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1. Popping Off About Comics and Reading Level

Yes, indeed I am talking comics, reading level, and what's "appropriate." But I'm not doing it here. No! I'm over at the Darby Pop blog, Beyond the Cover.

Go on, check it out - Ka-Boom!

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2. Goodbye, July

…she says, half a week into August.

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We had family in town and spent a day hanging out with them at their fabulous beach hotel, and another afternoon touring the harbor on a boat cruise. Glorious weather. At one point, we were approaching Point Loma for a glimpse of the lighthouse when my nephew’s phone buzzed—it was Verizon Wireless texting him a “Welcome to Mexico” message. That was just about as far as we got before turning around to cruise past the downtown area. We saw dolphins and sea lions and pelicans—a perfectly satisfying day, according to Miss Rilla, who spent much of the boat ride standing in the wind with her arms spread wide and her grin even wider.

One of the nicest things about living in San Diego is that so many friends wind up vacationing here, and we get to join in.

Back home, I’ve been in blissful planning mode. I adore low tide; low tide is a deep delight; but my little listmaking heart glories in the voyage-charting of high tide just as thoroughly. I spent a morning gathering books from all over the house to fill a shelf for Huck—treasures I want to be sure my last six-year-old (sniff) doesn’t miss. I’ll try to get a picture and a post up soon, because I know some of you enjoy comparing notes that way.

Plans are afoot for Rilla and my two high-school-age girls too: more booklists, more shelves filling up. Every August I do this massive rearranging of the tomes, shifting high-tide resources to the living room where we do indeed do the bulk of our living. Twentieth-century history for the teens this year, and earth science, and Shakespeare of course, and a fat list of literary texts, and the languages they are studying separately. All juicy stuff. Beanie is forging ahead with German, which is extra fun for me, since I’m fair-to-middling in that language myself and always longing to improve my skills.

And loads and loads of art—along with poetry, perhaps our most constant occupation these days. At Comic-Con, I tried out my (brilliantly talented) friend Zander‘s pocket brush pen and was thoroughly intimidated by it. The next day, our (also staggeringly talented) friend Mark Chiarello showed us art from his forthcoming book (his first since his gorgeous book on the Negro Leagues), and he too was working with this pen, whose merits the extraordinary Roz Stendahl is always talking about. Between them, they convinced me to give it a try, and ohhhh, it turns out I’m in love. It is loosening up my line so much. I have a tendency toward a very careful and nervous line, and I’m feeling much freer about taking chances and using my whole arm, thanks to a few weeks with this pen. My book is filling up with a lot of messy, not-so-lovely pages, but in a good way. And every now and then I draw a line I really like. That’s progress.

Meanwhile, Rilla and I are about to dive into Sketchbook Skool’s “More Playing” klass, which started yesterday. We had a ball with “Playing” in July. Our favorite project was the drawing where we took turns for thirty seconds at a time, filling a page with nonsense. Much hilarity there. This, too, is something I’d like to post more about in the week ahead.

I’m overdue for a books post, too. Got on an Anne Shirley kick in July, following my Betsy-Tacy kick in June. Read the series through House of Dreams (skipped Windy Poplars, because I don’t have it on Kindle). I swear Dreams is better every time, even a dozen or more times later.

I also revisited Pudd’nhead Wilson for the first time since high school—shaking my head in bed at Twain’s audacity the whole way through. Oh, how I love him. I’m deep into Mansfield Park right now. No particular reason; it just decided I needed to reread it. I’m a Persuasion person first and foremost, and then P&P, but I do enjoy Mansfield. The urge to smack Mary Crawford upside the head is such a satisfying sensation.

Well, that’s the news from these parts. What’s your August looking like?

owlfriend

Oh, and I met an owl.

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3.


