Thursday, September 4, 2014

Quick Review: ON THE FENCE

I did promise.

If you remember way long ago (aka back in November last year) I did a huge long post on some of Kasie West's stuff, including a bit on two books that would be coming out "soon". If you missed it and want to see it, hop on over here.

Filling in my handy-dandy quick review form, we have...

Title: ON THE FENCE

Author: The lovely Kasie West

Cover:


Goodreads says: 
For sixteen-year-old Charlotte Reynolds, aka Charlie, being raised by a single dad and three older brothers has its perks. She can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows—including her longtime neighbor and honorary fourth brother, Braden. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn't know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world of makeup, lacy skirts, and BeDazzlers. Even stranger, she's spending time with a boy who has never seen her tear it up in a pickup game.

To cope with the stress of faking her way through this new reality, Charlie seeks late-night refuge in her backyard, talking out her problems with Braden by the fence that separates them. But their Fence Chats can't solve Charlie's biggest problem: she's falling for Braden. Hard. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high


Favorite character: Charlie (who else?)

Favorite line scene: The baseball game or when Braden asks them to raise their hands. Read it and you'll understand.

Quick review:


In case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm a Kasie West fan. Her books are good romances, usually with simple plots but great writing. I liked how characters from THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US kept popping up. It was a good boy-next-door romance. Usually they end up a little boring and unrealistic, but I enjoyed how this one played out. Plus it wasn't all about the guy, which was nice. It didn't have that extra bit to kick it up to 5 stars, but it was a great fast read.

Starred review: 4/5


Monday, September 1, 2014

Look! It's (yet another) MMGM Fail!

Okay, I have been reading. But mostly ARCs.

See, I have a friend I love very, very much who lets me borrow their Advanced Reader Copies. So I can't blog about those because they aren't out yet and I'd feel bad about giving a review on how amazing it is. Then you have to sit there feeling all sad because you can't read them for another five months or so.

There will be a quick review later this week on a teen book that actually is out, so stay tuned for that!

Monday, August 18, 2014

MMGM fail

Umm... yeah.

I don't have a MMGM for you. or a review of a teen book.

Life has been so busy. I'm sorry!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Review of A TRICK OF THE LIGHT

I *don't* have a MMGM today. But I really wanted to share this book with you.


My summary:

There is an air of mystery to this book, and anything I say will give away to much. So this summary won't be very long.

Mike's life is falling apart. His life at home is degrading as school becomes an impossible maze he can't understand. But there's a friend-a voice in his head- who is there to help him regain control.

Goodreads tells us:

Telling a story of a rarely recognized segment of eating disorder sufferers—young men—A Trick of the Light by Lois Metzger is a book for fans of the complex characters and emotional truths in Laurie Halse Anderson's Wintergirls and Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why.

Mike Welles had everything under control. But that was before. Now things are rough at home, and they're getting confusing at school. He's losing his sense of direction, and he feels like he's a mess. Then there's a voice in his head. A friend, who's trying to help him get control again. More than that—the voice can guide him to become faster and stronger than he was before, to rid his life of everything that's holding him back. To figure out who he is again. If only Mike will listen.


My review (there will be spoilers. I'm warning you.):

This book is both moving and chilling. You will walk away from this book wowed, with lots of questions and things to think about. This is an eye-opening book. And all this magic is created in less than 200 pages. 

The narrator is the voice in Mike's head, which I thinks makes it more powerful. Most of the time, when you jump into a book, you trust the narrator and what he/she is saying. The narrator of this book is not to be trusted. And it's interesting to find an awesome book where you find yourself rooting against the narrator.

The plot is relatively simple, but that doesn't detract from the story. In fact, I think a complicated plot would actually draw away from this book's powerful message.

I love the characters. Mike was very well done. Sometimes I found Mike's mother to be a little unrealistic, but other than that, I thought all the characters were very good.

The magic in this book is in the writing style and the voice that tells the story. 

I would say this is a book for teenagers. I wouldn't hand it to anyone in elementary school. There isn't anything bad in it, but it just wouldn't be appropriate for that age group.

5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, August 4, 2014

MMGM: LOKI'S WOLVES

Okay, I have a confession to make.

I planned to do this book last week.

And then I didn't.

I've been failing EPICALLY lately, and I'm not really sure what to say. I've been doing a great job reading. Blogging? Not so much.

But I do have a MMGM this week! (That's worth something, right?)

Presenting...




LOKI'S WOLVES!

The second book in this series came out earlier this year and is even better.

I think I'm going to start doing my own plot summaries as well as posting Goodreads (unless I'm super busy).

Summary:

Matt Thorson is a descendent of Thor, just as Fen and Laurie Brekke are descendents of Loki. But they certainly aren't children of the gods. After all, the gods died a long time ago. But now the world is coming to its end as Ragnarok approaches. It's up to Matt, Fen, and Laurie to find the other descendents of the Norse gods so they can stand in for their great, great, great (something like that) grandparents in the final battle between gods and monsters.

Goodreads:

In Viking times, Norse myths predicted the end of the world, an event called Ragnarok, that only the gods can stop. When this apocalypse happens, the gods must battle the monsters--wolves the size of the sun, serpents that span the seabeds, all bent on destroying the world.

The gods died a long time ago.

Matt Thorsen knows every Norse myth, saga, and god as if it was family history--because it is family history. Most people in the modern-day town of Blackwell, South Dakota, in fact, are direct descendants of either Thor or Loki, including Matt's classmates Fen and Laurie Brekke.

