Monday, March 31, 2014

Book Review: Carniepunk - Various authors

Carniepunk - Various Authors
The traveling carnival is a leftover of a bygone era, a curiosity lurking on the outskirts of town.  It is a place of contradictions--the bright lights mask the peeling paint; a carnie in greasy overalls slinks away from the direction of the Barker's seductive call.  It is a place of illusion--is that woman's beard real?  How can she live locked in a watery box?

And while many are tricked by sleigh of hand, there are hints of something truly magical going on.  One must remain alert and learn quickly the unwritten rules of this dark show.  To beat the carnival, one had better have either a whole lot of luck or a whole lot of guns--or maybe some magic of one's own.

Featuring stories grotesque and comical, outrageous and action-packed, Carniepunk is the first anthology to channel the energy and attitude of urban fantasy into the bizarre world of creaking machinery, twisted myths, and vivid new magic.

3/5 stars (liked it)
I mainly got this book for the Rachel Cane story.  I ended up liking most of the stories, including the Rachel Cane one.  I really like that the main theme of this anthology is the carnival.  It was interesting to see where all the authors took this theme to.  I really liked the Mermaid story at the end, I think that one was my favorite.

Book Review: The House on Mango Street - Sandra Cisneros

The House on Mango Street
Told in a series of vignettes stunning for their eloquence, this memoir (?) is Sandra Cisneros's greatly admired story of a young girl's growing up in the Latino section of Chicago.

2/5 stars (it was Ok)
Maybe it's because it's told in vignettes, which I guess I'm not too fond of, but I did not care for this book.  I really wanted to know more about Esperanza and what her life was like but what I got was little stories about her neighbors and just a little bit about her.  I realize that her neighborhood told a lot about her but I wanted to see her home life more.  Also not quite sure how much time passes from the beginning of the book until the end.  It was a very short book and did not take me long to read.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Book Review: Wonder - R.J. Palacio

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school--until now.  He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be.  The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face.  But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?

R.J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next.  With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.

4/5 stars (really liked it)
My 9 year old son and I read this book together.  He liked Auggie right away and was laughing along with him.  Plus I saw so many similarities in Auggie as I saw in my own son, they both love Star Wars and they are both so close in age.  I felt like R.J. Palacio really captured how the mind of a little boy works and it sounded so real.  This book also made me tear up, when kids were not very accepting and adults as well.  I think this book was great in teaching both parents and adults not to stare, or be rude just because someone looks different.  At the end of the book I asked my son what he liked about this book.  He told me he really liked Auggie and wished that he went to his school so he could be friends with him.  I also like how this book is not just told from Auggie's point of view.  You get to hear how it's been like for his sister Via, her new boyfriend Justin, Auggie's friends Summer & Jack and also an old friend of Via's Miranda.  Great book for all ages.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Book Review: How to Succeed in Business Without Really Crying - Carol Leifer

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Crying
For many years, television comedy was an exclusive all boys' club--until a brilliant comedian named Carol Leifer came along, blazing a trail for funny women everywhere.  From Late Night with David Letterman and Saturday Night Live to Seinfeld, The Ellen Show, and Modern Family, Carol has written for and/or peformed on some of the best TV comedies of all time.

This hilarious collection of essays charts her extraordinary three-decade journey through show business, illuminating her many triumphs and some missteps along the way--and offering valuable lessons for women and men in any profession.  Part memoir, part guide to life, and all incredibly funny, How to Succeed in Business without Really Crying offers tips and tricks for getting ahead, finding your way, and opening locked doors--even if you have to use a sledgehammer.

3/5 stars (liked it)
I received a copy of this book through Quirk Books.  I must admit that I did not really know who Carol Leifer was until I go the book.  But even though I didn't know who she was I enjoyed her book.  She tells her story of how she started out as a comic and all the things she did and people she met to get her to the success that she is today.  Her book was filled with many great tips that can be used in any profession.  Also she made me laugh several times.  I loved the pictures of herself with celebrities throughout her career.  Overall a fast read and enjoyable.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Book Review: City of Fallen Angels - Cassandra Clare

City of Fallen Angels - Cassandra Clare
City of Fallen Angels (The Mortal Instruments, #4)
The Mortal War is over, and sixteen-year-old Clary Fray is back home in New York, excited about all the possibilities before her.  She's training to become a Shadowhunter and to use her unique power.  Her mother is getting married to the love of her life.  Downworlders and Shadowhunters are at peace at last.  And--most importantly of all--she can finally call Jace her boyfriend.

But nothing comes without a price.

Someone is murdering Shadowhunter, provoking tensions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters that could lead to a second, bloody war.  Clary's best friend, Simon, can't help her - his mother just found out he's a vampire, and now he's homeless.  When Jace begins to pull away from her without explaining why, Clary is forced to delve into the heart of a mystery whose solution reveals her worst nightmare: she herself has set in motion a terrible chain of events that could lead to her losing everything she loves.  Even Jace.

