Friday, April 29, 2016

Explore Your Creative Side (#7)

I apologize to you all for missing the last month or so of Explore Your Creative Side, but it's back!

I think I was suffering a minor blogging slump, so sadly this feature was one of the things that suffered, but even though I was unable to share some reviews of crafty/artsy enabling books, I was still crafting!

What was I working on?  Mostly pocket letters.  I had a few that I did for blog tours this past month that I then did giveaways for.  I also have a special pocket letter that I am making for something....that I really need to finish!

I have also done some crocheting.  I tried to make my #OTSPSecretSister a larger version of the tiny owls I have been making (I have shown pictures on may have seen them).  However, he didn't turn out right.  His face was all sorts of....wrong.  I was really disappointed :(.  I guess I need to practice more!

I have also been making a few pendants.  I am currently out of pendant trays, so I have had to make the backs out of resin.  I hope to get new pendant trays sooner or later though.  It just involves coming up with the money and then actually ordering them!  It will happen, but I have other wants that have been pushing this particular one back.

What creative things have you been doing lately?

And without further ado, I present you with a book for doodling, 2 coloring books, and a book on origami!  Enjoy!!

Title: Girl Plus Pen
Author: Stephanie Corfee
Series: Craft It Yourself
Publisher: Capstone Young Readers
Publication Date: February 1, 2016
Source: Publisher Giveaway
Rating: 5 Stars

I am pretty much in love with Girl Plus Pen.  How could I not be?  It is beautiful.  Just look at that cover!  The gorgeousness that you see there continues throughout the book.

It really is an awe inspiring book.  It is also a great book for creative inspiration.

Girl Plus Pen shows you a lot of the ins and outs of being creative with the use of simple doodles and drawings.  It gives you tips and tricks to help you develop your own style.  It has blank spaces for you to practice the techniques it aims to teach you.  Though I personally will be using other paper/sketchpads to practice these so that I can do it over and over again.  You don't have to do that though.  That is just my weird way with books like this.

I also really like the lessons on how to do pretty lettering.  I have been working on lettering here and there myself, so I am really looking forward to working on these lessons and ideas!

What's even better is this book gives you ideas on how you can take these doodles and drawings of yours and take them beyond paper!

Girl Plus Pen is marketed towards preteens and teens, but don't let that keep you from getting your hands on this gorgeous book!  It is perfect for those outside of the "intended" age bracket as well as for those within it!

This review is based on an ARC copy provided by the publisher through a giveaway I entered and won.

Title: Coloring For All Season - Spring
Author: River Grove Books
Publisher: River Grove Books
Publication Date: March 1, 2016
Source: Publisher Giveaway
Rating:  3.5 Stars

This particular coloring book focuses on the theme of Spring.  This means that a lot of the pictures within for you to color are of flowers and butterflies.  There are definitely other creatures throughout the coloring book, but those are the ones that stick out the most to me.

The pictures within range from pretty simple to quite complex.  So you should be able to find something that will suit your mood at the time.

However, the pages do feel quite thin.  Thankfully they are single sided.  So if you are wanting to color with markers, I would strongly suggest putting a page between the one you are working on and the next.  I would not trust this paper to not bleed the marker through.

Something I do really like though is that a few of the pictures contain quotes or poems that are Spring themed.  I think that this give an extra level of depth to the book  Unfortunately, they are just basic font type and not necessarily added in a creative way.

I received this book from a publisher giveaway.  All thoughts are my own.

Title: Wonderland - A Coloring Book Inspired by Alice's Adventures
Author: Amily Shen
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Watson-Guptill
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Source: Blogging for Books
Rating: 5 Stars

If you are a fan of Alice in Wonderland, Johanna Basford's coloring books, and/or Daria Song's coloring books, Wonderland is a coloring book that you need to add to your collection.

Wonderland is quite beautifully done.  It is not just a coloring book, it also tells a story as you go along.  Sometimes it incorporates words to detail parts of the story and other times it is just told with the pictures.

Also, there are pages within the book that ask you to add your own drawings to he pictures to complete them.  Letting you use not only your coloring skills, but also your doodling/drawing ones!

Now, unfortunately, the pages, while they feel thick, are double sided.  So unless you don't mind disrupting the story contained with in and losing another work of your coloring art, you probably won't be pulling out a page that you really like to frame and put up on the wall or gift.  I am also hesitant on using markers on it, but like I said the paper is pretty thick.  So I may get up the nerve to see if the markers I have will bleed through on a not so favorite page.

