#BookReview Eat Cake. Be Brave. by Melissa Radke

Eat Cake. Be Brave. by Melissa Radke is a delightful read that will make you giggling and smile all along the way.

Seriously, I liked this book! It was sugary sweet, delightfully fun and just all around great. I had not heard of Melissa Radke before, but I did want to sink my teeth into some comedic biographies. This woman is just the kind of girl I want to read about! She’s funny, she is real and has an interesting story to read about. I gotta say, she’s right. I love her now! She seems like the kind of woman I’d want to be friends with.

This woman wrote a fantastic book that is all about dealing with life, insecurities, following your dreams and being comedic while doing it. She hasn’t had the easiest life – things have gone wrong, and that’s totally okay. But she came out on the other side of it, and managed to make light of it! She adopted two children, she’s made a book, she has a great marriage and is doing her best and living her life. I dig it. I like books like this that feel real but still teach you something.

My negative for this book: There’s some more stuff I wanted to read. Melissa will bring up stuff (her marriage wasn’t amazing for some of it… but why?) and then never discuss it. If you’re gonna bring up the dirty laundry, you kinda gotta air it. Maybe not in excessive detail, but I was actually curious how they overcame the bad hump in their relationship. How?! Why?! Give me advice girl, because you seem to have a good head on your shoulders and you write it well.

Overall, this book is a great comedic biography to pick up if you’re seeking something lighter to read.

Four out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

Check out this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Indigo
Kobo
B&N

If you loved this book, you might enjoy some of these other books as well:
#BookReview You’re Doing Great! by Tom Papa
#BookReview Tiny House, Big Love by Olivia Dade
#BookReview Nobody Gets Out of Catering Alive by Joe Montaperto
#BookReview The Fencers by Geza Tetrallyay

Give me a shout out on Twitter if you read this review! #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

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#BookReview The Edge of Whiteness by Joe Montaperto

The Edge of Whiteness by Joe Montaperto is a smashing read all about Joe’s school hijinks in the 1970s.

If you’re looking for a blast from the past, this book is for you! Joe Montaperto’s school life is full of misfits, hijinks, Sicilian heritage, hilarious name calling, amazing references and lots of hilarity.

This book centres around the race riots in high schools during the 1970s. It’s a different time with lots of flashbacks to Joe’s youth. There’s yelling, screaming, cursing, and lots of comedy all packed into this wonderful book. It reminded me of listening to a Director’s Cut of a movie. You see (or read, in the case of the book) all of the action but also get to hear the funny side comments and quips about the situation itself. That’s why this book is so enjoyable – Joe’s witty or snippy remarks about the situation as a whole.

The spiritual awakening part of this book is one of the more interesting parts for me. It all starting with a book, Siddhartha by Heran Hesse, is even more interesting. Throw that in with the struggles of youth in the 70s and it opens your eyes (or reminds you) of how the world was different many years ago.

My only note is that this book may come off as rude. There are offensive terms mentioned in this book that were fairly common back in the 1970s. Nowadays, the terminology is very offensive. So, trigger warnings ahead! Remember, this is a book about the 1970s which was a very different time with a different point of view (generations are all different). N words, fake Arab accents – the works. That is a point to keep in mind when thinking about reading this book.

Four out of five stars.

I received this book for free from the author, Joe Montaperto, in exchange of an honest review.

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

Check out some of the work by Joe below:

www.joemontaperto.com

Goodreads – Nobody Gets Out of Catering Alive
Amazon.ca – Nobody Gets Out of Catering Alive
Amazon.com – Nobody Gets out of Catering Alive
Smashwords – Nobody Gets Out of Catering Alive

Check out another book in this series:
Goodreads – Lovely Chaos
Amazon.ca – Lovely Chaos
Amazon.com – Lovely Chaos
Smashwords – Lovely Chaos

and on Authors Den!

Check out other books by Joe Montaperto on my blog:
#BookReview Nobody Gets Out of Catering Alive by Joe Montaperto
#BookReview Lovely Chaos by Joe Montaperto

If you’re seeking more reads, check out some of my other blog posts:
Top Books from 2019

Give me a shout out on Twitter if you read this review! #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

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#BookReview Breakfast at Bronzefield by Sophie Campbell

Breakfast at Bronzefield is one of the best books I’ve read this year. No jokes. No lies.

It’s one of those books that opens you up to a world you might have heard of, but never really truly knew about before. I’ve watched Orange is the New Black, and have heard all of the stories from shows and books like it, but Sophie’s first hand account opened my eyes up so much. Seriously, it’s not the fun and cutesy stuff Orange brings you in the show (although, it is still an excellent show so I’m not hating on it).

