Author Archive

Brian McKnight at Mohegan Sun

At the end of January I went to Mohegan Sun for a private show with Brian McKnight. You may think private equates to intimate but it was in the arena so it was quite a crowd that filled in a ton by the time he took the stage – despite the number of people trying to pass off their tickets to people who already had tickets 😛 I really only knew “Back at One” but I’m not one to say no to a free show and I really enjoyed myself despite the set being mostly love songs. He did do a couple of songs for those of us who didn’t have anyone though so at least he realized there were some of us who wouldn’t enjoy that 😉

He also thanked everyone for allowing him to make music since the 90s – he said that was the best decade for music (and I’d have to agree) and went through a few of his singles from each year. He also did a medley of some of his favorites that have left us – Michael Jackson’s Rock With You, Luther Vandross Never Too Much and Earth Wind & Fire’s September. He talked a bit about how there must be an awesome concert going on in Heaven with Whitney, Aretha, etc but that he didn’t want to join them anytime soon.

He ended up doing Back at One a couple songs before the end, telling people they could come up front if they wanted and while some did, there also was a mass exodus after. He still did Fall 5.0 and then came back for an encore with the crowd mostly at the front of the arena. It was a fun show and I am glad I went despite not being in a love song kind of mood!

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Book Review: Narwhal’s Otter Friend

This is the 4th book in the “A Narwhal and Jelly Book” series. I do not believe I have read any of the others.  It is a comic book that follows Narwhal and Jelly – a jelly fish – as they swim through the sea.  In this particular book they meet up with an explorer that is an otter.  The otter tells them about all of the adventures he has had with other animal and even a mermaid.  Narwhal is impressed, but Jelly, not so much. I guess you could say Jelly was… jelly. So Jelly goes off to try and find a new friend since Narwhal is hanging out with the Otter.  It turns out that Narwhal and Otter were looking for Jelly the whole time because it just isn’t the same without Jelly on their adventure!

A cute story about how you don’t have to have just one friend and adventures are more fun with all of your friends!

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated.  This book will be released February 5, 2019 from Penguin Random House Canada.

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Book Review: Who Are You Calling Weird?

Who Are You Calling Weird? Is a book celebrating strange and wonderful animals. There are 21 featured in the book and it focuses on their unique features or behavior.  There are no real photos of the animals, just illustrations, but from what I know of some of these animals, the illustrations are a pretty good representation of them.  In the end, there is nothing wrong with being weird and we all have our unique features that we need in order to be us.  An interesting book with a great message.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated. This book was released in October 2018 from Quarto Publishing Group.

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Book Review: Leonardo’s Science Workshop

Leonardo’s Science Workshop is a book of projects to invent, create, and make steam projects like a genius.  This book has 6 chapters: Take Wing, Moving Along: The Science of Motion, One Energy source flows to the next, designing technologies, rocks and stars and write a letter to Leonardo.  Each chapter has step by step instructions as well as some text history about the hands on activities as well. I liked that in addition to showing you some of these activities it also talks about the science behind it, so you can learn a little bit and then do a hands on example.  I was always much more of a hands on learner and needed to see it to believe it so these activities would have been great for me as a kid.  As an engineer, this book had a lot of really fun options in it – especially relating to my job now – like making paper airplanes!  I honestly wish I had the time and supplies to go through and make everything that is listed in this book, each page just had a cooler and cooler activity on it.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.  This book was released January 1, 2019 on Quarry Books.

About the Book

Leonardo’s Science Workshop leads children on an interactive adventure through key science concepts by following the multidisciplinary approach of the Renaissance period polymath Leonardo da Vinci: experimenting, creating projects, and exploring how art intersects with science and nature. Photos of Leonardo’s own notebooks, paintings, and drawings provide visual inspiration.

