#BookReview Manchester Vice by Jack Strange

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*Arc given by the author, Jack Strange, in exchange for an honest and unbiased review*

Warning: Spoilers below.

Jack Strange’s books are of an interesting variety – when reading the synopsis I always get this very melancholy or “yeah, yeah” feeling, but when I pick up the book I’m blown away by the sheer excellence of his writing skills. Truly, the synopsis of anyone of his books don’t do the novels justice.

If I had to describe this book in one sentence, it would be “what the eff”. Now, that might sound rude, but I mean it in the nicest way possible. This book is all kinds of messed up, and truly memorizing. It gives me Dexter-like vibes in every way, in every good way. If you’re into severely messed up crime, this book is for you. It’ll blow your mind with how crazy, surreal and descriptive a novel like this can be.

I’m honestly surprised that Jack isn’t a more popular author than he is. I could see people lining up for these books in my local book shops, but they aren’t. It really boggles my mind how some really talented people aren’t getting the recognition they deserve.

Pros:

1. Excellent story telling – Jack Strange has true talent with how he weaves his narrative together. You don’t know what’s real or not until the very end – and that’s just how I love a good quality crime novel!

2. Unique descriptions – This man has a way with words, as I already said. But not only is his story telling fascinating, but his word choice enhances this novel to another level.

3. I find it interesting that most crime novels that feature a murderer don’t delve into the actual feelings they have (why they murder, what they feel after, etc) but Jack finally did. It’s a nice change, because I always wondered if the murderers felt anything at all or if they were just emotionless monsters.

4. The arc of the storyline was intriguing and followed every note I hoped it would hit. Some of it is easily guessed, but I’m glad Jack took the route he did (trying to explain this without any major spoilers is tougher than I thought it would be…). In a world like today where Big Brother is always watching us and social media is king of all, it was nice to see this book accept this fact and play along with it.

5. The King Lear references about tragedy being brought on by the character’s themselves is a very nice addition.

Cons:

1. Drugging a cat annoyed me as a cat lover, I won’t lie. That’s a major con for me.

2. My personal con/questions: I would have liked to know what swung Brian into being the bad guy that he is. Was he always this bad? Was it just a situation that led him to this? I have lots of questions as to how someone could be so easily swayed into the life/choices they made. But that’s just me and my over active imagination/thoughts. It’s not necessarily a con against the book, it’s my personal thoughts/loose ends that didn’t get tied up for me.

3. I found that at some points of this book it got a little boring/slow. I get bored very quickly with books that don’t interest me 99% of the time, so that’s a “me” con.

4. The ending is ridiculously obvious if you paid attention while reading the book. Just saying.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It’s a great read that can be easily devoured in one sitting.

Four out of five stars.

 

Check out Jack Strange on Goodreads! Jack Strange on Goodreads

Or visit his website: Jack-Strange.co.uk

Why not give one of us a shout out on Twitter?! @JackStrange11 or @ReviewAlholic

Did you enjoy this review? Why not check out another you might enjoy? Book Review: Confessions of an English Psychopath by Jack Strange

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#BookReview We All Fall Down by Eric Walters

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This #ThrowbackThursday is from over a decade ago for me. Oh how time flies!!!

We All Fall Down by Eric Walters is a tale of struggle in a fictional version of a real event.

Warning: Spoilers below.

Eric Walters came to my elementary school (yeah, I feel old, I read this YEARS ago initially) and brought a giant amount of his books. I ended up reading quite a bit by him and I wish I could find more because I remember loving him. The worst part about this book for me (back in the day of course) was one of my bullies in school did a book review on it as well and used his book review to make fun of me for reading the book. Which basically left me with a sour taste in my mouth for this book (despite it not being this book’s fault).

But now for the real review…

This book is sad. Really sad. But when you look at the events it is based off of, it’s understandable why it’s so sad. Especially when it’s introducing a young audience to such a big event! But I think Eric did a great job with this novel. When I first read this book when I was younger I did NOT understand how big this event was. I was pretty young and didn’t understand what explosions and twin towers were (I was more focused on Power Rangers, Sailor Moon and if there was a new Disney movie coming out). Having this book and having conversations with my parents, teachers and classmates involving this situation was a BIG step for me – and I applaud this book for making it possible.

Overall, this is a unique book. I like that it brings tough events up to a younger audience and leaves room for conversations. Is it totally realistic? Absolutely not. Did it need to be? No. As a kid, I don’t think I would have been prepared for these characters to die – I couldn’t contemplate death. Having bad things happen within the realm of reality was a much better alternative.

This book isn’t just made for kids as I keep saying, but as someone who read it as an adult and as a child, I truly respect it. It’s hard to write a book about real events, have it written in a respectful and truthful way, and have it be good. Good job Eric!

Five out of five stars.

Find Eric Walters on Goodreads: Eric Walters on Goodreads

Visit his website: Eric Walters.net

Or give him a shout out on Twitter! @EricRWalters

Enjoy my reviews? Check out my Goodreads page! Briar’s Reviews on Goodreads

Give me a shout-out on Twitter! Let me know your recent reads!!! Or give me some recommendations!  Briar’s Reviews on Twitter

#BookReview Hope Has Two Daughters by Monia Mazigh

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Hope Has Two Daughters by Monia Mazigh is a beautifully written historical fiction.

This novel is set in Tunisia and follows Nadia and her daughter Lila – these two women’s stories are intertwined over generations (1980s and 2010s) that will leave you feeling breathless. Riots, studying Arabic, family tensions and drama all drive this story forward by the beautiful story telling from Monia Mazigh.

This novel shows the evolving stories of the two women, and how they aren’t so different. Despite being apart of different times, the themes in their lives remain the same. This story shows you hope and survival in different times of struggle, and can be very motivational if you read it under the right context. While this book may not be a non-fiction novel, it almost feels so real with Monia’s descriptive and realistic writing.

This isn’t the best book I’ve ever read, but it was a good read. While it may not be a five star book in my eyes, seeing how much potential this author has makes the book worth it. Yes, it’s not super fast moving. And of course, there is room to grow within the story (some plot lines could have been left out, there could have been more description in certain areas) but it still makes for a great read. It’s not a book I would leave out of conversations – it is a recommended read from my end. That being said, Monia Mazigh has room to grow as an author, and I’m sure the next book will be even better than this one (no matter what she chooses to write, whether it be a continuation/similar story or a completely different one). If her next novels feel as personal and touching as this one, I’m sure they will be fantastic.

Three out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

 

Check out Monia Mazigh on Goodreads: Monia Mazigh on Goodreads

Enjoy my reviews? Check out my Goodreads page! Briar’s Reviews on Goodreads

Give me a shout-out on Twitter! Let me know your recent reads!!! Or give me some recommendations!  Briar’s Reviews on Twitter

#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.

#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