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Poetry Friday: In the Beginning by Harriet Monroe

April 29th, 2016 (05:49 am)

Current Mood: contemplative
Current Song: Half-Sleep by Novelette

When sunshine met the wave,
Then love was born;
Then Venus rose to save
A world forlorn.

For light a thousand wings
Of joy unfurled,
And bound with golden rings
The icy world.

And color flamed the earth
With glad desire,
Till life sprang to the birth,
Fire answering fire,

And so the world awoke,
And all was done,
When first the ocean spoke
Unto the sun.

- In the Beginning by Harriet Monroe

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View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.

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Essential Maps for the Lost by Deb Caletti

April 28th, 2016 (11:46 pm)
Tags: ,

Current Mood: sleepy
Current Song: Orphan Black score music

Both Madison (Mads) and Billy have their futures ahead of them - futures heavily shaped by their mothers. And, perhaps, by each other. But when the story starts, when their stories first intersect, only one of them is present: Mads, when her morning swim leads her straight into the path of a body, a woman who has taken her own life: Billy's mother.

Though the premise outlined above may sound grim, Essential Maps for the Lost by Deb Caletti is buoyed by hope: hope for better days, hope for positive change. The story is led by two characters who struggle to take control over their own lives while they search for reasons or answers related to recent events. Written in third person, the book flips back and forth between Billy and Mads, allowing the reader to see both perspectives - which is especially interesting when they are in the same scene and readers are privy to both characters' thoughts. Furthermore, it shows us how the characters see themselves versus how others see them. The narrative also permits a cool omniscient element, with occasional phrases directing the reader's attention to something - almost like a finger pointing, "Look there," "Remember this moment later" - that are more like gentle nudges than pushy wink-wink moments.

Billy and Mads, both post-high school and both innate caretakers, have found jobs they love: Billy works at a no-kill animal shelter and literally rescues dogs, while Mads babysits a baby girl that she wishes she could protect from the world. But neither of them are happy at home. Billy now lives with his grandmother, a woman full of cruel remarks and judgements about her late daughter, while Mads is staying with her aunt, uncle, and cousin for the summer while she takes real estate classes at Bellevue Community College - all part of her mother's plan for Mads to become her working partner the second she passes the licensing exam.

But once Mads and Billy meet, once their lives collide, their futures change. Or is it that their options change, and their true futures reveal themselves? It is not easy to alleviate the burdens of the abandoned or create a map for the lost. It takes courage to face the ogres of depression and loss. With strength of spirit combined with gut instincts and personal truths, Mads and Billy find their way out of the deep and onto their next journey.

My favorite quotes from the book include:

It's dangerous to hope like this. Already, there's a little flame of it, and he wants to cup his hands around it so it doesn't blow out. - Pages 104-105

This is no coincidence. It's about as much of a coincidence as her seeing him at his own house. See? There's fate, and there's agency, dancing together beautifully, like a couple in sequined costumes. - Page 129

Claire's eyes send a message that begs for honesty... Now those eyes are having the midnight showing of the mess that will be Mads's future. - Page 157

It's another reason he believes in her. She'll rescue herself because she kisses back, she lets love in, and love is one of the only weapons that has half a chance in the dark. - Page 214

This review was cross-posted at GuysLitWire.

Check out my reviews of other Deb Caletti novels, including The Nature of Jade and The Queen of Everything.

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Author Spotlight: Deb Caletti

April 26th, 2016 (07:02 am)

Current Mood: hopeful
Current Song: Pretty the World by Matt Nathanson

Deb Caletti imbues all of her stories with realistic sensibility and captivating characters. At the risk of sounding foolish while attempting to be succinct, I will say that I love all of her books, I recommend all of her books, and I think you should get them all right now. ("You" meaning "all teens and adults.")

Here are my thoughts on Deb's books, in order of publication:

The Queen of Everything

Jordan's life is about to change forever. This teenage girl thought the worse thing that could happen to her would be her artsy mother embarrassing her yet again. Then, her father - the "normal" one, the parent she chose to live with after the divorce, the optometrist - becomes the epicenter of a scandal.

I read this novel when it was released in 2002 and it haunts me to this day. To say this is simply about what happens when teenagers realize that their parents are people too would be accurate, but incomplete. This book is an absolutely amazing story of a girl, a family, and a violent crime. Stunning.

