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

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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:

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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

#BookReview Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

One of my New Years Resolutions was the read more “classics” this year, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was one of the first I was able to pick up. I was so lucky that I found this book at a local charity book sale! It was screaming my name the minute I saw it on the table and it’s been screaming my name while it’s been sitting on my bookshelf (well…desk. My bookshelves are rather full. I need to get reading faster and more to clear some room…).

I’ve seen both of the movies (Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp) so I knew what was coming. It was going to be a book full of shenanigans with some humor and lessons sprinkled throughout. And boy, did it not disappoint! I have to say, Roald Dahl is one amazing author and I really want to read more by him now. This classic is so full of childish nonsense and valuable lessons all at the same time. It’s mesmerizing what this man could do with his words.

The book has some deep, dark material that comes off as playful. Charlie and his family weren’t well off and Roald make that very, very clear. Yet the prose he puts this narrative in makes it seem… fun? Silly? I can’t even pick the right word. As an adult, I am in awe of how this family survived but I could easily see a child laughing their way through. A child would truly have no idea what the horror of starving is like, yet it is described so amazingly in this book…

Seriously, I’m in awe. I am in complete and utter awe over this man’s writing. He’s a literary genius, to say the least.

There are parts as an adult that I can pick apart, but I don’t think this book was intended to be some literary work that needs to be examined like Shakespeare. This book shows the good and the bad of being a kid – don’t be stubborn, don’t be a brat, don’t watch television all day, don’t go ahead without listening – stuff that we all learn as a kid. Charlie is the “perfect” child who listens and does what he is supposed to, and in the end he wins. Is this how life works? Nope. Is it still important to teach? Heck yes!

Wonka is such a wild and interesting character too. He’s a very old adult but doesn’t act like it who employs Oompa Loompa and pays them in cacoa beans. He has a giant workshop but no workers and wants to give a child his only life’s work. Yes, that makes so much sense… Not. But it’s believable in this book, because he’s so wild and zany… I’d love to see a perfect adaption of this book – word for word, picture for picture, etc.

The language, dark humour and sarcasm in this book also make it absolutely hilarious. Snozzberries gets me every time! And Wonka’s absolutely amazing sarcasm against the children… Well, it’s mean but it’s funny. So funny. I found myself giggling at how ridiculous some of the comments were, yet I still loved it all the same.

Either way, this book is amazing! I wish I would have read it as a kid but reading it as an adult was so much funnier! Amazingly enough, this book only took me two days to finish.

Five out of five stars!

I need some more Roald Dahl in my life!

 

Find this book on:

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Amazon.com

 

Check out some more reviews and books you might enjoy:

#BookReview Snowman Paul Returns to the Winter Olympics by Yossi Lapid

#BookReview HughTube by Richard Clark

#BookReview Unlimited by Kevin Miller

 

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#BookReview Coming Out by Danielle Steel

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I found Coming Out by Danielle Steel at a local store that typically does not sell books. It was on sale, probably cheaper than it should have been yet it was in excellent shape! I always wanted to read something by Danielle Steel but never seemed to remember to pick up a book by her whenever I was out looking, so I decided to purchase this book.

This book was made in 2006, but it felt more along the lines of the 80s or 90s due to some of the comments within the book. There never seems to be a strict date of when this book is set, but some of the opinions don’t seem to be that of 2006 (or maybe my hometown was just way more open at that time). The comments about how bad tattoos are seem to date this book more than intended too, seeing as it is 2018 and tattoos seem to be everywhere and widely accepted. If anything, that would be my biggest con for this book! It dates itself with the opinions within!

I did really enjoy this book – it was a light, dramatic read that I could easily put down and pick it back up. The story follows a rich, upper class family as they intend to go to an exclusive ball in New York. The twin daughters are on opposing sides (one wants to go, the other doesn’t and decides to rebel), the Mother wants to go, the step Father doesn’t, and so on and so forth. There is some romantic drama, some family drama, some “rich” drama, and it all seems to work well within the story.

That being said, this book is hit and miss – if you don’t mind reading about privileged rich people with silly problems, it’s a good read! I didn’t mind that they complained about simple yet silly things, in fact I found it to be fluffy and funny at times. It felt like a soap opera I would watch on T.V. back in high school. The soap opera side is what kept me hooked, to be brutally honest. The drama was over the top, the reactions were big, and it felt like the perfect, stormy day read.

The book is relatively short and moves at a good pace to keep you interested. That is what also kept me interested in this book. I didn’t think that the book felt too long or too short. To me, the book was the perfect length. I also really liked that the title of the book has multiple meanings in the book! Tied in with that title, the ending took me by surprise! The ending did seem to suddenly stop, but Danielle tied in one of the small plot points to finish this book up.

