Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Rampant by Diana Peterfreund

Whew! It has been one crazy month! I'm so sorry to have disappeared on you, dear readers.  Grad school hit crunch time and being a novice blogger, I was not prepared for balancing school work with blog writing.  But I've been reading some fabulous books so I'm going to catch up on my reviews over the next month! Plus I've made an early New Year's Resolution to find a better time management system for the spring. In the meantime, here is my review of Rampant, which is officially my favorite book about unicorns ever. 


Diana Peterfreund

SUMMARY: Astrid wants nothing more than a normal life. She wants to go to prom with a cute boy, babysit for some extra cash, and get into a good college; more than anything, Astrid want to get away from her mother's crazy obsession with unicorns, creatures which she claims are bloodthirsty monsters driven into extinction by virgin huntresses descended from Alexander the Great.  But then Astrid's sort-of boyfriend is mauled by a vicious unicorn right in front of her and her mother is triumphantly planning Astrid's new life as a unicorn hunter and shipping her off to Rome to attend unicorn hunting bootcamp.  Suddenly Astrid's dreams of normalcy seem very far away and she finds herself swept into a whirl of archery, romance, intrigue, and, of course, unicorns. 

ONESMARTCUPCAKE THINKS: Wow! I had a feeling that this book would be amazing when I saw Tamora Pierce's very enthusiastic blurb on the back cover and happily, my trust in the great Ms. Pierce was heartily confirmed! I love discovering a new and unique fantasy world and reading Rampant was one such thrilling introduction.  Peterfreund's premise gains its initial kick from its reversal of  a popular cultural image: the conception of unicorns as sweet and innocent.  In less capable hands, the novel would never get beyond this novelty.  However, Peterfreund's thrilling plot and brilliant characterization prevent Rampant from being anything even close to a one trick pony. Instead, the novel stands out as a great story that combines all the best qualities about good fantasy while also remaining unique.  

Astrid is a wonderful narrator and heroine.  She's spunky but vulnerable and pragmatic yet passionate.  Her commentary on her strange and sudden change of situation is full of sarcastic bite and emotional openness.  Astrid's initial disbelief and resistance   to her new life add to the realism of her characterization; after all, wouldn't most of us react in much to the same way to such a huge shift in our senses of reality?  The supporting characters are equally well formed.  The plot moves quickly and Peterfreund writes great action sequences and lovely emotional moments with equal talent.  I could not put this book down; I read it far past my bedtime because I simply could not go to sleep without knowing Astrid's fate.  And the best part? There's a sequel, Ascendent!  

Rampant is thrilling, action-packed, romantic, and fantastical. I would recommend this novel for readers who like Tamora Pierce's or Kristin Cashore's novels of warrior women. 


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken

Brightly WovenBrightly Woven 

Alexandra Bracken

SUMMARY: All Sydelle Mirabil ever hoped for was some rain and a chance to escape her village in order to pursue her craft as a weaver.  Then the mysterious wizard Wayland North breezes into town and suddenly Sydelle's wishes are being granted but not quite in the ways she'd expected.  North brings rain to the village but as his reward he asks for Sydelle to become his assistant as he travels towards the capital.  While Sydelle has always wanted to see the world beyond her dusty corner of the kingdom, she is not pleased about the circumstances of her departure and even less pleased about the companionship.  The strange wizard is alternatively grumpy and teasing; he drinks too much and refuses to use magic except in special circumstances.  Soon, it also become obvious to Sydelle that North is hiding a secret.  But she has little opportunity to investigate her suspicions.  The unlikely companions are being chased by a rogue wizard who will stop at nothing to prevent Sydelle and North from reaching the capital and accomplishing their goal of stopping the coming war.  

ONESMARTCUPCAKE THINKS: I was quite excited for this novel.  There is nothing better a fresh, new fantasy and the plot and cover both seemed promising.  But, sadly, Brightly Woven just did not do much for me.  It has many of the right elements for a good fantasy romp: a mysterious wizard, a spunky and strangely talented heroine, a society on the edge of potential danger and disaster, a unique system of magic, ominous but clever antagonists.  The premise and plot is unique and for the majority of the novel, the narrative moves along at a good clip.  

