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1. The Sock Monkey Trilogy by Cece Bell

If you know anything about kid's books, kid's book awards and graphic novels, then the name Cece Bell should not be new to you. I had the pleasure of getting to know her work before she wowed the world with the 2015 Newbery Honor book, El Deafo, and am so happy to get to spend more time with her books now, especially her creation, Sock Monkey and all his friends. Bell has a sensibility that is a bit left of everyday and a wonderful way of somehow making every story, very subtly and sweetly, about acceptance, friendship, bravery and love. Originally published almost 10 years ago, Candlewick wisely, happily, has reissued Sock Money Takes a Bath, Sock Monkey Boogie-Woogie and Sock Monkey Rides Again.

Sock Monkey is a famous toy actor. He is also kind of a stand in for toddlers. In Sock Money Takes a Bath, Sock Monkey gets some good news and some bad news. He has been nominated* for "Best Supporting Toy in a Motion Picture" and has been invited to attend the Oswald Awards Ceremony at the Big Theater. The asterisk notes that "Nominees MUST be clean." Just thinking about taking a bath makes Sock Monkey, "dizzy with fear." Happily, his best friends, Miss Bunn, Froggie and Blue Pig are free to help him out. Miss Bunn takes him to bathe with mild soap and a few other monkeys in a hot springs atop a snowy mountain. Froggie helps him rinse in the clear, cool water of a pond and Blue Pig gets Sock Monkey to the desert where he can bask "all day in the sizzling sunshine." Clean and calm, Sock Monkey heads to the awards where he faces disappointments and surprises and a lot of great word play from Bell.
While I love all three books, I think that Sock Monkey Boogie-Woogie just might be my favorite. Sock Monkey is going to the Big Celebrity Dance and is super excited - until he discovers he doesn't have a partner! His three best friends are traveling, but they send home gifts that come together to make - another monkey! Sock Buddy can make cupcakes AND turns out to be the perfect dance partner! They impress everyone at the dance and, best of all, when Sock Monkey's friends meet Sock Buddy, they feel like they've known him forever. What I especially love about Sock Monkey Boogie-Woogie is the fact that Sock Monkey and Sock Buddy both seem to be guys. Bell  makes the less conventional choice and it makes the book all the more completely lovable.

Sock Monkey Rides Again finds our famous toy actor in another difficult situation. This time, it's not the prospect of having to bathe that is throwing him off, it's the fact that he will have to kiss the leading lady! In order to star as Red Reardon in "Hubbub at the Happy Canyon Hoedown," Sock Monkey will also have to learn to yodel, ride a horse, lasso a cow and get some cool duds. As always, Sock Monkey's friends are there to help out. But, when it comes time to kiss Lulu Nevada, he just can't do it and Lulu is left in tears. No matter how he tries to console her, he realizes there is really only one thing he can do, and he does it. And the director gets his shot!

I have been reading Sock Money Takes a Bath, Sock Monkey Boogie-Woogie and Sock Monkey Rides Again over and over to my students, from kindergarten to fifth grade, and they all love Sock Monkey. Also, all three books always seem to spark some kind of discussion, whether it's about how to make a sock monkey, or looking at pictures of the monkeys in the hot springs. 

The original inspirations for the cast of the Sock Monkey books!

More books by Cece Bell


Source: Review Copy

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2. Translations from ... Madagascar

       The December issue of Words Without Borders will apparently be devoted to literature from Madagascar, and at Broadly Ilana Masad profiles translator Allison Charette, in Meet Madagascar's 27-Year-Old Literary Ambassador.
       Madagascar is one of those countries from which almost nothing is available in English -- even though some Malagasy writers write in French (i.e. aren't that inaccessible). Charette got a PEN grant to translate Naivo's Au-delà des rizières (see the Sepia publicity page), so hopefully we'll at least see that in English soon.

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3. Library of Bangladesh

       I mentioned the announcement of the Dhaka Translation Center's 'Library of Bangladesh'-series earlier this year, and apparently the first two volumes are now out, published by bengal lights: see their publicity pages for two novellas by Syed Shamsul Haq and a collection of stories by Hasan Azizul Huq -- and let's hope there's some foreign distribution for these, too.
       Apparently ten more volumes are already planned.

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4. The “Greater West” and sympathetic suffering

At its root, Islam is as much a Western religion as are Judaism and Christianity, having emerged from the same geographic and cultural milieu as its predecessors. For centuries we lived at a more or less comfortable distance from one another. Post-colonialism and economic globalization, and the strategic concerns that attended them, have drawn us into an ever-tighter web of inter-relations.

