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! :)
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.
Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More Than IQ
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 wasnít 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 Bettelheimís 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. Itís 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.
The Secret Blog of Raisin Rodriguez
This is a fun new book from Razorbill, an imprint of the Penguin group and specializes in teen and ďtweenĒ books. Itís in the form of a blog, complete with comments from Raisinís 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 girlís 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 Raisinís 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 didnít want to get her period because she didnít 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 donít 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 itís 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 Georgiaís book are diary-like with no readers implied, unlike Raisinís). I loved those books, but this had something that those didnít. 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!
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.
Snow White and Rose Red
Patricia C. Wrede
This was an interesting book. It took the fairy tale ďSnow White and Rose RedĒ (specifically the Grimmsí 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.
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!
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!
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 neighbourhood 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 favourite character, hands down, was Leona. She managed to claw her way through the beurocratic 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! Itís incredibly short, so itís not a big time commitment for a wonderful experience!
The awards have been posted for the Literary Character Ball Contest! Go check them out! And congratulations to all the winners!
There is a new entry up on the Current Contest Page for the Neverland Contest. It's a mermaid! She's cool, so check her out!
Petrosinella: A Neapolitan Rapunzel
Tranlator: John Edward Taylor
Illustrator: Diane Stanley
This is a rather interesting version of Rapunzel. The end of the story is very different from the usual version (although it does end happily ever after). The witch is an ogress in this version and is keeping Petrosinella in the tower by a magic charm on some acorns. To escape, Petrosinella has to retrieve the acorns and take them with her. After successfully escaping, Petrosinella and the prince must flee from the pursuing ogress and Petrosinella saves them by throwing the magic acorns behind her (they turn into animals and kill the ogress). I have never read a version of the story quite like this and it is interesting. I wish I knew the history of it. Basile wrote it, but I donít know where he heard it. My suspicion is that it is a local version, since it does feel like a folk tale.
The illustrations in this book are pleasing, but not terribly remarkable. The style is like that of many other picture books. The characters have wonderful embroidered outfits and Petrosinellaís hair is beautifully done. The ogress and her friend have a very eastern European, gypsy feel and rather remind me of Baba Yaga in appearance. The buildings and backgrounds are very Italian, which is perfect for the very Italian story. I like the pictures very much. They are appropriate for the story.
This is an interesting story. I would recommend it to anyone particularly interested in fairy tales from various parts of the world.
Hans Christian Andersen
Translator: Eva Le Gallienne
Illustrator: Nancy Ekholm Burkert
I love this story. It is so beautifully constructed. It has funny parts, poignantly sad parts, and wonderfully happy parts. The emperor is such a great character and I just love the little kitchen girl. This is a good translation. It is smooth, clear, and doesnít lose the charm of the story.
The pictures in this book are wonderful! There are only small one-colour pictures on the pages with text, but between the two-page spreads of text are large beautiful full-colour picture two-page spreads. The pictures are wonderfully well done. The style is very reminiscent of Chinese art (they remind me of silk paintings) and the colours are soft, but beautifully done. They match the story wonderfully.
I very much recommend this picture book. Itís one of the best illustrated versions of this story I have ever seen and the children I read it to just adored it.
The Twelve Dancing Princesses
This is a beautiful picture book. Itís a lovely retelling of the story, although there are some loose ends that never quite get explained. The kids I read it to wondered about some of them. Nevertheless, it is a retelling of my favourite version of the story, so I like it a lot. And like most of Sandersonís fairy tales it is written very clearly and smoothly. She uses fairy tale language and is careful to keep in the important pieces of information and the important storytelling techniques. I really like her telling.
The other major part of the book is, of course, the pictures. They are classic Sanderson and, thus, beautiful. The detail is amazing. My favourite thing is that each princess has two different outfits in the book and none of the outfits are the same (usually this story shows twelve girls in identical dresses of different colours). The girls look different too, which is nice. The dresses and hairstyles are very fairy tale-like and elegant. The backgrounds, particularly in the fantasy world the princesses visit, are amazing. I love the detail on the trees and leaves. Each page is beautiful.
