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Past Posts

Our Favorite Silly Children's Picture Books!

Silly is one of our family's favorite things. Boy Detective loves to laugh, so it doesn't take much to get him giggling.

I'm more of a hard sell. I don't like potty or gross-out humor, and getting me to actually laugh out loud requires both funny AND clever. The following books were perfect for both of us, and many got at least a chuckle from C-Man as well.

(If you need to get caught up, here are all my children's picture book posts: friendship, dogs, pirates, bedtime, awesome girls, robots, magic, gardens, cats, superheroes, love and marriage, knights, family, animals, science fiction, food and cooking, art and creativity, dinosaurs, princesses, pets, dragons, spooky and monster books, nature, awesome boys, fairies, and kids' poetry books. WHEW, that's a lot of books! You can also check out Good Comics For Kids (Even Little Ones!). This post uses affiliate links, but check your local library too!)

Weasels by Elys Dolan. This is possibly the funniest and most ridiculous children’s picture book I have ever seen. Weasels are trying to take over the world. Really, do I need to say anything more? Just go read the book!

Continue reading Our Favorite Silly Children's Picture Books!.

Stop whatever you're doing and read The Princess in Black!

When Candlewick Press offered us a review copy of The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, I said yes!

Because who wouldn't want to read this? Incognito princess fighting monsters? Perfect! Art by LeUyen Pham? Even better!

I tried only reading part of it to Boy Detective, but that was no good. He wouldn't let me stop until the end. And as the back cover closed, he asked, anguished "IS BOOK TWO OUT YET?!"

Son, I'm sorry, but the first book just came out in October. Cue loud dramatic sighs and complaints about the unfairness of the world. (It's like he's a teenager already.)

Princess Magnolia's double life is right up there with Diana Prince/Wonder Woman or Peter Parker/Spider-Man. She never knows when her glitter-stone ring monster alarm is going to go off. Today, unfortunately, it's during tea with sneaky Duchess Wigtower! Can she protect the kingdom and her own secret at the same time?

(Side note: I love how my kid is old enough to get jokes like character names now. I read "Duchess Wigtower" and he stared at the page for a minute, blinked a couple of times, then started cracking up over her extra-tall hair.)

The text is a little clunky in parts for an adult to read out loud, it's clearly written to keep it simple for kids reading to themselves. But if you can resist a unicorn named Frimplepants, then I don't know how to help you.

Continue reading Stop whatever you're doing and read The Princess in Black!.

I feel VERY reassured, thanks!

Boy Detective: If I had to go without pizza, or go without you, I would probably go without pizza so I could be with you.

Me: "Probably." But you haven't quite decided yet.

Boy Detective: Here's the more reassuring thing! That situation will probably never happen.

Sins of the Father: Superpowered YA Done Right!

Sins of the Father by Thelonious Legend

Multicultural and diverse literature has been such an amazing thing for our family. We've had to search for it, but we have found so many wonderful writers and artists from diverse backgrounds, telling stories that star all kinds of characters. Our lives are richer because of these folks' hard work and talent.

So when Diverse Book Tours was looking for hosts to promote Thelonious Legend's book Sins of the Father, I signed up immediately. Legend is the organizer of #BlackComicsChat on Twitter. I've found SO many great comics recommendations through that Twitter chat and enjoyed listening in on the discussion of all things African-American, multi-cultural, nerdy, and comics.

If y'all read my posts about Office Ninja and Ava Snow Battles Death, you know I'm a sucker for geeky, indie creative media made with love. I knew Sins of the Father would be one of those projects, just from checking out the summary:

This was going to be a special year for the Parker sisters. Eve was going to dominate in the classroom and on the basketball court. Gwen was going to make the starting five and go down in history as the greatest prankster ever. Ana was going to do as little as possible.

But without warning, all three sisters gain extraordinary abilities that defy science… powers that come with a cost. Now all they want to do is make it through the school year without drawing any undue attention, while racing to find a cure before the side effects of their new abilities kill them. Eve’s temperament, Gwen’s fondness for pranks, and Ana’s predilection for money, however, are challenges they must overcome to achieve their goals. Because if they can’t, they’re dead…

How was it? Well, I sat down intending to just start it... and stayed up late to finish the whole thing. That doesn't usually happen to me, I'm very protective of my bedtime! But by the time I was halfway through the book, I needed to know how it ended.

Four reasons why it hooked me so well:

1. Multiple female lead characters, with diversity of personality, appearance, and motivations among them. Eve, Gwen, and Ana are all distinct people - as they should be. Such a nice change of pace from books and comics with just one female character in a cast of all guys, or a couple of token female characters who are hard to tell apart from each other because no thought was put into them.

2. The sisters' real-world concerns and superpowered challenges are blended well. The book doesn't start with a typical YA setting and then turn into a nonstop action blitz. The sisters have to get through their day to day lives while coping with their transformation, after all. The issues with friends, school, and parents don't overwhelm the sci-fi conspiracy angle. Instead, they often heighten the urgency of finding a solution to the girls' dilemma.

