Sunday, January 30, 2011


I suppose, if we didn't really like our idols, it wouldn't be difficult to give them up.

But thats the problem. The whole issue is that we love them so much, we wonder if we could live without them. So thats why its slightly (ha!) painful for me to think God may have shown me an idol in my life. Something I love so much, and spend so much time with, and think about so much that God's got to compete for my attention and time.

Fiction. Its my weak spot. My Achilles Heal. If I've got a good book, it takes quite a measure of self control to do homework, or laundry, or spend time with friends. Not to mention do my devotions, pray, and spend intentional time with God. So (deep breath) I'm cutting them out.

All fiction. Even the book I'm in the middle of right now. Even the ones I have on hold at the library. Even Shakespeare, and the books I downloaded to listen to on my iPod. I will allow non-fiction, but not liberally. I will allow the books I'm required to read for class, but not allow myself to indulge in them. And in place of that, with all my extra time, I'm going to seek after God with all my heart.

I don't know how long this will be. I don't know when I will pick up fiction again. But I can tell you this: it wont be until I could wait. Until I get to that point where its no longer an issue. How will I know? I'm not sure, honestly. But if I would much rather spend time with God than read, if I would rather sit alone with God and my Bible than sit in a chair in my room with a book, if I would prefer to listen to God than my favorite author's book, then I'm getting close.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Metronome of Life

by Marie DeVries
January 2011

Metronome of life

my life is like a metronome
back and forth back and forth the same
sometimes faster, sometimes slower
but back and forth all day

wake up. get ready.
don't forget your books.
then go to class, three back to back
then lunch. then study.

homework homework homework.
a break and then more homework.
some time with friends. ready for bed.
off to sleep I go.

my life is like a metronome
back and forth back and forth the same
sometimes slower, more often faster
but back and forth all day. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

One More Round

here is One More Round by Barlow Girl.
Later, I'll share some other songs I've been listening to a lot these past couple weeks, but for now, hear this:

Saturday, January 22, 2011


that was close.
And I mean, really, really close.

I'm writing the final page of my book, and I almost completely changed the ending.
'What?' you ask? I almost made the main character's best friend... the bad guy! Change his loyalty at the last second, kill her, and take all the magical power for himself.

Actually, and in all honesty... I'm still toying with the idea. I could make it work, adding some scenes and a line here and there. He used the magic earlier in the book for its healing powers, and the two were warned that the magic could start to eat away at him and make him power hungry...  But the question is: do I want  to? Would it make the book better?
Answer? I really don't know.

Generally, I don't like books like that. With a tragic ending the reader really didn't see coming. But I've read a couple of those recently, so maybe thats why I'm thinking about it so much.

What kind of view does that give? That the good guys don't always win, that the bag guys could be your best friend. Do I want to portray that??

You're not attached to the characters I wrote... so what do you think? Because, the only thing holding me back is that I don't know if I could do that to Marie and Jesse...

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Piansit

by Marie DeVries
January 2011
A Pianist
she warily tests the keys
to the song she does adore
her first mistake she sees
the first of many more

learning notes and patterns with ease
again and again she tries
hours fly by like a breeze  
she feels the strain in her eyes

after a day or two
most of the song is learnt
though there is still much to do
and her fingers have begun to hurt

she attempts it one more time
presses a wrong note accidently
and, as if it were a crime,
she gently slams the keys

it's still not exactly perfect
but she'll soon have it right
and then she'll play it like an addict
her joyful eye full of light

Monday, January 17, 2011


Last Sunday, my family and I visited my grandparents. I tried to watch the football game that was on, but I didn't know the teams playing, so there was little to no motivation. I spy the newspaper sitting on the hearth, and pick it up. Its been weeks since I've read a paper, and I've been craving it for some time.

I eventually came to section 4; the arts and entertainment. The first article's title surprises me: "Oprah goes classic: A good idea?" Referring to Oprah's selections for her book club. Read the article here. The author of the piece, Julia Keller, makes the argument that although classics are good books, Oprah should have given a newer book a chance. She should have used her power to bring a new (or newer) book into the lime light.

My first read through the article left me aghast. It seems to me that Keller was advocating leaving the classics in the dust, and picking up the freshly bound freshly written novels. I was thoroughly upset. But, upon my second read just before scrambling this post together, I noticed Keller actually seemed to be advocating the very point I was going to make in this post: balance.

Just because Oprah says to read classics doesn't mean you ought to limit yourself to just those.
Just because So-n-so doesn't like classics doesn't mean you ought to ban them from your reading list.
Even if you yourself hate newer books, or loath seemingly ancient classics, don't bind yourself to the other. Read some of each, and don't give up on one or the other.

 Balance makes everything work, and I think we ought to apply it to reading literature. Too much of a good thing is bad, and you don't want to miss out on something exceptional just because you do not like musty classics or stiff-paged newbies. Balance.

I'll end with a quote from Keller. At the very end of her article she says:
 "Read new fiction. Pick a book you've never heard of, a book about which the jury is still thrillingly out. Boldly go where few readers have gone before. If it ends up being a dud-and the odds, sadly, suggest that it will be- fear not. 'Great expectations' will still be there."

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Couldn't've said it better myself:

not so much the 'I need to get out' line- I mean, I've been back at school for a whoppin' two days. Its not that crazy chaotic busy (yet). 
But the 'stop the world, I need some time with you', couldn't be truer. 