However, knowing the legends and completely believing them are two different things. When the rune readers reveal that Ragnarok is coming and kids--led by Matt--will stand in for the gods in the final battle, he can hardly believe it. Matt, Laurie, and Fen's lives will never be the same as they race to put together an unstoppable team to prevent the end of the world.

Review:

I think the first thing you need to do is to stop comparing it to Rick Riordan's books. This book is something else. If you don't, I think you'll just find yourself disappointed. Rick is a great. It isn't fair to compare his books to anything other than the other greats like Harry Potter or Ranger's Apprentice.

This book doesn't have a lot of humor in it. The story is told from different third person perspectives (like HoO) and all the voices are very, for lack of a better word, stiff. It is as if they are myths themselves, being told by those who worship and fear the heroes.

There are pictures sprinkled throughout that add quite a bit to the story.

I feel that the characters aren't well defined in LOKI'S WOLVES, but they do grow a lot in ODIN'S RAVENS (the second book). The plot can be a little unrealistic, but you have to come up for air to realize that. And with so much action, there isn't much time to stop and take a breath.

There is a cliffhanger at the end of it, so make sure ODIN'S RAVENS is close by when you're nearing the end!

4 stars out of 5.

Monday, July 21, 2014

MMGM fail (yet again)

I've been reading a lot of YA lately, so I've had trouble finding a good MG book to do for MMGM. If you have a good MG book you think I should do, please email me or recommend it via the comments section.

*Hopefully* I can get back on track by next week.

Monday, July 14, 2014

MMGM fail

I'm so sorry, but I don't have a MMGM for you guys this week. Sorry! Life just got away from me again with all this work I have to catch up on.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Quick Review of VORTEX (INSIGNIA #2)

Title: VORTEX

Author: S.J. Kincaid

Cover:





Format reviewing: The beautiful hardcover that's sitting next to its friend INSIGNIA on my bookshelf

Goodreads says: 
The impossible was just the beginning. Now in their second year as superhuman government weapons-in-training at the Pentagonal Spire, Tom Raines and his friends are mid-level cadets in the elite combat corps known as the Intrasolar Forces. But as training intensifies and a moment arrives that could make or break his entire career, Tom’s loyalties are again put to the test.

Encouraged to betray his ideals and friendships for the sake of his country, Tom is convinced there must be another way. And the more aware he becomes of the corruption surrounding him, the more determined he becomes to fight it, even if he sabotages his own future in the process.

Drawn into a power struggle more dramatic than he has ever faced before, Tom stays a hyperintelligent step ahead of everyone, like the exceptional gamer he is—or so he believes. But when he learns that he and his friends have unwittingly made the most grievous error imaginable, Tom must find a way to outwit an enemy so nefarious that victory seems hopeless. Will his idealism and bravado cost him everything—and everyone that matters to him?

Filled with action and intelligence, camaraderie and humor, the second book in S.J. Kincaid’s futuristic World War III Insignia trilogy continues to explore fascinating and timely questions about power, politics, technology, loyalty, and friendship
.


Favorite character: Medusa. Read my review of INSIGNIA here for all the details of my love for her.

Favorite line: Must I decide? So many of them make me laugh!

Quick Review:
If you haven't read my review of INSIGNIA (located here) or my list of favorite books (right over here), you may not know my love for it. But I do. So when the sequel came out, I was very excited.

Now, not to say VORTEX isn't a good book. It's a great one. But it isn't quite as good as INSIGNIA. I think this is, in part, to the fact it is the middle book. The middle book (I find) is usually not as good as the first or last. See, the first one is the hook, the part that gets you into the world and meeting the characters. The last book is the large climax, where everything either explodes or is wrapped up nicely with a huge bow and given to the reader. The middle book allows you to get from that just-getting-settled-in ending of the first book to the beginning of the explosion/birthday combo. That's why I find the middle book to often not be quite as good as its first or last. There are, of course, exceptions, but this isn't one of them.

If you want more Tom, Yuri, Wyatt, Medusa, and Kincaid humor, dig in! You won't be super disappointed, so long as you don't go in looking for something better than INSIGNIA (I haven't found anything better than INSIGNIA).

Starred review: 4.6/5

Monday, July 7, 2014

Review of INSIGNIA

Okay, I'm going to be honest. I'm really scared to do this review because this book is one of my all-time favorites. If you met me, you could see the love on my face and the crazy way I wave my arms when I talk about it (I'm really sorry, random dude at the bookstore I hit in the face), but this the internet and these are just words and you don't see that.

Well, I'm going to try.

(This is so very scary....)

(I don't blame you if you don't want to read this huge post, so scroll down to the bottom to get a quick summary.)






(Excuse me while I have a breakdown. I can't even look at the cover without being overcome with love for this book.)

This book is very special to me. Very, very special. It was the first book on which I wrote fan fiction.

How can one even describe the love I have for this book? Find the most mushy-gushy book about romance where the girl just melts every time she sees the guy and insert that here. Because that's how I feel.

What Goodreads has to say isn't nearly enough, but here it is:

The earth is in the middle of WWIII in Insignia, the first entry in S. J. Kincaid's fast-paced sci-fi adventure trilogy perfect for fans of Ender's Game.

The planet's natural resources are almost gone, and war is being fought to control the assets of the solar system. The enemy is winning. The salvation may be Tom Raines. Tom doesn't seem like a hero. He's a short fourteen-year-old with bad skin. But he has the virtual-reality gaming skills that make him a phenom behind the controls of the battle drones.

As a new member of the Intrasolar Forces, Tom's life completely changes. Suddenly, he's someone important. He has new opportunities, friends, and a shot at having a girlfriend. But there's a price to pay. . . .

