Thursday, February 19, 2015

Making the Team by J. Scott Savage

To read my review of the first book in the series, click here: Zombie Kid.


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Title: Making The Team (Case Files 13 Series #2)
Author: J. Scott Savage
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Mid-Grade Horror
Rating: Fabulous
Alerts/Warnings: Creepy Monsters that the kids fight in a humorous way
Premise: "A mysterious private school has opened in town and Nick, Carter, and Angelo join forces with their rivals Angie, Tiffany, and Dana to uncover the mystery behind the school's inhumanly good football team" (King County Library System).
Opinions: This is mild-mannered horror at its best. I love this series.  I usually shy away from horror, but this is mid-grade version of horror. This book is full of laughs, pranks, punchy references, bodily noises, and loads of laugh out loud moments. I love the inter-relationship between the two groups of kids as they are trying to work together and the fantastic relationship with Nick's parents. It is also a great story about learning to cope with change.  For parents: This book is amazing, but it does have monsters that could be scary for more sensitive kids. Keep in mind I'm a highly sensitive adult. I was crept out, but the humor and the kids' ability to work together to overcome obstacles made this all worth it.  So my suggestion is read the book out loud or with your kid to gauge their reactions as to whether or not they can handle it.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ruins by Dan Wells

To read my reviews of the other books in this series, click here: Partials, Fragments.


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Title: Ruins (Partials Series #3)
Author: Dan Wells
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: YA Dystopian/Post Apocalyptic
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: Swearing, Killing Associate With Battle
Premise: "As a war between the humans and the Partials looms, Samm finds himself trapped beyond a toxic wasteland, and Kira finds herself under the control of Dr. Morgan who is desperate to save the Partials" (King County Library System).
Opinions:  Two books in one week. I know. . . amazing.  Well, I'm sick so I get time to actually catch up on reading and reviewing.  Yeah!!!  Anyway, this series is FABULOUS.  The only reason I didn't give all the books in this series top notch ratings  is simply because of the death toll and some swearing. The premise, the characters, and the setting are brilliant. Dan Wells does an amazing job of bringing new twists and turns to this genre. I am completely fascinated by the moral and ethical dilemmas in this book, watching the choices that individuals made and why, and then contemplating whether or not I would do the same.  This is a fantastic book for discussion and an engaging read. Once the cover is opened it is hard to put down. For the whole series I either ignored my family or had to make sure I could read it when they weren't around because I was in it so deep it was hard to stop. So is this series good.  Yes.  Should your teen read it? Well, that's up to you. You know them better than anyone. But it would make a great discussion of right vs. wrong, points of views, self-value, ethics, and dealing with consequences of your choices.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Candy Experiments 2 by Loralee Leavitt

To read my review of the first book, click here: Candy Experiments.

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Title:  Candy Experiments 2
Author: Loralee Leavitt
Reviewer: Karen
Genre:  Non-Fiction
Rating:  FABULOUS!!!!!
Alerts/Warnings:  None
Premise: "Following the success of the first Candy Experiments, this all-new collection presents more ways to destroy store-bought candy and learn some science in the process. Candy Experiments 2 delivers fun science facts from the perspective of a real mom in the kitchen doing crazy things with brand-name store-bought candy. Marshmallows, cotton candy, Pixy Stix, Jawbreakers, Pop Rocks, gummi candy, chocolate, and even soda provide good excuses to get destructive in the kitchen. Do Peeps dissolve when you drop them into very hot water? Can you make gummi candy disappear in water? What happens to cotton candy when you dip it in oil? Candy Experiments 2 is full of new ideas for learning science through candy. Each experiment includes basic explanations of the relevant science. The book is written for children between the ages of 7 and 10, though older and younger ages will enjoy it as well. "-- Publisher's website.
Opinions: Oh my gosh!!! I am SO excited to share this one. My daughter and I did the experiments in the first book and suddenly my daughter wanted to be a scientist.  When Loralee asked me to help beta-test some of her experiments for a second book I jumped at the chance. My daughter went nuts. We were doing experiments every other day. And now here is Loralee's new book out and ready for everyone to explore.  If you didn't love science when you were younger, try exploring this book with your kids and suddenly you'll find yourself loving it. More importantly you will be loving the time and connection you are making with your kids.  I made the "mistake" of handing out my copy of book two to a friend and my daughter is downright mad at me. She keeps asking if I've gotten the book back yet because she wants to do more science.  Now if that doesn't make a book special then I don't know what is.  These experiments let you explore what can happen to chocolate, pop rocks, gummy worms and all sorts of candy when you add a little scientific fun to them.  See what happens when you put them in water, or add a little heat, or in the freezer.   So is this book great?  Heck yeah!!!! Why haven't you gone out and gotten one yet?  Then tell me what kind of fun you and your motley crew have accomplished.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Make It With A Cake Mix by Lizzy Early

To read my review of Lizzy's other cookbook, click here: Your Cup Of Cake.

