bookcover: 
Author: 
Lari Don
Series: 
Fabled Beast Chronicles
Publisher: 
Floris Books, Myrick Marketing & Media imprint
Genre: 
Rating: 
8
ISBN/ASIN: 

Electronic: 9780863156366

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Review: 

As a parent, I can tell you firsthand that kids don't do what you say. They do what you do. It may be an adage, but adages become adages because the truth can only be hammered so many times before the words like fossils are cast in stone. Our adolescent heroine in First Aid for Fairies is Helen; and although she's not sweating over adages, she personifies this to a certain degree. First, Helen is not your ordinary little girl (if there is such a thing as ordinary.) Helen is a violinist, a student, and the daughter of a veterinarian. We learn that Helen's mother would like Helen to follow in her footsteps; instead, Helen wants to follow her great talent and her first love, which is music. But life throws her a complication when she is approached by an injured centaur named Yann who was bitten by some creature whose teeth she finds.

Yann has a wound that must be treated, and Helen treats it. And then she is drawn in to his quest when he returns to collect the teeth which belong to an evil creature. Her new friends include Lavender the fairy, Rona the selkie, Sapphire the dragon and Yann's best friend, a phoenix named Catesby. Helen's path is not an easy one. She must prove herself at every step, not only to her friends but to herself. As the healer's child, she becomes the healer for the little entourage. Helen grows in confidence, and makes careful choices, often having to weigh options which are not always black and white. There's an interesting twist as well—because these magical kids are trying to straighten up a mess they made. Helen is not the only one who has to prove herself. To join the magical creatures' secret quest, she must take items from her mother's medical practice, sneak out, keep secrets from her family, and allow her parents to believe the worst of her baby sister.

First Aid for Fairies is appealing on a number of levels. It is a fantasy adventure but introduces young readers to traditional Scottish mythological characters, and explores some of the Scottish countryside as well. And while Helen is surrounded by creatures of magic, she herself is solidly grounded in science and reality, heals based on the advice from books, and is usually the voice of reason and good sense. She's a good character for her young readers to relate to, because the choices she makes are so well-considered, and every decision comes with a lesson/consequence that isn't so heavy-handed that it will be ignored.

On the publisher's website, the book is considered to be an 8-12 reader; but there is no reason to limit readership to an age-group. Consumers of good vs evil quest-style fairy tale and fantasy will find the unexpected on every page, and love this book regardless of age.

© January 2012 Allie Bates

bookcover: 
Last to Die, Rizzoli and Isles book cover
Author: 
Tess Gerritsen
Series: 
Rizzoli & Isles
Publisher: 
Random House Publishing Group/Ballantine
Rating: 
9
ISBN/ASIN: 

9780345515636

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Last to Die was my first Tess Gerritsen novel. It is a story of pursuit and rescue, of outsiders and insiders. Our entry into the story is thru Teddy Clock, whose family is massacred. He (and others) are rescued by the mysterious blonde who says "if you want to live." Boston police detective Jane Rizzoli has his case, and takes him to the Evensong boarding school in Maine, where many strange and damaged orphaned children are sequestered in protective custody in the wilderness. Medical examiner Maura Isles and Detective Jane Rizzoli make it their business to protect the orphans. Something is after them.

Fans of the television series Rizzoli and Isles will recognize the characters to some degree; but Jane and Maura's lives take a different turn in the books than they do on the screen. If I had never seen the television series, I would have visualized the book differently, I think, even though I read the books first, and discovered the series later.

I found the writing to be very serious, as compared to someone like, say, the entertaining Janet Evanovich, but infinitely more relatable than Kathy Reichs Bones series. No puff and fluff here, but chilling to the bone. Tess Gerritsen's knowledge as a doctor is intrinsic to the content of the book, and the content of Maura Isles personality, but the author's love of mystery and puzzle solving comes out as well. If you want a book that talks down to you, and that spoonfeeds you the story, Gerritsen's stories are not for you. If you love writing that respects you as a reader, and presents challenging stories and well rounded characters carved as sharply and clearly as a doctor's scalpel, then you will love Gerritsen's work as I do, though it might come with some nightmares.

• Always establish clear requirements. If you don’t understand about what your professor wants from you, then you can’t expect your writer to understand. So always try to write a set of clear requirements about your assignment and discuss each one of the requirements with your writer. In this way you can avoid misunderstanding and you can make sure that whether the final result is close to your expectations or not.

Portland Arts & Lectures brings the world’s most celebrated writers, artists, and thinkers to our community.

In addition to live lectures that are also broadcast statewide on The Archive Project on OPB radio, the program connects renowned authors with readers and writers of all ages through classroom visits and writing workshops.

EPIC's eBook Competition is open!

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Entry Fee: $25 for EPIC members, $35 for non members.

Start time is Saturday, July 9th, 2016 at 12:00 p.m. (noon) central time. Held quarterly and limited to 500 entrants. Don't miss out on the ultimate source for creative stress...and tons of fun! More than 85 prizes! (When you purchase this, you'll download a PDF file of the guidelines. There is also a link to them in the email receipt.

bookcover: 
The Best American Poetry 2013 cover
Author: 
David Lehman
Series: 
Best American Poetry
Publisher: 
Scribner
Genre: 
Rating: 
10
ISBN/ASIN: 

9781476708133

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Review: 

Best American Poetry 2013 is part of that "best of" series I follow with great interest, and usually do not review. I usually read the Best American Short Stories, carefully, slowly, over a great length of time. Each one deserves a long, and slow analysis, multiple re-readings, and some kind of written response as fruit from the inspiration. The same thing is true for "best of" volumes of poetry. Poetry differs because rather than a story, each poem usually provides a puzzle on many levels. I once had a language professor who said that poetry is full of inside jokes, and you only understand a poem when you've gotten past that secret gate and are "in" the poem.

The problem with reviewing an anthology is obvious. Do you pick one or two poems? Do you try to take a long view and sum up the entire table of contents? I have never come to a satisfactory decision where anthologies are concerned. But this volume has two features that I really enjoy. One is seeing which journals and magazines published the year's poetry; the other is getting familiar with the guest editor's taste and choices. This year's editor is poet Denise Duhamel. Her work is witty and polished and aches with emotion, so that is what I expected in this year's collection. (cont...)

bookcover: 
Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life cover
Author: 
Dani Shapiro
Publisher: 
Atlantic Monthly Press
Genre: 
Rating: 
9
ISBN/ASIN: 

9780802121400

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Review: 

Dani Shapiro's Still Writing-The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life is a book of short memoirs and essays that speak to the heart of the writing life. For writers, writing is not an act, but a vehicle that takes us to another place. If you will pardon the clumsy comparison, I would say that you could think of each of the essays in this book as being a separate vehicle that makes up the writer's train that is Dani Shapiro.

I found the book not unlike other author's essays, like Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones, another book that gets you to that writing mindset. Shapiro considers things that are the at the center of writing like escape, obsession, fear, scars, spying, our inner censor. Each of the essays is presented personally, without condescension, from the perspective inside that deep well within.

This is the kind of book I never read at one sitting, but instead nibble each essay one at a time, for inspiration. It's like the "each one teach one" philosophy. Read one, write one. Shapiro's creative life is a wrestling melee of career, craft, practice, and life, flavored by doubt and demand and is as seasoned with pragmatic suggestions as it is a lilting voice. I enjoyed her insights, but even more than that, I recognize them. I fully expect to approach this book again at different times, and think that I will continue to find new insights and echoes that speak to me.

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