Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Scents and Senses Book Blast and Giveaway



scentsScents and Senses: Supernatural Friends. What the fairy tales didn’t tell you

Playing the role of a knight in shining armor is more complicated than it seems in the storybooks, as sixteen-year-old Joy discovers when she repeatedly comes to the rescue of a fifteen-year-old human. But when she meddles in the girl’s social life, Starra sends her packing.

Starra is determined to completely dissociate herself from the subterranean creature that has manipulated her life and cast her into the limelight. However, her resolve is soon tested when she becomes involved in a critical situation where supernatural assistance can enable her to carry out a daring plot.

Eventually, Starra’s involvement with her new other-wordly friends extracts a heavy price when she is beset by challenges that range from the down- to-earth struggles of a typical teenage student, to the realm of the fantastic. Nothing prepares her, however, for the ultimate challenge.



Excerpt

Joy

Ever since I’ve been old enough to kick off on a condor with my own two chicken feet, I’ve been drilled to mind my own business.

Mind your own business, the first of the American Ten Commandments.

It’s not one I subscribe to, even though in our community, not minding my own business means more than social suicide; it’s a crime when we ascend above ground.

For thousands of years we deeems have kept away from the creatures running over our heads with their five-toed feet. So if anyone in my community gets wind of the risky job I’m on these days, I’m practically a goner. But that doesn’t stop me from shadowing a certain teenage fivetoe.

There’s also a totally different occupational hazard involved in this position I’ve created for myself, one I’m suffering from right now: this job occasionally makes school seem relatively stimulating. Yawn. I’ve played too many Angry Condor games to count since Starra got involved in some fantasy book a couple of hours ago and lost contact with the real world. Even if I knew how to become visible to the fivetoe eye and suddenly revealed myself, I bet she wouldn’t notice me, the cute teen perched on her windowsill.

Time simply refuses to advance, and I have to resort to counting the spider eggs cocooned in their nest on a nearby tree branch. A sudden sigh interrupts my lame occupation. There’s a starry look in the big eyes, and I notice the novel is slipping out of Starra’s dreamy grip. This is my window of opportunity! I finger the starchy edge of the book jacket and coax the book forward.

Thud. The book falls to the floor, and the movement seems to bring Starra back to her senses. At last she grabs a hoodie and sets out, probably for one of her night excursions on the Vista Del Mar Path. Are we running or biking tonight?

Running it is. I jog behind her, finding the excursion by the shoreline an improvement to watching her read. At least we are moving.

She runs for half an hour, at a speed faster than the sea turtle pace usual for fivetoes. Then she slows to a stop at a jagged rock, half-submerged in the ocean. I groan quietly and contemplate leaving. From experience, I know she’ll climb to the top of her rock and dream away. I start backing off, but when I’m some fifty feet away, I look back. Starra makes a pretty picture there, her silhouette perched high on the rock. Her long legs are tucked under her, and her head hangs back as she keeps her gaze on the stars above. If only she would let loose the heavy dark mane of hair she always twists up at the back of her neck, she would truly look like a mermaid risen from the sea.

Something pulls me back to her. I can’t explain it, but I have a feeling trouble is lurking nearby, waiting to snatch her in its net.

My chicken feet make an about face and follow Starra home as she takes the shorter route through town.
Scents and Scenses Blog Tour


Author Loren Secretts

Loren Secretts was raised in a book-filled home, in a sleepy east coast suburb of the US. These factors are undoubtedly responsible for her early design of a number of exciting imaginary worlds that she could escape to from time to time during her childhood.
In her teen years, between schoolwork and lending an ear to her friends, Loren had less opportunity to go AWOL. Instead, her experience as a confidant to others inspired her to major in psychology in college and earn her M.A. in the field on the west coast.
As an adult, Loren has found fulfillment in her work with children and families for more than a decade. Her passion for writing was revived when she discovered that she enjoyed delving into the human psyche to write psychological reports.
But clients' reports are safe with Loren, who guards secrets fastidiously. Indeed, one of her aspirations is to work as a psychotherapist for the CIA, but since she now lives with her family in Canada, that dream will have to await its turn…



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Blast Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 5/27/14

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.

