The Sandcastle Empire | Book Review

Hi friends! I hope your 2018 is off to a lovely start.

A few of you may have noticed that I haven’t been posting as much about homeschooling lately. Don’t worry, I’m still teaching my kids all the thingsΒ  with the help of ALL THE COFFEE. But I’ve decided to step down from the Homeschool Review Crew so I can spend more of the time when I manage to sneak away from all the chaos here actually writing novels. πŸ™‚

In light of that change, I’m also shifting the focus of this blog a bit to be less about my kids and more about books. I can’t think of a better way to kick things off than by sharing one of my favorite reads of 2017, The Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson.

This YA, sci-fi thriller is set in the not-too-distant future in which the world has been ravaged by near-catastrophic climate change and a violent revolution.Β  It focuses on four girls who end up unexpectedly thrown together on an island that seems to be literally alive with danger. It had all the gripping, gritty intensity I expect from a dystopian thriller, but also so much beauty.Β  I absolutely loved the way the action of the story was broken up by single-page chapters that were little morsels of pure lyrical gorgeousness. By the time I was about two-thirds of the way through, I could NOT put it down and stayed up well into the night to finish reading because it was just that good.

This picture is of a quote from the book that Kayla wrote under the dust-jacket of the book when I had the opportunity to meet up with her a couple weeks ago for coffee. Oh, and by the way, Kayla is just the sweetest and you should all totally be following her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or wherever you hang out. Also, I’m currently giving away this copy of the book on Instagram, which is where you can find me most days, so hop on over and say hi! πŸ™‚

Need a last-minute stocking stuffer?!?

Hey friends! So, as a mom of four, I have to say one of my biggest headaches when it comes to art supplies for my kiddos is all of the markers drying up within a week of buying a new pack cause my kids just can’t seem to put the lids back on in time, or tightly enough, or whatever the case may be. So I was super excited when The Pencil Grip, Inc. (the makers of Kwik Stix oneΒ of my all-time-favorite art supplies) offered to send me a pack of markers that are guaranteed to not dry out with the lid off for seven whole days!!!

MAGIC STIX - markers that are guaranteed to not dry out with the lid off for seven whole days! | Review by Running With Spears #magicstix #markers

MAGIC STIX - markers that are guaranteed to not dry out with the lid off for seven whole days! | Review by Running With Spears #magicstix #markersThey’re called Magic Stix and are available on Amazon in both 12 and 24 packs. We haven’t yet tested them for a full seven days without the cap, but we did lose a lid for three days and the marker was still perfect!

We have little Kindness Elves that give prompts for kind things to do every morning in December, so I presented these markers to my girls by having the elves set them out with a note to make Christmas cards for people. My girls literally believe markers that don’t dry out are so magical they just *had* to come from Santa’s workshop. It was so fun to see their excitement over these!

If I hadn’t needed to go ahead and test them out right away, though, I totally would have saved these to put in stockings. I really like to include a fun, new art supply in stockings every year. πŸ™‚

MAGIC STIX - markers that are guaranteed to not dry out with the lid off for seven whole days! | Review by Running With Spears #magicstix #markers

One side-note about these, though, they say washable but I would treat them more like permanent markers. I mean, youΒ  shouldn’t plan to use them on anything that you WANT to stay permanent forever, but they have not washed off my girls’ skin easily at all. I haven’t tried getting them off clothes or anything yet, but based on the difficulty on their skin I’d rather not test it.

They color really well, and I like that they’re completely odorless. And my girls like that I’m not telling them every five seconds “put the cap back on as soon as you’re done.”Β  I definitely recommend these fun new (sanity saving) markers!Β  πŸ˜€