Review November, Coming Soon!

Just popping in to let you know that the amazing Sarah Holman and I are hosting Review November at the Homeschooled Authors blog. 😉 We’ll be posting our reviews of books by homeschooled authors. Believe it or not, we’ve found enough to post one every day; and those are only the books we’ve read this year! It’s gonna be a ton of fun, and we can’t wait to see you over there. 😉

7b1583df8117f6b98b0f4328b81f6c64

Hope you had a happy Reformation and pre-NaNoWriMo day! 😉

Little Free Library Love

We first discovered Little Free Libraries in a book checked out from our regular library. Basically, it’s a small cabinet (almost like a big birdhouse) set up in a central location for neighbors to “take a book, leave a book”. I loved this community-building idea so much, I spent time looking at the website and searching pictures of creative ideas for making your own.

Then I found one near us. *happy dance*

lfl2

Isn’t it beautiful? When we first came across it, it was completely neglected and empty. We just so happened to have stock from our used book business with us, so we could fill it to bursting.

This picture is actually from our second visit several months later. This time there were a few dusty flyers, which we replaced nicely as you can see. 😉

lfl1

Isn’t it beautiful? (Note to self: stop saying that.)

I was going through more stock the other day and discovered quite a few good Christmas books that won’t sell well but would be perfect for the library. Now I can’t wait to visit it again! 😉

Have you ever been to a Little Free Library? The website includes a handy-dandy map for finding one near you, and I may have just found one even closer to us. 😀

Free Writing Book!

As my siblings gear up for NaNoWriMo, many questions, story ideas, last minute plot changes, and versions of synopses fly around the house.

I help when I can with such wise words as “that was really cliche”, “what if you introduced them this way”, “I like the idea of Christmas”, and so on.

One of the things mentioned has gotten me especially excited, NaNoWriMo or not.

Two words: free book. Make that: free how-to book.

I’m a huge fan of K.M. Weiland’s book Structuring Your Novel. Comprehensive, engaging, and full of great examples, it was my first introduction to the concept of story structure.

My brother tells me that her book 5 Secrets of Story Structure (which is currently free!) is even better and shorter to boot. 😉 Just a few things he’s told me from it have really piqued my interest and made me want to read it in an hour with my outline in hand. 😉

Go grab your copy and may the 50,000 words be ever in your favor.

Book Review: Storming

storming“In the high-flying, heady world of 1920s aviation, brash pilot Robert “Hitch” Hitchcock’s life does a barrel roll when a young woman in an old-fashioned ball gown falls from the clouds smack in front of his biplane. As fearless as she is peculiar, Jael immediately proves she’s game for just about anything, including wing-walking in his struggling airshow. In return for her help, she demands a ride back home . . . to the sky. 

Hitch thinks she’s nuts—until he steers his plane into the midst of a bizarre storm and nearly crashes into a strange airship like none he’s ever run afoul of, an airship with the power to control the weather. Caught between a corrupt sheriff and dangerous new enemies from above, Hitch must take his last chance to gain forgiveness from his estranged family, deliver Jael safely home before she flies off with his freewheeling heart, and save his Nebraska hometown from storm-wielding sky pirates. 

Cocky, funny, and full of heart, Storming is a jaunty historical/dieselpunk mash-up that combines rip-roaring adventure and small-town charm with the thrill of futuristic possibilities.” (from Goodreads)

I thoroughly enjoyed this adventure by K.M. Weiland. 😉 I loved the characters; complicated, realistic Hitch and stubborn, sweet Jael were an awesome flying duo. (I grinned every time she scared him.) 😉 I couldn’t help liking Griff in spite of myself, and Walter was sweet. His big moment was so unexpected! The author did a good job making me thoroughly hate the antagonists. Don’t ask me to pick my least favorite. Oh, and the Berringers made me laugh! Good job making Hitch apologize for that horrid “joke”, boys. They were responsible for the comic relief sprinkled amongst a ton of heart-pounding action (except when it slows down enough to make you cry. Grrr.). Seriously amazing. I would not recommend this book for younger readers because of intense action (including infliction of knife wounds and people falling from great heights without parachutes), some slight romance, and Hitch’s past which makes people automatically doubt his motives towards women.

