They’re Not What They Seem…

Can you figure out what these women have in common?

AlanaAlanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce “I did this because I wanted to become a knight.”



Jacket.aspxShadowbridge by Gregory Frost “I did this because I needed to protect myself.”



Jacket.aspxThe Education of Bet by Lauren Baratz-Logsted “I did this because I wanted an education.”



jacketA Soldier’s Secret: The Incredible True Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero by Marissa Moss “I did this because I wanted to escape from my previous life and fight for a cause.”



Jacket.aspxTwelfth Night by William Shakespeare “I did this because I needed a way to live.”



Jacket.aspxDisney’s Mulan “I did this because I needed to protect my family.”



Jacket.aspxBloody Jack by L.A. Meyer. “I did this because I wanted to sail around the world.”



Jacket.aspxSelf-Made Man by Norah Vincent “I did this because I wanted to learn about how men live.”



Jacket.aspxRowan Hood: Outlaw Girl of Sherwood Forest by Nancy Springer “I did this because I was searching for my father.”



Ouran High School Host Club by Bisco Hatori “I did this because I was in debt.”



Did you guess? Women disguised as men. They were disguised so they could fight for themselves or their families, protect themselves when they were all alone in a man’s world, and earn an education, which they would have been denied otherwise. Each and every one of these is absolutely fascinating. Do yourself a favor and work your way through this list!

Do you have any favorite books/movies/plays with this subject that did not make this list?

Top Twenty Book Club Picks

book clubBelow is a list of the top 20 favorite books for book clubs.  How many has your club read?

  1.  The Help – Kathryn Stockett
  2. Water for Elephants – Sara Gruen
  3. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer
  4. Sarah’s Key – Tatiana de Rosnay
  5. Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
  6. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
  7. The Art of Racing In The Rain – Garth Stein
  8. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson
  9. The Glass Castle – Jeannette Walls
  10.  Hotel On the Corner of Bitter and Sweet – Jami Ford
  11.  Snow Flower and the Secret Fan – Lisa See
  12.  The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
  13.  The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
  14.  Little Bee – Chris Cleave
  15.  Cutting for Stone – Abraham Verghese
  16.  Life of Pi – Yann Martel
  17.  The Memory Keepers Daughter – Kim Edwards
  18.  The Paris Wife – Paula McCain
  19.  Still Alice – Lisa Genova
  20.  The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold

Author Career Achievement Awards – 2012

awardRomantic Times Book Review magazine announced the 2012 winners of the prestigious Career Achievement Awards.  Fifty reviewers and editors chose these winners from a long list of nominees.  They are:

  1.  Contemporary Romance – Jill Shalvis
  2. Erotic Romance – Jaci Burton
  3. Historical Romance – Mary Balogh
  4. Inspirational – Mindy Starns Clark
  5. Mainstream – Kristin Hannah
  6. Mystery – Sara Paretsky
  7. Paranormal – Maggie Shayne
  8. Romantic Suspense – Cherry Adair
  9. Science Fiction – Jo Walton
  10. Series Romance – Diana Palmer
  11. Urban Fantasy – Kelley Armstrong
  12. Young Adult – Christopher Pike

Mining Books to Map Emotions


So what were the happiest years in the last century?  I was driving home on April Fool’s Day  listening, as always, to NPR when this fascinating segment aired on analyzing the use of emotional words in books over the last century. A bunch of researchers in England decided that it would be interesting to use a computer program to track the use of hundreds of “emotion” words  from millions of books published over the last 100 years and digitized by Google.  All kinds of books were included from novels to technical manuals.  (Who knew that technical manuals had emotional content!) The original idea was to see if certain words became more popular at certain times, but the researchers didn’t really expect much.  However, what they discovered surprised them.

Check it out for yourself!  Read (or listen to) the the rest of the article on the NPR Health Blog.

Connecticut Picturebook Authors

Did you know that some of the most famous, and most loved, children’s authors live in Connecticut? I know that when I sat down determined to find out if any of my favorite authors are, or were, local I was amazed at the caliber of wonderful children’s books that were written right here in Connecticut. Here is a sampling of my favorite picturebook authors that I discovered to be own state treasures.

Mercer Mayer is the writer and illustrator for Little Critter First Readers, as well as Little Critter Spectrum. He began writing and illustrating children’s books in 1966 and has published over 300 titles. He also happens to live in Roxbury Connecticut. I loved the Little Critter books growing up, and now I get to share that love with my children with books like Just for You, There’s a Nightmare in My Closet and Just Go to Bed.

There’s a Nightmare in My Closet

Just for You

Anne Rockwell lives in Old Greenwich Connecticut. You might recognize her name from many picturebooks that are family and library favorites. Many of Anne’s early works were illustrated by her husband Harlow Rockwell. After his death in 1988, their daughter Lizzy stepped up and illustrated many of her books. Apples and Pumpkins, Whoo! Whoo! Goes the Train, and The First Snowfall are some of my favorites.

The First Snowfall

Apples and Pumpkins

Nancy Elizabeth Wallace grew up in Rowayton Connecticut, and now lives in Branford Connecticut. She writes and illustrates her picturebooks with cut paper art style images. Nancy often does research at the library for her science based books. She also collects what she is writing about, so that she can see and touch them in order to spark wonder, curiosity, questions, and better understanding. Stars! Stars! Stars!, Baby Day!, Pumpkin Day!, and Count Down to Clean Up! are some of her books that I remember most.

Count Down to Clean Up!

Baby Day!

Unfortunately, one of my favorite children’s author that was born and raised in Meriden Connecticut has since moved up to New Hampshire, Tomie De Paola. He is best known for his Strega Nona books and unique illustration style. Tomie dePaola has written (and/or illustrated) over 200 books for children. He and his work has received the Smithson Medal from the Smithsonian Institution, the Kerlan Award from the University of Minnesota, and the Regina Medal from the Catholic Library Association. My children and I love the books about Strega Nona, Big Anthony, and Bill and Pete books.

Pete and Bill to the Rescue

Strega Nona

Sadly, last year an amazing Connecticut resident, that also happened to be renowned children’s authors and illustrator, passed away. Maurice Sendak, passed away in May of 2012. This Ridgefield Connecticut resident wrote over twenty books, and illustrated more than four times that many. Most connect his name with Where the Wild Things Are, but I fondly remember Chicken Soup with Rice and his illustrations in Else Holmelund Minarik’s Little Bear books as well.

Little Bear

Where the Wild Things Are

There are several phenomenal authors of adult books, young adult books, and children’s chapter books here in our little state as well. I will be sharing some information and favorite books from those Connecticut residents in the weeks to come, so stay tuned.