Monday, August 24, 2015

Is This Thing On?

If anyone still comes here, I'm over at Project Mayhem for the last time in a while today, so please stop by if you have a moment.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Blazing Courage over at Project Mayhem

I'm actually blogging today! Can you believe it? I know, I know. Don't get me started.

Please just drop on by Project Middle Grade Mayhem, and take a gander at my post about Kelly Milner Halls' debut MG novel, Blazing Courage.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

10 Truths from Chicago Land

1) Christa Desir is the best hugger I have ever met. Seriously. I had formerly considered myself the master of the long, poignant embrace, but she killed me. With style and grace.

2) Ted Goeglein is a certified bad ass. Richard Price would call him a Do Anything Soldier. A Dolja.

3) Andrew Smith is the most sensitive man I know. I love this man.

4) Carrie Mesrobian is my TV Show soulmate. She writes exactly the kind of books I love to read.

5) Amy Del Rosso does not know quite how awesome she is. She also bows out way too early.

6) I love Chicago. Chicago rain tastes like sweet summer wine.

7) Christa called me a really talented writer when she introduced me to her friend. I did not know whether to pump my fist or cry.

8) Twitter is like the lunch room in middle school: the worst of humanity, and the world's most evil and terrifying place (now trumping the former champion, Goodreads).

9) Sabaa Tahir is really fucking sharp.

10) Book people are the best people in the world.

Sadly: I forgot to get a photo with Ted.
Sadly: I also forgot to get a new photo with Andrew.
Happily: here is me and Christa and Carrie:

Bonus: John Green, the sly bastard, somehow managed to photobomb my selfie:

Monday, May 4, 2015

2015 A to Z Blogging Challenge Reflections

The A to Z Reflections Post is a post presented on your own blog site giving the A to Z Team, the other Challenge participants, and any other readers your thoughts about this year's April Challenge.

We are looking for feedback about the Challenge. Tell us what you liked and didn't like, what worked and what didn't. If you have suggestions about making future A to Z Challenges better, this is a good time to let us know. You can highlight other bloggers who you felt did an outstanding job or direct us to specific posts that particularly impressed you or that you found to be very helpful.

In other words, we want to know how the A to Z Team did and how the Challenge worked for you. If you'd do it again, tell us why. If you would never consider A to Z again, let us know what would make you feel that way.

Please put up your Reflections post between now and Friday, May 8. AFTER your post has gone live, add the link to the Linky List below. Enter the link that goes DIRECTLY to your Reflections post and not your general blog address. The list will be accessible for the remainder of this year. Be sure to grab the badge.

The list is intended for A to Z Reflections posts only. Any links to advertising sites or non-relevant posts will be removed from the list. General links added before you actually post will be removed. And remember that these posts will be directed to a diverse audience of varying ages and sensibilities so please respect others by refraining from posting obscene materials or hurtful attacks upon others. We want a productive interchange of ideas that can lead to positive innovation.

Add your name to the list below!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

A to Z Challenge 2015: Z - World War Z

This is it! The final day.

The final letter.

Today's 2015 April A to Z Blogging Challenge story for the letter Z:

World War Z

Here's the summary from IMDB:

United Nations employee Gerry Lane traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments, and threatening to destroy humanity itself.

Director: Marc Forster
Writers: Matthew Michael Carnahan (screenplay), Drew Goddard (screenplay), Max Brooks (novel)
Stars: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz

That's it! You made it! Congratulations!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A to Z Challenge 2015: Y - Yummy

Almost there!

Only one more day!

If you've made it this far, you might as well start celebrating.

This is a graphic novel I haven't actually read yet, but I've read other volumes of Neri's work, and he's a very talented author.

So, today's 2015 April A to Z Blogging Challenge story for the letter Y:


Here is the summary, from Goodreads:

In August of 1994, 11-year-old Robert “Yummy” Sandifer — nicknamed for his love of sweets — fired a gun at a group of rival gangmembers, accidentally killing a neighborhood girl, Shavon Dean. Police searched Chicago’s southside for three days before finding Yummy dead in a railway tunnel, killed by members of the drug gang he’d sought to impress. The story made such an impact that Yummy appeared on the cover of TIME magazine, drawing national attention to the problems of inner city youth in America.

Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty relives the confusion of these traumatic days from the point of view of Roger, a neighborhood boy who struggles to understand the senseless violence swirling through the streets around him. Awakened by the tragedy, Roger seeks out answers to difficult questions — was Yummy a killer or a victim? Was he responsible for his actions or are others to blame?

Author: G. Neri

That's it! Please come back tomorrow for the final day!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A to Z Challenge 2015: X - X-Men

Only two more letters left!

If you've made it this far: congrats! X is one of the hardest letters, so here goes...

I remember when the first X-Men movie came out. Huge comic fans as kids, we'd grown out of it a bit by then, but my roommate Nate and I caught it in the theater opening night. At the Cinerama in Seattle.

With a star-studded cast, headlined by the incredible pair of Captain Jean Luc Picard and Gandalf Stormcrow the Grey Pilgrim, it was everything we'd hoped it would be.

So today's 2015 April A to Z Blogging Challenge story for the letter X:


Here is the summary, from IMDB:

Two mutants come to a private academy for their kind whose resident superhero team must oppose a terrorist organization with similar powers.

Director: Bryan Singer
Writers: Tom DeSanto (story), Bryan Singer (story), David Hayter (screenplay)
Stars: Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen

That's it! Only two more days to go.

Monday, April 27, 2015

A to Z Challenge 2015: W - The Walking Dead

Welcome to the final week of the Challenge!

