Tag Archives: Books

Ultimate Dinopedia By National Geographic Kids + The Hagwood Trilogy ๐Ÿฆ•๐Ÿ“š

Recently, I’ve been reading much more. And I did mean to blog more about my renewed reading habits, but there just hasn’t been any time. I’ll try to remedy that a little with this post. While I’ve been reading all sorts of things (including a LOT of manga) on this post I’m going to concentrate on two things: the book I am reading right now, and the series I just finished.

๐Ÿฆ– Ultimate Dinopedia By National Geographic Kids ๐Ÿฆ–

I’ve started reading this beautiful National Geographic Kids “Ultimate Dinopedia” and it is AMAZING:

When I picked it up some months ago, I was impressed at a quick glance –especially by the illustrations. But I did not expect it would be so informative or so respectful of its audience. If you are a dinosaur fan who actually knows little about dinosaurs, you will love this book, even if its intended audience is children.

Scientific books for kids do not usually (in my experience) give so much “we suppose”, or “it is believed” or “we imagine, but can’t actually know”. At least growing up, I saw much more “this is how it was” and now why or how we “knew” it was so. This book, however, tells you of specific paleontologist’s theories, and whether most other paleontologists agree with them or not. Even on the slightest illustrated detail, like a bit of flesh on a dinosaur’s face, it will tell you: “we think it might have had this thing –we have no way to know”. It is a book of suppositions and generally agreed upon ideas about these wonderful creatures.

For all my love of dinosaurs, I do not know much about them. I hope as I read this book I can at least learn to identify basic species as well as the time periods they lived in.

๐Ÿ“š The Hagwood Trilogy ๐Ÿ“š

Over the past few months (starting at the time of the ill-fated New England trip that didn’t happen as planned) I’ve been reading The Hagwood Trilogy. It is comprised of Thorn Ogres of Hagwood, Dark Waters Of Hagwood, and War In Hagwood. It is written by Robin Jarvis. Without a doubt, it has been an unforgettable journey, the sort of dark fantasy series that will stick with me for a while, and I do not come across often.

The protagonist is a little werling boy called Gamaliel Tumpin. Werlings are a species that can shapeshift (AKA “wergle”) into animals of approximate size of their own or smaller –think hedgehogs, birds, squirrels, mice. They can also wergle into insects or other things, with potentially grave consequences, which definitely plays into the story.

I was familiar with Robin Jarvis’ writing from The Deptford Mice Trilogy. Much like in the Deptford Mice books, the Hagwood series is a pretty gruesome affair involving tiny cuddly critters, none of whom (and I do mean NONE) can you afford to get too emotionally attached to, because Jarvis has zero hesitation about giving major protagonists (including very likable ones) quite grisly ends, often completely out of nowhere. Once you are familiar with his work, you basically hold your breath through any book of his, praying that your favorite character doesn’t die.

Jarvis also has an uncanny knack for generating villains that not only do you love to hate, but you can actually be afraid of. Every time Rhiannon, The Queen Of Faerie, appears in the Hagwood books, you are very glad that you are safely on the other side of the page, and you half wonder if she can still reach you with some of that horrendous dark magic.

WARNING: I’m gonna get extremely spoilery below, so do not proceed unless you’ve read this whole series or don’t care if it’s spoiled for you.

HEAVY SPOILERS BELOW!

A Perfect Saturday! ๐Ÿ’–

What a totally amazing day! We went to the Swap Shop. It brings back a lot of old memories. It was much deader and emptier, but somehow smelled worse than ever. Still, good company will make the dirtiest and most mundane place in the world wonderful, as is always the case. We had a lot of fun. And, I bought three books! I only spent $3.00.

My original goal was to keep Pinocchio in my library, while the other two would be for scrapbooking. However, upon inspection at home, all three books turned out to be so nice and in such lovely condition, that I cannot bear to use them in such a manner. They will all be permanent library additions.

