Friday, December 21, 2018

Alexander Hamilton: The Making of America by Teri Kanefield


Synopsis:
The America that Alexander Hamilton knew was largely agricultural and built on slave labor. He envisioned something else: a multi-racial, urbanized, capitalistic America with a strong central government. He believed that such an America would be a land of opportunity for the poor and the newcomers. But Hamilton's vision put him at odds with his arch-rivals who envisioned a pastoral America of small towns, where governments were local, states would control their own destiny, and the federal government would remain small and weak. The disputes that arose during America's first decades continued through American history to our present day. Over time, because of the systems Hamilton set up and the ideas he left, his vision won out. Here is the story that epitomizes the American dream-a poor immigrant who made good in America. In the end, Hamilton rose from poverty through his intelligence and ability and did more to shape our country than any of his contemporaries.
(Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
 For those of you that know me, you know that I am obsessed with the Broadway musical Hamilton. I know all of the songs by heart, and have listened to them more times than I can count. My love for the musical has led me to want to learn all that I can about Alexander Hamilton. Recently I picked up Teri Kanefield's biography of Alexander Hamilton. I thought it was an interesting portrayal.

Teri Kanefield's Alexander Hamilton is intended for a middle grade audience. Truth be told, it reminded me a lot of Ron Chernow's Alexander Hamilton, only simplified in a way that older children and preteens can understand it a lot better. I think this would be a great way to get a child who loves the musical educated on a more accurate description of what happened in Hamilton's life.

I only wish that the book would have gone into a little bit more detail on Hamilton's relationships with his friends as well. They were just briefly mentioned, and for some of them, it wasn't mentioned how he originally met them at all. Because I had already read Ron Chernow's Alexander Hamilton, I already knew a lot of the facts that were in this book. However, I did enjoy the excerpts of Hamilton's writing in the back of this book, several of which I had never read before.

I think Teri Kanefield's Alexander Hamilton is a great way for older children and preteens to learn about Alexander Hamilton's life, especially if they enjoy the musical. While I love the musical dearly, some parts of it are not an accurate representation of his life. This book works to correct those parts, and to accurately educate people about him. I will have to see if this author has written about any other historical figures I might be interested in learning more about, or teaching my nieces and nephews about.


I give Alexander Hamilton: The Making of America: 4/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Website: https://terikanefield.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Teri_Kanefield
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/695879.Teri_Kanefield

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, December 20, 2018

A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold


Synopsis:
For Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat), life tends to be full of surprises—some of them good, some not so good. Today, though, is a good-surprise day. Bat’s mom, a veterinarian, has brought home a baby skunk, which she needs to take care of until she can hand him over to a wild-animal shelter.

But the minute Bat meets the kit, he knows they belong together. And he’s got one month to show his mom that a baby skunk might just make a pretty terrific pet.

(Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
Lately, I've loved to read middle grade books. I don't know why. There's just something about them that cheer me up and put a smile on my face, which is definitely needed this time of year. When I heard that A Boy Called Bat was a middle grade novel about a boy with autism, I knew I had to read it. Books, especially middle grade books, about a main protagonist with autism can be hard to find. I ended up loving this book. It might be one of my favorite books I've read this year.

A Boy Called Bat was such a cute middle grade book. I loved every part of the book. I can't think of one thing that I disliked about the book. I especially love how the author handled writing about a main character with autism. As someone who grew up with a stepbrother that has autism, I think Elana K. Arnold's portrayal of autism was very accurate. I noticed a lot of Bat's mannerisms were similar to my stepbrother, and my friend's daughter that also has autism. In fact, some of the things that Bat did were almost identical to things they do.

I also thought that it was cute and creative to hear Bat explain his autism in his own terms. It really teaches you how innocent children are, and how someone with autism thinks. I think it was a great insight into a child with autism's mind. The final thing that I loved about A Boy Called Bat is that everyone around Bat was so supportive of him. Children or adults, it didn't matter. Everyone around him wanted to help him with whatever he needed to succeed and achieve his goals. I loved seeing that.

There are so many things that I loved about A Boy Called Bat. I enjoyed seeing the author portray autism through the eyes of a child that has it. I also enjoyed seeing such supportive side characters. I will definitely be reading more of Elana K. Arnold's other books. I just found out that there are two more books in this series. I hope to read them as soon as I can, and then start on other books of hers that I own. 


I give A Boy Called Bat: 5/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Website: http://elanakarnold.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ElanaKArnold/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/elanakarnold
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/elanakarnold/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5772357.Elana_K_Arnold

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

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Nick and Tesla's Special Effects Spectacular by Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith


Synopsis:
What do a pair of kid inventors with a knack for science and electronics do when Hollywood comes to town? Why save the day, of course!

In Nick and Tesla’s Special Effects Spectacular, 11-year-old siblings Nick and Tesla Holt find themselves on the set of a big-budget superhero movie. But someone’s sabotaging the onscreen debut of their favorite comic book hero, so the brother and sister sleuths must crack the case with the help of a fresh assortment of homemade special-effects gadgets. This cinematic saga features instructions for all-new movie magic projects that kids can build themselves, such as camera gear, stunt dummies, make-up magic, and more. Science and electronics have never been so much fun! 

(Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
I have been binge reading the Nick and Tesla series, and greatly enjoying it. It brings something new to the middle grade genre. I recently decided to continue my binge read with the fifth book in the series, Nick and Tesla's Special Effects Spectacular. I greatly enjoyed this book, which doesn't surprise me.

Nick and Tesla's Special Effects Spectacular really brought something new to the series. Not only did the reader get to meet new characters that I really enjoyed; we also got to see all of the kids grow into their roles, and mature. Now, they are more confident in their decisions and mystery solving. Even Silas has matured quite a bit from the first book, although he still has his moments. The only thing I didn't like about this book is that the inventions felt less intricate. It felt very simplified, almost like a step down from the last couple of books.

I am so happy that I finally decided to pick up this series this year. I'd owned it for so long, and am kicking myself for not reading it sooner. I love the series, but I especially loved this book in the series. I can't wait to read the last book, Nick and Tesla's Solar Powered Showdown, and see how things resolve. I especially want to learn what happens with the big mystery surrounding their parents, and to see if my theory is right. 


I give Nick and Tesla's Special Effects Spectacular: 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, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Claws by Mike Grinti and Rachel Grinti


Synopsis:
Emma's sister has run off with the faeries. Her parents have spent all their money looking for her and now the family is living on the edge of an enchanted slum-forest nearby. But then along comes a smooth-talking cat called Jack - with a plan for how Emma can reunite her family.
(Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
While in October, I am usually in the mood to only read scary/supernatural books. This year, I decided to start with Claws. I've had it on my TBR for several years now, and I've been wanting to read it but I haven't had time. After reading it, I thought it was an okay book.

My problem with the book that made it just okay to read was that the beginning was so slow. It didn't capture my interest at all at first. It took about seventy or so pages to get to the point where I didn't want to constantly put the book down. It made for a very truing experience. It made me want to DNF the book so badly.

That being said, I'm glad I decided to try to finish Claws after all. Once I pushed past the seventy page mark, I couldn't stop reading. I finished the rest of the book in one day because I couldn't put it down. From the pint where the group met the ratters onward, the book captivated me with it's magical plot and wouldn't let me go.

When Claws ended, I found myself feeling sad. Despite hating the beginning, I really wanted more of these characters, and this universe. I really hope the authors write a sequel. There were a few unanswered questions that I would love having answers to, such as what Jack said at the end of the book.  


I give Claws: 4/5.

Want to know more about the authors?
Website:  http://www.grinti.com/home
Mike Grinti's Twitter: https://twitter.com/mikegrinti
Rachel Grinti's Twitter: https://twitter.com/rachelgrinti
Mike Grinti's Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5607899.Mike_Grinti
Rachel Grinti's Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5607900.Rachel_Grinti

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

Thursday, December 13, 2018

The Plot to Kill Hitler by Patricia McCormick


Synopsis:
Perfect for fans of suspenseful nonfiction such as books by Steve Sheinkin, this is a page-turning narrative about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a pastor and pacifist who became an unlikely hero during World War II and took part in a plot to kill Hitler. Written by two-time National Book Award finalist Patricia McCormick, author of Sold and Never Fall Down and coauthor of the young reader’s edition of I Am Malala.

It was April 5, 1943, and the Gestapo would arrive any minute. Dietrich Bonhoeffer had been expecting this day for a long time. He had put his papers in order—and left a few notes specifically for Hitler’s men to see. Two SS agents climbed the stairs and told the boyish-looking Bonhoeffer to come with them. He calmly said good-bye to his parents, put his Bible under his arm, and left. Upstairs there was proof, in his own handwriting, that this quiet young minister was part of a conspiracy to kill Adolf Hitler.

This compelling, brilliantly researched account includes the remarkable discovery that Bonhoeffer was one of the first people to provide evidence to the Allies that Jews were being deported to death camps. It takes readers from his privileged early childhood to the studies and travel that would introduce him to peace activists around the world—eventually putting this gentle, scholarly pacifist on a deadly course to assassinate one of the most ruthless dictators in history. The Plot to Kill Hitler provides fascinating insights into what makes someone stand up for what’s right when no one else is standing with you. It is a question that every generation must answer again and again.

With black-and-white photographs, fascinating sidebars, and thoroughly researched details, this book should be essential reading.

(Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
One of my 2018 bookish goals has been to read more nonfiction. I definitely haven't done as well with that as I wanted to. Last night, I wad thinking about how I wanted to accomplish that goal, so I picked The Plot to Kill Hitler off of my bookshelf. I started and finished it in one sitting.

