2019 Reading Challenge

2019 Reading Challenge

2019 Reading Challenge
Tina has read 2 books toward her goal of 32 books.

Friday, April 26, 2019

BOOK REVIEW for Push Back by Karen Spafford-Fitz

Thank you to James Lorimer & Company for sending me an electronic copy of this book to read and review.

TITLE:             Push Back

AUTHOR:        Karen Spafford-Fitz

GENRE:           YA - social theme

RATING:           4 Stars

This was a very enjoyable read and did not go in the "standard" direction I thought it would go.

Zaine is in trouble after doing something stupid, but this character was pretty well fleshed out, considering how short this book is.  The author did a good job of showing us his "bad" side, but also his "better" side.  This comes through especially when he spends time with his 3 year old cousins.

Throughout the story, I actually felt for him.  A useless mother who puts herself first each and every time and Zaine who feels unwanted and rejected.  

Thankfully, this story did not go in the general direction of "everyone hates me so I will be bad".  I like that the author chose to give Zaine a few people in his life who actually want him to succeed.

The scenes with Lucas were too short, I would have liked more of those, but overall, the story is good, the characters are fairly well fleshed out and I found myself cheering for Zaine.

Friday, April 19, 2019

BOOK review for Inebriated by Katey Taylor

TITLE:            Inebriated

AUTHOR:      Katey Taylor

GENRE:          YA

RATING:          5 Stars

This is exactly my type of book. I was actually mad when I had to put it down to deal with real life.

Having said that, this book also exasperated me almost as much as I loved it. The characters were so incredibly flawed that all I did was yell at them for the entirety of the storyline.

The basis was intriguing a 17 year old meets her idol, musician Adrian and surprise, surprise, they actually end up together.

At first, I though the story would go in typical fashion - fan meets star and has sex, only to never see them again. But Adrian actually did "fall" for Cait in a way and it was like watching a car crash (no pun intended) in slow motion.

I loved that the author did not show Adrian as a complete jerk, but rather someone who is extremely broken, but who does have moments of "reality". I think, in many ways, he was the most interesting of all the characters and the best fleshed out.

His mood swings and his honestly about his drug addiction were compelling, until you remember that he made a conscious choice of sleeping with a 17 year old while he was battling his demon.

Cait is probably the character I disliked the most and the one that was the least fleshed out. If her actions were meant to be some kind of mental rebellion against her parent's divorce, then I don't really by it. This was one spoiled little princess who was at times incredibly immature and at other times more mature than all of them. But she constantly walked that line and by the way, as she worried about everyone else's addictions, she might have asked herself.....why do I need booze when I go to ANY social events?

I think the story failed in a few spots with this character. Her actions are never really explained and that includes why she would think it is ok to let her friends start/do cocaine. Was she so self centered that she only could handle her own stuff? I never found that she was a good friend. A good friend would have tried to talk her friends from doing things that were dangerous or just plain stupid. Cait failed big time in that area.

Steph was okay, but again, what was her problem? Was it as simple as "young, rich and dumb?".

One of the biggest issues I could see was that NONE of these kids had jobs and it is never really mentioned. I get that Steph "had money" but what about everyone else? I can't believe that Cait, as a 17 year old, was not expected to get a job for the summer.

I also saw very minimal parental guidance in this story, which, of course, goes a long way in explaining what happened. The ease in which these kids got their hands on booze was also alarming as was the fact that Cait could "sleep over/out" so many times. The parents were obviously written as caricatures of themselves - no parent is that dumb!

Finally, the ending of this book is awful and very, very sad. Yet, once again, Cait gets away free. Come on, there should have been consequences for her - she was a huge part of the problem in the first place and yet, once again, she skates. What a terrible friend.

As a final question mark.....why were none of the kids worried about oh I don't know little things like HIV or sexually transmitted diseases? especially considering the story line.

As you can see I dissected this story to pieces, which means I loved it. I can't wait to read more from this author.

Friday, March 22, 2019

BOOK REVIEW for We All Fall Down by Daniel Kalla

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for sending me an e-copy of this book to read and review.

TITLE:      We All Fall Down

AUTHOR:   Daniel Kalla

GENRE:      Thriller

RATING:     4 stars

I love Daniel Kalla's style of writing, especially when dealing with medical issues/terms.  He makes it clear and understandable without going on and on about boring things that will just clog up the story.

This book is thrilling.  I love a good pandemic type story and this one does not disappoint.  While we "sort of" know what is happening before the main characters do, its still intriguing as Kalla leaves a lot of unsolved issues and keeps them to the very end.

Although I had to read this slowly (time constraints) I was always annoyed that I had to put it down for "real life" and looked forward to picking it up again.

The only reason I did not give this a 5 stars is that I HATED the forced romance in this book. This story could have easily survived without any of that and I wish it had.  I am not sure why Kalla felt the need to insert that in an otherwise captivating read.

