Monday, December 28, 2015

Cry of the Sea by DG Driver

More info*
Publication date: 2014
Publisher: Fire and Ice
Pages: 200
My rating: 3 stars
Ages: 13+
Series: Juniper Sawfeather

Juniper "June" Sawfeather has spent her entire life helping her environmental activist parents try to save the planet, one small thing at a time. When an oil company's tanker leaks into the ocean, June and her father are the first on the scene. Among the dead and dying oil covered sea life, June finds something almost unbelievable--a mermaid. The next few days see June and her parents trying to convince the world the horrors of oil spills as well as protecting the mermaid. Will big oil find the mermaid and downplay the consequences of the spill or will June and her parents succeed?

I thought that the book dragged a little at the beginning, but a third of the way through it started to pick up. The take on mermaids was completely different than anything else. I have to admit that I thought that they were going to be the pretty, human-like creatures I've grown used to. But it was a good take, especially with how the other characters reacted, creating a conversation that I could see happening. Driver also included Native American tales and culture, mixed with the modern environmentalism.

I wish that the book had been longer and more fleshed out. I would have liked to have seen more interaction between June and the mermaid, as well as with the other characters. The story seemed to end fast, leaving me wanting to know more about the mermaid and what June planned to do if she ever met them again. Perhaps these are questions Driver will answer in another of the books in the series.

No language or sexual situations.

*I received this book from the author in exchange for this review.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Mirrored by Alex Flinn

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Publication date: 2015
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 374
My rating: 3.5 stars
Ages: 13+

After her mother is tragically killed, Celine's father marries Violet--a beautiful, attentive, and loving stepmother. Until Celine gets older and then it seems that Violet becomes jealous of her. Celine tries to stay away from home when she can, but when she is home, the cats and even the appliances seem to attack her. All Celine wants is to make friends and get away from her stepmother. Neither is as easy as it seems.

It's a story we have all heard before. Beautiful queen threatened by a younger, more beautiful girl. The queen tries to kill her, but the girl escapes to live with little people. But Flinn turns the story of Snow White on its head in this modern retelling, introducing new twists and interesting characters.

I have long since liked Flinn, since I read Beastly. She has the unique capability of placing fairytales in a contemporary setting, put magic in them, and yet still have the characters believable and empathetic. However, I did feel that there were a few inconsistencies in the character of Kendra, who has appeared in most--if not all--of Flinn's retold fairytales, including the mention of turning a boy into a beast (from Beastly), but saying that in the 1980s. I haven't double checked, but since part of Beastly is told in a chatroom, I'm pretty sure that it happened after the events at the beginning of the novel.

Despite that, the novel is fun with interesting twists and turns. It isn't necessary to read Flinn's books in the order they were written, though I think Beastly should be read first.

No language and no sex.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon

Monday, December 14, 2015

You're Never Weird on the Internet (almost) by Felicia Day

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Publication date: 2015
Publisher: Touchstone
Pages: 258
My rating: 4 stars
Ages: 16+

From homeschooled "weirdo" to actor/writer/producer, Felicia Day shares the moments throughout her life that created confidence, ignorance, joy, and anxiety. From the her first experience with the internet to creating her own web series, each chapter is filled with funny anecdotes and quick wit.

Felicia shares a story about meeting Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura in Star Trek) at a comic con and feeling like she made a complete fool of herself. It just happens that I met Felicia at that exact con. I waited for about two hours in her line to meet her (so worth it) and had been thinking about what I wanted to say to her. Once I got to the front of the line and said it, I was so relieved that I didn't hear her reply and had to count on my sister and brother-in-law to tell me what she said later. The point of this is that reading about Felicia's run-ins with other celebrities made me feel a lot better about myself.

And I think that's kind of how this book goes. Felicia shares some story about herself, the reader identifies with it and feels better for being weird. There are other moments in the book (one that had me crying at 11 at night) that are sweet or inspiring. Because it seemed that Felicia wasn't going to let anything get her down and she was so determined to show everyone what she could do that she did it.

There is some strong language and sexual references.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Time Chamber by Daria Song

More info*
Publication date: 2015
Publisher: Watson-Guptill Publications
My rating: 4 stars
Pages: 80
Ages: all ages

The red haired fairy wonders what the world is like outside of her Time Garden. Once the girl falls sleep, the fairy creeps out and discovers many wonderful things.

I wasn't sure how much a "story" this book would have, since it's also a coloring book. And while there aren't very many words, the story is lyrical. Song's drawings just add to the magical feeling of the story about the red haired fairy.

Mostly, I was eager to start coloring and make the book and story my own in a way. So I pulled out my colored pencils and colored while catching up on my TV shows. One thing I learned what that I need to sharpen nearly all my pencils. Another was that once I made a color decision, I was going to have to stick to that throughout the entire book, if I wanted to appease any sort of perfectionism. Also, my fingers got a little tired from coloring.

The drawings are intricate and detailed, not at all like your child's coloring book, meaning that it could provide you with hours of relaxation and entertainment as you decide on color schemes and watch the drawings come to life.

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols & Other Typographical Marks by Keith Houston

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Publication date: 2013
Publisher: WW Norton & Company
Pages: 246 (not including end notes)
My rating: 4 stars

What exactly is the pilcrow? How did the hashtag get its start? Why don't we use the interrobang more often? These are all questions that Houston answers in this book. From the Greeks to Twitter, he shares the secret history of punctuation.

I have to admit something. My mom gave this book to me on my birthday in April and it took having "no other books" to read for me to pick it up. But the moment I read the Foreword, I was hooked. This isn't your dry style manual.

Houston is clever, sharing the long history of symbols and punctuation with funny insights and some slight sarcasm. This more than just how to use punctuation, but how it started, who invented it, and in some cases how it disappeared. You go into the history of persons, peoples, and places, to help you better understand why punctuation is such a big deal.

I was having so much fun with it that I annoyed my sister the day she gave birth with pictures from the book and interesting things I had learned from it. (Don't worry, it was AFTER she gave birth, not while she was in the labor and delivery process.)

Recommended for language, writing, and history nerds.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.