I never really know how to write reviews for nonfiction books because they are about events that actually happened. There are no characters or plot to judge, etc etc. That being said, I did think this book was informative. I knew absolutely nothing about Dietrich Bonhoeffer before reading this book. In fact, the only thing I really knew about World War II were the basics that were learned in high school, and a few things I picked up from reading historical fiction books about the subject over the years. I found Dietrich Bonhoeffer to be a very admirable person. Not only was he incredibly brave in a time where it was dangerous to do so, but he was very devout in his faith as well. No matter what hellish thing he was going through, he never lost his belief system, or wavered for a second. I only hope that I could be like that.

That being said, the way this book was written wasn't very interesting. It was almost like reading a simplified textbook. I understand that can happen with nonfiction sometimes, but it made it so most of the book didn't stick in my mind. It's the morning after reading this book when I'm writing the review, and I only remember the basic things that happened. I couldn't tell you anything in particular detail, other than the suitcase bombing, and that's because it was the biggest part of the book, in my opinion. I think if the author would have written the book in a way where it flowed like a story while still obviously being nonfiction, instead of just stating facts, I would have remembered more.

Even though The Plot to Kill Hitler wasn't that memorable, I did enjoy what I do remember reading. I found Dietrich Bonhoeffer to be an interesting person with a great morale compass. The book did make me want t do more research on him. I will probably find other books about him to read, and lesser known people like him that were heroes in their own way during World War II. I find the lesser known stories more interesting than the well known ones sometimes.  


I give The Plot to Kill Hitler: 3/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Website: https://www.patriciamccormick.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/McCormickWrites/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/mccormickwrites?lang=en

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

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Shootout Solution by Michael R. Underwood


Synopsis:
Leah Tang just died on stage. Well, not literally. Not yet.

Leah's stand-up career isn't going well. But she understands the power of fiction, and when she's offered employment with the mysterious Genrenauts Foundation, she soon discovers that literally dying on stage is a hazard of the job!

Her first assignment takes her to a Western world. When a cowboy tale slips off its rails, and the outlaws start to win, it's up to Leah - and the Genrenauts team - to nudge the story back on track and prevent a catastrophe on Earth.

But the story's hero isn't interested in winning, and the safety of Earth hangs in the balance...

(Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
As the end of the year draws closer, I find myself reading more and more books off of my TBR, which I am very proud of. I feel like the more of my TBR I read by the end of the year, the more I will be able to experience new books in 2019. Last year, I read Michael R. Underwood's Geekomancy series and loved it. This year, I got his Genrenauts series, and recently had the chance to read the first book. I really enjoyed it.

One of the things that I loved about the first book in the series, The Shootout Solution, was that it was so unique. I know this might sound cliche, but I don't think I've ever read anything like it before. The author not only had to do some world building, but he also had to do some more world building within that world. It was almost like there were two settings because of the unique way the premise is presented. He pulled it off very well. He also created a great cast of characters. I found myself caring for them almost instantly, and being concerned for what was going to happen to them. Not only was I emotionally involved in the main character, Leah, but I really liked the side characters as well. That can be hard for a writer to do at times, but Michael R. Underwood nailed it.

I did have a couple of problems with The Shootout Solution. The western world was a bit too over the top and cliche at times. It made sense for the plot, but it still made me want to roll my eyes at times when I was reading. My other problem was that the book was boring at times. Don't get me wrong, like I said, the premise is one of the most interesting things I've heard of in a long time. However, there were certain parts, especially in the middle, where I found myself losing concentrating, and daydreaming while I was reading. I had to reread a couple paragraphs several times because I just couldn't focus on what was going on.

I found The Shootout Solution to be an enjoyable first book in what I'm sure will become a fantastic series. As soon as I finished the book, I immediately downloaded the second one. I had to know right away what other worlds the Generenauts were going to go to, and what other adventures they were going to get into. I foresee myself binge reading the rest of this series back to back if the other books are as good as The Shootout Solution. 


I give The Shootout Solution: 3.5/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Website: http://michaelrunderwood.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MichaelRUnderwoodAuthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MikeRUnderwood
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5820379.Michael_R_Underwood

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, December 11, 2018

I, Girl X by Annalise Grey


Synopsis:
Carleigh is a 14 year-old girl trying to carve her own place in this world. Her younger brother's mental illness is slowly invading every aspect of her life.

Her family is troubled. Friendships are unbearable. And just when calm begins to seem possible, one night will change Carleigh, and her family, forever.

(Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
Years ago, I read Annalise Grey's book, Gettysburg After Dark, and really enjoyed it. Ever since I finished it, I've been wanting to pick up more books by her. Recently, I finally had the opportunity to read I, Girl X. I loved it.

I thought I, Girl X was a beautiful, thought provoking story. We as readers don't often get to see what happens to the siblings of people with mental health issues, and how it affects their lives. It really puts things into perspective. I found Carleigh's story to be absolutely heartbreaking. I think Annalise Grey took the subject matter, and wrote about it in such a way that it was a true learning experience. While reading, I could feel Carleigh's emotions. It was almost like I was there beside her, experiencing what she was going through. It takes a very talented writer to do that. I also learned a lot about the specific mental illness that her brother, Carson, has. I didn't know much about that mental illness going into the book, although when he started displaying symptoms, I had a feeling that's what he had.

