Great Book Giveaways: Halo, Orson Scott Card and Tor Books!

Halo: Cryptum by Greg Bear

Tor.com is giving away some great books and other prizes today to celebrate the release of Halo: Cryptum by Greg Bear and The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card. These giveaways are only open for 24 hours, so hurry and join in the fun!

The first two giveaway are on their Facebook page. You must ‘Like’ the page before you can add comments:

I believe there are also instructions for entering these contests on Twitter, so feel free to try it that way if you prefer. I have never ‘tweeted’ in my life, and I have no plans to start now. After you’re done at Facebook (or Twitter) you can head over to Tor.com and click on ‘Community’ to visit their forums. That’s where you will find five more giveaways, and maybe more later. They’ve been posting them all morning.

The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card

And finally here’s one more book they are giving away that has nothing to do with Halo. It’s from the amazing author Orson Scott Card and it’s called The Lost Gate. Enter to win at the following link:

I’ve entered all of these contests myself and I hope you will too. Let me know if any of you become lucky winners!

Geargoyle

Book Review: Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (Publisher: Tor Teen)

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Little Brother (Published by Tor Teen) is the story of Marcus, an internet-savvy seventeen-year-old who’d rather ditch class and play augmented reality games than deal with the bullies and uptight administrators at his school all day. When he meets his friends in San Francisco to work out a new puzzle game, they find themselves in the worst possible place at the worst possible time. Caught in a terrorist attack that throws the city into chaos, the teens are taken into custody by Homeland Security as possible suspects. Locked away without a way to contact legal advice or their families, they are questioned for days before being released with strict instructions to remain silent about their experiences.

Marcus is a sharp young man, and the way he responds to his treatment makes this story remarkable. The attack on his town turns out to be just the beginning of his incredible adventures, and there are many fascinating characters he meets along the way. There are a lot of things to learn about security and privacy in this book, and I have been recommending it to everyone lately. As a warning, there are some mature themes included, so I’d suggest reading it yourself before letting a younger teen read it. Decide if it is appropriate, or if some of the content should be discussed before reading. You should know what your kids are ready to handle, and it’s better to have the conversations before problems arise.

This story sucked me in to a very timely and frightening glimpse of what our world could become. Marcus and his friends felt like real kids full of the worries and complexities we all face daily, even in the middle of an incredible crisis. Cory Doctorow’s rich storytelling and insights had me thinking deeply about this story and what our country has been struggling with for years now. There are a lot of conversations we (as a country) need to have about security, and lots of better answers we need to find.

One of the many things I love about this book is the fact you can read it for free. Cory Doctorow makes many of his books, writing and interviews available in multiple formats and in a wonderful array of languages on his website.  There’s also great information there about the best places to buy his books, including signed copies, so check there first if you want to order one for yourself or a friend. They also have a way to donate copies of his books to libraries that have requested them. Here’s a link to Donate Little Brother.  I’ve read most of the books available on this site, and I really enjoyed every one. If you enjoy compelling stories and real characters, give Little Brother a read.

Can you think of a book that really made you think about something in a new way? Share your recommendations in the comments below.

Geargoyle

What Could You Learn Today?

I want to share some fun sites with everyone today. I found some magazines and news sites, and others full of games and activities for kids. I believe in life-long learning; if I wasn’t always learning new things, I would be bored silly. Science and similar disciplines constantly evolve; languages are living things which change over time. Some of the things I learned in school about geography and genetics are already obsolete, and I like seeing where research and innovation are taking us.

Since I have kids in school, I also like keeping an eye out for great sites that encourage kids to be curious about science, engineering and other fascinating subjects. Games and videos are fun ways for kids to get extra study-time in. It’s been shown that it can be extremely beneficial to study in different ways and in different places to improve memory retention and recall. ( NY Times Article: Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits )

Here are reviews of five sites covering Math, Science, Engineering and Language Arts/Reading:

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eGFI (Engineering, Go For It!)

eGFI

This interactive magazine showcases careers like Engineering, Computer Science and Chemistry for middle and high school students. The site is creatively designed and fun to explore. It shows kids how the things they study can grow into incredible careers designing new products and materials. They can meet real students and engineers and read about the things they are creating. There are lots of links to help plan their education and find scholarship support as well.

