Book Review- Sad Perfect

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Sad Perfect by Stephanie Elliot
Expected publication by Farrar, Straus and Giroux on February 28, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Eating Disorder, Realistic Fiction
Pages: 320
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Goodreads

The story of a teen girl’s struggle with Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder and how love helps her on the road to recovery.

Sixteen-year-old Pea looks normal, but she has a secret: she has Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). It is like having a monster inside of her, one that not only dictates what she can eat, but also causes anxiety, depression, and thoughts that she doesn’t want to have. When she falls crazy-mad in love with Ben, she hides her disorder from him, pretending that she’s fine. At first, everything really does feel like it’s getting better with him around, so she stops taking her anxiety and depression medication. And that’s when the monster really takes over her life. Just as everything seems lost and hopeless, Pea finds in her family, and in Ben, the support and strength she needs to learn that her eating disorder doesn’t have to control her.

Sad Perfect was full of emotion and struggle. “Pea” (as her dad calls her… we don’t get any other name) has something called Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder, a rare but real disorder that many people don’t know about. The book is written in second person, which makes everything happening to Pea extremely personal, and I got to see through her eyes and understand what it means to live with this monster inside of me.

Sad Perfect is full of ups and downs (and other downs) as Pea struggles to kill her monster and live a normal life. Her family isn’t perfect, which honestly brings another level of realism to the book (I mean, come on. Whose family is really perfect?). The story starts on a high, with Pea meeting her soon to be boyfriend Ben. I liked Ben, but of all the characters he seemed the most fictional… maybe just a little too perfect, but he is also a sweetie and some people are just like that.

I loved how honest Sad Perfect was. Stephanie Elliot didn’t shy away from anything that was tough to talk about. She put all her cards on the table in a way that made my eyes swim more than once. Even for someone (like me) who hasn’t had a serious experience with an eating disorder, I found the book so easy to understand and relate with. Elliot takes a disorder that most people don’t know exist (much less understand) and lays it out in a way that not only raises awareness, but makes you understand what an impact a seemingly nonexistent disorder can have on a person and a family.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes contemporary, or anyone looking for a quick meaningful read that will stay with them.

I am going to give Sad Perfect four out of five hearts.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Book Review- Passing

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Passing by Nella Larsen
Published 1929
Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction, African American, Literature
Pages: 122
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Irene Redfield, the novel’s protagonist, is a woman with an enviable life. She and her husband, Brian, a prominent physician, share a comfortable Harlem town house with their sons. Her work arranging charity balls that gather Harlem’s elite creates a sense of purpose and respectability for Irene. But her hold on this world begins to slip the day she encounters Clare Kendry, a childhood friend with whom she had lost touch. Clare—light-skinned, beautiful, and charming—tells Irene how, after her father’s death, she left behind the black neighborhood of her adolescence and began passing for white, hiding her true identity from everyone, including her racist husband. As Clare begins inserting herself into Irene’s life, Irene is thrown into a panic, terrified of the consequences of Clare’s dangerous behavior. And when Clare witnesses the vibrancy and energy of the community she left behind, her burning desire to come back threatens to shatter her careful deception.

Passing was an interesting book. It followed Irene, an African American woman in the 1920’s, and how her life changes when an old friend named Clare comes back into her life.
As the title suggests, the book is about “passing” race. In this case, African Americans passing as whites. The characters were certainly intriguing. Clare was unpredictable and a little scary. She didn’t really care about anything except her own desires. Irene, on the other hand, believes that she cares about her family, and she does for the most part, although there are some things that she can only see her way.

The book takes place over several years and is written in three parts. The layout almost reminds me of a play, which is an interesting way to lay out a novel. The first part sets up the characters and the idea of “passing”. The second delves deeper into the issue and establishes who each of the characters are, two years after the first part. The third part is like a finale. Everything spins out of control until it comes crashing down in the end.
Passing deals with issues that we are still dealing with today, no matter how far we think we have come. It is interesting to see how the characters in this book regard racism, and what it actually means (for them at least) to pretend to be someone (something?) they are not.

I didn’t necessarily love this book, but it was a very thoughtful story, and I am glad to have read it. I would recommend this to lovers of literature, and anyone who wants a new perspective on racial issues both today and in the past.

I am going to give Passing three out of four hearts.

♥ ♥ ♥

Book Review- Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

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Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? by Joyce Carol Oates
Published October 1966
Genres: Literature, Contemporary, Horror
Pages: 20
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Her name was Connie. She was fifteen and she had a quick, nervous giggling habit of craning her neck to glance into mirrors or checking other people’s faces to make sure her own was all right. Her mother, who noticed everything and knew everything…

It took a couple re-reads of the short story to understand what was going on. Connie is an interesting character, battling with her boundaries and where she stands in the world. When she is left home alone and a man named Arnold Friend dives up to her house, she begins to see a darker side of the world.

