Showing posts from May, 2016

Memorial Day

Here's to peace and thoughtfulness.

Friday Flash: Enchanted Blasted Forest

Chuck  Wendig gave us a new challenge this week: a series utterances from his preschooler, to be used somewhere in a story. As one might expect from Chuck's progeny, they were...interesting. I selected "there's a 3-headed flying werewolf in that tree," and the rest of the Enchanted Forest came into being. Enchanted Blasted Forest The Enchanted Forest is a punishment post, but never mind what we did to get sent there. They have to man the post, and soldiers don’t last long there, so you don’t have to do much to end up there. About half of those sent never even arrive. There were six of us, and when the road entered the blasted Forest we divided up the watch.  Tomo watched left, Martin right, Jock ahead, Kora behind, Shea overhead, and I was back-up to them all, scanning every direction as thoroughly as I could. The monsters weren’t bold. If Shea called out “harpy overhead!” we’d all raise our spears and the monster would sheer off. Or Tomo would yell, “there’s a 3-head

Photo Time: East Mojave National Preserve

I've written about the East Mojave before , but we were back there in March, and since I've shared photos from the Death Valley part of the trip, here goes the approximately 20 hours in the Preserve. If you pick the right 20 hours, you can have a nice time, though I recommend a longer visit! We were pin-pointing a couple of things we wanted to enjoy and photograph. 1. Joshua Trees. The Cima Dome in the EMNP hosts the most spectacular Joshua tree forest in the world. Or the universe, though I suppose we could argue that anything that can evolve here might occur somewhere else in a more or less infinite universe. Anyway, we targeted the Cima Dome for dinner and a walk among the trees, with photos at sunset. We had to wait for the good light, so made ourselves a little pizza dinner. The forest on the Cima Dome is as thick and forest-like as any dry-country forest. The underbrush--grasses, sages, cholla cactus, etc.--was substantial as well, and provided a home for many hares and r

Middle Grade Review: Summerlost, by Ally Condie

What? Monday again? I'm lobbying for an extra day to be inserted between Sunday and Monday, because I never quite seem to get to Monday morning on time.  So, just a few hours late, here's my Monday review!   Title: Summerlost Author: Ally Condie   Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers, 2016, 272 pages Source: Library Publisher's Summary: It's the first real summer since the devastating accident that killed Cedar's father and younger brother, Ben. But now Cedar and what’s left of her family are returning to the town of Iron Creek for the summer. They’re just settling into their new house when a boy named Leo, dressed in costume, rides by on his bike. Intrigued, Cedar follows him to the renowned Summerlost theatre festival. Soon, she not only has a new friend in Leo and a job working concessions at the festival, she finds herself surrounded by mystery. The mystery of the tragic, too-short life of the Hollywood actress who haunts the halls of Summerlost. A

Middle Grade Review: Big Nate

I've noticed that the Big Nate books are very popular with the elementary students, and had heard some not-great things about them, so I took a look at a couple to draw my own conclusions. I read the first book, Big Nate: In a Class By Himself, and Big Nate Goes for Broke .     First, the info. Titles are above. Author: Lincoln Peirce Publisher: Harper Collins, 2010 and 2012. Source: Library Discussion: Big Nate is a middle-schooler, 6th grade (that's about age 12, for my British readers). He's no star of his school--in fact, his stories seem to be more about his disasters, though he always grasps victory--of a sort--from the jaws of defeat, which isn't a bad message. I would even say that his victory in "Goes for Broke" is a good one. I'm less impressed with his triumph in the other book, which is to accumulate more detention slips in a single day than any other kid--though he does seem more hapless than ill-behaved. The bad message is how often his joke

Middle Grade Audiobook: The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail

Title: The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail Author: Richard Peck; read by James McCourt Publisher: Listening Library,  2013; originally Dial Books, 2013 (240 pages). Source: Library (digital resources) Summary:  He's the smallest mouse in the Mews at Buckingham Palace, and he's an orphan without even a name. Aunt Marigold, the head mouse seamstress, raises him and sends him to the Mouse Mews Academy, but she won't tell him his name. Soon "Mouse Minor," as the other mice at the academy dub him, is on the run from bullies and looking for his identity. His quest takes him into the palace on the eve of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, and he survives a lot of adventures by just a whisker before finding himself--in more ways than one--in the presence of the queen of the mice. My Review: I have yet to find any tale by Richard Peck anything less than delightful. This one is no exception. With a dry sense of humor and some asides that are aimed at the adults but won

Middle Grade Review: The Thing About Jellyfish, by Ali Benjamin

  Title: The Thing About Jellyfish Author: Ali Benjamin Publisher: Little, Brown & Co., 2015. 343 pages. Source: Library Publisher's Summary: After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy is convinced that the true cause of the tragedy must have been a rare jellyfish sting-things don't just happen for no reason. Retreating into a silent world of imagination, she crafts a plan to prove her theory--even if it means traveling the globe, alone. My Review: First, I want to add a couple of things to the summary: Suzy's grief is complicated by the fact that she and her friend hadn't just parted on bad terms; they had grown apart. And she is the kind of kid who knows lots and lots of little facts, and takes comfort in them. In fact, then, Suzy appears to be yet another middle-school-book character who is a bit on the Aspergers side of normal.* This does lend legitimacy to her difficulty relating to the other girls her age, including her (former) best friend

Spring in Death Valley National Park (Photo post)

A few weeks ago I posted a bit of creative non-fiction from our first night in Death Valley National Park this year (at the end of March). Now I'm continuing with the next two days in the park. In case you want the short version of the Panamint Dunes post. After extracting ourselves and our car from the Panamint Dunes area with no major damage, we were facing the hottest part of the day, and some time to kill before the light would be good for more photos. So we decided to head to higher ground, and drove to Lee's Flats, at about 4000', where probably the second-best Joshua Tree forest in the universe grows (more on this when I get to the East Mojave). Joshua tree forest and Telescope Peak. Joshua Tree blossom. They are pollinated by the yucca moth. On from Lee Flats to take care of chores (water and info at Furnace Creek; dinner along the road) and drive south to a canyon we'd read of, where we hiked again away from the roads and made our bed in a dry wash (yes, we ch

Friday Flash: I'm in Love with a Zombie

Last week, Chuck Wendig collected a whole lot of titles from his readers. This week, he presented us with his 10 favorite and told us to pick one and write the story. He gave us the usual 1000 words; I used 918. I'm In Love With A Zombie But He Doesn’t Even Know I’m Alive Look, I’ve been crushing on Armand since the sixth grade. We’re graduating next spring, so that’s pretty much a whole lifetime, in teen years. He’s never liked me back, of course. Why should the cutest guy in the school pay any attention to a geek with pimples? Even if I do have the best brains in our class. Plus I don’t even know if he likes boys. So I guess I have the best brains except when it comes to crushing on beautiful boys with no brains and 17 girlfriends. I have to admit that’s pretty stupid. After last month, it’s even more stupid. You know all about that, of course. There hasn’t been much else on the news besides the virus that spread into every community in North America, turning about ten percent o

IWSG: Marketing

The purpose of the IWSG: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! Click on the badge above to see the IWSG home page and the linky list. So...What am I fretting over this month? I have plenty to choose from for my anxiety-of-the-month. I'm still revising book three of the Ninja Librarian series, though I'd ha d hopes t hat I'd have it ready for beta-readers by the end of A pril. It's going to take at least anot her week . And I still don't have a title I like, nor any idea what the cover should look like. Not good. Then there's the whole marketing thing, or building a platform, or just being visible out there. I had great hopes of making myself known and loved far and wide with extensive visiting during the A to Z Challenge (in which I didn't participate except as a

Monday YA: Bone Gap, by Laura Ruby

I'm late. I know I'm late. Sometimes, that's just the way I am. I had to finish the book this morning! Title: Bone Gap Author: Laura Ruby Publisher: Balzer + Bray, 2015. 345 pages Publisher's Summary: Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years before, their mother had high-tailed it to Oregon for a brand new guy, a brand new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame? Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turned up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone,