Thursday, December 1, 2016

Kate Shackleton Series (but not all of it)

Image result for dying in the woolDying in the Wool, Frances Brody
Kate Shackleton #1
★ ★ ★

Circa 1919: Kate Shackleton, former VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) nurse has been working for free helping friends, friends of friends, friends of family et. al. solve mysteries & find missing loved ones.
Her former VAD friend, Tabitha Braithwaite, is soon to wed and has hired Kate to find her father before the wedding.
Joshua Braithwaite, owner of a large textile plant, was last seen running away from the local hospital, where he was remanded for the crime of "allegedly" trying to commit suicide.
There are a few people who do not want him found, there are a few who might stand to profit from his disappearance, there are a few who stand to lose if he is found (alive)....
The family all have their motives, as do a few of the mill workers.....
I found this to be not only an interesting story & mystery but also the information on mills, textiles, weaving & dye making was informative.

Image result for a medal for murderA Medal for Murder, Frances Brody 

Kate Shackleton #2

★ ★ ★

Kate & Sykes have been hired by Mr. Moody, a most discreet pawn broker, after being robbed.  He requests that they go to his clients and explain the loss and the circumstances of restitution should their valuables not be recovered.

While Kate is in Harrogate attempting to locate one of Mr. Moody's clients (who has given a false name , de Vries, and address) she stays to go to the theater....  After the play a man (Milner) is found dead of a knife wound, the young woman he planned to marry (Lucy) goes missing as does the young woman (Alison) she supposedly spent the night with, and a ransom note for Lucy shows up. In order to avoid going to the police Lucy's grandfather asks Kate to step in.

As Kate investigates: Lucy's grandfather is not who he appears to be; Milner turns out as a blackmailer & womanizer; Alison is hiding out; Mrs DeVries is right under Kate's nose; Kate's "friend" has sticky fingers; one of the Grandfather's tenants has a secret past & habitually eavesdrops on the old man's conversations.

Part of the background story goes back to the Boer War and the egregious actions of the British Military & their concentration camps, which intercepted the reading of the book's current events. The other part of the background story involves the aforementioned, Lucy's grandfather & Lucy's "inheritance" (which she demands to be given in order to attend a London based drama academy).

There was a lot going on in this book, all tied up neatly in the end.  The characters were realistic and not unlikable. 

Image result for death of an avid readerDeath of an Avid Reader, Frances Brody

Kate Shackleton #6

★ ★ ★

I'm not quite sure how the author fit the pieces together.....  This read like two different mysteries up until almost the end of the book.

Kate Shackleton, a former VAD nurse, is now a detective and Kate is asked by a well known society matron to find her illegitimate daughter that she gave up for adoption upon the child's birth.  All the woman can tell Kate is the child's name and that the adoptive parents were fishmongers related to the "nanny"...

Somehow, Kate becomes involved with a stowaway monkey and a double murder at the library where she is doing research... where a dismissed employee is maybe or maybe not the missing adopted daughter.....

There were a lot of threads & possibilities, which were neatly bundled & tied up at the end.

This is not a great mystery by any means, and I liked the one I read before this better.....  But, I am going backwards to read the first several in the series.

Image result for frances brodyMurder on a Summer's Day, Frances Brody

Kate Shackleton #5
★ ★ ★

1920: A young Maharajah  Prince is visiting a stately country home for grouse season, his soon to be red-headed actress wife (from simple folk) is hidden away in a near by hotel until the astrologer can come up w/ an auspicious date for the nuptials.  

After the young Prince goes out & kills the legendary local white doe he disappears and the English politicos send in Kate Shackleton (their secret sleuth) to find him.

While searching for the Prince one of the young men who was his guide is found dead in the river at a point where he would often jump across....  The father of the other guide (a young man of "simple" ways) has a stroke, and Kate finds the Prince in the place where he shot the doe, dead, shot in the chest & covered with branches.  

Monday, November 7, 2016



Little Free Library unveilingLittle Free Library has big a reason to celebrate: On November 4, the nonprofit with a passion for literacy and community planted its 50,000th Little Free Library. This is double the number of Little Libraries in existence just a year and a half ago.
Library No. 50,000 stands at theIllumination Foundation, an innovative homeless shelter in Santa Ana, California—a community that has only one public library for more than 335,000 residents.
How did it come to arrive in Orange County? Through Little Free Library’s philanthropic Impact Fund, which places Libraries in communities where they can have a positive impact on reading motivation and social engagement.

