April 27, 2017

April Creative Corner

April Creative Corner

Welcome to the April Creative Corner. Before we start, I want you to know that this post will be moving to an every other month slot. I don't know what will replace it on the months when I don't do it, but I just wanted to let you know. All right, on to the creating.

First, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 comes out next month, and in honor of that, I drew Baby Groot. Didn't he come out so cute?

The next one is a pair of earrings that I made for my mom. We found these super cute charms at Michaels a few months ago and I finally got around to using them. The cups and plates are real porcelain.

Earlier this month we went to the National Art Gallery to see a new exhibit on an impressionist painter. Afterwards we went to the roof to see Hanh/Cock, a giant blue chicken sculpture.

Here's a picture of me with Hanh/Cock, just so you can get a feel for how big he is.

While we were up there, I made a quick sketch of the Capitol dome in my art travel journal. Sometimes it's nice to not make a perfect picture, and instead just try and capture what you see quickly. It was a fun day, and a great way to remember my grandmother, who passed away the day before. She was my art teacher for many years.

And here's a quick preview of a drawing I'm currently working on. Wonder Woman! I can't wait for the movie, so in the meantime, I'm drawing her.

Let's talk! How have you been creative this month? Do you enjoy trips to art galleries? Tell me in the comments.

April 24, 2017

April Book Reviews

April Book Reviews

The time to learn my April reads is here! I feel I got a good amount of books done due to all the things I had going on this month. April was pretty busy with holidays, recital preparation, and family things. But that's enough about me. Let's move on to the reviews.

Best Books

Thornghost- Tone Almhjell

My Rating: 5 stars

What I Liked:

Niklas and Secret. Niklas is the protagonist of the novel. Secret is a lynx that get imbued with magic so she can talk. They work together to figure out how to get rid of the trolls in Niklas's world. They're an awesome team, but I like Secret just the tiniest bit more. She's sassy, slightly prickly, and a great friend to Niklas.

The world. This book takes place partially in our world, and partially in the same world as The Twistrose Key. Only this time we get to see a darker, less friendly part of it. It's beautiful and has some amazing things. Like fruit made of gems you can actually eat. Who wouldn't want to try a diamond apple?

Mystery. The author did a great job of not showing all her cards at once. She kept things hidden from you, then revealed them, so that everything you previously learned changes in relation. If you can do it right, then this can be an amazing technique.

Character development. Like in her previous novel, the main character learns the thing they need as they travel on their journey. Niklas learns to be a much better person by the end of the book.

Creepy and dark. If The Twistrose Key felt like Narnia, Thornghost felt more like an N. D. Wilson book. The two books a quite different, but in a good way. Don't read it at night, though.

It ties into The Twistrose Key! This was one of my favorite parts of the book. Niklas is Lin's friend that she left behind, so there are all sorts of delicious tie ins.

What I Disliked:

A few time I thought the plot was wandering. It wasn't often or bad, and that just might be me. But other than that, I can't think of anything I didn't like.

The Winner's Crime- Marie Rutkoski

My Rating: 4 1/2 stars

What I Liked:

That cover. It's so gorgeous. The bright blue dress especially. Though as one of my brothers pointed out, is she holding a sword or a knife? It certainly doesn't look like she's holding a sword.

Kestrel. She's one of the best YA heroins I've read in a while. She's not a superb fighter. Instead, she's smart and calculating. She's tough in ways other than physical, which is refreshing. We need more characters like her.

World-building. This series has great a great world. Different cultures, religions, and traditions. And the world is based off of more than medieval England. Each culture has a different feel to it.

Kept me reading and on the edge of my seat. When I got to the last few chapters, I couldn't put it down, even though I had things to do. That's good writing. Plus, the author is great at keeping things tense.

There's so much more I could go on and on about. Why don't you save me the trouble and just go read it yourself? You won't regret it.