Even Veronica Roth knows how good this book is, as she stated, "Insignia expertly combines humor with a disarming and highly realistic view of the future. The characters are real, funny, and memorable. You won't be able to put this book down." 

I have to agree with Roth on the whole "won't be able to put this book down" because I spent most of yesterday reading INSIGNIA and its squeal, VORTEX.

On the subject of the characters being real, I have wanted to be Medusa for Halloween ever since I read this book in 2012, but due to my sensitive skin, I can't handle the make-up needed. Medusa is tied with all my other all-time favorites- Nico (PJO and HoH), Piper (Girl Who Could Fly), Sophie (School of Good and Evil, KEEPER), Tobias (Animorphs), and Halt (Ranger's Apprentice). Whenever I feel like an outcast and need to be strong, I call her up in my mind. I have so much more to say, but if I do, I know it'll come out all wrong and twisted and weird, so I'm forcing myself to stop now.

Tom is such a teenage boy. He's far from perfect and he doesn't even try to pretend he is. But he is real in that way. He's gifted, but there are people who are better than he is. Wyatt is perfectly balanced with her extreme braininess and social awkwardness. Kincaid finds a way to turn Vik, a character I would otherwise completely hate, into one I enjoy reading about. The back story of each character is well planned out and they all make so much sense.

The plot is constantly in motion. It takes you places you never thought it would, into a world that is a scarily real future for our society. Tom is constantly being thrown into messes- most of which are his own doing. This adds a refreshing twist, as today most of the characters only get out of messes. He doesn't give up, a trait that helps him just as much as it hurts him. 

Kincaid writes with lots of humor. I found myself laughing out loud while reading this book, especially at Vik and Tom's shenanigans.

The story sucks you in after you read only a single paragraph. You'll be delighted by the magic this book holds.

Quite a few people have told me their video-game addicts have found a way to love reading through this book, so I would recommend it to the thirteen to sixteen video-game lover you know.

A quick summary:

  1. Out-of-this-world-stunning characters
  2. Great humor
  3. Fast-paced, unpredictable plot
  4. Awesome world building 

I have to quote my post on HOUSE OF HADES as to the score:

"I loved it. Like 12/10 loved it. If I was an English teacher and this was a creative writing assignment, that student's grade would have been 500% because of the extra credit I added to this assignment."

So what what you waiting for? Read this puppy NOW!

MMGM: ALMOST SUPER

I'm still struggling to keep up with everything as my time off to move comes to a close and I see just how much work I have to do before I have to go back. But at least I have a MMGM for you guys!






Goodreads tells us:

Savvy meets The Incredibles in this fresh, funny middle-grade debut about two brothers in a family of superheroes who must find a way to be heroic despite receiving powers that are total duds.

Each leap year, on February 29th, at 4:23 p.m., every member of the Bailey family over the age of twelve gets a superpower. No one knows why, and no one questions it. All the Baileys know is that it's their duty to protect the world from those evil, supervillainous Johnsons.

Today, Rafter Bailey and his brother Benny are finally going to get their superpowers. Benny wants to be a speedy, and Rafter hopes he gets super strength so he can save the day just like his grandfather. But when their powers arrive, they are, well, duds. Rafter can light matches on polyester, and Benny can turn his innie belly button into an outie.

Suddenly Rafter and Benny's world is turned upside down. Especially when they realize that Juanita Johnson, the villain in Rafter's algebra class, thinks that her family are the superheroes and the Baileys are the villains.

What if everything Rafter thought he knew about superheroes turns out to be a lie? He may not have an awesome power, but with the help of Benny and an unexpected friend, he could just be almost super.


My review:

I was first introduced to this book when someone asked me what I would do if my superpower was turning an innie belly button into an outie. My questioning as to where they got such a question uncovered this book. Of course, I just had to read it after that.

And I am quite glad I did.

ALMOST SUPER is fast paced, with never a dull moment. In the beginning, we are given just enough of the world to understand what is going on. Small tidbits are given throughout the book, but never enough to make the story feel bogged down with too many details. 

The characters are likeable. I don't feel like I really got to know them that well, but I don't think that negatively impacted the story. I liked how Marion made Juanita a strong female character. In fact, I think I felt the most connected with Juanita, despite the fact we spent more time with Rafter and Benny.

No piece of information went wasted in this book, so when reading, be sure to stay alert!

I would recommend this book to middle-elementary boys who love comic books but not "real" reading material.

Monday, June 30, 2014

MMGM fail

With moving and everything, I'm way too flooded with boxes right now. I haven't even been doing much reading (sadly enough) due to how busy my life currently is.

I'll try to get something up this week, but no promises.

Sorry!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

It's NOT Just a Book- Review (and Other Awesomeness) on IT'S NOT JUST A DOG

I can't wait to share some bookish awesomeness on a new book in the Project Madison series by Pam Torres! So what are we waiting for? Let's do this!

Pam Torres was born in Utah, but grew up mainly in Kansas. She not only enjoyed playing Dorothy during tornado weather and digging Peter Pan-like underground forts she also played piano and ran cross-country. She started her family early, and had five energetic and creative children, and returned to school when the last one was four. She has fond memories of reading and playing with her children in between hefty amounts of volunteering at church and their schools. Several of her favorite memories are doing writers’ workshop, updating the art docent program, recruiting volunteers, working as the parent liaison for the curriculum team, publishing articles in the newsletter and directing a very popular after-school art club. 
Writing was the one constant in her life through all the struggles of single parenthood, stepparent issues and bringing a large family together. She continued to write her brains out in hopes of writing full-time one day. After five years in sales, she quit her well-paying job to write. Her supportive husband is her biggest cheerleader and she frequently acknowledges that she couldn’t have done it without him. 
The Project Madison Series is her debut middle-grade series. She organized Project Madison around its release and is donating 10% of her proceeds to the ASPCA®, animal shelters and other programs to benefit homeless or abused animals.

