#BookReview Down in the Belly of the Whale by Kelley Kay Bowles

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Today is October 10th – World Mental Health Day! To celebrate and make people aware, check out my review of a book that focuses on mental health awareness (and general health awareness too!).

 

 

Down in the Belly of the Whale by Kelley Kay Bowles is a witty and ingenious Young Adult novel that addresses a multitude of tough subject matter in an eye-opening manner.

I don’t know how Kelley does it, but she always manages to impress me. This time around, Kelley has a Young Adult novel that addresses so many tough subjects in one go! Topics such as self harm, child abuse, Multiple Sclerosis, loss of innocence, suicide and not so supportive parents are just some of the many that are tackled in this book. Each “issue” is brought into the story seamlessly and has plot lines throughout the narrative to deal with the issues. Most Young Adult books stay away from the tough yet so very real topics like these, so I have to applaud Kelley for taking the big leap in her story!

My teenage self would have loved a book like this, and I could have learned a lot in the process. On top of the subject matter, the book is written in the voice of a teenager (and it feels oh so real!). Just some of the quotes, such as “I’m going to wear a stunning pair of very expensive jeans that hug my curves like a two-year old with separation anxiety” make this book hilarious! This sitcom-like book creates a fantastic balance between realism and dark topics alongside the silly and goofy one-liners to make the book less depressing.

I did like the character development in this story – both Cora and Harper grow throughout. The change in their attitudes and view points was very obvious as the book went on! I think Kelley did a great job making these characters feel real and like teenagers. Bravo!!

The fantastical side of Harper being able to “sense” when someone is sick, and she’s able to sense mental illness is a big step forward. Mental illness is not always seen as someone being “sick”, rather it’s just an issue to be dealt with. Having a book directed towards teenagers have this point of view makes me very happy and very proud of Kelley’s writing.

Now for the tough part – the negatives. Were there negatives in this book for me? Yes. I felt the ending was rushed, which made some of the pieces being tied together feel less real. Is it necessarily a bad thing? No. It was just something that stuck out to me. Kelley ties up some of the loose ends nicely, but I would have loved a few more pages dedicated to these storylines. Other than that, this book felt flawless.

Would I recommend this book? Heck yes! This book was a fantastic Young Adult novel that I actually got into! I didn’t want to put it down, and I didn’t. I easily binged this book in one sitting, but it could easily be read in bits and pieces. If you like Young Adult novels, books that tackle dark subject matter (in a light-hearted way) or a splash of comedy, then you will love this book! I’d even recommend this to many adult readers, because of it’s amazing way of tackling the rough subjects.

There is a bit of an asterisk on the recommendation side – this book could be a major trigger for some people. Keep that in mind if you plan to pick up this book! The darker sides of this novel may not be suitable for all ages and maturity levels!

Five out of five stars!

I received a free copy of this book from the author Kelley Kaye Bowles in exchange for an honest review.

 

Find this book on:

Goodreads

Amazon.ca

Amazon.com

 

Find out more about Kelley Kaye Bowles on:

Goodreads – Kelley Kaye Bowles

http://www.kelleykaybowles.com/

Twitter – @kelkay1202

 

If you read this review, give me a shout out on Twitter to let me know you read it! @ReviewAlholic

 

And if you enjoyed this review, why not check out another you might enjoy? #BookReview The Sinking of Bethany Ann Crane by K. Kris Loomis

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#BookReview Blood by Ruth Miranda

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Blood by Ruth Miranda is a paranormal novel full of thrills, suspense and mystery!

Vampires? Fey? Visions? This book is hitting every notch on the fantastical belt of epicness!

I truly found this book intriguing and couldn’t put it down. It starts off as a character study, following Caius (also known as Chaos), who is in a big band and is uber famous. Now, that’s all fine and dandy but he’s been having visions of a boy and he’s dead. Oh, did I mention there was an accident involving his girlfriend? His life is tricky, and slowly it unravels. Once we get past the short character study in a psychiatrist’s office, Cai is out looking for Marcus who is supposed to be dead. Slowly, Cai learns more about himself and his family roots on his fantastical journey.

