Fierce Winds and Fiery Dragons + An Interview with Nan Sweet

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Welcome to MMGM! This week, I'm featuring a "Fierce Winds and Fiery Dragons", plus an interview with the author, Nan Sweet. (BTW, guess who's twelve today?!) 



  • Series: Dusky Hollows
  • Paperback: 210 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (August 22, 2015)
  • Age Recommended: 8-12 
  • With the easy to follow writing, and wonderfully planned out plot, a lot of the younger audience would enjoy this book. (Although I can't deny that I liked this book as well. :-))

  • _________________________________


  • Before I begin the review, let's just take a moment to admire how cute the little dragon hatching out the egg is. (Ah.) Isn't he adorable? 







Amazon's Summary: 



"Ivy and Carrie love their new classroom even if the new teacher is a little strange. When Mrs. Huffity asks for volunteers to care for an egg, Ivy doesn’t budge. She’s had a few scary dreams about that egg and wants nothing to do with it. 


But when trouble comes, Ivy defends the egg. In her desire to save the baby that hatches, Ivy is tossed into the middle of an adventure. She discovers more than she ever wanted to know about fierce winds and fiery dragons."







I literally cannot get over how cute and meaningful the plot is. Ivy and Carrie ARE really truly best friends and they stick together even in the toughest situations. This is a seriously wonderfully written plot. 


Here are 5 reasons why you should read and love "Fierce Winds and Fiery Dragons" by Nan Sweet: 
  • It's impossible not to smile while reading this book. I mean, this story is about two 10-year-old girls who go on an adventure to protect an egg that the class is passing around fro evil! Seriously, what's not to like about this story?!
  • The main idea of the story revolves around a totally unbelievable thing, yet this story seems very real. This book is very fiction, but the way Nan Sweet wrote it makes it seem like it is really non-fiction. Obviously dragons don't exist, but when you're reading the book, you might get a little carried away and believe that dragons DO exist. I'm thinking that Nan Sweet has something up her sleeve. (dun, Dun, DUN!)
  • The ending is a complete cliffhanger! The whole time I was reading the book, I was like, this is gonna be a great ending...this is gonna be a great ending...this is gonna be a great ending...I got so excited and then...CLIFFHANGER! (I told you Nan Sweet had something up her sleeve!) But I liked the cliffhanger more than I was sad, because it leaves you wondering what happens, and then BOOM! ↡ ↡ ↡
  • You find out that there's a whole series of seven stinkin' books following "Fierce Winds And Fiery Dragons. Don't you just love it when you read a really good book, cry because you're left off with a cliffhanger and then find out the the author has written seven more books to follow the one you were reading? Yay! Here's the list of the rest of the book in the series. 


-Book 1: Fierce Winds & Fiery Dragons 



-Book 2: The Curse of the Invisibles 



-Book 3: Too Much School 


-Book 4: Adrift 

-Book 5: An Unexpected Adventure 

-Book 6: The Haunted House 

-Book 7: The Unicorn's Quest 

-Book 8: Cry of the Banshee 

  • The last reason why you should TOTALLY *love* this book is because it shows you that there's actually a lot more to friendship than you thought there were. I literally just found the best quote to go with this reason. "A good friend knows all of your best stories. A true friend has lived them with you." This quote is PERFECT for this book! (I'm such a genius.) So basically, what this quote is saying is that your friends are the ones who know your memories. Your best friend is the one who has shares you memories. Do you see the difference? 
My rating for the book is: 

5 STARS

because this book is SUPER easy to understand! A lot of the books I read are crazy complicated, but this one gave my mind a break and it was just awesome. I also wanted to add that any younger fans of "Keeper of the Lost Cities" will enjoy this book. 


*Cindy the book review is gone*
________________________

*Cindy the interview is HERE*



I was very lucky to get the chance to interview Nan Sweet who is, obviously the wonderful author of Fierce Winds And Fiery Dragons. Thanks so much for taking the time to answer all of these questions! I really appreciate it! :-) Let's get started! 


Cindy:  What made you want to write a story about a creepy teacher, eggs, and dragons? 



Nan: It all started with a memory of those after-school specials where students are sent home with the bags of flour to care for.  I thought, what if it was an egg and hatched? Everything grew from there.  