To learn more about her, I asked her to join me for an interview, to which she happily accepted!

Hi Pam! To get started, can you tell us three interesting things about you that people usually wouldn’t guess about you? 

 Let’s see, I’m a pretty open book, not many deep dark secrets here. Okay. I’m a wanna be bird watcher, which means I’m still learning to focus my binoculars and don’t have near enough time to dedicate to it seriously. Mondays are my favorite day of the week. Weird, right? I think I like the idea of the new week ahead and the possibility of filling it with awesome writing. And… I exfoliate and moisturize everyday.

Can you tell us a little about how your love for dogs came about? 

Ours is a long and arduous love affair. After a couple of large dog attacks, puppy losses and the added responsibility of caring for several dogs while trying to raise five children without support, I was exhausted. Overwhelmed with the work and emotional fortitude required, I didn’t have very much to offer the dogs or animals that came my way. I’d say I had a take ‘em or leave ‘em attitude. It wasn’t until after I had begun my research for writing the book, that I realized I’d not only missed out on a great opportunity but realized that these creatures are dependent on us. After all we bred them to be dependent and thus is makes us our responsibility to care for them. My love for dogs comes from a place deep inside where I believe our connection with the animals on this earth is vital to our survival, physically, emotionally and spiritually. This is came as more of an epiphany after hours and pages of research.

How did you get into writing?  

I’ve always been a writer. From an early age, writing became my way of understanding who I was in the world around me. As a professional writer, I’d say I’m still working at that and will probably continue to seek out the best word to describe, the best sentence to express and the most powerful paragraph to share my vision of the world, imagined or real, with others. If my words can connect others to each other and the world around them, I will be very satisfied.

Tell us a little bit about When Dogs Blog and It’s Not Just a Dog.

Both of these books are part of Project Madison Series starring Madison, a snarky almost twelve-year-old, who learns she has a special power to read dogs minds. She sees their memories and can even feel their pain or joy. The books share her adventures as she figures out this gift and rescues dogs in trouble. Along the way she learns important lessons about bullying, friendship, family and responsibility.

What are you working on right now?

I tend to be quite tightlipped about my projects until they come into the revisions stage. I will say that I am working on the last book in the Project Madison trilogy and this time I'm looking to my readers for where they'd like to see Madison go in this one. So I'm encouraging them to send me their ideas.
I've started a new adventure fantasy with some great characters who explore new worlds. But, that's about all I'm prepared to say. LOL

What inspired you to write the Project Madison Series? 

It started with my granddaughter, Kayla, who's loved dogs since she was a baby. Her first love was White Puppy, a fluffy stuffed dog who still holds an important place on her shelf. Then came Tasha, our Samoyed, a dear gentle lady who brought us love and loyalty, she's been gone for several years, but she'll never be forgotten. Kayla has grown into a compassionate animal lover and tween.
So I asked myself: Could I write a book that would appeal to middle grade children that involved dogs?  I didn't want to write the I-want-a-dog story. I wanted to write something that would entertain and bring awareness to the plight of dogs all over the world. The more research I did the more I realized how much I didn't know. I learned that I could have given Tasha and the other dogs in my life a more fulfilling life. I also became aware of all the dogs and animals in the world that need our help. So, Project Madison was born.

Can you tell us about your journey writing When Dogs Blog and It’s Not Just a Dog?

I’m still on this journey, I’m still learning what being a full-time writer and author is. I’m also learning about publishing at a time when things are really shaking up and the face of publishing is extremely fluid. I’m figuring out marketing and SEO and building a platform. It can be extremely overwhelming and sometimes it’s easy for me to forget why I’m writing in the first place.

Do you listen to songs while you write? If so, what are they? Do certain songs get you into a certain character’s head?

No, I’m a silent writer and can be easily distracted by music and television. Currently,when I'm listening to music, I enjoy Sarah Harmer, Lenka, Passenger, anything that has it's roots in folk music and features acoustic guitar.  

What character is most like you?

I’m not sure any of them are like me, I suppose there are parts of myself is all of my characters. More often than not, I admire my characters and wish I could be more like them.

What are some of your favorite MG/YA books?

This is a tough question, because different books and authors resonate with me for different reasons. I do have a few books that I can open to any page and find myself in complete awe of the words and images on the page. R.J. Palacio’s Wonder, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, Scott O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins, Sharon Creech’s Walk Two Moons, anything by Pam Munoz Ryan, Jerry Spinelli, Gary D. Schmidt… Good grief, we’ll be here all day, too many to name.

Who are your role models?

 If you can believe it, this is one of the hardest questions I’ve been asked. As defined by the dictionary, a role model is a person who serves as a model in a particular behavioral or social role for another person to emulate. I’ve realized I haven’t had many and it appears I’m not alone.
“In fact, a survey conducted by Ernst & Young identified lack of role models as one of the four key barriers that stand between women and success. According to the survey, 75% of the women who were interviewed had few or no models,” writes Zenaida Lorenzo in her article, “Role Models: The Missing Link For Women” in The Huffington Post.
So I took some time and really thought about this one and came up with some women that have touched my life in ways that have transformed me into who I am today and continue to inspire me.
My mother= At her knee, I learned about story, the value of books and the importance of finding my voice. At 73, she paints and writes always learning while aging gracefully.
Maya Angelou= She learned to speak her mind and continued to serve and bring people together through her words.
Elizabeth Kulber-Ross= Her courage to ask questions about death and grieving have been instrumental in understanding the stages of grief and loss. A transitional process we constantly go through.
Temple Grandin- An animal behaviorist who’s considered a philosophical leader in animal welfare and autism advocacy movements. See more of this in the next Project Madison book.
Arundhati Roy- The author of The God of Small Things and a political activist. Her quote is a mantra I strive toward.
“To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get use to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget.”

