Sunday, January 29, 2017

MMGM (1/30/2017): A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

For MMGM, I am recommending the classic A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin.

Here's the publisher's description:

Originally published in 1968, Ursula K. Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea marks the first of the six now beloved Earthsea titles. Ged was the greatest sorcerer in Earthsea, but in his youth he was the reckless Sparrowhawk. In his hunger for power and knowledge, he tampered with long-held secrets and loosed a terrible shadow upon the world. This is the tumultuous tale of his testing, how he mastered the mighty words of power, tamed an ancient dragon, and crossed death's threshold to restore the balance.

This book is 48 years old, but it seems both easy to read, unlike other classics, and completely different from every other fantasy book today (which is not a bad thing). It tells the story of a boy named Ged who, in his youth, accidentally released what is referred to as the shadow into the world as a result of trying to prove his power by summoning a spirit. In trying to fix the mess, Ged, who is an adult for most of the book, ends up becoming much more likable, as he quickly realizes his mistake.The book's writing is amazing, sounding very poetic and great for reading aloud or to one's self. One interesting aspect of the book is true names, which are the names of people or things in an old language known as the Old Speech. Wizards use these names to gain power over what they are naming, but Ged does not know the name of the shadow. The end of the book is both genius and foreshadowed throughout the book. Although the book is short, with few characters, it only makes those words and characters who are there matter more. This book is an amazing classic of literature that should be read by everyone.

Poetry Sunday (1/29/2017): "How the Milky Way Was Made" by Natalie Diaz

For Poetry Sunday, I am recommending "How the Milky Way Was Made" by Natalie Diaz. I hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

MMGM (1/23/2017): A Corner of the Universe by Ann M. Martin

For MMGM, I am recommending A Corner of the Universe, a recipient of the Newbery Honor, by Ann M. Martin.

Here's the publisher's description:

The summer Hattie turns 12, her predictable smalltown life is turned on end when her uncle Adam returns home for the first time in over ten years. Hattie has never met him, never known about him. He's been institutionalized; his condition involves schizophrenia and autism.

Hattie, a shy girl who prefers the company of adults, takes immediately to her excitable uncle, even when the rest of the family — her parents and grandparents — have trouble dealing with his intense way of seeing the world. And Adam, too, sees that Hattie is special, and that her quiet, shy ways are not a disability.

It's hard to come up with an introductory sentence that describes just how amazing this book is. The main character, Hattie, is kind of shy and has only one friend, at least until she meets her uncle Adam. The author depicts Adam's mental illness in a realistic, yet non-insulting, way. Although you know he isn't exactly normal, he doesn't seem crazy. One of the book's major topics is being ashamed because of others, such as Adam's mother seeming somewhat horrified at her son, or another friend that Hattie makes during the summer whose mother works in a visiting carnival. Hattie is a likable main character who seems wise for her age. At the end of the book, something incredibly sad happens, but it is not relentlessly depressing. Although the book does have a somewhat adult moment and the sad occurrence mentioned previously, it is an incredibly beautiful book for everyone.

Poetry Sunday (1/22/2017): "Daylight Savings" by Jill Bialosky

For Poetry Sunday, I am recommending "Daylight Savings" by Jill Bialosky. I hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

MMGM (1/16/2017): Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman

Note: If a glitch sent you here when you were looking for Natalie Aguirre's post, click here.

Firstly, the winners of the New Year's Poetry Contest and their poems have been announced! Click here to read them. Secondly, here are the results of the New Year's resolutions sidebar poll:
  • To read more books: 5
  • To stop buying books that you won't like: 1
  • To get rid of the books you don't need/want: 4
  • To find more books online as opposed to in a store: 1
  • To find more books in a store as opposed to online: 1
  • Total voters: 6
Be sure to enter in either of my sidebar polls (the top one has been reopened, and the old one is new and will close in about 2 weeks)! Finally, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I am recommending a diverse book, which is Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman.

Here's the publisher's description:

A vacant lot, rat-infested and filled with garbage, looked like no place for a garden. Especially to a neighborhood of strangers where no one seems to care. Until one day, a young girl clears a small space and digs into the hard-packed soil to plant her precious bean seeds. Suddenly, the soil holds promise: To Curtis, who believes he can win back Lateesha's heart with a harvest of tomatoes; to Virgil's dad, who sees a fortune to be made from growing lettuce; and even to Maricela, sixteen and pregnant, wishing she were dead.
Thirteen very different voices and perspectives—old, young, Haitian, Hispanic, tough, haunted, and hopeful—tell one amazing story about a garden that transforms a neighborhood.

