Saturday, April 30, 2011

Book Review: The Fairy's Return by Gail Carson Levine

The BYU Bookstore was having a 20% off every children's or YA book sale so of course I took advantage of it! I bought this book, thinking I could read it on the plane. Well, I didn't even read it on the plane ride home, but I did read it over this last week while babysitting five little boys (that's another adventure for another post). The Fairy's Return is a collection of short fairy tales that Levine has written. Yes, you do recognize that name; Levine is also the author of Ella Enchanted, The Two Princess of Bamarre, Fairest, and many others, all of which I highly recommend.
Anyways, this book has six short stories, all retellings of fairy tales. The book was an easy and quick read and I enjoyed each story immensely. Levine, or course, is an entertaining writer and her characters are very lovable. My favorite character may have been Parsley in "For Biddle's Sake," a girl with green teeth because all she eats is Parsley. I really enjoyed "The Princess Test" which was a spin off of The Princess and the Pea. Basically, these stories were quick, cute, and fun and I recommend this book and any other book by Gail Carson Levine.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


It's been a while. Finals. Yuck. Luckily, I just have 1 more - ASL today at 5:45.

So I haven't been reading novels (SAD!) because I'm doing finals and trying to pack. So no new book reviews.

My older sister and I were talking. We discussed how our siblings don't remember significant events like 9/11 because they were too young. And I am at the tail end of remembering (I was in 4th grade). It's weird to think that they don't fully understand what happened. The same thing happens throughout history. I don't remember Columbine (today is the anniversary). Just a thought.

That's basically all for now. I go home in 3ish days! Then I'll read a lot, and you'll have lots of book reviews to read!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Book Review: The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry

The Amaranth Enchantment was a delightful novel. It was a cute, clean Princessy type of story. The heroine, Lucinda Chapdelaine, had her inheritance stolen from her after her parents died when she was five years old. She spends the next ten years of her life with her Uncle-by-marriage and his evil second wife. When her Uncle dies, her step-Aunt throws Lucinda out on the streets. The story goes on to involve the betrothed Prince Gregor, a sneaky thief, a "witch", a night in prison, and a dog-like goat.

The Amaranth Enchantment is Julie Berry's first novel. Her writing is a bit juvenile, but it wasn't too bad. She does a good job of creating characters that readers can relate to, and her descriptions were well done. I enjoyed her similes and metaphors immensely. Her characters were lovable, her magic was creative, and I highly recommend this book. I think we can expect great things from Julie Berry.

One of my favorite quotes from The Amaranth Enchantment:
"It would be as much an act of deceit to deny your beauty or tell yourself that what you see is not you" (Berry 218).

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Book Review: Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

This book is awesome.
There is no way for me to summarize it because it was too intricate and complex. But here is the prologue (that's what hooked me): "Elantris was beautiful, once. It was called the city of the gods: a place of power, radiance, and magic. Visitors say that the very stones glowed with an inner light, and that the city contained wondrous arcane marvels. At night, Elantris shone like a great silvery fire, visible even from a great distance.
Yet, as magnificent as Elantris was, its inhabitants were more so. Their hair a brilliant white, their skin an almost metallic silver, the Elantrians seemed to shine like the city itself. Legends claim that they were immortal, or at least nearly so. Their bodies healed quickly, and they were blessed with great strength, insight, and speed. They could perform magics with a bare wave of the hand; men visited Elantris from all across Opelon to receive Elantrian healings, food, or wisdom. They were divinities.
And anyone could become one.
The Shaod, it was called. The Transformation. It struck randomly—usually at night, during the mysterious hours when life slowed to rest. The Shaod could take beggar, crafts­man, nobleman, or warrior. When it came, the fortunate person's life ended and began anew; he would discard his old, mundane existence, and move to Elantris. Elantris, where he could live in bliss, rule in wisdom, and be worshipped for eternity.
Eternity ended ten years ago."

I highly recommend this book to everyone.

Fiction writing for my Creative Writing Final

We had 2 fiction parts to our final. They both had the same small prompt sort of thing. But for this one we had to make the insecurity and suspense go away. We had to use the same beginning and ending phrase. Enjoy!

Across the valley from us were beautiful mountains. They seemed to blush in the pink light from the setting sun. The valley below had homes that looked well tended and garden plots with sprouts coming in. As I evaluated our new home, I noticed children. They came running around the side of one of the houses. They were laughing as they chased each other around a wood pile. There were eight children total.

Joseph, my six year old, tugged at my skirt. “Can I play, Mama? With them?” He pointed his chubby finger at the children below us.

“Yes! Can we hurry?” Lucy, my oldest at nine years old, was the most impatient of my children.

I smiled at them and looked behind us. The rest of the families were coming around the little grove of trees that my children had made me hurry though. “Wait just a moment,” I told them. “Let’s go down with the rest.”

It didn’t take long for the group to gather; everyone was impatient to finally arrive at our new home. There was a lot of excitement as everyone looked down into the valley. The people below us must have noticed our group on the hill, because they started to come out of their homes and barns. There were probably about twelve adults, and more children were showing up.

“Alright, children,” I said, smiling. “Let’s go.”

With smiles full of anticipation and relief of finally arriving, our group of wagons, oxen, and about thirty people moved down into the valley.

Fiction writing for my Creative Writing Final

We got a prompt for Creative Writing and were told to make it more suspenseful. This is what I came up with. Enjoy!

Across the valley from us, the mountains were the color of dirty sewer water. Usually the sun would have brightened the scenery, but today the clouds hung heavy and low, threatening to suffocate the dilapidated village below us. I had chosen this village because of its solitariness; no one would realize these humans were missing.

I turned and looked at my group. I almost felt like I was babysitting; these brutes knew nothing. They kept fighting with each other and they were making an insane amount of noise. I was a bit concerned that the unfortunate humans in the village below would hear us. But I was reassured by the fact that we would take care of them before they would even think to scream.

I turned when I heard a noise from down below. Someone was emerging from one of the dwellings. I could hear her bare feet squishing in the mud. Her dress was filthy and the wooden bucket she carried was half rotted. I was right – no one would be missed.

I spun back around to my wards. My rag tag group’s eyes snapped to me; they sensed my vehemence. They were hungry and their eyes took on a monstrous look. I could see their muscles anticipating the attack we were about to perform. With a sharp jerk of my hand, and a baring of my deadly teeth, we moved down into the valley.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Poem for Creative Writing

Betsey Jane’s Jam
Betsey Jane liked jam a lot
So much that she cooked a pot
Of jam every week

She cooked jam on sunny days
And made it many different ways
In many different flavors

She shared her jam with her dog,
And shared it with the neighbor’s hog
But never with the neighbors

Because even though she loved her jam
(And even put it on her yams)
It always hurt their bellies

So all the neighbors said “no thanks”
Or they would go out to the bank
To avoid the icky jelly

But that was fine with Betsey Jane
And back home with her jam she came
And ate it with her leeks.

Poem for Creative Writing

Runaway Imagination
Sissy’s gone again, off to a sleepover
And it’s extra dark in this room – alone
The wind howls outside the window
And the tree branch scrapes the glass,
Trying to claw its way in

Is it a branch?
Or is it the sharp claws of a bear,
So hungry it’d be willing to eat
My scrawny body
Just for the taste?

Maybe it’s not the wind howling
But wolves from the hills
They probably want to come in my house –
It’s warm but maybe not safe
The howling is louder

And the scratching!
The bear must be huge
His paws the size of mother’s waffle iron
And just as dangerous.
I go deep in the covers

Something is coming up the stairs!
The bear?
No, it’s still scratching.
The wolves?
No, they’re still howling
Footsteps creep closer
There’s a shadow in my room!
My covers don’t seem thick enough
Those horrible claws will slice right through
I will be that bear’s snack

Will he share?
Will the wolves get a piece of me too?
A toe, or an ear?
They’ll want more,
But the bear sounds greedy

There’s a paw on my covers!
They’ve found me!
I’ll be chewed up and swallowed
In a matter of seconds.
The howling is all around me

It’s not a paw!
It’s a hand – Sissy’s hand!
“I missed you,” she says.
I cry with relief
Not a bear, not the wolves, Sissy.

