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1. August 2014 Desktop Calendar


Firstly, I must send a HAPPY 11th BIRTHDAY shout-out to my awesome (and second oldest) son. YAY!
With August arriving tomorrow, I'm sneaking onto the computer to quickly post my August 2014 desktop calendar, and then it will be time to " Assemble the Trifle!!" My son's favorite dessert. ( *note- this must be hollered in an "assemble the minnions!" Frau Farbissina sort of voice, LOL).

  I have been experimenting with adding mixed media to my Plasticine illustrations, and this month's desktop calendar features an illo that has a fun Steampunk-y flavour. I used a mix of antique-y map papers, watch gears, burlap, metallic paints and polymer clay. Ever since I created the Steampunk-y Infinity Coil medallions for the covers of Marty Chan's YA novel,  The Ehrich Weisz Chronicles, Demon Gate, my head has been swirling with Steampunk inspired ideas. I have been working away on a picture book manuscript, featuring this little guy and his mechanical wings.  It's not quite there yet, but it will be one day...

I've also been working away on the pencil sketches for Gerbil, Uncurled(Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Spring 2015), written by Alison Hughes. I love this stage. Well,  I guess I love every stage of illustration :)  The studio is a flurry of papers. I like to hang up the sketches all around me, for easy reference- I am getting very excited to translate these into plasticine. Here's a pic of one wall of my studio at the moment:

(Yes, I've blurred out the images, 
we aren't quite ready to give any sneak peeks just yet. SOON!)



My day was made even more awesome when I saw that the first picture book I illustrated, Skink on the Brink( Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Spring 2013, written by Lisa Dalrymple) received a lovely review in The Deakin Review of Children's Literature. 

 I hope you are all having a wonderful summer so far. To download the desktop calendar simply select a screen resolution and right click " Save to desktop". Enjoy!

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2. Benidorm actor Kenny Ireland dies from cancer aged 68

From the BBC News Online:

actor kenny ireland Benidorm star Kenny Ireland had been written out of the show as he fought cancer
 
Actor Kenny Ireland - best known for his role in TV comedy Benidorm - has died, aged 68, following a battle with cancer.


The veteran Scottish actor and director had played swinger Donald Stewart in the ITV show since 2007.
He was also part of Victoria Wood's fictional rep company in the BBC series Victoria Wood As Seen On TV.


Mr Ireland was director at Edinburgh's Royal Lyceum Theatre for more than a decade until 2003.
He was written out of the latest series of Benidorm in June so he could concentrate on his cancer treatment.
He and co-star Janine Duvitski played a sex-mad couple who holiday at the Solano hotel in the Spanish resort every year.


Mr Ireland's other TV credits include Taggart, Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, the UK version of House of Cards, Drop The Dead Donkey and Heartbeat.


actor kenny ireland Kenny Ireland starring in the BBC series Victoria Wood As Seen On TV

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3. flat-heeled-muse

share save 171 16 flat heeled muse

The post flat-heeled-muse appeared first on The Horn Book.

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4. You write, "It’s like I keep figuring this shit out, and then forgetting it immediately." That's not your strange little personal problem. That's not what makes you uniquely fucked. That's a universal truth, a fundamental dimension of the human conditio

— From an ‘Ask Polly' a couple weeks back that I keep thinking about because a. it's true and b. enjoyment of imagining Oprah zonking out across from Deepak.

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5. FOODFIC: Please Welcome Lori Otto, Author of Lost & Found

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20888295-the-complete-emi-lost-found-series?from_search=true

So, today on But What Are They Eating? we are going to change things up a bit:
But What Aren’t They Eating?
In my Emi Lost & Found series, there is one thing that the heroine Emi absolutely will not eat: chocolate.
You’re probably thinking, “Is she really a woman?  Is she even human?” The answer is yes to both questions.
In the three main novels, it’s mentioned on a few occasions that she doesn’t like or want chocolate.  It’s offered a couple times, but the reader never really knows the reason behind her distaste.
On a side note, here’s a little tidbit about my series.  The three novels that make up the bulk of this contemporary (yet atypical) romance series – Lost and Found, Time Stands Still, and Never Look Back – were released in the spring of 2011.  After readers finished them, one of the most common questions I got from people was about the chocolate.
A little over a year later, I got this crazy idea to write a prequel and release it in chapters on my website.  In Not Today, But Someday, everyone finally discovered Emi’s reason for avoiding the delectable treat.
First of all, it’s not an allergy.  When Emi was younger, on what she thought was her first date, she indulged in Raisinettes after the boy who took her to the movies dropped her off at the theater with his step-sister and continued on–by himself–to an arcade.
Later in the book, sixteen-year-old Emi has run away from her mother’s apartment, and has begged her new friend, Nate, to let her stay at his house for the night.  Confronted by his mom, Emi opens up about her own:
“She’s leaving my dad,” Emi says.  “I honestly don’t know how to deal with this.”  She takes a bite of the apple and chews it slowly, tracing the marble pattern of the countertop.
“I’m sure it’s not easy, Emily.”  Mom leans on her elbows on the island, attentive to Emi.  “Sometimes it helps to talk about it.”
I don’t want to make her uncomfortable.  “Mom–”
“He cheated on her.  I caught him,” Emi continues.  I look at her, biting my lip, allowing her to speak.  “He took his mistress to this restaurant.  I was there with some friends, and this woman’s laughter rose above the noise of the entire place,” she says evenly.  I can tell that emotions lie just beneath the surface, but I admire her strength as she continues.  “I watched her for a few minutes, thinking it was sweet how her date was feeding her fruit dipped in chocolate.  They had a fondue pot between them.  He held a cherry up by its stem, covered with chocolate, and fed it to her.  The chocolate dripped down her chin, and he stopped her from wiping it off with her napkin.  I was entranced.  It seemed so intimate.  I was imagining that being me someday.  I even nudged my friends and got their attention, showing them what I was watching.  And then her date leaned in and licked the chocolate from her face, eventually meeting her lips with his.  He kissed her for a long time, and one of my friends said, ‘That looks like your dad.’”
Mom has a distinct frown on her face, and she puts her hand on Emi’s arm.  Chocolate.
It’s all in her head, essentially.  No amount of craving for something she once liked will make her set aside the association of chocolate with her father’s infidelity.
Well, there are two cravings in my series that do, but… well, you should read the books to find out what they are!  
The prequel, Not Today, But Someday, is no longer on my website, but it is offered for free for your Kindle, Nook or iPad.  It is also part of the four-book Complete Emi Lost & Found series!  And if you read these and like them, there is a spin-off series available, as well.

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Lori!

You can contact Lori here:


And find her books here:
Amazon.com                                         iTunes                                         Barnes & Noble


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6. Don't Even Think About It (2014)

Don't Even Think About It. Sarah Mlynowski. 2014. Random House. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]

The good news? I thought the first chapter or two was interesting and good. If not actually good, potentially good.

The bad news? With each chapter I read, well, let's just say I ended up not liking it very much. It did not finish as well as it started. Of course that is all subjective.

Don't Even Think About It is a premise-driven novel. 22 students, practically a whole homeroom in a school, receive a faulty batch of flu shots. The side effect of this bad batch is ESP. Overnight, twenty-two students suddenly gain the ability to read minds. Obviously, they can read the minds of those closest to them in proximity. What they find is that people of all ages typically think disturbing and inappropriate things. That thoughts tend to be rude and unfiltered. They learn secrets: some trivial secrets, some deep, dark secrets. Knowing things they shouldn't know proves more bothersome to some characters than others. Still, oddly enough, most characters come to feel it is an incredible gift that they've been blessed with. Even if it complicates their lives and relationships.

