Thursday, October 28, 2010

27 Things to Feng Shui Your Home

Last summer, I bought a wonderful little brown book called 27 Things to Feng Shui Your Home by Tisha Morris. (I would include a cover image, but Blogger is currently acting like a stinker, and for whatever reason, even after changing my internet options as directed, I still cannot upload an image!)

The Chinese apparently have a saying, "If you want to change your life, move 27 things in your home." So Tisha Morris used that in her title, and in 27 chapters, talks about the things you can do to change your home AND your life.  

1 Clean out your closet

2 Clear doorways

3 Clear hallways

4 Clear out old pictures

5 Get rid of unwanted gifts

6 Get rid of “just in case” items

7 Change your wall art

8 Hang a vision board

9 Make your bedroom a sanctuary

10 Paint a room

11 Rearrange a room

12 Create a sacred space

13 Paint your front door

14 Repairs and improvements:

15 Make your least favorite room your favorite

16 clean

17 Clean your windows

18 Space clean with sage

19 Ring some bells

20 Add crystals

21 Add mirrors

22 Add flowers/plants

23 Integrate the five elements

24 Enhance the lighting

25 Stimulate the senses

26 Add pink to enhance your love life

27 Add purple to bring in wealth

It took me about six weeks' worth of my spare time (weekends and each morning before work for an hour), but I have now done most of her suggestions. And I have to say that I LOVE the results. My home now feels so much more inviting and comfortable, and I know it will feel that way to guests as well. My younger daughter came home for a short visit yesterday and she couldn't stop marveling about the way everything looks.

But Tisha started me on a journey that didn't stop at 27 things. I kept track, and it was more like 61!!!

I'm going to include the list, if for no other reason than for me to be able to look back at what I have, so far, accomplished. And I am not done! There's more delicious decorating to do, and all as a result of reading this truly life-changing book. Thank you, Tisha Morris!!

This is what have done, so far as a result:

1. Created a writing room

2. Created a scrapbooking room

3. Reorganized my 3713 writing files (which were already fairly well organized, but not perfectly so).

4. Updated my picture files.

5. Sent a 1200 word writing sample to the SCBWI retreat coordinator for the Writing Retreat on Hood Canal in November. (Was later accepted as one of 20 participants).

6. Printed “loose” notes on psychology/coaching/motivation that I’d found during my file reorganization project and put them in a notebook comprised of that type of notes.

7. Created a new coaching notebook with all of my current goals and strategies for achieving them

8. Cleaned my bedroom from top to bottom (vacuumed mattress and etc)

9. Put away summer clothes, took out fall/winter ones and bought a bunch of new clothes

10. Took the standing jewelry chest of one of my daughter’s (she didn’t want it) and brought it up from the basement, cleaned it and put my own jewelry in it. Bought a couple of bead storage boxes, and was able to give each of my 150+ pairs of earrings a separate storage compartment, in addition to great storage for my necklaces, bracelets and brooches

11. De-cluttered the third-floor hallway

12. Cleaned/straightened (de-cluttered) the linen closet

13. Washed all sofa pillows, all sofa throws, all sleeping bags, all throw rugs, all bed pillows and two comforters

14. Cleaned all three bathrooms, including cabinet reorganization

15. Ordered some curtains to cover the bookshelves in my office. I deal with books all day at work. My work office is full of books, as I am a librarian. My home office looks like a library—and while I want the books to be there, I don’t want to have to look at them. They’re too distracting while I write. I want the room to feel comfortable.

16. Bought a 7’ silk tree to go in the living room, as well as seven-silk flower arrangements to go in various other areas of the home. (My home office, the living room, the dining room, the foyer.)

17. De-cluttered and reorganized the storage room, basically turning it into a library, in addition to it being filled with four crates of photos, three crates of “vintage” clothing, one crate of 14 porcelain dolls, one crate of paperdolls, four crates of Christmas decorations, and six crates of accounting/income tax information.

