What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Posts

(tagged with 'Book Recommendations')

Recent Comments

JacketFlap Sponsors

Spread the word about books.
Put this Widget on your blog!
  • Powered by JacketFlap.com

Are you a book Publisher?
Learn about Widgets now!

Advertise on JacketFlap

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
new posts in all blogs
Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Book Recommendations, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 243
1. Guest Post: Lessons Learned from Hong Kong Movies

Writing Life Banner


Grady Hendrix


Note from Sooz: I am so delighted to share a guest post from author Grady Hendrix today. Personally, I am desperate to soak up any writing wisdom he might be so kind as to share.

Because guys, his new book Horrostör is incredible. Like, I got a copy of this in the mail, opened the package and snickered at the cover (and how the entire book is laid out like an Ikea catalog). Then I started reading…

…and two hours later, I finished the book. I COULDN’T PUT IT DOWN. It was laugh-out-loud funny and also thoroughly terrifying. Plus, there was incredible character development, a thoroughly twisty plot, and OH MY GOSH, what an ending!!

Since I’m sure y’all are dying to read this book too now (seriously: everyone should read it.), then make sure you fill out the Rafflecopter form below! We’re giving away 2 copies (hooray!).

Now, I’ll hand over the mic to Sir Grady, writer extraordinaire.

When I was in college, I lived near the Music Palace and that gave me the better education by far. A vast, rotting hulk of a movie palace it showed Hong Kong double features for $6 and, being broke, that was a deal I couldn’t resist. The Music Palace led to me co-founding the New York Asian Film Festival, it led to me moving to Hong Kong, my wife and I bonded over our shared love for Stephen Chow’s Love on Delivery and the hand amputations in Always Be the Winners, and it taught me how to write. Because everything I learned about writing, I learned at the Music Palace.

Everything I learned about language, I learned from subtitles.

“Say if you find him lousy!” Uncle Bill shouts. “Thanks for elephant, it’ll be worse if it’s dinosaur,” mutters Lam Ching-ying. “Are you an archeologist or a sucker!” a cop screams in frustration. Hong Kong movies have to be subtitled in English, but that doesn’t mean the subtitles have to make sense. Recruiting random strangers off the street, or sometimes just making a production assistant stay up late with an out-of-date Cantonese-to-English dictionary, Hong Kong subtitles emerge looking like William Burroughs cut-ups. And I love them. Every time they stretch, push, bend, or otherwise mutate the English language I feel like a door is opening inside my brain. At this point in my life I’ve watched thousands of Hong Kong movies, and not a day goes by when I don’t find subtitles popping into my head. Stuck on a packed elevator? “It’s getting crowdy,” I think. Cut off by an annoying driver? “Damn you, stink man, try my melon!” rolls off my tongue. As I learned from Hong Kong movies, it’s not the actual words that are important. It’s the feeling.

Everything I learned about character, I learned from John Woo.

You may think that John Woo is all about the gunfights, but his secret weapon is his mastery of crafting iconic characters. He doesn’t need plots, he just drops his characters into the ring and lets their conflicting motives drive the story. Whether it’s happy-go-lucky Mark (Chow Yun-fat) in A Better Tomorrow who finally gets sick of being treated like an errand boy and decides to demand respect, or Jeff (Chow Yun-fat, again) in The Killer who’s wracked with guilt over blinding a bystander in an assassination and tries to earn enough money to get her a cornea transplant, or Ben, Frank, and Paul, trapped in Vietnam, one of them wanting to rescue a woman, one of them wanting to steal a crate of gold, and one of them just wanting to go home. In Woo’s movies there are simply characters who want things, and what they want and how they get it drives the story into some of the most insane action sequences ever put onscreen. Because character is action. Quite literally.

Everything I learned about plot, I learned from Comrades, Almost a Love Story

Plot means you throw everything horrible you can think of at your characters and watch them squirm, and by the end they need to be in a different place than where they began. No movie is better at this than Peter Chan’s Comrades, Almost a Love Story. When the movie begins, Leon Lai is a Mainlander who comes to Hong Kong to make money. He falls for local girl, Maggie Cheung, and then…complications. Chan (and screenwriter Ivy Ho) throw every conceivable twist at their two romantic leads and by the time the movie’s over these two characters may seem to be right back where they began, but the viewer isn’t. You’ll find yourself crying buckets of tears not over the main characters but over the people they’ve hurt on their way to “happiness.” Comrades is a movie where every time you think you know the story, you suddenly realize that it’s about something else entirely. Like a great magician, the creators distract your attention over there, and then take you by surprise from over here.

