This is Gossamer, the cat who is looking for that hour we lost this morning. It might be hiding under the fridge.
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Pretty much the only thing writers love as much as books and writing is talking about books and writing. So each week (or so) here at Adventures in YA Publishing, we’ll post a question for you to answer. The questions cover all topics important to writers: craft, career, writers’ life, reading and books. Together we’ll become better writers by sharing tips and discussing our habits and practices.
Last week, my dad told me that my step-mom regularly borrows twenty or more library books a week. I asked how she can possibly read that fast, and he said that she doesn’t: if she likes the cover, she will borrow the book. When she gets home, she reads the first page, and if she likes the first page, then she reads the last page. If she finds the last page satisfying, then she will read the entire book. On average, she reads about two books a week. Which leads me to the…
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For 20 years, 14 of those in England, I’ve been giving lectures about the social power afforded to dictionaries, exhorting my students to discard the belief that dictionaries are infallible authorities. The students laugh at my stories about nuns who told me that ain’t couldn’t be a word because it wasn’t in the (school) dictionary and about people who talk about the Dictionary in the same way that they talk about the Bible. But after a while I realized that nearly all the examples in the lecture were, like me, American. At first, I could use the excuse that I’d not been in the UK long enough to encounter good examples of dictionary jingoism. But British examples did not present themselves over the next decade, while American ones kept streaming in. Rather than laughing with recognition, were my students simply laughing with amusement at my ridiculous teachers? Is the notion of dictionary-as-Bible less compelling in a culture where only about 17% of the population consider religion to be important to their lives? (Compare the United States, where 3 in 10 people believe that the Bible provides literal truth.) I’ve started to wonder: how different are British and American attitudes toward dictionaries, and to what extent can those differences be attributed to the two nations’ relationships with the written word?
Our constitutions are a case in point. The United States Constitution is a written document that is extremely difficult to change; the most recent amendment took 202 years to ratify. We didn’t inherit this from the British, whose constitution is uncodified — it’s an aggregation of acts, treaties, and tradition. If you want to freak an American out, tell them that you live in a country where ‘[n]o Act of Parliament can be unconstitutional, for the law of the land knows not the word or the idea’. Americans are generally satisfied that their constitution — which is just about seven times longer than this blog post — is as relevant today as it was when first drafted and last amended. We like it so much that a holiday to celebrate it was instituted in 2004.
Dictionaries and the law
But with such importance placed on the written word of law comes the problem of how to interpret those words. And for a culture where the best word is the written word, a written authority on how to interpret words is sought. Between 2000 and 2010, 295 dictionary definitions were cited in 225 US Supreme Court opinions. In contrast, I could find only four UK Supreme court decisions between 2009 and now that mention dictionaries. American judicial reliance on dictionaries leaves lexicographers and law scholars uneasy; most dictionaries aim to describe common usage, rather than prescribe the best interpretation for a word. Furthermore, dictionaries differ; something as slight as the presence or absence of a the or a usually might have a great impact on a literalist’s interpretation of a law. And yet US Supreme Court dictionary citation has risen by about ten times since the 1960s.
No particular dictionary is America’s Bible—but that doesn’t stop the worship of dictionaries, just as the existence of many Bible translations hasn’t stopped people citing scripture in English. The name Webster is not trademarked, and so several publishers use it on their dictionary titles because of its traditional authority. When asked last summer how a single man, Noah Webster, could have such a profound effect on American English, I missed the chance to say: it wasn’t the man; it was the books — the written word. His “Blue-Backed Speller”, a textbook used in American schools for over 100 years, has been called ‘a secular catechism to the nation-state’. At a time when much was unsure, Webster provided standards (not all of which, it must be said, were accepted) for the new English of a new nation.
American dictionaries, regardless of publisher, have continued in that vein. British lexicography from Johnson’s dictionary to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has excelled in recording literary language from a historical viewpoint. In more recent decades British lexicography has taken a more international perspective with serious innovations and industry in dictionaries for learners. American lexicographical innovation, in contrast, has largely been in making dictionaries more user-friendly for the average native speaker.
Local attitudes: marketing dictionaries
By and large, lexicographers on either side of the Atlantic are lovely people who want to describe the language in a way that’s useful to their readers. But a look at the way dictionaries are marketed belies their local histories, the local attitudes toward dictionaries, and assumptions about who is using them. One big general-purpose British dictionary’s cover tells us it is ‘The Language Lover’s Dictionary’. Another is ‘The unrivalled dictionary for word lovers’.
Now compare some hefty American dictionaries, whose covers advertise ‘expert guidance on correct usage’ and ‘The Clearest Advice on Avoiding Offensive Language; The Best Guidance on Grammar and Usage’. One has a badge telling us it is ‘The Official Dictionary of the ASSOCIATED PRESS’. Not one of the British dictionaries comes close to such claims of authority. (The closest is the Oxford tagline ‘The world’s most trusted dictionaries’, which doesn’t make claims about what the dictionary does, but about how it is received.) None of the American dictionary marketers talk about loving words. They think you’re unsure about language and want some help. There may be a story to tell here about social class and dictionaries in the two countries, with the American publishers marketing to the aspirational, and the British ones to the arrived. And maybe it’s aspirationalism and the attendant insecurity that goes with it that makes America the land of the codified rule, the codified meaning. By putting rules and meanings onto paper, we make them available to all. As an American, I kind of like that. As a lexicographer, it worries me that dictionary users don’t always recognize that English is just too big and messy for a dictionary to pin down.
Lynne Murphy, Reader in Linguistics at the University of Sussex, researches word meaning and use, with special emphasis on antonyms. She blogs at Separated by a Common Language and is on Twitter at @lynneguist.
The post How do British and American attitudes to dictionaries differ? appeared first on OUPblog.
Olga Garcia Echeverria
Splash, the mermaid romantic comedy directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks, Daryl Hannah, and John Candy, was released on 3/9/84.
Spring seems to have found us here in Georgia this weekend. While it is a simple fact that God smiles on The South sooner than the northern regions, I hold no illusions that spring is here for good. But yesterday found me in shorts cleaning up the yard. We live on a couple of wooded acres and green is beginning to peek through the gloomy brown – in my neighbor’s yard. I however was cursed with a dreaded black thumb. I follow some photography blogs displaying the most beautiful flowers from tropical locations, so I thought I would give you my best effort.
These are my gardenias. Are implies a current state of being, so I suppose I should say these were my gardenias. I don’t know what happened to them, they just shriveled up and turned brown like everything else I put in the ground. Our once vibrant hydrangeas look more like flaking twigs than actual plants. My grass – brown in every season unless you include moss and weeds. Every time I go to the orange store, I tell my friend Lou the dilemma and he recommends a plant that can’t be killed. I used to take them back with their return policy, but I’ve become embarrassed to do so anymore.