Friday, February 1, 2019

BOOK REVIEW for Fat Woman on the Mountain by Kara Richardson Whitely

TITLE:              Fat Woman on the Mountain

AUTHOR:         Kara Richardson Whitely

GENRE:            Memoir

RATING:           5 Stars

I have read all of Kara's books (albeit in the wrong order) and my favorites are definitely the ones where she talks about her adventures, even as a person with excess weight.

I loved reading about her fears, which would not prevent her from training for a climb to Kilimanjaro.

So inspiring and I loved loved her honesty. 

I felt as though I was right with her on her trek, reading actually make me feel dizzy a few times for how realistic it all felt.

Wonderful writing style - just enough information to help you feel as though you were hiking up the mountain as well.

I hope she writes a next book - detailing her next adventure! Very inspiring and I she does not claim that climbing that mountain worked miracles on her weight. In fact, she is honest in saying that she gained 60 pounds back - I am grateful that she is able to open up about this aspect of her life.

More books please.

Friday, January 11, 2019

BOOK REVIEW for I Ran With the Gang My Life In and Out of The Bay City Rollers by ALAN LONGMUIR

TITLE:         I Ran with the Gang, My Life In and Out of The Bay City Rollsers

AUTHOR:  Alan Longmuir with Martin Knight

GENRE:      Memoir

RATING:      4 stars

Right upfront, Alan Longmuir, co-founder of the Bay City Rollers tells the reader that there will be no scandal in this book.  He also says that he is only speaking on his own experiences and, for the most part, he stuck by these two comments really well.  Which means he is ethical but it also gives for a fairly vanilla memoir.

I rated this book 4 stars because it is a thoughtfully written book by a man who appears to be, by all accounts, humble, quiet and kind.  But this book could really have used a little bit more oomph because it is a tad boring.

Longmuir goes into a somewhat long explanation on his growing up years.  I think he could have cut it down by 30% - conversely, he should have added 30% more on The Bay City Rollers).

Of course, we are mostly reading this book to find out about Alan's experiences with the band.  Alan, similarly to the book written by Les several years ago, does not give us enough "on the road experiences" to help us get a good feel of it was for the boys at that time.  Alan generalizes A LOT and while drooling a little over Olivia Newton John and Ann Margaret, we don't get much else.  I would have loved to hear the thought process before a show, after a show.  How did he feel about the fans? what funny and not so funny events happened on the road?  There is none of that in this book.

One thing this book did well though was spell out Alan's feelings about the other guys in the band and how the Bay City Rollers are and have always been their own worst enemy.  Alan comments on this and even basically says "its time to grow up and stop the petty fights".  Unfortunately, neither the  Bay City Rollers nor the fans ever got to this place - made even sadder by the fact that only Nobby Clarke and Les' wife made it to Alan's funeral (Les was touring in Australia).  Even at the end, the BCR could not put their petty differences to go to Alan's funeral, the man who created the band in the first place.

On a more positive note, the writing is great!  Down to earth and a breeze to read.  The book is very short with just a little over 220 pages.

Yet, I can't say that I really have a much better idea of who Alan really was.  

RIP Alan Longmuir,  you and the BCR defined my youth.  Thanks to you and the BCR, I spent countless hours listening to your music, countless daydreams thinking about how wonderful you all were and most importantly countless days being a star struck teenager, who had no idea the horrors that you were all living while I was screaming out  "THE ROLLERSSSSS"

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

BOOK REVIEW for CUB by Paul Coccia

Thank you to the publishers - Orca Books for sending me a copy of this e-book.

TITLE:       Cub

AUTHOR:  Paul Cocccia


RATING:    4 stars

I am on the fence about the rating for this book.  Parts of it were really good, but other's not so much.

I know that these series of books are primarily aimed at YA and social issues, but what worked best in this story were the parts dealing with Theo and his love of cooking/baking.  Having him compete in a "Chopped" type of environment was a great idea and I loved reading all the excellent food ideas he had.  

The author was great at not dwelling on too many details, especially when it came to the cooking, but rather gave us just enough information to a) follow the story and b) make your mouth water.

What did not work? the sexual harassment.  Yes, it is certainly an important topic, but it felt gratuitous in this story and not completely believable.  As I mentioned before, I would have enjoyed this book so much more if the story had focused solely on Theo and his desire to win the cooking competition.

His friend Di was interesting, but we did not get enough of her backstory.

Overall, a good book that could have been better.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Book Review for The Bodyguard by Sean Rodman

Thank you to Orca Book Publisher for sending me an electronic copy of this book to read and review.

TITLE:          The Bodyguard

AUTHOR:    Sean Rodman

GENRE:       YA

RATING:       4 Stars

I love this series of books, they are short, but they are extremely well written, for the most part.

I really liked this one.  The main character "Replay" is a character that I really liked.  He is not obnoxious and actually sounds smart, which is a nice change of pace, as so many YA books simply have horrid characters.

I also like that the family is prominent in this one, which is not always the case.  I liked the parents and how they treat their son.

The only flaw is the Markus character - he is just not all that believable.  Also, if you have a thing about vomiting, you may want to skip the first few paragraphs.

Well written, with good characters.  I liked this.

