Love, Lydia - Notes from a geeky, plus sized artist.: non-fiction
Showing posts with label non-fiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label non-fiction. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

August Book Reviews: Love of the Sirens and Batgirl Vol 2 Family Business

Hi Friends,


Yet again it's been a while, but this summer has definitely been a long, hot, and sad one in the news.  So I hope you all can understand my absences, as they have honestly been for my own mentally health, not because of you all!  I'm doing ok, but sometimes being online too much when there's bad news almost everywhere is just hard for anyone.  So I took a rather impromptu break....maybe I shouldn't have because I really enjoy writing.  It makes me glad to be back.  But let's get on to what you came here for, the book reviews!

August Book Reviews




I've got two for you today, and I want to keep up with at least two interesting book reviews each month.  I know some of you readers love it, and I'm really glad to share anything interesting I've read with you all.


Love Of The Sirens




The Love of the Sirens by Edith Zack is a little bit off my typical path of fiction and comics, but I really loved the format of small historical biographies of women in music.  If you get to know me well enough you know I enjoy my history and women's studies.  So this book is a fantastic combination of both.  It allows many of the women who were well known in their time to be made known now to modern music and history lovers despite the fact that many history of music textbooks leave these ladies out.

There are twenty different women profiled in the book, all in historical order from 1098 CE to the last who was born in 1931.  There's also a nicely written prologue that gives a bit of an overview of women in the world of music and what has at times kept them from being as popularly known as their contemporaries.

I'll be honest, I haven't read all the stories yet, but none of them are terribly long.  It just right for a lunch break or before bed reading.  The women detailed are all what we might think of as more classical musicians or composers and lived in the western world.  There's nothing too crazy or exotic among them that I've discovered, but the fact that there aren't any women I could name meant I had to read this book to find out more!  I was given a copy of the book for free by the publisher to review, but as always this review is my own thoughts.  If you'd like to check it out you can find out more here through my affiliate link on Amazon.com.


Batgirl Volume 2 Family Business




Some of you may have read my somewhat frustrated review of the first Volume in this series The Batgirl of Burnside.  There was some rather sexist bits in what was otherwise a great story, and it left me conflicted.  It took me a while to get back to it, but I decided I'd add it to my birthday list, and then I did indeed get it for my birthday a couple weeks ago!

It's a much better volume, with a lot more emphasis on character development, and it includes some really fun storylines as well.  Barbara has to deal with family and friends who she wants to protect instinctively, while also learning to allow them to choose their own paths.  There's less drawing for the male gaze too, I really only noted it one or twice, whereas the other volume seemed to include it in every story!  If you're interested you can find this book on Amazon via this affiliate link or in your friendly local comic book store.

But Wait There's More....


I've got a lot of exciting things coming up, including another post about another amazing subscription food box.  It's not really the kind it's easy to just do a video about either, so I'm looking forward to sharing it here on the blog with you later this week.

Thanks for sticking with me.  I'm really excited to get back into the swing of things with you all as summer is finally winding down.  See you again soon!



Tuesday, February 9, 2016

January's Enchanted Beauty Box!

Hi friends,

It's been a while, but I have a lot of new things to share with you this week.  First up we've got this unboxing video:

January Enchanted Beauty Box - Frozen!



If you'd like to find out more or subscribe just go to http://www.enchantedbeautybox.com/.  Use code GEEK for 25% off!


Thanks for reading!  I'll have another new post very soon.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

2015 - My Year in Books

Hi friends,



Today I was thinking I'd write a couple book reviews for you all, but I realized it's been a while since I looked at my reading challenge for 2015.  Last January I challenged myself to read a book every week, 52 in all.  Along the way I also started working on an overlapping list of 52 specific kinds of books as shown further down in this post.  And the results are in:



2015 Reading Challenge!

Books Read:

(Click any link in the list to see my review!)
  1. Fables Volume 19 Snow White
  2. Fables Volume 20 Camelot
  3. Fables Volume 21 Happily Ever After
  4. Fables Volume 22 Farewell
  5. The Ancient Magus Bride Volume 3
  6. Wren's War
  7. Wren's Quest
  8. Ms Marvel Volume 3
  9. Hexomancy
  10. Wayward Volume 1
  11. Ghosted Volume 1
  12. Figment Volume 1
  13. A Brides Story Volume 6
  14. Dead New World
  15. The Torment of Rachel Ames
  16. Alice in No-Man's-Land
  17. Top 12 Places to Visit in Texas
  18. Battling Boy: The Rise of Aurora West
  19. The Master of Formalities
  20. The Death and Life of Mal Evans
  21. Spell or High Water
  22. Off to Be The Wizard
  23. Princess Ugg Volume 1
  24. A Walk in The Woods
  25. Velvet Volume 1
  26. The Ancient Magus Bride Volume 2
  27. Lumberjanes Volume 1
  28. Bride of the Water God Volume 2
  29. Bride of the Water God Volume 1
  30. The Ancient Magus Bride Volume 1
  31. Avengers & X-Men - Axis
  32. Secret Wars
  33. The Two Princesses of Bamarre
  34. Wild Magic
  35. Wolf Speaker
  36. Emperor Mage
  37. Wren to the Rescue
  38. Captain Marvel Volume 3
  39. Captain Marvel Volume 2
  40. Captain Marvel Volume 1
  41. Ms Marvel Volume 2
  42. Batgirl Volume 1
  43. Fuse
  44. Burn
  45. Gifts of the Blood
  46. The Swap
  47. Cipher
  48. Waistcoats and Weaponry
  49. Manifest Destiny Volume 1
  50. Amulet Volume 2
  51. Amulet Volume 1
  52. Thor Goddess of Thunder Volume 1
  53. The Sculptor
  54. Rat Queens Volume 2
  55. Rat Queens Volume 1
  56. Celebromancy
  57. Geekomancy
  58. The Long Mars
  59. The Long War
  60. The Reluctant Midwife
  61. Pride and Prejudice
  62. Price and Prejudice and Zombies
  63. The Weekend Homesteader
  64. Call the Nurse
  65. Paradise Lot
  66. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
  67. Injustice Gods Among Us Volume 2
  68. Injustice Gods Among Us Volume 1
  69. Wildflowers and Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachians Mountains and Piedmont
  70. Midnight in Austenland
  71. The Permaculture Handbook
  72. Unlocked
  73. Lock In
  74. Ms Marvel Volume 1
  75. Landscaping with Fruit
  76. The Johnstown Flood
I think this is the full list, I may be a missing a couple more recent books, but this accounts for everything I can remember from a good go of looking at my records.  76 is better than I thought I'd do, so I'm quite happy with how my challenge went.  And I'm only a tiny bit surprised that 35 of the titles are comics, manga, or graphic novels!  Thanks to Fight or Flight Comics for that.  They opened almost a year ago and Bryan and I have found our perfect local comic book store in them!

As for the more complex challenge here's the worksheet all filled out:



I didn't want to double count anything, though I did read some books that would count under more than one of the headings in the checklist.  And I may have even missed something that might count, but I spent a good half hour trying to figure out what I read that could be added, and that's plenty!  I feel pretty good about all I ended up reading and can't wait to see what I read this year.  I'm not following any particular challenge, but I'm excited to read things I've been meaning to for a long time or have been recommended multiple times.  So I've started off the year with Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and have many more to come.  I'll try to get in a good book post at least once a month too keep you all posted about it too!

Favorite Reads

I kind of hate picking favorites, but I have to say that some of the books I enjoyed most from this past year would be Lock In by John Scalzi, a sci fi novel, The Ancient Magus Bride fantasy manga series by Kore Yamazaki, The Ms Marvel series featuring Kamala Khan by Willow G Wilson and a team of very talented artists, and Call the Nurse a memoir of a nurse working on a remote Scottish island in the 1970's by Mary J. MacLeod.  (Links above are affiliate links.)  I recommend all of them very strongly and I'm looking forward to all the great new picks this year will bring as well.

That's all for today.  Sorry I didn't get this post out sooner, but sometimes stomach viruses happen.  Yep....

But I'm ready to tackle a video unboxing for a great new subscription box, so be on the lookout for my review of the new Enchanted Beauty Box, the beauty box for Disney fans!  Have a great week!



Thursday, October 29, 2015

Book Reviews and Geekyloot

Hi folks,

Today I've got two book reviews for you plus a great featured store.  Let's get started!

