I love new books!

It’s been an exceedingly long while since I have posted here…my pesky job gets in the way of my reading! In addition, I don’t have the resources to purchase new books because of a minuscule budget that got even smaller this year. BUT, we just had our Fall Scholastic Book Fair and I was able to buy some new stuff!!! In fact, I just finished a book I bought and it was wonderful.

dragonflyPiper is a young scrapper living in a poor town miles away from civilization. She and the rest of the townspeople make a living by scavenging treasures and trinket that fall from the sky during the strange meteor showers that rain down periodically. She has a rare gift for fixing machines and other mechanical bits that she finds. One day, the meteor shower brings a strange visitor who changes the course of her life. A caravan is destroyed when a meteor strikes it. A girl is the only one left alive, or so it seems. She remembers nothing about how she got there or even who she is. One thing is for sure, though, she is valuable to someone. She bears the mark of the Dragonfly, a tattoo that means she is under the protection of King Aron, himself. If Piper can get the girl back to him, it will mean a reward that could change her life forever. The girls journey will reveal much more than either of them are expecting and the people who come into their lives will bring danger, magic and, perhaps, a home.

Jaleigh Johnson is a newcomer to writing and her first book is full of extraordinary characters. It’s a little bit steampunk (which I LOVE) and a little bit fantasy (beastly) and a whole lot of adventure. This is a must-read for anyone who enjoys a spine-tingling reading experience with just a touch of young love.

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Fantastic Book

If you know me even a little bit, you know that I am not a math person…AT ALL! I don’t understand it and, frankly, it scares me. It is astonishing, then, that I read The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson and even more so that I liked it! Sanderson blends mathmatical, specifically geometry, with fantasy in his latest book.

rithmatistRithmatists are powerful people and they are charged with protecting everyone else. They have the ability to make their drawings come to life. The creatures they create are called chalklings and will do whatever their creators direct them to do. Chalklings have a dangerous counterpart; wild chalklings do not follow anyone’s orders and, when they attack, the leave death in their wake.

Joel, the son of a chalkmaker, wants to be a Rithmatist more than anything. He has studied their defenses and drawings since he was very young, but this magical art was not meant for him. He attends Armedius Academy, where his father worked before his death. All Joel can do is learn and practice on his own…until Rithmatist students begin disappearing. The only clues are a trail of blood and strange chalk drawings on the wall. With the help of some unlikely friends, Joel is soon on the trail of the killer. It’s a trail that will lead to an unexpected discovery that will forever change the course of his life and the world.

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AHHHHH!!!! Holly Black is AWESOME!

You MUST read this book…especially after you see this amazing book trailer!

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Popular YA author speaks

Jacqueline Woodson writes gut wrenching, real stories about growing up. Here’s a great interview with MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry talking about her memoir, Brown Girl Dreaming.

H_WoodsonJacqueline_LGhttp://on.msnbc.com/1AM0ta2

 

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It’s been a long time….

It’s been a long while since I’ve posted anything, but I’m back now, for a while anyway.

I just returned from the ALAN Workshop with a whole load of new books and books to be. The first one I finished is a book to be by Pam Munoz Ryan and it was glorious!

echoEcho is a haunting tale that weaves together the lives of four young people who are all lost in some way. It all starts with Otto. He becomes lost in the woods near his home. In a panic, he falls and bumps his head. When he awakens, there are three young women sitting around him. Their names are the same as the characters in a book he’d been reading, which is impossible, but there they sit. They ask him to read the story to them, but when he gets to a certain point, the book is blank…there’s no ending! Realizing that their story is not yet finished, they ask him for help. They can only be rescued if their spirits are taken from the forest in a woodwind instrument by a messenger. When he offers his help, they are overjoyed, but the only instrument he has is a harmonica. In turn, each girl plays a tune, imbuing the mouth harp with her spirit. They instruct him to take the instrument out of the woods, but he must give it away to someone when the time is right.

“How will I know when, or to whom…?” Otto asks.

“You will know.” The girls whispered.

So begins the journey of the harmonica. First, the instrument finds its way to Fredrich, a boy who hears symphonies in his head. Next is Mike, an orphan living in an orphanage in Philadelphia with his little brother, who finds it in a music store. Last is Ivy, the daughter of Mexican immigrants living in California who got the little instrument on the day her life changed forever. One is lost in his head, another is lost without a home, the last is lost in prejudice. Years pass and they find themselves in the same place on one magical night. As distant bells toll, the three sisters from Otto’s story are set free and all of those who were lost have found a place to belong.

Pam Munoz Ryan has woven an astounding tale that spans 18 years, 3 lives, and 2 countries. Each story is a novelette, complete with compelling characters, interesting plot twists and music, always music. Ryan motivates the reader to keep reading by ending each story at a crucial moment, a cliff hanger. At last, she expertly weaves their lives together, yet allows the reader to imagine how they might meet one another and what might happen next. Ryan is a master storyteller who dips her toe into the waters of fantasy with great success!

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Sea Glass

The sun is up and peeking through my window begging me to come out give him a proper greeting. As I slip out of bed, a warm breeze tugs at my night gown, hurrying me along. I dash downstairs, out the door and climb the dune, stretching my arms out wide, letting the sun warm my skin. Mom calls me to breakfast, so I race the rising sun back down yelling, “I win,” as I reach the door before he is completely over the dunes. My mom smiles and shakes her head as she hands me my raspberries, buttery bagel and milk. I sit out on the upstairs deck watching the pelicans glide over the sea, just barely above the waves.

