#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 The Longing by Wendy Lindstrom

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The Longing was a beautiful historical romance novel that kept me wanting more!

The novel follows a marriage of convenience between Kyle Grayson and the beautiful Amelia. When they find themselves married and unsure of where they romance would go, drama ensues.

Not only does this book follow the romance, but it follows a bit of woodworking business as well! This novel is great for anyone who loves a good romance that is not just purely romance, but wants an emotional ride.

This book is part of a series, so I found some of the references confusing. But, you do not need to read the rest of the series to fully understand the book. Wendy Lindstrom does a good job feeding in the information you need to know as it comes. If you have read the series, some of the plot twists will probably be easier to predict, but it’s not a major problem in the book.

I found the book to be a little slow, but I am used to fast paced romance in fast paced genres. It’s a slow read, but it’s emotional and dramatic, which helps this slow plot develop.

I would definitely read the rest of the series after picking up this book! I saw no major plot errors and the character development is drawn out well over the novel. Fantastic novel!

I rate this four out of five stars because of the slow moving plot. It does not hinder the story, but it makes it harder to stick to the book. If anything, that would be the only potential problem I can knick-pick about!

This book would be great for anyone who loves: historical romance, romance in general, emotional and dramatic reads (such as The Fault in Our Stars – but in an adult genre instead of YA), and historical fiction in general.

Four out of five stars!

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

What is your favourite historical romance book? Comment below!
If you loved this book, then I highly suggest this book: #BookReview The Proper Proposal (A Regency Romance) by Sophy Hester

Use the hashtags #BriarsReviews and #GraysonBrothers on twitter to start a conversation! @ReviewAlholic

#BookReview Single Chicas by Sandra C. Lopez

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Single Chicas by Sandra C. Lopez is a fabulous anthology full of heart warming, heart breaking and funny stories about latina women!

This is one of those gems you don’t find too often – a series of stories that you can relate to, even if it’s not about you. The collection ranges from stories about a brother getting married and changing, to a woman trying to figure out why she wasn’t “perfect” enough since her boyfriend dumped her, to a studious girl nicknamed “Virgin Mary” as a joke. The stories tell many different views of a woman’s life, and it was just so fantastic! Even when I couldn’t relate fully to one of the story’s, it felt like it matched many of my friends.

I highly recommend this collection! The stories are short yet sweet, and can easily be binged or taken one piece at a time. It’s a feel good series of stories that make will make you proud to be a woman (or know strong women)!

My favourite was definitely the first story, where the sister is wondering why Benny (her brother, Benito) is marrying a girl he barely knows. It feels like the relationship could be not only siblings, but when you question a close friend’s choicest since you know them so well.

All of the stories ranged from a 3 star to a 5 star rating (the ones I related to obviously being higher) but they all were fabulously written and a delight to read. I was never bored and never wanted to put the book down! There were definitely some Latina/Latino themes within this book, and I think they were addressed well! I don’t fit into that community, but reading the stories gave me a real insight into some of the traditions (and sometimes issues) that come from their lives. Seeing the rebellion and the changes in the women was relatable even if you aren’t in that community. I think it approaches the themes in a mature fashion, and it’s easy to read, relate to and understand.

You’ll want to pick up this series if you like – comedy, a splash of romance, drama, women’s fiction, or general fiction. The stories are rather sweet and thoughtful, and won’t bring your day down at all. I highly recommend it, and it is a definite must read in my mind!

Five out of five stars! I will definitely be on the lookout for more books and pieces of work by Sandra C. Lopez in the future!

I received a free copy of this book from the author Sandra C. Lopez in exchange for an honest review.

 

Check out this book on:

Goodreads – Single Chicas

Amazon.com – Single Chicas

Amazon.ca – Single Chicas

Check out Sandra C. Lopez on:

Goodreads – Sandra C. Lopez

Sandra-Lopez.com

 

Comment below – have you read this book yet? Do you plan too?
And give me a shout out on Twitter if you read this post! #BriarsReviews @ReviewAlholic

#BookReview A Week In New York by Louise Bay

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A Week In New York is an addicting, romantic read that will sweep you off your feet.