Book Reviews


Top 12 Places to Visit in Texas by Jody Rookstool

I was given this book to review by the author after seeking some guidance to planning the Texas trip I thought I'd be going on.  I've also been writing a series on travel planning that started around the same time, which you can find here.  Texas is an amazing place that as Rookstool says, has a lot more diversity that people often assume beyond just cowboys.  I loved my last visit as I helped my friend Holly move there a couple years back, and am sad I won't be able to make it there for her wedding.  But, I was excited about all the possibilities the state could offer for a visit.  Rookstool's book highlights some of the best, and while the book is small she gives a great overview of both big name destinations such us the Space Center in Houston to less well known gems like Enchanted Rock.  I'm just sorry I didn't get to explore some of them.  But if you're planning a trip to Texas and want to choose a couple great spots this little guide is a great way to pick a few out.  You can find it here and visit the author's site here.

Battling Boy: The Rise of Aurora West

The Rise of Aurora West◊ by Paul Pope, JT Petty, and David Rubin is a great read that can be approached by kids or adults easily.  It's a graphic novel that follows a coming of age type story, and is a prequel to Battling Boy, though you needn't read them in order.  This is the first book in the series I've picked up, and I just happened to spot it at my local comic books store.  In some ways Aurora's family reminds me of Jonny Quest and the Venture brothers, which I love.  Finally we get a girl adventurer in a similar situation!  She helps her dad fight monsters each night, and is tutored in fighting each day.  She begins to find clues that explain some parts of her past she wondered about for years, and as events unfold she takes initiative to investigating exactly what happened in her past.  This is a great little read, I just wish it had color.  The art is great though, and I look forward to reading other books in the series.


The Master of Formalities

The Master of Formalities◊ by Scott Meyer is a book that came up in my Amazon recommendations a while back and intrigued me.  At the time I hadn't yet read any of Meyer's other books (which you can find some of my reviews of here and here) and I just thought the premise sounded good.  About a week ago it went on sale as a Kindle daily deal and I snapped it up.  I feel like this is where Meyer shines, sure his other books were good, but this one is great.  The characters have of depth, and there are many fantastic females in the cast.  The premise involves a large cast in the home of the royal family of the planet Apios.  They're at war with the Hahn of the Hahn Homeworld and through each step of the way have their master of formalities, Wollard, to smooth everything and keep them from losing face.  He advises them in every situation and when things change in the house he begins losing the respect of the royal family as things don't go as smoothly as usual.  Who knew a grumpy, adopted Hahn teenager would be such a problem?  But even Wollard isn't perfect, and there are surprises in store for him as he performs his job as the master of formalities.


Geekyloot

Now it's time for a bit of a review.  You may remember the guest post from last week (Dean Winchester - A Pumpkin Pie Kinda Guy), which was penned Geekyloot's owner Christina Clawson.  Her site is host to a blog, but it's also a great deal destination site too!  Each week the site has 3 deals that are only good for a week, similar to sites like Groupon and Pick Your Plum.  The great part about Geekyloot is it has all kinds of fandom friendly items that are picked with female geeks in mind!

Geekyloot was kind enough to send me a sampler pack with some of the recent deals they've had when I made my first order from them, so I can share it with you all.


Fun stuff, there's the two Baymax keychains from Disney's Big Hero 6, a Hobbit Locket(!!!!), a Marauder's Map (Harry Potter) necklace, a Mockingjay necklace (Hunger games), plus some Simpsons inspired socks.  Bryan was happy to receive the white Baymax keychain, and honestly who doesn't love Baymax!  The Hobbit locket was what made me order from them, I love things that open up have secret compartments and such.


Here's a closer look at the necklaces fronts, and below a second shot of the ones with more detail to them.  They're all costume quality, which is great for everyday wear and cosplay on a budget.



The socks are super comfy, and though I've personally never been a huge fan of the Simpsons I loooove donuts!  And I collect socks too!  I put them on to take a picture while we had Scarlet out for exercise and she came over and starting investigating them and finally marking them.  (Rabbits mark items similarly to cats by rubbing their face against them.)  So these socks have the bunny seal of approval.

