Saturday, June 20, 2015

Review: Death, the Devil, and the Goldfish, by Andrew Buckley

Title: Death, the Devil, and the Goldfish
Author: Andrew Buckley
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads: "From the Bahamas to Heathrow airport, to the rain soaked streets of London the dead have ceased dying. 

This is inconvenient for a number of reasons but what’s the real reason behind the chaos?

In London we find Nigel Reinhardt, a disgraced, confused, and gifted London police constable who owns a prophetic goldfish. In Ireland the Angel of Death questions the value and position of his current employment. At Majestic Technologies Celina McMannis works diligently on a top secret project. At the South Pole there lives a very unhappy penguin.
When the Devil hatches a nefarious plot to take over the world by possessing a cute little kitty and seizing a factory of robotic Christmas elves it’s up to Nigel and his group of unlikely companions to save the world or die trying… or both."

My Opinion: If you like British humor, you will love this book! I was very surprised to find out that this was Andrew Buckley's first book because it is crazy, totally out of control, and in my humble opinion, very, very well written. I can't imagine how he kept track of everything that was gong on because it was hard for me to do it, and I was just reading it!

The Devil possesses a cat and convinces Death, over many drinks in an Irish pub, to quit his job. Thus, people stop dying, or do die but can't get into heaven or hell without going through Death, which is becoming quite a nuisance! To add to the fun, we have a goldfish who can predict the future and sends out messages telepathically, but he has an attention span of 3 seconds so once he sends it, it's gone from his memory! My favorite part is how after each message is sent, he swims around his fishbowl and discovers the castle in it, again, and again, and again, and it makes him so happy every time!

My other favorite character is the penguin turned human, who has a very interesting way of viewing the world!

There is also a detective, a bunch of evil elves, including Eggnogg the dancing elf, an AI genius of Scottish ancestry, and many more, too many to list here! I loved them all, but the Angel of Death was especially fun because he traveled in a cloak of magic that made everyone who saw him or interacted with him in any way completely forget him as soon as they turned away, which made ordering a drink at a local bar somewhat difficult!

Overall I thought this book was terribly funny in a way that reminded me of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which I absolutely loved! There is a special kind of humor to these two books - what I've heard called throwaway humor, with one liners thrown this way and that, and each of them funnier than the one before. It is very entertaining and definitely worth your time to read. I recommend it to lovers of British humor, which is pithy and fabulous, and anyone who likes to reads Terry Pratchett, as this book brings his books to mind when you are reading it.

I give this book a very enthusiastic 5 stars :D

I received a copy of this book free of charge through NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Classic Elite Quick Knits: 100 Fabulous Patterns for Wraps, Socks, Hats, and More, by Classic Elite

Title: Classic Elite Quick Knits: 100 Fabulous Patterns for Wraps, Socks, Hats, and More
By: Classic Elite
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads: "Pair soft, supple yarns in eye-catching colors with timeless yet contemporary designs and you have answered every knitter's dream. For more than 20 years, the studios of Classic Elite Yarns have created enduring patterns that beg to be knitted with their sumptuous products. In this pattern collection, a follow-up to best-selling "Classic Elite Knits," the focus is on quick-to-make accessories. Knitters of all skill levels will love this value-packed collection of 100 patterns for socks, wraps, hats, gloves, bags, scarves, and more. Knitters can indulge themselves or find something to knit for every member of the family. The 120 color photos showcase the range of high-quality yarns as well, including cotton, wool, bamboo, angora, cashmere, and blended yarns. "Classic Elite Quick Knits "will keep knitters' hands busy for a long time to come."

My Opinion: Classic Elite yarns are some of my all time favorites to work with, and I love anything that is quick to make (I get distracted easily so long involved patterns are sometimes hard for me to stick with until they are finished!), so saying this is the perfect book for me is indeed an understatement! I also crochet and there are some crochet patterns in the book so that was a bonus for me. 

