Saturday, August 28, 2010

Another fun giveaway (from someone else)

Happy Saturday, everyone! I can't believe my kids are finally going to be in school on Monday. I'm celebrating all day today by renovating the basement bathroom. (Well, the bathroom needed to be done regardless, but whatever. I heart power tools.)

Anyhoo, check out Jennifer Daiker's contest for a $60 gift certificate here!

While you're checking out new blogs, stop by Michelle Teacress's place, give her some love, and enter her 100 follower giveaway here.

And of course, if you haven't entered my Hunger Games Trilogy giveaway, go here!.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Back to school/100 followers contest!

Okay, I've been a total blog slacker over the summer, but as a thank you to my fabulous followers, I'm hosting a giveaway! Up for grabs? The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins! (And yes, I realize this is ironic after reading my last post because this series is written in the present tense, but a lot of people really love it anyway and I'm trying to give something people will enjoy...)

In case you've been living under a rock (or don't usually pay attention to what's going on in the Young Adult book world), here's a short description from Amazon.

"In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love."

The details:

1. Contest is open internationally, but you have to be a follower of the blog to enter (either on the follower thingy on the side, or on some sort of reader).
2. Leave a comment on this post (for one entry).
3. Mention the contest and link to it on your blog or tweet it (for extra entries).

Contest closes at midnight on September 22nd* with the winner being announced on September 23rd.

Good luck!

*Why so far into the future, you ask? Well, that gives me a chance to get settled into the school routine. I've barely recovered from "holidays", and it takes a couple of weeks after the kids are in school to feel like I've got a handle on things, so...there you go! :o)

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Not as in "I'm so tense and need a massage" (although I'd totally take the massage...). The other night I read two YA novels that were written in first person, present tense. I know it's supposed to lend itself to a sense of immediacy, but it just doesn't do it for me. I find it much too awkward. Rather than enjoying the story, I spend the entire time nursing an odd twitch that I seem to develop while reading that point of view, and I feel like there's someone in the background dragging their nails on a chalkboard.

I don't know, maybe I just need to get used to it? I've read about 7 or 8 books in the present tense, and I can't remember liking any of them. Even the ones that are bestsellers - the ones that I know would've been a favourite - are moved to the "meh" pile because they're written that way. Sad, but true. I've had a hard time coming to terms with my tense-ism, but after reading that many books, I feel like I've more than given it a fair chance.

Don't get me wrong, I'll still read something that comes highly recommended, but I can pretty much guarantee that I won't buy it or re-read it. (Don't judge - would you spend money to hear nails on a chalkboard? Exactly.) That's not to say that I won't give credit where credit is due. There are some excellent stories out just hurts to have to read them.

What do you thing about books written in the present tense? Anyone else out there with tense-ist issues they'd like to get off their chest? Is there something wrong with me and should I be hanging my head in shame?


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Why I can't wait for my kids to graduate

I read an interesting post over at Shannon Hale's blog where she mentions someone trashing books based on a one sentence summary. While I agree with her assessment of the situation (in that one can't distinguish between trash and art based on a summary), it got me thinking about the summaries she used from some often studied works in high school curriculum. (Hint: my little rant might make a little more sense if you read her summaries of some books teens are required to read.)

Perhaps you're thinking I'm making a big deal out of nothing (hey, it wouldn't be the first time), but I really do take issue with some of the stuff that is taught in schools. Obviously, I'm not for trashing a book based on a plot summary, but just because it's part of the curriculum doesn't mean it's appropriate for all (or even the majority of ) students. Considering the amount of great literature out there, I think school boards could do a better job at giving a wider variety of material for teachers to choose from so that kids who aren't ready for mature themes or language could have a chance to succeed in and (gasp!) enjoy the class.

The easiest thing for me to pick out, are books with a lot of language and/or crude content. I know that not everyone finds crude language offensive, but my kids are very sensitive to it, and to have to read books with a lot of it is completely frustrating. Case in point, my oldest is taking an online English course (grade 10), and Of Mice and Men is required reading. I'm using this one because I actually find it to be on the tame end as far as subject matter is concerned. To be honest, the story raises excellent questions about how society treats the elderly and the mentally/physically handicapped, BUT there are a lot of swear words, derogatory terms, and bad grammar (okay, so that part is merely annoying*, but still extremely distracting...).

Really, it was all my daughter could do to get through the novel, and it left her with a bad taste that overshadowed anything else she may have learned. The biggest thing she got from the experience came from me telling her that there would likely be a lot worse she'll face before graduating from high school. Guess who hates Language Arts just a little more than when she started? (Besides me, I mean...)

So what's the answer? Well, I'm not talking about a completely sanitized curriculum, but is there no way to generate serious discussion without reading books littered with swears and who-knows-what? It's been my experience that English teachers are extremely well-read and fairly in-tune with students to recognize which ones could appreciate more "intense" books with more adult themes/language, so why couldn't there be a list of "If you like this book we studied, you may also enjoy these other books". I mean, that's only one idea, but it wouldn't be so hard to do, right?

Anywho, that's just my two cents on the matter, and it's what gets me excited for them to get out of high school. Beyond that, they're on their own (snip, snip go the apron strings...). What do you think? Is anyone else bothered by what kids are required to study these days?

*Also annoying: hearing about Steinbeck's descriptive passages ad nauseum. I'll admit it: I'm sometimes a skimmer, because otherwise... Le. Snooze.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Thing I can get done when I stay off the computer*

1. Laundry (including putting it away)
2. Organize my laundry room (somewhat)
3. Put away suitcases (finally)
4. Clean the kitchen (mostly)
5. Clean that mountain of stuff off my dresser (where'd all that come from anyway??)
6. Make the bed (I don't know why I feel I deserve a pat on the back for that, but hey, credit where credit is due, right?)
7. Sort through the two baskets + 1 miscellaneous pile of clothes at the end of my bed (good thing my room is so big...)
8. Exercise (which I mostly don't mind, except that it takes up energy, hehe)
9. Actually have dinner planned (no defrosting meat at the last second - I know, I amaze myself)

As you can see, it's not that big of a list, but I'm a slow worker (quit laughing, Mom), especially when organizing is involved. I'm a perfectionist, and until I can figure out exactly where I want to put something, I just leave it alone. This sometimes *coughalwayscough* leads to little piles of stuff everywhere, which drives my husband crazy. I'm (very) slowly getting better. I've actually been able to overcome this tendency in my writing, so maybe there's hope for me in real life too. (I've discovered the joy of writing scenes that will come later, and then writing the stuff in between afterwards.)

So, er, I guess I'd better get back at it, because some of that stuff still needs to get finished...


*Yes, I realize that I am, in fact, on the computer typing this right now. BUT - I wasn't before. :o)