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26. My Reading List (and 2015 Ban)

A while back there was a meme on Facebook to list ten books that “stayed with you.” I didn’t do it — at least not seriously — because I’ve done so many things like that in the past, but it emerged that men were listing lists of books by men, where women tended to have more balanced lists. Even more, it emerged that white readers had lists of mostly white authors. My non-existent list would be at least half women (because I tend to list children’s books, and that field has always been well-represented by women, as is any endeavor that involves caring about kids), but it would be mostly or entirely white. And it’s not because I don’t care for books by people of color, it’s because I haven’t read enough of them to give me an ample supply to choose from. Song of Solomon is one of my favorite novels and might make the list, depending on where my head goes that day, but the number of other novels I’ve read by African American women is shamefully scant. I have so many books by white guys to choose from and deliberate over.

At the same time, my reading life has been somewhat uninspired. I can read David Mitchell or Donna Tartt and like what they’ve done and appreciate it in an academic way, but I have to admit those books don’t quite urge me on the way books used to. What would it be like to allow myself zero books by men, zero  books by white people for a year, I wondered? Besides challenging my assumptions and de-skewing my perspectives, could it simply refresh my excitement for reading by introducing me to a lot of great books I didn’t know about, or didn’t give a chance, because I thought naively, “that’s not for me”?

So I crowd-sourced a reading list of (mostly) recent books (all) by women of color.

I thought at first this would be a year-long experiment. Now I realize a year isn’t enough to give these authors, but a year (or so) of the ban on white guys is necessary.

Here it is: My Reading List.


Filed under: Reading

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27. Friday DOUBLE Feature: Vanquished and Catch Me When I Fall




I have a treat for you today. I've read this debut YA series and it's great. I'm so happy to welcome Katie Clark to my blog!

The Making of Vanquished

Thank you for having me today! I’m thrilled to introduce your readers to my debut novel, Vanquished. People are always asking me how I got the idea for Vanquished, and since it’s a story I love telling I am happy to share it.

This wasn’t an easy idea. It came to me in bits and pieces over the course of a few years. It started with the main character, Hana. I was always thinking about this girl. This strong but vulnerable girl. She wanted to believe in the life she’d been led to live. She wanted to follow the rules. Except she couldn’t.

At that time, I had no idea what brought about her unhappiness or dissatisfaction, I only knew she needed to work toward something more.

Fast forward a year or two, I was given the idea to write a story set in a world where there was no God. No Bible. No religion. Would this world be better? Worse? And how? I had no idea how to make this story happen, but the idea stuck in my head and percolated.

Finally, the two halves came together to make a whole. One day I was sitting in church (yes, I admit I was daydreaming), and it hit me. These two stories were the same story. Hana was dissatisfied because she suspected there was more than met the eye in her city, and she set out to find it. Her mom was sick, and she needed answers. What she uncovered went way beyond hidden medications and technology—what she found was the truth that the God she’d been told was myth might not be myth at all. The story just flew from there, and it didn’t end for three books!

I hope you all enjoy it, and to celebrate I’m giving away an e-copy of Vanquished! I’ll choose one lucky commenter at random, so leave your name and email address below for a chance to win. Thanks for stopping by!



About Vanquished:
When Hana’s mom is diagnosed with the mutation, she is denied the medication that might save her life.  Fischer, a medic at the hospital, implies there are people who can help—except Hana’s not sure she can trust him; Fischer is involved in a religious group, and religion has been outlawed for the last hundred years.  Hana embarks on a dangerous journey, seeking the answers Fischer insists are available. When the truth is uncovered does Hana stick to what she knows?  Or does she join the rebellion, taking a stand against an untrustworthy society?


KATIE CLARK writes young adult speculative fiction, including her dystopian Enslaved Series, made up of Vanquished, Deliverance, and Redeemer. You can connect with her at her website, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Thank you, Katie!

Make sure you comment below for a chance to win an ebook of Vanquished!

That's not all. My agency sister, Vicki Leigh, is also have a blog tour for her new release, Catch Me When I Fall.



Catch Me When I Fall, by Vicki Leigh

Genre: young-adult, urban-fantasy, paranormal-romance

Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press

Date of Release­­: October 23, 2014



Recruited at his death to be a Protector of the Night, seventeen-year-old Daniel Graham has spent two-hundred years fighting Nightmares and guarding humans from the clawed, red-eyed creatures that feed off people’s fears. Each night, he risks his eternal life, having given up his chance at an afterlife when he chose to become a Protector. That doesn’t stop a burnt-out Daniel from risking daring maneuvers during each battle. He’s become one of the best, but he wants nothing more than to stop.

Then he’s given an assignment to watch over sixteen-year-old Kayla Bartlett, a clinically depressed patient in a psychiatric ward. Nightmares love a human with a tortured past. Yet, when they take a deep interest in her, appearing in unprecedented numbers, the job becomes more dangerous than any Daniel’s ever experienced. He fights ruthlessly to keep the Nightmares from overwhelming his team and Kayla. Soon, Daniel finds himself watching over Kayla during the day, drawn to why she’s different, and what it is about her that attracts the Nightmares. And him.

A vicious attack on Kayla forces Daniel to break the first Law and reveal his identity. Driven by his growing feelings for her, he whisks her away to Rome where others like him can keep her safe. Under their roof, the Protectors discover what Kayla is and why someone who can manipulate Nightmares has her in his sights. But before they can make a move, the Protectors are betrayed and Kayla is kidnapped. Daniel will stop at nothing to save her. Even if it means giving up his immortality.

Excerpt:
We followed Kayla to her dining hall for lunch. The room was large with white walls and a white, tiled floor. Steel tables and chairs were bolted to the ground. Kayla sat near a window in the far corner of the room with one other boy, a red-haired, freckle-faced kid with glasses that covered the top half of his face. He spoke with a bit of a lisp, and he rocked back and forth as he conversed with Kayla. Still, he appeared to be quite intelligent.
“Did you ever read Charles Darwin’s theory on evolution? Maybe we’re not crazy at all, but instead, we’re fundamentally different from the rest of the universe because we can see things and hear things. Maybe we’re supposed to be part of this super army that protects other people like us when the zombie apocalypse takes over the world and destroys all the people who haven’t mutated like us.”
Okay, maybe he was crazy.
Kayla smiled. “So, we’re going to be like X-Men during a zombie apocalypse?” She listened with intensity, as if she was truly interested in hearing what he had to say, and although his idea was absolutely idiotic, she had replied with a level of kindness I never would have managed. Impressive.
“Exactly! Ooh, I know. You could be Rogue, and I’ll be Cyclops.”
Kayla’s head tipped backward as she exploded with genuine laughter. “Why Rogue? I mean, maybe I want to be Storm. She’s badass, you know.”
“Yeah, but you’re pretty, like Rogue.”
Kayla blushed as if she hadn’t gotten those kinds of comments a million times. “Well, thank you.” She patted his hand.
He smiled and looked down at where her fingertips touched the back of his hand. Then he looked over his shoulder and glared. Kayla’s instant frown made me spring up on the balls of my feet.
“No, you’re wrong!” He yelled at an empty spot in the room.
Kayla grabbed his wrist. “Marcus, calm down.”
He snatched his wrist out of her grasp and turned in his chair toward whatever invisible person he screamed at. “No! I don’t have to listen to you! She’s my friend.” He stood up and marched over to the empty space, swinging like he was backhanding someone.
Kayla jumped from her seat and stood in front of him. She placed her hands on his upper arms. “Marcus, they aren’t going to hurt you.”
“Get off me!” He shoved her away from him, hard. Not weighing much, Kayla flew into the chair behind her. Bolted to the floor, the chair didn’t budge. She yelped in pain and crashed to the ground.
I took a step toward her, every fiber in me wanting to make sure she was okay. But then I remembered what I was and ground my teeth.
Seeing the violence, the nurses rushed in. Two of the bigger men grabbed Marcus as he fought them, eventually having to resort to a tranquilizer to calm him down. Two others jogged to Kayla where she sat on the ground, her eyes wet with tears. She clutched her side where her ribs had hit the metal chair. I balled my hands into fists, angry that I could do nothing but watch as the nurses helped her to her feet and led her out of the cafeteria.