In particular, while flipping through the Little Golden Books Story Land compilation, I came across a blast from my childhood. This was, in fact, the first-ever book in English I ever owned:

As a child, I understood very few words in this story. It’s really odd to see it again and now understand the words. Not all of the illustrations from the story are in this book, but reading it, I see the missing illustrations that are seared into my mind. This book stuck with me, because I could NOT figure out the story from the illustrations alone, and I remembered this frustrated me a lot! ๐Ÿ˜…

Here are a couple of photos of the other books:

We were done with the Swap Shop fairly early, and from there went garage saling. We didn’t buy anything, but it was fun anyway. Then we went to get coffee, did some work around the house, and went out again for lunch. We had Mod Pizza!

Earlier in the day our friend pointed out this lovely little mushroom to me. I am always in wonder at how quickly they pop up and how perfect they are. Nature is so beautiful. Anyway, I had to take a picture!

After our friend left, Christopher, his mom, and I hung out, I finished the daily warm-up, watched Christopher play video games, and generally amorously harassed him as the entire morning left me feeling a little too hyper.

Before having my dinner, I went on another walk. I was doing quite well with my calories (and not feeling overly hungry or tired!) and I didn’t need to, but I wanted to finally have a banana pudding cup. ๐ŸŒ It was worth it and the walk made me feel even better anyways! ๐Ÿ’

During my walk I spotted another cuban snail shell, it was even more frustrating than usual because it was still brown (as in, not sun-bleached) and had snail remnants! Aaagh. ๐Ÿ˜ซ Most of it had been eaten by ants, but looked fresh. Where ARE these guys??

Our friend promised me he’d get me some of those snails from his yard and I hope he doesn’t forget and gets me a LOT. I’ll gladly put out the other tank again for some cuban snailios.

Also during my walk, I was able to create an Einiosaurus!

Just look at this cutie!

Oh yeah… some stuff came in the mail, such as my last Jurassic World dino (Baby Blue) and my pre-order of Kitaria Fables. Also –I paid yet more debt!

Now I’m off to do my chores. I feel rejuvenated for sure. I feel like I’m improving my art speed, making progress with debt, improving my physical shape and health, and I have fun things to look forward to next week. I just feel good. It’s a good Saturday.

Taiyaki + Manga Time! ๐Ÿก๐Ÿ“š

Fish is part of a good diet, right? ๐Ÿค”

I really enjoyed this. Just lay on the couch with a few volumes of a brand new manga, my favorite coffee, and some taiyaki fresh out of the oven:

Also, I guess TokyoPop came back from the dead? Iโ€™m surprised they would dare/try to continue using this brand to publish under, but then again, I did buy this. Lol.

Speaking of –this manga is like, SUPER furry. You guys would love it.

This is just pure gold. By the way, the dude is a wolf bakemono in human form.

CHRIST

Silliness aside, I legitimately recommend it. I’m too busy to go into details about the story, but if you’re into Japanese folklore and animals turning into humans, and the idea of a tsundere fox god and his incredibly cute tanuki cub companion, you’re in for a real treat. ๐Ÿ‘Œ

Motherโ€™s Day Weekend In Sebastian ๐ŸŒˆ ๐Ÿงธ

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. First of all I want to apologize for the inactivity –I am finally home again, and I am feeling better. Just very tired.

Though commissions are still a tad delayed, I was able to finish the warm-ups, and will be posting them shortly. I also got progress underway on three more pieces. I really appreciate everyoneโ€™s patience.

We had a nice time with family. My mom in law has a new fish. It is called a Plecostomus or simply Pleco. Itโ€™s the type of fish that suctions onto the glass with its mouth a lot of the time. Heโ€™s really cute and I love him. Heโ€™s big, too. I got a couple of photos of him just lounging.

One of the kids at my mom in lawโ€™s school made these play-doh snails when she told him I liked snails. Didnโ€™t he do an amazing job? I love them!

I brought my new bear, Beanie, on this trip, and cuddled him to sleep…

In the morning, Beanie and I had breakfast together.

My mom in lawโ€™s fluffy cat Spaz came to me for cuddles. Heโ€™s such a softie!

After breakfast we left for Renningers Flea and Farmers Market. Beanie looked out the window all the way.