18. Put ALL of my younger daughter’s things into a spare bedroom in the basement.

19. Filled four crates with my kids’ toys that are in still great shape (stuffed animals, puppets, etc) for the grandkids to play with

20. Swept the basement

21. Set up the teepee and a children’s play corner in the basement

22. Took Christmas decorations that’d been under the basement stairs and in one of the three china cabinets on the main floor upstairs to the storage room so that now all Christmas decorations are in the same area

23. Took painting/wallpapering supplies from third-floor storage room and put them under the basement stairs

24. All suitcases, camping supplies and sleeping bags are now in the basement storage room

25. Cleaned the oven

26. Cleaned the freezer

27. Cleaned the refrigerator

28. Cleaned/rearranged the kitchen cabinets

29. Cleared everything out of the closet in the basement (that’d been filled with my daughter’s things) and moved it all to her own “mini-storage”—the spare bedroom in the basement. (was about 12-15 crates’ worth in that one closet alone)

30. Cleaned/wiped all kitchen cabinets/counters in basement kitchen

31. Set up a children’s art center in the basement

32. Set up a gift wrapping center in the basement

33. Cleaned 11 light fixtures in the kitchen/dining room areas

34. RSS’d about 150 writer blogs as “the next step” in the (future) switch from my blog being a book review blog to that of being a writer’s blog.

35. Dealt with files in the tall oak filing cabinet

36. Cleaned and organized the laundry room: cabinets and closet; washed laundry room curtains & cleaned light fixture; set up cabinet areas—one exclusively for cleaning supplies, and another exclusively for laundry supplies, in addition to the rest of the cabinets being for my husband’s clothing

37. Cleaned my husband’s clothes closet in our bedroom

38. Cleaned/organized chest of drawers in bedroom and drawers in bedside tables

39. Dealt w/ the remaining pile of chaos in bedroom (clothes that needed to be sorted/put in bags for Goodwill or other

40. Bought and installed a foam mattress pad, plus plush mattress cover and 2 sheet sets.

41. Bought and hung curtains for three basement windows

42. Created Feng Shui bagua maps for all three floors of the house, with ideas for further decorating

43. Sorted through images on free image websites and downloaded 350 pix for blog posts on various concepts

44. Sorted all 300 RSS feeds that I subscribe to, and placed them into various folders.

45. Bought four books on creating wall art

46. Hung closet doors in basement

47. Spent 10 hours preparing to shampoo, and then shampooing the upholstery, stairs, carpets on two floors, and 2-5x8 oriental carpets.

48. Assessed contents of the three china cabinets and got rid of some things, decided to display other things, and put still other items in the storage room, as they are Christmas decorations

49. Rearranged the furniture in the foyer, dining and living rooms

50. De-cluttered and rearranged the contents of my home office

51. Ordered many new things to redecorate my home: a new bedspread, curtains for nine windows, an oriental carpet for the kitchen, a mirror for dining room, lamps, artwork. (I have a middle-class income, and so JC Penny's works for me.)

52. Made plans for walls (and entire rooms) that I want to paint in new colors

53. Made plans for further decorating: additional new things that I want to purchase for various rooms, and/or action steps to be implemented as I am able

54. Read one of the two books on writing, as requested by the editors who will be at the writing retreat in Western Washington, first week in November

55. Dealt with the last few pieces of clutter on the main floor (after having removed many, many bags of trash). These were items that belonged to my children and needed to go to them!

56. Washed and re-hung the linen closet doors. They are wooden, louver doors that had collected thick dust in the louvers. Was able to rout out the dust with a power brush and Windex.

57. Washed all of my jewelry in hot, sudsy water with a dollop of ammonia.

58. Created a master calendar for meals and housework tasks

59. Finished reading a book on home lighting, taking notes, and implementing ideas. Bought 2 uplights, 2 accent lamps, 2 puck lights to light up the new tree. Still need to buy two torchieres.

