A Quote Off My Shelf

“The literary critic’s preoccupation with the how of biblical writing is not frivolous. It is evidence of an artistic delight in verbal beauty and craftsmanship, but it is also part of an attempt to understand what the Bible says. In a literary text it is impossible to separate what is said from how it is said, content from form.” –How To Read The Bible As Literature… And Get More Out Of It by Leland Ryken. 

The Tethered World (the rare review of an author I know!)

It’s not every day that I get to review a book by an author I personally know.

It’s not every book that I eagerly turn to the acknowledgements in first either.

But when my first edition copy of The Tethered World by a certain, Heather L.L. Fitzgerald, arrived in the mail, I did both.

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“To my sisters in Manet Writer’s Group, I’m incredibly thankful for each of you. Your encouragement, love, and laughter, your talents and insight…all add up to a great joy and delight in my life. I know my adventure is only the first to be published among the many worthy tales told around coffee and finger foods.”

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That’s my writing group! I joined the group late in the formation of Heather’s novel, so I was not very involved in the editing stage of her novel but I did spend a lovely summer afternoon with Heather on our hostess, Abby Jones’, porch after our writer’s luncheon one day in 2014, hearing about her journey as a writer, the challenges of publication, and our mutual fascination with Cryptozoology. In addition to the thrill of personal connection, I have a far deeper appreciation for all the hard-work and time that went into the creation of Heather’s book than I do with most books. All of which makes it a very special treat to now hold her book, The Tethered World, in my hands.

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What if I told you that Bigfoot creatures are real? And not only real, but quite numerous. And that they even have a hideous tyrant of a King in a subterranean land where they go by their ancient and only slightly more believable name, Trolls.

Well, you might be as skeptical as 16-year-old Sadie Larcen. She’s used to being different–being the oldest of six children, all homeschooled, one autistic, and one adopted from Ethiopia is considered strange by many, but all of that is nothing to what she learns about her family lineage.

Guardians of the Tethered World, heirs to the throne in the Land of Legend? You’ve got to be joking. But there’s no time to challenge the facts, Sadie’s parents are in grave peril. Under the guidance of her spunky Irish Aunt Jules, Sadie must enter the land of legend with three of her siblings and come to their parents’ rescue with the help of some exotic new friends. Trolls, Leprechauns, Gnomes, Dwarves, Meadow Fairies, Dragons, Clovenbears, Elves, Ogres, Hippogriffs, Nephilim, a rare sighting of a Water Nymph! –it’s a lot to take in and Sadie struggles to lay aside her own pride, selfishness, discomfort, and fears and trust God as she gets carried along on a wild, high-stakes adventure she never asked for.

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I look forward to sharing Sadie’s story with my younger siblings (who are already bubbling with excitement over a book featuring Bigfoot), and the young people of my church (among whom I’m known as Emmy the Librarian). It is challenging to keep up a steady flow of wholesome literature for voracious young readers so I’m immensely grateful for Heather’s contribution as I expect many parents will be as well. Book two is due for release this October! 

A Quote Off My Shelf

These are more and longer quotes than I typically post but they were too beautiful to abbreviate or reduce. A.S. Peterson’s concluding sequel met and exceeded all of my expectations. The book will shatter your soul then gently, tenderly mend it together again.  The motif of music is strong throughout the book and captures best the book’s themes of redemption, of beauty coming out of suffering and sin, and of longing for home and a Love that conquers all.

“Turn it all to beauty.

She walked to the rail. When she turned and sat upon it, she heard a sailor in the crowd murmur that she might play them a tune. She hoped he was right. She needed the voices to be wrong. Fin raised the instrument to the cleft of her neck and closed her eyes. She emptied her mind and let herself be carried back to her earliest memory, the first pain she ever knew: the knowledge that her parents didn’t want her. The despair of rejection coursed through her. It fathered a knot of questions that bound her, enveloped her. Waves of uncertainty and frailty shook her to the bones. Her body quivered with anger and hopelessness. She reeled on the edge of a precipice. She wanted to scream or to throw her fists but she held it inside; she struggled to control it. She fought to subjugate her pain, but it grew. It welled up; it filled her mind. When she could hold it no more, exhausted by defiance and wearied by years of pretending not to care, Bartimaeus’s words surrounded her.

Got to turn it beautiful.

She dropped her defenses. She let weakness fill her. She accepted it. And the abyss yawned. She tottered over the edge and fell. The forces at war within her raced down her arms and set something extraordinary in motion; they became melody and harmony: rapturous, golden. Her fingers coaxed the long-silent fiddle to life. They danced across the strings without hesitation, molding beauty out of the miraculous combination of wood, vibration, and emotion. The music was so bright she felt she could see it. The poisonous voices were outsung. Notes raged out of her in a torrent. She had such music within her that her bones ached with it, the air around her trembled with it, her veins bled it. The men around fell still and silent. Some slipped to the deck and sat enraptured like children before a travelling bard.

