#BookReview Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

 

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren felt like a book personally made for me.

This novel following Hope Jahren’s life and trials of becoming a geobiologist is a serious gem for my collection. Every sentence of this novel felt like it was crafted for me – it a smart, female scientist rocking out in her field. She wins awards, she builds laboratories and she is a genius in her field. How can I not love this book?! On top of it all, it’s a non-fiction novel which is not my normal read, yet I was SO OBSESSED WITH THIS BOOK. All caps. Yes, I was that obsessed.

So, down to the nitty gritty: This biography is not all sunshine and roses. Along the way, Hope deals with all sorts of trials and craziness. We follow her as a lab tech in a hospital, as a scientist trying to get grants, and as a friend to Bill and mother. Mixed in with her personal story is loads of facts about trees and nature. There are entire chapters devoted to the complexity of how trees work and live, which was one of the coolest parts of the books for me. I wish Hope had taught my high school biology classes, because for once I actually felt like I understood what trees go through. Everything was relatable, and there were lots of metaphors.

The best part of this whole book was the comedy. Our author clearly has a fantastic sense of humor, which involves a LOT of sarcasm. I am incredibly sarcastic so I loved every second of every snarky comment. I felt so connected to Hope, because I could relate. That’s where I think this book really shines! Very few books connect with me on a such a personal level, so I loved every second of reading this book. I didn’t want to put it down and I wanted to read it again (which is very rare for me, by the way).

I believe there is something in this book for everyone: science, sarcasm, an incredible friendship between Hope and Bill, the trials and errors of being a mother, and mental health.

And, to be brutally honest, I don’t really have any negatives to say. It was the perfect book for me in every way. Other readers will have their doubts, but I connected with this book so strongly that I can’t see faults. Every reader wants a book like that, and I’m glad I found mine. Thank you Hope for sharing your wonderful story.

Five out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

BONUS: Some of my fave quotes included below:
“Fortunately, for the patient, there is a sleep-starved teenager apprenticed to a chain-smoking barmaid in the basement who is ready for action.”
“Working in the hospital teachers you that there are only two kinds of people in the world: the sick and the not sick. If you are not sick, shut up and help.”

That second quote has been my life motto for years, so hear someone as dedicated as Hope to say it… Yes, my heart has swelled up so much!

Check this book out on:

Goodreads
Amazon.com
Amazon.ca
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
Indigo/Chapters/Coles – Canadian Retailer

 

If you enjoyed this book or review, check out another you might love:
#BookReview Life Seemed Good, But… by Richard Bell
Book Review: Ugly by Robert Hoge
Quick Book Review: Dora Versus Picasso by Cecil Jenkins

 

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#BookReview Fire Sermon by Jamie Quatro

This book was my best surprise of the year. To be honest, I just picked up a random book from my shelf. I decided that I would just take a very un-calculated risk and pick up whatever book my eyes went to – and this book was it.

Fire Sermon is an incredible novel following the journey of a religious woman who begins to have an affair on her husband. The narrative is not your typical romance novel, it’s truly a dramatic unfolding of the character. I loved this character study and how beautifully Jamie Quatro could write out this woman’s feelings and experiences. Seriously, it blew me out of the water. I truly did not expect this book to be half as good as it was.

Jamie Quatro has a beautiful writing style, full of metaphors and truly engaging descriptions. This book could have been a real flop because of the subject matter, but it had me hooked at every single word. There isn’t one thing I would change about this book because it truly was just mesmerizing. I highly recommend it! I’m almost frustrated that I didn’t read it sooner! This is one incredible, lovely and amazing piece of literature that I think anyone who loves drama and riveting reads should pick up.

Maggie has a ‘romantic’ relationship with her husband, but begins to fall in love with an intellectual poet. She’s cheating on her husband, but doesn’t know how to deal with it. The sex with her husband isn’t all that great and it hurts, but she feels like she owes him his pleasure. The more she engages in infidelity, the more she questions herself. Can someone truly fall out of love or change their feelings about someone? Will God understand what she has done?

Even if you’re not religious, I think this book is an excellent view into one woman’s perspective. Yes, it’s fiction but it does really open your eyes to another world. The struggles and changes in a woman’s life can be more troublesome than one thinks and I loved that Jamie opened us into Maggie’s world. The story is absolutely breathtaking.

Five out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

Check out this book on:

Goodreads

Amazon.com

Amazon.ca

Kobo

 

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

And like me on Facebook for more urgent updates! @BriarsReviews on Facebook

Or follow my on Goodreads: Briar’s Reviews on Goodreads

 

Check out another book you might enjoy: #BookReview Sons of York by Lesley J Nickell

 

#BookReview The Mega Collection by Scott Gordon – Nine Awesome Bedtime Stories!

