I'm not the most active user here on Booklikes. In fact, sometimes I forget that it even exists. However, I endeavor to come back and post more stuff that I enjoy.
My reviews aren't guaranteed to be something you agree with and my perspective on books isn't something most people generally want. However, I still hope that there's something you can gain from them and you don't feel as if you've wasted your time reading them.
Don't just take my word for it; read the books yourself and form your own opinion!
Title: Dead and Breakfast
Series: Cayo Hueso Mystery #1
By: Kimberly G. Giarratano
Categories / Themes: Mystery, paranormal, ghost, young adult, angst
Read: 21st February - 25th February, 2017
Rating: 1 / 5
Obtained: Kindle Scout (Nominated)
Crossposted Review to: Goodreads, Booklikes, Amazon
Dead and Breakfast (Cayo Hueso Mystery #1) by Kimberly G. Giarratano is about a small hotel, the Dead and Breakfast, which is marketed to people who are interested in knowing about its haunted past. Autumn Abernathy and Liam Breyer both work there. Autumn is someone who has become accustomed to the ghosts. She can see and communicate with them. However, it's Liam's first day and, unfortunately for him, one of the ghosts has taken a dislike to him. Throughout the book, both teenagers try to uncover the mystery behind this unfriendly apparition. The excerpt on the Kindle Scout website is what first drew me to the book. I liked the introduction of the characters and the welcoming to the Dead and Breakfast. However, much like the events in the plot, things took a turn once I actually began reading past the excerpt after I received my copy. This review is kind of lengthy and opinionated, just to warn you.
Autumn and Liam are the two narrators of the plot and it switches back and forth between them.
Liam isn't the most interesting person on the planet, but he has some good thoughts here and there. The relationship between Liam and Autumn is pretty bad and somewhat cringe worthy. There are a lot of tacky areas where others keep on telling them not to be together; Autumn's mother and Victoria both have problems with it. Though neither have particular reason to be upset with the relationship. For Autumn's mother, it's pretty much just meant to seem like she doesn't want Liam turning out like her own ex-husband, though she's no reason to think it. With Victoria, the only real reason we're given is jealousy; which doesn't make much sense either. It's a fairly typical "love" story and it kind of feels like they're just together because the author has deemed it so. I don't sense much real relationship, or get the feeling that they even like being in each other's company. The most cringe worthy moment is late in the book where, for no reason, there's one of those scenes where the antagonist kisses Liam and then Autumn walks in. I hate those moments in media; it's just a bit where one character is meant to be making another one jealous. However, Autumn was already plenty jealous of her. It's all really generic.
Autumn's parents have recently divorced. Autumn was brought to the Dead and Breakfast by her mother, from where they had lived in New Jersey. Autumn is desperate to return there. She longs for the memories she had there whilst growing up and would love to return to that happy point in life. She's miserable here at the hotel. It definitely shows in the entirety of the story. She's a somewhat hateful person. In the beginning, I understood it as a general dislike for her position. However, later on, I realise that she's just a spiteful person in general. No matter what goes on, there's just so much she dislikes, and she's just so angry all the time. She goes about the place and deliberately antagonises people she dislikes.
There are a few antagonists, but Victoria is pretty much the primary one. She's... Not very original. She's your generic mean girl. Realistically there isn't much reason to hate her, in my opinion, but the author keeps on trying to thrust this opinion on us. Characters keep on implying that Victoria is a terrible person because she's rich and beautiful. Nothing wrong with either but, for some reason, that's cause enough for people to look down on her. So, basically it's just others being jealous of her. Just because she has money and her grandfather is an important person, doesn't mean that we should hate her, despite what the author is trying to imply. Another reason given, in Autumn's case, is that she doesn't like her because she thinks Victoria is entitled. One example, soon after we meet her, is that Victoria asks for Autumn's class notes because of a quiz and Autumn internally mocks her for not doing well in classes. Really, this just makes me look upon Autumn more negatively; she's just bullying someone who's looking for genuine help with school work. I'd like to point out that Victoria didn't actually seem that entitled to me. She hosted a party for her friends. Though it had a cover charge, that money went to charity. She even offered Liam money to help him start a business. Sure, it had strings attached, but at least she was giving him an opportunity. Really, I can sort of see why we're meant to dislike her. There is the basis for demanding and selfish behaviour. However, the majority of situations where she's involved/ mentioned are scenes where Autumn and Liam are bullying her. They make fun of her behind her back, mocking her for not being smart or for her appearance. Things like that. I'd like to comment here that there was some negative behaviour on Victoria's part, such as pushing Autumn in the pool. That's obviously not acceptable, but nor is Autumn and Liam's behaviour. Yes, she does make fun of the hotel for being haunted, but Autumn does it more than Victoria does. Autumn absolutely loathes the place, so why should she care about some random thinking it as haunted. To be honest, Victoria's comments about the place being haunted come off as jokey to me. She comes up and tries talking to Autumn, making conversation. As much as we're meant to see Victoria as a bad person, the behaviour of both Autumn and Liam are worse, in my opinion.
