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Book Review: Stephen Hawking

This book is part of the “Little People, BIG DREAMS” series and is a board book for younger kids to learn the story of Stephen Hawking.  This is a pretty cool way to teach kids about dreaming big – “No matter how difficult life may seem there is always something you can succeed at” is a great message for children – and anyone, really!

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


About the Book

This board book version of Stephen Hawking—from the critically acclaimed Little People, BIG DREAMS series—introduces the youngest dreamers to the incredible life of this genius physicist and author.

When Stephen Hawking was a little boy, he used to stare up at the stars and wonder about the universe. Although he was never top of the class, his curiosity took him to the best universities in England: Oxford and Cambridge. It also led him to make one of the biggest scientific discoveries of the 20th century: Hawking radiation. Babies and toddlers will love to snuggle as you read to them the engaging story of this fascinating scientist, and will also enjoy exploring the stylish and quirky illustrations of this sturdy board book on their own.

Little People, BIG DREAMS is a best-selling series of books and educational games that explore the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists and activists. All of them achieved incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream.

This empowering series offers inspiring messages to children of all ages, in a range of formats. The board books are told in simple sentences, perfect for reading aloud to babies and toddlers. The hardcover versions present expanded stories for beginning readers. Boxed gift sets allow you to collect a selection of the books by theme. Paper dolls, learning cards, matching games, and other fun learning tools provide even more ways to make the lives of these role models accessible to children.

Inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world with Little People, BIG DREAMS!

Book Review: Creating Celtic Animal Designs

Creating Celtic Animal Designs is a book all about tangled knot work.  There are birds, hounds, lions, hares, horses, snakes, fish, foxes, bears… While these all look super amazing I fear they are a bit too advanced for my skills.  The book includes techniques and materials needed for making your own, but I am not sure that this is a project I’ll be adding to my ever growing to try list any time soon.

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

About the Book

Many instruction books just teach how to duplicate designs without providing any clues for the next step — making your own! This unique guide features the highly effective Aon method, a technique for creating your own original designs rather than copying examples. It’s easy to comprehend, with simple step-by-step instructions that focus on incorporating animal forms into Celtic patterns and designs.
Creating Celtic Animal Designs builds on author Cari Buziak’s experience teaching and writing about Celtic patterns and their creation, meaning, and history. Her nine in-depth examples encompass both traditional and contemporary renderings of animals — hounds, lions, hares, birds, and other creatures. Cari demonstrates the freehand drawing of Celtic knots and moves beyond the basics to show how to manipulate and develop stand-alone patterns into panels and combinations. Artists, designers, art instructors, tattoo artists, and anyone who appreciates Celtic designs will find this book a treasury of both instruction and inspiration.

Book Review: 108 Stitches

108 Stitches is a book from MLB Pitcher Ron Darling, which had some controversy surrounding it with some mentions he made about players on the 1986 Mets team.  Unfortunately he was supposed to make a CT appearance promoting this book that I was hoping to attend, but it ended up getting canceled.  I thought this book contained a lot of fun and interesting stories about his teammates as well as some stories about his time as an announcer for the game which he has been doing not only for the Mets games on SNY but some playoff games on TBS as well.  Most interesting were his stories about Yogi’s buttcrack (I never thought I’d ever type that!), Harvey vs Collins in the World Series and Wilmer crying.  The latter two I had watched on TV so it was interesting to get another perspective of these events.  While this book took me nearly a year to read, I blame my grad school load and not Ron’s writing style – had I had the time to actually devote to reading this book I am sure I would have finished it much sooner – but the chapters were set up in such a way that it was perfectly find to read one here or there and come back to it much later and still be able to enjoy the full story put forth.

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

About the Book

This is New York Times bestselling author and Emmy-nominated broadcaster Ron Darling’s 108 baseball anecdotes that connect America’s game to the men who played it.

In 108 StitchesNew York Times bestselling author and Emmy Award-winning broadcaster Ron Darling offers his own take on the “six degrees of separation” game and knits together wild, wise, and wistful stories reflecting the full arc of a life in and around our national pastime.