60. Took off the “no kid” latches that were on the basement cabs and drawers

61. Ordered “The Presence Process,” a book that I’d checked out from the library, renewed, and then decided I needed to buy my own copy. I couldn’t keep renewing it, even if I am a librarian. It’s not appropriate to hog new books!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Every Little Thing in the World by Nina De Gramont

Every Little Thing in the World
Nina De Gramont
Realistic; Young Adult
March 2010

Before she can decide what to do about her newly discovered pregnancy, sixteen-year-old Sydney is punished for "borrowing" a car and shipped out, along with best friend, Natalia, to a wilderness camp for the next six weeks. (BWI description)

Sydney’s not a “bad girl,” but an average, sixteen-year-old teen who accidentally gets pregnant after dating a boy a handful of times. She can’t believe it happened. She’d listened to her teachers in the sex-education classes at her private school. She and her long-time boyfriend had always taken precautions. It’s only after they break up that she forgets to be careful, resulting in the pregnancy that threatens to change her life forever. She’s sure that her parents wouldn’t understand, and in the beginning, they wouldn’t. So she puts off telling them. It takes until the end to resolve the issue of the pregnancy, and to tell her mother, if not her father, about what happened. Most of the book takes place during a month spent at a wilderness adventure camp in Canada, where Sydney’s dad has sent her after her mother can no longer handle her acting out.

In the ongoing conversation about whether abortion is or isn’t murder, and whether a pregnant teen should have the baby and keep it, or give it up for adoption, Ms. DeGramont does a thorough job of examining the possible repercussions of each choice, while writing a thoroughly entertaining, and though-provoking, novel.

Not everyone would make the choice Sydney and her mother believe is the only right one in this situation. But it’s right for their values, which enables DeGramont to shade the meaning and the attitudes into those that are upbeat and convincing.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Something, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott

Something, Maybe

Elizabeth Scott
Simon Pulse
March 2010

Seventeen-year-old Hannah does everything she can to avoid being noticed due to the scandalous occupations of her parents, but she might have to make an effort to change that after she develops a crush on two guys at her part-time job. (BWI description)

This was a slight, but enjoyable, book, a quick read. If you’ve ever read any Elizabeth Scott’s novels, you know she is very talented. Living Dead Girl was one of the most disturbing books of 2008. By contrast, Something, Maybe is a more simple story of a girl who wants one guy, but discovers that a better one was always there, just waiting for her to notice.

What makes the book unusual is seventeen-year-old Hannah’s embarrassing, infamous parents. Her mother earns her living as an erotic web-chat hostess, and her father was fashioned after Hugh Hefner. Jackson (the Hefner-type character) was in his 50’s when he had a two-year relationship with Candy, Hannah’s nineteen-year-old mother, impregnated her, promptly dumped her, and would never have claimed his child, were it not for a paternity suit. Unfortunately, Candy refused to take any child support from wealthy Jackson, thus Candy and Hannah only scrape by from payday to payday. Candy is portrayed as reasonably likeable—she’s not overly vain, and she tries to be a good mother, though spending all of her time strutting around in scant, sexy undies in front of a webcam. That she wouldn’t accept any financial support from Jackson made her seem very stupid to me.

Though not ordinary parents, Scott rendered them realistically and, in fact, they are the most interesting aspect of the story. In a bid to improve his image, Jackson, who is now in his seventies, sends for Hannah. While spending time with him, she gets an eyeful about his lifestyle.

When not feeling embarrassed by her overly libidinous parents, Hannah works at the call center for a drive-in burger restaurant. Josh, the gorgeous poet and activist that she pines for, is totally unattainable. Finn, an awkward but nice, guy-next-door type, is constantly doing what he can to get her to notice him … until, one day, she finally does.

Hannah is a likeable girl. Instead of making her too cynical, which Scott could’ve done, she rightly gives her a cheeky quality that is entirely appropriate, given her parents. Irreverence is always easier to take than unrelenting cynicism. Scott’s dialogue catches the way teens talk, and what they talk about, superbly.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wheat Harvest 2010

Wheat harvest is in full, dusty, and glorious swing.
I love the sound of combines as they travel down a road. I think it's the sound of the hydrostat, (whatever that is). I need my husband to help me with this post. The header bounces along. Combines remind me of ginormous grasshoppers--don't ask me why--they don't jump!

The tires stand almost as tall as me (5'4"). To get inside the cab, you have to climb a pull-down ladder with about 10 steps. In the fields, they are incredibly maneuverable. We used to run green combines (John Deere), but for the past couple of decades we've been running red (Case).

