Friday, August 28, 2015

Review of Will in Scarlet by Matthew Cody (Middle Grade)

Will in Scarlet by Matthew Cody

Age Range: 10 and up

Grade Level: 5 and up

Series: None

Paperback: 272 pages

Publisher: Yearling; Reprint edition (August 26, 2014)

Source: From publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars







About the Book:

This reimagining of the Robin Hood legend tells the story of the young boy behind the bandit hero's rise to fame.

Will Shackley is the son of a lord, and though just thirteen, he’s led a charmed, protected life and is the heir to Shackley House, while his father is away on the Third Crusade with King Richard the Lionheart.

But with King Richard’s absence, the winds of treason are blowing across England, and soon Shackley House becomes caught up in a dangerous power struggle that drives Will out of the only home he’s ever known. Alone, he flees into the dangerous Sherwood Forest, where he joins an elusive gang of bandits readers will immediately recognize.

How Will helps a drunkard named Rob become one of the most feared and revered criminals in history is a swashbuckling ride perfect for anyone who loves heroes, villains, and adventure.


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My Thoughts:

This is the story about a young boy who helps create the legend of Robin Hood. It's an adventure story full of sword fights, betrayal, cross dressing, and friendship.

The characters all develop over the course of the book, but Will makes the biggest changes.  Will starts out being prodded into manhood by his family, and indignant at still being treated like a child. Soon however, his childhood is violently ripped away from him. He must face his demons and master his thirst for revenge. He makes friends along the way and learns about loyalty, justice, and what it truly means to be a man.

This book will appeal to fans of Robin Hood, adventure, and historical fiction.

Content: violence and mild language

4 STARS

Disclaimer: I received a digital galley of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Review of Peas in a Pod by Tania McCartney (Picture Book)

Peas in a Pod by Tania McCartney, illustrated by Tina Snerling

Age Range: 4 - 7 years

Grade Level: Preschool - 2

Genre: Picture book

Hardcover: 32 pages

Publisher: Exisle Publishing (July 1, 2015)

Source: From publisher

My rating: 5 of 5 stars




About the Book:

Pippa, Pia, Poppy, Polly and Peg are quintuplets. Since birth, they've done everything the same -- cry, eat, sleep, sit. But as they get a little older, things start to change. Now they want to do things differently -- very differently. Can Mum and Dad keep their little girls as matching peas in a pod, or will those five very individual personalities win out in the end?

Gorgeous illustrations perfectly complement this simple yet highly entertaining storyline. Sure to be enjoyed by kids and their parents!



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My Thoughts on Peas in a Pod:

I love books about individuality and staying true to yourself. When five little girls get tired of always being the same, they take matters into their own hands. Even though they are quintuplets, they are still unique individuals with their own dreams, desires, and personalities.

My five year old loves this book. I have read it to her no less than four dozen times. I can't blame her for loving this book so much. It's a simple story, written in short, simple sentences, with beautiful illustrations. It celebrates individuality and personality.  It delivers the subtle message that everyone is unique, even if others don't see you that way. The illustrations are simple and gorgeous.

This book will appeal most strongly to girls, especially those starting preschool/school and developing their own interests.

5 STARS


Monday, August 24, 2015

Art Book Review: Freehand Figure Drawing for Illustrators by David H. Ross

Freehand Figure Drawing for Illustrators by David H. Ross

Age range: adult (appropriate for teens, too)

Genre: nonfiction/art/illustration

Series: none

Paperback: 208 pages

Publisher: Watson-Guptill (July 28, 2015)

Source: from publisher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars






About the Book:

Draw the Human Figure Anywhere, Anytime

For today’s in-demand comic creators, animators, video game artists, concept designers, and more, being able to quickly draw the human figure in a variety of action-packed poses is a requirement. But what do you do if you don’t have models or photographic reference readily available? In Freehand Figure Drawing for Illustrators, artist and instructor David H. Ross provides an alternative solution, showing you how to master freehand figure drawing without visual reference by using a modern twist on the classic technique of blocking out the human figure in mannequin form. Step-by-step lessons guide illustrators from basic poses (standing, running, jumping) to extreme motions (throwing punches, high kicking). For on-the-go artists, Freehand Figure Drawing for Illustrators allows you complete freedom to bring your figures to life at any time.


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My Thoughts:

This is a fantastic resource for any illustrator. David Ross takes the reader through the construction of a "glass" mannequin (both male and female) in proper proportion and perspective.  He takes the reader through various poses and explains the challenges that come with different angles and foreshortening. There is a wealth of great information in this book for the comic book artists and children's book illustrators out there.

