Friday, August 18, 2017

Book Review: The Princess and the Page by Christine Farley

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

Title: The Princess and the Page
Author: Christina Farley
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: March 28, 2017
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Fairytales
Length: 228 pages


Synopsis:
A dark secret lurks in Keira's family. She comes from a long line of Word Weavers who bring their stories to life when they use a magical pen. But Keira's mom is unable to face the truth of the family's history because the Word Weavers have been hunted for generations for their power. And so, she forbids Keira to write. Oblivious to the family's secret ability, and angry at her mom's rule of no fictional writing, Keira discovers her grandma's Word Weaver pen and uses it to write a story for the Girls' World fairy tale contest, believing it will bring her good luck. But when Keira decides to have her fairy tale reflect her family's imperfect life and has the princess in her story vanquished to a dark tower for eternity, she starts to wonder if anyone ever truly lives happily ever after. 

My Thoughts:
Keira's mother won't allow her to write stories, though deep in her bones, she feels the urge to do exactly that. When her best friend, Bella, talks her into writing a fairytale for a contest she uses the only pen left in the house; a special pen that her mother had thought was stolen. Acting out in anger against her mother's rediculous rules, Keira writes a story with an unhappy ending--and it wins the contest. The prize is a trip for four to the Chateau de Chenonceau in France where Gabrielle d'Estrees lived. But Keira finds it incredibly odd that Gabrielle was the name of her made up character. But that's not the only similarity to Keira's fairytale and she soon finds out that she plays a bigger part in the history of Chateau de Chenonceau than she thought possible. 

I love that this story sort of transcends just one genre. It's about a fairytale but it has a very strong mystery aspect to go along with the fantasy and it's also a bit of a ghost story! Plus that beginning had me thinking it was going to be a fast-paced thriller! I really love when children's stories go above and beyond like that.  

I found it fascinating that the author drew inspiration from a trip she took to the Chateau de Chenonceau in France and that Gabrielle d'Estrees was a real Duchess that lived there in the 1500's. Farley did a wonderful job at taking that experience and making this setting seem as real as possible. Also, I absolutely love when literature has a bit of history to it and loved learning more about this location and it's historical personas in the author's letter at the end of the book.   

The main character, Keira, is relatable with her overbearing, controlling mother and her urge to write. Her best friend, Bella, can be a little snippy at times but their friendship adds to the story. And Chet is the kind of kooky, mischief-maker character that I tend to love. He really helps push the girls beyond their comfort zones (or just joins in on their shenanigans) and keeps everyone on their toes. 

The overall idea of the Word Weavers is fantastic! I loved that a magical pen could change so much about the world and history. I could definitely see this idea continued on to other stories. I'd actually love to see Keira try to take on other bits of history (most likely with disastrous consequences!) 

This would be the perfect book for young readers who love fairytales, castles, a good mystery, or for any girls on the precipice of still wanting to be a princess and growing up. 


My Rating: 4.5 stars

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Bout of Books 20 Read-a-thon Sign Up & Goals


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The Bout of Books read-a-thon is orgnaized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon thatbegins 12:01am Monday, August 21st and runs through Sunday, August 27th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 20 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team
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Hurray! It's time for another Bout of Books Read-a-thon! I've been participating in these for the past few years now (since I started blogging) and it's the one read-a-thon I most look forward to (probably because I'm more comfortable with things I've done repeatedly.)
I haven't been the best with read-a-thons in the past couple of years (who has time to dedicate an entire day let alone a week to reading when you are a SAHM with a toddler?!) but I am so behind on my August TBR that this read-a-thon couldn't have come at a better time. I am pumped and motivated to participate and actually READ AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE! 

Ok, so my goals are to read at least 2 books. That IS low but I think that's a good average for one week considering that I'm such a slow reader lately. If I read more than that, GREAT! I really hope I do! 
Mostly, I'll be using this read-a-thon to get through my ARC August TBR!

Some ARCs I'm hoping I will get to:


I've also got a few library books checked out that I need to finish asap! 


___________________

And just so I don't forget (because I probably won't have time to check the site daily) here is the challenge/giveaways/twitter chats schedule:

Monday: Introduce yourself #insixwords
Tuesday: Synopsis rewrite
Wednesday: Book spine rainbow
Thursday: If you like this, try that...
Friday: Leave a book review
Saturday: Love to hate
Sunday: Free day!

