Monday, August 31, 2015

Review: Loula and Mister the Monster by Anne Villeneuve


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Everywhere Loula goes, her beloved dog, Mister, follows. Unfortunately, Mister does not follow her good manners. When she hears her mother say she can no longer live with that MONSTER, Loula decides it's time to teach an old dog polite tricks. Can Mister learn to behave? Or will Mama throw him and his monstrous manners out?
MY TAKE:
The moment I saw this cover art, I knew I had to read it.

In Loula and Mister the Monster, Loula believes her mother doesn't want their dog to live with them anymore so she decides to train him to become a better-behaved dog.

I remember reading and loving Loula is Leaving for Africa. I enjoyed this book just as much. Loula is a sweet child, and even if you don't have a dog, you'll want to root for her and Mister immediately. Mister is not a very neat or disciplined dog, but he does try. Gilbert, who I also really like, also plays a role in the story. I was thrilled, of course, because I loved him in the other book. Here, he tries to help out Loula, but it seems it may be a little too much for him too.

The illustrations are just as sweet as the tale. The use of ink and watercolor is perfect for the story as it lends it an air of sophistication, a little like Madeleine meets Eloise at the Plaza. It's such a beautiful book, perfect for a quiet evening with your child.

Thanks to NetGalley and Kids Can Press for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. The illustrations are lovely.
  2. It's a sweet story.
  3. The characters are lovable. 

THE BAD:

  1. I enjoyed it so much that it feels a little bit too short. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You like beautifully illustrated books.
  2. Your child likes dogs.
  3. Your child's pet misbehaves a little bit.

RATING:
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Sunday, August 30, 2015

In My Mailbox


In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

FROM NETGALLEY:


The One Thing by Marci Lyn Curtis

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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Review: The Ghost and Max Monroe, Case #3 The Dirty Trick by L.M. Falcone


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Max is thrilled when his favorite writer, Rhonda Remington, calls up the detective agency. But Rhonda is less than thrilled: someone has warned her to beware on the night of a big storytelling competition. Max is on the case, but his unusual partner -- the ghost of his great-uncle Larry -- is his usual bumbling self. Will they solve the mystery or lose the plot? It's the spookiest case yet in the Ghost and Max Monroe series!
MY TAKE:
I remember reading and liking Case #1 of this series, and this one was enjoyable for me too.

In The Ghost and Max Monroe, Case #3 The Dirty Trick, Max and his great-uncle are approached by a famous mystery writer after she receives a warning. Now Max and Uncle Larry must race against time to find out who exactly is trying to pull a nasty trick on Miss Remington.

The pacing of this book is quite quick and as with the first book, the suspects are all identified by Max upfront but all of them seem like plausible suspects so it's a little hard to say for sure who actually did it, especially since there are plenty of elements at play here.

One thing I did notice was that the ending was quite happy and positive, which is good since this is a middle grade book, but I did wonder if it's something that actually could play out that way in real life since it sounds like a serious stunt to pull.

As for the characters, I liked Max a lot. He's a sweet kid. I also liked his client Rhonda Remington. She seems like a nice lady, and it's easy to empathize with her dilemma. I particularly felt bad for her and angry at the trickster when the prank played out. The only character that I didn't really like that much was Uncle Larry. He's a bumbling detective-type, which is great for laughs, but there were times when it irritated and frustrated me.

Thanks to NetGalley and Kids Can Press for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. It's a fun mystery to try and solve.
  2. The characters are mostly likable.
  3. The illustrations make the story come alive even more.

THE BAD:

  1. The punishment for the trickster is a little tamer than what I expected. 

READ IT IF:

  1. Your child likes mysteries.
  2. You like stories with bumbling detectives.
  3. Your child wants to be a detective someday. 

RATING:
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Friday, August 28, 2015

Review: The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they're rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.
Lucy and Owen's relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and -- finally -- a reunion in the city where they first met.
A carefully charted map of a long-distance relationship, Jennifer E. Smith's new novel shows that the center of the world isn't necessarily a place. It can be a person, too.

