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1. Starting to blog about children's books I read, #BookADay, and why I DON'T do formal book reviews (so please don't ask)

As some of you already know, I've been participating in Donalyn Miller's Summer Book-A-Day Challenge and having great fun with it; you can see my posts so far here and all my #BookADay collages on Flickr.

I've decided to keep posting about the children's and YA books I read (and re-read) this way, even if I'm unable to do it every day. But now I'm torn; I'm not really adhering to the rules of the official #BookADay challenge...although I AM reading/rereading an average of a picture book a day, I don't always post about it. I mentioned on FB that I'm pulling back a wee bit from online distractions so I can get more writing done.

I enjoy the process of putting together these mini book-collages, however, especially for favourites I'm re-reading, because it gives me an excuse to delve more into the background of the book as well as finding out more about the author and illustrator. I also love hearing from people who say my post has prompted them to check out the books, or are reminded of a book they need to reread or share with their students.

Because I'm not strictly following the #BookADay rules, however, I'm going to change the footer of these images from now on...else I'll feel like a #BookADay cheater!

Please note that these are not meant to be formal book reviews. I AM NOT A BOOK REVIEWER. I just like reading books written for young people, and sometimes I am going to blog about them. I want to make this clear because I strongly prefer NOT being contacted about reviewing books. Reading a book for review or critique vastly changes the reading experience for me, and I am already finding it a challenge to carve out time for pleasure reading.

I avoid posting negative comments about books I read. My posts do not criticize the books and are not meant to be objective reviews. If I truly dislike a book, I just won't post about it*. Chances are good I just didn't finish it. I would much rather spend that time and energy talking about books I do like. There is enough snark and negativity in reader reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. I have also seen how a single, hate-filled anonymous review can affect a hardworking author. Yes, we need to develop thick skins as authors, but no one deserves some of the personal attacks I've seen on those sites.

Note that I consider the above reviews very different from thoughtful and well-balanced critical reviews by those who have no hidden agenda.

I tend to agree with Hallie Sawyer, who makes a distinction between book reviews and book recommendations. In addition to highlighting some of the books I've been reading and re-reading, one of my goals has also been to let others know (especially teachers and librarians) about books they may not be aware of, or have not yet had time to read themselves.

Why am I going on and on about NOT being a book reviewer? Because in the past, when I have done informal so-called book reviews, I've been inundated with publicists and authors who want me to review books. They want to send me books. If I don't respond right away, they follow up with multiple emails.

I need to clarify a few points:

I am not short on books to read.

I am short on time to read.

I would much rather pay money to buy a book I'm 90% sure I'll enjoy than get a free book that only vaguely interests me at the outset.

Okay, enough on that topic.  

Thanks again to Donalyn Miller, whose Book-A-Day Challenge inspired me to start doing these book mini-collages, and who has been inspiring countless others to do more summer reading!

----

*Note: If I haven't posted about your book and you know I own it, please DON'T assume I disliked it. I may not have read it or finished reading it, may have finished and enjoyed it but not yet had time to post about it, or it may simply be one of the many books I've read and enjoyed in the past but never posted about. 

 

 

0 Comments on Starting to blog about children's books I read, #BookADay, and why I DON'T do formal book reviews (so please don't ask) as of 8/20/2014 2:49:00 PM
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2. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at fifty



Happy fiftieth birthday to Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which was originally published in 1964. To celebrate, Penguin has a new paperback edition plus a golden ticket sweepstakes.

It's hard to imagine a book that was more influential for me than Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and all of Roald Dahl's books for that matter, which were so powerful with their combination of humor, heart, but with a very sinister underpinning that perfectly captures what it's like to be 10-12 years old. The world at the age is amazing and funny and wondrous, but also a little scary.

Happy birthday to one of the greatest children's books of all time. While many people's memories of the book are shaped by the equally indelible film version Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (and to a lesser extent the Johnny Depp/Tim Burton version), some of us remember that Veruca Salt wanted a squirrel and not a golden goose, Mike Teavee was overly stretched to ten feet tall, and a vermicious knid is an alien, not a dangerous creature on Loopaland.

What's your memory of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?

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3. Who Can Recommend a Good Book?

by Julie Eshbaugh

~~~

Julie

I’m fascinated by lists of “recommended reading” - not only do such lists help us discover great books, but they also reveal quite a bit about the person who created the list. (For example, someone over at LibraryThing.com has cataloged the contents of Marilyn Monroe’s personal library. Reading through the list reveals a lot about the private interests of such a public person.)

Recently, while searching for lists of “favorite books” or “recommended reading,” I stumbled upon a very cool site - OpenCulture.com. Clearly, someone there enjoys reading lists as much as I do, because the site includes a fantastic sidebar titled “Reading Lists by…” Here you can find reading lists compiled by some well-known and fascinating people.

Reading over the lists, I noticed, with regret, a lack of diversity among the recommended books. Other than that common problem, however, I was surprised by how little overlap the lists contained. Below is a sampling of a few lists I found interesting. Others included on OpenCulture.com are by F Scott Fitzgerald, Allen Ginsberg, Christopher Hitchens, Joseph Brodsky, WH Auden, Donald Barthelme, and Carl Sagan.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson

ndgt

In an “ask me anything” feature on Reddit.com, popular astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson was asked, “Which books should be read by every single intelligent person on the planet?” The following list, along with short explanations of each choice, was his response:

1.) The Bible - “to learn that it’s easier to be told by others what to think and believe than it is to think for yourself.”

2.) The System of the World by Isaac Newton – “to learn that the universe is a knowable place.”

3.) On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin - “to learn of our kinship with all other life on Earth.”

4.) Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift – “to learn, among other satirical lessons, that most of the time humans are Yahoos.”

5.) The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine  – “to learn how the power of rational thought is the primary source of freedom in the world.”

6.) The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith - “to learn that capitalism is an economy of greed, a force of nature unto itself.”

7.) The Art of War by Sun Tsu - “to learn that the act of killing fellow humans can be raised to an art.”

8.) The Prince by Machiavelli - “to learn that people not in power will do all they can to acquire it, and people in power will do all they can to keep it.”

Tyson clarified that he chose these books because, “If you read all of the above works you will glean profound insight into most of what has driven the history of the western world.”

David Bowie

david-bowie

In 2013, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London created an exhibition called “David Bowie is…” The exhibition, a retrospective of Bowie’s career and influence on the arts, is currently touring internationally, and includes a list of Bowie’s 100 favorite books. Here’s the (long) list (clearly influenced by his love of music):

The Age of American Unreason, Susan Jacoby, 2008

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz, 2007

The Coast of Utopia (trilogy), Tom Stoppard, 2007

Teenage: The Creation of Youth 1875-1945, Jon Savage, 2007

Fingersmith, Sarah Waters, 2002

The Trial of Henry Kissinger, Christopher Hitchens, 2001

Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder, Lawrence Weschler, 1997

A People’s Tragedy: The Russian Revolution 1890-1924, Orlando Figes, 1997

The Insult, Rupert Thomson, 1996

Wonder Boys, Michael Chabon, 1995

The Bird Artist, Howard Norman, 1994

Kafka Was The Rage: A Greenwich Village Memoir, Anatole Broyard, 1993

Beyond the Brillo Box: The Visual Arts in Post-Historical Perspective, Arthur C. Danto, 1992

Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, Camille Paglia, 1990

David Bomberg, Richard Cork, 1988

Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom, Peter Guralnick, 1986

The Songlines, Bruce Chatwin, 1986

Hawksmoor, Peter Ackroyd, 1985

Nowhere To Run: The Story of Soul Music, Gerri Hirshey, 1984

Nights at the Circus, Angela Carter, 1984

Money, Martin Amis, 1984

White Noise, Don DeLillo, 1984

Flaubert’s Parrot, Julian Barnes, 1984

The Life and Times of Little Richard, Charles White, 1984

A People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn, 1980

A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole, 1980

Interviews with Francis Bacon, David Sylvester, 1980

Darkness at Noon, Arthur Koestler, 1980

Earthly Powers, Anthony Burgess, 1980

Raw (a ‘graphix magazine’) 1980-91

Viz (magazine) 1979 –

The Gnostic Gospels, Elaine Pagels, 1979

Metropolitan Life, Fran Lebowitz, 1978

In Between the Sheets, Ian McEwan, 1978

Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews, ed. Malcolm Cowley, 1977

The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, Julian Jaynes, 1976

Tales of Beatnik Glory, Ed Saunders, 1975

Mystery Train, Greil Marcus, 1975

Selected Poems, Frank O’Hara, 1974

Before the Deluge: A Portrait of Berlin in the 1920s, Otto Friedrich, 1972

In Bluebeard’s Castle : Some Notes Towards the Re-definition of Culture, George Steiner, 1971

Octobriana and the Russian Underground, Peter Sadecky, 1971

The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock and Roll, Charlie Gillete, 1970

The Quest For Christa T, Christa Wolf, 1968

Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of Rock, Nik Cohn, 1968

The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov, 1967

Journey into the Whirlwind, Eugenia Ginzburg, 1967

Last Exit to Brooklyn, Hubert Selby Jr. , 1966

In Cold Blood, Truman Capote, 1965

City of Night, John Rechy, 1965

Herzog, Saul Bellow, 1964

Puckoon, Spike Milligan, 1963

The American Way of Death, Jessica Mitford, 1963

The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea, Yukio Mishima, 1963

The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin, 1963

A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess, 1962

Inside the Whale and Other Essays, George Orwell, 1962

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark, 1961

Private Eye (magazine) 1961 –

On Having No Head: Zen and the Rediscovery of the Obvious, Douglas Harding, 1961

Silence: Lectures and Writing, John Cage, 1961

Strange People, Frank Edwards, 1961

The Divided Self, R. D. Laing, 1960

All The Emperor’s Horses, David Kidd,1960

Billy Liar, Keith Waterhouse, 1959

The Leopard, Giuseppe Di Lampedusa, 1958

On The Road, Jack Kerouac, 1957

The Hidden Persuaders, Vance Packard, 1957

Room at the Top, John Braine, 1957

A Grave for a Dolphin, Alberto Denti di Pirajno, 1956

The Outsider, Colin Wilson, 1956

Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov, 1955

Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell, 1949

The Street, Ann Petry, 1946

Black Boy, Richard Wright, 1945

Ernest Hemingway

ErnestHemingwayAn aspiring writer named Arnold Samuelson traveled to Key West in 1934 and knocked on Ernest Hemingway’s front door, seeking writing advice. During their conversation the following day, Hemingway asked Samuelson if he’d ever read Tolstoy’s War and Peace. When he said he hadn’t, Hemingway offered to write out a list of books he felt the aspiring writer ought to read. The list includes two short stories by Stephen Crane and 14 books:

“The Blue Hotel” by Stephen Crane

“The Open Boat” by Stephen Crane

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

Dubliners by James Joyce

The Red and the Black by Stendhal

Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann

Hail and Farewell by George Moore

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The Oxford Book of English Verse

The Enormous Room by E.E. Cummings

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Far Away and Long Ago by W.H. Hudson

The American by Henry James

And lastly, for those of you who believe that the task of comparing one book to another is too subjective, here’s a brilliant quote from Virginia Woolf, from her 1925 essay, “How Should One Read a Book” :

VirginiaWoolf“The only advice … that one person can give another about reading is to take no advice, to follow your own instincts, to use your own reason, to come to your own conclusions. If this is agreed between us, then I feel at the liberty to put forward a few ideas and suggestions because you will not allow them to fetter that independence which is the most important quality that a reader can possess. After all, what laws can be laid down about books? The battle of Waterloo was certainly fought on a certain day; but is Hamlet a better play than Lear? Nobody can say. Each must decide that question for himself. To admit authorities, however heavily furred and gowned, into our libraries and let them tell us how to read, what to read, what value to place upon what we read, is to destroy the spirit of freedom which is the breath of those sanctuaries. Everywhere else we may be bound by laws and conventions — there we have none.”

 

So what do you think? Do you enjoy book recommendations and lists of “Best Books”? Do you find any merit in the above lists? Do you agree with Virginia Woolf that we should not “admit authorities” to tell us “what to read”? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

