would you buy New Adult books? 
Does the genre appeal to you? 

Does it sound better than YA (teen novels)? 
 
Or are you happy with YA as it stands?

Do you consider YA to include characters that are over the age of eighteen? 
 

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23. Not the Avengers of librarianship. Thoughts on the DPLA/White House/FirstBook/IMLS/ALA thing

It could have been the Avengers of librarianing. All these powerhouses working together to help increase low-income childrens’ access to good reading material. But I don’t think that’s how it worked out. Here are my thoughts on last week’s press releases about this new set of programs. Written for The Message.

Aren’t libraries already doing that?

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24. University of Chicago Spanish–English Dictionary app [SALE]

Untitled

Coinciding with the celebration of Cinco de Mayo and for a very limited time, the good folks behind the University of Chicago Spanish–English Dictionary (Sixth Edition) app have dropped the price to $0.99 (usually $4.99). You can a basic screenshot of the app’s functionality above—from breezing through recent reviews, it seems like the app’s ability to generate words lists, along with its word-by-word notetaking feature, has proven especially popular.

From the App Store description:

The Spanish–English Dictionary app is a precise and practical bilingual application for iPhone® and iPod touch® based on the sixth edition of The University of Chicago Spanish–English Dictionary. Browse or search the full contents to display all instances of a term for fuller understanding of how it is used in both languages. Build your vocabulary by creating Word Lists and testing yourself on terms you need to master with flash cards and multiple choice quizzes. Whether you are preparing for next week’s class or upcoming international travel, this app is the essential on-the-go reference.

You can watch a demo of the app here:

 

The app is, of course, a companion to the (physical book) sixth edition of the University of Chicago Spanish–English Dictionary, praised by Library Journal as, “comprehensive in scope, but simple enough to use for even the most tongue-tied linguist.” Limited time means limited time, so if you’re looking for an “an important contribution to update the traditional dictionary to the new digital era,” visit the App Store today.

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25. Reader and Writer Share Spotlight in Stellar ‘Maggie’ Review

Prolific voice actress Tavia Gilbert and first-time author Grant Overstake share the spotlight in a 4.5-star review of the audiobook version of Maggie Vaults Over the Moon.  The reader and writer make “a great duo” according to reviewer Kira Moody, … Continue reading

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