Saturday, October 31, 2015

Review: Jem and the Holograms: Showtime by Kelly Thompson


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Meet Jerrica Benton - a girl with a secret. She and her sister Kimber team with two friends to become... JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS! But what does it mean to be JEM today? Fashion, art, action, and style collide in Jem and the Holograms: Showtime!
MY TAKE:
As a fan of the Jem and the Holograms television series, I just had to read this comic book.

In Jem and the Holograms: Showtime, Jerrica is too shy to sing in front of an audience, which isn't a good thing since she's the lead singer of her band. Thanks to her father's invention, however, she is able to transform into Jem via a holographic projection. Despite being a new band, Jem and the Holograms soon find themselves in a rivalry with The Misfits.

Since I'm used to the old illustrations style of Jem and the Holograms, the anime re-imagining of the characters was a little disorienting at first. However, I appreciated that there was an effort to include different body types here. In the television series, the girls were all tall and sexy. Here, there are plus-size girls (Stormer and Aja) too. That aside, the changes to their looks were pretty drastic. Sometimes, it felt like the only thing left were the hair colors. It made me nostalgic for the old style, but obviously, that's a little dated and probably isn't going to appeal to the younger generations.

As for the story, it's been awhile since I saw the series, and I don't really remember the first episode anymore so I don't know how close this story is to the original. Although I do remember there being a drive-through or some sort to get into their headquarters?

One major difference I think, is the relationship between Kimber and Stormer. Since I hadn't seen the articles released months ago about this, I had no idea that Kimber and Stormer were lesbians in the comics. It's not an issue for me, but I was certainly surprised, since I don't remember that from the television series. They make a cute couple, though, even if I thought there was a tiny bit of insta-love there.

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

THE GOOD:

  1. The girls have different body types.
  2. There are modern pop culture references.
  3. Kimber and Stormer are cute together. 

THE BAD:

  1. Fans of the old look of Jem and the Holograms may feel like some of the changes are a little too much. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You are a Jem and the Holograms fan.
  2. You saw the original series and wanted Kimber and Stormer to get together.
  3. You love modern versions of old television series.

RATING:
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Friday, October 30, 2015

Review: Dinosaurs Before Dark (Magic Tree House #1) by Mary Pope Osborne


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
Jack and Annie are ready for their next fantasy adventure in the bestselling middle-grade series—the Magic Tree House!
Where did the tree house come from?
Before Jack and Annie can find out, the mysterious tree house whisks them to the prehistoric past. Now they have to figure out how to get home. Can they do it before dark . . . or will they become a dinosaur's dinner? 
MY TAKE:
I love books like this one that both tells a story and teaches kids about different subjects.

In Dinosaurs Before Dark, Jack and Annie discover a tree house filled with books. Without meaning to, they end up Cretaceous period. There they meet and interact with different dinosaurs.

I thought the concept was pretty cool. A tree house filled with books, plus kids going on an adventure, can be explained by some as just the kids imagining that the books come to life. Here, the tree house reminds me of the Magic School Bus, but there's no Miss Frizzle. Jack and Annie just have the books and their wits.

Aside from introducing the kids and the magic tree house, a mystery is also introduced. It seems that someone else has been into the Cretaceous period ahead of them. This person has left behind a medallion with the letter M. I'm curious to see if the medallion is significant in some way (a marker, a calling card?).

The kids in the book are quite likable. Annie is a sweet and friendly child, while Jack is more scientific and realistic. While I liked Annie's attitude, I could relate more to Jack. Had I been in that period, I'd probably be taking notes too.

I'll definitely be reading the next books in the series some time in the future.

THE GOOD:

  1. It teaches kids a few things about Cretaceous period dinosaurs.
  2. The concept is interesting.
  3. It looks like a promising series. 

THE BAD:

  1. I would have liked it if there had been more dinosaurs or facts about them. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You like the Magic School Bus.
  2. You like educational children's books.
  3. Your child is interested in dinosaurs. 

