Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Review: Women in Sports: 50 Fearless Athletes Who Played To Win by Rachel Ignotofsky

Women In Sports: 50 Fearless Athletes Who Played to WinTitle: Women In Sports: 50 Fearless Athletes Who Played to Win
Author: Rachel Ignotofsky
Source/Format: Blogging for Books; Hardcover
More Details: Nonfiction; Sports
Publisher/Publication Date: Ten Speed Press; July 18, 2017
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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Women in Sports highlights notable women's contributions to competitive athletics to inspire readers young and old. Keeping girls interested in sports has never been more important: research suggests that girls who play sports get better grades and have higher self-esteem--but girls are six times more likely to quit playing sports than boys and are unlikely to see female athlete role models in the media. A fascinating collection full of striking, singular art, Women in Sports features 50 profiles and illustrated portraits of women athletes from the 1800s to today including trailblazers, Olympians, and record-breakers in more than 40 different sports. The book also contains infographics about relevant topics such as muscle anatomy, a timeline of women's participation in sports, statistics about women in athletics, and influential female teams...

 Last year, I had the chance to receive a copy of Women in Science for review, and it ended up being one of my favorite reads of 2016. And now, Rachel Ignotofsky has released a new book, Women in Sports. I'm excited to talk about about this book since it's my latest nonfiction read, and it deals with sports. By the way, I don't follow sports like that. I'm more of a casual observer, but it's nice to know more about those who are considered pioneers in their respective sport—at least by nameand Women in Sports does just that.

Like Ignotofsky’s last book, Women in Sports was comprised of 50 profiles of women who excel at what they do. It included names like Serena Williams, Simone Biles, Danica Patrick, Kelly Clarke, Althea Gibson, Kristi Yamaguchi, and many others that I wasn't familiar with. The profiles are relatively short with a page of illustrations and another with a neat summary of early life and crowning/breakthrough moments. I honestly didn't mind because I went into this book expecting summaries. That being said, Women in Sports introduced me to a lot of women athletes that I'd honestly never heard of before. Another thing I want to mention was the overall design of this book. I loved it. The pages were colorful and covered in illustrations specifically tailored to the subject of each profile. I also liked the fact that there were a couple of other things added to this book like a chart on muscle anatomy and a timeline of when major accomplishments were made by various female athletes. Some of my other favorite profiles included:
  • Anita Defrantz (Rower and Athletic Administrator)
  • Deng Yaping (Ping Pong Player) (Professional ping pong is intense. Don't believe me? Look up some of Deng Yaping's matches on youtube). 
  • Gertude Ederle (Distance Swimmer)
  • Ashley Fiolek (Motorcross Rider)
  • and Melissa Stockell (Paratriathhlete)
Overall, Women in Sports is a good reference book and I look forward to Ignotofsky’s future work. I’m definitely going to keep this one on my shelf.
This copy of the book was provided by Blogging for Books for this review.
About the author...

Rachel Ignotofsky grew up in New Jersey on a healthy diet of cartoons and pudding. She graduated with honors from Tyler School of Art’s graphic design program in 2011. Now she lives in beautiful Kansas City, Missouri, where she spends all day drawing and learning as much as she can. She has a passion for taking dense information and making it fun and accessible and is dedicated to creating educational works of art. Rachel is inspired by history and science and believes that illustration is a powerful tool that can make learning exciting. She uses her work to spread her message about education, scientific literacy, and powerful women. She hopes this book inspires girls and women to follow their passions and dreams...

Monday, August 28, 2017

Music Monday (30): Black Eyed Peas, Disclosure and Lion Babe

   Rules:
  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 

Breana: Lately, I’ve gone back and listened to a lot of favorite songs that I haven’t thought of in years. The last time I participated in Music Monday, I talked about Rock Angelz. Well, from there, I’ve gone back to Monkey Business by Black Eyed Peas, Lincoln Park, Christina Agulara, and even Gwen Stefani. Anyway, I’m here to talk about The Black Eyed Peas. Back in 2005 Monkey Business was my go-to music. No playlist, just the album. It’s hard to believe that Monkey Business has been out for twelve years already. My first pick is Disco Club. To this day, Disco club still has one of the catchiest beats I’ve ever heard. There’s something kind of groovy about this song. I love it.


 My second pick is Don’t Lie. After all these years, Don't Lie is still one of my favorite songs from the Monkey Business Album.

Adri:I have a small confession. There are moments in time that I don’t listen to music, at least not like that. When start listening to music again, the first thing I put in the search bar is my pick for Music Mondays: Hourglass by Disclosure featuring Lion Babe. Not only do I love this song but when I found it, I also found a new artist.

