Monday, March 31, 2014

Review: The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
A little girl and her canine assistant set out to make the most magnificent thing. But after much hard work, the end result is not what the girl had in mind. Frustrated, she quits. Her assistant suggests a long walk, and as they walk, it slowly becomes clear what the girl needs to do to succeed. A charming story that will give kids the most magnificent thing: perspective!
MY TAKE:
It's always nice to read books about young females who like inventing and creating things.

In The Most Magnificent Thing, a little girl imagines creating a most magnificent thing. At first, all her creations don't seem to be anything like the one she envisions in her mind. After walking it off, though, she is able to see the bigger picture and try and create again the most magnificent thing.

I don't recall ever reading a picture book about a really young girl inventor so this book's concept was quite fresh to me. I liked how realistic it was in portraying the creative and creation process. Most of the time, your first few attempts don't quite work out. It's up to you to keep trying or quit. This girl quit, but it's nice that her canine assistant was able to help her out of her rut. Inventors and other creative people need someone like that in their life.

The illustrations were okay for me, though they weren't really my style. I did, however, like the way that the foreground was colored in while the background was left white.

Thanks to NetGalley and Kids Can Press for the e-ARC. Publication date of The Most Magnificent Thing is on April 1, 2014.

THE GOOD:

  1. The little girl could inspire others to create things.
  2. It encourages people to keep trying.
  3. It's an interesting story.

THE BAD:

  1. The illustration style might not appeal to everyone.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
Her hard work attracts a few admirers, but they don't understand.
They can't see the MAGNIFICENT thing that she has in her mind. 
READ IT IF:

  1. Your child likes inventing or creating things.
  2. You want to teach your child about the value of perseverance.
  3. You are looking for picture books with smart female protagonists. 

RATING:
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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Unplanned Motherhood Feature and $100 Amazon or PayPal Cash Giveaway



unplanned motherhoodUnplanned Motherhood
Unplanned Motherhood is a non-fiction collection of short stories written by moms and dads about their funny inspirational or motivational journey as a parent. Unplanned Motherhood is based on the web series created by Lena Sledge.
Unplanned Motherhood is a comedy web series for perfectly imperfect families, starring Lena Sledge as Layla, a wife and mother of five that gives parenting advice on her real life mommy blog. Her unique parenting style contradicting with her perfect parenting advice lends to a distinct brand of humor. With each episode we see Layla teaching her kids life lessons as she discovers more about herself and the advice she gives to her readers. Unique to this web series is the actual blog that Layla writes where she gives the perfect parenting advice and after many of her posts, follows the tag line; to see how I really handled the situation watch this week's episode.
This web series is special because the viewers of the web series and the readers of the real life blog get to interact with Layla and let her know if her advice is on the money or share their own parenting advice. To follow the Unplanned Motherhood blog go to www.lenasledge.com. Stay tuned. Unplanned Motherhood debuts March 28th!!!!
If you'd like to submit a short story to be included in the book Unplanned Motherhood, send 500 words or less tosonnybrookfilms@yahoo.com. Short story must be clean, family friendly as well as funny, inspirational or motivational.


Sneak Peek:



Unplanned Motherhood Cast
Unplanned Motherhood Cast
Starring Morgan Hamilton as Sonny, Stefani Colvin as Brooke, Grayson Kilpatrick as Deacon, Aidan Heuer as Spoon, and Ari Heuer as Ari.



