Monday, August 3, 2015

Review: Benji Franklin: Kid Zillionaire: Money Troubles by Raymond Bean


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Benji Franklin is the world’s go-to super genius. He’s already saved the planet twice before, and now he’s at it again. With the help of his extraordinary problem solving skills (and a solid gold submarine or two), he’ll be busy stopping dangerous underwater earthquakes and catching outer-space cyber criminals! But with balancing saving the world and doing his homework, are there some problems too challenging for even the Kid Zillionaire?
For ages 7-11.
*Follow-up to the well-reviewed first book, Benji Franklin: Kid Zillionaire*Fun, action-packed story that demonstrates the importance of creative problem solving*Cartoon-like illustrations draw in reluctant readers

MY TAKE:
I read the previous book in this series, and I remembered enjoying it so I wanted to see what happens next for Benji Franklin.

In Benji Franklin: Kid Zillionaire: Money Troubles, Benji is hired to solve two mysteries. The first involves mysterious earthquakes, while the second one involves some serious hacking activities. Can a young boy really solve these puzzles?

While the mysteries weren't as complicated as I wanted it to be, I still enjoyed them. The characters were all interesting, and the problems they put forth to Benji are stuff that regular adults might have trouble solving on their own.

The biggest draw of this book for kids, I think, is Benji. He's the kind of kid that other kids want to be and parents wouldn't mind having as their own. He's brilliant, creative, generous and loves his parents. However, he's not a pushover. I especially like when he gets the bad guys or the people who commission him to give a little something extra, which he ends up using for a good cause. Most kids would probably love all his amazing gadgets and machines, plus all his fun adventures and the fact that he gets to miss school for it. Personally, my favorite parts were the invoices that Benji came up with for his projects. I thought it was very creative and shows how business-minded Benji actually is.

Benji mentions several times that he thinks he's sort of superhero-ish. I'd have to agree. I'd say he's actually a combination of Tony Stark and Batman, but with a more positive outlook on life.

Thanks to NetGalley and Capstone Young Readers for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. Benji is the kind of kid that both kids and adults will like.
  2. You'll learn a few things from his adventures.
  3. Both stories are fun to read, even for kids who probably don't really like to read.  

THE BAD:

  1. The stories can feel like they're over pretty quickly. 

READ IT IF:

  1. Your child is a reluctant reader.
  2. Your child likes inventing and creating things.
  3. Your child likes mysteries and adventure stories.

RATING:
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Sunday, August 2, 2015

In My Mailbox


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

FROM NETGALLEY:



Scrap City by D.S. Thornton
Oscar and the Amazing Gravity Repellent by Tina L. Peterson

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Saturday, August 1, 2015

Review: The Santa Shimmy by Christianne C. Jones


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Shimmy and shake like Santa in this interactive holiday board book. The rhyming text and energetic art will keep kids (and adults!) moving and laughing in anticipation of the holiday season.
For ages 0-2. From the Holiday Jingles series.
*Fun for the whole family*Playful and interactive rhyming text encourages movement and dancing*Great for Christmas promotions*Original, creative board books that will keep little ones entertained

MY TAKE:
I really enjoyed this book.

In The Santa Shimmy, toddlers and parents follow along as Santa and a little girl dance and move about.

I think this would be an excellent book to read aloud to toddlers. You can even join in with your child and do what Santa and the little girl do in the book. The actions aren't hard to do, so if you and your child have the energy and time for it, I say go ahead and give it a try. Given Santa's presence, I'd say this would be a fun book to read on Christmas eve or on December snow days.

I also liked the illustrations and layout. The variety in the sentences/pharses' positions, the font size and font color used helped give it a nice look that meshed well with the illustration style. The illustrations were sweet and perfect for the story. The colors used were also a wonderful fit to the story and the illustrations.

Thanks to NetGalley and Picture Window Books for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. It's a fun book to read aloud.
  2. You can also do the actions with your child, while you're reading the book.
  3. The illustrations are perfect for the story. 