Another really surprising thing that I loved about I, Girl X was that it was written in verse. For me, books written in verse can either be a hit or a miss. This one was definitely a hit. I thought that reading the book through Carleigh's poems made what was going on around her, and happening to her, that much more impactful. The author did a fantastic job with that. It was also really cool to see the text changes throughout the story when Carleigh was feeling specific emotions. It really helped to get her emotions through to the reader.

I loved I, Girl X. It was a beautiful yet heartbreaking experience to read the book. It really makes you stop and think about situations that others could be going through. Mental illness (or any illness, for that matter) doesn't just effect the person that has it, but everyone around them. I think the book will definitely help me remember that in the future, and will help me be more compassionate to those around me. I really hope Annalise Grey writes more books, especially novels in verse. I will definitely be reading her backlog of books, and whatever she writes next.  


I give I, Girl X: 4/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Website: https://www.ramblingsofatiredmind.com/ & http://www.annalisegrey.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annalise.grey
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnnaliseGrey
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/annalisegrey/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5434956.Annalise_Grey

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

Monday, December 10, 2018

Better Than Magic by Marcia Calhoun Forecki


Synopsis:
Edith Swann is smart, curious and creative. She is determined to be herself in spite of controlling parents. Her nightmare is the 7th grade bully, Dante Cooper. When Edith fi nds a magic mirror, she suddenly has the power to make her problems disappear and her parents proud. That is, until she accidentally sets free all her anger; her Inner Eddie. Before Edith can stop Eddie from destroying the whole neighborhood, the mirror breaks. Without magic, Edith needs all her wits, her strength and especially her friends to defeat Eddie. This is really a statement about growing up and the tribulation of doing so.
(Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
Lately, I've been going through a phase where I want to read a lot of middle grade books. There's just something about middle grade books that I find charming, and fun. No matter what's going on in the story line, the book usually fills me with hope and joy. I was recently looking through my backlog of middle grade books, and decided to start Better Than Magic. I'm so glad I did. It was such a short, cute read.

I think Better Than Magic is a great middle grade book that I honestly wish more people knew about. I thought the book was a fast paced, fun read. I sat down and read the whole thing in about an hour and a half because I couldn't put it down. I loved all of the quirky characters. I especially loved Edith's parents. They constantly made me chuckle with the weird things they did, like keep a schedule of excersizng, and signing Edith up for very odd things to learn.

Another thing I loved about Better Than Magic is that it teaches a great lesson to children. It teaches children to have empathy, and sympathy for others. When someone is being a jerk, instead of being mean back to that person, take a step back. It teaches them to contemplate, and put themselves in the other person's shoes, instead of having a knee jerk reaction that might do more good than harm. It also teaches to be careful what you wish for. Even if it seems like a good idea at the time, spontaneously doing certain things can have bad consequences when you don't think it through.

I really enjoyed Better Than Magic. It is intended for kids, but I am 28, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think most people would like this book and get something out of it, regardless of age. We all need reminders to be kinder to people every now and then, even if they're being difficult. I can't wait to read more of this author's other books.  


I give Better Than Magic: 4/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/315820.Marcia_Calhoun_Forecki

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

Friday, December 7, 2018

Twisted Fate by Norah Olson


Synopsis:
When Alyson meets Graham Copeland, the new boy next door, she instantly feels like he’s a kindred spirit—shy and awkward like her, someone who has trouble making friends. It’s impossible to resist having a crush on him.

As usual, her sister, Sydney, sees things differently. In Sydney's mind, Graham's odd personality and secretive past scream psychopath, not sweetheart. Her gut is telling her to stay away from him, and to protect a love-struck Alyson from her own naïveté. But despite her instincts, Sydney is surprised to realize that a part of her is drawn to Graham, too.

And the more Sydney gets to know him, the more she realizes just how right—and wrong—she is about everything.

(Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
Recently, I've been trying to catch up on my huge backlist of books. I would say I have a couple thousand print books, and several thousand on my Kindle that I own and haven't read. I've been listening to audiobooks quite a bit to catch up. Recently, I listened to Twisted Fate, which had been on my TBR for several years. After finishing, I'm still not entirely sure how I felt about it. I liked it, but also had quite a few problems with it.

There is one thing I really loved about Twisted Fate. I loved the concept of this book. It kept me guessing to the very end. Even at the end, I was still dumbstruck by how everything turned out. I couldn't believe it. It was also excellent at building suspense. I NEEDED to know what was going to happen next. However, I didn't like the excution of the concept. The book just felt very choppy to me, like a bunch of random scenes that weren't connected well. It made the book not flow well at all, which made things very confusing.

Speaking of confusing, I found the characters to all have the same type of voice, which I found very confusing. It was almost like they were one person instead of multiple people, especially the sisters, Ally and Syd. Maybe it's because I was listening to the audiobook, but I could not tell their characters apart at all. I kept having to flip back to the currently listening screen and look at the chapter titles to figure out which girl's perspective I was on. It made the photoshop thing towards the end of the book more confusing than shocking, although I still found it creepy.