The premise itself wasn't an awful one. It's just I didn't like how it was developed throughout the book. The collective we narrator representing all twenty-two voices was a bit messy. On the one hand, it gave us glimpses into many lives. And some of the characters introduced were likable. (I think I counted three or four characters--children, teens, adults included--that I actually liked. Some of the characters I liked we only spent a couple of paragraphs with.) On the other hand, it was hard to care about ANY of the characters. Assuming that to care about a character you either have to love them or like them or at the very least understand why they are like they are. The characters I came closest to liking were Cooper and Olivia and Olivia's mom. This is not a character-driven novel.

The book is definitely a light romance. I did not necessarily like how "mature" the content was, I could have done without all the bad language, for example.
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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7. Why Readers, Scientifically, are People, Too

A few weeks ago my dear sister shared an article titled "Why Readers, Scientifically, Are The Best People To Fall In Love With." Improper title capitalization rules and superfluous prepositions aside, I take issue with the article. What would one expect, coming from Elite Daily, a site, I must admit, I hadn't stumbled across before but calls itself "the voice of Generation Y." Isn't that a perfect title for a Gen Y site? Elite. Yes, yes you are. Maybe that's my problem. As a Gen Xer, I'm an old fart, skeptical of everything.

Even myself. And I'm also not all that special. I'm just a person with an opinion and about three pounds of neurons in my skull, but I do like to think.

I learned the habit of asking questions of EVERYTHING in undergrad at Kansas State University, probably even before that. Richard Fogg, if you're out there, your lab section of Psych 350: Experimental Methods in Psychology way back in the fall of 1995 was brilliant. Thanks for teaching me true inquiry, critical thinking, and objectivity--and the cool lesson about what happens to a person when they come to the emergency room on a heroin overdose from your days in LA. That was awesome.

But I digress. A little.

I don't believe, and never will, that reading makes a person more empathic. That would be a causal relationship, one the author of the article implies with lines like "readers are proven to be nicer and smarter than the average human, and maybe the only people worth falling in love with on this shallow hell on earth." Wow.

While readers may be smarter and nicer than the average human (14 + years in education make me question both of those claims), I do not believe for an instant, not one millisecond, reading makes a person smarter or, and here's the most important disbelief, nicer than anyone else. There's simply a correlation between reading and empathy, reading and intelligence, reading and "theory of mind"  (the ability to hold opinions, beliefs and interests apart from one's own). I've known plenty of kids who could strip a 1968 Chevy Camaro and rebuild it who couldn't read all that well. How, exactly, are we defining intelligence?

Perhaps empathic, intelligent, and "mindful" people simply are drawn to reading. Perhaps.

But there's more. The author of "Why Readers...," Lauren Martin, cites another study which suggests kids who have more stories read to them have better theories of mind. I have no doubt--but using the word "prove" as in "results that prove the more stories children have read to them, the keener their [mindfulness]" really trips my critical analysis trigger. Maybe the interaction with people is the key, the common factors--good, healthy relationships with caregivers or other adults doing the reading--is the real seed of mindfulness and empathy. Show me a study suggesting a robot can read books to kids and those kids are more mindful than anyone else... well, I guess we're doing a whole lot of supposing without real results and a whole slew of ethical concerns. I haven't read the original studies, but these seem more correlative (collecting data and finding relationships) than causal (actual, controlled studies).

Are readers "the best people to fall in love with"? I don't know. But empathic people are nice. Mindful people are very nice. I'm in love with a woman who is empathic, mindful, and intelligent. She's nice. And while she reads ALL THE TIME I don't know that either of us have finished more than a book or two in the time we've known each other.

I believe reading is very important--Martin cites several other studies "proving" readers are the only worthwhile people on the planet--but it is not the only thing which creates a human. Reading is not the only factor which contributes to intelligence, empathy, and mindfulness.

And yes... this is coming from a guy who writes. And writers need readers. Did I just alienate all of you?

(crickets)


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8. Writing Middle-Grades

Make your middle-grade novel unputdownable.

http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/march-15-richard-ungar-4-keys-to-middle-grade

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9. Jargon


Jargon consists of words that relate to a specific group, profession, or event.
  • actionable intelligence
  • bait and switch
  • behind the eight ball
  • best practice
  • bounced check
  • brain trust
  • bull market
  • circular file
  • core competency
  • face time
  • fall guy
  • file thirteen
  • food chain
  • free lunch
  • game changer
  • head count
  • hired gun
  • in the loop
  • in the red/black
  • in the running
  • out of pocket
  • push back
  • put to bed
  • time frame
  • value added

Medicine is full of Latin words that sound intimidating but mean relatively little. 

  • Thyroiditis (root word thyroid + itis meaning inflammation)
  • Myeloma (root word  myelo=marrow+ oma meaning growth)
  • Endocrinology (root word endocrine + ology meaning study of)
Although it is Latin, it is also their jargon. Medical terminology is full of acronyms. If you've ever listened to a professional conversation and been unable to follow the acronyms, you've listened to jargon.
  • CT scan (computed topography)
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
  • BMP (basic metabolic panel)
  • CBC (complete blood count)
  • PET scan (positron emission topography). 
Jargon is used as short-hand to refer to things common to people’s understanding. The art of texting has inspired an entirely new acronym vocabulary.
  • BTW - By The Way
  • IMHO - In My Humble Opinion
  • MOTD - Message Of The Day
  • FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
  • CYA - See You Around
  • HTH - Hope This Helps
  • FYI - For Your Information
  • LOL - Laugh Out Loud
  • PFA - Please Find Atached
The field of computing has spawned many jargon words:

  • blog
  • Byte
  • CD-Rom
  • disk drive
  • email
  • hard drive
  • hyperlink
  • internet
  • RAM
  • vlog

For fantasy and science fiction writers, building a new world can be enriched by adding a few - I stress few - new words and phrases. Make certain you clarify their meaning to the reader. Adding a dash of unique jargon brings your world to life. Too many obscure references, and you risk losing a reader's interest.

For historical writers, you have nitpicky fans. Look up when a term was first used. They love to point out your errors.


REVISION TIPS


? Turn on the Clichés, Colloquialisms, and Jargon option in the toolbox. They will be marked for you. As you read through your draft, decide which to keep and which to kill. Have you used the jargon intentionally?
? Does it mean what you think it means?
? Have you committed jargon abuse? Should you trim it?
? Does the jargon fit the time and place?
? Does the jargon fit the background and personality of the character uttering it?


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10. Every Year a Wilder Year!

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award is given to an author or illustrator “whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.”

During the 2014 ALA Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, the ALSC board voted to change the frequency of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award from every other year to every year.

There is such richness and depth among the field of children’s literature creators. Making the Wilder Award an annual honor gives ALSC increased opportunity to honor the significant contributions individual authors and illustrators have made over the course of their careers. It will also decrease confusion among ALSC members and others regarding when the award is given. No longer will the question, “Is this a Wilder year?” need to be asked or answered. Every year will be a Wilder year!

History:

The Wilder Award was first given in 1954 to its namesake, Laura Ingalls Wilder. It was awarded every five years through 1980. The frequency was then changed to every three years, which began with the 1983 award and continued through 2001. It became a biannual award starting in 2003 and this schedule will continue through the upcoming 2015 award.

Implementation:

The transition to the Wilder becoming an annual award will begin with a 2016 Wilder Committee. The 2017 committee that was just elected by the ALSC membership in May will be renamed the 2016 Wilder Award Committee. They will begin their work at the close of the 2015 ALA Midwinter Meeting just as all the other 2016 ALSC award committees, and they will work within the newly established Wilder Award one-year timeframe to name a 2016 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award recipient. (Under the biannual schedule, which the current 2015 Wilder committee is following, Wilder Award committees have done their work over two years.)

The Wilder Award will continue to be announced at the ALA Midwinter Meeting award press conference, and to be given at the ALSC Sunday night award banquet at the ALA Annual Meeting, which will be known from now on as the Newbery/Caldecott/Wilder Banquet.

