Showing posts with label Blogging for Books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blogging for Books. Show all posts

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Revie: The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

The Invisible Library (The Invisible Library, #1)Title: The Invisible Library
Author: Genevieve Cogman
Source/Format: Blogging for Books; Paperback
More Details: Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Roc; June 14, 2016

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Collecting books can be a dangerous prospect in this fun, time-traveling, fantasy adventure from a spectacular debut author...

One thing any Librarian will tell you: the truth is much stranger than fiction...

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, a shadowy organization that collects important works of fiction from all of the different realities. Most recently, she and her enigmatic assistant Kai have been sent to an alternative London. Their mission: Retrieve a particularly dangerous book. The problem: By the time they arrive, it's already been stolen. London's underground factions are prepared to fight to the death to find the tome before Irene and Kai do, a problem compounded by the fact that this world is chaos-infested—the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic to run rampant. To make matters worse, Kai is hiding something—secrets that could be just as volatile as the chaos-filled world itself. Now Irene is caught in a puzzling web of deadly danger, conflicting clues, and sinister secret societies. And failure is not an option—because it isn’t just Irene’s reputation at stake, it’s the nature of reality itself...
The Invisible Library is one book I’ve been meaning to read for a while. I mean, it sounded like the kind of book I would enjoy anyway since its main theme is a mysterious library, librarians who double as spies, and of course books—lots and lots of books. In a lot of ways this one reminded me of The Librarians (the movies and TV series). Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean that comparison in a bad way, because I actually enjoyed this book.

The Invisible Library was a pretty interesting story. It had a lot to do with one librarians search for a “particularly dangerous book.” This book was heavy on the mystery aspect. The majority of the book was spent building up the characters and the mystery surrounding the books’ disappearance and ultimate fate. Another thing worth noting was the library. I liked the fact that the library wasn’t just a library, but a place that connected to a lot of different realities. The individual realities were kind of interesting in that they could share common features and names, but were still different at the same time. So, there was a bit of a time-travel-y element to the story. I also found the librarians themselves to be a point of interest, because of how the library affected them and the roles they took on. Because hey, it’s just part of the job description, right?

Now before I end this review, I want to talk about the characters. The librarians were already kind of mysterious, especially the more higher ranking ones above where the MC, Irene, currently worked. Irene was pretty cool. I’m always a sucker for characters who are librarians—but Irene gets bonus points for working for a magical library, and being a spy. She was intuitive and had a love for books, and honestly, it was just kind of fun to read about the adventures she had. In the synopsis it’s mentioned that Kai—Irene’s assistant—had secrets. That part was alright, but I found his secrets easy to guess. However, I still have some questions about his character. So, guessable secrets aside, Kai was still interesting.

So, The Invisible Library was entertaining, and I look forward to seeing what comes next in this series.

This copy of the book was provided by Blogging For Books (publisher) for this review, thank you!
About the author...

Genevieve Cogman got started on Tolkien and Sherlock Holmes at an early age, and has never looked back. But on a perhaps more prosaic note, she has an MSC in Statistics with Medical Applications and has wielded this in an assortment of jobs: clinical coder, data analyst and classifications specialist. Although The Invisible Library is her debut novel, she has also previously worked as a freelance roleplaying game writer. Genevieve Cogman’s hobbies include patchwork, beading, knitting and gaming, and she lives in the north of England...

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Review: Colored Pencil Painting Portraits: Master a Revolutionary Method for Rendering Depth and Imitating Life by Alyona Nickelsen

33866626Title: Colored Pencil Painting Portraits: Master a Revolutionary Method for Rendering Depth and Imitating Life
Author: Alyona Nickelsen
Source/Format: Blogging For Books; Paperback
More Details: Nonfiction; Art
Publisher/Publication Date: Watson-Guptill; June 20, 2017

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Colored pencil painter Alyona Nickelsen reveals how to use the medium to push the limits of realistic portraiture...