THE BAD:

  1. Some may consider it a little weird to read this book before the Christmas season. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You're looking for a fun book to read with your toddler.
  2. You're looking for more activities to do with your child.
  3. You like children's books with pretty illustrations.

RATING:
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Friday, July 31, 2015

Review: The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
For the past five years, Hayley Kincain and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own.
Will being back home help Andy’s PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over? The Impossible Knife of Memory is Laurie Halse Anderson at her finest: compelling, surprising, and impossible to put down.

MY TAKE:
I decided to read this book partly because I loved Speak and because I was looking for a book with an intriguing plot and just a little bit of romance.

In The Impossible Knife of Memory, Hayley and her father are trying to start a new life in her father's hometown after being gone for so long. It's not that easy, though, as Hayley's father suffers from PTSD. Things keep spiraling downward until one day, something gives.

This book didn't make me laugh and cry as much as Speak did, but I still enjoyed it. I don't think I've ever read a book that focused on PTSD from the viewpoint of a family member, though I have read accounts from people, especially soldiers, who battle PTSD. It's no picnic for the person experiencing it, and it's no fun for the people around them either.

You can't really tackle this issue without going a bit dramatic, so I didn't mind the difficult scenes wherein Hayley's dad lost it a few times. It made it easier to sympathize with Hayley, as well as her hated stepmother.

The book is told mostly from Hayley's point-of-view, with some material interspersed that appears to have been written by her father. Her father's writing was a little disturbing and a lot sad. It really makes you question sometimes if war is worth the price.

As for the characters, they were mostly broken, but still likable. Hayley reminded me a lot of Daria Morgendorffer. She's sarcastic and they have the same sense of humor and delivery of lines. I wasn't too sure about Finn at first, but he's charmingly weird and eventually he won me over. Their romance was mostly fun to watch, although at one point there, it went to a dark place that made me want to yell at them to go see a therapist.

THE GOOD:

  1. Hayley and Finn are good together.
  2. The characters are by no means perfect, but their flaws feel natural.
  3. The story is heartbreaking and dramatic. 

THE BAD:

  1. It can be emotionally difficult to read sometimes. 

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
I needed to hear the world but didn't want the world to know I was listening. 
READ IT IF:

  1. You know someone who has PTSD.
  2. You think PTSD is something that isn't that hard to conquer.
  3. You like heroines that are quirky and sarcastic. 

RATING:
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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Review: The Golden Lily (Bloodlines #2) by Richelle Mead


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
The second thrilling installment in Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy spin=off series, Bloodlines.
Tough, brainy alchemist Sydney Sage and doe-eyed Moroi princess Jill Dragomir are in hiding at a human boarding school in the sunny, glamorous world of Palm Springs, California. The students--children of the wealthy and powerful--carry on with their lives in blissful ignorance, while Sydney, Jill, Eddie, and Adrian must do everything in their power to keep their secret safe. But with forbidden romances, unexpected spirit bonds, and the threat of Strigoi moving ever closer, hiding the truth is harder than anyone thought.
Populated with new faces as well as familiar ones, Richelle Mead's breathtaking Bloodlines series explores all the friendship, romance, battles, and betrayals that made the #1 New York Times bestselling Vampire Academy series so addictive. In this second book, the drama is hotter, the romances are steamier, and the stakes are even higher.

MY TAKE:
This book was just okay for me.

In The Golden Lily, Sydney and the vampires learn that there may be some truth to Clarence's crazy theory. Who are these vampire hunters and what could their existence mean for the future.

Plot-wise, I thought there were some high points and low points. One of those high points was the presence and purpose of the vampire hunters. It could lead to some very interesting stories in future books, and it works with what we already know with the first book and the VA series. One of the low points for me was the whole magic thing. I mean, I get that this is central to the series, but there were moments when it just felt forced to me.

