#BookReview Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell

In case anyone was wondering, I’m the type of person who likes to read the book before they watch the movie. Yeah, I’m super annoying like that. I wanted to watch this film years ago, but I really really really really really (is that enough reallys?) wanted to read the book yet. It slipped me mind for years (literally), until I found it at a local charity bookshop. So, I picked it up and let it sit on my shelf for a very long time. Pretty normal for me, if I’m being honest.

Time came around where I wanted to branch out and read something a little different, so I finally picked the book up. Yay me!

Dude, I’m impressed but also wildly confused. So, let’s begin:

This book started off super intriguing for me and I was instantly hooked. That changed though, because about half way through it got slower and more boring for me. By the ending, I wasn’t as interested. But mighty me wants to watch the movie, so I trapezed on.

Ree is a sixteen year old living with her Mom and her younger brothers. Her Father is into the drugs and has since ran away from the cops. He’s being searched for because there’s a warrant out for his arrest. Normally, a young sassy girl like Ree wouldn’t care, but her jerk face of a Father put their house up as his bail. And, ya know, he isn’t gonna show up.

So, Ree decides to go on a journey to find him. Along the way there’s triumph and trouble, like anyone expects on an adventurous journey. Oh, and rape and drugs and stuff like that. You know, light hearted stuff (cough cough… sarcasm…. cough cough).

My thoughts?

The setting is stunning. I really love Daniel Woodrell’s descriptive way of writing. I was whisked away into another world trying to imagine the stunning scenery he listed. Seriously, that alone deserves a big star. His writing is beautiful.

The isolated location makes it more interesting though, because there’s meth heads, drug addicts, and this little slice of life book shows how hard it can be in the wilderness and different areas of the world. It gives U.S.A. vibes, maybe in Alaska, but there’s no hard concrete to suggest that. It easily could be up in the Canadian North as well. The language showcases different accents and ways of speaking, which sometimes made it harder to read, but still spoke well of the story. It sent you away to another world for a while, which was really cool.

I liked that a strong female character was in the lead. She does what she needs to do to keep her family safe and doesn’t have a squeaky clean life. Bad things have happened to her and she has mistakes littered around. It made me want to weep for her at some parts, because people are cruel. Yet, she stands tall and goes on her journey. She’s tough and the kind of female character we need. No shiny, blonde perfection. There is lots of courage though. How else can you survive in the situation she’s in?

Overall, this book is really interesting. It’s going to be hit and miss for some people due to the language and storyline, but it’s still worth the read. I can understand why it got turned into a movie, because it’s just so darn good.

Three out of five stars.

Give this book a look see by clicking on these links:
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Amazon.ca
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If you love gritty books, check out some other books that have been recently featured on my blog:
#BookReview Drug Gang Takedown by Neil Walker
#BookReview The American Crusade by Mark Spivak
#BookReview Wrong Place by Michelle Davies

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#BookReview Another Five Days by Matt Micros

Another Five Days by Matt Micros is a wonderful, feel good book!

The premise itself is amazing, let alone when you get into the meat of the writing. Matt Micros has crafted a beautiful, heart-warming story about a man who gets to redo five days of his life because of his extraordinary altruism.

Al Sokratis is the kind of guy we want to see in the world: he does amazing things for people. He goes off to war to help protect his buddy, he helps his son with his finances when the goings get tough, and he becomes Mayor to try to better the city for everyone. When he goes to help a man who was in a tragic accident and is killed, he is given a chance to redo five days of his life. To no one’s surprise, he continues to try to help people and is rewarded greatly.

This book literally brought tears to my eyes. At the end (that sweet ending, my goodness) I couldn’t help but feel so warm and fuzzy and let a few tears fall from my eyes. It’s such a feel good and lovely story in such a rough time full of negativity that I can’t help but scream about this book on the top of all the hills. I will be so disappointed if this book doesn’t find an audience. It’s a magical little book that I will be recommending for years to come. To top it off, this book is easy to read, fast paced and a short story so you can binge it in no time.

If you like fiction, want something that will make the world seem better, or you are seeking a short story, grab this book! Matt Micros is an amazing story teller!

Five out of five stars.