Colored Pencil Painting Portraits provides straightforward solutions to the problems that artists face in creating lifelike images, and will prime readers on the intricacies of color, texture, shadow, and light as they interplay with the human form. In this truly comprehensive guide packed with step-by-step demonstrations, Nickelsen considers working from photo references versus live models; provides guidance on posing and lighting, as well as planning and composing a work; discusses tools, materials, and revolutionary layering techniques; and offers lessons on capturing gesture and expression and on rendering facial and body features of people of all age groups and skin tones...
This was a book I was honestly interested in reading from a purely learning viewpoint. Colored pencils aren’t a medium I typically use often. So, it was only a given that I wanted to know more about what could and couldn’t be done with them from the perspective of someone passionate about the medium. When I saw Alyona Nickelsen’s new book available for review, of course I signed up for it. I’m glad I did, because Colored Pencil Painting Portraits: Master a Revolutionary Method for Rendering Depth and Imitating Life was a comprehensive look at the art of creating portraits not with paint, but with colored pencil. Alyona’s process—techniques and paper preference among other things—was truly interesting to read about.

I’ve always liked colored pencils, but after reading this book I’ve got a new respect for the medium. Nickelsen is truly a pioneer in colored pencil art. She didn’t just learn how to create amazing pieces, but she also studied her medium too. Her writing showed her enthusiasm and technical know-how on the subject in a concise and organized manner. One of my favorite quotes was from the afterword of this book:

“Making and implementing a goal (in art and beyond) is sometimes not that straightforward, but if you know what you like, you are already halfway there. The other half is just figuring out how to get there.”(p.172).

There’s just something I find so inspiring about the above passage. I think it has to do with the fact that advice like that can apply not just to art, but writing (and blogging, Etc.) as well. And while I will use colored pencils more, my focus is still on working with watercolor and gouache. However, this book still had a lot of good advice, and gave me a lot to think about in terms of how I layer and mix my colors. Suffice it to say, I will definitely keep this one on my shelf for future reference.

Disclaimer: this copy of the book was provided by Blogging For Books (Publisher) for this review, thank you!
About the author...

Alyona Nickelsen, born and raised in Ukraine, immigrated to the United States in 1999, where she pursued a successful career as a professional artist. Alyona has dedicated her life's work to advancing colored pecvil painting techniques and promoting her favorite medium. To do this, she had developed a range of methods and materials that allow the once-limited colored pencil medium to challenge such traditional favorites as oil paints in most performance aspects. Alyona's art has received numerous awards and recognitions, and has been featured in a number of national and international publications, including The Artist's Magazine, International Artist, and Colored Pencil magazine. Alyona is the author of the bess-selling book Colored Pencil Painting Bible, which is highly praised by artists at all levels of expertise, has an impressive base of fans and followers, and has been translated into Chinese and Korean languages. Alyona Nickelsen currently resides in the state of Texas with her family and continues researching, teaching, creating, and inspiring.  Visit her website at

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Review: Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

WindfallTitle: Windfall
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Source/Format: Blogging For Books; Hardcover
More Details: Young Adult; Contemporary
Publisher/Publication Date: Delacorte Press; May 2, 2017

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes. At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall. As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined . . . and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect...
I read This Is What Happy Looks Like back in 2013. So, it’s been a couple of years since I read anything by Jennifer E. Smith. Needless to say, I was more than excited to get the chance to review her latest book. Windfall was an engrossing read, and I ended up finishing it in one sitting. Obviously, I really enjoyed this book a lot.

Windfall was a lovely story—that’s the only way I know how to describe it in a few words—and there was something refreshingly simple about it that I really enjoyed. I haven’t read anything in the young adult contemporary side in a while, so maybe that’s why I feel that way. Windfall was just right. It was everything I was hoping it would be and reminded me why I got into Smith’s stories in the first place.

When I saw the synopsis, I was kind of interested to see what Smith could do with something like a lottery win of $140 million, and how that could change the relationship between characters—who were ordinary—for better or for worse. It turned out to be an interesting story. Sure, Teddy does what any winner would do—he goes on extravagant spending sprees, and yeah, it goes right to his head. But Windfall also takes a look at the smaller things in life, the consequences of strained relationships, and unexpected losses—and the emotional repercussions. It was also about making mistakes and growing. I felt like the characters were given the space to learn from their mistakes, and discover where they want to be, and what truely makes them happy.