 ~~~

Julie Eshbaugh writes fiction for young adults. She is represented by Adams Literary. You can add Julie on Goodreads and follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.

Virginia Woolf

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4. June Books of the Month

writing_prompt_book_recommendation

It’s Books of the Month time again!

By now, you all know the drill. It’s the end of June. Obviously, that means it’s time for the most exciting (okay, okay, I’m biased) post of the month . . . BOOKS OF THE MONTH!!! I feel like this post should be celebrated with an ice cream cake and confetti every month. I know I’m not the only person who gets really happy every time this post goes up, though! Last month you guys really came out in support of your favorite books. There were so many!share what books you were reading.

Then we made a word cloud to show which titles were most popular. I think it’s pretty obvious which series the people of the STACKS are loving this month: Percy Jackson!

June Books of the Month

Let’s keep this going! What books are you reading now? What books do you love and recommend? Leave the title (or titles!) in the Comments section below. I’m about to dive headfirst into Kingdom Keepers now, and I can’t wait to see which new series pop up next time around!

See ya later,

image from kids.scholastic.com — En-Szu, STACKS Staffer

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5. Book Recommendation: Every Breath by Ellie Marney

Book Recommendation banner

 

by

Amie Kaufman

amie165c-twitterI know I promised you Part 2 of my productivity series this month, but I couldn’t resist stopping to recommend this fantastic book to you–you guys know how that feels, right? I’ll be back to work for you soon enough, but today I want to talk about a book I loved. It’s an Australian book that’s a brilliant nod to an old story, as well as a super smart mystery with a complex tapestry of diverse characters in a very special setting. This is a teenaged Holmes and Watson in Melbourne, Australia. Climb on board, my friends, you’re going to love it.

Every Breath AUSWhat if Sherlock Holmes was the boy next door?

When James Mycroft drags Rachel Watts off on a night mission to the Melbourne Zoo, the last thing she expects to find is the mutilated body of Homeless Dave, one of Mycroft’s numerous eccentric friends. But Mycroft’s passion for forensics leads him to realize that something about the scene isn’t right–and he wants Watts to help him investigate the murder. 

While Watts battles her attraction to bad-boy Mycroft, he’s busy getting himself expelled and clashing with the police, becoming murder suspect number one. When Watts and Mycroft unknowingly reveal too much to the cold-blooded killer, they find themselves in the lion’s den–literally. A trip to the zoo will never have quite the same meaning to Rachel Watts again…

I KNOW RIGHT? Let’s break it down.

THE SETTING

Every Breath is set in my home town of Melbourne, Australia, and let me tell you, Ellie Marney gets it right. From the turnstiles of Melbourne Zoo to the arguments about which way to go to avoid a traffic jam, she knows this city. If you want a book that will transport you to a place you’ve never been (though really, why haven’t you come to visit us?) and bring you up close and personal with the grittier side of an Australian city, this is it. Step outside the settings you’re used to and try something completely different–you’ll love it.

THE CHARACTERS

The cast of characters in Every Breath is something to behold. Our narrator is Rachel Watts, a country girl whose family has been forced into the city when their farm goes bankrupt. She’s desperately homesick, and as her family struggle to adjust, life keeps piling one thing after another on top of her. Rachel has every reason to be bitter, and she could easily have been that sort of narrator–finding fault with everything. Frankly, she has the right to complain. She could have been suspicious of the cast of characters she meets in this book, some of whom are unlike the people she knew at home. Instead, we encounter characters who are ethnically and sexually diverse, who suffer mental illness and are unique in many ways, and meet each of them through Rachel’s unique–and nonjudgemental–perspective. We sit down and have a chat with the sort of homeless guy most people carefully walk past. We learn to question first impressions. Rachel’s perspective forces the reader to slow down and take a much closer look at everyone around them.

THE MYSTERY

I’m the first to admit I’m no Miss Marple, but gosh, the mystery was well done. Marney resisted the urge to make Mycroft some sort of super freak, taking short-cuts and effortlessly deducing anything that stands still for a moment. Instead, he has to think, sweat, rely on Watts, and take public transport to follow up on leads — these two are teenagers, after all. He’s a dark, troubled teen who isn’t coping with the death of his parents, as confused and self-destructive as he is cuttingly intelligent. And behind this book’s murder mystery — which is, don’t worry, resolved by the end — there’s the promise of a much larger, even darker mystery that will span the series.

THE HISTORY

Sometimes when an old story is retold, the author or filmmaker sticks too closely to the original source material–decisions that originally made sense don’t now, but are stuck in there anyway. Character traits that don’t work in a new place or time hang about, and they jar. Ellie Marney dodges this deftly. She clearly draws her inspiration for Mycroft and Watts from the original Sherlock and Watson, but she makes the story her own, and it’s all the richer for it.

Every Breath is out now in Australia, and the sequel, Every Word, has just launched. For readers in North America, Every Breath will be out later this year–go add it on Goodreads so you don’t forget, or better yet, pre-order it from your favourite bookseller. (As per this  post from Claire Legrand, pre-orders are like unicorns, a fantastic way to show support for your favourite authors!)

What’s a book you love set in a place you know? I’d love to hear your recommendations!

Amie Kaufman is the co-author of THESE BROKEN STARS, a YA sci-fi novel out now from Disney-Hyperion (US) and Allen & Unwin (Australia). Book two, THIS SHATTERED WORLD, is coming soon, and her new trilogy will start with ILLUMINAE, coming from Random House/Knopf in 2015. She is represented by Tracey Adams of Adams Literary. You can find her on Twitter or on Facebook, or visit the These Broken Stars website for exclusive sneak-peeks and contests. Amie lives in Melbourne, Australia, with her husband and rescue dog.

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6. Summer reading and home library suggestions from the ALSC

large_SummerReadingLists14_ALSC

If you need summer reading lists for students in grades K-8, the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) has your back.

ALSC — a division of the American Library Association (ALA) — has updated its lists and provided them in color and black & white formats that make it easy to print these up and distribute them.

ALSC also has the backs of Shark Vs. Train and The Day-Glo Brothers, both of which are included on this year’s summer reading lists. Not only that, but Shark Vs. Train is also included among the titles the ALSC included on its updated home library recommendation lists.

Thank you, ALSC!

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7. Gay Pride Month PB, MG and YA Book Recommendations

It is June, which means it’s Gay Pride Month, The French Open at Roland Garros and the beginning of my annual summer blog hiatus (to write a novel, just in case ya think it’s all about pina coladas, beaches and … Continue reading

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8. Pay It Forward Day

by

Rachel Seigel

Today we are breaking our usual no Thursday post rule to mark a special event. Today is the 5th annual “Pay It Forward Day”, with the aim of inspiring 3 million acts of kindness around the world.

The concept of Pay it Forward is simple. Instead of paying back a good deed to the original benefactor, you do a good deed for someone else. If everybody in the world followed this principle, imagine what could happen!

bWhile the concept is actually quite old, in 1999 author Catherine Ryan Hyde published a novel called Pay It Forward (later adapted to film) that started an international movement of giving.

In the book, it’s a challenge to do three good deeds for others in response to a good deed done for you, and it should be something the beneficiary cannot accomplish on their own. This way, the practice spreads at a ratio of three to one, making the world a better place. While the original version was published as an adult book, a young reader’s edition will be available this August.

The Pay it Forward Movement and Foundation was founded in the USA, helping start a ripple effect of kindness acts around the world. Charley Johnson, the newly appointed president of the foundation, had an idea for encouraging kindness acts by having a Pay it Forward Bracelet that could be worn as a reminder. Since then, over a million Pay it Forward bracelets have been distributed in over 100 countries sparking acts of kindness. If you are interested in getting more information about these bracelets, visit this website: http://www.pifexperience.org/bracelets

b (2)Adults are not the only people who can get involved, and Canadian author Nancy Runstedler recently published Pay it Forward Kids which introduces readers to ordinary kids from across North America who have done and are doing extraordinary things. A percentage of all royalties from the project will be donated to the official Pay It Forward Foundation, so if you have kids of your own, know somebody with kids, or work in education, this is a must-have book!

For more information on Pay It Forward Day and how to get involved, you can visit the official website:http://payitforwardday.com

If you haven’t read the novel that inspired the movement, visit your local bookstore or library and get your copy. And in the meantime, challenge yourself today to perform one act of kindness for somebody else. You never know when that kind act will come full circle and make its way back to you!

Rachel Seigel is the Sales and Selection Strategist for EduReference Publisher’s Direct Inc. in Ontario. She also maintains a personal blog at http://readingtimbits.blogspot.com and can be found on Twitter as @rachelnseigel.

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9. MMGM: AFTER THE BOOK DEAL w/ Jonathan Auxier (plus the 4/21/14 links!)


