Friday, May 31, 2013

Review: How to Walk in High Heels: The Girl's Guide to Everything by Camilla Morton



SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS.COM:
The bestselling U.K. sensation, hailed as "the most fabulous instruction manual the world has ever seen" by Vogue.com
Can you make yourself up in five minutes flat? Make the first move without breaking a sweat? Hang a picture without becoming unhinged? Get out of a car -- or an unpleasant situation -- gracefully in a short skirt? Load an iPod as effortlessly as a dishwasher? If not, international style and fashion journalist Camilla Morton can help you navigate these and more than two hundred other hazards of modern living with grace and aplomb. Much more than just a style manual or crash course in social skills, How to Walk in High Heels also illuminates the finer points of achieving better homes and gardens, tackling technophobia, climbing the career ladder, and joining the jet set.
From the practical, such as what to do when a heel breaks and how to catch a mouse, to the imaginative, such as how to enjoy karaoke and swim in sunglasses, How to Walk in High Heels overflows with useful nuggets of advice delivered in the author's inimitable witty style, accompanied by a foreword from Dior's John Galliano and a Louis Vuitton trunkful of insight from experts including: -Manolo Blahnik on How to Pick a Shoe -Dolce & Gabbana on How to Get Ready in Five Minutes -Gisele Bundchen on How to Look Good in a Photo -Jade Jagger on How to Compile Your Own Soundtrack
This comprehensive do-everything-better bible takes the guesswork out of flaunting your fabulousness so that you can stop teetering and start striding confidently through the obstacle course of life.

MY TAKE:
This book was published several years ago, but there are still some tidbits here that are useful for the modern woman.

In How to Walk in High Heels, women get tips on how to do things like grooming, socializing and managing their home.

These skills, obviously, don't go out of style, even though some of the references to music and technology feel a little dated already. When I first bought this, I had visions of becoming Audrey Hepburn-ish, which is quite a feat for a boyish girl like me. I was also on a reference/trivia kick at the time so this book was right up my alley.

My favorite section was about being socially adept, particularly the parts about how to play poker and about the different gallery owners. The part about how to eat tricky foods like oysters and lobsters is really useful too.

THE GOOD:

  1. There are lots of useful tips for women.
  2. The writing style is playful yet posh.
  3. It covers a wide range of topics.

THE BAD:

  1. Some references may feel dated.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
Fishfingers under the grill, and chips in the oven; best served with daytime TV and ketchup.

READ IT IF:

  1. You are looking for a funny book filled with useful tips.
  2. You want to learn to be more socially adept, more well-mannered and learn other useful skills.
  3. You are looking for a laugh.

RATING:
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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Review: The Saga of Erik the Viking by Terry Jones



SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
The fantastically brilliant and amazingly adventurous saga of Erik the Viking returns in this special 30th anniversary edition.
Fantastically illustrated by Michael Foreman
As Erk and the crew of The Golden Dragon set off in search of adventure, little do they know that their courage, skill, strength and stamina will all be tested to the extremes...
Includes an exclusive foreword from Terry Jones and newly coloured illustrations from Michael Foreman.
Author Information
Terry Jones is perhaps best known as a scriptwriter and member of the Monty Python team. He is a highly successful historian, performer, director of films plays and even operas and writer for film, radio and television.
His books for children have been enormously popular and include several modern classics, including Fairy Tales, Animal Tales, The Knight and the Squire and The Lady and the Squire.
Michael Foreman’s numerous books for children have earned him widespread recognition as one of the world’s leading illustrators. He has regularly collaborated with Terry Jones, Michael Morpurgo and others while several of his own books are also considered modern classics. Titles include War Boy, War Game, Terry Jones Animal Tales, Michael Morpurgo's Farm Boy and Treasure Island.
Terry and Michael both live in London.

MY TAKE:
Prior to reading this book, I knew a little bit about Norse mythology and knew vaguely about Erik the Red, but I didn't really know a lot about Vikings beyond what is common knowledge.

