Posted in Writing

Friday Reads: A Childhood Favorite

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Into the Land of the Unicorns

Over twenty years ago, I found the audio book of Into the Land of the Unicorns by Bruce Coville. It has a full cast of actors reading the book, so it was very easy to draw me in and fall in love. I would listen to it over and over, sharing it with my siblings, wondering if there would ever be another book. I never found the next book, which came out in 1999, until after my family moved to Arkansas in December 2002. After that, my siblings and I waited with great anticipation for the remaining books to be released.

And now, just a few years after the final book, in going back and reading the first. So familiar, still enjoyable. But I think I still prefer the audio book.

Posted in Book Review

Book Review – “Rise of the Rocket Girls”

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DSCN2243Title: Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, From Missiles to the Moon to Mars
Author: Nathalia Holt
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company – April 2016
Genre: Biography
Format I Read: Hardback

It always takes me longer to read nonfiction than fiction. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the nonfiction is boring. Perhaps I just need that time to really absorb the nonfiction.

This was a fascinating read. I learned so much about the women involved in what came to be the space program. Our family has enjoyed learning about the history of the space program, and to see the VERY important role the women played, and still play today, is great!

This book isn’t a dull read, full of nothing but data. It is a history, a creative nonfiction piece covering over eighty years of women contributing first to missiles, then to the space program after World War II. This book shows the successes, failures, friendships built and forever cherished between the many women who walked through the doors of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The science included is explained in a way that most readers can at least ha e a basic understanding of the immense responsibilities of these women. I learned quite a lot about some world history that affected, and was affected by, the women in this book.

The book is organized into four sections, plus an introduction and epilogue. The sections are divided by specific decades: 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s to today. There are several pages of pictures of the women, the engineers they worked with, the missiles, rockets and satellites they worked on, pictures of the planets their satellites captured on film.

When the book spoke of the rovers that NASA sent to Mars, I remembered hearing about the one in the late 90’s, when I was in middle school, the space station being built. I was surprised by many of the things I learned while reading. But I don’t want to spoil it for you.

I would recommend Nathalia Holt’s book to anyone interested in the history of women, of the space program, or just history itself.

Some of the final chapters jump back and forth in time over the last few decades when talking about certain aspects of the program, but Holt does separate those jumps with new paragraphs. While I was confused at times, it wasn’t anything that left me behind, wondering what I had missed.

I will rate this book 4/5 stars.

Posted in Writing

Book Review: I Don’t Want to Go to School

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Title: I Don’t Want to Go to School
Author/Illustrator: A. J. Cosmo
Publisher: Thought Bubble Publishing, 2012, 2015
Format I Read: Kindle eBook
Genre: Children’s

I opened the eBook on my Kindle and saw that it was designed to look like the story and illustrations were done on lined paper. It’s the first day of school and a young boy dreads going, filled with worries and reasons to stay home. For a young boy, these can all be seen as valid fears, so the author connects with young readers off to their first day, as well as those who remember their own first days of school. However, I’m bothered by the mother’s responses, which always begin with “That’s silly!” Such a dismissive phrase.

One of the pages contains a lot of text, and an entire line is cut off at the bottom of the Kindle edition, so the book wasn’t formatted correctly for that page. I also wish that the text had appeared handwritten to add to the school feel; instead, the book just uses two fonts to differentiate between the boy’s lines and the mother’s lines.

The illustrations are fun – in color, looking hand drawn – and the story is relevant to the target audience, but I think I’ll rate this 3.5/5 for the dismissiveness.

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: Interstellar Cinderella

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Interstellar Cinderella

Title: Interstellar Cinderella
Author: Deborah Underwood
Illustrator: Meg Hunt
Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC, 2015
Format I Read: Kindle eBook
Genre: Children’s

I saw this book on sale through a BookBub e-mail, and I was intrigued from the title alone. Interstellar Cinderella tells me right away that this will be a sci-fi adaptation of Cinderella, and since it’s a children’s book, there will be a fun twist to it.

