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E Wein
For the past 18 years, Scottish Friendly Assurance have sponsored a series of week-long book tours in cooperation with the Scottish Book Trust, bringing authors and illustrators directly into schools: four per year in Scotland and two each year throughout the rest of the UK. I was lucky enough to be asked to tour as a Scottish author in Norfolk, England, this year.


Old school selfie – camera on timer! Beth, E Wein & Tom in King’s Lynn

With a pair of phenomenal representatives from the Scottish Book Trust, Beth Goodyear and Thomas Jefferson, I visited nine schools throughout Norfolk and managed to squeeze in a presentation to three more at the University of East Anglia’s FLY Festival of Literature for Young People in Norwich in the middle of the tour.

To start with, though, I got to meet with and enjoy a relaxed meal with Calum Bennie, the communications manager with the tour’s sponsor, Scottish Friendly. He is a dedicated supporter of the tour himself and stayed on to attend my first event. Later in the week we shared another evening and much book talk with the vibrant Mandy Steel of the Norfolk School Library Services, who was responsible for organizing and coordinating the events. It is fantastic to see so much enthusiasm and effort made to encourage young readers in these VERY TRYING TIMES. I was hugely impressed with Norfolk’s libraries – the old one at King’s Lynn is grand. But the
Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library
, where the FLY Festival was held – WOW! So many events and services, including a Polish club for children and being home to the 2nd Air Division USAAF Memorial Library – a beautiful working space well used.


King’s Lynn Public Library


Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library

Our Monday visits included a virtual tour of Ethiopia for enthusiastic participants at Cottenham Village College and a workshop on structure for the eager and diligent writing students at Downham Market Academy; Tuesday’s visit to Iceni Academy’s keen readers in Thetford combined aspects of both. I was so pleased with the students’ interest, their intelligent questions, and their hunger for books! This enthusiasm couldn’t have manifested itself more appropriately than it did on Tuesday afternoon, when we were surprised to see a familiar cover featured in the promotional banner for St. Clement’s High School:


St. Clement’s High School banner


Close-up of that banner… presumably taken during the Carnegie Shadowing 2013!

Beth and Tom had researched venues for both lunch and the evening meal each day, and on the drive between schools I basically sat in the front passenger seat taking pictures of windmills, pointing out items of interest with the aid of 25-year-old Ordnance Survey maps, demanding side-trips to places like Oxburgh Hall and Norfolk Lavender, and being stuffed with an apparently limitless assortment of comfort food that Beth had stashed in the back of the Scottish Book Trust minivan.


Lunch in King’s Lynn

Alderman Peel High School in Wells-next-the-Sea was a large group – ninety strong - who were focusing on heroism and its ramifications, and clearly just as eager to get stuck into a story of spies and pilots as the more intimate gathering in the lovely bright library at Dereham Neatherd High School in East Dereham. We couldn’t believe how many copies of Code Name Verity got snapped up that day. They were all gone by the end of the trip.


This bucket was full of books before our visit to Sprowston!

It was at Sprowston Community High School on Thursday morning where I learned that Edith Cavell, one of the heroic women mentioned in Code Name Verity, is a Norfolk native. The ensuing discussion of “famous last words” turned about to be an unusual way to hook new readers.

After the FLY Festival Event at the fabulous Millennium Library on Thursday afternoon, we finished the week with a visit to Caister Academy in Great Yarmouth, and had an entertaining and animated discussion with the year 9 English students at Thorpe St. Andrew School (I made the mistake of telling them not to blow their noses in my silk escape map. A lot of fake sneezing ensued). The Caister year 7s had all done amazing research projects on the women of the Special Operations Executive and put together a fantastic display of the results. I was disappointed I didn’t have time to read them all.


Caister Academy SOE project


Caister Academy readers

I ended up the week by myself in Peterborough, overflowing with images, names, faces, scenery, libraries, and youthful enthusiasm as I waited for my train home the following morning. What a lot of preparation went into this tour by so many different people, and how lucky I am to have been able to participate in it! It was hard not to feel a bit blue now that it was all over. I spent the evening glued to the BBC and Twitter as the results of the EU referendum were discussed all around the world.