Twitter chats:
(last approximately one hour)
TZC = Time Zone Conversion

Monday: 8pm CST (9pm EST)
Saturday: 10am CST (11am EST)


Good luck to everyone participating! Happy reading! 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Can't Wait Wednesday #20 - The Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris


Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa @ Wishful Endings and spotlights the books we are excited about and have yet to read. This meme is based on Waiting on Wednesday which is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine.

I can't wait for...
The Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris


Expected Publication: November 21, 2017
by Little, Brown Books
Goodreads

Synopsis:
From beloved award-winning actor, Neil Patrick Harris, comes the magical first book in a new series with plenty of tricks up its sleeve.

When street magician Carter runs away, he never expects to find friends and magic in a sleepy New England town. But like any good trick, things change instantly as greedy B.B. Bosso and his crew of crooked carnies arrive to steal anything and everything they can get their sticky fingers on.

After a fateful encounter with the local purveyor of illusion, Dante Vernon, Carter teams up with five other like-minded kids. Together, using both teamwork and magic, they'll set out to save the town of Mineral Wells from Bosso's villainous clutches. These six Magic Misfits will soon discover adventure, friendship, and their own self-worth in this delightful new series.

_______________

This sounds exactly like the type of children's books I enjoy most but Neil Patrick Harris is a huge bonus. I love him as an actor, as a father, and as a human being in general and would love to see what crazy stories he has locked away in that adorable head of his. I'm a little curious about whether he wrote this before or after his role as Count Olaf in the Series of Unfortunate Events because Bosso kind of gives me Count Olaf vibes (yes, just from the synopsis.) Nevertheless, this sounds like a fun story and I can't wait to read about this band of magical misfits.  

Monday, August 14, 2017

National Geographic Kids - Back to School with Weird But True! Planner & U.S. Atlas

I received free copies of these books from Nat Geo Kids and Media Masters in exchange for an honest review. 


It's that time of the year again! All the kids will be starting their first day of a new school year (if they haven't already). 
Whether you're sending your kids off to public, private, charter school or homeschooling your little ones all on your own, National Geographic Kids is a great source for all of your educational needs. 


Weird But True! Daily Planner:
365 Days to Fill with School, Sports, Friends, and Fun! 
Published June 13, 2017


While you're purchasing all those much needed supplies, don't forget about a planner to keep your kids motivated and on track! National Geographic Kids has put together a fantastic daily planner filled with tons of Weird But True style facts on every page to keep children learning something new every day. 

The formatting of this spiral-bound planner has four days per spread. I'm personally used to planners with an entire week on one spread but I like that this planner gives you plenty of space to write down everything you need for each day. There's enough room to write down something for each school subject and more! 
Something I especially like is that this planner is not limited to one specific year. So if you forget to use it this year, you can simply wait and use it next year instead! 

As shown on the right, each day of the year allows you to circle which particular day of the week it is. This in particular is perfect for me because I plan on homeschooling my little one next year and will need to keep track of our activities, field trips, etc. If this had been a strictly 2017-2018 planner I wouldn't have been able to use it as much as I would have liked. 

This planner runs from August 1st to July 31st so it's perfect for schooling!


There are several useful spreads in the very back of this planner to help your child with their homework. There's a world map and useful tips on how to read latitude and longitude lines as well as scale and direction. There's information on how to do proper research and how to write a report but that's not all. There are useful charts as well! 


United States Atlas
Fifth Edition

Published on July 11, 2017

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
*National Geographic Store*

Anyone wanting to learn more about the geography of the United States should definitely turn to this amazing atlas!

This book is incredibly easy to use with sections covering states in the different regions of our country, including the island territories. 

Each state has a fact box that includes basic information as well as some Geo Whiz facts. There are also photos that cover some of the interesting places or things in that state. 

Each map is covered in symbols to represent physical, political, and economic features. Every state page has a symbol key so you don't have to constantly flip back to the beginning of the book to figure out what one particular symbol means. 

In addition to each state, there are plenty of maps covering the United States as a whole. Some show the physical aspects of our country's mountain ranges, environmental changes, natural hazards such as earthquakes and hurricanes, population growth, and more.

We will definitely get plenty of use out of this as we learn about our country and it's geography and plan our cross-country vacations in the future. 