This review is based on a copy provided to me through Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Title: DC Super Heroes Origami
Author: John Montroll
Illustrator: Min Sung Ku
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Capstone Young Readers
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 stars

Origami - the fine art of paper folding.  It is an art form that a lot of people are familiar with in one way or another.  Like take myself for example, I really like making lucky stars.  There is something calming about folding the paper over and over and ending up with a tiny little star.  Then you can fill up a jar with all of your little star creations and give it as a gift or keep it for yourself.

But enough about folding little stars, this book doesn't teach you to do that.  Instead, it teaches you how to fold things having to do with the DC Super Heroes.  You know? Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, etc etc etc.  Those guys.

This particular origami book contains the directions to complete 46 different projects.  Some of them are fairly simple and others are much more complex.  Each project comes with step by step directions in the form of pictures showing you what and were to make the next fold.  And, of course, there are pictures of the finished project so you can see if your origami piece came out like it should have.

You may be wondering about paper, but you don't need to.  This book is actually quite thick and that is because a good chunk of this book is actually paper for you to use in the projects.  96 pieces in total!  Definitely adding to the value of this book.  And the paper is the paper that you need for the projects, not just random pieces with various designs.

All in all, I am impressed with this origami book.  It is going to give me hours of entertainment!  Though it will take some practice on my part to get these designs down...

This review is based on a copy provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Book Blitz: Armada by Ernest Cline - The Paperback Release!

So, awhile back I was pleased to present you with my review of Armada by Ernest Cline (found HERE) and now I am pleased to announce to you that Armada is finally releasing in paperback!  Isn't the cover just awesome?  It really does the story justice if you ask me.

Anyways, here some fun information for you and a lovely giveaway for you to enter!  Check it out!

First check out this excerpt from Armada!

I didn’t remember unzipping my backpack, or taking out the tire iron, but I must have, because now I had the cold steel rod clenched in my hand, and I was raising it to strike.

All three of my opponents stood frozen for a moment, their eyes wide. The Lennys threw up their hands and started backing away. Knotcher’s eyes flicked over to them, and I saw him registering that his simian pals had bowed out of the fight. He started moving backward too.

I looked at the curb a few feet behind him, had a nasty thought, and followed through on it by lunging at Knotcher with the tire iron. He lurched backward and—just as I’d hoped—caught a heel on the concrete rise and landed flat on his back.

And then I was standing over him, looking down at the tire iron clutched in my hands.

Off to my left, someone screamed. My head snapped around and I saw that an audience had gathered— a handful of students on their way in to first period. Among them one girl, too young and deer-in-the-headlights to be anything but a freshman, slapped a hand over her mouth and flinched backward as I looked her way. As if she was terrified that I—Zack the school psycho—would choose her as my next target.

I glanced back at the Lennys, who were now standing among the students who had gathered to watch the fight. All of the onlookers seemed to be wearing the same expression of horrified anticipation, as if they believed they might be seconds away from witnessing their first homicide.

A wave of cold shame washed over me as the intensity of my rage faded away. I looked down at the tire iron clutched in my hands and let it clatter to the pavement. I heard a chorus of nervous laughter behind me, along with more than one relieved sigh.

I stepped away from Knotcher. He slowly got to his feet. We stared at each other for a moment, and he looked as if he was about to say something when his gaze shot upward, focused on something in the sky behind me.

When I turned around, I saw a strange-looking aircraft approaching from the east, moving at an incredible speed. The closer it got, the more familiar it looked. My brain still refused to accept what my eyes were seeing—until a few seconds later, when the craft braked to a dead stop and hovered directly over us, close enough for me to make out the Earth Defense Alliance crest stenciled on the side of its armored hull.

“No way,” I heard someone whisper. A second later, I realized it was me.

It was an ATS-31 Aerospace Troop Shuttle, one of the ships used by the Earth Defense Alliance in both Armada and Terra Firma. And it was about to land in front of my high school.

I definitely wasn’t hallucinating this time: Dozens of other people were staring up at the shuttle in amazement, too. And I could hear the rumble of the shuttle’s fusion engines and feel the heat from their exhaust buffeting my face. It was really up there.

As the shuttle began to descend, everyone in my vicinity scattered like roaches, heading for the safety of the school.

I just stood there like a statue, unable to look away. The ship was identical to the troop shuttles I’d piloted while playing Armada, right down to the EDA crest and identification bar code stamped on the underside of its hull.

