Thursday, April 30, 2015

Review: Woodstock: Master of Disguise: A Peanuts Collection by Charles M. Schulz


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Do a happy dance for another AMP! Comics for Kids Peanuts collection!
Woodstock might be the smallest of all the Peanuts gang, but he’s got a lot to say, even if Snoopy is the only one who understands him. That’s because Snoopy is Woodstock’s “Friend of Friends,” and together they write masterpieces, fly airplanes, find the perfect place to nap, and win over the hearts of readers all over the world. Whether he’s falling in love with a snowflake or crash-landing on the tip of Snoopy’s nose, Woodstock is the little yellow bird with a big personality. It takes more than a strong wind to ruffle Woodstock’s feathers, although it’s a good thing he has Snoopy to keep his little yellow feet on the ground. Don’t miss out on the newest AMP! Peanuts collection featuring Woodstock, the most recognizable yellow bird in the world—even in disguise!
Charles Schulz's Peanuts is one of the most timeless and beloved comic strips ever. Now AMP! is carrying on that legacy with new collections of Peanuts classics for middle-grade readers.
First published in 1950, the classic Peanuts strip now appears in more than 2,200 newspapers in 75 countries in 25 languages. Phrases such as "security blanket" and "good grief," which originated in the Peanuts world, are now part of the global vernacular, and images of Charles Schulz's classic characters--Charlie Brown kicking the football, Lucy leaning over Schroeder's piano--are now universally recognized. Together these books will introduce a new generation of kids to the lovable cast in time for the new animated Peanuts movie, which hits theaters in 2015!

MY TAKE:
I'd forgotten how much I loved Peanuts until I read this book.

In Woodstock: Master of Disguise: A Peanuts Collection, readers get to revisit comic strips featuring/including Woodstock. There are also activities, fun facts, and other cool extras at the end of the book.

Woodstock is my favorite Peanuts character, so I couldn't resist requesting this book. I don't know if it's because of my spotty memory, or it's because I hadn't read as many Peanuts comic strips as I thought I did, but I only recognized some of the strips. It was all good, though, because I got the full effect of the jokes.

While Snoopy and Woodstock had some funny jokes and great story arcs, my favorite being the one about the head beagle, I thought the funniest strips where the ones that included the kids, especially Lucy and Peppermint Patty.

The book is in full color, which made it more fun to read and will certainly appeal to young readers who are just discovering Snoopy and the gang. I would have been okay with just black and white comic strips, though, since the beauty of Peanuts is the characters and the story. The rest are just icing on the cake.

Speaking of icing, the extra features like the flipbook, the make-your-own-birdfeeder etc., were a nice touch, since it made this book not just a must-have for Peanuts fans, but a fun activity book for kids as well.

Thanks to NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. There are tons of comic strips to read.
  2. The extra features keep this book from being a typical comics collection.
  3. The comic strips are funny. 

THE BAD:

  1. It makes you want to keep reading more Peanuts comic strips. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You're a Peanuts fan.
  2. Woodstock is your favorite Peanuts character.
  3. You like cute and funny cartoons. 

RATING:
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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Review: Forever Too Far (Rosemary Beach #3) by Abbi Glines


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
Rush promised her forever... but promises can be broken.
Torn between his love for his family and his love for Blaire, Rush has to find a way to save one without losing the other. In the end one has to be more important. Letting go isn’t easy.
Blaire believed in her fairytale... but no one can live in a fantasy.
Her love for Rush and desire to have a family keep her believing that they can find a way for this to work. Until she has to make the right decision for her and the baby. Even if it breaks her heart.
Can they find the forever that they both want or has it all just gone... too far?

MY TAKE:
This was my least favorite book in the series.

In Forever Too Far, Rush's obligation to his sister once again comes between him and Blaire. Will this be the final straw that sends Blaire packing?

