Showing posts with label Review Copy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Review Copy. Show all posts

Monday, March 12, 2018

Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

35210501Title: Ready Player One
Series: N/A
Author: Ernest Cline
Source/Format: Blogging for Books; Paperback
More Details: Science Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Broadway Books; August 16, 2011

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines--puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win--and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape...
For the longest time, I’ve been hearing about Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. This author isn’t completely new to me. I read Armada and liked it, so, I didn’t go into Ready Player One totally in the dark about Cline’s writing. However, my expectations were very high. I expected to be wowed. And, I wasn’t disappointed. I liked Ready Player One

The OASIS was described as a “vast virtual world where most of humanity spends their days”, which is the only accurate way to describe it. There were more than a dozen different worlds within the game, made up of original places or franchises licensed for use in OASIS. It was open platform and the majority of the setting (where the story played out) was within OASIS. It wasn’t just a recreational pastime, but also a place to learn and make purchases using real money. It was also a place to form friendships and even romantic relationships.

The plot focused on the contest, or “the Hunt”, left behind by James Halliday (the creator of the OASIS). So, Ready Player One is a Willy Wonka-esque story with a heavy emphasis on virtual reality, peppered—almost on every page—with references to pop culture primarily from the 80s. There were mentions of Star Wars, Back to the Future, and many others; as well as video games and consoles, for example the Atari 2600. But, this was a book that also had something else to say: an underlying message mixed in with the action and the Hunt, kind of about escapism via virtual reality told through the experiences of past and present characters.

And that brings me to the characters. I thought Wade Watts was a relatively interesting protagonist. He was down on his luck and had horrible relatives. His situation wasn’t the best and the OASIS was his escape from his life in the stacks. He was also like a walking dictionary for 80s pop culture. But then again, so were a lot of the “gunters” involved in the Hunt.

So, I thoroughly enjoyed Ready Player One and will definitely read future books by this author.
Disclaimer: this copy of the book was provided by Blogging for Books for this review...

About the author...

Ernest Cline is a novelist, screenwriter, father, and full-time geek. His first novel, Ready Player One, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller and appeared on numerous “best of the year” lists. Ernie lives in Austin, Texas, with his family, a time-traveling DeLorean, and a large collection of classic video games...

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Review: 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...

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

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

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).

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Review: Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science and the World by Rachel Swaby

Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science-and the WorldTitle: Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science-and the World
Author: Rachel Swaby
Source/Format: Blogging For Books, Paperback
More Details: Nonfiction, Science
Publisher/Publication Date: Broadway Books, April 7, 2015

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Summary from Goodreads...

In 2013, the New York Times published an obituary for Yvonne Brill. It began: “She made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job, and took eight years off from work to raise three children.” It wasn’t until the second paragraph that readers discovered why the Times had devoted several hundred words to her life: Brill was a brilliant rocket scientist who invented a propulsion system to keep communications satellites in orbit, and had recently been awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. Among the questions the obituary—and consequent outcry—prompted were, Who are the role models for today’s female scientists, and where can we find the stories that cast them in their true light? Headstrong delivers a powerful, global, and engaging response. Covering Nobel Prize winners and major innovators, as well as lesser-known but hugely significant scientists who influence our every day...
When I first saw this book available for review I was more than excited for it. I previously knew about a few prominent female figures like Sally Ride, and I was looking to expand my knowledge. I wanted to know more about the accomplishment of women in the scientific field.

Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science and the World by Rachel Swaby offers a brief look at 52 woman who changed the fields they worked in—offering summaries of their accomplishments and general facts about them. This book covered subjects from Medicine, to Genetics and Development.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, despite the fact that only a few pages were dedicated to each woman and her major accomplishments. Headstrong does a great job highlighting each person by offering facts about their upbringing and schooling, even some of the hardships they faced in their respective workplaces before—sometimes even after—achieving acclaim for important discoveries. It was everything from opposition coming directly from prominent colleges refusing to admit them, to their names being omitted from work they spent their life on.

My only real complaint is as I said above, that the profiles were a little short, and I would have liked to know more about each person. But overall, I really liked Headstrong, and I read the book in a few days. I definitely recommend picking it up if you’re looking for a way to get introduced to more female scientists beyond what you might already know.

