Monthly Archives: January 2016

Book Reviews: The Magic School Bus Series for Early Readers

The Wild Whale Watch is one of many in the Magic School Bus series. The crazy field trips in Ms. Frizzle’s science class always involve magic, science and fun.

On thisDSC_0048 trip, the class learns all about whales. The journey is fun for the reader and fun facts are learned about whales.

The illustrations and format breaks up the information into bite sized pieces that avoids early reader overload. There is a lot of information, but all of it is easily read, interestingly changing formats.

Things I learned about whales that I didn’t know are:

* Each type of whale has a different blow pattern
* Flukes are different for each type of whale
* Narwhals are actually whales

Voyage to the Volcano is another book in the Magic School Bus series.

Kilauea at night

Kilauea at night

In this science based chapter book, the kids and Ms. Frizzle head out in the Magic School Bus to Hawaii to learn all about volcanoes.

It is formatted like the other books in the series. This one has illustrations and sidebars that look like notebook paper reports written by the kids in the class.

In this adventure the bus turns into a raft, a helicopter and a submarine to take the young readers along on a fun trip. Learning about volcanoes on the land and under the sea becomes an interesting and sometimes scary adventure that will have your kids turning the pages to find out what happens next.

We were fortunate enough to see Kilauea at night while on Hawaii – it is amazing! If you are planning a trip with a grade school age child, this book would be a wonderful way to introduce them to the wonder of volcanoes.

This series is a great way to teach children about the world around them. It encourages looking for answers by asking questions and going to other sources to find out how and why.

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Filed under Book Review, books, children's books, Early Chapter Books, Hawaii, Science

Writing and Illustrating Opportunities

This blog is a great resource, so I wanted to share with all of you writers and illustrators that might be interested 🙂

Source: Writing and Illustrating Opportunities

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WIP Wednesday – Knitting 2016


When the new year begins I like to start a fresh to-do list for my knitting and crochet projects. I usually start out overly ambitious with a list longer than my arm. Some years I only get done up to my elbow, but that’s ok. I’m a gal that likes a plan, but don’t mind changing/altering/deleting the plan for a different plan when the need arises.

The first project I am working on is a pair of socks. The pattern is out of a book one of my son’s got me for Christmas, Socktopus by Alice Yu. It is called Om Shanti. I used 2 size 2 Addi circulars, making both at the same time until I got to the leg (these are toe up). Now I’ve divided them because the pattern calls for moving the stitches from needle to needle to jog the pattern. The yarn is some fabulous hand dyed Merino Superwash Wool in a beautifil colorway called Arizona Turquoise. I think they are working up really nicely and hope to finish them this week.

Arizona socks


So far I’ve been asked to make an adorable  Viking Hat for a friend’s new baby. I’m using this pattern: Viking Set – Viking Hat, Diaper Cover and Club by JTcreations check it out on Ravelry.

One of the gals at work asked me to make her a pair of socks. I’m going to use my favorite “plain” sock pattern that uses sport or DK wt yarn because she wants them to wear around the house when it is cold. You can find it here: Moda Dea LM0131, Knitted Socks. I’ve picked up some really soft washable yarn at Hobby Lobby that is part acrylic, part alpaca. I plan to start them when I finish my Christmas socks.

For the NICU unit this Easter, I plan to make these adorable Lamb Hats, the pattern was designed by Sarah Zimmerman. I won’t make the flaps or ties because they might get in the way since these babies have a lot going one.

© Repeat Crafter Me

I’m going to teach a Lunch & Learn class at work for anyone that wants to learn how to knit. Because we want the participants to make progress quickly, I searched for a pattern for a simple garter stitch scarf. Luckily I remembered Susie at our knitting night working on a cowl on huge needles. She is a new knitter and has whipped up 11 of them since November! She shared the pattern, which is just 10 stitches on size 50 (yes, you read it right) needles using super-bulky yarn. You work with 2 strands of yarn and it zips up super quick. I made a sample in a couple of hours today. As cold as it is here today, I could use this fluffy warm cowl to keep my face and neck warm. 🙂
Other misc projects I will get rolling on will be NICU hats for Christmas and either Thanksgiving or Halloween. Most likely they will be crocheted because they work up faster.
There will be a few Christmas gifts and I’d like to make a few more of the sock patterns that are in Socktopus. I certainly have a wide variety of yarns in my stash that I can use.
And of course my annual WIP. Seriously, I only have to do the one cuff ribbing and the neck ribbing on my brown sweater. I seriously am going to finish it. I have one sock to make to complete the plain black pair I started last February AND the afghans that I have had part of the squares completed for over a hear. As a matter of fact, I used part of the yarn for another project.
What do you plan to make this year?




