Tuesday, September 30, 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!

She's not the same girl anymore and it's not just the hair.

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Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Review: Edible French: Tasty Expressions and Cultural Bites by Clotilde Dusoulier


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:</ br>
The idiosyncrasies of language can tell us a lot about a culture. In this delightful book, Clotilde Dusoulier, creator of the award-winning food blog Chocolate & Zucchini, delves into the history and meaning of fifty of the French language’s most popular food-related expressions.
Accompanied by beautiful watercolor illustrations by artist Mélina Josserand, Edible French explores whimsical turns of phrase such as:
Tomber dans les pommes (falling into the apples) = fainting
Se faire rouler dans la farine (being rolled in flour) = being fooled
Avoir un cœur d’artichaut (having the heart of an artichoke) = falling in love easily
A treat of a read for Francophiles and food lovers alike, Edible French is the tastiest way to explore French culture—one that will leave you in high spirits—or, as the French say, vous donnera la pêche (give you the peach).
MY TAKE:
This book combines several things that I like: French language, food and history.

In Edible French: Tasty Expressions and Cultural Bites, readers learn the meanings of several French food-related idioms. There are also recipes and a quiz at the end to see how much you've learned.

The first things I noticed were the beautiful, classy illustrations and the pretty header fonts. It makes the book appear super elegant, which fits the vibe I imagine French food exudes.

While there are some French and English food-inspired idioms that are identical (there's a list near the end of the book), as well as some idioms that are similar, most of the idioms will seem foreign. I did learn a couple of fun idioms that I might add to my vocabulary, namely "papa gateau" (literally "cake daddy" but really means "doting father"), which my father is, and "avoir un coeur d' artichaut" ("having the heart of an artichoke"), which means someone "who falls in love easily".

I had a lot of fun reading the book, especially trying to pronounce the words and guess the meaning before reading it. The illustrations and the descriptions of food did make me feel hungry, though.

The recipes were a nice touch, although I think the only one my family would be interested in is the French crepe recipe.

As a teaching tool, this book seemed to work as I aced the quiz at the end. :) Although, it didn't really use French, it just asked about the idiom meanings.

Thanks to NetGalley and Perigee Trade for the e-ARC. Publication date of Edible French: Tasty Expressions and Cultural Bites is on October 7, 2014.

THE GOOD:

  1. The illustrations and fonts are elegant.
  2. It's fun to read about the different idioms and their idioms.
  3. You'll learn a lot. 

THE BAD:

  1. Some may eventually get bored of the layout (idiom, translation, meaning, example). 

READ IT IF:

  1. You consider yourself a Francophile.
  2. You like beautiful watercolor drawings.
  3. You like food. 

RATING:
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Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

In My Mailbox


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

FROM NETGALLEY:



Edible French: Tasty Expressions and Cultural Bites by 
Clotilde Dusoulier
Zac and Mia by A. J. Betts
The Art of Eating through the Zombie Apocalypse: A Cookbook and Culinary Survival Guide by Lauren Wilson, Kristian Bauthus
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Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Review: Patient Zero by Marilee Peters


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Engrossing true stories of the pioneers of epidemiology who risked their lives to find the source of deadly diseases.
Throughout history, more people have died in disease epidemics than in wars or other disasters. The courageous, trail-blazing defenders against these diseases faced a terrifying personal gamble. Often they were ignored, laughed at, or even fired from their jobs. But they kept hunting for answers, putting the pieces of the epidemic puzzle together.
As they looked for clues to the origin of a disease, scientists searched for the unknown "patient zero" -- the first person to have contracted it. In nineteenth-century London, Dr. John Snow's mapping of an epidemic found that patient zero was a six-month-old baby, whose cholera-laden diarrhea had contaminated the water of a local pump. It led to the death of 10,000 inhabitants exposed to the dirty water.
Patient Zero brilliantly brings to life the main characters and events to tell the gripping tale of how each of seven diseases spread.
The Great Plague, 1665 The Soho Outbreak,1854 Yellow Fever in Cuba, 1900 Typhoid in New York City, 1906 Spanish Influenza, 1918-1919 Ebola in Zaire, 1976 AIDS in the U.S., 1980.
The result is spine-chilling as Peters follows the scientists who solved the intricate mystery of the killer epidemics. Patient Zero reminds us that millions of people owe their lives to the work of these pioneer epidemiologists, work that continues to this day.
About the Contributor
Marilee Peters is a former librarian who over the years has written about politics, theater, the environment, parenting, farming, and health, among other topics. This is her first book for children. She lives with her family in Vancouver, BC.