RATING:
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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Review: Science of the Magical From the Holy Grail to Love Potions to Superpowers by Matt Kaplan


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
From the author of The Science of Monsters, this engaging scientific inquiry provides a definitive look into the elements of mystical places and magical objects—from the philosopher’s stone, to love potions to the oracles—from ancient history, mythology, and contemporary culture.
Can migrations of birds foretell our future? Do phases of the moon hold sway over our lives? Are there sacred springs that cure the ill? What is the best way to brew a love potion? How do we create mutant humans who regenerate like Wolverine?
In Science of the Magical, noted science journalist Matt Kaplan plumbs the rich, lively, and surprising history of the magical objects, places, and rituals that infuse ancient and contemporary myth. Like Ken Jennings and Mary Roach, Kaplan serves as a friendly armchair guide to the world of the supernatural. From the strengthening powers of Viking mead, to the super soldiers in movies like Captain America, Kaplan ranges across cultures and time periods to point out that there is often much more to these enduring magical narratives than mere fantasy. Informative and entertaining, Science of the Magical explores our world through the compelling scope of natural and human history and cutting-edge science.

MY TAKE:
I was on the fence about requesting this book because I wanted to take a break from reading non-fiction books, so I'm glad I decided to give a try.

In Science of the Magical From the Holy Grail to Love Potions to Superpowers, we take a look at legends and stories from literature and elsewhere, and see if they are actually possible or have a basis in fact.

I guess I shouldn't have been surprised, but I didn't really expect such a detailed and scientific book. For a lot of the topics here, there were studies that explained the possible mechanisms and explanations behind things like limb generation ala Wolverine, the ten plagues of Egypt, plus plenty of Greek myths. The author even conducted his own experiments (with experts guiding him) for some of the stories. I was definitely impressed by that.

I learned a lot of things from this book, and I think members of the scientific community, as well as those who aspire to be researchers, scientists or doctors in the future, should read this book as well. Why? Because aside from explaining how our ancestors possibly came up with certain elements in their legends, the book also brings up certain ideas, findings or studies that  could be very useful and should be explored further.

One example that stands out because it could be quite groundbreaking is a study in mice that could pave the way for an autism treatment. Autistic mice who were given the drug did not behave differently from regular mice, but the effect disappeared once the drug had disappeared from their system. The drug isn't a long-term solution, though, because it has toxic effects over time, but it does show scientists a good path to explore.

Overall, I thought this book was quite fascinating, and even though it did contain a lot of material and explanations taken from scientific studies and interviews/consultations with experts, I was not bored at all. There was something light and almost conversational about the tone the author used, so it felt a little bit to me like I was just discussing scientific articles with my college classmates.

Thanks to NetGalley and Scribner for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. You'll learn a lot.
  2. It includes the results of several studies that have very interesting real-world applications.
  3. The scientific ideas and explanations are presented in a way that doesn't feel like you're reading a textbook for school. 

THE BAD:

  1. Some may feel that it can get too technical at times. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You've wondered if myths and legends have a basis in reality.
  2. You like science, especially medicine and chemistry.
  3. You like learning new things. 

RATING:
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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Review: The Big Book of Sherlock Holmes Stories by Otto Penzler


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Presenting Edgar Award-winning editor Otto Penzler's latest anthology, The Big Book of Sherlock Holmes Stories, the largest collection of Sherlockian tales ever assembled—now in a deluxe hardcover edition, perfect for the collector and gift markets.
Arguably no other character in history has been so enduringly popular as Sherlock Holmes. From his first appearance, in Arthur Conan Doyle's 1887 novella A Study in Scarlet,readers have loved reading about him—and writers have loved writing about him. Here, Otto Penzler collects 83 wonderful stories about Holmes and Dr. John Watson, the majority of which will be new to readers. Among these pages are tales by acclaimed Sherlockians Leslie S. Klinger, Laurie R. King, Lyndsay Faye and Daniel Stashower; pastiches by literary luminaries both classic (Kenneth Millar, P. G. Wodehouse, Dorothy B. Hughes) and current (Anne Perry, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman); and parodies by Conan Doyle's contemporaries James M. Barrie, O. Henry, and August Derleth.

MY TAKE:
At over 1,000 pages, this is by far the biggest collection of Sherlock Holmes stories I have ever read.

The Big Book of Sherlock Holmes Stories contains stories written by various authors that feature Sherlock Holmes and/or Dr. Watson. The stories range from the more serious to parodies.

The great thing about books like these are the fact that because there are so many stories to choose from, you're bound to find something you like.

The most memorable stories for me are The Doctor's Case by Stephen King and The Martian Crown Jewels by Poul Anderson. The Doctor's Case is a locked-room mystery, that had an interesting and perfect resolution, while The Martian Crown Jewels features a Martian Sherlock Holmes. I found the latter very imaginative, while the former left me empathizing with Watson and the other characters in the story.