Everything I learned about writing scenes, I learned from Peking Opera Blues

I firmly believe that Peking Opera Blues is the greatest motion picture ever made. Period. Full stop. Movies don’t get any better than Tsui Hark’s tale of three women trying to keep their heads above water during the early 20th century when China was torn into factions by greedy warlords. And one thing he does better than anyone else is stage big fat setpieces that keep going, and going, and going. Just when you think a scene has gone as far as it can, it goes even further. Writers often skip from scene to scene, but great directors know that if you’re going to go through the trouble of lighting a scene, dressing a set, and placing your camera, then you better wring every last ounce of drama out of it. And so, for Tsui, even a scene of a character waking up becomes a slapstick ballet as her father enters her bedroom and she has to keep him from detecting any of the four other people hidden on her bed, armed with nothing more than a blanket. Rather than starting a new scene every ten minutes, Tsui digs deep and plays every spin, variation, and complication on every scene that he can possibly find, turning each one into a setpiece that’s packed with emotional and dramatic information.

Everything I learned about writing women, I learned from The Heroic Trio.

Hollywood has two models for women: mothers and whores. Sometimes they dish up a motherly whore, or a whorish mother, but that’s just about the entire emotional spectrum. I was lucky enough to see The Heroic Trio back in 1993 when it first came out, and in Johnnie To’s movie an evil undead Chinese eunuch from the past is living in an underground lair in a dystopian future, stealing babies to turn them into an army of feral monsters. Opposing him are Wonder Woman (Anita Mui), Thief Catcher (Maggie Cheung), and Invisible Girl (Michelle Yeoh). Wonder Woman is a devoted mother who doesn’t get to spend as much time as she wants with her family because she’s constantly saving the world from evil. Thief Catcher is only in it for the money, but she’ll ultimately do the right thing. And Invisible Girl starts out purely evil, but changes sides when Wonder Woman and Thief Catcher offer her what she’s been missing: friendship. I came out of that movie theater understanding that inside every woman is a Thief Catcher, an Invisible Girl, and a Wonder Woman. I do my best to write them that way.

Well, you have succeeded, my friend. I ADORED Amy in Horrorstör. Thank you so much for joining us, Grady! And for all you readers interested in absorbing more of his wisdom, he’ll be touring all week across the interwebs:

Finally, here’s the giveaway we promised!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Grady Hendrix writes fiction, also called “lies,” and he writes non-fiction, which people sometimes mistakenly pay him for. There is a science fiction book called Occupy Space that he is the author of, and also a fantasy book called Satan Loves You which he wrote as well. Along with his BFF from high school, Katie Crouch, he is the co-author of the YA series, The Magnolia League. With Ryan Dunlavey he was co-authored the Li’l Classix series, which are cartoon degradations of classic literature, and with his wife, and Ryan, he wrote Dirt Candy: A Cookbook, the first graphic novel cookbook in America. His fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, Pseudopod, and the anthology, The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination.

He is very, very beautiful, but if you ever meet him, please do not let this make you uncomfortable. He does not judge.

Add a Comment
2. Dirty Wings by Sarah McCarry

When someone asks me what all the hullaballoo about YA is these days, I don't start by talking about Twilight or The Hunger Games, I talk about how there is Literature, with a capital L, being written for young readers, books that are both accessible and fun to read but full of meaning, beautiful prose and depth. It's an incredibly exciting time to be a reader, and I'm so jealous of all the Kids These Days who .

Case in point are the books by my good friend Sarah McCarry, first her incredible debut All Our Pretty Songs, but even more especially the prequel Dirty Wings.

Dirty Wings is about the deep, intense friendship of the mothers of the main characters in All Our Pretty Songs, when they were teenagers with hopes and dreams and confusions, and it's told with such beauty and precision.

