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review 2018-07-01 16:22
Pirate Penguin vs Ninja Chicken Volume 1: Troublems With Frenemies - Ray Friesen
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

With characters like a sword-wielding penguin and a chicken with ninja powers, I figured this would be a funny and entertaining read. I was wrong. The book is broken down into tiny comics that are usually about one page spread long. They are nice bite-size little comics, but I think sometimes the length works against them. Many don't really feel like stories. They just read like random tidbits, which they pretty much are.

There are some funny moments, but nothing side-splitting. I had a few mental giggles, but I never actually outwardly smiled while reading this. 

Kind of dull and very random. For the most part these comics were just boring and/or confusing. Interesting characters, but I just could not get into any of their "adventures". 
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review 2018-06-17 09:35
Elizabeth and Her German Garden
Elizabeth and Her German Garden (The Penguin English Library) - Elizabeth von Arnim

I loved this - I think I first heard about it from a mention by Themis-Athena, but had to await its publication here before reading it.  It's a slim tome, but packed; at 104 pages, what I originally thought would be a fast read instead took me a couple of days, despite my being absorbed in it.

 

Mostly, it's a celebration of gardens, the outdoors, and nature, as written by one new to all of it.  But buried in the narrative, structured loosely like a diary, are moments of scathing wit, social commentary, and on the part of her husband, not a little misogyny.  Elizabeth and her German Garden was originally published in 1898 and though its language is of the time, Elizabeth is refreshingly modern.  Her thoughts, attitude, and personality are in almost all ways indistinguishable from the average 21st century woman's voice.  I loved her and her scathing, dry wit.

 

My only complaint about the book is it was slightly too short.  After lamenting two years of summer droughts that kept her in suspense of her garden's potential, the book ends at the very start of April and spring; I desperately want to know if she finally got to see her garden in all its glory!  Did the yellow border work out?  Enquiring minds are left hanging!

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review 2018-06-14 20:53
Review: Undead Girl Gang
Undead Girl Gang - Lily Anderson

Review: Undead Girl Gang

 

I received a copy from Penguin's First To Read.

 

This. Book. Was. Awesome. 

 

I absolutely loved it, from start to finish. I loved it so much I bought a finished hard back. There are some books you know from the tone of the first page if you're going to love them and the main character, and for me, this was one of those books. 

 

I felt a connection with Milla right away. I loved her don't give a fuck snarky tone. She's clearly grieving, the book opens with her best friend Riley's funeral. She has quite an interesting perspective on the funeral itself, a bunch of people from their school wailing and crying who would never have given Riley the time of day. Riley died in mysterious circumstances. The third death to happen to students from their class recently. Two of the schools most popular mean girls June and Dayton were also found deceased recently in what looked like a suicide pact. 

 

Neither Riley nor Milla fit in with the other students, they were heavily into Wicca, spending all their time at the local new-age magic shop or an abandoned house they found where they practice their spells and hang out. Riley's family own the local funeral home and Riley found herself a outcast, she and Milla connected and became best friends and have been for years. Though she'll never admit it Milla has an epic crush on Riley's hot, popular older brother Xander.

 

He's actually talking to her after the funeral. Milla is struggling with school, mandated meetings with the school shrink, and certain people (namely her chem lab partner) being a dick about her weight. She has two annoying younger sisters who don't seem to get 'personal space' and is generally miserable.

 

It's well written and believable without being over the top with the goth Wicca scene. The characters are well fleshed out as well. Milla's voice, despite her attitude problems, is easy to connect with. Her family drama, her school problems, it's not surprising she's not coping as well as she's saying she is. It's a sort of read between the lines thing. 

 

So she decides she's going to perform a spell to bring Riley back from the dead, find out what happened so she can bring the person who killed Riley to justice. It's not a simple basic spell, there are things she needs to get, certain times it can be performed. Kinda complicated. The method she received the volume of spells in which the actual spell to cast came to her is a little spooky. 

 

And of course when she heads to the magic shop with the  book, the lady who runs the shop tells her its a very old book and a dangerous one. Naturally of course, she doesn't listen to a word of warning. Hardly surprising then, when the spell works it not only brings back Riley, but June and Dayton too.

