June 30, 2010

Alex O' Donnell and the 40 Cyberthieves

When you get a series of books featuring awesome heroes, it's inevitable that a main theme of discussion among the fan girls is "Which hero would you want to marry?/Who do you think you would go the best with?"  It can be a bit hard to choose, Bear, Fish and Paul are all such great guys!  Most girls though seem to have a pretty decided preference one way or another though.

But for me, that popular question has been difficult.  How could I decide between Bear and Fish?  Maybe a combination of the two?  Or Paul would be a nice guy... but I don't know... none of them seem to work!

With the release of Alex O'Donnell, however, I've finally found my guy.  The type of guy that I hope my future husband is like.
Alex is just one of the reasons why I fell in love with Regina Doman's latest release - based on the tale of "Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves".  The other reasons... well, I suggest you read the book itself... but until you can get your copy, here's a little bit about it.

Alex O'Donnell is a fun, up-beat, slightly off the wall kinda guy who spent most of his college years goofing off.  He's head over heels for Kateri and wants to propose, but isn't quite sure of her opinion, and he doesn't want to take that step if she's going to say no.  So in the meantime, he'll keep sending her fun presents and being a 'good boyfriend'.

Kateri Kovach is nearly his exact opposite.  A serious, practical, look-before you leap kind of girl and not so sure that she should be dating Alex.  He's not the type of guy she had imagined in a spouse... and she just doesn't think either of them are ready for anything more serious than dating.

Alex writes to Kateri in New Jersey, asking her to come and visit him and his family in Northern Virginia.  He misses her, and he wants her nearby so he can work on winning her heart completely.  At her mom's encouragement, Kateri reluctantly makes the trip down - and then it happens.

Kateri arrives to find the O'Donnell family has just received over a million dollars from a mysterious agency. No one knows how they got it, but the funny thing is, Mr. O'Donnell won't let any of the family investigate into the source of their mysterious good fortune.  Uneasy, Kateri wonders just what Mr. O'Donnell seems to be hiding.  She grows close to Alex's mother though, and when the family takes what seems to her a tremendously foolish risk in buying a hotel she finds herself somehow in the position of Assistant Manager.

What follows next is an exciting twist of events and sword fights and not just one, but forty villains and a wonderfully romantic climax.

With some authors, after about the third or fifth book their plot lines and stories all start to sound a lot alike.  Regina however creates something new every time, and Alex O'Donnell and the 40 CyberThieves is no disappointment.  I loved how we actually get to see a FTN couple while they are dating, we've never gotten to see that before, and I enjoyed watching Kateri and Alex work out their relationship with each other.  They nearly fall apart once or twice... but to quot Elenatintil "oh the ending!  *sighs*".

I encourage you all, dear readers, to order this book or borrow it from a friend as soon as you have the opportunity to.  And while you do so, I shall finish re-reading my already beloved copy -

while I wait for that someday when my Alex will come.

June 29, 2010

Back from ReginaCon!

I have returned from the lovely Shirefield and a delightful stay at the Black Cat Inn!  As many of my long time readers will probably recall, I was crushed to not be able to go last year - so the five days I spent out east were a total blessing and joy!
I'll be taking this week to rest up and post lots of pictures and updates of my stay there, along with a review of "Alex O'Donnell and the 40 Cyberthieves" which I found AMAZING!!!!!
Right now I'm going to start working on uploading my pictures to Picasa so I can post the links on my posts for each day.

You know, as much as seven siblings tend to quarrel and yell and fight on what sometimes seems to be a constant basis, you know your siblings love you when you and the other three eldest siblings return from a week long absence and the three youngest run out of the house, jump on you and say "It was sooo boring here with out you!"

Of course one of the second things they said was... "I am so glad I don't have to do your chores anymore!!!!"

June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

 Prayer to Saint Joseph for Fathers
Saint Joseph, guardian of Jesus and chaste husband of Mary, you passed your life in loving fulfillment of duty. You supported the holy family of Nazareth with the work of your hands. Kindly protect those who trustingly come to you. You know their aspirations, their hardships, their hopes. They look to you because they know you will understand and protect them. You too knew trial, labor and weariness. But amid the worries of material life, your soul was full of deep peace and sang out in true joy through intimacy with God's Son entrusted to you and with Mary, his tender Mother. Assure those you protect that they do not labor alone. Teach them to find Jesus near them and to watch over Him faithfully as you have done. Amen.

June 19, 2010

Happy Birthday Rosey-bug!

Wishing a Happy Seventh Birthday
to Our Little Flower!

