Saturday, September 20, 2014

Review: Behind the Badge: Crimefighters Through History by Ed Butts, Gareth Williams (Illustrator)


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Buckle up for true stories of the chiefs, strongmen, and outlaws who kept the peace.
Where did the concept of policing originate? Who fought crime in ancient civilizations like those of Greece and Rome? How did the monarchs of the Middle Ages keep the countryside free of bandits? Why were the frontier towns of the American West policed by gunfighters? The truth will surprise you!
In parts of the prehistoric world, young warriors took turns enforcing community laws. During the Ottoman Empire, the sultan's police acted as spies, bodyguards, executioners, and even gardeners. In China, officials called prefects kept order with the aid of retired soldiers. In Amsterdam during the 1600s, citizens worked the night watch to keep the streets virtually crime-free. Deplorable conditions in the slums surrounding Rio de Janeiro in the 1980s and 90s gave rise to gangs of vigilante death squads, which included some police officers.
With text that moves at the speed of a Hollywood car chase, and full-color artwork that provides a you-were-there picture of events from ancient times to the modern era, Behind the Badge vividly captures the varied and unexpected roles police have played over time.

MY TAKE:
If you like history and trivia, this book is for you.

In Behind the Badge: Crimefighters Through History, readers are shown how law and order was kept from ancient times until the present.

I'm pretty sure I paid attention during most of my history classes so it was nice to see that there were plenty of things here that I didn't know yet. Picking up a trivia book then finding out that you know most of the things there can be pretty disappointing, but if you just take regular history classes and you aren't particularly well-versed in the history of law enforcement, then chances are this book will be a fascinating read for you.

It's interesting to see how roles of law enforcers have changed over time. A lot of them pulled double duty doing things like gardening which today's peacekeepers don't do on the job.

I liked that there's a section devoted to female police officers, as well as bad cops. Female police officers have come a long way since being hired for social worker-type jobs. As for the section about bad cops, it's nice to know that the book acknowledges that there are good and bad cops in the world.

There's also a section here on what it takes to be a police officer. Kids who are interested in joining the force can see if they're up to the challenge.

The book is in full color, which is great, although I'm not totally sold on the illustrations which reminded me of scenes or stills in movies wherein they color the scene/still so it looks like it's part of a comic book.

Thanks to NetGalley and Annick Press Ltd. for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. You'll learn a lot of interesting things.
  2. The layout and use of color is nice and eye-catching.
  3. It's well-researched. 

THE BAD:

  1. Some parts may be boring if you're more interested in the history parts than the science part of law enforcement history. 

READ IT IF:

  1. Your child wants to be a law enforcement officer.
  2. Your child likes trivia books.
  3. Your child is a history buff. 

RATING:
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Friday, September 19, 2014

Review: Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets: An Anthology of Holmesian Tales Across Time and Space by Kasey Lansdale, Glen Mehn, Guy Adams


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
The world's most famous detective, as you’ve never seen him before! This is a collection of orginal short stories finding Holmes and Watson in times and places you would never have expected!
A dozen established and up-and-coming authors invite you to view Doyle’s greatest creation through a decidedly cracked lens.
Read about Holmes and Watson through time and space, as they tackle a witch-trial in seventeenthcentury Scotland, bandy words with Andy Warhol in 1970s New York, travel the Wild Frontier in the Old West, solve future crimes in a world of robots and even cross paths with a young Elvis Presley...
Set to include stories by Kasey Lansdale, Guy Adams, Jamie Wyman, J E Cohen, Gini Koch, Glen Mehn, Kelly Hale, Kaaron Warren, Emma Newman and more.

MY TAKE:
If you like all (or most) things Sherlock like I do, then you'll want to read this book.

In Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets: An Anthology of Holmesian Tales Across Time and Space, each of the stories introduce readers to Sherlock and Watson versions that are found in settings/time/situations that are much different to how we are used to reading about them.

