Novel Publicity Blog Tour: “The Author Mindset”

Good evening, readers! I’m back with a book review today for Novel Publicity by Falcon Storm: The Author Mindset. The version I’m reviewing is the audiobook narrated by Craig Beck. Much as the cover suggests, the book is a guide to writing and marketing fiction.

Because the book is the first of its genre I’m reviewing, it won’t follow my usual review guidelines/format. If you’re up for the adventure that might entail–and I promise, it’s worth it–read on. 😉

[Disclaimer: As with all my book reviews for Novel Publicity Blog Tours, I was provided with a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.]

Available NOW on AmazonBarnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, or Audible.

About the Book:

Do you feel as if your life’s purpose is to become an author and share the stories in your head with the rest of the great wide world? Do you long to write the next great American novel? You might already have a couple books under your belt, but want to take your productivity, talent, and marketing efforts to the next level. Maybe you’re just getting started as an author and feel lost in the multitude of tasks awaiting you. Or perhaps you’re stuck at square one, having no idea what to do, where to go, or even if you should be writing at all. In just a few short hours, you’ll learn the essentials required of the professional author. You’ll learn more than how to put words on the page; you’ll learn how to get into the mindset of an author and live there, carving out your niche in the literary world.

Review

The Author Mindset is an excellent introduction to the business of writing and lifestyle of being a writer. It’s short but sweet–the main section is only 66 minutes long, but it comes with extras, too. I was amazed at how much of the training I received in my grad school Writing & Publishing program was encompassed in this book.

The length makes the book necessarily to-the-point, which is wonderful to get writers actually writing, versus stuck in heady theoretical prose. The style is breezy, approachable, and never arrogant, which I appreciated, as it was written by a successful author. The length and voice of the book recommend it to multiple listenings and note-taking.

Speaking of voice, the narrator was an excellent choice. Who doesn’t love a good British accent? 😉 Seriously, I’ve learned the narrator is almost as important as the text in an audiobook. So, well-done, Mr. Storm (and, Mr. Beck–call me).

There were a couple of sections that I found to be a little unnecessary, personally, like how to organize your work space, but–for all I know, a full-time stay-at-home mom/part-time writer might find that info to be very helpful (there are specific mentions of navigating little ones). This book, much like many writing guides, is definitely subjective in how enlightening each person would find it to be. I would say absolutely everyone could get SOMETHING out of it, even if it was review. Although I had heard many of these topics before, given my educational background (but not the same professional experience!), it was quite helpful to hear them again, especially as condensed and digestible as this presentation was. If nothing else, it is a good tool to get anyone into “the author mindset” (keenly titled, Mr. Storm!).

I 100% recommend this book for anyone who hasn’t had some sort of training in writing. I do recommend it to everyone, though, especially those who could use a jump-start in knowing how to begin or how to resume writing . I could see how this would especially be useful as part of a series, which this looks to be. Great idea, Falcon, for making this book available in multiple formats; how great is it that you could listen to this on your commute so you’re all prepped to write when you get home?

My review, based on this as an instructional piece: 9/10.

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Academy Awards: Reflections and Book Nominations

Hello, dear readers! Did you have fun watching the Oscars tonight? Our family tuned in for a few parts. Ellen DeGeneres was hilarious as host, and there were some touching speeches and pretty dresses. 🙂 (In particular, Lupita Nyong’o’s speech made me cry! I need to see 12 Years a Slave.)

Of course, I had to participate in Ellen DeGeneres’s request for the world to make this the most retweeted photo ever–the set-up was pretty cute:

View image on Twitter

I was SO happy Frozen won for Best Animated Feature:

Photo: Frozen just won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature! Congratulations to the entire team at Walt Disney Animation Studios! #Oscars

…and that it also won Best Original Song for “Let It Go”:

Photo: "Let It Go" just won the Academy Award for Best Original Song! Congratulations to Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Bobby Lopez!