MY TAKE:
While I enjoyed diagnosing more than epidemiology when I was in medical school, I've always been interested in the stories of the first patients to get diseases.

In Patient Zero, readers get to see the methods by which scientists and doctors were able to trace epidemics to their likely sources, sometimes even specifically to a person.

Prior to reading this book, I was already aware of the story of the Typhoid outbreak in New York City, as well as how AIDS was likely spread from Africa to America. The other stories were mostly new to me, however, and while I did learn a few things in the other two stories, I obviously found the other stories more interesting. I was particularly impressed by the fact that the patient zero for Spanish Influenza in the U.S. was identified.

Each chapter devoted to a disease started with a story showing the patient zero already ill. I don't know how much of each story is true, but it does help you get settled into the story and realize that these are actual people and not just patients.

There were plenty of trivia and the full-colored pages helped keep everything interesting. Aside from the descriptions of the diseases and how the scientists were able to solve the disease's riddles, there are also mentions of the ancient treatments used for some of the diseases. Most of these treatments, of course, seem ridiculous now.

What's great about this book is that not only does it help kids understand epidemics, it's also pretty relevant, especially now that there's an Ebola outbreak and scientists have been warning about a possible flu pandemic in the future. This book may help kids be more aware of diseases that may not be typical.

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

THE GOOD:

  1. The stories are interesting.
  2. The scientists mentioned have done pretty amazing work.
  3. It can help people understand epidemics and pandemics.  

THE BAD:

  1. Since most of the chapters start with the story of patient zero or a sick patient, you don't get to solve the identity of patient zero along with the doctor, although you could help guess the mode of transmission.

READ IT IF:

  1. Your child likes books about science and medicine.
  2. You or your child want to learn more about epidemics.
  3. You've always wondered how certain epidemics started. 

RATING:
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Friday, September 26, 2014

Review: Munsch Mini-Treasury Three by Robert Munsch, Michael Martchenko, Hélène Desputeaux


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Five more classic stories from "a superstar storyteller"* now available as a small-format treasury.
The third mini-treasury is coming, featuring another five of Robert Munsch's best-loved stories:
David's Father Mortimer Purple, Green, and Yellow (illustrated by Helene Desputeaux) Show and Tell Something Good.
Accompanied by the lively, familiar artwork of Michael Martchenko and Helene Desputeaux, and including the behind-the-scenes scoop on the origins of each story, this new treasury format is perfect for sharing anywhere, any time.
"In all his stories, Munsch combines familiar themes, independent children, humor, easy readability, and contemporary settings. What more do quality children's books need?"
-- Day Care and Early Childhood Education, New York, NY
(*Toronto Star)
About the Contributors
Robert Munsch has written more than 50 books for children, including The Paper Bag Princess and Love You Forever. He lives in Guelph, Ontario.
Michael Martchenko is best known as the illustrator of many of Robert Munsch's classic tales, including Mortimer and Angela's Airplane. He lives in Toronto, Ontario.
Hélène Desputeaux has illustrated more than 115 books for children which have earned her several prizes and awards.

MY TAKE:
If ever there were stories that are perfect for reading aloud, it's the stories that are found in this book.

Munsch Mini-Treasury Three contains five stories. Mortimer tells the story of a boy who likes to sing loudly at night. Purple, Green and Yellow is about a girl who likes drawing using colored markers. Show and Tell is about a boy who brings his baby sister to school for show and tell. Something Good, on the other hand, is about a young girl who keeps wanting her father to buy junk food at the supermarket. Finally, David's Father is about a young boy who is adopted and a girl who doesn't like meeting new people.