This story was intriguing, and definitely worth the read. It is short enough to read in one sitting, although it is packed full of events. I loved the complexity of the story, and how more and more about the characters was revealed through their actions rather than through being told.

The ending of the story was a bit vague, so it is hard to know exactly what happens. It is left more open ended, which just adds to the mystery and intrigue of the story.

I would recommend this story to lovers of horror, who are looking for something a little more classic than what they are used to. This is also a great story for people who love when books get them thinking. This one will definitely stay in the back of your mind for quite a while.

I am going to give Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? four out of five hearts.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

 

Books of the Past

I’ve been thinking a lot about books I read as a child recently. Before I had a blog to document my feelings and opinions on books, I just had my memory (and of course the occasional elementary school book report). I’ve began to wonder how many books I have actually read in my life, and decided that it is impossible to count. I simply can’t remember every single one I have read. So I’ve decided instead of trying to remember every single one, I’ll share a few books (or series) that I remember having a big impact on me, or that I enjoyed very much. I’m not putting these in any particular order, just however they pop into my head.


1. The Magic of Spider Woman by Lois Duncan, Shonto Begay (illustrator)244612

Despite my crippling fear of spiders, this book never failed to enchant me. It tells a Native American tale about a woman who learns the secret of weaving from spider woman. However, this secret comes with a warming. When the main character ignores the warning, she gets trapped within one of her own creations. I remember reading this book over and over. The story was so interesting and the pictures were stunning. Of all the children’s books I read, this is the one that sticks out most in my memory.


2. Junie B. Jones (series) by Barbra Park958277

Of course there weren’t quite as many Junie B. Jones books when I was in elementary school ( I think there are 28 now?) but I always loved Junie B.’s adventures and thought everything that happened was absolutely hilarious (which it probably still is). We had a box of the books and home and a bunch floating around our classroom at school, so I never had to worry about finding one to read, even if I had already read them all a million times already (of course that’s an exaggeration…. unless it isn’t?).


3. The Magic Treehouse (series) by Mary Pope Osbourne 824734

Much like the Junie B. books, I read this series over and over again (and also there weren’t quite so many out when I did). I travelled in time with these books, and there was a new world to discover every time I did. It also didn’t hurt that there was a bit of mythology and magic thrown in (which began to show up more in the later books). After finishing a book I would go find my older brother (who is even more of a book worm than I am) and pretend that I was Annie and he was Jack, and go on adventures of our own. That is until we found another book to read!


4. Little House in the Big Woods (series) by Laura Ingalls Wilder441602

These books were probably my favorite stories. I loved Laura and wanted nothing more in life than to be her. Her life to me was something of a fairy tale, and it sounded so fun and adventurous. I loved reading about her moving across the country in the wagon and all the obstacles they ran into. I loved reading about how Pa built the houses they lived in as they moved west. And I loved reading about how she grew up and made friends and became a teacher and fell in love. And now all I want to do is read them again.


I could probably make this list a hundred thousand books long, but I think I am going to stop at four. When I look back and think “What books made me fall in love with reading?”, it is these books. I do have some honorable mentions; books that I loved but that I don’t feel exactly belong on the list.

The Cam Jenson books– These books were another great series, but I didn’t enjoy them quite as much as some of the other series.
Captain Underpants books– hilarious (and I loved the flip-o-ramas) but I got tired of them after a while
Encyclopedia Brown books– fun, but I think I only had one or two, so I didn’t really get into them as much as the other series
Harry Potter books– Okay, so don’t hate me for putting these down here. I did love them, but I didn’t start reading them until I was a little older, so I don’t really consider them “childhood books” even though they are technically for children
Ballet Shoes– I remember reading this book over and over and over in my third grade classroom, but as much as I loved it I don’t remember it as well as the books on my list, so I don’t think it quite belongs.


There were of course a lot of books that I liked, and if you want me to think up some more I would be more than happy to. But how about you? What books did you love as a child? What books shaped your childhood? I’d love to hear what they were!!

Book Review- Me Before You

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Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Published by Penguin on January 2, 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Domestic life, Family life
Pages: 385
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Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

I’m just going to go ahead and admit that I watched the movie before I read the book. (And by the way, the movie adaptation is pretty darn good). But I’m so glad I did, because otherwise Me Before You is not the type of book I would have probably picked up, no matter how many other bloggers I saw raving about it.

