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Giveaway Winners and Kindle Mania

When I tell you the story of how I got my first Kindle, you’re going to laugh at me.  Remember, I was once a librarian and I believe fully in the power of physical books, books that smell of old ink and paper, books that have been read 100s of times by other eyes, held by other hands, books that you can hug to your chest when they get really good.  I never wanted a Kindle.  I was like that guy on the bus in the commercial–proudly reading my paperback while everyone else stared at a screen.  I’m still often that girl, but I have to admit I love my Kindle.

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I love the image on the start screen of the little dude sitting under a tree reading a book.  I can’t tell you how often I spent my childhood days just like that.  It just seems full of promise.

Anyway, when Amazon first came out with the Kindle, my beautiful husband told me he wanted to get me one for Christmas.  He said if I could have books on a Kindle, maybe there would be room in the house to walk and we could stop using stacks of books for coffee tables.  (That was a mild exaggeration, but if you ever saw my house, it is–even now–covered in books of all shapes, sizes, and genres.  I could start my own library.)  I scoffed at him.  I Did Not Want a machine to read on. Good grief, I was a librarian; I Believed In Books. Get me something I want for Christmas, for goodness sake.

The next Christmas he was harping about the very same thing.  Thanks to rummage sales and thrift stores and Amazon, even more books were scattered throughout the house.  I adamantly refused.  Then he came home from work one glorious day.  He told me a woman he works with had a Kindle.  “She said you can get all kinds of free books,” he said.  Free Books?  My head turned.  My ears perked up.  “She said there’s all kinds of classic novels that you can get for free.”

Free. Classic. Novels?

I began to ponder the wisdom of my obstinacy.  And, before that second Christmas had passed, dreams of all those free books dancing through my head (kind of like sugar plums), I agreed.  He could get me a Kindle for Christmas.

Boom. Hooked.

At first I filled my Kindle with all the Dickens and Austen and Tolstoy (among many others) I could.  Not because I don’t already own the paper versions, but so they would all be in the same place.  As I trolled the Kindle store for more free stuff, I also began to realize what this meant.  I would not have to drive all the way to Louisville anymore to go to the bookstore or wait a week to receive a book from my beloved Amazon.  I could order them for my Kindle and they would come right to it!  Immediately!  Like Magic!

Obsessed.

When I discovered the text-to-speech option, you couldn’t tear me away.  I began to listen to my books when I was cooking, washing dishes,driving the car.  I Loved My Kindle.  I Was So Very Attached.

When I bought the Littles tablets for school, I was bowled over that I could hook them up to my Kindle account and they would have access to all my Kindle books.  We have used that feature often during read-aloud time (though admittedly, not nearly as much as we use paper books).  It was a revelation for our homeschool, though, to be able to access the classics together without having to buy 3 copies of the same book.  My love deepened.

I had that first one for about 2 years.  The love affair was still strong, till death do us part.  Then one day I was mopping the kitchen.  I had the Kindle propped up on the counter, listening to who-knows-what-beautiful-story.  Littlest walked by me and, being Littlest, promptly knocked my Kindle off the counter.  Into the bucket of mop water.  I cried.  Not quite as hard as I cried the day my glasses broke, but I cried.  I called Martin and he said, “Order a new one.  Get you a Kindle Fire this time.”

I Did Not Want A Kindle Fire.  I wanted My Kindle, with text-to-speech.  And all the info on Amazon about the Fire did not mention Text-to-Speech.  (FYI, the Fire does have the option, but I had no way of knowing that until I bought Big one for Christmas a year or so later.)  Seriously, even though they had stopped making my particular Kindle in lieu of a newer version, I searched the interweb for it and found a new one Just Like Mine.  And I ordered it.

I’ve had this one for about 2 years.  I still don’t have a tablet of my own.  My Kindle is for books and that is all I use it for.  There goes that obstinacy again.

The moral of the story is, of course, if you read books on paper and you drop one into the mop bucket, you’ve only dropped one book and chances are you can let it dry out and still read it.  But a Kindle has its own kind of magic.  Just… you can lose a thousand books at once if you’re not careful.  So don’t Littlest around when you’re mopping.

Now for the exciting news, the winners of the Dr. Seuss canvas giveaway!  Thanks to everyone who entered, but we can only have 2 winners.

seus canvasesThe winner of the blue Oh! The Places You’ll Go canvas is Gabrielle B!

The winner of the pink Lorax canvas is Amy M!

I will be contacting the winners via email to get your shipping info, so make sure you get back to me quickly.

Happy Friday, my lovelies.

Love wins,

KT

 

How Reading Counters Meanness

I have a story for you.  It’s a story about a little girl who loved to read.  When she was very young, she saw all of her family–mother, father, brother–always immersed in books.  Her father and brother read wonderful stories to her from those books.  She begged to be taught to read herself and finally her brother taught her because she couldn’t wait until she was in school to get to read stories herself.

austen reading by the window

Years passed.  Friends came into her life.  They laughed at the books she always carried, but they also asked what each story was about.  The girl began to write stories of her own, trying to match the wonder she found in Raggedy Ann stories and Nancy Drew mysteries.  She never stopped writing stories or reading books.  In high school, all her teachers encouraged her to become a writer.  With knowing smiles, they allowed her to read her own book when she should have been paying attention in class.  She discovered new authors without assistance–Charles Dickens, Alexandre Dumas, Jane Austen.  She began to understand history in a way she wouldn’t have otherwise.  When stress or meanness came into her life, she had a place to go, always.  She always had a book.

