Category Archives: Website review

EscapePod Flash Fiction contest

I’m going to take a break from my regularly scheduled review of two stories from His Hideous Heart to bring your attention to a flash fiction contest running on EscapePod through June 12th. EscapePod is a short story science fiction podcast. (They have sister podcasts for fantasy, horror, and YA if scifi isn’t your thing.) Their annual flash fiction contest has just opened for voting. Flash fiction, in this case, is stories less than 500 words. They had 224 submissions, and now it’s up to the public to decide on our three favorites. Every day, 10 to 11 stories are made available for a week to read and vote on your three favorites. The top three stories in each round will advance to a semifinal round. The top three at that point will be purchased and read on the podcast. So, if you’re in the mood for some short fiction, head on over to the website. You need to register on the forum and make a post before you can vote, but everything is explained and easy to follow. I voted on today’s stories and can’t wait to read more!

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The Walk by Naomi Alderman

I finished reading the Event Horizon stories last week, and haven’t found an equivalent anthology to replace it yet. So, I thought I’d review some audio stories instead. The Walk is a podcast that’s meant to be listened to while you’re outside walking. While I don’t remember how I first heard about it, I thought the premise was intriguing and checked it out.

Published: 2018 by Panoply and available to listen to free online at your favorite podcast app

Genre: apocalyptic serial fiction

Length: 31 episodes, each around 25 minutes long

Setting: Inverness, Scotland to London, England

Summary: Short version: A group of people try to stop an AI from taking over the world Continue reading

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Tiny Wooden Pieces

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a webcomic, so I thought I’d rectify that fact. New ones come out on a regular basis, and some of them die a sadly, neglected death. I was attracted to this comic because it’s about European board games. Our family is big into board games (we own over 100, which I think is too many, but my husband keeps finding new great games that he just has to have), so I thought it would be fun to read about other people playing games. It’s always fun to be able to commiserate over game/gaming quirks.

Published: Fridays, at

Genre: board games, four-panel comic (recently changed from a six-panel comic)

Setting: usually Ireland, present day, although it really is just a generic house

Summary: Each week, we get a scenario inspired by a board game or collectible card game. We always see Colin (the writer) and Aileen (the artist) within the comic playing the game, and a rotating cast of friends come through the games as well.

Final thoughts: I never knew there was a webcomic based on board games. As a player myself, it’s a lot of fun. The best is when they talk about a game I’ve actually played, and I can commiserate with the humor. It’s also important to read Colin and Aileen’s comments under the comic. Those comments are often as amusing as the comic itself. If you’re a board game player, this is a fun comic to read.

Title comes from: It probably refers to all the little wooden pieces that come with lots of the Euro-games

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Zen Pencils by Gavin Aung Than

We finished up studying the human body this week, which means we didn’t get anything new from the library. So, instead of a weekly wrap-up post, I’m going back to an occasional topic – reviewing a webcomic. This time I’m reviewing Zen Pencils.

Published: Irregularly

Genre: inspirational

Setting: depends on the quote being depicted

Interest: I don’t remember how I found this webcomic in the first place. I enjoy the occasional inspirational poem/quote, though, so I keep reading.

Summary: Basically, Gavin finds a quote he likes and then drafts a comic with a plot and visuals that in some way correspond to the words. He has a few recurring characters, like the Shaolin Monk and the Dragonslayer but usually the characters and plot are unique to the quote. New readers can just jump right in to whatever’s currently showing on the homepage, or check out the New readers page for a list of the most popular/personal favorites.

Final thoughts: Since this isn’t a regularly updated comic, it’s always a pleasant surprise when it shows up in my RSS feed. The art in the comics is well done and I’m always impressed with how the artist tells a story strictly in visuals. Yes, it goes along with the words of the quote, but it adds to the depth of the quote. If you really enjoy the comics, you can even buy them in hard copy format since Than has published his comics in two volumes: Zen Pencils: Cartoon Quotes from Inspirational Folks and Zen Pencils-Volume Two: Dream the Impossible Dream.