I had one last outing before catching my train: Peterborough Cathedral. It turns out to be the first burial place of Mary Queen of Scots, before her body was moved to Westminster Abbey by her son James I (James VI of Scotland). It made me feel curiously at home to see the Saltire hanging there so unexpectedly after a week in deepest England.


Former burial place of Mary Queen of Scots in Peterborough Cathedral

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What we didn't indulge in:


ONLY because it was closed.


And this is probably the best of the 420 pictures of the moon I took early in the week. Unretouched!

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Note to Americans: almost all British kids wear school uniforms.
 
 
E Wein
03 June 2016 @ 06:29 pm
I BECAME A BRITISH CITIZEN TODAY!



You know, I have lived in the United Kingdom for over 20 years. Cumulatively, I have lived in the UK for longer than I have lived anywhere else in my entire life. Osprey-like, I raised my children here. Now, OFFICIALLY, I am as much British as American. (It was bound to happen some day!)

Of course I did this for a bunch of practical reasons as much as, and maybe more than, deeply emotional ones. The process was such a grind – my friend Tina and I have been going through it together, comparing notes and interviews, helping each other with forms, etc. We started filling stuff out in February and YES, we had to take the “Life in the UK Test,” which incidentally I think is easier than the one they make you do for US citizenship – it’s kind of like the Great British Pub Quiz, and indeed, I have been calling the whole process the Great British Scavenger Hunt, because it’s required trips to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Falkirk, and ultimately Perth, as we gather signatures and official stamps and pass certificates.

So the very last thing you have to do is make a pledge of loyalty to the Queen, and I had kind of just viewed this as another Scavenger Hunt Item, and was TOTALLY unprepared for how much fun it was.

For a start, I’m so glad it happened in Scotland. I ended up having a private ceremony, to expedite it, as they only do them once a month in Perth and I wasn't going to be here for June or July. They do it in the Old City Council Chambers, in a beautiful Victorian high-ceilinged room all wood-panelled and with ornate stained glass windows overlooking the Tay.







They got out the Saltire & the Union Jack and a portrait of the Queen up on the altar where they usually do weddings.



Because it was private, I was allowed to invite random guests – the Council actually sent me invitations, which was lovely, and I was “attended” by my great friends and (both of them) former next-door-neighbours Betty and Kathryn. Tim came too (Sara is still in Salisbury finishing up her first year at university and Mark was at his Duke of Edinburgh award qualifying weekend on a 50 mile hike). Betty and Kathryn were UBER-EXCITED and got all dressed up and brought presents. Kathryn got tearful while I was doing my pledge of allegiance! “Accustomed as I am to public speaking,” I, you may know, managed not to tear up.



At the end we all had to stand up while they played the national anthem. I loved the speech about diversity and making a contribution. I do try.



Afterward the Council gave us coffee and shortbread and the presiding official, Rhona, revealed that she’d been at a Girl Scout camp (as a Guide leader) in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, near Ephrata, in 2011. So that was a funny coincidence. Later, Betty and Kathryn and I had a girly lunch in the sun in St John's Square in Perth, while Tim ran away to nurse his latest round of dental anesthesia (he had already been to the dentist in Edinburgh and to Ikea by the time he met us at the Council Chambers at 11 a.m.).

“Do you feel different?” someone asked me.

I do, kind of. It feels right. It was time.

The Recall

I am the land of their fathers,
In me the virtue stays.
I will bring back my children,
After certain days.

Under their feet in the grasses
My clinging magic runs.
They shall return as strangers.
They shall remain as sons.

Over their heads in the branches
Of their new-bought, ancient trees,
I weave an incantation
And draw them to my knees.

Scent of smoke in the evening,
Smell of rain in the night -
The hours, the days and the seasons,
Order their souls aright,

Till I make plain the meaning
Of all my thousand years -
Till I fill their hearts with knowledge,
While I fill their eyes with tears.


--Rudyard Kipling

 
 
E Wein
22 May 2016 @ 05:41 pm
This was our Sunday afternoon excursion on 8 May. I was kind of charmed by the pictorial record including our flight path! I did most of the actual flying, but not the take-off or landing – or indeed, any of the radio work. We were amused by the French accent that called in to let Edinburgh know they were going to put “a wing” into their airspace. (Just one!)