But hey, don't take my word for it, here's what Kirkus had to say (in a starred review, naturally):
The prose is exquisitely crafted, moving effortlessly from dizzying to heartbreaking. Each setting—an exhaustingly filthy punk house, the New York street where Maia’s hermitlike father suddenly comes to life, the Mexican beach town where the girls’ road trip ends—is vibrantly constructed through careful detail and spare but evocative prose.
A breathtaking companion volume, fully readable on its own and devastating in the context of its predecessor.
Looking to see what all the YA hype is about? READ THIS.

0 Comments on Dirty Wings by Sarah McCarry as of 9/15/2014 1:04:00 PM
Add a Comment
3. What We’re Reading Now

Compiled by Julie Eshbaugh


Here at PubCrawl, we’ve occasionally done posts about “What we’re reading now.” Recently, I found myself feeling the need to do one again, prompted by this story I saw in Publisher’s Lunch, the daily newsletter of Publisher’s Marketplace:

Booker Prize winner for THE LUMINARIES Eleanor Catton said in accepting a recent prize from the New Zealand Post that she intends to establish a grant that will award writers $3,000 to provide “time to read.” Catton told the Guardian: “My idea is that if a writer is awarded a grant, they will be given the money with no strings attached except that after three months they will be expected to write a short piece of non-fiction about their reading (what was interesting to them, what they learned) that will be posted online so that others can benefit from their reading too.

This story started me thinking about the importance of reading for writers, and the value of sharing our thoughts on books with each other. So, with all this in mind, here are the books some of us are reading now.

Erin Bowman

Erin Bowman:

just finished Jodi Lynn Anderson’s THE VANISHING SEASON. I picked it up on a whim because I absolutely adored her previous novel, TIGER LILY. She’s now 2/2 in making me cry. The books are very different but both touch on first loves, and have lyrical prose, vivid locations, and heart-wrenching endings. Tragic but beautiful tales. Highly recommend!


adamfaceauthorAdam Silvera:

I just started CHARM & STRANGE by Stephanie Kuehn, which recently won the William C. Morris award for best young adult debut novel. The jacket copy was pretty vague, but it’s definitely done the book a great service because I’m insanely compelled by it and have zero clue what’s about to go down. If the book slays me the way I think it might, not reading summaries beforehand may be the new way I approach reading.


Rachel PaintRachel Seigel:

Right now I’m in the middle of David Baldacci’s new Dystopian Fantasy THE FINISHER which is great for that 11-14 age range. I’ve just finished OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE by Neil Gaiman. Fabulous, quick fantasy that will appeal to teens and adults alike. 


Jodi MeadowsJodi Meadows:

I’m right in the middle of RED QUEEN by Victoria Aveyard (Feb 2015) and it’s really interesting to see how her film background influenced her novel writing. Plus I’m enjoying the story a lot. 



JJSarah Jae-Jones (JJ):

I am currently reading what I call 12-year-old JJ Crack, or books set in England…with magic (you know, in the vein of Harry Potter). It’s partially for research, and partially because it’s 12-year-old JJ crack. So right now I am currently (re)reading: The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas, The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud, the Chrestomanci books by Diana Wynne Jones (YES, ALL OF THEM), The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, and Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal. (I have read several of these before, which is why I am reading so many books at the same time.)


SusanDennardSusan Dennard:

I’m reading THE HOUSE OF THE FOUR WINDS by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory. I’m enjoying it, but I find it interesting because so far it feels incredibly YA (in a good, fun way!) though the book is marketed as adult fantasy. It leaves me wondering why–from a publishing/bookseller standpoint–a book gets placed on the YA or adult shelves.


EC Myers EC Meyers:

I just finished THE MAGICIAN’S LAND by Lev Grossman, the wonderful conclusion to his Magicians trilogy, which now stands as one of my favorite book series. I’ve just started something completely different: GREAT by Sara Benincasa, which is described as a contemporary retelling of THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I recently watched the film Gatsby, so the source material is fresh in my mind, but I keep forgetting about that because GREAT is so funny and interesting and pretty much works on its own.


JulieJulie Eshbaugh: I’m about 80% through LIE DOWN IN DARKNESS by William Styron, which is easily one of the most depressing books I’ve ever read, but the setting and characters are so well rendered, I can’t break away from this vivid portrait of a dysfunctional family. I’m also reading Maggie Stiefvater’s THE RAVEN BOYS, which I’m just getting into and loving.


