Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Sky Is Everywhere

The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

I was looking forward to reading this book since I had heard so many great things about it. I was right to be excited! Lennon is a 17 year old who is mired in grief over the loss of her sister. She’s suddenly caught between her sister’s boyfriend and the new guy Joe Fontaine. Dealing with grief is hard anytime, but when you’re 17 it quel confusing. Will Lennie ever get it all figured out? Will she realize it’s okay to live without her sister? Will she come to grips with her mothers abandoning them 16 years before?

I want to say I love, love, LOVE this book. It made me laugh out loud, cry, and worry for Lennie. The characters are so vibrant they dance off the pages. Everything from Aunt Gooch (read it and tell me you didn't laugh out loud when you find out who that is) to the quirky little sayings and things they do.  I fell in love with this book.  Ms. Nelson is the type of writer I envy. Every word seems so well thought out, so necessary. Each scene a little jewel box that’s stuffed full of amazing things. If I could crawl into the pages and hang out with the characters, I wouldn’t hesitate.

This book makes me yearn to be a better writer. I can’t recommend it enough. My only word of caution is that there’s some talk of sex, not for tweens or young teens.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Double Shot of YA Lit

I'm a tad behind on my reviews. So, I'm here to catch up now.  Not long ago I finished "North of Beautiful" by Justina Chen Headley. Terra Cooper is a senior, dating a jock, and has a great friend who has her back.  Life can't get much better right?  Except Terra and her entire family is under the thumb of her abusive father.  Terra is also trying to come to terms with accepting herself and the port wine stain that cover part of her face.  When she meets Jacob, everything changes.  Her own view of beauty and what matters in life may begin to look very different.  This book was wonderful, empowering, and a lovely little surprise.

"Breathless" by Jessica Warman is a tale about Kit Kitrell who is a swimming phenom.  Her father is never around, so much so that they call him 'the Ghost'.  Her mother is generally drunk and her brother, who she is closest to, suffers from mental illness.  After a horrible ordeal with her brother, Kit goes away to boarding school.  There she dives (pardon the pun) into swimming and tries to escape the lies shes told, 'that her brother is dead'.  She makes friends but the truth is constantly lurking.  It's not something she can out-swim.  Will the truth ever surface?
There was a raw honesty in this story. The characters are quirky and sometimes a bit too quirky for my tastes.  Katies constant drinking and smoking was a little disturbing to me, especially since she's an athlete.  I liked this book but didn't love it.  I would recommend for an older teen age range, due to the drinking and some sexual issues that arise.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sex Gone Wrong...Songs Done Badly...Contest!

Okay Ryan over at Wordsmithonia has this fun contest going on. I decided I'd join in. Go check it out there. He's got a great blog going, so cruise around it and say hello to him.  I've pasted Ryan's rules below.

So Here Are The Rules: The contest will run in two stages. The first will be the nomination stage which will run for two weeks ending on 05/01/2010 at 11:59 PM. Anyone who wants to nominate a song will have to write a blog post detailing the contest and either a video or a link to a video that showcases the song they are nominating. Please write a short reason for why you think the song you are nominating is the worst of the lot. Come back to this post and leave a link to your post.

The second stage is that I will pick my 5 "favorite" nominated songs which will be announced in a second blog post. You will then have1 week, starting on 5/2/2010 and ending on 5/08/2010, to vote for your pick for Worst Sex Song Ever.
And Here Is The Reward: The winner will get a $15 itunes giftcard.
The song I chose is Little Red Corvette by Prince. You can watch the video here: Little Red Corvette
I mean really with lyrics like:
 I guess I must be dumb
'Cuz you had a pocket full of horses
Trojan and some of them used
Who's not going "Eewww, gross".  I know I am.
And of course we know what a nice girl she is with these lyrics:

Guess I should have closed my eyes
when you drove me to the place
Where your horses run free
'cause I felt a little ill
When I saw all the pictures of the jockeys
that were there before me.
Now really, that just wrong.  It's wrong on so many levels. I don't know what more to say.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Super-Duper Study Guides

I love teachers! They truly are unsung heroes. Education is so important. It is shaping our future. Whether you have children or not, you have to care about education. Because like it or not, it molds your future too, or at least those who will be in control of your future at some point. All of this leads me to study guides.

I have noticed lately that some of the books I’ve been reading have study guides or discussion points in back. I think this is awesome! It’s a way for authors to reach out to teachers and try to bring current, relevant books into the classroom. Teachers, it’s a way to entice those kids to read. If it’s something that they can feel more connected to, they are more likely to want to read it. It helps to guide discussion in meaningful ways that can count for some educational requirements too.

