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Showing posts from August, 2012

Book Review: "Lost" by Sarah Prineas

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Lost by Sarah Prineas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"Lost", the second book in The Magic Thief series, picks up right after the first book ends. Conn is still a wizard, but without his magic loci he cannot do any spells. Feeling lost and empty, Conn attempts to do magic using pyrotechnics - and by "pyrotechnics", I mean explosions.

The action and characters in this book work for me, as the plot moves along at a nice, believable pace. I like how the author keeps everyone true to form, but allows for the characters to change and grow as the story moves forward. I especially like that Conn manages to bother those in charge by being right about matters in which they want him to be wrong.

For those who haven't read the first book, the main portion of "Lost" is written from Conn's point of view. But the author, Sarah Prineas, lets the reader see into other character's heads through letters and diary entries. I like this format, as it gives me a bit…

Book Review: "Magnificent Mind at Any Age: Natural Ways to Unleash Your Brain's Maximum Potential" by Daniel G. Amen

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Magnificent Mind at Any Age: Natural Ways to Unleash Your Brain's Maximum Potential by Daniel G. Amen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

First, my disclaimers:

1. I did not read the entire book cover to cover. I used this book as a reference book to look up information.

2. I really give the book three and a half stars, but I'm not sure how to show that on GoodReads.

A few months ago, I read an article on line about ANTS - automatic negative thoughts - and how they plague (mostly) women. As I read the article, I saw myself, my friends, and my family in the descriptions of how these ANTS infect the brain with negativity and self-doubt.

So I began to research the phenomena, and stumbled across this book while looking for a different book. "Magnificent Mind at Any Age" shows how the physical structures of the brain reflect our lives in terms of damage, and how that damage in turn effects our lives. By breaking this circle of negative reinforcement, we can make our lives better.

Wordless Wednesday: Garden Volunteers

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The Mentality of Group Punishment, and Why It Fails to Discipline

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Let me present a scenario to you.  Your kids come home from school, bummed and complaining about how much they hate it.  You ask them what happened, as thoughts about bullies or worse flit through you mind.

"I missed recess today!" you hear wailed, righteous indignation ringing through your child's voice. "And I didn't even do anything!  A group of other kids were loud during reading, so the whole class lost recess today!"

At first, you breathe a sigh of relief as visions of therapy sessions float away, but then you start to think about it.  What do you do?  Do you ask the teacher about it?  And if she agrees that is what happened, what do you do then?  Do you tell her you disapprove of group punishment?  Do you ask the teacher for special treatment for your child?  Or do you ask the principal for a different teacher?

I can tell you that asking for a different teacher is generally not the right answer, because almost all teachers use group punishment when …

Woot! I Won!!!

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Last week, I entered a drawing for three books on Sarah Prineas - Fantasy Author.  (If the name sounds familiar, that's because I recently reviewed one of her book, "The Magic Thief".)  The books are advanced reader copies, because all of the books get released to the public on September 18th.

Yesterday, I received an email saying that I won!!!  Now, I am anxiously awaiting the package with my new books:

"Under Wildwood" by Colin Meloy, the second book in the Wildwood Chronicles"Darkbeast" by Morgan Keyes"The Peculiar" by Stefan Bachmann - a Steampunk fantasy (squee!!!) I feel so incredibly excited - this is the first time I've won a book, never mind three books!!!  I already reserved the first book in the Wildwood Chronicles from the local public library, so I'll try to get that one read before the books arrive.

Book Review: "Steal Like an Artist" by Austin Kleon

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Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You about Being Creative by Austin Kleon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I find it difficult to review "Steal Like an Artist" because the book is an amalgamation of advice, anecdotes, and uncommon sense. Austin Kleon writes in an easy-to-follow style, instructing readers about how to be creative without talking down to anyone. In fact while I read the book, I felt like I was part of some secret creators club, with this book as the secret club manual.

The book focuses on 10 rules for people to follow in order to be creative. Rule number one is "Steal like an artist." The other nine are printed on the back of the book, but simply knowing the rules does not give you an edge in creativity. You need the explanations, the stories, the logic behind the rules that Mr. Kleon provides to get that tingly feeling (figuratively speaking, of course).

I recommend this book for anyone over the age of 10, anyone who loves to create but feel…

Book Review: "Sunken Treasure: Wil Wheaton's Hot Cocoa Box Sampler" by Wil Wheaton

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Sunken Treasure: Wil Wheaton's Hot Cocoa Box Sampler by Wil Wheaton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As a reader of Wil Wheaton's blog, I already knew that I liked his writing style. But I did not expect to enjoy reading this book as much as I did.

"Sunken Treasure" exposes the reader to more than just a few blog entries. You get to hear how Mr. Wheaton came to terms with Star Trek and Wesley Crusher. You get a taste of his fiction, his writing skills. And you get a cute, informative ending story about the book itself, and Mr. Wheaton's successful foray into the world of e-books.

