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Tip off is here and we are ready to choose teams. On one side we find out which fictional character reins supreme, and on the other side great beasts go head-to-head. Prizes are on the line so choose wisely.
You guessed it, It is time for March Madness! We are mad about books at Arbordale and this year we have our own March Madness contest for you. Choose your favorites on the bracket downloaded from our website and submit your choices by March 25th. This tournament isn’t winner take all; the top four scorers will win a prize.
Today I'd like to introduce you to C.K. Brooke and her novel, Secrets of Artemis.
Not even the god of gods could command my heart not to love...
In Ancient Greece, the goddess Artemis was venerated as a maiden huntress, swift with her bow and arrows, and eternally chaste. But could there be more to her story? Perhaps Lady Artemis had envisioned quite a different destiny than the one her father, Zeus, had chosen for her. What if she hadn't merely pined after the giant huntsman, Orion, but had secretly partaken of a forbidden romance with him?
From prolific fantasy writer C.K. Brooke comes an original divine novel, in which Artemis's classic myths are retold as never before, in her own voice, as the young goddess sets the record straight and reveals the true account of her immortal life - and love.
C.K. Brooke is the author of multiple fantasy, romance and women's adventure novels. She lives in Washington, Michigan with her husband and young son. For news about upcoming releases, follow her on Facebook and Twitter, and visit her at www.CKBrooke.com.
*Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up. Add a Comment
Hello and Welcome to our first installment of the Read Kid’s Classics Challenge! I’m so glad you’re here and I can hardly wait to see what you’re reading as well. As many of you already know, I am a huge fan of children’s classics and over the years my family has actively read old classics and discovered new ones. In 2016 one of my many goals is to discover even more classics and share them with you, my valued readers.
So from now on, every month during my Read Kids Classic Challenge, I am going to present one classic that I simply can’t live without!
Joining me in this book-ish and fun campaign is a handful of powerhouse bloggers who are excited to share their very own #readkidsclassics picks! Please feel free to visit these five #ReadKidsClassics bloggers to see what classic book reading fun they have created.
I don’t think it will surprise anyone what my first Read Kid’s Classics Challenge pick is going to be, and I have a very good reason for that! I picked this book because it was my first kid’s classic and it became my favorite friend and companion throughout my childhood, ….no, throughout my life.
It was such a favorite book that I even wrote an activity guide to bring the entire book alive, month by month. What I would have done to be Mary and to live at Misselthwaite Manor but most of all to enter that garden.
OK, so knowing this about me, can you imagine my excitement this past November when I got to meet the author of the Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett) great grand-daughter? Oh it was really incredible. I had a little fan girl moment but then again so does her great grand-daughter Penny Dupree. Frances was just the most remarkable person and Penny has dedicated her life to getting her great grandmother’s story out.
While writing A Year in the Secret Garden I discovered that Frances Hodgson Burnett (FHB) started her writing career here in East Tennessee where I live. Last November was the 150th anniversary of her move from England to America and I was honored to be invited to participate with all of the fine folks of New Market, and Jefferson City.
So Let Me Share a Little About Frances Hodgson Burnett (FHB)
Now that you’re in my inner reading circle we’ll always refer to Frances as FHB. So reading friend I have to share with you that FHB was a most remarkable woman. At the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, FHB was accomplished woman. She started writing to support her family who had just immigrated to the United States. From the moment she penned and published her first word, she was never turned down by a publisher. At the time of her death she had over 1000 magazine articles, 55 books, and several plays.
In her lifetime she was very well-known and admired as a writer as well as very wealthy. She was an adventurer crossing the Atlantic ocean round-trip 33 times. We owe a lot of thanks to FHB because she is the person who established copyright laws. Another writer tried to steal her story Little Lord Fauntleroy by turning it into a play. FHB wasn’t having any of that, she rewrote her own story into a theater piece and opened up directly across the street from the man who had stolen her story. She ended up running him out of business. Because of this she said that nobody should be allowed to steal another person’s work and so she established the preliminary copyright laws we now hold very dear. At the bottom of that statue are the signatures of some of the most famous writers of the time in the United States.
Penny Deupree in her presentation also shared somethings that wouldn’t be considered good about her great grand mother such as she smoked, drank, and swore. She also suffered the death of one of her sons which left a huge hole in the family. The story has continued thru her great grand-daughter and now her great great grand-daughter who is writing a book about FHB.
During our time together I gave a copy of my book A Year in the Secret Garden to Penny and her family and they just loved it and were so moved. I have to share that I felt FHB was shining down on me and giving her two thumbs up. It was totally an affirmation. Since our time together in November I have felt her on a couple of occasions, like the idea of building a Secret Garden in the city where I live. I’m so glad that inspiration has led me into the Secret Garden and filled it with a lifetime of memories.
(Photo of Penny Deupree and her grandfather Viven Burnett.)
I wish the very same for you. If you sign-up for our Read Kid’s Classic Challenge, this month I’ve prepared a beautiful Secret Garden PDF with loads of activities. It’s completely free.
What’s the Read Kid’s Classic Challenge ?
Every month during our Read Kids Classic Challenge we are going to present one classic that we can’t live without. We’d like you to join as well.
To Participate:We’d like you to shareone kids classic that you can’t live without every month. Share it on your blog, vlog and social media using the hashtag #readkidsclassics once a month to let us know what you’ve been reading.
If you should choose to post about your kids classic choice, please let us know the following within your blog post:
WHEN did you Discover This Classic?
WHY did you Chose to Read It with your Family?
WHAT Makes It A Classic?
WHAT did you Think of This Classic?
Here’s how I classify classics as old or new (this isn’t an official classification it’s just sort of the way I think of it):
Old Kid’s Classics are those books written before 1950. New Kid’s Classics are those books written after 1950.
But that’s not all
When you sign up for the 2016 Read Kid Classics Challenge every month you will get a PDF that you can download which will have loads of activities on the particular book we’ve chosen to share at Jump into a Book. Each edition of Read the Kids Classics will highlight the story, have good things to eat in our kitchen called Table of Contents, give behind the scenes gossip about the author, easy crafts that kids can do on their own in our craftiness section, questions for the curious, explorations into the world of our featured books, as well as further connections via books like this one and topic booklists so you can find more good reads and finally a visit to the word wizard for some word play.
And Still There’s More-Free Books!
Sign up and join Jump Into A Book’s #ReadKidClassics Challenge to participate in our monthly adventure of sharing personal classic children’s favorites and activities.
On the last day of every month, JIAB will go on a book adventure; an adventure that will put participants in the running to win a bundle of book classics to fill your shelves with. This adventure could be in the form of a Instagram scavenger hunt or as easy as commenting here on JIAB. We just want participants to have fun and earn free books!
As part of this fun book-ish adventure, I will be creating free monthly PDFs of a #ReadKidClassics book and book extensions to give to all participants for their own family reading and fun.
We’re so excited about our challenge. Sign up below and we’ll see you there
Getting on the cheerleading squad is hard enough without a psycho on the loose…
For Harrow High freshman Dakota Densford, life should be easy. All she has to worry about is talking to cute boys and remembering her locker combination. But when cheerleading tryouts draw near, she learns the cards are stacked against her—spots on the varsity team are limited. Dakota faces her competition head-on, but when her life is threatened, that takes the competition to a whole new level.
High school is never easy, and freshman year is off to a rough start…
Between Dakota’s uniform being ripped up and masked vandals trashing another girl’s house, everyone is suspect. To complicate matters further, Dakota has a thing for Andy McGraw, but she finds him locking lips with another girl.
The harassment continues, and when Dakota finds suspicious flyers inside her best friend’s locker, she doesn’t know what to think. The principal’s unfeeling, overachiever daughter, Brittani Barlow, will do anything to secure her place on the team. But Dakota’s neighbor, on the other hand, definitely fits the profile of a sociopath.