The post The “Greater West” and sympathetic suffering appeared first on OUPblog.

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5. Writer Wednesday: Thanksgiving Edition

Since tomorrow is thanksgiving, I thought I'd share what I'm thankful for this year. These are in no particular order, and I'm sure I'm forgetting people so I'll apologize in advance for that.

This Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for:
  • my family who is so supportive of the crazy author/editor lifestyle I've chosen
  • my friends who accept that I ignore them when I'm in my writing or editing bubble
  • my writer friends who truly know how tough this business is and endure it alongside me
  • my amazing street team, Kelly's Coven, who shares every step of this journey and helps me make decisions about author logos, book settings, and so much more 
  • my agent who keeps me sane when I just want to scream and cry, which has been more than I'd like to admit
  • my social media manager, Amber, who always has brilliant ideas about how to spread the word about my books
  • my readers, whether they've been with me from the start or have just discovered my books
  • my newsletter subscribers for actually wanting to hear from me every month to see what I'm up to
  • the schools who have invited me to speak and share what I do for a living
  • my editing clients who allow me to make some money to pay bills and allow me to work on some really amazing books
  • bookstores who invite me to sign and who also carry my books on the shelves so I can take pictures of them out in the wild
  • my social media followers who put up with my posts about my crazy Shep-hound dog, my adorable daughter, all my books, The Walking Dead, my love of Jensen Ackles, and my Jamberry nail obsession
  • Limitless books for being so amazing to work with and for putting out Our Little Secret and the entire Into the Fire trilogy
  • my editors and beta readers for making me a better writer
  • bloggers and book reviewers who take the time to review and share my books with others...
I could keep going, but this is getting kind of long. And the really nice thing is that amidst all the struggles I encounter in this industry, seeing all these great people I have to be thankful for makes me really grateful that I decided to pursue this career.

Happy Thanksgiving!

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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6. हे मेरे भगवान

  हे मेरे भगवान समझ से बाहर है कि आज समाज में ये हो क्या रहा है. इतना दुख है ये सब देख ,पढ और सुन कर कि  दिमाग विचार शून्य है. जहां न्यूज चैनल एक एक  बयान कुरेद कुरेद कर  दिखाने में जुटे हुए हैं  इतनी जबरदस्त और खतरनाक राजनीति हो रही है कि […]

The post हे मेरे भगवान appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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7. मेरा भारत महान

  मेरा भारत महान हे भगवान !!! समझ से बाहर है कि आज देश में ये हो क्या रहा है. इतना दुख है ये सब देख ,पढ और सुन कर कि  दिमाग विचार शून्य है. जहां न्यूज चैनल एक एक  बयान कुरेद कुरेद कर  दिखाने में जुटे हुए हैं  इतनी जबरदस्त और खतरनाक राजनीति हो […]

The post मेरा भारत महान appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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8. The Subtle Knife: Writing Characters Readers Trust But Shouldn’t

I don’t know about you, but I love reading books where the author encourages me to draw conclusions that are wrong. Case in point–untrustworthy characters who I trust anyway. Like all writers, I am ultra aware of character cues and actions as I read, so when I’m led astray and find out someone I believed to be good really isn’t, I want to cheer and tell the author, “Well done!”

Tricking readers in this manner is difficult.

moodyIn real life, all of us are body language experts. At least 93% of communication is nonverbal, meaning we are very adept at ‘reading’ other people by their mannerisms, gestures, habits and voice changes. In books, this skill allows us to pick up on nonverbal cues which communicate a character’s emotions. Plus, if we are in the dishonest character’s POV, we also have access to their thoughts and internal visceral sensations (heartbeat changes, adrenaline shifts and other uncontrollable fight-or-flight responses). All of this means that tricking the reader can be very tough.

There are several ways to make the reader believe one thing while another thing is true.

One technique is the red herring. This is where a writer nudges a reader in one direction hard enough that their brain picks up on ‘planted’ clues meant to mislead them. So for example, let’s say I had a character who was a pastor and youth councilor for his church and he spent his weekends working with homeless teens, trying to get them back into group homes. The reader will begin to get a certain image in their mind.

