Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Review: The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Romeo and Juliet by Ian Lendler


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Shakespeare's greatest love story has never been so unlovely!
The Stratford Zoo looks like a normal zoo . . . until the gates shut at night. That's when the animals come out of their cages to stage elaborate performances of Shakespeare's greatest works. They might not be the most accomplished thespians, but they've got what counts: heart. Also fangs, feathers, scales, and tails.
Ian Lendler's hilarious tale of afterhours animal stagecraft is perfectly paired with the adorable,
accessible artwork of Zack Giallongo (Broxo, Ewoks) in this sidesplitting companion to their graphic novel The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth.
When Ian Lendler was younger, he really enjoyed acting in the theater. He was, however, extremely terrible at it. So he became a writer of children's books (An Undone Fairy Tale and Saturday) and nonfiction. He took a day job deworming animals at the StratfordonAvon Zoo.
Zack Giallongo is a professional cartoonist, cheese enthusiast, and amateur banjoist. His first solo graphic novel, Broxo, is about teenage barbarians and was published in 2012. It hit #4 on the New York Times Bestsellers list.

MY TAKE:
This might be the most memorable and fun adaptations of Romeo and Juliet I've ever read.

In The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Romeo and Juliet, animals at a zoo perform their version of Romeo and Juliet for an audience composed of other animals at the zoo.

I immediately assumed that this would be more or less like other adaptations of Romeo and Juliet, albeit performed by animals. It didn't occur to me, though, that since this is meant mostly for children, things are changed up a bit. Specifically, instead of being romantically involved, Romeo and Juliet want to be best friends. Also, instead of dates, the two of them go on a playdate. There are hints of the romance element, though, in the form of the occasional heart/love-dovey look. I really liked this idea. It's more relatable for the younger kids, and it feels like a fresh take on an old story.

I liked the idea of including audience reactions. The audience actually had funnier lines than the play. The vultures, in particular, made me laugh. However, I was a little creeped out by the eyes of some of the animal audience members.

Another thing I liked was the use of notes to cast members and crew at the end of the book to explain and include trivia about the original play. It was quite smart and there was no breaking of the fourth wall.

Overall, I felt it was a commendable adaptation. It's a great way to introduce younger kids to Romeo and Juliet, although they might be in for a surprise once they read the real thing.

Thanks to NetGalley and First Second for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. It's a great way to introduce younger kids to Romeo and Juliet.
  2. It's a very funny book.
  3. It's a new take on a classic. 

THE BAD:

  1. I found some of the audience members' eyes a little bit creepy. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You want to introduce your child to Romeo and Juliet.
  2. Your child likes comic books.
  3. You like adaptations. 

RATING:
Photobucket

SOUNDS INTERESTING?
Photobucket

Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Tuesday, September 29, 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 been thinking that when people break up there's usually a reason, and whatever it is, it's still going to be there even if we do get back together.”         

..Photobucket

Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Review: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?
Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. Having missed her flight, she's stuck at JFK airport and late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon-to-be stepmother Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's sitting in her row.
A long night on the plane passes in the blink of an eye, and Hadley and Oliver lose track of each other in the airport chaos upon arrival. Can fate intervene to bring them together once more?
Quirks of timing play out in this romantic and cinematic novel about family connections, second chances, and first loves. Set over a twenty-four-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it. 

MY TAKE
I was looking for a light YA romance read, and this certainly fit the bill.

In The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, Hadley has to go to London to attend her father's wedding. She ends up being late to her flight, and has to take a later flight. While waiting for her flight, she befriends Oliver, who turns out to be on the same flight as her. During the flight to London, they grow closer and there seems to be something more between them. However, their reasons for going to London takes them away from each other. Will they meet again.

This wasn't as light a read as I expected, but it's certainly a quick one. The first half of the book made me think of Before Sunset, which I love. The romance between Oliver and Hadley was sweet. It was a little bit too filled with coincidences, which I found too convenient, however, I decided to chalk it up to a series of occurrences that happened despite the small statistical probability that they would.

I found Oliver to be charming enough, and his sense of humor is very similar to my husband's. However, as a whole, I didn't really feel anything for him as a romantic lead. Granted, the whole book takes place over the span of twenty-four hours so we don't get a chance to truly get to know Oliver. Had there been more time, I think, I would have warmed up to him.