A big thanks goes out to Geekyloot for providing me with some awesome items to review.  If you like these go check out the store at www.geekyloot.com/store!  This week they've got the Simpsons socks, a beautiful little Game of Thrones Pin, and a Black Widow necklace.  But hurry, new items will be up Saturday!  Thanks for reading, I'll see you all again soon.

Love,
Lydia

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Mac and Cheese + Good Reads

Hello again!

Today I've got a new recipe for you.  I decided I wanted to tackle something new for the guys this week for our tabletop RPG night.  I love recipes that make things easy and one of the easiest ways I know of doing that is crock pot recipes.  I looked at a couple different versions of crock pot mac and cheese before coming up with my own.  Here is my version:

Leveled Up Mac and Cheese


What you'll need:

3 3/4 cups of shredded cheddar cheese (we tried Sargento's 4 State Cheddar because it sounded good/was on sale)
2 cups Mexican blend shredded cheese (we just used Kroger's version)
3 cups of milk
5 tablespoons butter
16 oz elbow macaroni
8 oz cream cheese

Optional:

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 cup bread crumbs (we went with garlic and herb seasoned)
1/8 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 package of bacon

Total time: about 3 hours

First boil the pasta until it's al dente, or if you're like me as soon as you look in the pot and see they've grown, then drain the noodles.

Then add all the items in your crock pot except the parmesan, bread crumbs, and bacon, stir them a bit and set the crock pot on low.  Come back and stir every half hour and in 2-3 hours it will be done.  You can tell it's done when everything is melted, smells good, and cheese starts browning on the sides of the pot.  When it's at that point just add a layer of the parmesan and bread crumbs on top, put the lid back on and set your crock pot to warm until you're ready to serve.

If you want to add bacon to the dish cook the bacon separately in the oven.  My favorite method is by putting the bacon on a foil lined pan, into the oven and then setting the temperature to 375F for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes if it's not done just check it every few minutes until it's done the way you like it best.  You can then chop the bacon and add it to your bowl of macaroni.

We found that as a main dish this recipe feeds 5 adults, as a side dish it would feed 10.  It is very cheesy and fill you up more than you'd assume because of this.


And now for the book reviews:

Cover image used under fair use guidelines

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson was a really interesting read.  I had picked it up at a thrift store a while back knowing Bryan had enjoyed some of the author's books and thinking a book about the trail so close to where I group up in Roanoke would be interesting.  And it was!  The Appalachian Trail stretches from Georgia to Maine, with an extension trail that goes on up into Canada for those who wish to keep going, and Bill and his friend are about to tackle walking it all.  I think I ended up enjoying some of the more thoughtful sections of the book on history, nature, and the influence of man on it all better than I did some of the parts about the experience of walking the trail and the humor involved (the humor actually put me off a little at times).  I could mentally picture what it might have been like to see the huge old chestnut forests.  All in all it makes me want to go out and walk some parts of the trail and photograph it.  This is the kind of book that many readers will enjoy, but there will be parts you can take or leave along the way.  However, it's all worth the trip.


Cover image used under Fair Use guidelines


Velvet Volume 1 by Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting, and Bettie Breitweiser is the quintessential spy story.  A spy is framed and has to revisit past memories to find out the secrets that will allow them to clear their name.  Only in this case it's a middle aged female spy who was just working as a secretary at the time she was framed.  Over the course of this first book we find out just how much she knows and doesn't know about those she has spent her life working with.  And all this while she's on the run from her own agency.  This was one of our reads for the Word Balloons discussion group at Fight or Flight Comics (my local comic book store in Raleigh, NC), which I probably would never have picked up otherwise.  It reads like most spy movies and has a fairly formulaic feel, but undeniably left me wanting more the moment I finished reading it.

That's all for today, but I'll see you again Friday!

Love,
Lydia

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Book Reviews in Fiction and Non-Fiction

Hello everyone,

I'm finally getting my thoughts down about all these books I've been reading.  Hopefully my mini reviews will help you discover some great new reads!  And if you're yearning for more after this I'll be writing many more posts like this in the future, usually on Wednesdays, or you can look at my Goodreads page to see my full reading history.



