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Friday, March 30, 2012

Discuss: building a website

We now have a review policy! (click on the tab at the top of the page)
Also I figured out how to center the logo in the header -- still tweaking, but that's better.


Have you ever built a website? What was the trickiest part? The funnest?
What do you like about your favorite websites and blogs? What makes them your favorite?

p.s. The "About" section is coming soon. What would you like to know about Everead at its authors?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

We have a LOGO!

*ahem hm*


shuffling of papers, glancing around, and a little bit of blushing...


Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to present you with the Everead logo!






I am so excited to show it to you! And also a little nervous . . . it is only the beginning of some re-design measures, so the whole blog is not fitting my vision completely yet. But I can say without reservation that I LOVE the logo!

It was designed by Amy Koester, a book lover, awesome graphic designer, mother of three, and real-life friend to myself! And here's the kicker -- she did it out of the goodness of her heart (which is SO good).

So. Wherever you are, applaud Amy with me for a moment. That's right, put your two hands together for her. She made that
awesome
bold
clean 
unique 
elegant 
logo for Everead! (Plus other colors and variations, to debut soon.) And then, when you're done clapping, comment, tweet, pin, share, or email and tell me what you like about it or how you would describe it.

<3

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Hunger Games

So, yeah, the movie opens! Anybody see it at midnight? Anyone going to see it in theaters soon? Who's planning to wait till video?  Anybody reading this who isn't interested in seeing it at all?


On the subject of The Hunger Games books, Laura Bogart has written a fantastic, moving piece about domestic violence and the Hunger Games. I’m really gratified that the books spoke to her — I had some friends who found the ending to the series unsatisfactory. I, for one, thought they couldn’t really end any other way. Well, I suppose they could but it would have been phony. The series is one of those that makes me grateful for my relatively uneventful life and peaceful existence. Its a wonderful reminder, every now and then, to get some perspective and be able to say again, “I really do have it good.”


I'm curious about your intentions with the movie. Leave your plans in the comments, or click the poll in the sidebar!


(Thanks to bookshelves of doom for sending me to that article.)


ETA: Here are the poll results!
I'll see the Hunger Games movie...
already have! -- 3 votes, 27%
soon, in theaters. -- 2 votes, 18%
when it comes home with me. -- 1 vote, 9%
never. -- 0 votes, 0%
not sure when. -- 5 votes, 45%

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Way of Kings

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

This is a long, long book.

I really enjoyed reading it -- Jacob and I read it aloud to each other on road trips and date nights over the past year or so (yeah, it took us a while). That was the perfect way for me to read this one -- Jacob had previously read it on his own. When it had been too long between readings for me to remember a detail, Jacob would jog my memory. He liked hearing my theories for what would happen next (since he knew the answers).

This is the first book in The Stormlight Archive -- which is planned to be 10 books long. It has humor, it has plot twists and it has epic battles. The Alethi people have been at war for more than a decade and fighting is a big part of their culture. Dalinar, a highprince, hopes to help his compatriots behave honorably in battle. In another part of the land, Kaladin fights with honor but it only comes back to bite him again and again. Shallan, our main girl in this book, is hoping to worm her way into high places to save her family's fortune and reputation. She was not my favorite.

I'd recommend this book to fans of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series (who probably already know about it, since Sanderson is finishing the last book of Jordan's series this year), or fans of epic fantasy. It's a fully realized world with complex characters and I expect it's only going to get bigger and better as the series continues.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Kill Shakespeare vol. 1 + The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Kill Shakespeare vol. 1 by Conor McCreery, Anthony Del Col & Andy Belanger.

Shakespeare's characters all inhabit the same world together at the same time. Not surprisingly, they've formed alliances and friendships across story lines. Some of them have heard of a mysterious person --the one who penned them all. His quill is supposed to be very powerful and is much sought after. That's why some want to . . .

Kill Shakespeare!
(dun dun dun)
  • It's got a pretty classic comic-art style, definitely not cartoony.
  • Plenty of violence (also cleavage), but not too much gore. 
  • I'd give it a PG-13, and recommend it to adults. I can think of plenty of friends I'd pass it onto, but not friends' kids. 
  • Problem: Sometimes the ye's and thou's contained errors. It really bugged me, but not enough for me to stop reading. 
  • Story line was fun and twisty.
  • Characters were great. I recognized those from plays I'd read and the author and illustrator give enough clues that I wasn't lost when it came to characters unfamiliar to me. 
  • This one is definitely a cliffhanger, volume two finishes the story, and I'll be picking it up.
Bonus review!:
I preferred Kill Shakespeare to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, by Alan Moore, which was our other graphic novel for the book club. Gentlemen has a rollicking, action packed plot as well, but the violence and gore was too much for me. Still, if you read and enjoy the one, you might easily enjoy the other.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ox-cart Man

Ox-cart Man by Donald Hall, pictures by Barbara Cooney

Remember when I said I was going to check this one out? Well I did.

It really is lovely.

Donald Hall is a poet. I learned this from the back flap -- the text doesn't rhyme, it is just lovely and lyrical, full of imagery and perfectly complimented by the illustrations. The story is from the oral tradition, an everyday folk tale, if you will.

The book chronicles a year in the life of the Ox-Cart Man, who lives in New England at the beginning of the nineteenth century. It starts with his preparations for going to market and comes full circle as we see the family making the goods and living daily life through the rest of the book.

There was something enchanting about it. I began to see where the book was going, but was still charmed to read on. I just loved the way this book portrays with elegance the ideas that life continues day after day, much the same one day to the next, but with small changes and little improvements that make all the difference and mark the years. The overarching theme, never stated, is that we're all working together. Taking care of the earth and taking care of each other.