I liked Hadley a lot though. She can be sarcastic, and her comments were on point. I also liked Hadley's mom. anyone who's been screwed over the way she has deserves good things to happen to her. I disliked Hadley's dad, though. While Hadley's memories of her dad shows that her dad wasn't a monster, I have an intense dislike for people who cheat and then rationalize it as falling in love with someone else. Selfish jerk. It's even worse because he had a child. What the heck is that? Disgusting. He should have gone home when he was supposed to. If he had, then maybe he'd have seen that it was just loneliness or something. Argh, I'm still fuming.

This book, despite the title, isn't just about romance. It's about family and forgiveness too. That was a nice touch, and put some depth in what could have been a very typical YA romance novel.

THE GOOD:

  1. It's about as family as much as it is about the romance between Hadley and Oliver.
  2. Hadley is relateable.
  3. It's easy to imagine yourself hanging out with Hadley and Oliver.   

THE BAD:

  1. Some of the coincidences felt too convenient. 

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
“What are you really studying?"
He leans back to look at her. "The statistical probability of love at first sight.” 
READ IT IF:

  1. You liked the movie Before Sunset and want to read a modern YA version.
  2. Your parents are divorced or about to be divorced and you are angry with one or both of them.
  3. You like meet-cutes. 

RATING:
Photobucket

SOUNDS INTERESTING?
Photobucket

Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

In My Mailbox


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

FROM NETGALLEY:



Until We Meet Again by Renee Collins

Photobucket

Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Review: The Witches by Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
This Roald Dahl classic tells the scary, funny and imaginative tale of a seven-year-old boy who has a run-in with some real-life witches! "In fairy tales witches always wear silly black hats and black cloaks and they ride on broomsticks. But this is not a fairy tale. This is about REAL WITCHES. REAL WITCHES dress in ordinary clothes and look very much like ordinary women. They live in ordinary houses and they work in ordinary jobs. That is why they are so hard to catch." Witches, as our hero learns, hate children. With the help of a friend and his somewhat-magical grandmother, our hero tries to expose the witches before they dispose of him. Ages 7-12.
MY TAKE:
I've seen bits of the movie version of The Witches before, while channel-surfing but never actually watched it before because I didn't think it would be interesting.

In The Witches, a young boy learns about witches from his grandmother but is unsure at first if this is true. After an encounter with a witch, he starts believing in them immediately. While on holiday with his grandmother, they stumble upon a grand gathering of the witches in England who are cooking up a nasty plan.

After reading this book, I think I should definitely watch the movie version. I quite enjoyed this book. I wasn't sure at first if this was my cup of tea, but after the boy's encounter with the witches at the hotel, I was sold.

These witches are as horrible as you would expect, and I think they match what most children imagine witches to be like. As with most of Roald Dahl's stories, the things told in this story are absurd yet whimsical and are written in such a way that younger kids may think that there's truth in them or could be, anyway.

I liked the way the boy and his grandmother were able to defeat the witches, as well as their plans for the future. It's definitely an exciting ending and honestly, enterprising Hollywood producers could make a television series out of this book.

THE GOOD:

  1. It's action-packed.
  2. It's an entertaining story.
  3. It gets better as the story progresses.  

THE BAD:

  1. Some kids may be put off by all the mice. 

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
“It doesn't matter who you are or what you look like, so long as somebody loves you.” 
READ IT IF:

  1. You hate witches.
  2. You like Roald Dahl's other books.
  3. You like action-packed children's stories. 

RATING:
Photobucket

SOUNDS INTERESTING?
Photobucket

Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Review: An Idiot Abroad: The Travel Diaries of Karl Pilkington by Karl Pilkington, Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
The companion guide to the hysterical television show of the same name, in which Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant force their arrestingly simple pal Karl Pilkington on a global journey

"He'd have been happier in medieval times in a village where you didn't travel beyond the local community."  —Stephen Merchant

A cult celebrity due to his role in The Ricky Gervais Show, the most-downloaded podcast ever, Karl Pilkington has been accused of being a comic creation, so unburdened is he by complex thought—but that is truly just him. The trio's newest project mines Karl massive provinciality: put simply, Karl is not big on traveling. Given the choice, he'll go on vacation to Devon or Wales or, if pushed, eat English food on a package tour of the Mediterranean. So what happened when he was convinced by Gervais and Merchant to go on an epic adventure to see the Seven Wonders of the World? Does travel truly broaden the mind? Find out in Karl Pilkington's hilarious travel diaries.