If you had a power, what would it be?

That’s easy, teleportation. I want to travel so bad but haven’t ever had the means to do it. It would be so awesome to go places just by thinking about them.

If you had one wish, what would you wish for? (No wishing for more wishes!)

Time. More and more time. Life is just speeding by way too fast!

What is your favorite quote or saying?

I have several but here are two: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” —Mahatma Ghandi
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” —Maya Angelou

And what would you tell people who want to become authors? 

READ, READ and READ some more. WRITE, WRITE and WRITE some more.

Any last thing you want to tell us?

Just a reminder that Project Madison is dedicated to welfare of all animals not only dogs and 10% of our proceeds are donated to the ASPCA®.


Now that we've met our author, let's get reviewing!

 IT'S NOT JUST A DOG is the second book in the Project Madison series. You can see my review of the first book here

Goodreads tells us:

School's out for the summer and straight-talking Madison and her friend Cooper have big plans for the summer: working at the kennel, training service dogs and creating a dog-walking business—besides writing her dog-blog. Her stepdad has agreed to make Lilly, Madison's foster puppy, a permanent member of the Morgan family, and Madison wants to make the adoption special.
When an injured dog is abandoned, Madison's determined to discover the truth about the orphaned dog. To crack this crime she'll have to sneak around some shady characters. It'll be tricky since her dad isn't happy about her animal detective activities. Her promise not to get into trouble won't be easy. Madison convinces Cooper to strike out on their own, but finds herself locked in a shed with no way out and Lilly is dognapped. She regrets her crime-fighting obsession and realizes her snooping has endangered everyone she cares about. Cooper rallies an unlikely group of rescuers to bust her out.
In the end Madison learns she can depend on her friends and her stepfather. And when it comes to people and dogs, relationships are never simple, and a dog is never—JUST a dog!


 My two cents:

Um... how do I put this?

THIS BOOK IS AMAZING. Not only did it continue the awesomeness from WHEN DOGS BLOG, it added to it. I immediately fell in love with a whole host of new characters that were just as real to me as the old ones. 

It was like Pam took all the awesomeness from WHEN DOGS BLOG, pumped it full of steroids, and stuffed it into IT'S NOT JUST A DOG. It somehow ended up better than the first book. Which I didn't think was possible. I was certain that something was going to be left behind in the sequel (something I see far to often), but nothing was!

I was not expecting a few things that happened, so extra points for surprising Birdie! 

If you read my review of the first book, you know I said this-

"I've honestly never been a big dog person...As a result, I'm a little scared around them (and they know I'm afraid). But this book gave me a new perspective on dogs...WHEN DOGS BLOG has actually made me feel better about dogs..." 

The second book continued to show me what amazing animals dogs are, and I'm happy to report that I have been feeling more comfortable around dogs now more than ever. It''s amazing that two books have helped rid me of one of my biggest fears. That shows true writing genius, something Pam Torres most definitely is!

Please do yourself a favor. Whether you're a dog fan or not, pick up this book and read it. You will not be disappointed! 
 

Excited to read IT'S NOT JUST A DOG? You can get it here:


There are TONS of prizes you can win! Enter and you could get one of these prize packages:
Grand Prize- Set of illustrations signed by the illustrators, set of bookmarks, official Netta recipe card with biscuit mold, full set of magnets, set of stickers, signed hard copies of both books in the series, and a dream catcher. 

First Prize- 3 illustrations signed by the illustrators, bookmarks, official Netta recipe card with biscuit mold, full set of magnets, set of stickers, hard copies of both books in the series.

Second Prize- 2 illustrations signed by the illustrators, bookmarks, official Netta recipe card with biscuit mold, full set of magnets, set of stickers, signed hard copies of both books in the series.

Third Prize- 2 illustrations signed by the illustrators, official Netta recipe card with biscuit mold, bookmarks, magnets, stickers, signed hard copies of both books in the series. 

Swag Packages- One 5x7 signed illustration, bookmarks, magnets, stickers, an ebook in the format of your choice. 

Enter right here!


You also have a few other ways to get some cool swag.

Facebook Page Contests- During the month of June the Project Madison Facebook Fan Page will be conducting contests and giveaways, so be sure to check there frequently for a chance to win some great prizes. 

Teachers and Parents: 
Anyone who emails (torres dot pam3 at gmail dot com) a JPG of a tween holding my book, a student or relative will receive a personalized letter from Madison and signed by Lilly dog. 
In addition, they will also be entered into a special drawing for an entire classroom to receive copies of the book and a visit from the author. (Sorry, this is for Washington State Teachers only.)  One entry per child, per picture. Be sure to include your school name, teachers name and contact information.

It's near the end of her blog tour, but you can also visit a few other blogs this month to get more Project Madison!


June 27- Reads 4 Tweens


July 1stBuried In Books

Monday, June 23, 2014

MMGM: WHEN DOGS BLOG


I'm going to give you a tiny hint- the special thing on the 25th has something to do with today's MMGM. But to know what, you're just going have to tune in for Wednesday's EPICNESS!

