Book Review -Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I got this book recommendation from author and Youtuber Jen Campbell’s video about comforting books to read during this time of Coronavirus, social distancing and uncertainty. I of course knew about Hyperbole and a Half comics from the internet, but when I found out there was a WHOLE BOOK, I could not resist.

I did indeed find Hyperbole and a Half comforting, and I could relate to it very much as a human being. Allie Brosh writes about real (and often ridiculous) human experiences, which we can all relate to, and which are quite hilarious (I may have been holding in laughter and tears as I read on the bus). The comics are, of course, hilarious as always, and add so much more to the text, though that was funny too. Brosh told stories from her childhood, about her dogs, and about looking at the bad parts of ourselves and accepting them as they are. My favorites were the stories from childhood, but I related no less to the others. Well, maybe less so with the dog stories, though I do desperately want a dog.

I recommend this book to anyone who needs to feel like a human being in all of this uncertainty at this time.

Also I’d like to mention that I read this book on Scribd, which, I believe, has been listing free books for those who have to stay home. Happy reading!




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Book Review – Death in Dark Blue by Julia Buckley

Death in Dark Blue by Julia Buckley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I am happy to say that I am still very much enjoying the Writer’s Apprentice Mystery novels by Julia Buckley. I will say that I liked the first novel, A Dark and Stormy Murder better, but I still enjoyed this second one, Death in Dark Blue.

The story continues from the first novel, continuing the struggle of Lena London and those who love her to solve the mystery of a disappeared woman. This novel has more romance, and the mystery becomes even more entangled. I won’t say anything more about the plot so as not to give the whole story away.

What I do wish is that this story involved more about books and the library that plays a bit of an integral part in this mystery – hopefully I will see more of that when I dive into the next novel. In any case, Buckley gives us a wonderful cast of characters, and a protagonist with determination and love for all of her friends and family.

I am excited to start reading the next book.



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Book Review – A Dark and Stormy Murder by Julia Buckley

A Dark and Stormy Murder by Julia Buckley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


In A Dark and Stormy Murder Lena London travels to the small town of Blue Lake to work with her idol, the author Camilla Graham. However, Lena gets more than she bargained for when a murder occurs in the quiet town, and several mysteries -and perhaps a romance- begin to overlap and come apart around her.

When I went to read this book, I was expecting a stupid and fun mystery – what I got was a thoroughly enjoyable mystery that gave me vibes of Jane Eyre and Anne of Green Gables. Lena London has the dream job I wish I had, and the entire story kept me glued to the page as I eagerly read to find out what happens.
The cast of characters are simply wonderful, with the main crew being Lena and Camilla, a police officer, and a man guilty until proven innocent. Together these characters support each other as wholesomely as anyone can.

Julia Buckley’s writing is simple, and yet you feel like you are present for everything Lena is experiencing. No the writing is not so sophisticated, but any story that can leave me in suspense is a great story to me! I’ve already ordered the next two in the series, and I’m eager to get reading as this book ends on a sort of cliffhanger.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants a good mystery. I guarantee you will all wish you knew such characters!



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Book Review – Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Through the Woods

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


If I had to pick a word to describe Through the Woods it would be gorgeous. I am always looking for new fairy tale and folklore retellings with horrific twists, and this gorgeous book did not at all disappoint. Through the Woods consists of seven tales, each one encapsulating some fear that we all see lurking in the heart of fairy tales.


The first tale simply illustrates the fear of what could be hiding under the bed.
The second, a sort of retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, illustrates the harshness of winter and the fear of possibly losing one’s family.


The third could be a retelling of any number of tales, including Bluebeard, The Fall of the House of Usher and the Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe, and vampire stories. The fear expressed here is the uncertainty of an arranged marriage – and of course the odd fear of the dead wife coming back for vengeance.


The fourth shows a man’s fear when a seemingly perfect copy of his brother comes back from the dead. Invasion of the body snatchers? Perhaps!


The fifth story is all about ghosts and spiritualism, both the reality and fears that come with it. A young woman who pretends to commune with ghosts. Her friend who can actually see ghosts. Who is more afraid?


