Showing posts with label books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label books. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Happy Myths and Legends Day!

October 11th is Myths and Legends Day! Since the A to Z Challenge has a "Mythology and Folklore" category every year, we thought it would be appropriate to make October's post about the storytelling traditions of the world :) 

There are more and more books and online sources available for anyone who is interested in myths and legends. However, naturally, not all of them are equally detailed or useful. Whether you are looking to read something educational and entertaining, or hoping to familiarize yourself with other cultures, it is worth making sure your sources are of good quality. Especially because tradition tends to be seen as a free-for-all where people make up random stuff and try to pass it off as "ancient and authentic".

So, here are some things you might want to consider, when choosing books (or sites) to read about mythology:

1. If it is a currently existing culture with a living mythology - is the author of that culture?

Obviously, an outsider can also be an excellent researcher an expert. But it is worth seeing if there are any sources on a myth from within its native culture. For deeper knowledge and understanding, and also to support the actual community you are learning about.

2. Does the book cite primary sources?

Primary sources are either written documents from the historical era of the myths (e.g. ancient Greek and Roman authors), or tradition bearers who were interviewed and recorded. The closer you get to actual, first-hand accounts of traditional stories, the less likely they were censored, misunderstood, or deliberately altered.

3. Does the book cite sources at all?

There is nothing wrong with reading about myths just for entertainment. But personally I love books that go a little deeper than that, and actually tell me where they got the stories, and how the collection came to be. You can tell a lot from these. I once saw a folktale collection that put "I read this in a tourist brochure" among its citations... I didn't buy that book.

4. When was the book published?

Folklore and anthropology as academic fields also have their own history. Older books tend to reflect the ideologies popular at the time of their writing, and many of them decidedly did not age well. Look for terms in the book such as "primitive peoples", "superstitions", "barbaric", racial slurs, or anything that calls a group of people "simple" or "childish." If you encounter them, be vary of what they claim are "authentic" stories. Especially in the Victorian era, collectors liked to censor out "unsavory" parts.

5. Was the book written by missionaries or colonial officers?

Goes without saying, proceed with extreme caution when colonizers make claims about indigenous cultures.

6. What is the relationship of the myths to the majority culture of the country?

There are quite a few examples when a majority culture has political and ideological reasons to distort the myths and legends of minorities. If you have ever read a Soviet collection of Siberian myths, you'll notice they talk about "lying shamans that leech on the working people" suspiciously often. Or take up some Chinese collections of minority legends, and you'll see many stories ending with the glorious arrival of "the red sun." Be wary, and refer back to point 1 on this list.

7. Does the book name tradition bearers and tell us about them?

If it was not written by members of a certain culture, it is a good sign if the book pays respect to them, and the tradition bearers that carry on the myths. At least, it is great to know their names and a little about their lives; photos and sound files are even better. If the book names ways to support said community actively (or shares profits with them), that is a huge plus too.

8. Does the book acknowledge that myths and legends have many versions?

Mythology is never constant or stable. Be wary of books that claim "original" or "real" versions of stories.

I hope you find this list useful and interesting. Happy reading, and we hope to see many of you in the Mythology and Folklore category of the Challenge next year!

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Happy Book Lovers Day!

August 9th is Book Lovers Day, widely celebrated around the world (or at least on the Internet). Since a lot of our A to Z challenge participants are authors or book bloggers, we though it would be nice to acknowledge this cheerful and bookish day.



If you have a book that was born from an A to Z theme, please drop links in the comments!

To celebrate, I wanted to share my favorite reading challenge with you. There are a lot of amazing reading challenges out there - please share YOUR favorites in the comments!

The challenge I have been enjoying the most in the past years is run on a Hungarian book site ( by community members. It's called Polymath Training. Every January they announce 12 topics that participants have to read freely selected nonfiction books for. Topics range widely from astronomy to animation to church history to classical music. 11 topics are the same, the 12th is generated randomly for each participant (using Wiki articles). I have found amazing books through this challenge that I would have never found (or been interested in) otherwise, and I learned a whole lot of fascinating things about the world. Whenever I finish the list early, I usually generate some more topics for myself just for the heck of it. There really are no prizes or anything, just the adventure of discovery.