We took off from Glenrothes in Fife and headed for the Forth bridges. We followed the M90 and the M9 nearly the whole way. The plane’s path tracks to the right of the motorway going out and back on the flight map! And see how nicely I can hold my altitude?

It was a very hazy day and I’ve had to touch up the photos for brightness and contrast, but you’ll get the idea.

Here are the bridges from the ground, taken on our walk across the Forth Road Bridge last January:



And here they are from the air, two weeks ago. The Queensferry Crossing is really starting to look like a bridge! It is scheduled to open to traffic later this year.



It’s not all scenic, but it’s jolly impressive even when it’s not scenic. Here’s Grangemouth, a bit further inland:



And what’s a tour of the M9 without a glimpse of the Kelpies, “the largest equine sculptures in the world”?





The water visible in the photo is where the Forth & Clyde Canal meets the River Carron, just before the Carron enters the Forth.



A couple of minutes (by air) beyond the Kelpies, the Forth & Clyde meets the Union Canal via the Falkirk Wheel – “the only rotating boatlift in the world.”







(I LOVE THE WAY SCOTLAND ALWAYS HAS THE BIGGEST OR THE ONLIEST THING IN THE WORLD OF ITS KIND: “World’s narrowest hotel” “Fastest mascot dressed as fruit” “Largest open air salt water Art Deco heated swimming pool in the world.”) (NOT MAKING IT UP.)

We headed back the way we’d come, but as we approached Fife Airfield we were informed that there was a parachute drop going on. You don’t really want to come anywhere near that in a small plane, as humans are actually very difficult to see in mid-air. So we set the GPS for Dollar and took a detour to find Castle Campbell. We’d been there in October:





And this is what it looks like from the air – it’s the shining roof in the center of the wooded valley, right in the middle of the photo. The castle was originally known as Castle Gloom, apparently from an old word meaning “chasm.”





That killed exactly the right amount of time. We flew back over Loch Leven, which is just the other side of Vane Hill from Fife Airfield, and buzzed Loch Leven Castle, where Mary Queen of Scots was held prisoner in 1567/1568, during the time she was forced to abdicate.





Last October (not quite 550 years after Mary Queen of Scots escaped dressed as a servant girl) I had my birthday picnic here with my friend Kathryn.



This could have been a Mary Queen of Scots tour if we’d thought about it, as she once stayed at Castle Campbell, and we also flew right over her birthplace at Linlithgow Palace. But we were distracted by poor visibility and Edinburgh air traffic control at that point and forgot to look down!

 
 
E Wein
25 April 2016 @ 02:36 pm
Apparently my OWN CHILD checks my blog hopefully for new posts and is always disappointed.

So I am going to try to rectify the situation by giving you a single week’s update. A Week, a typical one (last week). Because I kind of take these events for granted, but looking at them from the angle of Not Me, some of them are pretty cool.

Cut for long-windednessCollapse )

 
 
E Wein
17 September 2015 @ 11:14 am
I wrote this 15 years ago today - before I'd learned to fly, before I'd written anything other than The Winter Prince, ten years before I wrote Code Name Verity. We hadn't been in Scotland for a full year. It seems appropriate to share it this week, 75 years on from the Battle of Britain.

We went to the Leuchars Airshow yesterday. It was fun - Sara went on a bunch of fairground rides, we watched lots of noisy flying displays and incredible team aerobatics, Mark and Sara took turns in the backpack. But the best part was after we left - old Lancaster bomber, a Hurricane & a Spitfire swooping in and out of the air show. They kept making these long circles, parting and coming together again, over the golden stubble of the mown corn fields, in the long northern afternoon September light. No sound but twittering birds and the low whirr and chug of the aeroplanes, swooping low over the yellow fields, the old warriors, the survivors, remembering sixty years ago.

"...and the old men still answer the call
But year after year
the numbers get fewer...
Someday no one will march there at all."

But this, I think, we should not forget. It scares me that we may forget.

-E Wein, 17 Sept. 2000




Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, Leuchars Air Show, 2010

 
 
E Wein
01 August 2015 @ 12:48 am


It’s been a couple of weeks since our trip to Dorset, and I am a lame blogger. So here’s kind of a photo essay to give you a taste of the highlights.