For more information on the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, including a list of past recipients, go to: http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/wildermedal

The board decision was in response to the report of the board-appointed Wilder Award Frequency Task Force chaired by JoAnn Jonas and including members Amy Kellman, Martha Parravano and myself.

As always, the board welcomes your thoughts.

Megan Schliesman for the ALSC Board

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11. Warner Bros. Snatches Up Movie Rights to ‘The Goldfinch’

Warner Brothers has snatched up the movie rights to The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. Brett Ratner, Brad Simpson, and Nina Jacobson have signed on as producers.

Tartt’s lengthy fiction title won her the Pulitzer Prize earlier this year. She devoted 11 years to working on this book.

Here’s more from The Huffington Post: The Goldfinch, Tartt’s third novel, has sold at least 1.5 million copies, despite clocking in at an intimidating 784 pages — a length that may pose a challenge for the film adaptation. The novel, a coming-of-age story about a boy whose grief over his mother’s senseless death is assuaged by his dangerous and illegal love for a priceless painting, drew comparisons to Charles Dickens upon its publication and has continued to command critical attention and popular sales.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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12. leonardodicrapio: Leonardo DiCaprio gets attacked by a penguin...





leonardodicrapio:

Leonardo DiCaprio gets attacked by a penguin during a trip to Antarctica in 2006





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13. District Days

Are you ready for a late summer tradition? It’s not the end of SRP or back to school shopping, it’s District Days. Not quite sure what District Days are or need a refresher?

District Days are when congressional representatives return home to their districts on recess. The recess this year is from August 2-September 7. It is during this time that representatives will have office hours at their local offices, attend town hall meetings, and meet with constituents to speak with them about their issues and concerns.

This is a great opportunity for you to advocate for libraries and teens! You can demonstrate to your representatives why libraries are a valuable asset to their constituents and communities. District Days provide you the ability to let your voice as a librarian be heard before the representatives head back to Washington, D.C.

Not sure what to do or how to get started? The Legislation Committee will be providing you with some ideas and tips throughout District Days. However, a great place to start is with the District Days wiki.

Need to find out who your congressional representative is for your district? Or where their local office is in the district? There’s an app for that or check out this website.

Some things to keep in mind, as you start to prepare for District Days.

  1. Keep it simple. You don’t have to create an event just for your congressional representative to attend. Invite them to a teen program, such as a summer reading wrap up party.
  2. Include the event details. Date, time, location, and type of event plus estimated attendance and who will be attending the event.
  3. Provide information about your library. Key statistics, demographics, etc. but keep it concise.
  4. Make sure to publicize the event! Send information to local news outlets along with using social media.
  5. Follow up after the invitation is sent. Call them a week after it’s sent, if you haven’t heard back from them.
  6. They can’t make it, then try going to them. Contact their local office to schedule an appointment, while they are at home in their district.
  7. Send a thank you note. Once the event is over, don’t forget to thank your representative for taking the time to visit your library!

Staci Terrell is the Teen Services Librarian for the Anderson Public Library in Anderson, IN.   She currently serves as the Chair for the Children’s and Young People’s Division of the Indiana Library Federation.  Staci is also the Chair of the YALSA Legislation and is a member of the Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults selection committee.

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14. July Reflections

In July I read 48 books.

Board books, picture books, early readers:

  1. Very Little Red Riding Hood. Teresa Heapy. Illustrated by Sue Heap. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  2. Peppa Pig and the Vegetable Garden. 2014. Candlewick Press. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  3. Peppa Pig and the Great Vacation. Candlewick Press. 2014. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  4. Help! We Need A Title! Herve Tullet. 2014. Candlewick Press. 64 pages. [Source: Review copy]    
  5. I Pledge Allegiance. Pat Mora and Libby Martinez. Illustrated by Patrice Barton. 2014. Random House. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  6. Duck & Goose: Go To The Beach. Tad Hills. 2014. Random House. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]   
  7. The School for Cats. Esther Averill. 1947/2005. New York Review Children's Collection. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 
  8. Jenny's Moonlight Adventure. Esther Averill. 1949/2005. New York Review Children's Collection. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  9. Jenny's Birthday Book. Esther Averill. 1954/2005. New York Review Children's Collection. 44 pages. [Source: Library]
  10. The Fire Cat. Esther Averill. 1960/1983. HarperCollins. 64 pages. [Source: Own]
  11. Jenny and the Cat Club: A Collection of Favorite Stories About Jenny Linsky. Esther Averill. 1973/2003. New York Review Children's Collection. 176 pages. [Source: Library]
Middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction:
  1. Hidden Like Anne Frank. Marcel Prins. Peter Henk Steenhuis. Translated by Laura Watkinson. Scholastic. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]   
  2. The Girl From the Tar Paper School. Teri Kanefield. 2014. Abrams. 56 pages. [Source: Library] 
  3. What the Moon Said. Gayle Rosengren. 2014. Penguin. 224 pages. [Source: Library] 
  4. Alice-Miranda At School. Jacqueline Harvey. 2010/2011. Random House. 257 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  5. Dualed. Elsie Chapman. 2013. Random House. 304 pages. [Source: Library] 
  6. Enders. Lissa Price. 2014. Random House. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  7. The Swift Boys & Me. Kody Keplinger. 2014. Scholastic. 272 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  8. The Summer I Saved the World in 65 Days. Michele Weber Hurwitz. 2014. Random House. 272 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  9. Soldier Doll. Jennifer Gold. 2014. Second Story Press. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  10. Don't Even Think About It. Sarah Mlynowski. 2014. Random House. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  11. The Railway Children. E. Nesbit. 1906/2011. Penguin. 304 pages.  [Source: Bought]  
  12. You'll Like It Here (Everybody Does). Ruth White. 2011/2012. Random House. 272 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  13. The Dust Girl (American Fairy #1) Sarah Zettel. Random House. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  14. The Hotel Cat. Esther Averill. 1969/2005. New York Review Children's Collection. 180 pages. [Source: Library] 
  15. Captains of the City Streets. Esther Averill. 1972/2005. New York Review Children's Collection. 164 pages. [Source: Library]  
  16. Jenny Goes to Sea. Esther Averill. 1957/2005. New York Review Children's Collection. 140 pages. [Source: Library]
Adult fiction and nonfiction:
  1. North and South. Elizabeth Gaskell. 1854-1855. 452 pages. [Source: Bought]
  2. 50 Children: One Ordinary American Couple's Extraordinary Rescue Mission Into the Heart of Nazi Germany. Steven Pressman. 2014. HarperCollins. 320 pages. [Source: Library]  
  3. To Say Nothing of the Dog. Connie Willis. 1998. Bantam. 493 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  4. The Duke's Children. Anthony Trollope. 1880. 560 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]  
  5. Lost in Shangri-La. Mitchell Zuckoff. 2011. HarperCollins. 384 pages. [Source: Library] 
  6. The Merry Monarch's Wife. (A Queens of England Novel). Jean Plaidy. 1991/2008. Crown. 352 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  7. To Love And Be Wise. (Inspector Grant #4) Josephine Tey. 1951. Simon & Schuster. 208 pages. [Source: Bought]
  8. China Dolls. Lisa See. 2014. Random House. 376 pages. [Source: Library]
Christian fiction and nonfiction:
  1. Out of the Depths. Edgar Harrell, with David Harrell. 2014. Bethany House. 192 pages. [Source: Library]
  2. Mission at Nuremberg. Tim Townsend. 2014. HarperCollins. 400 pages. [Source: Library]
  3. Seeing the Unseen. Randy Alcorn. 2013. Eternal Perspective Ministries. 120 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  4. Luminary. Krista McGee. 2014. Thomas Nelson. 311 pages. [Source: Library]  
  5. Here Is Our God. Kathleen Buswell Nielson and D.A. Carson, editors. 2014. Crossway. 221 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  6. The Screwtape Letters. C.S. Lewis. 1942. HarperCollins. 224 pages. [Source: Library] 
  7. The Great Divorce. C.S. Lewis. 1945. HarperCollins. 160 pages. [Source: Library]  
  8. Burning Sky. Lori Benton. 2013. Waterbrook Press. 416 pages. [Source: Library]
  9. A Match Made in Texas: A Novella Collection. Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings, Carol Cox, and Mary Connealy. 2014. Bethany House. 384 pages. [Source: Library]  
  10. A Sensible Arrangement. Tracie Peterson. 2014. Bethany House. 336 pages. [Source: Library] 
  11. A Captain for Laura Rose. Stephanie Grace Whitson. 2014. FaithWords. 336 pages. [Source: Library]
  12. Full Steam Ahead. Karen Witemeyer. 2014. Bethany House. 352 pages. [Source: Library]
  13. 50 Days of Heaven: Reflections That Bring Eternity to Light. Randy Alcorn. 2006. Tyndale. 288 pages. [Source: Bought]

