Monday, August 31, 2015

Review: Loula and Mister the Monster by Anne Villeneuve


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Everywhere Loula goes, her beloved dog, Mister, follows. Unfortunately, Mister does not follow her good manners. When she hears her mother say she can no longer live with that MONSTER, Loula decides it's time to teach an old dog polite tricks. Can Mister learn to behave? Or will Mama throw him and his monstrous manners out?
MY TAKE:
The moment I saw this cover art, I knew I had to read it.

In Loula and Mister the Monster, Loula believes her mother doesn't want their dog to live with them anymore so she decides to train him to become a better-behaved dog.

I remember reading and loving Loula is Leaving for Africa. I enjoyed this book just as much. Loula is a sweet child, and even if you don't have a dog, you'll want to root for her and Mister immediately. Mister is not a very neat or disciplined dog, but he does try. Gilbert, who I also really like, also plays a role in the story. I was thrilled, of course, because I loved him in the other book. Here, he tries to help out Loula, but it seems it may be a little too much for him too.

The illustrations are just as sweet as the tale. The use of ink and watercolor is perfect for the story as it lends it an air of sophistication, a little like Madeleine meets Eloise at the Plaza. It's such a beautiful book, perfect for a quiet evening with your child.

Thanks to NetGalley and Kids Can Press for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. The illustrations are lovely.
  2. It's a sweet story.
  3. The characters are lovable. 

THE BAD:

  1. I enjoyed it so much that it feels a little bit too short. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You like beautifully illustrated books.
  2. Your child likes dogs.
  3. Your child's pet misbehaves a little bit.

RATING:
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Sunday, August 30, 2015

In My Mailbox


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

FROM NETGALLEY:


The One Thing by Marci Lyn Curtis

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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Review: The Ghost and Max Monroe, Case #3 The Dirty Trick by L.M. Falcone


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Max is thrilled when his favorite writer, Rhonda Remington, calls up the detective agency. But Rhonda is less than thrilled: someone has warned her to beware on the night of a big storytelling competition. Max is on the case, but his unusual partner -- the ghost of his great-uncle Larry -- is his usual bumbling self. Will they solve the mystery or lose the plot? It's the spookiest case yet in the Ghost and Max Monroe series!
MY TAKE:
I remember reading and liking Case #1 of this series, and this one was enjoyable for me too.

In The Ghost and Max Monroe, Case #3 The Dirty Trick, Max and his great-uncle are approached by a famous mystery writer after she receives a warning. Now Max and Uncle Larry must race against time to find out who exactly is trying to pull a nasty trick on Miss Remington.

The pacing of this book is quite quick and as with the first book, the suspects are all identified by Max upfront but all of them seem like plausible suspects so it's a little hard to say for sure who actually did it, especially since there are plenty of elements at play here.

One thing I did notice was that the ending was quite happy and positive, which is good since this is a middle grade book, but I did wonder if it's something that actually could play out that way in real life since it sounds like a serious stunt to pull.

As for the characters, I liked Max a lot. He's a sweet kid. I also liked his client Rhonda Remington. She seems like a nice lady, and it's easy to empathize with her dilemma. I particularly felt bad for her and angry at the trickster when the prank played out. The only character that I didn't really like that much was Uncle Larry. He's a bumbling detective-type, which is great for laughs, but there were times when it irritated and frustrated me.

Thanks to NetGalley and Kids Can Press for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. It's a fun mystery to try and solve.
  2. The characters are mostly likable.
  3. The illustrations make the story come alive even more.

THE BAD:

  1. The punishment for the trickster is a little tamer than what I expected. 

READ IT IF:

  1. Your child likes mysteries.
  2. You like stories with bumbling detectives.
  3. Your child wants to be a detective someday. 

RATING:
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Friday, August 28, 2015

Review: The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they're rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.
Lucy and Owen's relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and -- finally -- a reunion in the city where they first met.
A carefully charted map of a long-distance relationship, Jennifer E. Smith's new novel shows that the center of the world isn't necessarily a place. It can be a person, too.

MY TAKE:
While there were a number of elements I liked about this book, as a whole, this book didn't grab me the way I thought it would.

In The Geography of You and Me, Lucy and Owen meet when they are trapped in an elevator during a blackout. They spend ther est of the blackout together, but circumstances soon force them apart. Still, there's something there that they can't quite let go of. Is there any hope for them at all.