The description above describes the book perfectly so I'm not going to go over how many patterns there were, how many photos, etc. What I am going to say is that I loved this book! They have patterns that range from beginner to experienced and the photos are spot on! I love making lace projects and they had plenty of those in the book, and I've been wanting to try some more advanced sock patterns, which they also had plenty of. Hats, scarves and mittens are always needed in my house, and are great quick projects to make for friends and family.

In summary, this is now one of my favorite quick knits books and I can't wait to delve into some of the projects! I would highly recommend it for beginning knitters all the way up to advanced knitters, with a touch of crochet thrown in to keep it interesting for people who enjoy both. This is a great book to check out when you have to make a gift quickly for someone you care about, or just to treat yourself. 

I give this book a very enthusiastic 5 stars :D

I received a copy of this book free of charge through NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Review: The Warrior Heir (The Heir Chronicles #1), by Cinda Williams Chima

Title: The Warrior Heir (The Heir Chronicles #1)
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads: "One March day, Jack Swift, a high school student in a small college town, forgets to take the medicine he’s taken daily since he was an infant. There ensues a cascade of events that puts him in mortal danger.

Jack discovers he carries a secret within him that has made him a target of the ruthless wizards of the Red and White Rose. Jack is a Warrior Heir, the last of a dying breed, sought after by the Roses to fight in the tournaments that are used to allocate power among the Wizard Houses. Unknown to him, Jack has lived all his life surrounded by members of the Magical Guilds: wizards, enchanters, soothsayers, and sorcerers. They are determined to save him from the Roses.

With the aid of his aunt, a beautiful enchanter, Jack desperately tries to acquire the skills that might save his life. Jack and his friends, Will and Fitch, unearth a magical sword from a cemetery and fight off the wizards who would take it from them. Jack begins training with the dark and dangerous Leander Hastings, a wizard with a mysterious past.

Meanwhile, Jack is torn between his attraction to Ellen Stephenson, a new student at Trinity High School, and Leesha Middleton, his former girlfriend, who decides she wants him back.
Discovered and besieged by treachery at home, he flees to the Lake District of England. There he is confronted by the greatest challenge of all. "

My Opinion: I received a copy of this book free of charge from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Jack Swift is just going about his normal life in a small town in Ohio, minding his own business, when he forgets to take his heart medicine and his life is changed forever. Jack finds out that there is a whole world of magic out there, and because he was born a warrior heir, he is being sought out by two warring factions of magicians and witches, the Red Rose House and the White Rose House. Warrior heirs are very rare so as soon as he is made known to the magic world, he is in grave danger, since the Houses don't exactly ask nicely for him to fight for them. The worst part is that since his mother and his aunt have shielded him from this world, he has no idea how to fight (he finds a magic sword which was passed down to him and which he has no idea how to use). He has to learn very fast though and gets help from strategically based people in his small town who, as it turns out, have been watching over him for years and who are ready to help him out now. My favorite relationship in the book is the one that Jack has with his two non-magical friends, Fitch and Will. Even though they don't possess magic, when Jack is forced to go on the run following a class trip to London, they go along with him, risking their lives and jumping feet first into a very scary unknown future, because they refuse to let Jack fight this battle alone. 

For me personally the beginning was a bit slow, and it took me a while to really get into it. but I'm glad I didn't give up on it. The rest of the story was very action packed and filled with adventure, and I really liked the boys and their aunt, and the boys' friend and Jack's former girlfriend, Leesha, who helps out as well, but I wasn't quite as fond of the new girl in school, Ellen Stephenson, who catches Jack's eye, because as I read on I found out that I am strongly "Team Leesha"!

I thought the pacing was a tiny bit off, moving quickly when Jack and company were fighting, but moving more slowly when they weren't, but it wasn't off enough to keep me from enjoying the book. I've read some other reviews for this book that mention teenage boys who really liked the book and even though they weren't big readers, they finished this book and gave it an A+, which is a huge recommendation! I plan on giving it to my son to read when he gets a little bit older based on these reviews because I'm always looking for books that appeal to teenage and pre-teen boys, so thank you very much for that Ms. Chima!

