Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Ascender by Tracey Pacelli

The Ascender is a middle grade science fiction book that was sent to me by the author. The book will be released in two weeks on March 11, 2020. 12-year-old Billy Magnusson has been targeted by what he calls "The Wave" for most of his life. Symptoms appear to be similar to a panic attack, like extreme nausea and dizziness. But a distinguishing feature is that every time, something in reality changes. When he moves to a new school and joins the Ascender club, he finally finds more kids like him- and must find a way to rewrite history before the world is destroyed by it.

Pacelli has a gift for figurative language, and her imagery and metaphors were extraordinary when describing the Wave attacks. I felt empathetic towards Billie, and his sense of morality was very strong. I could tell from the first few pages that Billie would turn out to be a very human-like character. I pitied him immensely and his personal growth in courage was awesome.

The Ascender was a super fun and is an awesome leisure read- especially on a bad day as there is plenty of humor! The idea of "The Wave" is very creative, and I enjoyed trying to guess what would change next! There was also plenty of mystery and suspense, and although the world seemed a bit too far-fetched at times, the author did a nice job of reeling it back into reality and tying into main themes. The foreshadowing was epic as the book neared its end and I was upset when it did!

I highly recommend this book!

Title: The Ascender
Author: Tracey Pacelli
Publisher: Gypsy Shadow Publishing
Pages: 235
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Kitchen Privileges: A Memoir by Mary Higgins Clark

43348Kitchen Privileges is a memoir describing Mary Higgins Clark's life story and the factors that influenced her love of writing. From her poor beginnings with interesting tenants in her house to being an flight attendant, she always knew she wanted to write. But it wasn't until after she became a widow with five children to care for that she truly decided to follow her dreams.

I became anxious to read this book after learning of her passing on January 31. However I ended up being very disappointed. I am reluctant to criticize a dead person, but I must be honest- Kitchen Privileges felt rather boring and lacking in multiple areas, including figurative language and plot structure.

Clark has struggled in her life and gone through tremendous tragedy, however there was not an inspirational tone, but almost rather from a bragging standpoint of what she was able to overcome. Kitchen Privileges felt like a textbook, made of chronological facts. I cannot compare this to her other writing styles, however I can say that the story, if one can call it that, was very flat with a strong premise that ended up underdeveloped in a plain tone with a large lacking of figurative language. There was no "it" factor, nothing dramatic or suspenseful that Clark is known for.

I do not recommend this book. If you wish to learn Clark's story, just go to wikipedia- because that's what the book felt like.

Title: Kitchen Privileges: A Memoir
Author: Mary Higgins Clark
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 208
Series: No
Rating: 2 Stars

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Blog Tour: Escape Galápagos (The Wonder List Adventures Book 1) by Ellen Prager

Today is Darwin Day, a perfect occasion to participate in Dr. Prager's blog tour for her latest book, Escape Galápagos that was sent to me by the publisher. When twelve-year-old Ezzy and her younger brother Luke travel to the Galápagos to honor their mother's wish, they end up taken captive at gunpoint by illegal fisherman and poachers. Ezzy must rely on bravery she didn't know she had to not only escape alive- but to save the animals, too.

I enjoyed Ezzy's character development as she grew braver and more courageous. Initially she was terrified of the animals and seemed as an introvert. But as the book went on, she grew more comfortable around nature and the other animals. I loved watching her smile for the first time and relax around the Booby and take that one more step closer to the Iguanas and Penguins. She had many clever ideas and I enjoyed watching her come out of her shell, so to speak. I love how, despite her fear, she became moved by the idea of social activism and risked her life for those animals.

Escape Galápagos' scientific accuracy is incredible and this book is a great educational tool for young students interested in science or wildlife. I enjoyed the timely conflict of illegal fishing and the kidnapping of these precious animals. Galapagos' sharks and giant tortoises are especially in danger. For example, In August 2017 over 6,000 sharks were illegally fished and slaughtered in that area. In addition to this specific issue pertaining to that island, Prager revealed a larger problem of humanity's greed and disrespect for the planet and its wildlife.

I highly recommend this book! Prager has also written Tristan Hunt and the Sea Guardians, a middle grade fantasy series, as well as nonfiction adult books like Dangerous Earth and The Oceans. Continue reading below for an interview with the author!

Title: Escape Galápagos
Author: Ellen Prager
Publisher: Tumblehome, Inc.
Pages: 180
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 5 Stars

Interview with Dr. Prager:

1. What inspired you to start writing? (ever since back in 1999 with your first Furious Earth)
"Throughout my career I have been incredibly fortunate to experience amazing science and nature firsthand and meet wonderful scientists as mentors and colleagues. Most people never have these opportunities and often to them, science is boring and hard to understand. So, I wanted share my passion for science and nature with more people, combat science illiteracy, and show that it could be done in a way to retain accuracy, be informative and yet entertaining as well."