Besides my family, my greatest love in life is books. Reading them, writing them, holding them, smelling them…well, you get the idea. I’ve always loved to read, and some of my earliest childhood memories are me, tucked away in my room, lost in a good book. I received a five dollar allowance each week, and I always — always — spent it on books. My love affair with writing started early, but it mostly involved journaling and writing silly poems. Several years ago, I didn’t have a book to read so I decided on a whim to write my own story, something I’d like to read. It turned out to be harder than I thought, but from that point on I was hooked. My first and second books were released by Sarah Book Publishing: This Is Not About Love and Grayson’s Ridge. I’m a total genre-hopper. Basically, I like to write what I like to read: a little bit of everything! I reside in Floyds Knobs, Indiana with my husband, three children, and massive collection of books. I have a degree in psychology and worked as a counselor.
“Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.”– Mason Cooley
Mason Cooley took the words right out of my mouth. As an avid reader, I have experienced the beauty of finding myself lost in another world within the pages of a book. Unfortunately, not all students may have had this type of opportunity. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the first step to creating a well-rounded classroom library should not only intrigue and motivate students to want to open a book but also meet their diverse learning needs.
Here are my top 5 ways to build a classroom library:
Create a classroom library without breaking the bank. Check all of your resources before heading to the closest department bookstore or even the school book fair. You can find gems while visiting local garage and yard sales, as well as thrift shops. Ask for donations from your family and friends. Look into your school’s policies in terms of grants or donors, and explore resources like Donors Choose to request materials for your classroom and First Book for discounted books.
2. Listen to and know your students. Think back to your favorite book, author, or series that you loved at your students’ age. Even though you ate them up, these types of books may or may not be as relevant to your group of students. If you want to have books in your library that students want to read, you need to ask them and get to know your students. Reading conferences can serve as a time to discuss books that students are currently reading or topics that they would be interested in learning more about. Readers notebooks can also provide insight into the reading patterns of your students. Have students record how often they read and the title and author of each book to open up your library to books you may have not considered.
3. Be thoughtful about your classroom community. The books in your classroom library need to not only reflect the topics and interests of your students but your students themselves. Can your students see themselves in these books? Do the characters and stories build understanding of diverse cultures and experiences? Reading books with diverse characters and content not only builds self-confidence through making personal cultural connections but also promotes empathy and understanding. A truly culturally responsive library does involve awareness and research. For more information, check out 8 Steps to Creating a Diverse Book Collection.
4. Consider the more formal aspects of a library. In addition to finding books that fit student interest, it is important to consider the accessibility of your books. Having a variety of books that cover a range of genres from graphic novels to biographies to poetry allows students to not only read for personal interest but supplement grade-level content learning in the classroom. So organizing books by not only theme but also level is also important to support students when selecting independent books within an appropriately challenging range. This includes having books both below and above grade level. But this doesn’t mean you should discourage a child from picking up a book just because it is not necessarily at his or her level, as their interest and motivation in the book’s topic plays a significant factor in overall comprehension.
5. Overcome the bumps with inspiration. “Reading is SO boring.” “There is nothing here that I want to read.” “I will never finish a book.” “I HATE reading.” Resistance and frustration are sometimes unfortunate parts of the process, but if met with a student-driven effort to identify each reluctant reader’s obstacles and ways to overcome them, negative attitudes toward reading can be turned around. Besides assessing your students’ reading levels and stocking your library with a wide range of interests, sometimes it is worth the time investment to go beyond the classroom for a little added spark. For example, inviting authors and illustrators to your classroom to share their writing or drawing processes can be a game changer for students. Many students have never met an author or illustrator before, and meeting the minds behind the books they’ve read is an inspiring experience for students.
Authentic reading experiences beyond your classroom, such as class trips to the local public library or bookstore, can help get your kids excited about reading. It’s important to provide students with experiences that show them that reading isn’t just an activity done in school. Personally, the best field trip I have attended so far was to Belmont Library in Bronx, NY. M class was able to have free reign of the library for nearly two hours and browse the selection to find their “just right” books. The highlight of the day was a student walking toward me with an armful of books asking, “How many books can I check out, Ms. Panko?” Giving students the opportunity to explore with your support gives them the freedom to internalize a love of reading.
Lindsay is a recent graduate from Mount Saint Mary College and is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Literacy Education. She currently holds New York State certifications for childhood (1-6) and students with disabilities (1-6). Lindsay is a first year teacher in the Bronx working as a sixth grade special education teacher. She enjoys hiking throughout the Hudson Valley and baking during her free time.
No reviews or memes or exciting links today. I just feel like babbling a little if that’s okay with you. If it isn’t, I presume you know how to take yourself elsewhere, not that I want you to go elsewhere, but you know what I mean.
So, read any good books lately? Heh. Do you hate it when non-readers ask you that? I do. I don’t know what they are expecting me to say. If I say yes then they ask me for titles and I kind of cringe inside because I know they are not interested in reading any of the titles I might rattle off. Sometimes I try to name books I think they might like in the hope that maybe they really are looking for a book suggestion. But mostly no matter what I say I get a blank but polite stare.
Now and then the non-reader might recognize a title or author and bark out commentary like, I read that and hated it. How am I supposed to respond to that? Or they’ll say, Virginia Woolf? Are you taking a literature class or something? And I will say no and they will be all astonished and say you read Woolf for fun? And then I get embarrassed because I can see the look in their eyes which is then followed by accusations of me being a super smart genius (um no) or a big weirdo (maybe?) but either way I am clearly not normal.
Then there is the follow up question, how many books do you read in a year? When a non-reader asks you this you know anything more than one or two is going to seem like a lot so when I stammer out that I read 67 books last year the person’s eyes get big and round and then they say something like, you must read really fast. Implying of course that if I don’t read fast then I really am weird because no normal person would actually spend so much time with books.
The conversation usually ends with the other person wondering how I manage to have so much time to read when they themselves are so busy there is not a minute in their day to sit down with a book. And I know this is a veiled accusation that I am somehow lazy and spend a lot of time doing nothing because reading, to a non-reading person, is nothing. The person walks away feeling superior and I am left to be the freak I so obviously am.
This is why I love the internet and book blogs. Because you all are my tribe. Among you I am completely normal and it is the non-readers who are freaks. We can babble on and on endlessly about all the books we are reading and want to read, about being excited over so-and-so publishing a new book or going to hear a favorite author read or the treasures we found at the used bookstore or the library. It feels good to be among you and not feel embarrassed or weird or accused. It’s home.
I'm really happy to feature my fellow Limitless author, Savannah Blevins. First, look how gorgeous the cover of Frog Hollow is!
It's a sign. No one is safe.
At just twenty-two years old, Wilhelmina Daniels inherits a house, a family of eclectic witches, and a death sentence on the same day. As revealed by Reid Thomas, her shy but smoldering neighbor, Wilhelmina is a descendent of the Innocent--a line of gifted women who are to be admired, feared, and above all else, protected.
Death, mayhem, and The Haunted...
The murder of Wilhelmina's mother--the family matriarch--sends the small town's rumor-mill into a frenzy. Suspicions fall on The Haunted, a rival force with dual personalities, one of them being Julien Cote.It's difficult to believe the charming boy has a sexual deviant with a hankering for violence lurking inside.Rumor has it Julien can seduce an angel out of her wings. Wilhelmina doesn't have wings, but if he calls her cheri d'amour one more time, she's liable to lose something of equal importance--her heart. But with Reid hailing from her clan, will she stay close to her own, or venture into the unknown?
Even a powerful spell can't seal Julien's fate…
Julien knows an incantation that just might help Wilhelmina to solve her mother's death, but when an unidentified stalker is spotted spying in her house, her family is certain it's Julien's dangerous alter ego come out to play.Wilhelmina must decide--is risking her life worth the possible heartbreak of discovering the truth about Julien's fate and her mother's death? Or will she cast aside her desire for Julien and vow her love to Reid.
Leaving her past forever buried in the murky depth of...Frog Hollow
And doesn't the book sound amazing? I need to read this one. Grab your copy here. Oh, and if you have Kindle Unlimited, you can grab this book for FREE!
Savannah was born in Hyden, Kentucky. She received her M.S in Speech Language Pathology from The University of Mississippi in 2009. She's been writing since the early age of nine when she begged her parents for a type writer for Christmas.