More than 500 years ago, Leonardo knew that the fields of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM) are all connected. The insatiably curious Leonardo examined not just the outer appearance of his art subjects, but the science that explained them. He began his studies as a painter, but his curiosity, diligence, and genius made him also a master sculptor, architect, designer, scientist, engineer, and inventor. The Leonardo’s Workshop series shares this spirit of multidisciplinary inquiry with children through accessible, engaging explanations and hands-on learning.

This fascinating book harnesses children’s innate curiosity to explore some of Leonardo’s favorite subjects, including flight, motion, technology design, perspective, and astronomy. After each topic is explained with concepts from physics, chemistry, math, and engineering, kids can experience the principles first-hand with step-by-step STEAM projects. They will explore:

The physics of flight by observing birds and experimenting with paper airplane designs

The science of motion by building a windup dragonfly

Gravitational acceleration with water balloons

The movement of electrons by making cereal “dance”

Technology design by making paper and fabric using recycled material

Scientific perspective by drawing a 3D illusion

Insight from other great thinkers—such as Galileo Galilei, James Clerk Maxwell, and Sir Isaac Newton—are woven into the lessons throughout.

Introduce vital STEAM skills through visually rich, hands-on learning with Leonardo’s Science Workshop.

Book Review: Leonardo’s Art Workshop

Leonardo’s Art Workshop is a book of projects to invent, create, and make steam projects like a genius.  This book has 6 chapters: Color, Shadow and Light, Lines and Patterns, Forms and Structures, Optics and Special Effects, The Essential Leonardo.  Each chapter has step by step instructions for projects related to the topic of that chapter.  The color chapter has ways to make colored dyes from foods, which I thought was pretty cool (and may be something to consider for easter eggs?) I liked that in addition to showing you some of these activities it also talks about the science behind it, so you can learn a little bit and then do a hands on example.  I was always much more of a hands on learner and needed to see it to believe it so these activities would have been great for me as a kid.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.  This book was released November 20, 2018 on Quarry Books.

About the Book

Leonardo’s Art Workshop leads children on an interactive adventure through key art concepts by following the multidisciplinary approach of the Renaissance period polymath Leonardo da Vinci: experimenting, creating projects, and exploring how art intersects with science and nature. Photos of Leonardo’s own notebooks, paintings, and drawings provide visual inspiration.

More than 500 years ago, Leonardo knew that the fields of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM) are all connected. The insatiably curious Leonardo examined not just the outer appearance of his art subjects, but the science that explained them. He began his studies as a painter, but his curiosity, diligence, and genius made him also a master sculptor, architect, designer, scientist, engineer, and inventor. The Leonardo’s Workshop series shares this spirit of multidisciplinary inquiry with children through accessible, engaging explanations and hands-on learning.

Following Leonardo’s example, this fascinating book harnesses children’s innate curiosity to explore the foundational elements of art—color, shadow and light, lines and patterns, forms and structures, and optics and special effects—and the science behind them. After each concept is explained using science, history, and real-world examples, kids can experience the principles first-hand with step-by-step STEAM projects, including:

Create paints and dyes from food

Harness a rainbow with a prism

Build a camera obscura

Make your own sundial

Practice blind contour drawing

Create a one-point perspective drawing

Make an infinity scope

Insight from other great artists and scientists—such as Sir Isaac Newton, Sandro Botticelli, Paul Klee, and Leonardo Pisano Fibonacci—are woven into the lessons throughout. Introduce vital STEAM skills through visually rich, hands-on learning with Leonardo’s Art Workshop.

