Friday, April 18, 2014

Review: 50 Body Questions A Book That Spills Its Guts by Tanya Lloyd Kyi, Ross Kinnaird


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Unbelievable facts about an amazing specimen -- YOU!
Most of us eat, run, or sleep without thinking about it. But our bodies are masterful machines of intricate design that perform amazing feats daily.
The fifth book in Annick's successful 50 Questions series guides readers through the details of how our bodies function, from the miracles of genetics, to immune cells shaped like sea monsters.
With her engaging, lucid style, Lloyd Kyi incorporates recent scientific research to explain our body's complex workings. Kids will love finding the answers to questions such as:
Do blood cells travel single file? (In our capillaries, blood cells have to squeeze through one at a time.) How is your spine like a racetrack? (Messages race down the nerves in your spinal cord faster than a NASCAR driver.) Is your brain like plastic? (Your brain's ability to change is called "plasticity.") Can your lungs take a hike? (Your lungs and blood vessels adapt to altitude changes.) Are there aliens inside you? (The invasion of microscopic living organisms started the moment you were born.)
You'll discover how people avoided epidemics in ancient Pakistan and why your goldfish can see things you can't. Hilarious illustrations will keep kids laughing as they learn.
About the Contributors
Tanya Lloyd Kyi is the popular author of numerous books for young readers. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Ross Kinnaird is an illustrator who has worked in London, Sydney, and Hong Kong. He lives in Auckland, New Zealand.

MY TAKE:
I like reading the 50 Questions books because even if I know a lot about a particular subject, I always still learn something new.

In 50 Body Questions, readers get to learn the answers to questions pertaining to the body and its functions. There are also anecdotes and activities for readers to try, and a glossary and suggested books for those who would like additional information.

Even though most of the things mentioned in the book were things I already knew, it was nice to see some information that was new to me. Mostly, these were ones about studies like the one that found out that people from different countries recognize faces differently. For example, the Chinese tend to focus on the center of the face, while Europeans tend to focus on the eyes and mouth.

My favorite parts of the book were the anecdotes because they tended to be interesting stories and most of them were something I haven't heard before.

The illustrations, on the other hand, though not really my style, were pretty funny so I always still looked at them whenever they appeared.

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

THE GOOD:

  1. It's very informative.
  2. The anecdotes are interesting.
  3. The activities will help kids understand the topics better. 

THE BAD:

  1. Since there are only 50 questions, some kids may still have questions after they read the book.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
Scientists have discovered that people in different countries recognize faces in different ways.
READ IT IF:

  1. Your child is inquisitive.
  2. You or your child want to learn more about the human body.
  3. You like reading interesting stories and anecdotes. 

RATING:
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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Review: The Longest Whale Song by Jacqueline Wilson


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Ella’s mum is in a deep coma, having just had a new baby. That means Ella has to live with Jack, her hopeless stepfather, and cope with her tiny newborn brother, as well as worrying about Mum. The only thing that’s going right is her school project. It’s all about whales and how they sing out to each other to attract a mate – sometimes for hours. Maybe a whale song could reach Mum, wherever she is, and bring her back to Ella and baby Samson. Surely it’s worth a try?
MY TAKE:
I remember liking the Girls in Love show, so I thought I might like this book too.

In The Longest Whale Song, Ella's mom has gone into a coma after giving birth to her half-brother. Unfortunately, this means that it's just her, her stepfather Jack and her half-brother Samson. Things feel like they're starting to fall apart quickly for Ella. Will it ever be okay again?

I had mixed feelings about this book. Well, rather, I liked the plot, the story, and the realism of most of the characters and their reactions. The book certainly brought back memories of my own childbirth experience when I spiked a high fever immediately after the Cesarean Section and had to stay in the recovery room for a while. The ending, too, while as I predicted, didn't feel contrived and unsatisfying.

So what did I dislike about this book? Ella. There were times when she was okay but a lot of times, she just annoyed me. There were several times wherein she acted like such a spoiled brat. That's not cool at all. It's a good thing that it sort of works with the rest of the book, otherwise, I wouldn't have bothered reading the rest of it.

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Children's Publisher UK for the e-copy.

