#BookReview Life of Pi by Yann Martel

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I have been yearning to read this book for a long time. Everyone I spoke to was obsessed with this book to the n-th degree, so I figured I might feel the same way once I read it.

I was highly mistaken.

I found this book to be slow moving and boring, even though it is well written. This book was just not for me (which happens, by the way. Not every reader has to like every book ever written). That being said, I still wanted to give it a quality review. For me, the stars are low – but keep in mind this book is still excellent and the idea was intriguing.

To keep the plot short: A boy is trapped on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger after his family was trying to move their zoo animals across the sea. Tragedy strikes, and now Pi (our lead) is stuck with Richard Parker (our cat).

I found that this story went in many different directions. At first, this story seemed to be all about animals and how Pi’s father ran a zoo. I thought there might be more information in regards to him opening a zoo in the future, or having some great story arc involving it. Unfortunately, this didn’t go very far. It seemed to just be an introduction into the character rather than making it an integral part of the story (except for the animals on the lifeboat, of course). Then religion is thrown into the mix!! Pi enjoys practicing three different religions and this causes strife with his family, and then the plot point is essentially gone. There could have been lots of room for improvement in this discussion further along in the book, but all we get is that Pi is “praying” a lot. To me, having all of these opportunities to follow through with these plot lines was a bit of a waste. Why just have these points as an intro to the character? Why not use them to your advantage?

I also found this book to be SO FREAKING SLOW AND BORING. It’s inspirational, but when it’s close to two hundred pages of “stuck on a boat, send help, I am praying, there’s a tiger, i need to drink water” over and over, it gets a little tiring.

When I look at other reviews and theories about this book, I understand the theme is about religion. You can pick your story to follow God – just like picking apart this book. There’s multiple stories to follow, and you can pick the one you like. I don’t know how I feel about this theme and the way it is presented, but it worked.

This book also has some gore in it, so if you don’t want to read about an animal being ripped apart in description then this book might not be for you!!

Pros:
1. The chapters are short – I like when books don’t make long chapters. Having a chapter that lasts one hundred pages tires me out. Having the opportunity to stop where I want to with a small chapter is a nice quality about this book.

2. The cover – The cover is absolutely gorgeous. It’s simple, it’s colourful and it gets to the point. I appreciate a well thought out cover.

3. Beautiful language – Yann Martel can present a scene well with his words. There are some moments in this book where I got lost in his choice of words.

Cons:

1. Slow and Steady doesn’t always win the race.

2. Religion. This seems like a bad place to put it, but I know many people who would lose their minds having religion be a theme in the book (some would have it as an AMAZING PRO). That being said, I’m putting it in cons because of the strife it may cause some readers. There’s also times I think that religion was mentioned to much, like the author was trying to hit us over the head with it. Just because you leave religion out for one page doesn’t mean we’ll forget about it!

3. The story drags with the same thoughts and concepts.

Overall, this book was not my cup of tea. It is beautifully written and was a unique take on religion I hadn’t seen before. I had high hopes and expectations for this book, but it didn’t bode well for me. I blame a lot of the really great reviews and everyone saying it was the best book ever to make me have such high expectations, but putting the blame on them really won’t get me anywhere, will it?

Two out of five stars.

 

Did you enjoy this review? Why not check out another you might enjoy? #BookReview Hope Has Two Daughters by Monia Mazigh

Check out Yann Martel on twitter! @WriterYann

Give me a shoutout on twitter! @ReviewAlholic

 

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#BookReview Throne of Grace by Cecily Wolf

Time for a quick book review!!

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Throne of Grace is one of the only Christian romance novels I have read. I saw it was free on Amazon, and I decided I might as well pick up a different type of book.

The book is sweet and simple, if I’m putting it lightly. The historical aspect made it seem so much sweeter than I expected it to be, and to be honest I didn’t mind the religion aspect of it. I didn’t find it to be “in your face”, which was a pleasant surprise.

I found the relationship to build up a little quickly, but that is more of a personal comment. Reading other reviews, I’ve found most people haven’t mind this aspect (since I haven’t read many Christian romance books, I’m not sure if this is normal or not, but it worked). I also enjoyed the drama and other relationships within this book. It was unique and made the story much more than just a “romance” book. If anything, my only request would be to make the book move faster, but the relationship a little slower.

Overall, this book was a nice, clean book.

Three out of five stars.

 

What is your favourite Christian romance? Comment below!