When I opened up the eBook for the first time, it announced that this was a fixed-format eBook (shown only in one direction, horizontal in this case), so it would look very similar to the print copy.

Cinderella studies ship repair late at night after her stepmother and stepsisters have gone to bed and she has completed her chores of repairing the zoombroom and other household mechanical things.

Like many children’s books, Interstellar Cinderella is told in rhyme (abcb rhyme, for those who might be interested or know what I’m talking about), and the rhyme seems very natural for the plot. The illustrations are very detailed, the colors muted – not surprising, when I think about it, since the story takes place on a “planetoid”. Cinderella dreams of fixing rockets and starships.

I didn’t realize how much of this story was carried by the – very beautiful – illustrations. On one page, the stepfamily receives the invitation to the prince’s “Royal Space Parade”, and the stepmother suggests Cinderella fix up the broken ship so she can go. However, when I flipped the page and saw Cinderella realize her toolbox is missing as the wicked stepfamily takes off, I wondered what I had missed.  I flipped back, and then noticed that one of the wicked stepsisters has taken the toolbox. A little bit disappointed that I had to double check that.

Cinderella’s robotic mouse calls for help, and the fairy godrobot comes to the rescue with a space suit and a power gem for the ship that only lasts till midnight.

Deborah Underwood gives an interesting twist to the tale after Cinderella arrives at the Parade, where she helps the prince repair his ship, talks for hours at the Gravity-Free Ball, but must hurry home at midnight. The prince searches for her and asks her to be his bride. I’ll leave it to you to find out what happens in the end. wink

Overall, this was a cute, fun read. I’ll give it a 4/5 rating. I definitely recommend it.

Posted in Friday Reads, Writing

Friday Reads: Two Books

I’ve started reading two books this week:

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

I started rereading the Harry Potter series just because I thought it was time. (After all, if you enjoy a series, why stop?) The edition of the third novel, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, that I’m reading right now is the UK edition. I hadn’t heard of this series until the first movie came out; probably about the same time that Goblet of Fire was all over my local Barnes & Noble. I borrowed the first book from a friend at church and devoured it in one day! I had to get to the library to borrow the other three.

As each novel and/or movie was released, my mom and I made a tradition of rereading all of the books in the series up to that point… and then rereading in between just because I loved it so much. So I’ve read the early novels at least five times, for sure.

 

Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars

Now, when you hear about the space race and rocket programs, who do you most hear about? The men, right? Did you know that women were just as much involved in getting rockets into space as the men? That’s what Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars is about. Back in these early days – the early- to mid-twentieth century – there were only three jobs available to women: secretary, teacher, or nurse. But, by golly, there were women even in those days that just loved math. Enter the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where the women could work as computers – an ancient term that once referred to a person who performed calculations – and fill notebooks with very intricate computations and trajectories of the rockets they tested.

I can’t wait to see where this book goes. I’ve learned the stories of just a handful of the women so far, being only in Chapter 3, and I have just another week to read it before I have to return it to the library – unless I’m able to renew it – since it’s such a new book.

Posted in Writing

Why writing a book is like creating parallel universes #amwriting

Wow. What great food for thought from The Writing Chimp! I just had to share! What are some of your thoughts on this?

G.L. Cromarty

When I was little there was a children’s book I read, and in the book you got to choose what happened next. Such books were not new then, and they are still around now. I saw an adult version of this not very long ago. You know the kind…

Lots of exciting stuff has happened…do you:

Open the door – go to page 64

Turn around and walk away – go to page 72

This got methinking about the writing process, and how, when we write, we sit out oftime, as if we are sitting on the edge of countless parallel universes.

Nobody knows the exact way the book will turn out when they start to write. Writers are always talking about the way characters can surprise them, or how the story can twist itself unexpectedly.

But what about us?

Whatif we sit down to write a chapter today, would…

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