Category Archives: Books

Review: The Mysterious Howling

Found running wild in the forest of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children: Alexander, age ten or thereabouts, keeps his siblings in line with gentle nips; Cassiopeia, perhaps four or five, has a bark that is (usually) worse than her bite; and Beowulf, age somewhere-in-the-middle, is alarmingly adept at chasing squirrels.

Luckily, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess. Only fifteen years old and a recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, Penelope embraces the challenge of her new position. Though she is eager to instruct the children in Latin verbs and the proper use of globes, first she must help them overcome their canine tendencies.

But mysteries abound at Ashton Place: Who are these three wild creatures, and how did they come to live in the vast forests of the estate? Why does Old Timothy, the coachman, lurk around every corner? Will Penelope be able to teach the Incorrigibles table manners and socially useful phrases in time for Lady Constance’s holiday ball? And what on earth is a schottische?

Ah! This book! What a breath of fresh air! I got this little gem on Audible, and listened to it all in one day, and finished the series before the end of the week. This book is my personality in text, and I cannot express my enjoyment for it enough. I truly wish I could’ve found it sooner (but not too much, because I still have to wait seven months for the next installment 0.0).

This clever little series follows a young governess and her students on wild adventures, and both teacher and students grow. We see the Incorrigibles start taking to their new lifestyle, along side their witty young Penelope. Through the catchphrases and mishaps, we learn important life lessons, right along side the characters. These books have a wonderful Lemony Snicket style flair to them, and bring such a warm fuzzy feeling to this tea loving heart. I truly cannot recommend them enough.

I give the Incorrigibles 5 out of 5 stars.

Maddie

Peter and the Starcatchers – Favorites Part 2

Last summer I wrote a long, rambling review of Howl’s Moving Castle, which may be my all time favorite book. It inspired me to start a little series – reviews of some of lifelong favorite books. Here is part two!

Don’teven think of starting this bookunless you’re sitting in a comfortable chair and have lots of time. Afast-paced, impossible-to-put-down adventure awaits as the young orphan Peterand his mates are dispatched to an island ruled by the evil King Zarboff. Theyset sail aboard the NeverLand, a ship carrying a precious and mysterious trunk inits cargo hold, and the journey quickly becomes fraught with excitement anddanger.

Discover richly developed characters in the sweet but sophisticated Molly, the scary butfamiliar Black Stache, and the fearless Peter. Treacherous battles withpirates, foreboding thunderstorms at sea, and evocative writing immerses thereader in a story that slowly and finally reveals the secrets and mysteries ofthe beloved Peter Pan.

As you long time readers will remember – I LOVE Peter Pan. The idea of never growing old, and having constant adventures; mermaids, fairies, everything I love tied onto one little island. It makes me ridiculously happy. And, that love for Peter Pan all came from Peter and the Starcatchers (or, I should say, it amplified it).

Although I had already adored J.M.Barrie’s original, and the Disney film, my full on obsession with Pan started the day I first read this series. I think it may have been the way it tied the classic story into real life – particularly in Bride to Neverland (which, to many, is the least popular of the series, but is actually my favorite).

This series, though aimed at middle schoolers, is filled with witty, fast paced story telling and dialogue. It allows the reader to feel a part of the story, right along with Peter, as he discovers his past. Peter is a lonely, scared boy, through most of his story. We are given a new, more relatable, side to the spunky kid we always hear about in Peter Pan adaptions. We get to know, and love, the boy behind the story.

I would highly recommend Peter and the Starcatchers to anyone who loves adventures, or just a dang good story. This is one of the few series that I can read, and then immediately reread, without getting tired of it. It truly appeals to all ages, and I hope you guys check it out!

 

Peace out,

Mads

Review: Fun Science

Welcome, fellow humans (and others), to the the world of FUN SCIENCE! I’m Charlie, also known across the internet as charlieissocoollike.

In my book, I’ll be taking you on an awesome journey through the cosmos, beginning with the Big Bang through to the Solar System and the origins of life on Earth, all the way down to the particles that make up everything around us (including you and me!).

Expect frequent digressions, tons of illustrations of not-so-sciencey things (NB a microwave flying through space), and pages packed with my all time favourite mind-bending science facts.

So, get ready for a faster-than-the-speed of-light (OK, not quite) tour of all of the best and most interesting things that science has to offer us… and most importantly: WELCOME TO THE UNIVERSE!

(Written by a Science Fan NOT at scientist!)

