Thursday, March 25, 2021

The Patient from Silvertree (Silvertree Book 1) by Marian Dribus

The Patient from Silvertree is a YA realistic fiction book that was sent to me by the author. 40 years ago, a brilliant scientist named Peterson invented a new drug to treat cancer. However, his experiments were unethical, and so he went to jail. Sixteen-year-old Lisa's father is an oncologist. One day an old friend of her father's comes to visit, delivering an ultimatum to treat her cancer with the drug Peterson invented. When he agrees to illegally treat her, it draws unwanted attention that puts Lisa and everyone she loves in danger. 

The Patient from Silvertree is one moral dilemma after another, where nearly each impossible decision brought them one step closer to losing their conscience or humanity. This story goes down a darker path of medical ethics and the life-and-death sacrifices one is willing to make for the ones they love- or the ones they loathe. While I tend to love inspirational stories, ones that show the darker side of humanity are just as- if not more- important.

Graham, one of the main antagonists, is my favorite character. He is not evil, but is held in an impossible situation and is forced to commit horrific acts. He does have a moral compass and seems to do his best to avoid violence. I love it when the "villain" has internal conflicts. I hope in the sequel his backstory is revealed. The book also touches on emotional issues, which were mostly depicted realistically. As far as the romance between Lisa and Josh goes, it was predictable, but also pressured and unusual. For the plot, that turns out to be an advantage.

This was one of the more interesting, skillful endings that I have read in a long time. Quite the contrary from happily ever after, this ending is perfect for the story's darker tone and setting with a perfect balance between resolution and the unknown. At the end of the day we want all the bad guys to be caught and the good guys to win- but is that realistic, or purely a false hope? I would argue that the cover needs to be adjusted to highlight that ominous focus, but that is the only critique I have.

I highly recommend this book and am excited to read the sequel that takes place four years later, The Scientist's Daughter

Title: The Patient from Silvertree
Author: Marian Dribus
Publisher: Marian Dribus
Pages: 275
Series: Yes, Book 1 of 2
Rating: 5 Stars
Goodreads

Monday, March 8, 2021

Kindled Embers (The Dryad's Cede Book 1) by K.C. Simos

Kindled Embers is a middle grade fantasy story that was sent to me by the author. When 12-year-old Eliza's foster father Jonas, a war hero, is falsely accused of stealing the Royal Pearl, she helps Jonas escape. Eliza decides the best way to clear his name is solve the theft themselves by following the riddles left behind.

Kindled Embers is a cute, fun story, but it also brought up a significant amount of moral issues and lessons. One of which surrounded what makes us worthy of being loved or receiving kindness. Differences in social class were very clear as a lesson of being kind and valuing everyone regardless of social standing was present. How adults behave does effect children; they are not invisible and are effected by the social environment. 

As far as the characters go, Eliza's personality and intelligence does fit with her age of 12, and she is relatable to how I was at that age. Even at 12 years old Eliza could see wrongdoing and injustice in her world. Eliza reminds me of myself at that age, always curious, enthusiastic, and determined. The plot was not predictable, and I was surprised and satisfied at the end. Personally, I don't believe a second book is needed, but I look forward to reading it. 

I highly recommend this book!

Title: Kindled Embers (The Dryad's Cede Book 1)
Author: K.C. Simos
Publisher: K.C. Simos
Pages: 132
Series: Yes, Book 1 of 2
Rating: 5 Stars
Goodreads

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Project Bold Life: The Proven Formula to Take on Challenges and Achieve Happiness and Success by Edward M. Kopko

Project Bold Life is a self-help guide to living a happier, more confident, and overall bolder life through their formula (a committed goal from the Bold Life Pillars (Pi), plus a stretch specific goal (S²) and an Action Plan (Ap). PBL=Pi+S²+Ap). Written by accomplished businessman and entrepreneur, Project Bold Life aims to help one transform their doubts and challenges into boldness and success. This book was sent to me by the company.

