Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Ether: Vero Rising by Laurice Elehwany Molinari

The Ether by Laurice Elehwany Molinari

This book is in the same genre as "Harry Potter" and "The Lightening Thief". It stars a 12 year old boy who finds out he is different - in Vero's case, he is a fledgling guardian angel, and at times, he attends angel school - called C.A.N.D.L.E. and has life-threatening adventures with 4 other students who become his close friends. Unlike, Hogwarts, and more like Camp Half Blood, the fledglings are rarely at their school and are usually together fighting the bad guys who include Golems, Leviathan, and a type of demon called a Malture. The angels Uriel and Michael assist the fledglings as they battle the bad guys, and learn how to answer prayers. There is a Judeo-Christian theme, with God and angels referenced, and one of the fledglings is Jewish and has a Bat-Mitzvah, but there is no mention of Jesus. Kids who are fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson may also enjoy Vero and his adventures. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Ben Fox: Squirrel Zombie Specialist at Your Service by Daisy Whitney

Ben Fox by Daisy Whitney
This is a fabulously cute story for kids. When ten year old Ben Fox discovers that his sister's cat Percy has raised an army of zombie squirrels, he is alarmed. Then, he finds out that Percy is trying to make Ben's dog, Captain Sparkles, act like a cat. As his poor dog begins to rub up against his legs and behave in an increasingly cat-like manner and Halloween approaches, Ben realized he must stop the zombie squirrel army quickly. In order to do so, he must enlist the help of his six year old sister Macy, who, although she can be a bit of a pain, turns out to be incredibly helpful. This book is funny and cute and I think that kids ages 7 to 12 will really enjoy it. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters

The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters
Set in 1900 in the midst of the fight for women's suffrage - the right to vote, this book tells the story of 17 year old Olivia whose father wants to have her hypnotized so that she will see men and women as they truly are so that she will no longer want women to have the right to vote because she will see that their true role is to care for homes, husbands and children. When 18 year old mesmerist Henri Reverie tells her that she will see men and women as they really are and that she will no longer be able to speak her anger, her world is turned upside down. Eager to be cured from this curse, she seeks out Henri and together they plan to help her and the cause for women's suffragism. There is intrigue and a bit of romance and the book presents the women's suffragist movement in a way that young women today will be able to relate to. I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I enjoyed it very much.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Retribution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #3) by Michelle Hodkin

The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
I waited almost a year to read this book wondering - is Mara insane?, who is alive and who is dead?, what on earth is really going on? Now, I have read the book and I know the answers. Everyone else who wants to know, will just have to read the book too. Like the second book, this one also has some rather graphic gruesomeness. It has crazy plot twists and turns and kept me reading - I finished it in two days. Was it worth waiting a year to read? Yes. Y'all have fun reading it!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Twisted Window by Lois Duncan

I received a free copy of this book to review from Netgalley. It was originally published in 1987 and then re-introduced in digital form in 2012. I think they tried to update it some, because even though they were using phone books and the setting was obviously in the 1980s, at one point, Brad says he has no phone and there is no cell coverage where he is - which is odd since there were no phones or cell coverage anywhere then. The story is ok, rather twisted and creepy I suppose. Brad shows up at a high school, pretends to be a student there and talks Tracy into helping him kidnap his baby sister, who he claims was kidnapped by his stepfather. Quite a few of the facts don't add up and we later learn that Brad is not telling the truth about the matter. There is a bio about the author at the end of the book. The bio is nice. I was not thrilled with the book though, I found it to be rather boring.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Trash Can Days: A Middle School Saga by Teddy Steinkellner

