Tag Archives: four book friday

in which I pick a giveaway winner

First of all, thanks again to everyone who participated in Four Book Friday either as reader or poster or innocent bystander caught in the crossfire. I’m so glad so many people enjoyed the series.

And on that note, we have a GIVEAWAY WINNER! Guys, this is my first giveaway. It was so exciting!

And now, thanks to the power of technology and random number generators, our winner is….

Krista Van Dolzer! *throws confetti* *pops crackers* *generally goes nuts*

Congrats Krista! The Gryffindors are cheering for you. (Remember her totally awesome Four Book Friday post? I’m kind of obsessed with it.) I will email you for which of the Four Book Friday books you want to make your own.

Thanks again to everyone who entered. And to those of you who are not Krista, better luck next time!

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Four Book Friday Wrap Up

It has been a great summer of reading and life changing and Four Book Friday! Thanks everyone who participated, and thanks everyone who sent so much positive feedback about the series! It was really fun to read everyone’s answers and the comments they inspired!

The end of the summer does not necessarily mean the end of Four Book Friday—they may still pop up, and if you want to do one, please get in touch! It just won’t be a weekly series anymore, since it was intended to last only through summer.

To wrap up our series, here are some of the awesome thoughts from our guest posters! And if you read all the way to the end, you might just find a giveaway.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, #5)The MT
“To me, the Harry Potter series are like a close friend who has always been there for me. I read Harry Potter when I’m feeling scared, or stressed or angry, or even when I’m happy.”
Read more of her thoughts on Harry Potter, as well as The Silver Linings Playbook, The Mark of Athena, and The Watchman’s Rattle

Rebecca Wells
“The circumstances by which I make my way back to these familiar pages don’t matter — in every encounter, Walk Two Moons makes me feel less alone in the world. And isn’t that what extraordinary books are supposed to do?”
Read more of her thoughts on Walk Two Moons, as well as Snow White, Blood Red, Sabriel, and The Truth About Forever

Hope Was HereTracy Marchini
“To me, Nancy was fearless — the kind of teen I wanted to be. “
Read more of her thoughts on Nancy Drew, as well as Chatty Chipmunk’s Nutty Day, A Treasury of Fairytales, and Pride and Prejudice

Mariah Manley
“Everyone is flawed and everyone carries a burden, but flawed people banding together in a single cause are capable of great things. I believe in the power of community because of Hope Was Here.”
Read more of her thoughts on Hope Was Here, as well as How Green Was My Valley, The Grapes of Wrath, and Fanny’s Dream

Anne of Green Gables (Anne of Green Gables, #1)Lisa Palin
“Watching Anne struggle to be herself and to be worthy of love, only to learn that they were one and the same, taught me that wishing and wanting are fine, that doing (even with mistakes) is better, and that being me was okay because people who are worthy of me were the ones who would love me for it.”
Read more of her thoughts on There’s a Monster at the End of this Book, The Grounding of Group 6, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Greg Batcheler
“Beyond the descriptions, within every book I found a new cast of characters in that old, familiar world that captured my imagination. These everyday, unlikely heroes stood for epic and noble causes. I cheered when they won, I cried when they were defeated, and I cheered again when they persevered.”
Read more of his thoughts on Redwall, as well as Frog and Toad, Animorphs, and Star Trek

The Little PrinceCaitlin Jacobs
“As I cried over the last chapter, I wondered how Cassandra had grown so much without anyone even noticing. It made me realize how much growing I could do, even if it didn’t look to anyone else like anything was happening.”
Read more of her thoughts on I Capture the Castle, as well as In Defense of Food, Mistborn, and The Name of the Wind

Smatt Read
“What had meant to be a short literary foray turned into several hours of adventure and quiet revelations. The Little Prince gave me solace during a confusing and emotional time and made it possible for me to see a little more clearly the beauty there is in life.”
Read more of his thoughts on A Little Prince, as well as Black and White, Maze, and Trumpet of the Swan

If I Stay (If I Stay, #1)Jenny Kaczorowski
“I think this is the book that taught me to look for magic in the every day.”
Read more of her thoughts on A Little Princess, The Complete Beatrix Potter, Twilight, and 1916