Here’s a collection of my reviews for Scott Gordon’s books! The specific book I read was called the Mega Collection #1 – Nine Awesome Bedtime Stories for Children 3-5, and boy was it worth every second! If you’re looking for some fun and friendly stories, I’d recommend picking this book up!

Now onto the show!!

Pigtastic by Scott Gordon

Pigtastic by Scott Gordon is a super fun, super cute, children’s novel!

I absolutely love the 3D design of our lead character, the pig! He looks super cute! Add in the wonderful story about accepting people and you’ve got yourself a winning combination! Scott Gordon and his unique style makes me want to shout from the hills about how awesome these books are. Seriously, I’d recommend reading them to your kids if you are looking for something a little different yet still just as fun.

I really loved all of the Pig’s different costumes. That was a really nice touch to make this book cool! The England costume was definitely my favourite one!

Who doesn’t want to be Pigtastic?! We all have to be ourselves in this absolutely crazy world! If we all have hearts of gold, we’ll be Pigtastic!

Overall, it’s super cute and worth every penny!! The 3-5 age group will definitely love this book and all of it’s silliness!

Five out of five stars.

My Little Pet Dragon by Scott Gordon

My Little Pet Dragon is a unique children’s read full of fantastical fun!

I really liked the cover page with the CD art of the dragon on a skateboard. To me, that really stood out compared to other children’s books I’ve seen around recently. The entire book is continues to pack each page full of the awesome 3D art that’s on the cover.

Each page has just a few words on it and a 3D picture that matches the plot that’s carrying on.

I’d say the general age group for this book would be between 2 to 9 years old. The story is rather simplistic, but is extremely cute.

At the end of my copy, which was an eBook I found via BookBub, it has a story about how Scott got into writing. While I thought it was a touching story to include, I felt that it didn’t need to be in a children’s novel that a child might read themselves on a parent’s tablet or phone. As an adult I loved reading it, but it felt out of place (in my humble opinion). It is a motivational and inspirational set of words though!

The version I was reading also included lots of sneak peaks at his other books! While it does a great job advertising these books, it didn’t feel right sitting in a book that a child could be reading. You’re introducing them to a couple chapters and then they can’t necessarily finish it. As someone who has studied marketing, I understand the need to market and advertise your books, but it just didn’t mesh well with the way this book was set up. Maybe put sneak peaks as links at the end or on your website? Not in the book that ends up taking WAY more pages than the story itself.

The final bit (I promise!)… It asks to support the author on Patreon. Again, I totally understand the need to support artists and writers, but it felt out of place.

Overall, this book was really cute and I’d love to read more by Scott Gordon! I think he has lots of potential and he appears to have quite the catalogue!!

Four out of five stars!

Ninja Robot Repairmen by Scott Gordon

This story is full of pushy, robot repairmen! It’s a unique and silly story that is full of laughs for your 3 to 5 year olds.

Scott’s unique style of 3D designs on a white background continues with this book. His style seems to be ingrained in all of his work.

They cause quite the nuisance for our unknown lead! I could see this book being best used as a reading buddy story. It would be a great way to get kids to laugh and get to know each other. In this story, ‘No’ is not an answer no matter what! Even the bad guys at the end were quite amusing!

This story felt more like a fun one than one that will teach you an important lesson. Regardless, I love having a good story full of goofiness around on my shelves!

Three out of five stars!

A Pocketful of Dinosaurs by Scott Gordon

This book was styled a little different at the start! There were actual cartoon pictures! I liked the change from the 3D, computer animated style that is featured in almost every other Scott Gordon book. Change can be good!

Seeing the names of the dinosaurs and the pronunciations was fun! I wish I would have had a book like that when I was growing up and learning about dinosaurs in science class! I think little kids who love dinosaurs would be totally obsessed with this book! The only downfall about this book, is that I don’t think kids ages 3-5 would be able to pronounce some of the words or even the word segments. Hopefully they are able to read this book with a parent, guardian or reading buddy to make it more engaging!

I’m not sure how accurate this book is, but it was definitely cute!

This book also features links to dinosaur research websites and exhibits! That may or may not be a bonus for some people – I’m not going to test the links, so I’m not sure how safe they are. The PBS and wikipedia articles should be safe to visit.

Four out of five stars!

If I Were a Robot by Scott Gordon

If I were a robot…. I’d have enhanced reading abilities!

