Monday, July 24, 2017

"The Sharticorn Origin" or "Why I'm Weird"

In the years that I've been blogging here, I've shared some crafts that can only be described as weird. I'm comfortable with that. As today's craft will prove, I'm a pretty weird person. And I come by it naturally.

In a casual conversation with my family, we somehow (naturally) came up with the concept of a sharticorn - that is, a combination shark unicorn. And when I said "I feel like we need to draw it" nobody called me crazy. My mom just said "there's big paper in the cupboard". And now the sharkticorn is gracing my parent's refrigerator.

And because I'm me, I couldn't let it go at that. Since I had a plastic unicorn and a plastic shark, it was only natural that I make a sharkticorn.

The point of my story is that I have really awesome parents who have always given me space to be myself, who told me that there was nothing wrong with being a little weird.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Pick 6: Mysteries

There's nothing like a good mystery. Whether you're six or sixty, we all enjoy going over clues and trying to guess the solution before the book's characters do. Here are six new mystery stories published in the last six months. The first half of the list is geared at a younger audience while the latter half is more teen oriented.

6 new mysteries

1. Splinter by Sasha Dawn

2. The Mesmerist by Ronald L. Smith

3. Jack and the Geniuses at the Bottom of the World by Bill Nye and Gregory Mone

4. Duels and Deception by Cindy Anstey

5. Artie Conan Doyle and the Grave Diggers Club by Robert J Harris

6. Wallace and Grace Take the Case by Heather Alexander

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Non-fiction book review - The Man Who Loved Libraries

The Man Who Loved Libraries by Andrew Larsen

Carnegie is a fascinating figure. A prime example of the American spirit: rising from nothing to great wealth through hard work and self improvement. I liked the emphasis on education and the value of reading, of course. But I also liked that it doesn't whitewash. Larsen sates that some of Carnegie's business practices were questionable, his treatment of employees not alway fair. Many children's biographies, especially picture book length, talk only about best moments. I appreciated this level of honesty.

More information: The Man Who Loved Libraries releases August 15.
 Advanced Reader Copy provided by NetGalley.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Book review - Love is Both Wave and Particle

Title: Love is Both Wave and Particle
Author: Paul Cody
Genre: Realistic fiction
Similar books: Paintbrush by Hannah Bucchin
                      A List of Cages by Robin Roe
a lovely story, but not for everyone

Summary (provided by publisher): This achingly beautiful novel considers how to measure love when it has the power to both save and destroy.
Levon Grady and Samantha Vash are both students at an alternative high school for high-achieving but troubled teens. They have been chosen for a year-long project where they write their life stories and collect interviews from people who know them. The only rule is 100% confidentiality—they will share their work only with each other. What happens will transform their lives.
Told from the perspectives of Levon, Sam, and all the people who know them best, this is a love story infused with science and the exploration of identity. Love Is Both Wave and Particle looks at how love behaves in different situations, and how it can shed light on even the darkest heart.

My opinion: Non-linear. That's what stands out most to me about this book. While the heart of the narrative is fairly straight forward, the narration doesn't follow a linear path. It will for a while, but then we get another character who's perspective is years (or more disconcerting for me, weeks) in the past. We rehash known events from a secondary or tertiary perspective. Its a lovely exploration of relationships and families and the damage we inflict on one another, knowingly or otherwise. But it falls firmly in the odd category, so it's not a book for the easily discouraged. The thoughtful, though, could read it over and over and keep discovering something new.

More information: Love is Both Wave and Particle releases August 1.
Advanced Reader Copy provided by NetGalley.

Monday, July 17, 2017


I have a couple of bigger craft projects in the works. In the meantime, here's a little craft kit for your entertainment. I have a growing fondness for these little kits. They usually only cost a dollar or two and are pretty cute. Their decoration is limited if you use the provided markers (in this case, a trio of obnoxious neons) but acrylic paint opens up a world of options.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Picture books for everyone

Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

The premise of this book is simple: a boy's kite gets stuck in a tree and he tries to get it out. It's his methods of retrieving the kite that make the book genius. First he throws a shoe at it. Then the other shoe. And a list of increasingly absurd items, all in an effort to knock the kite free. Each item he throws, as the title suggests, get stuck along side the kite. Even very young kids can see the absurdity and humor of a little boy tossing a cat (much less a whale, a firetruck, and the family car) into a tree. Older kids will giggle just as much as their younger counter parts, and in their case this book can be a starting point for a discussion of effective problem solving.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Non-fiction book review - Get Coding

Get Coding by Young Rewired State

This is an excellent selection for kids interested in getting started with developing web projects. The directions are clear and concepts are reinforced without flatout repetition. It doesn't insult the reader's intelligence. The book is framed as a specific set of projects but encourages experimentation, so the lessons are easily extendable. And while the scope of the lessons is narrow there are plenty of resources included so an ambitions reader could easily use these resources to implement a more complex project. It was also nice to see a book that explained how three coding languages work together to create these projects rather than focusing on just one.

More information: Get Coding! releases August 1.
Advanced Reader Copy provided by NetGalley.