In summary, I thought this book started a bit slow but it more than made up for that in the end. Jack was a very likable character who fought against his destiny, but in the end, like all heroes, he accepted his fate and did what was required. I recommend this book to all teenage readers and lovers of YA fantasy books that deal with magic and witches and all of that fun stuff! I give this book an enthusiastic 5 stars because any book that has mature adults, young adults, and teens reading it and enjoying it deserves 5 stars :D

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Review: Viral Nation (Viral Nation #1), by Shaunta Grimes

Title: Viral Nation (Viral Nation #1)
Author: Shaunta Grimes
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads: "After a virus claimed nearly the entire global population, the world changed. The United States splintered into fifty walled cities where the surviving citizens clustered to start over. The Company, which ended the plague by bringing a life-saving vaccine back from the future, controls everything. They ration the scant food and supplies through a lottery system, mandate daily doses of virus suppressant, and even monitor future timelines to stop crimes before they can be committed.

Brilliant but autistic, sixteen-year-old Clover Donovan has always dreamed of studying at the Waverly-Stead Academy. Her brother and caretaker, West, has done everything in his power to make her dream a reality. But Clover’s refusal to part with her beloved service dog denies her entry into the school. Instead, she is drafted into the Time Mariners, a team of Company operatives who travel through time to gather news about the future.

When one of Clover’s missions reveals that West’s life is in danger, the Donovans are shattered. To change West’s fate, they’ll have to take on the mysterious Company. But as its secrets are revealed, they realize that the Company’s rule may not be as benevolent as it seems. In saving her brother, Clover will face a more powerful force than she ever imagined… and will team up with a band of fellow misfits and outsiders to incite a revolution that will change their destinies forever."

My Opinion: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion.

Clover is a high functioning autistic 16 year old girl living in a very difficult world. After a virus wipes out most of the world's population, the remaining citizens live in walled cities and make do with little food and really, little everything. Her brother, West, takes care of her and is her world since their father is buried in his work ever since their mother died of the virus right before the cure became available. Clover has always dreamed of going to the Waverly-Stead Academy but is forced to turn down her acceptance when they won't let her keep her service dog, who is her closest friend and companion and who keeps her from losing it when the outside world becomes too much for her to handle. She is then recruited to join the Time Mariners, a team of operatives who work for the Company, the agency who engineered and distributed the vaccine to the deadly virus and who now control all of the provisions including food, jobs, etc., and who now also control all of the rules the people must live with. The Time Marines time travel to gather news about the future, including crimes that will be committed. Whenever someone is found to have committed a crime in the future, they are killed in the present to prevent the crime from happening at all. When Clover's brother, West, is one of the people sentenced to death for a murder that he supposedly will commit in the future, Clover and he go on the run, along with a "band of fellow misfits and outsiders" to find out what is really going on with the Company. (I don't know if my description does it justice, but trust me, as you read the story, this all makes sense!)

First off, I absolutely loved Clover! It's pretty rare that a person with developmental disabilities is featured as a main character in a book, but she is very much the driving force behind the hunt for the truth. Even though she would prefer to be by herself, with just her dog and brother for company, she goes way outside of her comfort zone in terms of working with people she doesn't really know or trust, and fighting against authority, neither of which come easy or naturally to her. I also admired that the author never used Clover's autism as a way to manipulate the story line or as a way to garner sympathy for her - she was never depicted in any way but as a very strong 16 year old girl who happened to be autistic, and although I've read some reviews that have said it was difficult to like Clover because of her off putting personality, I didn't find this to be true at all. If you want to talk about personal growth, I can tell you that Clover grew immensely from the beginning of the book to the end, and I look forward to reading the rest of the series because I'm excited to see her continue this growth.