MY TAKE:
While there were a number of elements I liked about this book, as a whole, this book didn't grab me the way I thought it would.

In The Geography of You and Me, Lucy and Owen meet when they are trapped in an elevator during a blackout. They spend ther est of the blackout together, but circumstances soon force them apart. Still, there's something there that they can't quite let go of. Is there any hope for them at all.

I enjoy reading books set in Manhattan, as well as books that are a bit like travel books. That is, the character/s explore the city and you get to more or less see for yourself what's there to love about the place. It's during these exploration scenes that the book shines for me. The characters travel to lots of places in the US and in Europe and in most of these places, you get a sense for what's special about them and there's something about the way they're described that inspires me to travel to these places.

The characters, I think, are where my disconnect with the book lies. Lucy and Owen look like okay people, but I felt like there's still some distance between me and them. I did like their romance, though, even if there were times when it felt frustrating to read. It was a bittersweet romance that holds promise for the future, but it's the kind of romance that can go either way in the real world. Hopefully, in their fictional world, they do live happily ever after.

THE GOOD:

  1. It's a fun look at living in New York.
  2. It can inspire you to travel.
  3. It can get you to take a look at how you communicate with the people you love and the people you used to be very good friends with. 

THE BAD:

  1. It can be a little sad to watch the characters struggle to find their place in the world.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
He was like one of her novels, still unfinished and best understood in the right place and at the right time. 
READ IT IF:

  1. You like traveling.
  2. You like books set in New York.
  3. You like reading about characters that have an unconventional courtship. 

RATING:
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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Review: The King's Deception (Cotton Malone #8) by Steve Berry


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
Cotton Malone is back! Steve Berry’s new international adventure blends gripping contemporary political intrigue, Tudor treachery, and high-octane thrills into one riveting novel of suspense.

Cotton Malone and his fifteen-year-old son, Gary, are headed to Europe. As a favor to his former boss at the Justice Department, Malone agrees to escort a teenage fugitive back to England. But after he is greeted at gunpoint in London, both the fugitive and Gary disappear, and Malone learns that he’s stumbled into a high-stakes diplomatic showdown—an international incident fueled by geopolitical gamesmanship and shocking Tudor secrets.

At its heart is the Libyan terrorist convicted of bombing Pan Am Flight 103, who is set to be released by Scottish authorities for “humanitarian reasons.” An outraged American government objects, but nothing can persuade the British to intervene.

Except, perhaps, Operation King’s Deception.

Run by the CIA, the operation aims to solve a centuries-old mystery, one that could rock Great Britain to its royal foundations.

Blake Antrim, the CIA operative in charge of King’s Deception, is hunting for the spark that could rekindle a most dangerous fire, the one thing that every Irish national has sought for generations: a legal reason why the English must leave Northern Ireland. The answer is a long-buried secret that calls into question the legitimacy of the entire forty-five-year reign of Elizabeth I, the last Tudor monarch, who completed the conquest of Ireland and seized much of its land. But Antrim also has a more personal agenda, a twisted game of revenge in which Gary is a pawn. With assassins, traitors, spies, and dangerous disciples of a secret society closing in, Malone is caught in a lethal bind. To save Gary he must play one treacherous player against another—and only by uncovering the incredible truth can he hope to prevent the shattering consequences of the King’s Deception.

MY TAKE:
While I didn't find this book as compelling as other Steve Berry and similar books I've read, it still had its interesting moments.

In The King's Deception, Cotton and his son Gary have to escort an escaped teen to London as a favor to Cotton's former boss. However, Cotton and Gary almost immediately find themselves in the middle of a plot that involves several countries and ancient history.

For maybe the first half of the book, I wasn't super impressed with the story. I couldn't see exactly what game the characters were playing, though I saw glimpses of what the ultimate goal and twist would be.