Episode 1:




LenaAuthor Lena Sledge

Lena Sledge is an awarding winning author. Her first book, a collection of short stories called If I Had My Way, won the 2012 African American Literary Award for Best Short Story/Anthology. Her short film, Grandma's Hands, won 3rd place at the River City Film Festival in March 2014. Her most recent project, a comedy web series called Unplanned Motherhood debuts on March 28th on Youtube. Lena Sledge has collaborated on many literary projects as well as tv and film projects. She offers advice, resources, and tips on writing, navigating the independent film industry as well as reviews and highlights about upcoming books and authors. Lena Sledge also enjoys photography, you can view some of her photography work on her website as well as Flickr.
book blast button







Blast Giveaway

$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 4/21/14

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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In My Mailbox


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

FROM NETGALLEY:



Moms' Night Out by Tricia Goyer
Sous Chef 24 Hours on the Line by Michael Gibney
Benji Franklin: Kid Zillionaire by Raymond Bean
Dream Birthday by Ruby Ann Phillips
The Secret of the Sea Creature by Laurie S. Sutton
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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Review: Starring Me and You by Geneviève Côté


MY TAKE:
This was a cute story, even if I couldn't completely understand the connection between the ending and the bulk of the story.

In Starring Me and You, a pig and a bunny compare and contrast how they react to certain feelings and situations.

I liked this book, mostly because of the illustrations. I like picture books wherein the drawings look as if they'd been colored in with watercolors. It looks classy but still fun and interesting.

Because there was no blurb on NetGalley, I wasn't quite sure what to expect other than that the graphics were my type. The title, the first few lines and the last few lines refer to the pig and the bunny pretending that they're in a play. The bulk of the story, however, is about their differing reactions to things. I thought that was a nice idea that I haven't seen before in a picture book. I was a little unsure, though how the last line "Whatever we are, whatever we do, the stage is always big enough for me and you," was supposed to relate to the rest of the book. Other than that, this was a good book.

Thanks to NetGalley and Kids Can Press for the e-copy.

THE GOOD:

  1. The illustrations are pretty.
  2. The characters are charming.
  3. The story is interesting.

THE BAD:

  1. Some may feel a disconnect between the bulk of the story and the last line.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
Now I'm all set! Let's be
sunflowers and sing a duet. 
READ IT IF:

  1. You want to teach your child about how people can react and act differently to things.
  2. You like picture books with simple but beautiful illustrations.
  3. You are looking for books about opposites but don't want the usual books.

RATING:
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Friday, March 28, 2014

Review: Samantha Sanderson At the Movies by Robin Caroll


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
A new addition to the Faithgirlz trusted brand of books, Samantha Sanderson’s Big Story introduces us to Sam Sanderson, an independent, resourceful, future award-winning journalist, and her best friend Makayla, two 7th graders who enjoy shopping, texting, going to the mall, the skating rink---and sniffing out the next big mysteries to report in the school paper.
MY TAKE:
I was irritated while reading this book, but the mystery made up for the not-so-okay parts.

In Samantha Sanderson At the Movies, Sam is an ordinary 7th grader who dreams of becoming a journalist. When a bomb is found at the local cinema, Sam makes it her mission to get to the bottom of the mystery, while at the same time reporting the details for her school paper.

Sam has plenty of theories, most of which are at least remotely plausible. In that sense, she's a good detective. I think she's actually make a better detective than a reporter. Why? Because she does a number of questionable things throughout the book. I used to write for my school paper, and some of the articles Sam wrote wouldn't fly at all. The thing is, there's a difference between just stating facts and stating facts but adding something in the phrasing or the content that leads to a conclusion that's not good at all. Editorializing and sensationalizing are not cool unless you're writing a column. Because she wrote for her school paper's blog, I guess it can sort of count as a column so what she did was probably as close to libel without actually being libel.

That said, the plot was interesting. It took me awhile to guess who might have done it, although the clues were planted early on. That's the mark of a good mystery.

The strange thing is even though Sam annoyed me a lot throughout the book, I'm actually looking forward to reading more books in the series.

Thanks to NetGalley and Zonderkidz for the e-ARC. Publication date of Samantha Sanderson At the Movies is on May 1, 2014.

THE GOOD:

  1. The mystery is well-conceptualized.
  2. It's a kid's novel but adults can enjoy it as well.
  3. The plot is interesting.

