Thursday, March 31, 2016

Pop Painting by Camilla d'Errico

More info*
Publication date: 2016
Publisher: Watson-Guptill Publications
Pages: 236
My rating: 3 stars
Ages: 14+

Pop artist Errico shares the secrets of her paintings, from the paints she uses to step by step instructions on certain elements that appear in her art.

I really liked d'Errico's approach to talking about art. It's casual and fun, never too serious. She talks in a positive way, never disparaging. Her paintings are bright and interesting. She's not afraid to share that sometimes things just don't work out or that it's hard to get to work sometimes. The step by steps were fairly thorough, but I think I would have understood better if I was actually being show in really time.

The biggest problems I had with it were editorial. D'Errico would frequently make reference to an acrylic glazing medium, putting (AGM) afterwards as if to show that that would be how she would refer to it later. Several times throughout the book, she would do this every time she talked about the medium--sometimes two or more times on the same page! I would have rather that she just called it "acrylic glazing medium" instead of "acrylic glazing medium (AGM)" several times, as I got frustrated that the initials were never used as such. I understand that it may have to be restated in a new section, but within sections it should be shortened.

I also wished that the paintings shared in the book were labeled by name, since d'Errico mentions them by name.

If anything, great coffee table book.

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

Monday, March 28, 2016

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

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Publication date: 2015
Publisher: Balzer+Bray
Pages: 371
My rating: 3.5 stars
Ages: 16+

"Willowdean . . . Cashier, Dolly Parton enthusiast, and resident fat girl." That's what Willowdean thinks she is, until she meets Bo, signs up for the local pageant, and loses her best friend. Suddenly, she wonders if her confidence was just an act and if she really doesn't know who she is or what she wants.

I really liked Willowdean. She was spunky and confident, but still insecure, which I think we are all. While Will's big fight was accepting herself at her weight and that people would still want to be with her, I think that really the book was just about accepting yourself not matter what and realizing that there are people who want to be with you. At the same time, while people may want to be with you, you have to love yourself first. You have to be comfortable with who you are. Because no matter how beautiful other people may say you are, you aren't going to believe it.

There was a lot of stuff in this book that I think it important for teenagers to know and learn, but I put the age so high because of the language and sexual discussions.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Jesse's Girl by Miranda Kenneally

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Publication date: 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Pages: 287
My rating: 2.5 star
Ages: 17+

When Maya tells her school she wants to be a rock star, she doesn't expect them to give her the chance to shadow teen heart throb Jesse Scott. After a rocky start, they spend a great day together. But it doesn't seem to be enough.

My first critique comes with the title. Throughout the book, Maya wants to do things for herself, not based on her friendship with Jesse. So, perhaps the book should have been called "Maya's Guy"? That's a small detail that I only just thought of.

I liked the idea of this book more than I actually liked the execution. There didn't seem to be much change in the characters, not enough that I felt that they had overcome any sort of hill. Not until the very last chapter.

There isn't much that kept me reading, except that I wanted to see it play out. Maya was interesting, being a different sort of person than everyone else in her town. I liked that she was close to her family and had a distinct personality. Jesse is pretty much the same, though the relationship with his parents seems a little exaggerated as does his reaction to certain events.

There is a lot of language and sexuality, including a sex scene.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.

Monday, March 14, 2016

A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston

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Publication date: 2015
Publisher: Hyperion
Pages: 325
My rating: 4 stars
Ages: 13+

To save her sister from the man who has killed hundreds of wives, she instead becomes his wife. Expecting to be killed every night, it is only the stories of her sister that keep her alive. Then she discovers that there is a power that makes her stories come true—a power that may just be able to saver herself and everyone she loves.

The first thing I want to talk about (and probably the thing that wowed me the most about this book) is how Johnston was able to create a world that was so different, but at the same time so believable. Maybe "believable" isn't the exact right word . . . She was able to create a world that was foreign and strange without having that strangeness take me out of the story. It was just a culture and land that I had never heard of before or experienced. I feel that there are many authors out there who create complex worlds with some many precise details that I get lost trying to figure out how it relates to the things I know, which takes me out of the story. Johnston's world drew me into the story. I didn't even notice until I was about 75 pages from the end that the main character didn't have a name.

I thought this was going to be another Scheherazade story, but while that tale influences this one, it becomes its own story very quickly. I really liked the main character/narrator. She showed a strength that we rarely see or applaud; a quiet strength that relies on thought, love, and courage, instead of physical fighting prowess.

The writing could be a little hard for younger readers to get past as it is written in a more formal, "higher" tone.

No language and little to none sexual contexts.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly

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Publication date: 2015
Publisher: Kathy DawsonBooks
Pages: 334
My rating: 4 stars

Zoe has just arrived in River Heights when Digby shows up asking for pictures. Little did she know that just a few months later she would end up outside a house about to blow up trying to figure out how to get back inside. That's how things work when you get mixed up in Digby's world. But as hard as she tries, Zoe just can't seem to get out.

I was about halfway through this book when I realized it was basically a modern day Sherlock, with Zoe as Digby's faithful companion and biographer and Digby the assertive and observant detective. It's not a perfect parallel, but I definitely think that anyone who likes Sherlock Holmes will like this book.

Digby is outrageous, making his character completely unpredictable, which is so much fun. And through her interactions with Digby, we see Zoe become a more confident individual. Each character was fun and original.

I look forward to a sequel.

No language; some discussions about sexual matters.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.