Sunday, May 31, 2015

In My Mailbox


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

FROM NETGALLEY:




Human Body Theater by Maris Wicks
The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Romeo and Juliet by Ian Lendler

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Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Review: The Super-Deluxe, Epic Journal of Awesomeness by Hourglass Press, Saul Sauza


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Express yourself with this dynamic diary! Draw pictures of your buttons, illustrate your favorite songs, and design your personal superhero ― and that's just for starters! This book is bursting with suggestions for using your imagination, from things to do ("Use this paper to make something") to things to think about ("List ten things that made you happy today"). Loaded with borders, fill-in blanks, and thought-provoking captions, this book will help you draw on your own creativity.
MY TAKE:
While I felt that this was closer to an activity book than an actual journal, I still enjoyed this book.

In The Super-Deluxe, Epic Journal of Awesomeness, kids and adults can spend hours drawing, folding, and writing different things that show something about themselves.

Majority of the projects that I saw here were drawing activities. If your child is an artist or just enjoys drawing, then this is a good buy for you. Some of the drawing activities are: draw a cartoon strip of you and your best friend, and draw a map of your town.

If your child is only mildly interested in drawing, there are still activities here that he or she can do. For example, there's a spot-the-difference activity and origami projects. My favorite activities that weren't drawing activities were the life coupons and the one wherein you fill-in a drawing of a menu with the name of food items from your favorite restaurant.

I wish there had been more variety when it comes to the type of activities found here, but overall, it's a fun book that can keep your child occupied for a pretty long while, and can be kept as a reminder of what he or she was like when he or she was a child.

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

THE GOOD:

  1. There are plenty of activities for your child to work on.
  2. A number of the activities are pretty creative.
  3. It's something that can act as a snapshot of what your child was like at this particular stage in his or her life. 

THE BAD:

  1. I would have liked it better if here had been more non-drawing activities. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You need something that can keep your child occupied for a while.
  2. Your child loves to draw.
  3. Your child likes activity books.

RATING:
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Friday, May 29, 2015

Review: Mollie Makes: Making It: The hard facts you need to start your own business by Mollie Makes


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Love knitting but not so hot on accounting? A whiz on a sewing machine but no good with a spreadsheet? Then this book is for you! Craft is now a viable career choice. Shoppers are choosing handmade gifts rather than buying impersonal high street products – and new craft businesses are springing up all the time. Whether you are an amateur knitter thinking about selling your work at a local market or an established company looking to drive more traffic to your website, this handy pocket-sized book contains everything you need to know about combining craft and business.
MY TAKE:
This is one of those books that made me wish I had a printed review copy instead of an electronic review copy.

In Mollie Makes: Making It: The hard facts you need to start your own business, readers are taken through the things they should do, consider or prepare for if they're considering turning a craft hobby into a business.

This is a must-read not only for those who love to craft and are considering turning it into a business, but also for business owners who are just starting out. It includes a lot of important information and considerations that one should know if they want to improve the chances of their venture becoming a success.

The book starts at the concept stage, that is branding, research, etc. Other things discussed in the book are: creating a business plan, computing costs and pricing, protecting your intellectual property, writing sample press releases and managing your finances and tax payments.

There are plenty of great tips here, and there are also plenty of interviews with experts and resource persons who were able to provide additional pointers for new business owners.

I liked how, despite being less than 150 pages long, the book contained a lot of useful and important information. It actually felt a little bit like you're taking a Craft Business 101 course. I also liked how it made creating a business seem doable. It's still a lot of work and slightly daunting once the tax part comes in, but otherwise, it doesn't seem impossible.

Thanks to NetGalley and Collins & Brown for the e-copy.

THE GOOD:

  1. It's quite comprehensive, despite its length.
  2. There are plenty of great tips.
  3. It makes starting a business seem like a possibility for anyone. 

THE BAD:

  1. A lot of the more specific information is geared towards UK and, to a lesser extent, US readers, so if you're outside the UK or US, you can only use some of the information as a starting point.

READ IT IF:

  1. You are thinking of starting a business.
  2. You like sewing, crocheting, etc.
  3. You've wondered what you needed to do to start a business.