The Earth Defense Alliance can’t be real, Zack, I assured myself. And neither can that shuttle you think you’re looking at right now. You are hallucinating again, only it’s much worse this time. This time, you’re having a full-on psychotic break.

Reprinted from Armada Copyright © 2015 by Dark All Day, Inc. Published by Broadway Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC.

Now check out this super awesome Q&A with the Uber-Geek Ernest Cline himself!

A Conversation with Screenwriter, Novelist, Time Traveler,
and Uber-Geek Ernest Cline
Author of ARMADA: A Novel 
(Broadway Books, on sale April 12, 2016)

Q) Let’s get right to the elephant in the room. The news is now out that your debut novel, Ready Player One, will be made into a film by Warner Brothers and legendary director Steven Spielberg (set to debut in theaters March of 2018)! What did you do when you got the news?
A) I pinched myself a few hundred times to make sure I wasn’t dreaming—then I re-watched all of his movies—including the Indiana Jones films, which helped inspire certain elements of RPO’s story, along with E.T. and Close Encounters, two Spielberg films that played a large role in inspiring Armada. His work has influenced me throughout my life and writing career, so it’s a dream come true to have the opportunity to collaborate with him on the film adaptation of a story that his work helped inspire.

Q) What do you think of the casting announcements that have been made already?
A) I think they’re fantastic! I’ve been a fan of Ben Mendelsohn’s acting since the ’80s, and his portrayal of John Daggett in The Dark Knight Rises is all the proof I need that he’s perfect for the role of Sorrento. Olivia Cooke is amazing on Bates Motel and in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. She’s going to make a great Art3mis! And after seeing Tye Sheridan in films like Mud and Joe, I think he’s one of the most talented young actors working today, and that he’ll do an incredible job playing Wade Watts. 

Q) For decades, science-fiction writers have been predicting some of the most incredible futuristic concepts that have become reality, such as debit cards, video conferencing, ear buds, and even accurate details about men landing on the moon. In Ready Player One, the merging of virtual reality technology and social media that you write about is now a reality with the Oculus Rift virtual reality company being bought by Facebook . Are there any similar futuristic technologies in Armada that you think will become reality in the next few years?
A) Yes, but the future is happening so fast now it’s getting more and more difficult to stay ahead of it. Armada’s plotline involves two concepts—quantum data teleportation and 3-D drone printing—that were still science fiction when I started the book, and then became a proven reality before I finished it. I need to write faster.

Q) In the novel, Zack’s Armada pilot call sign is IronBeagle, an homage to the Snoopy vs. the Red Baron album. Did you have fun creating the other various call signs in the novel: RedJive, MaxJenius, Viper, Rostam, Whoadie, AtomicMom, Kushmaster5000?
A) Pilot call signs are always fun to create—like an avatar’s name in Ready Player One; it’s a nickname a person creates for themselves, so it invariably says something about their self-image and their character—like each of the call signs you listed above.

Q) Talk to us about Xavier’s Raid the Arcade mix playlist in the book. How did you choose the songs, which became an essential part of Zack’s Armada gaming ritual? Do you have any rituals of your own when it comes to playing videogames?
A) Many of those are songs from the mix tapes I used to make to listen to on my Walkman at the local arcade. Some of the songs are from movies that played a role inspiring Armada’s story, like the song “Iron Eagle” by King Kobra, from the film of the same name.

Q) In Armada, Zack and his father, Xavier Lightman, your novel’s two main heroes, are both big science-fiction fans. The book is filled with references to sci-fi films, such as The Last Starfighter, E.T., Aliens, the Star Wars franchise. Dare to share your all-time favorite sci-fi flick?
A) My all-time favorite sci-film would have to be Star Wars, aka Episode IV—A New Hope. The movie and its sequels created the entire mythology of my youth, and altered the course of my life and career.

Q) In Armada, Zack soon finds out that the EDA (Earth Defense Alliance), a top-secret global military coalition, is not just a fictional agency featured in the videogames he’s been playing. If the EDA were real (and we’re not saying they aren’t) and invited you to join their ranks, would you? Would Moon Base Alpha be your first station of choice, or would you prefer something closer to home?
A) Of course I would join up! If the EDA existed, I would have to pitch in and use my gamer skills to help save the world. But I would prefer to stay here in Austin and telecommute, so I could fight off the invasion from the comfort of my couch, without changing out of my pajamas. 

