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Cynically Sweet (Booklikes)

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!

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Book Review: Dead and Breakfast (Cayo Hueso Mystery #1) by Kimberly G. Giarratano

— feeling angry
Dead and Breakfast - Kimberly G. Giarratano


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.

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1919390176

Book Review: A/Z of Wool Embroidery

— feeling love
A/Z of Wool Embroidery - R. Quilters, Sue Gardner

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.

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1908984948?

Book Review: Diary of a Deadhead by Candace Carson

— feeling excited
Diary Of A Deadhead: A Wild Magical Ride into the World of Sound and Vibration by Candace Carson (2015-06-18) - Candace Carson

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.

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1626762300?

Book Review: Basic Food- A History of Nutrition by Harold Kalve

— feeling bad egg
Basic Food: A Theory of Nutrition - Harold Kalve
Title: Basic Food: A History of Nutrition
By: Harold Kalve
Categories / Themes: Non-fiction, health & fitness, food, history.
Read: 12th January, 2017
Rating: 1 / 5
Obtained: Goodreads Giveaway
Crossposted Review to: Goodreads
Basic Food: A History of Nutrition by Harold Kalve is an essay that looks at the evolution of humans and the food we have eaten through time. It discusses a few diets as well as considers several nutritional benefits/ negatives of them.
It was an interesting look into history, but I felt it to be wildly inconsistent. I’ll explain using an example. The author states, on page 46, that he "started eliminating food I could not have eaten a thousand years ago, including corn (maize), corn products, and anything with corn products in it." Moving on a sentence, he says he also cut out rice, potatoes pasta and he soon after comments that he cut out ALL grain products. To my knowledge, I was under the impression that cultures had been using corn for thousands of years. I Googled it and came up with an article from wholehealthsource.blogspot.com.au : "The first evidence of a calorically important domesticated crop I'm aware of was about 11,500 years ago in the fertile crescent. They were cultivating an early ancestor of wheat called emmer. Other grains popped up independently in what is now China (rice; ~10,000 years ago), and Central America (corn; ~9,000 years ago). That's why people say humans have been eating grains for about 10,000 years."
If we're considering the foods a person could eat a thousand years ago we could still have all these things: corn, rice, other grain products, chocolate, cheese, beer... Heck, even the term "pizza" first appears in 997, according to Wikipedia / ~3000 BCE for Palm oil / ~5000 BCE: Fossilized remains of possibly cultivated potato tubers on a cave floor in Chilca Canyon.” - (Wikipedia). / “Polo ventured to China in the time of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) and the Chinese had been consuming noodles as early as 3000 B.C. in the Qinghai province. There is even some evidence there of 4,000-year-old noodles made from foxtail and broomcorn millet.” – (todayifoundout.com). Breads have been around for something like 30 thousand of years, according to the bread Wikipedia article.
Articles that I just referenced:
Pasta Is Not Originally from Italy - Today I Found Out: http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2011/06/pasta-is-not-originally-from-italy/
Anyway, my point about this is that he’s judging our diets for eating things so processed and mutated. He implies that we should go back to eating the same ways that our ancestors did. My position is that humans have been eating these things for thousands of years anyway. He himself cuts grain related products out of his own diet, yet we’ve been consuming things like bread for 30,000 years. He cuts pasta out, but we’ve been eating that for 4,000 years. Humans have been processing and farming foods for thousands of years. Obviously, to produce these things, they selectively farm to improve crops. Crops then evolve based on this.
The reason the author cuts back on these foods is because of domestic farming and that these foods have been mutated a LOT in the past thousand years. However, all foods have. Whether they be meat, grain, vegetable or fruit- they've all gone through massive changes.
For example, carrots used to come in all sorts of colours. However, due to selective farming, we mostly have orange ones these days. Things like crops have improved yields and animals have grown to very large sizes. Sure, the author suggests really negative things about such farming practices. But it’s only going to get worse as time goes on. Crops and animals are going to keep growing in size, especially over the next century. If you don’t like the way farmers do it, the only way you can pretty much avoid this is to grow your own animals and crops.
It's an essay about real food vs processed food. But, to me, the author’s argument seems wildly un-researched. He vilifies carbohydrates in particular, and shames a lot of grain related products. However, in my knowledge, it’s fine for people to eat grains; the problem is overindulging. He suggests cutting back on processed and modern day food. By doing this, we’re meant to go back to the same food we would have eaten a thousand years ago- yet he lists things (to avoid) that we actually did have a thousand years ago (pasta, corn, rice, etc)… Apart from it being here and there, I’m a bit mystified. We have a huge list of what to avoid, but that doesn’t leave much left for us to eat.
It has a few interesting points about human evolution, but the book is more scare tactic than proper food advice. The bottom line: if you’re worried about your food intake, make and appointment with a health professional who can tailor make a diet for you.
Note: If you also end up reading the book, I encourage you to research and form your own conclusions.
I won a copy of this book via Goodreads Giveaways and these are just my honest thoughts on it.
Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1876434302?

