Tag Archives: entertainment

Carol’s Homework Assignment Post-WIFYR (Yes, I said “POST”)

The assignment is to read the first chapter of 50 books in the Middle-Grade and Young Adult venue. They can be sci-fi, fantasy, or into whatever genre they fall. I am to read them from a writer’s perspective, paying special attention to: intro to main characters, plot development, intro to other characters, anything useful that points to why these books start out well and, as a result, get published.

So here is the first book. “Edgar Allan’s Official Crime Investigation Notebook” by Mary Amato. Middle-Grade. 140 pages.61K7EpEI-qL

From the School Library Journal:

The kids at Wordsmith Elementary School get a lesson on poetry when a thief stages a series of classroom thefts, leaving behind small poems at the scene of the crime. Edgar Allan keeps notes in his crime journal and writes some verses of his own as his classmates compete to solve the mystery. He thinks his home life is strange with his parents both employed as clowns, but when he learns more about the thoughts and personal lives of his classmates through the poetry they write, he gains a deeper understanding of himself and his community. With characters named Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett and a teacher who drinks Tennyson Tea, readers will get thinly veiled lessons describing alliteration, meter, and metaphor. … A good springboard for introducing poetry units.

Opening paragraph shows the reader the crime of stealing the class goldfish.

Characters introduced:

  1. Edgar Allan (MC)
  2. Ms. Herschel (teacher)
  3. Kip (a skinny boy whose leg was jiggling against his desk)
  4. Taz (the class clown)
  5. Maia (the person who gave the fish to the class)
  6. Gabriella (the new girl)
  7. Destiny Perkins (Another classmate. I’m guessing she’s going to be an important character later. She’s the first character given both names)
  8. Patrick Chen (Edgar’s nemesis)

Eight characters introduced in the first four pages. One complaint about my storyline was the introduction of five characters in eight pages. Apparently too many characters are not always an issue. Further study on this will be necessary.

It’s a fast beginning. The theft, the discovery, several theories of who did it, and Edgar and Patrick’s competition to discover the culprit before the other are all laid out by the end of the first chapter (page 6). Fast paced and quick. That part I get.

One comment in a review section said, “It’s a little slow paced as the story progresses and sometimes Edgar seems to think older than a fifth grader.” To people who consider that fifth graders must sound a certain way and be only so intelligent, I divert your attention to “Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?”

I had similar complaints that my characters sound older. They sound like I sounded at 14-16. My friends were, for the most part, the same way. We were avid readers and had been for a decade or more by that age. Nerdy kids who read a lot don’t sound like kids who don’t. They don’t think the same way either. I may try to tone it down some, but if I do it too much, the characters will lose their personalities.

I’ll definitely finish Edgar Allan’s Official… It has the makings of a good ride.

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BB’s (possibly stolen) PROMPT FOR 4/12/15

AnnDeeCanDee once wrote that she’d read most of Roald Dahl’s writing for kids, but not much for adults. My first thought was, “He wrote for adults?” Well, yes, as a matter of fact. Bio, short stories . . . Now, name three writers whose Complete Works you’d choose to read and why. Then pick ONE book from your author faves, and start reading.

YES! I DID IT! I’m choosing an author — no, make that “some authors” — whose complete works I’d like to finish and/or read again. I’ll go to my #1 Fave: T.H. White, though I’ve read NEARLY all of them anyway. But I’d read them all again in a heart‑beat.

Once I finally discovered the Junie B. Jones stories, I read all I could find by Barbara Park. Now I’d read anything else she might have written plus the Junie B’s again. All but two of the latter would be repeats.

I’ve recently found Garth Nix, and I’m making pretty good headway on his books. Ready for book 3 of one of his series, and have two stand‑alone volumes waiting.

Why did I choose these? White because I LOVE the Arthurian tales, no matter WHO wrote them — but his are probably the most accessible for language. Park’s books for humor — made me laugh out loud every time. Nix for pure inventiveness. WHAT an imagination!

Now, you pick 3 favorite authors AND figure out WHY you’d choose those particular ones. In the comments below, let us know what we’re missing if we haven’t read YOUR favorite picks!

And I’ll throw in a bonus author ” — Isaac Asimov for fiction and non‑ . . . and for the INCREDIBLE intellect and work ethic of this man — WOW!