The film was one of my favorite movies of all time (the power of love between sisters; the courage and then reward of being yourself; such good lessons!). You can read how much the song means to me in my previous blog post about it, but each time I hear the song, I feel like I get more and more out of it. I think it’s a fantastic message for anyone who is afraid of sacrificing a perfect image to embrace who s/he really is–the beauty of finding out your own unique talents when you finally “let it go.” After my traumatic brain injury, I struggled so much with this concept, since I wanted to be just like my old self and achieve the exact same goals I had for myself before–goals set intentionally by me, and goals set artificially by society (you must look like ___; you must achieve ___ by __ age, etc.). It’s been quite the journey, but I reached a point where I realized I had so much more to offer as a survivor, as the true *me*, than I ever could by completing some outdated checklist.

Idina Menzel’s performance for the show gave me goosebumps. It was extraordinary. She’s one of my very favorite singers; her range, emotion, and style are gorgeous. I actually felt a little bad for her tonight, because I think something was going on with the synching of the background music (not to mention how John Travolta butchered her name in her intro). The music sounded way too loud for her, and she had to almost shout-sing over it–shocking for such a powerful singer–I can’t imagine how bad it must really have been, then! I also think the pacing was a little off. I couldn’t tell if she was wearing an earpiece to hear the music, but if not, that might have been the problem. From my own experience as a performer, I know that music sounds a lot different when you’re onstage and it’s reverberating throughout the hall versus when you’re hearing it directly out of a close source. Still, I think something even more was going on, since Idina is such a seasoned Broadway performer. I guess we’ll have to wait for the news stories to come out! I haven’t found anything about it yet. Of course, it was still a beautiful, passionate performance, and I highly recommend watching it if you haven’t already.

A special congratulations to the film Her, which picked up the Oscar for Best Screenplay. It’s another film I have to see, especially because my friend Marcy‘s sister, Natalie Farrey, is the executive producer! From everything I’ve heard, it’s a well-done film. I’m perhaps a little afraid of its being sad…but we all know that sometimes that’s good for you, right? 🙂

Photo: Congratulations to Spike Jonze on his Best Original Screenplay win for #Her! #Oscars

What did you think, dear readers? Were you particularly happy or disappointed in any of the wins? Were there performances or moments you enjoyed?

The people at bookish.com had a really clever idea: they made an Academy Awards-style nominations list for their favorite books of 2013. They are taking votes for YOUR favorites until 10 a.m. E.S.T. on March 3 (today), so make your vote now!

Vote here for the best novel; protagonist; supporting role; graphic novel; cover design; nonfiction; film adaptation; and short story collection of 2013. All you have to do is comment. 🙂

You can see my votes below, and I’d love to see yours!:

Avatar
Amanda Fowler • 5 minutes ago

Best novel: The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Best female in a supporting role: Lettie Hemstock (The Ocean at the End of the Lane)
Best graphic novel: Hyperbole and a Half
Best film adaptation: Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Novel Publicity Blog Tour: “New Frontier” Review

Hello, readers! I apologize this review is tardy; I’ve been so busy catching up with everything after being sick! I’ll take being busy over bronchitis any day, though, that’s for sure! 😉

Today, I am happy to share my review with you of Jeremy Lee’s sci-fi space novel, New Frontier, as part of Novel Publicity’s blog tour. Read on for more info about the book, my review, and prizes! 🙂

[Disclaimer: As with all my book reviews for Novel Publicity Blog Tours, I was provided with a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.]

About the book: As a new era dons for humanity with all the attendant celebrations and riots, finally breaking the bonds which left us tied to the Solar System is reported as being the moment which unites all the disparate parts of the world and brings us into an era of peace and discovery, and yet this giant leap is almost instantly marred by greed erupting into violence. The Argos, the ship sent out on this historic mission, is left adrift and crippled far from home, survivors of this mysterious attack struggle to hold their ship together and come to the rescue of homesteaders and compatriots relying on them to not only survive but retaliate, and rescue a world where the Solar System has become a rugged frontier ripe for colonization and opportunity filled with the honest and ruthless carving out lives past the veil of civilization.