Filed under baby hats, Crafts, Crocheting, Easter, Knitting, NICU, Ravelry, socks, WIP Wednesday, yarn

Introducing 2016 Picture Book Debut Author Robin Newman

Source: Introducing 2016 Picture Book Debut Author Robin Newman

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WIP Wednesday Christmas 2015 Projects

This was a busy and fun Christmas season. My favorite handmade gift was a joint effort. My husband made this beautiful doll bunk bed for my cousin’s little girl. I might have posted a pic earlier before I completed the bedding in her favorite color (purple) and of course Anna and Elsa comforters and pillows finished the gift.

Ella's doll bed

She really liked it 🙂 I highly recommend going over to Ana White’s website ( . That is where I found this pattern and many others I am going to try and talk the hubby into making. 🙂


I made 5 cabled ear warmers for my best friend to give for Christmas as well as 2 more for one of my work friends. They turned out nicely and I decided to make an additional one for myself. I used this pattern: Braided Cabled Ear Warmer by Jessika Cates, and you can see more pics on my Ravelry site, I’m “writeknit”.

2 earwamers done

This one is mine, made from the alpaca/wool blend that I bought when we visited the local Alpaca Farm last fall.


As a joke, I made these fun shark slippers from this pattern Crocheted Shark Slipper Socks by Stacie L. Ratcliff. My girlfriend’s daughter jokingly asked for them for Christmas, so the least I could do is crochet them for her! They are fun and from what I heard warm. LOL

Shark slippers

Here is a side view:

Shark detail


I made my father-in-law’s annual flannel shirt. It is the 36th Christmas therefore, the 36th shirt. Honestly, it is the only thing he wants, so that is what he gets 🙂 The 2016 shirt will be made on the new sewing machine my hubby got me this year (read this in a VERY excited voice). I use the same pattern since 1980, but this will be the fourth sewing machine in as many years.

damn shirt 2015

My cousin’s scarf has been on my blog before because she isn’t on FB to see it. She really liked it so that made me happy also.

Becky's scarf complete

This year’s NICU hats numbered 31. I also made a Santa hat for the nurse that works in the unit as well as a Santa hat for my son’s godson. Here are all the hats before we delivered them.

NICU hats on tree

Last by not least, I wanted to make little snowflake ornaments for my family. I saw one at work, so I had a general idea as to what I was going to do, but it took a few tries with patterns that didn’t work out for me to finally write a simple pattern myself.

I began with a 2 inch tin with a removable top that that is clear. Next I worked up the pattern with sport wt yarn just a bit smaller so it was snug to pull over the tin. I blocked it dry then sprayed the heck out of it with spray starch, sprinkled with glitter, then let dry over night. Full disclosure, the first one I couldn’t wait for it to dry, so I used my blow dryer, which worked like a charm.

Ornament 2015

The hardest part was finding the perfect picture for each of my aunts and cousins that would fit in the 2 inch “window” nicely. The hubby helped scan them then I got each one cut and inserted into the tin, added the snowflake and a bow on the top. Here is one of the finished ornaments. This was for my Great-Aunt Kathie, the picture is of her mom and dad, my Great-Grandma and Grandpa.


Here are more of them. By the time I got done making them, I was really loving the pattern. Lucky for me I made notes, because I’ll never remember how I did it next year if I decide to make more. I think I am going to write it up and offer it as a free pattern if anyone is interested.


I was going to list my works in progress, but honestly, you all have to be tired of reading this by now. So, next Wednesday I’ll share my anticipated project list for 2016. I know for sure it will include at least 2 pr of socks, NICU hats, teaching a Lunch & Learn cowl at work and other adventures with yarn.

What are you hoping to get done this year?




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Book Review: Caught Dead by Andrew Lanh – Magnificent Multicultural Mystery

Caught-Dead-cover-70x106Caught Dead – A Rick Van Lam Mystery

Andrew Lanh

Private eye Rich Van Lam is a man with no country and two countries. Being the son of a Vietnamese woman and a U.S. soldier living in Hartford, Connecticut isn’t easy. He isn’t always accepted by the Americans, not even the father he has never met. As a matter of fact, he doesn’t even know his father’s name.

The large Vietnamese community shuns him, distrustful of the mixed race man who they feel has forgotten his heritage and is considered “one of the dust” to them. The forgotten offspring the military left in Vietnam when they came home from the war.

But now they are calling him to help solve the murder of one of the most loved members of the Vietnamese community. Mary Le Vu is found dead in an area that no person, unless they are looking for a drug deal or hooker would be caught dead. Yet that is exactly where Mary is murdered.

Van Lam and his partner Hank Nguyen begin the difficult job of talking to families and friends that don’t fully trust either man. The only way they are getting any information is through the doors Nguyen can open due to the fact he is full-blooded Vietnamese.

Just when the case starts to move forward, Mary’s sister is murdered. Is this a family vendetta? The same person must be responsible for these deaths, but there aren’t many connections between the women. Sure, they spend time together, tell each other secrets and obviously are related. But one sister is poor, the other is rich. One leads a life of service, the other “hosts” fundraisers. Both have children that are troubled at best, worst case they might be criminal. More questions arise the deeper the PIs dig.


The twists and turns kept me reading late into the night to see what else was going to happen. The struggle Van Lam has trying to establish his identity within the Vietnamese community is both heartwarming and sad.  Lanh brings this conflict into the story with beautifully haunting prose, “…the man would never like me, I knew, blaming me for the death of his serene life in the old homeland…”.

I wanted to read this book quickly because the mystery intrigued me, but the beauty of the words made me slow down to enjoy it more. I really enjoyed Lanh’s easy style of writing that tells the reader volumes with his perfectly chosen narrative. Both Van Lam and Nguyen are likeable, fallible characters that I can’t wait to read about again.

Caught Dead is the first book in this series. The second of the series, Return to Dust has been added to my reading list.

Copyright © 2016 Laura Hartman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.


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Book Review: Adrenaline – Medical Thriller Keeps You Guessing to the Last Page


John Benedict

Hospitals are institutions of healing. Not all patients can be saved, but the vast majority of patients are healed. In our current society, minor operations are considered routine.  Modern medicine trains doctors, nurses and techs with techniques and surgeries that were unheard of only a few years ago, and new strides are being made every day. This is true at most hospitals, including the setting of Adrenaline, Mercy Hospital.

Things are changing at Mercy Hospital. A merger is eminent and there may be cutbacks resulting in lost jobs for many areas, including anesthesiology. Depending upon the way the merge goes, the affect could be devastating to their department Dr. Doug Landry, one of the best in the department, feels a prickle of fear in the back of his mind whenever it is discussed.

Then patients begin dying in the O.R. during routine procedures. Seemingly healthy patients going in for minor surgeries are reacting badly to the anesthesia. The doctors are following all procedures, monitoring the patients carefully and pulling out all the stops when things go south, but nothing seems to be working.

Behind the scenes, these doctors, like many other humans have secrets. One is a sexual predator. He preys upon young interns and nurses abusing those who don’t have the power to fight him.

Another is not happy at home. Things have become routine, so when he gets encouragement from a co-worker, he might break more than one vow he has made.

Drugs have tempted another one. Will he risk his career and possibly his life to feed that monster?

Landry is at the center of all of this commotion. He isn’t perfect, but quickly figures out something is going on and it is a deadly game. As he works feverously trying to catch the person sabotaging the anesthesia department, which has resulted in the death of more than one patient, he finds himself in mortal danger. His race against time has become a race against life and death.

Adrenaline is Dr. John Benedict’s first novel. Appropriately named, it ramps up from a mysterious happening in the O.R. to a heart pounding conclusion.

I really liked the fast paced style of this novel. The sheer number of suspects kept me guessing until the final chapters. Benedict, who is a practicing anesthesiologist, brings all of his expertise to the pages to draw the readers into the O.R. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series, The Edge of Death.


Copyright © 2016 Laura Hartman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

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