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review 2017-11-05 21:25
For lovers of clever and witty dialogue, geeks, sci-fi, popular culture and Oscar Wilde. A great YA story.
Not Now, Not Ever - Lily Anderson

I read and reviewed Lily Anderson’s first book The Only Thing Worse than Me Is You (you can check my review here) last year. I loved it and I mentioned that I would be watching out for more of the author’s books. When a publicist from St. Martin’s Press got in touch with me offering me to take part in the blog tour for the author’s next book, I had to check it out. When I read that this time the author’s inspiration was Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest I knew I’d fight tooth-and-nail to take part if necessary. Thankfully, it didn’t come to that, but it would have been worth it.

Elliot/Ever (if you know Wilde’s play, you’ll know that there are several people using false identities for a variety of reasons, mostly to live a different kind of life away from prying eyes) is a seventeen year old African-American girl, who lives in California, with a somewhat complicated family background (the Lawrence, on her mother’s side, have a long tradition of joining the Air Force, and her mother, in fact, teaches at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, while she lives with her father, a lawyer of French descent. Her step-Mom, Beth, is an estate agent, white, and an amateur actress, and she has a half-brother, Ethan). Her mother and all of her mother’s family expect her to join the Air Force, while her father wants her to do anything but that (mostly go to College somewhere nearby). And Elliot… Well, she wants to study Science-Fiction Literature. She is a geek. Her step-mother is about to play Gwendoline for the sixth time in an amateur production of The Importance of Being Earnest (that Elliot knows by heart from so many performances and rehearsals) and she decides to take control of her life and avoid another farcical summer. She lies to everybody around her, creates a fake identity (inspired by Wilde’s play), and after passing a genius exam to enter a summer programme (to win a fantastic scholarship to the college of her dreams, mostly because they have an amazing sci-fi collection in the library and they offer a degree in Science-Fiction Literature) she sets off to Oregon, determined to win no matter what.

Elliot/Ever soon discovers that you cannot outrun Wilde and that there’s nothing more farcical than a camp for geniuses. She has a few surprises (she’s not the only one to use a fake identity or lie), meets wonderful people (and some not quite so wonderful), finds love, and discovers what’s really important.

Like in Anderson’s previous novel, we have a first-person narration, this time by Elliot, who is a clever, witty, and determined girl. In this case she was not aware she was a genius (another member of the family was always considered the clever one), but the summer camp is not that dissimilar to the high school in the previous novel, although in this case everybody, apart from the college students who facilitate the camp, are new to the place, they don’t know each other and are thrown together in pretty stressful circumstances. We have, again, many pop culture and bigger Culture references (some, I must admit went over my head, but I didn’t mind that), a diverse group of students, but all clever, studious, dedicated, nerdy, and quirky. I loved Leigh, Elliot’s roommate, Brandon (a guy who carries a typewriter around. Come on, I’m a writer too. Who would not love him), and most of the characters. The dialogue sparkles and the quotes from Wilde’s play, that keep popping up into Elliot’s head, are sometimes humorous (I particularly like the ‘A tree!’ ‘A handbag!’ comparison) but sometimes the author chooses quotes that reflect the serious matters at hand. Although at first, it seems the furthest possible setting for such a play, the summer camp works well, as we have many restrictions, a lockdown, rules that can be broken and people hiding secrets, overhearing things they shouldn’t, and getting into all kinds of problems.

There is cheating, friendships, betrayals, bizarre but vividly portrayed contests (Star Wars based fights to the death, The Breakfast Club themed memory tests…) and young romance.

I don’t know if it was because of the build-up and the identity changes but it took me a bit longer to get into the story than it did the previous novel, but once at the camp and when I got used to Elliot/Ever’s voice and her accurate descriptions of people and things, I felt as if I was there and could not put the book down.

The ending… Well, you’ll have to read it. It’s probably not what you expect but it’s good.

Once again I’ve highlighted many bits. A few random ones:

And he was wearing loafers. I couldn’t get my swoon on for a guy who didn’t wear socks.

Two narrow pressboard wardrobes that were less Narnia, more IKEA.

She sounded as though she really meant it, but that could have been because everything she said sounded vaguely like it was licensed by Disney.

He was cute and presumably very smart and, unlike so many other white dudes, he’d never told me how much hip-hop meant to him like my melanin made me a rap ambassador.

