Books Diversity Reading Challenge

Ira’s Shakespeare Dream by Glenda Armand Illustrations by Floyd Cooper

This above all…to thine own self be true

Shakespeare. Iambic pentameter. Such good stuff!

Young Ira Aldridge loved The Bard too. In the early 19th century, however, the last thing many Blacks could think about was Shakespeare.  When many people were sold into slavery or trying to make a living to feed their families, acting in plays seemed foolish.  And Ira’s father told him so.

Blogging from A to Z Challenge Books Children

T is for Twerp #AtoZ Challenge



Yep that’s right. Twerp.  Intrigued aren’t you?




Bullying makes PammyPam one sad panda.  But did you ever stop to consider what goes on in the brain of the BULLY? Me neither.  Here’s some insight:

It’s not like I meant for him to get hurt. . . .

Julian Twerski isn’t a bully. He’s just made a big mistake. So when he returns to school after a weeklong suspension, his English teacher offers him a deal: if he keeps a journal and writes about the terrible incident that got him and his friends suspended, he can get out of writing a report on Shakespeare. Julian jumps at the chance. And so begins his account of life in sixth grade–blowing up homemade fireworks, writing a love letter for his best friend (with disastrous results), and worrying whether he’s still the fastest kid in school. Lurking in the background, though, is the one story he can’t bring himself to tell, the one story his teacher most wants to hear.


Makes you think, doesn’t it? To be sure, bullying is still wrong but this insight into the bully’s mind might help stop it before it starts.


In the fall I love to participate in Bullying Prevention activities.  What about you?



OMG, It’s Like, Shakespeare: The Twisted Lit series!

Shakespeare is on Twitter.

Ok maybe not really but did you ever wonder what he would be like if some of the stuffy old Shakespearean plays were rewritten with a modern twist?

Well, I have something for you. Shakespeare geeks unite because chic book geeks Amy and Kim reinterpret Shakespeare into a series called Twisted Lit.

And it’s fun! Here are the two I’m currently reading:


exposureDouble, double, toil, and trouble! The quest for high-school royalty can turn deadly when teen ambition outstrips reason. Skye Kingston is a shy shutterbug who prefers observing life from behind her camera lens. She doesn’t know she’s stunning, and comes off the sidelines only when she’s forced to by the terrifying events of one treacherous school year in Alaska. A boy named Duncan is dead, and his death may or may not be an accident. Skye’s three new best friends are eerily able to foretell the future, and cheerleader Beth might be more than a social climber–she quite probably is a sociopath.

Then there’s Skye’s growing attraction to the school hottie, Craig, The Boy Who Would Be Prom King. But their time is crossed by fate. There’s already been one death, and who can say if it’s only the first? As Skye falls for Craig, she also slowly realizes that he is caught in the crosshairs of a deadly plot. Can she save Craig and herself from a murderous fate? Exposure is not only a modern take on the classic Macbeth, it’s proof that nothing has changed since Shakespeare riffed on the subject nearly half a millennium ago: the quest for power can lead to bloodstained hands.


Sounds just like Junior year, right?  Now check this out..


After a mistake with big financial consequences topples her throne, former “it girl” Miranda Prospero is bitter: she finds herself stranded in a crazed new world, holding court among geeks and misfits at a mall Hot Dog Kabob stand. Then, she gets her chance for revenge.

When the storm of the decade snows in the mall workers and last-minute shopaholics for a long winter’s night, Miranda sets out to get back at the catty clique who was behind her exile. But there’s a complication. She somehow gets handcuffed to sullen loner Caleb. With him (literally) bound to her side, Miranda learns more in one night about her own heart, and human nature, than she ever did as prep royalty.

With this twisted take on Shakespeare’sThe Tempest, authors Kim Askew and Amy Helmes prove again that, from Juliet’s grief to Cordelia’s rage, no one knew about teen angst better than the Bard. His wisdom holds up nearly half a millennium later.



It’s true, right? Shakespeare still has a read on teen angst.

I love this series so hard. It’s like I wrote it myself. Except I didn’t; my two new besties Amy and Kim wrote it. To be sure, you prolly won’t get accepted into Oxford by reading this series, but they will certainly make reading Shakespeare less intimidating and a whole lot more relatable.

Check out my besties on their tumblr and see all the fun they’re having!