Windfall is one of the best YA books I’ve read so far in 2017. I haven’t really kept up with Jennifer E. Smith’s books, but now I want to go back and check out some of the other stories that I’ve missed. (Actual Rating 4.5 birdcages out of 5)

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review, thank you!
About the author...

Jennifer E. Smith is the author of eight books for young adults, including WINDFALL and THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT. She earned her master's degree in creative writing from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and her writing has been translated into 33 languages...

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Review: A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

A Shadow Bright and Burning (Kingdom on Fire, #1)Title: A Shadow Bright and Burning
Author: Jessica Cluess
Source/Format: Blogging for Books; Hardcover
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Random House BFYR; September 20, 2016

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

I am Henrietta Howel. The first female sorcerer. The prophesied one. Or am I?

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she is brought to London to train with Her Majesty's sorcerers, she meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, young men eager to test her powers and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her. As Henrietta discovers the secrets hiding behind the glamour of sorcerer life, she begins to doubt that she's the true prophesied one. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city--and the one she loves?
It took me around a week to finally sit down and write this review. That’s a long time in my book, but I needed the extra time to really think about what I read and what I wanted to say about it. A Shadow Bright and Burning wasn’t that bad of a book. However, it was just an average read for me.

There was nothing particularly bad about this story. It was fantasy set in a time period where women were expected to remain in certain roles. There was magic, a prophecy, and a main character who wasn’t the chosen one. The synopsis basically told me a lot about the plot. So when I actually got to that part of the book, I just kind of shrugged at Henrietta’s reaction because I was already expecting it.

Now, I did like that Henrietta wasn’t the prophesied one—as indicated in the synopsis. I feel like I haven’t seen enough of that, so it was a nice touch. Another thing I liked was the magic. For the most part, the magic was pretty cool. Henrietta was a pretty good character, but like the rest of the cast, she was just alright for me. I didn’t mind reading from her perspective, and there were parts of her personality and actions that were interesting.

The last couple of chapters of A Shadow Bright and Burning were the best, and my favorite part of the book. The story moved a lot quicker, there was action, and sufficiently surprising twists that were A+ in my opinion.

While A Shadow Bright and Burning had some great elements to it, there were some parts that weren’t as good. Still, the end left the characters in an interesting place, and I could kind of see hints of where this series could be headed. As such, I might consider picking up the next book.
This copy of the book was provided by Blogging for Books (Publisher) for this review, thank you!
About the author...

Jessica Cluess is a writer, a graduate of Northwestern University, and an unapologetic nerd. After college, she moved to Los Angeles, where she served coffee to the rich and famous while working on her first novel. When she's not writing books, she's an instructor at Writopia Lab, helping kids and teens tell their own stories...

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Monday, November 7, 2016

Review: The Snow Queen by Hans Christain Andersen, Illustrated by Sanna Annukka

24385896Title: The Snow Queen
Author/Illustrator: Hans Christain Andersen; Sanna Annukka
Source/Format: Blogging for Books; Hardcover
More Details: Classic; Fairy Tale
Publisher/Publication Date: Hutchinson; October 22, 2015 (Originally published in 1844)

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Hans Christian Andersen's magical tale of friendship and adventure is retold through the beautiful and intricate illustrations of Finnish-English illustrator Sanna Annukka. Cloth-bound in deep blue, with silver foil embellishments, The Snow Queen is a unique work of art.

