Trailer for Con Man by Alan Tudyk

This just looks amazing. Love! Love! Love! The people they got to cameo in this is amazing. :)

Toy Like Me Campaign, Make-unders on Bratz Dolls, And Inclusive Doll Play

On Facebook the other day I saw a link about wonderful company called Makies which creates customisable dolls, with “inclusive accessories to represent everyone. Create your Makie and choose their accessories!” (bolding in original text). You can read more about the company on this article by 3dprint.com.

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What a great response to a need. Something inclusive and beautifully produced. While the girls do have very similar face and eye shapes, I like that the skin tone and hair is different for each of the dolls. I also am really happy at the girl like nature of the dolls rather than overdoing on make up and hyper-sexualization that can happen with children’s playthings.

In fact, one woman gives broken Bratz a new life with a make-under, new clothes, and sometimes new limbs. Sonia Singh refurbishes Bratz creatures she finds at thrift stores into recognizable dolls. She repaints their faces to look more like a child’s face and between her and her mother fashion clothing that is cute and more closely resembles child play clothes. You can read more about her Tree Change Dolls here.

'I found this ex-Bratz doll at the Margate tip shop in Tassie,' Ms Singh wrote, 'She was definitely ready for a tree change! I have re-painted her face, sewn overalls, moulded new shoes, and re-conditioned her hair. Her top is hand knitted by my Mum!'

If I knew how to paint the faces back on, I would start doing this for my nieces. I love the re-purposing of items that the Tree Change Dolls represent. Plus, this woman does such an amazing transformation that it is just incredible. Please go to the link provided and check out more of them. They are just too adorable!

One of my sisters has opted to buy her girls Calico Critters to play with instead of barbies. I do think the critters are cute and their accessories are adorable. But I really like that there is a new wave of inclusive toys that look like the children who are playing with them.

Calico Critters Norwood Mouse Family

 

I do wish there were more male dolls out there that weren’t hyper-sexualized. Hopefully that will become a trend that catches on as well. Learning caring and nurturing skills is just as important for boys, and giving them dolls (not just baby dolls) that look like them also an important step in inclusive doll play. Read this wonderful story about a mother who taught her three boys how caring for a baby doll is an important part of their growth as men. She read them a book called William’s Doll, had a discussion with them, and then a doll diapering, feeding, and bathing instruction time.

Audio Book Review: Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor

Audio Book Review of Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor read by Khristine Hvam is the third and final book in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy. I really liked the first two books in this series and when I saw it was available as an audiobook I snatched it up and devoured it. Not as quickly as I liked though as it is a long book running at 18 hr., 08 min., 28 sec.

Dreams of Gods & Monsters: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Book 3

Summary from Amazon:

What power can bruise the sky?

Two worlds are poised on the brink of a vicious war. By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera’s rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her.

When the brutal angel emperor brings his army to the human world, Karou and Akiva are finally reunited–not in love, but in tentative alliance against their common enemy. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves.

But with even bigger threats on the horizon, are Karou and Akiva strong enough to stand among the gods and monsters?

The New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy comes to a stunning conclusion as–from the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond–humans, chimaera, and seraphim strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.

While I really liked the first two books in the series, I am enthralled with the third book. It is of epic proportions and story telling might. You can read my review of Daughter of Smoke & Bone and Days of Blood & Starlight at the links provided. This is definitely a series that needs to be read in order or you will get lost. In fact I had not read Days of Blood & Starlight in quite a while and I had a bit of trouble in the beginning catching up to the story line, but I soon did and listened every chance I got.

What I love about the series are all the amazing and strong female characters that are quite a bit different from each other, that lean on each other for support instead of back stabbing each other, and go forth into the universe with their own path to walk, not because they are chasing after a boy. Though there are quite a few complex male characters as well, and the story does have its romances which play into the paths that the female characters choose for themselves.

Also, I’m in love with the voice over actor, Khristine Hvam. She is simply wonderful and I wish I had read all of the books via audiobook just to hear her say the words and work the character voices and accents. She told the story beautifully and captivatingly. Gah! If it wasn’t being automatically returned to the library tomorrow and the second book in my queue due back in two days, I would listen to it again! In fact, I think I need to hunt down some other series that she has read…… OK. Getting back to the task at hand.

The Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy is a wonderful story full of otherworldly creatures, but centered around universal themes of love, betrayal, life, death, rebirth, and hope. If you enjoy stories with strong female characters and interesting world building, check out this trilogy. And if you like audiobooks or want to give them a try I would highly recommend the audio version of this series.

Audiobook Review: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

In search again for a series that I could enjoy listening to, I decided to give The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Oz Series, Book 1 a radio dramatization by The Colonial Radio Theatre a try. I read the books when I was younger, but it has been a while. I remember liking the first few quite a bit, and then petering off as the author, L. Frank Baum, got heavier and heavier handed with his message to the reader. The version by The Colonial Radio Theatre was adapted for the dramatization by Jerry Robbins, performed by Jerry Robbins and The Colonial Radio Players.

Cover of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Summary from Brilliance Audio:

One of the true classics of American literature. Originally published in 1900, it was the first truly American fairy tale, as Baum crafted a wonderful fantasy, peopled with memorable characters — a cornfield scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and a humbug wizard. Follow the adventures of young Dorothy Gale and her dog, Toto, as their Kansas house is swept away by a cyclone and they find themselves in a strange land called Oz. Here she meets the Munchkins and joins the Scarecrow, the Tinman, and the Cowardly Lion on an unforgettable journey to the Emerald City.

