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Friday, May 31, 2013

MSU Young Authors' Conference Trailer

The Young Authors' Conference came up with this nifty trailer to promote the event!

For more information on the conference, check out this post.

Happy reading (and writing!)!!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

MSU Young Authors' Conference

Dear teachers, parents, and supporters of the arts in Michigan,

Michigan State's writing department - the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, & American Cultures - wants to work with you to nourish the writing skills of each Michigan student. We've organized two summer writing conferences (, led by established authors and MSU faculty, for middle school and high school students. These conferences are academic enrichment activities designed to help students achieve the learning objectives established by the Common Core State Standards Initiative ( These conferences are also fun opportunities for students to participate in Michigan's artistic community while meeting peers that share their interest in writing.

Writers, grades 5-8, can join author Merrie Haskell on June 29. This conference will include:
A reading and book signing by Merrie Haskell
Classes taught by Merrie Haskell
Short MSU faculty-led sessions about plot, style, revision, and publishing
Workshops where participants will get feedback on their own short stories

Writers, grades 8-12, can join authors Jim Hines and Mary Robinette Kowal on July 27. This conference will include:
Reading and book signing by Jim Hines and Mary Robinette Kowal
Classes taught by Jim Hines and Mary Robinette Kowal
Short MSU faculty-led sessions about plot, style, revision, and publishing
Workshops where participants will get feedback on their own short stories

The Young Authors' Conference staff requests your help in encouraging students to participate. If you know students who may be interested in attending either conference, please share this information - and the attached flyer - with them. If you are a Michigan educator, please encourage your students to attend. Applications are due by June 1 for the June 29 conference, and by July 1 for the July 27 conference.

If you or your school would like additional information regarding these conferences, please contact Kate Fedewa, the conference director, at Our conference staff would be happy to provide flyers for interested groups or to speak personally with parents, teachers, or schools about the conferences.

We're looking forward to working with you!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday 29 V 2013 - Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that are eagerly anticipated.

My "can't-wait-to-read" selection for this week is:

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Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield

Product Description:
As a boy, William Bellman commits one small, cruel act: killing a bird with his slingshot. Little does he know the unforeseen and terrible consequences of the deed, which is soon forgotten amidst the riot of boyhood games. By the time he is grown, with a wife and children of his own, William seems to be a man blessed by fortune—until tragedy strikes and the stranger in black comes. Then he starts to wonder if all his happiness is about to be eclipsed. Desperate to save the one precious thing he has left, William enters into a rather strange bargain, with an even stranger partner, to found a decidedly macabre business.

And Bellman & Black is born.

Oh my gosh, am I excited about this book. Diane Setterfield's debut novel, The Thirteenth Tale, remains one of my all time favorite books, and I've been looking forward to a follow up from her for years now. Well, just this morning I discovered that that follow up is finally being released this year and I knew what my Waiting on Wednesday selection was going to be! I'll be definitely picking this up in November.

Bellman and Black will be released on November 5, 2013, from Atria Books.

Want to preorder a copy of the book? Just click here!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Doctor Who: The Roots of Evil: Fourth Doctor by Philip Reeve

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Title: Doctor Who: The Roots of Evil: Fourth Doctor
Series: Doctor Who Fiftieth Anniversary Eshorts, #4
Author: Philip Reeve
Copyright: 2013
Pages: 40
ISBN: 9781405912129
Publisher: Puffin Books
Author Website:
Twitter: @philipreeve1, @PuffinBooks, @bbcdoctorwho, @DoctorWho_BBCA
Format: ebook
Available: 4-23-2013
Rating: 3/5 stars

Philip Reeve takes on The Fourth Doctor in this latest Eshort celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who. The Doctor takes Leela, who has been missing trees and nature, to the Heligan Structure, a genetically engineered tree that humans used to terraform uninhabited planets for their use. The Heligan Structures are basically the size of a small moon, so this is a fairly large tree.

Upon their arrival, they almost immediately encounter Ven (short for Vengeance-Will-Be-Ours-When-The-Doctor-Dies-A-Thousand-Agonizing-Deaths), a youth living in the Heligan Structure. It turns out that there is an entire colony living in the Heligan Structure and for some reason all the inhabitants of the Heligan want the Doctor dead...

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The problem here of course, is that what they are upset with Four about hasn't happened for him, as he discovers a carving of Eleven in the Heligan Structure. So Eleven was around in their past, but this hasn't happened to Four yet, who is now visiting in their future and his present. Time travel is so tricksy. The bit I didn't really like about this is that I feel that we only got half a story. It's explained, but quickly, what happened with Eleven in the past, but I still only feel like I got half a story out of the whole thing, that Four worked it out much to quickly and hence I don't really feel there was much substance to this particular Eshort. Reeve handled his portrayal of Four fine enough, but as an overall story, I think this one has been the most disappointing of the lot so far for me.
End of Spoilers!