Without further adieu here are two of my fiction selections to start out with:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is a classic that I've watched many times on the big and small screen.  The A&E version is my favorite of course!  I couldn't help but love it after watching it at girls nights at Mrs. H's when I was a teenager.  Mrs. H had all boys and would invite the young ladies from my church for a movie night and some of her home cooking, we'd always have a great time.  I'd bought myself a copy and read part of it, but finally came back to it and read it while also reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith, going back and forth every few chapters.  I supremely enjoyed reading Austen's work, but found myself disappointed by Grahame-Smith's.  It's a period book, and Grahame-Smith nor the illustrator Philip Smiley took the time to properly research the clothing, and many other aspects of the time.  It just ruined it for me, and I didn't think the writing was particularly great either, since many aspects of characters were changed.  The dialogue was sadly much too modern in parts, which I also found jolting.  However, Austen's work engrossed me and I could easily imagine the world and characters she created between the films and her masterful prose.  There was a really lovely quote I wanted to share with you all, but I can't find it now that I'm looking.  Isn't that always the way that works?

Next up some non-fiction:

The Weekend Homesteader by Anna Hess is a great starting book for those who wish to start a home mini farm or be more self sufficient.  I really liked how it grouped different activities by the month they should be done in (more or less depending on climate of course!).  And she even ranks things by difficulty, which is helpful for those just getting started.  I found that at least half of the activities weren't the type I was interested in persuing, but still found it an interesting read.  If you're thinking about raising chickens and doing some serious work in your yard/garden this is a great read to start with.

Call the Nurse by Mary J. MacLeod is the memoir of an English nurse on the far Scottish isles of the Hebrides.  Her stories are both funny and poignant, which made me unable to put this book down.  She captures a time around 1970 when only a bit of modernization had come to the islands and many people still lived much the way their ancestors had for centuries.  Having picked this book up on a whim I'm now happy to recommend it to all of my readers who might enjoy a book of short stories that's sure to please.

My last selection in this category is Paradise Lot by Eric Toensmeier and Jonathan Bates.  This is book documenting the journey of a pair of young single gardeners as they move into their first home and change the landscape into an urban oasis.  There are bumps along the way, lots of garden talk, and a bit of romance too.  I found it was a very insightful book for those looking to create edible gardens, but it's written more as a story that just happens to involve lots of plant life than a guide to growing.  It's an amusing read if you're into gardening and ecology, but a bit less approachable compared to the other two books above.

On a related note I've been writing an entry about gardening at our new house to share with you all next week.  I want to show you the whole house, but I'm not quite happy with everything just yet.  So I'm delaying the post on that until I can get things up to snuff.  Between the house, yard, fashioning my capsule wardrobe, games with Bryan's family, planning trips for summer and fall, making art, and reading I've been keeping quite busy!  I'll see you all Friday for another fashion themed post.  Till then keep being wonderful.

Love,
Lydia

Monday, July 13, 2015

My Summer Book Report - Overview

Hi guys,

I've been doing lots of reading, and also rereading books while moving.  But it's been a long time since I've written you all one of my bigger book review posts.  So this one is long past due!

The books I've read since my last post in February (oh man...so long ago!) are as follows The Weekend Homesteader by Anna Hess, Call The Nurse by Mary J MacLeod, and Paradise Lot by Eric Toensmeier and Jonathan Bates - these are all non-fiction.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith, Jane Austen, and Philip Smiley, Geekomancy by Michael R. Underwood, Celebromancy by Michael R. Underwood, The Long War by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter, The Long Mars by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter - these are adult fiction.

Fuse by Julianna Baggott, Burn by Julianna Baggott, Gifts of the Blood by Vicki Keire, The Swap by Megan Shull, Cipher by Aileen Erin, Waistcoats and Weaponry by Gail Carriger,  plus the books I reread The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine, and Wild MagicWolf Speaker, and Emperor Mage by Tamora Pierce - all YA fiction.

