Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Dragons of Lore Book Blast - calling all dragon lovers!

Check out some awesome books featuring dragons! Many are discounted, or free. Buy or download the ones you like, and spread the word.

Trusted by Krista Wayment, Middle Grade

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Renick, the fifth son of a dragon breeder, crashes into an unexpected adventure that challenges everything he thought he knew about dragons, history, and himself.

Stranded in the massive Helath forest, Renick meets two other passengers: Thane, a noble training to be a dragon knight, and Lainey, the orphaned niece of a healer. Together they survive an attack by vicious wolves, rescue a baby dragon with a broken wing, and escape from a band of dragon hunters as they make a perilous climb into the mountains. What they discover there will change everything.

The Dreamstone by Mikey Brooks, Middle Grade

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“There is a world inside our own, but we can’t see it when we are awake—only when we sleep. It is then we find ourselves in Dreams.”

When Parker’s mom is dreamnapped by the wicked Mab, it is up to him and Kaelyn to save her. When they return to Dreams, they discover Mab isn’t their only problem. Gladamyr has lost his powers and the only way to get them back is to become what he fears the most—a nightmare.

Alvor by Laura Bingham, Upper Middle Grade

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Adarae jolted as the feeling surged through her. She looked carefully at not one, but two little faces and felt the warm power within them. No one suspected it could be two, but the strength pulsing from them was undeniable. They stared back into her eyes.

Fifteen-year-old Erin and her twin brother, Bain, had never seen the secluded cabin in the woods by their home. Upon entering, they discover a magical world where pegasi, dragons and fairies are a reality.

The siblings soon find themselves with super-human powers, being taught the art of magic and sword play by mystical beings. It isn't long before they are struck with a realization they are training to become elves.

Faced with the decision to leave the life they have always known for a world of fantasy, Erin and Bain confront certain demons that threaten to tear them apart.

Alvor is a spellbinding blend of magic and mystery, enchantment and fairy tale, that asks the age-old question: Do you believe in magic?

Wings of Light by Laura Bingham, Upper Middle Grade

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Sixteen-year-old Erin and her twin brother, Bain, have recently become immortal elves - but the search for their mother has just begun. With new information that their mother may be alive, Erin desperately seeks to bring her back home. But when old enemies threaten her quest, Erin must turn to new friends for help and learn that some magic is better left unexplored.

Awakening by Christy Dorrity, Young Adult

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. . . because some Celtic stories won’t be contained in myth.

A little magic has always run in sixteen-year-old McKayla McCleery's family—at least that’s what she’s been told. McKayla’s eccentric Aunt Avril travels the world as a clairvoyant for the FBI, and her mother can make amazing delicacies out of the most basic of ingredients. But McKayla doesn't think for a second that the magic is real—it’s just good storytelling. Besides, McKayla doesn’t need magic. She recently moved to beautiful Star Valley, Wyoming, and already she has an amazing best friend, a solo in her upcoming ballet recital, and the gorgeous guy in her physics class keeps looking her way.

When an unexpected fascination with Irish dance leads McKayla to seek instruction from the mute, crippled, janitor at her high school, she learns that her family is not the only one with unexplained abilities.

After Aunt Avril comes to Star Valley in pursuit of a supernatural killer, people begin disappearing, and the lives of those McKayla holds most dear are threatened. When the janitor reveals that an ancient curse, known as a geis, has awakened powers that defy explanation, McKayla is forced to come to terms with what is real and what is fantasy.

A thrilling first novel, Awakening is a gripping contemporary fantasy, based in Celtic mythology that is rife with magic, romance, and mystery.

The Crystal Bridge by Charlie Pulsipher, Young Adult

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The Egg followed Kaden home from the hospital. This glowing shell only he can see transports him across the emptiness between universes to distant worlds, but he’s afraid to use it. This strange Egg may have saved Kaden’s life once or twice, but it failed to save anyone else he cares about.

Aren’s sight reaches deep into the souls around her, seeing more than she wants in her friends and teachers at school. When she turns her gaze on Kaden, his Egg responds by sending them spiraling across space and time to a world where dragons, elves, dwarves, and peculiar gods dwell. Separated, lost, and alone in a hostile world on the brink of war, these teens must come to grips with their unique gifts if they ever want to see Earth again.

Back home, a biotechnology company tinkers with the science of reality, hoping to cure death itself by any means. But their work and the intrusion into the void have awakened something shadowy and powerful, a being imprisoned there for millennia. This dark being intends to break free and devour everything and everyone it touches. Infinite universes are in danger. Kaden and Aren must decide if they can save more than themselves. Can they save us all?

The Sapphire Flute by Karen E Hoover, Young Adult

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Rasann is a world in dire need. The net of magic that has held her together for eons is eroding and the magi can’t patch it fast enough to prevent disaster. Volcanoes spew, waters rise, famine and flood and desolation threaten the world as they desperately await the coming of the Wolfchild to heal their home.