RATING:
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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Review: Buzz Books 2015: Young Adult FALL/WINTER by Publishers Lunch


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
This edition of Buzz Books: Young Adult provides substantial pre-publication excerpts from 20 forthcoming young adult and middle grade books. Now everyone can share the same access to the newest YA voices the publishing industry is broadcasting for the fall/winter season. Extensive publishing information, including promotion plans and publicity contacts, are included in this NetGalley version. At the end of most excerpts, you will find a link to the full galley on NetGalley!
Excerpts include new work from established leaders in the field (James Dashner, Jennifer Donnelly, Patrick Ness, and Lauren Oliver), authors best-known for their adult books (Eleanor Herman and Cammie McGovern), and newsmaking titles such as the highly graphic History of Glitter and Blood, Illuminae, and The Thing About Jellyfish.
You will find a full range of YA titles previewed here —dystopian, romance, fantasy, sci-fi, humor, literary and more — and you will find some works for tweens and middle-grade readers. As always, many are sure to make bestseller and “best of” lists.
Four of our titles will be featured at this year’s Book Expo America convention on their own YA or Middle Grade Editors Buzz panels: Everything Everything, Nightfall, This Raging Light, and The Thing About Jellyfish. Plus, half of our 20 Buzz Books: Young Adult authors will be in attendance at BEA.

MY TAKE:
I'm always on the lookout for new books to read so I requested this sampler to see if there were any new books that I should be looking forward to.

While I didn't love every book here, there were certainly a couple or so that I liked enough to request, and a few others that piqued my interest and which I will look into again in the future, when the reviews for them start coming in.

Based on what I read from this sampler, my must-read books are: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, and This is Where it Ends by .

I usually love books that make use almost exclusively of transcripts, documents, etc. to tell the story. If done right, you get an all-encompassing view of the story without being burdened by the thoughts and feelings of the narrators towards certain characters. Illuminae was definitely a shining example of this type of narration, and I look forward to reading the whole thing, if I get approved.

As for This is Where it Ends, I don't think it's for everybody because the topic of school shootings is quite sensitive. I like that it shifts focus between four characters, though, and I'm curious to see more of the character dynamics at play.

Other titles that caught my attention and which I'm looking forward to are: These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly, Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman, The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness, and Curiousity House: The Shrunken Head by Lauren Oliver.

RATING:
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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Review: This Is What You Just Put in Your Mouth? From Eggnog to Beef Jerky, the Surprising SecretsIn by Patrick Di Justo


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
What do a cup of coffee and cockroach pheromone have in common? How is Fix-A-Flat like sugarless gum? Is a Slim Jim meat stick really alive? If I Can't Believe It's Not Butter isn't butter, what is it?
All of these pressing questions and more are answered in This Is What You Just Put In Your Mouth? Based on his popular Wired magazine column What's Inside, Patrick Di Justo takes a cold, hard, and incredibly funny look at the shocking, disgusting, and often dumbfounding ingredients found in everyday products, from Cool Whip and Tide Pods to Spam and Play-Doh. He also shares the madcap stories of his extensive research, including tracking down a reclusive condiment heir, partnering with a cop to get his hands on heroin, and getting tight-lipped snack-food execs to talk. Along the way, he schools us on product histories, label decoding, and the highfalutin chemistry concepts behind everything from Midol to Hostess fruit pies.
Packed with facts you're going to want to share immediately, this is infotainment at its best—and most fun!—which will have you giving your shampoo the side-eye and Doritos a double take, and make you the know-it-all in line at the grocery store.

MY TAKE:
I've always been a science nerd, but it was really only after I became a mom that glancing at ingredients became almost second nature to me.

In This Is What You Just Put in Your Mouth? From Eggnog to Beef Jerky, the Surprising Secrets, readers learn more about the ingredients of some popular food and non-food items and what they actually do or contribute to the item being discussed. Majority of the items also include a back story that shares anecdotes about things like how the PR staff of the company responded.