The book is addicting – normally I take my time and take breaks when I’m reading, but this book demanded my attention! When you add in the insanity of the plot and how quick it moves, you’ve got yourself a real winner! Keep in mind, it is fast moving and has lots of paranormal aspects to it – so if you like a simple, clean cut story this might not be for you! It’s full of plot twists that might not be easy to follow if you’re not fully into the book whole-heartedly.

This novella is a fun read, but it almost felt too short! It ended so abruptly! Luckily, this is a series so we’ll be getting more from these characters soon! I wouldn’t recommend reading this book if you solely like books that stand alone. The story doesn’t fully close, so you will need to read the next book to know the final ending or have some closure.

Overall, this book has incredible themes and deep topics that will pull adult readers in to feel for these characters. The fantasy sides of this story also bring action and adventure to keep you hooked and gliding along with the story. I think this book will be great for fantasy readers or adults looking for something a little more than just some fantastical fun!

Four out of five stars!

I received a free copy of this novella from the author Ruth Miranda in exchange for an honest review.

All About Blood: a paranormal novella.

‘Chaos’ Nilsson has it all: a successful career in the music industry, fame, money, the girl. He also has a monkey on his back, brought about by the visions that plague his mind and haunt his every waking moment; visions that will only be quietened when he numbs himself with generous amounts of alcohol and drugs. After an accident that nearly costs him his life, he embarks on a journey of self discovery, in search of his roots and the secret to the blood coursing through his veins

 

 

Find this book on:

Goodreads – Goodreads – Blood

Amazon.com – Amazon.com – Blood

Amazon.ca – Amazon.ca – Blood

 

Find more books by Ruth Miranda on Amazon:

Amazon.com – Ruth Miranda

 

Did you enjoy this review? Why not give me a shout out on Twitter using the hashtag #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

Comment below – what is your favourite fantasy novel?

 

Photo from Goodreads.

#BookReview Poison Princess by Kresley Cole

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Now is time for a #ThrowbackThursday review – AKA I’ve gone back to reading a book on my shelf from years ago and reviewing it. Enjoy!!

 

 

Poison Princess is one of those books that takes you by surprise, pulls you in and won’t let you go until you finish it.

I actually found this book (originally) via Gena Showalter. She was always talking about her author friend Kresley Cole on Twitter, so I decided to pick this book up. They seemed to get along so well, so why not pick up her book? I doubt author friends who hated each other’s works would talk so great about each other. And to no one’s surprise, Gena’s suggestion was on point. (Keep in mind I love Gena Showalter. I’m quite sad I haven’t been able to read any of her books recently, due to my busy schedule).

This is a dystopian, apocalypse novel is for sure a YA novel – but that doesn’t mean adults can’t enjoy it. It’s not R rated, if anything it’s more of a PG/PG-13-esque novel. It’s an easy read, and it’s totally addicting. There are some cringy YA moments (silly romances, ironic comments, and all the joys that come with being a teenager) but it’s still an enjoyable book. If you keep in mind it’s a YA novel made for a YA audience, it’s not to heart breaking when silly teenage plot lines go on. It’s like a soap opera – if you understand that some extraordinary things happen that are out of the line of reality, then you can thoroughly enjoy it.

Keeping in mind that I have read the next novel – the character development in this book works. You begin to fall in love with these sassy characters and they do grow! Their story is continually built on into the next book, and to me it’s a worthy read worth a recommendation. It’s probably one of the better YA novels I’ve read – and one that I’ve been able to come back to and enjoy.

Overall, Kresley Cole is an amazing story teller. She’s great at her adult series and her YA series, and it’s a worthy read for those looking for some YA or dystopian drama in their lives.

Five out of five stars.

#BookReview Her Dragon to Slay by Julia Mills

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Her Dragon To Slay was a fantastical, romance novel all about dragons.

Warning: Spoilers ahead! Be warned.

I found this book free on Amazon, so I figured – why not? I loved Katie MacAlister’s dragon series, and I wanted to fill my shelf with a few more books about dragons, so this seemed like the perfect fit! And, indeed it was! This book was fun, delightful and full of ooey, gooey romance.

It’s definitely your “typical” fantasy romance – they fall in love fast, there’s some really hot sex scenes and there’s some fantasy and action mixed in as well.