What are you listening to this week?

Friday, August 25, 2017

Album Review: Dark Matter by Les Friction

Title: Dark Matter
Band/Artist(s): Les Friction (Even Frankfort, Helmet Vonlichten, Paint), also Featuring Emily Valentine and Laura Fabian
Source/Format: Les Friction; CD
Label/ Release date: Moriposa Lane Music, INC/ Would Work Sound LLC; August 25, 2017

OfficialSite Bandcamp     Itunes     Spotify       Amazon      CDbaby

I first heard of Les Friction in an epic music compilation. This was a few years ago when I first began listening to this genre of music. Like any music junkie, I’ve checked to see if new music was on the horizon. My day lit up when I saw the tweet announcing Dark Matter was coming out.

Not only did this album meet my expectations, it exceeded them. Every millisecond is perfect, starting with Your World Will Fail. This song starts calm and then changes about midway. At this point it morphs into something more, resulting in a pleasant mix of instrumentals and vocals. Other songs including Who Will Save You Now, Dark Matter, and Firewall seems to follow this pattern somewhat too. Obviously, like any album, Dark Matter has calm moments too. I Remember and You Always Knew add a touch of sincere tranquility. These two duets with Emily Valentine and Laura Fabian, respectively, occasionally misted my eyes. The album ended with Kashmir (which is a cover of a song by Led Zeppelin); the only thing I can say is that it is the perfect way to end an album.

Due to the fact that each track was diverse in sound and lyric, the whole album maintained a certain aesthetic. Not one felt out of place. Actually, a host of emotions were elicited as I listened to each song. I’m not even sure they are nameble. To put it simply, it’s like finding that perfectly tailored dress. I love it!


I recieved this CD from Les Fricition for this review.

The Friday 56 (112) & Book Beginnings: Women in Sports: 50 Fearless Athletes Who Played To Win by Rachel Ignotofsky

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE
Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading.
32807214Synopsis from Goodreads...

Women in Sports highlights notable women's contributions to competitive athletics to inspire readers young and old. Keeping girls interested in sports has never been more important: research suggests that girls who play sports get better grades and have higher self-esteem--but girls are six times more likely to quit playing sports than boys and are unlikely to see female athlete role models in the media. A fascinating collection full of striking, singular art, Women in Sports features 50 profiles and illustrated portraits of women athletes from the 1800s to today including trailblazers, Olympians, and record-breakers in more than 40 different sports. The book also contains infographics about relevant topics such as muscle anatomy, a timeline of women's participation in sports, statistics about women in athletics, and influential female teams...
Beginnings: "Florence Madeline "Madge" Cave was born in 1881 and grew up in England. During the winter, men and women enjoyed skating, but women were not allowed to participate in any of the competitions." 

56: "First gymnast in history to be awarded a score of a perfect 10.0"
Comments: I read Rachel Ignotofsky's other book, Women in Science, and really enjoyed it. So, I was excited for Women in Sports. I liked this book a lot, mainly because it introduced me to a number of female athletes that I've never heard of before. My beginning comes from page 11 and the 56 is talking about the gynmnast Nadia Com─âneci. 

Have you recently read any nonfiction? Or what are you reading this week?

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Review: The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis

The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart
Title:The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart
Author: Stephanie Burgis
Source/Format: Borrowed from the Library; Hardcover
More Details: Middle Grade; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Bloomsbury US; May 30, 2017

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Aventurine is the fiercest, bravest dragon there is. And she's ready to prove it to her family by leaving the safety of their mountain cave and capturing the most dangerous prey of all: a human. But when the human she finds tricks her into drinking enchanted hot chocolate, Aventurine is transformed into a puny human girl with tiny blunt teeth, no fire, and not one single claw. But she's still the fiercest creature in the mountains -- and now she's found her true passion: chocolate! All she has to do is get herself an apprenticeship (whatever that is) in a chocolate house (which sounds delicious), and she'll be conquering new territory in no time...won't she?
The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart is one book I’ve been waiting for since I first heard about it sometime last year—I can’t remember the exact date now, I just know that it was a long time ago. This isn’t the first book I’ve read by Stephanie Burgis, but it’s certainly one of my favorites. I sped through this book. I read it in almost one sitting and can say that The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart was such a cute story filled with magic, chocolate, and of course dragons.

