Thursday, August 21, 2014

Does a Beaver Sleep in a BedDoes a Beaver Sleep in a Bed by Harriet Ziefert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Genre: Picture Book


Does a Beaver Sleep in a Bed? is part of the Think About Series which highlights things that young kids are curious about. This book in the series presents in a silly way all the different places humans sleep and also brings humor to the story by showing all the places certain animals do and do not sleep. A great book about different ways that animals sleep compared to us. Another great resource to this series of books is the last two pages are full of different ways to use the content in the book to further engage your youngster's mind with questions and activities. The illustrations are really bring the content of the story to a visual level that really pulls in the younger reader and even helps them to look at the pictures and then pick up what some of the words on that page will be in the story.

Thanks for coming by,
Amy

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Does a Bear Wear Boots?Does a Bear Wear Boots? by Harriet Ziefert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Genre: Picture Book


Does a Bear Wear Boots? is part of the Think About Series which highlights things that young kids are curious about. This particular book in this series focuses on clothing and uses the humor of animals wearing clothing to show the differences in behavior of people and animals which helps show the uniqueness of humans in a way that younger children can understand. The use of silly humor with the dressed animals will have your little one laughing and will keep them The illustrations in the book are wonderful and really support the content and purpose of the book in a clear way so that younger children who may not be able to read yet but that are having this book read to them can visually see the parts of the story.

Thanks for coming by,
Amy
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The Fourteenth GoldfishThe Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Children's Middle Grade Fantasy 



Ellie is surprised when her mother comes home with her grandfather who has turned himself into what looks like a thirteen-year-old boy. A rare jellyfish has made Ellie's grandfather, Melvin, young again but he can't get to it because he has been barred from his laboratory by the company he worked for, but he is intent on retrieving the jellyfish so that he may make his discovery known to the world so that he will be the most famous scientist ever!

As if a thirteen-year-old grandfather is not drama enough Ellie is now in middle school and she finds herself on her own because her best friend, Brianna, has found a new clique with the girls on the volleyball team, and Ellie feels alone. When Ellie felt like things couldn't get any worse her and her grandfather meet Raj who becomes the third musketeer of their group with the main goal being to get the jellyfish out of Grandpa Melvin's lab. Ellie becomes extremely interested in Science as her Grandpa talks about all the amazing things that encompass the board subject of Science. After quite the break-in they were finally able to retrieve the jellyfish from the lab. But then Ellie starts thinking about the implications the jellyfish will have on the cycle of life and the world. After much thought Ellie goes to her grandfather and tells him he cannot share what he knows with the world because of the heavy consequences such a discovery would have on human life. The pursuit of science that will improve human life is her grandfather's dream and she is asking him to keep it to himself to think not just of the good consequences of his discovery but to also look at the bad consequences that could ruin everything. Her grandfather argues with her but eventually he sees the light and realizes that somethings no matter how great they are can have dire consequences and they just need to be left alone.

A great read about family, friendship, life and death and the wonder of science! Well written for the targeted age group you or your middle grade child will love this book. The only thing I didn't really get was the title and the first chapter they seem to mean something since if they didn't the author wouldn't have included all of it but I just didn't get how the title and the first chapter ties into the story. Maybe I'm to much of an adult to get it.

Thanks for coming by,
Amy

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

NestNest by Esther Ehrlich
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Genre: Children's Middle Grade Realistic Fiction