I enjoy reading books set in Manhattan, as well as books that are a bit like travel books. That is, the character/s explore the city and you get to more or less see for yourself what's there to love about the place. It's during these exploration scenes that the book shines for me. The characters travel to lots of places in the US and in Europe and in most of these places, you get a sense for what's special about them and there's something about the way they're described that inspires me to travel to these places.

The characters, I think, are where my disconnect with the book lies. Lucy and Owen look like okay people, but I felt like there's still some distance between me and them. I did like their romance, though, even if there were times when it felt frustrating to read. It was a bittersweet romance that holds promise for the future, but it's the kind of romance that can go either way in the real world. Hopefully, in their fictional world, they do live happily ever after.

THE GOOD:

  1. It's a fun look at living in New York.
  2. It can inspire you to travel.
  3. It can get you to take a look at how you communicate with the people you love and the people you used to be very good friends with. 

THE BAD:

  1. It can be a little sad to watch the characters struggle to find their place in the world.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
He was like one of her novels, still unfinished and best understood in the right place and at the right time. 
READ IT IF:

  1. You like traveling.
  2. You like books set in New York.
  3. You like reading about characters that have an unconventional courtship. 

RATING:
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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Review: The King's Deception (Cotton Malone #8) by Steve Berry


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
Cotton Malone is back! Steve Berry’s new international adventure blends gripping contemporary political intrigue, Tudor treachery, and high-octane thrills into one riveting novel of suspense.

Cotton Malone and his fifteen-year-old son, Gary, are headed to Europe. As a favor to his former boss at the Justice Department, Malone agrees to escort a teenage fugitive back to England. But after he is greeted at gunpoint in London, both the fugitive and Gary disappear, and Malone learns that he’s stumbled into a high-stakes diplomatic showdown—an international incident fueled by geopolitical gamesmanship and shocking Tudor secrets.

At its heart is the Libyan terrorist convicted of bombing Pan Am Flight 103, who is set to be released by Scottish authorities for “humanitarian reasons.” An outraged American government objects, but nothing can persuade the British to intervene.

Except, perhaps, Operation King’s Deception.

Run by the CIA, the operation aims to solve a centuries-old mystery, one that could rock Great Britain to its royal foundations.

Blake Antrim, the CIA operative in charge of King’s Deception, is hunting for the spark that could rekindle a most dangerous fire, the one thing that every Irish national has sought for generations: a legal reason why the English must leave Northern Ireland. The answer is a long-buried secret that calls into question the legitimacy of the entire forty-five-year reign of Elizabeth I, the last Tudor monarch, who completed the conquest of Ireland and seized much of its land. But Antrim also has a more personal agenda, a twisted game of revenge in which Gary is a pawn. With assassins, traitors, spies, and dangerous disciples of a secret society closing in, Malone is caught in a lethal bind. To save Gary he must play one treacherous player against another—and only by uncovering the incredible truth can he hope to prevent the shattering consequences of the King’s Deception.

MY TAKE:
While I didn't find this book as compelling as other Steve Berry and similar books I've read, it still had its interesting moments.

In The King's Deception, Cotton and his son Gary have to escort an escaped teen to London as a favor to Cotton's former boss. However, Cotton and Gary almost immediately find themselves in the middle of a plot that involves several countries and ancient history.

For maybe the first half of the book, I wasn't super impressed with the story. I couldn't see exactly what game the characters were playing, though I saw glimpses of what the ultimate goal and twist would be.

Like with most books from this genre, there are plot twists and history plot twists. The plot twists involving the main characters in the book didn't surprise me all that much. I wouldn't say that I called it immediately, but when the twist was revealed, I didn't exactly gasp either. I found the history plot twist very interesting, though. I've never actually heard that particular legend, but I think it's remotely plausible and possible. It would be so cool if it were true, but I'm glad that the resolution of this book was the way it was.

THE GOOD:

  1. It's like going on a tour of London.
  2. The book has a happy ending.
  3. The historical legend at the heart of the story is very interesting. 

THE BAD:

  1. Some plot twists are predictable. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You like Steve Berry's other books.
  2. You like both Jason Bourne and Robert Langdon.
  3. You are fascinated by British history. 

