The Raven and The Dove| Review

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Title: The Raven and The Dove

Author: Kaitlyn Davis

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Retelling

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

 

 

 

 

 

Told in a multiple third-person point-of-view, The Raven and The Dove is an intriguing tale of love, betrayal, and destiny. Following four characters, we witness this spectacular avian-inspired world unfurl through the eyes of a privileged yet caged Princess, an ambitious Prince, a scorned bastard, and the mysterious best friend.

The Raven and The Dove takes place in a floating kingdom far up in the open sky. The Royal Houses rule the isles with each house representing a different bird with different gods and culture. The story begins with the introduction of the courtship trials. The courtship trials is a significant event where the princess and princes of each House must win a partner.

At the dawn of the courtship trials, where the princess or prince must secure a… mate, we follow Lyana, the dove princess from the House of Peace. Upon discovering a shared secret, she then chooses the most unexpected person as her partner—the raven prince of House of Whispers. However, as secrets begin to unfurl, forbidden magic starts to manifest, and prophecies take place, there is so much more to come.

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It Sounded Better In My Head | Review

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Title: It Sounded Better In My Head

Author: Nina Kenwood

Publisher: Text Publishing

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Rating: ★★★✬☆

 

 

Whenever I see an Australian author I just have to read their book (need to support a fellow Aussie). I love Aussie books and I admit I never read enough of them. And I’m glad I picked up this book.

In ‘It’s Sounded Better In My Head’, we follow the protagonist, Natalie, as she navigates through her life upon discovering that life isn’t going the way she imagined it to be. Her parents? Divorcing. Her two best friends? Dating. Herself? Awkward and sometimes the borderline third-wheeler.

 Things aren’t going quite as planned for Natalie.

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Children’s Fiction | Review

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Title: Why Do We Cry?

Author: Fran Pintadera

Illustrator: Ana Sender

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Rating: ★★★★★

 

 

Why do I love children fiction books? Well, there are many reasons. Usually, it comes down to a few points—the illustration is almost always beautiful and the I love how Why do I love children fiction books? Well, there are many reasons. Usually, it comes down to a few points—the illustration is almost always beautiful and I love how simple yet nuanced the words can be. (Also, I do read books to my nephew and am always on a lookout to read books to my niece).

In this book, Why Do We Cry? A mother and son explore various reasons why people cry. The accompanying art with each reason complements the emotion and explanation in a gorgeous manner. I also love how this book normalises crying and validates feelings—“it’s okay to cry if you feel like crying. It’s okay to cry if you’re happy/sad/etc.”

The illustrations are gorgeous and I just can’t get over how it. The only concern I have is that the font can be a little small in some scenes, thereby be a little difficult to differentiate between the background (perhaps have more contrast or maybe I just need glasses haha). Otherwise, this is definitely a book I’d recommend to families, teachers, and anyone, really.

I also liked how there was information on tears and crying at the end. Always love a good fun fact of the day.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

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Doctor Mouse

Author: Christa Kempter

Illustrator: Amelie Jackowski

Publisher: NorthSouth Books

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Rating: ★★★☆☆

 

 

 

Doctor Mouse is a cute and simple story about friendship and helping others.
This is such an interesting take and I liked the sense of community and friendship and how the animals helped each other. Also, I find it humorous how Dr Mouse waits for every seat to be filled before starting.

The only concern I have is that some scenes may be a little wordy for the young ones but at least the artwork is captivating and beautiful each page. I loved the art—the illustrations are gorgeous.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

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I Dream of a Journey

Author: Akiko Miyakoshi

Illustrator: Akiko Miyakoshi

Publisher: Kids Can Press

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Rating: ★★★★☆

 

 

 

Wow. Even as an adult I can empathise with the hotel keeper and his quiet wonder and yearning to explore the world. This is a simple story, yet it holds such a dreamy atmosphere.

I loved how the strong contrast of colours in the illustration—where at home, in his hotel, the colours are in greyscale yet closed-off and full of routine but out in the world, it’s full of colour and the scenes are open and free. Although this book has a bit of a melancholic feel to it, it’s also full of wonder and hope. I’d recommend having an adult read this book to a child.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

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What Grew in Larry’s Garden

Author: Laura Alary

Illustrator: Kass Reich

Publisher: Kids Can Press

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Rating: ★★★★☆

 

A light-hearted read with stunning art. ‘What Grew in Larry’s Garden’ is inspired by the true story of a teacher and his tomato plant project. This is a heart-warming story focusing on patience, kindness, understanding, and staying positive. Furthermore, I just love how this book is not only about cultivating plants but relationships as well. One of my favourite aspect of this book was how Larry’s positive attitude of ‘We can figure this out’ influenced Grace in the end.

