Notes from the playlist: "Bananaphone" by Raffi
Saturday, November 22, 2014
Notes from the playlist: "Bananaphone" by Raffi
Saturday, November 15, 2014
Pros: Very well-written and has plenty of good ideas.
The Bottom Line: Good ideas worthy of checking out, but see if your library has it first - especially if you already keep a notebook.
In 2010 I owned over 12 notebooks, practically all of them chock full of stuff. Some are random notebooks, other have specific purposes, and a few that were still empty. I don't know how many I have now. But at the time, to my utter delight, I got two free ones while buying my college books my last semester (still don’t know why, but I wasn't going to argue over glorious sheets of white, college-ruled paper). So I decided one of them should be my notebook for my Writing Seminar class.
Breathing In, Breathing Out by Ralph Fletcher was the book of choice for the class. It’s 94 pages (the last 5 pages just the bibliography and such). There are 16 short chapters discussing various topics of writing in a notebook. Some of these ideas include:
- Making lists
- Writing about the past
- Your notebook is a place for pieces to sit and “compost” (they hang out until you find ways to use them later if you’re so inclined to)
- It’s okay to write like crap in your notebook
- Go ahead and reread stuff
- Write down little facts, quotes from others, little things that act as triggers
Fletcher does a good job putting across exactly what he wants readers to get. He doesn’t push the writer to do anything; he just puts it out there for you to try in your own notebook. Anything to get you writing. If you don’t keep a notebook, or are thinking about getting one, I highly encourage you to do so, it’s really handy and fun, and I do recommend taking a peek at this book because it’s full of nifty tidbits you might never have thought of before.
That was my problem though. It says on the back, “This book is for new writers as well as those who may once have loved to write but have lost the spark along the way.” Um, well, I’m neither one of those. I’ve always had at least one notebook going. That and I do everything he suggests in the book. Ha! So in the end, though it was fun to read and think, “Cool, I already do that,” it wasn’t really of any help to me. But that’s a good thing for people who aren’t like me, haha. It really is a source of goodies for new and lost writers.
Ralph Fletcher also has a kid's version available (as this version is now out of print. Aww.)
Posted by Nicole at Saturday, November 15, 2014
Saturday, November 8, 2014
Saturday, November 1, 2014
Notes from the playlist: "I Am Here" by System Syn
Posted by Nicole at Saturday, November 01, 2014
Saturday, October 25, 2014
As usual, Tolkien's past work comes alive.
If you ever wanted to know how Middle Earth came to be (as well as it's inhabitants) then The Silmarillion will tell you. In a way, it is almost like the Bible of Middle Earth and Beleriand.
The book is broken down into several different sections. These sections are Ainulindale (The Music of the Ainur), Valaquenta (Account of the Valar), Quenta Silmarillion (History of the Silmarils) with the appendix of Akallabeth (The Downfall of Numenor) and one final piece, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age.
Ainulindale is the very beginning. It begins with Eru, or Iluvatar (to be blunt, he is like God) who makes the Ainur (the Holy Ones), each one being a part of him. They are like lesser gods. Ainulindale deals with the Ainur and Iluvatar and the creation of Ea (the Universe) and Arda (Earth). This is done through the music the Ainur sings, and also visible are the beginnings of conflict between the Ainur and Melkor, one of the Ainur who desires to be like Iluvatar (and resembles Satan further in the future).
Note: Though I refer to Iluvatar here as God and Melkor to Satan, I am in not trying to suggest Tolkien meant this or anything else. I am simply giving you a something familiar to compare these characters to.
Valaquenta is a short section with small subheadings of "Account of the Valar and Maiar according to the lore of the Eldar, Of the Valar, Of the Maiar" and "Of the Enemies." The first piece is a brief summary of what has just been read, Ainulindale. "Of the Valar" describes the Ainur who entered the Earth, thus their name becoming the Valar. It discusses each of the Valar by name, what they do on Earth, and other tidbits of information. Though Melkor descended onto Earth with them, he is no longer counted among the Valar, and no one speaks of him. "Of the Maiar" deals with gods even lesser than the Valar. The Maiar are the Valar’s servants and helpers. Here brief pieces are written on them. "Of the Enemies" discusses Melkor, who is forever after known as Morgoth through the words of the Elves. He was given great power and knowledge by Iluvatar, but because of his desires to rule and gain power, they were taken for granted. Here is written about his frightening greatness and how Maiar were drawn to him from it, and this is what Sauron is – a Maiar. Blarogs, demons of terror and fire served him also.