To be honest, I thought that I would end up being paranoid after reading this book. As it turned out, I was more fascinated than scared. While there were some ingredients in food that are also present in non-food and toxic items, their purpose is different. The short sentence at the top of the page for each new product tends to make it seem like some of the stuff contains harmful or gross things. If you read the explanations for each ingredient, though, you'll realize that it's not necessarily as terrible as it seems. I mean, most of it isn't really healthy and I'm definitely not going to be feeding my toddler anything that contains too many weird ingredients. However, of the products included, the ones that looked the most terrible to me were those that either aren't available where I live or stuff that no one in my family really uses, so it's all good for me.

Each product ingredient breakdown description isn't something that was just taken from some random source or Wikipedia. The author actually went out of his way to interview scientists, etc., who could give him informed answers about how the ingredients interacted with each other. I'm a foodie, so I was most impressed, of course, by the entry about A.1. Steak Sauce, wherein the resource person was Alton Brown. His contribution was very helpful and insightful, and I felt like I learned a lot.

The back stories, as you can imagine, where more entertaining that just the ingredient lists. I loved reading about the companies' reactions to the author's questions. It makes you wonder why they're not answering questions that wouldn't endanger their secret formula at all. My favorite back story, though, is the one about eggnog. As a former (school newspaper and broadsheet, very briefly) journalist, I understand the thrill of the possibility of breaking a very big story. The story didn't end the way I wanted it to, but I can't say I'm surprised because that's really how big companies operate.

Thanks to NetGalley and Three Rivers Press for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. You'll learn a lot.
  2. The back stories are interesting.
  3. The conversational tone used keeps things from becoming boring. 

THE BAD:

  1. You may find that your favorite food or products contain ingredients that you are not okay with ingesting or using. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You want to know more about the ingredients in the products you are using.
  2. You've wondered what certain ingredients actually contribute.
  3. You want to check if some of the products or food you are using or eating contain harmful ingredients.

RATING:
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Tuesday, May 26, 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!

“I wanted adventures. I wanted to go up the Nung river to the heart of darkness in Cambodia. I wanted to ride out into a desert on camelback, sand and dunes in every direction, eat whole roasted lamb with my fingers. I wanted to kick snow off my boots in a Mafiya nightclub in Russia. I wanted to play with automatic weapons in Phnom Penh, recapture the past in a small oyster village in France, step into a seedy neon-lit pulqueria in rural Mexico. I wanted to run roadblocks in the middle of the night, blowing past angry militia with a handful of hurled Marlboro packs, experience fear, excitement, wonder. I wanted kicks – the kind of melodramatic thrills and chills I’d yearned for since childhood, the kind of adventure I’d found as a little boy in the pages of my Tintin comic books. I wanted to see the world – and I wanted the world to be just like the movies”   

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Monday, May 25, 2015

Dear Internet: It’s Me, Avery Blog Tour


Today, we have an interview with Jennifer Ammoscato, the author of Dear Internet: It’s Me, Avery. 
What was the hardest thing about writing this book?
Dear Internet: It’s Me, Avery is the first book I ever tried to write. Finding my true voice as an author was both liberating and terrifying. You’re revealing a part of your soul to the world. Will people like it? Hate it? Will my mom be mad because I let the main character swear? All those worries crowded the desk with me over the three years it took to write it.
Which scene in the book is your favorite?
I absolutely LOVE the scene when Ryan and Avery hide under Victoria’s desk. As I pictured the scene in my mind, it was like I was there, feeling Avery’s terror. I would literally hold my breath as I typed.
Which part of the book was the easiest to write?
I’m not sure if any of it came easily, but I truly enjoyed writing the interaction between Avery and Clementine. Clem is salty and can be sarcastic, but you sense she wants to protect Avery from some of her more foolish life choices. It was fun investigating British slang.
Which actors would play the main characters in the movie version of the book?

I could see Reese Witherspoon as Avery. She can be sweet but tough. For Ryan, I’d envision a male lead that could be serious and intelligent but with the potential to be funny. Let’s just say I wouldn’t be disappointed if Ryan Gosling ended up in the part. As for Victoria, I think of a blonde ice queen: Charlize Theron or Blake Lively.
Which songs would be on the soundtrack of the movie version of the book?

