Monday, March 28, 2016

Review: "The Berenstain Bears: Bear Country Fun Sticker & Activity Book" by Jan & Mike Berenstain

The Berenstain Bears Bear Country Fun Sticker & Activity Book is a thin, 32-page paperback perfect for entertaining that 4-8 year old in your life. There's a variety of activities, most of which can be enjoying without reading, though younger children may need help with the instructions.

Activities include mazes, counting, search and find hidden pictures and letters, coloring, line tracing, word search, placing stickers on a picture, spot the differences, color by number, crossword puzzle, circles items starting with "B" and tracing the letter, matching season names to activities, message/symbol decoding, connect the dots, pattern detecting and completing with stickers, and drawing.

Though there is a range of difficulty, there is sure to be something children of every age will enjoy. The only issue I found with the puzzles was that on the page that directs the child to complete a pattern using stickers, the blank spaces were not always large enough to fit another iteration of the pattern. The stickers are "reusable," meaning they come off the glossy paper, but I can picture my niece sticking and resticking on that puzzle trying to make them all fit within the provided space and being frustrated that it isn't possible.

Even with that little hiccup, I do think the activities that directly involve the stickers would be the most appealing, at least to my niece who loves stickers. Of the 50 stickers provided, I'd say about half have directed use within the book, and the other half can be placed anywhere.

Some of the pages are faith-based, such as talking about the family going to church and doing a word search to find the words they learn about in church. "Do to others what you would have them do to you" and "love your neighbor" are also messages shared through the activities. There's really not that many pages that directly mention God, but the overall message of the book is very positive, promoting a love of learning and outdoor/family activities.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Book Look for this review.  The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the product.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Review: "The Fold" by Peter Clines

Peter Clines' The Fold is an exciting sci-fi thriller that will keep you fully immersed until the end. Mike Erikson is hired on by a friend in the government to check up on a highly classified scientific research project. All evidence points to the success of the researchers in building a machine that "fold" dimensions as a way of sort of teleporting people, by jumping across dimensions. Yet, with the extra-high levels of security, something just doesn't feel right.

That's why Mike's on the job, uniquely qualified because he doesn't forget anything ever. Every thing he's ever heard, read, or seen is immediately available for him to recall at any moment.

The mystery of what the research team may be hiding builds through the novel as Mike witnesses the machine in action, and some rather odd occurrences. Things get exponentially stranger as the novel progresses and the machine itself undergoes unexpected changes. As the team struggles to keep things under control, Mike stops reporting his findings and starts trying to save the world.

The fantastical side of the story goes from just the right level of incredible but not ridiculous to wildly "out-there" pretty quickly. I wasn't as much of a fan once mutant space bugs entered the scene. There was also quite a bit of unnecessary and repetitive profanity. It just didn't add anything to the story, and made the characters seem less interesting for not having something substantive to contribute to the situations.

I really enjoyed getting to explore the technology through Mike's eyes and experience the incredible accomplishments of the researchers. The grating sense that something is off permeates every page and keeps the mystery alive. I was invested in the outcome and overall enjoyed the book. After reading this, I'd be interested to check out the author's other novels.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.  The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the product.