Friday, February 18, 2011

Lamenting My Borders....

Why, oh Why?  Why must my local Borders close?  My one escape! No more spontaneous U-turns for "just a peek" at what's new. We have a Barnes and Noble but their prices are so high they even make you PAY for their discount card.  I guess this is it, time to support the independent bookstore, Country Bookshelf. I'll have to plan ahead and drive the extra 10 miles - not to mention get used to parking on the one-way, crowded, downtown street and keep the kiddos from getting run over.  I guess it will be a new adventure. One of my instructors from last semester just purchased the Bookshelf...Ms. P. here I come!
Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Do You Have This "Disorder"?

Your name tastes like purple

This post originally appeared on the blog Persephone Magazine.
By Teri Floyd

In my head, the letter "N" is green. The number 5 is blackish gray, and in his early 20s. The month of February is lavender colored and covered in ice.

So in case you haven’t guessed, I have synesthesia.

I’ve had it all my life, I suppose. People who are experts on such things say that we are born with it, that it is a brain disorder. The wires in your brain get crossed, and you experience all five senses simultaneously. They overlap where they should be separate.

Everybody who has it has a different form of synesthesia with minor undertones of other kinds. Mine mainly exists with letters and numbers. I see numbers, letters, words, etc in color. All of my letters and numbers have different colors, personalities, textures, ages and gender. I literally see them as living beings. Colors themselves also have gender. When I was a child often I’d play ‘house’ with my crayons instead of dolls. Seriously, I’d have red and blue get married or green and orange have a sordid affair. My grandma used to think it was so funny. It was just normal to me. Words have colors – for instance, my son’s name, Callum, is a bright, sunny yellow with flecks of baby blue, particularly in the L’s.
the rest of the article:
Actually, I'd consider it a treasured gift!  When I was little I remember specifically assigning colors to numbers and the word for the number like, blue and green make nine. Blue is five and green is four and the word nine is 4+5. I figured it was just childhood imagination. Now I'm going to pay attention next time one of those color/number/smell combos pops into my brain and see what I can remember. This guy is so lucky!I wonder how many writers have synethesia? How many people with writing potential?
Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Book Review: Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke

     For all the fans of the Inkheart series, by Cornelia Funke, the third book of the series is a "must-read"!  While Inkspell left the Adderhead's life bound to the White Book, the story also left the blended family of the Inkworld re-united. Inkdeath begins with a village in peril and the Bluejay trying to set things right again. 
     The story continues with all the favorite characters of the Inkworld trying to protect the children from the cruel Adderhead. Although his life is now one of suffering, it only fuels his determination to seek revenge against the Bluejay and conquer the Castle of Ombra and all it's people.  With the Adderhead's daughter, Violante, the newest heir to the throne, her father attempts to take it for himself. The characters are suffering at the hands of his soldiers and torn between their love for the Bluejay and their children's safety. 
     The last part of the book brings fascinating twists, originality beyond belief and redemption. A battle takes place, but not the kind with armies and combat. This is a battle of controlling the end of the story and taking one's rightful place in it.  Funke includes a special treat after the battle, depicting the lives and future of the characters in the Inkworld. She leaves you imagining what might happen next, while satisfied of the current state of the characters at the same time. Although the book is about death,  it was the ending of all endings, with the possiblility of a new character bringing about adventures in a different world.

     I started Inkdeath in October, but found myself distracted by holidays and other must-reads because of the sadness of the state of the Inkworld. It was a bit depressing in the beginning and middle, with the characters disconnecting from each other as their world is falling apart around them. I found myself wishing Funke would share more of what Mortimer was feeling in this book. Funk's writing never promises a gooey-sweet happy ending so there's always the question of it ending in tragedy. Then there's the cover I couldn't stop looking at - what is that mysterious castle in the skull - it's not Ombra. This castle brings a refreshing change of scenery for the characters to interract in.
      That said, the last third of the book was what did it for me - I couldn't put it down!  The returning characters, the new characters and elements, and the question of whose death the book was about kept me enthralled to the very last page.

