Saturday, May 27, 2023

Book Review: In The Clouds

In the Clouds 
by Elly MacKay
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A cute imaginative take on a child flying on a bird to be amoungst the clouds. We learn about different kinds of cloud and the precipitation they release; all while enjoying the beautiful, simple artwork of illustrator and writer Elly McKay.

Canadian, McKay, does a great job of creating a book without too many words for a great bedtime story length. It’s soft pastel like colours are soothing and even when it gets a bit dark, in the stork we are comforted. An excellent purchase for any child; while it stars a little girl, I see no reason why that should matter and find this appropriate for all genders, religions, races, and backgrounds.

The best page might be at the end of the story. Kids have written in questions about clouds and McKay answers them in very simple, yet scientific, terms. Additionally if you (or your child) want to learn more about clouds McKay includes a short bibliography to get you started.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Friday, May 26, 2023

Book Review: Where Darkness Blooms

Where Darkness Blooms
by Andrea Hannah
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wouldn’t say this is an original concept; but the writing is quite good. Most of our characters (of which we have quite a few) are well put together and have distinct personalities. We have a queer lesbian relationship; as well as couple straight ones. So Where Darkness Blooms checks off my queer representation box.
What is a bit odd here is the obvious men versus women dynamic. Make it a weird evil curse or presence on the land all you want; when the men are targeting only women it sends a message. This oddly skewed message is why I drop this rating down to four stars. I didn’t like that all the men were pretty awful and (seemingly) unredeemable. Whereas the women were given passes for doing some equally awful things. One could argue the girls did some of those things to save themselves; but it still sticks out to me as gender disparity.

One of the major points to the novel is one I want to see more authors tackle (especially in teen books). The idea that our caregivers, parents, important adults, etc. in our lives are not perfect. They are going to make mistakes, and it’s vital that we allow forgiveness for these errors. I’m still personally struggling with this from my own childhood. At 40 years old there are still moments i begrudge adults for; even when I know how hard it was at the time and how difficult a situation we were all in. And yet, somehow it feels easy to blame the adults of our childhood doesn’t it?
Andrea Hannah doesn’t go super deep into this idea; but she does graze it at the end and it just reinforced for me how much we need more literature that focuses on this concept. We must allow for errors as we are all human.

Overall this is a decent read. Certainly teens are likely to enjoy it and most adult readers of YA. If you’re hoping for ground breaking horror you are likely to be disappointed; but it’s grim enough that I wouldn’t remove the horror tag for Where Darkness Blooms. I’d definitely be game to read more by Andrea Hannah in the future.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Monday, May 15, 2023

Book Review: White as Witching

White as Witching
by Katherine Buel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a tough book to review. There is massive potential to it. Katherine Buel gives us a great twist on the classic Snow White story, with Ruby Red (her sister) included. I really wanted to know the characters better and have more world building more. Unfortunately White as Witching focuses mainly on plot, and includes some internal turmoil that Snow White encounters with herself. But overall it's just not enough.

I really can confidently say this; as I'm currently reading The Bone Shard Daughter which is rich in plot, world building, magical descriptions, characterizations, and so much more! It's top notch writing; and thus really brings into stark contrast what is lacking by Buel as I read them one after the other. The good thing about that is that I think Buel has real potential. The plot is interesting, the attempt to get to know Snow White and her feelings is there; and the world building seems to have a basis that will work.

Buel needs to really focus in on what motivates her characters, give them more dimension, better dialogue (which is commonly a struggle for authors in fantasy it seems), and just bring the overall writing up a notch. It might not ever be at the high fantasy level; and that's okay if it stays in the romantic new adult or teen zones. However just because it's a book that doesn't necessarily go into the fantasy section (and stays more romantic) doesn't mean it can't be written at the level that will give more detail and satisfaction to the reader.

If I had to currently describe White as Witching I'd say the whole story is flat, pedantic, formulated, and (honestly) boring. BUT I give this three stars because I can see the potential in Kathrine Buel's story telling. I truly hope she keeps working on her writing and brings us future stories. The talent is there, it just needs some more time and work to get it to a four or even five star review level. /

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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