Now for the world building and plot: The post-apocalyptic/dystopian world in which the characters live is described in such a way that you feel yourself becoming immersed in it as you read, which is always what you hope for when reading a fictional account of a world that has gone to hell in a hand basket. You feel the desperation of the people and the hopelessness. I would give this book an A+ for world building! The plot is well written, evenly paced, and very exciting to read. I was drawn into the book immediately and stayed in it well after I'd finished reading it. Because of the characters and the plot line, and the excellent writing, this book sticks with you and makes you continue to think about it even after you've put it down for the last time. All of these things combined made it an exciting read for me and the reason that I would recommend it to lovers of YA dystopian/post-apoc fiction.

I give this book a very enthusiastic 5 stars and look forward to continuing the series :D

P.S.: I love the cover and give bonus points for that!!

Review: When Parents Text (So Much Said ... So Little Understood), by Lauren Kaelin and Sophia Fraioli

Title: When Parents Text (So Much Said ... So Little Understood)
Authors: Lauren Kaelin and Sophia Fraioli
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads: "A collection of insanely funny texts between parents and kids, When Parents Text is a surprisingly affecting window into the complicated time when parents aren’t ready to let go, and kids aren’t ready to be let go. The parents are well-meaning but hopeless, silly and a little corny, and befuddled by the technology. The kids are bewildered yet patient: the perfect straight man. And the authors, two recent college graduates, Lauren Kaelin and Sophia Fraioli, have an unerring editorial instinct to select the funniest, sweetest, quirkiest, most-telling exchanges.
Launched as a website just last year, is a phenomenon. It receives 300,000 to 500,000 page views a day, with features in The Huffington PostEntertainment WeeklyCollege Humor, and more. When Parents Text includes the best of texts from the website, plus more than 50 percent all-new material never before published.

Includes an emoticon glossary and 16-page color insert of MMS texts— multimedia messaging service, aka, bizarre photos from mom and dad. It’s the perfect gift for every text-savvy kid to give to his or her parents."

My Opinion: I received a copy of this book free of charge from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

My honest opinion is that I thought this book was very fun and very funny. There's not much I can say to describe the book since the description above and the title alone pretty much let you know what it is about, but I can tell you that I had some real LOL moments while reading it! I especially loved when fathers text or when grandparents are just learning how to text. I can happily say that my own mother still doesn't own a cell phone so I haven't had the pleasure of getting any publish worthy texts from her, but I do  intend to use some of the ones from the book to totally embarrass my own kids, since, as I tell them, that is my life's goal! 

I highly recommend this book if you need a little chuckle or if you are exasperated with your own parents' attempts to text you - you will definitely not feel alone after reading this book! In fact, I'm going to make stopping over at the website (which is still going strong) a must with my morning coffee to start my day off right :D 

I'm giving this book a very happy 5 stars :D

Review: Hollywood High (Hollywood High #1), by Ni-Ni Simone and Amir Abrams

Title: Hollywood High (Hollywood High #1)
Authors: Ni-Ni Simone, Amir Abrams
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads: "They’re the daughters of celebrities—the kind all the teen mags gossip about! But the It Girls of Hollywood High are about to discover that fame has a price. And no friendship—or romance—is safe….
London Phillips will diet as her mother demands. She’ll even date the billionaire her mother has chosen for her. But she won’t give up her secret hottie, Justice Banks. She and Justice plan to elope—right after he becomes a hip-hop superstar. All he has to do is seduce a media mogul’s darling daughter, Rich Montgomery, and a record deal is his! But he better remember London is really his girl…

Rich is so lucky to have a BFF like London. It was London who introduced her to dreamy Justice. Little does she know that her new heartthrob is about to cause a media explosion that will change this spoiled princess’s life forever…

Spencer Ellington hates to see a billionaire go to waste. That’s why she’s hooking up with London’s boyfriend, Anderson Ford. London may not be in love with Anderson, but she believes he’ll do anything for her. Just wait till she finds out the only thing Anderson is doing is Spencer…

Heather Cummings wants in with the It Girls to secure the spotlight for her actress mother.

But when she stumbles upon a secret about the father she never knew, she discovers she has ties to the clique so scandalous it may just bring Hollywood High’s in-crowd to their knees!"

My Opinion: I received a copy of this book free of charge through NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. 

