Barbara Venkataraman

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Barbara Venkataraman

Goodreads Author

in The United States

Member Since
October 2012

Award-winning author Barbara Venkataraman is an attorney and mediator specializing in family law. Her works include: "The Fight for Magicallus", a children's fantasy; "If you'd Just Listened to Me in the First Place", a humorous short story; and three books of humorous essays: "I'm Not Talking about You, Of Course," "A Trip to the Hardware Store & Other Calamities," and "A Smidge of Crazy", from her series, "Quirky Essays for Quirky People."

Her Jamie Quinn cozy mystery series includes: "Death by Didgeridoo", "The Case of the Killer Divorce", "Peril in the Park", "Engaged in Danger" and "Jeopardy in July".
Her newest book has just been released: "Accidental Activist: Justice for the Groveland Four", a memoir she co-authored with her son abo

Popular Answered Questions

Barbara Venkataraman Hi! I'm glad you asked that. :-D I am working on Book 6 right now. Here is a sample:

Reluctant family law attorney Jamie Quinn is l…more
Hi! I'm glad you asked that. :-D I am working on Book 6 right now. Here is a sample:

Reluctant family law attorney Jamie Quinn is loving life--and why wouldn't she? Her boyfriend Kip is back from Australia, her long-lost dad finally has his visa and she's about to start her dream job at an art foundation. But it all falls apart when Jamie is accused of stealing rare maps from a museum. If she can't find out who framed her, she can kiss her dream job good-bye--and her law license too. Meanwhile, Kip has problems of his own. Now an environmental activist, he uncovers a deadly secret--one that just might get him killed.

Jamie's in trouble, Kip's in danger, and Duke Broussard has gone AWOL. How could Jamie's favorite P.I. abandon her at a time like this?

Chapter One
"For God's sake, Kip, just admit it. You're an adrenaline junkie!"
"I knew you'd say that." Kip laughed, beguiling me with his dimples. "Come on, Jamie, you act like I'm bungee jumping into the Grand Canyon. It's not that dangerous--if you know what you're doing--"
"--Which you don't!" I pointed out. "Why do you torture me like this? Don't you love me?" I batted my eyes, exerting all my feminine wiles, which only made him laugh again.
He glanced at the old-fashioned clock on the kitchen wall. "Better finish my coffee." Kip took a swig from his Save the Whales mug.
"Why, big plans today? Maybe wrestling an alligator, naked?"
Choking on his coffee, Kip squeaked out, "Um, which one of us is naked?"
"Who do you think?" I said, slamming the dishes into the dishwasher. I turned to face him, hands on my hips. "Let's recap, shall we? I wait months for you to come home from Australia--where all your love and devotion was lavished on wombats who didn't appreciate it--and now you spring this on me? This…this…craziness."
He stood up and stretched, still waking up. "Which is the crazy part, working nights?" he feigned innocence.
I shook my head, flummoxed by my tree-hugging boyfriend's bizarre behavior. "I never knew you had this blood-thirsty Rambo, Die Hard, Call of Duty side to you and it scares the hell out--"
Suddenly, Kip rushed me like a defensive tackle, pulled me into a hug, and spun us around. Then he set me back on my feet and kissed me. I ruffled his hair affectionately, then locked my arms behind his back and squeezed as hard as I could, holding him tight.
"Are you taking me prisoner?" he teased.
"I'm showing you what you signed up for." Then I gave him a nip on his bare shoulder.
"Ow! Is this what girlfriends do now?"
"No," I said. "It's what pythons in the Everglades do. You'd better get used to it."
An hour later, Kip cheerfully waved good-bye as he backed his Chevy Volt out of my driveway. Still in my pajamas I returned the wave from the front stoop muttering, "This isn't over yet, buddy". Then I went back inside to start my morning routine--feed Mr. Paws his stinky food, scrub the coffee pot, etc. My body was on autopilot as my mind worked overtime. It was hard to believe only a month before I had been dying for Kip to come home, praying my dad would get his visa, and deciding what I wanted to be when I grew up (if I could quit family law, all options were on the table). Now that I had everything I wanted I was feeling stressed out. It wasn't supposed to be like this. Of course I was thrilled to have Kip and my dad home, and I couldn't wait to start my new gig as trustee for The Andrea Lowenthal Art Fund, but nothing was going as planned. Let's just say there were a few issues, a couple of complications, and some major headaches. All I wanted was one day without a crisis, was that so much to ask?
In response to my rhetorical question the phone rang. I held my breath as I picked it up.
"How bad is he today?"
"Oh, mi amor," whispered Ana Maria, her voice fraught with emotion, "I think you should come see for yourself."

