Literary? Really?

An author’s year of reading “literature”
'Lterature'The writer, at the Lord Dudley in Woollahra, with a selection of the books he has pored over. Photo: James Brickwood

It seemed such a simple idea. author Keith Austin writes: “spend 2014 reading nothing but literature. Not mere ‘books’, you understand; literature.’

“It would be improving; I would dive into the ocean of award-winning literary works and emerge at the other side … understanding what it takes to achieve greatness,” he went on.

“Look, it wasn’t all bad…”

Read the rest of the delightful essay HERE

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Book characters, besides Sherlock, that Benedict Cumberbatch made better in the movies

From Christopher Tietjens to Smaug, has any actor managed to bring to life so many roles from great literature quite so well and winningly as Benedict Cumberbatch? Off the Shelf asks. Publishers around the world – not to mention the BBC and PBS – owe him big time, they conclude.

A case in point:

Parades EndParade’s End: Widely considered one of the best novels of the twentieth century, Parade’s End explores the world of the English ruling class as it descends into the chaos of the first World War.

In the BBC/PBS mini-series a blonde Benedict portrays Christopher Tietjens an officer from a wealthy family who is torn between his unfaithful socialite wife, Sylvia, and his suffragette mistress, Valentine. Heartbreaking, terrifying and beautiful.

 

See more HERE

 

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How people asked strange or embarrassing questions before Google

“In a world pre-Google,” reads a caption on NYPL’s Instagram, “librarians weren’t just Wikipedia, they were people’s Craiglist, Pinterest, Etsy, and Instagram all rolled into one.”

From 1940 to 1980, Julie Gerstein of Buzzfeed tells us, the library kept track of questions with a paper file. Recently, that old box of questions was rediscovered.
library questionnypl.org

See other questions HERE

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The link between Jane Austen and feminism

Flavorwire’s new editor-at-large Sarah Seltzer talks to the Guardian about why Austen has endured, especially online.

Even though Austen wasn’t out there smashing the system, her books are all about filtering a very patriarchal society through a female point view. She made profound observations about the way people interact, specifically on how women make do in a world that is hostile towards them.

Lizzy Bennet [in Pride and Prejudice] is a prime example, who filters her experience through wit and wry observations, and that’s essentially what feminist bloggers do. There’s a really strong connection between Jane Austen and online feminism where we’re using humour, memes and jokes as a way of processing living in patriarchy.

Read the article HERE

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By the bookTalking books with the editor of The New York Times Book Review. Pamela Paul conducts one of her famous “By the Book” interviews… on herself.

Q: You’re hosting a literary dinner party. Which three writers are invited?

PP: Dorothy Parker, H. L. Mencken, and Mark Twain. It would be feisty and fierce — something would get spilled and someone might actually get hurt — but I could just lean back and listen, and wonder what each would write about it the next day.

Q: What books did you feel like you were supposed to like but didn’t?

PP: I actually hate a lot of books that other people passionately love. I really disliked The Great Gatsby, and honestly, all of Fitzgerald leaves me cold. (Though I adored Nancy Milford’s Zelda biography.) I gritted my teeth with disgust through The Fountainhead, which contains some of the worst prose I’ve ever read. Dominique was always striding across the room. I dislike the Beats and couldn’t stand On the Road. I wanted to throttle Holden Caulfield — what a complainer! What kind of person would complain like that? Oh, wait.

Read the whole interview HERE

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Thirteen year-old Shubham Banerjee has built a braille printer out of a robotic Lego kit to help blind readers print out texts to read.
leggo brailleRead the story HERE

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An Ode to Grandparents Who Give Books

Bookseller Stephanie Appell remembers the copy of Garth Nix’s Sabriel that her grandmother gave her for Christmas when she was a kid.

“It was a book ahead of its time, a story of magic and the search for identity, featuring a strong female protagonist whose voice echoes in the stories of today’s heroines like Hermione and Katniss. I devoured it and wanted more. I found my way to Tamora Pierce, Holly Black, Robin McKinley, Susan Cooper, Brian Jacques, Patricia Wrede, Jane Yolen. The books in those boxes shaped the reader — and the person — I became.

“So I’m serious when I tell my customers that ‘I’d really love to help you find the perfect book for the child you’re shopping for. I know it could change their life.’ “

Read the rest HERE

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THIS ‘n THAT

Ereaders Are Bad For Sleep: People who read ebooks before bed don’t sleep as well as those who read print. Research shows that using ereaders delays the circadian clock and suppresses the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin.

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An Astronomically Correct Rendition Of ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’

Listen to it HERE

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Drunk Driver Busted by Parrot

Guillermo Reyes was driving home from a bar in Mexico City when he encountered a DUI traffic stop. When police talked to him, they heard a voice from inside the car saying, “He’s drunk! He’s drunk!” They shone a light into the car and saw Reyes’ parrot. The cops gave Reyes a Breathalyzer test, and concluded that he was, indeed, driving while impaired. Reyes was sent to the drunk tank overnight, and the parrot was allowed to accompany him.