I definitely recommend this picture book version of the story. Itís well told and beautifully illustrated.
To console myself about the bird (at least a little), I'm taking an idea from Abby and adopting a cute virtual pet that I can play with! Isn't she adorable?
|adopt your own virtual pet!|
I hate driving. Most of those of you who know me have probably heard this. I really hate driving. I do it all the time, but I hate it. Today I may have figured out why. I killed a bird today. I'm very very upset about this. What if the bird had a mate or chicks/eggs? What if it didn't die instantly and suffered by the side of the road for a while? I feel awful that I couldn't stop to see what happened to it. Normally when people kill animals while driving it's because they run into or over them, right? Well, I've killed two animals with my car. This bird and a squirrel on the first time I ever drove by myself with no one else in the car, the day I got my license. I didn't run over either one. Both fell out of the sky. The bird was flying past the car (after another bird that sucessfully made it across the road) and it turned mid-flight... right into my windshield. I was going 55 miles per hour. It hit my windshield with it's head. I hope it died quickly! I feel awful. The squirrel was even worse. I was less than a block away from my parents house and it fell out of a tree onto the roof of my car. And bounced onto the trunk and then the ground. And died. I had to stop because I was so upset. Have you ever seen a squirrel fall out of a tree? Or, for that matter, a bird fly into a moving car? I mean, seriously! Is there someone up in the sky who finds it funny to throw small animals onto my car? If so, I would like to file a formal protest! I feel terrible about it. The squirrel died eight years ago and I still feel terrible about it! Hopefully no more animals will fall out of the sky onto me. I may have to start rethinking driving entirely if that happens. *sigh*
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
This was a very good book. It didnít focus on the plot, although there was one, but rather on the various characters in the story and how they reacted to and influenced everything going on around them. The world that the story took place in was wonderful, very fleshed out (down to legends and forgotten folk tales) and as a result it felt delightfully three-dimensional. The characters were also very well done. They felt like very real people with real wants, fears, and reactions. Their interactions with each other were shown beautifully. It was a pleasure to read about them!
The way Clarke dealt with magic was fascinating. She focused on the importance of study and understanding what came before for much of the book, but then also stressed the shortcomings of such an approach. She set up a very real debate between simple study and actual practice of magic, giving each reasonable strengths and weaknesses. It was very interesting and that debate (which was very central to the story) was perhaps the most interesting part of the whole story.
I also found Mr. Norrellís refusal to share magic with anyone, and the various issued raised by that, very interesting. His attempts to legally refuse anyone access to any books on magic and his near hysteria whenever any kind of magical text became remotely available to anyone else were an interesting touch to the story and his character. He really did feel like a stubborn old professor high in a tower hoarding knowledge!
Strange was and interesting character as well. The portrait Clarke paints of him as a somewhat fashionable young magician was appealing, but made it sometimes hard to trust him. This worked wonderfully as a counterpoint to Mr. Norrell. Arabella Strange, Mr. Strangeís wife, was another wonderful character. She felt very real and very much like someone I would want as a friend. Her patience with her husband was truly astonishing sometimes, but never felt too strained.
In general, I really enjoyed this book. Itís huge, and I found that bothersome at first, but the style and length of the story feel perfect once you get into it. It also never felt long, it was always fun to sit down and read. I recommend this book, but only to those with patience and arm strength!
In the past week or so this website has had a lot of work done on it, but hopefully none of that has been evident at all! Anyway, Michael changed some things so that the website would be easier for me to work on and add to and it took some time to change the whole site over to the new system. Today I finished that and I started a new section of the website that I have been planning for quite some time.