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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15. Amazon Defends eBook Pricing in Hachette Fight

Amazon has come out and defended its eBook pricing model arguing that a $14.99 or $19.99 is “unjustifiably high for an e-book.”

In a post on the Amazon Forums, the company argues that since eBooks don’t require printing, warehousing or  transportation costs, they should be less expensive than print books. Here is more from the post:

It’s also important to understand that e-books are highly price-elastic. This means that when the price goes up, customers buy much less. We’ve quantified the price elasticity of e-books from repeated measurements across many titles. For every copy an e-book would sell at $14.99, it would sell 1.74 copies if priced at $9.99. So, for example, if customers would buy 100,000 copies of a particular e-book at $14.99, then customers would buy 174,000 copies of that same e-book at $9.99. Total revenue at $14.99 would be $1,499,000. Total revenue at $9.99 is $1,738,000.

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16. New Themes: Edin and Espresso

Check out Edin and Espresso — today’s spiffy new additions to our massive family of themes.

Edin

Edin: Front Page

Edin is a brand-new, free business theme designed by yours truly. It’s a modern and fully responsive theme that will help you create a strong — yet beautiful — online presence for your business. Edin offers multiple theme options and supports the recently launched Site Logo feature.

Espresso

png

Espresso is a responsive, content-centric premium theme designed by Justin Carroll that allows you to choose between two charming layouts. Go with a traditional post stream for your writing-based blog, or go grid-style for your photography blog. A fixed sidebar on the right keeps widgets, menus, and social links at the ready for visitors.


Edin is a free theme, and Espresso is a premium upgrade. Check out each theme’s showcase by clicking on its screenshot above, or preview it on your blog from Appearance → Themes.


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17. BOBBEE BEE: The US-Israel Special Relationship Timeline That AIPAC Doesn’t Want You To See


The Bilzarian Report 2012


May 14, 1948- Official Recognition- The United States of America becomes the first country to officially recognize Israel as an independent nation.
1949-1973- US-Israel Aid Commences- The United States gives Israel an average of $122 million per year in foreign aid payments.
Summer 1954- Lavon Affair- Israel recruits Egyptian Jews to blow up American and British targets in Egypt. Israel planned on blaming the murderous false-flag attacks on the Muslim Brotherhood in an effort to garner support from the US and Britain. After officially denying any involvement, the Israeli government finally admitted their role in the incident in 2005 by honoring the surviving agents with a certificate of appreciation.

1955-1970- Israel Steals American Uranium to Build It’s First Nuclear Weapons- In 2011, the Institute for Research on Middle Eastern Policy examined hundreds of newly de-classified documents from the FBI and CIA and discovered that Israeli spies in collaboration with American Jews stole hundreds of kilograms of weapons grade uranium from US stockpiles and shipped it to Israel. Although Israel does not officially acknowledge the possession of nuclear weapons, their nuclear arsenal is estimated at between 200-300 nuclear weapons. (Source: PressTV)

1963- AIPAC Formed- The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) “America’s Pro-Israel” is formed, but refuses to comply with US law and register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. AIPAC has been in violation of federal law for nearly 50 years, but through political contributions and connections, AIPAC officials have remained above prosecution for their many violations of Federal law, including espionage (as addressed later).

June 8, 1967- USS Liberty- Israeli jets and torpedo boats attack the American naval ship USS Liberty with the intention of murdering every sailor on board and then blaming the attack on Egypt. Israel’s goal was to draw America into the Israeli-Arab War. Israel has officially claimed the attack was an “accident,” but every survivor of the USS Liberty claimed that it could not possibly have been an accident given that Israeli jets flew directly over the ship hours earlier on several occasions and one pilot flew so close that he waved to the US sailors, and the sailors waved back. Given the proximity of the jets and the surrounding facts of the incident, there is no question that Israel knew whose ship it was. Lt. General Marshall Carter, the director of the NSA, told congress the attack, “couldn’t be anything else but deliberate.” A later coverup ensued, and in 2002, Captain Ward JAGC senior counsel for the court of inquiry claimed that the court of inquiry’s findings were intended to coverup what was a deliberate attack by Israel on a ship it knew to be American.

1975- Oil Guarantee- The Jewish US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, secretly brokered a deal in which the United States of America guaranteed Israel’s oil supply in the event of a crisis. The 1975 Israel-United States Memorandum of Understanding (see the full text here) required the United States to maintain an oil reserve for Israel and guarantee the shipping of that oil to Israel in times of emergency. This deal has cost the United States more than a hundred billion dollars since it was first enacted. The most troubling aspect of this deal was not the cost however, but the stipulation that in case of an oil emergency in which both the US and Israel needed oil, the US would give its oil to Israel. Section 3 (b):

If the oil Israel needs to meet all of its normal requirements for domestic consumption is unavailable for purchase in circumstances where’ quantitative restrictions through embargo or otherwise also prevent the United States from procuring oil to meet its normal requirements, the United States Government will promptly make oil available for purchase by Israel in accordance with the International Energy Agency conservation and allocation formula as applied by the United States Government, in order to meet Israel’s essential requirements. If Israel is unable to secure the necessary means to transport such oil to Israel, the United States Government will make every effort to help Israel secure the necessary means of transport.
This is oil that would have been used to heat homes during the winter, power ambulances, and provide the fuel for tractors to farm America's agricultural lands. To put this into perspective, in the event of an oil crisis, the fuel that Americans would need to heat their homes, get them to work, and produce food would go to Israel. This agreement very well could have starved tens of thousands of Americans in order to save Israelis if an oil crisis would have taken place.

1978- US Starts Paying Egypt $1.3 Billion Annually In Exchange For Maintaining Good Relations With Israel- John McCain admitted in a CNN interview that US-Egyptian aid was essentially a bribe to maintain good relations with Israel. The aid was pledged during a US-brokered peace negotiation between Egypt and Israel, and began to be distributed just after the signing of the Egypt-Israel peace accord.

1980-1981- Israel Teams Up With Republicans to Defeat Jimmy Carter- During the Iran hostage crisis of 1979-1981, Israel, upset at President Jimmy Carter’s attempt to create a peaceful two-state solution in Palestine, used its clandestine operations in Iran to prevent American hostages from being released before Carter’s re-election bid. Carter wrote in his White House Diaries that Israel was purposefully thwarting the peace process with Palestine so it could continue to settle on Palestinian land. History has certainly proven Carter right, and Peter Beinart, the author of The Crisis of Zionism confirms this fact by investigating every major Israeli-Palestinain peace negotiation, and pointing out Israel’s efforts to subvert them. According to Consortium News, Israel used its operatives in Iran to ensure that US hostages were not released before the election, which doomed Carter’s chances for re-election. The hostages were released immediately after Reagan’s inauguration, and Israel was subsequently caught shipping US weapons to Iran after an Israeli chartered plane crashed in the Soviet Union. Israel claimed to have the Reagan administration’s approval for the transfer. As the Consortium article points out, recent discoveries make the cooperation between the Israelis and Republicans to remove a US President by using American hostages as political pawns, impossible to ignore.