This story is abhout four rich girls who call themselves the Pampered Princesses and go to a school called Hollywood High, which they rule from their table in the center of the lunch room. Their names are London, Rich, Spencer and Heather, and they are all about letting everybody else know that they are the creme de la creme of the Hollywood scene, and even though they try to put on a united front, the fact that they can't stand each other is pretty obvious to anybody within earshot. They turn on each other constantly and even though we find out that under all of their strutting and bragging they each have a crappy home life with pushy and even abusive parents, I found it very hard to care about them. They aren't very likable and they can be downright cruel when they don't get their way. They proudly admit that other than Heather, who plays a crazy character named Wu-Wu in a sitcom, they are filthy rich and famous for no "gawt-damn" reason at all. They are all about drama, drama, drama, and boys, boys, boys, and if they aren't the center of attention, they will act out and make sure that they are. 

At first glance, all you see are four spoiled little rich girls who expect everything to be handed to them on a diamond studded platter, but as you read on, you find out that all is not as it seems behind the scenes. They all have secrets that they try to  bury so no one will realize that they aren't happy at all with the way their lives are going and they have no one at home who really gives a damn what they do, as long as they don't end up in the headlines, which given the way that they act, is asking quite a lot of them! When they turn on one another, things get down and dirty real fast.

I have to confess that half of the time I had no idea what they were saying (due to some really crazy slang that I've never heard before) but I was always able to get the gist of what was going on. 

I really tried to feel something for these girls when I read about their tragic pasts and their parents, some of whom should never have been allowed to have children in the first place, but the way they talk and act makes them look like stereotypical rich bitches, and even worse than that, they were portrayed as needing a man to make them feel good about themselves, which is not the message I would want my daughter to take away from a book. I thought their behavior might change and that they might experience some personal growth by the end of the book, but I was very disappointed when they only seemed to get worse and worse. 

Don't get me wrong - there were some very funny parts of the book that made me smile while I was reading it, and there were flashes of insight that the characters experienced that I thought would make them clean up their acts a bit, but that didn't happen. They had no self control and when they got mad, especially at each other, the claws came out and it wasn't pretty.

Basically, I really tried to enjoy this book, and did in fact like some parts of it, but overall when I finished the book, I decided that I wasn't going to read the rest of the series since I expect it would be more of the same. It was a quick read and it might appeal to teenagers but I can't really recommend it just because I managed to finish it. As usual, I would tell everyone to decide on their own whether or not to read it as mine is only one opinion out of many. Because there were areas that were funny and there were a few insightful moments in the girls' lives, I am going to give this book 3 stars. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Review: Nice Shot, Cupid! (Myth-O-Mania #4), by Kate McMullan, David LaFleur (Illustrator)

Title: Nice Shot, Cupid! (Myth-O-Mania #4)
Author: Kate McMullan
Illustrator: David LaFleur
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads: "What a myth-o-maniac (old Greek-speak for "liar")! Zeus's version of the myths is completely wrong. It's time to set the record straight. For the first time ever, Hades, King of the Underworld, reveals the true story behind the myths.This laugh-out-loud series of fractured Greek myths by best-selling author Kate McMullan is irreverent, irresistible, and totally twisted.

That story about Cupid falling in love with the beautiful Psyche? What malarkey! He did accidentally prick himself with one of his own arrows and fall in love -- but with himself!"

My Opinion: I received a copy of this book free of charge through NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

This is my first experience with the Myth-O-Mania series of books and I have to say that I absolutely loved it! Since each book tackles a different myth, you don't have to read them in order to be able to follow what's happening, which is good for me because I plan on going back and reading them from the beginning, that's how much fun I had reading Nice Shot, Cupid! 