Katy Upperman
“If I Stay one of the few books I’ve reread, and I still recommend it often. It’s the novel that made me long to write, to craft a story that might impact a reader as profoundly as this one impacted me.”
Read more of her thoughts on If I Stay, as well as Blubber, A Thousand Splendid Suns, and the Face on the Milk Carton

Stargirl (Stargirl, #1)

Krista Van Dolzer
“I didn’t spend a ton of time in high school trying to fit in, but Stargirl made me wish I could go back and do it over. I thought I had to be effervescent and exciting to be of any worth in high school, but really, I didn’t have to be. I could have just been myself.”
Read more of her thoughts on Stargirl, as well as The Giver, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Quiet

Hannah Thompson
“After hearing one too many horror stories about rude students, school shootings, and unhelpful administrators, it’s hard to forge ahead in the education program with a positive “I can make a difference!” attitude. Thanks to Will Grayson, Will Grayson…I feel more confident heading into the classroom armed with knowledge and faith in my subject.”
Read more of her thoughts on Will Grayson, Will Grayson, as well as Rumble Fish, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and Stotan!

Will Grayson, Will GraysonClarissa Hadge
“As a writer, I strive to create strong female characters like Alanna, characters who stick to their convictions, and who are not only as capable in harrowing situations as their male colleagues, but that are even tougher and better.”
Read more of her thoughts on Alanna, the First Adventure, as well as A Wrinkle in Time, North to Freedom, and Mi Revalueshanary Fren

Thanks for joining us this summer for Four Book Friday! And….oh yeah, I did promise you a giveaway if you stuck around until the end….so HERE IT IS! The giveaway I actually promised at the beginning of the summer, now officially online!  Just click on the Rafflecopter giveaway link to be entered for a chance to win one of the Four Book Friday books as well as a $10 giftcard to Barnes and Noble!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Four Book Friday: The MT

Welcome back to Four Book Friday, a continuing series where writers and readers tell us about four books that changed their life! This week’s post comes from the elusive and mysterious MT, sister of mine as well as reader and writer. Here are the four books that changed her life!

Oh hello there. You may know me as “The MT” or the little sister of the Mackenzi Lee, both of which I am. Anywho, here’s my four book Friday:

2Harry Potter (series) by J. K. Rowling – The Harry Potter books were the books of my childhood. I have a very distinct memory of carrying around my yellow bus tape player and listening to the end of the first one on audio book over and over and over… To me, the Harry Potter series are like a close friend who has always been there for me. I read Harry Potter when I’m feeling scared, or stressed or angry, or even when I’m happy. I’ve also been able to make friends through our mutual love of Harry Potter. This series has been a rock in my life and I really don’t know what I would do without it’s characters, white and story.

https://i0.wp.com/d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1268924930l/7788995.jpgThe Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick – I don’t even have enough words for how much this book has impacted my life. The Silver Linings Playbook is essentially the journal of a man named Pat who has a very severe bipolar disorder. Although I am not bipolar like Pat, I do suffer from an anxiety disorder and I learned a lot from how Pat deals with his illness. After reading this book, I found myself rethinking how I think and how I deal with my own illness. This book also had the remarkable ability to voice thoughts or events that I have dealt with, but haven’t quite been able to explain or share. Pat’s mind allowed me to express what I wanted to express and helped me change how I deal with things.

The Mark of Athena (The Heroes of Olympus, #3)The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan – The Percy Jackson series is another one where I feel like all of the main characters are my best friends because I’ve been reading this series since I was quite young. However, I wanted to specifically highlight The Mark Of Athena because I read it at a time in my life when I had been suffering from severe artist’s block. After reading this one, I started drawing again, mainly the characters from the book and my favorite scenes. This book got my drawing again and got me sucked down the fan-art rabbit hole on Tumblr. This event also inspired a theme for my IB Art portfolio, which eventually led my IB diploma.

8071467The Watchmen’s Rattle by Rebecca Costa– Okay, so I actually haven’t read this book all the way through, but in my junior year of high school in English class, all our reading was based around conservation philosophies. This reading unit played a huge role in my choice to study Environmental Studies in college. I chose Costa’s book, because hers was my favorite of the books we read. Her writing and philosophies are brilliant.