I liked how before each story, we get to read how the story came to be. It helps to put the stories into context and helps inspire me to create my own stories for my son.

The stories and their subjects are pretty diverse, but at least one thing they have in common is how many sound effects and voices I can do with each. It helps keep young kids' attention and makes the storytelling less boring for parents even if they've read the book dozens of time already.

Slightly older children will be able to appreciate how funny and ridiculous the books are. Younger children will still like the books, though, even if (or exactly because) they believe the stories can actually happen in real life.

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

THE GOOD:

  1. The stories are entertaining.
  2. Parents and kids will like the stories.
  3. It's a fun book to read aloud. 

THE BAD:

  1. The illustration styles may not work for everyone. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You like children's books that contain more than one story.
  2. You are looking for a book to read aloud to your child.
  3. You like Robert Munsch's other books.

RATING:
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Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Review: Murmel, Murmel, Murmel Board Book by Robert Munsch, Michael Martchenko


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
What in the world is Robin going to do with the baby she finds in her sandbox?
"Murmel, murmel, murmel," is all Robin hears coming from a hole in her sandbox. When she reaches down and out pops a baby, she finds herself in a real fix: who will take care of it? Robin's too little! Off she goes, searching her neighborhood for someone who needs a baby. The woman with seventeen cats doesn't want the baby. Nor does the grumpy man by the bus stop. It looks as though all hope is lost, until a friendly truck driver passes by. He offers to trade his truck for the baby -- an exchange Robin can't refuse.
Young children everywhere will delight in discovering this Robert Munsch classic, his eighth in board book format, with simplified text and some new illustrations.
About the Contributors
Robert Munsch has written more than 50 books for children, including The Paper Bag Princess and Stephanie's Ponytail. He lives in Guelph, Ontario.
Michael Martchenko is best known as the illustrator of such classic children's books as Robert Munsch's Mortimer and Angela's Airplane. He lives in Toronto, Ontario.

MY TAKE:
While I thought the title was strange, I found the blurb interesting enough.

In Murmel, Murmel, Murmel Board Book, Robin finds a baby in her sandbox. She knows she can't take care of it, though, so she tries her best to find someone who can.

The plot of the book is pretty much what is in the NetGalley summary above. However, just because the plot is no longer a surprise doesn't mean that this book is any less enjoyable.

The dialogue and the premise seems a little outlandish, and obviously the ending is unrealistic, but what's great about the book is the fact that things and situations are exaggerated but this is what makes it funny and endearing.

The illustrations aren't really my style, but it did begin to sort of grow on me so when I looked back at it for a second time, I didn't dislike it anymore. Of course, my baby seemed to like the book enough, because it was colorful and it was short so his attention didn't have time to drift away.

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

THE GOOD:

  1. The story is entertaining.
  2. It's a good book to read aloud to your child.
  3. The baby is cute. 

THE BAD:

  1. The illustration style may not work for everyone. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You are looking for a book to read to your child.
  2. Your child likes colorful books.
  3. Your child's attention tends to drift if a book is too long. 

RATING:
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Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Review: When the Worst Happens: Extraordinary Stories of Survival by Tanya Lloyd Kyi, Art by David Parkins


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
People overcome impossible odds where others surrendered and failed.

What would you do if you were stranded or trapped in a situation where you had to fight for your life? When the Worst Happens is a collection of intense, true stories set in distant corners of the earth.
After a fierce storm, the crew of the Polaris was stranded on an ice floe in the Arctic Ocean. A massive cave-in traps 19-year-old Jimmy Sanchez and 32 other Chilean miners deep below the earth. Twelve-year-old Bala and his two sisters must survive on a tiny island off the Australian coast after their boat capsizes. When her plane crashes in the Peruvian jungle, 17-year-old Juliane struggles to find help.
In extreme situations such as these, people can pull together, show almost super-human skill, and survive. But sometimes they face madness, greed or mutiny. These action-packed accounts reveal the critical decisions that determined the fate of each victim.
In an attempt to answer the question why people react the way they do in extreme circumstances, When the Worst Happens also looks at modern psychological studies, interesting historical details and settings, as well as seemingly unrelated events, to discover what draws the line between success and tragedy.
Graphic icons point readers to successful or poor decisions as each story unfolds, and outstanding illustrations capture the real-time developments in each riveting story.

