Book Review: Fortunately, the Milk

Fortunately the MilkDetails:

Title: Fortunately, the Milk

Author: Neil Gaiman

Illustrator: Skottie Young

Publisher: HarperCollins

Release Date: September 17th 2013

Genre: Young Reader, Fiction, Action/Adventure, Science Fiction

Pages: 113

Synopsis:

“I bought the milk,” said my father. “I walked out of the corner shop, and heard a noise like this: T h u m m t h u m m. I looked up and saw a huge silver disc hovering in the air above Marshall Road.”

“Hullo,” I said to myself. That’s not something you see every day.” And then something odd happened.

Find out just how odd things get in this hilarious story of time travel and breakfast cereal.

My First Thoughts:

This book was loaned to me by my boyfriend’s younger brother who was shocked that I never read a book by this author. He was adamant about me reading this book, and the cover of the book looked amusing enough to excite my inner reader!

Overall Thoughts/Opinion:

Oh my…that was bloody fantastic! The story, the characters, the illustrations, all of it was amazing and I don’t know where to begin!

Even though this book was short, full of more illustrations than words sometimes, it told a story and really showed its characters better than some of the much longer books that I’ve read recently. The dad was a fantastic and witty storyteller, always thinking on his feet and going with the flow. The young daughter was serious about her music lessons while her brother was more interested in video games, but they both were attentive listeners to their father’s tale.

The story was quite a delight and always on the move, I never knew what to expect next. Time travel, dinosaurs, pirates, aliens, natives, and an angry volcano. This story had it all and I couldn’t guess what would happen next, which was extremely exciting and fun! I loved Gaiman’s use of creative license, how his words sometimes portrayed the action he was describing. Never once did I break from the story. Instead he used his creative license to make the words flow with the story and guide the reader along at the necessary pace.

And the illustrations that went with the story were amazing! The character designs were unique and fit each one, or group, rather well. They were the embodiment of imagination gone wild and they were fun, just like the story. I loved how Young used pen and ink to create such broad yet detailed, neat yet messy (but not lazy) images that went perfectly with each page. And I loved how sometimes the pictures told more than the words on the page, or lack thereof.

Final Thoughts:

I have to say that my boyfriend’s younger brother has fine literary tastes! I laughed and smiled throughout the entire book! It was so much fun to read and honestly it made my day. I can’t wait to read this to my own kids one day.

This story is a fantastic, fun adventure to read to your children, especially before bed to get their imagination going for dreaming. And let’s be honest, you don’t need kids to read this book. If you’re an adult I won’t judge you if you read and enjoy it, because I certainly did!

Rating(s):

Story: 5/5

I’m in love with Gaiman’s writing! This is the first story in a while in which I couldn’t guess anything that was going to happen. It was entertaining, but also gripping as I wanted to know what happened. I applaud Neil Gaiman in his ability to introduce so many characters and create such an elaborate story in so few pages. While I wasn’t on the edge of my seat, I was just as excited to turn the pages and see what would happen next to our heroic and witty dad.

Illustrations: 5/5

Skottie Young was phenomenal with his illustrations, they fit perfectly with this crazy, witty story. I loved how he used pen and ink to bring these characters and scenes to life, and I will definitely be looking out for more of his work!

Overall: 5/5

This is totally going into my favorites!

Related Reviews/Books:

COMING SOON!!!

Book Review: The F- it List

The F it List

Details:

Title: The F- it List

Author: Julie Halpern

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Release Date: November 12th 2013

Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance, Realistic Fiction

Pages: 247

Synopsis:

Becca has cancer. She doesn’t know what the outcome of her treatment will be.

Alex is Becca’s best friend, and wants to help. And if the only wat she can is by completing Becca’s bucket list, then so be it.

Sleep on a beach and watch the sunrise? Check.

Tell off Lottie McDaniels? Check, definitely.

Fall in love…Wait! What?!

Here is an unforgettable book about living fully, living authentically, and just…living.

