Saturday, September 20, 2014

Rewind Review: A Trick of the Light by Lois Metzger

I reviewed A Trick of the Light by Lois Metzger last June, and I'm happy to announce that it was on the ALA's Best Fiction for Young Adults and Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year lists. Now, you can order your copy of the paperback, which is officially released on September 23rd!

The new edition will also include a section in the back titled "10 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Eating Disorders." Many people think of eating disorders as a women's disease, but it's not. Many boys (and men) suffer from these disorders and A Trick of the Light is a great book that reflects this.

To help renew enthusiasm for the paperback release, I wanted to re-post my review below for those that haven't already read it! You can visit the old link to also see an interview I did with Lois about the novel.

Official Summary: Mike Welles had everything under control. But that was before. Now things are rough at home, and they’re getting confusing at school. He’s losing his sense of direction, and he feels like he’s a mess.

Then there’s a voice in his head. A friend, who’s trying to help him get control again. More than that—the voice can guide him to become faster and stronger than he was before, to rid his life of everything that’s holding him back. To figure out who he is again. If only Mike will listen.

Review: I was fascinated by the summary for A Trick of the Light because you don't get many novels (for any age level) that touch on boys with eating disorders. Most people tend to focus on girls, as they are the most affected. That doesn't mean boys are exempt though and I applaud Metzger for realistically portraying anorexia in teen Mike Welles.

Something I loved about the novel was the point of view. The eating disorder has a voice and they are the one who tells the story. It's not a stretch to think of anorexia or bulimia having a voice. It's all the negative thoughts you have about yourself and your body. This voice tells you to eat less, puke up what you did eat, and keep working out until your body is perfect. Of course, by that point, you're so sick, it's hard to reach a healthy weight and viewpoint again.

In A Trick of the Light, Mike is dealing with parents who can't seem to keep their own lives together. While they are too busy with their troubles to notice him, he makes a friend that pushes his own already declining behavior to the edge. He now has a guide to help him eat less and keep it hidden, as well as the voice in his head that gives him non-stop motivation to do what needs to be done.

It's a scary thought to imagine having a voice in your head that is constantly putting you down, or raising you up with unhealthy goals of being perfect. Reading the book in the voices' point of view gives you a more personal account of what this eating disorder is doing to Mike. It was definitely a smart move on Metzger's part to allow this disease to take the reigns in the story, just as it does on a daily basis for those personally battling an eating disorder.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The To Be Read and Seven Deadly Sins Tags

This tag was created by Rachel @ A Perfection Called Books and Dana from Dana Square and I was tagged by Montana from The Book Belles.

How do you keep track of your TBR pile?
Honestly, most of my TBR books are simply in my room or somewhere else around my house. I try not to accept too many review books anymore, so a lot of my TBR pile is the tons of books I just need to get around to reading. 
Is your TBR mostly print or e-book?
I have an e-reader with some books I need to read, but most of my TBR is definitely in print.

How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?
It tends to come down to whatever I'm most interested in. Sometimes I just really want to finally read something, while other times I pick a book based on how quick I think it will be. Without too many review books, it's a bit easier to just pick and choose. 
A Book That's Been On Your TBR List The Longest
Since I don't have a huge TBR list online, I don't know what book I've had for the longest amount of time without reading. I can say that one book I hope to read soon that I've had for what seems like forever is Holly's Inbox by Holly Denham (it's fiction, by the way).

A Book You Recently Added To Your TBR
The most recent book I bought and just recently finished reading was Isla and the Happily Ever After. However, I just picked up Horns by Joe Hill from the library and hope to read that soon.

A Book In Your TBR Strictly Because of Its Beautiful Cover
I tend to count my TBR as items I've bought and still need to read, so I don't usually buy a book JUST because of it's cover.
A Book On Your TBR That You Never Plan on Reading
Again, I do hope to read all the books I currently own. I know I probably won't as I do have a lot, and I weed them here and there. I can't currently think of something I'll weed though.

An Unpublished Book on Your TBR That You're Excited For
I'm really curious about The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma. It comes out in March of 2015.

A Book On Your TBR That Basically Everyone's Read But You
Probably things like The Fifth Wave and Eleanor and Park. I own both of these and I do want to read them. I just haven't found the time yet!

A Book On Your TBR That Everyone Recommends To You
I can't really think of anything! I don't personally get recommended a lot of novels.