However, despite all these things I found that I had to force myself to finish reading it.  There is a possibility it was just bad timing; perhaps Brightly Woven was not the right book for me at that moment.  But I think that there were other factors. While Sydelle and North immediately display the classic signs of good chemistry (bickering, mutual fascination), their relationship's build into romance never felt as genuine as I wanted.  The text would illustrate North's growing protectiveness towards Sydelle and Sydelle's growing care and concern for North yet I never felt as though I had been shown significant depth of either character or the progression leading to these emotional developments.  I expected them to be together but yet I wasn't cheering for them.  Also, The plot got a little twisted towards the end.  I don't want to give away any spoilers so I will simply say that I felt that there were a few too many climaxes to make the conclusion feel solid and satisfying.  On occasion, the language became a bit overinflated or melodramatic.  

But, while Brightly Woven did not light my fire, I do hope that Alexandra Bracken will keep writing.  Despite its flaws, this first novel illustrates potential.  Also, many readers have and likely will enjoy Brightly Woven.  I would advise you to check the novel out for yourself.  Tell me what you thought! 


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Ash by Malinda Lo


Malinda Lo

SUMMARY: After the death of her beloved mother, Aisling feels terribly alone, even with her grieving father and familiar home.  Then her father comes home from a visit to the capital with a new wife and two new step-daughters.  While Ash is not thrilled, life doesn't seem hugely different.  But then her father also becomes ill and dies.  Now Ash is at the mercy of her bitter stepmother who decides that she will pay for her late father's debts by becoming the household's primary servant. Miserable, Ash yearns for her mother even more and when she encounters the strange and frightening fairy Sidhean, Ash thinks she might have finally found her route of escape.  But then she meets the King's huntress Kaisa and Ash slowly stops wishing to disappear as their growing friendship reawakens her desire to live and to love.  Now Ash must choose between fairy magic and the powerfully human magic of love and connection.  

ONESMARTCUPCAKE THINKS: I've been wanting to read this novel for months! I was so excited to finally get a hold of it this past week and my anticipation was nicely rewarded.  Ash is a great debut novel from Malinda Lo that successfully combines several little subgenres of YA fiction into a lovely and enjoyable narrative.  First, Ash joins the ranks of other great fairytale retellings and for me, it is up there with Ella Enchanted  in terms of favorite 'Cinderella' rewrites.  But also, Ash  takes another popular fantasy concept-dark and dangerous fairies-with equal success.  So the novel is firstly a fun fantasy combining a familiar narrative outline with well known ideas like frightening fairies as well as the solid human experience and conflict that grounds all good fantasy novels.  Ash is a sympathetic heroine and so the story's focus is neither the magic nor the fairytale aspect but Ash's very familiar struggles to grow and develop in difficult circumstances.  Her fears, griefs, weaknesses, and strengths are evoked clearly through Lo's gentle and spare but descriptive prose.  

The other highlight of the story is Ash's blossoming relationship with the Huntress Kaisa.  Ash's initial interest in the role of the Huntress grows into an attraction to Kaisa herself as the two young women begin spending more and more time together.  Kaisa teaches Ash to ride and hunt; Ash learns that the possibility for love still exists in the world.  The sweet, slowly developing love between the two women fits perfectly into this delicate and unique fairy-tale of a novel.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to teens who enjoy other fairy-tale retellings.  


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Forget-Her-Nots by Amy Brecount White


Amy Brecount White

SUMMARY: Laurel hopes that the mysterious flowers left outside her dorm room door are good omen for her new beginning at Avondale School.  But suddenly, strange things start happening when Laurel touches flowers.  It starts during her presentation in English class about the Victorian Language of Flowers when Laurel's whole body buzzes and strange rhymes pop into her mind.  On an instinct she gives the special bouquet she's crafted to her teacher.  When that same teacher suddenly finds unexpected romance, Laurel begins to suspect that she has something more that a green thumb.  So with her new friend Kate and her reluctant cousin Rose for support, Laurel begins experimenting her newfound but still unclear powers.  But soon she discovers that her flower powers are not all happiness and light and Laurel must find away to keep everything under control as prom approaches.

