Monday, July 28, 2014

Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times by Emma Trevayne

Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times by Emma Trevayne
Source: eARC via Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars :star :star :star :star


*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

“Ten-year-old Jack Foster has stepped through a doorway and into quite a different London.

Londinium is a smoky, dark, and dangerous place, home to mischievous metal fairies and fearsome clockwork dragons that breathe scalding steam. The people wear goggles to protect their eyes, brass grill insets in their nostrils to filter air, or mechanical limbs to replace missing ones.


Over it all rules the Lady, and the Lady has demanded a new son—a perfect flesh-and-blood child. She has chosen Jack. Jack’s wonder at the magic and steam-powered marvels in Londinium lasts until he learns he is the pawn in a very dangerous game. The consequences are deadly, and his only hope of escape, of returning home, lies with a legendary clockwork bird.


The Gearwing grants wishes. Or it did, before it was broken. Before it was killed. But some things don’t stay dead forever.”


Once in awhile I see a cover so magnificent, so extraordinary, that the rest of the world goes blank and all I can think is “I NEED THIS BOOK.” As you may have guessed, that is precisely what happened in the case of Flights and Chimes. I mean, that cover....even the title is amazing. A steampunk adventure for middle grade readers? Sign me up! So I did. Sign up, that is. I even bought the book before I read the review copy, just so I could see that gorgeous cover on my shelf.

Ok so now that I've established how crazy I am and how I have a weakness that I call cover-lust, let me tell you why this book was as amazing to read as it is to look at. It's about a boy named Jack Foster. He's an only child, and his parents don't give him much attention. It's set in old fashioned London (no year is specifically mentioned). Jack is on holiday from boarding school so he is home. A strange man named Lorcan is introduced to Jack as his mothers new "spiritualist" /magician. But what he really wants is to kidnap Jack and bring him into his world, Londonium, so he can be the son to the Lady. The Lady is an ageless queen who is a bit nuts, who wants a boy with no mechanical parts.

Along the way Jack meets a very madcap group of misfits: Beth, a mechanical girl who resembles a doll (you have to wind her up so she can speak), a strange Doctor, and Xeno, more of a metaphysical doctor. The philosophical question of "what is a soul?" Is posed in a very interesting way throughout the novel. If you took Beth apart, and had all her tiny little pieces, but put them back together again, would it still be Beth? What about the soul? If you killed a robot would it be murder? Because the beings in Londonium are all partly mechanical, due to the horrible atmosphere and unclean air. Yet, fairies and magic exist, and there are ways to get souls.

Jack, fascinated by all he sees in Londonium, isn't sure he wants to go back to London. Why should he? He has a mother who barely sees him and a father who is never home. But things take a dire turn and Jack begins to learn a lot about himself and the nature of the world while in Londonium.

This story was really enjoyable to read. It felt like a mix between The Chronicles of Narnia and Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy. I loved the steampunk elements and the creepy Lady who doesn't age. Jack was a good character, and Beth was adorable. The imagery was splendid, I really felt like I could picture the dark cogs that made up Londonium, and the people who all looked the same except for one mechanical limb or eye. I can't recommend this story enough. Whether you're a middle grade reader who loves adventure books; or an adult who enjoys a well written story, this book is a must read. It will appeal to many different readers across a wide age range and the mix of genres is refreshing.



Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Uses of Vinyl Lettering

Hey guys! 
Lately I've been obsessed with redecorating my room. I took everything off the walls, and decided I wanted something completely different. The problem is, I'm moving in a year. I didn't want anything permanent or difficult to remove. That's when I thought of Vinyl lettering. I thought I could use a cool book quote and incorporate all the books and bookshelves in my room ^_^ Since I loved the idea of it I decided to do more research. Then, although this isn't something I've done before on the blog, I decided to share my research with you guys! 

Guide on the Benefits and Uses of Vinyl Lettering

Vinyl lettering is an innovative methodology that assists you to give your home or office a unique makeover and provide it with a fresh appearance at cost-effective rates. In this method, designs and letters produced from vinyl are made use of. The designs come with a back that is sticky and can attach to your car surface, walls of your home or any hard surface. This type of lettering can last for a long time and can decorate your area in a nice way. It can be a great substitute for stenciling, painting and various other decorative items. There are different kinds of decals in quotes category. This type of lettering has become famous and can be found in a variety of designs, sizes and colors.

