Month: July 2012

Let’s Hear it for Almigal by Wendy Kupfer | Children’s Book Review

Posted July 10, 2012 by Jana in Blog Tour, Children's Book Review, Inner Child / 2 Comments

Title: Let’s Hear it for Almigal
Author: Wendy Kupfer
Illustrator: Tammie Lyon
Release Date: April 16, 2012
Publisher: Handfinger Press
Format: Kindle
Source: JKSCommunications/Netgalley
Buy it Here: Amazon (Used copies available Amazon Marketplace.) or Here for brand new copies from the book’s website.
Add It: Goodreads

This fun and original picture book introduces Almigal, a spunky little girl with hearing loss who is now determined to hear every single sound in the universe thanks to her new cotton candy pink cochlear implants. These sounds include a baby’s funny giggle, the robin’s chirps outside the window, the soft song played during ballet class, and especially her best friend Chloe’s teeny-tiny voice. But most of all, Almigal wants to hear her parents whisper to her when they tuck her into bed every night. Almigal’s spirit will have both children and parents alike rooting for her, while the story delivers a positive message about accepting and celebrating differences.

This book is pretty darling. From what I could tell, the illustrations are gorgeous. I read this on my Kindle, so all the illustrations were tiny and in grey and white, but I could see that the lines were soft, the images whimsical,  and from the cover, I can tell that the colors are vibrant and girly.

Let’s Hear it for Almigal does a great job at explaining that every person is different in their own way. Some speak Spanish, some have little voices, some wear glasses, some have twin sisters, and some are deaf like Almigal. Almigal embraces the fact that she is deaf, and needs hearing aides. She loves being different, and even changed her name from Ali to Almigal, because nobody else has that name. What a great heroine to look up to. Even at my age, I feel weird if I’m different. Embrace it! It’s empowering. Still, though, being different can make you sad sometimes. Almigal struggles with this, making her relatable for almost every child out there.

This book also teaches responsibility. Almigal’s cochlear implants are expensive, and she is taught that they must be taken care of. The same idea goes for children who get glasses for the first time.

Finally, it teaches children that being deaf is not a problem. In fact, it’s kind of cool because you get special little implements that help you hear. And they come in all different colors. Again, this goes for anything: glasses, braces, casts, wheelchairs, etc. Even though the book focuses on a deaf child, the example can be applied to any situation where a child is different.

I definitely enjoyed this story, and think it would be great for children who deal with deafness, whether it be with themselves, a family member, a friend, or a classmate. Moreover, it teaches children that being different is cool. And you know what? Sometimes we adults need to remember that, too. I can just see myself reading this book to a class of mine, and then listing out all the cool ways people are different. Some role-playing might even be fun.


Showcase Sunday (#1) – ALA, Birthday, & Review Books Edition

Posted July 8, 2012 by Jana in Uncategorized / 12 Comments

Showcase Sunday is hosted by Vicky at Books, Biscuits, and Tea. We get to showcase our newest books or book related swag and to see what everyone else received, borrowed, bought, and downloaded!

Hello! June was a HUGE book month for me, and I had absolutely no time to film a vlog until now! So, this SS encompasses all the books I received or bought at ALA, books I got from my friends and family for my birthday, and other books I was sent for review over the last month-month and a half. It’s kind of a lot… And I’m sorry, but I tried to film a vlog 3-4 times and decided today is just not my day! So, here is a picture. Below, I categorized what came from where. :)

Review books (ALA & in the mail):

What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Hidden by Sophie Jordan (Firelight #3)
Ten by Gretchen McNeil
Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff that Made Me Famous by Kathryn Williams
Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama
Miss Fortune Cookie by Lauren Bjorkman
The Raft by S.A. Bodeen
Prodigy by Marie Lu (Legend #2)
The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life by Tara Altebrando
What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton
Lucid by Adrienne Stoltz and Ron Bass
Over You by Emma McLaughlin
Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna
Auracle by Gina Rosati
Speechless by Hannah Harrington
Beautiful Lies by Jessica Warman
Breathe by Sarah Crossan
Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield
Starling by Lesley Livingston
A Vacation on the Island of Ex-Boyfriends by Stacy Bierlein
Through to You by Emily Hainsworth
The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer
Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr
The Pregnancy Project by Gaby Rodriguez
Witch World by Christopher Pike
The Diviners by Libba Bray
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Degrees of Wrong by Anna Scarlet
Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter (Goddess Test #2)
The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
Switched by Amanda Hocking
Legacy by Cayla Kluver

Signed books from ALA:

Origin by Jessica Khoury
Beta by Rachel Cohn (Beta #1)
Adaptation by Malinda Lo
Falling for You by Lisa Schroeder
Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone
Crewel by Gennifer Albin
Eve and Adam by Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant
Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally
The Summer of No Regrets by Katherine Grace Bond
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (Lunar Chronicles #2)
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi (Shatter Me #2)
The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
False Memory by Dan Krokos
Silver by Talia Vance
After Hello by Lisa Mangum
The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson (Fire and Thorns #2)
Who I Kissed by Janet Gurtler

Purchased books:

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (Signed at Fierce Reads Tour)
Cinder by Marissa Meyer (Signed at Fierce Reads Tour)
Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne (Signed at Fierce Reads Tour)
Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson (Signed at ALA)
In Honor by Jessi Kirby (Signed at ALA)
The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour
Quarantine: The Loners by Lex Thomas (Signed at ALA)
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Lani Taylor (Signed at ALA)
Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti (Signed at ALA)

Books I won:

Ditched: A Love Story by Robin Mellom – From Some Like it Paranormal
Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler (Signed) – From a Book and a Latte

Books I received as gifts:

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (Fire and Thorns #1) – From Daisy
The Chronicles of Narnia books 1-7 by C.S. Lewis (B&N Leatherbound) – From Kimberly

So, what did you get? Link me, and I’ll come visit!


Murder for Choir by Joelle Charbonneau (Review & Giveaway)

Posted July 5, 2012 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Book Review / 14 Comments

Murder for Choir by Joelle Charbonneau (Review & Giveaway)Muder for Choir by Joelle Charbonneau
Series: Glee Club #1
Published by Berkley on July 3, 2012
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher (Mail)
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3 Stars

Even as a struggling opera singer, Paige Marshall has never seen anything like the cutthroat competition of the Prospect Glen High School show choir. Coaching these championship-hungry students may be her toughest gig yet...

Especially when her best young male singer is suspected of killing the arrogant coach of Prospect Glen's fiercest rival. To clear his name, Paige will have to sort through a chorus of suspects, and go note-for-note with a killer who wants her out of the spotlight for good.

Welcome to today’s stop on the JKS Communications virtual book tour for Joelle Charbonneau’s newest book, Murder for Choir, a cozy mystery filled with singing, dancing, competition, and intrigue. I’m so glad you stopped by!

Seeing as how I was a show choir girl all through high school and college, I was incredibly excited to find a mystery novel that centered around such a fun time in my life. It was also nice to step away from the young adult books for a little while and read about people closer to my age. As always my main points are bolded. :)

1. I think the idea for this book was fun and unique. You can do a lot with a show choir, and there are a lot of story elements you can tackle. I’ve never watched the TV show Glee, but a blurb on the cover said, “Imagine if Stephanie Plum joined the cast of Glee…” I’ve also never read a Stephanie Plum novel! Haha. So, I can’t agree or disagree. Perhaps this will give you an idea, though, of what the book is like. :)

2. Paige Marshall is one of those characters that you want to either scream at or be best friends with. On the one hand, she’s always getting herself into trouble. She’s that heroine in the movies who walks out in the dark in her socks because she thinks she heard someone out there. You want to yell at her, “GET INSIDE, DUMMY!” I feel like she was lacking in basic, common sense. It got her in trouble. On the other hand, though, she’s sweet and is doing all of this to save a teenage boy who was accused of murder. She had good intentions, so I guess I can look past that. Haha. She’s also pretty funny.

3. Paige’s three co-workers: Devlyn (my favorite), Larry, and Felicia, were great characters. They were all very different from one another, with dynamic personalities, which was really nice. Sometimes supporting characters are boring and kind of mush together. I really liked them, though, except for officer Mike. I did not like him at all. Throughout the entire book he seemed aloof and unorganized. Plus, he seemed to be a total playboy. Paige’s Aunt Millie was a little over the top for me. She kind of reminds me of Richard’s mother in the TV show, Castle, if you’re familiar with that: tacky clothes, money, a Mark Kay pink Cadillac, and a pushy personality. Both women love their families, though, which is why I can let the tackiness slide and adore them both. And I must admit, Millie was hilarious. Her taxidermy pets and pink platform shoes were heartwarming.

4. The mystery was very intriguing, but not entirely realistic to me. Paige, a teacher, took the police investigation on herself and ended up getting into a lot of trouble. She should have been arrested so many times for interfering with a police investigation, but she never did. If you can look past the fact that this all would most likely never happen, and just enjoy the story for what it is you’ll be fine. :) I had to keep reminding myself of this throughout the book. I guess I watch too much CIS/NCIS/Castle/Blue Bloods. I just wasn’t buying it.

5. Regardless of my former point, I was kept guessing on who did it until about the last quarter of the book. I actually figured it out before Paige did, which made me really proud of myself! Usually the ending is a surprise to me.