The sixth story is similar to the fourth in body-snatching, albeit a bit more gruesome. The creatures featured in this story are what I would associate to the term “skin-walkers.” The fear here is, again, losing one’s family – and perhaps even oneself – and not being able to trust those around you.

he last story, which is not really a story, more of a moral, reiterates one of the big themes of all the stories in this book: getting lost in the woods, and either coming out different, or being eaten by the wolf.

I read this book so quickly, that’s how good the stories were – I didn’t want to put them down for a moment. And Carroll’s illustrations and art in this book had me absolutely entranced. I honestly may go back and just look at the art. It sets the moods of each story so well, readers will be mesmerized and enchanted, just as one would venturing into the strange woods that star in each story. I would love to see Carroll create more tales like this. It is the perfect bedtime story, and the perfect midwinter read.
I recommend Through the Woods to those who love fairy tale and folklore, who want to explore fears a bit, and who want to get lost in a good and gorgeous book.



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Book Review – Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar

Gwendy's Button Box by Stephen King

Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I tend to very much love Stephen King’s shorter works, and Gwendy’s Button Box is no exception. Set in King’s favorite setting of Castle Rock, Maine, this is a story about Gwendy, a young girl who is given a box covered in buttons by a man in a black coat and black bowler hat. The box improves her life drastically, but, as she learns soon after receiving it, the box comes with a price.

What I love about this story is that it is about making mistakes in youth, and making choices as an adult. Through our mistakes and choices, we all find out what is important in life; what we love and what we want to avoid; what we know is best for ourselves. Through Gwendy, King and co-author Richard Chizmar show how such mistakes and choices can affect life, albeit with help from a box bent on destruction. It is definitely a coming-of-age story; a horrific one.

The only thing I would criticize would be the illustrations by Keith Minnion included in this edition. There were not enough of them, and, to be honest, I wasn’t too fond of them. If there had been more I might have appreciated them more.

While this book didn’t scare me, I can tell you right now that if a man in a black coat and black bowler hat came up to me offering a box covered in colorful buttons, I would refuse to take it.



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Book Review – Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman

Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Did you ever imagine the ways in which time could be different? Did you ever imagine stepping through time to the past, future, or other version of time out of your wildest dreams? This book brings to life so many concepts of time, as I read them I felt like I was truly inside of Einstein’s dreams.
While this book is a work entirely of fiction, one could imagine that these are what Einstein would have dreamt about as he came up with his theory of time. He imagines time standing still, time moving too quickly, time in the form of pictures, time slowing down the higher or the faster you go, time circular and time linear, the consequences of immortality on time, and several others that stir the imagination.

That is what I loved about this book: it stirs the imagination and makes the reader think of all the possibilities the universe could have. Now I must admit that this is the type of book that would mess me up: any philosophy on the nature of time, space, and/or existence makes me think of possibilities, and sometimes what is possible can, shall I say, break my mind.

One other thing I loved about this book is the imagery. Lightman describes Berne and the surrounding areas so well you can imagine being there and seeing the city as Einstein did. You can hear the sounds of the bustling city, see the glow of the sun on the peaks of the Alps, feel it a living, breathing place in time.

The only real criticism I have of this book is that I wish there were more chapters that talked about Einstein himself and his life. There were chapters like this which served as interludes between the dream chapters, but I would have liked to have had more, and perhaps with more speculative analysis of the dreams from Einstein’s character.

I would recommend this book to those who love philosophical science fiction, to lovers of Jules Verne novels, and those who want to experience a different time. I would definitely reread this book again.



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Mooncakes – Extended Review

“Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers’ bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town.

One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods. As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any town home.

Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.” – Taken from the summary on Goodreads.

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu has been recommended so much by the internet book communities, and I was not at all disappointed. The artwork is absolutely gorgeous and the story is as heartwarming as any story could ever get. The diversity included in this novel is amazing as well, including diverse characters both real and mythological.

Overall, there really wasn’t anything I didn’t like in this novel. However, there were elements which I thought could be expanded upon. I feel like some aspects were limited, such as the mythology included in certain parts of the story. We see mythical creatures that live in the nearby forest, though with no explanation as to what they are or where they come from – all we know is that they are friends of the heroes. In addition to this mythology, I would’ve liked to have seen more lore about werewolves, which admittedly the protagonists are not so learned in. This they did a good job with, creating a limited perspective in the narration so that readers are able to learn and go on this adventure along with the protagonists. In any case, I hope perhaps Walker and Xu will go on to expand this universe a bit more, as not only do I want to know more about the mythology of Mooncakes, but I just want to read more of Walker and Xu’s work!

