Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Nick and Tesla's Super Cyborg Gadget Glove by "Science Bob" Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith

(Thank you to Quirk Books for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

Bright siblings—and amateur inventors—Nick and Tesla Holt are back in this fourth installment of their whiz-bang middle-grade series. This time, the twins are out to save science itself, as they race against the clock to figure out why a robotic assortment of history’s greatest scientists and inventors keeps going haywire. Is this sabotage, robo-geddon…or something more sinister? To unravel the mystery, they’ll have to keep adding all-new gadgets to their cyborg glove as they stay one step ahead of a hidden adversary.

Together with zany scientist Uncle Newt and their friends Silas and DeMarco, Nick and Tesla won’t give up until an answer is found…but can they do it before time runs out? In this book, readers will learn how to construct a super-cyborg gadget glove that has four incredible functions: LED signal light, ultra-loud emergency alarm, handy sound recorder, and UV secret message revealer. Science and electronics have never been so much fun!

my thoughts:

Color me happy.  I've just finished reading another installment in the fantastic Nick and Tesla series by "Science Bob" Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith.  This time round, the brother/sister duo have to battle an unknown saboteur at the local science museum, where their Uncle Newt is currently working a gig.  He's helping fix an exhibit of robots - the only problem is that they keep going haywire on him.  And the museum is having a HUGE gala in mere hours, so time is of the essence.  Of course, its not going to be easy for Nick and Tesla to figure out this mystery, what with security and the museum director keeping an eye on them.  Then again, these two like a good challenge and they are up for the task with the help of their friends.

Except, Nick isn't really into solving another mystery.  He's more concerned with the whereabouts of their parents who seem to be MIA.  Plus, all the crazy things that have happened since their folks left them in their uncle's care have made him feel a bit anxious.  And, then there's the fact that his sister always seems determined to meet danger head on.  So, Nick is rather annoyed when Tesla pushes him to work on this new mystery alongside her and their two friends, Silas and DeMarco.  Of course, once the adventure begins, he's right there by her side.  And what an adventure it is - men dressed as dancing owls, gadget gloves, possible kidnapping, and so much more!

Nick and Tesla's Super Cyborg Gadget Glove is a fantastic read!  Its chock full of science, fun, mystery, and a bit of danger.  I swear these books get better and better with each new addition to the series.  I'm eager to find out where the next book will take Nick and Tesla, and whether or not we will ever find out what his parents are hiding.  And, I'm excited to find out what new gadgets there are to build alongside the book. 

If you are looking for a fun book that will keep your kid entertained and teach them a bit about science, then check out Nick and Tesla's Super Cyborg Gadget Glove.

Thanks to Quirk Books for providing me with a copy of this book!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Us: A novel by David Nicholls

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

David Nicholls brings the wit and intelligence that graced his enormously popular New York Times bestseller, One Day, to a compellingly human, deftly funny new novel about what holds marriages and families together—and what happens, and what we learn about ourselves, when everything threatens to fall apart.

Douglas Petersen may be mild-mannered, but behind his reserve lies a sense of humor that, against all odds, seduces beautiful Connie into a second date . . . and eventually into marriage. Now, almost three decades after their relationship first blossomed in London, they live more or less happily in the suburbs with their moody seventeen year-old son, Albie. Then Connie tells him she thinks she wants a divorce.

The timing couldn’t be worse. Hoping to encourage her son’s artistic interests, Connie has planned a month-long tour of European capitals, a chance to experience the world’s greatest works of art as a family, and she can’t bring herself to cancel. And maybe going ahead with the original plan is for the best anyway? Douglas is privately convinced that this landmark trip will rekindle the romance in the marriage, and might even help him to bond with Albie.

