Saturday, August 27, 2011

Blog Vacation!

So, as you noticed I didn't post yesterday because I have decided to take a vacation from the blog for a week. So, what has inspired this impromptu break?

1. Today is my birthday!
2. My parents are visiting from out of town (yay! so excited!)
3. It is the last week of August (huzzah! I survived another texas summer!)

I shall return in the first full week of September.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Duchess of Whimsy by Randall de Seve

The Duchess of Whimsy by Randall de Seve
The Duchess of Whimsy has a reputation for being the life of the party. She loves extravagant parties, unusual attire, and exotic pets. Being a duchess unfortunately requires here to associate on occasion with those less interesting than herself. For example the Earl of Norm wears ordinary clothes, has a reasonable pet, and likes to talk about practical things.  The Duchess thinks that they don’t have anything in common, but the King admonishes her to be friends with their neighbors.
Then one evening The Duchess’ cook becomes ill. Without food the evening will be ruined so all her guests scramble to make the most unusual dinner that they can. That is except for the Earl of Norm, who decides to make a grilled cheese sandwich with milk.  The simplicity of the meal catches the Duchess’ eye, and he offers her a bite. The food is delicious and suddenly she and the Earl of Norm have something to talk about, and she discovers that he isn’t as bad as she thought. In fact, they find each other very interesting. It is possible that the Duchess misjudged the Earl of Norm and shall have to get to know him better.
This is a cute little love story with fantastic art and engaging story line. It is so fun to watch these two characters get to know each other a little better. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Follow Friday and (eventually) Book Blogger Hop

If you could write yourself a part in a book what role would it be and what role would you play?

You know, I would love it if my life read like a fiction story! At the end all the loose ends would be tied up. I would know just who the bad guys are and who the good guys were and I’d know why they made the choices they did. I would be rewarded for my good decisions and punished for the bad. It would be nice if my life were mapped like a nice, tight plot.
Too often though, I don’t know the why behind the action of those people around me, and it confuses me. I don’t know if a bad experience is going to lead to the epiphany that helps me find the meaning behind it all. Once one of my students asked me if I believed that everything happened for a reason. I answered, “No.”

As I do have a strong faith in God I wondered if these two beliefs were in contradiction with each other. I do know that God watches out for us and prepares pathways for us, and that he cares for us. Yet, sometimes stuff happens and we never know the reason why. Sometimes those things that happen don’t improve our lives, and in fact make it worse. Better yet, sometimes really good things happen and there really isn’t anything we have done to deserve it. There is no reason or why. The blessing just is— there is nothing we could have done to merit some things.

Yet, I sometimes hope at the end of my life I’ll be able to look at the good and the bad and make sense of it all. I hope that I can look back as Joseph of Egypt, who got sold into slavery by his brothers. He had a lot of crappy stuff happen to him, but each experience he had lead him to his next position in life, until finally he was the right hand man to Pharaoh. Then he was able to save his family (not to mention the population of more than one nation) from starvation, because he had counseled pharaoh to save up a huge supply of grain during his seven years of plenty. His faith in God allowed him to accept and find the best of each situation, and his faith that God had made his experiences for his good allowed him to forgive his brothers. I only aspire to have that kind of faith.

Book Blogger Hop

This week the book blogger hop asks:

What is the longest book you have ever read?

I think that would have to be the Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Entwined by Heather Dixon

Entwined by Heather Dixon

When princess Azalea’s mother dies it seems that all she cares for begins to unravel. Her father becomes stern and distant. She must dress in black and stay inside, and worst of all give up dancing, her most favorite thing of all, in order to observe morning. As the crown princess of the realm and eldest sister to 11 younger sisters she must make sure they all remain safe.

One night they discover a secret passage way in their room that leads them to silver pavilion where they meet Mr. Keeper, who allows them to dance their troubles and cares away each night. They do not realize that Mr. Keeper has another identity as the old high king trapped away in the palace for practicing dark magic.