The trip was Sara’s idea. Apparently she is a dinosaur fanatic and has always wanted to see the Jurassic Coast. The Jurassic Coast, FYI, is a World Heritage Site of 95 miles’ worth of coastline in southern England boasting an amazing amount of geological cross sections and fossil remains. It’s been noted by geologists and palaeontologists for about 200 years. This was not a very organized holiday for us (like we are ever organized, um), and we planned it very quickly, and it was great.

Cut for many picsCollapse )
 
 
E Wein
12 June 2015 @ 02:38 pm
Our children have been embroiled in a school production of Fiddler On the Roof, meaning they were out of the house at 8 a.m. and not home till 10.30 p.m. all week long, so we’ve been taking advantage of a relatively empty nest. Also, IT IS SUMMER, all glorious three days of it, with cloudless skies and temps hovering around 20-25C – or as the Guardian called that in 1969, “The sizzling seventies.” Tim and I went flying yesterday afternoon. Tim flies a lot more than I do, mostly during the week when he’s in Kent – I still don’t have a current rating, so have to take an instructor and do some training. Anyway, yesterday we hired a plane together from Tayside Aviation in Fife.

“Where do you want to go?” Tim asked. “To the Bridges, to the Kelpies, along the Fife Coast?” All twenty-minute jaunts and very pretty.

I said, “How about Bamburgh?” Because I know it isn’t far, especially in the air, and the coastline is wonderful and it is my favorite holiday destination. We have now had a week-long winter holiday there three years running.

“Great idea!”

So that’s what we did, Tim doing the flight planning and the radio calls and all the hard work getting around Edinburgh’s airspace, me doing nothing. As we approached Berwick-on-Tweed, twenty miles north of Bamburgh, he handed me the controls and said, “You can fly us there.”

And as I took the controls I remembered this, from Code Name Verity.

Maddie on fabric wings flew low over the long sands of Holy Island and saw seals gathered there. She flew over the great castle crags of Lindisfarne and Bamburgh to the north and south, and over the ruins of the twelfth-century priory where the glowing gospels were painted, and over all the fields stretching yellow and green towards the low Cheviot Hills of Scotland.


Holy Island and Lindisfarne


the causeway to Holy Island... tide is out


That passage is, I think, the most oft-quoted of length from all of Code Name Verity – to my utter surprise and delight, as when I wrote it I worried it was going to be considered such hooptedoodle that I’d be asked to edit it out. And then I remembered that Maddie also dreams about flying over the sands at Holy Island, later in the book, with Julie. And then I got kind of choked up.

Fly the plane, Maddie.

So I did. I let Tim take all the pictures, because he takes better pictures than me anyway. This meant that I did all the flying the rest of the way down and all the way back. Afterward Tim said, “I’m sorry you were doing all the flying – you didn’t get the best view!” and I was like… “DUDE. I DID ALL THE FLYING. I flew over Holy Island and Lindisfarne Priory and Bamburgh Castle and the Farne Islands. I was HAPPY.”


Bamburgh, looking north toward Budle Bay


(I mean, a little bit of choking up is manageable in flight. I honestly didn’t think about the CNV connection until I was approaching Holy Island with my hands on the controls.)

Nothing to be afraid of, nothing to battle against, just the two of us flying together, flying the plane together, side by side in the gold sky.


the cottage we stay in is at the right of the little square near the center - Sandham, Armstrong Cottages


PS At least one reader on my twitter account connected flying to Bamburgh with Code Name Verity FASTER THAN I DID.

 
 
E Wein
This is what. I went to the 60th Anniversary conference of the British Women Pilots’ Association (BWPA). That is such an understatement in terms of the emotional roller coaster the event put me through. It was held at White Waltham airfield, the home of the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA), and where the BWPA was founded by half a dozen ex-Air Transport Auxiliary pilots in 1955.


Clubhouse at White Waltham


The thing is, White Waltham airfield is also the home of the West London Aero Club, and long before I’d ever heard of the ATA, for five years this was my flying club. My husband kept a plane at White Waltham. I had my first flying lesson here. I took a flight in a Tiger Moth from White Waltham, and looped the loop in an open cockpit over Henley-on-Thames. I was on the airfield at White Waltham when I went into labor, ten hours before giving birth to my daughter, my first child. She had her first flight five weeks later, also from White Waltham, in an Antonov AN-2.


