#BookReview The Black Mzungu by Alexandria Kathleen Osborne

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The Black Mzungu was a fantastic non-fiction read about the author, Alexandria Obsorne’s, incredible change in scenery.

I was shocked by how much I liked this book. I rarely find myself enjoying non-fiction or biographies, but this novel hit all the right notes with me. The author does a fantastic job retelling her life story of marrying a man from another country and moving there. Each chapter details the ups and downs of moving to a third world country and building a home there.

There are a lot of cultural insights and introductions to Lindi, Tanzania. Different terms and traditions are introduced in this novel and it gives an absolutely incredible insight into a world that is different compared to a First World Country.

Overall, I was impressed. I didn’t see anything wrong with this novel – it moved at a good pace, each chapter had a different story to tell that connected the entire novel together and it seemed real. Nothing seemed out of place or out of the ordinary.

I loved this book! I would love to read more about the author’s life in the future!

Five out of five stars!

I received this boook for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

What is your favourite non-fiction novel? Comment below!
If you enjoyed this review, check out another you might enjoy: #BookReview The Year After by Ashley Wagner

Use the hashtags #BriarsReviews and #TheBlackMzungu to start a conversation about this book! @ReviewAlholic

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#BookReview Down in the Belly of the Whale by Kelley Kay Bowles

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Today is October 10th – World Mental Health Day! To celebrate and make people aware, check out my review of a book that focuses on mental health awareness (and general health awareness too!).

 

 

Down in the Belly of the Whale by Kelley Kay Bowles is a witty and ingenious Young Adult novel that addresses a multitude of tough subject matter in an eye-opening manner.

I don’t know how Kelley does it, but she always manages to impress me. This time around, Kelley has a Young Adult novel that addresses so many tough subjects in one go! Topics such as self harm, child abuse, Multiple Sclerosis, loss of innocence, suicide and not so supportive parents are just some of the many that are tackled in this book. Each “issue” is brought into the story seamlessly and has plot lines throughout the narrative to deal with the issues. Most Young Adult books stay away from the tough yet so very real topics like these, so I have to applaud Kelley for taking the big leap in her story!

My teenage self would have loved a book like this, and I could have learned a lot in the process. On top of the subject matter, the book is written in the voice of a teenager (and it feels oh so real!). Just some of the quotes, such as “I’m going to wear a stunning pair of very expensive jeans that hug my curves like a two-year old with separation anxiety” make this book hilarious! This sitcom-like book creates a fantastic balance between realism and dark topics alongside the silly and goofy one-liners to make the book less depressing.

I did like the character development in this story – both Cora and Harper grow throughout. The change in their attitudes and view points was very obvious as the book went on! I think Kelley did a great job making these characters feel real and like teenagers. Bravo!!

The fantastical side of Harper being able to “sense” when someone is sick, and she’s able to sense mental illness is a big step forward. Mental illness is not always seen as someone being “sick”, rather it’s just an issue to be dealt with. Having a book directed towards teenagers have this point of view makes me very happy and very proud of Kelley’s writing.

Now for the tough part – the negatives. Were there negatives in this book for me? Yes. I felt the ending was rushed, which made some of the pieces being tied together feel less real. Is it necessarily a bad thing? No. It was just something that stuck out to me. Kelley ties up some of the loose ends nicely, but I would have loved a few more pages dedicated to these storylines. Other than that, this book felt flawless.

Would I recommend this book? Heck yes! This book was a fantastic Young Adult novel that I actually got into! I didn’t want to put it down, and I didn’t. I easily binged this book in one sitting, but it could easily be read in bits and pieces. If you like Young Adult novels, books that tackle dark subject matter (in a light-hearted way) or a splash of comedy, then you will love this book! I’d even recommend this to many adult readers, because of it’s amazing way of tackling the rough subjects.

There is a bit of an asterisk on the recommendation side – this book could be a major trigger for some people. Keep that in mind if you plan to pick up this book! The darker sides of this novel may not be suitable for all ages and maturity levels!

Five out of five stars!

I received a free copy of this book from the author Kelley Kaye Bowles in exchange for an honest review.

 

Find this book on:

Goodreads

Amazon.ca

Amazon.com

 

Find out more about Kelley Kaye Bowles on:

Goodreads – Kelley Kaye Bowles

http://www.kelleykaybowles.com/

Twitter – @kelkay1202

 

If you read this review, give me a shout out on Twitter to let me know you read it! @ReviewAlholic

 

And if you enjoyed this review, why not check out another you might enjoy? #BookReview The Sinking of Bethany Ann Crane by K. Kris Loomis

#BookReview Survving Revision: How One Writer Finished What She Started by K. Kris Loomis

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Surviving Revision by K. Kris Loomis is a thoughtful reflection on the writing process.

