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It occurred to me after reading a book recently that I would likely be put into Hufflepuff were I a Hogwarts student. (I would hope that it would be a struggle between that and Ravenclaw, though.) The book made me realize just how much I value loyalty, especially as a good number of the characters seemed to have no sense of loyalty whatsoever regarding their relationships with the people closest to them. (This is something I've seen in various adult books, even though this wasn't marketed as one. It's also one of the elements I dislike about adult books.) It doesn't particularly matter what kind of relationship it is--if it is important, I think there should be loyalty and confidence between people. It's hard for me to like characters who feel no sense of loyalty to each other.

With regards to books I liked that I've read recently, however, I read Sara Zarr's Once Was Lost today. It's the first book I've read by her, and I was impressed. Contemporary fiction isn't really my thing, but every now and again I pick one up and like it. I thought Sara did a great job balancing the different plot threads--and they could have easily been unbalanced in less-skilled hands--and I thought she did an excellent job with the whole personal faith thread. So often that fails--either because writers think it's an interesting character quirk to check off on a list (esp. in historical fiction) without truly understanding the vulnerable miracle that faith is--or they go totally overboard and it becomes didactic, apologetic, and bumper sticker art. (Not to say I don't like me a good bumper sticker...but you know what I mean.) Anyway. I thought Sara handled this really well--in part because she let her character fall and fail and be vulnerable and imperfect, and in part because she was very character-specific once Sam finally figured some things out. So kudos there.

If you like novels in verse, you may enjoy Lisa Schroeder's Far From You, about a girl stuck in a snowstorm with the stepmother she hasn't ever really accepted, and her newborn baby sister. I have no idea if all verse novels are like this, but if so, I'll have to read some more!

And now for some I'm looking forward to reading that aren't out yet:

Magic Under Glass, by Jackie Dolamore--out December 2009. Um, okay, so I read this in critique before it was sold, but the US and UK covers are both so lovely that I want to read it again. If you like historical fantasy (Victorian era) you should read this. Jackie also writes very well about friends and food, and if you add magic and suspense, what could be better?
Shadow, by Jenny Moss (author of Winnie's War)--out in January 2010, I think? I don't know much about it except that it is a tween fantasy, and after reading Winnie's War I'm looking forward to more by Jenny.
Everlasting, by Angie Frazier--out in spring/summer 2010. Angie's writing gives you the immediate sense that you are in very good hands, plus the summary for this one sounds just fabulous. (19th century sea voyage/Australia/mystery/fantasy/romance)
Touch Blue, by Cynthia Lord--I don't remember when this is out, but Rules was pitch-perfect, and I'm looking forward to more.
Calamity Jack, Shannon and Dean Hale with Nathan-Hale-no-relation--out in January 2010. Sequel to Rapunzel's Revenge.
Eighth Grade Superzero, by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich--out in January 2010.
The Healing Spell, by Kimberly Little--July 2010
Princess for Hire, by Lindsey Leavitt--March 2010
Brightly Woven, Alexandra Bracken--March 2010
The Dark Divine, by Bree Despain--December 2009
Wayfarer, RJ Anderson--April 27, 2009
A Conspiracy of Kings, Megan Whalen Turner--April 2010
Scumble, Ingrid Law--August 24, 2010
Reckless, Cornelia Funke--September 14, 2010
The Red Pyramid, Rick Riordan--May 4, 2010
The Last Summer of the Death Warriors, Francisco X. Stork--March 2010

Currently I have the following books on hold at the library. I hope they're good!

Front and Center, by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Stitches, by David Small
The Islands of the Blessed, by Nancy Farmer
Give Up the Ghost, by Megan Crewe
Prada and Prejudice, by Amanda Hubbard
Hush, Hush, by Becca Fitzpatrick
The Maze Runner, by James Dashner

And I'll add these once the library orders them:

A Conspiracy of Kings, by Megan Whalen Turner--the next Gen book! March 2010
The Time Quake, by Linda Buckley-Archer

So, there's your reading advertisement for the day!