You know how God builds a perfect union from two dissimilar parts? One member of the marriage might be outgoing and the other shy, or one might be cognitive while the other is emotional. Then they join together like pieces of a puzzle and complete each other perfectly (sorry for the cheesy Jerry Maguire reference, but while I’m at it, enjoy…)
In a cruel twist of fate for botanists everywhere, my lovely bride has a matching black thumb. Potted plants seem to be a popular thank you gift here and she’s received a number of them over the years. All we have left is a bunch of pots filled with what I call soil of death. She kills indoor plants while I slay the jungle outside. Nothing is safe in our homestead. Thank you, God that we have a supermarket and don’t rely on subsistence farming. We’d all starve for sure.
So while my friends up north are mired in snow, we are seeing the sun in our little slice of heaven. Maybe it likes us because we don’t need it for photosynthesis. I don’t know, I just like wearing shorts again.
The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba of The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. This is a weekly meme where we can share news of the week and highlight new books received.
This polar bear is enjoying the snow. I am not. At least the temps were above freezing for a few days, so the dreaded stuff of my nightmares is starting to melt.
We had a thankfully uneventful week. Bumble’s intestinal woes seem to be improving – he was diagnosed with IBS. He is currently on a prescription dog food, probiotics, and medication to keep his condition under control, and so far, he is doing much better.
Check out my current contests! See the Contest Widget on the Sidebar to enter!
New Arrivals at the Café:
Kindle Paperwhite – I bought this because we are going out of town in a few weeks, and the light weight and long battery life finally made me click the buy button. Well, that, and it was $20 off last week! I’ll have a review soon – so far, I like this!
Omega Days – ZOMBIES!
Blood and Iron
The Garden of Darkness
Phantom Thief Jeanne V1
Wish You Were Italian
A great big thanks to the publishers for their continued support!
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Today I have a spotlight and giveaway for the By Invitation Only series by Kate McKinley! You can enter to win a special bound galley of all three novellas in the series!
A DUCHESS IN THE DARK (Forever Yours E-Novella; $0.99)
Miss Daphne Hayward is on the hunt for a safe, honorable husband and she has set her sights on the perfect target. She plans a full-scale seduction that will bring him to his knees, and have him begging for her hand in marriage. But when she mistakenly slips into another man’s bed, the passions that quickly ignite threaten to send her well-laid plans up in smoke.
Ashton Fitzgerald, Duke of Claymore has never been for want of a willing woman in his bed and his rakish ways have become legend in boudoirs and dark corners all across London. But not even Ashton can account for the powerful desire that surges through him when a mysterious woman pays him a clandestine midnight visit. As dawn breaks, his goddess flees before he can learn her identity. Now Ashton will stop at nothing to unmask the identity of the woman who bewitched him body and soul and make her his . . . Forever.
A COUNTESS BY CHANCE (Forever Yours E-Novella; $0.99)
A gambler’s daughter, Sophia Weatherby knows her way around a deck of cards. So when her family estate becomes threatened, she has no choice but to use her skills at the gaming tables to save herself from ruin. A lavish house party affords her the perfect opportunity-until the newly minted Earl of Huntington arrives. Adam Greyson has never forgotten the day Sophia rejected his proposal. Now to even the score, he challenges her to a shocking wager-his two thousand pounds against the one valuable commodity she has left: her virtue.
A NIGHT WITH THE BRIDE (Forever Yours E-Novella; $0.99)
While at a lavish house party, Gabriella Weatherfield confidently bets her friends that she can convince the “unseducable” Duke of Somerset to kiss her. But Gabriella’s innocent wager turns wicked when faced with the duke’s intense blue eyes and talented hands. Nicholas Montgomery usually strives to stay away from society, yet there’s no denying Gabriella’s wild beauty or the way she makes him want to lose control for once. Will the fire between them burn out when Gabriella uncovers the inner demons haunting Nicholas?
About Kate McKinley: KATE MCKINLEY writes Regency and Fantasy Romance. When she’s not staring at her screen, dreaming up delicious heroes, she’s a wife, mother and part-time assistant.
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Excerpts from the BY INVITATION ONLY series by Kate McKinley
A DUCHESS IN THE DARK
The memory of their first meeting was still vivid in his mind, and it swirled to life more often than he cared to admit. He could still remember the emerald gown she’d worn to James’s wedding, the delicate, slightly breathless look about her when James had introduced them. She was beautiful, with wide blue eyes and fiery red curls, and a smile that had stricken him silent. If she were any other woman, he’d have pursued her relentlessly, but her innocence and her connection as James’s sister-in-law had placed her far beyond his reach.
“You can’t possibly mean that.” She scrunched her face in disbelief. “Now let me go before someone catches us.”
“The door is locked. We are quite safe. Unless you wish for someone to happen upon us.” He flashed her a wicked smile.
“Of course not!” Shock looked rather fetching on her. Cheeks flushed, eyes brightened, she was a prime article indeed. Marrying her might not be quite the trial he’d feared. In fact, he rather liked the idea her filling the role as Duchess of Claymore. More than that, he liked the idea of claiming her in every way imaginable.
“Then I’d advise you to lower your voice. The whole house is liable to hear you.”
She pressed her lips together and glared.
“Now,” he said, “where were we?”
He’d had enough women to know what desire looked like and Daphne had it written all over her pretty face—she was just too afraid to admit it. The way she trembled, the way her gaze licked him from head to toe, the way her breath hitched when he drew in close. Oh yes, she was hungry for him indeed.
“I don’t believe you are unaffected by me.” He had her pressed against the bed, so she scrambled atop the mattress and faced him on her knees. “Perhaps I shall prove just how affected you are.”
“Completely unnecessary, Ashton, I assure you,” she said. “I’m perfectly willing to admit you have a certain…appeal, but it’s Edward I intend to…” Her words trailed off as he reached out and brushed a silky tendril of hair off her shoulder, exposing the mark on her neck again. His mark.
“Do you want me to leave? Say the word and I’ll go.”
Boldly, her gaze raked down his bare chest, down to his straining erection. He needed to be inside her, filling her, taking her to the very edge of ecstasy. She licked her lips and shook her head, just a slight movement, but it was all he needed. Triumph shot through him. She wanted him; she was just too frightened to admit it.
“What do you need, Daphne? Tell me.” He needed to ease her into this, seduce her with his words, his tongue, and then perhaps she’d be willing to admit the truth.
Their eyes met and held, before her gaze suddenly flicked away. “I don’t know.”
He advanced, pushing her back against the pillows. Her lips were red, plump, ripe for his kiss. He itched to tear at the fabric of her nightgown and push into her tight, welcoming heat. To bury himself inside her so deeply he’d be a part of her forever.
“Let me show you.”
