Tuesday, June 30, 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've always known I was gay, but it wasn't confirmed until I was in kindergarten.

It was my teacher who said so. It was right there on my kindergarten report card: PAUL IS DEFINITELY GAY AND HAS VERY GOOD SENSE OF SELF.”      

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Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Review: Hunting for Hidden Gold (The Hardy Boys #5) by Franklin W. Dixon


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
Timber wolves, a Rocky Mountain blizzard, and a mine cave-in are only a few of the perils Frank and Joe Hardy encounter during their search for the principal members of a notorious gang responsible for a payroll robbery.
MY TAKE:
If you like a good, old-fashioned Western tale, then you'll probably like this one.

In Hunting for Hidden Gold, the Hardy boys' father acts for their help to solve a mystery, after he is injured while on the job. The boys get more than they bargained for, though, as the people they are up against have many agents. Who can they really trust?

As far as mysteries go, this was a good one. I wasn't too sure at first, though, as it was playing out like a typical mystery to me, with significant moments popping out here and there that you'll probably recognize as something the author included as clues. However, around the last 1/3 of the book, things started getting more and more complicated and before long, I was on the edge of my seat.

There were moments wherein I would think that the boys need a cellphone, and then I'd remember that this was set a long time ago, and I'd smile. Things were much simpler then, even if the setting for this book hadn't been a rugged mountain town.

If you like mysteries, you should give this one a try.

THE GOOD:

  1. The mystery is a good one.
  2. It's action-packed.
  3. You feel like you're right there with the boys. 

THE BAD:

  1.  There are some predictable moments.

READ IT IF:

  1. You like mysteries.
  2. You like Westerns.
  3. You like books that are action-packed. 

RATING:
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Sunday, June 28, 2015

In My Mailbox


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

FROM NETGALLEY:



Max the Brave by Ed Vere

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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Review: Poison Study (Study #1) by Maria V. Snyder


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
Choose:
A quick death
Or slow poison...
Yelena has a choice – be executed for murder, or become food taster to the Commander of Ixia. She leaps at the chance for survival, but her relief may be short-lived.
Life in the palace is full of hazards and secrets. Wily and smart, Yelena must learn to identify poisons before they kill her, recognise whom she can trust and how to spy on those she can’t. And who is the mysterious Southern sorceress who can reach into her head?
When Yelena realises she has extraordinary powers of her own, she faces a whole new problem, for using magic in Ixia is punishable by death...

MY TAKE:
I found the premise intriguing, and the story lived up to it.

In Poison Study, Yelena agrees to be trained as the Commander's food taster in exchange for her life. However, things are afoot, and even if she can survive the training, there's no guarantee she'll make it through everything else.

There were moments while I was reading when I thought that this felt like a Tamora Pierce book. I mean that as a compliment. The heroine is strong, smart and becomes a pretty good fighter. There's also some magical elements here and some pretty interesting plot twists. Of course, there were some predictable moments, but that's okay because the more unpredictable twists are shockers so you don't feel like this is something you've read a thousand times before.

The thing I liked the most about this book, aside from the poison lessons Yelena received from Valek, was watching their love story unfold. It was a slow and natural progression, although it did escalate pretty quickly at the end. Again, this was fine because by that point I just wanted them to get together already.

I thought Yelena and Valek were a perfect match. They challenge each other, but in a healthy way. There may be some who won't like the age gap between Yelena and Valek, which is about ten years, but I actually liked it since I enjoy romances wherein the guy is older (not too old, though) than the female.

I'm definitely looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

THE GOOD:

  1. There are interesting plot twists.
  2. It has strong female characters.
  3. The romance between Yelena and Valek is angsty but beautiful.

THE BAD:

  1. There are some predictable twists. 

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
“I want you to have this.” He extended his hand. On his palm sat the beautiful butterfly he had carved. Silver spots on the wings glinted in the sunlight, and a silver chain hung from a small hole drilled into its body.
Valek looped the necklace around my neck. “When I carved this statue, I was thinking about you. Delicate in appearance, but with a strength unnoticed at first glance.” His eyes met mine.”  
READ IT IF:

  1. You like Tamora Pierce's books.
  2. You enjoy books with romances wherein the guy is older than the girl.
  3. You like strong female characters.