If you've made it this far, congrats! You're practically done.

Originally a comic book series of the same name by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard, The Walking Dead is one of AMC's most popular TV productions ever.

After Mad Men, and Breaking Bad, that channel is really on a roll.

So, today's 2015 April A to Z Blogging Challenge story for the letter W:

The Walking Dead

Here's the summary, from IMDB:

Sheriff's Deputy Rick Grimes leads a group of survivors in a world overrun by zombies.

Creator: Frank Darabont
Stars: Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Steven Yuen, Melissa McBride, Lauren Cohan, Danai Gurira

Too many writers and directors to include, I guess.

That's it! Please come back tomorrow.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

A to Z Challenge 2015: V - Iron Hearted Violet

Happy Saturday Challengers!

Break tomorrow, and then there are only 4 letters left!

Any of you who have made it this far should be very proud of yourselves!

I've blogged about this book before, and I do love it, but I also think this is the first truly Middle Grade novel I've mentioned in this year's challenge.

Today's 2015 April A to Z Blogging Challenge story for the letter V:

Iron Hearted Violet

Here is the summary from Goodreads:

The end of their world begins with a story.
This one.

In most fairy tales, princesses are beautiful, dragons are terrifying, and stories are harmless. This isn’t most fairy tales.

Princess Violet is plain, reckless, and quite possibly too clever for her own good. Particularly when it comes to telling stories. One day she and her best friend, Demetrius, stumble upon a hidden room and find a peculiar book. A forbidden book. It tells a story of an evil being—called the Nybbas—imprisoned in their world. The story cannot be true—not really. But then the whispers start. Violet and Demetrius, along with an ancient, scarred dragon, may hold the key to the Nybbas’s triumph . . . or its demise. It all depends on how they tell the story. After all, stories make their own rules.

Iron Hearted Violet is a story of a princess unlike any other. It is a story of the last dragon in existence, deathly afraid of its own reflection. Above all, it is a story about the power of stories, our belief in them, and how one enchanted tale changed the course of an entire kingdom.

Author: Kelly Barnhill

That's it! Enjoy your day off tomorrow.

Friday, April 24, 2015

A to Z Challenge 2015: U - Underworld

Happy Friday everyone!

Only a few more days to go.

Won't it feel like such an accomplishment once you make it? I know it will for me.

First of the Underworld series, this 2003 release introduced me to the gorgeous Kate Beckinsale, and made vampires cool and dark and mysterious again.

So today's 2015 April A to Z Blogging Challenge story for the letter U:


Here is the summary from IMDB:

Selene, a beautiful vampire warrior, entrenched in a war between the vampire and werewolf races. Although she is aligned with the vampires, she falls in love with Michael, a human who is sought by werewolves for unknown reasons.

Director: Len Wiseman
Writers: Kevin Grevioux (story), Len Wiseman (story), Danny McBride (story & screenplay)
Stars: Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Shane Brolly

That's it! Only one more day until the final break.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A to Z Challenge 2015: T - The Book Thief

Ack! I can't believe this post didn't go up as scheduled.

I would have been a co-host without a post if I hadn't noticed!

What would they do with me?

Probably nothing. FWIW, if any of you challengers do miss a post, don't panic. We don't kick anybody off the list unless they have missed several posts in a row, and don't respond to any of our reminders.

If you get behind, just try to get caught up!

Today's 2015 April A to Z Blogging Challenge story for the letter T:

The Book Thief

This is one of my all time favorite novels, written in hauntingly beautiful prose, and told by one of the most memorable narrators ever.

Here is the summary, from Goodreads:


1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier.

Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with a foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs begin to fall.


It's a small story, about:

a girl

an accordionist

some fanatical Germans

a Jewish fist fighter

and quite a lot of thievery.


Author: Marcus Zusak

That's it! Please come back for U tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A to Z Challenge 2015: S - Silence of the Lambs

Another story that's actually a great novel and a great film!

Today's 2015 April A to Z Blogging Challenge story for the letter S:

Silence of the Lambs

Here is the novel summary, from Goodreads:

There's a killer on the loose who knows that beauty is only skin deep, and a trainee investigator who's trying to save her own hide. The only man that can help is locked in an asylum. But he's willing to put a brave face on - if it will help him escape.

Author: Thomas Harris

And from IMDB:

A young F.B.I. cadet must confide in an incarcerated and manipulative killer to receive his help on catching another serial killer who skins his victims.

Interesting to see the difference, eh?

Director: Jonathan Demme
Writers: Thomas Harris (novel), Ted Tally (screenplay)
Stars: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Lawrence A. Bonney

This week was really difficult! Not because S is a hard letter to find a story for, but because it's so hard to pick one from so many great ones. Here are some of the stories I could have just as easily featured:

Star Wars, by George Lucas

Stick, by Andrew Smith

Shameless, a Showtime Production for TV

Serenity, by Joss Whedon

Spirited Away, bu Hayao Miyazaki

Better Call Saul, an AMC Production for TV

Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi

Sex & Violence, by Carrie Mesrobian

Servants of the Storm, by Delilah S. Dawson

That's it! Hope to see you tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A to Z Challenge 2015: R - Railsea

Happy Tuesday!

I'm really running out of things to say in this section, so let's just get right to it.

Today's 2015 April A to Z Blogging Challenge story for the letter R:


An awesome, otherworldly re-imagination of Moby Dick, in a way, Railsea is mind-bendingly original, and still keeps me up at night as a storyteller years later.

