Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Review || Emma and the Banderwigh by Matthew S. Cox


DISCLAIMER: I received this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions herein are of my own.

Title
:
Author: Matthew S. Cox
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Pages: 218

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Ten-year-old Emma doesn't believe in faerie tales or monsters that secret children away in the night--until she meets one.
She lives in a quiet village at the edge of Widowswood with her parents, her Nan, and her little brother, Tam. Ready to abandon the whimsy of childhood, she finds the boredom of chores comforting and Nan's fanciful bedtime stories silly.
One morning, a wan and weary older girl staggers out of the woods and sets the entire town aflutter with whispers of a child-stealing monster lurking in the forest. Nan tells her of the Banderwigh: a dark soul who feeds on sorrow and drains the life from children's tears.
Darkness comes calling on Emma's happy home, threatening the reality to which she desperately clings. The impossible becomes more and more real, forcing Emma to reach inside herself for the ability to believe. Her family depends on it.

Review:
Growing up, I absolutely loved fairy tales. This book took me back into the traditional style of story-telling. It also transports you back into a place with no running water, when people still made clothing by hand and it was the norm, and when guards patrolled the town with their swords to keep the townspeople safe. Cox uses amazing description to pull children into his world easily.
The main character, Emma, is wise beyond her years, and she is an extremely brave little soul. She is a perfect role model for younger readers, teaching compassion throughout the whole story. The rest of the characters are very well thought out and all have their own quirks which made me like all of them instantly.
This book can deal with some issues that aren't suitable for children who haven't been exposed to things like child abuse. A little girl named Kimber in the book is abused by her father, and it's sometimes hard for children to read about if they can't grasp the concept. It would be a good idea to sit your child down before they read this and explain that these things happen to children and tell them that it's nothing to worry about when it comes to them. The monsters within the story are also a cause for concern for children who are frightened easily, but I think it's suitable for children 9 and up. Sometimes stories that don't sugar-coat everything are the best stories. 


Review || The Kingdom of Oceana by Mitchell Charles

 

DISLAIMER: I received this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions herein are of my own.

Title: The Kingdom of Oceana
Author: Mitchell Charles
Publisher: Butterhorse Media
Pages: 222
Want to buy the book? Go here.

Synopsis:Surfer. Shark tamer. Fire walker. Explorer. Teenager. Hero. Five centuries ago, on the island now called Hawaii, there was a kingdom filled with adventure, beauty, and magic. When 16-year-old Prince Ailani and his brother Nahoa trespass on a forbidden burial ground and uncover an ancient tiki mask, they unleash a thousand-year-old curse that threatens to erupt-just like Mauna Kea, the towering volcano.
With the help of his ancestral spirit animals, his shape shifting sidekick, and a beautiful princess, Prince Ailani must overcome his own insecurities, a lifetime of sibling rivalry, and a plague of cursed sea creatures brought forth by the tiki's spell.
Can peace be restored to the kingdom? Can Prince Ailani claim his rightful place as the future king of Oceana? Only one can rule.

Review:
I was so excited when I opened this book and saw that it was autographed! I really love books based in Hawaii, or any books in genera that deal with islands or that are ocean themed. They really get me away from my small hometown surrounded by nothing but cornfields. For someone not really familiar with Hawaiian terms, Mitchell Charles has woven them into the book and included footnotes at the bottom of the pages that explained what the words meant.

I instantly fell in love with the exotic aspects, along with the magical elements. It's an extremely fun book to read, along with some great lessons learned. All of the characters were well thought out. I especially disliked the mother and Nahoa, and I love books that can illicit negative emotions in me as well as positive ones. They make for an amazing story. I feel like this is a book everyone throughout middle school and up should read because it is just that good.

Mitchell Charles intricately weaves together magic, myths, issues about the environment, sibling rivalry, and neglect. I will definitely be reading future books written by him.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Review || Against All Odds by Patricia Vanasse


Title: Against All Odds
Author: Patricia Vanasse
Publisher: Pants on Fire Press
Pages: 313

Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions herein are of my own.

