I’m Still Alive!

I know it’s been a while since I blogged. Sorry about that. I have been sick for over a week now. I’ve been pretty much ignoring the outside world, including email and website. I’m starting to feel better, so there should be some blog stuff soon. I have four books to write up, some pixel/doll stuff to post, and the results of a poll I want to write about. So my blog should be chatty again soon! :)

Two Scoops of Raisin

Ok, so when I first heard of The Secret Blog of Raisin Rodriguez my first step was to check out the website, right? Well the address I found was the one from the book: twoscoopsofraisin.com. So I checked that out. It’s boring. White background, black text off to one side, no intro thing or header or anything, just one blog entry that isn’t even dated. At the time I first looked at it, there wasn’t even a link to the main site (www.raisinrodriguez.com). Now there is at least a link, but it’s still totally boring. I decided that it needed some jazzing up, so I made up a quick html page that looks much better. Here is a picture of the top half of the page! If anyone is interested, I can give you the code. I’m not sure who would want it, though, and it’s pretty basic! Click on the image for a larger version.

Book: Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More Than IQ

Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More Than IQ
Daniel Goleman
1995

This is a fascinating book. The discussion of what emotional intelligence is and how to develop it is well written and compelling. There are times in the book when it gets a little bogged down with biology and how the brain works, but never for too long (I never had to put the book down because of it). The writing is generally clear enough for a reader with little background in the technical aspects of this kind of discussion. There were times when the brain chemistry and biology got a little confusing, but there was generally a summary that explained the concepts at the end of technical discussions.

The title suggested that the book would focus on how emotional intelligence influences education and how schools should foster emotional intelligence, but that wasn’t the case at all. The book rarely mentioned IQ and only spent perhaps a third of the book discussing educational topics related to emotional intelligence. There were fascinating chapters on marital relations (which it might not be a bad idea for people who are engaged or married to be required to read at some point), business relations, and familial relations. The author gave many examples from studies that sound fascinating and often made me want to look up the studies to learn more. There were good examples given of emotional intelligence in practice as well as examples of where someone was not using good emotional intelligence. There were also a great number of startling statistics that really drove home the need for better emotional intelligence among people today.

This book was very interesting to read and connected very well with Bettelheim’s The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales. I would love to see a study done about the use of fairy tales in improving emotional intelligence. As Goleman discussed the different types of educational programs that focus on emotional intelligence, I found myself wondering if adding fairy tales to those classes would be beneficial. Given what Bettelheim says, it seems likely. It’s an interesting idea and would be very interesting to investigate more.

This was a wonderful book. I highly recommend it to anyone, but would like to see more parents and teachers being required to read it.

Books: The Secret Blog of Raisin Rodriguez

The Secret Blog of Raisin Rodriguez
Judy Goldschmidt
2005

This is a fun new book from Razorbill, an imprint of the Penguin group and specializes in teen and “tween” books. It’s in the form of a blog, complete with comments from Raisin’s friends, written by a very vivacious and opinionated 13-year-old girl. Raisin begins the blog to keep in touch with her friends in Berkley, CA after her mother remarries and moves the family to Philadelphia. She discusses everything from beauty tips to personal feelings and opinions about her classmates. The book is fun to read and feels like a real girl’s blog, full of very real reactions and emotions.

The writing style of The Secret Blog of Raisin Rodriguez is very realistic and fun. The voice very much feels like that of a 13-year-old girl who wants very badly to be popular and accepted. The story has enough plot to be coherent and solid, but there are also plenty of random little thoughts and touches that make the book feel like it was written by a real girl describing her life on a day to day basis. The emotions are very real and they change quickly in ways that are very believable. Most refreshing of all is Raisin’s humour and style. She has a very real sense of humour and it is a lot of fun to read her thoughts. The book goes very quickly because of the realism of the writing style, and I found that I wanted more when I got to the end!

The plot of this book is a lot of fun. There are a few over the top touches, like a dog swallowing a bra, but none of them felt out of place. The characters had personality and rarely stuck to stereotypes. It was refreshing to see the popular girl break down and show weakness, the alternative kids be real and not just scary, and the strange kid who draws cartoons all the time seen as a potential date (even if he never knew that). The book also felt very modern. Raisin had very current opinions and feelings about things. For example, she didn’t want to get her period because she didn’t want the pain, embarrassment and annoyance it brings as well as not wanting to be an adult (which getting your period implies). This was very different from the girls in books from even just a decade ago, who wanted to get their periods, but it is a very modern attitude. Girls today know more specifically what menstruation brings and thus usually don’t want it. Touches like that made it very evident that this book was about a girl growing up now and not even just ten years ago. I liked that about the book. Usually books about teen/tweenagers feel like the characters are growing up half now and half when the author (or Judy Blume) was growing up, but Raisin was completely modern. I liked that for it’s freshness and uniqueness.