Several rival corporations, monopolies delving into every industry imaginable, have all but supplanted nation-states, keeping governments around only as a necessary fiction to pacify populations, and the realm of business now reaches into politics, military, religion, and all other aspects of human life. The frontier regions of space are a place filled with new homesteaders, miners, merchants, bandits, and scientific minds that is barely able to keep from slipping into total anarchy, a frontier region where people can disappear from their lives and head off into the unknown. New Frontier is an adventure which stretches from the furthest reaches of space, to slums in backwater cities, to the lunar capitol, and ultimately onto the wreckage of the great ship. The gallant and the selfish alike are forced to face the best and worst of human civilization far from home and decide what they truly believe in.
Get New Frontier through Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

My review guidelines: As you know from my first Novel Publicity review, I HATE spoilers as a reader, so as a reviewer, I avoid them as best as possible. As a writer and an editor, I put a lot of value on the language itself used to tell a tale. A 10/10 review for me will be one with an amazing plot, characters I love, and enchanting writing. I can’t get lost in a book without falling under the spell of its words–and the spell will be ineffectual without a great plot to fall into.

With that said, please enjoy my review.

NEWFRONTIER

Review

This novel fit pretty easily into my usual genre preference, and I could have seen myself picking it up on my own, although I’m glad Novel Publicity introduced me to it, making sure I did see it, after all. 🙂

I would classify this as an adult sci-fi space adventure. I think this book would appeal to anyone who likes futuristic novels about space travel.

The universe: I had to change the usual title of this category from “world” to “universe,” for this book. 🙂 The universe was massive, and I was impressed with how well fleshed-out and detailed it was. It was slightly hard to keep track of everything, at times, but not too bad. The author created a good sense of fear and awe at the scale of the universe right away with an almost cinematic camera shift from a cocoon of a ship to the deadly emptiness of the sky–symbolic to the shift humanity has made in this book from expanding from Earth into the universe. I appreciated how every scene was grounded in an environment that was well-described but not distracting. The environment was always relevant to the story itself.

The characters: I liked these characters. I enjoyed learning their back stories early on, which revealed motivations earlier than some books may–I always find it frustrating when I can’t figure out what is driving a character. I would actually have liked to be a little “closer” to the characters’ thoughts; sometimes, the zoom-out of large, sweeping observations about the universe in general could be a little jarring, without characters to attach the thoughts to. It took me out of the story, when I just wanted to hang out in the minds of these cool characters. I liked the diverse cast of widely ranging personalities and strong characters from both genders. The villains were vicious and scary, and I felt like they weren’t quite as developed as the protagonists, but that worked OK for the book’s purposes.

The plot: The plot was very interesting, both in terms of structure and events. It was told in a layering of time jumps, which kept the reader’s attention because of the constant shifting. It was also illustrative in a relevant way that I really appreciated, because you didn’t have to lose focus by waiting to find out important background details–you often found out what you wanted to know in the very next chapter, even though it wasn’t chronological. At times, this was slightly disorienting, but I think it was the right choice, structurally. The stakes were clearly high from the beginning, which made the reader invested. Also, the action got my blood pumping, and I lost track of real time while I was reading, since I was so engaged with the story.

The language: The language was my least favorite aspect of this novel. It felt a bit clunky at times with unnecessary adverbs (something I, as a writer, also have to remind myself of–it’s tempting to do!), and the punctuation was a bit off, not giving room to pause in the dense prose. Also, sometimes the pronouns could be confusing in scenes with multiple characters. In a book this packed with detail, imprecise language can really trip me up from being able to get into a story. The universal observations came across as a bit stilted, but the character dialogue was accessible and easily distinguishable from other characters. For future books, I would suggest to Lee that he add even more of this great dialogue and cut back on the unattributed broad observations.

Review: 6/10. An action-packed adventure–an interesting ride with a little turbulence. 

About the prizes: Who doesn’t love prizes? You could win one of two $50 Amazon gift cards or an autographed copy of New Frontier! Here’s what you need to do…

  1. Enter the Rafflecopter contest here
  2. Leave a comment on my blog

That’s it! One random commenter during this tour will win the first gift card. Visit more blogs for more chances to win–the full list of participating bloggers can be found HERE. The other two prizes will be given out via Rafflecopter. You can find the contest entry form linked below or on the official New Frontier tour page via Novel Publicity. Good luck!