And finally with many more entries than I've had before comes the graphic novels/comics section.
Manifest Destiny Volume 1 by Chris Dingess, Matthew Roberts, and Owen Gieni, Amulet Volume 1 by Kazu Kibuishi, Thor: Godess of Thunder Volume 1 by Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman, The Sculptor by Scott McCloud, Rat Queens Volume 1 by Kurtis J. Weibe and Roc Upchurch, Rat Queens Volume 2 by Kurtis J. Weibe, Roc Upchurch, Stjepan Sejic, and Ed Brisson,   Captain Marvel: Marvel Now, Volume 1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick, David Lopez, and Lee Loughridge, Lumberjanes Volume 1 by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke A. Allen, Ms. Marvel Volume 2 by G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, and Jacob Wyatt, Ms. Marvel Volume 3 by G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa, Elmo Bondoc, and Mark Waid, Bride of the Water God Volume 1  by Mi-Kyung Yun, Avengers & X-Men: Axis by Rick Remender, Adam Kubert, and Leinil Francis Yu, Batgirl Volume 1 by Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr, and Brenden Fletcher.

Also here's an updated list for my more complex reading challenge.  I'd love recommendations for books, and if anyone can think of a book set in Roanoke, VA that'd be fantastic!  I don't want to have to cheat and use a book about the lost colony, but I guess I could if I have to.



The big reason I have so many graphic novels on my list is because back in February Bryan and I happened to spot a new comic book store in a strip mall we often passed going on errands from our old house.  The place is called Fight or Flight Comics and it was exactly the kind of store we didn't even know we were looking for.  We always end up in some great conversations when we go in, and find new things to read too.  6 of the 13 comic titles are entirely thanks to them!  If you're in Raleigh or the Triangle area be sure to check them out, their shiny new shop is well worth the trip!  You'll probably hear more about them in the future as Bryan and I are hoping to get involved with a discussion group they have going.

Anyway, back to the books - I don't want to overwhelm you all, so I'll be breaking the actual reviews into 6 entries of 4-7 items each since there are 42 books in total on this list.  I'm very close to hitting my yearly goal of 52 books, because with all these I'm sitting at 51!  I imagine by the time I get around to writing the last of the 6 sets of reviews I'll have topped that and should be adding a couple more books to the lists as I go along.  Till next time.

Love,
Lydia

Monday, February 2, 2015

Books!

Hi folks,

Thanks for all the kind words and responses to my last post.  It really does mean a lot to me as we try to be patient about the timing of having kids.  And I'd be happy to talk to anyone else dealing with infertility; I find it's really important to be able to talk to someone outside of your husband about it, or else feelings can get bottled up.  I tend to find people online through message boards (Babycenter) and other groups, though I'm less involved lately.

Anyway, I've been reading like crazy and have lots of additions to my reading list so far.  I'm up to 10 books finished so far this month, with a half dozen more started.  Apparently I'll be knocking out the 52 on the early side if I keep this up, though in some ways I'm not surprised.  There was a summer around 6th grade when I read nearly 100 books thanks to a fellow library patron who decided to challenge me more than the reading program at the library was.  I feel awful that I don't even know that woman's name, but perhaps soon I'll challenge a young reader myself and make it a tradition!

The books I've added are Injustice: Gods Among Us Volume 1 and Injustice: Gods Among Us Volume 2, which are comics involving the Justice League characters (Batman, Superman, Wonderwoman, etc).  The storyline was written as a prequel to a video game (I didn't know this when I read it or I might have hesitated), but it was so well received as a comic that more volumes are being published to continue the story.  Most of the story revolves around the idea that the superheroes with all their power are nearly gods, and to some people are as one group takes over ruling the earth.  It's really well written and I highly recommend it.

Wildflowers and Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains and Piedmont is a great guide to the natural trees, shrubs, and small plants of the south grouped by how they're found in nature.  It was a fantastic read (if you're into plants like me) and I'll be using several of the plants I found in here to craft my garden with.

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale was a light read, that was fun and a follow up to her first Austenland book, with more of a mystery twist.  These books aren't as well written as the YA books she's known for, but I enjoyed them anyway.

The Permaculture Handbook: Garden Farming for Town and Country was a book that I had high hoped for, but was mostly disappointed by.  It had a lot of information that wasn't useful to me interspersed with a bit that was.  It read more like a textbook than anything though, making it dull enough that I skimmed it for what was interesting and finished it fast despite it's large size.

Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden's Syndrome by John Scalzi is a prequel to Lock In, and more of a novella than a full book.  It's available to read online for free here, which is how I read it.  I thought it was definitely as good as Lock In, if not better in some ways.  It reads a lot like World War Z by Max Brooks, giving a great historically styled narrative.