Chapter Two
I was so anxious to get there it was a miracle I didn't get in an accident. Although it's a straight shot down Federal Highway from the city of Hollywood to the city of Hallandale and traffic was light, the twenty minute drive seemed unbearably long. All I wanted was to be by his side. While I couldn't make up for the time we had lost I wasn't going to waste a minute of what we had left. As a lawyer who relied on words for a living I knew their power to persuade, inflame, or heal--but how would I find the right ones to help him? This was the most important case I'd ever argued, yet I had no memorandum of law, no precedent, to back me up. I was working blind, a magician conjuring spells from thin air.
I arrived at Golden Beach Towers, a fifty-five and over community overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway, which wasn't nearly as fancy as it sounded. I parked my Mini Cooper in a guest spot so I wouldn't provoke the condo commandos who lived to catch scofflaws sneaking boxes into the dumpster or stealing a reserved parking space. Their motto was: We don't like you either.
On my way up to the seventh floor I braced for the worst. Selfishly, I wondered why every crisis had to happen so damn early. There was a reason I avoided morning hearings and morning appointments--I hated morning. My brain refused to engage before ten a.m. no matter how many shots of espresso I downed. I was much sharper at noon. Or midnight.
The elevator opened and I saw my dad's wife, Ana Maria, pacing the hallway. It still amazed me how she had been the key to finding my father--and how without my friend Grace's intervention we would never have met. Had I encountered Ana Maria around town we would have smiled politely at each other, like the strangers we were, and kept on walking. How was I supposed to know she was my step-mom? I didn't even know my dad's real name back then. Life was funny that way. What wasn't funny was what Ana Maria was currently dealing with. She had sacrificed so much for my dad and now that he was finally here her life was no better.
Ana Maria wasn't dressed for work, a bad sign, and the closer I got the more haggard she looked. It wasn't just the lack of make-up--no, the poor woman was exhausted. Her wheat-blond hair, usually so fluffy, lay flat on her head, as if it had given up, and the bags under her eyes could qualify as carry-on. She perked up a little when she spotted me. After giving me the requisite peck on each cheek, Ana Maria rested her hands on my shoulders like an unsteady dance partner and gazed at me, her dark eyes misty.
"Thank-you for coming, Jamie. You're a wonderful daughter."
"You don't have to thank me," I said, a little teary-eyed myself. "I'll always come. Does he know?"
"Oh, yes--he's waiting for you." Her kind face creased with worry. "He says it's urgent, that he must speak with you right away."
"Did he say why?" I asked before she opened the door.
Ana Maria didn't reply as she led me into their apartment and pointed to my dad in the bedroom.
I'm not sure what I expected, maybe that he would be under the covers in the fetal position. Isn't that what depressed people usually did? On the contrary, he was a whirlwind of activity--the TV in the living room was turned up loudly to the news, his laptop on the dining table was blaring out a different news story and he was frenetically pulling clothes from the closet and tossing them on the bed. He is ensemble consisted of a white t-shirt with coffee stains, rumpled shorts, one sock, and a toothbrush tucked behind his ear like a pencil. His appearance was alarming to say the least. I walked over to the laptop and closed the lid to silence it and then picked up the remote and pushed the mute button.
"Hola, Papi," I said, walking into the bedroom. "Planning a trip?"
He stopped yanking clothes off their hangers and turned as if he'd just realized I was there. His relief was palpable.
"Jamie, my only child, thank God you're here! What if I never saw you again?"
He pulled me into a hug that was a little too tight. With my face squished against his chest I discerned that the coffee stain was fresh. If nobody was going to offer me a cup, at least I had the fumes.
I gently disengaged. "Why all the melodrama?" I joked, studying his weathered face for clues. "Are you still having nightmares?" Ana Maria had told me that since returning to the U.S. he had been having flashbacks to his first visit over thirty-five years before. I guess being arrested and deported tends to stick with you--especially when you wind up at Gitmo.
He sat on the edge of the bed, no longer manic, body slumped in defeat. I sat down beside him and put my arm around his lean shoulders. "Talk to me," I said, "maybe I can help. I'm pretty smart, you know. They say I take after my dad."
With a low chuckle, he raised his head with its untamable hair so like my own except his was silvery gray. "Don't you believe it," he said. "Your mother was the genius. But there's one thing I know is true." His eyes crinkled at the corners and he touched my cheek.
"What is it?" I asked, playing along.
"You got your good looks from your papa."
I laughed, as did Ana Maria, hovering in the doorway. "I can't argue with that," I said. "So, what's going on here?" I fell backwards onto the pile of clothes, arms out like I was making a snow angel.
He jumped up from the bed, agitated once more. "I have to be ready, Jamie," he said, his voice cracking. "They're coming for me and there's nowhere to hide."
Barbara Venkataraman Hi Cheryl,