I strongly recommend this book for all up and coming authors, because hearing about another person's journey can be inspirational.

View all my reviews

Pirates and LendInk and Lies, Oh, My!!

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Pirates and piracy periodically dominate the headlines, as the government attempts to pass new laws supposedly to protect the consumer, as the RIAA takes a teenager with clueless parents to court over alleged file sharing for outrageously large amounts of money, or most recently as a bunch of idiots decide a legitimate business is secretly a pirate site.

Last week, someone in the publishing industry noticed a website called LendInk.com.  This little business venture hooked up people willing to lend out their e-books with people who wanted to borrow e-books.  Started by a disabled vet, Dale Porter, LendInk only handled the initial exchange, sending both parties to the appropriate vendor - either Amazon or Barnes and Noble - to do the actual lending of the e-book.

It seems that the notion that a person can lend an e-book to another person, in a manner similar to the public library lending a book to a patron, is too radical, too new, and too close to piracy for a lot of authors out ther…

Wil Wheaton, My Hero

I recently finished rereading the book "Steal Like An Artist" by Austin Kleon.  I love this book because of the simplicity of his ideas, the thoughtful nature of the chapters, and his wonderful, practical suggestions.  One of his suggestions is to write public fan letters to people who you admire, who inspire you, who you think are just extremely cool.

My first public fan letter is to Wil Wheaton, geek, writer, nerd, gamer, musician, blogger, and I think he acts. ;-)

Dear Wil Wheaton,

I have been watching you and your life since either the movie "Stand by Me" or the show "Star Trek: Next Generation" - it's been so long now that the exact dates get blurry.  I know that you hear this all the time, but you are my inspiration.

I too am a geek, a nerd lost in the wilds of suburbia, surrounded by soccer moms and mom entrepreneurs.  I have a few, treasured geek friends, people who understand when I gush over the discovery of life created with arsenic instea…

Wordless Wednesday - Summer Camp

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Book Review: "Shark Life: True Stories About Sharks & the Sea" by Peter Benchley

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Shark Life: True Stories About Sharks & the Sea by Peter Benchley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"Shark Life: True Stories About Sharks & the Sea" contains a plethora of happy and informative stories about Peter Benchley and his encounters with various sea creatures. The book also presents sharks as neither the kindly king of the oceans nor the misanthrope of marine life, but rather as a group of elasmobranchii who view the world much differently than land-based mammals.

When I first started reading this book, I only knew Peter Benchley as the man who wrote "Jaws". By the end of the book, I realized that Peter Benchley truly cares about the oceans, has worked hard to educate people about sea creatures, and is a talented writer. I also learned that I am ashamed at how we as humans have treated the ocean animals, and I wish we could change our ways before sharks join the dodos on the extinction list. But I'm not holding my breath.

View all my reviews

Watch Out! The Twitter Virus Wants You!

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This weekend, I received a direct message through Twitter from a friend of mine.  "Wow!  I guess you didn't realize that they were watching you. {insert URL} " read the generic but intriguing message.  But when I clicked the link, the URL first went to Facebook, then to a copycat Facebook page with a different URL.

Ugh!  I had just been targeted by the Twitter Virus!!!

This particular virus sends direct messages from a Twitter account to people who follow that account, telling the recepient that he or she appears in an interesting video.  The message also helpfully includes a link to the suspect video.  But the video link goes to an imitation Facebook page where you are prompted to enter your Facebook login information.   Also, as soon as you click the link, the virus begins trolling your followers list, resending itself to continue the hack.

If you get one of these messages, DO NOT OPEN THE LINK.  I would also let the sender know that their Twitter account seems to be …

Fly Away, Flu!

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This past week, I received an email from the pediatrician's office, telling me that the flu vaccine is now available and remind me to schedule an appointment for my children.  The email spawned some questions:

Do I want to schedule an appointment?  Do I want my kids to get another vaccine?
I know that vaccines do not directly cause autism, because I read and believe all of the research surrounding thimerosal.  And I have relatives who died or were permanently disabled from polio, so I also believe that vaccines do good.

But I also know that the over use and misuse of antibiotics has created several new super bugs, including new strains of both tuberculosis and gonorrhea that resist almost all available antibiotics. If we get an epidemic of either disease, we would be hard-pressed to respond in any way other than to let the infected die while protecting the healthy.

So I wonder, do vaccines exasperate the problem?

After research, my answer is no, vaccines do not exasperate the supe…

Book Review: "Article 5" by Kristen Simmons

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Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I checked this book out of my public library, but immediately lost it to my son, who read the entire novel in three days. Then he bugged me to read it quickly because he wanted to talk to me about it.
I must say, I completely understand his enthusiasm. "Article 5" captures your attention and holds on, from the first chapter until the very last page.