This book was FANTABULOUS! Yes, fantastic and fabulous all in one! It was full of romance, some super sexy and erotic scenes, and kept me hooked to every single word on every single page.

Anna is trying to get over a nasty break-up, and in walks Ethan – a super hot, super rich man who can fulfill her every desire. But, she has rules! She isn’t going to go into another relationship, since the last one didn’t go to well. Yet, something builds between them – something hot and desirable. A Week in New York follows these characters and their antics while Anna is in New York (hence, the title).

The book is mega hot – there’s sexy, erotic scenes that will get your heart racing! It’s not the dirtiest or most R rated I’ve read, but it’s still really hot! The down and dirty time is written well and will get you heated! There’s more sex than romance, but it is a nice fit between these two characters. Their chemistry makes this sort of relationship work well, but that’s because Louise Bay is a fantastic writer. She develops their relationship really well within the constraints of one short novel. I honestly can’t wait to see how this pair develops in the future installments.

I also really enjoyed the references throughout this novel – they are romantic yet nerdy references that really added to the story. It makes it feel more real than it is.

My only con is – WHAT THE HECK WAS THAT ENDING?! A cliffhanger?! Louise Bay wants to kill me! I HAVE to keep reading this series after she had me fall in love with these characters and want to know what happens to Anna and Ethan! What a jerk she is! Being a good writer and making me want more!

I would highly recommend this sexy novel to anyone who loves romance and erotica. It’s also a short read and highly addicting, so if you’re looking for a simple novel to read in one sitting – you’ve found it!

Five out of five stars! Holy heck, that was hot!

I read this book from the anthology “A Love Thing”.

 

Purchase this book on:

Amazon.com – Amazon.com – A Week in New York

Amazon.ca – Amazon.ca – A Week In New York

 

Find this book on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22428861.A_Week_in_New_York

Find out more about Louise Bay on her website: http://www.louisebay.com/

Or give us both a shout out on Twitter! @LouisesBay & @ReviewAlholic

 

Comment below with your fave romance novel!
And while you’re at it, check out another review you might enjoy:

#BookReview Rogue Hearts (Anthology) by Tamsen Parker, Amy Jo Cousins, and more

#BookReview Vi by Kim Thúy

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Kim Thúy’s beautiful short story, Vi, is a must read for fiction lovers!

I won’t lie, the fact that this book is so short was what drew me to it. I needed a quick read to keep me occupied while I was in a waiting room and this book was short enough to devour in one sitting. While this book might lack in quantity, it hits a real punch on the quality. I’m honestly surprised Kim is not a bigger author, because this book was mind-blowingly awesome. And yes, I am making mind-blowingly a word.

The cultural impact is probably the best part of this novel. Often, you can see silly cultural stereotypes in novels but this one did it right. You could tell Kim knew what she was talking about with the depth and nature of her words. It didn’t feel cheap or obnoxious, it felt oddly satisfying to read about another culture that was not my own. Watching Vi’s story take place over these pages was a fantastic adventure, since Kim wove her words so beautifully and made this story dance in my mind. I absolutely loved it!

I would have liked a better ending, I found it kind of “blah” compared to the rest of the novel. This book had me hooked and obsessed with Vi’s journey and then the end just fell…well, flat. I would have liked something more. That was my only real issue with this novel. It is a translation (and my copy was an ARC) so there were some weird sentences with the translation but that wasn’t a con for me. I moved passed those issues really easily when reading it.

Overall, this charming read is a great option if you want a story that will move you and impact your understanding of culture. I 100% recommend this book!

Four out of five stars.

I received an ARC of this book through Goodreads First Reads.

 

If you read this review, use the hashtags #BriarsReviews & #Vi on twitter! @ReviewAlholic

Check out Kim Thúy on Goodreads! https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3152466.Kim_Th_y

If you enjoyed this review, check out another you might enjoy! #BookReview A Long Way Back by J. Everett Prewitt

Comment below with your most recent read!