Here is the summary, from Goodreads:

On board the moletrain Medes, Sham Yes ap Soorap watches in awe as he witnesses his first moldywarpe hunt: the giant mole bursting from the earth, the harpoonists targeting their prey, the battle resulting in one’s death and the other’s glory. But no matter how spectacular it is, Sham can't shake the sense that there is more to life than traveling the endless rails of the railsea–even if his captain can think only of the hunt for the ivory-coloured mole she’s been chasing since it took her arm all those years ago. When they come across a wrecked train, at first it's a welcome distraction. But what Sham finds in the derelict—a series of pictures hinting at something, somewhere, that should be impossible—leads to considerably more than he'd bargained for. Soon he's hunted on all sides, by pirates, trainsfolk, monsters and salvage-scrabblers. And it might not be just Sham's life that's about to change. It could be the whole of the railsea.

Author: China Mieville

That's it! Hope to see you tomorrow.

Monday, April 20, 2015

A to Z Challenge 2015: Q - Don Quixote

Welcome back to the Challenge!

We are getting close.

This is the final stretch.

For those of you who made it this far: congratulations!

Today's 2015 April A to Z Blogging Challenge story for the letter Q:

Don Quixote

Here is the summary, from Goodreads:

Don Quixote has become so entranced by reading chivalric romances, that he determines to become a knight-errant himself. In the company of his faithful squire, Sancho Panza, his exploits blossom in all sorts of wonderful ways. While Quixote's fancy often leads him astray – he tilts at windmills, imagining them to be giants – Sancho acquires cunning and a certain sagacity. Sane madman and wise fool, they roam the world together, and together they have haunted readers' imaginations for nearly four hundred years.

With its experimental form and literary playfulness, Don Quixote generally has been recognized as the first modern novel. The book has had enormous influence on a host of writers, from Fielding and Sterne to Flaubert, Dickens, Melville, and Faulkner, who reread it once a year, "just as some people read the Bible."

Author: Miguel de Cervantes

Man, I haven't read this one since college. I think I'll give it another go sometime soon.

That's it! Come back tomorrow.

And for something a little special, here's Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, by Pablo Picasso:

"Donquixote". Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia -

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A to Z Challenge 2015: P - The Princess Bride

Happy Saturday!

I almost didn't get this post done in time.

Today's 2015 April A to Z Blogging Challenge story for the letter P:

The Princess Bride

Here is the summary, from IMDB:

While home sick in bed, a young boy's grandfather reads him a story called The Princess Bride.

Director: Rob Reiner
Writers: William Goldman (book), William Goldman (screenplay)
Stars: Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Robin Wright

What a terrible summary! That doesn't describe the story at all.

That's it! Enjoy your day off tomorrow.

Friday, April 17, 2015

A to Z Challenge 2015: O - Office Space

Only one more day before a day off!


I have visited so many blogs this week.

Not as many as the first week, but close.

I still see a few people not posting, so hopefully everyone will get caught up!

Anyway, today's story is one of the funniest films of the 90s. Already well known for Beavis and Butthead, Mike Judge really put his film career on the map with Office Space. If you haven't seen it, you are seriously missing out.

So today's 2015 April A to Z Blogging Challenge story for the letter O:

Office Space

Here is the summary from IMDB:

Three company workers who hate their jobs and decide to rebel against their greedy boss.

Director: Mike Judge
Writers: Mike Judge (Milton animated shorts), Mike Judge (screenplay)
Stars: Ron Livingston, Jennifer Aniston, David Herman

That's it! Please come back tomorrow.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A to Z Challenge 2015: N - Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

Welcome to the second half of the Challenge!

How many of you are left? I have come across a lot of blogs who have given up or who never even started!

Don't forget: if you don't keep your posts up to date, you will eventually be deleted from the list.

Anyway, today's story is my third Hayao Miyazaki film! In case you couldn't tell, I can't get enough of Mayazaki movies. This one is technically pre Studio Ghibli, but it's been re-released by now.

Today's 2015 April A to Z Blogging Challenge story for the letter N:

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

This one was actually a Manga first, also written by Miyazaki-san, and was then adapted into an animated feature film. Not his first film ever, but probably considered by most to be his breakthrough.

Here is the summary from IMDB:

Warrior/pacifist Princess Nausicaä desperately struggles to prevent two warring nations from destroying themselves and their dying planet.

Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Writers: Hayao Miyazaki (manga), Hayao Miyazaki (screenplay)
Stars: Sumi Shimamoto, Mahito Tsujimura, Hisako Kyôda

That's it! Please come back tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A to Z Challenge 2015: M - A Monster Calls/Princess Mononoke

Hump day again!

Today I have something special for you.

I couldn't pick just one story for the letter M, so I picked two! My two favorites.

First is another Patrick Ness novel, which in case the story itself wasn't already poignant enough, is a tale he wrote finishing an idea a friend and fellow writer of his, Siobhan Dowd, had before she died.

Is that something in my eye?

Today's first 2015 April A to Z Blogging Challenge story for the letter M:

A Monster Calls

Here is the summary, from Goodreads:

The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.

But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting. He's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming...

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth.

Author: Patrick Ness (from an original idea by Siobhan Dowd)

. . .

But like I said, today I have something special for you.

Two stories!

A book by one of my favorite authors, and a film by my favorite writer and director of animated features, the legend, Hayao Miyazaki.

Not only is Princess Mononoke a great film, it is, in my humble opinion, Miyazaki-san's greatest achievement. I did a list of my favorite Miyazaki films a while back on this blog, you can find it on my series page.

Anyway, how is your challenge going? I actually got behind on posting, and I've slowed down a little with my visiting, but I'm otherwise still going steady.