Another great YA novel that I’d recommend to people who enjoy sci-fi and pop culture references, people who love books and libraries, and who appreciate young female characters that have interests beyond school balls and boyfriends. And of course, if you love witty dialogue, farcical plots, and are a fan of Oscar Wilde, you are in for a treat. I’ll for sure be waiting for Anderson’s next novel.

Thanks to Wednesday Books (St. Martin’s Press) and to NetGalley for providing me an ARC copy of the novel that I freely chose to review.

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review 2016-11-06 23:35
Werewolves Don't Go to Summer Camp
Werewolves Don't Go to Summer Camp - Debbie Dadey,Marcia Thornton Jones,John Steven Gurney

Grade: 4th


This story is about a camp counselor at Camp Lone Wolf. The kids in the story become suspicious of him being a werewolf after he eats his meat raw, is hair like a wolf, and is obsessed with wolves. I will read this story aloud to my students as part of a classroom management strategy. Whenever the class as a whole receives 25 gum balls in the class gum ball machine for good behavior, they will get to choose a book a reward. For this "book and a reward," we will read this story aloud as a class during read aloud time. When we finish it, the class will get to have a "Reading Camp" as their reward. They will bring sleeping bags and books to read for the day. They will present their favorite book to the class as part of the day, and they will also write a story about a time they went to summer camp and had a camp counselor that was some other type of character instead of a werewolf. Students will get to sit around a pretend campfire with a flashlight and read their story.

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text 2015-07-27 18:35
Camp Plot-A-Wanna: Call of Campthulu




To: Camp Plot-a-Wanna senior counselors
From: Camp Counselor Bill Shakespeare


At last night’s weenie and marshmallow roast, camper H. Lovecraft (Underwood Cabin) suggested the group tell scary stories around the campfire. He offered to begin a story, which the other campers could then add to. Things didn’t go exactly as planned. Here’s a transcript:



Camper Lovecraft began:


Night had fallen, draping a crepuscular pall upon the corpse of the weak and sickly twilight that preceded it. And this particular moonless nightfall seemed truly determined to snuff out all earthly sensations save for an unspeakable dread. As two young lovers shifted uneasily in the front seats of their parked automobile, they each could scarcely credit the fantastic whispers that played just beneath their faculties like the dream-soaked melody of a mad deity. Shuddering not from cold but out of some proto-human perception of the unearthly, the young man reached over and activated the vehicle’s radio receiver. It was his sincere hope that the warmth of another human voice, perhaps accompanied by a pleasant musical diversion of one sort or another, would go some way to placate the unease which chewed on his disposition like a blind maggot. But neither he nor his anxious paramour were put to ease by the troubled speech which belched hollowly from the device. The pair listened paralyzing horror as the gibbering voice of a radio programme announcer issued a dire warning pending to the sighting of a hideous bloated servant of the Elder Things, a blasphemous protoplasmic entity known as a Shoggoth. Furthermore, as described in the radio-wave broadcast message, the shapeless terror had last been seen slithering with unhuman kinesis in the very vicinity where the two increasingly horrified listeners huddled in rapt hysteria.


He seemed like he was never going to finish, or even take a breath between sentences, and the other campers were growing visibly annoyed. Finally another camper, E. Bronte (Pencilpoint Camper) interrupted:


“I say,” spoke the man, breaking the silence that hitherto hung over them both like the scent of sweet-william after an April shower, “perhaps we ought to discuss some means by which we might extricate us from this disagreeable and perhaps jeopardous position in which we find ourselves.”


“Indeed?” the woman answered coolly. “Though you no doubt reference the unfortunate revelation of an eldritch fiend in an inconvenient proximity to the very horseless conveyance in which we currently reside, I apprehend that you might speak the very same words in regard to the counterfeit sentiment you offer me in place of love.”


“I scarcely expect to receive such scorn from you,” the man replied, “Not leastwise in recompense for the many kindnesses I have shown you since your appearance on the doorstep of my household as a starving pauper, and all the more so considering the ghastly boneless ogre which prowls these moors and would gobble us up like moldy breadcakes.”


“How convenient, sir,” the woman retorted without pause, “That whenever our conversation turns to matters of the heart, it seems that Providence decrees the imminent threat of some Elder Gods or Great Old One or some horrific servant of the same. Indeed, one might think that to a gentleman, the possibility of marriage holds greater terrors than to have one’s sanity rent by a cosmic monstrosity.”


