Anne’s No Rules Friday 13

ILoveMusicAround the world, students are headed back to school. I thought I’d take this opportunity to share ten (and I totally cheated) of my favorite lyric-free, orchestra-heavy soundtracks. Some of these were better for studying STEM subjects and some were better for studying non-STEM subjects (like art, history, and english).

Back-to-School Music Recommendations:

  1. Braveheart;  Legends of the Fall; and Troy composed by James Horner
  2. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon composed by Tan Dun and Yo-Yo Ma
  3. Dracula composed by Wojciech Kilar
  4. Gladiator and The Last Samurai composed by Hans Zimmer
  5. The Living Sea composed by Sting
  6. The Lord of the Rings: the Fellowship of the Ring; the Two Towers; and the Return of the King composed by Howard Shore
  7. Othello composed by Charlie Mole
  8. The Red Violin composed by John Corigliano
  9. A River Runs Through It composed by Mark Isham
  10. Snow White and the Huntsman composed by James Newton Howard

Because I like singing, I have a hard time studying to music with lyrics. However, thanks to Cimmerian Tales, I’ve gotten much better at writing to music with lyrics. I edit to classical composers like Brahms, Ravel, Schubert, Chopin, and Debussy (there’s a pattern there). And I rilly like house/techno/trance/dubstep for writing and editing. On loop.

What are some of your favorite CDs to listen to while studying or writing? Do you study or write to music or must it be absolutely silent?

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Stay tuned for Julie’s No Rules Friday next week.

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Anne’s Book Club 13

NearlyGonecover

NEARLY GONE by Elle Cosimano (summary from Amazon.com):

Nearly Boswell knows how to keep secrets. Living in a DC trailer park, she knows better than to share anything that would make her a target with her classmates. Like her mother’s job as an exotic dancer, her obsession with the personal ads, and especially the emotions she can taste when she brushes against someone’s skin. But when a serial killer goes on a killing spree and starts attacking students, leaving cryptic ads in the newspaper that only Nearly can decipher, she confides in the one person she shouldn’t trust: the new guy at school—a reformed bad boy working undercover for the police, doing surveillance . . . on her.

Nearly might be the one person who can put all the clues together, and if she doesn’t figure it all out soon—she’ll be next.

My Thoughts on NEARLY GONE by Elle Cosimano:

Nearly “Leigh” Boswell has one shot to leave her single mom and the trailer park behind her: a chemistry scholarship. To increase her odds, she tutors classmates. That is, until they start turning up dead with numbers painted, carved, or burned into their flesh. If that weren’t enough, Nearly also has the uncanny ability to know what a person’s feeling just by touching them. An ability she recoils from every time it happens.

Emotion is energy, and if energy is strong enough, it can travel between two points.

The mystery of whodunit holds out until nearly (pun intended) the last page with red herrings and surprises along the way. Nearly doesn’t know who she can trust, as her friends, enemies, and fellow classmates are all suspects—until they die—so like any good detective, I had to rely on my knowledge of “motive, opportunity, and means” to solve the mystery. The clues add up for the police and point them in Nearly’s direction. She overhears one officer telling one of her classmates to spy on her in exchange for a more lenient sentence. Reece Wheelen’s the perfect suspect: trouble with the law, a dark past, and involvement with the local drug dealer.

Throughout the book I tried to figure out why the cover title has a “43” in it. The reason is awesome and ties into both Nearly as a character and the book’s plot. I don’t want to say too much more, or I risk spoiling you. If you like mysteries, fast-paced books, a touch of magical realism, and a smart heroine, this book’s for you!

Audrey’s No Rules Friday

photo

Rusting © Copyright, Audrey Goshorn 2014. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

The Train

“Noah!” I scream and catch the back of his collar, choking him to a halt. “Those pennies’ll be hot.”

“Ow,” he whines.

“Well try thinkin’ for once in you life.” I’ve gone too far. He’s sniffling and smearing his runny nose all over his new ground suit. I sigh and my helmet fogs up a little. Putting a gloved hand on his shoulder, I try to pull him towards me, but he shrugs me off. “Just wait a few minutes, all right? Grandma’ll be mad if you burn your gloves.”

I walk off a couple yards, kicking rocks as I go. I like how they sound bouncing off the rusting metal of the old scrap yard. Howie and I found this place a couple years back, before he left for the mining colony. The sky is an impenetrable brown haze. I can’t tell where the sun is, but the info screen in my helmet says Noah and I have ten minutes before we need to high-tail it home for dinner.

There’s all sorts of things in the scrap yard. Some I recognize from school like cars and refrigerators, others I just guess at. It was a game Howie and I used to play.

“Hey, Howie,” I’d say. “What d’ya think that was for?”

And he’d say something like, “Honestly, Clarabelle! Can’t you tell? That is a tarfunkel. Obviously.”

I’d laugh and ask what it did. He always knew.

I hug myself as best as one can in a ground suit. It didn’t help. If I could see the stars, I still wouldn’t be able to find the rock Dad shipped Howie to. At the time I was grateful for Howie to have a job. I thought it meant we would have a life together.

A whistle reverberates through the yard, echoing against the walls of metal. I turn around but I’ve wandered far in the yard. My feet send clouds of dust pillowing into the air as I push myself as fast as I can. The whistle sounds again, closer. I skid to a halt before I run into a large metal cylinder. I’ve turned the wrong way.