The book actually mentions a few: You are So Beautiful and All the Single Ladies. I could see Avery listening to You Oughtta Know, She Hates Me (sanitized title, here), You Had a Bad Day, Feel Again, and Something to Talk About.
Any future books in the works?
The adventures of Avery shall continue! Books 2 through 5 are planned for the "Avery Fowler 2.0" series. She’s too much fun for me to leave behind!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Author Jennifer Ammoscato – solving the world’s problems one cosmo at a time

Jennifer Ammoscato is a paid, productive member of society. Frankly, it’s not enough. Therefore, May 2015 will see the launch of her debut novel, Dear Internet: It’s Me, Avery (the "Avery Fowler 2.0" series, Book I).

During the day, she is an intrepid writer/editor for the public relations department of a Canadian university. By night, she fights crime and the urge to organize closets and stuff herself with salted chocolate caramels.
   
She is married to her husband, Ezio, and is the proud mom of two very tall sons, Dante and Christian.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Oh, don’t judge me, people. We all do it.  Don’t try to tell me that you’ve never checked that weird mole on your thigh on WebMD. Or how to fold meringue on Epicurious. And, there’s no way that I’m the only one who clears her search history after looking up how to give a great bl— (Um, that last one’s not important.) When newspaper reporter Avery Fowler discovers her husband is having an affair, the online help site HowTo.com is where she turns to navigate this challenging stage of her life. If the Internet is Avery’s information god, then HowTo.com is her Holy Grail. Its live chat option is like having a virtual life coach (a snippy British chippy named Clementine) for the low, low price of fourteen ninety-five a month. Add into the mix Victoria, a new boss whose managerial style calls to mind the Wicked Bitch of the West—or the Anti-Christ—and the poor girl needs all the help she can get! The stakes rise and hilarity ensues as our heroine struggles to take control of her personal life and topple her boss after she learns Victoria’s guilty secret. With Clementine (virtually) in tow, our heroine tackles such tricky situations as dating after divorce, sex once nothing points north anymore, and how to cover attempted murder scenes (despite a paralyzing fear of blood) as the new andimproved Avery Fowler 2.0.


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Sunday, May 24, 2015

In My Mailbox


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

FROM NETGALLEY:


Gryphons Aren't So Great by James Sturm, Alexis Frederick-Frost, Andrew Arnold
Secret Coders by Gene Luen Yang

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Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Review: Sugar and Spice: The Cupcake Club by Sheryl Berk, Carrie Berk


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Sugar and spice and everything nice-that's what cupcake club girls are made of!
The girls of Peace, Love, and Cupcakes have a new club advisor: Blakely Elementary's zany new art teacher Mr. Quinn Dubois. He's all about painting outside the lines and making cupcakes that push the envelope.
Almost immediatley, Mr. Dubois and Kylie-the club's founder-butt heads ("He's a GUY...what does he know?!"). But with orders pouring in like cake batter there's no time to argue. Principal Fontanta needs 2,000 mini cupcakes for the school's Annual Auction Benefit and Mr. Ludwig has a special cupacke request for his store's 5th anniversary celebration! Have PLC bitten off more than they can chew?

MY TAKE:
I love cupcakes and books about friendship so I figured this sounded like something I would like.

In Sugar and Spice: The Cupcake Club, the girls are in the running to bake cupcakes for the Miss New England Shooting Starz Pageant. However, Lexi has a little added stress in her life as she earns the ire of Meredith, which in turn leads to a surprising decision on her part.

It's a good thing that after reading the summary before requesting the book, I don't reread the summary prior to reading the ARC. Otherwise, I would have been confused. As you can see from the short recap I wrote, the PLC's main baking job in the book was for a pageant and it's Lexi who takes center stage in the book.

The story had a Babysitters-Club-meets-Miss-Congeniality-meets-Toddlers-and-Tiaras. I actually kinda liked it, even if it was meant for a younger audience. I'm way past the shy stage that Lexi is in, but I think lots of young girls will be able to relate to Lexi's story.

The things I enjoyed here the most are the cupcake recipes and the interview with Magnolia Bakery's CEO. The cupcake recipes included in the book are for: green tea cupcakes, pink velvet cupcakes and pumpkin pie recipes. The interview with the CEO was pretty cool and inspiring, not just for kids but for adults who want to build their own business empire as well.

Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Jabberwocky for the e-copy.