Me Before You was a beautiful book, full of hope and love and heartbreak in the most surprising and heart wrenching ways. Louisa (or Lou) is trapped in her small town and she doesn’t know it, until Will Traynor begins to show her what it is like to want something for the first time.

The characters and relationships in Me Before You are sincere and raw, and their struggles made me cry *ahem* more than once (to say the least).
The story is truly heart shattering and yet it is also one of the most uplifting books I’ve ever read. There’s this hope throughout the story, and it’s moving in a way I didn’t know I could be moved.

I would recommend this book to everyone, cause this is not the kind of story you want to miss. And if you really don’t want to take the plunge, at least watch the movie, cause it’s pretty much a watered down version (as in it leaves out about half of the plot) but it still gets the same message across.

I am going to give Me Before You five out of five hearts.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Giveaway!! The MacBath Literary Collection

Hi guys! So today I have a pretty awesome giveaway for you: Literary goat milk soaps from The MacBath!! How cool is that? I saw them and I literally just fell in love (and you will too… just wait). Rachel (the amazing woman behind the store) sent me some soaps and lotion to try out, and you will have the chance to win some too!

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So here is what I was sent. I got Gryffindor soap (because I’m a Gryffindor, obviously. No, but seriously I have taken the pottermore quiz a million times and I always get Gryffindor), I got a Sherlock Holmes soap (because I have been obsessed with Sherlock lately, and he is only the most awesome detective in the universe…. sorry Nancy Drew), and I got the Prefects bathroom lotion. Needless to say (although I’m going to say it anyway) I was thrilled when I opened the package. Everything is so cute and IT SMELLED AMAZING. Like seriously I just sat there sniffing it for 10 minutes. And then I took each thing out and sniffed some more. Don’t judge, you’d probably do it too.

The first thing I noticed when I picked up the Gryffindor soap was the bag, cause ya know, it’s in the bag. The bag feels like a good solid fabric, and I know I’m going to keep it around to fill with stuff when the soap is gone. And also the writing on it is beautiful (both the font and the words).

You might belong in Gryffindor
Where dwell the brave of heart.
Their daring, nerve, and chivalry,
Set Gryffindors apart.

The soap itself is also insanely beautiful, and has the Gryffindor insignia carved in it and filled with glitter. And the smell. Oh my gosh (and yes, I’m pretty sure half of this post is going to be me telling you how much I love the smell). It is called “spicy pepperberry” and I don’t really know how else to explain it except that is one of the most marvelous things I’ve ever smelled.

Here’s a little slide show of the Gryffindor soap:

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Next is the Sherlock Holmes soap. The bag is just as beautiful and has one of the best Sherlock quotes on it:

Watson, come at once if convenient. If inconvenient, come all the same.

Ahh, that quote gets me every time. The soap has the second half of that quote written on it. The soaps smell is rosewood and vanilla. It’s smell is not as strong as the other one, but just as amazing. It is now a smell I’m going to forever associate with anything Sherlock Holmes and I am 110% happy with that! Here’s a little slideshow of that soap:

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The lotion is also super amazing. Its thick and actually feels like it is moisturizing your skin. It’s blackberry and sage scented which is the actual heaven of lotions. Also the bottle is super cute (which I have to point out because I am a lover of all things cute). Here’s a picture of the lotion:

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So now you beautiful people have the chance to win a soap or lotion of your choice! I promise you won’t be disappointed. And, just incase you don’t win, Rachel clued me in that all of the Christmas products (which I’m sure are just as amazing at any time of the year) are 50% off if you use the promo code 50OFF at check out! And here is the giveaway:

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Good luck!!

Author Q&A- Ian Reading

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Ian Reading. Ian is the author of quite a few books including the Wizards of Waterfire series, The Dragon of the Month Club, and the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency series. He is an amazing writer, and I am so happy to have had the opportunity to ask him a few questions. So lets get into it!

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Q: How long have you been writing? Why did you start? 

A: I have been writing now for a few years.  Or maybe more accurately I should say that I was writing for a couple of years, starting a few years ago.  In the past 18 months I have not written much, unfortunately, because of being so busy.  (That’s a lame excuse, I know, but I am currently trying to reconfigure my writing process so that the constant stresses of my day job are not interfering with getting books finished.) 

Q: What inspires you to write? Do you have a muse? 

A: The thing that inspires me the most to write are the stories themselves – and the characters in them.  When I have an idea in my head and I am excited about it, I just have to see where it’s going to go, I have to see how the story develops.  And that pushes me to actually sit down and write it out. 