Like with most books from this genre, there are plot twists and history plot twists. The plot twists involving the main characters in the book didn't surprise me all that much. I wouldn't say that I called it immediately, but when the twist was revealed, I didn't exactly gasp either. I found the history plot twist very interesting, though. I've never actually heard that particular legend, but I think it's remotely plausible and possible. It would be so cool if it were true, but I'm glad that the resolution of this book was the way it was.

THE GOOD:

  1. It's like going on a tour of London.
  2. The book has a happy ending.
  3. The historical legend at the heart of the story is very interesting. 

THE BAD:

  1. Some plot twists are predictable. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You like Steve Berry's other books.
  2. You like both Jason Bourne and Robert Langdon.
  3. You are fascinated by British history. 

RATING:
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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Review: The Making of a Navy SEAL by Brandon Webb, John David Mann


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
BEFORE HE COULD FORGE A BAND OF ELITE WARRIORS… HE HAD TO BECOME ONE HIMSELF.

Brandon Webb's experiences in the world's most elite sniper corps are the stuff of legend. From his grueling years of training in Naval Special Operations to his combat tours in the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan, The Making of a Navy SEAL provides a rare and riveting look at the inner workings of the U.S. military through the eyes of a covert operations specialist.

Yet it is Webb's distinguished second career as a lead instructor for the shadowy "sniper cell" and Course Manager of the Navy SEAL Sniper Program that trained some of America's finest and deadliest warriors--including Marcus Luttrell and Chris Kyle--that makes his story so compelling. Luttrell credits Webb's training with his own survival during the ill-fated 2005 Operation Redwing in Afghanistan. Kyle went on to become the U.S. military's top marksman, with more than 150 confirmed kills.

From a candid chronicle of his student days, going through the sniper course himself, to his hair-raising close calls with Taliban and al Qaeda forces in the northern Afghanistan wilderness, to his vivid account of designing new sniper standards and training some of the most accomplished snipers of the twenty-first century, Webb provides a rare look at the making of the Special Operations warriors who are at the forefront of today's military.

Explosive, revealing, and intelligent, The Making of a Navy SEAL provides a uniquely personal glimpse into one of the most challenging and secretive military training courses in the world.

MY TAKE:
I love watching action movies, particularly those sometimes referred to as "war movies" so this sounded interesting to me.

In The Making of a Navy SEAL, the atuhor recounts his life and how he became a Navy SEAL, and eventually part of the group that trained snipers like Chris Kyle.

I quite enjoyed reading this book. Sometimes, memoirs and biographies can get boring even if the subject is interesting. Here, even during the parts that might be considered boring weren't boring to me at all.

Some people think being special ops is cool, and it is, but based on what I read from this book, it's ridiculously hard to be part of elite groups like the SEALs. It's not for a lack of trying, either. There are many factors at work here, and in this regard, I found the book to be enlightening. I'm sure a lot of people who dream of becoming SEALs can pick up a thing or two from this book.

While the book shares a lot of things about SEAL training and life, it is an autobiography, so it's really mostly about Brandon Webb's life. I thought his life story was pretty amazing, and his exploits were admirable. Also, the things he shared about reworking the sniper training course was rather interesting too.

A word of caution, though. I was left quite in awe with this book, so I wanted to learn more about the author. Naturally, I searched on Google. I now kinda wish I hadn't as it now makes me question some of the things I read here. For those who are more curious, just Google his name and then check the news articles.

It's still an entertaining read, though, and I learned a lot about the SEALs. If you want an inside look into SEAL and Navy life, you should give this book a try.

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Griffin for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. You learn more about the lives of SEALs.
  2. You learn more about the kind of training it takes to become a SEAL.
  3. You gain even more respect for the people who defend your country.

THE BAD:

  1. Some of the stories may not be entirely accurate, according to some outside sources.

READ IT IF:

  1. You or someone you know wants to become a SEAL.
  2. You love war movies.
  3. You love reading autobiographies.

RATING:
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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Lilly says I have an overactive imagination and a pathological need to invent drama in my life.      

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