There are plenty of other gems here, of course. The stories are divided into sections, which are explained at the beginning of the book. These are: The Master (parodies written by Arthur Conan Doyle), Familiar as the Rose in Spring (most popular and oft-reprinted Sherlock Holmes stories), The Literature of Crime (written by well-known authors), In the Beginning (parodies written during the 19th century), Holmesless (Sherlock Holmes doesn't actually appear in the story), Not of this Place (the story takes place in a different place/era than usual), Keeping the Memory Green (written by well-respected people from non-writing professions), You Think That's Funny (parodies), Contemporary Victorians (written by modern writers), and The Footsteps of a Gigantic Author (written by mystery writers from long ago).

Of these sections, the one that contained the most number of excellent stories for me was the Contemporary Victorians. Some of my favorites from this section were: A Case of Mis-Identity by Colin Dexter, The Adventure of Zolnay, the Aerialist by Rock Boyer, and The Startling Events in the Electrified City by Thomas Perry. The last story put Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson into real-life events, and made it seem plausible that they influenced these events somehow and that what we know to be true may not be correct at all.

As for the parodies were mostly not my cup of tea, although there were a couple or so that made me laugh.

My only trouble with reviewing this book, really, is the length. If this is something you bought at a bookstore, this book is well-worth the money because there are lots of stories and most of them are quite excellent. However, since I was reviewing this book, I felt the pressure to finish it right away. This diminished my enjoyment of the book a little bit. That said, if this is something you plan on reading in your spare time and in small chunks at a time, it's absolutely a good buy.

Thanks to NetGalley and Vintage for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. There are plenty of excellent stories.
  2. There's something for everyone.
  3. It's actually pretty cheap, considering the amount of stories included. 

THE BAD:

  1. Some stories are not as memorable or well-written as the others.   

READ IT IF:

  1. If you love pastiches.
  2. If you are a Sherlock Holmes fan.
  3. If you're experiencing Sherlock or Elementary withdrawal.

RATING:
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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Teaser Tuesday

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

“You are not a drop in the ocean. You are an ocean in a drop.”         

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Monday, October 26, 2015

Review: The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
How does one talk about love? Is it even possible to describe something at once utterly mundane and wholly transcendent, that has the power to consume our lives completely, while making us feel part of something infinitely larger than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this age-old problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary constructs the story of a relationship as a dictionary. Through these sharp entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of coupledom, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time.
MY TAKE:
I was intrigued with the premise of the book so I decided to give this one a try.

In The Lover's Dictionary, anecdotes are presented as definitions of words, like in dictionaries. The anecdotes all relate to one another and tell the story of a relationship.

A few entries in, I realized that this book reminded me of 500 Days of Summer. That is, the anecdotes are not told in chronological order and have more to do with the words being defined, or rather the words that are used as the starting point. It was confusing at first, but it didn't take long to understand their story.

Each anecdote or moment varied in length, but they covered a wide range of moments in a relationship, whether positive, negative or just plain mundane. Aside from the beautiful lines herein, and there are many, that's my favorite part of the book. Even if your relationship isn't as troubled as the characters in this book, you can still relate to more than a few of the entries and lines.

My favorite moment, for example, is the one for the word "catalyst."
It surprised me — surprises me still — that you were the first one to say it.
I was innocent, in a way, expecting those three words to appear boldface with music. But instead, it was such an ordinary moment: The movie
was over, and I stood up to turn off the TV. A few minutes had passed from the end of the final credits, and we’d been sitting there on the couch,
your legs over mine, the side of your hand touching the side of my hand. The video stopped and the screen turned blue. “I’ll get it,” I said, and was
halfway to the television when you said, “I love you.”
I never asked, but I’ll always wonder: What was it about that moment that made you realize it? Or, if you’d known it for awhile, what compelled
you to say it then? It was welcome, so welcome, and in my rush to say that I loved you, too, I left the television on, I let that light bathe us for a little
longer, as I returned to the couch, to you. We held there for awhile, not really sure what would happen next.
I found this moment to be absolutely beautiful and if you've ever been in a relationship, it's something that will make you think and remember.

THE GOOD:

  1. There are plenty of beautiful lines.
  2. It covers positive, neutral and negative aspects of relationships.
  3. There's something for everyone to relate to.

THE BAD:

  1. The ending is ambiguous but seems to lean towards a bittersweet one. 

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
There has to be a moment at the beginning where you wonder whether you’re in love with the person or in love with the feeling of love itself.
If the moment doesn’t pass, that’s it—you’re done.
And if the moment does pass, it never goes that far. It stands in the distance, ready for whenever you want it back. Sometimes it’s even there when you thought you were searching for something else, like an escape route, or your lovers’ face.

