Movie Review: Power Rangers

Power Rangers have been a TV icon for the last 20 years and oh man was my inner 90's child busting at the seems to Power Rangers!

No, I didn't have Power Ranger toys or a crush on the Red Ranger back in the 90's; but I did have two younger brothers who watched The Mighty Morphine Power Rangers EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. during my teenage years. Naturally, I became a connoisseur by default.

I took our Mob to see the reboot of the Power Rangers opening weekend and the smallest monster had his pockets full of his little figures... I didn't even realize he had PR toys, why? Because PR's are just a flipping staple for little boys! {I later found out that he had an actual Zord stashed under his bed too.}

Every single one of us LOVED the movie! Sweet Stuff and I thought that they did a great job of making the new PR's relatable and flawed. They totally had the Breakfast Club vibe going on and it was great that all the Rangers were fresh faces too.

I loved that the Blue Ranger had Autism (high functioning or on "the spectrum"), hats off to this film for making a sweet attempt to shine light in that direction. Billy was actually the favorite for our family. My mob loved his dry wit and the older two immediately picked up that "his mind was different" just like two of their cousins. 

I'm not going to lie, I wasn't crazy that they made the Yellow Ranger a lesbian. Not because I don't love lesbians or I am not for equal opportunity or blah blah blah... I didn't care for it because it just didn't feel like it fit the original Yellow Ranger. It felt more like it was added in to just check off another social agenda, I guess it just wasn't natural. But hey, you can love it or hate it or just not care and this movie is still #savage as the mob would say.

The Villain: Rita Repulsa

What CAN'T Elizabeth Banks do?! I mean seriously! 

Hands down, there isn't any role that Elizabeth Banks takes on that she just doesn't kill it! I was so creep'ed out by Rita, she was freaking scary. I loved the story line of the fallen Green Ranger and it leads to the obvious questions, who will be the Green Ranger?! 

The mob had one question when it was over, WHEN IS THE NEXT ONE?! 

Still not convinced? Watch the trailer!

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Book Review: Mutant Mantis Lunch Ladies! {A Monstertown Mystery #2} by Bruce Hale

Summary: How well do you know the lunch servers at your school? Sure, they seem like nice people, but what if secretly they are something much, much weirder?
Best friends Carlos and Benny, who just saved their teacher from becoming a were-hyena, have been called upon to investigate the strange goings-on in the cafeteria. Why are the lunch ladies suddenly so grumpy? Why are the girls' meals different from the boys'? And what was that thing seen scuttling around the kitchen wearing an apron?
It's going to require a lot of courage--and more than an industrial size can of Raid--for the boys to avoid extermination in this buggy adventure.

Release Date: March 2017
Age Group: Middle Grade
Source: Review Copy from NetGalley
Reviewed By: Nat

I came across this middle grade series on NetGalley and chose to investigate it based on its Goosbumps vibe. It did NOT disappoint. Oddly enough, this story and writing style seems to be a fun cross between the Goosebumps series and The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.

This is book 2 of the Monstertown Mystery series set in the little town of Monterrosa but you do not have to read book 1, because each one carries its own story line, to enjoy these Lunch Ladies. I will very likely pick up the first one though, I know this series will be a crowd pleaser for The Mob.

I really like the main characters Benny & Carlos. They are witty and have all the little quirks found in middle school boys plus a little pinch of Spanish flair. They are relatable and I can see the appeal to MG readers to continue to follow them in future mysteries. 

Because I am a dietitian I might have been a little biased to this tale because of the whole food/diet aspect. I thought it was crafty and clever. It correlates diet to physical changes in our bodies but in a creepy, big-bugs-want-to-fatten-me-up-and-eat-me, kind of way.

The writing style is smooth, entertaining and at times a bit silly. Hale throws out metaphors that will leave you on a roller-coaster of emotions... see what I just did? His are much better. {I am sure there are several that are similes}. I also enjoyed the art throughout and I think the MG audience will eat it up. 

My advice.
  • You better be nice to those Lunch Ladies kids... you might just be their next SNACK.
  • Immediately add Monsterville Mysteries to your TBR list for MG readers (especially reluctant readers) because Bruce Hale can write a tale! 