RATING:
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Friday, June 26, 2015

Review: Easy (Contours of the Heart #1) by Tammara Webber


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
When Jacqueline follows her longtime boyfriend to the college of his choice, the last thing she expects is a breakup two months into sophomore year. After two weeks in shock, she wakes up to her new reality: she's single, attending a state university instead of a music conservatory, ignored by her former circle of friends, and failing a class for the first time in her life.
Leaving a party alone, Jacqueline is assaulted by her ex's frat brother. Rescued by a stranger who seems to be in the right place at the right time, she wants nothing more than to forget the attack and that night - but her savior, Lucas, sits on the back row of her econ class, sketching in a notebook and staring at her. Her friends nominate him to be the perfect rebound.
When her attacker turns stalker, Jacqueline has a choice: crumple in defeat or learn to fight back. Lucas remains protective, but he's hiding secrets of his own. Suddenly appearances are everything, and knowing who to trust is anything but easy.

MY TAKE:
This is one of the few books that I had a difficult time deciding how to rate it.

In Easy, Jacqueline is assaulted on her way home from a party. She is saved by a guy who turns out to be someone who is in her economics class. Before long, she and Lucas develop a relationship, with the encouragement of her friends. However, the guy who attacked Jacqueline isn't done yet, and things will get a lot more complicated for her.

I wasn't sure whether I should give this book three stars or four stars. For me, it was sort of a 3.5-3.75-star kind of book. The plot twists were all fairly predictable or expected, which bothered me a little, as I was hoping for at least one plot twist that took me completely by surprise.

There were a couple of plot twists here, though, that horrified me. Mostly they had to do with Jacqueline's assaults. Personally, I only know of one friend who was sexually assaulted, so most of what I know about how survivors react comes from books, television shows and movies. Some learn to fight back or carry some kind of weapon, some are traumatized, and some just want to forget. Jacqueline just wants to forget, which of course I understood. However, I wish she had become more vigilant or gotten a weapon or a Taser or taken self-defense classes earlier. I also wished she hadn't clammed up during the second assault because it could have helped save Mindi or herself... maybe.

There are two reasons, however, that I decided to rate this four stars instead of three. One is that I liked Benji and Erin. They seem like good people and the kind of friends you'd want to have around. The other reason is Jacqueline and Lucas' romance.

Physically, Lucas is most definitely not my type. I do like that he can defend himself and others, and that he's a hard worker. Jacqueline was okay most of the time, though there were a couple of times there when I thought she could be Bella Swan's cousin.

Despite how I actually felt about the characters, I actually enjoyed their scenes together. There's a lot of chemistry here, and I didn't feel like I wanted to gag, which is what usually happens when I sense that the author is trying to force a connection or a moment between the two lead characters.

THE GOOD:

  1. Jacqueline and Lucas' romance is pretty hot.
  2. Jacqueline's friends are awesome.
  3. Lucas seems like a nice person.

THE BAD:

  1. You might be frustrated by how Jacqueline handles the assault at first.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
Sometimes, how a situation is perceived carries more weight than the reality of the matter. 
READ IT IF:

  1. You like bad boys.
  2. You've fallen for someone you probably shouldn't have.
  3. You like older guys. 

RATING:
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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Review: An Oath Broken by Diana Cosby


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
An arranged marriage to a Scot? Unacceptable!

Lady Sarra Bellacote would sooner marry a boar than a countryman of the bloodthirsty brutes who killed her parents. And yet, despite—or perhaps because of—her valuable holdings, she is being dragged to Scotland to be wed against her will. To complicate the desperate situation, the knight hired to do the dragging is dark, wild, irresistible. And he, too, is intolerably Scottish.

Giric Armstrong, Earl of Terrick, takes no pleasure in escorting a feisty English lass to her betrothed. But he needs the coin to rebuild his castle, and his tenants need to eat. Yet the trip will not be the simple matter he imagined. For Lady Sarra isn't the only one determined to see her engagement fail. Men with darker motives want to stop the wedding—even if they must kill the bride in the process.