She now lives in Corbin, Ky with her husband of eight years, John, and their two wonderful daughters, Delilah and Gracie.
When she isn't working, or running after her kids, she spends her free time traveling the country with her husband. There is nothing better than a day of football in the grove, a late night of basketball at Rupp Arena or slapping the glass to celebrate another Washington Capitals goal.
She is a strong believer that with enough hard work and determination you can accomplish anything.
*Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up. Add a Comment
So here’s a question for you because I am always curious about how readers organize their reading and their time. We all read books but I know, if you are reading this, you also spend time on the interwebs and you probably spend time reading blogs but I also know you spend time reading other things online too. At least I am assuming you do because I know I do. I’m not talking about news, but longer stuff. Let’s call it long-from internet writing whether it is a long book review essay at the Los Angeles Review of Books (if you don’t read LARB by the way you are missing out I actually tend to like them better than NYRB because they have more variety and are less pretentious and know the world does not revolve around New York or Los Angeles) or maybe an article at Slate or The New Yorker or Bicycle Magazine or any number of the many places you like to visit on your internet rounds.
I’m going to bet that you are also like me in that you often find interesting long-form writing but gosh darn, just don’t have the time or brain power when you come upon it to read it right then and there. So you save it for later.
First question: Where/How do you save your read laters?
Since I am asking you, I will reciprocate and tell you that if something comes up in my feed reader (Feedly) I will save it for later there. I have a Mac and use the Safari browser that has a handy “read it later” feature where it will save articles in the browser but not as bookmarks. It’s hard to explain, but it is a useful feature for anything I come across through channels other than my feed reader. I have tried other methods like Delicious and Reddit but those are so out-of-sight, out-of-mind that I forget about them. Plus, no offense, but I really don’t care about the social aspects of those sites — what everyone else is reading, nor am I particularly interested in sharing what I am reading (or saving for later as the case may be).
Inevitably, the number of items I save for later pile up because I never have enough time later to catch up with them all. Just like books piling up on my reading table, I think I have more time and opportunity to read everything I want to read than I actually do.
Second question: What do you do with all your saved for later reading when you realize that later is not going to come?
Sometimes I might unsave an article or two but most of the time when I scan my lists I still want to read what I have saved so I end up hardly ever deleting anything unless I actually read it which, as I mentioned, is not as often as I expect. And then of course the saved things end up becoming a big, unwieldy mess. When that happens I am tempted to just delete it all and start fresh but then I see all kinds of things I still want to read and, well, you can guess what happens then, or doesn’t happen is more like it.
Eventually, like now, I start to feel overwhelmed by it all and I hold extensive debates with myself over what I should do. Before I allow myself to get sucked into another one my pointless internal debates, I thought I would ask you my two questions. So lay it on me, share your wisdom. How do you manage it all? Or maybe, like me, you don’t, and that’s okay too. I’ll be happy to know that I have company.
You know when you see a book cover and it brings tears to your eyes because it's just so perfect? Well, that's how I felt when Limitless Publishing sent me the cover of Into the Fire. Deranged Doctor blew me away. I mean this is Cara. Right down to the freaky red streaks she has in her hair and her sapphire eyes. And that Phoenix emblem! Oh wait…you haven't seen it yet! ;) Okay, check out the GORGEOUS new cover!
In one month’s time, seventeen-year-old Cara Tillman will die and be reborn from her own ashes…
Her life of secrecy has never been easy. She’s watched her younger brother, Jeremy, burn and rise again in a coming-of-age process called rebirth. And just like her brother, when her time comes, she won’t remember anything from her first life other than she’s a Phoenix—a member of a small group of people descended from the mythical Phoenix bird.
The last thing she needs to worry about is falling for the new guy in town—Logan Schmidt.
Cara is drawn to Logan in a way she can’t explain, but she’s not exactly complaining. Everything is perfect…except it’s not. Once she’s reborn, she’ll forget Logan. And to make things worse, a Phoenix Hunter is on the loose, and Cara’s involvement with Logan is bringing out her Phoenix qualities—the very qualities that will draw the Hunter right to her.
Desperate times call for desperate measures…
Afraid of hurting Logan, Cara breaks it off for good. But her attraction to him runs deeper than a typical high school crush. She wants him—needs him. And if he proves willing to stay by her side, their love might destroy them both.
Can Cara hide from the Phoenix Hunters long enough to survive her rebirth? And if so, will it mean a new beginning with Logan—or the beginning of the end?
So, what do you think? I can't tell you how much time I've spent staring at this cover. The book is now up on Goodreads, so you can add it to your shelf here. Want the book to arrive on your Kindle on release day? Preorder it here NOW.
It’s cold. In some places, it’s freezing. OF COURSE WE NEED TO READ RIGHT NOW! Bundle ourselves up in fleece and wool and whatever else will do it, and sit for hours totally immersed in story.
Speaking of bundles … do I have a treat for you!
My novel BOOK OF EARTH is currently part of a terrific WOMEN IN FANTASY story bundle, along with nine other books, all guaranteed to transport you away from the cold and wind and snow to places and times … where there might also be cold and wind and snow, but at least there’s also magic and mysticism and other delights that make losing ourselves in fantasy so much fun.
The whole bundle is available for a $15 minimum (although you’re free to pay more, and might want to, since a portion of the proceeds go to The Pearl Foundation, a charity created by singer Janis Ian to promote education by providing scholarships to returning students who have been away from school for a while — a worthy cause!).
But here’s the catch: this bundle will only be available for a limited time. You’ll never find all these wonderful novels grouped together like this for such a low price anywhere else. So the time is now! Winter isn’t just coming, it’s here! Let’s go read our way through it!
Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.
Here's what's on my mind today:
Editing January was a crazy editing month for me. If I told you how many books I edited and proofed, you'd probably think I discovered the secret to utilizing all 24 hours in each day. I'm still not sure how I did it. February isn't quite as packed, but it's still booked.
Into the Fire Special Dates February 6th is my cover reveal for Into the Fire. February 16th is release day. AND February 22 begins my blog tour. I see massive amounts of hazelnut coffee and dark chocolate in my future. ;)
Reading I've been combining reading time with exercise time, which really helps. I have to run on a treadmill thanks to my sciatica, so I read my Kindle while running. I've also gotten used to the Kindle reading to me on the highest speed, which makes me fly through books.
Revising Last week I managed to revise two of my own books in addition to editing. I feel really good about getting to work on some of my own projects in addition to all the editing I'm doing for clients and Leap Books.
Monroe County Book Expo I signed up for the Monroe County Book Expo on April 16th. I'll be there with ALL my Kelly Hashway titles and Ashelyn Drake titles. I'm hoping to have copies of the entire Into the Fire trilogy too, but the last book (Up In Flames) releases just days before, so we'll see.
Eleven-year-old Fairday Morrow is less than thrilled that her family is moving thousands of miles from civilization to the quiet country town of Ashpot, Connecticut, where she’s absolutely certain she’ll die of boredom.
As if leaving New York City and her best friend, Lizzy, the only other member of the elite Detective Mystery Squad (DMS), weren’t bad enough, Fairday is stuck living in the infamous Begonia House, a creepy old Victorian with dark passageways, a gigantic dead willow tree, and a mysterious past.
Before she can even unpack, strange music coming from behind a padlocked door leads Fairday up a spiral staircase and into a secret room, where an ancient mirror, a brass key, and a strange picture of a red-haired lady are the first in a series of clues that takes the members of the Detective Mystery Squad on an amazing adventure.
For the first time ever, I'm bringing in someone to help me review this book. My eight-year-old daughter, Ayla, and I read this book together, so I figured it only made sense to review it together too. So here are our thoughts on The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow.
We loved the mystery right from the start with the old newspaper article. The Begonia House really came alive for us. Ayla loved how the noises from the house and the woman who made an appearance in Fairday's room were really creepy. It really made her want to know what was going to happen next, so much so that we read the book in just three days. Without giving away spoilers, we'll just say that we really enjoyed how the setting came to life, adding to the mystery and excitement of the story. Ayla also would like a pair of those magical ruby sneakers. ;) Overall, this is a fast-paced mystery with just enough creepiness to draw readers in and hold their attention to the very last page. It's also a great story about friendship, both old and new.
Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.
RL.5.6. Describe how a narrator’s or speaker’s point of view influences how events are described.
That's the 5th grade reading (literature) standard we're just beginning to work on in my class. So that my students can better understand what's expected of them, we deconstructed the standard, brainstorming around these words: describe, narrator, speaker, point of view, view, and influence. Next, we rewrote the standard in our words. Then, I gave them this poem and a series of scaffolded questions that would lead them to describing how the speaker's point of view influences how events are described.
Lo and behold, it worked! Not all, but some, realized that the point of view of the speaker is that of an artist, and "they see everything that is ugly but they can make it beautiful." The speaker will "make things better in the picture." And "An artist can see in detail, and they can make art out of whatever they see." Not bad for a first try.
Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.
Here's what's on my mind today:
Scholastic Book Fair I'm working the book fair at my daughter's school this week. I always love getting to browse all the books, and I'm the crazy woman who has to fix the shelves because series are never together.
Editing My editing schedule is packed! I'm booking for the summer already.
Into the Fire Cover Reveal If you'd like to sign up for the cover reveal, which is a social media blitz (so you don't need to have a blog), you can do so here. It will run February 6th-8th.
Into the Fire Street Team If you haven't been able to apply for the INTO THE FIRE street team but you want to, I'm extending applications until 1/28 due to the demand! You can apply here.
Reading Even though my editing schedule is busier than ever, I've kept to my 2016 goal of making time to read. I've read some great books lately too.
Back in 2012, after Hurricane Sandy, I had a week-long furlough caused by a lack of electricity at my office near Union Square. That’s when I created this crazy idea: Read comics over a period of 26.2 hours, or read 1,572 pages of comics while doing nothing else. With the latest blizzard approaching Mega-City One and residents […]
Paperbacks & Wine is pleased to bring you G. Donald Cribbs- THE PACKING HOUSE virtual book tour January 18-31.
Title: THE PACKING HOUSE
Author: G. Donald Cribbs
Publication Date: 1/18/16
When sixteen-year-old Joel Scrivener has a raging nightmare in study hall and someone records it on their phone, he awakens to a living nightmare where everyone knows the secret he's avoided for ten years. Reeling from a series of bullying incidents posted on YouTube and an ill-timed mid-year move, Joel takes to the woods, leaving the bullies and his broken home behind. However, life as a runaway isn’t easy. Joel finds it difficult to navigate break-ins, wrestle hallucinations, and elude capture. He races to figure out who his dream-world attacker could be, piecing clues together with flashes of remembered images that play endlessly inside his head. Besides these images, the one constant thought occupying Joel’s mind is Amber Walker, the girl he’s been in love with for years. Amber sees little beyond the broken boy Joel has become, despite the letters they’ve written back and forth to each other. But Joel is stronger and more resilient than he looks, and it’s time he convinces Amber of this fact, before he runs out of chances with her for good.
Find out more about THE PACKING HOUSE on Amazon, Goodreads G. Donald Cribbs has written and published poetry and short stories since high school. Donald is a graduate of Messiah College in English and Education, and is currently a graduate student in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. He and his wife and four boys reside in central Pennsylvania where the author is hard at work on his next book, tentatively titled, UNPACKING THE PAST, the sequel to his debut novel, THE PACKING HOUSE (2016), by Booktrope Editions. Having lived and traveled abroad in England, France, Belgium, Germany, China and Thailand (you can guess where he lived and where he visited), the author loves languages and how they connect us all. Coffee and Nutella are a close second. Find out more on G. Donald Cribbs: on Amazon, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter and www.gdonaldcribbs.com
At the bell, I head to study hall, my last class. There's a substitute today. Cell phones come out. Someone has their iPod up way too high. In a way, I feel sorry for the sub; as a job, it has to be right up there with garbage collector. I prop a book between me and my backpack then close my eyes, which have been slamming shut all day.
The next thing I know, the substitute is standing over me, his hand on my shoulder, shaking me awake. Someone sniggers nearby.
“Wake up, young man. There's no sleeping in study hall.”
Pushing my glasses back into place, I look up and try to get my eyes to adjust and stay open; I blink a few times and look around wildly. What an idiot. I even forgot where I was for a moment. A flush of warmth starts at my ears and neck before sliding across my cheeks.
“All right, I'm up.”
Whispers erupt in various places around me as I sit up and rub my eyes. Someone laughs. My desk is askew. Something smells bad. Sulfur. Odd… the realization hits me hard.
A female voice remarks, “If I were him, I'd be totally embarrassed!”
“What's your name?” the substitute asks quietly.
The substitute leans down. “Joel? You might want to speak with a counselor about those dreams.”
“What do you mean?”
He leans closer, lowers his voice. “You kept saying, ‘get off me, stop touching me, get off me,' over and over.”
He gives me what he must think is a reassuring smile. Then he leaves.
The only thing worse than getting caught asleep in study hall: getting caught asleep andcrying out from a bad dream in study hall.
There's more whispering, but this time it crackles nearby. A recording—presumably of me—replays the sound of me jerking around in my chair, desk legs scraping against the floor, then “Get OFF me!” and “Stop TOUCHING meeee!”
The bell rings.
Down the hallway, students gather in odd clumps, skittering away from me like I'm the monster. A cacophony of whispers follows a chorus of aborted cackles; I hear my voice playing over and over, like my life jammed on repeat. I'm too stunned to reply, even when Shampoo Girl, who rides my bus, tries to stop me. I'm not good with names. We move too much for them to matter. This girl is heavyset, plain, with nice hair. I like how it smells if I sit behind her on the bus. Shampoo Girl. She's one of the few I've caught glaring at my attackers when I'm dropped into the lunchroom trashcan or tripped with an armful of books between classes. She hasn't said anything to my attackers, like that punk from Algebra II, but her quiet defiance is at least reassuring. Not that I've thanked her or acknowledged her for that.
“Joel? Joel, are you okay?” I definitely don't deserve her sympathy; instead, I look back down the hall.
My own brother Jonathan is with his swim team posse and says, “I can't believe you dudes got this,” before he sees me.
“Izzat rilly yer bro, man?” asks a blond-haired skater-punk friend of Jonathan's, pointing at his cellphone. They must be watching the video of me from study hall just like everyone else. Man, that traveled fast. On the far end, cackling like a fiend, my brother Jonathan laughs at his best friend Elias’ reaction, who is doubled over and turning purple. Skaterdude is on this end, sputtering and waving his arms like he’s imitating me from the video. Between the other two is Elias. God, I hate him sometimes. Why does he stick his nose where it doesn't belong?
“You still owe me a fiver for the Terror Bet,” Jonathan says, slapping the back of his hand on Skaterdude's chest. He should've kept our energy drink bet private, between the two of us, but instead I imagine he thought he'd impress his posse and make a few bucks. So he bet off me, did he? Jonathan looks up and sees me staring right at him. He tosses up two fingers after bouncing them off his chest like a salute to his homies, although I'm clearly not one of them. I'm just his loser brother.
It doesn't matter.
He's right. Jonathan must think of me as another one of his casualties just like him. I'm a cast-off, like Terror Man, my mother's latest boyfriend. To Jonathan, Terror Man and I are just accessories on his social status climb. Even after our most recent beating for touching the shrine of Terrors, Jonathan dared me to try to steal one without getting caught. I thought he was just looking out for me since I haven’t been sleeping much, but I guess I was wrong. If I can't tell the difference between someone being nice or using me, I wonder how I will ever fix things with Amber Walker, the only girl I've ever wished was more than friends.
No turning back now. My social life is officially over. I wonder how long it will take until everyone hears, and probably sees, a cell phone clip of my nightmare.
Only I can't wake up from this one.
I don't plan to collapse on my frameless mattress late that night. By the time I'm fully out.., I'm already drifting down a vaguely familiar set of stone stairs, before I realize the déjà vu—at first a cold tingle then a white-hot shudder that seeps down my spine. As it dissipates, I continue down, despite the thrumming in my ears.