THE BAD:
  1. Sam can be annoying and selfish.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
"It's hard to balance everything you want to do, and everything you're good at, but sometimes you have to choose."
READ IT IF:

  1. You like mysteries.
  2. Your child dreams of becoming like Nancy Drew.
  3. You're looking for a young Christian heroine your daughter can possible relate to. 

RATING:
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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Review: Planning Perfect Parties The Girls' Guide to Fun, Fresh, Unforgettable Events by Jen Jones


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Learn how to throw a pampering party that will go down in history. Or plan a game night, a costume party, a themed bash with friends—anything you dream up! Perfect Parties will fuel your creativity and supply you with tips and techniques to make your next party a can't-miss success.
For ages 8-14.
* More than 10 creative party themes perfect for teens!
* Recipes, tips, favors and decorations included for each theme
* Companion website that unlocks additional content for teens to use in planning their party (including budget tools, shopping lists, invite templates, etc.)
About the Author:
Using her past experience as a writer for E! Online, Jen Jones has written more than 40 books about celebrities, crafting, cheerleading, fashion, and just about any other obsession a girl in middle school could have — including her popular Team Cheer! series for Capstone. Jen lives in Los Angeles.

MY TAKE:
It wasn't until I got older that I got interested in hosting parties, but if your child is interested in throwing a party at home, this book may be the kind of thing she's looking for.

In Planning Perfect Parties The Girls' Guide to Fun, Fresh, Unforgettable Events, young readers are walked through the aspects of planning, hosting and cleaning up a party. The book includes themes you can try, recipes, and checklists.

This book is the ultimate must-have for young girls who want to host parties (not the wild kind) but don't know where to start. The checklists and the tips are invaluable, if a little old school. By that, I mean, there's emphasis on etiquette, how to get people to participate, etc. That's a good thing, as good manners are always important.

The book has a few recipes, some decor tips and tutorials, as well as a link to a dedicated website wherein you can plan your own party. There's even a section on budgeting.

I wasn't too impressed in the beginning. The layout, the designs and the checklist were things I already expected in a book like this. However, I was thoroughly impressed when I reached the section featuring different party ideas. There were party ideas given that were just ideas with a line or two of suggestions, but there were also a number of party ideas that included invitation design suggestions, decor, a food recipe, drink recipe, favor suggestions, and plenty of pretty pictures. This section alone should make you want to get the book.

Thanks to NetGalley and Capstone Young Readers for the e-ARC. Publication date of Planning Perfect Parties The Girls' Guide to Fun, Fresh, Unforgettable Events is on April 1, 2014.

THE GOOD:

  1. The party suggestions are complete and creative.
  2. The recipes and other tutorials are easy to follow.
  3.  There's a website you can visit for additional resources.

THE BAD:

  1. Some parts may be feel a little boring.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
Focus on the most important 20 percent of a project and the rest will take care of itself. 
READ IT IF:

  1. Your child wants to throw a party but doesn't know where to start.
  2. Your child is looking for creative party ideas.
  3. You need party ideas for your child's birthday.

RATING:
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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Review: Hipster Fashion by Karen Latchana Kenney


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Is your style…
• quirky and clever but relaxed?
• a combo of flowy and structured pieces?
• an unconventional mix of patterns, accessories, cuts, and textures?
Then you've got that hipster vibe! Good thing you have lots of style experts to look up to. Stars like Miley Cyrus and Emma Watson are always pushing hipster fashion to the next level. With a few hip style staples and a splash of originality, you can create your own super trendy hipster fashion. Find out about the clothes, accessories, and hairstyles that radiate hipster fashion—and discover how you can use them to create your own eclectic style!

MY TAKE:
I never considered myself a hipster before, but reading this book makes me think I might have been a hipster-at-heart all along.

In Hipster Fashion, readers can browse through pictures of different hipster clothes and accessories, as well as see tutorials for making hipster clothes and shoes.