Jun. 6th, 2009 02:11 pm
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Recently read and liked:

It's about a girl whose bad-boy brother died in a car accident, and how (against her parents' wishes) she becomes friends with the guy who was in the car with him when he died, and how she gets her family to start to come alive again. And there's art. I’d like to write something with the kind of weight this book carries, only set in a fantasy world full of interesting plot twists as well (I have been moved by specific contemporary books, but everything I write has a fantasy element somehow.)

What I would really, really like to read:

What are you looking forward to?

olmue: (Default)
...that I exercised great restraint at the bookstore today and only bought the book I went in for (that was for someone else) instead of emptying my entire wallet on the counter and making off with any number of books I've been looking forward to.

On the other hand, I'm still mad that B&N isn't carrying this

so maybe the day my resolve breaks, I'll just spend my money somewhere else instead.

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I ran into a copy of The Mysterious Benedict Society at the library the other day and, having heard good things about it (but not what it's about), I checked it out. I still haven't read it, but my oldest read the entire thing (in German) today. It's like 400-500 pages long? He says it's good. Must be; he's far less likely to do that with a book in German than with a book in English.

Oh, and while doing research for something else, I found that there's a new Stravaganza book out! Stravaganza: City of Strangers, by Mary Hoffman. I love these books; they are a great mix of mystery, time travel, and alternate universeness. I'm looking forward to this one, although my new library doesn't own it, so I might be er, forced to buy it once we get to the States.

Now that we have an address I was able to look up the school our kids will go to. Being summer vacation, no one was in the office, but I did find a bit of info for people moving in. It looks like there's not a lot you can do beforehand because they want all these documents you can't get until you're really there. (Like the proof of residency--I guess you can bring in a copy of your lease, though.) Anyway, they also really want but don't require a "request for student records form" from your previous school. Sorry, there is no way a German institution will respond to that! But we can certainly bring in report cards (in German). I did send an e-mail saying we'd be showing up, and a week late. Just so they know that three more kids are coming and can think of where to put them.

The sad thing about moving is that the curriculum doesn't usually match. Not stuff like when you study local history, etc., but when you start music classes, if there is a chess club, what sports are available to what grades, etc. I've got a kid who is completely ready for band, and it looks like it doesn't start for another TWO YEARS. He'd also like to play chess. Not available at this school. Stuff like that. I'm sure there will be other things to entertain him, but I'm a little sad on the music. He's really made huge progress with the recorder and sounds quite good.

I still can't find any kind of classes whatsoever for three-year-olds. Hopefully library story hour will be enough.
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What do you do when you're percolating ideas? What helps you when you need to let it sit for a while to work out the details in your revision?

I'm getting closer to the end of this round of revision--I have to do it in layers because I can't hold it all in my head at once. This is the plot/protagging layer. I'm alarmed because the ms is growing, not shrinking, but DH says not to worry, just worry about the story first. I can go back and tinker afterwards. I'm sure he's right. I just need to stop checking my word count. Anyhow, I'm at the point where the focus of my story has shifted enough that I'm left with several lovely chapters that don't quite fit anymore. There are bits from them that I still need, but I don't know where to fit them, and of course it's sad to cut stuff that was working before. (Don't worry--it won't keep me from cutting. I wish there was MORE I knew I could chop, actually.) Plot is hard, you know? Especially with a mystery. You're so concerned about discovering the backstory that it's hard to get the right balance with the frontstory. Anyway, I've got to pinpoint one more way that my MC can get what she wants that succeeds where her previous attempts have failed, so she can throw it to make the harder, but right-er choice in the end. And I've got to figure out what to do with these intervening chapters. I know I should back off and let it gel for a bit, but I'm also feeling the time pressure of our dwindling stay here, the moving pressure, etc. I'm excited to read about so many LJers who are coming to the end of their revisions. I wish I was among them!! Some day.