A COUNTESS BY CHANCE
“Why on earth would you consent to such an outing when you clearly have no talent for riding? You would have done better to stay home.”
She stiffened, indignant. “I ride exceptionally well, thank you kindly.”
He smiled, flashing that damnable dimple in the side of his cheek. “I think we both know you can ride only marginally well. I wouldn’t even venture to call your
skills on a horse sufficient. Certainly not well enough to be traipsing through muddy fields alone.”
Her cheeks heated. How dare he! The truth of his statement was of little consequence. Her pride flared, and before she could think better of it, she said, “My skills can hardly be measured while riding such an impossible creature. This horse is unnaturally ornery. I venture to say that even you, my lord, couldn’t command her.”
“You are wrong about that, Miss Dewhurst. I can be quite persuasive when the mood strikes.” His hot gaze raked down her body, briefly stopping at her breasts, then meandering down to the V between her thighs. His lips twisted into a delicious, knowing smile. “Or don’t you remember?”
Heat surged through her like a cresting wave. Of course she remembered. One didn’t easily forget passion so potent, so unyieldingly intense.
Swallowing, she glanced away. “You seem quite sure of yourself.”
He shrugged. “I’m capable enough.”
She licked her lips. “In that case, how about a little friendly wager?”
Her father, a retired gambler, had taught his only child a great many things. First among them, strike quickly when you have the advantage. Huntington would be fortunate to get Chocolate to move, let alone run.
His lips twisted into that arrogant smirk that had never failed to annoy her. “That all depends on the prize, Miss Dewhurst.”
“Two hundred pounds says you cannot outrun me with this horse.”
With his sleek gelding, she was sure to win. And two hundred pounds would be enough to pay for her father’s medicine, and a little extra besides. She smiled sweetly.
He leaned in, his big, imposing body impossibly close. “Two thousand.”
Her breath caught. She had no hope of paying him two hundred pounds if she lost, let alone two thousand. “You know I don’t have two thousand pounds.”
It was no secret. While she and her father struggled to conceal the true desperation
of their situation, all of England knew the money—everything—was gone. Only the family estate remained, derelict and neglected, but untouched by creditors.
Boldly, he reached out and traced her lips with the tip of his finger, a barely there touch that sent shivers of awareness skipping down her spine. She should push him away. It was the proper thing to do. Instead, her eyelids fluttered closed as she absorbed his touch. It took every drop of self-control not to reach out and pull him into a deep, delicious kiss. She still remembered the feel of his lips against hers, the fierce, unrelenting need that followed in the wake of his touch.
“As it happens, you do have something I want.” His voice was low, seductive, and it reminded her of the warm afternoons they’d spent together, talking, laughing, kissing…
His hand fell away and she opened her eyes, blinking. That she had something he wanted seemed impossible. She was destitute, on the brink of ruin. She had nothing.
He leaned in closer, his warm breath brushing over her cheek, and whispered in her ear. “Two thousand pounds if you win.”
She swallowed. “And if I lose?”
“I get you.”
A NIGHT WITH THE BRIDE
“There is rumor that you are looking for a wife. Is that true?”
His gaze turned wicked. “Indeed, I am. Are you volunteering, Miss Weatherfield?”
Oh! Is that what he thought—that she had designs to become his wife? “No, no,” she said quickly. “No.” She shook her head. “I am most certainly not volunteering. No.”
He lifted a brow. “You follow me out onto the terrace, alone, your gown enticingly tight, and ask me if I am in the market for a wife.”
She glanced down at her gown and frowned. It was perhaps a little tight, but not improperly so. She looked up at him. “I am not in want of a husband, I can assure you—”
“Then what is it you want?”
She stepped forward, her gaze fixed on his mouth, mesmerized by the perfection of his lips. “A kiss.” The words slipped out, a whisper, and she blinked.
Oh, dear God, she’d said that out loud. She hadn’t meant to blurt it out so abruptly.
“Young women don’t make such admissions, and certainly not to men they’ve just met.” He laughed and the rich, heady sound made her heart flutter wildly. “Miss Weatherfield, you are playing a dangerous game.”
She swallowed. “You’re a duke of the realm and trustworthy, by all accounts.” Rumored to be mad as well, but it seemed unwise to mention that just now. “Surely I have nothing to fear from you.”
Again, not entirely true, but she was perfectly safe on a terrace, outside a house
that was filled to the brim with people. No harm would come to her, she was sure of it.
“You seem so certain, yet you know nothing of my character.” With every word, he inched closer. She took a step back, then another, until she was pressed up against the granite banister with nowhere to go. “Do you?”
She swallowed. He was so close she could smell the mint leaf on his breath, feel the intense heat of his body. “I have nothing to fear from you,” she repeated, infusing her tone with confidence she didn’t feel.
Something dark flickered in his eyes, and she felt a moment of apprehension. His gaze was intent, predatory, and her body hummed with anticipation.
He brushed a gloved finger down her bare arm, causing tingles to spread in its wake. “Don’t you?”
Yes, perhaps she did. This man was quite dangerous, in all the most tantalizing ways. Those intense blue eyes, that smooth, enigmatic charm, did things to her—wicked, delicious things.
With one step closer, he pressed against her intimately, his lower half pinning her to the banister. He stretched an arm out on either side of her, caging her in. He was all warmth and decadence, all powerful male virility.
In that moment, she realized what had been missing with all those other gentlemen—why she’d never felt compelled to accept their proposals. It was this. Unlike the other men, Somerset made her feel vibrant, unrestrained. He made her feel alive.
“If you want a kiss, Miss Weatherfield, you’ll have to earn it.”
Win a special galley with all three novellas in the By Invitation Only series bound together! US/Canada addresses only.Add a Comment
Helen's Big World:Doreen Rappaport gives readers a clear sense of Helen's whole life, from the illness that left her blind and deaf as a child, to her years with Annie, and then her accomplishments as an adult.
The Life of Helen Keller
by Doreen Rappaport
illustrated by Matt Tavares
Disney / Hyperion, 2012
ages 5 - 9
available at your local library and on Amazon
I remember when I went to the theater and saw the play The Miracle Worker, which focuses on the early relationship between Helen and her teacher Annie Sullivan. The most electrifying moment in the play, and in the biographies of Helen Keller, was always the moment at the water pump, when Helen connected the water flowing over her hand with the word that Annie was spelling into her other hand.Kids will enjoy checking out the American Foundation for the Blind's Helen Keller Kids' Museum Online, full of pictures and short paragraphs of information.