Now, in close quarters with this beautiful English heiress, Terrick must fight his mounting desire, and somehow keep Sarra alive long enough to lose her forever to another man…

MY TAKE:
I am a fan of the bodyguard trope, so of course I was interested after reading the summary.

In An Oath Broken, Sarra is commanded by her guardian to marry his son. A team of Scottish escorts has come to take her to the castle. However, they are ambushed and Sarra and Giric are separated from the rest. Love soon blossoms between them, but how can it last if Sarra is meant to wed another?

To be honest, during the first few chapters of the book, I wasn't feeling particularly hopeful about the rest of the book. It was mostly because I spotted some phrases that I hate seeing ("slip of a woman", etc.) and there were some moments there that I felt were overtly cliche.

However, things got progressively better and by the time a surprise twist was introduced, I was already interested in what was going to happen next. I enjoyed that twist immensely because it's another trope I love. I thought it was a satisfying way to handle the dilemma and make the interaction between Giric and Sarra more interesting.

I'm not quite sure about the ending, though. I got shades of Mulan 2 and Beauty and the Beast here and there, If you've seen those movies, you'll understand which scenes I'm referring to. I think I would have enjoyed those particular scenes more if I hadn't seen the movies. As it was, I couldn't help but think of the animated characters.

As for Sarrra and Giric, I liked their chemistry, and they're a good match. I quite liked Giric's backstory and his persona. However, I wasn't really a fan of Sarra. She tried to be helpful when she could, but deep down, her character felt like a damsel-in-distress. Sure, she was stubborn, but that doesn't make her less of a damsel-in-distress. I kinda wish she would have been more of a fighter.

THE GOOD:

  1. There's a ton of chemistry here.
  2. You do get invested in the characters after awhile.
  3. There are interesting plot twists, although some may not be hard to predict. 

THE BAD:

  1. The beginning isn't as strong as the second half of the book. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You like the bodyguard trope.
  2. You like lots of drama in your romance novels.
  3. You like romance novels set in Scotland or with Scottish heroes. 

RATING:
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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

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


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Sport? Entertainment? Art form? Perhaps a bit of all three, with a certain intangible extra something thrown in for good measure, making professional wrestling a truly unique entity unto itself. From its origins in carnivals and sideshow attractions of the 19th century, right up to the multimillion-dollar, multimedia industry of the present day, and all the bizarre, wild, and woolly points in between, Pro Wrestling FAQ delves into the entire history and broad scope of one of popular culture's most enduring yet ever-changing spectacles.
With chapters devoted to the many fascinating eras in the history of the business, as well as capsule biographies of some its most memorable and important figures, this book will serve as the ultimate one-volume reference guide for both long-time wrestling nuts and initiates to the grappling phenomenon.
Revisit the legendary 1911 “Match of the Century” pitting World Champion Frank Gotch against archrival George Hackenschmidt, “the Russian Lion”; experience wrestling's TV golden age in the 1950s, a time of such colorful personages as Gorgeous George and Antonino Rocca; relive the glory days of Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant, when WWF impresario Vince McMahon took the business mainstream; and get the lowdown on recent favorites, such as John Cena, CM Punk, and others who have taken the business boldly into the 21st century.

MY TAKE:
Whether you're a casual fan like me or a more hardcore fan of professional wrestling, you should definitely read this book.

In Pro Wrestling FAQ: All That's Left to Know About the World's Most Entertaining Spectacle, readers learn about the history of professional wrestling (inside and outside North America), read up on the most memorable matches and scandals, and get to know more about their favorite wrestling personalities, both past and present.

I was amazed at how thorough this book was. There was information and pictures from matches that happened in the early 1900s, for example, plus pictures as well. The book also covered Japanese, Canadian and Mexican professional wrestling, which I was pleasantly surprised to see in a book that I thought would focus mostly on the WWE.

