Vlog Review: Greek Gods #squadgoals (OMG Classics) by Courtney Carbone

Summary:  
OMG Classics, the greatest stories ever told . . . in texts. Imagine: What if Mount Olympus got WiFi and the gods and goddesses had smartphones? The classic Greek myths get new life in irreverent and hilarious texts and posts!
 

Zeus, a king of the gods always in search of a new bae.
A squad of goddesses who can't resist stirring the pot.
And the selfie-obsessed heroes out for all the likes.
If you have trouble telling Perseus from Theseus (#Greek2Me) or have ever wondered about Oedipus's tragic dating profile or why Medusa's Instagram never got traction--this satirical book of Greek myths retold for the Internet age is for you!
tl;dr D'Aulaires' and Homer's Greek myths told through characters texting with emojis, posting photos, checking in at locations, and updating their relationship statuses. The perfect gift for any reader--young or old--with a sense of humor! 


A glossary and cast of characters are included for those who need it. For example: tl;dr means too long; didn't read.



Release Date: November 2017
Age Group: Middle Grade, πŸ“šπŸ“±πŸ™ŒπŸΌ
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Vlog Review By: Macy Kate



I read Greek Gods while waiting in the parent pick-up line for my daughter & Macy Kate and it was hilarious! The modern day spin of texting & social media combined with the historical personalities of these God/Goddesses was really fun. I mean who doesn't like a good #hashtag or funny emoji? πŸ€“πŸ“±πŸ“š

There are several books in this series, OMG Classics, and I actually want them all. They are such a fun way to introduce classics, in this specific case mythology. My daughter knows I L.O.V.E. Pride & Prejudice (all versions, class and modern day) but she just doesn't get the Darcy vibe BUT I feel that an OMG Classic might peak her interests! Looks like I've found the perfect stocking stuffers for my graphic-novel-loving girl. πŸ˜ŽπŸ’ƒπŸΌπŸ‘πŸΌ



Book Review: Offsetting Penalties by Ally Matthews

Summary: Isabelle Oster has dreamed of being a prima ballerina her entire life, so when the only male dancer backs out of the fall production, she’s devastated. Without a partner, she has no hope of earning a spot with the prestigious Ballet Americana company. Until hot jock Garret practicing stretches in one of the studios gives Izzy an idea, and she whips out her phone. But does she really want this badly enough to resort to blackmail?

All-state tight end Garret Mitchell will do anything to get a college football scholarship. Even taking ballet, which surprisingly isn’t so bad, because it means he gets to be up close and personal with the gorgeous Goth girl Izzy while learning moves to increase his flexibility. But Izzy needs him to perform with her for the Ballet Americana spot, and he draws the line at getting on stage. Especially wearing tights.









Release Date: November 2017
Age Group: YA, Contemporary (clean)
Source: Review Copy from Publisher (Entangled Teen Crush)
Reviewed By:  Nat

Review:
Offsetting Penalties was a lighthearted contemporary read that was just perfect to binge on my porch swing. I didn't have to work real hard to follow the plot and it was just relaxing and had an easy flow. I've come to realize that I like sports romances and am a sucker for them! 

The POV changes between the two lead characters and I always love when the male POV gets a voice because let's face it, men are weird and it's interesting to get a peek into their thought process. 

Izzy and Garret are very relateable characters and I think teens will find it easy to connect with them. They are both flawed and come from very different backgrounds. The stark differences in their family dynamics is what I think will make it so relateable to a wide range of teens. The banter between Izzy & Garret was witty and I especially loved his reaction to ballet lessons. I was especially happy that the blackmail scenario ended pretty quick and was not strung throughout the entire story; it ended and the plot matured.