(Feel free to re‑use my prompts, modified to YOUR specifications ‑‑‑ I “stole” them too from Carol Lynch Williams, AnnDeeCanDee, Cheryl, The ABC Writers Guild and others . . . )

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Spellbinder Saturday: Third Time’s the Charm

Easy as A, B, C . . . from HA

Benotripia3Benotripia: Keys to the Dream World is the third and final book in this series by McKenzie Wagner.

It’s been a great ride sharing the adventures of Roseabelle, Jessicana, and Astro as they rescue the queen (The Rescue), find three mystical, magic stones (The Stones of Horsh), and, in this final installment, enter the Dream World… and destroy it or risk losing Benotripia forever. “Only the final battle remains…”

Keys to the Dream World has everything we’ve come to expect in this series: magic, action, kenzie_frameadventure, danger, mystical creatures, interesting characters, and harrowing escapes. The one thing Keys to the Dream World has the others didn’t is a conclusion… or is there? The afterward takes place four years after the end of the final adventure, but there’s always hope for something new and dangerous for our heroes.

And, just as a reminder, McKenzie Wagner turns fourteen this year. We hope she continues to write and share more of her imagination and stories.

See you next time for Tips on Tuesday

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Spellbinder Saturday: Another Vey to Go

Easy as A, B, C . . . from HA

Yep, second installment of the Michael Vey series. Michael Vey: Rise of the Elgen by Richard Paul Evans.Rise of the Elgen

And you thought the adventures of Michael Vey were over at the end of Prisoner in Cell 25. They had just begun.

Michael’s mom is still being held prisoner by Doctor Hatch. After Michael and his Electroclan created a revolt at the academy and set the guinea pigs free, his group enlarged while others left Hatch’s crew and joined his.

Mom, it seems is being held in Peru. Not exactly next door.

The Electroclan makes it back to Idaho to regroup. Michael needs to make a plan. Hmm, can’t be giving too many things away, so excuse me while I step lightly around the spoilers.

Michael thinks they’ll be safe back home at least for a little while. Unfortunately, what they find shows them they are never going to be safe from Elgen. There are Elgen forces in Michael’s apartment, Ostin’s parents have disappeared and Elgen forces are waiting inside his apartment, Jack’s house has been burned to the ground. None of their normal haunts are going to work; and they need to find a place download Grace.

The good news is they have an unknown ally. The new ally helps keep them alive and gets them out of Idaho. They eventually find themselves in Peru. Everybody from the Electroclan is there except Grace. The data stored in her head will be better used by the allies.

Elgen has developed a cheap power system and is using it to power major cities and surrounding areas in Peru for practically no cost. Their plan is to start using these low-cost, energy efficient power plants to get a toehold in a countries’ economy and, eventually, start taking over. The idea is he who controls electric power rules everything. The plan is a bit more complicated than that, but no spoilers. Oh, Michael’s mom is being held at the power plant, of course.

The adventure is taut, suspenseful, and nerve-shattering. If you’ve started the series, keep going. It’s only getting better. I should know… I’ve already read book three, Michael Vey: Battle of the Ampere. Oh… and pre-ordered book four, Michael Vey: Hunt for Jade Dragon.

Yes, the series is worth it. Join the Electroclan.

See you next for Tips on Tuesday.

Michael Vey 1Rise of the ElgenBattle of the Ampere

 

 

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Spellbinder Saturday: Longmire Rides Again

Easy as A, B, C . . . from HA

A Serpent’s Tooth by Craig Johnson was mentioned in a blog earlier this year; not even really mentioned, just a picture of the cover inA Serpent's Tooth passing while discussing television shows based on books. It’s time to take a real look at this latest entry in the Walt Longmire series.

A Mormon “lost boy” (a term used for young men who have been excommunicated or pressured to leave polygamous Mormon fundamentalism groups) shows up in Absaroka county and, consequently, in Walt Longmire’s jail.

Longmire, his deputy Vic Moretti, and his best friend Standing Bear try to find the boy’s mother, but, of course things just aren’t going to be that easy.

In the course of the investigation, an eclectic group of characters make themselves known: an interstate polygamy group—amazingly well armed—with a 400-pound leader who happens to be the young man’s father; a delusional (or is he?) old man claiming to be Orrin Porter Rockwell, Man of God, Son of Thunder, blessed by Joseph Smith himself. Throw into the mix Big Oil and possible CIA involvement and you’ve got yourself a spellbinding pager turner.