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Title: Make It With A Cake Mix
Author: Lizzy Early
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Non-Fiction Cookbook
Rating: Fabulous
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "Do you love the taste of from-scratch treats, but lack the time to slave over dozens of ingredients? Popular food blogger Lizzy Early has the sure fire solution, as she demonstrates that even the most elaborate desserts can be created from a simple cake mix. With dozens of recipes that ensure all of the flavor and none of the fuss, the bestselling author of Your Cup of Cake proves that you don't have to be a professional chef to create bakery-worthy sweets in your own kitchen. From luscious lemon cookies to rich red velvet doughnuts, family and friends will never believe that these gourmet goodies came from a box!" (GoodReads.com)
Opinions: OH MY HEAVEN!!!!  I loved Lizzy Early's first book, Your Cup of Cake, which I got for Mother's Day a few years back and have received rave reviews from many people when I make them any of those recipes.  Then, last week while volunteering at my local library, I saw that she had a new book out. Flipping through the glorious images of her creations my mouth started to drool.  Not only does she provide new cupcakes like S'Mores Cupcakes and Strawberry Red Velvet Cupcakes, but she has expanded her creations. Make It With A Cake Mix also includes such delectable recipes for Red Velvet S'Mores Bars, Chocolate Waffles, Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies, Carrot Cake Whoopies Pies, Ultimate Grasshopper Cookies, and Rocky Road Cake. And that's just that start. Everything sounds so amazing and looks completely incredible that I've already put it on my wish list for this Mother's Day.  So if you like to try new things and want to expand your baking options, then you must try out this cookbook.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Divergent by Veronica Roth

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Title: Divergent (Divergent #1)
Author: Veronica Roth
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: YA Dystopian
Rating: Like
Alerts/Warnings: Med Violence
Premise: "In a future Chicago, sixteen-year-old Beatrice Prior must choose among five predetermined factions to define her identity for the rest of her life, a decision made more difficult when she discovers that she is an anomaly who does not fit into any one group, and that the society she lives in is not perfect after all" (King County Library System).
Opinions: This is the first story where I felt was better understood after seeing the movie and reading the book.  I saw the movie first and then a friend loaned me a copy of her book since the library waiting list was extremely long. There were things that were explained really well in the movie and other things that made a lot of sense in the book. So together I felt it was a better story than either on their own. I personally had problems with the first person perspective as I would have loved to see the world in a move developed picture that a third person story provides. However, I enjoyed getting to see how Tris' mind worked and what she was emotionally experiencing. I liked Four better in the book, but felt the ending was rushed whereas it was move developed in the movie.  I liked the parents better in the movie, but understood the mom better from the book. So in all if you want a fully developed story read the book and watch the movie.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Fallen Angel by Lisa Swinton

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Title: Fallen Angel
Author: Lisa Swinton
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Adult Romance
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "Antonio does not believe in love at first sight until he sees her fall into a street in Milan and get hit by a motorcycle. Compelled to know if she can return his affection, he becomes Renatta's hospital volunteer only to learn that the accident erased her memory. Together they must discover her past, present and future. In the way of happily ever after stand her opera career, tyrannical mother, and fiancĂ©. Antonio must win Renatta's heart before she bends to the will of her mother and marries Marcello. Failure means a lifetime of loneliness, for love at first sight never happens twice" (GoodReads.com).  
Opinions: I haven't read a lot of romance lately as I'm trying to read in the genre that I'm writing in. But when this author sent me an copy to read I went for it and stepped out of my comfort zone. Fallen Angel has the feel of the movie While You Were Sleeping, but with intriguing twists. I was glad to see the majority of the story is told from Antonio's point of view. I enjoyed getting a greater glimpse of romance from a man's side of things, plus it was absolutely wonderful getting the Italian setting. What I loved most was the interactions between Antonio and Renatta as they learned who she was as a person; they felt flirty, fun and realistic. I was also fascinated by the family intrigue intertwined throughout the story.  Overall, I loved reading this story. If romance is your thing, then give this book a try.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fragments by Dan Wells

To read my review of the first book in this series, click here: Partials.

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Title: Fragments (Partials Sequence #2)
Author: Dan Wells
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: YA Dystopian
Rating: Fabulous
Alerts/Warnings: Mild language
Premise: "With the Help of Samm and Heron, Kira sets out on a desperate search for clues as to who she is, while Marcus and the remaining human population gear up for war with the Paritals"(King County Library System).
Opinions: Once again Dan Wells sucked me into this world of post-Break Earth and the struggle between humans and partials. His storytelling makes it hard to put this book down. I was fascinated by how he envisions what the world would physically be like after a virus and wars kill off the majority of the population. The downstream effects are fascinating. I still think the overall story provides a fantastic basis for a discussion on ethics, moral choices, and right from wrong based on one's point of view. I can't wait to read Ruins to see how the story resolves itself.  This series is definitely a should read.