Today's second 2015 April A to Z Blogging Challenge story for the letter M:

Princess Mononoke

Here is the summary, from IMDB:

On a journey to find the cure for a Tatarigami's curse, Ashitaka finds himself in the middle of a war between the forest gods and Tatara, a mining colony. In this quest he also meets San, the Mononoke Hime.

Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Writer: Hayao Miyazaki
Stars: Billy Crudup, Billy Bob Thornton, Claire Danes

Isn't it interesting how the summaries for movies are always so much shorter than the summaries for books? That's it! Please come back tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A to Z Challenge 2015: L - Laputa

Happy Tuesday!

We're getting close to the half way mark!

Are you hitting your stride yet? My posting is going great, of course, but my blog visiting has been up and down.

So ... technically, as you can probably tell from the poster, this animated feature film is called Castle in the Sky, at least in the US released version.

The original title though is Laputa, or at least some kind of Japanese translation of that. It comes, of course, from the flying island described in the 1726 book Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift.

Today's 2015 April A to Z Blogging Challenge story for the letter L:


Here is the summary, from IMDB:

A young boy and a girl with a magic crystal must race against pirates and foreign agents in a search for a legendary floating castle.

Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Writer: Hayao Miyazaki
Stars: Anna Paquin, James Van Der Beek, Cloris Leachman

That's it! Please come back tomorrow.

Monday, April 13, 2015

A to Z Challenge 2015: K - The Knife of Never Letting Go

Welcome to week three!

Or ... week two and a half!

How was your day off?

I had to work, so it was really only a day off from the challenge for me.

Patrick Ness is an American born author living in the UK. Known mainly for A Monster Calls, the Chaos Walking trilogy was how I was introduced to his work.

Today's 2015 April A to Z Blogging Challenge story for the letter K:

The Knife of Never Letting Go

Here is the summary, from Goodreads:

Prentisstown isn't like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else's thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee -- whose thoughts Todd can hear too, whether he wants to or not -- stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden -- a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives.

Authors: Patrick Ness

That's it! Please come back tomorrow!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A to Z Challenge 2015: J - Jaws

Happy Saturday everyone!

Enjoy your day off tomorrow.

I think I have visited 750 blogs at this point. How many have you made it to? Is anyone feeling burnt out yet? Try not to get discouraged. Write your posts as far ahead of time as you can, so you'll leave more time for visiting and reading.

Today we have the letter J. And for my theme, yet another movie.

One of the greatest films from Hollywood's classic era, this is probably the film that made Steven Spielberg a household name. It was certainly his first breakout success.

Today's 2015 April A to Z Blogging Challenge story for the letter H:


It's been a while, but I have seen this movie many times, and it is a clinic in suspense.

Here is the summary from IMDB:

When a gigantic great white shark begins to menace the small island community of Amity, a police chief, a marine scientist and grizzled fisherman set out to stop it.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Writers: Peter Benchley, Carl Gottlieb
Stars: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss

That's it! Please come back tomorrow.

Friday, April 10, 2015

A to Z Challenge 2015: I - In Darkness

TGIF Challengers!

Only one more day to go before our Sunday break.

Today we have the the letter I. I could have gone with Interstellar, or maybe I'll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson, but I haven't actually gotten around to reading that one yet.

In Darkness, by Nick Lake won the Michael L. Printz award for 2013, as well as a nomination for the Carnegie Medal in Literature.

Today's 2015 April A to Z Blogging Challenge story for the letter I:

In Darkness

So authentic and details it feels more like a biography than a fictional tale, In Darkness is a masterful accomplishment.

Here is the summary from Goodreads:

In darkness I count my blessings like Manman taught me. One: I am alive. Two: there is no two. In the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake a boy is trapped beneath the rubble of a ruined hospital: thirsty, terrified and alone. 'Shorty' is a child of the slums, a teenage boy who has seen enough violence to last a lifetime, and who has been inexorably drawn into the world of the gangsters who rule Site Soleil: men who dole out money with one hand and death with the other. But Shorty has a secret: a flame of revenge that blazes inside him and a burning wish to find the twin sister he lost five years ago. And he is marked. Marked in a way that links him with Toussaint L'Ouverture, the Haitian rebel who two-hundred years ago led the slave revolt and faced down Napoleon to force the French out of Haiti. As he grows weaker, Shorty relives the journey that took him to the hospital, a bullet wound in his arm. In his visions and memories he hopes to find the strength to survive, and perhaps then Toussaint can find a way to be free ...

Author: Nick Lake

That's it! Please come back tomorrow!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A to Z Challenge 2015: H - Heat

H is the eighth letter of the alphabet, which means we're almost third of the way done!

Are you keeping up? Have you missed any posts? I hope everyone is enjoying the challenge, and meeting lots of new bloggers. That's the idea, anyway.

Today we have the letter H. And for my theme, we have another feature film.

With a star-studded cast, and a brilliant script, Heat is a classic 1990s crime drama, that features great performances from both De Niro and Pacino, in the one films they made together that wasn't terrible.

Today's 2015 April A to Z Blogging Challenge story for the letter H:


Here is the summary from IMDB:

A group of professional bank robbers start to feel the heat from police when they unknowingly leave a clue at their latest heist.

Director: Michael Mann
Writer: Michael Mann
Stars: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer

That's it! Please come back tomorrow.

NOTE: Today is my day to post at the A to Z Challenge main blog. Please drop by and read my Post for H.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A to Z Challenge 2015: G - Grasshopper Jungle

Happy Hump Day!

