Category Archives: Book Reviews

The Girl Who Said Sorry by Hayoung Yim

Title: The Girl Who Said Sorry
Author: Hayoung Yim
Illustrator: Marta M.
Genre: Children’s Fiction , Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Self-published
Publishing date: 5th of October 2017
ISBN: 9780993717482

Synopsis: Too girly or too boyish. Too thin or too fat. Too quiet, too loud. Be ambitious, but don’t hurt feelings. Be inquisitive, but don’t interrupt. Be outspoken, but don’t be bossy. Most of all, be yourself — but be a lady. What’s a girl to do in a world filled with contradicting gender expectations, aside from saying sorry?

My Review:

The Girl Who Said Sorry is a short and easy read, this is a book intended for 4 – 8 year olds. It does serve a good narrative for all the things that girls are told to do but not to do from an early age on. This is a picture book, and the illustrations are simplistic and colours are used sparingly. I think the design goes very well with the books theme.
This book does cover a topic in great need for coverage, and I think it that this book could definitely help both child and parent. This book could potentially help a little girl to get on the path of discovering herself.

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The Awakened Dreamer by Kala Ambrose

Title: The Awakened Dreamer
Author: Kala Ambrose
Genre: Nonfiction, Religion & Spirituality
Publisher: Llewellyn Publications
Publishing date: 8th of December 2017
ISBN: 9780738753119

Synopsis: Your dreams can be an important part of your decision-making, relationships, and problem solving—if you know how to properly use them. The Awakened Dreamer shows you how to remember your nightly dreams, interpret what they are telling you, and use daydreams to manifest your desires into reality.
Kala Ambrose helps you combine daydreams with powerful visualizations that can be channeled into your nightly dreams, strengthening the connection between your conscious and unconscious self. Learn how to use your mind, body, spirit connection to achieve your goals and discover valuable insight on different kinds of dreams, including recurring, teaching, visitation, and lucid dreaming.

My Review:

To start off I want to say that Llewellyn is my go to publisher when it comes to alternative books and spirituality, and The Awakened Dreamer did not disappoint.
This book can easily be used as a tool to understand your dream and even  help you remember your dream (because you dream every night regardless if you remember your dreams or not). The book is easy to read and provides clear instructions for how to dream and how to interpreter your dreams. The author manged create this book and instructions while coming across of genuine and down to earth, without seeming pompous.
I would recommend this book for anyone who wish to gain insight into understanding their dreams.

Kid Authors

Title: Kid Authors; True Tales of Childhood from Great Writers
Author: David Stabler
Genre: Children’s Nonfiction & Middle Grade
Publisher: Quirk Books
Publishing date: 10th of October 2017
ISBN: 9781594749872

Synopsis: The series that includes Kid Presidents, Kid Artists, and Kid Athletes now chronicles the lives of Kid Authors!
Here are true tales of famous writers, from long before they were famous—or even old enough to drive. Did you know:
• Sam Clemens (aka Mark Twain) loved to skip school and make mischief, with his best friend Tom, of course!
• A young J. R. R. Tolkien was bitten by a huge tarantula—or as he called it, “a spider as big as a dragon.”
• Toddler Zora Neale Hurston took her first steps when a wild hog entered her house and started chasing her!

My Review:

Kid Authors tells the stories of some great authors’ upbringing and how their childhood came to shape their fiction. The stories are made simple and straight forward making them easy to read and enjoy. J.K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkien, Edgar Allan Poe, Ronald Dahl, and Judy Blum are just some of the authors you get to drive into the childhood of. The red band that binds the stories together are how all these people had to face challenges, like childhood bullies, being orphaned or huge spiders, and the story shows how they still persevered. The stories are accompanied with simplistic illustrations illustrating events in each authors’ story. I found Kid Authors very entertaining even though it is intended for children, and I think may avid reads would enjoy to read this book in order to hear about the childhood of their favorite authors.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Title: The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Author: Neil Gaiman
Genre: Magical Realism
Publisher: William Morrow Books
Publishing date: 18th of June 2013
ISBN: 9780062255655
Purchase Link:

Synopsis:Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl

My Review:

The Ocean at the End of the Lane has been advertised as Neil Gaiman’s first book for adults since Anansi Boys. Reviewing a Gaiman book is always hard, because of the nature of his stories and how they might be intended for adults or children but their themes are so universal that they cannot be locked into either.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane was written for adults, but because we see the whole story though the retrospective eyes of a 7-year-old boy much of it reads like a children book. The story touches on human mortality and centralises the innocence of childhood where everything is magical and new. The story starts off slow, but the Gaiman stated that it starts off slow to deter young readers before things get to the grotesque parts.