I received a free copy of this book from the author, Matt Micros, in exchange of an honest review.

Check out this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.com
Amazon.ca

You can find out more about Matt Micros on:
Goodreads Author Page
https://www.mattmicros.com/
Twitter – @Macros1

Here are some other fiction novels you’ll love:
Briar’s Reviews – Goodreads Review of Destinare by Matt Micros
#BookReview The Heirs by Fran Hawthorne
#BookReview Between Sisters by Cathy Kelly
#BookReview Geo by Kevin Miller

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#BookReview Two Mothers by K. Kris Loomis

Two Mothers is a horrifyingly great book by K. Kris Loomis. It features postpartum depression across generations, with two women (who become Mothers) being connected despite being many years apart.

The first chapter alone having a 15 year old giving birth but potentially having to give that child up is… intriguing. It draws you in and makes you question what’s going on in the book. Then we move to Anna, who seems to be a Mother going through lots of confusion, stress and grief. She doesn’t seem to know what to do with a baby, which has me even more curious on how this book will progress.

There are some goofy, punny jokes in there too that makes this book a little more light-hearted. It’s not dark and suspicious all the time, which is also a nice touch. It makes this book more readable! I like it!

The change between first and third person also makes this book rather spooky. The entire book had me questioning reality, much like I did when reading The Turn of the Screw. I really liked that aspect of the book, because you didn’t really know what was going on until you read the entire thing and connected the dots.

I do love a K. Kris Loomis book. There’s always something unique about them. Psychological horror and fiction is always done right by this author, just saying. They sit up high on my top reads book shelf and I will continue to recommend and enjoy them. I highly recommend this little novella if you are seeking a quick horror read that makes you think.

Five out of five stars.

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

You can pick up this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com

Learn more about the amazing author, K. Kris Loomis, by clicking on the links below:
http://www.kkrisloomis.com/
Twitter: @kkrisloomis

Check out more K. Kris Loomis books featured on my blog:
#BookReview The Monster in the Closet and Other Stories by K. Kris Loomis
#BookReview The Sinking of Bethany Ann Crane by K. Kris Loomis
#BookReview After Namaste by K. Kris Loomis
#BookReview The Murder of Leopold Beckenbauer by K. Kris Loomis
#BookReview 100 Tiny Tales by K. Kris Loomis

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#BookReview 100 Tiny Tales by K. Kris Loomis

This book features one hundred drabbles (stories with one hundred words) by K. Kris Loomis. I had never heard of a drabble before, but man does it sound tough! How does one write a story and perfectly sum it up in one hundred words?! I’m awful at describing myself in little words, so kudos to K. Kris Loomis for making it possible! It’s a real feat!

These stories are really short (well, obviously. One hundred words isn’t actually a lot – it’s just a few paragraphs worth at most!) but they really pack a punch! My favourites include: “The Perfect Ring” with the surprise ending I didn’t see coming, “The Sentry” that reminded me of our former neighbourhood cat and my numerous reactions to him, and “A Knock” where the Grim Reaper makes a mistake (I actually laughed out loud at this one).

Despite the length of these stories, I felt like I related to them (and sometimes wanted a little more!). “She Was Going Dancing” packs a lot of parental disappointment in such a small story. “A Night at the Theatre” had me shivering because I knew what would come next. “I Know He Loves Me” highlights the pain of a woman in a tough situation. “Phobias” highlights Santa Claus at a doctor’s office. “Flowers” had me cringing for the poor lead man. “The Wedding” just broke my heart! “A Great House” left me feeling spooked. “The Flight” reminded me of my childhood. “Kiss a Frog” takes a twist on an old fairy tale. And those are just some of the many stories!

There’s so many good stories in this bunch! There’s at least one that you’ll enjoy. Anthologies like this are always so much fun, especially since they’re quick and easy to read, yet just as easy to jump back into. I also love that there’s so much hinted at – you can just imagine what would go down next. Creativity and imagination are great aspects of drabbles!

This lovely anthology shows how strong K. Kris Loomis is with her craft. She’s a real master of writing, so if you get the chance… pick this book up! It’s well worth the read!

Five out of five stars!