2. How do you feel about the issue of illegal net fishing and the capture of animals? Is there anything we can do to help protect the Galapagos?
"Of course, I am strongly against illegal net fishing and the capture of wild animals for entertainment purposes - especially whales and dolphins. We need to better protect our wild places, wild animals, and biodiversity. The Galapagos National Park Directorate and their licensed naturalist system do a pretty good job protecting the Galapagos. No one can go on an island without a permit and guide (the guides must report any irregularities), they have capped the number of visitors by ships (need to do more about land-based visitors), and are improving environmental regulations as well. They do however need support to control illegal fishing, over development, and again, control of land-based tourism. Sometimes people suggest stopping tourism in the Galapagos, but I am against this. I strongly believe that well managed tourism provides an important economic incentive for the Ecuadorian government and people to protect the islands, animals, and promote conservation efforts."

3. What inspired you to become a scientist?
"I loved nature as a kid growing up and was inspired by Jacque Cousteau on the television. Then, when I discovered science and in high school - scuba diving - I was so to speak, hooked! The combination of nature, science, and scuba diving was along with great teachers and mentors what really pushed me toward becoming a scientists. I am also endlessly curious and that is, in some ways, what science is all about."

4. When did you first visit the Galapagos?
"In the 1980s, I went to the Galapagos as part of a team studying the impact of El Ninos on corals in the area. We spent two months scuba diving and doing surveys of corals to determine the impact of the strong 1982/1983 El Nino. Unfortunately, the corals in the Galapagos are acclimated to relatively cool water and during strong El Ninos the water temperatures rise. In the 1982/1983 El Nino some 95% of the corals died."

5. What advice would you give for future scientists and/or authors?
"Be pro-active, take risks, discover your passion, strengths and weakness, ask for opportunities and remember perseverance is important. Almost anything is possible with hard work, dedication and a good attitude along with the healing power of laughter."
About the Author:

Dr. Prager is a marine scientist, and author, and spokesperson on earth and ocean science issues. She currently works as a freelance writer, consultant, and science advisor to Celebrity Cruises in the Galapagos Islands. She was previously the Chief Scientist for the Aquarius Reef Base program in Key Largo, FL, which includes the world’s only undersea research station, and the Assistant Dean at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

She has appeared on The Today Show and NBC News, Good Morning America, CNN, Fox News, CBS Early Show, The Weather Channel, in shows for the Discovery Channel, and was a consultant for the Disney movie, Moana. You can learn more about her at

Also be sure to check out other blog tour features!


Friday, February 7, 2020

What I Lost by Alexandra Ballard

31145120What I Lost is a YA inspirational story about a girl's journey to recovery from her battle with anorexia. Elizabeth is obsessed with losing as much weight as possible and achieving becoming a size 0. She is proud of herself for having the strength to keep going long hours without eating and pleasing her mother, who has the same unhealthy habits that she does. But after her body starts failing, she is taken to Wallingfield, a psychiatric hospital, where she begins the long and harsh road to recovery.

What I Lost might be my favorite YA book featuring a character with an eating disorder ever- more than Sad Perfect or Wintergirls. My favorite element of this book is the raw honesty of it. A few scenes left me near tears.

This book is extremely honest in clearly showing the signs of developing an eating disorder as well as the tips and tricks that people can use to get away with not eating- but also explains all the long-term consequences of anorexia to discourage readers from even thinking of engaging in those behaviors. Rather than focusing on the illness, however, the main goal and theme of this novel is that it is possible to heal. What I Lost preaches the idea of never being alone. I adored the journey to self-confidence and healing that the characters embark. It is certainly not easy- however What I Lost proves that those in the darkest of places can still find light and healing.

What I Lost showcases some of the proper ways to encourage watching weight while still instilling beliefs of being beautiful and building self-confidence. This would be an awesome parenting guide on how to avoid reinforcing negative thoughts. Even if one is overweight and is trying to be healthier, Elizabeth's parents and friends clearly made some mistakes. Speaking of Elizabeth's mother, she clearly had issues with eating disorders herself, whose unhealthy ideals spread to Elizabeth. I love how all the characters in this book were extremely complex and had multiple layers. I cannot pick out anything regarding the plot or setting or characters to critique- I wouldn't change a thing.

I highly recommend this book!

Title: What I Lost
Author: Alexandra Ballard
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages: 400
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars
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