I wish the sections on perspective and developing a finished figure had more detail. Those explanations were thin, but overall, this is a great read and a wonderful book for artists and illustrators. I especially like the assignments at the end of each chapter. If you read the book and complete the assignments, you will have a fairly good understanding of how to construct the human figure from your imagination or memory.

Content: It's a figure drawing book, so there are some nude figures, but nothing provocative.

4 STARS

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Review of Anton and Cecil: Cats on Track by Lisa Martin and Valerie Martin

Anton and Cecil: Cats on Track by Lisa Martin and Valerie Martin, illustrated by Kelly Murphy

Age Range: 8 - 12 years

Grade Level: 3 - 7

Series: Anton and Cecil (Book 2)

Hardcover: 272 pages

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers (August 25, 2015)

Source: From publisher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars





About the Book:

A message has traveled via the mouse network to cat brothers Anton and Cecil: their rodent friend Hieronymus has been captured. Though he’d rather stay close to home, Anton must get to the friend who saved his life. Cecil is quick to action, too, but it’s adventure he craves. Boarding one of the machines the mice call “landships”--noisy, smoke-belching trains--Anton and Cecil travel to the heart of the Wild West. Along the way Cecil is tossed out by the train’s conductor, only to face huge bison, chattering prairie dogs, and the most dangerous creature of all, a boy who wants to make Cecil a pet. Meanwhile, Anton’s search leads him to stampeding herds, menacing rattlesnakes, and fierce, enormous cats.

In this perilous territory, do Anton and Cecil have the courage and wit to find and save Hieronymus?

The heroes of Anton and Cecil: Cats at Sea, which the New York Times called “engrossing and unpredictable,” return in an exciting adventure that will delight fans of the first book and new readers alike.


Praise for Anton and Cecil: Cats at Sea:

“The plot is carefully woven, the vocabulary rich and distinctive, and the characters engaging.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Enchanting . . . [Lisa Martin and Valerie Martin] effortlessly submerge readers in the setting.” —Shelf Awareness for Readers

“Children who like animal fantasies such as Avi’s Poppy will find much to enjoy here.” —School Library Journal




Find the Book:


My Thoughts:

Another tale featuring the two most adventurous cats (and a mouse) in historical fiction. I really enjoyed this second book in the Anton and Cecil series. 

This time, the brothers receive a message that their friend Hieronymus is in trouble and needs their help. Once again, the two cars set off on a rescue mission, this time traveling by train across the continent. Along the way they have adventures and meet many new friends, big and small. 

While I enjoyed this book, I wish there had been that element of fantasy the first book had. Nothing overdone, but I liked those moments when the reader wonders if the cats are truly seeing what they think they're seeing. 

It's not necessary to read the first book before reading this one, but I would recommend it to avoid any confusion. This is a fun series that animal and adventure lovers alike will enjoy. 
Content: clean

4 STARS

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing Comics by Comfort Love and AdamWithers

The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing Comics by Comfort Love and Adam Withers

Age range: Adult (appropriate for teens, too)

Series: none

Genre: Art/business

Paperback: 240 pages

Publisher: Watson-Guptill (May 19, 2015)

Source: From publisher

My rating: 5 of 5 stars






About the Book:

Take Control of Your Comics-Making Destiny
Creating your own comic is easier than ever before. With advances in technology, the increased connectivity of social media, and the ever-increasing popularity of the comics medium, successfu
l DIY comics publishing is within your reach. With The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing Comics, creators/instructors Comfort Love and Adam Withers provide a step-by-step breakdown of the comics-making process, perfect for any aspiring comics creator. This unprecedented, in-depth coverage gives you expert analysis on each step—writing, drawing, coloring, lettering, publishing, and marketing. Along the way, luminaries in the fields of comics, manga, and webcomics—like Mark Waid, Adam Warren, Scott Kurtz, and Jill Thompson—lend a hand, providing “Pro Tips” on essential topics for achieving your comics-making dreams. With the insights and expertise contained within these pages, you’ll have everything you need and no excuses left: It’s time to make your comics!


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My Thoughts:

This book was fabulous.  As someone that knew absolutely nothing about the creation of comics before reading this book, I found it extremely informative.  It covers the entire creation process, from concept and script writing to printing and marketing.  

It's important to note that this book is a step by step guide to creating a comic.  It is not an instructional book on drawing or writing.  It probably wouldn't be much help to a seasoned professional already working in the field of comics, but it is a fantastic resource for anyone just starting out.  It takes the reader through the entire complex process and offers tips and advice from professionals.  It even has a few Photoshop and Illustrator tutorials to help artists and letterers get the effects they want.  

