Purple Panda Points: Kiki Strike, The Darkness Dwellers

15 Feb

Hi!

Happy Sunday! I hope you all had a lovely Valentine’s Day; mine was filled with snow, sewing, Sleepless in Seattle, and the Story Thieves by James Riley. I am off school this week for vacation and have plenty of fun new features planned, but for now here’s a new Purple Panda Points for you wonderful readers…

Here’s a quick recap of my book review system for any of you who aren’t yet familiar with it:

My book review format is called “Purple Panda Points”, where I talk about three elements of the book (setting, plot, characters) in brief points. Hopefully this will help to keep the reviews informative, interesting, and spoiler-free!

The books are rated using the ice cream rankings (because, obviously)…

1 Panda PointOne Purple Panda Point: One point means that the book was just plain bad. I would never read it again. It’s the book equivalent of spinach ice cream.

Two PointsTwo Purple Panda Points: Two points means the book was okay. Fine. Nothing remarkable. The book equivalent of vanilla ice cream with no toppings in a dish.

Three PointsThree Purple Panda Points: Three points means the book was good. I enjoyed it and would read it again. The book equivalent of vanilla and chocolate swirl ice cream in a wafer cone.

Four PointsFour Purple Panda Points: Four points means the book was great. I loved it actually! The book equivalent of cookie dough ice cream with rainbow sprinkles in a sugar cone.

Five PointsFive Purple Panda Points: Five points mean that the book was one of the best ones I’ve ever read. Amazing! Awesome! Cool beans! The ice cream equivalent of chocolate cookies and cream ice cream in a sugar cone with chocolate sprinkles. Yum!

Woo, that made me hungry! And now onto the review…

The Darkness DwellersToday I’ll be reviewing “Kiki Strike: The Darkness Dwellers” by Kirsten Miller. You can read my full thoughts below or a quick overview of them in the image above.

Summary: The Irregulars, a group of kick-butt delinquent girl scouts led by the dangerous Kiki Strike, are off to the City of Lights! While attempting to reclaim her throne, Kiki is captured by her vengeful cousin and must rely on the wits of her friends in New York and Paris to help plan her escape. With thoughts of baldness, manners, underground cities, and love on their minds, the Irregulars are about to embark on their biggest adventure yet.

Plot: A finishing school. A novice stalker. A group of Parisian explorers. A hair-growing formula. An evil twin. A revolution against manners. A royal kidnapping. A World War II mystery. All of these plot lines seemed unconnected as I was reading, but by the time I had closed the back cover they were all flawlessly weaved together!

Characters: The Irregulars are just plain awesome, and there is no way to possibly change that fact. However, I did find Ananka’s crush pretty annoying at times. :( This book is really an ode to Betty Bent though, and seeing her kick butt was pretty cool. And Kiki Strike having a crush? Greatness.

Setting: Betty and Kiki may have spent their time underground Paris, but New York and the Shadow City are not at all forgotten in this installment! Although NYC didn’t have as big of a role this time around, I did enjoy reading about the girls’ city adventures, as well as the parallels between the Shadow City and the catacombs.

Favorite Character: Betty. Always Betty. 

Favorite Line: “So I’ll keep my distance from him and start kidnapping delivery boys like Iris instead.” -Ananka Fishbein (on getting over her crush)

Cover Conversations: It isn’t a bad cover, but I miss the old ones.

Recommended Reading: If you enjoyed the third book in the Kiki Strike series, you’ll love The Mysterious Benedict Society.

Overall Rating: Five Purple Panda Points

Five Points

Have an awesome night! I’m getting ready for some serious Downton Abbey watching.

Signature

M&M Cookies – A Recipe

12 Feb

M&M CookiesHappy Thursday! I just received some wonderful news: I get to be part of the costume crew for my school’s one act play! And so, although I don’t post recipes often, (my sister is the main baker in my house – I prefer the role of taste-tester) today seemed like the perfect time to feature some delicious M&M cookies I made for Valentine’s Day. Not only are they yummy, they’re also very easy to make, so let’s get baking!