I really did enjoy the concept behind Twisted Fate. I just wish the author would have had a better editor; someone who could have made the story flow more cohesively. I think if that would have happened, it would have been a five star read for me. As is, I just found the book to be confusing a lot of the time, and weird. If the author has more books available, I will probably try one more, just to see if the storytelling has matured.  


I give Twisted Fate: 2.5/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Website: https://www.harpercollins.com/author/cr-111666/norah-olson/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Norah-Olson-730954703647687/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheNorahOlson

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

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The Witch's Vacuum Cleaner and Other Stories by Terry Pratchett


Synopsis:
Do you believe in magic? Can you imagine a war between wizards? An exciting journey in an airship or down in a submarine? Would you like to meet the fastest truncheon in the Wild West?

The Witch’s Vacuum Cleaner is the second fabulously funny short-story collection from the late acclaimed storyteller Terry Pratchett. A follow-up to Dragons at Crumbling Castle, this second batch of storytelling gems features stories written when Sir Terry was just seventeen years old and working as a junior reporter. In these pages, new Pratchett fans will find wonder, mayhem, sorcery, and delight—and loyal readers will recognize the seeds of ideas that went on to influence his most beloved tales later in life.

(Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
My husband is a big fan of Terry Pratchett. He discovered his books earlier this year, and is currently trying to make his way through reading all of his books. Recently, I discovered that I actually own a couple of his short story collections. My husband started reading Terry Pratchett with The Color of Magic. I decided to start with The Witch's Vacuum Cleaner and Other Stories. I found it to just be okay.

I listened to The Witch's Vacuum Cleaner and Other Stories on audiobook. I don't know if that hindered my enjoyment of the book. I don't do well with nonsensical  books, which is what a lot of this was. At times, I found it almost too silly, and I would get bored with it, so my brain would start to wander. Then I would have to rewind my audiobook to realize what was going on. My  least favorite story was definitely the first one, The Witch's Vacuum Cleaner. I had a hard time following along with what was happening, and it became more confusing than anything else.

That being said, there were a couple of stories that I really did enjoy. I liked The Truly Terrible Toothache. It kind of reminded me of a story that I had heard as a child. I found it funny, and witty. I also enjoyed An Ant Called 4179003, and Rincemangle, the Gnome of Even Moor. The rest of the stories, I found to be just okay. A lot of them were boring in parts, and I kept wondering to myself when they were going to get better.

I thought The Witch's Vacuum Cleaner and Other Stories was a quick, enjoyable book. However, it definitely won't make my favorite books of the year list. Even though I thought it was just okay, I definitely want to try more Terry Pratchett books. I think I might try his Discworld series before I try any more short stories, and see if I like that instead. I'm going to try The Color of Magic. I don't think I would recommend this for anyone's first Terry Pratchett book. Seasoned veterans of his writing style might like it though.  


I give The Witch's Vacuum Cleaner and Other Stories: 3/5.

Want to know where to buy this book?

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

DNF Review: Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan


Synopsis:
This is the story of Paul, a sophomore at a high school like no other: The cheerleaders ride Harleys, the homecoming queen used to be a guy named Daryl (she now prefers Infinite Darlene and is also the star quarterback), and the gay-straight alliance was formed to help the straight kids learn how to dance.

When Paul meets Noah, he thinks he’s found the one his heart is made for. Until he blows it. The school bookie says the odds are 12-to-1 against him getting Noah back, but Paul’s not giving up without playing his love really loud. His best friend Joni might be drifting away, his other best friend Tony might be dealing with ultra-religious parents, and his ex-boyfriend Kyle might not be going away anytime soon, but sometimes everything needs to fall apart before it can really fit together right.

This is a happy-meaningful romantic comedy about finding love, losing love, and doing what it takes to get love back in a crazy-wonderful world.

(Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
Usually I love books with LGBTQ+ themes. The genre is one of my favorite things to read. I had heard a lot of hype surrounding Boy Meets Boy, so I decided to give it a chance. It was my first David Levithan book. Unfortunately, I did not like it at all. I ended up DNF'ing the ebook at about 15%. I also tried the audiobook, and made it one third of the way through before DNF'ING it.

There were so many reasons why I didn't like this book. First and foremost, all of the teenage drama was incredibly annoying. The main character drove me crazy with his insecurities. The one third of the book that I did read was mostly him gossiping about his friends to his other friends, and playing the "Does he like me, does he not like me, I'm not going to ask him, I'm just going to freak out about it" game. It got old real quick.

