34 amazing first lines of famous books.

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ever wonder how to get your book reviewed?

Ever wonder “How to get my book reviewed”?

So you’ve published your book. Its been edited and published, and now you’re trying to figure out how to get to your potential readers. While starting your marketing campaign usually happens well More »

‘People are hungry for real bookstores’: Judy Blume on why US indie booksellers are growing

At 78, the multimillion-selling author has begun a new career, opening her own bookshop and joining a business sector thats flourishing again in the US   She might be a beloved and More »

This Life-Size Crochet Skeleton Is So Intricate, The Stomach Even Has Half-Digested Food In It

If you’re an artist, there are so many mediums to have fun with. So when Shanell Papp from Lethbridge, Canada decided to explore the human body she picked a method that excited her just as much as the theme. Crochet.

Image credits: s.b.papp

“I began crocheting from books,” Papp told Bored Panda. “It was part of my whole fascination with textiles and string. My grandmother ran a junk shop and I was encouraged to take textiles materials and examine old projects. I began to teach myself to sew, knit, crochet, rug hook, macrame, etc. I kinda had a weird set up ask a kid. Spare time and a junk shop to pick through.”

Image credits: Shanell Papp

In total, her project LAB took her about eight months. Four of them to make the skeleton and another four to create the internal organs. “I was curious about the human body and I wanted to make a human body. I was interested in medical history and how we attempt to solve everything, but we are fragile.” To make it as close to the real deal as possible, the artist borrowed a human skeleton from a university and collected anatomical textbooks.

Image credits: Shanell Papp

“I was interested in medicine and applied to become an x-ray technician, but never attended. I stayed in art school, I wanted to continue learning new skills with my hands and I loved talking about art. Otherwise, I still read many books on medical history, death, and crime. I am interested in knowing about all the things that scare me.”

Image credits: Shanell Papp

“[The whole project] was kinda tricky, but I found it interesting to figure out,” Papp said. “I really enjoyed making all the vertebrae, because they were like unique granny squares. Like tiny puzzles.”

Image credits: Shanell Papp

“This project encouraged me to make more textile work,” she added. “I was in art school at the time focusing on photography and made this as an independent studio project. Textiles were my secret skill that never had a celebrated place in contemporary art and art schools. It had no conceptual potential, it was just seen as a craft. I think this piece pushed me to push the medium and seek out other artists who work like me.”

Image credits: Shanell Papp

Image credits: Shanell Papp

Image credits: Shanell Papp

Image credits: Shanell Papp

Image credits: Shanell Papp

Image credits: Shanell Papp

Image credits: Shanell Papp

Image credits: Shanell Papp

Image credits: Shanell Papp

Image credits: Shanell Papp

People couldn’t believe the amount of skill an imagination that went into this project

Read more: http://www.boredpanda.com/life-sized-anatomically-correct-crocheted-skeleton-shanell-papp/

We May Finally Know Where Continents Come From

If you can overlook the insignificant lifeforms on its surface, the history of Earth is the slow expansion of its continents. Billions of years ago our planet was largely a water world with a few small islands poking above the surface. Then, as now, the floor of the oceans bore more resemblance to the composition of the other rocky planets than it does to continental rocks. The question of how continents came to cover so much of the planet has puzzled geologists, but a new theory gives the credit to mountain ranges.

The idea is counter-intuitive. After all, if there were no continents, where would the mountains sit? Nevertheless, Dr Ming Tang of Rice University said in a statement: “If our conclusions are correct, every piece of land that we are now sitting on got its start someplace like the Andes or Tibet, with very mountainous surfaces.”

Many of the world’s mountain ranges are eroded continental arcs, located at the margin where a continental plate rode over an oceanic one. Tang proposes these arcs are factories for the distinctive continental rocks.

Tang’s hypothesis, presented in Nature Communications, is based on the distribution of niobium and tantalum in rocks from around the world. Although the two metals’ names sound like they come from science fiction and fantasy books respectively, the elements are so chemically similar they usually turn up in the same places, leaving a very constant ratio.

