#BookReview Under The Visible Life by Kim Echlin

Under The Visible Life is a moving story by Kim Echlin that will knock your socks off!

To be blunt and up-front, this book was not the book for me. That being said, it was a truly mesmerizing story! It was very hard for me to get into this book but it was still beautiful nonetheless. I want to say that upfront since my rating is based off my opinion of the book (and I wasn’t pulled into the book) but the story is still a worthwhile read! I am sure many other readers will be able to connect with this story and fall in love with it in ways that I couldn’t. Kim Echlin is amazingly talented and I highly suggest this novel.

I did love that this story revolved around women and their realistic lives. The book didn’t feel over the top. It felt honest and real in ways that other books haven’t lately. I think this is how the book will sit well with people. Somehow, this story felt like I could have been hearing or reading a non-fiction novel. The struggles felt real and the characters felt like I could have walked by them on the street. Kim Echlin deserves a lot of recognition for just being able to do that in one book. It’s mind-blowing!

So, why was this book not for me? I found it really hard to sink into. I had to force myself to read each chapter and it felt way too slow. I like a fast paced book that gets me hooked, and this book is not that. It’s raw, real and slower paced. The book isn’t boring by any means, it just wasn’t made for me (which is a good thing!). As a reader, sometimes you have to admit that you won’t love ALL books. But that’s art! I can still appreciate how absolutely stunning this book was. And I will highly recommend it every single day because this book is definitely made for other readers!

I will say my favourite part about this book: it has a lot of culture. It will open you up to worlds you may not have known about before (Afghan culture, for example). Books that include other cultures (in a respectful manner, on top of just including them) are books that need to be read! So, I will shout from the hill tops that this book needs to be read! I liked reading about a culture that is not my own.

Three out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

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Goodreads

Amazon.com

Amazon.ca

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#BookReview The Water War by Kevin Miller

The Water War is an absolutely brilliant addition to the Milligan Creek series by Kevin Miller!

Can I just say, I am oh so frustrated with this series! Why did it have to come out when I was an adult?! I would have ate this book up as a child! This is the most fun I’ve had in a long time reading a book, and I truly mean that. It’s the type of book I needed as a kid – dosed in reality yet so full of hilarity!

This time around, the boys of Milligan Creek have a brand new resident to deal with – Fiona Pickleberrybush. Everyone loves this girl – she’s pretty and lounges around the pool all day with her sunglasses on. With everyone falling at her feet, Matt knows something is up and he wants his life back to normal. To try to get attention away from this girl and have a fun summer, the boys decide to play Assassin – a giant game of tag with water guns where you hit your intended target with water. Those who have their target hit are out of the game! The prize is determined to be a date with Fiona or Matt (or not Matt, in case you are wondering). And with that, the games are off!

This story is packed with relatable characters that feel real. These kids seem like they fit right in with my childhood and Kevin does a great job of developing them over the books. Matt’s character development is definitely the focus of this book, and boy does Kevin do it justice! Seeing Matt change over the book and the surprise ending, well, it impressed me!

Each kid in this story has their own personalities and quirks that make them feel like real kids. They are intelligent, resourceful, hilarious and written beautifully. Some of the quirks are more interesting than others, like the kids who like to “Moo”, but they still feel like real children and speak like children. One of my biggest pet peeves of children’s books is when the kids talk like adults. Yet, these kids feel like kids! Kevin knows how to make these characters and build them up over time.

I think this is a great quality series (from a Canadian author!) that should be read to all children! Put this book in school libraries, use it for reading buddies, use it for library events and spread the word around! There are few books out there that have so much fun packed into one little book AND have a great theme.

This book focuses on accepting others despite their differences, and that is a really big issue in today’s society. Having Kevin include that theme in a book like this makes me have a lot of faith for the next generations. If you haven’t read the first two in this series, I highly recommend it! You could easily pick this book up without reading the past two, but why would you?! This series just keeps getting better with each novel that introduced.