Today we have the seventh letter, the letter G. This story is slated to be adapted into a film by Sony Pictures, written by Scott Rosenberg and directed by Edgar Wright, but today I'll be focusing on the novel.

This novel won both the Horn Book Award, and a Michael L. Printz honor, which I don't believe has ever happened before. An instant classic, this book has rocked publishing with its courage to take a truly honest look at male adolescence.

Today's 2015 April A to Z Blogging Challenge story for the letter G:

Grasshopper Jungle

This is perhaps my favorite YA novel ever written. Weird, wonderful, raunchy, and raw, Grasshopper Jungle is the strangest story, with the most authentic boy voice teen narrator I have ever read. It's disturbing, and hilarious, and it is a tale whose stark beauty and breathtaking honesty I will never forget.

Here is the summary from Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old Austin Szerba interweaves the story of his Polish legacy with the story of how he and his best friend, Robby, brought about the end of humanity and the rise of an army of unstoppable, six-foot tall praying mantises in small-town Iowa.

To make matters worse, Austin's hormones are totally oblivious; they don't care that the world is in utter chaos: Austin is in love with his girlfriend, Shann, but remains confused about his sexual orientation. He's stewing in a self-professed constant state of maximum horniness, directed at both Robby and Shann. Ultimately, it's up to Austin to save the world and propagate the species in this sci-fright journey of survival, sex, and the complex realities of the human condition.

Author: Andrew Smith

That's it! Please come back tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A to Z Challenge 2015: F - Firefly

Happy Tuesday! Are you getting into the swing of things yet? I've visited over 500 blogs so far!

What's the best new blog you've discovered so far? I hope you have found at least one that you will continue reading after the challenge is over.

Today we have the sixth letter, the letter F. And for my theme, we have another TV Show.

I was very late to the Firefly party! I did not see it until years after it had been aired, and the film was already out. I'm told this makes me very lucky.

Today's 2015 April A to Z Blogging Challenge story for the letter F:


A cult classic, a fan favorite, cancelled before it's time, Firefly is one of the best shows with the greatest casts to ever make it to TV. Now having achieved legendary status, many browncoats still wonder what might have been.

Here is the summary from IMDB:

Five hundred years in the future, a renegade crew aboard a small spacecraft tries to survive as they travel the unknown parts of the galaxy and evade warring factions as well as authority agents out to get them.

Creator: Joss Whedon
Stars: Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk

That's it! Please come back tomorrow.

Monday, April 6, 2015

A to Z Challenge 2015: E - The Empire Strikes Back

Welcome to the second week of the 2015 April A to Z Blogging Challenge! I hope you survived your first week.

Have you made any new friends? Followed any new blogs? I hope you discover at least one new blog you love during the challenge. That's kind of the point.

Today we have the fifth letter, the letter E. And for my theme, we have the first feature film.

I have been a Star Wars fanatic for as long as I can remember! No the prequels do not exist for me. Yes, I also love A New Hope, and I was just going to do Star Wars in general for the letter S, but I have so many other stories for that letter.

Today's 2015 April A to Z Blogging Challenge story for the letter E:

The Empire Strikes Back

Probably one of the great Science-Fiction (or Science-Fantasy, if you prefer) films ever made, The Empire Strikes back came out when I was three years old, and has lived in my imagination ever since. Most of you have probably seen it, so I'll get on with it.

Here is the summary from IMDB:

After the rebels have been brutally overpowered by the Empire on their newly established base, Luke Skywalker takes advanced Jedi training with Master Yoda, while his friends are pursued by Darth Vader as part of his plan to capture Luke.

Director: Irvin Kershner
Writers: Leigh Brackett (screenplay), Lawrence Kasdan (screenplay), George Lucas (story)
Stars: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher

That's it! Please come back tomorrow.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

A to Z Challenge 2015: D - The Drowned Cities

Happy Saturday! Here we are in the first weekend of the 2015 April A to Z Blogging Challenge, with tomorrow being our first day off! Did you survive the first week? Have you been having lots of fun? I have.

Today we have the fourth letter, the letter D. This is the fourth story in my theme, and it's another novel. This novel is the second in the series that started with Ship Breaker, which was the 2011 Michael L. Printz award winner for the best YA novel.

The Drowned Cities is a dark but brilliantly written tale, which follows a different protagonist than Nailer from Ship Breaker, albeit in the same post-apocalyptic world, and with a similar companion.

Today's 2015 April A to Z Blogging Challenge story for the letter D:

The Drowned Cities

Here is the summary from Goodreads:

Soldier boys emerged from the darkness. Guns gleamed dully. Bullet bandoliers and scars draped their bare chests. Ugly brands scored their faces. She knew why these soldier boys had come. She knew what they sought, and she knew, too, that if they found it, her best friend would surely die.

In a dark future America where violence, terror, and grief touch everyone, young refugees Mahlia and Mouse have managed to leave behind the war-torn lands of the Drowned Cities by escaping into the jungle outskirts. But when they discover a wounded half-man--a bioengineered war beast named Tool--who is being hunted by a vengeful band of soldiers, their fragile existence quickly collapses. One is taken prisoner by merciless soldier boys, and the other is faced with an impossible decision: Risk everything to save a friend, or flee to a place where freedom might finally be possible.

This thrilling companion to Paolo Bacigalupi's highly acclaimed Ship Breaker is a haunting and powerful story of loyalty, survival, and heart-pounding adventure.

Author: Paolo Bacigalupi

Apparently the publisher doesn't consider it a sequel, but rather a companion book. I suppose I can agree with that.

