Friday, August 26, 2016

Review: The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer by Sydney Padua

Did you know the basis of the first computer program was invented back in 1842? When I think of the beginnings of the computer, the newish scene in Spaceship Earth featuring a lady in 70s go-go boots surrounded by enormous beeping white machines comes to mind. So when I happened upon this book in a library exploration trip I was very intrigued to find out more about the very beginning of the computer, which apparently happened way earlier than I thought it did. The beginnings of the computer involved the collaboration of Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage working on an invention called the Difference Engine. Sadly, Countess Lovelace died young and the Difference Engine was never actually built.

But in the grand way that fiction allows us, this book explores the idea of “what if”. What if Lovelace and Babbage had actually completed the Difference Engine, and then used its marvelous computing abilities to go on strange adventures? This book not only gives an accurate historical biography of Lovelace and Babbage and their collaboration, but also features a section where in an alternate universe the duo complete their engine and use it’s awesome power to have all sorts of adventures and mishaps (mostly mishaps).

Those who are particularly interested in the history behind Ada Lovelace, Charles Babbage, and the Difference Engine will be delighted by the sheer amount of research that must have gone into this book. There are extensive footnotes explaining and expounding on the historical events and people featured, as well as a very large appendix containing a vast amount of primary resources. But it’s not just about the history. The adventurous side of the book is quite fun too, and has a very steampunk-esque feel to it. This is where the author’s characterization of Lovelace and Babbage really has the chance to shine, such as when both receive Queen Victoria for a demonstration of the Difference Engine.

I have to say I quite enjoyed the art style of this one. It has a very whimsical feel to it, especially in the “adventures” section of the book, but it is also right at home in the very historical part one as well. The expressions and emotions I thought were particularly well done. Overall, this is a great recommendation for both the historical and alternate reality sections, which lends itself to the graphic novel format quite well. This one is definitely recommended.

Shady Glade Rating: 4 leaves

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Pokemon Indigo League Read Them All Thon

Here's the new challenge I hinted at last week.  I've joined the Pokemon Indigo League Read Them All Thon hosted by Read at Midnight.  The challenge started on August 14th and runs through September 4th, so I'm coming a little late to the party, but better late than never, right?

This challenge is inspired by the recent popularity of a game I'm sure you've heard of called Pokemon Go.  But also, it's inspired by the Indigo League that Ash had to work through in the beginning of the Pokemon cartoon.  Which is what I rushed home to watch after school when I was younger, so it is near and dear to my heart.  :)

For those not familiar with the situation, Ash had to battle 8 different elemental Pokemon gyms, earning a badge from each one, to try and help on his quest to be a Pokemon Master.  So for this challenge instead of battling Pokemon, we'll be reading books.  

Here's what my list looks like so far, with badge descriptions borrowed from the challenge organizer (in italics):

Pewter Gym: The First Book In A Series 
This Rock-type gym is the first gym Ash and the Pokemon player ever encounters. Finish this challenge to win a Boulder Badge. 

I will be reading The Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz, first in the Descendants series.

Cerulean Gym: A Book That Might Make You Cry 
This Water-type gym has a badge that looks like a droplet of your tear, so read a book that will rip your heart out. Finish this challenge to win a Cascade Badge

I'll admit, I struggled with this one. Books don't make me cry as much as movies do for some reason (I even cried at the end of Batman V. Superman. I am SUCH a sap!). So I turned to the trusty Goodreads looking for a book that was on my TBR that had notes it made someone cry and ended up with Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Vermillion Gym: A Book With Thunderous Hype 
Vermillion City is the home to Lt. Surge and his many Electric-type Pokemon. For this challenge, read a book that’s been hyped all over bestseller’s list and the internet. Finish this challenge to win a Thunder Badge

So I'm ashamed to admit I have not actually read the Percy Jackson books yet. So I figured this was as good a time as any to rectify that. I will be starting with The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (bonus: double qualification of "thunderous"!)

Celadon Gym: A Book That Focuses on Diversity 
Celadon Gym is one of my favourites, because of it’s colourful Grass-type aesthetics. Read a diverse book and you will earn yourself a Rainbow Badge

For this one I will be reading Drama by Raina Telgemeier. I've been looking for an excuse to pick up this book for ages.

Fuschia Gym: A Book With A Great Romance 
I’ve always been confused by the fact that a Poison-type gym has a heart-shaped badge. Can someone explain please. Read a book that features romance prominently and earn a Soul Badge

I don't normally read a lot of romance, but I've found myself reading more lately. I just borrowed a Kindle book from Lendle that fits this category, so I will be reading Bride of Pretense by Amanda Tru and Cami Wesley

Saffron Gym: A Book With Fantasy/Supenatural Elements 
Saffron City is where all the Psychic-types hang out, so for this challenge, read a bool with fantasy, magical realism, or paranormal elements. Finish this challenge to win a Marsh Badge

I've just recently started the Spirit Animals series, so for this one I will do the second book in the series, Hunted by Maggie Stiefvater

Cinnabar Gym: A Book With A Red Cover 
Cinnabar Island is famous for red earth and Fire-type Pokemon. For this challenge, read a book with a red cover. Complete this challenge to win a Volcano Badge

This one could have also qualified for the Thunderous Hype challenge, but I just picked up Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier, which features a very red cover.

