Tag Archives: Blue Birds

TBTues: Blue Birds!


Tweet or post on FB about friendship with the #Bluebirdsbook for a chance to win these gorgeous notecards!

It’s nearly been a year since I started blogging in earnest, thanks to Caroline Starr Rose, an author friend who I have never met in person, but with whom I feel a great kinship nonetheless.

A year ago Caroline invited some of her readers to review her then-new middle grade verse novel, Blue Birds, and this week marks its paperback publication!  To celebrate, you can try your luck at snagging a free copy as well as these gorgeous notecards, so visit Caroline’s blog and read the details about reFacebooking/reTweeting and otherwise re-social-mediaizing on the theme of friendship using the hashtag #BlueBirdsbook from now until January 8th. You can read my review here, and if you do, I invite you to take a tour around the earlier blog posts…TL, DR…I’ll admit, since we’re talking about the topic of friendship here, that I specifically restructured the blog leading up to my Blue Birds review so that I could have a decent place to show off her book.  Yeah. The book really is that good and Caroline really is that special.  It was a wonderful excuse to revamp so I could create a space for writerly thoughts. Because that’s what friends – especially virtual friends – do.


Our Author Skype with Caroline Starr Rose

But why go through so much work for someone I’ve never *really* met? This author of May B., Over in the WetlandsBlue Birds, and two poetry anthologies holds a special place in my heart for a unique reason – Caroline provided our first-ever author Skype at the library. One of our patrons entered our book group in the “May B. Book Club Kit Giveaway”  in honor of Caroline’s first verse novel, May B., and her essay won! (Fun Fact: this patron many years later is now my Library Trustee Chair)

I was eager to bring innovative programming to our community, and with limited funding, an in-person author visit wasn’t possible. But an author visit over Skype was possible…And We Won…! Caroline was charming, gracious, truthful and just about everything a librarian wishes for in an author visit. I can speak for all of us in Libraryland, that if you’re an author and you’ve done something incredible for Libraries (or even something that seems small to you, it’s incredible to us), you’ve got a Friend For Life.

I admit that virtual friendship with this author is mostly on my side, but such is life in the Interwebby generation, and frankly, my work and work schedule is so intense that just the idea of a real-life Girl’s Night Out is kind of intimidating and exhausting and I’m all the more happy to uphold my virtual end and kick back at home and see my family.  Nevermind that she lives on the other side of the country.  I mean, we did meet via Skype. Virtual friendships are incredible because we get to meet or stay in touch with people distantly out of our geographic location. I’m thrilled with her continued success as if it were my own.

blue birdsIt’s probably my selfishness bubbling up again, but I thoroughly enjoy a cool intersection that includes books, writing, libraries, kids, and running but also manages to connect on more obscure topics of faith. Meeting (including virtually meeting) intelligent, creative moms in the church who are answering a call of creativity resonates with me because…well…that’s me too…around my work schedule and family responsibilities…and simple things like sleep. Meeting “mom authors” doesn’t happen that often so when it does I go into extreme fangirling mode….

*Gains control. Raises coffee mug*

So, my dear, Caroline, here’s to enough success to warrant Blue Birds‘ paperback release…and to much continued success in 2016!  Wishing you many blessings. I’m honored to be in the same tribe.



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Book Review: Well Fed – Paleo Recipes For People Who Love to Eat

wellfed_cover-book-paleoA bit of a mash-up today….who likes food?  who likes books?  Who likes books about food? Yay!

My husband’s cousin Taz is a trainer in NYC, and asked for guinea pigs to beta test his eating and exercise program for eight weeks in a virtual group.  Long story short, I’m at the end of week 4, have started running again, got oriented to my local Y’s weight room and have totally flipped my eating habits. That was a challenge, because I’m a long-time yo-yo dieter (maybe just yo) and stress eater still trying to lose some baby weight. On this program, rather than counting calories, I’m trying to hit macro guidelines – consume so many grams of fat, fiber, carbs and proteins – and tracking what we eat on My Fitness Pal, a free food maintenance app I’d never heard of a month ago.