READ IT IF:

  1. You've ever been in a relationship.
  2. You've been cheated on.
  3. You want to read a book that tackles the positive and negative aspects of relationships. 

RATING:
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Sunday, October 25, 2015

In My Mailbox


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

FROM NETGALLEY:



Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas by Natasha Yim

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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Review: To All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys I've Loved Before #1) by Jenny Han


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister's ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.
MY TAKE:
I found the premise interesting, and while the novel isn't perfect, it's still a good read.

In To All the Boys I've Loved Before, Lara Jean writes letters to the boys she loves when she's ready to let go of her feelings for them. However, one day, her letters are mailed to the boys. One of those boys is her sister's ex-boyfriend, who says he liked Lara Jean first, and her first kiss, who just broke up with Lara Jean's former friend.

At first, I wasn't really into the story. It was okay, but I wasn't feeling Josh. He seemed like a nice guy and all, but there was something about him that just bugged me and I couldn't put my finger on it. I'm not a fan of the whole sister's ex-boyfriend thing, either. Thankfully, that's not the real love story here.

The real love story here is between Lara Jean and her first kiss, Peter. It's kind of funny because Peter is the handsome, cocky athlete who has a crazy ex-girlfriend. That's usually not the kind of guy I cheer for in a love triangle. I usually cheer for guys like Josh. However, Peter and Lara Jean's story falls under the pretend-relationship-becomes-something-more trope, which I happen to be a fan of.

Once Lara Jean started leaning more towards Peter, I was hooked. The book ends on a cliffhanger, so I wasn't too happy about that, but I'm definitely looking forward to the next book in the series.

THE GOOD:

  1. The premise is intriguing.
  2. Lara Jean and Peter's romance is sweet and romantic.
  3. It's about sisterhood and family as well.  

THE BAD:

  1. Josh and Lara Jean's story isn't going to appeal to everyone.  

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
“I want to say yes, but I don't want to be with a boy whose heart belongs to somebody else. Just once, I want to be somebody else's first choice.”  
READ IT IF:

  1. You've written letters to your exes or boyfriends before.
  2. You like stories about pretend relationships that become something more.
  3. You like stories about the importance of sisters and family. 

RATING:
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Friday, October 23, 2015

Review: Love Is the Higher Law by David Levithan


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
First there is a Before, and then there is an After. . . .
The lives of three teens—Claire, Jasper, and Peter—are altered forever on September 11, 2001. Claire, a high school junior, has to get to her younger brother in his classroom. Jasper, a college sophomore from Brooklyn, wakes to his parents’ frantic calls from Korea, wondering if he’s okay. Peter, a classmate of Claire’s, has to make his way back to school as everything happens around him.
Here are three teens whose intertwining lives are reshaped by this catastrophic event. As each gets to know the other, their moments become wound around each other’s in a way that leads to new understandings, new friendships, and new levels of awareness for the world around them and the people close by.
David Levithan has written a novel of loss and grief, but also one of hope and redemption as his characters slowly learn to move forward in their lives, despite being changed forever.

MY TAKE:
It's been more than a decade since 9/11 but a lot of the things written here still rings true.

In Love is the Higher Law, Claire, Peter and Jasper are three teens from New York who deal with the aftermath of 9/11 in their own lives and their relationships with other people.

I live on the other side of the world, and I think I was already asleep by the time my parents turned on the television to watch CNN. I didn't have any relatives living in New York, either. As far removed as I was from everything, all the stories I read about 9/11 afterward still affected me. Why? Because you don't have to be there or to be an American to sympathize. Things changed for a lot of people all over the world, increased airport security being just one of those changes.

Claire, Peter and Jasper all react differently to 9/11. Claire is proactive and tries to do what she can. Peter is more passive but still hopeful. Jasper, however, is more negative, in a way, and fluctuates between not caring and being angry about it.

Of the three, Peter comes closest to how I felt then. I also liked a lot of his lines, especially in relation to the concerts he attends after 9/11. To me, Peter felt the most real and least preachy. However, I think a lot of people closer to New York during that time may have felt more like how Claire and Jasper felt.

There was a scene in the book wherein Jasper and Claire discussed everything that was going on and what was going to happen next. It got a little boring because of the length, but I do agree with some of what Claire said.

Overall, the book was just okay for me, even though there were some really wonderful lines here and there. I think this would have been more meaningful to me had I read it when it was first published.