#BookReview The Darkening by Maggie L Wood

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The Darkening was a thrilling sequel to the Divided Realms series.

I am so dishearted when I couldn’t find the third book of this series, because I was OBSESSED with this book series back in the day. I went to Borders (in the states) and bought the first two books. They were two of the first books I bought with my own money at a bookstore. Then, Borders left that mall and I thought I would never find the books again (since my local Canadian bookstores didn’t carry them, and I wasn’t aware at the time that I could order books).

The game of chess was the focus of this series, and that was so fascinating to me. There’s good and evil, light and dark, and pulls towards each direction.

The world building within this universe was fantastic, and to me it’s a definite must read.

Overall, I really want to pick up this series again but with the final book (it says it’s available online as an ebook but I’ve yet to find it. I’ll have to look a little harder!). Maggie L Wood was so talented and I really hope she writes more and has more books come out. The premise alone was unique!!

Five out of five stars.

 

Comment below your favourite YA novel!

If you enjoyed this review, check out another you might enjoy! #BookReview Saving Me by Sadie Allen

Tweet me with the hashtags #BriarsReviews and #DividedRealms if you read this review!

You can find Maggie L Wood on her website: http://www.maggielwood.com/

Check out The Darkening on Amazon:

Amazon.com The Darkening

#BookReview And The Wolf Shall Dwell by Joni Dee

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And the Wolf Shall Swell by Joni Dee

Summary:

Summary: John Daniel, just a regular Joe, a foreigner who works in the City of London, is entangled with a political plot which tracks all the way up the corridors of Westminster. Aided by retired MI6 agent Adam Grey, the duo will set off to an adventure which will take them throughout London. A nuclear threat, terrorism in Oxford Street, Israeli Mossad and the British government, are all working against them. Will they unravel the plot in time?


This thriller felt like a mix of Jason Bourne, James Bond, Man from U.N.C.L.E and Jack Reacher. It was a fast, thrilling ride that will keep you hooked until the last page!

The book is fictional, but felt oh so real. Joni Dee’s descriptions and plot lines mirror reality, which thoroughly impressed me. Additionally, the settings were so beautifully described – I felt like I was in London (and I’ve never been there before). Mixing in the well-written, well developed characters made this book all around fantastic. Joni Dee is someone to watch for the future, because this book rivals the top spy thrillers.

I really liken it to the new Man from U.N.C.L.E movie – it gave me those epic thriller vibes that had me hooked to that movie. The book was also just long enough that it kept me interested. There wasn’t anything I’d remove from the novel, and I wouldn’t ask for much more. Somehow, Joni managed to find that perfect medium (for me, anyways).

This isn’t a mind-blowing new genre, it’s pretty “typical” when it comes to the thrillers I’ve read. That being said, Joni has his unique spin on it that made this book feel like it’s own entity. If you’re looking for some new “spin” on the thriller genre, this book isn’t it. If you love spy and thriller novels, this book is perfect for you.

One element that was “missing” was romance, which some readers might not like. I felt like this book didn’t need romance, so Joni did well in that aspect. Almost every thriller or mystery novel I read, there is always some romantic element in there that doesn’t need to be. The tension between characters is awesome, but that lack of romance made this book go to a new level for me. Joni didn’t need to follow the stereotypical norms of these books, so A+ for Joni!

Overall, for a DEBUT NOVEL (seriously? That doesn’t even seem right! This book was so good!) I am blown out of the water. Five out of five stars for sure! Joni Dee needs to write WAAAAY more soon, because his talent is only going to sky rocket with each book he writes.

Five out of five stars!! A definite recommendation from this reviewer!

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


 

Message from the author: All “verified purchase” reviewers will enter a raffle to have 1 of 2 characters named after them in the sequel. see https://jondbooks.com for details.


Get this book on Amazon:

Amazon.ca

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

 

Find Joni Dee on his website: https://www.jondbooks.com/ or give Joni Dee and myself a shout-out on Twitter! @ydital  & Briar’s Reviews on Twitter: @ReviewAlholic

 

Comment below with your favourite spy thriller!!