Nest, is about eleven-year-old Naomi, aka Chirp, who loves birds and lives in Cape Cod with her family. Her mom is a dancer, her dad is a psychologist, and Chirp and her sister, Rachel, are pretty close. Life seems good, but doesn't it always before it starts to slide down hill. Naomi's mom, Hannah, is a dancer who has been diagnosed with MS (multiple sclerosis) and unable to bear the diagnosis Hannah becomes deeply depressed and is hospitalized for her depression. The story occurs in 1972 when shock therapy was still widely used and for Hannah it is her last option after so many other techniques and medicines have failed to bring her out of her depression. The shock therapy seemed to help Hannah and soon she is able to come home but the depression creeps back. During this time Chirp, her sister, and her dad are trying to go about their daily routines while their family is slowing falling apart at the seams. Rachel starts acting up and acting out especially against anything her dad says. Rachel however is really trying to be there for Chirp even if sometimes she is snippy with her, but we the reader must remember that Rachel is still a kid herself and is going through the same things Chirp is. Chirp is clinging on and as the story progresses you can see that she won't be able to hold it together for much longer, luckily she has found a friend in Joey, a boy her age that lives directly across the street from her. Tragedy does strike yet again when Hannah kills herself and everyone's world spins out of control. But thanks to her dad, Rachel, and Joey, Chirp will make it through anything even something as horrible as this.

This book had me sobbing. The binds of family and friendship are tested to the extreme in this book and though it is a heart wrenching story it is also a heartwarming story of love. The subject matter touched upon is this book is some pretty deep stuff so it is up to you as a parent to really sit down and think about if your child is mature enough to understand the content and emotionally mature enough to handle the content for each child is different.

Thanks for stopping by,
Amy



Friday, August 15, 2014

The Great American Slow Cooker Book: 500 Easy Recipes for Every Day and Every Size MachineThe Great American Slow Cooker Book: 500 Easy Recipes for Every Day and Every Size Machine by Bruce Weinstein
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Non-Fiction/Cookbook


Cooking for me is a very visual hands on experience and so I thought that this review for a cookbook should be a lot more visual than a book review would be for me, so here goes!
he recipes really vary there are some fairly easy ones that even your mother or grandmother might have a similar recipe to but the majority of them are what I would consider fancier, basically gourmet slow cooker recipes. So if you love your crock pot but want to try new recipes this is a very good source for that.

The authors of this cookbook do have quite the introduction about slow cooking and slow cookers and I found it very informative even though I have been using a crock pot to cook with for more than a decade.
Okay so as you can see by the recipe name this is what I was talking about earlier when I said this is a great book to try new recipes out with your crock pot. So another great feature of the recipes is that each step is numbered, I love when it is broken down like this in a recipe and not just all jumbled together in paragraph form, this makes it so much easier to read while you are preparing the dish.

I loved everything about this cookbook except for one thing the lack of pictures, I am a very visual recipe picker, if I see the picture and the food is visually pleasing I am more likely to try that recipe with that being said this cookbook really lacked pictures there is a total of 8, front to back, pages of pictures that to me is just not enough for me even though the pictures they do have are gorgeous food pics.
It is hard to try to figure out how to rate a cookbook because they don't have the same criteria to me that fiction books do so I am going to still give it a go though.

Thanks for coming by,
Amy

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Invention of Exile: A NovelThe Invention of Exile: A Novel by Vanessa Manko
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Genre: Historical Fiction





By now you all know I love historical fiction and when I first started using Edelweiss it is a bit of an understatement that I went a little request happy with pretty much an historical fiction novel my eyes flitted across, but this one stood out to me at first sight because of the cover, an envelope and a "postmark", very cool design, and yes I judged this book by its cover!

Austin Voronkov is a hardworking Russian living in the United States who generally goes about his business in a quiet, unassuming way. Austin leads what seems to be a lonely existence but he does keep busy not just with work but by attending social events like lectures and classes to improve his English, he even joins a few clubs, but deep down there is still this loneliness that you can feel coming from Austin up from off the pages but then he meets Julia.

Julia's father died and so Julia's mother lets out an extra room that they have for rent for extra income this financial predicament her mother finds herself in will change Julia's life forever because her mother lets the room to Austin. Becoming quite fond of each other they begin a general flirtation that turns into so much more. Promises are made that one day they will wed once Austin has saved enough for them to have a nice start to their new life together, but like all great love stories there is a catch or a problem that arises just when it seems like everything couldn't get any better and this happens for Austin and Julia when Austin is rounded up with a bunch of other Russians during raids to round up the growing "Red Menace". Imprisoned, mistreated, and interrogated Austin is soon lead into a false confession that he is an anarchist. Since Austin actually confessed to this he is automatically deported but Julia decides to marry him before he is to leave and she then travels with him back to Russia.

