Tag Archives: Rick Riordan

Young Readers Update

Once again, I’ve let too much time go by without letting you know how my little readers are doing. In a word, terrific. And I really shouldn’t call them little. They wouldn’t appreciate it.

I noticed last year that Sprite would mostly ignore my reading suggestions, but he can’t wait to read whatever his brother has read and enjoyed. So now he’s ploughing through Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series, about to finish the 3rd book, The Mark of Athena. He has also made a slow start on Joseph Delaney’s Revenge of the Witch, Book 1 in the Last Apprentice series (recently made into a movie called Seventh Son). While he enjoys this book, because we have it only on the Kindle, which he can’t bring to school, he only reads it occasionally on weekends or during school vacations, if he isn’t already into something else that he can’t put down.

I regularly peruse A-Read’s bookshelves to see what he has finished that can now be passed on to Sprite. Quite a lot, as it turns out.

A-Read just finished Jasper Fforde’s The Last Dragonslayer, which we bought at a Jasper Fforde event last year and had signed by the man himself. Despite this excitement, it still took me months to convince A-Read to read it. Now, of course, he’s glad and can’t wait to read the next in the series.

And A-Read just started learning about Ancient Greece in Social Studies. He is so excited! He was especially chuffed to have been the only kid to be able to answer the teacher’s question last week about some small god or goddess. I had to remind him that Rick Riordan’s books are fiction and only loosely based on the original myths. “I know, Mom.” I’m sure you can imagine the tone of voice and sighs of exasperation that accompanied his statement. (He is a pre-teen after all.)

Having just seen the movie, Home, both boys are excited to read The True Meaning of SmekDay by Adam Rex.

What are your kids into reading right now?

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Welcome to 2015!

How did it get to be the end of March already?! And now, where do I start?

My day job has been crazy since late summer. I look forward to when things will slow down, but that never seems to happen.

My boys are growing and reading and changing. A-Read is currently reading our signed copy of Jasper Fforde’s The Last Dragonslayer. Sprout is reading The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan.

Two freelance projects came out in the fall and 2 more are due in the next six weeks. Me with my first published book!

Audiobooks have continued to save my sanity, but I’ve taken a break this month to participate in a 30 Day French Immersion Challenge at work. Now I spend my commute listening to podcasts in French.

I have been writing. A middle grade manuscript is steeping and I’m revising a young adult manuscript.

And I have been reading. A friend and I are concentrating on characterization this year, so I’ve been analyzing YA novels and reading writing books that focus on character.

Okay, friends, what’s new with you in this new year (that’s not so new anymore – oops)?

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Recent Reads

I’ve had a lot going on with my day job, which isn’t going to let up until June (but there is an end!), and I have some freelance projects due. So, when something has to give, it’s the blog. I will have some posts throughout May, but I may not get to leave comments for you in return. I will be back eventually – I promise.

In the past few months I’ve read a mix of middle grade and young adult novels.

First I started with a YA I’d heard lots of good things about: Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl. It did not disappoint. Although a quiet book in terms of plot, it kept me on the edge of my seat. Masterful characterization and relationship-building made me care so much about Cath and the outcome of her story.

Next was Sarah Rees Brennan’s Untold, Book 2 of The Lynburn Legacy. I loved the first book so much (and her Demon’s Lexicon trilogy – swoon), and couldn’t wait to pick this one up.  While I enjoyed it, I did wish I hadn’t waited so long. It’s hard to remember how the end of one book ended when you read it a year or more earlier. Here’s a good problem with a book: I’ve been made to like the characters so much, that I don’t always like what the author puts them through. Gold Rush Girl by Suzanne Lilly

Suzanne Lilly’s Gold Rush Girl is a historical fiction with a sweet romance written by a good friend who is also one of my critique partners. An easy read that will leave you feeling educated about California during the gold rush and will make you feel good.

Meg Rosoff’s Picture Me Gone confused me a bit as to its category. I found it with the YA books and it felt YA, but the main character was only 12 years old. Despite this, it was well written, mysterious, and another quiet yet gripping plot. I think about this book every time I write a new scene with way too much dialogue. Meg Rosoff told a great story without much dialogue at all. How?! Someone tell me how to do this!

Next was another book I kept hearing about and finally gave a try.Ransom Riggs’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. The cover creeped me out. I didn’t think I’d enjoy this one, but I did. Such an imaginative and atmospheric story and I loved the historical connections. forbidden stone cvr

The only real MG on this list, Tony Abbott’s The Forbidden Stone, the first book in a new series, The Copernicus Legacy. A mysterious and fantastical adventure, this book mixes science and puzzles with a race against time. Four kids must save the world. I love when that happens! I realized A-Read (and possible Sprite, too) would enjoy this book. He’s reading it now.