MY TAKE:
Initially, it was the stories in the blurb that got me interested in the book.

In When the Worst Happens: Extraordinary Stories of Survival, readers are told stories of survival and how the people were able to get through their ordeal. The book also highlights the traits and things that people who survive tend to do, as well as the science behind fear and how we cope with crisis.

This book was actually more practical than I expected it to be. The icons next to specific parts of stories indicated which particular life-saving thing they did (keep calm, etc.).These "keys to survival" are listed at the start of the book and you can just refer to the list if you can't remember what the drawings stand for. These tips actually seem like common sense when you think about it, although given how many people in the stories mentioned in the book did the opposite, obviously, it's easier said than done.

There are four main stories that are told over the course of the book. In between each segment of each story, you'll be able to read about other stories of survival. The flow of the science and the stories were smooth, however, I would have preferred to read each of the main stories without having to read some other stories in between. By the time I reached the last parts of the book, I'd have to think back a little bit to try and remember what happened to the person that was just mentioned again after tens of pages.

While I thought the icons were cute, I wasn't really a fan of the illustration style used for the rest of the book. It reminded me of noir graphic novels. It's hard to explain but just look at the cover and you'll have an idea of what the illustrations in the book look like.

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

THE GOOD:

  1. There are some useful tips here.
  2. The stories are fascinating.
  3. The flow of stories and facts are more or less seamless. 

THE BAD:

  1. The illustration style may not work for everyone. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You like reading interesting stories.
  2. You want to teach your child what to do when he or she has to survive on his/her own.
  3. You like reading survival stories. 

RATING:
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Tuesday, September 23, 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!

"Murmel, murmel, murmel,"
said the baby.
"I need to find someone to take
care of you," said Robin.

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Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Review: Star Wars: Jedi Academy, Return of the Padawan (Book 2) by Jeffrey Brown


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Author/illustrator Jeffrey Brown returns in the highly anticipated sequel to the NY Times Bestseller Star Wars: Jedi Academy!
It's time to return to middle school in a galaxy far, far away. . . .
After surviving his first year at Jedi Academy, Roan Novachez thought his second year would be a breeze. He couldn't have been more wrong. Roan feels like he's drifting apart from his friends, and it's only made worse when Roan discovers he's not the amazing pilot he thought he'd be. When the school bullies take him under their wing, he decides they aren't so bad after all--or are they?
This year, Roan will have to face alien poetry tests, menacing robots, food fights, flight simulation class, online bullies, more lightsaber duels, and worst of all . . . a girl who is mad at him.
This incredible, original story captures all of the humor, awkwardness, fun, and frustrations of middle school--all told through one boy's comics, journal entries, letters, sketches, e-mails, and more.

MY TAKE:
I like most books that are written like a journal and this book is even better than most I've read.

In Star Wars: Jedi Academy, Return of the Padawan (Book 2), Roan starts his second year at Jedi Academy. He's eager to start pilot training but his teacher seems to have it in for him. To top it all off, his friends start acting strangely and his enemies treat him terribly. Can Roan make it through the school year?

The journal entries are handwritten, and so are the comics included. Both the handwriting and the comics are what you would expect from a young kid, albeit a talented cartoonist. Roan is quite funny, and it's really not hard to imagine him as a real boy going through what he does in the book. It's also easy to sympathize with him as he really does become more mature over the course of the book.

I liked the little extra things included like screenshots from Holobook (the school's version of Facebook), copies of pages from the school newspaper, report cards, etc. It breaks the monotony and helps give you a glimpse of life in the Jedi Academy.

Thanks to NetGalley and Scholastic Inc. for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. The jokes are funny.
  2. The characters are interesting and Roan is easy to root for.
  3. It makes great use of the Star Wars universe.

THE BAD:

  1. Roan's handwriting is a little chicken-scratchy. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You or your child are Star Wars fans.
  2. Your child likes books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
  3. Your child is having trouble with his friends or with bullies.

RATING:
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Sunday, September 21, 2014

In My Mailbox


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

FROM NETGALLEY:



Munsch Mini-Treasury Three by Robert Munsch, Michael Martchenko, Hélène Desputeaux
Patient Zero by Marilee Peters
Star Wars: Jedi Academy, Return of the Padawan (Book 2) by Jeffrey Brown
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Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Review: Behind the Badge: Crimefighters Through History by Ed Butts, Gareth Williams (Illustrator)


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Buckle up for true stories of the chiefs, strongmen, and outlaws who kept the peace.
Where did the concept of policing originate? Who fought crime in ancient civilizations like those of Greece and Rome? How did the monarchs of the Middle Ages keep the countryside free of bandits? Why were the frontier towns of the American West policed by gunfighters? The truth will surprise you!
In parts of the prehistoric world, young warriors took turns enforcing community laws. During the Ottoman Empire, the sultan's police acted as spies, bodyguards, executioners, and even gardeners. In China, officials called prefects kept order with the aid of retired soldiers. In Amsterdam during the 1600s, citizens worked the night watch to keep the streets virtually crime-free. Deplorable conditions in the slums surrounding Rio de Janeiro in the 1980s and 90s gave rise to gangs of vigilante death squads, which included some police officers.
With text that moves at the speed of a Hollywood car chase, and full-color artwork that provides a you-were-there picture of events from ancient times to the modern era, Behind the Badge vividly captures the varied and unexpected roles police have played over time.

MY TAKE:
If you like history and trivia, this book is for you.

In Behind the Badge: Crimefighters Through History, readers are shown how law and order was kept from ancient times until the present.

I'm pretty sure I paid attention during most of my history classes so it was nice to see that there were plenty of things here that I didn't know yet. Picking up a trivia book then finding out that you know most of the things there can be pretty disappointing, but if you just take regular history classes and you aren't particularly well-versed in the history of law enforcement, then chances are this book will be a fascinating read for you.

It's interesting to see how roles of law enforcers have changed over time. A lot of them pulled double duty doing things like gardening which today's peacekeepers don't do on the job.

I liked that there's a section devoted to female police officers, as well as bad cops. Female police officers have come a long way since being hired for social worker-type jobs. As for the section about bad cops, it's nice to know that the book acknowledges that there are good and bad cops in the world.

There's also a section here on what it takes to be a police officer. Kids who are interested in joining the force can see if they're up to the challenge.

The book is in full color, which is great, although I'm not totally sold on the illustrations which reminded me of scenes or stills in movies wherein they color the scene/still so it looks like it's part of a comic book.

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

THE GOOD:

  1. You'll learn a lot of interesting things.
  2. The layout and use of color is nice and eye-catching.
  3. It's well-researched. 

THE BAD:

  1. Some parts may be boring if you're more interested in the history parts than the science part of law enforcement history. 

READ IT IF:

  1. Your child wants to be a law enforcement officer.
  2. Your child likes trivia books.
  3. Your child is a history buff. 

RATING:
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Friday, September 19, 2014

Review: Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets: An Anthology of Holmesian Tales Across Time and Space by Kasey Lansdale, Glen Mehn, Guy Adams


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
The world's most famous detective, as you’ve never seen him before! This is a collection of orginal short stories finding Holmes and Watson in times and places you would never have expected!
A dozen established and up-and-coming authors invite you to view Doyle’s greatest creation through a decidedly cracked lens.
Read about Holmes and Watson through time and space, as they tackle a witch-trial in seventeenthcentury Scotland, bandy words with Andy Warhol in 1970s New York, travel the Wild Frontier in the Old West, solve future crimes in a world of robots and even cross paths with a young Elvis Presley...
Set to include stories by Kasey Lansdale, Guy Adams, Jamie Wyman, J E Cohen, Gini Koch, Glen Mehn, Kelly Hale, Kaaron Warren, Emma Newman and more.

MY TAKE:
If you like all (or most) things Sherlock like I do, then you'll want to read this book.

In Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets: An Anthology of Holmesian Tales Across Time and Space, each of the stories introduce readers to Sherlock and Watson versions that are found in settings/time/situations that are much different to how we are used to reading about them.

I enjoyed this book a lot. With most anthologies, you usually find a few stories you hate, a few you find boring and maybe one or two favorites. With this book, I didn't find a story I hated or was bored by. There were a couple of stories, namely The Lantern Man by Kaaron Warren and A Study in Scarsborough by Guy Adams that creeped me out a little bit. Strangely, though, while the subject matter of The Rich Man's Hand by Joan de la Haye was scary, I was more interested than scared. I think it would make a good Supernatural-Elementary crossover episode.

My two favorite stories, on the other hand, were The Innocent Icarus by James Lovegrove and All the Single Ladies by Gini Koch. The Innocent Icarus is set in a world where most people have supernatural abilities of some sort. It's more of like in the 2009 movie Push than the X-men movies, though, as the abilities are accepted in this society. In All the Single Ladies, while I was able to correctly solve the mystery right away, I still enjoyed the story because I liked the Sherlock in this tale. Here, Sherlock is a woman. Of course, I immediately imagined Lucy Liu saying whatever the character said. Which probably contributed to me liking the character here, since I think Lucy Liu is a fantastic Watson.

Thanks to NetGalley and Abaddon for the e-ARC. Publication date of Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets: An Anthology of Holmesian Tales Across Time and Space is on October 7, 2014.

THE GOOD:

  1. There's something for everyone.
  2. Some of the stories suggest or outright show a romantic relationship between Sherlock and Watson (if that's your sort of thing).
  3. Sherlock or Watson are portrayed as strong female characters in some of the stories. 

THE BAD:

  1. There are some stories that may be too creepy for you if you are scared easily. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You are a Sherlock Holmes fans. 
  2. You like reading fanfiction.
  3. You like the idea of reading different versions of Sherlock Holmes and other characters in the Holmes universe.

RATING:
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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Review: Captain Underpants and the Tyrannical Retaliation of the Turbo Toilet 2000 by Dav Pilkey


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
When the Incredible Robo-Plunger defeated the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, George and Harold thought their toilet troubles were over. Unfortunately, their porcelain problems were only beginning . . .
Just when you thought it was safe to flush . . .
The Turbo Toilet 2000 strikes back! The carnivorous commode known for devouring everything in its path has built up a real appetite . . . for REVENGE! Join Captain Underpants for another epic showdown of Wedgie Power vs. Potty Power as our tighty-whitey-wearing superhero GOES TO ELEVEN!

MY TAKE:
I've seen Captain Underpants books at bookstores for years and though I've always been interested, I wasn't sure enough that I'd enjoy it so I never bought one.

In Captain Underpants and the Tyrannical Retaliation of the Turbo Toilet 2000, George, Harold and Captain Underpants have returned to the present but now they must face off against the Turbo Toilet 2000. Will they beat the terrible toilet?

While this book is part of a series, you don't need to read the previous books to understand the story. There's a summary of the events so far at the start of the book via a comic drawn by characters George and Harold. As you would expect from children, the cartoons are amateurish and have spelling mistakes. However, they do the job and become endearing after awhile.

I thought that the entire book would be like a graphic novel, but it's more of a book for early readers, with illustrations on every page. This makes for easy reading and helps the reader visualize the story better. I especially liked the fliporama parts of the book. This is when there would be two drawings drawn a page apart and you just flip back and forth between the two to create the illusion of movement.

The story is funny and lots of kids would find it interesting. The characters were also okay for me, though, I'd probably liked them more if I had seen how their characters developed over the past few books.

Thanks to NetGalley and Scholastic for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. The book is funny.
  2. The comics and fliporama part are interesting.
  3. Kids will enjoy this even if they're not too fond of reading. 

