Monday, March 20, 2017

The Wingsnatchers: Carmer & Grit Book One

This is a review for The Wingsnatchers: Carmer and Grit Book One by Sarah Jean Horwitz
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 stars, I loved it.

Felix Cassius Tiberius Carmer III is a magician's apprentice and aspiring inventor.  He travels with Antoine the Amazifier around a rural circuit but their show is not doing well.  They are one rotten tomato from going under!  A contest in Skemantis city could save their act and Skemantis just happens to be hosting an engineering exhibition that Carmer really wants to see as well.  The Magician and his apprentice pack up their box of tricks and head for the city.

Grettifrida is a fairy with one wing and a hatred of her name, call her Grit please!  Grit lives in Oldtown Arboretum in Skemantis.  She is an impossible being; the only fairy born with one wing.  Grit dreams of being outside the walls of the Arboretum and exploring the world.  She frequently sneaks outside the walls to explore the city.

Carmer and Grit meet by chance in the city and that one meeting will change both of their lives.  Carmer and the Amazifier are going to lose the magic contest their competition has a huge advantage.  Grit's people are being attacked and carried off by something in the night.  Can Carmer & Grit work together to solve both of their problems?

Carmer is a flawed child who tries hard.  He has trouble saying what he means, he feels like his mouth betrays him sometimes.  He has eloquent responses in mind but stutters out the exact opposite of what he wants to say.  He is not a great magician's apprentice, he messes up and makes mistakes. 

Grit is a sheltered child who wants to see more of the world.  Her mother wants to keep her safe and close but doesn't realize that she is stifling her daughter's growth.  Grit is headstrong and gets angry really easily. 

I adored this book.  I could barely put it down.  The story is fascinating and the characters are intriguing.  Carmer and Grit both have flaws and strengths.  They have disagreements and problems that they have to work through.  Neither one would be able to solve their problems alone. 

This book has a bit of a steampunk fantasy feel to it, automatons and fairies existing side by side.  If you like Howl's Moving Castle you will like this book.  I highly recommend this.  I will be over here in my little corner waiting for a sequel!

I received an advance copy free for review purposes.  This review is my personal opinion and is in no way influenced by the publisher, author or any third party.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Raven Boys

This is a review of The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater.
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 stars, I loved it.

Blue is the daughter of a powerful psychic.  She has been told her whole life that if she kisses her true love he will die.  Blue is not a psychic, the only one in her entire family to not be a psychic.  Blue lives by two rules 1. Stay away from boys. 2. Stay away from Raven boys.  Her entire life changes the night she sees her first spirit.

I loved this book.  It is not uncommon for me to stay up reading a book until 2am.  It is uncommon for me to then wake up before 7am to finish the book!  The characters in this book are each so different and so vibrant.  They are fully formed and fluid.  There is change, there is growth.  The world has vast amounts of detail but it is given in a natural way.  It doesn't feel heavy, forced, or boring; it is also not tacked on as an afterthought.

I was absolutely captivated by this story.  Everything in it was interconnected in surprising ways.  The different narratives merged beautifully to create a story that feels real.  I am half tempted to go put on some hiking boots and search for ley-lines myself!  Before going to find any ley-lines though, I am going to go find the next book in this series!

I highly recommend this book.  I absolutely devoured it.  It went from a simple "oh the library has this available and I have heard good things about it" to "Holy crap!  I can't put this book down" within the first 5 minutes of the story.  If you enjoy stories about supernatural things you will enjoy this book!  If you are on the fence about the legitimacy of the supernatural this might be the book to make you a believer.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Night Voyage

This is a review for The Night Voyage by Daria Song.
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 stars, I loved it.

Daria Song is an internationally known artist and author.  She has had art exhibited at numerous galleries and museums in Korea, Singapore, Turkey, and Hong Kong.  She grew up in both San Fransisco and Korea.  Her art style shows a blending of both Western and Eastern culture and style.

The Night Voyage is the third adult coloring book in Daria Song's series "The Time Coloring Books" The other coloring books in the series are The Time Garden and The Time Chamber

Each of Song's coloring books has a short set up story.  The story of The Night Voyage is that tomorrow is the young girl's birthday.  She woke up to find mountains of presents from her parents along with a note saying they would miss her birthday because of a business trip.  The girl is lonely and wants to give her presents to other children and hopefully make some new friends.  After the set up story the pictures take the thread of the story and lead the reader along through magical worlds.

Every page in The Night Voyage is simply gorgeous.  Every picture is beautiful.  Even the repeating pattern pages are gorgeous and somehow fit into the story.  This particular book has a motif of stars, paper cranes and hot air balloons that appear on each page.

I really enjoyed this coloring book.  Both the story it tells and the beauty of the art.  I am sure it will provide me with many hours of pleasant coloring!  I highly recommend it.  Now if you will excuse me, I need to go start sharpening my colored pencils!

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

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Marked in Ink

This is a review of Marked in Ink by Megan Massacre.
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ 3 stars, I liked it.

Megan Massacre is a tattoo artist on NY Ink & America's Worst Tattoos.  If, like me, you are unfamiliar with those shows, NY Ink is a competition show to find the best tattoo artist and America's Worst Tattoos is a show where good artists cover up bad tattoos.  Megan Massacre has a very popular style of tattoos and has used her style to create this coloring book in hopes that both tattoo artists and tattoo fans will enjoy it.

