Saturday, September 22, 2018

In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis


Synopsis:
A dangerous disease strikes the community where teenage Lucy lives. When her adoptive mother, Lynn, takes Lucy away from their home and friends in order to protect her, Lucy struggles to figure out what home means. During their journey west to find a new life, the two face nature's challenges, including hunger, mountains, and deserts.
(Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
Last year I read Not a Drop to Drink. I really enjoyed it. I've been meaning to pick up the sequel, In a Handful of Dust but just haven't had time. Recently, I finally got a chance to pick it up. Even though it wasn't what I expected, it was an okay book.

Unfortunately, In a Handful of Dust wasn't what I expected. I expected it to be a direct sequel to the first book, but it was more of a companion novel. Part of that is my fault because I might have known that had I read the synopsis. However, I like going into my books without knowing anything about them. This time, that dampened my enjoyment of the book though. I really wanted to know what happened directly after the ending of the first book in detail. Instead, it's briefly mentioned then glossed over.

The one thing I really did like about the book was seeing Lucy grown up. It was interesting to see how her relationship with Lynn had grown over the years. I also enjoyed seeing Lynn take that responsibility, and becoming a mom like figure to Lucy at such a young age. When the reader catches up with them during In A Handful of Dust, they've really grown into their own. They know who they are, and what they want out of life. It was interesting to see that compared to where Not a Drop to Drink left off.

Despite being disappointed by my expectations, I did enjoy reading In a Handful of Dust. I really like Mindy McGinnis's writing style, especially the way she writes strong female characters. I am excited to read more of her books, and see if I like them as much as I liked this duology. 


I give In a Handful of Dust: 3.5/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Website:  http://mindymcginnis.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MindyMcGinnisAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MindyMcGinnis
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bigblackcat97/
Pintrest: https://www.pinterest.com/MindyMcGinnisMe/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5351825.Mindy_McGinnis

I received this book from the publisher, via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Losing Hope by Colleen Hoover


Synopsis:
In Hopeless, Sky left no secret unearthed, no feeling unshared, and no memory forgotten, but Holder’s past remained a mystery.

Still haunted by the little girl he let walk away, Holder has spent his entire life searching for her in an attempt to finally rid himself of the crushing guilt he has felt for years. But he could not have anticipated that the moment they reconnect, even greater remorse would overwhelm him…

Sometimes in life, if we wish to move forward, we must first dig deep into our past and make amends. In Losing Hope, bestselling author Colleen Hoover reveals what was going on inside Holder’s head during all those hopeless moments—and whether he can gain the peace he desperately needs.

(Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
Typically, I don't like books that re-tell a story that's already been told from another character's point of view. Ninety percent of the time it adds nothing to the story, and is boring to read about. That's why I was hesitant to read Losing Hope. I figured it was just going to be Hopeless from Holder's point of view. I want to read all of Colleen Hoover's books, so I recently decided to try it. I'm so glad I did. I was definitely wrong. It was so much more than just a retelling.

Losing Hope brought a fresh perspective to the events that happened in Hopeless. When reading from Holder's point of view, it was almost like reading another story entirely. There was a big bombshell that was dropped in Losing Hope that the reader didn't learn about in Hopeless at all. It was heartwrenching, and really added something to the story. It brought back all of the heartbreaking feelings that I remember feeling from Hopeless, if not more. Watching Holder come to the realizations that he did was devastating.

Colleen Hoover once again wrote a beautiful yet heartbreaking love story. I loved seeing the interactions between Skye and Holder from Holder's point of view. It made me fall in love with the characters all over again. I'm glad I decided to finally read Losing Hope. I have a feeling it's one of those stories that will stay with me for a long time. 


I give Losing Hope: 5/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Website:  https://www.colleenhoover.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorColleenHoover/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/colleenhoover
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/colleenhoover/
Snapchat: https://www.snapchat.com/add/colleenhoover
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5430144.Colleen_Hoover

I received this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Nick and Tesla's Robot Army Rampage by Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith


Synopsis:
Nick and Tesla return in an all-new, robot-filled adventure!