Julia Mills does a great job weaving the dragon half of the story with the romance side. I loved the mythology Julia created for this world, and I would like to see more of it in the future. It can seem a little cheesey if you’re expecting an Oscar worthy styled novel, but to me it was fun and entertaining. It kept me interested to the point I devoured it in one sitting.

There are also many funny and comedic moments mixed in. This is not a serious fantasy novel, it’s lighthearted and fun.

So, you may be asking at this point – what’s the cons?
1. Character development is low (but it’s a book that’s less than 200 pages and involves a lot more romance involved)
2. Repetitive. Yeah, this book is a little repetitive. If you’re just reading it for a fun ride, it’s cool. It didn’t bug me because I wanted an escape from reality, but to some people this might be a major no-no.
3. Potential rape?… Rayne gets a little to sexual with a sleeping Kyndel, and we’re not to sure if she actually “wanted” it despite her body behaving… But later she’s madly in love with him in about two seconds, so it could be warranted? I don’t even know. That part left me feeling really icky reading it. It just didn’t seem right.
4. Male oriented story. This one kind of bugged me, and looking at other reviewers it bugged them too. The woman exists for the man in this story, and it definitely fills some fantasies for some people but in today’s culture it doesn’t sit perfectly. This can be a con or a pro, depending on how you want to look at the story.

Overall, this book was delightful. It had me whisked away to another world and not worrying about reality. It’d be a great book to read if you love romance, dragons or a sexy read.

Three out of five stars.

 

What is your favourite fantasy book? Comment below!

Did you enjoy this review? Check out another you might enjoy! #BookReview Saving Me by Sadie Allen

Use the hashtags #BriarsReviews and #HerDragonToSlay to chat about this book on twitter with me! @ReviewAlholic

Check out Julia Mills on her website http://www.juliamillsauthor.com/ or twitter @JuliaMills623

#BookReview Jessica Rules the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

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#ThrowbackThursday time! I read this books years ago, when it came out  and now it’s time to pick it up off my shelf and dust it off for a new review!!

 

 

Jessica Rules the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey is one of my favourite books in a series that ended FAR TOO SOON!!

When I initially picked up this series I became furious – there was only two books in the series and then POOF it was gone, just like that! I was addicted, I needed more and Beth hadn’t provided the literature to fill that need. With a book and sweet and cute as this one, it was highly upsetting.

The Romanian vampire universe that Beth built within these two books was thrilling. We follow Jessica and her vampire husband (who has been accused of murder, by the way) in a magical adventure. There’s romance, drama, danger, thrills and everything you want in a YA, vampire novel.

This book does let you down though – it’s the final in a two book series that could have been so much more. It could have been the next Vampire Academy, in my eyes. Why go so far and waste the effort to create such a beautiful universe to end it after two? Our characters still had room to grow, since their character development was quite small, and there were so many loose ends that weren’t tied up in the end. When there’s so many mysteries entwined in this series, it was incredibly frustrating to know the books just stopped here.

Jessica is related to the audience – she doesn’t fit in, she’s strong willed and headstrong and is willing to save her friends. She’s not overly dramatic in my eyes, especially in a YA adult novel, but she’s still an excellent lead. Mixed in with a fast paced story, and an excellent story line makes for a truly great recommended read from me!

Five out of five stars.

 

Check out Beth’s website: Beth Fantaskey

Or give Beth a shoutout on Twitter! @BethFantaskey

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#BookReview Bittersweet Symphony by Rebecca McNutt

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This book was written in Nova Scotia, and as a Canadian I AM SO HAPPY I AM READING A CANADIAN BOOK. That cannot be understated – I love helping other Canadian authors out. It’s so near and dear to my heart.

Rebecca McNutt’s novel Bittersweet Symphony was an addicting read for me. Her descriptions and tone in her writing was something that just clicked with me. Her tone was somewhat professional, yet it worked so well within this novel. It almost sounded like the perfection my English teachers in high school wanted us to achieve, but never could. The level of how descriptive her writing is made me feel like I was there with the characters. I could see this being “too much” for some readers, but I love description when it’s paired with a good story (and it’s not just one hundred pages describing how the characters look).

I like how the story is essentially an allusion for real events, and the little splash of ghosts thrown in as well. It makes it real yet not real, believable yet not believable all wrapped up into one. This book is in it’s own little corner, AND I LOVE IT.

