Discussion Post: Happy Birthday To Me!

October 25, 2014 Alisa Uncategorized 4 Comments

discussion-3 smalliconalisa So today is my birthday! Yesterday my husband had the day off from work so we spent the entire day together, thanks to my parents who kindly took care of MJ all day long.  It was really fun, first we went out for Sushi which I haven’t had for the last nine months because it is not recommended during pregnancy. Afterwards we went to Barnes and Noble and spent hours walking around looking at the books, I ended up picking up a new graphic novel. Then we went to a couple of different stores and took our time looking around, honestly another thing I really took for granted before having MJ was having enough free time to leisurely do anything. Then in the evening we went to see the tour of Phantom of The Opera, because my husband had never seen it live. We really had a great time and before hand we had a nice romantic dinner out.  I am going to do a longer post later about the Phantom of The Opera tour and some of the changes I noticed etc. This morning my parents watched MJ as I took the opportunity to sleep in and then they took me out to breakfast! Today I am just chilling out and watching Miranda while I watch dumb television. It has been a good birthday so far :)

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Graphic Novel Review: Suee and The Shadow Part II

October 22, 2014 Alisa Graphic Novel Reviews, Uncategorized 1 Comment

 

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22092014Suee and The Shadow Part II

Author: Ginger Ly

Published: Published May 15th 2014 by Bhive Comics

Genres: Middle Grade, Detective, Paranormal

Find this book on Goodreads

Blurb: Something terribly wrong is happening at Suee’s school. Can anyone save the school? The Zero Detective Club is on the case! New friends Suee, Haeun and Hyunwoo must solve the mystery of the Zeroes before they fall victim to the Zero disease. The Zero Detective Club must make a plan, follow the clues and save the day. However, one member of the club has something she isn’t telling the others.

 

 

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Alisa’s Verdict:

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I reviewed the first graphic novel last year and I was eager to pick up the next volume in this series to see how this story would pan out! The story continues with Suee trying to find out what is causing the loners and outsiders in her school to become ‘zeroes’ (which is essentially zombies who are not in control of their own actions.)  Suee continues to be a fun and sarcastic character who I enjoy watching interact with other characters. As for the mystery, to an adult reader it is obvious there is a connection between the events in the school and what happened to Suee in the first chapter of this story. However there is still are a lot of unanswered questions and the overall tone of the story is dark/suspenseful. This volume like the first is quite short and though it has a great ending I wonder why the author has chosen to split them up into so many parts as it feels like it could be told in one larger volume. I definitely will check out the next volume as I am eager to see what happens to the characters, especially Hyeun. As for the art in continues to impress with it bold lines and use of black, red, white tones. It definitely has a gothic tone to it and I could see many middle school students relating to Suee as a character.

rating4

 

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Book Review: Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier

October 20, 2014 Alisa Book Reviews 2 Comments

5967f141c642cb6c91640751f408165dSapphire Blue

Series: Precious Stone Trilogy #2

Author: Kerstin Gier

Published: October 30th 2012

Genres: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction

Find this book on Goodreads

Blurb: Gwen’s life has been a rollercoaster since she discovered she was the Ruby, the final member of the secret time-traveling Circle of Twelve. In between searching through history for the other time-travelers and asking for a bit of their blood (gross!), she’s been trying to figure out what all the mysteries and prophecies surrounding the Circle really mean.

At least Gwen has plenty of help. Her best friend Lesley follows every lead diligently on the Internet. James the ghost teaches Gwen how to fit in at an eighteenth century party. And Xemerius, the gargoyle demon who has been following Gwen since he caught her kissing Gideon in a church, offers advice on everything. Oh, yes. And of course there is Gideon, the Diamond. One minute he’s very warm indeed; the next he’s freezing cold. Gwen’s not sure what’s going on there, but she’s pretty much destined to find out.

