August 31, 2005

Updates in Books

I've updated and fixed several things in the book section of the site. Notably, many of the pages now have pictures of the book cover. Not all of them do, I'm working on that. I'm going to try including cover images as often as possible.

Posted by Katie at 06:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Book: The Emerald Wand of Oz

The Emerald Wand of Oz
Sherwood Smith
Ill. by William Stout
2005

I really enjoyed this book a great deal, which surprised me. The beginning really turned me off (it reminded me a little too much of Dorothy – Return to Oz), but the book got much better after a while. I liked the realism of the characters, even the classic ones, even when I had to wonder why they had been included (it felt like Smith chose a random selection of characters to use and never altered it when it became apparent that some of them were totally unnecessary). Scraps in particular felt wonderfully real. The plot was interesting, if rather thin (a lot of extra space in the book where “other stuff” happens). I liked the inclusion of the Nome prince.

I did have a few issues with the book. The first was basically the first third of the book. In it two girls from Kansas (who are strangely convinced that they are related to Dorothy, who never grew up and moved to Oz with her aunt and uncle who never had kids, so where these relatives came from is somewhat of a mystery) get swept to Oz in a tornado. Actually, how they got there is kind of confusing, but it’s an Oz book so a little confusion on technical issues is to be expected. Then they spend a third or more of the book grooming multicoloured unicorns. Yep, unicorns. Never knew there were unicorns in Oz? Me neither! Nothing happens in this entire section. They argue and groom unicorns. That’s it. It’s really boring and really tempted me to put the book down. The second issue was all the loose ends. I realize that he’s setting up for a sequel or two, but the sheer number of loose ends in this book was ridiculous. Even assuming sequels, a book should kind of be able to exist on it’s own. I’m not sure this really can. I didn’t leave the book thinking “cool story, I wonder what might happen later?”; I left it thinking “but what about the clouds, and Dorothy missing, and ...”. It really hurt the experience of reading the book.

The witch was the niece of the Wicked Witch of the West, which seems to be the current trend in Oz books. She was inconsistently portrayed (especially between the illustrations and text), but otherwise a pretty good character. Her magic made a teenager kind of sense rather than simply being a copy of the Wicked Witch of the West’s style. I particularly liked her transformed guards with their tiny, easily confused lizard brains. The whole section of the book that took place in the witch’s castle was well done. The pacing was good and the characters found some clever solutions to problems (the Scarecrow in particular was used wonderfully in this section).

The illustrations were beautifully done, particularly the wonderful cover picture of Princess Ozma, which is just lovely. They were spaced nicely throughout the book and usually very appropriate to the section they were in. My only issue was the occasional inconsistency between the illustrations and the text. Several times the witch is described wearing a pretty, long purple gown, but in the illustration she is wearing jean shorts and a button-down shirt that is too big for her. It’s a rather jarring difference. The art is exceptionally well done, however, with nice references back to original Oz art by Denslow and Neill. The portraits of the original characters such as Scraps and Jack Pumpkinhead are charming and very reminiscent of the original books.

Overall I really liked this book, despite its frustrating aspects. I look forward to the sequel and hope that it will be even better than this one!

Posted by Katie at 02:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 28, 2005

Book: The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Eric Carle
1969

This is such a classic I almost didn’t write it up for the website. I decided that I should write it, though, partially because it is such a classic. It’s such a fun book. There isn’t anything particularly spectacular about it, so it isn’t incredibly obvious why it would be a classic, but perhaps that is part of it’s charm. It’s so appealing because it is so simple and unassuming. The pages with holes where the caterpillar chewed through things are a constant fascination for children and the bright colours and simple story make it memorable for everyone.

The book is just so well put-together. The pacing is wonderful with parts that move along slowly and parts of the story where the story nearly runs forward. This is partially helped by the oddly sized pages and holes. The bright colours and oversized images are incredibly appealing and it’s hard not to smile when flipping through the book.

This book really is a classic and deserves to be. It is my favourite of Carle’s picture books! I highly recommend it, but since most people have probably seen and read it already, it doesn’t mean much for me to recommend it!

Posted by Katie at 04:49 PM | Comments (0)

Book: Someday is Not a Day of the Week

Someday is Not a Day of the Week
Denise Brennan-Nelson
Ill. by Kevin O’Malley
2005

This is a wonderful picture book that very accurately shows how it feels (especially when you are young) to be told something fun is going to happen... someday. The little boy’s excitement is so real it’s almost contagious, but his disappointment is also that real – it’s almost tangible. It has a jarring effect on an adult because one is forced to realize that vague promises are pretty much a staple in our conversations, especially with young children. The scene where the boy looks for “Someday” on the calendar is so cute and almost heartbreaking!

The pictures are adorable and full of energy. They match the story wonderfully well. I loved the expressions on the child and the adults around him. The details in the backgrounds are wonderful as well.

This is a wonderful book. I highly recommend it!