Q) There is a romantic plotline woven throughout the novel, albeit one that is a bit nontraditional (boy meets girl as Earth is under attack from alien invaders, girl is a kick-ass gamer who helps save boy’s butt during attack, you get the gist). Did you feel it was essential to add this element, or did the relationship between Zack and Lex come about naturally as you were writing the novel?
A) It came about naturally as I was writing. I love stories with strong female characters, who kick just as much ass (if not more) than their male counterparts, so the stories I write usually tend to have a few of them. I also believe that every good adventure story also includes a little romance. And some rock and roll, too.

Q) If you could meet anyone from pop culture—actor, singer, game creator—dead or alive, who would it be and why?
A) Carl Sagan. Because he changed my life by opening my eyes to the nature of the world and the cosmos, and I’d love to be able to thank him in person.

Q) The first arcade game you ever played was Space Invaders. Is there a game that you’ve been playing recently that’s become a new obsession?
A) Finishing this book has been my only obsession for the past few years. But during my research, I did play a lot of space combat and flight simulation games, both old and new. The problem with playing videogames as “research” for a novel is that you never want to stop playing to go off and actually write it.

 Q) Many people look back at the ’50s and ’60s as a watershed moment for science-fiction writing, but do you see the ’70s and ’80s as an even richer epoch for inspiration with the confluence of all the new videogames introduced and some of the best science-fiction TV and movies ever made (to my mind!)?
A) The ’70s and ’80s are a rich era for sci-fi inspiration (at least, for me) because that was the dawn of the computer, videogame, and Internet age—the one we still live in now. It was also a golden age for movies and television shows, which may be why every property from that time is being reimagined or rebooted right now.

Q) Armada is dedicated to your brother, Major Eric T. Cline. What is your relationship like and why did you choose to dedicate the book to him?
A) My brother and I are very close, and have been our whole lives. He’s always been a huge inspiration to me. He joined the Marine Corps as a lowly private, and over the past two decades he has worked his way up through the ranks to become a major while he traveled all over the world helping people and risking his life for his country and his comrades. Seeing all the sacrifices he and his family have had to make during his various deployments was part of the inspiration for Armada’s story and characters.

Q) There is a rumor you now own not one but two DeLoreans. How on Earth did that come about?
A) I bought a second DeLorean to give away as the grand prize in the Ready Player One Easter Egg Hunt. A few years later, the contest winner decided to sell the car to pay off some unexpected medical bills, so I decided to buy it back from him. Then I gave it to my brother, Eric, so now I’m back down to just one time machine, which is plenty.

Q) Is it true that George R. R. Martin once borrowed your DeLorean to help promote the opening of his new bar (complete with a Back to the Future screening)? There has to be one heck of a story here. Please explain!
A) George and I had met at a convention, where he had sat in my car. So when his theater decided to screen BTTF, he thought of me and asked to borrow my DeLorean. I said yes, of course! 

Q) For your Ready Player One book tour you drove your time-traveling DeLorean across the country. Did you take it out again for Armada?
A) No, I think one Time Machine Book Tour is probably enough to last a lifetime. I discovered that it’s not really safe to drive a tricked-out DeLorean on the interstate highway system, because the people around you are often swerving/driving recklessly while they attempt to snap a photo of your car to post on Facebook. There are safer ways to travel.

Q) It’s been a few years since you were last out on a book tour. Were you surprised by the fan response at your events this time around? Did it feel very different from your initial experience with Ready Player One?
A) Yes, the huge turnout for each of my Armada signings really floored me. It’s incredibly flattering and humbling to see hundreds of people cram into a bookstore just to hear me speak, and then to see all of those same fans wait patiently in line—sometimes for an hour or more—to get their books signed. Taking the time to do that is one of the biggest compliments you can pay any artist. I’m incredibly grateful to have my work reach such a wide audience, and to have so many people respond to it with such enthusiasm.

Q) Are there any particular moments or fan interactions that stand out to you from the tour?
A) This was the first tour where I had fans show up at my signings sporting Ready Player One–themed tattoos. It really blew me away. When someone pulls up their sleeve and they have three keys or three gates tattooed on their arm, I’m always awed by that level of enthusiasm. And moved that something I created could mean that much to them.

Q) We have to ask: As a serious Star Wars nerd, what were your feelings about The Force Awakens? How about the choice to pass the baton to Rian Johnson for Episode VIII?
A) I enjoyed the hell out of that movie. I’d been waiting to see Han, Chewie, Luke, and Leia together again on the big screen since 1983, and living up to 30 years of geek anticipation is no small feat. I thought J. J. Abrams knocked it out of the park. And Rian Johnson is one of the smartest and most gifted writer-directors of my generation—the generation that grew up with Star Wars. He’s such an exciting choice. Kathleen Kennedy really knows what she’s doing. 