If I then further describe him as slightly bald with a bad taste in fashion (imagine the kind of guy that wears those awful patterned sweater vests) but who has a smile for everyone he meets, it’s a good bet that I’ve disarmed the reader. They’ve written this character off as a nice, honest guy. Even though his life is all about the church, no way could he be the one stealing cash from the collection box, or the man having affairs with depressed women parishioners, or playing Dr. Death by administering heroin to street teens, right?

Another technique is pairing. Similar to a red herring, pairing is when we do two things at once to mask important clues. If, as an author, I show my friendly pastor leaving an alleyway at night and then have a car crash happen right in front of him, which event will the reader focus on? And if later, the police find another overdosed teen nearby as they interview the pastor about the accident, commending him from pulling a woman from the wreckage before the car could explode…would the reader put two and two together? If I did my job right, then no.

1NTA third technique is to disguise aspects of his “untrustworthy nature” using a Character Flaw. After all, no one is perfect. Readers expect characters to have flaws to make them realistic. If our nice pastor (am I going to go to Hell for making my serial killer a pastor?) is characterized as absent-minded with a habit of forgetting names, misplacing his keys, or starting service late and flustered because of a mishap, later when the police ask him when he last saw dead teen X and he can’t quite remember, readers aren’t alarmed. After all, that’s just part of who the character is, right?

When your goal is to trick your readers, SET UP is vital.

If the clues are not there all along, people will feel ripped off when you rip the curtain aside. Make sure to provide enough details that they are satisfied you pulled one over them fair and square!

What techniques do you use to show a character is untrustworthy? Any tips on balancing your clue-sprinkling so that the reader doesn’t pick up on your deceit before you’re ready for them to? Let me know in the comments! 

Image: lllblackhartlll @ Pixabay

The post The Subtle Knife: Writing Characters Readers Trust But Shouldn’t appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS™.

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9. BLUE PRINT NYC - victoria johnson

These are some striking new designs available for licensing from Victoria Johnson. They form part of the portfolio she'll be showing at Blue Print in New York next week. To create the designs she began playing with paint, then chopped up the various papers and used them to make individual flowers for a potential greetings card range. Victoria is represented by Jennifer Nelson Artists who will

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10. In Thanks: Books That Built a Writing Teacher

What are the books that have shaped you as a teacher of writing? Reflecting today, in thanks, for the authors and books that have influenced my life as a teacher.

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11. What's this? An Update?!?

Now Playing -  I Am Invisible by They Might Be Giants Well, hello! Sorry about the delay, as usual! It's been a hectic year, between two dozen comic con appearances, a "kids" alphabet book and the always there shop madness, this blog kind of fell by the wayside, but I'll be trying to do better in the new year, using this blog as both a personal journal and as a way for my fans and

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12. The Smallest Gift of Christmas by Peter H. Reynolds

After 22 years of reading Christmas books to my kids, it is rare that I find a holiday book that is worthy of sharing here. But, when Peter H. Reynolds, author of the Creatrilogy of picture books that explore creativity and inspiration, creates a Christmas book, you know it will be worth buying and reading year after year. It is a good thing to have at least one or two picture books that help kids recognize the rampant consumerism of this season, and The Smallest Gift of Christmas is a reminder in the gentlest, most subtle of ways, which is exactly what I look for in a book with a message. The message of The Gift of Christmas is one that is easy to forget this time of year - being with people you love is the best gift, no matter what time of year. Reynolds wraps this message (which has been clobbered in so many other Christmas books) in a story that is sure to entertain young listeners and readers and presents it in a tiny trim size along with a photo-frame ornament.

The Gift of Christmas begins, "Roland was eager for Christmas Day." The accompanying illustration shows stockings hung over the fireplace, Roland's reaching all the way down to the floor. When Roland races downstairs on Christmas morning only to see the "smallest gift he had ever seen," he wonders, "had he waited all year for this tiny gift?" Roland closes his eyes and wishes his hardest for a bigger gift - and he gets it. Over the course of a few pages, his greed grows, as does the size of his gift. Finally, he heads off to search the universe for the biggest gift. When he looks into his telescope and sees earth shrinking to a tiny dot that will soon disappear, he realizes that what he really wants is to be back on earth and home with his family. As is rocket lands gently in his snowy front yard, Roland realizes that the "smallest speck was his biggest gift."

Short, simple and sweet. The Smallest Gift of Christmas is one that kids need to (and will want to) hear more than once.