Sophie is a real woman who was in a women’s prison, and man does her story shed a different light on the “correction” facilities. By the sounds of it, we can hardly call them correction facilities anymore, but that’s a topic for another day (or for this book, let’s be honest).

This book recounts Sophie’s tales as a black woman in the Britain’s justice system. Women’s prisons aren’t the campy fun that some television shows might have you believe. The news doesn’t do it justice either. Correctional officers and probation officers aren’t always out there to protect these ladies, and inmates don’t always get treated the way they should. The food isn’t great, when they can get it. The activities are limited, and they’re lucky to get them most of the time, especially if the officer or recreation assistant running it doesn’t like them (for who knows what reason). Even then, once they are no longer inmates, it isn’t easy for them to get back on their feet. The programs provided don’t always help or have the best interests of these ladies in mind.

This book is honest, real and raw. It made me think a lot and wonder how the system got so corrupt. If we’re trying to help people get ‘better’ or learn from their ‘mistakes’, why are we so harsh? Is there not better ways? It’s mind blowing. The system we’ve been told is supposed to help and do good is quite corrupt.

Overall, the honesty and accuracy of this account is so mind boggling. While I’m not surprised, I also totally was. Sophie’s accounts felt so real, and brought some new light to my eyes. More stories like these need to be told, and then maybe the system will change. That’s a tall order, but it’s possible – it just might take a very long time.

Five out of five stars.

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

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

You can find out more about the author, Sophie Campbell, by following the links below:
https://www.sophiecampbellbooks.com/
Twitter
Goodreads

If you liked this book, here’s some other books from my blog that you might enjoy:
#BookReview The Boy on the Beach by Tima Kurdi
#BookReview Crime Seen by Kate Lines
#BookReview You’re Doing Great and Other Reasons to Stay Alive by Tom Papa

Give me a shout out on Twitter if you read this review! #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

And like me on Facebook for more urgent updates! @BriarsReviews on Facebook

Or follow my on Goodreads: Briar’s Reviews on Goodreads

#BookReview The Charming Predator by Lee MacKenzie

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The Charming Predator is an addicting read for anyone who loves true crime.

Lately I have been in a reading slump (probably from all of those school textbooks I’m devouring…) and most of the books I should love I haven’t been able to connect with. Buuuuut, this book instantly hooked me during this time and appeared to be exactly what I needed.

This book is intriguing because it’s supposed to be “real” (I say supposed to because Lee MacKenzie apparently has numerous pseudonyms). Kenner Jones did exist and there are numerous stories about how he scammed a ridiculous amount of people (including his wife).

I find it an interesting phenomenon that this happens to people. It seems so out of the ordinary and soap opera like, yet I’ve met many people who trick and manipulate anyone they can. Reading it, I found I could see “signs”, but that’s with me knowing the end of this story – I know he’s going to manipulate her, it’s almost like a bad movie you have seen over and over. “Don’t go through that door” or “Don’t talk to that person” and so on…

I have so much respect for this woman, because this was truly one of the worst moments (or say…years?) of her life. Writing a book like this takes courage, and my goodness is it a good book. I find it well written, easy to read and one of the better true crime, life story novels I have read in a while.

This book gets 5 out of 5 stars for sure.

I got this book through a charity that asks for donations to local community charities in return for previous read ARC copies – so my copy was an ARC.

Did you enjoy this book? Why not check out another? Book Review: From Wedding to Funeral: Spouses who Murder by Mindy M. Shelton

#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.

Book Review: Ugly by Robert Hoge

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Edition photos via Goodreads.

Book Review:
Title: Ugly
Author: Robert Hoge
Date Read: September 28th – October 4th, 2016
Date Reviewed: October 6th, 2016

Introduction: I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads. When I read the synopsis of this novel I was incredibly intrigued. A memoir of the life of a child that went through surgeries due to birth defects seemed realistic and interesting. Most school aged children (and even adults) feel like they don’t fit in, so reading a story about a life long battle with trying to fit in and how Robert Hoge managed to keep going made my heart warm.

Spoilers Ahead?: Yes.

Quick Summary: Robert Hoge was born with a few issues – he had a tumor on his face and his legs did not form correctly. As a small child, he went through surgeries to remove parts of his legs (to the knee and above the knee), remove the tumor on his face and realign his facial features to appear more ‘normal’. Throughout his life Robert had to learn how to adapt – like walking with mechanical legs, deal with bullying, and making life decisions regarding future surgeries. This story is uplifting and inspiring to read, and this version of the story is written as a kid friendly story.