While there is so much explained about Tam’s (the werewolf) fight for self-realization, but not so much for Nova’s (the young witch). We see Nova at some odds with her parents about her not having left home to find herself. In the end she does decide to leave to find herself, but we don’t get much insight into the decision making that went on in her mind. While this isn’t necessarily essential to Nova’s character, I’d still like to have seen some more about her character and personality.

The following are the elements of this book I absolutely loved. One thing this book did phenomenally is portray diverse characters in abundance and depth. Nova Huang comes from a half-Chinese half-Jewish family – portrayed wonderfully by the joint celebration of Chinese New Year and Sukkot. She is raised by two grandmothers. She is also in a queer relationship with Tam Lang who is also, I assume, POC, and is non-binary. Unfortunately we don’t get to meet too many other characters besides Nova’s family and the antagonists, but I have no doubt Walker and Xu would portray them with the same care and depth.

What can I say about Wendy Xu’s art in this book other than that it is amazing. The colors remind me of Autumn (no surprise as it is very themed for Halloween), and while they are simple drawings, they are colored and expressed so vividly. I especially liked the trees and the art of the mythical forest creatures – I just want a whole book of Xu’s mythical creatures!

It is clear from the beginning that Nova and Tam have a history as childhood friends (and perhaps more), and so it was no surprise that they fell together so quickly in the beginning of the book. In addition, the two from the start are willing to work on their relationship, it’s not star-crossed or fated, it’s simply made and worked on by two people who have a lot of love to give. Of course there is a grand kiss at the end, but instead of it being a kiss after a long slow burn, it is a kiss of relief that things can finally settle.

I recommend Mooncakes to anyone who needs a bit of love and magic in their life.

I know this is my first book of 2020, but I can already see it being one of my favorites.

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Book Review – Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu

Mooncakes

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Mooncakes has been recommended so much by the internet book communities, and I was not at all disappointed. The artwork is absolutely gorgeous and the story is as heartwarming as any story could ever get. The diversity included in this novel is amazing as well: you have a non-binary character and their deaf girlfriend who is part of (what I believe is) a part Chinese part Jewish (etc.) family. Not to mention the diverse mythical beings, which I would love to see more of in Walker and Xu’s other works!

Most of all this is a story about love, family, and growing into one’s self.
I recommend Mooncakes to anyone who needs a bit of love and magic in their life.

I know this is my first book of 2020, but I can already seeing it being one of my favorites.



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Book Review – Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King

Cycle of the Werewolf

Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This short novel of Stephen King’s was a fun and chilling read. Very easy to get through due to the pacing of the story and entertainment factor, I read Cycle of the Werewolf in about two hours. The story shows a view of how a town might react to the arrival of a murderous werewolf and, in my personal opinion, King got most of it pretty realistic. There are two big reactions to a kind of upset like a werewolf: everyone going completely ballistic, or, as in this novel, everyone doing absolutely nothing until a child takes matters into their own hands.

The illustrations by Bernie Wrightson perfectly captured the grim atmosphere of King’s narration, though I have one criticism (this would mainly be for the editors): a lot of the illustrations were placed a bit too early in the text, and so the reader would know what would happen in the plot based on the picture before the written event ever actually happened.

I recommend this book to those who want a short and chilling read. The gloominess of the art and the fact that the book starts and ends with snow makes it a perfect winter read.



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Book Review – The Bookshop on the Shore by Jenny Colgan

The Bookshop on the Shore

The Bookshop on the Shore by Jenny Colgan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


While this book is called The Bookshop on the Shore, it is barely about said bookshop. What it is about is love and family. Set on the shores of Loch Ness, Jenny Colgan has written a beautiful book, where one can see the Loch and the bright autumn colors of the highland landscape.
The book has a premise of Jane Eyre, with a young woman going to a strange house to nanny the children of a mysterious (and handsome man). It is this premise that pulled me into this book.
The only parts of this book I really would complain about are that there are certain passages that Colgan has written very confusingly. They are hard to understand, and could just be written better.

Overall Colgan has written a charming and vivid story, which I recommend to anyone wanting a trip to Scotland and a fresh start.



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