Review: Cute Emergency

Cute Emergency
Cute Emergency by Tony Heally
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This review is also available on my blog, Read Till Dawn.

I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m reviewing a book with a grand total of about fifty words in the entire thing. Well, you may know from reading this blog that I recently moved cross-country (and that my dominant wrist is back in a splint – yippee). The first week or so of moving in, Cute Emergency became available for request on the review site Blogging for Books. It offered me pictures of baby animals to cure my stress, and – can you blame me? – I requested it right away. I honestly can’t say I’m sorry I did: it was a great stress reliever not only for me, but also for all three of my siblings (who took turns stealing it and leaving it random places – it took me a month just to get my hands back on the book again!).

And oh, gosh, this book is so adorable! After sitting down and reading it cover to cover a few minutes ago, my lips are still perking up into a smile even as I type this review. It’s a fact that I just can’t see that many adorable animals without flipping out. I don’t know if many people can.

The book is divided into five chapters, or “emergency levels,” labelled from “Low” to “Extreme.” Reading through the book cover to cover, there actually really is a noticeable increase in cuteness from section to section; in the first one or two chapters I was thinking “this is nice, but nothing special,” but by the end I was smiling and laughing so much I almost choked trying not to laugh out loud. I think it’s pretty cool that there really are different “cuteness intensities” in the different chapters. There are a few captions that don’t really match the picture very well or aren’t very funny, but most of them are great and turn a cute picture into a hilarious one.

If you like cute pictures of animals, then this book is definitely for you – and if you know someone who loves cute animals, then I just found you the perfect present for them. A 176-page book not enough for your fluffy-animal needs? Then check out the Cute Emergency Twitter account here. I used to follow them myself, before Cute Emergency was ever a book. The pictures, I can attest to firsthand, are adorable, though there sure are a lot of them. Only follow the Twitter account if you’re prepared for cute-animal overload!

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book through the Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: The Stolen Chapters

The Stolen Chapters
The Stolen Chapters by James Riley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This review is also available on my blog, Read Till Dawn.

What a contradiction Jame’s Riley’s writing is: so juvenile and plastic one minute, and so clever and heartwarming the next. I alternately think he’s one of the most over-rated authors I’ve read, and one of the most under-rated. The Stolen Chapters provokes this unique frustration most of any of his books yet, and I am still struggling to come to grips with how I feel about it.

Because at first, I kind of hated The Stolen Chapters. It felt dry and contrived and forced, chock-full of overused tropes and uninteresting dilemmas. I didn’t care very much about the characters, and everything seemed somehow less lovable than it had in the first book.

But then, in the second half, I found myself falling back in love. And the really irritating thing is that I can’t even say why or how, or just how clever everything really was and how Riley tricked me and I love it so much – and you know why I can’t talk about any of that? Because it’s all a spoiler! His books are so clever and awesome, so that one minute I can be positive I’ve figured the story out and the next he turns everything on its head. Authors are lauded all the time for “keeping things fresh” and writing a story with “unexpected turns,” but Riley’s books are some of the genuinely twistiest books I have ever read.

I still don’t absolutely love Stolen Chapters to pieces, though, certainly not the way I love Riley’s amazing Half Upon a Time trilogy. I forgive Stolen Chapters for not engaging me in the beginning, because it was for a good reason, but I’m not sure other readers will be able to make it to the point where everything goes from cliche to great. And I love all the amazing twists and turns, but – okay, no downside to that; I genuinely loved the twists. I haven’t fallen completely in love with the characters in Story Thieves, but they’ve definitely grown on me since the first book. I’ve even come to like Bethany pretty well, after finding her so annoying in Story Thieves, and I really like the new characters added in this book (especially the villain – who I really wish I could discuss without spoiling the ending!).

The writing is by no means complex, but it’s very humorous and both books were a big hit with my fourteen-year-old brother. I recommend these books to middle schoolers, and to older kids/adults like me who still enjoy a good middle-grade read that’s deeper than it appears at first glance.

And don’t you dare skip the acknowledgements section – it’s honestly even more hilarious than the book itself!

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary ARC of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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