Honey, Baby, Sweetheart

Ruby's always been quiet and shy. She knows it. She embraces it. Thanks in part to her mother, the elderly members of a book group, and a boy - who may break her heart . . . or just might win it - she's about to let go, just a little bit. She does not rebel nor become completely impulsive, but she does learn to be more in control and more decisive.

Caletti's sophomore effort has a lot of heart. This is just as enjoyable as her debut novel The Queen of Everything, but with a warmer tale to tell. It will leave you smiling. Highly recommended, especially for fans of That Summer by Sarah Dessen. Honey, Baby, Sweetheart deserves every award it has received, and that in itself is a rarity.

Wild Roses

Cassie's stepfather Dino is famous. The world knows him as a talented violinist. Cassie knows him as an unpredictable and violent man. As the story progresses, he nears the brink of self-destruction. You can almost hear the walls shake and see Cassie cringe when Dino raises his voice. Meanwhile, Cassie becomes involved with Ian, another violin virtuoso - and a student of Dino's.

While there are plenty of books out there about abusive significant others, there are few - especially those shelved in teen fiction - that confront mental illness or the dynamics of stepfamilies head-on. This book has both. It is honest and unflinching.

The Nature of Jade

Jade doesn't know yet that she wants something more out of life - and that she is about to meet someone that will change her life.

Good student Jade is an overachiever who has developed panic disorder. Sometimes, the medicine she takes makes her antsy at night, so she's taken to watching the online elephant cam from her local zoo. One night, the camera shows her a young boy in a red jacket with a baby boy, and she is inexplicably drawn to them.

Throughout the course of her senior year, Jade finds herself feeling more and more out-of-place with her friends as they discuss their future plans. She's ready for her life to change, but she's not sure how. When she gets a job at the zoo and befriends the elephants and their caretakers, things seem right again.

Then she meets the boy in the red jacket face-to-face. As their relationship grows, secrets are revealed on both sides, and it is that relationship which ultimately gives her the strength to make some extremely difficult choices.

I have never worked with elephants. I never knew a Sebastian. I (thankfully) haven't suffered from panic attacks. But there was something about Jade that mirrored something in me, and that really made me connect with the character.

I enjoyed the story and the writing so much that I purposely slowed my reading speed down to take it all in. I wanted this book to last.

Note: If you've seen a book called Love is All You Need bearing Deb's name, know that it is not a new book but rather an omnibus that contains two of Deb's previously released books, Wild Roses and The Nature of Jade.

The Fortunes of Indigo Skye

This isn't yet another rags-to-riches tale, nor "a simple story of money can't buy happiness." This book is about a girl on the cusp of adulthood who actually likes her life and doesn't really want it to change that much. She would rather be poor and happy than wealthy and miserable.

(Read my full-length review.)

Many thanks to the book fairy who gave me this book! As I read, I marked my favorite lines of this pretty Skye with little white Post-It flags. There are a total of 26 little flags sticking out of the book.

True story: A few weeks after I read Indigo, a man in San Francisco left $50,000 and his car to a waitress!

The Secret Life of Prince Charming

Not every girl is looking for a Prince Charming - and not every charming guy is a prince. Though the title and cover for this book (both the hardcover and paperback editions) might make you think the titular character is the protagonist or the protagonist's boyfriend, he's neither - he's her father.

Quinn's father has left a series of women in his wake, including the mothers of his children. 17-year-old Quinn and her little sister love their mom, who, along with their aunt and grandmother, are always willing to share advice and personal stories about love, life, and heartbreak. When Quinn's boyfriend dumps her, her quest to find out why he did that leads back, interestingly enough, to her own father - not because he's involved in the breakup, but because his absence and her parents' divorce helped shape Quinn's world.

Upon learning that her father's artistic keepsakes are actually personal items that he's taken from the women he has dated or married, Quinn gathers the items and goes on a quest to return the items to their rightful owners. She brings along her sisters: Charlotte (aka Sprout), her sunny, bouncy little sister, and Frances Lee, the older half-sister she'd never met before this trip. As they follow the path of destruction their father left behind, the girls find humor, sadness, a ten-foot statue, a cat that looks like a dust bunny, and other things they didn't expect... like the truth, and forgiveness.