Whatever your genres and tastes are, I hope you have a great time reading today! :)

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

#atozchallenge F for Family-Friendly Fun Game Books

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter F

Guest post from Kathryn Mowers:

Hello everyone! I wanted to share how FABULOUS it is to be a 'book lady'. I get to help match FAMILIES to their FAVORITE books to FIT all of their needs! It is a wonderful way to spread literacy and get more books into the hands of children. I also really enjoyed being able to come up with the list of A to Z books, though it was hard to choose because there are so many FANTASTIC options through Usborne Books & More! I wanted to FEATURE some books with games for you today:

For the youngest gamers, "Usborne FIRST Jigsaws" is a book with eight, 2-piece jigsaw puzzles! Perfect for introducing problem solving and terminology. It comes in FARM animals, animals, and under the sea!

Usborne's "Busy Books" are great for older toddlers! They are FUN, interactive books that teach prepositional words like "around, through, over". Each page FEATURES a track that the wind-up or pull-back toy whizzes around as they explore the book! These come in several themes... bug, car, helicopter, train, bus, plane, race car, and tractor.

Preschoolers love the "Matching Games"! This set has 36 game cards, FOUR boards, and a coordinating book with FACTS and beautiful photos.  They are a great way for young children to develop recognition, memory, and communication skills. They can be used for a matching game and for bingo! This set comes in bugs, dinosaurs, and under the sea.

Getting ready for spring break or summer travel? Usborne's "Travel Games Pad" is great for long journeys or rainy days. These are ideal for school-aged children and FEATURE 200 tear-off sheets for quick games on the go! Time will pass in a FLASH!

For the FUTURE scientists and doctors, "Human Body: Book & Jigsaw Puzzle" is a 100-piece jigsaw of the human body, with a 24-page book that introduces the body systems and FUNCTION Some other options in this series include bugs, dinosaurs, and unicorns.

You can browse these titles and more here:

"Shipping only available to USA and  military bases from the provided Usborne link." - Kathryn Mowers (Consultant for the Dorner family)

Thank you, Kathryn! It's great to know there are games (our 2021 theme) mixed with books that are fun for families and children. Little readers can grow up to become bloggers one day! 

What was your favorite book as a child?

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Monday, January 28, 2019

Classic Books #MustRead or Not To Read Guest Post from Shalini of Shalzmojo

Classics - To read or not to read!!!!!

Book image header from Shalini from Shalzmojo
Hola Folks! I am Shalini from Shalzmojo blog and I love to talk about Travel and Books on my blog. I am delighted to be here and hope you will bear with me as I mull over this reading choice of mine.

I began reading books at quite an early age, much to my mother’s delight who nurtured my interest painstakingly over the years. One day she handed me a set of 12 hardbound books declaring that I was now ready for the Classics. I was quite taken by them as never before had I gotten so many books in one go. I was 12 years old at that time.

I wondered at what are Classics?

What is so special about them?

The reverence in my Mom’s voice as she pronounced the word was such that I was quite sure these were hallowed books that I was now the proud owner of.

I began my reading with Black Beauty by Anna Sewell as the blurb called out to me. And I was hooked through Little Women, Heidi, Alice in Wonderland, around the world in 80 days, Gulliver’s travels, Grimm’s fairy tales, Huckleberry Finn, and Treasure Island. Then I struggled through Ivanhoe, Three Musketeers and Kidnapped, till I ended up abandoning them. And they lay abandoned for quite a while as I shied away from more classics for quite a few years.

It was when I watched the movie Jane Austen Book Club that a lust for one such club near to me was born. The comparison of their lives vis-à-vis the Classics the protagonists were reading; was just brilliant. This was 2007 and suddenly all I wanted to read was Classics. I perused through some 50 of them in next few years, including some Shakespearean plays too. So it took me 20 years of reading other stuff before latching onto the classics.

To my joy, I discovered timelessness in the Classics. Don’t get me wrong – they are all books written a good 100 years ago and were quite ancient in traditions, language, thoughts and philosophies as expressed in them.

I found I was not bored by the dated language. On the contrary I thoroughly enjoyed the gentlemanly handling of the English language as it flowered and blossomed on each page. I found them to be quaint literary art and could relate to the themes of love, death, honour, life and faith – these are the more commonly recurring ones.

Shakespearean plays are the perfect literary examples of this era and are treasured to date for their language and themes. They are subscribed not just in school texts but so many of them have been turned into brilliant movie adaptations, world over.

Moby Dick and Black Beauty delved into the animal psyche and made them the hero in a human world. Love and honour reigned supreme in these two tales for me.

Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn were my childhood idols as I sympathised in part and cheered in part at their bravado. Destiny and luck can play such an important role in one’s life so as to turn the world literally on its head. I was very fascinated by these boys and have loved their writers for creating them with such love.

The fantasy that men yearned for is evident in many of the fantastic travel tales that were spun out by Jules Verne. My favourite is around the world in 80 days though 20,000 leagues beneath the sea is an eye opener too. The imagination of the writer is to be applauded at; for without stepping into any of those experiences, he has crafted tales of ingenuity and marvels. And here I must mention Alice in Wonderland for it’s a superbly woven tale of fantastical wonders and thrills.

Oh I did find some of them to be stiflingly archaic and fumed on the behalf of the heroine who had to endure it all. Even while some (seemingly) broke the mould; only to go back to it by choice – this baffled and tortured the feminist in me to the core. So many of the heroines chaffed at their feminine bond, yearning to be born as men to do as they pleased; yet it wasn’t to be.

The concept of hearth and home is shoved down the literary gullet of the readers where it’s the woman’s duty to ensure the family is taken care of. Oh yes! This bit was the dreariest for me to digest and I rooted for the ones who tried to be different like Jo in Little Women or Lizzy in Pride and Prejudice.

Don’t get me wrong! I am not saying it was a bigoted misogynistic world out there. It was a world still discovering many other worlds within it. Human consciousness fought such oppressions even though many were burnt at the stake for it.

Some were thought to be heretics and lunatics for the kind of texts they presented which seemed to challenge the Church. I think I would put Dracula in that category though the writer handled the topic with great reverence. Or maybe Time Machine which was far far ahead of its times too, yet today it’s read with gusto.

There is great literary magic in the Classics and for everyone who loves to read. The vantage point of telling the tale may not be in sync with the world today; either in substance or pace. But the charm of that age – whether in the architecture, language, fashion, courtship – is timeless.

I may not be able to imagine myself living in those times or even relate to the heroines and their meek, weak and chauvinistic heroes. But it does make me realise that my freedom of speech, to choose my lifestyle and to be financially independent didn’t materialise in one day. These heroines were the front runners to champion this cause and to read about it; is my biggest take away from the Classics.

Do you have a favourite Classic book that you treasure to date? What do you think you love most about them?

About Shalzmojo

An interior designer by profession, writing is a passion which coupled with travel love blossomed into this blog where I love to just “do my thing”! Be it recipes, food events, travel jaunts, fiction dreaming or even meditative musings; all of it’s taken up quite passionately on my blog. I am a serious wine guzzler and love to chase butterflies in my free time.

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Note from J:
There's a Classic Books reading challenge.
Back to the Classics 2019 reading challenge

Links provided by J Lenni Dorner, “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”:

Monday, October 22, 2018

Upcoming Schedule of Events! #AtoZChallenge Please Share This!

Upcoming Guest Posts

The following are date ranges. Exact dates in those ranges are up to the winners.
  • October (5 to 18) Debbie Stott [already posted]
  • October (19 to 31) Laura Roberts of Buttontapper Press
  • November (1 to 15) J-Dub
  • November (16 to 30) Sonia Chatterjee
  • December (1 to 15) Janet Miles of A Smile 4 U from Janet
  • December (16 to 31) Tupeak Hope
  • January (1 to 15) 2019 Wendy of Wendy's Waffle
  • January (16 to 31) 2019 Shalzmojo
  • February (1 to 14) 2019 Camille Flores
  • February (15 to 28) 2019 Tom of true north bricks [Has not responded yet, but this was the only unclaimed date.]

JANUARY 7-18 2019

First Annual #AtoZChallenge Book Reviews, Tour, and Blog Hop SIGN UP

WEEKDAYS in February 4 to 28 2019

First Annual #AtoZChallenge Book Reviews, Tour, and Blog Hop
19 days total

March 1 2019

A to Z Sign Ups OPEN
(Closes on April 6.)

March 18 2019

(Closes on March 28.)

APRIL 1 2019


Our tenth anniversary! Celebrate with us.

May 3 2019

A to Z Challenge after survey OPENS
(Closes on May 17)

May 6 2019

Reflections OPENS
(Closes on May 17)

May 20 2019

Road trip 2019 OPENS

It would be great if you could share this post to help us spread the word. Thanks!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Back to Stationery Shopping

Back to Stationery Shopping #AtoZchallenge blog post by @JLenniDorner August 2017

In my neck of the woods, it's the time of year when all the stores overflow with stationery, all of which is on sale. For parents and children, this is known as "back to school shopping."

