Monday, September 25, 2017

Review: "Love & Gelato"

Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
3 out of 5 stars

Love & Gelato was sweet but lacked substance and left you wanting something solid afterwards. How's that for a metaphor? ;) Okay, but really...this was a decent book, I wanted a bit more out of it, and desperately wanted gelato in Italy while reading it. So prepare accordingly. Trust me!

The book centers on 16 year old Lina, who has just lost her mom to cancer a few months prior. Her mom's last wish was for Lina to go to Italy and get to know her father, the amazingly sweet and tall Howard. She's not too thrilled about it, especially when she finds out he lives and works in a graveyard. Of course, the cute boy down the road makes it all better right? Right.

The love story is light and fluffy, but I didn't really care about it too much. Honestly, Anna & The French Kiss is a far superior "American in a foreign country" love story. Lina's relationship with Howard and her journey thru her mom's old journal are the real interesting parts. And of course, the touristy and eating bits. Those were drool-worthy descriptions.

It was like walking through a scene from an Italian movie. The street was lined with clothing stores and little coffee shops and restaurants, and people kept calling to one another from windows and cars. Halfway down the street a horn beeped politely and everyone cleared out of the street to make way for an entire family crowded onto a scooter. There was even a string of laundry hanging between two buildings, a billowy red housedress flapping right in the middle of it. Any second now a director was going to jump out and yell, Cut!

“So... Italian gelato. Take the deliciousness of a regular ice-cream cone, 
times it by a million, then sprinkle it with crushed-up unicorn horns.”

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Review: "Stacey's Choice: The Baby-Sitters Club #58"

Stacey's Choice: The Baby-Sitters Club #58 by Ann M Martin
2 out of 5 stars

This is such a classic BSC cover. Their outfits are a little understated for their personalities, but it's still quintessential BSC. And that is the best thing I'll say about this book, unfortunately. I've hit a string of duds lately. But they're also not as well-known to me, which is kind of nice.

The story opens with Stacey and Mallory walking home from school and enjoying the crisp autumn air. I am so ready for fall and Halloween, it is not even funny! I've been stockpiling Halloween decorations for my new apartment for weeks now. It's going to be awesome. :) And now I'm trying to remember if there are any BSC Halloween books? Why can't I think of any? Anyway, the girls are walking home, Stacey loves math, Mallory has a lot of siblings, etc. Stacey gets home and her mom is there and looks really tired and worn down. She went on two job interviews and goes to take a nap. I always remember her mom working at Bellair's but she doesn't get that job til the end of this book. So I obviously read plenty of books after this one.

Stacey's "Old Dad" calls her and tells her he got a huge promotion at work, with a raise, and they're having a big dinner for him. He wants Stacey to come to the city for the weekend and be his date and even tells her to buy a new outfit. Which is as good a time as any to do What Stacey Wore to the dinner.

"Zingy's! That's all punk stuff!" (Mary Anne)
"I like to think of myself as the Sherlock Holmes of fashion," [Stacey said] "I'll put together the perfect outfit at Zingy's. Trust me. It'll be perfect for me and my dad."
By the time I left I was carrying a shopping bag in which were folded a hot pink (fake) silk jacket which fell to my knees, new black leggings, pink-and-black socks, and a black body suit. I planned to wear the outfit with black flats, and to dress it up with some jewelry and maybe a couple of barrettes in my hair.

The girls go shopping at the mall for Stacey's outfit and hit the new restaurant, The Rosebud Cafe. (Another thing I remember being there forever.) This is another classic BSC moment, the girls at the mall. It brought back memories of the hundreds of times I went to the mall with friends and my sister. Mall rats of the 90s unite!! :D

Okay, so let's get to the main story-line finally. "Stacey's choice" Stacey is at school when she gets called to the office over the loud speaker (tre embarrassing). The secretary tells her that her mom collapsed during an interview and that Mrs Pike is on her way to take Stacey to the hospital to see her mom. She's frantic, of course, and thinks the worst. But Mrs McGill just has pneumonia. Which okay, is pretty bad, but I feel like Stacey went waaay overboard. She stays home from school, sets up a schedule of adult sitters when she does have to go back to school, and decides to cancel her trip to NYC. Which of course pisses her dad off. And Stacey says some ugly stuff: "Maybe if you weren't a workaholic, there'd be something more in your life. But you're married to your job." ooh, harsh!!