Posted by Katie at 04:29 PM | Comments (0)

Books: Yay, You! Moving Out, Moving Up, Moving On

Yay, You! Moving Out, Moving Up, Moving On
Sandra Boynton
2001

This is a great graduation/life change book, one of the best I’ve ever seen on the subject. It’s funny and full of Boynton’s characteristically funny pictures. It talks about how not knowing what’s coming next is scary, while knowing where you intend to go is exciting but not necessary. It shows various animals doing different things and while some may seem trivial (like the adorable animals “contemplating the size of their thighs”), none are inherently less valid than any others.

The drawings are typical Boynton, full of hippos and other creatures. They are very funny and one can’t help but smile at such images as the meditating cow saying “OOM”. The pictures are perfectly paired with the text, and I think some of the text would loose a lot from being paired with any other images (or with none at all).

I loved this book and would definitely give it as a graduation gift (or even buy it for myself). It’s witty and fun and full of celebration.

Posted by Katie at 04:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Books: The Very Best Daddy of All

The Very Best Daddy of All
Marion Diane Bauer
Ill. by Leslie Wu
2004

This is a very sweet book portraying animal fathers and what they do for their families. It is obviously intended as a Father’s Day type of gift book, but it is a cute picture book nonetheless. Each animal father is shown in a wonderful nature-study-like drawing that might have been inspired by a National Geographic photograph. The text tells about one thing that each father does for his family, from hatching eggs to comforting and protecting the mother. I liked very much that no contribution was shown as any more valid or important than any other contribution. It is evident that the author feels that anything done for the family is important, no matter how small the thing might seem.

The end is rather cliché and obvious, but the text is otherwise very good. It pairs wonderfully with the animal drawings. I would absolutely recommend this book for a child, even one whose father is largely out of the picture. It shows that even fathers who aren’t around are important.

Posted by Katie at 03:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Book: Hello Kitty: A Day With Papa

Hello Kitty: A Day With Papa
Mark McVeigh
Ill. by Jean Hirashima
2005

This is a cute little book about the Sanrio character Hello Kitty. She decides to spend a day with her father and he teaches her how to play baseball. The pictures are simple and colourful, as most Sanrio art is. The story is simple, but very sweet. I liked that the writing was simple and clear, as uncomplicated as the illustrations.

I very much liked that this book is about a little girl who learns to play what is usually considered a boys’ sport, but she gets to stay a little girl while doing it. Her batting helmet is pink with a bow, but she is just as good at the sport as the boys and girls who join her and her father near the end of the book. I like that Hello Kitty can be girly and good at sports at the same time.

The book isn’t brilliant, but it is cute and fun and the message is really good. I like that the message isn’t undermined at all, like in many books. This is a cute book and certainly a good one for kids (both boys and girls). I’ve been generally impressed with the Hello Kitty books so far!

Posted by Katie at 03:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I'm a Nerd! Who's shocked?

This quiz found through Blog of a Math Teacher.

Pure Nerd
82 % Nerd, 47% Geek, 21% Dork
For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.

A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.

A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.


You scored better than half in Nerd, earning you the title of: Pure Nerd.



The times, they are a-changing. It used to be that being exceptionally
smart led to being unpopular, which would ultimately lead to picking up
all of the traits and tendences associated with the "dork." No-longer.
Being smart isn't as socially crippling as it once was, and even more
so as you get older: eventually being a Pure Nerd will likely be
replaced with the following label: Purely Successful.



Congratulations!



Also, you might want to check out some of my other tests if you're interested in either of the following:



Buffy the Vampire Slayer


Professional Wrestling


Love & Sexuality



Thanks Again! -- THE NERD? GEEK? OR DORK? TEST




My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 94% on nerdiness
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 69% on geekosity
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 22% on dork points
Link: The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test written by donathos on Ok Cupid

Posted by Katie at 01:01 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 25, 2005

Atom Feed

Sorry for the annoyance.

If you'd like a better feed to view this site with, please direct your news aggregator to Pixiepalace.com's Atom Feed.

If you're using bloglines, expect some weirdness while it sorts itself out.

Posted by Michael at 11:56 PM | Comments (0)

Gaming Style Quiz

Found this quiz on John Kovalic's blog.

You scored as Storyteller. You're more inclined toward the role playing side of the equation and less interested in numbers or experience points. You're quick to compromise if you can help move the story forward, and get bored when the game slows down for a long planning session. You want to play out a story that moves like it's orchestrated by a skilled novelist or film director.

Storyteller

92%

Method Actor

75%

Tactician

50%

Specialist

42%

Power Gamer

25%

Casual Gamer

17%

Butt-Kicker

0%

Law's Game Style
created with QuizFarm.com
Posted by Katie at 04:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 22, 2005

Gen Con

Michael and I spent the last five days in Indianapolis with twelve or so of our friends at Gen Con. It was fun, except for some unpleasantness with the hotel (never ever stay in the Hilton Indianapolis, it was awful and managed to anger and/or upset several of the people in our group staying there - me included). I didn't play many tabletop roleplaying games this time, but I played several board and card games. Michael and I bought a few new games that should be fun!

