Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pineberries, Pluots, and Tangelos - What hybrid fruit are you?

This little guy is the Pineberry. Looks like a white strawberry, with red seeds but tastes and smells like a pineapple. You can read all about him here: These little wonders are going on sale this spring in the UK. I think it’s cool that there’s this little berry that tastes like a big ol’ pineapple.

It got me to thinking about how we’re all just a big conglomeration of our experiences. Everything, good and bad in our life has brought us to be the person we are today. Pretty deep thoughts to get from a little pineberry. There’s not only the nurture aspect of things but the nature aspect as well. We’re each a hybrid of our parents genes and the generations before them. Okay, I’m not going too far down that road, but you get the picture.

How we deal with our experiences and (maybe to a degree)the influence genetics has over us, determines where we wind up. Whether we a bit more acidic like a tangelo; a tangerine and grapefruit combo. A bit more subtle like the jostaberry; a cross between black currants and gooseberries. Or you could wind up with a sweeter disposition like the grapple; a Fuji apple with Concord grape flavor. Then again, you could be a whimsical mixture of sweetness with a little sour bite in there like a pluot or aprium; both are a cross of plum and apricot. Whatever it is we’re all definitely unique and so is the new kid on the block, the pineberry. What are your thoughts on the mixture you’ve come to be?

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Couple Unsung YA books and a whole lotta' grief

Something, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott (Ages 13 and up) 
Being the daughter of two famous people can definitely have its drawbacks. Hannah is trying to find herself confidence lurking somewhere in the shadows of the bright lights surrounding her parents.  Her mother is still grieving over the loss of Hannah's step-father.  Her biological father only seems to be interested in her when ratings are low.  Hannah is convinced Josh is the perfect guy for her.  Finn, a boy at work and school is purely there as an annoyance.  Her best friend Teagan cheers her on and tries to be the voice of reason.  Will Hannah's efforts to remain invisible fail?  In the end will she realize she shines just as bright as those who truly care about her?  Definite recommendation from me.

Broken Soup by Jenny Valentine (Ages 13 and up)
Rowan is holding the family together, after the death of her brother Jack.  Problem is, it's been several years since Jack's passing.  Her mother is beyond help at this point and doesn't even realize Rowan and her sister, Stroma are there half the time.  While in the store on day, a boy gives Rowan a photo negative.  It's not hers and the small piece of film is the first piece of a mystery that leads everyone to some amazing, life altering truths.  What will happen with the boy, Harper who gave Rowan the negative too? As everyone holds on to their pieces of Jack, yet tries to get on with life, while not completely losing him.  I loved this book.  Rowan was a strong character with a terrific voice.  I also loved the fact that it's set in London so I get little pieces of the British slang.  I guess I should say, "I love this book to bits!"

I've noticed a trend lately.  It was in both of these books, okay not so much in Something, Maybe but for sure in Broken Soup.  It's also in The Hunger Games, which I'm currently reading and I even saw (somewhat) in a movie also.  A parent so overwhelmed with grief that they can not move past it to function in every day life.  While losing anyone in life is horrible and I absolutely understand deep grief.  I'm sure there are days that feel inescapable.  Now, here is where I will most likely sound like a heartless, unsympathetic person.  However, when you have other children you can not afford to check out.  It surprises me how that seems to be a common theme in literature lately.  It would unimaginable to lose a child, beyond horrific.  BUT, you can't let the other children remaining suffer anymore than they already do at the loss of their sibling.  Yes, I know this is fiction.  Isn't alot of fiction grounded in reality though?  All I can say is, I hope that I never know grief of that degree.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Poster for Screenplay

I decided awhile back that I was going to write my YA novel as a screenplay for Script Frenzy.  I've never written a script before, but decided I'd give it a shot.  It sounds like fun anyway.  I was struggling with pov in the novel anyway.  Sooo, for the sake of brevity, I made a poster for my screenplay.  Let me know if you think it totally sucks or it's not too hideous.  I actually have several incarnations of it.  Oh and for those of you who knew my YA novel as "Nigh", I've (at least for the time being) changed the name to "Night Blooming Flowers".  Leave word of your thoughts.  Thanks.