RATING:
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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Review: The Making of a Navy SEAL by Brandon Webb, John David Mann


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
BEFORE HE COULD FORGE A BAND OF ELITE WARRIORS… HE HAD TO BECOME ONE HIMSELF.

Brandon Webb's experiences in the world's most elite sniper corps are the stuff of legend. From his grueling years of training in Naval Special Operations to his combat tours in the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan, The Making of a Navy SEAL provides a rare and riveting look at the inner workings of the U.S. military through the eyes of a covert operations specialist.

Yet it is Webb's distinguished second career as a lead instructor for the shadowy "sniper cell" and Course Manager of the Navy SEAL Sniper Program that trained some of America's finest and deadliest warriors--including Marcus Luttrell and Chris Kyle--that makes his story so compelling. Luttrell credits Webb's training with his own survival during the ill-fated 2005 Operation Redwing in Afghanistan. Kyle went on to become the U.S. military's top marksman, with more than 150 confirmed kills.

From a candid chronicle of his student days, going through the sniper course himself, to his hair-raising close calls with Taliban and al Qaeda forces in the northern Afghanistan wilderness, to his vivid account of designing new sniper standards and training some of the most accomplished snipers of the twenty-first century, Webb provides a rare look at the making of the Special Operations warriors who are at the forefront of today's military.

Explosive, revealing, and intelligent, The Making of a Navy SEAL provides a uniquely personal glimpse into one of the most challenging and secretive military training courses in the world.

MY TAKE:
I love watching action movies, particularly those sometimes referred to as "war movies" so this sounded interesting to me.

In The Making of a Navy SEAL, the atuhor recounts his life and how he became a Navy SEAL, and eventually part of the group that trained snipers like Chris Kyle.

I quite enjoyed reading this book. Sometimes, memoirs and biographies can get boring even if the subject is interesting. Here, even during the parts that might be considered boring weren't boring to me at all.

Some people think being special ops is cool, and it is, but based on what I read from this book, it's ridiculously hard to be part of elite groups like the SEALs. It's not for a lack of trying, either. There are many factors at work here, and in this regard, I found the book to be enlightening. I'm sure a lot of people who dream of becoming SEALs can pick up a thing or two from this book.

While the book shares a lot of things about SEAL training and life, it is an autobiography, so it's really mostly about Brandon Webb's life. I thought his life story was pretty amazing, and his exploits were admirable. Also, the things he shared about reworking the sniper training course was rather interesting too.

A word of caution, though. I was left quite in awe with this book, so I wanted to learn more about the author. Naturally, I searched on Google. I now kinda wish I hadn't as it now makes me question some of the things I read here. For those who are more curious, just Google his name and then check the news articles.

It's still an entertaining read, though, and I learned a lot about the SEALs. If you want an inside look into SEAL and Navy life, you should give this book a try.

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Griffin for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. You learn more about the lives of SEALs.
  2. You learn more about the kind of training it takes to become a SEAL.
  3. You gain even more respect for the people who defend your country.

THE BAD:

  1. Some of the stories may not be entirely accurate, according to some outside sources.

READ IT IF:

  1. You or someone you know wants to become a SEAL.
  2. You love war movies.
  3. You love reading autobiographies.

RATING:
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Tuesday, August 25, 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!

Lilly says I have an overactive imagination and a pathological need to invent drama in my life.      

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Review: Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
When Kate Thompson's father is killed by the notorious Red Rose Gang for a mysterious journal that reveals the secret location of a gold mine, the eighteen-year-old disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers and justice. What she finds are devious strangers, dust storms, and a pair of brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, she gets closer to the truth about herself and must decide if there's room for love in a heart so full of hate. In the spirit of True Grit, the cutthroat days of the Wild West come to life for a new generation.
MY TAKE:
I'm not really a fan of Western movies and books, but I had a good feeling about this book so I decided to give it a try.

In Vengeance Road, Kate decides to go after a gang of riders who killed her father. Soon enough, she learns exactly why the Red Rose Gang went after her father, but it doesn't stop her quest. It also doesn't stop a pair of brothers coming with her to help her out. The road is fraught with danger, however, and her quest for vengeance may have unintended consequences for everyone.

I loved this book! I think what turns me off of Westerns is the gun fights and the gratuitous violence. Here, there are plenty of gun fights and violence, but it was mostly for character development or to serve the greater purpose of the plot.