As for the romance, the romance was just a little above average for me. As a couple, I do like them together, although Adrian's declaration of love is very similar to ones I've read in countless books and seen in many movies and television shows. As individuals, though, I'm not really a fan of Adrian or Sydney. Adrian gets on my nerves when he acts cocky, but I sympathize with him better now after that whole thing with his father. As for Sydney, I like rational Sydney, but when she goes into her scared Alchemist mode, it irritates me. It's like she has a split personality.

Jill and Angeline still haven't grown on me, but at least Eddie, Dimitri and Sonya were around, so I at least got to read about a few characters that I liked.

It's kind of funny, but for a good chunk of the book, I had no intention of continuing the series, but the ending, as always, was quite good and made me want to read what's next. I have a few other books on my to-be-read pile, but after that, we'll see if I still feel the pull to read this series.

THE GOOD:

  1. The ending makes you want to read the next book.
  2. There's a new group that could be an important part of the series.
  3. The pieces of the puzzle are starting to come together.

THE BAD:

  1. Sydney can be irritating. 

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
“Every relationship is different. Everyone loves differently.” 
READ IT IF:

  1. You like forbidden romances.
  2. You like bittersweet endings.
  3. You like Adrian.

RATING:
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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Review: Teddy Bear Doctor: A Let's Make & Play Book: Be a Vet & Fix the Boo-Boos of Your Favorite Stuffed Animals by Deanna F. Cook


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Got a teddy bear with a tummy ache, a feverish plush puppy, or a dinosaur who scraped her knees while skateboarding? Never fear! This delightful book offers everything kids need to set up their own veterinary clinic and enjoy hours of fun playing doctor with their stuffed animals. It features dozens of DIY projects to make with common household items, including a thermometer made from a pencil, a lab coat made from an old t-shirt, and a hospital bed made from a cardboard box. The book includes four sheets of fun and adorable stickers for making a doctor's name tag, eye patches, medicine bottle labels, and much more, as well as cute cut-out props, such as a nurse's cap. For ages 3 to 8.
MY TAKE:
When I saw this book, my first thought was "Oh, like Doc McStuffins!"

In Teddy Bear Doctor: A Let's Make & Play Book: Be a Vet & Fix the Boo-Boos of Your Favorite Stuffed Animals, kids learn more about becoming a toy veterinarian and creating their instruments and work spaces like waiting room and examination room.

This is a must-have book for children who love playing doctor or veterinarian. The book focuses on stuffed toy animal patients, but with a little tweaking here and there, kids can use this book for other toys as well.

There are many things I liked about this book. One of them is the inclusion of templates, stickers and forms. Kids can create their own instruments like headlamps and stethoscopes using easy-to-find and/or cheap household items and templates or stickers included in the book. I was also impressed with the forms included such as the patient check-in and exam forms. If this had been around when I was a child, I would have been all over it.

I also liked that there were trivia like the heart rates of different animals. Plenty of kids will probably find that interesting and it may pique their curiosity enough to consider becoming a veterinarian when they grow up.

The pictures, layouts and color choices for this book were all cute and something children will enjoy. I think this book could be a bestseller, and I would love to see this as a series that lets children explore careers (doctors, chef, etc.).

Thanks to NetGalley and Storey Publishing, LLC for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. The crafts use materials that are easy or cheap to obtain and most can be completed with minimal adult supervision.
  2. It covers everything from what instruments kids would need to how their exam rooms should look.
  3. There are templates, stickers and forms provided.

THE BAD:

  1. It would be even better if it included other toys as well. 

READ IT IF:

  1. Your child likes to pretend he/she is a doctor or veterinarian.
  2. Your child likes animals.
  3. You're looking for activity books that can keep your child occupied and also helps him learn something. 

RATING:
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Tuesday, July 28, 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!

“He shouldn't have said that," repeated Adrian, eerily serious. He leaned his face toward mine. "I don't care if he's not the emotional type or the complimentary type or what. No one can look at you in this dress, in all that fire and gold, and start talking about anachronisms. If I were him, I would have said, 'You are the most beautiful creature I have ever seen walking this earth.”      

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