When Taz has described his program, he’s said “clean eating” or “flexible dieting” with hints of “paleo eating” so, being the good librarian research junkie that I am, I put down my whoopie pie and headed off to the stacks to read up on some of these new vocab words. That’s how I found this gem, Well Fed: Paleo Recipes For People Who Love to Eat by Melissa Joulwan.  It’s by far the most attainable cookbook yet that I’ve read. Joulwan is not a celebrity chef; rather, she’s a real world cook who created these recipes while working with Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, founders of Whole9.  My biggest food challenge (after dealing with the keto-flu) has been trying to hit my protein macros without getting ridiculously bored by eating so many grams of plain tuna day in or day out. My first week I had a terrible day of choking down half a can of refried beans in desperation and confusion…oh…no…I’ll never have to go back to that!


Pad Thai from Well Fed: Paleo Recipes For People Who Love To Eat

A few tidbits that I am eager to try from Well Fed: Pad Thai (no, those are not noodles, but a very thin scrambled egg, cut into noodle-width strips)…Chocolate Chili…Fried Apples with Bacon and Pecans…  Joulwan includes grocery lists for stocking your pantry with seasonings and paleo-friendly substitutes and guidelines about doing some cooking prep before the week actually starts and your life gets busy with kids, work, after school activities, etc., so that you don’t get sidetracked from your goal of cooking healthy, yummy food.  She unpacks the terms and the paleo-theory, but writes that her “mission is to inspire you with stories and tempt you with recipes that will make you want to smash in your face with joy.”  Who doesn’t want to experience that level of joy??

For more on Melissa check out her blog The Clothes Make The Girl, another mash up of food, clothes and…roller derbys…(she says it was in a previous life…but she’s working on moving her blog to the more appropriately titled Melissa Joulwan’s Well Fed.)


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Author Resources – Writing Links

WP_000961Yowsa Couser!  I’m swamped with the Library’s book sale this weekend so I’ll be writing about some of my finds in a few days.  Instead, here’s a link from author Caroline Starr Rose’s blog with some very useful writing links.  (Caroline’s second novel is forthcoming in March 2015 – read my review here)

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Book Review: Blue Birds by Caroline Starr Rose

I had the wonderful privilege to receive an ARC (Advanced Reader’s Copy) of Caroline Starr Rose’s new verse novel, Blue Birds (Putnam Juvenile, March 10, 2015). Rose, a former teacher, debuted in 2012 with middle grade read May B. When May B. was published, the Merrimack Public Library had entered and won an Author Skype with Rose, and, as they say, the rest is history.  I’ve been following Rose’s progress since, and when she offered an opportunity to read and review an early copy of her follow up novel as part of a week-long celebration, I jumped at the chance.  (If you pre-order Blue Birds, you will have a wonderful opportunity to receive a special gift from the book’s author – see the end of the post for information about that!)

blue birdsWhen book talking with young readers, I inevitably begin with the cover.  I’d ask them if they notice anything that might be clues to what the story is about.  Kids might guess that it’s a “girl book” given the two girls on the cover.  Yes, Blue Birds‘ cover will definitely attract girl readers.  It’s beautiful and tender.  But I’d caution readers not to judge this book by it’s lovely cover.

This book is not a “girl book”.  It is not a “boy book” either.   It is not for the tender reader.  It’s a book for readers of historical fiction, of action adventure, of sacrificial friendship.  This is a book for readers who like to have their paradigms rocked, and for those who hunger for their faith in humanity to be restored.

Tall order for a middle grade or YA book.  But Blue Birds delivers.

