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Illustory Make-A-Book Kit
Illustory Make-A-Book Kit
51 used & new from $5.18

5.0 out of 5 stars Great Customer Service, October 26, 2013
My daughter received an Illustory kit for her 7th birthday, and it was probably her favorite gift that year. She spent about a week working on her story and illustrations, and then I scanned the pictures and typed up her text for her.

I was also very impressed with the customer service at Creations by You... when the book arrived, the pages hadn't been bound correctly and were loose inside the cover. I was afraid to try to fix it myself and risk ruining my daughter's book, so I called the customer service number, and they apologized for the error and sent us another copy that week! I was thrilled that they were so helpful; so often, you can never reach a live person on a customer service line, or they ask you to send a defective product back at your own expense. Creations by You handled this kindly and quickly, and my daughter and I both really appreciated it.

It's been over a year, and my daughter still gets her book out often to show off and to read to younger relatives. She's a great storyteller, and her illustory book has given her a lot of confidence in her abilities, as well as a keepsake that we treasure.

As an added bonus, it's a great gift that doesn't become another quickly-forgotten toy at the bottom of the toybox.

The Scorpio Races - Audio
The Scorpio Races - Audio
by Maggie Stiefvater
Edition: Audio CD
Price: $39.99
16 used & new from $4.79

5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite books of the year, December 23, 2011
I nearly didn't bother reading the Scorpio Races. I've read all of Maggie Steifvater's other books, and felt that her most recent titles (Linger and Forever) were complete disasters. But I heard so many good things about Scorpio Races that I decided to give it a chance, and I'm so glad I did.

The characters, the story, and the language are all vivid and beautiful, and it's a very unique read. I loved this book so much I'm buying copies for friends, which I rarely do. I'm even considering purchasing the audio book, because I think it would be lovely read out loud.

Really, an excellent piece of work.

Forever (The Wolves of Mercy Falls Book 3)
Forever (The Wolves of Mercy Falls Book 3)
Offered by Scholastic Trade Publisher
Price: $5.99

15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hello, plot holes!, July 16, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I loved Shiver, which is probably one of my favorite paranormal romances of all time. Linger... was okay. But I decided to give Forever the benefit of the doubt and jumped in with both feet.


First of all, nothing happens for the first half of the novel, which consists of page after page of teenage angst, and I almost abandoned it more than once. Thankfully, the pacing picked up for the second half, but in the end, it didn't save the book for me, for a couple of reasons. First, I really believed in the romance between Grace and Sam back in Shiver but by Forever, it has sort of evaporated. The two characters have so few moments between them that it's hard to understand what's supposed to be driving the story. Isabel, to me, was completely one-dimensional, and Cole was only slightly better.

Then... the plot holes. <<<SPOILERS>>>
At the end of Linger, we learn that Sam's cure isn't real, that the wolf-virus is still inside of him, and will eventually build up and kill him, like it almost killed Grace. This is *completely ignored* in Forever, in which Sam is cured! Cole spends the entire book trying to find a cure and, at the end, we're left with the same cure that supposedly didn't work two books earlier. Another problem... Isabel's big "sacrifice" (???) that she makes by running out into the middle of the wolf hunt could have just as easily been performed by Cole two minutes earlier, and there's no explanation of why this doesn't occur to him. And there are no consequences to her for doing this, either. She gets grounded. Wah.

Finally, the whole thing with Officer Koenig suddenly showing up and giving his inheritence to Sam is just so much Deus ex Machina. It doesn't make any sense for a whole host of reasons. (This guy somehow figured out werewolves on his own? He accepts this wholeheartedly with no proof? And he's giving away his family inheritence... to be nice?)

All in all, I was very disappointed with this story, from the slow pacing to the plot holes to the lack of any real emotional connection between the characters. Oh, and the end, in which we expect to finally find out what happens with Sam and Grace? Totally unsatisfying. I think Stiefvater ought to have just left the series with the first book-- there just wasn't enough "story" here to warrant a trilogy. It would have been terrific as a standalone novel.
Comment Comments (9) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 15, 2014 7:02 PM PST

Keeping You a Secret
Keeping You a Secret
by Julie Anne Peters
Edition: Hardcover
51 used & new from $0.01

81 of 94 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An unhealthy relationship... a bad model for kids, November 14, 2010
This review is from: Keeping You a Secret (Hardcover)
While I found this book to be fairly predictable, what really made me angry about it was how unhealthy the relationship between Cece and Holland actually was, although the author presents it as wonderful. I kept thinking that if Cece's character were male, people would be jumping all over this, because she's frankly rather awful. An unhealthy relationship doesn't become healthy just because both parties are female.