That moment reminds us of how we learn, and the power of learning; the more we understand things, the larger our world becomes. Annie Sullivan opened up Helen Keller’s limited, dark, silent world; it grew and grew until it truly became a big world.
|AFB's Helen Keller Kids Museum Online|
This week my son was in his basketball playoffs – five games in four days. And since it was the play-offs, these games weren’t at the elementary school gym. Oh no, we were traveling 20 minutes to the “big” gym at the high school. So we logged a lot of car time and passed the time posing questions to each other. One of my son’s questions was: If you could have any wish, what would it be? My answer was three months of uninterrupted writing time. No job, no laundry, no walking the dog. Oh, the luxury!
In light of my wish, when I received an email from Louisa Stephens of the Associates of the Boston Public Library about their Writer-in-Resident program I couldn’t resist learning more about it. According to Stephens, the fellowship provides a $20,000 stipend, an office in the library and nine months of writing time to a children’s writer. Now, the commute from Pennsylvania to Boston would be a bear for me but for another WOW reader out there it could be a possibility. If you could see yourself as the eleventh Children’s Writer-in-Resident, applications are open until April 1. You can find the application here. And if not, why not start searching for writing fellowships in your state? I know I am!
To learn a little more about what it’s like to be a Writer-in-Resident, I interviewed Annie Hartnett, the current Writer-in-Residence and Elaine Dimopoulus, a former Writer-in-Residence.
WOW: Tell us a little about what you were doing before winning the Writer-in-Residence award with the Associates of the Boston Public Library?
ANNIE: Before the fellowship, I was studying for my MFA in fiction at the University of Alabama. Before
Today I have a spotlight and giveaway for Kelli Maine’s Give & Take series. One lucky winner will win the entire series! That might keep you reading until the spring thaw! But first, Kelli has 5 fun facts about her series to share with us.
5 Fun Facts about The Give & Take Series
It’s the end of an era. Okay, not an era, but it feels like one to me. Writing the last novel and novella, GIVEN and TAKE THIS MAN, in the Give & Take Series has been rewarding and bitter-sweet. Here are 5 fun facts about writing the series.
Fun Fact #5!
Kelli Maine is a pen name I came up with for writing TAKEN using the Find Your Stripper Name method. First Pet’s Name + First Road You Lived On. Mine would be Missy Main. That sounded a little too porn star to me, so I used my sister’s first name, Kellie. (Turns out there’s an actual porn star named Kelly Main – I’ve tried to Google her and can’t find her, but people like to tell me she exists! Who knew?) On the cover, my designer, Rachel Marks (who is amazing) asked if I would put the E in Kellie on the end of Main instead for a better balance in the design. I said sure! And that’s how my pen name came about.
Fun Fact #4!
TAKEN was a revision of an urban fantasy novel I wrote five years earlier titled, Taken By Seven. I kept Rachael and Merrick and one plot, her kidnapping. Over the five years between the two versions, I kept thinking about Rachael and Merrick and would joke to friends who loved Taken By Seven that the two of them were on Misfit Character Island until I could rescue them. Turns out Misfit Island was Turtle Tear Island and Rachael and Merrick were waiting for me to come visit and see what they had going on all those years instead of waiting to be rescued.
Fun Fact #3!
TAKEN was inspired by Lucy Christopher’s Stolen, an award winning young adult novel written in second person. I was blown away by this book and wanted to try something similar. Since I already had my own kidnapping story, I dove right in and began writing Taken. Second person POV is always a risk, but in romance it is especially risky since there are very rigid guidelines and expectations in the genre. Not being a romance reader—I’d read a handful before writing Taken—I wasn’t detoured. While the novels in the Give & Take series are erotic romances, I think of the whole as a family saga laced in mystery that could stand on its own without the sex scenes.
Fun Fact #2!
The Give & Take Series has a foundation that could be its own historical romance series. I had an old map of Turtle Tear Island drawn, a historical plantation in Florida identified for inspiration, a family tree going back to the eighteenth century and plotted out lives for the founders of Turtle Tear Island, Ingrid and Archibald Weston, and their children. Ingrid and Archibald are mentioned in every book and I consider them the Romeo and Juliet of the Civil War south. I’ve never written anything historical before, but I’m considering giving it a shot!
Fun Fact #1!
Since writing the prologue for TAKEN, I’ve known how the end of Merrick and Rachael’s story would go in TAKE THIS MAN. Their story has always paralleled that of Archibald and Ingrid, so it only made sense to bring it full circle with their wedding. Without giving too much away, in the story of Archibald and Ingrid, he propped a ladder at her window, climbed up and swept her away!
TAKE THIS MAN (Forever E-Novella; $1.99).
It’s finally here. After many twists and turns and shocking revelations, it’s time for Merrick and Rocha to declare their love for one another in front of their family and friends. And what better place than the historic island where their love first began?
GIVEN (Forever Trade Paperback; $14.00).
For Merrick and Rachael, Turtle Tear Island has become their own private paradise with days of unimaginable bliss and sizzling nights in the bedroom—and beyond. But Rachael and Merrick’s happiness is shattered when his daughter, Nadia, suddenly becomes increasingly demanding of his time and devotion. It soon becomes clear that Merrick will have to make an agonizing choice: the woman whose love saved his tortured soul or the daughter he never knew existed…
Rachel can’t stand the thought of losing Merrick after everything she’s sacrificed to be with him. She had thought she and Merrick were done with secrets, that the passion that burned so brightly between them had forged an unbreakable connection, but she begins to wonder if she ever really knew the man at all. Now the love they’ve fought so desperately to protect may not be enough to save them…
TAKE ME BACK (Forever E-Novella; $1.99)
Rachael DeSalvo is haunted by the past. She’s come home to her beloved Turtle Tear Island, where she looks forward to happy days and bliss-filled nights in the arms of Merrick Rocha. But when she finds a trunk full of old photo albums and handwritten notes, Rachael soon realizes that the island has not given up all its secrets…
For long before Rachael and Merrick made Turtle Tear Resort their home, this historic island was a haven for sensual, forbidden affairs. As Rachael and Merrick work to restore the grand hotel to its former glory, they will be caught in the perfect maelstrom of conflict and desire.
TAKEN BY STORM (Forever Trade Paperback; $14.00)
Maddie Simcoe knows the devastation that comes from keeping secrets. Now, she’s desperate to move on from the heartbreak that almost destroyed her— trading wild passion that once made her knees weak for a life of comfortable stability. But before Maddie can start over, she must return home to put the past behind her once and for all…
When Maddie blows back into MJ Rocha’s life, nothing will stop him from proving to her that walking away from him was the biggest mistake of her life — not even the engagement ring she wears. Her every look, every touch tells MJ that the fire that once raged between them still burns hot, and MJ won’t give up until Maddie gives in to the inferno.
No Take Backs
NO TAKE BACKS (Forever E-Novella; $1.99)
The man Rachael DeSalvo loves more than anything is suffering in silence. The grand opening of Turtle Tear Resort should be a time of celebration for Merrick Rocha. But he’s suddenly intent on selling off the business he built from the ground up-and Rachael’s hell-bent on finding out why. Only one man can give her the answers she seeks, but meeting with him would be the ultimate betrayal to Merrick. Merrick once asked Rachael to trust him against all odds…can he do the same?