The descriptions in the book were quite vivid, and they suck you right in. The author also included descriptions of odors, something that a lot of authors miss, and it certainly added to the feeling that you were right there with the characters.

The book is action-packed, which is always a big plus for me. There were quiet moments, of course, but no dull moments in the truest sense of the word.

The characters were just as interesting. The story is told from Kate's point-of-view, and I took to her right away. She was tough and a fighter. I can't stand heroines who keep crying and waiting for men to rescue her in some way. Kate allowed herself to cry but only for a little bit, then she picks herself up and gets down to business. She actually reminded me a little bit of Mulan. She's passionate and she does most of the saving. I loved the ending too.

I liked the secondary characters as well: Jesse, Will and Liluye. To be honest, when I read the blurb, I thought there was going to be a love triangle between Jesse, Will and Kate. I'm happy that it didn't turn out that way. Love triangles aren't as common in real life, and it would just have distracted from the story. I loved Kate's relationship with the boys. The boys also had some flaws that felt natural to the story and their characters, so it felt like they were quite real. As for Lil, she had a Pocahontas vibe about her, and I don't say that just because she's Apache. She's stubborn, firm in her beliefs and principes, and proud, but when called upon, she will do what's right.

Thanks to NetGalley and HMH Books for Young Readers for the e-ARC. Publication date of Vengeance Road is on September 1, 2015.

THE GOOD:

  1. The descriptions are vivid and make you feel like you're part of the story.
  2. It's action-packed.
  3. The characters feel three-dimensional. 

THE BAD:

  1. It can get pretty violent. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You like novels set in the Wild West.
  2. You like strong heroines.
  3. You like action-packed stories. 

RATING:
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Sunday, August 23, 2015

In My Mailbox


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

FROM NETGALLEY:


The Making of a Navy SEAL by Brandon Webb, John David Mann

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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Review: Medusa the Mean (Goddess Girls #8) by Joan Holub


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
Medusa is the ultimate mean girl in this series that blends modern drama with ancient myths.Well researched and true to the original myths, each volume in the Goddess Girls series addresses contemporary issues, like friendships and relationships, from a classically accurate—and entertaining—perspective.
In Medusa the Mean, Medusa is sick and tired of being the only mortal at Mount Olympus Academy. Not only is she surrounded by beautiful, powerful, immortal classmates, but she also has snakes for hair and a reputation for being mean. Immortality, she thinks, will solve everything. So when she finds out about a necklace that promises just that, she’s sure it will help her get the two things she covets most: to be as popular as the four Goddess Girls and to have her supercrush, Poseidon, finally notice her. But when the necklace brings about popularity in the totally wrong way, things go from bad to worse. Can Medusa overcome her “meanie” status and prove that there’s more to her that meets the eye?

MY TAKE:
Medusa was never on my list of favorite characters from Greek mythology, but after reading this book, I may have to reconsider.

In Medusa the Mean, Medusa longs to be popular and to gain the attention of Poseidon. She believes being immortal is the key, and she thinks she may be able to get it via a special necklace. As she puts her plans into motion to get what she wants, she has no idea that she may really get what she wants, just not exactly in the way that she had in mind.

While this book is meant for middle-grade readers, I actually quite enjoyed it. It was easy to empathize with Medusa, who was unpopular and shunned by a lot of her peers. She came across as very relateable, not just in terms of her struggles, which a lot of young girls will be able to relate to, but also with how she handled them.

Her supercrush on Poseidon made me think of Helga Pataki's crush on Arnold, but I'm happy that in the end, Medusa found someone who was more worthy of her attention and who liked her for who she was and what she looked like.

The book tackles important issues like self-acceptance and opening yourself up to others, but it did so in a manner that never felt heavy or too sad. The ending, in particular, was a nice twist.

I definitely look forward to reading the other books in this series, because if they're anything like this book, then I will certainly enjoy them.

THE GOOD:

  1. Lots of young kids will be able to relate to Medusa.
  2. It's a fun new take on Greek mythology.
  3. It's an entertaining read. 

THE BAD:

  1. Medusa's meanest moment was cringe-worthy. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You like reading books about Greek gods and goddesses.
  2. Your child feels left out at school.
  3. Your child could use a self-confidence boost. 