Quenta Silmarillion (History of the Silmarils) is broken up into 24 chapters, each dealing with a specific topic. The events go in chronological order, but sometimes there are so many names of places and people (sometimes multiple names of one person or place) to remember, it can feel as though you’re going in circles. This is the meat of The Silmarillion. Here you will learn about The Beginning of Days, The Coming of the Elves (Elves are also known as the Firstborn because they came before Men), how Dwarves were made, the doings of Morgoth (Melkor), and a long story on the Elf Feanor and how his creations, the Silmarils, jewels that held the beauty and light of the two trees of the Valar, became a curse. These Silmarils are the reason for Elven kinslaying, wars between Elves, Men, and Morgoth, and the reason Dwarves and Elves hate each other. Also included are many other wars dealing with Morgoth and his servants against Elves, Men, and Dwarves, and occasionally the Valar who step in to put down Morgoth. Afterward, you will read how things came to an end…and yet not so.
Akallabeth (The Downfall of Numenor) is a long, detailed explanation on just what the title says – the downfall of the kingdom of Numenor. From its beginning to its end, you will find out why Numenor was created and why it was destroyed.
Finally there is Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age. This is simply a shortened version (a very shortened version!) of The Lord of the Rings with a little bit of prehistory to explain the reasons for the aforesaid book to have occurred.
After this are various tables and pieces of information. These include Genealogies (four of them), a table of the different forms of Elves (that’s right, they’re not all exactly the same!), Pronunciation lists, an Index of Names, and an appendix of Quenya and Sindarin names (Elvish names). In this book are also two maps for you to look at and perhaps use as you read.
This book contains stories of death, life, rebirth, betrayal, and true love. Most notably (as the title denotes) is the love between Beren and Luthien, found in the Quenta Silmarillion. Their love is many times referred to when it comes to Aragorn and Arwen in The Lord of the Rings. A Human and an Elf coming together against seemingly impossible odds to eventually live happily ever after - whether that be in death or life.
The Silmarillion is so rich in detail and information it is hard to even begin describing how amazing it is to see such worlds and people come to life through Tolkien's hand. It is without much dialogue, and the dialogue that does exist is within the paragraphs and not as a usual story. Though it make take some time to read, and maybe even a few times through, it's worth it. And besides, if you want to know even more information when reading The Lord of the Rings, then this is the only way to get it.
If you want to know a lot more about the third age, to take a gander at my review of The Lord of the Rings, where it all began.
Notes from the playlist: "Feast of Starlight" by Howard Shore
Posted by Nicole at Saturday, October 25, 2014
Saturday, October 18, 2014
Posted by Nicole at Saturday, October 18, 2014
Saturday, October 11, 2014
Pros: Kind of cute.
Cons: Some words are hard to find. I'll explain.
Notes from the playlist: "Summertime Sadness" by Within Temptation
Posted by Nicole at Saturday, October 11, 2014
Saturday, October 4, 2014
Posted by Nicole at Saturday, October 04, 2014
Saturday, September 27, 2014
The Bottom Line: What happens when your box of crayons decides to quit? At least they let you know first...
Posted by Nicole at Saturday, September 27, 2014
Saturday, September 20, 2014
Pro: The perfect summer read and exactly what I needed (and hoped it would be!)
Notes from the playlist: "A Strange New World" by Brian D'oliveira
Posted by Nicole at Saturday, September 20, 2014
Saturday, May 10, 2014
Notes from the playlist: "All Souls Night" by Loreena McKennitt
Posted by Nicole at Saturday, May 10, 2014
Saturday, April 26, 2014
The Bottom Line: Recommended for entrepreneurs just starting out, big business CEOs that need to re-educate themselves, and people who just love Method (like me!)
