Book Review: Ugly by Robert Hoge

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Edition photos via Goodreads.

Book Review:
Title: Ugly
Author: Robert Hoge
Date Read: September 28th – October 4th, 2016
Date Reviewed: October 6th, 2016

Introduction: I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads. When I read the synopsis of this novel I was incredibly intrigued. A memoir of the life of a child that went through surgeries due to birth defects seemed realistic and interesting. Most school aged children (and even adults) feel like they don’t fit in, so reading a story about a life long battle with trying to fit in and how Robert Hoge managed to keep going made my heart warm.

Spoilers Ahead?: Yes.

Quick Summary: Robert Hoge was born with a few issues – he had a tumor on his face and his legs did not form correctly. As a small child, he went through surgeries to remove parts of his legs (to the knee and above the knee), remove the tumor on his face and realign his facial features to appear more ‘normal’. Throughout his life Robert had to learn how to adapt – like walking with mechanical legs, deal with bullying, and making life decisions regarding future surgeries. This story is uplifting and inspiring to read, and this version of the story is written as a kid friendly story.

Evaluations: I loved this book – it was inspiring, beautifully written and aimed at the right audience. This easy read was made so children would be not only interested but able to understand. Robert Hoge uses metaphors and similes to explain how it feels to be different, which I think will help the audience grasp a better understanding. Overall, I’m impressed. I would definitely suggest that anyone read this novel, and if possible that school’s should adapt the book into their reading curriculum. If more people understand, perhaps there would be less bullying and hate in this world.

Plot: The content of this story revolves around Robert Hoge’s life and his struggles. It starts from when he was born, to when he was in his pre-teens. If anything, I would have liked to see what his struggles look like now, but I don’t know if that would have worked with the audience he was writing to. Children want to hear about lives similar to theirs, so perhaps it was for the best.

The plot moves quick enough to keep the reader interested. I was more than impressed with how the story was adapted – a child could easily read this book and understand, but as an adult I also enjoyed the novel. It’s hard to find stories that translate well for both kids and adult. I applaud Robert on how well he wrote this story.

I haven’t been able to find any problems with the story itself. It’s a great narrative with lots of substance – not only is there a story to be told, but Robert explains how he feels, and how the reader might feel. His metaphors work well with the audience – making a clay head that’s perfect, but suddenly there’s a giant piece of clay in the middle – and he continues to reference them throughout the novel for further understanding.

Overall, the context of the words in this book are excellent. The author tells a great story, and the fact that it was a true story, a memoir, that makes it even better.

Characters:  The “characters” of the story are mainly Robert and his family, with a splash of friends, schoolmates, doctors and teachers. All the characters are realistic in the setting (and of course they are all real life people as well). You can’t tell if they were portrayed the way they actually were, but everyone seems to be acting realistically. No character seems out of place or unrealistic within the context of the story.

Robert’s character (of himself) also acts realistically for his age. I’ve found in some memoirs that when the author writes about themselves that the child version of themselves acts like an adult. Child Robert acts like a child, which is refreshing. Little Robert isn’t having intense emotions similar to an adults, he is acting and thinking like a child throughout the novel. A+ for characterization!

Themes/Creativity/Uniqueness: If this novel would have been Young Adult or aimed at the Adult audience (which Robert Hoge has an “Adult” version of this novel that you can also check out) there probably could have been more themes implemented. This book doesn’t deal with some of the emotional pain and bullying that most likely happened. The pain isn’t discussed as much as it probably happened, either. But, this book wasn’t aimed at an audience  that needs to feel that pain just yet. For the audience it’s made for, it does it’s job. It explains how he was bullied and puts a light spin on the names he was called.

The main theme of this story seemed like “Be yourself” or “Nobody is perfect”. Robert could have gotten more surgeries to look more “normal” but he didn’t want to. Why would he want to go through more pain, time out for surgery, and the possibility for further injury just to look “normal”. Everyone has their differences, and Robert constantly highlights this throughout the book. Nobody is truly normal – there are individuals with physical, mental, physiological and psychological changes out there. There are no two people alike – even twins are different with their personalities and interests. If people weren’t quick to judge and accepted differences, perhaps this world would be a better place.