19 other weird stories HERE

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Quote of the Day

My job is not to write what the reader wants, but what I want. What the story (or poem) wants. I have to tell  the truth  on the slant (as Emily Dickinson said) as I see it, as the story comes to and through me. That’s all I owe anyone, all I owe myself–to tell Truth on the slant.” ~ Jane Yolen

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Alma Alexander     My books     Email me

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It’s only Stardate -309971.68

…but we already have 12 Star Trek Gadgets from the 24th Century

John Brandon tells you about them at Mental Floss.
Star Trek BadgeWikimedia Commons
On the original series, Kirk and crew carried handheld communicators. But in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Starfleet personnel wore communicator badges on the left breasts of their uniforms. A California start-up called Vocera has created a similar device you pin to your shirt. They’re used mostly in hospitals to avoid having constant overhead pages.

See all the StarTrek gadgets HERE

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It means WHAT?

Every language has some untranslatable words, my mother tongue included.

In Serbian, ‘inat’ means so much more than the simple translation of the word. In the simplest terms, it maps onto “stubbornness” – but it goes beyond that, to “I’m digging my heels in and this is where I stand, for good or ill, against all comers” or “DON’T tell me what I can’t do!” or, somewhat more metaphysically, “Yeah? you and what army?”

The word is a foundational one for the mindset and the culture, a never-say-die thing that has kept us alive through centuries of historical EVENTS that have rolled over us. It’s a survival thing, sometimes harsh and unlovely but always solid and strong and only getting stronger in the face of adversity.

Which brings us to:

The Illustrated Book Of Untranslatable Words

Last year Maptia.com published a blog post titled ‘11 Untranslatable Words From Other Cultures’ with illustrations by Ella Sanders, 19, who was interning with them in Morocco. The next morning they woke to a torrent of emails and tweets from thousands upon thousands of people who had commented, shared, or volunteered more suggestions for these untranslatables.

A year later, Ella Sanders’ book was published by Random House.
Book unreadTsundoku—Japanese | The tsundoku scale can range from just one unread book to a serious hoard, so you are most likely guilty of it. Illustration by Ella Sanders
SunlightKomorebi—Japanese | It may be temporarily blinding but it’s most definitely beautiful. There is something wonderfully evocative and uniquely magical about sunlight filtered through green foliage. Illustration by Ella Sanders

Read more about Ella HERE

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Who made Shakespeare?

The creation of William Shakespeare: How the Bard really became a legend

Shakespeare wasn’t always a literary icon — or even the most popular writer of his era, Cameron Hunt McNabb tells us at Salon.

Shakespeare’s current status is often described as “bardolatry,” an excessive veneration of the man marked by elaborate myths about who he was and what he really accomplished. One of the more popular myths involves Shakespeare’s “wildly extensive” vocabulary and ferocious knack for coining new words. (In reality, Shakespeare’s vocabulary was less than half of the average person’s today and he only coined 229 new words, coming in 4th among English wordsmiths.)

So how did he get so big? Well, there were three things…

Read the article HERE

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Best Women AuthorsDaniel Dalton of BuzzFeed selects the poetry, fiction, and non-fiction that killed it this year. Ranked in no particular order.

e.g.
Station ElevenStation Eleven: “Emily St. John Mandel’s time-hopping tale of a worldwide epidemic, postapocalyptic Shakespearian thespians, the problematic nature of fame, and the importance of art, love, and companionship when it comes to survival is an incredible feat of a novel.” – Isaac Fitzgerald

 

 

Read the article HERE

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Welcome to winter. The fox is heart crushing.

When Mother Nature unleashes a cold front, she often freezes everything in her path, creating the most incredible scenes.

The 30 Most Amazing Photos Of Frozen Things You’ll Ever See
Frozen-ThingsFrozen Lake Michigan Light House
Photo Credits: EliteDaily,

See all the photos HERE

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All I want for Christmas is …

…books, of course. If you are a book lover too and looking for a good fantasy, let me introduce you to Random, the first book in The Were Chronicles.

I have put up a page for the  series HERE which includes a link to an excerpt from the first chapter of Random.

The ebook version is out now, of course, but if you want to give a Paperback for Christmas, you can pre-order it from the publisher Dark Quest Books HERE and slip a note into your loved one’s stocking that the book is on its way.

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THIS ‘n THAT

“Merriam-Webster names ‘culture’ word of the year

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“Buy Every Book You Read Next Year from a Bookshop”

I claim to love books; and, more than that, to love bookshops. Yet for eight years I have poured money into a company that many booksellers regard as the greatest threat to their survival…. It is the time of year to make resolutions. You could resolve to eat less, or jog more. Or you could join me in making a simple pledge: to buy every book you read next year from a bookshop. I don’t know about you, but Amazon has had quite enough of my money already.” ~ Laura Freeman in a piece for the Daily Mail

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Third Place Books, which has stores in Lake Forest Park, Wash., and in the Ravenna neighborhood of Seattle, is opening a third store, in the Seward Park neighborhood of Seattle, in late 2015.

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Quote of the Day

“True art selects and paraphrases, but seldom gives a verbatim translation.” ~Thomas Bailey Aldrich

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Alma Alexander      My books      Email me
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The Random World

There is a new world out there, a vivid and complex world full of Were creatures and normal humans living in an uneasy alliance.

It’s where my new series, The Were Chronicles, takes place and the first book, Random, is now available — just in time for Christmas, for all you book lovers.