Charlie McDonnell – aka charlieissocoollike – has been a long time favorite of mine. He produces such intriguing, positive, and educational content. Unlike many YouTubers, his channel is rooted on ideas that are purely positive – not founded on vulgarity, angst, etc. Not that there is anything wrong with those who do, I just feel that those without it are exponentially admirable. I feel like Charlie’s contribution to the internet, and the world, is overall positive, and that is wonderful.

Consequently, I was very excited to hear Charlie was writing a book – even though science is NOT my thing (or I didn’t think it was!). I knew it would be funny and enlightening, and I was not disappointed. Fun Science is full of witty, educational content, that forced me to learn about the world – because it was ridiculously interesting! Truly, I learned quite a lot from Charlie’s work, and was inspired to persevere further research on certain topics. He did a wonderful job of taking away the intimidation that science holds, and made it much more approachable for the average reader.

Overall, I was very pleased with this novel. There were a few sentences here or there (specifically in the anatomy sections) that were a bit PG-13, due to the general nature. So, I would say this is definitely for teens and up.

I give Fun Science 4.5 out of 5 stars!

Peace,

Maddie

Working at a Writing Center

So, as some of you guys know, I started working at my local community college’s writing center in April of 2016. This was a huge step for me, in many ways, and I would love to give you a taste of what it’s like.

To begin, here’s a little summary of my specific WC’s mission statement:

“The mission of the ******** College Writing Center (BC WC) is to create and facilitate a culture of literacy at ******** College. We believe that literacy education is a life-long process. Life is lumpy. While we might have one plan today, we don’t know what skills we will need in the future. All fields require literacy skills, and reading and writing are components of science, nursing, and workforce programs as well. Effective communication is a skill that employers always need, and the ******** College Writing Center is committed to supporting the reading and writing of our academic and larger community. “

We tutor students directly, teaching them how to tutor THEMSELVES, versus helping them edit specific papers. It’s a really fascinating concept – we work for better writers, NOT better papers. We also work directly with professors and staff to better work with students on the specific classes.

Through my work here, I have gained several things:

  1. I have gained MUCH more confidence in social settings. My job has forced me to be more open to strangers, and it has been a wonderful process of coming out of my shell.
  2. I have become a better writer. Through my work helping others with their writing, I truly have evolved immensely in my writing – and I have much more confidence in my academics in general. In fact, *I* visit the writing center on my bigger papers, as I’ve really learned how helpful a second pair of eyes can be.
  3. I have gained an immense appreciation for writing, and academics. It’s been very eye opening, working with students who do not have this come naturally, and has pushed me to work harder, and further appreciate the natural gifts I have given.
  4. I have gotten to work with some INCREDIBLE people. Most specifically – my boss. Her work to improve literacy is so inspiring, and really has pushed me to investigate the area myself.

If you guys have access to a writing center – VISIT IT. Better yet – apply if you can! As a student, I never visited the WC until after I started working there. I thought it was only for students who were struggling… boy was I wrong! It is a wonderful resource, and I cannot recommend it highly enough!

Peace,

Maddie

Texi’s Tunes

As many of you remember, I am a big lover of cats – specifically my furry friend, Texi. About a year ago, I was so inspired by my beloved pet, that I serenaded her with some iconic ‘comedic singing.’ This further inspired a whole musical movement, which has been taking place on instagram under ‘Texi’s Tunes.’

So, if you ever want a bit of comedic, and semi-serious, musical flavor in your life, go check it out!

L8r T8rs,

Maddie

 

Let’s *paws* for a moment of silence…

Anyone who has followed my blog is familiar with “this one podcast” I listen tom called “Geek Friday,” then it switched to “IRL Talk.” This podcast was truly one of the most formative influences in my childhood. It really helped me embrace my geekiness, back before ‘geek chic’ was cool. As a plus, the two hosts (Faith and Jason) were phenomenal in communicating with me, even though I was MUCH younger than their target audience, not nearly as educated, etc. They would always email me back, and would frequently include my feedback in the show. These two made me feel like I was a part of something.

That’s why the news from the beginning of the month truly broke my heart. Jason had passed away. In the moment I found out, my first instinct was ‘it must’ve be a joke! Afterall, it’s April Fools day, and this is JASON we’re talking about!’ But, unfortunately it was reality. I was, and am, heartbroken, and overcome with tears. Even now, weeks after, I’m so sad, and no one seems to understand why. Afterall, I’d never met the guy. But, regardless, he was such an incredible influence for me, and such a positive light in the world, and I am truly devastated.

I hope that his family knows how many people were positively influenced by Jason, and how many people will fondly remember him. I can only imagine how heartbreaking it was for is family and friends, and those actually close to him, as it truly was so heartbreaking to me. I just wanted to write a little memorial post, in hopes that those who were close to him would know just what an impact he had on his internet followers.