 

Alisa’s Review:

smalliconalisaI very much enjoyed the first book in this trilogy Ruby Red. I have always liked Time Travel stories and I liked the new twist that the first book in this series gave that instead of traveling in a machine, that in fact the characters in this in this book are born with the ability to time travel.  This book continues the journey of the main character Gwyneth as she comes to terms with her abilities and attempts to find the solution to some of the unanswered questions in the first book.

This second book feels rather like the first in that it is slowly building up towards an epic conclusion. As well it continues to develop her romance and relationship with Gideon. I continue to like Gideon as a character, he is complex and it is not always entirely clear what his motivations are. I like the push and pull of their relationship in this book, at times it seems they are getting close and at other times it seems they are further apart than ever. I felt the relationship was better developed in this story and I got a more real sense of why Gideon likes Gwyneth. As well this book introduces a Gargoyle character- Xemerius who becomes Gwyneth’s sidekick in this novel and though I found him jarring at first, I eventually really enjoyed him and several of his observations are very funny.

The best part of the story for me however is the mystery that surrounds this secret society and I enjoyed the revelations that are found in this book. I especially like the conclusion of this book because it set up a great sense of tension and has made me eager to want to continue with the series.  This book series is  great fun and I definitely recommend it for those who are looking for a lighthearted adventure story with romance and for those who love a good time travel tale!

*I am currently on maternity leave and taking care of a newborn, so I have less time to draw a full illustration for each of my reviews. So until I have a bit more free time I am going to just do written reviews as they are easier to complete one handed LOL

rating4

 

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Discussion Post: The Fine Art Of Multi-Tasking

October 16, 2014 Alisa Uncategorized 12 Comments

discussion-3 smalliconalisa As you all know we just welcomed our first child into the world! It is amazing how quickly one event can change your life so entirely, it is wonderful but at times overwhelming just how much I am responsible for now. It got me to thinking today about how tricky I thought it was to manage daily life before the baby but now that she is here I realize I took for granted just the ability to type two handed before the last two weeks! I am learning slowly how to watch the baby while I make breakfast etc.  This has not always been the easiest learning process but it has definitely been rewarding as I get to know my daughter and better understand what she needs from me.

That being said even before MJ came into the world keeping up with blogging was something I always wanted to do, but found hard to find the time to do. I have worked on lately trying to reduce the amount of posts I do so I can keep up, but in spite of my efforts I always fall a few weeks behind. It is really hard sometimes to find the time and energy to write posts when there are piles of dishes to be done, laundry to fold, bills to pay and a newborn that needs your attention!

I was curious does anyone else struggle with balancing home life, work and blogging the way I do? If so how do you manage to get it all done?

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Graphic Novel Reviews: This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki

October 15, 2014 Alisa Graphic Novel Reviews 0 Comments

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18465566This One Summer

Author: Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki

Published: May 6th 2014

Genres: Young Adult, Coming Of Age,

Find this book on Goodreads

Blurb: Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It’s their getaway, their refuge. Rosie’s friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose’s mom and dad won’t stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. It’s a summer of secrets and sorrow and growing up, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.

In This One Summer two stellar creators redefine the teen graphic novel. Cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, the team behind Skim, have collaborated on this gorgeous, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful story about a girl on the cusp of her teen age—a story of renewal and revelation.

 

Things I liked:

  • The art is really beautiful and powerful in this book and really matches the themes of the story.
  • The story is a very honest and at times sad, but very compelling as a read.
  • The characters felt very realistic and their thought processes very true to the time of life these characters are going through.

Things I disliked:

  • Sometimes the use of language was rather rough at times, for me this was jarring but I understand it fit the character/tones/themes of the story.  The characters are not all entirely pleasant in this book, but they are realistic and well drawn out.

Favorite Moment:

I really liked the scenes between Rose and Windy, it was interesting seeing the events through the lens of a younger person, though often they are dealing with very adult subjects and concerns.

What I thought of the art style:

1summer2

 

The art is really beautiful and powerful in this graphic novel and I think it is really what makes this book work, sometimes the wordless panels were even more effective and evocative than those with lots of dialogue.