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Sometimes boy meets girl, and the stars align, and their future is laid out neatly before them. Together forever. Meant to be. But Max and Loren are not one of those couples.
Seventeen-year-old Max DuPont is on the verge of becoming a ward of the state and foster kid. Contrary to expectations, Max is not from the "wrong" side of town. He's from a good home in a nice neighborhood, but his mother left after his father lost his job and turned to drinking. Max has been struggling to keep his head above water ever since. All he wants is to survive his senior year, play hockey, and move on to college. When his dad lands himself in jail, Max has no choice but to accept an offer to live with his father's do-gooder attorney, Mr. Larssi. The only contingency is that Max must stay far away from Larssi's beautiful teenage daughter Loren.
Loren is aware that she's had every opportunity in her young adult life—at least, that is, every opportunity her parents designed for her. She excels in academics at a competitive prep school, she never parties, she never dates, and she's a budding ballerina and major hopeful for a Juilliard scholarship. But since her best friend Lily died tragically three months ago, Loren is lost. She knows just how precious life is. But she has no idea how to make the best of it. How can she live—really live—with obsessive parents breathing down her neck…and inviting the only guy who never noticed her to live right under their roof?Loren's first step in living her own life might be to get Max to notice her. Max's only chance at a solid future without foster care is to keep his distance from Loren. But their chemistry is undeniable. And they can't fight the odds forever…

Review:
I was hesitant to read this book after the first two chapters, but like with most books, I kept on keeping on. I'm so glad I did. I usually really dislike books that center around romance, usually because I find romance really cheesy and unbelievable. My idea of romance is pizza and letting me have the cover for the night. Lol!
This book deals with a great deal of topics along the lines of alcoholic fathers, absent mothers, teenage drinking, death by cancer, avoidance of problems. All things that a teenager might go through or witness when they're growing up. It's a very sad, heartfelt book that just had me wanting more. I loved Max's character, and how good of a guy he is. I love Lo because she's such a good kid and has a great head on her shoulders, and the fact that she's hurting put me on the same level as her and I could empathize with her as well.
I'm so glad this book took me by surprise and I'm so, so happy I didn't stop reading it like I initially wanted to because I would have missed out on a great story and a sweet literary couple. 

Review || Doggone Town (Nancy Drew: Girl Detective, No. 13) by Stefan Petrucha


Title:  Doggone Town (Nancy Drew: Girl Detective, No. 13)
Author+Stefan Petrucha
Publisher+Papercutz
Pages: 88
Age Range: 8-12 years
Grade Level: 3-7

Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions herein are of my own.

Synopsis from Amazon:
When Nancy Drew and Ned Nickerson attempt to return a lost dog named "Togo" to its owner in the small town of Nevershare, they stumble onto a much bigger mystery--where did all the people go? The entire population of Nevershare is missing, except for one person, and she's mean and not very helpful. Will Nancy solve this mystery before she and Ned also disappear?

Review:
When I first saw that this comic book was going to be re-published to include two graphic novels in one, I immediately e-mailed +Stefan Petrucha to see if he had any ARC's up for grabs. He didn't, but he did forward my e-mail to +Papercutz and they ended up sending me a copy! I was so excited, even if it is a book for people 8-12 years old, I believe any age range can enjoy Nancy Drew no matter what! I grew up playing the Nancy Drew games, and even though I am super huge on books, I didn't even know there was a series by the amazing Carolyn Keene until just last year. How late am I, I mean seriously?

Anyway! I love this book not only because it is a greatly drawn graphic novel with 3D CG elements and color, but also because of the simple yet clever story line with some twists and turns. Not to mention a sweet "Tales From the Crypt" mention was dropped and it made me smile! I really just loved going back in time and visiting my childhood in a familiar way with Nancy, George, Bessie, and Ned all grouping together to solve the mysteries and sometimes (almost always) that Nancy gets them into!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Review & Giveaway! || SwaddleDesigns - Stylish and Soft Baby Swaddle Blankets

Disclaimer || I received these products in exchange for an honest review. All opinions herein are of my own and are not swayed by the SwaddleDesigns company.

SwaddleDesigns is a company founded by a woman named Lynette Damir. The first thing I thought when I opened the package was that the design of the box they had shipped them in were so cute! They're very elegant looking and beautiful. I received two designs, one is the xoxo in black as seen above, and another is just a regular fancy print. Being made with Muslin fabric means the swaddle blankets begin as soft, but get softer with every wash!
SwaddleDesigns is very well-respected within the medical community. They come highly recommended by pediatricians, doulas, nurses, and newborn care instructors. Mom's love them as well!

Have you forgotten how to swaddle since your last baby? Or are you an expectant mother or father and just some instruction? You can visit this link that provides you with everything you need to know about swaddling your precious one.

