Review: Reflection (Twisted Tales #4)

Click the picture to purchase the book on Amazon

Rating: ★★★★★

For the longest time I’ve been debating whether or not to read the Twisted Tales from Disney. Typically, I’ll read any Disney related book, but the first two books in the series got such mixed reviews, that it deterred me from picking one up. Then the Beauty and the Beast one and this one came out and they got better reviews. So I finally decided to try one out. I’m so glad I did because this was really good!

First off, I was really happy that Disney choose a Asian author   to write this book. I think #OwnVoices literature is so important. You can tell that the author knew the culture so well. She did a great job incorporating the Chinese underworld and mythology into the story.

I also have to give the author major props for doing her homework. It was very clear that she watched the direct-to-DVD Mulan 2 movie. There was one part where Shang says, “Perhaps when I marry, I’ll combine the ancestral temples so my bride won’t have to leave her family” (175). That is exactly what ends up happening in Mulan 2. When I read that line, I immediately remembered that part in the movie. 

Since the book starts during the battle against the huns on the mountain, I was happy that it still referenced earlier events in the movie. They were woven into the story nicely. 

Overall, I just think the whole book was so well done. From the writing style to the incorporation of mirrors and reflections, it hit all the checkboxes.  

Advertisements

Review: The Beatin’ Path

Click the image to purchase the book on Amazon

Rating: ★★★

I received this book for free from JKS Communications in exchange for an honest review. 

This is a very unique book. It’s a collection of poetry, prose, and illustrations that deal with self discovery and self awareness. I’ve never read anything quite like it before. The illustrations were an excellent touch. They added a touch of whimsy and humor to the book. 

The book started off really strong. I really enjoyed the first section (the book is divided into 3). The pieces in this part were really thought provoking and offered a lot of food for thought.

However, things took a turn for the worse in the second section. Section two was way too long, approximately double the length of the previous section. A lot of the pieces repeated the same ideas, and after a while it got tiring to read. There wasn’t anything new being said. I also wasn’t a fan of all the anti-religion pieces in this section. I totally respect his viewpoint, but since there were so many of them, it just felt like a bombardment. This section could have been edited down significantly to achieve a better overall balance.

The last section was better than the second, but not as good as the first. It didn’t have that special something that the first section had.

There was also a playlist at the end featuring songs from some of my favorites like The Beatles, Frank Sinatra and  The Beach Boys. I absolutely love it when books have playlists so this was a big plus for me.  

Overall, there were some things I loved about the book (the first section, the illustrations, the playlist), and some things I didn’t love (the entire second section). But since it’s such a unique book, I do think it’s worth a read.

Review: Winters of Summers

Click the picture to purchase the book on Amazon

Rating: ★★★★★

I’ve read all of Michael Faudet’s poetry books and he continues to be one of my favorite poets. 

This is his fourth book of poetry and I love seeing how he has grown and developed as a poet. His first book, Dirty Pretty Things, was strictly romantic. This book, on the other hand, was still focused on romance and love, but he would drop in a poem every now and then that focused on social issues. For example, “Respect” was all about treating women with respect and “Trigger Warning” was about how we value guns more than the lives of people. Those poems were a nice surprise. There was also a touch of self-awareness to that I found very clever.

Out of all of his books, this one had the strongest prose pieces. Typically, I’m a bit indifferent to his prose; they never really leave a big impression on me. However, the ones in this book really impressed me. “The Wedding Present” and “Winter of Summers” were two of my favorites. I hope he writes a novel sometime in the future because I think he cultivated his prose into something special.  

Overall, this was another strong collection from Faudet that was both romantic and smart. 

Review: A Dangerous Duet

Click the picture to purchase the book on Amazon

Rating: ★★★★

I received this book for free free as part of an Instagram tour (TLC Book Tours specifically) I did to promote the book.

This was a very intriguing historical fiction mystery.

The book’s strongest point was that it was very atmospheric. It nailed that grimy Victorian England vibe perfectly. The author did a tremendous job bringing that world to life and evoking an air of mystery. 