ONESMARTCUPCAKE THINKS: Forget-Her-Nots is a book which generally can judged by its cover, in the best of ways.  As its flowery pink wrapper might suggest, Laurel's story is a sweet tale of friendship, first love, and growing up with a fanciful, fairytale twist.  Laurel's struggles to deal with her beloved mother's recent death while trying to fit in at a new school will make her a recognizable figure to most readers.  Brecount-White follows Laurel's believable roller coaster of emotions with sympathy and honesty.  Meanwhile, the details about flowers and the Victorian flower language tradition will appeal to those interested in history, especially quirky, cultural history.  The fantasy aspect of the story is fun but at times a bit of a weak point in the novel.  The concept of Flower-Talking is a unique one but sometimes the language surrounding the idea comes off as a little too old-fashioned or silly to work with the rest of the story.  But overall, Amy Brecount-White has created a likable protagonist and a fun story that combines universal issues like maturation and grief recovery with some delicate fantasy elements.  I would say that this book is more likely to appeal to younger teens more than older ones and also mostly to girls rather than boys.  


Monday, October 4, 2010

My First Blogger Award!!!!

Oh my goodness! I'm all of a flutter! So, the lovely Kate at Literary Explorations honored me as one of her Versatile Blogger Awards! Thank you so much, Kate-it's so encouraging to be recognized by such a great blogger! I've only been blogging since June so I'm so surprised and excited to be honored this way. I love writing about the books I read and other events or issues related to kids and reading. As any readers can tell, beginning grad school this fall is making my blogging a little more erratic than I'd like but this award just gives me new inspiration to keep plugging away.  I hope to get even more involved in larger blogging events and get my blog onto a more regular schedule over the next few months. Thanks for all the great support I've received so far!

Okay, so apparently this award comes with some fun follow-up procedures:

1. Thank and link back to the person that gave this award

2. Write 7 things about yourself

3. Pass the award along to 15 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic

4. Contact the bloggers you’ve picked to let them know about the award

Since I'm still new to the blogging world and my explorations there get a little limited by grad school, I'm just giving away a few-hope that's okay! 

Congrats to all of you!

Okay so now for the seven things about me:

1.) I'm currently studying to get my Masters in Library and Information Science so that I can (hopefully) become a teen/youth services librarian at a public library or a librarian at an independent high school. 
2.) I have a strange passion for many things '80s, including The Breakfast Club, Dirty Dancing, '80s pop music ("Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" is a favorite), and '80s dress-up events. 
3.) I'm a huge Jane Austen fan.  I mean, I have a Jane Austen bobblehead and a large postcard of Colin Firth's Mr. Darcy decorating my room. And that just in addition to how much I could talk about the brilliance of her novels as social commentary and comedy. 
4.) I love musicals and fully believe that sometimes life would be better if it were a non-stop musical, with revealing solos, jazz hands, and all.
5.) I spent my third year of college in England and traveled around Europe a bit. I would love to go back and keep traveling someday soon!
6.) I love to draw and paint, especially figure and portrait work but sadly, I'm getting a little rusty as other activities have taken over recently. I hope to get back into it this winter.
7.) In high school I got into amateur poetry slamming and loved it. I'm trying to start writing again now because I'd love to facilitate slams at my future job as a librarian. 

So there you go--a little more randomness about me! Thanks again to Kate for honoring me and congrats to all touched by this cool award!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Why I Think Banned Books Week is Awesome and Important

  So, once again, grad school gets between me and the blogosphere. But I couldn't let Banned Books Week end without putting my two cents in.  In case you weren't already aware, this past week was Banned Books Week, a week set aside by the American Library Association to celebrate our freedom to read and highlight the continued presence of censorship in our world.  My first encounters with Banned Books Week were in high school when I helped create the library programming surrounding it.  So now, every year in September, I go to the ALA website to check out their newly published lists of banned or challenged books and think.  I think about how passionately I feel about intellectual freedom and freedom of information access.  And I think about how complicated and complex the situation surrounding each challenge or attempted banning can be.  And I think about way great books can be denied to readers because of misunderstanding or fear. 

