Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Video: Minecraft Exploding Creeper Candy

I really enjoy Screen Team's Cosplay Kitchen. Here's one of their older episodes for all the Minecraft fans out there. :)

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Book Review: Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Pros: brilliant characters, great premise

Cons: underdeveloped, mystery’s fairly easy to solve

Seventeen year old Nancy is starting at a new boarding school. But this isn’t just any school, it’s a school for kids who have found doorways to other worlds, kids who can’t forget their experiences and adventures and who want to return to their real homes in those worlds. And one of them is willing to kill to find their doorway.

I loved the premise of this novella, that kids who went to other worlds (fairylands, underworlds, nonsense realms, etc.) would come back changed, and would want to return to those places. I also liked how their parents weren’t too happy with the changes, and how society viewed their ‘odd’ stories, assuming mental illness.

The characters were fantastic. What a fun bunch of misfits. You’re told that a particular type of person finds these doorways, and that shows in how these youths act. They tend to be older than their years, speaking with a refreshing frankness. They’re a diverse bunch with several sexualities and genders represented. Having an asexual protagonist was neat, as it’s a perspective not generally used.

While interesting, the murder mystery is fairly easy to solve. And the shortness of the book meant that things wrapped up pretty quickly.

I really enjoyed this story. It was a fast read, and while I’d have loved for it to be a full length novel, the author made some great observations about humanity.


I was left confused as to why the killer started murdering people when they did. I’d assumed it would have something to do with Nancy’s arrival - that she had a part the killer needed or something. But no, there appeared to be no reason why they waited so long to start their spree.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Shout-Out: It Wasn’t Always Like This by Joy Preble

In 1916, Emma O’Neill is frozen in time. After sampling an experimental polio vaccine brewed on a remote island off St. Augustine, Florida, she and her family stop aging—as do the Ryans, her family’s business partners. In a way, this suits Emma fine because she’s in love with Charlie Ryan. Being seventeen forever with him is a dream. But soon a group of religious fanatics, the Church of Light, takes note. Drinking the elixir has made the O’Neills and Ryans impervious to aging, but not to murder—Emma and Charlie are the only ones who escape with their lives.
On the run, Emma is tragically separated from Charlie. For the next hundred years, she plays a cat-and-mouse game with the founding members of the Church of Light and their descendants. Over the years, a series of murders—whose victims all bear more than a passing resemblance to her—indicate that her enemies are closing in. Yet as the danger grows, so does Emma’s hope for finding the boy she’s certain is still out there . . .

Friday, 20 May 2016

Book Art Project part 2

This is part two of my book sculpture project. You can read about how I started it here.

After misting the pages to fan them out, the time came to cut into the book.  It's surprisingly easy to slice out parts of pages - once you get over the horror of defacing a book.  I wanted the cut out part to resemble a cave, so I did a square cut out, leaving rock projections from the ceiling and not being that carful about the cuts on the sides. I did try to keep the bottom level, as I wanted figures to be able to stand there once the project was finished.

Each knife cut went through about 10 pages, and to get good dimension you want to do the same cut a few times before going to something a bit different.

The next step was gluing the pages. I held the book so it fanned in a way that looked good and gave some space for the figures to stand, then used a paint brush to brush a heavy coat of white school glue over the pages. I used a heat gun to help the glue dry faster, being careful not to hold it too close to the pages (as they'll burn/brown if you do). I did this to the top and bottom, leaving the sides free.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Shout-Out: Roses and Rot by Kat Howard

Imogen and her sister Marin escape their cruel mother to attend a prestigious artists’ retreat, but soon learn that living in a fairy tale requires sacrifices, whether it be art or love in this haunting debut novel from “a remarkable young writer” (Neil Gaiman).

What would you sacrifice for everything you ever dreamed of?

Imogen has grown up reading fairy tales about mothers who die and make way for cruel stepmothers. As a child, she used to lie in bed wishing that her life would become one of these tragic fairy tales because she couldn’t imagine how a stepmother could be worse than her mother now. As adults, Imogen and her sister Marin are accepted to an elite post-grad arts program—Imogen as a writer and Marin as a dancer. Soon enough, though, they realize that there’s more to the school than meets the eye. Imogen might be living in the fairy tale she’s dreamed about as a child, but it’s one that will pit her against Marin if she decides to escape her past to find her heart’s desire.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Video: Pharaoh's Serpent Demonstration

This is a demonstration of a chemical reaction I found on Nile Red's site, and it's pretty awesome.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Book Review: Dust City by Robert Paul Weston

Pros: wonderful world-building, great characters, some humour

Cons: some unpleasant descriptions

When the fairies vanished other hominid species moved into their home on the floating island of Eden and started mining the dust they left behind.  Though the dust isn’t as potent as what the fairies once used, it can cure minor ailments, and the hominids and animalia in the city below are hooked.

Henry Whelp is the son of a convicted drug runner and murderer.  Though he’s a good kid, a bad decision lands him at the St Remus Home for Wayward Youth, and another reason society still fears and distrusts wolves.  But Henry uncovers a mystery that involves his dad, the missing fairies, and the dust that’s becoming more and more potent.

It was really cool reading a fairytale story from the point of view of one of the talking/evolved animals.  In the stories these are either the bad guys (like the wolf), guides to human protagonists (ravens & foxes), or creatures drafted into the magic (mice, birds).  So it was an interesting perspective, as the humanoid characters mostly look down on the animalia.

As with most books that riff on fairy tales, part of the fun is figuring out what characters come from what stories.  There’s little mystery here if you’ve read the brothers Grimm, though I’ll have to look up the story of the girl without hands.  The characters are cleverly used, particularly Detective White, referencing their fairytale backgrounds without being limited to their origin stories.

The world is wonderful and feels real, what with its racism, drug problems, corruption, and more.  Henry encounters several people from different walks of life, giving a decent overview of the lower city.

While the book isn’t funny - in fact, it’s quite dark - there were a few lines, particularly in the scenes with Siobhan’s granny, that made me laugh out loud.   

Some of the descriptions got a little… gross.  There’s a lot of spit and drool, disgusting smells, some blood and violence, and a torture scene.  But that’s a pretty minor issue.  

On the whole I really enjoyed this book and found it quite unique in its treatment of the stories and characters.