Book Squirt

Life After Outward Bound

After Outward Bound, I thought a lot. I thought about what I would have done differently. I thought about my crewmates. I thought about the mountains we’d climbed. I thought about the things that made me laugh, and the things that made me cry.

And I dreamed about Outward Bound too. I dreamed about being back, on that mountain, in the river, and at the Banquet. I dreamed about getting back together with my crewmates. And more often than not, I woke up crying from those dreams.

Mom said that it was because I’d become such good friends with them, and I’d never really had that experience before – becoming friends for however long the camp (or whatever) was, and then never seeing each other again. She said that’s why I came really close to crying whenever I thought about not seeing them again, and that’s why I woke up crying when I dreamed about getting back together with them.

I’m not sure why it bothered me so much. Maybe it’s because when I tried to contact them, they rarely responded.

Ella Enchanted

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

How can a fairy’s blessing be such a curse?

At her birth, Ella of Frell was the unfortunate recipient of a foolish fairy’s gift — the “gift’ of obedience. Ella must obey any order given to her, whether it’s hopping on one foot for a day and a half, or chopping off her own head! But strong-willed Ella does not tamely accept her fate. Against a bold backdrop of princes, ogres, giants, wicked stepsisters, and fairy godmothers, Ella goes on a quest to break the curse — once and for all.

In this incredible debut novel comes the richly entertaining story of Ella of Frell, who at birth was given the gift of obedience by a fairy. Ella soon realizes that this gift is little better than a curse, for how can she truly be herself if at anytime anyone can order her to hop on one foot, or cut off her hand, or betray her kingdom’and she’ll have to obey? Against a bold tapestry of princes, ogres, giants, wicked stepsisters, and fairy godmothers, Ella’s quest to break the curse once and for all and discover who she really is is as sharply funny as Catherine, Called Birdy and as richly poignant as Beauty, and has all the marks of a classic in the making.

Some of my favorite books ever are what my Mom calls “Princess Books.” There’s just something about true love, princesses and their princes, and a happy ending that pulls me right in and captivates me.

This was one of the books that made me fall in love with “Princess Books,” and it’s stuck with me ever since. I was probably about ten when I first read it, and I tend to reread it once a year or so.

Ella was given a gift by a fairy when she was born – the gift of obedience. While it might have been seen as a gift by the fairy who gave it to her, to Ella, it’s a curse.

The book follows Ella’s journey – her mothers death, her horrible new mother and step-sisters, her time at an awful finishing school, and how she falls in love with Charmont, the Prince of Frell. But she knows that she can’t marry him – if anyone ever got a hold of her, they could tell her to kill Char – and she wouldn’t be able to stop herself.

Gail Carson Levine did a great job with her characters. I always feel very connected to Ella when I read this book – I laugh with her, I cry with her, I hate the people she hates, and I love the people she loves.

The other characters are great too!  Charmont is the perfect prince – he’s kind to everyone, he can laugh if you try hard enough to make him laugh, but he can be serious when necessary.  Hattie and Olive – the stepsisters – are perfect stepsisters. They’re mean to Ella, and you don’t feel sorry for them at the end! (Okay, you feel a little sorry for Olive, who was one of Hattie’s victims too.)

My Favorite Scene

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The Verdict: 5 of 5 Stars

This is one of my all time favorite books, and my brother enjoys it too. It’s a wonderful fairy tale that has a happy ending, and I love happy endings. 🙂

I also blogged this book as part of the A To Z Challenge.

My Week In Tweets

Famous Ancestors

My Dad’s parents, Grammy and Gumpy, recently came for a visit. We don’t get to see them too often so when we do, it’s really cool. Well, this visit was really, really cool.

Gumpy has done tons of research on our ancestors – he’s written books about his ancestors and Grammy’s ancestors. When he came to visit this time, he brought several things. He brought each of us a folder showing our ancestors who were on the Mayflower and all the people in between, and he brought us a model of the Mayflower!

The younger kids weren’t too excited about the piece of paper with names on it – they were too interested in the model ship. But Colter, Emery, Fletcher and I were excited about our genealogy. We had at least fifteen ancestors on the Mayflower, possibly more!