Benefits of Vinyl Letters
Vinyl Letters can provide you with a variety of benefits.
1.
    You can place these lettering in bright and deep tones on your showroom or shop windows to announce an attractive sale offer or some other information that demands attention. You can also put your business name in these types of letters. In the last few years, Pressure-sensitive vinyl (PSV) lettering has got much advanced. Unlike earlier days, it is not as obvious. Vinyl lettering has become more user-friendly, varied and refined and makes for a warmer ambience and can be used universally.
2.  .
    High quality vinyl letters can last for over 8 years. It is weatherproof; naturally it can withstand sun, rain or dirt exposure. When you are looking for your vehicle decoration, you need to opt always for the highest quality inspirational lettering that can be found. You can easily affix these lettering on the mirrors, plates, walls, ceramic tiles and wooden blocks and signs.

3.
    These are durable enough and you can safely use them for outdoor environs. A lot of companies use these on the rear windows of their vehicles to publicize their contact information. On the exterior surface of truck trailers, these can appear very beautiful and striking to look at! The letters can be small or huge and can publicize contact info, website address, company or brand name among other things. Company delivery autos usually display a toll-free contact number where you can call for information on deliveries. These lettering are also made of Pressure-sensitive vinyl (PSV).
4.
    These letters are also implemented on autos, snowmobiles, fleet vehicles and toys for children. In the absence of vinyl lettering, it would be impossible to distinguish one from the other. Even the police force makes use of these letters on their squad car roofs so that helicopters can easily spot them. Vinyl letters are color-fast and washable and are devised to withstand grime and dirt of smog, snow, city traffic, rough weather conditions and harsh sunlight on an everyday basis.
5.
    These make use of various text forms and can be extremely useful and attractive. These look painted on not stuck from a distance. In the recent days, vinyl lettering has become more beautiful and cost-effective. So, if you want to benefit from it, you can buy wall quotes here.



Where Are Vinyl Letters Used?

Vinyl letters are used in a number of areas.
1.
    Advertisements – Ads commonly make use of vinyl letters on glossy and smooth surfaces. These can best be used on glasses. Naturally, cars, trucks and vans can be ideal billboards as the glass windscreen can showcase vinyl ads more prominently.  A lot of fast-food companies utilize vinyl letters on the windscreens on their vehicles in the form of stickers when they are kept parked on the premises of hotels and restaurants.
2.
    Fabric Decorations – Since the 1970s, when fans of a famous television show wore shirts printed with vinyl letter quotes, the use of vinyl letters on shirts have become popular. To this day, you can find shirts being printed with vinyl letters. Vinyl letters bond easily with fabric with the assistance of heat-activated glue.
3.
    Sportswear – The clothes of athletes are often found with vinyl letters. You must have observed the back of the shirts of your favorite players having their names or jersey numbers printed? These names are usually printed with vinyl. Such letters are designed specifically for sports garments and you may also get these done for yourself from professional firms.
4.
    Bumper Stickers – A lot of individuals used to utilize paper stickers to showcase information about their brands or businesses. However, bumper stickers are increasingly being made from vinyl these days. Today, you may come across a lot of owners who stick bumper stickers on the doors and exists of their stores. These stickers display information about the store or health hazards and cautions to warn customers about a few things.
5.
   Product Labels – A lot of plastic containers can also be found to come with vinyl letteringin their product labels. Lettering companies often blend vinyl with other material to stick them easily to plastic bottles.

How to Get Vinyl Letters?
You can easily buy these lettering from various craft and convenience stores. In recent days, a lot of websites also offer high quality vinyl lettering designs in a wide range. You can also get the innovative facility of customizing vinyl letters from these websites. You may purchase designs and signs as per your taste and even match them with the decorations that you have already at your home. You need to remember the background color when you are purchasing vinyl letters. You also need to purchase signs which are striking and bold and can stand out even when viewed from a long distance away. Many signs are also underlined and italicized for further beauty and to be more attention-grabbing. You can visit eBay, Amazon and other online stores to get a hang of how various vinyl letter designs look like and what types you can choose from. Vinyl letters are the perfect way to express your tastes and convey information about your company or brand. You need to select those design and fonts that go with your character and personality and does not look out of place for yourself or your company. Today, vinyl letters go beyond mere functions and have also become a thing of beauty and artistic creation. Naturally, they are used about everywhere that you look at!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Graphic Novel Review (ARC): Rocky & Bullwinkle Vol. 1 by Mark Evanier, Roger Langridge

Rocky & Bullwinkle by Mark Evanier
Source: eARC via Netgalley / Diamond Book Distributors

My rating: 4 of 5 stars :star :star :star :star


I received a copy of this graphic novel in exchange for an honest review.

I was born in 1987. I grew up watching VHS tapes on a continual loop; specifically, Rocky & Bullwnkle. Rocky & Bullwinkle holds a special place in my heart, along with Dudley Do-Right and Peabody and Sherman. I have the old VHS movies, but since I don't have a player I invested in the DVD of Season 1. When I saw this graphic novel I was excited but not too excited, it would take a lot for me to feel they kept it true to the original spirit of the show. The thing is, they did a great job.

