ANNOUNCEMENT
After a lot of thought, I've decided to take a break from blogging for the foreseeable future. With my little C creeping its way back into my life and possible long term treatment now, I need to take a couple of things off my plate for the time being, and the blog is going to be one of those things. As it is, it felt like it was becoming more of a chore than anything else. I need my reading time to be more enjoyable right now, more of the escape that I really need, and what I don't need is the little voice in the back of my head telling me how many reviews I'm behind and trying to come up with what I need to say about the book.

I simply want to read.

I'll more than likely occasionally post on here what I've been reading, and if there is something that really blows my mind, I'll probably have more to say about it and may write up a proper post, but for right now, things are going to be very quiet around here.

As always, happy reading!
2017 edit
I will continue to blog according to my health and ability, and connecting my posts thru Goodreads, so please be patient if things get quiet around here again this year.


2017 edit #2
I am happy to report that my bone marrow transplant was a success and that I'm feeling more like myself everyday. That said, I'm going to try to start blogging a little more frequently, but please bear with me as I still continue to recover.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Naughty Mabel by Nathan Lane & Devlin Elliott, illustrated by Dan Krall

Naughty Mabel photo 148143022X.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zpsyb0ojqvd.jpgNaughty Mabel
by Nathan Lane & Devlin Elliott, illustrated by Dan Krall
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, October 6, 2015
48 Pages • ISBN 978-1481430227 • Hardcover

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Book description:
Meet Mabel, the fanciest French bulldog the Hamptons have ever seen. Mabel is many things: sassy, classy (and sometimes a bit gassy!), but especially...naughty! Mabel’s always getting herself into trouble—and with style like hers, can you really blame her? When Naughty Mabel’s parents throw a party and try to leave her out of the fun, of course she must take matters into her own perfectly pedicured paws. As the hilarity ensues, Mabel and her parents learn that through thick and thin, naughty or nice, they’ll always be a family, just as they are.


Mabel, a bulldog who lives with her humans in the Hamptons, is naughty. In fact, she's not just naughty, she's VERY naughty. She is constantly getting into trouble, but she can't help it, it's just in her nature.

What could have been a really cute book took an unexpected turn when the story turned to crude humor to get the last laugh. Honestly, I didn't feel that this in any way fit the tone of the rest of the book. It's unfortunate that someone of Nathan Lane's comedic genius would need to turn to something so banal, but here it is; this would have easily been a 4 or more star review from me otherwise.

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Dan Krall's illustrations are full of whimsy and overall, the story was quite charming, espousing the importance of acceptance, family, and love. If it weren't for that one unnecessary turn, this book would have been perfect for me. Hopefully in the next book, Lane and Elliott won't feel the need to reduce the comedy to potty humor.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Fires of Invention: Mysteries of Cove, Book 1 by J. Scott Savage

 photo 1629720925.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zpsj4mlfwyf.jpgFires of Invention: Mysteries of Cove, Book 1
by J. Scott Savage
Published by Shadow Mountain Press, September 29, 2015
316 Pages • ISBN 978-1629720920 • Hardcover
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book description:
Trenton Colman is a creative thirteen-year-old boy with a knack for all things mechanical. But his talents are viewed with suspicion in Cove, a steam-powered city built inside a mountain. In Cove, creativity is a crime and invention is a curse word.

Kallista Babbage is a repair technician and daughter of the notorious Leo Babbage, whose father died in an explosion an event the leaders of Cove point to as an example of the danger of creativity.

Working together, Trenton and Kallista learn that Leo Babbage was developing a secret project before he perished. Following clues he left behind, they begin to assemble a strange machine that is unlikely anything they've ever seen before. They soon discover that what they are building may threaten every truth their city is founded on and quite possibly their very lives.


In a city where creativity and inventiveness is considered illegal, what do you do with an inquisitive mind? Welcome to the hidden city of Cove.

In J. Scott Savage's first installment of his Mysteries of Cove series, Fires of Invention,  we're introduced to Trenton Colman, a curious 13-year-old boy who loves anything mechanical. He knows that he can make the machines that run the city of Cove, hidden away from the outside in the center of a mountain, but the only problem is that creativity is considered a crime in Cove. The city was built inside the mountain to escape the dangers that technology created in the outside world, so everything that deals with how Cove is run and managed is very carefully regulated, and anything that is considered an invention is against the law and the inventor is subject to "retraining".

Immediately at the opening of the book, Trenton in trying his hand at building a mechanized swing, thinking that this can't be that bad. However, when it appears that Trenton's creation causes a power outage in the city, his punishment to fix the problem leads to the discovery of a tool that he is unfamiliar with. Instead of giving it up to the authorities, he decides to try to discover what its purpose is, which leads him tp Kallista Babbage, the daughter of a disgraced inventor. Together, they start to piece together the clues that Kallista's father left her and begin to assemble the machine that is unlike anything seen in Cove.