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Tuesday, April 29, 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!

Allow your kids to get creative and concoct a new recipe of their own.
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Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Review: The Art of Plants vs. Zombies: A Visual Retro Retrospec Book by Various


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Get the story of the mulchifying super hit Plants vs. Zombies from the zombies' point of view!
The Art of Plants vs. Zombies is part zombie memoir, part celebration of zombie triumphs, and part anti-plant screed, as well as a treasure trove of rare concept art, sketches, and more covering Plants vs. Zombies, Plants vs. Zombies 2, Plants vs. Zombies Adventures, and Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare.
It's a must-have for any fan and an insider's view of zombies with some Wall-nutty surprises and never-before-seen awesome art. Even Crazy Dave wants a copy — if only to learn more about his fun-dead foes!
KEY SELLING POINTS:
• The original Plants vs. Zombies game has been installed over 100 million times and boasts over 16 million monthly active users!
• Part art book — part zombie memoir
• Eighty-eight pages of “behind-the-leaves” material!

MY TAKE:
Does the game Plants vs. Zombies still need an explanation?

In The Art of Plants vs. Zombies: A Visual Retro Retrospec Book, readers can see drawings (concept sketches, etc.) of their favorite plants and zombies characters. There are also commentary from the zombies interspersed throughout the book.

After playing the game, I developed a deep dislike of certain zombies, like the ones which steal random plants. As such, I was more interested in seeing the different plants and the concept sketches for the different characters. There were plenty of those, but I still felt like it lacked something, specifically more text.

The zombies' commentaries were what you'd expect from zombies, but they were typically short text and I felt like there wasn't enough narrative to tie the contents of the book together.

It is a nice book to look at, however, if you're a big fan of the game.

Thanks to NetGalley and Dark Horse Comics for the e-ARC. Publication date of The Art of Plants vs. Zombies: A Visual Retro Retrospec Book is on May 27, 2014.

THE GOOD:

  1. There are character concept sketches.
  2. You get to see your favorite characters from the game.
  3. You get to see the game's developments.

THE BAD:

  1. It feels like there's not enough narrative to make the content flow better.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
This art guy drew a comic.
We posed for it.
He asked cause
he very smart and
we very pretty.

READ IT IF:

  1. You're a fan of the game.
  2. You like seeing concept and development sketches.
  3. You like relatively cute zombies.

RATING:
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Sunday, April 27, 2014

In My Mailbox


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

FROM NETGALLEY:



The Kitchen Magpie A Delicious Melange of Culinary Curiosities, Fascinating Facts, Amazing Anecdotes and Expert Tips for the Food-lover by James Steen
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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Review: The Family Dinner Cookbook Recipes and Inspiration for Quality Time Together by Compiled by Barbour Staff


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Enhance your quality “together” time with The Family Dinner Cookbook. . .featuring loads of easy-to-prepare, delicious dishes plus prayers and inspiration. Approximately 300 hand-picked recipes for simple meals, desserts, no-bake dishes, and more will delight the taste buds of even the choosiest eaters in your family; and a generous offering of smart, fun, creative tips and ideas will inspire you to spend quality time together with your loved ones.
MY TAKE:
A lot of cookbooks promise easy recipes but they're not always as quick and simple as they seem to be.

In The Family Dinner Cookbook Recipes and Inspiration for Quality Time Together, readers get easy-to-prepare dishes, some of which can be done by children. There are also quote, Bible verses, and suggestions for theme nights.

One thing I like about this book is that the recipes really are easy. There are sandwiches and no-bake desserts, so of course, those are pretty easy to prepare. However, I appreciated the couple of recipes that made use of microwaves, since I don't really have a lot of time to cook. I tried the omelet in a mug recipe since it seemed really simple and I had the ingredients on hand. It turns out, though, that we were out of cheese so I had to make do without it. The resulting omelet was pretty bland, but it was fluffy and firm enough. I think the shredded cheese would have definitely made this taste great.

