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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: reading, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 2,122
26. Don’t Tell Kids What to Read

There have been some really interesting articles on reading around the internet lately. I’ve seen one on reading ebooks, there was the one on the canon and the one about easy and difficult books. I’ve seen articles on YA books and several on books and children. The ones on books and children could be playing a match at the Australian Tennis Open for all the back and forthing. Do we crack down on kids and make them read? Do we let kids choose their own books?

Has there always been so much anxiety about children and reading? I don’t have kids so I generally don’t pay attention, but at the moment is seems to be particularly volatile. Personally, I agree with Max Ehrenfreund’s blog post at the Washington Post, If we stop telling kids what to read they might start reading again. There have been some recent surveys that suggest kids who get to pick their own reading material enjoy reading more and as a consequence, spend more time reading. Kind of a no-brainer, really. As an adult I wouldn’t want anyone telling me what to read, why do adults think kids would like it?

Now and then when I read one of those bookish memoirs of people who grew up with the gentle guidance of adults directing them toward The Iliad or Jane Eyre at the tender age of ten, I sometimes wish that had been my experience. But if I think about it longer than a few minutes and I consider what I was reading when I was ten, I’m glad I was left to my own devices.

About that time is when I began venturing out into fantasy and science fiction. I loved all things unicorn and Peter Beagle’s The Last Unicorn was totally awesome. And then I discovered science fiction with A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L’Engle and read it because it had a unicorn on the cover. But it turned out to be the third book in a series so after I read it I started at the beginning and wow science and space travel and time travel! I found these books on my own because my mom let me wander around in a bookstore and choose them for myself. Never once did my parents tell me what I could and could not read; never once did they frown at my choices and tell me I should be reading something else. They let me explore on my own and discover for myself what I liked and didn’t like to read. I got plenty of assigned reading at school, they didn’t need to give me assignments too.

My reading choices were an eclectic mix of age appropriate teenage angst novels by Judy Blume and generally adult fantasy and science fiction. Being able to choose my own books helped me develop into a self-confident reader willing to try any kind of book at least once. If my parents had ever told me I couldn’t read something because it was too easy or too hard or silly or any other way not right or good or appropriate, if they had put limits on me I suspect I would be a very different kind of reader today.

I appreciate what my parents did for me. I want kids these days to be allowed to have the same opportunity. Let them choose their own books no matter what those books might be. Let them explore and discover. It will help them love reading and it will help them be better readers because of that love.


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27. Easy or Difficult?

Did anyone catch the recent Atlantic article Readability is a Myth? It’s an interesting take on what constitutes an easy or difficult book. The author, Noah Berlatsky, suggests that difficult and easy are not good terms to describe books because, as we have all likely experienced, a book I find difficult you might have found easy and vice versa. It’s completely subjective.

Plus, these descriptions often come laden with value judgments. Literature is difficult and because it is difficult, or rather, can be, it is worth our time and effort. It’s the take your vitamins approach in disguise. The books we label easy often fall into the commercial fiction category, who could possibly find The Da Vinci Code difficult to read? Easy means fluff, means a waste of time, means if you find easy difficult then you must be braindead. I imagine we have all made value judgments about people based on our perceived difficulty of their reading material of choice.

I used to work with a woman who was one of the nicest people I have ever known. She tended to like Dan Brown sorts of books and it was so very hard to not hold that against her. It’s not that I thought she was dumb, I just couldn’t understand why she would want to spend her time reading thrillers and conspiracy theory kinds of books. She always asked me what I was reading and once, out of her mouth popped, do you ever read anything that isn’t hard? And I was so surprised because I didn’t think the books I mentioned were hard at all and I didn’t know how to respond to her question.

Recently someone asked me if I like music and if so what kind of music I liked to listen to. When I replied that I like a lot of different kinds of music but mostly rock and pop she was surprised. She thought given the kind or things I like to read that I was too highbrow for Katy Perry and she expected me to say I only listened to Mozart and Vivaldi. And then I worried all day whether people think I am a snob.

Berlatsky asks us to try and remove the value judgment from easy and difficult and try to think of them differently. He, for instance, says that Fifty Shades of Grey is one of the most difficult books he has ever read. Now we can say, yeah, that’s probably because it is such a bad book, but is that fair to all those readers who loved it? I don’t like it when someone sneers at a book I loved, I need to really work at being better about not sneering at books other people like. We all readily admit that “good” is a subjective opinion but for some reason it is harder to agree that difficult is also subjective even though we all know that it is.

Berlatsky makes a good point even though his argument is a bit weak in the end. To equate easy with bad and difficult with good is downright silly. Yet maybe because it has been so ingrained it’s hard to separate them, at least it is for me. It will take work, but it seems worthwhile to try and break it all apart.


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28. Becca’s Favorite Reads of 2014

For some unfathomable reason, my library keeps no list of the books I’ve checked out—which is really annoying when I want to reference a book in a blog post or refer a good read to someone else and I CANNOT REMEMBER THE TITLE. So I have to keep my own records. Goodreads is my preferred site for this, since my READ (past tense) list not only keeps track of the books I’ve finished, it also includes the date and my rating.

I love Goodreads. If I was Oprah, I’d give it away as one of My Favorite Things. *cue shrieking*

So now that another year has passed, I’d like to share my favorite books of 2014— ’cause when I find an excellent story, I want to give it some love. Maybe some of these will tickle your fancy. Here they are, in no particular order:

Title and Author: The Real Boy, Anne Ursu
Genre: Fantasy
Synopsis:
On an island on the edge of an immense sea there is a city, a forest, and a boy. The city is called Asteri, a perfect city that was saved by the magic woven into its walls from a devastating plague that swept through the world over a hundred years before. The forest is called the Barrow, a vast wood of ancient trees that encircles the city and feeds the earth with magic. And the boy is called Oscar, a shop boy for the most powerful magician in the Barrow. Oscar spends his days in a small room in the dark cellar of his master’s shop, grinding herbs and dreaming of the wizards who once lived on the island generations ago. Oscar’s world is small, but he likes it that way. The real world is vast, strange, and unpredictable. And Oscar does not quite fit in it.

But it’s been a long time since anyone who could call himself a wizard walked the world, and now that world is changing. Children in the city are falling ill, and something sinister lurks in the forest. Oscar has long been content to stay in his small room in the cellar, comforted in the knowledge that the magic that flows from the trees will keep his island safe. Now, even magic may not be enough to save it.

Why I Loved It: Anne Ursu is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors due to her impressive world building and her ability to turn a unique phrase. I also had no idea that this story was a fairy tale retelling until I was halfway through the book. The story is complex and engaging enough to stand on its own.

 

Title and Author: Clariel, Garth Nix
Genre: Fantasy
Synopsis:
Award-winning author Garth Nix returns to the Old Kingdom with a thrilling prequel complete with dark magic, royalty, dangerous action, a strong heroine, and flawless world-building. This epic fantasy adventure is destined to be a classic, and is perfect for fans of Game of Thrones.

Clariel is the daughter of one of the most notable families in the Old Kingdom, with blood relations to the Abhorsen and, most important, to the King. She dreams of living a simple life but discovers this is hard to achieve when a dangerous Free Magic creature is loose in the city, her parents want to marry her off to a killer, and there is a plot brewing against the old and withdrawn King Orrikan. When Clariel is drawn into the efforts to find and capture the creature, she finds hidden sorcery within herself, yet it is magic that carries great dangers. Can she rise above the temptation of power, escape the unwanted marriage, and save the King?

Why I Loved It: I’m a huge Garth Nix fan. HUGE. His Abhorsen trilogy is one that I look back on as forming my early ideas as an author. His world building is second to none. So when I heard that he’d written a prequel for this series, I was super excited and also more than a little nervous, believing it couldn’t live up to the rest of the series. Thank goodness I was wrong.

 

Title and Author: Dreams of Gods and Monsters, Laini Taylor
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Synopsis of the First Book in the Series (Daughter of Smoke and Bone):
Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages–not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When one of the strangers–beautiful, haunted Akiva–fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Why I Loved It: Angels and demons, a celestial war, an urban fantasy partially set in the fascinating Prague…what’s not to love?

 

Title and Author: If You Find Me, Emily Murdoch
Genre: Contemporary
Synopsis:
A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother has disappeared for good, and two strangers arrive. Suddenly, the girls are taken from the woods and thrust into a bright and perplexing new world of high school, clothes and boys.

Now, Carey must face the truth of why her mother abducted her ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go . . . a dark past that hides many secrets, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.

Why I Loved It: This one grabbed me with the premise: an isolated teenager raised in the woods who’s forced to assimilate into modern-day society. What kept me reading was the achingly real and empathetic main character.

 

Title and Author: The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman
Genre: Fantasy
Synopsis:
In this Newbery Medal-winning novel, Bod is an unusual boy who inhabits an unusual place—he’s the only living resident of a graveyard. Raised from infancy by the ghosts, werewolves, and other cemetery denizens, Bod has learned the antiquated customs of his guardians’ time as well as their ghostly teachings—such as the ability to Fade so mere mortals cannot see him.