TAKEN (Forever Trade Paperback; $13.99)
He steals her away to a deserted island, to the one place she’s dreamed of being-the one place she can’t go. He’s used to buying whatever he wants, but he can’t buy her. How can she resist the magnetism of his body, the longing ache deep inside her? She wants him to take her-on her terms. Every attempt he makes to love her only hurts her. How can they go on like this? This is the story of how she was . . .
About Kelli Maine
USA Today bestselling author of TAKEN and its sequel, No Take Backs, Kelli Maine watches entirely too much reality TV, which led to her compulsion to write dramatic romance novels. Blessed with a unique ability to bond with difficult people, she’s convinced she could win Big Brother. Her deathly fear of heights would keep her from completing half of the detours on The Amazing Race, and she’s shocked nobody has ever penned The Survivor Diet Plan: Eat One Cup of Rice for Thirty-Nine Days and Lose Fifty Pounds! Kelli lives in northeast Ohio with her family and a crazy cat that broke into their attic and refused to leave.
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Excerpt – TAKE THIS MAN -
He slowed to a stop beside the large, dangling frame. There was nothing fancy about it. It was black—and empty other than a white mat. From the right bottom corner of the matting, a black ink tree was sketched, jutting up with branches sprouting over the right top corner. On the tree trunk was drawn a heart, and inside that heart was written Merrick and Rachael Rocha, and the date.
The handwriting was familiar. I couldn’t believe he’d done this. “Merrick… you drew this?”
His dimples and the gleam in his eye couldn’t be contained. “I did. It’s the start of our family tree. We’ll put our wedding photo in it and eventually a family photo and then a photo with our grandkids.” He took me by the chin. “And in fifty years when we’re old and gray, we’ll renew our vows here on the island and have a new wedding photo to frame.”
Merrick kissed me then, a firm kiss, full of confidence, promises that would be kept, a lifetime of adventures to share and a family to love. My heart was on a precipice, ready to fall over the edge and burst with its fullness.
He took my face between his hands and nuzzled my nose with his. “Are you ready to get married now? To become my wife?”
I almost laughed with so much joy inside. “I’ve been ready!”
Then we did laugh and held each other until our giddy excitement was interrupted by the squawk of a walkie-talkie clipped to the visor followed by MJ’s voice. “NBT to Big Papa, what’s your ETA?”
Still chuckling, Merrick closed his eyes and shook his head. “NBT?” I asked. “Big Papa?”
“MJ’s idea,” he said. “He says he’s the NBT—Next Big Thing—and that even though he’s my little brother, he’d always think of me as Big Papa.”
I slid my hand up his thigh. “Big Papa, huh? I’ll have to remember that.”
“I want to hear you scream it tonight.” He shrugged his eyebrows up and down.
“Big Papa,” MJ said into the walkie-talkie. “Come in, Big Papa. Looking for an ETA here. Riley’s got his thong in a knot about putting the cake out too soon.”
“Forget the damn cake.” Beck’s voice now, fainter than MJ’s. “I’ve got a gator fifty yards from the gazebo. Get it gone—now!”
“Fine!” Riley’s voice now. “You fly in the cake from L.A. next time, tough man, and figure out how much defrosting time it needs so it’s not frozen solid or a ball of mush for photos.”
Beck let out a bark of laughter. “Yeah, that will always be all you.”
“Don’t act all muscles and tats with me. You’re in touch with your feminine side, Mr. Cello.”
“Big Papa!” MJ yelled this time. “ETA.”
Merrick and I couldn’t stop laughing. “You put those three stooges in charge of my wedding?” I gave him a playful whack on the arm.
He rolled his eyes. “Trust me, my selection of helpers was limited. Maddie and Shannon are around somewhere, though. Never fear.” He pressed his foot to the accelerator and picked up the walkie-talkie. “Big Papa to NBT. ETA five minutes.”
Five minutes and I’d be walking down the aisle.
Five minutes and this man beside me would be mine forever.
Five minutes and I’d become Mrs. Merrick Rocha.
Ready for your chance to win the full GIVE & TAKE series by Kelli Maine? This includes a mix of e-book and print titles -(US/Canada only)
TAKEN (trade paperback)
NO TAKE BACKS (e-novella)
TAKEN BY STORM (trade paperback)
TAKE ME BACK (e-novella)
GIVEN (trade paperback)
TAKE THIS MAN (e-novella)Add a Comment
The London Review of Books is certainly among the more interesting literary periodicals appearing in print in English -- certainly always worth a look (I have been an occasional subscriber, though I am not currently one) -- but Elizabeth Day's rather fawning profile in The Observer seems to be reaching in asking Is the LRB one of the best magazines in the world ?
For all the impressive writing they've published, it's still hard to overlook one of the basic bottom lines; Day decorously notes: "For all its success, the London Review of Books struggles to make money", which is a rather strong bit of English understatement: as she then admits: "in January 2010, the magazine was estimated to be £27m in debt" (to the trust which generously supports it -- though if it: "never has to worry about paying back its loans" I would/imagine hope the tax authorities have something to say about what sounds like a bit too dodgy a tax dodge).
LRB publisher Nicholas Spice is also quoted:
"It loses a lot of money," he continues cheerfully. The most important thing is that it has always had very generous support from its shareholders.Generous, indeed.
Another week (minus an hour), another collection of links. Please let me know if I missed yours!
The Cabinet of Wonders, by Marie Rutkoski, at Log Cabin Library
Dogsbody, by Diana Wynne Jones, at Views From the Tesseract
The Finisher, by David Baldacci, at Pissed Off Geek and Reader, Writer, Critic (and not a review, but if you want my take on the first 119 pages, here it is)
Flora and Ulysses, by Kate DiCamillo, at alibrarymama
Garden Princes, by Kristin Kladstrup, at Jean Little Library
Gideon's Spear, by Darby Karchut, at Middle Grade Ninja
How To Catch a Bogle, by Catherine Jinks, at The Book Monsters
The Hypnotists, by Gordon Korman, at That's Another Story
The Icarus Project, by Laura Quimby, at The Book Brownie
Janitors, by Tyler Whitesides, at Bookshop Talk
Magic Marks the Spot, by Caroline Carlson, at The Book Monsters
Mary Poppins, by P.L. Travers, at Fantasy Literature
Midnight for Charlie Bone, by Jenny Nimmo, at The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow
Mindscape, by M.M. Vaughan, at Random Musings of a Bibliophile
Neversink, by Barry Wolverton, at Bound By Words
Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy, by Karen Foxlee, at Sarah Monsma
The Peculiar, by Stefan Bachmann, at Log Cabin Library
The Riverman, by Aaron Starmer, at Random Musings of a Bibliophile and Megan Likes Books
Rose and the Magician's Mask, by Holly Webb, at Charlotte's Library
Sabotaged (The Missing Book 3) by Margaret Peterson Haddix, at Time Travel Times Two
The Shadow Throne, by Jennifer Nielsen, at The Book Monsters, She Has Left the Room, and proseandkahn
Simon Bloom: The Gravity Keeper, by Michael Reisman, at Madigan Reads
Sleeping Beauty's Daughters, by Diane Zahler, at Pages Unbound
The Slither Sisters, by Charles Gilman, at The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia
A Snicker of Magic, by Natalie Lloyd, at proseandkahn, Welcome to my (New) Tweendom, and Waking Brain Cells
The Wells Bequest, by Polly Shulman, at Leaf's Reviews
Three adventures at sea, at Views from the Tesseract: Deadweather and Sunrise, by Geoff Rodkey, Magic Marks the Spot, by Caroline Carlson, and Oliver and the Seawigs, by Philip Reeve.