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! Make bristlebots that buzz, hoverbots that float above the ground, battlebots that duke it out, and more!

Can Nick and Tesla catch the criminal mastermind—and foil his army of rampaging robots—before it's too late?

(Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
Lately I've been going through this reading phase where all I want to read is middle grade. Recently, I read Nick and Tesla's High-Voltage Danger Lab. I loved it so much that I started the second book, Nick and Tesla's Robot Army Rampage immediately. While I didn't love it as much as the first book, I still thought it was an enjoyable sequel.

I'm not entirely sure why I didn't enjoy Nick and Tesla's Robot Army Rampage as much as the first book in the series. There was just something magical missing from it. I think part of it is because I was hoping the sequel would focus more on the big reveal that happened at the end of the first book, and that didn't happen. I found that kind of disappointing. It was slightly mentioned at times, but wasn't a huge plot point.

Despite that, I really did enjoy the book. In fact, I read all of it in about two hours because I couldn't put it down. I especially enjoyed the new character, Dr. Sakurai. I enjoyed seeing how having her around changed Uncle Newt. Speaking of Uncle Newt, he went through so much character growth in this book. Even though he's still his zany, wacky self, he really went through a growth period, and matured a lot. I loved seeing that. For once, I didn't guess the culprit at the end, which I also enjoyed. It was a fantastic reveal that I never saw coming.

Even though I prefer the first book in the series, I really did enjoy Nick and Tesla's Robot Army Rampage. I thought it was a good sequel. I plan on starting the next book in the series as soon as I finish typing this review. I can't wait to see what happens after the bombshell that was dropped at the end of the book with the answering machine message.


I give Nick and Tesla's Robot Army Rampage: 3.5/5.

Want to know more about the authors?
Bob Pflugfelder
Website:  https://sciencebob.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sciencebob
Twitter: https://twitter.com/sciencebob?lang=en
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sciencebob/
Pintrest: https://www.pinterest.com/source/sciencebob.com/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sciencebob
YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/user/ScienceBob

Steve Hockensmith
Website: http://www.stevehockensmith.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/steve.hockensmith.7
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MrHockensmith
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/146628.Steve_Hockensmith

I received this book from the publisher, Quirk Books, in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Time Traveller by Joanne Harris


Synopsis:
Struggling to get back to UNIT HQ, his body being destroyed by radiation, the Third Doctor arrives in the most perfect English village, where everyone is happy. But is he really on Earth, or somewhere far more strange? As his body weakens, the Doctor and the Queen of the village begin to unravel the truth.

Time Trips – groundbreaking Doctor Who adventures by some of the most respected writers in the Universe. Short stories that are bigger on the inside…

(Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
For those that have been following my reviews for quite some time, you know that I'm a huge Whovian. I love anything and everything to do with Doctor Who. That includes all of the books that have been written. I especially love the short stories. Recently, I found one that I haven't read, The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Time Traveller. I thoroughly enjoyed the short story.

Joanne Harris must be a big Whovian too because I found myself immersed in the story from beginning to end. She got all of the small details that connect the Doctor Who universe right, such as the subtle nods to Sarah Jane, and other things that happened (trying to be vague because I don't want to spoil it for anyone). While reading the book, I was almost picturing like an episode in my head, which I loved. I know the book was about the Third Doctor, but even though I've watched some of his episodes, I'm not as familiar with him as I am with some of the more recent doctors. I kept picturing Eleven in my head for some reason instead of Three, which isn't a bad thing.

I loved The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Time Traveller. It brought together everything I loved about Doctor Who. In fact, by this point, I've read most of the Time Trips short stories. I think this might just be one of my favorites. I really hope that Joanne Harris writes more Doctor Who fiction in the future. I will gladly read anything else Doctor Who related that she publishes. 