This book reminded me of the Georgia Nicholson books by Louise Rennison both because of the freshness of it and the style (although Georgia’s book are diary-like with no readers implied, unlike Raisin’s). I loved those books, but this had something that those didn’t. The idea that this was a blog, and the addition of outside comments from her friends with opinions other than those of the main character gave this a different twist. Raisin was obviously writing for an audience, which puts a different twist on her writing, which Georgia is writing basically for herself. It was also fun to see this type of book with a very American feeling to it (much as I love the British, variety is good). It set this book apart from those. As similar as they are, I enjoyed both very much and for very different reasons.

I very much enjoyed this book. It was fun and modern. The writing was enjoyable to read and the main character was extremely likable. I would love to see more books by this author and definitely recommend this book!

Movie Lessons: Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

- Don’t bond with evil incarnate.
- If a trusted friend comes and says your very unstable and whiney husband has turned to the dark side, don’t go off to look for him by yourself.
- Don’t underestimate the sneekyness of small green people or small droids.
- Female jedis are apparently really easy to kill.
- If Yoda says the boy is not ok, don’t give him more power.
- If evil incarnate gets up and says “I’m making myself emperer and taking all your power” don’t cheer.
- Don’t piss off Yoda. Or Obi Wan.

Book: Snow White and Rose Red

Snow White and Rose Red
Patricia C. Wrede
1989

This was an interesting book. It took the fairy tale “Snow White and Rose Red” (specifically the Grimms’ version) and novelised it in an English Elizabethan setting. The descriptions (especially of the forest) were wonderful and in general the writing was smooth and enjoyable to read. The problems arose with the somewhat awkwardly formal dialogue and the lack of depth in many of the characters. Fairy tales usually have fairly flat characters, but it is frustrating in a novel. While some of the secondary characters the author invented had personality, it was hard to see past the strict stereotypes that Blanche and Rosamund stay firmly within. I could always predict what they would do or feel before the author described it, which was frustrating.

That said, the story was fairly interesting. While her adaptation lost some of the meaning and focus of the fairy tale, the story was intricate and interesting to read. The inclusion of the fairies was interesting as well as the strong undercurrent of fear of witchcraft. The various types of characters worked well within the story together with their various motivations and abilities. The only disconcerting part of the plot was the distressing lack of constancy in the rules. I was never quite sure what was possible for any given character at any given moment because they never stuck to one set of rules for what they could or could not achieve by their magic. It was enjoyable to read overall, however.

This was an entertaining book to read, but I would only really recommend it if you have a strong interest in novelization of fairy tales. Otherwise there are much better fantasy novels out there.

New Doll

This doll was made for a contest at Eden Enchanted run by Amy_Tenchi. There was a table with different types of clothing and different colors. When you decided to enter Amy-Tenchi rolled a series of dice rolls for you to determine what kinds of clothing and what colors your doll would wear! This is my “Doll Through Dice” entry!

New Contest Entries and a New Shop Order

Today I have six new entries in the Inhabitants of Neverland Contest. They are all really cool, so go check them out!

I also have a new shop order from ChynaCat’s Shop at Eden Enchanted. It’s a really cool magic kit to go with the magic book and wand I won! I love it!

Book: Seedfolks

“How Otto Brought the Sun Back to Plov”
Paul Fleischman
illustrated by Allan Eitzen
1987 – featured in Cricket 34/1 (September 2006)

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Seedfolks
Paul Fleischman
1997 (HarperTrophy/HarperCollins)

This is a wonderful book. It is very uplifting and optimistic! The hope and faith in human goodness is like a breath of fresh air. The idea of the community garden slowly growing out of a small neighborhood full of culturally diverse people is a wonderful one. The characters were wonderfully varied, each completely different from each other outwardly, but all with many of the same desires and goals. And yet they all had a different reason for or way of participating in the wonderful garden.

My favorite character, hands down, was Leona. She managed to claw her way through the bureaucratic nightmare that is government (through some wonderfully creative methods) and get the garbage cleaned out of the empty lot. The English woman who found a way for her elderly charge to participate was also wonderful. The contest for the children to find ways of getting water to the garden was a great touch as well.

This is a wonderful book and everyone should pick it up! It’s incredibly short, so it’s not a big time commitment for a wonderful experience!

- Publisher’s Description
- Buy it from Amazon

Awards Up!

The awards have been posted for the Literary Character Ball Contest! Go check them out! And congratulations to all the winners!

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