For writers, this is known as "fueling for the addiction." (I'd tell you I'm kidding, but my wallet would disagree. Also, I have habit of sniffing... deeply inhaling... new notebooks. That scent is "the good stuff." Am I alone in this?)

Here's an A to Z stationery shopping list:
  • A is for — activity books
  • books image on the Back to Stationery Shopping #AtoZchallenge blog post by @JLenniDorner August 2017
  • B is for — books ~~~ If you enjoy reading, check these out:
Bout of Books Read-a-thon — August 21-27.
The Tackle Your TBR Read-a-thon — September 11-24
  • C is for — crayons
  • D is for — dictonary
  • dictionary image on the Back to Stationery Shopping #AtoZchallenge blog post by @JLenniDorner August 2017
  • E is for — erasers
  • F is for — flashcards
  • flashcards image on the Back to Stationery Shopping #AtoZchallenge blog post by @JLenniDorner August 2017
  • G is for — glue
  • H is for — hundreds of index cards
  • I is for — ink filled pens
  • ink filled pens image on the Back to Stationery Shopping #AtoZchallenge blog post by @JLenniDorner August 2017
  • J is for — jump drive (USB flash drive, data stick, pen drive, memory unit, key chain drive and thumb drive)
  • K is for — kicks (sneakers, tennis shoes)
  • L is for — lined paper
  • lined paper image on the Back to Stationery Shopping #AtoZchallenge blog post by @JLenniDorner August 2017
  • M is for — measuring devices (rulers, protractors)
  • N is for — notebook, spiral bound
  • O is for — object to carry books and such in (backpack)
  • P is for — pencils
  • pencils image on the Back to Stationery Shopping #AtoZchallenge blog post by @JLenniDorner August 2017
  • Q is for Quaker oatmeal, cereal, fast breakfast foods
  • R is for — reward stickers
  • reward stickers image on the Back to Stationery Shopping #AtoZchallenge blog post by @JLenniDorner August 2017
  • S is for — stapler
  • staplers with NFL teams image on the Back to Stationery Shopping #AtoZchallenge blog post by @JLenniDorner August 2017 Giants, Steelers, Eagles
  • T is for — thesaurus
  • thesaurus image on the Back to Stationery Shopping #AtoZchallenge blog post by @JLenniDorner August 2017
  • U is for — utensils
  • V is for — variety of three-ring binders
  • W is for — wireless notebook
  • wireless notebook image on the Back to Stationery Shopping #AtoZchallenge blog post by @JLenniDorner August 2017
  • X is for Xbox lunchbox
  • Y is for — yellow highlighter
  • Z is for — zit remover

I admit this alphabetical list has strayed from stationery in places.
What words might you suggest for K, Q, U, X, or Z?

Have an idea for an A to Z post? Are you a past participant who would like to be featured? Let me know!

by J Lenni Dorner
Reference and Speculative Fiction Author
A to Z Challenge Co-Host
Operation Awesome Debut Author Spotlight Organizer
Please visit the blog of @JLenniDorner Operation Awesome Debut Author Spotlight Organizer @JLenniDornerFollow @JLenniDorner on Twitter please WhatAreThey is the Facebook fan page of @JLenniDorner — Please click Like and Follow!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Books Resulting from the #AtoZchallenge

A friend of mine shared a book with me that was written because of the A to Z challenge. It contains a selection of alphabet-themed short stories that were originally written for and published on a blog during the A to Z challenge.

My own reference book was originally written as A to Z posts. This has me wondering — how many of us have books out there for sale right now that exist as a direct result of this wonderful blogging challenge?


(Links should go to Amazon, Smashwords, Goodreads, or other such websites where your A to Z book is for sale.)

What else has participation in the challenge resulted in creating? Is there artwork thanks to the challenge? Games, new recipes, or a travel itinerary perhaps? Talk about it in the comments, please!

by J Lenni Dorner
Reference and Speculative Fiction Author
A to Z Challenge Co-Host
Operation Awesome Debut Author Spotlight Organizer
Please visit the blog of @JLenniDorner Operation Awesome Debut Author Spotlight Organizer @JLenniDornerFollow @JLenniDorner on Twitter please WhatAreThey on Facebook pages

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Comics, graphic novels, and diversity

With the rise of crowdfunding, and the increased demand for diversity and representation (especially in children's and YA literature), there have been more and more artistic projects that gathered a lot of support from readers to bring that diversity to the surface. In this post, I brought you some of my recent favorites from the world of comics and graphic novels. I think they are not only great reads, but also very interesting projects that deserve more awareness.