Three women begin quests for identity and freedom from the ties that have held them: Ember, from her overbearing and prejudice mother; Kayla, from the rigidity of the caste that has oppressed her family; C’Tan, from her dark and evil master, the Guardian S’Kotos. One will discover she is the first white mage born in three millennia, another will become guardian to the a keystone, the sapphire flute, and throughout it all the third will try to destroy them both.

Descendant by Nichole Giles, Young Adult

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Seventeen-year-old Abigail Johnson is Gifted.

Blessed—or cursed—with Sight and Healing, Abby lives an unsettled life, moving from place to place and staying one step ahead of the darkness that hunts her. When she arrives in Jackson, Wyoming, she is desperate to maintain the illusion of normalcy, but she is plagued with visions of past lives mixed with frightening glimpses of her future. Then she meets Kye, a mysterious boy who seems so achingly familiar that Abby is drawn to him like he’s a missing piece of her own soul.

Before Abby can discover the reason for her feelings toward Kye, the darkness catches up to her and she is forced to flee again. But this time she’s not just running. She is fighting back with Kye at her side, and it’s not just Abby’s life at stake.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

World Irish Dance Association sets the bar for competitive adult Irish dancers

WIDA World trophies for young and old, alike.
Photo: Christy Dorrity
How old is too old to dance? Most people would agree that dancing can be enjoyable at any age.

"It's never too late to learn," says Johnny Cronin, owner of the Johnny Cronin School of Irish Dancing in Ireland, who recently certified to be an Irish dance adjudicator. "I've heard so many times from adults that they wish they had the means when they were young to dance and now as adults many now do." 

There are a few adults in Irish dance that started their training as children, but many adults who Irish dance began taking lessons in adulthood—long past what most would consider a viable age for a champion. The World Irish Dance Association (WIDA) is changing the landscape of competition for adult Irish dancers, giving them a chance to compete for a world title.

Last week, at the World Irish Dance Association’s European and World Championships, held in Dusseldorf, Germany, more than 90 dancers over the age of 23 competed in six age groups. Annamariea Dardi, an adult Irish dancer from Ireland, is pleased to find that WIDA values adult dancers. "I always compare adult dancers to football or rugby players who are valued at the sport well after the teenage years, and it's nice that a dancing organization such as WIDA feels the same." The adult dancers, along with the younger age groups, gathered in Dusseldorf, Germany on April 19-21, 2014. Dancers hailed from thirteen countries and seventy-eight schools.
World Champions in the over35 category.
Séamus O'Rourke (1st), Catriona Newcombe (2nd), 
and Christy Dorrity (3rd), with teacher Johnny Cronin 
Photo: Christy Dorrity
Other Irish dance organizations offer only limited opportunities for advancement for adults, or require them to compete against teens at the major competitions. The comparatively young organization of WIDA allows adult Irish dancers to compete at high levels, and against athletes of similar age. "WIDA has not only opened doors for people to learn Irish dance outside of Ireland, but the organization has really encouraged older dancers and lets them take their dancing as far as they want to," Cronin says. One of his adult dancers, Séamus O'Rourke is the current World 2014 title holder in the over35 category. 

Word is spreading about the positive treatment adult Irish dancers find in WIDA. Catriona Newcombe, an adult Irish dancer and teacher (Echoes of Erin School of Irish Dancing) from Hong Kong was impressed with the events. "WIDA is an extremely  friendly organization," Newcombe says. "Everyone was there to support each other, and we all wished each other good luck and were genuinely please if someone danced well and placed. No where else have I seen everyone as enthusiastic about the senior dancers and cheered them on equally." 

In recent years, attendance at WIDA's double major has increased, seeing a 25% rise between 2013 and 2014 alone. And it isn’t just the attendance of adult Irish dancers that is rising; the quality of the dancing is climbing as well. "The standard in WIDA is high and over the years it is going to get better," says Séamus O'Rourke, current World 2014 title holder in the over35 category. "I always felt that I was able to dance, but with other organizations I would have to compete against dancers in their teens or early 20's. WIDA changed that. I have been introduced to a new world."

As more adult dancers around the globe are given a chance to show what they are capable of, they will inspire many who have thought that they, also, were too old to dance. I have had the best experience of my life being part of the organisation WIDA," O'Rourke admits. "After 27 years away from the dancing world, WIDA has allowed me to go back to what is passionate in my life, that of dancing." And just because the Europeans and Worlds are over for 2014, doesn’t mean that the dancers are resting. They know that the standard will be even higher next year, and are already back to practice, the world over.
Adult Irish dancers await single dance results at the WIDA European Championships.
Photo: Christy Dorrity