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image or title to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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Review of The Hub

The Hub is a new book-related blog I recently picked up on my feed reader. It is associated with the Young Adult Library Services Association, and therefore focuses on teen books. I found it when I was looking for information on the Time top 100 books for kids just published. It is a collective blog, with multiple people contributing to posts, and you’ll get multiple posts a day.

Post topics vary, and include:

  • book reviews (of course)
  • Monday morning polls, usually about interacting with your favorite teen lit character
  • award-winning or -nominated books in teen categories. They’re currently running a series on the Morris Award for nonfiction teen reads.
  • What Would They Read posts that suggest books that your favorite TV characters would be reading. I immediately had to go and read the list suggested for the Firefly cast. Now I have books for my own “To Read” list.

There’s lots of other posts coming across on the site. If you like YA and want to know the good stuff that’s out there, particularly in terms of diverse books (they are participating in the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign), check it out. I’m sure you’ll find something to add to your reading list, like I have.

*Links are to the latest example found on the Hub at the time of posting. I’m sure something has been published since then, so why don’t you go check out the site!

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Playing With Math

new_site_logo_4I’m doing something different today (it is Friday after all, the traditional “different” post day for me). I thought I’d share a quick link to an Incited funding campaign to an interesting book I found called Playing With Math. I’ve done a couple of Kickstarter campaigns, but this was the first I’ve supported on Incited. It seems to run on a similar principle as Kickstarter or IndieGoGo, but the project gets your funds whether or not they reach their goal.

body_Book_cover_for_uploadI found the book because I was looking around for some inspiration for our Fun Math Friday topics for this next year. Playing With Math sounded perfect. According to their website, “[w]hether you enjoy math and want materials that will help you share some math-love with your kids, or whether you fear and loathe math and need help getting over that hurdle so you won’t pass it on, Playing With Math will give you inspiration and lots of new ideas.” Sound like just what I was looking for. It looks like the book will be a combination of stories of how people have got others interested in math, puzzles, games, and other activities. I don’t have any more details than you can find if you follow the link. If you’re interested, head over to the website quickly because the campaign ends July 20th.

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Updated review of

diyWe’re down to our last few days of homeschooling for the year. The portfolios are done and we just have a few things left for the year. Since we’re winding down, there’s not much to report for a weekly wrap-up. Instead, I thought I’d update my review of since that review was written a year-and-a-half ago, and quite a bit has happened since then on the website.

They’ve added many skills – usually one a month or so. In fact, I just counted, and they have over 100 skills! There’s quite a wide variety. For example, the featured skills for this month include actor, jewelry designer, RCer, and philosopher. There’s something for everyone. One of my favorite aspects of the website are when Mr. Curiosity asks to go on the website and look for some inspiration, if he can’t come up with a project offhand. There’s lots of inspiration.

You have the ability to follow other makers, which means you get notifications any time they post a project. Like much social media, you can make comments and favorite posts. There are several moderators to make sure the kids don’t reveal information they shouldn’t or use inappropriate language.

The parental notifications are great. I get an email any time one of my kids puts up a project, and they’ve just added the ability to monitor comments. The parents have an account, so you can see everything the kids see.

20140218-PatchesThey’ve added a market to the site, with embroidered badges, toolkits, and gear (t-shirts, hats, and the like). We’ve actually purchased some of the badges. They’re quite high quality, and bigger than you’d think, with glue on the back. Both kids even made a nine-patch quilt square to display their patches.

The app is the easiest way to get images into DIY. Even so, we’ll sometimes move projects around on the website. If you want to put multiple images into one project, you have to use the website. Sometimes I’ll remind the kids they can put projects up that don’t explicitly fit a skill, but they prefer to upload projects that will help them earn a patch. After three projects within a skill, you earn a patch that will be displayed on your dashboard. If you do six projects within a skill, you master that skill. I’m not sure that gets you anything but bragging rights. Occasionally they’ll have season specific badges (in the past Darkness Engineer at Halloween and Summerologist in the summer), but usually all the skills are available all the time.

Overall, we’re still happy with the community. If you have a budding maker in the house, you should check it out!

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