 What are YOU reading now? Do you have any books you can recommend to us? 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.

Add a Comment
4. Back-to-School Reading Recs

TGIF Banner


Erin Bowman

It’s September and the school buses are again making the rounds. In honor of back-to-school, us Pub Crawlers have been chatting about some of our favorite required reading from high school. (And also some of our least favorites). I’ll kick things off…

Erin Bowman
Favorite: A Separate Peace by John Knowles and The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger, both read in 10th grade when I had an amazing teacher. I remember connecting with these characters because they felt so distinctly teen, and I loved that.
Least Favorite: The Red Pony. I could not stand this novel. I don’t even remember why. I had a grudge against Steinbeck until Grapes of Wrath won me over in 11th grade.
– Erin Bowman

Favorite: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. Seriously the only book all the Juniors read beyond where we were asked to. 
Least Favorite: Ulysses by James Joyce because, come on, who had time to read that when I was busy writing Harry Potter fan-fiction when I was home?
– Adam Silvera

Kat Zhang
Favorite: The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. The language in this book is gorgeous!
Least Favorite: Hmmm, probably A Light in August? I just wasn’t a fan of Faulkner…
– Kat Zhang

Favorite: Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold. I have no idea why, but I was obsessed with that book.
Least Favorite: My Antonia by Willa Cather. I didn’t even finish this, I’m ashamed to admit. I got, like, three chapters in, decided it was too dreadful to continue, and SparkNoted the rest.
– Susan Dennard

Favorite: Probably Jane Eyre or Pride & Prejudice. Because I am predictable like that. Jane Eyre pretty much cemented my love of the gothic novel, but I really appreciated the way my teacher taught us the book, which was pretty much about sex. Passionate sex, romantic sex. In other words, FEELINGS. I loved Pride & Prejudice because I thought it was funny. Austen is extremely wry and she writes about ridiculous people that just SKEWERS their ridiculousness. (Although unlike Bronte, she doesn’t do earnest feelings nearly as well.) Other books I loved were Beloved (Morrison) and The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald).
Least Favorite: Tess of the D’Urbervilles. I tried, Thomas Hardy, but I just can’t get into you.
– S. Jae-Jones (JJ)

Favorite: The Endless Steppe by Esther Hautzig. This was a memoir about a Polish girl exiled to Siberia during WWII, and at thirteen, it was a revelation to me.
Least Favorite: Far From The Madding Crowd. Like JJ, I just couldn’t get into Thomas Hardy. I faked my book report on this one. Still not sure if my teacher knew or not…
– Amie Kaufman

EC Myers
Favorite: Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Least Favorite: Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
– E.C. Myers

Joanna Volpe
Favorite: Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Least Favorite: My Antonia by Willa Cather
– Jo Volpe

Favorite: A Separate Peace by John Knowles
Least Favorite: The Red Pony by John Steinbeck
– Julie Eshbaugh
(note from Erin: Julie and I are book twins, yay!)

Rachel Paint
Favorite: Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club, which is still one of the best novels about the cultural divide between immigrant mothers & their daughters that I’ve ever encountered.
Least Favorite: The Color Purple by Alice Walker. I didn’t find anything likeable or interesting about the characters or the story, and I was assigned the book 4 times between grade 9 and second year university!
– Rachel Seigel

Jodi Meadows
Favorite: I also liked A Separate Peace.
Least Favorite: I’m pretty sure I didn’t care for the rest of the books assigned in school, but that’s all overshadowed by the amazing books I picked out for myself from the library.
– Jodi Meadows

What’s your favorite novel read during high school? What about least favorite? Tell us in the comments!

Erin Bowman is a YA writer, letterpress lover, and Harry Potter enthusiast living in New Hampshire. Her TAKEN trilogy is available from HarperTeen (FORGED out 4/14/15), and VENGEANCE ROAD publishes with HMH in fall 2015. You can visit Erin’s blog (updated occasionally) or find her on twitter (updated obsessively).