Going back to the "entitled" reason, I'd like to discuss Autumn's character a bit here. It seems to me that that Autumn shows far more feelings of entitlement than Victoria does. That's pretty much the basis for Autumn's entire character. I'll explain: Autumn desperately wants to go back to New Jersey because she misses it there. However, she has no money for college. Plus, she blames her mother for spending money on the Dead and Breakfast- her college fund, in particular- when she feels that she ought to go to college instead. Let me point out that, though it is her college fund, it isn't really her money. It's money that her parents have been putting aside and her mother just happens to feel that it's more important being put towards a business. Autumn has all sorts of complaints about others with this whole New Jersey thing. She blames her father for not being able to accept her back- despite the fact that he has a child on the way, which is a good enough reason for me. She hates her friend for not being able to take her in- which, I'd like to point out, she oughtn't have to; it's not her friend's fault that she's in this position. She complains at her mother for taking them to Florida in the first place. She hates the Dead and Breakfast, and any of the ideas people have to better it. Sure, Victoria might be entitled in Autumn's mind, but Autumn is pretty much the epitome of entitled. She blames everyone else and is pretty ungrateful in general. Autumn shows much more feeling of entitlement than Victoria does.
I'm mystified as to how much Liam and Autumn really hate Victoria. If either of them really hates Victoria so much, they wouldn't have gone to the girl's party. Autumn even comments that Liam probably only did it to annoy Victoria. They essentially both know that they're just going to the girl's party to bother her and try and make her jealous. Even when they get there, there are a lot of complaints from both of them. Autumn, for example, has problems with the house being so big and there being a cover charge (which goes to charity, I'll point out). She's making herself miserable, and trying to make others miserable as well. The party is a particular event. It's pretty much the epitome of all teen movies. We're meant to think that Victoria's cool because she's got a mansion and catering. There's nothing wrong with that, but I don't see why Autumn's meant to be surprised by any of it. Plus, it doesn't make sense that Victoria would just push Autumn in the pool. The author has very little reason for her to do it. None of the conversations with Victoria and her friends make much sense. It's just generic mean girl stuff, but without any point. From what the author implies, Victoria doesn't like Autumn. Well, later scenes make it obvious- where she tries and pays Liam to stay away from Autumn. However, a lot of her behaviour suggests otherwise. If I'm honest, it kind of seems like Victoria is actually trying to befriend Autumn. She often tries to come and talk to her, even asking her about her life. Why would she ask for Autumn's class notes, rather than someone else's? Why would someone who supposedly dislikes Autumn so much VOLUNTARILY come up and talk to them so often?
Autumn is a quite pretentious character. She's desperate to go to college but, for some reason, she's definitely against community college. It seemed odd to me; she was interested in taking a journalism course, but has no experience. Going to take courses at a community college would be great to help her along that path. Yet, for some silly reason, she was quite set against it. Jennifer is her father's girlfriend. The back-story is that the father cheated with Jennifer, Autumn's parents got divorced and now he lives with Jennifer. They're expecting a kid. Apparently Jennifer and Autumn are about the same age. Okay, I get that everyone dislikes her because she's "the other woman", but Autumn has some pretty hateful things to say about her. Again, we're led to hate someone, despite not having the full story. There's probably a LOT more behind the relationship, but the author just has these inane reasons for why we should hate her. Yet, Autumn makes contact with her father several times, wanting to move back into their house, despite hating Jennifer so much. That just makes no sense; she's desperate to move in with a woman that she hates? She just expects everyone else to accommodate her wishes, no matter how difficult or expensive it is for them. Just as long as she's happy...