Q) What’s your dream Star Wars spinoff movie? Any character or storyline you’re itching to see explored?
A) Yes! How about a whole movie covering the origin story of Saun Dann, the character portrayed by Art Carney in the Star Wars Holiday Special? He was a secret agent of the Rebel Alliance masquerading as a trader on the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk after the Battle of Yavin. You know that dude must’ve seen action during the Clone Wars, too. I’d also pay good money to see a stand-alone Star Wars flick about Willrow Hood."

Purchase this bad boy!

And now, the giveaway!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

Title: The Lover's Dictionary - A Novel
Author: David Levithan
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Picador
Publication Date: January 17, 2012
Source: Gift (#OTSPSecretSister)

The Lover's Dictionary is definitely one of the more differently formatted books I have ever read.  It is written as if it is a dictionary.  This makes each page a different word, a different definition, an different piece of the story.

The Lover's Dictionary details a relationship.  The ups and downs.  The ins and outs.  Not necessarily in order.

It is actually quite brilliant if you ask me.

Something I really liked about this is that the relationship could be between two anyones.  A male and a female.  A female and a female.  A male and a male.  It doesn't really matter.  David Levithan writes it in a way that you just never really know.

This is actually something I realized part way into the book.  I realized that I just placed genders on the two individuals involved in the love story.  I based them off of a passage that I misread.  Then, when I went back to that particular passage, I realized that they did not say what I thought.  This was actually a quite eye opening moment for me.

Oh. And the ending of this story?  IT TOTALLY PISSED ME OFF....but it was totally brilliant at the same time.

This one is also a super quick read.  You will easily have it done in a matter of hours.

My Rating
5 Stars

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Neverland Wars by Audrey Greathouse

Title: The Neverland Wars
Author: Audrey Greathouse
Series: The Neverland Wars #1
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication Date; May 9, 2016
Source: Author

Imagine that magic was real and that it was powering most of the items we currently have while science and technology are still trying to figure out how to make it work without needing magic to power it.

Imagine waking up one day and discovering that your little sister was gone.  That in the middle of the night she was whisked away to Neverland by Peter Pan.

That is what happened to Gwen.  One day she is telling her sister fairytale stories past bedtime and the next day her sister is off living in one.

Before all this happened, Gwen was just trying to figure out boys and the teenager life.  The point in life where your life is a blur.  You don't feel quite like an adult, but you also don't feel quite like a child any more.  The point where you think you want to be an adult, but you also don't want to let go of all the simply childhood joy you have been experiencing to disappear.

I have got to say, The Neverland Wars was so well written, that I easily found myself lost in the words.  I was able to go pages and pages without realizing that time had passed.  This was even the case when nothing was really going on in the story.  I just kept going, finding myself immersed.

I also think that Audrey Greathouse was able to hit the nail on the head when it comes to being a teenager.  All of that inner turmoil about growing up was captured brilliantly.  And the growing up part of the storyline was kept pretty true to the feeling of Peter Pan.

Ah, Peter Pan.  Now that was a character I can't say I liked very much actually.  I found him to be a little too aloop and pompous at times.  Maybe it was because he was a preteen himself?  And preteens can be pretty difficult themselves.  But there was something about him that I just didn't really find myself liking.

For those who like to know, especially since this is a book marketed towards young adults.  There is some language usage and mentions of drugs and underage drinking.  This all occurs towards the end of the book.

And if you follow me on Twitter you may have seen me ranting at Audrey Greathouse about the ending.  But you know what that means?   It means I am going to have to read the second one!

This review is based on an eARC provided by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

My Rating
4 Stars

Sunday, April 24, 2016

#ARCApril 2016 Progress Week 3

I'm sad.  We are entering into the final week of #ARCApril.  I have enjoyed this fun reading event so much and it has been very helpful in getting through some of bajillion ARCs that I have acquired.

I got through 3 more this past week, bringing my grand total to 9!  I won't lie, I am pretty impressed with myself.  Especially since none of them this week were picture books :P

I am already thinking way ahead to #ARCAugust.  Currently I think I may use that event to focus on Netgalley books since the majority of the ones I read this time have been physical copies.  I definitely have a bunch on my Netgalley that it wouldn't hurt to focus on those for a month.