In baby-sitting news, all the neighborhood kids are obsessed with ordering free/cheap crap from magazines. Like a stamp licker, bust developer, moondust, you know...crap. It's all fun at first, especially when they start getting the stuff in the mail. Who doesn't love fun mail?? But then they run out of money and they finally realize they don't need all this junk or it doesn't work or they're not that special with their moondust. And hey, they really want a yo-yo, the cool new fad. So they gather all their junk together and come up with a travelling road show, with skits and dances, to pawn their useless crap on other people. No one wants it of course, but they do pay for the performances. (The Pike triplets rap. I see a Vanilla Ice-esque career in their future.) In the end, the kids make back their money and get their yo-yos and everyone's happy.

Back with Stacey, she finally decides to go to NYC for the dinner on Friday night and come straight back home Saturday morning. Good compromise, right? Well, the train is late, there's traffic, Stacey has to iron her outfit, and they get to the dinner about 15 minutes late. Stacey gets up multiple times during the dinner to check on her mom and then wants to leave at like 10:00, before the fun even starts. Her dad is naturally annoyed, but Stacey doesn't care. There's a weird part at the train station where Stacey questions what happens to the homeless people when they die and no one ever hears about it. Morbid much? Stacey gives a guy five bucks and her dad tells her she "can't take care of everybody"; she replies "but I can try". Wow, subtle Stace.

A week or two go by, Stacey's mom is all better, Stacey hasn't talked to her dad, and Claudia buys the kids' wrinkle-away lol. (Trust me, it's never too early to start preventative measures!) Stacey realizes she shouldn't have had to choose between her parents and makes up with her dad. The end. Oh! There's baby pictures in the back of this one, I guess they started doing that now. Kind of fun.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Review: "The Ghost Bird/Academy" series books 1-10

The Ghost Bird series by CL Stone
4 stars average!!

A review in picture/collage form. I can't say a whole lot about this series without spoiling it majorly. I've read the first book 6 times in 3 years. That should tell you something, right? Sang Sorenson is a quiet, mysterious girl with a troubled family life. She doesn't know how to interact with people but is desperate for friendship. She gets that and more when she meets Kota Lee and his group of friends. But this group has their own secrets and it could cause even more trouble for Sang. Is it worth it? (click any of the pics to make bigger)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

TILT: Book Posters #15

Bookish artwork is one of my favorite things. I get so inspired by some of them and others I want to buy and hang on my wall so I can look at every day. I've got several prints already that I need to hang up soon and share with you all, but I want more! (I feel like Veruca Salt when I say that.) So today's Things I Love Thursday is going to feed that want. :) Do you have a favorite bookish print/poster/art piece? I'd love to see it!

(if you do not want your art shared, please contact me & I will take it down!)

Unfortunately, I could not find sources for these first 3 prints, which is super annoying. If you know any of these sources, please please share so I can link back to them!

1. I am so looking forward to Friday so I can cuddle up with my boyfriend and his doggies and relax with a good book...and probably some Doctor Who. :) It's been a long week already and I'm ready for the weekend!

2. I'm missing my book kitty, Binky, lately. We had to put him to sleep in February...he was almost 18 years old! This is the last pic I took of him I think, crying to get him out of that chair lol.

3. I wonder if this is actually a fabric print? That would make such a cute dress, especially for librarians!

4. This print by Igor Morski is magical, letting books carry you away to far-off lands.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Review: "Dawn Saves the Planet: The Baby-Sitters Club #57"

2 out of 5 stars

For the love of Ben Brewer's ghost, this book is boring! I'm really starting to dislike Dawn's books. Look how snooty she looks on the cover. That just tells you everything right there. But I guess we should go a bit further than that or there wouldn't be any point to these reviews would there?

Okay, it starts out with Dawn in science class and her teacher asking them if they think kids can save the planet. Of course, Dawn says yes and then we get a huge lecture (one of many) on all the ways we're killing the planet. They get an assignment to come up with a project that will help save the planet and Dawn's little blonde Cali brain gets awhirling.

"Guess what?" "I'm going to save the planet."
Claudia just blinked her dark eyes at me and said, "It's about time."
[Kristy] "I was going to save it but I have a big softball game this afternoon."