1980-1990- Israel Steals American Technology and Equipment at Unprecedented Levels-

According to the Israeli newspaper Hareetz, “It is worth mentioning that in the 1980s, regardless of Jonathan Pollards’ espionage activities for Israel, Israeli companies and individuals were involved many cases of technological espionage, steeling U.S. secrets, technology and equipment. The most outstanding case involved Milco, a U.S. based company owned by Israeli tycoon Arnon Milchan, which bought and shipped equipment with which could have also been used as triggers for nuclear weapons.” Recently released FBI documents revealed that current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was integrally involved in the Milco incident.

1982- Sabra and Shatila Massacres- The Israeli military purposefully allowed a right-wing Lebanese militia to enter two Palestinian refugee camps, which were under Israel's control, and rape, murder, and dismember 800 civilians. Nearly all of the dead were women, children, and elderly men. In 1983, an Israeli investigation concluded that then Defense Minister Ariel Sharon bore “personal responsibility” for failing to prevent the massacre. The New York Times recently uncovered de-classified transcripts of conversations between US officials and Israeli officials, in which Israeli officials misled the Americans about the events in Beirut, and bullied them into accepting outrageous accusations that the Palestinian women and children were “terrorists,” and therefore deserved to be massacred. According to the New York Times, “The Sabra and Shatila massacres severely undercut America's influence in the Middle East, and its moral authority plummeted.” Only a year later, in 1983, the US marine barracks were bombed in Lebanon, in which 241 marines were killed.


1985- Jonathan Pollard Incident- A Jewish American named Jonathan Pollard was caught stealing American secrets and selling them to Israel. At first, Israel denied any involvement in the incident, but later admitted complicity in in 1998. The wife of Pollard’s handler, Avi Sella, worked for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and Pollard later admitted that a prominent ADL member was deeply involved in the spying. Like AIPAC, the ADL does not register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act as per the law, even though it works closely with the Mossad, and has been caught spying on Americans for Israel. Amazingly, the ADL even had the gumption to shamelessly appeal to President Clinton in 1993 to commute their spy’s sentence. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also campaigned for Pollard’s release.

1987- Israel Starts Receiving Regular Payments of More Than $3 Billion Per Year. The real US-Israel aid is estimated to be $15-$20 billion per year when valuable military equipment deemed “scrapped”, loan guarantees, under the table aid, and preferential contracts are factored in.
 
1990- First Gulf War. Saddam agreed to withdraw from Kuwait if Israel complied with international law and withdrew from Palestine. Instead of encouraging Israel to abide by international law, the US launched an attack on Iraq, even though Iraq did not threaten America's oil supply nor pose any danger to US interests. Israel did not send any troops or material support for the invasion.

1993- ADL Spying Scandal- San Francisco newspapers broke the story that the Jewish Anti-Defamation League, which has close ties to Israel, had been paying American police officers for confidential information, illegally wire-tapping phones, and even dumpster diving to acquire private information on American citizens. The Anti-Defamation League later sold the information to the Israeli and South African governments. Among the individuals the ADL spied on were civil rights activists deemed “anti-Israel”, Congressmen such as Nanci Pelosi, reporters, labor unions, the NAACP, African National Congress, and the Rainbow Coalition. Presumably the ADL was going to use any damning material acquired during their spying efforts to blackmail these politicians and influential people into changing their negative stances on Israel. Just one of their spies, Roy Bullock, had compiled files on more than 9,800 Americans and 950 organizations spanning three decades. After the search of the ADL offices, the San Francisco District Attorney said the ADL was conducting a “national spy network.”

1993- AIPAC President David Steiner Caught on Tape Bragging About his Organizations Incredible Power in America. Steiner first admitted to manipulating the US Secretary of State into giving Israel more foreign aid. Steiner said he, ”met with [Secretary of State] Jim Baker and I cut a deal with him. I got, besides the $3 billion, you know they're looking for the Jewish votes, and I’ll tell him whatever he wants to hear … Besides the $10 billion in loan guarantees which was a fabulous thing, $3 billion in foreign, in military aid, and I got almost a billion dollars in other goodies that people don’t even know about.”

In the same conversation, Steiner said he would support any politician who has been good to Israel over his own brother. He also discussed his efforts to get Jewish, and pro-Israel candidates re-elected, even by paying for a rigged poll. Steiner was attempting to raise money for dozens of pro-Israel candidates through his position at AIPAC, even though the organization claims that it doesn’t engage in such behavior. In the conversation, Steiner asked a potential Jewish donor to get his children to write checks in order to subvert political donation laws.



Steiner also said, “We gave two employees from AIPAC leave of absences to work on the [Clinton] campaign. I mean, we have a dozen people in that campaign, in the headquarters and they're all going to get big jobs. We have friends. I also work with a think tank, the Washington Institute. I have Michael Mandelbaum and Martin Indyk being foreign policy advisers. Steve Speigel— we've got friends this is my business.”


“I talked to Bill Clinton [and he made a commitment that] he's going to be very good to us.” ”One of my officers, Monte Friedkin, is one of the biggest fund-raisers for them [Clintons]. I mean, I have people like that all over the country.”

When asked if he knows who Bill Clinton would put on the Supreme Court if elected, Steiner replied, “We're talking now. We don’t have no commitments yet. We're just negotiating. We're more interested right now, in the Secretary of State and the Secretary of National Security Agency. That's more important to us.” He also said, “we are negotiating” who will be Secretary of State.

1993- Israel Caught Selling US Military Secrets to China- Israel sold $2-3 billion worth of sensitive US military technology to China. This was technology that the US had specifically forbidden to be delivered to China in anyway shape or form, as it would undermine America's national security. Read this link for the full story.

1996 GAO Spy Report- The Government Accountability Office reported that Israel spies on the US more than any other ally.

2000-2003 Iraq Sanctions- In 2000, AIPAC distributed a letter asking AIPAC members to put pressure on the US Congress and the President to ramp up sanctions on Iraq and block the oil for food program, which was providing Iraqi civilians with much needed food and medicine. In 2003, AIPAC attempted to block a bill that would have allowed US companies to export food and medicine to Iraqi civilians. AIPAC took the position that the food and medicine would not help the Iraqi people, which is obviously untrue, and that the bill would hasten Saddam'’s effort to procure weapons of mass destruction. Saddam was of course not building weapons of mass destruction, and the AIPAC efforts ended up murdering thousands of Iraqi civilians.

September 11, 2001- Five Dancing Israelis- The terrorists who perpetrated the worst attack on America in its history stated on record that their motivation was America's unabashed support for the apartheid regime of Israel. Five dancing Israelis were actually caught filming the world trade center attacks and dancing in celebration afterwards. When the Israelis were caught in a van that had contained explosives, they said we are all on the same side now against the Palestinians. The dancing Israelis later admitted on an Israeli talk show that they were there to document the event. Before the US government classified all information on Israel's involvement in 9-11, the FBI officially concluded that Israel had to have known of the attack before 9-11-2001 and didn't warn the US. After the attacks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “We are benefitting from one thing, and that is the attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, and the American struggle in Iraq.” He also said, “these events have swung American public opinion in our favor. At best, Israel knew of the attacks before hand and did not warn America because of the strategic support against the Palestinians that it would bring. At worst, Israel had a hand in planning the attacks.

2001- Israeli Spies Deported- More than 60 Israeli spies were arrested and detained. Most of them failed lie-detector tests about their spying activities on the US and their connection to the September 11, 2001 attacks.