This new world is populated by far more Were creatures than the traditional Werewolf or Vampire bat. In the world of The Were Chronicles, there are Weremice, Werecrows, even Werechickens. In fact, there are Weres of virtually all kinds of warm-blooded creatures, mammals and birds.

There are also New Moon Weres, who don’t Turn at the full moon, but when it’s not visible in the sky, and Randoms, who can turn into the last creature they saw as the change was coming on them.

The Weres share this world with the normals, living lives of not quite quiet desperation. They are tolerated, but face constant discrimination and bullying. They are carefully regulated, forced to live in isolation or even imprisonment during their Turns, and forced to carry identity cards stamped with a dehumanizing paw print.

The tensions between the two groups constantly threatens to erupt into open warfare.

Random has been out in e-book form for a short time now; the paperback edition will be released just after Christmas. But if you would like to give one as a Christmas gift, may I suggest that you preorder it (see links below) and stuff a note in your favorite reader’s stocking that it is on the way.

Random, The Were ChroniclesMy name is Jazz Marsh.

I am a Random Were, which means I am a Were of no fixed form – like all Random Were, my family can become any warm-blooded creature which is the last thing they see before they Turn.

For me, when my time came, that meant… trouble.

I was quite young when I lost my older sister, Celia, and my family never spoke about her. It was only when I found the secret diaries that she had left behind that I began to discover the truth behind her life and her death.

I never understood what drove my moody and dangerous older brother until I began to get an inkling about his part in Celia’s death… and until, driven to the edge of patience and understanding, he finally had to face his own Turn problems… and disastrously took matters into his own hands.

One thing is clear.

Everything I thought I knew about Were-kind was wrong.

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Where you can buy Random

Dark Quest Books

Amazon

Amazon ebook

Barnes & Noble

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What readers and reviewers say

You will never read another shapeshifter book like this. Every surprise will catch you unwary. And, like me, you will find that others will have to pry it out of your fingers.” ~ Tamora Pierce, bestselling author

Random isn’t just a story about shapeshifters, it’s a story about humanity. It’s about what it means to be a member of a family, a culture, a race…what really made me fall in love with Random is the way Alexander writes. There’s a beauty to her language, an intelligence and insight.” ~ Angela’s Library, review blog

It’s about were-kind, but it’s so much more. It’s about finding your place in your family, your country, your world. It’s about prejudices, and _human_ rights, and love of your family. It’s deceptively easy to read, because it’s a complex story, clever and intelligent…” ~ Maggie Forest

The experience of being an immigrant, the experience of being different, the experience of being treated unfairly by self-righteous authority and being powerless to do anything about it, are all here, beautifully depicted, unflinchingly described, shown with all their terrible consequences.”  ~ Mike Reeves-McMillan

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The next two books in the series, Wolf, and Shifter will be out in 2015 from Dark Quest Books.

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Quote of the day

Jorge Luis Borges~~~~~
Alma Alexander       My books       Email me

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What do YOU like?

Jennifer Schaffer of BuzzFeed has selected some of the most beautiful sentences in literature (below), and that made somebody ask me about what I like in my own works.

I must have written five or six million words in my lifetime so far, published two million or so of those, so finding “a favorite sentence” is something of a challenge, and I don’t know if my readers would respond to the same things. But here are some of my favorites:

I looked at her and I saw an ocean; I looked at myself in the mirror and I saw a suburban fishpond with a couple of tired koi swimming around in circles. ~ Random

For every color there was a dark twin, a shadow, and it  came to him in hues and nuances, just as he had dreamed, but he could not close his eyes to any of them, could not unsee. ~ Color, Human Tales anthology

And, since I don’t write sentences so much as paragraphs, there is this from my novel, Midnight at Spanish Gardens:

The passageway between a couple of blank brick walls widens abruptly into a courtyard. There is a doorway, dark now, with some sort of gilt writing on the glass. An accountant, maybe, or a dentist – i forget what it was,and maybe it even changed once or twice during  my time here. And across the courtyard, dimly lit, a coy sign above the door, there it is, the Spanish Gardens. It does not look very Spanish. it certainly does not look anything like a garden.
Tuck EverlastingSuggested by Emily W., via Facebook Creative Commons / Flickr: michael_wacker

51 Of The Most Beautiful Sentences In Literature

e.g.
She wasn’t doing a thing that I could see, except standing there leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together. ~ —J. D. Salinger, “A Girl I Knew”

We cross our bridges as we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and the presumption that once our eyes watered. ~ Tom Stoppard, Rosencratz and Guildenstern Are Dead

At the still point, there the dance is. ~ T. S. Eliot

See all the sentences HERE

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Read. Write. Rinse and repeat.

I’ll be be a guest lecturer at the Odyssey Writing Workshop this summer and during an interview at the website I was asked: What do you think is the most important advice you can give to developing writers? My answer:

Reading is the primary education for any writer. You need to have an inoculation of language in your writerly stream before your own words can take form. People who don’t read never develop the love and the reverence for the written word–and how, then, can they hope to tease out its wonders?

Beyond that, if you are serious about pursuing this as a craft, as a vocation, as a career… well… Write. Practice. It comes only with practice, this inner instinct about whether something you’ve just written is good, or if there is something wrong with it, and what, and how it needs fixing.