We don't even have any Claudia outfits in this book but luckily Stacey steps up her A-game. Today she was wearing floral leggings, a pink shirt with big sleeves, and a long vest covered in antique pins. A black fedora with a red cloth rose was perched on top of her shoulder length hair. (I had to add those shoes, those were quintessential 90s girl shoes lol.)
Dawn is baby-sitting for the Barrett kids (Marnie doesn't even make her "ham face" jeez) when she gets the idea for her project: teach an after-school ecology class to the kids they baby-sit for. Because you know, everything revolves around these kids. That generation is going to be the most spoiled, entitled citizens of Stoneybrook ever. She asks Stacey to help, since she has the same teacher, and they get the okay from their teacher. The girls hug in the hallway at school when they get the news and Brent Jensen and Todd Long nudge each other, smirking. Are they thinking what I think they're thinking? For shame, ghost writers, for shame.

The girls decide to do six weeks of lessons, each focusing on a different aspect like air pollution, recycling, etc...and have a Green Fair at the end. Because it's not a real project/idea unless it ends in a festival held in someone's backyard. The girls are so excited they immediately start calling kids to get them signed up. Luckily, they start with Kristy and David Michael because she quickly kills their mood by pointing out they haven't worked out any of the logistics. She's such a bummer all the time.

So they get 13 kids signed up and start their classes with making everyone put on KIDS CARE badges. So people can identify them in public and stuff. They get a little sidetracked when they say pollution is invisible, like ghosts, and that sets off a rumble with the smaller kids like Andrew. He looked over his shoulder and muttered, "I don't like ghosts." The kids are all gung-ho about their special projects and everything is going great.

Until Dawn starts to get a little bossy and Miss-Know-It-All. She gets to the next BSC meeting early and sees Claudia making dough earrings (not cookies) shaped like dogs and cats that she can paint. But then Claud pulls out some candy and Dawn freaks out on her because it's over-packaged, all individually wrapped. "I'm making art," Claudia replied, "and Dawn's giving me a lecture about garbage."

She just keeps getting worse from there and there's really no point repeating it all. So here's some random stuff to keep it going:

-The Ohdner kids have the measles. But it's okay, because we've never heard of them.
-Jessi is taking a special ballet class with Frederick Duvall (foreshadowing?).
-Dawn wants to turn the middle school into a recycling center for the town. She berates Mary Anne in front of everyone for only writing on the front of her paper.
-The Pike kids go overboard as usual and turn into the Green Meanies and make their parents and siblings take ecology lessons.
-Shawna Riverson's locker is a pigsty, with month old hamburger wrappers. Gross.
-Woody Jefferson (who are all these new boys??) and Trever Sandbourne bring brie cheese, pate, and a bottle of sparkling cider to lunch and enjoy a picnic with tablecloth, silverware, and wine glasses.

Dawn takes her recycling idea to Mr Kingbridge, the vice-principal. Do we know who the principal is? Mr Kingbridge is always mentioned as the head honcho. He likes the idea, of course, but wants to make sure there is enough student interest so he puts it to a vote. Dawn starts campaigning but pushes way too hard and even makes Mary Anne stalk off in a huff. The recycling project gets a huge vote yes from students, but they vote the science teacher as the project leader instead of Dawn and she's super upset about it. Then she overhears that cow Cokie Mason talking to her sidekick Grace Blume and they call her obnoxious and that just pushes her over the edge. She basically decides she wants nothing else to do with it now, because she's a big baby, not laid-back and chill at all.

The recycling center opens with a big hoopla, Dawn gets no credit at all for it, and whines about it a lot. She pushes people away even more with the kids' Green Fair, assuming all the other BSCers will help out when they already have plans. Stacey finally blows up at Dawn, telling her what a recycling cow she's been, and Dawn's like "oh". She realizes that they were all right, she was being a cow (except she doesn't eat meat, so she was being...tofu?) She calms down, the kids' fair goes off great, Stacey & Dawn turn in a 30 PAGE REPORT for their class (printed twice and you know that crap wasn't double-sided), her teacher asks her to co-chair the recycling program if she can tone down the obnoxiousness, and it's all good. And when you work together, you can do almost anything. Even save a planet.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Best Reads of 2017 So Far!