So nice to hear from you and thanks for asking! My 5th Jamie Quinn Mystery, "Jeopardy in July", will be out by the end of December and there…more
Hi Cheryl,

So nice to hear from you and thanks for asking! My 5th Jamie Quinn Mystery, "Jeopardy in July", will be out by the end of December and there's a lot going on in Jamie's world. Here is an excerpt to hold you for a little while. :-)

Jeopardy in July
Chapter One
With lights flashing, an ambulance pulled right up to the front door of La Vida Boca before screeching to a stop. Prior to their arrival, the paramedics had disabled the siren out of deference to the three hundred elderly residents who were all in their eighties and nineties with a few centenarians mixed in. It was wise not to startle them since only one stretcher could fit in the back of the ambulance at a time. In truth, the old folks never got too excited about the ambulance anymore--but if a fire engine happened to show up, that got them out of their chairs in a hurry (relatively speaking) because who doesn't love a shiny red fire engine?

"Here comes the meat wagon again," Herb Lowenthal remarked, barely glancing up from his newspaper.

I was sitting in the opulent lobby of La Vida Boca, a five-star assisted living facility in Boca Raton, Florida and although I'd just met Herb, I already had a pretty good handle on his world view.

"Welcome to God's waiting room," he added, laughing at his own joke.
"Nobody in this place buys green bananas if you know what I mean."

Not sure how to respond, I nodded and smiled. This was a first for me, hanging out at an old folks' home, and it was an eye-opening experience. Herb laid his crumpled newspaper down and studied me over his smudged spectacles. His bushy eyebrows looked like two white caterpillars taking a nap, but his inquisitive eyes missed nothing.

"What brings you here, Miss Jamie Quinn, is someone getting a divorce? Since when do lawyers make house calls?"

I gave him a friendly smile. "I can't tell you that, Herb. It's called attorney-client privilege. Just like on TV."

"Aha!" He pointed a knobby finger at me. "Someone is getting a divorce. Is it the Millers? Those two can never let go of anything. They're still arguing about whether Dewey defeated Truman. I wish I was kidding, oy vey."

I glanced at my watch. My clients were late, but I didn't care, I got paid no matter where I sat. "Before you start any rumors, Herb," I said, "you should know that I also prepare simple wills."