Last week, my beautiful husband was sick.  He had bronchitis, sinusitus, and an upper respiratory infection.  He was not feeling well at all, and he stayed home from work the whole week.  This meant I ran more than usual, hopping into the car to go to the store and pick up this or that for him.  Apparently it was a bad week for everyone around here, because about 80% of the people with whom I came into contact were grumpy and mean.  Or condescending and mean.  Or annoyed and mean.

high five

If you’ve been reading me for any length of time, then you know that I believe that the most important human trait is kindness and that I practice it every moment.  When people are mean to me, I have to admit,  I get confused.  If I am being polite, friendly, kind… why the hell are people responding to me this way?  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t take a lot of guff, and when a situation calls for strength, I find it.  But if the cashier at the gas station stares a hole through me because I’m taking too long to put my change away, am I supposed to stare back?  Attack her, either verbally or physically?  Well, no, the situation calls for none of those things.  I don’t know what’s going on in her life to make her so impatient–I don’t even know her name–so why would I pull out my cranky card?

get well card

After one particular similar situation, I left the store and climbed into my car.  My brain was still trying to assess the event and I was feeling confused and a little hurt and a little offended and a little like, “Why the f— did I come out in public again?”  I put the keys in the ignition and looked down at the console.  There sat my Kindle.  Ready to be turned on, the text-to-speech option almost blinking at me with its serenity.  And I smiled.  And I forgot the meanness inside the store as I remembered I had a beautiful story to listen to on the way home, and I didn’t know that woman.  She didn’t even know my name.  In an hour she will have forgotten me.  In 2 minutes, I would forget her.  I turned on my Kindle, put the car in reverse, and smiled as that wonderful robotic voice began to read to me.

I had a book.  I always have a book.

This.  This is why we want to engender a love of reading in our children.  Sure, there are other reasons–to promote literacy and good speech, to help them learn about the world, to give them knowledge.  But the single best thing about a book is that it takes you away.  I’ve said it before, but I fully believe that teaching our littles to love reading gives them a healthy form of escapism and could save them from trying other, more dangerous ways to escape.  Sure, I could have come straight home and poured a stiff drink to shake off that incident.  It probably would have relaxed me.  But by the time I got home I would have been stewing in it for 15 minutes, blowing it up in my head, letting my feelings hurt even more.  I might have needed 2 drinks at that point. haha

reading escape

 

Instead, I had immediate succor.  Something that relaxed me and made the incident seem as trivial as it really was.  We want that for our kids, don’t we?  Because no matter how much we want to and how hard we try, we can’t protect them from all the mean people in the world or all the temporarily mean moods.

There is nothing more relaxing than falling into a good story and staying there until your brain is ready to deal with your problems.  So read to your littles.  Read in front of your littles.  Have your littles read to you.  Read, read, read.

Some day, when they’re pulling away from the store with an oncoming headache, they will thank you.

Love wins,

KT

YA Book Review: Qualify by Vera Nazarian

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Qualify (Book 1 of The Atlantis Grail) by Vera Nazarian

Gwen Lark is a heck of a hero.  And her story is full of excitement and adventure, kind of The 100 meets the Hunger Games.  See, there’s an asteroid hurtling toward Earth and in 18 months, it is all over.  Fortunately for a select bunch of humans, the ancient Atlanteans have returned to Earth in their spaceships.  It turns out the citizens of Atlantis didn’t die out or sink, but took to the stars during a similar world-ending catastrophe.  Now they’re back, and they have room for a small percentage of the world’s teens to return with them to their new home planet.  Problem is, the teens have to Qualify to go.  And Qualification takes intelligence, skill, creativity, and athletic ability.  Gwen has some of those things, but athletic ability?  Not so much.  She gives her all, though, and makes friends along the way.

I had a few problems with this book, but they weren’t so bad that I wasn’t engrossed from the first page.  There were some grammar issues.  While I am a huge fan of correct grammar, I’m also a fan of creative grammar–think Stephen King’s 1-sentence (or even 1-word) paragraphs, or using slang outside of dialog–but there are some things newer authors do that drive me batty.  Overusing adjectives.  Example: It was an over-sized large dome.  Um, doesn’t over-sized mean large?  Even bigger than large?  Don’t do that.  It’s redundant.  Also, if you really want to drive me nuts, put a comma in the wrong place.  Don’t they teach this stuff in school anymore?  Even in the middle of an otherwise brilliant scene, I will get hung up on that missing or misplaced comma for a good 10-30 seconds, consider not only how I would make it right but what I would say if the author and/or editor were right in front of me, and plot the myriad ways in which I could kill them.  Only after I’ve done all this can I read on, and I will still be thinking about it 3 pages later.