Find Catch Me When I Fall Online:


--


About The Author:
Adopted at three-days-old by a construction worker and a stay-at-home mom, Vicki Leigh grew up in a small suburb of Akron, Ohio where she learned to read by the age of four and considered being sent to her room for punishment as an opportunity to dive into another book. By the sixth grade, Vicki penned her first, full-length screenplay. If she couldn’t be a writer, Vicki would be a Hunter (think Dean and Sam Winchester) or a Jedi. Her favorite place on earth is Hogwarts (she refuses to believe it doesn’t exist), and her favorite dreams include solving cases alongside Sherlock Holmes.

Vicki is an editor for Curiosity Quills Press and is represented by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary Agency.

Find Vicki Leigh Online:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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28. Longreads’ Best of WordPress, Vol. 8

We’re back with a new collection of our favorite stories from across all of WordPress.


1. Books for the Broken-Hearted

Hannah Richell

Hannah Richell’s husband Matt was killed in a surfing accident in July. In a recent post, Richell writes about finding comfort in reading words written by people who have also experienced the shock of losing a loved one — people like Joan Didion, C.S. Lewis, and Cheryl Strayed.

2. The Shame of Poor Teeth in a Rich World

Sarah Smarsh, Aeon

An essay about growing up poor in America, and the role of teeth as a class signifier.

3. Giving Up the Ghost

Lynn Cunningham, The Walrus

Lynn Cunningham smoked cigarettes for fifty years before making a decision to quit and get help by visiting the Mayo Clinic’s Nicotine Dependence Center in Minnesota.

4. The Laborers Who Keep Dick Pics and Beheadings Out of Your Facebook Feed

Adrian Chen, Wired

Adrian Chen travels to the Philippines, where he meets the employees who work for content moderation companies that scrub objectionable content from social media sites.

5. ‘Before I Write a Word, I Need to Know Clearly What I Want to Say’

Ed Odeven Reporting

An interview with Baltimore-based author and sportswriter John Eisenberg.

6. Talking Shit about Hemingway and Thoreau with ‘The Toast’ Founder and ‘Texts From Jane Eyre’ Author Mallory Ortberg

Elisabeth Donnelly, Flavorwire

The beautiful thing about Texts From Jane Eyre, based on Ortberg’s original column for The Hairpin, is that it offers exactly what it says on the cover: the Western canon is parodied and spoofed through the silly modern invention of texting. Ortberg’s comedy is shot through with love and deep literary knowledge, highlighting the silly and outrageous subtext bubbling under classics from Lord Byron to Nancy Drew. It’s hilarious, wickedly smart work that also serves as a fantastic reading list.

7. Pot Kids

Kate Pickert, Time Magazine

Inside the quasi-legal science-free world of medical marijuana for kids.

8. On Modesty

Anna Vodicka, Shenandoah

An essay about modesty that recalls the author’s girlhood in a conservative community and challenges the mixed messages of women as both “Eve” and “Jezebel.”

9. One of Us

Jennifer J. Roberts, Boston Magazine

Memories of being a Southie kid and black in a mostly white neighborhood in Boston.

10. An American Dream Deferred

Eli Saslow, Washington Post

Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Eli Saslow profiles Javier Flores, an undocumented immigrant who was hoping that an executive action by President Obama would prevent him from being deported to Mexico and forced to leave his wife and U.S.-born children behind in Ohio. Flores is now in La Mixtequita, Mexico, with few options to reunite with his family.


As always, you can find our past collections here. You can follow Longreads on WordPress.com for more daily reading recommendations, or subscribe to our free weekly email.

Publishers, writers: You can share links to your favorite essays and interviews (over 1,500 words) on Twitter (#longreads) and on WordPress.com by tagging your posts longreads.


Filed under: Community, Reading, WordPress, WordPress.com

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29. The Silence of Six is now in stores!

Happy Hour banner

featuring

E.C. Myers

Silence of SixI, Sooz, am so incredibly excited for E.C. Myers’ latest release: The Silence of Six. Not only is Myers a fellow Pub Crawler, but he’s also an Andre Norton Award winner. In other words: he’s a damned good writer.

Plus, even if he didn’t wield magical powers over prose, just read this summary or check out the amazing trailer.

“What is the silence of six, and what are you going to do about it?”

These are the last words uttered by 17-year-old Max Stein’s best friend, Evan. Just moments after hacking into the live-streaming Presidential debate at their high school, he kills himself.

Haunted by the image of Evan’s death, Max’s entire world turns upside down as he suddenly finds himself the target of a corporate-government witch-hunt. Fearing for his life and fighting to prove his own innocence, Max goes on the run with no one to trust and too many unanswered questions.

Max must dust off his own hacking skills and maneuver the dangerous labyrinth of underground hacktivist networks, ever-shifting alliances, and virtual identities — all while hoping to find the truth behind the “Silence of Six” before it’s too late.

AAAH! Don’t you just HAVE to find out what the Silence of Six is??? I know do!

To celebrate this latest release from E.C. Myers, we’re giving away copy of The Silence of Six. Just fill out the Rafflecopter form (sorry! US only!), and we’ll pick a winner next week.

CONGRATULATIONS!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Eugene_ClaraE.C. Myers was assembled in the U.S. from Korean and German parts and raised by a single mother and a public library in Yonkers, New York. His Andre Norton Award–winning young adult novel Fair Coin and its sequel, Quantum Coin, were published by Pyr in 2012. His short stories have appeared in anthologies and magazines such as Sybil’s GarageShimmer, and Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. He currently lives with his wife, two doofy cats, and a mild-mannered dog in Philadelphia. You can find traces of E.C. all over the internet, but especially at his websiteTwitterFacebook, and Tumblr.

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30. Don't Forget Diamond In The Ruff - Time's Running Out

I know yesterday we were talking about the work that's left to do on the 6th book from the Ruff Life series, Ruff Christmas before it's launch at the end of next week.

Today I'd like to remind you that the clock is ticking on the FREE competition to win the signed copy of the 2nd book in our ground breaking, funny, spy action Ruff Life book series Diamond In The Ruff.  The link is below for you to enter.

It will make a great Christmas gift.



Goodreads Book Giveaway

Diamond In The Ruff by B.R. Tracey

Diamond In The Ruff

by B.R. Tracey

Giveaway ends November 18, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

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31. Ruff Life Store is Growing Daily

Hi Everyone

I thought I'd let Max be included in this blog after the team at Ruff Life insisted that some of his products were going to be included in the store. There's a couple of cute fashion items that he's definitely not got and I have though - nail art and hair ties.