A Book On Your TBR That You're Dying To Read
Again, out of the books I own, I really want to read Eleanor and Park and the first Sandman graphic novel ASAP.

How many books are on your Goodreads TBR shelf?
I have 16 on my TBR shelf on Goodreads; I don't use it a ton! 

I've also been tagged to do the Seven Deadly Sins Questionnaire Tag (created by BookishlyMalyza) by Aylee from Recovering Potter Addict.
GREED What is your most inexpensive book? What is your least expensive book?
Oh, I don't think I have a most expensive book to be honest. I mean, I don't have a special edition of anything. My least expensive books are things I bought from book sales and the like, so a dollar or less each.

WRATH—What author do you have a love/hate relationship with?
Can I say Stephen Chbosky? I love The Perks of Being a Wallflower but it's the only novel he's written! I love him, but come on! I need more! 

GLUTTONY—What book have you deliciously devoured over and over with no shame whatsoever?
Definitely The Perks of Being a Wallflower (I used to read it once a year) and the Harry Potter series! You had to re-read those things when waiting for a new addition. 

SLOTH—What book have you neglected reading due to laziness?
I really like Shakespeare, but I love reading them in a class setting. Therefore, Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare would go under this setting. I really want to read it but sometimes I'm lazy with these type of books because I know it will be a slower read.

PRIDE—What book do you most talk about in order to sound like a very intellectual reader?
I don't really discuss novels all that much outside of school. I guess I would say any Shakespeare play, because I do like Shakespeare and some people think that makes you sound smart. 

LUST—What attributes do you find most attractive in male or female characters?
I really like sweet guys who are a bit dorky or into music. So many people love the bad boy, but I don't find that as attractive. As for girls, it depends on the novel. Sometimes I like the dorky girl, sometimes it's the sarcastic/funny one, and other times it's the tough one who knows what she wants. 
ENVY—What books would you most like to receive as a gift? 
I would really like all the Harry Potter books with the new U.S. covers. I just really love how the books match up in the back. A whole set is about $70, which isn't too bad considering it's basically $10 a book, but it's still pricey for me. If anyone wants to gift me it though, I'd totally accept!! 
Tag, you're it!
I never know who to tag when these things come up because I know some blogs don't do them. Therefore, please do this if you're interested and let me know in the comments so I can come read your answers!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Novel Adaptation: Broadchurch by Erin Kelly

Broadchurch: Based on the Story by Series Creator Chris Chibnall by Erin Kelly

Review by Lauren

Releases Tomorrow!

Source: copy from netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: In the sleepy British seaside town of Broadchurch, Detective Ellie Miller has just returned from vacation, only to learn that she’s been passed over for a promotion at work in favor of outsider Alec Hardy. He, escaping the spectacular failure of his last case, is having trouble finding his way into this tight-knit community wary of new faces. But professional rivalry aside, both detectives are about to receive some terrible news: 11-year-old Danny Latimer has been found murdered on the beach.

For Ellie it's a personal blow; Danny was her older son’s best friend. She can’t believe anyone in Broadchurch would ever have harmed him. But Alec considers everyone, even Danny’s parents, suspect in his death. It’s a living nightmare for everyone involved…even before the press arrive and start stirring up the secrets every town member keeps hidden behind closed doors.

Review: Last year, Broadchurch was available in the U.K. and on BBC America as a miniseries starring David Tennant as Alec Hardy and Olivia Colman as Ellie Miller. There was one central mystery that spanned the entire series, which was the death of eleven year old Danny Latimer. In a small town like Broadchurch, his mysterious death has upset a lot of people, but it also opens up many secrets in the search for the truth.

If you've seen the show, then you'll know the book. However, if you have yet to watch Broadchurch, then you might enjoy reading the book even more. I found my time reading about Broadchurch to be both fascinating, yet a little boring in the beginning. I knew the show and this book is a very accurate adaptation of that so it felt kind of repetitive. At the same time, books always allow for a bit more detail and depth, so it was nice to feel like you were getting to know some of these characters better. As the story progressed, I found myself very much invested in reaching the end, even though I knew how it would all turn out.

Overall, I am happy to have been given the chance to read this book adaptation. I think knowing the end might ruin things for some, but if you're like me, I think the book will really start to pick up as you continue reading and you'll find it doesn't truly matter what you already knew. Also, the book focuses on a variety of perspectives (all third-person), which again, allows you to get a bit closer than the show does in terms of their specific stories and point of views.