This book tells the"true" story of Cupid and Psyche according to Hades, God of the Underworld, because, as he puts it, "When it comes to myths, you can count on me, Hades, to give you the real deal." I have to admit that Hades has always been my favorite god because he's so dark and mysterious, dealing with the dead all the time, etc. Imagine my surprise when I found out that he has a wicked sense of humor and a great deal of love for his family, and mortals who may need his help. The humor in this book is tailored to the MG age group, i.e. "Yo, Hades!" Cupid said. "Am I ever glad to see you, man!" ... "Yo,  Cupid," I called back to him, wondering what exactly "Yo!" meant. He calls his wife, Persephone, P-Phone, and drives around in a chariot pulled by his steeds, Harley and Davidson!

Hades is also quite the romantic. When Cupid falls in love with Psyche but is too embarrassed to show her what he looks like (because in this series, Cupid is a teenager, covered in zits, with a mouth full of metal and greasy hair), he kidnaps her and takes her to one of Zeus's palaces where he speaks to her from behind a curtain (which she promises never to look behind), and figures that he'll keep her there like that until he gets through this awkward teenage phase he feels stuck in. Hades tries to help Cupid realize that he should be honest with Psyche and trust that she will see past his appearance to the love struck man inside, but unfortunately, Cupid's mother dearest, Aphrodite, shows up and all of Hades work goes to hell in a handbasket! 

This was really such a fun book that I would recommend it to all MG readers who love a good laugh and don't mind reading an alternative "truth" to all of our favorite Greek myths :D  I give this book a very enthusiastic 5 stars!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Review: The Forever Song (Blood of Eden #3), by Julie Kagawa

Title: The Forever Song (Blood of Eden #3)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads: "Vengeance will be hers.

Allison Sekemoto once struggled with the question: human or monster? With the death of her love, Zeke, she has her answer.


Allie will embrace her cold vampire side to hunt down and end Sarren, the psychopathic vampire who murdered Zeke. But the trail is bloody and long, and Sarren has left many surprises for Allie and her companions - her creator Kanin, and her blood brother, Jackal. The trail is leading straight to the one place they must protect at any cost - the last vampire-free zone on Earth, Eden. And Sarren has one final, brutal shock in store for Allie. 

In a ruined world where no life is sacred and former allies can turn on you in one heartbeat, Allie will face her darkest days. And if she succeeds, her triumph will be short-lived in the face of surviving forever alone.


My Opinion: I received a copy of this book free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion.

I've never tried to hide the fact that I think Julie Kagawa is a god, or goddess in this case, and she didn't disappoint me with the end of this trilogy! All of the loose ends were tied up beautifully and the characters remained true to themselves to the end. Jackal was at his snarkiest, Kanin was his usual stoic self, and Allie was as confused as she ever is, although more so after she lost her beloved Zeke. When she realized that remaining human would mean being in pain constantly, and rethinking her choices that led to his demise over and over and over again, she decides to take a page out of Jackal's book - she in essence turned off her humanity and embraced her evil side, much to Kanin's chagrin. But Kanin being Kanin, he didn't exactly call her out on her wicked behavior, he just acted "disappointed" in her, and who among us can say that when someone we look up to more than anyone else in the world, and whose values we strive to meet ourselves, gives us the "disappointed" look, we wouldn't feel the same. Although in Allie's case, acting out means killing vamps willy-nilly and not caring at all what havoc she wreaks as a result! Eventually Allie does see the error of her ways when she feels like she is becoming what Zeke hated most in vamps, so she decides to go after Sarren to get the cure for the disease that is killing both humans and vampires alike. She also vows to finally take Sarren out for killing Zeke, as she hopes that that will finally allow her some closure. But along the way she is in for some huge surprises, and yes my little opinionators, you will have to read the book to find out what those surprises are, and what they mean for Allie personally. I will tell you that they are total game changers for everyone on the canvas.

As usual, I can find no fault with Ms. Kagawa's writing. The pacing is perfect and the characters continue to grow and change from beginning to end. The amazing world they live in is written so that you feel you are there with them, which means it's very easy to escape your daily troubles and get totally immersed in the story. 

In summary, I loved this book and thought it was a fitting end to an awesome series. I highly recommend it to all lovers of YA paranormal books about vampires. I give it a very enthusiastic 5 stars :D