There are many things I like about this book. One is the layout and graphics used. The patterns make me think of Cath Kidston, while the overall look feels like a spread for a teen fashion magazine, like Teen Vogue or Seventeen.

Second, I liked the clothes and the photos used. The clothes are gorgeous and, though I don't think I can pull it off so I don't wear clothes like these, these are exactly the kind of clothes I like. I especially like the ones that lean towards the quirky/girly/classic side.

Third, I liked the tutorials. I probably won't do them because even though I like arts and crafts, the stuff I create very rarely lives up to my standards and ends up going to waste.

One thing that I did find a little surprising, though, was the mention of Miley Cyrus as a hipster. I never thought of Miley Cyrus as a hipster, ever, but maybe it's just because I can't get the image of her twerking out of my head.

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

THE GOOD:

  1. The book looks like a spread for a fashion magazine.
  2. The clothes are gorgeous.
  3. The tutorials are interesting and helpful.

THE BAD:

  1. The last part of the book containing things like "hipster songs" and movies to "watch to get in the hipster spirit" is a good idea but there are only a few examples.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
The hipster look is all about balance. For example, to counter a feminine vintage piece, add some accessories with a masculine touch.
READ IT IF:

  1. You consider yourself a hipster.
  2. You've always wondered what actually qualifies as hipster fashion.
  3. You like reading fashion magazines.

RATING:
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Tuesday, March 25, 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!
Thick and chunky frames with black rims are perfect for the hipster look, and some bold color works too.
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Monday, March 24, 2014

Review: The ABC's of Yoga For Kids by Teresa Power


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
The ABCs of Yoga for Kids uses the alphabet, rhyming vignettes, and colorful illustrations to introduce children to yoga in a kid-friendly way. Each of the 56 different poses featured in the book delightfully promote flexibility, strength, and coordination while encouraging children to incorporate healthy activity into their daily lives. Yoga is a non-competitive form of exercise, suitable for children (and adults) of all ages and athletic abilities. Any activity for young children is important because the nation, including our youth, is under siege by obesity, stress, and diseases like diabetes, which stem from poor diet and lack of exercise. Yoga for young kids will create good habits and a foundation for well-being. Children have a lot of fun learning new positions, new letters, and new ideas. This book will delight and bring joy to the early yoga practitioner.
MY TAKE:

Even though, I'm officially giving this book only three stars, I think this book will have plenty of fans.

In The ABC's of Yoga For Kids, children will learn how to do various yoga poses through the illustrations and the accompanying verses.

This book is a really good starting point not just for kids but also for other yoga beginners. The cute drawings and the verses make it easy to copy the poses. The poses aren't particularly complicated either, as there are really simple poses like the Queen, wherein you basically stand up straight, like a regal queen. I also found out that there were some poses that I liked to do for fun as a kid, like the telephone, which are actually yoga poses. I guess that means that yoga is a perfect activity for active kids.

Thanks to NetGalley and Bookmasters, Inc. for the e-copy.

THE GOOD:

  1. The drawings and verses are easy to follow.
  2. The poses are easy enough for beginners.
  3. The book is a great introduction for beginners.  

THE BAD:

  1. The vocabulary used may be too advanced for younger children.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
Getting ready to spring forward,
I look to the sky. 
READ IT IF:

  1. You're curious about yoga but are intimidated by yoga books for adults.
  2. You like yoga and want your child to try it with you.
  3. Your child likes contorting himself/herself into weird poses.