There were two major reasons why I didn't really enjoy this book as much as the first two. One is the whole conflict that was keeping Blaire and Rush apart. I felt that it was resolved too quickly and the amount of angst wasn't enough to offset the cheesiness of some of the lines Rush was saying and thinking. Nan is a real villain here, though. She's a self-centered, spiteful, attention-seeking child and she's completely unlikable.

My second reason is Rush's lines. Some of them were sweet and romantic, but far too many of them were too cheesy. Also, while Rush's possessiveness was still a little okay in the first two books, by the third book, it just got old. Some of the characters even called Rush out on it, but to Rush it was just natural. Hopefully he'll mellow out over the years because while Blaire may find it sweet now, eventually that kind of possessiveness can be suffocating. A little possessiveness is fine, of course, but you really don't need to be jealous of every little thing, unless you're insecure about your relationship, which is probably what Rush is feeling. He really should try and control that.

THE GOOD:

  1. Nan is a very good villain.
  2. Rush and Blaire's fathers are both sweet and adorable in their own way, despite their flaws.
  3. There's a new love match introduced, and both of them are likable.

THE BAD:

  1. Rush's lines can be cheesy. 

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
“I never imagined anyone like you, Blaire. But every time I think about forever with you, I’m humbled that you chose me.” 
READ IT IF:

  1. You like your romance novels cheesy.
  2. You like romance novels with a happy ending.
  3. You like Rush's brother Grant. 

RATING:
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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

It's All Greek to Me Blog Tour


Today, we have a recipe straight from the book It's All Greek to Me. For more delicious recipes, you can find the blog tour schedule below. Enjoy!

RECIPE:


      



      Soutzoukakia (soo-zoo-KAH-kee-ah)
      Greek Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

      These little delights remind me of my grandmother, Thespena, for whom I am named. Her soutzoukakia were magical, and even though my mom and my aunts use the exact same ingredients, they have yet to replicate the flavor and texture of Yiayia’s. I still wonder if she had a secret ingredient she never divulged. Still, this is her recipe, and it will yield a fantastic result—secret ingredient or not!

SERVES 4 TO 6

FOR THE TOMATO SAUCE
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 ripe medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

FOR THE MEATBALLS
1 to 11/2 cups day-old bread, crusts removed, cubed
11/2 pounds lean ground beef, extra ground
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 recipe Pilafi (page 230) (optional)

To make the tomato sauce: Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the tomatoes, cumin, salt, and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring every so often, until the tomatoes break down, about 5 to 7 minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the sauce has thickened slightly. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a large baking dish.

To make the meatballs: Soak the bread briefly in a bowl of water, just to wet it all the way the through. Squeeze the water from the bread, and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Use impeccably clean hands to gently mix the remaining meatball ingredients together until thoroughly combined.

Roll the meat mixture into little sausage shapes, about 2 inches long. Carefully arrange the meatballs in the prepared baking dish in an even layer. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove the meatballs from the oven and immediately add them to the tomato sauce, taking care not to break them. Gently stir to coat the meatballs in the sauce and cook for 5 minutes more over low heat. Serve over Pilafi, if desired.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Both of Debbie Matenopoulos’s parents immigrated to the United States from Greece and instilled in Debbie the concept of philoxenia, a passion for bringing friends, family, and even strangers together over the dinner table for meals made with love.

A two-time Emmy nominee, Matenopoulos has sustained her career as a compelling journalist and talk show host for more than a decade. After starting out on The View as the youngest person in daytime history to hold a permanent co-host position on network television, she went on to launch the TV Guide Channel, host the TBS hit series He’s a Lady, write and sell a movie to Oxygen Network, and co-host FOX’s Good Day Live. She then joined the E! Network family and began co-hosting red carpet events, The Daily 10, and also hosted Fashion Police and Style Network’s Instant Beauty Pageant.

She is now correspondent for CBS Television’s The Insider and covers everything from pop culture trends to the latest hard-hitting news.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Debbie Matenopoulos, the first member of her family born in America, grew up in a traditional Greek household, eating delicious, authentic Greek cooking that her family had passed down for generations.