Top 5 Favorite Profiles...
  • Jeanne Villepreux-Power "the mother of aquariophily" (p.52).
  • Rita Levi-Montalcini "In 1986, she and Cohen were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology for their work." (p.107).
  • Rosalyn Sussman Yalow "Over the course of conducting their insulin research, Yalow and Berson measured the antibodies generated as a result of the hormone." (p.149).
  • Yvonne Brill "Her electrothermal hydrazine thruster was still used in satellites when she died in 2013." (p.171).
  • Florence Nightingale "Through observation and statistical analysis of census data, Nightingale designed a curriculum for nurses that would provide them with adequate training for the very first time." (p.187-188).

I received this copy of the book from Blogging for Books for this review, thank you!

Rachel Swaby is a freelance journalist. Her work has appeared in theRunner’s World, Wired, O, The Oprah Magazine, New, Afar, and others. She is a senior editor at Longshot magazine, the editor-in-chief of The Connective: Issue 1, a former research editor at Wired, and a past presenter at Pop-Up magazine. She lives in Brooklyn. Visit her website HERE

Monday, January 19, 2015

Review: Video Game Storytelling by Evan Skolnick

Author: Evan Skolnick
Source/Format: Blogging for Books, Review Copy
Age Range: anyone
Publisher/Publication Date: Watson-Guptill, December 2, 2014

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Summary from Goodreads...

With increasingly sophisticated video games being consumed by an enthusiastic and expanding audience, the pressure is on game developers like never before to deliver exciting stories and engaging characters. WithVideo Game Storytelling, game writer and producer Evan Skolnick provides a comprehensive yet easy-to-follow guide to storytelling basics and how they can be applied at every stage of the development process—by all members of the team. Full Summary Here

So for my first nonfiction read of 2015 I got Video Game Storytelling by Evan Skolnick and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. This book was all about the art of putting together a good video game story, narrative, and how all of the parts should go along with one another for a better, coherent game experience for players.

“Conflict powers your story. Conflict is the burning energy that propels it forward. And if your tale runs out of fuel before it reaches its destination, you’ve got a problem” (p.7).

The very beginning of Video Game Storytelling dishes out some important advice on story conflicts and the importance of them before jumping right into the three-Act Structure. Across the various chapters, the information delves more into it as the different areas of game storytelling, breaking it down into sections. These individual sections expertly presented explanations and used well-known movies and video games as examples.

“The Monomyth is composed of two main elements: archetypes and story structure” (p.28).

This book also covered typical characters in games and their respective arcs. I found those chapters particularly interesting. Skolnick broke down the basic structure of video game storytelling into various parts that highlighted the importance of each and how they could be applied to video games. There’s a lot of information that’s covered, but presented straight-forwardly with plenty of examples of how it was all used previously. Overall, I enjoyed this book and I recommend it to anyone who wants to read it.

I received this book from Blogging For Books for this review, thank you! 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Review: Words for Pictures by Brian Michael Bendis

Words for Pictures: The Art and Business of Writing Comics and Graphic NovelsTitle:Words for Pictures: The Art and Business of Writing Comics and Graphic Novels 
Author: Brian Michael Bendis, Foreword by Joe Quesada
Source/Format: Blogging for Books, Review Copy
Age Range: anyone
Publisher/Publishing Date: Watson-Guptill, July 22, 2014

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Book Summary from Goodreads...

One of the most popular writers in modern comics, Brian Michael Bendis reveals the tools and techniques he and other top creators use to create some of the most popular comic book and graphic novel stories of all time.Words for Pictures shows readers the creative methods of a writer at the very top of his field. Full Summary Here

     Words for Pictures (The Art and Business of Writing Comics and Graphic Novels) by Brian Michael Bendis, is a great guide for tips on how to structure stories for comics. It also offers an insight into the business aspect of the comic industry, and offers easy guidelines to remember.

“He learned how to fail. This is the key to success” (p.xi).

     In the beginning, this book goes over type A and B artists to give an example. But it makes a strong point, and it was all within a few paragraphs. There’s always room for improvement, and I like how the information was presented. It states some very true points on criticism and how some could take it more personal than others.

“If you’re not falling, you’re not really trying hard enough. This book is about falling, and it’s about failing. Any book that offers to provide you with a road map to success in any given field ultimately is about failure" (p.xii).

     There’s a lot to learn in this book, and I like how Bendis handled the explanation on the topics. I especially like the examples given on pitch documents, story outlines, the pros and cons of using a full script, and “a marvel style situation.” The script examples were also nice.

“I don’t want you to write like me. I want you to write like you” (p.8).

     There was never a truer statement—and it applies to all forms of writing. The book stresses the idea of developing your own individual styles, but also offers handy explanations on what different people do when working in groups. So, in the end I enjoyed reading Words for Pictures, and I will definitely keep this book on hand as a reference.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for review, thank you!
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