Book review: Maya and the Book of Everything by Laurie Graves.

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Laurie Graves – Maya and the Book of Everything (2016, Hinterlands Press) 

A mysterious library, magical books, and unexpected journeys to new lands and times?  A resourceful, intelligent, and thoughtful teenaged protagonist that we can relate to and love and root for?  A clever, fresh (and extremely relevant) take on the classic battle between good and evil?  Creative plotting, beautifully realized characterization, precisely detailed world building, and perfect pacing?  I’m all in.  Laurie’s book really is everything!

As it is the season of gift giving, if you’re having a difficult time buying for the young teenagers in your life, well, have I got a suggestion for you.  And while you’re at it, click an extra copy into your cart for yourself.  Because we could all use a Book of Everything in our lives.  🙂

(I’m sure glad she’s already working on the sequel because I’m not certain how long I can wait, given that juicy wallop set up at the end…).

 

Book review: Lab Girl by Hope Jahren.

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Hope Jahren – Lab Girl (2016, Vintage Canada)

Geo/paleobiologist Hope Jahren’s memoir Lab Girl is a passionate, inspiring exploration of life – her life as a scientist, her life as a woman, the lives of the plants she studies.  Alternately humorous, heartbreaking, reflective, and poetic, Lab Girl is beautifully written and illuminating. Jahren takes the reader through her cold Scandinavian upbringing in Minnesota and her refuge in studying science, to her struggle to obtain her own laboratory and gain acceptance from her colleagues.  She chronicles her deep friendship with her unconventional lab partner, Bill, who accompanies her on all of her journeys (even when they end in car crashes or bold moves across the country); their witty, hilariously off-kilter banter is a perfect foil to the serious revelations of the book. Framed by lyrical passages about plants and the lessons they can teach us, Lab Girl is filled with wonder and insight.

Book review: The Harvest by Chuck Wendig.

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Chuck Wendig – The Harvest (Book Three of The Heartland Trilogy) (2015, Skyscape)

Broken, battered, and full of fury and fight, the gang’s (mostly) all here, as Cael McAvoy and his friends struggle to survive and marshal forces against their crushing Empyrean overlords in a twisted world driven by the commodity of genetically-engineered corn.  Complications plague them: divided loyalties and politics, love triangles (quadrangles? “Squares” doesn’t have quite the same ring), infection and mutation from the same strain of Blight that affects the corn crops, killer androids, and, oh yeah, a group of seriously frightening female assassins. As in Under the Empyrean Sky and Blightborn,  the other books in the trilogy, Wendig’s world-building is staggering in scope and crazy-inventive, and he doesn’t pull any stylistic punches…he shoves the reader from edge to edge and keeps the action dialed up quite a few notches above what you think you can possibly stand.  It’s a fantastic ride and a fitting finale to this dark, creative trilogy.

November blog fun.

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It has been quite a few months since I’ve done one of these posts – let’s launch into it right away, shall we?

Have difficulty pronouncing plant names?  Me, too.  I even mangle them when I’m very consciously thinking about how not to – actually, that’s when the tongue-tangling gets truly terrific. This pronounciation guide may help.  At the very least, it’s interesting reading.

You may not live in New England (I don’t!) but your region may include some of the same plant species.  Or, you might just want to have fun with a fully interactive dichotomous key.  I’m here to help – I found this great link from GoBotany that will helpfully ID all 3,500 taxa in New England. I played with it a bit and, as expected, found that we share some of the same plant species here in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Here is another ID tool – this one for bird feathers.  It is from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, so it won’t likely be conclusive in other locations.  As we share many of the same bird species in Canada, it may work in a limited fashion for us.

It’s Canada’s sesquicentennial this year and Mercury Filmworks has created an animated short to illustrate Canada, coast-to-coast.  The artwork is vibrant and fun, and there are some delightful references to some of our most famous pop culture icons.

Here’s another post that celebrates Canada’s history – this time of the Rocky Mountains.  Take a look at this small collection of photos of people working, playing, and living in the mountains – it’s an eye-opening trip!

If you enjoy reading science fiction and you’re particularly interested in the work of writers during the 1950’s, ’60’s, and ’70’s, you may wish to check out this gem: the complete run of IF Magazine from 1952 to 1974 is available to read for free, here.  Some big names wrote for and edited this magazine and if you’re a fan of the genre, you will recognize some of them.  I love that these stories won’t be forgotten.

