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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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.

Manga March Book Review: Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Volume 7 by Naoko Takeuchi

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Photo via Goodreads.

Book Review:
Book Title: Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, Volume 7
Book Author: Naoko Takeuchi

Introduction: I have always loved Sailor Moon, so when my local bookstore got a majority of the Pretty Guardian manga series I had to pick it up and read it! This is a great throw back to my childhood!

Review:

Number seven in this series slows down a little in pace until the Sailor Moon power-up. While it is a slower volume, the artwork is still fantastic, and the manga is still cute, fun and fabulous! I definitely would not consider putting this series down even though the pace is slower.

This part of the arc is still a great continuation. The characters are still being built upon, the action is still interesting and the covers are absolutely gorgeous.

If anything, I am excited to see more of the characters be introduced in this series. I can’t exactly find anything wrong to force me to put these down and start another manga. This author knows what the readers want, and that makes this manga so much better than expected.

This series focuses on friendships, magic, teamwork and family. While there are some darker elements to the story (such as Sailor Saturn’s personality) it helps make the story not to light. It’s a great series of opposite elements. The love and compassion in this story mixed with the evil and death make it a great story full of thought and problem solving.

Overall, I loved it. I can’t wait to pick up the next in this series! The battling elements and steady paces make the readers gravitate towards this story continuously, and that makes it an excellent series of manga.

Five out of five stars.

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

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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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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.