My First Thoughts:

So I bought this book on a whim because I really loved the title. I don’t ever read books that focus on cancer, and no I’m not a heartless person, I’ve just lost too many loved ones to cancer to want to read about it too. But I decided to give this one a shot and make it the book that I read before/during St. Valentine’s Day! Sweet, I know…

Overall Thoughts/Opinion:

The first thing I have to say is I cried once while reading this book. It was within the first few chapters when the character’s cancer was still new. It wasn’t an overly emotional scene, but I imagined myself as the main character and what it would be like for my best friend to have cancer. Yea, I cried like a blubbering baby and it was 2 am…

Other than that one crying episode, my eyes were dry for the rest of the book. In fact, I spent a lot of it mentally screaming at the main character, Alex. Unfortunately, the weakest link in this story was Alex because she reacted in the most bizarre ways, at least in my opinion. There were many times in which I wanted to scream at her, asking her what was she thinking and why would she do that. I didn’t understand her character at all. I enjoyed that she loved horror films and made a lot of references to those movies and other fandoms. However, that’s where my love for her kind of stopped; beyond that layer was a bunch of half-assed character traits. She’s supposed to be a bitch, but feels really awful and loses her nerve when confronting someone who has antagonized her best friend for years. She’s constantly shaming herself for having a better life than her best friend, just because she has cancer, but tries to act all tough and strong to everyone. She blames herself for everything going on for no reason, yet can’t control the words coming out of her mouth. Alex was supposed to be a stellar student, though her behavior never really matched and she was never reprimanded for skipping class so often. And the one thing that I really hated was how she sought a physical distraction to everything horrible happening to her but didn’t really know the guy first; she only used him out of convenience and then fell in love.

Speaking of love, the main couple in this book didn’t really wow me. Call me old fashioned, but I prefer my romances to start with awkward flirting and end with the clothes ripping, though honestly it can stop way before that point too. I understand that relationships do often start in the reverse, but I just didn’t like how Alex and Leo treated each other for the first half of the book. The cancer love story that I would have preferred to read was between Becca and her love interest, but sadly we only got passing shots of the two of them and their relationship.

Becca was definitely the one that I preferred between the two best friends. I felt like her character was more rounded and that the mistakes and character flaws that she had were better explained. The story always got better when she was around, but sadly, she didn’t show up nearly as often as I would’ve thought. If Halpern wants to write this story again, but through Becca’s perspective and with her love interest, then I’d buy it in a heartbeat.

Final Thoughts:

If you enjoy contemporary romance with an element of cancer, or any of them separately, then this book may be for you. If you enjoy a book that embraces extreme use of foul language and won’t shy away from excessive (but not terribly explicit) ‘adult content’, then you may enjoy this book too. If you like characters that love horror films and are film fanatics, then Alex and Leo may make your day.

However, I don’t recommend this book to children under sixteen. As stated before, there’s excessive usage of foul language and more ‘explicit’ scenes in this book than I have ever read in a young adult book. Also, if you find those things distasteful, then there is no way you can enjoy this book.

Rating(s):

3/5

The story was all right, it kept me entertained for hours on the plane, and was simple enough. The plot was very straight forward and didn’t have a lot of weight to it, though at times is was carried on only by dialogue. The characters were pretty interesting and different, though I had a hard time connecting with the main character and by the end I never did. The love element was not what I had expected, and I thought that the main love was not as enjoyable as the side love. Overall, the book was average but not one that I’m overly excited to show to my friends.

Related Reviews/Books:

COMING SOON!!!

Book Review: What we Keep is not Always What Will Stay

what we keep is not always what will stayWARNING!!!! This book deals with PTSD and contains scenes from the Vietnam War!

Details:

Title: What we Keep is not Always What Will Stay

Author: Amanda Cockrell

Publisher: Flux

Release Date: June 8th 2011

Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary

Pages: 256

Synopsis:

Hear me, Saint Somebody

 

Angie never used to think much about God–until things started getting strange. Like the statue of St. Felix, her secret confidant, suddenly coming off his pedestal and talking to her. And Jesse Francis, sent home from Afghanistan at age nineteen with his leg blown off. Now he’s expected to finish high school and fit right back in. Is God even paying attention to this?

Against the advice of St. Felix (who knows a thing or two about war), Angie falls for Jesse–who’s a lot deeper than most high school guys. But Jesse is battling some major demons. As his behavior starts to become unpredictable, and even dangerous, Angie finds herself losing control of the situation. And she’s starting to wonder . . . can one person ever make things right for someone else?

My First Thoughts:

I came across this book while attending a writing camp at Hollens University one summer. I honestly can’t remember why I decided to pick it up, or what intrigued me the most because I’ve had it for a while now. However, when I picked it up recently I thought that the title and the book cover were so eye catching that it got bumped to the top of the reading pile.

Overall Thoughts/Opinion:

Honestly, it had been a while since I read realistic fiction and I almost forgot what it was like. I know crazy, right? However, it didn’t take me long to get into the swing of this book, and in fact it didn’t take me long to finish it either, just took a while to write the review.

The first thing I have to say is that this book is not what you expect it to be. By the end of the book, my mind had been blown away by what happened and it took me away to piece it back together. What I mean is that this book is an emotional rollercoaster that you can’t get off of until the last swirl, spiral, loop-dee-loop, and heart-stopping drop is over with.

