Friday, June 28, 2013

Lucy The Wonder Weenie - Special Book Review

BookLucy The Wonder Weenie
AuthorNina Clark (Goodreads Author), Sara Pulver (Illustrator)
Genre: Children 
Published: February 2013
Source: Author, through GoodReads First Reads
Pages: 32
Rating: 5/5
GoodReads  •  Amazon

I was excited to get a copy of this book from GoodReads First Reads and get to share it with my niece and nephew. So today, we have a couple guest reviewers.

Me: On a scale of 1-5 what do you give it:
    Him: Very good.

Did you like the story: 

Did you like the photos: 
     Yeah, yeah, yeah...

Yep, that's it. 

He's a boy and was wanting to go play with his cars. But he liked enough that he asked me to read it a couple more times while I was visiting. 

And while I am sure his sister enjoyed it also, she doesn't say much yet, other than cupcakes and meow.

Overall, I think the book was a hit!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

a big trip north

Since you have last heard from me I packed up my life, and moved 630 miles to the north to the wonderful city of Portland. Here are some photos from the drive. Look forward to some new book reviews soon, and maybe some posts about some local book stores. 

P.S. I love the clouds in Oregon.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Around SF - Alcatraz Island

A couple weeks ago a few friends and I visited Alcatraz Island. I've lived in San Francisco seven years and decided I better go now.
After a very windy boat ride over, we had a great time going through the audio tour and seeing the cells. It's crazy to think about being in prison, with a city right across the bay. "So close, yet so far away."

Since we were on the night tour they also had some extra programs we could check out. I attended one on Al Capone (I was really fascinated with him in middle school) and a few other friends went to one about Alcatraz and Hollywood. I think it would have been more fun to do the night tour during the winter time, when it gets darker earlier.
My favorite part was that they opened the hospital up for us. It's located above the cell area, and is closed during the day. I enjoyed taking photos of the peeling blue paint on the wall, but I will spare you all those photos. An interesting thing about the hospital is how large the cells there were. There was a plaque showing which room was Robert "Birdman of Alcatraz" Stoud's and my guess it was about 3-4 times larger than the cells. His wikipedia page says he spent 11 years confined to the hospital wing, but I imagine that was nicer than the regular cells.

Overall it was super fun to do the tour with friends and I highly recommend going at night. Be sure to get tickets a month or two early since those tickets sell out earlier than the day tickets.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Last Summer of the Camperdown - Book Review

BookThe Last Summer of the Camperdowns: A Novel
AuthorElizabeth Kelly
Genre: Drama
Publisher/Publish DateLiveright / June 3, 2013
Source: ARC courtesy and GoodReads First Reads 
Pages: 400
Rating: 4.5/5
GoodReads  •  Amazon

Such a great book! Set in the summer of 1972, 12 year old Riddle Camperdown (named after Jimmy Hoffa) is daughter of a retired actress, Greer and an up and coming politician, Camp.

In a small, picturesque town on Cape Cod, the Camperdown's live across the road from Gin, the local gossip hound, horse breeder, and his mysterious stable manager Gula.

The long gone "international playboy and renowned horseman" Michael Devlin and his sons return to Cape Cod, bringing with them secrets and tragedy.

Riddle spends her summer riding horses, reading alone in her room, making friends with the dashing Devlin boy, and debating the price of truth. Living as the only child of two strong-willed, eclectic parents is a daily challenge, but when she witnesses a crime, her life starts into a spiral she struggles to escape from. 

I don't want to give away anymore, but if you like mysteries, and books set it the idealistic 70's, run out and get this. The characters are engaging, with witty, smart conversation. This is a book I'd enjoy seeing as a play or movie.

