Feature Fun Friday - Organizing the Bookcase

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Twinkle Lullaby by The Piano Guys.

From the same people who did The Joy of Books. This is their earlier version. Dude, I love stop motion.


Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Say Na Say Na (Destiny Mix) by Robert Uhlman.

Pieces of My Soul

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): King of Pain by The Police.

I love how many ways a story can be told in often the simplest ways. For those of you who don't know (it's been a long time since I've posted any of them) I have a great love of photography. It helps me see the world in a new way I've never seen before and allows me to capture a moment of pure beauty, simplicity, or power. So, not quite an adventure, but these are little pieces into my heart, and that is perhaps one of the scariest things I can offer you.

I am going to show you more tomorrow. I am feeling brave.

Feature Fun Friday - The Hunger Games. Make Your Own Mockingjay Pin and Lamb Stew

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Secret Garden by Joe Hisaishi [Howl's Moving Castle OST].

With over a million tickets already pre-sold, methinks most of you will be viewing this after seeing The Hunger Games movie. Or sleeping it off. So what else could I do but a Hunger Games themed Feature Fun Friday? :) Instead of showing you the trailer (I'm sure you've seen it. It's be just about... everywhere), instead I found a video where you can make your own mockingjay pin. So cool. And if you want to extend the love, here is my video of how you can make Lamb and Plum Stew, Katniss' favorite meal from the Capitol. And I found another video uploaded not too long ago for a variant recipe. Have a fantastic weekend everyone, and may the odds be ever in your favor (I couldn't help myself). :)

Review: Imagine a Day by Sarah L. Thompson and Rob Gonsalves

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): A Forrest by Lunar Click.

My reviews are a bit different than most. As an undercover superhero (ordinary girl extraordinaire), my purpose is to try and uncover hidden gems lost from the familiar radar. Because of this, I have set up some guidelines for myself (just like the pirate code). :)

I will focus on YA and Children's literature (with very rare exceptions).
I will not review any book that is one of the top 25,000 bestselling books (based on Amazon ranks).
I will try and aim for books 100,000 or larger.
I will review recent books or books of great merit (preferably both).

Imagine a Day Sarah L. Thompson and Rob Gonsalves
Published: Janurary 25, 2005
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Pages: 40
Current Amazon Rank: #41,074

Author's Website:
Want it? Find it here.

The First Line:

Imagine a day...

My Take:

This is another picture book I love. The thing I love about picture books is how much can be evoked in such a small space. Sometimes it is the words used to masterful effect. Sometimes it is the illustrations so creatively and absorbingly done that you want to fall right into them, and feel you are already partway there. Of course, the best are when these two work in harmony with each other to create something extraordinary.

Imagine a day is like that. It plays with your mind in the best possible ways. You see, it relies heavily on optical illusions to give a depth of meaning the words or pictures alone cannot convey. Standing by themselves they do not have nearly the impact when they are next to each other.

Here, I'll show you.

Imagine a day...
...when you can dive
down through branches
or swim up
to the sun.

Imagine a day...
... when you forget
how to fall.

The words are poetry (I am willing to argue most picture books are) and paired with the illustrations (created before the text, mind you) they offer something of a paradigm shift, like seeing the world in a different way. It is a perfect pick-me-up or anytime read. There are two others in this series at least, Imagine a Night and Imagine a Place, though I must admit I do love Places last. This is a really fun and beautiful book and one I don't mind coming back to frequently.

The Final Word:

Words and pictures combine to make something utterly wonderful. I daresay it is synergy at work here. :)

Monday's Muse, 50th edition.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Laiska by Värttinä [Nordic Roots 3] (Seriously. This came on my shuffle. Couldn't have turned up at a more perfect time. It made me grin from ear to ear. Yes, I am a nerd and oh so proud of it). :)

The idea of Monday's Muse is to introduce you to unknown, forgotten, or overlooked fiction that has been lost from regular radar. I am WriterGirl. I am in the business of saving lives, one book at a time.