At Renningers I bought some books, a handbag, a huge snail magnet and a couple of mousepads –one for me and one for my sis in law. Here’s my haul:

Afterwards we had dinner at Makoto’s and then played cards in the evening. I tried to sneak in drawing whenever I could, so I didn’t play cards all the time, but it was nice spending time with family even when I was working.

Grandma didn’t spend much time with us while we were playing. She fell asleep on the couch. I think she fell asleep praying… it was really cute.

Before bed we played a few rounds of Trivia Murder Party and I won once.

Now I’m going to post some art, finish unpacking and then get more art done. I hope you enjoyed your Mother’s day weekend!

The Weekend’s Treasures โœจ๐Ÿฆ•๐Ÿš‚

Good morning everyone! I’m still doing lots of things… even more laundry, still unpacking, very busy… I did say I would make an additional post to share my new treasures and souvenirs, so here we go! In no particular order…

These are the Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway goodies we snagged. Three battery operated engines! Diesel, Percy and Thomas. Very happy with these finds!

Then, as you can see, we got a few “destinations”. A water tower, a search light, a quarry mine tunnel and a winter fuel station!

The store had a lovely friendly attendant who surprised me with a cute little doodle of Thomas when we went to the register to pay! ๐Ÿฅฐ

Here are some goodies from The Sound Exchange in Tampa Bay. We found a brand new record of the music from Tales From The Crypt (which we are currently binging!) a Laserdisc featuring How The Grinch Stole Christmas and Horton Hears a Who, and another of the Dead Poets Society.

Something else they had at the Sound Exchange was old books and magazines. I decided to take this one, from 1966, partly because it had some pages about dinosaurs.

It’s an interesting little magazine, with lovely illustrations. It was one hundred percent brand new, as it must have looked the day it was made.

Continuing the dinosaur topic, we visited Mojo Books & Records across the street from our hotel. This is actually a place we visited on our second anniversary trip. We loved it then and now! I decided to look for more dinosaur books, because why not. I found a few:

They are all beautiful, but my favorite is the first one (The New Dinosaurs). The biggest book, The Prehistoric World Of The Dinosaur, had a child’s drawing inside:

I almost discarded it, and perhaps eventually I will, but Christopher pointed out that some kid loved dinosaurs and this book so much, that he carefully drew them and placed the drawing inside. Thinking that, it felt wrong to remove it.

And now, let me share the best part, which is my haul(s) from Dinosaur World! One haul wasn’t enough… Christopher took me back on Saturday. He really indulged me all weekend long. ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ’•

First off there are these tiny, tiny books! About the size of my hand. Little stories about dinosaurs.

I got a visor and a tie-dye shirt! ๐ŸŒˆโœจ

I found a wonderful foam dino in the same general vein as Mojito and Fuit Gummy, but a completely different color and pose. I think he will make a great friend for them! I’m calling him Churrasco.

I also got this medal which I will hang from my cork memory board:

And a few more odds and ends; a patch (also for my cork board, at least for now) a pencil case and a rubber bracelet:

They had so many beautiful statues… it was really very hard to pick what to buy. I ended up getting this little guy:

And this beautiful… beautiful, massive gal… The jewel of everything I got this weekend. I adore her. I could go on, but I’ll leave you to look at the photos:

And that’s it! There are a few things that stayed in my mind as “wish I’d gotten that” but I had to stop somewhere. ๐Ÿ˜… One was a foam triceratops that I didn’t buy at the store where we got the Thomas stuff. I looked for it online, and all I could find is that it’s by a brand called Best Choice and is out of stock everywhere. Another was a raptor lamp at the Dinosaur World, and a lenticular print, also from there… but I’m sure if I’d gotten these things, there would be something else I regretted leaving behind. So it’s alright. ๐Ÿ˜

I do wish Christopher had found more things he liked, but he didn’t really. We both had a good time, though.

Anyway that’s all for my trip, I have to go grocery shopping now. Hope your week is off to a great start!