View from inside the cab. Wheat is gushing out of the arm into a waiting truck. From the truck, it's taken, in our case, to on-site grain bins. After harvest is over, we empty the bins, one semi-load at a time, and haul it 25 miles to Almota, along the Snake River. From Almota, it's put on barges. The barges follow the Snake until it meets the Columbia, and then it gets unloaded in Portland. Our soft white wheat markets are mostly in Japan and China.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Six Rules of Maybe by Deb Caletti

The Six Rules of Maybe
Deb Caletti
Simon Pulse
Realistic; Young Adult
April 2010

Scarlet, an introverted high school junior surrounded by outcasts who find her a good listener, learns to break old patterns and reach for help when her pregnant sister moves home with her new husband, with whom Scarlet feels an instant connection. (BWI description)

I always find interesting the official "one-sentence description" with regard to what it says about a book. It's a selling tool, and there's always some truth to it. The book always deals, on some level, with that description. But in this case, the description left out what, to me, the book was more about. Certainly in the end, Scarlet has a better understanding of what her personality patterns have been, and has the courage to break the self-defeating ones. But the book was so much more about falling in love with her sister's husband ... And who knows why S&S didn't highlight that instead.

Scarlet is a type of girl you knew in high school. Everyone likes her, if only because there’s nothing not to like about her. She’s not in the popular crowd, but rather she has the type of personality that attracts others who are decidedly not in the "in" crowd. (Whoa, was that me in high school and throughout many years of my adult life? You bet. Not that there's anything inherently wrong in that.)

She’s too shy to assert her needs, or even to know what she needs or wants. Until her sister Juliet comes home one day, pregnant and married to a guy she’d never even mentioned to the family ... Almost instantly, Scarlet begins to fall in love with Hayden, Juliet's new husband. It's just in her to do that. She bonds with the lonely, the downtrodden, the unloved.

Juliet is Scarlet’s opposite—sexy, outgoing, beautiful, and troublesome. In high school, she was into boys and sex. Fortunately, she took precautionary birth control, and so it’s somewhat of a surprise that she should accidentally get pregnant. But then, maybe not. For someone as flaky, self-centered, and immature as Juliet, probably just about anything is possible. (She's not a 100% unlikeable character, but close. Until the end, when Caletti finally shines a light on Juliet's self-defeating patterns.)

Toward Juliet, Hayden, her husband, is a romantic, besotted puppy of a man. He's really a sweet guy, and most readers will also fall instantly in love with him. He writes her the most romantic love letters to Juliet, which Scarlet secretly reads and swoons over. Unfortunately, it would seem that Juliet finds Hayden so boring, that she meets clandestinely with her ex-boyfriend, a creepy bad boy. It would seem that, near the end, she runs off with him.

As you can imagine, seeing that is heartbreaking for Scarlet, who would give anything for Hayden to have written her the love poems. I felt my own heart breaking for Scarlet throughout this book, for her doomed love, and her personality style that was so like my own in my younger years.

What I like best about Caletti’s writing is her deep insights about human nature. She frequently features characters, girls and their mothers, who fall in love with the wrong man, and it screws up their lives. But overall is a sweet romanticism toward life, which I find delightful.

If you're someone who likes a book heavy on plot, this one will disappoint. Scarlet spends most of her time worrying about other people’s problems, and so much of the book is introspective. But because Caletti  understands human personality and motivation on such a deep level, I loved that. Scarlet loves to read psychology books, which explains why she understands more about psychology than anyone her age normally would.

If I were to review this in terms of character analysis, and use Enneagram personality styles as a blueprint, Scarlet is the classic NINE. It is very difficult to pull off a story about a NINE style (as the protagonist) because they have very little sense of self. They don't cause conflict, because they have no idea who they are, or what they want. Because of that, there is no burning need that would push a plot forward.

But Caletti succeeds at it, and beautifully. The NINE style personality is afraid to hope for anything for their own self. They felt neglected by their parents when young. They felt that one of their siblings, or one of their parents, got all of the attention. Totally true in this novel. They don’t know what they want, and even if, by chance, they do find themselves wanting something, they’re afraid to go after it.

So they cling to hope instead. They're the old fashioned, fairy tale princesses who hope the warty toad they kiss will turn into a prince. Scarlet has the most agonizing, heartbreaking hope that Hayden will decide to love her instead of Juliet.

