Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Summertime! Checking in on the 52 Book Challenge

Happy unofficial start of summer to you! Now is the perfect time of year to look outside at the bright, sunny skies and warm breezes and... close the blinds, lay in bed and read a good book! God, AC is a great invention.

Summer is an amazing time. Tons of new books come out in the hopes of catching people vacationing or heading to the beach. There's more daylight to read by and when it gets too hot staying inside is the best course of action. This is a great season to spend some quality time with your To Be Read pile.

As you know, the 52 Book Challenge states you should read about a book a month to be on pace. This is the 22nd week of the year so tell us what your number is!

I just hit 22. I got a little lazy there for awhile but I am back with a vengeance and I read three books last week alone. My Kindle and I are really getting close. I've slammed through Revision by Andrea Phillips, Three Slices by Kevin Hearne, Delilah S Dawson and Chuck Wendig, as well as Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal.

My nightly re-reads have been derailed for the past few months but I intend to get back on that horse with a summer re-read of HP Lovecraft stories.

So tell me, how many books have you read so far? Are you on pace to complete the 52 Book Challenge? Read anything good lately?

Happy summer reading!  

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

More Books for the Summer Bookshelf

Here's a few more books I'm adding to the kid's shelves for the summer.

THE JUMBIES by Tracey Baptiste

The blurb: "A spine-tingling tale rooted in Caribbean folklore that will have readers holding their breath as they fly through its pages.

Corinne La Mer isn't afraid of anything. Not scorpions, not the boys who tease her, and certainly not jumbies. They're just tricksters parents make up to frighten their children. Then one night Corinne chases an agouti all the way into the forbidden forest. Those shining yellow eyes that followed her to the edge of the trees, they couldn't belong to a jumbie. Or could they?

When Corinne spots a beautiful stranger speaking to the town witch at the market the next day, she knows something unexpected is about to happen. And when this same beauty, called Severine, turns up at Corinne's house, cooking dinner for Corinne's father, Corinne is sure that danger is in the air. She soon finds out that bewitching her father, Pierre, is only the first step in Severine's plan to claim the entire island for the jumbies. Corinne must call on her courage and her friends and learn to use ancient magic she didn't know she possessed to stop Severine and save her island home.

With its able and gutsy heroine, lyrical narration, and inventive twist on the classic Haitian folktale "The Magic Orange Tree," The Jumbies will be a favorite of fans of Breadcrumbs, A Tale Dark and Grimm, and Where the Mountain Meets the Moon."

This looks like the right amount of creepy and action for my young readers.

EL DEAFO by Cece Bell

The blurb: "Starting at a new school is scary, even more so with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest! At her old school, everyone in Cece's class was deaf. Here she is different. She is sure the kids are staring at the Phonic Ear, the powerful aid that will help her hear her teacher. Too bad it also seems certain to repel potential friends. 

Then Cece makes a startling discovery. With the Phonic Ear she can hear her teacher not just in the classroom, but anywhere her teacher is in school--in the the teacher's the bathroom! This is power. Maybe even superpower! Cece is on her way to becoming El Deafo, Listener for All. But the funny thing about being a superhero is that it's just another way of feeling different... and lonely. Can Cece channel her powers into finding the thing she wants most, a true friend?

This funny perceptive graphic novel memoir about growing up hearing impaired is also an unforgettable book about growing up, and all the super and super embarrassing moments along the way."

This award winning graphic novel is a must for the bookshelves. 

THE CASE OF THE TIME-CAPSULE BANDIT (Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective #1) by Octavia Spencer

The blurb: "Meet Randi Rhodes, the world's first ninja detective! Mystery abounds in this delightful new middle grade series from Academy Award-winning actress Octavia Spencer.

Deer Creek is a small town whose only hope for survival is the success of their Founder's Day Festival. But the festival's main attraction, a time capsule that many people believe hold the town's treasure, has gone missing.

Randi Rhodes and her best friend, D.C., are Bruce Lee-inspired ninjas and local detectives determined to solve the case. Even if it means investigating in a haunted cabin and facing mean old Angus McCarthy, prime suspect.

They have three days to find the treasure; the future of their whole town is at stake! Will these kids be able to save the day?"

Had us at "Ninja Detective."

FLURRY OF THE SNOMBIES (Notebook of Doom #7) by Troy Cummings

The blurb: "It's summertime in Stermont! And it's...SNOWING?!

This series is part of Scholastic's early chapter book line called Branches, which is aimed at newly independent readers. With easy-to-read text, high-interest content, fast-paced plots, and illustrations on every page, these books will boost reading confidence and stamina. Branches books help readers grow!

In this seventh book, it's summertime in Stermont! Alexander, Rip, and Nikki are at summer camp up in the Gloamy Mountains. And it is REALLY hot! But suddenly, it starts snowing - and with the snow comes the snombies! Snombies are snow monsters that can build armies of themselves! Will the S.S.M.P. be able to stop their coolest monster yet?"

One of the kids' favorite series. Zany monsters and a trio of monster hunters.