In The Saga of Erik the Viking, we get to read about the adventures of Erik the Viking and his crew who set sail for the land where the sun sets.

The book was written in 1983, so the stories do feel a little bit old. It's basically a collection of stories, which together tell the story of a Viking crew's adventures. The stories reminded me of the stories of Odysseus and the Greek heroes. I don't know how much of these stories are actually taken from Viking myths but I did find a number of the stories funny or interesting, particularly the stories about the Enchanter and his daughter.

Thanks to NetGalley and Pavilion Children's Books for the e-copy.

THE GOOD:

  1. The stories show what life was like for Vikings.
  2. The illustrations are richly rendered.
  3. It's easy to imagine the story based on the descriptions.

THE BAD:

  1. It would probably be better if there had been more illustrations to sprinkled throughout the book.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
Then they celebrated with a feast.
READ IT IF:

  1. Your child is a fan of Vikings.
  2. Your child likes tales of adventures.
  3. Your child likes stories wherein the heroes trick the villains.

RATING:
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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Review: Rotten Pumpkin: A Rotten Tale in 15 Voices by David M. Schwartz; Photography by Dwight Kuhn



SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Compost won't mean the same thing after readers have seen the amazing transformation of Jack from grinning pumpkin to mold-mottled wreckage to hopeful green shoot. The story of decomposition is vividly told so that science comes to life (and death). Part story, part science, and a whole lot of fun. Features a teacher guide in the back of the book, and additional material (including instructions on how to put on a Rotten Pumpkin play in your school) are on the Creston and Author websites.
MY TAKE:
What happens to jack-o-lanterns after Halloween?

In Rotten Pumpkin: A Rotten Tale in 15 Voices, we get to see what happens to a pumpkin as it slowly decomposes. The story is told through dialogue from the creatures that help the pumpkin go back to the earth.

I found this book a little strange at first. Based on the first couple of pages, I thought that the book would be told in rhymes or in verses with an internal rhyme of some sort. However, a lot of the dialogue for the creatures were more prose than poem.

Other than that, the book was quite educational and kids who want to learn more about the process and the creatures that invade a rotting fruit or vegetable will find this book interesting enough, especially with the pictures that clearly illustrate the breakdown of the pumpkin matter.

Thanks to NetGalley and JKSCommunications for the e-copy.

THE GOOD:

  1. The book is informative.
  2. The pictures that accompany the book make it easier to see the process happen to one pumpkin.
  3. Kids can learn just by looking at the pictures.

THE BAD:

  1. It's not consistently prose or poetry.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
Naturally, I'd rather not share my food with other molds or bacteria.
READ IT IF:

  1. Your child wants to learn more about rotting fruits and vegetables.
  2. Your child likes science.
  3. Your child learns better with pictures.

RATING:
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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

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!

Here I stand, bright with light, proud and round.
Tonight is my glory night. Call me Jack.
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Monday, May 27, 2013

Review: Secret for a Song by S.K. Falls

SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Saylor Grayson makes herself sick. Literally.
She ate her first needle when she was seven. Now, at nineteen, she’s been kicked out of college for poisoning herself with laxatives. The shrinks call it Munchausen Syndrome. All Saylor knows is that when she’s ill, her normally distant mother pays attention and the doctors and nurses make her feel special.
Then she meets Drew Dean, the leader of a local support group for those with terminal diseases. When he mistakes her for a new member, Saylor knows she should correct him. But she can’t bring herself to, not after she’s welcomed into a new circle of friends. Friends who, like Drew, all have illnesses ready to claim their independence or their lives.
For the first time, Saylor finds out what it feels like to be in love, to have friends who genuinely care about her. But secrets have a way of revealing themselves. What will happen when Saylor’s is out?

MY TAKE:
As a former medical student, I found the synopsis of this book eye-catching.

In Secret for a Song, Saylor has been suffering from Munchausen Syndrome for years. When she suddenly finds herself a member of a group for teens with terminal illness, she becomes part of a world wherein she has a better handle on her illness. However, it's only a matter of time before her lies rise to the surface.