Viridian Gym: A Book With Post-Apocalyptic Setting 
The final gym is home to a Team Rocket Leader (OK, if it’s been out 10+ years you can’t cry spoilers) and Ground-type Pokemon. For this challenge, read a book featuring a ruined, post-apocalyptic Earth. Finish this to win yourself an Earth Badge

I don't read a lot of dystopian, so I struggled with this one. But I think I will be going with Uglies by Scott Westerfeld.

So that's my plan so far. I suppose it's possible this list might change as I go along, but that's my plan so far.  Who knows if I will make it to the end, but I'm going to try!

In addition to earning badges, you have the option of doing the extra fun of evolving a pokemon.  You earn CP points to evolve your pokemon by finishing books.  I'm starting with Eevee, because it's been my favorite Pokemon forever.  So cute!

Not really a smart choice from a point perspective, but I figure my chances of being in the top points wise are pretty limited, so I'm just doing it for fun.

If you'd like to join the challenge yourself, make sure you check out Read At Midnight's post for all the details.  Happy reading!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Summer Book Trek wrap up

Well, this post is overdue since the Summer Book Trek ended on July 31st, but I figured it deserved a bit of a wrap up anyway.  Mostly because I am planning my next reading challenge already.  :)

I did pretty good for the Trek, finishing a total of 10 books.  I also won 3 books.  Yay!  The books I finished were:

Super Daisy! by Jennifer Griffith
The Duke's Undoing by G.G. Vandagriff
Samara: A Kilenya Romance by Andrea Pearson
Midian, A Kilenya Romance by Andrea Pearson
Dmitri: A Kilenya Adventureby Andrea Pearson
Rise of the Wolf by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Spirit Animals : Tales of the Great Beasts by Brandon Mull
Wild Born by Brandon Mull
And Something Blue by Paige Timothy
The Witching Moon by Janelle Daniels

You can see my sign up post to see how this finished list differed here.

Mom did pretty good too, finishing (I think) 3 books, which was good considering she started as late as she did.  Although she didn't end up finishing either of the books she planned on at first.  She also won 2 books!

So now it's onto the next thing.  Look for a post about my new challenge coming up in the next couple days.  And hopefully some reviews too, when I can get a chance to finish writing them!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Summer Book Trek 2016: Mom's list

Well, Mom decided to join me on the Summer Book Trek hosted by New LDS Fiction this month.  It's never too late to join, so if you'd like to join us and win some great prizes (I've already won 2 books!) you can head over to the host site and check out all the rules.

Since July is a little half over, Mom is starting with a small list and will add to it or change it later as the month goes on.

Marie F's list:
The Widowers Wife by Prudence Bice
Meet Your Match by Stephanie Fowers

Friday, July 01, 2016

Summer Book Trek 2016

Well, here I am again after a long break.  My reading has kind of suffered lately, although I have been reading, just not as much as I have in the past.  Mostly this has been because cross stitch has taken over as the preferred hobby in my life (which you can follow my adventures in that field on my other blog if you're interested.)  On top of that, some ongoing health issues and a crazy few months at work and I just lately haven't been reading as much.  Which is something my Goodreads Reading Challenge button delightfully informs me of every time I log in, that I'm 8 books behind schedule so far this year.

Anyway, that brings me to the reason for this post, the Summer Book Trek.  I found this on a Facebook page I follow that features new releases by LDS authors (writers who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).  Being LDS myself, I love me some LDS writers, and I thought what better way to jump start my reading than with a challenge?  It runs the whole month of July and you earn points for reading and reviewing books written by LDS writers.

The idea is to start by setting up a goal of what books you'll read throughout the challenge.  I'm really horrible at lists like that, because I almost always end up changing them later.  But, I do know there are a few books that I definitely will be getting to in this challenge.

First of, I know I will be reading Across the Ages by RaShelle Workman, The Duke's Undoing by GG Vandagriff, and Super Daisy by Jennifer Griffith.  Why do I know I'll get to those three specifically?  Well, they're all Kindle loans I accepted this week knowing this challenge was coming up, so I have a limited amount of time to read them before they are returned to the owner.

Beyond that, I would like to get to a few books I've had on my to read list for awhile that are by some of my favorite LDS authors.  And since Middle Grade and YA books are kind of my thing, there's a lot of those on the possibility list.  Right now I'm considering the two Spirit Animals books by Brandon Mull, the new Princess in Black books by Shannon Hale, Wings by Aprilynne Pike, Paranormalcy by Kiersten White, Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George, Rise of the Wolf by Jennifer Neilson, or The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry.