What I do is go to one of several places, narrow it down to a YA field and type in a random word, any word that comes to mind. I then take a sampling of some I have never heard of before, or only vaguely heard of (and hopefully you as well). No infringement is intended for any description I take for the books. It's purely for promotional reasons. I will try and cover as many genres as possible that are fitting for the random word. Simple but it really uncovers some incredible gems. I will be doing this every other Monday. If there are any words you want to prompt me with, go ahead and fire away.

Today's random word:
Mythology - Norse.

Icefall by Matthew Kirby.

The king's three children and a small group of warrior-protectors take refuge in a winter-bound steading on a northern fjord and discover there's a traitor in their midst.Beautiful Asa, the eldest princess, faces an arranged marriage, although she loves another. Harald, the youngest, will one day be king. But the narrator, middle daughter Solveig, is neither attractive nor particularly useful, until she begins to realize she has talent as a storyteller and could have a future as a skald, or court bard. As food runs low and bitter winter tightens its hold, someone in the group begins to sabotage the remaining supplies, and Solveig has a dream that foretells a tragic end to their efforts to survive. Interesting, well-developed characters abound, and Solveig's strong narrative voice adds authenticity as she grows into her new role, not just telling stories of the mythical Scandinavian past but creating tales to alter the behavior of those around her. Valid clues and occasional red herrings heighten the sense of mystery. The chilly, claustrophobic, ancient setting is vividly created, and the sense of impending doom generates a gripping suspense overarching the developing—and deteriorating—relationships among the group, marking Kirby (The Clockwork Three, 2010) as a strong emerging novelist.Recommend this one to teens who crave a good mystery set in an icily different time and place. --Kirkus.

The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun by J. R. R. Tolkien.

The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún is a previously unpublished work by J.R.R. Tolkien, written while Tolkien was Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford during the 1920s and 1930s, before he wrote The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. It makes available for the first time Tolkien’s extensive retelling in English narrative verse of the epic Norse tales of Sigurd the Völsung and The Fall of the Niflungs. It includes an introduction by J.R.R. Tolkien, drawn from one of his own lectures on Norse literature, with commentary and notes on the poems by Christopher Tolkien.

The Sea of Trolls (trilogy) by Nancy Farmer.

Jack was eleven when the berserkers loomed out of the fog and nabbed him. "It seems that things are stirring across the water," the Bard had warned. "Ships are being built, swords are being forged."

"Is that bad?" Jack had asked, for his Saxon village had never before seen berserkers.

"Of course. People don't make ships and swords unless they intend to use them."

The year is A.D. 793. In the next months, Jack and his little sister, Lucy, are enslaved by Olaf One-Brow and his fierce young shipmate, Thorgil. With a crow named Bold Heart for mysterious company, they are swept up into an adventure-quest that follows in the spirit of The Lord of the Rings.

Other threats include a willful mother Dragon, a giant spider, and a troll-boar with a surprising personality — to say nothing of Ivar the Boneless and his wife, Queen Frith, a shape-shifting half-troll, and several eight foot tall, orange-haired, full-time trolls. But in stories by award-winner Nancy Farmer, appearances do deceive. She has never told a richer, funnier tale, nor offered more timeless encouragement to young seekers than "Just say no to pillaging."

Runemarks by Joanne Harris.

The Lightning Thief meets The Sea of Trolls in this well-executed, if rather plodding children's debut by the author of the adult novel, Chocolat. In a world where the intolerant "Order" has deemed the old Norse myths as blasphemous, village misfit Maddy Smith discovers she is the daughter of the Norse god Thor. Guided by Loki and advised by Odin, Maddy travels to the "World Below" to try and thwart the prophesied war between the old gods and the new. The heroes win the day, but at least one villain escapes, hinting at a sequel. Unfortunately, Harris's determination to include just about every Norse god in her narrative brings Maddy's quest to a standstill at times. Some youngsters not well-versed in Odin's family tree may find the discussion of the gods' past grudges confusing, while others will be inspired to dig out their old copy of D'Aulaires' Norse Gods and Giants to refresh their memories of the Vanir and Aesir. A mini-course in Norse mythology for the tween set. --Kirkus.

