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Book Review: Broken Genius

Broken Genius was my pick for my “beach read” for my trip earlier this year.  Unfortunately, cyber security grad school work got in the way of “for fun” reading time, so this book got pushed on the back burner.  But the timing ended up working out pretty nicely, as this book will be officially released next week.  Right up my alley, this book contains coding mistakes (a bit more high stakes than any I have made), cyber security and hacking as well as it all takes place at a Comic Con!

Our main character is Will Parker – a prodigy, silicon valley guy.  But when a mistake he makes with code costs a student her life and a tsunami in Japan ends up changing his plans to buy a company there he ends up finding himself working with the FBI in the Cyber Division.  When a man ends up dead at a comic con, things start to get very interesting, very quickly.  In his possession was a radioactive quantum computer – a unicorn – created by the company in Japan Will was working with but that seemed to disappear after the tsunami and its after effects.  It turns out the victim knew exactly what he had and had turned to the dark web to try and sell it.  Will this auction bring out a high profile hacker that one of Will’s FBI associates has been after for years?

This book seems to be straight forward, but it had so many twists and turns throughout (some that I did see coming and some that absolutely blindsided me) that it was a roller coaster ride to read.  I absolutely loved it.  The front cover says “A Will Parker Thriller” so I am hopeful that this means there will be more books based around him (or maybe they already exist?)  I will have to do some research…

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

In 2011, Will Parker, the young prodigy CEO of a big tech company, makes a coding mistake that costs a college student her life. To assuage his guilt, Will pursues a career in the FBI Cyber Division. Now, Special Agent Will Parker is called to investigate a murder scene at a Comic Con event in the Midwest, where the victim has ties to a radioactive quantum computer that Will was working on before he left his gig as CEO. Working with smart local homicide detective Dana Lopez and FBI stuffed-shirt Thomas Decker, Will discovers the victim was holding an auction for the computer on the Dark Web—and the bidding is still live. With bidders including a legendary Chinese hacker, Russian criminals sent by the Kremlin, and a corporate executive desperate to escape a scandal, Will once again finds a life in his hands when the victim’s daughter is taken hostage. A trail of blood and high-tech breadcrumbs leads Will deeper into mystery, danger, and a race against time to keep unlimited power out of the wrong hands.

Book Review: Not Dressed

Not Dressed is a romantic comedy that is 45 chapters split into 3 parts.  Our main character and narrator is Jake who hates his job and is currently living with his girlfriend Lindsay who LOVES her job. Like, a lot.  The book begins with him claiming he will not be at this new job for more than 6 months and then jumps to 2 years later and he is still stuck.  Lindsay comes off to me as absolutely insufferable and almost immediately I wonder why Jake is still with her.  Jake’s sister is getting married soon so Lindsay signs them up for dancing lessons without telling Jake until after he reluctantly agrees to go along with her plan.  Then Lindsay’s talk radio show gets bumped to the evening time slot meaning that she won’t be able to attend the dance lessons.  Rather than cancel them, she suggests Jake go on his own and teach her what he has learned on the weekends.  Somehow, Jake agrees.

Jake goes to the dance lessons and thinks he is going to be stuck being paired with the teacher, but it turns out that there is another student who is solo and just happens to be a female, so of course they pair up.  Kaylee is a Trekkie and geeky fangirl to the extreme and she doesn’t know when to shut up. She drops Star Trek references everywhere but despite all this, she and Jake seem to hit it off and form an odd friendship.

I was intrigued by this book because it was a romantic comedy with a male author instead of a female. I tend to lean towards the female written books so I was curious to see how this might be any different, aside from the main narrator being from the guy’s perspective. (Most other books either alternate or are from the female’s perspective.)  There were a few instances where I thought, “no girl would ever say that” but for the most part I enjoyed it.  By about halfway through I found myself either absolutely hating or being very, very annoyed with all 3 of our characters – Lindsay (I was hoping with every new page that Jake would dump her ass), Jake and Kaylee.  They all bugged me for different reasons – yet while this may have made me opt out on finishing other books there was also something about them that just drew me in and I had to see how these stories would end.  There were some twists and turns along the way and I think I was pretty much ok with things in the end.