Can a boy raised by ghosts face the wonders and terrors of the worlds of both the living and the dead? And then there are being such as ghouls that aren’t really one thing or the other.

Why I Loved It: Um, it’s Neil Gaiman?

 

Title and Author: The Sea of Tranquility, Katja Millay
Genre: Contemporary
Synopsis:
I live in a world without magic or miracles. A place where there are no clairvoyants or shapeshifters, no angels or superhuman boys to save you. A place where people die and music disintegrates and things suck. I am pressed so hard against the earth by the weight of reality that some days I wonder how I am still able to lift my feet to walk. 

Two and a half years after an unspeakable tragedy left her a shadow of the girl she once was, Nastya Kashnikov moves to a new town determined to keep her dark past hidden and hold everyone at a distance. But her plans only last so long before she finds herself inexplicably drawn to the one person as isolated as herself: Josh Bennett.

Josh’s story is no secret. Every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. When your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space. Everyone except Nastya who won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But as the undeniable pull between them intensifies, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding—or if he even wants to.

The Sea of Tranquility is a rich, intense, and brilliantly imagined story about a lonely boy, an emotionally fragile girl, and the mira­cle of second chances.

Why I Loved It: The main character was utterly unique and intensely flawed. And what started as a possible love triangle turned into something unpredictable, which was a refreshing change. Also, it has possibly the BEST ENDING LINE OF A NOVEL EVER.

So those are my top picks for 2014. What about you? Care to share which books you loved and why?

The post Becca’s Favorite Reads of 2014 appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS™.

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29. Because Waiting Is So Boring

Parallelogram 4

I know I said Parallelogram 4 (Beyond the Parallel) wasn’t coming out until next Tuesday, January 20.

Weekends are for reading. It’s out now. Enjoy!

Kindle
Nook
iTunes
Kobo
Smashwords
Paperback

And the prices for the first 3 installments will still stay nice and low until next week, so if you haven’t read Parallelogram 1, 2, or 3 yet, you can scoop them up at a bargain!

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30. Join the QUEST! Win the TREASURE!

URQ Poster3What do pirates, explorers and children have in common? They all love treasure hunts!
THE ULTIMATE READING QUEST will end on Monday, January 19th, at midnight. This is your last chance to explore new books and authors, and to take home free prizes and books. Plus, one lucky winner, will get a
MYSTERY BONUS TREASURE!
To enter your name for this SPECIAL TREASURE you must prove yourself worthy by collecting the 49 letters of a secret message! Just by reading this post you already have two of the letters (A and B).
wwawwb
Find the rest within the Quest, writing them down as you go. When you have all 49, unscramble them to decode the secret message. Enter the exact words of the message in the Mystery Prize Rafflecopter right here: a Rafflecopter giveawayAs you're searching for the letters, be sure to leave a comment for each and every author. Not only will you get to chat with the amazing Quest authors, but each comment will earn you extra entries in the general Quest prize giveaway that includes an astonishing 124 free prizes and gifts! a Rafflecopter giveaway
What are you waiting for? Click this button to start collecting the rest of the letters. Then return here and enter to TAKE THE TREASURE!
CLICK ON THE BUTTON TO START THE QUEST
jointhereadingquestsmall

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31. Friday Feature: 52 Likes by Medeia Sharif



After a brutal rape and near-murder, Valerie wants to get past feelings of victimhood from both the assault and her history of being bullied. She’s plagued by not knowing the identity of her rapist and by the nasty rumors in school about that night. Valerie follows clues from ghostly entities, past victims of the rapist-murderer, contacting her through a social media site—why do all of their eerie photos have 52 likes under them? Their messages are leading her to the mystery man, although he’ll put up a fight to remain hidden.

My thoughts:
After reading Vitamins and Death in one sitting, I knew Medeia could write edgy and dark YA really well, so I jumped at the chance to read 52 Likes. Once again, I couldn't put the book down. The book begins with Valerie being raped. I wasn't sure how I'd endure reading a rape scene, but it was handled really well. I felt Valerie's emotion without being overwhelmed by the horrific act. What I loved about this book was that Valerie doesn't allow herself to sit back and become the victim. She fights. Even when everyone around her is making her feel like she is the one who did something wrong, she continues to seek out her rapist and reveal his identity to everyone.

The ghosts of the rapist's victims appear to Valerie, encouraging her to fight for them, too. Valerie was supposed to die like they did, only a passerby saved her life. And that means her rapist is set on finishing what he started. The mystery behind who the rapist is and the race to reveal him and have him locked up before he gets to her again is what made me keep turning the pages. 

If you like darker YA with mystery and some ghosts thrown in, this is the perfect read. I dare you to put it down once you start reading it. ;)

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

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32. Canons and Classics and Henry James

It’s one of those posts filled with a variety of goodness — or badness depending on how you look at it. Maybe not filled, maybe only partially filled. And maybe not a lot of variety but only some. And — oh heck, you’ll see.

Under the heading of blame it on postmodernists, the internet and book bloggers, comes an essay at the Chronicle of Higher Education What We Lose if We Lose the Canon. Yes, apparently the cannons are still firing on the canon war. There is still a canon to lose according to Arthur Krystal who worries that without it our poets and novelists will have no one to test themselves against, no one to supplant, no inspiration to work out new “aesthetic or philosophical precepts.” And somehow the “dismantling of hierarchies is tantamount to an erasure of history.” I’m not quite sure how that is the case since I’m pretty sure history of any kind isn’t bound exclusively to hierarchies unless of course you mean the history of literature as written by white western men.

Everything was hunky-dory until the postmodernists committed murder:

A few decades ago the modernists themselves became precursors when a loose confederation of critics and philosophers decided that modernism consisted of work that was too oblique and too self-consciously “high art” while remaining at the same time innocent of its own socio-semiotic implications. But what made the postmodern charter different was its willingness to discard the very idea of standards. Starting from the premise that aesthetics were just another social construct rather than a product of universal principles, postmodernist thinkers succeeded in toppling hierarchies and nullifying the literary canon. Indeed, they were so good at unearthing the socioeconomic considerations behind canon formation that even unapologetic highbrows had to wonder if they hadn’t been bamboozled by Arnoldian acolytes and eloquent ideologues.

That heretofore inviolable ideal of art, as expostulated by Walter Pater and John Ruskin, by T.S. Eliot and Lionel Trilling, by the New Criticism, was shunted aside.

I dunno, I’m not an expert in postmodernist theory, but I suspect that it wasn’t standards that were tossed overboard, but the values behind those standards that were brought into question and revealed to be constructed of the subjective opinions of a few rather than the universal objective truths everyone was pretending they were.

Then — horrors! — without the canon and aesthetic standards “every reader could become a person with unimpeachable taste” as if that’s why people read in the first place. Ok, some people read certain books to prove they have good taste, but I’m pretty sure most people who love reading don’t give a fig about taste. Into this wild devil’s brew add the internet and blogs and Amazon book reviews and suddenly “every autodidact with a bad teacher [is able] to address the world.” General readers have the audacity to express their personal opinions on how they thought Fifty Shades of Grey was the best thing since sliced bread. This causes the world to tilt, the poles to flip-flop, fire to rain down from the sky because literature has become “what anyone wants it to be.”

It’s okay to read authors like P.G. Wodehouse and Raymond Chandler for a little light fun now and then, to call them Literature with a capital “L” just won’t do. And for books like George R.R. Martin’s to even be mentioned in a classroom let alone seriously discussed just reveals how low we have sunk.

As Krystal says, “Some books simply reflect a deeper understanding of the world, of history, of human relationships” than other books. To that I say yes, yes they do. And those books will continue being read even without there being a canon to shove them down a reader’s throat. If he spent any time reading book blogs at all he would know that book bloggers are really into the classics. Our definition of a classic is broader and more inclusive than his, I’m sure, but he will still find plenty of readers eagerly reading Austen, Dickens, Tolstoy, Hugo and a boatful of other superstars. That we dare read them for pleasure and share our opinion, isn’t that what readers are supposed to do?

With so many things we could be doing besides reading, it seems to me that those who are still so tied to there being a canon created by mysterious and unknown literary gatekeepers are doing literature a huge disservice. No, George R.R. Martin is not James Joyce but I can see how there is value in teaching Game of Thrones in a literature class on the genre of fantasy. I can see there is value in teaching a class on the fantasy genre. Genre is an important part of literature and literary history. If you want to talk about erasing history, let’s have a conversation about how hierarchy and the canon of dead white men erased quite a lot of literary history that we are still in the process of rediscovering.

Well okay, sorry about the soapbox rant there. Here are a couple of things to lighten the mood:

  • The American Scholar has a list of Ten Neglected Classics (via A Different Stripe). Angela Carter and Elizabeth Gaskell made the list as did several books I have never heard of before. What fun! Take that literary canon!
  • For something a little silly, at The Toast, How to Tell If You are in a Henry James Novel. I laughed out loud several times while reading the list but I think my two favorites are the first one, “You’ve done something in a piazza that renders you unfit for polite company,” and number 21, “You may be someone else who the narrator is referring to and you may also be yourself; it is impossible to say at this junture just who ‘you’ are.” Though number 18 is pretty awesome too: “If only someone would die, you’d get everything you’ve ever wanted.” Heh, if only.

