Thursday, February 24, 2011

Homeschool Wrap-up...Letter Tracing (and I'm in need of help!)

I must confess that the last few weeks I've not been the best teacher. I don't like excuses, but here they are anyway:
1. I was not feeling real great last week.
2. The Hub is gone this week.
3. I feel uncreative, so I can't come up with theme ideas.

Bible: Girls are still working on the Lord's prayer and it is coming along. Not as fast as I had planned out, but coming along.

Megan:  She is progressing in the phonics and writing lowercase letters. Some days are easier for her than others, but moving forward. I'm going to start a sticker reward chart for her. She is HUGE into rewards (what kid isn't?). I think that will help motivate her to do her best work.

Matthea:  So, this week, we've really just focused on Letter Tracing. I started having her trace letters that have straight lines. For example: Tt, Ll, Ii, H, E, F
I got this idea from Learning to Write. They have the simple tracers, but not the tracers for letters. They do, however, suggest you make them just like I did with a highlighter.  I used the green dots for starting and red dots for stopping. I laminated them, and she uses white board markers to trace with. Then we can erase and reuse.  Matthea is getting the idea. I still do hand over hand with her on these, but I let her control the stopping of the lines.  Next week I plan to let her do some on her own to see what she does.

Help! As for themes....could I ask for some help? Could you leave a comment with an idea or a few ideas for me to do this spring. I have a few ideas, but not enough to fill up the entire rest of the this school year.  I can find lessons, crafts, etc...but for some reason coming up with ideas is just overwhelming me right now. (probably due to the fact that we are moving in a few months and all the changes that are going to happen! YIKES!  One day I'll get around to posting about that change...)

And, thanks ahead of time!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

WiP...and thoughts on the "Single Parent"

L-WiP (Life Work in Progress):
Ahh, the single parent. My Hub is out of country for the week and I've been the single parent for the three kids. It hasn't been easy, I'll tell you. Trying to keep up with the house chores, homework, cooking, dropping and picking kids up from two different schools, getting them dressed, getting myself dressed (HA!), cooking, laundry, cleaning, and, oh yeah sleep.   It is nearly impossible!  So, somethings have just kind of piled up....
But, this week has made me think about the real single parent. I mean, I don't have to go to a job outside the home. I don't have to worry alone about food, insurance, other payments. With that added stress and the stress of raising kids, my mind went spinning. How do you do it? I mean seriously, if I hadn't had community this week to help me out I think I would have been pulling my hair out by day 4.  You see, I have a friend making us dinner tonight (yes, a hot nutritious meal) and another that watched the kids so I could go and get a head massage (much needed).
These thoughts about single parents all started a few weeks ago during a Bible study with some ladies. It is on the book The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace.  It is a very conservative book, but one of the things she touches on is the single mom whose husband is ill or has died. She says, "I believe her church has the responsibility to help her be able to stay home with her children."  But, it made me think about all single parents....what do we as a church (universal use here) do to help aide the single parents? Do we provide anything? I didn't know what was out there until I Googled it. I was glad to see something, but not sure how many churches actually have programs. I know ours doesn't, but that is probably due to the fact that 1. We are only a year old and don't have many programs. 2. Haven't thought about it. 3. Haven't come across single parents to make us think about it.  Not an excuse, just you don't usually find single parents living overseas.
But I did find programs to help aide churches with ministries for the single parent family.
Mercy Tree Ministries
Center for Single Parent Family Ministry
Instep Ministries
Hope and Help for Single Moms
And I did find a few church sites that offered some great events (all I looked at was in the US though).

  • Family lunch after church. The meal is free!
  • Night Out- once a month they have free babysitting so the parent can go out
  • Sunday School classes specific to this group's needs
?4U: What does your church do to help single parent families? What do you personally do to help out? (Think about James 1:27)  Or if you are a single parent, what you would like to see? (you are the expert on the matter)

WiP (Work in Progress):
Nothing. I did not edit. I did not write anything new.  I did not complete the picture book challenge, which doesn't end until Feb. 28th. But, I've decided I'm not going to stress out. I am just not going to finish. I learned something about myself through this challenge though. I'm not really a picture book type writer like I thought I was. I have ideas, but my voice seems to come out more like a  MG/YA type of kid.  So, I don't think I failed at this challenge at all, but instead gained some very useful information about myself.  I'll probably still write some picture books as they come to me, but that will not be my focus.