It's pretty *beeping* obvious that, if you dislike someone, you should probably stay away from them.
The actual mystery and investigation aspect were somewhat generic. Many TV shows and other books I've read have similar plots at times. As for supernatural aspects, I could have probably done without them. I wasn't particularly interested in the actual supernatural happenings; I felt that they could have been better dealt with. For example, the reasoning the author gives for Autumn being able to sense the ghosts isn't very original. It was really reminiscent of things I've seen in some movies and TV, even in genres such as science fiction. I'm reminded, in particular, of an episode of Stargate SG:1 where it was the explanation for certain alien appearances. The primary reason she was looking into the ghost of the ring was for a potential college opportunity. However, after the initial mentions of it, that plotline was sort of dropped. We saw her researching the ghost, yes, but we never really saw her writing any notes or an indication that she was recording this for journalism purposes. If she was planning on using any of the information, she should have been at least making sure to get some evidence of it. The plot in general is alright. However, I think that there are people who don't get a proper introduction and there are a lot of portions that feel missing. For example, the areas where we're meant to hate Victoria and the father's GF. Right now, they aren't there. Some characters get kind of lost. Timothy, for example, is a character where I just seem to miss a lot of information about him and don't really feel like he fits in. The same can be said of the primary mystery aspect. I think, had the author focused a lot less on Victoria, and actually worked to build a better plot, we would have a much more intriguing mystery.
I didn't particularly enjoy any of the characters. To me, the majority are just ordinary people. However, others have behaviour and feelings that don't make sense. For example, the hatred towards Victoria and Jennifer. Autumn is just such a spiteful person and she displays such a poor attitude. Yes, I get that she hated her situation. However, she could have made the best of it. College costs a LOT, so she could have been using community college as a way to build her knowledge, and a part time job to build her funds, before heading to a more expensive place. However, for some reason, she thought that she was above that. Other characters, such as Victoria, just show such weird behaviour. I know that she's just meant to be an antagonist, but the least the author could do is have Victoria's actions make some sense. To me, it just looks like she was just stuck into the book to have someone to hate. As much as I appreciate the free book, I feel like it just needed a lot more work in a variety of aspects. The character behaviour/ opinions are unbelievable and the plot/ mystery aspects are generic. I first nominated it because I thought it was an interesting premise and I liked the author's writing style in the excerpt. The thing I'm primarily disappointed at is that the rest of the novel doesn't follow through with my expectations of an original plot and characters.
Overall, I wish I could rate it higher, but sadly I was very disappointed with it.
I obtained a free copy for nominating the book on Kindle Scout and this is an honest review.
Title: A/Z of Wool Embroidery
Edited By: Sue Gardener
Categories / Themes: Non-fiction, craft, wool, stitches, how-to, sewing, embroidery
Read: 10th February, 2017
Rating: 5 / 5
Obtained: Borrowed from my mother.
Crossposted Review to: Goodreads
I've had an interest in sewing ever since I was a kid; my mother and nanna have always tried to encourage me to be creative. Though I don't necessarily have the money to take it up as a full-time hobby, I still like seeing the stuff that can be created. I have Pinterest boards dedicated to crafting and I adore seeing all the complex things one can make. I would say that I'm an intermediate stitcher. Personally, I think it's best for people at a beginner or intermediate level. However, I do encourage anyone at a higher level to give it a read; there's still a ton that I'm sure you can learn. I think this book teaches users very well. It breaks down each stitch with photographic examples and shows you how to create each one. Towards the middle of the book, it also gives examples of scenes to create, with the back dedicated to templates for the creation of such scenes. They're mostly wildlife; animals and flowers. However, if you're creative enough, I'm sure you can suit the templates and stitches to whatever you want to make
I know, in the title, it specifies wool. However, you can possibly do it with other mediums, such as cotton. It just depends on the pattern/ stitch you're trying. For example, Page 41 has a tutorial on how to make pompoms. I would recommend wool for this; as it provides a fluffier result. But, if we go a few pages further to Page 44, there's a tutorial on Roumanian Stitching. For this, I reckon it would be possible to achieve with cotton embroidery thread. Another interesting thing is that the book provides little bits of information. Pages 44 and 45 have notes on "Why Wool Shrinks" and "Caring for Wool Embroidery" respectively. I think these are good things for people to know. I'm sure a lot of people will find these and the other notations to be quite useful.