That’s enough fun for one blog post, I don’t want to over do it.


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33. 7 tips to help make reading with your child this year achievable

7 tips to read more with your familyEvery time we visit the dentist, the hygienist asks how often we floss. We all know the correct and only answer is “everyday.” We squirm under the light as we try to come up with an answer that gets us as close to saying “everyday.”  We leave feeling guilty and promise this is the year to change only to find ourselves in the same spot six months later.

This uncomfortable, familiar exchange reminds me of a lot of the conversations with parents about home reading habits at parent-teacher conferences. After each assessment cycle throughout the year, I would ask parents how reading was going on at home (outside of daily homework).

They knew this conversation was coming. I knew it was coming. They knew the right answer is “everyday” and like a hygienist peering into a patient’s mouth, I had an educated guess on how often the child was actually reading at home based on progress in class.

Just 20 minutes a day! I would list the benefits and show the charts (here and here and here and here and here). I would point out that one cartoon episode is 30 minutes (24 minutes without commercials!). Parents know how important it is—no one disagrees—and we would all nod earnestly and vigorously with promises to start this very night.

Yet, it is hard. Schedules are tight and unforgiveable. Children (and parents!) are tired at the end of the day.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 8.19.41 PMLet’s face some facts:

  • Both parents and children agree strong reading skills are among the most important skills children should have.
  • Reading is one of the most popular resolutions for both parents and children.
  • Half of all New Year’s resolutions fail within six months.
  • Some parents need to expose their children to a new vegetable 10 or more times before they’ll consider trying it (point being: children aren’t always easy to work with).
  • Even adults take 66 days on average to start a new habit (and more to break an old one).

Mind-blowing insight alert: Creating new habits takes time and persistence.

How do we make daily reading with children engaging, manageable, and achievable?

1. Start with bite-size steps. You don’t have to raise your child’s literacy level, knowledge base, or vocabulary by next week. Remember the end game: To create curious, book-loving readers. Starting a reading routine at home is about creating a lifelong habit for your family and children. Aim to improve your family’s daily reading routine for just the next eight weeks (by the following parent-teacher conference in March or May), instead of this year’s resolution to be reading every day for the rest of your child’s K-12 education (a bit daunting, no?).Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 8.10.25 PM

2. Redefine what a reading routine looks like. Adjust what reading time is for your family based on your child’s age, reading level, energy level, and interest:

  • You read the story to your child
  • You alternate reading together by page, chapter, or day
  • Your child reads to you and a younger sibling
  • You download the audio book version and follow along in the book together
  • You both read with your own copy silently side by side for the 20 minutes and discuss afterward

As Tim Gunn says, “Make it work.”

554025_10152550256275332_1563208014_n3. Make reading “spill over.” Choose a book with an additional tie-in to other parts of the day and your family’s interests:

  • If there is a new movie or community theater’s play coming out based on a book, read the book first and then reward yourselves with the movie or play.
  • Pick a fairy tale to read and find additional versions in both book and movie form to compare. Hello, Cinderella!
  • Follow up with a readers’ theater script to pair with the story. I can’t get enough of the readers’ theater scripts from California Young Reader Medal.
  • If the book includes a craft, science experiment, or recipe at the end, read the story and then extend the learning into the garage or kitchen. This is great for whole family participation.
  • Pair a current event or news article with a book on the same topic, culture, or time period.

4. Only pick books and formats your child loves or is interested in. Reading at home should not be boring, a chore, a punishment, or part of homework. Don’t pick books assigned in class, books that peers all seem to be reading, or books you think your child should be reading. This is about enjoyment, building interest, and creating memories. With this in mind, books come in all types/reading comes in all forms:

  • Toy instruction manuals or activity/craft books
  • Cookbooks—recipes are great for re-reading!
  • Poetry collections
  • E-readers (Note: Just be sure to pick a program that presents the story to the child as a book, not just as a cartoon where the music and animation effects can distract from the words and vocabulary.)
  • Graphic novels and comic books—read about how Lee & Low publisher, Jason Low, became an avid reader after getting hooked on his first comics!

Better yet—let your child choose for maximum engagement.

5. Don’t cry over skipped reading. For whatever reason, reading time just didn’t happen one night. Whoops! Just read the next day and perhaps add a few minutes on extra. Any time is better than none at all. Remember you are trying to show that we read for enjoyment, not punishment. Every day you read with your child is a win—one skipped day doesn’t undo all the progress you have made together.

6. Do over think it—please! If you are finding it difficult to stick with reading 20 minutes a day with your child, think about where the obstacle is. Are nights too busy? Do transit or errands take time away from family downtime? Do you get home too late? Reading at breakfast or on the bus/subway, engaging grandparents and older siblings, trying 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes at night may help your family stick with the reading routine.Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 8.19.07 PM

7. Join a community. You are not the first or last parent to a) struggle to inspire your child to read b) find time to read or c) make reading time exciting. There are wonderful experts with research, reading tips, and inspiration available. Some of my favorite parent reading newsletters are National Center for Families Learning, ¡Colorín Colorado!, Reading Rockets, and Zoobean.

The Number One Most Important Thing:

Every time you read with your child is a win. Every time you skip is a lost opportunity, but it won’t doom your child. Remember the end goal: To support our children’s lifelong love of reading (increased knowledge/vocabulary will be a bonus). Keep at it.

Here’s to a great year of reading and growing! 

img_1587Jill Eisenberg, our Senior Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

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34. Take a Journey with The Ultimate Reading Quest ~ January 5th to 19th, 2015...

jointhereadingquestsmall CLICK ON THIS BUTTON TO START YOUR QUEST!

WATCH THE VIDEO TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE READING QUEST.

Happy New Year from all the Authors in the Ultimate Reading Quest! This year myself, and all the Quest authors, want you to enjoy your reading experiences more than ever! So in 2015, the Ultimate Reading Quest has more, more, more! More authors and more books, means more mystery, more danger, more intrigue and more edge-of-your-seat adventure awaits you! We want you, our readers, to be able to fill that Kindle, tablet or E-reader you got for Christmas, with fabulous reads to take you through 2015. The Quest is so much fun! Who doesn't love searching for treasure? The ULTIMATE READING QUEST is about finding books that are “perfectly” suited to your reading taste by clicking on choices. To thank you for participating, the authors have decided to give away oodles of prizes for free! Enter your name to win Amazon cards and free books from authors! Plus a whole store of treasured books are just waiting to be discovered by you!

Enjoy your journey as you travel through the QUEST! Don't forget to enter the raffle on the first page of the Quest. And please leave comments or questions for the authors of the Quest. We would love to hear from you. What are you waiting for? Click on the button above or below to get started on your QUEST for the next ULTIMATE READ!

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35. Friday Feature: Enlighten Me



Sometimes carefully constructed lies can become the truth…

When seventeen-year-old Amanda reawakens, she is faced with the life Chloe lived for 17 years. The adjustment isn’t easy. But as she attempts to acclimate to a life that’s foreign to her, old friends become new enemies and bad habits are hard to stop. When she begins to doubt the story she’s been given to explain her travels through the multiverse, she knows she must find the answers before everyone else. Because if her weird dreams and visions are an indication of who she really was everyone might just be in danger, but not from the enemy they think.

From her.


And here's an excerpt:
A puff of cold air expelled from my slack jaw and scattered in front of my face. I spun around trying to recall when I’d opened my bedroom window.

I’m certain I hadn’t.

The room was bathed in darkness. I could scarcely make out my silhouette against the wall. Still, I slipped my feet softly to the carpeted floor. My family was sleeping, and I didn’t want to risk waking them. On tiptoes, I crept to the open window overlooking our yard. The cool whip of the March wind sliced through my skin. A shiver tore through me as the chill of the New York night tucked me inside my own personal blizzard.

I reached for the lift rail to slam the window closed when a shadow crept into view just below my second story landing. I blinked but held my eyes on the shadow. It didn’t move. But it did watch me. Partially clothed in darkness, the shadow dissolved before my eyes into a haze of gas.

I squared my jaw and took a deep breath. My mind cascaded over the many possibilities for what I’d saw. It could have just been the wind. Or someone was up downstairs and cast a long shadow from the back porch. My contemplation on the shadow was futile. It was gone, so it didn’t matter.

My life was screwed up anyway. Fighting an enemy everyone told me wanted to kill me and everyone else. But that same enemy telling me that wasn’t true and proved it by not killing me on the many occasions he could have. Traveling through multiple universes trying to find and kill said enemy because of his supposed threat. Then having a vision I killed everyone and not said enemy. But even more confusing, I knew said enemy was a threat, but I just didn’t know why.

What difference did a ghost make in the scheme of things?

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36. What will 2015 bring?