I N G R E D I E N T S:

  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of shortening
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups and 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 1/3 cups of M&M’s (with a few left over for topping)

T O    M A K E:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  • Mix together brown sugar, sugar, shortening, eggs, and vanilla extract in an electric mixer.
  • Add in the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, and salt. The batter will be very thick!
  • Pour in the M&Ms. I found it easier to mix them in with a spatula than with the mixer.
  • Grease two baking sheets.
  • Shape the dough into balls and place them on the baking sheet. (Mine were 4×4) Flatten them out with your hand, and lightly press a few M&Ms into the surface.
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes.
  • Let cool.

Adapted from Ciao Bella!

Happy baking!

Lulu

Purple Panda Points: Kiki Strike, The Empress’s Tomb

8 Feb

Hi!

I hope you’re all having a great weekend! I am currently watching even more snow fall outside my window, and although it’s a bit cold outside, it’s perfect reading time! I’ve gotten through a couple books so far, and I plan on reading some more this evening, (Nothing’s better than a cup of cocoa and a book!) but first, a new Purple Panda Points Review for all of you lovely readers…

Here’s a quick recap of my book review system for any of you who aren’t yet familiar with it:

My book review format is called “Purple Panda Points”, where I talk about three elements of the book (setting, plot, characters) in brief points. Hopefully this will help to keep the reviews informative, interesting, and spoiler-free!

The books are rated using the ice cream rankings (because, obviously)…

1 Panda PointOne Purple Panda Point: One point means that the book was just plain bad. I would never read it again. It’s the book equivalent of spinach ice cream.

Two PointsTwo Purple Panda Points: Two points means the book was okay. Fine. Nothing remarkable. The book equivalent of vanilla ice cream with no toppings in a dish.

Three PointsThree Purple Panda Points: Three points means the book was good. I enjoyed it and would read it again. The book equivalent of vanilla and chocolate swirl ice cream in a wafer cone.

Four PointsFour Purple Panda Points: Four points means the book was great. I loved it actually! The book equivalent of cookie dough ice cream with rainbow sprinkles in a sugar cone.

Five PointsFive Purple Panda Points: Five points mean that the book was one of the best ones I’ve ever read. Amazing! Awesome! Cool beans! The ice cream equivalent of chocolate cookies and cream ice cream in a sugar cone with chocolate sprinkles. Yum!

Woo, that made me hungry! And now onto the review…

Kiki Strike Purple Panda PointsToday I’ll be reviewing “Kiki Strike: The Empress’s Tome” by Kirsten Miller. You can read my full thoughts below or a quick overview of them in the image above.

Summary: The Irregulars, a group of delinquent girl scouts led by the mysterious Kiki Strike, are back, and this time they’re diving into the world of haunted mansions, ghosts, evil twins, and art heists. Ananka is being threatened with the idea of boarding school, Betty is falling in love with a squirrel-loving artist, Kiki is dealing with murderous foreigners, and Oona Wong’s dangerous father, Liester Liu, seems like he wants to be part of her family again…but these adventurous girls know that not everything is as it seems.

Plot: The Irregulars’ ghost-themed mystery had it all: Suspense! Kidnapping! Squirrels! Butt-kicking girl adventurers! My only problem with it is that it didn’t focus enough on a certain Eastern European royal family. That cliffhanger though – it killed me!

Characters: The Irregulars are back! The original six were as awesome as ever, and they have a new cast of characters joining them this time around too. Kaspar and Betty’s budding romance was quite cute, and I really enjoyed the antics of the rebellious Molly Donovan.

Setting: A mansion that once belonged to an eccentric socialite that may be haunted by a ghost? Yes please! Although a lot of the Irregulars’ adventure takes place in the creepy mansion, their awesome underground hangout is still very present throughout the book. And how can you not love a city covered in squirrel art?

Favorite Character: I’ll always have a soft spot for Betty, but Oona really rocked this one!

Favorite Line: “One clap switches the lights on, two claps makes me a cappuccino, and if I clap three times, the lasers come on and turn you all into toast. Make yourselves at home.” – Luz Lopez, (when asked why she installed a clapper.)

Recommended Reading: If you enjoyed the second book in the Kiki Strike series, you’ll love Greenglass House, Gilda Joyceand The Wig in the Window.

Overall Rating: Five Purple Panda Points

Five Points

Have an awesome week!

