Wednesday, July 29, 2020

New-Old Endeavors, Revisited + Reading Roud-Up

As a teacher and tutor, I've been working with small groups of homeschool students, individuals, and  public classrooms for many years now. I like teaching. It can be a joy. It can be a challenge. I feel like I can make a difference. I feel like I have made a difference. I want to keep working at it. For a while, I tried to get back into it full-time. Instead, I kept tutoring and teaching small groups.

Now, it's COVID 2020, and I have been teaching and tutoring online.

I've had some good moments teaching online. 24 tutoring sessions which went well. 15 class sessions which went well.

I've had some bad moments teaching online - a free online class where no students showed up because I hadn't been clear about the time and the time zone. I live in the Pacific Northwest, and Pacific Time is three hours behind Eastern Time. When did people show up? Eastern Time. Yikes!

With a great deal of thought, I decided to continue forward and open up a new business based on the model I've been using for years in my local community solely by word of mouth.

Words Take Flight: Teaching, Tutoring, and Editing has an official platform now. I am still working on some small pieces for it, but if you are interested or know someone who might be interested in Grades 9-12 and adult online classes in writing, tutoring for English and Language Arts, or editing on short works like college application essays, academic essays, or short stories, check it out here:
Words Take Flight

And, because I always have a question: which one of the above do you like best?
The top one is my old business card.
The new one is the banner I'm currently using for my website.
I thought I liked my new design best, but I still like my old one for clarity.

I haven't done one of these in a while. I'm definitely not going to go over all the books I've read, but I will mention a handful with comment and star reviews. I decided to include books I read in a variety of genres, even though I am partial to SF and Fantasy.

Science Fiction:
Children of the Fleet by Orson Scott Card. Another takeaway from the Ender's Game series, this one felt like it trotted out some old themes with new characters. World-building took a new leap and I always like Graff, but I had to push myself through parts of it. 3.5/5

Lost Helix by Scott Coon. This SF felt fresh and new, full of the possibilities of space colonization, but that wasn't even the best part. The best part of this novel is the friendship and the relationship between the main character and his dad. Great character and world-building! 4/5

The Novice by Taran Matharu. An excellent, enjoyable read with interesting characters and great world-building, this adventure had me hooked from page one through the end. However, as a Christian, it took me a few years to pick up this book and read it because of the whole demon-summoning aspect. I told myself he was summoning beings from some other plane of existence and let it go. Once I did that, it was really good. 5/5 for most readers, probably only a 4/5 for Christian readers with content concerns. 

The Dragon's Heart by David Powers King. This beautifully written fairy tale adventure felt like a wonderful return to traditional fantasy, but with a complex heroine at the core. World-building, character development, and adventure were all solid. 5/5

Historical Fiction
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys. A beautifully written, multiple viewpoint historical fiction book for YA readers, Salt to the Sea had compelling, individual characters who came together slowly and solidly for the final part of the novel. I did have a little trouble getting into the head of one of the antagonists, who lived in a fantasy world most of the time. 4.5/5

Is this SF or Fantasy? Post-apocalyptic?
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins. Beautiful writing, a greater depth of world-building for Panem, and some excellent secondary characters didn't completely save this book for me. I really didn't like being in the POV of a young Snow in this prequel to The Hunger Games. 3.5/5

Marly in Pieces by Cathrina Constantine. A beautifully written mystery with a troubled heroine that comes together like pieces of stained glass to create a complex novel. 5/5

Reaching for Normal by Jemi Fraser.  A heart-broken woman and a war-torn man come together in an icy wilderness adventure to save threatened wolves, and each other, in this sweet and sexy romance. I don't usually do heat as a reader, but it worked in this romance novel. 4.8/5*.

*I am not a huge romance reader, especially anything warmer than "sweet" so I am never sure if I am the right person to review these. Plus ... this is just a note for every romance writer I've read in the last few years: please stop using the phrase "dueling" to describe kisses full of tongue. This comes from someone who used to fence with sabers. It's not the same. No matter how heated the kiss, I would never describe it as dueling.

Dancing with Dementia by Jemi Fraser. This vignette-styled journey through the writer's experiences of caring for a parent and a step-parent with dementia is written with thoughtfulness, humor, and graciousness. I really appreciated this book and the tips in it. 5/5.

Middle Grade/Children's
Warren the 13th: The All-Seeing Eye written by Tania Del Rio and illustrated by Will Staehle. This quirky, adventurous mystery has an intelligent, interesting protagonist, some dastardly villains, and some really strange secondary characters. The world-building, masterful illustrations, and story-line reminded me of James and the Giant Peach. I really loved it and highly recommend it - even if you are far older than the intended audience. 5/5

Current Reads: 
Keep Writing with Fey by Chrys Fey
Wielder's Curse by Elle Cardy


  1. Maybe you could fit the first subtitle on the second banner. That one looks so serene.

    I don’t know how to categorize most dystopians either. I did like being in Snow’s head though, but I think that’s because my dislike for him was displaced by a stronger dislike for the district 13 leader after that stunt in Mockingjay. I know how much people like the book rides on how willing they are to sympathize with Snow.

  2. Krystal - thanks for the tip!
    And yes, I think it really depends on how willing we are to sympathize with Snow. I started to, and then ... I really didn't like how he treated his "friends."

  3. I wish you all the best of luck with this. It sounds like a fantastic service!

    I really like the new banner. Maybe you could widen the subtitle to include the wording the old one has.

  4. Hi Tyrean - well done on getting this set up ... and those times are a nightmare occasionally - especially for me in the UK!! Love the site ... and your images - I prefer the 2nd, but would enlarge the words - title and subtitle ... take care Hilary

  5. Congrats on getting Words Take Flight up and best of luck to you on making it successful!

  6. Thanks for all of the encouraging feedback!


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