MY TAKE:
Karl Pilkington is one of my favorite travel hosts and you'll find out why when you read this book.

An Idiot Abroad: The Travel Diaries of Karl Pilkington is basically a behind-the-scenes look at the first season of An Idiot Abroad. Karl discusses his adventures and thoughts about the things, places and people he encounters on his travels to the Seven Wonders.

Now, where to start? Well, if you haven't seen An Idiot Abroad or the subsequent seasons, then you should know that this is not your typical travel show. That is, the show and this book doesn't always present countries in a positive light the way most travel shows and hosts do. The closest, I think, to Karl's approach is Anthony Bourdain although Anthony is slightly more positive, if you can believe it. Karl is funnier, though.

What makes Karl funny, I think, is how straightforward he is about everything. He speaks his mind, and while it sometimes results in slightly ignorant or culturally insensitive comments, he occasionally also has some insightful things to say.

This book reads more like it was written by your frank and sometimes surly uncle than it is by a travel host. The pictures are sort of like the photos ordinarily people take on vacations too, and that's a good thing. This book feels very accessible as it doesn't sugarcoat anything and is probably closer to what your experience would be like if you went to the place yourself. Of course, your accommodations may be better since Steve and Ricky seem to be trying to get a rise out of Karl by usually housing him in not-so-nice hostels and places.

If you enjoyed the show An Idiot Abroad, it goes without saying that you should absolutely get this book.

THE GOOD:

  1. It paints a realistic portrait of the places Karl visits.
  2. Karl is hilarious.
  3. Occasionally, Karl can be quite brilliant.

THE BAD:
  1. You might get offended by some of the statements if it's your country and you're sensitive. 

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
They do it in Thai restaurants in London. You ask for a drink, and it comes in a glass with loads of seaweed and pebbles in it like a scene from Finding Nemo. 
READ IT IF:

  1. You think Karl Pilkington is hilarious.
  2. You like travel shows that tell it like it is.
  3. You enjoyed An Idiot Abroad. 

RATING:
Photobucket

SOUNDS INTERESTING?

Photobucket

Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Review: What's Science Ever Done For Us: What the Simpsons Can Teach Us About Physics, Robots, Life, and the Universe by Paul Halpern


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
A playful and entertaining look at science on The Simpsons
This amusing book explores science as presented on the longest-running and most popular animated TV series ever made: The Simpsons. Over the years, the show has examined such issues as genetic mutation, time travel, artificial intelligence, and even aliens. "What's Science Ever Done for Us?" examines these and many other topics through the lens of America's favorite cartoon.
This spirited science guide will inform Simpsons fans and entertain science buffs with a delightful combination of fun and fact. It will be the perfect companion to the upcoming Simpsons movie.
The Simpsons is a magnificent roadmap of modern issues in science. This completely unauthorized, informative, and fun exploration of the science and technology, connected with the world's most famous cartoon family, looks at classic episodes from the show to launch fascinating scientific discussions mixed with intriguing speculative ideas and a dose of humor. Could gravitational lensing create optical illusions, such as when Homer saw someone invisible to everyone else? Is the Coriolis effect strong enough to make all toilets in the Southern Hemisphere flush clockwise, as Bart was so keen to find out? If Earth were in peril, would it make sense to board a rocket, as Marge, Lisa, and Maggie did, and head to Mars? While Bart and Millhouse can't stop time and have fun forever, Paul Halpern explores the theoretical possibilities involving Einstein's theory of time dilation.
Paul Halpern, PhD (Philadelphia, PA) is Professor of Physics and Mathematics at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia and a 2002 recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship. He is also the author of The Great Beyond (0-471-46595-X).

MY TAKE:
This book combines two things I enjoy: The Simpsons and science.

In What's Science Ever Done For Us: What the Simpsons Can Teach Us About Physics, Robots, Life, and the Universe, scientific theories and ideas mentioned in a few Simpsons episodes are discussed, debunked and explained.

Here, the Simpsons and other characters from Springfield are mainly used as intros and examples. It works out pretty great, of course, since it's easier to imagine the scientific explanations.