THE GOOD:

  1. It has some brilliant lines.
  2. The characters all reacted differently and there wasn't an attempt to make it seem like one reaction was more valid than the other.
  3. The book's message is hopeful. 

THE BAD:

  1. There are some instances wherein the action comes to a near standstill and it gets a little boring. 

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
We all understand that this is just music. We all understand these songs were written Before - there is no way the band could have known how we would hear them After. But the songs ring true. 
READ IT IF:

  1. You like reading books that try to depict 9/11 and what happened afterward.
  2. You like witty lines.
  3. You sometimes forget that there's still good in the world. 

RATING:
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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Review: Endless Summer (The Boys Next Door #1-2) by Jennifer Echols


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
Two irresistible boys. One unforgettable summer.

Lori can’t wait for her summer at the lake. She loves wakeboarding and hanging with her friends—including the two hotties next door. With the Vader brothers, she's always been just one of the guys. Now that she’s turning sixteen, she wants to be seen as one of the girls, especially in the eyes of Sean, the older brother. But that’s not going to happen—not if the younger brother, Adam, can help it.
Lori plans to make Sean jealous by spending time with Adam. Adam has plans of his own for Lori. As the air heats up, so does this love triangle. Will Lori’s romantic summer melt into one hot mess? 
MY TAKE:
This book is composed of two parts/books, and I kinda wish it had stopped at the first one.

In Endless Summer, Lori has always been one of the boys. However, she has decided to become more girly and try to catch the attention of Sean. To that end, she enlists the help of Adam, Sean's brother. However, things between Adam and Lori get complicated quickly and now Lori must decide which Vader brother really has her heart.

First, let me get this out of the way. The brothers' surname made me laugh. I like Star Wars, and while I immediately thought of Darth Vader, I also thought that perhaps it wasn't actually a reference to Darth Vader. However, later on, it seems their mom's (or dad's?) first initial is D. making her D. Vader. I thought that was cute.

Anyway, back to the story. I enjoyed the first book, The Boys of Summer. While majority of the book is Lori and her trying to hook up with Sean and falling for Adam, I enjoyed the parts that were about her friendship with the boys and the boys' relationship with each other. My husband has two brothers as well, but his relationship with them now is much more mellow than the relationships in the book. Of course, if I remember correctly, at that age, their relationship wasn't all that rosy either. To that end, I thought that while the conflict and hatred in Sean and Adam's relationship was too much, overall, it does resemble a typical brother-brother-brother relationship.

As for the romance, I was cheering for Lori and Adam. The way Sean was presented, at first, he just seemed so slimy and unlikable that it was obvious from the start who would end up together. Lori's scheming was just unnecessary and painful to watch sometimes, but she and Adam were good for each other. It got a little cliche sometimes, but they were fun to watch most of the time, especially at the end of The Boys of Summer.

Taken alone, I would have given The Boys of Summer four stars. the problem, however, is the second part (Endless Summer?).

The second part has chapters that alternate between Lori and Adam's points-of-view. It was a bit disturbing to see Adam's jealousy and anger. The anger, I guess, I can handle. However, the jealousy was scary to see. Part of it, I think, is his insecurity, his youth and his immaturity. I worry, though, that it may be something a little darker. Hopefully, it's not and it will go away when Adam's ADHD is under control.

Lori, however, didn't do herself any favors here. She doesn't seem like the brightest bulb, sometimes. I also worried about her. She points out that the boys don't plan ahead, but even though Lori plans ahead, her plans aren't exactly well-thought-out. She tries to be manipulative and conniving, but since it doesn't come naturally or she's just not that good at it, things become even more messy.

At about 3/4th of the book, I was exasperated at both of them. It was like they were creating unnecessary drama. Thankfully, things started to look up again, and while I thought the ending was cheesy, I was happy about it anyway.

THE GOOD:

  1. The boys' relationships are realistic.
  2. It's an easy read.
  3. There are some very funny lines here. 

THE BAD:

  1. Lori and Adam still have a bit to work out before their relationship can be considered healthy. 

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
“Let's go," I said.
"Go where?"
"On Lori's date with Parker."
Now he looked at me over the nerdy spectacles he wore for reading.
"I wasn't aware it was a double date. And you're not my type.” 
READ IT IF:

  1. You like Jennifer Echols' other books.
  2. You like love triangles.
  3. You like love triangles wherein the rivals are siblings. 

