Crazy Moon by Lucia Greene. Illustrated by Shannon Sands. Book Review.

This is the second book I have reviewed by Lucia Greene. Her five star review for A Tunnel in the Pines is available here. https://bferrante.wordpress.com/2016/10/03/a-tunnel-in-the-pines-by-lucia-greene-book-review/

This book is written in the same easy-to-engage style. However, it is less intense and suspenseful than A Tunnel.

Madison goes to summer camp for the first time. Her cabin has a mixture of girls, nice, shy, bully, and bystander. I expected Madison to be an advocate for respect among the girls but she is preoccupied with her own experiences. When Nancy, the ostracized girl runs away, I expected a connection to the title of the book “crazy moon.” This refers to aggressive behavior of animals in breeding mode. There are tales, in my northern community, of hikers and campers attacked relentlessly by moose in heat. But Nancy spent the night safe and sound in a tiny pine hideaway.

I thought the counselor would intervene and have the girls discuss and work on the group dynamics at several points in the book, but there was no real resolution. Madison’s take away from all this was to advise Nancy not to take things so seriously.

This could have been a book on personal and social growth wherein the reader gained perspective and empathy for the bullied girl and some strategies for dealing with put downs and other anti-social remarks. This could have been, like A Tunnel in the Pines, a nail-biting emotional roller-coaster ride for the reader. It was an enjoyable read but not of  the truly high-caliber of Greene’s first book. It will appeal to girls who love riding as Madison falls for Mouse, one of the camp horses. That, too, could have been a theme to expand upon. Why is this horse so afraid? What happens to them when they no longer can be ridden.

While I love Greene’s writing style, I think this particular book had some unfulfilled potential.

 

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Recycled Sundays – Where Is That Lego?

Having a normal Canadian son, I’ve had my share of trips to the emergency room. Mercifully, though, they’ve usually turned out to be less serious than at first panic. The case of the missing Lego is a good example.

Set the scene: Mother is shampooing her hair in the shower, little boy comes into the bathroom. Mother responds with a five minute lecture on the ill matters of interrupting, respect for privacy, mother’s deserve some peace and quiet, I can’t hardly hear you with the water running, you’re only supposed to come in here if you’re bleeding or the house is on fire.

“So,” she finishes grandly. “Are you bleeding?”

The child shakes his head no. His eyes look teary.

“Is the house on fire?”

“No,” he whispers,  “I have a Lego stuck in my throat.”

Since he was breathing and had survived my ridiculous lecture without turning blue, I took the time to rinse most of the shampoo out of my hair and get dressed. After all it was 28 below celsius outside.

It seems my son was trying to pry a part two small Legos with his teeth. (yes, we bought the official Lego separating tool. Two in fact. Fortunately, we did not buy the official separating tool finder.)

This was not our first trip to the emergency room (other stories involving bodily fluids which I will probably spare you). Being experienced in waiting area zombie -land, you can imagine my surprise when we were ushered right into an examining room. The doctor actually ignored the man with a missing ear and a teenager receiving oxygen to serve us. I really started to worry.

They poked and prodded. Nothing there. They listened to him breathe, in and out, in and out,. Nothing there. They shone lights in, on and around. Nothing there. They xrayed his stomach and even his nasal passages (has happened). Nothing there. I really, really started to worry.

“Tell me exactly what you did,” said the doctor.

My son describe how, while tryingto bite apart two double pegged lego pieces, one became lodged in his throat. He couldn’t breathe and he couldn’t spit it up. I felt the color drain from my face as I imagine myself blissfully shampooing my hair while he faced a life-and-death struggle with a building block.

“I ran to the stairs,” he continued, “I coughed and and then I could breathe. I told Mommy. I could feel it in my throat before but I can’t now.”

As the hours dragged by, my son felt better and better. The of medical personnel had begun shrugging their shoulders.  My son wanted to go home.

“Well,”  said Dr. Sherlock, “the only place left to look is at home.”

Which we did. On the bottom step, was a block that fit the one described by my son. He must have coughed it up as he was running to me. The combination of panic and the scratched throat convinced him it was still there. We also found a quarter and a missing earring. He kept the quarter. I kept the earring.

He certainly learned his lesson, I thought. He’ll never stick a Lego in his mouth again. I didn’t warn him about Thanksgiving.

At school, he was making a turkey mosaic with buttons and such. He couldn’t do much with the such, but the buttons were just the right size.

“I saw Logan at the principal’s office today,” my daughter informed me.

Whereupon I launched into a lecture on how he was supposed to stop rough-housing and getting into trouble and I couldn’t believe my own son would have to be sent to the principal’s office twice in his life. Talk about not learning from your mistakes.

“But Mom, I had a button up my nose!”

The principal, thankfully, had experience. It seems his own daughter was a nose packer.

“Don’t worry, Mom, the principal got it out,” said my son when I gasped. “It shot right across the room and smacked into his filing cabinet with a ding sound.|”

“What did you do then?” I asked, expecting a tale of his humble gratitude.

He shrugged. “I washed it off and glued it on my turkey.”

 

First published in the Chronicle-Journal/Times News

Sunday, January 12, 1992

Julia Unbound by Catherine Egan. Book Review.