C: The main characters, Ivy and Carrie, are very life-like. Were there any people who inspired you to write Ivy and Carrie up as characters? 



N: Most of the internal thoughts come from my own experiences.  I was the girl who daydreamed in class and was caught completely unprepared when the teacher called on me to read. I endured my fair share of teasing as well.  As for Ivy and Carrie, they are truly works of the imagination. I will take things I see people do in real life (push their glasses back or flip their hair) and bring it into the story to make the story stronger.


C:  Are there any authors that you look up to as you write? 

N: Dozens!  I love C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, Jessica Shirvington, Anne McCaffrey, and Louisa May Alcott

C:  Why did you choose to write fiction instead of another genre? 

N: Although I've written stories in other genres, fantasy is my first love.  When I write about dragons and unicorns, I'm at home in my mind (if that makes any sense). The words flow better, and I enjoy writing more.

C: What do you think are the easiest and hardest things about writing? 

N: The easiest part is coming up with plots and characters.  The hardest part is thinking about what a character is going to do in those spaces between dialogue.

For all of the aspiring authors out there, I want to give you some encouragement. Writing is like reading.  It's hard at first, but if you keep going, eventually, it becomes a habit and easy to do and then even fun. 

When I was in 7th grade, I decided to write a book.  I got a paragraph in.  My junior year, I wrote 50 pages of a new story.  In college, I wrote a full-length book. With each new book it gets easier and you'll learn more.     

C:  How would you describe your writing space? 

N: I have a little fleece blanket that plugs in for extra warmth, a Netbook that won't connect to the internet, and the couch. 

C: Could you explain to us a little bit about your writing process? 

N: I usually just start writing.  When I'm planning a complicated storyline, I will use mind-mapping and note cards to make a loose outline. I try to have the next few scenes in my mind before sitting down to write.  I work a full-time job.  On my breaks I walk around a little park and think about what is going to happen to Ivy and Carrie when I get home.

That's a wrap! Thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview with me, Nan! And thank you to everyone who joined me for MMGM, and I hope you all have a nice week! 

Here are the links for this week! 

If you would like to find out more about Nan Sweet's "Fierce Winds And Fiery Dragons, click HERE

If you would like to go back to Shannon Messenger's blog or check out more MMGM's, click HERE.

~Cindy

Make Lemonade (MMGM)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Welcome to MMGM! This week I'm reviewing Virginia Euwer Wolff's book, Make Lemonade! I thought the cover was really cute because it fit the title perfectly and who doesn't like lemonade?




  • Age Recommended: 10+ I think this book is basically perfect for anyone but I feel that ten-year-olds are the best age because younger kids won't really understand the material and really grasp what the main idea is. 
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Square Fish; Reprint edition (May 2, 2006)

"Fourteen-year-old LaVaughn dreams of going to college, but her family is poor and the only way she can afford to go is to work part-time while she attends high school. LaVaughn finds a job babysitting for Jolly, a 17-year-old single mother with two children. Jolly, a high school dropout who can barely read, is worried when she is fired from her job (her boss harasses her) and can't make ends meet. Jolly is too proud to apply for welfare, but LaVaughn encourages her to enroll in a high school program for young mothers. But when LaVaughn is about to graduate and Jolly has found a new sense of independence, life brings new changes to their friendship."

Right after reading the first few pages, I was literally stuck in this book. The main character, LaVaughn, has never heard of college until she watches a video in school about it in fifth grade. Form then on, she's never slacked off on her homework and is an above average student. The only problem is...no one in her family, or in the entire apartment building she lives in, has ever gone to college which makes a slight dent in college funds. Which means she has to make money herself. So she takes on a babysitting job for a teen mom, named Jolly. Jolly doesn't really know how to spell and never finished school. One day, she gets fired from her job and has to go to school to get a job to support her family and have enough money to buy food, diapers, and etc. But the problem is, when she's going to school, there's no one to take care of her kids, so she puts up a notice on LaVaughn's school bulletin board that reads: BABY SITTER NEEDED BAD. No one takes up the job, except the one and only LaVaughn. 