Alisa’s Verdict:

smalliconalisaThis graphic novel was not what I expected based on the cover and blurb. I was expecting a more lighthearted tale of coming of age in a summer setting, what I got instead was at times a very adult tale about two girls who are fascinated by the adult world, but don’t have the information to process it or understand it’s subtext. Rose is really the center piece of the story and she is going through a very hard time, her mother is suffering though Rose doesn’t know why and her parents marriage is tense.  Rose’s feelings and responses to events around her are real and at times painful to read about. However I left the story feeling touched by the struggles of this main character and glad I took the journey with the characters.

rating4
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Book Review: How To Say Goodbye In Robot by Natalie Standiford

October 13, 2014 Alisa Realistic, Young Adult 4 Comments

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0-545-10708-3How To Say Goodbye In Robot

Author: Natalie Standiford

Published:  October 1st 2009 by Scholastic Press

Genres: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction

Find this book on Goodreads

Blurb:  New to town, Beatrice is expecting her new best friend to be one of the girls she meets on the first day. But instead, the alphabet conspires to seat her next to Jonah, aka Ghost Boy, a quiet loner who hasn’t made a new friend since third grade. Something about him, though, gets to Bea, and soon they form an unexpected friendship. It’s not romance, exactly – but it’s definitely love. Still, Bea can’t quite dispel Jonah’s gloom and doom – and as she finds out his family history, she understands why. Can Bea help Jonah? Or is he destined to vanish?

 

Alisa’s Review:

smalliconalisaWhile I am not the biggest fan of contemporary, realistic fiction, I have been wanting to read How to Say Goodbye in Robot ever since I fell in love with another of Natalie Standiford’s books, The Boy on the Bridge. What I liked most about that book was the way it presented us with challenging characters who are not always entirely likeable. It presented us with a relationship that felt true to life, complex and mysterious.

How to Say Goodbye in Robot is also a book that challenges you. It tells the story of a difficult friendship between Bea and Jonah, the emotionally-traumatized survivor from a horrific car accident.

Bea is an interesting main character – an artsy type who enjoys taking photographs of herself with her mother that recreate moments from classic films. As a result of moving schools frequently, she has struggled to form lasting friendships and that leads to her mother criticizing her, comparing her to a robot that is incapable of connecting to the humans around her.

At her brand new school she has an opportunity to be accepted by the popular kids but is drawn to an outcast, Jonah who they nickname Ghost Boy. One of the things Natalie Standiford does well is that she doesn’t have typical, simple relationships between her protagonists. Their friendship is incredibly rocky and uneven – while I am certain that they care for each other, Jonah is so incapable of forming a positive connection that it often seems one-sided. I wanted the characters to end up happy and I could see why Jonah needs Bea but I couldn’t help thinking she’d be better off forgetting about him at times.

That being said, I could see the positive moments in their friendship. For instance, there’s a lovely sequence of scenes in which they bond over listening to a late night radio show.

Be prepared for a rocky relationship but there is lots to admire here. The characterization feels striking and real. I like that it’s challenging but be aware that it can be a little uncomfortable and that things are destined for an unhappy conclusion…

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Discussion: The Newest Addition To Picture Us Reading

October 10, 2014 Alisa Uncategorized 19 Comments

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To say it has been a crazy few weeks is an understatement! Regular readers will know that we have been awaiting the birth of our first child. She was originally supposed to be born on September 22nd but that day came and went. When we had a Doctor’s appointment a week later, we realized that due to some complications we were going to have to change our plans to have her delivered with a c-section.

Our daughter, MJ, was born on October 1st at 9pm, weighing 9 pounds and 3 ounces! It was my first time having surgery and I was glad when it was over and I was able to see her and know that she would be okay.

It’s now a little over a week later and I am feeling good and have healed up well from the surgery. MJ is thriving, having been checked over twice by her pediatrician. We are extremely proud of her and excited to share life experiences with her, reading and playing with her.

Posting may be sporadic over the next week or so as we settle her into a proper sleeping rhythm and I get some myself! I am looking forward to catching up on comments and all of the blog posts I’ve missed.