June 17, 2010

On Mountains

"I want to see mountains again, mountains!  And then maybe I'll settle down and finish my book."
There is something about mountains that resonates with the human soul.  Through out history authors and poets have given voice to the awe and wonder of these majestic creations of God.

I have a fascination with hills and mountains.  Being raised on the flat prairies has something to do with it, I'm sure.  I remember the first time I ever drove out east and was in awe of the foothills in Kentucky.  When I actually saw the mountains, I couldn't keep my eyes off of them.  The trees, the exposed rocky faces, the height, the pure beauty - it will come as no surprise that my dream home is on a mountain plateau with the world and maybe a lake spread out before my eyes.  Someday I'm going to find and visit a church I saw from the highway near Chatanooga that sits on top a mountain.

What is it about mountains that captures us so?  Maybe it's our longing for flight that rejoices in being up among the clouds, even though our feet are on the ground.  Maybe it's the feeling that we've been able to rise above the troubles and irritations of every day life.

I personally believe that we are drawn to mountains by a need that is ingrained in every human heart, whether that heart acknowledges it or not - the need to be close to God.  By their very nature, mountains draw our eyes upwards and also our hearts.  Upwards to Him.

It is no coincidence that many important moments of faith took place on a mountain.  When God gave the promise of a rainbow to Noah - it was on a mountain.  When God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses - it was on a mountain.  When God defeated the prophets of the false god Baal through His servant Elijah - it was on a mountain.  When Christ taught the crowds - very frequently it was on a mountain.  When Christ was Transfigured - it was on a mountain.  When He agonized in the garden - it was on a mountain.  When He breathed forth His Life in the Supreme Sacrifice of Love - it was on the heights of Mount Calvary.  When Christ ascended into Heaven, promising to come again - it was on a mountain.

Quite naturally, when the Psalmist penned a certain verse, a verse that millions have drawn comfort and inspiration from, he wrote
"I will lift mine eyes unto the hill from whence cometh my help."

June 14, 2010

Graduation Meme

Over on the Fairy Tale Novels Forum we're having a sort of celebration for all the graduates, and I along with another member came up with this meme for us to do.  I thought I'd post mine on here and invite any other graduates to do it as well!  Let me know if you're going to do it so I can read yours!

Is there a book that you read/movie you saw during your most recent period of schooling (i.e. 8th grade, HS, college) that has had an impact on your life?
I'd have to say that the book(s) that had the biggest impact on my life were the Fairy Tale Novels. If I hadn't read them, I wouldn't have joined the forum. If I hadn't joined the forum, I wouldn't know all the wonderful people I know now, my view of the world would have been much narrower... and I wouldn't be a part of "Ink and Fairydust". And if it hadn't been for Ink and Fairydust, chances are I still would be trying to figure out what to major in for college. Thank you Regina!

The movie that had a big impact on my life was "Gods and Generals". It awakened me to a fascinating time in American History and to great men and heroes. I learned that there are two sides to every issue, and a lot of times generic history books don't give the correct view of things.

Has your personal taste in music/books/movies changed or evolved in any way during this time?
Books and movies, not so much. Music, yes. Around freshman year the CD's I listened to were Disney classics and these two CD's of classical movies. In the past four years my music horizons have opened WIDE up, and I now LOVE Country, some rock, movie soundtracks, Josh Groban... really anything that has good emotion. I still don't go in for the thumping screaming rock... that's just a little too... out there, for me.

Is there any moment in your schooling that you can honestly say had a big impact on your life?
I can't pin down any specific moment, but I do know that over my junior and senior, I started to actually enjoy school and really love to learn things. School became more fun instead of just something I had to do.

What is/was your favorite subject in school and how has it affected you?
History, hands down. The world has such an amazing history - our country, has such an amazing history, especially when you learn it through a Catholic lens. I think a strong knowledge of history is vital, if you know your history you can better avoid making the same huge mistakes that other people made a decade before you.

Favorite Quote/Motto?
I actually just got this at my High School graduation. The mom who organized the graduation said that when she approached our new auxiliary bishop about saying the Mass for us, his response was:
"My life is not my own. I am at your service."

Who's your favorite author and why?
J.R.R. Tolkien and Regina Doman. Regina Doman for the reasons I said above, and Tolkien because he is just soooo amazing. He's such a profound writer and I just love how his Catholicism is deeply ingrained in his writings.

What historical figure, saint, writer, etc. has influenced you the most in highschool and why?
St. Jude. NO not Judas, St. Jude Thaddeus! For the first two years of performing in "The Seven Last Words of Christ", I portrayed St. Jude and I've become great friends with him. He's really just an amazing guy.