*Note:  I couldn't hang with the last poster, so I redid it.  I like this better, I think. If you click on it, it will enlarge the pic.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Unsung YA Book Giveaway

There are so many great books out there that don't get the attention they deserve.  Not long ago a group of bloggers posted their lists of those books that are the best in their opinion.  Kelly Holmes is doing a giveaway associated with that list.  Here's a link and best of luck:

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Free Reads!

Awesome book giveaway!  Go here:

Review-A-Palooza Part Deux

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson (Ages 13 and Up)

Ginny Blackstone embarks on a journey across Europe. Her aunt, who has recently passed away, sets into motion a series of events that not only lead Ginny to solve a mystery but into greater self discovery as well. Ginny’s Aunt Peg is a wild, whimsical woman who despite passing away is still managing to be ever-present in Ginny’s life. There’s a bit of adventure, humor, and even romance in this book. Major recommendation from me for this one.

If I Stay by Gayle Foreman (Ages 14 and Up)

We get to know the main character Mia, while she spends the majority of the book in a coma, while trying to determine if she would stay alive or relinquish herself to death. Mia is a senior in high-school, a cello player with great promise, and involved with the love of her life, Adam. As you progress through this book you fall in love with all the characters. Mia’s sifting back through her life you meet her tough, outspoken mother, her reformed punk rocker father, her sweet, disarming brother, her gorgeous rocker boyfriend, and a slew of other friends and family. It teaches you that sometimes, the ties that bind you can be to people you didn’t quite expect. It’s an emotional ride all the way through. Huge recommendation for me. I heart this book!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney (Ages 8 to 12)
Okay, so I’m a little late in reading this but I’ve been meaning to and my son finally handed me the book and said “read”. We also recently saw the movie.

Greg is starting middle school. In his quest to make it on the Class Favorites page of the yearbook, he goes through all kinds of exploits. I enjoyed Greg’s sense of humor. The cheese touch issue was funny. It was entertaining reading about his trials of starting middle school (a challenging time for anyone). I was happy to see his personal transformation out of the valley of narcissism. ;) Definite recommendation.

Friday, March 19, 2010


I’ve been doing a fair amount of reading lately. Instead of waiting and doing a review of each book, I thought I would just morph them into one review (I shamelessly stole this idea from Cate Woods).

• “Al Capone Shines My Shoes”, by Gennifer Choldenko is the follow-up book to “Al Capone Does My Shirts”. A middle grade novel probably best for ages 7-12. We rejoin Moose Flanagan, his family and friends on Alcatraz Island, where his father works at the prison. Moose has found out that for every favor someone does, there’s always some form of payback expected. Sounds simple enough, but when the person you have to payback is notorious criminal, Al Capone, things can suddenly become quite complicated.

I loved this book because it was re-visiting old friends. It was nice to see how far they had come, the character development was deeper and there was quite a bit of excitement to the story. Moose is a great main character who is struggling with being on the brink of adolescence but still truly being a kid.

• Puddlejumpers by Mark Jean and Christopher Carlson. This was in the teen section at my library. I personally feel they should re-shelve in the middle grade area. It’s solidly for 9-12 year olds. The main character grows up in an orphanage. There is a sub-plot here that we go through and the main overall theme is revealed later. I will say the plot did have some complexities but I stick with my younger age group for this book. This story was well put together, moved quickly and kept me reading. In the end, the main character, Ernie has to join with the puddlejumpers to save the town. You wind up being a silent observer who’s cheering Ernie on the whole way.

• Num8ers by Rachel Ward. Now, I will be brief with this. I may catch some flack here, but I won’t compromise my beliefs. This book is about a girl named Jem who when she looks at people can see their date of death. After her mother died of an overdose, she became a foster child bounced around, from home to home. She meets a boy her age named Spider.  I can’t tell you much more about this book. I enjoyed it in the beginning. However, (here’s where some of you will groan) the use of the word “retard” completely turned me off. To me, it is akin to using the N word. I will not use the word. I think it’s degrading and just plain wrong. At any rate, it turned me off to the point that I could not finish reading the book.