“Perhaps,” the man said after a moment, clearing his throat and reaching for the door of their carriage, “I had better investigate our surroundings for signs of the wretched beast.”


“Fine,” she said to him. “It does good to no woman to be flattered by a man who does not intend to marry her.”


“But I didn’t say—” And then the man thought better of responding, and exited the vehicle as if desperate to plunge into the miry wilds whence there is no extrication.


Most of the campers were content to let Bronte tell her part of the story, but camper A. Rand (also Pencilpoint Cabin…she and Camper Bronte do not get along) became increasingly agitated and quickly picked up the story when the time came:


Outside the car the man stopped abruptly. He felt no emotion, only the clarity of a man who lived for the sake of no one but himself. He was a rational man who desired only rational goals, and to not be eaten by a Shoggoth was a perfectly rational value. And it was in the pursuit of rational values that one performed rational acts, which were the only joy in life, that and money, which was the root of all good. So really, as long as the Shoggoth didn’t eat him or his wallet, he had nothing to fear. As for the woman, he was under no obligation to put his own life at risk for her any more than she was obliged to risk her life for him. Besides, she was probably a moocher, or a looter, it was hard to remember the difference. Either way he wasn’t into her looks. 



Camper Rand finished her segment with a satisfied smirk. The rest of the group looked completely perplexed by everything she had said. Then camper L. Carroll jumped up and began to speak:


 “Are you the monster I’ve been worrying about?” the girl said as a 15-foot horror slid its gelatinous maw around the car.


“I don’t know,” said the monster, who was able to speak clearly because, luckily, it had many other mouths besides the one it was using to eat with. 


“You don’t know if you’re a monster?” she asked him, trying to be polite even though a strange kind of ichorous mucous was seeping in through the windows and dripping all over the dashboard.


“Oh, I’m sure I’m a monster,” the thing answered. “But how am I to know if I’m the monster you were worrying about? I have no idea what’s going on inside your head, of course.”


“But I know what’s going on in your head: me,” said the girl in the car. “And soon I’ll be going on inside your stomach. Must you continue to devour me? It’s really quite rude, don’t you see?”


“I don’t see,” said the monster. “As all my eyes are currently closed up and located on the far side of my body. And I’m not devouring you, I’m devouring your car. The fact that you are inside of it is no concern of mine. I didn’t put you in there.”


“Well,” the girl asked, “Can’t you stop devouring for one moment so I can get out of the car? Take a break.”


“Take a break?” The monster seemed confused, though it continued to work the car into its wriggling gullet. “How exactly does one take a break? I know how to make a break. But once something is broken, how can that break be taken away by someone else?”


“Look,” said the girl, “All you’re doing is making a literal interpretation of everything I’m saying. That’s a pretty lazy form of humor, not to mention annoying. And furthermore…”


But by then the monster had swallowed the car, and was slithering rapidly away, as it was late for a tea party.


Camper Carroll took a bow even though no one applauded. 


Amidst all the eye-rolling and yawns, camper E. Hemingway (Ballpoint Cabin) staggered to his feet. He was clearly half-soused. (Any luck on finding out who’s been sneaking alcohol into camp?)


He stared into the campfire silently for a minute, then slurred out these lines before staggering into the woods (where, judging by the sounds, he urinated against the side of a tree for five minutes straight, then punched an opossum in the face.):


The guy watched the car get eaten. He shrugged, thinking, “Life isn't hard to manage when you've nothing to lose.



That pretty much ended things. Lovecraft was so upset he threw his marshmallow into the fire and declared that he would never again allow other writers to work with his story ideas.


I suggest that in the future, we not ask the writers to collaborate. It never seems to go well.


CAMP PLOT-A-WANNA is a weekly 8-part series where Quirk Books staffers reimagine famous authors as pre-teens, stuck together at summer camp. Check out the brochure hereget acquainted with camp, and see the lunch menu. It is also an entirely fictional place. Please don't have your parents drop you off at our offices with sleeping bags.


Don’t forget to pick up your camp t-shirts and other gear!