Don't forget to enter to win the only signed copy of Diamond in The Ruff by B R Tracey




Goodreads Book Giveaway

Diamond In The Ruff by B.R. Tracey

Diamond In The Ruff

by B.R. Tracey

Giveaway ends November 18, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

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32. A LIBRARY IS A LIBRARY IS A LIBRARY? by Penny Dolan



My local “Friends of the Library” group has just raised enough money for an external Library Notice Board, and today the board was fixed to the Library railings.  

 I feel rather proud. The board will display information about what’s on inside the Library building. Pedestrians outside, seeing the notices, might be encouraged to come inside and make use of the town’s Library itself.

 So today I’m happy and positive and, although not everything is perfect, I live where there is a Very Nice Library.
 

Yet my heart sinks. Right now there are rumblings of more cuts on the way. Nothing to do with the Big Government, of course – ha ha! - as these will just be local cuts for local people.    


Which means it’s “not my responsibility” says Somebody Important Minister, no doubt smiling.” Hey, look at my clean hands! Besides, I have people who do all my reading for me. I’m just too busy for books to matter in my life . . . Or I can buy what I need anyway . . .”

Honestly, I feel very lucky because when I go into “my” library, because I witness:
easy chairs so people can reading papers and magazines and books (or snooze);
rows of computers with almost every machine in use;
plenty of fiction, both general and genres;
information books on a wide range of subjects, including topics I am not interested in yet; 
reference books;
a large local history section
books in foreign languages and books for second language learners;
large print and audiobooks for the visually impaired; 
films on DVD and, still, a few music CDs;
spaces with tables where people can study or write;
a children’s library, with a wide selection of books;
space for storytimes with a weekly programme of events;
a tea and coffee area; 
community rooms
and more.

Who uses it?
Older people. Retired people. People probably out of work or on low income. People with disabilities.  Mothers. Children. Fathers. Carers. Children’s health clinics. Parents. Students of all ages. Solitary teens. Lone readers of all ages. People who like the conversation group. People learning English as a second language. Reading groups. Computer groups.  Local history groups. A WI group. A handicraft group . . . And all of them involved with reading in some way. 
It is a busy library!

How does it feel?
Busy. Warm, Friendly. A place for browsing. For meeting. Free to all, without means testing, and funded by taxpayers money. Possibly the last space in this tourist town where you can sit, rest, work or read without paying. In many ways, this local Library is the last indoor democratic area.

Who runs it? The whole place is run by a core of trained librarians, supported by groups of volunteers. (Oh dear. Another anxiety, with these cuts coming on! In my opinion, volunteers can’t hold a library service together on their own, not for long. I worry that as genuine library expertise seeps away, libraries will just become large rooms filled with books on shelves. Then e-rooms. Then non-existent and the space for the community lost. . . )

Now I don’t want to offend people, but I do get angry – very angry – when newspaper and other articles suggest that a nicely-decorated ex-phone-box crammed with book shelves is “a Library”.  It isn’t, not for me. It’s a nice, enjoyable community project and I’m very glad that such things exist and am happy for the people who care for it and make use of it and the places where they are found.

However, as council library services are being decimated, I resent the way that local media and local bigwigs promote such “pretty new library” stories, implying that these libraries will make up for all the lost Public Libraries.  A library is more than a collection of books, isn't it?

I feel blessed because this post is about my local library, right now. Happy face.
I also know that - right now! - libraries in Liverpool and elsewhere are being hacked about, weakened, cut and closed, their school library services shut down and, I suspect, companies approached to take over “ailing services”.  For non-profit? Ha! Angry face!

Yes, people. It’s cultural vandalism gone mad! Grrr!
Put that on any new Notice Board as a warning for passing people to see!

Penny Dolan

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33. More Exciting News for Harriet Can Carry It!

Online book reviewer Jen Robinson has written a wonderful review of Harriet Can Carry It on her website, jkrbooks.typepad.com. Newly available in both hardcover and paperback formats, Star Bright Books is very excited about the warm reception that Harriet is already garnering from readers. 
       
With careful attention to detail, Ms. Robinson highlights elements of the plot, the descriptive writing and vocabulary, the illustrations, and the book’s animal glossary as some of the book's best aspects.  Also commenting on the experience of reading Harriet, Ms. Robinson writes:  Harriet Can Carry It is an entertaining picture book that introduces kids to marsupials in a light, yet memorable manner. It would make a fun read-aloud for schools or libraries." 

Here at Star Bright, we are very delighted to see words such "memorable" and "fun" appear in reviews of this title. In addition to the lessons that we hope Harriet will convey to its young readers (one of which Ms. Robinson comments on in her description of "the idea that it is ok to say no when people are making unreasonable requests"), it is one of our deepest wishes that this book, and others, will inspire readers to pursue reading as an activity that brings enjoyment, fun, and happy memories. As a children's book publisher, this is one of our fundamental goals, and we thank Ms. Robinson, as well as anyone who shares their thoughts with us, for continuing to inspire our devotion to this goal.

The full review can be found at Jen Robinson's Bookpage, at http://jkrbooks.typepad.com/blog/2014/10/harriet-can-carry-it-kirk-jay-mueller-sarah-vonthron-laver.html

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34. Goodnight Moon: Making a Classic Bedtime Story Available to Bilingual Readers for the First Time

GNM_EngSpan_cFor generations, American families have gathered together to read the cherished children’s book, Goodnight Moon, as part of their bedtime routine. Today, with Harper Collins Children’s Books, we are making the iconic title accessible to millions more families in a bilingual edition for the very first time.

Goodnight Moon/Buenas Noches, Luna is now available through the First Book Marketplace to educators and programs serving children from low-income families. Recognizing the growing need for greater diversity in children’s literature, HarperCollins is offering the book at the retail level as well.

The creation of the English-Spanish board book marks another important milestone in The Stories for All Project, our effort to increase the diversity in children’s books. The initiative is making classic children’s books and books featuring diverse characters, authors and illustrators more accessible to children in need, and, in the process, helping to demonstrate the growing market for culturally diverse books.

Are you an educator or program leader serving kids in need? You can find Goodnight Moon/Buenas Noches, Luna and other outstanding, culturally relevant titles on the First Book Marketplace.

The post Goodnight Moon: Making a Classic Bedtime Story Available to Bilingual Readers for the First Time appeared first on First Book Blog.

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35. Not SCARY Scary

Halloween is this week. Isn’t that nuts?  I’ve had kids in my department for weeks, asking for Halloween books, for ghost stories, for scary stories.

And then there are the kids that want something maybe creepy, maybe suspenseful but “not SCARY scary.” I love these kids.  These kids are my kindred spirits because I hate being scared. I can’t watch a horror movie and I never read a Goosebumps book when i was younger. But I do enjoy suspense and a little gloom.  Take a look at these books for your kids who want to have some Halloween reading but want to be able to sleep at night:

Source: Goodreads

The Theodosia Throckmorton series by R.L. LaFevers: Theodosia can see curses and get rid of them. This comes in handy as her parents work in a museum and there are artifacts with curses everywhere.  This is a fantasy adventure and though there are some creepy parts, it’s mainly pure fun as Theo tries to save Britain from ancient Egyptian curses.  There are four of these.