Book Review: Song of the Sending (The Expatriates #1) by Corinne O'Flynn

— feeling confident
The Expatriates (Song of the Sending, #1) - Corinne O'Flynn

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.

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1872452563?

What If by Chrystine Alyx

What If - Chrystine Alyx

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.

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1822788826

The Dream by Cornelius Elmore Addison

— feeling amazing
The Dream (Addison's Tales, #1) - Cornelius Elmore Addison

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.

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1859013502?

Shift Into Freedom: The Science and Practice of Openhearted Awareness

Shift Into Freedom: The Science and Practice of Openhearted Awareness - Loch Kelly To put it simply, Shift Into Freedom by Loch Kelly is a spiritual book. Though it is quite different in comparison to others I've read. Kelly is a psychotherapist and meditation teacher. In my view to the book, it seems he takes an information based look into meditation.

It's a good thing, of course; I appreciate how the author takes a lot of points of view into account. There are references into many different types of religions, as well as examples of practices from each and how they might relate to the reader. Even if you aren't religious, there is still information to obtain from these examples as it takes into account the efforts of others and how they obtain peace and awareness. There are quotes from experts in the field and he's also provided unique stories as to how he aids his students in their own paths to meditation, offering examples into their daily lives. There's obviously a lot of work and research that the author has done. There's a lot of information to gain from the book and, subsequently it is very text-heavy. However, that's certainly not a bad thing; the author takes a very in-depth look into meditation. The information is presented well, I think.

Having said that, I think that some might find the amount of information intimidating; it's a book about finding calm and it's a lot of stuff to take in. Some might find it a bit too much information to take in at once. However, if one takes it a bit at a time, I think they'll really appreciate the knowledge. My suggestion, if this is the case, is to simply take the information a little. It's worthwhile to savour the book, rereading if you feel it necessary (there's nothing wrong with doing that for such an in-depth book), and understanding these practices, in relation to yourself.

In addition to the paperback copy, I also received a copy of the audio tracks related to the book. It takes, in the author's own voice, a deep look into the meditation and provides exercises. I think it's very useful considering that reading is a different practice than listening. If one is reading the book, they will likely need to put it down in order to begin their exercises. With the audio version, we can simply pop it into a player and then listen to the author guide you, whilst doing whatever feels comfortable. I think that's a great option; not everyone feels comfortable in the same places or positions as another might. The audio is well done. There isn't any white noise (that I can hear) and the author takes his explanations slowly so that the feeling is calm and people are able to understand. I also appreciate the rate of his speaking as it gives people the ability to take in each word or sentence at a reasonable rate (and leaving gaps between some portions), letting us understand each portion before moving on to the next. My only fault to the audio copy is that it might be worthwhile having a content guide with the case, that isn't printed on the discs; one can't always see the content that's printed on the disc if it's in the player.

Overall, I feel that this book really does take on a different view to meditation and self help, one that I haven't found in others I've read. There's a lot of information to guide me and the author provides a lot of varying exercises to help me achieve peace. Personally, I don't think I gained all the wisdom I can from just one read, but returning to the book in future will definitely allow me to revise the information and gain new perspective into it, after initial meditation. Everyone learns at different rates, with different examples and information. The author has taken a lot of consideration into this, providing information that will help so many different people. I think it's a well done and quite unique view on meditation and peace.