But let's get the basics taking care of first. What's a challenged book and what's a banned book? The ALA website states that a challenge is "an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based on the objections of a person or group." A book becomes banned if the challenge succeeds in getting it pulled from the shelves or from the curriculum.  Thanks to the work of teachers, librarians, parents, students, and other passionate people, most challenges never become bannings.  

The ALA notes that most books are challenged or banned for a few major reasons.  The material is usually thought to be "sexually explicit," to contain "offensive language," or be "unsuited to any age group."  Most often, people challenge books out of a wish to protect their children or minors in general from materials they deem inappropriate or dangerous.  While I understand the urge to protect children (and I really do!), there are lines that our First Amendment just won't let us cross.  While a parent has the complete right to control what his or her own child reads, he or she does not have the right to control what other people's children can read.  

So, every year across the country, teachers and librarians work with students, parents, and others to stand up for our First Amendment rights--and the rights of children and youth to access information.  Learn more about how you can get involved and check out the lists of recently or most challenged and banned books today at the ALA's website.  I am proud to say that I read banned books and so here are just a few of my favorites:

His Dark Materials (series) by Phillip Pullman
In The Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Bridge to Terebithia by Katherine Paterson
Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Forever by Judy Blume
The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson

So even though Banned Books Week is over, the fight to protect the freedom to read and to think is never over.  Go read a banned book today! Research how else you can get involved in advocating for this issue! 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

In My Mailbox #4

I do have an IMM post this week! I promise! I'm so sorry to be a bit late in posting but this weekend has been a little bit crazy! So, In My Mailbox is a delightful meme begun by Story Siren at her wonderful book blog that encourages bloggers to present the books they have picked up over the week through bookstores, mail, or libraries to the larger book blogging community.  For more information about IMM, check out Story Siren's great page about it. My books are, as usual, all from the delightful local library system.  They are an interesting mix this week. I apologize for the faulty photo; those two cookbooks just did not want to photograph nicely for my mediocre camera! 

So this week I got:

Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me
Papa Please Get the Moon for Me by Eric Carle

Miss Rumphius   [MISS RUMPHIUS] [Hardcover]

    Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney

Madeline, Reissue of 1939 edition

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

Where the Wild Things Are

     Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak 

Ella Enchanted (Newbery Honor Book)

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

The above books are all ones I have read in the past but checked out in preparation for assignments for my Children's Resources class. They are all some of my favorites and I loved looking at them again! 

Pretties (Uglies Trilogy, Book 2)Pretties by Scott Westerfeld



Bread by Eric Treuille and Ursula Ferrigno

One-Dish Vegetarian Meals

One-Dish Vegetarian Meals 
by Robin Roberts

The Clueless Vegetarian

     The Clueless Vegetarian 
      by Evelyn Raab

As you might tell here, I am working my way through the thoroughly addicting Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld as fast as the library systems can supply me and I discovered the massive cookbook collection at the main branch of the library.  

So a diverse but satisfying haul this week.  Remember that this week is Banned Books Week! Celebrate our freedom to read!  For more info about Banned Books Week, check out the ALA site, here.  I plan to post my thoughts on the event and the issues it addresses this week in between some review updates :) 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Keep Speaking Loudly Through Awesome Giveaways!

So while I was browsing around Twitter today to get some updates on the Speak Loudly campaign, I stumbled upon some really awesome posts, including this one by Natalie of Mindful Musings-a blog I am new to but already liking a lot.  She has helpfully posted a bunch of posts and giveaways that have sprung up as a result of the challenge to Laurie Halse Anderson's book SPEAK, which I mentioned in my last post.  So I wanted to acknowledge her generosity in creating such a post and highlight some of the giveaways I'm most excited about. 

Mindful Musings is giving away a copy of either Slaughterhouse 5, SPEAK, or Twenty Boy Summer. 

Carol's Prints is giving away Banned Books Week themed prizes including an awesome Banned Book bracelet, 2 copies of SPEAK, and a pre-order of the new novel The Mockingbirds by YA debut author Daisy Whitney.   