Austin and Julia soon learn that Russia is no longer the Russia Austin used to know but instead is a hot bed of revolution with the communist gaining new ground everyday and so it is not looking good for the Voronkov's to stay there. Fleeing for safety they travel lots of different places but settle in Mexico since it is so close to the United States and Julia is fighting very hard to win their way back into the states but there is so much red tape that they find themselves raising their three children there until finally the children and Julia are given visas and are allowed to return but they have to leave Austin behind in Mexico because he is not granted a visa because of his past.

Alone in Mexico Austin suffers greatly from his families absence but he doesn't give up hope as he constantly works on different designs and inventions that he thinks are brilliant enough to earn him a visa to the United States and back to his Julia and their children. Slowly the years roll by and still the answer is always no and slowly but surely Austin goes a bit mad from the stress and loneliness of it all. Pretty soon Austin's children are grown and Leo and Vera have come to Mexico to get their father a visa but again they are denied so they soon take matters into their own hands getting Austin fake papers and then they help him enter the United States illegally. Austin after all these years cannot figure out what held him back for so long and is quite confused as to why he didn't try to cross the border sooner.

An emotional read, Austin's decline is hard to take and he is just so far away from his family and on his own it is heartbreaking. Even though Vera and Leo come and get their dad and bring him to the U.S. it is already to late, the damage already done, all that loneliness and stress has driven their father mad and there is no coming back from it, he will always be this way. I will not be talking about the political issues in the book given the political issues involving the U.S./Mexican border presently I don't want a whole bunch of mean comments so I will keep my politics to myself however they are a huge focus in this book.

There were a few issues I had with the book, one of them is I didn't like how the book flip flopped so much in setting and time, but this did calm down a bit closer towards the end, I also didn't care for some of the narrative it just seemed to disjointed like it didn't fit which would be fine when it is the stuff about just Austin since he is foreign and doesn't speak English very well but I found this quite a bit throughout the whole book and for me it was just strange and made it harder to really grasp what the author was trying to convey to us, the reader.

Discover: A story about the way government policies and politics can affect one person, one family.

Thanks for coming by,
Amy


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The Fortune HunterThe Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Historical Fiction




Jane Austen but a bit more daring pretty much sums up this book to me. I really enjoyed it for it was a highly entertaining read. Any lover of historical romance will just gobble this book up!

Thanks for coming by,
Amy

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike, #2)The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (Cormoran Strike #2)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Mystery/Thriller




When I first started reading this I wasn't to sure if I was going to like it but what a murder scene and it turned out to be a great mystery wrapped up around some literary types which is definitely my cup of tea. So I really, really enjoyed this read.

Cormoran and Robin are back in book #2 with a vengeance and even though there was no "fireworks" between the two like I had hoped there would be there was still some good news to keep my hopes of them alive and that is that Cormoran's ex finally got married so maybe he can finally let her go and realize that he is really in love with Robin and then Robin will simultaneously notice that her fiance is a huge stick in the mud and then Cormoran and Robin will live happily ever after.
The End!
See J.K. I already have the ending all written for you, lol.

But seriously away from my literary fantasies and back to the book.
The Silkworm is full of eccentric characters, particularly Leonora Quine. Leonora is the wife of author Owen Quine who has gone missing and she hires Cormoran to try and find him but instead of finding the man living and breathing he finds that someone put an end to him in a scene right from Owen's last unpublished book and it is a pretty gruesome way to go let me tell you, if you have a weak stomach you may want to skip over the description part of it, no I am not kidding, yucky!

Cormoran and Robin throw themselves full force into the case but we also get to meet quite a few characters that are either friends or family of the duo showing us a more personal side to them which is always nice especially in a series I think because it really lets you get to know the characters to the point they feel almost real.

Weaving in and out of eccentric literary types Cormoran and Robin will always catch their man or woman!