…It throbbed and pulsed, channeled by elemental forces of fear, love, hope, and sadness. The bow stabbed and flitted across the strings in a violent whorl of creation; its hairs tore and split until it seemed the last strands would sever in a scrape of dissonance. Those who saw the last fragile remnants held their breath against the breaking. The music rippled across the ship like a spirit, like a thing alive and eldritch and pregnant with mystery. The song held. More than held, it deepened. It groaned. It resounded in the hollows of those who heard. Then it softened into tones long, slow, and patient and reminded men of the faintest stars trembling dimly in defiance of a ravening dark. At the last, when the golden hairs of the bow had given all the sound they knew, the music fled in a whisper. Fin was both emptied and filled, and the song sighed away on the wind.

Peterson, A. S. (2010-12-07). Fiddler’s Green (Fin’s Revolution) pgs. 79-81, Rabbit Room Press.

 

“What do you know of the Knights?” he asked.

Fin shrugged. “I thought knights were only in children’s stories until a few days ago.” Jeannot smiled.

“A man could do worse than to live in the stories of a child. There is, perhaps, no better remembrance.”

“Until the child grows up and finds out the stories aren’t true. You might be knights, but I don’t see any shining armor,” Fin said.

Jeannot stopped near the gate of the auberge and faced her. “Each time a story is told, the details and accuracies and facts are winnowed away until all that remains is the heart of the tale. If there is truth at the heart of it, a tale may live forever. As a knight, there is no dragon to slay, no maiden to rescue, and no miraculous grail to uncover. A knight seeks the truth beneath these things, seeks the heart. We call this the corso. The path set before us. The race we must run.

Peterson, A. S. (2010-12-07). Fiddler’s Green (Fin’s Revolution) pg. 147 Rabbit Room Press.

 

She chased the song like a hound fast upon a scent. She pursued it through a forest primeval: a dark land planted with musical staves and rests and grown thick with briars of annotation. On she went and on still until she caught sight of the song ahead of her, fleeting and sly. “I see it,” she said aloud, though she didn’t mean to.

…And then she caught the song. She fell upon it and music poured from the fiddle’s hollow, bright and liquid like fire out of the heart of the earth. Pierre-Jean drew back and stood mesmerized. The room around Fin stirred as every ear bent to the ring of heartsong. It rushed through Fin and spread to the outermost and tiniest capillary reaches of her body. Her flesh sang. The hairs of her arms and neck roused and stood. She sped the bow across the strings. Her fingers danced on the fingerboard quick as fat raindrops. Every man in the room that night would later swear that there was a wind within it. They would tell their children and lovers that a hurricane had filled the room, toppled chairs, driven papers and sheets before it and blew not merely around them but through them, taking fears, grudges, malice, and contempt with it, sending them spiraling out into the night where they vanished among the stars like embers rising from a bonfire.

And though the spirited cry of the fiddle’s song blew through others and around the room and everything in it, Fin sat at the heart of it. It poured into her. It found room in the closets and hollow places of her soul to settle and root. It planted seeds: courage, resolve, steadfastness. Fin gulped it in, seized it, held it fast. She needed it, had thirsted for it all her days. She saw the road ahead of her, and though she didn’t understand it or comprehend her part in it, she knew that she needed the ancient and reckless power of a holy song to endure it. She didn’t let the music loose. It buckled and swept and still she clung to it, defined it in notes and rhythm, channeled it like a river bound between mountain steeps. And a thing happened then so precious and strange that Fin would ever after remember it only in the formless manner of dreams. The song turned and spoke her name—her true name, intoned in a language of mysteries. Not her earthly name, but a secret word, defining her alone among all created things. The writhing song spoke it, and for the first time, she knew herself. She knew what it was to be separated out, held apart from every other breathing creature, and known. Though she’d never heard it before and wouldn’t recall it after, every stitch of her soul shook in the passage of the word, shuddered in the wake of it, and mourned as the sound sped away. In an instant, it was over. The song ended with the dissonant pluck of a broken string.

Peterson, A. S. (2010-12-07). Fiddler’s Green (Fin’s Revolution) pg. 174, 175 Rabbit Room Press.

I noticed that Goodreads only had one quote from this beautiful book. That simply wouldn’t do, so I added 22 more. ;) You can see more quotes here. 

A Quote Off My Shelf

“…time has a way of leading a person along a crooked path. Sometimes the path is hard to hold to and people fall off along the way. They curse the road for its steep grades and muddy ruts and settle themselves in hinterlands of thorn and sorrow, never knowing or dreaming that the road meant all along to bring them home. Some call that road a tragedy and lose themselves along it. Others, those who call it home, call it an adventure.” –The Fiddler’s Gun, A. S. Peterson

This book is breaking my heart already, but I trust the road to lead me home.