Don't forget to answer the question about the single parent.
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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesday's QBR

I've been absent from the blog because I'm holding up the apartment this week. Hubby is out of country for a bit. Also, I've been feeling a bit bored with it, so I'm dreaming about how to change it up and make it more "me".  But, I've read a few books this week, so I want to review them. Some of the reviews are not as quick, just warning you. =)

1. The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
I did a full review of this book on the FitG site. If you want to read it, click here.

2.  Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
Goodreads Description:
Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher or a colleague. Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and searching, and gave you sound advice to help you make your way through it. For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly 20 years ago. Maybe, like Mitch, you lost track of this mentor as you made your way, and the insights faded. Wouldn't you like to see that person again, ask the bigger questions that still haunt you? Mitch Albom had that second chance. He rediscovered Morrie in the last months of the older man's life. Knowing he was dying of ALS - or motor neurone disease - Morrie visited Mitch in his study every Tuesday, just as they used to back in college. Their rekindled relationship turned into one final "class": lessons in how to live. This is a chronicle of their time together, through which Mitch shares Morrie's lasting gift with the world.

My Take: (this is the one that isn't so quick)
I'm not sure how to describe my thoughts on this one. I really liked it. I liked the way it was written, changing from simply memories to present and back to memories. One would think that it would be confusing writing it like that, but instead the time changes added more meaning to it. You end up falling in love Morrie. Not the romantic type love, but a love like a special mentor type person in your life.  
Spoiler Alert:
Loved some of his quotes and thoughts. For example, "We've got a form of brainwashing going on in our country," Morrie sighed. "Do you know how they brainwash people? They repeat something over and over.......More money is good. More property is good.....More is good. More is good....the average person is so fogged up by all this, he has no perspective on what's really important anymore."
This book was written before the recession, and look how true it is. We've gotten so absorbed in MORE that we've gotten ourselves in debt. Okay, I'll stop there, but you get the point.
Another one is this "embrace aging".  Who likes to age? I don't like the thought one bit. But, here we go again...We buy the right lotion, the right exercise machine, the right pills, etc to make us feel/look younger. How about embracing it?  With age comes wisdom, right? Who's with me? Okay, I'll probably sing a different tune when I see more wrinkles and gray hair. =)

3. I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic, 1912 by Lauren Tarshis
Goodreads Description:
Ten-year-old George Calder can't believe his luck -- he and his little sister, Phoebe, are on the famous Titanic, crossing the ocean with their Aunt Daisy. The ship is full of exciting places to explore, but when George ventures into the first class storage cabin, a terrible boom shakes the entire boat. Suddenly, water is everywhere, and George's life changes forever.

My Take:
George is just so curious about everything. He seems to get into trouble because he is always thinking and wondering.  I love his character and believe that he stays true throughout the entire book. It is a great MG read, especially for young or struggling readers.  I believe that Tarshis presented this tragic accident in a way that kids in the upper elementary can understand and relate to, yet on a level that isn't overly graphic with details.  Perfect introduction to the history of the Titanic.
On a side note, my son has read some of the other books in the series and LOVES them! He can't wait to read this one. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesday's QBR

1. Jane Eyre by Charolette Bronte:
Great classic that should be read. It took me two weeks to read it. Not because it was hard and  not enjoyable, but because the font was a size 8, maybe 10. It was small.  If you want to read a full review click here. This was one of my FitG books, so that means another down and more to be whittled away from that list.

2. Whence Came a Prince by Liz Curtis Higgs
I read this for the library at the school. Definitely a book for YA/Adult.
From Goodreads:
Brimming with drama and conflict, heartache and triumph, Whence Came a Prince finds Liz Curtis Higgs in her element—exploring complex characters, creating a colorful Scottish backdrop, and revealing biblical truth through a captivating story. 