That's me and Sara on the right! Tim is next to me. He flew this thing under instruction from the pilot in the pink shirt in the center - an ex-Concorde pilot. As a result of this flight Tim has a taildragger rating. 0.o


It is more than 15 years since I last set foot on White Waltham airfield, so just being there was a huge nostalgia trip for me. But of course, since then, I have written two novels about ATA pilots. I know the names and faces of the women who flew there seventy-some years ago. When people use photos of ATA pilots to make Code Name Verity fan art, I can identify “Maddie” as played by Pauline Gower, or Joan Hughes, or Maureen Dunlop.


Original ATA flag in the West London Aero Club clubhouse. The flag is on permanent loan from the ATA Museum in Maidenhead.


The West London Aero Club logo incorporates a pair of ATA wings with the ATA’s motto – “Aetheris Avidi” – eager for the air. I didn’t notice this on the souvenir mugs in our kitchen until after I’d written Code Name Verity, ten years after we’d left White Waltham. Now I have this whole other level of historical interest and association with White Waltham – in many ways, just as emotional as the personal association for me.

The BWPA conference this weekend was a delight, inspirational and informative and convivial. I met one of the first members, Muriel Tucker, which was a thrill; I caught up with people I knew from other aviation events; I met older women who have achieved dizzying firsts and younger women struggling to build hours. Pilots, poets, historians, adventurers, astronomers – men and women both – all turned out in their evening wear for the gala dinner on Saturday night. I was SO glad I went!




We got a display from a visiting Spitfire!


And Saturday was just so darn gorgeous, with unlimited visibility, that it would have been ridiculous not to go flying. So I paid for what was essentially a “trial lesson,” but was really part sightseeing and part familiarization – my last logged flight in control of an aircraft was three years ago. Highclere Castle – aka Downton Abbey – was definitely the highlight of the trip. I said to the instructor, “OK, you have to fly so I can take pictures. You have NO IDEA what this is going to do for my street cred back in the States.”


Highclere Castle


Greenham Common and Berkshire


The highlight of the conference, for me, was probably Candy Adkins’s talk about her ATA pilot mother, Jackie Moggridge (nee Sorour). Candy had brought along a ton of her mother’s memorabilia – her original logbook was amazing. For fans of Code Name Verity, here’s the page where she first flies a Lysander – there are “Puss” flights (as in Puss Moth) also on the page! (I took a ton of pictures of entries in this log book.)



Candy told a wonderful story of how her mother used to give her “Spitfire flying lessons” under the duvet before bed. “Now hold the controls and close your eyes – just think you want to turn right. Just think it, and you’ll turn.” When her mother died, Candy – not a pilot herself - was given the opportunity by Carolyn Grace to scatter Jackie’s ashes from the Grace Spitfire, which has dual controls. Halfway through the flight, Carolyn said to Candy – “Hold the stick now – you have control! Just turn her gently right – ” Candy said, “I thought of those lessons under the duvet, and I just held the stick and thought… I want to turn right. And I did.” When they landed, Carolyn said to her, “You certainly are your mother’s daughter.”

It was much, much later in the day that I remembered why the name “Jackie Sorour” – Jackie Moggridge’s maiden name – is so familiar to me. She inspired an accident and an incident in Rose Under Fire. She is the ATA pilot who, while ferrying a Tempest, encountered a V1 flying bomb in mid-air and went after it – though she failed to get close enough to tip it before it detonated and destroyed a village.


Jackie Moggridge, nee Sorour


 
 
E Wein
The YA Dash is now finished and the winner is Melissa P.!



I think my writing owes a lot to the mystery genre. A slow build in the beginning, introducing a lot of characters and setting the stage for later - sprinkling red herrings to lead the reader down the wrong path on purpose - then thundering breakneck action in the last third of the book - are all features of my own style. I think I construct my novels this way because I really love the pacing of mysteries. So here are two truths and a lie about my mystery history.