I wrote a page and half of something once and stopped and stared at it — it was a literary neutron star, a very dense summary of the thing I needed to actually write. When I did what needed to be done, it turned into nearly three chapters of the book. But without the millions of words of practice I had already put in… I would not have known this, recognised this, figured out what I needed to do to fix it.

So–two very obvious pieces of advice. Read. Write.

Rinse and repeat.

Read the whole interview HERE

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16 of the creepiest snowmen who ever existed
Too many of them“You may have never realized Frosty was a horror film,” Chelsea DeBaise says at Dose, “but you will now.”

See the other snow monsters HERE

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WOW. Just *WOW*.

Beautiful dark twisted fantasies: the world’s most ancient trees

From 4,000-year-old pines in California to Welsh yews carved into pulpits, photographer Beth Moon has spent 14 years traveling the globe in search of exquisite trees.
Heart of the DragonHeart of the Dragon, Yemen, 2010, Beth Moon

More HERE

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Living in a tree

Forget staying grounded, I want to live amongst the trees in the most epic tree houses ever built, Beej Rudd says at Dose.

Me too.
Three Story TreehouseThree Story Treehouse – British Columbia, Canada

Other great tree houses HERE

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I’m glad Dian Fossey is included in this list. She’s always been a heroine of mine.

Women of National Geographic
Jane GoodallJane Goodall touching hands with a chimp – Photo by Hugo Van Lawick  

Jane Goodall’s story of a young girl who loved animals and dreamed of going to Africa—and who found a way of making that dream come true-is also one of the great scientific sagas. Goodall’s longstanding study of chimpanzee behavior at Gombe Stream, Tanzania, demonstrating how closely chimpanzees resemble humans-and humans chimpanzees-has caused a revolution in how we understand ourselves.

Other Women of National Geographic HERE

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These 17 Places Hold Millions Of Secrets That Have Yet To Be Discovered.

If you think libraries are just for nerds and librarians telling you to “shhhhhhh”…. well, you’ve never been to these libraries.Trinity College Library of DublinTrinity College Library of Dublin

More libraries HERE

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THIS ‘n THAT

At Bustle, Caroline Goldstein offers great writers’

Pieces Of Writing Advice To Pull You Out Of Your Lonely Black Hole

Read them all HERE

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Quote of the Day

I know you’ve heard all your life, ‘Write what you know.’ Well I am here to tell you, You don’t know nothing. So do not write what you know. Think up something else. ~ Toni Morrison

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Alma Alexander      My books      Email me

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Dare you date a bookworm?

11 things you should know about bookworms, Kim Quindlen warns at Thought Catalog

e.g. 6. When we see your apartment, the first thing we will look for is your bookcase, and we will spend several minutes looking through your collection, trying to get to know you better. If you don’t have a single book in your apartment, we might be a little concerned.

But forget that ‘little concerned’ nonsense. No books? Run!

Read the article HERE

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Random blurbThe paperback of “Random” probably won’t make it under the tree on Christmas morning… but a little note saying that it’s been ordered and it’s on its way DOES fit in your favorite reader’s stocking.

Just saying.

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DNA links 5,500 year old remains to living relatives

Scientists have traced a genetic descent from the 5,500 year-old remains to a woman still living on British Columbia’s northern coast, Abroad in the Yard reports.
DNAThe study used DNA samples from 60 modern members of the indigenous Tsimshian, Haida and Nisga’a tribes from the Metlakatla First Nation.  The samples were compared with mitochondrial DNA extracted from the teeth of four ancient people.

Read the article HERE

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Kay Nielsen’s Stunning 1914 Scandinavian Fairy Tale Illustrations
At rest in the dark woodsAt rest in the dark woods

At Brain Pickings, Maria Popova examines the illustrations in the book, East of the Sun and West of the Moon, a collection of Scandinavian fairy tales illustrated by the Danish artist.

Read the article HERE

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19 Science-Fiction And Fantasy Novels By Women Of Color

Tired of seeing women of color underrepresented in mainstream sci-fi and fantasy? Anjali Patel asks at Buzzfeed. Try these:
Joplin's ghostecx.images-amazon.com / Via google.com

Joplin’s Ghost, by Tananarive Due: Despite nearly being killed by a piano at her parent’s nightclub when she was ten, Phoenix Smalls is set on pursuing a life of music as an R & B singer. However, after a visit to Scott Joplin’s house in St. Louis, a string of bizarre events leads Phoenix to believe that she might be haunted by the King of Ragtime himself.

See the others HERE

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Dose offers us

17 Vintage ads that will make you cringe
MarlburosSee the rest HERE

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THIS ‘n THAT
Grumpy CatGrumpy Cat Has Made How Much Money?

Check it out HERE

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Think Fast. Spell Faster.

Letters of Boom: A simple, addictive word game based on sorting letters, spelling words and blowing stuff up. A combination of fast anagramming, strategic choice, and intense impact.

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I know all writers go through this but this is DOROTHY PARKER…?!?
Dorothy Parker~~~
Real-life ‘Eye of Sauron’ will open up over Moscow skyscraper tower
Eye of SauronOne doesn’t just walk into Siberia… uh… Mordor… er…never mind…

See the eye HERE

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Quote of the Day
QUOTE bed book~~~~~
Alma Alexander     My books     Email me

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Worship of Writers

business-of-ferretsBusiness of Ferrets – Image credit: Michael Lyons

50 Collective Nouns to Bolster Your Vocabulary

Collective nouns may seem like quirky ways to describe groups, Lucas Reilly writes at Mental Floss, but 500 years ago, they were your ticket to the in-crowd. As silly as some sound today, the phrases were formal and proper descriptions designed to help gentlemen-in-training avoid the embarrassment of “some blunder at the table.”