Well, turns out Eric Ryan worked seven years in advertising and Adam Lowry worked as a climate scientist that included projects like the Kyoto Protocol. So maybe not so random after all. But after their initial How We Got Started story, the two discuss the seven obsessions that they have within and surrounding their business. Their beginning wasn’t easy and they had to learn several of these along the way, but their goal with this book is to help other entrepreneurs looking to make a difference in the world with whatever it is they may want to create. Frankly, I think a lot of current CEOs and their underlings could benefit from this book as well.
Here’s a really quick rundown of the main chapters (which I normally don’t do but for some reason want to today).
Method’s Seven Obsessions:
Obsession 1 – Create a Culture Club It’s all about having an amazing work environment without having to work at it – or at least, work too hard.
Obsession 2 – Inspire Advocates That would be me. Don’t just get customers – get people who love your products and tell everyone and their grandma about them.
Obsession 3 – Be a Green Giant Be earth-friendly, be human-friendly, and rock at it.
Obsession 4 – Kick Ass at Fast It’s not about being the fastest to market, but knowing how and when to be the fastest.
Obsession 5 – Relationship Retail Make your retailers a part of the process and they’ll be more enthusiastic about selling your goods.
Obsession 6 – Win on Product Experience If people have used it before, it’s not special. Give your product an edge by turning it into an entirely new experience.
Obsession 7 – Design Forget about the same old, same old. Be new, and be stunning in more ways that one.
Those are the obsessions that the Method team lives by in a nutshell. There are a lot of great things in this book that entrepreneurs will find motivating, engaging, and downright useful. I just work in a bookstore and I wanted to go out and try something new! It’s almost as though the enthusiasm of Eric and Adam is put right into the pages. With the way it’s written, perhaps it is.
As a Method Advocate (yes, I call myself this), I found this book to be highly interesting because I learned so much about the company. It’s not facts and figures, but instead how they function within their walls, how they learn, how they grow, how they work with their suppliers and retail outlets. About some of their values, known collectively as their Methodology; “What would MacGyver do?” and “Keep Method weird.” You see how hard they work to find just the right people to fill positions, keeping a spot empty for months on end until they have someone who is close to perfect for the job. Discovering all these things made me want to work for Method. Did you know it took them 8 years to finally be satisfied with their toilet bowl cleaner? That’s how long they worked on it because they wanted to get it right – not just put out some mediocre product.
Entrepreneurs are likely to be inspired by this book. The information offered is useful and practical. Eric and Adam don’t lecture and regurgitate facts about their business. They point out people who have inspired them, ideas they’ve borrowed from other companies because of their usefulness (like Google and Zappos.com), and things they’ve discovered over the years as their company grew. They also make sure to point out areas where they have made mistakes, such as expanding too quickly or realizing the faults in one of their Methodology values. They show how they grew from those mistakes, how they’ve learned from them so they don’t make any repeats in the future.
Other established companies should really take a look at this book too. Method does many things that most of us regular folk would absolutely love for other companies to do. Things, in fact, that these other companies truly should do for many very good reasons. Excellent customer service. Hiring quality people instead of just anyone off the street to fill the position and provide awful results. Handling marketing and advertising in smarter, more efficient ways. Changes that could be made in current, sadly lacking companies would be beneficial to everyone.
My love of Method aside, I really do think this book is an excellent resource. I hope it does help some people, and I hope those people create some amazing things that change the world for the better. I know that would make Adam and Eric pleased as punch.
**Fun fact: These two have such faith in their products that when at a UK presentation, a reporter asked Eric that if their toilet bowl cleaner was so nontoxic, why didn’t he drink some? Eric promptly pour a shot and downed it. Two others followed his example. (Not that they or I am saying drink Lil’ Bowl Blu, but geez, tell me that’s not trust in your product or commitment to it?)
Notes from the playlist: "Hey, Soul Sister" by Train
Posted by Nicole at Saturday, April 26, 2014
Saturday, April 19, 2014
Pros: A really good unicorn book
Cons: There is the occasional cliché, but can be easily overlooked (most probably won't notice anything)
The Bottom Line: Bruce Coville knows his unicorns, so you won't be disappointed.