(If you participated in the YADash, you’d have had to find my hidden clue in the sentence that contains the lie. By linking back to my website author biography page, and the book page for Black Dove, White Raven - links provided below - you can discover what is truth and what isn’t! A full retrospective of the YADash is here.)

I lived in Jamaica from 1970-1973, and my mother used to buy me a Hardy Boys book each week at the grocery story. I’d read it, and she’d take it back the following week and say, “Elizabeth’s already got this one - can we exchange it for another?” (You can read more about my early life on my author biography page, here.) Inspired by the Hardy Boys, a friend and I devised a series called The Churcha Girls, and, amazingly, when we were 7 years old, we actually wrote a Churcha Girl book. The Hidden Treasure wasn’t novel-length, but it filled a notebook. It had red herrings and captures and rescues and closure.


Me at 7 in Jamaica with neighbors Madge Henriques and Patrick Taylor

I left Jamaica soon after, but I did not lose sight of my desire to be a writer. When I was 14, I completed an even longer mystery called The Green-Eyed Beauty, about the supposed kidnapping of a glamorous teen who was actually a spy (yup, even then). My own best friend described this as “the stupidest book I have ever read.” She was probably right. I have got better at titles since then, too.

Black Dove, White Raven, which is published novel Number 8 for me (and the one associated with the YADash prize – read about Black Dove, White Raven here), is not a mystery. And yet it follows that same structural pattern of the slow build with menace and tension which explodes into violence late in the book. It’s set in 1935, as Italy prepares for its invasion of Ethiopia, and focuses on an American teen brother and sister settled in Ethiopia as we did in Jamaica, who get caught in the storm as war erupts around them.



What am I working on next? It's a mystery.

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A total of 10 suspense and mystery authors were involved in the YADash. You can check out their blogs and books here:

Susan Adrian
Lindsay Cummings
Lee Kelly
Y.S. Lee
T.A. Maclagan
Valynne Maetani
Diana Renn
Laurie Stolarz
Mary Elizabeth Summer



Rafflecopter giveaway


 
 
E Wein
19 March 2015 @ 10:01 am
[The giveaway connected with this post ended on 5 April 2015. The lucky winner was Sophie Jordan.]

Hi there from your itinerant online friend E Wein! And for those of you coming here from other blogs who don’t know me, I’m Elizabeth Wein, author of Code Name Verity, Rose Under Fire, and just this month, Black Dove, White Raven. I'm reviving my half-dead blog so I can participate in an online treasure hunt organized by author Teri Terry to introduce readers to a wide range of Young Adult authors writing in the United Kingdom.

Our lucky winner has received a fabulous grand prize of signed books by over thirty young adult authors[ who write and live in the United Kingdom. As a participant, I’ve donated a set of the UK editions of all three of my recent books, signed and personalized.

3_ElizabethWein_Rev

Although the egg hunt is now over, you should still be able to follow the links at the end of our posts for the blog hop and explore a variety of UKYA authors.

I’m American by birth, but I’ve been living in the UK for over 20 years, and in Scotland for the last fifteen of those. I have been here so long that I now qualify not only as a UK writer, but technically and specifically as a Scottish writer. I really love this. In times of yore, when I was a more dedicated blogger, I did a lot of posting about what it’s like to be an American living in Scotland. So just as a taster, here are some photos taken this month. It really is this beautiful. (Even when it's raining.)

Glen Quaich

Glen Quaich


dead phone box

Abandoned phone box, Kenmore




crannog on loch tay

Crannog on Loch Tay


snowdrops at scone palace

Snowdrops, Scone Palace, Perth




snowdrop cookies

Snowdrop Tea at Cambo House, Fife


The UKYA Egg Hunt closed at noon (UK time) on Sunday, 5th April 2015 (yeah, Easter day), but here’s the link to the next UKYA blog if you're interested in exploring – meet Clare Furniss, author of The Year of the Rat, which has just been shortlisted for the prestigious UK Literary Association Book Award. The UKLA book award is fondly known as the “teachers’ Carnegie” and honours excellence in literary fiction aimed at children. Jump to Clare's blog at clarefurniss.com/blog.

You can find out more about me and my books on my website at www.elizabethwein.com. I tweet far more regularly than I blog. My Twitter handle is @ewein2412.

So enjoy meeting some awesome UKYA authors and their books!