Quick Book Review: Zodiac by Romina Russell

Due to Black Moon’s release day, I’ve decided¬† to post a throwback review of Zodiac! I received an ARC when it first came out! Yay Romina! Congrats on release day!!!

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Zodiac was a charming novel that featured an amazing original idea.

At first, I found Zodiac to be a really slow and boring start. The author introduces many words and places in her universe that weren’t explained well, but as the story progressed I began to understand the language she made up for her fictional universe. Once the book got going, I found that I had myself hooked onto the story and I wanted to know more about the characters. I even began to feel for the characters, which is always a good sign for the book!

The start was slow, which made the novel hard to read. I almost put the book down three times due to how boring I found the start to be. Once I was three-fourths into the book, I was hooked, but I would suggest the author to make the story a little more enticing towards the beginning instead of the end.

I felt like I needed a Zodiac style dictionary for some of the words used in the novel. The author explains the words once or twice, and then they are used constantly. Sometimes I needed a little reminder of what Psynergy was or other terms that aren’t used in day to day life. But, this author is making her own universe so the new words were used in a good way! Her own fictional universe deserved it’s own language!

I liked the character development and the twists and turns of the novel! While the book was slow, the action that did occur was appreciated. I loved the development of the story and the different pieces of action that happened. I would have liked to see more of the different Zodiacs involved in this novel if I had to choose anything to fix about the plot.

Overall, I did enjoy this book! I liked reading it and I found it to be an original and well thought out idea! I can’t wait to read the next one now that I’m hooked on the first!

Four out of five stars for Zodiac, due to the slow start.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

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Quick Book Review: An American Duchess by Sharon Page

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This romantic novel by Sharon Page reminded me how much I loved romance novels.

I hadn’t touched a pure romance book for a while, and when I won this book and decided to read it, I was not let down. This book was beautifully written in a time period that reminded me a lot of “The Great Gatsby” by F Scott Fitzgerald. The book battles some issues including loss, war, love, following your dreams and also focusing on being a time piece rather than a modern day piece.

Following Zoe, who is a headstrong girl who wants to do what she wants and not others was pretty stereotypical, but she was not the stereotypical character other than following the path of many other famous lead characters. She is not your typical lady, since she is willing to be both ladylike, and tomboy-ish and sarcastic.

I could not put this book down and I was glued to every page when I was reading it. The novel featured beautiful descriptions and had a lot of heart put into it. The emotional roller coaster I experienced while reading this book was possible only through the author’s ability to make the characters feel real and have the situations seem realistic.

Beautiful book! Five out of five stars! I cannot praise this book enough!

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

Quick Book Review: Bone Idol by David Louden

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Bone Idol (bohn ahyd-l), despite confusing me by the titles, was a really nice read! And by really nice, I mean it kept me hooked, interesting and on my edge about what was going to happen next to the main character.

I enjoyed reading about the main character as he grew up, but I sometimes felt a little confused as to what age stage he was at. I did my best to guess at what age he was at while I was reading it, but I sometimes found it a struggle to understand if he was still a preteen or a teenager yet.

I found the novel was just perfectly long enough to not get me bored and wishing for it to end. I was almost begging for more when I got to the last chapter. I would definitely want to continue reading this series if another book came out and followed the lead character or his family again.

One word of advice was that I would have liked a more clear plot. I wasn’t exactly sure what was going on for a complete plot, other than following the character as he grew up. Yes, I understand it was somewhat an autobiography but I would have loved a clear plot to the stories.

I did enjoy this book and I would recommend it to many readers who want a different read, that is a fictional themed novel but has a more real life setting while you follow the character.

Four out of five stars, due to the lack of a continuing plot and the age confusion I experienced while trying to figure out how old the lead character, Doug, was throughout the novel.

Amazing book nonetheless!

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

Book Review: Surviving Gretchen by Bonnie Daly

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Book Review
Book Title: Surviving Gretchen
Author: Bonnie Daly

Introduction: I was given a copy of this novel for an honest review.