How do you differ from yourself from 4 years ago? Is there any advice you would share with your younger self?
I hope I'm more mature now! I cringe at some of the memories I have of myself. If I could go back, I'd say, "Girl, you are far from being grown up at 16! You still have a LOT to learn."

Who is someone who has influenced the way you think/influenced you spiritually?
My parents, of course. Also, I have been blessed with a wonderful "fairy godmother" (aka confirmation sponsor) who has watched over me and encouraged and inspired me spiritually. I have been so fortunate to know her!

What's your favorite flower?
Believe it or not, it's not roses. Pansies are my favorite flower. They're little, and the multiple colors are just gorgeous!

What were some great moments from graduation?
I will always remember jumping around and throwing our caps in the air, and then jumping off the bleachers at the reception, trying to get a "High School Musical" pose. That and my friend Olivia smearing frosting over everyone's faces...

Have any plans for the future?
For right now, God is sending me off to college and a major in Interactive Media! After that... still have yet to discover!

June 9, 2010

Miracles Happen

A miracle happened yesterday! 

For our graduation, all the graduates sang "Be Thou My Vision" as our Graduates Prayer.  I played the piano.  Now, I usually get pretty nervous when I perform on the piano, hands shake, legs shake and I generally mess up once or twice.  I was playing Be Thou My Vision through 6 times, so I figured I would be fine by the end - but I was worried about my introduction verse. 

Then I walked up there and sat down, everyone got ready and then one of the graduates played a verse on her tin whistle.  While she played, I was slightly nervous, but then it was my turn, and the nervousness was gone.  I played that piece 6 times through PERFECTLY.  I have NEVER EVER in my 8 years of piano experience played a piece perfectly, not even at home by myself.  And I played it perfectly six times.  Not only that, but I was able to sing along to all the verses.  At the practice, I could only sing the few lines here an there that I had memorized, because I was concentrating on playing and couldn't read the words.  But then, it was almost as if someone else was playing the piano for me (I think there was...) and I was able to read the notes and the words and sing the whole song, something I had really wanted to do, but I didn't think I'd be able to since I didn't have the song memorized.

At one point, about half way through, I realized how well I was doing, and I almost got scared, but I knew that if I thought about what I was doing, I would mess up, and so I kept on going.  Kind of like Peter walking on water... but I didn't drown.

So Praise God and a huge thank you to everyone who prayed for me!  It really worked!

June 7, 2010

Fairy Tale Novels Banners

I did a little graphic editing practice on Photoshop and Illustrator and made a few FTN banners!

After Photoshop I made a few on Digital Imaging Suite...

And then went slightly nuts on Picnik....

Anyone and everyone, feel free to use and promote Regina's books!

June 6, 2010

The Civil War Books of Jeff Shaara

It never ceases to amaze me how people can only read a book through once. As hard to believe as it sounds, I know such people exist, because my mother is one of them.  She used to question why on earth my sisters and I would want to buy a book we've already read, now I think she just shakes her head in bewildered resignation.

But with a good book, a truly good book, once through is just not enough.  No matter how many times I re-read my favorites, something new always jumps out at me.  I always close the cover with some revelation that I had not realized before.  A new perspective, new symbolism, new insight into the characters.  Sometime it's a slight gain, sometimes I sit back and go "Wow!  I never knew that!"; it's like a whole new book.

I have been reading to beloved old favorites of mine lately, and so I thought I would take the opportunity to share them with you.   They are "Gods and Generals" and "The Last Full Measure".  Written by Jeff Shaara, son of author Michael Shaara ["Killer Angels"], they complete the tale of the Civil War that "Killer Angels" began.

As much as I love them and want other to read them, I am afraid that they will be... unappealing to the casual reader who is just prowling about for a fast paced, action packed, adventure novel to read.  These books are certainly action packed - I mean, it's the Civil War and therefore it would follow that there be battles and action - but the pace does drag a bit in between the battles, while Shaara gives a narrative of the armies movements - or non-movement, as the case may be.

Yet Shaara makes up for those lulls in the story by bringing the characters of history vividly to life.  By the time you reach only the half-way point, you feel like you know these people, that you could look up from reading and they'd be standing there across the room from you.  That is what made me fall in love with these works of historical fiction, and that is why I read them over and over again.

I'm not shy about saying that I would not be the lover of Civil War history that I am today if it were not for the Shaara's Civil War books, "Gods and Generals" in particular.  I read "Killer Angels" first, and liked it, but it wasn't until I saw the movies "Gods and Generals" and "Gettysburg" [the film version of 'Killer Angels'], directed by Ron Maxwell that I fell in love with them.  I ran and borrowed the book "Gods and Generals" from the library and fell further in love still.  They opened my eyes to a period in American history that I had glossed over before.  I met great and heroic men that I otherwise never would have met, or maybe never even really heard about.