Overall, I think this book was cute and is a nice, soft read. It is in it’s own little niche, so reader beware!!

Three out of five stars!

 

Check out of this book on:

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Amazon.ca

 

If you enjoyed this book or review, why not check out another you might enjoy? #BookReview Jeep Tour by Gail Ward Olmsted

 

Give me a shout out on Twitter with your book recommendations! I’d love to hear them! @ReviewAlholic

 

 

 

Photo via Goodreads.

#BookReview Stolen by Kelley Armstrong

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Kelley Armstrong is one of my favourite authors, and not just because she’s Canadian! Her Women of the Otherworld series has always and will always knock my socks off!

This novel follows Elena yet again, but as the title suggests – this time she is “Stolen”. This book amps up the action, making it equal (if not better) to the original “Bitten” novel. I found this book so strong as a sequel, that it was really hard not picking up the third book immediately after this one! Elena and her pack, as well as the rest of the ladies that eventually lead this series, are a force to be reckoned with! Kelley knows how to write her characters strong and passionate!

This series is definitely for adults (although, there is a YA series if you’re interested…), due to some of the brutality the story can get into. It’s not an R rated novel, but the themes are better suited for adults (some mature YA audiences could easily read it, I know I originally read these as a teenager).

I also really enjoy Elena and Clay together. Their relationship isn’t the smoothest, and it has it’s rocky moments, but they work really well together. Knowing that their relationship builds well over multiple books, I can look back and be impressed with how Kelley built them over time. The other characters and their relationships are also very strong, but these two really shine in the Elena books.

Kelley will pull you in and have you hooked almost instantly. If you haven’t read anything by her, get on it! I love this author, and she always meets my expectations and surpasses them!

If there was one series I’d highly recommend, it’s this series! It has drama, action, adventure, romance and comedy all packaged into a fantastic Canadian series! It’s well worth the read, and worth every penny I’ve spent on this series (even when I accidentally bought doubles and triples of the books, because I forgot the order…whoops!). If I did have one recommendation, try not to read this series far apart from each other. I find it’s a great binge read, because the story is so full of lore and excitement!

And if you couldn’t get enough of this series, there’s a television show based off of the book (it’s pretty close for first season, but second and third are loosely based – but it’s still incredble!).

Five out of five stars! Can I make that six out of five? No? Darn. I guess it’ll stick to five!

 

Check out this book on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11922.Stolen

Or purchase this book on: Amazon.com or Amazon.ca

 

If you enjoyed this review, why not check out another book you might enjoy? Quick Book Reviews: Menagerie by Rachel Vincent

And while you’re at it, follow me on Twitter to stay up to date with my latest reading antics! @ReviewAlholic

#BookReview HughTube by Richard Clark

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HughTube is a fantastic read about a 14 year old child starting a blog (or personal reality television show). This funny yet simple story was a great read that would be well suited for the middle grade audience. It’s silly, modern and full of awesome surprises! Richard Clark continues to do a fantastic job writing in the mind of a child and connecting with his readers!

Hugh follows his schoolmates around while filming his blog, leading to hilarious shenanigans fit for any elementary school! Our lead is an awkward eighth grader who is trying to learn how to go about his life (and how to adapt to school). When everyone catches on and begins acting for the camera, things really get strange! Can you imagine a principal doing a crazy dance for the camera?!

This book is definitely a comedy book for the middle grade readers. You could read this book for fun, or for a nice switch up for your bedtime reading (for your younger kids). It’s definitely G rated and full of innocent, yet goofy situations.

I think this is a great read that is unique yet following the trends. It’s definitely a must read that I’d recommend for those kids who don’t want to read the same old, same old fairy tale!

Four out of five stars for this fun book!

 

Find out more about this book, HughTube, on:

Goodreads – Hugh Tube

Amazon.com – HughTube

Amazon.ca – HughTube

 

Check out another book by Richard Clark, The F.L.U.B Club on:

Goodreads – The FLUB Club

Amazon.com – The F.L.U.B. Club

Amazon.ca – The F.L.U.B. Club

 

Find out more about Pandora’s Lunch Box: Don’t Open by Richard Clark on:

Goodreads – Pandora

Amazon.com – Pandora

Amazon.ca – Pandora

 

Check out the author Richard Clark on:

Twitter – @RClarkBTD

www.mybestfriendsecretagent.com

Facebook

 

Check out another amazing book by Richard Clark My Best Friend Is a Secret Agent:

Goodreads – Secret Agent

Amazon.com – Secret Agent

Amazon.ca – Secret Agent

 

Find out more about another book by Richard Clark, 8th Grade Fugitive on:

Goodreads – 8th Grade Fugitive

Amazon.com – 8th Grade Fugitive

Amazon.ca – 8th Grade Fugitive

 