RATING:
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Sunday, March 23, 2014

In My Mailbox


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

FROM NETGALLEY:



The Art of Plants vs. Zombies: A Visual Retro Retrospec Book by Various
Custom Confections Delicious Desserts You Can Create and Enjoy by Jen Besel
The Frankenstein Journals by Scott Sonneborn
The Isobel Journal Just a Northern Girl from Where Nothing Really Happens by Isobel Harrop
Rich Kids of Instagram A Novel by The Creator of Rich Kids of Instagram, Maya Sloan
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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Review: How I Got Skinny, Famous, and Fell Madly in Love by Ken Baker


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
"Thick. Heavy. Big boned. Plump. Full figured. Chunky. Womanly. Large. Curvy. Plus-size. Hefty." To sixteen-year-old Emery Jackson, these are all just euphemisms for the big "F" word—"fat." Living on a Southern California beach with her workout fiend dad, underwear model sister, and former model mother, it is impossible for Emery not to be aware of her weight.
Emery is okay with how things are. That is, until her "momager" signs her up for Fifty Pounds to Freedom, a reality show in which Emery will have to lose fifty pounds in fifty days in order to win the million dollars that will solve her family's financial woes. Emery is skeptical of the process, but when the pounds start to come off and the ratings skyrocket, she finds it hard to resist the adoration of her new figure and the world of fame. Emery knows that things have changed. But is it for the better?

MY TAKE:
If Bridget Jones had grown up as an American teenager in this decade, I imagine she would be a lot like Emery.

In How I Got Skinny, Famous, and Fell Madly in Love, Emery Jackson is a sarcastic, brutally honest, funny girl who just happens to be obese. Her family are all fitness buffs and she's the only one who prefers eating to exercise and dieting. However, because of her family's financial woes, she's forced to agree to her mother's plans for her and her family to star in a reality television show. Her show is a success but as it turns out, her reality is about to get a lot more complicated.

Before I entered college, I was super thin and had trouble gaining weight. It was only in the last two years of college that I gained weight. At that time, the weight gain bothered me but I didn't really do anything about it because eating while studying seemed like the most natural thing in the world. I slimmed down again after college and only started to gain weight before I got pregnant. Right now, I've lost most of the baby weight, but the pounds that remain are all in my stomach. Emery is relatable to me because even though I'm almost half her weight, I really like food and I find it hard to cut out sweets right now because I stopped eating them while I was pregnant and now I'm sort of making up for lost time.

What I like about Emery is that she doesn't pull any punches. She's sarcastic without really being mean, and she loves herself for who she is, while at the same time not being in denial about the need to be healthy and lose weight.

I don't know how real the portrayal of the reality show behind-the-scenes action is but it certainly sounds plausible.

The only thing that kept me from rating this as 5-stars was the ending. I felt unsatisfied with it. It felt like there were a lot of loose ends. Maybe there's going to be a sequel?

Thanks to NetGalley and Running Press Kids for the e-ARC. Publication date of How I Got Skinny, Famous, and Fell Madly in Love is on April 22, 2014.

THE GOOD:

  1. Emery is funny.
  2. You get to see what it's like to be a reality TV star.
  3. The book acknowledges healthy versus unhealthy weight loss methods.


THE BAD:

  1. The ending doesn't feel satisfying.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
There's In-N-Out, where normally I like to order two "Double-Doubles," large fries, and a chocolate shake. And there's Old Faithful: Mickey D's and its to-die-for vanilla shakes and Big Macs with blissful special sauce.And across the street sits the twofer culinary heaven of Carl's Jr. and the Green Burrito, a genius concept featuring an all-American burger joint and a Mexican eatery - under the very same roof! Then there's Carl's Jr., whose Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger and its glorious stack of two beef patties, two slices of American cheese, crispy onion rings, and "tasty BBQ sauce on a toasted sesame seed bun" is so good California should legally classify it as a narcotic.
READ IT IF:

  1. You liked the Bridget Jones series.
  2. You like characters that tell it like it is.
  3. You're a fan of reality TV.