MJ on the day we brought her home from the hospital in her Froggy pajamas.

MJ spends some time with her Daddy.

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Graphic Novel Review: My Boyfriend Is A Monster By Evonne Tsang

October 8, 2014 Alisa Graphic Novel Reviews 2 Comments

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9179493My Boyfriend Is A Monster#1

Author: Evonne Tsang

Published: Published October 5th 2011 by Marvel

Genres:  Young Adult, Manga, Zombies

Find this book on Goodreads

Blurb: Can love survive the zombie apocalypse? Maybe Dicey’s first chance at a real relationship was dead from the start. She’s the star of her high school baseball team, and Jack’s the star of the science program. Her idea of a study session includes sleeping in the sun, and his idea of a good game involves dungeons and dice. But opposites start attracting when they’re assigned to be partners in a class project. Now an outbreak of a weird infection–it eats your brains and leaves you hungry for more–might not mean just the end of their first date. It might mean the end of everything. Will their relationship fall apart faster than zombies in the Florida sun, or can Dicey and Jack beat the odds and find a happy ending?

Things I liked:

  • The relationship between Dicey and Jack was very cute and definitely a case of opposites attract.
  • The beginning of the story in which Dicey and Jack work together on the project was really cute and funny.
  • I loved the Dungeon and Dragons sequence, another cute sequence that shows a lot about Jack’s character.

Things I disliked:

  • The zombie story itself was very slight and though it had great moments it concludes rather to easily for my tastes.

Favorite Moment:

Zombies_ink055

 

I love the awkwardness of Jack and Dicey at this moment and how she teases him about his t-shirt.

What I thought of the art style:

I love him to pieces 1

 

The art style was cute and definitely had an anime feeling to it, however I think it would have been even nicer in color.

 Alisa’s Verdict:

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This is a series of graphic novels that feature a romance of a human being with some sort of supernatural creature, so going in this I expected a very different story than the one I got as both characters are human (though one is shortly infected but very quickly is healed.) It really is mostly about the awkward romance between the two main characters, one a science nerd and the other an athlete. That romance was well drawn out and very cute, but I kept wondering when the supernatural element would really kick in. Once that element does kick in, it is resolved very easily and very quickly. This was a fun and quick read but I don’t feel it has the strongest plot line and as a result I probably will not pick up the rest of the series.

 

 

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Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books For Readers Who Like Character Driven Novels

October 7, 2014 Alisa Top Ten Tuesday 8 Comments

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Is a novel character driven or plot driven? That is I think difficult to define in a lot of books, sometimes it is pretty 50/50. When thinking up this list I was trying to find books that I knew the main character’s personality and choices really drive the action, rather than the plot just moving along because of events that are out of their control.  I realized in fact I probably have a preference for character driven rather than plot driven as so many books I like fall in the first category.

 

FANGIRL_CoverDec2012-725x10751. Fangirl

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Find this book on Goodreads
Why This Book Is Character Driven:

I think all of Rainbow Rowell’s books are pretty character driven. Cath is a unique and very well drawn character, the story evolves based on the personal judgment calls she makes throughout the story. I love this book and I highly recommend reading it if you haven’t already.

 

102102. Jane Eyre

Author: Charlotte Bronte

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Why This Book Is Character Driven:

This book is probably the most character driven book I have ever read because the focus is entirely on the journey of Jane Eyre from her childhood to adulthood. Her personal choices are what drives every big event in the story and my love for this character is why this is my all  time favorite book!

 

32363073. Graceling

Author: Kristin Cashore

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Why This Book Is Character Driven:

When thinking about this list this book really came to mind, though it could be said that it is very plot driven as well. Katsa is a great lead character and if you like strong female protagonists I think you should check out this book.

 

27670524. The Hunger Games

Author: Suzanne Collins

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Why This Book Is Character Driven:

This book could be argued to be both character and plot driven, but when thinking about the big events of the story they all center around Katniss’s choices. The entire plot of the first novel centers around her choice to volunteer as tribute and that causes the series of events that occur afterwards to spiral out of control.