Our friends were really sweet. Brian and our other friends sent us champaign and treats the first night, got some of the exhibiters and such to sing to us (including Crazy Egor and the people working in his booth, the pirates from Keelhauled Studios, and the Klingons and Starfleet personel from the Klingon Jail), got us cute messages from various people there (the pirates again and Statesman from City of Heroes), and generally made this a memorable Gen Con where we felt loved by our friends. Thanks guys!

Posted by Katie at 10:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 14, 2005

Married!

I'm married!

I got married yesterday evening! The wedding was beautiful. I felt beautiful and everyone said I was. Michael looked wonderful in his tuxedo. The bridesmaids were all gorgeous and the groomsmen looked handsome. My mother looked great and barely sat still for more that three minutes all night. I'm not sure she got to eat at all. My dad cried and was incredibly sweet all night. Everyone seemed to have a wonderful time! I'm really too tired to say any more tonight, but I'm sure I'll write more later. And I'll make sure to provide a link to the related photo galleries on my husband's website (that's so much fun to say!).

Thanks everybody for being so wonderful and supportive!!!

Posted by Katie at 09:36 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 07, 2005

Quotes Added

Ok, I've been collecting little slips of paper on and around my desk for quite some time now with little quotes on them. In the last two days I've managed to enter them all into the site's quote generator! There are about thirty new quotes in the mix now, some of them great.

Posted by Katie at 02:42 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 05, 2005

Life is Crazy!

I know my site has been kinda quiet lately. I'm so far behind on posting book reviews it's scary. And sad, since I've read some great books lately. Real life, has, unfortunately been rudely intruding into my bloging time.

My wedding is now in nine days, so of course now is the time for things to start falling apart. There haven't been many big disasters, although the biggest has now become my psychologist's favorite wedding horror story. It's just that no matter how well planned out everything is, and our wedding was freakishly well organized throughout the whole planning phase, when you mix that many factors together, something is bound to fall apart.

I'm really happy to be getting married, I'm not nervious about becoming Michael's wife at all. I'm nervous that I'm not going to make TO my wedding day, much less THROUGH it. I feel very lucky that I have such wonderful people around me. My parents and Michael's have been great, very supportive and excited for us. Viv is the perfect bridal assistant and without her I think I would be even more afraid of my wedding day falling to pieces around my ears. As it is, I will be surprised if any disasters less critical than the place burning down even come to my attention! Michael has been great and done a ton of the planning, even when he objected to the very concept of something that had to be done.

I am looking forward to my wedding day, but even more so to my marriage. Part of me really wonders why we didn't elope. It's going to be beautiful and wonderful though, and I think I would have missed getting to share it with my family and friends had I actually eloped. Besides, when else would I get to wear my grandmother's absolutely stunning wedding gown?

I am sorry that my website has been so sorely neglected lately (I've been missing dolling), but hopefully after the wedding and Gen Con (which is ABSOLUTELY NOT NOT NOT A HONEYMOON OF ANY KIND AT ALL SO STOP SAYING IT IS) I'll be able to devote some more time to it.

Besides, Michael says I need to share some of my stories from Barnes and Noble with my wonderful blog readers, and he's probably right!

Wish me luck that the wedding won't fall to pieces!

Posted by Katie at 12:04 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Comments about comments

Ok, as some of you may have noticed, comments now have to be approved to appear on the site. This is good, because now I'm the only one forced to see all the offensive website spam I get. We're working on that. The problem is, with the massive amounts of spam (50+ messages a day, sometimes up to 200 or more), I sometimes might have missed legitimate comments when deleting things. If you think I missed a legitimate comment you made, try making it again (I'm trying to be careful) and I really apologize for deleting it the first time!

Hopefully the messiness will be fixed soon (or else I may go insane - I detest website spammers)!

Posted by Katie at 12:00 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 02, 2005

Today's Random Interesting Links

Ok, today I have stuff that I found interesting (rather than stuff that made me happy, although some of these did make me happy).

The first is a like to a piece at The Valve about genre fiction, particularly as it applies to Harry Potter. It's an interesting piece. I don't agree with everything he says, but Michael seemed to feel that my differences of opinion were largely academic and maybe kinda nitpicky. I find them interesting, but since I can see his point, I won't force them on you. The piece is interesting, though, so you may want to check it out.

Looking more into the subject of genre writing led me to this piece at octopuses, wheee! about why so very very much fantasy is so very bad. It's really interesting, although I think some of the arguements are hard to deal with. Some of the things (like drawing from other writers) can actually be one of the elements that makes a book good. I did find it interesting (especially since I read so much awful fantasy as a kid, so bad that I knew it was awful even then).

Possibly the most interesting thing today, however, is an article about 'Geek Social Fallacies'. Especially with GenCon coming up, this piece was facinating. I can completely see it in the people I routinely hang out with, although few of them are serious "carriers" of any one fallacy. I also saw my own issues in there, I have been working on my particular issues with somewhat being a carrier of GSF1 and GSF3, but I am getting better about them. The article is really interesting, especially if you have been around "geek culture" a lot (which many people reading this probably have).

So those are my random links for today! Check them out, they are interesting and not as fluffy as my last set of fun links!

Posted by Katie at 01:53 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack