Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

product: Big G slicker brush April 4, 2019

Filed under: poodles — Shawn L. Bird @ 8:42 pm
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Professional products produce professional results.

If you have a poodle or a poodle cross (doodles, etc) then the dog’s coat likely needs daily brushing to ensure a healthy coat and to avoid the matting that means the dog has to be shaved down.

Wimpy pet store slicker brushes brush the top of the coat, but don’t get down to the skin if the coat is longer than half an inch.  Enter the Chris Christiansen Big G slicker brush.  This brush has transformed my life!

My miniature poodle is in a modified (short) continental clip with a big jacket.  The Big G allows me to brush him to the skin and keep him matt free. I brush (always mist the hair as you brush, to avoid breakage!) then comb for a velvet, professional look.

I highly recommend this product!

You can order it from professional grooming supply stores, but Amazon has it as well!

( I’m an Amazon Affiliate. Click the photo to be taken to the Amazon page for this brush.)

 

Review: Shadow Between Us March 6, 2019

I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley.

I have read all of Carol Mason’s books, so I was delighted to have the opportunity to review this book which is scheduled for release the end of March 2019.

Carol writes “Women’s Fiction.” In other words, stories about women’s lives, beyond a basic romance story. In Shadow Between Us, she explores her deepest fear.  What if the worst thing you can imagine happened to you?  How would you cope?

Protagonist Olivia copes by abandoning husband and home in Seattle and holing up in the charming port town of Port Townsend, WA, where she meets a young veteran maimed in Afghanistan.  I was glued to the e-reader working out the clues.  What has happened?  Why has Olivia left her husband?  Will they get back together?  Why isn’t her daughter talking to her?  Will she stay in Port Townsend?

So much mystery! So much tension!

No spoilers here.  Let’s just say, I didn’t see it coming, which is always great.   It was a thoroughly enjoyable read.

I am an Amazon Affiliate, so if you buy from that link, I get a commission.

 

Review- Art of the Fold February 21, 2019

Filed under: book reviews,Poetry,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 9:16 pm
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A fantastic resource for poets and book artists to make beautiful chapbooks.

I have a writer-artist friend on Pender Island who posted this book that she got for Christmas. I was so impressed that I bought a copy of my own!  With great thanks to Andrea Spalding, I’m delighted to share this book with you.

Hedi Kyle & Ulla Warchol have compiled a variety of techniques in Art of the Fold.  This is a GORGEOUS book! It will teach you how to make amazing folded art books that you can use with beautiful papers to create stunning, one of a kind, art books for your poetry and other special words.  Here’s a video of me showing some of the little practice books I made, while learning the techniques, with a peak at the book itself.

 

The beauty of this book is how Kyle and Warchol give you the bones of the books, but the scope of how you can apply the examples to make your own project is unlimited.  I am SO excited to buy special paper and make some lovely art books to give to special people in my world.  What a great resource for learning techniques of book folding.  I am so excited to use these with my English students!

You can buy Art of the Fold on Amazon, and you really should!

(I’m an Amazon Affiliate, so buying from the link gives me a penny or two for the recommendation).

(My dog decided to wrestle his bed all over the living room while I was recording the video , excuse his enthusiastic growls and brief appearances in the background! lol He finally abandoned it against a chair. Silly boy.)

 

Review- The Emotion Thesaurus 2nd ed. January 27, 2019

Millions of people want to write books. A few of them will actually start writing. A few of those will finish writing.  If you’re stranded between starting and finishing, sadly aware that you’re missing something, then Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi could be your salvation.

Ackerman and Puglisi have created a series of thesauri that help writers develop powerful, engaging characters and settings.  These non-traditional tools can help a writer find new angles, depth, and vocabulary for what they want to convey.   I have a few of them, both for my personal reference and for my creative writing classes.  I was delighted with the opportunity to see their latest release, in exchange for a fair review.

The latest tool in the arsenal is a re-vamp of the first thesaurus.  The Emotion Thesaurus 2nd edition has almost doubled the first edition.  There are articles on how and why to use various emotions, as well as 55 more emotions to examine.

The articles are clear and easy to apply.  I will be using “Emotion and Dialogue” with my creative writing students.

Each emotion entry provides

  • a definition
  • a long list of physical signals and behaviours of the emotion in action
  • internal responses to the emotion
  • mental responses to the emotion
  • acute or long-term impacts of the emotion
  • signs that the emotion is being suppressed
  • where it may escalate or de-escalate
  • power verbs associated with the emotion.

Now, sure, you would probably be able to figure out a lot of these areas if you contemplated long and hard, but more likely you’d settle for the first few things that occured to you, and miss a variety of points that would add depth to your characterization.  While you were thinking, you wouldn’t be writing more on the story.

When you find a sign of an emotion that you’d never considered, and it gives you new directions  at the same time, you’ve struck gold.  It leads to plot points you may not have considered. I will make good use of this book.

The Emotion Thesaurus 2nd edition is a valuable tool to help writers save time, develop depth, and learn more about their characters.  Highly recommended for your writers’ toolbox!

Visit their website to explore the entry for schadenfreude as an example of what you can expect.

You can buy The Emotion Thesaurus 2nd ed. at the usual sites.  If you use the link at left, I earn a bit as an Amazon Affiliate.

 

 

Reviewing Playing with Matches July 17, 2012

Filed under: book reviews — Shawn L. Bird @ 4:50 pm
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Playing with Matches by Brian KatcherPlaying with Matches by Brian Katcher

Another winner by author Brian Katcher, whose male narrators ring so true.  Katcher has dealt with the complexities of relationships as he examines lust and friendship amid dreams and realities.  In this book, while lusting over the cheer-leader he’s adored since elementary, the main character makes friends with the burn victim who has been the butt of jokes and ignored for years.  Of course, just when their relationship amps up, the cheerleader takes an interest at last.  Confusion, hurt, and angst are common ingredients in fiction for teens, just as it is in their real lives.  Katcher handles it all expertly, revealing the sad truth that there are no easy solutions.

It occurs to me, that aside from Diana Gabaldon, I haven’t been this impressed with an author in a long time.  I think I should get in touch with Katcher and see if we can arrange an interview for this blog.  I want to know more about him.

Hey Brian, if you see this, send me a note on shawn (dot) bird (at) ymail (dot) com and let’s set something up!  🙂

 

Review- Lost in Spaaaaaaain July 11, 2012

Filed under: book reviews — Shawn L. Bird @ 11:52 am
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Lost in Spain.

.

LOST IN SPAIN by John Wilson

Markham: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2000.  174 p.

YA historical novel

It is a fast read, so it’s not deep, but it did give me a real sense of the Spanish Civil War that fit with what I experienced and heard when I was in Spain earlier this year. Lots of action to keep you flipping pages. I was stunned when I started reading and discovered the book opened in my small BC town! Not what you expect about a book set in Spain, you can imagine. I was irritated by how Ted refers to his father as Will throughout the book. Why doesn’t he call him dad? or father? It’s so strange, it seemed there should be a reason for it. He calls his mother, Mom, after all. An interesting read that seemed to give a good glimpse at the character of the country and the context for the history.
 

A Brave review July 10, 2012

Filed under: Commentary — Shawn L. Bird @ 9:32 am
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Fantastic animation (her hair! the water!),  some very funny scenes, very scary bears, kilt humour, and a lovely little tale  makes for a good film in Brave, the latest release from Disney Pixar.  While the plot was a little obvious in parts, and the theme seemed a bit over done, it was quite an enjoyable film.  I’d give it  4/5 stars.  Truly, you should go just to see the groundbreaking hair flowing across the big screen.