Best quote: “I will tell you in car.” She gestured to J.W.’s jalopy. “Should I drive?” “No, you should not drive.”

Altogether, I found this to be a great read for young adults who enjoy dieselpunk. 😉

Holly Ciampi Interview

img_3679Join me in welcoming my friend and fellow blogger Holly Ciampi to Once Upon an Ordinary! *applause*

Hello all! Glad to be here!

Holly, tell us a bit about yourself.

First and foremost, I am believer in the One True living God! I am an eighteen year old daughter, of two amazing parents and sister to six siblings. My family and I live in the warm and sunny state of Arizona (that state where you can actually bake cookies in your car and burn like a piece of toast!) Like Kate already mentioned, I am a blogger, but also a musician, photographer and artist. I enjoy reciting scripture, sunsets, flowers, smiles, dolphins, singing, reading and of course, writing!

What made you first decide to start Noble Novels? Tell us your vision behind it.

nnbuttonVery good question! At the time I was slowly advancing in my writing and wanted to share my stories with others, specifically for the benefit of constructive feedback. I began searching online for a place to share my writings, but as I looked, most of the sites required that you either be a published author or pay a fee. Some even required that you be a special age! Discouraged, I began thinking. What if I created a place where young, aspiring authors/writers could share their stories with each other and for free? Plus, I wanted some Christian, kid-friendly site, that parents wouldn’t mind their children being on. It was then one Saturday in August 2013, Noble Novels was born! I began working on creating a website (http://noblenovels.weebly.com) that now has over 500 pageviews a week! Over the last few years, Noble Novels has grown to include 16 advanced and beginner authors, who share stories often! Plus, Noble Novels has had many special features added, including inspiration pages, committee stories page, and much more!

How can people join?

It is as easy as filling out two simple forms on the Join Us page! Once the forms are submitted, I will check them out and decide whether to accept you or not. (New authors wishing to join Noble Novels have to go through the process of approval, as a safeguard, to keep Noble Novels a kid-friendly site.) After that, I will set up a special page for you and will add you to the writing schedule! It’s as easy as that! Have any questions? Check out Noble Novels, FAQ page, or contact me through the Contact page.

What is your favorite part about the ordinary life God has blessed you with?

Probably my family, music and chocolate! If it weren’t for my family, my crazy dreams wouldn’t come true and there would be no encouraging support behind my plans! Life without music would be dreadful, gloomy and just plain boring! And without chocolate, there would be no comfort when you have writer’s block! 😛

Any further plans?

Yes, always! Currently, I am working on a special membership for Noble Novels which will (Lord willing) be launched in mid January. It will take Noble Novels to the next level, providing aspiring or published authors help, inspiration, encouragement, community connections, access to special features and much more!

Thank you so much for coming!

Thanks so much for having me!

Book or Movie?

I watched the movie adaptation of The Book Thief earlier this year and fell in love with it. (Because it’s about words!) ;D

16e70a9d1516f63761c3ec2ab6984a7e

Then I got to immerse myself in a filtered copy of the book these past two months, and I fell even harder in love with it. *big grin*

55094129a241e9fac010a00ee6f817a3

If you asked me which one I would recommend, I might stare at you with my mouth hanging open and gibber. My brain would steam. And then I would whimper and say, “Both?”

Reasons why the book is better:

  1. Longer all around. More happiness, more sorrow, more Himmel Street, more Max, more depth.
  2. Reeeaaaallly good quotes.
  3. Backstory (because it’s longer).
  4. Max’s books.

