Sunday, March 29, 2015

In My Mailbox


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

FROM NETGALLEY:



Rich Dad Poor Dad: What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money - That The Poor And Middle Class Do Not! by Robert T. Kiyosaki

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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Review: Little Miss Evil by Bryce Leung & Kristy Shen


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
When you live in a volcano, ride to school in a helicopter, and regularly see your dad on the news with the caption “EVIL GENIUS” underneath his picture, it takes a lot to rattle you.
Until you get a message that says: We have your father. Deliver the NOVA in 24 hours or we will kill him.
What’s a NOVA you ask? It’s a nuclear bomb capable of turning the city into a radioactive mushroom cloud, and ever since Fiona’s dad built it, it’s caused nothing but grief. But telling him to stop building weapons is like telling Michelangelo to stop painting.

And that’s why thirteen-year-old Fiona has a flamethrower strapped to her arm. After all, who’d mess with a girl who can throw fireballs?

Apparently, these guys. Big mistake.

MY TAKE:
The first thing I thought of when I read the summary for this book was Vanessa Doofenshmirtz.

In Little Miss Evil, Fiona is the daughter of a super villain but she doesn't want to be a super villain like her dad. When her dad is kidnapped, she now must step up and lead her family's army to get her dad back.

The first part of the book made me think like Fiona could be Vanessa when she was a kid. They just both want to be normal and not have a super villain for a dad. Fiona's dad is also a bit goofy at times, just like Doofenshmirtz. However, as the book progresses, the parallels disappear and it becomes very clear how different this book is from the show and from most children's books out there.

I remember reading somewhere that, compared to before, the lines between good and evil are more blurred now. For example, in wrestling, lots of people cheer for the heels now. In movies, one example that comes to mind is Loki. He's a villain, in Avengers, at least, but he has lots of fans because he's a complex character.

In this book, the characters are all super villains, but the funny thing is, you find yourself cheering for them. They may like causing mayhem and getting their way, but underneath it all, they want to keep their families safe. They're not pure evil, and that kind of complexity is fun to see.

The plot was interesting, and the twists made this one a fun ride. It resolved in much the same way as I thought it would. Really, it was the best ending for this. It leaves room for a next book but it can also work as a standalone.

The only thing I didn't like so much was Fiona. She was so naive and vulnerable during the first part of the book that it was painful to watch. Thankfully she was stronger and tougher later on. However, as a whole, I wasn't really a fan. Young girls who are just starting to learn how to assert themselves may find a role model in her, though.
 
Thanks to NetGalley and Spencer Hill Middle Grade for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. It's a fun story.
  2. The super villains are entertaining to read about.
  3. The plot twists are interesting. 

THE BAD:

  1. Fiona wasn't my cup of tea. 

READ IT IF:

  1. Your young daughter needs a confident boost.
  2. You like stories about super villains.
  3. You like stories with interesting twists. 

RATING:
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Friday, March 27, 2015

Review: Stupid Boy by Cindy Miles


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
From Cindy Miles, bestselling new adult author of STUPID GIRL, comes the next installment of her addictive Stupid in Love series – STUPID BOY.
Brax Jenkins and Olivia Beaumont are the most envied couple at Winston University—but the so-called “virginity dare,” orchestrated by Brax’s old fraternity, almost tore them apart. Now, a new dare is taking shape, and it’s sure to set emotions ablaze—more than ever before.
Winston’s “It Girl” Harper Belle isn’t just president of the Deltas—she’s also a master at keeping her ugly past a secret. So, when the Kappas’ dare hits closer to home for her more than anyone realizes, she devises a competition of her own as payback. Three sorority sisters will seek out a notorious womanizer on campus and—unbeknownst their “mark” —secretly train him to be the perfect boyfriend. Always up for a challenge, Harper targets the biggest player she can find: Brax’s wickedly handsome foster brother Kane McCarthy.
But, Harper discovers there’s much more to Kane than girls, games, and partying. His easy smile belies the quiet, old soul reflected in his deep brown eyes. All it takes is one night, one secret laid bare, and one kiss from Kane to shift Harper’s world on its axis. Suddenly, the girl who’s always walked a straight and narrow path can’t think of anything else except losing control.

MY TAKE:
I was in the mood for some bad-boy-good-girl romance, and I certainly found it here.