I love this book! It is set in a neighborhood in Cleveland inhabited by people of many different ethnicities, all of whom have, in the past, been mostly separate. The book is told through the viewpoints of about 15 different characters, each having a different personality and backstory. In the unique story, the characters are changed by the garden and brought together. Each character's story is only about 5 small pages with large font, comprising the 87-page book. However, every moment is important to the story, making it feel just as complex as any longer book would. This is a great book for everyone!

Poetry Sunday (1/15/2017): THE RESULTS!

I am shocked at how many poems were entered in the New Year's Poetry Contest: 8!!! Now, it's time for: THE RESULTS!

Firstly, we have a great untitled poem from Sydney:

One year gone,
With another one come.
How the time flies by,
Too fast for some.

But we need not fear,
For there's good to come.
As we aim to adhere,
To our New Year's resolutions.

Lots of applause! I love the rhyme scheme! Next, we have "New Year Haiku" from Ames:

Baking bread, rising
As is hope, love and prayers
For the glad New Year

I love this poem! I've always loved poems that can distill complexity into a small format! And, last but not least, we have a poem from Voole, entitled, "Central Texas Theme:"

A chill on the sweat,
ending feelings.
A maize truck turning in dry pods for life.

     The big, dull lights come on,
little folks trail to turgid grips of the unready-
vital moments of horn and honk. Grey, bright nights
smelling of Alva Ann, Luling and cottonseed ham.

Spring’s hope? all gone in seeds-gone to seeds.

Juniper pods dry and bursting-clogging the sun
with hope for green life; falling, perhaps, on
me—no life here for little fairy pods breathed
like fire into wet, red caves.

          How lucky to rest, fallow and waiting for
another start—seed pods lingering in kickoff hope.

Renewal hounds the bitter wind. New life.

Heck, he’s bigger than life-he’s our town.
They stand for all of us and we sit for them.
Little seeds braving icy shots and wet ruin.
Better that crash than prospect of red seeds and
cotton snow falling in little roads. Pick up. Hands
and carry, fill it up for no pay.

Cobbler and tobacco, milk for the biggest of the big—
leave the house and hope dies-streamers kill it.
Open streamer cars sending gulps through closed thoughts.
Little pin holes whistling. Rush, rush. Acorns stocking
in little oak hotels, dry and bitter, filled with hope.
Pom Pom sadness.

          Blessed bitter Amarillo wind. No time for holy
soles-zip in the plaid-belly scratch like
a thousand raven lice. My teeth are radios

          I’ll take the jolts; I’ll face New Mexico and
hold on. Life is coming. Dessau sweat again-no chill
there, just another chance-round we go, round we go
Holding on for life.
I’ll open too then and try once more.

I love this poem! I like the descriptive language! All of you should expect 2 emails, one telling you that you're a winner (this will come from Completely Full Bookshelf) and another with your eGift card (this will come from Barnes & Noble). Be sure to check your spam emails if you do not receive your eGift card. Thanks to everyone who entered, and one more round of applause to the winners!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Poetry Sunday (1/8/2016): "Birches" by Robert Frost

For Poetry Sunday, I am recommending "Birches" by Robert Frost. Here is the link. I hope you enjoy it!

Also, be sure to enter the extended New year's Poetry Contest. Click here to enter.

MMGM (1/9/2017): Dumpling Days by Grace Lin

Firstly, I am extending the deadline for the New Year's Poetry Contest for one week! Remember that, if your poem is good enough, you will win a $20 Barnes & Noble eGift card, which you can use in store or on your Nook! Click here to enter. Secondly, for MMGM, I am recommending Dumpling Days by Grace Lin.

Here's the publisher's description:

Pacy is back! The beloved heroine of The Year of the Dog and The Year of the Rat has returned in a brand new story. This summer, Pacy's family is going to Taiwan for an entire month to visit family and prepare for their grandmother's 60th birthday celebration. Pacy's parents have signed her up for a Chinese painting class, and at first she's excited. This is a new way to explore her art talent! But everything about the trip is harder than she thought it would be--she looks like everyone else but can't speak the language, she has trouble following the art teacher's instructions, and it's difficult to make friends in her class. At least the dumplings are delicious...