It's a freebie week over on The Broke & The Bookish for Top Ten Tuesday so I decided to make it easy on myself and do my 10 best reads for 2017 so far. I've read 85 books this year, which has me well on target for my Goodreads challenge of 100 books. (I'll probably cap out at around 150 actually, with the BSC books.) I won't include rereads in this list, so that means I've only got one 5 star book for this year. But lots and lots of 4 stars.

1. Some Kind of Perfect by Krista & Becca Ritchie --this was the last book in the Calloway/Addicted dual series and it was, like the title, absolutely perfect. I'll be reviewing this whole series soon, but I'll just say it is destined to be a favorite series for me.

2. Paper Girls vol 1 & 2 by Brian K Vaughan --I always love his comics, so it's no surprise that I loved this new series as well. Set in the 80s, it's got lots of fun nostalgia along with the suspense and intrigue.

3. Princess Jellyfish vol 3 by Akiko Higashimura --I just spoke about my love for this series yesterday and volume 3 did not disappoint.

4. Leave Me by Gayle Forman --ever want to run away from your life? Of course you do. We all do. This book explores what happens when a mom does exactly that and what the consequences are.

5. Three Days to Never by Tim Powers --my boyfriend bought me this book as it is one of his favorites and then waited anxiously to see what I thought of it. Luckily, I loved it. It's a good mixture of science fiction, actual science, fantasy, and time-travel.

6. I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak --I started reading this several years ago, after I loved The Book Thief so much, but then never got into it for some reason. My dad read it this year and told me I needed to read it, so I borrowed his copy and devoured it. The ending will leave you all twisted inside but it's worth it! Maybe everyone can live beyond what they're capable of.

7. Snotgirl vol 1 by Bryan Lee O'Malley --this is one of those ones that my sister picked out for me, based solely on the cover, and I ended up really enjoying. I'll review it soon, but the premise seems ridiculous at first: a fashion blogger with striking green hair has allergies. Seriously, that's it. But I promise it's more than that!

8. A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody --I just reviewed this book last week but I really enjoyed it! It's a great, light read and definitely recommend it.

9. Motor Girl by Terry Moore --I've made clear my love for Terry Moore's graphic novels before, so it's a given that I'll enjoy his new series too. I'm actually excited to read this as all one volume, instead of the single issues, I think it'll be even better and more cohesive that way.

10.Texas Homecoming by Maggie Shayne --if you're looking for a good old-fashioned romance series, Shayne's Texas & Oklahoma Brands (2 different series, but cross over a bit) are the way to go. Cowboys, bad guys, women that need rescuing, cute babies, it's all there.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Review: "Princess Jellyfish vol 2"

Princess Jellyfish vol 2 by Akiko Higashimura
3.5 out of 5 stars

I purchased the first volume of this manga for my younger sister last year and while I'm not sure if she's even read it yet, I have become a big fan. There's something whimsical and sweet about Tsukimi and her clan of Amars. This review will have spoilers for vol 1, so I would definitely stop here and go read my review for it first if you are interested in reading it. And if you're completely new to manga and anime, go check out my beginner's guide that I wrote with the help of my siblings!

This volume picks up where the last ended, with Kuranosuke trying to convince the girls to buy their apartment building so it doesn't get turned into some swanky hotel or parking garage or something. Of course, the girls have no money (you know, since they don't have jobs) so they have to start thinking outside the box. Kuranosuke gets them a spot at a local flea market and tries to sell some old tea sets they found in the attic, but it's actually Tsukimi's little jellyfish plushies that start selling. That gets the ideas flowing and soon they are making jellyfish-inspired dresses. Love.

In romance news, the love triangle (more like a love square?) is still going strong. Kuranosuke doesn't understand how or why he's having these feelings for plain "before" Tsukimi, Tsukimi is still infatuated with K's brother, who is having his own issues after being blackmailed by that suit-wearing temptress. Things get crazy and confusing for awhile and not totally resolved (obviously, or the story would be over).

This volume isn't quite as good as the first but I still enjoyed it. I loved seeing Tsukimi "awaken" and use her passion to help her roommates. And as always, the artwork is exquisite, in particular the color pages. It's also hard to say a lot about the story itself without spoiling a bunch of stuff. So just take my word for it and go read it! :D