Trash Can Days by Teddy Steinkellner
So, this book was just ok. I struggled to get through it and skimmed a lot. I did not like the parts that were written as if they were texts and facebook posts. I found them annoying and distracting and difficult to read. I think that will make the book seem dated very quickly. The middle school kids that I know use other forms of social media because their grandparents are on facebook. I also did not like Dorothy's stories very much and I did not like that they were in italics.
I found the characters to be incredibly, horrifically, insultingly stereotypical. I did, however like the way the book ended.
This book follows four students along with some of their friends in the text and facebook parts. Hannah Schwartz is in 8th grade and her brother Jake who is sort of the main character out of the 4, is in 7th grade. They are incredibly rich Jews. Danny Uribe is also in 7th grade. His parents work for the Schwartz's and they live in a house on the Schwartz property and because they have done so since the boys were 7, Danny and Jake have been best friends. This year, however, Danny gets involved in an Hispanic gang. Dorothy Wu is Asian, and dresses all in black and is into Pokémon and writing her own fantasy stories.
Perhaps middle school kids will enjoy this book. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Owner's Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain by JoAnn Deak, Terrence Deak

The Owner's Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain by JoAnn Deak
My daughter is in 7th grade and they are currently studying the human body systems. This book is perfect for this age group! The drawings are cute and the information is written in an interesting way and is just right for the middle school/adolescent age group. I think this book should be in all middle school libraries.

Waking Up in Heaven: A True Story of Brokenness, Heaven, and Life Again by Crystal McVea

Waking Up in Heaven by Crystal McVea
This book is a memoir/testimony of a woman who tells her life story including how she was sexually abused as a child, went through a string of bad relationships resulting in two children born out of wedlock and one abortion, finally finding a good Christian husband, having premature twins and when the twins were 10 months old, her experience of dying in the hospital and coming back to life. She explains how when she was dead, she was in the presence of God and everything was good and how He told her to share her experience with others. Later, after sharing about her deathbed experience several times, she was invited to speak at a church where she felt that she should tell her entire life testimony about the abuse and how she now knows that God has always loved her. Many women who were also abused as children respond positively to her testimony. The book is well written and easy to read although I did find the first part a bit confusing because it skipped around chronologically so much going from when she was 5 years old, to when she was born, to when she was 4, then 3, then 5 again, then older.... I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Ennara and the Fallen Druid (Ennara, #1) by Angela Myron

Ennara and the Fallen Druid by Angela Myron
I received this book free to review from Netgalley. Normally I love children's books, but something about this one just was a bit off. I am not totally sure what it is really. For one thing, Ennara is only 10 years old, which is just a bit young for all that she does and says she feels. The characters did not seem very well developed and while the book is a fantasy - it is too far from reality to even be believable. I gave it a 3 star rating, but it really, for me is about two and a half stars.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Kombucha Revolution: 75 Recipes for Homemade Brews, Fixers, Elixirs, and Mixers by Stephen Lee, Ken Koopman

Kombucha Revolution by Stephen Lee
If you are interested in kombucha, this book is a very comprehensive resource for you. It explains what kombucha is and how to brew your own. The best types of equipment are given along with a wide variety of recipes. Some of the recipes are for brewing kombucha and others are for using kombucha in other foods like in salad dressings, smoothies, deserts and even in sourdough bread adn tea-brined eggs. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Eyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines by Paul Fleischman

Eyes Wide Open by Paul Fleischman
I think this book would be ok for students who are doing research. I don't think it is something that anyone would want to read all the way through though. This book claims to be a "briefing that will launch you on your own list." of things that you may want to do to save the earth. It's goal is to give students a foundation to base their decisions on. It covers a variety of environmental issues from energy types and peak oil to plastic bags, mass overconsumerism, gmos, pollution and the almighty dollar. Each page has lots of graphics - photos, charts, web links, quotes and drawings. To me, that was a bit overwhelming and distracting. I checked out some of the web links listed, and some of them work, but some do not. My husband and I found the tone of the book to be condescending and patronizing with lines like "Adolescence is dramatic and untidy; so are periods when societies change." I showed the book to several teenagers - my own children and some at the school where I teach, and they liked the look of the book with all the photos and graphics, but thought it looked too boring to read the whole thing. I received this book free to review from Netgalley in the kindle format, but I checked out the book in paper format from the library because the graphics did not work well on the kindle preview copy that I received.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Microbiome Diet: The Scientifically Proven Way to Restore Your Gut Health and Achieve Permanent Weight Loss by Raphael Kellman

