The U.L.S. The Underground Library Society Guest Post by Amanda Cade!

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I want to thank Amanda Cade for her wonderful guest post for the ULS, The Underground Library Society. She has an excellent blog, and I hope you take the time to visit her site: Amanda Cade

Underground Library Society: The Martian Chronicles

Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is, without question, one of the most captivating and disturbing books I’ve ever read. I was an early reader, and by the time I was five or six years old I was spending hours each day lost in the fascinating worlds of fiction. I received books for birthdays and Christmas, made weekly trips to the school and county libraries, and was the only kid I knew who was grounded from reading instead of television when I got in trouble at home. I still read every day, and in any given week I’ll finish between two and six books, depending on how busy my life is. So the picture of a world without books was, and still is, a deeply upsetting image.

When Dr. French extended his invitation to join the Underground Library Society, I knew I had to accept immediately. There was no question that I would, in this scenario, happily memorize and preserve a book. The difficulty was in choosing one of the thousands I have read in my lifetime, one of the hundreds that have played an important part in who am and how I see the world. At first, that decision was almost paralyzing, but when the answer came, it was so obvious I couldn’t believe it hadn’t immediately occurred to me. The book I can’t imagine being lost to the world is another work by Bradbury himself: The Martian Chronicles.

When I was in junior high school, one of my English teachers selected a short story or poem every week to read aloud to the class and form the basis for discussion. Her selections varied widely in tone, content, and genre, and looking back I realize that she must have been deliberately giving us a “tasting menu” of literature, hoping we would discover something that truly captured our interest. One week, her selection was Bradbury’s story “There Will Come Soft Rains”.

I think it’s important to emphasize once more exactly how much I had read at this point in my life. I was the stereotypical bookworm, with some (well, to be honest, a lot) of difficulty on the social scene, so for years I had spent most of my spare time reading. I was already reading on a high school level, and would finish most books in a day. On a weekend, I might read five. My point is that I was very familiar with the power of a good story, and if I had been self-aware enough to wonder if one of my teacher’s stories was going to create the transcendent moment she was hoping for, I would have been skeptical at best.

So I was unprepared for the impact of this particular story. If you haven’t read it, it’s set in Bradbury’s image of a smart house, a concept that is familiar today but was a pure dream when Bradbury wrote the story in 1950. It was still a dream when I heard the story in a 1980s classroom. As my teacher read, the picture of the house, with its cheerful robot voices and pampering machines, gripped my imagination more strongly than anything I had read in a long time. You see, for all of my years of nearly obsessive reading, I had yet to explore science fiction.

Shortly into the tale, my fascination with the setting was overcome with the uneasy realization that this magical house was empty. Now there was a mystery, and as Bradbury continued to describe the house’s routine and weave in clues, the unease gave way to understanding, and then to horror. The final image was so profoundly sad and disturbing that I found myself crying…and desperate to hear the story again.

I’ve searched my memory while writing this post, and while I can recall many times since then that I have had such a profound reaction to a story, I can’t think of one prior to that Friday afternoon class. That was the day that I began to move beyond reading for pleasure and started to read for theme, for understanding, for that so often elusive emotional resonance that Stephen King describe as something that “will recur. And recur. And recur…Until it shines”.

At the end of class, I asked my teacher where I could find the story, and she simply handed me a copy of The Martian Chronicles. I started reading as soon as I got home, and finished the entire collection that same evening. I could speak at length about every story in the book, but let me simply say this: in addition to adding to my newly kindled desire for more science fiction, every story pulsed with deeper meaning. Through stories of technology, telepathy, exploration, and so on Bradbury prompted his readers to think deeply about jealousy, loneliness, relationships, bigotry, fear, perception, and so many other essential elements of the human condition.

I was enthralled. I was confused. I was disturbed, and shattered, and exhilarated, and desperate not only to read more but to understand, because for the first time in my reading experience I also truly grasped that there were messages and ideas here that were still out of my reach…and I wanted them.

The following Monday, my teacher was ready with a copy of The Martian Chronicles and a collection of stories by Edgar Allan Poe, because she had guessed (correctly) that I might want to understand the context of “Usher II”. By Wednesday, I was in the library checking out every Bradbury book they had. They would take me weeks to read, and years to fully understand, but I was ready for the challenge. Within a month, I was pestering librarians to point me to more science fiction, and then to other books, in any genre, that meant something.

For me, that search for meaning and resonance continues to this day, and so The Martian Chronicles is a book that I believe we simply cannot afford to lose.

 

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Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And His Wisdom

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“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

“Courage is an inner resolution to go forward despite obstacles;
Cowardice is submissive surrender to circumstances.

Courage breeds creativity; Cowardice represses fear and is mastered by it.
Cowardice asks the question, is it safe?
Expediency ask the question, is it politic?
Vanity asks the question, is it popular?

But conscience ask the question, is it right? And there comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.”

More Reviews of Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 1 by Charles F. French

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I truly enjoyed reading this book for many reasons. First, it was easy to read and understand exactly what was being said. I also enjoyed reading and knowing more about all the characters and was wondering how they will all relate to later on. Reading this book kind of reminded me a bit of the movie crash, in regards to learning about the characters and how they will all relate to each other. I also got the chills at different times when reading the book. I loved the fact that I thought I knew what was going to happen and I was all wrong, great twist. Lastly, I liked that it has short chapters, and each chapter introduced a different character or setting; this made it very interesting. Excellent book, highly recommend for all audience. C.D

 

 

 

GallowsHillFinalCoverEbook

Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

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Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

FOE_Cover_French

 

Available on Amazon

 

The Poet’s Dog

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Here is a lovely book recommendation from Jennie, that excellent teacher!

