Book Review: Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures by Jackson Pearce & Maggie Stiefvater


Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Format: ARC
Genre: MG/YA, Fantasy & Magic
Page Count: 192

From bestselling authors Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pearce comes an exciting new series full of magical creatures, whimsical adventures, and quirky illustrations.

Pip is a girl who can talk to magical creatures. Her aunt is a vet for magical creatures. And her new friend Tomas is allergic to most magical creatures.

When things go amok—and they often go amok—Pip consults Jeffrey Higgleston’s Guide to Magical Creatures, a reference work that Pip finds herself constantly amending. Because dealing with magical creatures like unicorns, griffins, and fuzzles doesn’t just require book knowledge—it requires hands-on experience and thinking on your feet. For example, when fuzzles (which have an awful habit of bursting into flame when they’re agitated) invade your town, it’s not enough to know what the fuzzles are—Pip and Tomas also must trace the fuzzles’ agitation to its source, and in doing so, save the whole town.


          What a charming and adorable little book! It's short, super sweet, and so delightful. I was smiling almost the entire time I read it. Let me tell you why.

          Pip, the narrator and heroine of this tale, is funny, clever, and just a little bit socially awkward. What I think the authors do extremely well with Pip's character is that she ends up doing the brave thing in all the crazy magical-creature-related situations she faces, despite always second-guessing herself first. You know, like a real person. One phrase she uses several times is "Think Twice, Act Once," which I love, and I think it's an important message for young readers (and old) to hear. 

          Not only can Pip express animals' feelings and thoughts for them (because she can talk to them), but she is also very sensitive to the feelings of other (human) people. Pip picks up on what she believes people are thinking or notices when they do something out of character. As a very self-aware person who picks up on the subtlest shifts of mood in my environment, I liked seeing that highly-sensitive nature reflected in a young character in literature. HSPs are out there, and we are legion.

          I'd also like to add that I didn't realize Pip was a girl until quite a bit into the book. I simply assumed she was a boy 1) because of her name, and 2) because she wasn't doing anything stereotypically feminine. When she's eventually referred to as a "daughter," it dawned on me that I may need to rethink my gender assumptions. And honestly, I really appreciated that! Such an unexpected lesson to learn from a book marketed towards kids ages 8-12. Whether this effect was intended by the authors or not, it was really refreshing.

          There are some loose threads to the plot that are not tied up by the end of the book, but I am hoping that's because there will be sequels. I'd love to read more Pip (and Regent Maximus) adventures!
Rating: 4/5 (Enthusiastic) Stars

"Everyone approved of Marisol. She never had chocolate on her cheek. She remembered to brush her hair. Her handwriting was neat. The corners of her homework folders were never crumpled." 

"'Oh, right! Your brothers are triplets!' I remembered. 'That's so cool.'
'Cool if you're a triplet,' Tomas replied. 'They get to do whatever they want. They are tall enough to reach whatever they want to reach. They don't have allergies.'
I could tell he was feeling low about it, so I said, 'They also don't get to have adventures with Pip Bartlett.'"

FTC Disclaimer:
I received a free physical uncorrected proof of this title from a fellow book blogger.

Waiting On Wednesday: Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is: 

Publication Date: July 14, 2015

An historic literary event: the publication of a newly discovered novel, the earliest known work from Harper Lee, the beloved, bestselling author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning classic, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Originally written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman was the novel Harper Lee first submitted to her publishers before To Kill a Mockingbird. Assumed to have been lost, the manuscript was discovered in late 2014.

Go Set a Watchman features many of the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird some twenty years later. Returning home to Maycomb to visit her father, Jean Louise Finch—Scout—struggles with issues both personal and political, involving Atticus, society, and the small Alabama town that shaped her.

Exploring how the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird are adjusting to the turbulent events transforming mid-1950s America, Go Set a Watchman casts a fascinating new light on Harper Lee's enduring classic. Moving, funny and compelling, it stands as a magnificent novel in its own right.

This is one of the biggest and most highly anticipated books in (my) living memory. Dare I say, even bigger than Harry Potter? ...Nah, but very, very close! The hype, intrigue, and turmoil surrounding this book's release is unreal. And I can't wait to get my hands on a copy!

How about you? Are you going to inhale
Go Set a Watchman as soon as it's released like I am?

My First Giveaway!

If you follow me on Twitter, you will have noticed that I am holding my first giveaway! It's a really simple Follow + Retweet, and I'm giving away the following:

  • An Epic Reads *bookshimmy* tote from the BookCon
  • Four books and a preview pamphlet
  • Assorted swag (including a bookish lanyard, stickers, fortune teller, and more)

Like I said, just follow me on Twitter and retweet the tweet below to enter!