Source: Review Copy

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13. Q&A and Giveaway: Dragon Storm by Katie MacAlister

Katie MacAlister dropped by the virtual offices to answer a few questions! Be sure to enter the giveaway, too!

Do you have any favorite book boyfriends of your own?

Oh, mercy, just line my books up and start reading off the hero names. I’ve said before that I write books for myself first, and that’s absolutely true. I love all of my heroes, and it’s only because publishers won’t let me write all the heroines as me that I bother with writing those dishy men females who are worthy of them.

Outside of my books, I was one of those girls who grew up with the hots for Sherlock Holmes. As an adult, I’ve been quite fond of several of Georgette Heyer heroes, particularly those who give in to their senses of humor (Sir Tristram from Talisman Ring, and Freddy Standen from Cotillion).

What are five books on your night stand/bookshelf?

This is going to be a very disappointing answer, I fear. Right now on my nightstand are Sol y Viento (a Spanish textbook), Art: A Brief History by Marilyn Stokstad (an art history textbook), History of Italian Renaissance Art by Frederick Hartt and David Wilkins, Introduction to Forensic Science by Richard Saferson, and Step Aside, Popsm a Hark! A Vagrant Collection by Kate Beaton.

What’s your favorite quote or scene from your book?

I think the scene where Gary meets Jim is one of my faves. Especially since Gary is showing off, and Jim is instantly jealous of Gary’s toys.

If your couple’s relationship had a theme song, what would it be?

Roar by Katy Perry. The need to rise above people who want to put you down is pertinent to both hero and heroine. Plus I can see them both singing it loudly.

Tell us about the cover process. Is this what you had in mind?

I’m lucky in that my publishers have excellent art departments who take a few bits of scattered ideas that I pry out of my brain, and turn them into gorgeous covers, usually involving lick-worthy men. And this cover is no different. It’s not a bad thing to find yourself stroking a book cover, is it?

Where do you find inspiration for you writing? Do you use real people/places as a foundation?

I’ve always told myself stories, so writing is really just an extension of that. My inspiration is my muse, who I picture as a bon-bon eating diva who reclines of fainting couches a lot, waving a languid hand whenever she wants something, and basically ruling me with threats of going away on vacation if I attempt to work her too hard.  I seldom use real people in my books, since the people in my head are much more flawed and thus suitable for me to torment, but I do use as many real locations as I possibly can. I rely heavily on past trips to Europe as the source of many locations, and those I haven’t visited I usually research by finding people who live there, and haunting online webcams, and photo galleries.

Do you have any hobbies or activities that you enjoy outside of writing?

When my arthritic hands let me, I like to spin wool into yarn, knit, and sew a variety of things that never quite turn out as I’ve envisioned. I’m a gamer girl, as well, so I’m online in games like World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2, Star Wars The Old Republic, Hearthstone, Lord of the Rings Online, and way too many other games.

I’ve also decided to go back to school, and am enjoying online classes at Fort Hays State University so I can add a history degree to my list of credentials.

Would the 10 year-old version of yourself kick your butt or praise you for what you’ve accomplished in life?

Oh, she’d be thrilled that I’ve survived the last few years, since they included everything from the death of my husband to moving to a new house. And I think she’d be quite happy with the body of work I’ve produced in the last ten years, although I know she’d tell me I should stop insisting on having time off between books, and instead write non-stop.


About Dragon Storm

According to some (including himself), Constantine is one of the greatest heroes of dragonkin who ever lived. Too bad he’s now lonelier than ever and his biggest adventure involves a blow-up sheep-until he has an opportunity to save his kind once again. All Constantine has to do is break into a demon’s dungeon, steal an ancient artifact, and reverse a deadly curse. The plan certainly does not involve rescuing a woman . . .
Bee isn’t sure whether to be infuriated or relieved when Constantine pops up in her prison. The broody, brawny shifter lights her fire in a way no one ever has before, yet how far can she really trust him? Their chemistry may be off the charts, but when push comes to shove, Constantine will have to make a crucial choice: to save the dragons or the woman he’s grown to love with fierce intensity.