I give Inkdeath ****' 4 1/2 stars!
I can't wait to read Reckless - I can't help but wonder if  it is inspired by the last character she hinted at in the end of Inkdeath......

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Book Review: The Sk8ters By Josh S.

Let's hear it for Middle Grade Fiction!

The Sk8ters - a story that starts you off laughing, makes you cringe in sympathetic fear, and leaves you cheering, anticipating, and wondering about the fate of the the skaters......

     This story is about two thirteen-year old boys, named Tony and Alex.  It begins when they first meet at school. Alex shoots spit-wads at the teacher and Tony and Alex both start laughing so hard they get detention.  A budding friendship unfolds as Tony and Alex decide to try to get skateboarding sponsors together, but the tale takes a twist when first Tony breaks his leg, then Alex does too. Both boys recover together then come back better than ever.
     Tony and Alex go to Birdhouse Skateboard Company and try out for a sponsorship. They are pleasantly surprised when the waiting room at the company is a fully-equipped skate park!  The boys are called into the main room and asked to perform several specific tricks on their boards, then asked to leave their phone numbers for call-backs.  Will they win the sponsorship? Will they have their own skateboard video games made after them? Will they be paid to skateboard and play video games?? You'll have to read this one to find out!

I give The Sk8ters ***** 5 Stars!

A little history about this budding new author:  This is Josh's second work of fiction, the first being The Seven ChairsThe Sk8ters was influenced by his teacher Ms. Carlson. Ms Carlson brought publishing to the world of 7th graders this year. She had each one write and illustrate their own story and had them bound through StudenTales publishing. As the mother of this promising young author - I am eternally grateful!

Way to go Josh!  I can't wait for your next fiction piece! 

To learn more about publishing for students click here to go to the StudenTales Publishing.
Monday, February 7, 2011

Book Review: Under the Dome by Stephen King

What am I doing reading Stephen King? (Gore, grisly murders, cursing) This hunk-of-a-book was a Christmas gift from my husband and I wanted to read it before my assigned reading for school took over.  Under the Dome was over 1000 pages! Don't drop it on your foot! The coverlet picture and summary were intriguing as well as the idea of a dome encasing a modern city - an original idea! I read lots of King in high school but YA paranormal and MG Fantasy have piqued my interest these past few years so a King novel would not drawn my attention with all those superpowers and Inkworld's swirling around in my head. So many authors blog about his book On Writing  that I figured I should give him another look and see just what he's got going on after all these years.

     Under the Dome is one of those stories where you can't tell too much or you'll give it away.  A small city is suddenly encased under an invisible dome that even our military can't penetrate. But what happens under the dome....stays under the dome. 

     King spent pages and pages developing memorable characters in this book.  I can't help but meet people and think, "Yep, he's the spitting image of that Rennie character." That's how well  he wrote the Dome. He not only describes each character's physical appearance, but their personality is so developed that you know exactly what they are capable of, down to their innermost thoughts and knee-jerk reactions.  The story itself built in intensity and peaked in the very last two chapters - leaving me sympathetically short of breath for the characters' peril. 

     The other aspect of King's writing is the one that keeps me from reading his novels - the gore/violence/cursing. I kept thinking, "This book would be so great if it didn't have all that - it's unnecessary." But that's King's M.O. and that's how he makes his characters so believable. He makes them transparent, down to their vile natures and evil thoughts. For King, as a writer, it must be necessary because it works. Other than being uncomfortable with all the R-rated content, I was disappointed that the adversarial characters were so well developed but the "good" characters were lacking in personality.
     I can't say I'll be picking up another King novel anytime soon, but because of the strong character development in this novel I give it **** 4 stars!
Friday, February 4, 2011

Having a lil' Fun With The Boys......

