I'll be honest and say that this book surprised me, in a good way. Before the author approached me with a review request, I'd seen the book once beforI'll be honest and say that this book surprised me, in a good way. Before the author approached me with a review request, I'd seen the book once before when I'd hosted a tour stop on my blog, but I never paid much attention to it as the cover didn't grab my attention. But when I read the blurb, it definitely got my attention because of the unusual situation the character finds herself in. Here we have a girl named Reema, who, at the age of ten, starts to experience a bizarre anamoly when her skin tone starts changing every year. It's not a fantasy story. This is a story about family, prejudice and acceptance. The story doesn't explore the reason behind Reema's pigmentation disorder but we learn some way into the story that her condition is hereditary.
Set in Morocco and New York, She's Like a Rainbow takes readers on a journey of discovery. Reema's inquisition into the nature of her disorder leads her down a path that not only explains her mother's apathetic behaviour throughout her life but also uncovers a shocking web of deceit that alters her life in more ways than she could ever have imagined.
The book started off very well. I got into the story right away as there was no delay in revealing Reema's condition. We learn right from the start that Reema is the black sheep of the family. We're made to believe that it's because of her fair skin tone, so when Reema's skin starts to become darker and her mother's behaviour becomes more hostile and distant, she feels confused as she believed her darker tone would have made her and her mother grow closer, being that they now looked similar. Even worse, Reema's metamorphosis attracts the wrong attention at school, and thus begins the bullying. Reema spends years trying to find a cure for her disorder but gets nowhere until she happens upon a clinic where a nurse reveals a shocking allegation that turns Reema's world upside down. Reema learns that her condition may be genetic. But how could that be when none of her family have ever exhibited such a disorder? Well, you'll have to read the book to find out.
I must say, the twist was called for. I would have given up on it had the author not gone down this route. It just brought more life to the story. It was getting boring up until the point where the twist came in. I wasn't getting much from Reema's character, and I didn't find her engaging enough. She's a girl that has experienced prejudice her entire life but she seemed neither submissive or assertive. Either one would have been fine. Her story is a compelling one but her character was lacking presence for the most part. How did her condition pave the way for the choices she made? Mostly, we get to hear what others think of Reema but what did she think of herself?
Like I said, it was great that the twist popped up when it did as it gave Reema something to yearn for. She finally started to take the lead. There was finally moments that had intentions behind them. The final few chapters of the book was a little unstimulating, so I kind of tuned out at this point, but overall, the story had a lot of depth and I enjoyed it. I would have liked it to have been a bit more visual and for Reema to have brought more of her personality to the stage so we could experience more of the internal conflict as opposed to the external conflict we were accustomed to seeing. It was a good story with an interesting premise.
It took me a little while to get into the story but once I did, I found it rather intriguing. I'm usually not one for romance novels, but this wasn'tIt took me a little while to get into the story but once I did, I found it rather intriguing. I'm usually not one for romance novels, but this wasn't overwhelming and it was very believable. Certainly a book that can be re-read time and time again....more
This story started off very well with a few laugh-out-loud moments and events and characters that are very relatable. Laura is a thirteen-year-old girThis story started off very well with a few laugh-out-loud moments and events and characters that are very relatable. Laura is a thirteen-year-old girl who's been bullied about her size her whole life. When her parents tell her they're moving to another town, she's excited to leave her depressing life behind, however, when they pull up to their new house, Laura's excitement dwindles away very quickly. It's not the beautiful house she had anticipated. Not to mention all the creepy things that start happening right from the get-go, like seeing the shadow of a figure watching her house and hearing strange noises coming from her closet. Worst of all, she learns that escaping her old life doesn't erase her problems as she encounters a new set of bullies, including the non-human kind.
I loved Laura's personality and the relationship she has with her brother, Tom. Laura's family is quite a quirky bunch, which I liked. They were all so different and unique in their own way. When it came to the fantasy elements and dealing with the Under Earth world, the story somewhat reminded me of Alice in Wonderland and Narnia. While I did enjoy the story, I found it to be very repetitive. After the introductory chapters, the scenes and the events that were taking place started to feel too identical. I lost interest in the scenes that took place at Laura's school as it was far too predictable. I skipped a few of these scenes. The fantasy element wasn't really prominant throughout the story. The focus seemed primarily on Laura and the relationship with her fellow pupils. We do get some more action and fight scenes about three quarters of the way into the book but I wanted to know more about Laura's monster crushing role than middle school gossip.
The danger of being a Monster Crusher is spoken about and seen somewhat in action in the book but given the prospect of the earth being overrun my monsters, I didn't feel the threat. While the story had a lot of suspense in the opening chapters, I don't feel it had enough tension to keep me to glued to the pages. I loved the beginning, lost interest during the middle, and engaged with the story again towards the ending. It was a good read, and I think the target audience will enjoy it.