But I wasn't there to prepare a will. In fact, I wasn't wearing my 'lawyer hat' at all that day. I was there as a family mediator to mediate a divorce settlement--and no, it wasn't the Millers. I had mediated hundreds of cases over the years, but never one like this. After sixty years of marriage, Shirley and Clarence Petersen suddenly wanted to call it quits. As a divorce lawyer who had seen it all I shouldn't have been surprised, but as a woman who was recently 'engaged to be engaged', I was thrown off kilter. If Shirley and Clarence couldn't make it after six decades of trying, what hope was there for me and Kip? I pushed that thought away to focus on the work ahead.
My first order of business would be to establish whether both parties were competent. A basic tenet of contract law is that you can't enter into a contract if you're not in your right mind. Normally, each party would have an attorney who would've made that determination already, but these two didn't want to pay for attorneys. That made it tricky for me. How would I be able to tell? After all, a person with dementia could have lucid moments. As the saying goes, even a broken clock is right twice a day…

"Here they come with their next victim," Herb said matter-of-factly.

Two extremely buff male paramedics hustled by us pushing a wheeled stretcher between them. One of them held a portable oxygen mask over the patient's face, blocking it from view. I couldn't tell how serious the situation was, but nobody seemed to be panicking. A few staff members followed them outside with paperwork and within five minutes the ambulance was on its way, siren turned back on.

I looked around the lobby, wondering where my clients could be. Maybe they were sitting there waiting for me? I had no idea what they looked like. Before I could turn back around, I had the wind knocked out of me and almost fell right out of my chair. A large chocolate Labradoodle had lunged from out of nowhere and was now standing on his hind legs, front paws in my lap, trying desperately to lick my face.

"Marley!" I exclaimed as I scratched his head. "Aren't you a long way from home?"

Chapter Two
Suddenly everyone in the lobby sprang into action. Maybe sprang wasn't the right way to describe it, but two dozen old people were suddenly on the move, grabbing their walkers and canes, pulling dog treats out of their pockets, calling Marley's name, and moving towards us at varying speeds. It might've been a little alarming but for the fact that they all looked so happy. Then I heard a familiar giggle behind me.

"Jessie Sandler!" I said. "What brings you all the way from Hollywood? If you and Marley were trying to get to the beach, you took a wrong turn, my friend."

She giggled again. "Hey, Jamie! How's it going? Believe it or not, we came here on purpose. We come every week to do pet therapy with the residents and visit my Uncle Teddy. How about you? You're pretty far from Hollywood yourself. I see you got that blue paint out of your ears!"
The last time I'd seen Jessie was three weeks earlier at Precious Paws, her 1960s-rock 'n' roll-themed dog rescue where we had painted 'masterpieces' with the dogs and danced to The Rolling Stones.

"That paint took a long time to wash off," I laughed, "but I had a blast! Did you sell the pictures?"

"Yes! I meant to tell you, I used your idea and made greeting cards and stationery and framed some of the prints, now they're selling like crazy. We made enough money to buy dog food for a year! Any time you're ready, we can do it again. My new dogs would love to paint--you know, express their creativity."

Only Jessie would think dogs had creativity to express. I was pretty sure my cat, Mr. Paws, wasn't stifling any artistic urges. He had no trouble expressing himself--especially when I left him alone overnight. Then his royal highness would share his feelings by knocking a plant off the windowsill or a knickknack off a shelf--exactly what Picasso must've done when he was pissed off.

"I'd love to!" I said. "Don't know when, but soon." I stood up, leaving Marley to his admirers (which included my cheery new friend Herb) and pulled Jessie aside. "Do you know who Shirley and Clarence Petersen are? I was supposed to meet them here."

Standing next to Jessie, I marveled at how petite she was. Her energy and sparkle made her seem much taller than she actually was. Maybe because she was always smiling, I didn't pay attention to her other features, like her dark hair streaked with purple, or her pixie face with those sleepy eyes.

"I've never met Shirley," she said, "but Clarence is my Uncle Teddy's poker buddy." She scanned the room. "Nope, he's not here. Do you have their phone number?"

I shook my head. "I left it in my office, I'm such a space case."

Jessie took my arm and walked me over to the front desk where a middle-aged black woman was busy answering the phones. After waiting patiently for the woman to notice her, Jessie interrupted.
"Hey, Glenda, quick question--have you seen the Petersens? They had an appointment with this lady and they're late."

Glenda gave Jessie a surprised look. "Didn't you see? Clarence Petersen was just taken away by ambulance. He collapsed on the shuffleboard court."

Jessie startled. "Oh, how awful! Poor Clarence."