I’m adding a link to one particular article I found on this site. It’s about 3-D printing, one of my current favorite subjects. My hubby recently became a certified technician for one of these printers, and my inner geek is über-excited about this kind of technology. I even have a copy of the gargoyle shown in this article sitting by my computer right now; it was a gift he brought home from his training seminar. Read more about 3-D printing here: http://students.egfi-k12.org/printing-in-3d-from-toys-to-organs/

The Discovery Channel & Discovery Kids

Discovery News is one of my favorite sites to check for info about animals, science and the world. Their site is full of articles and photos for all ages about things like space, technology, history, animals and more. Discovery Kids has lots of games and fun activities. They even have a section of videos and games devoted to yucky science, which can be a fun way to introduce science to reluctant kids.

Khan Academy

Khan Academy

This site is a powerful resource for studying Math from basic Arithmetic to Calculus, Differential Equations and Linear Algebra. They have over 1800 video lectures available for all kinds of different subjects. While Math is the primary focus, there are also lessons about Science, History, Finance and more. This is all free to use and community supported. Khan Academy was founded as a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization by MIT alum Salman Khan, who started recording his lessons as a way to help his cousins with their studies. His philanthropy is inspiring and I love the way he uses digital media to distribute his knowledge globally. They are adding self-paced testing for the subject matter designed by their users. I highly recommend this site to any student who feels they need extra help with their Math studies.

National Geographic & National Geographic for Kids

National Geographic has been full of fascinating articles and gorgeous photographs for as long as I can remember. I know as a kid I loved looking though them any time I was at the doctor’s office! Their online sites are just as much fun to visit. They are full of beautiful images and great information for adults and children. Their kids’ site features games, videos, stories and activities to encourage young explorers.

Scholastic & The Stacks (Scholastic for Kids)

The Stacks @ Scholastic

Reading was one of my first loves, and there’s little I enjoy more than losing myself in a new book. My family and my husband’s family are full of voracious readers. Books have a special place in my heart and I had to share at least one site about books in this list. The Stacks is packed with tons of great books and games based on popular children’s series like Deltora Quest and Goosebumps, even Captain Underpants. A person who enjoys reading can learn anything in the world. There’s information about everything available, almost all for free and online; but if you can’t read, you can’t benefit from it.

I hope you enjoy exploring some of these sites, and I look forward to hearing about fun places you’ve found online. Do you know a good museum site, or a site devoted to a special branch of study? Maybe one of your kids showed you some fun games they heard about at school? Share your links in our comments section, and have fun learning something new!

Geargoyle

An Update and Hints of What’s to Come…

Hello everyone,

I haven’t posted as much recently as I would have liked to, but it’s that season again. Not the holiday season, but the cold/flu season. With three kids in school and my dear hubby out at work almost every day, the carnival of assaults on my immune system is in full swing. Most of the time I’m a pretty healthy person, bad habits notwithstanding. But almost every time I’ve caught any kind of cold in the last so many years, it’s gone right into my sinuses and taken up residence. And almost every spring and fall I get my share of bugs. This is one of those times. I’m certainly not as sick as I could be; I’m up on my feet and puttering at the housework, but my focus for things like writing is simply lacking.

I do have some plans for upcoming posts I thought I would share with you in the meantime. First, I’ll be reviewing one of the books by Cory Doctorow that I’ve read recently, most likely Little Brother, though I’ve enjoyed so many of his works. Another topic I want to cover soon is Net Neutrality, because I feel protecting the open internet is vital to our freedoms of speech, thought and trade. When the ‘Net was first created, no one could have imagined what it would be useful for. And I think we have only just begun to see what the free flow of information can do for us as a global people. I was born just shortly before ARPANET was introduced to the public. The Internet and I grew up as childhood friends, and I would hate to see it squeezed and shredded by corporate interests and government mismanagement into a phantom of what it could be.