This was an adorable read and I’d highly recommend this.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

 

 

 

Children’s Fiction | Review

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Title: The Not BAD Animals

Author: Sophie Corrigan

Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Rating: ★★★★☆

 

 

A fun book that is both educational and great for reducing certain animal stigma. There is a large variety of animals known to have a bad rep (such as spiders, black cats, wolves, etc.) and on the first two-page spread the pages comprise of the myth and misconception with darker, heavier tones. The following spread uncovers the truth and the whole atmosphere changes dramatically with light and friendlier tones. I found the illustration effective, cute and engaging.

However, I feel like this is best for bite-sized moments as it can be a little overwhelming with many little facts regarding numerous animals. Despite that, I really enjoyed the book. The illustration and execution were exceptional. A great read. I’d recommend this book.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


 

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Author: Mack van Gageldonk

Publisher: Clavis Publishing

Genre: Children’s fiction

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

 

At first, I wasn’t sure if it was my version but the illustration was jarring and felt incomplete. Unfortunately, the art was a huge aspect and thus affected the read. I would have read this to my niece or nephew, but given the art style, I don’t feel like it would capture and hold their attention for the whole book.

Other than that, this is an easy book with simple art.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a preview of this book in exchange for an honest review.


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Title: The Little Ghost Who Lost Her Boo

Author: Elaine Bickell

Illustrator: Raymond McGrath

Publisher: Philomel Books

Genre: Children’s fiction

Rating: ★★★★★

 

 

The illustration is bright and vivid, complimenting the story well. The rhyming texts are fun and engaging and the book invites reader participation at the end.

I’d definitely recommend this book and I can’t wait to read this with my nephew and niece.

Thank you to Edelweiss and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Children’s Fiction Books | Review

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Title: Play Like an Animal

Author: Maria Gianferrari,

Illustrator: Mia Powell

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Rating: ☆☆☆☆

 

‘Play Like an Animal’ is a fun read. The story-telling is engaging and the illustration is gorgeous and vivid. I like how the art captures each of the animal’s actions and how each page is appealing. The little fun facts were a great bonus (especially for the curious).

I’d definitely recommend this read and can’t wait to read this to my niece.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.


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Title: If…

Author: Sarah Perry

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Publisher: Getty Publications

Rating: ☆☆☆☆

 

 

This is a simple yet complex book. Filled with beautiful and intricate illustration and imaginative scenarios, ‘If…’ is a fun read with a great concept. I loved the art, it was vivid and unique.

‘If…’ would be a fun read for children (and adults), encouraging creativity and for minds to roam free. I’d recommend this book to both children and adults.

Thank you to NetGalley and the Getty Publications for an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.


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Title: A Surprising Friendship

Author: Andrew Wald

Illustrator: Tara J. Hannon

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Rating: ☆☆☆☆

 

‘A Surprising Friendship’ is an endearing story filled with beautiful illustration (the art complimented the story well) and a sweet message. This book focuses on an unexpected friendship formed between a goose and bear and how differences matter little. I liked how this book shows that a good friendship surpasses seasons. This is a book I’ll definitely read to my niece.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Wicked Deep | Review

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twd-coverTitle: The Wicked Deep

Author: Shea Ernshaw

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Rating: ★✬☆☆☆

“We wait for death. We hold our breath. We know it’s coming, and still we flinch when it claws at our throats and pulls us under.” ― Shea Ernshaw, The Wicked Deep

Despite having water as a motif, I found “The Wicked Deep” to be incredibly dry. Like, on a scale of dryness there is Sahara, middle-Australia, then The Wicked Deep.

I picked up this book because a.) I’ve heard great things about it—a dark tale, focusing on three sisters as they extract their revenge on a town wrongfully murdering them 200 years ago, and b.) because the cover is pretty. (I’m a simple person, I know).

Writing: 

The writing is rich with beautiful imagery and descriptions. However, I found the writing a little too exposition heavy for me at times. Although I can see how the writing can come across as lyrical and beautiful—however for me, I felt like I was an unlucky nail getting constantly hammered about the townspeople and the lore of the Swan sisters. The first few swings were great and powerful but after a while… Like the unlucky nail being used by a novice carpenter, I was getting bent in all the wrong places. Towards the end of the book I was tired and happy it was over (in a way).