50,000th Little Free LibraryAccording to a press releaseMarytza Rubio, founder of the Makara Center for the Arts, applied to the Impact Fund for a Library to be placed at the Illumination Foundation as the first step in a larger push to place Little Free Libraries throughout Santa Ana.
“We’re starting at the Illumination Foundation because in Orange County our homeless population is our most vulnerable and many of them are children,” said Ms. Rubio. “Shelter residents have little access to books and the Little Free Library can address that need.”
Other recipients of Little Free Libraries through the Impact Fundinclude:
  • A family in Illinois who is committed to “rebuilding a broken city one block at a time.”
  • A vice-principal of a school in a Georgia town where thirty percent of the residents cannot read.
“We call it the Impact Fund because that’s the goal – we want to substantially improve our world – and so does the Makara Center,” says Bol. “We are thrilled that our 50,000th Library will be at the Illumination Foundation and part of such a wonderful mission.”
LeVar Burton Little Free LibrarySo, what do 50,000 Little Free Libraries mean for the rest of us? (Besides a healthy shot of literary adorableness?) Here are a few of the benefits:
Books for all. The Little Free Library organization estimates that 50,000 little libraries equals a whopping 36,500,000 books shared in a year. How’s that for a booming sharing economy?
Stronger communities. Little Free Libraries help people get to know each other. How many platonic meet-cutes have happened a Little Free Library? A whole lot. It’s estimated that 50,000 Libraries result in 600,000 neighbors meeting each other for the first time.
Self-expression to the max. Take one look at this gallery of Little Free Libraries, and you’ll see what I mean. There are Libraries that look like owls. Libraries that look like movie theaters. And even a Little Free Library painted with the patron saint of childhood reading, LeVar Burton.
If 50,000 Little Free Libraries can make all of these good things happen, imagine what 50,000 more could do! You can help bring Little Libraries where they’re needed most by supporting the Impact Fund or applying for a Library here.

Full disclosure: I work with the Little Free Library nonprofit, wrote The Little Free Library Book, and have a Little Free Library of my own, so I’m completely biased in my support of Little Free Libraries. (But can you blame me?) –Margret

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Bookmarks Feature the Little Legs of Literary Characters

These Bookmarks Feature the Little Legs of Literary Characters

With her playful line of bookmarks, Ukrainian artist Olena Mysnyk pays homage to her favorite literary characters. But instead of depicting the faces of beloved characters like Harry Potter or Bilbo Baggins, her works highlight their iconic feet.
The MyBOOKmark collection includes bookmarks outfitted with three-dimensional sets of legs at the bottom, making it look as if the characters are literally stuck within the pages of the book. Since starting the business in 2011, Mysnyk has received over 9000 orders. The bestselling bookmarks include those that feature the ruby-slippered feet of the Wizard of Oz’s Wicked Witch of the East, the shiny limbs of C-3PO from the Star Wars franchise, and the paws of a direwolf from the Song of Ice and Fire series.
But even with the products' growing popularity, every piece Mysnyk sells is still made by hand. The bookmarks, priced at $25 and up, are available through the MyBOOKmark website or Mysnyk’s Etsy store.
Images courtesy of MyBOOKmark.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Periodic Chart of Literary Villains

Enter an Archive of 6,000 Historical Children’s Books, All Digitized and Free to Read Online

Enter an Archive of 6,000 Historical Children’s Books, All Digitized and Free to Read Online

5 Little PIgs

We can learn much about how a historical period viewed the abilities of its children by studying its children’s literature. Occupying a space somewhere between the purely didactic and the nonsensical, most children’s books published in the past few hundred years have attempted to find a line between the two poles, seeking a balance between entertainment and instruction. However, that line seems to move closer to one pole or another depending on the prevailing cultural sentiments of the time. And the very fact that children’s books were hardly published at all before the early 18th century tells us a lot about when and how modern ideas of childhood as a separate category of existence began.