What I Disliked:

Arin. Go ahead and murder me now if you're completely in love with Arin. But I found him pretty annoying most of this book. He was stubborn, self-centered, and refused to listen. He did come around in the end, so that made me happy.

Books I Liked Slightly Less

A quick note: I read a lot of good books this month. I didn't have any I really hated or disliked this time. So my worst books are really just the ones I liked a little less than some of the others. Okay, let's move on.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up- Marie Kondo

My Rating: 3 stars

What I Liked:

Some of her ideas. Marie Kondo is pretty radical in her ideas. But the thought of sorting things and keeping only what makes you happy is a good one. Not practical for everything, I know, but for other things it works great.

Her folding technique. She makes folding clothes almost like cloth origami, making each item into a little rectangle that can stand up on its own. Excuse me while I go geek out about folding clothes.

Some of her storage ideas. She also has some good ideas there. Like using shoe boxes for various things. She likes them because they're rectangular and fit well into space.

What I Disliked:

Some of her other ideas. Like thanking things for what they've done for you. Or talking to your house. It's too Japanese for me.

The thought that items have feelings. Sorry, I just can't bring myself to think that my socks feel things. Or a notebook. Or an electrical cord. (Possibly books, though.) It's a very Japanese idea.

Her ideas about books. You can so tell she's not a book nerd. She wants you to get rid of way too many books, like unread ones. Have you ever heard of a TBR? And, get this, she wants you to put your bookcase in your closet if it will fit. What sort of monster does that? How you can you look at their loveliness if it's hidden away? (I have strong feelings concerning books and bookcases. Can you tell?)

I plan on doing a whole post about the KonMari method later after I've tried it out, so if you want to know more of my thoughts, stay tuned until then. There will be pictures!

Leepike Ridge- N. D. Wilson

Before my N. D. Wilson fangirl card is revoked, allow me to say that I did like this book. I just didn't like it as much as some of his other books, which is why I chose it for this list.

My Rating: 3 1/2 stars

What I Liked:

The characters. N. D. is great at writing relatable, fun characters for his books. These were no exception. Tom was a bit thickheaded, but then, what 12-year-old isn't?

Fast paced. It kept flying along with barely a break. When the breaks did come, they were in just the right place.

Loathable bad guys. I love a bad guy you can loath. For one thing, it gives me an opportunity to use the word loath in a blog post. Plus, sometimes you just want a villain you can hate and not worry about suddenly feeling sorry for.

Setting and speculations. I've listed these two together because they go hand-in-hand. The world hidden beneath the cliffs is amazing, and has some fun speculations attached to it. I won't say more so I don't spoil it.

What I Disliked:

The writing style. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't like his other novels, which threw me off a bit. It's a pet peeve, really.

Notable Mention

Iron Man: The Gauntlet- Eoin Colfer

My Rating: 3 1/2 stars

My feelings on Iron Man are mixed. At times, I love him. (Especially the snark.) Other times, I want to punch him in the face. But I couldn't resist this book, given the fact that Eoin Colfer had written it.

It was pretty good, even if it wasn't part of the MCU. Tony was well written, the tech was awesome, and fight scenes quite realistic. People actually got hurt when they did crazy things, like jump off cliffs into the water or have sword fights with no previous experience.

But there were also parts I didn't like. Saoirse annoyed me because I don't like child geniuses. They rub it in your face that they're way smarter. Also, I feel he wrecked Tony and Rhodey's friendship, even if Rhodey wasn't in the book. It also felt a bit drawn out at times. Still, I would totally recommend this book for any Iron Man fans.

Other Books Read

Tainted- Morgan L. Busse- 4 stars
The Last Musketeer- Stuart Gibbs- 4 stars
Summerkin- Sarah Prineas- 4 stars
Moonkind- Sarah Prineas- 4 stars
The Magic Thief- Sarah Prineas- 4 stars (What can I say? I was on a kick. Besides, her books are great.)
Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms- Lissa Evans- 4 stars
Spark Joy- Marie Kondo

Let's talk! What books have you read this month? Do you like female protagonists that aren't physically kick-butt? Tell me in the comments.