By the time Debbie had started her television career in New York on The View, she began eating a standard American diet. But despite carefully limiting how much she ate, she found herself gaining weight and lacking energy. As Debbie’s career as an entertainment news reporter and television host on BS, MTV, E!, and other networks had her constantly on the go, she was grabbing whatever food was readily available. It was only when she returned to her traditional Greek diet that she found herself easily—and healthily—realizing her natural weight and regaining her natural energy, stamina, and physique.

Now, in It's All Greek to Me, Debbie shares 120 of her family's traditional Greek recipes and adds her own touch to make them even healthier and easier to prepare.

After tasting Debbie’s dishes, such as her mouthwatering version of Spanakopita (Spinach Feta Pie), Kalamaria Kaftera (Spicy Calamari), her family’s secret recipe for Baklava, and, of course, Arni kai Patates (Classic Roasted Leg of Lamb with Potatoes)—you’ll be amazed these delicious foods are good for you. With a foreword by Dr. Michael Ozner, one of the nation’s leading cardiologists, the recipes in It’s All Greek to Me adhere to the healthiest diet on the planet: the traditional Mediterranean Diet. Modern science is catching up to what Greeks have known for millennia: health comes from eating natural, whole-food ingredients that haven’t been processed or pumped full of hormones, antibiotics, or preservatives.

Let It’s All Greek to Me bring your friends and family together to share in the experience of a Greek meal and way of life. Opa!

GIVEAWAY:

Do you want to win a copy of It's All Greek to Me? Here's your chance. I will be giving away one copy of It's All Greek to Me. US/Canada only. Once I have chosen the winner via Rafflecopter, I will email the winner to ask for his/her shipping details, which I will then forward to BenBella Books. Prize fulfillment will be done by BenBella Books. Ready? Enter below:

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Teaser Tuesday

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

“I never imagined anyone like you, Blaire. But every time I think about forever with you, I’m humbled that you chose me.” 

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Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Review: Never Too Far (Rosemary Beach #2) by Abbi Glines


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
He had held a secret that destroyed her world.
Everything she had known was no longer true.
Blaire couldn’t stop loving him but she knew she could never forgive him.
Now, she was back home and learning to live again. Moving on with life… until something happened to send her world spinning once again.
What do you do when the one person you can never trust again is the one that you need to trust so desperately?
You lie, hide, avoid, and pray that your sins never find you out.

MY TAKE:
I enjoyed the first book in the series, so I thought I'd give this one a try as well.

In Never Too Far, Blaire goes back home after deciding that she can't stay in a relationship with Rush. However, things get complicated quickly and avoiding Rush forever may not be an option after all.

This book alternates between Rush and Blaire's points-of-view so we can see what they see, think and feel. This is a good idea as it allows for more range in the storytelling.

I enjoyed Blaire's point-of-view because she has some pretty funny lines. Her pregnancy experience was slightly different from mine, though, so there were a few things that I couldn't relate to. Rush was just okay for me, as he got pretty emo on occasion, which sometimes worked and sometimes didn't.

Overall, I thought the story was intriguing and while the story was dramatic, maybe overly dramatic for some, I personally thought that it had just the right amount of angst. My only concern is the level of Rush's possessiveness which was just bordering on too much sometimes. It's a little bit Edward Cullen-ish, and honestly, there were a couple of moments where I got a little concerned.

THE GOOD:

  1. Blaire has some funny lines.
  2. It's angsty, but the good kind.
  3. You get to read from Rush's point-of-view.

THE BAD:

  1. It can get a little cheesy sometimes. 

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
“I know you love her. I’ve never seen you act this crazed in your life. I get that. But Nan hates her. If you love Blaire then protect her from the venom that is dripping from your sister’s fangs. Or I will.”  
READ IT IF:

  1. You like angsty New Adult books.
  2. You are looking for a book with plenty of drama.
  3. You enjoyed the first book in the series. 