Before I spill anything important, I better start my MMGM!


WHEN DOGS BLOG is the first book in the Project Madison series by the fabulous Pam Torres. It takes us on a venture with Madison, an eleven year-old who isn't into boys and uses hash tags to express her deepest feelings.  Madison desperately wants a dog of her own, but her stepfather, Henry, thinks she's not ready for the responsibility and continues to make things difficult for her with his many "systems." She becomes friends with Cooper and together they start a blog and avoid Donald, the school bully who has taken a special interest in them.

I've pretty much told you the first half of the Goodreads blurb, but I'll paste it below.

(Oh, I blacked something out in the Goodreads thing because it is a pretty big spoiler. I'm surprised they put that on the book jacket.)

Goodreads says:

Life is getting way too tricky for eleven-year-old Madison Morgan. She’s not interested in boys, fashion, or the latest gossip, unlike her best friend Paige. Her stepdad, who she knows as Henry, has way too many systems around the house since her Mom died. To top it off, Madison and her new friend Cooper have become the “school project” of a bully named Donald. And all she really wants is a dog to call her own, but all she gets is the parental-brush-off. What is a straight-talking, spunky middle grader going to do?

Kids from ages nine to twelve years old are sure to get a laugh from Madison Morgan: When Dogs Blog, which tells the heartwarming story of the sometimes tough, frequently funny days of the wise-cracking, dog-loving Madison. When her dad arrives home with a scrawny brown terrier named Lilly, Madison is amazed to find she has an ability to understand dogs, their emotions, and often their pasts. However, her gift also leads her to uncover some extremely harmful activities that are happening in her very own neighborhood.

Frank, funny, and full of adventure, this book is a must for any middle grader, who is certain to be enthralled by this dog blogger.


My angle:

Quite frankly, I'm surprised Pam Torres isn't actually a tween. She captures the voice of a sixth grader so well. The pains of being "left behind" as her best friend joins the world of make-up and crushes sounds authentic. WHEN DOGS BLOG reminds you of the craziness tweens go through and forces you to look back to your years in sixth grade.

I wasn't super surprised when Madison put the pieces together, but I am rarely surprised by plots anymore (the worst thing about being a bookworm). I'm sure it will surprise other readers. There is one thing that makes the fact I saw through part of the plot a good thing; it shows the plot is well constructed with plenty of clues.

I've honestly never been a big dog person. I've never lived with one. My contact with dogs is limited to whatever I get when I go over to other people's houses. As a result, I'm a little scared around them (and they know I'm afraid). But this book gave me a new perspective on dogs. I think that reading WHEN DOGS BLOG has actually made me feel better about dogs. So if you are a huge dog fan, this is a great book. If you aren't a dog person, this book may make you feel better about dogs and may turn you into a dog lover (I'm not there yet, but maybe one day).

I'm surprised this book hasn't gotten more buzz, seeing how good it is. Madison is far from a cardboard character. Every character is more than a cardboard cutout! Madison's voice is fun and very addicting. You should definitely hand this book to the middle-grade dog-lover in your life. You won't regret it, unless they were like me as a child*.

This is a great book to read for fun, but it has a great amount of potential to be an amazing book to teach. 

I don't want to give it a rating because I know whatever I give it, I'll wish I'd given it something else. I'm upset over the Goodreads review I gave it just a little while ago (4.5 out of 5? What was I thinking?!).

*Let's just say sometimes other people's priorities were wrong. Books before homework, right? Apparently, they didn't think so...

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Ready for EPICNESS?

Becuase it's coming. Shortly. Mega giveaway. An interview. That's all I'll say for now.

But prep yourself, because it's coming.

On June 25th!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

When Books Become a Problem

Today was very unproductive.

I should have been packing, but I had a book to pick up from my local bookstore. As soon as I entered the store, all sense of time and the amount of money in my bank account disappeared. I walked out of there a while later and with four a couple of new books I had not planned on purchasing.

And a few more titles for my extremely long TBR list.

Then, of course, I simply had to start one of them. Next thing I know, an hour and a half a small span of time has passed and I'm done with one book and halfway through the next one.

Why do I not have any self-control when it comes to books?

Does anyone else have this problem?

DOES ANYONE KNOW HOW TO CURE THIS PROBLEM?!!

Monday, June 16, 2014

MMGM: DARK LORD

Yes, everyone! I've finally gotten (mostly) out of that cave I was telling you about, so it's time to FINALLY do a MMGM!

I'm getting back into this blogging thing, so please bear with me as I brush the dust off and get back into the swing of things. I'm trying to post multiple times a week now, and I'm doing more giveaways, so please, PLEASE check back! :)

So here we go...







Goodreads says:

Greetings, Puny Humans:

In your hands, you are holding a tome of staggeringly evil genius. It is not for the faint of heart or for the whining masses. It is for those willing to serve as my devoted minions while I plan my greatest feat yet: surviving life as a human boy and returning to my rightful place as the ruler of the Dark Lands. Before I can exact my revenge, I must infiltrate this world and learn its ways.

How, you might ask, is it possible that I, the Dark Lord, the Master of the Legions of Dread and Sorcerer Supreme, could be reduced to human form? And how is it possible that the Lord of darkness could be forced to attend school and befriend such pitiful life forms?

Only by reading my tale will you learn the truth behind the cataclysmic defeat that left me stranded on this accursed planet, Earth. But make no mistake, revenge will be mine... as soon as I finish my homework. Mwah, hah, ha!