LITTLE MISS EVIL by Bryce Leung & Kristy Shen

The blurb: "When you live in a volcano, ride to school in a helicopter, and regularly see your dad on the news with the caption “EVIL GENIUS” underneath his picture, it takes a lot to rattle you.

Until you get a message that says: We have your father. Deliver the NOVA in 24 hours or we will kill him.

What’s a NOVA you ask? It’s a nuclear bomb capable of turning the city into a radioactive mushroom cloud, and ever since Fiona’s dad built it, it’s caused nothing but grief. But telling him to stop building weapons is like telling Michelangelo to stop painting.

And that’s why thirteen-year-old Fiona has a flamethrower strapped to her arm. After all, who’d mess with a girl who can throw fireballs?

Apparently, these guys. Big mistake."

One of those books where girlchild saw the cover and had to have it.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Call of @EldritchSwift

There is nothing I love more than a good Lovecraft parody. Eldritch and spooky and fun? I can't help but adore it. There was the awesome Beauty by HP Lovecraft Facebook account, the wildly popular Dread Singles (@hottestsingles) Twitter account and the Night Vale-esque Nihilist Arby's (@nihilist_arbys) account. There's a new account in town and it's OUTSTANDING. May I have the pleasure of introducing you to @EldritchSwift, a Twitter account that crosses Taylor Swift lyrics with perfect Lovecraftian bon mots of terror and horror.

@EldritchSwift follows the current trend of making outlandish parody accounts focused on Taylor Swift. The most notable one is @SwiftOnSecurity which imagines her as a tech professional. 

@EldritchSwift is the brain spawn of YA author Riley Redgate. In just a short time, it's already amassed a following in the thousands and it's perfect in every single way. I especially love the use of "eldritch" since that is one of my favorite words and my usual online handle.

Each tweet begins as a Taylor Swift lyric or quote and quickly twists, shifts and mutates into a delightful chunk of crawling, shuddering darkness. Each tweet feels effortless and packs a nice supernatural punch. Somehow adding Lovecraftian mythos and themes to Taylor Swift just feels RIGHT, you know? It's currently my favorite account on Twitter and I can not stop retweeting it and marveling at just how beautifully made each horrific message is.

There are only 37 tweets and each one is a masterpiece. You NEED to be following this account. Tell her I sent you. See below for some of my favorites. From one eldritch creature to another, I love you @EldritchSwift.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Facing the Music About Getting Older

Me in a few months
I’m not going to lie, I’m just a touch terrified of turning 30. I was completely fine moving through my 20s, but everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked I turned 29. It felt like I’m careening towards the edge of a cliff without any brakes, like I'm on a deadline I forgot about. I’m examining my life and I find the last 29ish years wanting. I haven’t done anything at all. Plus, all the stuff that’s quirky and adorably weird about me feels like it will instantly become pathetic the second I turn 30. I am not in a good place and I have nearly four more months to dwell on it.

Why am I talking about my absurd age fears? Well, I heard something exceptionally troubling on radio this morning and it drove me into a full blown panic. You see, there are a few things I really, really, whole heartedly, completely and utterly love. Books are one, of course. The other is music. I am a huge music fan and I have over 100 GBs of music on my computer. I’m the obnoxious person who actually buys vinyl records. I have a default playlist of over 600 songs. I was just introduced to Pandora by a friend on Twitter and I’ve already created a dozen playlists. You think my book obsession is bad? MAN, wait until you see my music collection.

With that being said, the alt rock station I listen to when I drive to and from work spoke about an alarming study that claims that most people past the age of 33 just stop seeking out new music. I actually shrieked “WHAT?” out loud as I listened. It’s the most horrifying thing I’ve heard all year. You don’t even understand, books and music are basically my life. Being told I will lose interest in something I love so much is like being told I’ll lose a limb.

As is my wont, I ran screaming to Twitter to have a good break down over it and freak out a little. Since I have the best friends in the world, I was gently talked off my ledge. Our own Megan S was especially kind and pointed out the faulty metrics of the study. It was gone by a streaming music company and not, say, a university or peer reviewed journal. It could all be bullshit. Or it could be true and we’re all DOOMED.

There’s an excellent article on the AV Club about the study with over 900 comments proclaiming it to be completely useless and full of lies. It’s comforting but also slightly worrying, because many do admit to having increasingly unfamiliarity with some of the new acts out there right now.

There’s a saying about technology that I feel applies here. It’s from the always on point and wonderful Douglas Adams. “I've come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies: 1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. 2. Anything that's invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. 3. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.” It rings true. Think of the usual stereotypes of parents being bewildered using new tech and their children who act like it’s as natural as breathing. I’m a total Twitter addict but my father can’t even pronounce the name of the site correctly. Trying to explain Pinterest to my mother was like trying to explain to a fish how to climb mountains.

I’m not going to lie, I continue to be terrified. I can’t imagine losing interest in new music or new technology. This world is a strange place, do we really lose our wonder of it as we age?
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