“Noah!” I scream, but the whistle drowns out my voice.

Audrey’s Book Club

Hello Fellow Book Lovers!

I was so torn this week about whether I wanted to do my Book Club post about a specific book or do another Top 10 List (I was leaning towards my Top 10 Books for Preschoolers) and then I picked-up The Hoarders by Jean Stringham and I knew I had to share this book with you.

51baVnXEPPL[1] The Hoarders is the story of two young boys who do not have a stable home life. It is told from the viewpoint of Cheyenne, the older brother, as he explains all the details leading up to their current predicament. I loved how up close and personal the reader feels to Cheyenne and his family. I’m sure many of us remember being talked over as a child and it’s no different for Cheyenne; he experiences situations where adults are deciding his life without his input and often failing him as caretakers. What helps Cheyenne deal with these difficult situations with an amazing resiliency is that he is a great observer of adults. He learns to control what he can like keeping a hoard of food hidden in his backpack at all times. The story is often heart-breaking, but not only does it teach us as adults (or young adults) the importance of how our actions affect the young people in our lives, it teaches us about what is really important and how blessed many of us are. I hope you will pick this book up and give it a read.

Rebecca’s Book Club

51SDIODYA7LPicture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff

So I have been on a biography kick of late, and haven’t devoted as much time to fiction as I would like. It’s all very well and good reading about actors and leaders and geniuses, but they don’t get to do things like transcend the limits of human biology and human experience to plunge the reader into a world a little different, a little off-kilter.

This makes me very pleased to talk to you today about Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff. I read The Catcher in the Rye at exactly the right age to feel that Holden Caulfield’s troubled musing on ‘phonies’ and the slippery adult world spoke of exactly what I was feeling as I grew out of the idealism of my teenaged years. It’s interesting to see those feelings explored in what may be a more readily accessible way in Picture Me Gone.

Our protagonist is Mila. She has a gift which doesn’t seem so bombastic but which any adult would give their eyeteeth for: the ability to discern the truth from those people (and animals) she encounters: ‘I register every emotion, every relationship, every subtext. If someone is angry or sad or disappointed, I see it like a neon sign. There’s no way to explain it, I just do. For a long time I thought everyone did.’

Mila and her father travel from England to the US to visit one of her father’s best friends whom they haven’t seen in years.  However, that is scuppered quickly, for her father’s friend goes missing before they arrive. They set out on a road trip to find him, encountering a host of characters along the way. Everything is filtered through Mila’s astute point of view; hers is a world underscored by melancholy, but a world which doesn’t frighten or alienate her in the way it does Holden Caulfield. This is a character who is able to understand (without ever crossing into Ubermensch territory) the world around her and empathise with it.

In short, it’s a world we may glimpse infrequently in our own lives, or only after life has made us hard.

Mila is not hard and cynical, yet. But nor is she naive: ‘I will not always be happy, but perhaps, if I’m lucky, I will be spared the agony of adding pain to the world.’

As Salinger might have said: it’s a wise child.

Tori’s No Rules Friday

Reaper Girl

The problem isn’t that there’s a ghost standing in front of me or that I have to help him move on. I’ve gotten used to that since Jin spared my life and turned me into his ghost-ferrying, soul-reaping apprentice.

The problem is that I know him.

Roger Lowry goes to my school. Or, he did, I guess.

He was in my chemistry class last year. We were lab partners. He’s only seventeen and now he’s dead, his body crumpled over his steering wheel. His ghost is looking at me with the lost expression common of the recently deceased. It’s one they all wear, even before they realize they’re dead.

“My car,” he says, eyes flicking to the tangled mess of metal that used to be his black BMW. “My parents are going to kill me.”

If Jin were here, he’d probably laugh at that. For the first time since I got the text message telling me to go this one alone, I’m almost glad he’s not here. Almost. Except that inside the car I can see far too much mangled flesh for my liking, and I wish I could hang back and let Jin do the dirty work. I’m not squeamish but it’s not pretty. Roger is only seeing the car for the moment, blind to the thing he doesn’t want to see.

“I think they’ll understand,” I say. I’m pretty sure they’re going to have bigger things to worry about.

Roger looks at my car, parked on the shoulder across the street and creases his brow. “Wait,” he says, tilting his head. “What are you doing out here, Drea? You weren’t at Matt’s party.”

It’s a reasonable question. It’s six in the morning on a Saturday in the middle of June. We’re standing on a curved underpass beneath the mostly-empty freeway. I’m wearing clean clothes, jeans and a t-shirt, not the sort of thing that would suggest I just came from an all-night party like Roger did.

Roger’s car slammed headfirst into the cement wall of the underpass, crushing the front so the hood is almost non-existent, meaning he truly lost control. I’m guessing he wasn’t sober. His accident is hidden from the freeway but it’s only a matter of time before someone notices. It’s taking all of my willpower not to dial 9-1-1. It feels wrong not to call the authorities.

Although in a way, I am the authority here. Besides, it’s not like it’ll do Roger any good at this point.

“Just passing by,” I lie.

Roger ignores me, and steps closer to examine the damage. And then it happens: he spots his body. His face contorts, twists into the most pained, awful expression I’ve ever seen. “Is that… Who is that?”

He knows. I watch the realization dawn on him. Having been out of my body for a panicked two minutes once, I know the feeling all too well. But I got a reprieve and he’s not going to.

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