The Raven's Ring Pin by John Anacker.

Fifteen-year-old Samuel has just moved with his parents to Yellowstone's Geyser Inn for the winter. Samuel has no friends, his on-line classes are too easy, and the TV has only one channel. Life basically stinks until one snowbound day when he decides to explore the creaky old attic. There he finds a ring pin engraved with weird symbols. A strange voice commands Samuel to drop the pin, and the adventure begins.

The ring pin has mysterious powers that allow Samuel to communicate with Rag and Thokk, the ravens that live in the attic. The ring also has the power to transport the trio to the perilous and magical world of the Nordic gods. Suddenly, the three find themselves in the midst of a battle among the most powerful gods of the Norse pantheon-Thor, the thunder god; Aegir, the sea god; and Loki, the trickster. But the ring pin can't-or won't-bring them home again.

Samuel is drawn into the timeless conflicts of the gods as he searches for Thor's magical hammer Mjollnir, and eventually must answer a challenge that will determine the fate of the gods themselves.

Sheild of Odin (trilogy) by Jim Jennewein.

It's easy to see that this was written by two Hollywood screenwriters—readers can almost watch the CGI effects unfolding as they go. When the local Viking overlord kills Dane's father and abducts a childhood friend, he and some neighbors set off on a quest for rescue and revenge that catapults an ill-matched crew into hideous perils and hilarious misadventures. A rollicking page-turner with definite appeal, the book falls short in its historical details, taking liberties with Viking life: Anachronistic language abounds, as do 21st-century concepts, ambitions and family relations. Nonetheless, the plot—of the classic "good commoners vs. evil-lord-with-grandiose-ambitions" variety—churns consistently on, hurtling from disaster to cliffhanger to a climactic deus ex machina resolution. Characterization is not the point; with the exception of Dane and his friend-turned-love interest Astrid, the good guys are all pretty obvious caricatures, while the villains are there to drive the plot. Although it can be overly detailed at times, boys especially will enjoy the pell-mell action, the wisenheimer narration and the belch-and-flatulence humor embedded in the adventurous tale. --Kirkus.

Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman.

In this simple but well-done tale, Newbery Medal–winner Gaiman (The Graveyard Book ) introduces Odd, a boy with an injured leg whose Viking father died at sea. Odd befriends the Norse gods Odin, Thor and Loki, who have been transformed into animals and exiled from Asgard. The gods, having previously tricked and bested the Frost Giants, are now receiving some of their own medicine. Showing great ingenuity, Odd figures out how to reach Asgard and then convinces the Frost Giant that ruling Asgard isn't so great (after all, admits the giant, his prize, the beautiful goddess Freya, “only comes up to the top of my foot. She shouts louder than a giantess when she's angry. And she's always angry”). The gods and the giant, though powerful, come across as self-involved and vaguely simpleminded, clearly in need of a resourceful young fellow like Odd to help set things straight. Although less original than Coraline or The Wolves in the Walls , this enjoyable story should appeal to Gaiman's younger fans. --Publisher's Weekly.

Ragnarok: the end of the gods by A. S. Byatt.

It is apt that Booker Prize–winning English writer Byatt chooses to locate her reimagining of the Norse myth Asgard and the Gods, which describes the destruction of the world, during that most apocalyptic of times in British history, the blitz. The little girl at the center of the story, whom we know only as “the thin child,” has been evacuated, with her mother, from London to the idyllic countryside. Her father is a fighter pilot who’s “in the air, in the war, in Africa, in Greece, in Rome, in a world that only exist in books.” The thin child goes to church and reads Pilgrim’s Progress, but finds the concept of “gentle Jesus” naïve and untenable in the face of war. Asgard and the Gods, on the other hand, provides, if not a more believable narrative, one that at least reflects the world she lives in: “It was a good story, a story with meaning, fear and danger were in it, and things out of control.” The only question that nags at her is how “the good and wise Germans” who wrote it can be the same people bringing terror to the skies over her head at night. Told in lush prose, describing vividly drawn gods and their worlds, this is a book that brings the reader double pleasure; we return to the feeling of reading—or being read—childhood myths, but Byatt (Possession) also invites us to grapple with very grown-up intellectual questions as well. A highly unusual and deeply absorbing book.

