Review: The Sword of Shannara

Pin It The Sword of Shannara The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

When I saw the ComicCon preview for the upcoming Shannara Chronicles television series ( my jaw hit the floor and I immediately scrambled to pick up a copy of The Sword of Shannara. I figured anything that looked that amazing on my screen and had millions of cult followers must be a book series of epic proportions. I'm not going to go into painstaking detail about my choice to stop approximately 25% of the way through the first book in the series but suffice it to say that reading it was felt like deja vu. The further and further I went along the more familiar the story became... and the more it annoyed me.

As many others have complained, The Sword of Shannara mimics Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Rings so closely that it is hard to stop your mind from a constant comparison. The names are different and the geography may not be exactly the same but Sword of Shannara is definitely modeled very closely after Tolkien and I couldn't bring myself to keep reading. It's not that it was bad, just that it lacked the depth of the original.

After seeing the preview for the show, it is likely that I will be a regular viewer but the book gets filed in my DNF bin at only 25%.

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Review: Funny Girl

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Funny Girl
Funny Girl by Nick Hornby

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Funny Girl is one of those books that is getting a lot of push and media attention, probably for the simple reason that it was written by Nick Hornby, the author of About a Boy among many other books. I had not read any of his stuff previously despite (or possibly because of) hearing positive reviews from several female friends. I guess I kind of assumed he was a writer that appealed more to the estrogen bubble. I'm not sure if that's a fair or accurate assessment of his novels but Funny Girl definitely didn't seem too "girly" to me.

I decided to slide this one into the top position of my to-read books because Amazon had it listed as a "Best Book of the Month" and they have not lead me astray yet. Also, I won a free copy of the book for review on Goodreads so I didn't really have an excuse not to. I need to start hacking through my review books so this was a good place to start.

I have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised by Funny Girl. It's essentially about a girl named Barbara, who is from a po-dunk town in England, that wants to be a comedian. More specifically, she wants to be Britain's Lucille Ball. It follows her story as she leaves home to venture into show business and the successes and failures that follow.

I think most people would consider this novel a comedy but I have to admit that while it made me smirk a few times, I am not really the type to guffaw at books. For those who are, this may be the type of book that does it for you. Now, that isn't to say that I didn't enjoy the humor because I certainly did. It was quick-witted and felt very fresh... but I just laugh inside.

I have to admit that although this book wasn't anything I'd write in my journal about (and certainly isn't 'Best Book' worthy), I thoroughly enjoyed it and may bottle up my testosterone enough to read 'About a Boy.'

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Review: Frankenstink!: A Cautionary Tale of Garbage Gone Bad

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Frankenstink!: A Cautionary Tale of Garbage Gone Bad
Frankenstink!: A Cautionary Tale of Garbage Gone Bad by Ron Lightburn

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If I were to rank modern children's books from dreadfully dreadful to daddy-would-read-it-alone, this one lands at the very top of the ones I would read to myself. I have 3 children 8 and under and each and every one of them was rolling around laughing and crying out "yuck" and "ew". These are signs of a great children's book.

I loved the originality of the story and the fact that it was long enough to not be a waste of time but short enough that daddy could get back to watching Comic Book Men on the DVR after my long shift at work. This book is one that I plan to add to our shelf at home since the copy I currently have is an ebook copy provided to me for free by Netgalley in exchange for a review. This is one of those instances where I am gloriously happy to give a children's book my thumbs up and huge stamp of approval!

Frankenstink is a must-have for your children! It teaches the importance of keeping your room clean while making it sound fun (or scary not to)!

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Review: Humpty Dumpty Flip-Side Rhymes

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Humpty Dumpty Flip-Side Rhymes
Humpty Dumpty Flip-Side Rhymes by Christopher Harbo

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So I like the idea of looking at well-known stories from another character's perspective and this book intrigued me as something I may want to read to my children. I received the ebook version for free from Netgalley in exchange for an unbiased review so perhaps my review is slightly jaded by the fact I never got to hold a physical copy in my hands. With children's books, I think it is somewhat of a necessity to have the book in your hands. Swiping a page turn is not the same thing as holding the page in your hands and I think my 3-year-old appreciates the tactile sensation as well.

Overall I think the book was clever but not especially original. I enjoy rhyming books for children but this one has something lacking. I didn't enjoy it much and neither did my kids.

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Review: My Grandma's a Ninja

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My Grandma's a Ninja
My Grandma's a Ninja by Todd Tarpley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My kids can be somewhat hard to please when it comes to books I read to them. I think this one falls into the category of books that I enjoyed more than they did. I was sure that the idea of a ninja grandmother would thrill and delight all of my children, from the 3 year old to the 8 year old.... but I was wrong. The 8-year-old was mildly entertained, the 5-year-old sat still with her eyes glazing over, and the 3-year old actually walked away.

Now, I'll admit that the book could have been more clever and original but I still thought it was a fun idea. The writing wasn't dreadful but it wasn't great either (however, I should point out that this rarely matters to my little ones).

This was one of those books that I'd rather read than another Disney princess story... but I guess my chitlins disagree.

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Review: Falling For Rapunzel

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Falling For Rapunzel
Falling For Rapunzel by Leah Wilcox

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Although not quite as funny or clever as Waking Beauty, Leah Wilcox wrote another winner with Falling for Rapunzel. I won't belabor the points I mentioned in my review of Waking Beauty but these books are a brilliant, funny and colorful take on classic princess stories. Since the idea of mentioning anything other than a princess story to my 3 year old is a mortal sin, I am grateful that I discovered these books on my most recent trip to the public library.

I enjoy that these stories don't depict the princesses as helpless as other children's books and will happily admit that these were funny enough to even catch a quick belly laugh from me. I often pretend to laugh at "funny" parts in my kid's books so that they will appreciate the humor but this time I didn't need to pretend.

Falling for Rapunzel is a fantastic children's book that is creative and original. It's a rhyming adventure that I actually enjoyed reading to my own little princess!

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Review: Waking Beauty

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Waking Beauty
Waking Beauty by Leah Wilcox

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm always in search of children's books to read to my 3 year old that don't bore me to tears. I have grown tired of the pile of crappy children's books on my kid's shelves that seem to recycle the same thing over and over again. Of course, there are the old classics from my childhood but my children don't seem to latch on to them like I did.

For my daughters, princesses and all things girly is the key but I get a bit annoyed with the silly fairytales and blubbery princess stories that depict weak, helpless females. I'm not a feminazi by any means but I want to raise my daughters to be strong, independent women with minds of their own, not a sideline to a heroic prince.

What I love about this hilarious rhyming take on Sleeping Beauty is that it twists the whole idea of a helpless princess just right. It's clever and funny enough that even I chuckled several times. As I've mentioned in other reviews, I enjoy reading books to my children that rhyme. I delight in the way the words sound coming off my tongue and appreciate the lyrical playfulness of them. I think my kids feel the same way, but then again I've never asked.

This book was a lucky find at the public library and one that I think I may actually buy if I can find it. My daughter thoroughly enjoyed it and if I'm telling the truth, so did I.

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