RATING:
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Friday, August 21, 2015

Review: Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
The formidable adventures of Mr. Fox and his family as they try to outrun three farmers determined to catch them.
MY TAKE:
I don't advocate stealing things like Mr. Fox does, but that aside, I thought this was a fun book.

In Fantastic Mr. Fox, Mr. Fox and his family are being hunted by three farmers who are sick of Mr. Fox stealing their animals.

For a children's book, I was surprised by how it had me on the edge of my seat during the first part of the book. The action then lulled for a bit, but it got my attention again pretty quickly.

I thought it was funny how Mr. Fox and his family were able to outsmart the farmers. I especially enjoyed the feast at the end, as well as their future plans. It made me think of rainy days spent indoors with family.

THE GOOD:

  1. The hero outsmarts the villains.
  2. Mr. Fox's family shares with the others.
  3. Most of the food descriptions will make your mouth water.  

THE BAD:

  1. It feels like it says that stealing is okay, in some circumstances, so you may want to discuss this would your children after he or she reads it. 

READ IT IF:

  1. Your child loves animals, especially foxes.
  2. You like books where the heroes outsmart the villains.
  3. You're looking for a book you can discuss with your children.  

RATING:
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Review: Legs: The tale of a meerkat lost and found by Sarah J. Dodd, Giusi Capizzi


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Miki is a baby meerkat who lives with his Mama in a zoo. He's happy at home with Mama and the kind keeper who cares for them, but soon he becomes curious about the wider world. The one day Miki ventures a bit too far out into the world, and he's not sure where he is anymore. Who do all these legs belong to? Soon the legs turn from animal legs to people legs - Miki really has gone too far! But just when Miki feels completely lost, there are the keepers familiar booted legs, and here's the keeper to bring him home; and from his vantage point in the keepers arms all the legs that seemed so intimidating on the way out are revealed to have friendly, happy faces with them!
MY TAKE:
If you're looking for a children's book that is cute and is about something that your child may be able to relate to, you should give this one a try.

In Legs: The tale of a meerkat lost and found, Miki has wandered from the zoo. Outside (and even inside the zoo), pretty much all he sees are legs. How is he ever going to find his mother again?

I thought this was a very sweet story. I rather like the twist and the ending of this story. I imagine it's something that toddlers will be able to relate to, even if the main character is an animal.

The drawings are lovely, but the coloring and rendering is not really my cup of tea. I'm also not a fan of the font choice. I feel like this book would have looked better with a sans serif font.

Overall, though, I thought it was a wonderful story, and definitely a good addition to the library of any family with a baby or a toddler.

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

THE GOOD:

  1. Toddlers and very young children will be able to relate.
  2. It's a fun book to read aloud.
  3. It has a cute plot twist. 

THE BAD:

  1. The illustration style might not appeal to some. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You have a toddler or baby at home.
  2. You like cute children's books.
  3. You are looking for a book that is fun to read aloud to children.

RATING:
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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Review: So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
Another contemporary thought-provoking romance from Susane Colasanti!
When Brooke discovers that the love of her life, Scott Abrams, is moving from their New Jersey suburb to New York City for senior year, she decides to follow hime there. Living with her estranged father and adjusting to a whole new school are challenging--and things get even worse when she finds out that Scott already has a girlfriend. But as she learns to navigate the big city, she starts to discover a whole new side of herself, and realizes that sometimes love can find you even when you're not looking for it. 

MY TAKE:
I wasn't too sure about the premise of the book since it sounded like it could be a television series or a movie, I was persuaded to give this a try because it takes place in New York.

In So Much Closer, Brooke has been in love with Scott for a long time. Just when she finally gets up the courage to tell him how she feels, she finds out that Scott is moving to New York. Convinced that she and Scott belong together, Brooke decides to leave New Jersey and live with her father in New York so she can be with Scott. However, things don't turn out the way she wants them to, not just with Scott, but with her entire life plan.

I was actually on the fence for awhile about whether I should rate this a three or a four. Brooke was too flighty and Scott-obsessed for my taste during the first part of the book. I wasn't irritated with her, though. She's kind of like that friend you have that makes you shake your head because of her life decisions, but you like her anyway. It was also a little unbearable to watch her waste away her intelligence just so she can fit in and not have people look at her funny or think mean things about her. It's such a waste to see kids being taught that they should let their light shine less just to fit in, when doing so doesn't actually help anyone.