Book Mail is the Best Mail

Pixel is a huge fan of book mail from Penguin Random House.

Though maybe not for the same reasons as I am...

Update: Pixel is now an internet celebrity.

Boston Author Event 2015

Big news! I am going to be the photographer at the 2015 Boston Author Event this weekend!

It's going to feature New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Authors of the YA, NA, Teen, and Romance genres.

Join/Share The Facebook Page:  Click Here

Fan FAQ Sheet: Download Here

Saturday, June 13, 2015
Noon–4 pm

Boston Marriott Copley Place
St. Botolph Room (2nd Floor)
110 Huntington Avenue | Boston MA | 02142


You'll be able to meet each author, get a photo with them, and have them sign your books. If you live in the greater New England area, you should go!

Waiting On Wednesday: Mercedes Lackey's Hunter

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is: 

Pub. Date: September 1, 2015

Centuries ago, the barriers between our world and the Otherworld were slashed open allowing hideous fantastical monsters to wreak havoc; destroying entire cities in their wake. Now, people must live in enclosed communities, behind walls that keep them safe from the evil creatures constantly trying to break in. Only the corps of teen Hunters with lightning reflexes and magical abilities can protect the populace from the daily attacks.

Joyeaux Charmand is a mountain girl from a close knit village who comes to the big city to join the Hunters. Joy thinks she is only there to perform her civic duty and protect the capitol Cits, or civilians, but as cameras follow her every move, she soon learns that the more successful she is in her hunts, the more famous she becomes.

With millions of fans watching her on reality TV, Joy begins to realize that Apex is not all it seems. She is forced to question everything she grew up believing about the legendary Hunters and the very world she lives in. Soon she finds that her fame may be part of a deep conspiracy that threatens to upend the protective structure built to keep dark magic out. The monsters are getting in and it is up to Joy to find out why.

Uh, so this sounds AMAZING. Both Sci-Fi and Fantasy? Yes, please. Not to mention that Mercedes Lackey is a bestselling and celebrated fantasy author, so it's bound to be good. Count me in!

What's your Waiting On Wednesday? Share it in the comments!

Book Review: James M. Citrin’s The Career Playbook

Title: The Career Playbook: Essential Advice for Today’s Aspiring Young Professional
James M. Citrin
Publisher: Crown Business
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
Format: Trade Paperback
Genre: Non-fiction, Business & Economics
Page Count: 256


Figuring out a career and getting a great job has never been more difficult. On top of that, today’s graduates are looking for not only good jobs but positions that will help them launch careers in which they can grow and prosper. But knowing what to look for and how to actually land a great job is exceptionally challenging when you’re trying to get an interview, make enough money, and position yourself for advancement.

Packed with first-person advice from graduates and young professionals themselves, as well as the perspectives of seasoned CEOs, entrepreneurs, leaders, and experts, such as Virgin’s Sir Richard Branson, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, Third Point Advisors’ Daniel Loeb, author Malcolm Gladwell, and US Navy SEALs’ Admiral Eric Olson, The Career Playbook is an essential resource for landing, launching, and thriving in your career.



Let me start off by saying that I don’t usually read a ton of non-fiction, particularly self-help books, unless they really call to me or have reached critical acclaim. And The Career Playbook just reinforced why I don’t bother with them: they’re boring, and, particularly in this case, generic and uninspired.

Keep in mind that this review is coming from someone who is actively building her strengths so as to get that dream job, so this book is marketed specifically towards me and my demographic. It just fails.

The book is broken down into three parts. The first part is called “How Careers Really Work,” and is mostly comprised of common-sense information. I did not read anything I haven’t read before. I’m talking “Phases of Your Career,” “Compensation vs. Lifestyle vs. Job Satisfaction,” and “The Power of Networks.” There are three pages worth of nothing but statistics on how hard it is to get a job in today’s economic climate. You don’t need to convince me with numbers—  I already know, I’m living it.

I was also very turned off by an example given right at the very beginning. Citrin describes the plight of a Harvard grad/MIT student; he’s torn between accepting a job at Google or getting involved with a tech start-up. Um, I have ZERO sympathy for this poor little rich boy. This is a 1% issue, and people in the 1% aren’t reading this book—they don’t need to! The author, James M. Citrin, obviously doesn’t have a very good understanding of his audience and their needs (or their level of tolerance).