Here are 5 reasons why you should read and love MAKE LEMONADE: 


  • The concept of the book. There's a determined kid who's raised by a single mother, and doesn't have enough money to pay to go to college. So she takes on a babysitting for a teen mother who doesn't have enough money to support her two kids. The main idea of this book goes around money. They both don't have enough money to make themselves successful, but they both work really hard to keep going with life. Love it. 
  • The characters. Obviously, the two main characters are Jolly, the teen mom, and LaVaughn, a hardworking fourteen-year-old. I love Jolly because she has a great sense of humor and cares for her two kids deeply even though she IS only seventeen. The reason I love LaVaughn is because even though she doesn't have enough money to pay for college, she perseveres and finds a way to earn money. And even though her mom tells her that no one in their family has ever gone to college, she still works hard and wants to make her mom proud of her accomplishments. 
  • The meaning of the title. When I saw the title, the first thing I thought of was "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." As Google says, this is a "proverbial phrase used to encourage optimism and a can-do attitude in the face of adversity or misfortune. Lemons suggest bitterness, while lemonade is a sweet drink". I feel that this title is perfect for the book because when hard things are thrown at Jolly and LaVaughn, they laugh it off and find another way around the situation. 
  • The form of the story. The common format of a book is in paragraph form, but this story is written in POEM form! The story is told the same way a story is told in paragraph from, but the format is so cool! I have never seen a book like this (unless it's a poem book, I have seen those before), but it's so cool how the story is told in the same way but looks different!
  • The style of writing. I know I use this reason a lot, but it's true! No book is written the same, but all of them have a different style. The author of this book, Virginia Euwer Wolff, chose to write this story in a neat, detailed form from LaVaughn's point of view. I really enjoyed the way the story flowed and how the events and characters were introduced. I was really sad when the story ended, because I really wanted to know what happened to the characters next! 
My rating for this book...



Just because the ending wasn't what I really wanted and the way Jolly treats LaVaughn after____something____ happens. (I blanked that out because that reason is a MAJOR spoiler!) 

Here's a little info about the author of MAKE LEMONADE, Virginia Euwer Wolff! 


Award-winning author Virginia Euwer Wolff was born in Portland, Oregon, in 1937. “I grew up in rural Oregon in a log house with bark left on inside and out. We had no electricity, a massive stone fireplace, a grand piano, and tons of books.” Books have remained Wolff's treasures throughout her life, though she didn't become a published author until relatively late in her life. After receiving her Bachelor's degree from Smith College in 1959, she taught elementary school and later high school English.
Wolff's first book for young readers, Probably Still Nick Swansen, was published in 1988 and won both the International Reading Association Award and the PEN-West Book Award. Since then she has written several more critically acclaimed young adult novels, earning more honors, including the Golden Kite Award for Fiction and the Jane Addams Book Award for Children's Books that Build Peace.

The mother of a grown son and daughter, Wolff is also now grandmother of two. She lives in a cottage in Oregon, where she has a studio in the middle of the woods, “with lots of skylights and room to spread out, surrounded by my books.” An accomplished violinist, she is a member of the Chamber Music Society of Oregon. She also enjoys hiking, swimming, and gardening. (from the SCHOLASTIC website) 

Thank you for visiting me for MMGM and I hope you enjoyed my review! Have a nice week! :-)

~Cindy

Here are the links: 

  • If you would like find out more about MAKE LEMONADE or learn more about Virginia Euwer Wolff, click HERE
  • If you would like to check out more MMGM's or go back to Shannon Messenger's blog, click HERE



Stargirl (MMGM)

Saturday, August 8, 2015

I'm super excited for today's MMGM. This week, I'm reviewing STARGIRL, by Jerry Spinelli! I think this cover is ultra-awesome once you get it...






  • Age Range: 12 and up 
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Ember; Reprint edition (May 14, 2002)

"Stargirl. From the day she arrives at quiet Mica High in a burst of color and sound, the hallways hum with the murmur of “Stargirl, Stargirl.” She captures Leo Borlock’ s heart with just one smile. She sparks a school-spirit revolution with just one cheer. The students of Mica High are enchanted. At first. 

Then they turn on her. Stargirl is suddenly shunned for everything that makes her different, and Leo, panicked and desperate with love, urges her to become the very thing that can destroy her: normal. In this celebration of nonconformity, Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli weaves a tense, emotional tale about the perils of popularity and the thrill and inspiration of first love."