The last thing that really bugged me was that the book just wasn't realistic. It was almost like David Levithan had never been to a high school before. Maybe it's because I'm from the Midwest, but we definitely did not have cliques of drag queens walking around together when I was in high school. You were lucky if you knew one drag queen in school, but most of our schools didn't have them. We also didn't have a lot of openly LGBTQ+ kids that people treated respectfully, or everyone was nice too. Most of them were bullied and ridiculed instead of praised. Maybe that's changed in the almost ten years since I've graduated, but from having friends that have kids in school, I know it hasn't. I wish high schools were more open to the LGBTQ+ community, but around where I live they're not. Maybe that's different in other parts of the country. All of that kept taking me out of the story, and ruining my immersion. Seeing the main character face adversity, and not let it get to him would have helped with that.

I did not like Boy Meets Boy at all. I typically love LGBTQ+ books, but this one just wasn't for me. I will try reading more of David Levithan's books in the future because I do own most of them. It might be a little while before I try another one though. I'm a little intimidated because I didn't like this one, and it was my first book of his. I hope it's just a fluke, and that I love his other books. 


I give Boy Meets Boy: 1/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Website:  http://www.davidlevithan.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/David-Levithan-139042149485971/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/11664.David_Levithan

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

Friday, November 23, 2018

Hideous Love by Stephanie Hemphill


Synopsis:
An all-consuming love affair.

A family torn apart by scandal.

A young author on the brink of greatness.

Hideous Love is the fascinating story of Gothic novelist Mary Shelley, who as a teen girl fled her restrictive home only to find herself in the shadow of a brilliant but moody boyfriend, famed poet Percy Shelley. It is the story of the mastermind behind one of the most iconic figures in all of literature: a monster constructed out of dead bodies and brought to life by the tragic Dr. Frankenstein.

Mary wrote Frankenstein at the age of nineteen, but inspiration for the monster came from her life-the atmospheric European settings she visited, the dramas swirling around her, and the stimulating philosophical discussions with the greatest minds of the period, like her close friend, Lord Byron.

This luminous verse novel from award-winning author Stephanie Hemphill reveals how Mary Shelley became one of the most celebrated authors in history.

(Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
 For those that have been following my blog for a while, you'll know that my major goal this year was to get my TBR all caught up. As we near the end of the year, that looks like it's a goal that I'm going to be taking into 2019 with me. Anyways, I recently decided to read Hideous Love because it had been on my TBR for a couple of years. Unfortunately, it was just okay.

Hideous Love had some interesting parts, and some boring parts. Unfortunately, the boring outweighed the interesting. I didn't know anything about Mary Shelley's life prior to reading this book, other than she wrote Frankenstein. I'm not sure how historically accurate Hideous Love was, but I found it very interesting that she fell in love at such a young age, and experienced so much in life before she even hit her mid twenties. She was a very strong, admirable woman. She survived more hardships in her twenties than most people do in a lifetime, and never let it get the best of her.

Other than learning little tidbits about Mary Shelley's life, the rest of the book was entirely boring, and slow. There was a lot of gossip about side characters and putting them down, which I didn't care for at all. I could have cared less about the rumors about who was sleeping with whom. When those parts happened, I found myself skimming through them, or rolling my eyes. I just wanted to get back to the interesting facts about Mary Shelley. I also didn't like the way her husband treated her at all. I thought it was a selfish, pompous asshole that put his needs above hers, especially when she really needed him. In fact, I think Mary might be the only character in this book that I actually liked.

All in all, Hideous Love was just okay. I'm glad that I read it because it puts Frankenstein in a whole new perspective for me. However, it's definitely not something that I would pick up again to re-read. I think if someone wants to learn more about Mary Shelley, I would encourage them to pick up a biography of her instead. I know I'll definitely be reading one when I come across it in a book store or library. 


I give Hideous Love: 3/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Website:  https://www.harpercollins.com/author/cr-104712/stephanie-hemphill/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/StephanieHemphill.author/

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

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Kiss of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick


Synopsis:
In the next 72 hours, Kenna may lose everything—her friends, her freedom, and maybe even herself. One kiss of the blade was all it took to get her sent to the psych ward for 72 hours. There she will face her addiction to cutting, though the outcome is far from certain.

When fifteen-year-old Kenna is found cutting herself in the school bathroom, she is sent to a facility for a mandatory psychiatric watch. There Kenna meets other kids like her—her roommate, Donya, who's there for her fifth time; the birdlike Skylar; and Jag, a boy cute enough to make her forget her problems . . . for a moment.

Madeleine Kuderick's gripping debut is a darkly beautiful and lyrical novel in verse, perfect for fans of Sonya Sones and Laurie Halse Anderson. Kiss of Broken Glass pulses with emotion and lingers long after the last page.

 (Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
 One of my main goals in 2018 is to lower my tbr to a more reasonable number (I know, let's all look at that goal and laugh. It will probably never happen). Audiobooks have been helping me do that a lot recently. I discovered that the audiobook of Kiss of Broken Glass was only about 2 hours, so I decided to listen to it in my downtime. I'm glad I did. I really enjoyed it.

Kiss of Broken Glass is one of those books that I probably would have passed on reading had I not discovered the audiobook. Contemporaries are something that I have to be in the right mood to read, so i read them far and few in between. I'm glad I read this one though. As someone who used to cut when I was a teenager, I found Kenna to be a completely relatable character. I identified with her struggles a lot because I had a lot of the same thoughts and feelings when I was her age. When she describes some of the things that she felt while cutting, I felt like she was describing my story.