Did you enjoy this review? Check out another you might enjoy! #BookReview Pop Sonnets by Erik Didriksen

Use the hashtags #BriarsReviews and #ThroneofGrace to talk start a conversation about this book on twitter! @ReviewAlholic

#BookReview Craving Flight by Tamsen Parker

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Tziporrah and Elan are another hit pair by Tamsen Parker!

To say this story is unique is an understatement! It’s rare for me to read a book involving some heavy erotica mixed with religion, but yet again Tamsen blows readers’s expectations out of the water.

You can tell this is one of Tamsen’s earlier novels – it’s written beautifully, but it’s not as awesome as her newer ones. Her skill has grown so much, that if you haven’t read some of her newer readers, please pick it up after this book! This novel was fantastic, but her skill is continually growing.

To pick apart this book, it’s an emotional roller coaster full of romance, self doubt and change. In so few pages, Tamsen is able to weave some fantastic story telling to introduce us to a woman who seems so down on herself. She finds her religion, gets married and tries to live the life she wants to – yet it’s just not that perfect. I felt so strongly for this woman, and at times I hated Elan with a passion. He slowly grows on you, but I still felt frustrated with some of his behaviour. I would love to see Tzipporah grow more, but in under 200 pages Tamsen did a fantastic job of growing her character.

BDSM is a big part of this novel (and it seems to have more sex scenes in it than most erotica books I’ve read, percentage wise anyways). The romance isn’t as big of a focus as the BDSM and strange relationship the main couple have. That being said, I liked that it was so different and wasn’t just focused on some heavy romance. While I was frustrated with some of the situations, that just showed up skilled Tamsen is as a writer. She made me feel so passionately for Tzipporah which many other writers struggle to do.

Overall, I liked this book! It’s unique and made me think. Also, everytime Elan said “little bird” it killed me a little on the inside because it seems so cute!

Five out of five stars.

 

Comment below with your favourite unique romance novel!
If you enjoyed this book review, check out another you might enjoy! #BookReview #OnTheBrinkofPassion by Tamsen Parker

 

If you read this review, use the hashtags #BriarsReviews #CravingFlight on twitter!

Check out Tamsen Parker on her website: http://www.tamsenparker.com/ or on twitter @TamsenParker

Buy it now from Amazon:

Amazon Canada – Craving Flight

Amazon US – Craving Flight

#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.

#BookReview Three Summers by D.N. Maynard

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Three Summers by D.N. Maynard

Three Summers is a young adult centered novel about the coming of age of our main character Nathan. You follow his story as he bonds with his cousin Dennis over many years (or three non-consecutive summers).

This story would be a good fictional read for someone who wants a book aimed towards Young Adult readers. I found this book didn’t keep me hooked to it that easily, but I did enjoy the writing style. The story has a slow moving pace and very little “action” in it. This book would be a much better read for someone just wanting to get their mind off life for a little while. It’s not a crazy action/adventure, or a thriller, or horror, or even drama. It’s just a coming of age tale that’s very slow moving and doesn’t create much interest in my eyes.

But this story is beautifully written. D.N Maynard clearly has a knack for writing. This story might be better placed as a high school reading project rather than a big hitting best seller. The nostalgia and faith aspects of the novel can make for a great essay-esque book. The story is also set in the past with the nearest timeline being in the 90s.

Overall, this story about maturing in life was well written, but I didn’t find it to wow my socks off. For that reason, I’m going to give it a 2 out of 5. It is still an excellent read, but my personal view on it is a solid 2.

Book Review: Handling Strife – Ideas for Happier Living by David Butcher

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Photo via Goodreads.

Book Review
Book Title: Handling Strife: Ideas for Happier Living
Author: David M. Butcher
Date Read: October 12th – October 23rd, 2016
Date Reviewed: October 23rd, 2016

Introduction: I received this book as an uncorrected advance copy for an honest review. I decided to pick this book up because I wanted a little non-fiction in my life, but it turns out I also got a splash of religion (specifically Christianity).

Quick Summary: This book is not only about handling strife, but pretty much every topic you can imagine a person might deal with – hate, love, trust, guilt, shame, honesty, happiness, jealousy, envy, price, the bible, the afterlife, music, control, truth, and more. The book talks a lot about Christianity, and the author gives his opinion a lot. There are also lots of stories shared about his personal experiences and other’s experiences. If you do not want to read one man’s specific opinions on all of the topics listed above, this book is not for you.