Don't go into shock--but I actually have a proper post this week. A really good one, too. PROBABLY because I didn't write it. But hey, I had to be organized enough to get it all assembled and posted for you, so... it's progress, right?????

All kidding aside, I'm SO excited to share this most from the amazing Jonathan Auxier with you guys. Partially because he's super flippin' smart in it. But mostly because I'm a huge fan of his books, so it's always fun when I get to support them.

And so, without further ado, I give you: AFTER THE BOOK DEAL, by Jonathan Auxier:


The Internet is full of great advice about how to sell a book, but what about after the sale? When my first book came out, I found it was surprisingly hard to find answers to some basic questions. Like most authors, I learned most of the answers through trial and error. And so in anticipation of the launch of my new novel, The Night Gardener, I’ve decided to write down everything I learned so I don’t make the same mistakes twice!

AFTER THE BOOK DEAL is a month-long blog series detailing the twenty things I wish someone had told me before entering the exciting world of children’s publishing. Each weekday from now until MAY 20, I will be posting an article on a different blog. Follow along and please spread the word!



***

DAY ONE - Finding Your Tribe

Publishing is a slow process—usually taking more than a year between sale and publication. For a new author, desperate to see their book on a shelf, it can be an agonizing wait. But this delay is a good thing, because you need that time to prepare! This first week, I’ll be talking about the five things you need to do in the months before your book comes out.

The first thing any new author should do—and they should start as soon as possible—is find a community of friends within the book world. This can be easier said than done.

Right after selling Peter Nimble, I dedicated myself to learning all about the kidlit/YA community. I spent months reading every klidlit blog and website I could. The goal was simple: find my tribe. Even in a market as small as ours, there is a lot of diversity—some people love paranormal romance, some want to talk about education, some want to talk about public libraries, and some want to discuss old books (that would be me!). The more widely I read, the more I was able to determine which authors/bloggers/teachers/librarians shared my own interests and passion.

Your goal is not to determine a “target audience” or anything so cynical. Think of yourself as a new kid in school, scoping out the yard during recess, looking for friends. That last word is key: these people will be your friends. So look for people that you actually like and whose opinions and interests you respect.

So how do you turn these strangers into friends? Reaching out to virtual strangers can be daunting. The trick lies in nine simple words:

“Can I buy you lunch and pick your brain?”

The best way to learn about the industry is to talk to people who are in the industry. And the best way to talk to these people is to spend time with them in person and learn about their lives. When I entered the world of children’s publishing, I did just this. After meeting a few authors/bloggers/librarians who I admired, I made a point to seeking them out. If you’re not in the same city, then you’ll probably have to meet up with people at conferences and book festivals (which I’ll be discussing in week two!).

Please note that this is not about pitching your book. Your book shouldn’t even come up. This is about learning from people you like and respect. Just be a curious, courteous person who shares similar interests. Remember the kid in the schoolyard: you’re just trying to make friends, not win votes for class president.

I should mention that many of these librarians/bloggers/authors are likely too busy to sit down with complete strangers—that’s where being an avid reader of (and commenter on) blogs helps. If I want to meet someone who isn’t a blogger, my rule of thumb is first to make sure that I have at least two mutual acquaintances before reaching out. And once I’ve sat down with a person and had a good chat, I always end the conversation with the same question:

"Who would you recommend that I talk to next?"

This is a fairly painless way for a new friend to help you—it takes almost no time and gives you a reason to keep in touch with them. Hopefully, over the course of several months, you will build friendships that will live way beyond your book launch. Assuming you’re serious about being an author, this is a community you will share for the rest of your life.

That’s it for BEFORE THE BOOK DEAL! Tomorrow, I’ll be visiting the Novel Novice to discuss the tricky business of building a “public identity” that actually reflects who you are! Swing by and spread the word!



*******************************************************************************
JONATHAN AUXIER writes strange stories for strange children. His new novel, The Night Gardener, hits bookstores this May. You can visit him online at www.TheScop.com where he blogs about children's books old and new.


**************************************************************************

See why I'm a huge fan of this guy? Such great advice. Thanks so much for sharing it with us, Jonathan. 

And don't forget to check out these other MMGMs happening throughout the blogosphere:

- Michelle Mason is cheering for PARTNERS IN CRIME--with a GIVEAWAY! Click HERE for details.  
- Barbara Watson is gushing about WHAT THE MOON SAID, with an ARC GIVEAWAY! Click HERE for all the fun.  
- Mark Baker is spreading love for POACHED. Click HERE to read his feature! 
- Katie Fitzgerald is feeling TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. Click HERE to see what she thought.
- Andrea Mack is drawn to THE AWESOME ALMOST 100% TRUE ADVENTURES OF MATT & CRAZ. Click HERE to see why. 
- Susan Olson is on the edge of her seat for THE WELLS BEQUEST. Click HERE to see why. 
- Rosi Hollinbeck is reviewing--AND GIVING AWAY--ICE DOGS. Click HERE for details.
- Rcubed is highlighting THE ILLUMINATED ADVENTURES OF FLORA & ULYSSES. Click HERE to see why. 
- Sue Heavenrich has some earth day reading for you with LAST BUT NOT LEAST: LOLA GOING GREEN. Click HERE to learn more.
- Greg Pattridge wants you to TURN LEFT AT THE COW. Click HERE to see why.
- Daniel Johnston is giving a shoutout to FRINDLE. Click HERE to see his feature 
- Suzanne Warr has chills for ODIN'S PROMISE. Click HERE to see why.
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.  
- The Mundie Moms are always part of the MMGM fun (YAY!). Click HERE to see their newest recommendations. And if you aren't also following their Mundie Kids site, get thee over THERE and check out all the awesome! 
- The lovely Shannon O'Donnell always has an MMGM ready for you! Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time!
- Jennifer Rumberger always has an awesome MMGM feature on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.    
- Pam Torres always has an MMGM up on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's spotlighting this week.
- Deb Marshall is a MMGM regular. Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.


If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening in order to be included in the list of links. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!)

If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and spreading the middle grade love!


*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me.

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10. Book Recommendations

I know I've been really lax in posting or blogging, but I have been reading up a storm and I can't seem to stop. I mean to the point where I barely leave the house and my ereader is constantly in my hands. Thankfully I can stop for minutes at a time to clean up around the house and delegate chores to the kiddies.

We did have one major problem here a few weeks ago involving my dog. She developed a pretty nasty skin infection on her back and I had to rush her to the vet. My poor dog was so miserable, I just didn't know what to do. Vet thinks she might've gotten poison ivy and with the bacteria on her tongue just exacerbated the problem til she had a full out infection. With some antibiotics and antihistamine spray, she survived, but then last week she had a mild seizure that scared the hell out of us. Back to the vet where they did some blood work and everything came back fine.

So anyway, back to my original reason for finally posting! Like I mentioned I wanted to recommend some books for my readers that I think they'll enjoy. Not all of these are young adult titles, but they could be crossover hits.

The number one book I recommend is COLLISION COURSE by S.C. Stephens. She is fast becoming one of my favorite indie authors. I've already talked about her other mature young adult series THOUGHTLESS & EFFORTLESS. CC is the third book by her that I read. This book just took my breath away and made me cry at times. I'm such a sap when it comes to well-written heartfelt books. This one has so much heart it's  crazy.

The second one I recommend is PUSHING THE LIMITS by Katie McGarry. What a brilliant book. Another one that made me cry. I love stories that push that envelope and make me realize that there are people out there who may come across as bad ass, but are really just seriously damaged and need help. When two of those people find each other, it becomes an explosive love story that just pulls you in.

Another one I highly recommend is by another indie author, Georgia Cates, GOING UNDER. Similar in themes to PUSHING THE LIMITS, with a different outcome. I found myself completely enjoying this book and enjoying Georgia Cates' writing. She has a lot of talent.

I finally finished the PERFECT CHEMISTRY books by Simone Elkeles. I read the first one probably two or three years ago and just never got around to the last two. Even though I got to meet the model for the first book at BEA and Simone, I just never picked up the books. Silly me. I was crazy! I think out of all three of the books, Carlos' story was my favorite. Luis was a close second.

FLAT-OUT LOVE by Jessica Park is another great story that I totally enjoyed. And not because it takes place in Boston and the opening scene is in my hometown! Jamaica Plain never gets any love in books! This story crushes the heart, but then it fills it up with so much love that you finish the book completely breathless. Julie, Celeste and Matty and even Finn are amazing characters that will have you begging for more. While sighing through tears.

SLAMMED AND POINT OF RETREAT by Colleen Hoover has just been picked up by Simon & Schuster and I'm so glad that good things are happening to Colleen. This story has everything. Love, poetry slams, teachers, high school, love and death. Layken and Will are amazing characters whose love is totally not acceptable. Even though Will is 21 and Lake is 18. There are unforeseen circumstances that pull them apart and one very serious reason that keeps them together. The sequel wraps up everything in a nice package.

The next two books I recommend is more for the older crowd. SEDUCING CINDERELLA and THE SIREN. Two very different books, but both are extremely well-written. I find myself liking books where the male character is a sports person. There's just something so alpha male about sports figures. SEDUCING CINDERELLA is about a UFC fighter who is undergoing rehab for a shoulder injury and it turns out that the rehab therapist is his best friend's younger sister. She's lusting after the orthopedic surgeon who doesn't even look in her direction. So when Reid offers to help Lucie get her doctor, things happen between these two that they never expected to fall for each other. It's a great take on MY FAIR LADY and CINDERELLA.

THE SIREN is a literate version of erotica I guess. Basically Nora is a writer of erotic books and is looking to have her books mainstreamed by a well-known publishing house. Because she is a good writer and the house wants her, they give her MS to the prickiest asshole who could get a damn good story out of her. Her editor is a hard-ass from London who is called the London Fog. But see Nora also has a secret. She is a dominatrix at a club that was all but created for her. Zach offers to help Nora rewrite her book in six weeks, and then he may sign her contract. This book has everything. It's literate, it's sexy and it's well written it makes 50 Shades look like drivel (which it totally is!).  Nora's secret and her housemate (the absolutely lovely and virginal Wes) threaten to ruin everything she could have with the publishing house. Plus with Zach's marital issues, everything can be blown wide apart. Which knowing Nora, is exactly how she likes it.