The story sucked me in from page one, the nostalgic overtone of the story kept me interested and kept me reading. Following the story and feeling with the horror of childhood fears. As all Gaiman’s books “the Ocean at the End of the Lane” is instantly quotable, where Gaiman picks at the truth and reality of the human condition and mortality.

“I’m going to tell you something important. Grown-ups don’t look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they’re big and thoughtless and they always know what they’re doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. The truth is, there aren’t any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.”

I thoroughly enjoyed this story for beginning to end, even though it was a very short story. The characters felt real and I was sympathetic to the main character, and the ending came together in a beautiful bittersweet knot.

“And did I pass?”
The face of the old woman on my right was unreadable in the gathering dusk. On my left the younger woman said, “You don’t pass or fail at a being a person, dear.”

The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa

Title:The Travelling Cat Chronicles
Author: Hiro Arikawa
Genre: General Fiction, Literary Fiction
Publisher:Random House UK; Transworld Publishers; Doubleday
Publishing date: 2nd of November 2017
ISBN: 9780857524195

Synopsis:It’s not the journey that counts, but who’s at your side.
Nana is on a road trip, but he is not sure where he is going. All that matters is that he can sit beside his beloved owner Satoru in the front seat of his silver van. Satoru is keen to visit three old friends from his youth, though Nana doesn’t know why and Satoru won’t say.
Set against the backdrop of Japan’s changing seasons and narrated with a rare gentleness and striking humour, Nana’s story explores the wonder and thrill of life’s unexpected detours. It is about the value of friendship and solitude, and knowing when to give and when to take. TRAVELLING CAT has already demonstrated its power to move thousands of readers with a message of kindness and truth. It slows, above all, how acts of love, both great and small, can transform our lives.

This is a very delayed review, because it took me longer to finish this book than I anticipated.

My Review:

The Travelling Cat Chronicles is a charming and heartbreaking story about a cat and his owner traveling across Japan trying to find a new home for the cat. The story starts out, innocently, with the tomcat’s point of view, from before he knew his future owner Satoru, before the cat’s got a name.
Being a catlover this book sucked me right in from the very start. Nana (the cat) portrays a good picture of a cat, he is very much like the sarcastic and sassy way most cats will be described by their owners. And the voice of a feline is very much alive and personified in Nana.
As the story goes on Nana warms up and we learn more about Satoru and his past. The bond between Satoru and Nana grows with each chapter. While reading I did not want this book to end, I did not want to get to the final chapter and I had to take breaks from reading (Hence why this review is over a week later than I planned).
The end is inevitable, unless I quit reading the book, and it is heartbreaking. In order to avoid spoilers I will not discuss the ending of this book. However, I will warmly recommend this book to any catlover and anyone who enjoys Japanese literature, because this book hits home in both departments. From the first page, like with Murakami, you know you are reading a book translated from Japanese: it is just how the story is narrated, the way everything is described and the attention to vivid details that pops out at you. And going with a sarcastic, sassy and a little stoic cat, you can never go wrong.

Quiet Girl in a Noisy World by Debbie Tung

cover120802-mediumTitle: Quiet Girl in a Noisy World
Author: Debbie Tung
Genre: Graphic Novels
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Publishing date: 7th of November 2017
ISBN: 9781449486068
Purchase Link: amazon.co.uk

Synopsis: This illustrated gift book of short comics illuminates author Debbie Tung’s experience as an introvert in an extrovert’s world. Presented in a loose narrative style that can be read front to back or dipped into at one’s leisure, the book spans three years of Debbie’s life, from the end of college to the present day. In these early years of adulthood, Debbie slowly but finally discovers there is a name for her lifelong need to be alone: she’s an introvert.

