Ashley has plenty of books to read thanks to making a hasty trip to the library before it closed. Titles in the picture include Perfectly Preventable Deaths; Ready Player One; Blood Water Paint; I Know You Remember.

One of the bonuses of being in a strictly enforced lockdown with no where to go, no one to visit, and nothing to do (except attempt to work from home) is the sudden windfall of time on my hands. Time, that in any other set of circumstances, I would dedicate to writing. But for once, I already have enough time for writing. Instead, I am actually getting to read books. And not just a couple of pages when I manage to fit them in. No. I have the time to read chapters at a time.

Before the lockdown, Sarah suggested I make a run to the library before they closed without warning. I took her advice (thanks Sarah), and immediately stocked up on as much newish teen/YA fiction I could find.

The library closed the next day, in case you were wondering.

Just like doing market research for a new product, reading the genre you are trying to write in is important. Actually, it’s invaluable. And, for too long, I resisted it. I was too absorbed in my favorite adult genres to venture back into the realm of teen fiction. But I am glad I’ve done it.

It has given me an updated insight into the creative sphere we are trying to contribute to; what’s popular, what’s outdated, and the types of themes young readers a drawn to these days. Plus I have come across a few excellent reads in the process:

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

All the Little Lights – Jamie McGuire

Sawkill Girls – Claire Legrand

And I have a stack more waiting to be read.

After taking a brief hiatus to read the Sherlock Holmes book; The House of Silk, by Anthony Horowitz, I have jumped right back in to the teen fiction. I started to read I Know You Remember, by Jennifer Donaldson. So far, it’s excellent.

What are your favorite teen/YA fiction? Let me know in the comments below.



I looked back at my blog post from a couple weeks ago, and…wow, the world is a totally different place. New Zealand is a different place. A fortnight ago, the number of Covid-19 cases in New Zealand were still minimal, and it was almost business as usual. Now, we are ten days through an enforced, nationwide four-week (at least) lockdown. That means no lab work, and no lab stories for the foreseeable future. Sorry, guys. Actually, it might be months until I can get back into the lab.

Until then, I will try and keep you all entertained with some interesting chemistry related stories.

Let’s start with that time the US Military decided to dispose of ten tons of sodium metal in a lake. After World War II, there were a lot of material disposal problems, and apparently, what to do with 9, 545 kg of sodium in corroding barrels was one such problem. This was especially concerning since sodium metal is extremely reactive. You may have seen this demonstrated in your high school chemistry class, where a small piece of sodium metal is put in water, causing an impressive bang.

The War Assets Administration asked the Washington State Department of Game to select the ‘most useless lake’ in the state. Lake Lenore was given this honor. And for some reason, the army decided this was the place to dispose of their sodium.

They rolled the barrels down a cliff onto the frozen lake and used machine gunfire to expose the sodium metal to impressive effect. Trust me. Watch the video below.

What about the aftermath? For starters, it increased the salinity of the lake by 4%. And the resulting column of steam and flames was spectacular but caused a ‘gentle mist of corrosive sodium hydroxide’ to cover a wide area. The most damage done was to nearby cars that the army had to pay to be repainted.