Saturday, March 18, 2017

Winter Reading 2017 The Flintstones, Volume 1

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Forget the Saturday morning cartoons. The Flintstones is social commentary that is relevant and funny. Take the Neanderthals that Mr. Slate hires to work at the quarry. After just a few days in town they are able to figure out that "it seems like the whole point of civilization is to get someone else to do your killing for you." (Simple enough even a caveman could figure it out?) Everything from people buying things they don't need, like a Trilobite Cooker, to arguments over whether marriage is a good idea and who should be allowed to get married are mixed into the stories. There are plenty of spoofs on pop culture: stores like Starbrick's and Tarpit, shoes like Pradzoa and Mammotho Blahnik, and even Professor Sargon at the Science Institute talking about when the galaxy was formed "billions of days ago" and performing calculations on his new Applecus computer. But there are also serious issues like veterans dealing with the return to civilian life, men who had been talked into attacking others and then finding out there was never any threat, and people protesting new things just because "it wasn't around when I was a kid."

There are plenty of laughs about aliens entering the Earth into Galactapedia and alien kids using their Death Ray app "Disintegr8." Betty Rubble asks Pebbles what she has been learning in school and Pebbles replies, "How to sit still and shut up." But my favorite allusion would have to be the Space Oddity scene at the Science Institute. Professor Sargon shoes them a monkey about to be sent into space. He reassure the kids that the monkey's "spaceship knows which way to go." We see the monkey saying, "Tell my wife I love her very much." and a dinosaur replying, "She knows." References like that and some of the language that is used makes this a title for readers 12+.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Winter Reading 2017 The Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life

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You had me at Kwame Alexander. I admire his writing, so I had to try this book, even though I am not a big sports fan. Reading about Kwame's struggles to find the sport he could excel in and the lessons he learned from those experiences adds personal depth to the book. His appreciation of that hard-won knowledge and love of sports comes through clearly in his words. 

But beyond the fact that he wrote this, it is a wonderful book based on its own merits. The rules are actually free verse that can apply to sports or life, words like, "A loss is inevitable, like rain in spring. True champions learn to dance through the storm." These rules are paired with quotes from famous personalities, mostly from sports, but also from other occupations. Babe Ruth, Michael Jordan, and Nelson Mandela are mixed in along with other famous players, coaches, and historical figures. The illustrations are a mix of photos and graphics - silhouettes of figures dunking a basketball or diagrams of moves across a court give visual interest to the pages and add to the sports theme of the rules. 

Highly recommended for fans of Kwame or sports. This would make a great graduation gift!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Winter Reading 2017 Diadem of Death

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You would think that once a girl has survived the efforts of a cult to turn her into the reincarnation of Cleopatra, had her leg amputated, and managed to finish her junior year of high school, then she would deserve a nice summer vacation relaxing with her friends and snuggling with her boyfriend. Nope. Nefertari "Terry" Hughes has her plans for the summer suddenly upended by her father's announcement that they are returning to Egypt to resume the search for Cleopatra's tomb, the search that killed Terry's mother and left Terry with a crippled leg (before the amputation). Now she's had to trade in the beach for the sands of the archaeological dig, and deal with rumors of curses and possible Illuminati plots.

With the powers that were bestowed on Terry in the first book (Asp of Ascension), readers may expect her to make short work of any threats to the dig, but things are never simple. Even if there were no curses, mystical powers, or possible plots - there are still the quest for fame and power, government corruption, and unethical grave robbers to contend with. Luckily, Terry has her friends and her father to depend on and maybe something a little bit extra.

If you enjoy mystery, suspense, a bit of romance, and the thrill of looking for antiquities - try the Nefertari Hughes mysteries.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Winter Reading 2017 Why We March: Signs of Protest and Hope

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The Women's March of January 21, 2017 has been called "a groundswell of resistance, love, and hope." Across the United States and around the world, people marched, carried signs, sang songs, decorated their faces and t-shirts, and listened to speakers about topics important to them. This book captures all those activities as well as a sense of the emotions felt and portrayed that day. Images from Prague to Paradise Bay, Orlando to Fairbanks, Toronto to Kosovo, and everywhere in between show moments of humor, frustration, and solidarity. Interspersed throughout the book are pages of text which highlight quotes from some of the day's speakers. Those pages are a vibrant pink with white lettering that pops off the page at the reader. The quotes are representative soundbites of the day's events, like this one from Senator Elizabeth Warren, "We can whimper. We can whine. Or we can fight back."

