Quote of the Weekend

“All I want,” said Podo, is to get these kids and their mother someplace they can live out their years in peace. Anniera is sacked and gone. There’s no more an Anniera than there is an Anklejelly Manor. It’s a dead island, as dead as snakeskin, and that’s what those young Igibys will be too if they get ideas in their heads about kings and stones and secrets. It’s ideas like that that landed us in this hole. If ye’d kept that fool map hidden better, we might be blowin’ smoke rings at Shaggy’s Tavern right now.”

Oskar stared at the floor. When he spoke, his voice was little more than a whisper. “Do you know how many heirs to the throne of Anniera exist in the world? One. And he’s snoring on the floor at your feet. Peet the Sock Man is likely dead, or he’d have found us by now, which leaves exactly one Throne Warden in all of Aerwiar. Leeli here is the first Song Maiden in generations.” Reteep raised his eyes to Podo’s. “I tell you, old friend, I’d rather be stuck here in a Strander burrow than blowing smoke rings in Glipwood, where the Fangs spit and bowel and kill our spirits. At least we’re here because we choose to be. We’re here out of bravery and not cowardice.” – North! Or be Eaten by Andrew Peterson

(If this doesn’t make you want to read this excellent series, I don’t know what will.)

A Texas Cousins Adventure Story: Bruce and Jude and the Frightened Pig

Stolen from Emily!

Once upon a time, the large riding lawn mowers’ engines growled to life. Wide grins spread across the faces of the two towheaded boys. They clenched the steering wheels and pushed the mowers in to gear, darting out across their Grandpa’s huge yard.
Grasshoppers, cicadas, bees, and beetles flew before them. The chickens squawked, offended by the noise. The ducks hurried to the pond to with loud quacks, making it out of reach of the boys on their mowers just in time.

Up and down the yard, Bruce and Jude raced. The giant blades beneath them sheered off the grass and sprayed the cut greens up into the air.

Bruce whooped, fist in the sky.

Jude laughed, leaning in over his steering wheel as he pulled ahead of his big brother.

Two lazy old cows on the other side of the fence pushed their new calves further out into the field. Boys on mowers were not to be trusted. A gray donkey rolled his eyes and stepped into the cool shade of the old oak tree. He wasn’t worried. They weren’t mowing his pasture.

The boys flew by.

 At the other end of the yard, Otis the Pig raised his flat snout to the wind. He perked up his ears, listening. A horrible noise, grinding, growling, chomping, chopping rushed towards him. The thick smell of oil and gasoline burned his pink nose. He leapt up out of his muddy hollow, prancing in fear on his little hooves.

Out of the thick summer grass, yellow with heat and Texas dandelions, roared two massive monsters ridden by two crazy brothers. The monsters drove right past Otis, turned, and came back.

Otis froze in fear.

The monsters were going to eat him!

He jumped straight up in the air and ran as fast as his little piggy legs would carry him away from the monsters. But, they followed him, closer and closer, louder and louder.

He squealed, knowing his life was over. He would be devoured by the machines driven by the brothers.

Pigs in the front yard!

“Heya Jude!” Bruce shouted coming to a stop.

Jude slowed as the roar of his big brother’s mower softened.

“What?”

“Look!” Bruce pointed.

A pink nose, two quivering ears, and two eyes, wide with fright, stared at them from the grass.

“Oh,” Bruce said, “he’s scared.”

“Poor puppy.”

“It’s a pig, Jude. Not a puppy.”

Jude grinned. The brothers shut off their engines. A strange stillness filled the half-mowed yard. The bugs, birds, and animals all took a deep breath and shook the fear from their shells, feathers, and fur.

Bruce climbed off his mower and approached poor, terrified Otis. Jude followed. The boys held out their hands to the trembling pig.

“It’s okay,” Bruce scratched the stiff hair between his ears.

“Yeah. It’s okay.” Jude held out a handful of grass to the pig.

“He’s a pig, not a cow, Jude.”

Otis sniffed at the boys extended fingers as a calm silence settled around him. The monsters stopped their ferocious eating, and the brothers their wild racing. They spoke quietly instead of screaming, and scratched his ears.

He snorted working his nose through the grass in Jude’s hand to find the mushroom he’d also pulled up.

Yum.

 “Come on.” Bruce straightened up and started for the gate that lead to the back pasture. “If we put him in there, he won’t be afraid of the mowers.”

Jude nodded and hurried after Bruce, but Otis didn’t follow them.

“Come on, piggy piggy.” Bruce slapped his thigh and made a squeaky noise at Otis.

“Come on, horsey horsey,” Jude copied him.

“Pig.”

Otis stayed in the grass.

Bruce returned to Otis and wrapped his arms around his neck. He pulled. Jude pushed from behind.

Nothing.

Otis didn’t move.

Push. Pull. Push. Pull. Push. Pull.

The pig’s little hooves remained planted firmly in the grass.

Jude ripped up another handful of grass and held it out to Otis.

“Kitty hungry?”

Bruce sighed. “Pig.”

 

Otis enjoyed the hug and back rub the brothers gave him immensely. Nothing conquered fear like a good hug. And now they gave him another handful of food. He sniffed through the grass and found another mushroom.

     Yum.

 

“That’s it, Jude, get more grass.” Bruce ripped up a handful, but moved a step further away from Otis and closer to the gate. Otis followed, nosed the grass in his hand and ate a little yellow flower.

Jude pulled up two handfuls and held them out a little way beyond Bruce. Otis hurried to his hand and happily dug out a pecan and a piece of old orange peel.

Leap-frogging their way to the gate, the brothers guided the pig to safety with food-offerings. Once they got close, Bruce unlocked the big gate and pulled it open. Otis just stood there, again.