Book Spotlight: Magic Fire by Katherine Vale

Pre-Order Blitz for Magic Fire
Shifting Magic the Series, Book 1
By Catherine Vale

Magic Fire, Book 1 of the Shifting Magic the Series, by NY Times and USA Today Bestselling author Catherine Vale is now available for pre-order! One-click until release day of April 10, 2017 to get for only $.99. After release day the price will be only $2.99.

Exclusively on Amazon, one click here.

Author Bio: Catherine Vale is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author based out of Ottawa, Canada. She loves to write dark tales of magic and mayhem, and edgy paranormal romance with curvy girls and guys with growl. She has a penchant for chocolate, black coffee, and poutine. When she isn't busy writing her stories, you can find her singing karaoke, spending time with her family, and dancing with the girls to 80's rock.

Book Vlog: The Mighty Dynamo by Kieran Crowley

"I recommend The Mighty Dynamo to soccer players, soccer fans and pretty much anybody in this world."  
image source: Twitter @KMarkCrowley

Noah longs to be a professional soccer player - and playing in the Schools' World Cup qualifiers might be just what he needs to get scouted. But when he's banned from his school team for something he didn't do, all his dreams are in doubt.
Determined to live up to his Mighty Dynamo nickname, Noah must find his own way to enter the contest - no matter what it takes! With best friend Stevie on tactics, and the skills of some unlikely new teammates, he's soon ready to take on the world - just as long as no one plays foul . . .

Release Date: September 2016
Age Group: MG
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Reviewed By: Macy Kate

Vlog Report:

Guest Post: 20 Inspiring YA Quotes by Hooked to Books

20 YA Book Quotes To Motive Life!

When I am trolling through Pinterest or GoodReads and see a book quote and know, that somewhere, I have read that line, I get #thefeels You know those feelings that just instantly take you back to a world that captured you for only hours but touched you forever.

What did you just daydream? I instantly thought of the original book boyfriend, Darcy! {and all the pins waiting for me!} Oh Darcy, you have bewitched me heart and soul too. #DarcyForever

Sometimes it takes a minute to figure it out but for a book'ish mind it's usually instantaneous. It's apart of you {us}. Literature is so flipping cool.

It's time to test your Jedi memory.  Here is a really fun infographic that some bookworms from Hooked To Books created. It's an epic mash-up of their favorite 20 inspiring quote's from the books that most know and love. They even added the iconic symbols to further trigger #thefeels. How many can you name? I feel like my TBR list just grew! #dang

Book Review: The Principles of Flotation by Alexandra Teague

Summary: A.Z. McKinney is on the shores of greatness. Now all she needs is a boat.

When the Sea of Santiago appeared overnight in a cow pasture in Arkansas, it seemed, to some, a religious miracle. But to high school sophomore A.Z. McKinney, it’s marked her chance to make history—as its first oceanographer. All she needs is to get out on the water.

Her plan is easier said than done, considering the Sea’s eccentric owner is only interested in its use as a tourist destination for beachgoers and devout pilgrims. Still, A.Z. is determined to uncover the secrets of the Sea—even if it means smuggling saline samples in her bathing suit.

Yet when a cute, conceptual artist named Kristoff moves to town, A.Z. realizes she may have found a first mate. Together, they make a plan to build a boat and study the Sea in secret. But from fighting with her best friend to searching for a tourist-terrorizing alligator (that may or may not be a crocodile), distractions are everywhere. Soon, A.Z.’s dreams are in danger of being dashed upon the shore of Mud Beach.

With her self-determined oceanic destiny on the line, A.Z. finds herself at odds with everything she thought she knew about life, love, and the Sea. To get what she wants, she’ll have to decide whether to sink or float . . . But which one comes first?

Release Date: March 2017
Age Group: YA
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Reviewed By: Nat

This was an oddly crafted story. The writing style is more mature than most YA and seemed a bit poetic at times but it was still easy to follow and had a smooth flow of events. I enjoyed AZ and her determined spirit as she hits one road block after another in her pursuit of knowledge and life in general.

The story centers around The Sea of Santiago but the details are never fleshed out. I would have liked to have known a bit more on how this anomaly came to be or if it was just truly a scientific wonder.

The parentals in this story are present and odd all in their own right. I liked how they were fleshed out and believe their peculiarity helped to build the spirit of AZ. But they were different, that's for sure.

