#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

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#BookReview Poison by Punctuation by Kelley Kaye

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This sequel is another thrilling yet cozy mystery that is set in the halls of a high school!

We continue on in this book with Emma and Leslie in yet another pickle. This time around, a student was murdered! The suspense is excellent in this story – I felt myself being pulled in even farther into the story as each page went by. It really hooks the reader and makes them feel committed! Throw in some A grade comedy, fantastic character development and lots of education allusions and you’ve got one epic book!

These two sleuths are basically the adult versions of Nancy Drew! The wittiness and cuteness of this book makes it the perfect relaxation novel. I also found it to be the perfect binging novel (although you could easily put this book down and jump back into it). It’s also a G to PG rated book – there’s nothing graphic or overly worrisome. Teens and adults alike will easily be able to read and enjoy this book!

It was a real delight seeing Emma and Leslie and their fantastic chemistry together again! The two of them make the perfect best friends for a fun, cozy story! I can almost feel them radiating their positivity off the pages! And on top of that, they are hilarious! I also have a strong love for the secondary characters as well! The other teachers are all interesting and truly characters.

Hunter was a real breakout character for me. I loved seeing more of him in this novel and I hope in any future books he’s hanging around more!

I loved all the quotations between the chapters – that’s one major part of this series that raises it above all the others! The Shakespeare quotes always get me! I love it!

My final comment – I loved that adoption became a big part of this book. The awareness of adoption, while out there, isn’t spoken about enough (in my honest opinion). Thank you Kelley for expanding the conversation!

Kelley Kaye is the Queen of cozy, comedic mysteries! I will definitely be looking for more books by her and I highly recommend picking up this must read novel!

Four out of five stars!

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

 

Check out this book on:

Goodreads – Poison by Punctuation

Youtube – Book Trailer – Poison by Punctuation

Amazon.com – Poison by Punctuation

Amazon.ca – Poison by Punctuation

 

Check out the first book in this series, Death by Diploma, on:

Goodreads – Death by Diploma

Youtube – Book Trailer – Death by Diploma

Amazon.com – Death by Diploma

Amazon.ca – Death by Diploma

Find out more about Kelley Kaye on:

Goodreads – Kelley Kaye or Goodreads – Kelley Kaye #2

YouTube – Kelley Kaye

http://www.kelleykaybowles.com/

Twitter – @KelKay1202

Facebook – Kelley Kaye

 

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

#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 Scars by Ruth Miranda

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There is a BIG time jump (and by big, I mean two years) in this novel. There is a slight summary of the first book in this series, which is helpful, but if you haven’t read the first novel in a LONG time, maybe read a quick summary or a few reviews to get yourself caught up!

Scars follows Marcus and Cai as they search for their Father (Titus). Life is getting trickier with their abilities, but they are determined to track him down no matter the consequences. Has their Father taken on a new name? Will some ghosts from their past come back to haunt them? And will their new friends betray them? These are all worthy questions to ponder as you make your way through this book.

I have to say, I liked this better than the first one! I think this sequel ups the thrills and fun, especially with Marcus and Cai interacting. It is a bit darker than it’s predecessor, but I thought it was a great addition to this series! Although, the worst part of the book is the cliffhanger. Ruth likes to leave you hanging and desperate for the next novella! So, we’ll all have to wait and see what happens to our boys and their new friends and family in the final book of the trilogy.

The book is a fantasy novel, full of vampires, fey and witches. It’s not horror, but does have one sexy scene that makes it closer to R than you’d expect. There are dark tones and themes, but nothing that will scare you or disturb you too much.

It’s also rather fast paced. I felt myself easily reading this book and suddenly it was over! But it was a delightful read. So as short and quick as it was, the book turned out excellent! Some of the scenes are quite shocking, and I didn’t see them coming. Ruth has a real talent at throwing those twists and turns at you, throwing you off guard for the next scene.

On a side note, I love that the titles of these books actually play into the stories! Blood was a big scene stealer in the first novella, while scars are often discussed in this one. I always love seeing the titles having some relation to the book, but this one really worked well!

Overall, this book was a real gem! I’m definitely getting more into this series and I want to read more by Ruth Miranda! Her books are truly excellent!

Five out of five stars!