Overall, the themes and creativity within this book were tremendous. Yes, I would have liked Robert to expand on many topics, but this book wouldn’t have adapted well for children if he did.

Strengths: Robert’s ability to write to a younger audience but have an adult audience enjoy the book as well is perhaps the greatest strength. He rivals JK Rowling with that ability, and he deserves the recognition. He also deserves a lot of credit for being able to write a story about being different and have it so warm-hearted. He put such a wonderful spin on something that could have been very terrible for him. I appreciate his work, and he deserves lots and lots of press for this book.

Weaknesses: His weaknesses within this book are mainly the themes and context that readers wanted – but readers need to be aware that this specific version of the story was adapted for children. Yes, I would have liked to see more of the struggle of his story and understand what he went through (the bullying, the pain, the thought process), but children don’t always understand those aspects of an adult’s story. Adults understand adults, children do not understand adults.

Score: 5 out of 5.

Robert Hoge’s book is inspiring and uplifting. This inspirational read is truly a gem and I would love for more people to read this book. It addresses many topics that schools are trying to plant within their curriculums – embracing differences, dealing with bullying, and adapting to change. This book was incredible, and I can not give it enough stars or great reviews.

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Quick Book Review: A Hunka Hunka Nursing Love by Kathryn Maeglin

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Photo via Goodreads.

This romance novel was a quick and fun read! The novel follows Valerie Palka who is a businesswoman. This businesswoman decides to start up a little business involving male nurses helping the elderly in their homes after her Mother begins to need help in her home. Valerie hires one of the nurses who helped her Mother, named Keith, and might be falling for him!

While reading this novel, I found myself believing that this could happen (minus a few facts regarding the health care team that might have been needed to be researched more) and I enjoyed every minute! The novel started out and moved fast enough to keep me interested, and always had interesting turns with every page turn.

Following Valerie, Keith and Helen, as well as the other characters, was a roller coaster of emotions and minor suspense. I definitely would pick up another novel by Kathryn Maeglin after reading this novel.

The downside to this novel was how it ended. Not in the fashion of the plot, but the speed. I found the ending to come to a sudden, rushed end and without much insight into it. I felt the last chapter or epilogue could have been explained a bit more in one or two chapters, but maybe I’m just being picky.

I really did enjoy this book! I rate it four out of five stars mainly because I felt like the plot could have been extended to visit a few more problems within the story about Helen and Valerie’s relationship (without giving away any spoilers, I shall say “near the end of the novel”). Overall, it was amazing though!!

Four out of five stars! Amazing book! I’d read it again and recommend it to many of my friends who enjoy romance and light-hearted comedy!!

I received this book for free through Good Reads First Reads.

Book Review: The Most Beautiful Book in the World by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt

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Photo via Goodreads.

Book Review:

Title: The Most Beautiful Book in the World: Eight Novellas
Author: Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt
Date Read: September 4th – September 26th, 2016
Date Reviewed: September 26th, 2016

Introduction: I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads. I wanted to read this because I was lacking in anthologies as of lately – I had almost none on my shelf!

Spoilers Ahead?: No.

Quick Summary: This anthology is full of eight different novellas that are not related. They are cute, short stories that are sure to entertain the reader. These are merely eight random stories, nothing that is to hard for the average reader to comprehend, and nothing sci-fi or crazy plot wise. It is a set of contemporary fiction novellas.

Evaluations: Some stories spoke more to me than others, but all eight of them were beautifully written. I enjoyed each novella as  they came, and even though it took me a while to get through the novel, that was merely because I wanted to read one story at a time. If a reader goes in expecting a simple, entertaining read, than this book is for them!

Overall, I enjoyed this book, but it wasn’t extraordinary. It was just a good read.

Plot: Each of the plots are finished within each story. I was thoroughly impressed by Mr. Schmitt’s writing. Many authors create a fictional world within their novellas and then the reader is left craving more. Mr. Schmitt sums each story up perfectly and the endings left me feeling complete. I did not require more and I did not require less – so bravo to this fabulous author.