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1hQ84jD
B&N: http://bit.ly/1OFgvN4
iBooks: http://apple.co/1jQSK7v
GooglePlay: http://bit.ly/1MAdTdq
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1QNqSft
BAM: http://bit.ly/1OPgyo0

About Katie MacAlister

For as long as she can remember Katie MacAlister has loved reading, and grew up with her nose buried in a book. It wasn’t until many years later that she thought about writing her own books, but once she had a taste of the fun to be had building worlds, tormenting characters, and falling madly in love with all her heroes, she was hooked.
With more than fifty books under her belt, Katie’s novels have been translated into numerous languages, been recorded as audiobooks, received several awards, and are regulars on the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists. A self-proclaimed gamer girl, she lives in the Pacific Northwest with her dogs, and frequently can be found hanging around online.





a Rafflecopter giveaway

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14. XMAS 2015 - dot com gift shop

A few more Christmas designs now with a selection of inspired designs from The Dot Com Gift Shop. They have gone for old school illustrations with a mid century feel on cards, wrap, bags, cake tins, napkins and more.... And whilst on the subject of The Dot Com Gift Shop a few other new arrivals caught my eye including Scandinavian style birds, retro kids cards and wrap

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15. When It Gets Crowded in the Revision Cave

Recently a friend asked me whether she should address the concerns of a beta reader who had clearly missed something in her novel that everyone else got. This started me thinking about the challenges in revising a story when you’ve received critiques from many different people, particularly when their comments contradict each other.

We’ve talked a lot at Publishing Crawl about revising your novel on your own and with editorial letters, but what about earlier in the process — maybe before your book even reaches agents or publishers? I am a big believer in beta readers and critique groups, and I participate in an amazing writing group. Almost every piece of fiction I have written has benefited from the sharp insights of other writers who tell me what’s working and what needs work, and call me out when I’m being lazy. If you’re fortunate, there will be a consensus, a clear sign to what you should focus on, but often there’s very different feedback from everyone, and it isn’t at all obvious who is “right” about your story. Now what?

First and foremost, it’s your story, so you have to follow your instincts. That said, you do have to be open to the possibility that you can make it even better by listening to suggestions you may not immediately agree with. And always remember that you can’t make everyone happy, but that isn’t the point; you’re trying to figure out how to make the story as good as it can be, which should also be the goal of your critiquers.

My record for critiques on a single piece is probably around twenty, for some of my short stories at the Clarion West Writers Workshop, which is where I developed my process for juggling feedback and planning a revision strategy. Whether I have seven or 17 critiques, my first step is to read through everyone’s comments and my notes from the crit session, jotting down the key points and organizing them into four categories:

  1. I totally agree with this comment and I will definitely do this
  2. I disagree with this note, but they’re probably right, so I’d better fix that
  3. That’s very interesting, I’ll keep that in mind
  4. Nope

Although here I’m focusing on what needs to be improved in the next draft, make sure you’re also noticing the good stuff, which can show you where your story is on the right track, as well as give you an ego boost that is likely sorely needed about now. This is the stuff you don’t want to break when you’re fiddling with everything around it — which can easily happen, especially if you’re trying to follow every suggestion you received.

Once you’ve listed everything out, categories 1 and 2 should give you a pretty clear idea of what changes to make in your revision; however, sometimes you will get two or more recommendations that are  incompatible, and you have to choose one. Assuming you don’t want to settle for the fastest and easiest fix, you should consider what makes the most sense for your characters and their story, and what fits with the rest of the feedback you’ve received and strengthens what was already there.

You can also consider the source of the feedback: For example, if you’re writing a YA novel, you might weigh criticism from other YA writers or readers more heavily than feedback from someone who rarely reads YA or doesn’t enjoy it. (Their perspective is still valuable and probably shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand, but they may be unaware of some of the nuances of your particular genre.) Or certain readers “get” your work or connect with your story more than others, so they have a better idea of what you were trying to accomplish.

Once I have a sort of road map of the changes I want to make, I usually dive in and start editing from beginning to end, in a linear order, layering in changes as I go. Of course every edit ripples throughout the piece, so the more time I can spend focused on and immersing myself in the story, the better to keep it all in my head, and ultimately put it on the page. I’m also keeping in mind some of the criticism that I am less sure about, or even some of those “nopes,” because as the story changes, they might make more sense or I’ve become more receptive to them. As I change the story, I feel more free to take it wherever it needs to go. If I take it too far or it doesn’t work, I can always revert back to the previous draft!

When I first started revising this way, it sometimes felt like I was writing by committee, and I resisted taking too many suggestions from others. Whose story is this, anyway? But if you’re committed to telling it in the best possible way, so it will reach the most readers, getting lots of feedback from many different perspectives is incredibly helpful. Don’t forget that every reader is different — just look all those wildly differing reviews on Goodreads! (No, don’t.) In a way, they’re all correct, because reading is such a personal, unique experience. And so is writing. In the end, you decide what your story will be, and you’re the only person who can write it.