Want to win a design for yourself? Follow this link and input your e-mail address and I'll contact you in a week if you're a winner!

Wanna keep up with SwaddleDesigns? There are multiple ways! You can:

1. Follow them on Twitter here. Tweet your favorite design @SwaddleDesigns!
2. Like them on Facebook here. Post your favorite SwaddleDesigns print or product! If you like their page you get previews of their newest collections + fan discounts!
3. You can pin your favorite product on Pinterest here.
4. Follow them on Instagram here.
5. Sign up for their e-mail updates to stay informed on new arrivals and special offers and promo codes!

You can contact them at lace@swaddledesigns.com or you can call 206.525.0400 (ext. 217) with any questions or concerns you may have.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Review || NewAir Pure Spring WAT40B Water Dispenser



NewAir Pure Spring WAT305 Water Dispenser
Disclaimer: I received this product in exchange for an honest review. All opinions herein are of my own.

I'll be the first to admit that I am a horrible person when it comes to drinking water. If it's not right in front of me I won't, and sometimes, even when it is, I let the water bottle just sit there and end up getting hot. I know, sad isn't it?
That is why I'm thankful for my new water dispenser. I can go right into the living room and get out a small amount of water that I know I'll for sure drink, and take it with me wherever I need to go. No more plastic water bottles piling up in my bedroom. No more wasted water!
Now onto the design. I love how sleek the design is. It looks elegant and not bulky in my home. It's also BPA free which is absolutely amazing to me! Definitely a plus in my eyes. I also adore the fact that I can load the water in the bottom instead of having it out in the open on the top. It just looks more visually pleasing to me. The package came to me without anything wrong with it, and everything works perfectly fine with it!
Another feature that I love is the fact that it also has a hot water dispenser button as well. This is great for when I need hot water right then and there for anything from cooking to making hot chocolate when I'm not using milk. It's just super handy to not have to wait for my sink to warm up. There's even a child safety lock on the hot part! They really did think of everything possible. I also like the fact that it's a very quiet dispenser and doesn't have any issue that I have seen so far. I can tell I'll be using this for an extremely long time! Super simple to set up. Comes with easy to read instructions as well. I've been drinking so much more water since I got this, simply because I'm a little kid and love using this dispenser! You can find more information at the link I have provided below.

Link to the NewAir website: http://www.newair.com/water-dispensersFacebookhttps://www.facebook.com/newairusa/
And! If you want to try to win your very own water dispenser, you can go here! 
http://goo.gl/forms/NwkdriQySp The contest ends on May 15th, 2016!
So tell me, does this look like something you'd like in your home?



Sunday, April 17, 2016

Review || Salem's Trial by Judge by Amanda Kimberly

Title: Salem's Trial by Judge
Author: Amanda Kimberly
Pages: 65
Publisher: Twilight Covenstead Publishing
Stars: 5/5
Want to buy the book? You can purchase it on Amazon here.

DISCLAIMER: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions herein are of my own and are not swayed by the author or the publishing company.

Synopsis from Amazon:
Bryna Gilchrist thought her worst nightmare was burying her husband until she was accused of Witchcraft. Secluded in the Corwins' dungeons, she will have to enlist the help of her new lover Bartholomew to escape from Judge John Corwin's grasp.

Review:
I love short stories, I don't know if I've told you all that yet or not. It's just so satisfying to me to start a book and finish it within the first hour. Especially if it's a well-written book that leaves no question unanswered. Kimberly definitely has done her duty as an author with this short story in setting up a horrifying time period in where anyone could be accused of Witchcraft for the most mundane actions.
I came to love Bryna, and her small little family. I even found myself missing her husband along with her. Her best friend...well. I don't have much to say about that except for the fact that you can't trust anyone to back you up when you actually need it. I found myself so frustrated with what Bryna had to go through after her doting husband passed away. Especially with people who were trying to force her into a relationship on the same day her husband was buried. I guess it was really like that back then, though. Being a widow wasn't the best thing to happen to someone who owned a lot of land back then, and a lot of men would have jumped at that opportunity.
All in all, this was a great short story and I would love to read more of Kimberly's writing!