However, the continental crust has 20 percent less niobium, proportionally, than the rest of the planet. The missing niobium has troubled geologists for decades.

Tang studied databases of the elemental composition in rocks, and came to the conclusion the continental average is being dragged down by arclogites, materials that collect at the base of continental arcs. Although often deeply buried, arclogites can be brought to the surface by volcanoes.

Tang had arclogites from the High Sierras tested and confirmed those made of rutile crystals are high in niobium. He thinks these crystals trapped a lot of niobium, but not tantalum, and most of them sunk into the mantle, leaving low niobium crust behind.

Rutile only forms under high pressures, such as is provided at the base of the crust with a mountain range above. While the niobium content provided the clue that allowed Tang to recognize what was happening, the more important aspect of the minerals formed by the continental arcs is that their low iron content makes them lighter, and therefore more buoyant than oceanic basalts.

Where the first continental arc came from is unclear, but once it appeared, it began a self-reproducing cycle. The arc produced continental rock, which rode over any oceanic plates it encountered, producing more continental arcs, and therefore more continents.

Read more: https://www.iflscience.com/environment/we-may-finally-know-where-continents-come-from/

Man ends Booker Prize sponsorship

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Duchess of Cornwall presents the award to 2018’s winner Anna Burns

Britain’s most famous literary award is looking for a new sponsor after hedge fund Man Group said it would end its support after 18 years.

The UK-based financial giant said its annual £1.6m backing of this year’s Man Booker Prize would be its last.

The link between the hedge fund and the literary world has not always been a smooth, with novelist Sebastian Faulks last year calling the firm “the enemy”.

Man Group said in a statement it had been a privilege to sponsor the prize.

But the BBC’s arts editor, Will Gompertz, said relations between Man Group and Booker organisers had been strained for some time, with a company source suggesting they felt underappreciated.

Mr Gompertz said: “The news will come as a disappointment to the Booker Prize Foundation, which is said to be confident of finding a new sponsor at a time when the corporate market is far from buoyant.”

Americans invited

The annual contest for the best book written in English and published in the UK was first awarded in 1969, with prize money of £5,000.

Last year’s winner, Anna Burns, for her book Milkman, received £50,000, with each shortlisted contestant receiving £2,500.

In recent years Man Group’s link with the award has been uneasy. Originally, entries were restricted to British, Irish and Commonwealth authors.

In 2014, the award was opened to other writers, and since then two out of five winners have been American.

Peter Carey, who twice won the award, was critical of the rule change, saying the prize could lose its “cultural flavour”.

And last year, Mr Faulks, whose best-sellers include Birdsong, described the award as “irritating” and called Man Group “the enemy”.

He told a podcast that the hedge fund was “not the sort of people who should be sponsoring literary prizes; they’re the kind of people literary prizes ought to be criticising… I wouldn’t feel happy about accepting money from them”.

Man Group’s chief executive, Luke Ellis, shot back, saying: “His comments… come at a time when the arts are experiencing an unprecedented withdrawal of public funding.

“Literature and the arts need their champions to step in where public money has been pulled out.”

Man Group said it had donated about £25m in support for prizes and charitable activities during its sponsorship.

The Booker Prize Foundation said it is in discussion with a new sponsor, and is “confident that the new funding will be in place for 2020. In the meantime the two prizes [the Man Booker and the Man Booker International] will run as usual this year”.

Image copyright PA

The company’s statement, which made no mention of any criticism, said it would spend the sponsorship money on another project, to “promote and improve diversity and inclusion at the firm and across the financial services and technology industries more broadly”.

Helena Kennedy, chair of the Booker Prize Foundation, said: “We would like to put on record the Foundation’s appreciation of Man Group’s sponsorship.

“However, all good things must come to an end and we look forward to taking the prizes into the next phase with our new supporter.”


Will Gompertz, BBC arts editor

The relationship between the Man Group and the Booker Prize organisation has been strained for some time, according to a senior individual connected to the hedge fund.