6. Maybe I was just lucky, but my show choir experiences were not this cut throat and ruthless. Directors did not have to sleep with adjudicators in order to get higher scores or placements. Students did not wish someone dead or threaten people in the hopes of winning a competition or getting ahead. We all just liked each other and enjoyed the music we made together. So to me, this also felt unrealistic. But the author is a major musician and performer, so maybe she saw this kind of thing happen in her choral experiences. I was just surprised. Haha.

Overall, this is a fun little mystery. I enjoyed the characters and the basic plot line. Joelle is a great storyteller, and I enjoyed her writing style. While I found things to be a little unrealistic, once I looked past that and just focused on the story I began to enjoy it more. Was it my favorite book? No. But I would recommend it to people who love mysteries, a little romance, a little suspense, and choral singing.

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Head on over to the other stops on this tour for more reviews, author interviews and guest posts, and more giveaways!

3 Stars

Happy 4th of July!

Posted July 4, 2012 by Jana in Personal / 4 Comments

 

To all my readers from the USA, happy 4th! I really love the 4th of July because of what it represents: our freedom. I’m free to worship the way I want, read what I want, and voice my opinions. I live in an awesome country.

I’m going to a Beach Boys concert tonight, followed by a spectacular fireworks display, which I can’t wait for. I’m also going to have a delish dinner from one of the best local Mexican grills. It’s going to be a wonderful day, and I hope yours will be too. Be safe in all your activities, and eat lots of food! Oh, and don’t burn your state down. We’ve been hit by a lot of fires over here in the West lately, so please be careful!(

So, what are you doing today? :)


The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen (Book Review)

Posted July 2, 2012 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 8 Comments

The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen (Book Review)The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen
Published by Speak on February 16, 2012
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 380
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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5 Stars

Pretty in Pink meets Anna and the French Kiss in this charming romantic comedy

Ella is nearly invisible at the Willing School, and that's just fine by her. She's got her friends - the fabulous Frankie and their sweet cohort Sadie. She's got her art - and her idol, the unappreciated 19th-century painter Edward Willing. Still, it's hard being a nobody and having a crush on the biggest somebody in the school: Alex Bainbridge. Especially when he is your French tutor, and lessons have started becoming, well, certainly more interesting than French ever has been before. But can the invisible girl actually end up with a happily ever after with the golden boy, when no one even knows they're dating? And is Ella going to dare to be that girl?

Here we have another cute contemporary romance, and it was just what I needed for a summery day spent reading on my cruise ship’s balcony. Oh, and I was sick. Who else loves reading cute love stories when you’re sick? They are like comfort food. :) Really, all I feel like I can say is that it was adorable! Sometimes I get so swept into a story that I forget I have to review it. Haha. That’s kind of what happened here. So, this review will most likely be short and sweet, just like the book itself! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I went into this book expecting “Pretty in Pink meets Anna and the French Kiss” since, well, that’s what the book said it was. While I certainly would not measure this book up to Anna (because it falls short in comparison), it was a sweet read that I’m glad I took the chance on.

2. I really enjoyed the wacky humor. Ella has this crush on Edward Willing, a painter from the 19th century. Obviously he’s no longer living, but she has a bust of him that she talks to about her life and inner thoughts. And he talks back and gives advice. I found that to be rather weird at first, but the idea kind of grew on me. I ended up enjoying their conversations. Ella also has this hilarious Italian family who all work at their Italian restaurant together. Their conversations and loud personalities kind of reminded me of the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

3. Ella is really easy to relate to. She’s got all the normal traits of a high school girl: a meddling family, a few best friends, a crush she is sure will never ever like her back, and some insecurities (especially regarding some severe scars leftover from a boating accident when she was younger). At the same time, though, she shines and gains the attention of that certain unattainable guy.

4. I love Ella’s two best friends, Frankie and Sadie, who go to Willing School with her. They are the misfits of their class, and have bonded together. Frankie is gay, Sadie is rich but has low self esteem, and Ella is there on scholarship. Clearly, they don’t fit in among the elite students (phillites) that surround them. Together, they help instil confidence in Ella, and help her grow as a person. Frankie is extremely flamboyant and confident, always bouncing around and voicing his opinion. Every girl needs a guy like Frankie in her life.

5. Alex is such a sweetie. He’s appointed Ella’s math tutor, and even though he’s a phillite, he is so sweet and caring towards her. They form this really cute relationship. There was no insta-love, just a simple, sweet teenage love story. They have a very real connection.

In short, I loved this book. It was cute, sweet, and light, but at the same time it touched on some of the deeper issues that teenagers face like self worth, body image, and feelings of inadequacy. I enjoyed everything about it, and would definitely recommend it to people who enjoy contemporary YA.

5 Stars