In Stupid Boy, Harper and her sorority decide get revenge for the Kappas dares that have humiliated women in the past. They decide on a bad boy reformation project, and Harper focuses on Kane. Kane isn't a student but he has dangerous dealings with the Kappas, making him a perfect subject. However, Kane and Harper both have terrible secrets in their past that could put a wrench in the works of their relationship.

First of, I'd like to say that because watching WWE shows on weekends have become a bonding activity of sorts for me and my husband, every so often, I would read Kane's name in the book and an image of Kane the wrestler would pop into my head. It was mostly funny for me, but occasionally distracting.

Anyway, back to the book. Kane and Harper are both damaged people, and by that, I mean they've gone through some stuff that requires serious therapy for many years to come. There were some flashback scenes but most of them stopped before it got too graphic. If you don't like scenes depicting abuse, mental or physical, or if they're a trigger for you, you may have some issues with the book. However, you can also skip over those parts if you'd like because the more important details of the abuse are mentioned in passing in other parts of the book so you don't have to delve too deeply into the more disturbing scenes.

Troubled past or not, I actually liked Kane and Harper. It wasn't too hard to sympathize with them, and because of that, I cheered the two of them on. They deserve to be happy, and the concern that both of them had for the other's well-being was touching and perfect.

The reason I didn't end up liking this book as much as I thought I would was precisely because of the bad-boy-good-girl thing. It's a very popular trope, which means that there have been so many variations of it that it's hard to come up with original lines and situations. Situation-wise and character-wise, there was plenty of originality in here while still staying true to the trope. However, there were also some lines that are pretty standard in these kind of romances. At first, I wondered why it bothered me. Then I realized it was because the other parts of it were so good and original and then at the crucial romantic moments, it went into conventional territory and I felt like perhaps there could have been some additional element there or something that elevated it so that it matched the rest of the book.

I don't know, perhaps it's a personal thing. It certainly delivered what it promised, though, so for the most part, I'm happy with it.

Thanks to NetGalley and TKA Distribution for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. Kane and Harper are perfect for each other.
  2. Kane and Harper's back stories are both interesting in a sad way.
  3. There are some really sweet moments here. 

THE BAD:

  1. There were some cliche romantic moments.

READ IT IF:

  1. You like bad-boy-good-girl stories.
  2. You like bad boy transformations.
  3. You like stories with characters whose flaws actually feel real instead of just tacked on so you can't say the character is too perfect.

RATING:
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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Review: Warigami: Combined Arms Origami by Jayson Merrill


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Origami enthusiasts with a particular interest in weaponry will appreciate this unique book, which presents instructions for folding fourteen war machines: six jets, three missiles, and five ground vehicles.Illustrated in full color, the step-by-step directions show how to assemble the models. Origami aircraft include a spy plane, strike fighter, and bomber, plus impaler, javelin, and harpoon missiles that can be mounted on some of the jets. Models of ground vehicles include the predator battle tank and guardian battle walker.
MY TAKE:
I went through an origami phase way back in the day and still dabble in it every now and then, so this book intrigued me.

Warigami contains instructions for creating origami versions of missiles, tanks, and jets.

Since it's been a long while since I've done anything beyond simple origami, I was quite rusty and I've forgotten what the folds are called. There's a guide at the start of the book that explains how some of the folds are done, which is great if you have a hard time remembering how to do the specific folds. I wasn't able to take full advantage of this, though, since I had a digital copy which made flipping back and forth between the guide and the model instructions harder for me.

The models are a pretty good copy, the best you can possibly get via origami. The different types of missiles, tanks, and jets require different sizes of papers, from 2 inches by 2 inches to greater. This means that you can attach some of the missiles to some of the jets. There's instructions on how to do this, which I thought was pretty cool, since that means you can do more than just fly the plane when you're playing with it.

The instructions may be too complex for beginners, though. Novices may be able to follow along, but it helps if you've practiced recently.

Thanks to NetGalley and Dover  Publications for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. The finished products look great.
  2. The missiles can be attached to some of the jets.
  3. The drawings and instructions are detailed.

THE BAD:

  1.  Beginners may have a hard time following along.

READ IT IF:

  1. You like building model aircraft.
  2. You like origami.
  3. You like origami projects that you can play with after. 

RATING:
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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Review: Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices #2) by Cassandra Clare


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street—and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa’s powers for his own dark ends.
With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister’s war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move—and that one of their own has betrayed them.
Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, but her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will—the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?
As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.
MY TAKE:
As this series continues, things get more and more interesting.