I was irritated with Saylor at first. The hospital attached to the medical school I attended before is one of the biggest tertiary hospitals in the country and caters mostly to underpriviliged Filipinos. A lot of the people who come to the doors need immediate treatment as a lot of them have put off going to the doctor because of lack of resources. The idea of someone faking an illness just to get attention, and thus taking time and resources away from people who really need it is just disgusting and selfish.

Once Saylor starts to recover from her illness and her selfishness, I come to like her a little bit more and it was easier to immerse myself in the story. The other characters in the group she joins are interesting portrayals and it does bring a smile on my face to see update patients. I didn't really feel strongly about Drew and Saylor's connection. I think the book would have been okay without it.

The description of Saylor's relationship with her parents were quite believable and really propelled the story. I would have been perfectly content if the focus would just have been about Saylor, her illness, and her relationship with her parents and her peers.

Thanks to NetGalley and S.K. Falls for the e-ARC. Publication date of Secret for a Song is on June 3, 2013.

THE GOOD:

  1. The portrayal of Saylor's relationship with her parents is believable.
  2. The patients are upbeat despite their conditions.
  3. It's a peek into the world of those who have Munchausen.

THE BAD:

  1. Saylor can be selfish and irritating.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
Everything was crisp and cold and quiet, like we were in a storybook.
READ IT IF:

  1. You have or know someone who has Munchausen syndrome.
  2. You want to see what it's like for people who have terminal illnesses.
  3. You are looking for a book that has a strong portrayal of a dysfunctional family.

RATING:
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Sunday, May 26, 2013

In My Mailbox



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

FROM NETGALLEY:

Secret for a Song by S.K. Falls
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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Review: Playing with Fire School for S.P.I.E.S. by Bruce Hale


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Juvenile delinquent and budding pyromaniac Max Segredo belongs in juvie hall. At least, that’s what his most recent foster family would tell you. Instead, Max ends up on the doorstep of Merry Sunshine Orphanage—their very heavily guarded doorstep. As he begins to acclimate to his new home, Max learns a few things straightaway: first, cracking a Caesar Cipher isn’t as hard as it seems; second, never sass your instructor if she’s also holding throwing knives; and third, he may not be an orphan after all. Soon, Max and the rest of the students are sent on a mission to keep a dangerous weapon out of the hands of LOTUS, an international group bent on world domination. Of course, all Max cares about is finding out more about his father, the man he’s now sure is still alive. As the stakes get higher, Max must make some difficult choices, including who to trust, and finally learns the true meaning of family. 
MY TAKE:
I went through a spy phase as a kid, so now that I'm older, I have a thing for spy books like this one.

In Playing with Fire, Max is a foster kid who seems to have a problem with authority. After a fire at his latest foster family's house, he ends up at the Merry Sunshine Orphanage. It's not your typical orphanage, though. It's actually a school for spies. Max is more interested in finding about his father, though, and  when he does find him, he realizes he got more than he bargained for.

This book was awesome! There are plenty of plot twists and red herrings, but not so much that it gets overwhelming. I also appreciated that trivia like what a Caesar cipher found its way into the story without looking like an info dump. It made the book part novel, part spy 101.

Despite the fact that the book focuses on Max, the book isn't just for guys. There are several kick-butt female characters in the book, my favorites being Cinnabar and Hantai Annie. I rarely see spy books that have an almost equal mix of boys and girls as lead characters. This feels a lot more organic and believable, especially since the orphans featured act the way you'd expect them to: cautious, looks out for number one but are loyal to their family and friends.

Max is kinda frustrating sometimes, particularly when he's being selfish, but at the same time it's not as annoying as it might have been because Max does know he's being a jerk and you get to see why he's doing it.

The ending isn't a cliffhanger, but it does leave you wanting more. I can't wait for the next book! :D

Thanks to NetGalley and Disney Book Group for the e-ARC. Publication date of Playing with Fire School for S.P.I.E.S is on June 25, 2013.