Everyone’s writing and revision process  is also unique! So, how do you reconcile varying feedback from multiple readers?

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16. Men & Cats + All the Words Are Yours Giveaway

I have something a little different for you today--two adult gift books--prizing/samples provided by Penguin Random House.

First, you should know that both books are based off of Tumblr. I love Tumblr. I also love both of these specific Tumblrs, though I was only familiar with the second one before this.

The first one is a little serious, which would be great for someone who loves words and photographs: All the Words Are Yours: Haiku on Love by Tyler Knott Gregson.


About the book

Every day for the past six years, Tyler Knott Gregson has written a simple haiku about love, and posted it online. These heartfelt poems have attracted a large and loyal following around the world. This highly anticipated follow-up to Chasers of the Light, presents Tyler’s favorites, some previously unpublished, accompanied by his signature photographs, which capture the rich texture of daily life.

This vibrant collection reveals the intimate reflections of one of poetry’s most popular new voices — honest, vulnerable, generous, and truly present in the gift that is each moment.

Find It Here

Most of them are a little maudlin for me, but I love a few. 

“Brighter, now brighter
pay no mind to those who squint,
burn with all your heat.”

— Tyler Knott Gregson

They're sometimes inspiring and insightful.

Some I want to mail home to my mother.

Some will calm, some will soothe, some will arouse desire. You definitely don't want to mail the whole book to your mother. Actually, probably 80% you wouldn't want to discuss with her unless you have a very, very, very comfortable relationship.


This is definitely something you want to give to someone you love love. 

Now we move on to my favorite of the two: Men & Cats by Marie-Eva Gatuingt & Alice Chaygneaud.

Now, this your mom might enjoy. Assuming she likes scantily clad men. And cute cats. 

About the book

A brilliant collection of photographs that brings together two of the world’s favorite things: hot men and cute kittens.

Based on the chic French Tumblr Des Hommes et des ChatonsMen & Cats presents an original collection of 50 pairs of sexy men and adorable cats. Each clever match-up shows a heartthrob posing alongside a cat in a similar pose or with a similar expression. Not sure if you want to look at sexy men or cute cats? With this book, you don’t have to choose.

Find It Here

But, before you visit Des Hommes et des Chatons on Tumblr, I have to warn you some of the pics may be NSFW. Here are some of the more tame ones (i.e. they've mostly got clothes on):


Mmm.... you get the idea.

Wait, one more.


Can't promise you these are all in the book. Actually on second glance *flips through entire book again* Yup. Nope. None of these are in the book. But you get the picture, don't you?

Remember to Enter the giveaway before you lose yourself in an endless queue of des hommes et des chatons

The Giveaway

  1. Open to the US only, ends 12/05/2015.
  2. No purchase is necessary to enter a giveaway. Void where prohibited.
  3. We are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items.
  4. One set of entries per household please.
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17. Review: The Program

There are few stories more abjectly fascinating than those surrounding Lance Armstrong’s triumph over a cancer he was given infinitesimally small chance of surviving and his subsequent seven Tour de France (AKA Tour de Lance) victories. Consequently, there are few stories more assumptions-shattering than the revelation that Armstrong had, in fact, been using drugs to […]

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18. Best Books of Fall

Recommend me!Best Books of Fall

It’s fall, and with chilly weather comes more time for reading indoors! Ah, to be snuggly and warm by an open fire with an excellent book—nothing compares. At the STACKS, we believe that sharing is caring, and we love to share our book recommendations. She here are the Best Books of Fall as voted by YOU!

fall books

The reigning book favorites Harry Potter and Percy Jackson definitely top the list this fall, but Warriors and Kingdom Keepers are gaining ground!

What books are you excited to dig into? What books do you think everyone needs to be reading RIGHT AT THIS MOMENT? Share your picks the Comments below!

Until next time,

En-Szu, STACKS Writer

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19. three things, one day: STORY, GOING OVER, Danielle Smith

Yesterday, amidst much corporate work, three things happened:

I learned that Going Over, my 1983 Berlin Wall book, has officially launched as a paperback, and I thank Chronicle Books for its faith in this story. (And the darling Taylor Norman, for tweeting the news.)