Book Review: Katherine Johnson

Before reading this book I didn’t know all that much about Katherine Johnson, but what I did know, I was incredibly impressed by.  Having read this book, I now know a lot more about her – like how she loved numbers and would often count the steps her siblings took to walk to and from school and would count anything else she could as well. She ended up skipping to 2nd grade, skipped 5th grade and was ready for High School when she was just 10 years old! Wow!  Unfortunately, growing up when everything was segregated by race, there was no high school for African-Americans at the time where they lived.  Katherine’s Dad stayed to work on the farm while her Mom and siblings moved elsewhere so they all could go to high school and would not be forced to drop out. She graduated high school and started college at 15.  Once she finished college the odds were against her in finding a job doing something fun with math – since she was not only a woman but also African-American.  It is crazy to think that all this segregation and separation was not all that long ago – but Katherine was in the right place at the right time as she was able to further her education as one of only 3 African-American students in a previously white college.  And then discrimination in the work place laws were being placed – so many companies were now hiring women for jobs previously only had by men.

Katherine said it is important to do what you love and always do your best.  She also advanced in her career by asking questions and going against rules that were in place and becoming a trailblazer.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated. This book was released January 8, 2019 from DK Children.

About the Book

In this kids’ biography, discover the inspiring story of Katherine Johnson, famed NASA mathematician and one of the subjects of the best-selling book and movie Hidden Figures.

It was an incredible accomplishment when the United States first put a person on the moon–but without the incredible behind-the-scenes work of NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, such a feat could not have been possible. In this biography for kids ages 8-12, follow Katherine’s remarkable journey from growing up in West Virginia, to becoming a teacher, to breaking barriers at NASA and receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015.

DK Life Stories go beyond the basic facts to tell the true life stories of history’s most interesting people. Full-color photographs and hand-drawn illustrations complement thoughtfully written, age-appropriate text to create an engaging book children will enjoy reading. Definition boxes, information sidebars, fun facts, maps, inspiring quotes, and other nonfiction text features add depth, and a handy reference section at the back makes this series perfect for school reports and projects. Each book also includes an author’s introduction letter, a glossary, and an index.

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Book Review: Elvis, Strait, to Jesus

Elvis, Strait, to Jesus was a pretty cool book.  It is about Tony Brown who is an iconic producer who has worked with well, just about everyone in Nashville.  It is more of a photo book than anything else and he has a lot of the people he worked with sit in a French Renaissance chair – which is not something I had seen before but was really cool and I’m sure a lot of fun for him to put together and reminisce.  Lots and lots of stories about the music biz inside and lots and lots of pictures too.  If you’re into music, Nashville, Tony Brown, country, Elvis, Reba, Bernie Taupin, etc… you’ll want to check out this book.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated. This book was released May 1, 2018 from Center Street.

About the Book

“In the world of modern country music history, Tony Brown has earned a critical spot…[as] one of the top creative minds of the past four decades.” –Billboard.com
This striking photographic journey shows how Tony Brown became the King of Nashville: from pianist for Elvis Presley, to president of MCA Records Nashville, to producer of over 100 number-one country songs that are beloved by millions. ELVIS, STRAIT, TO JESUS celebrates a music icon’s legendary rise, his history-making industry relationships, and how these friendships gave us the songs we still live by.

The magic of Tony Brown’s forty-year career is revealed in pictures, with historical and behind-the-scenes images, snapshots from the “Elvis years,” and stylish contemporary portraits staged in a French Renaissance chair of friends, musicians, and artists including:

George Strait – Reba McEntire – Trisha Yearwood – Brooks & Dunn – Vince Gill – Lionel Richie – Lyle Lovett – Patty Loveless – Steve Earle – Rosanne Cash – Emmylou Harris – Jimmy Buffett – Marty Stuart – Bernie Taupin – Don Was – William Lee Golden – Rodney Crowell – David Briggs – Glen D. Hardin – Donnie Sumner, and more.

Tony’s fascinating anecdotes accompanying the photos unveil the encounters that led to mega-hits by George Strait, Reba McEntire, Trisha Yearwood, and countless others; he recounts how he became the accidental founder of Americana music with the edgy signings of Steve Earle and Lyle Lovett to MCA, as well as his unforgettable memories of life on tour with Elvis Presley. He also retraces his North Carolina roots and honors the legends of rock, country, and gospel with whom he forged an inimitable music legacy. This special tribute is one that no fan of music or artistic photography should be without.

