Sunday, May 31, 2015

Review: Miryam of Nazareth: Woman of Strength and Wisdom

Miryam of Nazareth: Woman of Strength and Wisdom by Ann Johnson, September 1, 2005 (originally published in 1984). 124 pages. Published by Christian Classics. Source: Ave Maria Press.
Woman of Strength and Wisdom Woman of prayer, woman of faith, woman of confidence, this is the Mary of Nazareth we meet in this vivid, contemporary portrait of the mother of Jesus. We are shown that these strengths were a part of her long before the angel asked her cooperation in God's plan of salvation. We learn of her heritage (the women of the Old Testament, Ruth, Esther, etc.), her life with Jesus, and with the apostles after the resurrection. A fresh and appealing view of Mary, the God-bearer, the woman for all times. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Sew Adventurous (1): Refashioning an Upcycled Skirt

Named after my first (negelected) Tumblr Sew Adventurous, this is my new blog feature where I'll be sharing some of the non-reading and non-bookblog things that I do. From my latest sewing project(s) to the cross stitch patters I'm currently working on. Hey, I might even get bold one day and chronicle my ill fated attempts at other forms of crafting.

Sew Adventurous: Refashioning an Upcycled Skirt

The dress on the right. Yeah, the pretty cream colored one with the flowers, well, that's what my twice upcycled skirt started out looking like. Cute pattern...but that top! That top was just all kinds of bad, but the skirt pattern was too cute to get rid of.

It took me months to finally decide how I was going to salvage the pretty dress and transform it into something new and exciting...that was within my limited knowledge of sewing.

Before we get to the "big" reveal, I'm going to share how I did it...without pictures as I forgot to take in progress pictures in my zeal for bringing my brain idea into reality.

So, while attempting to refashion the upcycled skirt I, well, I used hot pink thread and didn't bother with measuring. Not because I was super confidant in my skills, but because I didn't think it would turn out as well as it did. Lesson to all, even if you don't think it'll work out like you hope, put the proper colored thread in the machine and measure for safeties sake! Don't be lazy like me!

*drum roll*

If you're curious as to how I turned an old sundress into a super cute and flattering skirt, let me know and I'll type up a tutorial for ya'll. I'll even get some pictures because I have two more sundresses in need of an update/overhaul.

Are y'all interested in seeing more things like this? I would seriously love to hear what y'all think of this skirt and the new feature of Sew Adventurous.

Skirt details:
the waits of the skirt sits just above my hips bones, and, falls just above my knees so it's perfect for both church and everyday wear.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

[Blog Tour Review] Bride of Slug Man

Bride of Slug Man (Kate Walden Directs, 2) by Julie Mata, May 26, 2015. 288 pages. Published by Disney-Hyperion. Source: Blue Slip Media.
After her huge success with her first feature-length movie, seventh-grader Kate Walden is eager to start on her next film, a sci-fi romance called Bride of Slug Man. When a new kid comes to town from New York City, Kate thinks she might have a new found film buddy-someone to share her interest with. And it doesn't hurt that he's pretty cute. But it turns out that Tristan is making his own movie, and now the classmates Kate thought were eager to join her cast and crew are divided.

With rumors spreading in school and between sets, Kate finds herself juggling more than just call times and rewrites. And judging from the whispers Kate hears about Tristan Kingsley,she suspects that he isn't interested in having a fellow film-buff friend; he just wants to prove himself as the best filmmaker in school by winning the Big Picture Film Festival. Kate vows to enter too, and tries to focus on just making the best movie she can.

But between the cutthroat popularity contest, a bully situation that goes from bad to worse, and several on-set mishaps, Kate is going to need all the movie magic she can get to make sure Bride of Slug Man hits the big-screen.
First Sentence:
All the cafeteria lunches at Medford Junior High taste like they've been boiled in  rusty cauldron, but the hot dogs are the worst.