I won this book in a giveaway and didn’t realize until I received it that it was part three in a series. There was a lot of backstory that I had to figure out which made it difficult to connect with the main character. I suspect I would have enjoyed it a lot more if I had read the first two books.

The writer provides extensive detail into both the landscape and the history encompassing this novel. Her world-building is complex  and rich. Thankfully there is a detailed map and the city and a list of the thirty-nine terms and characters introduced in this book. Again, someone who had read the first books would probably be familiar with most of these.

The major premise of the story focuses on Julia who, in order to save her brother, has agreed to allow a parasite to slowly infect her body and take over her brain. She has only a short time to defeat her enemy, remove a sabotaged bomb from her brother’s chest, and pull out her parasite before it  takes over her mind. She has a watchdog reporting back all her movements to her enemy and must secretly fight against him or her brother will be killed even sooner.

Julia becomes embroiled in a fight for the throne involving witches  and other powerful beings. To complicate matters, she develops a fondness for the rightful heir while being forced to support a false claim. But Julia has  a special magical skill of her own which gives her a chance to navigate through the complex and deceptive political forays.

Perhaps because the story was so detailed and I had not read the first books, I found it difficult to connect with Julia and took quite a long time to finish the novel and tackle this review. Your experience, especially if you read the first two in the series, may be different. Eden is an excellent plotter and world builder. If you enjoy complex fantasies, this series is worth looking into.

 

 

Beware That Girl by Teresa Toten. Book Review.

Teresa Toten is the author of a remarkable book I have previously reviewed, The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B. This novel is quite different in style and substance.

Toten certainly  knows how to use plot twist in creative ways. The book veered off into unpredictable situations that built the tension of  this psychological  thriller exponentially. The first third of the book was rather slow but the last third was riveting.

Toten reveals just enough about the two main characters, Olivia and Kate, to build our curiosity and suspense as the story progresses. These girls are in their senior year and aiming for Yale University. We know that something has happened to both these girls to damage them deeply in different ways. We know that they are both keeping secrets. We know that they are both afraid. We know that something isn’t quiet right with the handsome Mr. Mark Redkin who takes an interest in them.

The author cleverly reveals snippets of Kate’s life that makes us question whether she is the hero or the villain in this drama. She uses people. Does she care for them at all? The answer is as complex as the plot itself.

My major criticism of this book would be that the dialogue clunks in places and seems artificial and flat at times. As well, there are moments when the point of view is muddied. Although this is a suspense novel, character plays a major role and believable dialogue is essential. The two brilliant girls did made some very stupid choices.

Although it doesn’t have the genius of 13B, I think this would make a great suspense movie with the right script writer and director. All in all, it was a very enjoyable read.

 

How to Help a Child Remember an Address

 

The best tool I’ve ever used for helping a child memorise is rhyme and rhythm. My little granddaughter had difficulty learning her address so I made a response rhyme. You’ll have to go to the video to hear the tune.

Adult: What’s the number on your door?

Child: The number is blank blank four.

Adult: What’s the street where you’re alive?

Child: The street is called blank blank Drive.

Use a familiar tune or one you make up. If you can’t make a rhyme, leave a comment and I’ll do my best to help you out.

Midnight Fairy Craft & Party Book by Tracy Marsh. Book Review.

This book has more ideas than you will ever possibly use for a party. There are chapters on making dolls, wands, books, wish boxes, and even fairy wings. Marsh gives details on preparing for the party, sending out invitations, food, cake, tablecloths and napkins, and even place cards. There is a whole section on games and activities most quite physically active.

Some of the creations require a great deal of effort and some are fairly simple. Many of them are quite beautiful and worthy of becoming a permanent keepsake.

Of course you can simplify everything and change things to suit your energy level, income, and needs. I used it as inspiration for a fairy night with my five-year-old granddaughter who was sleeping over. Here are some of the decorations we did using materials we already had and a few things from the dollar store.

Any physical activities outside were out of the question since we were experiencing a heat wave and it was excruciating hot at 9 pm. Instead we played table and word games with fairy themes such as “A fairy took from my house.”  We did two rounds of took and two of left.

Our fairy door in the garden was too damp so we put one on the deck.

To see our decorations, games etc. check out this short video.

How to Draw and Paint Fairyland: a Step-by-step Guide for Creating a World of Fairies by Linda Ravenscroft. Book Review.

This book is chock full of ideas for the beginner painter and the more advanced. It begins with details on different medium and techniques you might use to create your fairyland. It teaches you how to transfer a picture using a grid and how colors work together. It helps you decide what season and what weather your picture will have. There is a short but very helpful section on using color to create mood.

The book contains ideas on keeping a sketchbook, finding inspiration, composition, viewpoint and more. For those who are beginning artists, there are actual pictures that can be copied directly. You can duplicate an entire mural or take ideas from different pages. There are classical creatures from Shakespeare as well as moon, water, tree, and grove fairies.

There is excellent information on painting foliage and flowers. Like me, you may choose to take the fairies and give them your own twist. I created a background using some flowers presented in the book and my own ideas. Here is what I came up with.

BUY link http://a.co/i5q4KtX