I definitely recommend this book to parents and teachers who want to give children a sense of what it was like to be a child in those days -- might you spend your time gathering goose feathers or whittling birch brooms? I can see it being a wonderful follow-up to a unit on pilgrims, the revolutionary war, or the origin of our country unit. Not everyday was Thanksgiving for early Americans.  What would it be like to walk for ten days to get to the market? Would you be excited to go, or sad to leave home for so long? There is just such a richness of material here. I'm fairly dying to write it into a reader's theater.

Two thumbs up. Plus a wink and a smile.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Bits of news, and bonus pictures!

Shannon Hale signs books at the
Indianapolis Youth Literature Festival 2012
So the thing I've seen people talking about a lot this week is all those new fairy tales discovered in an archive in Germany. I read the Turnip Princess one, then a couple nights later told it to Benjamin for a bedtime story. He was riveted. There were some modifications, since I couldn't remember the whole thing and since I'm creative like that. I must say I'm excited for these. You know Shannon Hale's first book is a retelling of The Goose Girl, because that fairy tale always bugged her. So maybe she'll write 500 more books, from these. No pressure.

Alysa and Shannon Hale.  These photos sure are crummy quality.

Also Ashley emailed me, oohing and aahing over a gorgeous book called The Cloud Spinner with art by Alison Jay. I pinned it to my new "Books I want to read" board on Pinterest. We both love Alison Jay -- she did the covers for Shannon Hale's Bayern books.

This one I adjusted the saturation. Better?
I had such fun catching up with Shannon!
And in something completely unrelated to Shannon Hale (as far as I know), The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore won the Oscar for Best Animated Short. Benjamin and I just watched it together. What was his favorite part? "The books that were flying." :)



So that's the last of the Indy pictures. I already reviewed the book I had Shannon sign, Midnight in Austenland. Loved it.

I wish I could have seen Shannon's keynote at the conference. She showed me some pictures from it, (yeah, we're tight like that) and it looked awesome.  Le sigh. Next time, next time.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Books for 14-year-old Boys?

This email exchange might be helpful to some of you. Maybe you have a teenage son. Maybe you teach teen boys. Maybe you too loved the Hunger Games and want to know what to put on your reading list. Here are a few recommendations from me.

Amy says:
[My son] always has to have a book for "independent reading" in his English class. He's run out of ideas for what to read next. He's finished the entire Percy Jackson series, the Egyptian Rick Riordan series, the Hunger Games series, the Fablehaven series, and the Gregor series. Would you happen to have any ideas of what to read next for a 14 year old boy who read and liked the above books? Any suggestions you have would be great!!

"My pleasure!" I said, and responded with this list of books:

  • The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex (This one has never failed in my experience. It's set in the future, after the aliens took over our planet.)
  • I, Q: Independence Hall by Roland Smith (and it's sequel. Very quick paced action/mystery books, similar to Percy Jackson in that way and that it's a male narrator)
  • The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett (Tiny little warrior men with Scottish accents help to defeat the evil fairy queen. I particularly love this one on audiobook, if you have a car trip coming up.) 
  • The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer (Dystopian sci fi, a la hunger games)
  • Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson (Fantasy with cool science based magic systems)
  • The Year We Disappeared by Busby and Busby (nonfiction about a cop who gets shot and what the aftermath was like for his teenage kids.) 
I will stop there for now, so as not to overwhelm anyone. But I definitely have more up my sleeve.

How about you? Have you read any of the above? What books would you recommend to a 14 year old boy?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice

This is an excellent book. It won the National Book Award, is a Newbery Honor book and its list of accolades continues.

I picked it up from my local library (it was on display) because I knew I'd be meeting Phillip Hoose at the Indianapolis Children's Literature Festival.

I don't particularly love reading about the Civil Rights movement. I have great respect for the leaders of the movement, and great loathing for its opponents. It's a sensitive subject to me because it happened so recently, there are so many horrible and violent stories about/from it, and civil rights should never have been a question. I will freely admit that I have abandoned some historical fiction books set in this era  -- for some reason reading fiction about it seems so . . .  I don't know. You don't make up crap about Civil Rights. Bad stuff really happened, really. So. (That said, I have read and approve of Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, The Help, and To Kill a Mockingbird.)

I opened it up wondering if I was going to be able to finish it. Would it be saccharine? Would it be stomach-turning? Or could it hit the mark?

Alysa and Phillip Hoose, author of
Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice.
I ATE IT UP. I brought the book to the dinner table. Someone alluded to the "no books at the table" rule and I said, "Hang on a minute, she's testifying."

Claudette Colvin refused to give up her seat on the bus. She was within the bounds of the law, but outside the bounds of local culture. Did people call her "Rosa" for it? No. It was before Rosa Parks's stand and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. It very probably inspired Rosa Parks, since they became acquainted shortly after Claudette's wrongful arrest and conviction.  That's once toward justice.

Twice toward justice: She testified as a key plaintiff in Browder vs. Gayle -- the trial after the boycott that finally did the trick. She was a teen, a junior in high school when all this stuff began. Claudette's emotional journey throughout the book is the keystone in the book's arch from Jim Crow to justice.

I would read this book with kids.

I would give it to teachers, friends, and people who sometimes hate to read about Civil Rights.

Phillip Hoose;
I asked and he said it is pronounced "hose." :)
Phillip Hoose flips back and forth from his own narration to interviews with Claudette (who is still living). When I met him I told him I admired the way that he had told the facts and left out the gory details, somehow making the text true and powerful without making it overwhelming. How did he walk such a fine line so well? He said he knew Claudette would read it, and his editor. "Other eyes would be on it," he said, and he trusted them to let him know if he was balancing it right.  

Really, I can't recommend it enough. It's an excellent example of why I love Juvenile Non-fiction. I bought it.

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