Sanna Annukka is familiar to many from her collaborations with Marimekko and her artwork for Keane's album, Under the Iron Sea. For her second book project, she illustrates Hans Christian Andersen's classic fairy tale, The Snow Queen...
The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen is one classic I’ve been meaning to read. Since I had a chance to read the edition illustrated by Sanna Annukka, I figured that now was the time. I’ve heard about the numerous retellings and stories loosely based on the Snow Quuen, but I wanted to see if the original tale was good. Actually,  I really enjoyed The Snow Queen. It was a short  and charming tale about friendship and the Snow Queen. It was also somewhat of an adventure too. The illustrations were gorgeous (in this edition), and the story itself was nice. I enjoyed the friendship between Kay and Gerda—especially Gerda’s loyalty. I could understand her motivation for undertaking the task of helping her friend. Now, the Snow Queen, she was an alright character, but she wasn't really that present in the story. The majority of the book was spent almost entirely on Gerda’s perspective and the characters that were directly part of her end of the story.

Really, I can’t say anymore. The book was so short that I found it hard to find something to say without delving too far into the story. So, I will leave it here today, and end this review by saying I’m glad that I can finally mark The Snow Queen off the list of classics I haven’t read. It was a very nice story.
This coy of the book was provided by Blogging for Books (Publisher) for this review, thank you!
About the author...

Hans Christian Andersen was born in Odense, Denmark, in 1805. The son of a cobbler and washerwoman, he didn't start school until he was seventeen. He became famous for his fairy tales, including classics such as The Ugly Duckling and The Little Mermaid. The Snow Queen was published in 1844. When he died aged 70, the king and crown prince of Denmark attended his funeral...

About the illustrator...

Sanna Annukka spent her childhood summers in Finnland, and its landscape and folklore remain a source of inspiration. A print maker and illustrator based in Brighton, England, she is also a designer for Finnish textile brand Marimekko and has been featured in Vogue and many interior design magazines. She had also illustrated Hans Christian Andersen's The Fur Tree...

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Review: Women In Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky

Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the WorldTitle: Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World
Author: Rachel Ignotofsky
Source/Format: Blogging for Books; Hardcover (review copy)
More Details: Nonfiction; Science
Publisher/Publication Date: Ten Speed Press; July 26, 2016
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Synopsis from Goodreads...

A charmingly illustrated and educational book, Women in Science highlights the contributions of fifty notable women to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) from the ancient to the modern world. Full of striking, singular art, this fascinating collection also contains infographics about relevant topics such as lab equipment, rates of women currently working in STEM fields, and an illustrated scientific glossary. The trailblazing women profiled include well-known figures like primatologist Jane Goodall, as well as lesser-known pioneers such as Katherine Johnson, the African-American physicist and mathematician who calculated the trajectory of the 1969 Apollo 11 mission to the moon. Women in Science celebrates the achievements of the intrepid women who have paved the way for the next generation of female engineers, biologists, mathematicians, doctors, astronauts, physicists, and more!
Last year, I read Rachel Swaby’s Headstrong, which turned out to be a great introduction to many women scientists I was unfamiliar with. I enjoyed learning about their major accomplishments, many of which I had no idea were discovered or invented by women despite being a part of everyday life. So, when I saw Rachel Ignotofsky’s Woman in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers who Changed the World, I was pretty excited. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy.

I really liked this book. It had a lot going for it. This book is a lot like Headstrong with neat profiles about each scientist; although, limited to just two pages. Women in Science mentioned women like Barbara McClintock (pioneer in corn genetics) and Patricia Bath (invented the Laserphaco Probe which is used to treat cataracts). Some of the women mentioned I already knew about, but that didn’t detract from how much I enjoyed this book since there were others still unfamiliar to me. Women in Science also acknowledged the struggles many of these women faced as it did their accomplishments. It offered a brief summarized glimpse into their work life.

One of the main things I enjoyed was Ignotofsky’s use of information and illustrations to build the profiles. The profiles were informative and accompanied by fun illustrations that were colorful and eye-catching. They depicted the subject of the profile, as well as things that directly concerned their field in science and their respective accomplishments—this was everything from corn to telescopes.

Women in Science was a fun book to read. I think it’s a great way to get introduced to some of the women pioneers in science.

Some of my other favorite profiles…

Sau Lan Wu “Made important contributions in the discovery of the Gluon.”(p.102).

Annie Easley “Helped to create software for the Centaur Rocket.”(p.88).