He said it felt the team behind the annual book award could have communicated more effectively and been more collaborative given the amount of money it was investing in the sponsorship.

The news will come as a disappointment to the Booker Prize Foundation, which is said to be confident of finding a new sponsor at a time when the corporate market is far from buoyant.

It has the advantage of a high media profile maintained by the significant coverage the prize enjoys. But there are problems, too. Sponsors hate negative publicity, which the prize has attracted recently having broadened its scope to include all novels published in English, in the UK.

There is also the issue of brand recognition, which is very important to a sponsor but hard to achieve. It is made that bit more difficult in this instance, as the original sponsor (Booker Group), has become the official name of the prize.

Related Topics

Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47020374

Overrated Myths (And Underrated Facts) About Ancient Rome

How well do you read Latin? Because if you’re not all that good at reading Latin or other dead languages, good news: you could have still had a job as an 1800s historian. Fun example: there’s a story claiming the Roman emperor Caligula was SO CRAZY, he sent a whole army to a beach to pick up seashells for him. However, the Latin word ‘musculi’ means both “shells” and “military huts”, so he likely actually told his troops to pack up their campsite. Which is normal. That’s a completely different kind of emperor, right? And here’s a fun thing: your pop cultural understanding of the Roman Empire is approximately that far off of the truth, in a lot of fascinating ways.

On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by Siobhan Thompson (CollegeHumor, BBC America) and Patrick Wyman (Tides Of History, ‘Jeopardy!’) for a trip through the inaccurate lies you’ve been fed about the ancient Romans, and also the much more interesting true things you never knew about them. Get your head straight about everything from mighty gladiators to ancient fast food to the stunning economic benefits of living near a former Roman road.


Siobhan Thompson on Twitter

Patrick Wyman on Twitter

Tides Of History podcast (Wondery)

The Fall Of Rome podcast (Wondery)

The development of Aquae Sulis (BBC Legacies [archived])

The 100 best nonfiction books: No 83 – The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon (The Guardian)

5 Scenes From History That Everyone Pictures Incorrectly (Cracked)

5 Ridiculous Lies You Believe About Ancient Civilizations (Cracked)

7 Modern Conveniences That Are Way Older Than You Think (Cracked)

Where Does the ‘Thumbs-Up’ Gesture Really Come From? (TIME)

Terrell Suggs explains why he wore gladiator helmet in Ravens’ pregame (USA Today FTW)

Gladiator Gatorade? Ancient Athletes Had A Recovery Drink, Too (NPR)

When Did the Barbary Lion Really Go Extinct? (Scientific American)

13 Of Your Favorite Foods (And Their Bizarre Secret Origins) (The Cracked Podcast)

Unearthed near Hadrian’s Wall: lost secrets of first Roman soldiers to fight the barbarians (The Guardian)

Borders of the Roman Empire (Wikipedia)

Why modern mortar crumbles, but Roman concrete lasts millennia (Science)

How the Ancient Romans Made Better Concrete Than We Do Now (io9)

Scientists Match Pollution in Greenland’s Ice Sheet to Events from Ancient Greece and Rome (Gizmodo)

Interview: Historian Kyle Harper on Disease, Climate and the Fall of the Roman Empire (Tides Of History)

Hans Dragendorff (Wikipedia)

Roman Roads to Prosperity: Persistence and Non-Persistence of Public Goods Provision (study from University of Copenhagen)

Mary Beard is right – ‘Romans’ could be from anywhere, from Carlisle to Cairo (The Guardian)

Himmler’s Antiquity (Los Angeles Review Of Books)

The Myth of Whiteness in Classical Sculpture (The New Yorker)

See the first-ever Cracked Podcast LIVE TOUR this spring! Get your tickets now for: Thursday April 11th — Lincoln Hall, Chicago IL and Friday April 12th — Amsterdam Bar and Hall, St. Paul MN.

Read more: http://www.cracked.com/podcast/overrated-myths-and-underrated-facts-about-ancient-rome

The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox

Readers enamored with the Salem witch trials or novels of women forging their own way against all odds will love the latest offering from Hester Fox. The Witch of Willow Hall is equal parts ghost, love, and coming of age story. Lydia Montrose, the middle sister in a family plagued by scandal, captivates and intrigues as the book unfolds.