Find out more about A Dog of My Own by Richard Clark on:

Goodreads – A Dog of My Own

Amazon.com – A Dog of My Own

Amazon.ca – A Dog of My Own

 

If you enjoyed the review, check out another book you might enjoy! #BooKReview Hercufleas by Sam Gayton

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

#BookReview Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

I have been wanting to read books by Agatha Christie for years, yet whenever I made it to a bookstore I would get lost in the aisles and forget about my desires. Luckily for me, Kennett Branagh decided to remake Murder on the Orient Express. The movie was fantastic and everything I wanted it to be, which gave me perfect reason to find the book and give it a shot! And it was INCREDIBLE.

I’m amazed by how talented Agatha Christie was. The pure talent for writing shown in this book is so shocking, and it makes me desperate to read every other book she has written. Hopefully, I’ll be able to find them in my adventures!

This book is the 10th novel in the series, but it is very easy to pick up and start reading. I had no issue being pulled into the story and not wanting to put the book down. The language is a bit old fashioned (since it’s an older book) so there may be a disconnect for some present readers, but that seemed to be the only issue I could find when I picked this book apart.

In short, the plot for this book is there is a murder on the Orient Express train and Hercule Poirot (a wildly famous detective) is determined to solve it. The twist? Multiple suspects aboard a stalled train.

The book is fun, fast paced and wildly addicting. If you love a good mystery, trying to solve this story is absolutely delightful! Everyone has an alibi and Poirot can only find out information by asking questions and looking at their reactions (because…GASP!…there’s no electronic devices in the time period this book is set in). I knew the ending already from watching the movie, but trying to pick out the evidence that led to Hercule’s final thoughts was so much fun! I scrambled along the way and enjoyed every second of this book.

Overall, this book is a great read! If you want to read a classic, a mystery or just a fun book I really suggest this one! It’ll keep you hooked and make your head spin in circles.

Five out of five stars!

 

Check this book out on:
Goodreads – Murder on the Orient Express

Amazon.ca – Murder on the Orient Express
Amazon.com – Murder on the Orient Express

 

What is your favourite “classic” read? Comment below!

Did you enjoy this book review? Check out another you might enjoy! #BookReview The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort

If you read this review, give me a shoutout on twitter using the following hashtags: #BriarsReviews #OrientExpress Briar’s Reviews on Twitter @ReivewAlholic

#BookReview The F.L.U.B. Club by Richard Clark

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What happens when a kid wants to become a billionaire? Well, they create a club, of course! Marty Gundy wants to be REALLY rich, so he made a club called FIUB (but it turned into FLUB) so all of the future internet ultra-billionaires could hang out! Marty is a tech whiz, which is why he will eventually be super duper rich.

I love this book because as a kid I always wanted to create a really cool school club or be apart of one. It attaches to those feelings that most kids have. Richard Clark has done this in every book I’ve read by him so far – he knows how to write in the mind of a child and really connect and identify with the reader.

Now, this story is SHORT. It’s sweet and to the point, which makes it an excellent bedtime read for your youngings! It’s also enjoyable for adults, but it really meets the children’s novel/middle grade inbetween transition age where you want to read more advanced books but don’t want to commit to a long story. I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I liked Richard’s other books, but I did think it was fun and a definite must read for anyone looking for a story to read their child! I highly recommend this book!

Overall, I thought this story was fun! It’s cute, funny and really smart! I’d love for more children’s books to be full of this level of intelligence!

Three out of five stars.

 

Check out this book, The F.L.U.B Club on:

Goodreads – The FLUB Club

Amazon.com – The F.L.U.B. Club

Amazon.ca – The F.L.U.B. Club

 

Find out more about Pandora’s Lunch Box: Don’t Open by Richard Clark on:

Goodreads – Pandora

Amazon.com – Pandora

Amazon.ca – Pandora

 

Check out the author Richard Clark on:

Twitter – @RClarkBTD

www.mybestfriendsecretagent.com

Facebook

 

Check out another amazing book by Richard Clark My Best Friend Is a Secret Agent:

Goodreads – Secret Agent

Amazon.com – Secret Agent

Amazon.ca – Secret Agent

 

Find out more about another book by Richard Clark, 8th Grade Fugitive on:

Goodreads – 8th Grade Fugitive

Amazon.com – 8th Grade Fugitive

Amazon.ca – 8th Grade Fugitive

 

Find out more about A Dog of My Own by Richard Clark on:

Goodreads – A Dog of My Own

Amazon.com – A Dog of My Own

Amazon.ca – A Dog of My Own

 

If you enjoyed the review, check out another book you might enjoy! #BooKReview Hercufleas by Sam Gayton

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