Source: Goodreads

Constable and Toop by Gareth P. Jones.  This British import has some scary and violent parts, but for the most part it’s a…funny ghost story. A funny ghost story! I love it! Something weird is happening with London’s ghost and a paper-pusher from the Ghost Bureau is sent to investigate.

Source: Goodreads

Ah, the original hilariously macabre story.  This one is a bit gruesome (I mean, it’s Roald Dahl, right?), and features a whole lot of nasty witches, transforming into mice, and a conclusion that will make some grownups uncomfortable.  But it’s not terrifying; it’s actually pretty satisfying. I reread this one recently and it holds up splendidly. No nightmares, just cringes of disgust and laughter.

BONUS: Funnies!!

Source: Goodreads

Ok, maybe this one skews a little young, but even my older teens love these.  There’s a nostalgia aspect, plus, the ridiculous nature of all the horrible happenings to the Baudelaires is hard to resist.

Happy Halloween to you and all of your patrons of varying reading interests!

*
Our cross-poster from YALSA today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a youth services librarian in Mississippi, and has worked with ages birth-18 for the last 5 years.

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36. Has #WeNeedDiverseBooks changed you?

#WeNeedDiverseBooks is raising funds now on IndieGoGo to keep this movement going. Please consider donating.

I would love to know if this movement has already affected you in some way. Please comment below and feel free to do so anonymously if you like.

Writers, have you included diverse (POC, LGBTQ, disabled, religious, etc.) characters in your works-in-progress when you hadn't originally considered it?

Agents, editors, have you specifically looked for diverse writers because of raised awareness following this campaign? Have you suggested or supported writers to include diverse characters in a book when in the past you might not have addressed it?

Librarians and booksellers, have you been more aware of diverse books--recommending them to patrons/clients, creating displays, turning them out, etc.--than you were before?

Readers, have you been more inclined to read, buy, check-out books by diverse writers or about diverse characters?

Bloggers/reviewers, have you been more likely to review diverse books? More likely to be vocal about them, recommend them than before?

People who identify as being disabled, LGBTQ, of color, religious, do you feel more welcome, more seen, in the book community than before?

Whether the campaign has affected you or not, I'd be curious to hear your experience.

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37. Does anyone actually read on the beach?

With summer well on the way in Australia, I’ve noticed our thoughts have begun to shift away from snuggling down or curling up with a good book and a glass of wine. Instead we start talking and thinking about lying on the grass with our favourite book, reclining in the sunshine and enjoying a good ‘beach read’. […]

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38. Fun at the California Capital

Thanks to everyone who came out to the California Capital Book Festival in Sacramento. It was fun to meet new people, talk with readers, see familiar faces. And of course, buy some new books for myself! This was the first year for this book festival and the organizers did a great job making the entire […]

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39. Longreads’ Best of WordPress, Vol. 7

Here it is! A new collection of our favorite stories from across all of WordPress.

As always, you can find our past collections here. You can follow Longreads on WordPress.com for more daily reading recommendations, or subscribe to our free weekly email.

Publishers, writers, you can share links to your favorite essays and interviews (over 1,500 words) on Twitter (#longreads) and on WordPress.com by tagging your posts longreads.


1. What Happens When a Veteran High School Teacher Becomes a Student for the Day

Grant Wiggins

“I waited fourteen years to do something that I should have done my first year of teaching: shadow a student for a day.” A high school teacher learns some sobering lessons about how kids experience a typical day — and the amount of sitting required.

2. No Apology

Mehreen Kasana

The truth about being Muslim in America:

In the eyes of those perpetually seeking an apology from Muslims, I am a Bad Muslim. I don’t put hashtag-suffixed apologies online for what someone else of my faith does. When 9/11 happened, I was as shocked and terrified as anyone else was. We scary-looking Muslims experience human emotions, too. … We Muslims react to unexpected loss of life like any non-Muslim would. We cry, we mourn.

3. The Rise and Fall of Public Housing in NYC

Richard Price, Guernica

A “subjective overview” of the history of public housing in New York City from the novelist Richard Price, framed through the lens of his own upbringing in the North Bronx’s Parkside Houses.

4. Ways Men In Tech Are Unintentionally Sexist

Kat Hagan, This Is Not a Pattern

How our behavior and language can have a harmful impact — and how we can fix it. “Small, simple changes will build the foundation for a better tech culture.”

5. Gone Girls: Human Trafficking on the Home Front

Mike Kessler, Los Angeles Magazine

Kessler talks to survivors of child prostitution, as well as law enforcement officers, judges, politicians, and advocates working to prevent the sex trafficking of minors.

6. The Evans Family Is Living in This World

Linda Vaccariello, Cincinnati Magazine

A community comes together to help a family after a tragedy:

“The reality hit me like nothing I’d ever experienced,” McDonald says. “She had no one. I couldn’t imagine what that was like.” McDonald went to Ao, threw her arm around the sobbing woman’s shoulders, and said, “We’ll help you.”

7. The Plunge

Carl Schreck, Grantland

The story of Shavarsh Karapetyan, a Soviet swimming champion who dove into Armenia’s Lake Yerevan and saved dozens of lives from a sinking trolleybus.

8. How Pixar’s Gurus Brought the Magic Back to Disney Animation

Caitlin Roper, Wired

A profile of John Lasseter and Ed Catmull, whose intense focus on storytelling helped revive Disney’s animation studio with hits like Frozen and Wreck-It Ralph.

9. ‘I Am Darren Wilson’: St. Louis and the Geography of Fear

Sarah Kendzior & Umar Lee, Quartz

St. Louis is a city long on the run from itself. White flight has spread from suburbia to exurbia, while decades of black demands — for better jobs, better schools, better treatment—go unheeded. This is a region deprived of resources, forcing residents to scrounge for more fertile terrain.

10. Stephen Powers Puts the Writing on the Wall

Neima Jahromi, Bklynr

From the magazine Bklynr, a profile of the street artist behind some of Brooklyn’s most recognizable murals.

Photo: dystopos, Flickr


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40. Longreads’ Best of WordPress, Vol. 7

Here it is! A new collection of our favorite stories from across all of WordPress.

As always, you can find our past collections here. You can follow Longreads on WordPress.com for more daily reading recommendations, or subscribe to our free weekly email.

Publishers, writers, you can share links to your favorite essays and interviews (over 1,500 words) on Twitter (#longreads) and on WordPress.com by tagging your posts longreads.


1. What Happens When a Veteran High School Teacher Becomes a Student for the Day

Grant Wiggins

“I waited fourteen years to do something that I should have done my first year of teaching: shadow a student for a day.” A high school teacher learns some sobering lessons about how kids experience a typical day — and the amount of sitting required.

2. No Apology

Mehreen Kasana

The truth about being Muslim in America:

In the eyes of those perpetually seeking an apology from Muslims, I am a Bad Muslim. I don’t put hashtag-suffixed apologies online for what someone else of my faith does. When 9/11 happened, I was as shocked and terrified as anyone else was. We scary-looking Muslims experience human emotions, too. … We Muslims react to unexpected loss of life like any non-Muslim would. We cry, we mourn.

3. The Rise and Fall of Public Housing in NYC

Richard Price, Guernica

A “subjective overview” of the history of public housing in New York City from the novelist Richard Price, framed through the lens of his own upbringing in the North Bronx’s Parkside Houses.