One thing that can be said about See You in the Cosmos is its genuine portrayal of the innocence of youth. It's a charming, heart-warming story that eOne thing that can be said about See You in the Cosmos is its genuine portrayal of the innocence of youth. It's a charming, heart-warming story that embraces the importance of family. 11-year-old Alex Petroski is prepared to give other lifeforms an insight into what life on Earth is like as he leaves his home in Colorado and heads for Albuquerque, New Mexico, for the Southwest High-Altitude Rocket Festival - aka SHARF. Alex encounters people from different walks of life, and through his journey of discovery, he learns a thing or two about his own family.
I'd seen this book pop up on other websites but never gave it much attention, so when I stumbled upon it on Netgalley, I read the blurb and thought I'd give it a try. I'm in two minds about this story. One the one hand, it wasn't my cup of tea (for many reasons) but on the other hand, I loved the content, as in the issues that were raised and portrayed, serious matters that I could relate to. I wouldn't say I got into the story right away, but I did like Alex right from the get-go. He's engaging and has quite the imagination. It's a plus that he loves science, which was something I was able to relate to. Also, his ability to see the good in everyone made him that more likable. If it wasn't for Alex and his curiosity of others and the world around him, I probably would have given up reading the book as the story didn't jump out at me. That's not to say I didn't find Alex's story compelling, I did, but I couldn't connect with it for two reasons: the first being that there were too many unrealistic situations that it suspended my belief in the authenticity of the story, and the second thing I had to contend with was the writing style. I wasn't a fan, which is strange coming from me given I'm known for my unorthodox views.
Being able to visualise a story is key for me. It helps me to connect with the story and its characters. Alex is on a journey of a lifetime and I could not engage with it as much as I wanted to, and not merely because it was being told through recordings but also because I couldn't form my own impressions of Alex and his reality. We're able to make judgements only from Alex's perspective and the information he decides is important enough to log. Yes, there are many situations he can't comprehend - like the situation between Terra and Steve - that we may have a better understanding about, but I wanted to feel as though I was right there with the character, and I wanted to be able to place myself in the character's shoes so that the story could feel real to me. Even though the characters did engage in conversation - it wasn't just Alex speaking to his ipod throughout the entire book - I didn't feel as though I was experiencing the interactions between the characters. The story never truly came alive for me.
I couldn't get over the writing style. I adapted to the style for the purpose of finishing the book, but I never fully converted. I loved the idea of a book being told through podcasts. It's definitely something I haven't come across before, and it was refreshing to see, but I feel the way it was written made it difficult for me to connect with the story. I know these are podcast recordings and Alex is quite the rambler, but he's telling his story, not writing it out, so I'm sure one doesn't have to divert from conventions to the point where the story becomes disorientating. There were so many run-on sentences that it became frustrating to read at times. The opening chapters stuck to more conventional grammar and punctuation but it didn't maintain form throughout. I'm all for authors breaking conventions, but it shouldn't be distracting or overtly noticeable, which this was, as the potential harm could be that you sacrifice the quality of the story.
The story felt too long, and it wasn't due to lack of content as there was a lot of substance thrown in, so I believe it was down to structure. Speaking of substance, there were some serious matters addressed in this story that didn't go unnoticed. I loved the topics at hand, such as Alex being the carer of his mother, who is suffering from depression, and having no emotional support, albeit they are financially supported by his brother, Ronnie, who lives out in LA. There's also the issue with him seeking out his father and discovering a lot more than he bargained for. Albeit it was arid and monotonous at times, I loved the tone of the story. I didn't so much like the voice. Alex appeared to be very observant but his lack of understanding of a situation did not match his perceptive nature, which one could tell from the choices he made throughout the book. Come to think of it, there were many moments of irrational decisions made by the characters that I found it hard to persuade myself to imagine it to be real. My belief in the authenticity of the story was the hardest thing for me to overcome. I love flawed characters but they all seemed to be on the same level when it came to nurturing Alex and making decisions that were right for him. Alex was more mature than all the other characters yet he was completely vulnerable.
Given the fact that Alex was recording his journey on his ipod, it might have had more effect on me and I may have found it more engaging had I experienced the story in audiobook format. Seeing it on page, it looked too disorganised, so much so it didn't make the experience as enjoyable as I would have liked it to have been. There is definitely great potential here, and I think it's a story with many relatable elements.
There are certain challenges that come with being newlyweds, and for Dean and Elizabeth, their problems begin when they purchase an abandoned VictoriaThere are certain challenges that come with being newlyweds, and for Dean and Elizabeth, their problems begin when they purchase an abandoned Victorian home in the small town of Eastbrook, Maine. The frosty reception from the locals was one thing, but when the couple discover that the previous owner of their home, Hayden Dobs, just up and left town in the middle of the night, leaving all his furnishings behind, suspicion kicks in. Even stranger is the one empty room in their home. Why had Hayden cleared out only one room and left everything else behind? What had caused him to leave so urgently? As Dean and Elizabeth delve deeper into the mystery surrounding the empty room and Hayden Dobs, they discover their connection to the events surrounding their home, a connection that is set to alter their lives indefinitely.