I headed up a roundtable discussion of this book with fellow readergirlz. Check it out.

The Six Rules of Maybe

When Scarlet's older sister Juliet comes home, she's not alone: she's brought along her husband Hayden, his dog Zeus, and the announcement that she's not only married, she's also pregnant. As the family adjusts to their new situation, Scarlet reevaluates her relationship with her sister and becomes close to her new brother-in-law. As she gets tangled up in her feelings about Hayden, thanks to her tendency to want to help people, she also becomes involved in the lives of her neighbors. But "help" and "fix" are two different things - and she might have to help herself first, for once, before she can truly help anyone else.

The meaning behind the title is revealed about 100 pages in - and fully realized later, just when it should be.

My favorite lines from the book include:

But I was just being myself, and you wouldn't believe what a relief it was. - Page 48

Maybe that was it, that I was a reading person, or a mini-adult, or an old soul, because I just never got the rules of high school. It all seemed silly. - Page 68


Teenaged Clara has chosen to put miles between herself and her abusive boyfriend - and everyone else she knows, except for her father, who remains by her side, who takes her to another town so she can be safe. Looking for hope and hoping to heal, they seek refuge in a coastal community. Clara lost her mother when she was four; her father, a writer, raised her by himself. With a lighthouse and a beach as the backdrop and new friends as the accidental instigators, she learns more about her father, her family, and herself.

One of my favorite lines from the book appears halfway through the story:

I was alone with something too big to be alone with.

As Deb said in her personal essay about the book: "If you are in any situation that sounds remotely like the one Clara was in, speak up. Tell someone. Look after yourself. Get help, if you need it. You probably need it. It's a dangerous place to be. Most of all, be safe. Please. Listen to me on this one. Deal? Excellent."

The Story of Us

Cricket, a recent high school graduate, her slightly older brother, Ben, their mother, and their faithful beagle, Jupiter, have packed up their belongings and sent the boxes ahead to a new house. Before moving, they'll spent a week with their mother's fiancee and his two daughters as well as other relatives and close friends, all gathering to take part in their mother's wedding. The only person missing will be Cricket's long-time boyfriend, Janssen, whom Cricket is purposefully, regretfully holding at arm's length. The circumstances which created this distance are explained as the book progresses, mostly in the letters Cricket writes to Janssen.

I finished reading this book on a beautiful day, full of sunshine, memories, and emotion. Just look at the picture I took, nestled in the top corner of this post. Cricket would have liked this day, I think, and so would Jupiter. And if you liked Caletti's previous novels, especially The Nature of Jade, you'll like The Story of Us as well.

(Read my full-length review.)

The Last Forever

The Last Forever by Deb Caletti is the story of a girl named Tess, and the people who have influenced her the most: her parents, each absent in a different way; her grandmother, who she hasn't seen since she was a toddler; and someone she never saw coming. The summer between Tessa's junior and senior years of high school is a summer filled with unexpected, unforgettable things. It's about finding your roots, and planting your own. It's about grief, and hope, and truth, and family. It's about the choices that are made for us, and the choices we make for ourselves. It's about celebrating what you have, honoring what you have, and knowing who you are.

(Read my full-length review.)

Essential Maps for the Lost

Both Madison (Mads) and Billy have their futures ahead of them - futures heavily shaped by their mothers. And, perhaps, by each other. When the story starts, when their stories first intersect, only one of them is present: Mads, when her morning swim leads her straight into the path of a body, a woman who has taken her own life: Billy's mother. But once Mads and Billy meet, once their lives collide, their futures change. Or is it that their options change, and their true futures reveal themselves?

(Read my full-length review.)

Additional Notes and Connections

Deb's adult novels include He's Gone and The Secrets She Keeps.

Deb's other works include an essay in the anthology First Kiss, Then Tell and the essay "The Joys and Perils of Dæmon Ownership" in the anthology The World of The Golden Compass.

Though the characters and stories are not directly connected, all of Deb's novels take place in and around the real community of Nine Mile Falls, Washington.

Deb's books are being developed into a film series titled Nine Mile Falls. Dear Vulcan Productions: Please do right by Deb's books...and please let me know when and where you're holding auditions. :)

Interviews and More

Read my exclusive interview with Deb Caletti.