Darling has played with or reported on just about everybody who has put on a uniform since 1983, and they in turn have played with or reported on just about everybody who put on a uniform in a previous generation. Through relationships with baseball legends on and off the field, like Yale coach Smoky Joe Wood, Willie Mays, Bart Giamatti, Tom Seaver and Mickey Mantle, Darling’s reminiscences reach all the way back to Babe Ruth and other early twentieth-century greats.

Like the 108 stitches on a baseball, Darling’s experiences are interwoven with every athlete who has ever played, every coach or manager who ever sat in a dugout, and every fan who ever played hooky from work or school to sit in the bleachers for a day game.

Darling’s anecdotes come together to tell the story of his time in the game, and the story of the game itself.

Book Review: Get Coding 2! Build Five Computer Games Using HTML and JavaScript

Get Coding 2! Teaches you how to code web-based computer games using HTML and Javascript.  It starts with the history of these programs and making games and then goes into making games which get more complicated and bigger as you go along.  It also explains how all games are essentially made in the same way they were in the 1980s!  I liked that there are some step-by-step instructions in here for beginners and am looking forward to finding the time to trying some of them out!

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

About the Book

Ready to learn how to code a game? Get an introduction to programming with this fun and accessible guide.

Learn HTML and JavaScript. Design and build five interactive computer games. Create cool graphics. Code simple artificial intelligence. This appealing guide, covering essential coding concepts, offers an ideal introduction to all these activities and more. By following simple step-by-step instructions and completing five exciting missions, aspiring programmers are invited to code well-known games such as tic-tac-toe and table tennis, then customize their projects to test their skills.

Book Review: Dreaming in Code: Ada Byron Lovelace, Computer Pioneer

Dreaming in Code is a book about Ada Lovelace.  If you don’t know, Ada was the daughter of the poet Lord Byron and is considered the first computer programmer. (A female? gasp!)  Ada found out that she was better at work than motherhood and really enjoyed Math and Science.  I am familiar with her names because ADA is a programming language that is still used today at my job and Lovelace is thrown around with the AI debate.  It was a lot of fun to learn more about her and how she died with gambling debts and sold the family jewels to pay the bookkeepers.   Ada passed away when she was 36 years old but obviously her work in the STEM fields are still showing impacts today.

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

About the Book

This illuminating biography reveals how the daughter of Lord Byron, Britain’s most infamous Romantic poet, became the world’s first computer programmer.

Even by 1800s standards, Ada Byron Lovelace had an unusual upbringing. Her strict mother worked hard at cultivating her own role as the long-suffering ex-wife of bad-boy poet Lord Byron while raising Ada in isolation. Tutored by the brightest minds, Ada developed a hunger for mental puzzles, mathematical conundrums, and scientific discovery that kept pace with the breathtaking advances of the industrial and social revolutions taking place in Europe. At seventeen, Ada met eccentric inventor Charles Babbage, a kindred spirit. Their ensuing collaborations resulted in ideas and concepts that presaged computer programming by almost two hundred years, and Ada Lovelace is now recognized as a pioneer and prophet of the information age. Award-winning author Emily Arnold McCully opens the window on a peculiar and singular intellect, shaped — and hampered — by history, social norms, and family dysfunction. The result is a portrait that is at once remarkable and fascinating, tragic and triumphant.

Property Brothers Book Signing

September 9 the Property Brothers, Drew and Jonathan Scott, went to RJ Julia in Madison, CT to sign copies of their latest children’s book. Each book purchased allowed up to 4 family members to meet the brothers, so as expected, this event was sold out and the line was large. When I went in to pick up my books (I ordered their previous to get signed as well) the brothers arrived and Drew said hello. (I didn’t see Jonathan sneak in.) I was assured the line would “move quickly” but was not told that we would have go to upstairs! Fortunately, staff at the book store was SUPER accommodating and pulled a few of us who couldn’t make it up the stairs to a different room and had the brothers come by to sign our books there instead. When they entered one of them said “We heard you were having a party down here and we weren’t invited!” They were super nice, chatted and teased and signed our books and posed for photos (They are also SUPER TALL!) After we got our books signed we went outside to have our photos taken with the costumed property brothers – dressed like the characters in the book! RJ Julia always has wonderful events and I am looking forward to who else they have come through CT next!