2d80f781a78e86dab76fab2318829a91

Reasons why the movie is better:

  1. You actually get to “see” the characters. (And they did a superb job of casting!)
  2. It’s easier to edit especially if you watch it on a filter here.
  3. Reeeaaaallly good quotes. They differ from the book, but I wouldn’t trade either. 😉
  4. The story stays on Himmel Street, so it’s less violent but still a movie for highschool age viewers.

1c3ec83e3198fab27f120c7940423640

Like I said before, it’s too hard to decide. I love them both. 😉

Do you usually prefer original books or their movie adaptations?

Two Sisters and White-Out

I was reading The Book Thief aloud to my younger sister (the one who bravely wore the crazy nerd glasses with me in this post).

Mom had so kindly attacked it with white-out for me since I don’t want to expand my mental vocabulary in the profanity department. 😉

I spotted a word she had accidentally missed and decided to mark it out myself while I was there.

I spilled white-out.

And got a bit on my hands. I was in a mischievous mood, so I wiped a little on my sister’s hand too so we could match. 😉

Tip: don’t do that. It doesn’t come off well.

It takes about half an hour of scrubbing with soap and oil and who knows what else we tried. 😉 And it’s slightly itchy afterwards and induces “are we going to die?” conversations and reading of fine print. Not to mention giggling.

But it did make for a crazy memory; and I had fun reading with you, sis. Especially all the quoting and sobbing. Let’s go shake some words. 😉

Book Review: The Book Thief!!!

19063“It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . 

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.” (from Goodreads)

WARNING: Very expletive heavy with a few very rude comments/scenes. My rating is based on an edited copy. 😉

From the opening pages of this book, the writing style is simply delicious. The author used perfect original word pictures that delighted me. I smiled over Himmel Street soccer, reading lessons with Papa, and sketches of Max portrayed as a bird. I grew to love every character (even Frau Holtzapfel!) except the Fuhrer. I didn’t know how much I had grown to hate him until I cheered inwardly when SPOILER ALERT! his picture was stepped on. I cried my eyes out over various sections of the book, but the ending just did me in. I could barely make it through the last ten pages or so. *huge grin* It was very long and artistic (perfect for a rainy day! <3) and the writing style made it feel like a real biography.

In order to properly gush about the book I must review the characters themselves. I think I’ll talk about them in ascending order of my favorites. 😉

Rosa Hubermann: Giver of watschens and fierce love.
Rosa is a tiger mama. Downright frightening at some points, but she’d give her life for her family or those in her care if called on to. At the beginning of the story she’s one dimensional and frightening; but by the end you love her and understand her so much better. My favorite part with her was when SPOILER ALERT! she comes to school to get Liesel. The only thing I didn’t like was that she was responsible for 75% of the foul language. She calls everyone by a derogatory term which is eventually seen as endearing when we find out how she actually loves them. (Although, I still find calling someone you love those names a bit twisted.)

Rudy Steiner: Jesse Owens and the boy whose hair was the color of lemons.
Oh, Rudy. He steps on my heart, that boy. I didn’t really like him in the movie–to me he was just an immature little squirt who was looking for a kiss. In the book he is all of those things, but he was also growing into a very good young man. I really started to love him (I nearly died when SPOILER ALERT! he gave that Allied pilot a teddy bear) and wanted to see him mature even further. One of the things he did was very Hans Hubermann of him; and, even though his code of conduct is a little mixed up, he was an oddly chivalrous and hilarious best friend to Liesel. 😉

Best quote: In the middle of the exchange, Liesel tripped on a bump in the floor. A mannequin followed her down. It groped her arm and dismantled its clothes on top of her. “Get this thing off me!” It was in four pieces. The torso and head, the legs, and two separate arms. When she was rid of it, Liesel stood and wheezed. Rudy found one of the arms and tapped her on the shoulder with its hand. When she turned in fright, he extended it in friendship. “Nice to meet you.”