I 100% recommend this book to anyone looking for a lighthearted, fun, and inspirational read for themselves or their kids. Books like this show how powerful literature truly is. Unique stories like this are one of the reasons I love reviewing books!

Five out of five stars.

I received a free copy of this book from the author Kevin Miller in exchange for an honest review.

 

You can purchase this book on:

Amazon.ca

Amazon.com

Find the other books in this series on:

Up The Creek (Book #1) on Indigo

Up The Creek (Book #1) on Amazon.ca

Up The Creek (Book #1) Amazon.com

Unlimited (Book #2) on Indigo

Unlimited (Book #2) on Amazon.ca

Unlimited (Book #2) on Amazon.com

These books are available with the Amazon Prime program too, at the time of writing this blog.

Check out my review of Unlimited: #BookReview Unlimited by Kevin Miller

Or find 10 more books I loved just as much as this book! Collection 1: #TopTens – Children’s Fiction Part 1

Check out Kevin on his website: http://www.kevinmillerxi.com/

 

And give me a shout out on Twitter if you read this review! #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

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#BookReview The Road to Vermilion Lake by Vic Cavalli

The Road to Vermilion Lake by Vic Cavalli is an interesting niche novel that felt like a character study.

If I had to describe this book in one word, I would choose: niche. This book isn’t some hard hitting Star Wars novel or Notebook styled novel, it is truly in it’s own little world. For some people, this book will be incredibly hard to put down and it will be your binge-worthy novel but for others it just won’t sit as well. For me, it wasn’t as binge worthy as it was for other reviewers (seriously, some reviewers seem to be devouring this book and loving every second of it!).

I did love that this was a Canadian author because I absolutely love supporting my home country, but this book just wasn’t made for me. And, that isn’t a bad thing! There are people out there who will love this book so much more than me!

So why wasn’t it for me? For one, the book felt very slow and the conversation between characters was way to formal. I didn’t feel like people actually talk the way the characters do. It was so oddly structured and oh so formal that it was hard to feel for these characters. I just couldn’t connect with these people because they didn’t feel real to me. Maybe it’s because I’m from an odd, small town that isn’t really comparable to any other city I’ve ever been in! I did really appreciate the descriptive writing of the setting and Tom’s job, but the dialogue just didn’t connect with me.

I also didn’t like the female characters in any capacity. Johnny was this really unique character, but I’ve never met anyone like her. That being said, the fact that Johnny is so out there and unique is a good thing! Unfortunately for me, I need to connect with characters to be able to be whisked into the story. Johnny and Sally are religious and do not wish to sleep with anyone until they are married. Okay, cool, that’s normal! But announcing that the first time you meet a guy? Having this strong “love at first sight” feeling and announcing a potential marriage and children? It just didn’t seem real to me. I think this made her to be a truly interesting character to follow but she felt foreign. It was like I was watching a character in the Handmaid’s Tale television show – it feels so close to being real but wasn’t.

That negative for me can be a true positive though – this book is set in a realistic story with unique characters. Seeing them interact with each other and the surroundings was a fun character study. I think that’s where readers are going to get the most out of this book. It’s so different that it can be so good!

The biggest positive for me was seeing these characters grow. Dave, Tom, Johnny and Sally all change over time as you learn about their past and their present. Heartbreaks, happiness and tragedy can all be followed which is absolutely lovely. I like seeing characters grow and develop in books, and it’s nice to see Vic write that so effortlessly. The growth didn’t feel forced – it felt natural.

Overall, I think this story it cool. Vic Cavalli has crafted a really interesting story that will take you to a whole new world (within the one we’re already in).

Three out of five stars!

I received this book for free from the author Vic Cavalli in exchange for an honest review.

 

You can find this book on:
Amazon.ca

Barnes & Nobles

Chapters/Coles/Indigo

Amazon.com

 

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#BookReview Life of Pi by Yann Martel

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I have been yearning to read this book for a long time. Everyone I spoke to was obsessed with this book to the n-th degree, so I figured I might feel the same way once I read it.