I also wrote an article entitled Clamoring for Caletti which ran in the May 2007 issue of The Edge of the Forest, a publication which is sadly now defunct.

Watch Book Lust with Nancy Pearl featuring Deb Caletti.

Thank you, Deb. Your Secret is safe with me.

Little Willow [userpic]

Earth Day Every Day!

April 22nd, 2016 (07:00 am)

Current Mood: thirsty
Current Song: Topper score music

Celebrate Earth Day every day! Here are just a few ways you can help protect this planet of ours and inspire others to do the same.

Every single time you go to throw something away, take a moment to consider how you could recycle, reduce, or reuse that item. Don't just toss things in the trash.

Be creative! Use that empty oatmeal canister to store fruit or jewelry or socks - but not all at the same time - or make it into a drum!

Recycle everything that you can - newspapers, plastic bottles, tin cans, everything. Check containers to see if they can be recycled and either take them to a local recycling center or, if you have separate trash bins for recyclables and greenery, use them properly and encourage your family and neighbors to do the same.

Bring your own canvas bags to the grocery store and other shops.

Buy locally grown and/or organic foods. After a meal, give those uneaten bread crusts to the creatures outside. I know, I know, you don't want to attract raccoons and such into your yard, but maybe you can feed the ducks at the pond or offer those crumbs to the critters at a local park. If possible, make a compost pile. I admittedly don't have a compost pile, but I buy day-old bread and feed wild squirrels almost every week when it's good weather. (The folks at Seven-Imp know all about this!)

Eat at home and you'll save time and money, spend more time with your loved ones, and consume healthier foods. If you have to eat at work or school, pack your food in a reusable lunchbag or lunchbox, and include reusable utensils, plates, and containers.

Get a reusable beverage container and keep it with you. Summer's coming, so it's time to hydrate even more than usual! (Those of you that know me well won't be surprised to learn that one of my reusable bottles, that which goes to and from theatres, auditions, and rehearsals with me, is decorated with Tinker Bell.)

When making purchases of any kind, look for items made of recycled and/or organic materials. Try not to buy things with excessive, wasteful packaging. Consider what it is that you're getting. Do you really need things to be individually wrapped?

Before you print something out, think about whether or not you really need to print it. If not, DON'T. Save that ink and that paper. When you do have to use paper, always use both sides, then recycle it when you're done with it.

Walk whenever you can, wherever you can.

Use public transportation whenever you can.

Carpool to and from work, school, and other places.

Exercise daily. Make an effort to MOVE MORE. Take a walk at lunch and/or before or after work, especially if you have a job where you sit all day. WALK. WALK. WALK. Also run, or run-walk, or hike. Ride a bicycle, a tricycle, a skateboard, a scooter - whatever works for you and runs solely on the power of your own two feet (and arms, and heart, and lungs...) Make it part of your daily exercise routine. If you include friends or family members, you're more likely to meet your goals because you will be challenging and encouraging each other. Whether you are with friends or by yourself, make sure that you have the proper safety equipment (helmet, kneepads, armpads, etc) - plus that trusty reusable drinking container filled with fresh, cool water, and good-for-you snacks, like dried fruit or granola bars! If you're going on a big hike or biking an offbeat trail or something like that by yourself, please, please make sure someone knows where you are, because I get really worried when I picture you doing that alone.

After you read this post, GET UP AND WALK AROUND YOUR HOUSE. (I mean walking around inside, but if you actually go outside and walk around the perimeter of your house, give yourself kudos, and give me photographic evidence, videotaped proof, or something.)

For those of you unfamiliar with Earth Day, I'll give you a brief history: The United Nations celebrates Earth Day annually on the March equinox, inspired by activist John McConnell in 1969. In 1970, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day as an environmental "teach-in," and it is celebrated annually on April 22nd in the United States and other countries.

Again I say: Earth Day every day!

Related Posts:

The Julie books by Megan McDonald - I highly recommend that you read Julie and the Eagles in your classroom or library and at home with your family!