I give The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Time Traveller: 4/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Website:  http://www.joanne-harris.co.uk/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/joannechocolat
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/joannechocolat/?hl=en
Tumblr: http://joannechocolat.tumblr.com/
Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9432.Joanne_Harris

I received this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Stimpikins by Pamela Reynolds


Synopsis:
One cool autumn day a young girl watched a drama unfold before her eyes. Because of her intervention a lifelong friendship and love developed. This love went beyond life and death. Lives were changed and barriers crossed. A respect for and communal with all living creatures were lessons learned outside of school.

Stimpy was a cat who will never be forgotten by his owner Emily. After reading about his life and escapades, readers will not easily forget this heroic, lovable, mischievous, independent, friendly and loyal cat. Based on real accounts of his life it will open the readers’ eyes to the real truth about cats. You will never look at an animal in the same way again.

(Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
For those of you that have been following my reviews for a while, you know I love cats, and books about cats. Cats are one of my favorite things to read about, whether it's fiction or non-fiction. I feel that by reading about cats, I learn more about them which helps me to be a better cat mom. Several years ago, I picked up a book about cats called Stimpikins. I recently found it when going through my bookshelves, and decided to give it a try. Unfortunately, I was thoroughly disappointed.

For whatever reason, I wasn't expecting Stimpikins to be a children's book. I think that's where most of my disappointment comes from. The story was written in a way that made the writing seem very juvenile. There were short, choppy sentences that made the book boring to read. It cut off the flow of the book, which made it an unimmersive experience. The other thing that bothered me were the pictures. They just didn't work. I wish the author or an illustrator would have drawn them by hand. Instead they used a 3D computer modeling program, which made the illustrations look off, and downright creepy at times.

However, there is one thing I did enjoy about Stimpikins. I thought the story line itself was really cute, even with the choppy writing. You could really tell that the author had a love of animals, especially cats. The way she loved Stimpikins, despite all of the adversity the two of them faced together really moved me. I also liked the random stories about Stimpikns, especially the one of him and the fish tank. That cracked me up.

Even though I enjoyed the story line of Stimpikins, there were many things in the book that I didn't care for. All in all, even the story line could not make the experience a great one. The writing style made the book boring at times, and the pictures were often off because of the method the author used for the illustrations. However, I do think younger children, perhaps elementary school kids might enjoy this book more than I did. 


I give Stimpikins: 2.5/5.

Want to know more about the author?
 Website: http://www.pamreynolds.me/index.htm
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6468869.Pamela_Reynolds

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Nick and Tesla's High-Voltage Danger Lab by Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith


Synopsis:
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 kinds 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 Danger 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!

(Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
Lately, I've been making it a major priority in my reading goals to read more of my physical books. I have thousands of them, and they usually just sit around collecting dust because I mainly read from my Kindle. I found the Nick and Tesla series on my bookshelf, and decided to pick up the first book because I've been in the mood to read middle grade fiction recently. I thought it was a great start to what seems to be a promising series.

Nick and Tesla had everything that I love in a middle grade series. It was filled with all of the tropes that make a series great, such as the eccentric not all there caretaker. Uncle Newt had me cracking up laughing several times. Although if he was the kid's caretaker in the real world, I'm pretty sure he'd lose the kids in a week or two from being so irresponsible. I also liked that it had kids that didn't fit the expectations that society places on people. It felt good to see Nick, Tesla, and their friends use their brains to solve problems, rather than physical skills. It made the book more interesting because you could solve the problems with Nick and Tesla while they tried to work through them.

Speaking of working on things right beside Nick and Tesla, one of the things that I loved about the book was the experiments and projects that were included. Unfortunately, I was not able to do them as I live in an apartment building that doesn't have a yard that I can use for that type of thing or anywhere to set them up. However, I did find it interesting to read all of the steps, and see everything come together in my mind for how it work out. I have a fiend that has children, and I plan on passing along the full series to her once I finish it so she can do the projects with them.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Nick and Tesla's High Voltage Danger Lab. I plan on binge reading the rest of the series in the next week or two, and then passing it along to my friend so her kids can enjoy it too. I can't wait to start the next book in the series tonight, and to see what kind of crazy hi-jinx Nick and Tesla can get themselves into next. I'm also excited to see what happens with the mystery character that was revealed at the end of this book. I recommend this book to older elementary kids that are interested in STEM. 