Discover: A terrific whodunit.

Thanks for coming by,
Amy


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Everything I Never Told YouEverything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Mystery/Literary Fiction





I love a good mystery especially one that is cerebral so when I first saw this up on Edelweiss I was very, very excited to read it!! Well I finally got to it after pushing it further and further down my reading list, I really need to learn to prioritize better, but anyway. So this is one of the few books that I was completely hyped up for that actually lived up to the hype!


Lydia is dead, but was there foul play or did Lydia kill herself?

Lydia's family is a little out the ordinary, her mom is constantly on her about applying herself to all these courses so that she can one day become a doctor, your basic mom living out her dreams that didn't happen for her through her daughter. Lydia's dad is always trying to get her to make more friends to be an average American teenager because he is ashamed of his Chinese heritage. Both parents have deep issues from their pasts that are stressing Lydia out. Luckily Lydia has an ally in her older brother Nathan but soon he won't be there very much longer because he is headed off to Harvard in the fall. Not knowing where to turn to Lydia starts hanging out with the neighborhood bad boy, Jack, whom her brother Nathan strongly disapproves of, but when Lydia realizes that she is not the object of Jack's desires but that her brother is things start to slide even faster down hill from there.

The theme of suicide is not an easy one to approach especially with it dealing with a teenager but the author did an excellent job of portraying the story with grace and understanding though this did make some of the parts in the story a bit boring just because the author choose to stay with that style of writing which to me felt almost surreal (like in a dream or when you feel like you are standing outside yourself watching it all happen, hope that makes sense) but this type of style is also what makes the suicide not seem to gory or horrifying that you want to stop reading the book. So yes some boring parts but the overall content is excellent.

Discover: A poignant tale of how family interactions play such a huge part in who we become and the decisions that we make.

Thanks for coming by,
Amy



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Saturday, August 09, 2014

Nantucket SistersNantucket Sisters by Nancy Thayer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Genre: Chick-lit/Romance




First thing, that I have to bring up, is what is up with the author's name being bigger than the book's title; are you selling the author or the book itself? The only thing saving this cover is the beach.

This is the story of Maggie and Emily. Maggie lives on Nantucket all year long whereas Emily only lives on Nantucket during the summer it is her families second home. So I am sure you guessed it Maggie is poor and Emily is rich, normally wouldn't have mentioned this but it is a huge part of this story, The Haves and The Have-Nots. But no matter what Maggie and Emily are the best of summer friends, they are Nantucket sisters. Life unfolds at a rapid rate on the pages, each page turn seems to add a few years on to the girl's ages. Pretty soon they are all grown-up but a chance encounter with the same man, Emily with him in New York and Maggie with him in Nantucket, ends with both of them pregnant. But Emily has also been seeing Maggie's older brother Ben, So who is the baby's daddy???? Eventually through a lot of living the girls get into contact again and life seemed to be working itself out so that they both could be happy. The thing that really confused me in the book is that Maggie never tells Emily how her baby's father is!!
Very curious. A enjoyable read that I didn't have to stress my brain out to understand which is what I needed when I read this and it is also probably why that this book was on many summer beach read lists.

Discover: A friendship that withstood a tremendous amount of that thing called life but still survived the storm.

Thanks for stopping in,
Amy

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Life DrawingLife Drawing by Robin Black
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Literary Fiction




Augusta and Owen seem to live in quit solitude in the country. Previously being city people it is hard to imagine what would drag an artist and a writer out of their beloved city away from all their friends and into the country. Something big! That's What.

All seems to be well on the surface but underneath there is a hot mess that neither one of them seems to want to talk about let alone deal with it to get the closure their relationship so obviously needs.

But life always get interrupted and this interruption is in the form of a neighbor. So at first I thought that either Augusta or Owen would have an affair with this woman and this would be the conflict but I was wrong and the way it goes down hill for all of them is a slippery slope that none of them will ever recover from.