They dance there many nights without a care in the world until slowly Keeper’s darker side begins to reveal itself. Many years ago he made a blood oath to kill the Wentworth General, who displaced him on his thrown. Soon, Azalea and her sisters must destroy Mr. Keeper before he discovers a way to escape and kill their father.

Entwined is another retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses fairy tale. I enjoyed reading this story very much and loved the flawed character of the girl’s father, the King. He leaves for war on directly after their mother’s funeral, leaving the girls to believe he does not love them. So, when he returns and discovers his girls are ensnared in some kind of sorcery he does not get a warm welcome. In fact, it is charming to read about how this family learns to trust and love one another again.

Mr. Keeper is so dark and charming at first, but slowly becomes more creepy as the story goes on. He is an excellent villain that uses the girl’s innocence about magic against them. He pulls trick after sneaky trick until you think he more slippery than a snake.

Then there are the dear sisters themselves. It is hard to write a cast of 12 sisters, but this author manages to make many of the girls distinct and likable. This band of sisters is practically its own small army and you can’t help but root for their success by the end of the book. The icing on the cake to this wonderful tale is the fact that you get not one, but three unique love stories by story’s end.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Book Blogger Hop and Follow Friday

How have your reading habits changed since you were a teenager?

Wow, what a thought provoking question. I need to think about this. I guess I don't read romance as much.

I have also found myself more selective. As a teen a had lots of free time to try out any book regardless of quality. Now I don't try out a book unless I am pretty sure I am going to enjoy reading it. I've grown some pretty refined tastes.

I still like fantasy though. I have started to try and branch out into Science Fiction this year though. I've discovered steampunk.

The biggest thing though and perhaps the saddest is that I think I have finally lost my interest in Harry Potter. Alas. I never saw the Deathly Hallows movie and still don't have a great desire to see it. The announcement of pottermore did not excite me. I think it is cool, but the idea of running around and solving clues to get background book content makes me feel annoyed. I don't have the time or the inclination to run around on a computer game solving riddles when I have a baby and a husband to take care of. I rather write in my free time instead.

So, the death of the Harry Potter fanaticism is strange to me. Perhaps, I have finally grown up. Perhaps I am ready to put this story away, not that I don't want to share it will my kids when they are old enough, but it needs to hide away in a dusty corner of my mind until it is ready to be rediscovered again one day.

Book Blogger Hop
The hop's prompt is on interesting book titles:

Also thought provoking.

Scott Westerfeld's steampunk series titles have always intrigued me.

Leviathan, Behemoth, Goliath. All are words that make you think of creatures that are larger than life, and a bit mystical.

I also think Shannon Hale's books Austenland and Book of a Thousand Days have interesting titles. Austenaland because it refers back to Jane Austen the woman to whose work Hale play homage. Book of a Thousand Days makes you wonder what happened to that person in a thousand days was so important that they would write a book about it? It immeadiately intrigues me and fits so well with the diary format of the book.

So, that's all I have for today. Have a nice weekend folks! I can't wait my husband is off work! I love having him home for two whole days. Please Follow!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ten Rowdy Ravens by Susan Ewing

Dropping in to highlight only one picture book this week. I am trying to read my loot from the library! I bit off more than I could chew. Too many books, too little time!
Ten Rowdy Ravens by Susan Ewing 

This clever little counting rhyme portrays the clever antics of ten mischievous ravens. Each pages reveals a new prank or game that the ravens engage in. From wild, whirling acrobatics in the air to stealing underwear from clothes lines these ravens are out to have a good time.

I love the artwork that illustrates the lively nature of these interesting birds. The back of the book has an mock newspaper, The Daily Kaw, whose news columns report real life anecdotes of ravens pulling pranks, showing off, and tricking the humans around them.