Firelight dapples across shadowed walls near the bottom. Cold air gusts past, chills me until my teeth rattle, and almost blows out the torches. The room opens to the right, but I can't see around the corner.
As I step into the guttering light, I'm knocked on my face so fast I barely get my hands out to break my fall. I gasp for breath beneath this tremendous weight. There's no getting away. Sharp pain bursts along my ribs.
From its grip, I get a twinge in my spine, sharp stings that shoot up my back and spread out across both shoulder blades. Whatever is behind me is huge. Its hulking mass presses me down into the ground. I sure as hell don't dare move.
“C'mere, Joel!” the deep voice snarls against my ear.
I wake up.
Sometimes I wake screaming. How does it know my name? My mother has found me a few times that way; about as comforting as getting caught jerking off under blankets.
When she finds me like that, I roll toward the wall and mumble about a bad dream. I'll be fine. Go back to bed. Please don't ask any more. I'll never live this down if my mother holds my hand and chases away some boogeyman. I've got to figure this out. Better to man-up than be labeled a loser. At least Jonathan's still asleep. I don't need him betraying me any further.
If I could, I'd squeeze my eyes shut and will myself back to sleep. What if that thing is there? The stone stairs. The horrible, personal things it says. The sweat-rot stench of sulfur. I'd rather stare at the blurry ceiling all night. Besides, questions begin to swirl, threatening to keep me awake indefinitely. There's at least three hours until it's time to get up for school. I might have a test. Better not think too much.
Next thing I know, it's light; the roof of my mouth is sandpapery, I've got rank morning breath, and, if I don't get to the bathroom right now, I'm going to have a waterbed for sure.
I have to limp my way there, momentarily forgetting about our lecture at the hands of Terror Man last night. I don’t like him. He’s always in our faces. Always trying to prove what a man he is when he slams us against the wall or some shit.
He’s nice enough when he’s not railing on Jonathan and me for drinking his Terrors.
As I find relief in the bathroom, I start to wonder about this latest nightmare. Then I grab a shower, wincing when the tender spots in my back come under the flow. Maybe I should've let Jonathan take the brunt of it all, since he made the bet, but I couldn't live with myself if I hadn't intervened. I thought he was gonna kill Jonathan this time. What a nightmare. Which reminds me: I've got too many memory gaps to make sense of it all. I need to figure out their source. The root cause.
It's not for lack of trying.
I've scoured every book on nightmares I can find. One said the mind is a strange muscle that remembers every ache. Nightmares are a way we revisit each painful experience, circling back to make sense of what happened. That still doesn't explain how the creature knows me well enough to snarl my name. Is it someone I know? I glance at the clock. No time to dwell; the bus'll be here any minute. Time to get dressed and head downstairs.
My mother is at work, and Jonathan went in on the early bus for swim team. I grab breakfast and ibuprofen and then head for the street corner. My hand lands on the last two cans in my backpack. I'd forgotten all about the Terrors. Jonathan. I'd toss them back in the fridge if I weren't already at the bus stop.
Might as well. Chugging the first one down, I collect weird looks as I let the burp rip. Jonathan still got pretty roughed up; after all, he dared swipe from the shrine of Terrors on the top shelf of the fridge. Terror Man left no visible marks on me, only bruises, but I doubt Jonathan made it out unscathed. I wonder what Coach said to him this morning.
Was Jonathan trying to set me up? Guarantee a win for his second round of Terror Bets, so he could up the ante? It's never enough with him. Jonathan can't seem to leave well enough alone. Like he has to poke the bear or something. Everyone knows you let a sleeping bear lie. Not him.
The last stragglers come out as the bus pulls up. I'm the new guy. Technically, it's Redhead-Dude-With-Braces-And-Acne's stop.
I must space out the whole ride to school because it feels like only moments later when the bus pulls into the drop-off circle by the Broad Run High School, Home of the Panthers sign. Cheerleaders brush past in uniform, and the football team is sporting jersey hard-ons, strutting as we all press toward the door.
School's a bust. I doze through most of my classes, but at least I overhear that the history test has been moved to next week. Now I just have to make it through English class (easy for me), study hall, and I'm out.
We're reading this book Fahrenheit 451, where Guy Montag is an anti-fireman who burns books for a living. If I could talk some sense into him, maybe he'd lay off the bonfires and help me sort through all the bizarre shit in my brain. Yeah, it's a crazy thought, just like the ones about Amber.
I get flustered when I think of her.
Maybe Montag and I aren't as different from each other as I first thought. We both have problems we're running from. Beatty hunts him down when they catch Montag hoarding books in his air vent. I knew he was a reader. His own wife turns him in. Betrayed by someone that close.Man.
That's what set him off running.
My English teacher makes us write on the salamander or fire lizard. Is it a tattoo or just a uniform logo? I consider writing a story or a poem. According to legend, they're not lizards, which are reptiles. Salamanders are amphibians and have an affinity for fire. They can also regenerate lost limbs and tails. Remind me of an Escher tessellation. Patterns that transform from one thing to another. I should go for extra credit.
Speaking of extra credit, my grades have been nothing but toilet water, they're so flushed. Up until now, I've held tight at honor roll. But, just like that time in the closet with Amber, it, too, was a test I knew I was doomed to fail. Now I can't shake these nightmares. Neither could Montag.
If I don't do something soon, I'll have to repeat my sophomore year. Then I'd be in the same grade as Jonathan. That's reason enough to invoke my previous plan.
Before you go, check out this great a Rafflecopter giveaway- get one of 5 amazing paperbacks referenced in THE PACKING HOUSE: The Packing House (Fahrenheit 451, The Chocolate War, The Outsiders, Catcher in the Rye and To Kill A Mockingbird.)
*Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.
I am a romantic. I love the happily ever after of fairy tales. I want the girl to get the guy or vice versa, and I love reading about a good love story, but there’s way too much of it. I don’t mean that there are too many romance novels. I have no beef with that. I don’t even mind that so many of the YA novels being published are romances. What bothers me is that someone seems to have gotten the idea that all YA has to have at minimum a romance, and often a love triangle.
I confess that I am a long time past my teen years, but I refuse to believe that all teen novels must have a romance. When it’s well-written, regardless of the genre it works. The romance fits seamlessly into the story and it works. On the other hand, when the romance is inserted into the book for no reason other than that someone believes it should be there, it feels forced and out of place, and then it pretty much ruins the book for me. In a Huffington Post article called Lovesick and Tired: Unnecessary Romance in YA, Elizabeth Vail suggests that while there is nothing wrong with a good romance, if it’s unnecessary to the plot, don’t include it. If the romance doesn’t fit, readers will be able to tell, and it takes away from the book.
While fiction is to some extent a heightened and exaggerated version of reality, many of these romances go beyond exaggerated to ridiculous. In the Sci-Fi novel I’m reading right now, the heroine is smart, capable, a little bit arrogant, and pretty kick-butt. She makes money by retrieving teens from a virtual reality world if they’ve exceeded their permitted time in the game. In the virtual world, she can outfit herself with whatever kinds of weapons she needs, and she knows how to use them. At the start of the novel, she is contracted by the game’s creator to retrieve his son who is seemingly attempting to remain permanently in the game. They’ve never met. They don’t know anything about one another, and within 24 hours, she’s “seriously making out with him” as she puts it. The book is pretty exciting on its own. The virtual reality world is rich and complex. There is action and danger and tons of suspense to keep me turning the pages, which makes me wonder- why did they hook up? They are in a life-or-death situation. They are trapped in the virtual reality world where somebody or something might be trying to kill their real world selves, and yet they have time to take walks on the virtual beach and fall in love? Despite what we think, teens don’t automatically buy into the “insta-love” trope that has become all too common. Love at first sight is a wonderful and romantic idea, and it’s a device that can make a good romance novel seem even more romantic. But when the world is being taken over by aliens, or you’re in a life-or-death battle against rogue robots for example, how does that insta-love fit?