I'll be honest, it was a complete shock to me to learn that some professional football players take ballet to improve their game! I was so intrigued by it that when I finished reading I went online and researched it further. I even brought it up to my husband and got to act all superior with my newfound knowledge. He did look at me a little crazy because we are typical Texas football fans: FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. We go on Friday night to watch our local high school play but know nothing of what is happening in professional football... I can't name a single pro... WAIT! Payton Manning! I have no idea what he does but he looks pretty.

Offsetting Penalties is sure to be loved by YA contemporary fans, especially individuals in ballet. In fact, I think this might puff-up a ballet dancer's pride a bit.





  

Book Review: Haven by Mary Lindsey

Summary:  
"We all hold a beast inside. The only difference is what form it takes when freed."

Rain Ryland has never belonged anywhere, He’s used to people judging him for his rough background, his intimidating size, and now, his orphan status. He’s always been on the outside, looking in, and he’s fine with that. Until he moves to New Wurzburg and meets Friederike Burkhart.

Freddie isn’t like normal teen girls, though. And someone wants her dead for it. Freddie warns he’d better stay far away if he wants to stay alive, but Rain’s never been good at running from trouble. For the first time, Rain has something worth fighting for, worth living for. Worth dying for.





Release Date: November 2017
Age Group: YA, Paranormal
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Reviewed By: Nat

Review:
Haven arrived as a book-mail surprise! I knew nothing about it, didn't read the synopsis and just dove right in simply based on the cover and the Godiva chocolate that accompanied the book (and was sent as a temptress). I can be bought with chocolate... well played Entangled Teen, well played.

Turns out that Haven was just as sweet as the chocolate!

Let me start off by saying it was a real treat to have the boy chasing after the girl! Haven was a true original YA paranormal. There are parallels to Beauty & the Beast mixed with the eternal love of a Twilight romance (in more of a Jacob Black sort of way) but with ALL the feels of Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver series! It is no secret that Stiefvater is one of my favorite authors and I couldn't help but think I was reading one of her novels as I sped through Haven.

Whatever the right formula is for a shape-shifter novel, Mary Lindsey got the memo!

I sat and read Haven straight through because there wasn't a good place to just simply break. The story pace was slow in the beginning as it built-up and fleshed everyone & everything out, but midway it was full steam ahead and the pacing was fast and furious!

I enjoyed the mystery & history behind the little Texas town of New Wurzburg and at times I was reminded of Friedricksburg, Texas. Now when I visit there, I am going to be looking for a winery run by wolves... we can wish right?

The characters were nice and flawed too. I hate reading #instalove. Rain & Freddie's story is loaded with crazy and there's nothing insta about it. I do have a warning, there is a scene on the porch that I could have lived without (maybe page 281). When I gave it to my teen reviewer I warned her about the scene and told her to skip that page and that "they smooch hard". She giggled and thanked me for the heads-up. Because of the porch scene and a few violent episodes, I would suggest this book for older teens.

Simply put, Mary Lindsey has a talent for YA Paranormal and she must be forced to write book two! Here's why, it's a bit spoiler'ish so {highlight} the text below to read. Cool trick right?

{WHAT HAPPENED TO MOTH?! He was bitten and lived.} Book two is waiting Miss Mary (that's how we do it in the South, everyone is a "Miss" & it is typically effective in getting you what you want because you are acting like such a polite person). Soooo Miss Mary, get to it!

 

Book Review: The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons

Summary: The Handmaid’s Tale meets Blood Red Road in Glass Arrow, the story of Aya, who lives with a small group of women on the run from the men who hunt them, men who want to auction off breeding rights to the highest bidder.

In a world where females are scarce and are hunted, then bought and sold at market for their breeding rights, 15-year old Aya has learned how to hide. With a ragtag bunch of other women and girls, she has successfully avoided capture and eked out a nomadic but free existence in the mountains. But when Aya’s luck runs out and she’s caught by a group of businessmen on a hunting expedition, fighting to survive takes on a whole new meaning.