Evaluations: I loved this book – it was inspiring, beautifully written and aimed at the right audience. This easy read was made so children would be not only interested but able to understand. Robert Hoge uses metaphors and similes to explain how it feels to be different, which I think will help the audience grasp a better understanding. Overall, I’m impressed. I would definitely suggest that anyone read this novel, and if possible that school’s should adapt the book into their reading curriculum. If more people understand, perhaps there would be less bullying and hate in this world.

Plot: The content of this story revolves around Robert Hoge’s life and his struggles. It starts from when he was born, to when he was in his pre-teens. If anything, I would have liked to see what his struggles look like now, but I don’t know if that would have worked with the audience he was writing to. Children want to hear about lives similar to theirs, so perhaps it was for the best.

The plot moves quick enough to keep the reader interested. I was more than impressed with how the story was adapted – a child could easily read this book and understand, but as an adult I also enjoyed the novel. It’s hard to find stories that translate well for both kids and adult. I applaud Robert on how well he wrote this story.

I haven’t been able to find any problems with the story itself. It’s a great narrative with lots of substance – not only is there a story to be told, but Robert explains how he feels, and how the reader might feel. His metaphors work well with the audience – making a clay head that’s perfect, but suddenly there’s a giant piece of clay in the middle – and he continues to reference them throughout the novel for further understanding.

Overall, the context of the words in this book are excellent. The author tells a great story, and the fact that it was a true story, a memoir, that makes it even better.

Characters:  The “characters” of the story are mainly Robert and his family, with a splash of friends, schoolmates, doctors and teachers. All the characters are realistic in the setting (and of course they are all real life people as well). You can’t tell if they were portrayed the way they actually were, but everyone seems to be acting realistically. No character seems out of place or unrealistic within the context of the story.

Robert’s character (of himself) also acts realistically for his age. I’ve found in some memoirs that when the author writes about themselves that the child version of themselves acts like an adult. Child Robert acts like a child, which is refreshing. Little Robert isn’t having intense emotions similar to an adults, he is acting and thinking like a child throughout the novel. A+ for characterization!

Themes/Creativity/Uniqueness: If this novel would have been Young Adult or aimed at the Adult audience (which Robert Hoge has an “Adult” version of this novel that you can also check out) there probably could have been more themes implemented. This book doesn’t deal with some of the emotional pain and bullying that most likely happened. The pain isn’t discussed as much as it probably happened, either. But, this book wasn’t aimed at an audience  that needs to feel that pain just yet. For the audience it’s made for, it does it’s job. It explains how he was bullied and puts a light spin on the names he was called.

The main theme of this story seemed like “Be yourself” or “Nobody is perfect”. Robert could have gotten more surgeries to look more “normal” but he didn’t want to. Why would he want to go through more pain, time out for surgery, and the possibility for further injury just to look “normal”. Everyone has their differences, and Robert constantly highlights this throughout the book. Nobody is truly normal – there are individuals with physical, mental, physiological and psychological changes out there. There are no two people alike – even twins are different with their personalities and interests. If people weren’t quick to judge and accepted differences, perhaps this world would be a better place.

Overall, the themes and creativity within this book were tremendous. Yes, I would have liked Robert to expand on many topics, but this book wouldn’t have adapted well for children if he did.

Strengths: Robert’s ability to write to a younger audience but have an adult audience enjoy the book as well is perhaps the greatest strength. He rivals JK Rowling with that ability, and he deserves the recognition. He also deserves a lot of credit for being able to write a story about being different and have it so warm-hearted. He put such a wonderful spin on something that could have been very terrible for him. I appreciate his work, and he deserves lots and lots of press for this book.

Weaknesses: His weaknesses within this book are mainly the themes and context that readers wanted – but readers need to be aware that this specific version of the story was adapted for children. Yes, I would have liked to see more of the struggle of his story and understand what he went through (the bullying, the pain, the thought process), but children don’t always understand those aspects of an adult’s story. Adults understand adults, children do not understand adults.

Score: 5 out of 5.

Robert Hoge’s book is inspiring and uplifting. This inspirational read is truly a gem and I would love for more people to read this book. It addresses many topics that schools are trying to plant within their curriculums – embracing differences, dealing with bullying, and adapting to change. This book was incredible, and I can not give it enough stars or great reviews.

 

Photo from Goodreads.