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

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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

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#BookReview Back on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber

Back on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber is a lovely tale woven with friendship, romance and care!

I love to knit, even though I’m not very good at it, so a book like this is right up my alleyway! A knitting group, a flower shop, a love affair, a baby, a wedding and endless amounts of girl drama fill the pages of this book! Lydia, Colette and Alix are the three main leads, and wowza did Debbie do a good job making this story! I one hundred percent need to read the rest of this series – especially since I love Colette!

Debbie Macomber’s writing style is very lovely. It’s soft, sweet and easy to read. There are times where the plot took sudden turns that seemed out of character (someone magically being in love when before it seem a bit sinister…?), but she somehow makes it work and be believable. She writes a woman’s tale so easily, and makes it feel like they could be my friend, sister or mother. These women face real problems that many of my friends have faced themselves! This relatable factor makes this book so much better than I would have anticipated.

Despite being over four hundred pages, it truly didn’t feel that way. I was so connected to Alix and Colette’s story that I managed to binge this book in under two days. For me and my busy schedule, that’s quite the feat! But that just shows how great Debbie is at making an addicting story! I wouldn’t have been so interested in these characters and their stories if Debbie hadn’t done such an awesome job of writing the book.

I did have some “major” negatives about this book though:
1. I didn’t enjoy Lydia’s story because it does mirror some of my own past horrors and demons. Due to the loss of my Father, it was really hard to read her struggles with her Mother. Instead of pushing through it, I decided to lightly skim past that part. Should this affect other readers and their score against the book? Absolutely not! For me, it was just a little too hard to read, emotionally. It doesn’t affect my score at all, but I do have to admit I wasn’t as connected to her.
2. Christian just suddenly changed his mood. I would have liked to see a more gradual movement in his feelings, but the book is already over 400 pages long so I can understand why Debbie didn’t.

To list some of the amazing positives (that I haven’t already included):
1. The knitting quotes were fabulous! They really added a fantastic touch of personalism to the book.
2. The cover is gorgeous and colourful. If you’re going to judge a book by it’s cover, judge this book!
3. It was the perfect mix of contemporary, drama, women’s fiction and romance. I wouldn’t change a thing (minus some more Christian, of course).

Overall, this book was truly lovely! I’m glad I picked this book up years ago at a local department store! Although, I’m slightly upset it took me so long to read it! This book is a true gem that I’d recommend to ladies who love knitting, want a light, fluffy story or just want to dig into a sweet book!

Five out of five stars!

 

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Amazon.ca

If you enjoyed this book (or review!) check out another you might enjoy:
#BookReview Fire Sermon by Jamie Quatro
#BookReview Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
#BookReview Fly With Me by Hudson Lin

 

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#BookReview Dear Haiti, Love Alaine

I love exploring new cultures, so having the opportunity to pick up Dear Haiti, Love Alaine was absolutely thrilling for me!

This novel follows the lovely Alaine as she gets sent to Haiti to fulfill a school project. Along the way she helps out her Tati’s PATRON PAL app/company, meets a cute guy, learns who her real friends are, and deals with some large, life altering issues. Oh, and did I mention this book felt so darn real?!

It was a true gift to receive the opportunity to read this book. The authors make Alaine feel like a real person and present this book in a really unique matter. Emails, letters, postcards, diaries, text messages and so many different mediums of communication are present in this novel! All of these mediums make it so easy to jump in and out of the book and I felt like I lost nothing! It truly was a marvelous feat and it makes me want more from these lovely sisters and their writing abilities.

The big standout for this novel is Haiti. Obviously, it’s in the title, but Maika and Maritza make it feel like you’re there. The cultures and traditions are presented so beautifully and naturally. I didn’t feel like anything was forced, it felt so REAL. It’s hard sometimes – being a Canadian who has only visited the U.S.A and Canada because I don’t know what other places are like. Sometimes reading a book like this, you get caught up and wonder if the authors actually knew what they were talking about. But this book? It read so wonderfully and you could tell the authors weren’t just making up what they thought Haiti was like. I LOVE it when that happens.

The other lovely standouts of this book are:
1. Alaine’s sassiness is legit how I felt as a teenager. She did have some worrisome moments (like the reason she was sent to Haiti to begin with), but she had the teenage angst we all had back in the day. Other words you might use to describe her are: feisty, fierce, and fabulous! She’s such a strong lead and she has flaws which makes her more lovable. She’s no Mary Jane/Mary Sue!
2. Jason, Estelle, Roseline and our large assortment of characters didn’t feel like background characters. They were used effectively and written in a way that made them have a point to being there.
3. Alzheimer’s. Medical issues SUCK, but having a book that shows the good and the bad sides of these diseases is PERFECTION. This book wasn’t just ‘boo hoo Alzheimer’s’, it also showed the hope people can have.
4. The relationship between Alaine and her parents made me feel really connected to her. I had a parent that worked more than I wanted too and I am sad to say I lost a lot of time with them. Seeing that exact feeling put into a book (but have a more happy ending) made me have butterflies and feel really affectionate towards this novel. Maika and Martiza connected with teenage me SO HARD with this plot thread.
5. PATRON PAL. I’m always down for a plot line that brings up actual, real-life issues and presents them in a manner that makes sense. How can we help people? Make an app! Donate! Help people who need help! This book also presents helping poorer countries/nations in a really smart way – we want to provide them a sustainable way to pull themselves back up and take care of themselves, not just give them money forever and wish them luck. I’m glad they pointed that out in this book because it’s a REALLY important lesson for people to learn.