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

You can find this book on:
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Goodreads

Here’s some more books by K. Kris Loomis featured on my blog:
#BookReview The Murder of Leopold Beckenbauer by K. Kris Loomis
#BookReview After Namaste by K. Kris Loomis
#BookReview Survving Revision: How One Writer Finished What She Started 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

 

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#BookReview Call Me Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber

Let’s get into the Christmas spirit with an adorable Christmas book by the always lovely Debbie Macomber!

 

Call Me Mrs. Miracle is an absolutely delightful Christmas romance book!

Emily Merkle is mistakenly called Emily Miracle, and takes on the name Mrs. Miracle. She’s an older woman who does wondrous work at the toy store she got hired at. Jake is her boss, and he’s ordered what seems like WAY too many toy robots that his father, the owner, is not too pleased about. He meets Holly Larson, a woman taking care of her nephew since his Mother has passed and his Father (her brother) is in Afghanistan. Gabe, her adorable nephew, really wants one of those robots. She might be in luck, since her and Jake meet and he’s more than happy to set one aside for her. Will there be a Christmas miracle?

This book is so utterly cute! It’s the perfect book to curl up with a blanket and some tea and just sink into. It’s full of Christmas spirit and packed tight full of ooey gooey romance. It is predictable, especially since this turned into a Hallmark movie, but it’s everything I wanted and more in a Christmas romance book. It’s sugary sweet and just fun.

Four out of five stars.

 

Check this book out on:
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Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo

 

If you love Christmas romances, check out these delightful book featured on my blog:
#BookReview Miss Kane’s Christmas by Caroline Mickelson
#BookReview Christmas in Silver Bells Falls by Samantha Chase
#BookReview Christmas on Mistletoe Lane by Annie Rains
#BookReview Hot Winter Nights by Jill Shalvis

 

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#BookReview Christmas in London by Anita Hughes

Cozy, holiday reads are excellent – cozy, romantic, holiday reads are even better!

Anita Hughes has crafted a lovely, heart warming story about two women finding their loves during Christmastime.

Louisa works in a bakery, when suddenly Noah shows up needing Christmas desserts for a reality television show he is working on. When those desserts make the lead dangerously ill, Louisa is hired to take her place!! Meanwhile, the assistant Kate finds love again with a man from her past… Oh, and Noah and Louisa get along quite well.

I found this book to be very sweet. It’s your typical holiday romance with a bit more description than romance. The beautiful displays at expensive stores take the forefront with Anita painting beautiful pictures in my head of these designer stores. I wish there would have been more fluffy romance throughout the pages, but this book was more contemporary fiction with a hint of romance than full on holiday romance.

The romance itself is quite bland at the beginning. Lots of cheek kisses to establish the leads might like each other. Also throwbacks to the relationship failures, instead of the current love that should be occurring on the page. Again, this book is more contemporary than romance. The men are also… weird. They aren’t normal men (or even romance novel men), they all act very strange and have very aggressive or manipulative behaviour. It was still an okay read if you get over the fact that they are kinda weird.

If anything, I found this book to be the perfect feel good book. While I was reading it, I just wanted something to escape and feel nice and fluffy. This book fit the bill. It doesn’t need to be the romance book I hoped it to be, it was perfectly nice to escape from the insanity of the real world. Thank you Anita Hughes for giving me an escape. If you’re looking for descriptions of Christmas displays and beautiful Christmas desserts, this book is perfect!

Three out of five stars.

 

You can find this wonderful holiday story on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo
Indigo

 

Pack that TBR up tight with many more holiday romances:
#BookReview Christmas in Silver Bells Falls by Samantha Chase
#BookReview Christmas on Mistletoe Lane by Annie Rains
#BookReview Hot for the Holidays by Marie Force, Tamsen Parker et. al

 

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#BookReview A Very Scalzi Christmas by John Scalzi

If you’re looking for a humorous, seasonal book packed full of holiday comedy, you need to pick up A Very Scalzi Christmas by John Scalzi.

I am new to John Scalzi. I have been informed his writing is superb and he can be quite snarky, so of course I was in. To top it off, who doesn’t want some Christmas cheer during a time like this?! Even if it is making fun of the whole holiday season! Honestly, this book was exactly what I needed in my life right now.