As you would expect from a book about professional wrestling, WWE and the McMahons figure prominently. To its credit, though, the book gives as much space as it can to ECW, WCW and other wrestling organizations throughout the years. Since most of my wrestling knowledge is gleaned from recent years, the wrestlers I recognized in the book were from the '90s to the present, with a few '70s and '80s wrestlers and personalities I recognized from my previous job captioning old wrestling shows. The book helped clear up to me the relationship of WCW, ECW and WWE.

While there are a lot of interesting information in this book, my absolute favorites were the lists (scandals, gimmicks, tag teams, matches, etc.) and the wrestler profiles. I was happy to see two of the current wrestlers I liked discussed in the book: Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton. Daniel Bryan, as you would expect from a fan favorite, was mentioned a lot in the book. Well, as much as could be for a relatively recent WWE wrestler. Roman Reigns was featured too, although this book appears to have been finished prior to the controversial Royal Rumble match that Reigns won. I wonder if it'll be edited again before publication. Given how fast things are progressing in angles these days, editing and updating would be an endless process. On the bright side, there could be a volume 2 or second edition to this book. Definitely worth the purchase.

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

THE GOOD:

  1. It's very comprehensive.
  2. It will appeal to new wrestling fans, casual fans, and hardcore fans.
  3. It's written in a way that doesn't feel boring at all.  

THE BAD:

  1. If you're only interested in the newer WWE or TNA information, you'll end up skipping through several chapters of the book. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You're a professional wrestling fan.
  2. You want to reminisce about your favorite '70s, '80s, '90s and early 2000s wrestlers.
  3. You want to learn more about professional wrestling.

RATING:
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Tuesday, June 23, 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!

“In the war room, love? What if someone comes in?”
I stood and removed his shirt. “Then they’ll have a good story to tell.”
“Good?” He adopted the pretense of being offended.
“Prove me wrong.”     

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Review: Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices #3) by Cassandra Clare


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
Tessa Gray should be happy—aren't all brides happy? Yet as she prepares for her wedding, a net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. A new demon appears, one linked by blood and secrecy to Mortmain, the man who plans to use his army of pitiless automatons, the Infernal Devices, to destroy the Shadowhunters. Mortmain needs only one last item to complete his plan. He needs Tessa. And Jem and Will, the boys who lay equal claim to Tessa's heart, will do anything to save her. 
MY TAKE:
Overall, I liked The Infernal Devices series better than The Mortal Instruments series, thanks in part to this book.

In Clockwork Princess, Tessa has been taken by Mortmain, and what's left of the group of Shadowhunters in the London Institute must do what they can to save not only Tessa but also defeat Mortmain's army.

The above summary covers only the main plot point, because there are a lot of things going on in this book. First, there's the business of who Tessa really is and what the clockwork angel is for. Second, there's Jem's fate. Then, of course, there's all the romantic relationships between the many characters in the series.

The mystery of what Tessa really was is a good one. I wasn't able to guess it exactly, but the explanation seemed logical enough so it doesn't feel like it's just a way to keep readers guessing. The whole fight scene at the end was unexpected, in a way, as well, but again does make sense given the time period and Shadowhunter politics.

The romantic relationships weren't super interesting to me, other than giving me a way to guess who were the ancestors of the characters in TMI. If you're a fan of their descendants in TMI, then you'll probably find their interactions fascinating. I did too, at first, but after awhile, the number of relationships started to feel like a chore to read.

As for the Tessa-Will-Jem triangle, I already had an idea about what would happen since I read the TMI series first. Honestly, I found Will and Tessa's relationship to be too emo and dramatic. I found myself rolling my eyes and skipping passages. I was more interested in Tessa and Jem. Jem and Tessa had their dramatic moments too, but it never felt overboard to me.

The resolution to their triangle felt like a safe answer to me. Everyone is happy eventually. I'd rather that Tessa chose just one, but I guess this is okay too, since they all got what they wanted.

THE GOOD:

  1. Team Jem and Team Will both win.
  2. A lot of questions from previous books are answered satisfactorily.
  3. It's fun to read about the ancestors of the characters from TMI. 