I think authors should put something on the front or at the very least, back cover to alert educators and everyone that there is a study guide within. I know I’ve gotten to the back of the book to discover the study guide and think, “wow, I had no idea that was there”. Had I known sooner, maybe I could have recommended a book to my son’s class, etc. for reading earlier on. Huge kudos to bringing recent literature in to the classrooms.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Two-fer Review-fer You

When It Happens and Shiver

I decided to couple the review of these two books together. They do have similarities. They have distinct differences as well. I’ll cover both in my review. Let’s delve right in.

When It Happens by Susane Colasanti is a story of first loves. Sara is in her senior year of high school and wants to get into the college she been planning on attending forever, and to find true love. She thinks that true love lies in Dave, a jock striving to hang with the popular crowd. Tobey is also a senior, he wants to win Battle of the Bands and for Sara to fall in love with him. It’s interesting that sometimes we want the very thing that is wrong for us. It’s Tobey, not Dave who understands Sara. He gets all the little things about her and they have tons of things in common. Will Sara allow herself to fall for the slacker musician? True love comes in the most unexpected packages sometimes. Both Shiver and When It Happens are stories of first love. They both have alternating points of view in different chapters. One difference in When It Happens is that the chapters were in different font depending whose point of view the chapter was written in. This book was lovely and both Sara and Tobey taste in music was fabulous. They would mention songs, groups, etc. and it would really take me back. It might be a neat reference for kids today, but it took me back because I’m old. ;) Okay, I’m not ancient but I’m getting up there. I felt like Tobey was definitely more of a dudes dude. I also loved the fact that despite their similarities, they each were their own distinct person and had interests outside of one another. It was really a great read and I highly recommend it.

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater is also a story of first loves. Grace has watched the wolves in the woods surrounding her house for many years now. When she was younger she was attacked by a pack of wolves and remembers a yellow-eyed wolf who goes against the pack and saves her. Ever since, she feels connected to this particular wolf and he becomes ‘her wolf’. The wolves are there in the winter but mysteriously gone through summers. Grace longs for her wolf through summers.

She meets a boy, Sam Roth with the same familiar yellow eyes. Her wolf is Sam, who takes human form in the summer and is a wolf in the winter months. Will it be possible to actually have any kind of life with Sam? Sam has loved Grace from afar so long now and he’s determined to share his last weeks of being human with Grace in as normal a fashion as possible. Will he shun the pack in favor of his love for Grace? Will they have more than a handful of weeks to spend together? This is an enthralling story of love and its restorative power on the human spirit.

I wasn’t so sure that I was going to be into this book. I’m glad I gave it an opportunity. I loved the fact that it delved into Sam’s past dealings with abuse, his feelings about being human and being a wolf. It wasn’t just a love story that remained on the surface, it plunged deeper than that and held my interest right up to the end. I can’t wait for Linger now.

This book was also told in alternating points of view between Sam and Grace. Each chapter was labeled with whose point of view that chapter was told in. I loved that because it let me know what frame of mind to be in as I started reading. I felt the different characters were believable and likable enough. I also found myself quite worried about the temperature. ;) Highly recommended read.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Immortal Fairy

I decided to add another poem. However, this is one I wrote quite a few years back. Hope everyone enjoys it. Leave me a note and let me know what ya' think.

Immortal Fairy

On golden wings of light she rides

A beautiful creature to behold.

But cross her not

For no greater terror shall a man ever know

Than to anger the fairy of loves immortal throes.

She surveys her kingdom from clouds on high

Reaching dizzying heights.

She bestows upon those who choose to believe

Ardent days and fevered nights.

The fairy, she loves to share her gifts

For her kingdom she wants to grow

Wishing all of mankind could reside in this land evermore.

Yet we mere mortals take for granted, as we often do

The gifts given us by the fairy and it all begins to undo.

She tosses her head, her smile fades, her wings become more amber.

She is upset we’ve become mired in the details of daily life

We forgot the important things, and love begins to wander.

She sits on her throne, no longer pleased, crying tears of ice.

We simple people must appease the fairy and try to do what’s right.

Do not fret over daily details, strive to live in love’s light

Friday, April 9, 2010

And I'd Like to Thank...

I must be doing something right, I've received the 'Sweet Blog' award twice in as many days.
I'd like to thank the following fellow bloggers:
  • Office Girl at Tired But Writing who always has an interesting take on things that either has me laughing out loud or nodding my head in agreement, sometimes both. Bop by her blog when you have a moment.