Teaser Tuesday: Zero Tolerence

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. To participate, simply do the following: Grab your current read Open to a random page Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Monday, May 25, 2015

All About Middle Grade Review: Zero Tolerence

Zero Tolerance by Claudia Mills, June 18, 2013. 240 pages. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR). Source: publisher.
Seventh-grader Sierra Shepard has always been the perfect student, so when she sees that she accidentally brought her mother's lunch bag to school, including a paring knife, she immediately turns in the knife at the school office. Much to her surprise, her beloved principal places her in in-school suspension and sets a hearing for her expulsion, citing the school's ironclad no weapons policy. While there, Sierra spends time with Luke, a boy who's known as a troublemaker, and discovers that he's not the person she assumed he would be--and that the lines between good and bad aren't as clear as she once thought. Claudia Mills brings another compelling school story to life with Zero Tolerance.
First Sentence:
Sierra Shepard sat in the office at Longwood Middle School during lunch recess 5A, waiting to see her principal, Mr. Besser.

Friday, May 22, 2015

[Blog Tour] 5 Questions with Kids Comic Authors: John Patrick Green

In support of Children's Book Week and comic books, I am delighted to be hosting a Q&A with John Patrick Green (author of Teen Boat).

JORGE/RAFAEL:  Thanks, John, for taking our questions.  Great to meet you.

QUESTION:  So Dave Roman says to you, "I want to do a comic about a teenaged kid who's also a boat."  How did you start to visualize that?  Did you go through many character designs before settling on the final version?

Answer: The inception of Teen Boat is kind of bizarre. Dave and I had been talking about obscure Saturday morning cartoons, and in a way I first challenged him to write Teen Boat when I questioned if a story about the angst of being a teen could also have the thrill of being a boat. I wasn't sure it could be done, but Dave insisted, and sometime later Dave came to me with the first eight pages. When we initially came up with the idea we joked that I should draw it in the style of Hergé, like Tintin. We thought it would be funny if this comic about an American teenager was drawn in a European style. But once I had the script, I didn't really think I could pull that style off, or at least sustain it for very long, so I just went with something that came naturally. I didn't do a lot of character sketches… I actually think I didn't do any, really, and just started drawing. I don't recall showing Dave what any characters looked like until the first few pages were done. The sequence in which Teen Boat transforms I did sketches, and Dave did some too, to help figure out how that would work, but for the most part I'd just come up with the look of the human characters on the spot when I got to a panel they appeared in. For the later chapters, and especially the second book, I did a few sketches of each new character. "Teen Bot" and "Copperface", two new characters appearing in the second Teen Boat book, "The Race for Boatlantis", and also the look of the city of Boatlantis itself, probably went through the most rounds of sketches before Dave and I settled on designs we both liked.

QUESTION:  Besides, "Teen Boat" you two also collaborated on "Jax Epoch."  Like us, you two are college friends.  So how does that collaboration work?  Do you get a fully fleshed script from Dave and work from that?
Answer: Dave's writing process has varied a lot on the projects we've collaborated on. Not just from project to project, but even within a project, Dave will give me the script in different formats. Sometimes he's drawn thumbnails of scenes, other times it's a text-only script. Occasionally it's just loose dialog and he leaves it all up to me how to break the text and action of a scene down into pages and panels. In many writer/illustrator partnerships, each person performs their role in order and in solitude. The writer writes the story, then when they're done, the artist draws the story. Collaborating with Dave is much more symbiotic, and we'll go back and forth between writing and sketching as a story evolves. With Teen Boat, sometimes I'd come up with a plot point, or even just a gag or a pun, and then Dave would construct an entire story around it. And Dave's a visual thinker, so he writes in a way that translates to images very well.

QUESTION:  You've spoken in interviews about your influences when you started (Garfield, Calvin and Hobbes).  Who are you're current cartoon influences?
Answer:  I'm crazy about Gravity Falls. It's got this style that reminds me of a lot of the visual influences from my youth, plus it's a great mix of comedy and mystery and sci-fi and horror. It's a bit "X-Files for kids" in a way, and while most episodes work on their own, it's doing a wonderful job of building up lore and continuity. For my latest project, it was really seeing Cecil Castellucci's and Sara Varon's Odd Duck that finally inspired me to put this idea that had been rolling around in my head for awhile down on paper, but some of the influences have been far less recent, like the original Curious George books and Tove Jansson's Moomin. The thing that is probably the most influential on me these days, though, is all the energy coming from the other comic and kids book creators I know, and especially the teachers and librarians that support all our work so much. It's hard not to be motivated to create something when surrounded by so much enthusiasm.