That's it! Be sure to visit my A to Z Challenge 2015 Assistants: Sylvie from Life from An Optimist's Point of View, and Carrie-Anne Brownian/Ursula Hartlein from Welcome to My Magick Theatre, and enjoy your day off tomorrow!

Friday, April 3, 2015

A to Z Challenge 2015: C - A Clockwork Orange

Here we are in the third day of the 2015 April A to Z Blogging Challenge! Have you been enjoying yourself? Have you been discovering lots of new blogs? I have.

Today we have the third letter, the letter C. This is the third story in my theme, and while it does have a film adaptation, I'll be focusing on the novel.

This is a story written over 50 years ago, that is still relevant and often talked about today. A modern classic, it's a dystopian novel written before dystopian novels were all the rage (but certainly not before they were a thing).

Today's 2015 April A to Z Blogging Challenge story for the letter C:

A Clockwork Orange

I haven't read A Clockwork Orange in probably twenty years, but I remember being as compelled by it as I was shocked. It's not a very nice story, disturbing and disgusting as it is in equal turns, but it is an important one, and a tale well told.

Here is the summary from Goodreads:

A vicious fifteen-year-old "droog" is the central character of this 1963 classic, whose stark terror was captured in Stanley Kubrick's magnificent film of the same title.

In Anthony Burgess's nightmare vision of the future, where criminals take over after dark, the story is told by the central character, Alex, who talks in a brutal invented slang that brilliantly renders his and his friends' social pathology. A Clockwork Orange is a frightening fable about good and evil, and the meaning of human freedom. When the state undertakes to reform Alex—to "redeem" him—the novel asks, "At what cost?"

Author: Anthony Burgess

That's it! From here on out we'll have novels, TV shows, films, and maybe even a graphic novel or manga or two. Be sure to visit my A to Z Challenge 2015 Assistants: Sylvie from Life from An Optimist's Point of View, and Carrie-Anne Brownian/Ursula Hartlein from Welcome to My Magick Theatre, and come back tomorrow!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

A to Z Challenge 2015: B - Breaking Bad

Welcome to the second day of the 2015 April A to Z Blogging Challenge! I hope your first day went wonderfully. Mine certainly did.

Today we have the second letter, the letter B. And for my theme, we have the second TV show in a row.

I'm not really very surprised, since we are in a golden age of television. I will most likely include a few other TV shows in this list, so pay attention, and see if you agree with my choices.

Today's 2015 April A to Z Blogging Challenge story for the letter B:

Breaking Bad

In my opinion, this is probably the greatest television show ever produced. The writing, the acting, the cinematography, all are absolutely phenomenal. If you haven't seen it, I strongly encourage you to get caught up.

Here is the summary from IMDB:

A chemistry teacher diagnosed with a terminal lung cancer, teams up with his former student, Jesse Pinkman, to cook and sell crystal meth.

Creator: Vince Gilligan
Stars: Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn

That's it for today! Nice and short when it's a TV show only. Be sure to visit my A to Z Challenge 2015 Assistants: Sylvie from Life from An Optimist's Point of View, and Carrie-Anne Brownian/Ursula Hartlein from Welcome to My Magick Theatre, and now I'm off to make it through as much of my part of the list as I can!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A to Z Challenge 2015: A - A Song of Ice and Fire/A Game of Thrones

Happy April 1st, all you amazing A to Z Challangers! Today is the official beginning of the 2015 April A to Z Blogging Challenge, so welcome, welcome one and all!

As I revealed in my theme reveal, I'm switching it up a bit from the themes I have used in the past, and just focusing on great stories.

I like to focus more on visiting new blogs and meeting new bloggers than I do on my own posts, so I'll be keeping mine short and sweet, and just sharing a few details about some of my favorite stories that correspond with the letter of the day. So here we are, today's 2015 April A to Z Blogging Challenge story for the letter A:

A Song of Ice and Fire/A Game of Thrones

Technically, the name of the whole series is A Song of Ice and Fire. A Game of Thrones is the name of the first volume in the series, but Game of Thrones is also the title of the TV adaptation, so I've included it in the title of this post to avoid any confusion.

I love this story, obviously, but these challenge posts are the place to really go off about why, so I'll just include the plot synopsis from Wikipedia:

The story of A Song of Ice and Fire takes place in a fictional world in which seasons last for years on end. Centuries before the events of the first novel (see backstory), the Seven Kingdoms on the continent Westeros had been united under the Targaryen dynasty. As A Game of Thrones begins, it has been 15 years since the feudal lords led by Robert Baratheon killed the last Targaryen ruler and made Robert king.

The principal story chronicles a power struggle for the Iron Throne of Westeros after King Robert's death in A Game of Thrones. Robert's son Joffrey immediately claims the throne with the support of his mother's family, House Lannister. When Lord Eddard Stark, King Robert's "Hand" (chief advisor) discovers that Joffrey and his siblings are the offspring of incest by siblings Jaime and Cersei Lannister, Eddard is executed for treason and Robert's brothers Stannis and Renly lay separate claims to the throne. Several regions of Westeros attempt self-rule: Eddard Stark's eldest son Robb is proclaimed King in the North, while Balon Greyjoy re-establishes an independent Kingdom in his region, the Iron Islands. This so-called 'War of the Five Kings' is in full progress by the middle of the second book, A Clash of Kings.

The second story takes place on the northern border of Westeros, where an eight-thousand-year-old wall of ice defends Westeros from the Others. The Wall's sentinels, the Sworn Brotherhood of the Night's Watch protect the realm of Westeros (land of the seven kingdoms), whereas the "Free Folk" or "wildlings" are humans living north of the Wall. The Night's Watch story is told primarily through Jon Snow, who is introduced as the bastard son of Eddard Stark,[5] and who joins the Watch, rising quickly through the ranks. In the third volume, A Storm of Swords, this story becomes entangled with the civil war.