For some reason I’ve always been the one to read my little sister’s books before she does. Like all the Harry Potter books – the first one was meant for her, but now it’s mine and I’ve bought all the rest on my own. Heck, I just bought the second book of The Unicorn Chronicles for Christmas and read it in two days – time enough to be done with it so she can have plenty of time to read it and I’ll be off to college.
Ok, enough about how I’m a fan of good fantasy and still read books that are meant for those much younger than me. Into the Land of the Unicorns is(obviously) a book about unicorns with 21 chapters and is 159 pages long. The author is Bruce Coville – a name I’ve come to know quite well upon my travels to every bookstore in search of the second book. Don’t know Bruce Coville? My Teacher Is An Alien? No? He has a dog named Booger you know. Anyway, that’s Bruce Coville.
This is Into the Land of the Unicorns, book one of The Unicorn Chronicles. Meet Cara, a young girl who lives with her grandmother on Earth. Sounds simple enough doesn’t it? However, right off the bat Cara and her grandmother find themselves being followed by a strange man, and in the midst of their escape, Cara’s grandmother gives her a strange amulet and tells her to A.) say “Luster, bring me home.” and then B.) jump from the top of a bell tower upon the twelfth chime.
Cara does just that and a moment later finds herself in a strange and beautiful land called Luster. Here she meets Lightfoot, a young (only about a hundred years old) unicorn, the Dimblethum (a man-bear), and the Squijum (a sort of monkey creature that is always rambunctious and hungry). It is with these three that Cara begins her journey to a place called Summerhaven where the Queen of the unicorns dwells so she can return home to her grandmother. On their way they meet Thomas the Tinker (who has a rather remarkable cart he takes with him) and must avoid nasty creatures called delvers, the arch-enemies (aside from the hunters) of the unicorns. They even have a run in with a dragon and someone Cara has not seen for a long, long time.
But why do these hunters seek to kill the unicorns so badly? What is so important about the amulet? What secrets will Cara unveil that will shed some light on her cloudy past? And if Cara is able to return home – will she find her grandmother? These are things that I cannot tell you – you must read The Unicorn Chronicles.
As for me, I enjoyed it. This was the first book I’ve read where unicorns have a big part. ...Actually this was the first book I’ve read with unicorns in it (aside from Harry Potter – but that poor unicorn was dead). It definitely gave me a new perspective on unicorns aside from the perfect and proper way we always think of them. How is that? Well one never thinks of unicorns talking in a, well, casual manner. Or being gruff and possibly unpleasant to be around. Everyone (character wise) develops quite fast but Coville manages it without much problem (trust me, if there was a problem I would have shot it down by now). The story behind the hunters is also quite an interesting tale, something I never would have thought up, and there is a lot of richness in this book despite its size, in the ways of detail that is. And there are tons of great ideas, I might add (such as Cara's run in with the dragon and Thomas's cart), but then I’m a fan of fantasy writing myself so I have a little log in my brain of what creatures are made by what authors to do certain things etc. etc.
As for the cliché thing I mentioned, well, most people won't notice anything in the least. For people who read a lot of fantasy however, I don't know about you, but I get kind of tired of some of the names people come up with. You know, the joining of two everyday words to make a name that occasionally makes me think of Native American names. "Lightfoot." "Skydancer." "Firethroat." The name of the unicorn world is "Luster." And why not? Shiny, beautiful, magical - it's only natural the place should be called Luster I guess. But then that's what everything translates into English I suppose, so I guess it's all right. Except then there are random other names like "Squijum" so it's not exactly consistent. I dunno, that's just me.
Either way, I think this is a great book and I’d let my kids read it if they were into fun fantasy type things. Except I don't have kids. But maybe you do. Oh well, even if you don't you can still read it. Who cares if it's supposed to be for the younger generation? But then, of course, you have to get the second book…
But that is another story.
Notes from the playlist: "My True Love's Eyes/The Cottage" by Jerry Goldsmith
Posted by Nicole at Saturday, April 19, 2014
Saturday, April 12, 2014
Posted by Nicole at Saturday, April 12, 2014
Saturday, April 5, 2014
Notes from the playlist: "Waiting Game" by Banks
Posted by Nicole at Saturday, April 05, 2014