Friday, November 13, 2015

The End

I realize that it's been close to three months since anything has gone up on here, and I've been meaning to post something to let everyone know what's been going on, but Alex and I have just gotten crazy busy with life.

Which is part of the reason we have such sad news to deliver (if you haven't already figured it out.)  We've decided to discontinue the blog.  When we started this blog, she had part time jobs, I had no job, and neither of us were married.  Now we both have full time jobs, we're married and have a pluthera of other things going on in our lives.

Other things that have made it impossible for us to continue reviewing and writing for all you lovely folks.  This month, as per usual, we both doing NaNo again, adding one more thing onto the pile of things in our lives.  I transferred to a different store.

But, we want to let you know that we have LOVED reading and reviewing books for you these three years.  And we hope you've found books that you've loved in that time.  It's always been our goal to recommend books we adored and books that were near and dear to our hearts.

That being said, we're keeping the site up, because who knows?  Maybe one day we'll come back.  And, we don't want to get rid of the stuff we've done these three years.  We just can't continue for now.

So until next time, readers.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Bunnicula (and some sequels) by James Howe



Bunnicula was one of the books that I loved reading as a kid.  It had some mystery and interesting characters, but was just this side of ridiculous (I mean, come on, a vampire bunny who sucks the juice out of all the veggies?)  I like the dynamic between all of the characters, how one dog was simultaneously smart (he's writing books after all!) and yet didn't really like to concern himself with much more than sleeping and eating.

I like how the Bunnicula never talks, even though all the other animals are very verbose, but yet we always seem to know what he's feeling.  He has a very prominent role for a character that never talks.

Inevitably, the books end up being more about Chester (the cat) and Harold (the dog) then Bunnicula, so Bunnicula Strikes Again was a nice change because it focused on the bunny and his past a little more than we had seen before.  But, inevitably, it was the same animals up to the same antics.

Monday, August 24, 2015

#9books9days

If you've been following our twitter (or our Facebook page), you might have noticed that I took a little trip!  And since I had nine relaxing days away from work, I decided to read nine books while I was away.

I'm only going to review seven of them today (you're going to have to wait until the end of the week when Alex and I do Bunnicula books), but I'm going to review the rest of them right here, right now, including TWO books that aren't out yet!!

Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld (Release date 9/29/15)


Really, did you expect a Westerfeld book to be bad?  Well, if you're waiting for one, this isn't it.  You have dynamic characters, who grow not only in their characters but in their powers too.  And you know what?  They pushed the envelope on what we think super heroes are.  We think of people with powers as either good or evil, but these kids?  They could really go either way.  And that's kind of what I love about this book.  At the end of the day, they're still just people.

Full Tilt by Neal Shusterman


This is one of Shusterman's earlier ones and, honestly, I was a little weary.  I had read Downsiders and had been a little disappointed, so I wasn't sure how I would feel.  the Unwind distology is a high bar to set, and some of his other writings hasn't met it.  However, Full Tilt isn't in that category.  It was gritty and in your face and really made you think about life.  It was this nice middle ground between Goosebumps and Fear Street.  Scary, but not so scary you had to put the book down.

The Lightning Thief Graphic Novel (Percy Jackson #1) by Rick Riordan


What is there to say about Percy Jackson that hasn't already been said?  Do I love him?  Of course I do.  Percy Jackson is one of my go to book series.  And, if your kid isn't big on the reading, I might direct you towards the Percy Jackson GNs.  Graphic Novels are great things, and I think they fill a certain niche.  But at the end of the day, this just doesn't even hold a candle to how good the first book was.

Poison by Sarah Pinborough


This one was the only real wildcard in my books this month.  All the other books were either ones I'd read before or by authors I adore.  Pinborough was the only author I knew nothing about, and really didn't know much about her books other than they were retellings of fairy tales.  But I like fairtale redos and the covers on her books look beautiful if nothing else (plus, I got them fairly cheap during employee appreciation.)

However, it was the biggest disappointment this week.  Really, Poison just ended up being the same old Snow White story we always knew, with a twist ending.  The only problem was that twist, wasn't really good enough to make up for the rest of the book.  Her writing was mediocre so, really, the book ends up just being something to look pretty on my shelf.