The ‘romance’ wasn’t one of the big players in this game. Instead, romance kind of took a back seat to the Coming of Age theme in this book. Sure, the romance helped Angie in some of her growth and added to the climax. However, the main focus of this story was the growth of Angie, a young girl not yet 16, in a modern time of war, death and divorce. The book focused more on how she reacted to certain big events and how they changed her throughout the story.

I also found this book to have a more realistic outlook on how a teenager goes through school and what they would focus on in the narration. Too many times I have found authors writing a very Hollywood version of high school that’s so unrealistic that it becomes distracting. However, I enjoyed the scenes in the high school and found them to be pretty realistic.

I’m always a stickler for a good cast, both main and supporting, so I tend to get picky with a book’s characters. With that said, I absolutely loved all the characters in this book. Cockrell did an amazing job picking out people from all walks of life and piecing them together perfectly like a jigsaw puzzle. Every character had a specific role and both the main and supporting characters showed change over time. She also does a good job of making them human and not dolls or actors in a movie. I loved Angie as the narrator, sure it was a little disorienting at first, but it soon grew on me. It didn’t take long for it to feel like she was actually telling me this story from her childhood over drinks. She narrated in snap shots, describing scenes in chronological order but didn’t always flow smoothly together. Sometimes she went into detail about something random that didn’t quite make sense at the time, but by the end of the novel it all made sense in the grand scheme of things.

Cockrell also did an amazing job with picking out and stringing together bits of tradition and lore from the cultures that most impacted Angie. The author shows what life could be like for a child whose parents are of different religions and ethnicities. It was fun to read about the different traditions and lore because they spiced up the story rather nicely. It was nice to read a story with a person of color as the main character for a change and actually know it too.

It was also nice to see a romance between a nice girl and a guy with a mental illness. Warning, one of the main characters suffers from PTSD from fighting in a war. Sure, there have been books with the male protagonist suffering from something or another, but it’s never really addressed or adds anything to the actual plot. Cockrell, however, uses the mental illness as one of the driving forces in the story and how the illness not only affects the victim but the people who loves the victim as well. She also uses it as a good example, that no matter how hard you try, you can’t help everyone even if your heart is big enough. Taking on the burdens of another person doesn’t always help them in the end, but it will darken the circles under your own eyes.

Final Thoughts:

This book honestly surprised me. It had a bit of a rough start but it had a killer ending. The title is one of the most accurate and dead on titles I have read for at least the month, maybe even the entire year. The characters were so real and diverse; I honestly can’t say that enough! Felix was a hoot, even though he weirded me out when he was first introduced. It was quite the journey to read as Angie grew up and changed from good times and bad times. And it was also nice to see some of the people around her change as well, some even for the worse. Cockrell did an amazing job showing how war can not only affect the soldiers and the victims, but the people at home, removed from the war.

I loved the traditions and lore that she mentioned, really using them to flesh out who Angie was as a person and also the people of the town. I also love the Coming of Age theme within the novel, because let’s face it a teenager changes the most between 15-17 and it was interesting to read how Angie changed from the situations that were presented to her. It was also nice to see romance take the back seat to a story for once and for the male protagonist to be ‘fragile’ in some way, not in a bad way but the character isn’t oozing masculinity and drinking broody juice.

Rating(s):

4/5

This book was a bit of fresh air after some of the books that I read before it. I loved seeing how Angie changed and grew, and I also enjoyed watching the other characters change as well. Sure the main focus was on Angie, however, the writer did a very good job at showing how people in the background or just outside the spotlight also changed. The writing was unique and fun to read with diverse characters from all walks of life. I loved how she incorporated different traditions and lore from all of the cultures that influenced Angie’s life, it was a true picture of the ‘American Melting Pot’. And the ending was not what I was expecting and totally surprised me, which is hard to do most of the time!

I would recommend this to people of all ages, because I believe that it is one of those books that can teach people something different as they grow older. Younger people can relate to Angie, parents can relate to Angie’s parents, and veterans or people who know veterans can relate to Felix and Jesse.

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COMING SOON!

Book Review: The Golden Day

The Golden Day

Details:

Title: The Golden Day

Author: Ursula Dubosarsky

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Release Date: April 28th 2015 (first published March 23rd 2011)

Genre: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Realistic Fiction

Pages: 149

Synopsis:

In a year that begins with the hanging of one man and ends with the drowning of another, eleven schoolgirls must embrace their own chilling history when their teacher abruptly goes missing on a field trip. What actually happened that day? Who was the mysterious poet in the garden? And most important, Who can the tell about it?