I enjoyed this book a lot. With most anthologies, you usually find a few stories you hate, a few you find boring and maybe one or two favorites. With this book, I didn't find a story I hated or was bored by. There were a couple of stories, namely The Lantern Man by Kaaron Warren and A Study in Scarsborough by Guy Adams that creeped me out a little bit. Strangely, though, while the subject matter of The Rich Man's Hand by Joan de la Haye was scary, I was more interested than scared. I think it would make a good Supernatural-Elementary crossover episode.

My two favorite stories, on the other hand, were The Innocent Icarus by James Lovegrove and All the Single Ladies by Gini Koch. The Innocent Icarus is set in a world where most people have supernatural abilities of some sort. It's more of like in the 2009 movie Push than the X-men movies, though, as the abilities are accepted in this society. In All the Single Ladies, while I was able to correctly solve the mystery right away, I still enjoyed the story because I liked the Sherlock in this tale. Here, Sherlock is a woman. Of course, I immediately imagined Lucy Liu saying whatever the character said. Which probably contributed to me liking the character here, since I think Lucy Liu is a fantastic Watson.

Thanks to NetGalley and Abaddon for the e-ARC. Publication date of Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets: An Anthology of Holmesian Tales Across Time and Space is on October 7, 2014.

THE GOOD:

  1. There's something for everyone.
  2. Some of the stories suggest or outright show a romantic relationship between Sherlock and Watson (if that's your sort of thing).
  3. Sherlock or Watson are portrayed as strong female characters in some of the stories. 

THE BAD:

  1. There are some stories that may be too creepy for you if you are scared easily. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You are a Sherlock Holmes fans. 
  2. You like reading fanfiction.
  3. You like the idea of reading different versions of Sherlock Holmes and other characters in the Holmes universe.

RATING:
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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Review: Captain Underpants and the Tyrannical Retaliation of the Turbo Toilet 2000 by Dav Pilkey


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
When the Incredible Robo-Plunger defeated the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, George and Harold thought their toilet troubles were over. Unfortunately, their porcelain problems were only beginning . . .
Just when you thought it was safe to flush . . .
The Turbo Toilet 2000 strikes back! The carnivorous commode known for devouring everything in its path has built up a real appetite . . . for REVENGE! Join Captain Underpants for another epic showdown of Wedgie Power vs. Potty Power as our tighty-whitey-wearing superhero GOES TO ELEVEN!

MY TAKE:
I've seen Captain Underpants books at bookstores for years and though I've always been interested, I wasn't sure enough that I'd enjoy it so I never bought one.

In Captain Underpants and the Tyrannical Retaliation of the Turbo Toilet 2000, George, Harold and Captain Underpants have returned to the present but now they must face off against the Turbo Toilet 2000. Will they beat the terrible toilet?

While this book is part of a series, you don't need to read the previous books to understand the story. There's a summary of the events so far at the start of the book via a comic drawn by characters George and Harold. As you would expect from children, the cartoons are amateurish and have spelling mistakes. However, they do the job and become endearing after awhile.

I thought that the entire book would be like a graphic novel, but it's more of a book for early readers, with illustrations on every page. This makes for easy reading and helps the reader visualize the story better. I especially liked the fliporama parts of the book. This is when there would be two drawings drawn a page apart and you just flip back and forth between the two to create the illusion of movement.

The story is funny and lots of kids would find it interesting. The characters were also okay for me, though, I'd probably liked them more if I had seen how their characters developed over the past few books.

Thanks to NetGalley and Scholastic for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. The book is funny.
  2. The comics and fliporama part are interesting.
  3. Kids will enjoy this even if they're not too fond of reading. 

THE BAD:

  1. The illustration style may not work for everyone. 

READ IT IF:

  1. Your child likes comics.
  2. Your child likes funny books.
  3. Your child likes characters that go on interesting adventures. 

RATING:
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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

My Year of Epic Rock by Andrea Pyros Blog Tour


Today, we have an interview with Andrea Pyros, the author of My Year of Epic Rock.
What was the hardest thing about writing this book?
Honestly, sitting down and focusing long enough each day to really write. I can get distracted—by my kids, or errands, or finding out why the dog is barking (answer: it’s a squirrel)  or my other freelance writing assignments, so making the time to prioritize writing was sometimes hard. Once I get started, though, it all seems to happen.
Which scene in the book is your favorite?
The first time The EpiPens meet up after school to practice playing music together. I love what a disaster it is, but also that they realize they really do like spending time together and hanging out.  
Which part of the book was the easiest to write?
The food allergy scenes. I have a child with food allergies, so I think about allergies a lot. Stuff with Nina around food seemed to come so naturally, because we live it in our house each and every day.
Which actors would play the main characters in the movie version of the book?

Oh, wow, tough question! I’m not sure but I can say that my favorite young adult actor on TV is China Anne McClain. She’s the star of A.N.T. Farm and I think she’s totally adorable and fun to watch.
Which songs would be on the soundtrack of the movie version of the book?
Definitely Nick Lowe’s Cruel to Be Kind, which makes an appearance in My Year of Epic Rock. Sure, the video looks a little—okay, a lot—dated but that song remains killer.

Any future books in the works?
Yes, I’m working on a second middle grade novel. It’s about a girl whose mother gets breast cancer. I was 11 when my mother was diagnosed with the disease, and it was a scary and confusing time. I wish I had a book then to let me know I wasn’t the only one out there going through that experience, so I hope this book will be that for other kids.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Andrea Pyros is an experienced writer and editor who has worked extensively for both print and online publications. With particular expertise writing for teens and young women, Andrea covers topics pertaining to health and nutrition, pop culture and entertainment, beauty and fashion, and relationships.
She’s held senior-level positions at such major media companies as CondeNast, USA, and Bauer Publications, and her freelance articles have appeared in Fitness, Rosie Magazine Online, LifetimeTV.com, MSNBC.com, The Mary-Kate and Ashley website, Twist, Bust and elsewhere. Andrea also does copywriting for clients such as ENannySource.com, Comedy Central, and Institutional Investor.
Though she certainly doesn’t claim to have invented the Internet, she and three friends did launch one of the first websites to speak to 20-something women in the 1990s: GIRLS ON FILM. GIRLS ON FILM received attention from Entertainment Weekly, USA Today, The New York Times and others, and led to the publication of the GIRLS ON FILM book, published by HarperCollins.
Andrea earned her undergraduate degree at Vassar College and her master’s from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, where she specialized in emerging media. She lives in Rhinebeck, New York, with her husband, their two children, and the family pug.


Follow me on Twitter @AndreaPyros
or visit www.andreapyros.com

ABOUT THE BOOK:

It’s the first day of seventh grade, and Nina can’t wait for the year to be over. When her best friend ditches her to hang out with the popular new girl, Nina is banished to the undesirable peanut-free table. She thinks she’s finally found her feet when she forms a band with the other allergic kids called The EpiPens. But then a whole new set of middle school minefields head her way! 

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Review: Sleepy Hollow: Children of the Revolution by Keith R.A. DeCandido


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
When Ichabod Crane, a soldier from the Colonial Army, is resurrected from his grave, more than two centuries after he was killed in battle, he partners with Lieutenant Abbie Mills of the Sleepy Hollow Police Department to fight the evil forces that have taken hold of the town.

It’s a cold day in January, and Ichabod visits Patriots Park for a moment of peace. Instead, he receives a disturbing vision from his wife, Katrina, in which she delivers a cryptic but urgent message: he must retrieve the Congressional Cross that he was awarded by the Second Continental Congress for bravery in action. There’s just one problem: Ichabod was killed before he ever received the medal, and he is unsure where it might be. Together Ichabod and Abbie set out to uncover the mystery of the cross and its connection to George Washington and his secret war against the demon hordes. They soon learn that a coven of witches is also seeking the cross in order to resurrect their leader, Serilda, who was burned at the stake during the Revolutionary War. Now they must locate the cross before the coven can bring back Serilda to exact her fatal revenge on Sleepy Hollow.