RATING:
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Friday, March 21, 2014

Review: Batman Science The Real-World Science Behind Batman's Gear by Tammy Enz and Agnieszka Biskup


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
When it comes to fighting crime, technology is Batman’s greatest weapon. From his gadget-packed Utility Belt to his high-tech Batmobile, the Dark Knight tackles Gotham’s criminal underworld. But does any of his gear have a basis in reality? Or is it merely the stuff of fiction? Batman Science uncovers the real-world connections to Batman’s tech—and much of it will surprise you!
For ages 10-15.
*First Capstone partnership with DC Comics on a nonfiction title
*Showcases the connection between fictional gadgets and the real world science that makes them work
*Cool technology—meets STEM and Next Generation standards 

MY TAKE:
I'm not a huge Batman fan, but my husband is interested in most comic book characters and my son would probably grow up liking Batman too, so I figured I should read up on this stuff.

In Batman Science The Real-World Science Behind Batman's Gear, readers get a peek at the real-world equivalent of Batman's gadgets and modes of transportation.

The book covers everything from his gloves to his utility belt to the Batmobile. I knew Batman's suit, utility belt, etc. were complicated, but I never really figured how many there were until I read this book. Of course, I always figured Batman's gloves were just ordinary gloves, which shows that I probably haven't watched enough episodes of the show.

Most of Batman's things are based on objects that are not too dissimilar from the ones used by Batman.

I liked that there were plenty of factoids like when a certain device or transportation was first created. There were also plenty of pictures so readers can see what the real-life gadgets look like. Most of the things discussed were stuff I already knew, but it was nice to learn a couple or so things that I didn't know yet. For example, I had no idea that there were actually two types of shuriken. The bo shuriken were more like blades, while the hira shuriken is the throwing star most of us are familiar with. I have seen a bo shuriken before but I didn't know that that was classified as a shuriken. This is exactly the kind of thing that young boys and girls with an interest in gadgets will definitely enjoy.

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

THE GOOD:

  1. The book is very thorough and detailed.
  2. There are plenty of pictures.
  3. The layout and design will appeal to young kids.

THE BAD:

  1. The tone of the writing may bore kids who are quick to lose interest. 

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
Night-vision goggles produce green pictures because human eyes are most sensitive to green light.

READ IT IF:

  1. You or your child are fans of Batman.
  2. Your child likes gadgets.
  3. You've always wondered how realistic Batman's gadgets are. 

RATING:
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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Review: Maren Loves Luke Lewis by Jen Jones


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Four best friends plus one weekly tradition equals a whole lot of fun! Meet the Sleepover Girls: Ashley, Delaney, Maren, and Willow. Every Friday, new memories are made as these sixth-grade girls gather together for crafts, fashion, cooking, and of course, girl talk! Grab your pillow, settle in, and get to know the Sleepover Girls.
The Sleepover Girls just found out some MAJOR news. Teen pop star Luke Lewis is returning to his hometown of Valley View (which just happens to be their hometown as well) to hold a special benefit concert! Maren is the biggest fan, and she's dead set on winning tickets from the local radio station's contest. The challenge? Create a love letter to Valley View showing your hometown pride. Maren wastes no time enlisting the Sleepover Girl's help to make the most awesome scrapbook ever. Will her project hit the right note?

MY TAKE:
I'm a fan of The Babysitters Club, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and other similar books that celebrate friendships so I figured that this book would be right up my alley.

In Maren Loves Luke Lewis, the focus is on Maren, who is a huge fan of Luke Lewis, a pop star who used to live in their town. When Luke comes back to town for a concert, fans are given a chance to meet him and help present a key to the city. Maren is determined to win the contest and enlists her friends' help to make it happen.

Out of the four girls, I am most similar to Delaney. However, I do have that determined streak that Maren has, and since I've been a fan girl (of a basketball player, though), I definitely get where she is coming from. The girls' friendship is nice to read about because they all complement each other well and they stick with each other through thick and thin.

I thought that I knew exactly how this story would play out, but I'm happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised. There were some parts that were predictable, of course, but that's okay in the long run. The ending shows that you can have a happy ending even if things don't happen the way you want it to happen.

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

THE GOOD:

  1. The girls have a beautiful friendship.
  2. Girls will most likely relate to Maren's determination to meet her idol.
  3. The story has a few surprises up its sleeve.