If you are a fan of a romantic comedy, maybe a smart geeky girl or hate your job in architecture, you might want to check out this book.  I received a free e-copy of this book from Reedsy Discovery in order to review this book. I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

A romantic comedy of how love goes wrong—and right—when you’re a twenty-something still figuring out how to adult.

Jake, an architectural designer pushing thirty, is stuck in a job he hates. He’s spent the last two years overworked and underpaid in the dark basement of Burnham & Modine. He and his coworkers get through the day pulling pranks and gambling on how long interns will last.

Lindsay loves her job as the producer for a talk radio show. But her new timeslot means she and Jake are now working different hours. Worse, she expects Jake to teach her what he learns in a ballroom dancing class she can no longer attend. Already hurt by Lindsay’s prioritization of her career over their relationship, Jake feels betrayed when he accidentally discovers that to help pay the bills she’s been moonlighting—as a nude model.

Kaylee is Jake’s new partner at dance class. She’s a cute and free-spirited Trekkie geek who’s trying to figure her life out after going from high school valedictorian to college dropout. Soon Jake and Kaylee are spending more time together off the dance floor than on it … and the state of being ‘not dressed’ just might be contagious.

Book Review: Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge: Traveler’s Guide to Batuu

Since my next trip is somewhat up in the air due to all the virus concerns, I’ve turned to day dreaming and planning future trips.  One location on my bucketlist is Batuu.  If you’re not in the know, Batuu is part of Galaxy’s Edge at the Disney resorts.  But this “in-world” guide is written as if it is it’s own actual location in the galaxy and gives you all the details you need to know about eating, shopping, etc just like any other travel guide for any “real” location.  I now am totally prepared for my future trip to Batuu! (And already picked out some outfits I may want to buy once I am there thanks to all the photos in the book of the shops!)

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

Set your course for the edge of the galaxy to the planet Batuu where you’ll be immersed in the alluring offerings of a mysterious outpost and thriving port that is a haven for scoundrels, rogues and smugglers.

Upon arrival, you will have access to an authentic, in-world environment unlike anything you have ever experienced before! This official guide to Batuu is written completely in-world, as if you are a visitor from another part of the galaxy looking for recommendations on where to eat, shop, and sightsee while on your trip to this exciting location.

Highlighted features: Full-color photos, illustrations, and mapsOriginal content from Lucasfilm and Walt Disney ImagineeringBackstories to characters and locations found in Black Spire Outpost Whether living your adventure in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge or simply being an armchair traveler, this in-depth literary companion will delight any fan of Star Wars.

Book Review: Your Year In Art: Watercolor

I have never been much of a watercolor painter, I never really got the right ratio of water to color and things would end up a runny mess.  I have seen some beautiful water colors though and I am always very jealous of those who can do it.  I was happy to read Your Year In Art: Watercolor which gives you all sorts of basics and techniques to get your started and then a project for each week of the year, getting more and more difficult as your skills advance!  I don’t have any of the art supplies needed for these but there were quite a few weekly projects that caught my eye (you know one was that panda on the front cover!) so I may have to remedy this and give water color another try with the help of this book.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

Overcome your creative blocks and fears and start painting with confidence with Your Year in Art: Watercolor! Filled with weekly art challenges, step-by-step watercolor lessons, helpful tips and techniques, and gorgeous artwork, this follow-up to the drawing-focused Your Year in Art is a must-have for any watercolor artist.

Written and illustrated by Kristin Van Leuven, owner of the popular online art shop Hello Lovely People and author of Modern Watercolor (Walter Foster Publishing), Your Year in Art: Watercolor seeks to motivate and inspire. The book is divided into weekly art challenges and prompts that cover appealing themes like floralsbirds, and portraits, as well as inspirational ideas for painting patternsholiday decorationsscenery, and so much more. Lessons and prompts are guided but invite personalization so you can build your skills while celebrating your own unique style.

If you’re a beginning artist, you might feel intimidated by watercolor, a medium that doesn’t allow for many errors. However, Kristin Van Leuven makes watercolor fun and approachable with her easy-to-follow tips and free-flowing, expressive style. With her guidance, you’ll learn to embrace imperfection and use the lessons as inspiration, rather than something to imitate exactly.