April 20, 2017

How to Write When You're Multi-Passionate

How to Write When You're Multi-Passionate

Do you ever feel like you have interests pulling you in a million different directions? Were you the kid who never had an answer for the question "What do you want to be when you grow up?" because you wanted to do lots of things? Maybe you want to write, draw, dance- all at the same time. That may be because you have too much going on and need to cut back, or it could be because you are multi-passionate. Don't know what that is? Allow me to tell you, my friend.

Multi-passionate? What's that?

A multi-passionate, as far as I understand it, is when you have multiple interests. You don't just do one thing, or majorly focus your time on one thing. Instead, you enjoy doing all sorts of activities and pursuing several different interests.

I only learned about this myself when Hint of Jam posted about it on Instagram. She was talking about she was multi-passionate, and that's when I realized I was the same. I didn't know it was a thing, or that other people felt the way I did. It was really eye-opening for me.

I've never been one of those people who knew what they wanted to do from a young age. My mom wanted to be a teacher from age eight, and that's what she's been doing since high school. My sister wants to be a writer and hasn't changed her mind since she decided that. But I have lots of things I want to do. Be a writer, an artist, an Etsy seller, and more.

Maybe you're the same way. The way to tell, as best as I know, is to decided if you're truly passionate about each of the things you like to do. If you can't imagine dropping one of them, you're probably multi-passionate. If you could live without all but one or two, then you're probably not.

What does any of that have to do with writing?

Glad you asked. See, sometimes I feel a bit discourage with my writing because other people seem to be so much faster it than me. It's not because I'm a slow writer or don't devote enough time to it. I probably spend an hour or more on writing each day, between various things. Yet other writers can write and edit a novel in only a year or so, while I may work on one novel for several years to finish it.

But when I discovered being multi-passionate, that changed things for me. I realized that the reason my writing goes so slowly is because I'm trying to do a lot, so I don't have as much time to write as people who only do that. It took a great burden off of me. I'm still trying to remind myself of that and not be jealous of other writers, because we're all different.

So what does this have to do with you? Well, I'm going to show you how to balance writing and all your other interests, while also remaining sane. Ready to find out?

Balancing writing and everything else

First, remind yourself that just because it may take you longer to finish a novel, it doesn't mean you're not as good at writing. It just takes a little longer for people like us.

Second, decided what your priorities are at this point in your life. Not your whole life, just this year, the next six months, this quarter, this month. Whatever amount of time (under a year) that you want to look at. I suggest either the next three to six months. It's a small and manageable amount of time.

Make a list of everything that's important to you right now, as well as a list of your other responsibilities, the ones you can't get out of. Work, school, chores, etc. Then think carefully about them, and number them in order of importance to you right now, with one being the most important. That is the thing you'll give the most of your time to, after necessities, with the others getting as much time as they are far down the list.

Right now, my list looks like this. 1. Etsy, 2. Writing, 3. Blogging and music (yeah, I know I cheated a little) 4. Art, and 5. Sign language. I also wrote down some ideas of things I could cut out of my day, like too much social media scrolling and computer solitaire, to make more time for other things and a list of ways I could use my time best. Doing this helped me to discover what I needed to be focusing on and in what order.

At the end of the time you've planned for (3 months, 6 months, or whatever) do it again. Figure out where your priorities have shifted, and schedule your time to match.

Anyway, back to writing. Where ever it may fall on your list right now, always be sure to spend at least five minutes a day writing. There is always ways you can squeeze in time to write, whether it's on your commute or by staying up a little later each night. Do your best to take time to keep learning and practicing, despite whatever else you may have to, or want to, do.