About the author: Born in Odessa, Texas Jeremy grew up mostly in southern New Mexico. Strongly influenced by his grandmother’s adoration of history and his mother’s love of reading, both of which he adopted early in life. Inheriting a work ethic from his father, which served him well in the manic world of theater, Jeremy Lee started out writing for the stage, first in Denver and then in small New York venues while attending the New York School for Film and Television.
With 2011’s Where I’m Bound I Can’t Tell he began working in novels with a deeply personal look at growing up without growing old, which simultaneously expanded into a worldwide adventure through the 20th century.
Kings of New York began a long and rewarding relationship with Neverland Publishing, which continues even today. This gangster tale played in the wonderland of 20’s New York, and painted a picture of cons just trying to survive and make a dishonest living the ruthless world they inhabit.
With New Frontier his career took an abrupt turn, looking not into the past but into the possibilities of the future. Exploring themes of strife, political corruption, greed, adventure, and religion, the book touched off a storm from reviewers.
Jeremy Lee currently lives in Denver with his family, writing ferociously when he can’t find and excuse to be in the middle of nowhere fishing, getting blissfully lost in a museum, or occasionally just watching old Bogart movies and eating pizza on the couch.

Connect with Jeremy on his website, Facebook, or GoodReads.

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I hope you enjoyed the review, readers! Join me later this week for a new Top 10 installment. 🙂

Facebook Turns 10–Reflections on Our Decade-Long Relationship <3

TGIF, dear readers! It’s been a long week for me, fighting a battle against getting sick and ultimately losing. However, that means more time indoors cuddled up under a blanket with a book or notebook, so I suppose it hasn’t all been bad. So, my dears, please forgive the decreased eloquence on this post.

This week was a monumental anniversary for Facebook: 10 years. It provided an opportunity for reflection not only on how Facebook has changed over the years, but how Facebook has changed us.

I won’t say that the anniversary meant the most to people my age, but it has been the longest relationship possible, since when Facebook was launched, you had to be a college student in order to use it. I’ve been a member since 2005–I actually waited about a year to join, even though I could have in the inaugural 2004.

In some cases, Facebook has been a tool for changing lives. The news was abuzz this week with stories of reunion, nostalgia, and sometimes, heartbreak. This article from the New York Times blog said it well, complete with personal anecdotes.

The overarching theme in the aforementioned article and all of the ones I’ve read this week: connection. I’d have to agree–that’s what Facebook has meant the most on for me. I’ve gotten to stay connected with my best friends when we all went away to different colleges. I’ve gotten to reconnect with childhood friends I’d lost touch with 20 years ago. I’ve gotten to see the personal side of business colleagues. I’ve gotten to see some very personal moments, like newborn babies, that I might never have seen from friends across the globe.

Some people decry Facebook, saying it’s led them to lost jobs, lost relationships, etc. because of a detail that got leaked. Well…in my eyes, the world is becoming more and more public, so we need to work harder to keep things private that we really want to. It’s not “Facebook’s” fault, really–it’s our own choices that lead to consequences. For me, as a memoirist, I’ve already made the decision to “live out loud”–put myself out there. That doesn’t mean I’m constantly posting a food diary (OK, maybe some of the more special meals, like Thanksgiving bread with the family). But it does mean that I’m aware of the images and thoughts I’m sending out into the universe. Shouldn’t we be proud of the things we do and say? I don’t know, that’s my thought, anyway.

For me, Facebook is somewhat like skimming a newspaper by reading headlines. You catch the major events of loved ones, like babies or engagements, but you don’t always have the stories behind them, like how the happy couple came to choose the baby name or the ring. It’s a great way to read a little bit about a lot of people, but picking up the phone or getting together for coffee is still essential–something I learned firsthand. It’s something I think we all learned firsthand, those of us who grew with Facebook: that Facebook is a helpful auxiliary tool, but not the only answer for anything. Some customs are still best non-electronically: paper wedding invitations, physical hugs, ranting about job or familial woes (some people are still learning all of these, actually…).