I have to admit that I was looking forward to this book because of who Burgis choose to be the narrator of the story. I think it was a great decision because Aventurine was such an interesting character. She was a dragon who thought she knew everything there was to know, and set out to prove just that. However, it becomes quickly apparent that Aventurine still had a lot to learn about herself and the world outside her cavern home. The other dragons were a point of interest too. I loved all the scenes with Aventurine’s family, and it was interesting to see Burgis’ portrayal with what life was like for younger dragons—like, for example, what was expected of them, what they were supposed to learn, etc..

Chocolate—you can’t go wrong with something like that. I loved how chocolate was used in the story. It was my second-most favorite part of The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart, because it wasn’t just there. Instead, Burgis explored how chocolate—and other chocolaty desserts and drinks—were made, and I thought that was a pretty neat thing to include.

Yeah, The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. And, now that I looked at the Goodreads page again, I noticed that there appears to be another book in the series. So, in light of that, I look forward to reading more of Stephanie Burgis’ books.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Favorite Recipe: The Best Brownies

Oh yes, it’s time for another Favorite Recipe. This time, it’s brownies. Yes, rich, chocolatey brownies. Just a quick note: the pictures for this post were collected over time thus the plates don't match. I’ve made brownies all sorts of ways including from the box. I've also made them from scratch using a different recipe than the one I’m going to talk about today. I’ve had all kinds of results, including one unfortunate batch that was too much like particularly dry chocolate cake, i.e. not like a brownie at all. So, I have been on that quest to find the perfect brownie recipe, and to date I think this one is the best I’ve tried. The recipe I’m talking about is this one: Mmm-Mmm Better Brownies. (Pictured to the right is a double batch in a 9x13 inch pan before baking.)

When I say I love this recipe, I’m not kidding. It’s a huge hit in my house. There is nothing cakey about these brownies. They’re perfectly moist and fudgy, and the top and edges form this crispy layer. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the kind of dreaded crispiness you get from burning the brownies. No, this is the kind of crispy layer that you actually want on your brownie—hence, why I always go for one of the corner pieces. But it’s not just the texture that I’m a fan of, the flavor is just as good. It’s really chocolatey! The flavor reminds me more of dark chocolate—so, sweet, but with just a hint of bitterness. That’s what I like about dark chocolate anyway, so the flavor is right up my alley. (Pictured to the left is the double batch in the 9x13 inch pan after baking.)

Speaking of flavor, I can’t forget to talk about the extra things I’ve added into the batter. Per the recipe, walnuts are optional, but I actually prefer these brownies with them. However, leave them out if you have a nut allergy. Pictured below is the result I got when adding chopped walnuts and white chocolate chips to the batter before baking. I prefer to mix the extra ingredients into the batter rather than sprinkling them on top, because I feel like it’s evenly distributed throughout the entire batch of brownies. Of course, you could really add anything you want into it, like M&Ms, things like that.

My only other recommendation is: double the recipe (which makes enough for a 9x13 inch pan instead of just a 9x9 inch pan), especially if you’re making these brownies for more than just yourself. (Pictured to the left is a closeup of a piece of walnut and white chocolate chip brownie.)



What about you? What’s your go-to brownie recipe?

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Friday 56 (111) & Book Beginnings: Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE
Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading.
31423196Synopsis from Goodreads...

She’s a soldier.

Noemi Vidal is seventeen years old and sworn to protect her planet, Genesis. She’s willing to risk anything—including her own life. To their enemies on Earth, she’s a rebel.

He’s a machine.

Abandoned in space for years, utterly alone, Abel has advanced programming that’s begun to evolve. He wants only to protect his creator, and to be free. To the people of Genesis, he’s an abomination.

Noemi and Abel are enemies in an interstellar war, forced by chance to work together as they embark on a daring journey through the stars. Their efforts would end the fighting for good, but they’re not without sacrifice. The stakes are even higher than either of them first realized, and the more time they spend together, the more they’re forced to question everything they’d been taught was true...
Beginnings: "In three weeks, Noemi Vidal will die--here, in this very place."

56: "Noemi imagines the Gastons standing before her, tall and pale, their expressions disapproving. How could you let this happen? they might say." 
Comments: I haven't read a book by Claudia Gray since back before I started blogging. Defy the Star's is one of her newer novels. I wasn't too sure about it but ended up really loving the story. For the sake of avoiding spoilers for parts of the store, ,y 56 comes from page 52 instead. 