4EYESBOOKS LOGO

It’s been an exciting end to 2014 for 4eyesbooks.  We found more readers for our ebooks and paperbacks than ever before.  Our Christmas Owl was featured on Bookbub which gained us some valuable exposure and over the winter holiday break we started writing our next children’s picture book to be released sometime this spring.

We are so grateful for all of the support we have received and feel really lucky to be able to create imaginative, colorful stories for kids and parents to enjoy.  There’s nothing quite like that quality time of sitting down with a little one and a good book.  That time is precious and important.  The curiosity of a child is a wondrous gift and so often that quality gets buried as we grow older.  Adults become so busy with school, work, errands, raising a family, etc. that we often forget how to be curious.  We start to ask How? and Why? less and less.

I’m not sure what 2015 will bring to us, but we hope to create more precious moments of curiosity, of silly laughter and of quiet quality reading time with lots of new little readers.

Happy New Year!

Kids Reading

 


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37. The Undeniable Importance of Paper -- For Writers and for Readers -- Plus a Giveaway and Special Deal

A few years ago, people speculated about the death of books. Books, many said, wouldn't survive the rising popularity of e-books. Teens, the wisdom said, would adopt e-books, and within a few years, no one would read on paper anymore.

But guess what?

A recent Neilsen survey says that teens prefer "real" books.

And there appear to be concrete advantages to reading printed books. A study suggests that digital readers remember significantly less about when events occur in a plot than people reading the same story on paper, while another study showed markedly better reading comprehension for people reading a paper book.

I admit. I made the switch. There are several reasons that e-books work well for me, but they all boil down to convenience.

Here's the thing though. I also made the switch when reading manuscripts.

I read digitally when I write:

  • I type the story on my laptop. 
  • I read the story on my laptop and edit as I go. 
  • I make changes electronically, and my beta readers read digitally. 
  • And finally, before I send the book off to my editor, I make it into an e-book, and I read it in the Kindle program on my iPad.

My editor, on the other hand, prints the book out and reads on paper.

For those of you unfamiliar with the editorial process, it works something like this:

  • I submit the first(ish) draft to my editor.
  • She reads and sends me a letter about what's working and what isn't working and makes specific notes in the manuscript. She sends me the printed file via UPS.
  • I follow the document through digitally and come up with a chapter by chapter list of changes to address her concerns.
  • We discuss those changes and make sure we're on the same page.
  • I make the changes electronically and then send her the digital file.
  • She prints it out and reads it again, marking pacing and other issues in the manuscript margins and making suggestions for specific lines that need to be reworked. 
  • I go through the line edits and submit the file--digitally.
  • I send the electronic file to my beta readers and go through their suggestions--digitally.
  • I convert the book to an e-book and read it through, highlighting places I need to go back to.

And all this time, even though the book has been printed out, I don't *read* it on paper.

Then I get the copyedited manuscript. On paper. And I have to read and review it on paper.

Oy. 

There is a real difference in the way the words read and look on paper. I see things I didn't see when I was reading digitally, even when I read the book as an e-book. Even when I read passages aloud, which I also do frequently.

The moral of this story?

This is only the second book I've worked on with an editor. I'm going to get better--all of this is a learning process. I definitely have a takeaway on process for myself though. And for book three, I'm going to do things a little differently.

I'm going to print the book out for myself several times before the copyediting stage. Not sure how I'm going to work this in with the fast deadlines that we work with in publishing, but I'm going to make time, because it's worth it.

Takeaway writing tip of the day:

Read your manuscript in as many different ways as you can:

  • As a Scrivener or word processing file.
  • As a Scrivener or word processing file with the font changed. (You'd be surprised how just this small change brings things to light.)
  • As a Scrivener or word processing file that you read aloud.
  • As an electronic book.
  • As printed pages -- bound, if possible.

What about you? Do you prefer to read digitally or on paper? Does it make a difference in how you read and what you understand and remember?

THIS WEEK'S GIVEAWAY


Rebel Belle
by Rachel Hawkins
Hardcover
Putnam Juvenile
Released 4/8/2014

Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper's destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can't get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she's charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper's least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him--and discovers that David's own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.

With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y'all beg for more.

Purchase Rebel Belle at Amazon
Purchase Rebel Belle at IndieBound
View Rebel Belle on Goodreads


AND A SPECIAL DIGITAL DEAL! COMPULSION IS $1.99 at AMAZON


Compulsion
by Martina Boone
Hardcover
Simon Pulse
Released 10/28/2014

Beautiful Creatures meets The Body Finder in this spellbinding new trilogy.

Three plantations. Two wishes. One ancient curse.

All her life, Barrie Watson had been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lived with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead--a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions.

Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who knows what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family's twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead.

Purchase Compulsion at Amazon for $1.99
Purchase Compulsion at IndieBound
View Compulsion on Goodreads



a Rafflecopter giveaway

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38. Canon? Balls!


This past term, the course I taught was titled "Introduction to Literary Analysis". It's the one specific course that is required for all English majors, and it's also available as a general education credit for any other undergraduates. Its purpose is similar to that of any Introduction to Literature class, though at UNH it really has one primary purpose: help students strengthen their close reading skills with fiction, poetry, drama, and nonfiction. (We're required to include all four, though the nonfiction part can be smaller than the others.)

Next term, I'm teaching an American lit survey (1865-present) and have decided to focus it on the question of canonicity. So, for instance, we'll be using the appropriate volumes of The Norton Anthology of American Literature as a core text, but not just to read the selections; instead, we'll also be looking at the book itself as an anthology: what the editors choose to include and not, how the selections are arranged and presented, etc. We'll also be reading a few other things to mess up the students' ideas of "American" and "literature". For instance, I'm pairing The Red Badge of Courage (Norton Critical Edition) with A Princess of Mars (and Junot Díaz's excellent introduction to the Library of America edition). And then Octavia Butler's Wild Seed to make it even messier and more productive.

And so it was with special interest that I read two essays this morning in the Chronicle of Higher Education: "The New Modesty in Literary Criticism" by Jeffrey J. Williams and "What We Lose If We Lose the Canon" by Arthur Krystal. The Williams seems to me about as good an overview as you could do in a short space; the Krystal seems to have been beamed in from 1982.



The Krystal essay is not really worth reading, especially if you've ever read a "Keep Shakespeare on the syllabus, you philistines!" essay before. But let's, for the fun of shooting fish in a sardine can, respond to a few of his assertions:
Starting from the premise that aesthetics were just another social construct rather than a product of universal principles, postmodernist thinkers succeeded in toppling hierarchies and nullifying the literary canon. Indeed, they were so good at unearthing the socioeconomic considerations behind canon formation that even unapologetic highbrows had to wonder if they hadn’t been bamboozled by Arnoldian acolytes and eloquent ideologues.

That heretofore inviolable ideal of art, as expostulated by Walter Pater and John Ruskin, by T.S. Eliot and Lionel Trilling, by the New Criticism, was shunted aside; and those emblematic qualities of modernist works—obliqueness, lyricism, dissonance, ambiguity—were relegated to a hubristic past. Although many former canonical authors continue to be taught in universities, so are many popular, commercial, and genre writers. As long as a writer accumulates sufficient readers and a decent press, respect surely follows. Any reason that George R.R. Martin shouldn’t have parity with William Faulkner? Is Maya Angelou really less important than Emily Dickinson?
Oh please.

If aesthetic ideas are not social constructs, then they are some sort of natural phenomena, something somehow instinctive in the brain. Or otherwise they're the product of God's ethereal farts. Those are pretty much the options. Me, I'm sticking with social constructs, since that's easier to study, though I expect that certain elements of our brains — the elements that notice patterns — also affect how we respond to aesthetic forms and effects, and so it's probably more accurate to say that aesthetic ideas are a combination of the capacities of our perceptions plus the weight of cultural and social forces. (I'm an atheist, so the theological interpretation is not one I'm interested in, but it's certainly a venerable tradition, and we know Krystal and his ilk do love their venerable traditions, especially since there's no arguing with God. If God sez Shakespeare is great, then, by God, Shakespeare is great!)

For a far more interesting, informative, and useful discussion of canons, see Samuel Delany's Para Doxa interview in About Writing, "Inside and Outside the Canon". (And if that's not enough, see Katha Pollitt's classic essay, "Why We Read" in her book Reasonable Creatures.)

What Krystal is really writing about is pedagogy. He sees "the canon" (whatever that is) as the textbook list. His view of the purpose of literature courses is an extremely narrow one: students should study the greatest of human cultural artifacts. To be "taught in universities" therefore means to be Respected, to be The Greatest.

There may be people who use pop culture in their courses who see that material as, indeed, The Greatest. (And this is ignoring the fact that yesterday's popcult is not prevented from being today's cult, even among the cultiest of cultmeisters — to offer the most obvious, clichéd examples: Shakespeare and Dickens.) Krystal imagines a contradiction where there isn't one: "Although many former canonical authors continue to be taught in universities, so are many popular, commercial, and genre writers." The two parts of that sentence are only at odds if you think the sole legitimate purpose of university teaching is to impart knowledge of The Greatest Works of Literature to students.