This collection holds fifteen short stories, poems and snippets that will leave you giggling and breathless. Here’s just some of the lovely, little pieces of literature you’ll come across (in no particular order):

1. An Interview With Santa’s Lawyer – this one was by far the best of the bunch for me. Seeing this lawyer explain Santa’s liabilities and how Rudolph screwed everything up had me chuckling the way no other book has managed. It’s absolutely ridiculous while being funny at the exact same time. Santa’s corporation, his billionaire coal master status, and the elves’s union rights are just some of the wildly amusing topics brought up. Not gonna lie, I want an entire book just on this alone!

2. A Bitter November – I also thoroughly enjoyed watching the months go off at each other. Poor November is upset over December and it’s shining glory. The personification in this little story could be used in a master class. I’m thoroughly impressed by John Scalzi’s writing here, it’s too good and too funny.

3. Christmas in July – this one had me guessing for a while what was going on. Why did Santa move Christmas up to July suddenly? We see a peek inside the government trying to figure out why there was a mass home invasion leaving everyone exactly what they wanted. The ending was quick, short and sweet, but I wanted just a little bit more out of it…

4. Interview with Santa’s Reindeer Wrangler – the interviews are apparently the pieces of this collection that had me laughing the most. The conversations are so dumb funny and yet perfectly written. It’s exactly what you’re picture a reindeer wrangler complaining about if he had the job. Rudolph never existed and gave everyone a bad name, and the reindeer positions are actually jobs. It’s a super witty take and I applaud John for the cool idea.

It’s shocking this book has so many reviews and ratings, because I absolutely LOVED this book. Very rarely can I find a comedy book that keeps me interested the whole way through, and this one did just that. There’s satire in here, pure comedy and so many great takes on holidays – and it’s not just Christmas!

You don’t need to celebrate Christmas to find joy in this book. Since it is so satirical, it’s a great way to laugh at the holiday season in general and how ridiculous it can be. So, I highly recommend this book if you love or hate Christmas, if you love comedy and want a laugh, or if you just want a really well written book. Spice of your book shelf with this collection! Everyone will be able to find at least one story in this collection that will have them chuckling and chortling away.

Five out of five stars!

 

Check out this epic book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo
Indigo

Find out more about John Scalzi on:
http://whatever.scalzi.com/
Twitter – @scalzi
Goodreads

 

If you’re looking for more comedy in your life, here’s some other book recommendations to help fill up your TBR:
#BookReview Schmuck the Buck: Santa’s Jewish Reindeer by EXO Books
#BookReview Life Seemed Good, But… by Richard Bell
#BookReview Pop Sonnets by Erik Didriksen

 

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#BookReview Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

I will be totally honest with you: I only read this book because I watched the television show and was morbidly curious about the book. I have picked up another book by Liane Moriarty (The Hyponotist’s Love Story) which was okay so I wanted to pick up another book by her. Big Little Lies was the perfect fit since I thoroughly enjoyed the television adaptation.

That being said, I actually prefer the t.v. show. Here’s why:

This book carries a lot of heavy material: sexual assault, domestic violence, abuse in general, bullying, and rich people problems. In one moment it feels really deep and real and in the next it feels like rich, white women complaining about rich, white women problems. If you read into the book, it’s supposed to be that way. It’s not only low and middle class people who have hard lives. Domestic abuse and sexual assault happens in all forms of human life these days. But this book still didn’t sit well with me.

I really wish I would have found this book before the television show. I know I shouldn’t be comparing the two genres because they are wildly different, but I liked how the television show handled these issues more. Maybe it’s the visuals, maybe it’s the music and the tone – all of the things a book can’t do – but it’s still my opinion.

That being said, this book is still an excellent read if you want a dramatic thriller set around school problems. The ending isn’t totally obvious (which is nice) but you can totally pick it up if you pay enough attention. It’s like a mystery story that’s full of gossip. Throw all of that in with some real fast paced antics and you’ve got yourself one excellent novel.

