TUESDAY TEASER

Having discovered on Brainfluff, an excellent blog, this meme hosted by The Purple Booker, I am putting forth my Tuesday Teaser for this week.

Instructions were to choose a random sentence or two and type them hoping to tease others into reading the same book you are reading. Add yours here after mine by hitting Leave a Reply:

This teaser is from Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, a YA novel.  I am at the end of Chapter Eleven where Dante and Ari fifteen year old friends are about to part ways for a year because Dante’s professor father has taken a temporary position at another university.

“Dante hugged me.

I hugged him back.

‘See you in a few months,’ he said.

‘Yeah,’ I said.

‘I’ll write,’ he said.

I knew he would.

I wasn’t sure I’d write back.”

The book starts a whole new section after this as the two friends ponder the secrets of Life and the Universe-two boys so alike and so different all at the same time.  This is a magnificently written novel with mystery, friendship and family relationships, and excellent dialogue employed well.

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SUNDAY (EVENING) POST

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Sunday (Evening) Post, and this one will be a catch up and shout to all those sending good wishes and prayers through the post during Hurricane Harvey.  We have been dealing with Harvey and his repercussions since August 24th, and today is September 3rd, the day before the Labor Day Holiday.  Many of our friends will be doing hard labor rather than holidaying, bailing out their houses (those who can even reach them), ripping up carpet and dragging dead limbs and sawed-up trees to the dumpsters and piles around town.  Our biggest problem here in northern Brazoria County has been flooding, flooding unseen before even in 1979 when Tropical Storm Claudette dumped 29 inches of our little town of Alvin in 24 hours. And of course, the huge Texas-sized mosquitoes are loving it.

My Better Half and I had started school at the local community college on the 21st.  He had met his students four times, I, two times.  Had we known we weren’t coming back for a while, we would have said more to them, but it wasn’t even raining on the 24th, and Harvey was the name of an invisible rabbit in a Broadway play/Jimmy Stewart movie. The rains began on Friday, the 25th, and as Paul Harvey used to say…”The rest is history.”

My beginning class at UHCL for the semester was postponed from the 30th of August to September 6th.  During this time, the TV became too stressful, and I turned to reading…mostly escape fiction. LOL

What I finished: All The Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders (reviewed on this blog), The Star Place by Vicki Grove (reviewed recently), and The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman (to be reviewed soon).

What I continued to read: Our America by Filipe Fernandez-Armesto, a Latin American History of the United States.  I have to admit that the only non-fiction I read during this time were the Houston Chronicle and the Alvin Sun, once they were up and running again and the delivery to our flooded town could be resumed.

What I began: Steven King’s Wizard and Glass,fourth book of “The Dark Tower Series,” a book I had skipped and gone on to book five (skipped because I was intimidated by the 893 pages…I am now on page 491).  I have completed book five and book six, and will have to read King’s “catch-up pages” before going on to book seven, the final book in the series. My Better Half read them all in order and finished book seven during the storm. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz, loaned by a friend, has provided a good respite from “heavy reading” although pondering the meaning and secrets of the universe through the eyes of two fifteen year olds can be pretty demanding (in a good way).

And, I have cooked–creatively depending on substitutions during shortages when food trucks couldn’t get through.  One thing I WILL purchase soon is powdered milk. There still is no milk on the shelves in Alvin. Actually, instead of starving, we probably have gained weight, eating comfort foods and snacks several times a day.

I hope this finds my followers well, dry, and in their own homes–and READING!

THE STARPLACE by Vicki Grove: A Review

This 1999 YA novel has been sitting on my TBR shelf since buying it from Half Price Books’ Clearance several months ago.  I bought it to put out in my Little Free Library in the side yard, but I wanted to read it first. With Hurricane Harvey delaying the opening of schools, I had enough time to read more than usual this past week, and since the novel is set in the time I was in junior high and high school, during the height of the Civil Rights era and “forced” integration of schools, I was intrigued.

On the Puffin paperback, a reviewer describes it as dealing with Friendship…”in spite of racism.” Francine, aka Frannie and her friends Margot, Nancy, and Kelli, meet the new girl to Quiver, a small town in Oklahoma who is named Celeste.  She is the first African American the girls, and almost the town, have ever seen up close. Max, Theodore, and Jason–misfits at their junior high, are the girls’ “friends who are boys–not boyfriends.”

Frannie fancies herself a “modern” Nancy Drew, as this excerpt clearly shows:

“My name is Driscoll, F.E. Driscoll, girl detective…Driscoll will get to the bottom of this mystery of the searchers from the haunted house (Celeste and her father) no matter how many hours of secret surveillance it takes.”

Frannie’s impression of Celeste on the first day of seventh grade is that Celeste is “polished,” like her polished fingernails (Frannie bites hers) wearing saddle shoes, bobby socks, a circle skirt, and maintaining her composure amid curious and some malevolent stares. As Frannie and Celeste’s friendship deepens, meeting at the “rocket” in Frannie’s back yard, aka “The Starplace”, they exchange rhinestone bobby pins and become Star Sisters. Until she met Celeste, Frannie did not concern herself with the news on TV about sit-ins, firehosed young people or snarling dogs nipping at teenagers’ heels. She refused to listen to the evening news which poured out rhetoric about the “Red Threat” or even connect this with the “drills” they had begun at school.