There are some unhappy surprises in this chapter of the Longmire odyssey: the death of a well-known character and another whose life hangs in the balance at the end of the book. Any Other Name, the next book in the series is being released in the middle of May. We have to wait until then to find out the fate of this person. Talk about your cliff-hanger… (I’ve already preordered my copy.)

This is a great series and I hope you give it a try.

See you next time for Tips on Tuesday

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Spellbinder Saturday: Prelude to a Prequel, then the Prequel

Easy as A, B, C . . . from HA

Don’t be confused by the title of today’s review. Witch Rising by Amber Argyle is, in fact, a prelude toWitch Rising Witch Fall, the prequel to Witch Song and Witch Born. I thought it was a very clever move.

Witch Rising is more of a novelette, short and introductory to a whole new cast of characters. Not all are new, actually. We met Lilette in Witch Born. Witch Rising is our intro to her true history.

Argyle’s introduction to the story of Lilette hits the floor running. We find the ship she’s on under attack. I’m not going to give too many, if any, spoilers. I sort of got carried away with my review of Witch Born.

So, the ship is under attack. She is the only survivor, thanks to her mother’s quick thinking. Her harrowing escape leaves her on an island, rescued by a fisherman. We watch her settle in to a new life, hiding her abilities for many years.

Of course, it’s not all roses. There are bad people, no matter where you go or how hard you try to keep a low profile. In this case, it’s the head honcho of the village and he thinks Lilette will make a fine addition to his group of wives.

Let’s just say she tries everything she can to keep from becoming his latest– and youngest– wife and fails. She even tries singing for the first time since her rescue to no avail. That’s where Witch Rising ends: she’s waiting for her wedding day.

Witch FallWitch Fall, the full story, picks up shortly after Witch Rising ends. Lilette is still awaiting her impending marriage when the island is invaded by the same group responsible for the destruction of her previous life.

From there the story starts opening into realms of magic, international intrigue, war between nations and war between witch factions. This is where the tearing apart of the witch world’s cohesion begins.

Lilette is responsible for bringing the war to an end, but at what price? It’s touched upon in the previous novels, but explained fully in Witch Fall without the bias of history writers changing things to match their own views.

Amber Argyle has gotten better at her craft with each new book. The characters are rich and full; they’re complex and believable. She writes in a way that makes you see how each side of the conflict thinks they’re in the right.

Read the Witch Song story, all four volumes. You won’t regret it.

See you next time for Tips on Tuesday.

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Spellbinder Saturday: Winter Queen for a Winter Wonderland

As easy as A, B, C . . . from HAWinter Queen

Ah, another winter’s tale. Icefall two weeks ago and Winter Queen this week. It’s just been that kind of winter. Let’s embrace it, revel in it; read about it.

Amber Argyle is a Utah writer specializing in fantasy. Very well-written fantasy. Her Witch Song series is a spellbinding read and she’s brought that talent to the tale of the Winter Queen.

She forms a world of intrigue, savagery, political in- fighting, and— of course— love.

Ilyenna lies dying. Wounded by an axe blow to her midsection, she thinks of what she’ll be missing from a life cut short. That’s when the winter fairies arrived. They select her as their new queen. Their kisses heal her and the cold no longer affects her, but she insists she can’t be their queen just yet. There are things she still needs to do. And therein lies the tale.

Vicious villains, virtuous heroines, a stalwart group of supporters for Ilyenna and savage cohorts (not to mention father) for the main antagonist Darrien. He really is a piece of work.

Argyle’s characters, including the fairies (no, really!), are all three dimensional and acceptable. The world she weaves follows a path with complete believability. There are varying seasons which are not always found in fantasy. This is not a desert world or a frozen wasteland world. This world has seasons, hence the need for a Winter Queen and, as a pivotal character, the Summer Queen.

Life is Balance. For every good is an evil; for every death there is a birth. For every winter, there is a summer. Politics and dealing between the seasonal is fair game.

It’s a spellbinding read. Her prose is a pleasure and leaves the reader breathless and craving more. Speaking of craving more, this is the first book in the Fairy Queen series. The next one will be Summer Queen. I understand she only has less than 20,000 words of it written, so we all must be patient. Argh!

See you next time for Tips on Tuesday

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