The way the book is set up is really cool, which is why it stood out to me in the beginning. There’s little police interviews scattered throughout the book that hint at what is going to come. If you’re smart and read into it a bit, you can totally guess the ending and have a good idea what is going to happen. In the same breath, if you just want to enjoy the ride you can do that too. The structure of this book is so well planned out, and that’s what impresses me. Liane Moriarty has some real talent and I want to see that talent in other novels.

I can totally see why this book is a best seller. It’s a wild book that’s also filled with some deep content. Most people can relate to something in this book, whether it be the white people problems, the struggles of parenthood, broken families or the really dark stuff. At the same time, it’s all packaged so well that it’s also enjoyable. Most books with this harsh of content lose me when it gets too dark, but I just kept trekking along and enjoying the ride. Bonus points for Liane.

My biggest little flaw in this book was that I wanted to see more of these police interviews. I’d like to see the incorrect, unreliable narrators tell more about what they thought happened. Those comments alone could be their own story. Honestly, they impressed me more than the story half the time. I was giggling and sneering at these comments, unable to help myself. I also knew the ending though (the joys of watching the television series first) so it was highly amusing to me.

Personally, I found a lot of the women to be awful. I know a lot of mothers are like that these days, but they definitely aren’t all like that in my neighbourhood. They all fought constantly, seemed to have little communication and listened to their kids more than other adults. Or, you know, didn’t listen when their kids were telling them something really important. It just seemed way over the top at times and I just couldn’t handle their bitchiness. On top of that, the book did seem a pinch too long. There was some content that could have been left out and the story wouldn’t have changed. That’s my inner student calling out to the world though – edit, revise, shorten, and meet the word count!

I think this might be one of those books you can jump back into once you know the ending. It definitely would have been a more interesting experience if I didn’t know what was coming. I could see how Liane set it up along the way, but I didn’t pick up on all of it.

Overall, this book is a cool take on a tough story. All of the connections that are woven throughout this book and the unique style has me intrigued. If you haven’t watched the television show, do it. Maybe read the book first though, because quality wise I think the television show is AMAZE-BALLS.

Three out of five stars.

 

Check this book out on:
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Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Barnes & Noble
Indigo
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If you enjoyed this book (or even the television adaptation), you might enjoy these other books that have been featured on my blog:
#BookReview The Mountain Man’s Dog by Gary Corbin
#TopBooksList Briar’s Crime, Mystery & Thriller Reads
#BookReview Law and Addiction by Mike Papantonio

 

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#BookReview Hidden by Catherine McKenzie

Hidden by Catherine McKenzie was the most surprising book of the year – it 200% exceeded my expectations!

If you haven’t read this book, I’d highly recommend it. This contemporary novel follows the death of a man and the fallout that ensues. Jeff steps into the street (with his eyes closed, bad decision on his part) and is killed. His wife and son along with his co-workers must come to accept his death and unravel a big secret he left behind.

There is lots of drama in this book – cheating, big life decisions like changing jobs, following dreams and dealing with past mistakes. Claire, Jeff’s wife, used to date Jeff’s brother. When he left for Australia and broke up with Claire, suddenly feelings were developing between the now married couple. Claire and Jeff have a son, Seth, and end up experiencing a miscarriage when they try for a second child. Jeff always seems to compare himself to his brother and has his doubts about Claire’s love. When Claire kisses Tim (her ex/Jeff’s brother) Jeff goes on a bit of a spiral – in secret, of course.

Tish is Jeff’s coworker. She works in HR and ends up helping him out during the firing that occurs just before he dies. The two of them went on a work trip together, and it’s always hinted that there might be something more between them. Once Jeff dies, Claire goes on the hunt to see if this relationship existed.

The big theme of this book seems to be surrounding the concept of not knowing a secret or a bad thing can keep you innocent. Claire would have been devastated to know her dead husband cheated on her. Was it better to keep it in the dark? Would she have liked it better to know he was faithful or that he cheated? This final question is left up to the reader after the final chapter. Along the way, I kept going back and forth on whether I believed anything happened. The book does give the reader a concrete answer on this.

