Tag Archives: family

Book Review: Salty, Bitter, Sweet by Mayra Cuevas

Blink
TBP March 3rd, 2020
320 Pages

Seventeen-year-old aspiring chef Isabella Fields’ family life has fallen apart after the death of her Cuban abuela and the divorce of her parents. She moves in with her dad and his new wife in France, where Isabella feels like an outsider in her father’s new life, studiously avoiding the awkward, “Why did you cheat on Mom?” conversation.

The upside of Isabella’s world being turned upside down? Her father’s house is located only 30 minutes away from the restaurant of world-famous Chef Pascal Grattard, who runs a prestigious and competitive international kitchen apprenticeship. The prize job at Chef Grattard’s renowned restaurant also represents a transformative opportunity for Isabella, who is desperate to get her life back in order.

But how can Isabella expect to hold it together when she’s at the bottom of her class at the apprenticeship, her new stepmom is pregnant, she misses her abuela dearly, and a mysterious new guy and his albino dog fall into her life?- Goodreads

Trigger Warning: Death, Adultery, Mourning, Drugs (ish)

Despite the trigger warnings this book wasn’t that deep and I would peg it as adorable and touching read.

I loved the cooking within this novel and the author really should have included a chapter or a page with all the recipes that were highlighted within the novel. Cooking is very important to me. Its one of those things that take so much energy out of you but in a good way. A lot of love and heart goes into cooking if you do it right and the author, Cuevas, doesn’t just use that as a foundation but it is what the entire novel focuses on. I was soaking it up.

Isabella for the most part has a one track mind and for most of the book only sees one road to her dream. There is huge character development for as sometimes our dreams take different turns and for Isabella that take some huge turns. What I love about that point in the book is she isn’t doing it because of a boy. Is there romance in this novel? Yes. Does some things happen? Yes but it is a series of events, conversations about her career that she has with other people that brings things to light. I was so happy that the boy (although amazing) was not the reason for how things play out.

The pace of the novel was slow. It moved slow and at some points you just wonder why Isabella makes things so difficult for herself sometimes. There could have been more things fleshed out within the novel such as more details about her mother and her mother’s mother. I also wanted to see more of a relationship with her father. These were the areas that could have been developed and again . . . I really wanted to see those recipes.

Overall, this was a good novel. It was inspiring.

3 Pickles

Book Review: The Ghost Collector by Allison Mills

Annick Press
TBP: Sept. 10th, 2019
192 Pages

Shelly and her grandmother catch ghosts. In their hair.

Just like all the women in their family, they can see souls who haven’t transitioned yet; it’s their job to help the ghosts along their journey.

When Shelly’s mom dies suddenly, Shelly’s relationship to ghosts—and death—changes. Instead of helping spirits move on, Shelly starts hoarding them.

But no matter how many ghost cats, dogs, or people she hides in her room, Shelly can’t ignore the one ghost that’s missing. Why hasn’t her mom’s ghost come home yet?- Goodreads

This book is heavy but the good kind of heavy. Although the summary states that Shelly is going to lose her mother, I wasn’t expecting it to happen. The author did a fantastic job of making you feel invested in Shelly’s world that you feel the pain as Shelly feels it. And again although the summary kind of tells you what happens next, you are not exactly expecting it. I felt so bad. Everything in me felt so bad for Shelly and how now her whole world is these ghosts and wondering where is her mother.

Shelly doesn’t have much of a personality but that doesn’t mean she is growing. Because that is what we are reading; a turning point in her life that helps her grow. The best word to describe Shelly is inquisitive. She wants to learn and another important thing to note is she lives for ghosts, her grandmother and her mother. She wants nothing more than to be a ghost hunter to help ghost go on and to make her grandmother proud.

When her mother dies, everything changes. What I loved about this book was how it was written. It was so easy to get into this read, to get into this world, to see it and feel it. The words just flows so smoothly and it isn’t only easy to read for children but as an adult reading about a child and how they handle and overcome grief this was great.

The pace of the novel was fantastic and I loved the fact that the story is only told in Shelly’s point of view and there isn’t a best friend influencing her emotions but instead its her learning about herself. I believe adding other voices to this story would have made this book lost its luster and Shelly’s voice would have been lost.

The ghosts, because I am sure you are wondering, are and aren’t the focal point of the story. They are important and push a lot of the story. However, they are the foundation that help lift the story but they aren’t the main point.

Overall,

A great read about grief that I would recommend for a child that understands what is going on and for an adult, any adult.

4 Pickles

Book Review: The Rosie Result (Don Tillman #3) by Graeme Simsion

Text Publishing
Published Feb. 5th, 2019
376 Pages

Don and Rosie are back in Melbourne after a decade in New York, and they’re about to face their most important project.