Vera Rubin “Discovered real proof that Dark Matter exists.”(p.86).

Alice Ball “Helped to cure Leprosy with her chemical treatment.”(p.44).

Wang Zhenyi “Accurately recorded Lunar Eclipses & Equinoxes.”(p.12).

This copy of the book was provided by Blogging for Books (Publisher) for this review, thank you!
About the author...

Rachel Ignotofsky is an illustrator and author based in beautiful Kansas City, MO. She 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 Rachel works for herself and spends all day and night drawing, writing and learning as much as she can. Her work is inspired by history and science. She believes that illustration is a powerful tool that can make learning exciting. Rachel hopes to use her work to spread her message about education, gender equality and scientific literacy...

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Review: Rain: A Natural and Cultural History by Cynthia Barnett

Rain: A Natural and Cultural HistoryTitle: Rain: A Natural and Cultural History
Author: Cynthia Barnett
Source/Format: Blogging for Books, Paperback Review Copy
More Details: Nonfiction, Science, History
Publisher/Publication Date: Crown Publishers, April 21, 2015

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Rain is elemental, mysterious, precious, destructive...

It is the subject of countless poems and paintings; the top of the weather report; the source of the world's water. Yet this is the first book to tell the story of rain. Cynthia Barnett's Rain begins four billion years ago with the torrents that filled the oceans, and builds to the storms of climate change. It weaves together science—the true shape of a raindrop, the mysteries of frog and fish rains—with the human story of our ambition to control rain, from ancient rain dances to the 2,203 miles of levees that attempt to straitjacket the Mississippi River. It offers a glimpse of our "founding forecaster," Thomas Jefferson, who measured every drizzle long before modern meteorology. Two centuries later, rainy skies would help inspire Morrissey’s mopes and Kurt Cobain’s grunge. Rain is also a travelogue, taking readers to Scotland to tell the surprising story of the mackintosh raincoat, and to India, where villagers extract the scent of rain from the monsoon-drenched earth and turn it into perfume.

Now, after thousands of years spent praying for rain or worshiping it; burning witches at the stake to stop rain or sacrificing small children to bring it; mocking rain with irrigated agriculture and cities built in floodplains; even trying to blast rain out of the sky with mortars meant for war, humanity has finally managed to change the rain. Only not in ways we intended. As climate change upends rainfall patterns and unleashes increasingly severe storms and drought, Barnett shows rain to be a unifying force in a fractured world. Too much and not nearly enough, rain is a conversation we share, and this is a book for everyone who has ever experienced it...
Of the books I’ve read this year, Rain: A natural and Cultural History by Cynthia Barnett was one of the more fascinating ones. Of the nonfiction I’ve picked up in 2016, I haven’t read one specifically about rain. The subject matter was of interest to me, and ultimately my primary reason for choosing to review this book. I wasn’t disappointed. Barnett’s research comes through on the page, and provided a thoroughly engrossing look at something as common as rain—disasters, and advancements in clothing to windshield wipers, and even mistakes made in an attempt to curb flooding.

Like I said, Rain was a very interesting read. There was a lot I liked about this book, and to me, the chapters were organized well. Barnett’s writing clearly presented facts, thus, I found this book easy to get into.

This majority of this book was dedicated to, as the title suggests, rain. It covers how weather has helped not only shape the environment, but also break it down. Barnett also shows how rain had an effect on nature as well as culture throughout history. But it also covered such topics as disastrous storms, frogs falling from the sky, polluted rainfall, as well as relief provided by much needed showers to arid regions. It also highlighted how city expansion could have effects on weather patterns, when natural landscapes are changed to suit the needs of people.

In the end, I was thoroughly impressed with Rain. It was a fascinating look at the weather, and the effects modern advancements can have on the environment. This is the first book I’ve read by Barnett, but suffice to say, I would definitely consider picking up another one of her novels.
This copy of this book was provided by Blogging for Books (publisher) for this review, thank you!
About the Author...