RATING:
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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Review: Snoopy: Contact! by Charles M. Schulz


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Enjoy the Peanuts gang in another collection of cartoons especially selected for middle-grade readers.
Snoopy is one small dog with one huge imagination! From day to day, he can be found stalking the other Peanuts characters as a fierce ready-to-prey vulture, leopard, mountain lion, piranha, or creature from the sea. But his grandest flights of fancy are when he's airborne as the Flying Ace on his Sopwith Camel seeking out the evil Red Baron. His forays take him through the World War I French countryside in repeated attempts to achieve his quest. In Snoopy: Contact!, enjoy his adventures along with his other unusual encounters: catching bird burglars stealing his Van Gogh, challenging Lucy to an arm-wrestling contest, and becoming the Cheshire beagle.

MY TAKE:
If you're a fan of Snoopy's World War I pilot persona, you'll love this book.

In Snoopy: Contact!, readers can follow Snoopy's many adventures and fantasies, especially his favorite World War I pilot persona who regularly battles the Red Baron.

Honestly, before this book, I was only mildly interested in the World War I pilot Snoopy comics, but seeing them together in a collection like this, I have come to appreciate it better. I saw at least one joke that worked better for me since it relied on me having read a lot of the other comic strips in that story ARC.

There were plenty of other story lines, both short and long, here too. My favorites among them were the one about the bird art thieves, and the one about Linus and the Great Pumpkin. A lot of the comic strips featured here were already familiar to me, since I used to read the comics page every day. However, they were still able to make me laugh, proving that they really are classics.

I think the only story line that I wasn't too fond of was the part wherein Snoopy became the manager of the baseball team and he was very mean to the kids on his team. It was kinda weird seeing him like that.

Aside from the comic strips, the back section contains the following features that kids will likely be eager to see: glossary of flying terms, song lyrics to the song Snoopy sings, how to make a paper airplane and jet, ad how to make a flipbook. Another bonus: the book has flipbook animation drawn on the margin of its pages.

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

THE GOOD:

  1. It's easier to appreciate the different story ARCs.
  2. A lot of the included comic strips are funny.
  3. The bonus section is an awesome extra feature for kids.

THE BAD:

  1. I don't really remember if Woodstock was in any of the comic strips here. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You're a fan of Snoopy.
  2. You want to introduce your child to Snoopy and his friends.
  3. You love books with bonus features. 

RATING:
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Tuesday, October 20, 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!

Love: a single word, a wispy thing, a word no bigger or longer than an edge. That's what it is: an edge; a razor. It draws up through the center of your life, cutting everything in two. Before and after. The rest of the world falls away on either side.         

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Monday, October 19, 2015

Review: The Storybook of Legends (Ever After High #1) by Shannon Hale


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
At Ever After High, an enchanting boarding school, the children of fairytale legends prepare themselves to fulfill their destinies as the next generation of Snow Whites, Prince Charmings and Evil Queens...whether they want to or not. Each year on Legacy Day, students sign the Storybook of Legends to seal their scripted fates. For generations, the Village of Book End has whispered that refusing to sign means The End-both for a story and for a life.
As the daughter of the Evil Queen, Raven Queen's destiny is to follow in her mother's wicked footsteps, but evil is so not Raven's style. She's starting to wonder, what if she rewrote her own story? The royal Apple White, daughter of the Fairest of Them All, has a happy ever after planned for herself, but it depends upon Raven feeding her a poison apple in their future.

What if Raven doesn't sign the Storybook of Legends? It could mean a happily never after for them both.

MY TAKE:
After reading practically nothing but YA dystopian and fantasy books for the past week or so, this book was a refreshing experience.

In The Storybook of Legends, the children of the storybook characters we know and love are only a short time away from claiming their destiny and following in their parents' footsteps. However, some of them aren't sure that's what they want to do. Raven Queen, the daughter of the evil queen, is especially afraid and unsure about following her mother's destiny. She doesn't want to be evil and she'll try everything to see if she can change her fate.

This is a coming-of-age tale set in a fairy tale environment. The setting makes it feel like this was meant for younger kids, and it probably is. However, the hints of romance between some characters makes this a possibly interesting read for older audiences as well.

Here, the focus shifts between Raven Queen and Apple White. Maddie Hatter also has some page time when she chats with the narrator. the portrayal tries to be fair to both girls, but Raven Queen is easier to sympathize with. Apple White seems a little vapid to me, even though she has good intentions.

The ending, in particular, makes me root for Raven Queen over Apple White. Apple is so concerned with her own happiness that she doesn't seem to think about Raven's future except in a naive light.