When it comes to the discussions, the book can get pretty technical which, to some like me who graduated from college years ago, seem a little foreign or boring. My favorite chapters and subjects were the ones that dealt with biology, physics and astronomy. My biggest challenges were the chemistry chapters since I wasn't a big fan of that in college, so while I recalled a lot of the things mentioned in the book, I did feel a little bored and like my eyes were starting to glaze over.

While technical, the book isn't really written in a dry manner. There's a few jokes here and there, and most mentions of Springfield characters are quite humorous.

Simpsons fans may find it interesting to read these to learn more about the science behind some moments in the show. However, if you don't have a strong grasp of science or an interest in it, you'll probably get bored pretty quickly.

THE GOOD:

  1. It's well-researched.
  2. It can be funny.
  3. It's very informative. 

THE BAD:

  1. It can be very technical sometimes. 

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
As executive producer, Al Jean explained the decision to invite Hawking on the show: "We were looking for someone much smarter than all the Mensa members, and os we naturally thought of him. He seemed pretty interested in coming on right away." 
READ IT IF:

  1. You are a Simpsons fan and a science geek.
  2. You are a high school or college student who is having trouble with science courses like biology, chemistry and physics. and think that using the Simpsons characters can help you visualize better.
  3. You like learning new things.

RATING:
Photobucket

SOUNDS INTERESTING?

Photobucket

Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Review: The ISIS Apocalypse by William McCants


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
The so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, has inspired young men and women all over the world to commit horrible atrocities in its name. By the thousands, they have flooded into the Islamic State's stronghold in Syria and Iraq and carried out attacks under its black banner in nearly every continent. How has the Islamic State surpassed al-Qaeda to become the most popular jihadist group on the planet? Its chilling mission is very specific: bring the immediate return of the Islamic empire and look ahead to the imminent end of days. These two powerful religious ideas, combined with a highly intelligent, meticulously organized membership, account for its popularity and shape its behavior. Its goal is not only to revive this Islamic empire but also usher in the End of Times--a concept that means ISIS anticipates a final battle that will restore the Muslim community to its medieval glory days. And they will not stop until they achieve their mission.
Based almost entirely on primary sources in Arabic-including exclusive al-Qaeda memos that have not been made public before-The ISIS Apocalypse explores how these two powerful ideas shaped the Islamic State's past and foreshadows its dark future, as well as seeks to explain the popularity of the Islamic State and its violent, terrifying behavior.

MY TAKE:
This is by far the best book, or resource material, really, that explains ISIS and its ideologies to outsiders whose knowledge comes solely from news articles.

In The ISIS Apocalypse, the author discusses the origins of ISIS, its ideologies, its history with al-Qaeda and analyzes why ISIS has had the successes it has and what chances that ISIS has of actually achieving its goals.

I love investigative articles, and this one was like a very long investigative article. I mean that in a good way. I knew bits and pieces about ISIS, and have been greatly appalled by their propaganda and tactics. That's why I've always wondered why people are actually joining up. I just couldn't believe that, given what I knew from my Muslim friends and world history and religions classes, that what ISIS was doing was actually justified in a religion of peace.

This book helped me to see the bigger picture. It puts ISIS and al-Qaeda's actions into context that, while still not something I think most non-Muslims or Muslims, for that matter, would be okay with, certainly explains why people are joining and why they are gaining ground.

Before this book, I already knew about the links between the Islamic State and al-Qaeda. However, I had no idea that their relationship was so strained. Another thing that surprised me was the difference in their approach to establishing a caliphate. Al-Qaeda wanted to go for a hearts-and-mind approach, while the Islamic State was more of a... take-it-by-force kind of approach. To be honest, I think al-Qaeda had the better approach here. Al-Qaeda seemed like the mature older brother and ISIS was that brash younger brother who leaps before he looks. It was also actually kind of scary to see how sensible and level-headed Osama bin Laden was in regards to this. He appeared to be a brilliant strategist, politician and economist. He was probably far more dangerous than the American public believed he was.

Anyway, back to the Islamic State. I had no idea that Islamic prophesies played a very important role in their inception and beliefs, and that it's one of the reasons that they have so many recruits. This book also confirmed my belief that Syria might have been the turning point that allowed ISIS to rise the way it did. President Assad is an even bigger villain than I thought.

I found this book to be both informative and entertaining, which is very important in a non-fiction book. I was disgusted and angered many times by the atrocities I read about, but the book doesn't dwell too much on these events so they don't feel sensationalized.