Their son, Hudson, is having trouble at school: his teachers say he isn’t fitting in with the other kids. Meanwhile, Rosie is battling Judas at work, and Don is in hot water after the Genetics Lecture Outrage. The life-contentment graph, recently at its highest point, is curving downwards.

For Don Tillman, geneticist and World’s Best Problem-Solver, learning to be a good parent as well as a good partner will require the help of friends old and new.

It will mean letting Hudson make his way in the world, and grappling with awkward truths about his own identity.

And opening a cocktail bar.– Goodreads

It has been some time since I completed a series. I am one of those readers that avoid reading the last book of a great series because I don’t want it to end. The reason I decided to read this is simple. It was an ARC lol and I wanted to read it, soak it in and share my thoughts.

I thoroughly enjoyed this series. Graeme has a way of opening your eyes to people you would have never given a second thought to. Or to people that you’re like huh . . . I wonder what they are about but you never talk to them. This series isn’t overly complicated in setting or even characters. It is simple but with an explosion of emotions and thought.

This particular book, the last one to the series, goes through several topics including parenthood, platonic and intimate relationships, race (just briefly) and happiness. What stuck out to me was something that Don and myself almost missed.

Sometimes you get caught up in saving others that you forget what is most important. Yes, your true priority will always be in your mind but there can be several different reasoning for what you are currently doing that will distract you from it. When this clicked in my head, when it clicked in Don’s head, I knew instantly what Graeme was doing with this book and I was all for it.

Was this read slow? Yes, it was. Was it, sometimes, painfully detailed? Yes. However, Don has always been that character to provide more information or think more deeply than others and it only made sense that he stayed this way. I was so glad to see that after getting married, raising a child that Don and Rosie did not change who they were but made it fit for each other because they loved each other and the life that they built.

However, as much as I think this book was a solid read. Something was missing. Like the two previous books, this focuses on Don and how he navigates life and the people that are in it. But the interactions with his son and Rosie did not feel genuine in a way. There wasn’t enough Rosie in the book. There wasn’t enough care on their relationship and this was huge for me as she is the cause for the entire series. Yes, it focuses on their son but there were very specific topics that included her and yet she wasn’t present. I wanted more Rosie.

Overall, solid book, great series that I would recommend to anyone that is looking to step out the box a bit.

3 Pickles

 

Book Review: The Afterwards by A.F. Harrold (Illustrations), Emily Gravett (Illustrations)

Bloomsbury Children’s Books
TBP: March 19, 2019
208 Pages

Ember and Ness are best friends, completely inseparable. Ember can’t imagine what life would be without Ness. Until Ness dies, in a most sudden and unexpected way. Ember feels completely empty. How can this even be real?

Then Ember finds a way into the afterworld-a place where the recently dead reside. She knows there must be a way to bring Ness back, so she decides to find it. Because that’s what friends do: rescue each other. But the afterworld holds its own dangers. How far will Ember go to make things the way they were again?

Paired with enchanting illustrations from Emily Gravett, A. F. Harrold’s powerfully woven tale explores the lengths we go to for the people we love. -Goodreads

This book was generally hard for me because I recently experienced a death in my family that is taking time to find peace with. I began this book knowing what it was about but not fully understanding that it will come with some emotional investment.

You feel for Ember. You feel for Ember because she is anyone that ever wanted someone to come back. It isn’t that Ember doesn’t understand death, because she does. When she finds that there is a way to bring Ness back, she won’t accept death and that makes the difference with how the book is presented.

There are two parts within this novel that chocked me up. The beginning and towards the end. In the beginning you are in the present looking back. At no point within the novel do you feel that you are looking back in the past. You know you are but the author did a fantastic job making you feel as if everything happening is in the present that you forget what happened in the beginning until the end.

The end . . . I can’t say much because it would give away so much. But what I can say is Ember has one of the best character developments I have seen in quiet awhile. I am extremely glad that she keeps her innocence. She doesn’t let what has happened change her in a way where she is no longer the same person. She changes yes but she isn’t 13 going on 30. I appreciated that on so many levels.

The pace of the novel was fantastic. You are invested within the novel because of the emotional aspect of it and that is more than enough to keep you going. At no point did I feel the book was moving too slow or there wasn’t enough going on. The illustrations matched the feel of the each chapter and if you are a crier you will.

Ember deals with a lot within this novel and it isn’t just the death of Ness that does it. The afterward shows her something that she didn’t know she wanted and how she handles it, makes you wonder where she gets the strength from.

Is this a hard read for a child as in too sad? Maybe; it depends on the child. But as an adult I can see this as a book to help children letting go.

Overall,

3 Pickles

Book Review: House of Ash by Hope Cook

Amulet Books
TBP Sept. 26th 2017
320

After hearing voices among an eerie copse of trees in the woods, seventeen-year-old Curtis must confront his worst fear: that he has inherited his father’s mental illness. A desperate search for answers leads him to discover Gravenhearst, a labyrinth mansion that burned down in 1894. When he locks eyes with a steely Victorian girl in a forgotten mirror, he’s sure she’s one of the fire’s victims. If he can unravel the mystery, he can save his sanity . . . and possibly the girl who haunts his dreams.