Readergirlz: Community Challenge: Go Eco - From June 2007

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Poetry Friday: To the Moon by Percy Bysshe Shelley

April 22nd, 2016 (06:00 am)
Current Mood: knowing
Current Song: The Authority Song by Jimmy Eat World

Art thou pale for weariness
Of climbing heaven, and gazing on the earth,
Wandering companionless
Among the stars that have a different birth,-
And ever-changing, like a joyless eye
That finds no object worth its constancy?

- To the Moon by Percy Bysshe Shelley

View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.

View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.

Learn more about Poetry Friday.

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Poetry Friday: Heartsease by Walter Savage Landor

April 15th, 2016 (06:00 am)

Current Mood: awake
Current Song: Wait For It from Hamilton

There is a flower I wish to wear,
But not until first worn by you -
Heartsease - of all earth’s flowers most rare;
Bring it; and bring enough for two.

- Heartsease by Walter Savage Landor

View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.

View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.

Learn more about Poetry Friday.

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Poetry Friday: I Am the Wind by Zoe Atkins

April 8th, 2016 (06:00 am)

Current Mood: hopeful
Current Song: Once Should Be Enough by Jillian Edwards

I am the wind that wavers,
You are the certain land;
I am the shadow that passes
Over the sand.

I am the leaf that quivers,
You the unshaken tree;
You are the stars that are steadfast,
I am the sea.

- from I Am the Wind by Zoe Atkins

Read the rest of the poem.

View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.

View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.

Learn more about Poetry Friday.

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The Demonists by Thomas E. Sniegoski

April 5th, 2016 (09:38 am)

Current Mood: awake
Current Song: Laying Me Low by David Cook

Fear no evil and dive headfirst into the new series The Demonists by Thomas E. Sniegoski.

The Demonists by Thomas E. SniegoskiFrom the New York Times bestselling author of The Fallen series and the Remy Chandler series comes a new dark fantasy series filled with demons, exorcisms, and the fight against the darkness.

There is more to our world than meets the eye - darker things, crueler things. Exorcist John Fogg and his wife, psychic medium Theodora Knight, know what lurks in the shadows. But even they're not prepared for the worst Hell has to offer...

It was supposed to be a simple exorcism, a publicity stunt to firmly establish John and Theodora's thriving paranormal investigation empire in the public eye. But something went wrong, leading to an on-air massacre that unleashed a malicious host of demons and left Theodora catatonic, possessed by countless spirits.

John sets out on a desperate quest to find a cure for his wife, but his obsession brings him face-to-face with an even more terrifying problem: Theodora's possession is only one piece of a deadly plot that is threatening the entire world. Because an ancient evil is about to make Earth its battlefield - and without John and Theodora's intervention, there is no chance for salvation...

Published April 5th, 2016
Available at Amazon.com
Available at Amazon.co.uk
Published by Roc
ISBN-10: 0451473523
ISBN-13: 978-0451473523

Little Willow [userpic]

#rockthedrop This October!

April 4th, 2016 (05:59 pm)

Current Mood: optimistic
Current Song: House score music

Hey, readergirlz! We have a #rockthedrop update for you, courtesy of Lorie Ann Grover:

YALSA has decided to discontinue Support Teen Literature Day in April. We've enjoyed celebrating the day for 8 years by rocking the drop through Operation Teen Book Drop. We've donated thousands of books to teens in hospitals and those on Tribal Lands. We've left young adult books around the world to be found by happy readers. Well done, all!

SO WE ARE GOING TO CONTINUE ANYWAY! We are going to #RocktheDrop in October, on Friday, the 14th, of Teen Read Week. Deal? For now, stash those books to the side, and we'll collectively drop them together next fall. We'll give you a heads up as the time approaches. Let's get those donation piles taller in the meantime.

Be ready to #RocktheDrop on October 14th, 2016. It's going to be a great addition to Teen Read Week. Ready, set, go!

Learn more about #rockthedrop aka Operation Teen Book Drop.

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Poetry Friday: Free Verse by Robert Graves

April 1st, 2016 (06:00 am)

Current Mood: awake
Current Song: Lonely People by Orla Gartland

I now delight
In spite
Of the might
And the right
Of classic tradition,
In writing
And reciting
Straight ahead,
Without let or omission,
Just any little rhyme
In any little time
That runs in my head...

- from Free Verse by Robert Graves

Read the entire poem.

View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.

View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.

Learn more about Poetry Friday.