I think this will be a great book for kids. Filled with plenty of action, mystery, and great characters, Fires of Invention is a great blend of a dystopian and steampunk world. The plot continues to develop at a nice pace as we discover each clue along with Trenton and Kallista, and I think kids will really be intrigued to see how the story unfolds. I'll definitely be checking out the next book.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Star Wars: Smuggler's Run: A Han Solo Adventure by Greg Rucka, illustrated by Phil Noto

Smuggler's Run photo 148472495X.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zpsaljnuvtk.jpgStar Wars: Smuggler's Run: A Han Solo Adventure
by Greg Rucka, illustrated by Phil Noto
Published by Disney Lucasfilm Press, September 4, 2015
192 Pages • ISBN 978-1484724958 • Hardcover

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Book description:
Han Solo and Chewbacca the Wookiee team-up for an all-new adventure in this thrilling upper middle grade novel. Set between Star Wars: A New Hope and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, the story follows everyone's favorite pair of smugglers as they fly the Millennium Falcon on a top-secret mission for the Rebellion. Hidden in the story are also hints and clues about the upcoming film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, making this a must-read for fans old and new!


A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

It is a period of civil war. The heroic freedom fighters of the Rebel Alliance have won their most important visctory thus far with the destruction of the Empire's ultimate weapon, the Death Star.

But the Rebellion has no time to savor its victory. The evil Galactic Empire has recognized the threat the rebels pose, and is now searching the galaxy for any and all information that will lead to the final destruction of the freedom fighters

For the Millennium Falcon's crew, who saved the life of Luke Skywalker during the Battle of Yavin, their involvement with the rebels is at an end. Now Han Solo and Chewbacca hope to take their reward and settle some old debts...

One of a trio of middle grade books released as part of Force Friday and the Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens publishing initiative (the others are Star Wars: Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure and Star Wars: The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure), Greg Rucka's Star Wars: Smuggler's Run: A Han Solo Adventure takes place directly after the events of Episode IV: A New Hope and finds Han Solo and Chewbacca reluctantly taking up what should be an easy rescue mission for the Rebellion. Of course, things don't go according to plan, and Han and Chewie find themselves the targets of not only a band of bounty hunters sent by Jabba the Hutt, but also the Empire, as Imperial officer Alecia Beck tries to capture both Han and Chewie as well as the Rebel they are trying to rescue.

While this is a short book, Rucka clearly knows Star Wars: Han and Chewie feel and act like themselves; the Millennium Falcon is practically a character unto itself; the galaxy feels large; the Empire is relentless and imposing. Even the new characters introduced felt like they belonged in the Star Wars universe. The story is just plain fun and fast-paced, if not abruptly ended, but it still feels like a complete story. The prologue and epilogue bookending the main story are set in the time frame of Episode VII: The Force Awakens and while they don't give us any concrete clues to the upcoming movie, you do get a little taste of what Han and Chewie are like.

While Smuggler's Run is marketed as a middle grade book and it isn't a necessary read for the overall Star Wars story, it's an engaging adventure that will entertain any Star Wars fan, young or old. For me, it fell squarely between Moving Target (the best of the trio) and The Weapon of a Jedi (the weakest of them). I'll definitely be picking up Rucka's Star Wars: Shattered Empire when it is released, a graphic novel set directly after the destruction of the second Death Star.

A note on the design of the book: All three of the middle grade books are packaged similarly, each set up in three parts with a prologue and an epilogue. Before each section there is an illustration by Phil Noto that is presented in greyscale with red highlighted areas. The red is reflected throughout the chapter openers, as well as the dust jacket covers and the boards of the book. The entire thing comes together in such an impressive package. I'm hoping that if they do anymore middle grade adventures of other Star Wars characters that they keep this same packaging throughout, as it is top notch.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Star Wars: The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure by Jason Fry, illustrated by Phil Noto

The Weapon of a Jedi photo 1484724968.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zpsld9zbyaf.jpgStar Wars: The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure
by Jason Fry, illustrated by Phil Noto
Published by Disney Lucasfilm Press, September 4, 2015
192 Pages • ISBN 978-1484724965 • Hardcover

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Book description:
Luke Skywalker returns for an all-new adventure in this thrilling upper middle grade novel. Set between Star Wars: A New Hope and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, the story finds Luke Skywalker, C-3PO, and R2-D2 stranded on a mysterious planet, and explores a dangerous duel between Luke and a strange new villain. Hidden in the story are also clues and hints about the upcoming film Star Wars: The Force Awakens, making this a must-read for fans old and new!


A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

The Rebel Alliance has destroyed the Empire's dreaded Death Star, but the galaxy remains convulsed by civil war, and the Imperial starfleet is hunting the rebels throughout the galaxy.

Luke Skywalker, the pilot who destroyed the Death Star, is now hailed as a hero. But Luke seeks only to support the freedom fighters, serving the Rebellion behind the controls of his X-wing fighter.

Even as he flies alongside the pilots of Red Squadron, Luke feels stirrings in the mystical energy field known as the Force. And this farm boy turned fighter pilot begins to suspect that his destiny lies along a different path...