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

 

Check out Ruth Miranda on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15263413.Ruth_Miranda

Find Scars on:

Goodreads – Goodreads – Scars

Amazon.com – Amazon.com – Scars

Amazon.ca – Amazon.ca – Scars

Find Blood, the first book in this series on:

Goodreads – Goodreads – Blood

Amazon.com – Amazon.com – Blood

Amazon.ca – Amazon.ca – Blood

Find some more reads by Ruth Miranda:

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

 

Amazon.com – Ruth Miranda

 

If you read this review, use the hashtag #briarsreviews and give me a shout out on Twitter! @ReviewAlholic

#BookReview The Vampire’s Assistant by Darren Shan

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The Vampire’s Assistant was an excellent young adult novel that is full of thrills and chills!

I watched the movie adaption of this series YEARS ago, and I had been dying to pick up this series. Unfortunately for me, the bookstore is big and full of millions of books so I’d forget what I was looking for the minute I walked in. Luckily for me, I walked into a bargain bookstore and found an old, extremely damaged version of this book for clearance – so of course I bought it! A little water never hurt anybody!

I hadn’t read the first book in this series, but jumping right in was super easy! This book was fun, full of silly frights and awesome character development, and made me remember why I loved vampire novels in my youth!

This book is quick – it moves fast and keeps you interested at every turn. There’s some really creepy bad guys, Evra (the snake boy), a wolf man, and some awesome parental-yet-not-so-parental adults hanging around. It’s definitely the type of horror book I would read as a kid (but it doesn’t scare me at all now – adult me has worse things to be afraid of…like politics and bills…ick).

I highly recommend this book to anyone considering introducing their children to YA books with horror or vampires in it. It’s fun and creepy in all good ways! It’ll keep the adults interested too!

Four out of five stars!

 

Did you enjoy this review? Check out another you might enjoy! #BooKReview Hercufleas by Sam Gayton

Comment below – what is your favourite young adult novel?

Give me a shout-out on Twitter using the hashtag #briarsreviews if you read this review! Briar’s Reviews on Twitter – @ReviewAlholic

And check out Darren Shan:

http://www.darrenshan.com/

@DarrenShan

#BookReview Blood by Ruth Miranda

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Blood by Ruth Miranda is a paranormal novel full of thrills, suspense and mystery!

Vampires? Fey? Visions? This book is hitting every notch on the fantastical belt of epicness!

I truly found this book intriguing and couldn’t put it down. It starts off as a character study, following Caius (also known as Chaos), who is in a big band and is uber famous. Now, that’s all fine and dandy but he’s been having visions of a boy and he’s dead. Oh, did I mention there was an accident involving his girlfriend? His life is tricky, and slowly it unravels. Once we get past the short character study in a psychiatrist’s office, Cai is out looking for Marcus who is supposed to be dead. Slowly, Cai learns more about himself and his family roots on his fantastical journey.

The book is addicting – normally I take my time and take breaks when I’m reading, but this book demanded my attention! When you add in the insanity of the plot and how quick it moves, you’ve got yourself a real winner! Keep in mind, it is fast moving and has lots of paranormal aspects to it – so if you like a simple, clean cut story this might not be for you! It’s full of plot twists that might not be easy to follow if you’re not fully into the book whole-heartedly.

This novella is a fun read, but it almost felt too short! It ended so abruptly! Luckily, this is a series so we’ll be getting more from these characters soon! I wouldn’t recommend reading this book if you solely like books that stand alone. The story doesn’t fully close, so you will need to read the next book to know the final ending or have some closure.

Overall, this book has incredible themes and deep topics that will pull adult readers in to feel for these characters. The fantasy sides of this story also bring action and adventure to keep you hooked and gliding along with the story. I think this book will be great for fantasy readers or adults looking for something a little more than just some fantastical fun!

Four out of five stars!

I received a free copy of this novella from the author Ruth Miranda in exchange for an honest review.

All About Blood: a paranormal novella.

‘Chaos’ Nilsson has it all: a successful career in the music industry, fame, money, the girl. He also has a monkey on his back, brought about by the visions that plague his mind and haunt his every waking moment; visions that will only be quietened when he numbs himself with generous amounts of alcohol and drugs. After an accident that nearly costs him his life, he embarks on a journey of self discovery, in search of his roots and the secret to the blood coursing through his veins

 

 

Find this book on:

Goodreads – Goodreads – Blood

Amazon.com – Amazon.com – Blood

Amazon.ca – Amazon.ca – Blood

 

Find more books by Ruth Miranda on Amazon:

Amazon.com – Ruth Miranda

 

Did you enjoy this review? Why not give me a shout out on Twitter using the hashtag #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

Comment below – what is your favourite fantasy novel?