Some of the images that made the greatest impressions on me are:
- the two little girls in pink, holding a sign together that reads "GRL PWR"
- another sign stating "I am German and I've seen this before!!"
- the woman whose poster reads, "I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept."
- and for a bit of humor, "I've seen better cabinets at IKEA."

The crowds in the photos capture the breadth of the demographics involved in the march at all the locations. At one end of the age spectrum are babies in Snugli packs being carried by their parents, and at the other end are senior citizens with assistive devices like canes. Men and women are both present, as are members of too many ethnic groups to name them all here.

Even without a narrative to accompany the images, the book makes a powerful statement. It is sure to provoke strong reactions in readers/viewers and spark discussions. Due to some of the language and images on the signs, this is best for more mature audiences, ages 13+.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Winter Reading 2017 Eat Beautiful



Rowe has compiled information about the benefits from various foods, herbs, and spices for inner health and also clearer and healthier skin. She begins with a brief discussion of the connection between beauty and food, touching on topics like detoxification, digestion and stress. Then she goes through the year, season by season, and gives the rundown on foods that are fresh during that time and what nutrients or other healthy effects they have. At the end of each section, she shares some of her favorite seasonal recipes that feature those foods.

Whether you are looking for a beauty treatment from the inside out, or just looking for guidance on some healthy recipes that might feature foods you hadn't considered before, this is a helpful volume. The photos are beautiful (the foods and the models). The seasonal arrangement helps those who are trying to eat fresh as much as possible throughout the year. And there were even a couple of foods that I had not heard of before, which may not be the case for other readers, but they may learn some interesting facts about familiar foods.

Recommended for readers interested in eating in a more healthy way and for those who want to support their own health and healthy appearance. Check the publisher's website for more information about the book.

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

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Winter Reading 2017 Asp of Ascension (Nefertari Hughes Mystery, #1)

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If you enjoy present day mysteries that tangle with ancient artifacts, then you should the Nefertari Hughes books. "Terry" as she prefers to be called, is the daughter of archaeologists. When her mother dies in an accident on a dig and Terry is severely injured, her father decides to move somewhere safer to start over. That is how they end up in the cold of New England, with her father working at a museum that is run by an old school friend. Nothing feels right to Terry. She misses the warmth of Egypt, the food, her friend Awad, her mother... High school is a nightmare. The limp from her injury makes her feel awkward, she has managed to incur the wrath of the reigning cheer leading captain, and their history assignment on Cleopatra brings up too many painful memories. How will she navigate the world of ball games, dates, and school projects without her mother's guidance? And when it seems things can't get any worse, they do.

Join Terry and her friends (Maude, Fraser, and Zach), as they try to survive high school, solve a 50-year-old mystery, save Terry's dad from a deadly threat, and maybe even manage to complete their class project and find time for a date. Plenty of suspense, murky motives, personal and ancient history, drama, romantic tension, and bad guys/gals. Recommended for ages 12+ who enjoy mystery, a smidgen of romance, and stories where the protagonist rises above challenges.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Winter Reading 2017 Scooby Apocalypse, Volume 1

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This isn't the Scooby-Doo that you grew up with. This is the end of the world as we know it.

The characters have the same appearance, names, and similar personalities, but they are in a different setting. Daphne has a cable show investigating mysteries and Freddy is her cameraman. Shaggy is a dog trainer and works in a military "smart dog" experiment, and Scooby is one of the project's dogs. Velma is a PhD researcher with the project. And the Mystery Machine is a pet project of one of the researchers and is more like the APC from the movie "Aliens" than the groovy van from the Saturday morning cartoons. 

When all the characters come together, they discover that a plague of sorts has been released and is mutating people around the world. And the sad part is, the cause of the plague was supposed to "better" humanity (shades of "Serenity"), but instead folks have different reactions, becoming strange creatures. Between the mutants roaming around, the breakdown of civilization, and the pack of other "smart dogs" that escape from the military complex, the gang will have a hard time staying alive - much less finding a cause and a cure.

Revamped for a new generation of fans with a level of violence and gore best suited to ages 12+. Those readers will also be mature enough to understand the concepts of conspiracy, suspicion, pursuing ideals, and the sarcastic humor. A favorite example: Velma, "Please! This isn't a comic book!" Shaggy, "It's sure starting to feel like one."

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.