Sunday, July 5, 2015

In My Mailbox


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

FROM NETGALLEY:



The Santa Shimmy by Christianne C. Jones
My Hometown by Russell Griesmer

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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Review: The Giraffe And The Pelly And Me by Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
A small boy with a desire to own a candy shop meets a window-washing team of a giraffe, a pelican, and a monkey and together they go to work for the wealthy Duke of Hampshire, who makes all their dreams come true.
MY TAKE:
This was a short, sweet story that I really liked.

 In The Giraffe And The Pelly And Me, one day, a boy discovers that the empty building he dreamed of owning has been bought buy a trio of animals. These animals work as window washers. The animals and the boy become friends and their adventure begins when the Duke of Hampshire asks them to come to his manor and clean his windows.

I liked the happy ending in this book. Everyone got what they wanted, even though it was a bit of a stretch that the duke just happened to have everything the animals wanted. The sweet shop, though, was cute. Had that been real, I would definitely try and visit that in a heartbeat.

There didn't feel like there was any real conflict to the plot, except for how the animals were able to gain the duke's favor. That's okay, though, since this is a children's book meant for younger audiences.

I liked Quentin Blake's illustrations. If you've read Roald Dahl's other children's books, you're probably familiar with his style already. It probably doesn't appeal to everyone, but I like his quirky style.

Overall, I thought this book was great. It's a nice, happy book that will leave you with a smile on your face.

THE GOOD:
  1. It's a happy book.
  2. The Duke of Hampshire is a good man.
  3. It's a good book for young readers. 

THE BAD:

  1. The conflict doesn't really feel like conflict. 

READ IT IF:

  1. Your child likes animals.
  2. Your child loves candies and chocolates.
  3. You like happy endings. 

RATING:
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Friday, July 3, 2015

Review: Everything You and I Could Have Been If We Weren't You and I by Albert Espinosa


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Can you imagine a future where everyone has given up sleeping?
From the creator of the television series Red Band Society and author of the international bestseller The Yellow World comes this uniquely special novel.
What if I could reveal your secrets with just a glance? And what if I could feel with your heart just by looking at you? And what if --in a single moment-- I could know that we were made for each other? Marcos has just lost his mother, a famous dancer who taught him everything, and he decides that his world can never be the same without her. Just as he is about to make a radical change, a phone call turns his world upside down.
Albert Espinosa has a peculiar talent for generating immediate congeniality around him, for shifting people's moods toward the positive and for reconciling them with themselves and the world, when needed.

MY TAKE:
Well, this certainly wasn't what I expected.

In Everything You and I Could Have Been If We Weren't You and I, Marcos is grieving the death of his mother and he decides to take the injection that will keep him awake 24/7 for the rest of his life. However, before he gets the chance to do it, he receives a life-altering call from his boss.

I thought this was going to be a love story, sort of like John Green but with magical qualities. It was a love story, in a way, but not a romantic one exactly. There was a little bit of that, of course, but the different types of love here are all over the spectrum.

From the first few chapters, I got the feeling that while I thought the book had some excellent lines, the overall tone of the book, as well as its topic was just not for me. However, I continued reading, and while I still think it wasn't my type of book, I certainly appreciated the points that it brought up.

At first, I had no idea what was going on. Then, as Marcos' gift was introduced, I became quite intrigued and thought that this would be like a detective novel. Then it made me think of Bates Motel and the Keanu Reeves' movie The Day the Earth Stood Still, and finally it reminded me of the Jaime Licauco books I used to read.

The more I read about Marcos' relationship with his mother, the more creeped out I became. This was probably the reason why even early on, I was able to figure out the final plot twist. I wasn't able to predict the origin of the stranger, though. That one was certainly out of left field, as it's not something I see often in Western novels.

Thanks to NetGalley and Grijalbo for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. It had some unexpected plot twists.
  2. It presents interesting scenarios that lead to introspection.
  3. It keeps you on your toes.

THE BAD:

  1. It's a little darker than I expected it to be. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You like novels that have a darker tone.
  2. You believe that people are meant to meet certain people, even if they won't be in a romantic relationship.
  3. You like surprising plot twists.

RATING:
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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Review: A Sherlock Holmes Devotional: Uncovering the Mysteries of God by Trisha Priebe


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:

After a century, Sherlock Holmes mysteries still fascinate us—and this devotional will delight you with spiritual truths drawn from the pages of the classic detective stories. A Sherlock Holmes Devotional contains 60 entries drawn from the characters, stories, and events of the Holmes canon. From 221b Baker Street to Reichenbach Falls, from Irene Adler to the evil Dr. Moriarty, from the pipe to the violin, this book investigates the spiritual truths we can discern from this enigmatic fictional character—a brusque, stubborn, and arrogant man who also shows honor, trust, and self-sacrificing friendship. It's a fascinating read for fans of the series—or those yet to meet the great detective!
MY TAKE:
I am a Sherlock Holmes fan, so I couldn't resist reading this book.

In A Sherlock Holmes Devotional: Uncovering the Mysteries of God, we see Sherlock Holmes connects to different lessons and ideals that Christians should keep in mind.

I loved the Sherlock Holmes parts of the book. I learned quite a few things about the detective, as well as Arthur Conan Doyle, that I didn't know before. I particularly liked the part about the inconsistencies in the stories.

The idea of connecting the quotes and Sherlock's attributes, as well as Sherlock and John's friendship, to lessons learned from the Bible, was an inspired one. It's not the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Sherlock Holmes, but after reading this, I can see the connection. Granted, some of the correlations were a little tenuous, but there were a number of connections made that did make sense and felt perfectly natural and obvious.

