#BookReview – Dancing with Fireflies by Clemens Carl Schoenebeck

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Dancing with Fireflies by Clemens Carl Schoenebeck

This memoir is a beautiful retelling of the author’s life – specifically how it was to live with a mother with schizophrenia.

Mental Illness is a big part of today’s society – mainly because people have finally accepted that mental health is a big issue, bigger than people ever realized. Reading a book that is a biography about mental illness and how it was in the past was truly a beautiful experience for me. This book was beautifully written and unlike some biographies seemed brutally honest. It didn’t sugarcoat this man’s life – it was an honest retelling, and I truly respect that.

The descriptions of Clemens’s family as well as his Mother’s illness and hallucinations was incredible. It spread some light on a mental illness that I have no relation to – I never understood it (apart from a man with schizophrenia coming into my Grade 11 Health class to explain what it was), and this book really helped me better grasp what it actually is (not what soap operas tend to tell us).

There is many layers to novel – of course there are sad times, but there is also joy and humor at different parts. This man is not asking for sympathy or trying to make you cry, he’s opening your horizons to a new experience and life experiences many might not have seen or understood before. It’s also written so anyone can pick this book up. You don’t need to have a doctorate, you don’t need to only read YA – it’s made for anyone and everyone (adult/YA age groups of course, not for children but it’s definitely a PG story).

I also appreciated the pictures that went along with this story. It helped you connect deeper with Clemens and his story – there’s pictures of people with faces and emotions. It’s truly beautiful.

Overall, this is a motivational and inspirational book for me. It shows someone else’s life and gives you a sense of empathy – you can understand how having a mother with schizophrenia would be hard, but that was still Clemens’s Mother. She was a real woman in this real world.

Five out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

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#BookReview – The Mountain Story by Lori Lansens

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The Mountain Story by Lori Lansens

This action/adventure novel hits a home run in this genre and is a must read for those wanting a fast paced, adventure novel!

Normally, these types of books aren’t my thing but for whatever reason this book stuck with me and I could not put it down. I’m slightly annoyed I didn’t pick this book up early, because it was a fantastic read, leaving me to believe I absolutely need more Lori Lansens in my life.

This book isn’t just a survive out in the wilderness story – it has heart, a plot, and lots of backstory. There are definitely survival aspects, but it’s not just survival/wilderness porn. It’s a fantastic blend of action, adventure, suspense, mystery and a splash of romance (just a tiny splash). We follow our leads throughout the story revealing truths about themselves and developing their personalities and lives. It’s not cookie cutter or the norm, which is why this book is such a great read.

Why is it not a five star you may ask? There were definitely some slow/boring parts for me. There were a few times I put the book down and thought I might not pick it up, but decided that I needed to. Once you get past those few boring chapters, the book keeps chugging along at it’s fast pace.

This book has plot twists and turns that make it interesting – you think it’s going one way and then it swings in another – all while maintaining a PG/PG13 rating that I believe any reader will enjoy – not just adults, perhaps young adults too?

The book isn’t sensory in it’s description, but it’s well written that you can almost imagine yourself with the characters. I applaud Lori for writing this novel – it’s a fantastic read that I’ll definitely be recommending to fellow readers!

Overall, this fascinating novel is a truly spectacular ride! Four out of five stars!

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

#BookReview – Some Glow Brightly by John Palmer Gregg

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Some Glow Brightly by John Palmer Gregg

This novel was an interesting take on a very common YA trope – young narrator/lead has powers and only he can save the day (with the help of his companions of course).

We follow Red Snyder and his band of merry misfits in this YA novel. Red is special – he can see into the spiritual world – and after a tragic incident his powers are needed to help face the villain of our story.

I did enjoy this novel, despite the very common plot it was a well written universe that kept me interested. It didn’t blow my mind to rate it out of five, but it was a good read. I would definitely suggest YA readers who want something different/out of the norm to pick up this book. It’s well written, very descriptive and isn’t a romance based story. It has action, adventure and a bit of suspense/mystery in there as well.

If anything, I found that this story was a little slow for me. I like a fast paced story, and that dropped my rating down initially to a four. If it isn’t a fast moving story, it begins to bore me and makes it difficult to read. I did have to put this book down a few times for Facebook/Twitter breaks before I could go back just because it wasn’t super fast. But I was determined to finish it! This book was incredibly beautiful and John Palmer Gregg clearly put a lot of work into it!