The MT also happens to be an awesome artists. Here is some fanart she did for Mark of Athena and Harry Potter.

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When not playing Quidditch, practicing spells, solving cases with Sherlock Holmes, traveling in the TARDIS with the Doctor, the MT can usually be found slaying dragons, fighting monsters, traversing a galaxy far, far away, or saving the world. She attends Utah State University where she studies Environmental Studies. In her spare time, she enjoys drawing, playing music , writing, and being a nerd.

 

 

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Four Book Friday: Rebecca Wells

Welcome back to Four Book Friday, a continuing series where writers and readers tell us about four books that changed their life! This week’s post comes from Rebecca Wells. Rebecca is a bookseller and writer and one of my Simmons girls. Here are the four books that changed her life!

Walk Two MoonsWalk Two Moons by Sharon Creech – If all the books in the world were burning and I could only save one, there is a good chance it would be Walk Two Moons. Is this book perfect in every possible way? No. But it does contain the most perfect depiction of dead-parent grief I have ever read. Salamanca Tree Hiddle’s journey was painfully recognizable to me because I had gone through exactly the same thing. The first time I read Walk Two Moons, my first thought was “How did Sharon Creech know?” (I still don’t have the answer to that question, by the way. Even though I finally met Sharon Creech this year and cried. Twice.) I’ve since read my copy to pieces. The circumstances by which I make my way back to these familiar pages don’t matter — in every encounter, Walk Two Moons makes me feel less alone in the world. And isn’t that what extraordinary books are supposed to do?

Snow White, Blood RedSnow White, Blood Red edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling – Books like this make me infinitely grateful that my father exercised no parental control over my reading habits whatsoever. I was probably eleven or twelve when I picked up Snow White, Blood Red at our local Borders (RIP) and asked my father if I could get it. I have no idea what went through his head when he looked at the (fairly mature) cover, but he bought it for me. Snow White, Blood Red may not have begun my love affair with fairy tales, but it was definitely the first book that hooked its claws into my flesh and refused to let go. The stories in this book aren’t the ones you remember from the Disney movies. They’re darker, bloodier, sexier, and utterly captivating. Snow White, Blood Red opened my eyes to the ways in which familiar tales can be twisted and broken to form new wholes — a lesson in writing that I carry with me to this day. I devoured this book and promptly spent the next several months hunting down the other five titles in the series, even the out-of-print ones. (It speaks to how young I was that this was the first encounter I remember having with the idea of “out of print.” What do you mean, I can’t get every book I want?)
Sabriel (Abhorsen,  #1)Sabriel by Garth Nix – I have a hard time saying anything about Sabriel other than SQUEE. The world is captivating, the story compelling, the characters entrancing. There’s a certain air of different-ness in its pages that I’ve since come to associate with Australian authors. But what really drove me to include Sabriel on this list was the romance. Too often I see young adult titles in which the main characters are together because they’re just perfect for each other, and that’s that. In many ways Sabriel is the anti-typical young adult romance. The relationship that is forged is built on complex characters who each have their own agenda. They both have places to go and demons to banish, and the idea that they may end up together is not the primary motivating force behind their actions. Sabriel taught me that there was no law in young adult mandating its romance be bubble gum perfect — instead, its romance is complex, deep, and never obvious.

The Truth About ForeverThe Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen – …But even though complex is great, sometimes you just feel the need for bubble gum perfect. Sarah Dessen is one of those universally acknowledged Queens of young adult, and for good reason. Sarah Dessen books are familiar, comforting, and identifiable — like a root beer float on a hot summer day, or afternoons spent lazing in a hammock with your best friend. I’ve read most of her work, but the one I return to any time I need a pick-me-up is The Truth About Forever. I completely identified with Macy’s perfectionist-student role, as well as her complicated feelings regarding her father’s death. This book made me want to be Macy, to join a catering company, and to find (and kiss) my very own Wes. I’ve read The Truth About Forever so many times that its spine is now broken, but it never fails to cheer me up and restore some of my faith in the universe.