I won a copy of this book via a First Reads giveaway and these are just my honest thoughts on it.

The Monsters' Anonymous Club: Don't Play with Dead Things

The Monsters' Anonymous Club: Don't Play with Dead Things - J.L. Lipp J.L. Lipp has presented us with an interesting group of children in The Monsters' Anonymous Club. In this book, a member of the club plays a prank on his mother. Unfortunately for Jeremy and his younger sister Kimmy, he finds that they were being watched. Now their mother has been inhabited by something and they need to help her, with the help of the rest of the club.

Each of the characters is very interesting. The author has included all sorts of back stories and personalities to them and I think that it makes them feel very natural. They have likeable aspects, but they also have a few flaws which make them seem realistic. I liked the introduction of supernatural abilities in several of the members; it was very helpful to the plot and the powers were useful to each member. I also like that the author has left room for future development of these abilities.

There are stereotypical aspects to the plot, such as an older man who shuts himself away and doesn't like children. However, I think the author has used the themes well, creating a very good story. The ending was very well done, I think; it's very sentimental and really makes me admire the kids, as well as the work they do. I think that readers will also find inspiration in the ending and take the moral to heart.

Overall, I really did enjoy the book. The author has clearly put a lot of work into developing each aspect of the plot and characters. There are highs, lows and even some freaky stuff going on. I think children will all find something to love about the book. Should there be a sequel, I would love to read it! I think it would make a great series.

I won a copy of this book via a First Reads giveaway and these are just my honest thoughts on it.

Red Wheelbarrow

Red Wheelbarrow - Terry R. Barca Red Wheelbarrow by Terry R. Barca is a selection of short stories. There are a variety of subjects, many of which have an interesting premise. I think the thing I like most about many of the stories is that quite a few of them are ordinary people and the plots uncover what they might do in a situation. For example, a found money type of scenario; some of the stories feature the characters finding a bit of money and their intentions are questioned. It doesn't necessarily ask me what I would do in the situations presented to me, but Barca's characters are so lifelike and relatable that I ask myself anyway. What might I do if I were to find a bit of money? What would I do if I found people trying to steal my car? Admittedly, they're not the most original story ideas on the planet, but the author imparts a lot of stylisation to his work so it's still quite unique.

There are a few negative things about the book, I must admit. In cases, there are minor spelling mistakes (desert instead of dessert, page 15; "during the desert course") and a few areas with missing bits of punctuation. Though I appreciate the photographs included with each story, I don't think that they're all necessarily relevant. In some cases, there are also bits which aren't exactly clear to the reader. An example of this is the story beginning on page 161, Never Say Never. It features some sort of private investigator, taking on a client. They're to photograph an affair in a restaurant. However, once the prints are revealed, we find a mysterious reflection of someone in a mirror behind the photographer. I think we're meant to assume that something nasty happened, "it got messy after that"; however it's not quite obvious. It kind of feels unfinished, much like some of the other stories. A lot of them are concluded with throwaway endings, summarised in only a few lines. I'm not angry about it, obviously; the stories are short so it's not like I've invested too much time in them. However, it does feel like some of the stories could be expanded to include better details.

Overall, I appreciate that the stories are quite whimsical in nature. Even though not every portion is relevant, that flaw makes it feel so natural; it's like a real person rambling on about points in their life in a sense. I think the main thing that bothers me about the book is that the stories are quite contained and we're meant to make the rest up ourselves. I think that some of these stories could be lengthened well into novella (or even a full length novel) form. For example, the titular story might make an interesting full length book; there's so much untouched information that we don't have. The stories that I particularly enjoyed were the private investigator sort. There's nothing particularly fascinating or unusual about them, but the author writes them well. So I also think that those would work well as a longer story. I think that there are some stories that will stay with me and I do intend to read more of the author's work.

I won a copy of this book via Goodreads Giveaways and these are just my honest thoughts on it.

