Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Review: Everyday Superheroes: Women in STEM Careers

Everyday Superheroes: Women in STEM Careers by Erin Twamley, Joshua Sneideman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Everyday Superheroes was borne as part of a Kickstarter project. Its goal is to help raise awareness of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields. A picture book targeting primary grades, it offers twenty-six women (cute alphabetical organization) who have made major contributions in STEM fields. Ranging from the well-known (Eugenie Clark) to the less well-known (Lyndsey Scott), each of the women featured has a short biography and an explanation of their field. Twamley also provides a discussion of the gifts that are the hallmark of those who are drawn to the STEM fields- observation, imagination/curiosity, problem solving, collaborative abilities, data-based analytical thinking, and communication skills.

If you have a daughter, a granddaughter, a niece, a goddaughter, or if you simply know a female child who shows an interest in science, building, or technology, this is a wonderful book for her. Twamley and Sneideman show twenty-six women who have achieved success in their fields and who provide an optimistic outlook for the women STEM researchers of our future.

You can check out the book here on Amazon or over on Kickstarter.

I received a Digital Review Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Princess for a Day: A book about kindness

Princess for a Day: A book about kindness Princess for a Day: A book about kindness by P Tomar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The latest installment in P. Tomar's colorfully illustrated (by Giulia Iacopini) Indian culture-inspired Babu and Bina picture book series finds young lady elephant Bina reimagining her life if she was Princess Bina. While the greatness of her royal self is gratifying to her, she gradually learns that she has far more fun if she's just Bina, a girl who helps her grandparents and who plays with her friends.

This is a delightful picture book that invites children to contemplate the benefits of just being yourself.

Princess for a Day and Babu and Bina at the Ghost Party are available on Amazon in hardcover or via Kindle Unlimited.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Asian Children's Favorite Stories: Folktales from China, Japan, Korea, India, the Philippines and Other Asian Lands

Asian Children's Favorite Stories: Folktales from China, Japan, Korea, India, the Philippines and Other Asian Lands by David Conger
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

3.5 Stars

Illustrations- 4 stars
Stories- 3 stars

I'm a huge fan of folktales as regular readers of the blog know, and I started reading Asian fairy tales with my mother when I was in Kindergarten. I've read quite a few stories from different cultures and have also read some fabulous retellings (Eugie Foster's "The Girl Who Drew Cats" is a standout and I remember my youngest asking to hear Demi's "Liang and the Magic Paintbrush" again and again). Reading new folktales to children is always a delight but the selection of the stories so that the child reader/listener relates is crucial. I felt there was a bit of unevenness in the selection and adaptation. I also found that some younger children resisted the first story "What Cats and Dogs Don't Get Along," a title which prompted a friend's five year old to say "that's silly, they do get along!" (Their position was unswayed after hearing the story.) Some tales enchanted ("The Mousedeer Becomes a Judge") while others seemed to lack the luminous language of other adaptations I've read ("Liang and his Magic Brush," and "The Crane's Gratitude").

Overall this is a book that might entertain a child interested in folklore from around the world, and parents looking for less commonly seen stories. A number of the illustrations (particularly the snowy scenes for the Japanese story) are lovely, and they will appeal to young children.

I received a pre-publication copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Sunday, March 17, 2019

Review: The Witch's Kind

The Witch's Kind The Witch's Kind by Louisa Morgan
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

3.5 Stars

I want to like this book so much more than my intellectual reaction to it. It wasn't the book I thought it was going into it, though I grew to love the two protagonists, Aunt Charlotte and her niece Barrie Anne Blythe. I also enjoyed Willow and Emma. My main question is... Is this really a book about witches? I'm not 100% sold on the idea.

I found the historical aspect of the story (post- WWII) to be of interest (how people recover from war), and I liked the slow revelation of witchery and the lesbian aspects (really, how many people are in total denial about their spinster aunts, I wonder?) but some of the secondary characters, in particular, Will, are just so two-dimensional and obvious that I occasionally felt annoyed. (You could see Will for who he was from the very beginning! No depth!)

I've seen some reviewers compare this novel to Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman, and that's just a disservice to Morgan's writing here. While she explores relationships, magic, and love, the strongest aspect was the alien aspect for me, rather than any conventional witchcraft theme. It's not the X-Files exactly, but I'm not sure that readers picking up this book are going to get what they anticipated. Not that that's always a bad thing... Yet the story flows and I found the interrelationship between Barrie Anne, Charlotte, Willow the Dog and Emma to be a moving one.

A pleasant read if you don't go into it expecting some intergenerational family witchcraft story by Alice Hoffman!

I received a Digital Review Copy from Redhook Press in exchange for an honest review.

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Friday, March 15, 2019

Review: The Deepest Blue

The Deepest Blue The Deepest Blue by Sarah Beth Durst
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

4.5 Stars

Deepest Blue is the latest installment in The Queens of Renthia series of novels which give us moral heroines who find unique ways to make peace with nature in the form of various elemental spirit entities (fire, air, water, earth, ice, wood, etc.) In this installment, Durst explores an island region of Renthia, Belene, and the harsh fate that awaits those with the power to control the spirits who are charged with the duty of protecting their region of Renthia in spite of any alleigiance to family or loved ones. In this fourth book in the Renthia series we meet Mayara, an oyster diver in Belene who saves her community and loved ones from a storm driven by the malicious ocean spirits that surround Belene on her wedding day. This novel gives us more of an established set of relationships and commitments and lets us feel the impact on heirs to the various regions of Renthia. Much as the reader felt the plight of Daleina in the Renthia trilogy, Deepest Blue elaborates on the theme of communal welfare versus personal commitment.

I continue to enjoy this series in which Nature fights back against the human transgression. Durst gives us a world in which all the successful leaders are those who find a way to create a sense of equilibrium or meaningful co-existence with Nature. That's an optimistic world view that I enjoy. Mayara's story is another fine installment in the Renthian world.

I received a Digital Review Copy along with a paper review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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