THE GOOD:

  1. Lots of kids will be able to relate to Lexi.
  2. The flavors of the cupcakes that can be made from recipes provided look unique and yummy.
  3. The interview with the Magnolia Bakery CEO is inspiring.

THE BAD:

  1. Some may feel like there's not enough action here. 

READ IT IF:

  1. Your child likes books like The Babysitters Club.
  2. Your child likes to bake.
  3. Your child dreams of starting his or her own baking business someday. 

RATING:
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Friday, May 22, 2015

Review: Heartfelt Lies: Undone Series #2 by Kristy Love


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Loving Cassie was effortless.
She was a thirst I couldn’t quench.
She was everything I needed, but nothing I deserved.
I failed her more times than I could count.
I lied relentlessly.
And she always forgave me.
Until she couldn’t.
Maybe I deserved to be left behind.
* * *
Jax swept me off my feet with his disheveled hair and his easy smile.
I loved him fiercely.
He made me believe in the fairytale.
Then the walls crumbled around me.
The lies never ended.
I left him behind. I had no choice.
I mourned the loss of him.
But I moved on.
I created a new life,
Now, I was marrying someone else.
Where do we go now that he’s back?

MY TAKE:
The premise, as well as the beautiful cover, convinced me to give this book a try.

In Heartfelt Lies, it's Cassie's wedding day. Her ex Jax suddenly appears and begs for a second chance. Cassie still has feelings for him, but is their past and what Jax did too much for her to give him a second chance.

I really wanted to like this book. The premise was definitely what I was looking for when I decided to start reading it. However, after reading the story, I'd have to say that this was not for me. Perhaps you'll like it, though.

I enjoyed the narration set in the past more than the ones set in the future. I'll get to why later. I also liked seeing how Jax slowly descended into the world of drugs and alcohol. It's fascinating to watch and I think it will be familiar to people who have experience addiction before, as well as their family members who saw what was happening to them. It was also nice to see how Jax and Cassie were around her son. I have friends who are single mothers and it was interesting to see what dating must be like for them.

Now, why didn't I end up liking this novel? Cassie and Jax's first meeting was shown within the first chapters of the book. Their mutual attraction was there from the first second. Instalove/lust is a tricky thing for me. I don't automatically hate it, but for it to work, I need to care about the characters and be invested in their future. Since it happened so early on in the book, I hadn't had the time to really get to know the characters. So when they met, I was irritated at first and then settled into disinterested for the first half of the book. It was only when Jax was beginning his downward spiral and we get to know more about the both of them that I started to get interested in their past relationship. However, by then, I wasn't cheering for them anymore. I actually started agreeing with Cassie's mother. Of course, addicts can recover and people can change. The thing is, though, after seeing how their relationship ended, I don't think getting back together is a wise idea. Good for them if they can make it work until they're both old, though. I wish them all the best.

Thanks to NetGalley and the author for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. It shows how addiction affects both the addict and their family members.
  2. It shows that people can change for the better.
  3. There's a happy ending.

THE BAD:

  1. I hadn't gotten to know the characters well enough before they fell in love so I wasn't as invested in their relationship as I could have been. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You have a loved on who ise (or you are) a recovering alcoholic.
  2. You want to read a book about second chances.
  3. You like novels wherein there is an instant attraction between the main characters and they act on it right away.

RATING:
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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Review: Angry Birds / Transformers: Age of Eggstinction by John Barber


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
When the Transformers lose their powerful Allspark, it ends up on Piggie Island — and the world of Angry Birds turns robotic! Prepare to meet… the AUTOBIRDS and DECEPTIHOGS!
MY TAKE:
I thought the idea of an Angry Birds and Transformers crossover was cool, so I just had to read this one.

In Angry Birds / Transformers: Age of Eggstinction, the Allspark ends up on Piggy Island, transforming the pigs into Deceptihogs and the birds into Autobirds. At first, the birds and pigs are still fighting over the eggs. Before long, however, they realize that the Allspark is doing something strange to Piggy Island and the eggs. Now they must work together to put a stop to all this and save Piggy Island.

As I expected, there were some very funny lines here. The birds and pigs got themselves into odd situations, so it was really ripe for comedy.