I liked how the book focused on the unsavory parts of Victorian England. From the life of orphans to brothels, this book showcased it all. It was really interesting to see that mixed in with the musical element. It all worked really well together.

As for the mystery, I thought it was good up until the end. It was a fairly straight forward mystery so I wasn’t necessarily wowed by it. It was pretty much solved about 75% of the way through. The rest of the book was just the resolution and aftermath of it all. That being said, it was a very action packed last quarter. 

There was a little bit of romance in this as well, but I could have done without it. It felt a little forced. The book would have been just as strong had it not been there. 

Overall, this was a compelling historical mystery that will make you feel like you are actually in Victorian England. 

Review: How to Leave

36711240

Click the picture to purchase the book on Amazon

Rating: ★★★

I received an ARC of this book for free through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers.

This book did not start off very strong. I wasn’t really into it at first. I got about 50 pages in and was sort of “eh” about it. Part One consisted of a lot of rambling. There was no focus; just a bunch of random anecdotes that were all over the place. It also seemed like it was trying way too hard to be funny. As the book progressed, it did get better.

Once the author started writing about her new home in Wisconsin, there was more of a focus and some funny parts. For example, I did enjoy the bits about the culture shock.

IMG_2335.JPG

I think the book had an interesting goal in mind: a tongue in cheek “guide” on how to leave a big city. However, I didn’t think this actually needed to be a whole book. The book seemed to repeat a lot of the same ideas about moving over and over again. There just wasn’t a lot of actual substance to warrant an actual book. The whole thing could have been consolidated into a couple of chapters in a larger memoir or even as a magazine editorial.

Overall, this was an interesting read that did have its moments, but would have been better off as a shorter work.

Review: Hearts Unbroken

38564416

Click the picture to purchase the book on Amazon

Rating: ★★★½

I received an ARC of this book for free from the publisher (Candlewick Press) as well as from LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers. Yes, I ended up with two ARCs because I had sent a review request to the publisher (which they granted) and had entered to win the book on LibraryThing (and ended up winning a copy).

I was so excited to read this book because I have read very few books about the Native American experience and wanted to learn more.

IMG_2372

I loved the premise of the book and the message behind it. Native Americans and their experiences are always swept under the rug when it comes to racial inequality, so it is important to have books like this out there. I learned a lot from this. For example, L. Frank Baum’s racist attitudes towards Native Americans. I never knew that because it never gets mentioned.

I also liked how the author incorporated some Mvskoke words into the story. It was a nice touch.

However, the book’s execution was a bit lackluster. To me it just seemed like there was a lot going on. Not only was there a lot about racism but there were also a little bit of slut shaming and bullying thrown in the mix too. This was all on top of a romance story too. I wished the book would just focus on one main issue, instead of trying to throw it all in. It would have had more focus and been more impactful that way.

Overall, the book had a powerful message despite a few flaws in the execution.

Review: Sleep, Merel, Sleep

40550195

Click here to purchase the book on Amazon

Rating: ★★★★

This was such a cute children’s book! As a 23 year old with no kids, I’m not necessarily the target audience, but I still liked it. 

Since this book was about dreams it gave me a lot of Alice in Wonderland vibes. The main character, Merel, encountered many interesting and unique characters throughout her journey. A few of them reminded me of various Alice characters. For example, King Marmott reminded me of the Queen of Hearts because they were both pretty awful rulers who chased after the title character. 

The other characters were great as well. I especially loved Merel’s encounter with the moonfish. That was my favorite part. 

IMG_2443

The book had a whimsical quality about it that went perfect with the dream theme. The author created a beautiful world with her prose.

I loved how the flashbacks to Merel’s real life were woven into the story. Each little flashback gave insight into Merel, her life, and her sick baby brother. 

I would have loved to seen a map or illustrations because I feel like that could take the book to a whole other level. 

I also wished the book was a tad bit longer, but that’s probably because I’m an adult not a kid. The book is an appropriate length for a young reader. 

Overall, this book was a fun adventure through a child’s dreamland that both kids and adults will enjoy.