Authors and Interviews:
Natalie Lloyd (A Snicker of Magic) at Literary Rambles (with giveaway)
Laurisa White Reyes (The Celestine Chronicles) at Word Spelunking (with giveaway)
Suzanne de Montigny (The Shadow of the Unicorn) at One Writer's Journey
Other Good Stuff
If you want to go into MG SFF tbr overload, here's a list I compiled of forthcoming books--lots and lots of beautiful forthcoming books--at Middle Grade March, with a bonus giveaway of and ARC of A Hero's Guide to Being and Outlaw!
At GreenBeanTeenQueen, the most recent guest post in the "So You Want to Read Middle Grade" series is Stephanie Whalen, offering lots of MG Sci Fi book suggestions.
And Stephanie's Tuesday Ten at Views From the Tesseract is "Birds of a Feather."
And for more listy fun, at SF Signal, the current "Mind Meld" asks a variety of great folks what sci fi or fantasy books they'd recommend for kids under ten.
The Canadian Children's Book Centre has announced its shortlist for the 2014 Canadian Literature Association-- which includes Curse of the Dream Witch, by Allan Stratton, And The Accidental Time Traveller, by Janis Mackay, is the winner in the Younger Readers category of the Scottish Children's Book Awards.
There's a petition at change.org asking publishers to stop labeling children's books as "for boys" and "for girls." My ten-year-old son, who is personally affected by this issue, has signed, and is very proud of his first foray into activism!
If I win the lottery I shall go to this September's Diana Wynne Jones conference in Newcastle, UK.
But even without winning the lottery I will probably make it to Boscon (the Boston Sci Fi convention) in February of 2015 because Robin McKinley is the guest of honor....
There's a new issue of Middle Shelf Magazine up, with lots of mg sff goodness in it.
Movie News! The Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness, is coming to the big screen, directed by Juan Antonio Bayona.
Living in a sci fi world back in the 16th century-- rocket cats (and birds) as weapons of war. If only the rocket cats (and birds) could escape afterwards....
This weekend's The New York Times Book Review-Q & A features Teju Cole: By the Book.
Among the questions he's asked is: "What books are you embarrassed not to have read yet ?" to which he responds:
I have not read most of the big 19th-century novels that people consider "essential," nor most of the 20th-century ones for that matter. But this does not embarrass me.He's right not to be embarrassed by that of course -- life is, indeed, too short, and time is easily filled with any number of worthwhile things; not having read book X or Y is hardly shameful.
"the novel" is overrated, and the writers I find most interesting find ways to escape itSince he goes on to admit he's actually not engaged with what are considered the exemplary novels of the 19th and 20th century, surely his dismissal comes far too rashly ..... Maybe it's a good idea to read what are considered the 'essential' novels, to see what all the fuss is about, and only then make a grand pronouncement as to whether or not the genre as a whole is over-rated .....
|First successful book! our version|
doesn't have the touchy-feely stuff
|The best of the cot books|
|You can't be too young for Judith Kerr|
|More for the grown-ups than the babies|
|Might well buy this one|
|Seriously? Clothes to die for?|
Time is a funny old thing. It catches you out. Memories come back whenever they please and sometimes they surprise you. They never go away, they only seem to. Take yesterday. I was at work, getting ready to go home, and suddenly, out of nowhere, I wasn’t there at all, I was something like eight years old and the school bell was ringing and it was time to go home for tea. Alleycat says that time’s like a long dark corridor with a bright light up ahead. If you look back you can see the past, the places you’ve already been, because the light is shining towards those things, but if you look ahead the light’s too bright and you can’t see anything because you’re blinded. He’s full of wise sayings like that. Sometimes he acts like an ordinary moggie, other times he acts like a sage. Pink doesn’t act much at all, except like herself. She’s very happy at the moment because spring has sprung, seemingly, and instead of basking under the reptile lamp on the kitchen table she can start to wander at large from hot spot to hot spot in the house.
Shamus Award-winning author John Straley returns with another mystery set in the Southeast Alaska region he calls home with the delightful and witty "Cold Storage, Alaska." Straley, an investigator for the public defender's office who lives in Sitka, is widely known for his Cecil Younger series which includes "The Woman Who Married the Bear" and "The Curious Eat Themselves." His new novel is funnier but no less spot-on with its depictions of the colorful characters who populate the small, isolated town of Cold Storage.
(Did I just write "colorful"? Please forgive me. I need to turn in my proof of Alaska residency right now before a reality TV producer calls and asks if I can recommend anyone for a new show.)
The plot is straightforward: Former bad boy Clive McCahon is on his way home to Cold Storage after serving seven years in prison Outside for dealing cocaine. He smartly put some money away before his arrest and now recovers it, believing that by keeping his mouth shut and protecting his employers he has earned some goodwill. Along with newly acquired former guard dog "Little Brother," he sews his cash into his new parka and heads north.
Once Clive reaches Juneau, Straley starts to have a lot of fun with the Alaska way of life. Consider how he describes the flight out of Juneau in a de Havilland Beaver, which begins with the words no passenger ever wants to hear: "We're going to give a try!" After stopping in Pelican, where the pilot unwisely chooses to take on a salmon wrapped in a garbage bag and shoves it under his seat, things take a bit of a negative turn. It should be noted that Little Brother is not in an FAA-approved kennel, because, well, if you've flown in Alaska then you know why:
"Is there a problem?" Tommy yelled over his shoulder.
A rocky ridgeline lay a few hundred feet below them.
"Just a few more minutes and we'll be down," Tommy said. "Can you keep control of that dog?"
"We're doing fine," Clive called. "We're having the time of our lives!"
He tried to wrap his new coat up around Little Brother's shoulders but the dog seemed to be growing. He would soon be the size of a buffalo, Clive thought.