If you feel like you want to do more writing and less of other things, simply rearrange your schedule. Plan your writing sessions for the time when you're most productive. Work for blocks of time or a certain amount of words. When you've accomplished your daily goal, then you can move on to the next thing.

And try to focus on one task at a time. I know when I try to multi-task and do two or three things at once, it's hard for me to get things done. It works better if you chose one thing to do, then only do that until it's done. Just a tip that I've discovered, and should adhere to more often.

Mostly, I just want to encourage you. There are other people out there like you, so don't feel alone. Don't let people who write their NaNoWriMo novel in three days get you down. Take your writing at your pace. Remember, the reason you're doing this is because you love it, and if you love something, you find a way to make time for it.

Let's talk! Are you a multi-passionate? What tips do you have for others who are feeling overwhelmed? Tell me in the comments.

April 17, 2017

My Star Ratings Explained

My Star Ratings Explained

Since I've started posting book reviews more frequently on the blog, I decided I should probably explain how my star ratings work. Everyone has a different system and idea about what stars mean. I'll show you how they work for me, starting from the bottom and working my way up.

1 Star- The worst

One star ratings are reserved for only the most terrible of books. The ones with horrible writing, plot, and everything else all in one book. You know the ones I'm talking about. Or ones I personally hated for one reason or another.

These books are few and far between. So far on my Goodreads, I've only rated one book with one star. It was called Cinder and Ella. Obviously, it was supposed to be a Cinderella retelling, which is why I picked it up. However, I think it was the worst thing I've ever read. It sounded like a five year old wrote it. I didn't even see much of Cinderella in it. I would never recommend this book to anyone.

2 Stars- Bad, but not the worst

Two stars is for book that were bad or I didn't enjoy in the slightest. I might give a book this rating if the writing was poor, the plot was bad, the characters boring, or something else along those lines. I might also give a book this if it sorely disappointed me or it was something I really didn't like.

There have only been nine of these books on my Goodreads shelves. Four of them are Gregory Maguire books. I was on a kick where I read everything he wrote, and several of them I didn't really like. Wicked to me was the best one he did. Books still have to be pretty bad for me to rate them two stars, since I tend to be generous with my ratings.

Half Stars- Right in between

Before I get much further I should tell you what I use half stars for. So far, Goodreads hasn't added the setting for rating something a half star (though since they did come out with the re-reading option, one can hope that isn't far behind), so you have to type in the exact rating you give something. Anyway, I use a half star when I can't quite decided if something is say two or three stars.

A half star means I think it had elements of both parts. Like it may be bad in some areas, but okay in others. Though a lot of times I just round up or down depending on how much I liked or disliked a book, I will occasionally use half stars. I've never been one to rate things 3.75 stars or something like that.

3 Stars- Okay

Three stars for me means the book was generally all right. It wasn't horrible, it wasn't great, but I enjoyed it enough to rate it right in the middle. Rating something three stars normally means that it was either a) something I semi-enjoyed or b) something that I enjoyed but had lots of flaws.

A majority of my books are rated either three or four stars, depending on where they fall on my spectrum. About two and a half pages (of 15 pages) of my books on Goodreads are rated three stars. Of course, that might doesn't mean that other books should have gotten three stars or less, but I may have just gone with four stars and left it.

4 Stars- Great and I enjoyed it

Four stars is my go to rating if I enjoyed a book and it didn't have too many problems. Yeah, I may be a little generous on them, since roughly 4/5's of my books are rated four stars. (Which I didn't realize until I went to write this post.) I probably should be a little more judgmental on rating things, but what can I say? I like to round up.

Of course, some of them are three and a half stars, but since Goodreads doesn't show that, I can't calculate that amount. The reason I think I have so many rated four stars is because I have a pretty good sense of what sort of books I do and don't enjoy. That means I read a lot of books I like, so I can rate things fairly high. That's what I think, anyway.