THE GOOD:

  1. It's action-packed.
  2. There are plenty of likable characters.
  3. You learn a little bit about spy stuff.

THE BAD:

  1. Max can be a selfish jerk sometimes.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
Rich smells of cooked meat filled the air, and Styx hustled back and forth from kitchen to table, bearing platters of eggs, bangers, and bacon, as well as baskets of muffins and tureens of porridge.
READ IT IF:

  1. You have a kid who likes spies.
  2. You are a fan of spy novels.
  3. You like books with a strong cast of characters.

RATING:
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Friday, May 24, 2013

Review: Timpla: A Beginner's Guide to Great Cooking by Marilen Fontanilla


SUMMARY FROM BACK COVER:
Get ready to overcome your kitchen anxieties and be on your way to preparing the perfect meal that is properly flavored and seasoned. This cookbook brims with easy recipes, cooking techniques and handy tips. Timpla will guide you to a simple yet flavor-filled cooking journey.
MY TAKE:
I've had this book for awhile but it was only recently that I got around to trying recipes from the book.

Timpla features a whole host of recipes for Filipino favorites plus other easy-to-cook food. There are also tips and tutorials for beginners, such as how can you tell if the oil is hot enough for frying, and which oil works best for which technique.

So far, we've tried two recipes from the book: Roast Tamarind Chicken, and Baked Chicken Rice. The Roast Tamarind Chicken was delicious. My husband said it was like a combination of roast chicken and sinigang. The Baked Chicken Rice was my favorite, though. It was like baked macaroni and cheese with chicken, but with rice instead of pasta. You don't really notice the difference, though, as the cheese and spaghetti sauce coats the rice quite well. My mom did note that it would be better with a bit more chicken bits.

THE GOOD:

  1. There are plenty of helpful tips.
  2. The recipes are easy enough to follow.
  3. The food produced is pretty delicious.

THE BAD:

  1. The cookbook is sort-of sponsored by a company, so there's a product appendix at the back showing the products from the company that can be used for the recipes.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
This dish takes inspiration from combining leftover fried or roasted chicken with a spaghetti sauce base and layering it with rice to make a complete meal.
READ IT IF:

  1. You are a beginner at cooking.
  2. You want to learn how to cook Filipino food.
  3. You are looking for easy recipes.

RATING:
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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Review: Eating Asian America A Food Studies Reader by Robert Ji-Song Ku, Martin F. Manalansan IV, and Anita Mannur


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:

Chop suey. Sushi. Curry. Adobo. Kimchi.  The deep associations Asians in the United States have with food have become ingrained in the American popular imagination.  So much so that contentious notions of ethnic authenticity and authority are marked by and argued around images and ideas of food.

Eating Asian America: A Food Studies Reader collects burgeoning new scholarship in Asian American Studies that centers the study of foodways and culinary practices in our understanding of the racialized underpinnings of Asian Americanness. It does so by bringing together twenty scholars from across the disciplinary spectrum to inaugurate a new turn in food studies: the refusal to yield to a superficial multiculturalism that naively celebrates difference and reconciliation through the pleasures of food and eating. By focusing on multi-sited struggles across various spaces and times, the contributors to this anthology bring into focus the potent forces of class, racial, ethnic, sexual and gender inequalities that pervade and persist in the production of Asian American culinary and alimentary practices, ideas, and images. This is the first collection to consider the fraught itineraries of Asian American immigrant histories and how they are inscribed in the production and dissemination of ideas about Asian American foodways.

Robert Ji-Song Ku is Associate Professor of Asian and Asian American Studies at Binghamton University. He is the author of Dubious Gastronomy: The Cultural Politics of Eating Asian in the USA.

Martin F. Manalansan IV is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Asian American Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He is the author of Global Divas: Filipino Gay Men in the Diaspora.

Anita Mannur is Associate Professor of English and Asian /Asian American Studies at Miami University. She is the author of Culinary Fictions: Food in South Asian Diasporic Culture.

MY TAKE:
I enjoy learning about how other cultures view my culture, especially our food culture, so I was eager to read this book.