Sissy’s in her bed,
I’m in mine
The room is dark, but not scary
The tree gently brushes my window
And the wind sings good night.

Poem for Creative Writing, Cinquain style

Goldfish Crackers
In a big box
They smile back at me
A cheesy snack, quite addicting
Crunch, yum

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Poem for Creative Writing, Nonet style

Thanks to Gmail
Sister in Boston, writing a poem
I’m in Provo, also writing
We connect thanks to Gmail
Words flying many miles
We share ideas,
Pictures and words
Talking is

Writing Sample for Creative Writing

There was a picture yesterday in my school's newspaper of a girl in Europe riding a cow. But not just riding it, they were jumping over a bar. You know, the kind horses jump over. The girl was wearing a riding helmet and everything. It was super funny, so I based this writing sample off of that picture. Enjoy!

Molly knew the crowd was laughing at her but she didn’t care. She patted Bessie’s neck as they did the traditional lap around the arena. Molly eyed the bars they’d have to jump over. It didn’t look like anything more difficult than they had done in the past.

Bessie mooed as Molly steered her into position. She whipped her long tail at the flies on her back. Molly rubbed Bessie’s lucky spot – a splotch of dark brown on her neck.

Molly gently dug her heels into Bessie’s sides, and Bessie took off running. She galumphed up to the first bar and launched herself over it. Molly smiled at the surprised looks on the spectators faces. A jumping cow was a surprise.

They hustled around the arena, cleanly making it over every bar. Bessie mooed again as Molly climbed off her back and led her towards the stalls. Molly knew they had done their best so far at this event.

After all the other riders competed – all on horses – Molly waited impatiently for results. She was shocked to hear her name announced over the loud speakers. She and Bessie had won!

Reporters flooded around Bessie’s stall to ask Molly questions. Molly laughed at all the people who gathered around to see the cow that had won the competition. Bessie was a very special cow, and Molly was very proud of her.

The next day the newspaper headline said, “The Cow Jumps Over the Moon to Victory!” Molly clipped it out and tacked it up in Bessie’s stall. “Good girl, Bessie,” she said, rubbing Bessie’s lucky spot.

“Moo,” said Bessie.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

General Conference

This weekend was fantastic. General Conference weekend is one of my favorites. The world gets the opportunity to listen to prophets of God; why wouldn't you look forward to it? These are a few things I noticed from Conference:
~ The New Testament was mentioned and referenced a lot. My dad says they like to reference the scriptures that are being studied in Sunday School for the year.
~ Two different speakers talked about the name of our church: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We (church members)should not refer to ourselves as "Mormons," instead we should call ourselves Latter-Day Saints. This is not the first time I have heard this.
~ Temples. They are always mentioned a lot, but I felt like there was a lot of focus this time around. Three new temples were announced. President Monson talked specifically about the new Rome, Italy temple and how historically significant that is. And of course, the importance of temple work was stressed like usual. It is very important, and I am so blessed to have such easy access to a temple.
~ President Uchtdorf did not have an airplane story (!). He did make a joke about how that's what we'd be talking about with our friends. He also said that using technology for missionary work is a very good idea as long as it is at appropriate times (aka NOT IN CHURCH).
~ The Choir's arrangement of The Spirit of God at the end of the Sunday Morning session was amazing. I loved it.
~ Did you notice how on Saturday the camera showed tulips and budding trees? And then on Sunday it was all blossoms covered in snow. Yup, we got snow this weekend. Yuck.
Of course there was a lot more to conference, and I am glad I take copious notes (thanks to a fantastic Seminary Teacher who helped us learn that conference can be fun). I love to hear from our prophets, and I know the Church is true!