I think John Palmer Gregg will developed into a great author – this book has so much potential and doesn’t fit the typical norm (despite the normal plot trope). The circus aspect of it intrigued me, and I would love to see this author expand into a more circus themed novel (not only the spirit world, although that plot line was en point as well). With all this potential, I definitely want to read more by John Palmer Gregg.

Overall, this book sat at a 3 by the end of the novel. It was fantastically written, but it was just to slow for me and the typical trope made me a little less interested. The spirit world and circus aspects deserve five stars though! Truly this was a beautiful book!! Keep writing John! I need more books by you in my hands ASAP!!

Three out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

#BookReview Boy Robot by Simon Curtis

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Boy Robot by Simon Curtis

Boy Robot is a unique read by Simon Curtis that should be a must read for young readers everywhere.

I would like to start off by saying this is not my favourite book – but it is good. Recently I’ve been finding more and more books I’m reading are fantastic, but just not in my wheelhouse. I did enjoy this book and I think it’d be a fantastic addition to another Young Adult/Young Reader bookshelf (whether personal or in a school) but I personally won’t be grasping and holding it dear to my heart.

This book has lovable characters, easy to follow story lines, deeper meanings and themes (I love a good theme <3) and a unique plot. The characters actually grow throughout the story, which is also nice to see in a YA novel. I find too often characters don’t grow, but this book fit this fantastic writing device perfectly into the story. There are layers of real things that happen to real people – not just cookie cutter back stories.

I also like that this book includes some LGBTQ+ into it. I won’t spoil, but it truly made my heart feel warm knowing that FINALLY books are realizing everyone is not a heterosexual male or female. Normalizing reality is fantastic, and Simon Curtis is earning bonus points for that alone. There are some reviews that seem to point at transphobia in this book – I didn’t read it this way, but be wary. If you need trigger warnings, then maybe this book isn’t for you? There’s rape, transgender individuals and general topics that some people just aren’t okay with. I was on the edge about reading about the rape, etc, and I still kinda am (I’m wobbling on the fence of unsure) – but I don’t see this as Simon Curtis attacking anyone purposely. I think it’s a plot device (maybe not the best plot devices…but that’s for you to decide).

I did find this book way to long. Personally, I would rather a book be shorter and end perfectly with everything that needs to be there rather than longer, more substance but not worth it. There were some story lines that were dragged out WAY to long. Some of the scenes were exhausting to read because I knew the story would be fine without it being there. But some readers absolutely LOVE substance, so take that with a grain of salt. I prefer a book that gets to the point or only leaves what’s essential.

I’m pretty sure this book will be a series. The way it left off just seems like it will continue on, or at least I hope so for other readers sake.

Overall, this book kinda left me confused. While it was absolutely fantastic, I do agree with some readers that some of the back story was a little brutal to be put in a YA. That doesn’t mean this can’t be one of the first novels to start introducing deeper/rougher content into YA but I just don’t know where I want to stand on it…

Three out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads

#BookReview The Braid Book by Sarah Hiscox & Willa Burton

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The Braid Book by Sarah Hiscox

As someone who has a background in Hairstyling, I have to say this book is an AWESOME idea. Just reading about a braid bar made my day – because there are days I want my hair done up but I don’t want to do it (and my stylist is always mega busy so booking with her the day of is almost IMPOSSIBLE). So, to say that I was excited to finally pick this book up is an understatement!

This book is a fantastic visualization for those who want to learn to do braids. At the beginning, it even includes what supplies you will need (like crocodile clips, hair bands, etc). This do it yourself book is perfect for those who want to learn how to do hair, but don’t necessarily want to watch YouTube glamour videos all day. This book even includes some outside references if you are looking for, say coloured hair strips or flowers!! Epic!

Care for your hair is also included in this book, which is a nice touch! I find a lot of videos about how to do your hair don’t include the before and after care actually needed (which is stressed in hair school, by the way!!! If you don’t take care of your hair, how do you expect it to stay rocking all day?!).