The Fourth Doctor was portrayed by Tom Baker from 1974-81, the longest tenure of an actor as the Doctor yet. Baker's Doctor may be one of the most recognizable of the Doctors, especially in the Classic Who set, what with his long scarf and fondness for jelly babies. After Three's exile on Earth, Four took well advantage of his ability to travel in space and time and had some really grand adventures. Four was my first experience with Doctor Who when I was a kid, so he has always had a special place in my heart.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

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Title: Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch
Authors: Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Copyright: 1990
Pages: 354
ISBN: 0-575-04800-X (Current: 9780060853976)
Publisher: Workman Publishing (HarperCollins current publisher)
Author Website:,
Twitter: @neilhimself, @terryandrob, @HarperCollins
Format: Hardcover
Available: May 1, 1990
Rating: 5/5 stars
Awards: World Fantasy Award nominee for Best Novel, 1991, Locus Award nominee for Best Fantasy Novel, 1991


I love this book! I really do. It's one of those books I'll pull off the shelf every couple of years to read, and giggle all the way through each and every time, because it's just that funny. Realistically, you'd think a story about the Apocalypse really wouldn't be that funny, but the such capable hands as those of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, it's laugh out loud hysterical.

Aziraphale (the angel protecting the Garden of Eden) and Crowley (once known as Crawley, the infamous snake of Eden) have been living comfortably in modern times, having become fast friends after the whole Adam and Eve thing. When it comes time for the Apocalypse to take place, they decide to maybe try to put it off a couple more years, since they rather like living in the human world. Unfortunately, there was a mix up with the Antichrist when he was born (Warlock, who is thought to be the Antichrist, is a wildly normal young boy, while the real Antichrist, Adam Young, is living in the English countryside with his wildly normal family, not having any idea as to his true nature), and now there is a race on to find the real Antichrist before everything basically goes to hell. The Four Horsemen are trying to find the Antichrist (Pollution has replaced Pestilence since penicillin was discovered), Aziraphale and Crowley are looking for him, and meanwhile all the incredibly accurate prophecies of Agnes Nutter are coming true. And what do the Tibetans and aliens have to do with anything?

I think part of what makes the story so funny is that it doesn't try to take itself seriously at all. Gaiman and Pratchett never try to take the story farther that what it is, a comedy, and don't try to make anything really philosophical about it, so regardless of your actual beliefs or feelings about the Apocalypse, this story would be accessible to you and still funny. It is full of Gaiman and Pratchett's trademark wit and cleverness, even though it was written respectively early on in their careers, so it's not always a polished as it could be, which is also part of its charm.

If you're looking for something that you don't really need to think too much about and is funny and clever, I really can't recommend Good Omens enough. Read it. You won't be disappointed.

To purchase any of the books in this post, and help my local Indie bookstore, and help me buy more books, click the links above!

Monday, May 6, 2013

I got to meet Joe Hill!!

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This past weekend, I drove down to Dayton, OH with some friends to meet Joe Hill, who is touring for his new book, NOS4A2. I have a complete signed Joe Hill library thanks to my sister, who usually goes to his signings in Portland for me when he's on tour, but since he was close enough to me this time around, I decided to finally meet him in person. And you know what, he's awesome. And genuine. And funny. And just an all around great guy. So, thanks, Joe, for making my weekend!!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday 1 V 2013 - Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School, Book 2) by Gail Carriger

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that are eagerly anticipated.

My "can't-wait-to-read" selection for this week is:

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Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School, Book 2) by Gail Carriger

Product Description:

Does one need four fully grown foxgloves for decorating a dinner table for six guests? Or is it six foxgloves to kill four fully grown guests?

Sophronia's first year at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality has certainly been rousing! For one thing, finishing school is training her to be a spy (won't Mumsy be surprised?). Furthermore, Sophronia got mixed up in an intrigue over a stolen device and had a cheese pie thrown at her in a most horrid display of poor manners.

Now, as she sneaks around the dirigible school, eavesdropping on the teachers' quarters and making clandestine climbs to the ship's boiler room, she learns that there may be more to a school trip to London than is apparent at first. A conspiracy is afoot--one with dire implications for both supernaturals and humans. Sophronia must rely on her training to discover who is behind the dangerous plot-and survive the London Season with a full dance card.

In this sequel to bestselling author Gail Carriger's YA debut
Etiquette & Espionage, class is back in session with more petticoats and poison, tea trays and treason. Gail's distinctive voice, signature humor, and lush steampunk setting are sure to be the height of fashion this season.

I adore Ms. Carriger's books. Her Parasol Protecorate books are clever and laugh-out-loud funny, and she has brought that same flair to her Finishing School books as well.

Curtsies & Conspiracies will be released on November 5, 2013, from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

Want to preorder a copy of the book? Just click here!