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My Review:

As an introvert this book was very appealing to me. It was a bit grueling going through the first pages hoping the author and illustrator would perfectly capture the essence of introversion. Page after page she hit introversion on the spot and conveyed her autobiographical story in a way that made me both smile, laugh and cringe, because I could absolutely understand where she was coming from.
Even though some of the quick comics were a little exaggerated, I believe that Debbie Tung managed to show the life of an introvert and the challenges introversion pushes upon introverts.

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The illustrations are simplistic and grey scale which adds to a nostalgic feeling where we follow Debbie Tung from childhood to adulthood, from a miserable working to an artistic success.

The story she illustrates shows how society highly prefers extroverts over introverts, and how introverts need to early create survival mechanisms, because the introverted steel focus or researcher mastermind is not appreciated before we are far into adulthood.

The book visualizes the need both extroverts and introverts, and how these two conflicting personality types can work perfectly together by showing each other mutual respect and understanding.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book from finish to end.

How to Be Perfectly Unhappy by Matthew Inman

Title: How to Be Perfectly Unhappy
(Series: The Oatmeal)
Author: Matthew Inman
Genre: Gift Book, Comics & Graphic Novels
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Publishing date: 31st of October 2017
ISBN: 9781449433536

Synopsis: In How To Be Perfectly Unhappy, Inman explores the surprising benefits of forgetting about “happiness,” and embracing instead the meaningful activities that keep us busy and interested and fascinated.

My Review:

How To Be Perfectly Unhappy is a tiny little gift book which gently suggests that we as a society need to redefine what being happy means. It’s central point being that Pluto was downgraded, because we initially did not have a very clear definition for what a “planet” is. As the definition become more clear, Pluto clearly did not conform to the necessary requirements.

This is a premise I buy into, as sociability is with more than even obsessed with perfection in our world of social media where anyone can spy and everyone. And when you start to look at happy and what happy means, you realize how brittle that definition is and it quickly falls apart.

How To Be Perfectly Unhappy makes you think. With it’s barely 48 pages it invited discussion about something where there is a mutual agreement that everyone should be happy and if you are not happy, then you are miserable.

The book makes several suggestions of what you can be instead of being happy, unhappy not being one of them.  With its quirky drawings and interesting rhetoric, the book is engaging from beginning to end and will be a great gift any miserable book lover you know.

Depression & Other Magic Tricks by Sabrina Benaim

Title: Depression & Other Magic Tricks
Author: Sabrina Benaim
Genre: Poetry, Health, Mind & Body
Publisher: Button Poetry
Publishing date: 22nd of August 2017
ISBN: 9781943735204

Synopsis: Depression & Other Magic Tricks is the debut book by Sabrina Benaim, one of the most-viewed performance poets of all time, whose poem “Explaining My Depression to My Mother” has become a cultural phenomenon with over 50 million views. Depression & Other Magic Tricks explores themes of mental health, love, and family. It is a documentation of struggle and triumph, a celebration of daily life and of living. Benaim’s wit, empathy, and gift for language produce a work of endless wonder.

My Review:

Depression & Other Magic Tricks explores themes of mental health, love, and family. Many of the poems you find in this book has previously been performed at button poetry, and now you can get your hand on them in the written form.

While reading this book, I found that reading each poem out loud gave a lot more of detail and I do not think any of the poems in this book ever were supposed to just sit on the page. These poems are supposed to be read out loud, they are supposed to be performed, it is the sound of each word and each pause that gives the poem their power.

There were many good poems in this collection, some poems I came to adore, and there were some poems I did not care for. If this collection lived up to the hype “Explaining My Depression to My Mother” created, I am not sure, but the poem was in this collection too. After reading the whole collection I do not think that each and every one of the poem lived up to “Explaining My Depression to My Mother”, but I found quite a few favorite poems.

My short list of favorite poems from this collection: “unrequited in nine acts” (below), “On getting over you for real” “on releasing light”

On overall I thoroughly enjoyed reading this poetry collection, with it highs and lows, its battles and triumphs. The topics were easy to relate to and the issue of mental illness was overlying through the whole collection.

Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball by Laura Ellen Anderson

Title: Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball
Author: Laura Ellen Anderson
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Publisher: Egmont UK
Publishing date: 5th of October 2017
ISBN:9781405286725

Synopsis:Welcome to the world of Nocturnia, where darkness reigns supreme, glitter is terrifying, and unicorns are the stuff of nightmares! Amelia Fang would much rather hang out with her pet pumpkin Squashy and her friends Florence the yeti and Grimaldi the reaper than dance at her parents’ annual Barbaric Ball.
When the King’s spoiled son Tangine captures Squashy, Amelia and her friends must escape the party to plan a daring rescue. In their race against time, they being to realize things in Nocturnia may not be quite what they seem… Join Amelia on her very first adventure. She won’t bite!

My Review:

In Nocturnia  everything sparkly, fluffy and cute is considered terrifying, which is a great premise for a comical book about nocturnal creatures. This premise intrigued me to pick up this book for my autumn reading roll. This book was fun and easy to read, but on certain topics it did disappoint.

One of the disappointing part of this book was the absentee parenting trope which tends to be a viral infection in literature for children. I understand the need for absentee parents, and it can be done well, like in Coraline by Neil Gaiman. In Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball the absentee parenting troupe was borderline neglect, the mother is insanely self-absorbed caring more for her looks and her social status before her daughter. At one point the mother gives away her favorite chair and Amelia’s pet pumping away to the kings spoiled-rotten son. when Amelia refuses she is told not to cause a scene and sent to her room. The father seems to be more concerned about his crossword puzzles than his family and is a stereotypical never-in-the-kitchen male. This is empathized by Amelia’s bafflement over the first time her father put a teacup in the sink on his own. In our day and time where social norms and gender-roles are being challenged, reverting back to stereotypes in children’s fictions will not help us grow a new generation with good and open values.
The bottom line regarding this issue is that I think this story had a lot of unexplored potential.

That aside I found the illustrations in this book nothing short of amazing. They are simple and very cute, and they do their job well of complimenting the story and it’s themes.
Another good point about this book is the humor, which is at some points a little over the top hilarious with words like “darklings” and “diephone” and so on and so forth. In the beginning I found the puns a little annoying, but as I read on I go used to them. I can imagine that the humor will be just the perfect cup of tea for it’s intended audience (which is middle grade), but as an adult reader it took me a while to get used to them.
This book can easily be compared to the Hotel Transylvania movies with it’s vitty language and puns, and I think they are reaching for the same type of audience. And I only wish that Amelia’s parents would have taken a tiny straw out of daddy Count Dracula’s overprotective parenting book.

Book Review: The Thunderbolt Pony

Title: The Thunderbolt Pony
Author: Stacy Gregg
Genre: Children’s Fiction , Middle Grade
Publisher: HarperCollins UK, Children’s
Publishing date: 5th of October 2017
ISBN: 9780008257026

Synopsis: A dramatic and emotional story about one girl’s determination to stand by her beloved animals – and her refusal to give up, even in the face of impossible odds.

My Review:

The Thunderbolt Pony is a good story for any animal lover. It is a cute little story about Evie’s journey across the earthquake torn South Island of New Zealand, accompanies by her three animal friends. Her pony Gus, her dog Jock and her cat Moxy
I did enjoy to read the story through the girls eyes, and her troubles and challenges seemed real. However I found the beginning of the story a bit hard to get in to, as I found it a bit implausible that a 12-year-old girl could pin point the exact moment she developed her OCD. Don’t get me wrong, the story was very touching and seemed logical of how her father’s declining health to cancer cased her to develop OCD, but I found that part implausible.
That did not stop me from continuing reading the story, and I did enjoy that the author spent a lot of time showing how an illness like OCD can affect people, even in crisis and I think we need more books that empathize this.
In the end it was a very moving story and I enjoyed to spend time with Evie, Moxy, Gus and Jock, and it emphasized the fact of not leaving anyone behind and that pets are part of your responsibility even when a disaster hit.