This book was cute, but was not my favourite of all of Scott Gordon’s books. But not all books can be the best, now can they?! I think it is another cute addiction and full of wacky, fun and zaney ideas but it just wasn’t my favourite. Kids who love science, technology and robots would kill for this book!! I think it’s great that Scott has such a unique library of stories! Every kid should love at least one of his stories! He doesn’t just stick to one genre and I applaud him for that.

Yet again, the 3D computer animated style is back, and the robot has cute costumes! The costumes are always my favourite part of his stories. His creativity with the costumes is just too good! AND THERE’s A LIGHTSABER! And maybe a deathstar?! The easter eggs in this book are definitely the best part!

Side note: There’s another uncanny valley creepy guy in this book. That drops me score down by quite a bit. No amount of Star Wars references can fix the creepy, uncanny valley men.

Two out of five stars.

My Crazy Pet Frog by Scott Gordon

The lead of this story looks so… weird. Weird yet interesting all at the same time! I’m not quite sure what to think of it. Even when he starts doing different activities, it’s like he is staring into my soul. That uncanny valley feeling is amped up a bit in this book. And… a rubber ducky normally looks like a duck and not like an inflatable you wear around your waist.

But hey, it turns out the uncanny frog is a secret agent. That’s cool… right?! And he dances like he’s a fan of the Bee Gees!

The end of this book is what really gets me… he has a family who’d like him to come home and just hang out instead of being all of these crazy careers. It felt slightly depressing, yet kids wouldn’t see that. Only the parents.

It was one of the shorter books, but it was one of the weirder books. I think it’s cool but… odd. Let’s go with odd. It honestly felt like the author was picking up story ideas from a hat and mashed them all together.

Two out of five stars.

My Daddy’s Cool Car Collection by Scott Gordon

This book is all about cars! There are a variety of vehicles featured in this book, and my wonder is how the Dad afforded all of these cars! A limo, a semi-truck, a Volkswagen! The antique cars were definitely my fave! And what type of car book would this be without some sports cars in the mix?!

Some of the cars looked more realistic than the others. A group of them appeared to be quite cartoony, some appeared to be tilted on a strange angle and others looked like they had a professional photographer put them in the book.

Little kids interested in cars would totally dig this book! Scott does a great job at having a library full of different genres of kids books to let everyone in on the reading action!

While this wasn’t my favourite book, I still think it’s mighty cute! At the end there is a little lesson about spending time with your kids instead of buying cars, but it felt just thrown in. As if there had to be some sort of really important message at the end… I would have preferred the message to be woven into the story somehow instead of forced in.

Three out of five stars.

A Little Book About You by Scott Gordon

The uncanny valley is strong in this book… I don’t know why, but the 3D animated people always creep me out Scott Gordon’s books. I’m sure kids wouldn’t notice, but as an adult I’m just weirded out. That shouldn’t let the story down though!

This book is all about the reader being special and one of a kind. It’s a great message that is told right off the bat! This message is told through a variety of characters holding signs and objects, for reasons unknown. The story itself is great, but I don’t totally get the illustrations.

Overall, it’s cute!

Four out of five stars!

Additionally, this book has a lot of BONUS content!
Some chapters to Disco Frog’s new story, a puzzle, and lots of synopsis of Scott Gordon’s books.

 

Average: 3.3 out of 5 stars!

 

If you enjoyed this book, check out some more children’s books you’d like to read too!

#BookReview Snowman Paul Returns to the Winter Olympics by Yossi Lapid

#BookReview HughTube by Richard Clark

#BookReview Unlimited by Kevin Miller

Collection 1: #TopTens – Children’s Fiction Part 1

 

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

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#BookReview The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis

The Magician’s Nephew was an interesting read that didn’t grab my attention well.

I wanted to read this book because I am really interested in older stories. The Chronicles of Narnia was introduced to me through the films and ever since I have been dying to pick up these books. So, I decided to start in “reading” order (at least, that’s what my book said). This book is the prequel novel, but it barely grabbed my attention to pull me into the series.

I think this book would be an excellent read to anyone’s child. Someone with a lot of imagination, who is also reading out loud, might be able to make this story sound far more intriguing than how it sounded in my head. If it weren’t for the history behind this book, I probably would have put it down. The story is cool, and the writing style is obviously dated, but it just didn’t grab me like I hoped it would.

The book seems to be more of a children’s fiction novel – it’s full of wickedly evil characters that don’t have much personality (other than being evil), the main characters are young and pure of heart, and Aslan is just introduced and barely used in the story.