 

The frightening morning had turned quiet pleasant in Otis’ mind as the boys searched high and low in the grass for good things to eat. Had he ever met two more delightful boys?

     Yummy, yummy in his tummy.

 

“Go start your mower.” Bruce whispered to Jude.

Jude ran back across the yard, jumped in the big seat, and cranked his mower to life.

 

The monsters are back! Otis didn’t care how good the food was, he wanted nothing to do with those loud things.

 

The pig darted through the open gate and out into the pasture. Bruce jerked it shut behind him and locked it with a sigh. He joined Jude, and the two brothers finished mowing Grandpa’s lawn.

 

Otis sat in the shade of the old oak tree beside the gray donkey. He kept a close eye on the monsters ridden by the brothers, but they stayed on the far side of the fence. He shook his head and ate an acorn.

     Yum. Yum.

 

The End.

Happy Birthday Remi

Happy birthday my dear little Remi! I can’t tell you how much each of your smiles brighten my day. Your bright blue eyes are just like your Mom’s and just as beautiful.  Your calm personality and easy going attitude balances out your sister perfectly. I love how ticklish you are.  I love that I’m pretty sure you learned to head bang last week. I love that you want me to hold you, cause you see, I love you and think your pretty special.  Us second born sisters have to stick together.  Happy birthday Remi!

How I define a Good Story

Art can be a bit subjective. What we each consider beautiful is much a part of who we are. I recently finished a YA Fantasy Series and an adult Urban Fantasy novel back to back. I was surprised at how much I loved the YA Series and how uninterested I was in the Adult Urban Fantasy even though I considered it pretty well written with an interesting Magical World. I brought it up with my husband and this was my conclusion… written poetically.


It was in the middle of our discussion

that I realized it wasn’t romance that I longed for

in stories dark and grim,

but friendship and family burning bright,

united in love and striving against the shadows crowding in.

Romance fades. Passions shift. They turn to gossamer mist in the hot fires of life.

But friendship stays.

Friendship grows the stronger in the flames.

Family stands.

Together, bound, braced back to back against the encroaching night.

This echoes my own story. It wasn’t romance, all tingles of the skin and turning of the stomach, that remained during the dirt and grime of this pilgrimage, but friendship and family. It wasn’t melting, gooey world-defined-love, but strong, self-sacrificing, choice-making love that stayed when the pain passed.

That is what resonates with me.

That is what I seek in stories of every form.

That is the magic of the soul, one to the other.

Friendship. Family. Love.

I see it in a dwarf and elf, in cousins be they ever so small, in mighty warriors, and humble kings. I see this in three friends year after year, time after time, facing the worst of their kind. I see this in a group searching for home and finding it together. I see this in three siblings learning they are more than they think, bound by their love. I see this in a crew facing the darkness of space, in a band of brothers, in a father and son learning to love each other as they add a wife/daughter to their family. Over and over, the stories I love, have more friendship and family than romance.

They reach beyond that fleeting passion to grasp something enduring.

Friendship. Family. Love.

 

Circumnavigation of Shatterworld

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Circumnavigation of Shatterworld

By Lelia Rose Foreman

It’s always interesting to read a series out of order. Each of the Shatterworld books can stand on its own as a complete story, but they also form a series following Rejoice as a child, teen, and then adult. I read book one, three, and then two. While I knew what would ultimately happen by the end of the story, I had no idea how it would happen. The story wasn’t spoiled even with the spoilers I had because the how is part of the fun. I enjoyed seeing Noble, Rejoice, her parents, and Opportunity at this stage of their lives. I enjoyed seeing who they were before I “knew” who they become.

This series is very real, raw, exciting, funny, and well written.

Rejoice is a great female lead. She’s adventurous, smart, and brave without being annoying. She’s balanced with plenty of typical teen struggles and short comings. She’s not just a smart girl who has it all together, any more than this is just a teen romance. The story is based in the realities of life at sixteen with the bonus of having hexacrabs. There is romance for sure, but it wasn’t a sticky sweet romance and that wasn’t the main point of the story. Friendship, family, trust, and growth are far more important than falling in love. I loved watching Rejoice struggle with the fear of being alone in a way most girls can probably relate to. I loved watching her grow beyond the ‘end of her own nose’, to see the people around her as more than how they affect her. (I think this is the bonus when you have a wiser, more mature woman writing YA fiction: you get a teen book without teen self-focus, or with growth out of the self-focus. Maturity brings a broader perspective. Hopefully Leila won’t kill me for saying that.)

Another element that made this book for me was Rejoice’s work ethic. Even while she’s doing the typical teen pouting or moaning and groaning, she cooks, cleans, looks after her baby-sister, and helps on the ship. She’s respected by those around her for what she can contribute and expected to act like an adult. How refreshing! This girl, while much smarter than I’ll ever be, is expected to pull her weight, not be a whiny dead-weight.

In another words, this book is about a teen I would want to hang out with and be friends with even as a 36 year old. She doesn’t have everything figured out, and there are plenty of hard lessons for her to learn, but Rejoice shows that teens can bring a lot more to the table than we often give them credit for in our society.

On top of all that, this book has action, adventure, sailing, kraken, hexacrabs, sharks, circumnavigation, a horrible and creepy primitive race, and so much more, presented in a unique world of pacifism, colonization, Quaker type Christianity, and space exploration.

If you enjoy stories about the settling of new worlds, or know a teen who is looking for something deeper to cut their teeth on than most of what they can find on the shelves, I highly recommend this book. It can provide lots to think about and lots to talk about.

Rated PG: A clean Christian read with adventure and violence.