The Microbiome Diet: The Scientifically Proven Way to Restore Your Gut Health and Achieve Permanent Weight Loss
This diet is expensive and impractical. The author defines the microbiome as the "miniature world made up of trillions of microscopic, nonhuman organisms that flourish within your intestinal tract." Nonhuman? Really? As opposed, I suppose, to the miniature world of trillions of microscopic human organisms flourishing in our intestines?
The author claims that a microbiome imbalance could cause a variety of problems including weight gain, digestive problems, immune system problems, depression, anxiety and foggy concentration.
His diet includes lots of supplements - a hugely expensive amount of supplements - and several recent studies have shown that many supplements don't even include the ingredients that they claim to, nor are there any studies that show that these supplements actually have any effect at all - along with a typical elimination diet at the beginning eliminating all processed foods, dairy, soy, gluten, eggs, HFCS, and other reactive foods. The recipes include a lot of expensive and/or difficult to find ingredients including Jerusalem artichoke (not regular artichokes which are easily found in stores), fennel (I am now growing some in my garden, but it is often quite expensive in stores), arugula (more expensive than regular lettuce), something called Lakanta (never heard of it or seen it in a store), goat or sheep dairy (I like it, but it is more expensive), and gluten free beer (I don't drink beer, but I am sure that is more expensive and hard to find than regular beer) among other things. I do not condone the SAD diet or eating junk food. I think a healthy diet rich in vegetables is important.
However,I think that this particular diet would be both expensive and difficult to follow due to the cost and negligible effect of the supplements and difficulty in finding some of the more exotic ingredients.

Blue Labyrinth (Pendergast, #14) by Douglas Preston

Blue Labyrinth by Douglas Preston

This is the 14th book in a series, and I have not read the others. I am sure that reading the other books first would fill in much needed background. Nevertheless, this is an excellent mystery/thriller and I enjoyed it without having read the others. Agent Pendergast is in for more than he expected when his son arrives at his door dead. As he is lured into the mystery, there is another murder at the Museum of Natural History. The search for answers leads Pendergast all over the world and Margot and Constance must help out as well. Action and adventure abound in this intriguing mystery. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

I Came From the Water: One Haitian Boy's Incredible Tale of Survival by Vanita Oelschlager, Mike Blanc

I Came From the Water by Vanita Oelschlager
Based on a true story, this is the tale of 8 year old Moses, who was found in the water in a basket after a flood in Haiti. He was raised in a Catholic orphanage and he tells about life in Haiti and the orphanage and how people can help the relief groups in Haiti. The illustrations are bright and colorful and lovely and part of the proceeds from the book go to the orphanage. It is a lovely book and I highly recommend it. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

How to Mulch: Save Water, Feed the Soil, and Suppress Weeds. A Storey Basics®Title by Stu Campbell, Ivan Cameron

How to Mulch by Stu Campbell
This is a simple, yet rather comprehensive book about how to mulch your gardens. I was pleasantly surprised by the wealth of information in this little book. It explains why to mulch, the various types of materials used to mulch, why mulches may sour or mold and what to do about it and how to mulch a variety of types of plants. I was impressed because it explains when to mulch certain plants for the best results and the best types of mulch for each plant. As a beginning gardener, I definitely found some very useful information in this book. I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I recommend it to other beginner gardeners.

The Earth Diet: Recipes to Live Your Healthiest Life by Liana Werner-Gray

The Earth Diet: Recipes to Live Your Healthiest Life

The author of this book does begin with a disclaimer explaining that she is not a health professional and that her claims in the book are unfounded, yet she includes a long list of conditions that have been helped by her diet. The book has a nice layout and pretty photos. It advocates an organic whole foods, plant based diet, but also includes some meat recipes for those who chose to eat meat - she recommends organic only. She recommends beginning each day by drinking lemon water, juicing daily, avoiding processed foods and gluten and thinking positively. The recipes are ok, but rather bland. Some of her suggestions are rather unhealthy like her suggestion for weight loss of eating "mono meals" one day a week - which would be lemon water at waking, beet juice for breakfast, bananas - all you can eat - for snack, watermelon - all you can eat until you feel full for lunch, grapes as a snack and raw cauliflower for dinner. The book also includes recipes for homemade toothpaste and other skin and body care products and suggestions for a healthy lifestyle. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Silence of Six by E.C. Myers