I was highly mistaken.

I found this book to be slow moving and boring, even though it is well written. This book was just not for me (which happens, by the way. Not every reader has to like every book ever written). That being said, I still wanted to give it a quality review. For me, the stars are low – but keep in mind this book is still excellent and the idea was intriguing.

To keep the plot short: A boy is trapped on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger after his family was trying to move their zoo animals across the sea. Tragedy strikes, and now Pi (our lead) is stuck with Richard Parker (our cat).

I found that this story went in many different directions. At first, this story seemed to be all about animals and how Pi’s father ran a zoo. I thought there might be more information in regards to him opening a zoo in the future, or having some great story arc involving it. Unfortunately, this didn’t go very far. It seemed to just be an introduction into the character rather than making it an integral part of the story (except for the animals on the lifeboat, of course). Then religion is thrown into the mix!! Pi enjoys practicing three different religions and this causes strife with his family, and then the plot point is essentially gone. There could have been lots of room for improvement in this discussion further along in the book, but all we get is that Pi is “praying” a lot. To me, having all of these opportunities to follow through with these plot lines was a bit of a waste. Why just have these points as an intro to the character? Why not use them to your advantage?

I also found this book to be SO FREAKING SLOW AND BORING. It’s inspirational, but when it’s close to two hundred pages of “stuck on a boat, send help, I am praying, there’s a tiger, i need to drink water” over and over, it gets a little tiring.

When I look at other reviews and theories about this book, I understand the theme is about religion. You can pick your story to follow God – just like picking apart this book. There’s multiple stories to follow, and you can pick the one you like. I don’t know how I feel about this theme and the way it is presented, but it worked.

This book also has some gore in it, so if you don’t want to read about an animal being ripped apart in description then this book might not be for you!!

Pros:
1. The chapters are short – I like when books don’t make long chapters. Having a chapter that lasts one hundred pages tires me out. Having the opportunity to stop where I want to with a small chapter is a nice quality about this book.

2. The cover – The cover is absolutely gorgeous. It’s simple, it’s colourful and it gets to the point. I appreciate a well thought out cover.

3. Beautiful language – Yann Martel can present a scene well with his words. There are some moments in this book where I got lost in his choice of words.

Cons:

1. Slow and Steady doesn’t always win the race.

2. Religion. This seems like a bad place to put it, but I know many people who would lose their minds having religion be a theme in the book (some would have it as an AMAZING PRO). That being said, I’m putting it in cons because of the strife it may cause some readers. There’s also times I think that religion was mentioned to much, like the author was trying to hit us over the head with it. Just because you leave religion out for one page doesn’t mean we’ll forget about it!

3. The story drags with the same thoughts and concepts.

Overall, this book was not my cup of tea. It is beautifully written and was a unique take on religion I hadn’t seen before. I had high hopes and expectations for this book, but it didn’t bode well for me. I blame a lot of the really great reviews and everyone saying it was the best book ever to make me have such high expectations, but putting the blame on them really won’t get me anywhere, will it?

Two out of five stars.

 

Did you enjoy this review? Why not check out another you might enjoy? #BookReview Hope Has Two Daughters by Monia Mazigh

Check out Yann Martel on twitter! @WriterYann

Give me a shoutout on twitter! @ReviewAlholic

 

#BookReview Vi by Kim Thúy

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Kim Thúy’s beautiful short story, Vi, is a must read for fiction lovers!

I won’t lie, the fact that this book is so short was what drew me to it. I needed a quick read to keep me occupied while I was in a waiting room and this book was short enough to devour in one sitting. While this book might lack in quantity, it hits a real punch on the quality. I’m honestly surprised Kim is not a bigger author, because this book was mind-blowingly awesome. And yes, I am making mind-blowingly a word.

The cultural impact is probably the best part of this novel. Often, you can see silly cultural stereotypes in novels but this one did it right. You could tell Kim knew what she was talking about with the depth and nature of her words. It didn’t feel cheap or obnoxious, it felt oddly satisfying to read about another culture that was not my own. Watching Vi’s story take place over these pages was a fantastic adventure, since Kim wove her words so beautifully and made this story dance in my mind. I absolutely loved it!