Rereading a Childhood Favorite

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It’s both a wonderful and frightening thing to reread a book you loved as a child. It’s been ten years since I read Anne of Green Gables. It was one of my most favorite books of all when I was entering my teens but I’ve put off rereading it because I was afraid I’d find I didn’t like it anymore, or that it no longer holds the magic for me as it did when I was a child.

For a long time I felt cheated somehow, like the stories I loved so much as a child had lied to me about the world. I still loved Anne but had this nagging sensation that her optimism was nothing more than glorified naivete. But rereading the book I found the opposite to be true. Anne was an orphan, before she came to Green Gables–/all/ she knew was adversity and she continues to face harsh realities even in her new life such as estrangement from her bosom friend and the death of someone she dearly loved.

It was /because/ of the world’s brokenness that she turned to imagination. She had the miraculous gift of finding beauty everywhere, even in the darkest of places. As an adult, I appreciate that far more than I did as a child because I now understand how dark the darkness really is. At 11, even being an orphan sounded romantic. At 21, I hear all the things Anne /doesn’t/ say when she describes her life as an orphan. I now can sympathize with and smile in a different way at Anne’s lament, “It’s all very well to read about sorrows and imagine yourself living through them heroically, but it’s not so nice when you really come to have them, is it?”

Contrary to my fears, I find I love the book more than ever now. I’m not the same person as when I read Anne of Green Gables the first time. It’s so strange and wonderful at the same time to be able to reread the book and find both my 11 year old and 21 year old self between the pages. Finding Anne grown up and changed at the book’s end was painful to relive because I felt more keenly the pain of change in my own life in the ten years since I first fell in love with Anne, yet that makes the book’s hope-filled ending all the more dear to me now:

“Anne’s horizons had closed in since the night she had sat there after coming home from Queen’s; but if the path set before her feet was to be narrow she knew that flowers of quiet happiness would bloom along it. The joy of sincere work and worthy aspiration and congenial friendship were to be hers; nothing could rob her of her birthright of fancy or her ideal world of dreams. And there was always the bend in the road!

“God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world,'” whispered Anne softly.”

A Quote Off My Shelf

“I am looking for friends. What does that mean — tame?”

“It is an act too often neglected,” said the fox. “It means to establish ties.” 

“To establish ties?” 

“Just that,” said the fox. “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world….

Antoine de Saint-ExupéryThe Little Prince

(The Little Prince did not much charm me the first read-through, I must admit. The beginning bored me and I had a hard time grasping what the point of it all was. It struck me as a deeply cynical book–always disparaging of “grown-ups” and their ways. But when I made a second pass through the book–a skim read, to jot down my favorite quotes–the book worked its quiet magic on me. This quote thrills me.)

Speech & Literature Appreciation Class for Children

Last fall, I had the wonderful privilege of teaching a literature appreciation class to 7 students between the ages of 4 and 13. Over seven weeks they memorized the poem “Daybreak” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and become familiar with seven of Aesop’s Fables. At the end of the course, I hosted a tea party for all my classes, and my students had the opportunity to show their parents what they had learned. They each recited their favorite Aesop Fables and quoted the poem together. Some of my students even dressed up in full costume for their “speeches.” We all had a blast.

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A Quote Off My Shelf

“Well,” said the boy, “in my family everyone is born in the air, with his head at exactly the height it’s going to be when he’s an adult, and then we all grow toward the ground.  When we’re fully grown up or, as you can see, grown down, our feet finally touch.  Of course, there are a few of us whose feet never reach the ground no matter how old we get, but I suppose it’s the same in every family.”  …….

“You certainly must be very old to have reached the ground already.”

“Oh no,” said Milo, seriously.  “In my family we all start on the ground and grow up, and we never know how far until we actually get there.”

“What a silly system.”  The boy laughed.  “Then your head keeps changing its height and you always see things in a different way?  Why, when you’re fifteen, things won’t look at all the way they did when you were ten, and at twenty everything will change again.”

“I suppose so,” replied Milo, for he had never really thought about the matter.” The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, pg. 104-105

(My Currently Reading over the Christmas and New Years holidays)

Want to see more fun quotes from The Phantom Tollbooth? You can find more here: http://ashleyandstuart.blogspot.com/2011/11/phantom-tollbooth-quotes.html?m=1

2015: A Year in Review (Binge Reading)

“Pocket, previously known as Read It Later, is an application and service for managing a reading list of articles from the Internet. It is available for OS X, Windows, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Kobo eReaders, and web browsers.

The application allows the user to save an article or web page to the cloud for later reading. The article is then sent to the user’s Pocket list (synced to all of their devices) for offline reading. Pocket removes clutter from articles and allows the user to adjust text settings for easier reading.” –Wikipedia

Here are my Pocket stats for 2015. This is not necessarily the entirety of the articles I’ve read online, but it does reflect the overwhelming majority of it.

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