A Teacher's Reflections

As winter is upon us, I am once again drawn to the best book, The Poet’s Dog.  Fall in love with a dog, a poet, and children- magnificently written, through the voice of the dog.  A winter storm has arrived here in New England, so yes, I’ll be reading this book.

“Dogs speak words.  But only poets and children hear.”

Those are the opening words in Patricia MacLachlan’s book, The Poet’s Dog.  I have read the book twice, because there are many words not to be missed; words that are pure and don’t need added adjectives and text.  MacLachlan’s writing stands alone in a field of masterful literature.  Her eighty-eight pages are some of the best I have ever read.  In the words of the publisher:

“Alone in a fierce winter storm, Nickel and Flora are brave but afraid.  A dog finds them.  Teddy speaks words and brings…

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Actions of High Schoolers–Historically Frightening

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I did not think, that at my age, I would be as shocked or frightened by a news story as I have been recently. Certainly the United States of America has become more coarse and more vulgar over the last few years. Following the pattern of the President, who regularly uses insults to degrade his opponents, many Americans seem to be following his lead.

Worse recently was the incident in which high school boys from a Catholic school, some wearing MAGA hats, confronted and insulted Mr. Nathan Phillips, a Native American of the Omaha Nation and a Vietnam War veteran while he was participating in the Indigenous Peoples’ March. In the video that has gone viral, the boys can be seen confronting and attempting to intimidate Mr. Phillips.

While watching the video, I got chills, not only for the shear ugliness of the racism and bullying behavior but also because the high school students reminded me of another group of youngsters in the past who were used to promote the worst evil the world has ever seen–the Hitler Youth of Nazi Germany. I am not claiming that they are of the same level of evil, but we are entering dangerous territory when young people feel emboldened to attack people of minorities. And the man they focused on was a former soldier, a Vietnam War veteran. They demonstrated a dangerous attitude of potential mob violence, fascism, and racism.

How dare they?

How dare we, as a society, allow this to happen unchallenged?

How dare we not speak up?

Quotations From Shakespeare: Hamlet

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On life and death:

“There is special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now; yet it will come. The readiness is all.” (Act 5. Scene 2. Lines 217-220)

 

On Acting:

“Suit the action to the word, the word to the action, with this special observance, that you o’erstep  not the modesty of nature. For anything so o’erdone is from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was and is to hold as’t were the mirror up to nature.” (Act 3. Scene 2. Lines 17-22)

 

On Fate:

“There’s a divinity that shapes our ends,

Rough-hew them how we will–” (Act 5. Scene 2. Lines 10-11)

 

Works Cited:

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. The Collect Works of Shakespeare 4th Edition. David

Bevington, Ed. Longman. New York. 1997.

 

 

January Promote Your Book Party!

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With 2019 well underway, I thought it was a good time to have the next Promote Your Book Party!

I thought it would be a good time to share what you have been writing and what you have written. I want once again to offer an opportunity for all writers who follow this blog to share information on their books. It can be very difficult to generate publicity for our writing, so I thought this little effort might help. All books may be mentioned, and there is no restriction on genre. This includes poetry and non-fiction.

To participate, simply give your name, your book, information about it, and where to purchase it in the comments section. Then please be willing to reblog and/or tweet this post. The more people that see it, the more publicity we can generate for everyone’s books.

Thank you for participating!

Keep on writing, and have a wonderful year of writing!

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Celebrate and promote your writing! Shout it out to the world! Let everyone know about your work!

Feel free to promote a new or an older book!

I hope this idea is successful, and I hope many people share information on their books!

I will continue to have this party every few weeks.

GallowsHillFinalCoverEbook

Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

32570160

Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

FOE_Cover_French

 

Available on Amazon

Doodling to Become Zen

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Here is more wonderful art from Sarah!

Art Expedition

I´m sure many of you did feel just as stressed out over the last holidays as I did. Which if you think of it, is ridiculous really, we should feel happy and excited, like we did when we we´re kids. I mean – it´s the holidays, right?

So, to help me get into a more appropriate frame of mind, i.e. feeling more relaxed about it all, I decided to try out something new – the art of Zentangle.

I´m sure all of you have doodled a little something on a piece of paper while talking on  the phone, and this is not so very different in fact.

Take me, I made all of my Zentangles in front of the TV (it does speak volumes about the quality of the programs I was watching, doesn’t it? 😉 ).

Because I didn’t want to add new stress by having to think of…

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Library Book Bears… and Bob

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Here is another excellent post from that wonderful teacher, Jennie!

A Teacher's Reflections

Book Bears is my library reading group.  These second and third graders read a book each month, and we have a discussion about the book.  We talk about everything.  Everything! Let me tell you, this group is terrific.  Everyone is different.  I sit back and watch as they talk and laugh.  The best part is that I’m included in the group.  Reading is a magnet.

In September, our first meeting of the year, everyone brings their favorite book they read over the summer.  Me, too.  I brought Bob, by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead.  Frankly, I think it’s the book of the year.  Fingers crossed for a Newbery nomination.

I picked a random page to read aloud, and I watched the children as the words went into their ears.  Oh, those words were hitting their brains.  They were wide-eyed and silent. Finally one child asked, “So who is Bob?”

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Quotations from Stephen King

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“Books are the perfect entertainment: no commercials, no batteries, hours of enjoyment for each dollar spent. What I wonder is why everybody doesn’t carry a book around for those inevitable dead spots in life.”

 

“Fiction is the truth inside the lie.”

 

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”