Some have achieved widespread currency and acceptance, like a “flight of stairs,” “a board of trustees,” and a “school of fish.” Others, like a “murder of crows,” barely hang on.

Most are little known, but some should be more popular. I mean, how could “Worship of Writers” go out of style?

50 collective nouns HERE

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Is longer better?

The Off the Shelf staff offers 7 Great Big Novels

Have you ever spent eight months reading a single book? How about a year? While such a commitment may seem daunting, there is nothing comparable to getting lost in a long, sprawling novel.

For example:
Miss-MacIntoshMiss MacIntosh, My Darling, by Marguerite YoungOne of the most ambitious and remarkable literary achievements of the twentieth century, it might be called the Arabian Nights of American life. In prose that is poetic, incantatory, and extraordinarily rich, Marguerite Young takes us on a search for reality in a world of illusion and nightmare, touching on subjects as varied as drug addiction, women’s suffrage, murder, suicide, pregnancy (both real and imagined), schizophrenia, love, gambling, and perfectionism.

 

See more at:

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12 Books That End Mid-Sentence

Books have long been messing with the heads of readers by daring to not use a period as the last typeset keystroke on the very last page, Gabe Habash tells us at Publisher’s Weekly, and offers 12 examples. He asks help in adding to the list, and notes that the lack of books by female authors is because he couldn’t find any, not one, in hours and hours of searching.
A Sentimental JourneyA Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy by Laurence Sterne (1768)

The Ending:

–But the Fille de Chambre hearing there were words between us, and fearing that hostilities would ensue in course, had crept silently out of her closet, and it being totally dark, had stolen so close to our beds, that she had got herself into the narrow passage which separated them, and had advanced so far up as to be in a line betwixt her mistress and me–

So that when I stretch’d out my hand, I caught hold of the Fille de Chambre’s–

Why?

At the end of his rambling journey, Yorick finally ends up at a roadside inn. Because there is only one bedroom, he shares it with a lady and her chambermaid, under the condition that he not speak. Of course, he breaks this rule and gets the chambermaid heading toward him. It’s possible, grammatically, to read that Yorick stretches out his hand and catches hold of the chambermaid’s hand. But, given that this is Sterne, the dirtier option (and the fun placement of the word “end” in the sentence) is a lot more enjoyable.

See the rest HERE

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Paradise Lost: The Hippie Refugee Camp

Let me tell you about a place called Taylor Camp, a tropical ocean-front utopia without rules, politics or bills to pay“, MessyNessy writes.
Taylor camp Anti-establishment all the way, clothing was optional and decisions were made according to the “vibes”. It was the ultimate hippie fantasy. Taylor Camp began in the Spring of 1969, with thirteen hippies seeking refuge from the ongoing campus riots in America and police brutality. Having fled their homes, they headed for Kauai in Hawaii, then a very remote and unspoilt land with just a single traffic light on the island.

Read the rest HERE

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If fiction is the art of invention, memoir is the art of selection and arrangement

Will Boast’s standout memoir, Epilogue, about the death of his mother, father, and brother, is both a wrenching exploration of grief and a moving story of remembrance.

It took me nearly three years of trying to cram my subject matter into a novel manuscript, Boast writes, before I understood that the story I wanted to tell would fit better into nonfiction. It took me another five years to finish the manuscript that became Epilogue. As provisional and context-specific as they may be, here are a few lessons I learned along the way:

Writing a Memoir tips HERE

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THIS ‘n THAT

Memory thrives on storytelling.

How do memory champions accomplish their miraculous feats? They get really good at telling memorable stories to themselves while weaving in what they’re trying to remember. Because the human brain is built for storytelling. The more things you can link together into a narrative, the more readily you’ll be able to recall them later on.

I’m not surprised.

More about memory HERE

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DesolenatorCreators of the Desolenator are crowdsourcing development money for a device turns sea or heavily polluted water into clean water.

You can help HERE

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Wedding name combos so bad they might want to call the whole thing off

Would you believe MacDonald-Berger? Hardy-Harr? And much much worse!

See the others HERE

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A government ban on which prohibited prisoners in England and Wales from having family and friends send them books, has been ruled unlawful.

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Quote of the Day
QUOTE Joan Didion~~~~~
Alma Alexander      My books      Email me

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Skating in the Alps

Blejsko Lake AlpsBlejsko Lake, Alps – Photo by Karol Nienartowicz

On winter holidays in the lost land of my childhood, I went with my family to this lake in the Alps at a place called Bled, in SLovenia, whilom Yugoslavia.

Imagine that lake, frozen, surrounded by a wonderland of snowy woods, with a castle looming over it on the promontory and the little island with a chapel on it like something out of a fairy tale. That’s the ice I learned to skate on – tossed out in the middle of a borderless, fenceless, edgeless rink and told to skate my way home. And I did. I did. I did. I stayed upright and I stayed graceful. The gift of the fairy lake to a young girl who was learning to dream.