This should come as no shock to anyone, but the new section is all about books! There is a link to it on the sidebar now. It can be found Here and I hope that you check it out. The Favorite First Sentences page has been moved to the new book page. There is also a page with Book News, two pages of my thoughts and reviews of specific books, a page of my Thoughts on Books and a page of Book Related Links (some of which used to be in the sidebar, but have now been moved to the new page).
I want to draw particular attention today to my newest review, which can be found on the Non-Fiction page. It is about The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales by Bruno Bettelheim, a really good book about the psychological importance of fairy tales. It's one of my favorite books and I hope that people read what I have to say about it!
From now on, when I add something to that page it will either be posted here as well or a link to it will be posted here (that way it's easy for me to tell you when things are added). I'm excited about this new section and hope that it works out well!
Ok, a short while ago I posted about the intended sequel for Peter and Wendy by J. M. Barrie. If you missed that post about my thoughts on the whole idea, it's Here. It's a rather long rant, just so you know.
Anyway, the author has been announced. Her name is Geraldine McCaughrean. She has written a large number of books, many of them for children. Many of them are focused on mythology. I don't recognize her name, but she has apparently won a number of awards for her children's books. I plan to go check out some of her work (probably starting with her award-winners) and I'll post about what I think!
The working title of the book is Captain Pan, which I don't like very much, and I know that Captain Hook is a character in it, which will involve some interesting reworking of the end of Peter and Wendy when the crocodile gets him. We'll see what she comes up with. I hope that she does well, but I am still very nervious about it. I'll let you all know what I find!
The trailer for the new movie of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis was released today. It's going to appear during The Magical World of Disney tonight on ABC as well as on the Disney Channel and a few other networks. It is not up on the Official Movie Site yet, but is supposed to be there on May 11. The official site is not the best place to go for news, but they do have some cool features about how the sets and stuff were done. I found it worth a look. That said, I get most of my Narnia news from NarniaWeb.com. They have the trailer up. It's worth watching, but it made me even more nervious about the movie than I was. I'm excited to see the movie, I adore the Narnia books, but a lot of the characters and stuff just don't look right to me. And that bothers me. I guess that happens with most movies, though, so I'll have to deal! Anyway, check out the new trailer (NarniaWeb has screenshots and other cool stuff too)!
Today I have two more dolls from Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. The first (in white and blue) is Mrs Arabella Strange, the pretty young wife of Jonathan Strange, and the second (in black) is a log of moss-oak pretending to be Mrs Arabella Strange. Don't ask. It mostly makes sense in the book. Mostly...
There is another new entry in the Literary Character Ball Contest! Check it out!
I have updated the D&D Page with the description that Alan provided for Teves! Sorry that took so long, Alan!
Go to the Current Contest Page to see the first entry to the Inhabitants of Neverland Contest! I hope to see lots more!
There are also two new adorable shop orders from Kya's shop at Eden Enchanted. I think that they are adorable!
Today Viv listed a set of book questions and her answers. At the end she asked me to answer them too, so here are my answers!
You are stuck inside Fahrenheit 451 (where books must be memorized, since they are burned). Which book would you be?
Tough one. I would have to say The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales by Bruno Bettelheim. It's a book about the importance of stories in human development. It seems appropriate to memorize a book about the importance of literature in a setting where books are burned. And I absolutely adore this book. It's brilliant and every parent should be required to read it. I'll blog about it more later.
Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
Of course! I had a major crush on Prince Gwydion from the Prydain series when I was younger. I've also had crushes on Prince Andrei Bolkonsky from War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, Peter Pan from Peter and Wendy by J. M. Barrie, Konstantin Levin from Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and way too many others for me to list or remember!
What is the last book you bought?
Not counting comic book trade paperbacks, the last book I bought was Mother Goose in Prose by L. Frank Baum. It's the first children's book that Baum wrote and I'm really excited to have found a copy. It is a collection of short stories that he wrote for his sons to explain why the strange things that happen in nursery rhymes happened. It's very interesting.