And yes, at times our courses should be about the works that have been most lauded over time, and not just because it's interesting to study the history of cultural constructions. Studying complex, old lit with people who've devoted their lives to it is one of the great privileges of a good education. But it's not the only reason to study something in a class.

I'm putting A Princess of Mars alongside The Red Badge of Courage not because I think Burroughs is as great a writer as Crane. In most of the ways we speak of a writer being "great", Burroughs is really really really not. And yet there is a lot about Burroughs, and particularly his first few novels, that makes him well worth academic attention. (Junot Díaz makes the case far better than I can in his intro.) What I want my students to see through the comparison of both books is the way that considering their canonicity — Crane's within "American Literature", Burroughs's within "Popular Culture" — can tell us something about both books and about the cultural discourses that shape our perceptions and values. I'm not even entirely sure what those lessons will be, because I prefer not to be settled in all of my ideas before I begin a class, because for me a good class discussion is one that produces ideas we didn't have before that discussion.

Krystal also works from an assumption that what he feels as a deep aesthetic experience is lesser in people who read, for instance, George R.R. Martin. This is a common assumption, but it's one I've become skeptical of. I'm skeptical first because it's not something that can be proved or disproved, and so it is a self-serving opinion. If you argue that your engagement with the Twilight novels provides you with an emotionally complex and intellectually engaging experience, it is difficult for me to say that my emotionally complex and intellectually engaging experience with Anna Karenina is greater than yours. If you're out there writing Twilight fanfic, it's entirely possible that your engagement with Twilight is actually deeper than mine with Anna Karenina.

This is basic reader-response theory. The text itself doesn't matter; what matters is the effect on the reader. Arthur Krystal may find such an idea horrifying, but it's not so different from what he's claiming for the books he values — that they produce a deeper, more satisfying, more educative effect than the books he doesn't value. But that has far less to do with the book than with the reader. What he's saying is that one reader's deep, satisfying experience of a book is deeper and more satisfying than another reader's. And the first reader in this equation is him. How convenient!

Krystal writes:
I’m not suggesting that one can’t fully enjoy James Crumley, James Lee Burke, Robert Heinlein, Philip K. Dick, and Orson Scott Card, but I’m not sure one can love them in the way that one loves Shakespeare, Keats, Chekhov, and Joyce. One can be a fan of Agatha Christie, but one can’t really be a fan of George Eliot.
There's a lot wrong with that paragraph. First, Krystal's lack of reading ability with popular lit is evident in his grouping a bunch of very dissimilar writers together and his assumption that "one can love them" in a single way and that that single way is different from the single way one loves Shakespeare et al. Second, there's the idea that being a fan is somehow different from the way that one loves Shakespeare et al. The error of that sentence would be clearer if Krystal had used not Agatha Christie but rather Jane Austen, who is not only highly canonical, but whose fans are legion, including countless fanfic writers. (Fandom's attraction to Austen rather than Eliot would be an interesting study.) It's interesting, too, the way he uses emotional language: one can, he suggests, fully enjoy [popular writers], but one loves Shakespeare et al. Elsewhere in the essay he makes the argument for big ideas and human nature and yadda yadda yadda, but it seems to me that it is here that Krystal reveals what matters most to him, which is a depth of feeling, a depth of engagement with the text — the sense of having one's world and knowledge and self expand via reading.

And yes I say yes! That's what lots of us love when reading. I just don't think the text matters as much as the reader.

As someone who, indeed, loves much of Philip K. Dick (and Shakespeare, Chekhov, and Joyce. Keats not so much), I'm not sure that I, for one, do love his best work differently from that of Shakespeare et al. I feel like I love them all very specifically — that is to say, it's true that I do not love PKD in the way I love Shakespeare; but it's true that I do not love Chekhov in the way I love Shakespeare or the way I love Joyce (well, pre-Finnegans Wake Joyce. The Wake keeps defeating me). The way that I love PKD differently from the others is not, though, part of a separate category. Further, I would say I dislike Keats in a similar way that I dislike Heinlein: their words, ideas, structures, etc. do not hold my interest, and while in both cases I can in a certain intellectual way appreciate some of what they're up to, that knowledge does not convert into the affect of literary love.

I said above that Krystal's argument is a self-serving opinion. It is self-serving because he is arguing that his way of reading, his way of teaching, his way of learning, his way of valuing is The Way. If he were arguing against his own practices and prejudices, it would be much more interesting. If, for instance, he were to say, "I'm a terrible reader because I didn't get enough training in The Canon during my college years," or if he were to say, "I wish I could get some sort of emotional and intellectual experience from great literature, but I can't, and I feel that that is a personal failing, something that holds me back from a full enjoyment of life," then perhaps we could take his argument more seriously. (This is why perhaps my favorite piece of writing on The Canon is Wallace Shawn's play The Designated Mourner.)

The limitations of Krystal's view of literary study are brought into even sharper relief by reading Jeffrey J. Williams's survey of recent approaches. It's not complete by any means — it's a quick & dirty look at a few approaches, and leaves out many that are at least as popular among scholars as the ones he cites (among my compatriots, animal studies and trauma studies are the biggies). I think Williams is right that in some ways the recent approaches look back toward approaches that were common before the Age of Theory — back toward philology, toward literary history — but that's a consequence of the realization that there is no One True Way. Literary analysis is not a zero sum game. I have no animus, really, toward my friends who do animal studies and literature, or trauma theory and literature, even though these are not my ways. (I am, unsurprisingly, interested in the intersections of aesthetics and the world, in genres as sets of readerly expectations, etc.) I would never steer a student away from working with someone whose interest was in those areas. Students should experience lots of different ways of reading and lots of different ways of valuing what they read. They should take courses with curmudgeonly canon-fetishizing fuddyduddies like Arthur Krystal, just as they should take courses with pomo popcultists who "read" nothing but sitcoms.

What teaching the Intro to Lit Analysis course taught me is that students can be really smart about their own reading, but that they've also mostly been exposed only to very limited approaches in their secondary education. They cling to what they know, and what they know tends to be a very basic sort of New Criticism plus biography (anathema to the New Critics, but common to book reports, so students fall back on it). Our job, I think, is to show them how to do complex close readings, how to bring biography and history in as useful context rather than reductive readings. Exploring why "Sylvia Plath's 'Daddy' shows that she did not have a good relationship with her father" is a shallow thesis that reduces rather than expands our understanding of the poem can be mindblowing for students — and then we can talk about how knowledge of Plath's biography might be used to expand and deepen our understanding of her poetry, if that were an approach that interested us.

That, ultimately, is my test for critical approaches: Can we expand our understanding of, and our appreciation for, the text? Or are we limiting it, reducing it, simplifying it, turning it into something easily apprehended? If so, why bother?

Or, in other words: Yes, let's read Faulkner (he's my favorite American novelist; I'd never say no!). But I see nothing wrong with reading Faulkner alongside George R.R. Martin. We could learn a lot from that combination about how texts create worlds, about how separate books expand our imagining of characters, about how narrative forms develop our perceptions of characters and settings and histories. Who cares whether Faulkner is "better" than GRRM, or vice versa? (Me, I love Faulkner and find the Song of Ice and Fire books unreadable, so I'm not likely to teach such a course or write such a paper, but I'd love somebody else to do it!) What do such hierarchies get us? Literature isn't football, and we don't need fantasy leagues. We don't need lists of texts; we need to encourage varied ways of reading, and that includes reading against your own prejudices, your own knowledge, your own limitations. I am skeptical of students who don't want to read anything published before they were born, because they are limiting themselves just as Arthur Krystal is limiting himself by sticking to the canon of old white guys. If you've never worked hard to learn to appreciate an 18th Century British novel, you are a limited reader — but you are also a limited reader if you've never worked hard to appreciate a popular contemporary novel or two. This is one reason why I love David Foster Wallace's syllabus for a literary analysis class, where the texts included Jackie Collins’s Rock Star, Stephen King’s Carrie, Thomas Harris’s The Silence of the Lambs, and James Elroy’s The Big Nowhere, and he warned the students:
Don’t let any potential lightweightish-looking qualities of the texts delude you into thinking that this will be a blow-off-type class. These “popular” texts will end up being harder than more conventionally “literary” works to unpack and read critically.
Arthur Krystal must fear getting an aneurysm when he looks at that syllabus, but if he were honest he'd admit that his grumpiness may be because that syllabus shows he's less of a reader than someone like DFW, someone deeply familiar with The Canon but not limited to it. Krystal should try to learn to read Philip K. Dick or one of the other writers he disparages — learn to read them in a thoughtful, appreciative way, not a dismissive one. He might actually learn something.