THE BAD:

  1. I thought Will and Tessa's angst was just too much. 

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
“Men may be stronger, but it is women who endure.”  
READ IT IF:

  1. You liked TMI.
  2. You like the Shadowhunter world.
  3. You like love triangles. 

RATING:
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Sunday, June 21, 2015

In My Mailbox


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

FROM NETGALLEY:



The Entirely True Story of the Unbelievable FIB by Adam Shaughnessy

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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Review: Civil War Adventure by Chuck Dixon, Gary Kwapisz


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
"There's plenty of battlefield chaos, to be sure, but the tales are clearly a product of meticulous research and loaded with insights into the monotony and terror of fighting in a war." ― Booklist
Take aim alongside a thin line of Union sharpshooters at Gettysburg. Ride with John Mosby, the South's greatest raider, on a daring foray inside Union lines. Dodge grapeshot and cannonballs on a journey down the Mississippi aboard the Union Ram Fleet. These ten gripping tales from both sides of the conflict recapture the excitement, history, and tragedy of the American Civil War. In addition to fictional stories set within historical events, this illustrated anthology includes excerpts from biographies and eyewitness accounts, a timeline, and several maps. Fact pages following each story provide fascinating details.
Formerly available only in an extremely limited edition, Civil War Adventure combines the talents of Eisner-nominated author Chuck Dixon, the writer of such popular series as Batman and Green Arrow, and artist Gary Kwapisz, best known for his illustrations for Marvel Comics' The Savage Sword of Conan.

MY TAKE:
I only know the very basics about the Civil War so I thought this would be a great way for me to better understand the conflict.

In Civil War Adventure, readers are transported to the middle of several important skirmishes and battles that occurred during the Civil War via comic strips, maps, letters, etc.

The first thing that I noticed when I started reading was that the book was in black and white. I assumed that it would be in full color, so that came as a surprise. Anyway, I guess in the end it was a better match for the illustration style, which is a little grittier than I like. The first comic strip that popped into my head when I tried to come up with a comparison was The Phantom by Lee Falk.

As for the stories, while the events are real, not all of the stories shown here are true. Some are merely representative of events (for example, a character's father being punished for desertion) that actually happened to many people during the Civil War. Most of the stories are sad, as what you would expect from a book about war, but there are also some funny bits here and there.

The timeline at the start of the book was a big help to me since it helped me how the war unfolded. I noticed that most of the story seemed to be set in the South or appear to be pro-Confederates. It's only the later comics that showed the Union soldiers as heroes, of sorts. I'm guessing this is because the book focuses on the first 2/3rds or so of the Civil War.

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

THE GOOD:

  1. It's a good book for people who would like to learn more about the Civil War but don't want to read history textbooks.
  2. It shows the harshness of war for the soldiers.
  3. It doesn't sugarcoat the costs of war. 

THE BAD:

  1. I would have preferred it if the illustrations had been in color. 

READ IT IF:

  1. Your child is learning about the Civil War but he/she doesn't like reading school textbooks.
  2. You like war movies.
  3. You want to learn more about the Civil War. 

RATING:
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Friday, June 19, 2015

Review: My Stinky New School by Rebecca Elliott


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Toby's sister and baby brother love their schools - they smell of paint and rainbows. Toby doesn't think he likes his new school at all - it smells of ogres and he's lonely. He looks and looks for friends but he can't find any anywhere. He finds an alien, a mermaid, a dinosaur expert and a pirate, but no friends! When his mum comes to pick him up he tells her the sad news - but if he didn't make any friends then who is in the playground waving at him..? Rebecca Elliott's charming Toby books help children deal with new and unfamiliar circumstances. In Mr Super Poopy Pants, Toby got used to the idea of having a new baby brother; in Missing Jack he had to come to terms with the death of his pet cat. Now Rebecca is showing that going to school isn't quite as scary as you might think, using her unique sense of humour and style to create a warm and comforting picture book, which is quirky and funny at the same time.
MY TAKE:
This is the perfect book for little kids who are anxious about starting school.

In My Stinky New School, Toby's new school is nothing like his siblings' schools. Then, he meets new people at his new school and goes on adventures with them and he realizes that he might like his new school after all.