Nebular Hypothesis

Nebular Hypothesis - Bradley Hoge Nebular Hypothesis is a book of poems by Bradley Hoge, a thoughtful commitment to the ones close to him- his family. The theme is the solar system. The author uses this as a way to symbolise his life and the events that go on in it. It's quite an interesting approach to a book and I enjoyed the author's works surrounding the varying features such as the planets. My favourite poem features Venus, a look into a difficult personality. I felt that the author has well characterised the planets, each with its own traits and unique touches. Other poems feature scenes of the author's life and are observations to every day life. My favourite of these is "Heart Beats in a Dusty Box". There are also a few reviews to others' works.

The things I didn't necessarily appreciate were the grammatical and visual choices in some poems. I know the poems are stylised, but it makes it difficult for me to understand. Geometry of poetry, as an example, appears like a huge block of text without a pause. Human Genome Project, on the other hand is created in a double helix appearance. It's an interesting approach to the message, but the spacing makes it difficult to read.

Overall, it is an interesting look into the life and world of Bradley Hoge. I think his love for his family is quite apparent and he dedicates these great works to them. Though I didn't enjoy every piece, I think the book is a pretty good compilation of the author's talent.

I won a copy of this book via a First Reads giveaway and these are just my honest thoughts on it.

Fromelles: Our Darkest Day

Fromelles: Our Darkest Day - Patrick Lindsay Prior to reading this book, I admit that I had not known much of the events of July, 1916. Nor do I think that I had known much of the Battle of Fromelles. This book was an eye opening experience and an incredible look into such a devastating loss to Australia. Fromelles, a village in France, is the location of a battle that spanned from the 19th to the 20th of July, 1916. With 5,533 Australian soldiers dead in a matter of just days, there's a lot to be explained. Our Darkest Day discusses a lot of aspects of the battle in question, providing various evidence of the goings on. We can view numerous photographs, letters and other sorts of research. Not only does it take a look into the historical aspects of the battle, but also takes a look into more recent effects. My favourite example of this is the epilogue featuring the story Harry Willis, a soldier who was lost in the war and how his family found him.

In my opinion, I'm pretty impressed by the amount of information provided to me by this book. As I admitted prior, I didn't really know much about the battle before reading Our Darkest Day. I appreciate that the book took multiple peoples' perspective of the battle. It's interesting to see how such an event had such a huge impact on such a range of people. Even nowadays, people are still baffled by certain portions of it and some families are still missing loved ones. Overall, I found that the book was an emotional journey. Fromelles: Our Darkest Day provided me with a valuable look to Australia's past and an insight to our loss.

I found some links on Google that one might like to view if you are interested in reading a little bit more about it.
The Fromelles Project aims to identify soldiers lost at Fromelles using forensics and historical information.
The Australian War Memorial
Graves tell story of the forgotten battle of Fromelles
'Dear Mother, I lost all but my life'

I won a copy of this book via Goodreads Giveaways, thanks to Hardie Grant Books, and these are just my honest thoughts on it.

Coastal Chef: Culinary Art of Seaweed & Algae in the 21st Century

Coastal Chef: Culinary Art of Seaweed & Algae in the 21st Century - Claudine Tinellis Coastal Chef is an interesting look into an ingredient that is culturally intertwined with many cuisines. Many people are likely to have tried it in sushi, but seaweed and algae can be used in so many different types of meals. It provides information about many authors and locations dedicated to showcasing such a diverse ingredient.

My first thought of the book is that it's really eye catching. There are beautiful photographs of scenery and recipes, showcasing the wonder of seaweed and algae. There are a wide range of colours and textures, with well-plated food. It is sure to inspire many a cook to give a recipe or two a try. The first thing the book does is take a short look at the history of the product and takes us through some of the health benefits. It also provides little explanations about several types and the locations where you might find them.

After we move on from the chefs and other introductions, we take a look at the recipes. In order, we can see seaweed and algaes featured in cocktails, accompaniments/ canapés, entrees, mains, and desserts. In addition to the range of meals you can feature it in, there are a variety of types of cuisine. Even if you chose not to use seaweed and algae in the recipes (either by choice or lack of product), you could still likely make the recipes using the ingredients you have available or try your own variants.

The only real problem about the cosmetic portion of the book is that the title font is a bit difficult to read in some instances, in my opinion. It's featured on most pages and isn't always legible. For example, the Accompaniments / canapés page- it takes a few moments to determine what it says and the same for some other instances as well. You might not be able to get some of the other ingredients, for example: pink Murray River salt, Thai basil, Vietnamese mint. Those, and several others, seem a bit obscure for me to obtain myself. Though, I'm sure you might be able to use other varieties depending on your need and the availability.