Now I’m reading Rick Riordan’s The Son of Neptune, which A-Read read last year. He keeps asking me where I am in the book and almost giving away secrets. I understand. Rick Riordan’s books get me that excited, too.

What should A-Read and I read next?

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A Sprite Update

Since I shared A-Read’s current reading list a few weeks ago, today I’ll update you on my 7-year-old, Sprite.

This has really been his year of reading. He finally got to try some of the books he saw his big brother reading and that he’d been coveting for years.

In the past few months he has read the first 4 (of 5) of the Percy Jackson books by Rick Riordan, and 3 of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books by Jeff Kinney. He currently can’t quite get his nose out of the 2nd Harry Potter book. He’s especially in a rush to finish it since he learned I won’t allow him to watch the movie until he finishes.

Capture-the-Flag cvr

Author Kate Messner visited his school recently and he got an autographed copy of Capture the Flag. He’s very excited to start reading it.

He’s in a wonderful stage of discovery. His reading habits aren’t as set as his brother’s, but he’s actually pickier. If he loves a book, he’ll read it constantly, but if he isn’t very interested, he won’t touch it.

What are some of your favorite books for an ambitious early middle grade reader?

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An A-Read Update

It has been quite a long while since I updated you on my kids’ reading habits. The beginning of a new year seems like the appropriate time. So, today we’ll start with A-Read.

In school, his 5th grade class just finished Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan. His teacher loaned me the book so I could read it, too. A-Read did an excellent job on his final report, I’m told. He enjoyed it, and I was happy for him to have a bit of a break from his usual fantasy books.

Actually, this has been a year of variety for him. In addition to the historical Esperanza, he has been reading plenty of Rick Riordan (of course): he’s up to date on the Heroes of Olympus series and read the first 2 Kane Chronicles. But also some non-fiction by Steve Sheinkin: Bomb and Lincoln’s Grave Robbers so far, but we just bought his most recent, The Port Chicago 50, and he has been planning to read The Notorious Benedict Arnold).

His school planned book-reading events in January, including a parent-child discussion of Wonder by wonder cvrRJ Palacio. When I brought the book home, A-Read was really excited. His class had started reading it in 4th grade, but didn’t finish, and he’d enjoyed it. We both read it a couple of weeks ago, and both got a lot out of it. (He’s disappointed that our dog won’t sleep in his bed, like Auggie’s dog, Daisy.) And A-Read did a great job in the discussion. He made some good points and made me a very proud mama.

Now he’s back to the LOTR trilogy, reading the 2nd one, The Two Towers.

He has already exceeded the reading requirement for his grade level at school.

Have you stepped out of your reading comfort zone in the past few months?

 

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Connections? Or hard work?

First, you need to go read this post by Rick Riordan. I’ll wait while you do.

La di dah di dum dum doooo.

Okay?

His post resonated with me. It took him 17 years to get published and it all depended on his craft. I especially liked the part about those who doubt themselves and are always trying to improve are most likely to.

And talk about timing! I happen to be reading one of his books right now. A-Read insisted I read The Lost Hero, first in the Heroes of Olympus series. I very much enjoyed the Percy Jackson books, so I figured, why not? And I must say, I’m having trouble putting this book down. From the first page, he had me hooked.

Riordan claims not to have any magic, but he does. And maybe someday I will, too. I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing: reading and writing. Maybe someday I’ll write something publishable. And readable.

And I don’t know. I guess it’s human nature that misery loves company. It makes me feel a little better that Rick Riordan says writing is hard and that he has banged his head against the walls of publishing. It’s nice to know that someone so successful didn’t get there overnight. He really worked at it.

Thank goodness I like my job and am not looking for writing to replace my income stream. I just want to write. If it makes me some money, then great, but I just want to share my stories with people who want to read them.

It’s nice to know that it really isn’t about who you know. It’s about working. Working at my writing. That I can do.

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MG Lessons

I’ve been reading a lot of middle grade lately. Mostly books I bought for A-Read, but then decided to read, too. It’s fun having our own little book club.

Recently we read:

Rick Riordan’s The Red Pyramid
Sarwat Chadda’s The Savage Fortress
Gennifer Choldenko’s No Passengers Beyond This Point

From these books I’ve learned a number of lessons. Among them:

  • How to depict a sibling relationship; the fights, the responsibilities, the joys.
  • Main characters must have a tangible goal.
  • The most unbelievable things can happen in a book, as long as you make the reader believe.
  • Road trips (or plane trips) don’t have to be boring.
  • I prefer a more subtle type of bad guy.
  • Talking directly to the reader can help build tension. (But it can also pull the reader out of the narrative.)
  • Quirky characters are fun to read.
  • Give the reader something unexpected.

What writing lessons have you learned lately?

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