Tag Archives: book review

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.

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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.

Ink in Water by Lacy J. Davis

Title: Ink in Water
Author: Lacy J. Davis & Jim Kettner
Genre: Biographies & Memoirs , Comics & Graphic Novels
Publisher: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.
Publishing date: 1st of October 2017
ISBN: 9781626258310

Synopsis: At once punk rock and poignant, Ink in Water is the visceral and groundbreaking graphic memoir of a young woman’s devastating struggle with negative body image and eating disorders, and how she rose above her own destructive behaviors and feelings of inadequacy to live a life of strength and empowerment.

My Review:

As much as I wanted to enjoy this book and get carried a way with it, it took me a very long time to get into the story. The narrative is very straight forward with little distracting decor and it was supposed to be a touching story. Or, I thought it would be a touching story, instead it was a hard and gritty narrative of a very real battle with mental illness.

The rawness of the narrative and the very relateable additional issues that often tag along with mental illness made this book very hard for me to read. The story convey in a very real and hard way how mental illness can be there even if you are obviously unaware of it for a while.

IT shows how, even when you know you are sick, the biggest challenge of the battle is not the disease itself but recovery part. Mental health issues, like eating disorders, depression, OCD, they become a part of you and who you are. The disease become part of how you see yourself and you identity, and how are you supposed to recover from your identity?

Davis goes all the way out to show how real her struggle was and she is in not painting any rainbows or making any face-saving promises or painting rainbows. Yet her strong narrative still warrants hope and I would recommend the book for anyone who knows someone or themselves struggle with an eating disorder.

Kettner’s gritty artwork throughout the novel aids to the harsh narrative without sugar-coating anything. Nothing in a story like this needs sugar-coating, even if it makes the story harder to read, and both the author and the illustrator knows this.

Book Review: Kakieland Katastrophe – Hotel Transylvania

Title: Kakieland Katastroph
Series: Hotel Transylvania #1
Author: Stefan Petrucha
Genre: Graphic Novel, Children’s Fiction
Publisher: Papercutz
Publishing date: 12th of September 2017
ISBN: 9781629918082

Synopsis: The debut Hotel Transylvania graphic novel based on the movies! Horror author Stephen Cling visits Hotel Transylvania to try and prove monsters are still dangerous. Dracula, his daughter and her family, and the Drac pack are anything but! However, when a human child goes missing, it is up to Drac, Mavis, and the rest of the Hotel crew to locate the child before their monstrous reputation gets them chased out of town.

My Review:

Kakieland Katastroph is a rather short comic book with about 64 pages. the story contains the same quirky humor of the two very popular and successful movies. The art work, as expected, is a bit of a downgrade, but it is still neat and adds to the story.

In the story we meet the familiar characters from the movie as they are running a hotel in a monster-friendly (or not so monster friendly world). It takes place at some time after the second movie ended.

The story feels a bit rushed at times, which probably could have been avoided by adding a couple more pages, I would have liked the story to be longer. This is the first volume of a series and hopefully the story progression in the next chapter will be a bit more natural.
As a fan of both the movies I found this book very entertaining and I enjoyed reading  it, and I look forward to the next installment.

For the Right to Learn Malala Yousafzai’s Story

Title: For the Right to Learn;
Malala Yousafzai’s Story
Author:Rebecca Langston-George
Genre: Children’s Nonfiction, autobiography
Publisher: Capstone Young Readers
Publishing date: 1st September, 2015
ISBN: 9781623704261
Purchase Link:

Synopsis: A fascinating story of peace, bravery, and non-violent protest*Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize*An inspiring, illustrated nonfiction picture book for young readers

My Review:

For the Right to learn, tell the story of Malala, a young girl, who refused to be silent in a world where woman are expected to remain quiet. She opposed the taliban rules, argued for education for girls, and was almost killed for her beliefs. This story is the proof that one little voice can change the world.
This tells Malala’s story from her beginning as a child in Swat Valley of Pakistan to her present day in Birmingham. Malala’s story is retold beautifully by Rebecca Langston-George, accompanied with gorgeous illustrations by Janna Bock. This book gives children the opportunity to learn and understand the struggles Malala has faced, as well as the enormous courage she proved and continue to prove by carrying out her work for equal education for all.
The story is gripping and powerful, told in a simple, easy to understand, language.

Illegal Aliens

Title:Illegal Aliens
Series: Aoleon The Martian Girl-Part 4
Author: Brent LeVasseur
Genre: Children’s Science Fiction
Publisher: Aoléon Press
Publishing date: February 1st 2015
ISBN:B00T3P4S92

Synopsis: After their saucer is destroyed, they crash land somewhere in the deep Martian desert, and they set out to locate Kyrios and the secret base where Aoléon’s parents are being held captive.