I thought the plot was pretty interesting, and the idea of making the birds and pigs to be bird- and pig-versions of the Transformer characters instead of becoming new versions of Decepticons and Autobots was a good call. However, there were times wherein I would get confused as to who a particular pig was when he wasn't a Deceptihog, and what his name was as a Deceptihog. The birds were easier to identify, although in my head, I referred to most of them by what they were called as regular angry birds. It really helps to be familiar with the names and looks of the Autobots and Decepticons, because with everything going on, things can get confusing.

I liked how the panels and dialogue were laid out, as they seemed to make things even more action-packed and dynamic. The colors, though, for some reason, seemed a little less bright than what I'm used to seeing from Angry Birds comic books.

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

THE GOOD:

  1. It's an Angry Birds and Transformers crossover.
  2. There are some truly funny lines.
  3. The plot is clever. 

THE BAD:

  1. It can be confusing to try and remember which bird and pig represented which Autobot and Decepticon. 

READ IT IF:

  1. If you're a fan of Transformers.
  2. If you like Angry Birds.
  3. You like crossover books and shows.

RATING:
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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Review: The Proof and the Pudding: What Mathematicians, Cooks, and You Have in Common by Jim Henle


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Tie on your apron and step into Jim Henle’s kitchen as he demonstrates how two equally savory pursuits—cooking and mathematics—have more in common than you realize. A tasty dish for gourmets of popular math, The Proof and the Pudding offers a witty and flavorful blend of mathematical treats and gastronomic delights that reveal how life in the mathematical world is tantalizingly similar to life in the kitchen.
Take a tricky Sudoku puzzle and a cake that fell. Henle shows you that the best way to deal with cooking disasters is also the best way to solve math problems. Or take an L-shaped billiard table and a sudden desire for Italian potstickers. He explains how preferring geometry over algebra (or algebra over geometry) is just like preferring a California roll to chicken tikka masala. Do you want to know why playfulness is rampant in math and cooking? Or how to turn stinky cheese into an awesome ice cream treat? It’s all here: original math and original recipes plus the mathematical equivalents of vegetarianism, Asian fusion, and celebrity chefs.
Pleasurable and lighthearted, The Proof and the Pudding is a feast for the intellect as well as the palate.
Jim Henle is the Myra M. Sampson Professor of Mathematics and Statistics at Smith College. His books include Sweet Reason: A Field Guide to Modern Logic and Calculus: The Language of Change. He lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.

MY TAKE:
Although I like math, I tend to shy away from math books like these since they tend to be boring.

In The Proof and the Pudding: What Mathematicians, Cooks, and You Have in Common, the author shows readers the parallelisms of math and cooking. The book includes math puzzles and games, as well as recipes created by the author which readers can try at home.

The book was certainly successful in making me see the similarities between math and cooking. The one that stuck to me, especially, was how attitude and confidence was the most important thing when tackling math problems and cooking. That's certainly a helpful lesson for people, particularly those who aren't all that confident about mathematics.

The whole tone of the book was more inspirational than reference-like. The writing was funny, sometimes sarcastic, and was a little bit like Leonard-meets-Sheldon (from Big Bang Theory). This, plus the addition of recipes, kept the book from being boring.

The book will appeal mostly to math enthusiasts and cooking enthusiasts, obviously. Additional examples of puzzles and such can be found in a special website for the book. The recipes, on the other hand, look delicious and worth trying if you have the inclination to cook.

It wasn't an exact fit for me, so I wasn't fully into it. However, I do appreciate and like how I was able to feel the author's passion for mathematics practically pour out from the page. That kind of enthusiasm helps make the subject more fun and interesting, and helps make me feel more excited about the subjects discussed as well.

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

THE GOOD:

  1. The author's passion is contagious.
  2. The recipes look doable and like they'll produce delicious food.
  3. It makes math look fun.

THE BAD:

  1. If math isn't your strong point, you may find your attention wandering a few times. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You like mathematics.
  2. You like cooking.
  3. You like books that make boring subjects more fun. 

RATING:
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Tuesday, May 19, 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!