The best part of this book is the second part, specifically the “Art of the Interview” chapter, which breaks down potential job interview questions and gives advice on how to answer them. This section provides example answers to the “Do you have any questions for me?” trap, explains how to tell a narrative as opposed to simply answering questions, and shows you how to compete with other potential hires when you’re at a disadvantage. This is the kind of gold I was hoping The Career Playbook would  strike; however, this section is very brief in comparison to the rest of the book.

The third and final part of the book gives advice on how to thrive in your job once you get it, but again, you get very general and common bits of advice like “form a bond with your boss,” “play your strengths,” and “learn everything you can.” Admittedly, I skimmed over a majority of the third section, because at that point, I was tired of the overplayed career advice tropes.

The Career Playbook sorely lacks the specificity I was looking for in a book about career advice. I understand the idea of keeping things generic so as to benefit a wide range of businesses and fields, but I was hoping for more than the standard gems like “be assertive and confident,” “create a LinkedIn profile,” and “don’t give up.”  You won’t find anything in this book that can’t be found with a simple search on the internet. I don’t recommend it for people who are struggling to get a foot in the door, but maybe for people who live very blessed lives and already have a network in place.
Rating: 2/5 Stars

“Certainty exists only in hindsight, when you’re looking back on the decisions and actions you took that eventually led to career success.”   

FTC Disclaimer:
I received a free physical copy of this title via Blogging for Books and Crown Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Stacking the Shelves: The Calm Before the BookCon

Several BookCon write-ups are in the works, including a recap, haul, and tips post. Until then, let me share with you the books I amassed during the two weeks before BookCon.

  • Sharon Shinn's Summers at Castle Auburn
    I've wanted to read this book for years-- ever since I fell down the high-fantasy rabbit hole. I loved Sharon Shinn's The Shape-Changer's Wife, which I waxed poetic about over on this post of yore. When the manfriend said I needed to add some items to an order he was making so he could qualify for free shipping, I jumped at the chance to snag this little gem.
  • Sam Maggs' The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy
    I somehow talked the kind folks over at Quirk Books into giving me a copy of this gorgeous book so I could review it for Minerva Magazine-- you remember, it's the magazine I helped co-found. I'm reading the book now, and I'll cross-post my review here.
  •  James M. Citrin's The Career Playbook
    I don't usually read non-fiction self-help books very often unless they really call to me or have  reached critical acclaim. Not so in the case of this book. It was available on a book review site, and I chose it merely because pickin's were slim. I hoped it would help me along my career path somehow. Spoiler alert: it doesn't. Full review forthcoming.
  • Nick Bantock's Griffin and Sabine
    Another book courtesy of Jeff.

I was so excited about these books (and still am), but now I have to figure out a proper reviewing schedule for them, considering the tons of books (many of them ARCs) that I received and promised to review at BookCon. Like I said before, I'm currently reading The Fangirl's Guide, and I just finished The Career Playbook today. Since Summers at Castle Auburn and Griffin and Sabine have been around for quite some time now, they are going to have to take a backseat to all the pre-releases.

Linking up here and here.

Which books have you been stacking on your shelves? 
Any forgotten-but-amazing backlisted titles?

Waiting On Wednesday: Jessica Day George’s Silver in the Blood

I know you’re waiting with bated breath to hear all about my adventures at BookCon, but I still haven’t written up a recap or haul post yet. I promise I will soon, though! I’ve just been catching up on work/school/sleep, in roughly that order.

But anyway, it's Wednesday, and this is a book blog, so you know what that means: Waiting On Wednesday. Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is: 

Silver in the Blood
Jessica Day George
Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Pub. Date:
July 7, 2015

A New York Times bestselling author brings dark secrets to life in a lush new YA perfect for fans of Libba Bray or Cassandra Clare. The thrilling start to a richly drawn, romance-filled series, this epic will have readers coming back for more. With a gorgeous Romanian setting, stunning Parisian gowns, and dark brooding young men, readers will be swept up by this epic adventure of two girls in a battle for their lives.

As you might remember from previous reviews of yore, I’m not the biggest Libba Bray or Cassandra Clare fan in the world, so that line from the summary didn't do much to reel me in, yet this book still seems to call to me. The cover art is captivating and ominous, and the premise sounds pretty exciting (you can read a more in-depth one on its Goodreads page). I like werewolves, historical dramas, romance, and YA—why not read all of those genres in one go?

What’s your Waiting On Wednesday? I love learning about upcoming book releases through this meme, so don’t be shy—share them with me in the comments.
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