  • Nicole Ducleroir at One Significant Moment at a Time who totally understands the importance of banding together through the crazy purging of the personalities within us that we do, called writing. I'm always happy to offer help Nicole and know that I too will need it sometime. Drop by her blog and offer support and let her know we all trudge these paths together.
Thanks ladies for the lovely awards.  And now, to pass it on. I gratefully give this Sweet Blog award to the following fellow writers, bloggers, all around great people:
Shawna Weeks at The Forever Blog 
TK Richardson at My Writing Masquerade
Jemi Fraser at Just Jemi
Cate Woods at Words from the Woods

Enjoy this adorable little bear and pass him along on his way as you see fit.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

And Yet...

In honor of National Poetry Month I thought I would post one of my own. Hope you enjoy.

And Yet...

There’s a sharp intake of breath when I see that you are there.

I try to keep my eyes avoiding yours.

I can’t be caught looking at you.

Your supple lips set just right.

Your chiseled jaw and those eyes,

those eyes you could just evaporate in.

If our eyes meet, will others know or begin to speculate?

Will they see the familiarity there?

Or will they just assume we have an affable friendship?

We have crossed a line.

A line that, like watercolors became faint and blurred.

The colors muted and melded to create something unrecognizable.

Something that once could have been a line, but is no more.

The kiss.

The kiss did it.

The kiss that was so full of passion,

so verboten and rife with pleasure.

I crushed under you with my hands entangled in your mane.

My back against the wall.

The wall so hard and ungiving, unlike you.

Breathless, upon its completion,

not realizing that a kiss could once again make me feel so much.

And yet, here we are, pretending to be virtual strangers.

I have shared your breath and tasted your blood.

And yet, here we are…

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Hunger Games

I just finished reading Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. If you guys know me at all, I’m always the last to jump on the bandwagon of anything. I kept thinking, ‘I don’t want to read a book about kids forced to kill one another in some twisted appalling game’. Everyone kept telling me to just read it, it truly wasn’t focused on that, etc. So I finally gave in, threw caution to the wind and read it. And let me just say, they were right.

Hunger Games, as I’m sure you all already know, was fabulous. I like strong female characters but don’t really go for the whole ‘girl-power’ deal. Truly I think girls have had a lot pushed their way for decades now and I’m a smidge disappointed at the way males (stupid, inept and talked down to) are portrayed in everyday media today. Okay, can someone come help me down off of my soapbox; my knees aren’t what they used to be. Oh, thanks, where was I? Ah yes, I loved Katniss. Her power and intelligence really speak to girls today, I believe. She not only had physical prowess but an intellect than carried her through. I also loved the message that it’s not about your social standing in life or maybe the book smarts that you’ve acquired over time but so much more than that.

The love story deftly woven within was amazing. I’m so looking forward to going on in the series. Will it be Peeta or Gale? Either sound like enviable suitors for a young lady. I’m kinda on the fence about who I’m rooting for. I want to see what Catching Fire offers up in the way of information about both of the guys. Especially now that we’re back in District 12. Maybe I can decide where my allegiance lies among its pages.

Ms. Collins kept my on the edge of my seat. I couldn’t get through the pages fast enough. The suspense was epic. She did a fabulous job making you want to move through the story. The imagery was so vivid, the reader could really feel a part of the story. I personally liked the fact that I knew Katniss came from coal mining territory and the Capitol was in the Rocky Mountains. Living in Colorado it gave me a real feel for their surroundings.

I don’t think anyone needs me to tell them this book was terrific or to recommend it. It was and I do, just in case.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Doing the Right Thing

The other day I did the grocery shopping. My son came along and helped, generally not something he has a choice in. By the time we were done I was about worn out and my patience was wearing thin. It had been a long day and my sweet son had spent a fair amount of time warming one of the benches in the pharmacy area.

I was placing my cart in the cart return, something I’m rather obsessive about. I start to walk away but turn back to see a little old man putting his groceries in his car. He’s bent over to the point that his upper torso is parallel to the ground. I went over and grabbed a heavy box, not knowing my 13 year old was behind me. He took the box from me and asked the man where he would like it put, placing it there for him. We continued doing this until the remainder of his groceries was safely stowed away in his trunk. Once we were done the man turned his face up to my son and I, he smiled and said, “Thank you both so much.” I squeezed his hand and said, “Happy Easter”. As I went back to my car, the woman who had been watching all of this from her car in front of his wouldn’t meet my eyes. I did see her dab at the corners of hers though.

I was so glad that I got to see that man’s smile, and that my son was there to be a part of that small act of humanity. It’s so important that we don’t forget to help each other, to help those bearing the weight of a burden to stand tall, even if it be in some small way. Happy Easter!

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