“Isn't Bunson's training evil geniuses?"
"Yes, mostly."
"Well, is that wise? Having a mess of seedling evil geniuses falling in love with you willy-nilly? What if they feel spurned?"
"Ah, but in the interim, think of the lovely gifts they can make you. Monique bragged that one of her boys made her silver and wood hair sticks as anti-supernatural weapons. With amethyst inlay. And another made her an exploding wicker chicken."
"Goodness, what's that for?"
Dimity pursed her lips. "Who doesn't want an exploding wicker chicken?”   

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Review: Glance Backward HC by Tony Sandoval


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Sean Wu had no idea of the secrets kept by his estranged father — until his death kicked open the gates to a mysterious world of international tomb robbers and ageless myths! Now the sole heir to this critical legacy, he must survive the darkest terrors haunting the most sought after treasures buried within a globe-spanning labyrinth of ancient catacombs in order to solve his father’s murder and perhaps even save the world… Based on the best-selling Chinese novel series Daomu Journal, written by Xu “Kennedy” Lei, this original graphic novel collects the sold-out series created by the celebrated art directors at Concept Art House, with over 20 million fans declaring Xu ‘China’s Stephen King’.
This 244-page hardcover features a soft-touch textured cover with embossed elements, highlighting the strikingly rendered painted artwork on both front and back cover. The epic storyline is supplemented by concept artwork and additional design material further exploring the world of Daomu.

MY TAKE:
I was quite excited to read this graphic novel after reading the summary.

In Glance Backward, a young boy enters a strange world where nothing is as it seems. He would love nothing more than to get back home but it's not that easy, especially since he is also being hunted by a beast.

Because I don't reread the summary before reading e-ARCs I've already downloaded, I was confused at first by the copy I received. I was sure that I was excited about this one, but until I reread the summary that I realized that the book was 244 pages long and the copy I received was only 90 pages. There wasn't anything on the NetGalley page to indicate that this was only a preview or sample either. That aside, I thought that this was an interesting book.

From what I saw of the book, it was very surreal. It was like being in a dream, and not the fun kind either. It's the kind of book that Tim Burton could easily turn into a film.

I don't think I can truly comment on the plot accurately since I only saw less than half of the book. However, from what I saw, it's dark, avant garde, and a tad morbid. It's absolutely perfect for any horror fan. The thing is, though, I am hesitant to recommend it to the younger horror fans. There's a sort of graphic scene here that I found a bit disturbing, which was thankfully tempered by the use of dark colors.

Overall, the book does look promising, but the style may not appeal to more mainstream fans.

Thanks to NetGalley and Magnetic Press for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. The style is perfect for the story.
  2. Horror fans will love this.
  3. It's something new.

THE BAD:

  1. It can get morbid and graphic sometimes. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You like horror.
  2. You like odd adventure tales.
  3. You are looking for a thriller. 

RATING:
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Sunday, May 17, 2015

In My Mailbox


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

FROM NETGALLEY:



Pro Wrestling FAQ: All That's Left to Know About the World's Most Entertaining Spectacle by Brian Solomon
Undertow by Michael Buckley

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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Review: Material Girls by Elaine Dimopoulos


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Project Runway meets Divergent in this insightful young adult novel that looks at fashion and consumerism in a world where children are the gatekeepers of culture and staying young and trendy are the keys to success.
MY TAKE:
The Project Runway-meets-Divergent comparison had me intrigued so I couldn't pass this book up.

In Material Girls, Marla is a hotshot judge who is part of a group that approves clothes and trends for one of the Big Five fashion houses. Ivy is a superstar, wild-child singer who isn't happy with the image she is being forced to maintain. Their worlds meet soon enough and things look up for both of them. However, the powers-that-be have other things in mind.

To be honest, the first third or so of the book, I wasn't really feeling the story. There was plenty of fashion, which was cool, but their world and society felt so shallow that I was worried about the logic behind their society's rules and what kind of resolution it would have.

The explanations for the slang, the society's structure, etc. came slowly but once I understood what the point of the society was, I was actually quite impressed.

Trends are not only a fashion thing. For example, for awhile, there was a vampire-books trend, and currently, there's a dystopian YA book trend. While it's these trends and how silly they tend to be are the focus points of the story, this book also talks about more important things. Like sustainable clothing, like how wasteful fashion and following trends can be, and also, surprisingly, unions.