The Empty Room is steeped in mystery. Every character that was introduced knew something about what took place at Dean and Elizabeth's home prior to their arrival, and I was just as eager to unravel the truth as Dean and Elizabeth were. I won't give anything away, but I will say that there are two major myteries to be unraveled in this story, both of which are interlinked, and although I did solve one of the mysteries rather early on - there were pretty obvious clues presented throughout the story - I thought the subtle unraveling of it was well implemented. Because what was happening was so obvious to me, I did often wonder if that had been a deliberate strategy as a form of incentive to keep me reading, as I must admit, I probably wouldn't have kept reading had I not wanted to find out if my reasoning was correct. As for the second mystery, I did like the twist. That I had not contemplated.
I wasn't much of a fan of Elizabeth but I did enjoy Dean's snarky remarks and his humour. He was quite an entertaining character, and he definitely brought the story to life, but there's only so much a character can do with a slow building plot. The story just took so long to get anywhere, which was the biggest problem I had with this book. Dean and Elizabeth often seemed as though they were just wandering around, trying to find something to do and something to fill their time with. The pacing was just far too slow and the relevant details too miniscule to carry the story for the length that it was. Based on what was presented, the events that were taking place and the rate at which the story unfolded, it should have been shorter. For example, the first seven or eight chapters could have been shortened to three or four chapters. When not much is happening over many chapters, it makes the story feel as though it's being dragged out, which I often felt while reading the story.
Even though I did feel the story took too long to get to where it was going, I still felt there was enough content for readers to enjoy, particularly in the ending chapters. Those last few chapters were the highlight of the story for me. Honestly, I felt the story truly began near the ending of the book. I'm glad I stuck with it to the end as those last few chapters were enjoyable and full of tension. Had there been more of this pacing and relevance throughout (particularly the communicative exchanges among characters in accordance with the development of the plot), this would have been a great read. It was good for what it was.
Another great adventure with Billy and the gang. This story picks up right after the events that took place in book one. With Billy being ten now andAnother great adventure with Billy and the gang. This story picks up right after the events that took place in book one. With Billy being ten now and Ant still being nine years old, he feels he has matured somewhat and starts behaving in a manner in which he feels is more fitting for his age. Ant, however, doesn't understand why Billy is acting the way he is and the two have a big fall out. It's not long before Billy starts missing his best friend and when Ant decides to find himself a new best friend, jealousy kicks in. So what's a young chap to do? Find himself a new best friend of course. Billy realises that with new friends come new responsibilities. He finds himself facing many challenges that opens his eyes to the meaning of friendship and the importance of having friends you trust and can rely on.
This second book reminded me so much of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, particularly the part where Greg and Rowley have a big fall out. Like the first book, there's a lot to be learned here. This story really does well in capturing the essence of childhood. There is an authenticity in the portrayal of the characters that I admire. There is a lot of pressure that comes with growing up, and I love how that's unfolding in these stories. Adults could learn a thing or two from kids. I especially like the way the stories remind me of childhood qualities I've grown out of, qualities that made life a lot simpler. I didn't get this sense of nostalgia with the first book, but this second book certainly evoked a lot of emotions.
Although I'm still seeing those grammatical and punctuation errors, it's still a great read, and I would recommend it for the whole family.
I haven't read many middle-grade books in my adult life, but after reading Billy Has a Birthday, I might have to reconsider my choices in literature.I haven't read many middle-grade books in my adult life, but after reading Billy Has a Birthday, I might have to reconsider my choices in literature. I did not anticipate how much I would love this book. It was simple, straight to the point and just a jolly good read.
It's Billy's tenth birthday, and he's having a party with a few friends. All goes well with the party, but Billy soon has a run-in with a friend's elder sibling, Eddy, and ends up having to hand over the birthday money his grandfather slash magician The Great Magisco gave him. With the skills of The Great Magisco and his assistant, Max (the sister of Billy's best friend, Ant), Eddy gets a well deserved lesson in bullying and winds up in trouble with the law.
This is a book for the whole family. There are some good lessons to be learned and the characters are a hoot. Although it took me about three chapters to be convinced, it was definitely worth the read. Along with the characters, I loved the dialogue. Some mention of the law may go over young readers heads, but it wasn't too overwhelming, and I think it will challenge young minds to enquire into matters unfamiliar to them. Overall, the subject matter is relatable and morally inspiring. The only problem I had with the book were the consistent grammatical and punctuation errors. They weren't a huge turn-off, but I did notice them as they kept cropping up throughout. I look forward to reading the other books in the series.
A quick, fun read. Good illustrations and demonstration of what kids can do with certain objects. There was no narrative per se so no morals to be hadA quick, fun read. Good illustrations and demonstration of what kids can do with certain objects. There was no narrative per se so no morals to be had or lessons to be learned here. Still, a toddler would enjoy the illustrations....more