In Eating Asian America, we are treated to essays about Asian-American food, history and culture, particularly about how Asian immigrants adapted to American culture to create a new yet familiar food culture and how the Americans came to embrace their food as well.

The essays were divided into four categories: Labors of Taste, Empires of Food, Fusion, Diffusion, Confusion?, and Readable Feasts. While it was fascinating reading about the evolution of other Asian food cultures, my favorite articles, of course, were the ones discussing Filipino food and migration. Although I didn't grow up in the era that the essays were talking about, I have heard stories that agreed with what was written, and I was familiar with all of the food mentioned, which made it easier for me to appreciate the essays.

You don't need to be Asian or Asian-American to appreciate the book, though. As long as you appreciate well-researched essays and Asian culture, you will like this book.

Thanks to NetGalley and NYU Press for the e-ARC. Publication date of Eating Asian American is on September 3, 2013.

THE GOOD:

  1. You learn more about Asian-American culture.
  2. There are plenty of pictures that make the essays more interesting.
  3. The entries are well-researched.

THE BAD:

  1. Some of the essays may be boring for those who prefer reading anecdotes over facts.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
Lolo Ambo served food familiar to most Filipinas/os, like chicken and pork adobo, diniguan, pancit, sinigang, beef nilaga (boiled beef soup), and sarciado (meat braised in tomato sauce).
READ IT IF:

  1. You are fascinated with Asian culture.
  2. You want to learn more about Asian-American cuisine.
  3. You like reading well-written essays.

RATING:
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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Review: Skinny Bitch in Love by Kim Barnouin


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:

In this new novel based on the #1 bestselling Skinny Bitch books, a twenty-something chef loses her dream job—only to find happiness after she launches a vegan cooking school and falls for a sexy carnivore.
Twenty-six-year-old Clementine Cooper is an ambitious sous chef at a hot vegan restaurant in Santa Monica. When an important food critic visits the restaurant, a backstabbing coworker sabotages her vegan dish by adding butter. Fired from her job and blackballed in L.A., Clementine has hit rock bottom. Not one to wallow, she decides to launch her own cooking school and personal chef business called Skinny Bitch.
Every day, Clementine passes a space for lease in her neighborhood and fantasizes about opening her own restaurant. Fifteen tables. A juice bar. Cali-meets-Moroccan d├ęcor. She plans to work hard, save money, and buy the space. But on the first day of her cooking classes, she discovers that millionaire restaurateur Zach Jeffries is opening a steakhouse in the same space!
Zach is the antithesis of everything she stands for, but she’s incredibly attracted to him. And it seems like he might be attracted to her too, since he immediately enrolls in her cooking school. Can two people who are so fundamentally different actually find love? As Clementine rebuilds her life with new friendships, romance, and recipes, she finds that there are healthy choices to make both in and out of the kitchen.

MY TAKE:
Before reading this book, I only knew of Skinny Bitch from the cookbooks.

In Skinny Bitch in Love, vegan chef Clementine must pick up the pieces after she is sabotaged during an important critic's visit and subsequently fired. To make ends meet and work towards her dream of opening her own cafe, she decides to offer vegan cooking classes and her services as a personal chef.

I found Skinny Bitch in Love to be quite an enjoyable book. The descriptions of the food made me want to try everything Clementine cooked or described, and her obvious love of cooking makes me want to start baking again.

The plot itself is what you would expect from other chick lit books. It will keep you entertained, but it's not hard to predict what will happen. Clementine is an okay character and even though she did some things I didn't like, I didn't find her annoying. Her friends are also likable.

The only person I didn't like was Clementine's main love interest. I don't like arrogant guys. Clementine and the guy's relationship also didn't seem healthy to me at all. Chemistry is well and good, but that's not gonna sustain you years after you're married. There has to be something more, especially if you guys fight as much as Clementine and the guy did.

Thanks to NetGalley and Gallery Books for the e-ARC. Publication date of Skinny Bitch in Love is on June 4, 2013.