The great thing about being a parent of teens and pre-teens is the opportunity to laugh at with them ;0)

Yesterday, I was getting on my 13 year old again for his crabby attitude so he decided to hang out in his room with his 11 year-old brother rather than us. I don't blame him. I knew I needed to lighten the mood. When
 the boys came out to show us these little YouTube clips on their Ipods of "ghosts". I played along but couldn't resist ruining it by saying things like, "see how the guy keeps pointing the camera the opposite direction so he can set up the trick and then turn it back and act surprised?"  Still the boys were enjoying it and we played along.

A few minutes later they went back to their room and I got an idea. I told my husband to wait outside their bedroom and just listen. I went out back with a wire hanger and gave their window a good "screeeeeeecccccch". The boys went from their noisy babbling to , "What was that?" and then silence, followed by "Mooo-om!"  They knew it had to be me - who else would be standing outside their bedroom window, in the dark, in the snow, laughing?
  Dad's  verson : He heard "sccreeeeech"  followed by "What was that?" followed by an 11 year old tearing down the hallway, passing him like he wasn't even there. Of course Dad was laughing so hard he gave it away and they went on the hunt to find me.

Let's just say, the boys are sure now that ghost videos have to be created by people and we ALL had a good, much needed laugh!
Thursday, February 3, 2011

Book Review: Scumble by Ingrid Law

For those of you who have read Ingrid Law's Savvy - you are in for a treat with Scumble!  Law follows up her debut novel with a story every bit as creative as her first. In Scumble, she paints her story with words even more colorful than the cover. I'm amazed at how she could write an entire novel around a 17th century verb - makes me want to a word-a-day dictionary!

In Scumble, the main character Ledger Kale (don't you just love that name Ledger?) talks like a modern day Huck Finn - immediately making you at ease with him and eager to be his best friend.  The story of his coming of age and receiving his Savvy on his 13th birthday unfolds as a message to learn to take the lumps with the bumps and learn to love and use the talents we have to help others.

      This book is a quirky - yet beautiful portrayal of love and devotion of family and friends. I loved that some of the Savvy characters were in it. It was nice to know what became of them. Law displays originality beyond imagining. Some images just stick in my head and make me wish I was there. I'm dying to describe what Ledger did with the tractors...but then I'd be spoiling it! If only there was a summer camp on "the ranch" for readers. This was an excellent follow up to Savvy,not one bit of a let-down like many sequels - but even great on it's own. I recommend this book for middle grade readers up to adults that love a colorful escape.

I give Scumble ***** 5 Twinkly-Blinkly stars! (as Law might say....)
For more info on Goodreads about Scumble, click here
Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Back From Fasting from the Media.....

     What on Earth is fasting from the media?  Well, for the start of 2011, our pastor invited us to join in a 21 day fast. Just say that four letter word in church and people start looking for the door!  This fast was more flexible. It was for any of the days (one or more) in the 21 day shared period and could be from food altogether, certain foods, or things in our lives that take our focus off of our spiritual lives. We followed the "Awake21" outline that's accessible online.
      I decided to fast from the media (blogging, reading news, email) every Monday for three weeks. Mondays are my days "off" after working a four night/day block so that's the day I love to read/write/renew and just enjoy myself a bit more. After that, schoolwork, kids and housework keep me tied up most of the week.
      It may sound silly, but the temptation is very strong on Mondays to just grab my coffee and read blogs for an hour, or hop on in the afternoon when I need a break or think of something I want to look up.  Of course, while fasting,  those moments are supposed to be turned over to prayer and Bible study and you know what? It really did help me focus on studying the word, praying and renewing. It's awful how quickly prayer time can turn into media time. Just sitting idle with the laptop in reach is such a strong temptation. It's good to be back on Mondays though. I wouldn't have chosen to fast from the internet and media if I didn't love reading all your blogs and new books releases. At least I can say, I've come back better, with more focus and clarity. Now I just need to find a balance. So, what's stealing your focus? What's keeping you from fueling your fire?

"...but be transformed by the renewal of your mind." Romans 12:2