I would love to hear the thoughts of reviewers who are Haitian, Haitian-American or have lived in Haiti. I think this book is pretty darn swell, but my background isn’t of this culture. One thing that I hope comes out with this book is more people want to read about other cultures. Books like these make me want to know and learn more!

Do I have any negatives? Yes. I would have liked a couple of more chapters to see what happened after the project, but the book wasn’t set up that way. I really grew to love these characters and I wanted a little more time with them. Other than that, my negatives are non-existent. I think this book is unique, beautiful, and full of stories that need to be heard. I truly respect these authors and love that there are books like this out there. We need more authors and books like this.

Also, the cover? Oh-my-gosh it is stunning! Having a physical copy of this book in my house is a real gem for me! It’s eye popping and gets your attention but at the same time it’s really fabulous and subtle. I LOVE IT!

Five out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

Find out more about this book on:
Goodreads
http://www.maikaandmaritza.com/
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo
Barnes & Noble
Indigo (Canadian Retailer)

 

If you enjoyed this review (or book!) check out something else you might enjoy:
#BookReview The Rainbow Vintner by Geza Tatrallyay
#BookReview Peter Green and the Unliving Academy by Angelina Allsop
#BookReview Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

 

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#BookReview Matt, The Green Cat by Jenny Mitchell

I love cats, so this little picture book already had me interested when it presented me with a cute, little, itty, bitty, green kitty! Matt, our lead, was a ginger cat who accidentally got some green paint on him!

The plot of this book is really simple – we learn all about Matt the cat and his general day. The book is all about his life as an accidental green cat and how friendly and lovely everyone is. As it says at the end of the book, it’s a short story!

The cartoon style of this book was really lovely! I think it fit in wonderfully with the story and I loved looking at all of the pictures. The details were incredible, and yet just enough at the same time. There’s lots of animals and fun backgrounds to keep you occupied when you aren’t reading the words on the page. There’s just so much to look at!

If I had one con about this book it would be that it was hard to read on my device. Some of the pages looked like they would have been better suited for an actual two page spread on a physical copy rather than the electronic copy I got when I downloaded it.

Four out of five stars!

I found this book on Bookbub.

 

You can purchase this book on:
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com

 

If you enjoyed this review, check out some other books and reviews you might enjoy!
#BookReview Backyard Hullabaloo by Junia Wonders
#BookReview My Snowman, Paul by Yossi Lapid
Collection 1: #TopTens – Children’s Fiction Part 1

 

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#BookReview Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickam

Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickam is a seriously funny book that will take you on one wild adventure.

Books like these are always my favourites – they tell fun and inviting stories and welcome you into someone else’s world. I also identify as an ‘old soul’ so I get a real kick out of reading books about the past. This book, Carrying Albert Home, is about Homer’s parents taking a pet alligator back to Florida. Yes, you read that right, they are transporting an alligator. Along the way they get themselves in lots of trouble and difficult situations, all of which are hilarious!

This book did feel like it would fit into the niche market. It’s a fictional comedy based on true stories that weren’t exactly true… It’s so weird, but lovely. If you’re looking for a book that’s out of the ordinary, I think this book would be one excellent fit!

To be honest though… this book isn’t my type of novel. I did enjoy reading it as a change from my normal selection, but it just didn’t hit me as well as I wanted it to. The book is long and at times feels like too much. I had to put it down and pick it up a few times to really get through the story. It’s not boring and it’s written in a beautiful manner, it’s just not made for me as a reader. There will be readers out there who are dying to read this book, but it just isn’t my style. My rating for this book reflects the fact that it wasn’t a book for me. In reality, I think this book is a solid 4.0 for the average reader, but based on my rating score it’s a 2.

Overall, if I had to describe this book in a series of words they would be: quirky, spontaneous, eccentric, outlandish and zany.

2.0 out of 5.0 stars – it’s just not my type of book, but it is absolutely lovely and I highly recommend it.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

Check out this book on Goodreads.