RATING:
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Sunday, April 26, 2015

In My Mailbox


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

FROM EDELWEISS:



Ultimate Spy by H. Keith Melton
Complete Children's Cookbook

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Review: Fallen Too Far (Rosemary Beach #1) by Abbi Glines


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
To want what you’re not supposed to have…
She is only nineteen.
She is his new stepfather’s daughter.
She is still naïve and innocent due to spending the last three years taking care of her sick mother.
But for twenty-four year old Rush Finlay, she is the only thing that has ever been off limits. His famous father’s guilt money, his mother’s desperation to win his love, and his charm are the three reasons he has never been told no.
Blaire Wynn left her small farmhouse in Alabama, after her mother passed away, to move in with her father and his new wife in their sprawling beach house along the Florida gulf coast. She isn’t prepared for the lifestyle change and she knows she’ll never fit into this world. Then there is her sexy stepbrother who her father leaves her with for the summer while he runs off to Paris with his wife. Rush is as spoiled as he is gorgeous. He is also getting under her skin. She knows he is anything but good for her and that he’ll never be faithful to anyone. He is jaded and has secrets Blaire knows she may never uncover but even knowing all of that…
Blaire just may have fallen too far.

MY TAKE:
I was skeptical of this book at first, but I'm glad I gave it a try because this is one of the better New Adult books I've read so far.

In Fallen Too Far, Blaire has nowhere to go after her mother passes away, so she asks her father for help. Her father has a new family now, but he invites Blaire to stay with them for awhile. Her father and his wife are gone, but the house is occupied by Rush, her stepbrother. Things begin to heat up between them, but Rush has secrets he's keeping from Blaire, and when Blaire finds out, nothing will ever be the same again.

Part of my skepticism was because this played around with the good-girl-bad-boy trope, which is pretty common nowadays, especially in NA books. However, the story and the writing were able to keep things fresh so that eventually, at the most crucial point, it stopped being about that and it became something much more deeper. I wasn't expecting it, but near the end of the book, I was actually in tears several times. Yes, after that, it got a bit overdramatic, but if that's your sort of thing, you'll enjoy this one.

I was just okay with Blaire at first. I could relate to her in some ways, but definitely not in others. In the last 1/4th of the book, though, that's when I settled solidly in the pro-Blaire camp. I'd say more, but it may count as spoilers. Let's just say she did something very badass that I enjoyed a lot.

As for Rush, I liked him enough, although I didn't feel as connected and sympathetic for him as I did with Blaire. I did like them together, though, and now I'm itching to find out what happens next in their story.

THE GOOD:

  1. You really get to feel sympathetic for Blaire after awhile.
  2. There's a whopper of a plot twist near the end.
  3. Blaire and Rush belong together. 

THE BAD:

  1. Some people may find the good-girl-bad-boy trope, plus a few other cliche things a little boring. 

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
I held his gaze. I could see the storm in his eyes. I knew he was confused. I could see the fear. Then there was the love. I saw it. The fierceness in his eyes. I believed it. I could see it clearly.
READ IT IF:

  1. You're looking for a New Adult book that can provide you with a good cry.
  2. You like good girls who go for sort-of bad boys.
  3. You like bittersweet stories. 

RATING:
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Friday, April 24, 2015

Review: Prodigy (Legend #2) by Marie Lu


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
Injured and on the run, it has been seven days since June and Day barely escaped Los Angeles and the Republic with their lives. Day is believed dead having lost his own brother to an execution squad who thought they were assassinating him. June is now the Republic's most wanted traitor. Desperate for help, they turn to the Patriots - a vigilante rebel group sworn to bring down the Republic. But can they trust them or have they unwittingly become pawns in the most terrifying of political games?
MY TAKE:
This was one of those novels that I'm glad I stuck with until the end.

In Prodigy, June and Day have joined up with the Patriots, so they can get help for their injuries and rescue Day's brother. The Patriots condition for helping them is huge, but one the two accept. However, as the plans proceed, it becomes clear that something is wrong and something much bigger is going on.