I learned (again from Taylor, who has so steadfastly supported this book) that This Is the Story of You has gone to print, with its gorgeous jacket and incredibly generous quotes from Dana Reinhardt, Tim Wynne-Jones, and Margo Rabb (and its Junior Library Guild citation).

I talked to Danielle Smith, who (in a matter of days) read the middle grade novel I've lately been obsessed with, said so many reassuring things, talked with me about some decisions I'd have to make as I refined the story, and said yes to representing me. I have known Danielle for almost as long as I have been writing for younger readers. The popular force behind the beloved There's a Book blog, Danielle has read my stories, always. She has supported me in a multitude of ways—throwing blog parties, walking the floor of the BEA with me, calling just to talk, listening as I worked through ideas. A few years ago, Danielle launched a career as an agent and today, as a member of Red Fox Literary, she is seeing her authors receive raves and stars, foreign sales, and success at hoped-for houses. I've always been happy to call Danielle my friend. I'm incredibly happy to be taking this step forward into the land of Middle Grade with her.

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20. Would You Read It Wednesday #194 - Ernie Fakes A Tooth (PB)

Holy Pumpkin Pie, Batman!

How did we get to the day before Thanksgiving already?

If you're like me, you still have to vacuum, bake pie, clean the bathrooms, bake more pie, make sure there are fresh towels, and bake more pie :)  And those of you not cleaning and baking probably have to travel.

So we're going to keep today's post as short and sweet as possible!

In honor of Thanksgiving tomorrow, I think our Something Chocolate should be festive and turkey-oriented, don't you? :)

Obviously dark chocolate is preferable to milk chocolate,
but we'll take what we can get :)
Gobble, gobble, gobble!!! :)

Today's pitch comes to us from Jen who says, "I’m just starting out on my journey into the overwhelming and wonderful world of picture book writing.  When I start to doubt myself, my two young kids cheer me on and get me back in the game.  We live in the beautiful seacoast of New Hampshire.  Next up – work on my social media presence!"  

Here is her pitch: (and she would especially love feedback on a title since she's not wild about this one but has yet to come up with anything she likes better!)

Working Title: Ernie Fakes A Tooth
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)
The Pitch: In a rush to get his first lost tooth home and under his pillow, Ernie Blossomfoss trips and watches his tooth go sailing into the playground woodchips.  Convinced the tooth fairy won’t come unless she has a tooth to collect, Ernie hatches a plan to leave the perfect counterfeit.  When the clever fairy doesn’t fall for it, Ernie ups the ante until he finally learns a lesson more valuable than a crisp dollar bill.  

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Jen improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)

Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in January so you've got a little time to polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Jen is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to having the family together for Thanksgiving tomorrow... even though I have to vacuum :)

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone, and Happy Thanksgiving!!!

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21. Topipittori – Publisher Interview

As many of my blog followers will know, a few weeks back I was thrilled to be contacted by Lisa Topi of the Italian publishing house, TOPIPITTORI, about translating my interview with Leonard Marcus for their website. Through our email … Continue reading

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22. Because She Never Asked review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Enrique Vila-Matas' Sophie Calle-novel(la), Because She Never Asked.
       This is actually just one story from a bigger Spanish collection (Exploradores del abismo), published as a stand-alone in New Directions' lovely pocket-sized Pearl-series.
       It's a great introduction to Vila-Matas' work -- perhaps the ideal starter-volume.

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23. Review: Kissing Ted Callahan

Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) by Amy Spalding. Poppy. 2015. Reviewed from ARC.

Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys)The Plot: Riley and Reid walk in on our their band mates Lucy and Nathan -- to their surprise, Lucy and Nathan are together. Together-together.

Riley is stunned, especially because Lucy is her best friend and Lucy never said a word. Riley and Reid both resolve to pursue love (and kissing and maybe even sex), and to share each detail, and to help each other out.

The top of Riley's list is her crush, Ted Callahan; Reid's is Jane.

How successful is their plan? Well, there will be kissing. Of Ted Callahan, and other guys.

The Good: This is primarily Riley's story, but because Riley and Reid share notes and progress reports and suggestions in a Passenger Manifest journal, and part of that is written by Reid, it's both their stories.

Kissing Ted Callahan is about Riley shaking herself into action. Oh, she's hardly passive. Her goal is rock star, so her time has been taken up with the band. And her best friend is Lucy, and she's friends with Reid and Nathan, but she's been satisfied, kind of, with that.