So yeah, there were a few issues, but they were mostly grammatical.  Because even with these gaffs the story was totally riveting.  Action-packed and mysterious, it kept me turning the pages.  Qualify is a good, long read, too.  It probably could have been broken up into two books, with a little more emphasis on the Finals part of Qualification, but since I don’t know where the story is going in the next book, who am I to say?  If you have a teen or pre-teen who loves adventure, apocalypse, and outerspace, I definitely recommend this one.  And the awesome part it, it’s free right now on Kindle.

Love wins,

KT

 

 

 

Dickens for Christmas

I have mentioned before that I like to read Charles Dickens at Christmas time.  I’ve also mentioned that for the past couple of years, I’ve included the Littles in my Dickens reading.  We read A Christmas Carol together 2 years ago, and last year we read Oliver Twist.  This year, they are on a slightly darker kick, and they’ve decided that after we finish Something Wicked This Way Comes this week, they want to read Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  I’m down with that.  Too many people don’t get the opportunity to read that book and take all their impressions of it from the various movies out there (my favorite of which is Mary Reilly).  So I’m thrilled the Littles want to read it now.

Dude, shave that crazy beard

Dude, shave that crazy beard

But I still have to read Dickens for Christmas.  One thing I’ve learned in the last two years is that I enjoy reading Dickens slowly.  A chapter a day?  I think I can hold myself to that.  So I started David Copperfield this morning.  Slipping into a Dickens novel is like sliding on your favorite, old, worn pair of blue jeans for me.  I’ve read A Lot of his books, several of them (think Great Expectations) many, many times.  But I’ve never read David Copperfield, believe it or not.  So I’m very excited to read this one.  Of course, I know the story.  But it’s kind of like if you’ve seen those stupid Hunger Games movies… Ugh! the books are infinitely better.  I’ll put it this way… I’ve read the Hunger Games series twice.  It is literally in my top 3 favorite trilogies of all time.  But I stopped watching the movies after the second one.  Truth?  I only watched the second one to see if they did something to make up for all the enormous gaffs in the first one.  They didn’t.

A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol

But don’t let me step up on that soapbox.  I might never come down.

My point is that reading the book is Always Always Better.  You know that, right?  So I’m really excited to be reading David Copperfield.  So excited that maybe, yeah, it’s going to be Very Difficult to stick to a chapter a day.

The thing about reading a chapter a day, whether it’s aloud in your homeschool or on your own, is that you are better able to savor what’s happening in the book.  If you know me, you know I read roughly 3-5 books per week.  I have since I was 5.  I love books.  I love stories.  I find the oddest times to read.  I listen to books on my Kindle when I’m driving.  I’m not kidding; I can’t remember the last time I heard music.  I listen to books when I’m cooking.  I sneak out of the house when it’s all rowdy and testerone-filled and go sit in the woods and read.  I read while I’m in my deer stand, waiting for deer to show up.  I literally Cannot Go To Sleep if I don’t at least read a couple pages in bed.  If I have a morning when I don’t have to be up moving and Martin gets up before me, I read in secret while everyone thinks I’m asleep.  See why I might have trouble sticking to a chapter a day?  I may have to read two books at once for the next 2 months.  Or maybe I’ll finish this one and read Great Expectations or A Tale of Two Cities again.

A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities

Ever read A Tale of Two Cities?  Wow.  Excellent stuff.

Wait.  Where was I?  Oh, savoring your book.  Dickens’ writing style can be difficult, especially for early readers and people who haven’t spent a lot of time with the classics.  We don’t talk that way anymore, and in this world of instant gratification, we definitely don’t write that way anymore.  Sentences that have more than 40 words?  Not just a couple of them, but most of them!  Yeah, we don’t have the attention span for it these days, do we?  Remeber, when Dickens was writing, there were no TVs, no internet, no social media with its limited characters.  Books were the most highly valued form of entertainment.  That’s why the classics are the best kind to read.  They don’t just rush through the story with as much action as possible.  They help you think a bit more about life, they slow you down.  So savoring them makes them all the sweeter.

If you are tackling a classic novel with your littles, be it The Secret Garden or Black Beauty or The Grapes of Wrath, going slowly and discussing Everything is the best way to make sure they’re following.  Reading the book twice within a few years (as we have done with Something Wicked) can help your child catch things he may not have fully understood the first time around.  If you’re reading by yourself and I’ve convinced you to delve into the world of Dickens, a chapter a day can give you time to think about what you’ve read, mull it over, and come to a deeper understanding.  And to email me, maybe, if you’re lost and need an explanation.  I’m pretty good at those.  When I’m not rambling.

David Copperfield

Come on, read David Copperfield with me.  It’ll be fun.  I Swear.

If I didn’t give you anything useful today, I apologize fully.  I realize I rabbit-trailed through this entire post and I’m totally owning it.  Okay, so I don’t apologize.  Sometimes I just like to let you in on what I’m thinking.

Love wins,

KT

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