Monday, January 13, 2020

Book Review: 'Yoga for Your Brain: A Zentangle Workout' by Sandy Steen Bartholomew

✰✰✰✰ Are you feeling stressed or anxious? Are you looking for a new challenge in the new year? Zentangle is a great way to find your inner peace. All you need are a few supplies and an open mind; then let the creativity flow. This instruction book assumes some basic knowledge of Zentangle techniques. However, I'll admit I knew very little about Zentangling when I first picked it up a few years ago. Nevertheless, I learned a whole lot as I progressed through the book. Just choose the tangles that appeal to you, and away you go.

The Bottom Line: This slim workbook is perfect for advanced beginners and intermediate Zentanglers. As the sequel to Totally Tangled, this one also includes plenty of tips, projects, and new patterns as well as basic information on shading, auras, and even using your pencil. The instructions are super easy to follow too.  It's an easy, peasy way to while away some free time. Enthusiastically recommended for artists looking for a little inspiration or new ideas.

Details: Yoga for Your Brain: A Zentangle Workout by Sandy Steen Bartholomew. Paperback published by Design Originals in 2011. 52 p. ISBN: 978-1574216981 

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Book Review: 'Best in Snow' by April Pulley Sayre

✰✰✰✰ Featuring amazing nature photography, Best in Snow is sure to be a favorite read. Author April Pulley Sayre gently takes the early reader through the winter water cycle of snow precipitation. With stunning landscapes, animal shots, and close-ups, the photography takes the reader to a winter wonderland. Along the way we learn how snow forms, melts, and starts all over again. Educational information is included on the last pages too.

The Bottom Line: This beautiful, engaging picture book is ideal for STEAM related activities. Filled with gorgeous photography and limited vocabulary, this book is perfect for Preschool – Grade 1 classrooms. Kids will have fun learning without even realizing it, and teachers can elaborate on the scientific information presented in the back of the book. Enthusiastically recommended!

Details: Best in Snow by April Pulley Sayre. Picture book published by Beach Lane Books in 2016. 40 p. ISBN: 978-1-4814-5916-7  

Happy New Year 2020!

Good riddance to 2019 & welcome to 2020! The New Year is shaping up to be an amazing adventure. I'm looking forward to getting back on track with reading and writing. I've also returned to my first! I've taken the step to sign up for classes in watercolor painting, journaling, and iconography. And as always, I'll be sharing book related news and articles, so stop by often. 

Wishing everyone a brilliant & amazing 
New Year!

Note: The cool snowman clip art is from ClipArtKey.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Book Review: 'The Santa Thief' by Alane Adams

✰✰✰✰½  As Georgie and his Papa search for the perfect Christmas tree, Georgie receives the devastating news that Santa might not be able to visit this year. All he wants is a new pair of ice skates, but his hopes are dashed. He's no longer in the mood to decorate the tree or celebrate Christmas. Before sending Georgie to his room, his mother reminds him that Christmas is about more than just gifts. As he sulks in his room, Georgie comes up with an idea. With a little thread, some red cloth, and a new resolve, Georgie gets to work creating Christmas surprises for all. 

The Bottom Line: Adams takes the reader back to a simpler time with this series of historical fiction picture books based on tales told by her father about growing up on a Pennsylvania farm in the 1920s.  In this third installment, Georgie learns about the true meaning of Christmas. Charming illustrations enhance the nostalgia for a time long past. Read this with your child ages 4 - 8 on Christmas Eve.

Details: The Santa Thief written by Alane Adams & illustrated by Lauren Gallegos. Hardcover picture book published by Spark Press in 2017. 32 p. ISBN: 978-1-940716-86-2

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Book Review: 'The Wonderling' written & illustrated by Mira Bartók

✰✰✰ The groundlings are part human, part animal creatures from a different time and place. Like many abandoned and orphaned groundlings, Number 13 was taken to Miss Carbunkle’s Home for Wayward & Misbegotten Children. Number 13 can’t remember a time when he wasn’t here. To make things worse, he doesn’t even have a real name.