If you enjoyed this book, check out another book or review you might enjoy!
#BookReview Unlimited by Kevin Miller
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To Wendy’s With Love: the 22-year Lunch by Diane Keyes- BOOK REVIEW
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#BookReview A Long, Hot Summer by Kathleen MacMahon

The Long, Hot Summer by Kathleen MacMahon is one of the loveliest books I’ve read this year.

Family drama, generations of Irish men & ladies, comedy, tragedy and character growth. What more could a girl ask for in novel? Not much else!!

I was truly surprised by how amazing this book was, considering it has so few reviews. It’s by far one of my favourite reads and it will sit high atop my shelves. Kathleen MacMahon has a beautiful sense of writing style and her prose is just magnificent. I can’t get enough of this book and I want more by her.

This story follows the MacEntees – an Irish family with four generations of men and women trying to deal with a long, hot summer. Deidre and Manus were once married, but Manus is now with his male lover and at Deidre is grasping with the fact that she is now “old” and in her 80s. Alma, Acushla and MacDara are their children and they all have to grasp with their own choices too. Alma and Acushla married twin brothers, and somehow their lives are echoing each other. The girls’ children, Constance and Nora, are also dealing with their own lives choices. The entire book follows these characters one by one and lets us into a world of family drama, insanity and growth.

I would have loved to read a book like this in high school, when you have the opportunity to pick apart lines and themes within the story. I loved seeing how each character interacted and how life didn’t end up the way they quite expected it. Lots of humors is thrown in with the tragedy, family drama is addressed in a very real way, and this book shows just how tough life can be (yet also how fruitful and silly we can make it). In summary, it’s all about perspective.

Kathleen does a great job showing the differences between the generations and how they interact with one another. The conflict felt so real and the book felt like it could have been a non-fiction retelling (but it’s not!). I really want to read more by Kathleen because she has a real knack for story telling. I was so attached to these characters and I was furious that this book had to end (and in the way that it did! I cried! I never cry at books!).

I HIGHLY recommend this book if you love fictional dramas, stories set in Ireland, and books about being a family.

Five out of five stars! I would give it more if I could.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

Check out another book (or review!) that you might enjoy:
#BookReview Someone You Love Is Gone by Gurjinder Basran
To Wendy’s With Love: the 22-year Lunch by Diane Keyes- BOOK REVIEW
Quick Book Review: The Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen Corasanti
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#BookReview Cinder by Marissa Meyer

I bought this book YEARS ago when I got my wisdom teeth out. Actually, my Mom bought it for me because I was drugged up from having my wisdom teeth out and there was a massive book sale. I gave her a list of books and she got them for me, and then this book sat on my shelf because I forgot I told my Mom to go buy me books when I got my wisdom teeth out.

So colour my cheery when I finally cleaned my bookshelf and there it was! I picked it up instantly, decided to ignore my upcoming exams, and settled down with this book. AND MAN I WAS SO STUPID FOR NOT READING IT SOONER BECAUSE I AM OBSESSED.

I am an adult now, but when I bought it I was a “Young Adult” reader. Some of the YA books just don’t sit with me as well now, but this book totally did. Cinderella, fairy tale, Star Wars-esque, cyborgs, science fiction, crazy evil overlords, and more! How could someone like me not love a book like this?!

My friends had given me horrible reviews of this book so I was very hesitant to pick it up, but when I took the dive I realized that I really shouldn’t have listened to them. I devoured this book in about two hours and I could NOT put it down. Marissa Meyer crafted an intriguing story that echoes our fave fairy tales and sci-fi movies, but also sits well on it’s own. Cinder is special but she doesn’t know why (like most YA novels, wink wink, nudge nudge). The Prince needs her help so she complies. Through helping him, trying to avoid a crazy super bug/infection and dealing with some major losses, she finds herself in a world of insanity.

This is a great read, but it leaves with an awful cliffhanger. I was so furious that the book ended the way it did because now I HAVE to pick up the next book in the series. Like, thanks a lot Marissa! But good on her, she did an excellent job crafting this book to the point that I seriously need the sequels. It won’t be okay if I don’t find these books on my book hunts soon.

To list some of the positives of this book, I have to say it really works well for young readers (maybe 8 and up, as a good book with their parents) but also sits amazingly well with adults. I didn’t feel like I was reading a purely YA novel, it felt like a fun fairy tale. I almost wish it wasn’t on the YA shelf in my local book store because it’s not strictly made for the YA audience, even though the narrative fits well with YA.

My negatives? Cliffhangers. I hate them, so they will always be my negative. Also, sometimes the story just felt like it happened at the right place, right time and just happened to work out in the character’s favor. It didn’t bug me at all in this book, but sometimes that trope grates on my nerves.

Overall, SO AMAZINGLY GOOD. Five out of five stars all around! This book really got me back into a reading binge, so thank you Marissa!

 

Check out this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
Indigo/Chapters/Coles – Canadian Retailer
Amazon.com

 

 

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