An Outing ๐ŸŒˆ๐Ÿ›’

Yesterday I went shopping for groceries and visited a few stores for fun. I went to the Salvation Army, which was as gross as ever, and to Party City. Oh, and to Goodwill. I did find a few goodies.

At Party City I got a cup and some napkins and paper plates. Unfortunately it’s all the new 3D style. The hand-drawn art of the “generation” prior to this one is hard to find now, all they had left is a pack of thank you cards. ๐Ÿ˜ž

In the mail when I got home was a little packet I’d been expecting, with a couple of signs and the thing I actually cared about, a little Fat Controller of my very own.

At Goodwill I found two books. One was a very interesting books about unicorns and their history in different cultures:

The other one was a Rugrats book about Christmas which is kinda weird since Tommy’s family is Jewish and this is told from Tommy’s POV:

The art was cute though:

At the Salvation Army (did I mention this place was gross? matches their politics I guess) I found a giant checkers set, brand new in its wrapping, for $6.99. I’d been wanting one forever, so I got it.

The little Big Bird keychain was from Party City.

Here’s an after-lunch treat I had while playing Cafรฉ Enchantรฉ. I’m finally on Ignis’ route. The main story took FOREVER!

That’s all for this post!

Early Christmas! ๐ŸŽ„โœจ

Yesterday we celebrated Christmas! My mom and sis in law are visiting. So I got to give them my presents and viceversa. Also to Christopher since he will be spending actual Christmas with them, while my mom will be visiting with me, due to COVID.

I got the thing I wanted most of all, the “Slugs and Snails” book by Robert Cameron. It’s an expensive, niche book from the UK, very scientific type stuff. I think it will take me at least a year to read it thoroughly. Because of the cost, that was a present from everyone. From my mom in law I also got an Uber gift card and Piofiore: Fated Memories, an otome I’m really looking forward to playing. She also gave us presents for all the cats and a Petsmart gift card to get a little something for the snails.

After presents we watched The Shop Around The Corner. It was a very cute little Christmasy movie from the 40’s.

CW: Body image / eating talk under the cut, PLEASE stop here if this topic is upsetting to you.

Continue reading Early Christmas! ๐ŸŽ„โœจ

My Love-Hate Relationship With Kathryn Lasky’s Books ๐Ÿฆ‰๐Ÿด๐Ÿบ๐Ÿป๐Ÿ“š

Recently, I’ve been doing a fair bit of reading. I’ve been trying to kickstart my brain back into reading for the better part of this year (the newspaper subscription did help a lot with that, as did removing so much of my Internet access.)

I’ve looking for some new “fluff” animal books to read –fluff meaning, not exactly great writing, but animals are always entertaining and the covers are so pretty… you know which category I mean, anything directed at the Erin Hunter crowd. I am part of this crowd, even though I could never get into Warriors. I got sucked in with the Seekers series though.

But this post isn’t about the author(s) Erin Hunter, it’s about Kathryn Lasky.

Years ago, I came across the first three books in the Guardians Of Ga’Hoole series right before the movie came out. I was enchanted –by the cover, the characters, the story. When I did see the movie later on, I had the distinct feeling that the movie was an excellent adaptation of a great story, but that as a movie, it was kind of terrible, even though I loved it. I can’t explain it very well other than to say it felt like it would please the book fans but not be a good movie for anyone else.

But there was so much Ga’Hoole universe to explore (I haven’t managed to read the whole series yet) that even when I guessed correctly that there would be no more movies, it didn’t matter.

Sometime after that, Wolves Of The Beyond came out (or I discovered it then.) Was I ever thrilled! More ways to go into this world, this time from the perspective of wolves. The covers were gorgeous, and for once there were inside illustrations, which were so beautiful too!

And then… then I read them.

The characters and setting are compelling. This, in addition to the beauty of the books themselves, is what made the experience of reading them all the more infuriating. It’s been a while, so I don’t remember the specific scenes that bothered me, but I do remember the issue at hand (and the desire to throw the books against the wall multiple times.) And the issue was this:

Ok, as an example. Think of The Lion King. Outside of humorous scenes which I don’t count for these purposes, sometimes, the anthropomorphizing goes a little farther, such as when, after their father-son conversation, Mufasa gives Simba a gentle noogie –a very “human” motion with his paw, but masterfully mingled with very realistic animal-like frolicking in the grass. It’s a little touch that breaks the overall realism of the characters, and there are many like this, but they aren’t so bad that you can’t suspend your disbelief a little further for those few seconds.

