Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Magical Girl Apocalypse volume 2

This is a review for Magical Girl Apocalypse vol. 2 by Kentaro Sato.
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ 4 stars, I liked it a lot.

"Death By A Thousand Cuties!"

Spoiler Warning!
This is a review for the second volume in a series.  To read my review of the first volume click here: Volume 1 If you choose to read the review for the second volume first you may find some spoilers for the first volume!

Synopsis:  In what is continuing to be the weirdest day of his like Kii Kogami and the few survivors he was able to find have taken refuge in a mall.  The mall may not be as safe as they hope and the Magical Girls aren't the only problems the ragtag band of survivors have to face.  They have to band together and start thinking about what they know about the magical menace if they want to survive.

This volume continues to be equal parts hilarious, disgusting and over the top ridiculous.  There are numerous pop culture references made in this volume.  New kinds of magical girls are appearing and the plot seems to be progressing nicely.  It isn't just mindless running from certain death, the characters are searching for ways to win and survive the apocalypse. 

As I said before, if you are looking for the next "Sailor Moon" keep going.  If you liked "Love in Hell" or "High School of the Dead" you will probably like this series.  It is definitely still not for those with weak stomachs!

Trigger Warning: there is an attempted rape in this volume.


This is a review for Draw-a-saurus by James Silvani
I give this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 stars, I loved it.

About the Author: James Silvani is an artist and illustrator who has done work for Warner Brothers, Disney, Dreamworks, Lucasfilm and Marvel Comics.  He lives in Hawaii and is an excellent dinosaur artist.

This book will help you draw all of the prehistoric reptiles you could ever want.  It starts you at the beginning with gathering your supplies and leads you all the way through to the very end with composing your backgrounds and adding fine details to your drawing.  The dinosaurs are split into logical groups and basic instruction is provided for each type of dinosaur along with variations.  Where it is possible Silvani has included a current animal to use as a reference, even if that reference only applies to skin texture or joint shape. 

This book is liberally peppered with interesting facts about dinosaurs and lots of humor.  Silvani does absolutely nothing to curb the artistic tangents you might find yourself on while drawing dinosaurs.  Dinosaurs with the coloring of cows? Dinosaurs doing the hokey pokey? Dinosaurs skipping through fields picking blueberries? Dinosaurs in spaaaaaaaaace?  Do what you want to do with your dinosaurs, Silvani is just here to help you make them look good!

I may be slightly biased in my assessment of this book because his work was a big part of my childhood.  However, I think this book is excellent!  I wish this book had been available when I was in first grade and utterly obsessed with dinosaurs, my drawings could definitely have used the help!  I can't wait for my second grader to get home from school to see his reaction to this book, he is going to love it!  If you want to learn to draw dinosaurs or if you have a child that wants to learn to draw dinosaurs this book is one you should definitely get!

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

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Magical Girl Apocalypse

This is a review for Magical Girl Apocalypse by Kentaro Sato.
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ 4 stars, I liked it a lot.

"Not your mommy's magical girls!"

Synopsis:  Kii Kogami is your average high school boy.  His life is pretty boring, not much exciting happens to him.  He is a bit of a coward and more than a bit girl crazy, his grades aren't great and he doesn't study very much.  Kii's average boring life is about to change.

I am not generally a fan of magical girl anime or manga.  Prepubescent girls in ridiculous clothes with pink sparkly magic wands and magical make up and clothing transformations don't really interest me.

Seven Seas Entertainment doesn't usually publish typical magical girl manga so I knew this would be different.  The creepy magical girl with enormous dead looking eyes on the cover also clued me in to the fact that this was definitely NOT typical magical girl manga.

This manga is equal parts hilarious, disgusting and ridiculous, and it is a winning combination.  It has all the blood, gore and violence of a zombie story while also being funny and all of the dead eyed magical girls running around causing mayhem just add to this manga's charm.  I read this late at night and I was giggling into a pillow like a loon while I tried to avoid waking everyone in the house up with my laughter.

If you like an irreverent story or a zombie apocalypse you should check this one out!  There is a lot of gore though so this definitely isn't for those prone to fainting or with weak stomachs!  If you are looking for the next "Sailor Moon" keep looking but if you liked "Love in Hell" you will probably like "Magical Girl Apocalypse"!

The Maze Runner

This is a review for The Maze Runner by James Dashner.
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 stars, I loved it.

Synopsis: Thomas wakes up in a moving freight elevator and can't remember anything about himself except his name.  When the lift stops and he is helped out of the box he is met by a bunch of other boys just like himself, no one can remember anything about their lives before the elevator.  The world he is living in now is called The Glade and it is surrounded by a giant wall.  Outside the wall is The Maze, the walls of the Maze change every day.  At night there are monsters in the maze but the boys living in the Glade are safe inside the walls.  The day after Thomas arrives the lift arrives again with a girl, the first one to ever be sent up, and an ominous message that everything is going to change.