Monday, April 11, 2016

I received my third PINCHme box today! + A FREE 20% DISCOUNT FOR YOU


I love, love, love receiving PINCHme sample boxes in the mail! In fact, tomorrow is when we're all able to sign up for a new one! At 12 (noon), you have the chance to claim samples for yourself on the website. Go sign up if you haven't yet! In past boxes I've received Purell hand sanitizing wipes, Sinful Colors 2-step manicure and nail polish, Breathe Right nasal strips, and ZZZQUIL among other things!

In this PINCHme box I received:

1. Olay Regenerist Tone Perfecting Cream (It's also a moisturizer)!!! As well as a $3.00 off coupon!
2. Unisom Sleepgels and a $2.00 off coupon as well! I can't wait to try these out. I'm always looking for easy and fast ways to fall asleep. LOL!
3. Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream and a $3.00 off coupon!
4. Sugru moldable glue - Use the discount code pinchme and receive 20% off!
5. Allegra Allergy  and two different coupons for $4.00 and $2.00 off!

Short post, but I had to share and make my readers aware of how awesome PINCHme is! It's really a no-hassle, fun website for free products for you to review or do as you please. I encourage you all to sign up!

Review || Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls Are Used in War by Michel Chikwanine & Jessica Dee Humphreys


Title
: Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls Are Used in War
Author(s)+Jessica Dee Humphreys & +Michel Chikwanine
Illustrator: Claudia Davila
Age Range: 10-14
Grade Level: 5-9
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Type: Hardcover
Pages: 48
Buy the book: Amazon

Trigger Warning: Deals with hard subject matters like children in war, per the title. Drug mentions. Loss. 1q
Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions herein are of my own.

Synopsis:
"It's 1993, and the Democratic Republic of Congo is going through major political changes. Five-year-old Michel is playing with friends one day when, without warning, a group of rebel soldiers pulls up to the school grounds. Forced onto trucks, the frightened boys are taken to a camp in the hills. There they are thrust into a terrifying and violent world.
A compelling story of resilience and courage. Child Solider is Michel Chikwanine's account of his time in rebel militia, his escape, and his efforts to make a new life for himself and his family in Canada."

Praise:
"Moving and insightful, Child Soldier will enlighten young readers about the desperate plight of 250,000 of their peers and inspire them to action." - Lieutenant-Generat (ret) Romeo Dallaire

"Child Solider reminds us of our ability to endure much and still work to make the world better. It will surely inspire kids to work to protect all children from harm." - Susan Bissell, Chief of Child Protection, UNICEF

Review:
First off, I'm going to tell you how much I love the cover of this book. It automatically caught my eye when I opened the packaging, so I know it would catch a child's eye. I also love the fact that it's not a normal subject matter like princesses and knights and magical woodland creatures. CitizenKid creates books with the mission of enlightening children on the world and all of it's issues. It's a hardcover book, so it's very durable. I also got it signed! I love receiving signed books so much.

At the beginning of the book, Michel assures the reader that what has happened to him will not happen to them. He explains that a lot of things happened in his country before it resorted to the use of child soldiers. I love the fact that he decided to reassure the child, because a lot of readers get anxiety from what they read. Some of my most irrational fears have stemmed from reading. On the following page, there is a small map of Michel's country, which is amazing! This really is an educational book for children to read. It has so much information, yet you don't feel like it's being forced down your throat which is an incredible feat for an author of educational children books.

One part of the book I liked a lot was when he was explaining how they made their own soccer balls with plastic bags and paper scraps. After they had those done, they wrapped them in dried banana leaves. This goes to show children that even if they think they have nothing, they can always make do with natural resources close to them.


Things I learned:
-The Belgian King, generations ago, used the Congolese people as slaves, and half of the population was killed during his reign.
-I had no idea the Democratic Republic of Congo had so many rich, natural resources like diamond and gold.
-There's a fabric called bikwembe.
-And so much more!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Review || A Disguise to Die For by Diane Vallere

Title: A Disguise to Die For
Author+Diane Vallere
Pages: 304
Format: ARC paperback
Rating: 4/5

Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions herein are of my own.

Synopsis:
Margo Tamblyn has returned to her hometown after her father has a heart attack to help him run the costume shop. Blitz Manners, who doesn't exactly live up to his last name on the outside, decides to ask for help in getting forty costumes, all different, for a costume party he's having. During the party, the unthinkable happens. Margo's friend Ebony is seen brandishing a knife above Blitz's body. What ensues after is a detective story it its own. Margo puts pieces of evidence she finds together to try to figure out who killed Blitz, and for what reason exactly.