Signature

Purple Panda Points: Kiki Strike, Inside the Shadow City

4 Feb

Hi!

Happy Wednesday everyone! I went back to school this morning after a couple snow days spent being productive…which in my case means reading and having marathons of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. :) I did get a chance to write up a few reviews for the blog and create a Goodreads account, (which you can check out here) though, so I thought today would be a perfect time to post a new Purple Panda Points…

But first, a recap of my book review system for any of you readers who aren’t familiar with it! Enjoy!

My book review format is called “Purple Panda Points”, where I talk about three elements of the book (setting, plot, characters) in brief points. Hopefully this will help to keep the reviews informative, interesting, and spoiler-free!

The books are rated using the ice cream rankings (because obviously, ice cream is the food that makes the most sense)…

1 Panda PointOne Purple Panda Point: One point means that the book was just plain bad. I would never read it again. It’s the book equivalent of spinach ice cream.

Two PointsTwo Purple Panda Points: Two points means the book was okay. Fine. Nothing remarkable. The book equivalent of vanilla ice cream with no toppings in a dish.

Three PointsThree Purple Panda Points: Three points means the book was good. I enjoyed it and would read it again. The book equivalent of vanilla and chocolate swirl ice cream in a wafer cone.

Four PointsFour Purple Panda Points: Four points means the book was great. I loved it actually! The book equivalent of cookie dough ice cream with rainbow sprinkles in a sugar cone.

Five PointsFive Purple Panda Points: Five points mean that the book was one of the best ones I’ve ever read. Amazing! Awesome! Cool beans! The ice cream equivalent of chocolate cookies and cream ice cream in a sugar cone with chocolate sprinkles. Yum!

Woo, that made me hungry! And now onto the review…

Kiki Strike Today I’ll be reviewing “Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City” by Kirsten Miller. You can read my full thoughts below or a quick overview of them in the image above.

Summary: The Shadow City is a system of tunnels hidden under the bustling city of New York used by thieves and criminals to hide their loot…and secrets. For hundreds of years it has laid undisturbed, that is, until now. A group of delinquent girl scouts led by the dangerous and mysterious Kiki Strike is about to go deep under the city they’ve known all their lives and start an adventure bigger than they could ever imagine.

Plot: A mysterious underground city hiding dangerous secrets? An evil plot against the royalty of an Eastern European country? Butt-kicking girl scouts? Suspenseful and interesting writing? Looks like you have all the ingredients for my new favorite mystery!

Characters: The Irregulars are the type of people I would love to be friends with in real life! Although the story is told from Ananka’s point of view, I still felt that they were all very well developed and not at all forgettable. And let me just say that Kiki Strike is super cool. :)

Setting: I loved how New York City was incorporated into this book; the buildings may hold clues to the mystery, the park may have a secret opening to a creepy (and AWESOME) underground city, even the main characters’ homes were cool! If only I had my own personal library like Ananka or basement full of clothes like Betty…

Favorite Character: This is definitely a three-way tie between Betty, Iris, and Kiki. Decisions, decisions…

Favorite Line: “When I grow up, I’d like to be dangerous.” – Kiki Strike (when asked what she wants to be when she grows up.)

Recommended Reading: If you enjoyed the first book in the Kiki Strike series, you’ll love The Red Blazer Girls, Spy School, Capture the Flag, and The Mystery of the Third Lucretia.

Overall Rating: Five Purple Panda Points

Five Points

Have you read any good mysteries lately?

Signature

Mimi’s Super Bowl Adventure, Part 4 – A Photo Story

1 Feb

Hi!

Happy Super Bowl Sunday, my lovely readers! I’m not a big football fan myself, (I’m watching Downton Abbey as I write this post. :) ) but I always look forward to Mimi’s Superbowl Adventure photo story every year. (You can read the last three years’ posts here, here, and here.) And so, without further ado, I’ll hand it over to everyone’s favorite kitty, Mimi!

Mimi's PlanHello everyone! It’s moi, Mimi! As I do every February, I went on an epic Super Bowl adventure with my best friend Lavender, and I’m here to tell you all about it! Enjoy!