Having moved to the countryside after rumors swirled around the Montrose family in Boston, Lydia and her sisters Catherine and Emeline, attempt to adjust to a slower and more dreamlike pace. Catherine is beautiful, impetuous, and dramatic while the youngest, Emeline, is full of wonder and fantasy. It is Lydia who feels the need to keep up appearances, to be the reliable daughter in a house with little parental strength. Their mother is weak, their father often absent, and in the midst of all this, their father’s young business partner, the handsome and enigmatic John Barrett, appears.

The story of Willow Hall, the estate on which the Montrose family lives, is connected to the Barrett family in dark and mysterious ways, and the potential haunting of the place—real or imagined—drives the novel towards its satisfying and surprising conclusion.

Reviewed By: Shannon Carriger

Woman Forced to Remove Dying Tree, Turns It Into Tiny Library Instead

When city workers of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho told Sharalee Armitage Howard they would have to remove a huge 110-year-old tree from her front yard, she was saddened. Determined to preserve whatever she could of the beautiful tree, she decided to turn the tree’s trunk into a free neighbourhood library with the help of the nonprofit organization, Little Free Library.

With over 75,000 ‘Little Free Libraries’ in 88 countries, it’s possible you’ve seen these (though not as elaborate) in your own neighbourhood! According to Sharalee, the old cottonwood tree was starting to drop huge branches onto the sidewalk and street and the tree was simply approaching the end of its remarkably long life.

On Facebook, Howard also added: “This tree won’t look amazing until Spring when I can plant groundcover and cheerful perennials around it, touch up the paint, and fine-tune the trimwork”

Below you can find some additional photos of this amazing little library along with a video from a local news channel.


Sharalee Armitage Howard on Facebook
Colossal: Little Tree Library
Bored Panda: Woman Turned 110-Year-Old Dead Tree Into A Free Little Library For The Neighborhood

Read more: https://twistedsifter.com/2019/01/woman-forced-to-remove-dying-tree-turns-it-into-tiny-library-instead/

Obama Cuddles His Youngest Fan And It’s Really Adorable

It’s been nearly two years since Barack Obama retired from public office, but it looks like he hasn’t forgotten the skills you pick up on the campaign trail.

Such as kissing babies.

The president was golfing in Hawaii recently when he came across young mother Chelcie Edwards, who was holding her baby daughter Paisley.

Obama took Paisley into his arms and held her like a man who remembers the early days of fatherhood.

Paisley probably won’t remember the experience ― how was your long-term memory at 7 weeks? ― but her mother will likely never forget. Edwards spoke to Because of Them We Can, a site that focuses on the black community.

“To have the First Black President ever to initiate holding our daughter, let alone kissing her on the forehead, has to be one of the most pivotal moments of any [parent’s] life,” Edwards told the website in a post published Monday.

“For our little girl to be in the hands of a man that is so influential, yet still so humble, and allowing her to experience something many will never get to experience is a blessing from God within itself,” she said. “It’s just one of those things that’s just indescribable.”

The former president also shared this piece of wisdom with Paisley’s dad, Joseph Edwards: “You can’t beat having daughters!”

Of course, “baby kissing” has been a time-honored tradition for presidents and presidential hopefuls since the 1830s, when Andrew Jackson was in office ― it even has its own Wikipedia entry.

A story printed in 1888 claims the custom started in 1833 when Jackson took a “dirty-faced infant” from his mother’s arms and declared him “a fine specimen of American childhood.”

Here’s a video of the president with Paisley and ― spoiler alert ― it’s pretty cute.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/barack-obama-baby-kissing_us_5c33af6fe4b09b02cb32dbd0

A teacher shared a simple gift a student gave her, and it’s seriously the sweetest thing.

A child gave a teacher a simple gift that’s bringing people to tears.