Let's look at what actually happens here: Holland begins her relationship with Cece, who forbids Holland to come out, even though she wants to, isolating Holland from all her previous friends. She refuses to introduce Holland to her OWN friends, because she is so possessive that she is afraid one of them will "steal" her (in describing a former relationship, Cece is furious that her former girlfriend broke up with her, saying about the girl "I found her! She was mine!" Alarm bells, anyone???) Then, after being booted by her mother, Holland gets into Stanford. But instead of calling them up and asking for financial aid, asking for a defferal, or ANYTHING, she decides she has to stay in the area because of her great love for this girl she's only been dating for... what? Two months? And she ends up living in a halfway house and going to community college. If a character in a novel did something like this for a boy, no one would be praising it. I don't see how it's different because the characters are lesbians. Cece isolates Holland to the point where she has no other friends at all, and then encourages her to give up a great opportunity because she wants to keep Holland nearby. This is not how love is supposed to look.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 5, 2015 6:49 PM PDT

Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Volume 1 (The Twilight Saga)
Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Volume 1 (The Twilight Saga)
by Stephenie Meyer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $13.99
373 used & new from $0.01

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Twilight-lite", June 10, 2010
I was frustrated with the "Twilight" film, which, to me, left out some of the most important elements of the original story. I thought the graphic novel might be a more faithful representation, but, in fact, it was so much worse. Most of "Twilight" is really about Bella's inner life, her thoughts, and her voice. There is virtually none of that here. All the events are recorded, but it's almost like reading a "cliff's notes" version of the story. Furthermore, she is far too conventionally pretty. And all the other characters are drawn so much alike that I had a great deal of trouble telling them apart. I think I'll stick with the original novel.

Bakin' Without Eggs: Delicious Egg-Free Dessert Recipes from the Heart and Kitchen of a Food-Allergic Family
Bakin' Without Eggs: Delicious Egg-Free Dessert Recipes from the Heart and Kitchen of a Food-Allergic Family
by Rosemarie Emro
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.40
128 used & new from $0.01

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a mixed bag, December 20, 2009
I am a lifelong baker with two egg-allergic children, so I decided to invest in this book about a year ago. Some of the recipes are fantastic (cheesecake, chocolate mocha cake, pancakes, pumpkin pie). But some others have been the most spectacular failures I've ever seen- things with no flavor and terrible, terrible consistency. The vanilla cupcakes I made from this book were inedible. And I recently tried her pound cake, which collapsed when I took it out of the oven (20 minutes longer than the prescribed baking time) and then fell apart into crumbs when I removed it from the pan.

Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of choice available to those who want eggless baking recipes. I wish there were better books out there, since I've had so many failures from this one.

In general, plan to bake things *A LOT* longer than called for in the recipes. I have had to bake things as much as 30 minutes longer to get them to cook all the way (and, no, it isn't my oven!).
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 29, 2016 8:46 AM PST

Who Likes Rain?
Who Likes Rain?
by Wong Herbert Yee
Edition: Hardcover
27 used & new from $2.55

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars charming!, December 16, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Who Likes Rain? (Hardcover)
My kids adore this book. Cute rhymes, and the illustrations are fun as well. Get "Tracks in the Snow" to go with it- they are basically a set.

Parenting from Your Heart: Sharing the Gifts of Compassion, Connection and Choice
Parenting from Your Heart: Sharing the Gifts of Compassion, Connection and Choice
by Inbal Kashtan
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.95
87 used & new from $0.01

21 of 29 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars not a plan if you have multiple kids or ever plan to send your children to school (or a job!), August 22, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I am all for increasing communication and understanding between myself and my kids, so I thought I'd check this book out. Ugh! This is fine if you want badly socialized kids who don't know how to function in society. But if you want your kids to be able to go to school (and understand that sometimes the answer is just "no,"), stay far away from the advice in this book.

The basic premise here is that the focus should be getting your child's needs met, and in any conflict the first objective is to discuss with your child the best way to accomplish this. This is fine for certain kinds of disputes, but the ones exemplified in this book are just insane. If your kid is being a bully at the park and refusing to let the other kids use the slide, you do not engage in a 10 minute dialogue about her need to monopolize the play equipment vs the needs of the other children. You explain that the equipment is there for everyone, and if she is unwilling to play by the rules of the park, you have to leave. If your kid is unwilling to sit down and eat the dinner you made, you don't offer to make a new dinner or allow the child to wander around the house with his food. Can you imagine how this would work with multiple children? I'm not offering to make a new dinner for each of my three kids!