5 Stars- Superb and masterful

Five stars is a rating as reserved as one star, except instead of only for the worst, I only rate the best books with five stars. It has to be a great book, with almost no problems, and really have to wow me to get five stars. Thus, I don't rate a lot of books this. It's really hard to find books that deserve five stars.

I have about two and a half pages of five stars on Goodreads. Some of those are actually four and a half stars, but we've already discuses that. The five star books range from fantasy, to children's books, to non-fiction. Most of the Lunar Chronicles and The Selection is on, as is The Lord of the Rings. As you can see, it's pretty hard to get on that prestigious list.

There you have it. I hope this post gives a better insight to how I rate books for future monthly book reviews and such. Of course, your system might be different. It probably is, and I'd love to here about it.

Let's talk! How do you rate your books? Which is your most used star amount? Tell me in the comments.

April 13, 2017

3 Last Minute Easter Outfits

3 Last Minute Easter Outfits

You're going through life like normal. Then you look at the calendar, realize Easter is three days away, and panic because you didn't have time to get a new outfit. Never fear, Rachel is here.

This post is for all of you who don't have time or money to get an Easter outfit. Or maybe you just want to use what you already have instead of getting something new. Even if Easter is the perfect excuse to get a new outfit. I'll be showing you three quick and easy outfits you can slap together using what's in your closet that will still leave you looking great.

Peasant and Denim

I believe denim can be worn for almost any occasion, and Easter is no exception. For this look, you'll want a denim skirt of any style and a peasant blouse. If you don't have one of those, any loose shirt will do. Put the two together and add accessories, shoes, hair, and makeup to match. This outfit can really be tweaked to match your personal style.

Simple Dress

Look through your closet and find a dress you like. It doesn't matter that you've worn it before. If you want to make it look different, wear it differently. Add a sweater, belt, or other accessories to change up the look. If you have a hat to match, even better. Simple dress, new look.

Feminine Floral

Of course, there's always the old Easter stand-by. Floral. For my outfit, I chose a pink, sort of flowery skirt, a tank top, and a short sleeved sweater. You can put together something similar using your clothes. Add a scarf or do something fancy with your hair for the occasion. Sandals would work perfectly with this look.

Hopefully you'll get some ideas  for your Easter outfit from this post. Happy Easter!

Let's talk! Which outfit do you like best? Are you getting a new outfit for Easter or are you putting together something with what you have? Tell me in the comments.

April 10, 2017

5 Reasons to Watch The Lego Movie

5 Reasons to Watch The Lego Movie

From the first trailer I watched, I thought The Lego Movie would be good. I was right. However, not everyone agrees with me. Some people think it's the stupidest movie they've ever seen. (How dare they?)

If you are one of those people, and have no intentions of giving it another try, go ahead and click away now. But if you have never seen it or are thinking about giving it another try, here are five (extremely excellent) reasons to watch it.

1. Fun characters

There's a pretty big ensemble in this movie, around 8 major characters, but they're handled well. You come to like each of them for their unique traits. Wildstyle (Elizabeth Banks) is a tough girl with a soft interior. Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) is the wise old blind man. Batman (Will Arnett) only works in black. And sometime, very, very dark grey. And not only are the characters great, but also the actors who do their voices. This thing is chock full of celebrity voice cameos. Lord Business is the villain of the story, voiced by Will Ferrell, which means you know he's going to be funny.

The best is Emmet, the main character. He's voiced by Chris Pratt, so what other reason do you need to watch the movie? (Just kidding. Mostly.) Emmet is a perfectly normal, average Lego figure, until a piece gets stuck to his back and gets thrust into a world he never knew existed. He's easy to empathize with and absolutely hilarious.

2. Nice plot

One of the best things about The Lego Movie's plot is that it completely turns the Chosen One cliche on its head. The inciting incident is Emmet finding the Piece of Resistance and having it get stuck on his back. That makes him the Special, the minifig who will save everyone according to Vitruvius's prophesy. Except he isn't. I won't say how because- "Spoilers".