Add a Comment
5. Book Recommendation: Jeff VanderMeer’s WONDERBOOK

Book Recommendation banner


Susan Dennard

WonderbookI’m a HUGE fan of books on writing. Like, I probably have an addiction and I know my husband would be REALLY happy if I’d throw out some of these gazillion craft books hogging up the basement…

Recently and sort of on a whim, I picked up Jeff VanderMeer’s Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction. I am so, so, SO glad I did. Seriously guys, this is my new favorite book on writing craft. Not only does this book give beginners everything they need to know to start crafting stories, but it’s an incredibly helpful book for experienced writers too.

Here’s the trailer:

Not only does VanderMeer introduce some awesome concepts and prose possibilities that I’d never considered before, but he also shares tons of essays from other authors on how THEY do things.

Then there’s all the art to go along with it!! A few of the crazy diagrams left my Muse spinning in the best possible way. Like this Hero’s Journey as depicted with a Mexican Luchador:


On top of all the graphics, there’s an interactive website to go along with the text. SO. MUCH. INFORMATION. It took me weeks to get through this book, and I enjoyed/savored every sentence.

So watch the trailer below, read an excerpt or the web extras, and maybe pick a copy of your own. I promise: all artists can gain something from this fantastic guide.

Jeff VanderMeer is the author of more than 20 books and a two-time winner of the World Fantasy Award. His books have made the year’s-best lists of Publishers Weekly, LA Weekly, the Washington Post, Amazon, the San Francisco Chronicle, and many more. He is the cofounder and codirector of Shared Worlds, a unique writing camp for teenagers, and has taught at Clarion, the world’s premiere fantasy/sci-fi workshop for adults. VanderMeer is based in Tallahassee, Florida.

SusanDennardBefore she settled down as a full-time novelist and writing instructor, Susan Dennard traveled the world as marine biologist. She is the author of the Something Strange and Deadly series as well as the forthcoming Witchlands series (Tor, 2015), and when not writing, she can be found hiking with her dogs, exploring tidal pools, or practicing her tap dance shuffles. You can learn more about Susan on her blogTwitterFacebook, or Pinterest.

Add a Comment
6. A back-to-school reading list of classic literature

With carefree summer winding to a close, we’ve pulled together some reading recommendations to put you in a studious mood. Check out these Oxford World’s Classics suggestions to get ready for another season of books and papers. Even if you’re no longer a student, there’s something on this list for every literary enthusiast.

Timon of Athens

If you liked Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, you should read Timon of Athens by William Shakespeare. Like Miller’s Willy Loman, Timon does not enjoy an especially happy life, although from the outside it seems as though he should. Timon once had a good thing going, but creates his own misery after lavishing his considerable wealth on friends. He eventually grows to despise humanity and the play follows his slow demise.

If you liked Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown, you should read The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. DuBois. Many argue that each of these texts should be required reading in all American schools. The Souls of Black Folk sheds light on a dark and shameful chapter of history, and of the achievements, triumphs, and continued struggles of African Americans against various obstacles in post-slavery society.

The IliadIf you liked Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, you should read The Iliad by Homer. Written 2,700 years ago, The Iliad may just be the original anti-war novel, paving the way for books like Slaughterhouse-Five. Illustrating in poetic form the brutality of war and the many types of conflict that often lead to it, the periodic glimpses of peace and beauty that punctuate the story only serve to bathe the painful realities of battle in an even starker light.

If you liked The Lord of the Flies by William Golding, you should read Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. This 19th century Victorian novel explores the survival of good, utilizing England’s workhouse system and an orphaned boy as vehicles to navigate its themes. Dickens was considered the most talented among his contemporaries at employing suspense and violence as literary motifs. The result was a classic work of literature that continues to be a favorite for many.

The Scarlet LetterIf you liked The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood you should read The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. If strong female protagonists are your thing you will probably enjoy Hester Prynne, who endures public scorn after bearing a child out of wedlock, and faces a punishment of wearing a red “A” to designate her offense. Despite the severe sentence, Hester maintains her faith and personal dignity, all while continuing to support herself and her baby—not an easy feat in a 17th century puritan community.

If you liked One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, you should read The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. A colorful and eclectic assortment of characters make the best of a long and arduous pilgrimage by entertaining each other with tall tales of every genre from comedy to romance to adventure. If you enjoy certain aspects of Garcia Marquez’s writing, namely the fantasy elements and large cast of characters in One Hundred Years, you will probably appreciate those same characteristics in this novel, which was written 600 years ago and is still admired today.