With Your Year in Art: Watercolor, develop your own painting style and express yourself using watercolor!

Book Review: Mini Chibi Art Class

Mini Chibi Art Class is a book all about how to draw Chibi characters.  I’m not much of an artist and even with these step by step details on how to draw a whole bunch of different adorable characters, I didn’t get very far.  But there are a ton of ideas in this book with the characters that already exist and then different outfits and hairstyles so you can make things your own!

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

In this highly portable mini version of Chibi Art Class, renowned anime artist Yoai teaches you the art of chibi, step by adorable step.

Chibi is Japanese slang for “short,” and popular Instagram anime artist Yoai (@yoaihime) shows you how to draw these adorable doll-like characters in Mini Chibi Art ClassChibis are mini versions of Japanese anime and manga characters and are defined by their large heads and tiny bodies, both of which contribute to their kawaii, or cuteness, factor.

Here, you’ll learn how to create chibis’ signature bodies, facial features, and props, including dreamy eyes, fun clothes and shoes, vibrant hair, colorful accessories, and lively backgrounds. You’ll also learn how to color and shade your vertically challenged characters for optimal cuteness. This book also features 19 chibi tutorials with simplestep-by-step illustrations and instructions, inspiration galleries, blank body bases for you to start your own chibi drawings, and uncolored chibis for practicing coloring and shading.

Mini Chibi Art Class is part of a series of adorable mini versions of Race Point art reference books that include Mini Kawaii Doodle Class and Mini Kawaii Doodle Cuties.

Thanks to this take-anywhere crash course, soon you will be enhancing your notebooks, stationery, artwork, and more with your own unique chibi world. Mini Chibi Art Class is now in session!

Book Review: The Grown-Up’s Guide to Crafting with Kids

The Grown-Ups Guide to Crafting with Kids has a TON of fun projects to do with kids and some of them seem to be pretty easy to pull off! And really fun and cute results.  Painting rocks to make them photo holders, painting leaves to make beautiful pastel rainbow wreaths, there are a ton of great ideas in here and a lot of ones I want to try and I don’t even have kids! (The space themed painted rocks are amazing, but I am not sure I am that talented!)  Definitely a lot of ideas to try if you are stuck inside and you may even already have some of these supplies around the house.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

The ideal follow-up to the much-buzzed-about The Grown-Up’s Guide to Making Art with Kids, The Grown-Up’s Guide to Crafting with Kids features more tactile projects that will improve kids’ fine motor and visual processing skills, in addition to strengthening their focus and memory. Plus, crafting is super fun!

The book follows the same format as the first in the Grown-Up’s Guide series, consisting of multiple creative promptsexercises, and step-by-step crafting projects that children and adults can do together. Author Vicki Manning, who runs a popular Instagram account where she regularly posts craft projects that she’s done with her own kids, The Grown-Up’s Guide to Crafting with Kids appeals to parents, caregivers, grandparents, teachers, and anyone else who wants to spend creative time with the kids in their lives. Kids will love working with adults to make crafts, which include:Clay robotsPom-pom ice-cream conesSun printingTreasure boxesWax-resist bookmarksAnd much moreChapters on tools and materialssourcing materials around the home and outside, and suggestions for engagement and craft-making are included as well.

With fun, colorful, and appealing artwork and projectseasy-to-follow instructions; and crafts made from accessible, affordable, and popular materialsThe Grown-Up’s Guide to Crafting with Kids will quickly become an essential book for families, preschool and elementary schools, art classes, and more.

Book Review: Color Your World: A Walk On The Beach

In addition to being a really fun coloring book all about a trip to the beach, this book is also a journal with activities to draw and write about your trip to the beach!  Lots of fun things to color, do and learn in this book!

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

Collecting seashells, building towering sandcastles, playing in the surf, and having a picnic lunch are all part of a great day at the beach! Young beachcombers are guaranteed hours of fun as they enjoy the cute read-along story while coloring adorable pictures and learning fascinating facts in this imaginative book. Plus, there are easy recipes for take-along snacks, and even some journal pages for recording their own seaside discoveries.