Many, many thanks to Media Masters for the chance to use these in our future homeschooling endeavors! 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Sunday Post #72 - August Blues

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer
It's a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things you received, share news about what is coming up on your blog for the week ahead, and more.

It has been an uneventful week here, thank goodness. I haven't been on top of things this week despite that there wasn't much going on. I didn't get much blogging done or read very much. I'm starting to feel a little overwhelmed again thanks to my library holds all coming in at once right when I'm in the middle of 2 challenges that sort of dictate what I can read. I'm breaking the rules anyway though since I'd been waiting on one book for 9 months (The Handmaid's Tale). Hopefully I can focus on reading and blogging more next week!

A few snapshots from my week.

NEW TO MY SHELVES
 Part of my secondhand books haul from last week, what I received in the mail, and my latest library haul. All in Insta-Story format because I apparently can't be bothered to take pictures of anything anymore unless it's for bookstagram... 

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED
Picture Book Review: Tidy by Emily Gravett
Book Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Can't Wait Wednesday: All The Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

RECENTLY READ

CURRENTLY READING

CURRENTLY LISTENING
I finally got this back on Overdrive. I'm only about 14 hours into the 45 hour audio though so who knows if I'll find the time to get even half way through it. Unfortunately, my library doesn't have many audiobook choices so I guess I don't really mind that this one is going to take me forever. 

BOOKSTAGRAM
I'm also linking up to Book Photo Sundays via Rabbit Ears Book Blog!

I'm really loving my bright blue theme right now!
By the way, in case you are interested, I am doing a Follow Train right now! The plan is that my sister and I will be co-hosting a Sarah J. Maas themed giveaway (on instagram) when we reach 1K followers and we're over 900 right now so it won't be long! I painted a special bookmark for this giveaway and it's gorgeous!
Follow me on Instagram!



Have a wonderful week! Happy Reading! 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Book Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Title: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Publisher: Balzer + Bray / HarperTeen
Publication Date: February 28, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Length: 444 pages
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

Literary Awards: 
Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Fiction (2017)

Synopsis:
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood  best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. 

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. 

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life. 

My Thoughts: 
"Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right."

This is the heartbreaking yet hopeful story of Starr, an intelligent young girl who witnesses the murder of her childhood best friend at the hands of a police officer. Starr ends up caught between doing right by her friend and protecting herself from the spotlight that this death brings about. It is more than that, though. It is about family, friends, and community. It is about speaking up for what is right.

Ok, yes, this book is sooo hyped up right now but I believe it deserves all of that hype and more. This is one of those books that everyone needs to read or at least know about. It is so incredibly relevant and gives us a glance into the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality against POC. 

I don't really read contemporaries but I knew from the get-go that I had to read this. It is books like this that remind us that our lives could be worse. That someone else out there in the world has it worse than us. More so--and I think this is a very important topic right now--it gives us a new perspective and shows us our privilege and, hopefully, how to learn from that.

The characters in this book are written so well. I could absolutely feel every bit of emotion from Starr as well as her parents, siblings, and friends. This story is so real and the emotions were so raw. I will admit that this made me tear up more than once and that hasn't happened to me in a while. 
Also, I loved how, despite how long this book is and the plethora of characters, they all seemed to have an important role in this story. Every character had their own little backstory. Starr was our star but every other character shone just as brightly. Even the ones that I really just wanted to give a good smack at times.

There's so much more to say about this book but I'm nearly at a loss for words how to better summarize this story and how to express how I felt about it. All I can say is that I think everyone with at least a smidge of empathy should read this. I don't think it's for everyone since it's such a controversial subject, but I hope that it opens a few eyes to the injustice in this world; especially in the U.S. 

I would not recommend this if you cannot handle excessive amounts of swearing. There's a lot of it. 

My Rating: 5 stars

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Can't Wait Wednesday #19 - All The Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater


Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa @ Wishful Endings and spotlights the books we are excited about and have yet to read. This meme is based on Waiting on Wednesday which is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine.

I can't wait for...
All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater


Expected Publication: October 10, 2017
by Scholastic Press
Goodreads

Synopsis:
Here is a thing everyone wants: 
A miracle. 

Here is a thing everyone fears:
What it takes to get one. 

Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars. 

At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts: Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo. 