I am hoping to get through at least a couple more during this final week.  If you are participating, how are you doing?

Title: Scrap City
Author: D. S. Thornton
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Capstone Young Readers
Publication Date: October 1, 2015
Source: Publisher

Title: The Neverland Wars
Author: Audrey Greathouse
Series: The Neverland Wars #1
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication Date; May 9, 2016
Source: Author

Title: Free Verse
Author: Sarah Dooley
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 15, 2016
Source: Publisher

Friday, April 22, 2016

Blog Tour: Balthazar Fabuloso in the Lair of the Humbugs by I.J Brindle

Title: Balthazar Fabuloso in the Lair of the Humbugs
Author: I.J. Brindle
Illustrator: Sholto Walker
Series: Stand Alone (at this time)
Publisher: Holiday House
Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Source: Publisher

Balthazar Fabuloso in the Lair of the Humbugs is an extremely fun, incredibly strange read!

No, honestly, this book got weirder and weirder the further I got into it.  Which, in my opinion, is perfect for the age range it is intended for (middle grade) because it will keep them interested and going!

So what is Balthazar Fabuloso in the Lair of the Humbugs about exactly?  Well, it is about Balthazar Fabuloso mostly and his family.  See, Balthazar doesn't really fit with the rest of the Fabuloso group.  They are all magicians, but they are all REAL magicians.  And by real I mean that they have ACTUAL magic, not just sleight of hand tricks.

Everyone in the Fabuloso family has real magic.  Everyone except for Balthazar that is.  He is just a normal kid.  He has no magic skills whatsoever.  He has to rely on sleight of hand to help his family out in their stage show.

Needless to say, this doesn't make Balthazar feel very good about himself.

It also doesn't help that his family is a bit down and out on their luck.  Their family mansion is falling apart.  They have a nemesis in the Fistulas - another real magic family trying to take their show.

Oh and then one day in the middle of a show all of Balthazar's family, except for him, disappear.

I know it doesn't necessarily sound weird from my brief description of the story, but yes, trust me, it is.  There are tarantula pets.  Magic.  Very weird family members.  And a lot of other things that I don't want to mention!

As far as the visuals I got while reading this story, wow.  I had absolutely no trouble imagining anything!  I was surprised a little with how dark some of the stuff was, but that probably made my own personal visuals that much better.  Nothing was too scary or anything, just unexpected.

The characters, over all, were fun and very quirky.  And I mean it.  They were very very quirky!  Some more than others, but each was special in their own way.  Very imaginative!

I definitely recommend this book.  It was a lot of fun and kept my interest the whole way through, and I am way above the intended age group!  I do hope that there will be more books filled with Balthazar Fabuloso and his insanely creative adventures!

This review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

My Rating
5 Stars

Blog Tour Schedule!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Firstlife by Gena Showalter

Title: Firstlife
Author: Gena Showalter
Series: Everlife #1
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: February 23, 2016

Can you imagine knowing that you will have a second life?  That after your first life is over, you will still continue to live?

That is how life is in Firstlife for Ten and all the rest.  They know that once their initial life is over, that they will get to continue on in another life.  Then, eventually, they will get to experience the final rest.

However, it is not that easy.  Each person is supposed to choose a side during their firstlife that they will be a part of in their second.  Myriad or Troika.  Dark or light.  And if they don't choose by the time they reach the end up their first life they end up in a different place.  A place that no one really knows anything about...

In Firstlife, our main character is Ten.  Her parents are trying to get her to sign to Myriad.  There are multiple reasons as to why, and Ten isn't even quite sure what all of them are.  However, Ten doesn't know if she wants to sign with Myriad.  She also doesn't know if she wants to sign with Troika.  All she knows is that she wants to make the right choice and that she doesn't want an outside influence to help her make her decision.

As a way to help persuade her to sign Myriad, Ten's parents send her off to an institution whose whole point is to help them choose...  It isn't a very nice place.  Not at all.  It is a "by what ever means necessary" kind of place.

Then to top it off, it seems that both sides really really really want her and she has no idea why.  They want her enough to kill her so the other side can't have her if that is what it takes.

Oh and there are boys.  Hot boys.  Yay!

Firstlife really got to me while I was reading it.  It really made me think about life and what happens after it.  So while it was a fantasy type story, it was still really hard hitting.  So hard hitting that I still find myself thinking about the whole thing MONTHS after I initially read it.