Sarah Ockler, author of another book mentioned in the Scroggins article Twenty Boy Summer is giving away a Wesley Scroggins Filthy Book Prize Pack, which includes Slaughterhouse 5, SPEAK, and Twenty Boy Summer.

Mundie Moms is giving away copies of SPEAK, Burned by Ellen Hopkins, Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler, and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. 

There are many, many more great posts and giveaways.  Check out the post on Mindful Musings linked above to see more! Keep Speaking Loudly, friends! 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Speak Out and Speak Loudly.

Speak: 10th Anniversary Edition   So I'd planned to write up and post another book review today but that's just going to have to wait.  Instead I'm going to use my meagre free time to put in my two cents on the news story that is setting the book blogosphere on fire.  In case you might not have heard, here's the overview. On Sunday, the wonderful author (and blogger) Laurie Halse Anderson posted on her blog about a college professor named Wesley Scroggins in Missouri who wrote an opinion piece for the local newspaper in which he described her book SPEAK as inappropriate for students to read, classifying it as soft core pornography--primarily, it seems, because the novel contains two rape scenes.  Anderson has called for support because she is concerned that this man's complete mischaracterization of the book might lead to it being pulled from the school curriculum.  The feedback from teens that Anderson has received over the years since SPEAK was first published has illustrated that this book can change kids' lives in the best of ways and she would rather the students of the Republic School District not be denied that opportunity.  

Now, so many other bloggers have already posted on this topic. See the bottom of this post for a list of just a few! And they all have been so eloquent and powerful.  So, I'm going to try and avoid total repetition but it will be hard because I agree so wholeheartedly with these smart people.  

My gut reaction to these events was total disgust and outrage for two reasons. First, I become somewhat volatile and upset at most mentions of people attempting to control what other people read, especially via banning or, in this case, inaccurate badmouthing of a text. If a parent wishes to restrict his or her child's reading, then fine--until that child is 18, that's your prerogative.  But I believe in intellectual freedom and the First Amendment, my friends.  So I do not think that a single person has the right to prevent other people (and teenagers are people) from reading whatever material they wish to read.  Second, I have read SPEAK. It was required reading my freshman year of high school.  Now, I am a geek who actually enjoyed most books required for school, even the 'old ones.'  But SPEAK was different. Reading SPEAK was and is one of the most powerful experiences with a story of my life.  If you have never read SPEAK and do not wish to be spoiled, look away now! 

SPEAK tells the story of Melinda, a freshman who is beginning high school as a social outcast after calling the cops at a party during the summer.  What no one at school (or at home) knows is that Melinda called the cops because a popular senior boy raped her that night.  But afterwards, she became so traumatized and paralyzed by fear and confusion that she essentially stopped speaking altogether.  The novel follows Melinda's slow and difficult path to finding her voice again and finally speaking out and standing up for herself.  

SPOILERS OVER! It is safe again! 

I have been very lucky; I personally have never experienced trauma like Melinda.  But I felt very voiceless in high school; as a shy and bookish teen, I felt alternatively invisible in and glaringly misfit for the social world of high school.  SPEAK captures those feelings of powerlessness and of fear that every young person feels at one point in his or her life.  Moreover, although I have been lucky, I have friends who have not been as lucky.  I have been there in the aftermath of sexual assault and so I am even more furious and disturbed that Mr. Scroggins feels that rape could be equated with pornography, which is defined by its intent to titillate and provoke sexual pleasure.  I have been involved in V-Day activities for the past several years. I have heard the stories from girls (and guys) at Take Back the Night events. Silence is the enemy in the fight against sexual violence and assault. SPEAK is a text that is fighting that fight; it is a novel that tells all kids who feel silenced or afraid, for whatever reason, to find their voices and speak up. What censorship and ignorant fear-mongering like Mr. Scroggins' article does is tell those kids to quiet down.  To shut up because their voices do not matter.  I personally find that attitude to be far more immoral than honest and emotionally powerful literature for teens.  