At first, I got an Insurgent-meets-Mockingjay vibe while I was reading. There were certain scenes and plot twists that reminded me of the books, but the moment was only fleeting, as the circumstances aren't exactly the same. However, this resulted in me being meh through most of the book.

By the last 1/3 of the book, though, I was back to being interested again. There were a few plot twists that I hadn't really expected, and the action started kicking up again. It was certainly a great way to end the book and it certainly had me interested in reading Champion.

Part of my disinterest in the first parts of the book was because of the use of Tess and Anden as additional love interests. I had a feeling that was going to happen eventually, based on what I saw from the first book, but to see it actually happen was definitely not welcome. Anden, honestly, I could stomach for the most part, especially since he wasn't sure that there really was anything going on between June and Day. Tess, however, just rubbed me the wrong way. The fact that all the Patriots seemed to love her just made me dislike her even more. Any girl who knows a guy and a girl have an understanding or relationship or anything similar to that yet still thinks it's okay for her to flirt with the guy and try to steal him away is NOT a cool girl, in my opinion. Had the ending been different and in favor of Tess, I would have given this book three stars instead, for sure.

THE GOOD:

  1. There are some unexpected plot twists.
  2. June and Day seem very realistic.
  3. The world feels crazy yet also believable. 

THE BAD:

  1.  The additional love interests may be necessary to the story, but it doesn't feel pleasant.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
“All it takes is one generation to brainwash a population and convince them that reality doesn't exist." 
READ IT IF:

  1. You liked Legend.
  2. You like Divergent.
  3. You like novels with unexpected twists. 

RATING:
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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Caterpillar Shoes by Angela Muse Book Blast

Today, we're featuring Caterpillar Shoes by Angela Muse. Enjoy!

Caterpillar Shoes

About the Book


Title: Caterpillar Shoes | Author: Angela Muse | Illustrator: Ewa Podles | Publication Date: March 26, 2015 | Publisher: 4EYESBOOKS | Pages: 28 | Recommended Ages: 0 to 8


Summary: Patches is an energetic caterpillar who is trying to decide what activities to do. In the end, she doesn't put any limits on herself and lives her life to the full.

Amazon  *  Goodreads




About the Author: Angela Muse


Angela Muse

Angela was born in California to a military family. This meant that she got used to being the "new kid" in school every couple of years. It was hard trying to make new friends, but Angela discovered she had a knack for writing. In high school Angela began writing poetry and song lyrics. Expressing herself through writing seemed very natural. After becoming a Mom in 2003, Angela continued her storytelling to her own children. In 2009 she wrote and published her first rhyming children's book aimed at toddlers. Since then she has released several more children's picture books and released her first young adult romance series, The Alpha Girls, in 2012. Angela's husband, Ben Muse writes suspense/thriller books that can also be found on Amazon. Check out what else she's working on by visiting www.4eyesbooks.com

Website  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads  |  Twitter




* $50 Book Blast Giveaway *


Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)

Contest ends: May 6, 11:59 pm, 2015

Open: Internationally

How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Angela Muse and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

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MDBR Book Promotion Services
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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Review: Legend (Legend #1) by Marie Lu


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.
From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

MY TAKE:
I had a feeling I would enjoy this book and I was right.

In Legend, June is a prodigy and destined for great things as part of the Republic. Day is a troublemaker whom the Republic can't seem to catch. Their paths cross after June's brother is killed and evidence points to Day. June goes after Day, but before long, it becomes clear that something else is going on and the Republic isn't as honest as it seems.

I enjoyed the story and the progression. The story of this first book is pretty much what you would guess based on the summary. However, there were a couple or so surprising twists that I thought were absolutely perfect and served the story well. The flow of the story is action and world-building first, and then the romance comes, sort of like with Divergent, but the world and the conflict is more similar to Matched.

I liked the world of Legend. The story is set in a world wherein much of the coasts of the US are now underwater. The Republic is at war against the Colonies, which want to take Republic-controlled land, and the Patriots, who want to take over as well. This seems plausible to me, in the sense that it's what you would expect in real-world scenarios. The idea of people taking the Trial and getting assigned work based on their score brings to mind elements of Divergent and Matched, but it's still wholly original.

