Thursday, August 27, 2015

Book Review: The Slippery Slope (A series of Unfortunate Events #10)

The Slippery Slope (#10)
by  Lemony Snicket
Date Read:  8/24/15
Rating: ★ ★ 

The Slippery Slope starts out where the Carnivorous Carnival ended.  I can’t believe how much better and more exciting these books have gotten over the course of the last few books. If you stopped after 4 or 5 books, I really encourage you to stick it out because the story line gets so much better!  The mystery gets deeper! Plot twists and surprises occur!

The Baudelaires are still on their mission to figure out the mystery of VFD but now they have been separated again.  Some of the characters from previous books show up in this story (though that part almost seems unimportant in the end, other than disliking that character even more).

There is a huge plot twist and surprise regarding who Klaus and Violet’s guide is. Though, I guessed before it was revealed, I wasn’t expecting it until we met this person in this book.  [SPOILER: I was so happy to see Quigley hadn’t died! And the scene with Violet and him melted my heart. But of course, because there was a shred of happiness there, Snicket couldn’t leave us with that – and had to make Quigley get lost in the Stricken Stream.  END SPOILER]

I absolutely love Sunny’s vocabulary development.   In this book, she uses the word “Bicuspid” for saying that she can use her teeth to do something and she says “Baba Ganoush” when referring to the eggplant.  A lot of those words will go over a child’s head and still seem like gibberish, but it adds an extra level of comedy for the adults reading the books.

In this one, the characters get some more answers, but of course more questions are posed. As we get closer to the end though, we’re finally starting to get the answers, rather than just hinting at things.  Why is the sugar bowl so important???

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Book Review: The Poison Apples Club

The Poison Apples Club
by  Lily Archer
Date Read:  8/22/15
Rating: ★ 

So, this book is called the Poison Apples and there is a blurb on the cover that says “Evil Stepmothers, BEWARE” and on the back of the book it says they make a cunning plan to exact their revenge.  So I was excited to read a fun semi-considered fairytale twist about these girls who have a grand plan for revenge against their evil stepmothers. I expected the plot to be about the revenge plan and then of course the girls realizing that revenge is not satisfying. 

BUT that is not what this story is about AT ALL.  I actually feel lied to.  Even the thought of revenge didn’t enter in to the book until 80% finished.  Then there is one chapter where they plan; and it’s not even a good plan. They didn’t even have specific details as to how to exact this revenge. How is that a “cunning plan”?  The each girl had ONE chapter, ONE, in which they were supposed to exact their revenge. And one wrap up chapter. That’s it.

The rest of the book was actually about the girls backstories, and then them meeting and hating each other and then finally becoming friends.  So this book is really just a story about girls dealing with life and making new friends. There was really no need for those last 5 chapters.  I think it was just the way that the author chose to semi-fix the characters family lives.

I didn’t feel that the characters sounded different enough. I couldn’t keep straight which back story applied to which girl. The only one I could sort of keep straight was Reena, since she was Indian and had Shanti Shruti for her step-mom.  And I generally didn’t know which girl was speaking.

I didn’t particularly care for certain aspects of the book either – such as smoking being cool, a girl complaining she was experienced enough in sex, hitting on a teacher, etc.

I realized about halfway through that I think I have a British version of the novel.  My first instinct was the fact that smoking was cool. But there were just several words or phrases here or there that were weird to me. I confirmed that it was printed in the UK.

I also didn’t believe the evilness of the stepmothers.  Most of what they did really wasn’t that bad. And honestly, what they should have been really upset about is the fact that their dad’s didn’t stand up for them.  They need to fix their relationship with their father rather than take everything out on the stepmother.

While this was a quick read, I still feel like I wasted a lot of time reading it, and I don’t like feeling like I was lied to.  There was absolutely no reason it should have been called the Poison Apples Club (it was only part of 15% of the entire story – how is that the title?!!!).

I wouldn’t waste my time on this.  There are many other good books that would be a better use of your time.

11 Months Old!

I’m starting to get sentimental about Brooklyn turning 1.  I realized this month that she will no longer be a baby; she will be a toddler.  While toddler-hood brings new excitement and milestones, I can’t believe her infancy went so fast.  Just one more month.  30 days.

 Monday marked Brooklyn’s 11 months.  We have been busy this month getting ready for her party – who knew so much would go in to getting ready for a one year old’s party!!

 This month Brooklyn got very confident and strong in her cruising (walking while holding on to furniture).  She also still really liked the “trust” game where she would turn to me and take a step then fall forward – knowing I wouldn’t let her fall on her face.  But here’s the great news – I took her pictures on Sunday and posted them a day early since Monday is a work day…and Sunday NIGHT she took her first steps!!!  I figured her first steps would be to a dog instead of us…but it was to the dog that doesn’t like her! Brooklyn is determined to make Cinder like her all the time, rather than just at meal times.  I think Cinder will love Brooklyn once she can start throwing the ball for her.