I'm very interested in what the Islamic State or its followers have to say about some of the things brought up in this book because it does pose some serious questions about the future of ISIS. This is a definite must-read for journalists, politicians, military personnel, and anyone who is interested in learning more about ISIS's history and motivations.
 
Thanks to NetGalley and Palgrave MacMillan Trade for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. It's very well-researched.
  2. You learn a lot about not only ISIS and al-Qaeda, but about Islam in general.
  3. It gives you a clearer picture of what's really going on in the Middle East. 

THE BAD:

  1. After awhile, some of the names can be quite confusing for those who are more used to Western names, especially since some have very similar names. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You want to know how ISIS started.
  2. You are a journalist or in any profession that requires a basic understanding of ISIS, al-Qaeda and other jihadist organizations.
  3. You want to understand why ISIS does what it does.

RATING:
Photobucket

SOUNDS INTERESTING?
Photobucket

Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Tuesday, September 22, 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 am beginning to think that love itself is never wrong. It is what love can drive people to do that is the problem.”        

..Photobucket

Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Review: The Central Park Tales by Marcus Meesters



SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:


The Central Park Tales is a delightful children's book about the adventures of the animals that live in Central Park. It contains 10 short stories with 60 beautiful color illustrations. The main characters are Squirrel, Duck, Frog, Mousekin and the brothers Doctor Beggar (Dog) and Mister Pup (Dog). Because many of the illustrations depict real places in Central Park, the book is especially appealing to children who live in New York City. The Central Park Tales is also available as an eBook.
MY TAKE:
I love New York and my toddler loves animals, so I felt that this was a win-win book for us to read.

In The Central Park Tales, readers follow the adventures of a group of animals that live in Central Park.

The book's narrative style reminded me a bit of The Wind in the Willows, especially when paired with the illustrations. I love a good watercolor illustration, and there are plenty of those here. The drawings are very pretty, and they kinda reminded me of the illustrations in Winnie the Pooh books.

The ten stories here are stand-alone, but are labeled from Chapter One to Ten, and center around the same group of characters. Of the characters in the book, my favorite were Striped Tail Raccoon and Mister Pup. Striped Tail is a little bit grumpy but he's the lovable kind of grumpy. Mister Pup, on the other hand, is a cutie and reminds me of my son.

If you're looking for a fun book to read at night to your child, this one is a good choice.

Thanks to NetGalley and BookBaby for the e-copy.

THE GOOD:
  1. The illustrations are beautiful.
  2. The characters are lovable.
  3. The stories are great for bedtime reading.
THE BAD:
  1. The stories are probably a bit too long for early readers to read on their own.
READ IT IF:
  1. Your child loves animals.
  2. You and your child love walking through Central Park.
  3. You are looking for a book you can read to your child.
RATING:
Photobucket

SOUNDS INTERESTING?


Photobucket

Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

In My Mailbox


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

FROM NETGALLEY:


The Big Book of Sherlock Holmes Stories by Otto Penzler (editor)

Photobucket

Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Review: I Can Roar! by Frank Asch


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
In this clever board book, each page encourages readers to mimic the sounds and actions of a different animal. With a die-cut hole in the center of each illustration, readers can turn the artwork into performance art. Children, parents, teachers and librarians will love peeking through the holes to snap like a turtle, oink like a pig and stick out their tongues like a snake. Kids will roar for more!
MY TAKE:
I've been looking for a fun activity book for my toddler, and this one looked promising.

In I Can Roar!, kids and their parents, teachers, etc. can pretend to be different animals by placing their faces against the holes on each page and imitating the animal, just like in the descriptions provided.

My son usually doesn't care for the e-ARCs I get, even if they're specific to his age group, since he prefers physical books. However, he had fun with this book. He likes animals, and he loves imitating them, so even though he couldn't exactly fit his face in the hole since it was an e-ARC, he was totally okay with making the appropriate animal noises when I pointed to the different pictures.

While I loved the concept of the book, I personally would have preferred a different illustration style or coloring that used more shading and/or light and shadows. If you don't have certain styles that you're partial to, though, there shouldn't be any problem for you.

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

THE GOOD:

  1. It's a fun book for kids to read with their caregivers (parents, teachers, etc.).
  2. There are plenty of animals to choose from.
  3. It's a good concept.