Maybe Shakespeare is on Twitter? If he is, I wish he’d tweet me.  Or maybe he’s on Instagram? Wonder what his selfies look like?


Books Young Adult

#allouryesterdays a Cristin Terrill Hotlight Spotlight

Cristil Terill - All Our Yesterdays

Woot! The Hotlight Spotlight is on Cristin Terrill today! Terrill is the author of All Our Yesterdays, a thrilling Young Adult time travel book.

Did I say time travel?

You betcha!

Here’s a teaser:

Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.

Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present–imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.

Marina has loved her best friend, James, since they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Marina will protect James no matter what, even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it… at least, not as the girl she once was. Em and Marina are in a race against time and each other, and only one of them can win.

huh, huh?

Racing against time (and possibly yourself) sounds pretty Back to The Future-ish, doesn’t it?  Without the DeLorean, of course, but if you’ve always suspected the space time continuum is REAL, then this is the book for you.

Stay tuned to this channel, folks, as I might make a video just for Cristin, my newest bestie (waving). Meanwhile, here’s this:

All Our Yesterdays collage

Want more of Cristin Terrill? You can find her here.

Blogging from A to Z Challenge Young Adult

Missing L #AtoZChallenge, Lizzie Speare and the Cursed Tomb

I hate when that happens.  You know you have a book and you can’t find it anywhere.  Kinda like my Looking for Alaska book by my BF John Green.  I lost it and it’s killing me.  Well it happened again.  I lost the Lizzie Speare book.


Lizzie Spear and the Cursed Tomb

Lizzie Spear is by Ally Malinenko, who if you remember, did a guest post a minute ago. Check it out here. Ally is on Goodreads! Here’s what they’re saying about Lizzy Speare…


…a normal twelve year old girl with a talent for writing, who has a very not normal family secret. And when Lizzy’s father vanishes, that secret will change her life in ways unimagined. (Spoiler Alert! It turns out that Lizzy, or Elizabeth S. Speare, is the last living descendant of William Shakespeare. Shhh! Don’t tell anybody!)

Then Lizzy and her best friend Sammy are kidnapped, awakening in the faraway land of Manhattan. Their host is Jonathan Muse, whose job is to protect Lizzy from becoming the latest victim in a family feud nearly five hundred years old. Could that be why the mysterious, eye patch-wearing Dmitri Marlowe is after her? (Spoiler Alert 2—he’s the last living descendant of Christopher Marlowe, a friend and rival of Shakespeare’s. But keep it to yourself!) Is Marlowe after Lizzy’s family fortune rumored to be kept in Shakespeare’s tomb? Does he seek artistic immortality? Or Revenge (with a capital R) for a death long, long ago?

In a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse, Lizzy and Sammy are thrust into the realm of the mythical and fantastic—from satyrs and Cyclopses to Middle Eastern cab drivers and Brooklyn hipsters—in what is truly “an improbable fiction” as the Bard himself once wrote.

what what?



How I Almost Sort of Saw Shakespeare’s Grave by Ally Malinenko

 “Lord what fools these mortals be!”

– Puck. A Midsummer Nights Dream, Act 3, Scene 2

My new bestie Ally Maliniko wrote a fun book called Lizzie Spear and the Cursed Tomb which I can’t wait to read.

bookphoto biophoto

I begged asked Pally Ally to hang with us at Unconventional Librarian and talk about Shakespeare.  She relented said yes, yay!

We took the train from London up to Stratford Upon Avon halfway through our England trip. We had already seen the houses that the Beatles lived in, including the mews where Paul used to slip out the back to avoid the crowds. We had drunk lots of luke-warm beer in pubs and eaten ale pies and fish and chips. We had already been through the Tower of London and saw where people were imprisoned and beheaded. We walked Fleet Street, cut through Piccadilly Circus, found the Peter Pan statue (and J.M. Barrie’s home) and crossed Abbey Road like a couple of tourists. In my suitcase I had tickets for Love’s Labours Lost at the Globe upon our return from Stratford.

You see, I had always wanted to go to London. Yes, the Beatles and yes the history and yes the good food and cool accents but more than anything else I wanted to go because I am a Bardolator. I am card carrying Bardolator if any of us Bardolators bothered to make cards.