Cynthia Barnett is an award-winning environmental journalist who has reported on water from the Suwannee River to Singapore. She is the author of two previous books, Mirage and Blue Revolution, a Boston Globe top 10 science book of 2011. She lives in Gainesville, Florida with her husband and children. Visit her website at

Monday, May 23, 2016

My Thoughts: Brain Freeze Journal by Potter

Title: Brain Freeze Journal 
By: Potter
Source/Format: Blogging for Books, Review Copy
Publisher/Publication Date: Potter, May 10, 2016
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This blank journal features a soft cover that mimics the chocolate cookie of an ice cream sandwich as well as dyed page edges and an exposed spine to complete the look of the chocolate, vanilla, strawberry goodness of an ice cream sandwich. The interiors feature strawberry- and chocolate-colored lined pages. To complete the package, the words BRAIN FREEZE are stamped in gold foil on the cover...
Today, I'm going to be sharing my thoughts for this ice cream themed journal I received for review. This review is going to be a little different because this isn't a work of fiction. Basically, I'm just going to talk about how much I like the journal, stuff like that, and I'm going to break it down into sections to keep my thoughts a little more organized. Lets get started...

Initial Thoughts…

This journal is very cute. The look and size are perfect, and it really does resemble an ice cream sandwich. I didn’t photograph the sides, but the pages are actually brown white and pink to match the colors of strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla ice cream.

The Cover…

The cover is described as being soft, and I have to say that the texture is as promised. It is soft but solid, and really does resemble an ice cream sandwich. Another plus was the overall look of it. The left side of the binding is left open, leaving the pages exposed so the colors are consistent on each side. The size is smaller than a normal book and the height is about the length of my hand—so, it is pretty small. However, there are a lot of pages, and I feel like that compensates for the smaller size.

The Paper…

The paper doesn’t exactly match the picture above, because there aren’t any words on the side—but I never felt like that was necessary anyway. Another thing I like is the layout of the pages. The lines are colored according to the sides of the journal—the top is brown while the lower lines are pink. It doesn’t have that many lines, but the blank section in the middle of each page is perfect for doodling. Also, the paper is considerably thick and does pretty well with ink.

Final Thoughts…

I didn’t expect to like this journal as much as I do, but it’s really great. The look and style are fun, and the textured cover is an added bonus to the already whimsical appearance.

This copy of the journal was provided by Blogging for Books (publisher) for this review, thank you!
About the author...

POTTER, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, is a lifestyle gift imprint, specializing in design, health, humor, stationery, and other gift books and paper products.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Review: The Illustrated Compendium of Amazing Animal Facts by Maja Säfström

The Illustrated Compendium of Amazing Animal FactsTitle: The Illustrated Compendium of Amazing Animal Facts
Author: Maja Säfström
Source/Format: Blogging For Books, Hardcover (review copy)
More Details: Nonfiction, Nature, Animals, Illustration
Publisher/Publication Date: Ten Speed Press, March 29, 2016
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Synopsis from Goodreads...

An artfully playful collection of unexpected and remarkable facts about animals, illustrated by Swedish artist Maja Säfström. Did you know that an octopus has three hearts? Or that ostriches can't walk backward? These and many more fascinating and surprising facts about the animal kingdom (Bees never sleep! Starfish don't have brains!) are illustrated with whimsical detail in this charming collection...
When I finally got my copy of The Illustrated Compendium of Amazing Animal Facts, I couldn’t wait to read it. So, I put aside everything else, and read it in one sitting—literally. The book was fantastic. It was short and full of fun animal facts and cute illustrations. I knew some of the facts, but there were other’s I was surprised by—such as the one I picked for this Fridays 56. I never wanted to know that much about spiders, because ew, gross. Still, the book had many other interesting facts, and Säfström did a good job with the illustrations, which were done all in black and white.

All around, The Illustrated Compendium of Amazing Animal Facts was a cute, but also informative book about animals. Some of my favorite facts involved Beavers, Owls, Crocodiles, and an interesting piece of information about Moose antlers. This is the first time I’ve heard about Säfström, but I would consider checking out more of her work when it becomes available.
This copy of the book was provided by Blogging For Books (publisher) for this review, thank you!
About the Author...