But it’s a relationship that cannot be. Hayden loves Juliet, and they're having a baby together. So Scarlet must learn, in the end, when it’s appropriate to let go of hope, or to displace it onto a more appropriate object. In this case, it’s Hayden and Juliet’s baby. And, in the case of a NINE style personality, that turns out not to be such a difficult thing to do. She also, of course, learns how to stand up for herself. Feeling her anger, she gets the courage to tell her mom how she always felt neglected. She tells a creep who's been bugging her to stop.

The only thing I take issue with in this book is that the Juliet character should’ve been named Scarlet (because she’s somewhat like spoiled Scarlett O’Hara) and the Scarlet character should’ve been a Molly or a Mary or a Beth. Or maybe a Cathy.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Deer in a Harvest Wheat Field

Hubby and I were taking a stroll and chatting about the ripening grain when we spotted a deer in the wheat field. At first, all we could see were the deer's ears, but then it heard us, and took off leaping across the field.

The wheat will be ripe for cutting in two weeks. The air has taken on the delicious, ripe-grain scent of harvest.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Gimme a Call by Sarah Mlynowski

Gimme a Call
Sarah Mlynowski
Fantasy; Chick lit; Young Adult
April 2010

After accidentally dropping her cell phone into a fountain at the mall, fourteen-year-old Devi Banks starts to get phone calls--and an earful of advice on how to live her life to avoid making disastrous choices--from her seventeen-year-old self. (BWI description)

I love the premise of this book. There are times when I would dearly love for my older self to be able to give my younger self advice. Wouldn't you?

As you might expect, however, younger Devi isn't, at first, about to take any advice from anyone, especially the "Crazy Stalker Girl" on her phone. It takes a number of attempts by older Devi before younger Devi actually gets that it's her older self who is magically/mysteriously on the other end of the line.

How does it happen in the first place? Older Devi drops her cell phone into a magical fountain at the same time as she is wishing she could turn back the clock. Why? Devi's boyfriend, Bryan, has just broken up with her--right before the senior prom. But that's not the worst of it by far: for the past four years, she's been devoting her life to him. She's neglected her friends and her studies, and now she doesn't have any girlfriends, and she's being accepted only into mediocre colleges.

It's a fun premise. I loved seeing the differences between younger Devi and older Devi's attitudes, and how things in her life change during the four-year time span. When older Devi convinces younger Devi to change a single, small thing, it often changes older Devi's life in big ways. In the end, both Devis decide that the hassle of cleaning up a mess made as a result of changing fate isn't worth it. Each learns to live in a more balanced way.

I'd recommend this book to teens who are looking for a light, fun read. Bryan may be the cause of all of Devi's troubles, but their "cute meet" at a party is one of the most delightful scenes in the book.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

More Views of the River Ranch

If you drove around our River Ranch, you would take some dips and turns over several miles of non-paved road. In fact, just getting there would take you across four miles of gravel road. Even before you get to the property line, the road changes from gravel to dirt. In the case of the picture at the left, it's puffy dirt, with rocks beneath it. It's not something you would take your car on, unless you don't mind getting dust in your trunk (as well as all over your car).

Yes, Virginia, there are still non-paved roads in this country. A writer friend of mine's NY editor once asked her to remove a reference to a gravel road from her manuscript. The editor said "there aren't gravel roads in America anymore."

There are probably more non-paved roads in my county (Whitman, Washington) than paved. They say Alaska is the last frontier. Well, the west is still quite "wild." When I was a girl, I fell in love with the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. I grew up outside of Seattle, but I knew, after reading the Little House books, that I would love to live on a farm. The interest grew when I looked in World Book Encyclopedia when I was about 10, and saw a most welcoming picture of a farm, complete with red barn and grain silos.

The road (above) is at the top of the ridgeline (picture below) that separates our wheat field from our scrub ground, which goes down to the river. You can hear hawks fly overhead, and the sounds of the Palouse River below. Wildlife abounds: deer, a resident moose. You would find rattlesnakes under the rocks. The air smells heavenly; it is so clean and pure. I grew up watching "Bonanza." This is our Ponderosa, except it's not as isolated (or big!). 