All the cheesy jokes were on point, and the artwork was so good, I'm convinced the original animators must have been raised from the dead to create this graphic novel. It's possible, right? With Boris and Natasha up to their usual tricks (including jokes about how they never recognize Boris in his costumes), and Dudley Do-Right, stupid as ever I was really impressed with this graphic novel. It's hard to take a show as old and famous as this one and turn it into a graphic novel that is relatable for the modern gen (as well as the old) with the same good old jokes.
If you're a fan of the show, you need to read this graphic novel. I'll be buying it and I'm crossing my fingers they make another one! :tup

Friday, July 18, 2014

DNF Review: Prisoner of Night & Fog by Anne Blankman


Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
Source: eARC via Balzer + Bray/Edelweiss
My rating: 1 of 5 stars :star


I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I was so excited to start this book. The cover had me entranced with it's beauty, and the premise had me very excited. I thought of how amazing this book must be, to deal with all these different elements! Set in Nazi Germany, Gretchen Müller is a German girl like any other. Except her father was murdered and her "uncle" is Dolf, as in Adolfo Hitler.

I was expecting a very twisted story of a girl who was the niece to Hitler, and how she must have lived her life brainwashed into Nazi idealogy. I figured she would fall in love with a Jewish guy and by the end question her long held beliefs. I also figured there would be a murder mystery involved as well. All of this against a backdrop of Germany during the period of time culminating in Hitler's rise to power. Unfortunately, I simply couldn't finish this book. I went from enjoying the first chapter and seeing the promise, to being more and more disappointed with each passing page. I'm going to try to explain why:

The main reason I think this didn't work was because of what I call "busy" syndrome in a book. When the story has too many elements to juggle, it can be a huge problem. The book can become too busy if we go from one plot point to another, or one character to another and another. The reader can get confused. On the flip side, the elements may not be overwhelming but underwhelming instead. In my experience with this book it was the latter. Each prospect gleamed in the blurb/synopsis was stretched too think or wasn't fleshed out enough at all.

For example, Gretchen was a German, Jew-hating girl brought up to idolize Hitler. After believing this for many years she meets a Jewish boy and instantly becomes infatuated with him. Really? Because someone who believed in something for so many years - and even has a girl classmate who she admitted she "wanted to like" but didn't even look at or befriend - suddenly has a crush on a Jewish boy. I just didn't buy it, it felt too contrived. I would've preferred her friendship to develop with the Jewish classmate first, and then for her to completely question her core beliefs, well, that takes time. It doesn't happen in an instant and when it happened suddenly I was put off.

Gretchen is also deathly afraid of her brother. He pulls pranks on her. Yes, pranks. He hidees her clothes, jumps out at her, etc. But the way she described him I thought he was raping her. No, just scaring her like any brother does. Granted, her brother does have serious issues and he does end up doing some sick stuff to her, I felt it was downplayed because in the beginning she seemed to make a huge deal of nothing.

Let me also say how much I disliked the character of Gretchen herself. I know not every heroine is going to have admirable attributes. It's important to have flaws, but to be consistent with them as well. She'd be flawed on one page and then overcome it on another. She's incredibly naïve, kind of dim (you haven't figured out yet after Dolf proved to you several times he won't go against your brother?), weak willed, and wishy washy. I just didn't really like her half the time. She seemed like a frail little doll who couldn't think for herself, which is what I expected, fine...but then she would suddenly do something completely (seemingly) out of character; like flirt and touch the Jewish guy she just met. It just didn't add up.

It's very rare for me to read 1/2 of an entire book and put it away unfinished. I rarely mark books DNF, and I can't remember the last time I didn't just suck it up and finish at the halfway mark. So what was different this time? It's summer. I'm reading a ton of fun books and doing a bunch of buddy reads I have scheduled. I'm also catching up on so,e review books, but mainly I'm looking to enjoy myself by reading some of the large number of books on my bought-TBR shelves. How can I continue to read a book I'm not enjoying when I have so many other books waiting? Well, I can't. I know a lot of you loved this book. I tried, but it just wasn't for me.