From a business side, it’s very funny to me how at this point in my life, I use Facebook for business as much as I do for personal use. Until a few years ago, I often felt guilty for logging onto Facebook and emerging hours later, having perused through endless photos, status updates, events, personal notes, etc. Now, I know that it gave me the edge of knowing how best to communicate through social media to promote myself as an author on Facebook, as well as various social media stuff for Marianjoy, in particular, managing the Marianjoy Scholarship Facebook Page. Who knew, when Facebook started, that it would become the personal-business-news-fandom conglomerate it is today? Not I.

Besides teaching me skills for marketing, Facebook has also been a reflection of my life over the past decade or so. It’s a virtual scrapbook of so many memories. Something very neat that Facebook did to commemorate the anniversary was offer a feature where they make a one-minute video featuring your history with it, including significant photos and posts. (Make your own here.) I’m not quite sure how they chose from thousands of posts and photos, but they did a great job (and if you didn’t like yours, today, they added an “edit” feature). I’ve enjoyed watching my friends’ and mine, too. 🙂
Some videos have been more meaningful than others. Facebook granted a request of a grieving father to make a video from his deceased son’s Facebook, which had been inaccessible to him. The father is now able to see a touching reflection of the last ten years of his son’s life. (Read the full story here.)

If you’d like to see my own video, I’m including the link below. A lot of my best memories from the last decade are in here: parties with friends; fun cosplays; dates with Jeremiah; events with Jennifer; Chris and Erica’s wedding; getting into grad school; patient–>scholarship–>employee at Marianjoy; Chad; and more. I’ve watched it more times than I care to admit, enjoying the trip down memory lane, reflecting on the people and events that have changed my life.

Maybe that’s just it–maybe Facebook is more of a record of the changes in our lives, rather than a life-changer itself. It is a wonderful tool, but we have to be the ones to use it to reach out.

(Screencap of the opening collage of my video–click the link below to view the entire video.)

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of my journey. 

My Facebook Look-Back Video

Readers, if you have a video you’d like to share, I’d love to see yours–just leave the link in the comments. 🙂

Join me later this weekend for this week’s Top 10–ways Facebook has changed our language forever.
Next week, I will be featuring many literary Valentine’s-themed posts–some sweet, some sassy, for the romantic and cynic alike. 😉

Down the Rabbit Hole: Lewis Carroll’s Birthday & Wonderland

Happy birthday to Lewis Carroll and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, two wonderful artists whose work has been celebrated long past their lifetimes. It’s interesting that two artists I have so much interest in have birthdays on the same day, which I never knew, just like in my last double-artist tribute to Bradbury and Debussy, another author and composer duo. 🙂 However, I have much to say about both artists, so this time, I will split up the birthday posts and just focus on the author for today.

According to The Literature Network: “Charles Lutwidge Dodgson was born on 27 January 1832 at the parsonage in Daresbury, Cheshire County, England…His stories for children remain the most popular, but not only was Carroll a prolific author of highly original fiction he also wrote essays, political pamphlets, short stories, poetry, and mathematical textbooks.”

My relationship with Lewis Carroll over the years has been interesting. Like most people in my generation, I daresay, my first exposure to him was through Disney’s animated Alice in Wonderland movie.

It was…goodish. I watched it several times as a kid, but it was never one of my favorites. My next introduction was during a voluntary lunchtime reading circle (Junior Great Books) in elementary school that Kara, Lindsey, and I did together. We read a long excerpt from the book, but none of us really enjoyed it. It was really, really silly–absurd. And aren’t kids supposed to like absurd things? We were missing something.

Then, a couple of years ago, Disney and Tim Burton came out with a live-action sequel:


I LOVED it! This was everything I thought Alice in Wonderland should be: majestic, sweeping, epic, passionate, dark, soul-searching. The danger and stakes were more real, with the terrifying Jabberwocky brought to life:

And oh, the Strong Female Character that was Alice in a FULL SUIT OF ARMOR…

I loved it so much, in fact, that I decided to give the book another go.
Immediately, I was hit again by the overwhelming absurdity of it all. There really is no better word to describe it. It’s silly, yes, but in such a satirical way that it’s a wonder to me that it’s considered a children’s book at all. I realized I had to read only a few pages at a time at most, because while it was funny, every single word was part of a joke with a two-fold–at the least–meaning. Never before had I read something so dense in humor. I am still stalled partway through Through the Looking Glass, which it seems Disney also incorporated into its animated movie.