In Clockwork Prince, more and more of the Magister's plan is revealed. Along the way, Tessa and the others see just how far his reach is and what it means for them and the other Shadowhunters.

This series is only the second book so while some questions from the first book are answered, a few more questions and mysteries are introduced here. I thought that the idea of including Aloysius Starkweather's family was a good call, and I'm curious to see the connection. The introduction of Will's sister was less welcome for me, although part of me does understand that this could potentially have a good payoff.

What I'm most thrilled about this book is the development between Tessa, Jem and Will's love triangle. Sophie used to be somewhere in there, but thankfully, she's moved on and things are slightly less complicated.

I've noticed that with a lot of the more recent books I've read that had love triangles, the choice is usually between an arrogant, sometimes rude, I-have-a-deep-reason-for-the-way-I-am guy and a nice, caring friendzone-material guy. Majority of the time, the leading lady goes for the first guy. Here, Tessa is a little more confused because while she feels passion for Will, she also cares for Jem and there's also sparks there. I can say that I am Team Jem, without a doubt. I'm tired of guys like Will always getting the girl. On occasion, I've cheered for guys like that, but here, I think that Jem is the best guy for Tessa. Will doesn't feel like he's at that place mentally and emotionally to be able to handle a mature relationship. There are still some things he needs to take care of, especially with his family, before he can focus on Tessa and think about settling down or being in a relationship.

THE GOOD:

  1. The love triangle isn't too over-the-top.
  2. More interesting details are revealed.
  3. Intriguing mysteries abound. 

THE BAD:

  1. The whole automaton army doesn't feel as scary as it should right now. 

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
“Will has always been the brighter burning star, the one to catch attention — but Jem is a steady flame, unwavering and honest. He could make you happy.” 
READ IT IF:

  1. You're Team Jem.
  2. You enjoyed the first book.
  3. You want to learn more about the universe of The Infernal Devices. 

RATING:
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Tuesday, March 24, 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!

“You haven't broken his heart yet, have you?"
"No," Tessa said. Just torn my own in two. "I haven't broken his heart at all.” 

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Review: Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices #1) by Cassandra Clare


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
In a time when Shadowhunters are barely winning the fight against the forces of darkness, one battle will change the course of history forever. Welcome to the Infernal Devices trilogy, a stunning and dangerous prequel to the New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series.
The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them....

MY TAKE:
I was reluctant to start this series because I was worried that Tessa would be too much like Clary and Will would be too much like Jace.

In Clockwork Angel, Tessa Gray goes to London after receiving a letter from her brother. As it turns out, it was a trick. She is rescued by Shadowhunters and now she must work with them to find out what is really going on in London.

I actually enjoyed this book a little bit more than The Mortal Instruments series. Not all the plot twists are fiendishly clever, although there was one major plot twist that I only really figured out just a chapter or so ahead of the other characters.

The presence of automatons and such felt a little strange to me because it seemed like it was a different reality than the ones in TMI. Of course, it is said that the past is a foreign country, so perhaps it's not as strange as I think.

I actually liked the main villain here. His plot was intricate and his planning was excellent. I also liked that he wasn't the kind of villain you'd expect, especially in this universe where the power structures tend to be rigid.

As for the characters, I was right that Will is a lot like Jace. They're both arrogant and self-confident, with family issues they don't really want to talk about or reveal too much about just yet. Tess, thankfully, is a lot more tolerable than Clary. There were moments when she annoyed me with her recklessness and impulsiveness, but away from the field of battle, so to speak, she is okay. As for the supporting characters, the servants at the Institute were all quite nice, although I'm still wary about Sophie. The only Shadowhunter character I really loathed was Jessamine. She was irritating and she really sets back women's rights by several hundred years. She certainly fits the timeline, though.

THE GOOD:

  1. The series could potentially be very interesting.
  2. The villain is a surprise, but not completely unexpected.
  3. The love triangle is more subtle than you'd expect. 

THE BAD:

  1. Will reminds me too much of Jace. 

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
“Remember when you tried to convince me to feed a poultry pie to the mallards in the park to see if you could breed a race of cannibal ducks?"
"They ate it too," Will reminisced. "Bloodthirsty little beasts. Never trust a duck.”

READ IT IF:

  1. You liked The Mortal Instruments series.
  2. You like Jace Wayland.
  3. You like love triangles that aren't so in your face from the get-go. 

RATING:
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