I don't know why but STARGIRL's cover reminded me of John Green's THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, which I heard is another very inspiring book. The reason why Stargirl inspired me is because she's not afraid to stand out and be different. All of the kids in Mica high are similar in some way, but Stargirl is unique and not like any girl you've ever seen. I think this story is super cool, because it shows you the power of being an individual and how awful people can be when someone is different from them. 

Here are...

5 Reasons to Read (And Love) STARGIRL: 


  • Its inspiring theme. Being diverse. Being extraordinary. Being different. Being Stargirl. It shows us the power of being unique and standing out. 
  •  Jerry Spinelli's style of writing. I really like his writing because he mixes in details and transitions the story really well which moves it along and also makes it quite enjoyable. I love, love, love, love, love his writing. 
  • The cover. I cannot tell you how much I like the cover. I mean it's literally perfect for the title. Get it? Star...girl...
  • The love-able characters. I'm not kidding when I say that the characters are extremely love-able. We have the two main characters, Stargirl (Don't forget her pet mouse!)  and Leo, and then the "villain" or typical mean popular girl, Hillari Kimble and then the side characters which are Kevin (who is Leo's best friend) and Archie (who has bones and skulls in his house--trust me, it's not as creepy as it sounds). 
  • The fabulous things that do not need an explanation. Since Stargirl was such a hit, a sequel was made for it named, "Love, Stargirl" and a movie is being made for it! They start filming in October. 
Since I can't leave you hanging with how fabulous Jerry Spinelli's writing is, here are some quotes I found from the book: 

1. "There were hundreds of us, milling about, calling names, pointing to summer-tanned faces we hadn't seen since June. Our interest in one another was never keener than during the fifteen minutes before the first bell of the first day." 

2. "Mostly, she looked like a hundred other girls in school, except for two things. She wore no makeup, and her eyes were the biggest I had ever seen, like deer's eyes caught in headlights." 

3. "I had to admit, the more I saw of her, the easier it was to believe that she was a plant. a joke, anything but real. On that second day, she wore bright-red baggy shorts with a bub and shoulder straps--overall shorts. Her sandy hair was pulled back into two plaited pigtails, each tied with a bright-red ribbon."

Now, here's a little bio about the amazing author of Stargirl, JERRY SPINELLI! 


"Spinelli was born on February 1, 1941, in Norristown, Pennsylvania, to Lou Spinelli, a typesetter, and Lorna Bigler. His family lived in an apartment that was situated in front of a smelly brewery in the East End of Norristown. Spinelli didn't read much as a child because he was always too busy playing sports. He reserved reading for times when he was "bored." When Spinelli went to highschool, his school football team won a big game. After the game, he went home and wrote a poem about the game. A few days later, his poem was published in the local newspaper. Spinelli gave up his dream of becoming a major league baseball player and decided he wanted to be a writer instead."

To wrap up this week's MMGM, here are the links!

If you would like to learn more about Stargirl or check out Jerry Spinelli's website, click HERE

If you would like to go back to Shannon Messenger's website or check out more MMGM's click HERE

Thanks so much for joining me for MMGM, and I hope you have a nice week! :-)

~Cindy 


Movie Reviews: INSIDE OUT and DESCENDANTS (MMGM)

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Hi everyone! First off, I'm so happy to announce that I have won an award! Because of this blog! A special thanks to all of my readers and especially to Achieve, the awesome program that allowed me to show my potential and learn new things this summer. Thanks so much for the Outstanding Student Award! You don't know how much that means to me! 

Second, this week, I'm doing two movie reviews! I know I'm slightly late on the Inside Out review, but I just watched it on Friday at the movie theater and it was awesome! And as for DESCENDANTS, I watched it early on the Watch Disney app, and that one was awesome as well! Here are the reviews! 

Inside Out: 
"Meet the little voices inside your head." ~Inside Out



Release date: June 19, 2015 
Director: Pete Docter
Production companies: Pixar, Walt Disney Pictures

I am in LOVE with this movie poster. Each character is portrayed perfectly. Here's the storyline...