Perhaps even more overdone than insta-love are love triangles. I know that it’s fun to imagine two different guys fighting over you, and that it’s possible to legitimately have feelings for more than one guy at the same time. In Kiera Kass’ Selection series, the triangle made sense. America already had a guy that she felt something for before she entered the Selection. As she got to know the prince, she developed feelings for him too, but that didn’t mean she automatically stopped feeling something for her childhood love Aspen. Both characters were well-developed and interesting, and it wasn’t a given who she would choose.
On the other hand, in Zodiac by Romina Russell, the love triangle drove me nuts. The world she created was interesting, the story was solid and exciting, and I liked the main character Rhoma. As with the previous Sci-Fi I mentioned, the triangle just didn’t make sense. Rhoma’s world has been destroyed. The rest of the world is under threat, and Rhoma seems to be the only one who can save the entire universe from destruction. It would seem like she has more pressing problems than trying to figure out how to juggle two different guys.
in her article, Elizabeth Vail says that authors shouldn’t write multi-genre novels if they only respect one of the genres, and I highly agree. To quote Gloria Steinem, “If the shoe doesn’t fit, must we change the foot?” In other words, you shouldn’t try to force a romance into a story where it doesn’t fit. Accept that it doesn’t fit into that particular story and work with what does. There will always be another foot for that shoe.
The holidays are over and with a combination of sadness and relief, our thoughts are now turning to the winter months. This can bring about a feeling of excitement for many parents, or a robust feeling of dread! As the temps dip and the days get shorter , families tend to move from an outdoor focus to more of an indoor one. The result is a LOT of “togetherness” and a LOT of time to fray mom and dad’s nerves!
But, no matter where you live,the colder seasons are perfect for reading old classic books and enjoying new ones. As much as we love reading at Jump Into a Book, we are also always looking for ways to turn reading from a solitary act to one the whole family can get involved in.
If you follow JIAB, you’ve heard me speak of the act of “bookjumping” often. Bookjumping is about pulling books off shelves and stories off of pages. Basically, bookjumping is a “Valarie-ism” that describes creating book extensions for virtually any children’s story as a way to bring the story to life, make reading more fun, teach new skills and bring families together.
So as the frost begins to form gorgeous patterns on the window of my study, and the fluffy whiteness of winter begins to flitter down from the sky, I think it’s time to share some Cold Weather Activities Wrapped Around Reading.
Get into the Kitchen:
Bread baking has always been a favorite in our family and the comfort and warmth of smelling bread baking in the oven is hard to beat. Recently we dusted off the rolling pin and whipped up a batch of Saffron Buns/Lussekattor (pronounced “Lucy cat-tor”) in honor of my Swedish heritage and the Swedish Christmas books that are family favorites.
Before that, reading Roald Dahl books inspired us to make some Fizzy Lifting Drinks and Wonkalicious Chocolate Covered Pretzels!
Mama Panya’s Pancakes makes for a fantastic read aloud. The text is written in little boxes making it easy for young readers to follow along or take a turn reading out loud themselves. Make a batch of Mama Panya’s Pancakes
Booklists, Book-Jumps and Activities “Books Like Percy Jackson” Booklist. Like I mentioned in my recent Janet Allison Boys Alive interview, the Percy Jackson series is God’s gift to all parents who have boy reluctant readers. If this series strikes a cord with your reluctant reader, check into some of these other “Percy-like” books series!
My good friend Marilyn Scott-Waters has some simply delightful paper toys to help readers create their own Horse adventure around their favorite horse-themed books. What better way to stimulate young minds than with some pretend play. Marilyn has some wonderful downloadable paper toys on The Toymaker and a few suggestions to create your own stable of pretty ponies:
How about some paper crafts in step with the winter season? Paper craft lovers will love this TheStory of Snowby Mark Cassinocelebrates the magic of snow through science, math, language arts, music, and visual art activities. The Story of Snow uses a brilliant balance of incorporating photographs of crystals, pen & ink drawings, text for 3 different reading levels, and uncovering the mystery of snow. It serves equally as both a fascinating non-fiction journey and an inspiring nature art book. For those who love snow, The Story of Snow opens the door of awe and wonder of the magnificent wet stuff and takes us on a personal journey.
Learn About our History: Despite what some young readers might think, history is not dry and boring. Family-friendly reenactments of moments in our history make for excellent learning experiences while keeping the cold weather boredom monster at bay. Great JIAB posts that are rich in history would include this one about the Good Ol US of A, life during the “buffalo days” , celebrating our 4th of July traditions, and exploring the lives of inspiring people like Helen Keller.
Play with Nature: Even when the weather is cold, nature still can be a great teacher. Reading books based on nature helps to bring the outside IN and keep young mind stimulated. No matter what time of year it is, there are always stars in the sky. Practice learning and studying the night’s sky or bring the outside in with some fun fort building activities.
Engage in some Pretend Play:
Books and pretend play seem to go hand-in-hand for readers of all ages. Who wouldn’t want to read a few pirate books and then spend the day delving into all sort of pirate activities?!
To the Moon! The anniversary of the first Moon-Walk doesn’t occur until July, but that’s no reason to not have your young readers “blast off” with The Moon Landing Book List and some great book extensions!
Kids and mysteries go hand-in-hand and what better way to pass the time on a dreary day than with your home-grown version of a “whodunit!” Lucky for parents, there are so many wonderful kidlit mystery books out there. Discover the mysteries of Camp Green Lake in the book Holes, enjoy some intrigued from The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and delve into some super sleuthing of K.C. Corcoran and her pal, Marshall Li in Ron Roy’s Capital Mystery series.
**Some of these links are affiliate links. That means if you click and buy, I may get a very small commission. This money goes towards postage and supplies to keep books and ideas in the hands of young readers!
Would you like to create a afternoon of sleuthing, mysteries and mysterious adventures? Grab a copy of our FREE Secret Codes, Mysteries and Adventure downloadable PDF Activity Guide! This guide is19 pages of fun including activities like Creating and Deciphering Invisible Messages, baking “I Spy” Cookies and learn more about the US President who was a master decoder! Click the image below to get your free copy!
Multicultural Children’s Book Day Classroom Reading Challenge-
Get a FREE Diversity Book for Your Classroom Library!
Teachers! We want to help you build your classroom library with diverse, inclusive and multicultural books! Here’s how to get a free book through Multicultural Children’s Book Day on January 27th.
LATEST EXCITING UPDATE! Junior Library Guild has agreed to sponsor this portion of the MCCBD 2016 event and donate up to 200 books for classrooms and teachers!
Go HERE for more details or to sign up your classroom and earn a FREE handcover multicultural children’s book!
I'm so happy to welcome back Carissa Ann Lynch, my fellow Limitless Publishing author, to share her newest book, Carnival of Dead Girls. But first, let me remind you about (or introduce you to) the first two books in the Flocksdale Files.
Wendi Wise is a troubled young woman who snorts her breakfast through a straw and spends more time in rehab than in the real world…
Her life is seemingly out of control.
But now she has a plan.
That plan involves a sharp set of butcher knives.
She's going back to where all of her troubles began…
Wendi was lured away from a local skating rink, at the age of thirteen, and held captive in a place she calls 'The House of Horrors.' Dumped off blindfolded on the side of a dirt road, Wendi soon discovered that she was addicted to the drugs they fed her while she was captive.
Too scared to go home, and having a new habit to deal with, she hopped on a bus, vanishing from the family she loved.
Vanishing from Flocksdale…
The town of Flocksdale is littered with fliers with a grainy image of young Wendi, and the words 'Have You Seen This Girl?' written below.
Now, eight years later, she's on a mission—a mission to find the mysterious house from her youth and the monsters who dwell inside it.
Seventeen year old Marianna Bertagnoli is miserable…
Not only did her father abandon her five years ago, now she’s being uprooted and forced to move with her mother and new stepdad to a creepy Victorian house they inherited in the even creepier town of Flocksdale.
Flocksdale has an evil, ugly past—and history has a way of repeating itself…
Marianna notices some strange qualities about her new home, and soon realizes she’s living in none other than the infamous House of Horrors. That’s right, the very house where the demented Garrett family ran a drug ring, leading to the kidnappings and murders of forty young girls.