Sold by Patricia McCormack


I have found I have a love hate relationship with McCormack's book.  Some are AMAZING, some are... eh.  Some I think the topics are important, I think the execution just is a little wanky.  Sold I think falls into the last category.  It most definitely gets better as it goes along, but the beginning of it was just really slow and hard to get through (and not in the 'this is so terrible it's hard to read' kind of way.  In the 'this is kind of boring; please get to the story' kind of way.)  But once our main character had entered the brothel and we saw her deal with her life, her reality, and learn to make friends and negotiate her situation, I think that's where the real story came out.  So, good book, but one that you had to stick with to get there.

Rumble by Ellen Hopkins


I actually expected more out of this book.  That's not to say that I didn't like it, because I did.  I think I've just gotten used to the shock factor in her books and this wasn't one of those books.  BUT I will say that I really did like her approach to the ideas of religion and there being a God.  The main character of our book is an atheist, and there are varying degrees of religious belief all around him, from his overtly christian girlfriend, to his mildly religious aunt, who believes in a creator, but doesn't push it.  As usual, Hopkins hits those topics that people are afraid to talk about, like the idea of a creator, and how people believe, and THAT is what I liked about this book.

Another Day by David Levithan ( Release Date 8/25/15)


When I saw this sitting on the break room table just two days after David Levithan had posted a picture of the cover, words can not describe the excitement I felt.  Seriously, I was jumping up and down in our break room, I was so stoked (we hardly ever get ARCs that I TRULY want to read.)  And this book was every word as good as I thought that it would be.

Levithan really pushes the bounds of sexuality for us, really making us rethink what is male and female, gay, straight, does it even matter, if we're in love?  And I like that it's not a straight forward answer either.  A has been like that his whole life, but it's much harder for Rhiannon to get past the conventions.  Either way, Levithan construction a most wonderful love story that pulls at our heart strings.  I've been waiting for this book for years, and I was not disappointed for a moment.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Review me Twice - Butter by Erin Jade Lange


To be honest with you, I thought this book was going to be about anorexia, not about an overweight kid, but that's just because I didn't read the blurb on the back (I hardly ever do the weeks that Alex picks.  I like to be surprised.)

But to be honest, I think obesity, and how it effects the KID, should be addressed.  We're so concerned with kids and their weight and the health issues associated with it, we're not thinking about the kid, and what's going on with them, and how their being treated and if they're depressed and that maybe, just maybe, their obesity isn't just because they like to eat.

I think Lange does a good job of addressing the issue and really making a point, showing you the problems obese kids face, and showing you that they are people, just like everyone else.  Like most problem novels, she shows us something that we've known all along; kids are cruel.  Fall in with the wrong set of them, and they're only going to make your life worse.

I like the ending because while it does have a little bit of the "everything wrapped in a neat bow" ending, it also has a log of the "things are really still screwed up and not fixed."

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Coming to a Barnes & Noble near you

If you happen to be living in a bubble, you may not have heard that Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, is coming out with a new book on Tuesday, called Go Set a Watchman.

Barnes & Noble is doing a read-a-thon tomorrow, and if you walk into any Barnes & Noble between open and close, you can listen to someone reading To Kill a Mockingbird.

So my Customer Relations Manager and I thought up and AWESOME plan where I visit four B&Ns and read at their read-a-thons!

To be fair, I AM driving home from NY, so I was making this trip anyway, but it's still cool.  So below are the B&Ns I'm visiting with the (VERY) rough estimated times I will be there.

Moorestown, NJ (Between 12-1)
Christiana Mall (Between 3-4)
Belair, MD (Between 6-7)
Tyson's Corner, VA (Around 8-9)

If you can't see me at any of these places, you can follow my adventures on Twitter, @reviewmetwice.  Also, if you see me, take a picture!  #GoWatchaBookseller

Friday, June 26, 2015

Review Me Twice: Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor


It took me ages to finally pick up this book. (And that, combined with the fact that I left it in my office overnight too many times, is why I didn't QUITE finish it on time, so I can't speak to the ending of the book.) But I'm glad I finally did start it, because it was a lot better than I expected.

I expected your average silly teenage girl who is entirely focused on the little things at school but then realizes there's something "so much bigger" out there, and she's required to be "the one" to fix it. What I got was a girl who already knew about the "so much bigger" (although not all of it) and plays a very delicate balancing game in order to maintain both a "normal" life where she gets to think about grades and boys, and her supernaturally-related life where she has obligations and real consequences. Then everything gets turned upside down and she chooses to do something about it.

