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review 2016-06-06 18:13
Armstrong: A Mouse on the Moon
Armstrong: A Mouse on the Moon - Torben Kuhlmann

**An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

Full review to come closer to publication.

Very cute story, and a bit longer than your average picture book. And the ART is amazing. Definitely picking this up once published for myself the nephew.

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review 2016-06-02 18:11
Fever At Dawn
Fever at Dawn - Gárdos Péter,Elizabeth Szász

**A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**

This being based off a incredible true story, I feel pretty bad criticizing it. But it has to be done. And then there are bits of the story that personally disappointed me; things which, for the most part, have nothing to do with the writing. So all the super-subjective thoughts are at the end of the review, but first...

This is a translated book, which is awesome. Media from other countries made readily available and understood for us English speaking peoples. However, I feel like maybe a lot was lost in translation. This is a hopeful story, yes, but hope amid disease and death and darkness. This is a love story, but love amid hatred and war. And even when these horrifying elements are at the forefront, I did not see them as such. The idea and the words are there, but there was a gravity missing to it all. Similarly, though this is a love story, I did not get a good sense of love between Lili and Miklos, and it was not as hopeful and inspiring as it should have been, giving the true story. I felt nothing.

Additionally, though there are quotes from Lili and Miklos' letters strewn throughout, most of the story is prose. While it worked for some parts of the book, I think maybe just their letters or, at the very least, more of them would have been better, due to that we are told Lili and Miklos wrote often to each other, and grew to love one another through their letters, but we don't actually get to see much of that.

Also, the book is written from the POV of Lili and Miklos' son, who is, of course, the author of the book. While it could have been a nice touch, it didn't come across as very personal and usually came across as jarring, as you would be in Miklos' head and then Miklos would be referred to as "my father", and it always made me do a double-take.

Now for the subjective thoughts...

One of Miklos' friends, while a good friend, was pretty constantly chock of innuendos. Miklos was a die-hard socialist, which was just hard to hear promoted so valiantly and zealously. Though probably not aware of how serious it was, Lili received the Eucharist as a non-Catholic, but still intended to convert. Miklos claims to be very serious about conversion to the Catholic Church, but really seems to be just serious about Lili. He proposes a less binding oath to the Church, in which they would be bound to the Church, but the Church not to them?? I've never personally heard of such a thing, but that doesn't mean anything. More research needed on that bit. I guess regarding the religious stuff, there was enough mentioned about their religious beliefs and desires to make it a pretty big deal, but not a lot of follow-through. I wanted to know if Lili and Miklos ever converted and became practicing Catholics. Did Miklos ever really wish to be Catholic at any point in his life, or was it all for Lili?

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review 2016-05-31 18:20
Baker's Magic
Baker's Magic - Diane Zahler Baker's Magic - Diane Zahler

**An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**

Don't bake angry!

Whatever mood Bee is in when she bakes is the same mood whoever eats her baked goods will be in. This magic can be useful, but sometimes pretty rough, especially when Bee bakes in a bad mood, and before they figure out that's the cause of the unusually ill-tempered customers. But Bee also is a pretty rad baker, and soon the royal palace wants Bee's baked good delivered to the palace, where she discovers a rather nasty arranged marriage in the making and dastardly plots ruinous to the country. She befriends the Princess Anika and helps her to escape so they can go inform the Mage Council of the unsavory goings-on in Zeewal. Along the way, they encounter a friendly gang of roving tulip pirates, father figures, and tree spirits. Oh, and Anika has a pet hedgehog, so that's cool.

I was so very pleased that Wil had a sort-of romance with Anika and NOT with Bee. #blessed

Overall, it was okay and there were some elements that I very much enjoyed, but it didn't bridge the gap for older readers as well as some MG books manage to, so that I would probably only recommend it for the intended audience.

I also got my hands on a hard-copy, so props to Capstone for their quality of publishing - the pages were thick and the binding was strong and tight.

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review 2016-05-30 07:08
Sleeping Giants
Sleeping Giants - Sylvain Neuvel

**An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**

Oh, and I also won an ARC copy of this through Goodreads Firstreads!! So pretty.

2.5 stars.

I less liked this book than I was intrigued. And even at the end (whaaaaaaaaaaaaat?), I'm only really going to be reading Book 2 because I kinda NEED to know what's going on.