What are you reading this week?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Thought Corner: Power Rangers (2017)

Title: Power Rangers (2017)
Produced by: Haim Saban; Brian Casentini; Marty Bowen; Wyck Godfrey
Directed by: Dean Israelite
Story by: Matt Sazama; Burk Sharpless; Michele Mulroney; Kieran Mulroney 
US Release Date: March 24, 2017
Viewing Format: Redbox DVD Rental
Going into Power Rangers (2017), I honestly didn’t know what to expect. All I remember of it was the old series I used to watch when I was a kid during—or was it after? Before?—the Saturday morning cartoon block. Still, I’ve heard nothing but good things about the film and was excited to watch it. And you know what? Power Rangers was actually really good. I was surprised by how much I liked the film.

I was prepared for a certain level of cheesiness. Instead, what I got was a well-thought out movie with aliens, superpowers, and Zords (cause you can’t forget about the Zords). But that wasn’t all. This movie also explored the complicated and often messy side of life from the perspectives of characters from different and diverse backgrounds. I liked how this film was made, and the action sequences and training scenes were interesting to watch. The characters are worth making mention of because they were my favorite part of the movie. They weren’t perfect, squeaky clean hero characters who never did or got anything wrong. No, they were allowed to make mistakes and grow from them, all the while learning how to be Power Rangers. The individual and collective character development was spot on. They were great individually, but I liked when they worked together as a team.

I didn’t think I’d say it, but this movie was pretty awesome. I’ve come to one conclusion: I need a sequel. I don’t know if there will be one, but hey, you never know.

What about you? Have you seen Power Rangers? If so, tell me what you thought about the movie in the comments down below.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Music Monday (29) Throwback To Way Back When

   Rules:
  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 

Breana: It has been a couple of weeks since we last participated in Music Monday. However, today is a bit of a throwback to the early 2000s, since my picks this week actually come from an album I haven’t listened to in more than five years: Bratz Rock Angelz. Does anyone else remember Bratz? I used to have a lot of the dolls and still have the Rock Angelz game for the Gameboy Advance SP. Anyway, over the weekend I remembered that I once had a CD, but I’ve moved several times and can’t recall where it is. Anyway, listening to this album again takes me right back to my childhood. Seriously, it really does. I used to listen to Rock Angelz all the time. I kind of wish that I never lost the CD, but it is what it is. The most surprising thing is how much I still like the entire album. It’s on iTunes and I’ve seriously considered buying it again.

My first pick is It Could Be Yours. Oh man, after all theses years I still love this song.


And my second pick is Who I Am. I can’t even begin to count how many times I've listened to this song. I used to listen to it on repeat because its one of my favorites from the album. Even though its been so long, Who I Am hasn't lost its charm. 



Adri: I love this album too. I had a different one than Breana. Sadly, I won't mention what happened to the one I had, but just know that it's gooonnnneee. I don't have much to say about these tracks, but when I heard Breana listening to them again I had a mega flashback too.
What are you listening to this week?

Friday, August 11, 2017

ARC Review: The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana

The Library of Fates
Title: The Library of Fates
Author: Aditi Khorana
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Razorbill; July 18, 2017

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

A romantic coming-of-age fantasy tale steeped in Indian folklore, perfect for fans of The Star-Touched Queen and The Wrath and the Dawn...

No one is entirely certain what brings the Emperor Sikander to Shalingar. Until now, the idyllic kingdom has been immune to his many violent conquests. To keep the visit friendly, Princess Amrita has offered herself as his bride, sacrificing everything—family, her childhood love, and her freedom—to save her people. But her offer isn't enough. The unthinkable happens, and Amrita finds herself a fugitive, utterly alone but for an oracle named Thala, who was kept by Sikander as a slave and managed to escape amid the chaos of a palace under siege. With nothing and no one else to turn to, Amrita and Thala are forced to rely on each other. But while Amrita feels responsible for her kingdom and sets out to warn her people, the newly free Thala has no such ties. She encourages Amrita to go on a quest to find the fabled Library of All Things, where it is possible for each of them to reverse their fates. To go back to before Sikander took everything from them. Stripped of all that she loves, caught between her rosy past and an unknown future, will Amrita be able to restore what was lost, or does another life—and another love—await?
You guys know I loved The Star-Touched Queen (TSTQ) and its sequel, A Crown of Wishes. So, when I saw that The Library of Fates was being compared to TSTQ, I was just like “yes” and also “Where can I sign up for this one?” Low and behold, I got the chance to get an eARC of The Library of Fates and was beyond excited to start it. What makes this hard is that I do like this book, but there are some things that I was a little on-the fence about.

I’m going to start with what I liked about The Library of Fates. The beginning was very interesting. There was some world building going on and I loved all the details about the scenery, old myths, and creatures specific to the book. I also liked the initial direction of the story and was interested in seeing how the political conflicts would playout—especially concerning the main character, Amrita, her father, and the fate of their kingdom. There were a lot of scenes that I thought were interesting. They were creative and took full advantage of the previously established myths as well as the setting.