There are obvious themes in the story – the daughter of Eve, the son of Adam – but I feel like it goes over the reader’s heads (at least, it did for me the first time through). I would have rather read this as an English project with a teacher walking me through all the satirical aspects and amazing references that C.S. Lewis introduced into this story.

Overall, this book is truly memorizing but I wasn’t as impressed at it as I wanted.

Two out of five stars.

 

Did you enjoy this review? Check out another you might enjoy! #BookReview The Lost Treasure of Loma Grande by Richard Clark

 

Give me a shout out on Twitter @ReviewAlholic or on Facebook @BriarsReviews

#BookReview Peter Green and the Unliving Academy by Angelina Allsop

 

 

There are few books that lift up my mood (and out of my reading slump!) quite like this one did!

Peter Green and the Unliving Academy was an absolute delight of a book! Fantasy, friendship and fun is all wrapped up tight into this neat, little package. If you haven’t read this book yet, what in the world are you doing?!

As the title suggests, we follow Peter Green when he goes to an “Unliving” Academy. Our lead has died and is now in the afterlife, but if you thought school stops there then you’d be wrong! Peter meets a large array of wacky characters and goes on many mischievous adventures, including but not limited too battling a werewolf teacher, dealing with ghost security guards and trying to lift a curse from upon the school. And YOU thought high school was hard…

Peter also tries to learn about himself and his past life. He knows he remembers a family, but just can’t put his finger on it. Unfortunately, it’s against the rules to find out about your past before you graduate!

I REALLY REALLY REALLY liked this book. I can’t express in words how much fun I had along the way reading it! Just because this book says ‘Young Adult’ does not mean an adult could not enjoy it! To me, it felt like a Harry Potter and the Philosopher/Sorcerer’s Stone-esque book. I would have loved to read it to a reading buddy or as a fun classroom read. The book is relatable from all angles – finding out about yourself, dealing with life’s (or death’s…) difficulties and making the right but hard decision. The book was definitely written in a way that the adult reader could enjoy it along with their kids. Therefore, it’s a family friendly book!

What were my downsides about this book?
1. Some of the plotlines could have been pushed to the second book, but it didn’t affect me all that much. I hope they are continued into the sequel because that would make those tiny, barely there plotlines make SO MUCH MORE sense.

2. Like other reviews have suggested, there were some minor grammar and spelling errors. I don’t really care, but I’m sure someone does. It didn’t pull me away from the story at all.

3. THE BOOK ENDED AND I DON’T HAVE THE SEQUEL IN MY HANDS. Yep, that’s a major downside. I got into this book and then it ended. I want moooooore!

Overall, this is a great middle-grade read! I’d highly suggest it for a fun, fantasy book to devour as soon as possible! If you liked the first two Harry Potter books then you’ll love this one! There was lots of world building and fun stories that built in this book. I truly hope a sequel comes out and more people read this book. I haven’t had this much fun in a book for a while!

Five out of five stars!

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher TCK Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

 

Check out the following links:

Purchase the book: http://geni.us/petergreenbook1m
Check out the publisher, TCK Publishing: https://www.tckpublishing.com/
TCK Publishing’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tckpublishing/
Their Twitter: https://twitter.com/TCKPublishing

Find out more about the author on Goodreads! or Facebook or maybe even Twitter. She also has a website too!! https://www.aaallsopbooks.com/

This book can also be found on:

Amazon.ca

Amazon.com

Barnes & Nobles

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

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#BookReview Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

One of my New Years Resolutions was the read more “classics” this year, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was one of the first I was able to pick up. I was so lucky that I found this book at a local charity book sale! It was screaming my name the minute I saw it on the table and it’s been screaming my name while it’s been sitting on my bookshelf (well…desk. My bookshelves are rather full. I need to get reading faster and more to clear some room…).

I’ve seen both of the movies (Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp) so I knew what was coming. It was going to be a book full of shenanigans with some humor and lessons sprinkled throughout. And boy, did it not disappoint! I have to say, Roald Dahl is one amazing author and I really want to read more by him now. This classic is so full of childish nonsense and valuable lessons all at the same time. It’s mesmerizing what this man could do with his words.

The book has some deep, dark material that comes off as playful. Charlie and his family weren’t well off and Roald make that very, very clear. Yet the prose he puts this narrative in makes it seem… fun? Silly? I can’t even pick the right word. As an adult, I am in awe of how this family survived but I could easily see a child laughing their way through. A child would truly have no idea what the horror of starving is like, yet it is described so amazingly in this book…

Seriously, I’m in awe. I am in complete and utter awe over this man’s writing. He’s a literary genius, to say the least.