I’m following the responses to NASA’s arsenic-loving bacteria story with interest. (Read my article here) The skepticism I’m hearing from other scientists really doesn’t surprise me. “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,” as Carl Sagan so beautifully put it. It will take the work of many more scientists and independent researchers to verify what Felisa Wolfe-Simon and her team believe they have observed. Whichever way it goes, we should learn from it, but I am hopeful that their initial theories will bear scrutiny. It’s a really exciting potential. And as an amusing aside, I heard that the team’s name for their discovery, GFAJ-1 stands for “Give Felisa A Job” which really tickles my funny bone. ( Wall Street Journal article )

With luck I’ll be well and back to posting more soon!

Geargoyle

Saturday Share: Things 90s Kids Realize

Things 90s Kids Realize

Things 90s Kids Realize

For the weekends I may not write as much, so I thought I’d just share something quick and entertaining for a cold cloudy Saturday. A good friend linked this blog full of wonderful memories called Things 90s Kids Realize. I am not a child of the 90s, but two of my kids are, and I found a lot of laughs and memories flipping through the posts here. It’s full of great shows, books, movies and more. There’s some great observations and surprises to learn, and now there’s a ton of great old stuff I want to track down to watch again. Thanks Netflix and Hulu, I’m thinking I just might kick my cable to the curb soon, it really doesn’t entertain me half as well.

Enjoy the LOLs,

Geargoyle

New Book: Company Girl by Rachel Anne Ridge

Company Girl by Rachel Anne Ridge

Company Girl by Rachel Anne Ridge

Rachel Anne Ridge at HomeSanctuary.com has announced her new book “Company Girl” just in time for Christmas!  I’ve been reading Rachel’s blog for quite a while and she shares wonderfully creative articles about her home, business and life every week. Her “company girl” idea, as I understand it, expresses how everything in life is more fun when we have someone joining in alongside us, just “for company”. Her blog lets people from all over join her in that exact spirit, sharing friendship and sisterhood across the Net. What she does with her art is amazing, and I’m sure this book will be beautiful!

Click here to see: “Company Girl” @ HomeSanctuary.com

Geargoyle

Company Girl Coffee @ HomeSanctuary.comClick here to join Rachel Anne Ridge and the rest of her “Company Girls” for Coffee!

Characters of Fiction

A friend tagged me with this on FB and I thought for fun I’d share my answers here. I might move this sort of thing into an ‘about me’ section later. It was kind of hard to stop after 15, I’m sure I could keep going for days with all the characters that have inspired me over the years. Feel free to join in posting this as a note on your FB or on your blog.

Rules:
Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen fictional characters (television, films, plays, books) who’ve influenced you and that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes. Tag at least fifteen friends, including me, because I’m interested in seeing what characters my friends choose. (To do this, go to your Notes tab on your profile page, paste rules in a new note, cast your fifteen picks, and tag people in the note.)

1. Lestat de Lioncourt (Interview With a Vampire, etc.)
2. Vanyel Ashkeveron (The Last Herald Mage Trilogy)
3. Dr. Who
4. Darth Maul (Star Wars)
5. Richard B. Riddick (Pitch Black, etc.)
6. Dracula
7. Richard Cypher (Sword of Truth series)
8. Grendel – all incarnations (Grendel comics)
9. Q (Star Trek)
10. Ayla (Earth’s Children series)
11. Major Motoko Kusanagi (Ghost in the Shell)
12. Animal (The Muppets)
13. Nightcrawler (X-Men comics)
14. Jarod (The Pretender)
15. River Tam (Firefly)

Geargoyle