QUESTION:  What are you working on right now?
Answer: Currently I'm finishing up the pencil art for HIPPOPOTAMISTER, my first younger reader graphic novel as writer and artist. It's about a hippopotamus who leaves the zoo with his friend the red panda to see what it's like having different types of human jobs. It's coming out from First Second Books in Spring 2016.

QUESTION:  What's on your nightstand?
Answer: My keys, my alarm clock, and a Boba Fett bobblehead. But you probably mean what books I'm reading. I had been reading the print collection of the webcomic Super Mutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki, but it has disappeared. I suspect a gremlin took it in the night, like they do. So until it pops up again, I've been catching up on Yotsuba&!

Children’s Book Week, (May 4-10, 2015) – 96th annual celebration!
Children's Book Week is the annual celebration of books for young people and the joy of reading. It is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country.
In 2015, official Children’s Book Week events – including appearances by beloved children’s book authors & illustrators, children’s open mic nights, read-alouds, book-themed costume parties, and much more – will be held in all 50 states. Photos from last year here. Event attendees receive complimentary Children’s Book Week posters and tote bags. You can see how the celebrations for 2015 are shaping up here.
Children’s Book Week is administered by Every Child a Reader (ECAR) and the Children’s Book Council (CBC) is the anchor sponsor. More.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

[Blog Tour & Giveaway] YA Review: Three Day Summer

Three Day Summer by Sarvenaz Tash, May 19, 2015. 304 pages. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Source: Blue Slip Media.
Michael is unsure about most things. Go to college? Enlist in the military? Break up with his girlfriend? All big question marks. He is living for the moment and all he wants is a few days at the biggest concert of the summer.

Cora lives in the town hosting the music festival. She's volunteering in the medical tent. She's like that, always the good girl. But there is something in the air at this concert and suddenly Cora finds herself wanting to push her own boundaries.

When Michael and Cora meet, sparks fly, hearts race, and all the things songs are written about come true. And all the while, three days of the most epic summer await them...
First Sentence:
"You. Are. A. Candy. Cane."

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wish List Wednesday: Queen of Attolia

The Queen of Attolia (Queen's Thief, 2) by Megan Whalen Turner, January 24, 2006 (originally published in 2000). Published by Greenwillow Books.
When Eugenides, the Thief of Eddis, stole Hamiathes's Gift, the Queen of Attolia lost more than a mythical relic. She lost face. Everyone knew that Eugenides had outwitted and escaped her. To restore her reputation and reassert her power, the Queen of Attolia will go to any length and accept any help that is offered...she will risk her country to execute the perfect revenge.

Eugenides can steal anything. And he taunts the Queen of Attolia, moving through her strongholds seemingly at will. So Attolia waits, secure in the knowledge that the Thief will slip, that he will haunt her palace one too many times. what price?
When Eugenides finds his small mountain country at war with Attolia, he must steal a man, he must steal a queen, he must steal peace. But his greatest triumph, and his greatest loss, comes in capturing something that the Queen of Attolia thought she had sacrificed long ago...
Why: Even though The Thief started out real slow, my curiosity is piqued and I want to know what happens next. It must be good though because it is never checked in at my library.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

{Blog Tour & Giveaway} So You Want to be a Princess!

Since Meg Cabot inspired me to start blogging you can imagine how excited (try madly) I am to be participating in a blog tour for one of her books (From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess)!! This calm face and relaxed tone are hiding some crazy, flailing excitement!!

Throughout the Middle School Princess tour we were asked to talk about what we would do "If I Were a Princess!". So, the questions remains...what would I do!!

If I Were a Princess 

Seriously though, I do believe my first reaction finding out I was royalty of a small country such as Genovia would be something like Mia's (and ironically nothing like that of Olivia's)....

Yet, once the shock wore off I and the possibilities of what this power/opportunity could bring and how one could help others. Even though I have a couple, varying, ideas on what I would do I think I'll start with the library,

As a reader, or should I say devour-er of books, and supporter of public libraries, I would work to bring more funding to public libraries because they offer not just books for the borrowing but classes, computers and so many opportunities for residents to broaden the scope of their knowledge and learn something new. Libraries and librarians are pretty awesome!