Yours insincerely,
Dirk Lloyd
(aka the Dark Lord)


Why I'm singing praises:

The writing style is similar to that of WIMPY KID, but the story is in a class of its own. I have not yet found a book that I could compare to this one. 

The story is not overtaken by Dirk's search to discover if he really is the Dark Lord. There is other stuff going on as well- school, a few bullies, a maybe-crush, and the regular pains of being thrown into a world where magic either doesn't exist or isn't working.

There are lots of great scenes where Dirk is totally in control and showing his Dark Lord-ness and other scenes where you doubt how he could be anything other than a boy.

The writing is in a simple style and there are lots of fun pictures places throughout the book. I would recommend it to children in late elementary school or early middle school who like a little bit of a darker fantasy and comedy. I would give it 4.5 stars out of 5.

So is he really the Dark Lord? You'll just have to ready this great book to figure that out!

Monday, May 19, 2014

MMGM: CODENAME ZERO

After another period of darkness (there is light coming, I swear!), I'm finally back!

This time I have a MMGM feature with the book CODENAME ZERO.





In case you can't really read those tiny letters at the bottom of the page, this book is by Chris Rylander. Sound familiar? He's the author of THE FOURTH STALL, a book that is a member of my endless TBR pile. *sign* There is just so little time.

Goodreads calls it:
Seventh-grader Carson Fender finds out there's more to his sleepy North Dakota hometown than meets the eye in this hilarious mash-up of middle-school story and spy adventure novel from the author of The Fourth Stall.

There are places in the world where heroes are born. There are places where brave men and women fight a never-ending battle against evil in order to keep our country and all other countries safe. There are places where the fate of our planet is being decided, even now as we speak, the consequences of which will echo through history.

None of these places are in North Dakota.

Carson Fender, seventh grader and notorious prankster, knows this. He's lived in North Dakota for his entire life, going to the same boring school every day, the same boring movie theater every week, and the same boring state fair every year. Nothing ever changes, and nothing ever happens. That is, until today. Because today a desperate man is going to hand him a package with a dire set of instructions. And that package is going to lead Carson to discover that there's a secret government agency operating in his small, quiet North Dakota hometown.

And that this agency needs his help.


I say:
I've been reading a lot of YA recently, which is not surprising because a lot of YA books I'm following come out in spring (one of the reasons I didn't have a MMGM last week), so it was nice to get back to a MG book. Sometimes enough romance is enough, right?

The book was appealing in a weird sort of way, kind of like a funky-smelling cheese that you can't stop eating. The characters aren't realistic because they are so busy being larger-than-life and funny. I wouldn't say this book is laugh-out-loud funny, but it is one that will have you chuckling.

Plot-wise, this book was pretty straight forward. I kept expecting some giant twist to happen, but, alas, my guesswork turned out to be worth less than the fainting goats.

The writing was fairly simple, so I don't see this book being a difficult read for the targeted age group (eight to twelve year-old children).

Altogether, this book was interesting- maybe not as interesting as Dillon's theories, but still interesting- and very enjoyable. I would recommend it.

4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, May 5, 2014

MMGM: The Wrath of Darth Maul

Warning: my brain is fried right now. I am sorry about all mistakes!

I'm not actually a huge Star Wars fan. I picked up this book because it looked interesting. How could I not? The first page grabbed at me, the little snippet on the back sparked my interest, and the cover looked crazy.

It is a little weird, but the title is on the spine, not the cover. The author is Ryder Windham.

Goodreads has only a little bit on this book:

The most anticipated Star Wars biography yet!

One of the most feared villains of all time.

One of the most iconic characters of the Star Wars saga.

One incredible story.

Features new, never-before-told secrets about Darth Maul!

The beginning was different than what I expected. I thought we would see some of his family, maybe learn his rage was fueled by their deaths. Hint: it's not.

We follow Maul as he trains with his master. His master has special powers that Maul doesn't understand- that is, until an accident causes his master to figure out that he has potential to control these special powers. Little by little, Maul learns of the force and the evil Jedi. Fueled by a desire to prove to his master that he is not weak and worthy to become not only his apprentice but also a Sith lord in his own right, Maul is faced with many difficult challenges.


From a purely story-based standpoint, the book is good. You really get a feeling for who Darth Maul was. The author's intention was to make you feel sorry for him, but I really didn't get that from it. I got a sense of understanding.

I think there are some hidden secrets for die-hard Star Wars fans. There were a lot of characters that I felt were people I should know.

If you like Star Wars, READ IT. If you are looking for a light read or a book for, say, an eight year old who likes star wars but won't read, check this out.

4 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Out of the Cave and review on PANIC

Hello!

Yes, I know. I haven't posted AT ALL for the whole month of April. Zilch. Nada.

But I really needed a break. Getting ready to move, selling my house, and then there's all the regular craziness of life.

But it's May and I'm turning it all around with a review of PANIC.


Yes, I'll admit that the cover isn't exactly the loveliest. But, like they always say, don't judge a book by its cover.

Or its blurb, for that matter. After all, it Goodreads says:

Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn't know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.

My first thought was HUNGER GAMES!, but it is actually very different.

Not only is the point of the game (feeling sheer fear or panic) different, the characters and plot also varied quite a bit from HUNGER GAMES.

I loved the plot. Not only did I find quite a few twists and turns hidden throughout it, but there were TONS of awesome moments. I'd rattle them off, but I don't want to ruin it! :)

I thought that Heather was a great character, although her "type" is nothing new; she is simply someone who wants to get away from her small hometown and substance-dependent mother. However, this fit into the story quite well. Dodge was a surprise and a little hard to figure out. I think I would have liked Dodge a little better if he was a little more developed in the beginning.  I got a good feeling for him two-thirds the way through, and I wish we could have connected earlier.