Moonshot: The Indigenous comics collection
The first volume of this wonderful series came out last year, following a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign. It contains a collection of stories created by indigenous writers and artists from the United States and Canada. The artwork is stunning, and the stories are amazing and diverse combining several genres, styles, and emotions. The freebies and swag that came with the Kickstarter were also very much worth having (all of my bookmarks are from them). Since as a teacher I often run into students having only the vaguest idea of contemporary indigenous cultures and art, I think it is a very important (not to mention great) project to promote.
The Kickstarer for the second volume is running right now - it is not too late to jump in!

Elements: Fire (A comics anthology by creators of color)
This is the first installment of an anthology series, created by writers and artists of color, inspired by the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement. The Kickstarter just recently ended, and the book will be out soon! The artwork we have seen so far is gorgeous, the cast of stories and characters promises amazing diversity in themes, and the volume has an impressive lineup of creators. You can follow editor Taneka Stotts on Twitter for updates!

The Secret Loves of Geek Girls
Edited by Hope Nicholson (the same lady who edited Moonshot), this collection was also born with the help of Kickstarter, and contains stories about geeky love. I can honestly say that this book changed my life. There are many types of love, and many emotions contained in the stories, all presented with humor, and empathy, and great skill in artistic expression. There is also a great range of gender identities and sexualities represented; it is indeed a diverse book. Presented with pop culture references, and all things geeky.
Nicholson mentioned that there might be a "Secret Loves of Geek Boys" in the works; keep an eye on Kickstarter and her news feed!

I know it might not seem like at first blink that a lesbian BDSM romance would make this list of diverse books, but bear with me. I am the odd Internet inhabitant who knew next to nothing about BDSM subculture (other than "Fifty Shades of Grey is NOT it"), let alone read a graphic novel centered on it... And yet when I read a review on Hanna Givens' blog during her 2015 A to Z of LGBT+ comic book characters, it sounded like such a fun story, I had to check it out.
It really is. It is a great story. It is a love story, with a whole lot of awkward cuteness and humor and very real characters with very real problems and flaws. It does not sensationalize BDSM culture, and also doesn't portray it as some kind of a dark, deviant thing - it is simply something people enjoy doing. The artwork is gorgeous, and while it is definitely NSFW, it stays on the tasteful and suggestive side. It was originally posted on Deviantart (still available on there for free); Stjepan Šejić is an extremely talented artist, whose characters can show a range of emotions just by facial expression and body language.

Now this is, obviously, an incomplete and subjective selection. I encourage everyone to browse freely in the world of diverse comics and graphic novels, and let us know about YOUR favorites!

(Or maybe make an A to Z theme out of them? ;) )

Friday, September 9, 2016

New and upcoming story collections to keep an eye on

Hi All! Your resident storyteller and folktale blogger here. Since not many news sources bother with updating you on upcoming folk- and fairy tale collections, here are a few delicious new books to keep an eye out for if you (or your friends) love tales, legends, and mythology:

The Power of a Tale: Stories from the Israel Folktale Archives
A collection of 53 folktales celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Israel Folktale Archives at the University of Haifa. The stories represent 26 ethnic groups from Israel, 22 of them Jewish:  "The narrators of the stories come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and education levels. They include both men and women of various ages who worked in diverse fields. Some were long settled in Israel while others were recent arrivals when their stories were collected and transcribed. They all shared one conspicuous quality-their talent as storytellers. The stories they tell encompass a myriad of genres and themes, including mythical tales, historical legends, sacred legends, demon legends, realistic legends, märchen of various sorts, novellas, jokes and anecdotes, and personal narratives."

The book looks like a very promising collection, and a great example of diversity in the oral tradition. 

Tales of the Narts: Ancient Myths and Legends of the Ossetians
The first English edition of the Ossetian Nart corpus (published this summer), this book is full of amazing stories. The Narts are a group of legendary heroes and warriors that go on epic adventures, fight mythical monsters, and live their lives with courage, passion, and a great deal of curiosity. There has been a theory recently that the Nart sagas have been responsible for the beginnings of Arthurian legends, and while the theory is questionable for multiple reasons, they definitely have all the makings of awesome hero stories.
(I will be doing a performance of these tales in California in October, and I love working with them!)