If you’re looking for a non-fiction book surrounding the thoughts on how to finish writing your book, then you’ve come to the right place! K. Kris Loomis (the author of The Sinking of Bethany Ann Crane) compiled a list of all the helpful ideas and tools that helped her get through revising her novel. This is a non-fiction, opinionated collection that can help you work through those tough times when writing your novel.

If I’m comparing it to my recent writing adventure (it was an essay, don’t get too excited), I felt like it was pretty spot on. Here’s just some of the general ideas she discusses (and explains why they are important and/or how you can fix them!). Don’t worry, I’m not spoiling much… Read the book to find all of the full details!
1. You write a draft that has all of your ideas and it’s not perfect. It’s like a big, blobby mess full of everything you want and lots of stuff you don’t.
2, Editing and revising can be an absolute pain, but it’s a must for your novel. Suddenly, that big, blobby mess will mold into what looks like an actual first draft!
3. Setting goals are important!

So, what do I think?

I think this is a really helpful book! If you’re not used to writing, this will give you insights into what actually happens in the writing process. It’s definitely honest, and it’s full of helpful and useful information. If anything, use it as a stepping stone so you know where you’re headed!

What I did like about it, was that it was relatively short! My ebook copy was just over one hundred pages, which is way easier to read than the thousand page English and Revising books you’d find at a college or university for writing. It felt like the perfect summary of those giant works! Also, this book was in a very comfortable, chatty tone. I felt like the author was actually talking to me and explaining what was happening, rather than reading it from a boring, old textbook. That makes this book so much more personal and enjoyable.

Are there cons?
Absolutely! As I said, this book isn’t a textbook! If you are looking for a step-by-step plan on how to totally finish your book, then this book might not be for you. It’s more generalized and personal than a textbook is. The book doesn’t give you specific grammatical errors to look out for or contain a list of commonly misspelled words. Since this book is a narrative of how one person overcame these issues, you need to be aware of what you are getting into. Some readers might not like that, so I’d say that is the con of this book!

My favourite part of this book was seeing how K. Kris Loomis worked through her book. That included what she was doing, her goals and her frustrations along the way. It showed me that the writing process isn’t always purely productive. Sometimes, you’re rocking it out and sometimes you’re having a little more difficulty than you let on. But on other occasions you can have a lot of fun and enjoy the ride! Having that sort of honesty was really cool and it’s something I don’t see very often in literature these days!

Overall, I liked this book! It felt personal, realistic and it echoed a lot of what I’ve found out myself. I think it’s a great read for someone who’s interested in finishing a book but doesn’t know what to expect. Sometimes, the best way to learn is to draw on the experiences of others!

Five out of five stars!

I received a free copy of this book from the author K. Kris Loomis in exchange for an honest review.

 

Check out this book on:

Goodreads

Amazon.com

Amazon.ca

Find out more about K. Kris Loomis on:

K. Kris Loomis Goodreads Page

http://www.kkrisloomis.com/

Twitter – @KKrisLoomis

 

If you enjoyed this review, check out these other books by K. Kris Loomis:

#BookReview The Sinking of Bethany Ann Crane by K. Kris Loomis

#BookReview The Monster in the Closet and Other Stories by K. Kris Loomis

 

Give me a shout-out on Twitter, on Facebook, or comment below with any other books you’d like to see on my blog!

#BookReview Single Chicas by Sandra C. Lopez

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Single Chicas by Sandra C. Lopez is a fabulous anthology full of heart warming, heart breaking and funny stories about latina women!

This is one of those gems you don’t find too often – a series of stories that you can relate to, even if it’s not about you. The collection ranges from stories about a brother getting married and changing, to a woman trying to figure out why she wasn’t “perfect” enough since her boyfriend dumped her, to a studious girl nicknamed “Virgin Mary” as a joke. The stories tell many different views of a woman’s life, and it was just so fantastic! Even when I couldn’t relate fully to one of the story’s, it felt like it matched many of my friends.

I highly recommend this collection! The stories are short yet sweet, and can easily be binged or taken one piece at a time. It’s a feel good series of stories that make will make you proud to be a woman (or know strong women)!

My favourite was definitely the first story, where the sister is wondering why Benny (her brother, Benito) is marrying a girl he barely knows. It feels like the relationship could be not only siblings, but when you question a close friend’s choicest since you know them so well.