Rose thrusts her readers immediately in the middle of a dangerous and frightening time in American history.  It’s 1587 and Alis and her family have been forced off their ship onto the island of Roanoke where they discover that the English settlement where they intended to live is deserted and has been burned to the ground.  What has happened?  Where has her Uncle Samuel gone?  Is he still alive, or have the natives on the island – the Roanoke tribe – butchered him along with all the settlers?  And what of their own fate?

As the only girl in the settlement, Alis yearns for kinship.  She longs to break free from the cultural constraints of her time. Her adventurous spirit had been fueled by her Uncle Samuel’s stories.  Captivated by the lush surroundings and fresh, clean air (a sharp, but welcomed contrast to London), and despite her parents’ warnings to stay inside the settlement, Alis steals away to explore and is surprised to find a girl like herself, yet so unlike herself, in the woods.  “Kimi: Her hair falls to her shoulders,/like drifts of sand.// Alis: The hair at her forehead/is like a raven’s wing.// Kimi: With so many coverings,/the heat must oppress.// Alis: There is no shame/in her nakedness.// Kimi: Why is she unadorned?// Alis: Her jewelry is magnificent./Though my heart quickens,/I step closer.// Kimi: I’m drawn/toward her.// Alis: Closer// Kimi: Closer// Alis: Nearer.//”*

Kimi is the niece of Wanchese,  who took over as weroance, or chief, after Kimi’s father was murdered by the previous English settlers.   She is an obedient daughter, but her curiosity about the pale foreigner causes her to break from her group.  To lie.  To steal away to investigate this strange newcomer.  She has recently lost her sister though illness brought by the English and in her grief, yearns for a sisterly friend.  Could this strange, pale and frail looking intruder become that friend?

Alis and Kimi, innocently enough, share a child’s natural tendency to build friendship though an acceptance that acknowledges differences.  They interpret these differences as opportunities to learn about something and someone exciting.  Not so for the adults in their respective clans.  Already George, a boy Alis’ age in the company, has learned to fear the natives and this fear broadens the animosity between the natives and the settlers. Yet, the girls continue to meet secretly and through hand gestures, gifts, and simple words, they invent a means of communication.  Still, the growing tensions between the settlers and the natives threaten not only the friendship of these girls, but the very survival of the two sides.  Amidst the beauty and promise of new life in a new world, there is murder and betrayal and Alis and Kimi are suddenly thrust in the terrifying center of it all.

Blue Birds is based on historical fact, and Rose has taken some liberties that she details in her Author’s Note.  The verse is readable, shifting between Alis’ and Kimi’s points of view.  Rose’s style communicates powerful emotions very well, though following the events in this format were a bit challenging; however, readers do not ask verse novels to be textbooks and Rose is able to weave an interpretation of history that forces ethical and moral questions to linger long after the novel is put down.  Do not be surprised if your young readers next ask you for a book on the Lost Colony of Roanoke!

Alis and Kimi are true heroines and their story follows the tradition of timeless sacrificial love stories.  When I finally closed the book what immediately came to mind was Romeo and Juliet.  It was that powerful.  I am not sure if Rose knew what she was asking, namely, What kind of love will tempt you to abandon everything you know?  What kind of love will tempt you, in the midst of life-threatening danger,  to disobey parents, elders, rulers, community leaders? What kind of love will you surrender to, knowing that it will make you an outcast?

I do hope one day, that we all have the opportunity to experience that kind of love.

This post is part of a week-long celebration in honor of the book Blue Birds. Author Caroline Starr Rose is giving away a downloadable PDF of this BB-PDF-pic-for-blog-postsbeautiful Blue Birds quote (created by Annie Barnett of Be Small Studios) for anyone who pre-orders the book from January 12-19. Simply click through to order from AmazonBarnes and NobleBooks A MillionIndieBound, or Powell’s, then email a copy of your receipt to caroline@carolinestarrrose.com by Monday, January 19. PDFs will be sent out January 20.
*All quotes are from the uncorrected ARC of this novel.


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