Nart Sagas: Ancient Myths and Legends of the Circassians and Abkhazians
The second edition of this volume is now available, after a long hiatus. Like the stories in the book above, these are also tales of the Nart heroes, collected from the traditions of different Caucasian ethnic groups. Published with ample commentary, footnotes, linguistic appendices, and everything else you always wanted to know about Caucasian mythology but never thought to ask.

George Macpherson: The Old Grey Magician
One of Scotland's most famous living storytellers, George Macpherson has once again created a truly amazing book: He tracks one mysterious figure, the Grey Magician, across time and space, from legend to legend, from tale to tale, trying to find out who he is, what he wants, and how he affects events in some of the most famous Celtic traditions, such as the Fionn Cycle. If you are interested in Scottish lore or Celtic myth at all, this one is a must-read.

Happy reading to all the folklore-lovers out there!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Are you doing a Reading Challenge this year?

A to Z is a couple of months away, and your hosts are already working behind the scenes. But blogging is not the only challenge you can face this year! Since so many of our participants each year write book blogs, or plan on having reading-related themes (*raises hand*), I wanted to write about reading challenges today.

Are you doing any?
Are you planning to?
Why / why not?

I have stumbled upon this question recently through the Hungarian version of Goodreads. On that site, people can create challenges of their own, and invite others to participate. The result is literally thousands of challenges, of all shapes, sizes, and difficulty levels. Some invite you to read one specific books; some require dozens; some ask you to read something with a season in the title, etc. For completing a challenge, you earn a badge on your profile.

I am a sucker for badges.

I learned one very important thing as I got sucked into the rabbithole of reading challenges:

Pick the challenge for the book, not the other way around.
No one should read piles of books they are not interested in, just for bragging rights.
(... all right, so there are probably many people who do that.)

There have been articles floating around on social media about challenging yourself in your book diet. Some people suggested reading internationally; there is even a TED talk making the rounds, about reading one book from each country in the world. There are reading challenges focused on diversity (very important!), and my personal home turf: fairy tales and their adaptations. Emma Watson, everyone's favorite Hermione, just started a feminist book club open to everyone! Some Reading Challenges even have levels of difficulty you can pick.

Challenges are supposed to push you, and coax you outside your comfort zone. My advice, though: Be careful - you don't want reading to become a task. Those of you who are in graduate school probably do way too much of that anyway (my reading challenge is called Dissertation Lit Review...).

Go grab some books. (Yes, I'm enabling you)
Have fun.
Tell us about it!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Christmas stories to discover

Had enough of The Gift of the Magi for a lifetime, and always found The Fir Tree and The Little Match Girl sort of depressing? (Our teacher used to read them to us every Christmas in class, and I don't think I'll ever recover from it)
Here is a list of books you can explore for funny, heartwarming, less well-known, and lovable Christmas tales - most of them traditional.

Midwinter Folk Tales
Written by legendary storyteller Taffy Thomas, published in 2015. A collection full of winter tales from Taffy's own repertoire - free to tell for anyone who takes a fancy to them. He does not only include the best of his stories for the season; he also tells little anecdotes about how each story came into his possession, and what hidden importance they might have. It is an entertaining, lovely collection, written in Taffy's original voice and sense of humor.

Joy to the World: Christmas stories from around the globe
Okay, so not a recent edition, but one of my newly discovered favorites. Beautifully illustrated book, with well selected stories. I am including it with an extra recommendation because it features one of my favorite Christmas legends, the story of the Little Camel from Syria. In Syria, children who celebrate Christmas believe that their gifts are brought by the little camel that traveled with the Three Wise Men. It's one of the cutest stories ever.

Tell Me a Story for Christmas: Traveller Tales
A seasonal collection by another legendary storyteller, Scottish Traveller Duncan Williamson. Once again, not a recent edition, but many copies are still available from online stores and libraries. I highly recommend reading other books from Duncan Williamson as well; he is a huge name in the storytelling world, and did incredible work to preserve the oral traditions he grew up with.

The Other Wise Man 
Okay, so this is a more well known one, but also one of my favorites, so I will include it, in case it's new for some people. Written by Henry van Dyke in 1895, it is an original Christmas tale about Artaban, the fourth Wise Man that somehow got left behind. I love telling this story, and audiences respond to it really well. Also, there is a famous sapphire named after it. In case you like shiny things like I do.

May your days be merry, and full of books!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

'Tis The Season

'Tis the Season to Hit the Road. . .

and buy those presents!