My AntoniaIf you liked The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, you should read My Antonia by Willa Cather. A similar tale of survival in a harsh new land, My Antonia provides the context for a romance between two mufti-dimensional characters. Cather offers readers a glimpse into settler life in the nascent stages of American history, with vivid landscape descriptions and universal themes of companionship and family as added bonuses.

For over 100 years Oxford World’s Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford’s commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more. You can follow Oxford World’s Classics on Twitter, Facebook, or here on the OUPblog. Subscribe to only Oxford World’s Classics articles on the OUPblog via email or RSS. – See more at: http://blog.oup.com/2014/08/daniel-deronda-book-design/#sthash.BydtPSF1.dpuf
For over 100 years Oxford World’s Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford’s commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more. You can follow Oxford World’s Classics on Twitter, Facebook, or here on the OUPblog. Subscribe to only Oxford World’s Classics articles on the OUPblog via email or RSS. – See more at: http://blog.oup.com/2014/08/daniel-deronda-book-design/#sthash.BydtPSF1.dpuf

If you liked One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey, you should read The Trial by Franz Kafka. Psychological thrillers don’t get much better than The Trial, a book that incorporates various themes including guilt, responsibility, and power. Josef K. awakens one morning to find himself under arrest for a crime that is never explained to him (or to the reader). As he stands trial, Josef gradually crumbles under the psychological pressure and begins to doubt his own morality and innocence, showing how Kafka used ambiguity brilliantly as a device to create suspense.

Featured image: Timeless books by Lin Kristensen. CC-BY-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The post A back-to-school reading list of classic literature appeared first on OUPblog.

0 Comments on A back-to-school reading list of classic literature as of 8/29/2014 7:09:00 AM
Add a Comment
7. Just finished reading RULES by Cynthia Lord

Thanks to my sister for recommending this book to me. SUCH a good story. What made the book for me: the main character, Catherine. She is entirely believable, funny and flawed, and I fell in love with her right away. HIGHLY recommended.

Here's a great interview with Cynthia Lord about Rules on Cynsations, where she talks about having a son with autism and how she wanted to explore the unique dynamics that exist in a family that has a child with severe special needs. Rules was her first published book!

You can find out more about Cynthia at her website:  http://cynthialord.com/rules.html

I recently bought her newest book, HALF A CHANCE, and can't wait to read it!

More about the book on the Scholastic website: http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/bookwizard/books-by/cynthia-lord


My #BookADay and "Books I've Read" archives at http://inkygirl.com/bookaday/


0 Comments on Just finished reading RULES by Cynthia Lord as of 8/23/2014 11:13:00 AM
Add a Comment
8. 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
Add a Comment
9. 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?

0 Comments on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at fifty as of 7/25/2014 12:18:00 AM
Add a Comment
10. 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!


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 


***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
Display Comments Add a Comment
11. 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:


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:

noun: A colorless, pale yellow, or smoky variety of zircon.
From French jargon, from Italian giargone, from Persian zargun (golden). Earliest documented use: 1769.
"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.
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
Display Comments Add a Comment
12. 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
Display Comments Add a Comment
13. Reading the Movies

Book Recommendation Monday

Rachel Paint


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.

Add a Comment
14. 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
Add a Comment
15. 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
Add a Comment
16. 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.

0 Comments on Book Recommendation: Zombelina as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
17. Book Recommendation: The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

Book Recommendation banner



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.

Add a Comment
18. March Books of the Month


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

Add a Comment
19. 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.

0 Comments on MMGM: AFTER THE BOOK DEAL w/ Jonathan Auxier (plus the 4/21/14 links!) as of 4/21/2014 8:05:00 AM
Add a Comment
20. Pay It Forward Day


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.

Add a Comment
21. 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

Add a Comment
22. Summer reading and home library suggestions from the 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!

0 Comments on Summer reading and home library suggestions from the ALSC as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
23. Book Recommendation: Every Breath by Ellie Marney

Book Recommendation banner



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.


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 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.


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.


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.

Add a Comment
24. June Books of the Month


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

Add a Comment
25. Who Can Recommend a Good Book?

by Julie Eshbaugh



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


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


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

Add a Comment

View Next 25 Posts