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39. Monday Mishmash 1/5/15


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:
  1. Editing:  I'm booked for the month of January, which is great. Now I just need more time in my day to work on my own writing projects. ;)
  2. Construction:  We are getting so close! Unfortunately, this weekend set us back a bit when a few things had to be redone. *sigh* But we are making forward process again now.
  3. Secret Projects in the Works:  I have a few things in the works that I can't share just yet. I'm hoping to be able to reveal them by the end of the month.
  4. My Office:  My office is about 99% complete, but it's missing the most important things of all—framed posters of my books. Once I get those up, I'll share pictures with you.
  5. "Best" Lists of 2014:  I'm excited to say that The Monster Within, Campus Crush (Ashelyn Drake title), and Into the Fire (Ashelyn Drake title) all made several "Best of 2014" lists! That makes me so happy!
  6. Kelly's Coven:  I'm putting out an invite to my street team, Kelly's Coven. We have a FB page where we interact, and this month I have a mega giveaway going on. If you'd like to help me promote my books and get exclusive access to content, first peeks at covers and news, and exclusive giveaways, you can join here. (Or let me know you'd like to join and I can give you access to the group.) I'd love to have you. :)
  7. Cover Reveal for 52 Likes by Medeia Sharif 
  8. Evernight Teen, January 16, 2015

    After a brutal rape and near-murder, Valerie wants to get past feelings of victimhood from both the assault and her history of being bullied. She’s plagued by not knowing the identity of her rapist and by the nasty rumors in school about that night. Valerie follows clues from ghostly entities, past victims of the rapist-murderer, contacting her through a social media site—why do all of their eerie photos have 52 likes under them? Their messages are leading her to the mystery man, although he’ll put up a fight to remain hidden.

    Find Medeia – YA and MG Author

    Blog   |   Twitter   |   Goodreads   |   Instagram   |   Amazon

  9. Cover Reveal for The Milayna Series by Michelle Pickett  You've seen the cover for Milayna, book one in the Milayna Trilogy, and now the remaining covers in The Milayna Series are revealed!
  10. Book one, Milayna, is scheduled to release March 17, 2015. Book two, Milayna's Angel, and book three, The Innocent, are both scheduled for release in 2015. And for a limited time, you can pre-order Milayna (Book #1) for $2 off the purchase price! It's available for pre-order at only $2.99, but only for a limited time.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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40. Friday Feature: Star of the Team



A girl.
A dream.
An accident.
A dream shattered.
 
Eleven-year-old Kate Taylor dreams of being the star of her basketball team, Angels. When Kate’s tooth is knocked out at one of the games and her mother, who is also her coach, says she can’t play until the tooth the dentist replants heals, Kate’s dreams are in jeopardy. Add Emily, the new girl at school who claims she’s the best, and Kate faces a challenge to prove that she is the star.
 
Will Kate succeed? Or will Emily ruin Kate’s plans?
 

 
Barnes and Noble: http://tinyurl.com/18r6ox4
 
Bev’s Bio:
 
Most of the time, you’ll find Beverly in front of her computer, writing the stories little voices whisper in her ear. When she’s not writing, she takes long walks and snaps pictures of clouds, wild flowers, birds and deer. To some of her friends, she is affectionately known as the “Bug Lady” because she rescues butterflies, moths, walking sticks, and praying mantis from her cats.
For twenty-two years Beverly taught children in grades two through five how to read and write. They taught her patience. Now, she teaches a women’s Sunday school class at her church. To relax she plays the piano. Her cats don’t appreciate good music and run and hide when she tickles the ivories.
 

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

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41. Parallelogram 4 Now Available for Pre-Order!

Parallelogram 4

Happy 2015! And here’s a new book for you!

Parallel universes. Time travel. And a race for teen amateur physicist Audie Masters to save her own life before it’s too late.

Enjoy the exciting, mind-bending conclusion to the PARALLELOGRAM series.

You’ll never look at your own life the same way again.

I am BEYOND ecstatic to be able to tell you that PARALLELOGRAM (Book 4: BEYOND THE PARALLEL) will be coming out January 20, 2015, and is available right now for pre-order! Yes! Finally!

This final book in the series took me a long, long time to write (as those of you who have been waiting for it can attest), but you’ll understand why once you read it. It’s full of adventure, mystery, love, some very cool science, and the return of what I hope are some of your favorite characters.

In celebration of the final book coming out, each of the first three books in the series will be a mere $2.99, and the new book will be only $4.99–but only until January 20. After that, all of them return to their regular prices.

So if you haven’t read the first three books in the series yet, now’s your chance. I’m your book nerd friend who’s saying, “Come on! Come on! Catch up so we can discuss it!”

Can’t wait to hear what you all think. I truly wrote this series for YOU!

You can pre-order Book 4 from:
Kindle
Nook
iTunes
Kobo

Thanks for being my readers! Hope you love the book!

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42. Snow Festival Day 3: Story of the Snow Children

snow children

I can’t think of a better way to continue our Snow Festival week than with The Story of the Snow Children by 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.

snow children

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.

snowchildren

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

Snow festival

Message Crown A

Materials:

An assortment of 81/2 x 10 paper
An assortment of 12 x 12 paper
White card stock or blank index cards
Scissors
Picking shears
Small fasteners
Glue dots or glue
Tape
Heart Pattern
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).

heart weaving step 1
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).

heart weaving step 2
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).

heart weaving step 3
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.

crown band fitting
Messages

Message crown messages
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.

DON’T FORGET! There’s only a few days left of the Audrey Press Holiday Book Sale! (ends 12/31/14)

Year in the Secret Garden

 

A Year in the Secret Garden (inspired by the classic children’s book Secret Garden) is on a wonderful sale until December 31st. Books always make an excellent gift for anyone in your life and it’s not too late to get your copy of A Year in the Secret Garden book for the special holiday price of $15.00 (ends December 31st) if you use the secret code word secret garden at checkout.

This guide uses over two hundred full color illustrations and photos to bring the magical story to life, with fascinating historical information, monthly gardening activities, easy-to-make recipes, and step-by-step crafts, designed to enchant readers of all ages. There’s also a link to a free download website for all of the wonderful paper toys that Marilyn Scott-Waters has created. Each month your family will unlock the mysteries of a Secret Garden character, as well as have fun together creating the original crafts and activities based on the book. This book also includes month-by-month activities as well INCLUDING fun book-related fun for the colder months of the year!

Get your copy here.

**some of these links are affiliate links

The post Snow Festival Day 3: Story of the Snow Children appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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43. The Clean Slate New Year’s Eve Ritual

Hi, everybody! Yep, it’s time. Back by popular demand (and to remind myself, in addition to all of you), it’s the New Year’s Eve Ritual. Here’s how it goes:

Years ago a friend of mine told me about his Korean mother-in-law’s tradition for New Year’s Eve.  Her theory was that you want to go into the new year the way you want the rest of the year to go. If you want abundance, ease, order, fun, etc., these are among the things you do:

  • Fill your car with gas.
  • Fill your cupboards and refrigerator with groceries.
  • Put money in your pocket.
  • Catch up on your bookkeeping/bills.
  • Clean your house.
  • Catch up on your laundry and ironing.
  • Clear out any old clothes in your closet that don’t fit or that you don’t absolutely love anymore, and give them away so someone else can start enjoying them right now.
  • Catch up on your beauty routine (get a fresh haircut or color your hair, do your nails, shave/wax, etc.)
  • Eat the kind of food that you love.
  • Pick an event for yourself on New Year’s Eve that symbolizes the kinds of things you want to do more of in the coming year.

That’s just the base list to get you started.  The fun is in adding your own items year by year.  Maybe you want to spend the day reading, to make sure you read more books in 2015.  Or maybe you want to see a great movie.  Or spend time with your loved ones.  Or get more sleep!  Pick something you’ve been meaning to move to the top of your list for the coming year, then treat yourself to it right away.  We all need to practice being sweeter to ourselves.  The day leading into the new year seems like an excellent time to start.

Enjoy your fresh start!  And Happy 2015 everyone!

0 Comments on The Clean Slate New Year’s Eve Ritual as of 12/31/2014 4:47:00 AM
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44. Reading for Pleasure, Not Research

I read way too fast. I skim over details to find out What Happens. In the process, I sometimes miss important points. Plus I usually read at night. Because I’m tired, I often forget what I’ve read, and I have to go back a few pages the next night and reread to figure out what’s going on. I’m always trying to make myself Slow Down and Pay Attention. When I read a book I really enjoy, I start over at the beginning as soon as I reach the end. The second time through, I notice the language, the writing techniques, the way crucial details are revealed at just the right moments. I zip through a lot of books that way, and they tend to blur together in my mind. Because I’m always researching picture books and poetry, I read mostly young adult novels for pleasure. Here are three that stuck with me this year.

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley. Although the plot involves several issues, the one I remember best is the relationship between the two brothers. I ached for the narrator. I cried at the end.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, another sibling relationship story. I read this on a plane, and I never read on planes. I could not put it down.




Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire. I remember telling my husband that I could leave this one on my bedside table and reread it for the rest of my life. The writing is gorgeous, and the story is compelling, with plenty of food for thought.




Most of the poetry I’m reading these days is research for my Poet’s Workshop series for Crabtree Publishing. I’ve finished books 5 (Haiku) and 6 (Cinquains). Now I’m looking forward to moving on to Concrete Poems and List Poems. One more nonfiction series is lined up for another educational publisher in 2015. I'm looking forward to researching four more interesting topics!