2002- Harvard Economist Estimates Total US-Israel Aid At $3 trillion. Dr. Thomas R. Stauffer, a world renowned economist who taught economics and Middle East studies at Harvard, as well as serving twice in the Executive Office of the President on a task force for oil imports and controls, estimated that as of 2002 (in 2002 dollars) Israel has cost the US $3 trillion. His estimate took into account direct military aid, political support, oil price increases as a result of conflicts, and peripheral/hidden foreign aid.

In Stauffer’s estimation, US aid to Israel costs 275,000 American jobs per year due to unfair trade imbalances and sanctions on Israel’s enemies. In one example of under the table aid, Stauffer pointed out that the US actually gave Russia and Romania billions of dollars in undeclared aid to facilitate Jews moving to Israel. The US has also spent hundreds of billions in the region to secure friendly relationships with Israel. John McCain admitted in an interview that US aid to Egypt is really just a bribe so the Egyptians will maintain friendly relations with Israel. The US has also given Turkey and Greece billions for the same purpose.
A summary of Stauffer’s breakdown can be found here:

2003- Iraq War- In January 2003, AIPAC executive director Howard Kohr stated, “quietly lobbying Congress to approve the use of force in Iraq” was one of AIPAC’s successes over the past year.” Jeffrey Goldberg reported during a profile piece of AIPAC’s policy director Steven J. Rosen that, “AIPAC lobbied Congress in favor of the Iraq war.”

In addition, the US media, which by this point was almost completely controlled by Jewish American supporters of Israel (see this link for proof), refused to investigate the validity of the governments accusation of Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction. The mainstream media then went a step further by criticizing anti-war activists and even called them traitors who were against the troops. Many Americans leaders and reporters came out after the war and criticized the media for its pro-war propaganda, but very few spoke of the Israeli connection for fear of being labeled anti-Semitic.
Even though Israel aggressively lobbied America to attack Iraq, they committed no troops or resources to the struggle.

2005- AIPAC Spying Scandal- A pentagon analyst pleads guilty to passing military secrets to two AIPAC employees en route to Israel. After some political wrangling, all charges were dropped against the two Jewish AIPAC employees in 2009, even though the analyst agreed to testify against the AIPAC employees, and the government had overwhelming evidence to prosecute. It was later reported by Time magazine that Jane Harman, a Jewish congresswoman, was bribed by AIPAC to lobby the Department of Justice to drop the spying charges against the AIPAC employees. In 2009, CQ politics reported that Harman was caught on a NSA wiretap telling an Israeli agent that she would lobby the Department of Justice to drop the case.

2008-2009- Israel Fires White Phosphorous Shells Into Civilian Locations, Including a Crowded Refugee Camp. At first, the Israeli army categorically denied the use of white phosphorous gas on civilians (a war crime), but then later admitted it when video footage made it impossible to deny. These weapons were made in the USA. The entire planet criticized the barbaric and internationally illegal war crimes, but President Bush and the United States supported the Israeli atrocities, which hurt America’s standing in the world.

2010- Israel is Caught Stealing America’s Nuclear Triggers- The United States Bureau of Industry and Security released a report concluding that nuclear triggers were illegally exported to Israel. (Source)

2010- Israel Bribes US News Outlets for Biased Stories- Newly declassified files prove that Israel has actually been covertly paying American media outlets tens of millions of dollars to publish pro-Israel stories. Among other things, the documents revealed that Israel paid the Atlantic magazine $50,000 to disrupt a US peace proposal that would have allowed Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in Israel. These documents came from a Senate hearing, which ended up being censored by American politicians who received significant campaign financing from non-gentile sources. The bribed senators even went as far as sealing the most damning documents from the investigation.

January 13, 2012- Atlanta Jewish Times Owner Claims the Mossad is Considering Assassinating President Obama- Andrew Adler, the owner of the Atlanta Jewish Times, writes an article stating that Israel has three options in order to defend itself. 1. Attack Hezbollah and Hamas 2. Defy the US and attack Iran 3. “give the go-ahead for U.S.-based Mossad agents to take out a president deemed unfriendly to Israel in order for the current vice president to take his place, and forcefully dictate that the United States policy includes its helping the Jewish state obliterate its enemies.” He went on to say, “Yes you read three correctly. Order a hit on a US President in order to preserve Israel’s existence.” He claimed to know for sure that this option was already “being discussed in Israel’s most inner circles”, and given his high powered Israeli friends, you can bet that he is correct.

April 18, 2012- The Bilzerian Report Estimates the Total Cost of America’s Relationship with Israel, Adjusted for Inflation and Including the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to be in Excess of $5 trillion, or $16k per American.

July 28, 2012- CIA Reports that Israel is the Largest Spy Threat in the Middle East. The report details numerous incidents of Israeli spies breaking into American diplomats’ homes and offices to steal sensitive material.

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18. Poetry Friday - A review of On the Wing

Douglas Florian is a poet and artist who has created poetry picture books that explore a wide variety of subjects. Over the years I have greatly enjoyed reading these books, and it is interesting to see how he applies his considerable talent to take on a new topic that interests him.

Douglas Florian
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Harcourt, 1996, 978-0152023669
Birds truly are remarkable animals. They come in a dazzling array of colors, live on every continent, and make their homes in all kinds of places. In this wonderful picture book Douglas Florian pairs short poems with his artwork to give readers a true celebration of birds.
   Over the millennia birds have evolved to suit many kinds of environments. Some birds, like the egret, sail on water and then rest on the beach making it seem as if there is a “feathered hat” lying on the sand. Dippers love to dip and dive in waterfalls. They are so aquatic that one wonders if they would be happy to “trade / Their oily wings for flippers.” They are such good swimmers that it is possible that the little birds might “think that they are fish.”
   Birds come in all shapes and sizes. The spoonbill is tall and thin with a beak that does indeed look like a long-handled spoon. In his poem about this rather odd looking species, Douglas Florian wonders if the spoonbill uses its bill “for stirring tea” or does it “use it as a scoop / For eating peas and drinking soup.”
   The stork has a bill that is perfectly suited for the environment it lives in. Wading through shallow water, the bird uses it rapier like bill to stab frogs and other creatures. Woodpeckers also have beaks that are perfectly adapted so that they can get to their chosen food - insects that live in wood and sap that runs through wood. Not only are these beaks perfect for creating holes, but woodpeckers also use them to communicate.
   With clever touches of humor and insightful descriptions, this collection of poems will give young readers a colorful picture of twenty-one bird speci

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19. BOBBEE BEE: WHOSE JOB IS IT?

THIS is a story about four people named EVERYBODY, SOMEBODY, ANYBODY, AND NOBODY. There was an important job to be done and EVERYBODY was sure SOMEBODY would do it. ANYBODY could have done it, but NOBODY did it. SOMEBODY got angry about that, because it was EVERYBODY'S job. EVERYBODY thought ANYBODY could do it but NOBODY realized that EVERYBODY wouldn't do it. It ended up that EVERYBODY blamed SOMEBODY when NOBODY did what ANYBODY could have done.


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20. George W. Bush is Writing a Book About His Father

Former president George W. Bush is working on a book about his father George H. W. Bush.

The book has yet to be titled but is slated for a November 11, 2014 release in the U.S. and Canada by Crown Publishers. The hardcover edition’s first printing will include one million copies.

Here is more about the book from the press release: “…the book covers the entire scope of the elder President Bush’s life and career, including his service in the Pacific during World War II, his pioneering work in the Texas oil business, and his political rise as a Congressman, U.S. Representative to China and the United Nations, CIA Director, Vice President, and President.”

 

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21. Kevin Powers on faith in finely tuned language

A few days ago I wrote of my urgent need, this summer, for urgent books. I'm inside of one of those right now—Kevin Powers' war novel, The Yellow Birds, which earns both its literary accolades and its bestseller status. In an interview with Jonathan Ruppin included in the paperback edition, Powers says this about language:
You're also a poet and this comes across in the deeply lyrical quality of your prose. Was this intended in counterpoint to the rawness of the dialogue?