THE GOOD:

  1. It's an easy read.
  2. There are some really funny lines.
  3. The villains and heroes are portrayed as being a lot more human than you'd expect from fairy tale characters. 

THE BAD:

  1. The plot twists are easy enough to guess. 

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
“Raven heard a crunch. “Maddie!” said Raven. “You’re not supposed to eat the stone.” “Why not?” said Maddie. “It’s delightfully crunchy.” “How do you even do that?” Raven asked. “I mean, it’s a rock.” Maddie shrugged. “Sometimes things aren’t impossible the first time I try, because I don’t know they’re impossible yet. I probably couldn’t do it again, though.”
READ IT IF:

  1. You like fairy tale adaptations.
  2. You like stories wherein the villains are portrayed in a positive or more human light.
  3. You're not a fan of Snow White. 

RATING:
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Sunday, October 18, 2015

In My Mailbox


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

FROM NETGALLEY:



The Night Parade by Kathryn Tanquary

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Saturday, October 17, 2015

Review: Champion (Legend #3) by Marie Lu


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
He is a Legend.
She is a Prodigy.
Who will be Champion?
June and Day have sacrificed so much for the people of the Republic—and each other—and now their country is on the brink of a new existence. June is back in the good graces of the Republic, working within the government’s elite circles as Princeps-Elect, while Day has been assigned a high-level military position.
But neither could have predicted the circumstances that will reunite them: just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republic’s border cities. This new strain of plague is deadlier than ever, and June is the only one who knows the key to her country’s defense. But saving the lives of thousands will mean asking the one she loves to give up everything.
With heart-pounding action and suspense, Marie Lu’s bestselling trilogy draws to a stunning conclusion.

MY TAKE:
This book fell just shy of being amazing for me.

In Champion, the Colonies have broken the treaty and are finally attacking the republic. Now, June, Day, Anden, the Patriots and the rest of the Republic must fight back or see their country conquered for good.

This book was action-packed, which I liked. It wasn't just fight scenes, though, there are certain scenes wherein June or Day are in danger and you feel your heart pounding as you read. I think that's what I liked the most about this series. It reads like an action series, but there's a lot of romance as well.

The whole politics in the book was interesting as well. The Colonies were the enemy, of course, but you are reminded that not everything is in black and white. Countries and leaders are not perfect and they each have their own ways of making things work. Some are more evil than others, sure, but again, most are not pure evil. The wheeling and dealing that Anden does politically was a nice addition as well, and certainly how I imagined it happening in the real world.

The romance, however, is what I wasn't completely happy about. I liked most of June and Day's interactions, but towards the end, it got way too angst-heavy to the point that I felt like they, particularly June, was punishing herself unnecessarily. For a moment there, I thought this was going to be another Divergent, but it wasn't exactly, so it was slightly better, in a way. It's probably realistic, in the sense that others out there probably have had the same experience. The romantic in me wasn't too pleased with it, however, which is kinda strange in a way as well, since I think some people may think the ending is actually quite romantic.

THE GOOD:

  1. It's action-packed.
  2. It presents politics and countries in a realistic, sometimes harsh, light.
  3. Day and June are ultimately happy. 

THE BAD:

  1. It can get really angsty sometimes. 

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
“I’ve been searching a long time for something I think I lost.
I felt like I found something when I saw you back there.” 
READ IT IF:

  1. You like action-packed books.
  2. You like dystopian novels.
  3. You liked the first two books in the series. 

RATING:
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Friday, October 16, 2015

Review: Vader's Little Princess by Jeffrey Brown


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
In this irresistibly funny follow-up to the breakout bestseller Darth Vader and Son, Vader--Sith Lord and leader of the Galactic Empire--now faces the trials, joys, and mood swings of raising his daughter Leia as she grows from a  sweet little girl into a rebellious teenager.
Smart and funny illustrations by artist Jeffrey Brown give classic Star Wars moments a twist by bringing these iconic family relations together under one roof. From tea parties to teaching Leia how to fly a TIE fighter, regulating the time she spends talking with friends via R2-D2's hologram, and making sure Leia doesn't leave the house wearing only a skirted metal bikini, Vader's parenting skills are put hilariously to the test.

MY TAKE:
While I enjoyed Darth Vader and Son a tiny bit more, I still thoroughly enjoyed this book.

In Vader's Little Princess, the focus is now on Vader's relationship with Princess Leia from her childhood until she becomes a teenager.