Happy holidays, all!
xox,
JoAnn Early Macken

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45. Longreads’ Best of WordPress, Vol. 9

Here’s more great reading for you: five stories we love from across all of WordPress.


1. Spaces of Freedom in Iran

Jake Threadgould

An account of one traveler’s stay in Iran:

On my second night in Iran I was invited to a party in a middle-class area of Tehran. Since we were a mixed gendered group with a foreigner (yours truly) in their midst, we had to be reasonably inconspicuous when we stepped out of the car and onto the street. As soon as we stepped over the threshold of the house, however, we were no longer in the Islamic Republic.

2. Livin’ Thing: An Oral History of Boogie Nights

Alex French and Howie Kahn, Grantland

boogie

The full story of how Paul Thomas Anderson created his first masterpiece—and turned Mark Wahlberg into a movie star.

3. York & Fig

Marketplace

An examination of how the neighborhood of Highland Park in Los Angeles is quickly gentrifying. The team at Marketplace interviewed current and former residents, business owners, and investors and developers to paint a full picture of what’s occurring.

4. Cheerleaders for Christ

Jia Tolentino, Adult magazine

“I tell people all the time I never really drank the water, but of course that’s not totally true.” Recollections of a former cheerleader at a Texas private school attached to a Baptist megachurch.

5. Larry Bird’s Greatest Shot Was the One He Didn’t Take

Michael Rubino, Indianapolis Monthly
1214-larryBIRDopener-761x500

How basketball great Larry Bird almost walked away from the game.


You can find our past collections here—and you can follow Longreads on WordPress.com for more daily reading recommendations.

Publishers, writers, 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

4 Comments on Longreads’ Best of WordPress, Vol. 9, last added: 12/15/2014
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46. The Unreadable Sentence and Other Thoughts on Charlotte’s Web

Charlotte's WebNote: This post is full of spoilers. On the off chance you have never read Charlotte’s Web, stop everything and go read it, then come back.

*

I just finished reading Charlotte’s Web aloud to my son, and was surprised how often I was choked up while reading it. I expected the final chapter to destroy me, but not so much in the middle chapters, even the quiet ones: Wilbur’s bucolic day-to-day existence and the charming banter of animals was as likely to make me swallow hard and take five (my son staring at me in confusion) as Wilbur learning his fate from the old sheep.

I think what gets to me is Charlotte’s and Wilbur’s platonic love. Maybe all great middle-grade books are essentially about friendship, but no friendship is more peculiar and perfect than Wilbur’s and Charlotte’s. All my childhood I waited for that little voice to whisper from the darkness that she was there for me, and would reveal herself in the morning.

But as I grow older, Charlotte is not the friend I aspire to have, but the friend I aspire to be. She reaches out to Wilbur when he is muddy and pathetic and hasn’t a friend in the world. Her friendship transforms Wilbur, just by holding up a mirror of her own admiration. Soon the whole barnyard is swept up by her enthusiasm. The old sheep and the geese and even the bratty lambs start treating Wilbur with more respect. In turn, Wilbur considers Charlotte’s myriad legs and plump gray body and bloodsucking lifestyle and pronounces her beautiful, an unshaken belief until the end.

It is Charlotte’s gesture of friendship upon which the entire book revolves. It is also the source of the inspiration for her own life-changing art.

*

I was actually less weepy at the end than I expected, perhaps because the boy was so squirmy and distracting (while also steadfastly insisting I keep reading). He was so blank-faced when Charlotte died I had to make sure he understood what just happened (he did). He was impatient through the next passages, but delighted by the baby spiders, and so eager to announce we were finished he missed the lovely “true friend and good writer,” bit at the very end. It was hard to be emotional with such an impatient audience.

However, there is one sentence I was unable to read. I saw it, knew I couldn’t read it, and simply turned the page. It’s the last sentence in the second-to-last chapter, and may be the saddest line ever to appear in a book for children. I won’t even put it here. It’s no better typing it than reading it aloud.

*

Perhaps the most curious aspect of Charlotte’s Web is that it never once mentions God, which leads to some confusion about the plot: why is Wilbur, and not Charlotte, the subject of praise and wonder? In an increasingly secular world, the disposition of rural folk to attribute the unknown to the hand of God is less and less obvious.

Mrs. Zuckerman more than once suggests that the spider is the real phenomenon, but her husband dismisses her. It’s just a plain old gray spider, he says. Mr. Zuckerman uses words like “wonder” and “miracle” to describe what happens, and consults his minister, who gives a sermon, but nobody uses the G word. I suspect that it is because White, or perhaps Ursula Nordstrom, felt that they were perilously close to mocking faith itself, or would be seen as doing so. They played it safe by alluding to miracles and wonders without naming their presumptive Source.

White was a skeptic, but a devout worshiper of nature, and his masterpiece is a statement of faith: we don’t need a celestial creator; the spider is miracle enough. White picks up the Emerson strand of enlightened animism that runs through the American canon (especially poetry). It’s a faith but not a religion, and captures my own faith better than any religious text.

The doctor serves as White’s mouthpiece, giving his lecture to Fern’s mother, in a scene I had completely forgotten and will probably forget again. (It has no children in it, and no animals. It made my son restless.)

*

Charlotte’s Web is beloved by writers for its smooth rhythms and pastoral descriptions, its epic catalogs of the humdrum. Reading it aloud tuned my ears to its stylistic mastery. There’s a reason the award for best read-aloud books is named for White. The style subsumes the story at times, as White patiently reels off the signs of seasonal changes, for example, or gives an exhaustive, almost ostentatious, list of things to eat at a fair or the contents of a junk pile. A certain type of children’s book reviewer is inclined to say they are “too much for children,” these languorous passages, just as critics have opined since its publication that Charlotte’s Web is too sad for children, that the sadness is ill-matched with the humor, that White bungled by establishing Fern as a main character just to demote her in chapter three. White’s children’s books do have structural peculiarities, but so do Andersen’s fairy tales. They defy our critical apparatuses. Children gleefully read, love, and cry over the book anyway, decade after decade.

When authors appeal to all ages they are said to appeal to the childlike hearts of older readers, but I think White appeals to the old souls in children.

*

Wilbur WritesCharlotte is also a writer, of sorts: literally spinning words that shine in the morning sunlight, transforming the lives of the ones she cares most about. And so I aspire to be a friend like Charlotte, and also a writer like Charlotte, with her tireless commitment to high-minded goals and no longing for personal reward. I more often feel like Wilbur, tying an old string to his tail and leaping off of a manure pile. Perhaps it is only by disappearing into the woodwork that a writer can see his or work work become, to those staring in wonder, divine.


Filed under: *All Time Favorite Posts, Miscellaneous, Reading Tagged: charlotte's web

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47. Monday Mishmash 12/15/14


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:

1.  Medeia Sharif's New Book!  A huge congrats to Medeia on her new release. She has a giveaway going on to celebrate. Check it out:

VITAMINS AND DEATH, Prizm Books/Torquere Press, December 10, 2014
Purchase from Prizm, Amazon – Vendor sites will be updated on the author’s site.

Deidra Battle wants nothing more than to be invisible. After her mother, a public school teacher, engages in an embarrassing teacher-student affair at Lincoln High, they relocate to a different neighborhood and school. Being her mother's briefcase, Deidra joins her mother at her new workplace, Hodge High. Since her mother has reverted to her maiden name and changed her appearance, she thinks no one will figure out they're the Battles from recent news and that they're safe. Neither of them is. Hodge brings a fresh set of bullies who discover details about the scandal that changed Deidra's life. Feeling trapped at home with an emotionally abusive, pill-addicted mother and at school with hostile classmates who attempt to assault and blackmail her, Deidra yearns for freedom, even if she has to act out of character and hurt others in the process. Freedom comes at a price.

Find Medeia – YA and MG Author

Blog   |   Twitter   |   Goodreads   |   Instagram   |   Amazon

Book Blast Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway


2. Reading  I'm trying to get in a lot of reading this week. I've gotten behind on the books I need to read and review, and now it's time to catch up.

3. Editing  Another week of editing for clients. :)

4. Renovations  I finally have a kitchen! Okay, it's not 100% finished. We still need to finish the backsplash, but my new countertop and new sink are both in! Yay! The den is also finished. The floor is down and the walls and window casings are painted. Unfortunately, my carpet for the upstairs won't be installed until the 29th though, so not in time for Christmas.

5. Getting Ready for the Holidays  Did I mention I'm hosting Christmas and the house is still a mess? Yup, it is. Furniture everywhere. Unwrapped presents everywhere. I feel like I could be on an episode of Hoarders. *sigh* The good news is that it HAS to get cleaned up before Christmas, so this can't last much longer.