I also liked that the recipes use ingredients like canned soup, frozen vegetables, and mixes. I know that fresh stuff always tastes better, but when you're really busy, these will do in a pinch. The kids' recipes are pretty simple and easy to, with some of them being more of an assembly thing than a cooking thing.

There's also a conversion table, which was pretty handy and informative, although I did wonder what it was doing in the middle of the book.

The graphics and layout are eye-catching and fun. The Bible quotes and other quotes were a nice touch, but they don't always relate to food, so adding some of them felt like a little bit of a stretch.

Thanks to NetGalley and Barbour Publishing for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. The recipes are easy to follow.
  2. The food looks delicious.
  3. It's something the whole family can enjoy. 

THE BAD:

  1. The cooking connection of some of the quotes feels a little forced. 

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
If your soup has been oversalted, cut up a raw potato or two and drop into the pot.
READ IT IF:

  1. You're looking for recipes you can prepare quickly.
  2. You're looking for recipes you can do with your kids.
  3. You like cookbooks that have quotes in them. 

RATING:
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Friday, April 25, 2014

Review: He Texted The Ultimate Guide to Decoding Guys by Lisa Winning, Carrie Henderson McDermott


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
You’re a busy, intelligent, modern woman. You stay on top of work e-mail. You “like” all the baby photos your sister posts on Facebook. You found your dream job through LinkedIn. But when your crush texts you “Sup?” every few days, yet never asks you out, what the hell does that mean?
These days, dating is more confusing than ever. Friending? Following? Liking? Poking? Linking? LOLing? WTF? In an era when FaceTime is no longer the same as face-toface, it’s no wonder you can’t tell if he’s into you or just really into his iPhone.
This hilarious and essential guide from the founders of HeTexted.com—with totally straightforward guy sight from the HeTexted Bros—will help you autocorrect your digital dating life, from decoding your Facebook friendships, to reading the intentions behind guys’ perplexing texts, to deciding when—if ever—you should text him first. It’s He’s Just Not That Into You for the digital age and What to Expect When You’re Expecting . . . a second date—all in one invaluable package!
MY TAKE:
If you've ever wondered what guys really mean when they text you something, you might find this book interesting.

In He Texted The Ultimate Guide to Decoding Guys, the two female authors and three male panelists give the lowdown on what texts means depending on where you are in your relationship. It also includes things you should look for or watch out for when it comes to male behavior, and also how you should conduct yourself.

I found this book enjoyable especially since the format wasn't completely what I expected. I thought it would be like most self-help books, with pages and pages of explanations and only a few examples and insights from real men. This book puts the focus on the opinions of the panelists and shows what certain words and actions most likely mean.

There are chapters starting from when you first make contact until he says he loves you. My favorite chapter, though, is the one wherein the typical male Facebook wall is decoded. There are things here that I never even thought would be relevant but the explanations make sense.

However, since every guy is different, and cultures tend to differ, I'd take some of the things said here with a grain of salt. Most of it probably applies to all, but it may help to trust your instinct a little bit too.

Thanks to NetGalley and Gallery Books for the e-copy.

THE GOOD:

  1. You get opinions from men and women panelists.
  2. The presentation is fresh and fun.
  3. It covers period from before until you're in a relationship. 

THE BAD:

  1. Not all of the advice given would apply to every guy, although most does.

READ IT IF:

  1. You've ever wondered what a guy's text really means.
  2. You want a guy's opinion on what a guy's text means.
  3. You want a book that covers the pre-relationship as well as the relationship period.