Don’t get me wrong, there were aspects of the book where the atmosphere was so rich and chilling. At times, the atmosphere was so dark, I felt suffocated in that small town. That was great. I liked how the author wove details about the townspeople, the town history, and the morbid tale of the Swan sisters. As a result, I can see why people would enjoy this book.

Although, I did find the town odd for the way it conducted itself regarding the Swan sister tragedy—but then again, that’s how morbid tourism works.

Characters:

The one thing that ultimately affected my reading experience was the characters.

Whilst there are multiple drownings and death, I felt the biggest victim of this tale was Penny Talbot.

Bo—the mysterious guy™, here for the SPOILER vengeance. Upon discovering that he’s in Sparrow searching for answers regarding his brother’s death is understandable. I get why he was closed off at first. However! SPOILER: When he discovers that perhaps killing the host (PERSON!) may destroy the Swan sisters, he doesn’t blink. He’s up to killing the girls. Upon reading his nonchalance of killing an innocent host (PERSON)… I just. At least, if he had some sort of questioning or hesitation… I just… Wow.

Swan sisters: I didn’t mind them too much. It was interesting reading about them. However, I found Hazel to be incredibly insufferable. Hazel was the most detestable sister of the three. SPOILER: There’s the whole ‘change of heart’—but like Hazel’s sister said, “You are what you are” and it’s true. After two centuries, Hazel is still self-centred and intolerable. The fact that Hazel chose Penny’s body for three years and did what she did with Penny’s body says a lot about Hazel’s character. No regards to the real Penny—just ‘oh, but I like Penny (as MY vessel) and her life’.

Let me elaborate as to why the real Penny is the victim here. SPOILER: Hazel chose Penny as a host for three years. Penny has no idea. Things we know (or more accurately, things I remember) Hazel used Penny’s body for:

  • Hazel used Penny’s body to kill Penny’s father. Wait. Let that sink in.
  • Penny has no idea what happened to her father and continuously wonders about him and his whereabouts
  • Penny’s mother knows what happened and the truth gnaws at her. OBVIOUSLY, her mother can’t inform Penny without Penny realising something was up. (I’d be pissed, confused, distraught, guilty, etc. if I found out I was possessed and killed my own father!) Therefore, Penny’s mother never informs Penny (I’m assuming), and consequently, Penny gets no closure!!
  • Hazel uses Penny’s body to have sex with Bo. And Bo doesn’t know Penny is possessed. Penny doesn’t really know (?). That irked me.
  • Hazel uses Penny’s body to lure Bo’s brother and kill him.

For me, consent is a major thing (especially with today’s culture, the #metoo movement, and the fact this book is marketed as ‘YA’). I felt like this book glossed over the technicalities of consent. Hazel, the youngest Swan sister, SPOILER: possessed Penny’s body and I felt there were no adequate discussion nor consequence! (That could’ve been an interesting and opportune moment!)

The whole aspect of Hazel’s actions and the weight of it all was glossed over. SPOILER: Oh, but Penny was starting to like Bo. Fair enough, but that doesn’t excuse Hazel’s actions. Oh, but Penny and Bo are falling in love at the end. Wait, but they’re not. Bo realises he is in love with Hazel (DESPITE HER CONFESSING SHE MURDERED HIS BROTHER). Oh, but Hazel is (finally) realising that killing innocent people is bad! AFTER 200 YEARS?!

gargles a groan

If that wasn’t insufferable enough, Hazel has the audacity to try and pull an “Oh, but it’s so hard being me! I can’t help murdering innocent boys!”

-____-

Like, I’m not saying this book needs to have a life lesson and whatnot, I just feel like it could at least note the repercussions or the implications of one’s action. I understand people read for fun and escape reality (I certainly do), but… yeah, I’m really seeing this book wasn’t for me.

Execution:

I found this book dry due to the characters. I can’t fault the writing, nor the concept—the writing is beautiful. The concept is full of promise and intrigue. I just didn’t feel attached to any of the characters. With Bo, the love interest, it was difficult to connect at first due to his secrecy. However, as the book progressed, I started to warm up to him. With Penny, the protagonist and narrator, I just have a weird thing were I always like the narrator. And then the twist was revealed and I felt cheated and immediately disconnected with all the characters. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to empathise with Hazel, because I certainly don’t. SPOILER: And with Hazel being the narrator for 80% the book, that affected my reading experience.