Search for Senna (Everworld series) by Katherine Applegate.

With a seemingly boundless capacity for imagination and humor, the author of the Animorphs series takes older readers on a journey to a bizarre world, where elements of the past coexist with the fantastical, in this first volume of the Everworld series. After his mysterious girlfriend, Senna, is dragged underwater by a gigantic wolflike creature that rises from a lake, David and three other high school students are swept into the peculiar and frightening universe of Everworld. Applegate conjures a thrilling land inhabited by trolls, a gigantic snake "the size of a derailed Amtrak," evil winged creatures called Hetwan, unicorns and a colony of crude Vikings. Taken as prisoners to the court of Loki, the Norse god of destruction, the quartet again encounters the supernatural wolf--but it seems that Senna has disappeared. When they fall asleep and find themselves back in the "real world," the four realize that Everworld is a parallel universe, and they are existing simultaneously in both places. As the book closes, narrator David and his friends have joined the ranks of the Vikings in battle against the army of the Aztec god Huitzilopoctli. Loki's treacherous castle is as gruesome as Huitzilopoctli's island is dazzling. With her blend of accessible story and mythological cast of characters, Applegate is sure to attract a host of new fans. Due out the same month is the series' second installment, Land of Loss. --Publisher's Weekly.

The Fetch by Chris Humphreys.

A boy is drawn into the violent past of his grandfather and Viking ancestors. Sky's not looking forward to a summer with his estranged cousin Kristin, until they find Grandfather Sigurd's runes in an old chest in the attic. Runecasting leads Sky to animal shapeshifting, dangerous haunts and visions of going a-Viking with his berserker forefather, Bjorn. Sky and Kristin run off to Norway on a mysterious quest, where they discover that Sigurd is neither so dead, nor so benevolent, as they'd originally suspected. Sky's lessons in unexpectedly potent violence lead him to some hard decisions. The cousins slog through overwritten prose (though some historical Viking scenes are brought beautifully to life with language reminiscent of Anglo-Saxon alliterative rhythms). Despite pacing, a compelling adventure that asks hard questions of its characters. --Kirkus.

Feature Fun Friday - John Green Signs Every Copy of Fault in Our Stars

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Just One by Hoobastank.

Um, pretend it's Friday. And in the next post pretend it's Monday. Except, you won't have to pretend because it actually is Monday (at least I think so). So for FFF, I'm here's a video of a made-of-awesome-author-with-a-cherry-on-top who has even less time than I have. It's John Green, signing all of his The Fault in Our Stars.

Who Loves Howl's Moving Castle and Wants to Help Me? :)

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Dog Days Are Over by Florence + the Machine.

Hi guys! This is an insanely quick post because if you couldn't guess from yesterday's post, I've been a bit busy and more than a bit out of it. So here's the scoop. I love Howl's Moving Castle. Lovelovelove. And with the recent torture fun of making Turkish Delight, I got some very cool requests for recipe invention that I want to try out. One of them was for Howl's Moving Castle. My face inside kinda went like this - O.o "Why didn't I think of that?!"

So I started rereading it (yes, you had to twist my arm). But again to the above - super busy - I only got halfway through. So my plea to any HMC lovers out there. Do you know of any food specifically mentioned in the book? I got to the part just after she starts cleaning the bathroom (yes, you know where that scene leads *wicked grin*) and I found mention of bacon and eggs (Calcifer eats the shells. Miyazaki got that one right on the money) and Martha at the bakery. Cream cakes were the only thing mentioned specifically by name. Are there any others?



Alright. Hope to hear your suggestions. If not, I'll get to it! Sometime...