Review:
This story is a great middle-grade or pre-YA novel. It’s a contemporary, Disney Channel-esque book that will keep young readers interested. I definitely enjoyed this book on a middle-grade level. Bonnie Daly did a fantastic job writing towards her audience, and I’m sure that younger readers will relate to this story.

From an adult’s point of view there were definitely holes (Gretchen seems to be mean because she doesn’t have friends, but usually there is a reason behind the behaviour), but viewing it as if I was younger reading it, it makes sense. When I was a kid, it seemed like the bullies just picked on others for fun and not because they had issues in their own lives.

Some of the really fantastic parts within this story was the family and friendship relationships. Bonnie made these friendships seem real and honest, which is truly an incredible feat. There are many books I’ve read where I wonder how realistic the relationships are, but this book makes it very clear. I applaud Bonnie’s skill in writing that aspect of a novel.

I was slightly confused as to why there was a goat as a pet and why it seemed to take on more human characteristics – this book seemed to be quite realistic, but Ozzy felt out of place. At times, I felt like Bonnie was trying to make a character similar to Olaf and Sven and Pascal in the Disney-realm, but it just didn’t feel right in this setting. That being said, kids might really like a friendly goat in the story, I just know as an adult I found it quite silly and useless.

If anything, I really didn’t like the portrayal of Gretchen. I really wanted her to grow within the novel at some point – maybe she gets friends, maybe a reason is given for her behaviour, maybe she’s not the true villain – I wanted something, and I didn’t get it. Perhaps in further books she will be discussed, but for now I’m left feeling cheated. With the fantastic story building and relationships in this novel, having this wicked villain who’s just evil, “because” (and no other reason) made me want so much more. I finished the book and wondered if I was missing pages! This couldn’t be the climax and ending of the story! Gretchen needs her human-izing ending!

This book did a great job at being short and to the point. There were scenes that I felt could have been left out, but they made the book interesting. A majority of this book is cliche – it deals with preteens, bullying, diaries/journals, someone reading your journal, backstabbing, gossiping, and essentially every cliche in the book that can happen to 13 year olds. Although, the aspect of the story about what happens when friends get confused and assume things was very well written, so among the cliches there are some gems.

Overall, this book had it’s highs and it’s lows. As an adult, I expected more. As a younger reader, this might be the type of book they need. I’m not entirely sure, especially since as a younger reader I was more into the entire vampire scene and not the contemporary.

Three out of five stars.

Quick Book Review: Dora Versus Picasso by Cecil Jenkins

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This book was nonfiction gold! When I was younger, I was really into art so I decided to pick up this book about an artist that I was obsessed with when I was under the age of ten.

This novel follows Pablo Picasso and one of his many lovers, Dora. While the beginning experienced a slow start, once I was five chapters in I could not put this book down.

Many events in this book reflect the actual events that occurred, but are written in a more fictional way than a non fiction informational book. Having this book being written in the fictional, story telling format made this book more enjoyable and made me feel like I was actually there witnessing Picasso paint.

This book was beautifully written, and after the fact when I looked up the paintings to see how they compared to the descriptions in the novel, I was in awe of how descriptive the author was.

I usually dislike non fiction books, but picking this book up made me really reconsider the amount of dislike I have for them. If all works were based on non fiction like this book, I would feel the need to pick more books up.

The downside I saw to this book, was that I wanted a little more insight into the relationships Picasso had with the ex wife (who is only mentioned and not in a lot of the action of the novel) and with his currently lover and not mistress (Marie).

Overall, I loved this book. When this book finished, I was frustrated that I couldn’t read more (which is not a bad thing at all)! I would definitely read another book by Cecil Jenkins after reading this amazing gem! This work of art (oh the puns and irony!).

Five out of five stars! I was unable to put this book down and I demand more! Also, it was signed by the author which made this book a little bit more special for me! (Okay, maybe a lot more special).

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

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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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.