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.

Book Review: Confessions of an English Psychopath by Jack Strange

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Confessions of an English Psychopath by Jack Strange

 

I’m not quite sure what I think about this story. It is definitely a unique read – I can’t say I’ve read anything like it before. For me, I found the introduction to be…well, interesting. It didn’t hook me onto every word, but at the same time it didn’t defer me.

I would say this book is more of a niche book. You either will love it, or you won’t. It’s a very special type of humor and writing style that not everyone will love. With saying that, it is definitely a good book. Jack Strange put a lot of effort into it and you can tell. It’s well written and it’s well versed, but the audience needs to be away it’s not for EVERYBODY.

I definitely wouldn’t suggest this to someone looking for an epic adventure, a long lost romance, or just some good old crime story. It’s in it’s own little category – the niche, crime/killer/thriller novel section.

If I’m comparing it to anything, I’d like to think it’s kind of a splash of Dexter (television show) meets Kingsmen: The Secret Service Movie, and tie in a few serial killer stories as well.

The more you go into it, the “confessions” themselves are unique and telling. Somehow you like Lawrence (our main character) throughout the story despite him being pretty shady – which says a lot about Jack Strange. If he can make us like this “dislikable” character so much, he definitely has talent.

If I were to critique this novel or say something I disliked, the only thing I might have wanted was more action sooner. I found the first few chapters a little slow, but it picks up once you’re one or two chapters in.

Overall, this book wasn’t made for me. I did think it was fantastic, but it’s not the type of book that I’m personally seeking out. I would love to read more by Jack Strange because his style is by far one of the most unique I’ve ever seen, especially lately.

Four out of five stars.

Quick Book Review: Winning! A Guide to Games That Never Were by Brandon Barrows

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Photo via Goodreads.

This novel was a short, funny twist on gaming guides.

Every game in this book does not exist, which makes this book quite amusing. It is explaining cheats and how to progress through these games that were never made. Clearly some of these stories were parodying certain games on the market today, and that made it so much better. I have a few times where I wanted to chuckle at the stories and how they explained their games.

I definitely enjoyed this book! It’s a short, cute read and it is definitely more of a comedy book. People who are fans of video games would appreciate this book a lot more than the average reader!

Four out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

April Anthology Book Review: A Cup of Roses, Stories by 8 Writers by Fiona Gold Kroll

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Photo via Goodreads.

Book Review
Book Title: A Cup of Roses, Stories by 8 Writers
Book Author: Fiona Gold Kroll, Ruth Frankel-Graner, Gerda Frieberg, Carol Green, Sam Hoffer, Raizie Jacobson, David Rapoport, Jenny Roger.

Introduction: I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads. As per usual, I was having a particular type of book craving – today it was anthology, and an overall short read. A Cup of Roses filled the bill, so I decided to pick it up and got so hooked I finished it in one sitting.

Review:

This anthology holds many different types of stories – humor, religion, drama, romance, food, history, joy, poetry, tragedy and so much more. For being so little, you wouldn’t expect much of an impact, but this book really had me interested and wanting more.

The book is incredibly easy to read, and each story is not to short but also not to long. The individual stories each have their own focus, none of which really seem connected. This helped me out when I began to get bored with a few of the short stories – each one had it’s own plot it centered around and did not depend on the others. These standalone stories are all well written, and are all written in different writing styles (since there are many authors that created this anthology).

Was this book my top, all time favourite anthology? No. Did it rank high? Yes. While it doesn’t get the gold, it definitely gets second place in my books. While the book didn’t wow my socks off, it did give me an interesting perspective into many different aspects of the writers lives/imagination. I wasn’t expecting to have to think or have my opinions rattled with this book, but it does just that. And as a reader and reviewer, I love a book that makes me think and form different opinions – or just gives me insight into something I haven’t thought about before.

I don’t have any recommendations for how to make this little series of stories better. It’s perfect in it’s own little way. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone and everyone who wants to read an anthology that doesn’t have one clear focus (and doesn’t have a connection between all of them). It’s great for a rainy day, a small lunch break, a school project, or just as a different type of read.