Besides the layers of humor, though, I uncovered something else in my adult reading of the book: that those emotional and epic elements I loved so much in the sequel movie were still present in the original, still ripe kernels wrapped in complex prose. It is one case–maybe the ONLY case–where I find the language is in danger of distracting from the story.

However, considering the Alice stories were originally oral, told to entertain some friends’ children during afternoon outings, perhaps the language itself is meant to entertain as much as the story. It seems that children often delight in riddles and tricks, so the turns-of-phrase rampant on each page remind us adults to laugh at the sheer ridiculousness of it all, even if we do recognize deeper commentaries on life and society. The Alice stories continue to be a hallmark of English literature and cinema–spreading to worldwide art–constantly inspiring new books (like the Splintered trilogy, the second of which I listed in my post on the most-anticipated books of January 2014),

Splintered (Splintered, #1)

…movies, TV shows (like ABC’s Once Upon a Time in Wonderland), video games (like American McGee’s Alice), songs, etc. It’s hard to imagine many other texts that have inspired such a creative response. There’s some magic that resonates through the centuries with Carroll’s Alice, and just like we can derive different meanings throughout our own years, surely, we have done the same collectively in our culture. However, if we strip it down, we can still find those basic elements of adventure and wonder that are so exciting to people of any age.

Me as (a more modern) Alice with my (slightly more gentle) Jabberwocky, Chad, for Halloween a few years ago

Novel Publicity Blog Tour: “Silent Words” Review

Hello readers! Today, I have the pleasure of being a Novel Publicity Blog Tour host for author Chantal Fournier’s and illustrator Nicolas Lajeunesse’s new children’s book, Silent Words. It will be my first Novel Publicity review of a children’s book, and I’m excited to share it with you.

TourCoverWelcome to Novel Publicity‘s Review Only Tour for Silent Words by Chantal Fournier (Author) and Nicolas Lajeunesse (Illustrator). Read the reviews and follow along as we introduce you to Zelda and her world of words.

Available NOW on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

ABOUT THE BOOK: Zelda loves to talk. She always asks a million questions and her head is full of words like apple, bunny, cartwheel and dwizzledoodle. But when a sudden storm turns Zelda’s world upside down, all her words go silent. Zelda must embark on a quest across mountains, forests and oceans to find her parents—and her voice.

This moving tale about loss and hope will tug at your heartstrings. Author Chantal Fournier’s poetic storytelling style and illustrator Nicolas Lajeunesse’s evocative artwork combine to create a poignant story in which a child discovers comfort in the power of words.

Images

My review guidelines: As you know from my first Novel Publicity review, I HATE spoilers as a reader, so as a reviewer, I avoid them as best as possible. As a writer and an editor, I put a lot of value on the language itself used to tell a tale. A 10/10 review for me will be one with an amazing plot, characters I love, and enchanting writing. I can’t get lost in a book without falling under the spell of its words–and the spell will be ineffectual without a great plot to fall into.

With that said, please enjoy my review.

Review

I’ve always been a fan of children’s books. I admire the way they can teach important lessons and themes through a seemingly simple story and just-as-impactful pictures. Sometimes, these lessons are just as important for adults to read (to be reminded of) as children (to be taught). When I heard about this sweet and poignant tale, I jumped at the chance to review it.

I would classify this as a children’s fantasy drama. It was whimsical in the telling with somber themes. I don’t think any child would be too young to enjoy the story, but I do think older children (say, 5 and up) would understand the themes better.