Liesel Meminger: the book thief and SPOILER ALERT! wordshaker.
She was the main character. The one who SPOILER ALERT! read aloud to her neighbors, brought Max a snowman for Christmas, and stole a smoking book. The one who hated the words and loved them. The one who planted the seed. The one who SPOILER ALERT! was always left behind. When the story starts out, she doesn’t understand what is going on at all. (At one point it’s described as “the Jews were going to Dachau to ‘concentrate’. Whatever that means.) The crisis she has when she realizes what going on is very interesting. SPOILER ALERT! I think Max’s book was meant to prepare her for that. It was so sweet of him to write it.

Best quote: She didn’t dare to look up, but she could feel their frightened eyes hanging on to her as she hauled the words in and breathed them out. A voice played the notes inside her. This, it said, is your accordion.

Hans Hubermann: the man with with the accordion heart and silver eyes of kindness.
Papa is pretty much trying to stay out of politics when we first meet him, but when he decides to do what is right it’s impossible to stay neutral. I really loved him. He’s so comfortable, caring, and conflicted. He treated Liesel as if she were his own daughter and offered to teach her to read even when he could barely read himself. ❤ He had so much soul and gave so much.

Best quote: “Better that we leave the paint behind,” Hans told her, “than ever forget the music.”

Max Vandenburg: the Jewish fistfighter who stole the sky. (<3 ❤ <3)
(Of course he would be my favorite since he’s an author.) 😉 When Max comes to Himmel Street he is so broken by the world’s opinion of him and his own guilt and memories. (The author did such a good job with his backstory!) He and Liesel shared a beautiful friendship, and the basement sessions were some of my favorite parts of the book. I loved the books SPOILER ALERT! he wrote for Liesel, and the effect they had on both of their lives. It was also amazing of him to SPOILER ALERT! leave their house when he thought he would endanger them. I really loved this character. (And I’m part of the camp that is convinced he SPOILER ALERT! married Liesel later on.) 😉

Best quote: They sat a few meters apart, speaking very rarely, and there was only the noise of turning pages.

There is one more character I should mention. I really can’t decide what I think of him.

The Narrator: death.
I understand why the author chose this storytelling device (a very witty and good one too!). Who would be better to narrate a story during wartime? It was also important to the point of the story, but I found it odd how he could just SPOILER ALERT! arrive and collect a souls whenever someone died. What exactly did he do with them? I really would have appreciated God being in the story at this point.

While I really LOVE this book and underlined way too many amazing quotes, I wouldn’t recommend this story for anyone younger than highschool age even with an edited copy. This is a war story; and, while most of the descriptions are handled suprisingly well, everything having to do with the SPOILER ALERT! Holtzapfel brothers particularly the chapters “The Snows of Stalingrad” and “The Ninety-Eighth Day” is very violent. Also the children have a dubious code of conduct, since stealing is major theme of the book. 😉 If you would like something less artistic and less violent, I suggest the movie on a language filter. 😉 (Although it’s so abridged that the book is really better…) 😉

I loved this book soooo much! It was so broken and beautiful. I wish I could leave you with more quotes or give you an edited copy and make you read it. For now, I’ll just have to hope that this review did its work. 😉

Happy Endings

I love sunshine, ice cream, laughter, and music. I love a story that makes me all warm inside and quote-happy for weeks, but I also love the stories that make me cry. There is spring, and there is autumn. There is blue sky, and there is rain.

92f9a2717d9150618eebea96343f473d

Some books like Gossamer teach me compassion for others by showing me how hard their lives are.

Others like The Book Thief (which I will be reviewing here tomorrow) and The Doll With the Yellow Star show me another world that makes me grateful for my own.

And still others like Dreamlander and Rose of Prophecy remind me of the loving sacrifice of Christ and make me cry doubly as hard. 😉

But if you must make me cry my heart out, please give it back. Spring turns into winter. Death turns into life. So give me a glimmer of hope, because I believe in happy endings.

95a73aaddbc12abba6c460c8926cd945