The story alternates between June and Day's points-of-view so you get to see inside their head a bit. I'm meh about June, who I'm still not quite sure if I like or dislike by the end of the book. I do, however, like Day, despite his cockiness about his looks. Day reminds me of Robin Hood, but June is more Irene-Adler-meets-Katniss-Everdeen than Maid Marian. I like their romance, though, despite by ambivalence about June.

I'm definitely interested to see how the rest of the story plays out.

THE GOOD:

  1. The world of Legend is fascinating.
  2. The premise and the story is exciting.
  3. June and Day are well-matched and there's something there that could make for really good sequels. 

THE BAD:

  1. Some may feel like June is too perfect. 

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
“Ms. Iparis told me about what you did to her on the streets. How dare you force yourself onto someone of her rank."
Ah.Here is what's really bothering him-I guess he found out about the kiss. I can't help grinning,even though my face screams in pain. "Awww. Is that what's got you down? I've seen the way you look at her.You want her bad,yeah? Is that something you're also trying to earn your way up to, trot? Hate to burst your bubble,but I didn't force her into anything."
A deep scarlet rage flashes across his face. "She's looking forward to your execution,Mr. Wing. I can guarantee you that."
I laugh. "Sore loser,huh? Here,I'll make you feel better. I'll tell you all about what it was like.Hearing about it is the next best thing,isn't it?” 
READ IT IF:

  1. You're looking for books that are similar to Divergent.
  2. You like strong and smart female characters.
  3. You like books that have plenty of action and a promising storyline.

RATING:
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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Teaser Tuesday

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

“You're brilliant,"he says."But you're a fool to stay with someone like me."
I close my eyes at the touch of his hand."Then we are both fools.” 

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Review: Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn, David Levithan


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
It all starts when Nick asks Norah to be his girlfriend for five minutes. He only needs five minutes to avoid his ex-girlfriend, who’s just walked in to his band’s show. With a new guy. And then, with one kiss, Nick and Norah are off on an adventure set against the backdrop of New York City—and smack in the middle of all the joy, anxiety, confusion, and excitement of a first date.
MY TAKE:
I've been meaning to read this book for so long, but it's only recently that I was able to borrow a copy.

In Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Nick and Norah meet in a club after Nick sees his ex and asks Norah to pretend to be his girlfriend. What started as a pretend relationship eventually progresses into something so much more.

I haven't seen the movie, either, but I do know that it stars Michael Cera and Kat Dennings. After reading the book, I can say that I think Kat Dennings is the perfect Norah. Norah is like a younger version of Kat's character in Two Broke Girls. I really enjoyed reading Norah's thoughts because even though she can be neurotic and sweary, she's also funny, sarcastic and realistic. I wasn't too sure about Michael Cera as Nick, at first. I imagined someone a little more emo-looking. As the book progressed, though, I started to see how it could work. They have the same awkwardness and uncertainty about them.

The story itself was a bit like a teenage version of Before Sunrise. There's a lot of talking and exploring and just getting to know each other. There were moments that I really enjoyed, particularly those that took place while they're exploring Midtown.

I kinda wish there were just a tad bit more music and playlists here. I was sort of hoping to discover more music I would like, but majority of the focus was on Nick's songwriting, which I couldn't really appreciate because there are only words and no melody.

THE GOOD:

  1. Nick and Norah's dilemmas are realistic.
  2. Norah is funny, sarcastic and just the right dash of neurotic.
  3. You feel like you're exploring Manhattan as well. 

THE BAD:

  1. Nick can be so dramatic and overly emo at times. 

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
“It was about the feeling, you know? She caused it in me, but it wasn't about her. It was about my reaction, what I wanted to feel and then convinced myself that I felt, because I wanted it that bad. That illusion. It was love because I created it as love.” 
READ IT IF:

  1. You're straight-edge.
  2. You like books wherein there's more talking and self-exploration than action.
  3. You like characters that are very much like regular teenagers. 