This month Brooklyn had 3 more teeth pop through!  We’d been expecting the top ones to come through since our trip to Florida at the end of June…but it finally popped through while we were camping – 30 minutes away on a tight and winding road to a store for Baby Tylenol. So we suffered through a night of fussiness.  Once that came through, about 2 weeks later two more are coming now.  She has 2 on top and 3 on the bottom now – though you can’t quite see them in the pictures yet.

We’ve been working with Brooklyn on her body parts.  If you ask her where her ear, leg or foot are, she will point to them.  Sometimes she gets shy though and won’t do it.  She especially enjoys pointing at her ear.  I think this month we may try belly button!

She has started mimicking everything now.  I especially noticed it with her hairbrush and toothbrush.  She’ll follow your lead on just about anything now.  I think she’s hit the stage where she wants to act like a big girl, so she copies everything mommy and daddy do.

And of course, just this week she learned how much fun it is to feed the dogs her food.  If you’re on facebook, you’ve already seen the video.  She doesn’t feed them everything – I’ve figured out that she’s only willing to share certain foods with them, but she thinks it utterly hilarious.  The full video is about twice as long, but blogger limits the size to 100MB so I had to cut it down.  You'll get the gist of it though - Enjoy!

This month we also built her playhouse.  We bought it at Costco a few months ago (if you don’t buy it when you see it, it will be gone the next time you’re there), but we didn’t want to put it together until it was closer to when she could use it.  It was a lot more work than we anticipated, but it looks so great.  I can’t wait for it to cool down a little more so I can plant some flowers and Brooklyn can actually play in it.  We’re going to put the house in the backyard near the garden fence. Then I will make a flower garden around it and build a mailbox for her.  Make it her very own space.

Well, with just 1 month left, party preparations are in full swing.  The invitations have been ordered and will be mailed out over the weekend. I think they turned out great. We spent some time at Thunderbird park two weekends ago taking pictures for her invitations.  Here is a sneak peak.

Can’t wait to see what changes in the next month as Brooklyn transitions from baby to toddler!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Book Review: The Carnivorous Carnival (A series of Unfortunate Events #9)

The Carnivorous Carnival (#9)
by  Lemony Snicket
Date Read:  8/10/15
Rating: ★ ★ 

I’m starting to really enjoy these books now. In this story, the Baudelaire’s had to disguise themselves this time, to hide from Count Olaf and try to determine where to look for the survivor of the fire.

This book has been the longest book so far in the series, a total of 5 hours / 5 discs, but it felt like we blew through this.  It has been a while since someone was killed violently. Jacques Snicket died in The Vile Village, but he didn’t burn at the stake like I thought he would. So, while sad, it was almost refreshing for someone to be eaten by lions!  These poor kids have seen more (and very violent) death than anyone in the world (expect perhaps soldiers in war). 

Again, I’m really enjoying the mystery and seeing a few things unravel here and there. I can’t wait to see what comes next. I actually liked that the tables turned in this book, and the kids had to disguise themselves against Olaf – but honestly, how did he fall for those disguises?!

I expect things to really ramp up from here. I think we’ll start seeing more of the mystery unveil. This seems to be getting more mature as the stories progress – the plot is actually starting to get thick and there are so many layers.  And to think I almost gave up after about book 4 of the same plot line. I urge people to keep reading and pushing through. I think this series is actually going to get pretty good by the end.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Book Review: Hatter M: Far From Wonder #1

Hatter M: Far from Wonder #1
by  Frank Beddor, Liz CavalierBen Templesmith(Illustrator)Sami Makkonen (Illustrator)
Date Read:  8/2/15
Rating: ★ ★ 

I read “The Looking Glass Wars” a while back and remember liking the story. So when my husband picked up this graphic novel, not knowing it was related to The Looking Glass Wars, I had to make sure I read it too before returning it to the library.

This book is in the time period between when he loses Alyss when the escape Wonderland – it is Hatter’s search for Alyss. It’s fun because he goes to so many different places searching for her, and interrogates random people he think are from Wonderland. I really enjoyed the little tid bits when some of those random people end up being famous authors. I thought that was a nice touch.

I did not like the art style at all.  It was actually difficult for me to tell what was going on in some of the frames.  Actually, at the end of the book there was a bunch of random stuff, including original sketches and final colored sketches of characters and scenes, and I was actually able to see more of what was going on in the rough original sketches!  I’m not sure why they decided to go with the style they did – maybe they thought it was more whimsical, good for the Wonderland aspect. But I didn’t care for it at all.

I did like the story about the orphan girl he follows though and some of new characters that were introduced. The story itself wasn’t bad.  At times it was still a little difficult to understand what was going on.  Sometimes 5 pages later I’d finally figure out what happened 5 pages prior.

I think I’ll continue the series though because it was interesting enough. And in the very least it got me interested in that world again, so I plan to pick up the sequels in The Looking Glass Wars series.
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