THE GOOD:

  1. The food sounds delicious.
  2. The plot is entertaining.
  3. It may encourage you to eat healthier.

THE BAD:

  1. You might not like the guy Clementine ends up with.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
An hour later, I had an incredible-sounding portobello burger with avocado slices and roasted red peppers and a basic but kick-ass tofu stiry-fry.
READ IT IF:

  1. You like chick lit.
  2. You're thinking about becoming a vegetarian or a vegan.
  3. You like books wherein the heroine and her love interest are opposites.

RATING:
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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

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!

The culinary importance of soy sauce is no longer limited to the traditional foods of countries such as Japan, china, Korea, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam but now serves as a generic, umami-rich flavoring agent and a more complex-tasting substitute for salt in foods associated with a whole host of non-Asian countries.
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Monday, May 20, 2013

Review: The LIEography of Harry Houdini The Absolutely Untrue, Totally Made Up, 100% Fake Life Story of the Worlds Greatest Escape Artist by Alan Katz


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:

"This is the funniest book I've read since Dan Gutman's My Weird School series."--Dan Gutman
Fans of Captain Underpants and the Wimpy Kid series will love the silly, slapstick comedy in the parody The LIEography (™) of Harry Houdini. Get ready to split a side and roll on the floor laughing with Alan Katz's satirical look at history's greatest escape artist.
Magic is magical. And humor is humorous. Put them together and what have you got? Nothing… unless you read The LIEography (™) of Harry Houdini. And when you do, you’ll be giggling and laughing faster than you can say, “Presto Chango!” Readers everywhere agree: this is the funniest book ever written with this title!
You have to say “The Great” Harry Houdini. You have to. Really. It’s just the way it is.Because if you do leave out “The Great” when talking about him, strange things happen. Seems mystical, almost crazy, to be sure. But recent history shows that if you don’t add “The Great” to his name, you might have trouble talking, or even typing.
Find out what else didn't happen in The LIEography of Harry Houdini!
More about the series:
Perhaps you’ve heard that Babe Ruth “called his shot” before hitting a mammoth home run. Or learned about Columbus’s voyage to prove the earth was round. Maybe you’ve been told of the triumphs of people such as Thomas Edison and Houdini.
You may know some of the facts about these legendary figures.
But you’ve never been able to read their totally made up, absolutely untrue, 100% fake life stories. Until now.
Listen, why just focus on the historical…when you can have a whole series about the hysterical?
And that’s the whole idea behind…LIEographies.
Each edition of LIEographies hilariously examines the outrageously fake lives of the greats. Read a LIEography and you’re sure to want to read another…and another…and another. (And chances are you’re also gonna want to read the true stories of these amazing folks!)

MY TAKE:
I enjoyed this book as much as The LIEography of Babe Ruth.

In The LIEography of Harry Houdini, we get to learn about the fake life of one of the greatest magicians ever.

This book is just as silly as the Babe Ruth one. Since I'm more well-versed on Harry Houdini than Babe Ruth, this time around, I was able to spot the things that the book did have in common with Harry Houdini's life. It's not that close, but there are enough grains of fact here that the story works.

The story is pretty funny and as long as you don't take it too seriously, it's well worth a read.

Thanks to NetGalley and INscribe Digital for the e-copy.

THE GOOD:

  1. The book is funny.
  2. It's a good introduction to Harry Houdini.
  3. It encourages readers to learn more about Harry Houdini.

THE BAD:

  1. You don't really learn much about Harry Houdini's actual life.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
You don't ask a master chef for her special ingredients - you simply enjoy her meat loaf.
READ IT IF:

  1. You are a fan of Harry Houdini.
  2. You like funny stories.
  3. You want to introduce your kids to Harry Houdini.

RATING:
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Sunday, May 19, 2013

In My Mailbox



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

FROM NETGALLEY:


The LIEography of Harry Houdini The Absolutely Untrue, Totally Made Up, 100% Fake Life Story of the Worlds Greatest Escape Artist by Alan Katz
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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Review: The LIEography of Babe Ruth The Absolutely Untrue, Totally Made Up, 100% Fake Life Story of the Worlds Greatest Slugger by Alan Katz


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
"This is the funniest book I've read since Dan Gutman's My Weird School series."--Dan GutmanFans of Captain Underpants and the Wimpy Kid series will love the silly, slapstick comedy in the parody The LIEography ( ™ ) of Babe Ruth. Get ready 
MY TAKE:
Prior to this series, I don't think I've ever read a biography that insisted on being completely fictional and humorous.