Enjoyment:

I wouldn’t say there’s everything wrong with this book per se, rather, it wasn’t a book for me. If you’re a person who is interested in small-town lore of witches and whatnot with dark chilling undertones in the writing, this book may interest you. For me, it wasn’t the writing nor the concept of the book that irked me, it was the execution and a certain character. And whilst that aspect may not bother some people, it certainly bothered me.

In the end, a certain character did try to make things right and that is something I can’t ignore… but yeah. By the time I reached that point, I was tired—the dryness got to me. I’m dehydrated. I need water and an Advil after this.

“This town was built on revenge,” I say. “And it’s never made anything better or right.” ― Shea Ernshaw, The Wicked Deep

Rubric: How I rate:

Writing: (1 to 10) x 2             6×2 = 12
Plot: (1 to 10) x 2                    4×2=8
Characters: (1 to 10) x 2        2×2=4
Execution: (1 to 10) x 2         4×2=8
Enjoyment: (1 to 10) x 2        1×2=2
Total / 20 = number of stars  = 74/20 = 1.7 ≈1.5 stars

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Something Wicked | Review

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Title: Something Wicked

Author: Nicole M. Rubino

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal

Publisher: Magnolia Press

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

 

 

 

 

 

The premise is full of intrigue and promise—witches and witch hunters situated in Salem. In ‘Something Wicked’ we follow Theo, a girl who seemingly received bad luck for her seventeenth birthday (bad break-up? Check. Car crash? Check.). After a series of unfortunate events and tragedy, Theo moves to Salem with her aunt.

I was immediately hooked on the premise. I liked the setting of modern-day Salem and the opening scene. I also love stories where someone discovers their powers and true origins. However, despite the that, I found the plot a bit mediocre and predictable at some points with an amalgamation of YA tropes. Furthermore, I felt the foreshadowing to be a little heavy-handed. Whilst there is plenty of drama and action, it was a quick and easy read.

Unfortunately, this book is riddled with common tropes I’m not so fond of (such as girl on girl hate, not like other girls™, etc.) and therefore affected my reading experience. This book wasn’t for me. I feel like this book would be suitable for younger teens, pre-teens, or people who don’t mind such tropes or are new to fantasy/paranormal romance. If you’re looking for a quick and easy read and into witches and forbidden romance, this may be for you.

I received an eARC in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Netgalley and the author.

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When Breath Becomes Air | Review

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Title: When Breath Becomes Air

Author: Paul Kalanithi

Genre: Non-fiction, Memoir, Health

Publisher: Random House

Rating: N/A. I find it difficult to rate a memoir/autobiography.

“You can’t ever reach perfection, but you can believe in an asymptote toward which you are ceaselessly striving.” ~ Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air

 

‘When Breath Becomes Air’ is a sobering read, centring on Paul Kalanithi and his journey from doctor to patient upon discovering his diagnosis of stage IV cancer. At age 36 Kalanithi is on the verge of completing his neurosurgeon residency. However, his life is upended upon his diagnosis.

Drawing upon anecdotes from his life (childhood, med student, surgeon, and his personal life), Kalanithi continues to search meaning and purpose. In this book, Kalanithi questions and grapples with his diagnosis and definition in life. At times, I found his writing a little gratuitous with classic literature references (he is an avid fan and lover of English literature and I’m not as well-versed in it as I’d like to be—goes to show I need to brush up on my reading), to sobering and gritty, to hopeful and determined.

Overall, I enjoyed his writing and voice—particularly his clever use of similes, his stark honesty of the reality of disease and prognosis, and his continuous strive for living a meaningful life. What struck me the most in this book wasn’t only his message to strive for meaning in life, but in a clinical (medical) setting, technical excellence is not enough—compassion, empathy, and integrity is needed.

“Here we are together, and here are the ways through—I promise to guide you, as best as I can, to the other side.”

“I had met her [the patient] in a space where she was a person, instead of a problem to be solved.”

I suppose given my background these aspects resonated within me. And even if one isn’t in the medical field, the message is still applicable—live with integrity and treat people with compassion.

Yes, this book is sad. Yes, you’ll probably cry (I did the ugly cry in the Epilogue—no shame in that). However, this book doesn’t only dwell on death and mortality, but it’s also a testimony to life, love, and meaning. His wife, Lucy, so eloquently puts it:

“What happened to Paul was tragic, but he was not a tragedy.”

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(Ugh, I had to use the hospital’s cheapo stethoscope because I lost my ‘nice’ one in one of the wards…)