So there you have it, a review-a-palooza, sort of. I’m still reading, and will, in all likelihood, do this again. I hope you find something that you enjoy reading and I hope this gave you an idea or two.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sunshine Award

Thanks for throwing the baton my way to play Shawna and TK Richardson and a special thanks for this lovely Sunshine Award. Check out fellow writers, Shawna Week’s blog at and TK Richardson can be found at  Thank you ladies!

(In no particular order)

I like ideas – they’re full of promise and something to get excited about

I like writing

I like traveling – and wish I could do more of it

I like tattoos – I have a few

I like reading Young Adult books – Gosh I’m stealing a lot of Shawna’s answers

I like movies

I like food

I like cookies

I love my family-(Again stolen from Shawna and Jemi) I love my son, brother and his family, mother, the whole bunch of ‘em

I hate MORNINGS!!! – I’m with ya’ here too Shawna

I hate the drivers who race ahead in the lane that’s going to end and then expect you to let them over – NO WAY MAN!

I hate the snow – If it were warm and came in colors, I’d be more interested

I hate repetitive noises – please stop the continuous finger tapping! ;)

I hate lying

I hate seeing my son struggle to fit in

I hate people with small minds!

Now you play!!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Incarceron Quite Enthralling

I recently read the YA novel, Incarceron by Catherine Fisher. It’s about a teen-aged boy named Finn who’s locked away in Incarceron, a prison so vast, worlds are contained within it. The prison is designed to be a self-sustaining, evolving world, and we come to learn it is alive.

No one enters or leaves Incarceron. There is only legend of one who ever escaped. Finn however, is sure he is not a “cell-born” but from the outside. He has flashes of memories from the past and is called a Starseer due to his visions of the stars.

Finn gets a crystal key that he is certain is the key to outside and his freedom. He and several others embark on a journey across Incarceron to find their way out. Through the key, he meets Claudia who is the warden’s daughter and lives on the outside and may hold answers to Finn’s past. Will they find their way out, will Claudia reach them, will the prison let them go?

I enjoyed this book. For me, at times it was a little challenging to follow since it was written in third person omniscient and frequently mind-hopped throughout. However, once I was immersed in it, I was hooked into an amazing story. There was also a bit overuse of the word "guttering" in the beginning, it died out after awhile.  There was tons of actions, great description and heaps of twists and turns. The main character slot is shared between Claudia and Finn, equally strong, consuming characters. It is an interesting, imaginative concept. Vivid imagery and a true page turner. A recommended read from me.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

You Just Might Find, You Get What You Need - Self-Advocacy Skills

So, lately I've been busy with lots of stuff. I recently facilitated at a conference for parents of children with disabilities (fabulous conference btw). We were discussing self-advocacy skills for kids.

My son has learning differences, things that make the typical environment more challenging for him. I've been nudging him along in the self-advocacy arena, making sure he has a voice in things. The other day I finally decided it was time to immerse him in self-advocating. He only gets one elective and they've slated him for drama (something he has less than zero interest in). I would like for him to have an elective that he truly enjoys, one of his choosing. These are often the things we remember from school.

My son is a go with the flow kinda' guy. Don't upset the apple cart too much. So as drama loomed ever closer, his nerves finally took over and he began to talk to me about how he really does not want to be in drama. Generally I'm a "try it, you might like it" type person. However, my son has some valid reasons, tied to his disabilities, why drama is not a good fit for him.

I was so tempted to jump in and rescue him from this situation. Instead, I taught him the words "self-advocating" and chose to make this an intro into him dealing with this on his own. Make no mistake, I've got his back if things go horrible awry. Something tells me they won't though. He gets the pride and fulfillment of solving this issue and that will bolster him in future rounds of self-advocacy. It's important that my kiddo and others like him (those with disabilities) give voice to their needs and be able to say "This makes a difference to my education and my life. I too matter." We all contribute to shaping this world.

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