I felt guilty that I hadn't been more sympathetic when I saw him carried out. It's like when you're stuck in traffic because of an accident and all you can think about is how inconvenient it is for you. You forget that someone else is having a really terrible day. Maybe the stress of a looming divorce had made Clarence ill--although it seemed like he was the one pushing for it. Change was hard and I couldn't imagine doing it at the age of eighty-three.

"That's terrible news," I said. "I didn't know that was him they were carrying out. I hope he's okay." I looked around the lobby one more time. "Well, I guess I'll get going now, Jess, but I'm glad I got to see you and Marley."

"Do you have to go?" she asked. "I could give you a tour."

I'd planned to spend several hours on the Petersen mediation (now officially canceled), so I had nothing else going on. And while I had no interest in learning about the whirlwind excitement of assisted living, I did like hanging out with Jessie.

"Sure," I said. "Why not?"

Chapter Three
"Next number, B-22. I'm warning you, people, someone better yell 'Bingo' soon. It's almost happy hour and there's a double martini calling my name."

Everyone laughed at that. The tiny white-haired woman with the big attitude was seated at a table facing the Bingo players. She continued calling out numbers and cracking jokes at a steady pace.

"That's Darlene," Jessie told me as we stood in the doorway. "She just turned a hundred and two, can you believe it?"

"Wow! She should do stand-up comedy," I said. "I'd have a drink with her."

Jessie nodded. "Me, too! But I'm not sure about the stand-up. I think she'd have to do sit-down."

I laughed. "That will be me someday, playing Bingo for nickels and counting the minutes 'til happy hour."

"Sounds like fun," Jessie said as she linked her arm in mine and led me away.

We peeked into the arts and crafts room where residents were busy making bracelets before moving on to the library with its comfy armchairs and extensive collection of thrillers, mysteries, and classics. A shelf dedicated to harlequin romances also held some racy bestsellers. A sign on the wall announced that Book Club met on Wednesdays. The thought of discussing Fifty Shades of Grey with women who reminded me of my grandmother sent shivers down my spine. You couldn't pay me to join that book club, not for a million bucks. Well, maybe a million. Hell, I'd eat a cockroach for half that. Of course, a portion of my earnings would have to be set aside for psychotherapy and once the doctors came up with a cool name for my syndrome--maybe Cockroach PTSD-- I'd be famous for the most disgusting reason imaginable. Go big or go home, I say.

"Next stop,” Jessie said as we turned a corner, “you'll meet the coolest guys at La Vida Boca. They call themselves The Card Sharks."

I laughed. "So they cheat at cards, but they let people know up front? Very considerate."

We passed a poster advertising movie night. The flick was Pal Joey, starring Frank Sinatra, Rita Hayworth and Kim Novak. It was easy to see why they had been such big stars; the women were beautiful and glamorous and Old Blue Eyes looked like he was loving life. Strolling through La Vida Boca was like traveling in a time machine. I wouldn't have been surprised to see people wearing 'I like Ike" buttons and humming Elvis Presley tunes--or to see Dr. Who hovering outside in the Tardis. How cool would that be?

"Tell me about pet therapy," I said to Jessie as we continued walking through long winding corridors. La Vida Boca was bigger than I'd thought. "How does it work?"

Jessie's face lit up. "Hooray! I get to talk about my favorite topic. Did you know that spending just fifteen minutes bonding with an animal sets off a chemical chain reaction in your brain that lowers your heart rate, blood pressure, and stress levels? Isn't that amazing? Pet therapy also helps people recover from illness and surgery and it can even help with memory. Have you heard of Sundowner's Syndrome?"

I shook my head. "It sounds like something bad happens when the sun goes down. Is it a fancy term for vampirism?"

Jessie punched me lightly in the arm. "Yeah, Jamie, all the old people turn into vampires. It's a deep, dark secret, so don't tell anyone."

I pretended to zip my lips and throw away the key. "Okay, now here's my deep, dark secret." I lowered my voice to a whisper. "When I was a kid, I was terrified of vampires. I used to sleep with the covers bunched around my neck so they couldn't get me. As you can see, my strategy worked."