Of course I also recommend KA Linde's AVOIDING COMMITMENT. This book hit such a nerve with me that at times I had to put the book down because it cut close to home. I had a tempestuous relationship from 18-28 with the same person one that nearly destroyed me and I knew how intricate a devastating relationship like that is. If you've never had a relationship like that, you might find the story a bit annoying, but it happens. All to much.

I hope all of you enjoy my recommendations and I hope to write some reviews soon. I also have some books to mail out. I haven't been to the post office. I also have a book I've been sitting on for a few weeks to give away. I'll try to get that posted soon.

Listen, I love comments and people who just stop by to say hello. So if you want, why don't you recommend a book to me that I haven't read. you can always check my goodreads page to see what I have read and what I haven't. I don't care if its YA, Mature YA, New Adult, Erotica (well-written please!), etc... I've still read a bunch of crap too. I know that I have to get through the crap to find the diamonds in the rough.

4 Comments on Book Recommendations, last added: 9/8/2012
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11. Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Darkbeast, by Morgan Keyes--and a giveaway!


Believe it or not, I actually have an MMGM for you!!!!! (Once again, a huge thanks to Deb Marshall for her wonderful guest posts!) 

It's for a book I actually hadn't heard of until someone contacted me asking me if I'd be interested in reading, and the concept sounded so interesting I HAD to give it a try--especially after I saw the gorgeous cover: DARKBEAST, by Morgan Keyes


Here's how the publisher describes it:

A girl’s love for her raven may put her life in jeopardy in this gripping tale.

In Keara’s world, every child has a darkbeast—a creature that takes dark emotions like anger, pride, and rebellion. Keara’s darkbeast is Caw, a raven, and Keara can be free of her worst feelings by transferring them to Caw. He is her constant companion, and they are magically bound to each other until Keara’s twelfth birthday. For on that day Keara must kill her darkbeast—that is the law. Refusing to kill a darkbeast is an offense to the gods, and such heresy is harshly punished by the feared Inquisitors.

But Keara cannot imagine life without Caw. And she finds herself drawn to the Travelers, actors who tour the country performing revels. Keara is fascinated by their hints of a grand life beyond her tiny village. As her birthday approaches, Keara readies herself to leave childhood—and Caw—behind forever. But when the time comes for the sacrifice, will she be able to kill the creature that is so close to her? And if she cannot, where will she turn, and how can she escape the Inquisitors?

Sounds awesome,  right? Well, I can assure you, IT IS. 

Sometimes I have a harder time with "high fantasy" books like this, where the world is completely separate from our own. They can feel a little too foreign for me to really connect. But DARKBEAST strikes the perfect balance between the fantastical and the familiar and makes the world completely relatable. Of course it also helps that the idea of a darkbeast is just so freaking cool--I dare anyone who reads this to not want a darkbeast of their own (though, um... don't sign me up for a spider... *shudder*)

I loved Caw and his hilarious, insatiable hunger for treats. I loved Keara and her stubborn bravery. I loved the mythos of the world, and the structure of the society, with its common villagers, alluring Travelers, and terrifying Inquisitors. I loved the lyrical style of the writing, which reminded me (in the best way possible) of Shannon Hale. Basically, I loved this book, and am so happy someone pointed it out to me. 

Which is why I wanted to spotlight it for all of you. I'm afraid to say too much more and spoil any of the awesomeness for you. So I'll end by saying if you're looking for something funny and sweet and refreshingly different, DARKBEAST is the perfect book for you. 

And to make sure at least one of you gets a chance to read it, I'm giving away a SIGNED hardcover to one lucky winner.

If you would like to enter, leave a comment on this post by 11:59 pm pacific time on Saturday, September 22nd. I'll draw one random winner and post their names on Sunday, September 23rd. International entries welcome!

For more awesome middle grade recommendations, check out these other MMGMs floating around the blogosphere.*
- Julie DeGuia is crazy for ONE CRAZY SUMMER. Click HERE to see why. 
- Susan Olson is wound up over REWIND. Click HERE for her review. 
- Mrs. Heise is swooning for WONDER. Click HERE to see what she thought.  
- Gabrielle Prendegast is giving away WICKET SEASON and BREAKING STALIN'S NOSE. Click HERE for all the details.  
- Jennifer Rumberger is singing praises for GLORY BE. Click HERE to see why.  
- Faith Hough is starstruck for WHAT CAME FROM THE STARS. Click HERE for her review 
- Brennan and Meyrick Murphy are fascinated by HOLES--and they're doing an amazing FIVE BOOK GIVEAWAY!!!! Click HERE to see what these two middle grade readers thought of it. 
- Laurisa Reyes is hosting the amazing Amy Fellner Dominy as she shares her worst moments in middle schoo--with a GIVEAWAY of AUDITION & SUBTRACTION. Click HERE to enter.  
- Jasmine is celebrating ONE YEAR IN COAL HARBOR. Click HERE for her review. 
- Alex Baugh is championing SAME SUN HERE. Click HERE to see what she thought. 
- Michelle Isenhoff is captivated by THE GRAVEYARD BOOK. Click HERE to see why. 

- Andrea Mack is dishing on THE DOT. Click HERE to learn why she thinks its fun for all ages.

- Joanne Fritz is caught in the web of THE SPINDLERS. Click HERE to see why. 

- Michelle Mason is raving about HECK: WHERE THE BAD KIDS GO. Click HERE to read her review. 
- Myrna Faster is telling tales about THE SEVEN TALES OF TRINKET--with a GIVEAWAY! Click HERE for all the fun! 
- Michael Gettel-Gilmarten is interviewing The Narrator--with a GIVEAWAY of THE TEMPLETON TWINS HAVE AN IDEA. Click HERE for details. 

- Barbara Watson is sharing THE LOST TREASURE OF TUCKERNUCK--with an ARC GIVEAWAY. Click HERE to enter. 
- Charlotte Taylor is feeling the magic at THE HOCUS POCUS HOTEL. Click HERE to read her review. 
- Shiela Blankmeier is reviewing AUDITION AND SUBTRACTION. Click HERE to see what she thought. 
- The lovely Shannon O'Donnell always has an MMGM ready for you! Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week! 
- The Mundie Moms are always part of the MMGM fun (YAY!). Click HERE to see their newest recommendations. And if you aren't also following their Mundie Kids site, get thee over THERE and check out all the awesome 
- Pam Torres always has an MMGM up on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's spotlighting this week. 
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time!  

If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so I see it)

NOTE: I used to not have a cut-off time for adding links to the post, but with how insane my schedule is right now, if you don't email me by Sunday evening (usually around 11pm PST is when I put the links together) I can't guarantee I'll have a chance to add you. BUT, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you!


*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen posts ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me ahead of time

43 Comments on Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Darkbeast, by Morgan Keyes--and a giveaway!, last added: 9/20/2012
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12. Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Royal Princess Academy--Dragon Dreams, by Laura Joy Rennert--and a giveaway!

I can't believe I got organized enough to put together an MMGM--this makes two weeks in a row! (and the week before KEEPER's release no less. Credit this sudden efficiency with a lack of sleep from all the ahhh--my book is releasing panic!)


ANYWAY, today I'm featuring a book I anxiously awaited the release of for a very long time and am so glad to finally own my copy: ROYAL PRINCESS ACADEMY: DRAGON DREAMS, by Laura Joy Rennert. Look at this adorable cover:



And here's how the publisher describes it:

She's sporty, funny, and brave — meet the one-of-a-kind Princess Emma!

Emma is not your typical princess. She dislikes pink, would rather play soccer than go dancing, and secretly dreams of being a dragon rider. And so, when she hears the news that dragons in the kingdom are becoming ill, does Emma quietly wait around for her fairy godmother to save the day? Of course not! She makes a plan to solve the dragon mystery herself. With a helping hand from her best friend, Rapunzel, and a surprising new pal, Emma might actually manage to save her favorite mythic creatures...and possibly even the whole kingdom.



In case you can't tell, this is a bit younger of a middle grade than I usually feature--but that doesn't mean it's not every bit as awesome. This is one of those: man I wish this book had existed when I was a kid kind of stories. I mean, Princesses? Dragons? Not to mention amazing illustrations all throughout the book? Oh yeah, kid-Shannon would've been alllllllllllll over that. Somewhat-grown-up Shannon is just as big of a fan.

And I know, some of you are probably looking at the author name and thinking wait--I've heard that somewhere before... And you're right. Laura actually happens to be my literary agent. But I can assure you that has not biased my opinion in the least. For one thing, I didn't tell her I was doing this, just in case I ended up not liking her book when I read it. And for another, considering the lengthy revision letters Laura always gives me, you can bet I read her writing with a hyper-critical eye. :) But alas, not only could I not find any flaws--I enjoyed every word. 

This is a sweet, fun story with tons of heart and all kinds of awesome adventure. It's just the right mix of classic fairy tale nods and modern ideals, headed by a main character who is brave and smart and not afraid to be herself, even if that means being different. I loved Princess Emma and her friends, and I can't imagine any kids who wouldn't feel the same. And to test that theory out I'm giving away a copy to one lucky winner.

If you would like to enter, leave a comment on this post by 11:59 pm pacific time on Saturday, September 29th. I'll draw one random winner and post their names on Sunday, September 30th. International entries welcome!

For more awesome middle grade recommendations, check out these other MMGMs floating around the blogosphere.*
- Heidi Grange is feeling THREE TIMES LUCKY. Click HERE to see why.  
- Susan Uhlig has two features for us. WORDS IN THE DUST is featured HERE. And INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN is featured HERE
- Michelle Isenhoff is burning up for THE FIRES BENEATH THE SEA. Click HERE to see why.  
- Dorine White is hosting the next blog tour stop for the amazing Amy Feller Dominy. Click HERE for all the fun.
- Jessica at Book Sake is thrilling for THE HUNT OF THE UNICORN. Click HERE to see what she thought! 
- Susan Olson let's her daughter cover the feature this week. Click HERE for to see what a kid reader thought of THE HOURGLASS ADVENTURES: ROSEMARY IN PARIS.
- Gabrielle Prendegast also has a guest blogger. Click HERE to see what an eight-year-old thought of THE SISTERS 8.  
- Brennan and Meyrick Murphy are spotlighting KATY KAZOO SWITCHEROO GOING BATTY. Click HERE to see what these two middle grade readers thought of it. 
- Jasmine is sharing all of The Book Highlights From Mrs. Ko's Class . Click HERE to see what they are.
- Rosi Hollinbeck is reviewing WARRIORS IN THE CROSSFIRE--with a SIGNED BOOK GIVEAWAY! Click HERE for more info.  
- Laurisa Reyes is interviewing author A.J. Hartley--with a GIVEAWAY. Click HERE to enter.   
- Michelle Mason is captivated by THE SECOND SPY. Click HERE to read her review.  
- Barbara Watson is showcasing BUTTON DOWN--with an ARC GIVEAWAY. Click HERE to enter. 
- Joanne Fritz is seeing TRUE COLORS. Click HERE to see why. 
- The lovely Shannon O'Donnell always has an MMGM ready for you! Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week! 
- The Mundie Moms are always part of the MMGM fun (YAY!). Click HERE to see their newest recommendations. And if you aren't also following their Mundie Kids site, get thee over THERE and check out all the awesome 
- Pam Torres always has an MMGM up on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's spotlighting this week. 
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time!  

