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YA Book Review and Giveaway: Cogling


Jordan Elizabeth is not only a great YA author, she is one cool lady.  In Cogling, Edna’s little brother, Harrison is stolen by Hags-replaced with a construct made of his breath, magic, and a pocketwatch: a cogling.  Edna will stop at nothing to get her real brother back.  Teaming up with an unlikely accomplice, Edna leaves the only place she has ever known and heads for the swamp where the Hags live, intent on rescuing her brother.  Along the way, she discovers conspiracies and secrets all around her.  Monsters help and hinder her.   Her greatest ally reveals that he is not what he first seemed.  Amidst all this intrigue, can Edna save her brother and, perhaps, the kingdom?

Cogling is filled with Elizabeth’s trademark kindness to animals and tolerance of others themes.  Though the creatures in this steampunk glory are fantastical (think scurrying soot demons instead of mice and foxkins who are hunted like foxes even though they wear clothes and can speak), Elizabeth leaves no doubt that cruelty and intolerance are not her cup of tea.  Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t heavy-handed stuff.  You pick it up from Edna’s thoughts and reactions, and you can’t help but feel the same way.  Which is a really good way to sneak in a lesson against prejudice on your littles.  Yeah yeah.

One of the things I love about Elizabeth’s books is that she never quite ends them where you expect them to end.  She always has something else to say.  The poetically cryptic chapter headings intrigued me just as much as the story did.  The lavishly built world through which Edna and Ike fight their way to truth and tolerance is never boring, and the perils our heroes face are many and varied.  Listen, this book is one harrowing adventure after another.  Edna grows from a meek, uncertain thing into a heroine with real backbone.  Ike forgives himself for a past over which he had no control anyway.  And the kingdom… Well, I’ll let you read it and find out for yourself.

I would caution that while there is no sex in the book, there are some allusions to it that you might feel are too much for your tween or early teen.  I’ll leave that up to you–every parent has her own threshold.  Regardless, Cogling is a wonderful fantasy adventure with believable characters set in a rich world that rivals any invented.  It’s an excellent read.

Because I loved it so much, and because Jordan is just cool like that, I’m offering a free e-copy to a winning reader.  Jordan has said she can provide a mobi, epub, or pdf copy directly to the winner.  So make sure you enter, and you can read this excellent novel for yourself.  You have until midnight on  Monday, February 15, to enter , and I will announce the winner during next Tuesday’s YA Book Review.  Good luck!

If you want to learn more about Jordan and her other books, you can visit her website.

Cogling Giveaway


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Story Time: Guess How Much I Love You

Story Time: Guess How Much I Love You - Valentine crafts and activities to go with the picture book

Isn’t that just about the best Valentine sentiment you can think of?

Guess How Much I love you is such a sweet, lyrical book.  I imagine we’ve all read it to our littles at some point, and if you haven’t, do so immediately.  It is hard to express the unending amount of love we have for our children.  Even they can never understand the truth behind the way we would lay down in traffic for them, take a bullet for them, stand between them and anything that could hurt them.  Because of that love.  The kind that goes all the way to the moon and back.

Maybe this book can give them a sense of it.  Maybe the antics of Little Nutbrown Hare will make them giggle.  Maybe the gorgeous watercolors by Anita Jeram will give them that sense of wonder and peace only a good picture book can.  Whatever their response, they will be sure to enjoy this beautiful book.  Here are some activities for them to enjoy along with it.

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14 Fabulous Sites for Free Homeschooling

14 fabulous sites for free homeschooling

Sometimes, life hands you a blog post.  I had intended to write about something very different today, but last night a woman I like very much pm’d me on Facebook.  Her daughter is about to start homeschooling her own littles, and she wondered if I could advise them where to go to get free curriculum.  I started getting the list together for her, and I realized this list might benefit a whole lot of people, even veterans looking to spruce up their schooling plans.  So rather than pm her back and keep all this yummy goodness between us, I thought it might be a good idea to share it with you, too.  I’m cool like that.

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5 Ways to Love Your Library!

Image from bettefetter.com

Image from bettefetter.com

I remember it well.  The town where I grew up was right in the center of three towns that hugged the riverbank and each other.  My town was the smallest back then, though we had the only mall.  What we didn’t have was a library.

I would hop on my bike and ride more than three miles in the sweltering summer sun, the blustery winter day, and all the days in between, just to reach the nearest library.  Opening the doors was like entering a fairy land.  Stepping into the cool rooms after the hot sunshine was like slipping on an invisibility cloak.  Noise ceased.  Self-consciousness abandoned me.  I didn’t have to speak if I didn’t want and no one spoke to me unless invited.

And it smelled of old books.  Worn, turned pages, forever ink, cloth covers.  I would inhale and feel whatever worries had followed me slip away.  Straight to the fiction stacks.  All the authors, all the stories, the thousands of places I could go, and all I had to do was pick one.

I never picked just one.  I picked 10 and hoped I could read them all before they were due back.  I picked 20 because all that knowledge was so interesting and surely I could fit them all in?  Once I’d picked my fiction, I would head to nonfiction and pick something to read while I was there.  Sit down at one of the long, cool tables all by myself and learn as much as I could in the time I had.

Once I’d glutted myself, I would put all my fiction into a bag, sling the bag over a handlebar, and bike back home, content.

Did you love your library like that?  Do your littles?

February is here and while that means hearts and valentines, it is also a time to celebrate that other love–your love of books.  More specifically, your love of that place you can go to borrow books For Free, to sit and enjoy a book in a quiet atmosphere For Free, away from consumerism and noisy salespeople and hot sunshine and cold wind…

Book stores are exciting, but they are not the same.

There’s something about the library.  It holds so many secrets.  When you pick a book, you are picking up the history of all the people who have read it before you and all the places that book has been.  It’s a story within a story.

There are things you can do to show appreciation for your local library.

  1. Donate $20 to their children’s activities fund. Besides buying books, organizing and implementing story times, book clubs, and other children’s activities is one of the biggest costs a library has.  I’ve had times in my library career when I only had $5 a week to spend.  I am not exaggerating.  Lots of donation letters were written.  It is hard to have quality library activities on $5 a week.  Donating a little money to the cause may lessen your children’s librarian’s load and ensure your children are getting the quality time they need at the library.
  2. Go through your books at home and donate those you no longer read.  One of the most exciting things that happens for librarians is being given a box or two of books to add to the shelves.  Especially if you live in a rural area where money is always tight, this is a super helpful way to support your library.
  3. Offer to Volunteer.  You’d be amazed at how much help a library needs.  Whether it’s shelving books or helping corral kids at story time, your volunteer work will make a big difference.
  4. Host a library visit.  Have any friends who don’t have library cards?  Pile them into the car and introduce them to that wonderful world.  A lot of techies these days think the library is archaic. Not so.  They’ve just forgotten or never learned the Truth About the Library (see above for that truth).
  5. Join your local Friends of the Library The Friends usually do things like assist the library physically and hold book sales and other sales to raise funds.  It doesn’t take much time to be involved, and it can really make a difference.

If nothing else, just make sure you take your littles to the library every week for the month.  Bake cookies for the librarians.  Tell them how much you appreciate their efforts.  Everybody loves to hear they’re doing a good job.  Most of all, when you do visit the library, stop at the door.  Inhale the scents and the silence.  Let yourself be transported the way you were when you were little.  And make sure your littles love it like that.  After all,

Love wins,