The third story is set on an eastern continent named Essos, and follows Daenerys Targaryen, isolated from the others until A Dance with Dragons. On Essos, Daenerys rises from a pauper sold into marriage, to a powerful and intelligent ruler. Her rise is aided by the birth of three dragons from eggs given to her as wedding gifts: used initially as symbols, and later as weapons.

Author: George R.R. Martin

And for the TV Show, here is the summary from IMDB:

Several noble families fight for control of the mythical land of Westeros.

Creators: David Benioff, D.B. Weiss
Stars: Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke

That's it! Hopefully the rest of these won't be so long. Be sure to visit my A to Z Challenge 2015 Assistants: Sylvie from Life from An Optimist's Point of View, and Carrie-Anne Brownian/Ursula Hartlein from Welcome to My Magick Theatre, and then I'm off to visit all the blogs!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Surviving Bear Island, by Paul Greci

I just finished an excellent MG debut the other day. Surviving Bear Island is Alaska author Paul Greci's debut novel. Before I get to my reaction, here is the summary from Goodreads:

Could You Survive? After a sea kayaking trip with his father takes a dangerous turn, Tom Parker is stranded on the remote, outer coast of unpopulated Bear Island in the waters of Prince William Sound, Alaska. With only a small survival kit in his pocket, Tom finds himself soaked and freezing, and worst of all - alone. Desperate to find his father, Tom doesn't know how long he can survive and must put his survival skills to the test as he fights to reach safety. Will Tom make it through this wilderness full of bears and other dangers? Tom's story will have readers on the edge of their seats as they journey with him over the rough terrain of Alaska. They will absorb facts about survival as they watch Tom struggle to make things work, discovering Alaska from a first-person point of view. On another level, this story shows the sometimes fragile relationship between parents and children and how we can draw on what our parents have taught us in times of need. It also shows the courage and will to survive of a boy in dire circumstances and the triumph of never giving up.

Full disclosure: Paul Greci is a friend of mine, and one of my co-authors at Project Middle Grade Mayhem, and I received a print ARC of this novel from him, with no obligation to review. I'm reviewing it because I enjoyed it, and I think other readers would as well.

So, what I really enjoyed most about this book was its authenticity. I've never been to Alaska, but I have been solo camping, and I have lived in the wilderness and out of a backpack for six weeks, and I have started fires with the metal match method (flint and magnesium shavings) and the bowdrill method (this is so difficult I'm relatively certain they were just messing with us), so I know a little bit about what Tom went through, and I must say that the story felt completely genuine at all times to me.

Tom endures extremely difficult conditions and circumstances, and though of course he suffers through his trauma with the occasionally poor judgment and lack of experience that most children his age would, he manages to find the determination in his will to live to survive. The story is sad, and at times stressful, but ultimately it left me feeling hopeful, and with a renewed sense of appreciation for the passion it takes to truly feel alive.

Greci also pulls off quite a feat in this story in that in 95% of the book, Tom is all alone, with no one to talk to, and therefore no dialog to carry the pacing or vary the story structure, and yet he kept me interested from page to page, weaving a tale that was rife with tension and although it didn't move at breakneck pace, never seemed to slow down enough to give me a chance to breathe.

This worked out well, making Surviving Bear Island a quick and enjoyable read, and one that will remain in my mind for some time, both for what it pulled off in the sense of dramatic structure, and for being an impressive MG debut from an author I will be putting on my to be watched list.

I would recommend this one for readers 10 and up, and especially for boys who might be reluctant to make the jump to novel length works.

In exciting news, Surviving Bear Island's publisher, Move Books, has agreed to give away one copy of the novel to one reader of this post. All you have to do is leave a comment stating that you (or someone you know like a child or friend) are interested in reading this book. Please also be sure the account you comment with is linked to an email address so that the publisher can contact you for your mailing address. You have until 6 AM, Wednesday morning, the first of April, to comment.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Cover Reveal: A Change of Mind and Other Stories by Nick Wilford



Title: A Change of Mind and Other Stories
Author: Nick Wilford
Genre: Contemporary speculative fiction
Cover Design: Rebekah Romani
Release Date: May 25th 2015

A Change of Mind and Other Stories consists of a novella, four short stories and one flash fiction piece. This collection puts the extremes of human behaviour under the microscope with the help of lashings of dark humour, and includes four pieces previously published in Writer’s Muse magazine.

In A Change of Mind, Reuben is an office worker so meek and mild he puts up with daily bullying from his boorish male colleagues as if it’s just a normal part of his day. But when a stranger points him in the direction of a surgeon offering a revolutionary new procedure, he can’t pass up the chance to turn his life around.

But this isn’t your average surgeon. For a start, he operates alone in a small room above a mechanic’s. And he promises to alter his patients’ personality so they can be anything they want to be…

In Marissa, a man who is determined to find evidence of his girlfriend’s infidelity ends up wondering if he should have left well alone.

The Dog God finds a chink in the armour of a man with a megalomaniacal desire to take over the world.

In The Insomniac, a man who leads an obsessively regimented lifestyle on one hour’s sleep a night finds a disruption to his routine doesn’t work for him.

Hole In One sees a dedicated golfer achieving a lifelong ambition.

The Loner ends the collection on a note of hope as two family members try to rebuild their lives after they are torn apart by jealousy.