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text 2015-07-22 16:32
Camp Plot-A-Wanna: Lunch Menu


CAMP PLOT-A-WANNA is a weekly 8-part series where Quirk Books staffers reimagine famous authors as pre-teens, stuck together at summer camp. Check out the brochure here, and get acquainted with camp here. It is also an entirely fictional place. Please don't have your parents drop you off at our offices with sleeping bags.



Gruel: Camp Plot-A-Wanna has large quantities of unused gruel due to no one ever asking for seconds at breakfast. Therefore we will be serving the surplus on Mondays for lunch. 


Tea and Madeleines: Guaranteed to be memorable! Note: being lost in memories does not excuse campers from afternoon activities.



Soup Day! Campers have a choice of: 

Clam Chowder: This authentic New England delicacy was recently delivered to the Plot-A-Wanna kitchens via a Nantucket whaling ship. Ingredients include clams, salt-pork, and ship biscuits with most of the weevils removed. Served with an accompanying lecture by Chef Melville on the difference between fast fish and loose fish.


Chicken Soup with Rice: It’s so nice. Sip it once, sip it twice. 



As a preparation for the upcoming Color Wars, Wednesday has been designated Green Day*. Please choose from the following options:


Green Eggs and Ham: Thanks to unauthorized kitchen experiments by camper T. Geisel (Underwood Cabin), we have several servings of miscolored but otherwise edible ham and egg sandwiches available. Dining options include on a boat, with a goat, in a box, with a fox, in a house, or with a mouse (choose one). 


Fried Green Tomatoes: Served with a small portion of secret-ingredient barbecue (limited quantity available; first-come, first-serve basis).


Soylent Green: This new-fangled synthetic food is an excellent choice if no more barbecue is available. 


Also Available: A kale of two cities.

*not affiliated with the band Green Day 



Oryx and Cake: Sample the unique and exotic flavor of a rare African antelope, followed by a delicious layer cake baked with eggs from genetically engineered chickens.



Avocado Stuffed with Crabmeat: Served under glass with a grape jelly garnet sauce.

Note: Due to past incidents of food poisoning, all campers must present signed wavers before eating. Electroshock therapy sessions available as needed.



As per camp policy, campers are responsible for their own meals on weekends. Popular options include a picnic at hanging rock, breakfast at Tiffany’s, naked lunch, water for chocolate, a moveable feast, the restaurant at the end of the universe, and cooking in the night kitchen (open 6 -9 pm).


[Download The Menu Here]


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text 2015-07-03 01:22

Greetings from CAMP PLOT-A-WANNA! From our leaves of grass to our softball field of dreams, we provide the ultimate camping experience for the literately oriented. We know that the writing life is a sedentary, solitary, sickly experience, which is why our counselors and staff are trained to gently acquaint our campers with unfamiliar concepts like fresh air, sunlight, weenie roasts, and trees. At CAMP PLOT-A-WANNA, you’ll enjoy the wind in the willows, everyone eats shoots and leaves, and it’s always okay to kill a mockingbird.


CAMP PLOT-A-WANNA includes all the amenities that a vacationing writer could want. Take a walk in the woods, where the hours will feel like one hundred years of sollutude. Escape from the sound and the fury as you contemplate the sheltering sky while consulting a cloud atlas. When the bell tolls for lunch, enjoy a moveable feast of fried green tomatoes, madeleines, big fish, and perhaps a taste of blackberries or a clockwork orange (note: oranges are not the only fruit). End the day sitting around a pale fire, trying to understand why twilight is so popular (note: the sun also rises).



Special Activities:

  • Horseback Writing
  • Arts and Crafts:
  • - Wallets that are perpetually empty
  • - Rejection letter cozy
  • - Pencils refurbished from other pencils angrily snapped in half
  • - Typewriter ribbon lanyards
  • - Erasers rendered from the boiled fat of book critics
  • - Writers’ block whittling
  • Writer vs. Editor Tug-of-Wars
  • Canoeing
  • Writing, Revising, Rewriting, "Punching Up," and Redrafting Letters Home
  • Bird by Bird Watching





Download the full brochure here!

Stay tuned next Wednesday to get your daily schedule and map of camp grounds! 


*CAMP PLOT-A-WANNA is a weekly 8-part series where Quirk Books staffers reimagine famous authors as pre-teens, stuck together at summer camp. It is also an entirely fictional place. Please don't have your parents drop you off at our offices with sleeping bags. 

Source: www.quirkbooks.com/post/welcome-camp-plot-wanna
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