Quick Review: I did not enjoy this book, but not for the reason you might think. I tossed the entire religion aspect out of the door – I would not judge this book based on this man’s religious beliefs. I have read many books with many different religious views and they have been wonderful. I didn’t like this book because this writer is not exactly culturally friendly. His choice in wording makes this book sink all the way to a simple one star review. This book could have been a much higher star if he treaded carefully with his wording in some situations. I knew what he meant, but what he said might not go well with other readers. So, readers beware. There are lots of opinions and bad choices in the wording department.

For a slight change in my review format, I’m going to go chapter by chapter. I read this book twice, the first time through I tried to write my normal formatted review and it was incredibly hard – I had lots of criticism and lots of love depending on the chapter. So, I’m going to go chapter by chapter for this book so my followers/readers can get a much better understanding of why my rating is so low.

Chapter 1: Idea #1 Walk in Truth
This chapter started off pretty well. I was impressed with this man’s view on truth and how to ensure you do not lie. This is a great lesson for people! Being honest is a great way to live (when it’s appropriate). But, of course, the choice of wording did not exactly turn out well in this chapter. He mentions how you should always be honest, such as if your wife is wearing a dress you don’t like, tell her to change so her dress matches her highlights (which you do like). This didn’t sit well with me. What if his wife liked that dress? Should she have to change because you don’t like her dress? If she asked your opinion and she didn’t like the dress, perhaps that honesty would work well here, but the situation is iffy. Overall, this sentence made my view change for this whole chapter.

Chapter 2: Idea #2 Be Real
Another good idea to live by, but the author’s wording yet again had me wondering what his ideal thought of “being real” is. He discusses the subconscious wants, needs and desires, and then begins to talk about the “perfect life”. A spouse must “always” look good, they must never disagree with them, they must keep the house clean and do the laundry before it’s needed. Well, okay, that might be in his household but that doesn’t always stand true for everyone. The wording for this made it seem like everyone’s spouse must do this, so I wasn’t impressed. The chapter continues to go on with poor wording choice, such as the fact that not having enough money is never a catastrophe. I would disagree with that statement, to a degree. If you consider how some countries do not have health care, if you could not afford your treatment it would be a catastrophe. If you lost your home, your car, your career, and even more because you are so sick you cannot go on and cannot afford health care, I would feel like that could be a catastrophe. It was simply poor wording choice, and it could have been worded like “not having enough for extras in your life” could have worked better to get his point across. The final part of this chapter that got my blood boiling was how he talked about children. I don’t have any, but I work with lots of children so I didn’t appreciate this wording choice. He questioned anyone who is a parent and if they loved their child at all (poor wording choice) and then continued to ask about loving them to consider their feelings before punishing them. Again, good point – don’t yell and swear at them to hurt their feelings and teach them a valuable life lessons – but poor wording.

Chapter 3: Idea #3 Get Rid of Guilt and Shame
In this chapter, David did an excellent job of describing the difference between guilt and shame. They are definitely two very different concepts that can be mistaken for one another, and I applaud his descriptions and explanations. Although, yet again, the wording choice or lack of explanation further on left me feeling cheated. Our author tells a story of a man he used to know, he killed someone and then decided to change his life after he got out of jail. He got married, got a job, went to church and became a good man. As a picky reader, does this make a good man? I would need much more explanation, since I know a lot of married people with jobs that go to church that are not necessarily “good people”, but his definition of a “good person” may not be mine. This man could have made an honest mistake and actually be a wonderful person, but David lets on that this man is not good, so I felt confused. Eventually David explains a “bad person” – people who kill (okay, sounds reasonable in some situations), people who gamble (this can be a problem/addiction for people, but they are not necessarily bad people for this…) and people who smoke and drink (doesn’t necessarily mean someone is bad, I know smokers and drinkers/alcoholics who are wonderful people). There are many different levels of “bad”, and I feel like if he wanted to discuss bad people, discussing the levels could have made a better distinction between murderers and recreational drinkers.

Chapter 4: Idea #4 Take Control
The author’s stories and situations are very out there in this chapter. He explains why becoming angry is a bad thing – it can escalate to the point you will start killing people left and right, so never get angry. He also paints his parents as horrible people in this chapter, and explains how as a small child he corrected their behaviour. This entire chapter I felt like it wasn’t necessarily truthful, or it was missing explanations as to how these make sense, but that’s just my opinion.