Themes/Creativity:  When I read over other reviews of this novel, it was clear either readers swung one way or the other. You hate this set of novellas, or you love it. If you are expecting a grande, exquisite set of stories then this anthology is not for you. It is contemporary, French literature, and readers should be aware of this coming in. The stories are creative in their own right, with each being different from the rest. They are fast past, they have a simple narrative and they are not super sophisticated.  I couldn’t find any themes, but I would say this little anthology is creative.

Uniqueness: Each story is unique in their own way. Some of the stories, such as the first Wanda Winnipeg, may put the reader off if they are not fully invested in the anthology. Some of the stories are brighter and more unique than others, while some of them are simply plot driven and simple minded.  Since this anthology was originally in French, I would have loved to read the French version without translation, because there may have been some words lost in translation.

Strengths: Mr. Schmitt’s plot driven writing is by far one of the best strengths. He gets to the point and writes a wonderful story!

Weaknesses: I found that the sophistication within these stories was very bland. I would have loved some grander stories, but perhaps the book was not meant to be grande and sophisticated.

Score: 4 out of 5 stars. I enjoyed the novel, but I hoped for a little bit more. I would definitely read more wrote by Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt in the future.

Book Review: Two Graves by Zoe Kalo

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Photo via Goodreads.

Book Review
Title: Two Graves
Author: Zoe Kalo
Type of Book: Novella (Approximately 70 pages)
Spoilers below?: Yes.

Introduction: I was really interested in the premise of this book. It sounded suspenseful, potentially spooky, and intense. As soon as I was able to get my hands on this book, I began my read and it shockingly didn’t even take my an hour (include probably about 30 minutes of checking social media in that since I got distracted).

Quick Review: The cover is absolutely gorgeous. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but if you are looking for something pretty to put on your shelf than this book fits the bill. The cover made me get the impression the book might be spooky, but it’s not as spooky as you might think. I found this book to be entertaining, but not what I expected from the cover and summary.

Plot: I was incredibly confused by the plot. I understood something happened to the main character’s son (which I thought was her brother? She was sixteen, so did she have her kid at twelve or thirteen? The way she talked it was like he was her brother, so was this supposed to be one of those situations where the grandparents raise the grandchild as their own?…) but then I was left confused as to what exactly happened. I re-read this book a few times trying to understand what happened, but I was left even more confused as my brain tried to put the story together. The book at least had my hooked at what supposedly happened, but to no avail. Then, after I got so thrilled to find out what was happening, the book kind of just ended. I know this is going to be a series, but it left me feeling a little sad. Was that the cliffhanger for the next book? I hope so! I want to know so much more! This was only a little seventy page novella, so I hope there’s more to come.

I was also very confused as to who the “Father” the main character was talking to. This “Father” left, so I was left assuming this was the Father of both the main character and her “little brother” (Apparently son as I read more reviews). But, she never gives him any form of affection or father-daughter like talk between the two, so I’m assuming he was the Father of her child? I would have liked if this was more specified. As much as I love putting the work into a good mystery, this wasn’t much of a mystery, and more of just some plot details left out. If this book was centered on finding how the relationships between the characters, then sweet! I’ll do the work for that. But this book did not give me this feel.

I found the sixteen year old version of the main character and the man she talked on the phone with sounded way to adult-like. I know there are very mature kids out there, but it just seemed odd. If these two had a kid together at a  very young age, I wouldn’t think they’d be acting super mature towards each other and playing the adult roles. It just seemed odd to me, but maybe it isn’t. That’s just my opinion.

Now here’s the real mystery that bugged me – why did  this woman want revenge and against whom? This person appears, but we never know why or who he is. It clearly wasn’t the Father of her child. Did this person do something to her child? That’s hinted at. There just wasn’t enough information for me to truly understand. I get wanting to leave a cliffhanger, but this felt like the entire plot wasn’t even addressed. It’s like, reading Gone Girl (spoiler alert……) and never finding out what happened to Nick Dunne’s wife and her never returning – she just leaves and disappears, Nick tries to find her, and then the end in the middle of his hunt. It didn’t seem right. Perhaps this was just an introduction to the rest of the series (and that could work!) but without a hint as to when the next book would come out seems unfair to the reader.