4. Ways Men In Tech Are Unintentionally Sexist

Kat Hagan, This Is Not a Pattern

How our behavior and language can have a harmful impact — and how we can fix it. “Small, simple changes will build the foundation for a better tech culture.”

5. Gone Girls: Human Trafficking on the Home Front

Mike Kessler, Los Angeles Magazine

Kessler talks to survivors of child prostitution, as well as law enforcement officers, judges, politicians, and advocates working to prevent the sex trafficking of minors.

6. The Evans Family Is Living in This World

Linda Vaccariello, Cincinnati Magazine

A community comes together to help a family after a tragedy:

“The reality hit me like nothing I’d ever experienced,” McDonald says. “She had no one. I couldn’t imagine what that was like.” McDonald went to Ao, threw her arm around the sobbing woman’s shoulders, and said, “We’ll help you.”

7. The Plunge

Carl Schreck, Grantland

The story of Shavarsh Karapetyan, a Soviet swimming champion who dove into Armenia’s Lake Yerevan and saved dozens of lives from a sinking trolleybus.

8. How Pixar’s Gurus Brought the Magic Back to Disney Animation

Caitlin Roper, Wired

A profile of John Lasseter and Ed Catmull, whose intense focus on storytelling helped revive Disney’s animation studio with hits like Frozen and Wreck-It Ralph.

9. ‘I Am Darren Wilson’: St. Louis and the Geography of Fear

Sarah Kendzior & Umar Lee, Quartz

St. Louis is a city long on the run from itself. White flight has spread from suburbia to exurbia, while decades of black demands — for better jobs, better schools, better treatment—go unheeded. This is a region deprived of resources, forcing residents to scrounge for more fertile terrain.

10. Stephen Powers Puts the Writing on the Wall

Neima Jahromi, Bklynr

From the magazine Bklynr, a profile of the street artist behind some of Brooklyn’s most recognizable murals.

Photo: dystopos, Flickr


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41. Welcoming We Give Books to the First Book Family

We can’t keep it a secret any longer!

iStock_000024504532LargeAs of today, We Give Books has a new home at First Book. The online platform, which features nearly 300 digitally-optimized children’s books, enables anyone with access to the Internet to put books in WGB-FB-logothe hands of kids in need, simply by reading online.

This generous gift to First Book comes from The Pearson Foundation along with $1.3M in cash to support We Give Books and help First Book deliver new online programs and services to our growing network of 140,000 classrooms and community organizations serving children in need.

You can get involved too!

Children, parents, caretakers and educators can visit www.wegivebooks.org and select books to read together. Reading on the site also triggers donations of new books to programs and classrooms serving children in need. Launched just four years ago, We Give Books has helped deliver more than 3.25 million books to children around the world.

We could not be more thankful to the Pearson Foundation or more thrilled for We Give Books to join the First Book family, helping us provide even more critical reading opportunities to young people across the United States and around the world.

Learn more about We Give Books joining First Book here. Then check out We Give Books and start reading today.

The post Welcoming We Give Books to the First Book Family appeared first on First Book Blog.

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42. When to Abandon a Book

Now I'm not talking about abandoning a book that you're writing. There's a time for that, sometimes, and that's for another post. I'm talking about when to abandon a book that you're reading. When you're in school, you're required to read books that you wouldn't normally choose on your own. And that's what school is for. To challenge you, to get you to think critically about things you

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43. …which leads to books!

Remember how I said cleaning leads to writing? Yep, I’ve been busy. And I’m still busy, because I’m not exactly done. But I thought you’d be interested in an update and some recent releases, along with the coming attractions …

First, you can get these now:

LOVE PROOF is now out in audio! I love the narration Maria Hunter Welles did for it. And I didn’t announce it at the time (see above, been busy), but there are also audio editions of THE GOOD LIE, DOGGIRL, and REPLAY. I know. It’s a lot. Take your pick and listen away!

Also, I have a new short story collection out. It’s called A FEW STRANGE MATTERS, and it is. A little odd. But sometimes my mind needs a break from longer works like novels, and when I let my mind wander, it wanders. The collection has some contemporary, some science fiction, a little fantasy, some paranormal, and a couple of strange stories from the teen world. You might have read a few of them here and there, but I guarantee there are some you’ve never seen. Possibly because I wrote them under a pen name that none of you knew about. So take a look–I’ll be interested in hearing what you all think!

Now, for the coming attractions:

YES, PARALLELOGRAM 4 WILL BE OUT THIS FALL. That’s all I can say, because I have made the mistake before of giving you a pub date which turns out not to be true. But I promise you will feel satisfied and fulfilled when you read this final book in the series. I’m still working very hard to pull all the pieces together. Thank you for your questions (“When? WHEN??”) and your patience. I hate waiting, too. I get it. It’ll be along very soon.

And to make you even happier about all the time I’ve been hiding out, I’ll also have ANOTHER NEW BOOK for you by December, I believe. It’s fantasy, it’s epic, and it involves a girl warrior. Yessssss …

That’s my report for now. I have to go back to writing. I owe you all some books.

Happy Fall! ~Robin

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44. Surviving a Stroke at 33 (and Blogging About It)

Christine Hyung-Oak Lee suffered a stroke when she was 33, and she has written about her experience in an inspiring personal essay for BuzzFeed.

Before that, she was using a pseudonym on WordPress.com to blog about her experiences, share details about her life, and practice her writing. In 2007, shortly after New Year’s Day, Lee wrote the following in a blog post:

something in my brain burped. most of what i want to do is just out of my grasp. i feel like i know how to do them, but then when i go to do them, i just…CAN’T. day by day, i’m regaining my abilities, so i hope this is just temporary.

Lee’s commenters urged her to see a doctor, and the next day, she responded to them from a hospital bed: “I had a stroke! Will be better.”

I spoke with Lee about her experience, and what she has learned about herself and her writing.

* * *

christine-lee-crop

It’s amazing that you could go through something so profound health-wise and chart a new path for yourself coming out of it. What’s the response been to your essay?

I’ve been blown away. As life-changing as my stroke was, the response, too, will probably go down in my life history as a turning point.

I had a blog — and I’ve been blogging since before it was called “blogging,” back when it was called “web journaling,” back in the days when Justin Hall was on links.net and when I wrote my posts in HTML. But before I spun up my anonymous blog, I was asked to stop blogging by a few family members. I was putting them at risk, they said, I was not to make myself so public.

Bottom line, I didn’t want to stop blogging, so I started up a blog under a pseudonym. I never told them about the blog. A few months later, I had my stroke.

The blog was one of the first places to which I turned when I had my stroke, before I knew I’d had a stroke. I wrote in my journal, too — but I turned to my blog in the wake of my stroke, which for me was a largely isolating event. I made some great friends. Got support that way. It was my village, for a time.

Also, my blog has always been a place to do some “low-stakes writing” — writing without the intention of publication, writing that is more therapeutic. That said, blogging has always been a venue for me to refine my writing voice — because after all, it is still a public space with readers.

What are the odds that a person could suffer a stroke at 33?

According to the New York Times, about 10 to 15 percent of strokes happen to people under the age of 45. That’s supposed to be about 1 in 1,000. And oftentimes, young people who have had a stroke are misdiagnosed and sent home.