THE BAD:

  1. The illustration style may not work for everyone. 

READ IT IF:

  1. Your child likes comics.
  2. Your child likes funny books.
  3. Your child likes characters that go on interesting adventures. 

RATING:
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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

My Year of Epic Rock by Andrea Pyros Blog Tour


Today, we have an interview with Andrea Pyros, the author of My Year of Epic Rock.
What was the hardest thing about writing this book?
Honestly, sitting down and focusing long enough each day to really write. I can get distracted—by my kids, or errands, or finding out why the dog is barking (answer: it’s a squirrel)  or my other freelance writing assignments, so making the time to prioritize writing was sometimes hard. Once I get started, though, it all seems to happen.
Which scene in the book is your favorite?
The first time The EpiPens meet up after school to practice playing music together. I love what a disaster it is, but also that they realize they really do like spending time together and hanging out.  
Which part of the book was the easiest to write?
The food allergy scenes. I have a child with food allergies, so I think about allergies a lot. Stuff with Nina around food seemed to come so naturally, because we live it in our house each and every day.
Which actors would play the main characters in the movie version of the book?

Oh, wow, tough question! I’m not sure but I can say that my favorite young adult actor on TV is China Anne McClain. She’s the star of A.N.T. Farm and I think she’s totally adorable and fun to watch.
Which songs would be on the soundtrack of the movie version of the book?
Definitely Nick Lowe’s Cruel to Be Kind, which makes an appearance in My Year of Epic Rock. Sure, the video looks a little—okay, a lot—dated but that song remains killer.

Any future books in the works?
Yes, I’m working on a second middle grade novel. It’s about a girl whose mother gets breast cancer. I was 11 when my mother was diagnosed with the disease, and it was a scary and confusing time. I wish I had a book then to let me know I wasn’t the only one out there going through that experience, so I hope this book will be that for other kids.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Andrea Pyros is an experienced writer and editor who has worked extensively for both print and online publications. With particular expertise writing for teens and young women, Andrea covers topics pertaining to health and nutrition, pop culture and entertainment, beauty and fashion, and relationships.
She’s held senior-level positions at such major media companies as CondeNast, USA, and Bauer Publications, and her freelance articles have appeared in Fitness, Rosie Magazine Online, LifetimeTV.com, MSNBC.com, The Mary-Kate and Ashley website, Twist, Bust and elsewhere. Andrea also does copywriting for clients such as ENannySource.com, Comedy Central, and Institutional Investor.
Though she certainly doesn’t claim to have invented the Internet, she and three friends did launch one of the first websites to speak to 20-something women in the 1990s: GIRLS ON FILM. GIRLS ON FILM received attention from Entertainment Weekly, USA Today, The New York Times and others, and led to the publication of the GIRLS ON FILM book, published by HarperCollins.
Andrea earned her undergraduate degree at Vassar College and her master’s from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, where she specialized in emerging media. She lives in Rhinebeck, New York, with her husband, their two children, and the family pug.


Follow me on Twitter @AndreaPyros
or visit www.andreapyros.com

ABOUT THE BOOK:

It’s the first day of seventh grade, and Nina can’t wait for the year to be over. When her best friend ditches her to hang out with the popular new girl, Nina is banished to the undesirable peanut-free table. She thinks she’s finally found her feet when she forms a band with the other allergic kids called The EpiPens. But then a whole new set of middle school minefields head her way! 

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Review: Sleepy Hollow: Children of the Revolution by Keith R.A. DeCandido


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
When Ichabod Crane, a soldier from the Colonial Army, is resurrected from his grave, more than two centuries after he was killed in battle, he partners with Lieutenant Abbie Mills of the Sleepy Hollow Police Department to fight the evil forces that have taken hold of the town.