I really liked the story's lesson and the way it was approached. Lots of kids have anxiety about starting new schools, especially when they think that they won't make any new friends. Toby views his school as a gross, scary place, but soon he meets an "alien" who helps him out. He then meets a few new people and they go on imaginary adventures. The fantasies are treated as reality, the way a child imagines the stories he comes up with while he is playing as real. I liked that while Toby didn't think to consider his playmates as friends until his mother pointed them out and they greeted him back. This helps kids realize that friends can be found anywhere.

I found the illustrations lovely. I tried figuring out the medium used, and it looks like it was done with paint, although I saw some textures that made me think this was done on special paper or it's mixed media. Anyway, the illustrations overall, are perfect for the story, and the colorful drawings should appeal to kids of all ages.

Thanks to NetGalley and Lion Children's Books for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. The illustrations are cute and whimsical.
  2. The story can help kids who are anxious about starting school.
  3. Kids can relate to this story easily.

THE BAD:

  1. I prefer a different font for the text. 

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
It smells of sunshine, playdough, and bananas, and he loves it. 
READ IT IF:

  1. Your child is starting a new school.
  2. Your child is feeling anxious about school.
  3. Your child is afraid he won't make any friends. 

RATING:
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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Review: Origami Anywhere: Why Throw It Out When You Can Fold It Up? by Nick Robinson


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
"One man's trash is another man's treasure" was never truer! With this remarkable book, you can recycle throwaways into origami art. Twenty-nine well-illustrated projects explain how to make an autumn leaf from a lotto ticket, a 3-D heart from aluminum foil, a flower from a tea bag wrapper, and other unusual keepsakes and charming gifts.
Each item includes a brief introduction with suggestions for the paper's color and texture, and every step of the numbered instructions features simple text accompanied by a clear diagram. You'll discover how to transform brown wrapping paper into a fox, a supermarket receipt into a dachshund, and other ordinary bits of paper into an arrowhead, jumping frog, pill box, rocking cradle, koala, and other treasures.

MY TAKE:
I've always been interested in origami, so I love reading origami books, especially those that have something new about them.

In Origami Anywhere: Why Throw It Out When You Can Fold It Up?, readers are encouraged to use papers that are available around the house or their office space to produce the origami art in the book.

One of the things that sometimes discourages me from doing origami is having to use new or specialized paper, which I either have to cut from the paper I currently have or I have to buy origami paper packs. That's why I was thrilled that this book uses recycled paper. I don't have to spend any money on materials and the paper can have another use aside from being a receipt, etc.

At the start of each project, it's noted what kind of paper is best for that particular origami art. For example, some use business cards, others receipts, and a couple more use newspapers.

The projects range from beginner to advanced levels of difficulty, so there's something for everyone. The types of projects also vary from cute things or those that you don't see in a lot of origami books, like roast chicken, to practical things, like slippers and boxes. There was one particular decoration I saw that was too complicated for me to feel up to doing, but looked absolutely beautiful (saltsraumen octahedron).

Overall, I think this is an awesome book, and it's perfect for people who love origami and recycle at the same time.

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

THE GOOD:

  1. You make use of recycled paper.
  2. You get to use a mix of rectangular paper and square paper.
  3. It includes both decorations and practical projects.

THE BAD:

  1. I would have loved more designs that use rectangular paper so I don't have to cut or modify paper to make it square-shaped. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You like origami but you don't like having to buy origami paper packs.
  2. You like recycling.
  3. You like arts and crafts. 