“Ooh! It’s Super Bowl Sunday! Better call Lavender,” I said this morning, happily jumping into my favorite chair.

Mimi Talks with Lavender“Hey Mimi, what’s up?” My best friend Lavender greeted me cheerfully when she walked into the room a few minutes later. “I have a brilliant idea!” I answered back. Lavender groaned. “It’s Super Bowl Sunday, isn’t it?” I nodded and made room for her on the chair. “And you know what everyone’s favorite part of the Super Bowl is? The commercials! And this year, we’re going to star in them with all our friends! Onward!”

Take 1“Oreo and Juliet’s Baked Goods Commercial: Take 1!” Princess Minnie called out in the film studio when we arrived. “Look it’s Juliet!” I said happily. My pink elephant friend gave us a small smile and wave before turing towards the camera.

Juliet and Cupcake“Oreo and Juliet’s Baked Goods has all sorts of yummy treats! They’re perfect for Valentine’s Day, parties, or any time you’re craving a bit of chocolate. Your sweet tooth is sure to be-“

Mimi Crashes 1 “Hi Juliet!” I burst in. “Hi Mimi!” She answered, tilting her head back so she could see me. “How’s it going?” “Great!” I answered, “See you at next week’s art class!”

Lavender Says Hi “Super Bowl adventure?” Juliet asked my buddy Lavender. She nodded before running off to join moi. “Great cupcakes Juliet!”

Minnie 2“Purple Panda Books Commercial: Take 2!” Princess Minnie called out in the next film studio when we arrived. “HI ELSIE!” I waved ecstatically at my sparkly friend. She gave me a wink before beginning her commercial monologue.

Elsie“Do you love reading? How about purple? How about pandas? If you do, Purple Panda Books is just the store for you! Come to our lovely store and discover shelves filled with loads of purple books and read to your heart’s content. You’ll be falling head over heels for these stories in no-“

Mimi Crashes 2“Hi Elsie! Nice work! Can I borrow one of these books?” I asked my awesome friend. “Sure Mimi! I just have to do one more take.” I shrugged, “That’s cool! I’ll see you at tomorrow’s book club meeting!”

Lavender Explains“Is this one of those Super Bowl adventures you told me about earlier?” Elsie asked Lavender, who nodded. “Awesome!” Elsie added.

Minnie Take Three“Dot-lightful Clothing Commercial: Take 4!” Princess Minnie called out in the third film studio when we arrived. “There’s Dottie!” I told Lavender, dragging her towards the set.

Dottie“Dot-lightful Clothing sells apparel with fun colors and prints that are sure to brighten up your day. Our styles can be purchased in one of our three locations across the-“

Mimi Crashes 3“Hi Mimi!” Dottie said without even taking her eyes of the camera. “Hows the Super Bowl adventure going?” “Fabulous! Thanks for letting me be in one of your commercial takes. See you at the Sparkle Lovers Convention on Tuesday!”

Lavender Explains“Oh. You were expecting us?” Lavender asked Dottie.

Mimi Begins Planning “So. What should we do next year?” I asked once we were back in my fabulously pink bedroom.

The End

The End :)

Have a great night,

MIMI

+

Signature

theawesomeadventuresoflulu’s Snow Day Essentials

28 Jan

Hi!

THE SNOW HAS TAKEN OVER! (Not really, but my window is currently so covered in snow that I can barely see outside of it.) Yesterday afternoon I learned the wonderful news that I would be having a snow day today (and tomorrow! Yay!) and I immediately began making plans of snuggling up and reading all day long. I did exactly that and my day turned out absolutely positively awesome! To ensure your future snow day (or random weekend) is as great as mine, I have compiled a list of my Snow Day Essentials. Enjoy!

Snow Day (Hat Clipart from My Cute Graphics)

 1 >> Blanket and Cocoa >> There’s nothing like snuggling up in a cozy blanket with a mug of warm cocoa, right? Add in a few extra marshmallows and some graham crackers, and you have the ingredients for a very cozy snow day.

Pictured Here >> Vera Bradley’s Throw Blanket in Leopard Spots >> My Cute Graphics Hot Cocoa Mug Clipart

2 >> Good Books >> I just spent the last few hours reading the second book in the Kiki Strike series, and it made my snow day quite delightful! I think tomorrow afternoon I’ll start the third…

(By the way, has anyone seen the cover for the third School for Good and Evil book? It’s pure awesomeness.)