 

No one knows how it happened and it's not so much fun anymore with the two mean girls back again. They're all still dead, and discover some less than pleasant things about being a sort of zombie as they go along. No one remembers what happened before they died. The book from then on focuses on figuring out what happened to June, Dayton and Riley.

 

Some secrets come out as the novel progresses. And it has moments where it's very entertaining and quite funny as well. Though it has it's fair share of deep emotions and a few surprising twists to boost. Hints at something that could finally start to progress between Milla and Xander when they start developing a friendship of their own. 

 

One thing I did like was there wasn't really much romance involved. Hints and teasers, but it was more about the friendship with Milla and Riley and dealing with June and Dayton than about hooking up with the hot boy. 

 

A few more twists by the end when things start going wrong. Though when the truth is finally revealed, it's one of those why didn't I see this coming thing? It was quite clever. A tad over dramatic, maybe. Also, a standalone. Everything wrapped up decently and there wasn't any well what happened about so and so and no unanswered questions. 

 

I loved this book through and through and would definitely read it over and over.

 

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text 2018-06-10 21:42
Reading progress update: I've read 13%.
The Penguin Pool Murder - Stuart Palmer

I know I'm supposed to be finishing my library books so I can get to Homicide Sanitarium, but Kobo is having a sale that had some interesting old mysteries, so I'm trying to figure out if I'd actually want to read more from the series in question.

 

But I'm also sleepy. So very sleepy.

 

So far it's cute though. A 1930s schoolteacher is supposed to get involved in a murder investigation after she discovers a body when on a fieldtrip with her class. She can be amusingly forceful. A couple excerpts:

 

"Who was the first person to see the body?”
Miss Withers stepped forward. “I was. Go ahead, young man.”
It nettled Piper to be called a young man by a woman who could not have been any older than he was.

and

“Okay, then. Your full name?”
“Hildegarde Martha Withers.”
“Address?”
“One-eleven West Seventy-sixth Street. I share an apartment there with two other teachers.”
“Occupation?”
“At present, answering foolish questions. Young man, I told you I was a teacher.”

That last line (At present, answering foolish questions) makes me giggle.

 

 

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review 2018-06-03 17:14
Reading with Patrick: A Teacher, a Student, and a Life-Changing Friendship by Michelle Kuo
Reading with Patrick - Michelle Kuo

A special thank you to Penguin Random House First to Read for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Michelle Kuo is a recent Harvard graduate that finds herself in a rural town in Arkansas as a Teach for America volunteer.  Wanting to make a difference in her students' lives, she is full of optimism but soon discovers how broken the system is.  Kuo tries a different tactic—she  uses quiet reading time and guided writing exercises as a way to instil a sense of self in her students.

Throughout her tenure, Kuo loses students for various reasons.  Some are as simple as truancy and others are harsh and stem from violence.  She also is inspired by some, and one of those students is Patrick who is fifteen and is still in grade eight.  Under Miss Kuo's attention, he flourishes.  However, Michelle is feeling incredible pressure from her Taiwanese immigrant parents to pursue other opportunities and ultimately leaves Arkansas after a couple of years to attend law school.

On the eve of her graduation, Michelle learns that Patrick has been incarcerated for murder.  Murder?  Patrick?  Kuo has incredible guilt and thinks that she is partly responsible because she prematurely left the school.  Determined to right the situation as best she can, Michelle returns to teaching Patrick from his jail cell while he awaits trial.  It is here that we get a sense of both of their characters.  Michelle doesn't waiver in her dedication, even when it appears as though Patrick has forgotten most of what she taught him.

In this moving and inspiring memoir of a teacher that didn't give up on her student, Patrick, Kuo shares the story of her mentorship of Patrick Browning and his incredible journey of self-discovery through literature and writing.  Kuo is also taken on her own journey as she is forced to navigate through several broken systems, racism, social standing, privilege, and relationships.

Friendship can come unexpectedly sometimes, and you never know your impact on someone else's life.  I highly recommend this wonderful story.  

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