Rebecca Wells is a California transplant now living on the east coast, where it boggles her mind that it’s possible to cross states in less than a day. She wears many hats, including those of writer, graduate student, and bookseller. You can find some of her other internet musings at http://elephantsontrapezes.blogspot.com, or on Twitter at @rebeccawriting, where she maintains the unpopular opinion that dogs are infinitely superior to cats.

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Four Book Friday: Tracy Marchini

Welcome back to Four Book Friday, a continuing series where writers and readers tell us about four books that changed their life! This week’s post comes from Tracy Marchini, a former literary agent and current children’s author. Here are the four books that changed her life!
There is a clear disadvantage to being an August child. One, my birthday party was always on days when my friends’ families were squeezing in their last summer vacations. And two, my penchant for August means that so many of the books that I would have chosen for Four Book Friday have already been discussed! (Clearly, Mackenzie and her friends have good taste!) In order to avoid repeats, my four would have to be:
https://i0.wp.com/cdn1.fishpond.com.au/0005/770/521/2013245/4.jpegChatty Chipmunk’s Nutty Day by Suzanne Gruber and Doug Cushman – Though this is an easy reader now, when I was a child it would have been considered a picture book. And I loved it. I loved the repeating refrain (“Chitter, chitter, chatter. I like nuts!”), the artwork and the appearance of a cat (perhaps because I subconsciously knew that I would spend the next eight years of my life begging for one.)  As a child, I did not wonder if the cat would be more interested in the chipmunk than his winter acorn stash. Now – in my wiser, elder years – I think that I probably misunderstood the obviously murderous look on the cat’s face.
 
https://i0.wp.com/www.horsebooksplus.com/shop_image/product/28123.jpgA Treasury of Fairy Tales by Lucy Kincaid, Eric Kincaid and Gerry EmbletonThis book broke my young heart. Or more so, the destruction of this book by my younger brother (who, granted, was only four or five), broke my heart. This was the most gorgeous, illustrated collection of fairy tales my eyes had ever seen. Each fairy tale was a page to three pages max, with lush illustrations surrounding the page. I would have compared it to an illuminated manuscript, if I knew what that was at the time and ignored the difference between tri-color printing and painstakingly illustrating individual pages by hand. Even the end papers were lush! But when my brother threw it down the stairs and it snapped in two – with the cover going in one direction and the story of Snow White split right at the climax – it probably was the birth of my desire to never lend books to friends, lest they crack the spine. (I have mostly gotten over this. Depending on the book.)
The Secret of the Old Clock (Nancy Drew, #1)Nancy Drew and ::fill in the blank here:: by Carolyn KeeneI followed Nancy Drew from her days of her vintage, blue 1970’s Mustang convertible to a puffy haired, puffy sleeved Bess in the Nancy Drew Case Files. At night, I would read until the point where Nancy was about to go into a dark room alone, then close the book and tuck it under the bed (not because books were ever censored in my house — it was more of a “Joey throwing Little Women in the freezer” reaction.) Then I’d pick it up again in the morning — Yay, daylight!
To me, Nancy was fearless — the kind of teen I wanted to be. (Though I wondered if she’d really spend that much time with Bess. What did they talk about, really?)
Caveat: This is not to say that Nancy and I would have agreed on all things. There are obvious problems with racism/sexism/classism in the original (and decades of rewritten) Nancy Drews. If the 1980’s were the decade of the superwoman, one could argue that a contemporary Nancy reflected that and that is why my recollection of the series is Nancy as a fearless/do-it-all-to-perfection woman. This, of course, comes with problems of its own. Moving on…
Pride and PrejudicePride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – In college, I did an independent study on Jane Austen’s politics. I had a friend at the time who was also an English major, and he hated Jane Austen with the passion of a thousand burning suns. I tried to convince him that Austen’s novels were actually very smart, sociopolitical commentaries, but to him she was just a silly woman who wrote trashy books.

So one day, I printed out a couple of Jane Austen quotes, and my roommate and I tucked them into various parts of his car, so that he’d have a little Jane Austen with him wherever he went. Fast forward a few days, and I walk into my bedroom and it is covered in thousands of little slips of paper, individually cut into little rectangles that say, “Jane Austen Sucks.” Years after graduation, I still occasionally find one of these papers.