I would have liked a better ending, I found it kind of “blah” compared to the rest of the novel. This book had me hooked and obsessed with Vi’s journey and then the end just fell…well, flat. I would have liked something more. That was my only real issue with this novel. It is a translation (and my copy was an ARC) so there were some weird sentences with the translation but that wasn’t a con for me. I moved passed those issues really easily when reading it.

Overall, this charming read is a great option if you want a story that will move you and impact your understanding of culture. I 100% recommend this book!

Four out of five stars.

I received an ARC of this book through Goodreads First Reads.

 

If you read this review, use the hashtags #BriarsReviews & #Vi on twitter! @ReviewAlholic

Check out Kim Thúy on Goodreads! https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3152466.Kim_Th_y

If you enjoyed this review, check out another you might enjoy! #BookReview A Long Way Back by J. Everett Prewitt

Comment below with your most recent read!

#BookReview The Charming Predator by Lee MacKenzie

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The Charming Predator is an addicting read for anyone who loves true crime.

Lately I have been in a reading slump (probably from all of those school textbooks I’m devouring…) and most of the books I should love I haven’t been able to connect with. Buuuuut, this book instantly hooked me during this time and appeared to be exactly what I needed.

This book is intriguing because it’s supposed to be “real” (I say supposed to because Lee MacKenzie apparently has numerous pseudonyms). Kenner Jones did exist and there are numerous stories about how he scammed a ridiculous amount of people (including his wife).

I find it an interesting phenomenon that this happens to people. It seems so out of the ordinary and soap opera like, yet I’ve met many people who trick and manipulate anyone they can. Reading it, I found I could see “signs”, but that’s with me knowing the end of this story – I know he’s going to manipulate her, it’s almost like a bad movie you have seen over and over. “Don’t go through that door” or “Don’t talk to that person” and so on…

I have so much respect for this woman, because this was truly one of the worst moments (or say…years?) of her life. Writing a book like this takes courage, and my goodness is it a good book. I find it well written, easy to read and one of the better true crime, life story novels I have read in a while.

This book gets 5 out of 5 stars for sure.

I got this book through a charity that asks for donations to local community charities in return for previous read ARC copies – so my copy was an ARC.

Did you enjoy this book? Why not check out another? Book Review: From Wedding to Funeral: Spouses who Murder by Mindy M. Shelton

#BookReview Hope Has Two Daughters by Monia Mazigh

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Hope Has Two Daughters by Monia Mazigh is a beautifully written historical fiction.

This novel is set in Tunisia and follows Nadia and her daughter Lila – these two women’s stories are intertwined over generations (1980s and 2010s) that will leave you feeling breathless. Riots, studying Arabic, family tensions and drama all drive this story forward by the beautiful story telling from Monia Mazigh.

This novel shows the evolving stories of the two women, and how they aren’t so different. Despite being apart of different times, the themes in their lives remain the same. This story shows you hope and survival in different times of struggle, and can be very motivational if you read it under the right context. While this book may not be a non-fiction novel, it almost feels so real with Monia’s descriptive and realistic writing.

This isn’t the best book I’ve ever read, but it was a good read. While it may not be a five star book in my eyes, seeing how much potential this author has makes the book worth it. Yes, it’s not super fast moving. And of course, there is room to grow within the story (some plot lines could have been left out, there could have been more description in certain areas) but it still makes for a great read. It’s not a book I would leave out of conversations – it is a recommended read from my end. That being said, Monia Mazigh has room to grow as an author, and I’m sure the next book will be even better than this one (no matter what she chooses to write, whether it be a continuation/similar story or a completely different one). If her next novels feel as personal and touching as this one, I’m sure they will be fantastic.

Three out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

 

Check out Monia Mazigh on Goodreads: Monia Mazigh on Goodreads

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