The Writing

So the book is told through a series of interviews and takes place over a number of years. Books from this POV can be really rough, but it worked in this case. Probably even more so because most of the characters know as little as the reader does. So at least you aren't alone.

The Characters

I didn't connect with any of them, so weirdly plot is the only reason I'm keeping with this series. I can't tell you if I didn't connect due only to the characters themselves or if the interview style of writing contributed in any way.

I liked Rose the best of the bunch, but she died too quickly to really make it devastating for me. Ryan was pretty annoying, but he was actually chill in the last half. I felt sorry for Vincent and I liked him well enough, but Kara also annoyed me. BUT the Interviewer, whoever he is, at once made me hate him and like him and I'm just so conflicted?? He's so clever and mysterious and SUCH AN A-HOLE. I just really want to know who he is, where he came from, what he knows, who he works for, etc. Oh, and Mr. Burns was legit, though I have so many questions about him as well.

I thought the romance aspect of this, though it was definitely put on the back-burner, was hecka frustrating and really just didn't need to be in here. I guess maybe it was supposed to put a little more of a personal side to the story, but really it didn't help anything and I just want to know about the alien robots, okay?

THE PLOT

Haha, I don't actually understand it at all, because every time I thought we'd figured something out, then we'd find something else contradictory to what I thought we knew. So I am just gonna admit I know nothing. I also will admit I want to know everything. Basically, there's giant alien robots and we found one with pieces of it buried all over the earth and maybe it's from a more technologically advanced alien race that wanted to communicate with us but when they visited we were too lame to know what the heck they wanted to say so they left it for us to find once we were cool and now we have it but we definitely don't want to use it as a weapon because then the alien race will wipe us out because they only want us to use it for defense? If the alien race wanted to communicate with us and they would know enough to know we used it as a weapon, why aren't they communicating with us now?? Also, is this giant alien robot one from the giant race mentioned in Genesis in the Bible??? Or it is a Titan???? Or could it be both? (Because you know, the myth of the Titans doesn't actually have to be gods, they just would have been seen as them, because....they were giant alien robots.)

The Ending

....

Huh. I didn't see that coming.

(spoiler show)



So yeah, I'm SO there for Book 2, but I do wish I liked the characters more, because that was pretty much my only only complaint. (Also, if this isn't optioned for film nigh immediately, I'll be surprised.)

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review 2016-04-19 23:15
Cogling
Cogling - Elizabeth Jordan

**A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**

One of those in-between books. I liked it more than not, but due to my lack of interest in the beginning, procrastination, and the fact that most Netgalley books expire after a couple months, I realized I had two days to read this, which after company came and we played Pinochle all day long, that meant a few hours of staying up in order to finish this. So I was reading a little faster than normal so I could go to bed darnnit. (Daylight Savings is brutal).

At its core, this story is all about family. Edna's brother is stolen away by a hag and replaced with a cogling, and come hell or high water, she's gonna get him back. Enter Ike, who has his own agenda but is willing to help Edna get her brother back. They become a thing, but it was handled fairly well, and was mostly put on the back-burner and the rescue/quash hag takeover took precedence. Which I mightily appreciated.

Also, it must be noted that hags and ogres are not your typical hags and ogres of folklore. These guys are all magical folk who got magic by living on a swamp and then they came back to the city, and whoops, everyone hated them now (because ewwww and magic) and banished them, and then the hags and ogres rebelled and won, and then THEY were rebelled against and quashed, and now some of them are allowed to practice magic to heal the elite, but are mostly scorned, and shocker, some of them would very much like to try for a hostile takeover. The females are the hags and the males are the ogres, and much like the non-magical humans, they can be either good or bad, though of course, with derogatory names like "hag" and "ogre", quite a bit of ill-will has been cultivated against them as a whole.

I guess I liked the overall idea of this book, but it failed a bit in my estimation in the execution. I didn't get a good sense of atmosphere, which with this world and the magic, would have been very nice to have. The world building in general felt rather one-dimensional, and the religion concerning the "Seven Saints" (which were mentioned frequently by both the hags and Edna) was vague at best. Not a bad book by any means, but not great either.

 

I figured out Edna had magic nigh instantly, and was reminded of this fact every couple chapters because "the evil" running through her blood kept being mentioned. This got old pretty quick, and also makes me wonder if we were supposed to immediately know she had magic, or was it supposed to be a surprise?

(spoiler show)
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