Q: What was the original idea behind your book Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold?kittyhawknewcover

A: The original idea behind the first Kitty Hawk book was the character of Kitty Hawk herself.  She was my muse.  I just loved the idea of a teenaged female pilot with her own plane, flying around the world and solving mysteries.  That was the basis for everything that followed and to a great degree because of that the stories just sort of wrote themselves. 

Q: Tell me about Kitty Hawk. What kind of person is she? Is she based off of someone you know?

 A: Kitty Hawk is unlike anyone I know in the entire world, but she is definitely someone I would LIKE to know – and someone I admire and would like to be, in fact.  She is smart and quirky and funny, and best of all she’s a pilot and has her own plane!  For me that is the coolest part about her, by far.  I often imagine her being able to fly up into the mountains and land her trusty De Havilland Beaver seaplane on a lake somewhere, and just be in nature, alone and peaceful.  There is such freedom and potential in that and I love it.

 Q: What other fictional characters do you think Kitty would get along with best? What would they do?

 A: Kitty Hawk would definitely get along well with Nancy Drew.  She is a bit of a Nancy Drew herself.  I think she would also get along great with the lead character in Carl Sagan’s Contact, Ellie.  They are both driven and ambitious and intelligent characters.  But maybe most of all Kitty Hawk would get along with Amelia Earhart (who is real, of course, not fictional).  They are both pilots, after all.  And they both want to fly more than anything else in the world.

Q: Where is the strangest place an idea for the book came to you?

A: Long before I really knew what the plot details of Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold were going to be, I found myself on a whale watching boat off the west coast of North America.  And being a proper naval vessel their radio was constantly tuned to the Coast Guard emergency frequency.  And at one point a Coast Guard bulletin came on calling for planes and vessels to be on the lookout for a missing plane that had taken off but not arrived at its destination.  This was tragic, of course, it could only mean one thing up in the bush pilot parts of the world – but what I remembered about it was the organization of the message, how the Coast Guard followed a specific protocol and structure, and months later that came back to me and found its way into the book.  The same protocol and structure as the Coast Guard called for people to be on the look out for Kitty Hawk’s missing plane.

Q: What is something you want the world to know?

A: I think what I would want most for the world to know (or at least the fans of Kitty Hawk and of the Dragon of the Month Club books) is this:  I am working on the next books in the series.  I promise.


Some more on Kitty Hawk-

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is the thrilling first installment in a new young adult series of adventure mystery stories by Iain Reading. This first book of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series introduces Kitty Hawk, an intrepid teenage pilot with her own De Havilland Beaver seaplane and a nose for mystery and intrigue. A cross between Amelia Earhart, Nancy Drew and Pippi Longstocking, Kitty is a quirky young heroine with boundless curiosity and a knack for getting herself into all kinds of precarious situations.

After leaving her home in the western Canadian fishing village of Tofino to spend the summer in Alaska studying humpback whales, Kitty finds herself caught up in an unforgettable adventure involving stolen gold, devious criminals, ghostly shipwrecks, and bone-chilling curses. Kitty’s adventure begins with the lingering mystery of a sunken ship called the Clara Nevada. As the plot continues to unfold, this spirited story will have readers anxiously following every twist and turn as they are swept along through the history of the Klondike Gold Rush to a suspenseful final climatic chase across the rugged terrain of Canada’s Yukon. 

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is a perfect book to fire the imagination of readers of all ages. Filled with fascinating and highly Google-able locations and history this book will inspire anyone to learn and experience more for themselves.

There are currently five books in the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series: Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold (book 1), Kitty Hawk and the Hunt for Hemingway’s Ghost (book 2), Kitty Hawk and the Icelandic Intrigue (book 3), and Kitty Hawk and the Tragedy of the RMS Titanic (book 4), and Kitty Hawk and the Mystery of the Masterpieces (book 5). Each book can be read as a standalone.

“In the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series the heroine finds herself in a new geographic location in each book. The series will eventually have a total of 13 books in it (maybe more) and her flight around the world will be completed in the end,” says Iain. “The books are sequential but one could definitely read any of the later ones before reading the earlier ones.”

For more information, go to http://www.kittyhawkworld.com/

About the Author: 

Iain Reading is passionate about Root Beer, music, and writing. He is Canadian, but currently resides in the Netherlands working for the United Nations.

Iain is the author of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series, The Wizards of Waterfire Series, and the dragon of the month club. To learn more, go to http://www.amazon.com/Iain-Reading/e/B00B0NGI6Q/

Connect with Iain on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.