With his women and children depending on him, Jamie McKie must face a shameful past and an uncertain future. But he does not face it alone. God’s promise to Jacob—“I will be with you”—shines through Jamie’s journey. Before story’s end, Jamie also wrestles in the night with a power far greater than his and weathers the painful loss of someone very dear to him. In Whence Came a Prince, Jamie’s journey of reconciliation commands the reader’s attention. Yet Leana and Rose both play integral parts in this dramatic conclusion to the saga that began with Thorn in My Heart and continued with Fair Is the Rose. 

My Take:
I've not read the first two books in the series, but definitely would like to. Liz Curtis Higgs takes the story of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel and turns it into a Scottish epic.  It is really well done..and no wonder why. Check out what else Goodreads has to say:
In Thorn in My Heart Liz turned to Genesis 27-29 for inspiration, and in Fair Is the Rose, to Genesis 30. For Prince's trials and triumphs, she mines the riches of Genesis 31-33 and 35. Whence Came a Prince examines the prodigal Jacob and his long-anticipated homecoming. Liz spent countless hours immersed in the Genesis account of Jacob and Esau, Leah and Rachel. Ninety commentaries and biblical research texts plus fourteen translations of Scripture provide a solid, biblical underpinning for this epic. 
Basically, she did her homework. Not just the Biblical study, but she also studied about Scottish history and traditions.  Makes me appreciate this book that much more.
Loved the characters in this book.  Their pain was my pain, their joy my joy. When a writer can do that, you know it is a good book.  And now after reading it, I'm challenged to go back and reread Genesis and look at that story in a different POV.

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Homeschool Wrap Up....Valentine's Day

This week we have focused on Valentine's Day.  Mei Mei is still on vacation, so we have had some extra fun at the house. 
1. Valentine collages.  The heart template was from DLTK's site. You can click here for the directions.
Girls cut up pieces of red and pink paper. You could tear it instead,
but I wanted them to have scissor practice.

Mei Mei gluing her pieces to the heart-shaped outline.

Jie Jie gluing hers.

After they finished we cut them out and glued them onto colored
paper to give away to some special people. 
2. Valentine Cookies!

The girls LOVE to bake with me. So, we made pink heart
sugar cookies. We just added pink food coloring
to the dough to make it pink.
Quite the team, aren't they?
We worked on the other school things, too. Numbers, letters, speaking, writing...still plodding away. Not always seeing improvements, but know (or believe) that one day counting will all make sense to Jie Jie. =)

Bible: I've been teaching them both the Lord's Prayer. We are working on the sign language so that Matthea can memorize it as well. Once we get it all down, I'll post a video of them. They really are doing well with this. =)

On Monday Mei Mei starts half days at the local Chinese school. We've cut her back from full day to half for two reasons. 
1. They have a mandatory 2-hour nap. Which equals late nights for all of us. 
2. We are hoping to put her in the Christian School next fall, so I want to make sure she is up on all her English language work.  So, she gets a homeschool lesson in the afternoons.

Other News:
I just found out about a fun book giveaway that is easy. Many of you already know Amy, at The Green Bathtub.  If you don't, you need to go and meet her. She's great! She is giving away the book Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry. Click here to enter,

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thursday's TGC

1.Rachelle Gardner has been giving some great info on publishing terminology. Click here for learning about "Sell-in, Sell-Through, Earn-Out..."
2. Camy Tang is over at Seekerville giving tips on the "Deep POV". This is from their archives, but a goody. Click here.
1. Marcia Hoehne has her February Book Giveaway going on. It is one you don't want to miss out on. Moonlight over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool. I've heard GREAT things about this book and it is the Newbery Winner, so click here to enter before February 13th.
2.Kathy Habel at I am a Reader, Not a Writer is hosting "Follower Love Giveaway Hop".  She has lots of blogs you can hop around to see what they are giving away. Many have some great books and are easy to enter. Click here for the full listing of blogs participating. This bloghop ends Feb. 13th, so start hopping now!
3.And for those homeschooling/teacher people out there. Musings of Me has out a new Dental Health Unit that you can download for free. Click here for details.
4. Tots on a Mission is focusing on Mongolia this month. Click here for information on Mongolia and ideas on what to pray for.
1."Kindergarten Story Writing Contest" is put on by Children's Writer. Deadline is Feb. 28th. Click here for full details.
2. WOW! Winter 2011 Flash Fiction Contest: Deadline Feb. 28th.  Click here for all the details.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