It’s not what you give, but the thought and sacrifice behind what you give that counts. And this gift a teacher received is so thoughtful and sacrificial it hurts.

Facebook user and elementary school teacher Rachel Uretsky-Pratt shared a photo of a gift one her students gave her—a simple bag of Lucky Charms marshmallows—along with a description of how it was given to her:

To help put your life into perspective:

Today was the last day before our winter break. We will have two weeks off to…

Posted by Rachel Uretsky-Pratt on Wednesday, December 19, 2018

“To help put your life into perspective: Today was the last day before our winter break. We will have two weeks off to rest with our families and loved ones over the holidays then head back to school in 2019.With it being the day before break and Christmas right around the corner, most teachers bring their kiddos something such as books or little treats and occasionally in return receive something from their students.Today I received some chocolates, sweet handmade notes, some jewelry, but these Lucky Charm marshmallows stood out to me the most.You see, 100% of my school is on free/reduced lunch. They also get free breakfast at school every day of the school week. This kiddo wanted to get my something so badly, but had nothing to give.So rather than give me nothing, this student opened up her free breakfast cereal this morning, took the packaging of her spork, straw, and napkin, and finally took the time to take every marshmallow out of her cereal to put in a bag—for me. Be grateful for what you have, and what others give you. It all truly comes from the deepest parts of their hearts. Happy Holidays. 💕

How unbelievably sweet. I can just picture this student sitting carefully pulling the marshmallows from her cereal—obviously the best part—and carefully wrapping them up for her beloved teacher.

Oof, my heart.

It doesn’t matter how much a present costs. This student doesn’t have much, yet she was willing to give up one of the pleasures she does have in order to express her gratitude and bring a smile to her teacher’s face.

Research has shown that those who are poor tend to be more generous with their giving than those who are wealthy.

One might assume that a person who has very little would be inclined to hold onto it, while those who have plenty would be more willing to let things go. But that’s often not the case. Berkeley psychology researcher Paul Piff conducted a published study that found that people of lower socioeconomic means were more willing to give what they had, while the richer tended to be more miserly.

And not all giving is equally sacrificial. When you consider how much greater a burden $5 or $10 is to someone struggling to put food on the table compared to someone with a five-figure savings account, a small gift from someone of lesser means is actually a lot more generous than it would be from their wealthier counterparts.

And when you have no money with which to buy a gift and have to get creative with what you have? That’s when a present means the most. The spirit of giving is alive and well in this thoughtful student, and whoever is raising her deserve some praise.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/a-teacher-shared-a-simple-gift-a-student-gave-her-and-it-s-seriously-the-sweetest-thing

UC Berkeley will pay $70G to conservative group to settle free speech lawsuit

The Sather Tower on the University of California, Berkeley campus. (UC Berkeley)

After more than a year of litigation, the University of California, Berkeley, has settled a lawsuit with the Young Americas Foundation and the UC Berkeley College Republicans.

Campus conservatives accused the university of bias in the process of bringing high-profile speakers to campus. The original lawsuit revolved around the cancellation of an event with Ann Coulter. An amended version of the lawsuit included roadblocks initiated by the university for an event with Ben Shapiro.

The Department of Justice filed a statement of interest backing the campus conservatives. The crux of their argument revolved around two campus policies that they claim violate students’ First and 14th Amendment rights: an unspoken “High-Profile Speaker Policy” and an on-the-books “Major Events Policy.”

“This Department of Justice will not stand by idly while public universities violate students’ constitutional rights,” Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand said at the time.

In the settlement, UC Berkeley agreed to the following terms set by YAF:

1. Pay YAF $70,000.

2. Rescind the unconstitutional “High-Profile Speaker Policy.”

3. Rescind the viewpoint-discriminatory security fee policy.

4. Abolish its heckler’s veto — protesters will no longer be able to shut down conservative expression.

Under these terms, UC Berkeley will no longer be allowed to place a 3 p.m. curfew on conservative events or relegate conservative speakers to remote or inconvenient lecture halls on campus while giving left-leaning speakers access to preferred parts of campus.