THE GOOD:

  1. The characters are realistic.
  2. The bond between parent and child is well-fleshed out.
  3. It's a relatively compelling read.

THE BAD:

  1. Ella acts like a spoiled brat sometimes. 

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
Jack goes to find his camera, fusses around, choosing all kinds of angles, and eventually focuses, bending right over the baby. Samson focuses too. A sudden spurt of wee arches up and splashes all over Jack's chest.
READ IT IF:

  1. Your child has a stepparent.
  2. Your child is having difficulty dealing with her friends at school.
  3. You have a new baby in the house. 

RATING:
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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Review: Alternate Reality Game Designer Jane McGonigal by Anastasia Suen


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Do you like the challenge and adventure of video games? As Jane McGonigal was growing up, she had fun playing early video games. As an adult, she saw games as an outlet for problem solving and teambuilding.
McGonigal started creating alternate reality games (ARGs), which may be based online but take place mainly in the real world. She enjoys challenging others to engage in modern issues and to work together, as in her game World Without Oil and in The Lost Ring, which she created for the 2008 Summer Olympics. McGonigal was named one of the world's top innovators by MIT's Technology Review, and her 2010 TED Talk, "Gaming Can Make a Better World," is one of the most-watched of all time. But how did she get there? Find out how she developed her passion for games to become the public face of game design.

MY TAKE:
If your child has ever expressed interest in becoming a game designer for a living, you might want to show him or her this book.

In Alternate Reality Game Designer Jane McGonigal, readers get to learn about the life of Jane McGonigal. The book touches on her childhood, her education, as well as her career.

I was curious to read up on Jane's life, mainly because ARGs aren't that common in my country. I can actually only recall one such game but I don't think it was too popular, even if it was for the biggest mall chain in the Philippines.

ARGs seem like the perfect blend of gaming and advertising, though, and since I used to work in advertising, I was really interested in the book. While Jane's life is fascinating, and it certainly made me feel like learning coding in my spare time, I wish there had been more specifics about ARGs and coding. I think if there had been maybe a bonus chapter on that, even more kids may be encouraged to follow in Jane's footsteps.

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

THE GOOD:

  1. Jane is inspiring.
  2. Kids may be encouraged to try their hand at coding and developing games.
  3. Kids get to see that games can help solve things like environmental issues.

THE BAD:

  1. The book feels too short. 

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
Games have shown us our own potential for happiness, change, and success. 
READ IT IF:

  1. Your kid is interested in computers and coding.
  2. Your kid likes playing and creating games.
  3. You are looking for books that may inspire your child's future career. 

RATING:
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Tuesday, April 15, 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!
When designing ARGs, McGonigal invents imaginary characters and situations.
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Monday, April 14, 2014

Review: Cupcake Cousins by Kate Hannigan


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Ages 8-12
Baking a fluffy pink cupcake is awesome, but wearing a dress that looks like one? No, thank you!
Cousins Willow and Delia can't wait to spend a week vacationing together with their families. Their aunt is getting married, and Willow and Delia are hoping their tasty baked goods will be enough to get them out of being flower girls in the wedding.
But with a mischievous little brother, a bacon-loving dog, and a misbehaving blender in the mix, their treats don't exactly turn out as planned. When a real emergency threatens to ruin the wedding, will their baking skills be enough to save the day?
Join Willow and Delia in the kitchen by following their scrumptious recipes for whoopee pies, peach pancakes, and other tasty treats!
MY TAKE:
As someone who likes baking and is very good friends with her cousin, I thought this book sounded pretty interesting.

In Cupcake Cousins, Willow and Delia are cousins with a mutual love of baking. When their aunt decides to get married, they are asked to be flower girls. Willow and Delia, however, absolutely abhor their dresses. They decide to convince their aunt that their culinary talents are wasted on being flower girls. The thing is, everything they try to do doesn't end up so good. How will they convince their aunt that they're better off cooking than being flower girls?

I can certainly picture this book as a Disney Channel Original Movie. There's cooking, baking, family, love, and a challenge. I think there are also a lot of kids who may be able to relate to the angle of parents losing their jobs because of the recession and tension between parents because of money.