Do you recognize the name Priscilla Mullins? We’re related to her.
John Alden? We’re related to him.
Stephen Hopkins? We’re related to him.
John Howland? We’re related to him.

Priscilla Mullins was one of the few girls on the Mayflower. She was also one of the oldest, almost old enough to marry. She married John Alden later, and they are my Grammy’s great, great, great, great, (you get the picture), grandparents.

Stephen Hopkins and his daughter Constance are related to Gumpy – Constance’s daughter married Thomas Rogers, and that’s Gumpy’s family name.

John Howland was an indentured servant to John Carver, and he became a freeman when Carver died. He later married Elizabeth Tilley, and their daughter is related to Grammy. This was probably the ancestor I was most excited about – I’ve read a book from the POV (point of view) of Elizabeth! It’s called The Mayflower Secret, and it’s a Trailblazer book. I’ve always enjoyed the Trailblazers, but now I’ll enjoy this one even more, knowing that the girl in it was my great, great, great, (how ever many greats) grandmother!

I’m so happy that Gumpy brought us those papers and showed them to us. I’m going to have to look up more about my ancestors now – I enjoyed learning about them before, but now? I want to learn all I can!

What about you? Do you have any famous ancestors?



A picture of the two books that Gumpy wrote:

Birthdays, Grandparents, and the Fourth

Most families have a busy month where there are several celebrations. For us, ours is July. Jade’s birthday is the 4th, Colter’s is the 5th, and Fletcher’s is the 12th, while Mom and Dad’s anniversary is the 8th.

Right now all of the grandparents are here (which is awesome!) and we’re busy celebrating birthdays, so I don’t have a lot of time, but I thought I’d just check in and say that I hope everyone had a safe and fun Fourth Of July!

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My Week In Tweets

Outward Bound – Day Fourteen, Part Eight

To read part seven of day fourteen, click here.

We got back into the car and settled in for the ride. We had several hours to go, so Colter and I put on a movie.

Two movies later, we were in recognizable territory, and before I knew it we were driving through Charlestown.

The movie was forgotten as I stared out the window, so happy to be back in my hometown. And then we turned onto our road, and then we were at our house, and it was so, so amazing. Seriously – amazing. I almost started crying when I saw the house!

Before we’d even parked I was unbuckled and opening the door of the Hulk, and as soon as the car wasn’t moving I jumped out of it and ran towards the house, with Colter not far behind me.

As we opened the door the little kids jumped out from their hiding places, wearing goofy glasses and big smiles. They all ran forwards to hug us, saying how happy they were for us to be home and “look, look!” at all the decorations they’d put up.

welcome home sign

The massive hand painted sign in the living room

The moment I didn’t have anyone holding onto me I dashed for the bathroom, avoiding several hands that tried to grab me. It had been a long car ride, and I’d drunk a lot of water at Taco Bell!

I went back out into the living room and talked for a while, but as soon as I could I excused myself. I grabbed my pajamas from my room and took a nice long shower – probably 45 minutes – and then got a drink of water from our faucet.

You know how the water from your own house tastes so much better than any other water? I’d really, really missed our water. The bleach that we used to purify the water made it taste like, well, bleach. It wasn’t very good. LOL

I hugged my Mom and Dad, said goodnight to my siblings, and crawled into my nice warm bed. It had been an amazing two weeks, but I didn’t want to think about it just yet. I wanted to sleep. In my nice, comfy bed. For like, a week.

*Everything here is from my own memory and may not be correct. Outward Bound is not responsible for anything I post here. Thanks too NCOBS for letting me use their photos.*


One by Leigh Ann Kopans

When having two powers makes you a Super and having none makes you a Normal, having only one makes you a sad half-superpowered freak.

It makes you a One.

Sixteen-year-old Merrin Grey would love to be able to fly – too bad all she can do is hover.

If she could just land an internship at the Biotech Hub, she might finally figure out how to fix herself. She busts her butt in AP Chem and salivates over the Hub’s research on the manifestation of superpowers, all in hopes of boosting her chances.