There are parts as an adult that I can pick apart, but I don’t think this book was intended to be some literary work that needs to be examined like Shakespeare. This book shows the good and the bad of being a kid – don’t be stubborn, don’t be a brat, don’t watch television all day, don’t go ahead without listening – stuff that we all learn as a kid. Charlie is the “perfect” child who listens and does what he is supposed to, and in the end he wins. Is this how life works? Nope. Is it still important to teach? Heck yes!

Wonka is such a wild and interesting character too. He’s a very old adult but doesn’t act like it who employs Oompa Loompa and pays them in cacoa beans. He has a giant workshop but no workers and wants to give a child his only life’s work. Yes, that makes so much sense… Not. But it’s believable in this book, because he’s so wild and zany… I’d love to see a perfect adaption of this book – word for word, picture for picture, etc.

The language, dark humour and sarcasm in this book also make it absolutely hilarious. Snozzberries gets me every time! And Wonka’s absolutely amazing sarcasm against the children… Well, it’s mean but it’s funny. So funny. I found myself giggling at how ridiculous some of the comments were, yet I still loved it all the same.

Either way, this book is amazing! I wish I would have read it as a kid but reading it as an adult was so much funnier! Amazingly enough, this book only took me two days to finish.

Five out of five stars!

I need some more Roald Dahl in my life!

 

Find this book on:

Goodreads

Amazon.ca

Amazon.com

 

Check out some more reviews and books you might enjoy:

#BookReview Snowman Paul Returns to the Winter Olympics by Yossi Lapid

#BookReview HughTube by Richard Clark

#BookReview Unlimited by Kevin Miller

 

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

And like me on Facebook for more urgent updates! @BriarsReviews on Facebook

Or follow my on Goodreads: Briar’s Reviews on Goodreads

#BookReview Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

 

Crazy Rich Asians is a fun, comedic romance that opened my eyes to a whole new world!

Before anyone asks, yes, I read this book because I saw the movie and loved it. Was the movie identical to the book? No. Was it still super cute and a great adaption? Yes. So, now that we’re past the point that the movie introduced me to the book, onto my book review!

I found this book to be the perfect mix of romance, comedy and knowledge! I absolutely loved being introduced to a variety of Asian words and concepts in this book. There aren’t many books out there (that I have read, anyways) that make me feel like I’ve learned so much while having a good time!

The book did feel soap opera-y, but I loved every second of it! I’m at the point that I’m desperate for the sequel, and can’t wait to get my hands on it! The characters were interesting and all had crazy backgrounds, the drama was high, and the family values were intriguing.

I have no idea how honest/true the Asian side of the story is, but it did make me more interested in Asian cultures. I love when books can open your eyes to a world you haven’t thought about looking at before, so I give lots of praise to Kevin Kwan! Books like these truly deserve attention, because not only are they well written but they pull the minorities out of the background. Even if it’s not totally accurate, I’m sure at least a few more readers can appreciate the Asian culture!

This book could easily be binged (if you have time to read a 500+ page book). I seriously wanted to continue reading it, but I just didn’t have time! That being said, every chance I got I was instantly glued to the pages.

I loved Nick and Rachel, I loved Kerry, I loved Peik Lin, I loved Astrid and I loved every little description that Kevin Kwan had woven into this tale. I seriously felt for these characters all along the way (even the “bad guys”…sometimes…). I really hope the drama between certain characters (like Astrid’s story) are expanded in the next books, because they were all so interesting! There wasn’t enough pages to really see all of the characters! Luckily there are at least two more books to devour to learn a little bit more about my fave characters…

There are some cons about this book, but for me it wasn’t to hard to fly past them. The story jumps a lot between chapters (point of view, time changes, etc.). Also, some of the characters felt very… stereotypical (that’s the best word I have for them right now). Is that necessarily a bad thing? No. But many other reviewers are complaining about parts of this book. To me, I didn’t really care. It didn’t take away from the fun of the story.

Would I recommend this book to other readers? HECK YES! If you love romance, a splash of comedy, and Asian representation, then get on it! The movie just makes this book more in the spotlight, which should help it’s sales. The book is dramatic, but it’s a fun and wild ride!

Also, I loved the cover. It’s simplistic and yet perfectly summarizes the story in a weird way.

Five out of five stars!

 

Check out this book on:

Goodreads

Amazon.com

Amazon.ca

Kobo

Coles/Indigo/Chapters

Barnes & Noble

 

Find out more about the author, Kevin Kwan, on:

http://www.kevinkwanbooks.com/

Goodreads – Kevin Kwan

 

What else do you want to see on my blog? Let me know in the comments below, tweet me at @ReviewAlholic or tell me on Facebook!