All of the stories ranged from a 3 star to a 5 star rating (the ones I related to obviously being higher) but they all were fabulously written and a delight to read. I was never bored and never wanted to put the book down! There were definitely some Latina/Latino themes within this book, and I think they were addressed well! I don’t fit into that community, but reading the stories gave me a real insight into some of the traditions (and sometimes issues) that come from their lives. Seeing the rebellion and the changes in the women was relatable even if you aren’t in that community. I think it approaches the themes in a mature fashion, and it’s easy to read, relate to and understand.

You’ll want to pick up this series if you like – comedy, a splash of romance, drama, women’s fiction, or general fiction. The stories are rather sweet and thoughtful, and won’t bring your day down at all. I highly recommend it, and it is a definite must read in my mind!

Five out of five stars! I will definitely be on the lookout for more books and pieces of work by Sandra C. Lopez in the future!

I received a free copy of this book from the author Sandra C. Lopez in exchange for an honest review.

 

Check out this book on:

Goodreads – Single Chicas

Amazon.com – Single Chicas

Amazon.ca – Single Chicas

Check out Sandra C. Lopez on:

Goodreads – Sandra C. Lopez

Sandra-Lopez.com

 

Comment below – have you read this book yet? Do you plan too?
And give me a shout out on Twitter if you read this post! #BriarsReviews @ReviewAlholic

#BookReview Filthy Wicked Love by Lili Valente

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Filthy Wicked Love by Lili Valente is one steamy, super sexy, hotter than the summer read!

I read this book because it was in “A Love Thing” anthology that is full of super, uber sexy books! I wasn’t sure what to expect because the synopsis didn’t pull me in – but oh my gosh does Lili Valente’s writing! The story itself is a million times better than the synopsis! It’s full of really hot, steamy sex scenes that give it crazy erotica tones, and there’s a splash of action and adventure. Throw in a mob boss, a cute little kid, and some epic love triangle drama and you’ve got this book!

Clay and Harley are super sexy together, but clearly have some issues they will need to resolve. They battle each other constantly, yet can barely keep their hands off each other. Oh, and did I mention they have a child named Jasper that Clay hasn’t met? What a storyline! It’s like a soap opera on steroids!

The book will keep you addicted at every turn, and it felt like a pure adrenaline rush of insanity!

I read this book without reading the first in the series, and it was easy to get into. Normally, I prefer reading a book series in order but since this book was in the anthology and I wanted to finish the entire anthology, I dove right into book two (a.k.a this book!). Lili catches you up on everything you need to know, but it might make a teeny, tiny bit more sense if you read the first book. But remember, it’s a series and at this point in time has four books in it – so the story is not closing at this chapter.

The sex scenes in this book are really hot (I mean, the author WARNS you about it, but most of the time we all just disregard those warnings…). This pair was made for each other in ways I cannot explain. It’s definitely a hard R for the sex scenes, so if you’re not prepared for some really intense and descriptive scenes, don’t pick up this book!

Normally, I’m not into this kind of book but Lili made it work for me! It wasn’t so reluctant between the pair that I was put off, it seemed more playful. Both participants were into the playtime they had together, but never was there a time where it seemed to push the limits. The playfulness is what made this book so good in that category.

If I had any con for this book, it’s the cliffhanger! Now I desperately need to get myself a copy of the next book because it left me hanging and wanting more! Seriously, this book is a fun ride. You might not enjoy it if you don’t like some hardcore erotica or some almost non-consensual relationships though. If you’re cool with those two defining features of this book, read away and enjoy the passion and pleasure these two characters bring!

Overall, I liked this book! I’d like to pick up the rest of the series and more books by Lili in the future! She clearly has a talent for this kind of writing and really draws you in with these out of the box characters!

Four out of five stars!

 

 

Check out this book on:

Goodreads – Goodreads – Filthy Wicked Love

Amazon.com – Amazon.com – Filthy Wicked Love

Amazon.ca – Amazon.ca – Filthy Wicked Love

Find out more about Lili Valente on her website: http://www.lilivalente.com/

Or give us both a shout out on Twitter! @Lili_Valente_Ro & @ReviewAlholic

 

Did you enjoy this review? Check out another review you might enjoy! #BookReview Mastering Her Senses by Laura Kaye

#BookReview Undeniable by Liz Bankes

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Undeniable by Liz Bankes was an interesting novel that seemed to be aimed towards the Young Adult audience.

This book was nothing special for me. I was left feeling rather lost and upset that this book wasn’t as good as the synopsis had implied. The plot was well thought out and it could have been a fantastic novel, but the writing style was not my cup of tea.

The writing style seemed to be aimed towards a pre-teen audience while the subject matter seemed to be aimed towards a Young Adult audience. This left me feeling rather confused while reading the book. The maturity of a Young Adult novels words was not there, and the subject matter just didn’t match the writing style. Discussing sex while speaking in a pre-teen tone seemed extremely strange and I felt very off reading it. The steamier parts of the novel made me feel even worse, since the writing style did not match the subject matter.