And Kristoff, the boyfriend... like any boyfriend of a 14 year old... he was just meh. He was, as my grandfather would always say, "just another dumb kid". I didn't really care for him.

One thing that really stood out to me right from the beginning was how the tourists that visit this little town are referred to as Pilgrims. I re-read one chapter because I thought maybe I was about to read something crazy like The Handmaids Tale. But alas, they were just tourists. #dang

I would consider this a heavier YA read just based on the sentence structure but with a story that is relatable and true to the heart of adolescence. AZ is well-written, engaging and gets caught in a pickle a time or two but you are sure to love her.

Book Review: How to Become a Pirate Hunter by Marty Reeder {& Giveaway}

Summary:  Not everyone is special. Or at least that's what Eric believes. But when the new girl Charlotte tells him he's a natural at hunting pirates, and offers to prove it, Eric can't resist the adventure. Thrown in the middle of the Spanish Main, Eric must quickly accept his skills, or else succumb to the horrors of the dreaded Willard Pirate Twins.

Release Date: March 2017
Age Group: MG
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Reviewed By: Maryn

Want to win a copy? Enter a Giveaway HERE.

Review: I have never been particularly interested in anything that has to do with pirates, but I hoped that this book would be the exception. I was really excited about this one because it mentioned time travel and adventure. In the beginning I was hooked. Right away, you find out that one of the main characters has the ability to see what a person is born to be, their destiny. But then the story took a bit of a turn.

If you are interested in pirates, I assume that your opinion about these parts of the story will differ from mine. I can't believe I'm saying it, but there was too much detail! The characters would go on and on explaining different routes and maps for far too long, making the story unnecessarily confusing. I found myself re-reading entire pages just to try and process all of the routes. I feel these parts of the story would fail to capture the attention of young readers because it's just too much information and kind of boring (unless you love pirate lore).

Although there were low points in the plot, there were still a lot of adventure and twists. This book had me on the edge of my seat several times and it wasn't predictable. Just when I thought the conflict was resolved, something else would happen and change everything. I'm certain that this book will be a hit for middle grade pirate lovers.

The World of Weird Animals: Pink is for Blobfish {Discovering the World's Perfectly Pink Animals} by Jess Keating

Summary: "Pinkalicious" meets National Geographic in this nonfiction picture book introducing the weirdest, wildest, pinkest critters in the animal kingdom! Some people think pink is a pretty color. A fluffy, sparkly, princess-y color. But it's so much more. Sure, pink is the color of princesses and bubblegum, but it's also the color of monster slugs and poisonous insects. Not to mention ultra-intelligent dolphins, naked mole rats and bizarre, bloated blobfish. Isn't it about time to rethink pink? Slip on your rose-colored glasses and take a walk on the wild side with zoologist Jess Keating, author of "How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes Are Untied," and cartoonist David DeGrand. "Readers will never look at pink the same way.

Release Date: February 2016
Age Group: Chidrens, Middle Grade, Curious Minds
Source:Purchased at Scholastic Book Fair
Reviewed By: Nat, The Boys & The Mob

This such an odd little book! I profess that I love all things pink but this blobfish made me re-think that claim.

That fish is the eye-sore eye-candy eye-catcher. When I picked this up at the book fair I had about 5, 1st graders swarm me and ask "What is that?!" It had to be a winner, so I snatched it up and was tempted to peek at it before I got home but I got distracted by about 900 other books. It was a Book Fair, come on.

This book is a fact book and can be very versatile based on the audience. I read it to The Boys first and they were interested in the pictures and the fact column about the animals. They couldn't sit still for the fun animal story so we gawked at the pictures and then read the facts and talked about how crazy this or that fact was and then moved on.

I also had The Mob give it a go. Of course I don't have to read anything to them and just got to watch and listen. They loved the pictures of the nasty little pink creatures and had all kinds of funny comments "hey it looks like youuuu!" "do you think we could catch one?" They took turns reading the animal fats and stories and were pretty interested with all of the text. In the end they gave me accusatory looks and asked if I bought the book just because it was pink...

My response: Maybe. You know you liked it and you all wear pink underwear and I think you are all related to the BLOBFISH. *Blobfish relation as in they are all laaazzzzzzyyyyy little monsters. They are not ugly.

Overall this is a fun book and I learned about several animals that I had never knew existed. This would be a fun addition to a classroom library or for those curious little minds that just like to know the facts.