On hold at the library:

The second book in Guillaume Prevost's Book of Time series. The first one wasn't one I'd study for help in protagging. I'm interested in the second one, but I don't think I'll be buying it at the moment. Still, it was sufficiently entertaining to try the second.

The Golden Compass film. I'm hoping that some of the extreme messagey-ness gets edited out by Hollywood.

The first Percy Jackson in German, for son's book presentation at school.

What I want to read but what will have to wait:

Sarah Prineas's Magic Thief
Stephenie Meyer's Breaking Dawn (these two I will read before I leave here, though!)
Ingrid Law's Savvy
Elizabeth Gilbert Murdock's Off Season and Princess Ben
Jessica Day George's books that have all come out since I've been gone
Shannon Hale's Austenland
Linda Urban's A Crooked Kind of Perfect
all of the Newbery and Caldecott awards from this year (I have the Caldecott winner, but have missed all the others)
and several books by LJ friends that aren't even out yet. Waa.
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I wish I had books. In English.

It's a chocolate chip cookie evening with kids playing and doing a reading program on the computer (daughter 1 has to learn to read in English--or at least learn her alphabet--by next school year, and she can't learn from us because there's too much German interference). What I have to do is excavate the living room after a cold day of kids playing inside. And then I have to stuff them in the bathtub and make them get cleaner than they want. And then I have to do the worst, make them go to bed. But it would be better if we all had a good book. Especially if it didn't involve slogging through a second language.

I know, the more I read in German, the more natural it will become. But I'm not there yet. Besides, I have a long list of books I want to read, and I don't have access to any of them. A few are out. Most are not. Some I'm not sure I'll like and should probably be library reads. But I wish I had the chance to browse and find out!

A Curse Dark as Gold, Elizabeth Bunce
The Off Season, Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Bewitching Season, Marissa Doyle
The Magic Thief, Sarah Prineas
The Invention of Hugh Cabret, Brian Selznick
Thursday Next: First Among Sequels (strangely, although Germany isn't far from Britain, Germans don't know Jasper Fforde at all)
Austenland, Shannon Hale
Dragonhaven, Robin McKinley
Murkmere, Patricia Elliott
Breaking Dawn, Stephenie Meyer
The Host, Stephenie Meyer
Horns and Wrinkles, Joseph Helgerson
The Spellbook of Listen Taylor, Jaclyn Moriarty
The Swan Maiden, Heather Tomlinson
The Arrival, Shaun Tan
House of Many Ways, Diana Wynne Jones
Dragon Slippers, Jessica Day George
Princess Ben, Catherine Gilbert Murdock

It all means I have a lot to look forward to when I finally get back to the States. But in the meantime, I Need Words.
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This is another one of those days where yeah, there are words, but they're scattered over several chapters, filling them out and making things smoother. I've still got to revise what I've got (and I'm still not done with the draft) but bits of how to do that are coming together in my mind. I know what I want to do, but I'm still figuring out the how of it. But I did enough that I felt satisfied for the day and went off to work on a knitting project I'm doing. That was nice, because my fourth grader came home with knitting homework. Really. They learn to knit in school here. He's making um, worms and flowers. Well, they're supposed to be flowers, but sometimes they uh, don't go exactly right. They sure do a lot of interesting things in school here. His last project for crafts class was to make a wooden car/paper and pencil holder. As in, draw, saw, nail, sand, plane, and paint it. That was my Christmas present. Cool, huh?

Anyway, now that I'm a few centimeters further in my knitting and a few chapters past where I was this morning, I'm suddenly being hit by another wave of impatience. I want to read books!  But...not just any books. I want it to be March so I can read [profile] elizabethcbunce 's book. I want to read the rest of [personal profile] rj_anderson  's Touching Indigo, only alas, she has two more books to take care of before she can finish that one. I want to pick up the hardcover copy of [profile] fabulousfrock 's Alfred and Olivia book, and the same with [profile] robinellen 's books. So why can't the publishing industry move a little faster, please, because I am antsy!! (Really, the half-finished books are the worst because my mind keeps going back and trying to fill in the unfinished ending...)