If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so I see it)

NOTE: I used to not have a cut-off time for adding links to the post, but with how insane my schedule is right now, if you don't email me by Sunday evening (usually around 11pm PST is when I put the links together) I can't guarantee I'll have a chance to add you. BUT, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you!


*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen posts ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me ahead of time

25 Comments on Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Royal Princess Academy--Dragon Dreams, by Laura Joy Rennert--and a giveaway!, last added: 9/26/2012
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13. For your holiday shopping needs, my 2012 great reads

I've been wanting to do my yearly roundup of great reads from the past year before the holidays but I have to do a sloppy quick version. There's just not a lot of time lately. So here it goes, super fast.

Middle grade:

Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel

We love all the chapter books. Funny and surprisingly informative!

Zita the Space Girl by Ben Hatke

My top recommendation for middle grade graphic novel for the year. Great for the boy or girl on your list. Adventure! Humor! Great characters!

Wednesday Wars, by Gary Schmidt

Schmidt is one of the best middle grade living authors, and this book deserves its shiny silver medal. Clever, interesting, page-turning.

Liar & Spy, by Rebecca Stead

I was a fan of When You Reach Me and am happy to add my love for this book. Stead knows how to craft a story, this one a mystery where her last was science fiction.

I really want to recommend Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales graphic novels, which combine history with humor, information with action, but...I haven't read them yet! I want them so much. I'm certain they're fantastic and you should definitely buy them. (And while you're at it, Rapunzel's Revenge and Calamity Jack aren't too shabby either...)

Young Adult:

I read a lot of YA scifi this year (working on my own), and some quick standouts: Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi, Across the Universe by Beth Revis, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, Cinder by Marissa Meyer, and The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson. All extremely strong and unique.

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose

Such a great non-fiction book, not just for non-fiction readers and please, not just for the month of February. Claudette was a young teen when she refused to give up her bus seat to a white person months before Rosa Parks's famous stand. Teen readers will relate and empathize with Claudette's amazing story.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

Yay! YAY YAY YAY! Read this one. I would have eaten up this smart, perfectly crafted book as a teen, and I ate it up now.

The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green

This book needs to help from me to find an audience, but I don't mind adding my own voice to the screaming. (enthusiastic screaming, that is. not the screams of terror.) The characters stayed with me months later.

The Diviners, by Libba Bray

Don't read this one before bed. Unless you're not a wimp. Like me. Libba is a wonderful sentence crafter and loves to play in a big landscape with lots of memorable characters.

Happyface by Stephen Emond

My top graphic novel for teens recommendation for the year.

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Gotta love a paranormal romance that starts with the main character tasing a vampire with her sparkly pink taser. Humor, romance, danger, adventure.

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork

Compelling and perfectly crafted story. Marcelo is a teen with autism venturing out of his comfort zone into his father's law office for the summer. There are a few f-bombs, but the book isn't crude at all IMHO. Very accessible, a study of humans and spirituality and finding one's place.

Monster, by Walter Dean Myers

I read this quickly, couldn't wait to see what would happen. I really felt for the main character and wanted to root for him. Interesting and accessible for any teen.

Adult:

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

Won the National Book Award this year. Beautifully written. Heartbreaking and hopeful.

Ender's Shadow, by Orson Scott Card

Listened to this audio book and really enjoyed hearing Bean's side of the story. I hadn't read Ender's Game in years but I didn't feel lost at all. Stands alone.

Hm, not a lot to recommend from my "adult" reading this year. Too many standout "children's" titles.

What are some standouts from your reading year?

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14. What Was Your Favorite Book Published in 2012?


As always there were so many more books that I wanted to read than was able to in 2012, but it was still a pretty good year for reading. Of all the books you read that were published in 2012, which one was your favorite?

Mine was Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and I'm guessing I'm not alone.

If it's possible for a book to be a megabestseller while remaining underrated, I think Gone Girl is it. You hear people talk about how gripping it is, how readable, and it certainly is, but it's also ridiculously well-written. This was a cracking mystery bordering on literary fiction levels of psychological and cultural insight and prose quality.

Could there be some lingering gender or genre bias at play in 2012? Would Gone Girl have been received differently if it were written by someone named Jonathan? Are we still predisposed to not considering mysteries as possessing serious literary chops?

40 Comments on What Was Your Favorite Book Published in 2012?, last added: 1/5/2013
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15. Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: DEAD CITY, by James Ponti--and a giveaway!


I'm due to go back in the deadline cave any day (alas, alack) but in the meantime I've been taking advantage of having a *little* reading time. So once again, I have an MMGM!! (I... wouldn't get too used to this, though. My reading time is about to go the way of the dinosaurs. But I will do my best to always have links.)  

BUT, before I get to that, I um... totally forgot to draw a winner for last week's MMGM giveaway of 33 MINUTES (it's been a bit since I did a giveaway, I guess I'm a bit rusty) SO, since it's better late than never, the winner is...


*tosses confetti*  

So if that's you, email me at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com with your mailing address and I will send you your prize.

Okay, now, back to today's awesome feature: DEAD CITY, by James Ponti, another book that was at the top of my middle grade TBR pile. 



Here's how the publisher describes it:

The Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins says this paranormal action-adventure “breathes new life into the zombie genre” and has “a terrific twist of an ending.”

Most kids have enough to deal with between school, homework, extracurricular activities, and friends, but Molly Bigelow has something else on her list: hunting zombies. By day, Molly attends MIST—the Metropolitan Institute of Science and Technology—but outside the classroom she’s busy dealing with the undead. Because not only do zombies exist, they’re everywhere, and it’s her job to help police them and keep the peace. Sure, she’d like to be a regular kid, but given that her mother was the most revered (or feared, depending on your perspective) zombie hunter in the history of New York City, “regular” just isn’t possible. Molly’s got some legendary footsteps to follow—and some undeadly consequences if she fails.

I'm not *really* sure I need to add anything else to this feature. I mean, THIS BOOK IS BLURBED BY SUZANNE COLLINS!!! And in case you're wondering, here's the full blurb:
In Dead City, James Ponti cleverly weaves Manhattan history into an action-packed plot to breathe new life into the zombie genre. Brainy, funny, and socially baffled Molly Bigelow makes for an irresistible narrator as she drives the story to a terrific twist of an ending. If I’d had the next installment, I’d have dived right in.—Suzanne Collins, author of THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy
I mean, if THAT doesn't convince you, I don't know what does. BUT, since it makes for a rather lame feature to simply paste in a blurb and leave it at that, I'll TRY to add something useful. So I'll add this: DEAD CITY was one of those rare books that hooked me from the very first page. Pretty much the very first sentence.

A lot of books try to pull that off. But most of the time I feel like I have to sort of, "give a book a chapter or two" before I can really decide if I'm liking it. Not the case with DEAD CITY. I loved Molly's voice from the minute I met her. I love the hilarious chapter titles. I love the world/mythology Ponti created--and that's saying a lot because *whispers* I'm... not necessarily a huge zombie fan. 

*ducks*

It's not that I hate zombies. I just tend to find the stories a bit... repetitive. I mean, they're undead. There's not a lot you can do with them besides have them chase down the main character. And yet, Ponti found a way to make that all feel fresh. He has levels of zombies--some even fit to live normal lives among us (it's the level 3s you have to be scared of). And when you add his unique take to the hilarious voice of his main character, well... it's just a combination that's made of win. In MY opinion at least. And I'm giving away a copy, so one lucky winner can read and decide for themselves.

If you would like to enter, leave a comment on this post by 11:59 pm pacific time on Saturday, January 19th. I'll draw one random winner and post their names on Sunday, January 20h (and I'll try to actually remember this time!) International entries welcome!

For more awesome middle grade recommendations, check out these other MMGMs floating around the blogosphere.*
- Barbara Watson is highlighting IRON HEARTED VIOLET. Click HERE to see what she thought.  
- Sue Heavenrich is caught up in HIS-S-S. Click HERE to see why. 
- Danika Dinsmore is sharing some of her friends' and family's favorite classic middle grade reads. Click HERE to see what they are. 
- Akossiwa Ketoglio is cheering for CINDERELLA SMITH. Click HERE to see her feature.  
- Annie McMahon is rooting for TUA AND THE ELEPHANT. Click HERE to see her thoughts. 
- Temre Beltz is wondering at WONDER. Click HERE for her review. 
- Deb Marshall has her Cybill's reading round-up #2. Click HERE for all the fun book features.   
- Andrea Mack is gushing about THE TIFFIN. Click HERE for her review.   
- Susan Olson is stunned by THE VOLCANO DISASTER. Click HERE to see why.  
- Dorine White is spotlighting SHIELD MAIDEN. Click HERE to read what she thought.
- Brennan and Meyrick Murphy are struck with wonder at WONDERSTRUCK. Click HERE to see what these two middle grade readers thought of it.  
- Flash, the Feline Extraordinaire, (and Professional Mews to Cindy Strandvold) recommends SMALL AS AN ELEPHANT. Click HERE to see what that's all about.  
- Heidi Grange is amazed by STARRY RIVER OF THE SKY. Click HERE to see her review. 
- Rosi Hollinbeck is raving about AFTER ELI--and she's got a GIVEAWAY! Click HERE for all the fun!  
- Laurisa White Reyes has a pretty epic giveaway going on--with LOTS of books. Click HERE to see what that's all about!
- Pam Torres always has an MMGM up on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's spotlighting this week.   
- Michelle Isenhoff is always part of the MMGM fun. Click HERE to see what she's talking about today.  
 - Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.    
- The Mundie Moms are always part of the MMGM fun (YAY!). Click HERE to see their newest recommendations. And if you aren't also following their Mundie Kids site, get thee over THERE and check out all the awesome!    
- The lovely Shannon O'Donnell always has an MMGM ready for you! Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week!
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time! 