RATING:
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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Review: Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Ages 12 and up
If you could read my mind, you wouldn't be smiling.
Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can't turn off.
Second-guessing every move, thought, and word makes daily life a struggle, and it doesn't help that her lifelong friends will turn toxic at the first sign of a wrong outfit, wrong lunch, or wrong crush. Yet Sam knows she'd be truly crazy to leave the protection of the most popular girls in school. So when Sam meets Caroline, she has to keep her new friend with a refreshing sense of humor and no style a secret, right up there with Sam's weekly visits to her psychiatrist.
Caroline introduces Sam to the Poet's Corner, a hidden room and a tight-knit group of misfits who have been ignored by the school at large. Sam is drawn to them immediately, especially a guitar-playing guy with a talent for verse, and starts to discover a whole new side of herself. Slowly, she begins to feel more "normal" than she ever has as part of the popular crowd . . . until she finds a new reason to question her sanity and all she holds dear.
Praise for Time Between Us
"A beautifully written, unique love story."
-Melissa Marr, New York Times best-selling author of The Wicked Lovely series
"A compelling story of love, fate, and consequences with plenty of sigh-worthy moments, this novel is the perfect choice for readers who want a romance that leaves them with something to think about when it's over."
-Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"A warm, time-bending romance [that] will have readers rooting for the couple that keeps daring fate."
-Publishers Weekly
"The story will hold readers with its twists and turns, present and future; its love, sadness, and anger; and especially, its surprising secrets."
-Booklist
"Romantic and passionate, Stone's debut novel is swoon-worthy...will resonate with readers who enjoy their romance mixed with adventure."
-School Library Journal
"Time Between Us is the very best kind of love story --heart-pounding, intense, and unputdownable!"
-Elizabeth Scott, author of Bloom and Perfect You

MY TAKE:
There were two things that intrigued me about this book: Sam's OCD and Poet's Corner.

In Every Last Word, Sam is a teenager who is dealing not only with her OCD, but with her toxic group of friends who are fun to be with, but can be cruel to each other. One day, she meets Caroline, who promises her a life-changing experience, and she ends up at Poet's Corner. Her life really does change, but how long can she keep up her double life.

I wasn't disappointed with the things I looked forward to reading about the most in this book. The descriptions of Sam's struggle with OCD was quite realistic,. Not every person with OCD has the same or similar compulsion or obsession, of course, so for those who only know of OCD from what they see in pop culture may feel that this wasn't authentic enough.

I liked Poet's corner and the idea of a group of kids writing poetry and sharing their poems with like-minded people. It would have been fun to have something like this in my school when I was in high school or college.

The poems were mostly just meh or okay for me. I did like Sydney's food poems, though, as well as Chelsea's poem "Over You".

As a coming-of-age and OCD-recovery story, I liked this one. I didn't adore it, though, and I think it was because I figured out the major plot twist early, and it made the rest of the book take on a weird light for me. Others would probably like the plot twist, but I don't know how I feel about it, because while I thought it was clever, it was strange for me at the same time.

Overall, I think it's a book that I would have loved when I was in high school and college, during the peak of my poetry-writing phase. Now that I'm past that phase, though, it was just a little above okay for me.

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

THE GOOD:

  1. It's a realistic portrayal of OCD.
  2. The Poet's Corner is an interesting idea worth copying.
  3. Caroline's story is touching.

THE BAD:

  1. The major plot twist may not work for everyone. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You are being bullied.
  2. You have OCD or anxiety attacks.
  3. You love writing poetry. 

RATING:
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Tuesday, June 16, 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!

“When I carved this, my thoughts were on you, love. Your life is like this snake's coils. No matter how many turns it makes, you'll end up back where you belong. With me.”     

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Review: The Mixed-Up Summer of Lily McLean by Lindsay Littleson


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Lily's already got plenty going on living with a moody teenage sister, two feral brothers and a messy baby sister. Mum and Gran are stressed to the max, both dads are out of the picture, and the cats aren't exactly pulling their weight. But when she starts getting mixed-up warnings not to go on holiday to the tiny, "safe" Scottish island of Millport, her summer just gets weirder and weirder.
The thing is, whoever is talking to Lily doesn't even seem to know she's doing it. If she's a ghost, she's not a very good one. And there's something about her that Lily finds awfully, spine-tingly familiar...
Spend a summer with Lily McLean in this beautifully written, laugh-out-loud adventure by Kelpies Prize winner Lindsay Littleson.
(Ages 8-12)

MY TAKE:
I'm not quite sure how I feel about this book.