I'm not sure exactly what part I started to like Brooke. Perhaps it was during one of her New York soliloquies. I really enjoyed her descriptions of places in New York. It was like I was actually there with here. I was especially happy to read about her seeing the open windows. Staring up at apartment buildings, trying to catch a glimpse of what life must be like for those who live there, is one of my favorite things to do when I find myself in a big city after dark.

When it came to the love story, I wasn't surprised with the endgame pairing, though I didn't exactly expect the way the author brought them together. It felt a lot more realistic to me than what most authors like to do with their characters and endgame pairings. It's for mostly this reason that I went with a four rating instead of a three.

THE GOOD:

  1. The ending is a little cheesy, but mostly realistic.
  2. The descriptions of New York are wonderful.
  3. It's a fun, light read. 


THE BAD:

  1. Brooke's obsession with Scott can be a bit hard to watch. 

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
It’s unbelievable how you can affect someone else so deeply and never know. 
READ IT IF:

  1. You like books set in New York.
  2. You haven't figured out what you want to be when you grow up.
  3. You like Sarah Dessen's novels. 

RATING:
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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Review: Powerpuff Girls: Super Smash-Up by Various


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
After their victory in the Super Secret Crisis War, the Powerpuff Girls take it easy with a rare VIP tour of Dexter’s Laboratory! But when tag-along Dee Dee accidentally activates Dexter’s newest invention, the fate of the entire multiverse is suddenly at stake! A dimensions-spanning epic into the worlds of Courage The Cowardly Dog, Cow and Chicken, Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends, and Dexter's Laboratory!
MY TAKE:
Cartoon Network was my favorite cartoon channel when I was growing up, so this comic was a must-read for me.

In Powerpuff Girls: Super Smash-Up, the Powerpuff Girls visit Dexter in his laboratory. However, Dee Dee ends up being doused in Chemical X and passes through Dexter's invention that transports her to one of the multiverses. Complications keep piling up and it seems like this is one situation that the Powerpuff Girls can't fix.

Reading this book felt like spending a couple of hours watching Cartoon Network. Aside from the Powerpuff Girls and Dexter's Laboratory, the comic also features Courage the Cowardly Dog, Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, Cow and Chicken, The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, plus a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo by Ed, Edd, and Eddy, and Samurai Jack.

This was certainly a trip down memory lane. The Grim Adventure of Billy and Mandy and Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends came after my time, though, so I was more interested in the other cartoons. Of the other crossover cartoon bits, the one I enjoyed the most was the Cow and Chicken one. I loved the show way back in the day, and it was nice to see the characters again in a story that wouldn't have been too out of place on the show.

As for the main story, I enjoyed it a lot. The Powerpuff Girls seem to have gained new powers since I last saw an episode, but otherwise, it felt just like old times. Same goes with Dexter's Laboratory, although I wish Mandark had made an appearance in this comic. The main conflict here is certainly what you'd expect to happen in Dexter's Laboratory, but I'm glad that the brawn here were the Powerpuff Girls. Dexter is at his best when he's in command, and it was nice to see the girls in the field, so to speak.

If you're feeling nostalgic for the '90s and early 2000s, read this!

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

THE GOOD:

  1. It's nice to see my favorite childhood cartoon characters again.
  2. It was a fun story.
  3. There's something for everyone. 

THE BAD:

  1. The amount of cameos and crossovers can be overwhelming. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You grew up watching Cartoon Network.
  2. You like crossovers.
  3. You are a fan of the Powerpuff Girls and/or Dexter's Laboratory. 

RATING:
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Tuesday, August 18, 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!

Oh where, oh where had Snow White gone?
She'd found it easy, being pretty
To hitch a ride into the city.       

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Monday, August 17, 2015

Review: Tempted by Her Innocent Kiss (Pregnancy & Passion #3) by Maya Banks


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
Devon Carter was her first; now newly wed Ashley wants their passion to last. But her dreams of true love are crushed by the discovery that their marriage is another of Daddy's business deals. Her strategy: act the part of perfect wife and make Devon love her.But Devon misses the bubbly, no-holds-barred woman his wife used to be. Who is this Ashley with the steely demeanor of a society wife? And will he find a way to rekindle the fire in her eyes...especially now that she's pregnant?
MY TAKE:
I was looking for a romance, and the premise sounded like what I was looking for.