MAJA SÄFSTRÖM is a Stockholm based architect and illustrator who has gained international recognition for her quirky animal drawings. For more of her works, visit:

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Review: Doctor Who: Royal Blood by Una McCormack

Doctor Who: Royal BloodTitle:Doctor Who: Royal Blood
Author: Una McCormack
Source/Format: Blogging for Books, Paperback Review Copy
More Details: Science Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Broadway Books, September 8, 2015 

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

“The Grail is a story, a myth! It didn’t exist on your world! It can’t exist here!”

The city-state of Varuz is failing. Duke Aurelian is the last of his line, his capital is crumbling, and the armies of his enemy, Duke Conrad, are poised beyond the mountains to invade. Aurelian is preparing to gamble everything on one last battle. So when a holy man, the Doctor, comes to Varuz from beyond the mountains, Aurelian asks for his blessing in the war.

But all is not what it seems in Varuz. The city-guard have lasers for swords, and the halls are lit by electric candlelight. Aurelian’s beloved wife, Guena, and his most trusted knight, Bernhardt, seem to be plotting to overthrow their Duke, and Clara finds herself drawn into their intrigue...

Will the Doctor stop Aurelian from going to war? Will Clara’s involvement in the plot against the Duke be discovered? Why is Conrad’s ambassador so nervous? And who are the ancient and weary knights who arrive in Varuz claiming to be on a quest for the Holy Grail…?
You know, there is something about the Doctor Who books that keeps me coming back for more. I love the show too so getting Royal Blood was an easy decision. I read this book in a few hours—it was kind of short—but pretty much perfect for what I was looking for. The book opens with the Doctor and Clara landing in a new place, but from the start there was something very odd about the isolated city of Varuz. With its laser swords and electricity, its first appearance is that of a great city but on closer inspection it seemed like the place was crumbling away—it made for an excellent setting. The plot was pretty straight forward as the Doctor and Clara got wrapped up in the conflicts that surrounded Varuz. And in the typical fashion of Doctor Who, they tried to help solve some of the problems to the best of their abilities. The ending was a little sad, but overall, I really enjoyed this book.
This copy of the book was provided by Blogging for Books for this review, thank you! 
Una McCormack is a New York Times bestselling author. She has written two Doctor Who novels featuring the Eleventh Doctor, Amy and Rory: The King’s Dragon and The Way through the Woods, as well as several audio dramas for Big Finish. She lives in Cambridge with her partner, Matthew, and their daughter, Verity

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Review: Doctor Who: The Drosten's Curse by A.L. Kennedy

Doctor Who: The Drosten’s CurseTitle: Doctor Who: The Drosten's Curse 
Author: A.L. Kennedy 
Source/Format: Blogging for Books, Paperback
More Details: Science Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Broadway Books, July 14, 2015

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

“I shall make you the jewel at the heart of the universe…”

Something distinctly odd is going on in Arbroath. It could be to do with golfers being dragged down into the bunkers at the Fetch Brothers’ Golf Spa Hotel, never to be seen again. It might be related to the strange twin grandchildren of the equally strange Mrs Fetch–owner of the hotel and fascinated with octopuses. It could be the fact that people in the surrounding area suddenly know what others are thinking, without anyone saying a word. Whatever it is, the Doctor is most at home when faced with the distinctly odd. With the help of Fetch Brothers’ Junior Receptionist Bryony, he’ll get to the bottom of things. Just so long as he does so in time to save Bryony from quite literally losing her mind, and the entire world from destruction. Because something huge, ancient and alien lies hidden beneath the ground and it’s starting to wake up…
Whew, ok, so this is my first Doctor Who novel—my co-blogger reviewed one earlier in the year—and now I’ve finally read one. And I have to say that The Drosten’s Curse was pretty awesome, and kept me up till one in the morning.

