Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Review: "Wonderland: A Coloring Book Inspired by Alice's Adventures" by Amily Shen

Wonderland: A Coloring Book Inspired by Alice's Adventures is more than just pages to color: there's also activities and a story. The papers is nice and thick, so no need to worry about markers bleeding through the double sided pages.

The book is divided into 9 sections, each beginning with a "title page" and a few paragraphs of story. The following 4-6 pages are beautiful designs related to the story just presented. For this reason, this coloring book is unusual in that you may want to go through the coloring pages in order, to fully experience the story.

There are several activities spread throughout, such as a maze, hidden pictures, and suggesting that you add your own drawings to specific pages. You also get to solve the mystery of who ate the Queen of Hearts' cakes. I wasn't interested in the activity parts of the book, but they are not overdone or obtrusive if you're only interested in coloring.

Some of the illustrations are single pages, while others run both sides. While it's nice to have a large and complex scene to color, this book has a lot of designs that are in the fold, making it extremely difficult and testing for the perfectionist in me that doesn't want any white showing in the middle where the pencils can't reach!

Other features of note are a to/from dedication page and the removable dust jacket that you can color the inside of for an extra long coloring experience.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Review: "Nick and Tesla's Solar-Powered Showdown" by "Science Bob" Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith

Nick and Tesla's Solar-Powered Showdown is the the best in the series thus far. The sixth of the series, this book contains major developments from the overall story running through the entire series. That said, it also may be the last installment, as things were wrapped up nicely at the end. That would be a shame, because this series is fantastic for getting children interested in reading and in science.

Nick and Tesla are staying with their Uncle Newt while their parents are missing. Everyone in the family is particularly interested in inventions and science, and Nick and Tesla use their skills to try to find out what happened to their parents.

Filled with illustrations and instructions to build gadgets along with the kid sleuths in the book, this book is engaging for a child to read with an adult's help for some of the tools needed in the inventions. A solar-powered hot dog cooker, a ping-pong ball signal cannon, solar spy birdhouse, and a solar-powered long-range rover are among the projects that you can build along as you read this mystery. The components needed for these gadgets (including mini-solar panels) may be less readily available than the materials for previous books' projects.

New characters introduced in this book seem to be less developed and really don't have any specific traits, but they have minor roles as Nick, Tesla, their friends, and their uncle are the main characters.

The story refers back to things that happened in all of the other Nick and Tesla books (with footnotes from the authors reminding you which story it was in). Therefore, this book is best read after reading everything else to fully appreciate it.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Review: "Remember to Forget" by Ashley Royer

Levi hasn't spoken since the sudden death of his girlfriend, Delia. After months of therapy, there was no improvement on his depression, or his refusal to speak. Out of ideas, his mother decides that he should move from Australia to go live with his father in Maine. Levi is rude, sarcastic, and even cruel to his father when he arrives and to everyone he meets. Neighbors Aiden and Delilah go out of their way to befriend him, despite his attitude. Even Deliliah's name is similar to his lost love, making it even harder for Levi to accept her offers of friendship. But when he realizes he may have feelings for the girl he once hated, he'll have to sort through his emotions and finally work toward healing and moving on.

Even though he is absolutely horrible to everyone around him, the chapters told from his perspective allow the reader to see why he acts the way he does and to know what he is thinking when he is not speaking. There's also chapters written from Delilah's perspective, but they really don't give a good reason as to why she wanted to be friends with Levi when he was downright hostile toward her. She apparently wants to solve the mystery that is Levi, but I don't buy it as a motivation because of the consistency with which he pushes her away, not giving her any hint that he could eventually become friendly. Delilah also just happens to work at Levi's new psychiatrist's office, going as far as to snoop in his records to find out more about him.

Though some parts were unrealistic and contrived, overall the story was interesting enough. The details surrounding Delia's death are revealed slowly through out the book, which added some mystery and depth. There's some great feel good moments to combat Levi's horrifying depression and self-doubt that is abundant in the first half of the novel. When I wasn't rolling my eyes at the cheesiness or unbelievable characters, I cried, I smiled, and I was decently satisfied with the read.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.