While getting books and resources such as the library provides into peoples hands is important there are a few other near and dear to me things, too. Such as the Make-a-Wish foundation, because who wouldn't want to help them make children's dreams come true, and raising awareness/looking for a cure for FA with the Fanconi Anemia Research Foundation.

On a lesser serious note, I'm thinking an end to high heels or just any shoe that is not comfortable! Really, I would kick the person that created high heels because they really, in the grand scheme of things, are not practical in the least bit. That would definitely be one of the first royal decrees...that and bringing back the art of hand-fan conversations.

Come on, check out that fun! Doesn't it make you want to get a little sassy with a hand fan?!

Now that you've seen "What I Would Do if I were a Princess" you should check out my thoughts on From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess by Meg Cabot to see why I really enjoyed meeting the newest Genovian princess!!!


Thanks to Macmillan, one lucky (US) reader will win a copy of From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess by Meg Cabot and a paper tiara!

Comment and leave your email address to win.

Monday, May 18, 2015

All About Middle Grade Review: From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess

From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess ( From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess, 1) by Meg Cabot, May 19, 2015. 192 pages. Published by Feiwel & Friends. Source: publisher.
Olivia Grace Clarisse Mignonette Harrison is a completely average twelve-year-old: average height, average weight, average brown hair of average length, average brown skin and average hazel eyes. The only things about her that aren't average are her name (too long and princess themed), her ability to draw animals (useful for her future career as a wildlife illustrator), and the fact that she is a half-orphan who has never met her father and is forced to live with her aunt and uncle (who treat her almost like their own kids, so she doesn't want to complain).

Then one completely average day, everything goes wrong: the most popular girl in school, Annabelle Jenkins, threatens to beat her up, the principal gives her a demerit, and she's knocked down at the bus stop . . .

Until a limo containing Princess Mia Thermopolis of Genovia pulls up to invite her to New York to finally meet her father, who promptly invites her to come live with him, Mia, Grandmère and her two fabulous poodles . . . .

Maybe Olivia Grace Clarisse Mignonette Harrison isn't so average after all!
First Sentence:
Middle school has not been working out the way I hoped it would.

Friday, May 15, 2015

[Blog Tour Review] Exquisite Corpse

Guys, I am quite excited to be one of the stops on the blog tour for Pénélope Bagieu's Exquisite Corpse. Don't forget, you can follow the entire tour.

Exquisite Corpse by Pénélope Bagieu, May 5, 2015. 128 pages. Published by First Second. Source: publisher.
Zoe isn't exactly the intellectual type, which is why she doesn't recognize world-famous author Thomas Rocher when she stumbles into his apartment...and into his life. It's also why she doesn't know that Rocher is supposed to be dead. Turns out, Rocher faked his death years ago to escape his critics, and has been making a killing releasing his new work as "lost manuscripts," in cahoots with his editor/ex-wife Agathe. Neither of them would have invited a crass party girl like Zoe into their literary conspiracy of two, but now that she's there anyway. . . . Zoe doesn't know Balzac from Batman, but she's going to have to wise up fast... because she's sitting on the literary scandal of the century!
First Sentence:
Great! One last One!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Wish List Wednesday: The Pirate Code

The Pirate Code (Hook's Revenge, 2) by Heidi Schulz, September 15, 2015. Published by Disney-Hyperion.
Fresh off a fearsome encounter with the Neverland crocodile, Jocelyn Hook decides the most practical plan is to hunt down her father's famous fortune. After all, she'll need the gold to fund her adventuring in the future. (And luckily, Hook left her the map.)

But the map proves to be a bit harder to crack than Jocelyn had hoped, and she's convinced that the horrible Peter Pan might be the only one with the answers. Of course, he doesn't really feel like helping her, so Jocelyn takes the only reasonable course of action left to her: she kidnaps his mother. Evie, though, is absolutely thrilled to be taken prisoner, so Jocelyn's daring ploy doesn't have quite the effect she'd planned for.