ImageTracy Marchini is a freelance editor and author. She’s worked at a Manhattan literary agency, as a children’s book reviewer and newspaper correspondent. More about her editorial work and her books for children and teens can be found at www.tracymarchini.com. She’s also on Twitter at @TracyMarchini, where she daily fights the urge to tweet pictures of her favorite picture book protagonists — ducks.

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Four Book Friday: Mariah Manley

Welcome back to Four Book Friday, a continuing series where writers and readers tell us about four books that changed their life! This week’s post comes from Mariah Manley, an aspiring children’s librarian and all-around ray of sunshine through the bleak Boston winters. Here are the four books that changed her life!

How Green Was My ValleyHow Green Was My Valley by Richard LlewellynHiraeth, a Welsh word with no direct English translation, is a sort of nostalgia, longing, sadness, sweetness, and yearning for a home from the past. When I read this book for the first time the earnest, poetic prose left me with hiraeth for Wales—a place I had never been. So I studied Welsh, a beautiful yet dying language, and I devoured books on Wales’ turbulent but oft forgotten history. Eventually, my passion for Wales flew me across a continent and an ocean to the place itself. For two transcendental months, I saw everything Llewellyn wrote. How Green Was My Valley made me a polyglot, a historian, and a world traveler.

The Grapes of Wrath

 

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck – I read this book in high school and it is the first book I remember hating—a loathing-with-my-whole-soul kind of hating. Yet, I’m indebted to this book because it changed how I think about Literature and helped me to develop some sharp critical thinking skills. Specifically, my extreme visceral reaction to Steinbeck’s novel forced me to analyze my own opinions and called into question the validity of the Literary Canon. Karen Hess’s Out of the Dust accomplishes many of the same things as The Grapes of Wrath yet it isn’t part of the canon because it is written for middle grade children and teenagers. This didn’t (doesn’t) make any sense to me and I felt courageous disagreeing with academia, my teacher, and even some of my closest friends.  Due to this experience and others that followed after, today I feel confident in myself as a reader and a critic. So here is a begrudging thanks to the worst novel ever.

Fanny's DreamFanny’s Dream by Caralyn and Mark BuehnerAfter watching too many Rom Coms and reading too many fairy tales, it’s easy to slip into a girly daydream about epic love, grand adventure, and world fame. But then Fanny’s Dream enters my mind and I realize that is not what I want at all.  My mom read this picture book to me when I was a little girl because it was one of her favorites—probably for the same reason I love it now. Daydreams are nice but like farm girl Fanny all I really need is a life full of hard-work, laughter, resilience, love, and someone to do my least favorite chore (vacuuming). If my fairy godmother does turn up one day I want to be able to turn her offer down because I love my life as it is. Fanny’s Dream taught me an ordinary life is a beautiful life.

https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1309211597l/522471.jpgHope Was Here by Joan BauerFanny’s Dream taught me an ordinary life is more than enough, but Hope Was Here taught me that you can always be extraordinary. This novel, as its title may suggest, is empowering—teenagers literally change their small-town world! Like Hope, recognize the thing you are good at (whether that be waitressing, writing, making speeches, listening, baking pie, or whistling) and use that talent to the best of your ability to help other people around you. Everyone is flawed and everyone carries a burden, but flawed people banding together in a single cause are capable of great things. I believe in the power of community because of Hope Was Here.

ImageMariah Manley is a graduate student at Simmons College studying Library Science and Children’s Literature. When she grows up she wants to be a children’s librarian and peddle Mackenzi Lee’s best-selling novels. All authors should want to be her friend. Although Mariah is a bit of a social media dunce she does occasionally put out some good, bookish stuff on mariahmanley.tumblr.com or you can talk to her on Twitter @MariahManley.