Narrated from Douglas’s endearingly honest, slyly witty, and at times achingly optimistic point of view, Us is the story of a man trying to rescue his relationship with the woman he loves, and learning how to get closer to a son who’s always felt like a stranger. Us is a moving meditation on the demands of marriage and parenthood, the regrets of abandoning youth for middle age, and the intricate relationship between the heart and the head. And in David Nicholls’s gifted hands, Douglas’s odyssey brings Europe—from the streets of Amsterdam to the famed museums of Paris, from the caf├ęs of Venice to the beaches of Barcelona—to vivid life just as he experiences a powerful awakening of his own. Will this summer be his last as a husband, or the moment when he turns his marriage, and maybe even his whole life, around?

my thoughts:

As a huge fan of One Day by David Nicholls, I was eager to read his next book, Us.  I was especially pleased to learn that it had been longlisted for the Man Book Prize 2014, because I knew that meant it was going to be a great read.  Suffice it to say, the Man Booker committee was right to choose Us.  A contemporary novel that explores a twenty-five year old marriage via a family vacation through Europe is certainly not what I expected - its much more. 

Douglas tells us the tale of how he met, married, and reared a child with Connie through flashbacks, as the couple and their seventeen year old son travel through Europe.  You see, Connie decided that they should use the summer before their son, Albie, heads off to university as a way to bond and spend some quality time together.  Of course, Douglas didn't count on Connie informing him that she wanted out of their marriage - and on the eve of departure no less!  Ack!  Douglas is upset, hurt, confused, and doesn't know what to do about Connie's confession.  So, they head off to Paris in the hopes of enjoying their time together (and Douglas hopes that this trip will change Connie's mind).  However, not all family vacations are going to turn out how you envisioned.  In the Petersens case, there are complaints on the first day - too much luggage, not enough alone time, scheduled tour stops, etc.  Seems like no one is too happy to be embarking on a trip that will have the trio spending all their time together - well, except for Douglas who is hoping to rekindle his marriage with Connie and create some father-son memories with Albie. 

This family is unhappy - plain and simple.  Douglas had no idea that his wife was thinking about leaving him - he didn't even realize that their marriage was no longer working.  As for Albie, well, they never really had a strong relationship, as Albie was more of a mama's boy and tended to connect with his mother over their shared interest of art and the bohemian lifestyle she once lived.  Feeling like a bit of an outsider, Douglas' perspective on his relationships are a bit skewed from that vantage point.  He doesn't seem to understand where this dissension is truly coming from - he just thinks that he's tried so hard to love them that he's done enough.  Learning about their marriage and their son, I couldn't help but feel sorry for Douglas at times.  I found Connie to be rather selfish and did think that she preferred to be with her art friends more than Douglas - he was right on that count.  As for Albie, I can't really seem to pick up on when exactly he fell out of love with his dad - what happened to cause this rift?  Of course, I haven't finished the book just yet, so perhaps Nicholls reveals the moment when all the walls came tumbling down in Casa Petersen.  I'm at the point in the story where the trip has unraveled and people have separated and Douglas is now on a mission of redemption (of sorts).  I can't wait to find out what happens in Venice.  I have to admit I'm loving reading about all of the cities they visit in Europe - its a lovely way to travel.

Nicholls has written a wonderful story about a family in disarray.  He's created such flawed and realistic characters, that you can easily relate to.  He's written about their relationships with such authenticity that you can feel the tension in the air when Douglas doesn't side with his son during a fight at the hotel.  And the use of flashbacks to learn about the history of these relationships is fascinating, especially as we get to understand just how delicate these relationships already were before the Grand Tour of Europe.  I love how Nicholls makes you feel such empathy for Douglas and has you questioning Connie's devotion to their marriage.  As for Albie, he's a character unto himself that I just find to be irritating and rather bratty.  I am really enjoying reading this book and can't help but find myself on Douglas' side thus far.  Of course, I still have quite a number of pages to go, so who knows where I'll find myself siding with by the novel's end.  Either way, I am truly enjoying immersing myself in Nisholls' world.  This man really knows how to capture the fragility of family and love so well - its apparent how much thought he's put into these characters and their problems.  I love his writing!

Anyhow, I'm off to finish Us.  The weather is dark and rainy, so its perfect for reading.  All I need is a cuppa and I'm set.  Hope you are enjoying your current read.  And, if you are on the lookout for your next book, check out Us by David Nicholls - its perfect for fans of Nicholls and fans of fiction.  Here's the TLC Book Tour schedule for: Us
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Bookish and Non-Bookish Thoughts...