That’s all I’ve got,

Maddie

Susan Dennard: Idol Turned… Fridol (Friend/Idol) a Series

As many of you long time readers know, I love Daniel Sheridan, and his creator,  Susan Dennard. There have been many authors that I’ve made connections with during my time of blogging, but few have been as influential as Susan. She was the first author to ever respond to my fan mail, and the first/only I would truly consider a friend. She has been such a wonderful influence for me during my time as a book reviewer, and a writer, so I wanted to write a little story of our progression, to celebrate out ‘four year friendiversary ‘(kind of, I’ll explain).

– August 10th, 2012: I bought Something Strange and Deadly for my birthday. I read it all that day in the car, and totally fell in love.
– August 18th, 2012: Susan and I start corresponding through tweets and emails! All of my dreams had come true.
– September 8th, 2012: I start working with Susan’s agent, to try and bring her for an author visit in my local town.
– May 10th, 2013 (FOUR YEARS AGO NEXT MONTH): Susan came and visited my local town, a LITERAL dream come true for me.

In between, and after, all of this, I blogged about her A RIDICULOUS AMOUNT. I am very surprised I was never turned in as a stalker, honestly. On the contrary, Susan was ridiculously courteous, and very kind to me. She wrote interviews, and filmed videos for my blog; she put me in the acknowledgements of her books, and even OFFICALLY made Daniel my book boyfriend. Susan went so far as to even Skype and chat with me about my publishing aspirations.

Unfortunately, as the years have pasted and Susan has become super mega famous (NYT BESTSELLERRRRRRR #proud), our correspondence has definitely slowed. I was able to see her last year, which was awesome! But contact is few and far between, as she has a lot to take care of, and a CRAZY number of fans now!

However, it still stands: Susan has been a ridiculously kind, and WONDERFUL influence to me over the years, and I will be forever grateful for the time and compassion she had for my dweeby, fangirl self. 🙂 I cannot recommend her work enough – happy friendiversary, Susan!

Aim for the Knees,

Maddie

 

 

(Some of my posts on Susan: 2012 Faves, 2013 Faves, DSL, SEA, and like EVERY PPL post I ever did.)

Welcome Back!

Hiya guys!

Guess who’s back after another long hiatus? That’d be me! I have been mega busy, finishing up high school, working, ballet, the whole shebang. ALSO, I got locked out of the blog because of some tech issues, so it was a very long vacay. I’m sorry guys! However, I have a great line up of posts for you guys planned! I hope (at least some) you all stuck around this long, my loyal fans, and things are about to pick up again!

Maddie

The Wander Society

25853014verb  \ˈwän-dər\
to walk/explore/amble in an unplanned or aimless way with a complete openness to the unknown

Several years ago when Keri Smith, bestselling author of Wreck This Journal, discovered cryptic handwritten notations in a worn copy of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, her interest was piqued. Little did she know at the time that those simple markings would become the basis of a years-long, life-changing exploration into a mysterious group known only as The Wander Society, as well as the subject of this book.

Within these pages, you’ll find the results of Smith’s research: A guide to the Wander Society, a secretive group that holds up the act of wandering, or unplanned exploring, as a way of life. You’ll learn about the group’s mysterious origins, meet fellow wanderers through time, discover how wandering feeds the creative mind, and learn how to best practice the art of wandering, should you choose to accept the mission.

Many of you will have heard of the Wreck This Journal series (something I have recently gotten into, and will cover in a following post). WTJ is a concept that has gotten many people who consider themselves to be artisticially stunted (aka ME) to try something creative, even if it is 100% outside of their comfort zone. AND so, when Keri Smith has a book coming out about those who have a embedded stream of wanderlust in their system (me), feel constantly restless (me), and muffled by the electronically obsessed society they are a pat of (mostly me – but I do love myself some wifi), I knew I needed to check it out.

Did any of you ever read the Unauthorized Autobiography by Lemony Snicket? That was one of my favorite books when I was growing up, and The Wander Society reminded me  a lot of it. However, there was a very distressing aspect to it. I went into the book all ‘la la la, this is a fiction book made to make you think. There’s nothing true about it, I’m just along for the ride.’ But, it slowly started convincing me that it was, in fact, nonfiction. So, the entire time I was reading this, I was in battle with myself, trying to figure out if it was true or not (still not sure TBH).

Anyways. This is a very intriguing read. I’m not sure how I felt about the actual content, but the concept was interesting, and the text did activate my wanderlust side. A good read for anyone who likes a quirky/unique writing style, that gets your mind working.

PEACE,

Maddie