Although I do have to admit... when the seraph gets involved, she turns into a simpering, lovesick girl (even when she thinks she hates him, so I'm not even spoiling anything for you... right off the bat, it's like "oh you're so my enemy but damn you fine").

That doesn't bother me too much, but the really heavily laid-on-thick "who are you" question bothers me quite a bit. From the very beginning, Karou's origins and history are an enormous mystery. You can't just have a new character announce in the middle of the book that he figured out the secret and then lead me on for at least several more chapters (I haven't gotten to where - if anywhere - in this book he tells the big secret). Yes, I like mystery and secrets that don't get revealed for a long time, but not if you draw that much attention to them. It's too blatant.

Beyond that, though, this is a very well-written book, and I would recommend it to most.

This book was recommended to me by my YA bookclub librarian... about four times.  And then I FINALLY picked the first one up and read it.

Really, I had put it off too long.  Karou is a very independent, do what she will, refuses to just take her punches and lie down kind of girl.  Even though she loves her adopted family to death, and knows nothing about her past, and has been told to just stop asking so many damned questions.... she never stops asking questions.

Ultimately, it gets her in some trouble, as questions are wont to do, but she doesn't even let THAT stop her.  She seeks out solutions, answers, is determined to know what is going on and WHY it's going on, and won't let creepy old guys or dangerous situations stand in her way.

I will give you that the romance is a little... OF COURSE she falls in love with the super hot guy, but to her credit, she did beat the crap out of the super hot guy first, so there's that.  Karou is incredibly loyal and I like that about her.

I like that the mystery of her past was drawn out and I like that the book was left at a cliff hanger, (much in the same way that Ashes by Ilsa Black was).  It makes you want to read the next one.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Review Me Twice: Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman


For the first 1/6 or so of this book, I was really interested, totally on board, ready to hear more. For the next 4/6 (or 2/3 if you prefer), I was irritated with Piper for being... I'm not entirely sure what. She didn't seem to be connecting with her situation very well. Granted, she admits that she was very lucky to have high-end legal representation, and people on the outside with far more resources than the loved ones her fellow prisoners had outside, but it doesn't really seem to sink in for her. Until, of course, the last 1/6, where I felt like some kind of redemption happened. She really got it.

I think that maybe if this had been written during Piper's time in prison, instead of after it, the whole book would have a very different tone. She was lucky; she didn't experience any immense hardships or abuse during her year in prison.

Certainly, I learned things from this book. I would love it if more prisoners wrote similar memoirs about their time inside, to present a wide spectrum of experiences and viewpoints. I also appreciated the list of organizations and contacts at the end of the book that address different ways of helping prisoners and their families (my favorite is "Book 'Em," which is Pennsylvania-based and provides books to prisoners and prison libraries).

I wouldn't run around telling everyone I see to read this book, but it is quite good, and if someone asked me about it, I'd say that yes, they should read it.

For a book that's as famous as this one is, and that's been a bestseller for as long as this one has (seriously forever.  It's still sitting on the bestseller list.  I'd say it's been at least a year.) I was expecting a little more out of it.

It took me awhile to get into the book, and then it took even longer to figure out why she had written it.  Thank goodness it's not that long of a book.

However, I admit I grew very attached to the characters, to these women that she spent a year plus with, that she shared some of her most intimate experiances with.  You found yourself rooting for these women in a way you never really thought pssibly and seeing these "criminals" in a whole new light.  Have they done things wrong in their lives, sure, but about half of them would be better suited to a true rehabilitation program.  Or better yet, a program that helps them get jobs and housing and gives them ways to stay off the streets so they didn't have to sell drugs and land themselves there in the first place.

I will admit that the book sheds a harsh light on the growing problem of our prison system.  Kerman's prison had a litany of its own problems and, compared to what she had to deal with when she went to high security prisons in Oklahoma and Chicago, it really wasn't bad in comparisson.  The book showed how much money is wasted on prisons instead of maybe putting it toards our school.  That we incarcerating instead of teaching.

It was an enjoyable book, that I'm glad I read, mainly because I think it's a good idea to read the books that everyone has read, be they good or bad.  But it has been added to my "to be donated" pile.