Pixar really does a remarkable job of forging new ground in animation.  Throughout the film, I just kept being amazed at protagonist Merida’s hair.  It’s phenomenal, never before seen truly animated hair that it looks like it could have come straight off my friend Angela’s head.  Merida’s hair, like Ange’s, had a life of its own.  Sections behaved in different ways, colour and curls throughout were different so it had real dimension, just like Ange’s.  The hair, more than anything, declared Merida’s tempestuous, independent nature.  When she’s forced to contain it, she feels fake and unnatural.

Here is a very interesting FX guide to the process of creating those amazing locks.

And here are the locks in action.  (As an aside, I also find these three suitors an absolute hoot.  They completely remind me of some grade 9 boys I’ve known!  Particularly the middle one.  You know who you are!)  😀

.

 

I Heart You, You Haunt Me June 1, 2012

Filed under: book reviews,Reading — Shawn L. Bird @ 4:14 pm
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My review of I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder, in verse.  Of course.

.

A verse novel

is like dessert.

Not double chocolate fudge cake

or creme brulee.

More like

lime jello

or

custard.

You want to love it

because it’s dessert,

but somehow

 it doesn’t quite satisfy.

There’s a lack of depth here.

The message is simple

and the path is straight.

Apparently,

I like more

complexity

in relationships

and characters.

More conflict.

Something

more.

.

Lest you think I’m just negative toward all verse novels, here’s my review of Wendy Phillip’s Fishtailing, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

 

Review of Matched by Ally Condie September 27, 2011

Filed under: book reviews,Commentary,Reading — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:14 am
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First let me say that I LOVE the cover of this book. I thought it was absolutely fantastic, and although I’m still trying to figure out exactly what the symbolism is (I get the green dress- but why the bubble?), I think it is a very powerful image.

I enjoyed this book. On Goodreads there are a lot of angry statements that it’s a rip off of The Giver.  I appreciate the many comparisons to The Giver, but the oft-repeated statement that it’s a copy are unjust. While there are some similarities, I see more in common with Orwell’s 1984, Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, or the 1970’s move Logan’s Run. It’s dystopian literature. There are only so many ways to interpret the theme! A few concepts are going to overlap. I don’t hold that against Condie.

I like the protagonist, Cassia. I like her feisty nature and her thoughtful approach. She knows she’s good at things, and she isn’t humble about it. I like the logical development of her awareness and her conscience. I do think the impetuousness is going to cause trouble. It’s inevitable, otherwise there wouldn’t be more books coming, right?

I like Xander. I like the strong security of him. I like his unquestioning devotion. I understand the attraction of Ky, with his mysterious past and strange knowledge, but personally, I would say good-bye, think fondly of him, and stick with the steadfast spirit of devotion that Xander provides willingly. (That’s a Bright picking Jim kind of choice, I realise).   I wouldn’t walk into the trouble that Cassia is going to get into because of Ky. But then, I don’t live in a dystopian novel.

Thankfully.

 

hourglass September 25, 2011

I belong to a YA reading group on Goodreads.com that had Hourglass by  Myra McEntire as its monthly book in August.  I really enjoyed this story of a teen who is fresh out of the psych hospital for hallucinating.  She wasn’t hallucinating though, she was seeing through time bubbles.  I love Emerson the protagonist- she’s sarcastic, feisty, and tortured.  I enjoyed the time travelling component that came up toward the end of the book.

The characters in this book were well crafted and became very real for me. In fact, they became so real that as I read Hourglass, I had a new experience. I kept hearing echoes of my own characters, and I kept thinking how well Grace and Ben would love to hang out with Emerson and Michael. I could see them all taking on the bad dudes together. How cool would it be for Emerson and Michael to go back and visit Grace and Ben in one of their past lives? (There’s a project for some fan-fic writer).

I had never had that experience before, and it was quite fascinating.  Emerson is tougher than Grace, but she shares the same bent for sarcasm and healthy doubt about the male in her world.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I am looking forward to the next book in the series. Very entertaining read, Myra McEntire! Thanks a lot!

 

 
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