4/5 stars (really liked it)
This story takes off after the end of the third book.  Clary and Jace are happy together, Simon is a vampire with the mark that Clary put on him to protect him as well as being a Daylighter.  But not all is a happy as it seems.  Jace is plagued with nightmares, which he's too afraid to share with Clary and begins to pull away from her.  Simon is an outcast and there are other Downworlders out to get him and he needs to come to terms that he is no longer human.  Also there is Alec and Magnus who are happy on vacation.  This story is filled with many of the characters we have grown to love.  I can't wait to read the next one.

Book Review: Still Alice - Lisa Genova

Still Alice
Genova's debut revolves around Alice Howland - Harvard professor, gifted researcher and lecturer, wife, and mother of three grown children.  One day, Alice sets out for a run and soon realizes she has no idea how to find her way home.  It's a route she has taken for years, but nothing looks familiar.  She is utterly lost.  Is her forgetfulness the result of menopausal symptoms?  A ministroke?  A neurological cancer?  After a few doctors' appointments and medical tests, Alice has her diagnosis, and it's a shocker--she has early-onset Alzheimer's disease.
What follows is the story of Alice's slow but inevitable loss of memory and connection with reality, told from her perspective.  She gradually loses the ability to follow a conversational thread, the story line of a book, or to recall information she heard just moments before.  To Genova's great credit, readers learn of the progression of Alice's disease through the reactions of others, as Alice does, so they feel what she feels--a slow building terror.

3/5 stars (liked it)
This book was very emotional.  You get to know Alice so well and see how the progression of the disease affects her daily life as well as her relationship with her husband, co-workers and children.  In a sense it bring her closer to her children but in another it takes her farther away.  A very sad story in the sense that you know you will lose the Alice you met in the beginning.

Thursday, March 06, 2014


My pets Ares the cat and Apollo the dog.  Just trying out the blogger app on my phone.

Book Review: Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab – “Science Bob” Pflugfelder & Steve Hockensmith

Nick and Tesla's High-Voltage Danger Lab: A Mystery with Electromagnets, Burglar Alarms, and Other Gadgets You Can Build Yourself
Nick and Tesla are bright 11-year-old siblings with a knack for science, electronics, and getting into trouble.  When their parents mysteriously vanish, they’re sent to live with their Uncle Newt, a brilliant inventor who engineers top-secret gadgets for a classified government agency.  It’s not long before Nick and Tesla are embarking on adventures of their own—engineering all kind of outrageous MacGyverish contraptions to save their skin; 9-volt burglar alarms, electromagnets, mobile tracking devices, and more.  Readers are invited to join in the fun as each story contains instructions and blueprints for five different projects.

In Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Lab, we meet the characters and learn how to make everything from rocket launchers to soda-powered vehicles.  Learning about science has never been so dangerous—or so much fun!

4/5 stars (really liked it)
I received a copy for review from Quirk Books.  My 9 year old, who read at a middle school level actually plucked this from my hands and read it first.  He carried the book around for the day and bookmarked all the projects for us to do.  At the end of the book I asked him what he thought of it and he said he really enjoyed the story, the characters and the projects.  After prying the book away from him (as he likes to read books more than once) I was able to read it.  I thought it was a fun book and perfect for kids.  It had mystery and science combined into one book.  I love how the ending still leaves you with some questions.  

Book Review: Nick and Tesla's Robot Army Rampage: A Mystery with Hoverbots, Bristle Bots, and Other Robots You Can Build Yourself - Pflugfelder & Hockensmith

Robot Army Rampage: A Mystery with Hoverbots, Bristle Bots, and Other Robots You Can Build Yourself - Pflugfelder & Hockensmith
Nick and Tesla's Robot Army Rampage: A Mystery with Hoverbots, Bristle Bots, and Other Robots You Can Build Yourself
When a rash of robberies hits the town of Half Moon Bay, 11-year-old sleuths Nick and Tesla are determined to catch the criminals--but to do so, they'll have to build a host of new gadgets and gizmos!  In this robot-themed follow-up to Nick and Tesla's High-Voltage Danger Lab, the brother-and-sister duo build four different droids out of ordinary household objects--and illustrated instructions are included throughout the story, so you can build them, too!  Can Nick and Tesla catch the criminal mastermind--and foil his army of rampaging robots--before it's too late?

4/5 stars (really liked it)
I received a copy of this book from Quirk Books.  My 9 year old son was very excited to be receiving the second book in this series since he really enjoyed the first book.  He liked this book even more than the first one.  I was able to read this book after him and it was an enjoyable book.  I had my suspision on who the bad guy was and I was actually wrong.  I love how creative Nick and Tesla are.  I was glad to see the introduction of a love interest for Uncle Newt.  I love the kids' reactions to his new friend.  I will definitely and I think my son agrees that we will read the next book as well.

Book Review: Blood Fury - JR Ward

Blood Fury - JR Ward A vampire aristocrat, Peyton is well aware of his duty to his bloodline: mate with an appropriate female of his cl...