Poisons. Betrayal. Murder most foul.

The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag, Alan Bradley With Flavia de Luce, Bradley has created a compelling new detective: a mercurial (wouldn’t Flavia appreciate that adjective?), hot-tempered, brilliant child with the chemical know-how and vocabulary of a postdoc. Astride her bicycle Gladys, Flavia boils through her sleepy town, left to her own devices by … Continue reading Poisons. Betrayal. Murder most foul.

Victory for the underdogs!

Black sheep, dark horses, underdogs. We like it when a rag-tag squad of these figurative animals rock it out, whatever “it” is that they love (team sports, civil rights issues, and improbable missions are all good bets). Today’s 212-word review discusses a delightful YA novel about four eclectic, very charming child champions. Plus, there’s trivia. Who doesn’t like trivia?

The View from Saturday, E. L. Konigsburg

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12 days to the future!

And we know what the future holds: robots, teleporting, shiny silver outfits, and immersive gaming! My future also holds a trampoline hallway leading to a room with a mattress floor and retractable glass ceiling. What do you look forward to in the future?

Today’s 212-word book review is of an early young adult novel that takes place in the future, mainly inside a video game.

Heir Apparent, Vivian Vande Velde

***Warning: Contains huge spoilers about the denouement!***

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Secret snowflakes and mistaken identities

Today’s post is full of mystery.

In my office, the junior staff have an annual wintry tradition called Secret Snowflake. It’s like a non-denominational Secret Santa with extra nerdiness. First, a SAS program (SAS is a statistical analysis software package) randomly assigns each participant a Secret Snowflake and generates an automated email informing each person of their assignment. Then, without revealing his/her target, the Snowflake must acquire a thoughtful gift for $4.26 or less. The price limit is meant to forcibly generate creativity without financial strain. Believe it or not, $4.26 constitutes a 54% increase from last year.

Here’s what I cobbled together with my $4.76:


  • A windup “Panic Attack Dino” that skitters around in a frenzy ($2.99)
  • Lake Champlain milk chocolate with almonds and sea salt ($0.79)
  • Six off-brand crayons (technically, $0.44; I bought a whole box for $1.99, but I’ll keep the rest)
  • Coloring “book” (printed for free at office; shhh!)

I put these all in a Tube of Fun (tube also free from office paper towels).


The dino didn’t quite fit so he is anxiously waving his feet aloft.

Then I printed out vintage photographic plates and diagrams of snowflake crystalline structures, with which my officemates and I merrily adorned our gifts.


At the celebration, I was the delighted recipient of a set of STRAWZ, or “Connectible [sic] Drinking Straws,” with which I hope to drink many an exciting beverage! They’re pictured here with my last-year’s Secret Snowflake gift,  coincidentally also straw-related! The 2011 Secret Snowflake gift, a Sip-N-Spoon (or, as I like to call it, the Stroon), is a hollow spoon with holes on each end. Perhaps intended for cold cereal consumption, but it’s also been great for smoothies.

secret snowflake IV

Now, on to the 212-word book review. Have you ever wondered what happens when a baby is accidentally switched at birth in the hospital? What about when that baby is a twin?

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Fontlove: 16 days to 2013!

Today, I finished submitting all my graduate school applications, and celebrated with an exquisite slice of buttered sourdough toast. Now it really feels like the holidays!

Sourdough toast is one of my favorite simple foods. It takes so little effort to execute perfectly, but I truly enjoy every bite. It also goes well with several of my other favorite simple foods – the runny fresh poached egg, the summer peach…

Anyway, this post is actually about something else I love, and that’s font. Though I’ve always liked books, it took me awhile to realize the importance of how books are designed and printed in the way we receive them as readers. This has come up over and over again in my life, from the high school graphic design project and the college book arts class, to writing and proofreading in my daily life, to some of the thickly academic sociocultural literacy theory I’ve waded through in classrooms. I guess I just love words.

To the review!
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