The Temple of Doubt

by Anne Boles Levy

Fifteen-year-old Hadara and her mother Lia are technically committing a sin when they collect plants and make medicines. The priests of the Temple of Doubt use magic to cure people under the power of their god Nihil; natural remedies are heresy. But magic doesn't always work, and the priests usually look the other way and ignore the illicit medicines.

Everything changes when two powerful Azwans visit Port Sapphire. The Azwans are Nihil's highest priests, or "navigators," and they come seeking a demon that fell from the sky. Hadara and Lia are forced to guide the expedition to find the demon, because of their knowledge of the swamps and the secretive race called Gek who live there. But the swamps are dangerous and the Gek hostile to outsiders. Add in an arrogant Azwan who thinks he can take what he wants, and the expedition may not make it out of the swamps alive.

In The Temple of Doubt, Anne Boles Levy has created a beautifully detailed world, complete with three separate races and cultures, and a well-developed and unique religion. The religion is an amazing thing: Levy has obviously put a lot of work into developing it, including scriptural quotes at the beginning of each chapter. As you would expect, faith is a theme explored in this book. Although their religion is based on doubt and ambiguity, it seems like the followers of Nihil are not allowed any doubt or ambiguity in their faith, and are expected to conform and obey in all things. There are hints that there is more to this religion than it appears, and I look forward to seeing where Levy goes with it.

Hadara is a great character that teens will appreciate. She's bright and curious and bold in a culture which frowns on those characteristics, especially in a young woman. Hadara's impulsiveness gets her in trouble, especially her inability to stop herself from speaking her mind. Hadara has trouble with faith; as bright and curious as she is, she can't help asking questions, or thinking that the things she has to learn are pointless. She knows the names of a thousand plants and animals, but she can't remember the name of a single one of Nihil's wives, or their faults.

The relationship that Hadara begins to develop with one of the soldiers is disconcerting, but I think it was intended to be. Any relationship that begins with a power imbalance is bound to be uncomfortable, particularly given the destruction caused by the soldiers. Hadara holds her own, but even she feels discomfort and confusion about the situation, even as she begins to develop genuine liking for the soldier, and he seems to genuinely like her. It's interesting as a developing friendship dealing with differences in culture as well as the power imbalance, however I never really felt enough chemistry between them to make anything more than friendship credible.

The pacing is a little uneven, and although there are several exciting scenes, overall this is a book that you read slowly and ponder. I actually enjoyed it more on the second read because I picked up on more detail and development on the second time around. This is the first book in a series, and so in part it sets up the rest of the series. It'll be interesting to see how it develops.

Who would like this book?

Teens who like richly developed worlds and strong female characters. This is a book that will appeal more to teens who like their fantasy slower-paced and thoughtful.

Diversity?

Hadara and her people have bronze skin, in contrast to the Feroxi soldiers accompanying the Azwans, who are described as being very fair. One of the Azwans has ebony skin, and is described as handsome.

Buy The Temple of Doubt from Amazon.com

FTC required disclosure

Review copy sent by the publisher to enable me to write this review. Anne Boles Levy is an online friend whom I've met several times in person. We've worked closely together on the Cybils Awards. However, I don't write biased reviews even for a friend. The bookstore links above are affiliate links, and I earn a very small percentage of any sales made through the links. None of these things influenced my review.

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4. ‘My Africa’ by Sariel Keslasi

Sariel Keslasi animates a song from the new double album of Gilad Kahana.

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5. TUT Audiobook is Now Available!

Being a *huge* audiobook fan, I am really excited to announce that the audiobook for TUT: THE STORY OF MY IMMORTAL LIFE is now available. 


I know I am a bit biased, but I've listened to over 300 audiobooks in the last fifteen years, and this book seriously tops the list of my favorite audiobooks. I am so proud of it! And I swear, it is not just because I wrote the book.


Why, you might ask? Let's see...

1) The narration is spot on. Every character. Every joke. Every serious moment. They are all executed perfectly by narrator Ryan Borses. If you haven't checked out this seriously talented guy, then you are totally missing out.