Release Date: February 2015
Age Group: YA, Dystopian
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Reviewed By: Maryn

Review:
When trackers invade her home in the mountains, Aya is taken away from everything she's ever known, and thrown into an entirely new society where women are considered property.

The first part of The Glass Arrow was very slow paced, and uneventful. I wasn't hooked until a third of the way into the book. Simmons spent so long explaining how the society worked, and it all mattered very little to the plot; however, if you love world-building, you feel differently and love that part.

It was very refreshing to not have to deal with a forced love triangle, like in other dystopian books. The love story was so adorable and Kiran was such a likable guy.  The best part of the book for me was that it was believable. Aya had to rely on her strength and intuition to solve her problems, unlike characters in other dystopians that magically solve their problems because they are somehow different than everyone else.

I'm sad to hear that The Glass Arrow is a standalone story, because there's so much more I wanted to know!  The end of the book did however make up for the slow start, and I was on the edge of my seat for those last few chapters.

Overall, I liked the book a lot, and I'm so sad to hear that it won't be a series! Please reconsider Kristen! P.L.E.A.S.E. I am invested and the stage is set.

Book Review: Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Summary: Moxie girls fight back!

Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes and hallway harassment. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv’s mom was a punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, so now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. Pretty soon Viv is forging friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, and she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.
 








Release Date: September 2017
Age Group: YA, Feminism, Contemporary
Source: Surprise mail from fellow blogger!
Reviewed By: Nat

Build-up to Review:
Okay, this might be a little lengthy.

I got an email to receive an ARC of Moxie & by the time I replied they were gone and I was bummed. I didn't really know much about the book other than I liked the cover, the chick is wearing Van-like shoes. #fistbump Fast forward a few months later and I *met a student through Twitter, of all places, who happened to also be a book blogger and guess what she was reading?! MOXIE!

I freaked and demanded it be mailed to me immediately... just kidding, she actually asked me if I wanted to read it and I stayed cool & collected and quickly gave her my mailing address. Well, I didn't read the book when I got it- it turned out to be a tough semester. Fast-forward to Hurricane Harvey and I was desperate to mentally escape the storm. I saw a few tweets from the author, Jennifer Mathieu, about her woes & worries with Harvey. I had no idea she was a Hustonian and a teacher so I thought, "you know what, I'm going to read her book and let this place float away". Coincidentally enough, this all happened as I was watching the news report on Rockport Texas, which was decimated by the storm. I shut off the TV and told my husband "I'm out, I'll be reading until we float away!"

I opened the book and the first few pages I read began with a girl named Vivian who lived in the small Texas town of North Rockport. I immediately closed the book and thought No Freaking Way. Re-opened it and never left my recliner.

I sat and read Moxie cover to cover.

I regret nothing.

Review:
I've never thought of myself as a feminist. I love being a woman. I loved receiving an education. I love my career. I love being a mom (the most). But I've also been extremely fortunate to have been surrounded by strong, independent women that never allowed me to think anything was impossible. So I thought the word "feminist" was more of a radical term.

I was so wrong. It's sad really that I am just connecting the dots because in truth I've always been a feminist, just without the label. Moxie was a game changer for me personally because it was so freaking relateable!

I thought Mathieu was writing my high school memoir! I grew up (and still live in) a small Texas town. I even wrote about one of my memories about meeting the Ku Klux Klan when I was just nine years old.

There are so many things to love about a small town and there are so many things that can drive you crazy. Mathieu does a supurb job of building a story based on real and meaningful problems that young women face in high school and life in general. It doesn't have to be a small town in Texas, discrimination happens everywhere, everyday and no one is fully immune.

I loved how powerful Moxie made me feel. I can't imagine how it would have made me feel at 15, I probably would have ran for Mayor! No matter what your views are politically, religiously or personally, you have the right to feel them. We need more books like Moxie that make our youth think & feel.