Another, slightly trivial, reason why I love reading these books (and the reason why I prefer reading them over "Killer Angels") is Jeff Shaara's writing style.  All authors have their own writing style, of course, but I've never read anyone else who had a style quite like Shaara's.  I've given it quite a bit of thought, and I think the reason why it is different is because it just flows... the words come out naturally, particularly the dialogue.  Actually, now that I think about it, it is the dialogue that makes it unique.  When the characters speak, think, Shaara puts pauses in their sentences, natural pauses.
I suppose the best way to describe it would be to quote the book.  (Hang on while I try and pick just one paragraph...)                                                                                              

He let go of the flag and fell forward, his hands in the mud, and now there were hands under his arms, lifting him up, pulling him back.  He looked at the faces of the young men staring down at him, said "Thank you... I am shot."
He tried to see across the creek, to sit up, but there was no strength, and he looked again at his side, thought, Too much... too much blood... you are dying.

So maybe this whole discussion is irrelevant to a review, but hey, aren't reviews about what the reviewer thinks of the book?  So yes, his style is... very unique.  Actually, it's so unique it is can be quite annoying, because by the time I've read a quarter of the book, Shaara's style of narrating, talking, thinking is so ingrained in my sub-cranium that I start narrating my thoughts.  No, not only do I start to write everything Shaara style, I start to think Shaara style.  My thoughts go into third person!  It is... annoying.  (That last sentence was my exact thought when I was thinking about not thinking in Shaara style.  It didn't work.)

I should note that a less than desirable side-effect of thinking in Shaara is that all the 'd--ms' jump in every once in a while as well.  But lest you be concerned that I am hiding something from you in my review, d--m is the only swearing in the book.

Going back to my opening statement, about seeing things in a new light or gleaning something new... I think that this time through, what I got out of them the most was a greater empathy for the emotions of the main characters.  I could understand better how frustrated General Hancock was when the commanders of his army just wouldn't move, would give pointless orders, or would run away when they didn't need to.  I felt a greater understanding of the loss the Confederates took when Jackson died, what that meant to the army, what it meant to Lee.  I was able to grasp the shock of Stuart's death, wondering myself how he could just - be killed.  When Chamberlain was promoted to Brigadier General, I knew some of the excitement he must have felt, because I couldn't keep the smile off of my own face.  This time through, these people became even more real to me and more beloved, and I hadn't known that was possible.

So that is my love story with Jeff Shaara's Civil War books.  The next time you are looking for a good, solid, meaningful read, read Shaara.  It's so cool and satisfying to read a novel, and for once, you don't have to wish that the characters were real, because they are.

Now I could leave you with that last paragraph, which makes a veddy good closing paragraph if I do say so myself... but I just have to tell you about something that happened to me this past week, while I was in the depths of "Gods and Generals".  This will attest to 1) the overpowering power of Jeff Shaara's narrative style and 2) my own delicious insanity.
Setting: I was making sweet tea to have with dinner, and I was pouring it into a larger pitcher, these words popped into my head unexpected and unbidden...
(Note, this was my thought, word for word).

"The dark brown liquid flowed out, clear and strong.  She placed the spoon in the pitcher, stirred it around in a swirl."

I promptly hit myself in the head and laughed for about five minutes... then kept thinking in Shaara.

The Feast of Corpus Christi

My Jesus,
I believe that You
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment
receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace 
You as if You were already there and 
unite myself wholly to You. 
Never permit me to be separated from You.


June 4, 2010

Random Jumbled Togetherness

First things first - I finished my last subject in school yesterday!  *throws confetti* I'm now un-officially done with highschool and homeschool education.  *sniff* College in the fall!  *cheers*  I feel like I should say something profound about my homeschool experience and how it's impacted my life - but I can't think of anything, so maybe I'll save it until I'm officially graduated on Tuesday.

Some fun and random Pride and Prejudice links:
http://www.studiorobin.it/P_P_en/home.html a cute website with cartoon-like drawings of Pride and Prejudice.  It's really quite charming!
and Pride and Prejudice without Zombies: Reclaiming Jane Austen.  Pretty self-explanatory, no?

Some great quotes about saving your first kiss for your husband: http://ylcf.org/2010/06/kisses-convictions/

And last but not least, announcing the June Issue of Ink and Fairydust, centered around Robin Hood and all things Medieval!  Look out for my articles, under the pen name "Lady Rose".  http://issuu.com/inkandfairydust/docs/june2010
Also, I am happy to announce that Ink and Fairydust has it's very own website! Head over to www.inkandfairydust.com and check it out!