My personal opinions:

1. I don’t like Tish. I’m not sure if Catherine meant for us to hate her, but I definitely did not like her. She goes to the funeral and makes Claire’s life miserable. That woman didn’t need to do this! Why in the world would you go out of your way to hurt a grieving widow?! She also seems rather clueless about her own daughter. There is a side of me that feels bad about her, but MAN I still dislike her. In the end, I believe she’s the type of woman who is incredibly selfish. She did and didn’t do something major plot points for her own well-being. No where does it say she did it for the well being of Claire, Seth, her husband, Jeff or her own daughter.

2. Jeff’s a dumb man. He’s also a jerk. Mainly because he’s self-conscious about his relationship, so he should have gotten some major therapy for that. If you’re so concerned that you’re wife used to date your brother, maybe don’t marry her? After his wife’s miscarriage he didn’t seem that supportive either, but that’s my own personal opinion on how it was written. Also, who walks with their eyes closed into a street?

3. In the end, Claire should have run off into the sunset with Tim. I think she would have been much happier with him, especially after reading all of Jeff’s short comings. Maybe that’s the inner romance reader in me…

I might seem to have many negatives about this book, BUT IT IS STILL SO GOOD. I was hooked on every word and needed to know how the book ended. It was compelling and intriguing. I cannot recommend it enough.

The book does seem to be a “you love it or you don’t” sort of novel with other reviewers, so reader beware! Either way, I enjoyed it! And that is what counts.

Final question: Did Claire ever join her sister in a joint law firm? I NEED TO KNOW. CATHERINE, HIT ME UP GIRL!

Five out of five stars.

I received this book through Goodreads First Reads.

 

Check out this book on:
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Amazon.ca
Kobo

Did you enjoy this book (or review!)? Here’s some other books you might enjoy:
#BookReview The Fourth Courier by Timothy Jay Smith
#TopBooksList Briar’s Crime, Mystery & Thriller Reads
#BookReview The Age of the Child by Kristen J. Tsetsi

 

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#BookReview Bunnicula by James & Deborah Howe

Happy Spooky Month!
This is my favourite time of year, so it’s time to share some of my fave spooky reads! This particular book is a personal fave from my youth. Enjoy!

 

Back in the day, Bunnicula was THE book to read in elementary school. The class clambered to the front of the classroom to sit in our little circle and have story time. This book turned us all into little book loving zombies and we were desperate for more. Unfortunately, our school and teachers were only ever able to get the first book, but that didn’t deter us. We all had it memorized by the end of the day.

Fast forward to 2020. I see this book in a local used bookstore and I decide, “Hey, why not read it again and see if it holds up?” I can see this book for what it is – an absolute delightful middle grade novel that introduces fun horror to youthful eyes. As an adult, it didn’t hold up for me but I still have a special place in my heart for it. Who doesn’t love Bunnicula? Seriously.

Vampire Bunnies. It’s such a unique idea and I LOVE it. This book sits with Goosebumps on my happy, little, Halloween-loving shelf. This bunny goes and drains vegetables, because obviously it was owned by Dracula! It’s a fun concept and super silly! It’s definitely a book I would recommend for parents and educators. Get your little readers into a spooky, Halloween spirit with this little gem!

As an adult, it feels like a funny SNL skit. It’s not scary to us because we know it’s fiction but to little kids it’s a potential nightmare (in a good way, it’s not THAT scary). The anticipation as a child was not there as an adult, but I can still appreciate how wonderfully written this book is. It’s short and sweet but packed full of story!

Also, surprise ending! I forgot how this book ended so I was pleasantly surprised!

The only negative I had with this book was some of the adult references: classic books, taxes, etc. Kids might not understand these terms, but if they have a great adult reader helping them along, it might be a good educational opportunity, I guess.

Overall, this book is a childhood fave of mine that I would still highly recommend! It’s so nostalgic for me and I truly miss the whimsical nature of reading these books!

Four out of five stars.

 

You can find out more about this childhood classic on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Indigo
Kobo

 

Looking for more middle grade books? Here’s some recently featured on my blog that you might enjoy:
#BookReview The Great Grain Elevator Incident by Kevin Miller
#BookReview Seizure by Kathy Reichs
#BookReview Loki’s Wolves by K.A. Armstrong and M.A. Marr

 

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Twitter: Briar’s Reviews – @ReviewAlholic #briarsreviews

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