RATING:
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Sunday, April 19, 2015

In My Mailbox


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

FROM NETGALLEY:



Gabby Duran and the Unsittables by Elise Allen, Daryle Connors
Nick and Tesla's Special Effects Spectacular: A Mystery with Animatronics, Alien Makeup, Camera Gear, and Other Movie Magic You Can Make Yourself! by Bob Pflugfelder, Steve Hockensmith

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Review: Belle: A Retelling of "Beauty and the Beast" (Once Upon A Time Fairytales) by Cameron Dokey


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
Belle is convinced she has the wrong name, as she lacks her sisters' awe-inspiring beauty. So she withdraws from society, devoting her time to wood carving. Secretly, Belle longs to find the fabled Heartwood Tree. If carved by the right hands, the Heartwood will reveal the face of one's true love.
During a fierce storm, Belle's father stumbles upon the mysterious Heartwood—and encounters a terrifying and lonely Beast. Now Belle must carve the Heartwood to save her father, and learn to see not with the eyes of her mind, but with the eyes of her heart.

MY TAKE:
After being somewhat disappointed by the Mulan story in this series, I decided to begin this book with only moderate expectations.

In Belle: A Retelling of "Beauty and the Beast", Belle has two older and very beautiful sisters. She feels she is the plain one and that she doesn't live up to her name. By a twist of fate, she is forced to live with a Beast whose only goal is to find out what the Heartwood Tree will reveal.

This book was a pleasant surprise. I only know the Disney version of the story, so a lot of the elements were new to me. The more familiar elements were fine, as well, but it was nice that this felt almost like a different story.

I decided to take a quick peek at the original story via the Beauty and the Beast entry in Wikipedia. This retelling is certainly kinder on the sisters, as while Celeste can be a prickly character sometimes, April is a very nice person. The Heartwood Tree is a new addition as well, and a good idea, as it brings something else to the table, in terms of conflict and backstory.

While this story is ultimately a love story between Belle and Beast, it also shows a beautiful story about sisters.

THE GOOD:

  1. There are enough new elements here to make it worth the read.
  2. The interactions between the sisters are realistic.
  3. It has positive messages. 

THE BAD:

  1. The ending is a bit corny. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You liked the Disney version.
  2. You like stories with positive messages.
  3. You like stories about sisters. 

RATING:
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Friday, April 17, 2015

Review: George's Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl


SUMMARY FROM AMAZON:
A taste of her own medicine.
George is alone in the house with Grandma. The most horrid, grizzly old grunion of a grandma ever. She needs something stronger than her usual medicine to cure her grouchiness. A special grandma medicine, a remedy for everything. And George knows just what to put into it. Grandma's in for the surprise of her life—and so is George, when he sees the results of his mixture!

MY TAKE:
I picked up this book mainly because I had a good feeling about this based on the cover.

In George's Marvelous Medicine, George's grandmother is a mean person. One day, while alone with his grandmother, George decides to create a concoction that will make his grandmother a more pleasant person. His experiment, however, results in something even remarkable.

 It's so nice when you pick up a book you think you will like and it doesn't disappoint you. George's Marvelous Medicine was definitely entertaining.

George's grandmother is a rude, bossy person, and right away, I disliked her and cheered for George. George's idea of creating a new medicine for his grandmother was cute, although the way he went about it was not something I'd be happy about if I was his mother. I actually liked his mother. She was the voice of reason in their household. George's father, on the other hand, was sort of greedy and nutty, so I wasn't a fan.

What I really liked a lot about this book was how it was absurd, funny and magical, but it starts from a realistic point so it's easier for kids to think that this could be possible. Hopefully, they don't imitate George, though, because his method and ingredients are definitely not safe.

THE GOOD:

  1. It's a funny, light read.
  2. Kids will be able to relate to George combining numerous ingredients to create a potion of some sort.
  3. The ending is happy. 