My Review:

This series quickly loses its charm on me. During the first few books I found it charming, but in the fourth book I just find the storyline annoying and too much is going on all over the place. The description of the book says that we will finally figure out whether or not they can save Aoleon’s parents, but nope that doesn’t happen. It seems like someone wrote the description then someone else wrote the book and they never bothered with checking the two against each other. Much of the humor that made the books funny and endurable before has went underground just like Aleoon’s father (which we never hear anything about anymore).

Little Miss Somebody – Excerpt

Title: Little Miss Somebody
Author: Christy Lynn Abram
Genre: YA
Publisher: Humble Bee Publishing
Publishing date: July 1st, 2015
ISBN: 9780692386224
Purchase Link:Amazon.co.uk

Synopsis: Based on a true story
Fourteen-year-old Nikki is forced to leave her whole world behind when her mother makes an impulsive move to Missouri. Once in the heart of Saint Louis, her mother begins a vicious cycle of abuse and abandonment, leaving Nikki to fend for herself at her grandmother’s house, amidst her mother’s drug addicted siblings.
Humiliated, lacking resources, and feeling more than ever like a burden, Nikki decides to take matters into her own hands—when she embarks on a journey to find her father, a missing piece to the puzzle of her life. Along the way she unravels more pain and layers of family abuse, causing her to want to give up.
But she won’t give up. Not yet. Not Nikki. Not until she finds what she’s looking for. But, will Nikki find the love she desperately needs?

Little miss

Excerpt:

We walked across North Pointe Boulevard and up the street to the house. Meechie made fun of me, saying, “You almost got beat up today. What would you have done if I wasn’t on the bus?”
“They probably would’ve beat me up, but I would’ve fought as hard as I could.” I answered.
“Girl, please. Ain’t no probably about it. They would’ve beat your tail up.”
We both laughed as we approached the house. Uncle Lee was sitting on the front porch, smoking a cigarette and giving us the evil eye.
“What y’all laughing at?”
“Nothing! You’re always in somebody’s business,” said Meechie, rolling her eyes.
“You better watch your mouth, little girl, before I punch you in it!”
“Whatever! With your ole’ ugly self,” she mumbled as she opened the metal screen door.
Meechie and Uncle Lee didn’t get along. Uncle Lee was notorious for stealing everyone’s money and food. He was short, skinny and missing his two front teeth. When he was younger, everyone called him “Wheels” because he liked to roller skate. Everything changed when he got addicted to crack. Now, Uncle Lee spends his time washing cars for money and hiding in the basement until he get his next fix.I giggled under my breath and hurried to pass Uncle Lee before he started on me, but it was too late.
“What you laughing at, dirty little girl? That’s why you got ketchup on your pants.”
“So what! That’s why you don’t have any front teeth!” I said, sticking out my tongue. Meechie fell over in laughter.
“That was a good one!”
I was proud. Uncle Lee was always making fun of me. I had finally gotten payback. I wanted to say more, but he was infamous for trying to fight me and my cousins, and I’d had enough drama for one day. One time, he and Meechie got into a fight and she swung so hard her arm popped out of socket. She told me it hurt badly and she had to go to the hospital to get her shoulder bone “snapped” back in. Since then, every time she got into a fight, one or both of her arms would dislocate. It felt good to know Meechie would risk dislocating her arm to protect me. I loved Meechie. She always came through, no matter what.

AUTHOR BIO:

After enduring years of trauma and struggling with depression and PTSD, Christy Lynn Abram embarked on a journey to self-healing using holistic wellness as her guide. Now, as an Expressive Writing Coach and author, she teaches others how to love themselves healthy.
Christy is trained in eight healing modalities, including: a Reiki master, EFT practitioner, reflexologist, massage therapist, and a crystal healer, all of which aided in her discovery of how to heal herself naturally. These life-changing skills also served as the foundation to enhancing her gift as an intuitive healer. She has been recognized for her knowledge of the chakra system (by best-selling author of the Chakra Bible, Patricia Mercier), gemstone healing, and energy medicine. She also contributes to several online publications on the subject of holistic healing and offers individual coaching, e-courses, and workshops all designed to assist and encourage others on their journey toward a better, fuller life. Christy also loves to use her gift of writing to help others.
In her book Chakra Wellness: 7 Ways to Renew the Total she dives into the seven chakra centers from a mind-body-soul perspective. Readers learn how to discern key issues, heal imbalances, and maintain energetic barriers to eliminate stress and increase their overall well-being.
In her emotional novel, Little Miss Somebody, Christy wears her heart on her sleeve and delivers a poignant tale of love and sacrifice. Based on a true story, Little Miss Somebody will be released in July 2015.