Self-help and motivational books are tricky when trying to be relatable and differentiating between lecturing, teaching, and simply giving advice. However, Project Bold Life did find a balance between this. Project Bold Life is broad enough for the messages to be relevant for almost all, but also specific enough so that they can be followed through. I also like how the advice and steps the book offered were explained in relatable, understandable parallels with Ted Talks, events in history, and songs. 

From word clouds to cartoons, the illustrations are both helpful, cute, and relevant. The cartoon to the right is a reference to how stress can be positive; diamonds cannot form without high stress and pressure. 

I enjoyed the empowering tone behind the Fall off the Horse Plan chapters, where one envisions what types of falls and issues they could have, with steps on how to get back on and people who will help them. Often, many books strive for positivity in goal setting and mindset, but fail to address what happens if something goes wrong. 

While this is a review of the book, I did look up the website, quizzes, and worksheets that the book mentioned. The worksheets are very specific in terms of goals for each day, each month, and each year; this provides a higher likelihood of it actually working. The website, projectboldlife.com, is more helpful than the book in my opinion in terms of helpful stories and precise steps. Project Bold Life certainly has some good ideas, but not most of what is in the book is not necessarily original.

I felt that the book spent too long explaining how and why it was/will teach the Bold Life Formula/steps and not enough time actually teaching it. I also wish that the features on people who completed the Bold Life Formula were longer and more detailed. I was unrealistically expecting a style similar to Chicken Soup's books. 

I do think this book and the website can help many people.

See this video on the project and the different pillars: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlmKgeQklUY

Title: Project Bold Life
Author: Edward M. Kopko
Publisher: Edward M. Kopko
Pages: 268
Series: No
Rating: 4 Stars
Goodreads

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Signs in the Dark by Susan Miura

Signs in the Dark is a YA mystery thriller novel that was sent to me by the publisher. 17-year-old Haylie Summers is kidnapped one night after getting a text that (supposedly) came from a classmate she liked, Nathan. Now she is tied up, gagged, and blindfolded for ransom. While Haylie tries to stay alive and piece together why she ended up there, Nathan tries to clear his name and fight to get Haylie back by any means necessary. Oh, by the way: Haylie is deaf.

Nathan is selfless and caring. He risked his life to find Haylie. Some might call him rebellious; I call him heroic. I have no doubt that he would make a great firefighter. Haylie is bright and a wonderful girl despite her being deaf. She leads mostly a normal life, and Signs in the Dark does tackle some audism and other stereotypes. I liked the diversity of characters' personalities. Mr. Kingsman, the hilarious and nutty neighbor, is my favorite supporting character. Particularly with Mr. Kingsman, I enjoyed the emphasis on how people are not always how they seem- or speak, for that matter. Haylie's involvement in the local Wildlife Rescue Center was a nice touch, especially with the signing gorillas.

The plot made sense, which is sometimes a concern with mystery novels. I enjoy watching crime shows like Chicago PD and NCIS, and as far as kidnappings go Signs in the Dark portrayed the crime and the kidnappers well. However, I will say that at times it felt like information-overload, and the reader can easily interpret and come to many of the drawn-out conclusions and explanations. Never underestimate the intelligence of the reader!

Title: Signs in the Dark
Author: Susan Miura
Publisher: Vinspire Publishing
Pages: 203
Series: No
Rating: 4 Stars
Goodreads

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

High Spirits (Spirits Book 4) By Rob Keeley

High Spirits is the fourth book in the middle grade fantasy series Spirits. This book was sent to me by the author. Evil spirits have impersonated King Edward VIII and his girlfriend, and are bent on preventing World War II and helping Hitler. Due to Ellie's involvement in the new connection between the spirit world and mortal world, she is sent back in time again- this time, to 1936, to keep history in order. 

The educational value is strong, and I personally did not understand the significance of who Edward VIII was until now. While I did have some knowledge of the relationship between England and Germany prior to the war, it is surprising to me that the action of getting married became the pivoting factor between WWII and a Nazi-controlled Europe. For all the times Keeley could have chosen to write the book on, 1936 was a great pick to drive home how unstable history is. 