The dark energy of the town begins to rise again…
Within a week of moving in, Marianna’s mother disappears, one of her small group of new friends is found murdered, and she’s attacked by a man wearing a hideous clown mask. As she searches for answers, Marianna wonders if the malevolence still lingers, somehow alive…and how her stepdad came to own the House of Horrors.
Unsure who to trust, Marianna turns to Wendi Wise, a survivor of the Garretts’ crimes…
Caught up in twisted family ties and surrounded by deceit, Marianna is targeted by a new generation of evil. Doubly imprisoned—in her own body and in the real house of the lost girls—Marianna needs Wendi’s help to unravel the bizarre history of Flocksdale.
But will Marianna survive long enough to bring the evil to light…or will she be trapped in the house of the lost girls forever?
Nothing interesting happens in the podunk town of Lamison Point—until a freak show rolls through…
When a traveling carnival stopsin the sleepy countryside, sixteen-year-old Josie Crowley is psyched to go with her new friend, Freya. But what started out as a fun-filled night ofgames, candied apples, and ferris wheel ridesquickly spiralsinto a gut-wrenching encounter with one of the carnival attractions.
Once the excitement is over, Lamison is missing one of its residents…
When Freya is nowhere to be found, Josiesuspects the carnival has something to do with her disappearance. Her goal to track down the elusive show leads to an alarming revelation—there is no record of it ever existing. And as she digs deeper, Josieis led to a mysterious town with a tainted past—Flocksdale.
Buried in Flocksdale’s sick, twisted history is where Josie may find the truth…
Creepy clowns, disfigured freaks, and a terrifying haunted house are the least of Josie’s problems…now she has to deal with a group of real-life monsters, otherwise known as the evil Garrett family and new, rising generation of hell-bound freaks.
If Josie is pulled into their world, she may become another member of a carnival of dead girls, where she goes in, and never comes out…
Besides my family, my greatest love in life is books. Reading them, writing them, holding them, smelling them…well, you get the idea. I've always loved to read and never considered myself a "writer" until a few years ago when I couldn't find a book to read and decided to try writing my own story. With a background in psychology, I've always been a little obsessed with the darker areas of the mind and social problems so I try to channel all of that into my writing. I'm the author of the Flocksdale Files, Grayson's Ridge, This Is Not About Love, and the upcoming Horror High series. I reside in Floyds Knobs, Indiana with my husband, children, and massive collection of books.
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I started 91 books this year and finished 89. I’m now fully in the swing of reading at least 30 minutes before bed which has been great. Last year I had a lot of random low-level health issues which complicated matters a bit but I’m still pretty happy with how the Year in Reading turned out.
average read per month: 7.47
average read per week: 1.7
number read in worst month: 5 (Apr)
number read in best month: 11 (Aug)
number unfinished: 2
percentage by male authors: 59
percentage by female authors: 41
percentage of authors of color: 3
fiction as percentage of total: 73
non-fiction as percentage of total: 27
percentage of total liked: 90
percentage of total ambivalent: 7
percentage of total disliked: 3
The biggest issue this year was that I didn’t actively prioritize reading authors of color and so I just didn’t. No good. Must do better. Did okay with non-US authors but that’s not the same. I did a lot of social justice online reading and kept a bookshelf of worthwhile articles over at This.cm but I needed to translate more of this into book length reading and I did not. Digging into the Louise Penny series upped my percentage of female authors but I still need to work on that. I read a lot of books that I really enjoyed this past year including a history of spam and a photography book about large trees. I got a lot more suggestions from reading Library Journal than usual which was good and bad. I added a few books to my Best in Show shortlist. If you’ve made a reading list for last year, I’d love to read it. Happy New Year.
I keep reading articles that say the blog is dead and then I keep reading blogs because I like them. It could be that there are only a couple of dozen of us out there all reading each others blogs and everyone else is happily hanging out on twitter, tumblr,etc. etc., but I like a blog….I like reading someone’s thoughts on a book or a movie or more and getting a little bit of insight into the life of the person writing it.
It’s a peek at other worlds (just a little peek), and it keeps me going back for more.
But the whole New Year thing makes me look at my own blog (along with every other blasted aspect of my life), and think about how it can be improved. I am sure that readers of Map of My Dead Pilots or my articles in Alaska Dispatch News come by here and are mystified by reading book reviews or family history posts, but it’s the kind of thing I’m into (along with Alaskan aviation and, because of the work in progress, mountain climbing, cosmic rays and archival research). From time to time I think that maybe I should limit the blog content more and just put up reviews or only some kind of reviews but then I see something or hear about something and want to mention it and I end up with the same all-over-the-place blogging that I’ve always done.
(Except now with more mountain climbing, cosmic rays and archival research. There’s going to be a lot more this in 2016, I promise.) (And yeah, I’m still figuring out how to explain the cosmic ray stuff.)
But one thing I do think I can do more of is not wait until I have some bigger, longer blog post to go up here and instead post those occasional interesting things I come across so that my blogging itself can be more regular (I really slacked off over the last few months), and I can ditch the habit of leaving “blog this” notes to myself all over the dining room table. (Serious 2016 Resolution: DITCH THE ENDLESS PIECES OF PAPER IN MY LIFE.)
To wit, I got some books and movies for Christmas and here are some thoughts:
1. Page One: Inside the New York Times. This is an incredibly well done documentary, a fascinating peek into newspaper journalism in general and the NY Times in particular. My husband found himself surprisingly riveted and we both left as devoted fans of David Carr (who sadly passed away this way). I already have a subscription to the NY Times for access to the archives (for the mountain book) but I also added Carr’s book to my TBR list over the next couple of months.
2. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness sounds like a straight-up paranormal thriller with some romance tossed in. It has sold a zillion copies and I wanted to read it because of the history aspects (a mysterious book is found in the modern day Bodleian Library at Oxford which sets all the action in place and brings a witch and vampire together and could mean the end of the world….). It is SO MUCH FUN! A big huge look into tons of history (Harkness is a historian) and I’ve already read book two (from the library) which sends them main characters back to Elizabethan England so it was all Kit Marlowe and Walter Raleigh and the School of Night and on and on. Talk about fun reading—I’m all over book three this week.
3. Woman in Gold is the story of the Klimt painting that the Austrian government claimed was legally willed to the state museum by the owner but her descendants successfully proved in court was actually stolen by the Nazis during WW2. Helen Mirren tears this one up – her emotions are both intense and controlled…she can make you cheer or cry just by looking at the screen. Again, though, it’s the history that blew my mind here and how it got so twisted. “We are keeping this painting for Austria,” the officials argue and their willful ignorance of how it was stolen from Austrians is infuriating. Spoiler: the good guys win.
4. Louise Penny. Read every single book by her, whether you are a mystery fan or not. She creates characters and setting like we all wish we could; I can’t get enough. (Her latest is on my nightstand right now.)
One of the things I love most about winter is SNOW and being “snowed in” seems to happen frequently (whether officially…or “by choice”). So I’ve decided to dedicate an entire week of posts to our favorite snow books and the things we can do with them. Our book choice for this wonderful week of snow is Story of the Snow Children.
I can’t think of a better way to continue our Snow Festival week than with The Story of the Snow Childrenby Sibylle von Olfers. Who couldn’t love Poppy in her little red hat going to a winter’s feast? I was trying to remember the first time I heard this story and I can’t remember. It seems like its been a constant throughout my life.
As Poppy is gazing out of the window she notices the soft gently blowing snowflakes have little faces and are actually snow children. As they dance and swirl in the garden they soon take Poppy away to the snow kingdom of the Snow Queen. There, Poppy is welcomed to the grand festival by the Queen and her princess. Amidst the sparkling snow kingdom is dancing, feasting, and exciting games. At the end of all this play, Poppy sleepily returns home to recount her tales of the snow children to her listening mother.
To grab your copy of this book, go HERE.
To set the stage for the wonderful and exciting snow festival we need to be dressed appropriately. There is nothing better than a message crown to make one feel like wintry royalty.