Click for more from the Washington Examiner.

Read more: https://www.foxnews.com/us/uc-berkeley-will-pay-70g-to-conservative-group-to-settle-free-speech-lawsuit

Butterfly Hill by Brendan le Grange

Book Summary:

A psychopath with mother issues. A policeman with his career on the line. A beautiful agent with unclear allegiances. And an ancient organisation guarding a secret that could get them all killed.

Hiko Shimizu is not a nice man, but he is ingenious. Ingenious enough to find a lost artefact capable of catalysing a revolution in China? Maybe. And that’s close enough to draw the attention of powerful forces that won’t hesitate to kill to keep their secrets safe.

Meanwhile, Matthys Rossouw is in hot pursuit, unaware of the full scale of the danger he faces. Butterfly Hill is the exciting follow-up to Drachen. Set in the hills above Hong Kong’s Lantau Island, it’s another high-stakes game of cat and mouse that races towards an explosive conclusion.

Seven hundred years ago a Dynasty died, how far will people go to keep it dead?

Amazon Link – https://amzn.to/2L14ELl

Self Publishing Reviewed:

Combining global conspiracies, powerful ancient weapons and complex, unknowable motives, Butterfly Hill is a skillfully penned piece of suspense from Brendan Le Grange. Following on from his debut book, Drachen, this second installment can stand alone, although reading the first book will provide quite a bit more character backstory for the key players, including Hiko, Matthys and Gu.

Unlike many other “good cop chases bad guy” stories, the lines of morality are far from clear in this novel, and in fact, it’s difficult not to like the bad guy, despite his psychopathic tendencies. Hiko Shimuzu may be the antagonist, and he does have some matricidal qualities, but he is also oddly charming and sympathetic. He is searching for an ancient treasure, which gives him an alluring air of adventure, but his intentions with it aren’t altogether clear.

Inspector Matthys, on the other hand, is in the traditionally heroic role, but doesn’t always come out on top. Matthys manages to find time for a bit of romance, as well as brotherly camaraderie with Gu, so readers are able to see the human side of him, but even so, there are moments when readers will struggle to choose who to root for.

As the plot thickens, and Matthys realizes that Hiko isn’t the only dangerous player in the game, Le Grange’s storytelling skill shows itself. The pace gradually speeds up in the second half of the novel, and doesn’t let up until the exhausting and adrenaline-fueled finish. The author’s time living in Hong Kong lends much credence and authenticity to the writing; the city and its surrounding areas are beautifully described on these pages in the intimate way only personal experience can provide. Having a Belgium inspector operating within such a foreign space forces the environment to become a character itself, giving plenty of opportunities for Le Grange to play with the dichotomies in Matthys’ character.

Le Grange is also quite flexible in his writing, capable of shifting rapidly between action-packed shootouts and intense, plot-progressing dialogue. Even in those transitions, the pacing and the constant tension are rarely diminished. Having created a strong mood that stretches from start to finish in the novel, Le Grange plays with tropes from the noir genre, but also weaves in fantasy and sci-fi elements to further increase the appeal and energy of the prose.

Brilliant, detailed descriptions help to paint the scenes and bring this shadowy world to life, and as the investigation turns into an adventure, readers can’t help but be swept away and encouraged to keep flipping pages. On the technical side, the book is polished and clean, with few unnecessary sentences or scenes. The novel is tightly conceived from to start to finish.

Even as this deadly treasure hunt draws to a close, conflicting feelings about the hero and the villain remain. Forcing readers to balance on the edge of such an important knife is an ambitious move on the part of the author, but it encourages active reading and moral consideration. Reading a truly exciting book can feel like a full-contact sport, and there are plenty of memorable hits in this thrilling and unpredictable novel.

Review: Butterfly Hill (A Matthys Rossouw Pursuit Book 2) by Brendan Le Grange

Author Bio:

Brendan le Grange lives in Hong Kong with his beautiful wife and daughters, writing high-paced action thrillers when his day job allows. Luckily, that day job also allows him to travel to the exotic locales in which his books are set.

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