In Tempted by Her Innocent Kiss, Devon Carter has to seduce and marry Ashley to secure a business deal with her father. When Ashley finds out, she is furious. Will they ever get their happily-ever-after?

Well, it certainly was as advertised. Devon is a man who has no illusions about love but certainly has a head for business and climbing his way to success. Ashley, on the other hand, is quite flighty and naive. As you can expect, Ashley loves him more at first, and she is devastated when she finds out that she's part of a business deal.

The timeline is a little compressed so days and weeks pass by sometimes. I would have loved to see more examples of Ashley trying to be more up to Devon's expectations before she reached her breaking point. I felt like there were only a couple of instances or so, plus some of their friends' comments, that everything felt rushed and some of the effect is lost when Devon finally realizes how he feels.

Pretty much everything here happened as predicted. Usually, I would be bothered by that, but since it was more or less what I was looking for, it was an okay way to pass the time.

THE GOOD:

  1. Ashley's friends are nice.
  2. The romance is hot.
  3. It unfolds pretty much as described in the premise. 

THE BAD:

  1. Ashley can be irritating at times. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You like stories of forced relationships that become real.
  2. You like alpha males.
  3. You like stories wherein the male realizes what a jerk he has been and makes grand gestures to win the heroine back. 

RATING:
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Sunday, August 16, 2015

In My Mailbox


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

FROM NETGALLEY:


Powerpuff Girls: Super Smash-Up by Various (IDW Publishing)

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Saturday, August 15, 2015

Review: A Cook's Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines by Anthony Bourdain


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
The only thing "gonzo gastronome" and internationally bestselling author Anthony Bourdain loves as much as cooking is traveling. Inspired by the question, "What would be the perfect meal?," Tony sets out on a quest for his culinary holy grail, and in the process turns the notion of "perfection" inside out. From California to Cambodia, A Cooks' Tour chronicles the unpredictable adventures of America's boldest and bravest chef.
MY TAKE:
I'm a fan of Anthony Bourdain's shows but because it's been years since I've read Kitchen Confidential, I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed his writing style.

In A Cook's Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines, Bourdain shares with readers moments and thoughts that he has had on his tours of different countries. Each chapter takes place in one country and usually centers around a specific story or theme.

Anthony Bourdain can be crude sometimes, but the man has a way with words, particularly when it comes to describing food. That's not to say that he didn't do a good job telling stories of his travels. His descriptions are quite vivid, and it wasn't difficult to imagine being there with him on his adventures.

The style and tone is what you'd come to expect if you watch his shows. The wit, sarcasm, candor and cursing are all present.

From his stories, it's easy to get swept up and feel the desire to travel to the places he mentions. For example, while reading of his adventures in Vietnam, I felt a strong urge to eat some pho and try other Vietnamese cuisine. His foodie adventures in other countries were also interesting, although I didn't feel the same pull to eat the food. It's probably due to Bourdain's obvious love and enthusiasm for Vietnam and its cuisine, but I vividly remember loving pho the first time I tried it, so it's probably the cuisine itself as well. The only place that I felt that he was unenthusiastic about was Cambodia. The picture he painted of Cambodia was not very cheery. I think things have gotten better since then, though.

Aside from his adventures, he also talks about other chefs. The ones that stood out to me are Gordon Ramsay and Thomas Keller. I am a fan of both chefs, and it's pretty clear that Bourdain is too. In fact, he seems to have a little bit of a man crush on both of them. I found that adorable. Also, I now I have a very strong desire to eat at The French Laundry.

THE GOOD:

  1. There are plenty of interesting stories here.
  2. The descriptions of the places are a mix of positive and negative.
  3. The descriptions of the food are mouthwatering.

THE BAD:

  1. There's a part of me that wishes that the stories about Vietnam were grouped together. 

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
“The journey is part of the experience - an expression of the seriousness of one's intent. One doesn't take the A train to Mecca.” 
READ IT IF:

  1. You liked Kitchen Confidential.
  2. You like travel books that share both the positive and negative aspects of a place.
  3. You are a fan of Anthony Bourdain's shows. 

RATING:
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