After breakfast, I snatch my still-damp bathing suit off the line and run to my room to change. I race my brother over the dunes and down to the beach where we spread out a blanket. We sit and wait for the dolphins to come and play in the surf. Finally, they appear, and we watch, barely breathing, while they jump, dive and splash just beyond the breakers. They chatter happily to each other then, with a flip of a tail and splash of a flipper, they say goodbye. My brother goes off to find Billy to play beach volleyball, and I go in search of the perfect piece of seaglass to add to my collection.

When I was little, my mom told me the story of seaglass. Once there was a mermaid who lived deep in the ocean. She was happy there, swimming with the dolphins and chatting with the whales. One day, a dark shape moved across the water above her. She was afraid but also curious. Suddenly, there was a splash and a creature she’d never seen before was swimming on the surface, so she swam up for a closer look. The creature looked a little like her brothers, but instead of a fin, it had two limbs. It was a human boy! She remembered her father’s stories about them. This one was pretty, with long red-gold hair and white skin. She fell instantly in love with him and, when his ship sailed away, she followed. When they arrived back in the harbor where he lived, she swam close to the boat, hoping to get another look at him. She went too close, and he saw her and how beautiful she was and he, too, fell in love. They met every day at the beach and talked to each other. One day, though, the boy didn’t come. Days passed with no sign of him. She risked swimming into the harbor to see if she could find him there. He wasn’t on his boat, but she did hear some fishermen talking about a boy, her boy, who had taken sick and died. She was inconsolable; her tears poured down her face and, as they touched the sea, they turned into smoky drops of glass all the colors of the rainbow; the seaglass was the joy seeping out of her heart. I know it’s just a story but it makes me a little sad for her broken heart.  I think about my family, the people I love most, as I collect the beautiful pieces of glass.

The rays of the sun warm my shoulders as I half walk, half crawl along the sand. Soon my stomach reminds me that its time for lunch. I look down and see that I am standing directly on top of my shadow, which is the sun’s way of telling me my stomach is right. I turn around and hurry back home, but slowly enough to make sure I haven’t missed anything.

After lunch, I curl up in the rope swing on the shady side of the house and read my favorite book for the tenth time. I never get tired of reading about how Sara, a rich girl who became a scullery maid, imagines delicious feasts that magically appear in the attic for her and her friend, Becky! I close my eyes after a while and breathe deeply the salty sea air. I smell the earthy sweetness of the seagrass mixed with the slightly rotten smell of dead fish and crabs washed up on the shore. It’s my favorite smell in the world!

Late afternoon arrives with its deepening colors and quiet as I help mom with dinner, grilled swordfish that dad caught, Yum! We sit around the picnic table and talk about our day. It’s my brother’s turn to do the dishes so I scoot out the screen door before he can try to bribe me to do the for him.

I continue my search for sea glass until dusk turns everything shades of purplish pink, and it’s time to turn back. I meet my family on the beach. We sit and watch ships pass so far out that all we see are tiny blinking lights floating on the water. The stars begin to come out as the soft, dark blue velvet night surrounds us like a well worn blanket. We point out our favorite constellations and tell stories we’ve made up about them. Soon, Mom begins to sing in her creamy, smooth voice and Dad joins in with his strong deep one. I lean my head against my dad’s shoulder, and he pulls me against him, wrapping his arms around me. I’m really too old to be rocked to sleep in my dad’s lap, but I don’t think anyone will laugh. I drift off to sleep surrounded by love and dream of finding the perfect piece of seaglass.

 

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Fun assignments

Here’s another really fun paragraph that is the result of an assignment in my Creative Writing class. The professor gave us a list of opening lines from which we were to choose. We were to complete the sentence then write an opening paragraph to go with it. I chose the line, “I don’t normally dress this way, but…” and the ensuing paragraph is loosely based on the wedding of one Maggie Thrash, one of my many favorite former students, a writer in her own right.

maggieWhite Wedding

I don’t normally dress this way, but it’s Halloween and Maggie is getting married. The venue is out in the country where huge trees shrouded in Spanish moss crowd around an old barn. Its windows emit a flickering glow that comes from the lanterns clinging to its rafters. Many of the guests are decked out in elaborate costumes. There, by the bar, is a beautiful harlequin sporting a costume of red, white and purple with bells hanging from his hat that tinkle cheerfully every time he moves. Standing beside him is a skeleton dressed in a full length black velvet cape, his silver glasses framing empty eye sockets.  A tiny Scooby Doo and a lovely little Alice just darted in front of me; in search of the mysterious Mad Hatter, perhaps? On the dance floor, husband and wife are dancing an Irish jig. Maggie is wrapped in a lacy gown that is layered so that it looks like a mummy’s shroud. It hugs her slim, pale shoulders then falls away like a cloud of dust to the floor. Her death-black lips whisper in her husband’s ear. Nico is handsome in his top hat, pinstripe tails and vampire-white face. His pointed, pearly fangs graze Maggie’s throat. Music from the bagpipes wails like a banshee, oops, there she goes now, tripping over her tattered robe.

 

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