Overall, I think it's definitely worth 5 stars. It's got some great information and it really gives me, as a user, the inspiration I need to create my own scenes. Obviously you won't get perfection on the first try, but keep on practicing and I'm sure you'll get better! I borrowed this copy from my mother; however it is certainly a book I would like to buy for myself in the future.
Title: Diary of a Deadhead: A Wild Magical Ride Into the World of Sound and Vibration
By: Candace Carson
Categories / Themes: Non-fiction, music, Grateful Dead, autobiography, memoir
Read: 12th January, 2017
Rating: 4 / 5
Obtained: Goodreads Giveaway
Crossposted Review to: Goodreads
Candace Carson is a fan of Grateful Dead, a well known band. Diary of a Deadhead quickly goes through her life and follows her dedication to the band. From her childhood, we get a brief look into some very memorable moments in her perspective.
It wasn't just about the Grateful Dead; it was a look into what it was like to grow up in America during those eras. I found it interesting to think about her brother, Robin and his experience with the army. I also liked getting to experience those concerts through her explanations of them; what it felt like to be there and do the same things she did. I felt it interesting as the author's emotions changed during differing events. We get to experiences highs, lows, love and loss.
I don't think I've ever heard their music, but I still found it to be an interesting read. It was a good look into the author's life. It's a quick book and worth the read!
I won a copy of this book via Goodreads Giveaways and these are just my honest thoughts on it.
Title: Song of the Sending
By: Corinne O'Flynn
Series: The Expatriates #1
Categories / Themes: fantasy, coming of age, young adult, adventure
Read: 8th January - 12th January, 2017
Rating: 4 / 5
Obtained: Won an eBook copy via a Giveaway
Crossposted Review to: Goodreads
Song of the Sending by Corinne O'Flynn is a young adult novel, full of adventure. Despite living in a travelling carnival, James "Jim" Wales feels like he doesn't belong there. He's always felt as if he's not from the Modern World. One day, he receives a bird messenger, carrying a note from someone he believed to be long gone. Black Riders soon attack the carnival, led by a terrorist named Eldred. He is what is known as a Scholar, born with a symbol. As it turns out, Jim has a similar one. He is the one that Eldred hunts.
I wasn't impressed with Jim. He's an alright character, but he's kind of dull and the situations surrounding his life aren't the most original. Many are reminiscent of other young adult series that I've experienced. I thought that many of the foreground characters had interesting points to them. However, I felt like the author could have cut back a few characters. A lot of background characters were mentioned, despite having no part to play in the book. I wasn't a fan of the Jim / Charlie relationship; it didn't seem like a very important part to the plot, in my opinion. I can appreciate that he has feelings for her, but I think he had better things to think about and (to me) it kind of seemed disrespectful to the people who had died. I didn't really like Sam; as a character, some of his comments seemed depressing and I felt like some of his actions only served to make him seem like a third wheel.
I didn't necessarily appreciate all of the magical happenings. Charlie's magical power development seemed odd as she had no indication of it before going across the bridge. It did have an important part to play in the book, but I think it could have been better explained. I appreciate that there are differences between Bellenor and the Modern World, but a bunch of things don't make sense. For example, Bellenor and the "Modern World" were separated centuries ago due to the "Great Shift". The Modern World has advanced to present day, with Bellenor stuck in some kind of medieval/ Middle Ages setting- or so it appears to the characters. Why has Bellenor not advanced from that point in time? More to the point, why are they able to understand each other so easily? Not to mention, the people are speaking English, no less. In centuries, the English language has changed a LOT as it's taken on new words from all sorts of countries and it mutates day to day, depending on slang and new inventions. However, the people in Bellenor speak modern day English, but that doesn't make sense; they would have a lot of differing cultures depending on their own people. So, although they have travellers from the Modern World, they would likely have their own language. I could understand similarities, but not the exact same language. I think that some other things are unclear as well. In the beginning, it almost seems as if Jim has little knowledge of Bellenor. Yet, later on, he seems to have more knowledge of it- and the events during the family's departure- than others have.