Friday, November 9, 2018

BOOK REVIEW for Surviving Agent Orange by Gretchen Bonaduce

TITLE:               Surviving Agent Orange

AUTHOR:          Gretchen Bonaduce

GENRE:              Memoir

RATING:             4 stars

I am writing this review with some trepidation as I now know how Gretchen feels about reviewers - note to Gretchen; if you are reading this, please don't send me anything LOL.

I rated this book 4 stars because it is intriguing and dare I say it? entertaining.  I don't like using that word considering the fact that this is a memoir and most of the content is rather dark.

Having said that, i didn't really follow the Partridge Family, I am nowhere near Hollywood and even I knew that getting into a relationship with Bonaduce could not possibly end well.  So, one of my first instincts when reading this book was "well, didn't you see that one coming?" - at. all?  However, this book simply reinforces my view that we women, even the strong ones like Gretchen, turn dumb when it comes to men and love.

As I continued to read, I started to truly appreciate Gretchen's honesty at describing situations and her reaction to them.  I like that she questions herself, wondering why she stayed for so long and I certainly think she did all she could do to keep her family together.  I might have run for the hills way before she did, but nobody could fault her for trying to keep her life and what she knew.

Written in a very clear voice, Gretchen is honest and while some of the events she described could have used a little bit more detail, by the end, I found myself rooting for her to succeed at what she loves to do.

This is a short book and as I said, could have benefited with more fleshing out in some spots, but I find her courageous to a) have tried to hold her family together, b) written this book and c) did not, in the end, define herself only around a "celebrity".

One negative comment, there were several typos in this book. I am not sure if it was because it was Kindle, but it could have used more editing. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

BOOK REVIEW for The Buddha at My Table by Tammy Letherer

TITLE:                  The Buddha at my Table

AUTHOR:             Tammy Letherer

GENRE:                 Memoir

RATING:                4 stars

Okay, I both hated and loved this book.  The writing was wonderful.  Down to earth and not too flowery (which apparently this author has been accused of being at times).

I like memoirs to be honest and forthright, without all the minutia of every detail and Letherer succeeds very well.  She is VERY honest.

This is not an overly big book, so it can be read quickly, but I took time to read it because I absolutely did not like almost every person in this book, including Letherer herself.

First, I admire anyone who can write their life story for others to read.  It takes a lot of guts and for that, I give her kudos.

However, this book brought out so many emotions in me (yes, I know good books are supposed to do that) that I found myself having  to put the book down after reading for only a few minutes.  This is not normally something I do.  

Having said that, my head was spinning as I read.....Letherer's husband basically comes home one night and tells her a) he has been having affairs throughout most of the marriage b) most were escorts (ugh! that alone would have sent me to the closest doctor) and c) he is "in love" with someone he just met and wants a divorce.

Obviously, this opens up a ton of possibilities and none of them good.  From the get go, the husband (I won't even mention his name) basically has the upper hand, despite the fact that he is the one who cheated and this, basically,  remains the theme of the book.  As a matter of fact, as we got heavier into the story,  he becomes even bolder, at one point asking Letherer if "she wanted to get frisky"?  (who even says frisky????).

So, he is basically set up to be hated from the first page, but what I wasn't expecting was the fury I felt at Letherer herself.   I mean my emotions were all over the place.

The thing is, the author was, in my view, complicit in this whole thing.  As her husband got bolder and bolder, challenging her at every turn - be it with the children, the finances or moving out, Letherer teetered between self pity and searching for her backbone.  I think I lost it when, at one point, the author writes "who will take care of us?".

The tone of this book is definitely one of surprise(!!), self pity (at times) and confusion.  The author vacillates between seemingly understanding that things are changing and that her whole "I am relying on a man to get me through this life" is just not working anymore, while simultaneously searching for a man to take care of her.

The reference to the Buddha in the title is linked to the fact that, on many occasions, the author tries various self-healing ways to get through her pain and fear, with varying degrees of success.

This story is engaging and will certainly evoke a ton of emotions, as you can see by my review.

Friday, October 12, 2018

REVIEW for Easy Prey by Catherine Lo

Thank you to the publisher Amulet Books for sending me an electronic copy of this book to read and review.

TITLE:                  Easy Prey

AUTHOR:            Catherine Lo

GENRE:               YA (social theme)

RATING:              3.5 stars

Where to start?

I had a hard time rating this book because at times it felt like a 4 star and others a 3 star.  I decided on 3.5 stars because this book lacked depth.

While there are 3 main characters throughout the book, you don't get a chance to discover who they really are.  Considering the topic of the book, I would have loved more backstory on Jenna and while we do get a bit of an idea what Mouse's life is like at home, we don't know who he is.  Drew is probably the least fleshed out character, which makes all 3 of these characters kind of formulaic.

The writing is good in that it doesn't deviate from where it is going.  I like that Lo writes straightforward prose, not too many boring details about things that don't matter.

There is a surprise ending to this book, which, to be honest, I figured out about halfway to the end and its kind of clever, if not a tad unrealistic.

This is not a bad read, but I have no idea the who, where, why, how of these characters, so it was very difficult for me to like or even be invested in their story.

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