If you stood on the ridgeline and looked out, away from the wheat field, you would see, across the canyon, a fingerlike projection of land, and the meandering river below it. A railroad line once went through this area. I zoomed my camera, and took a picture of the tunnel that cuts through the fingerlike projection.

My husband and two of our kids once walked through the tunnel. He said it was the scariest thing he'd ever done. (And that man has done many scary things. He's a pilot. 'Nuf said.) [What made it scary was that our kids were with him, and their possible lack of safety worried him. Otherwise, the man is fearless.] The railroad apparently blasted out the tunnel. The blast left a pit in the center of the tunnel. My husband said it was so dark that you couldn't see a thing, thus he had no idea how deep the pit was. He and the kids worked their way along the edge--hugging the rocks--and finally made their way through to the open air and sunshine.

Below: A picture of the fingerlike projection. This is the side the hubby and kids came out, and where I was waiting with our younger child. Because the county now owns the land where the tracks used to be, and because the views are beautiful in this area, the county turned it into a popular bike trail.

However in order to get to the tunnel, you have to cross the river, which isn't (easily) possible anymore. There used to be a bridge, but during the fall firestorm of 1990, a field fire destroyed it.

Steptoe Butte in the background.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Tell Me a Secret by Holly Cupala

Tell Me a Secret
Holly Cupala
July 1, 2010
Realistic Fiction
Review copy provided by the publisher
Debut Author

Bad Girl sister, Xandra, who younger Good Girl sister, Rand, idolized, died five years ago. Since then, no one in the family wants to talk about it. Certainly not her snobby Socialite mother, who feels she married beneath her station, and who blames her husband for introducing Xandra to Andre, the no-good boyfriend who killed their daughter. (Note to reader: My bald description does a disservice to Ms. Cupala's more subtle and literary writing style. The book is emotional, but it doesn't read like melodrama, though my summary does.)

Now Rand is trying to BE Xandra, and to come to terms with what happened by living Xandra’s life for her, instead of her own. She chooses a boyfriend, Kamran who, like Andre, is unacceptable to her mother. She chooses Delaney, a girl who is like Xandra, to be her new best friend. Rand is hoping that together they will replace what’s now missing in her life: dearly beloved Xandra. Rand also had a crush on Andre when she was twelve years old.

A bunch of unexpected things happen: Rand loses her former best friends, Chloe and Essence. Delaney steals Kamran from her. Worst, or perhaps best, depending on your view, Rand discovers she’s pregnant. From that point, this already dark story gets ever darker and rockier, but the ending is hopeful and realistic.

The story is about uncovering secrets. It’s about accepting responsibility for one’s actions and relinquishing blame. It’s about learning to forgive, and to have faith that a bad situation could be a blessing in disguise.

Ms. Cupala is a wonderful writer. Sometimes when I read a debut novel, I have doubts about whether the writer will continue to be published. I have no doubts about Ms. Cupala's talent and future as a writer.

Holly is currently undertaking a massive, six-week blog tour. If you want to follow it, check out the itinerary. Giveaways are also involved. Thank you, Holly Cupala, for your efforts in having HarperCollins send me the book.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

This World we Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer

This world we Live In
Susan Beth Pfeffer
Young Adult
256 pgs
April 2010

Book three of the dystopian series that began with Life as We Knew It is no less bleak than the original. Sixteen-year-old Miranda and her mother and two brothers are still struggling to survive in rural Pennsylvania. A year ago, a meteor hit the moon and knocked it off kilter, resulting in almost total devastation of the earth. Sandwiched between these books was The Dead and the Gone, which took up the same issue in New York City.

In this book, Miranda and her family get visitors: Alex Morales and his sister, Julie, from The Dead and the Gone, as well as Miranda’s father, his wife and their baby. Things haven’t changed much. Food is still in short supply. One wonders what will happen when the severely rationed canned goods, that are given out once weekly by city officials, run out. In this book, Miranda and Alex spend a lot of time scavenging the homes of the dead (and almost everyone is dead) for things such as toilet paper, aspirin, shampoo and tooth paste, books. The two teens also fall in love.

I had the sense that the author didn’t spend as much time thinking this story through as she might have. For much of the story, not a lot happens except for the continual search for food and supplies. Miranda and Alex fall in love, and then struggle over it. He keeps saying he wants to find a monastery, where he plans to become a monk and give his life to God.