In The Mixed-Up Summer of Lily McLean. Lily is a young girl who is dealing with helping take care of her younger siblings while her mother tries to juggle work and taking care of the kids. Her Gran invites her to Millport for the holidays, and Lily is excited. However, she receives a mysterious warning which gets her thinking that maybe this trip wasn't a good idea.

The book started off quite strong. I loved the descriptions of Lily's siblings, her family life and her school life. Lily is a funny girl, and some of her comments made me laugh. The mystery of the disembodied voice was pretty interesting too.

Things started to go south for me once Lily meets a new friend at Millport. I found Agnes weird and a compulsive liar, so at one point, I was wondering if this was going to go the Single, White Female route. Thankfully, it didn't, but despite the positive ending, I didn't really warm up to Agnes.

The whole mystery of the disembodied voice and who it belongs too was interesting as well, especially when it was revealed who it actually was. However, I wasn't satisfied with the explanation for how it was possible. It seemed a bit of a stretch, even for me.

Thanks to NetGalley and Myrick Marketing & Media, LLC for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. Lily can be quite funny.
  2. Lily's home life feels very realistic.
  3. Kids will be able to relate to Lily.

THE BAD:

  1. The explanation for how the mystery didn't feel satisfactory to me. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You like stories set in Scotland.
  2. You like coming-of-age stories.
  3. You like family-centric tales. 

RATING:
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Sunday, June 14, 2015

In My Mailbox


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

FROM NETGALLEY:


Teddy Bear Doctor: A Let's Make & Play Book: Be a Vet & Fix the Boo-Boos of Your Favorite Stuffed Animals by Deanna F. Cook

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Saturday, June 13, 2015

Review: Manhattan Mayhem: New Crime Stories from Mystery Writers of America edited by Mary Higgins Clark


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Best-selling suspense novelist Mary Higgins Clark invites you on a tour of Manhattan's most iconic neighborhoods in this anthology of all-new stories from the Mystery Writers of America. From the Flatiron District (Lee Child) and Greenwich Village (Jeffery Deaver) to Little Italy (T. Jefferson Parker) and Chinatown (S.J. Rozan), you'll encounter crimes, mysteries, and riddles large and small. Illustrated with iconic photography of New York City and packaged in a handsome hardcover,Manhattan Mayhem is a delightful read for armchair detectives and armchair travelers alike!
MY TAKE:
This book combined two things I love (New York and mysteries) in the best way possible.

Manhattan Mayhem: New Crime Stories from Mystery Writers of America contains several mysteries set in various eras and areas of New York.

I had high hopes for this book and it did not disappoint. First of all, I loved the photographs and mini-maps that accompanied each story. If you're a non-New York native or you're only familiar with the names and not so much with which streets that area corresponds to exactly, you'll find the maps invaluable. As for the black-and-white photographs, they were a great way to set the mood.

All of the short stories were fun to read, to the point that for most of them, I was enjoying myself too much to actively try and figure out the solution to the mystery.

There were lots of stories here, but there were a few that I found memorable. The first story, written by Mary Higgins Clark, was one of those. I wasn't sure at first what direction The Five Dollar Dress, set in Union Square, was going at first, especially in relation to the teaser mentioned in the introduction. When the answer was revealed, I was surprised and creeped out, but in a good way.

Three Little Words, set in the Upper West Side, had twists, turns and red herrings that left me almost breathless. Serial Benefactor, set a little bit in the Empire State Building, had a cool plot that reminded me of in CSI and Elementary when they try to trick the truth out. Copycats, set in Alphabet City, has definite movie potential, though it would probably rated-R.

My absolute favorite, though, would have to be Chin Yong-Yun Makes A Shiddach, which is set in Chinatown, It's not everyday you see a mystery where the one who solves it all is a grandmother. She's a bit of a meddling mother-type but still mostly endearing. If this was made into a mini-series or a series, I think a lot of people would watch this.

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

THE GOOD:

  1. The mysteries are brilliant.
  2. It features various areas of New York.
  3. The photographs are beautiful.

THE BAD:

  1. There are still plenty of iconic places that weren't covered.  

READ IT IF:

  1. You like anthologies.
  2. You like mysteries.
  3. You love New York. 

RATING:
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