The world: The world was enchanting. The pictures were extraordinary–beautiful and expressive. They made the world a character, in and of itself. The pictures matched the words perfectly, so that I felt they really worked together. The fantasy was whimsical in a symbolic way, almost like a dream. However, I would have liked a little more world-building–even just one page more–before the conflict began. It was hard to know what was at stake for the characters without more set-up, and it was hard to know just how out-of-the-ordinary all the fantastical events were for the characters.

The characters: Zelda, the main character, was charming. Her inquisitive, loving, passionate nature made her lovable. Her impulsive tendency was believable and a lesson itself. I also liked Zelda’s grandmother, who represented more than a traditional grandmother in the story, with her wisdom and nurturing. I would have liked to see Zelda’s parents more fleshed-out, but there wasn’t much room in the story for that.

The plot: Very interesting. It was a fantastical adventure, almost metaphysical, yet imaginable with the description and pictures. I was impressed with the treatment of serious themes like loss, disability, and courage–it was done realistically and with respect, also good framing for children. The ending was heart-breaking and heart-warming at the same time, with a nugget of a moral that kids could walk away with. However, I would’ve liked more of a wrap-up conclusion at the end. It kind of ended in a bit of a hanging way, leaving the reader feeling a little loss himself/herself–which may have been the very point. I wanted to see the main character grow more definitively. I had a lot of questions, but then when you really think about it, if you take away the fantasy, you have the answers already. I get the sense this is something children inherently understand, and we stupid adults over-analyze it. 😉

The language: The language was very good, and any writer or logophile (word-lover), young or old will enjoy the rhetoric. The tempering of lots of words, even made-up words, in the beginning, with less words, and even no words later on in the story, was very effective in portraying the story and character’s journey. I think this is generally a category many children’s books fall short in, but this book highlighted it, which was especially important, as it related to the plot.

Review: 8/10. Beautiful. This book will stay with me for a long time. I hope to see more from this author-illustrator team–they make an inspiring story-telling team.

CHECK OUT THE TRAILER!

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

TogetherChantal Fournier (Author)

Originally from a small-ish city not too far from Montreal, I now live in Toronto, Canada, after a long stint on the beautiful Canadian West Coast, where I taught French to university students.

Silent Words, the story of a girl floating on a peculiar cloud, is my debut book. It is the fruit of a long collaboration with my artistic husband, Nicolas.

Nicolas Lajeunesse (Illustrator)

As the son of a sculptor and the grandson of a painter, art has always been a part of my life. After studying filmmaking in Montreal and working with my father for a few years, I left my French-Canadian roots and headed for the West Coast, where I discovered digital arts.

I live in Toronto, Canada, with my wife and family.
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I hope you enjoyed the review, readers–and enjoy the rest of your weekend! Try to stay warm–snow is blowing through much of the U.S.A. this weekend. Maybe, if you look close enough, you’ll see some of Zelda’s words blowing around, too. 😉

Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s Liberator as Prisoner and President, Dies at 95–NY Times

Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s Liberator as Prisoner and President, Dies at 95–NY Times

The world is mourning the death of peacekeeper and humanitarian Nelson Mandela, who passed away at the age of 95 in his home on Thursday night. The former first black president of South Africa fought for peace, unity, and equality in his country–even avoiding a civil war, often at great personal cost and risk, which made him beloved worldwide.

The New York Times wrote a wonderful, comprehensive article today about Mandela, detailing his life’s journey. An excerpt I found astounding and poignant:

Mr. Mandela’s quest for freedom took him from the court of tribal royalty to the liberation underground to a prison rock quarry to the presidential suite of Africa’s richest country. And then, when his first term of office was up, unlike so many of the successful revolutionaries he regarded as kindred spirits, he declined a second term and cheerfully handed over power to an elected successor, the country still gnawed by crime, poverty, corruption and disease but a democracy, respected in the world and remarkably at peace.

I invite you to read the rest of the article–even if you think you were familiar with Mandela as a person, or Mandela as a politician, you’ll know more after reading it–it’s that thorough. It’s also tender, which I find refreshing; I think journalism could use more of that tone, which I know is difficult to interject when cramming facts into tiny places.

I’ll leave you with this inspirational quote by and photo of Mandela that Tin House posted today on their Facebook:

“A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.”
― Nelson Mandela