Friday, November 17, 2017

Book review - Nevermoor

Title: Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow
Author: Jessica Townsend
Genre: fantasy
Similar books: Gnome-a-geddon by K.A. Holt
                      Goblins by Philip Reeve
good fun

Summary (provided by publisher): A breathtaking, enchanting new series by debut author Jessica Townsend, about a cursed girl who escapes death and finds herself in a magical world--but is then tested beyond her wildest imagination
Morrigan Crow is cursed. Having been born on Eventide, the unluckiest day for any child to be born, she's blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks--and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday.
But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor.
It's then that Morrigan discovers Jupiter has chosen her to contend for a place in the city's most prestigious organization: the Wundrous Society. In order to join, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, each boasting an extraordinary talent that sets them apart--an extraordinary talent that Morrigan insists she does not have. To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests--or she'll have to leave the city to confront her deadly fate.
Perfect for fans of the Harry Potter series and Neil Gaiman, this fast-paced plot and imaginative world has a fresh new take on magic that will appeal to a new generation of readers.

My opinion: Both thematically and stylistically, this novel is reminiscent of Harry Potter and Doctor Who. It has the magic and wonder, the looming evil force and promise of a better life for an undervalued child, the hallmarks of Harry Potter. It has the mischief, the wildness, the sometimes sheer lunacy of Doctor Who. And it does credit to both of these monolith, largely because it doesn't rely too heavily on the parallels. It has room to tell it's own story. Townsend has created a complex world with rules of magic and the promise of great future complications. It's exciting and funny with tight prose and realistic characters.
Advanced Reader Copy provided by publisher.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Graphic Novel Spotlight - Biographies

Pele by Eddy Simon
Monet by Salva Rubio

I am a big proponent of graphic biographies, particularly when the subject's life is characterized by action or art, as with this pair. While a traditional text biography can quickly become overwhelming, representing life events visually engages the reader quickly. These two biographies are particularly good choices for a number of reasons. 1) They're names most will recognized but know very little about. 2) The art styles are appealing and reflective of the subjects lives. 3) The authors don't white wash. They acknowledge the mistakes these men made, the ways their egos hurt their professional lives.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Non-fiction book review - Rewilding

Rewilding by Jane Drake and Ann Love

Much of my early science education, like many in my generation, was focused on ecology. We were raised to revere endangered species, to vilify logging and oil companies. We tend to think there's nothing else we can learn about ecology. So when I came across this book and a term with which I was unfamiliar, I was intrigued. And I was not disappointed. There is plenty of good information. Each example is presented with an easily understood vocabulary that isn't oversimplified. Each case study brings another element into the conversation, both successes and new complications.  

Advanced Reader Copy provided by NetGalley.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Book review - My Brigadista Year

Title: My Brigadista Year
Author: Katherine Paterson
Genre: historical fiction
Similar books: Shadow Warrior by Tanya Lloyd Kyi
                      Girlcott by Florenz Webbe Maxwell
an interesting bit of history

Summary (provided by publisher): In an engrossing historical novel, the Newbery Medal-winning author of Bridge to Terabithia follows a young Cuban teenager as she volunteers for Fidel Castro’s national literacy campaign and travels into the impoverished countryside to teach others how to read.
When thirteen-year-old Nora tells her parents that she wants to join Premier Castro’s army of young literacy teachers, her mother screeches to high heaven, and her father roars like a lion. Nora has barely been outside of Havana — why would she throw away her life in a remote shack with no electricity, sleeping on a hammock in somebody’s kitchen? But Nora is stubborn: didn’t her parents teach her to share what she has with someone in need? Surprisingly, Nora’s abuela takes her side, even as she makes Nora promise to come home if things get too hard. But how will Nora know for sure when that time has come? Shining light on a little-known moment in history, Katherine Paterson traces a young teen’s coming-of-age journey from a sheltered life to a singular mission: teaching fellow Cubans of all ages to read and write, while helping with the work of their daily lives and sharing the dangers posed by counterrevolutionaries hiding in the hills nearby. Inspired by true accounts, the novel includes an author’s note and a timeline of Cuban history.

My opinion: Most of us don't actually know much about Cuba's history and culture. When we were growing up, Cuba was a shadowy villain, a trickle down from the Cold War. Now that routes to Cuba are starting to open, that's going to change and books like this one will help. I was blown away by the facts of this year of Cuban history, the huge effort to bring the entire Cuban nation into a more educated culture. For the history buff, this will be a fascinating read. For others, it's perhaps a slow read.

Advanced Reader Copy provided by NetGalley.

Monday, November 13, 2017

I'm back!

I had intended to only take a few days off to catch up on some projects. Here it is, most of a month later but now that my craft fair is over I should be posting more regularly again. Thanks for sticking with me.

Here's a t-shirt I customized for my cousin's son who's on a real dinosaur kick at the moment.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Book tour promotion - Wolves & Roses

RSVP for the WOLVES & ROSES Tour now… Get a T-Shirt Later

WOLVES AND ROSES is the new young adult shifter fairy tale by best-selling author Christina Bauer which “blends magical fantasy, swooning romance, and a bucketful of teenage sass” (Booklist) and is “a fun romp for Twilight fans” (School Library Journal).

And now they’re having a bookstore tour where you can get your copy of WOLVES AND ROSES signed, meet characters from the novel, and even take home a swag bag full of goodies… including a themed t-shirt! Bottom line? You don’t want to miss the WOLVES AND ROSES book launch tour.

Be sure to RSVP today and arrive early to the event (links down below) — there’s only a limited amount of swag bags given out on a first-come, first served basis to folks who purchase a new copy of WOLVES AND ROSES.


Barnes & Noble, Prudential Center, Boston MA
Wednesday, November 1st, 5:00 PM EST

Barnes & Noble, Framingham, MA
Thursday, November 2nd, 7:00 PM EST


Bluestockings, Manhattan
Friday, November 3rd, 7:00 PM EST


Barnes & Noble, Corte Madera, CA
Saturday, November 4th, 12:00 NOON PST



Barnes & Noble, Oakbrook IL
Wednesday, November 7th, 7:00 PM

The Book Cellar, Chicago, IL
Wednesday, November 8th, 7:00 PM CST

Graphic novel spotlight - Zen Pencils

Zen Pencils - Inspirational Quotes for Kids by Gavin Aung Than

Getting kids to appreciate inspirational quotes is a pretty tall order, so illustrating them comic book style is a genius move. The illustrations in this book are clean and tight but pretty cartoony, very appealing. They illustrate the themes of the quotes well. And the themes are repeated when appropriate. We get the female wrestler and the warrior monk several times, tying lessons together. The style and quotes are appropriate for all ages. This would be a great book to use in a classroom, either to introduce a moral lesson or in an art classroom, to inspire them to illustrate a quote on their own.