Friday, January 07, 2011

A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L'Engle

L'Engle, M. (1980). A ring of endless light. New York NY: Random House, Inc. 324pp. (Grade Level: 4-7).

I didn't realize A Ring of Endless Light was a part of a series when I picked it up.
I didn't realize I'd read the first in the series, Meet the Austins,  a while back.
But, I think it worked okay as a stand alone.

Vicky and her family are on the Island living with her grandfather because he is dying and they want to be there for him and with him as long as possible. And while they visit, she finds herself with three boys. Leo, who is a friend from the island and struggling through mourning and wanting to be more than just friends with Vicky. Zachary, a rich, suicidal young man who keeps Vicky on her toes and takes her out on extravagant dates on the mainland. And Adam, who has a special project with dolphins he needs Vicky's help for.

All the characters seem to do a lot of deep thinking, mostly about life, and death. They try to help each other, some more than others, and I'm not particularly sure anyone besides grandfather makes any decisions about what to believe after all the talking.

Side Note:: The Scholastic website suggests that this book fits the interest level of 4th-7th graders, but I would contradict that. There are so many heavy and deep and thought provoking things in this story that I would think that 7th grade be the minimum, or even 8th or 9th. Certainly, a fourth grader may be able to read the prose, but that doesn't mean they should. And besides, even I, a college student, had to write down some words to look up.

I like that each of the children had a 'box of special junk', and I think that if I had one, it would be very full indeed. I am also intriqued by the fact that the family sang grace at dinner and I want to know how that would sound. I like the whole relationship Vicky had with Adam, and after you've read the book, if you want to know, email me and I'll tell you all the little parts I like. I wrote them down. I also like John. He seems to be a perfect big brother. I especially adore the conversation they had under the stars. I love that the family read Shakespeare together. And that their mother listened to classical music when she did housework. I love John's definition of Old Fashioned.

I really think its messed up how she kept leading on all three guys at the same time. And how her family didn't call her out on it, not in the least. Their excuse, if they had to give any, probably would have had something to do with being preoccupied: with work, with play, or with grandfather dying. 'Tis a reminder, I suppose, that no matter what is going on in our lives, we need to pay attention to those around us whom we love, and stay involved in their lives, and pay attention to them, and notice when something isn't as it should be, and talk to them about it. People are important and we cant forget it.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick

Philbrick, R. (2009). The mostly true adventures of Homer P. Figg. New York, NY: Scholastic Inc. 217pp. Grade Level: 3-5).

This is the story of a boy who embarks on an adventure to find his older brother and bring him back home. His older brother was tricked into signing up for the Civil War, and is really too young to be a soldier, and Homer has to tell his brother this before its too late and Harold gets himself killed.

This book details Homer's adventures in finding his brother, though right off the bat we are warned that Homer has a tendency to lie and exaggerate. We see this plainly throughout, and how usually his lies help him, though only for a little while. Eventually the truth is found out or guessed, and he is in more or equal trouble than he would have been without the tall tales. This would be important for third through fifth graders to grasp, so they go about believing lies are a-okay.

In the end, when Homer finds Harold (sorry to spoil that if you didn't know already or hand't figured it out), I felt let down. From what Homer had told us about his brother, I was expecting someone much different. In fact, I was sure that if I were to have a big brother, I'd want someone just like Harold. Philbrick must have realized, or horror of horrors planned it, and tries to rectify our opinion of him. But I'm not easily 'suaded.

 This says a lot about our heroes, and how they aren't as perfect as we paint them, and how we have to be careful. If our pedestal is too high, thats an awfully long fall for the person standing on it.

It says a lot about Homer that even what he learns about his brother doesn't really change the young boys view about him. Homer continues chasing after Harold, and isn't devastated with the new, bitter information. He took it a lot better than I would have.

The actual ending of the book seems a bit unrealistic, almost too perfect. But I suppose a sad or even bittersweet ending might be too much for the intended 6-9 year old audience. But it was still, overall, very good, and kept me smiling.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Books In Review

I read 59 books last year, which made me happy compared to last years 32. 

Books I Loved
Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery 
Any Which Wall by Laurel Snyder
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan 
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt

Authors I Loved
Eva Ibbotson 
Edward Eager

Let Downs
Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
A Wind in the Door by Madeline L' Engel 
Spindle's End by Robin McKinly


Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt
The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare

Books I Read Because Others Liked Them, But Didn't Like As Much As They Did 
Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter
Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter
I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter
Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter
Inside The Shadow City by Kirsten Miller
The Empress's Tomb by Kirsten Miller
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
The Sword In The Stone by T. H. White

Margret Peterson Haddix's Shadow Children Series
Any Which Wall by Laurel Snyder
Dragonfly Pool by Eva Ibbotson
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt
Shakespeare's Secret by Elise Broach
The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson

Goals For Next Year
To Come and Go Like Magic by Katie Pickard Fawcett
The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorn
Flowers for Algeron by Daniel Keyes
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
Straw Into Gold by Gary D. Schmidt
Keep a Quiet Heart by Elizabeth Elliot
Passion and Purity by Elizabeth Elliot
Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home by Richard J. Foster
(and of course all those books I've got to read for my Children's Literature Class)