WiP...and Lessons Learned this Week

L-Wip: (Life Work in Progress):
Don't you love it when you read a passage of scripture and you know it was exactly what you needed to hear at that time in your life? Sometimes it is encouraging, other times it is convicting. For me, Monday's Bible reading was both. I was reading Isaiah 58:6-12. Here's what I learned...
Chinese man carrying a YokeImage via Wikipedia
1. Give up being oppressed...or my case feeling oppressed. (v. 9) I get down with feeling trapped in Holland. Click here for the inside story. I don't want that so I must choose to give that to the Lord.
2. Stop "pointing the finger"(v. 9).  This one is probably because I feel like I'm doing it all alone. That my husband is too busy or whatever to help out. Whatever...LIES! He helps A.Lot! He really does. Self pity is just plain U.G.L.Y.

3. Don't "turn away from your own flesh and blood" (v. 7). Don't worry, I'm not running away or anything crazy like that. But, what caught me is that when I'm pointing my finger, when I'm feeling trapped in Holland that I'm in a way turning away from my own flesh and family. Selfishness is also an ugly thing, eh?
But there is's the encouragement part, thank goodness!
When I do the above...
1.The Lord will guide me. (v.11) "Boy, do I need guidance!"
Ronnie Coleman 8 x Mr Olympia 2009 Melbourne, ...Image via Wikipedia
2. My needs will be satisfied. (v.11). "Needs, MaDonna, not your wants..."
3. My favorite: My frame will be strengthened. (v.11) I don't think this means I'll become a body builder with a sculpted body. Although, that doesn't sound to bad as I sit here eating a chocolate cookie late at night. No, I believe that it is talking about the character of the person, strong in their faith and stance. 

WiP: (Work in Progress):
1. I got my chapter critique back from my instructor. Very good stuff, of course! I have some work to do, but all good. I'm gonna put this project on hold until after February because of #2 below.
2. I have completed nine picture book drafts for the Picture Book Marathon.
3. I entered the first line contest at Brenda Drake's site and got some great feedback from other's doing the On a Dark and Stormy Night Blogfest. This was my first contest of this kind. Lots of fun and insightful! Win! Win!

Questions for you:
1. What have you learned this week?
2. Doing the PBM? How many book drafts have you completed?  Jia you! (Chinese phrase that has the meaning, You can do it! Keep Going!, but literally means, Add oil)
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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tuesday's QBR...something a bit different

I did not finish one book this week. Not. One. I'm blaming it font size, but then that shows me admitting I'm getting old. Boo!
But, I just got an email from a friend who sent me a lovely piece. I've read this before, but not in a while. It is such a great picture of a family with a special needs child. Hope you enjoy and get a different perspective from it as I did almost seven years ago.
WARNING: Have tissue in hand!


Emily Perl Kingsley.
c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......
When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."
But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
I provided a picture for Holland NovakImage via Wikipedia
It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very 
special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

Love the last line....
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Sunday, February 6, 2011

It was a Dark and Stormy Blogfest Contest - My First Line

“We’re moving where?” I stand up from the couch hoping my six foot frame shouts adulthood, but my head spins out of control.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Homeschool Wrap Up....not really

If you've noticed we have really slacked the last few weeks with homeschooling. Not that I haven't tried, because I have. I've kept up with the letters and numbers, but I just didn't do anything worth a picture or anything new.
Mei Mei has had a three week winter holiday for Chinese New Year. We have just ended week two.
But, here are some pictures of a birthday party and some interesting food...
Mei Mei turned 6!
 We had a few friends over for a painting party. All kinds of painting went on from watercolor to finger painting.  Below shows the artwork from a young lady, some paint, and a marble.  The girls had so much fun rocking a cookie sheet causing the marble to roll back and forth through the paint colors.  
 As for food. Here is something that I found that was pretty cool.  A pineapple cake in the shape of Taiwan. It even has the mountain range, which is very detailed. For those of you living in Taipei, you can find them at the Famous Bakery on Roosevelt Rd. next to the Fuji Film store.  
Note that this is turned on its side so the mountain range can be viewed.
The point on the left should be down (south). 
 And on a funny note, we had fajitas with blue rice.  This can't be found in any restaurant (that I know of). This we did in our own kitchen.  How do you do it? Add food coloring...I think we'll try red next time. It might look a bit more appetizing than the blue did.  But, the kids thought it was great.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thursday's a good laugh