Overall, it was fairly well developed and I can see that the author has put a lot of details into even small, unimportant things such as background characters. Not all of it works out, in my opinion; I feel like some of it is unnecessary. However, I admire the author's dedication to building such a comprehensive introduction to the series. Whilst I wasn't a fan of many characters or all of their actions, I found that there were some intriguing points to their personalities and some of the choices they made.
I won an eBook copy of this book via a Giveaway and these are just my honest thoughts on it.
This book by Chrystine Alyx is a story that questions "What If" Dana, a main character, had taken an opportunity with someone else rather than marrying her husband. She asks Mattie, a co-worker, to research what happened with Jamie- the "other".
The plot is quite alright. It has an interesting premise and I like that there's a mystery behind it. I felt that the mystery aspects could have been better plotted, however. I've been reading and watching mysteries for years. This one seemed reminiscent of many ones that I've experienced before. As I read on, I don't feel that "What If" is an appropriate title. Yes, Dana wonders "what if I had gone with Jamie rather than getting married?" But the book doesn't really focus on Dana; it focuses more on Mattie, the person who is actually tracking Jamie down. Mattie doesn't really imagine "what if" in the way the title means; she wasn't the one involved in the scenario and didn't even know Jamie personally.
There were far too many characters for my liking. I didn't keep up with them all, I'll admit; I lost track because there were just so many. Many of them didn't get a proper introduction. I was mystified as to who Janet and Jamie were for a substantial amount of the book, despite both of them being quite important to the plot. I also didn't feel that Dana really did like Jamie's company; the flashbacks didn't seem reminiscent of some inspiring relationship. It just seemed like an ordinary seen. My thought is that she was just romanticising the moments they spent together.
I think that, primarily, the author just needs to tighten up her writing style. The majority of the book is very convoluted. It has a lot of characters and scenes which I feel were unnecessary. For example, the entire plot line with Mattie's sister's pregnancy turned out to be kind of meaningless to me. The same with the entire character of Dana. Despite her "What If" question being the premise of the entire book, I think that she was kind of useless and only served as a person to shame and blame for things. If she was so interested in finding this Jamie, than why couldn't she track the girl down herself? Sure, Mattie has experience in doing it, but if Dana was so interested, than she could have done it herself. This supposed interest just baffles me because she didn't really seem to care that much about finding Jamie, despite the way the author makes it seem...
Overall, I felt it turned out okay. It was an interesting mystery, but I felt that a lot of characters could have been dropped and the mystery improved.
I won a copy of this book via a First Reads giveaway and these are just my honest thoughts on it.
The Dream by Cornelius Elmore Addison. Just as the title of the book suggest, we begin with a dream. The narrator finds themself out the front of Mack’s One Stop Character Shop. Upon his entry he finds that, though even he doesn't know it, he's been looking for a gnome.
Mack, owner of the aforementioned shop, is quite the character! I appreciate the added quirks and all the items he sells. Norbitts is Mack's helping hand, a robot with a bit of an attitude. My favourite character so far is Lady Winter, a customer with several interesting requests. There are also a few illustrations so that people can visualise some of the characters.
I loved all the little trinkets and wares about the shop that the narrator takes notice of. It's interesting to read about so many unique things and how the characters interact with them.
I enjoy that the narrator position is left somewhat open so that each different reader might simply pop in and imagine themself in such a position. The personality traits, thoughts and actions are all understandable and I'm sure many will find the position to be relatable. Do I think the book lived up to my great expectations of it? Yes, I think it has. The characters and scenery were all somewhat enjoyable. I think it's a great story for people of all ages. Plus, I think I'm really interested in reading the other books of the series as well; the author has quite the imagination and has left a lot of room for some pretty awesome adventures! Overall, it's great and, though it's short, it's definitely worth a read!
I was lucky enough to receive a free eCopy of this book in return for an honest review.