I intended it as a counterpoint not just to the rawness of the dialogue, but also to the rawness of the experience. In that respect it is more point than counterpoint. In trying to demonstrate Bartle's mental state, I felt very strongly that the language would have to be prominent. Language is, in its essence, a set of noises and signs that represent what is happening inside our heads. If I have faith that those noises and signs can be received and understood by another person, then I should also have faith that they can be made more finely tuned.


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22. SDCC ’14: A Conversation with Vivek J. Tiwary, writer of ‘The Fifth Beatle’

Vivek_Tiwary_TEDxFultonStreet_600pxBy: Kyle Pinion

Vivek J. Tiwary is a multiple award winning Broadway Producer whose productions have netted 25 Tony Awards and 44 Tony nominations. The culmination of decades of research, The Fifth Beatle, his graphic novel telling the tale of Brian Epstein, the man who discovered and managed The Beatles was released in November of last year. As of this past Friday, Tiwary is also an Eisner Award Winner as The Fifth Beatle won the award for “Best Reality Based Work”.

Just prior to this win, I had a chance to sit down with Tiwary and discuss this stunning graphic novel and some of the background behind it.

When did you first hear the name Brian Epstein?

I’m a life-long Beatles fan. My parents introduced me to the Beatles. My parents always say that I was listening to the Beatles before I was born, because my mom was listening to them when she was pregnant. I’ve always been a bit of a nerdy guy, a bit of an academic…following history, and in terms of comics, I’d get into creators. Who were the artists? The inkers? And similarly with bands, I’d get very involved in who signed them and who their managers were. I probably heard his name 30 years ago, but it was 20 years ago when I was in business school in Philadelphia that I decided to learn something about the guy. I realized that The Beatles and Brian were the team that wrote and re-wrote the rules of the pop music business, but I didn’t know anything about him. So it was about 20 years ago that I really said “Who is this Brian Epstein character that I heard who managed and discovered the band?”

I understand you spent 20 years in research for the project. What did that research entail?

Starting this project 20 years ago, if you put that in perspective; during that time, there’s no Wikipedia, no YouTube, no Google. There are none of these online resources that we take for granted today, and there are no books about Brian Epstein. The Fifth Beatle is the only book in print, graphic novel or otherwise, about Brian. So 21 years ago, I didn’t have any choice but to do interviews. I had basically read all of the respected Beatles books and slowly I put together a portrait of the people that knew Brian best. And then I just cold-called these people, and they were not the celebrity names. Certainly there are people like (Paul) McCartney and Ringo Starr who obviously knew Brian, but Brian’s management style was to shield the band from his struggles. There’s a line in the book: “You focus on your music, and I will play the business like my instrument, and you will never have to hear it.” The people who knew Brian best, like Nat Weiss, who is in the book, was his best friend and the Beatles’ US attorney. Sid Bernstein, who is not in the book by character, but his spirit is in the book, was the Jewish concert promoter who brought the Beatles over to the United States for the first time. And he and Brian shared some of the same struggles of being Jewish men hustling in the music industry in the 1960’s. It’s a bit strange to think of this now, but in that time, there wasn’t an extensive number of Jewish people in that industry, especially not in the United Kingdom where the industry was run by Lou Gray and Sir Joseph Lockwood – these older, white Christian Knights of the British Empire. It wasn’t run by individuals with names like Epstein. So literally I just figured out who were the people who knew Brian best, and I cold-called them. I focused on the people who were within driving distance, like Nat and Sid who were both New Yorkers, and I just said “Hey, I’m a young person, looking for more inspiration and I got inspired by the little bit I know about Brian, would you talk to me?” And I will be honest, I was so excited about reaching out to these people that I forgot to be intimidated, and not one of them turned me down. That’s how I began my research. Obviously it expanded from just the people who were nearby. I wound up talking to Joanne Newfield, who is now Joanne Peterson. She was Brian Epstein’s personal assistant, and she was literally there with him the day he died. So, she was a great reference to me, while living in Australia now. That’s how I did my research, with people living all over the globe.

Did sources ever conflict in their accounts of Brian at all?

All the time. This is one of the challenges that any biographer faces, but certainly one for anyone that is working on a Beatles-related project and for someone who is as little known as Brian. There were people who said “Brian would never do that” and someone else would say “Brian totally did that.” Even little things, like when I presented the book to some people, they would say “Brian would never call his mother ‘Mommy,’” with others knowing him very well saying that he was very close with his mom and would absolutely do that. So who do you believe? As a biographer, you have to do all the research that you can, and you either go with the person that you think is the most reliable on that issue, or you interview five people and if three of them say it’s one way, you have to go with the majority. Those are the two decisions you make. But at the end of the day, that’s the role of the biographer. You have to go with what you think is the truth.

When did Andrew Robinson come into the picture?

Like I said, it was about 20 years ago that I started researching the subject. It was about ten years ago that I decided that I wanted to write a graphic novel, and that started with scripting and figuring out how I wanted to tell the book. It was about five or six years ago that I was looking for an artist. I was making the book independently at first, before Dark Horse was involved, and I hired a gentleman named Mark Irwin, who was the book’s first editor and a very accomplished inker in his own right. But in his role for me he was working as an independent editor, helping me with my script and helping me to find an artist. He was working with Andrew at the time, and Andrew was one of the very first people that Mark recommended. I knew Andrew as a comic geek. I knew he was an amazing artist, and I knew he could certainly do the job and do it beautifully. But it was really when I sat down with Andrew and started talking to him that I realized that he was perfect. It was important for me, because it was my first graphic novel, and partially because I come from theater, which is a collaborative field. So working very closely with the artist was something that I wanted. It was clear that Andrew and I were going to have that kind of relationship. He also was a huge Beatles fan but understood that this was Brian’s story, and it was the human element of Brian’s story that really appealed to Andrew. To me, that was critical in the storytelling of The Fifth Beatle.

In relation to your theater background, how would you liken your role and Andrew’s role to the traditional ones seen in film and on stage?

If you’re looking at as a film, then I suppose I am both the writer and the director, and Andrew is the cinematographer, and the art department, and a bit of the music director as well. Much like a film, we really collaborated on everything. There were pages of my script where I was very specific. I knew in my head that I want four panels here, and I want one panel to look like this and a camera angle to be this. There were entire sequences where I said here is what the characters are going through and here is how they feel, here is what is emotionally happening and here is the dialogue, but I have no idea how to do this. Andrew would then come back to me with it all laid out. We really did both. There are some comic writers who are very particular and want things exactly this way, and there are some that have no idea and just provide dialogue, and I guess I’m a bit of both. There were some scenes where I was very meticulous, down to photo references, and then there were others where I wanted Andrew to have mastery over it.

I can’t imagine the feeling you must have had when you saw the finished product.

Oh my gosh, I remember the experience I had when I saw Andrew’s first page, which was page one, the Liverpool panorama, and it was like my heart literally skipped a beat. It was watching my dreams visually come to life. It was amazing.

How would you define the relationship that Brian had with John vs. the one he had with Paul?