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Book Review: Awesome Achievers in Technology

Whenever I get books like this, I start by skimming the table of contents to see if any of the names are any that I recognize.  Then I see when i read the book how many of their achievements I know about.  This book was no different – of the 12 listed in the table of contents I thought I may have recognized 1 name, but I wasn’t entirely sure. Then I read the note from the author that said, “And then there’s a giant list of heroic figures that are unknown to most people. Top achievers whose work hasn’t been properly celebrated”  So maybe it makes sense that I didn’t recognize these names upon first inspection. But their achievements I knew all about – Atari, Siri, seat belts, Sierra Online, TV remote, windshield wiper, cell phone, home security system, web browser, fiber optic cables, microwave oven, Scotchguard.

Some of these things I use daily, and still have no idea where they came from or invented them.  Well, now I know.  Will I remember? We’ll see the next time one of their names pops up at trivia.  In addition to the information about each inventor, each chapter has some extra details, some fun notes from the author and some illustrations as well.  There’s also a sneak peak at Awesome Achievers in Science – and wouldn’t know you BOTH of the guys mentioned I knew who they were and what they achieved.  Guess I’ll have to read that one next.

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 August 6, 2019 from Perseus Books, Running Press.

About the Book
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Book Review: Make Music!

This book is a lot of fun and full of a bunch of ways you can make music.  The first chapter is all about Body Music – Clapping your hands, filling your cheeks full of air and patting them, using your voice! (And my least favorite, whistling) The next chapter is all about making instruments out of things that you can find around the house – bowls, pots, pans, etc. Who knew you had a whole orchestra right in your house? The 3rd chapter is all about Breath music – making tones by vibrating the air – making a kazoo out of a comb, making homemade flutes, etc.  Then we move on to strings! There are instructions on how to make a guitar out of a cereal box (and some other supplies you probably have around the house).   Instruments from the workshop are more indepth instruments that probably need some help from adults to make.  These all seemed to be a bit over my head!  The last chapter talks all about creating music and how you can make musical scores.  This book has a ton of great ideas and definitely fun things to do on a rainy (or snowy!) day.

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 April 30, 2019 from Storey Publishing.

About the book

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Book Review: My Cat Looks Like My Dad

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect with a book called “My Cat Looks Like My Dad” but the Dad kind of reminded me of my Dad (though we have never had a cat) so I had to give it a go.  In addition to this author’s Dad looking like their cat and vice versa, they also seem to have a lot of other things in common – like what they like to eat and drink and how they spend their day!  While the story may be a bit on the stranger side, the illustrations were a lot of fun to look at.  They looked like they may have been made of paper piecing and some really, really cool patterned paper at that. (The Dad’s outfits are really retro and fun!)  I really ended up enjoying this book a lot.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.  This book will be published April 15 from Owlkids Books.

About the Book

New from the creator of Wallpaper and Skunk on a String comes a witty and uplifting picture book that will speak to families of all varieties about how family really is what you make it.

Minimal text paired with bright paper-collage illustrations create comparisons on each spread in which the narrator talks about their family—especially the striking similarities between Dad and the cat. Both have orange hair, love milk, start their days with stretches, appreciate a good nap, and are brave (some of the time). The narrator is more like Mom, with wild hair, blue eyes, and a love of dancing.

A surprising twist at the end reveals the narrator’s unexpected identity, also hinted at with clues in the art throughout the book. Warmth and whimsy in the illustrations add a playful balance to the story’s deeper message about the love that makes a family a unit, no matter how unusual it may look from the outside.

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Book Review: Backpack Explorer: Beach Walk

Backpack Explorer: Beach Walk is all about taking a beach adventure! It starts out with suggesting things you should bring in your backpack – like this book and something to write with, some toys, sunscreen, etc.  The back of the book has 12 stickers that look like patches so when you find something at the beach that matches one of the “I See It!” stickers, you can stick it in the book!  There are tips for going to the beach and some fun games you can play at the beach.  As someone who grew up near the beach, I always kind of took it for granted and never looked for any of these fun items. Maybe I’ll have to go on an adventure this summer and make up for lost time!

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review. This book will be released April 16 from Storey Publishing.

About the Book

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