Well, the Year of the Rabbit is finally here.  We had a fairly quiet night in Taipei, which surprised me for some reason. If I had really thought about it, i probably would have remembered from the previous years and the fact that no one is actually from Taipei....anyway. Happy New Year!

1. Guide to Literary Agents has a handful of "Don'ts" when submitting your query letter from agent Jon Sternfeld. Click here for the list.
2.Rants and Ramblings has a great article that gives some guidelines for an "Agent Agreement".  You must read  it if you have no idea what that is or are about to start that adventure!
3. DNA Writers' post title says it all, "How to write a bio for your query (and happy Groundhog Day)".  Just click here for all those great insights and tips.

1.Marcia Hoehne has started her monthly book giveaway. This month is Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson. Click here to enter.
2. Musings of Me is giving away some really great primary teacher resources for home or for school. You can click here for the details.

1. WOW! has their Winter 2011 Flash Fiction Contest ending on Feb. 28th. Registration is only 10USD, or 20USD if you want a critique. Click here for details.
2. C.Hope Clark shared on her blog about a contest with Folgers...the coffee. She writes, If you like writing lyrics to little diddies, or you enjoy a microphone, this is a cool contest. Click here for more details...there are some pretty amazing prizes, even for just voting.

That's all I have for you today. 
But, I'll end with a story about loosing my mind at 70...from yesterday's post.

The Hubs is on vacation this week, sort of. He's working on a paper for a class, so not really on vacation. But, one day he told me to go out for a jog or get a massage. I thought to myself, "I'll go get a quick massage at the new place near our house and then go back and get Matthea and take her out for walk. Double YEAH!"
I should have known something was up when she asked me where I had pain, not what massage do you want. *shaking my head*
Anyway, I told her that my neck and shoulders could use some work. So, she gives me her arch support (yes, directly from her shoe) and had me do some squats, then walk around for a few minutes. What that all had to do with my neck and shoulders ...something about the way my feet not being right. 
Then she took the first torture tool and began to scrape my head with it, then my face which didn't hurt so much, but then she did something to the tops of my ears that almost made me cry. Seriously, I was thinking I have to get out of here...but she just kept talking and talking and telling me not to worry.  
The best part (very sarcastic here) was the mallet (yes a real mallet) and a stick that looked sort of like a dowel rod, but bigger in diameter. This was the second torture tool. She proceeded to pound the rod around my head, my face, my shoulders, my neck, my back, my legs....some taps were light and others were not so. In fact, I do have bruises and am still sore after day two. Apparently the places where it hurt showed areas of my body, such as certain organs that are not doing well.
My time ended with a foot print. I then realized that she was "reading" my footmarks.  The darker spots showed more areas in my body that are not doing well.  That was when she told me that when I turn 70, I will loose my memory. I laughed because there are days when I have already lost it. (I don't believe in those things...I'm a Christian so I know that God has my days numbered and planned out).
I returned home two hours later. Hubs was not exactly happy with me and I don't blame him one bit. But, all this cost me about 3USD...
I would not call this place a massage place, but a mixture of chiropractic and massage(sort of) and a mixture of Christian and New Age.  (we talked about Christian things and she prayed while working).  
To say, I will not be returning.  I already know that I have a lot of stress in my life and that I haven't been exercising like I should. But, I don't really want that sort of pain inflicted on me. Ever. Again!
I would rather run sprints till I vomited before having that rod hammered into any part of my body.