The photo was taken by Karol Nienartowicz, a 29 year old Polish landscape photographer with a passion for the Alps. He goes to the limits and beyond to capture his breathtaking images, BabaMail reports. He’s even spent nights in a tent on a glacier, 13,123 feet above sea level. Now, that’s dedication!.

30 remarkable Karol Nienartowicz photos HERE

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Christmas booksThe paperback of “Random” probably won’t make it under your tree on Christmas morning… but a little note saying that it’s been ordered and it’s on its way DOES fit in your favorite reader’s stocking.

Just saying.

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Poetry BrothelThe Poetry Brothel transforms the Back Room into a poetic paradise for a night. (Photo: Rachael Saltzman)

New York’s Poetry Brothel

Tucked inside an alleyway, down one set of steps and up another, a salon exudes the easy sex appeal that could only manifest in a Prohibition speakeasy, Alexandra Villarreal reports at The Observer. Lipstick red covers the wall and floor. A sparkling chandelier lights up the night.

The Madame and her drunken bouncer introduce the evening’s entertainment, burlesque performers who swing their hips and lift their legs to uproarious applause while whores and their patrons sneak behind a bookcase for time in the shadows.

Read the article

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School libraries are essential for learning

You can’t have learning without the magic of a book. Lose the libraries and you lose… the bedrock. Why is this so hard to understand?

This comes to mind because of an appalling story out of Philadelphia. In 1991, there were 176 certified librarians in the public schools. This year there are 11 and only five are known to be actually doing what they were trained to do. Five librarians for the nation’s eighth-largest school district.
School libraryMasterman principal Marjorie Neff sits in the school’s closed library, which was closed last year due to budget cuts. TOM GRALISH

Leaving Philadelphia’s public school libraries without professional staffing is a grave mistake, Carol Heinsdorf tell us at Philly.com. It will have consequences for the students for the rest of their lives. Study after study shows a clear link between school libraries staffed by certified librarians and student achievement.

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WAY above your pay grade

So I’m standing in the bullshit ‘security theater’ line at LAX behind the incredibly beautiful Nichelle Nichols, who played Ulhura on the original Star Trek, Daniel Knauf writes .

At 81, she’s still as gracious, classy and lovely as ever.

Unfortunately, as is the case for many people her age, she has some mobility problems and was seated in a wheelchair as we approached the metal detector. With some difficulty, she got out of the chair to go through the machine, and the TSA Officer waiting on the other side ordered her to take off her shoes….

So when this officious prick asked the Single-Woman-on-Earth-Least-Likely-to-Be-a-Terrorist to remove her shoes, despite her clearly limited mobility, I said (very loudly),

“Sir! That woman is a Star Fleet Communications Officer! She is WAY above your pay-grade! How DARE you ask her to remove her shoes?!”

At this, all the other people waiting in line cheered and applauded, and officer was shamed into waving her through.

It was an awesome moment.

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Why Dogs Never Actually Die.

This guy nails it. I have three of them, sleeping next to MY heart/ That’s a lot of tails. And then there’s the cats that have joined them, too, softly pawing at the heart in question when they’re sleepy and content. Poor heart. So much going on. SO much not forgetting.

Read the essay

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THIS ‘n THAT

Free water, electricity and fuel

Well maybe not exactly, but Panasonic has built a town just outside Tokyo that features homes built with solar paneled roofs and batteries for storing energy, LED street lighting, ride-sharing services, and car charging stations dotting parking lots.
Smart townMore HERE

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How to make street art with moss
Moss-graffitiDYI Cozy Home tells uo how HERE

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Oldest artShell ‘art’ made 300,000 years before humans evolved

Half a million years ago, hundreds of  thousands years before our own species evolved,
a Homo erectus etched a deep zigzag into a clam shell. We will never know what was going on inside its maker’s head, The New Scientist says, but the tidy, purposeful line has opened a new window into the origins of our modern creative mind.

Read the article

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Quote of the Day
QUOTE Chesterson~~~~~
Alma Alexander     My books     Email me

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‘The world neeeeds books!’

MadisonThere is absolutely no way in hell you appreciate books as much as this third grader does. Nope. No way. Madison loves books. And she tells you exactly why in this video from the grand opening of one of five Little Free Libraries in Cleveland.

See the video HERE

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Women Who Changed History

They were strong, brave, and human, regardless of society’s expectations for them, Mark Pygas writes at Distractify.
Sufferage activistA woman suffrage activist protesting after “The Night of Terror.” [1917]

See all 52 women

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10 brilliant books that gave women excellent roles

From Meryl Streep’s tortured Sophie to Nicole Kidman’s right-on-the-nose portrayal of Virgina Woolf, every actress in this list captured their character so well you only see see their performance now when you read the book.

The Reader

 

“The Reader” by Bernard Schlink: When he falls ill on his way home from school, 15-year-old Michael Berg is rescued by Hanna, a woman twice his age. In time she becomes his lover—then she inexplicably disappears. When Michael next sees her, he is a young law student, and she is on trial for a hideous crime. As he watches her refuse to defend her innocence, Michael gradually realizes that Hanna may be guarding a secret she considers more shameful than murder. An Oprah Book Club selection.