So, that's a bit of what I've read in January and I have so much more to update you all on regarding the Pins, but that will have to be in a follow up post.  If nothing else this post shows just how eclectic my tastes in books are, and it's just the tip of the iceberg!  More interesting book choices to come, including a Pulitzer Prize winner and more gardening books, plus a new comic choice.  I'll see you all again soon.

Love,
Lydia

Friday, June 6, 2014

Days 155-161 New things

Welcome everyone,

Blog News
So this week has been a busy one between a bit of work, family time, and various other projects.  For starters I'm thinking about making some changes to my blog.  I'm sure you all have noticed that I've been talking about much more than art lately, and while I expect art to be a continued focus I am contemplating giving my blog a new title to reflect to many aspects of what I feature.  I'll be brainstorming and getting back with an announcement about that as well as an accompanying new look for the page design soon.  As it is I'm trying a new format here with added subject headings to help you find the sections you're more or less interested in reading about easier.  I'm also looking at joining a blogger community or two to help me come up with some fun idea for my writing and get to know more bloggers and readers!  I'd love to tell some more stories and allow more creative details from my to be shown to you all.

Art
Next up there's lots of new things on the horizon as I'm working on a new art history themed project that I don't want to share too much about just yet.  However, I can say that it will involve some fun learning experiences and lots of research and work on my part.  This week I've been laying out some ideas, but should have introductory content ready by late June or early July.  If it all goes well it could be a very big series of work for me, which would be a great new challenge.

I've messed with bits and pieces of projects, and should have some finished items to show soon.  Though it will depend on what projects I'm able to focus on next week.  The last few weeks I've been more focused on photography with my new camera and all.  Then I'll have inventory going on at Anthro next week too, so things will be extra busy!

Pinterest
I'm working on the Pinterest project too, and will have the finished post and tutorial up next week, because I wanted to put a little more polish on some of the photos and have been delayed in finishing it this week.  It's coming along well though!

Games
Otherwise I've been working on getting a Pokemon RPG game started (yes the kind with dice) along with a bunch of family members.  It'll be a fun summer game with each of us writing our own stories of what kind of trainers we'll be an my husband acting as GM (game master) throwing different scenarios and Pokemon our way.  We'll be putting aside our bi-weekly Magic games for it since one brother who's home for the summer dislikes playing big group card games, so it's a nice trade off.  Plus we get another "brother" to play too, giving our group people 5 plus our GM.  Normally I cook when we have our Hackmaster RPG nights, but for this I think we'll be gathering at Bryan's parents with the whole family for dinner.  Because, yes, they still have family meals....it's really quite nice!

Besides that we're still working on the randomized game of Pokemon Platinum, which we are approaching the halfway point of now.  So many silly things happen on the random settings, it's just great.  My Charizard managed to have about the best move set ever with powerful fire, ice, flying and ground moves!  And then there's my poor Drifloon, which will never evolve because if it does his ability will change to normalize, making all its ghost moves fairly useless.

Books
During April I read The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, which I enjoyed, though not as much as I did Pavilion of Women.  I'd still recommend it, but I think I simply found it less relatable in some ways.

In April/May I also read Solaris by Stanislaw Lem, which is a sci fi book with a really interesting story.  I don't want to give too much away, but some strange things happen on a remote planet with some well thought out ideas about possible first contact with another life form.

Additionally in May I read The Nazi Officer's Wife by Edith Hahn Beer.

It's the non-fiction account of a Jewish woman who married a Nazi and managed to stay alive in Germany throughout WWII.  I found it particularly interested because she was very well educated and during the war acted as a passive housewife.  Only after the war could she go back to her chosen vocation, shocking her husband and being a strong precursor to the feminist movements that were to come in the next few decades.

Now I'm a quarter of the way through The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett a book that examines the idea of parallel earths, and also just picked up Pinterest Power by Jason Miles and Karen Lacey, and book on how to use Pinterest in new and interesting ways.  I'll write more on them once I finish them!

Conclusion
As you can see I probably could have broken this into 3 different posts and gone into more detail, but I'm always working on new ideas and am horrible about simply writing the small posts frequently so I won't overwhelm you all with information!  For now the heading should help, but it's something I'm trying to work on, so keep giving me feedback and I'll see you all again very soon.

Love, Lydia