Photo Credit

My family knows what they’re going to receive from me each Christmas. The only surprise for them is what book is hidden inside the glittery wrapping. And each season I search for both the classics and something new. I thought that since some of you might be on the hunt for book gifts I’d share what I’m considering putting under the tree. Family: DO NOT PEEK!

The Classics for young readers’ libraries

The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore
The Twelve Days of Christmas by Accord Publishing
The Elf on the Shelf by Carol Aebersold
Night Before the Night Before Christmas by Natasha Wing
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen
Olive, the Other Reindeer by J. Otto Seibold
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
Dream Snow by Eric Carle
A Wish to be a Christmas Tree by Colleen Monroe
The Christmas Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood
The Nutcracker by Alison Jay
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Reindeer Christmas by Mark Kimball Moulton
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Random House

Christmas Activity Books for the really young ones

My Very Merry Christmas Coloring and Activity Book 
Christmas Carol Activity Book, Book 2
A Very Krabby Christmas
The Berenstein Bears' Christmas Coloring and Activity Book
Christmas Is Coming
The 12 Days of Christmas: The Story behind a Favorite Christmas Song
Christmas Jigsaw Book

Some not so Christmasy ones, but great gifts for mature readers in the family

The Art of Racing in the Rain
The Book Thief
Women of the Silk and The Language of Threads (Series)
Bel Canto
The Suspect
Boy Toy
Marcelo in the Real World
The Kite Runner

Photo Credit

Merry Christmas! 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

What else did you do in April?

Today Jemima Pett, author of the Princelings of the East series, begins the first of her regular post features on the A to Z Challenge Blog.

If, like my friends, you took a bit of a break last week due to exhaustion, you may by now have forgotten everything else you did in April.  Judging by some of the Reflections posts, many people were like me - totally exhausted by keeping up the blog visiting!

The only thing I HAD to do in April were the chapter illustrations for my sixth book, Bravo Victor, which came out last week.  I thought it would be a nice relaxing thing to do in among all the blogging and visiting.  Then I got into last-minute mode - you know, when you don't have to do something yet, so you put it off?  I steeled myself and got most of them done over one weekend.  Not many writers do chapter illustrations, and sometimes I wish I hadn't started, but in the end I enjoy doing them, and I get great feedback from my readers.

Castle Marsh (c) J M Pett
They aren't great art!  More sort of scribbly sketches.  But my series is set in places I see clearly - the Princelings of the East come from Castle Marsh, which in my mind is in the UK's Norfolk Broads, somewhere between Hickling and Winterton.  It's a low lying area of reeds and cuttings filled with water, used by holiday makers who rent boats for a week to travel around and enjoy the sunshine.  We get a lot of sunshine in Norfolk!  This is Castle Marsh (the improved version, if you have the first versions of the first three books).

One I did for the new book is a view of the road from the dunes through the marsh to the castle, which captured the atmosphere I wanted exactly.

The Road to Castle Marsh (c) J M Pett
The frustrating thing about writing series is that although everyone is doing it (it seems), it gets harder to promote them as you go on.  I mean, if I see a book is part of a series, I want to start reading at the first one.  Sometimes you can enter halfway through without losing too much, but it always makes sense to go back and find out how the characters and their world arrived where they are.  I think it applies to all series, whether Suzanne Colliin's The Hunger Games, Lindsey Davies's Falco series, Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe books (I wish he hadn't done the prequels later), Harry Potter, or your favourite series.  You have to announce your new book so all your fans can leap on it (thank you!) but otherwise, the promotion effort goes into the first one or two, to attract new readers.  Is that true, do you think?

I met so many wonderful writers during this year's A to Z that I'm sure there are lots of experiences and opinions on this.  Readers, what do you think?  Have you jumped into the middle of a series? What's your favourite series, or do you prefer stand-alones? 

Jemima Pett, part of #TeamDamyanti for the 2014 A to Z Challenge
Jemima's blog  
Follow on Twitter - @jemima_pett
The Princelings website: 

Friday, April 25, 2014

V is for Vietnam

Welcome to V day happy challengers! 

I'd like to be slightly serious for a moment and share a book title with you about the Vietnam War.  To be sure, war is not a kid subject but it provides a good opportunity for kids to study the reasons and the effects of war.  The problem is, though, that sometimes the subject matter is too intense for our little ones to handle.

I found a series, mostly aimed at the younger fellows, that brings the serious subject to a level they can understand.