Riley isn't satisfied anymore. And confiding in Reid, instead of her usual Lucy, helps push her to do things like offer Ted Callahan a ride home. Or kiss Garrick. Or call the number of the cute boy she met at the CD store. Riley goes from zero love interests to three. Kissing Ted Callahan is about Riley (and Reid) navigating teen age dating, figuring out the difference between like and love and lust and love, wondering just what is right to tell someone if there isn't any real commitment yet.

Reid's story in some ways mirrors Riley's The first girl he pursues turns out to already have a boyfriend, and Riley doesn't really make the connection to her own situation. The next girl is -- well, it's a bit funny, because Reid makes a list of potential girls. Ones who talk to him, ones he likes, who has potential? Unlike Riley, he's not acting on a crush. It's more that he wants someone, and there is something very sweet and likable in how he keeps himself open to any possibility rather than requiring a crush first. It's also very honorable that he pursues a girl he likes being with, ignoring that his friends don't really like her.

At one point, rather late in the story, their Passenger Manifest goes missing and Riley and Reid have to deal with the consequences. For Riley, that ends up being the consequences of not having conversations and not talking. Kissing and sex may create a connection but it doesn't replace talking. Yes, there is a sex scene,  butwhile Riley may be kissing three boys there is only one that she really likes. No, I won't say who.

What's nice about the emphasis on communication is that it is clear from the beginning that Riley's failure at spoken honesty, and desire to not confront, isn't something that just happens with boys. Remember Lucy? Part of what drives the whole book is Riley's continuing inability to talk with her best friend, Lucy. Part of Riley's growth is realizing she has to have the tough conversations, whether it's about the status of a friendship or of a relationship.

I also like how this explores attraction and relationships (both friendship and more), and that Riley (and Tom and Garrick and Milo) is not just about who she is dating or kissing but is about creating real friendships and how those friendships are made. Lucy, Riley, and Reid have known each other since kindergarten and those types of friendships sometimes means someone has a hard time making new friends -- they don't have the skills. Riley is developing those skills, though admittedly mainly because she is seeking a boy. And mainly because she assumes that Lucy's changed relationship with Nathan means that Lucy's friendship with Riley is different.

Finally! It's also about a band, and I loved how being part of the band is used for the story, from being what ties Riley and her friends together, to her passions and interests, and also the time it takes outside of school. Their dedication is clear.

One final thing: this may be a spoiler, so stop reading if any type of spoiler bothers you. This is not the type of book where Riley looks at her good friend Reid and sees him in a different light while he has an unrequited crush. This is about two people who are friends, whose friendship grows stronger but whose friendship remains a friendship.

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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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24. Student-to-Staffers: Where are you now?

ALA Student-to-Staffers: Where are you now?

Way back in June of 2007, I had the honor of representing TWU’s School of Library and Information Science at ALA Annual in Washington, DC.  I was a member of TWU SLIS-buttonALA’s StudeALA Annualnt-to-Staff (S2S) Program, with assignment to the ALSC Division.  If you’ve never heard of the S2S program, you can read about it here.  There are 56 active ALA Student Chapter Groups at accredited graduate schools.  Each is entitled to submit one name for consideration for the program.  Schools have varying criteria. My school chose the student – me :) based on an essay contest.  Others have different criteria, but the end result is that 40 promising students receive a free trip to ALA Annual in exchange for working with  ALA staff during the week.  I was able to choose with whom I wanted to work. An aspiring children’s librarian, naturally, I chose ALSC.

It was my first connection with the national community of librarians.  It was during my week as an ALA S2S er, that I first met ALSC’s own Aimee Strittmatter, Laura Schulte-Cooper, and Marsha Burgess, and I began my continuing association with the division. I wrote a piece about my experience for  ALSConnect, now called ALSC Matters. (I am no less bright-eyed and bushy-tailed now.)

If you know someone in grad school right now, do them a favor and let them know about the S2S program.  If you participated in the S2S program, give a shout out!  Did you work for ALSC at the conference?  When or where did you attend?  How wonderful was it?

(The Student-to-Staff Program was established in 1973. There should be a lot of us out there!)


The post Student-to-Staffers: Where are you now? appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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25. Cassava Republic coming to UK

       In less than a decade Cassava Republic has established itself as a leading Nigerian publisher -- and it's great to hear that, as Natasha Onwuemezi reports in The Bookseller, African publisher Cassava Republic to launch in UK.

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