Part gripping thriller, part ethereal tale, The Golden Day is a poignant study of fear and friendship that, in beautifully crafted rose, reveals how a single shared experience can alter the course of young lives forever.

My First Thoughts:

I’m not usually one for thrillers or mysteries; they’re just not my normal cup of tea. This one, however, grabbed my attention and I decided to read it if not because of the author’s note at the end. I decided to give it a try and broaden my bookshelves some!

Story Breakdown:

The Golden Day is a story set in Australia during the late 1960s and mid-70s. The man focus of this story is on eleven little school girls and a day that changed their lives forever, and the events that followed. However, out of the eleven, only four girls get most of the spotlight: Cubby, Bethany, Icara and Martine. Through these four little girls the reader gets to see how such a traumatic event will alter their psyche, but also push them forward into adulthood, leaving scars that not even time may completely heal.

Overall Thoughts/Opinions:

I loved that this story was set in Australia, because I’ve been there before and I don’t read very many realistic fictions outside my own country, let alone on the opposite side of the world. However, it was very easy to forget sometimes that these little girls were going to school in Australia. It was only when they mentioned region names or the Aborigines that reminded me that the story was set in Australia. The dialogue in the story didn’t really reflect where the girls lived, there were only a few instances where they used different idioms or colloquialisms that I recognized as Australian or didn’t recognize at all.

This story had kind of a large cast of characters, and even though it wasn’t a long story it was still hard to keep the different characters separate from time to time. It also didn’t help that four of the little girls shared the same name and didn’t go by different variations of that name. They were all just Elizabeth, of the four of them only two really said or did more than the others, and one of them only had maybe one or two lines. The author also did a quick character description every time a new character appeared, nothing fancy, she just mentioned the color of hair and eyes, how their age appearance, and possibly what they were wearing.

For me, it was hard to connect with some of the characters, especially the victim of the event. There were times in which they said or did something that resonated with me, but then they would destroy it by doing or saying something that angered me. Honestly, I didn’t feel bad for the victim, because I didn’t really feel any connection or emotion for them. They had some cool ideas and words, but they also had some nasty traits that tainted their personality and didn’t make me feel sorry for them. I felt more emotion and pity for the little girls involved, especially for Cubby and Icara whose interactions seemed to be the most detailed and drove the plot of the story. You see more about their friendship and their reactions to the event than any other girl.

I believe the most interesting thing about this book was the idea of it and how the author created it. The author tells you how she came up with idea in the Author’s Note, but I’ll briefly sum it up. The idea of the little girls and their kind of school life came from the experiences of the author herself. As for the events in the story, they were inspired by different artworks about schoolgirls from different artists, and some of the tragedies that occurred in different regions of Australia, mostly of either missing persons or awful murders. Also, each chapter heading comes from the title of paintings and drawings by Charles Blackman, who’s painting Floating Schoolgirl, planted the first seed in the author’s head.

The one thing that aggravated me the most about this story, was the over use of the word said. As having gone through a number of writing classes, and being a daughter of an author, it was drilled into my head that while said is a good word, it is overused in concerns to dialogue. I was always taught to use words in place of said, especially during scenes with a lot of dialogue to help spruce things up. So it annoyed me when I read over several said’s on the same page. The author did use some other words, but her go to was said, which I understand doesn’t bother everyone but it bothered me.

Final Thoughts:

If you love mystery thrillers, then this book may be up your alley. The mystery isn’t as cut and dry as it may first appear. In fact, the ending took me by surprise and left me a little unsettled and lost. The ending isn’t black and white; it’s up to the reader to decide what really happened. So if you don’t enjoy those kinds of ending then you may not enjoy this book. The ending may have been done that way to intentionally make readers feel unsettled like the girls at the end. However, if you don’t like that feeling then you should steer clear for this book.

If you’re interested about the human psyche and how different people respond to the same traumatic event, then this book may be of interest to you. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if a teacher picks up this book and adds to their reading list for class, either for English or Psychology. While it isn’t full of psychology terms or theories, it definitely allows a person to see the different reactions as if it were a real experiment. As for English, having gone through several reading intensive English classes, including a few years of AP English, this book just seems like it would fit into those reading lists, especially if the class was exploring literature of different time period and/or from different countries.

Rating:

3/5

I believe that this story while interesting, is just a good, average book. It’s a nice quick read for anyone who needs a break between large volumes of books. The plot is very straight forward with very few, if any subplots. There are no scenes that some people would consider unnecessary. And it would interest anyone who is curious about a child’s psyche and how children react differently to the same event.

Related Reviews/Books:

Coming soon!