Would I want more from these authors? Absolutely. I enjoyed each story – while not all of them had my hooked to every word, they were all beautifully written and well thought out. I didn’t want to put the book down, I had to keep going (which is rare. Often I can set a book down and forget about it for a while, but I didn’t want to leave this book behind. I had to finish it).

Overall, this was an incredible read. I enjoyed each story, I felt educated, and the book made me think.

Four out of five stars.

Book Review: DC ESSENTIAL GRAPHIC NOVELS 2017

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Book Review
Book Title: DC Essential Graphic Novels 2017

Introduction: I LOVE comic books and graphic novels, and I LOVE superheroes (you can often find me lurking in the graphic novel section of any bookstore I go to…maybe for a bit longer than necessary!).  It is very obvious to anyone who has met me that I am obsessed with everything DC and I’m uber fond of Marvel. So, when I got the chance to read and review a graphic novel from the DC collection I was over the moon excited and I hopped on it immediately.

I received this book for free through Netgalley for an honest review.

Review:

The first comic was The Flash and he is holding this exact graphic novel in his hand. It’s quite amusing, and it’s totally in the Flash’s realm to do this. He’s always a comic relief!!! The artwork is impressive in this initial comic, which impressed me. The Flash discusses the comics that will be featured within the novel all while saving the day!! What a great way to start a graphic novel!!

This graphic novel is an introduction to the DC comic book line up and I definitely suggest it to anyone trying to get a basic start within this massive series of comic books. You get a little pinch of many titles and this can help readers figure out which comic book characters and series are best for them! Every comic book character/series has a different tone and might not match every reader so it is important to be informed!

Some of the comics/characters introduced within this series: Green Lantern, The Flash, Wonder Woman, Superman, The Justice League, Harley Quinn and the Suicide Squad as well as collectibles, suggested reading orders and back list (plus an ordering list!).

Each series is described and showcased at the beginning of this graphic novel. For example, the Watchmen are given a description for a general reader to understand what they are about and some of the characters. This series is described as grim and psychological realism – this can assist readers who do not want a gritty, real story to make an informed decision on what series to read or delve into.

Readers also get a sneak peak at artwork and covers, which showcases the illustrators wonderful artwork! Some of my first comic books I became interested in were just because of the artwork – you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but sometimes that introduces you to books you never thought you’d like!

Some of my favourite parts of this graphic novel include:
The Batgirl art and comic book – oh how I love her!
Batman: The Killing Joke – I have this graphic novel, but I always love seeing it pop up everywhere! It’s perhaps my favourite graphic novel of all time (so far…).
Justice League Origin Vol 1 Cover – I love superhero team up covers!
Everything Harley Quinn – I love this character, and seeing her pop up made my heart swell!! I try to pick up every comic book and graphic novel I find involving her!
DC: The New Frontier – this Justice League comic book has a very different art style than the typical Justice League stories, so it was great to see this line of comics shown off within this graphic novel.
DC Universe: Rebirth – Again, seeing the different styles and editions makes a great introduction to new (and old!) comic book enthusiasts!
Injustice Gods Among Us – For fans of the video game, there is in fact a graphic novel with the same name!!
Gotham Academy – I had never heard of this series before I noticed it in this book! So I’m pleased to see a small introduction floating around!
Aquaman – I have so many Aquaman comics hiding in my house, how could I not love seeing him showcased in this graphic novel?!
Birds of Prey – For those not introduced to the Birds of Prey, it follows some of the major female characters in the DC universe. Girl power!!
Nightwing – I haven’t seen as much of Nightwing lately as I would like to, so a splash of Nightwing makes my day!
Red Hood and the Outlaws – Another great character I haven’t seen floating around as much as I would like!
Teen Titans – For a very long time I have been obsessed with the Teen Titans, yet I’ve only seen the animated series getting more attention than the fantastic comic books.
Modern Classics section – While the old graphic novels are fantastic, some of the newer graphic novels and comic books have been hitting me the right way. Seeing a whole section on this fantastic selection is great in my eyes.

There’s also a little introduction to the current Zack Snyder film universe and DCEU on television and the comic books that influenced them/readers could enjoy.