I give Nick and Tesla's High-Voltage Danger Lab: 4/5.

Want to know more about the authors?
Bob Pflugfelder
Website:  https://sciencebob.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sciencebob
Twitter: https://twitter.com/sciencebob?lang=en
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sciencebob/
Pintrest: https://www.pinterest.com/source/sciencebob.com/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sciencebob
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/ScienceBob

Steve Hockensmith
Website: http://www.stevehockensmith.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/steve.hockensmith.7
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MrHockensmith
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/146628.Steve_Hockensmith

I received this book from the publisher, Quirk Books, in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Drum Roll, Please by Lisa Jenn Bigelow


Synopsis:
Find the confidence to rock out to your own beat.

Melly only joined the school band because her best friend, Olivia, begged her to. But to her surprise, quiet Melly loves playing the drums. It’s the only time she doesn’t feel like a mouse.

Now, she and Olivia are about to spend the next two weeks at Camp Rockaway, jamming under the stars in the Michigan woods.

But this summer brings big changes for Melly: her parents split up, her best friend ditches her, and Melly finds herself falling for a girl at camp named Adeline. To top it off, Melly's not sure she has what it takes to be a real rock 'n' roll drummer. Will she be able to make music from all the noise in her heart?

(Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
I feel that we really need more LGBTQ+ middle grade books. There are a lot of LGBTQ+ fiction and non-fiction in young adult literature, but not a lot for the younger audiences. Whenever I see middle grade LGBTQ+ books, they move to the top of my to read pile. When I heard that Lisa Jenn Bigelow was writing a middle grade LGBTQ+ fiction book, Drum Roll Please, I knew I had to read it. I loved her young adult debut, Starting From Here, when I read it a couple years ago. Drum Roll Please definitely didn't disappoint. I loved it just as much as Starting From Here, if not more.

Drum Roll, Please brought back a lot of feelings of nostalgia. It reminded me of what it felt like to be younger, and falling in love with someone of the same sex for the first time. It also made me nostalgic for those feelings of having your first real crush, and brought back a lot of pleasant memories from when I was that age. I think Lisa Jenn Bigelow captures those feelings perfectly. You know an author has done a great job writing a book when it takes you back in your mind to a certain place and time, and makes you very happy.

I also really loved most of the characters from Drum Roll, Please. I especially loved Adeline. She was so confident in who she was. I love seeing younger characters that are comfortable in their own skin, instead of criticizing themselves all the time. I think it makes for great role models that kids cam look up to. I said I enjoyed most of the characters because I really didn't like Melly's best friend, Olivia. I thought was very selfish, self centered, and a downright crappy friend to Melly throughout a lot of the book, especially after they get to camp. While I was reading, I kept hoping that Melly would ditch her to find a more supportive group of friends that would treat her better.

I loved Drum Roll, Please. After thinking about it once I was finished with the book, I think it might just be one of my favorite middle grade books of all time. It's definitely my favorite middle grade contemporary book that I have read. I'm hoping Lisa Jenn Bigelow writes a sequel about the next summer at camp. I would really love to see Melly after she has some time to deal with the issues with her parents, and her sexuality. I think it would be awesome to watch her grow even more as a character. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a cute contemporary book to read. I especially recommend it to preteens that are just starting to discover that they might be LGBTQ+. I think it is a great resource that they will identify with. 


I give Drum Roll, Please: 4/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Website:  https://lisajennbigelow.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lisajennbigelow/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/lisajennbigelow
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lisajennbigelow/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4575294.Lisa_Jenn_Bigelow

I received this book from the publisher, via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.