#WORDWEDNESDAY with Our Favorite Nocturnals

One of our favorite MG series is The Nocturnals by Tracey Hecht. This is a series that introduces uncommon animals, unpredictable mystery all while growing your vocabulary. I'll admit it right now, meshuggina was a new word for me. Kids these days just say you're cray-cray {yes our youth have fallen short in their vocabulary efforts}. Middle schooler's love this series and Ms. Leger has passed these around so much that the covers look like they have gone to war!

The Nocturnals website {HERE} is so interactive and fun but what we love even more is their #WORDWEDNESDAY meme on Twitter.

How cute are these!

There is a word, the definition followed by a sentence using the word. The artwork always perfectly depicts the word taught. These images are perfect for both ELA teachers and homeschool curriculum. 

So scurry on over to Twitter and Learn a Word or two. 

And be sure and add The Nocturnals to your TBR list!


Book Review: The Cubit Quest by Trevor Leck

Summary:  Twelve-year-old Charlie Watkins could have inherited his dad's massive intellect.

He got his massive feet instead.

Perhaps if Charlie had that intellect he might have been able to figure out why so many men in suits were suddenly following him or where his dad hid the Cubit - a mythical object that men have sworn to protect and even more have died trying to possess - before his so-called accident.

If starting yet another new school wasn't bad enough, Charlie meets Mr Leopold, a disfigured, mind-reading lunatic and discovers that he alone must find the Cubit if he is to save his dad. The Brotherhood, however, have other ideas. Led by the ruthless Draganovic, they will stop at nothing to get their hands on it. With the help of Mr Leopold and fellow new boy Elvis, Charlie sets out on The Cubit Quest.

Hunting for the Cubit, playing football, lessons with the dreaded Funeral Face and unsuccessfully avoiding school bully Grimshaw by day, Charlie finds his nights no less complicated. Stalked in his dreams, he's soon immersed in a world of power struggles, battling dragons and duels to the death. With the Brotherhood hot on his heels and as the bullets begin to fly, there are no guarantees that Charlie, or anyone else, will make it to the end in one piece.

Release Date: March 2017
Age Group: MG or YA, Urban Fantasy
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Reviewed By: Nat

Review: This is a coming of age adventure with a bit of a Goonies flair who like to meet in The Matrix for a nice steak dinner. 

The Cubit Quest was fun buuuuttttt... I will admit it was difficult for me. Let me explain.
Leck does a good job of building a strong presence of friendship, loyalty and mystery. I really ended up vested in the story and I still want to know what happens to little Charlie and big 'ol Elvis. 

There is a little something for every genre: mystery, heartache, fighting, ghosts, new dimensions and even dragons. I might say it's Urban Fantasy 'ish.

The content of this story is MG but the flow of the text would better suit a YA audience, it is a bit jumpy. Several times I would have to go back a re-read a paragraph because I had just jumped to an entirely different scene. Distinct formatting would have helped the scene changes. I feel like a reluctant reader would get frustrated.

There are a lot of characters to piece together but in the end they all have a purpose. I wanted to really like some but I just never felt like I got to know them enough to love. For instance, when one dies it really affects Charlie but the "why was he so important?" still lingers.

I am an American. Which means in a lot of cases I (we) think that the rest of the world should follow suit {I know, total snobs}. When you talk about football, I think of the Super Bowl. This story is English and I think football was referring to either cricket or soccer. I had to keep reminding myself to make the mental shift. There are several English terms and references used throughout the text, and that is not a bad thing. I actually found it fascinating and started highlighting phrases to look up later. Here are a few of my notes:

  • "cuppa, fancy one?" --> Is cuppa a cup?
  • dialling 999 --> I thought 911 was universal... I am a fool. I need to know all emergency numbers before I leave the country.
  • on the football pitch
  • "Mario was still smarting"
  • the spelling of "cheque"
  • The English Christmas tradition of "listening to the Queen's speech and munched their way through a tin of Quality Street"
  • ... the posh kids couldn't score for toffee --> does that mean "crap"? Couldn't score for crap? I'm going to start using toffee.
  • Charlie slipped his trousers and trainers on... --> it just sounds cooler than "pants".

Overall, The Cubit Quest is a fun, fast read. Fans of the Goonies and The Matrix will enjoy this adventure.

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