MY TAKE:
I like reading tie-in novels so even though I've only seen commercials and a few minutes of Sleepy Hollow episodes, I wanted to give this one a try.

In Sleepy Hollow: Children of the Revolution, Ichabod, Abbie, Irving and Jenny must race against time to retrieve Independence Crosses that witches are planning to use to resurrect Serilda.

I like that the novel uses more formal words and tone when Ichabod is the character in focus. It's a little bit like getting inside Ichabod's mind.

Since I'm not super familiar with the series, it took  a couple of chapters (and some Wikipedia research) for me to get up to speed on the characters and events. The book takes place between the tenth (The Golem) and the eleventh (The Vessel) episodes. While it's best to be familiar with the series before reading this, you can still more or less follow what's happening even if you've never seen an episode.

The story is quite exciting. If you're a fan of Supernatural, Charmed or X-Files, you'll probably like this book too. It takes some real places, events and people, for example George Washington crossing the Delaware, and injects some magical element, so it feels like it could possibly have happened.

Thanks to NetGalley and Broadway Books for the e-ARC. Publication date of Sleepy Hollow: Children of the Revolution is on September 30, 2014.

THE GOOD:

  1. The story is exciting.
  2. You can still follow along even if you haven't seen the show.
  3. The use of real places, events and people make it seem a little more plausible.

THE BAD:

  1. It's a little bit morbid.

READ IT IF:

  1. You like the Sleepy Hollow show.
  2. You like Supernatural, Charmed and/or X-Files.
  3. You like action-packed novels.

RATING:
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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Teaser Tuesdays

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!

For people living in rural areas where the Taliban influence is strongest, including where we work, the danger is a shadow that never goes away.

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Review: Evil Fairies Love Hair by Mary G. Thompson


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Ali and her middle school classmates are raising flocks of fairies to make their wishes come true. But growing a flock is harder than it sounds: the fairies eat only human hair, and the rules for dealing with them are confusing, misleading, and subject to change. As Ali and her friends struggle to earn their wishes, mistakes are made, spells go awry, and soon Ali is up against hundreds of two-inch-tall imps who have very big plans—to replace all the parents in town!—and the power to carry them out. Comedy and fantasy intertwine in this lively tale of intrigue, magic, and the power of hair.
MY TAKE:
I was a little wary about the title of the book, as it didn't seem to be the type of book I liked, but I'm glad I give this book a try.

In Evil Faeries Love Hair, Ali begins raising a fairy flock in order to get one wish. Ali dreams of being smart, but getting her wish may be more complicated than she thinks. The faeries are up to something and things aren't always what they seem. Can Ali and her friends find a way out before it's too late?

I liked that the reveal of what the faeries were doing was spread out over most of the book. There's no info dump here. Now, it may seem a little confusing at first, but it makes it easier to remember names and events.

The book doesn't try hard to be funny. There just happens to be random lines that make you laugh, which I thought was a good idea since puns and jokes that don't work can be pretty distracting.

As for the characters, I liked most of them. Ali isn't the smartest girl in the world, but she's resourceful and brave so I wasn't as irritated as I tend to be when I read about heroines that do stupid things.

The ending of this book is relatively happy, although I got the impression that it's the first of a series. I hope so, since I do want to see what happens to the rest of the characters and to Ali.

Thanks to NetGalley and Clarion Books for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. It's an interesting premise.
  2. The book is funny without trying too hard.
  3. The characters are interesting. 

THE BAD:

  1. It may take some time for you to understand what the faeries are planning. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You like books about faeries.
  2. You like books about heroines who are brave and resourceful.
  3. You appreciate books that make you laugh without trying too hard. 

RATING:
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