Jessie's eyes grew big in mock terror. "Did it? I mean, maybe you are a vampire. You say you don't eat meat, but that could be one of your bloodthirsty tricks."

"I guess you'll have to stick around until after dark to find out," I said, baring my teeth.

Ah, some things never change. I knew I'd be wrapping my covers around my neck that night, just like the old days. It always worked--those vampires knew I had their number.
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More books by Barbara Venkataraman…

Merch store! :-D

Happy almost 4th of July! I wanted tell you that my wonderful publisher, Next Chapter, now has a merch store with lots of cool stuff.

Have you ever pined for playing cards, plush blankets, or 1,000-piece puzzles adorned with my book covers?

Have you ever thirsted for shot glasses, coffee mugs, wine glasses, sports bottles, frosted pint glasses or tumblers splashed with images of my book covers?

Have Read more of this blog post »
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Published on July 03, 2023 13:10 Tags: barbara-venkataraman, jamie-quinn-mysteries, next-chapter
Death by Didgeridoo The Case of the Killer Divorce Peril in the Park Engaged in Danger Jeopardy in July Malice in Miami
(6 books)
4.29 avg rating — 3,642 ratings

I'm Not Talking About You, ... A Trip to the Hardware Stor...
(2 books)
3.93 avg rating — 411 ratings

Barbara’s Recent Updates

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If You'd Just Listened to Me in the First Place... by Barbara Venkataraman
"Only talented, versatile author Barbara Venkataraman (and fabulous narrator Carrie Lee Martz) could put so much fun and wit into a 42-minute audiobook. ‘If You’d Just Listened to Me in the First Place’ is so funny, Ella Boudreaux crazily charming, ev" Read more of this review »
Five Fortunes by Barbara Venkataraman
"Note: I was given a copy of the e-book version of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.
I’ve read Barbara Venkataraman’s work before, in the form of the Jamie Quinn mystery series, which I’ve enjoyed. This book is very different—it" Read more of this review »
American Carnage by Fred Guttenberg
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Jamie Quinn Mystery Collection by Barbara Venkataraman
"Loved it. Strong intelligent woman protagonist and fantastic friends and support group. All the characters depicted real. A geat variety of mysteries and adventures for Jamie so many of them taking her out of her comfort zone bravely faced. Well plot" Read more of this review »
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A must-read book by Tom Gabor & Fred Guttenberg that shatters the myths surrounding the gun debate in America. Meticulously researched and easy to understand, a compelling read for everyone who wants to reduce the non-stop carnage of gun violence in ...more
Duck For Cover & Other Tales by Barbara Venkataraman
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" Thanks, Lori. :-D Lots of talented authors contributed to the collection. Happy Summer! ;-D "
Barbara Venkataraman answered Mark Rabideau's question: Barbara Venkataraman
Hey Mark,
That's so nice that they read to your grandson. :-D I'm not sure if your grandson would like the book as it's about 5 14-year-old girls and their angst in dealing with their problems and friendships. I can send it over and you can decide. Th See Full Answer
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Quotes by Barbara Venkataraman  (?)
Quotes are added by the Goodreads community and are not verified by Goodreads. (Learn more)

“  It was Monday, July 1”
Barbara Venkataraman, Death by Didgeridoo

“It's strange how technology enhances life and diminishes it at the same time.”
Barbara Venkataraman, Jamie Quinn Mystery Collection: Box Set Books 1-3

“Was everyone going nuts? When Duke Broussard is the most stable person you know, you're definitely in trouble.”
Barbara Venkataraman, Engaged in Danger

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“I believe that if, at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try.”
Roger Ebert

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”
Edward Everett Hale

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Maya Angelou

“O, wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in't!”
William Shakespeare, The Tempest

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”
Isaac Asimov

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From picture-books to juvenile fiction, award-winners to overlooked gems, the world of children's literature provides an endless supply of fabulous bo ...more
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This group is dedicated to connecting readers with Goodreads authors. It is divided by genres, and includes folders for writing resources, book websit ...more
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