Marked in Ink is full of delightful coloring pages done in various tattoo styles. There are all kinds of designs from sugar skulls, to animals, to geometric designs.  The designs have more lines than a tattoo generally would, this is to give you more to color when you are using this book.  There are some really cool pages in here.  There is a filigree bat that is pretty awesome, a heart made of waves, and some really detailed dream catchers that I just love!

There are a few things that bother me about this book though.  There are only two pages with text on the design.  One of them is a knife stabbing a heart with the text "Shot through the heart" which makes no sense with a knife in the image.  The other one is a ship being destroyed by a kraken with the words "lost my way" on it.  Again, the text doesn't fit with the image very well.  You can really tell that Megan Massacre really likes sugar skulls and day of the dead designs as there are more of those than anything else.

Some of the designs here are really amazing, others are less so.  As a coloring book they look like great fun to color, as tattoos there are very few I would want to have on my skin permanently.  That is definitely a benefit to having this coloring book!  All the fun of cool tattoos with none of the permanence of a tattoo.  Overall it was a decent coloring book.  It doesn't wow me but it isn't bad either.  If you like sugar skulls and day of the dead designs you will probably like this one a lot!

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

Friday, August 19, 2016

Cook Korean!

This is a review of Cook Korean! by Robin Ha.
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 stars, I loved it.

Cook Korean! is a comic book with recipes.  It says it right on the cover and that is exactly what it is.  Ha drew beautiful comics throughout the entire book.  There are comics that show you how to prepare and cook amazing Korean food, there are comics explaining the historic and cultural significance of the food and other items draw in this book.  It is beautifully drawn and easy to follow.

This cook book is broken down into chapters for kimchi, vegetable side dishes, meat, seafood, soup, porridges, noodles, snacks, drinks & Korean fusion food.  You can start at the beginning or jump around to the recipes that interest you most. 

The introduction chapter gives you a quick rundown of the most common staples in a Korean pantry, the Korean table, the way to cook rice and a breakdown of Korea by region and most common foods.  It is very informative and accompanied by great visuals. 

Each recipe is chapter starts with a quick information page that explains what the foods in the chapter are, when they are eaten, how they are prepared and how to do it in America.  Each recipe has the English name of the food and the Korean name.  Each recipe has a clearly marked ingredient list as well as stating how long the prep takes, how the long the cooking takes and how many people the recipe will serve.  Each step of the instructions is accompanied by an illustration to show how to do something or what it should look like.

I have always been a little intimidated by Korean food.  It looks like it is complicated or takes a long time to prepare.  This cook book breaks down that illusion and shows you how simple it is.  Some things do take a long time to prepare but it appears that a lot of the prep time is actually marinading time where you don't have to do a lot.  I am really excited to give these recipes a try!  First though, I have to make a trip to the Asian grocery store for some Korean food essentials!

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

Monday, August 1, 2016

The Gods Lie

This is a review of The Gods Lie by Kaori Ozaki.
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ 4 stars, I liked it a lot.

 Natsuru Nanao is a 6th grader who lives alone with his mom and just moved to a new town.  His dad passed away when he was little and it is just the two of them.  Natsuru is a good soccer player but he doesn't like his new coach.  He skips his summer soccer camp without telling his mom and spends time with one of his classmates instead.

Her life is very different from his.  She is very responsible.  She does all of the housework and shopping for her household and takes care of her younger brother.  Natsuru enjoys staying with them and fits into their family really well.  There is a terrible secret in her house that could destroy everything, plus his mom doesn't know where he is and the soccer coach called her to ask about refunding the camp fee.  Everything is about to come crashing down on them and reality has an ugly face.

I really enjoyed this book.  The characters are multifaceted and endearing.  The art is wonderful and really moves the story along.  I highly recommend it.  It is really bittersweet and moving.  You should definitely check it out!

Pop Manga Coloring Book

This is a review of Pop Manga Coloring Book by Camilla d'Errico.
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 stars, I loved it.

Camilla d'Errico is a widely acclaimed illustrator who has worked with Dark Horse, Sanrio, Disney, Hasbro & Neil Gaiman.  She has been nominated for several awards.  Her most well known works are her "Rainbow Children" oil paintings with huge eyes and melting rainbows. 

Pop Manga Coloring Book is an adult coloring book unlike any other I have seen.  It is full of gorgeous art that blends cute, creepy, surreal and beautiful all together.  Some pages you have adorable children with creepy monsters, others you have cuddly animals with sad, unsmiling kids.  Each page in this book is amazing.  There are so many little details in each illustration that you could sit and look at each one for ages before remembering that you are trying to color the page.  Many of the pages are done in a sketchy, pencil feeling style.  I love it!  It adds to the surreal feeling of the art and reminds me that this is an unfinished project waiting for me to add the final touches.  The pencil sketch feel adds a soft, home made quality that other coloring books lack, it doesn't feel mechanical or mass produced at all.

Camilla d'Errico has cute little mascots that accompany her work.  The mascot for this book is Ayako.  Ayako pops up periodically to tell you about a piece of art or to remind you that you can color outside the lines.  Pull of the slip cover and look both the cover of the book and the underside of the slip cover.

I love this coloring book.  It has an amazing blend of feelings in it.  It isn't just candy sweet art or super creepy.  It blends them together in a a unique way that comes out gorgeous.  I honestly can't wait to drag out my colored pencils and start coloring!  The only downside I see is choosing which page to color first!

I got this book free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.