I was the youngest person in the DCU (aka “stroke unit”) in the hospital by about 30 years during my stay. Most doctors were astonished by my age. They certainly didn’t suspect I’d had a stroke until they saw the MRI and its uncontested results. I could see how I could have been sent home and had to shoulder a mysterious ailment. I was lucky in that they figured it out and I got the care I needed to ensure the recovery I eventually had.

Can you talk about some specific posts that led you on a path both during and after your stroke?

Definitely, the post during which readers told me to go to the hospital!

I’m not sure where I found my voice after the stroke, really. I think there were people out in the internet reading — Carolyn Kellogg, who writes for the LA Times, had a blog called Pinky’s Paperhaus at the time, and she linked to me as a writer recovering from stroke. So there was definitely interest in my story and situation.

I really don’t think I found my voice regarding my stroke until years later. I wasn’t able to write about it until my post for Nova Ren Suma, who did a Turning Point series on her blog, to which I contributed with a reference to my stroke.

Not only has blogging my stroke experience refined my voice, it was also life-saving. And anonymity provided sanctuary.

What is your life like now?

It is as normal as I imagine it to be. It’s, honestly, better than my life pre-stroke. I’m following my dreams and choosing very carefully what it is I want to do each day, each month, each year. While in recovery, I had very limited energy, and had to be particular about my priorities; I decided to keep doing that, go forward.

And what about your writing?

Once you go through something like that, when so many of your abilities are taken away, your life is pared down to what it is you really want to get back.

I went through a very dark place at some point in my recovery — and although I don’t look upon that phase with fondness, I did learn what was most important to me, and what it is I most desired out of my life. And my writing became a front-and-center goal. I’d always known writing was important to me, but after the stroke, I knew I would channel everything I had to get back to writing.

Now that I’m writing again, I’ve more a sense of structure with regard to my writing projects; in fact, I’m obsessed with structure, because recovery is so much about stages and regaining structure. Because my brain was injured, I understood how writing happens, in my brain at least — that stories are modular, that I need quiet, that layers come with each retelling.


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45. Weekend Links: Booklists Upon Booklists!

weekend links

Booklist and more Booklists! This week has revealed tons of wonderful booklist for readers and parents to enjoy. Here are some of my top picks:

9 Poetry books for kids from the Pleasantest Thing

911 t

The Jenny Evolution has an amazing list of 50 Amazing Chapter Books for Boys!

boyadventures

 Jacquie from KCEdventures offered up Around the World in 30 Books — A Trip Across the Globe

around the world in 30 books

I love this list of 100 Books for 1st Graders to Read from 123 Homeschool 4Me!

100 Books for 1st Graders to Read by themselves (with free printable bookmark!) #bookrecommendations #1stgrade

Ka-POW! Here’s a list of Super Hero Chapter and Picture books from What Do We Do All Day.

superhero-picture-and-chapter-books-400x571

Rebecca at Simple As That has a wonderful (and timely) Fall Book List.

The onset of Fall and cooler temps always makes me think of HALLOWEEN! And Halloween at the Budayr household means another opportunity for Book or Treat.

Book or Treat is something I created as a fun way to get out-grown/unused books into the hands of young readers along with their usual Halloween treats. You can read more about Book or Treat here, but I’d like to encourage everyone to really consider doing this in their community. It is SO easy and fun to do and it benefits readers of all ages!

Grab a copy of my FREE Book or Treat Community Kit but clicking on the image below. Help spread the Book or Treat message!

Book-or-Treat Guide

 

 

 

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46. "The Christmas Story for Children" Book Review and Book Giveaway

by Sally Matheny

The Christmas Story for Children


     How many members in your family love to read? Currently, we have 4 out of 5 avid readers in my family. About ten years ago, it was two out of five so we’re making progress! One of the keys to enjoyment is finding great books to read. Perhaps I can help you. A book review will be posted at the beginning of each month. This month’s review includes a free giveaway of the book so be sure to enter in the Rafflecopter box below.

     The Christmas Story for Children, collaboratively written by Max Lucado, Randy Frazee, and Karen Davis Hill is a picture book published by Zonderkidz. Immediately, the story draws readers into a journey. A journey of ordinary people God set aside for His extraordinary purposes.

    


    This beautiful story begins with God’s chosen, the Jewish people, and ribbons its way to Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds. Typical Christmas storybooks end shortly after the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ. However, The Christmas Story for Children gives more.

     Midway through the book, it tells how God’s exceptional Son lived an ordinary life as a child. Then, one day he left his ordinary life to do “amazing and marvelous things…”

     The second half of the book reveals Jesus’ baptism experience at the Jordan River and how “the ordinary ended and the spectacular began.”

     This story stays true to the Holy Bible using the New International Reader’s Version and the New Century Version.

     Award-winning artist, Fausto Bianchi, provides exquisite full color illustrations for this 32-page picture book by Zonderkidz. The book is geared for children aged four to eight but older children and adults will find its beauty enthralling. Bianchi produces a fresh artistic perspective of the story. I found myself pondering a great deal over his illustrations, especially on the unusual facial expressions of his characters. 

     The only illustration I question is the angel Gabriel.  His upper body has the appearance of a male but the facial features appear feminine. I’m unsure what Bianchi is trying to express but I found an interesting and satisfying note about angels posted at http://www.compellingtruth.org/angels-male-female.html.

     I recommend this book. The Christmas Story for Children will make a great gift with its beautiful story of truth and distinctive illustrations. 


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. 

The book giveaway begins at 12:00 a.m. Oct. 7 and ends at 12:00 a.m. on Oct. 14.
If the Rafflecopter is not displaying correctly for you, there are two ways to enter. If you leave a comment about one way you help children focus on Christ, especially during the month of December, then your name goes in the "pot" one time. If you subscribe to this blog by entering your email under the "Follow by Email" button on the right, your name goes in THREE times for the drawing!
The winner will be announced on Oct. 15.


a Rafflecopter giveaway










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47. Friday Feature: Soul Journey by Miranda Shanklin


It has been many lifetimes since the cycle began.

The cycle that still haunts Annisa Lawson.


A spell cast in desperation to help, which only caused heartache.


Now, Annisa has found her way out of the varying repeats of her past; only to bring more danger to herself, and those around her. Now she must learn to survive with the help of her friends: Chase, Penelope, and Landon have all gone through each life cycle with Annisa. Sometimes helping, sometimes hindering. Now that Annisa has broken the cycle of their collective punishment, she finds that she needs her friends more than ever to keep their enemies, known, and unknown, at bay. As the group of friends learn of
their souls' journeys through their many life cycles, they must also learn to control the magick they have discovered within themselves and each other, in order to defeat the most feared assassin in their world.

EXCERPT FROM SOUL JOURNEY:

“Annisa everyone in this room, including you, is a witch.” Mom paused to let that sink in, but before I could say anything she continued; “I know that this is hard for you to believe. Most witches wake up on their sixteenth birthday and their power starts to show itself and the memories start to slowly come back. By their eighteenth birthday most witches have all of their memories from every life that they have lived. Everything that you think you know about witches is wrong. Magick is not in the blood, it is not passed down through the family; magick is in the soul. Every witch’s soul goes through a cycle. You live a life and then you transition to The Clouds to rest before you come back to earth for another life cycle. The Clouds is kind of like heaven is for mortals. It's the same concept except we don’t go to The Clouds and stay there, we get to come back. No mortal can go to The Clouds and no witch can go to heaven. Our physical body is made the same way as a mortal’s with one exception. Only one child can be born to each witch couple in any given lifetime.”