I have been wanting to read this book since my husband dragged me to see the movie, usually I prefer to read the book before seeing the movie.  There are a lot of differences between the two mediums.  As is usually the case with me, I much preferred the book.  Because I saw the movie before reading the book I think I will always see Dylan O'Brien as Thomas and Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Newt but that isn't really a problem for me!

The plot is interesting and keeps you hanging on waiting for the next piece of the puzzle to fall into place.  The gladers have a very well thought out organizational and governing system.  The book takes place two years after the first group of boys woke up in the Glade so they have had time to establish rules for living in the Glade and they have explored the Maze looking for a way out many times.  They have developed much of their own slang and worked out ways to deal with their missing memories but they all to go home above all else.

The monsters that wander the Maze at night are terrifying.  The reason the boys were placed in the Glade is even more terrifying.  The epilogue opens the most terrifying thought of all and demands that I read the next book as soon as possible!

I really enjoyed this book, if you enjoy dystopian fantasies you should definitely check this book out! 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Sugar Rush

This is a review for Sugar Rush by Johnny Iuzzini.
I give this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ 4 stars, I liked it a lot.

About the Author:  Johnny Iuzzini is the executive pastry chef of the world-renowned Jean Georges restaurant in New York City.  He was a judge on Top Chef: Just Desserts and he won the award for Outstanding Pastry Chef from the James Beard Foundation in 2006.

This cookbook starts out with custards & creamy desserts because the first thing Iuzzini learned to make was ice cream.  After creamy desserts it goes into eggs & meringue, then caramel, cakes, cupcakes and so on all the way through to the finishing touches of glazes, frostings, fillings and sauces.  The final chapter is one of the most useful "building a balanced dessert," where he goes into detail about how to balance flavors and textures to make truly stunning desserts. 

Iuzzini says "Plain sugar cookies, no matter how well they are made, are a bit boring to me."  This feeling seems to run through the book.  There are not a lot of basic recipes, most of the recipes have a twist or unexpected ingredient that make them exciting.

There are tons of photos in this book.  Many cookbooks only feature a photo of the finished product which, while being pretty is not especially useful.  There are some recipes in this book that only have a finished product photo but not all of them.  Recipes that are more complicated or rely on visual cues to tell if they are ready have step by step photos.  The directions for these recipes are really good.  There is no "fold in one egg, beat in cream, add sugar."  Recipes like that can be very frustrating.  Iuzzini is more detailed in his directions, he goes so far as to tell you what speed to use the mixer on, what tool to use for each step and he gives a lot of additional tips.

Some of the recipes in this book are very ambitious, some will require every baking tool and clean pan in your house.  The recommended tools page is very lengthy and the shopping list could make your checkbook run for cover.  While he recommends expensive tools he is quite clear that you can do everything in the book without them as well.

I haven't tried every recipe in this book, there are too many to try and get a review written in a decent amount of time.  There are a lot of great recipes in here and choosing which one to try next is definitely the hardest part!

This book may not be the best one for you if you have never attempted to bake in your life.  If you have baked and want to elevate your desserts to the next level this is definitely the book for you.

I received this book from blogging for books in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Case of the Cursed Dodo

This is a review for The Case of the Cursed Dodo, The Endangered Files #1 by Jake G. Panda.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ 4 stars, I liked it a lot.

Jake G. Panda is a hard nosed old fashioned Detective.  Oh and he is also a panda bear.  Jake is the resident detective for The Last Resort hotel for endangered animal, where the hotel guests are all endangered animals hiding from extinction.

Jake is searching for his missing friend known as "The Professor."  Along the way he makes new friends and runs into old enemies.  The Professor found an old suitcase in the desert and everyone wants to get their hands on it.  Jake has to sort out all of the clues to find the rightful owner and protect him and the case from the bad guys and goons. The solution to this book is not as clear cut as it seems in the beginning, there are several twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the end!

I liked this book quite a lot.  It is a unique new take on an old style of storytelling.  The story is told in the style of old detective movies.  There are screen cues in the story and it uses some turns of phrase that aren't common anymore.  There are several changes in perspective but with the screen cues it is very easy to tell whose perspective the story is being told from.  The story telling style makes this book stand out.

I like that all of the characters are animals.  It added a cute element to the old fashioned detective story.  The animals all have their own personalities, motivations and unique voices.

This book is intended for middle grade readers.  This book would be a great tie in for discussions on endangered animals, extinct animals and wildlife conservation.  Nearly all of the characters in this book are endangered animals.  I recommend this book to every parent with a child who likes mysteries and detective stories. I look forward to seeing more of Jake G. Panda's adventures.

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