Oh, and I guess I had a small bit of impatience satisfaction on my own end today...I was browsing the SCBWI site and saw that the latest Bulletin is up. And my article is in it! I've appeared in print without being paid, and I've been paid without actually appearing in print, but this is the first time that both of those events coincide. I feel like Mike Wisowski from Monsters, Inc.: I'm on the pages of a MAGAZINE!
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We did stay up until midnight. Well worth doing so in Germany, I must say! You know the really spectacular city firework displays you get for the 4th of July? That's what every street looks like here. The air was thick with gunsmoke and huge rockets were going off in all directions, and at 3 am people were still setting off loud launchers in the parking lot right out front. To be completely honest, I've never been sure what one is supposed to be celebrating at New Year's--Christmas is a commemoration of an event, Solstice is an observation of an astronomical fact, but Jan 1 is this rather arbitrary day--I mean, New Year's could be any day of the year, it just happens to be Jan 1. (And wasn't always. Wasn't it formerly March 25?) But I guess it's nice to watch the fireworks display and let go of whatever you were thinking about in 2007 (except, of course, for all those things that still carry over into 2008).

Now, on to something I do care about--books. :) I didn't finish as many this year, partly because of the language issue, partly because I started an awful lot and lost interest, something like what [profile] fabulousfrockwas saying. But I still did read some excellent books. My favorite, the one that made it impossible to read or write for a week afterwards, was Deathly Hallows. I really, really loved Gatty's Tale by Kevin Crossley-Holland though, too.

I did a lot of critiquing this year, too. Chapters for my on-line chapters group, plus a number of other full mss that came my way. I like how [profile] robinellencalled them "pre-published books." :) I look forward to seeing them on shelves in the future!

the first part of [personal profile] rj_anderson's Touching Indigo (please finish!)
[profile] sarah_create's Crossings
[profile] fabulousfrock's A Little Something that Sings
77 pages of my friend Emily's first YA
Destiny's View and Rise of the Wisper Sun by [profile] robinellen
Rye Parker by my crit group friend Natisha
The Stone House, a short story by [profile] angie_frazier
and I have one more full to read once my kids go back to school, by my friend AJ. I have also, of course, read a number of books already published by writing friends from the Blue Boards, and am looking forward to a number of new ones coming out in the future (like [profile] elizabethcbunce's). Congratulations to everyone who got an agent/sold a book! For those of you with tangible success, thank you for continuing to share your thoughts and friendship and making lj and Verla's rich places where people of all stages in writing can come together and talk books. For those who are still looking for an agent or pursuing a contract, good luck, and don't give up!
olmue: (Default)
...The Half-Blood Prince. And it just ENDS. And there are two more weeks to go before I can find out what happens next. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

The suspense is killing me. Just saying.


Mar. 21st, 2007 11:56 am
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Currently reading: Fette Fische (Flush) by Carl Hiassen. I find it's easier to read contemporary, realistic novels in a foreign language. The familiar context makes it easier to pick up new words. Flush starts off with an unusual setting--boy visiting his father in jail, only it's not your depressing my-family-are-losers type of book. The dad sank someone's boat because the guy was illegally dumping toilet water into the ocean, and the dad and wants to stay in jail to draw attention to this. Plus, he wants his son (the MC) to find proof. It's a quick-moving, entertaining story so far.

Waiting: Wintersmith, by Terry Pratchett. I need to make some time to find out what Tiffany Aching is up to. Also, Ich, Coriander (I, Coriander), which has such a pretty cover. Don't judge, I know, but I like the spice coriander, too. Let's hope the book is good!

On order: Things Not Seen, by Andrew Clements. Iiked this one a lot because, like Hiassen's boy protagonists, the MC has a problem, but he's also pretty optimistic on finding a solution. My 9-year-old is starving for books again, and I thought he might like this one.

To look for: Charlotte Sometimes, by Penelope Farmer, and London Calling, by Edward Bloor. Anyone read either of these? They sound good to me.