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The Hybrid

Title: The Hybrid
Series: The Hybrid series #1
Author: Venus Morales
Genre: YA – Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Venus Morales
Publishing date: February 9th, 2015
ISBN: 9781508406471
Purchase Link: Amazon.co.uk

Synopsis: Ari is the daughter of Ares, the God of War. Half goddess and half Phoenician, she is raised by her father in secrecy until her 18th birthday, when he is forced to return to Olympus.
She chooses not follow her father, and decides to venture out into the mortal realm. There, Ari crosses paths with the archangel Julius, who bears a message from a seer. Ari must return to the Bayou to her late mother’s coven to regain her family crown, she is soon fighting for more than just the crown; she is fighting for her life, and the inner darkness that’s consuming her.
With 7 days to prepare for her trials and 7 days to fight for her life, Ari does the one thing she must do to survive; she forges herself into the weapon she was born to be.

My Review:

This book features a really strong heroine, Ari. she is the daughter of war and carry a few bloodthirsty vampire characteristics. She’s an arrogant kick-ass character. Additionally this book feature a vampire queen; Ily, so good to say this is a book that’s steaming with girlpower. Though the characters seems at times a bit too human for their eternal beings.
However girlpower aside, the book got a bit icky with me during the times when the author tried to make her characters be more human. Ily complaining about breaking nails, Hera ordering shoes from Ily, because that is obviously what the wife of Zeus and  a vampire queen spend their time doing. Though this could be a good way to bring in younger readers and make them relate to the characters. These kind of ticks made the book feel more like a teen-fiction while the other content of the book was clearly YA.
The concept of the book felt rather original, even though I enjoyed the premise more than reading the book. Some of the terminology in the book was distracting f.eks.: deamonons which was demons. Of course this is original, but it removed the story from the puseo-reality it is in to something further from or reality.
All in all it was a quick read, and the middle part was by far the best compared to the start and the ending.

AUTHOR BIO:

Who am I, you ask? I am a woman who wears many hats. A mother of 3 wonderful boys is my first and for most priority, and from there it trickles down. I’m a wife, a cook, a house cleaner and a mommy to two dogs and a lazy loveable cat. Then there’s my ulternate life.. The writer she is the kid who refuses to grow up. Stuck in a mind state of a teenager, who still has imaginary friends. The two halfs of me get along great!! As long as I let the writer out and listen to my imaginary friends tell me their story, then there’s no conflict. If I keep her caged up too long… Well… You know what they say, when you keep the beast caged up to long, it gets angry.
The life of a writer is who your born to be, not a job you just take on. It’s who I am.

Serafina and the Black Cloak

Title: Serafina and the Black Cloak
Author: Robert Beatty
Genre: Children’s fiction, fantasy
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publishing date: July 14th, 2015
ISBN: 9781484709016
Purchase Link: Amazon.co.uk

Synopsis: “Never go into the deep parts of the forest, for there are many dangers there, and they will ensnare your soul.”
Serafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the grounds of the Biltmore estate.There’s plenty to explore in her grand home, although she must take care to never be seen. When children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows who the culprit is:a terrifying man in a black cloak who stalks Biltmore’s corridors at night. Joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt. Braeden and Serafina must uncover the Man in the Black Cloak’s identity before all of the children vanish one by one.
Serafina’s hunt leads her into the very forest that she has been taught to fear. There she discovers a forgotten legacy of magic. In order to save the children, Serafina must seek the answers that will unlock the puzzle of her past.

My Review:

This book had a huge marketing hype around it. All the marketing, the intriguing description as well as the book-cover got me very excited about this book.
In many ways this book would be better off had the author invented a fictional family to go with the castle. Instead he chose to go with the family who are historically linked to the estate, and then he throws history all over the place. Of course all historical fiction does fictionalize a lot of things, but their fictional facts should in some fashion be linked to actual historical facts or theories.
The characters were easy to enjoy but they were a little flat. The mysteries are a bit simple and the books targeted audience (8-12 year olds) wouldn’t have much trouble figuring out the mysteries presented in the book. That is everything except Serafina’s own “past” which is barely foreshadowed at all and is just info-dumped on the reader in the end. Though it is pretty clear what she is, or it is very well displayed by the books illustrations, but the whole why and whens are just dropped in the end.
That aside, this is a book that can be enjoyed, particularly by it’s targeted audience, but the hype around it is insanely overplayed. This is a normal mediocre book which could have been much better had the story been a little more complex and with more colorful characters. If the novel had been longer and there had been more space for the character’s to evolve, this would have been a superb book.
By all means, this book turned out to be a huge disappointment.

Se the astonishing book-trailer below (I would watch that movie):