That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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48. Friday Feature: The Regenerates by Maansi Pandya



Title: The Regenerates
Series: The Regenerates, Book 1
Author: Maansi Pandya
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Radiance Publishing

Blurb: Abolition Day has arrived again, the day when any of Cor’s citizens arrested for opposing the regime are publicly executed in a special ‘cleansing’ ceremony. Sixteen-year-old Ven is an aristocrat. He lives in a palace, goes to lavish parties and wears buttons made of pure gold. To him, Abolition Day is nothing more than an unpleasant holiday that comes and goes. All of that changes when his best friend, Coralie, makes the execution list. In order to save her life, Ven teams up with a mysterious criminal who warns him that his city is in terrible danger. He offers Ven a deal: steal something from the palace for him, and he’ll save Coralie’s life. Not about to watch his best friend die, Ven makes the deal and slowly uncovers the truth behind the criminal’s warning – something out there is desperate to see Cor burn to the ground, and it makes Ven question everything he’s believed in.

Order Paperback/E-book at: http://www.amazon.com/The-Regenerates-Maansi-Pandya/dp/0993884008/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1414240665&sr=8-1&keywords=the+regenerates 


Author Bio: Maansi Pandya is a YA Author who loves Fantasy, especially adventure stories! She currently lives in Vancouver, Canada and studied Creative Writing and Political Science at the University of East Anglia.

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

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49. Writer Wednesday: Happy Holidays and Free & Low-Priced Books!

This isn't your typical Writer Wednesday post because tomorrow is Christmas! To celebrate the holiday season I want to help you fill up that new ereader you asked for or that you purchased for someone else. We all know that can get expensive, so here are my books that are either FREE or very low in price. Enjoy!


FREE Books:

Kiss of Death: Young Adult Paranormal Prequel Novella to the Touch of Death Series. This book is told from Alex's POV.


The only life Alex Montgomery knows is raising the dead and having zombie servants, normal stuff for an Ophi. Alex is a necromancer descended from Medusa—or at least he will be once he comes into his powers. So far his life is training to use abilities he doesn't yet possess, which gets him beaten up by zombies on more than one occasion. And his parents Victoria and Troy won't tolerate anything less than perfection from Alex. He has a lot to live up to, and they remind him of it every day. So when an innocent birthday kiss turns deadly, Alex has to work twice as hard to master his Ophi abilities. He isn't the Chosen One, but he's still a Montgomery, which means he's expected to run the Ophi school one day. With a new group of students coming to the school, Alex needs to learn fast because he's about to be sent on the biggest mission of his life.

Want to know Alex's story and what he was like before he met Jodi? Now you can. Download it FREE here.


Curse of Death: Young Adult Paranormal Prequel Short Story to the Touch of Death Series.


When Medusa is caught between the god she serves and the god she loves, there can only be one outcome.

Download it FREE here.












The Imaginary Friend: Lower Middle Grade Two-Part Short Story

Samantha and Tracy have been best friends since kindergarten, but now that Tracy has gotten over her shyness and made new friends, Samantha is feeling left out. This is nothing compared to how she feels when a strange girl named Jessica tells Samantha that she’s actually an imaginary friend. Tracy has outgrown Samantha, and it’s time for Samantha to help another child who needs her. But will Samantha be able to move on and fulfill her duty as an imaginary friend?

Download it FREE on Amazon or B&N.


Campus Crush: New Adult Contemporary Romance Novel consisting of four novellas (written under my pen name Ashelyn Drake)
The co-eds of Timberland College know a little romance is good for the soul. 

Follow four couples as they try to find love in the Campus Crush Series boxset, including Nothing to Tell, Romancing the R.A., Behind Closed Doors, and Rushing Into Love. 

When you're looking for love, you have to be willing to break the rules. 

This novel includes all four novellas in the Campus Crush series: 
Nothing To Tell
Romancing the R.A.
Behind Closed Doors
Rushing Into Love

Download it for FREE on Amazon or B&N.

LOW-PRICED Books:

Touch of Death (Touch of Death series #1): YA paranormal
Jodi Marshall isn’t sure how she went from normal teenager to walking disaster. One minute she’s in her junior year of high school, spending time with her amazing boyfriend and her best friend. The next she’s being stalked by some guy no one seems to know. 


After the stranger, Alex, reveals himself, Jodi learns he’s not a normal teenager and neither is she. With a kiss that kills and a touch that brings the dead back to life, Jodi discovers she’s part of a branch of necromancers born under the 13th sign of the zodiac, Ophiuchus. A branch of necromancers that are descendents of Medusa. A branch of necromancers with poisoned blood writhing in their veins. 

Jodi’s deadly to the living and even more deadly to the deceased. She has to leave her old, normal life behind before she hurts the people she loves. As if that isn’t difficult enough, Jodi discovers she’s the chosen one who has to save the rest of her kind from perishing at the hands of Hades. If she can’t figure out how to control her power, history will repeat itself, and her race will become extinct.

Only $1.99 on Amazon or B&N.


The Monster Within: YA paranormal
The moment seventeen-year-old Samantha Thompson crawls out of her grave, her second chance at life begins. She died of cancer with her long-time boyfriend, Ethan, by her side—a completely unfair shot at life. But Ethan found a way to bring her back, like he promised he would. Only Sam came back wrong.

She's now a monster that drains others' lives to survive. And after she kills, she’s tortured by visions—glimpses into her victims would-have-been futures had she not killed them. Barely able to live with herself and trying to make things right, Sam ends up a pawn in a vicious game of payback within the local coven of witches.

But when the game reveals what Ethan had to do to save Sam, she must make a choice that will change all their lives forever.

Only $3.99 on Amazon or B&N.


Perfect For You: YA contemporary romance written as Ashelyn Drake
Seventeen-year-old Meg Flannigan isn’t very self-confident, but what girl would be after her sophomore-year boyfriend dumped her by making out with another girl in front of her locker? 

Now a senior, Meg catches the eye of not one, but two gorgeous guys at school. Sounds good, right? What girl wouldn't want to be in Meg's shoes? One cute boy happens to be her boyfriend, and the other? Well, he wants to be. And Meg? She's torn between Ash, the boy she's been with for nearly five months, and Noah who is pretty irresistible. 

But Meg is playing with fire. Pitting two boys against one another, even if she doesn't intend to, could end badly if she isn't careful. 

Only $2.99 on Amazon or B&N.


Into the Fire: YA paranormal romance written as Ashelyn Drake
Seventeen-year-old Cara Tillman’s life is a perfectly normal one until Logan Schmidt moves to Ashlan Falls. Cara is inexplicably drawn to him, but she’s not exactly complaining. Logan’s like no boy she’s ever met, and he brings out a side of Cara that she isn’t used to. As the two get closer, everything is nearly perfect, and Cara looks forward to the future.

But Cara isn’t a normal girl. She’s a member of a small group of people descended from the mythical phoenix bird, and her time is running out. Rebirth is nearing, which means she’ll forget her life up to this point—she’ll forget Logan and everything they mean to one another.. But that may be the least of Cara’s problems.

A phoenix hunter is on the loose, and he’s determined to put an end to the lives of people like Cara and her family, once and for all.

Only $3.49 on Amazon or B&N.


Happy Holidays!


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50. Friday Feature: 25 Roses by Stephanie Faris



Mia moves from the shadows to the spotlight when her matchmaking plans go awry in this contemporary M!X novel from the author of 30 Days of No Gossip.

Mia is used to feeling overlooked: her perfect older sister gets all the attention at home, and the popular clique at school are basically experts at ignoring her. So when it’s time for the annual Student Council chocolate rose sale, Mia is prepared to feel even worse. Because even though anyone can buy and send roses to their crushes and friends, the same (popular) people always end up with roses while everyone else gets left out.

Except a twist of fate puts Mia in charge of selling the roses this year—and that means things are going to change. With a little creativity, Mia makes sure the kids who usually leave empty-handed suddenly find themselves the object of someone’s affection. But her scheme starts to unravel when she realizes that being a secret matchmaker isn’t easy—and neither is being in the spotlight.


My thoughts:
First, I love this cover. Just adore it. It's the kind of cover that makes you want to open the book, so I was excited to read this. And I wasn't disappointed at all.

Mia gets a really brilliant idea to buy roses for the kids in her class who don't ever get roses. All she wants is to make people feel good because she knows what it's like to feel left out or not quite as good as someone else, including her older sister. I loved Mia immediately for this.

But there's a problem with Mia's plan. Everyone wants to know who sent the roses, and since Mia is the one who sold them, everyone interrogates her. Mia tries to dodge their questions and pretends she doesn't know who sent them. But sending the roses leads to Mia playing Cupid. Kids are asking her for help talking to their crushes and getting made over. Mia's not sure how everyone came to think she knows about matchmaking and she's not exactly happy about it. Especially since Mia can't even admit to herself that she has a crush of her own.

Things begin to get out of control for Mia and she's not sure if she can fix it. What started out as a nice gesture becomes a heap of trouble for Mia.

I really loved Mia. I think she had great intentions, so when things started going wrong for her, I felt awful for her. The poor girl was only trying to be nice. But let's face it. Middle school is tough! There's plenty of drama to go around.

I couldn't put this book down, and as soon as I finished it, my daughter claimed it for herself. This is a great middle grade read that I highly recommend.
Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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