Looking over his shoulder, all Tommy could see was a massive rump of brindled dog pushing against the seat. Above the roar of the engine, he could hear deep growling.
"Just a few more minutes," he said in a weak voice.
Clive pulled against Little Brother's collar, but the dog wasn't interested in calming down. He reached back and with his teeth he grabbed the coat from around his shoulders. He began to furiously tear at the parka; feathers and dog slobber flecked against the windscreen.
Tommy started pumping the flaps and leveling off for a landing but hundred dollar bills were floating up over his shoulder and landing in his lap. He pushed the plane down on the water. Feathers and paper money fluttered through the cabin. The dog snarled, Tommy shrieked and Clive closed his eyes.
That is, of course, what we call an uneventful landing in the Last Frontier.
After safely arriving, Clive sets out to reestablish himself with his war-hero brother Miles, now the town's physician's assistant and sole medical representative. In a fit of civic improvement, he also starts working on a new bar/church -- there must be an equal number of bars and churches in the community, per town ordinance. In the meantime, Straley makes his way around Cold Storage, introducing all the regular characters, from the bored -- and randy -- married school teacher to the completely devoid of humor -- and humanity -- Alaska State Trooper and most warmly, the much-beloved young resident whose religious conversion has led him to set off in a kayak for Seattle and a meeting with the visiting Dalai Lama. The fact that his salvation arrives via cruise ship is a stroke of literary genius.
Clive's money ends up causing some problems, and guns and violence arrive in Cold Storage, although even then the laughs keep coming. But what impressed me the most about what Straley has done here is that unlike so many of the ways that Alaskans are portrayed these days, he writes his characters as colorful and idiosyncratic but also kind, smart and deeply moving. Yes, they live in a place that breeds a bit of zaniness -- how could it not, when it rains all the damn time? -- but that doesn't make them something to be mocked. For all that, "Cold Storage, Alaska" is certainly a wild mystery in the vein of Elmore Leonard's "Get Shorty" years or all of Carl Hiaasen, it is just as much an homage to small towns and the people who fill them. What elevates Straley above so much of the competition is how very much he cares about the people and places he writes about. He gives us Alaska with heart, exposing his own deep love for the state in each and every hilarious word.Add a Comment
In her latest addition to the fun and educational series “If You Were Me and Lived In …,” award-winning author and former social studies teacher Carole P. Roman introduces young readers to the country of India.Add a Comment
Winter is sucking the happy out of all us with either too much snow in the Midwest and New England, too little rain in California or too much heat in Alaska. Everything is crazy outside, so why not disappear awhile in a rip-roaring adventure? Sometimes, escapist reading truly is the best kind of reading there is.
George Mann's intrepid steampunk "supernatural specialists" Sir Maurice Newbury and Miss Veronica Hobbes return in a quite diabolical serial killer investigation with The Executioner's Heart. The Newbury and Hobbes mysteries have always done a great job of showcasing both of its protagonists without leaving Hobbes in a subservient literary position, but this go-round is especially well done. Things get complicated quickly and all sorts of supporting characters step up to help unsort the web of clues and political intrigue the detectives uncover. At the center is still a killer who must be stopped and that, as usual, is where Newbury and Hobbes truly shine.
Newbury has some Holmesian issues to deal with and struggles with addiction that might strike a Baker Street chord. However, he also wrestles with the supernatural and is risking his life battling a spiritual entity on behalf of Hobbes' sister. The paranormal is to be expected of course, as this is an England where Queen Victoria is kept alive through machinery of a most unnatural kind, and don't even get me started on what our heroes find on display at the Crystal Palace exhibition.
But around all the wonderful world building is still murder and greed and lies. Bloody death is popping up all over the drawing rooms of London and the victims appear to be connected in only the most tenuous of ways. As Newbury and Hobbes get on the case, they find themselves considering some most unexpected suspects, and while the killer must be stopped, soon enough the killer is the least terrifying part of the plot. Readers in search of a modern take on classic adventure and Holmesian hijinks that move at a rapid pace will find The Executioner's Heart to be right up their alley. I don't know which one of these characters I love more, only that I heartily look forward to what happens with them next.
For a somewhat creepier detective novel, look no further than The Aylesford Skull by James P. Blaylock. Langdon St. Ives has anchored several Blaylock novellas, but this is his first full-length title. Now semi-retired and enjoying life in the country, in this go-round the intrepid detective is joined by his stalwart companions Tubby Frobisher and Jack Owlesby, a doctor from Edinburgh named Arthur Doyle, and a young former circus aerialist, Finn Conrad. The villain is, as usual, the nefarious Dr. Ignacio Narbondo although others scatter about. Most dangerously, there is the "Aylesford Skull," the ghost that comes with it and the paranormal nightmare that it is capable of unleashing.
I'd like to think that true Victorian England never looked so grim, except the grave robbing and serial murders that Blaylock describes are right out of late nineteenth-century London. Narbondo himself is so unsettling perhaps because his evil is so common and with his backstory fleshed out here (courtesy his mother), he becomes a villain that readers can understand although certainly never sympathize. (Which actually makes him a lot worse.)
In The Aylesford Skull, St. Ives faces down an attack on his family, the return of a "dead" friend, foes willing to shed the blood of anyone in order to increase their personal power and an increasingly insane Narbondo. There is also some fishing, bird watching, talk of elephants, a flying machine and pirates. Blaylock does his usual talented blend of fantastic and science-possible and the interplay between the supporting cast makes for a fast-paced plot. It's a dark tale that manages to be a fun read and happily, gives the author to space to indulge all of his literary whims with this always enjoyable character.
Charles de Lint's Jack in the Green, out this month from Subterranean Press, is a contemporary tale that transports Robin Hood and his Merry Men into the modern gang culture of the American southwest. Fans of de Lint will have some idea of what to expect here: teenagers trapped in grim circumstances who encounter elements of myth and folklore and embrace them to effect great personal change. This time the stakes are incredibly high but the legend is no slouch either and what happens to Maria when she spies old friend Luz breaking into a house with a new "gang" of her own is something magical.
Maria and Luz hoped to find some magic when they were young, and miraculously, it looks like it might have happened. Jack Green and his friends may not understand how things work in Santo del Vado Viejo, where the 66 Banda gang rules the streets and the cops are more concerned about protecting the gated communities, but standing up for the downtrodden is written into their DNA. Class consciousness is always part of de Lint's titles and it is front and center here as Green robs from the rich to help the poor. When Maria finds herself falling hard for the mysterious hero while getting caught in the middle of a turf war, de Lint raises the stakes and forces his characters into an impossible situation. Then he pulls it all out with the kind of ending readers have learned to expect. With such engaging young characters, a theme that will resonate with any teen reader and Robin Hood to boot, Jack in the Green (with illustrations by Charles Vess), is an excellent YA choice.