I mean, it affected me so much that it took me months to finally bring myself to write my review for it.  I keep thinking and feeling on what I read.  I am still not over this book and it has been 4 months since I finished reading it, and I am only now telling you my thoughts and feelings about it.  That should say a lot about how this book got to me.

I also had to read something much lighter after this book.  I was about to read another hard hitting book that was going to punch me in the emotional gut, but I couldn't.  It was going to get to me too much mentally.  I just couldn't do it.

I liked that it got to me though.  It can make it harder to get through when it keeps making you think about life and your own existence and what not, but I think that is important.  While sometimes I like a good fluffy read, other times I really love an emotional gut punch.

And Firstlife will do just that to you.  It will punch you so hard in the emotional gut that you will still be recovering from it months after you finish reading it.

This review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Irish Banana Blog Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.

My Rating
4 Stars

Sunday, April 17, 2016

#ARCApril 2016 Progress Week 2

Week 2 for #ARCApril 2016 has come and gone.  And I sadly didn't get too many books added to my total.  In fact, I was only able to read 2 more.  One of which was a children's picture book.

The other one, however, was a 600 page book I kept putting off - Illuminae.  OMG. I am so mad at myself for having put this book off for so long!  There will be an official review posted for it at some point, but for now we will just say that I LOVED it.  Also, I must thank this fun #ARCApril challenge for getting me to pick it up.  I probably would have kept putting it off!

Last week I read 4 ARCs and this week I managed to read 2 more.  This brings my grand total up to 6!  Hopefully I can do better this next week.  I do have a couple already in the works :)

How about you?  How did you do this last week?

Title: Froggy Goes to the Library
Author: Jonathan London
Illustrator: Frank Remkiewicz
Series: Froggy
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 15, 2016
Source: Publisher

Title: Illuminae
Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminae Files #1
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 20, 2015
Source: First in Line

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Picture Book Wall (#9)

Hi hi hi!

It is finally time for another installment of The Picture Book Wall!  I may be an adult, but I definitely enjoy reading picture books and sharing my thoughts with you all.  I can't wait until my bug is old enough to tell me her thoughts on them too.  I totally plan on sharing them, but she needs to learn some words for that to be able to happen.

All in good time.

I hope storytimes have been going well for all of you.  My daughter has actually been "reading" on her own lately.  AKA - she has been flipping the pages of the cardboard books that I leave out for her and sometimes works on eating them.  She is only 1 though, so I forgive her.

Who knows, maybe there is something we forget as we grow older.  Perhaps not are only books good brain food, but good tummy food too.  Maybe there is a taste to those cardboard books when you are younger that is just too delicious to deny and then as we grow up, we lose the ability to taste it.

Sorry.  For myself I am reading a spin on the tale of Peter Pan.  If you can't tell, it is rubbing off on the way I think about somethings recently!

Anyways, here are my picture book reviews for you this month!

Title: The Best Days Are Dog Days
Author: Aaron Meshon
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Dial Books
Publication Date: April 12, 2016
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 Stars

The Best Days Are Dog Days is a story about a dog and a little girl.  It details a day in the life of the two, but instead of being told by the little girl, it is told by the dog!

It is a really simple, but still very good book to read to a little one.  Especially a little one who has a dog or loves dogs.  Despite its simplicity, this book offers a lot of chances to start a conversation about what you see on any given page.  It also offers you the chance to discuss the different items that you can see on the page.

The art work is also very bright and very enjoyable to look at.  It is quite fun.  My little one spent a good couple of minutes after we finished reading it to flip through the pages herself.

Oh, and she squealed more than once while we read the story (she doesn't really have any words yet, so this means she liked it).

This review is based on a copy provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Title: Love Monster
Author: Rachel Bright
Series: Love Monster
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Publication Date: December 24, 2013
Source: Purchased
Rating: 3 stars

I am going to be totally honest with you on this one.  I am very torn with my feelings about it.  On one hand I like it and think it is really cute while on the other hand I think it is a little bit depressing.  I guess I should explain that a little bit...

I think the monster is super cute.  He looks like something I just want to pick up and hug.  If I think that, I am sure that kids who read or have this book read to them will think the same thing about this little guy.

I also like the artwork.  I don't really know why, but there is something about it that I find pleasing and nice to look at.

What I find depressing about it though is the storyline.  The story is about the little love monster and how he has no friends.  The love monster then sets out to find some friends, and he just about gives up.  Then, when he has pretty much given up all hope of finding a friend, he finds another monster.

I understand the underlying message of this story, but I still think it is a tad bit more sad than it needs to be.