THE BAD:

  1. Some parts are predictable.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
Ashley giggled. "Ahh, young love," she joked. "You know boys only tease the girls they like." My mom was always saying the same thing.
READ IT IF:

  1. You like books celebrating friendship.
  2. You have ever been anyone's #1 fan.
  3. You would like to recommend a book to your daughter that she'll be able to relate to.

RATING:
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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Review: The Order of the Owls by Elisa Puricelli Guerra


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
When a couple comes to Minerva's mansion, claiming to be her parents, she knows they are lying in hopes of gaining her home and land. She just has to prove it. Luckily, her new friends are there to help her.
For ages 7-10. From the Minerva Mint series. No one knows for sure where Minerva Mint came from. She just appeared in a London train station one day‚ a baby in a bag. Since then she's been living with Mrs. Flopps, the woman who found her, in a rundown mansion called Lizard Manor. It's been nine years now, and Minerva is no closer to finding her parents. Fortunately, her two new friends, Thomasina and Ravi, have turned the mystery of finding her identity into a wonderful adventure.
* A new and modern Pippi Longstocking
* Irresistible mix of curiosity and adventure
* Illustrated with vintage-style drawings
About the Author:
Elisa Puricelli Guerra was born in Milan, Italy. She always dreamed of becoming a writer (or an astronaut or a witch) and her love of books was born when her mother read the Pippi Longstocking books to her aloud. Like Pippi, Guerra has red hair — a fact that has caused many problems. She never got away with anything in school, because her flaming red hair always caught the attention of the teachers. As a writer, she often gives the main characters in her stories red hair, too, but she makes them extra clever, so they get away with a bit more than she did. Guerra also works as a freelance writer and translator, but if she could make a living by just reading, that is exactly what she would do!
About the Illustrator:
Gabo Leon Bernstein was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He studied graphic design at the University of Buenos Aires and comic art at the Garaycochea Art School. In addition to illustrating several international book series, he has worked on character and toy design for television, background design for animation on movies and TV, and editorial illustration for advertising agencies and magazines. The more he struggles to learn how to play the violin, the more he’s convinced that visual artwork is his life and passion.

MY TAKE:
It's nice to read books about quirky heroines that accepts the character's odd traits as they are, without pointing them out at nearly every turn.

In The Order of the Owls, Minerva Mint was abandoned in a train station as a child, but among the belongings she was abandoned with was the deed to a manor. Fast forward nine years later, and countless impostors had tried to get the manor by pretending to be her parents. Thankfully, Minerva has some new friends, Thomasina and Ravi, who will help her get rid of the latest pretenders and maybe solve the mystery of who Minerva's parents really were.

I really liked the way Minerva was found. The seemingly random objects she was found with are all important to the mystery of her ancestry, and readers can guess along as the series goes to see if they can learn who Minerva's parents are or how to find them.

The blurb emphasizes the couple who comes to claim Minerva and the manor, but that story felt like just a side story because the focus of the book seems to be on Minerva's mysterious origins. That's perfectly fine with me because that plotline was pretty interesting.

However, it felt like the action really only got started in the last 1/4th of the book. I mean, there were things happening throughout the book but the most exciting bits were really in the latter half of the book. This helps give it momentum going into the second book in the series, though, and it made me want to read the next books in the series.

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

THE GOOD:

  1. Minerva is interesting.
  2. The mystery of her origins is interesting.
  3. The other characters are likeable as well.

THE BAD:

  1. The first puzzle they tackle related to the contents of Minerva's travel bag may be easy to solve.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
The house was surrounded by a huge garden, which was the kingdom of rabbits and moles. In spring and summer, it was covered by a carpet of orange and pink flowers. Then, in the evening, the flowers were replaced by dozens of fireflies.
READ IT IF:

  1. You like quirky heroines.
  2. You like mysteries that are written in a light-hearted tone.
  3. You like reading books that are part of a series.