“By the end of the 18th century,” writes Newcastle University professor M.O. Grenby, “children’s literature was a flourishing, separate and secure part of the publishing industry in Britain.” The trend accelerated rapidly and has never ceased—children’s and young adult books now drive sales in publishing (with 80% of YA books bought by grown-ups for themselves).

Grenby notes that “the reasons for this sudden rise of children’s literature” and its rapid expansion into a booming market by the early 1800s “have never been fully explained.” We are free to speculate about the social and pedagogical winds that pushed this historical change.
Afloat with Nelson

Or we might do so, at least, by examining the children’s literature of the Victorian era, perhaps the most innovative and diverse period for children’s literature thus far by the standards of the time. And we can do so most thoroughly by surveying the thousands of mid- to late 19th century titles at the University of Florida’s Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature. Their digitized collection currently holds over 6,000 books free to read online from cover to cover, allowing you to get a sense of what adults in Britain and the U.S. wanted children to know and believe.
Zig Zag

Several genres flourished at the time: religious instruction, naturally, but also language and spelling books, fairy tales, codes of conduct, and, especially, adventure stories—pre-Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew examples of what we would call young adult fiction, these published principally for boys. Adventure stories offered a (very colonialist) view of the wide world; in series like the Boston-published Zig Zag and English books like Afloat with Nelson, both from the 1890s, fact mingled with fiction, natural history and science with battle and travel accounts. But there is another distinctive strain in the children’s literature of the time, one which to us—but not necessarily to the Victorians—would seem contrary to the imperialist young adult novel.
Bible Picture Book

For most Victorian students and readers, poetry was a daily part of life, and it was a central instructional and storytelling form in children’s lit. The A.L.O.E.’s Bible Picture Book from 1871, above, presents “Stories from the Life of Our Lord in Verse,” written “simply for the Lord’s lambs, rhymes more readily than prose attracting the attention of children, and fastening themselves on their memories.” Children and adults regularly memorized poetry, after all. Yet after the explosion in children’s publishing the former readers were often given inferior examples of it. The author of the Bible Picture Book admits as much, begging the indulgence of older readers in the preface for “defects in my work,” given that “the verses were made for the pictures, not the pictures for the verses.”
Elfin Rhymes

This is not an author, or perhaps a type of literature, one might suspect, that thinks highly of children’s aesthetic sensibilities.  We find precisely the opposite to be the case in the wonderful Elfin Rhymes from 1900, written by the mysterious “Norman” with “40 drawings by Carton Moorepark.” Whoever “Norman” may be (or why his one-word name appears in quotation marks), he gives his readers poems that might be mistaken at first glance for unpublished Christina Rossetti verses; and Mr. Moorepark’s illustrations rival those of the finest book illustrators of the time, presaging the high quality of Caldecott Medal-winning books of later decades. Elfin Rhymes seems like a rare oddity, likely published in a small print run; the care and attention of its layout and design shows a very high opinion of its readers’ imaginative capabilities.
Elfin Rhymes 2

This title is representative of an emerging genre of late Victorian children’s literature, which still tended on the whole, as it does now, to fall into the trite and formulaic. Elfin Rhymes sits astride the fantasy boom at the turn of the century, heralded by hugely popular books like Frank L. Baum’s Wizard of Oz series and J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. These, the Harry Potters of their day, made millions of young people passionate readers of modern fairy tales, representing a slide even further away from the once quite narrow, “remorselessly instructional… or deeply pious” categories available in early writing for children, as Grenby points out.
All Around the Moon

Where the boundaries for kids’ literature had once been narrowly fixed by Latin grammar books and Pilgrim’s Progress, by the end of the 19th century, the influence of science fiction like Jules Verne’s, and of popular supernatural tales and poems, prepared the ground for comic books, YA dystopias, magician fiction, and dozens of other children’s literature genres we now take for granted, or—in increasingly large numbers—we buy to read for ourselves. Enter the Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature here, where you can browse several categories, search for subjects, authors, titles, etc, see full-screen, zoomable images of book covers, download XML versions, and read all of the over 6,000 books in the collection with comfortable reader views. Find more classics in our collection, 800 Free eBooks for iPad, Kindle & Other Devices.
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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Monday, January 25, 2016

Find the Six Words

Book, Story, Read, Novel, Page, & Words

Can You Find Them?