Main Cast of Characters (left to right if more than one person in photo)-

Ellie Miller, wife and mom of two. Alec Hardy, lead detective. He suffers from an illness throughout the story and is plagued by a lot of guilt because of an old case.

Chloe Latimer, Danny's older sister. Mark and Beth Latimer- Danny's parents, who both hide secrets. Finally, you have Danny's grandmother.

Tom Miller, Danny's best friend. Joe Miller, husband of Ellie and dad of Tom and Fred. Then you have Ellie again, who is holding her youngest son, Fred.

Nige Carter, who works with Mark Latimer. Susan Wright, a mysterious woman who hides more than one secret.

Rev. Paul Coates, who tries to bring the town together after the death of Danny, whether they are religious or not.

There you go - some of the main characters in the book and miniseries. There are some others, but I didn't want to go on and on. Basically, give the book a shot if you're interested, especially if you would like to read it before seeing the BBC miniseries. For those in the U.S., Fox has created an American version called Gracepoint, which will also be a ten episode miniseries and stars David Tennant with an American accent. Gracepoint airs Thursday, October 2. As for the BBC series, Broadchurch, Tennant will be back for a second season in the future!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Swapoween: All Things Halloween Swap!

You all know how I love a good swap, and while I thought about taking a break before doing another one, I just couldn't by-pass this one. I love Halloween, so I knew I had to take part in Swapoween where you send another blogger all sorts of Halloween themed goodies!! You can sign up now at Chaotic Goddess Swaps.

 Important Dates to Remember

  • Sign-Ups Close on September 15th, 2014
  • Partners Assigned on September 17th, 2014
  • Packages Ship by October 10th and October 11th, 2014
  • Swap Show-Off Post/Linky goes life on October 15th!

    Are you going to take part?

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth

The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth by Ian Lendler and Zack Giallongo

Review by Lauren

Source: review copy; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: The Stratford Zoo looks like a normal zoo... until the gates shut at night. That's when the animals come out of their cages to stage elaborate performances of Shakespeare's greatest works. They might not be the most accomplished thespians, but they've got what counts: heart. Also fangs, feathers, scales, and tails, in The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth.

Review:  This is such a fun graphic novel! I know I didn't start reading Shakespeare until I was in high school, so this is a fun way to introduce a younger crowd to the Bard's work, though definitely in a different format. Not only is this book a graphic novel, but the play is being performed within its pages by a group of animals at the zoo. Every night, when all the humans have gone home, the animals gather together to act out Shakespeare. This book is all about Macbeth, of course, though the book hints that Romeo and Juliet will be next.

If you know the play Macbeth, you're probably aware that it's a bit dark and bloody. However, this book makes it more kid friendly by including animals as the performers. For example, Lady Macbeth becomes obsessed with the spot after the king is killed (or eaten, in this case) but instead of being all about the blood  (though she does have blood on her hand at first), it becomes a bit more comedic since Lady Macbeth is a leopard, and therefore, covered in spots.

There is another aspect of the book that I was unsure how they would cover in a kid-friendly adaptation, bu they did a great job. If you know the play, you might remember the whole "not born from a mother" line the witches give Macbeth. If not, you'll learn what I mean when you read this graphic novel.

I would suggest this graphic novel for a slightly older child, as amazon states it's good for grades 2-5 and it would definitely be more interesting for someone who can read on their own.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Sept. Subscriptions: Geeky Boxes

Welcome to the first Subscription Box post of September. When I asked what you all wanted to see last week, the most specific answer was "geeky" so I decided to go ahead and showcase some options that fall under that label. None of these are things I have personally received for review. However, I'll share what I think regardless! If you know any of these, feel free to share your experience too.

Loot Crate- $13.37 a month + s/h

Loot Crate is great for fans of all things geeky as well as gaming. I'm not a gamer, but I'm still super curious about subscribing to this because they have really cool items PLUS I know some gamers that might enjoy some of the items I can't personally use. Loot Crate is awesome because they share past crates so you can see what items were included in previous months. Sure, your box will be a surprise, but you'll know the theme (September is Galactic) and you'll know what they could include. Loot Crate ships to a variety of countries including Great Britain, Canada, and more.

Nerd Block - either 13.99 or 19.99 a month + s/h (you choose the box's theme)

Nerd Block offers a lot of choice for what you want to receive when subscribing to these toy subscription boxes. There is the Classic Box, Nerd Block Jr. boys and Nerd Block Jr. girls (items for nerds aged 6 to 11), Arcade Block (all about video games), and Horror Block. The Jr boxes are $13.99 and all the other boxes are $19.99. If my niece and nephew were older, I would totally think about these boxes for them! Visit this link to see the countries Nerd Block ships to!

