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.

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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 Book Review, Writing

Book Review: Randy Ingermanson’s “How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method”

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snowflake method

 

Title: How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method

Author: Randy Ingermanson

Genre: Business Parable

Formats available: Paperback and Kindle

 

I first discovered Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method in an article on his website AdvancedFictionWriting.com, via a link  in a NaNoWriMo forum several years ago. I had made a few attempts at the Method, but never got very far at all. I realized that I needed a more visual/kinesthetic (learn by doing) explanation. I had seen that Ingermanson had published a novel about method, but just hadn’t gotten around to purchasing it on Kindle until this past October. (It’s also available in paperback.)

I read it in a single evening. Yes, it was that quick of a read. (At least for me; but I’m a fast reader, and if I’m enjoying a book, I won’t put it down unless I absolutely have to.) Then I went back and read it again this week, just so I could study the method again, complete with the novel’s examples and started adding to what I had already started using of the Snowflake Method on my last NaNoWriMo novel that I never completed. Perhaps if I had actually used the method every step of the way, I might have actually completed my novel.

How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method is a business parable that uses Goldilocks, grown and married with two children, as the main character. She has longed her whole life to write and be an author, but her family told her that such a thing was “impractical”, and encouraged her to find a more “practical” career.  She does so, but after the birth of her children, she became a stay-at-home mom until the youngest was old enough to enter kindergarten. She thought about looking for a new job, but realized her skills were now outdated, and she was unhappy being “practical” anyway.

She decides to do something for herself. She’s going to write a novel.

After a false start, she goes online and finds a writing conference near her, tries two different noveling workshops – taught by Papa Bear and Mama Bear, respectively – that are just no good for her. Then she finds a workshop taught by Baby Bear, using a method he calls the Snowflake Method. In this workshop, we also meet Big Bad Wolf, Little Pig, Mother Hubbard, Robin Hood, and many others.

As the workshop goes along, the reader learns the Snowflake Method step-by-step along with Goldilocks, using examples from the novel she’s creating during each step.

I found the story fun and engaging and easy to follow. And definitely amusing for the use of all of these fairy tale characters. I also appreciate that Ingermanson shows us at the end how he used the Snowflake Method to create this book. Having all of these examples on hand will definitely help me in my future writing, especially as I prepare for Camp NaNoWriMo in April and July, and NaNoWriMo in November.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who needs a step by step guide, full of examples that you can follow along in your own writing.

I think I will rate this 5/5 stars.

Posted in Book Review, Friday Reads

Friday Reads: “Unspoken” and “Danger in the Shadows

This edition of “Friday Reads” may contain spoilers of the books I’ve read this week.

Unspoken
image from Amazon.com

A couple of weeks ago, I borrowed Dee Henderson’s novel Unspoken on my Kindle from my local library. I had read the description and thought it would be an intriguing read. Wednesday night, I started reading.

I found myself disappointed.

The male main character is Bryce Bishop, the owner of Bishop Chicago, an antique coin shop. His female counterpart is Charlotte Graham, a mysterious woman who has inherited her grandfather’s great wealth, a trucking/storage business, and millions of dollars’ worth of antique coins that she wants to sell. She was also a kidnapping victim when she was a teen, and refuses to talk about it.

Part of what disappointed me was during the conversations between Bryce and Charlotte about the coins. Each conversation, as part one went on, felt more and more like massive info dumps of coin collecting knowledge with little/poor/no explanation for the non-coin-collecting reader.

Then, when Bryce asks a mutual friend about Charlotte’s past, there’s very little hesitation before the friend reveals the truth. I would have figured the friend would have encouraged him to wait a little longer before asking Charlotte instead. The religious conversation that took place near the end of part one bothered me, too, though I’m not really sure why. Maybe the way Bryce put everything is not how I would have done it.

For what may be only the second time in my life, that I can remember, I had no desire to see how a book ended. I couldn’t finish it, and returned it to the library’s eBook catalog the next day.

Danger in the Shadows
image from Amazon.com

Instead, I picked up an old favorite, another by Dee Henderson: Dangers in the Shadows. My aunt first introduced me to this book, the prequel to the O’Malley series, in 2005, and I was hooked from page 1. It’s a nice blend of suspense, budding romance, and Christian discussions. I’m still in the the first chapter – Sara and Adam are about to meet – so I’ll save more of this for next time. Actually, I plan to read this one slower than I normally do. I want to make notes as I read. I’m interested in writing a Christian romantic suspense novel, and I find this whole series to be a good example of what I want.