Along with the problem of her all-too-willing captive, Jocelyn must also contend with Captain Krueger, whose general policy is that no deed is too dastardly when it comes to stealing Hook's treasure. And with the ever-shifting Whens of the Neverland working against her as well, Jocelyn, Evie, Roger, and the rest of the Hook's Revenge crew have their work cut out for them.

In this rambunctious showdown between characters new and old, Jocelyn puts her own brand of pirating to the test in a quest to save her future and those she loves.

Why: Heidi Schulz had me from the beginning of Hook's Revenge (expect a review in the upcoming weeks) with her tale if the daughter of Capt. James Hook and Jocelyn's adventures. Needless to say that after reading book one and seeing how it ended, with a promise of more adventures, my need for The Pirate Code is mighty to say the least!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Teaser Tuesday: A Darker Shade of Magic

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. To participate, simply do the following: Grab your current read Open to a random page Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Review: A Darker Shade of Magic

A Darker Shade of Magic (A Darker Shade of Magic, 1) by V.E. Schwab, February 24, 2015. 400 pages. Published by Tor Books. Source: library.
Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London - but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her 'proper adventure'.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — trickier than they hoped.
First Sentence:
Kell wore a very peculiar coat.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Review: Wisdom of the Desert Fathers and Mothers

Wisdom of the Desert Fathers and Mothers edited by Henry L. Carrigan, September 1, 2010. 160 pages. Published by Paraclete Press. Source: publisher.
As word of the wisdom and purity of the Desert Fathers and Mothers spread throughout the Roman Empire, Christians streamed to the caves of these hermits, seeking counsel on the interior life. The hermits’ ascetic practices and teachings were a shining witness to a living faith – offering wisdom for both monastic and lay Christians. Encouraging humility, patience, prayer, introspection, and love, the Desert Fathers and Mothers have influenced centuries of believers, showing how contemplative practice can reveal the true meaning of everyday life.

“Let Christians care for nothing that they cannot take away with them. We ought rather to seek after that which will lead us to heaven, namely wisdom, chastity, justice, virtue, an ever watchful mind, care of the poor, firm faith in Christ, a mind that can control anger, and hospitality. Striving after these things, we shall prepare for ourselves a dwelling in the land of the peaceful.” (from the book)
First Sentence:
Athanasius addresses his life of Antony to monks in Europe: You have entered into an admirable contest by seeking to equal or outdo the monks of Egypt in striving for moral perfection through strict self-discipline. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Teaser Tuesday: The Winner's Crime

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. To participate, simply do the following: Grab your current read Open to a random page Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Monday, May 4, 2015

YA Review: The Winner's Crime

The Winner's Crime (Winner's, 2) by Marie Rutkoski, March 3, 2015. 402 pages. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR). Source: Library.
The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement…if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret.

As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them.
First Sentence:
She cut herself opening the envelope.

Friday, May 1, 2015

On My Mind (3): Out the Window

As one can probably presume from the header of this post, I have decided to start doing discussion posts here on The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia. Call it me trying to let y'all inside my head and to start a dialog with you my fellow readers.

Throwing that TBR Out the Window!

How should I put this...Last night I finished re-reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone (for like the 15th time) and am just wanting to throw all of my TBR books to the wind to sit back and enjoy the epicness that is Harry Potter for a spell. Even though I know there are so many unread books sitting in the wings waiting for their chance to be read, I still am highly entertaining the thought of leaving them in the dust for some one-on-one time with a series I dearly love.

I don't know about you, but sometimes I just need to step far, far away from all the new books to get back to the reading that I love. Sometimes this step is intentional and sometimes it happens accidentally. Yet rarely have I regretted following my reading whims (other than the fear that I may never reach the end of my never-before-read books).

Enough about me! Tell me, has spring left you wanting to revisit all the old books that you hold close to your heart? Are you tired of being chained down to new releases and the will of your TBR pile? Go on, I won't judge because I'm just reading for me this year! Sure I have review books and some tours (okay a lot of both...especially tours this month) but I'm reading, with the exception of tour books, whatever happens to draw my attention both new and old.

The question is, will you join me in rebelling against the ever-lengthening TBR Piles 'O Doom and read just for pleasure? What's the last book you read for you and just for pleasure with no worries?

 Come on, you know you want to join the rebellion! *laughs manically*