In The LIEography of Babe Ruth, we get to learn about the fictional life story of Babe Ruth, from his birth until his old age.

Since I didn't grow up in America, there's only so much that I know of Babe Ruth. As such, I took everything in this story with a grain of salt and viewed it as just another children's book. This book goes all out to be ridiculous and it's obvious that the crazy things that happen didn't really happen in real life. Even so, the book succeeds in giving readers a good laugh and encouraging readers to find out if any of the things mentioned in the book were actually true or close to it.

Thanks to NetGalley and INscribe Digital for the e-copy.

THE GOOD:

  1. The book is funny.
  2. It encourages you to learn more about Babe Ruth.
  3. It is over-the-top ridiculous.

THE BAD:

  1. Most of it is fake so if you want to learn about Babe Ruth, you have to read a different book.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
If You're Coming to the Game on Opening Day, Bring Your Own Food. Babe Ate Everything They Had at the Stadium.
READ IT IF:

  1. You are a Babe Ruth fan.
  2. You like silly stories.
  3. You think regular biographies are boring.

RATING:
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Friday, May 17, 2013

Review: The Bramble by Lee Nordling (Author), Bruce Zick (Illustrator)


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
In this beautifully illustrated and mostly wordless book, Cameron isn't small, but he's not exactly big. He's not slow, but he's also not quick. He wants friends, but it never quite seems to work out. And in a game of tag, he's going to end up "it." Or at least that's how things are on this side of the Bramble. On the other side, it's a different story. On the other side of the Bramble, something extraordinary can happen, something that changes everything.
MY TAKE:
It's hard to write a children's book that relies on images instead of text and is able to succeed.

In the Bramble, Cameron is a scrawny boy who has a difficult time making friends. By chance, he finds a world wherein making friends and playing tag is much easier than he ever thought it would be.

The illustration style reminded me of Where the Wild Things Are. It was a little too dark for my taste, but it works well with the story. I felt bad for Cameron during the start of the story. That's why I was so invested in the things that happened to him in the Bramble. It's nice to see him transform from a meek kid to a confident one.

Thanks to NetGalley and Carolrhoda Books for the e-ARC. Publication date of The Bramble is on September 1, 2013.

THE GOOD:

  1. The story works well even with very little dialogue.
  2. Cameron is likable.
  3. The characters in the Bramble aren't exactly cute, but they're nice.

THE BAD:

  1. The illustration style might not work for everyone.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
You're it.
READ IT IF:

  1. You like the illustration style of Where the Wild Things Are.
  2. Your child still prefers picture books.
  3. Your child is having a hard time making friends.

RATING:
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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Review: Burly & Grum - Beyond the Forest The Burly & Grum Tales (1) by Kate Tenbeth


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:

Groblins live deep in the heart of the Great Forest and very few people know they exist.
Despite the fact Grum is only a young groblin his two brothers throw him out of his home and tell him he has to go away and prove that he’s brave before they’ll let him back. Grum decides that the best way to do this is to go and find a human and bring it back home.  Along the way he meets Burlington bear (Burly to his friends),  who takes him under his paw and together they go to town! They soon get into trouble and along the way discover cupcakes, carnivals, kittens and what humans are really all about. But will Grum manage to convince his brothers that he's brave?

MY TAKE:
I was intrigued by the idea of a children's book featuring a bear and a groblin.

In Burly & Grum, Burly the bear helps Grum the groblin try to prove that he's brave so he can go back home to his family. To do so, they travel to a city filled with humans, and that's where things become even more interesting.