Its Friday and the weekend is nigh - woo hoo!  I've been ill all week with a horrid cold, so I've been watching too much telly and reading magazines.  I did start reading two new books (Us by David Nicholls and The Red Book of Primrose House by Marty Wingate), which I am really enjoying.  And I've been jotting down recipes ideas for Thanksgiving - yes, I know its early, but I can't help it!  Anyhow, just wanted to share a few musings with you:
  • My mom's 60th birthday party was a success - hurrah!  She enjoyed getting to see her family and friends and dancing the night away.  My sister and I were going crazy all last week and the day of the party trying to sort out last minute details - it was stressful, but well worth it all in the end.  Everyone really seemed to enjoy themselves - lots of eating, drinking, and dancing.  It was such a great night.
  • Murakami didn't win the Nobel, again.  UGH! I'm getting so annoyed by this - why can't they just recognize that his writing is worthy of a Nobel?!?  At least I have his new book to look forward to:
  • I've become obsessed with watching Oprah's Super Soul Sunday shows - they are so good!  I always find myself feeling inspired afterward.  The one with Elizabeth Gilbert was great!  I loved her coffee can story - I've been repeating it to family.  And, I've started my own coffee can.
  • The Walking Dead has begun and I am hooked.  That show just gets better and better. I loved watching the gang get out of Terminus.  I loved watching Carol be such a badass.  I loved watching Daryl and Carol reunite - and Carol and Rick.  And, I really loved seeing Morgan at the end of the episode.  This season is going to be AMAZING!!
  •  Sophie Kinsella and Alexander McCall Smith both have books coming out this month and I am super excited about it.  I love the Shopaholic series and can't wait to find out what Becky Bloomwood is up to now - especially as she is in Hollywood!  As for Precious Ramotswe, I am so eager to learn about what new cases she is solving and how her family and friends are faring in beautiful Botswana.  October is going to be a great reading month!
  • I've been listening to the new James CD, La Petit Mort, for days now and find myself loving it more and more.  I first discovered this band in college and have been listening to them ever since.  I was lucky enough to see them perform at Wembley Arena in London during grad school - they were fantastic live!  Here's one of my favorites by them:

And now, I'm off to tackle the rest of my Friday.  Hope everyone has a great weekend!  Happy reading to all!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Aunty Lee's Deadly Specials: A Singaporean Mystery by Ovidia Yu

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

Rosie “Aunty” Lee, the feisty widow and amateur sleuth and proprietor of Singapore’s best-loved home-cooking restaurant, is back in another delectable, witty mystery involving scandal and murder among the city’s elite.

Few know more about what goes on in Singapore than Aunty Lee. When a scandal over illegal organ donation makes news, she already has a list of suspects. There’s no time to snoop, though—Aunty Lee’s Delights is catering a brunch for local socialites Henry and Mabel Sung. Rumor has it that the Sungs’ fortune is in trouble, and Aunty Lee wonders if the gossip is true. But soon after arriving at the Sungs’, her curiosity turns to suspicion. Why is the guesthouse in the garden locked up—and what’s inside? Where is the missing guest of honor? Then Mabel Sung and her son, Leonard, are found dead. The authorities blame it on Aunty Lee’s special stewed chicken with buah keluak, a local black nut that can be poisonous if cooked improperly. She’s certain the deaths are murder—and that they’re somehow linked to the organ donor scandal. To save her business and her reputation, she’s got to prove it—and unmask a dangerous killer.

my thoughts:

Singapore, again! Love it!  This time round, I'm visiting this beautiful country through Ovidia Yu's fantastic story, Aunty Lee's Deadly Specials.  Its the second book in her A Singaporean Mystery series about a widow named Rosie "Aunty" Lee who serves mouth-watering dishes at her restaurant and manages to solve crimes at the same time. Talk about the epitome of a cozy mystery!

In this new mystery, Aunty Lee is the accused.  The food she served at an event is said to be the culprit in the deaths of two people.  Ack!  What is Aunty Lee to do?  Sleuth!  Yep, she knows her food was properly prepared and is determined to figure out what really happened to the two that died.  In her quest to absolve her name, she manages to get caught up in an organ donor scandal, as well.  Its mysteries galore for Aunty Lee and she is on the case!