I have always found ravens to be interesting creatures because they are so intelligent and are always getting up to clever antics. So, I really enjoyed reading this book and devoured all the little articles in The Daily Kaw. This picture book is bound to satisfy the bird’s admires and those looking for a humorous story.

visit Susan Ewing's website.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Amelia Lost by Candace Fleming

Amelia Lost by Candace Fleming

I previously read and reviewed Candace Fleming’s biographies of Benjamin Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. So when I saw that she recently released a biography of Amelia Earhart I was thrilled. I ordered it in at the library and thoroughly enjoyed Fleming’s talent for making history entertaining. The opening chapter starts with the dramatic story of Amelia Earhart’s last but fateful flight. The scene portrays the instant when the navy crews expecting Amelia’s arrival first realized she was lost.

The book then switches to information about Amelia’s childhood, and those experiences that gave her the personality and interest for being an aviatrix. So, the biography continues to switch between the narrative history of Amelia’s life and the dramatic clips about what happened after the Navy discovered that Amelia was lost.

I found this biography fascinating, as this time period is full of so much adventure. The author manages to convey just how dangerous the beginning of aviation was, and the progress that it made through Amelia’s life. I felt that the biography showed just how courageous Amelia was but illustrated that her courage also made her reckless in her decision making. To every virtue there is the downfall. The biography also discussed how strongly Amelia felt about women being able to do the same as men, and portrayed this as a motivating factor behind her flying. As a result Amelia Earhart inspired a generation of woman. I found this honest and human look at this legendary woman to be inspiring and interesting.

I really love Candace Fleming. I hope she writes more books similar to this one, though they must take years of work.

Visit the website of Candace Fleming

Friday, August 5, 2011

Book Blogger Hop and Follow Friday

Book Blogger Hop
The Crazy for books prompt today is what arc am I dreaming about currently?

This is a hard question. Currently I am really looking forward to reading Pegasus II by Robin Mckinley but it doesn't come out till next year. I'd love an arc of the next book by Jessica Day George, Tuesday's at the Castle. So, yes. I guess I am in a fairy tale fantasy mood this morning.

This week I am going to do Follow my book blog Friday too! Yea, I am being more social! If you can call blogging social.
They asked what is one book that really affected or changed your life?
I have read many books that have made me think and put me on a new direction in my life, but I got to say the Fiction book that has impacted me the most has got to by Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. I read it in high school and it was one of those path changing books. I was inspired by the tale of Frodo the hobbit, and it was the first book I remember reading where I REALLY wondered how the author was going to pull of a happy ending. Which made Frodo's victory even sweeter still. Lord of the Rings changed how I looked at life and inspired my love for fiction that has resonance (as Dave Farland calls it). It also inspired me to write my own stories. 

 Welcome visitors! Please Follow and have an awesome weekend!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Picture Books: Tana Hoban

Picture Books Tana Hoban

So, this week at the library I discovered the work or Tana Hoban, a writer who was very popular when I was a infant. Apparently, she created very unique children’s books for the time period. I think that her work continues to still be unique and relevant despite its age.

Most of her books contain groups of photographs that are arranged by themes. For example Is it red? Is it yellow? Is it blue? Contains many photographs of brightly colored objects in red, yellow, and blue. For example a little girl in a bright red rain jacket and red umbrella plays in the rain. A huge bunch of colored balloons blow in the wind tied to a tent pole. A gumball machine, rows of sunglasses, a stack of yellow crates provide interesting and dramatic pictures for children to look at and pick out colors.

I wish I had Children’s Zoo when my daughter was an infant. The book is on black pages with white text describing the animal on the opposite page. The pictures are all stark and clear, which I think would appeal to tiny baby eyes. Children’s Zoo is still fun to read now, but the girler’s attention span is shorter. She is more interested in the fact that the pages turn rather than what is actually on the pages. This fact does make these books appeal to me. The books are merely pictures so we can go through the book as fast or slow as we please. If girler wants to wiz through the pictures we can, but if one catches her eye we can pause. This picture book experience doesn’t rely on text for timing, which gives them a charm of their own.

There are many different themed books written by Tana Hoban the ones I picked out included:

A Children’s Zoo

Cubes, Cones Cylinder and Spheres

Shadows and Reflections

Let’s Count

More, Fewer, Less

Let’s Count

Shapes, Shapes, Shapes

Is it red? Is it yellow? Is it blue?