My Geek Box-  £16.99 (includes postage) when you subscribe

My Geek Box is from the U.K., but I came across a blog that says they now ship to the U.S. for a reasonable shipping fee. I'm afraid I don't know the amount as it's not stated on the website without signing up. However, if you're in the U.K, you can get your boxes every month with FREE POSTAGE! The price includes shipping, which I think is awesome. Each month the theme is different, so you're going to get all sorts of fun geeky items. Visit this link to see some past themes.

Geek Me Box - $29.99 (shipping included)

Geek Me Box costs almost $30 a month, but that also includes shipping. However, they are only shipping to the U.S. and Canada (I assume shipping is included for Canada too, but I can't say for sure, as it's not stated in the FAQ section). They used to have set themes every month, but they stopped that in August because they want a variety of items that more people will enjoy every month. Also, you get 5-8 items in each box! I like that they aren't doing themes (even though I DO love themes) because more people are likely to find something they enjoy in each box.

My Geeky Goodies- $22.99 to $24.99 a month, with FREE SHIPPING (in the U.S.)

My Geeky Goodies is probably the newest geek-themed subscription box as its first box came out last month! The prices are pretty good for the U.S, and I love that it includes free shipping. My Geeky Goodies offers Canadian and International Subscriptions as well, but the cost is different (free shipping is included in all subscriptions though!) I'll be curious to see what items are included in future boxes to truly have an opinion, but so far, I think it's a nice subscription!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Julia's House for Lost Creatures and The Zoo Box

Julia's House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke

Review by Lauren

Source: review copy; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: When Julia and her walking house come to town, she likes everything about her new neighborhood except how quiet it is! So Julia puts a sign up: "Julia's House for Lost Creatures." Soon she's hosting goblins, mermaids, fairies, and even a dragon. Quiet isn't a problem anymore for Julia...but getting her housemates to behave themselves is!

Review: I decided to review both of these picture books at the same time, as they are both from the label First Second books (known mainly for their graphic novels). Julia's House of Lost Creatures is a cute little story about a young girl named Julia who lives in a house all by herself, yet hates how quiet it can be. Therefore, she puts up a sign to welcome lost creatures to come and stay with her.

Of course, they start to show up and begin to make a nuisance of themselves, so Julia decides to hand out jobs for everyone to do. This allows the house to run more smoothly and everyone is happy.

I like how the book could be used as a tool for getting children to do chores, as the book shows how a house works better when everyone helps each other out. The illustrations are a bit muted, more like colored pencils than paint. I think it worked well though. It kept the book from looking too much like a cartoon or overdone.

The Zoo Box by Ariel Cohn and Aron Nels Steinke

Review by Lauren

Source: review copy; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: When Erika and Patrick's parents leave them home alone for the night, they head straight to the attic to explore. When they open a mysterious box, hundreds of animals come pouring out! Soon the town is awash in more and more zoo animals, until Erika and Patrick discover that the tables have been turned... and the animals now run a zoo full of humans!

Review: The Zoo Box's look is completely different from Julia's House of Lost Creatures. Everything is bold and bright, and the drawings definitely resemble a children's cartoon. I think it works overall for this type of story though, since the book is all about real life animals coming out of a box and Erika and Patrick finding themselves in a world where humans are in the zoo and the animals are the ones going to watch them. It's fun and fantastical, and I think the illustrations work well for that.

One aspect of the book I was a bit confused on was how the kids were left home alone. The parents are out for the night, which is how the kids find the box in the attic. Their ages aren't mentioned, but as the daughter is obviously the older child, it seemed strange that she would be old enough to babysit but young enough to wear animal costumes and play with her little brother. It's a not a huge deal, and most younger kids probably wouldn't even think about it, but I figured I'd share nonetheless! I know Julia in Julia's House of Creatures lives alone, but that story reads more like a fairytale than this one, which has more of a real life feel.

Anyway, the overall story is cute, but simple. It does leave the kids a bit nervous to visit the actual zoo at the end of the book though, so if you're kids are afraid of animals or the zoo, this would definitely not be a good book for them. Other than that, I think children would find it amusing, especially before a trip to a zoo where they can see the real animals close up.

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