One day Number 13 sees a tiny creature being bullied even worse than himself; he finally decides to do something about it. In a show of unusual courage, he saves the little ball of fluff and makes a real friend. The first of many new friends, this is just the beginning of an adventure for Number 13. The duo will be tested time and again as they uncover a diabolical plan and try to prevent it. In a race to save the sounds of music, Number 13 and his ragtag group of friends will have to rely on their instincts, bravery, and each other if there’s any hope of overcoming evil.

The Bottom Line: This long fantasy is reminiscent of a Dickensian world with a nod to King Arthur and the knights of the round table as well. Filled with symbolism, references to classic works of fiction, and delightful black and white illustrations, this adventurous tale of friendship and overcoming fear may appeal to advanced middle grade or YA readers.

Details: The Wonderling written & illustrated by Mira Bartók. Reprint edition published by Candlewick in 2019. 464 p. ISBN: 978-1-5362-0890-0 Note: I received a free advance reading copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This was made possible by the Early Reviewers program at LibraryThing.  

Friday, November 8, 2019

Book Review: 'Killers of the Flower Moon' by David Grann

✰✰✰✰½ After being forced to relinquish their native lands, the Osage Indians ended up in what is now the state of Oklahoma. It was such a desolate place; the Osage thought they would be safe from settlers wanting their land. Then oil was discovered underground and the rush was on. Suddenly, Osage headright holders became the wealthiest people in the world, and it seemed everyone wanted in. 

Back then in the 1920s, Osage County, Oklahoma was one of the most chaotic places in the country. Thus, when the family of Mollie Burkhart, an Osage Indian woman, started dying, no one really seemed to notice at first. As more of her family continued to die off, the FBI became involved. What unfolded was layer upon layer of deception, corruption, and murder. This page-turning tale of murder and lies is one that you won’t be able to put down.

The Bottom Line: After years of research, author David Grann presents this lost piece of American history. With compelling writing, obscure facts, and lots of twists and turns, this is a book that keeps you guessing. Enthusiastically recommended for fans of true crime, American history, law enforcement, and Native American issues. This is highly recommended reading for college students as well.

Book Club Notes: Our group had been waiting with anticipation for over a year to read this one. Members felt very passionately about the issues faced by Native Americans and wondered why this wasn’t included in our history books. 

We appreciated that there was ample biographical information for each subject. This book was rich in details, and the photos really added to the reading experience. This was a well-written, fascinating look at history, and we felt that Grann went the extra mile to get his information correct and to continue the investigation.

Highly recommended for book clubs willing to tackle this hidden piece of history. Ratings ranged from 4 - 5, with an average of 4.6. Discussion questions are available at Penguin Random House, PBS, LitLovers, MPPL, & many others. We also viewed the a video clip from the BBC News.

Details: Killers of the Flower Moon: Oil, Money, Murder and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann. Paperback published by Simon & Schuster in 2017. 352 P. ISBN: 978-1-4711-8329-4

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Book Review: 'Young Scrooge: A Very Scary Christmas Story' by R. L. Stine

✰✰✰½  Rick Scroogeman thinks he's the life of the party. He likes to joke around with his friends, but can't understand why they don't appreciate his humor. That's because Rick is a twelve-year-old bully. He thinks teasing his fellow classmates at Oliver Twist Middle school is funny just as long as the joke's on them.

Rick doesn't tolerate it when other people tease him. Take Christmas, for example. Every year the other kids get their chance to get back at Rick when the class watches the classic old movie, A Christmas Carol. All the kids start calling him Scrooge, and Rick gets all prickly about it.

This year Rick is ready to retaliate with even more teasing. What he doesn't know is that things are going to be different. Just like in the movie, Rick is haunted by three ghosts who whisk him away to different eras and try to teach him a lesson. Will Rick change his bullying ways, or is he a lost cause? Only time will tell as Rick tries get back to his family in time to celebrate Christmas.

The Bottom Line: This ghostly retelling of a holiday classic (A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens) features a scary twist with a modern lesson to learn. Middle grade readers will identify with the characters on both sides of the bullying issue. Recommended seasonal reading for young fans of horror.

Details: Young Scrooge: A Very Scary Christmas Story by R. L. Stine. hardcover published by Square Fish in 2016. 208 p. ISBN: 978-1-250-12955-0