Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Reading Room (14)

The Reading Room is a weekly update on books I'm reading and planning to read. It was inspired by the feature On Myshelf at the blog All By Myshelf.

Well, I finally finished The Iron King last week. It wasn't horrible but it definitely wasn't outstanding - it remained extremely mediocre right through until the end. When I was feeling more optimistic, I downloaded one of the eBooks that goes with the series on my Nook since it was free, but reading it would require reading the rest of the series, and unless it improves drastically I'm not sure I'm up for that. 

This week's reading list is looking much more promising. I'm still working on Lights on the Nile and The Fire, but I did grab a few new books from the school library on Thursday during our Reading Competition meeting.

The first was Firebirds Soaring, the third in a series of science fiction and fantasy anthologies edited by Sharyn November. The first two were absolutely phenomenal, and so far I'm really enjoying this one. The stories are as interesting and unique, and I love the illustrations that have been added - they really add another layer to the book. The only downside of reading this book is that it's the last Firebirds anthology, so I'll have to start looking elsewhere for my short story collections once I finish it. 

It took me awhile to decide what my second book would be, but I finally settled on The Crowfield Demon, the sequel to The Crowfield Curse. It was on display and caught my eye as soon as I wandered back into the fiction section. I read The Crowfield Curse awhile ago but still remember it because it was pretty awesome; hopefully the sequel will be just as good. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

As if it was Your Best Friend

This post will be short - it's just a thought that's been lingering in my head for a few weeks - but I think it's important. It first occurred to me at Youth Group; I don't remember what our Youth Leader's lesson was exactly, but I know it had something to do with your friends and how they influence you, and how you ca influence them to become closer to God. That same week, two new people started coming to Youth Group, both of whom went to my school. I'd never been particularly close to either one of them, but I was still thrilled to see them there. 

That's what brings me to this story. About a year ago, one of my very close friends had strayed extremely far away from God. She'd even mentioned to a few people that she had changed her religion from Christianity to witchcraft and was making extremely negative comments to my best friend, who's just as serious of a Christian as I am, criticizing her for her religion. Of course, both my best friend and I were upset about this; we had many long discussions about what we should say or do and met with our Youth leaders several times. We tried so hard to lead her to God; every time I prayed, I asked Him to open her heart to Him. 

And it worked. At first it was small things. She wore her cross necklace again. She stopped criticizing us. She still swore, but she started saying "Oops," or at least, "Sorry," afterwards if we were around and she knew it bothered us. Then finally any swearing became less frequent. Now she comes (regularly!) to the same Youth Group I go to, and has actually invited someone else she knows to start coming. Compared to a year ago, it's such a remarkable change - though this isn't the main point of my post.

The point is how devoted we were to helping her find God again. We were willing to do anything He told us to in order to bring her back, because she's one of our best friends. The thing is, though, that's the way we should be treating everyone we know who isn't a Christian. We should be trying just as hard as if they were our best friend - even if they're our worst enemy. God wants them to know Him, and we should want to do anything he tells us to make that happen. It's not always going to be easy, but we have to try.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Reading Room (13)

The Reading Room is a weekly update on books I'm reading and planning to read. It was inspired by the feature On Myshelf at the blog All by Myshelf.

For some unknown reason, I've had absolutely no homework this week, so I've been able to finish the books from my last post. I loved A Tale of Two Castles just as much as I thought I would, and La's Orchestra Saves the World was good, too. The only book I haven't finished is - of course - The Iron King. The plot's starting to get more interesting and with the other books read I think I'll be able to finish it this week, but so far I don't like the characters and nothing's pulled me into the story.

With my reading list diminished, it was of course time for a trip to the library. And...well, before I go any farther, I promise, I can explain.

The very first book I grabbed was Lights on the Nile, by Donna Jo Napoli, for several reasons: it was new, it looked good, and it's another book I can add to my reading list for the YA Historical Fiction Challenge I'm participating in. I know, I know. I've already read two books set in Ancient Egypt since the beginning of the school year, Cleopatra Confesses and Cleopatra's Moon. At least this one's not about Cleopatra! And I promise, the next book I find will be something that doesn't relate to Egypt. Well, the next book after The Red Pyramid, which is one of our books for Reading Competition.

I wandered around for awhile after I found this book, looking for another one to take home. There were a lot of new books on display, but most were the second in a series (and of course they didn't have the first one) or just didn't look that interesting. I finally settled on How to Save a Life, by Sara Zarr, which I had looked at but was unsure about until the librarian recommended it. I trust her judgement - it hasn't steered me to a bad book yet.

Two books, however, are not nearly enough for a dedicated bookworm like myself with more time on her hands than she's used to. Plus, I'd found some unused Barnes&Noble gift cards and the 14-odd dollars were burning a hole in my pocket. So after I returned from the library, I downloaded The Fire, the final book in James Patterson's Witch and Wizard series. I can't wait to see where he's going with it and how it's going to end. It left me with only a few dollars left, but there might be another gift card coming my way if I keep up my A in math until the end of the marking period.

Hoping this no-homework trend continues,

Monday, March 12, 2012

Inspire (6)

Inspire is a weekly writing prompt or writing exercise, posted on Mondays. Anyone who's interested can participate, and you're more than welcome to share what you've written by posting a link in the comments.

This week, go to something you're working on and pick a character, or, if you're not working on anything at the moment, create something new - for now, focus on creating a character. Once you have your character chosen or created, give them a choice to make. It can be something simple, like what to wear to a party, or something major, like which college to go to or which job to accept or something else significant. Or it can be something little that seems big at the time but isn't in the long run - like who to go to a dance with or what sports to sign up for. It could also be interesting to give them a choice that seems small, but has a bigger effect than they expected. These aren't instructions, just suggestions, so feel free to interpret them however you want.

Whatever you decide to do, focus on the character's thoughts and motivations. Why is the choice difficult or not difficult for them? What are the things they consider? What motivates them to make the choice they ultimately do, and are they happy with it afterwords? Use this as an opportunity to explore character and conflict and how they work together. Of course, if you use a story that you're already working on and the choice doesn't work, you can take it back out, but it might help you to get a better sense of your character. Have fun with this one, and dig as deep as you can.