It’s a cold day in January, and Ichabod visits Patriots Park for a moment of peace. Instead, he receives a disturbing vision from his wife, Katrina, in which she delivers a cryptic but urgent message: he must retrieve the Congressional Cross that he was awarded by the Second Continental Congress for bravery in action. There’s just one problem: Ichabod was killed before he ever received the medal, and he is unsure where it might be. Together Ichabod and Abbie set out to uncover the mystery of the cross and its connection to George Washington and his secret war against the demon hordes. They soon learn that a coven of witches is also seeking the cross in order to resurrect their leader, Serilda, who was burned at the stake during the Revolutionary War. Now they must locate the cross before the coven can bring back Serilda to exact her fatal revenge on Sleepy Hollow.

MY TAKE:
I like reading tie-in novels so even though I've only seen commercials and a few minutes of Sleepy Hollow episodes, I wanted to give this one a try.

In Sleepy Hollow: Children of the Revolution, Ichabod, Abbie, Irving and Jenny must race against time to retrieve Independence Crosses that witches are planning to use to resurrect Serilda.

I like that the novel uses more formal words and tone when Ichabod is the character in focus. It's a little bit like getting inside Ichabod's mind.

Since I'm not super familiar with the series, it took  a couple of chapters (and some Wikipedia research) for me to get up to speed on the characters and events. The book takes place between the tenth (The Golem) and the eleventh (The Vessel) episodes. While it's best to be familiar with the series before reading this, you can still more or less follow what's happening even if you've never seen an episode.

The story is quite exciting. If you're a fan of Supernatural, Charmed or X-Files, you'll probably like this book too. It takes some real places, events and people, for example George Washington crossing the Delaware, and injects some magical element, so it feels like it could possibly have happened.

Thanks to NetGalley and Broadway Books for the e-ARC. Publication date of Sleepy Hollow: Children of the Revolution is on September 30, 2014.

THE GOOD:

  1. The story is exciting.
  2. You can still follow along even if you haven't seen the show.
  3. The use of real places, events and people make it seem a little more plausible.

THE BAD:

  1. It's a little bit morbid.

READ IT IF:

  1. You like the Sleepy Hollow show.
  2. You like Supernatural, Charmed and/or X-Files.
  3. You like action-packed novels.

RATING:
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Tuesday, September 16, 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!

For people living in rural areas where the Taliban influence is strongest, including where we work, the danger is a shadow that never goes away.

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Review: Evil Fairies Love Hair by Mary G. Thompson


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Ali and her middle school classmates are raising flocks of fairies to make their wishes come true. But growing a flock is harder than it sounds: the fairies eat only human hair, and the rules for dealing with them are confusing, misleading, and subject to change. As Ali and her friends struggle to earn their wishes, mistakes are made, spells go awry, and soon Ali is up against hundreds of two-inch-tall imps who have very big plans—to replace all the parents in town!—and the power to carry them out. Comedy and fantasy intertwine in this lively tale of intrigue, magic, and the power of hair.
MY TAKE:
I was a little wary about the title of the book, as it didn't seem to be the type of book I liked, but I'm glad I give this book a try.

In Evil Faeries Love Hair, Ali begins raising a fairy flock in order to get one wish. Ali dreams of being smart, but getting her wish may be more complicated than she thinks. The faeries are up to something and things aren't always what they seem. Can Ali and her friends find a way out before it's too late?

I liked that the reveal of what the faeries were doing was spread out over most of the book. There's no info dump here. Now, it may seem a little confusing at first, but it makes it easier to remember names and events.

The book doesn't try hard to be funny. There just happens to be random lines that make you laugh, which I thought was a good idea since puns and jokes that don't work can be pretty distracting.

As for the characters, I liked most of them. Ali isn't the smartest girl in the world, but she's resourceful and brave so I wasn't as irritated as I tend to be when I read about heroines that do stupid things.

The ending of this book is relatively happy, although I got the impression that it's the first of a series. I hope so, since I do want to see what happens to the rest of the characters and to Ali.

Thanks to NetGalley and Clarion Books for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. It's an interesting premise.
  2. The book is funny without trying too hard.
  3. The characters are interesting. 

THE BAD:

  1. It may take some time for you to understand what the faeries are planning. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You like books about faeries.
  2. You like books about heroines who are brave and resourceful.
  3. You appreciate books that make you laugh without trying too hard. 

RATING:
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