 

Book Review: Landwhale

Landwhale is subtitled: On turning insults into nicknames, why body image is hard and how diets can kiss my ass and is by Jes Baker.  I wasn’t sure about this book at first, but it turned out that I could totally relate to it and it was definitely something I needed to hear/read.  The very beginning of the book is a huge trigger warning, and I can see why.  However, if you are able to make it through the pages that follow (and I can totally understand if you can’t, Jes herself even said she was often crying when she was writing some of the chapters) there is a lot of body positive information and resources but I think the most powerful thing from this book for me was realizing or reaffirming that I am not alone.  There are many others unfortunately out there who feel the same way as Jes and I do.  Another helpful piece of information was about how she learned to love herself after a breakup and while she may not love ALL of herself, she is working on that and I think that was another great lesson that everyone needs to learn.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated. This book was published May 8, 2018 from Perseus Books, Da Cap Press, Seal Press.

About the Book

By the author of Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls and a heroine of the body image movement, an intimate, gutsy memoir about being a fat woman
Jes Baker burst onto the body positivity scene when she created her own ads mocking Abercrombie & Fitch for discriminating against all body types–a move that landed her on the Today Show and garnered a loyal following for her raw, honest, and attitude-filled blog missives.
Building on the manifesta power of Things, this memoir goes deeply into Jes’s inner life, from growing up a fat girl to dating while fat. With material that will have readers laughing and crying along with Jes’s experience, this new book is a natural fit with her irreverent, open-book style.
A deeply personal take, Landwhale is a glimpse at life as a fat woman today, but it’s also a reflection of the unforgiving ways our culture still treats fatness, all with Jes’s biting voice as the guide.

Book Review: Robin

Robin is a biography about the late, great Robin Williams.  While I enjoyed Robin and his work, I didn’t really know too much about him otherwise.  The book begins with how he grew up and how he always found ways to make his Mom laugh.  Robin ended up lonely because his Mom would often travel with his father, leaving Robin alone.  He was always very modest and didn’t believe that he was worthy of the fame.

It talked about his early days in comedy and how he wouldn’t stay on the stage with the mic, he would sometimes go out in to the crowd and was able to project his voice enough to let the audience hear him and keep their attention.

There are chapters devoted to some of his more successful and major movie roles as well as details of some of the awards he won – and how in 2005 he won an award and essentially announced that he was drinking again.

At the end of the book is a selected variety of the movies and other works he performed in as well as some of the awards he won.  Simply an amazing mind gone far too soon.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated. This book was released May 15, 2018 from Henry Holt & Company.

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Book Review: Turned On

Turned On is a book about Science, Sex and Robots.  Yes, Sex Robots.  This book piqued my interest when it mentioned Robots, and maybe a little because it mentioned Sex as well.  It was a lot more indepth, technical and interesting than I was expecting.  Like, I didn’t realize that Corn Flakes were created to be a part of a bland diet to try and reduce masturbation urges. Or that most sex dolls are made in the image of women and while there are some men ones, they are much harder to come by. And that sex toys are getting smarter and smarter and some even use AI to become who the user wants them to become.  But there is also a risk with AI because some are programmed to reach their goal – and HOW they go about it is really cared about which can be dangerous.  I’m also particularly intrigued by the “incel” community and there was some information on that in here as well and if a solution for their problem could be a sex robot?

And since I am now in grad school for Cyber Security, I couldn’t ignore the part where some of the sex toys were keeping data on the user – and it wasn’t stored anonymously so when it was ultimately hacked and obtained by someone who wasn’t supposed to have it, they had all sorts of interesting and NON ANONYMOUS data from the sex toys.  Yikes!! I didn’t even think about that before then but I think that is the sort of “personal” data that users would really want to be kept secure and anonymous and encrypted!

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.  This book was released December 18 2018 by Bloomsbury USA.

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