Chapter 5: Idea #5 Eliminate Worry and Fear
I overall liked this chapter, minus one sentence. He explains how getting rid of useless worry and fear will help you get over strife, which is a great lesson for people. I tend to worry a lot and I got a lot out of this chapter! Except for one point, he describes how he went on a trip and knew the trip would be over when “God” let him run out of money. I’m not sure that’s exactly how a trip works (you usually plan to be there for a certain number of days and bring money for just in case situations where you need more…but hey, what do I know?).

Chapter 6: Idea #6 Envy, Jealousy and Pride
As a writer/reader/reviewer/editor, this chapter left me with my blood boiling. David M. Butcher explains how envy and jealousy are the same thing (they are not, they are similar but definitely not the same). He then continues to belittle cooks and welfare recipients (I don’t know how these two are similar, but apparently they are) and says they need to change and become better. I believe he meant this as a situational story, but I felt like something had been left out during the writing process. Some people on welfare are actively trying to get better but may just be in a bad spot (I know many like this, trying to get a job or losing one due to a horrible circumstance that was not related to them) and I know many cooks who are great people who do not need to “change” to be better.

Chapter 7: Idea #7 Love and Hate
This chapter is half amazing and half bad wording. Bad wording first – all women look for princes, according to this author, and all will be disappointed when they get a regular man. I wouldn’t necessarily agree with this, not all women want a knight in shining armor (perhaps young girls do, but that’s conditioning from society, but hey, that’s another issue). And then the good wording – David discusses learning to love ourselves. Society conditions us to learn to love and accept others, but not ourselves. This is truly important, especially with mental health issues in today’s society. I will give major props, and that specific part of this chapter deserves six out of five stars.

Chapter 8: Idea #8 Be Happy
This whole chapter was incredible, no poor wording at all! David discusses that being happy takes effort – you need to decide to be happy. If anything, I would have added more to this chapter – such as everyday will not always be a ten on the scale of one to ten of happiness, sometimes it will only be a one.

Chapter 9: Idea #9 Learn To Trust
This chapter had a lot of strange stories about learning to trust prayer – if you pray, in three days something good will happen. One woman got a random item out of a catalog that she didn’t order in three days, one man got a $200 Jesus status given to him, etc, etc. And if it doesn’t come in three days, wait a year or so, it’ll happen! Not necessarily true, but hey, this author is trying to get people to trust in time and patience, so kudos to him.

Chapter 10: Idea #10 Spreading Fear and Hate
I liked this chapter a lot, and the author had great examples. Some of them were a bit out there, but it got the point across that some people spread fear and hate, and it’s important to try to not be one of those people.

Chapter 11: Idea #11 The Bible
This chapter explained a bit of how the bible has changed from religion to religion and why it was separated into parts. I found it interesting, but it didn’t necessarily need to be in a book that talked about handling stress and strife in your life.

Chapter 12: Idea #12 One God?
If anything, I just wanted to call out a great Shakespearean reference to Romeo and Juliet – the rose by any other name reference was a great way to allude to other works but get the point across – great job David!

Chapter 13: Idea #13 Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin?
This is the chapter where readers should really beware. It is the best chapter of the book for me, since it explains how people preach the bible yet don’t exactly follow what they preach – but the author does the same thing here. He preaches that women should be given the option to have an abortion, but then he contradicts himself in saying get the women lots of help to not get the abortion at all. Contradictory, but it is a literal example of what he is discussing. He also compares how people are against sexuality and other choices (because of bible versions) but the bible also says to not cut yourself or dress up as the other gender, yet we let people get tattoos, women wear pants and men get ear piercings.

Chapter 14, 15, 16, & 17
These final chapters are very short and don’t seem to apply at all to the title of this book – handling strife. Life after death, music, loving Jesus and the Kingdom of God are discussed. It’s an interesting selection of chapters, but seem redundant and repetitive in my opinion.

Final Thoughts:
David has some great references – such as Halloweentown and Captain America, as well as Shakespeare and the Bible. I didn’t like this book due to the contradictory nature of David’s words, but I did find it helpful and insightful. The book is opinionated, so reader’s need to beware when reading. You are not going to agree with all of David’s thoughts, but you may get something out of this book. To me, it seemed like a large collections of sermons piled into one book, but it wasn’t exactly culturally sensitive.

One out of five stars due to the cultural insensitivity and contradictory nature of the novel.

April Anthology Book Review: A Cup of Roses, Stories by 8 Writers by Fiona Gold Kroll

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Photo via Goodreads.

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.