RATING:
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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Review: The Wobbit A Parody by The Harvard Lampoon


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
The sequel to the parody of the sequel to the prequel to The Lord of the Rings
When Aaron Sorkinshield and his band of Little People embark on a totally feasible quest to reclaim the hoard of Academy Awards stolen from them by the lonely Puff the Magic Dragon, senile wizard Dumbledalf suggests an unlikely and completely unqualified accomplice: Billy Bagboy, an unassuming wobbit dwelling in terrorist-riddled Wobbottabad.
Along the way, the company faces Internet trolls, moblins, one really big spider that must be at least an inch and a half wide, and worse. But as they journey from the wonders of Livinwell to the terrors of Jerkwood and beyond, Billy will find that there is more to him than anyone—Tolkien included—ever dreamed. Propelled to his destiny by a series of courageous adventures and indented paragraphs, Billy will set out on the greatest YOLO of all time . . . one that leads deep into the dark caverns hiding a mysterious man named Goldstein, who’s just trying to have a nice seder.

MY TAKE:
I've read the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but I've only seen the Hobbit movies and not read the book.

In The Wobbit A Parody, Billy the Bagboy joins Dumbledalf, Aaron Sorkenshield and the rest of the Little People in their quest to the Mountain with Zero Friends and retrieev the awards stolen by Puff the Magic Dragon.

Most of the major scenes in the book are scenes I recognize from the movie. So if you've seen the movie but haven't read the book, you would still be able to follow along.

The characters are also mostly the same, although there are a few characters here that are obviously not in the books, namely Doc from Snow White and three sisters who bear a very strong resemblance to the Kardashian sisters.

There are a lot of pop culture references in the book, and there's some mixing and matching of characters from different fandoms. Dumbledalf, for example, is a combination of Dumbledore and Gandalf.

The sense of humor used in the book can feel almost nonsensical at times. Overall, though, it's like reading a novel version of MAD magazine, if you can picture that.

One thing I wanted to note, though, was Dumbledalf telling Billy to be careful of Filipinos. Since he didn't elaborate, I don't quite know whether to be proud or offended. Since this is a parody, I'll just let this one slide.

Thanks to NetGalley and Touchstone for the e-copy.

THE GOOD:

  1. There's plenty of pop culture references.
  2. You don't necessarily need to have read The Hobbit in order to appreciate this one.
  3. The book isn't afraid to poke fun of itself.

THE BAD:

  1. The sense of humor and writing style might not appeal to everyone.

READ IT IF:

  1. You like parodies.
  2. You like books filled with pop culture references.
  3. You find sarcastic, nonsense, tongue-in-cheek humor funny. 

RATING:
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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Review: Dawn: Diary One by Ann M. Martin


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Can Dawn find a life in California to match the one she left behind in Connecticut—or has too much changed between her friends?
At Vista, eighth graders are required to write personal journals about their experiences. Meet thirteen-year-old Dawn Schafer, the crunchy and health conscious member of the Baby-Sitters Club, who has returned to California to live with her father, stepmother, and brother. Dawn is thrilled to be reunited with her old friends Sunny, Maggie, and Jill.
It’s not always easy to keep the group together, though—things are changing fast since they moved the eighth-grade classes into the high school. With new social demands and decisions to make, Dawn sees just how much her old friends have changed since she moved away. Or is she the one who is different now? It’s time for this independent girl to let go of the life she had across the country and figure out just where she belongs now.
This ebook features an illustrated personal history of Ann M. Martin, including rare images from the author’s collection.

MY TAKE:
My favorite Baby-sitters Club members are Kristy, Mary Anne and Claudia, but I really can't resist reading anything from the BSC series so I gave this book a try.

In Dawn: Diary One, it's a new school year for Dawn and her friends in California. However, instead of being the rulers of middle school as eighth-graders, they're now at the bottom of the food chain in the high school building. Some of Dawn's friends welcome the chance to change and grow up, but while Dawn is excited, she's also not too sure about some things.

I've always thought of Dawn as Mary Anne's sister. In this book, I got to learn more about her and was able to see her personality.

Dawn has some interesting friends in California. Sunny is a bit of a rebel, Maggie is a perfectionist, and Jill is immature. She also meets two new friends, Ducky and Amalia. It was then that I remembered that several years ago, I read a book told from Amalia's point-of-view. That's probably one of the reasons I liked her right away.