Nick Wilford is a writer and stay-at-home dad. Once a journalist, he now makes use of those rare times when the house is quiet to explore the realms of fiction, with a little freelance editing and formatting thrown in. When not working, he can usually be found spending time with his family or cleaning something. Nick is also the editor of Overcoming Adversity: An Anthology for Andrew. You can find him hanging out on his blog or on Goodreads or Twitter.

Preorder Links: Amazon US, Amazon UK
Add it on Goodreads

Monday, March 23, 2015

Theme Reveal Blogfest: 2015 April A to Z Challenge

Today is the theme reveal blogfest for the 2015 April A to Z Blogging Challenge! In past years, (2013 and 2012) I have focused on Etymologies (which you can see here for 2012 and here for 2013, if you'd like) but this year I'll be doing something different (you run out of words for X pretty quickly, which is why it's a Challenge, I suppose).

This year, I'll be focusing on stories for my theme. Basically, I'll just be posting a short summary of a favorite story whose title begins with the letter for that day of the challenge. It might be a film, a TV show, a book, a play, or maybe even a famous legend, but whatever it is, it will be short and sweet, because the point of the challenge is discovering new blogs, and networking more than it is focusing on yourself or your own posts.

What will your 2015 April A to Z Blogging Challenge theme be? Be sure to visit as many of the participating blogs as you can, listed at the main A to Z Challenge blog, here!

My assistants for this year's challenge are Sylvie from Life from An Optimist's Point of View, and Carrie-Anne Brownian/Ursula Hartlein from Welcome to My Magick Theatre. Please make sure you visit both their blogs and follow them!

Monday, March 9, 2015

A Call for Minions: 2015 April A to Z Challenge

It's that time of year again!

Yes, I know I skipped it last year, and to be honest, I'm not sure if I know what I'm getting into this year, but I've barely been blogging lately, so I thought signing up to co-host the April A to Z Blogging Challenge again this year might help kickstart my blogging bug again.

And that's where you come in!

I know no one reads this blog anymore, but hopefully a few people might see this who are participating in the Challenge, and know me or have read my posts in the past, and might be willing to help out.

If you're interested, let me know in the comments, and you can be on my team for the challenge.

Some co-hosts are calling their helpers minions, others muffins, others probably random other names I haven't seen yet. I don't have anything that creative to call mine, but I think just friends or helpers is good enough.

What will you need to do?

Basically, help me police the list. This year looks to be a little less crazy than previous years so far, but in the past thousands of blogs have joined the Challenge. That's a lot of entries to check to make sure people are participating, have necessary adult content warnings, and aren't just advertising or spam blogs.

Even with the number of co-hosts we have, it's not enough to police thousands of blogs, so we all enlist a few helpers. In 2013, the last time I co-hosted, I had 5 assistants. You can read about them here. I'm hoping to have as many this year, but would be willing to accept more if people are really interested.

Also, I completely forgot to blog the other day to mention my Five Year Blogiversary! I started my blog on March 3rd 2010, and it has now been over five years I've been doing this. I'm met some of the most amazing people, and even though I don't blog as much lately as I used to, I still love it, and do miss it.

How long have you been blogging? Are you joining the A to Z Challenge?

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if you're interested in being an assistant!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sub-Genres and Categories of Fantasy at Project Mayhem

It's probably a good thing that I'm obligated to post over at Project Middle Grade Mayhem once a month, since that's the only blogging I do anymore. Please drop by today to read my post about the sub-genre categories of the Fantasy genre.

Monday, January 26, 2015

A to Z April Challenge 2015

The 2015 A to Z Challenge List is Open!

Please read and follow the sign-up instructions outlined below so you sign onto the list correctly!

The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behavior.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 3 is “C,” and so on. You can use a theme for the month or go random – just as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day. 

The A to Z Challenge is a great way to get into the blogging habit and make new friends. For more details and its history, go HERE

We recommend short posts, turn off Word Verification, and visit five blogs (or more) a day beginning with the one after yours on the list. 

Blogs must be on an open platform – no Tumblr, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. – and comments enabled. 

To streamline legitimate blogs from advertisement blogs, the Co-Hosts will be visiting each blog on this list throughout the Challenge. Blogs on the list showing no activity once the Challenge starts or miss five days in a row will be removed. 

Please note your blog name and number in all correspondences. Remember that as blogs are removed, your number will change. 

There are categories for those looking for like-minded blogs. Select ONE category code and enter it after your blog’s title/name. The code applies to your blog, not your theme for the Challenge and is purely optional. See the first few blogs on the list for examples. However, if your blog has adult content, you MUST mark it (AC) or it will be removed from the list. Codes are as follows: 

ART: (AR) 

Be sure to grab the badge and display it in your sidebar so we know you are participating and link to the A to Z Challenge Blog.

For more information we recommend you follow the A to Z Challenge Blog and the hosts: 

Arlee Bird @ Tossing it Out
Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh
Jeremy @ Hollywood Nuts
Nicole Ayers @ The Madlab Post
Author Stephen Tremp
Heather M. Gardner
AJ @ Naturally Sweet
Pam @ An Unconventional Librarian
Matthew MacNish @ The QQQE
Zalka Csenge Virág @ The Multicolored Diary
S. L. Hennessy @ Pensuasion
C. Lee McKenzie @ The Write Game
Joy Campbell @ The Character Depot
Susan Gourley @ Susan Says
John Holton @The Sound of One Hand Typing
Lisa Buie-Collard, Author

We also have a Facebook Page
Email address is
Twitter hashtag is #AtoZChallenge and Twitter id is @AprilA2Z

Sign up below and join us for a month of alphabet fun!