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Four Book Friday: Lisa Palin

Welcome back to Four Book Friday, a continuing series where writers and readers tell us about four books that changed their life! This week’s post comes from Lisa Palin, one of my fellows at Simmons College and an avid kidlit reader and writer. Here are the four books that changed her life!

https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/1/1a/The_Monster_at_the_End_of_This_Book_Starring_Lovable,_Furry_Old_Grover.jpg/250px-The_Monster_at_the_End_of_This_Book_Starring_Lovable,_Furry_Old_Grover.jpgThe Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone – I have crystal clear memories of sitting in my Dad’s lap – long before I could read – and laughing hysterically as he “struggled” to turn the pages after Grover had barricaded them with tape and bricks. As an adult, I can look at this book and say that the story invites participation by the child, escalates in intensity and tension, and then resolves with humor and heart. As a toddler, I just loved it and wanted to read it myself, which is one of the reasons I became a very early reader…and why it makes the list of books that changed my life.

Anne of Green Gables (Anne of Green Gables, #1)

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery – I was more of a Diana but desperately wanted to be an Anne. Something about her desperate longing for…everything…resonated with me. As a shy, bookish little girl who craved attention but was afraid to get it, and who would rather not act than make a mistake, I understood desperate longing. Watching Anne struggle to be herself and to be worthy of love, only to learn that they were one and the same, taught me that wishing and wanting are fine, that doing (even with mistakes) is better, and that being me was okay because people who are worthy of me were the ones who would love me for it. It’s the philosophy by which I live my life, and it has served me well. I’m finally an Anne, and I couldn’t be happier.

The Grounding of Group 6


The Grounding of Group 6
by Julian F. Thompson
– I read this book for the first time in junior high in the early 90s. Since no one has ever heard of this book (for shame, all of you!), here is the concept: five teens who don’t get along with their parents arrive at their new boarding school for an orientation camping trip, only to discover that their parents have paid the school to have them assassinated. Yep. That’s what this book is about. Parents assassinating their own kids. Of course, the assassin is a twenty-something nobody who has second thoughts, and then the games really begin. My heart pounds just thinking about it. This book changed my life because before then, the darkest books I had read were about issues like drugs and disease. This sort of realistic but fantastic darkness opened my eyes to a whole new world of storytelling and is part of what led me to writing thrillers.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, #3)Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling – You may have noticed that all of the books on this list are children’s books. It is my field, after all, but I think the causal relationship goes in the other direction: books that changed my life are children’s books, and thus writing children’s books is how I want to change the lives of others. I didn’t always know this, however. Sometime in 2000-ish, shortly after college, I was writing adult fiction. Someone told me to read the Harry Potter books and I was puzzled. They were kids’ books. But I picked up the first one. And the second one. And was duly impressed. Then…then…I read the Prizoner of Azkaban. This book took my breath away. The intricate plotting, the mystery, the emotional punch as Harry learns who was responsible – or so he thinks at the time – for his parents’ death, the raising of the stakes, the way the story pulled details from the first two books and made this plotting thing look so easy (it’s not, trust me)…I was blown away. My attitude towards children’s books, which I had left behind sometime in high school, did a 180. And here I am today.

406302_10151018255409775_427445320_nLisa Palin is a writer, teacher, and a recovering attorney who has trouble sitting still. When not spinning tales or captivating juries, she can be found hiking, drinking IPA, planning a trip to Disney World, or marathoning her latest television obsession. As a RI native, she calls a drinking fountain a bubbler and gives directions based on where things used to be. She currently lives in Cambridge, MA and is not related to the similarly-named Alaskan family. You can check out her occasional updates at LIsaPalin.com and CreativelyUnhinged.com.

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Four Book Friday: Greg Batcheler

Welcome back to Four Book Friday, a continuing series where writers and readers tell us about four books that changed their life! This week’s post comes from Greg Batcheler, a Simmons MFA survivor and kidlit writer, reader, and reviewer. Here are the four books that changed his life (or rather, four series, because he cheated a little!) 

Frog and Toad Are Friends (Frog and Toad, #1)Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel – Perhaps this one is cheating, but my attachment to these loveable characters reaches back to the prenatal stages of Greg-dom. My mom would read these books aloud when she was pregnant with me (or so I’m told), and I remember enjoying the adventures of these two friends as a child. When Frog and Toad became my subjects for deeper study in grad school, I thought I would nearly burst with excitement. The sparse text and spot illustrations are a goldmine for exploring the many faces of friendship. Every time I read these books as an adult, I’m reminded of the simple brilliance and extraordinary heart that Lobel poured into his work. I can only strive to do the same.