Black really opens up the raw emotions of a marriage or coupling. She also focuses on decisions and consequences that we all face but she shows how our decisions can have such a huge impact on others and can be life altering. Deep and raw. I truly enjoyed this book even though there were a few times I rolled my eyes. Our emotions, our decisions, and the people in our lives can make life or break it. This book is what literary fiction is all about!

Discover: Love, Betrayal, and Grief.

Thanks for coming by,
Amy

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The Tyrant's DaughterThe Tyrant's Daughter by J.C. Carleson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: YA Contemporary




In The Tyrant's Daughter a big question is asked: What if I didn't know he was doing all these horrible things? Fifteen-year-old Laila is asking herself this very question about her father, a dictator, killed in a coup which sent Laila, her mother, and her brother fleeing their home. Now in Washington D.C. Laila is finding out that her father is not the man she thought he was when atrocities against her people seem to be the doing of her father. How can someone so sweet and loving towards her brutally murder so many people.

Torn between old customs but wanting to fit in at school and make friends Laila has to find a balance between them that is all her own in order to cope with all the changes in environment and the changes also going on inside of her.

A wonderfully written YA novel. The narration fits perfect for this genre her tone and style is not to adult but just where it needs to be for those young adult readers. The book tackles a hard subject and does it with tact and without to much scary details.

Discover: A change in perspective of how we view the families of dictators and sultans.

Thanks for stopping by, 
Amy

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Sunday, August 03, 2014

Rebel Angels (Gemma Doyle, #2)Rebel Angels by Libba Bray (Gemma Doyle #2)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: YA Fantasy





So the second book really heats this series up! I pretty much had the same experiences with this book that I did with the first, great characters, great content, and the same amount of eye rolling. However, this time there was more romance to it and this was a pleasant development for the characters since they are getting older and more out in society. I also liked to that this book's setting was not all at Spence but mostly in London while the girls are on Christmas break it let you really get to know the characters even better particularly Felicity.

Thanks for coming by,
Amy


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Saturday, August 02, 2014

A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle, #1)A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray (Gemma Doyle #1)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: YA Fantasy



Poor Gemma, first her mother dies and then she is sent to an all-girls boarding school, every teenage girl's nightmare. But to top it all off Gemma is not your average girl but a witch of sorts that can travel back and forth between different realms and who can do a bit of magic with potential for more. So Gemma is totally relatable, there is something that makes her different and her life is not perfect, yep that is pretty much every girl I have ever met.

Bray also gets you with the fantasy/paranormal parts of this book because who really doesn't want to read about cool, unknown, mysterious things; dumb question right because everyone wants to read a book like that. So not only are you pulled in by the characters but also by the content of the book. And it takes place in England in 1895 another big draw for historical fiction lovers.

No pulitzer prize writing but it is a YA novel and there are some parts that the adult in me couldn't get past without rolling my eyeballs. That said it was a thoroughly entertaining read and I was glad to see that is was part of a series because I do love a good series, tomorrow you will see the review for the second book in the series I have yet to read the 3rd and final book.

Thanks for coming by,
Amy

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Friday, August 01, 2014

China DollsChina Dolls by Lisa See
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Genre: Historical Fiction




This book is very much literary fiction in how it reads. There is an elegance to it that is hard for me to explain it is like a concentrated effort of greatness, if you read a lot of different genres perhaps you get what I mean I really think that all literary fiction holds it. Grace, Helen, and Ruby are our three main characters, who meet each other in unusual circumstances. From there they each pursue careers as dancers or entertainers. The author really showed how those of different ethnicities were treated during the time before World War II and then went into great detail about the treatment of Asians during World War II, especially in regards to Ruby. See's novel really transports you to a different time and place and let's you see history from different perspectives than just those in history books.

The writing is tremendous but some parts were the type that contained, at least in my opinion, those skip over paragraphs, were you just roughly and quickly read a few spots here or there but skip through the rest.

I did enjoy the book but it a bit disappointed, because the story started out so great and by the end it was just an afterthought.

Thanks for coming by,
Amy