RATING:
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SOUNDS INTERESTING?

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Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Tuesday, March 18, 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!

Meanwhile, all I can think is that it's three o'clock and I haven't eaten since noon, back in the dark ages when I scarfed down a couple of double-cheese quesadillas with sour cream and extra hot salsa topped off with a contraband Twix bar I had stashed in my panties drawer, before Mom drove me an hour up the 405 to this Palace of Pop Culture.

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Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Review: The Dark Lady by Irene Adler


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
While on summer vacation, little Irene Adler meets a young William Sherlock Holmes. The two share stories of pirates and have battles of wit while running wild on the sunny streets and rooftops. When Sherlock's friend, Lupin, joins in on the fun, they all become fast friends. But the good times end abruptly when a dead body floats ashore on the nearby beach. The young detective trio will have to put all three of their heads together to solve this mystery.
For ages 9-13.
* First story in this engaging crime series
* Features the ever-popular detective Sherlock Holmes as a kid
* Story is told by Sherlock’s love interest, Irene Adler

About the Illustrator:
I once had a very special friend who had everything he could possibly want. You see, ever since we were kids, he owned a magical pencil with two perfectly sharp ends. Whenever my friend wanted something, he drew it and it came to life! Once, he drew a spaceship and we boarded it and went on a nice little tour around the galaxy. Another time, he drew a sparkling red plane that was very similar to the Red Baron’s, only a little smaller. He piloted us inside a giant volcano that had erupted only an hour earlier. Whenever my friend was tired, he drew a big bed. We dreamed through the night until the morning light shone through the drawn shades. This great friend of mine eventually moved to China…but he left his magic pencil with me!

MY TAKE:
When I first read the story's summary, my first thought was "Irene, Sherlock and Lupin?" Color me intrigued.

In The Dark Lady, young Irene Adler meets Sherlock Holmes and Arsene Lupin while trying to get away from her mother and butler. The three get along well. The real adventure begins, however, when they discover a dead body on the beach and decide to get to the bottom of the mystery of man's identity and what brought him to that shore.

I know Irene Adler only appeared in one Sherlock Holmes story, but I did like how Rachel McAdams portrayed her in the movies, so I was curious as to how she would be portrayed here. I rather like Irene in this book, as she's spunky and tough, and while she wants things her way, she doesn't seem like a spoiled brat. I also like how she stands up to Sherlock and Lupin when she feels like they're being rude.

There's sort of a love triangle going on here, but it seems that she's leaning more towards Sherlock. It's a good things that the romance part of the story is in the background, because otherwise, it would take away from the mystery in the story.

With most mysteries and thrillers I read and watch, I try to figure out the plot twist before the reveal and usually I get it right. In some instances when I don't, it's because the plot twist is forced, not enough clues were given, or the answer was outlandish. With The Dark Lady, however, I wasn't able to get the answer but everything seemed logical when it was described near the ending.

I'm definitely looking forward to the next books in the series.

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

THE GOOD:

  1. You get to imagine what Irene, Sherlock and Lupin were like when they were younger.
  2. The mystery is pretty good.
  3. Irene is a tough cookie.

THE BAD:

  1. The story would be more cohesive without the mystery of the Rooftop Thief.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
I'd never told anyone where my room was. How could Sherlock have known? The only possible explanation was that he'd spied on me, which irritated me. But the thought also made me smile.
READ IT IF:

  1. You're a fan of Sherlock Holmes.
  2. You like reading derivative works featuring younger versions of characters you like.
  3. You like a good mystery.

RATING:
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SOUNDS INTERESTING?
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Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

In My Mailbox


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

FROM NETGALLEY:



The Dark Lady by Irene Adler
Goodnight Football by Michael Dahl
Get Lost, Odysseus! by Kate McMullan
Chloe by Design: Making the Cut by Margaret Gurevich
Maren Loves Luke Lewis by Jen Jones
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Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.
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