If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so I see it)

NOTE: I used to not have a cut-off time for adding links to the post, but with how insane my schedule is right now, if you don't email me by Sunday evening (usually around 11pm PST is when I put the links together) I can't guarantee I'll have a chance to add you. BUT, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you!


*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen posts ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me ahead of time.

40 Comments on Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: DEAD CITY, by James Ponti--and a giveaway!, last added: 1/19/2013
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16. Which Novel Made You Cry the Most?


With their vast scope and the unparalleled ability to bore into someone's head, novels have perhaps the greatest potential for affecting us emotionally. As much as I love movies and television, novels have the ability to move me the most.

So which novel most affected you? And what was the part that did it?

As a kid I remember being deeply affected by classics like Johnny Tremain, The Bridge to Terebithia, My Brother Sam is Dead and Where the Red Fern Grows.

As an adult, well, I'm not actually much of a crier, but I was pretty moved by The Sky is Everywhere, The Secret Year and, of course, The Book Thief.

What about you?

Art: Never Morning Wore To Evening But Some Heart Did Break by Walter Langley

132 Comments on Which Novel Made You Cry the Most?, last added: 3/2/2013
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17. Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The Chronicles of Egg: Deadweather and Sunrise, by Geoff Rodkey--plus a GIVEAWAY!

As I promised last week, I finally have an MMGM again!!!


In fact, today I'm hosting a stop on the Chronicles of Egg Blog Tour--something I *usually* don't do, since blog tours tend to require more organization and time than I have these days. (stupid deadlines!) But I met Geoff Rodkey last year at an amazing event called Tweens Read, and after seeing how hilarious he was--and hearing him talk about his awesome book (which I was dying to read)--I decided to take part, and I'm SO glad I did. It forced me to finally make time to read DEADWEATHER AND SUNRISE and holy action-packed adventure, Batman!


Here's how the publisher describes it:
It's tough to be thirteen, especially when somebody's trying to kill you. 
Not that Egg's life was ever easy, growing up on sweaty, pirate-infested Deadweather Island with no company except an incompetent tutor and a pair of unusually violent siblings who hate his guts. 
But when Egg's father hustles their family off on a mysterious errand to fabulously wealthy Sunrise Island, then disappears with the siblings in a freak accident, Egg finds himself a long-term guest at the mansion of the glamorous Pembroke family and their beautiful, sharp-tongued daughter Millicent. Finally, life seems perfect. 
Until someone tries to throw him off a cliff 
Suddenly, Egg's running for his life in a bewildering world of cutthroat pirates, villainous businessmen, and strange Native legends. The only people who can help him sort out the mystery of why he's been marked for death are Millicent and a one-handed, possibly deranged cabin boy. 
Come along for the ride. You'll be glad you did.
Sounds awesome, right? Well I can assure you, IT IS. But I won't ramble about it anymore than that because I actually have a guest post from the author himself to share with you guys as part of the tour. Plus I have an extra-fabulous 2-book giveaway below, so make sure you read until the end! And now, I'll let Geoff take it away!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


NOT FUNNY AT ALL: THE REAL HISTORY OF THE PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN
The adventure-comedy-mystery-romance Deadweather and Sunrise takes place in an imagined universe that's loosely based on the world of the Caribbean Sea during what's known as the Golden Age of Piracy.

When I first had the idea that led to Deadweather and the rest of the Chronicles of Egg trilogy, I considered making it not-so-loosely based, and setting the story in the actual, historical Caribbean Sea circa 1700.

Then I did some research, and I quickly realized I had to make the whole thing up.

Because as romantic and entertaining as swashbuckling pirates and sun-drenched islands might seem from a distance, the truth is there was nothing romantic, and even less that was funny, about that entire era.

Take the pirates themselves. They weren't charming like Johnny Depp. And they didn't make people walk the plank. That actually would have been merciful. What real pirates liked to do was torture their victims using techniques like "woolding" -- which sounds pretty tame until you realize it refers to tying a knotted rope around someone's head and twisting it with a stick until the victim's eyes burst out of their skull.

Real pirates also liked to flog victims until their skin fell off, then dunk them in salt water. And they got a particular kick out of setting fire to people. But not the whole person. Just selected parts of their bodies. (Those parts? Yes. Those parts.)

And the truly amazing thing? A lot of these guys turned pirate after first getting press-ganged into the British Navy…and deciding life on a British naval ship was too violent for them.

Soooo…not exactly fertile ground for an adventure-comedy. Adventure, yes. Comedy? Not so much.

Although a lot of my research did find its way into the books. For example, the mountain made entirely of silver? That really existed. It was called Potosi, and at one point its riches were almost singlehandedly financing the entire Spanish Empire. Here's a picture:

The picture actually makes it look kind of charming. But it wasn't. No offense to the Spanish, but working the mine at Potosi was no picnic.

And if you look closely at the bottom left corner of the picture? I'm pretty sure that's a severed head. On a stick.

That didn't make it into the book, either.



Find Geoff Rodkey online 

Buy DEADWEATHER AND SUNRISE:



***Please visit There's a Book
for the final stop on The Chronicles of Egg Blog Tour!.***

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 
Giveaway time!!!
(and dude--it's a seriously awesome giveaway)

One lucky winner will win a SIGNED paperback of THE CHRONICLES OF EGG: DEADWEATHER AND SUNRISE *and* a SIGNED ARC of THE CHRONICLES OF EGG Book 2: NEW LANDS (which doesn't come out until May 2!) 

To enter simply leave a comment on this post by 11:59 pm (pacific) on Sunday March 24th. I'll choose one random winner and post their name on Monday, March 25th. US and Canada residents only, please!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And for more awesome middle grade recommendations, check out the other MMGM's floating around the blogosphere:
- Annie McMahon is featuring *blush* KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES!! (That will never stop being surreal!). Click HERE to see what she thought.
 - Shari Larsen is awed by THE AGE OF MIRACLES. Click HERE to see why.   
- Andrea Mack has chills for THE GRAVEROBBER'S APPRENTICE. Click HERE for her review.
- Flash, the Feline Extraordinaire, (and Professional Mews to Cindy Strandvold) recommends A HOUSE CALLED AWFUL END. Click HERE to see what that's all about.   
- Susan Olson is spreading the love for BESWITCHED. Click HERE to learn more 
- Rosi Hollinbeck is also featuring DEADWEATHER AND SUNRISE--with a GIVEAWAY. Click HERE for details.  
- Katie Fitzgerald is cheering for LATASHA AND THE KIDD ON KEYS. Click HERE for her review. 
- Laurisa White Reyes is celebrating PLASTIC POLLY--with a GIVEAWAY. Click HERE for details 
- Dorine White is singing praises for MICHAEL VEY: THE PRISONER OF CELL 25. Click HERE to see what she thought. 
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week. 
- The Mundie Moms are always part of the MMGM fun (YAY!). Click HERE to see their newest recommendations. And if you aren't also following their Mundie Kids site, get thee over THERE and check out all the awesome!    
- The lovely Shannon O'Donnell always has an MMGM ready for you! Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week!
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time!   
- Pam Torres always has an MMGM up on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's spotlighting this week.    
- Michelle Isenhoff is always part of the MMGM fun. Click HERE to see what she's talking about today.       

If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so I see it)

NOTE: I used to not have a cut-off time for adding links to the post, but with how insane my schedule is right now, if you don't email me by Sunday evening (usually around 11pm PST is when I put the links together) I can't guarantee I'll have a chance to add you. BUT, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you!


*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen posts ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me ahead of time

26 Comments on Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The Chronicles of Egg: Deadweather and Sunrise, by Geoff Rodkey--plus a GIVEAWAY!, last added: 4/8/2013
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18. Links for Easy Summertime Living and Learning


Why not make the living – AND – the learning easy this Summertime by signing up to receive daily and/or weekly emails from three of my very favorite all-year-long online services?
 
(1)   A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg

The New York Times called A.Word.A.Day “The most welcomed, most enduring piece of daily mass e-mail in cyberspace.”

Monday through Friday, subscribers receive a new word, one of five purposefully grouped words that underscore a particular teaching point.
This past week?
Selected words were those that appeared to be misspellings:

calyculus
swoopstake
theocrasy
agrement
jargoon

How fun to learn why and how they weren’t!

Take a look at Friday’s post for jargon to see all that each post offers:

jargoon
PRONUNCIATION:
(jahr-GOON)
MEANING:
noun: A colorless, pale yellow, or smoky variety of zircon.
ETYMOLOGY:
From French jargon, from Italian giargone, from Persian zargun (golden). Earliest documented use: 1769.
USAGE:
"The genial jeweler then suggested white jargoon."
P.G. Wodehouse; The Intrusion of Jimmy; W.J. Watt and Co.; 1910.

Explore "jargoon" in the Visual Thesaurus.
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
The greatest obstacle to discovering the shape of the earth, the continents, and the oceans was not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge. -Daniel J. Boorstin, historian, professor, attorney, and writer (1914-2004)

I especially enjoy the Visual Thesaurus.
I especially appreciate the added inclusion of previous days’ words, just in case the definitions and pronunciations had somehow lost their place on my brain’s Hard Drive.

Click here to increase your vocabulary on a daily basis.  
You can send a Gift Subscription too!

(2)  TransparentLanguage – Learn a New Word a Day in a Foreign Language!

Thanks to my bi-lingual Brazilian-born grandson, Brazilian Portuguese is my Transparent language of choice.

Truthfully, I still don’t speak this language well – and my sweet, sweet lindo namerado (little boyfriend) recently turned three.
BUT, I do understand his words and conversation.

I especially love the ability to hear a native speak the word, not only by itself but in a sentence.
And like A.Word.A.Day, I can always return to previous words that – somehow – refused to stick. J

Today’s entry?
Portuguese word:          Amanhã
English translation:      Tomorrow
Part of speech:              Adverb
Portuguese examples:  Meu filho chega amanhã de sua viagem.
English examples:         My son arrives tomorrow from his trip.


I have always relied on Booklist, the bi-monthly review journal of the American Library Association, available at most libraries, to keep me sharp and smart when it comes to the best of the children’s books being published.

I’m happy to report that many free Booklist offerings are now available online.
For example,
the Great Reads page, with terrific book recommendations for both kids and adults,
the Bookends blog by Cindy and Lynn,
the monthly youth e-newsletters Quick Tips, aimed at connecting books to the classroom, and the new e-newsletter focused on YA Books, Booklandia,
and the free Webinars. 