Obviously, Brian’s relationship with John is deep and complex. John was the leader of the group when Brian started working with The Beatles, and by the end of their career as a band, John and Paul were both taking leadership roles. But in the beginning, there was no question that it was John’s band. So, Brian really did start working closely with John, because he was making a lot of the big decisions. A lot has been made about Brian and John and whether they had a romantic relationship, and there’s no question in my mind that Brian was attracted to all of The Beatles, in particular to John. But as you’ll see, the way I handled that in the book – I think that John teased him somewhat mercilessly as John I think was wont to do. John was one of these guys that had a very acerbic wit, and he put his friends through the ringer. To hang with John Lennon, you had to earn your stripes. So I really think there was a lot of love between the two of them, a lot of genuine love, but I don’t think it was a romantic love. If anything for Brian, it bordered on the love a father has for a child, in a lot of ways. I think Brian viewed the Beatles as the children, as a gay man, he would never have. A gay man in the 1960’s where it was illegal to be gay, forget about getting married and adopting. Brian was very paternal with The Beatles. There was a friendship there that was emotional and familial. I think Brian’s relationship with Paul was a little more business-oriented. Paul was more about the numbers, the image and the marketing than John was, and certainly at the end of the book there’s a scene where a number of people visit Brian on his death bed and he had these hallucinatory moments, Paul is one of the people that shows up. Obviously that’s a fantasy, that’s my creative license as an author, but you’ll see in that sequence they talk a lot about the business. Brian says “you’re the one that’s going to be in charge of the legacy,” because he knew that Paul was going to be the person that was going to take charge of the legacy most seriously from a business perspective. Not that John wasn’t proud of the legacy as the founder of The Beatles, and as a key member, but Paul is really the one that understood it from a business stand-point: The books, the greatest hits records, the preserving of the band historically, that’s a Paul thing and was also a Brian thing as well. Brian’s relationship with Paul had a more archival aspect if that makes sense, the caring about and the creation of history.
John also had other interests brewing at that time as well, with Yoko coming into the picture or about to do so.
Lennon once said “there were only two people in his entire life that he would listen to and do whatever they told him and that was Brian and Yoko.” And Yoko really comes into the picture where Brian left off, and John even says this, she filled an almost paternal void that he felt when Brian left. John sometimes needed somebody to tell him what the fuck to do. That’s not to say Yoko and Brian were similar. There was just a part of their relationship with John that was.

For those who have read the book, this has been a question that’s bantered back and forth a bit, how open to interpretation is the existence of Moxie?

Very! I will go on and let you decide how much to print because I do like the fact that you walk out of the book with the ability to debate that subject. That was the point. I want readers to not be sure about this. That being said, there was no real person named Moxie, however everything Moxie does was done by four assistants. She is most closely based on Joanne Peterson, who I mentioned earlier, who was Brian’s personal assistant, she was there when Brian died. She will readily say she had an innocent crush on Brian. She didn’t romantically chase him, but he was older, intelligent, well-dressed and debonair. He was everything that a man should be in her teenage eyes. She loved Brian in that sense in the way that Moxie does. Moxie is also one-part Wendy Hanson, who was another female assistant Brian had. She’s also one part Alistair Taylor, who was the assistant that first took Brian to The Cavern Club in 1961, which Moxie does in the book. She’s also one part Peter Brown, who worked very closely with Brian and very closely with The Beatles afterwards. So if I had to answer the question very specifically, she’s a conflation of four real-life people. I also wanted Moxie to be a little bit of Brian’s head. She’s Brian’s “moxie”, his ambition, his drive. She’s a lot of different things, so I hope her existence does cause some debate amongst fans of The Fifth Beatle and Beatles fans. While it doesn’t take more than a Google search to know that there was no real-life Moxie, everything she did is based on history. Brian took Joanne Peterson to a ball and ballroom danced with her. She said it was one of the best nights of her life. But JoAnne is not Moxie…at the end of the day, she’s my creation and I think she represents Brian’s ambition in life.

But Dizz is real though?

Dizz is very real unfortunately. There was a gentleman in real life named John Gillespie, people nicknamed him “Dizz”. He blackmailed Brian; he was a hustler. He flew to the UK and blackmailed Brian in public. Since we’re getting specific, I will say I made up the television interview. He did blackmail Brian in public, but it was at a party, not on television. Dizz was unfortunately a very real person.

Any future projects that we can get excited about?

There’s a few things that I have cooking that I can’t quite talk about, but I’m working with Alanis Morrisette, and we’re adapting her album Jagged Little Pill for the stage. We’re turning it into that into a Broadway Musical. I’m incredibly excited about that. I expect we’ll be able to announce our writer within the next few months. Tom Kitt is already attached to compose orchestrations and arrangements, which Tom did for me on American Idiot, of which I was a producer, and he’s a genius. He’s a Pulitzer and Tony winner for Next to Normal, so he’s amazing. That’s probably the key thing that people can get excited about. Right here at San Diego Comic Con, I wrote a short story for Harbinger Issue 25, their anniversary issue. It’s out and here at the convention. Gilbert Hernandez, the wonderful Gilbert Hernandez drew an exclusive cover for Harbinger and it’s a benefit for the CBLDF (Comic Book Legal Defense Fund), and we’ll be doing a signing here at the show. This is a dream come true, the man is a genius, to say that Julio’s Day was one of my inspirations for The Fifth Beatle would be an understatement, and I’m thrilled to be working with him. Harbinger 25 is out now, it’s in stores, and I’m very proud of the story I wrote for that. There’s certainly The Fifth Beatle film as well, which we’re in active development on. We’re in the casting process, and we’re on track to shoot next year.

Is Peyton Reed still attached to direct?

Now that Peyton is attached to Ant-Man, scheduling has become a bit of a tricky thing. Peyton loves The Fifth Beatle, we love Peyton, but we’ll have to see how the schedule plays itself out.

2 Comments on SDCC ’14: A Conversation with Vivek J. Tiwary, writer of ‘The Fifth Beatle’, last added: 7/31/2014
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23. Man of war


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24. The Scarecrows' Wedding: Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

Book: The Scarecrows' Wedding
Author: Julia Donaldson
Illustrator: Axel Scheffler
Pages: 32
Age Range: 4-8

The Scarecrows' Wedding is the latest picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axle Scheffler, the team that created the beloved book The Gruffalo. The Gruffalo is one of my husband's favorite books to read aloud to our four-year-old daughter. They like the rhythm of the text, combined with the every-so-slight scariness of "the deep dark woods." The Scarecrows' Wedding has a similar rhythmic feel. It is a book that begs to be read aloud. The subject matter is a bit lighter, though there is a risk of death near the end of the book.

In The Scarecrows' Wedding, scarecrows Betty O'Barley and Harry O'Hay decide to get married. Betty draws up a short list of her expectations for the wedding. Their farmyard friends help with some of these, but Harry ends up gong off on a quest to find "lots of pink flowers." While he's gone, a slick new scarecrow attempts to make time with Betty. But, of course, it all works out in the end. 

Here's an example of Donaldson's bouncy text:

"They hadn't gone far when some cows gathered round,
And the bells round their necks made a wonderful sound.
Ring-a-ding ding! Ring-a-ding ding!
"Oh, cows, will you please come and make your bells ring
For our wonderful wedding, the best wedding yet,
The wedding that no one will ever forget?"

That last bit, about the wonderful wedding that no one will ever forget, is repeated at intervals throughout the book, giving young readers a chance to chime in. There's subtle humor for adult readers, too, like the fact that the scarecrow who intervenes is called "Reginald Rake." He looks like a rake, too. 

Scheffler's illustrations are kid-friendly, with wide-eyed people and animals. The affection between the two scarecrows is conveyed via their companionable proximity and pink-cheeked smiles. The scarecrows move about as awkwardly as you would expect scarecrows to move, and there are tons of different types of animals to name and count sprinkled throughout the book. 

I believe that The Scarecrows' Wedding is going to make an immediate entry into my family's go-to bedtime reading list. It is a sure-fire hit, and must-purchase for libraries. This will be a great title to read to kids, alone or in groups, come fall. Highly recommended. 

Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books (@Scholastic)
Publication Date: July 29, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

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This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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25. Harry Potter Book Covers Revealed

Bloomsbury Children’s Books will publish new editions of JK Rowling’s wildly successful Harry Potter books on September 1st.

Artist Jonny Duddle created the new covers for each of the seven books. In advance of the new releases, the publisher has revealed the updated covers for the new books. Check them out after the jump.

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