Review:
This is the first book by Vallere I've managed to get my hands on and I was not disappointed one bit. The main character, Margo, is quirky and fun-loving, and has a little Nancy Drew in her. She's fiercely loyal, and loves her dad to no end. All of the other characters that were introduced to me have great back-stories and I loved that I got to know them as well as I did Margo.
One other character who stood out to me was Willow. A new town resident. She could be described as a free-spirit who desperately and genuinely wants to help people out. The reason she stood out to me so much was because her business cards were made out of recycled paper that you could plant with seed in them. I thought that idea was so awesome so it really stuck out.
I loved the whole story and mystery plot. I had no idea the killer was who they were, even though I had a few ideas, they weren't about the right person. It had me guessing up until the very end, with a plot twist that made my mouth drop!
The only issue I had with this book was the fact that it kept repeating "this-not that." As in, "my dad, not the so-and-so." But this was only the ARC and that is the only problem I had with the book at all. I'd definitely recommend it for anyone who likes their books light but with a hint of mystery. Fans of Nancy Drew would love this new, fun-loving female character!

Review || Pure Evil by Jesse Bastide

Title: Pure Evil
Author+Jesse Bastide
Pages: 180
Genre: Horror
Format: Kindle

Synopsis:
Devon isn't the most popular kid on the playground. In fact, he's so unpopular the other kids seem to have thought that it was okay to throw rocks at him. After waking up in the hospital from a coma the grisly rock induced, he finds out that he's not the only one inside his head. Someone who has came to him presented to him as a friend, but is really pure evil in a cloak. Uncle Joe, a horror writer comes to Devon's rescue after finding out that Devon's problems are all too familiar. Can Joe help Devon before what happened to his brother ends up happening to his nephew too? Or will it become a cycle that's never-ending?

Review:
I read a lot of reviews via Goodreads before writing mine. I had zero issues with this book. It was an extremely quick, satisfying read for me. Louie really was pure evil. He was hell-bent on taking everyone down with him as long as he had fun doing it. I really enjoyed Joe and Devon's characters as well. Devon was very grown up for his age, and was right to second-guess some of the things he did within the story. I found Joe to be likable because he was really intent on avenging his brother as long as it meant saving Devon as well. Not to mention the fact that he's a writer of horror fiction. I love when books incorporate other writers or authors within them, even if they are made up.
I'm definitely going to be reading future books from Bastide. I got this book free from Amazon, but I'll be delving into his other stories as well!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Update post!

Hello everyone! I'm sorry I've been super MIA lately, but I've had a couple things going on in my life.

First off, I spent a wonderful week alone, just me and my boyfriend completely unplugged from every source of electronics besides his mini DVD player. No internet for a week was refreshing and I loved just sitting down and spending time with him just the two of us with no outside sources interfering. Sometimes relationships need just that, am I right?

Second, my best friend got married! My friends Amanda, Kaley, Karlie, and my boyfriend and I all went to good ole' Hazard, KY on April 1st, which is Alexandra's birthday (my best friend), and on the second, I got to see her become a Howard! No longer Ms. Alexandra Couch. Insane! She looked absolutely stunning and I couldn't stop crying for the life of me. Yes, I was that bridesmaid. The one with the snot pouring out of her nose and tears streaming down her face. Thank God for E.L.F's setting spray! My makeup stayed put despite all the ugly crying. LOL!

Third, I'm so sick! I caught a head cold in Kentucky. I don't know if I'm actually sick, or if my allergies just kicked in because I couldn't stop cuddling with the adorable cat Alexandra had at her house. Either way, this sucks. I hate being sick so much, because it sticks with me for ages. I mean, a long, long time. My immune system is so poor. I really need to take vitamins for it, but I slack on taking care of myself sadly.

Tomorrow I'm getting an endoscopy and I'm really worried about that, but I know things will be fine! My mom and my grandma are both going to be there with me when I wake up so that puts me at ease a little bit. I just hate anasthesia and it always makes me cry when I wake up. It's like it overloads my emotions and they're all way too escalated for my liking. On the bright side, I'll hopefully be able to see why I'm having so many stomach issues and get it all sorted out.

I'll be getting back into blogging soon, because I have a few reviews that I absolutely need to tell you all about. Both book reviews as well as product reviews! Thanks for sticking around and continuing to read my older posts, and a new one should be up within the next week.

-Sabrina