*glances at calander*


*thinks brave thoughts*

That's better. :)

Writing for Charity and something more...

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Home by the Goo Goo Dolls.

Eeep! How on earth did half the week pass me by? This is insane. Really, I could swear it was Monday. Tueday at the latest if I thought you were crazy. But no worries, I have STUFFS to show you.

It seems I am on a writing conference kick lately (and I know many of you are writers out there, but to my straight readers head straight to the bottom of the post).

Now there is a writing conference - again in Utah - that I absolutely adore. The genesis for this extraordinary idea came from Shannon Hale way back in 2008. She made a goal for herself to try and use her writing to help raise money for causes she was passionate about. Thus Writing for Charity was born. You can read her entire, and sincerely heartfelt blog post here.

What I love about about Writing for Charity is that 100% of the proceeds go to the cause picked for that year (after location fee). The first year, Shannon picked The Wheelchair Project - which donates new wheelchairs to people who need them in third world countries. This year they are working with the Children Literature Association of Utah to help give books to children in hospitals and shelters for children in crisis.

Why books? Because, as authors, we believe in the therapeutic power of books to transport children from the “here and now” to a place where anything is possible

They are also working with the Future Light Orphanage in Cambodia to distribute books and school supplies to the more desperate regions of their country.

I believe in doing good and helping people. I would love nothing more than to do this in every capacity I can when I am fulltime, published author. I believe in the power of a person and the effect a simple act can have in another's life.

I'm definitely going (if you couldn't guess). Besides the awesome break out sessions over twenty authors are offering to read the first page of any manuscript and offer a critique on it. Names like Shannon Hale (Goose Girl series), Bree Despain (The Dark Divine trilogy), Brodi Ashton (Everneath trilogy), Dean Hale (Rapunzel's Revenge/Scapegoat) Mette Ivie Harrison (The Princess and the Hound trilogy/Tris and Izzie), Brandon Sanderson (yes, him. Mistborn and finisher of the Wheel of Time series), Matthew Kirby (Clockwork Three/Icefall), Jennifer Neilson (The False Prince), and so many more I can't even list them now. And there is lunch. And a book signing after. And a silent auction with things I would give my right hand for. Heck, I would pay $45 just to get into the signing and auction.

Yes, that's right. Only $45 for the whole thing. It is the cheapest conference you will ever get into. You can show up the day of the conference, but people who pre-register get priority of which author they want to read their work.

It's this Saturday (I know, I know. Forgive me!). I'll make sure to announce early next year to give everyone as much time as possible. Because this is a super awesome thing.

But now for you readers. You readers who stuck it out to the end - here we are. Because today is also a very important day. Today is March 14. DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS? It's PI DAY! Get it? 3.14? :D I am a super nerd. I am not ashamed in the least. I am going to eat a pie today (it's traditional. Seriously, go ask anyone who celebrates Pi Day). I almost want to buy this just so I can make my own pie and have my own geekiness be utterly complete.

I've also discovered there is a Nutella Pie in the world. I will not stop until I have one of my very own.

And in honor of Pi Day, I have a video for you, one of my favorites. It's from a place called Legendary Lily Pad, and apparently I'm not the only one who knew and loved this place to death according to all the youtube comments I found. It follows the adventures of Ark and Kerrigan, my two favorite green people on the planet. ^_^ (He also has some hilarious other videos, completely worth checking out). This one is called All Your Pie. That's all I will say. Happy Pi Day! :D

(note, the embedded video is a lot fuzzier than the real thing. If you click the Legendary Lily Pad link, and have flash enabled, just search for the All Your Pie link to watch it in all its gloriousness).

Feature Fun Friday - Behind the Scenes. How an Audiobook is Made

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): All for You by Sister Hazel.

Listening to a really good audiobook is one of my favorite things to do in the world. But the world of audiobooks is a bit mysterious to me. So here I've found a little gem of a video that cracks that nut a little wider. It's a fascinating look. It was especially interesting to see how they would correct a line or that they have a "script" to follow and a director guiding them. Really cool stuff. Have a fantastic weekend, everyone!