The book was just okay for me. Burly & Grum had some funny moments, and their tongue-in-cheek humor can insert laughs almost anywhere. I also enjoyed the part wherein Burly and Grum would interact would things that were common to humans but not to them. As a whole, though, it didn't always hold my attention. I think it was because the writing style just didn't work for me. This book is better suited for young boys and people who like their children's books a little bit sarcastic.

Thanks to NetGalley and Smith Publicity - Magic Toy Books for the e-copy.

THE GOOD:

  1. There are some funny moments.
  2. There are illustrations to break the monotony.
  3. The author takes the concept of goblins, makes it new, and it works.

THE BAD:

  1. The writing style may not work for everyone.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
Burly reached over and helped himself to a bright yellow iced cup-cake with sprinkles on top and popped it in his mouth - delicious.
READ IT IF:

  1. You are sarcastic.
  2. You like tongue-in-cheek books.
  3. Your kid likes bears and goblins.

RATING:
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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Review: Fighting from a Distance How Filipino Exiles Helped Topple a Dictator by Jose V. Fuentecilla


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
During February 1986, a grassroots revolution overthrew the fourteen-year dictatorship of former president Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines. In this book, Jose V. Fuentecilla describes how Filipino exiles and immigrants in the United States played a crucial role in this victory, acting as the overseas arm of the opposition to help return their country to democracy. A member of one of the major U.S.-based anti-Marcos movements, Fuentecilla tells the story of how small groups of Filipino exiles--short on resources and shunned by some of their compatriots--arrived and survived in the United States during the 1970s, overcame fear, apathy, and personal differences to form opposition organizations after Marcos's imposition of martial law, and learned to lobby the U.S. government during the Cold War. In the process, he draws from multiple hours of interviews with the principal activists, personal files of resistance leaders, and U.S. government records revealing the surveillance of the resistance by pro-Marcos White House administrations. The first full-length book to detail the history of U.S.-based opposition to the Marcos regime, Fighting from a Distance provides valuable lessons on how to persevere against a well-entrenched opponent. A native of the Philippines, Jose V. Fuentecilla emigrated to the United States in the 1960s. He has lived and worked as a journalist and editor in New York City.
MY TAKE:
I was born almost a year after the People Power Revolution of 1986 (EDSA Revolution), but as a Filipino, it's hard not to feel connected to the events before and after Martial Law.

Fighting from a Distance tells the story of how several Filipino exiles, and even some who remained in the Philippines, were able to work together to bother and topple the Marcos regime. The facts and stories are presented in a very scholarly manner, with footnotes, sources and references, and reads much like any good piece of investigative journalism.

As a non-scholar and just an average person who wants to learn more about her culture, my favorite parts of the book were the anecdotes of the experiences of men such as former Senator Raul Manglapus. The book's strength is really in its storytelling. It's fascinating to learn how things were like for those in exile and those who were hunted down by the administration. There's only so much we can learn from history books. This book makes their stories more personal and sheds a little more light on the stuff we've read before.

I think those who have a more scholarly interest in the EDSA revolution, particularly with the Filipino-American community, will find this book more interesting and valuable. For me, it got a little bit too research paper-like at the end, focusing more on the organizations than on the individual persons.

Thanks to NetGalley and University of Illinois Press for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. You get more insight into life during the Martial Law era.
  2. You get to read about the lives and experiences of the Filipinos who lived in America during Martial Law.
  3. The book is well-researched.

THE BAD:

  1. Some parts can get boring for readers who are more interested in personal stories than a mix of personal stories and facts about organizations and how they worked.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
The Washington Post described the election as "phony... His wife Imelda, unleashed extra dollops of her formidable patronage and charm."
READ IT IF:

  1. You want to learn more about the Martial Law period in the Philippines.
  2. You are interested in how the Filipino exiles were able to contribute to the cause of removing Marcos from office.
  3. You are fascinated by Philippine history.

RATING:
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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

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!

It was the only code she could think of in a country where the Hispanic tongue has all but disappeared except in our Christian and last names.
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