 

Read the article

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Jodi Picoult says the F-word about Lit World Sexism

After nearly two decades as a highly successful author, Jodi Picoult is out on yet another book tour and not holding back on kickass soundbites about how shitty the lit world tends to be for women writers.

Read the article

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Amazingly awful books that you might find at your local library

Take a stroll through your local library’s aisles, and you’re sure to find a few hidden literary treasures, Happy Pace says.

Think I’m kidding about awful? Try this one, for example:
Ask a manDid you know that the best way for you to harness your inner womanliness is to defer all judgement to the penis-havers in your life? Seems counter-intuitive, but that’s what you’ll learn if you check out Always Ask a Man: The Key to Femininity by Arlene Dahl.

A couple of other gems

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THIS ‘n THAT

China bans puns

Digg reports that China’s media regulators have placed a blanket ban on the use of wordplay in advertisements and broadcasts, which have been deemed “contradictory in spirit to the promotion and continuance of excellent, traditional Chinese culture.”

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Homes made out of Old Trains
Caboose(via Big Sky Fishing and Skiing)
The 1949 caboose of Samuel and Barbara Davidson on Mercer Island, Washington

Other train buildings

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Hieronymus Bosch painted sheet music on a man’s butt and now you can …

Hear it here

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Five Music Lessons for Writers

The great thing about being a writer is that no experience is wasted, Louise Marley once wrote.

“I’ve spent most of my life (thus far) as a classical concert and opera singer and as a teacher of classical singers. When I began writing, I discovered to my great relief that I had already learned a number of valuable lessons–music lessons–that set the stage for my life as a writer…I had learned the discipline of artistic life.

Fourth lesson: Sing with your own voice

Read the article

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Quote of the Day
QUOTE book lives~~~~~
Alma Alexander      My books      Email me

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Love the Madness

7 Essential Books Starring Dysfunctional Families

Dysfunctional families are no laughing matter”, Off the Shelf reports, “more so when you’re a part of one. Who can stand your mother’s fiery tongue or your brother’s penchant for the absurd? Does Uncle Al always have to preach life lessons around the dinner table? Can’t we just eat for once?”

The Family Fang

The Family Fang

Kevin Wilson’s take on the art of surviving a masterpiece of dysfunction.

Meet The Family Fang, an unforgettable collection of demanding, brilliant, and absolutely endearing oddballs whose lives are risky and mischievous performance art.

 

 

See the others

 

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Excerpt from Mike Reeves-McMillan’s thoughtful review of Random, the first book in The Were Chronicles

“Depth and resonance and significance”

“There’s a group of YA authors – I’m thinking of Robin McKinley, Juliet Marillier, Justine Larbelestier, and a few others – who write the kind of books that snooty adults who look down on YA in Internet articles have clearly never read…

“This kind of YA has depth and resonance and significance. It shines a light on the path for young people (young women, in particular) who are looking for courage and a place in the world…

Random, The Were Chronicles“…this book is itself an example of what I mean. The experience of being an immigrant, the experience of being different, the experience of being treated unfairly by self-righteous authority and being powerless to do anything about it, are all here, beautifully depicted, unflinchingly described, shown with all their terrible consequences.

“…The book closes with a stunning revelation that left me unable to say anything but “Wow. Wow.”

 

 

Read the whole review
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Free copies of Random

I am extending my offer of free copies (the ebook version) of Random to an additional 10 people who pledge to leave a review — on Amazon, Goodreads, their own blog, what have you.

Send an email HERE with the subject line “Free Random Offer”

Include:
(1) a valid email address to send the ebook to
(2) a single sentence in the body of the email acknowledging that a review will follow.

Random isn’t just a story about shape-shifters, it’s a story about humanity. It’s about what it means to be a member of a family, a culture, a race.” ~ Angela’s Library review

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All too often, boys shy away from novels which have strong girls as protagonists or major characters; all too often, men refuse to read women authors for fear of … what…? Frankly I don’t know, but I’ve seen it.

Jennifer Schaffer of BuzzFeed offers some suggestions for the next time someone tells you they only like books by dudes.

If You Like This Book By A Man, You’ll Love This Book By A Woman

For example:
The LoverVladimir Nabokov, Lolita → Marguerite Duras, The Lover

If you were enthralled by Humbert Humbert’s twisted tale in Lolita, try Marguerite Duras’ The Lover. Both novels feature a love story between an older man and a young girl, but Duras tells us the tale from the eyes of the girl — all grown up.

Quotable line: “Suddenly, all at once, she knows, knows that he doesn’t understand her, that he never will, that he lacks the power to understand such perverseness. And that he can never move fast enough to catch her.”

See the others

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Hate peopleIra Madison III of BuzzFeed offers some advice and tells you whom you should give them to after you read them.

e.g.
The Talented Mr. RipleyThe Talented Mr. Ripley, by Patricia Highsmith

“The fact that I killed this man. It’s not going to change my life.”

Tom Ripley grew up as an orphan and, bitter with his lack of a place in high society, kills a rich guy and steals his life. But the murders don’t stop there, because two can only keep a secret if one of them is dead.

For: People who hate rich white boys in boat shoes.