The plot is pretty simple, I guess. It's about friends growing up and changing. Dawn's main conflict here is dealing with the changes in her friends and within her family. It's a little bit after-school-special-ish, but it's still a fun read. I did get thrown a little bit when the girls thought about watching movies on a VCR. I don't think kids nowadays have ever seen one in person.

Thanks to NetGalley and Open Road Media Teen & Tween for the e-copy.

THE GOOD:

  1. Young girls can relate easily to the story.
  2. The characters are interesting.
  3. It's a fun and easy read.

THE BAD:

  1. Dawn's conflict isn't too heavy.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
My body is a temple. I put only the purest of things into it. Like Mountain Dew and Pez.
READ IT IF:

  1. You liked the Baby-sitters Club series.
  2. You are a fan of Dawn.
  3. You like after-school specials.

RATING:
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Tuesday, April 22, 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!
Sometimes I just don't understand friends.

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Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Review: Ultimate Dining Hall Hacks Create Extraordinary Dishes from the Ordinary Ingredients in Your College Meal Plan by Priya Krishna


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Transform your dining hall meals into gourmet feasts! Ultimate Dining Hall Hacks offers 75 amazing and creative recipe ideas that use items readily available in your college dining hall. Any night of the week, you can dine on tzatziki chicken salad, quesadillas, sloppy joes, lemon-pepper pasta, fried rice, scalloped tomatoes, chicken and waffles, Asian nachos, or bruschetta. You'll also discover how to create mouthwatering custom desserts, from peach cobbler and chocolate bread pudding to peanut butter mousse and sweet potato pie. And don't skip breakfast, when you can savor chilaquiles, avocado toast, eggs carbonara, or mango parfait. Make the most of your college meal plan with Ultimate Dining Hall Hacks!
MY TAKE:
I'm more of a baker than a cook, so any book that is easy enough for me to cook from is always welcome.

In Ultimate Dining Hall Hacks Create Extraordinary Dishes from the Ordinary Ingredients in Your College Meal Plan, readers can choose from a number of recipes that can transform their usual food choices to something different and possibly more palatable.

There are plenty of recipes to choose from, but since I'm not too fond of yogurt and granola, it narrowed my choices down a little bit. I did find a few recipes I liked and might try, specifically the Spanish rice and the toasted honey and cheese roll. I was intrigued by the olive oil chocolate sundae, which sounds gross but also fun to try.

I liked the book's colorful layout and graphics. My favorite parts of the book, however, where the charts. One of these charts showed you what ingredients to add to a basic burger to get another burger. Another chart showed what tea to add to hot chocolate to create a new variety of hot chocolate There's also a chart that arranges the desserts in the book based on how savory or sweet they are.

The only thing I wasn't too sure of with this book is, since I'm used to precise measurements in baking, I'm a little thrown by the fact that there's no measurements given. The purpose of that is so readers can experiment, so if you're a fan of experimenting with taste, this should be for you.

Thanks to NetGalley and Storey Publishing, LLC for the e-ARC. Publication date of Ultimate Dining Hall Hacks Create Extraordinary Dishes from the Ordinary Ingredients in Your College Meal Plan is on May 14, 2014.

THE GOOD:

  1. The recipes are easy and look delicious.
  2. The charts make you want to start experimenting with food right away.
  3. The book is neatly organized. 

THE BAD:

  1. No measurements are given. 

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
I tried it anyway and discovered that the ice cream totally transforms the olive oil, giving it this amazing sweetness. 
READ IT IF:

  1. You're bored with your usual dining options.
  2. You like experimenting with food.
  3. You are looking for dishes you can cook quickly. 