Unexpectedly, I found a thread of Nikola Tesla running through a couple of the books I read for this column. Tesla is enjoying a renaissance these days and finding him in books for middle-grade and teen readers is an excellent way to build curiosity about this brilliant inventor.
Nick and Tesla's High-Voltage Danger Lab by "Science Bob" Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith is a throwback to classic 1950s style adventure stories (The Mad Scientists Club, anyone?). Siblings Nick and Tesla Holt have been sent for the summer to stay with their unorthodox Uncle Newt in Half Moon Bay while their scientist parents look into soybean growth in Uzbekistan. In short order they discover he is the very definition of eccentric, and while soaking in all the scientific awesomeness of his home lab (not to mention his home, period), the kids put together a fun rocket experiment and accidentally end up launching Tesla's necklace into the yard of the forbidding, sort-of-abandoned mansion down the street. The necklace must be retrieved, very big guard dogs thwarted, mysterious girl in the upstairs window rescued and lots of bad guys stopped. To accomplish all this, the brother and sister enlist the help of some bicycling neighborhood kids and more than a few things from Uncle Newt's basement. In the end a nefarious plot is stopped and the good guys win with lots of clues laid out for future adventures including figuring out just what Nick and Tesla's parents are really doing.
What elevates Nick and Tesla's High-Voltage Danger Lab above standard MG hijinks is the unique book design, which incorporates not only blueprints and schematics on every page but also illustrations throughout. On top of that, the authors include step-by-step instructions for every experiment that Nick and Tesla conduct so readers can give them a go as well. The directions are basic and easy to follow, the components accessible from your own home or local hardware store and the results a lot of fun -- rockets! "robo-cat dog distractor"! electromagnet! The narrative provides a standard page-turner but the experiments are an extra kick that shows the sort of fun that can be had when science leaves the lab. The second book in the series, Nick and Tesla's Robot Army Rampage, is out now and a third, Nick and Tesla's Secret Agent Gadget Battle, is due shortly.
Tesla's Attic by Neal Shusterman and Eric Elman is billed as a middle-grade title, but I think it actually works best for teens. The only thing it is missing from standard YA fare is romance and frankly, sometimes teen readers don't want romance in their mystery-adventures. For those interested in what strange things could be lurking in an inherited house and how they tie into a potential "Men In Black" conspiracy, then, Tesla's Attic fits the bill. Make the heroes a smart and fearless group of Super 8 level teens who are not superpowered, not magical and not on the cusp of finding some mystical object that will make them superpowered or magical, and you have a great start to what is billed as the Accelerati Trilogy.
Fourteen-year-old Nick, his younger brother and father have moved into his great aunt's house large rambling Victorian house, which was left to them in her will. Still reeling from the recent death of his mother in a fire, Nick is struggling to hold his family together as they make their way in a new town, new school, and new family reality. Cleaning out the attic for a garage sale seems like a good idea, as Aunt Greta was knee-deep in a lot of who looks like junk. Unfortunately there are some bizarre side effects to the seemingly innocuous toasters, vacuums, tape recorders, and other items that make their way into the community at the surprisingly successful sale. After some strange occurrences at home, Nick realizes he has to get all the stuff back and enlists the help of some classmates who have been freaked out by their purchases. In the meantime, the group tries to figure out just how these things got to be so powerful and who might have built them.
Tesla fans will already know that there are plenty of connections between the inventor and Colorado, so the idea that he might have stashed a few things in an old friend's house for safekeeping is not beyond the realm of possibility. Just what the inventor was up to with all this stuff is another thing however, and when a group of deadly physicists appears who really wants the stuff, (and is willing to do whatever it takes to get it), then the stakes increase exponentially. It's one thing to save a neighbor from a wild toaster but quite another to face down folks who are as likely to kill you as negotiate. Nick has to get a grip on what he has unwittingly loosed on the town and also be mindful of his family, who don't know what's going on and are facing their own demons as well.
The chemistry between Nick and his friends, Mitch, Caitlin, and Vincent, is really fantastic. They are a complicated group, not all necessarily likable, and hiding their own secrets as most of us do. They come together first because of circumstance -- each has one of the attic objects -- but slowly, as they work on solving the mystery, they become friends. It's a lot of fun to see them form a team and the way Shusterman and Elfman have written them, as teenage "everymen," readers will easily be able to project themselves into the story. Tesla's Attic was a very fun read for me, one of the more engaging and surprising titles for teens I've come across in a while.
If these novels sound appealing then consider Elizabeth Rusch's picture book biography of Tesla, Electrical Wizard: How Nikola Tesla Lit Up the World. There is a wealth of information in here about Tesla's childhood, his emigration to the U.S. and his infamous problematic relationship with Thomas Edison. Rusch shows how he was thwarted more than once by people who doubted his ideas and eccentric thinking but never backed down. It's a very inspiring story, and Oliver Dominguez's full color illustrations bring to life the inventor and the times he lived in. While Electrical Wizard: How Nikola Tesla Lit Up the World was clearly published for elementary school-aged children, I would not hesitate to recommend it for older readers. This is a great literary dip into the waters of Tesla's life and not to be overlooked simply because it is a picture book. I relished every page.
COOL READ: While I have become quite accustomed to the Scientists in the Field series taking me to unexpected places in the company of interesting people, The Tapir Scientist: Saving South America's Largest Mammal by Sy Montgomery is a trip way off the tracks. Likely few readers will have ever come across a tapir, even in the local zoo, and books about them are few and far between. But Montgomery excels at trips into the unexpected corners of the wild and she succeeds brilliantly here, in the company of field scientist Pati Medici and her associates. Along with photographer Nic Bishop (familiar to readers of the series), Montgomery went into Brazil's wetland territory to find the tapir. In the midst of some serious insect attacks and heat that makes a Florida summer seem downright Arctic in comparison, Montgomery and Bishop were witness to the work of this dedicated group who are trying to save the tapirs and the forests that depend on them.
There are some fascinating facts here, such as that tapirs are most directly related to horses and rhinos and have changed little in the last 12 million years. The pictures are, as usual for the series, clear, compelling and dynamic. The Scientists in the Field books never get old and with its unique subject, The Tapir Scientist is one of my all-time favorite entries.
This is the final installment of the Bookslut in Training column. I hope you have enjoyed reading it every month as much as I have enjoyed writing it. I am still writing, still reviewing, and can be always found online at my website, chasingray.com, and via Twitter (@chasingray).Add a Comment
Enter to win a full set of the “If You Were Me and Lived in …” series; including the newest title If You Were Me and Lived in … India: A Child’s Introduction to Culture Around the World. Giveaway begins March 9, 2014, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends April 8, 2014, at 11:59 P.M. PST.Add a Comment