There were plenty of inspiring gems written here. I particularly liked the one about humility and doing good things for the sake of doing them and not for the attention. However, I wasn't in agreement with everything. For example, there was a brief discussion about tolerance in our society. I agree that God doesn't tolerate sin. It is also mentioned that in our society, love and respect equal acceptance. Sure, I agree with that too, but the next statements give me the impression that this acceptance leads to people accepting other people's opinions even if they're clearly wrong. I think people do know when something is right or wrong and they disagree if it's bad. It doesn't go into specifics, though, so I'm not sure exactly what it is referring to. I have a feeling that it might be about, or at least include, a volatile topic that people are becoming more and more okay with, but which most conservatives are still against.

Thanks to NetGalley and Shiloh Run Press for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. Christian Sherlock Holmes' fans will love this.
  2. There are quite a few wise words here.
  3. It references writings by Christian writers who are contemporaries of Arthur Conan Doyle.  

THE BAD:

  1. You may disagree with a few statements if you're a more liberal Christian. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You are a fan of Sherlock Holmes.
  2. You are looking for an interesting devotional.
  3. You want to learn more about Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle. 

RATING:
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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Review: Magic Study (Study #2) by Maria V. Snyder


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
You know your life is bad when you miss your days as a poison taster...
With an execution order on her head, Yelena has no choice but to escape to Sitia, the land of her birth. With only a year to master her magic - or face death - Yelena must begin her apprenticeship and travels to the Four Towers of the Magician's Keep.
But nothing in Sitia is familiar. Not the family to whom she is a stranger. Not the unsettling new facets of her magic. Nor the brother who resents her return. As she struggles to understand where she belongs and how to control her rare powers, a rogue magician emerges - and Yelena catches his eye.
Suddenly she is embroiled in battle of good against evil. And once again it will be her magical abilities that will either save her life...or be her downfall.
MY TAKE:
If you're a fan of Tamora Pierce and you haven't read this series, you should definitely give this a try.

In Magic Study, Yelena is now in Sitia to learn how to better control her magic and to get to know her family again. While there, she crosses paths with an exiled Ixian who plans on overthrowing the Commander, as well as a malevolent group bent on using magic for their own evil purposes.

I enjoyed the story and where the whole focus of this series is going. The introduction of two separate antagonists seemed like too much at first, but by the end of the book, it became clearer how it was all going to come together in the third book. There were maybe one too many scenes wherein Yelena was kidnapped, though. Usually, I like strong heroines to have moments like that, but when one of the characters pointed out that she was taken again, I ended up thinking about how many times she had been in a tight squeeze in the book.

As with the first book, I enjoyed Yelena's magic training sessions. It's a great way to learn about how magic works in Yelena's universe without feeling like it's an info dump. I also liked a number of the new characters introduced, especially Bain and Fisk. Cahil, though, I despised because he was fixated on Yelena and he would make a terrible king.

I wish there had been more of Valek and Yelena. I mean, there were some very brief telepathic scenes, of sorts, and then more by the end of the book, but there was something there that felt a little lacking in some way to me.

THE GOOD:

  1. You learn more about Yelena's world.
  2. The types and principles behind the magic in Yelena's world is fascinating.
  3. Valek and Yelena are cute together.

THE BAD:

  1. Yelena gets the short end of the stick plenty of times. 

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
I took my switchblade out, showing the inscription to Janco. “What about ‘Sieges weathered, fight together, friends forever’? Does that change if I become an official southerner?”
Janco rubbed the hair on his chin, considering.
“No,” Ari said. “You could change into a goat and it would still apply.”  
READ IT IF:

  1. You enjoyed the first book in the series.
  2. You like books with characters who use magic.
  3. You like strong heroines.

RATING:
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Tuesday, June 30, 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!

“I've always known I was gay, but it wasn't confirmed until I was in kindergarten.

It was my teacher who said so. It was right there on my kindergarten report card: PAUL IS DEFINITELY GAY AND HAS VERY GOOD SENSE OF SELF.”      

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Review: Hunting for Hidden Gold (The Hardy Boys #5) by Franklin W. Dixon


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
Timber wolves, a Rocky Mountain blizzard, and a mine cave-in are only a few of the perils Frank and Joe Hardy encounter during their search for the principal members of a notorious gang responsible for a payroll robbery.
MY TAKE:
If you like a good, old-fashioned Western tale, then you'll probably like this one.

In Hunting for Hidden Gold, the Hardy boys' father acts for their help to solve a mystery, after he is injured while on the job. The boys get more than they bargained for, though, as the people they are up against have many agents. Who can they really trust?

As far as mysteries go, this was a good one. I wasn't too sure at first, though, as it was playing out like a typical mystery to me, with significant moments popping out here and there that you'll probably recognize as something the author included as clues. However, around the last 1/3 of the book, things started getting more and more complicated and before long, I was on the edge of my seat.

There were moments wherein I would think that the boys need a cellphone, and then I'd remember that this was set a long time ago, and I'd smile. Things were much simpler then, even if the setting for this book hadn't been a rugged mountain town.

If you like mysteries, you should give this one a try.

THE GOOD:

  1. The mystery is a good one.
  2. It's action-packed.
  3. You feel like you're right there with the boys. 

THE BAD:

  1.  There are some predictable moments.

READ IT IF:

  1. You like mysteries.
  2. You like Westerns.
  3. You like books that are action-packed. 

RATING:
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