Then she meets Elias VanDyne, another One, and all her carefully crafted plans fly out the window. Literally. When the two of them touch, their Ones combine to make them fly, and when they’re not soaring over the Nebraska cornfields, they’re busy falling for each other.

Merrin’s mad chemistry skills land her a spot on the Hub’s internship short list, but as she gets closer to the life she always wanted, she discovers that the Hub’s purpose is more sinister than it has always seemed. Now it’s up to her to decide if it’s more important to fly solo, or to save everything – and everyone – she loves.

I started following @LeighAnnKopans on twitter several months ago, but I didn’t really interact with her for a while. Then after I started talking to her, she graciously sent me an eARC of her book a week or so before its release date. (That’s an e-copy of an ARC, Advanced Readers Copy.)

I knew that people who’d read it were excited about it, but I wasn’t prepared to get so wrapped up in the story! Merrin’s story grabbed me and held me until the very last word.

I don’t hate “insta-love” as  much as other people do, but I was very glad to see that there wasn’t any in this book! Elias and Merrin’s relationship seemed natural and was very sweet. The way she charges in to rescue him at the end made me happy – I’m a sucker for people rescuing the people they love. 🙂

The premise was very interesting – people have half of a superpower? I’ve never heard of anyone coming up with something like that before! Leigh Ann did a really good job, in my opinion, of sticking with the standards for superheroes, but still fully exploring her idea of half superheroes.

This was a great book, and I can’t wait to read TWO, the sequel that’s coming out… in the fall… sometime… I think? I’ll have to ask Leigh Ann. 🙂

My Favorite Scene

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The Verdict: 5 of 5 Stars

ONE was a very gripping book that kept me hanging from chapter to chapter! I can’t wait for the sequel, TWO, to come out!

My Week In Tweets

This week I:
-Had a blast with our friends from NJ that we see once a year.
-Laughed when Indigo suckered Thomas into carrying her around the track because she wore sandals.
-Made fun of Dora the Explorer with our friends.
-Went with the boys to track practice.
-Kept everyone hydrated while they moved over 400 bales of hay.
-Taped glow sticks to a football and then played a game with it.
-Watched Les Miserables with Mom and Dad.
-Caught my little sisters sleeping in Indigo’s bed together.
-Burned the nachos – our new oven is more powerful than our last!
-Freaked out about actually driving on the road.
-Survived driving!

Outward Bound – Day Fourteen, Part Seven

To read part six of day fourteen, click here.

About twenty minutes or so after I closed my computer, we stopped for dinner. “Where do you want to go?” Mom asked, and Colter and I looked at each other.

“Taco Bell!” we said together, grinning at each other. We’d already talked about what we wanted for our first meals – my crew had spent hours talking about what we wanted first.

Kayce wanted 20 chicken nuggets, two Big Macs and a large thing of fries. Someone wanted pizza, others wanted burritos. I just wanted the chicken quesadilla from Taco Bell. Three of them, to be exact. Normally I only eat two (my family eats a lot. :D) but since I hadn’t had any “real” food in a week, I was going to go all out.

We stepped into the Taco Bell and Colter and I shivered, then grinned at each other. We hadn’t been in such a cold building in two weeks!

I told Mom what I wanted and found us a table. Colter and I sat next to each other, so Mom and Dad could sit across from us. We started swapping stories, interrupting each other occasionally to explain something to Dad.

So many things from our courses were the same, and yet so many things were different. He was Top Dog in his crew, I was the lowest on the leaderboard (in my own opinion.) He was one of the strongest, helping his crewmates with their packs, while I was the one who needed to be helped.

But we still had the same things. We had the same difficulties – the cursing had been hard for both of us, being away from home had been hard, and dealing with a bunch of public schooled kids was very interesting. (I’m  not insulting public schooled kids, but I think they’re very different from the kids that Cole and I are used to.)

When our food got to our table, Colter and I prayed quickly and dug in. The quesadillas tasted amazing!

*Everything here is from my own memory and may not be correct. Outward Bound is not responsible for anything I post here. Thanks too NCOBS for letting me use their photos.*

Waiting To Be Heard

Waiting to Be Heard: A Memoir by Amanda Knox

Amanda Knox spent four years in a foreign prison for a crime she did not commit.