From when he finds the Piece, he is wanted by the Master Builders, who enjoy using their imagination to build all sorts of things, and Lord Business, who wants everything to stay the same. All he's asking for is total perfection, and that's why he's relatable. Everyone knows that feeling. Emmet must put the Piece on the Kragle before everyone is forced to remain the same forever.

The whole plot clearly follows three act structure, and even manages to rock a prologue. Even better, the ending turns into a dual-story line in two separate worlds. It has some awesome twists you never see coming too.

3. Amazing animation

One of the most amazing things about this movie is that the whole thing, except a few live action scenes, is completely made of Lego bricks. Buildings, trees, ground, clouds, water, dust- it's all Lego. Even more astounding, it's all computer animated Lego, since there aren't enough bricks in the world to build all the sets.

The Legos give this film an unique look and feel. The way things work and the way the characters react to the environment is all defined by the way bricks are put together. (Fun fact: Did you know there is over 900 million ways to combine six, eight studded bricks? Amazing, right?) They can do whatever they want with their world, which is why Lord Business is so unhappy. This same animation has been used in The Lego Batman Movie and will also be used in The Lego Ninjago Movie, with the new pieces Lego keeps creating being added.

First try!

4. Beautifully balanced

Like The Lego Batman Movie, this movie also hits that perfect balance of funny and serious. Yes, it is one long laugh fest. From ships making that sound when you vibrate your lips, to the gags and jokes, you'll keep laughing. It's a great movie to cheer you up.

But it also has serious scenes. Emmet's struggle with being the Special, then not being the Special. The dark night of the soul and the climax. It's beautifully done.

5. Great message

And I can't do a post on The Lego Movie without mentioning the theme. The theme is that we are all special and we can all create things. All we have to do is believe that. That is what Emmet learns on his journey and what he teaches Lord Business. This message is especially important because everyone has times they want to be special, but feel like they aren't. We all need to be reminded that there is no one like us and we are special in our own ways.

*   *   *   *

So I encourage you to give this film a try. Just because it's inspired by plastic bricks, doesn't mean it isn't a great movie. Young or old, you can enjoy this film.

Let's talk! Have you seen The Lego Movie? Have you ever played Legos, and if you have, what's your best memory of them? Tell me in the comments.

April 6, 2017

Literature Tropes: Are They Good or Bad?

Literature Tropes: Are They Good or Bad?

Boy falls in love with the girl next door. An unlikely hero must achieve the impossible. The humble farm boy is thrust into a world he doesn't understand. The tough warrior with the tragic backstory. What do all these have in common? Other than being found in YA novels.

They're all tropes. (And I'll discuss that term more in a minute.) You've seen these before. You look for them in some books and wish they weren't in others. Sometimes we enjoy them and sometimes we hate them.

Today I'm going to take a look at tropes in literature and whether or not writers should use them. Ready to get started?

Trope Definition

Dictionary.com defines a trope as "a word or expression used in a figurative sense" or "a common or overused theme or device". So it can either be a figure of speech, like a metaphor or hyperbole, or something similar to a cliche. In fact, the words trope and cliche are often used interchangeably. However, a trope is something commonly seen, whereas a cliche is something that has been used so many times, it's boring.

In this case, I'll be using the term trope to refer to something that's commonly seen in novels. Maybe another time I can do a similar post on cliches. Let's move on to whether tropes are good or bad.

To Use or Not to Use?

So a trope is something commonly seen in a novel, in this case. The question is, should writers avoid them or use them? The answer is, it depends on the trope. Some are perfectly fine, even excepted in a novel. Others verge on, or have become, cliche and should be avoided.

First you have to decided if something is a trope. The way to tell is if you've seen it enough times that it's become something you expect or look forward to. Like in a romantic movie, you expect two characters to fall in love with each other. Or you can tell that a story is going to be a Hero's Journey from the beginning. Those are tropes.