Title: Froggy Goes to the Library
Author: Jonathan London
Illustrator: Frank Remkiewicz
Series: Froggy
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 15, 2016
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 Stars

I am a sucker for books that try to promote the love of books and reading in kids.  I think it is a great cause and a great lesson.  And thankfully, Froggy Goes to the Library doesn't disappoint.

What is more awesome, is this book also promotes the love of storytime!

So what is this book about?  It is about Froggy who finds out that they are going to the library that day.  He is so excited that he keeps forgetting to do things like getting dressed and eating breakfast.  Good thing his mom is there to remind him!  Eventually they get the library where Froggy's excitement gets him into a little bit of trouble with the librarian.  However, eventually it is storytime.  Froggy tries very hard to avoid storytime, believing that he is too old for such a thing.  In the end, though, he gets pulled in and lets his excitement get the better of him again!

Froggy Goes to the Library is quite a fun read and perfect for a storytime!  There are plenty of places that allow for you, the reader, to really get into it.  Not only that, there are times when you can get the littles that you are reading to to join in!  So much fun!

This review is based on a copy provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Blog Tour: Once Upon a Dream by Liz Braswell - A Pocket Letter Giveaway!

Title: Once Upon a Dream
Author: Liz Braswell
Series: A Twisted Tale #2
Publisher: Disney Press
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Source: Irish Banana Blog Tours

I am pleased to present you all with my pocket letter that I created themed off of Once Upon a Dream by Liz Braswell.  It was a lot of fun to make!  I actually had the perfect pad of paper to use to create the backgrounds of the cards too!  It must have been destiny :)

This first card represents our main character who just happens to be a princess.  In fact, the princess in question in Once Upon a Dream is Aurora from Sleeping Beauty.  This story is actually a retelling of her story, but instead of waking up when her true love kisses her - he falls asleep! 

This card here is for the author of Once Upon a Dream Liz Braswell.  I've got to say, after reading this book by her, I am very interested in reading more of her work. 

Here I share with you some of my thoughts on Once Upon a Dream.  Simply put I thought it was a great idea and a very clever spin.  Though it did end up being darker than I thought it would be.  Over all though, I am happy with what I experienced.

Ahh the ever important washi sampler pocket.  This one I went with some love themed washi tapes and a pink polka dot one because I liked it and thought it went with the pocket letter over all.

I don't really think I need to explain this card to you, but just in case I do - it is the title of the book.

Probably my most complex card.  On one level it is representing our villain Maleficent.  Then it represents that Aurora is trapped in a dream....and then it also represents Aurora.  When you read it, that last one should make a little more sense.

Of course you can't have a Sleeping Beauty story without Fairies!

And finally we have the piece that represents the prince.  He is a good hearted fella.  He also is very firm in his belief of having fallen in love with Aurora at first sight.


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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Blog Tour: Coral Reefs - Cities of the Ocean by Maris Wicks

Title: Coral Reefs - Cities of the Ocean
Author: Maris Wicks
Series: Science Comics
Publisher: First Second
Publication Date: March 29, 2016
Source: Publisher

Well, I will be the first to admit that I have never really had much of an interest in coral reefs.  To me they were just a thing in the ocean.  I don't even know if I ever really considered them to be a plant, an animal, or even alive.

Needless to say, I really didn't know very much about them and what little I had learned way back when I was a kid had obviously been forgotten.

Not any more though.  This book is full of information!  And it is put into an easy and fun format.  I definitely learned a lot while reading through this "comic." 

That being said though, there was a lot to learn in this one little book.  It is something I could read multiple times over and still have more in there to learn and to commit to memory.  I was actually pretty surprised by how much information was put into this book and I am pretty sure it is only the very tip of the ice berg when it comes to information on coral reefs and the things that live within them.

This book though, is not entirely information.  It is done in a comic book style.  The "teacher" is a tiny little fish.  He cracks quite a few jokes while telling you all about coral reefs which helps to keep the whole thing light and entertaining even though you are learning.  And then there is the artwork.  It is very bright and fun to look at.

All in all, Coral Reefs is a very nicely done book filled with a lot of information.

This review is based on a copy provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

My Rating
4 Stars

Visit the rest of the tour!

Date of Post (April)
Stephanie Torina
Kristine Hall
Jessica Harker
Kaitlyn H
No blog but
Marcilia Loubach
Mia Swartz
Cody Roecker
Heather DeFilippis
Amber Mann
Sierra Davenport