2) Music? TUT has it! Not only is narrator Ryan an amazing voice actor, he also composes music, and thus, at the beginning of each chapter is one of seven original compositions just for TUT. They fit the mood of the chapter, and really tie it all together.
(*squee* that TUT has music!!!)

3) Gil sounds just like Lego Batman. I love that! Because Batman.


So if you're looking for the perfect road trip book to finish off summer, if you enjoy listening to audiobooks with your kids, or if you are simply an audiobook fanatic like I am, I'd love if you'd check out TUT! I promise that you won't regret it. :)




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6. new & improved

Welcome to my WIP--a combined blog and website!  Please bear with me while I get it all set up, and here's a poem about the process to keep me going...this one pretty much records my edit >update>preview>edit loop.


from constant change figures | Lyn Hejinian

constant change figures
the time we sense
passing on its effect
surpassing things we've known before
since memory
of many things is called
experience
but what of what
we call nature's picture
surpassing things we call
since memory
we call nature's picture
surpassing things we've known before
constant change figures
experience
passing on its effect
but what of what
constant change figures
since memory
of many things is called
the time we sense
called nature's picture
but what of what
in the time we sense
surpassing things we've known before
passing on its effect
is experience
 
 

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7. tuesday's tools....

a weekly peek at some of my "tools" of the trade. from my happily overly worked paintbrushes to my beloved derwent graphitint pencils...they all play a part in my creative bliss. :)










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8. "Migration Through Moab" to be part of Durango Art Center's- The Natural World: A Fragile Harmony


"Migration Through Moab"
Fabric Collage

to be part of the Durango Art Center Member's Show

The Natural World: A Fragile Harmony

August 7th- September 19th
Tuesdays- Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Opening Reception
This Friday
August 7th, 5-7 p.m.

802 East Second Ave, Durango, Colorado
970-259-2606

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9. August Reading

At the beginning of July I was astonished at how fast June went by, now here we are in August and it seems like July flew by even faster. How is that possible? I had better get to work on building that chicken coop or I will be SOL when the temperature plunges and the snow begins to fall and frantic to get it done in the uncertain spring weather. Of course, the chickens have to be about 10-12 weeks old before they can be moved outside, but I’d rather not have to feel rushed. Have I mentioned I borrowed Building Chicken Coops for Dummies from the library? I have always looked down my nose a bit at the “Dummies” books but no more! This is one fantastic book! So much useful advice on every aspect of building a coop. Of course it has a basic plan as well, and while it is not exactly what we are planning, it is still very useful. So yay!

July didn’t afford long hours on lazy hot days for reading. Instead I was sweating in the garden or sweating on my bike or collapsed on the sofa recovering from said activities. August will likely follow the same route. Does that keep me from planning all sorts of reading? Of course it doesn’t!

I am currently in the midst of and almost done with a bunch of books. I am about 90 pages away from finishing Portrait of a Lady by Henry James. This is one fantastic book! I am on tenterhooks about the ending. It feels like there is something ominous ahead. If this turns out not to be the case, I won’t be disappointed because the anticipation has been sweet and I really like Isabel Archer.

I am also very close to finishing a review copy of a book called Miss Emily by Nuala O’Connor. It is told in alternating chapters from the perspective of an Irish maid-of-all-work to the Dickinson family and Emily herself. Once I finish it, the publisher has kindly offered a second copy for a giveaway. So look for that, probably next week sometime.

A third book I am almost done with is The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson. This is one of those slim books you have to read slowly. It is a mixed genre sort of book written in an episodic/collage kind of style. It is thought provoking in all kinds of ways and I am liking it very much even if sometimes I feel like I am not quite getting it.

I am still enjoying The Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak. Sadly when a book needs to be set aside, this seems to be the one. I don’t know why but that is how it is. Hopefully I will be turning the last page by the end of the month. It is time to set something else aside instead if I have to.

I am not close to finishing but am in the middle of Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear. I’ve not read Bear before and am greatly enjoying this steampunk tale with sassy women and no good politicians.

I have Kelly Link’s newest collection Get in Trouble from the library and didn’t think I would actually get a chance to read it before having to return it and get in line again. But as luck would have it, the holds queue completely evaporated by the time the book came up for renewal so I renewed it and should be able to finish it. I have read one or two stories and they are typical Kelly Link weird.

One book I have from the library I know I won’t be able to read is Mark Danielewski’s newest, The Familiar. It is a big fat book and like his past books it is not a straight forward text. It looks interesting but I haven’t had the chance to spend much time with it to know whether I actually want to read it. If I do decide to read it I will have to buy my own copy so I am not forced to rush through it.

I have also begun a little study of Elizabeth Bishop. I have her Poems and finished the first volume of her published work, North & South, last week. Already I like her much better than Keats. I also have One Art, a collection of her letters and have begun reading that. What a good letter writer she was! So smart and funny, a completely different voice than in her poetry. And as luck would have it, there seems to be a bit of an Elizabeth Bishop revival in the works. I’ve seen numerous articles and essays about her around the internet in the last several months and the inimitable Colm Tóibín has just published a slim book called On Elizabeth Bishop. I just borrowed it from the library yesterday and am greatly looking forward to reading.

That should keep me going for August and into September too! Any good books on your plate?


Filed under: Books, In Progress Tagged: Whoever said summer was for hours of lazy reading didn't live in a four-season climate with long cold winters

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10. BLOG TOUR & GIVEAWAY // Of Dreams and Rust by Sarah Fine

From Becs... I'm so incredibly stoked for this post today, ya'll! I absolutely ADORED Of Metal and Wishes last year, which is a Phantom of the Opera retelling that you need in your life ASAP! I'm so honored to be on the OF DREAMS AND RUST tour. I have my review letter for you guys today, AND a super cool giveaway!  ABOUT THE BOOK:    Of Dreams and Rust (Of Metal and Wishes #2) by

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11. Are Computer Generated Visual Effects Ruining Movies?

The best answer you'll ever hear to this question.

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12. Supporting the Arts in Libraries

Summer Reading Club is winding down and as I look at the list of programs our branch libraries have hosted, I am impressed with the fantastic array of choices. For a rural library system, we’ve got the arts covered! From Musical Zoo (two musicians take a big box of instruments and let kids go wild), to marionette shows to photography and crafts, the arts are alive and well in our little libraries.

Backstage at the puppet show - photo by Angela Reynolds

Backstage at the puppet show – photo by Angela Reynolds

This summer we hosted a touring marionette show. This stood out for a few reasons — one, this show was visiting from Quebec, and we’d never seen it in Nova Scotia. Two girls I spoke to at a show in our area had never been to a live puppet show before! I helped organize the tour, which went to pretty much every cove and cranny of our little province. The puppeteer stayed a couple of nights at our house, and we had some great conversations about the arts and public libraries. He told me how much he loved performing at libraries, and how much he appreciated the fact that libraries still believe in things like puppet shows and storytelling. He mentioned that there’s something special going on in libraries these days- libraries are a community place that people feel good about.

Now I know this sounds like something I talked him into saying. I wish I’d had a tape recorder because it would have made a great advertisement for what we do in our libraries. Not only do we provide great programming that allows kids to explore their artistic side, we also support the artists who create great programs for kids and families. We do workshops for librarians so they can expand their horizons in the arts. We host music concerts, art workshops, craft programs, theatre demonstrations, and so much more! What do YOU do in your libraries to support the arts — and the artists?

The post Supporting the Arts in Libraries appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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13. Publishing Jobs: Macmillan, University Press, Weldon Owen

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14. Press Release Fun: Middle Grade Twitter Chat!