You have to be careful, though. As I said, over time some tropes have turned to cliches. If it's something you're tired of seeing, it's' probably a cliche. Those ones, like the Chosen One or love triangles, you can either avoid or turn into something new and fresh. The latter option is great if you can pull it off, as it makes readers think they know what's going to happen, but then you flip it on it's head.

Second, you should decided if your novel needs this particular trope. All genres have them, it's just part of novels. Sci-fi has space ships and aliens, fantasy has made-up worlds and magic, steampunk has gears, steam, and corsets. You just need to pick which ones will or won't work for your story.

Don't worry about using tropes for fear of not being original. Remember, everything has been written before. The reason your novel will be different will be because it was written by you. No one else can write that story the way you will. Go ahead and use that shape-shifting alien or boy falls in love with the girl next door and make it yours.

The one danger of using tropes and giving people what they expect is that readers will get bored. And we don't want that. When using a trope, think of ways to add a twist or go in a direction that readers won't expect. Keep readers on their toes. But don't go overboard either. You don't want to leave them dissatisfied because you never gave them that one thing they've been looking for since the beginning of the story (like a one-on-one confrontation with the antagonist).

As you can see, using tropes can be tricky, but they add to your novel. Like anything else, do what you think will work best for what you're writing.

Let's talk. What do you think about tropes? Should they be used, avoided, or changed? Tell me in the comments.

April 3, 2017

Book of the Month: Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms

Book of the Month: Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms

Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms
by Lissa Evans

Cover Review: Though the black and white cover of this book stands out among the normally bright books, as does its short size, I feel like the cover is something that could have been improved. The whole thing is a bit bland. Inside the cover, however, there is a nice map.

The Blurb: When ten-year-old Stuart stumbles upon a note daring him to find his great-uncle's hidden workshop full of wonderful mechanisms, trickery, and magic, he sets out on an adventure of a lifetime. In order to find the place, Stuart must believe the unbelievable- while dodging the annoyingly prying eyes of his triplet neighbors, April, May, and Jun.

With clues to follow, puzzles to solve, and the quirkiest of characters, this uniquely charming fiction debut by comedienne Lissa Evans is sure to enchant middle-grade readers- and believers- everywhere.

My Thoughts

This was one of those "Oh, this looks interesting, I think I'll pick it up" books from my local library. I'd never heard of it before, but it sounded fun. It was a great pick.

Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms was a fun mystery with just a dash of magic that really made the book. The mystery had two parts- discovering what happened to his Great-uncle Tony and finding his hidden workshop. The magic part was small but perfect. The plot kept moving along quickly. Stuart's uncle left him clues and puzzles that made me think a bit of Mr. Lemoncello's Library. The writing style was very British, and the author used some great words in her writing.

Stuart Horten was a nice protagonist. He's ten, but he's very short (a problem added to by the way his name can be abbreviated to S. Horten, or shorten). One of the nice things was that his parents were around, even if they weren't helpful to the story. Directly, anyway. His father writes crossword puzzles, so he's always spouting words you've never heard of or saying random facts. His mother is doctor who works with microscopes. Stuart himself is a fairly normal little boy with a thirst for adventure.

All the characters in this book were fun. There are the triplets who live next door- April, May, and June. April is the one he spends most of the book with. She has problems herself, as she wears glasses and can't always see properly. There's also Leonora, who's blind and has a seeing eye dog, and the villain, Jeannie, who has a dumb side-kick named Clifford. (Honestly, the whole time I kept thinking of a large red dog.) Jeannie was a pretty good villain, but I had a hard time finding her motivation. Clifford was better. He followed Jeannie only because he wanted to pass his magic exam.

My Rating:

Overall, I'd say this was a great book. I'd recommend this to anyone looking for a quick, fun read. If you like mysteries and magic (both real and fictional) this book is for you.

Let's talk. Have you read this book? Do you like mysteries? Let me know in the comments.