Overall: I expected a lot more and I hope more is added (whether it’s in this novella or a series of novellas or a series of books). This novella was super interesting, but it was just missing some bits and pieces that would have made it so much better! This author is incredible at describing wardrobes and pieces of music, it’d be a real shame to not see more of her work floating around in my local book shops!

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

This novella was fantastic, and I’m glad I got a chance to read and review it. I definitely want to read more since this book was so well written, and I’m sure there is more to this story lurking in Zoe Kalo’s brain. It’s intriguing, it left me speechless, and it had my brain working overtime trying to connect anything and everything to try to solve the story.

Quick Book Review: Heart Prints by Anne Schober

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Photo via Goodreads.

To be honest, I usually do not read books like this because I have no taste for them, but this book was a beautiful exception. This little book full of stories about how lives were changed and how to relate to other people and students warmed my heart up quite a bit.

At the beginning I wasn’t sure if I would be interested in the book, since I usually am more into fictional stories with grande adventures. Once I got into the book, reading about how lives were positively affected by other people and how one can change themselves to relate to others made me thoroughly enjoy this book.

The book is beautifully written with a great use of descriptive words where needed. I felt like I was reading a very well thought out essay for an English class (and I really enjoyed English class and editing essays).

It is hard to find one thing wrong about this book (other than the fact it is from a genre that I don’t usually read). This book can lift the spirits and teach the reader about how to relate to other people, not just students, and how a reader can possibly have a positive effect on another person’s lives.

Four out of five stars! Beautifully written and a wonderful, short read.

I also really enjoyed the fact that it was autographed and had a message specifically for me. It made my day brighten seeing the book specifically signed with my name by the author with a little message.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

Book Release and Review: Silver Flame by Karpov Kinrade

Happy Belated Release Day! October 31st (Halloween) was the release day for Silver Flame. I’m a little late to the game, but here is my spoiler-free review of this amazing third novel in the Vampire Girl Trilogy!
Enjoy!

Pick it up on Amazon if you are interested: Silver Flame on Amazon

I also have this review posted to Goodreads, feel free to check out the page for this book on Goodreads as well! Silver Flame on Goodreads

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Photo via Goodreads.

Karpov Kinrade has done a great job, yet again, at making readers enticed and thrilled by their third novel in the Vampire Girl series – Silver Flame.

This novel keeps up an amazing pace, much like their past two books. Readers will not be disappointed with the fast moving, excellent character driven plot set up by these two incredible authors.

The wait between the novels was worth it – Karpov Kinrade brought their A game to this new release and it should not be missed by readers interested in a story that’s not your typical YA/Adult fantasy novel. Ari’s back and she’s sassy, feisty and a strong female lead. Alliances are made, relationships will be tested, and emotions will be high!

Reading this novel is definitely a must for fantasy lovers. It’ll keep you interested while making you yearn for the next novel in the series. This epic continuation of the series is by far my favorite so far, and with my high expectations that I had for it, they definitely hit them and went above and beyond!

So pick up this must read of the season! Give yourself an early Christmas gift and enjoy the beautiful realm Karpov Kinrade have created for their readers! They do not fail when they deliver!

Five out of five stars!

Quick Book Review: Carrie by Stephen King

 

 

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Image via Goodreads.

I have always wanted to pick up Carrie and I finally was able to find a copy of it.

Since I saw many film adaptions of this book first, it was kind of weird reading the different viewpoints of the novel – but it worked. I enjoyed reading the different perspectives within the novel, it gave a special insight into the minds of everyone else, something many books lack.

I definitely didn’t find it scary. It made me feel horrible for the treatment of the girl, and it made me understand why she was so evil, but I wasn’t scared. The films left me a lot more horrified then the book did (and books have left me scared before. The first Temperance Brennan book did just that).

It was well written – the writing style was strange at times, but it’s easy to follow.

I was definitely amazed at the idea behind this book. How did Stephen King think this up? That thought went through my mind numerous times while reading. It’s a wonderful idea and he did it justice.

Overall, it was a good story and I want to read more by Stephen King. He’s quite the genius!

Four out of five stars.