Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Non-fiction book review - The Booth Brothers

The Booth Brothers by Rebecca Langston-George

It can be challenging to present a familiar event in a fresh and engaging way. Langston-George accomplishes this feat. Most of us know quite a bit about the assassination itself. What makes this book interesting is its focus on the rivalry between John and his brother, the ideological differences that separated them all their lives, and the long term affect on the lives of those that knew him, involved in the plot or not. And she does all of this while keeping the book quick and easy to read. A great choice for young middle-graders.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Custom phone case

I tend to be thrifty, so when I decided I needed a case for my phone, I shopped at the dollar store. I found an understated black case with a textured back. Once I started using it, I discovered that the texture was actually a piece of adhesive backed fabric that started fraying almost immediately. So I pulled off the fabric, leaving me with a rather boring case.

I can't leave well enough alone, so I painted the back of the case. By painting it a solid color I had a canvas for customization with a Sharpie. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Pick 6: Art

Have you ever noticed that characters in novels tend to have the same hobbies. They're either athletes, aspiring writers, or musicians. For this list, I gathered titles where being an artist plays an important role in the plot. Here are six books published in the last six months focused in some way on art and artists.

6 new books about artists

1. Zenn Diagram by Vendy Brant

2. Love and Vandalism by Laurie Boyle Compton

3. It Started With Goodbye by Christina June

4. Antisocial by Jillian Blake

5. Glow by Megan E Bryant

6. The Mosaic by Nina Berkhout

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Non-fiction book review - Engineered!

Engineered! by Shannon Hunt

While each section of this book is brief, its packed with information. We're given a brief overview of each type of engineering and examples of how they are used in our daily lives. It's a great choice for young readers with any interest in math and science.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Book review - Mighty Jack and the Goblin King

Title: Mighty Jack and the Goblin King
Author: Ben Hatke
Genre: graphic novel/fantasy
Similar books: Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi
                      The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks

Summary (provided by publisher): Like a bolt from the blue, Jack's little sister Maddy is gone—carried into another realm by an ogre.
When Jack and Lilly follow Maddy’s captor through the portal, they are ready for anything . . . except what they find waiting for them in the floating crossroads between worlds. Even the power of their magic plants may not be enough to get them back to earth alive.
Alone and injured, Jack and Lilly must each face their own monsters—as well as giants who grind the bones of human children to feed their “beast” and a fearsome goblin king in the sewers down below.
But when Jack finds himself in a tough spot, help comes from the most unlikely person: the goblin king!

My opinion: Hatke never disappoints. This is a great follow-up to what begain as an exiting series. Now, Mighty Jack has a slightly more mature look and feel than Zita the Spacegirl and as such it may not resonate with the same readers. Zita was more of an elementary series. Jack skews more towards middle grade. I was a little unsure of this series at first, in part because I so dearly loved Zita, but it has grown on me over time especially as I began to notice the thematic parallels. In this series, Hatke uses familiar stories as a broad framework but truly makes the plot his own. If you have even a slight interest in fantasy and fairy tales, give this series a look.

Advanced Reader Copy provided by NetGalley.

Monday, September 11, 2017

A Fanstastic peg

In my continuing effort to celebrate female superheroes in peg doll form, I've created this Sue Storm peg. She provides a nice visual counterpoint to my other peg dolls.


Friday, September 8, 2017

Book review - Shadow Warrior

Title: Shadow Warrior
Author: Tanya Lloyd Kyi
Genre: historical fiction/creative non-fiction
Similar books: What Elephants Know by Eric Dinerstein
                      Arcady's Goal by Anton Yelchin

Summary (provided by publisher): It’s 1558, and warlords across Japan are battling for territory and control. Into this setting, award-winning author Tanya Lloyd Kyi weaves the stories of three people: Mochizuki Chiyome, a young woman determined to become a ninja whose plans are thwarted by an arranged marriage; Takeda Shingen (The Tiger), a fierce warlord seeking a new weapon to outsmart his enemies; and Aki, an orphaned tavern girl whose destiny is changed by a mysterious woman. As their stories intersect, the three characters become key players in an elaborate network of undercover female ninjas who will eventually shift the balance of power in Japan. Based on the true story of Mochizuki Chiyome and her all-female spy network, Shadow Warrior takes readers on a journey through feudal Japan, from villages to castles to battlefields. Stunning illustrations by Celia Krampien, interspersed with archival Japanese art, vividly depict the rigors of ninja training, the struggles of village life, the intensity of battle, and the thrill of accomplishing a secret mission.

My opinion: A quick, highly readable book with a compelling story. It has two major selling points: girl power and spies. Yes, it's an historical setting and is told with more formal language. In fact, stylistically it comes closer to creative non-fiction than a true novel. These might be significant barriers for young readers. But, its a relatively short and compelling read if you're willing to put in a little effort and could spark some good non-fiction reading as well.

More information: Shadow Warrior release September 12.
Advanced Reader Copy provided by NetGalley.