The story follows a typical teenage girl, Ember Miller, as she tries to adjust to life under a new, strict theocracy. Ember keeps her head down, draws little or no attention to herself, and studies hard in school because she fears that girls will not be allowed in certain classes soon.

Then, disaster strikes, as soldiers show up at her house to arrest her mother for breaking Article 5. Ember also gets taken away, not officially "arrested" but now government property; Ember must find a way to reunite with her mother, at all costs.

The strength of "Article 5&…

Poetry: Election Dejection

The heat of summer
Fries the pavement,
Wilting flowers  While sucking dry
Any ambient moisture.  
Election season rages on, despite this heat.  Or the resultant drought.  Or earthquakes in Iran.  Or current economic troubles or triumphs.   Election season rages on.
Lies pile onto lies, Burying the Truth Until the truth is no longer.
Mudslingers, naysayers, accusers,  Political pawns willing to sacrifice their own morals For a chance at 15 minutes of fame. Or to be the next Sarah Palin.
Doesn't everyone want an obnoxiously colored bus with their name on it?
Local elections in July Chase down independents, Democrats, Republicans, Each one vying to get a vote For their Favorite Cause, Favorite Candidate, Favorite Bill.
But no one stands willing to listen to others, Engage in a real debate, Reform opinions based on facts, BE HONEST!!!
The lies of the elections Pervade and Pervert  That which they lie for.
The Preamble to the Constitution Now tells its own lie. We have no justice, No …

Wordless Wednesday: English...

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Book Review: "The Automatic Detective" by A. Lee Martinez

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The Automatic Detective by A. Lee Martinez
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had no idea what to expect when I picked up "The Automatic Detective", by A. Lee Martinez. I read a review of "Emperor Mollusk versus the Sinister Brain" that sounded quite interesting, but our local public library only had "The Automatic Detective" and "The Nameless Witch". I check both books out, and found myself pleasantly surprised.

"The Automatic Detective" follows the story of an robot named Mack Megaton in Empire City, a futuristic place where weird and unusual science experiments bring hope and radiation to mankind. Mack is just trying to get by as a cab driver when his next-door neighbors get kidnapped. In a sudden move of compassion, Mack decides that he needs to find and protect these people.

I love this novel!! Martinez pulls elements from the standard pot-boiler detective novel, interject some science fiction, and raps the entire thing in mutated t…

Welcome Back to School!!!

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The 2012-2013 school year begins today in Cobb County.  Curiosity and trepidation fill the school buses as kids start a new grade.

Will I like my teacher?  
Will I have too much homework?  
Will I have friends in my class or classes?
What will happen this year???

Parents have just as many questions, wondering if they (the parents) will like the teacher, if their child/children will do well academically and socially, and if they will be able to afford all the related expenses (PTA, school supplies, foundations, new clothes, more school supplies,...)

Though I have said this before, I will say it again - talk to your child's teacher.

Teachers really are human, too, and will not either send you to detention or hate your child because you want to talk to her (or him).  So ask the teacher how she wants to communicate, either email, notes from home, or phone calls, and then treat her as a participant in your child's life.  I make a point of asking what is the teacher's preferred m…

Book Review: "The Magic Thief" by Sarah Prineas

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The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Pick up this book and read it!!!!

If you like adventure, read it.
If you like fantasy, read it.
If you like magic, read it.
If you like good characters, read it.
If you like evil characters, read it.

Basically, "The Magic Thief" has it all!

I checked this book out of our local library because I love reading fantasy books with magic in them. I have a few other books that I am reading at the moment, so I didn't give "The Magic Thief" much thought. Then I opened it up and began to read. About 100 pages later, I realized that I hadn't put it down.

Sarah Prineas' writing is deceptively simple, easy to follow, and fun to read. She weaves the words around, giving just enough details for you to see a picture in your head without boring you to death with the color of each flower petal. She weaves more words around and poof! Nicely developed characters, appropriate to their place in the story. She weaves even…

Book Review: "Once Burned" by Jeaniene Frost

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Once Burned by Jeaniene Frost
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am a Dracula fan. I read the book and shivered at the potent darkness; I watched "Bram Stoker's Dracula" with Gary Oldman and wept at the depth of his emotion; I read "Ano Dracula" and wondered how London would be if Dracula won (instead of Van Helsing).

But I have found my favorite Dracula here, in "Once Burned". Vlad Basarab Tepesh (or "Master" for his servants and human fold) calculates every move with ruthless care, keeping to his strange moral path to ensure safety for himself and his people. But a sense of loss and longing haunt the man, obvious in how he keeps everyone at arm's length, even those closest to him.

Especially Leila, the heroine and protagonist of the novel. Leila faces Vlad with an open mind and heart, separated from the rest of humanity because of her unwanted abilities. Yet she can touch Vlad, and that touch sparks more emotions and reactions in her tha…