What are you currently reading?
I'm always reading at least two books at a time. Currently I'm reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke and I'm rereading (for the sixth or seventh time) The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales by Bruno Bettelheim. I love the Bettelheim book, obviously, and always learn new things when I read it. Susanna Clarke's novel is interesting, if odd. I'm generally enjoying reading it.
Five books for your desert island cruise package.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (no surprise there to anyone, I trust)
Peter and Wendy by J. M. Barrie (again, I hope that doesn't surprise anyone)
The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales by Bruno Bettelheim
A child psychology textbook (preferably a fairly new one)
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (because it's an amazing book and I would love to reread it six or seven times, and a desert island would give me the time to do it)
Who are you going to pass this book meme baton to and why? (only three people).
Michael: because I want to see what he would pick besides Cryptonomicon!
Alan: because he's an interesting guy and I would love to see what he would say!
Heather: because she always has interesting things to say and I'd love to hear her opinions about books.
There are two new gifts from Fractured Fairytales. There are also three new entries to the Literary Character Ball contest. Check them out!
Ok, you guys all know that I only very very very very rarely discuss anything political on my blog. I generally hate politics. I follow the news, I have opinions, I do care very much, I just hate discussing the stuff because of the reactions from the people around me when I do (both the people who agree with me and the people who don't). Basically, I would rather not discuss news until I can fix the way people discuss news, and since that isn't likely to happen any time soon, I just avoid doing it.
Anyway, I just had to post this one since I think everyone should at least be aware it's happening and think about it. In Florida (everybody's favorite state), there is a 13 year old girl who is a ward of the state being denied an abortion. News Story Here! She's in court about this now.
Seriously, I get the arguement that she is likely to feel bad about the decision later, but she's 13! Isn't it pretty likely that she is going to feel bad about any decision she makes? I mean, if I were 13 and pregnant, I don't even *know* what would be going through my head, but being told that I absolutely had no choice and had to carry the baby to term (which is more likely than I would be comfortable with to be bad for me and for the baby), I'd be pretty upset. This girl knows that she isn't old enough or mature enough to raise a child or deal with the incredible emotional burden of putting it up for adoption. I'm not saying abortion should be an easy choice for her, it shouldn't. But perhaps it would be better for her to have counciling and someone to talk to who might help her come to whatever is right for her and her baby (whatever that may be) than make her go through the messy judicial process with people who can't even tell her why she can't make her own decisions! Read the article. It's important.
Yay! There is a new contest! The old contest is closed except for the few people who still have a week to get me their entries. It can now be found on the Past Contests page of the site. On to the new contest! This month I want to see people from Neverland! There are five types of people on Neverland: pirates, indians, mermaids, fairies and lost boys. Any of those types of people are fair game, but no major characters are allowed! Details can be found on the Current Contest page. Check it out! And of course, I have some example dolls! Here they are! A fairy, a lost boy, a mermaid and a pirate. I hope to have an indian up soon.
This last doll isn't a contest example, it was made for a challenge at Dolls of the Round Table.
Ok, I'm officially wierded out about the state of children's books right now. I just found out that there is a new book called The Secret Blog of Raisin Rodriguez by Judy Goldschmidt. This is a book that reads exactly like a blog, comments and everything. There is a very brief description of it here. It sounds kind of intriguing, if not terribly innovative in plot. I'm not sure if I'm scared or excited that blogs are not suitable material for books. Anyway, I'm rather interested in it. I may try to get it from the library at some point or something.
Oh, and the website listed in the book as the location of the fictional blog is twoscoopsofraisin.com, which does exist as the blog belonging to the book character, but rather than the rather cool webiste that it could have been, the site is sadly just one blog entry in black type on a white background (not even centered or anything) with no frills (like comments) or anything. Hopefully the website is in the works and will eventually have something useful (like information about the book or author).
And I can't believe that I just blogged about a book about blogging. *sigh*