At this time I'm sure my face was showing my line of thought as I immediately looked at Chase and Penelope, but my mom held up her hand to stop me from saying anything.

“Let me finish, then you can ask all the questions that you want and we will answer them all.” I nodded to let her know that I understood and I was ready for her to continue.

“I'm sure that you've noticed a few things that I've said don't seem to be the case. But notice that I have said most witches. You, Landon, Chase and Penelope are all exceptions to the rules. There is a reason for that, but it's one that I can't reveal to you yet. It will be revealed in time, but there are a few things that need to transpire first. The events that have to take place have already been set in motion and it won’t be much longer before we are able to reveal all. Penelope is the only one of you four that knows the entire situation but the consequences of her telling you early are more than any of you are willing to pay as has been proven in prior lifetimes.”

I looked over at Penelope and saw the pain in her eyes that she was not able to divulge this important information and the toll it was taking on her. I decided at that point that I wouldn't even ask her about it and just let her decide when it was the right time to tell me. She was obviously having a hard time with her roll in all of this and I didn’t want to make it any harder on her. I managed a small smile for her to let her know that I didn't blame her for not being able to tell me. She looked very relieved that I wasn't looking at her with anger.

Mom waited for this all to sink in and then continued. “You've always felt alone and like you didn't quite fit in because you sensed that you were different. You were drawn to Landon because you sensed he was also a witch along with other reasons that will be revealed later. The four of you have had your lives intertwined since the beginning of time. This lifetime is the first time that it looks like everything will work out the way it was meant to in the beginning. I know that Penelope has been giving you advice and trying to guide you to do what needs to be done. Listen to her advice and your own instincts. There are forces that are working against you and who don’t want this to ever be resolved. Quite frankly, we're all ready for it to come to an end and for the four of you to finally find the happiness that you deserve. Please don’t ask about the forces, I cannot tell you about them, it's too dangerous to speak of out in the open. Just remember that every witch has a soul mate who is also a witch and it's up to you to find yours.”

“I'm sure that you caught the beginning where I said most witches wake up on their sixteenth birthday and their power starts to show itself. Penelope has had her power and her memory since birth. Landon and Chase received some of their power, but not even half of it on their sixteenth birthday. You will not receive any of yours until after the events that have been put in action take place. If you make the same mistakes as before you will get your memories and a portion of your power and Landon and Chase will never get their full powers, but will get their memories. If you make the right choices and the issues are finally resolved you will all receive your full power as well as your memories. There is a reason that the three of you won’t get your memories until after it's too late to use them for your choices. This situation is a punishment and until you all learn and make the right choices it will continue to play out the same in each lifetime. You have to come to the right choices all on your own to show that you have grown as witches and can handle the responsibility.”

I asked my mom, “Is that everything?”

“Everything that I'm able to tell you at this time, there is more but that will all have to wait. I'm sure you have a ton of questions. Please ask us anything you want.”  “Just give me a couple of minutes to process all of this.” She nodded to let me know that she understood and would wait as long as I needed her to. I looked around at each face sitting there. The adults were all looking at me with sympathy and understanding. Penelope was guarded and apprehensive about my reaction. Landon and Chase were giving each other glares, but as they turned to face me I saw anger and resentment in Landon’s eyes and hope and longing in Chase’s eyes.

“So you're telling me that everyone in this room has known that I'm a witch and I'm just now finding out? Every single one of you has been hiding the truth about me, and all of you?” I asked calmly. I wasn’t angry about it but I wanted to hear the reasoning behind not telling me sooner.

Sound good? You can grab it on Kindle for only $3.99.

Want your YA, NA, or MB book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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48. A Pony Express Book List and Some Things To Do

On this day in 1858, Buterfield and Company agreed to carry the mail out west starting in Missouri and ending in California. The 2800 mile Westward journey would take 24 days. The mail was delivered twice weekly using overland coaches, mules and horses.

Two years later, with the threat of the Civil War looming, the need for faster communication to the West was created.

Today we felt like celebrating the first ever cross country mail delivery and a bit of American itself with a look at the Pony Express.

Pony Express

The Pony Express consisted of relays of men riding horses carrying saddlebags of mail across a 2000-mile trail. The service opened officially on April 3, 1860, when riders left simultaneously from St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California. The first westbound trip was made in 9 days and 23 hours and the eastbound journey in 11 days and 12 hours. The pony riders covered 250 miles in a 24-hour day.

Pony Express

Eventually, the Pony Express had more than 100 stations, 80 riders, and between 400 and 500 horses. The express route was extremely hazardous, but only one mail delivery was ever lost. The service lasted only 19 months until October 24, 1861, when the completion of the Pacific Telegraph line ended the need for its existence.

The Pony Express Booklist

pony express

Off Like the Wind!! The First Ride of the Pony Express by Michael Spradin Illustrated by Layne Johnson {for grades 3-5}

Pony Express

Whatever Happened to the Pony Express by Verla Kay for {grades 2-4}

Pony express

Hoof Beats of Danger: American Girl History Mysteries by Holly Hughes for {grades 3-6}

Pony Express

Riders of the Pony Express by Ralph Moody for {grades 7+}

Pony Express

Black Storm Comin’ by Diane Lee Wilson for {grades 6+}

pony express

The Sweetwater Run: The Story of Buffalo Bill Cody and the Pony Express by Andres Glass

ponyexp5

Wanted: A Few Bold Riders by Darice Bailer

pony express

Somethings to Do

Want to know more about the Pony Express ? Have a look here. There are many fun activities to do such as stamp making and a communications game to play as well as print outs and word games.

Map Out the Pony Express

**Some of these links are affiliate links

Now Available! The newest children’s book from Audrey Press. Click the image below for more details.

A Year in the Secret Garden.

A Year in the Secret garden

 

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49. Friday Feature: Soul Redemption by Miranda Shanklin


Last week I featured Soul Journey, and this week I have the sequel, Soul Redemption.


Just when Annisa and her friends were starting to think maybe the Counsel would leave them alone, two new students arrive at school. In any other town, new students wouldn’t be a sign that something big was about to happen to Annisa, Chase, Landon, and Penelope; but this wasn’t a normal town and they weren’t normal teenagers. They had come into their powers and defeated the most feared assassin in their world, so the appearance of new witches in their small town could only mean one thing.....the Counsel was ready to make another attempt to destroy them.

After watching the new students alienate them from everyone they know, including their parents, Annisa and her friends break through the spell and things start to calm down for them. It’s not until an old enemy returns with news that will shock them that they realize everything is not as it seems. Now they have to decide whether or not to trust an old enemy claiming to help them, or try and fight against the Counsel’s most trusted Advisors on their own.
The choice the group makes will change their lives forever.

EXCERPT FROM SOUL REDEMPTION:

It started happening slowly at first. It took a few days for me to figure out what was going on. All of a sudden a few of my friends wouldn’t even look at me anymore and they refused to talk to me, so I had no idea what happened to make them treat me like this. I'd known these people my whole life so it really didn’t make sense to me that they were withdrawing from me completely. Landon was noticing the same thing. Penelope and Chase had moved so many times growing up that they really didn’t notice. They didn’t know anyone around here well enough for it to really change for them.