THE BAD:

  1. The illustration style may not appeal to everyone.

READ IT IF:

  1. You are looking for a fun book to read with your child.
  2. Your child loves animals.
  3. You are looking for a fun educational book.

RATING:
Photobucket

SOUNDS INTERESTING?


Photobucket

Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Review: The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
For twenty years, the Palomas and the Corbeaus have been rivals and enemies, locked in an escalating feud for over a generation. Both families make their living as traveling performers in competing shows--the Palomas swimming in mermaid exhibitions, the Corbeaus, former tightrope walkers, performing in the tallest trees they can find.
Lace Paloma may be new to her family's show, but she knows as well as anyone that the Corbeaus are pure magia negra, black magic from the devil himself. Simply touching one could mean death, and she's been taught from birth to keep away. But when disaster strikes the small town where both families are performing, it's a Corbeau boy, Cluck, who saves Lace's life. And his touch immerses her in the world of the Corbeaus, where falling for him could turn his own family against him, and one misstep can be just as dangerous on the ground as it is in the trees.
Beautifully written, and richly imaginative, The Weight of Feathers is an utterly captivating young adult novel by a talented new voice.

MY TAKE:
The book's summary made me think of Romeo and Juliet, and since I love a good forbidden romance story, I decided to give this one a try.

In The Weight of Fathers, the Palomas and Corbeaus have been enemies for years. Lace Paloma and Cluck Corbeau paths cross after a terrible event occurs, and as they grow closer, they begin to fall in love. The problem is, does their love have a place with the Corbeaus' and Palomas' feud and history?

The start of the book threw me for a little bit. The tone was not what I had expected from the summary. I was worried about how I would describe it at first. In my notes, I described it as trippy, surreal, like having an out-of-body experience or seeing the world through a misty glass. grab me.

I guess it was partly because of this that the first half or so of the book didn't really hold my attention. As the story went on, though, and Cluck and Lace's romance blossomed, I suddenly found myself invested in their story. The main plot twist of the story didn't come as a surprise to me, though. It was actually kind of expected, I think. However, it's not so obvious that the big reveal becomes pointless.

As an outsider, it's easier to see how twisted the feud is and how both sides are at fault. The matriarchs of the two families are just terrible people. Family-centric, sure, but they're both cruel and harsh as well. Cluck' brother Dax was a jerk, and Lace's male cousins weren't nice, either. Of the supporting characters, the one I liked the most was Lace's dad. He was awesome and I think Lace couldn't have asked for a better father.

Thanks to NetGalley and Thomas Dunne Books for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. Cluck and Lace's relationship felt realistic.
  2. There wasn't an unbelievable magical solution to everything.
  3. This story feels different from a lot of the YA novels currently saturating the market.

THE BAD:

  1. The style and tone of the novel won't appeal to everyone. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You like magical realism.
  2. You love Romeo and Juliet.
  3. You hate it when there's a neat but unrealistic ending to a story.

RATING:
Photobucket

SOUNDS INTERESTING?


Photobucket

Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Review: Cooking As Fast As I Can A Chef’s Story of Family, Food, and Forgiveness by Cat Cora


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Remarkably candid, compulsively readable, renowned chef Cat Cora’s no-holds-barred memoir on Southern life, Greek heritage, same sex marriage, and the meals that have shaped her memories.
Before she became a celebrated chef, Cathy Cora was just a girl from Jackson, Mississippi, where days were slow and every meal was made from scratch. Her passion for the kitchen started in her home, where fresh feta and Greek olives filled the kitchen. She spent her days internalizing the dishes that would form the cornerstone of her cooking philosophy incorporating her Greek heritage and Southern upbringing—from crispy fried chicken and honey-drenched biscuits to spanakopita. But outside the kitchen, Cat’s life was volatile.
In Cooking as Fast as I Can, Cat Cora reveals, for the first time, coming-of-age experiences from early childhood sexual abuse to the realities of life as a lesbian in the deep South. She shares how she found her passion in the kitchen and went on to attend the prestigious Culinary Institute of America and apprentice under Michelin star chefs in France. After her big break as a co-host on the Food Network’s Melting Pot, Cat broke barriers by becoming the first-ever female Iron Chef.
By turns epic and intimate, in Cooking as Fast as I Can Cat Cora finds courage and redemption in the dark truths of her past, captured in fluid, clarion prose. She chronicles how she found solace in the kitchen and work, and how her passion for cooking helped her to overcome hardships and ultimately find happiness at home and became a wife and a mother to four boys. Above all, Cat demonstrates the grit and grace it takes to achieve your dreams.