The interesting thing about this book is that the society's creepy, controlling aspects actually exist in our world today, although they're probably just a little bit exaggerated here. I found this to be a very good thing because the book does make you care about the issues like unfair treatment of laborers. The younger generations, or really anyone who has lived a fairly sheltered life, can learn a lot here and hopefully, they'll learn to care and ask questions and learn more about the world around them.

While I liked the book overall, I think my teenage and pre-teen self would have liked this even more. I had a Captain Planet phase for awhile back then, plus Ivy and Marla most definitely think like teenagers. I found that while I remembered feeling the way they did, it didn't really strike a chord in me anymore. I was cheering them on, though. As for their love interest, I was actually kind of meh about him. I didn't dislike him or anything, but I felt like Ivy and Marla's personalities were too big for him, and to me he just kind of faded into the background most times.

Thanks to NetGalley and HMH Books for Young Readers for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. It actually has something to say, and not just some abstract concept that's been rehashed before.
  2. There's plenty of fashion.
  3. Young girls can learn a lot from this book. 

THE BAD:

  1. The alternating use of first-person voice and third-person voice can be confusing and odd to some.

READ IT IF:

  1. You like fashion.
  2. You like books that raise awareness of something that people need to know and care about.
  3. You like reality television. 

RATING:
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Friday, May 15, 2015

Review: Gabby Duran and the Unsittables by Elise Allen, Daryle Connors


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Ages 8-12
Case File: The First Unsittable
Summary: The Association Linking Intergalatics and Earthlings (hereby known as A.L.I.E.N.) has a new member. After months of investigation, Gabby Duran, Associate 4118-25125A, has proven herself to be a babysitter extraordinaire. Her celebrity clients fly her around the country to care for their rambunctious little humans. Our spy, Associate 4118-23432B, otherwise known as Edwina, believes Gabby can be trusted with the truth: aliens are living among humans on Earth. And here at A.L.I.E.N we believe that even extraterrestrials need a babysitter now and then. No one was up to the task until now.
After accepting the top-secret position, Edwina has paired our new associate up with her first charge, a little girl from the planet Flarknartia. The timing for associate 4118-25125A is less than ideal. It's a school day on Planet Earth, Gabby's audition for the solo part in the band is tonight, and this tiny alien is a bit more than meets the eye.
Can Gabby Duran, Associate 4118-25125A, First Sitter to the Unsittables, keep her otherworldly charge safe in the unpredictable halls of middle-school and keep A.L.I.E.N hidden?
MY TAKE:
I don't usually read featuring aliens, but I'm glad I gave this one a try.

In Gabby Duran and the Unsittables, Gabby is a babysitter who is well-known for being able to take care of kids who some may consider unsittable. Her reputation attracts the attention of A.L.I.E.N. and they enlist her services to babysit alien children. Gabby is confident she can do the job, but the alien children are the least of her worries. A shadowy organization is bent on getting rid of aliens, and if they knew of Gabby's connection to A.L.I.E.N., things could get dicey for her and her charges.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a bit like Men in Black meets Babysitters Club. I'm not a fan of scary aliens, and I prefer my aliens cute and funny. The aliens in this book certainly are that. Wutt is such a cutie pie! I also thought her shape-shifting ability was fitting and made the story more interesting.

The whole idea of an organization that protects aliens and a group that does the opposite isn't exactly new. However, it doesn't matter in this instance. Everything works together perfectly such that even concepts that have been done before feel perfect for the story and its feel and pacing.

Aside from the aliens' varying talents and abilities, the biggest draw and asset of this book is Gabby. She is a sweet, charming little girl who has a good heart, but has desires and faults just like any other girl. I'm sure there are plenty of little girls out there who will be able to relate to her.

I absolutely can't wait to read the next book in the series.

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

THE GOOD:

  1. The aliens are mostly charming and sweet.
  2. The pacing was perfect.
  3. Gabby is likable. 

THE BAD:

  1. The next book won't come out for a while. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You or your child likes aliens that are mostly on the nice side.
  2. Your child wants to babysit someday.
  3. Your kid likes adventure novels. 

RATING:
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