Landon and I were watching as the people that we'd grown up with slowly turned their backs on us. The more that the new kids showed they had no interest in us, the more others were starting to act the same. I was getting very suspicious of the new kids and what they were doing to the rest of the school.  I had no proof and really no idea what they were doing, so I couldn’t do anything but watch as this all happened.

After about a week, Chase noticed that we weren’t stopped so much in the hall by people that wanted to talk to me. The girls on the cheerleading squad were no longer trying to give me their ideas for a new routine, and were just going through the routine without engaging either me or Penelope.  After practice he had a strange look on his face and I knew he was starting to put it all together too.

That night we met with our parents in the secure room in my basement.  This was the only place that we could go and know for sure that the Counsel was not listening in on us. We had spelled the room to not let anyone hear anything from the outside and only us that created the spell are able to enter the room.

Since Chase was noticing what was going on I felt it was safe to bring it up to the others, “I haven’t said anything because I couldn’t prove what I was suspecting, and I wasn’t sure if I was overreacting. Today, I noticed that Chase was starting to see it too.  I don’t know how they are doing it, but the new kids are alienating us from everyone at school.  Somehow the people that Landon and I have known our whole lives will not talk to us or even look at us unless it is completely necessary. They avoid us as much as they can. Even the cheerleading squad won’t really talk to me.”

Landon had been nodding the whole time I was talking letting me know that he had noticed all of this too, “The football team will still follow my instructions and play the strategies that I tell them to, but that's it. They won’t talk to me, they won’t make suggestions, and off the field they won’t really talk to me unless they have to.”

My mom and Landon’s mom exchanged a worried look and then my mom said, “There really is no way for us to know at this point; if this is just from them starting rumors that you just haven’t heard yet, if there is a spell that they cast, or if it is simply a phase the kids at school are going through.  You have to remember that not everything that happens in the world has to do with magick. Sometimes it is just jealous teenagers. It is probably just the other kids trying to make sure that you don’t try and make a move on the new kids. With the way that the situation evolved when Chase and Penelope first moved here, and nobody knowing the real story so nobody understands what happened.  I think you are just overreacting to normal teenage behavior.”

Chase was the one to voice the concerns that I was feeling, “If you really think that, then why did you both look worried before you started that little speech?”

My mom did not like the way that he said that but she answered him anyway, after she gave him a stern look to make sure he knew that she was not going to let him get away with talking to her like that again, “The worried look was because we are afraid that you are all so focused on the Counsel and what they are doing, that you are going to see something sinister in every action that anyone takes. We don’t want you to become so paranoid that you accidentally harm an Innocent.  You have to remember that most of the town is not from our world and have no idea magick even exists. High school is never easy, and nobody ever said that it was fair or that teenagers were always rational.”

I let out a frustrated sigh, “It’s different than the normal teenage drama.  We had to deal with that when Chase and Penelope first got here, and this is not the same.”

Landon’s mom gave me a sympathetic look,  “Honey, I know that you are used to being liked by everyone and that you have never had to deal with the other side of the table when it comes to popularity, but you have to understand that sometimes these things just happen with no involvement from magick.”


Seeing that we were just going to keep talking in circles about this subject, because neither side was willing to concede, Penelope changed the subject, “Okay, we're just going to have to agree to disagree on this for now.  I am more concerned with how it feels when we are around them.  I can sense them and their magick, but it’s not the same as with other witches.”

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50. Book Recommendation: The History of the Franks by Gregory of Tours

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Biljana Likic

So you’re writing that sweeping historical novel full of war and political intrigue, and you maybe need some inspiration. Where better to turn than to history books? Only problem is that they can be a bit dry, and at times the forced impartiality (“I must present this as facts uncoloured by my opinion!”) can make the prose frustratingly ambiguous. Then there’s the whole “history is written by the victor” thing. The phrase reveals the difficulties readers face when approaching historical writing. Not to mention, it’s practically impossible to write about a historical event in a completely detached way without it sounding like a recipe.

Honestly, it makes me glad I write fiction. The pressure of writing a history book is terrifying. What sources you include, and where you include them, and why…no matter how you organize them, there will always be an expert disagreeing with you.

Enter Gregory of Tours. He was a 6th century bishop of (you guessed it) Tours, France, and is our best contemporary source of the Merovingian dynasty in modern-day France and Germany. He wrote history, but it’s only in very recent times that we started giving him more credit as an actual historian. Why did it take so long? You only need to take a gander at all the wild stuff he says in his most famous work, The History of the Franks.

Here’s the deal. Remember the whole “no such thing as no bias” spiel? This is very apparent in Gregory. A lot of people read the Histories assuming they’re a moralistic work about how those who aren’t Catholic will suffer the demons of hell, and those that are will be saved in heaven. To be fair, it’s not a hard conclusion to reach. There’s one story of a priest conspiring against his superior, and as alleged punishment from God, on the morning the priest is getting ready to betray him, this happens: “He went off to the lavatory and while he was occupied in emptying his bowels he lost his soul instead.”

Lost his soul on the can. He quite literally shit himself to death. There are fewer effective ways to teach someone a lesson about going against a saintly authority.

But then, in another story, Queen Deuteria is afraid that her husband might “desire and take advantage of” their maturing daughter so she puts her in a cart drawn by untamed bulls and the daughter crashes into a river and dies. And this happens in like three sentences with no moral. No ceremony, no “The shadow of sin is cast upon the loveless mother!”, no “Don’t lust after your own daughter or else your wife might kill her (and also, sin)!”, only a few nearly parenthetical phrases, perhaps just to explain what happened to the daughter when the King later takes a new wife and refuses to take Deuteria back. I wonder why he’d do that.

So you have this one priest’s story taking up a few sizable, memorable paragraphs about him conspiring against his bishop, and then you have this other one of a horrific filicide told in a measly three sentences. That’s the fascinating thing about this work. It’s a bunch of to-the-point recitations of facts mixed together with wildly moralistic tales where common sicknesses and coincidences are explains away as God’s doing. In some sections it even reads like fantasy. It’s as full of people having prophetic dreams and being warned about the dangers ahead as it is of short side notes about a perfectly Christian king being poisoned just because…well…he was king, and he was poisoned.

But the reason the Histories are so valuable today, aside from being a long and spectacular feat of story-telling, is because there really is a genuinely massive amount of historical information within them. Every so often you’ll find entire letters Gregory directly transcribed so he could give us the primary source rather than rephrasing an event in his own words. Some of these letters survive in different forms and can be used to cross-reference events in the book. Others only survive through his writing. There is a ton of specificity about the Church, and especially about the history of the bishopric of Tours. There’s stuff in there about the actual daily lives of people living in the 6th century, their traditions, habits, and gossip, written by a person living in the 6th century. That is absolutely invaluable.

Not to mention a freaking amazing read. Merovingian kings and queens meant business. The backstabbing, the stealing of territory, copious amounts of regicide, broken alliances, queens abandoning their husbands for other kings because others were manlier and held more promise as conquerors… These people were ruthless. Contrast that with the general thread of what it means to be a good Christian weaving through the work, and you’ve got some damn awesome dichotomies going on.

So move this baby up your to-read list. Not only is it full of events that actually happened, making it an excellent book to read for personal research, but it’s also a great literary window into the workings of 6th century Continental Europe.

biljana new picBiljana Likic is working on her fantasy WIPs and has just started her MA in Medieval Studies, from which she can’t wait to graduate so she’ll finally have all the time in the world to write. You can follow her on Twitter.

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