For the most part, I was a big fan of the characters. Amrita’s initial reaction to the sudden changes to her situation was great, and I enjoyed the fact that part of The Library of Fates focused on her journey. She was helped along the way, and the parts where she was forced to face her past, present, and the possibilities of her future were incredibly emotional and pretty awesome. Thala was pretty interesting. I liked her character mainly because of her strong motivation to be free of her own set of circumstances.

However, as the story progressed I began to notice some things that were kind of similar to TSTQ. Since TSTQ is one of my all-time favorite books, I remember a lot of how the story went down. I know that the synopsis for The Library of Fates makes the comparison, but there was a point when those similarities got a little uncomfortable. Mainly because I felt like I was reading parts of Maya, from TSTQ’s, story again.

That being said, there were a lot of things I still liked about this book. And overall, I basically enjoyed the story and will definitely check out more books by this author. (Actual rating is 3.5 out of 5)

This copy of the book was provided by First to Read (publisher) for this review.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

ARC Review: Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Akata Witch (Akata Witch, #1)Title: Akata Witch
Author: Nnedi Okorafor
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Speak; July 11, 2017

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads...

Sunny Nwazue lives in Nigeria, but she was born in New York City. Her features are West African, but she's albino. She's a terrific athlete, but can't go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits in. And then she discovers something amazing—she is a "free agent" with latent magical power. And she has a lot of catching up to do. Soon she's part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But just as she's finding her footing, Sunny and her friends are asked by the magical authorities to help track down a career criminal who knows magic, too. Will their training be enough to help them against a threat whose powers greatly outnumber theirs?
I’ve been hearing about Akata Witch for a couple of years now and was excited to get a chance to read an eARC of it. On the surface, it appeared to have all the elements I look for in a fantasy. However, I had some reservations about approaching a book that had a substantial amount of hype. That being said, I really enjoyed Akata Witch. There was so much about the story that just clicked for me. So, I’ve seriously had to stop and wonder why I haven’t read any of Nnedi Okrafore’s novels before. Obviously, I’ve been missing out!

The synopsis of this book promises magic, and it fully delivers on that and more. I’d like to just say that I liked this book and you should read it too, but that doesn’t explain why. I’ll start with the story. The story of this book moves at its own pace, and honestly, I didn’t mind because there were a lot of details to take in. There was magic, lots of it actually. That being said, Okrafore put such a fresh and imaginative spin on it that the premise of the story felt entirely new. In that way, I enjoyed the world building a lot and found Okrafore’s version of a magically inclined society interesting and unique. It’s probably one of my favorites thanks to how the characters interacted with each other and the places around them. There were so many cool elements to the story and setting, and I can’t talk about them for fear of accidently spoiling the story. Just know that they were cool.

Before I end this review, I want to mention the characters. Let me just say that they were amazing, especially the main character, Sunny. From the start, I instantly loved how Okrafore portrayed her character. While the core of Akata Witch was arguably Sunny’s journey as she learned how to handle her abilities as a “free agent,” it was also about learning, teamwork, and friendship. The friendship between Sunny and her new friends was one of my favorite things about Akata Witch.

At the end of the day, I’m really looking forward to reading more books by Nnedi Okrafore, especially Akata Warrior. Also, I’ve heard a lot of praise for her Binti series. So I’ll eventually read those books too.

(Actual rating 4.5 out of 5 birdcages)

This copy of the book was provided by First to Read for this review.
About the author...

Nnedi Okorafor is an international award-winning novelist of African-based science fiction, fantasy and magical realism for both children and adults. Born in the United States to two Nigerian immigrant parents, Nnedi is known for weaving African culture into creative evocative settings and memorable characters. In a profile of Nnedi’s work titled, “Weapons of Mass Creation”, The New York Times called Nnedi’s imagination “stunning”. Nnedi Okorafor’s books include Lagoon (a British Science Fiction Association Award finalist for Best Novel), Who Fears Death (a World Fantasy Award winner for Best Novel), Kabu Kabu (A Publisher's Weekly Best Book for Fall 2013), Akata Witch (an Amazon.com Best Book of the Year), Zahrah the Windseeker (winner of the Wole Soyinka Prize for African Literature), and The Shadow Speaker (a CBS Parallax Award winner). Her latest works include her novel The Book of Phoenix and her novella Binti (a finalist for a Nebula and British Science Fiction Award). Nnedi is an associate professor at the University at Buffalo, New York (SUNY). Learn more at Nnedi.com...

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