My critique is how short all the books are, especially this one in particular. The ending fight felt rushed, and I wish there was more suspense. 

I do recommend this book and look forward to reading the next, The Coming of the Spirits.

Title: High Spirits
Author: Rob Keeley
Publisher: Troubador Publishing Ltd
Pages: 129
Series: Yes, Book 4 of 5
Rating: 4 Stars
Goodreads

Monday, December 28, 2020

The Octopus Under the Bridge by Alice Kinerk

The Octopus Under the Bridge is a middle grade dystopian book that was sent to me by the author. After American troops were deployed into the Middle East to search for missing teenagers, a bomb was dropped on the White House that decimated most of the East Coast. Since then, food is scarce, electricity is a luxury, and rival groups like the Collectivist and Phoenix fight and terrorize the populations. After the President is shot, 14-year-old Jay Everton's parents send him away to live with his grandmother on the Key Peninsula. But when Jay learns of his father's secret work and Phoenix attacking his family and friends, he must sail back to Tacoma and save his sister. 

For a book this short, I am surprised that The Octopus Under the Bridge still contained a developed plot structure with round characters! Jay is shy and intelligent, and I liked watching him gain the confidence to stand up for himself and his family. The hint of romance with Sarah was also nice. The setting is eerie and mysterious. I love the amount of imagery and other figurative devices that were used to make the setting rich and full of suspense.

I like how the book contradicted the Guilt by Association Fallacy, which unfortunately is common in times of conflict, as is assumption of good and evil. The Collectivists and the Phoenix both have major issues with the current government, but have different ideas and ways to get there- similar to the octopus and the squid. Initially I had a hard time understanding the theme and metaphor around the octopus, but further into the book it did make a lot more sense. Well, now I know that Washington is famous for octopi!

I will say that the cover definitely needs some work to convey the seriousness of the story. Never from reading the synopsis on Amazon (or the nonexistent one on goodreads) or looking at the cover did I guess that this would be an exciting dystopian book! While the ending is climatic and does conclude Jay's specific journey, I am still very curious as to what happens to the nation and Tacoma. I wish it was longer, and I hope Kinerk writes a sequel! However, the length could make it more appealing for younger readers.

I recommend this book!

Title: The Octopus Under the Bridge
Author: Alice Kinerk
Publisher: Alice Kinerk
Pages: 142
Series: No
Rating: 4 Stars
Goodreads

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Starvation by Molly Fennig

Starvation is a YA realistic fiction book that was sent to me by the author. Told in alternating chapters between the past and the present, Starvation illustrates the progression of 16-year-old Wes McCoy's anorexia and the path to getting better. When Wes learns that his girlfriend, Caila, is starving herself, Wes does everything he can to help her and understand why she is hurting herself. After his brother dies in a car accident, Wes ends up turning to her habits to gain control, and becomes trapped in a downward spiral.

I screamed at my computer screen "No! That's it???" There has to be more. I want more! Do they both get better? Do they get married? Get to go to college? However, I suppose the emphasis on uncertainty matches with the unpredictability of eating disorders and other mental illness. Relapse is extremely common in anorexia patients.

Starvation portrays the most accurate and realistic view of the development of eating disorders that I have ever read, and I definitely learned more about the motivations behind anorexia. The counter-argument against why a person cannot just put food in their mouth and swallow was powerful and the utter fear was astonishing and eye-opening.

I love that Starvation is told from a male perspective, as there is an issue of eating disorders being viewed as victims to mostly girls, as well as other mental illnesses. Its incorporation of suicide was also very accurate and did tackle frequent misunderstandings of why someone would end their life, as well as teach some of the warning signs of suicide and other mental conditions. 

I highly recommend this book!

If you are interested in this book, I recommend that you also read What I Lost.

Title: Starvation
Author: Molly Fennig
Publisher: Immortal Works
Pages:
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars
Goodreads
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