 

157953575. Eleanor and Park

Author: Rainbow Rowell

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Why This Book Is Character Driven:

Once again Rainbow Rowell tops this list because I think she is a very character driven author. The thing I like the most about her books is just how easy it is to connect with and like her main characters. I absolutely love this book and think it is a must read!

 

 

6. Shatter Me

Author: Tahereh Mafi

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Why This Book Is Character Driven:

Another book that I think it driven by the main character’s choices. I really enjoyed this story, definitely worth checking out.

 

 

 Divergent hc c (2)7. Divergent

Author: Veronica Roth

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Why This Book Is Character Driven:

This is a story in a similar vein to The Hunger Games in that the action of the story is based on a big choice the main character makes in the first novel, to leave abnegation in favor of dauntless. I wasn’t a huge fan of how the series ended but I did really enjoy this first novel.

 

71573108. Rot and Ruin

Author: Jonathan Maberry

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Why This Book Is Character Driven:

This is a great novel that has plot driven aspects but I definitely believe to be character driven as well. Benny Imura’s choices lead the action of the story and I definitely think it’s one of the best Zombie stories I have ever read.

 

 

414249. Beauty

Author: Robin Mckinley

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Why This Book Is Character Driven:

I think all of the Robin McKinley fairytale stories are character driven, as she takes a vaguely drawn characters and really fleshes them up making them more real as the story progresses. This definitely my favorite of her retellings, as it is based on ‘Beauty and The Beast’.

 

10. Landline

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Find this book on Goodreads

Why This Book Is Character Driven:

Another one of Rainbow Rowell’s excellent books which I think creates a unique set of likable and relatable characters. I really liked this book and think you should check it out!

 

 

Which do you prefer, plot driven or character driven novels?

 

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Book Review: Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George

October 6, 2014 Alisa Book Reviews, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult 10 Comments

princessofglass

7199667Princess of Glass

Author:  Jessica Day George

Series: Princess #2

Published: May 25th 2010 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Find this book on Goodreads

Blurb:  Hoping to escape the troubles in her kingdom, Princess Poppy reluctantly agrees to take part in a royal exchange program, whereby young princes and princesses travel to each other’s countries in the name of better political alliances–and potential marriages. It’s got the makings of a fairy tale–until a hapless servant named Eleanor is tricked by a vengeful fairy godmother into competing with Poppy for the eligible prince. Ballgowns, cinders, and enchanted glass slippers fly in this romantic and action-packed happily-ever-after quest from an author with a flair for embroidering tales in her own delightful way.

Alisa’s Review:

smalliconalisaWhen I reviewed the first book in this series, Princess of the Midnight Ball, I said that while I enjoyed the adventure the novel never really did anything unexpected. I was keen to see what happened next though and I am happy to report that the second novel in the series frequently does the unexpected.

This novel is set in the immediate aftermath of the first. The events of that first novel have prompted a diplomatic crisis and so the unmarried princesses have been dispatched to neighboring countries to try to ease some of those tensions.

I really liked this story’s main character, the Princess Poppy, who is smart, feisty and fiercely independent. While Rose remained very loosely drawn in the first novel, Poppy has a much stronger personality. I enjoyed following her adventures and cared for her as she is on her own in a foreign kingdom and has become the subject of gossip and suspicion after the events of the first story.

I loved the romance in this novel. Not only is the relationship between Poppy and the Prince sweet and fun, I loved that it develops out of a friendship. I also thought that this novel was very smart in the way it takes a classic fairy tale and adapts it to fit into the story. This novel takes its inspiration from Cinderella and yet it’s not Poppy who finds herself in the Cinderella role but a servant who is being manipulated. Nobody is who we expect them to be and magic is used in dark and interesting was to push the story forward, building to a really satisfying conclusion.

This was definitely a big improvement on the first novel and I am glad that I stuck with the series. I am looking forward to catching up with the next installment and getting to know another of the princesses.

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