Yu has written a charming and delightful book filled with quirky characters that are diverse in their eccentricities and personalities.  She brings Singapore to life with her rich details about the people, the food, and the places around the city that they frequent.  She makes you feel as if you could taste and smell the country that she writes so dearly about - I loved it!  And, I wanted that food!  Luckily, she include a few recipes to whet your appetite.  Yu incorporates Aunty Lee's kitchen know-how as a means of helping her solve the case, which I found endearing.  Aunty Lee is a determined woman with a big heart and she happens to be a bit of a busybody, but you just know that when push comes to shove she will be on your side.  After reading this book, I definitely want to read the first in the series and get to know Aunty Lee even better.  Plus, I enjoy getting lost in Singapore through Yu's words.

So, if you are looking for a terrific new cozy foodie-mystery series to read, check out Ovidia Yu's, A Singaporean Mystery series - you will love it!

Here's the TLC Book Tour schedule for: Aunty Lee's Deadly Specials
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Moonlight Palace by Liz Rosenberg

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

Agnes Hussein, descendant of the last sultan of Singapore and the last surviving member of her immediate family, has grown up among her eccentric relatives in the crumbling Kampong Glam palace, a once-opulent relic given to her family in exchange for handing over Singapore to the British.

Now Agnes is seventeen and her family has fallen into genteel poverty, surviving on her grandfather’s pension and the meager income they receive from a varied cast of boarders. As outside forces conspire to steal the palace out from under them, Agnes struggles to save her family and finds bravery, love, and loyalty in the most unexpected places. The Moonlight Palace is a coming-of-age tale rich with historical detail and unforgettable characters set against the backdrop of dazzling 1920s Singapore.

my thoughts:

Thanks to my friend Kris, I will read anything set in Singapore (or Indonesia and Malaysia.)  He's lived in the SEA region for quite some time now - mainly, Jakarta and now, Kuala Lumpur.  He's visited Singapore numerous times and I've been lucky enough to hear all about it.  The people, culture, food, weather, power outages, lack of web service, etc. have all made their way into the long, detailed emails he sends me.  I've really enjoyed getting to know these countries through his eyes and experiences - its utterly fascinating.  Part of me thinks he should pen some sort of ethnography about his time there, but that could be the anthropologist in me.  Anyhow, as a result of his emails, I find myself more and more interested in reading books set in the SEA region.  So, I was really excited to find The Moonlight Palace by Liz Rosneberg on the TLC Book Tour schedule.

Set in Singapore during the 1920s, The Moonlight Palace is a short, historical fiction novel.  Its a coming-of-age tale that shows us how a family copes with their decline in status - sort of a riches-to-rags tale.  Aggie and her family live in 
the Kampong Glam palace, as a result of a trade-off from back in the day (they handed over Singapore to the Brits).  The place is falling apart (it is a crumbling mess) and they are keen on trying to maintain it.  However, finances are low and all this new change brought in with the roaring 20s isn't make for an easy transition.  Aggie is only seventeen, so she's really struggling with her family's fall from the ranks, and with everything that comes along with becoming a young lady - think falling in love!  Of course, family is a priority, but that doesn't mean Aggie won't get blindsided by affairs of the heart (even if it means DRAMA for her family).  Rosenberg does a terrific job with the character of Aggie and her family - she's written them in such a quirky, eccentric manner that you can't help but fall in love with them.  As for Singapore - OMG!  She describes a beautiful country with such vivid and lush imagery, that I can easily imagine myself wandering around the estate that Aggie and her family reside in.  The setting was my favorite part of the novel, along with Rosenberg's oddball characters.  The Moonlight Palace is a terrific book to read and I would happily recommend it to fans of historical fiction.  On a side note, I must admit that I found myself thinking of Dodie Smith's novel, I Capture the Castle, as I read this story - after all, it too has an impoverished family (with quirky characters) living in a decaying castle.  Makes me wonder if Rosenberg was inspired by Smith's book.  Also, makes me think I should read Smith's novel sooner rather than later (now that its in my head).  Don't you love when one book leads you to another?

Check out the TLC Book Tour schedule for: The Moonlight Palace
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!