MY TAKE:
I first saw Cat Cora on Iron Chef America, which I only started watching after learning that Chef Masaharu Morimoto was on it.

In Cooking As Fast As I Can A Chef’s Story of Family, Food, and Forgiveness, we learn more about Cat Cora's childhood and relationships, how she became a chef, and how she ventured into television.

Before reading this book, I already admired her. After reading this book, I respect her even more. She has had some difficult times in her life, particularly the abuse she suffered as a child, but she came out of it even stronger. Her drive to be better as a chef was inspiring, even though I have no desire to actually be a professional chef. As for her ability to juggle and fulfill the many career opportunities that came her way was amazing. I was exhausted just reading about it.

The thing with biographies and memoirs is, even if your life is interesting, if it's not well-written, the reader's attention will eventually wander and they may start to get bored. That didn't happen here. The pacing was perfect, and the tone and flow of the story allowed me to learn more about Cat and hear her thoughts without feeling like she was a friend who just wouldn't shut up about her life. This might be the first memoir in a long time that I was actually eager to get back to whenever I had to stop reading it for one reason or another.

A few other things that I liked about the book were reading about the food she cooked, her experiences in the industry as a female chef, as well as reading about her interactions with other chefs, famous or not. I now like Chef Morimoto even more after reading about what he did for Chef Cora's team during the filming of Iron Chef America.

Now, not all of the stories put Chef Cora in a positive light. She's very upfront about the meaner things she's done, as well as the moments she's not proud of. The way it's delivered is sort of no-nonsense, much like what I expected of her, and it made me like her even more.

Thanks to NetGalley and Scribner for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. There's never a dull moment.
  2. You learn a lot about what it's like to study at the Culinary Institute of America, as well as what it's like to be a female professional chef in the '00s up to now. 
  3. It's fun to read about the famous chefs she knows and has interacted with at some point.

THE BAD:

  1. The food descriptions will make you hungry, so it's probably a good idea to have a snack on hand while reading. 

READ IT IF:

  1. If you dream of becoming a chef.
  2. If you're a fan of Chef Cat Cora.
  3. If you enjoy reading memoirs. 

RATING:
Photobucket

SOUNDS INTERESTING?

Photobucket

Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Review: A Whole New World: A Twisted Tale by Liz Braswell


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Ages 12 and up
Welcome to a new YA series that reimagines classic Disney stories in surprising new ways. Each book asks the question: What if one key moment from a familiar Disney film was changed? This dark and daring version of Aladdin twists the original story with the question: What if Jafar was the first one to summon the Genie? When Jafar steals the Genie's lamp, he uses his first two wishes to become sultan and the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Agrabah lives in fear, waiting for his third and final wish.To stop the power-mad ruler, Aladdin and the deposed Princess Jasmine must unite the people of Agrabah in rebellion. But soon their fight for freedom threatens to tear the kingdom apart in a costly civil war.
What happens next? A Street Rat becomes a leader. A princess becomes a revolutionary. And readers will never look at the story of Aladdin in the same way again.

MY TAKE:
I love re-imagined classics, so when I saw this book, I just had to read it.

In A Whole New World: A Twisted Tale, Abu was not able to steal the lamp from Jafar so he ends up being the one who summons Genie. This leads to trouble not only for Aladdin and Jasmine, but for the rest of Agrabah as well.

The summary mentions that this was a "dark and daring version" of Aladdin. That's certainly accurate. If you remember the movie, it had some dark moments, but overall, it was quite light-hearted, like most of the early Disney movies. This book, however, is more of on the How to Train Your Dragon 2-end of the darkness spectrum. It was a little heavier than I had expected, but I don't think it would have worked well any other way.

The first four chapters of the book match the movie, but the book veers away from the movie plot in the fifth chapter. The plot reads much like most dystopian novels these days, except you know and love the main characters, and you'll recognize some of the scenes, as well as some key elements of the movie used in a slightly different way in other parts of the book.

The main and most of the secondary characters from the movie are almost all here, and what's great is that they all act pretty much the same way here as they did in the movie. It really does add to the feeling that this was how the movie could have gone had Jafar gotten the lamp first. Bonus: I loved how the economics in the new Agrabah is consistent with what actually happens in the real world.