 

See the others

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Top 10 imaginary friends in fiction

All characters in fiction are imaginary friends, AF Harrold writes in The Guardian. “We spend time with them, listen to them, laugh with them, sometimes fall in love with them. No one else knows them like we do. It can be embarrassing to talk to them when other people are in the room. But they’re not what this list is about.This list is about imaginary friends characters in books have had, so the imaginary friends of my imaginary friends, you might say.”

And the best example is, of course:
Hobbes and Calvin(sodahead.com)

Hobbes, from Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes

To me, the most important imaginary friend, the most moving, the most delightful, the most grrr-ry, the most graceful, the wisest, most forebearing, most put upon, the funniest and handsomest (certainly the best drawn) is Hobbes. He’s a tiger and he’s perfect.

See the others

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THIS ‘n THAT

Says it all
Schools without libraries are a disgrace” ~ Russell Brand:

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Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, the winner of a Canadian literary prize, has donated the $25,000 award to a grassroots coalition against the Tar Sands pipeline, sparking a wave of contributions.

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Quote of the Day

Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.” – George Orwell

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Alma Alexander     My books     Email me

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Who said it first?

No word I invented made the Top Ten list below, but “jin-shei“, my word for the sisters-of-the-heart relationship, that I wrote about in ‘Secrets of JIn-shei, has circled the world.

I have seen photographs of Italian girls pledging jin-shei to one another on blogs, and the idea of the jin-shei bao, the heart-sister, even made its way into fanfic inspired by Joss Whedon’s fabled Firefly. If you ever wondered why Jayne won’t kiss a whore on the mouth, there’s a fanfic story that explains it, and it involves jin-shei.

Authorisms: The top 10 words invented by writers
Catch-22Photograph: Alamy

Neologisms coined by authors which have entered the wider language have been enriching English for centuries. From Shakespeare to Joseph Heller, Paul Dickson selects his favorites:

Read the article

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In Short

A review found on Amazon for ‘Gift of the Unmage’, the first book in my WORLDWEAVERS series (first published by HarperCollins, reprinted by Sky Warrior Books.)

Title: Four stars (no, seriously. That’s the TITLE of the review)

The review, in full:
A unique magic system. A treat.”

That’s it.

I believe it takes the prize for the pithiest review I have ever had, for ANY book.

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Isn’t it funny how many of these are WINTER photos? There’s just something fairytale-ish about snow, period.

Fairytales Come To Life In Magical Photos
Fairytale wolfMargarita Kareva is a Russia-based photographer who specializes in fantasy art photography, Bored Panda tells us. Her photographs beautifully portray women that have been transformed into fairytale princesses and witches. She adds surreal elements to her shots that make the photographs really stand out.

See all the magic

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32 Books Guaranteed To Make You Laugh Out Loud

You’ll probably want to read these books in private“, Erin Chack warns on BuzzFeed, “since spontaneous maniacal laughter may ensue.”

One of the books, A Hike in the Woods (below) is one of my own favorites. But this list has GLARING OMISSIONS. Where’s ‘Three Men in a Boat’? I challenge anyone to read the setting up camp scene without cackling out loud at some point. And where’s T.H. White’s ‘Once and Future King’? Go read the Sir Grummore/King Pellinore joust in the woods one more time, or the manufacture of the fake Questin’ Beast by Sir Grummore and Sir Palomides, and if you can keep a straight face through either of those scenes your funny bone is missing.
A walk in the woods

Two slightly out-of-shape hikers attempt to take on the Appalachian Trail. One of those hikers is Bill Bryson, prolific humor/travel writer.

This book is perfect for anyone looking for a laugh, or to be talked out of hiking the Appalachian Trail.

 

 
See all the books

 

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From Trail of Tears to texting in the native tongue

In Aljazeera, Juliana Keeping writes about efforts to teach Cherokee children their own language

There’s something wonderful about an ancient language embracing a new world – taking something rich and old and valuable, giving it new wings fashioned out of cybercloud and electrons, and watching it fly under the strange light of an unfamiliar sun. Languages have concepts built into them that no other language can ever match..
Cherokee on screenRead the article

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I’ve always loved foxes. There’s something intrinsically tricksterish, intelligent, bright, about their pointed red-furred faces. And they are unquestionably some of the most photogenic animals ever. They LOOK as though they could talk, if only they wanted to, if it was made worth their while.

And then you get the poor sad sodden little scraps like the very wet and very miserable little fox kit whom you just want to sweep into your arms and cuddle until he’s soft and furry and bright red and all mischevious all over again…
FoxletIntimate photos of foxes in one of world’s remotest regions

Ivan Kislov’s stunning pictures of foxes are guaranteed to take your breath away,” Dominique Mosbergen writes at the Huffington Post . Kislov is a mining engineer who works in Chukotka, a beautiful but desolate corner of the Russian Far East that lies partially above the Arctic Circle.

See all the amazing pictures

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THIS ‘n THAT
Winnie-the-Pooh

Tuszyn, Poland has banned Winnie-the-Pooh from a local playground because Pooh’s lack of pants and questionable gender are offensive and “wholly inappropriate for children.”

 
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HarperCollins will offer a selection of bestselling titles to JetBlue passengers as the book content partner for the launch of the airline’s Fly-Fi content platform. Customers can read excerpts from more than 20 books, and each e-sampler includes buy buttons.

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Quote of the Day

We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words.” ~ Ursula K. Le Guin

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Alma Alexander      My books      Email me

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