A YA/MG Writing Conference You May Not Know About.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Hoppipolla by Wenzel Templeton and Robert Pegg [Penelope soundtrack].

This is for all my writer friends and followers out there. There is a fantastic writing conference you may not be aware of. It's called Writing and Illustrating For Young Readers (WIFYR). Also - their twitter handle.

It takes place here in Utah every year and is an incredible opportunity if you have the chance to go. It has hosted the likes of Stephenie Meyer, ** and other such big wigs. This year has none other than Tim Wynne Jones, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Greg Leitich Smith, Matt Kirby, Mette Ivie Harrison and at least half a dozen other top-notch authors. And that doesn't even include the agents and editors going. Yes, there are real, live agents and editors in attendance. It is a great opportunity not only to mingle with other professionals and learn a ton, but to also network and put yourself and your work out there. I personally know people who have found agents/book deals from this conference.

Registration is open and for a week-long conference, it really is not a bad price at all. And their are tiers for any budget. There you go. I love spreading the word about good things! ^_^

Review: Chime by Franny Billingsley

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Sarah by Trevor Rabin [Labyrinth soundtrack].

My reviews are a bit different than most. As an undercover superhero (ordinary girl extraordinaire), my purpose is to try and uncover hidden gems lost from the familiar radar. Because of this, I have set up some guidelines for myself (just like the pirate code). :)

I will focus on YA and Children's literature (with very rare exceptions).
I will not review any book that is one of the top 25,000 bestselling books (based on Amazon ranks).
I will try and aim for books 100,000 or larger.
I will review recent books or books of great merit (preferably both).

Chime by Franny Billingsley
Published: March 17, 2011
Publisher: Dial
Pages: 368
Current Amazon Rank: #58,833

Author's Website: Franny Billingsley
Want it? Find it here.

The First Line:

I've confessed to everything and I'd like to be hanged. Now, if you please.

My Take:

Chime is one of those special sort of books. The kind that gets under your skin and has a good burrow for a while. And if you stop to think about it long after you've read it, that feeling will bubble to the surface and with it a sort of longing to experience it again.

Now understand me, this can be one of those polarizing books. You will likely love it or hate it. I fall firmly in the love category. The language is beautiful but the repetition and use of words in how Briony experiences her world can be either off-putting or immersive. Her self-convinced behavior that she is evil and wicked, firmly setting her up as an unreliable narrator can have some readers throwing their arms up in the air in frustration or curious to find out the real reason for her self-hatred. I feel that frustration with some reads, but for me, I loved this one.

Briony is a twin (love) and has strong reasons to believe she is a witch. After all, bad things happen whenever she lets her emotions get the best of her. That's what happened to her sister, Rose. And her stepmother. But everything is turned upside down when a young man with a lion's smile and a delightful laugh comes to Swampsea. I quickly felt very little was what it appeared to be. It is not a mystery, but it is mysterious. And the atmosphere sucks you in. I also loved the secrets had to do with Briony herself and not coming from the advent of the "mysterious stranger." No, he is just the catalyst that sets events in motion. :)

This was a wonderful read with a wholly unique setting. I can list on my fingers how many stories I've read that take place in a swamp. I loved it. I really enjoyed the fact that Briony is not a perfect little heroine. She has many faults, but to me they only served to make her realistic, complex, and three-dimensional. For example, I loved that fact that she wants to learn how to box. Eldric is a fantastic love interest and such a refreshing change from the brooding types filling so many YA stories today (not to mention narry a love triangle in sight). Unique and absorbing, this was a treasure to read all around.

The Final Word:

An alternate history/fantasy with a fantastic heroine, this is a special read. I recommend this one easily and frequently. If you pick this up, you are in for a treat.

Feature Fun Friday - And the Academy Award Goes to...

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): California by Mindy Gledhill.

Books. Flying books. Need I say more? After winning this year for the best animated short, what else could I possibly pick for this week? (I was going to pick it anyway, but now is a most opportune time). The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.