In the fall of 2007, the 20-year-old college coed left Seattle to study abroad in Italy, but her life was shattered when her roommate was murdered in their apartment.

After a controversial trial, Amanda was convicted and imprisoned. But in 2011, an appeals court overturned the decision and vacated the murder charge. Free at last, she returned home to the U.S., where she has remained silent, until now.

Filled with details first recorded in the journals Knox kept while in Italy, Waiting to Be Heard is a remarkable story of innocence, resilience, and courage, and of one young woman’s hard-fought battle to overcome injustice and win the freedom she deserved.

With intelligence, grace, and candor, Amanda Knox tells the full story of her harrowing ordeal in Italy—a labyrinthine nightmare of crime and punishment, innocence and vindication—and of the unwavering support of family and friends who tirelessly worked to help her win her freedom.

Waiting to Be Heard includes 24 pages of color photographs.

We were at  a track meet when my Mom passed me two books. “One’s for you and one’s for Colter.” I handed Colter the book that didn’t have a girl on the cover and looked at the back of the one I thought was mine.

I’d never heard of Amanda Knox, or Meredith Kercher. I flipped through the book and decided that it looked interesting, but I didn’t read it then or in the car. I wanted to finish the book I was currently reading, and that didn’t happen for another couple of days.

When I finally opened Waiting To Be Heard, it didn’t really draw me in. The first couple of chapters were all back story, which isn’t that thrilling. It’s necessary, which is why I kept reading. But if I hadn’t known that Mom was going to be asking me about it, I wouldn’t have.

Thankfully, I stuck it out and read past the boring parts. Because once I got into it, I was enthralled by this story of a girl’s fight to prove her innocence and get out of prison.

Because I’d never heard of the case until I read the book, I don’t know everything that happened. But reading her account of it, I think she’s innocent. I feel so bad that she’s having to deal with a new trial, and when I look at my shelf and see this book I’ll probably Google her to see what’s happening.

My Favorite Scene

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The Verdict: 4 of 5 Stars

This was a very gripping story that gave me, a person who’d never heard of the case, a good idea what happened. It’s all from her perspective – I’d like to see a book that had parts from the judges too – but it was a good look into what happened.

My Week In Tweets

This week I:
-Took a shower in my own bathroom!!
-Spent a half an hour cleaning my bathroom just so I could be in my bathroom.
-Um, whined about the weather, my computer updating, and work. *sigh* Not a good week. LOL
-Realized that I was halfway to 17.
-Got the canvas I ordered!
-Brought Ginger up to Scottsburg! And took a picture of her in my new room.
-Had some great pasta for dinner.
-Went to a wedding with the family. I like weddings. 🙂
-Found a bunch of pictures of me and Dad for Father’s Day.
-Found out that our friends from New Jersey were coming to visit!
-Got a picture of me with friends at the wedding on Saturday.

























Outward Bound – Day Fourteen, Part Six

To read part five of day fourteen, click here.

I nodded, unable to speak. I cleared my throat and added “I’m just going to miss you guys. A lot.”

Tullia smiled and said “I know.” Then Mom and I left the bathroom and let Cole and Dad go to the bathroom.

As we left the airport I gave Bobby one last hug, doing my best to hold the tears in as I walked out the doors. The sun was shining, birds were singing, and I was going home. I should have been thrilled, not sad at all! But I had this funny feeling – like I was mourning the loss of my crewmates.

We climbed into the Hulk and I headed straight for my seat, sighing contentedly as I sat down. It was wonderful to be sitting down in my spot in our van, not in the 15 passenger van!

As we pulled away from the airport I got out my computer (that Mom and Dad had charged for me) and opened my email application. I added all of my crewmates email addresses, added the contacts to an email, and wrote.

Hey y’all!

Hope you all got home safely! I’m already missing you guys – Colter keeps asking me what our inside jokes meant, (since he heard a bunch of them) and I can’t really explain them to him without you guys. ( I can’t explain the Benhamin joke to him, and he does not understand why I can’t pronounce Banquet right. LOL) Good times, huh?

Anyway, just wanted to make sure that I had everyone’s email addresses right. I had so much fun with all of you on our trip. It would not have been as much fun without every single one of you, and I just wanted to thank you for helping me with everything. 

I know that the trip would have been so much harder for me if you had not helped me, and I can’t thank you enough. 🙂

 I did have a favor to ask – remember how I said I wanted to write down what everyone said about me in the give and take thing? Well, I never got around to it. If there is anyway you could send me what you said, I would love to be able to look back on those and remember. 😀

 Love you guys!


I saved it as a draft, so I could send it when I got home, and then settled in for the long car ride. I couldn’t shake the sadness, but I was excited to see my siblings!

*Everything here is from my own memory and may not be correct. Outward Bound is not responsible for anything I post here. Thanks too NCOBS for letting me use their photos.*

Seven Daughters and Seven Sons

Seven Daughters and Seven Sons by Barbara Cohen

In an ancient Arab nation, one woman dares to be different. Buran cannot — Buran will not-sit quietly at home and wait to be married to the man her father chooses. Determined to use her skills and earn a fortune, she instead disguises herself as a boy and travels by camel caravan to a distant city. There, she maintains her masculine disguise and establishes a successful business. The city’s crown prince comes often to her shop, and soon Buran finds herself falling in love. But if she reveals to Mahmud that she is a woman, she will lose everything she has worked for.

This was a book in the Sonlight curriculum that my Mom had us doing several years ago. It was “required reading”, but nothing was really “required” for me. I was really interested in the Arabian culture at the time, so this was one of the first books I reached for when we got them.

After reading it, I can say that I’m glad I grabbed it first, because I wasn’t comfortable with Colter reading this. Indigo and Jade might be able to (when they’re older), but the boys shouldn’t. At least not until they’re a lot older.

The girl in the book, Buran, is one of six daughters. Her father is not rich, so he is going to have trouble marrying off all of the girls. Buran takes off into the world, disguised as a man, to help make money (she was the smartest of the girls, so she could do this).

Things get complicated when she meets Mahmud, the son of the Wali of Tyre. They fall in love, but it’s not that easy. Remember, she’s disguised as a man. So there’s a guy falling in love with what seems to be a guy. Then, we get a scene where Buran takes off her clothes and looks at herself in the mirror, telling herself that she’s a female, describing herself.

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Then, (thankfully!) Mahmud kinda figures out that Buran (aka Nasir, her male name,) is a female. He starts giving her all of these tests, trying to decide whether she is or not (since just asking would be rude). Eventually she flees Tyre and he chases her all over the place. It ends with them together at her father’s house, which made the romantic in me happy. But most of me was just weirded out by everything else.

My Favorite Scene

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The Verdict: 3 of 5 Stars

The fact that this is recommended by a curriculum, without a warning as to the content, concerns me. The fact that there is a woman describing her body kinda freaked me out. I was still little when I read this – my body hadn’t started changing yet. If Sonlight is going to recommend this, don’t you think they should mention something like that?

Yes, it was a cool story about a woman going out there and making smart decisions (and getting the best of her horrid uncle and cousins. lol). But it wasn’t just that.

I’ve looked at Sonlight’s website, and this book is marked as a read aloud. At least they’ve got that on there!

Okay, this post is long and goes all over the place. Sorry about that! 🙂

My Week In Tweets

This week I:
-Went to track practice with the boys and got a cute picture of Hewitt talking with Coach Sweetland.
-Got excited to see an article about my family on the Huffington Post website!
-Scheduled my drivers ed driving times during my twitter chat for writers (that’s what the #StoryDam is.)
-Got scared to death by my cat racing at me in the dark.
-Ate my lunch on the back porch because they were repainting parts of the kitchen.
-Cleaned the kitchen, put the food away, and lined our cups up.
-Um… stole some onions from the grill before dinner. *cheesy grin*
-Got a bathroom sink!!
-Found a hole in my sock that hadn’t been there that morning!
-Started a Dolphin puzzle with the family.
-Took a video of the bunnies eating their breakfast and the goats trying to break into the milkroom.