Book Review: Origami Collection

Origami Collection is from 2012 and contains a collection of beautiful images of origami.  The first half of the book shows all of the finished products and the second half contains prints that can be used as the paper to make your own and then the instructions on how to make the origami.  I didn’t try to make any, but very much so enjoyed admiring all the photos.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

 

About the Book

This book is a popular souvenir for foreigners and includes 32 different types of traditional Japanese origami with elegant patterns, with English translation to show you how to fold basic origami.

You can cut out a origami (18cm x 18cm) and use it right away, so even foreigners who have never used origami before can easily create their own works.

You also can enjoy this book just by looking at the various Japanese patterns.

Book Review: The Code for Love and Heartbreak

The Code for Love and Heartbreak is supposed to be loosely based/retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma.  I hadn’t ever read Emma before, so I’m not so sure about that. (I will look it up a synopsis and let you know similarities at the end of this review.)  The book follows Emma who is a math genius that loves to code and is co-president of the coding club at school.  I saw a lot of myself in Emma – would much rather stay home and code than be social, doesn’t want a boyfriend, etc.  Except we never had a coding club when I was in high school and the guys in the one coding class that was offered at school couldn’t manage to figure out “Ctrl Alt Delete” (seriously!)   One part of the book really hit home “Sometimes I dream in code. When I work on a lot for a project, or right before bed, my subconscious is still there, filled with lines of code, and my dreams are laced with numbers and sequences.  I often wake up with the new ability to solve a problem that was bothering me in the code the night before, my mind having worked it out somehow while I slept.”  This has happened to me on multiple occasions and people think I am absolutely nuts when I tell them, so having someone else say this – even if it is a fictional character – made me feel validated.

Anyway. The book.  Coding Club needs to come up with a project to pitch for a championship and it comes down to George’s idea vs Emma’s.  George wants to create an app with karma points for how much you recycle and you can compete against your friends.  Emma wants to create an app that will match up the students at the school for love based on different attributes – what they look like, likes, dislikes, etc.  Emma’s idea ends up winning and the book follows them tweaking their algorithm and setting up various couples in the school based on the outcome of the matches.

We never do find out who Emma’s match was based on the algorithm and they have to create a “second chance” match option for those who broke up with their first, “best” option.

From reading a synopsis of Jane Austen’s Emma – it seems a lot of the character names are the same.  Emma is a matchmaker.  But The Code for Love and Heartbreak is a more modern version. Now I’m thinking I might want to go read the original…

Either way this is a very cute YA book and I enjoyed it.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated.

 

About the Book

In this contemporary romcom retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma by USA TODAY bestselling author Jillian Cantor, there’s nothing more complex—or unpredictable—than love.

When math genius Emma and her coding club co-president, George, are tasked with brainstorming a new project, The Code for Love is born.

George disapproves of Emma’s idea of creating a matchmaking app, accusing her of meddling in people’s lives. But all the happy new couples at school are proof that the app works. At least at first.

Emma’s code is flawless. So why is it that perfectly matched couples start breaking up, the wrong people keep falling for each other, and Emma’s own feelings defy any algorithm?

Book Review: Little Cities: San Francisco

I absolutely loved these “Little Cities” books, that are geared towards kids and teaching them about some of the landmarks in the city.  I had previously read 3 – of cities I had visited.  This is the first one of a city I have not yet visited, but is very high on my bucket list!

This book features San Francisco – Golden Gate Bridge! Fisherman’s Wharf! Alcatraz! And more!   A fun way to introduce your child to new cities.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

Little ones will love exploring the museums, monuments, and more with the help of this handy guide to the city of San Francisco.

Whether they’re San Francisco natives or on vacation, this board book is ideal for young children who want to learn more about this incredible city. Colorful images of famous landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge engage the attention of young readers, while fascinating facts help to engage children’s interest in their surroundings. For instance, did you know that when the Golden Gate Bridge was built, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world? Or that the city is built on more than 50 hills?

This board book highlights child-friendly attractions and features fun activities for kids to do. From famous landmarks and beautiful parks, to the cable cars and amazing buildings, this board book is the perfect children’s guide to the unique attractions of San Francisco.