A little more Bishop, maybe a POV or something would have been EPIC, but I can deal with what Lauren Oliver gave me. And I understand why there isn't one. But, maybe a companion book?!

The characters were very real and had their flaws, which made them great.  You won't see this book showing up on any of these posts.

Not only that, but the writing was stunning. Not only was it addicting, it was fast-paced and never gave me a second to come up for air.

I really can't say enough good when it comes to this book. Lauren is a very talented writer.

Because of the so-so Dodge beginning, I'm going to give it a 4.85 out of 5.

Monday, March 24, 2014

MMGM:SPRINKLES AND SECRETS

First of all WOOT WOOT! 1600 views in ATH (all time history).

I must say I'm so sorry for typos. It's late and I'm so tired right now. But I wanted to get something up. Only five posts in March and we have only a week left.


Some of you might remember the MMGM I did on IT’S RAINING CUPCAKES. Well, today I’m reviewing the second book in the series, SPRINKLES AND SECRETS.

The review for the first book can be found over here.

Goodreads:
In this companion novel to It's Raining Cupcakes, twelve-year-old Sophie has a dream come true when she's offered a TV commercial spot. She's not just happy about the opportunity, she's over the moon happy!

But then she finds out what exactly she'll be advertising: the delectable, ever-popular brownies from Beatrice's Brownies, which just so happens to be the number one competitor to It's Raining Cupcakes, a cupcake shop owned by her best friend, Isabel's, family.

Sophie has a tough choice to make: Follow her dreams or crush her best friend. What's a girl to do?

My synopsis:

This book is told from Isabel’s friend’s point of view. Sophie wants desperately to be an actress, so when her agent offers her a chance to audition for a part in a commercial, she jumps at it. But things get chocolate-fudge-messy when she learns what company is holding the audition. It’s Beatrice’s Brownies, It’s Raining Cupcakes’ biggest competitor. 

Sophie tries to keep it from Isabel, hoping she can keep their friendship. But what happens from there isn’t just sprinkles and rainbows. It’s ice-cream-soup-chaotic!

My review:

The plot was pretty straight forward. Character A gets something that will make friend B get mad, so A lies to B. B finds out and gets mad at A. A does something for B. B forgives A. 

I like how you see how A gets B to forgive them. Sophie was pretty creative in doing something for Isabel.

Even though it was a really obvious plot, the characters were good and loveable. I felt the writing was good. I thought Isabel could have been portrayed a little better, especially since I’ve been in her head for the first book, so I know how she thinks. 

 I think I'd give it about 3.25 out of 5. That's a solid "liked it".

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

And the winner is...

The winner of a copy of NUMBER THE STARS is...

Suzanne Warr

Suzanne, you have one week to email me at birdie(dot)on(dot)books(at)gmail(dot)com to claim your prize! A special thanks to everyone who entered!


Monday, March 17, 2014

MMGM fail

And... I failed. Again.

So no MMGM.

And I'm so busy I haven't had time to go through the NUMBER THE STARS entries.

Yeah. I know.

I PROMISE I'll have them by Wednesday.

Monday, March 10, 2014

MMGM: MY BASMATI BAT MITZVAH

Hello everyone! I've finally gotten my life back in some crazy form that borders normal. That is, if normal is super crazy and stressful.

I can NOT wait until I get another break. Life. Is. HECTIC.

Now, I'm not doing a giveaway for this book, but I DO have one going on RIGHT NOW. If you want to get a piece of the action, you can win a FREE copy of NUMBER THE STARS by Lois Lowery right here! And since I reply to all my comments, there are only actually FIVE entries currently! So get on that pronto and you could be getting some bookish awesomeness in the mail pretty soon.

But hurry! It ends on March 13th at 11:59 pm!

(Now I sound like I'm doing a commercial. Great.)

Let's get back to the real reason we are here.



MY BASMATI BAT MITZVAH 
By Paula J. Freedman

In case you can't read the green writing at the top, it says the following: Just your average Jewish-Indian-American girl.

Isn't that just an awesome way to sum up this awesome book?

I'm going to let Goodreads say its bit:

During the fall leading up to her bat mitzvah, Tara (Hindi for "star") Feinstein has a lot more than her Torah portion on her mind. Between Hebrew school and study sessions with the rabbi, there doesn’t seem to be enough time to hang out with her best friend Ben-o--who might also be her boyfriend--and her other best friend, Rebecca, who’s getting a little too cozy with that snotty Sheila Rosenberg. Not to mention working on her robotics project with the class clown Ryan Berger, or figuring out what to do with a priceless heirloom sari that she accidentally ruined. Amid all this drama, Tara considers how to balance her Indian and Jewish identities and what it means to have a bat mitzvah while questioning her faith


My review:

This was a great book! Tara is really interesting and I loved her so much. She felt very real to me. I loved how Paula really gave her a personality. I feel like I know Tara and she's not some book character. 

I also liked the level of depth given to each character. I could understand where they were all coming from, even if I didn't agree with what they were doing.

There is a little romance in it. It is part on the conflict, but it adds to the story and makes it feel a little more real in my opinion.

I think I would have liked it a little better if her relationship with Ben-o turned out differently, even though I lived the small amount of romance in the story. Once you get to her age, a few people start "dating", but sometimes I wish the main character would just pull a Quentin (read Heartbreak Messenger to understand!). They are in Middle School.

All in all, it was a great book about growing up and being who you are- even if that means being Jewish-Indian-American.

Worthy of 4 stars.