Maybe amanhã you'll check out the above, thus making sure your summer's living and learning are easy?

Esther Hershenhorn
 
 
  
 

1 Comments on Links for Easy Summertime Living and Learning, last added: 6/11/2013
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19. Bestselling Novels by Year


Last Wednesday, I suggested that there was no golden era where everyone was reading complex literary fiction.

Is that actually true? Did past readers have more refined taste in fiction than we do now?

Here's a list of the bestselling novel by year from 1900 to the present (source), along with the books published that same year that were part of Modern Library's list of the 100 best novels.

What do you make of this list?

1900To Have and To Hold by Mary Johnston
  Also published: Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser, Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
1901: The Crisis by Winston Churchill (note: the American novelist)
  Also published: Kim by Rudyard Kipling
1902: The Virginian by Owen Wister
  Also published: Wings of the Dove by Henry James
1903: Lady Rose's Daughter by Mary Augusta Ward
  Also published: Way of All Flesh by Samuel Butler, The Ambassadors by Henry James, The Call of the Wild by Jack London
1904: The Crossing by Winston Churchill
  Also published: The Golden Bowl by Henry James, Nostromo by Joseph Conrad
1905: The Marriage of William Ashe by Mary Augusta Ward
  Also published: The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
1906: Coniston by Winston Churchill
1907: The Lady of the Decoration by Frances Little
  Also published: The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad
1908: Mr. Crewe's Career by Winston Churchill
  Also published: A Room With a View by E.M. Forster, The Old Wives' Tale by Arnold Bennett
1909: The Inner Shrine by Basil King
1910: The Rosary by Florence Barclay
  Also published: Howard's End by E.M. Forster
1911: The Broad Highway by Jeffrey Farnol
  Also published: Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm
1912: The Harvester by Gene Stratton Porter
1913: The Inside of the Cup by Winston Churchill
  Also published: Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence
1914: The Eyes of the World by Harold Bell Wright
1915: The Turmoil by Booth Tarkington
  Also published: The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford, The Rainbow by D.H. Lawrence, Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham
1916: Seventeen by Booth Tarkington
1917: Mr. Britling Sees It Through by H.G. Wells
  Also published: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
1918: The U.P. Trail by Zane Grey
  Also published: The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington
1919: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse by V. Blasco Ibanez
  Also published: Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson
1920: The Man of the Forest by Zane Grey
  Also published: The Rainbow by D.H. Lawrence, The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
1921: Main Street by Sinclair Lewis*
1922: If Winter Comes by A.S.M. Hutchison
  Also published: Ulysses by James Joyce
1923: Black Oxen by Gertrude Atherton
1924: So Big by Edna Ferber
  Also published: A Passage to India by E.M. Forster, Parade's End by Ford Maddox Ford
1925: Soundings by A. Hamilton Gibbs
  Also published: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
1926: The Private Life of Helen of Troy by John Erskine
  Also published: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest  Hemingway
1927: Elmer Gantry by Sinclair Lewis
  Also published: To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
1928The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder*
  Also published: Point Counter Point by Aldous Huxley
1929: All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
  Also published: The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner, A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes, A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
1930: Cimarron by Edna Ferber
  Also published: As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner, The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
1931: The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
  Also published: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
1932The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
  Also published: Light in August by William Faulkner, Tobacco Road by Erskine Caldwell
1933: Anthony Adverse by Hervey Allen
1934Anthony Adverse by Hervey Allen
  Also published: I, Claudius by Robert Graves, Appointment in Samarra by John O'Hara, Tender is the Nighta by F. Scott Fitzgerald, A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh, Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller, The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain
1935: Green Light by Lloyd C. Douglas
  Also published: Studs Lonigan by James T. Farrell
1936: Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
1937Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
1938: The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
  Also published: U.S.A. by John Dos Passos, Scoop by Evelyn Waugh, The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen
1939: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck*
  Also published: The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West, Finnegans Wake by James Joyce
1940: How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn
  Also published: Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers, Native Son by Richard Wright
1941: The Keys of the Kingdom by A.J. Cronin
1942: The Song of Bernadette by Franz Werfel
1943: The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas
1944: Strange Fruit by Lillian Smith
1945: Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor
  Also published: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh, Loving by Henry Green
1946: The King's General by Daphne du Maurier
  Also published: Animal Farm by George Orwell, All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren
1947: The Miracle of the Bells by Russell Janney
  Also published: Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry
1948: The Big Fisherman by Lloyd C. Douglas
  Also published: The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene, The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
1949: The Egyptian by Mika Waltari
  Also published: 1984 by George Orwell, The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles
1950: The Cardinal by Henry Morton Robinson
1951: From Here to Eternity by James Jones*
  Also published: A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell
1952: The Silver Chalice by Thomas B. Costain
  Also published: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
1953: The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas
  Also published: Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin, The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow
1954: Not as a Stranger by Morton Thompson
  Also published: Lord of the Flies by William Golding, Under the Net by Iris Murdoch
1955: Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk
  Also published: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, The Ginger Man by J.P. Donleavy
1956: Don't Go Near the Water by William Brinkley
1957: By Love Possessed by James Gould Cozzens
  Also published: On the Road by Jack Kerouac, The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell
1958: Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
1959: Exodus by Leon Uris
  Also published: Henderson the Rain King by Saul Bellow
1960: Advise and Consent by Allen Drury
1961: The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone
  Also published: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, The Moviegoer by Walker Percy, A House for Mr. Biswas by V.S. Naipul, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
1962: Ship of Fools by Katherine Anne Porter
  Also published: Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov, A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
1963: The Shoes of Fisherman by Morris L. West
1964: The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John Le Carre
1965: The Source by James A. Michener
1966: Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
  Also published: The Magus by John Fowles, Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
1967: The Arrangement by Elia Kazan
  Also published: The Wapshot Chronicle by John Cheever
1968: Airport by Arthur Hailey
1969: Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth*
  Also published: Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
1970: Love Story by Erich Segal
  Also published: Deliverance by James Dickey
1971: Wheels by Arthur Hailey
  Also published: Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner
1972: Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
1973Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
1974: Centennial by James A. Michener
1975: Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow*
1976: Trinity by Leon Uris
1977The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien and Christopher Tolkien
1978: Chesapeake by James A. Michener
1979: The Matarese Circle by Robert Ludlum
  Also published: A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipul, Sophie's Choice by William Styron
1980: The Covenant by James A. Michener
1981: Noble House by James Clavell
  Also published: Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
1982: E.T. the Extraterrestrial Storybook by William Kotzwinkle
1983: Return of the Jedi Storybook by Joan D. Vinge
  Also published: Ironweed by William Kennedy
1984: The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub
1985: The Mammoth Hunters by Jean M. Auel
1986: It by Stephen King
1987: The Tommyknockers by Stephen King
1988: The Cardinal of the Kremlin by Tom Clancy
1989: Clear and Present Danger by Tom Clancy 
1990: The Plains of Passage by Jean M. Auel
1991Scarlett: The Sequel to Margaret Mitchell's "Gone with the Wind" by Alexandra Ripley
1992: Dolores Claiburne by Stephen King
1993: The Bridges of Madison County by James Robert Waller
1994: The Chamber by John Grisham
1995: The Rainmaker by John Grisham
1996: The Runaway Jury by John Grisham
1997: The Partner by John Grisham
1998: The Street Lawyer by John Grisham
1999: The Testament by John Grisham
2000: The Brethern by John Grisham
2001: Desecration by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye
2002: The Summons by John Grisham
2003: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
2004: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
2005: The Broker by John Grisham
2006: For One More Day by Mitch Albom
2007: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
2008: The Appeal by John Grisham
2009: The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
2010: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
2011: The Litigators by John Grisham
2012: Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

*Bestseller also on list of Top 100 novels

Art: The Bibliophilist's Haunt or Creech's Bookshop by William Fettes Douglas

35 Comments on Bestselling Novels by Year, last added: 9/15/2013
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20. Reading the Movies

Book Recommendation Monday

Rachel Paint

by

Rachel Seigel

I love watching movies almost as much as I love reading books, and I, along with millions of people this Sunday will tune into the Oscar telecast to see which movies are honoured as the best of the year. Just like a book, a good story and interesting characters draw me in, and I’ll actually put down my devices for a couple of hours and just watch. (A big thing for me since I have the attention span of a gnat most of the time)

I particularly get excited about movies based on books because I’ve either read the book and can’t wait to see it brought to life on the big screen, or I haven’t read the book yet, and am auditioning the story to see if I find it interesting enough to read.

Movies based on books present an interesting conundrum however.

Loyal fans of the books upon which these movies are based (Young Adult movies in particular) are a discerning bunch, and if the movie doesn’t watch the book exactly, they are angry and disappointed. Take Beautiful Creatures for example. Fans counted at least 11 major differences between the book and the movie, and as a result, it tanked. My first reaction to the movie was annoyance. Characters were eliminated or combined, important details changed or left out, and it was very different from the book. But I happened to see it with a friend who hadn’t read any of the books yet, and she really enjoyed it.

This got me to thinking about other book to movie adaptations I’ve seen, and what my reactions were to them. The Never Ending Story by Michael Ende has long been one of my favourite books. It’s also one of my favourite movies, even though it does deviate from the original book. The Princess Bride has been one of my favourite movies since I was a kid, and some people argue that the movie (also written by William Goldman) is even better than the original source material.

For me, there doesn’t seem to be any simple answer as to whether or not it’s better to read the book before or after seeing the movie. If I see the movie before reading the book, I have someone else’s vision of what the characters look and sound like in my head. If I read the book first and the movie isn’t faithful, I’m disappointed that it wasn’t like the book.

What I’ve come to realize is that the expectation that a film be a carbon copy of the book is unfair, and I have to look at them and enjoy them as separate entities. When I can separate the book from the movie, I can enjoy the movie as a movie, and appreciate if the essence of the author’s work has been captured. (The Charlotte’s Web movie is a good example of this.)

When questioned about the major (and I mean major) d(ifferences between his book Under the Dome and the popular tv counterpart, Stephen King responded with a letter in which he makes some excellent points. Film/television is a completely different medium than a book, and sometimes, for the sake of the fact that it is being something viewed and not read, changes have to be made. Even the most faithful adaptations (Harry Potter, Hunger Games and The Book Thief to name a few) have to make changes from page to screen. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. But as Stephen King points out, we are always free to take the book down off the shelf and the story within the pages of the book will never change.