Pictured Here >> The Empress’s Tomb and The Darkness Dwellers by Kirsten Miller

3 >> Comfy Clothes >> When I heard that I was having a snow day, I immediately knew that I would have to wear my cozy “Le Snow Day” sweatshirt from Abercrombie! And of course, no outfit would be complete without my fluffy hat from American Eagle. :)

Pictured Here >> Le Snow Day Graphic Sweatshirt from Abercrombie >> Hat from American Eagle (I can’t find a link to my specific hat, but this one is very similar.)

4 >> Movie and TV Show Marathons >> I tend to have TV marathons all the time, but they’re extra fun when it’s a snow day! I’m actually watching Gilmore Girls as I write this blog post, (although I usually am.)

Pictured Here >> The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, The Fosters, and Gilmore Girls.

5 >> Games >> What can I say? A snow day is nothing without fun and games.

Pictured Here >> Stratego, Just Dance 2015.

Happy snow day / Tuesday!

Signature

Purple Panda Points: For Real

25 Jan

Hi!

Happy Sunday! How has your weekend been so far? I’ve spent mine curled up with a few good books and looking at the pretty snow outside my window. And since I’m in a bit of a reading mood, it’s a perfect day to post a Purple Panda Points review!

Here’s a quick review of the Purple Panda Points rating system for any of you who aren’t familiar with it…

My book review format is called “Purple Panda Points”, where I talk about three elements of the book (setting, plot, characters) in brief points. Hopefully this will help to keep the reviews informative, interesting, and spoiler-free!

The books are rated using the ice cream rankings…

1 Panda PointOne Purple Panda Point: One point means that the book was just plain bad. I would never read it again. It’s the book equivalent of spinach ice cream.

Two PointsTwo Purple Panda Points: Two points means the book was okay. Fine. Nothing remarkable. The book equivalent of vanilla ice cream with no toppings in a dish.

Three PointsThree Purple Panda Points: Three points means the book was good. I enjoyed it and would read it again. The book equivalent of vanilla and chocolate swirl ice cream in a wafer cone.

Four PointsFour Purple Panda Points: Four points means the book was great. I loved it actually! The book equivalent of cookie dough ice cream with rainbow sprinkles in a sugar cone.

Five PointsFive Purple Panda Points: Five points mean that the book was one of the best ones I’ve ever read. Amazing! Awesome! Cool beans! The ice cream equivalent of chocolate cookies and cream ice cream in a sugar cone with chocolate sprinkles. Yum!

Woo, that made me hungry! And now onto the review…

Purple Panda Points 3Today I’ll be reviewing “For Real” by Alison Cherry. You can read my full thoughts below or a quick overview of them in the image above.

Summary: When Miranda discovers her boyfriend, Samir, cheating on her, her TV-nut sister Claire immediately comes up with a revenge plan: They’ll compete on the same reality TV show as Samir, “Around the World,” and win. But when the sisters arrive at the starting line of the globe-trotting race, a surprise twist is announced…they won’t be racing with the partners they chose. With all the fake drama and TV magic, the race turns out to be something the two never expected.

Plot: The entire idea of competing on a reality TV show for revenge is a pretty funny idea, so naturally, this book was also quite funny. Add in some easy-flowing writing, sister bonding, and ridiculous TV show challenges, and you have one great book! (And it’s realistic fiction! Surprise!)

Characters: I was really looking forward to reading about Claire and Miranda’s relationship in this book, but the surprise twist in the race unfortunately didn’t allow for them to have too many scenes together. Luckily, the chapters they did share together were very good, and probably my favorite part of the book. And of course, the other contestants on the race were also quite…interesting.

Setting: “Around the World,” is basically it’s own setting, don’t you agree? It was pretty ridiculous (and hilarious!) but I enjoyed seeing the parallels between it and the reality TV shows we watch in real life. I also liked how little, by little, we found out more about the inner workings and behind-the-scenes action of the show.

Overall Rating: 4 Purple Panda Points

Four Points

Have you read any good books lately?

Signature