To be published: Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely, which has a German title now, and a new book by Robin McKinley (coming out in the fall).

Recommended (as in, I recommend it): Company's Coming, by Al Yorinks. Very funny picture book about Mo and Shirley and the aliens who come to dinner. Must buy a copy of this of my own!

Anyone read any good historical fantasy or contemporary fantasy lately?


Jan. 12th, 2007 07:21 pm
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The birthday party, that is. All three boys came, and after a few minutes of initial shyness, they got into it. I have to explain that Germans don’t move around much, and all of them start kindergarten at age 3, and their school classes stay together through fourth grade (after which they either go to Gymnasium—university route—or Realschule or Hauptschule, other kinds of middle/high schools, depending on how their teachers rate them in elementary school. Yup. A subject for an entire rant, that is). So you see how it’s hard to be the new kid, especially when you’re struggling with the language. Everyone already has a best friend, and while they’re friendly, they’re not really needing to fill the best friend spot by now. So we had a pair of best friends who play with my son, and another boy who he sometimes talks to on the way to and from school. I think they had a fun time, but I know my son did, which is the whole point of this exercise. I told them they were part of an expedition to colonize another planet, and had to build things with legoes that might be useful in the new colony. Then we took pictures of them and their creations, to be printed out later. Then they played hide and seek in the house (good thing I cleaned, huh?), followed by paper airplane extravaganza (made of my recycled novel drafts). Then they decorated their own mini pizzas and we had pizza and dirt cake. I met two of the parents, a Croatian mom, and a German dad. Two of the kids who came are in families of six children!! I thought we were quadruple the family size of anyone in this country, but hey, compared to some of my son’s classmates, we’re small!

Then during the party the mail came—three books that I ordered (for me) with a Christmas gift certificate. Fairest, by Gail Carson Levine, Everlost, by Neal Shusterman, and The King of Attolia, by Megan Whalen Turner. And son got The Pinhoe Egg (Diana Wynne Jones) and The Hounds of the Morrigan (er, I forget the author) for his birthday. I’ll be out of town tomorrow, but I can’t wait to dig in!
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Books I'm looking forward to reading:

Diana Wynne Jones, The Pinhoe Egg (Oct 2006). I thought the last Chrestomanci book was entertaining, but a little lightweight. I'm hoping for more on this one, since it clocks in around 500 pages.

Gail Carson Levine, Fairest. Another long book from someone I already enjoy reading.

Shannon Hale, River Secrets. I've really enjoyed her books, I was delighted when Princess Academy got a Newbery Honor (a book with a plot and characters and a good story that wasn't depressing--wow!). I'm impressed by her web site/blog (www.squeetus.com); she comes across as both friendly and professional. Plus, I'm always interested in the small collection of LDS women/moms who write for the national market.

Stephenie Meyer, New Moon. How could anyone read the first chapter of this book (www.stepheniemeyer.com) and NOT be dying to read more?? I loved Twilight and have been stalking my local bookstore for the sequel. Plus, we have the same alma mater (see end comment on above book).

Megan Whalen Turner, King of Attolia. I liked her other books, but was left wondering how Gen and Attolia would make their relationship work. I didn't see why he loved her. I hear this book addresses that very question. Of course, it took so long for my library to get it that I moved before my hold was filled. (Unfortunately, an international move isn't the time to be buying hardback.)

Andrew Clements, Things Hoped For. I loved Things Not Seen--what a creative book! The main character was very sympathetic, probably because of the limited POV.

Jasper Fforde, The Fourth Bear. I love his bizarre, literary world and can only wish for more.

Pratchett, Terry, Wintersmith (28 Sept 2006). One of the few authors for grownup that I read. I love his satire, and since I've moved to Uberwald, I have to keep up with the news.

Winspeare, Jacqueline, Messenger of Truth. I like the historical aspect of her books, and of course I keep hoping Simon will recover from his brain injury. Probably not, but he was so well-drawn in the first book that I can't help hoping he'll come back.


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