The Invasion (Animorphs, #1)

Animorphs by Katherine Applegate – There are very few middle grade and young adult novels that I read when I was the age of the intended audience (one of the many reasons I’ve loved rediscovering them as an adult), but I fondly remember devouring this series as a teen. The life and death stakes, the angst of secrecy, and the close bonds of these friends all had me flipping pages and begging for more like nothing else. When I had these books in my hands, I knew I loved to read. Oh, and deep down, I wished that I, too, could have magical, sci-fi, alien powers.

Redwall (Redwall, #1)

Redwall by Brian JacquesThese books are the first that I can remember having a more conscious understanding of craft. Jacques’ way with words mesmerized me: the descriptions of battles and riddles and foods – the foods! Ooh, they made my mouth water, though I didn’t even know what half the words meant. Beyond the descriptions, within every book I found a new cast of characters in that old, familiar world that captured my imagination. These everyday, unlikely heroes stood for epic and noble causes. I cheered when they won, I cried when they were defeated, and I cheered again when they persevered. Through the world around Redwall Abbey, I knew that though the costs may be high, good can and does triumph in the end. I believed it then, and I believe it now. Eulalaiaaaaaa!!!

Ghost Ship (Star Trek: The Next Generation, #1)Star Trek: The Next Generation *Proudly puts on the nerd glasses* Because of my desire to read up as a kid, I often sought out the series novels enjoyed by my older brother. One that dominated the scene of my bookshelf was Star Trek: The Next Generation. I grew up watching this show on television, and there was no end to my enjoyment of the “continuing missions” offered up by the books in my hands. I read and reread many of them, but it was the characters, more than the individual stories, that resonated with me. I loved the ensemble nature of the cast, and seeing them work together in new combinations and new situations made me feel as though I knew them. The possibilities for their adventures were endless, and I credit this series with my abiding love for science fiction. IDIC. Look it up. You know you love it.

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Greg Batcheler is a writer, reviewer, and former indie bookseller currently living in the greater Boston area. When he’s not writing, he’s dreaming of burritos and oatmeal cream pies. But not together. That’s gross. You can check out occasional updates on Greg’s blog at www.gpbatch.com, or follow him on Twitter for more regular tweets on creativity, writing, and kidlit.

 

 

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Four Book Friday: Caitlin Jacobs

Welcome back to Four Book Friday, a continuing series where writers and readers tell us about four books that changed their life! This week’s post comes from Caitlin Jacobs, an aspiring epic fantasy writer and life-long reader. Here are the four books that changed her life!

Four books that changed my life. That’s a tall order for just different rearrangements of the same twenty-six letters. Nevertheless, words have power like that. In fact, narrowing it down to just four was a bit of a chore. But here it is:

I Capture the CastleI Capture the Castle by Dodi Smith – A friend gave me this one for my birthday. It started out so lighthearted and fun and through its pages somehow wormed its way deeper into me without my realizing it. As I cried over the last chapter, I wondered how Cassandra had grown so much without anyone even noticing. It made me realize how much growing I could do, even if it didn’t look to anyone else like anything was happening.

https://i0.wp.com/d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1347559078l/315425.jpgIn Defense of Food by Michael Pollan – This book drastically changed the way I eat. Its basic premise is this: Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Since reading it, I’ve switched out a lot of meat for a lot of vegetables and started making a lot more of our food from scratch. We probably eat meat about two meals a week, and even then not very much. We’re not super hardcore about the whole thing – if we’re not eating at home I just eat whatever looks good. But, with a few definite exceptions, we try to eat real, whole foods most of the time. And trust me, it’s delicious.

Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn, #1)

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson – I’ve always loved fantasy but for a few years in college I just couldn’t find any I really liked. I thought I might be growing out of it and that saddened me. I bought Mistborn but left it sitting, unread, on my shelf for years because I hated the cover. Finally I picked it I up. Mistborn brought back to me what I hadn’t experienced in years. I didn’t just fall into that book – I plunged in and grabbed hold of the adventure, inhaling deep of the magic on its pages. Mistborn reminded me how much I really do love fantasy. It reawakened a piece of me that’s been dancing with life ever since, spinning is way out onto the pages of the book I’m writing.