The concept was definitely one of the most interesting I’ve read about in a while. There was essentially something lurking in The Fetch Brothers’ Golf Spa Hotel’s golf course that was making the unassuming guests vanish. There were also a number of strange occurrences surrounding the entire area, such as how people were suddenly able to know what others were thinking. That was just the least of it, trust me, there was a lot more to it. So I immediately knew that there was something very wrong with the place. And that made the story very interesting.

Speaking of places, I think the setting was pretty much perfect, and presented an extra challenge—the golf course really made dealing with the creature difficult. There seemed to be a lot of places where it could hide and no one ever knew where it was going to appear next. Inevitably, there were a lot of elements of suspense throughout the entire book, and I enjoyed seeing how it all played out as the Doctor tried to figure out what was really going on. There were many instances that left me wondering how the characters were going to get out of the situation they found themselves in.

It was kind of the reason why I was up so late—just as things were beginning to calm down, something else came hurtling out of nowhere, adding to the troubles that the characters already faced.

Alongside the Doctor was Bryony, a receptionist at the hotel who inevitably gets wrapped up in the mess. She was pretty awesome, and I truly did enjoy her parts of the story. There’s a lot I want to talk about but can’t because this is one story that I can’t say much about without spoiling the entire thing. So I’m just going to leave it at what I’ve already said.

So yeah, I really liked the Drosten’s Curse and if you’re a fan of Doctor Who then I recommend giving this one a try.

This copy of the book was provided by Blogging For Books for this review, thank you!
A. L. Kennedy has published six novels, two books of nonfiction, and three previous collections of short stories. She has twice been selected as one ofGranta’s Best Young British Novelists and has won a number of prizes, including the Costa Book of the Year Award (2007), the Somerset Maugham Award, the Encore Award, and the Saltire Scottish Book of the Year Award. She lives in Glasgow and is a part-time lecturer in creative writing at the University of St. Andrews.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Review: Cookie Love by Mindy Segal with Kate Leahy

Title: Cookie Love: 60 Recipes and Techniques for Turning the Ordinary into the Extraordinary
Author: Mindy Segal with Kate Leahy
Source/Format: Blogging for Books, Hardcover Review Copy
More Details: Cooking, Food
Publisher/Publication Date: Ten Speed Press, April 7, 2015

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Mindy Segal is an up-and-coming chef and baker who's serious about cookies and bars. In her first cookbook, Segal turns classic recipes into more elevated, fun interpretations of everyone's favorite sweet treat. From Brown Butter with Hickory Smoked Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies and Crème de Violet Snickerdoodles, to Citrus, Brown Butter, and Graham Cracker Shortbread with Framboise Preserves and Hibiscus Sugar Rugelach, Segal's recipes are inspired and far from expected. This modern twist on a traditional favorite is the perfect addition to every baker's bookshelf...
I can’t really say that the synopsis was what got me interested in this book, because it didn’t. I really wanted to get this book based solely on the fact that I like to bake, and Cookie Love seemed to be the perfect fit for me.

This book has too many cookie ideas, but don’t get me wrong that’s actually a good thing! The recipes span across a wide variety, everything from basic cookies to snickerdoodles, a handful of short bread variations, and even Milanos. They are a little more complicated than the average cookie recipe, but would probably be great if you’re looking to try something new or for a get together to impress guests. The back section of the book covers some basics—cooking techniques and clarification on leaveners and supplies. There’s even a small section on making your own butter.

Ok, now that I’ve gotten my initial thoughts out I’m going to move on. Out of this book, I selected one of the recipes to try before I sat down to write this review. It’s called “Ode to the Chunky Bar.” Let me just tell you that the cookies were delicious and the texture was really good. The taste of the actual cookie wasn’t too sweet but with the raisins and extra chocolate added in it hardly mattered. Below you can see pictures of how mine came out:

Overall I like this book and will be keeping it on my shelf. And I recommend it to people who are looking to expand their horizons when it comes to baking cookies.

This copy of the book was provided by Blogging for Books for this review, thank you!
KATE LEAHY is a freelance writer and the co-author of A16 Food + Wine (with Shelley Lindgren and Nate Appleman) and The Preservation Kitchen (with Paul Virant).
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