I think I enjoyed Darth Vader and Son more because that book was entirely about Luke as a child. Here, there are many scenes wherein Leia is already a teenager, and while those scenes were funny, they weren't as cute. They were all still on-point, though. I think plenty of fathers and daughters will be able to relate to them.

For example, there's a scene wherein Darth Vader is teaching Princess Leia how to drive. My favorite sequence, though, is the one wherein Darth Vader subtly threatens teenage Han Solo by showing him the carbon freezing chamber.

If you're a Star Wars fan, even if you don't have a daughter, you really need to get your hands on this book.

THE GOOD:

  1. Fathers and daughters will be able to relate to this.
  2. There are some very funny sequences featuring Han Solo.
  3. It covers Leia's childhood and teenage years.

THE BAD:

  1. I would have loved a little bit more scenes from Leia's childhood. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You are looking for a perfect father-daughter read.
  2. You are a Star Wars fan.
  3. Your child loves Star Wars. 

RATING:
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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Review: Darth Vader and Son by Jeffrey Brown


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
What if Darth Vader took an active role in raising his son? What if "Luke, I am your father" was just a stern admonishment from an annoyed dad? In this hilarious and sweet comic reimagining, Darth Vader is a dad like any other except with all the baggage of being the Dark Lord of the Sith.
Celebrated artist Jeffrey Brown's delightful illustrations give classic Star Wars moments a fresh twist, presenting the trials and joys of parenting through the lens of a galaxy far, far away. Life lessons include lightsaber batting practice, using the Force to raid the cookie jar, Take Your Child to Work Day on the Death Star ("Er, he looks just like you, Lord Vader!"), and the special bond shared between any father and son.

MY TAKE:
I've been meaning to read this book for the longest time, and I kind of wish that I had gotten to it sooner.

In Darth Vader and Son, we get to see what might have happened if Darth Vader had been given the chance to be a regular father to Luke Skywalker.

I loved this book! It was such fun to see Darth Vader doing things that typical fathers do with their children. When put that way, it sounds a little boring, but in reality, it's very entertaining because not only does Darth Vader and the other characters here use variations of lines from the movies, there are plenty of cameos from other Star Wars characters we know and love. My favorite was the appearance of little Han Solo as the kid that Darth Vader didn't want Luke to play with.

When my child is old enough to read, I'm sure this is something my husband and he would enjoy reading together.

THE GOOD:

  1. There are cameos from different Star Wars characters.
  2. It uses variations of memorable lines from the Star Wars movies.
  3. There are some very funny scenarios here.  

THE BAD:

  1. I would have loved to see more of Leia. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You are looking for a fun book that your husband and child can read together.
  2. You are a Star Wars fan.
  3. You want to introduce your children to Star Wars. 

RATING:
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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Review: The Mutts Winter Diaries by Patrick McDonnell


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Yesh! Mooch, Earl, and all their endearing Mutts friends are back in this second Mutts collection for kids!
Mutts highlights the adventures of Earl the dog and Mooch the cat, best buddies who regularly come in contact with Shtinky Puddin', Sourpuss, Guard Dog, and Crabby--as well as an assortment of whimsically rendered humans. This cast is capable of endless antics, interspersed with thoughtful views on both the animal and human condition. And whether they're raiding garbage cans or basking in full-frontal belly rubs, Mooch and Earl always have a comment to clinch the scene.

MY TAKE:
Mutts is one of the comic strips that I always read when check the newspapers' comic section.

In The Mutts Winter Diaries, readers are treated to the adventures of Earl, Mooch and the gang during winter.

Aside from the comic strips, some of which were in black-and-white while the others were in color, there was also a feature at the end that explained the winter habits of some animals that you may see in your neighborhood, as well as what you can do to help them out during the winter.

While I wasn't laughing out loud while reading this book, I definitely still had a smile on my face. The characters are so cute and sweet, and while most of their adventures and ambitions were simple, they were still nice to read about, especially if it's snowing or cold outside or you just wish it was winter already. My favorite of the story lines was when Mooch was looking for his purr. That one was quite nice and charming.

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

THE GOOD:

  1. It's a nice winter read.
  2. The characters are sweet and lovable.
  3. It's a good collection of Mutts comic strips. 

THE BAD:

  1. This book may not be as appreciated by those who are only encountering Mutts for the first time.  

READ IT IF:

  1. You are a Mutts fan.
  2. You are an animal lover.
  3. You are looking for a fun winter read. 

RATING:
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