They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect. 
__________________

If I didn't know who Maggie was, or that her books are always so unique, I probably wouldn't be too interested in this, to be honest. It does have a certain mystery surrounding it but if I was to put nearly any other author's name to this synopsis I'd just be 'meh' about it. But this is Maggie Stiefvater. And she's brilliant and I know that she does amazing things and has amazing ideas and that alone makes me super psyched for this. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Picture Book Review: Tidy by Emily Gravett

Title: Tidy 
Author: Emily Gravett
Publisher: Two Hoots
Publication Date: April 7, 2016
Length: 40 pages
Format: Hardcover


Synopsis:
Pete the badger likes everything to be neat and tidy at all times, but what starts as the collecting of one fallen leaf escalates quickly and ends with the complete destruction of the forest! Will Pete realize the error of his ways and set things right? 

My Thoughts: 
Pete the Badger loves to tidy things up. He helps the birds takes baths and combs the foxes fur until all the twigs, leaves, and burrs are gone. But things get out of hand when he starts to clean up all of the falling leaves in the forest. Pete tidies up so extensively that soon he's digging up the bare trees and getting rid of all the dirt. He only realizes how far he's gone when he can no longer find food to eat or get home to sleep. 

This is a cute little story that reminds us that we can sometimes take things a little too far. That there's no such thing as perfect and that we need to learn to accept things for how they are. 

I loved the illustrations so much! They are very calming, even when chaotic. I love the warmth in the colors and the details as well as the adorable forest animals. 


Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Sunday Post #71 - Already August?

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer
It's a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things you received, share news about what is coming up on your blog for the week ahead, and more.

I've been trying extra hard to catch up with all of my reviews and keep up with blogging this week but I'm already late today. I also put more effort into replying to comments and visiting more blogs. I've been pretty bad at that in the past few months because I've been focusing on just trying to keep up. I've been giving up my current bookstagram obsession little by little to do so but hey, it's all about balance, right? Unfortunately, I haven't been reading much this week even though I have a huge TBR for the month (to go along with both COYER and ARC August) AND I just got a few books in from the library that I had on hold for months so I need to prioritize better. But that's my life; always trying to squeeze all of my hobbies in between parenting, chores, and other obligations. It's what keeps me sane though so I'm not giving it up! 

NEW TO MY SHELVES
I was lucky enough to win this gorgeous prequel by Athena from Goodreads! I'm really looking forward to reading this! 

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED
Since last Sunday, I've posted my July Wrap-Up, my August TBR, a Can't Wait Wednesday, and two reviews.
I wrote a review for National Geographic Kids' 2018 Almanac

RECENTLY READ

CURRENTLY READING

CURRENTLY WATCHING
Hubby started Breaking Bad again so I've been watching a little bit of that with him but otherwise avoiding television.

BOOKSTAGRAM / Book Photos
I am linking to Book Photo Sundays via Rabbit Ears Book Blog!

I have been a little less active on instagram this past week but still trying to keep up.  Here's my new (bluer) theme for August and my feed from the end of July! :)
Follow me on instagram!

I hope you all have an amazing week! 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Book Review: The Dragons of Nova by Elise Kova

I received a free ecopy of this book from Netgalley and Keymaster Press in exchange for an honest review. 

Title: The Dragon's of Nova
Author: Elise Kova
Series: The Loom Saga #2
Publisher: Keymaster Press
Publication Date: July 11, 2017
Genre: Adult, Fantasy
Length: 448 pages
Format: ebook
Source: Netgalley


Synopsis:
Cvareh returns home to his sky world of Nova with the genius crafter Arianna as his temperamental guest. The mercurial inventor possesses all the Xin family needs to turn the tides of a centuries-old power struggle, but the secrets she harbors must be earned with trust--hard to come by for Ari, especially when it comes to Dragons. On Nova, Ari finds herself closer to exacting vengeance against the traitor who killed everything--and everyone--she once loved. But before Ari can complete her campaign of revenge, the Crimson Court exposes her shadowed past and reveals something even more dangerous sparking between her and Cvareh. 

While Nova is embroiled in blood sport and political games, the rebels on Loom prepare for an all-out assault on their Dragon oppressors. Florence unexpectedly finds herself at the forefront of change, as her unique blend of skills--and quick-shooting accuracy--makes her a force to be reckoned with. For the future of her world, she vows vengeance against the Dragons. 

Before the rebellion can rise, though, the Guilds must fall. 