This week I received the following piece of info:

“Mighty Media Press is hosting and moderating a Twitter chat on August 18th, with six middle grade authors to discuss how middle grade fiction can teach readers about creativity and imagination; and how it helps them confront and solve real-life struggles and conflicts.

Our hope is to bring greater attention to this reading level of fiction, and to create a discussion among the broader community. We welcome anyone and everyone to participate and contribute answers. Mighty Media Press (@Mighty Press) will be moderating and posing the questions.”

And here’s the poster:

MiddleGradeTwitterChat

Share

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15. Night Beach by Kirsty Eagar

Imagine there is someone you like so much that just thinking about them leaves you desperate and reckless. You crave them in a way that's not rational, not right, and you're becoming somebody you don't recognise, and certainly don't respect, but you don't even care. 
And this person you like is unattainable. 
Except for one thing . . . 
He lives downstairs.

Abbie has three obsessions. Art. The ocean. And Kane. But since Kane's been back, he's changed. There's a darkness shadowing him that only Abbie can see. And it wants her in its world.

A Gothic story about the very dark things that feed the creative process, from the winner of the 2010 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for young adult fiction.

This is a case where you can judge a book by its cover. The novel is atmospheric and spooky and the cover suits it perfectly. This novel is weird, which I love, dark and strange and interesting. Abbie is not always a likeable character, or a good decision-maker (she is obsessive to an incredibly worrying degree), and Kane, with whom she is obsessed, is often downright awful. It's paranormal, I suppose, but not your typical paranormal - there's not clear-cut romance or predictable plotlines. It is both real and unreal (and quite surreal, too, now I think about it).

It's distinctly different from both of Eagar's previous novels - Saltwater Vampires is more paranormal and more humorous, and Raw Blue is much more realistic and written in a more straightforward style. I think there are quite a number of writers from whom you can generally expect something similar with each book - whether that's the writer's doing or the publisher's is hard to tell. That's both a good thing and a bad thing. It's good in that if you discover a book you love, then there's more where that came from in the writer's back catalogue, and it makes it easier to clearly define a writer's style. It's bad in that some writers can become predictable. What I think is obvious from Eagar's novels is that she's a writer who is constantly developing and challenging herself, and as a result each of her novels published so far is unique. So I can't necessarily say if you loved Raw Blue, you'll love Night Beach, too - the writing style is more complex, the plot is supernatural, and the central character is far less sympathetic - but I can say that Night Beach is brilliant.

My greatest disappointment with the novel (look away now if you want to avoid a spoiler, though it's not a major one) is that a dog is killed, which I didn't think was entirely necessary. There are certain things in novels that I can't stomach, and this is one of them. (Though it speaks to how involved I was in the story that I found that event so horrendous; if it were a poorly executed novel and it had felt inauthentic, it wouldn't have bothered me as much.)

This book was published three years ago, so I'm a little disappointed I didn't read it until just recently - I think I have a tendency to favour contemporary in my YA reading. If this sounds like the sort of novel you'd like (weird/dark/intense) then do not skip over it. It is beautifully written, and very compelling, and different and strange and so worth reading.

Night Beach on the publisher's website.

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16. Vicious review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Xurxo Borrazás' Vicious -- somewhat surprisingly, the first translation-from-the-Galician under review at the complete review.

       This is published by Small Stations Press, which is the kind of undertaking that can make you believe that even the most far-fetched publishing across borders and languages isn't a pipe-dream: here's a publisher specializing in translations from the Galician (number of native speakers: 2.4 million, according to Wikipedia's generous estimate) based in ... Bulgaria. (Yes, they also publish in Bulgarian.)
       If that doesn't bring a smile to your face and make you believe anything is possible ..... Read the rest of this post

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17. The Boyler Kat; Process Pics

The Boyler Kat a illustrated response to my MFA related New York City visit last November. These are some some pictures from the creative process.

via Studio Bowes Art Blog at http://ift.tt/1T1lnd0

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18. Digitizing the Iraqi national library

       Vivian Salama's AP story -- here at the Daily Star -- is, as so much news about cultural preservation from this part of the world over the past decade-plus has been, deeply depressing, as she reports on Facing ISIS threat, Iraq digitizes national library.
       Preservation, good, yeah, but .....
       (Other recent efforts -- "Earlier archives from 1920 to 1977, including sensitive Interior Ministry documents, had been stored in rice bags and survived the blaze" -- can only be relied on so far .....)