Vietnam: I Pledge Allegiance by Chris Lynch

Few authors write about history and war and this is just the kind of stuff young guys like to read about. Read the blurb from and see if you don't think your guy might like this:
Four best friends. Four ways to serve their country.

Morris, Rudi, Ivan, and Beck are best friends for life. So when one of the teens is drafted into the Vietnam War, the others sign up, too. Although they each serve in a different branch, they are fighting the war together--and they pledge to do all they can to come home together.

Haunted by dreams of violence and death, Morris makes it his personal mission to watch over his friends--and the best place to do that is in the US Navy. Stationed off the coast of Vietnam on the USS Boston, Morris and his fellow sailors provide crucial support to the troops on the ground.

But the Boston itself isn't safe from attack. And as Morris finds his courage and resolve tested like never before, he keeps coming back to a single thought.

He made a pledge. He must keep them safe.
What do you think? Sounds great right?  The only other author I know of that writes about this topic for the guys is Walter Dean Myers.

What do you think? Have you read anything by Chris Lynch or Walter Dean Myers?

~Pammy Pam, An Unconventional Librarian

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Announcing The Nineties Blogfest with David Black

Please join me in welcoming Ninja Captain Alex's friend, David Black. Alex participated in David's  previous blogfest celebrating the years 2000 to 2009 (The Noughties...tee hee) and recommends that we join David's next party. I for sure am in! Sounds like lots of fun, and remember, you always meet new people when you join a party!  

Nostalgia is a funny thing. We look back and time concertinas so that objects in your rear view mirror appear closer than they are. We are all a product of our past and sometimes popular culture is the only tie that bind. Last year I ran The Noughties Blogfest. I had written Review-Of-The-Year type posts of my favourite Films/TV/Music/Books/Comics etc from the years 2009 to 2000 and invited people to suggest their own favourite things from each year of the decade.

Now I've almost finished writing about the Nineties as well. So I would like to take this opportunity to invite you all to join in with The Nineties Blogfest on the 15th of October.

Choose one thing from each year from 1990 to 1999, be it a film, a TV show, a radio show, a particular episode of a TV or radio show, a piece of theatre, a book, a comic, a song, an album, a gig, a piece of artwork, something online or something else entirely, and then tell us what you love about it.

Now head on over to his house and sign up!  Tell 'em Tina and Alex sent you.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Books by Some of Our Author-friends #goodreads

 Authors help authors-- that's the way it works amongst writers and bloggers. In that spirit, here's my second post in the series of books by indie-author friends (first post here): some are books I came across, others have been recommended for mention.

 I'm adding only one link, but you can click through to the author sites for more options and also more books they've written. I've added a bit about each book, so if you see what you like, go buy it!

If you're an author-friend, or a reader who loved a recent download, leave a comment with the link to the book.

So here it goes, in no particular order: 

Shannon GrissomMonkey Made of Sockies

Want to smile? Want to giggle? Are you ready to return to your childhood? All you have to do is pick up a copy of Monkey Made of Sockies.  As soon as you see the smile on the monkey’s face, you’ll gain a smile of your own.  Each turn of the page describes why Monkey Made of Sockies is the favored toy at Grammy’s house.  The vibrant illustrations and lyrical text make reading his book a truly enjoyable experience.

                                                          Jacqueline Stone: Rising from Ashes

Living in the shadow of abuse is a dark and frightening experience that limits every area of life. This book is an invitation to come out of the shadows and into the light of Love, to heal your heart and learn to love yourself. It empowers the reader with tools for self-awareness and healing processes to become a joyful co-creator. If you're ready to heal your heart and finally know what it is to be happy, get this book.

Allan Douglas: Writing for Profit or Pleasure

Writing for Profit or Pleasure; Where to Publish Your Work, is 146 pages (paperback version), 30,000 words of concise, insightful information about where and how a writer can achieve publication of their writings. Whether you write for income or for the joy of it, whether you aspire to write on-line or for print, this book has a wealth of information to help you find and secure publication.

Joe Bunting: Let's Write a Short Story!

An eBook about the process of writing and publishing short stories. The book will guide you through the process of researching publications, writing your story, editing, and submitting your work to literary magazines. It's also a primer in how to make a career in fiction writing. If you've ever wanted to be a writer, this book will help get you started.
  • Why all the great writers started with short stories, and why you should, too.
  • How to build a fiction platform with short stories rather than just another blog.
  • How short stories are structured differently than novels. 
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This post is brought to you by Damyanti@Amlokiblogs