The only thing I didn't like about Kiss of Broken Glass was Kenna's friends on the outside. I thought they were incredibly toxic people. I'd like to think that after what happens at the end of the book, she gets a new set of friends.

I really loved Kiss of Broken Glass. I'm happy that I finally decided to give it a read (or in this case a listen) after all these years. I don't know that I feel comfortable recommending it to any specific group because it can be potentially triggering for some people due to self harm. Just know what your triggers are, and if it turns out to be something that won't trigger you, it's definitely worth a read. 


I give Kiss of Broken Glass: 4/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Website:  http://www.madeleinekuderick.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/madeleine.kuderick
Twitter: https://twitter.com/kuderickwrites
Tumblr: http://kuderickwrites.tumblr.com/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7536051.Madeleine_Kuderick

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

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell


Synopsis:
Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan...

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words... And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

(Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
 I love Rainbow Rowell's books. I've read most of them, and have liked every single one I read. I read Fangirl a few years ago when it first came out, and recently decided to re-read it because it had been a while. I loved it just as much during my second read through.

Usually in my reviews I like to list the positives and negatives, but there wasn't a single thing I disliked about this book. Cath was a great main character. I loved how relatable she was. I could definitely see parts of myself in her, such as the antisocial tendencies being around people, and being a total nerd.

Another thing I loved about Cath was the relationships that she did have with the few people she was close to. The relationship between her and Levi is one of the cutest that I've read in YA fiction. They were absolutely adorable. I also loved seeing the relationship between her, her sisters, and her dad. No matter what was happening they were always there for each other. Even when they were arguing, she dropped everything to be there for them when they needed it.

Fangirl is definitely my favorite Rainbow Rowell book that I've read. Reading the book a second time just made it that much better. I can't wait to read Carry On, the Simon Snow fan fiction that Cath was working on throughout Fangirl. I'm sure I'll love that as well.


I give Fangirl: 5/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Website: http://www.rainbowrowell.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rainbow.rowell.author
Twitter: https://twitter.com/rainbowrowell
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rainbowrowell/
Tumblr: http://rainbowrowell.tumblr.com/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4208569.Rainbow_Rowell

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 27, 2018

Nick and Tesla's Super-Cyborg Gadget Glove by Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith


Synopsis:
Einstein is running amok! Darwin is losing his head! The science museum in Half Moon Bay is in big trouble because its robotic replicas of history’s greatest scientists keep going kablooey! As 11-year-old amateur inventors Nick and Tesla Holt try to uncover the cause, they’ll need to keep adding all-new gadgets to their latest creation, a customized super-cyborg glove. Follow the action, and then follow the illustrated instructions to build your own gadget glove with four incredible functions: LED signal light, emergency alarm, sound recorder, and UV secret-message revealer!
(Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
I have been recently trying to finish some series that I have started. I have a bad habit of starting series, and then never following through with the sequels. Recently, I've been reading the Nick and Tesla series. Even though it's middle grade fiction, I've been greatly enjoying it. I just finished the fourth book in the series, Nick and Tesla's Super-Cyborg Gadget Glove, and loved it.

Nick and Tesla's Super-Cyborg Gadget Glove had everything I wanted in the last couple of books in the series. There was a lot of mystery. There was also some cheesiness, but it wasn't over the top like the last two books had been. The reader got to see more of Uncle Newt and Dr. Sakurai together, which I really loved. I hope that's a trend that continues in the rest of the books in the series. I just love them together. I also enjoyed that Uncle Newt took more responsibility with the kids. Instead of just ignoring them, or misunderstanding their problems like he usually does, he aactually helped them solve the problem. I thin he's turning into a great guardian.

One of the things that I really loved about Nick and Tesla's Super-Cyborg Gadget Glove is that the authors did the experiments/projects a little different this time around. Instead of having multiple small projects, they had one big one with the glove and just kept making improvements to it throughout the story. I thought that was unique and different, and really enjoyed it. By the end, the glove turned out to be really awesome. I thought about making one myself for my niece, and still might do it.

I think Nick and Tesla's Super-Cyborg Gadget Glove was my favorite book in the series so far. If not, it's tied with the first book for my favorite. I loved that this book brought back all of the joy I felt when reading the first book in the series. It was wonderful to see all of the character growth and development. Every character in this series has really matured in some way. I can't wait to read the next book in the series and find out what happens after what was revealed at the ending of this one.  


I give Nick and Tesla's Super-Cyborg Gadget Glove: 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.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

In Bed with the Beast by Tara Sivec


Synopsis:
tale as old as time: she needs a place to stay, he's a grump with a secret and an extra room...can love find a way?

Meet the Naughty Princess Club, a series from USA Today bestselling author Tara Sivec that brings readers to Fairytale Lane and the hilarity—and romance—that three women fall into once they decide to strut their stuff and bring on their own happily ever after.