Overall, I thought this was a great introduction to many comic books. This graphic novel would be fantastic for anyone wanting to get into the DC universe but not knowing where to start! I wish I had this when I started my obsession in June 2016!!

Five out of five stars.

Side note: I am now using the selected backlist to make sure I read in the correct order and not purchase second copies of comic books and graphic novels. How helpful!!!

Book Review: Mind = Blown: Amazing Facts About This Weird, Hilarious, Insane World by Matthew Santoro

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Photo via Goodreads.

Book Review
Book Title: Mind = Blown: Amazing Facts About This Weird, Hilarious, Insane World
Book Author: Matthew Santoro

Introduction: I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

Review:

Matthew Santoro is a YouTube creator who I’ve watched many videos of. When I received this book I was interested in reading what he had to say – and if you are a fan of his YouTube work, this book is essentially the written version of his online work. If you aren’t interested in a large pile of facts with a splash of sarcasm and humor, this book is not for you.

I enjoyed reading this book, although it didn’t stand out compared to other fact books. The only difference between the many other fact books I’ve come about in my years is the sense of humor. This might make it stand out to the younger audience, but it didn’t make me yearn to read more fact books.

Although, Matthew Santoro does a great job of making this book interesting. While the book itself might not stand out, it wasn’t a book I felt the need to put down. The sense of humor and descriptions Matthew gives makes the book tolerable. It’s not like an encyclopedia – it’s just like his YouTube videos. It’ll keep you interested throughout.

I do recommend this book to readers who want to learn more random facts without an encyclopedia of knowledge thrown at them.

Three out of five stars.

Book Review: Surviving Gretchen by Bonnie Daly

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Photo via Goodreads.

Book Review
Book Title: Surviving Gretchen
Author: Bonnie Daly

Introduction: I was given a copy of this novel for an honest review.

Review:
This story is a great middle-grade or pre-YA novel. It’s a contemporary, Disney Channel-esque book that will keep young readers interested. I definitely enjoyed this book on a middle-grade level. Bonnie Daly did a fantastic job writing towards her audience, and I’m sure that younger readers will relate to this story.

From an adult’s point of view there were definitely holes (Gretchen seems to be mean because she doesn’t have friends, but usually there is a reason behind the behaviour), but viewing it as if I was younger reading it, it makes sense. When I was a kid, it seemed like the bullies just picked on others for fun and not because they had issues in their own lives.

Some of the really fantastic parts within this story was the family and friendship relationships. Bonnie made these friendships seem real and honest, which is truly an incredible feat. There are many books I’ve read where I wonder how realistic the relationships are, but this book makes it very clear. I applaud Bonnie’s skill in writing that aspect of a novel.

I was slightly confused as to why there was a goat as a pet and why it seemed to take on more human characteristics – this book seemed to be quite realistic, but Ozzy felt out of place. At times, I felt like Bonnie was trying to make a character similar to Olaf and Sven and Pascal in the Disney-realm, but it just didn’t feel right in this setting. That being said, kids might really like a friendly goat in the story, I just know as an adult I found it quite silly and useless.

If anything, I really didn’t like the portrayal of Gretchen. I really wanted her to grow within the novel at some point – maybe she gets friends, maybe a reason is given for her behaviour, maybe she’s not the true villain – I wanted something, and I didn’t get it. Perhaps in further books she will be discussed, but for now I’m left feeling cheated. With the fantastic story building and relationships in this novel, having this wicked villain who’s just evil, “because” (and no other reason) made me want so much more. I finished the book and wondered if I was missing pages! This couldn’t be the climax and ending of the story! Gretchen needs her human-izing ending!

This book did a great job at being short and to the point. There were scenes that I felt could have been left out, but they made the book interesting. A majority of this book is cliche – it deals with preteens, bullying, diaries/journals, someone reading your journal, backstabbing, gossiping, and essentially every cliche in the book that can happen to 13 year olds. Although, the aspect of the story about what happens when friends get confused and assume things was very well written, so among the cliches there are some gems.

Overall, this book had it’s highs and it’s lows. As an adult, I expected more. As a younger reader, this might be the type of book they need. I’m not entirely sure, especially since as a younger reader I was more into the entire vampire scene and not the contemporary.

Three out of five stars.