"Riley is a happy, hockey-loving 11-year-old Midwestern girl, but her world turns upside-down when she and her parents move to San Francisco. Riley's emotions -- led by Joy-- try to guide her through this difficult, life-changing event. However, the stress of the move brings Sadness to the forefront. When Joy and Sadness are inadvertently swept into the far reaches of Riley's mind, the only emotions left in Headquarters are Anger, Fear and Disgust."

I think the reason why I love this movie so much is because of the characters. Let me introduce you to them: 

Joy: She's the leader of the emotions. Joy makes sure that Riley is happy and that everything is running smoothly. 

Sadness: She's the storm. She's the rain. She's Sadness. And she also thinks that happy movies are the ones where the dog dies. 

Anger: To say that he has anger issues is to put it mildly. He's the crazy one with the flaming fire on his head. 

Fear: Fear is the little purple dude who's scared of everything. I don't think there's any explanation needed 

Disgust: She's grossed out 99% of the time and in my opinion is the most sassy one in the group. 

By the end of the movie, I felt like I was family with all of the characters. There were ups and there were downs, but the characters will probably stick with me for a very long time. The script was written very clearly and it was very easy to understand which makes the movie perfect for the younger audience, but also very dramatic, which makes it perfect for adults as well. 

I think my favorite character would have to be Joy, because even after some MAJOR let downs and obstacles she never gave up and always found another way around the problem. She also has a very good sense of humor, which makes the movie both seriously touching and funny. 

THE FINAL RATING...

There's no doubt of what my rating is: 


Isn't this picture awesome? Each of the stars go to each of the characters! 


Now we are switching gears to...

DESCENDANTS: 


"They're not bad. They're just born that way." ~Descendants

Director: Kenny Ortega
Initial Release: July 31, 2015 (USA)
Distributor: Disney Channel

I cannot describe how much I loved this movie. Not only did they do a continuation and mashup of all of Disney's most evil villains, they also had some pretty awesome people star in the movie including: Dove Cameron, Cameron Boyce, Booboo Stewart, and Sofia Carson. Here's the totally evil-licious story line... 

"King Beast and Queen Belle marry, unite the Disney kingdoms into the United States of Auradon, and are elected the leaders of the new idyllic kingdom. All the villains, sidekicks, and accomplices are forced after their defeat to live imprisoned on the Isle of the Lost, a forbidden island surrounded by a barrier that also inhibits magic.
In present day, Auradon, Prince Ben, the teenage son of King Beast and Queen Belle, is about to ascend the throne. His first official proclamation offers a chance at redemption to selected trouble-making teenage children of villains from the Isle of the Lost. The villainous descendants are allowed into Auradon to attend a prep school alongside the teenage children of iconic Disney heroes. However, the evil teens are under pressure by their parents to help all the villains regain power by stealing the Fairy Godmother's magic wand."

This movie is about how the privilege of a lifetime is finding who you are and embracing that person. It's a wonderful movie about individuality, being different, and find where you belong. Here are some descriptions about the main characters to help you get to know them better. 

Mal: Rumor has it that Mal is the most evil of all because her mom happens to be the one and only...Maleficent. (Played by Dove Cameron) 

Evie: Who's the fairest one of all? Well it better be Evie, because she's the daughter of the Evil Queen. Totally evil, right? (Played by Sofia Carson)

Jay: Everyone says that "The true judgement of one's character is what they do when no one is watching." If you know who you're dealing with, you better watch your stuff! Because Jay's a pickpocket and plain old thief. Jay's father is Jafar. (Played by Booboo Stewart)

Carlos: He's a pretty fast runner...if there's a dog chasing him. Carlos is the son of Cruella De Vil. (Played by Cameron Boyce)

This movie had my heart beating so fast that I thought I might've died on the spot. There are SO, SO, SO many plot twists and I swear to god you will never be able to guess what happens. I can't say much without revealing things so now might be a good time to end the post before I give you guys spoilers...

THE FINAL RATING: 

The stars are purple because Mal's color is obviously purple! :-)

Thanks so much for joining me for MMGM and I hope you all have a nice week!

~Cindy

Links: 

-To go to Shannon Messenger's website or to find more MMGM's, click HERE
-To get more details about Inside Out, click HERE
-To learn more about Disney's Descendants, click HERE










 
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