3. They are all teenagers, but they are all fully realized characters. None of the Parker sisters are perfect, but they're not stereotypes of rebellious, tempestuous, or sulky adolescents. I worked with teenagers in some of my previous jobs, and they're a lot of fun, I really enjoy seeing them represented well.

4. Ana! The youngest Parker sister, hacker, numbers whiz, entrepreneur, super-genius! I loved her. I especially loved her reaction, after she knocks out one of the mercenaries hired to kidnap her, to how much money he has in his wallet. The way her mind works is hilarious. She's so matter of fact in her analysis. She's definitely my favorite Parker sister, and I'll read the next book just for more of her antics.

Did the book have weaknesses? Sure, just like any book. I sometimes felt like the detailed descriptions of people, outfits, and locations slowed down the action. I think Legend was doing it for a reason though: not leaving space for the reader to fill in inaccurate assumptions. He's presenting three strong female, African-American protagonists who come from an affluent family, attend a prestigious school, and have a diverse group of friends. This strongly goes against what the media often gives us, so it's important to make sure the reader has no doubts about what's going on here.

My overall take? It's a solid, fun young adult novel with superpowers, and I'll definitely be reading the next book. And I'm now waiting for my son to get old enough to read it!

So how can YOU help? That's the important part!

You can add Sins of the Father to your GoodReads "to read" list, like Thelonious Legend's author community on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

You can also buy the book! It's available in about every format you could want. You can order it from Amazon, but heads up that the Sins of the Father Kindle edition and the paperback of Sins of the Father are listed separately. Smashwords has an ebook for the non-Kindle among us, or Barnes & Noble has the Sins of the Father paperpack and a Nook version.

Thanks to Diverse Book Tours for organizing this tour, and to author Thelonious Legend for sending over the e-copy so I could review it for this post.

find out more about Diverse Book Tours

My 2015 Happiness Project: Month The First

In 2009, Gretchen Rubin published The Happiness Project, detailing her year-long experiments in being happier. I didn't hear of it until November 2013, when my friend Shannon wrote about it at her blog Salt Lick Lessons. And then it took me more than a year to actually read the book...

...because, honestly? I believe deep down that my pursuing happiness would be selfish.
Doing more for others? Sure, that's fine. Doing more to change the world? Absolutely! Putting energy into a big project just to make myself happier? WHAT?! If I want to be happier, clearly I should just work harder, use that energy to help other people, and have a more grateful attitude.

Right?

But it's hard to do that when you're worn out and borderline miserable. Which, due to various events in the last few years, seems like my permanent state of being. I need to change all that. What I'm doing isn't working. For me, or anyone around me. (You can ask them!) I want to get back to the gal who volunteers, supports her friends, and keeps her promises.

So I'm starting my own year-long happiness project. Rubin had a small handful of items she focused on each month. I've decided I can manage just one. And I can't wrap my head around planning all twelve months of it right now, but I've got January and February figured out.

January is for Routines. We're re-establishing household routines that collapsed in the fall, and making them work better so they won't break so easily under pressure. We're making some things into routines that were basically handled as afterthoughts to our schedule before. (Like housecleaning and cooking. Yeah, I know, that's bad.) I'm using HabitRPG to track and nurture my positive behaviors. And I'm hoping my anarchist-spirited husband doesn't feel completely suffocated by this at the end of the month.

February is going to be for Decluttering. There is so much STUFF in our house and garage. As I told Boy Detective, me trying to run my life with this much clutter is like him trying to do multiplication while someone's running the blender. He hates the blender. (But he loves smoothies, so it's a hard life.)

If I do those two, I'll be in a better state to figure out what the next 10 months should be about. That's the theory, anyway.

Wish me luck!

9 Totally FUN Comics You Should Read!

Some comics I read for sheer entertainment. Ridiculous over-the-top plots? Absolutely! Antics, hijinks, wisecracks, and impossible events? Yep! And sometimes that's just what I'm craving. So here they are!

(If you need to get caught up, here are all of my comics recommendation posts: all-ages comics for both kids and adults, or for grownup comics, these posts: zombie comics, comics about magic, post-apocalyptic comics, comics about race and social justice, monster comics, comics about conspiracies, history and mythology comics, science fiction comics, crime comics, GLBTQ comics, comics about growing up, war comics, and spy comics. This post uses Amazon affiliate links - but check your local library too!)

Mystery Society, co-created by Ashley Wood and Steve Niles, written by Steve Niles with art by Fiona Staples. Letters by Robbie Robbins, Chris Mowry, and Shawn Lee.

Nick and Anastasia Mystery are a glamorous celebrity adventurer couple who investigate paranormal secrets. Nick is currently in jail. Doesn't seem to bother him much. You see, Nick was caught sneaking into Area 51 to investigate a secret military project. Which he found. Which really pissed off the folks running it. It was tough to stay two steps ahead even with this kind of help.

With Nick in the clink, it's up to Anastasia, the girls (Sally and Nina), an undead crimefighter, and a robot with Jules Verne's brain to get him out and save the day. And find Edgar Allen Poe's stolen skull. Because that's the kind of thing they do.

Continue reading 9 Totally FUN Comics You Should Read!.
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THANK YOU!

Thanks to Chris Giarrusso for the title "Planet Jinxatron." Buy his books!

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