The seaweed and algae might also be difficult to obtain, depending on where you live and the complexity of shops in your area. I imagine that speciality shops might indeed have such ingredients available, or per request. So you could always try asking shop keepers if they could perhaps obtain some for you. Many of the recipes have the type specified, though I imagine there is some cost in trying to obtain it whichever you need. In addition, you might not be able to get it in the right form for each recipe, nor the right type of seaweed. Some recipes use whole seaweed, whilst others specify that they use specific powder or extract. Having said that, it might be possible to make our own powder or extract. If you dried certain types of seaweed and used a spice grinder to turn it to powder, it might be similar to the texture necessary. I've seen online guides on how to make ingredients into extracts before, for example something like vanilla. It might be possible to do the same for seaweed yourself.

I like a lot about the book and it's a very captivating introduction to a product I've never really tried before. I think these recipes are all very encouraging and I certainly will give some of these recipes a try in future. Though some feature products I don't necessarily like (fish, for example, but others might have different requirements), one can simply swap it for something they might agree with. The only major downside is that seaweed and algae isn't more widely available. However, I will be keeping my eyes out in future.

I won a copy of this book via a First Reads giveaway and these are just my honest thoughts on it.

Black Swan: Who Am I?

Black Swan: Who Am I? - Diann Maree Black Swan: Who Am I? is a book about the self awakening of Diann Maree. Covering six weeks, Black Swan is a series of journey entries and reflections as she makes a transformation. Following a seminar, she takes on a new outlook to life, finding new ways to deal with her experiences and life.

Despite being about the author's inspirational and spiritual moments, it's not really an inspirational or spiritual book to me, in my opinion. It's more the documentation of what the author goes through, rather than trying to help the reader to a similar stage of their own lives. That is, unless you feel like attending one of the seminars of this Van person. Mind you, I don't necessarily think you'll have such an awakening in your own life. It's not really explained completely as to what this seminar is, except that it has to do with stocks and investments. Later that night, the author wakes and is instructed to deliver a message. However, when she makes the phone call to the person, she has no idea what the message is.

I can't help being sceptical about this book, despite being a reasonably spiritual person, because a lot of it reads like an advertisement for the Van and Libby seminar/ course. She thanks them multiple times throughout the book. A lot of the entries mention work with partners and what's essentially homework (she mentions writing up reviews and doing questionnaires / responses to various things). However, we don't get much information as to what these tasks are. This is a bit bothersome because she finds certain inspirations from them and it causes a lot of thought to her. Yet, obviously this is a loss for the reader because we don't know what has caused these "a-ha!" moments or insights. I'd also like to take this moment to make a point. It's very based on this seminar, held by Van and Libby (plus the 28 day TFM course). This is the primary reason that the author has had these spiritual insights, her inner guide even encouraging her to further communicating with the pair. It's not just a mental thing, either; she writes of the burning feeling in her third eye and the heightened senses (she discusses being more aware of smells for a stage).

Also, I think some of the messages get a bit convoluted; for example, she mentions being a more loving person. Though, personally, I don't see scenes supporting that (though I'm not denying that she might be). However, it just doesn't seem that way (but that could be due to missing information). One memory she writes about (on pages 34-36, though it might be different in other editions) is that she goes checking waters with someone (though she didn't really explain who he was). At one point, he begins to skinny dip, she's ashamed and threatens to leave him walking home (they were in a utility vehicle). After this point, on another event, he mentions marriage to her (that her parents think they would be good together). However, for some reason she's upset about this and threatens him with a pitch fork. She mentions that she feels negatively about this person, but I can't help but find that it is she being the negative one instead; making threats in both of these examples, rather than talking her feelings out. He was wanting a little bit of fun with the skinny dipping and he was kind of proposing the idea of marriage. I'd like to point out that she, with the pitchfork, threatens to do bodily harm. I think there's a lot missing and that some of these revelations cause me to look upon the author with a negative light.