RATING:
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Sunday, April 20, 2014

In My Mailbox


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

FROM NETGALLEY:


Ultimate Dining Hall Hacks Create Extraordinary Dishes from the Ordinary Ingredients in Your College Meal Plan by Priya Krishna
The Wobbit A Parody by The Harvard Lampoon
He Texted The Ultimate Guide to Decoding Guys by Lisa Winning, Carrie Henderson McDermott
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Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Review: Style Me Vintage: Weddings An Inspirational Guide to Styling the Perfect Vintage Wedding by Annabel Beeforth


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
The fifth book in the successful 'Style Me Vintage' series is designed to inspire brides-to-be to create their own vintage-themed wedding. Harking back to styles of previous decades is often the basis for a truly stylish wedding, but it can be difficult to get all the details right, without a little bit of guidance.
This beautiful and accessible book looks at how to source and put together bridal outfits and event styling for a themed occasion, from the Edwardian era, through the decades to the 1970s. From the dress itself, through to accessories, flowers, make-up and hair, even extra details such as how to style the attendants, venue, cake, stationery, photography, and entertainment are covered.
Featuring beautiful photography from weddings photographer Joanna Brown.
An ideal gift book for brides-to-be.
Author Information
Annabel Beeforth is the author of Love My Dress. Founded in 2009, Love My Dress has swiftly become one of the UK's leading and most influential wedding blogs. The blog receives in excess of half a million page hits a month and inspires brides all over the world. It has been quoted by Elle Magazine as being amongst the top five blogs in the world dedicated to inspiring brides. In 2012, Annabel became an Ambassador for Oxfam Weddings, after having assisted the charity in raising almost £40k. Annabel has previously written for several magazine publications, including Wedding Magazine and
Vintage Life Magazine. She lives in Whitby in the North East of England with her
husband and two young daughters.

MY TAKE:
This book would have been a big help to me had it been published before I got married.

In Style Me Vintage: Weddings An Inspirational Guide to Styling the Perfect Vintage Wedding, readers learn how to create a vintage wedding by browsing the information on different types of dresses. accessories, etc. available per era, as well as take inspiration from the stories of real brides.

I wanted a vintage wedding for myself but since wedding dresses are expensive and I don't have the time or inclination to head to the mecca of bargains, I had to settle for adding vintage touches to our reception. I never really thought to classify vintage dresses by their decade, as this book does, which makes sense since there are differences in the style. Personally, I liked the dresses from the '60s best, and apparently they're made for my figure too.

The book has tons of useful information such as tips for buying original vintage wedding dresses, what body type is best suited for a particular time period, tips and suggestions for things like invitations, makeup, perfume, accessories and shoes, list of suppliers and blogs, as well as links to the shops she mentions throughout the book.

The only thing I didn't like about this book was the layout. It would have been more fun and engaging to read had the book used a magazine-style layout or any layout that's interesting.

Thanks to NetGalley and Pavilion for the e-copy.

THE GOOD:

  1. You can learn tons of useful tips.
  2. There are lists of suppliers and blogs you can visit.
  3. There are plenty of suggestions you can consider.

THE BAD:

  1. The layout feels a little too boring, considering the subject matter. 

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
A sweetheart neckline can be more flattering than a straight neckline and also softer on the face. 
READ IT IF:

  1. You plan to have a vintage wedding.
  2. You like anything vintage.
  3. You are looking for suggestions for your own wedding. 

RATING:
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Friday, April 18, 2014

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE GOOD:

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

THE BAD:

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

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

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

RATING:
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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Review: The Longest Whale Song by Jacqueline Wilson


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

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

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

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

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

THE GOOD:

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

THE BAD:

  1. Ella acts like a spoiled brat sometimes. 

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

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

RATING:
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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Review: Alternate Reality Game Designer Jane McGonigal by Anastasia Suen


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

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

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

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

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

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

THE GOOD:

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

THE BAD:

  1. The book feels too short. 

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

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

RATING:
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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
When designing ARGs, McGonigal invents imaginary characters and situations.
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Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Review: Cupcake Cousins by Kate Hannigan


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

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

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

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

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

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

THE GOOD:

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

THE BAD:

  1.  Willow can be annoying.

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

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

RATING:
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