Sorry no pictures, and I'm not returning just to get some for ya either. *sticking out my tongue and laughing*.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


L-Wip: (Life Work in Progress):
Friends. Those people you can rely on no matter what your mood is at the moment.  Those people who love you no matter how weird or obnoxious you are.  Those who are not afraid to say something to help you improve or push you towards godliness. Those people in my life are precious.
Having moved every few years, and living in an expat world where everyone seems to move every few years, I have made many friends. Some of those relationships had depth at the time, but with distance and time, the friendship could seem nonexistent. But, I'd say that nine out of ten times when I have an opportunity to visit with one of those friends of the past, there's ALWAYS a quick reconnection and the relationship is just as deep. I marvel at this phenomena every single time.
So, what does this have to do with my work in progress?  Friends have always helped me during times of hardship and rejoiced with me during times of celebration. That's what friends are for, right? Well, this past month I've reconnected via email with my nine (yes, NINE) dear friends from college. (OK, only 8 have been "chatting" b/c one seems to be AWOL....oh, where is the "Woodchuck"?)
Yeah, I know you all had great college/high school friends that hung out and did things together. So, maybe this group isn't that "special", but they are to me. We gave our little group a name back in the day....Homelanders. Why? I don't remember? But here are some fast facts about us (don't worry Girls, nothing personal).
1. Group lived in Beasley on 3E...only one lived on 3W. (we still love her)
2. It all started with a wing sing and prayer time. Once a week we got together and sang and prayed together. It was that simple.
3. Now only 3 live in the same state.
4. We are all SO different from each other. I'm not joking...very different, yet something keeps us together. Which we all know is God.
5. Without them and their example as godly women, I don't think I'd be where I am today.

WiP: (Work in Progress)
*sighing* got those two chapters edited and revised and rewritten AND emailed out to my instructor. I'm just now waiting for her response. I'm now officially finished with the course. *throws confetti and dances*
I entered the Picture Book Marathon running this month and I've written two different drafts.  Thank goodness they only have to be rough drafts because mine are really rough, but they are complete. So, for this next week I must continue to write at least one picture book story every day.  But, I have all my ideas from my list that I made back in November. So glad I did the PiBoIdMo back then. Very helpful, indeed.

So, it's your turn. Do you have any special friends?  Did you have a group name?
And for any of you Homelanders reading this....why did we name ourselves this name? I like it, I just couldn't remember for the life of me why.
Maybe I'll loose my mind before I'm 70....there is a story behind that from an experience this week...but I'll post about that tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tuesday's QBR

Chinese New YearImage via Wikipedia
Happy Chinese New Year! Tomorrow night (midnight to be exact)the fireworks will be going off and I'll be doing two things.
1. Praying it doesn't wake up my kids
2. Watching them either from my rooftop or on the TV. (every year Taipei has a great display at 101)

But, today is Tuesday and I have two book reviews for you this week.
1. Runaway Twin by Peg Kehret
goodreads Description:
A unique story of separated twins and the unexpected consequences of their reunion.
Sunny Skyland longs to be reunited with her twin sister, Starr. With only an old photograph, taken a few days before the girls were separated at age three, to guide her, Sunny begins the cross-country journey that she has dreamed of during her ten years in various foster homes. Sunny manages to locate her twin, only to be faced with a whole new challenge.

My Take:
I thought the storyline was good. And the adventure of the cross-country trip kept my attention, especially the twists and turns when she gets to her destination. I felt that over all the book was good. I just didn't like the ending. Spoiler Alert: The whole "I'll write a book about my summer and call it Runaway Twin" was a little over the top as dull. That's just me though.

2. Leepike Ridge by N.D. Wilson
goodreads Description:
ELEVEN-YEAR-OLD THOMAS HAMMOND has always lived next to Leepike Ridge. He never imagined he might end up lost beneath it! What Tom finds underground will answer questions he hadn’t known to ask and change his life forever.

And from the jacket flap (which I think sums it up really well):
An original mix of 'Robinson Crusoe', 'King Solomon's Mines', 'The Adventures of Tom Sawyer', and 'The Odyssey', N.D. Wilson's first book for young readers is a remarkable adventure, a journey through the dark of the grave and back out into the light.

My Take:
I have to admit I thought the first chapter was slow. If I hadn't been reading this for the library, I might not have finished it. But, I'm glad that I did. The second chapter picked up and it kept going from there with adventure. It was quite good. My first thought was that boys would love the adventure of survival.  And it really did remind me of the books mentioned above.

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