Not familiar with the term? It’s described as such:

bardolatry [bɑːˈdɒlətrɪ]


Facetious idolatry or excessive admiration of William Shakespeare (1564-1616), the English dramatist and poet

So that’s us. Those lunatics that can’t get enough of Shakespeare. As you can imagine taking a train up to Stratford Upon Avon, the birthplace of Shakespeare, was the best part of this London trip. And the best part of being in Stratford would be seeing the final resting place of one Mr. Shakespeare.

See, I wrote this book called Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb because I loved Shakespeare and I couldn’t help but wonder how cool it would be to be the last living descendent of Shakespeare. But the “Cursed Tomb” part – I didn’t need to make that up.

The Bard is buried in the chancel of Holy Trinity Church. And his epitaph is by far the greatest that has ever been written since they started putting chisel to stone in honor of the dead:

Good Friend for Jesus Sake Forbeare to Digg the Dust Enclosed Heare

Blest Be Ye Man Yt Spares these Stone and Curst Be He Yt Moves My Bones

Ye gads! Hark and Haloo and all those other 16th century terms of exclamation. A cursed tomb? Yes please!

We were promptly checked into the most amazing Tudor hotel in the most amazing town in the world which looked like it was yanked straight out of the 1500s. It’s exactly the way you’re picturing it – narrow winding cobble streets, thatched roofs, gardens spilling roses out onto the walkway. Picture perfect.

Now the folks that run Stratford are well aware that Bardolators (i.e. crazies) like me come up here to see as much Shakespeare stuff as they can so they put together this five house deal. You can see his birthplace, where his kids lived, etc, etc with one ticket. So my husband says to me, “Where do you want to start?”

And as demurely as possible I say, “I guess with his birth house,” even though both I know and he knows that is a flat out lie. He grabs my hand and says, “Let’s go see the old boy’s bones.”

And off we got to Trinity Church. Now, gentle reader, my heart is in my throat. I can’t recall a time when I was more excited than I was walking those winding paths approaching the church.

I don’t know if it was the scaffolding I saw before the closed sign or the sign before the scaffolding.

I don’t think it even registered. I was too busy watching the swans float down Avon. Once we headed in through the first set of doors though, I knew something was wrong. On the second set of double doors there was a sign indicating that due to construction the Chancel was closed. Closed. The same words I had read outside that my brain refused to comprehend. Due to construction the Chancel is closed.

The chancel – where Shakespeare is buried – was closed. Closed? It suddenly became a foreign word. How could it possibly be closed?

My husband watching my face drop grabbed the first the first person he saw. We flew here, he explained. Over an OCEAN, he said. We have to see his grave, he begged.

“I’m sorry sir. It can’t be helped,” the soft spoken church manager replied before walking off in his squeaky shoes.

Ever seen that Chevy Chase movie National Lampoon’s Vacation? The scene when they get to Wally World and John Candy tells them it’s closed? “Moose outside should have told you.” And Chevy Chase proceeds to punch the moose in the nose. (I’m really dating myself here aren’t I?). That was me. I was going to punch a moose.

As we stood about 15 feet from the chancel and tried to peer though the scaffolding to see what might have been the edge of the stone in the floor that marked the final resting place of the greatest writer who ever lived, my husband put his arm around me and gave it a little squeeze.

“It’s okay,” he said.

I nodded, even though it wasn’t. It was far from okay.

“I mean it’s okay if you squeeze right through there,” he said, pointing at the construction blocking the entry to the Chancel. “I promise I’ll bail you out. It’s worth getting arrested over.”

I smiled. Tempting. It was very tempting. I won’t lie, gentle reader, I almost did it.

Instead, I guess we’ll just have to go back to Stratford again, right? Will’s waiting out there, cursed tomb and all. And this time, I can bring his descendant with me.


Ok? No-K (Big Fat Greek Wedding reference)! But I’m kinda of the mindset that getting arrested in a foreign country MIGHT make for good cocktail chatter, it could also be a good reason to be put in a really scary prison a la Bridget Jones…

How fun is she? Check her out at  She’s on Twitter  and GoodReads too! You GOTTA be friends with a person who quotes Lewis Carroll and trolls the Bard’s grave, right?




Dewey's Read-a-thon

I’ve got the moves like Jagger: #Readathon

I’ve been busy today and STILL trying to squeeze in the Read a thon reading.

I’m reading

The Soldier’s Wife by Margaret Leroy

I’m on page 212.


because i can’t resist making another one of my fractured greeting cards:

 I’ve got the moves like Jagger

Shakespeare, anyone?

thanks for all the support so far!