As the month passes by, Pacy eats chicken feet (by accident!), gets blessed by a fortune teller, searches for her true identity, and grows closer to those who matter most.

I have recommended another book by Grace Lin in the past, When the Sea Turned to Silver. Although this book is the third in a series, it, for the most part, makes sense by itself, and is easily the best of all three great books, which are based on the author's real life. One great part of this book is getting to learn about the culture of Taiwan and how different it is from the United States. Much of the culture is expressed either through short anecdotes, which are very interesting, or through events in the story. The main character, Pacy, often feels out of place in Taiwan or, in the case of her art class, feels less talented than others. However, by the end of the book, Pacy ends up enjoying Taiwan. This book is great for anyone who is interested in other cultures!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

MMGM (1/2/2017): Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin

Firstly, I am holding a New Year's Poetry Contest, where you can enter your own poem(s) about the new year (with reasonable restrictions) for the chance to win a prize! Click here to enter. Secondly, for MMGM, I am recommending Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin.

Here's the publisher's description:

Newbery-winning Rules meets Counting by 7s in this affecting story of a girl’s devotion to her brother and what it means to be home
When eleven-year-old Thyme Owens’ little brother, Val, is accepted into a new cancer drug trial, it’s just the second chance that he needs. But it also means the Owens family has to move to New York, thousands of miles away from Thyme’s best friend and everything she knows and loves. The island of Manhattan doesn’t exactly inspire new beginnings, but Thyme tries to embrace the change for what it is: temporary.

After Val’s treatment shows real promise and Mr. Owens accepts a full-time position in the city, Thyme has to face the frightening possibility that the move to New York is permanent. Thyme loves her brother, and knows the trial could save his life—she’d give anything for him to be well—but she still wants to go home, although the guilt of not wanting to stay is agonizing. She finds herself even more mixed up when her heart feels the tug of new friends, a first crush, and even a crotchety neighbor and his sweet whistling bird. All Thyme can do is count the minutes, the hours, and days, and hope time can bring both a miracle for Val and a way back home.

With equal parts heart and humor, Melanie Conklin’s debut is a courageous and charming story of love and family—and what it means to be counted.

This is one of my favorite books! Firstly, although this book is mainly about Thyme's family's struggle with Val's cancer, the book is not overly depressing. It is, in fact, uplifting! However, it does have many conflicts, such as Thyme's guilt about wanting to leave New York (not helped by the fact that she has somewhat of a plan to return to California, at least for a short time). Thyme's school life is also enjoyable to read about, as she makes friends and deals with a fight between two classmates she has met. The book's characters have strong backstories and personalities, such as Mr. Lipinsky, Thyme's neighbor, who is often grouchy, mostly due to having lost his wife, but who later befriends Thyme. Although this book is sad at many times, it is happy enough to be a great read!

Since it is New Year's, I would like to thank everyone who has allowed this blog to prosper, such as my 5 e-mail subscribers (it may not seem like many, but having any subscribers is amazing!), those who comment on my posts (94 comments have been posted this year!), and those who write awesome books and poems that I can recommend!

Poetry Sunday (1/1/2017): New Year's Poetry Contest

It's New Year's, which means I'm trying something new: the New Year's Poetry Contest! This is a contest which allows you to write your own poem about the new year and possibly have it posted next week in a new post! If yours is posted, you'll even win a prize!  Here's how it works:
  • The three poems which I deem best will be posted next week along with the poets' nicknames (if given).
  • If your poem is selected to be posted next week, you will win a $20 eGift card to Barnes & Noble.
  • Your poems must be about the new year or about New Year's celebrations.
  • To enter, use the Google Form below.
  • Nicknames are not required. Your nickname is simply a way for your poem to be identified if I select it.
  • Email addresses are required (but they will not be publicized and will be deleted after the contest ends) in order for me to send your e-gift card to.
  • The deadline for the contest is (in central daylight time/CDT) 12:00 A.M. (midnight) on January 8 January 15, 2017.
Please enter a poem below!

Update: The contest has ended! Click here for the results.