If you are new to the world of comic making, this is an excellent starting point.  If you read this book along with a few others (like Foundations in Comic Book Art by John Paul Lowe and Words for Pictures: the Art and Business of Writing Comics and Graphic Novels by Brian Michael Bendis), you'll be well on your way to creating your own comic.  Happy reading!

Content: clean

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

5 STARS

Monday, August 10, 2015

Starting a Business? My Thoughts on Venture Mom by Holly Hurd

 I love business books and I've been reading a lot of them lately, like The 4-Hour Work Week, Better and Faster, and The Art of Work. The problem that I've run into is that I have no plans on starting a huge company. I don't even want my idea to get that big. I simply want to run my little business and have fun doing it. In the spirit of small business, I read Venture Mom, which was written by a woman and is intended for women (moms in particular). I've included my thoughts on further down, and here's a little bit of info about the book.


Venture Mom by Holly Hurd:

Age range: adult (appropriate for teens, too)

Genre: self-help/business

Series: None


Paperback: 256 pages

Publisher: AMACOM (August 12, 2015)

Source: Publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars









About the Book:

You can take care of kids and take care of business. Many mothers today are jumping into the entrepreneurial ring, transforming simple ideas into profit able ventures. And in the process, they're creating flexible jobs for themselves - all with out start-up capital, business plans, or even babysitters. Venture Mom recounts inspiring stories from women who have channeled their passions into money-making products and services, from designer one sies to gluten-freecookies. They're thriving in the whirlwind of motherhood and entrepreneurship. Venture Mom helps anyone get started. It strips away the mystery of launching a business and unlocks a fast, easy formula. No time for market research? No budget for promotion? In 12 steps, each achievable in a week, the book simplifies the start-up process and shares: tips and techniques for honing a concept, doing just enough research, finding the perfect name; five factors that improve the odds of success; free resources for logos, web design, and branding; and strategies for leveraging email, blogging, and social media. Whether the goal is adding to the family finances or building a major enterprise, Venture Mom delivers the tools you need to make your business dream a reality.



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My Thoughts:

I've read a lot of motivational business books recently, and I was excited to see one written by a woman, for women. In many ways, Venture Mom was exactly what I was hoping for. It takes the reader through twelve steps to creating a profitable venture and it focuses solely on businesses started and run by women in my situation (they're moms). I loved the examples and business ideas the author shared along with the advice on how to take a simple idea and turn it into income.

Keep in mind that while this book takes you through each step of starting a business, it does so in simple, general terms. I wish there had been more in-depth advice in the book, but for anyone looking to start a small venture in their free time, this is a good starting point. It won't tell you everything you need to know, but it will get you going.

Content: clean

4 STARS

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Hueys in None the Number: A Counting Adventure by Oliver Jeffers (Picture Book)

The Hueys in None the Number: A Counting Adventure by Oliver Jeffers

Age Range: 3 - 5 years

Series: The Hueys (Book 3)

Hardcover: 32 pages

Publisher: Philomel Books (July 1, 2014)

Genre: Picture book/counting

Source: gift

My rating: 5 of 5 stars






About the Book:

Learn to count with the #1 New York Times bestselling artist of The Day the Crayons Quit and his hilarious cast of Hueys!

"Is none a number?" you might ask. I'm glad you did. The answer is Yes! For example, how many lumps of cheese do you see next to you? The answer, depending on where you are, is likely "none." Counting with the reader all the way up to ten, the Hueys explain numbers as only they can. Such as: The number 4 is the number of tantrums thrown by Dave every day. 7 is the number of oranges balanced on things. And 9 is the number of seagulls who attacked Frank's French fries. Together they make quite a spectacle. But when you take away all of these fun illustrations in the book? You're left with none!

This funny and accessible counting book from #1 New York Times bestseller Oliver Jeffers (The Day the Crayons Quit; This Moose Belongs to Me) gives the Hueys one more reason to be every young child's best friends.

Praise for NONE THE NUMBER:

"Delightfully droll and enlightening . . . . The illustrations, 'made with pencils and a bit of color' on large white pages, are deceptively simple and ridiculously funny."--School Library Journal


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My Thoughts:

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Oliver Jeffers and his books.  The Hueys in None the Number: A Counting Adventure is no exception.  Jeffers brings his unique sense of humor and wacky yet charming illustrations to another fantastic picture book.

The thing I love the most about this book is the humor and the unpredictable items the reader gets to count.  I also love the debate over zero being a number.

If you are looking for good counting books for your little one's library, be sure to check this one out!

5 STARS



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