View all my reviews

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

ARC Review: Get Lost, Odysseus! By Kate McMullan

Get Lost, Odysseus! (Myth-O-Mania, #10)Get Lost, Odysseus! by Kate McMullan
Source: eARC via Capstone Publisher/Netgalley
My rating: 1 of 5 stars :star


I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

So this was my first foray in the Myth-O-Mania series. The books can be read in any order, and combined with the fact that I'm a huge ancient myth enthusiast, was the reason I requested this book. Unfortunately, the book really wasn't to my liking. I finished it though, which has to count for something (right?). :||

If you know the story of Odysseus, you know it's quite the page turner. Or at least, it can be depending on the rendition. I was expecting a middle grade version of the epic adventure I had previously read in The Odyssey by Homer. Instead I got a watered down version, made for kids, but without any notable differences or successful attempts at humor. The story is told from Hades perspective. He helped Odyseuss, and was there watching throughout his journey. The thing is, I didn't really understand why it had to be Hades. At the end of the story, it didn't make a difference which god helped Odyseuss, it just had to be one who could observe the entire journey. This bothered me. There was a sideline story about Hades' dog Cerberus, and how he was upset with Hades for spending so much time away from the Underworld. Again, what was the point of this? It wasn't funny or amusing, it just seemed like there needed to be an additional plot with Hades so it was added on.

I don't want to make a long review with all the negative reasons I had for not liking this book. So I'm going to wrap it up by saying this:
If kids had never read or heard this story read it here first, well  let's just say I wouldn't be surprised if they never take a Myths class in college. The story was too bland for my taste. 


Monday, July 14, 2014

Fangirl Style Reviews: Vampire Academy Series Edition


Fangirl-Style Reviews is an original feature created by me :$
What is a Fangirl Style review? Basically it's me being short, not very eloquent, and perhaps screaming in font or using a lot of !!! :) :v :|| etc. non professional, FUN, crazy, weird reviews. 
AKA.. FANGIRL-Style! :tup




I read Vampire Academy a few weeks ago and devoured it. I instantly knew what all the fuss and hype was about; I was in. I really liked Rose as a character, her strength and her friendship with Lissa. I right away ordered the second book and when I got it I couldn't wait to continue the series and see what would happen to Rose at St. Vladimir's Academy. Not to mention, it seems like I have read every one of these books so far in one day. I'm a fast reader, but I'm rarely that entranced to read it in one day - let alone but three books in a series. 

So, one thing I wanna tell you guys is this: if you haven't read VA yet, you need to! It's an amazing series, and well-written. Lots of action and kick ass heroines are what it's all about! Plus, then we can fangirl all over it :P

__________________


Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy, #3)Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead
Source: Paperback via library
My rating: 4 of 5 stars :star :star :star :star


Really more like 4.5 stars. 

Pulled an all-nighter to finish this one. It was kinda hard to watch Rose fall apart in this book. I admit I wish Lissa had reached out more while it was happening and confronted her about it..I also wish rose would've trusted her best friend with her issues, not all of them, I get that, but some of them.

I'm officially hooked on this series. With each book I get more and more invested. I doubt I'll be waiting much longer before I start the next one. :e




Do you love the Vampire Academy books? Why do you (or don't you) love them? 

Friday, July 11, 2014

ARC Review: Oliver and the Seawigs by Philip Reeve


Oliver and the Seawigs by Philip Reeve
Source: eARC via Random House Publishers |  Netgalley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars :star :star :star :star

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

“‘No, this is a completely different place,” said Iris. “It's called the Sarcastic Sea, and sailors fear it because the weed keeps making horrid, hurtful comments about them.'"

This was an incredibly adorable book. When I first got invited to read this book, I had no idea what it was about. I saw the title, cover, and that it was middle grade, and said yep I'll give it a shot. I'm really glad I did. Because even though sea-wigs are not some type of fluffy animal, they are still a very cute and amusing concept.

The book is about a boy, Oliver,  who grows up with parents who are adventurers. He's excited because they've finally adventured the world enough to have seen all they wanted to see, and are about to settle down and live in a house (with beds!) and he can finally go to school (for the first time). Oliver's pretty darn excited when they arrive. But, as his parents go off to explore the surrounding islands, something happens. They don't return. Oliver goes in search of them and, as you can imagine, an adventure ensues.


The book is short, so I don't need to say much more about the plot except that it is perfectly paced. The illustrations are really amazing. It's not often that I see a book with illustrations as riveting as the actual story. I found myself admiring them for several moments and having to force myself to go back to read and stop giggling over the cute pictures. It helps that the story includes wonderful characters to see drawn: such as a chubby mermaid who is nearsighted, little monkeys, sarcastic sea (made up of sarcastic comment-throwing seaweed) and islands that talk and move. What are sea-wigs, you might wonder? Well, they're the "wigs" these roving islands create for themselves by piling junk on their shores. They're made up of numerous things...wrecked ships, animals, plants, chests of treasure, etc. Creative, isn't it?


I will definitely be purchasing this book for my niece and nephew. Heck, I will probably end up getting myself a copy too just to see it on my shelf. The thought of being able to open up and see that
 chubby mermaid makes me very, very happy. ^_^


*Note: Quote came from arc version of the book, and may appear different in final version. 

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