Jerry Robbins did a fair job with his adaption for dramatization. I felt it closely resembled the book, at least from what I can remember. Which may surprise some people as the movie definitely veered away in some aspects. I also quite enjoyed the multiple voice over actors speaking the different parts, that is always far more enjoyable I find. I did have a hard time with the minimization of narration. Often the characters would say things I thought would be better suited for a narration. It was more like a play with a small narrator part than a book being read.

Of course as a dramatization by a theater group, I probably should have expected this. Perhaps, it is because I have Neil Gaiman’s, American Gods on constant repeat as I fall asleep, but I expect a great deal from dramatizations and voice over acting. I find very few productions live up to that particular audiobook. A book that I have found a greater and greater appreciation for the more times I listen to it. You can read my review here.

If you are looking for a family friendly fun theater dramatization of first book in The Wizard of Oz series The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as radio dramatized by The Colonial Radio Theatre is an excellent choice. Plus they did several books in the series, which I may eventually get back to when I’m done with my current selections.

AudioBook Review: A Living Nightmare Cirque Du Freak: The Saga of Darren Shan

I decided to listen to A Living Nightmare because the whole series is available as audiobooks from the library and I was really hoping to pick up a new series that I could fall in love with. While an entertaining frolic about a freak circus and vampires, I didn’t realize that A Living Nightmare Cirque Du Freak by Darren Shan, read by Ralph Lister was about a 12 year old. Yet again, another series geared towards a younger audience than I was anticipating. But I gave it a shot because the story line was interesting and I did enjoy listening as Darren Shan (yes, it is supposedly a “true story”) recounts a living nightmare.

Cover of A Living Nightmare

Summary from Audiobooks.com:

In the tradition of Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, and Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot, New York Times bestseller Cirque du Freak is the first title in the popular Saga of Darren Shan series.

Darren Shan and his best friend, Steve, get tickets to the Cirque du Freak, a wonderfully gothic freak show featuring weird, frightening half human / half animals who interact terrifyingly with the audience. In the midst of the excitement, true terror raises its head when Steve recognizes that one of the performers—Mr. Crepsley—is a vampire!

Steve confronts the vampire after the show finishes—but his motives are surprising! In the shadows of a crumbling theater, a horrified Darren eavesdrops on his friend and the vampire, and is witness to a monstrous, disturbing plea. As if by destiny, Darren is pulled to Mr. Crepsley and what follows is his horrifying descent into the dark and bloody world of vampires.

This is Darren’s story.

While I wish I had read the synopsis online before starting this book, I did end up enjoying the book to a degree. And unlike Salem’s Lot, which I have yet to finish because it puts me to sleep so well, I found the story fast paced enough to stay engaged.

I enjoyed that Darren had to deal with the consequences of his decisions to sneak or one night and see a freak show and then steal something he read incapable of handling. I suffered a lot of anxiety for Darren and I do wish the author had made him a little older. It’s a tad frightening the aftermath of his rebellion. I don’t think he handled things well because he was so young and I prefer to see role models than immature kids when I read young adult series. But since this is a series, I will assume Darren does some maturing eventually. I’m not sure I’ll stick with the series to see that though.

The voice acting was good. It probably was what kept me engaged enough to finish the book. So kudos to Ralph Lister.

A decent children’s book with mature themes, A Living Nightmare Cirque de Freak will be interesting to those who enjoy slow build ups, bad decisions by the main character, and frightening vampires.

Mocking Jay Part 2 Trailer

Even though it is months and months and months away, I am now completely psyched!

eAudiobook Review: The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel Series

After two years of not being able to borrow eaudiobooks from the library, I now have gained access to the libraries free titles of wonderful books read to me as I’m driving my horrible commute every morning and evening. I’ve always wanted to read The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series by Michael Scott and when I saw it was available, I jumped at the chance to check out the first book in the series, The Alchemyst as read by Denis O’Hare

The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, Book 1 | [Michael Scott]

Summary from Audible:

He holds the secret that can end the world.

The truth: Nicholas Flamel was born in Paris on September 28, 1330. Nearly 700 years later, he is acknowledged as the greatest alchemist of his day. It is said that he discovered the secret of eternal life. The records show that he died in 1418. But his tomb is empty.

The legend: Nicholas Flamel lives. But only because he has been making the elixir of life for centuries. The secret of eternal life is hidden within the book he protects, the Book of Abraham the Mage. It’s the most powerful book that has ever existed. In the wrong hands, it will destroy the world. That’s exactly what Dr. John Dee plans to do when he steals it. Humankind won’t know what’s happening until it’s too late. And if the prophecy is right, Sophie and Josh Newman are the only ones with the power to save the world as we know it. Sometimes legends are true.

And Sophie and Josh Newman are about to find themselves in the middle of the greatest legend of all time.

When I started this book I didn’t realize it would be so focused on Sophie and Josh. It was a bit more young than adult, young adult. But overall a very enjoyable read.

Some of the plot points were predictable, I did, however, enjoy the author’s tweeting of history based on the knowledge that magic and alchemy exist in this universe. I also enjoyed the magical world of spells and auras and hidden shadow realms.

Denis O’Hare was a decent voice actor. He had several accents, pitches,and character voices. It was slightly difficult to tell the voices of Sophie and Josh apart, but other than that, a really fun story to listen to.

I do want to read a few more books in the series because I have found most authors improve with time and the parts I found a little young may disappear as the kids age and the series grows. At the moment, though, it’s a bit hard to think of pushing forward with a series I found a tad young and predictable.