Sit back and really think about what you stand for and what you support. I am conservative in some areas of my life and liberal in others and that's okay. Do we laugh and sexualize women because it's simply tradition? Do we equally support one another? Girls can be their own worst enemies. And to put it simply, we need to STOP IT. Support and uplift one another. SHOW SOME MOXIE!

Moxie is a must-read for all teens and parents. It is for the open-minded and the narrow-minded and the close-minded and those that just can't make their minds up.

Fantastic job Jennifer! I hope we meet one day!

Gift Recommendation: If you decide to gift Moxie to someone I would give one suggestion: add a few magazines with the gift, that's what I'll be doing this Christmas.

Side note: Zines are still pretty popular in the skateboarding world. My daughter looks forward to getting her zines from The Skate Witches πŸ’Ž


Mini Book Review: The Richest Man in Town by VJ Smith

Summary: This gift book published by Simple Truths is VJ Smith's story of getting to know Marty Martinson, an elderly Wal-mart greeter in Brookings, SD who affected thousands of people across the country, and all of the lessons on life he taught him. Give a little more of yourself. The only person who can make you happy is you. Be a better you.

 







Release Date: 2005
Age Group: Non-Fiction; Inspirational; Biography
Source: Purchased
Reviewed By: Maryn

Review:


I never could've imagined that a book with so little pages could have such a meaningful message. If I had to recommend one book to someone, this would be it. The Richest Man in Town is the kind of story that makes you want to be a better person. It is inspiring and shows how even the smallest gestures of kindness can have a lasting impact on a person's life. From now on, I'm going  to start looking for the Marty's in my life. This book touched my heart, and I will definitely re-read it when I need perspective & reminders of what matters.
All it took were simple gestures of kindness by a man named Marty and a Wal-Mart badge to forever impact my thoughts & actions, I am a better person after meeting Marty.

*Nat recommends this as a great book to gift to people {and actually requires her students to read it at the beginning of each semester}.

Whitey Tighties & a Cape


The Mob loves the Captain Underpants series, so when it came to theaters we were front row. It was unanimous that we buy it as soon as it was released.

When it hit the stores I snagged our usual Blu-Ray copy and headed for the register. Little did I know what treasure was hidden in the HERO EDITION...
... okay, if I had read the cover I would have known but I didn't... Don't kill my vibe.

The Cape. 
      
THAT CAPE has brought tears to so many eyes. Oh the tears of pure laughter, what a treat! Truly a treat for me.         
This had to be the easiest character costume I have ever thrown together but it does take a special child to execute it. ***Drumroll for #tomtom.


This is one of those memories where two things are bound to happen:
  1. We laugh at these pictures at this child's wedding OR
  2. He tells his therapist about how damaged he was from this moment
                                                       ... but for now we laugh!

Just one more for laughs & giggles. You're welcome.
I'll hit you up for the therapy bill in about ten years.

 

Book Review: The Mad Scientist's Notebook by Elizabeth Snoke Harris

Summary: Plastic humanoids, dancing spaghetti, and rubber eggs: something wacky’s going on here—and kids will love it! After all, what could be more fun than peeking into a mad scientist’s notebook and finding 50 fizzing, popping projects that will light up their own laboratories…and minds? Young Einsteins (and Dr. Frankensteins) will discover really cool things to do, including building a hovercraft and rocket, boiling ice without melting it, and making their fingers smoke. Notes from the mad scientist himself on richly illustrated and lined pages make the projects even more entertaining! But don’t be fooled: these irresistible experiments demonstrate important principles of physics, biology, and chemistry. So kids will safely learn all about science…even if they’re too busy making a mess to realize it.

Release Date: June 2008
Age Group: Science, Non-Fiction
Source: Purchased Copy
Reviewed By: Nat & a Future {Mad} Scientist

Review:
I have one future scientist. I am constantly scouring Pinterest for quick & easy little experiments for him to do on the weekends. I have even had to use these as bribes and rewards for good behavior at school.