I really enjoyed the pictures in this book – I find it horribly hard to do my own hair!! I can do other peoples hair easy peasey, but my own? Nope. Not being able to see my own hair makes it difficult, so seeing the back of the head of what I should be feeling/doing made it easier to wrap my mind around it! (Haha…wrap….braid…yeah. Cheesey jokes, I know).

Different braids are explained and shown, so you don’t have to worry about being limited to only a few. This book gives you the works!

If anything, I found some of the pictures a little to dark to be able to actually see the hair/style that was going on. I would have liked to see the same style on a few different models with different hair colours (blonde, red, brown?) so you can see the style a lot better.

Overall, this book was a fantastic idea and it really should be a lot bigger/popular than it is!!

Five out of five stars.

Young Adult July Reads Book Review: The Fault in our Stars by John Green

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Photos via Goodreads.

Book Review:
Book Title: The Fault in our Stars

Book Author: John Green

Rave and Rant: I read this book after my father lost his battle to cancer, and it gave me a beautiful insight into a land where cancer is not viewed as the villain and rather as a fact of life. This book is not your typical love story! It followed sarcastic teenagers who live with cancer, and does not mainly focus on the cancer, it follows their life. It is a beautifully written book and John Green brings his excellent wits in this novel. I’d suggest it to anyone, but remember to have a tissue box nearby once you’ve finished the first half of the book! This book deals with strong emotional themes. Five stars!

Potential Issues: This book does make cancer seem a little romanticized. When I look back on reading it, at the time it was the type of book I definitely needed. I was hurting and I needed a book that didn’t make cancer seem like this horrible villain in my story. This book might not be for everyone, but it helped me at the time. Is cancer scary? Yes. It is life ending, horrible, and ruins lives? Yes. But can this book help heal? Yes.

This book will make you cry – it’s definitely sad, but at the same time it gives you  a different insight into cancer. Yes, there is a romance story in it, but these characters will give you some form of hope. There are beautiful quotes throughout the novel that show you cancer from a very different perspective. Readers must keep in mind this book was written after John Green lost a friend to cancer as well, so this book could have helped him heal.

Final Thoughts: This book is a YA novel – that means it is not going to be 100% realistic. This novel has it’s ups and down in many ways. The characters don’t seem to talk like teenagers would (but the novel was written by an adult). I found Hazel (the main character) to be quite average (other than her amazing quotes), but sometimes you don’t want the perfect Mary Jane as your main character. Gus is kind and a jerk, all wrapped up in one package. He’s not your perfect male lead, which is why I like him. Yes he has his issues, but at the same time he is romanticized for the audience this book is aimed towards. There’s a villain who has his reasons for being evil, but they don’t entirely make up for his behaviour. Overall, I enjoyed this book because it was there when I needed it to be – it’s a good book to read to heal after losing someone to cancer because it gives you a very soft and sweet look compared to the horrors a cancer story typically is.

Five out of five stars. I enjoyed this novel.

Quick Book Review: Into the Blizzard: Walking the Fields of the Newfoundland Dead by Michael Winter

In honour of Canada Day, here is my review of a book about Canada (well, Newfoundland)!!

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Photo via Goodreads.

Since I am a Canadian, I decided this book would be an interesting read that would enhance my knowledge of Canada. And surprisingly, I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected!

I wanted to read the book to gain more knowledge, but I ended up really enjoying the book and getting into it.

The book follows the journey of the author through Newfoundland and past battlefields and grave sites of soldiers. The chapters in this book were short and sweet, but the nicest little gem was how much information and facts that were within the small chapters. Each chapter involved a small journey or task completed by the author, but little facts either about the author’s childhood or the wars were included. These facts, despite being anywhere from one sentence to only a few paragraphs in length, gave an amazing and gigantic insight to how the War was fought and dealt with by soldiers.

The only downfall I saw to this book was how simple some of the language was. The read was smooth and quick, and I didn’t find myself getting bored with the facts and plot laid out in the story. Overall, this book was incredibly well written and a gem I would definitely read again or suggest to anyone who is interested in history, wars, or specifically Canadian history.

I believe this book would help many high school students studying history understand it a bit more (considering the fact that this book would have helped me a lot when I sat bored in history class).

Amazing book! Four out of five stars!

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.