But more than 100 years in the past, the girl in the mirror is fighting her own battles. When her mother disappears and her sinister stepfather reveals his true intentions, Mila and her sister fight to escape Gravenhearst and unravel the house’s secrets—before it devours them both.- Goodreads

If you ever read Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake then that is what you mind is going to gravitate to. The story is similar to the whole boy falls in love with a person from the past who is dead. That is where the similarities end between the two books because for the most part this was a very straight forward story. This is not to say it wasn’t a good read, it was just very linear.

Curtis is going through a really hard time taking care of his father, who has a mental health illness and his younger sister, who is a bit of a brat. I appreciate the author speaking bringing attention to mental health illness in the book but there was a bunch of things lacking with it.

It isn’t really discussed as into what he is actually dealing with. All that is known is that hospitals are no, his father needs to be a schedule and he can become violent. Yes, you find out what happened for this illness to occur but I guess wanted it to tie into what Curtis discovers about himself and his bloodline. I liked the fact that it was in the story and it showed how teenagers deal with a sick family member and the responsibility of it. It made Curtis complex that is for sure.

In regards to his sister, she is un-loyal, she expects her brother to understand and try to get to know her but she does not do the same at all. She doesn’t give as much as Curtis does and she depends on him to fix things and then gets mad. I didn’t like her at all and she should have been a stronger character and way more supportive of her brother.

Beyond the characters the overall story was alright. As I previously mentioned it is really straight-forward and not a whole lot happens in both the present and the past. When things pick up, you get pulled into the story but it didn’t deliver like felt it could of.

Overall, this wasn’t a bad read and I do recommend it because it has some good writing and it makes me want to read more of this author.

3 Pickles. 

Book Review: The Warden’s Daughter by Jerry Spinelli

Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers Published Jan. 3 2017 352 Pages
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Published Jan. 3 2017
352 Pages

Cammie O’Reilly is the warden’s daughter that lives in an apartment above the entrance to the Hancock County Prison. Although her father is active in her life, she is missing her mother. A mother, who saved her only daughter from harm. 

Known as Cannonball, Cammie is about to turn 13 years old and is looking for a mother figure within a shoplifter and a reformed arsonist of a housekeeper. Going through the motions while her best friend begins playing with makeup, Cammie has no idea everything she has ever known or thought of is about to change in the most dramatic way. 

Short Review*

I had issues with this book. The first being Cammie. This is a difficult time in her life and she is learning to find herself, HOWEVER, she is a spoiled brat that is completely selfish and treated one of her mother figures like crap just because she didn’t get her way.  Let me give you an example, you have a housekeeper that you like but you do not like when you are told to do something by them because they are a housekeeper. So you proceed to call her out on it and remind her who she works for. That is Cammie. I get she is a child but she is a child that thinks everything out before she does it. Things like this happen all the time in the book and I was frustrated with it.

The book overall was lackluster. I understand that it is a coming of age book, but almost nothing happens a majority of the time. The tone rarely changes; so everything starts to sound the same. I didn’t appreciate how the main characters was viewed. The book is set for 1959 until the end; so there are things that are to be expected but there were some things that cannot be overlooked such as the view of a black woman.

Beyond that, I felt that Cammie a an adult had no real remorse for what happen, for the life she affected and for the things that was done. I felt a sense of entitlement even after everything was said and done.

I did not enjoy the pace of the novel and I think because of the issues within the book, I lost the purpose of the story.

Overall,

2 Pickles

Manga Review: Tasogare Otome × Amnesia by Maybe

Kaze Manga Published 2014
Kaze Manga
Published 2014

A young woman was left to died in the old building at the Academy for Sincere Teachings. Niiya Teiichi, a freshman, gets lost in that building and sees this young woman’s ghost. The two join together to find the truth about her death and past. 

*Review of the entire series. 

This manga was fantastic. If you do not mind some ecchi, then don’t read this. The plot. the pace, the mystery and the horror all moved together perfectly in each book.

I liked how the romance wasn’t over done nor was it completely obvious. It could have went either way and I appreciated that sort of “suspense.” Niiya was a character I didn’t think to like. He stayed true to himself and what he wanted and nothing stopped him from that. There was a love triangle… well other people were interested in Niiya but it was one sided. Perfect.

The artwork was great. There was horror not graphic, not bloody but certain images did provide the horror. What I really did love about this book is it was a huge game of telephone. Not everything was what it seemed, not everything was a lie. It was a great blend of what the babbling of high school students can and cannot do.

I can go on and on about this series but it would give a lot away. Overall, unforgettable story.

5 Pickles