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1)

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss – I read two pages of this book before becoming dejected. I could never write this prettily, I thought to myself. The words just jumped off the page and wrapped themselves around me in a way I’d never experienced before, weaving themselves into something beautiful and shimmery, ethereal and earthy all at the same time. I read and loved the rest of the book, then wrote Pat an email telling him how much I’d enjoyed it and how I hoped I could someday write half so prettily. He emailed me back (I pretty much freaked out) and encouraged me to write the way only I can. And that’s exactly what I’ve tried to do. Hopefully it comes out my own kind of pretty.

Caitlin (97)Caitln Jacobs writes epic fantasy for adults who never let go of the magic we all know as children. She spends her time writing, reading, cooking, eating giant bowls of mint chocolate chip ice cream, and adventuring outside. She lives with her husband in California. She is currently seeking representation for her debut novel. For more thrilling details about her and her book, visit her website and read her blog at authorcaitlinjacobs.com.

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Four Book Friday: Smatt Read

Welcome back to Four Book Friday, a continuing series where writers and readers tell us about four books that changed their life! This week’s post comes from Smatt Read, one of my fellow students at Simmons College who writes whimsical, magical picture books and has a hilarious nickname. Here are the four books that changed his life!

https://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/6/68/Trumpet_of_the_Swan_Cover.jpegThe Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White – I decided at a young age to choose a favorite book, that is a permanent favorite book. None of that flavor-of-the-week type stuff. And so I chose The Trumpet of the Swan. However, what makes it a book that changed my life was what happened in the ensuing years. By sticking with it, I made the all important step of wondering why I liked it, really delving into the issue. Though antiquated by today’s standards, it taught me something about being in love. It still breaks me a little to see Louis the Swan trying to impress Serena by holding his writing tablet with the words “I love you” scrawled across it.

Black Like MeBlack Like Me by John Howard Griffin – In early 2004, I was working at Barnes & Noble when a customer started sharing his relationship woes with me. He had proposed to his girlfriend and been turned down based on the issue of race (he was African-American; she was Mexican-American). As befitting a bookstore, the conversation turned to books, and the guy recommended Black Like Me. He insisted that everyone should read the book, especially non-blacks, for its penetrating look at race relations in America. I have since read the book several times and continue to be impressed by its honesty, depth, and raw portrayal of racism.

https://i2.wp.com/www.jeffreysomers.com/blather/MAZE_Manson.pngMAZE by Christopher Manson – I love mazes, and as a kid, I loved Choose Your Own Adventure books. When I stumbled upon this picture book which combined the two ideas, I snatched it up and started to work on it. And work on it. And work on it. I shared this book with a friend, and together we read its pages, navigated its paths, and tried to solve its mysteries. This went on for years. When I was 30, I received an email from my puzzle-solving partner who linked me up to the book’s wiki page. In the twenty or so years since my original purchase, I began to realize I had only scratched the surface. This intriguing picture book fostered a life-long love of mazes, puzzles, and a fondness for games.

https://www.mtholyoke.edu/omc/kidsphil/questions/Littleprince/littleprince_cover_380pixels.jpgThe Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery – I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Beyla, Guinea, West Africa when my closest Peace Corps neighbor Nils brought a box of books to me. Among a dozen or so fantasy titles, I found two copies of The Little Prince, one in French and one in English. I casually read the first chapter of the English version, just to get a taste, and soon found myself swimming in its language and ideas. What had meant to be a short literary foray turned into several hours of adventure and quiet revelations. His book gave me solace during a confusing and emotional time and made it possible for me to see a little more clearly the beauty there is in life.

ImageSmatt is the pen name of S.Matt Read. He is a writer, inventor, baker, and adventurer. He is best known for The Texas Perimeter Hike, a self-syndicated column and year-long walkabout around the Lone Star state. His current adventure is a children’s literature and writing graduate program at Simmons College. He lives in Somerville, MA with his dog Raisin who he found while walking in Texas.

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