I would say this book has some “mature” themes, revolving around language and some things that are referenced (without spoiling). Although, that doesn’t mean you have to be 18+ to read it. The book isn’t to graphic, so I think teenagers could easily read this book and relate to it.

Pros:
1. Unique story telling – Rebecca doesn’t follow your stereotypical, simple writing style. It’s hard to explain, but it’s different. I like the term “gothic” for it, but that’s not 100% on point with how she writes. Essentially, I love an author that writes in their own style and doesn’t follow a norm so I REALLY liked this book.

2. Short and Sweet – This book isn’t 1000 pages long. This book reminded me of the original Star Wars trilogy: the information that needed to be there, was there. There was no fluff, it got to the point and made an effective story.

3. “Black as the ace of spades” – The language is BEAUTIFUL in this book. I’m obsessed with it. Can Rebecca McNutt write my life story while she’s at it?

4. Interconnecting Stories – I’m obsessed with Cloud Atlas (one of my all time faves of interconnecting stories) so it seems fitting that I’d enjoy another book that interconnects everything. Bravo!!

5. Relatable – This book was relatable on so many levels. Just reading how the lawyer says that they are snakes until someone needs their help, and then suddenly they are their best friend – yeah, that one hit me where it hurts. It’s so honest, and so true.

6. Shocking Twists and Turns – Some of this book you don’t see coming, and I can respect an author that can actually make that work in a novel.

Cons:
1. Dialogue – The dialogue can appear “rigid” or “stiff” to some readers. For me, it worked within the story and how Rebecca was telling her story, but that might turn off other readers.

2. Personal con: Madson. I keep wanting to call it “Madison” or anything but Madson. It was driving me insane as I was reading it because my brain didn’t want to comprehend the name. Major personal con here (and an amusing con at that).

I’m amazed that people are saying Rebecca McNutt was 19 when she wrote this. That’s a lot of talent for that age, so I can only imagine Rebecca getting better the more she writes and the more time she has to practice. This book doesn’t seem like it’s written by a 19 year old – it’s incredibly mature.

Overall, this unique book had me hooked and addicted from it’s first page. I’m so glad I read it, because I haven’t read a book so unique and actually good for a very long time!

Five out of five stars.

I received a copy of this book from the author Rebecca McNutt in exchange for an honest review. Everything here is my own, honest opinion.

Side notes: If you want to read this book, the author posted her own “review” offering copies out. It’s a great opportunity to read and review an awesome book. Not many authors offer opportunities like this, so hop on it if it’s still available!!!

 

Will you be reading this book? Or do you have a book recommendation? Comment below!

Check Rebecca McNutt out on Goodreads! Rebecca McNutt on Goodreads

Once you’ve read this review, hit me up on Twitter and tell me what you thought of it! @ReviewAlholic
If you enjoyed this review, why not check out another you might enjoy? #BookReview Manchester Vice by Jack Strange

#BookReview Immortal by Gillian Shields

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Here’s a quick #FlashbackFriday review featuring a YA novel!!

 

Immortal by Gillian Shields is a fantasy YA novel focused on witches.

I really enjoyed the first book in this series (aka this book, Immortal). The take it has on witches was different than what I had read about before, and I enjoyed it’s uniqueness. It wasn’t on my top list of YA books I read years ago, but it’s still a good book.

Gillian Shields is a skilled writer, and I really want to pick up more books from her. This novel isn’t an A+ book, but I can only imagine how much she has grown since she first wrote this book. With so much potential, it’s hard to believe she won’t write an even better book in the future.

I did think there was a pinch too much romance in this book. If there was more focus on the plot line and witches I think it could have peaked up to an even higher rating on my end. I’ll have to pick up the rest of the books in the series again to see if it gets any better or if my ratings change from when I first read this series. It also features some cliche characters and plot lines…

So, for me, it’s a little bit boring.

It’s still a sweet book, and I think there’s lots of room to grow for Gillian. Hopefully she has more books out because I absolutely LOVED her writing style within this. Her books are easy to read and move at a relatively fast paced!

Three out of five stars.

 

Check out Gillian on Goodreads! Gillian Shields on Goodreads

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

Did you enjoy this review? Here’s another you might like! Book Review: Boys That Bite by Mari Mancusi