Something To Do: A Message Crown
An assortment of 81/2 x 10 paper
An assortment of 12 x 12 paper
White card stock or blank index cards
Glue dots or glue
Large Circle pattern
Small circle pattern
Large triangle pattern
Small triangle pattern
To make a message crown you will need the following:
1 woven heart
2 large circles
2 small circles
2 large triangles
2 small triangles
2 -12 inch paper strips, 2 inches wide
How to make the woven heart
Fold a 81/2 x 11 ½ sheet of paper in half
Place the bottom of the heart pattern on the fold
Trace pattern twice onto the paper, each one placed on the fold.
Cut the two center lines on each heart piece.
Weaving Your Heart
Weaving a heart is a little different than weaving. We aren’t going under and over but in and through. The left hand side of the heart I’ve marked ABC. The right hand side of the heart I’ve marked 123. Let’s try this step by step. Look at the photos for help.
Step 1: Place C (left side piece) inside 1 (right hand piece).
Step 2: Place 2 (right hand piece) inside C (left hand piece).
Step 3: Place C (left hand piece) inside 1 (right hand piece).
Step 4: Place 1 (right hand piece) inside B (left hand piece).
Step 5: Place B(left hand piece) inside 2 (right hand piece).
Step 6: Place 1 (right hand piece) inside B ( left hand piece).
Step 7: Place C (left side piece) inside 1 (right hand piece).
Step 8: Place 2 (right hand piece) inside C (left hand piece).
Step 9: Place C (left hand piece) inside 1 (right hand piece).
To Make the Message Crown you will Need the Following:
Two large circles
Two small circles
Two large triangles
Two small triangles
Make the Crown band
Take 2 12 x 12 inch pieces of paper. Place them wrong sides together.
Tape an inch on both the bottom left and right hand sides. This will hold your crown sides together.
Measure 2 inches from the bottom, fold, and cut along folded line. This is your crown band. Crown Assembling
Take a folded heart and turn it over. On the reverse side, place a couple of glue dots down towards the bottom of the heart. Taking your crown band with the taped sides lying horizontally, place the heart in the center of the crown band.
Take one large circle and one small circle. Place small circle on top of the large circle and fasten with a small fastener. Make two of theses. Once together turn both pieces over and place a couple of glue dots on the circle and then place one circle to the right of the heart, and the other to the left of the heart.
Take one large triangle and one small triangle. Place a small triangle on top of the large triangle. Hold them together with a small fastener. Make two of these. Turn the triangles over and place a couple of glue dots on each triangle. Place the triangles to the left of the circles.
Adjusting your crown
Place the crown on the head holding it center on the forehead. In the back of the head, grab the crown band, gathering up the excess. Fold it over and tape it to fit.
The heart on the center of the crown is actually a little basket. It’s a perfect place for friends to leave messages for each other. To make your messages take the card stock and cut it into 8 rectangles. You can also use index cards as well. Cut those into quarters. Use your pinking shears to go around the edges. Write a heartfelt message. During the snow festival go around delivering your messages to your friends.
**Some of these links are affiliate links. That means if you click and buy, I may get a very small commission. This money goes towards postage and supplies to keep books and ideas in the hands of young readers!
Kids and nature go hand-and-hand and enjoying the bounty that the great outdoors brings is not just a “summer thing.” The newest book from children’s book authors Valarie Budayr and Marilyn Scott-Waters teaches families everywhere to enjoy not only the great outdoors with month-by-month activities, but to jump deeper into the classic children’s tale, The Secret Garden! A Year in the Secret Garden is a delightful children’s book with over 120 pages, with 150 original color illustrations and 48 activities for your family and friends to enjoy, learn, discover and play with together. Grab your copy ASAP and “meet me in the garden!” More details HERE!
After an epidemic spreads through the country, Brooklyn Harper’s high school years come to an abrupt end.
Implanted in a rural camp, Brooklyn and her friends are cut off from their families and the outside world. Each day is filled with combat training to assure their safety against the crazed, belligerent, and deadly— those infected with a mysterious virus.
If the world couldn’t get any crazier, a letter ups the insanity…
After being assured day after day that the world outside their little camp had been compromised, Brooklyn’s cabin-mate, Dawson Winters, finds a letter that turns everything they’d known upside down. There is a world outside the trees that surrounds their camp, and the virus they’d all come to fear seems non-existent.
Determined to see it herself, Brooklyn plots with others to attempt an escape…
On the outside, Brooklyn finds the world is as normal as ever. But when they are attacked in the city, they dispose of their attackers far more efficiently than any normal human. Is there more to Brooklyn and her friends then just being highly trained?
As their exploration continues, the group is faced with impossible feats. Betrayal, love, death, and a powerful sense of camaraderie lead Brooklyn and her friends to fight for their life, their freedom, and most of all, each other.
Omen Operation will be available on Amazon for pre-order: 1/16/2016
It will be available for purchase through Amazon and Barnes and Noble: 1/26/2016
Taylor Brooke is the author of the upcoming sci-fi adventure trilogy The Isolation Series. She started out as a freelance makeup artist, and quickly discovered her love of elves, zombies, mermaids, kaiju, and monsters of all kinds. After receiving eight professional certifications in special effects makeup, working on countless projects, and fleshing out a multitude of fantastical creatures, she turned her imagination back to her one true love- books. Taylor has had a knack for writing since she was a little girl, and received recognition for her skills throughout grade school and junior college. When she’s not nestled in a blanket typing away on her laptop, she can be found haunting the local bookstore with a cup of steaming hot tea in her hands, scanning the shelves for new reads, or hiking one of the many mountains that surround her home of Bend Oregon.
One of the things I love most about winter is SNOW and being “snowed in” seems to happen frequently (whether officially…or “by choice”). So I’ve decided to dedicate an entire week of posts to our favorite snow books and the things we can do with them. Our book choice for this wonderful week of snow is Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin.
There once was a boy who loved snow more than anything else in the whole wide world. Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, celebrates Wilson Bentley’s lifelong love and passion of snow and the snowflake specifically.
Wilson Bentley had been fascinated by snow for as long as he could remember. Snow in Vermont is as common as dirt.
Supporting their son’s enthusiasm for snow, they saved up money and bought him a camera and microscope. To this day, the thousands of photos that Wilson Bentley took are still used in snow and crystals research studies.
Along with telling the biography of Wilson Bentley, author Jacqueline Briggs Martin has nice “how he did it” information boxes in the sidebars.
I have to mention the woodcut illustrations of Mary Azarian. I have long been a fan of her art. The wood-cuttings in Snowflake Bentley bring depth to the text and an invitation to the reader to come and know a little bit more about Wilson Bentley. Her art in Snowflake Bentley was awarded the Caldecott medal and right so. This book has sat as a favorite on the “snow book” shelf since it first came out in 1998. It’s a classic and greatly loved here. Grab your copy of Snowflake Bentley HERE.
**some of these links are affiliate links.
Something To Do
Are you ready to dive into the world of Snowflake Bentley? Let’s start with a visit to Wilson Bentley himself.
How To Take A Photo of a Snowflake
Wilson Bentley wrote about his process and shared his “how-to” in this article.
Creating our Own Snowflake Exhibit
Inspired by Wilson Bentley’s snowflake photos and slides, we decided to create our own snowflake exhibit on our windows. This is a fun arts and craft activity that gives the same feeling as Bentley’s snow slides.
What you’ll need:
Puffy Paint in a variety of colors
Photos of Wilson Bentley’s snowflake photos found on his website listed above.
Tear off a piece of waxed paper as large as your individual window pane. Choosing one color of paint , draw a snowflake design to your liking.
Taking another paint color, create another snowflake on the waxed paper. Keep doing this until your piece of waxed paper is filled with beautiful colored snowflakes.
Let it dry thoroughly.
When dry, take the entire sheet of waxed paper. Turning the snowflake painted side to the glass, just gently press it onto the glass. It will stick there and give a nice frosty, snowflake glow.
Snow Crystals is a very comprehensive website with all kinds of information on snowflakes for all ages. It includes a snowflake primer, collections of photographs, in-depth scientific information and answers to questions such as “Is it really true no two snowflakes are alike?”
Here’s a really great short video on Wilson Bentley. I find it really well done and engaging.
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