But suppose during the scene of “everything the light touches”, Mufasa had stood on two legs and pointed at everything with his paw, before resuming his realistic quadruped demeanor, or if he came out of Pride Rock with an actual crown on his head. You’d be like what the actual f**k, right? The universe set some rules and then broke them. Why?!

In Guardians Of Ga’Hoole, there were many things that the owls could do that necessitated a good suspension of disbelief, but it was handled so well, and at the core, they always felt like animals being animals, just in a more fantastical setting. I could believe it. But in Wolves of The Beyond, the animals act very animal-like, until they don’t. And when the author doesn’t respect the universe they seemingly put into place, this drives me freaking nuts, especially if everything else about a story is wonderful.

I was unable to read past volume two, and was determined to give the books away. I hated them so much, that I momentarily contemplated throwing them in the trash (the horror!) but, in the end, I couldn’t do either. The books were well received by Lasky’s fans. I kept feeling it was on me to get past this and suspend my disbelief further from the start, but it’s hard because when you start to re-read, they act so feral, that you forget they’re going to up and get all anthro on you at times.

So, I haven’t touched them again for a while. And then, just the other week, Amazon threw this at me:

You know me and bears. And then I see that name –my heart sinks. After Wolves of The Beyond, her horse series came out. I was hopeful for it, thinking that maybe Wolves was a fluke. But as I recall, I might have read two pages on the Amazon preview and I don’t remember the reason, but I do remember wanting to punch my screen. So I didn’t buy them.

But bears are a little too much for me to resist, much like squirrels, so I bought the first one and, well… the issue of suddenly weird anthro stuff is still there. This time I was prepared, and I hated it but got past it (so far). I’m almost done with Quest Of The Cubs. I’m hoping I can enjoy the rest of the series, as I already have book two in my library, waiting for me.

It’s really odd to both love and hate parts of a writer’s work to this degree. But it’s entirely possible that this is a “me” issue rather than an issue with Lasky’s writing. After all, I can’t stand the pretentious tone I feel courses through Watership Down, as celebrated as it is, and it’s definitely a good book (or so I keep hearing.) Every few years I try again to see if I like it. But so far I don’t (I haven’t given up.)

I really want to enjoy Lasky’s work. I loved Ga’Hoole so much. So I am trying again. But it’s definitely a love-hate relationship.

Let’s Move On To… Today’s Mail!

Weeeell! Let’s follow that up with something less dramatic and petty, yeh? Forgive me, I do have to let the petty out once in a while. All better now!

Here’s today’s mail. First, a new book, and a new phone case! The phone case is from AliExpress. I’m so glad to finally have a snail case!

There’s one more book I am waiting for: The Alchemist’s Cat by Robin Jarvis, Book 1 of The Deptford Histories. I’m looking forward to returning to that world.

Next, the Warcraft stuff I mentioned before! Ok so the pillow is like… WAY bigger than I thought which is just amazing, because it’ll be a perfect iPad support pillow that will allow me to keep my back more straight:

And here is the mat. Oh, it is glorious.

It smells like a new car. A smell I’m not normally crazy about but I like it for some reason in this particular case.

Anyway. Pillow fluffy. Mat pretty. Sale was a good sale. Glad I held out and didn’t buy before, and now I can’t get poked by stray nails on my desk.

Nobody’s Boy (Sans Famille) ๐ŸŽถ๐Ÿถ

Recently I’ve been reading Nobody’s Boy by Hector Malot. It’s a novel I’ve wanted to read for 20+ years but could never get my hands on a hard copy. Finally a print-on-demand version popped up on Amazon!

I’ve been enjoying it so much. It is deeply sad at times, very touching. I’m sure it’s going to be a permanent fixture in my little library.