Overall, the plot was fantastic and the author had a great idea of where to go, but the writing style just didn’t match the content of the novel. I did enjoy this book, but it wasn’t what I had hoped it to be. The author is fantastic, and I don’t want this review to let her down. She is incredible at writing! Her ideas were great and her writing was great, they just didn’t match in this novel.

Perhaps someone just coming into the Young Adult scene from reading Pre-teen novels would enjoy this book. It seemed like it would be a good stepping stone from one genre to another.

Two out of five stars.

I received an ARC copy from Goodreads First Reads.

 

Have you received an ARC before? Comment below an ARC you’ve received or your dream ARC!

If you liked this review, check out this one too! #BookReview The Year After by Ashley Wagner

Go on twitter and use the hashtags #BriarsReviews and #Undeniable to start a conversation! @ReviewAlholic

#BookReview Marianne by Ruth Miranda

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This book starts off with a BANG!

Seriously, I couldn’t believe that the book just jumped into the action, like some epic movie sequel! I loved this sweet surprise, since it’s a major change from the books I have been reading lately.

Ruth Miranda, the fantastic author, opens up the realm of fantasy even further in this book. The slow unraveling of this fantastical universe seemed to work really well within the story. I don’t think I would have liked this series as much if she would have thrown all of the elements at us at once. The way she gives us the secrets to this world piece by piece felt… flawless. Each little piece of information that was released made the story slowly fall into place, and gave some awesome added effects. The information about Nora was what really had me in awe – Ruth knows how to tell a great tale.

If there was a con to this point, I’d say that it sometimes felt like those super villain monologues when all of the information was being released. But, for me, it still worked well. I liked the long descriptions.

When looking at the overall book, it’s definitely the darkest of the three. As a reader, if you felt that the last two pushed the limits, then this book might not be for you. It’s past the PG-13 rating for some of it’s deep content, such as the rape scene. So in my mind, it’s a hard R rating. This scene is brutal, but shows some deep insights into the character it’s following. The plot line gets crazier as it goes on, which boggled my mind. The insanity Ruth introduces to the back stories of these characters… One word: WOW. Just… Wow. A good wow, of course!

As the book progressed, I really liked the depth of Marianne and Marcus’s relationship. It’s a unique dynamic, but it held me tight to this book. I wanted to know more about this pair, and I was so tempted to skip to the pages that they were on! If anybody stood out in this novel, it’s that pair! At times you feel bad for them, and then you hate them, but then you feel empathetic… This roller coaster of emotions is from Ruth’s epic writing. Seriously, I haven’t felt this exhausted from my emotions about a book in a LONG time.

In some weird way, I could relate and emphasize with Marianne. The humiliation, the desire to fit in or be loved by someone, and her emotions being painted on the page all hit me in just the right way. I felt like I’ve been there before, in different ways. And, in my opinion, I think this is where the book is really going to draw it’s audience. I don’t often feel and relate to characters in books like this, but with Marianne… There’s something there.

Nora and Cai’s side of the story is also intriguing – the characters are changing throughout the story as they try to find Marcus. While Marcus and Marianne stood out, the journey Nora and Cai go on is a nice parallel. It brings us away from the brutality of Marcus/Marianne, which is much needed in this story. The romance, the drama and the beauty of their story is the perfect mirror! Kudos to Ruth for making this parallel so good!

Overall, this addicting story of pain and growth is mesmerizing! This series is definitely a must read if you want something darker and fantastical. I’d highly recommend it! It’s hard to find a dark series that takes on so many tough topics, and comes out on top!

There is one big con for me, and Ruth said it herself – I wanted to throw this book at the wall when I was done with it. But I was reading it on my iPad, and that is too expensive to throw. So, I didn’t throw the book at the wall, but I would have liked to.

Five out of five stars! Wowza!

I received this book for free from the author Ruth Miranda in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

Check out Ruth Miranda on Goodreads

 

Find the first book in this series, Blood, on:

Goodreads – Goodreads – Blood

Amazon.com – Amazon.com – Blood

Amazon.ca – Amazon.ca – Blood

Find the 2nd book, Scars, on:

Goodreads – Goodreads – Scars

Amazon.com – Amazon.com – Scars

Amazon.ca – Amazon.ca – Scars

Find more books by Ruth Miranda on Amazon:

Amazon.com – Ruth Miranda

Amazon.com – A Study for Love / Amazon.ca – A Study for Love

 

If you read this review, give me a shout out on Twitter! @reviewalholic