Poisoned Books

An article by Jakob Povl Holck and Kaare Lund Rasmussen explains the use of arsenic a couple hundred years ago and how the danger of reading some old books could be harmful, even fatal. I had no idea how widely used it was until the mid 1800’s. 


Damage caused by the use of green arsenic from a 1859 book (Wellcome Collection)

Thomas Jefferson Cut-and-Paste Bible

9-26-2013 7-55-40 PMThomas Jefferson assembled his own version of the bible.  He clipped the passages he thought were genuine teachings of Jesus and pasted them, in the four languages side by side, onto pages. Read the article on Openculture.com.


8 Hacks for Mother’s Day (For When You Really Wish They Wouldn’t)

By Pauline Daley-Parril


1. Breakfast in Bed


It’s five minutes past dawn and you hear your kids banging cupboard doors down in the kitchen. Soon there will be syrup and pancake batter dripping from the walls, floors, countertops and overhead fixtures. Worse yet, you are about to be compelled to consume a plateful of cold pancakes that are burnt black on the outside while still remaining uncooked on the inside, all swimming in a bathtub’s worth of syrup.


The Hack: Quick. Hide the syrup. Give them a bag of chocolate chips and a package of paper muffin cups. Ask them to count all the chips into the cups. Tell them you would like a banana and twenty-thirteen chocolate chips for your breakfast. Ask Daddy to supervise. Hurry back to bed.


2.  The Card


Did your kids spend all of 47 seconds last week pouring school glue and dropping pieces of macaroni onto a piece of heart-shaped construction paper? Now you have to store that adorable handmade creation at the back of your closet for the rest of eternity with the rest of the collection of Penne necklaces and pasta shell pencil holders, right? That proves you love them right?


The Hack: Feeding them proves you love them too. Boil up a large pot of salted water, drop in the collected works, put your feet up and wait till all the noodles are al dente. Drain, toss in a handful of shredded cheese and voila! An easy mother’s day dinner is served. Don’t forget the paper plates.


3. The Husband With a Poor Sense of Timing


The minute you launch the kids on their way with the bag of chocolate chips, guess who slides back into bed beside you with less-than-minty morning breath and rough unshaven chin? Did he just scrape/nuzzle the back of your neck and offer you a “steamy” Mom’s Day present in the shower?


The Hack: You do want your pillow back right? If you want to unpoke his tongue from your ear fast, tell him he is a sweet boy and then remind him to call his Mom today to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day. Point out that an early call might be bad timing as maybe his Dad is also giving his Mom a steamy morning kiss right about now too. Use descriptive adjectives to make sure he gets the picture. Then punch him playfully in the arm and cackle, “Aren’t you just a chip off the old cock?” As he begins to gag a little, mention that you just downed a handful of chocolate chips. Mistake! Aren’t they just ripping right through you! Yell “outta my way,” jump out of bed and hop towards the bathroom with your hands pressed against your backside.


4. The Spa Day

Did you get a gift certificate for a day at the spa? Nope, neither did I. Don’t let that stop you.


The Hack: Of course the answer is to book your worthy self in for the salt scrub flotation cabin, lotus glow massage and mani-pedi with truffles as soon as possible.


5.  The Flowers

Every mother loves getting a gift of cut flowers right? Trouble is now you have to clip the stems properly on a 45 ° angle with a sharp florist’s knife, creatively arrange the blooms in a vase like the Pinterest people are watching, and change the slimy water everyday. As if you didn’t have enough to do. The baby is teething and the toddler is trying to flush the cat down the toilet and now you are in charge of freshening up those candy-pink Carnations.


The Hack: Fill a carafe with red wine and let it aerate for five minutes. If the baby is crying very loudly, feel free to skip the breathing step. Carefully arrange the blooms in the empty wine bottle. If you have too many stems, you may open a second bottle.


6. His Mother


There is no known hack for your Mother–in-Law. Deal with it.


7. Your Mother


In all the bustle and fun of enjoying your special day, did you forget to call your own mother to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day? I know. I forgot too. Kill me now.


The Hack: Google images to the rescue. Spice up your apology message with some links. Recommended search terms: “shirtless hot dudes.” “Old Spice Guy + snake. For a few blessed moments, she will probably forget that she ever had you. Of course you still owe her chocolate.


8. The Hugs and Kisses


Who needs to hack a Mother’s Day kiss and hug? It’s totally the best part. Take all the sweet squeezes and smacks that you can get—even if the chubby fingers are smeared with chocolate chips and the bearer of the lips still needs a shave.



collette-author-dress-background-lighter-fixed-240x300Collette Yvonne has written more than 150 articles published in Ontario’s Dailies.  Her short story, Snapshots for Henry, was made into a short film directed by Teresa Hannigan and received a 2007 Genie nomination for Best Live Action Short Drama.  More of Yvonne’s short stories, including From the Cottage Porch and Wild Words 2010 appear in published anthologies. She is a graduate of Toronto’s York University with a BA degree in Creative Writing, creating both fiction and non-fiction works. Her latest novel, The Perils of Pauline was published by Astor + Blue Editions in January 2015. For more information visit www.colletteyvonne.ca






Barnes & Noble


Grab Inspiration and Never Let Go

I’ve murdered men. I’ve started wars, had great loves, lived through apocalyptic plagues, survived on Mars and been an ambulance driver in The Great War. And it was all in my head. That’s why I love books. That’s why they inspire me.