Furthermore, the style of dialogue the author advocates is far beyond the intellectual grasp of 2 and 3 year old kids, who cannot possibly participate in an extended dialogue about why they should give their friend back the toy they have snatched. Since this is the age of the kids in several of the examples, this technique is just silly.

The fact is, in life, you don't always get your needs (and some of the things described here are not "needs" by any stretch) met before everyone elses. Kids who are raised according to this philosophy are going to have a heck of a time adjusting to a world with actual rules and expected codes of behavior.

I consider myself to be a fairly liberal, "crunchy" parent. But if every conflict with your child turns into a gigantic negotiation, your family is not going to be able to function. You might get away with it for a while if you have one child who is not in school, but add additional children and this will just turn into chaos. You are really not doing your children any favors by keeping them from understanding how the world words- sometimes there are rules, and sometimes you just don't get what you want.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 6, 2014 7:22 PM PST

Twilight (The Twilight Saga, Book 1)
Twilight (The Twilight Saga, Book 1)
by Stephenie Meyer
Edition: Paperback
Price: $6.65
2972 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fun Story with shallow characters, August 2, 2009
I am somewhat older than Meyer's target audience, but I thought these books would make a fun summer read. And they did- Meyer is a good storyteller, and her books move quickly and are hard to put down (I read all 4 in a week and a half, reading only in the evenings). However, the writing is not great. She is very, very repetitive, and much of the dialogue is kind of stilted.

I also found the main character to become extremely annoying as the book went on. It's unusual in modern literature to find a female protagonist who is so unbelievably weak! I saw that they actually toned this down a bit for the movie- in the book Bella literally trips and falls at least 3 times in every chapter. It's ridiculous. She is totally helpless.

I also found it odd that when the boys in her class show their interest in normal, healthy ways (ie, asking her out on a date!), it's portayed as annoying and overly-fawning. But when Edward breaks into her room to watch her sleeps and stalks her across the state, that's, um, romantic? I worry about the message this sends to Meyer's teenage fans. I remember a quotation from Gavin de Becker (who wrote the "gift of fear") about how the film "The Graduate" showed an entire generation that stalking was acceptable and even romantic, and I worry that "Twilight" might be this generation's equivalent.

In the end, I found Edward creepy and controlling (and where is the evidence of his hundred years of life experience??) and Bella weak and whiny.

Breaking Dawn (The Twilight Saga, Book 4)
Breaking Dawn (The Twilight Saga, Book 4)
by Stephenie Meyer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $14.55
2401 used & new from $0.01

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed feelings..., July 31, 2009
I had somewhat mixed feelings about this book, although I think I was probably less disappointed than some of the other reviewers because my expectations were lower. I enjoyed the three earlier books, but I really don't think they were *great* by any stretch. They were, however, very entertaining, so that's all I really expected from this book. I also think that a lot of people were dissapointed because Mayer effectively shifts genres in this book- Twilight was basically a romance novel with fantasy underpinnings, but Breaking Dawn is pure fantasy.

On the one hand, I was frustrated that my favorite character (Edward) seemed to lose all his personality in this book. I really don't know what happened there. I was also disappointed in the fact that Meyer builds up to a big, dramatic ending and then backs out at the last minute.

On the other hand, by the end of book 3 I was SO sick of Bella and her constant whining, lack of gratitude, and repetitive hand-wringing ("Oh, why do I keep hurting Jacob? Oh wait, I asked that in the previous page, and the one before that, too...."). I understood that Edward was drawn to her by this animal-like pull and the fact that she so readily accepted him, but I couldn't figure out why Jacob was in love with her. At any rate, I was actually relieved when Bella's character underwent a complete 180 because I was no longer able to enjoy the books since I despised her so thoroughly. (incidentally, I was also sick to death of Alice, who has all these amazing powers but seems to be interested in nothing but clothes and throwing big parties. I do wish that Mayer would have created at least ONE strong female character in her series.)

I was also quite chagrined that Mayer spends... what... 1500 pages building up toward Edward and Bella's first sexual experience, which then happens "off-screen." Guess she wasn't comfortable writing about that, which was odd to me since her description of Bella's childbirth was one of the goriest things I have ever seen in print.

So in short, was this book entertaining? Sure. Was it a great book? No.

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