While the book is about Willow and Delia, the focus of the book is mostly on Willow. That's okay, because younger girls may find it easier to follow the story this way. However, I personally like Delia's personality more than Willow's so there were moments when Willow irked me. It's nice, though, that the two girls eventually realized that there are other more important things in life than their desire not to be flower girls.

Because I really like to bake, my favorite part of the books were the recipes. They sound delicious and from what I can tell, they're easy enough for children to make, even with minimal adult supervision.

Thanks to NetGalley and Disney Hyperion for the e-ARC. Publication date of Cupcake Cousins is on May 13, 2014.

THE GOOD:

  1. Lots of kids may be able to relate to the characters.
  2. There's a little bit of mystery in the book.
  3. The recipes look easy to make.

THE BAD:

  1.  Willow can be annoying.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
They arranged baby quiches made of spinach and bacon on one, and long bacon-wrapped asparagus spears on the other. 
READ IT IF:

  1. Your kid likes baking.
  2. Your kids are good friends with their cousins.
  3. You're looking for a book for your young daughter that will keep her preoccupied for awhile.

RATING:
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Sunday, April 13, 2014

In My Mailbox


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

FROM NETGALLEY:


The Longest Whale Song by Jacqueline Wilson
50 Body Questions A Book That Spills Its Guts by Tanya Lloyd Kyi, Ross Kinnaird
Style Me Vintage: Weddings An Inspirational Guide to Styling the Perfect Vintage Wedding by Annabel Beeforth

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Review: Carly Keene, Literary Detective Braving the Brontes by Katherine Rue


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Spunky young Alaskan Carly Keene and her best friend Francesca have never met a book they didn't like. But they've never been in a book before.
Carly Keene: Braving the Brontes is the funny and heartwarming story of a young reader caught up in the adventure of a book lover's lifetime. A chance nap in a magical bookstore sends Carly spiraling back in time. When she wakes up, it's 1846, everyone thinks her name is Caroline, and a young woman named Charlotte Bronte is trying to compose one of the greatest books ever written... Jane Eyre.
And that's not all. Maria, the spirit of the Bronte sisters' dead sibling, is haunting Carly, telling her that Charlotte's got to finish her book--or else.
With literary history on the line, Carly Keene will battle foggy moors, ghostly apparitions, cholera epidemics, and the horror that is nineteenth-century homework: needlework, French, needlework, German, and more needlework. It's as much as a spunky 21st-century girl can handle, but if anyone can brave the Brontes, it's Carly Keene.

MY TAKE:
I've never really been interested in reading Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights, but after reading this book, I might reconsider.

In Carly Keene, Literary Detective Braving the Brontes, Carly is a young girl who suddenly finds herself in 1846 with Charlotte Bronte as her governess. At first, Carly is having fun but things get sticky when she finds out just what she has to do to get back home.

I don't know how accurate the portrayal of the sisters' personalities are, but it sure helped me remember who wrote which book. It also helped me remember their pen names. Carly hasn't read the sisters' books, either, but she seems well-versed in a lot of other books, particularly ones like The Chronicles of Narnia, so she more or less knew what she had to do to survive.

Reading the book, I felt that a lot of research went into trying to keep things as historically accurate as possible. However, when it came to language and slang used, I had no idea if the words used were proper for the time frame.

My only quibble with this book was though it started out strong, by the time it got to the climax and the lead-up to the resolution, it got a little too close to "fanfiction territory". That is, it went a little too dramatic and contrived. Thankfully, the rest of the book was promising and the next book should be quite interesting too, if it follows a similar format.

Thanks to NetGalley and In This Together Media for the e-ARC. Publication date of Carly Keene, Literary Detective Braving the Brontes is on May 1, 2014.

THE GOOD:

  1. The Bronte sisters seem interesting.
  2. The premise isn't new but the book doesn't feel derivative.
  3. You really get a feel for the time. 

THE BAD:

  1. There were moments that got a tad too dramatic. 

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
"No!" cried Carly again. "You can't! I don't care if it's historically accurate! It's not scientific!"
READ IT IF:

  1. You're a fan of the Bronte sisters' novels.
  2. You like novels wherein characters are sent to the world of certain books.
  3. You like reading books set in the 1800s. 

RATING:
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