Finally that issue is resolved, and Miranda struggles because she's not a Catholic. They won't consumate their love, because they need a proper marriage by a priest. Huh???? Considering that they're practically the last two teens alive on the planet, it all seemed mighty silly to me. Miranda's older brother took a "wife", Syl, within 24 hours of meeting her, without any struggle whatsoever. That scenario seemed much more plausible to me. When you are struggling to survive, and you don't know if you'll even be alive tomorrow, some beliefs and values become rather outmoded.

The story was almost over before something of driving narrative significance happened. A tornado strikes, and then the story really comes to life. Seeing the characters struggling with life and death moment by moment, instead of their “mere” and ongoing starvation, was exciting. And even after Miranda and Alex survive the tornado, Miranda makes a moral choice that might drive Alex away from her forever. But any reader with common sense knows that it shouldn't.

Each book in the series reads just fine as a stand-alone. Readers who aren’t inclined to read the entire series can choose whether they want to experience the meteor’s results in a rural area, in New York City, or, in this third book, back in Pennsylvania, with a passionate teen romance thrown in. The ending is ambiguous … is a fourth installment in the works?

Friday, June 04, 2010

Ever wonder how country-dwellers mow their lawns?

I always chuckle when I see my husband out mowing our lawn. Yes, we have a riding lawn mower. A really BIG one.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Saint Iggy by K. Going

Saint Iggy
K. Going

Summary: Iggy Corso, who lives in city public housing, is caught physically and spiritually between good and bad when he is kicked out of high school, goes searching for his missing mother, and causes his friend to get involved with the same dangerous drug dealer who deals to his parents.

I had to review this book on my blog. It came out a couple of years ago, so if you plan to read it, you'll probably need to check out a copy, or find it in one of the larger bookstores.

I read a lot of books, yet the memory of this one is still strong in my mind. It was a gem ... one of those one-in-a-hundred books. If only every book I ever pick up could be as good as this one.  

Sixteen-year-old Iggy Corso is doing ninth grade over for the third time. He’s also about to be suspended for the ninth time, this time for sassing a teacher. He wants to do better, but it’s hard when you’re not very smart, your parents are addicts, and your mom recently disappeared. But when his principal seems to understand what Iggy is dealing with, Iggy takes heart. Inspired that someone actually believes in his inner goodness, Iggy becomes determined to get back into school, and even to be a contribution. That's what his principal wanted him to do, and that's what he plans to do ... if he could only figure out what that would be.

Iggy’s friend, Mo, is supposed to help him, but Mo also has issues. He’s bright and comes from a world of wealth and privilege, and yet he flunked out of law school, and is an addict. Mo needs money for drugs, and so he plans to get it from his mother, who he hasn’t seen in a while.

They arrive at her house, and she's so happy to see them that she invites them to stay. Mo doesn’t want to, but Iggy can’t imagine how Mo could’ve given up all the comforts of wealth. Iggy’s only source of comfort is his daydreams, where he makes a contribution. Where he is a hero.

Finally, in an ending that will take your breath away and make you cry, unforgettable Iggy gets his chance to achieve his dreams and be a real-life hero.

Going has written several other novels. Her most recent, King of the Screwups, will be released in paperback in May. I’ll post a review of that in a few weeks.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Literary Awards 2010: Sherman Alexie Wins PEN/Faulkner; David Almond Wins Hans Christian Andersen

Sherman Alexie has won the PEN/Faulkner award for Fiction for his short story collection War Dances. The $15,000 prize will be given out at an awards ceremony in DC on May 8. Read an article here.

If you've never had the chance to meet this man, or to hear him speak, you've missed one of life's great privileges. Everyone loves Sherman Alexie.

David Almond wins the 2010 Hans Christian Andersen Award for Literature. The Andersen award is the highest award that can be given for children's literature. It is awarded every-other-year by the International Board of Books for Young People. Read about the award here. Read a newspaper article about David Almond being this year's recipient here.  It is said of Almond's works that they are "deeply philosophical novels that appeal to children and adults alike, and encourage readers by his use of magic realism.”

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