Great books give me something I can’t get anywhere else. As an author, as a reader, as a guy with a set of working eyes and an endlessly curious brain, I can’t replace the feeling of complete satisfaction, of complete transportation when I read a good book.

 Is that what inspires me to write? Partially.

 In truth, it’s a mix of feelings. Awe, satisfaction, excitement, and just a tinge of jealousy. That last one is important. It’s what drives me to keep working. I sometimes read something so good (for instance, Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice) and it makes me mad. Not that I think those fantastically creative, hard working, eloquent people don’t deserve what they have, but because I haven’t gotten there myself. I see something beautiful, and I desperately want to be a part of it. So, I go back to the grindstone. I do that last revision, change that line, give that character a squinch more motivation to finish their quest.

 Maybe that’s the wrong way to go about it. Could be that letting envy motivate me is entirely self-destructive. Frankly, I don’t care. Whatever it takes to compel me to put out the best work I can, I’ll do. Writing anything is a hard business to break into, writing novels a magnitude harder than that. You really have to shine and work your fingers into nubs if you ever want to make enough to simply feed yourself.

 And that’s fine, because there are people like me who are crazy enough to try anyway.

 Reading a great novel is what keeps me going, keeps me working to no end, chasing no goal in particular other than to make my next book the absolute best it can be. I want to be the guy who immerses people, who makes them live a thousand years in the future, and remember it as well as they remember their first beer. That’s what inspires me to write.

By M. Stephen Stewart




MSSTwitterAvM. Stephen Stewart is the author of We Are Watching, a new YA Dystopian Action-adventure currently available on Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble.

Find M. Stephen Stewart on Twitter and Goodreads.





I’m looking forward to reading this book.  –Dawn

Ghost Writers

The authors of Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Bobbsey Twins, and many other books written for children were actually written by ghost writers for Edward Stratemeyer and his daughters. Read the article here.

When I first found this out, I had to check on my favorite sleuth when I was young, Trixie Belden. I was relieved to find out that at least the 6 books were actually written by Julie Campbell but the remainder of the series was also written by ghost writers under the pseudonym Kathryn Kenny. 


nancy drew 1 sizedhardy boys 1 sized



“…did you know there’s a town known as the ‘town of books’? In fact, the town is so crazy about literature that it holds an annual literature festival each May… Hay-on-Wye, the National Book Town of Wales which is located on the Welsh/English border in the United Kingdom and lies on the banks of the River Wye. It is one of those towns left untouched by the 20th century…” 

28 Books You Should Read if You Want to


There’s a great article on The Millions in response to recent lists that were posted by other sites listing the books that we should read. My favorites on this list:

You should read the book that you hear two booksellers arguing about at the registers while you’re browsing in a bookstore.

You should read the book that you see someone on the train reading and trying to hide that they’re laughing.

You should read the book that you see someone on the train reading and trying to hide that they’re crying.

You should just keep reading.

100 Books to Read in a Lifetime

The editors at Amazon came up with a list of 100 books that you should read in your lifetime. Goodreads then invited their readers to list the books they think should be on that list.  I was happy to see that some of my favorites made both lists. I’ve read about a third of them. I guess I need to get busy! How many of these books have you read?

Some of my favorites that were on one or both lists:



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Mother Goose

7ac1cb277f1bffcd337ecd99ffb7f628I didn’t realize that Mother Goose wasn’t how cruel and gruesome Mother Goose was originally. An example is “A Little Man”: 


There was a little man, and he had a little gun

And his bullets were made of lead, lead , lead.

He went to the brook, and saw a little duck,

And shot it right through the head, head, head.


Then there is this verse from “Goosey Goosey Gander” which isn’t found in today’s nursery rhyme:

Old father Long-Legs

Can’t say his prayers:

Take him by the left leg,

And throw him down the stairs.

And when he’s at the bottom,

Before he long has lain,

Take him by the right leg,

And throw him up again.


Read more about the Mother Goose we thought we knew.

The Most Frequently Stolen Books

bukowskiAccording to Publishers Weekly, the books that are stolen the most from bookstores are the same across the country. They are:

  • anything by Charles Bukowski tops the list
  • anything by William S. Burrows
  • On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  • The New York Trilogy by Paul Aster
  • anything by Martin Amis


Interestingly, public libraries report that the most stolen books are how-to books, the Bible, and anything to do with witchcraft, the occult, UFOs, or astrology.

Read the complete article.