Living in her overprotective dad’s basement, shy Belle lives her life through books. Being a part of the Naughty Princess Club is the first adventure she’s ever had, plus she desperately needs the money to save one of her favorite places - the local library.

But when her new friends and new business gets her kicked out of her dad’s house, Belle is rescued by the surly Vincent “Beast” Adams who invites her to be his house guest until she gets back on her feet. Despite his attitude problem and long list of rules, Belle finds herself warming to the muscled man with a penchant for growling and starts seeing a gentle side to him that wasn’t there before.

Yet there’s a room that Beast keeps locked and Belle keeps getting hints that Beast is hiding something…can a nerdy librarian tame the beast or will their romance be over before it has a chance to blossom?

(Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
Over the years, Tara Sivec has become one of my favorite authors. I just love her books. They're so witty and hilarious. Lately I realized that I've fallen behind on reading her new releases from this year, and wanted to catch up. I loved the first book in her Naughty Princess Club series, so I wanted to pick up the second one, In Bed with the Beast. I just finished it last night, and while I didn't love it as much as the first book, I did really enjoy it.

I was very excited to read a book from Belle's perspective. I figured she would be the woman that I would relate the most to out of the three friends in the series, and I was right. She only feels comfortable at first around her books, and two close friends. Even then, I think she feels more comfortable around the books than the friends. She's nerdy, shy, and incredibly socially awakward. All of the those are traits that I've had all of my life. It made her incredibly easy to relate to, and made me want to root for her to get her happily ever after even more than I already was.

I will admit even though I loved Belle, I didn't connect with In Bed with the Beast as much as I did with the first book in the series. I think it was because the middle of the book got kind of boring for me. I found myself losing interest at times waiting for something to happen between Belle and Beast, or waiting for her to gain her self confidence. It was a struggle to push through because I kept putting it down, and picking up something more interesting. However, when I was able to push through that part, the rest of the book definitely made it worth it. There was a certain scene involving Belle's dad towards the end of the book. I don't think I've ever laughed that hard in my life.

Even though In Bed with the Beast wasn't my favorite book in the series, I did still find it enjoyable. I loved Belle. She might be one of my favorite characters that Tara Sivec has written, and I've read most of her books so that's a long list to choose from. I'm very excited to read the next book in the series, which is from Ariel's perspective. I can't wait for more of her foul-mouthed, dark sense of humor. I think her point of view will be the funniest yet.  


I give In Bed with the Beast: 3.5/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Website: http://tarasivec.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TaraSivec.authorpage
Twitter: https://twitter.com/tarasivec
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authortarasivec/
Pintrest: https://www.pinterest.com/tarasivec/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6422281.Tara_Sivec

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

Monday, September 24, 2018

Nick and Tesla's Secret Agent Gadget Battle by Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith


Synopsis:
In this third installment of the series, 11-year-old whiz-kids Nick and Tesla discover that someone in the quiet town of Half Moon Bay has placed their beloved Uncle Newt under electronic surveillance—but who is spying on him, and why? To expose the secret agent, Nick and Tesla build all kinds of outrageous contraptions. Throughout the book, the narrative is interrupted by blueprints and instructions so that budding young inventors can follow along. Science and electronics have never been so much fun!
(Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
Recently, I've been trying to read all of the print books that I own. I live in a small two bedroom apartment, and they're slowly starting to take over my apartment. I own the whole Nick and Tesla series in print, so I've been trying to make my way through that so I can give the books to kids that I know will enjoy them, and do the experiments/projects in them. I recently finished the third book in the series, Nick and Tesla's Secret Agent Gadget Battle. I thought it was just an okay read.

In this third installment of the series, the tone really changed. It felt completely different than the previous two books. With all of the new characters that were added and the mystery surrounding them, it almost felt like it was A Series of Unfortunate Events knockoff. The tone was a lot darker than the two previous books. The new characters even had similar personalities to Count Olaf's troop, especially the cleaners. I was also sad that Dr. Sakurai didn't make much of an appearance. I was really looking forward to seeing her relationship with Uncle Newt progress.

Despite being frustrated with those things, I did find some parts of Nick and Tesla's Secret Agent Gadget Battle enjoyable. As always, I thought the projects that they made were really creative, and unique. I love the element it added to the book. The projects aren't the typical science fair projects. It takes some creativity to be able to think of them in the first place. I love it when the authors do that. Also, I didn't correctly guess who the spy was, which makes things interesting. Up until it was revealed, I was almost positive I knew who the spy was. It shocked me when I was wrong.

Even though I had mixed feelings about Nick and Tesla's Secret Agent Gadget Battle, I am excited to continue the series. I think it will be interesting to read the next book and see if the spy somehow gets revenge on Nick, Tesla, and Uncle Newt for everything that happened in this book. I also think it will be interesting to see how the plot changes with a somewhat important character removed. I plan on starting the next book very soon. 


I give Nick and Tesla's Secret Agent Gadget Battle: 3/5.

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.

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.