So how about you? Do you prefer reading the book first, or seeing the movie first?

Rachel Seigel is the Sales and Selection Strategist for EduCan Media in Toronto Ontario. She also maintains a personal blog at http://readingtimbits.blogspot.com and can be found on Twitter as @rachelnseigel.

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21. MMGM Shout Out: SKY RAIDERS (plus the links for 3/3/14)

Wow--I can't believe LET THE STORM BREAK comes out tomorrow (TOMORROW!). And I really can't believe I'm trying to edit EVERBLAZE in the midst of all this launch chaos. Pretty sure brain matter is starting to ooze out my ears at this point, but hey, it's all quality problems, right? RIGHT????

ANYWAY, Shannon-panicking aside, I'm super excited to have LtSB launch into the world, and I have an awesome contest planned to celebrate, so make sure you check back tomorrow. And for today, I've put together another quick MMGM shoutout, for SKY RAIDERS, by Brandon Mull.


If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know what a huge Brandon Mull fangirl I am. So it shouldn't surprise you at all that I've been counting down the days until this book comes out--and you bet I've already pre-ordered my copy. I am totally going to use it as my reward for finally meeting this brutal deadline (well, assuming I SURVIVE this brutal deadline) and it's the best motivation ever. No one writes fantasy, or builds worlds like Brandon Mull. I can't WAIT to see what he does with the Five Kingdoms. 

If you would like more info about SKY RAIDERS, you can find it on Goodreads HERE. And make sure you also check out these other MMGMs happening throughout the blogosphere:
-  Charlotte Ritchie is spreading some love for FAKE MUSTACHE. Click HERE to see why. 
- Faith Hough is cheering for STEERING TOWARD NORMAL--with a an ARC GIVEAWAY! Click HERE for details.  
 - Susan Olson is continuing her fascination with The Missing series with FOUND. Click HERE to see what she thought.
- Natalie Aguirre is interviewing the charming NATALIE LLOYD and GIVING AWAY an ARC of A SNICKER OF MAGIC. Click HERE for all the fun.
- Andrea Mack is charmed by THE HYPNOTISTS. Click HERE to see her feature. 
- Rosi Hollinbeck is reviewing--and GIVING AWAY--THIS IS NOT A DRILL. Click HERE for details. 
- Greg Pattridge is spotlighting nine of the greatest baseball books.  Click HERE to see what they are.
- Daniel Johnston is gushing about CAN YOU GET AN F IN LUNCH? Click HERE for his review.   
- Suzanne Warr is investigating THE WIG IN THE WINDOW. Click HERE to see what she thought. 
- Dorine White is celebrating the launch of THE RUBY PENDANT with all kinds of fun things (including a GIVEAWAY) Click HERE to catch all the fun. 
- Laurisa White Reyes is revealing the trailer for THE BOY PROBLEM. Click HERE to check it out. 
- The lovely Shannon O'Donnell always has an MMGM ready for you! Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time!   
- Jennifer Rumberger always has an awesome MMGM feature on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.   
- Pam Torres always has an MMGM up on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's spotlighting this week.
- Deb Marshall is a MMGM regular. Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.  
- The Mundie Moms are always part of the MMGM fun (YAY!). Click HERE to see their newest recommendations. And if you aren't also following their Mundie Kids site, get thee over THERE and check out all the awesome!     


If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening in order to be included in the list of links. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!)

If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and spreading the middle grade love!


*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me.

0 Comments on MMGM Shout Out: SKY RAIDERS (plus the links for 3/3/14) as of 3/3/2014 9:06:00 AM
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22. What are you reading?


It's been a while since I asked this one but I thought I'd get a pulse on the current reading public.

What are you reading at the moment?

I'm reading the fantastic Hollow City by my friend Ransom Riggs. Like many other people I was so impressed by the conceit of the found photographs that give so much peculiar life to Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, yet what really brings these novels to life is Ransom's incredibly deft writing, which is on brilliant display in Hollow City.

Highly recommend.

What about you?

Art: Portrait of a Bibliophile by Anonymous

0 Comments on What are you reading? as of 3/12/2014 1:00:00 PM
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23. Book Recommendation: Zombelina

Manelle Oliphant Illustration - Children's book illustrator and writer

Zombelina is a great picture book.About a month ago we held our annual SCBWI illustrators conference here in Salt Lake. One of our Speakers was Kristyn Crow the author of Zombelina.

I had never taken the time to read Zombelina before but Kristyn’s  talk on creating a great story, as well as the fact that it’s illustrated by Molly Idle who just won the Caldecott honor for Flora and the Flamingo made me want to take a closer look.

I have to say I really enjoyed it.

The story is great. Kristyn really knows her stuff when it comes to story and language. She is fantastic at creating rhyming books. If you are a picture book author and you want to know how to create a rhyming book  that rocks read Kristyn’s stuff. There is no one better.

The  rhymes don’t get in the way of the story. The plot is really solid, and I’m not surprised. At our conference Kristyn gave a fantastic talk on how to write a great story. She used points from the book Save the Cat to tell us how to write a story that really works.

The illustrations are fantastic too. I have to admit that I didn’t read this book for a long time because the cover image didn’t appeal to me. Now I’m glad I gave it a chance. My favorite part about the pictures are the characters. They are charming. The designs are fun and their emotions and gestures are really solid. The pictures add to the story showing us fun things that aren’t in the text. This is what great picture book art is supposed to do. I can see why Molly is winning awards. 

The post Book Recommendation: Zombelina appeared first on Manelle Oliphant Illustration.

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24. Book Recommendation: The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

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by

Amie Kaufman

True fact: when I finished this book, I sat down and promptly wrote a fan letter to Sherry Thomas. I’m absolutely WILD about it! I originally grabbed a copy because a bunch of other authors told me I couldn’t miss it — and they were absolutely right! 

It’s got everything–heart-stopping action, sly humour, razor sharp wit, boarding schools, magic, disguises, love, sacrifice, life-and-death stakes and a cast of characters I completely fell for. I’ve bought several copies for friends already, and if you’re looking for your next read, The Burning Sky should be it!

The Burning SkyJust before the start of Summer Half, in April 1883, a very minor event took place at Eton College, that venerable and illustrious English public school for boys. A sixteen-year-old pupil named Archer Fairfax returned from a three-month absence, caused by a fractured femur, to resume his education.

Almost every word in the preceding sentence is false. Archer Fairfax had not suffered a broken limb. He had never before set foot in Eton. His name was not Archer Fairfax. And he was not, in fact, even a he.

This is the story of a girl who fooled a thousand boys, a boy who fooled an entire country, a partnership that would change the fate of realms, and a power to challenge the greatest tyrant the world had ever known.

Expect magic.

I mean, don’t you just read that and get a shiver straight down your spine? Expect magic. But I could rave all day, so let’s go into some detail:

The World: The worlds you’ll visit in The Burning Sky are gorgeous, vivid and original. From cricket games at Eton, to magic worlds just next door to our own, to the Crucible, the most extraordinary magical training ground you’ve ever seen, Sherry Thomas does an incredible job.

The Characters: I don’t even know where to begin. I love Iolanthe, so strong and stubborn and so very human. She swaggers through Eton in the most fantastic impression of a teenaged boy, and her journey in this book is so rich and layered. And then there’s Titus. Oh, Titus. His absolute dedication to his goal, the sacrifices he makes — and the absolute humanity you sense in him, the things you know he’d want so badly if only he’d let himself. I get shivers just thinking about it! And his dark, dark sense of humour — I am utterly in love.

The Adventure: Though I could sit around and swoon at the characters and the setting all day, this book keeps you moving at a hundred miles an hour, and it’s amazing! What would you do if you were told you were the only one who could defeat a tyrant and save your realm… but you knew the attempt would probably kill you? What would you do if it was your job to train and guide the girl who had that task? And what would you do if you fell in love with her?

The Romance: Speaking of which, THE SWOONS, PEOPLE. Sherry Thomas is also an acclaimed romance author, and let me tell you, it shows. Enough said.

The Laughs: Anyone who’s read my writing knows that I’m a firm believer in bringing the laughs — just because a situation is deathly tense, doesn’t mean you can’t slip in some dark humour. I laughed out loud reading this book, and I loved it all the more for that.

The Supporting Cast: Kashkari. Wintervale. Master Haywood. Trust me when I say that the secondary characters in this book could carry a  novel all on their own. Thomas does an amazing job of giving them depth and hinting at whole backstories, without straying form the path of Iolanthe and Titus’s story. Friendships, trust and sacrifice all come to the fore in this book, and the rich cast of secondary characters are standouts in their own right.

The Bottom Line: I picked up this book because word-of-mouth told me it was fantastic, and I’m passing that word along to you. It truly was a fantastic read that left me with a lasting book hangover, and quite simply, you should grab a copy for yourself. Book two, The Perilous Sea, is out on September 16th, and you can bet your boots I’ve got that thing pre-ordered! (As per this  post from Claire Legrand, pre-orders are like unicorns, a fantastic way to show support for your favourite authors!)

What have you read recently that you’ve loved? We Pub Crawlers are always looking for our next great read, so we’d love to hear from you!

—–

amie165c-twitterAmie Kaufman is the co-author of THESE BROKEN STARS, a YA sci-fi novel out now from Disney-Hyperion (US) and Allen & Unwin (Australia). Book two, THIS SHATTERED WORLD, is coming in November 2014, and her new trilogy will start with ILLUMINAE, coming from Random House/Knopf in 2015. She is represented by Tracey Adams of Adams Literary. You can find her on Twitter or on Facebook, or visit the These Broken Stars website for exclusive sneak-peeks and contests. Amie lives in Melbourne, Australia, with her husband and rescue dog.

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25. March Books of the Month

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Time for March Books of the Month!

It’s that time again!!! Since last month we held the Winter Reading Games, we skipped one Books of the Month post, but now we’re back and better than ever! At the end of January, we asked you what books you were reading. So many of you are reading different books! There are some clear winners this time, but I’m really excited that we have so many new titles in the running. Keep reading awesome books, you guys!

March book title word cloud

We’re going to do this again for next month, so tell me in the Comments what books you’re reading right now. I can’t wait to see what new books show up. I’ve got a few new recommendations now, and I’m so excited to start reading! See ya in a month!

image from kids.scholastic.com— En-Szu, STACKS Staffer

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