My mom found this little nugget of wacky experiments and it has been a lot of fun not just for my science minded guy but for the whole family! We started off with Bendable Bones (pg 66). Because who hasn't tried to bend a bone before? In our case, we try to bend them way too often and have had every single monster in casts... multiple times... CPS only evaluated us once...


Both my husband and myself have science-based degrees but it is often hard to explain certain principles regarding the properties of science. This book poses a question and then follows with the experiment. Then gives a simple concise explanation that is in terms kids can understand (explanations also have vocabulary words in red) and sometimes has a quirky thought based on the principles taught. For our experiment, it read this:


Now if I soaked my bones in vinegar, I could finally win a limbo contest. And I could sneak into places through the air ducts to steal stuff. Pardon me while I go fill my bathtub with vinegar...     




Where we got the bone

Future Scientist ran into my room yelling "Mom, mom, I got what we needed today at lunch!" And then he proceeded to pull out a wad of napkins from his pocket.

A nice, oily chicken bone appeared.

Then he hands me The Mad Scientist's Notebook and said we were ready to start.

So we did.

Dick and Jane and Vampires

When I was learning to read, I remember reading the Dick & Jane books. There weren't all the cool easy readers like today.

There was Dick, Jane & Spot the dog, later came Sally the little sister.
See Spot.
       See Spot run.
                 Look Sally.
                       Look at Spot run.

I'm surprised we didn't all name our kids Sally & Dick.

When my oldest monster was learning to read my mom found this gem! Dick and Jane and Vampires



My moral compass was set. Literacy plus a vampire, no brainer.
This book is actually a collection of several beginner readers and divided into three categories:
  • Look & Find
  • Run & Hide
  • Work & Play
Work and Play is easily my favorite section because it is so bizarre & awesome to see Dick with garlic wrapped around his neck and pages later see Dracula playing house with Sally!


I'm pretty sure kids these days don't even know what playing house means...

Anyhoo, every family should have a copy of Dick and Jane and Vampires. It will serve as nostalgia for parents and bring a little humor to the nail biting time of teaching young kids to start piecing together sentences... what a time it is...


Ahhh. I was never cut out to teach elementary kids, hats off to all the first grade teachers who fight in the trenches and make sure my kids are literate. You're thebomb.com


You've Been BOO'ed!

We have a tradition in our family that begins October 1st and involves sneaking around, banging on doors and running. We BOO people and we have really great stories to tell. 

Each year we sit around as a family and make a list of the families we want to BOO. Each kid chooses 5 people and then I add to it... we Boo a lot. 

But seriously, I'd rather my kids sneaking around causing mayhem with me waiting in an idling car. #parentingwin

I put together a simple Boo kit to share. You can make these as simple or as elaborate as you want, either way, people just like to know someone is thinking about them. 

Enjoy & run fast kids!!!

Click & save image. Open and print on plain or colored paper.

Print big (8.5x11)! I like to print this on white cardstock, it hold up better when being tossed between kids & doorsteps.
You want people to be able to see it in the window.

Here are a few we did last weekend:

The first one was a tin filled with brownies & an attached ghost balloon, with the papers attached to the balloon. {I used a whole punch & attached the balloon string to the instructions & ghost.}



Another we filled with easy reader books and used caution tape as the tie.


We went old school on this one and filled a bucket with loads of candy & set a light-up ghost right on top.


Supplies:
  • Halloween bucket: Wal-Mart 98 cents
  • Ghost balloons: pack of 5 for $1 @ Dollar Tree
  • Caution tape & light-up ghost: Dollar Tree
  • Brownie batch: straight from the box (ain't nobody got time for scratch)
  • Helium: I had a small helium tank left over from a party so I used that to fill the balloons. I buy them at Wal-Mart or Hobby Lobby (with a coupon) and they last for several holiday activities.
  • Books: I always stock up on all the dollar books from school book order forms & any that I find at the school book fairs.