One of a trio of middle grade books released as part of Force Friday and the Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens publishing initiative (the others are Star Wars: Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure and Star Wars: Smuggler's Run: A Han Solo Adventure), Jason Fry's Star Wars: The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure tales place between the events of Episode IV: A New Hope and Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and finds Luke Skywalker, C-3PO, and R2-D2 stranded on a planet that Luke feels the Force is trying to get him to go to, only to discover a lost Jedi temple there.

This is a short book, and it feels like it. While Smuggler's Run, at the same page count, felt like a complete story, this feels like we are only being shown the highlights of Luke's time in the Jedi temple. While it is written as if only a short time is spent in the temple, I feel like this entire time frame could have been built up a little; Luke seems to move much too quickly in his understanding of the Force in such a short amount of time. I know it's necessary for this to happen in such a short book, but perhaps this volume could have benefited from a larger page count (the Princess Leia story had a larger page count, so I don't think the authors were limited on how long the book needed to be). Either way, the story itself is still fun, and while Luke seemed a little too confident and mature for how young he should have been here, I still felt like this is the Luke that we know. C-3PO and R2-D2 are spot on with their characterizations, and the new characters introduced felt like they fit in the Star Wars universe. (I have a feeling that we'll be seeing more of villain, Sarco Plank, in Episode VII: The Force Awakens.)

The Weapon of a Jedi is marketed as a middle grade book and while it isn't a necessary read for the overall Star Wars story, it's still a fun story for any Star Wars fan, young or old. For me, it was definitely the weakest of the three middle grade books released, but it still holds up on its own.

A note on the design of the book: All three of the middle grade books are packaged similarly, each set up in three parts with a prologue and an epilogue. Before each section there is an illustration by Phil Noto that is presented in greyscale with red highlighted areas. The red is reflected throughout the chapter openers, as well as the dust jacket covers and the boards of the book. The entire thing comes together in such an impressive package. I'm hoping that if they do anymore middle grade adventures of other Star Wars characters that they keep this same packaging throughout, as it is top notch.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Star Wars: Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure by Cecil Castellucci & Jason Fry, illustrated by Phil Noto

Moving Target photo 1484724976.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zpswidnrcjb.jpgStar Wars: Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure
by Cecil Castellucci & Jason Fry, illustrated by Phil Noto
Published by Disney Lucasfilm Press, September 4, 2015
240 Pages • ISBN 978-1484724972 • Hardcover

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Book description:
Princess Leia returns for an all-new adventure in this thrilling upper middle grade novel. Set between Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi, the story follows the warrior princess as she leads a ragtag group of rebels on a dangerous mission against the evil Galactic Empire. Hidden in the story are also hints and clues about the upcoming film Star Wars: The Force Awakens, making this a must-read for fans old and new!


A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

Reeling from their disastrous defeat on Hoth, the heroic freedom fighters of the Rebel Alliance have scattered throughout space, pursued by the agents of the sinister Galactic Empire.

One rebel task force protects Princess Leia, bearing her in secrecy from star to star. As the last survivor of Alderaan's House of Organa, Leia is a symbol of freedom, hunted by the Empire she has opposed for so long.

The struggle against Imperial tyranny has claimed many rebel lives. As the Empire closes in, Leia resolves to make a sacrifice of her own, lest the cause of freedom be extinguished from the galaxy...

One of a trio of middle grade books released as part of Force Friday and the Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens publishing initiative (the others are Star Wars: The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure and Star Wars: Smuggler's Run: A Han Solo Adventure), Cecil Castellucci and Jason Fry's Star Wars: Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure takes place between the events of Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and Episode VI: Return of the Jedi and finds Princess Leia and Nien Nunb on a dangerous mission trying to distract the Empire by creating a false trail for them to follow.

This is the longest of the trio of books, and it clearly took advantage of that fact. I thoroughly enjoyed this volume the most; we are given some real insight into what drives Leia and what frightens her about the responsibility that she has placed on her. I think this book had a certain level of gravitas that the other two are missing; we are clearly shown the struggles and sacrifices that the Rebels are making in order to defeat the Empire, and how deeply this affects Leia. I think this is why I found this one shining over the other two, as we are really shown the cost of the war in this volume.

Moving Target is marketed as a middle grade book but I think it deals with the most mature content of the three volumes released in the trio. While I don't think it is inappropriate for the age range, it still handles some heavy material, but handles it well. For me, this was clearly the strongest of the three volumes, followed by Smuggler's Run and then The Weapon of a Jedi.

A note on the design of the book: All three of the middle grade books are packaged similarly, each set up in three parts with a prologue and an epilogue. Before each section there is an illustration by Phil Noto that is presented in greyscale with red highlighted areas. The red is reflected throughout the chapter openers, as well as the dust jacket covers and the boards of the book. The entire thing comes together in such an impressive package. I'm hoping that if they do anymore middle grade adventures of other Star Wars characters that they keep this same packaging throughout, as it is top notch.