Aladdin isn't really high up on my list of Disney princes, but I liked him in this book. It was nice reading about his back story because it gave his character more depth and helped me sympathize with him more. I had forgotten until I started reading, though, that I didn't really like Jasmine that much, as I felt she was a bit spoiled. Here, Jasmine still frustrated me, but it was more of due to her naivete, which ended up being part of the reason why my favorite character from the movie gets hurt.

Overall, I was quite pleased with this book. Can Mulan's story be the next in the series, please?

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

THE GOOD:

  1. It's a more mature (read: darker and heavier) version of the movie.
  2. The characters' personalities are consistent with what we see in the movie.
  3. It's a very believable alternative story.

THE BAD:

  1. If your favorite character was a secondary character in the movie, you may want to steel your heart before reading. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You loved the movie.
  2. You love reading re-imagined versions of stories.
  3. You like dystopian novels.

RATING:
Photobucket

SOUNDS INTERESTING?
Photobucket

Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Tuesday, September 15, 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!

To say I’m an overrated troll, when you have never even seen me guard a bridge, is patently unfair.       

..Photobucket

Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Review: Are You Still There by Sarah Lynn Scheerger


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Every year it takes the teachers until winter break
To learn my name. That's why I call myself Stranger.
I am a stranger. To everyone.
Because no one knows me.
Or notices me. Just wait.
They will notice me soon.
The day the bomb threat put the school on lockdown, Gabi was trapped in the girls' room. It seems everything she'd been working for--the AP classes, the college applications--was about to go up in smoke.
The police found the bomb in time, but they didn't find the bomber. Out of two thousand students at Central, the one who's ready to explode is still at large.
The bomber could be anyone--one of Gabi's friends or the guy she rejected or the person leaving ominous notes all over the school. It could even be one of the anonymous callers who calls the school helpline where Gabi volunteers.
And the more messages Gabi gets, the more she suspects she's part of Stranger's plan. Could she be the only one who can stop another attack? Or will she be the first victim of Stranger's revenge?

MY TAKE:
I love mysteries and thrillers and this sounded like my cup of tea.

In Are You Still There, after a bomb threat at her school, Gabi is roped into joining a helpline at her school. She settles into the routine and becomes friends with the other students who are part of the group. However, they soon get disturbing calls and texts, and someone is sending playing cards with threatening messages to Gabi. What is the bomber planning next and why does it involve Gabi?

At first, I was kind of on the fence about the book. The first part of the book sort of set the stage for the helpline and the whole mystery of who the bomber was. It was only when the bomber started getting bolder that I was really hooked.

I love trying to figure out mysteries before the main character does, and while I did get a spidey-sense -tingle when the bomber appeared before the big reveal, I quickly dismissed the bomber anyway. It was perfect with the narrative, of course, because that is exactly what the bomber keeps mentioning. They can be somewhere and talk to people and yet still be invisible to everyone else.

I loved how the book was able to tackle bullying from the viewpoint of people who are watching the bullying go down, instead of from the point-of-view of the bullied or the bully. It makes you think of the times wherein you could have stepped in and made a difference, and yet you just watched. The Stranger's Manifesto helps you get into the mindset of the bomber. It's twisted, as what you might expect, and doesn't always make sense to someone who isn't in a dark place mentally, but there was at least a couple of lines that disturbed me because it's something that I've seen in the news before, and seems entirely plausible in this situation.

As for Gabi, I thought she was okay. I can imagine her not being out of place in my circle of friends. Her romance with Miguel was also interesting, and made me think of the movie crazy/beautiful. It's really intense, but it seems consistent with how teenage relationships are.

Thanks to NetGalley and AW Teen for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. There are resources at the end of the book for those who are bullied.
  2. It's able to show how people can get wrapped up in their own drama and easily forget or not step in when others are being bullied.
  3. It's a pretty good thriller.

THE BAD:

  1. I feel like I would have cared about the bomber more had the Stranger's Manifesto contained more information or revelations.  

READ IT IF:

  1. You've seen someone get bullied and you did nothing to stop it.
  2. You like thrillers.
  3. You like mysteries. 

RATING:
Photobucket

SOUNDS INTERESTING?

Photobucket

Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

In My Mailbox


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

FROM NETGALLEY:


The Heart Goes Last: A Novel by Margaret Atwood

Photobucket

Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...