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19. The Boyler Kat; Process Pics


via Emergent Ideas The Boyler Kat; Process Pics

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20. NEA translation fellowships

       The (American) National Endowment for the Arts has announced its Fiscal Year 2016 NEA Literature Translation Fellowship Recipients (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) and there are a lot of neat projects here, including:

  • Philip Boehm for his translation of Ilija Trojanow's EisTau (see e.g. the New Books in German information page) -- working title apparently: The Lamentations of Zeno

  • Michael Leong for his translation of Vicente Huidobro's Sky-Quake

  • Michael F. Moore for a new translation of Alessandro Manzoni's The Betrothed

  • Kit Schluter tackling some Marcel Schwob

  • Donna Stonecipher translating some Friederike Mayröcker
       All in all, a lot of great stuff being supported here.

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21. Fifty Cents an Hour

When I was a teen, to earn some cash
I babysat at night.
I watched their kids, they drove me home;
It all turned out all right.

My asking price was 50 cents
(An hour) if before
The clock struck midnight; then I could
Request a quarter more.

They often gave a tip besides,
Perhaps an extra buck,
So I could bring 5 dollars home
If I had any luck.

The going rate today, I heard,
Is 12 an hour or more.
The earnings from a single night
Add up to quite a score.

They do not get a bonus, though,
If parents stay out late,
A point of pride when for that raise,
I did negotiate.

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22. Waiting on Wednesday \\ NIGHTFALL Jake Halpern & Peter Kujawinski

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. Pick of the week: Nightfall Author: Jake Halpern & Peter Kujawinski Release Date: September 22nd 2015 Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers AMAZON | GOODREADS A story where edge-of-your-seat horror meets

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23. Disney Explains Its Powerful New Hyperion Rendering Engine

Disney Animation made a fun and informative film explaining the new renderer it used on "Big Hero 6" and the upcoming "Zootopia."

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24. Writer Wednesday: Merriam-Webster and Chicago Manual of Style Are Your Friends

If you subscribe to my newsletter, then you'll remember that last month I mentioned being mindful of different spellings of words depending on how they are being used. Yes, I'm talking about the same word being spelled differently if it's used as a noun, verb, adjective, etc. Crazy, right? That's the English language for you. ;)

Grammar geeks like me, thrive on this stuff, but the typical writer does not. My suggestion is to make Merriam-Webster and Chicago Manual of Style your best friends. I always have a tab open to Merriam-Webster to make sure I'm using the proper spelling for words. I also refer to Chicago manual of Style's hyphenation table quite frequently. As an editor, I have to do this because I don't want errors in my clients' books. But all authors should do this. Here's an example of what I mean:

speed dial — This is the noun form. I hit four on my speed dial.
speed-dial — This is the verb form. I speed-dial Trish.

Spell check (Ugh, don't get me started on spell check!) won't catch these mistakes. (Spell check is stupid. It often suggests changes that are incorrect! Oops, there I go again.)

So, if you're unsure of a word—whether to hyphenate it, write it as one word, or write it as two—check Merriam-Webster and Chicago Manual of Style. (Seriously, bookmark both of those pages!) Your editor will love you for it. ;)

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25. Separated at Birth: The Hiketeia and The Paybacks

The cover to The Paybacks (left), a new Dark Horse series by writers Donny Cates and Eliot Rahal and artist Geoff Shaw bears a striking resemblance to JG Jones' covers for Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia, written by Greg Rucka (right). Doncha think?

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