All these fashions and things came directly out of my seventh and eighth grade years. Like Frannie, my folks tried to protect me from “such things,” never lying to me, but not bringing “delicate subjects that children don’t have to concern themselves with” up for discussion.

The book has a hilarious account of a patiently planned luau that turns out to be a catastrophe instead of making the four friends “popular” and cool. I laughed out loud. There is mystery; there is romance–a teen crush on Robin, Batman’s sidekick; and there is the complexity of best friends vs.new friends. Not only will young adults appreciate this peek into history (perhaps their grandparents’ day) but oldsters like me will look nostalgically back on kinder, simpler times which seemed so full of angst to us back then.

 

ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY: by Charlie Jane Anders, A REVIEW

This unusual/weird novel is set in the near future and goes forward from there. Patricia Delfine and Laurence (“without a ‘w’ “) Armstead, the two protagonists meet in junior high.  They both are misfits among their peers–he, because he is working on an AI computer assembled in his bedroom closet and has invented a time machine that can move one two seconds in time; and she,  because she can talk to birds and other animals and is branded as a witch by her classmates. These two unusual, unlikely “friends” unite against strange antagonists and typical middle school harassment.

This book is science fiction which explores the themes of magic vs technology, the fate of planet Earth, and the complexities of friendship. As the cover asks, “Will they find love? Will they save the world? or, Will they destroy it?” The book is further described as “…wacky, sexy, scary, weird, and wonderful…” I found the novel to be all of the forementioned. As I read the book (and it didn’t help that I was reading it during the craziness of Hurricane Harvey) I wondered if both kids or their guidance counselor, or I, the reader, was crazy.  Many times I expected the author to end with an explosion of the planet and then the seventh graders’ denouement of, “And, then I woke up from my dream.” The author had in mind a much more complex yet satisfying ending. I would rate it five stars out of five stars and pay my compliments to the author.

THE BEAT ON RUBY’S STREET: A story for teens, pre-teens and everyone, A Review

Jenna Zark’s (author of A Body of Water) 2013 publication taught me more about the Beat Generation, Beatniks of the 1950s, and especially about “Beat Poetry” than I learned in an undergraduate class on Modern Poetry, which explored the subject. It is a fine book told from the point of Ruby, an eleven-going-on-twelve year old girl who lives in The Village in New York. She seems to be a “typical”pre-teen who has a “typical” cat, Solange.  Her mother, Nell, aka “Little Nell” is an artist, and her father, Gerard, aka “Gary-Daddy-O” is often on the road, playing bass. As Ruby tells us about The Beat Generation, “When it first  started, it was about people who were” beat up and fed up by the”System”, aka “The Man.”  Ruby had been making up poems by age four and writing them down by age seven. Her idol is Jack Kerouac, whom she describes is “…not a poet but writes like one.”

Ruby has a fourteen year old brother,Ray, who plays sax and often substitutes with his dad’s band, earning the adults’ respect and admiration for his playing skills. When Ruby gets in trouble on the “street,” she is sent to the police station, and Mrs. Levitt, a social worker steps in, setting in motion an investigation into her unmarried parents and her “home environment.” What follows in the story leads to Ruby becoming involved in a hunger strike at a children’s home in Brooklyn, where she is aided and abetted by her new friend, Manuela.

As she approaches her twelfth birthday day, she could never have imagined the changes in her life, attitude, and maturity or how things could change so quickly.  Through it all, she has her poetry (quite good, and interspersed throughout the novel) to sustain her and comes to the conclusion that “Poetry isn’t really good for anything except it makes you feel better.” Although the book explores the angst of “typical teen” misunderstanding and feelings that friends (and parents) don’t understand, Ruby, street-smart and talented,   is NOT a typical teen in a time and era definitely not “typical” either.

The author supplies questions for discussions suitable for book clubs, junior high English and history classes and anyone interested in the literary contributions to American literature from the “Beat Poets/Generation.”

Choose Them With Care

The Qwiet Muse

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“Sticks and stones may break my bones,
but words can never hurt me.”
Oh, my precious soul,
but they can
and they do.
Words cut.
Words sting.
They echo
in hearts and minds.
Those sticks and stones
may bruise you, yes,
but bruises fade.
Scars of the flesh can heal.
Broken bones renew.
Words though,
sharp enough to etch
a mark upon the heart
fester and grow,
inflicting pain
long after
they are spoken.
Words become weapons
when wielded
without care.
But hope, too,
resides within them.
Words can heal,
mend what others
have broken.
Used as a shield, deflecting
spoken daggers aimed
at the heart.
Words, the right words,
can fell foes
and lift the fallen.
Choose them, precious soul,
choose them with
thoughtful intention.
Command them
with honor,
respect the power
they hold
and you will
find strength
within them.
Choose them wisely,
precious soul,
and use…

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