A beautifully written and gripping story. I was hooked from the first chapter.
(And I love the cover design.)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Archipelago: A Novel - Book Review

BookArchipelago: A Novel
AuthorMonique Roffey
Genre: Fiction Travel 
Publisher/Publish Date: Penguin Books / May 28, 2013
SourceARC courtesy and GoodReads First Reads
Pages: 384
Rating: 4/5
GoodReads  •  Amazon

A father and daughter on the voyage of a lifetime.

After a horrific flash flood that left their life shattered, Gavin takes his daughter, Ocean, and dog, Suzy, and leaves their home in Trinidad, and sets sail on a Caribbean adventure. This book is a mixture of hope, heartbreak, healing, and travel, looking at how people deal with the grief of lost loved ones.

They journey though the local archipelagos, make new friends, sail through the Panama Canal, and visit the Galapagos Islands. They work on coming to terms with the natural world, both the danger and the beauty it contains, and what God's role is in all of it.

Ocean, the six-year-old daughter, is adorable, and it's easy to relate to and want to give a big hug. Gavin is a lost and grieving husband, who is a likable, and a very empathetic character. The author, Roffey, writes a beautiful, heart touching story, that I think most people could find something to relate to.

I loved this book, and shed a couple tears. Good if you are feeling a bit melancholy, and perfect to read on a rainy day under a warm blanket.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Absent by Katie Williams - Book Review

AuthorKatie Williams 
Genre: YA
Publisher/Publish Date: Chronicle Books / May 21, 2013
Source: ARC eBook courtesy of publisher and Net Galley
Pages: 184
Rating: 3.5/5
GoodReads  •  Amazon

After dying from an accidental fall from the roof during a high-school scinece class, seventeen-year-old Paige is trapped as a ghost on the school grounds. She meets two other students that died at her school, and she learns how to deal with the grief and rumors that surround her own death.

Williams presents an interesting view of what it would mean to be a ghost, as well as what limitations and special abilities one would have. For example, they are able to move freely around the school grounds, but once they reach the property line, they are transported back to the place where they died. Also, they don't tend to stand well on floors, but sink to the ground (ie: the basement), but are able to learn how to levitate so they can walk around the different levels of the school.

This book pleasantly surprised me and it's a short book, perfect for a trip or lying on the beach. There were deep, touching moments, and was never cheesy. I'd recommend it for ages 14 and up. 

Williams is a talented writer and I am looking forward to reading more books from her. The Space Between Trees looks intriguing.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Storybound - book review

BookStorybound (Storybound #1)
AuthorMarissa Burt
Genre: Middle School, Fantasy 
Publisher/Publish DateHarper Collins Children's / February 5, 2013
Source: ARC eBook courtesy of publisher and NetGalley
Pages: 416
Rating: 2.5/5
GoodReads  •  Amazon

Imagine, while reading a fairytale one day, you suddenly become part of the story. That's what happens to Una Fairchild when she gets sucked into the land of Story. There kids go to school to learn to be Heros, Ladies, and Villains. As the story develops she learns the reason she is there, and it's a lot more complex than she ever would have though.

While I really liked the concept and idea of the book, there were lots of plot holes and poor writing. Maybe I am holding it up to Harry Potter standards (which it is really similar too) and it just isn't as good as that, but what can be?

I don't think I'll be reading the other books in the series when they come out, but elementary, and middle school kids may really enjoy them.

Monday, June 3, 2013

what I've been up to lately

I've been a bit off the radar this last week, spending the week with my family up in Oregon. The day I got there we celebrated my nephew's birthday party, and luckily had beautiful weather and were able to BBQ outside. The rest of the week was mostly me getting worn out running around after my niece and nephew (age 2 and 4 respectively). They have an impressive amount of energy.

 Blowing out the candles took a few tries.

Flying kites at the park. My mom bought these great little kites. 
They didn't need much wind to work, but running with kites is always fun.

They are adorable, lovable and balls of energy that don't stop.

My adorable niece, with her other aunt. (I have a lot of competition for favorite aunt.)

I miss these kids, looking forward to seeing them again soon!