If you would like to get involved, check out Laurie's original post. She lists several ways to show your support, including writing letters and utilizing online networks such as Twitter. Also, check out these other, far better blog posts on the topic. 
The Story Siren
Liz B. at School Library Journal
Good Books and Wine
Myra McEntire
A.S. King 
Sarah Ockler, whose novel Twenty Boy Summer is also condemned in the article and now is also under threat in MO, has posted on the subject. 

There are many, many more awesome posts out there. I've just mentioned a few here-go look around for yourself and check them out! 

So, please, join us in SPEAKING LOUDLY for this wonderful book, this brave author, and every kid who feels alone and unheard.  Banned Books Week is September 25th through October 2nd.  This year's tagline is "Think for Yourself and Let Others Do the Same."  This message seems more important than ever right now.  So let's celebrate our freedom to read and SPEAK out! 

Monday, September 20, 2010

The God Box by Alex Sanchez

The God BoxThe God Box

Alex Sanchez

SUMMARY: In his senior year of high school, Paul feels like he's got the perfect life.  He's been dating Angie since middle school and beyond being his girlfriend, she's also his best friend.  They sing together in church choir, are active members of Bible club at school, and enjoy just hanging out together.  But then Manuel transfers to school and suddenly Paul's life doesn't seem so perfect.  Manuel is the first openly gay teen to come to town, let alone attend Paul's high school.  But on top of that, Manuel also claims to be a committed Christian--just like Paul and his friends.  His increasing conversations with Manuel have Paul questioning not only his faith but also the feelings he has pushed away for years.  But others have taken notice of Manuel's openness and their reactions are very different.  When the tension at school boils over into a nightmare, Paul must decide who he is and where he stands.  

ONESMARTCUPCAKE THINKS: I read Alex Sanchez' Rainbow Boys books a couples of years ago and found them enjoyable and insightful despite occasionally clunky or imperfect writing.  My reaction to The God Box goes along the same lines.  Sanchez has crafted a very readable book with appealing and relatable characters and good story infused with a keen awareness of current issues in teen's lives.  Sanchez's writing is straightforward rather than lyrical but he captures the range of emotions experienced by his protagonist with clarity and compassion.  The novel addresses the ongoing tensions between religion and sexuality without attempting to over-simplify or become preachy; instead Sanchez emphasizes the way this conflict affects real kids, like Paul and Manuel.  Because of the subject matter, biblical analysis and theological debate play a large role in the story; kids who do not have an interest in such subjects may find these aspects of the novel annoying or uninteresting--although Sanchez has woven them into the narrative quite naturally.  The novel also contains an upsetting and violent event (although the attack itself is not graphically described, the aftereffects are), so be just aware when recommending it.

I read this book pretty compulsively, drawn in by my concern and compassion for the likable protagonist and his friends as well as my interest in the larger topic of religion and sexuality.  The God Box stands out for its generally unique subject matter in the growing world of LGBTQ fiction for young adults.  It gracefully and bravely addresses topics frequently left untouched by other current writers in the sub-genre, such as being gay and religious or coming out within a certain ethnic and cultural context (in this case Mexican and American Hispanic).  This novel would be a good fit for interested teens of the high school age range. I also think that it touches on an important but frequently unaddressed topic and so would be a good read for librarians, teachers, or parents as well.  

3 1/2 / 5 STARS

Saturday, September 18, 2010

In My Mailbox #3

  I'm back! Somehow I've managed to plow through a few more of my books for review in between grad school work, interning, and my small attempts at a social life and so I allowed myself to grab a few more on a recent library visit. So I am able to once again join in the In My Mailbox party!  IMM is a fantastic meme in which bloggers list the books that they received over the last week via mail/bookstore/library.  It's hosted by the lovely Story Siren over at her awesome blog. For more info, look here. So this week in my "mailbox," I got:

All of my IMM picks this week come from one of my lovely local libraries. 

Bliss Bliss by Lauren Myracle

Rampant Rampant by Diana Peterfreund

Ash Ash by Malinda Lo

I'm very excited about these books; they've all been on my radar for a while now and it's great to get my hands on them at last! Look out this week for reviews for a few of my past IMM books, such as The God Box and Forget-Her-Nots.  What was in your mailbox this week?

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