THE BAD:

  1.  Some kids may try to imitate George.

READ IT IF:

  1. Your kid likes mixing random ingredients together.
  2. Your kid likes silly books that stem from a believable point.
  3. Your kid likes to experiment.

RATING:
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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Review: Angry Birds Comics Volume 2: When Pigs Fly by Paul Tobin and Isa Python


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
The adventures continue in these charming, all-ages comics featuring who else, the Angry Birds!
MY TAKE:
I enjoyed the first book in this series so I was excited to read this book.

In Angry Birds Comics Volume 2: When Pigs Fly, readers are treated to the crazy antics of the angry birds and bad piggies for a second time.

I enjoyed this book a lot, and if you're a fan of the game or the cartoons, I'm sure you'll like this book as well. The book is colorful and the main Angry Birds characters are here, so if you play the game or watch the show, you'll have no trouble recognizing the characters. The characters each have distinct personalities, which was fun to see. My favorite, of course, are the three blue birds because they were childlike and cute.

The book contains nine stories. Three of the those stories are focused on the Bad Piggies. I particularly liked the one wherein the piggies try to learn how to use a trampoline to counteract the birds' slingshot.

Of the stories focused on the birds, my favorite was the one wherein they all drank a blue juice that had an interesting effect on their speech.

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

THE GOOD:

  1. The stories were funny.
  2. The characters had distinct personalities.
  3. The artwork is perfect for the Angry Birds. 

THE BAD:

  1.  I wanted even more stories.

READ IT IF:

  1. You like the Angry Birds game.
  2. You like watching the Angry Birds cartoon.
  3. You wonder what the birds and pigs get up to outside of the game.

RATING:
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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Review: The Second Guard by J. D. Vaughn


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Ages 10 and up
In the peaceful realm of Tequende, all second-born children at the age of fifteen must journey to the Alcazar to fulfill the mandate of the Oath of Guilds. There they train to earn a place among the queen's legendary Second Guard, or work as indentured servants.
Talimendra has always wanted to join the Guard, but there are dark rumors in the queendom that she may not be ready for. Rumors that whisper of greed, traitors, and war.
There is very little time and too many unanswered questions, but one thing is for certain: if there is a traitor among the Second Guard, then everyone-including the queen-is in grave danger.

MY TAKE:
While I wasn't smitten with this book, I think this is the beginning of a series that's one to watch.

In Second Guard, Tali goes to Alcazar to fulfill her obligation to become a pledge and hopefully become part of the Queen's Second Guard. The training is hard and brutal but she is able to bear it thanks to her friends. However, all is not well in their peaceful kingdom and Tali and her friends may find themselves at the heart of something quite sinister.

The best comparison I can give of this story to others already on the market is that it's a Mayan version of Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley living in a world and story imagined and written by Tamora Pierce. There's no magic here, though, and Tali is the focus of the story, not the other boys.

I'm a fan of Tamora Pierce's Protector of the Small and Song of the Lioness series so I quite liked this. There's a lot of training scenes and an epic battle, which is right up my alley.

Tali is a tough girl in her own right, although she can be impulsive and emotional, which doesn't always serve her well. I also liked her two friends Chey and Zarif. I wasn't too fond of Brindl, though.

As far as plot twists go, a few of the more important ones were a surprise, although there were also a number which I was able to guess easily. Mostly it's because I was able to see immediately which pairings appeared to be endgame, which meant that I took certain things with a grain of salt. Of course, as with the Protector of the Small series, there's not much in the way of romance here, just a few moments here and there.

I am curious to see what happens in the next book. If the plot twists are more unpredictable than the ones in this book, then this could be the next big series.

Thanks to NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. The battle scenes are epic.
  2. Their culture is interesting.
  3. Tali can hold her own in training and in battle.

THE BAD:

  1. Some of the plot twists are easy to predict. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You like Tamora Pierce's books.
  2. You like heroines who can fight.
  3. You like love interests who are warriors. 

RATING:
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