Writers and film buffs might have fun with this incredibly comprehensive list of narrative devices and tropes.  How many of these do you recognize in your favourite movie or book?  How many of these have you used in your own writing?

Finally, libraries and museums such as the Met, the New York Public Library, and the Smithsonian have made a ton of images from their collections available for everyone to download and…well…colour.  I believe the whole sharing to Twitter part is over with for the year, but you can still access the images for your own use. #ColorOurCollections will likely return in 2018, so watch for it.  Many of these are botanical prints, so that’s rather lovely for anyone who is interested in that sort of thing (me, me!).

Clipart credit.

‘Bye, Book!

One of the sweetest things overheard in the library: children feeding their books into our self check-in machine and calling out a farewell to each one as it is gathered up by the conveyor belts and propelled down the runways into whatever bin it is destined for. Sometimes they specifically name each book: “‘Bye-bye, Pete the Cat!”, but more often, they are all “Book,” the capital letter not merely implied, but reinforced by emphasis.  In the little voices, I can detect notes of wistfulness (that was such a good read!) and excitement (on to the next one!), as well as the usual curiosity and neato! factor that comes with peering through that little gap in the wall and catching our zippy self check-in machine in action. What they can’t see are the huge, knowing smiles on the faces of the team on the other side of the wall, as we wait for the books to drop.

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Have you recently read a book so wonderful that you would wistfully drop it into the book chute and say “goodbye”?  (Or, on the other hand, gleefully say “goodbye” to, because it was so awful?).

Paper Butterfly Flash Fiction. Wanted: your stories!

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A little side project I’ve been working on for nearly a year now is Paper Butterfly Flash Fiction, which features fantastic really, really short stories by writers from all over the world.  So that I avoid the holiday crunch and my head doesn’t actually explode as I feared it might when I opened up the reading period for a single month (December!???!) last year, I’m going to take submissions of flash fiction from October 1 to November 30.  I’m looking for short fiction (1,000 words or less), and pretty much any genre (or mashup thereof) is welcome: mystery, thriller, horror, science fiction, fantasy, romance, humour, western, literary…you name it, I’d love to see it.  Take a gander at the Submission Guidelines and read some of the stories from this year while you’re at it!

Don’t be shy – send me your work!  And please pass this call along to any other writers you know….

Fun with search terms, Flowery Prose edition.

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I love the WordPress feature that keeps track of the search engine terms that have led readers to our blogs. Some of them are obvious and you can definitely pinpoint the exact entries you’ve written that came up in the search (and hopefully assisted someone with their query)…but others are just plain entertaining!  I have a habit of plugging in as many words as possible into search engines to narrow down the possible hits, so I can only imagine what someone on the receiving end might think of the weird stuff I come up with.

Here are a few of the search terms that have been logged on Flowery Prose within the past year, the ones that got me giggling the most. I really hope something I’ve posted helped these folks out, as well, but I’m not entirely convinced of that….

saskatoon berry alcohol shot

Yes, please.

hula hooping sitting on bed

I’m not that flexible…or creative. I might somehow throw out a hip.

what if I eat a spittle bug

No biggie, it’s three percent of your daily recommended intake of protein.  And the spittle gives it a smooth mouthfeel.

prose soup

Is that like Alphagetti noodles?  Do you add veggies?  I might want that recipe.

prose on parenting

*looks to see if anyone has dropped off any kids at my house and left them there without my knowledge*

nose ill

I think this was supposed to be “Nose Hill,” one of my favourite places to walk in Calgary.  I can’t say I’ve ever written a post about “nose ills,” but if there’s a call for it, I can definitely make something up oblige.

covering raised veggie bads (sic) at night

I’m glad I’m not the only one who had veggie bads this year – I can’t believe only three of my carrot seeds germinated out of an ENTIRE package.  Maybe I would have had more success had I covered them at night.  Things to note for next year.

same look like winter cress but not

Occasionally my hair gets this way before I put the anti-frizz cream in.

speak about flower

Ask my hubby; I do, ad nauseum.  This may be a search term I’m actually qualified to write about.  If not qualified, I can certainly babble endlessly about it.  I have also been known to expound at length about flour, as well, but that’s another story….

Check your search terms: do you have any silly or unusual ones you’d like to share?  

Clipart credit.