My Thoughts: 
Arianna, better known as the White Wraith, makes it to Nova with Cvareh, right where we left off in The Alchemists of Loom. In the first book, we learned that Nova is a floating world in the sky above Loom where the Dragon race live. These aren't your typical winged dragons, though they do fly with the help of their magic and some awesome machines that the Fenthri of Loom created. Nova's powerful Dragon King, Yvuen, has been holding Loom and it's inhabitants hostage for decades, having split them into guilds and destroying any rebellions.
But Arianna is holding a heavy grudge against these dragons and will stop at nothing to find the one that killed someone special to her. She's also determined to destroy the grip that the Dragon King has on her people. So, with Cvareh's help, she entertains an alliance with his older sister, Petra, the Oji of House Xin, whom vies for the throne. 


This was pretty much just as awesome as the first book. There's the steampunk elements, the kickass worldbuilding (which was even more amazing now that we're hanging out on floating islands high above the clouds), and some really brutal moments between Arianna, Cvareh, and basically every dragon she comes across.
Kova's writing and worldbuilding is simply fantastic with great pacing and never a dull moment.


I love the very capable women in these books. Arianna, Florence, and Petra are 'take no shit' kind of characters and I love them. 
We are introduced to more characters that shape the story and what is to come and I'm excited to continue on with this series and see what happens to them all.

Some of the POVs kind of made the story drag, but this is definitely a personal opinion that others might not share. I wasn't really interested in Petra or Yveun's POVs despite how important they were to the overall story. I also kind of disliked Florence's chapters, though they were important to an event that happens at the very end, and to keep us connected to those on Loom (but come on, can we please just live in Nova forever?!)
This sequel was a bit more political and I honestly just wanted more of Cvereh and Ari and their crazy tension.


I'm hesitant to recommend this to young adults because of the sexual interaction in this book but I think mature young adults could handle it just fine. It's all tastefully done.
Otherwise, I'd recommend it to anyone who loves fantasy, steampunk, or is just looking for something a little different since this series is pretty unique and equally awesome. 

My Rating: 4.75 stars

Thursday, August 3, 2017

National Georgraphic Kids Almanac 2018

I received a copy of this book from National Geographic Kids and Media Masters in exchange for an honest review.


National Geographic Kids
Almanac 2018
Publication Date: May 9, 2017
Length: 351 pages


With the new school year just around the corner, it's time to get rid of the summer brain drain and get those kids ready to learn again! We all love those summer breaks but getting your child ready for school well before they start the new year will help them fall right into the learning schedule and will help them keep their grades up in the upcoming school year.
So why not start with an amazing resource filled with a ton of topics paired with brightly colored photos that will catch your child's interest over and over again! 


The National Geographic Kids Almanacs are an affordable way to give children a bit of knowledge on so many different topics. It is a great way to review things your children may have already learned in the past and they're sure to learn a few new things while they are at it!

This almanac is split into 12 different sections starting with what's new in our part of the world (there's a Canadian version, too!). These sections cover all sorts of amazing topics from amazing animals, space and earth, to engineering and technology, and much more! 

Each section is packed full of amazingly detailed color photos and more facts and tidbits of useful information than you could absorb in just one day. 

Want to be a Conservationalist? You can learn what subjects you should study, what shows to watch, and what books to read. You can also read about people who work in that field (or others). 

Want to know how to write the perfect essay? Want to know more about dinosaurs? Or animals that are currently battling climate change? 

You may learn about weather and natural disasters, types of biomes, rocks, planets, and more. You can even find out exactly when the next supermoon, eclipse, or meteor shower is!

Want to know your Chinese horoscope or what holidays people around the world celebrate? Then check out 'Cultural Connection'! 

Want to grow your own biofilm, learn how to do proper research, or learn how your brain works? Check out 'Life Science'!


There's something for everyone in here!


Do you like a little challenge with your learning? Not only does this almanac have quizzes throughout the 12 sections but it also has a 'Fun & Games' section full of 'Funny Fill-Ins', 'Find It' picture pages, comics, jokes, and more! 


With all your favorite Nat Geo Kids features like 'Weird But True Facts', '18 Cool Things', there's enough in this almanac to keep any curious child busy for days, weeks, and months! 
It is the perfect resource for any little learner, whether they are homeschooled, tutored, or attend a brick and mortar school.  There's so much more than what I've shared here so be sure to grab your own copy (links above) and add it to your shelves!