Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Pip Bartlett's Guide to Unicorn Training, by Jackson Pearce and Maggie Stiefvater

I enjoyed this second installment of the Pip Bartlett books.  I enjoyed seeing old characters and new ones—of both the human and magical-animal varieties.  The style was still fun and breezy.  The guidebook entries were still delightful and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny.

I LOVED Regent Maximus' interaction with the baby unicorns.  I loved Tomas' new favorite animals. 

Here are more things I love in a middle grade novel (or any novel) and which this book delivers on.  The story has conflict and tension not dependent on serious violence.  Characters solve problems by thinking and working, not through violence.  And…[SEMI SPOILER] the bad guy isn't really such a bad guy.

Overall, a very fun book.

More accurate rating:  4.5.  It wasn't quite as charming as the first, but still highly enjoyable

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

My Story, "Vodník," published in Uncharted Magazine

This story takes place in the Czech Republic.  When I lived there, the stories and imagery of the Vodník (often translated as "water goblin") fascinated me.  So here's my own take on the famous creature:

Vodník, by Melinda Brasher


A vodník statue in České Třebová.  Image courtesy of ŠJů, Wikimedia Commons, creative commons license 3.0.  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Park_Javorka,_vodn%C3%ADk_%2801%29.jpg

All over the Czech republic you can find vodník statues around ponds and mills.  The creature is also popular in folk art, like that of Josef Lada (google "vodnik lada").

Mine's a darker take on the sometime-playful water goblin.  For a really dark take, read about the poem by Karel Jaromír Erben:  http://from-my-pov.blogspot.com/2012/02/water-goblin.html

Dvořák also wrote music to accompany the tale.  You can find it on Youtube ("Dvorak Water Goblin")  

Monday, May 22, 2023

The Grand Canyon from Yaki Point

So beautiful!  And even more thrilling when you can see the trail you're going to be following the next morning at dawn.  

Photo taken May 7th:

Thursday, May 18, 2023

30 Animals that Made us Smarter, by Patrick Aryee


 The subject matter here is fascinating.  Before reading this book, I could only have named you maybe four examples of biomimicry—despite being interested in the subject.  So this book took me by surprise.

I found the writing a touch on the dry side when it was talking about the actual science of it.  I think most of that, however, was because of me.  When the author got down to the nitty gritty, I often couldn't quite visualize what he was writing about because I don't have enough science background or mechanical inclination/interest.  So…Mr. Aryee, it's me, not you.  I just wish there had been more photos/illustrations.

I'm in awe of the research involved in this book and in even more in awe of nature and our attempts to understand and copy it.

It's an interesting book, especially if you read it slowly—no more than a couple of chapters at a time.