It's an alright book. However, as mentioned, I feel like there's a lot of information that I'm just not getting. I don't think that many of these things are very spiritual, either. I think it's just odd events (coincidences, new experiences, etc) that the author chooses to take in a new light. They might still have happened, had she not attended this seminar and/or had that spiritual experience, but her new information provides her with a different outlook of it. I think the message that has been clear to me throughout the book is that, if you want to find some level of spirituality, attend a seminar about stocks/ investing, make odd phone calls at weird times (bonus points if you have someone come to your door at an strange hour, questioning your pizza ordering habits). If you're looking for a book guiding you to spirituality, this won't be as helpful as you might think; it relies on coincidence and it's unlikely that readers will have the same experiences as the author. Apart from those faults, it's not a terrible book, but I think it still needs a lot more information to make some bits understandable.

I won a copy of this book via a First Reads giveaway and these are just my honest thoughts on it.

High Tides: Wading Through Depression - Every Day

High Tides: Wading Through Depression - Every Day - Candace Andrews High Tides is a short book that looks into depression, from the perspective of author Candace Andrews. I would classify this book as an introduction to depression and its effects on people. Though it's not a complete manual for dealing with it, it includes varying aspects on what one might deal with. It has information about varying forms of depression and similar mental illnesses as well as a little bit about the drugs one might be prescribed. It includes varying personal experiences that the author has been through; including examples of family members and people they've also met with similar problems. There are several quotes from books, as well as a bit of information about famous people who have suffered from depression and similar things. It also has what I would consider to be tips; it encourages people to do what they enjoy or to make plans for their future (even if they might not feel like it). As a further comment to that last point, I appreciate that the author has shared some of her personal writings such as the diary entries and poetry; it's an outlet that she's used to help her through her own problems.

Overall, I did like the book. Though, not every aspect spoke to me- I didn't particularly find a fascination with the discussion of medicines or similar things, but I did find some other, very interesting portions that I might find useful in future life. The portions I enjoyed most were the snippets of her life when growing up. Though I do have to admit that they sometimes felt a bit disjointed and didn't always have relevance, I did like reading about the varying things she and her family have been through during the struggle. Other people would, of course, like different aspects of the book. It's only a little more than a hundred pages, including acknowledgements and notes. I think that if you can get yourself a copy, you may as well give it a go and you might find something useful to you or someone you know.

For people who want to avoid such things; this book does include religious references. It also includes references to suicide.

I won a copy of this book via a First Reads giveaway and these are just my honest thoughts on it.

Are you living your resume or your eulogy?: And other short stories and anecdotes

Are you living your resume or your eulogy?: And other short stories and anecdotes - Richard Sauerman "Are you living your resume or your eulogy?" is a book by Richard Sauerman which contains short (really short) stories and several motivational passages. Apart from the initial cover question, it looks at where you're spending your time and asks you whether it's worth it. Is your nine to five job really worth the time you're spending away from your family? What about all that overtime and the furthered education? What about all of your assets; do you really need all that money and stuff? It's essentially a book which gets the reader to question what type of life they lead vs. the type of life they think they should be leading.

Personally, I think that I'm kind of disappointed in the book. One of the questions it asks is whether we're spending our time appropriately and whether we ought to be wasting it on certain things, yet it brings up references to movies and television programs that I have no desire to see. Why would I, as a general reader, take my precious time to take a lesson from characters I don't admire or storylines I don't understand? Many of the anecdotes and short stories are fairly common things that can be found on the internet already, some of them very generic. Others are twisted from stories his friends (or friend of friends) or his family has relayed to him. It just seems like the author isn't even leading his life to the fullest if he has so few original stories to tell us. Apart from that, I didn't find many of the passages to be very relevant to me. They're fairly common motivational messages, some things I've basically read already in the one or two other motivational books I've read, and didn't convey that "wow" factor.

I'll keep this short as I'm sure many of you have better things to do than continue reading my review. To summarise, it was a somewhat stereotypical motivational book which didn't inspire me in the least or offer me much original material. There are some good short stories and a bit of humour. It's a reasonable book, but I think others might find more from this book than I did.

I won a copy of this book via a First Reads giveaway and these are just my honest thoughts on it.