Of course, I also like sweet clean romances, which fit this challenge to a T, and I have tons of them I've bought for free or close to free for my Kindle that qualify for this challenge.  So I may eventually mix it up a bit.  But right now, I'm excited to get started and see how far I can get!

You can check out my Goodreads shelf I created for this challenge to see what all my options are.  And yeah, there's no way I'm going to read every one of these during July.  There's over 100 options after all.  Guess I'll have plenty of backups for the challenge next year!

If you'd like to join up for yourself, check out the Summer Book Trek page at this link:

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Winners I Haven't Read

Being the second day in the month, that means it's time for another question from Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.

Today's question is: Top Ten Books I Can't Believe I Haven't/Want To Read From X Genre

Well, seeing as my "to be read" pile is thousands of books long, and I will probably never ever finish them all before I die, I wasn't sure how I wanted to spin this one at first.  But then I remembered the ALA awards for children's an YA lit came out this week (the Printz, Morris, Newbery, Caldecott, etc.).  So in honor of that, I decided to look up past winners/honorable mentions from the past few years and list the top ten books I can't believe I haven't read yet from those awards.  These are books that I have intended to read before knowing they won awards, not because they were winners. 

So here they are in no particular order:

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale (Newbery Honor, 2006) - With as much as I absolutely love Shannon Hale, I have no idea why I haven't picked this one up yet.  I know pretty much I would love it, and I even own Book 2 as well, but I have never read either of them yet.

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly (Printz Honor, 2004) - I've read one other book by Jennifer Donnelly and didn't really like it at all, which is why it's slightly surprising that the premise of this one has always appealed to me so much.

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (Morris Finalist, 2010) - Lots of hype about these books.  Still have never picked them up, even though they do sound interesting to me.

A Curse Dark As Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce (Morris Winner, 2009) - This one is a fairy tale retelling I've had on my to-read list for ages.  I blame my ever expanding bookshelves for hiding it away from me in the back as the reason I've never read it.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (Morris Finalist, 2012) - This book interested me from the very moment that I heard about it.  I think I haven't picked it up yet because I haven't gotten my hands on the third one yet, and I have this weird thing about not starting a series until I have several of the books in case there are cliffhangers.

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson (Newbery Honor, 2007) - I've gone back and forth on this book for many years now.  I keep checking it out from the library and never actually getting around to reading it before I have to return it.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (Morris Winner, 2013) - Another book I've wanted to read since before it came out and I read what it was about.  Usually the books I like never get shortlisted for awards, so I was surprised that it won both this and the Cybils award in 2013 for its category. 

Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross (Morris Finalist, 2014) - One of the only books from this year's awards that I feel a need to read right away. 

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (Newbery Winner, 2009) - This is the one book I'm a bit torn about on this list, because I have actually read a bit of it for when I was on the Fantasy/Sc-Fi committee for the Cybils in 2009.  I actually didn't like it that much, but it's gotten so much hype I figured maybe I need to give it a second chance.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore (Morris Finalist, 2009) - This one I'm not entirely sure if it belongs on this list either.  Mostly because I have read about 1/3 of it right before Christmas, and I LOVED it, I just haven't had the time to finish it yet (and I have temporarily lost my copy...).  But since I haven't read it in its entirety yet, I figured it deserved a place on the list. 

With the list being done, I think there is one interesting trend that popped up while I was going through these books.  I really haven't read most of the winners, and I'm not planning on reading a lot of them.  That's because I find that most of the time the bestseller, popular, and "literary" books that win awards don't really appeal to me.  Some exceptions come to mind (I found Harry Potter worth the hype, for instance) but these are the titles that really stood out to me because I was interested in many of these books before knowing they were on the lists. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Beastkeeper

So in my renewed determination to keep up with my blogging, I am back today with a Waiting on Wednesday post.  Yay!

Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen
About the Book (copy from "Sarah has always been on the move. Her mother hates the cold, so every few months her parents pack their bags and drag her off after the sun. She’s grown up lonely and longing for magic. She doesn’t know that it’s magic her parents are running from.
When Sarah's mother walks out on their family, all the strange old magic they have tried to hide from comes rising into their mundane world. Her father begins to change into something wild and beastly, but before his transformation is complete, he takes Sarah to her grandparents—people she has never met, didn’t even know were still alive.
Deep in the forest, in a crumbling ruin of a castle, Sarah begins to untangle the layers of curses affecting her family bloodlines, until she discovers that the curse has carried over to her, too. The day she falls in love for the first time, Sarah will transform into a beast...unless she can figure out a way to break the curse forever."
So unless you couldn't tell from the description, I'm pretty sure this is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast.  And you know I love fairy tale retellings.  But I like the way this one has scrambled it around a bit with the girl turning into the beast.  Sounds like it will be good.  :)

You don't have to wait too long to read Beastkeeper, since it will be released on February 3, 2015.

Currently available for pre-order at in Hardcover and Kindle
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