The Silence of Six by E.C. Myers
Wow. Just wow. Totally fabulous book. When Max's best friend Evan interrupts a presidential debate by hacking into it's live streaming video and killing himself, Max is thrust into the mystery. What is the silence of six and why did Evan kill himself over it? What does it have to do with the government? Once again, Evan must enter into the underworld of the hackers that he has previously tried to leave behind in order to solve the mystery left to him in a text that Evan sent to him right before his death. Can Max crack the code and discover what insidiousness is going on? I could not put this book down before finding out. I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I highly recommend it.

A Curse Awakened (Weird Girls #0.4) by Cecy Robson

A Curse Awakened by Cecy Robson

This novella is a prequel to the Weird Girls series, which I have not yet read and it explains how Celia and her sisters were cursed and received their supernatural powers. In this novella, they try to break the curse to free their powers and battle vampires to save the father of Celia's ex-boyfriend, Danny. The book is well-written with lots of action and humor. I think that anyone who is reading the series will enjoy this book. I found it intriguing enough that now I would like to read the series. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Holiday Hats for Babies: Caps, berets & beanies to knit for every occasion by Debby Ware

Holiday Hats for Babies: Caps, berets &  beanies to knit for every occasion
These hats are absolutely adorable! Photographed on equally adorable children, this collection includes incredibly creative and cute hats to knit for babies and children - including hats for various holidays and seasons. I have not knit any of these hats yet, but the instructions seem to be well written and clear and easy to follow. If you are looking for some cute and unique knit hat patterns for children, this is the book for you! I received this book free to review from Netgalley.                  

Transgender Lives: Complex Stories, Complex Voices by Kirstin Cronn-Mills

Transgender Lives by Kirstin Cronn-Mills
I think if you want to do research about the transgender types and areas of concern, this is a good book for that. It tells about gender fluidity around the world and throughout history and examines the legal, personal and medical issues involved with being transgender. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Yogic Cooking: Nutritious Vegetarian Food by Garuda Hellas

Yogic Cooking: Nutritious Vegetarian Food
This is an interesting book that shares principals of yogic cooking along with recipes. Most of the rules sound rather sensible and healthy, but some of them sound rather impractical like "never reheat food" and "serve as soon as you have finished cooking". The "basic recipe" which should be included with meals every day calls for black or white mustard seeds - and the only mustard seeds that I have found so far in grocery stores are yellow ones. If you are interested in cooking and eating according to yogic principals, I think you will find this book to be helpful. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Fireflies by Alice Hoffman

This is a beautifully illustrated short children's story about a boy who feels inept, but becomes a hero to his town. After being teased for not being able to skate, Jackie runs away and becomes lost. As he tries to find his way home, his bumbling actually helps him and helps him to help his town. The writing is lovely to read and Jackie's story is inspirational and appealing to readers of all ages.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Anomaly Schrodinger's Consortium #1 by Tonya Kuper

Anomaly by Tonya Kuper
YA. Paranormal. Romance. On her seventeenth birthday - because seventeen is the magic age for YA paranormal romances - Josie suddenly develops superpowers, the use of which gives her headaches, but she does not know what is going on. Enter Reid, incredibly cute guy whose job it is to train her to use her superpowers to be part of the Resistance against the evil Consortium in order to help save all of mankind. Her parents knew about it and were part of it, but of course they never told her. If you like YA paranormal romances then you will enjoy this book. It is well written and fast paced and will keep your interest. I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I look forward to reading the next one in the series.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Vines by Christopher Rice

The Vines by Christopher  Rice
This is a very fast paced horror story featuring man eating plants and insects set in Louisiana on a plantation. I found the pacing to be so fast that the characters did not have time to be fully developed. The story begins with Caitlin, but once she is gone, the focus shifts to Blake as the main character. It is then up to Blake, gay ex-best friend of Caitlin, along with Nova, a bitter young black woman whose father is the groundskeeper, to deal with the supernatural vines and insects. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.