Olly and the Spores of Oak Hill – Book Review

Olly and the Spores of Oak Hill by Glenn Somodi is one of the cutest and most exciting books I have read this year. The story follows Olly as his family moves to Oak Hill in Littleton, Massachusetts, after his grandfather’s violent and unfortunate death. Upon arrival at Littleton, Olly discovers the Spores. These tiny and adorable mushroom-like people have lived in the area for centuries and in several other locations in the country with similar names. With their mutual home at risk, Olly and the Spores band together to find ways to keep Oak Hill from becoming a mall as money-hungry people grab at the land in the small town.

Olly and the Spores of Oak Hill read a classic adolescent adventure. The story is told from the point of view of the main character Olly, a fifteen-year-old boy living in the US. Being a social outcast looking for a way to fit in with a new town and school during the years he starts high school is undoubtedly a character any awkward teen (or former awkward teen) can get behind. This awkwardness makes Olly a particularly easy-to-love character. More so as his internal monologue is remarkably realistic. Through Olly, we also meet other characters who remain equally natural in their flaws and awkwardness.

As this story takes place in a tiny town in Massachusetts centered around mythical mushroom creatures, you may wonder how well the author describes the fictional aspects alongside the factual elements. Well, Glenn Somodi’s underground Spore world is described in vivid detail. The author gives us everything from the little clothing that the spore sometimes wears, including a pair of adorable little overalls on my new favorite character, to detailed descrip[tions about the tunnels and trees the Spores live under. We are even given an elaborate ceremony about how these adorable little people reproduce.

The Spores will live in my mind for a long time. I am looking forward to the rest of their adventures. More of Olly and his family, too, but mostly more Spores, please! They are just so darn cute!

On a semi related note I love the little pictures and treats the author sent along with the book!

Princess Fluffy Plumpkin Eats Pink – Book Review

Princess Fluffy Plumpkin Eats Pink, written by Chris Roy and illustrated by Nivya Kuriakose, is a cute and colorful children’s story following the adventures of Princess Fluffy as she tries to find her place in the world. This short children’s book is quick and easy to follow with super cute and bright art, which makes this children’s tale pleasant to look at as well as read.

Plumpkins are strange fuzzy creatures with soft fur. The average plumpkin has long fluffy white fur, much like a rabbit. However, Royal plumpkins have bright-colored short fur. This is why Princess Fluffy does not fit in with her family as she is a long white-furred fluffy plumpkin, hence the name Fluffy. Like many young girls, she wants to be as pretty and unique as her sisters. To do this, she goes out of her way to eat pink things to try and change her fur colors. When this fails, she is at a loss for what to do. Eventually, however, Princes Fluffy did find her way and figured out where she belonged and what she was good at. With its warm message, this adorable tale is a must-read for your child, student, or anyone else who may be exposed to small children who need entertainment.

Straight for the Kill – Book Review

Straight for the Kill by Winter Austin is a thrilling mystery in the small town of Juniper, Iowa. It stars many characters, including Shireff Elizabeth Benoit and Depyty Lila Dayne, the main characters. These two powerful female characters trudge through the complicated aspects of a cold case, suddenly becoming very hot as a similar murder turns up twenty-five years later. This complex case hits closer to home as it involved relatives of the Shireff and the Duputy family and friends. This page-turner culminates in a bloody ending that left me excited at every turn to read the finale.

Winter Austin has produced one hell of a book. Not only is the story exciting and one I found myself easily lost in, but the characters are so perfectly normal they feel real. Sure, they have been through complicated histories and a lot of violence, but their flaws and personalities make them feel they are dealing with their issues and natural ways. No one nearly gets killed and walks away from it without some kind of emotional scarring, and each of Winter Austin’s characters has plenty of it. Some hide it, and some learn to live with it, but it is there and makes them feel real.

The story itself is exciting. We learn through the various sheriff department officers what they learn as they go and how their family and friends have been tied to this dreadful crime for decades. Each hint and assumption the character makes leaves the reader wondering if what they have learned is true or if there will be some sudden twist of events in the end. Now, full disclosure, I could guess who the antagonist was. However, I had just learned how they were tied to the story at the end!

If you enjoy thrillers with strong female characters, I suggest you pick Straight for the Kill by Winter Austin. I will pick up more of Austin’s work once I have the time.

Game Changers of the Apocalypse – Book Review

Game Changers of the Apocalypse by Mark Kirkbride is undoubtedly a colorful novel. Your usual zombie Apocalypse made more confusing and complicated by a break-up weeks before a wedding, a printer spitting out a story of the future, and honestly, a day that just keeps getting worse and worse, and we have the book. That seems like an oversimplified synopsis of this book, and it certainly is, but it is tough to give you more details without filling the first paragraph of this review with spoilers. Nevertheless, this was one of the more entertaining Apocalypse books I’ve read in the last few years. And there have been a lot of them in the previous few years.

The main thing that stands out to me about Game Changers of the Apocalypse is the characters. Greg and Polly, the main characters, are so messed up and stuck in their heads that you can only think of them as real people. Fictional characters are very rarely this flawed. At the start of the book, I will admit I found Polly insanely annoying. However, as the story progresses, it starts to make sense. Polly and Greg seem so emotionally at odds that it’s a wonder they managed to stick together long enough to get engaged. But how many times have we thought that of real couples?

Like with most fiction stories, this one requires a certain level of suspension of belief to enjoy. However, even if you do not believe that there is some omnipotent being that could end the world and write about it, you can certainly feel it in this novel. It is evident from the start that someone watches the main characters throughout the ordeal, challenging their every step and rewriting when they think they have escaped. An odd concept for an end-of-the-world story but an exciting and original idea.

Pick up Game Changers of the Apocalypse for a zombie game-changing read.

Standing Strong – book review

Standing Strong by Tina Brandau combines a life-changing story and a self-help book. First, Tina walks us through her accident trauma, from the almost outlandish-sounding accident of being hit by a falling tree while jogging to her recovery. While recovering from her accident, she realized some beneficial details. She used that information to create the second part of the book, which consists of several life lessons in which she explains how her damaged brain processes things and how we can apply those aspects to our lives.

Tina Brandau’s descriptions in the first half of the book stunned me. I was reading in bed beside my husband when I got to the portion where she discussed her accident. Several times I had to turn towards my husband to tell him about the woman who got hit by a tree and more or less walked away from the accident scene. Beyond having to share the story so much that I kept my husband from sleeping, I was stunned reading about every step of Tina’s recovery. The fact that she lived through this accident and retained the ability to share the information she learned with others is absolutely outstanding. Going forward to the book’s second half, we are presented with life lessons that Brandau has learned throughout her recovery. These lessons are helpful and easy to understand but challenging to master. I will be using many of them in my daily life.

I strongly suggest you pick up Standing Strong by Tina Brandau, not just for the fantastic story of survival but also for the neat life lessons.

Two Floors Above Grief – Book Review

When I am sent a non-fiction book, I have to consider if reviewing the tales told in it will be interesting enough to want to publish on my blog. I’ve been sent some non-fiction stories out there. This time I was okay with deciding if I wanted to review Two Floors Above Grief. The title was attention-catching. I had to know what that was about. Not many instances do you get to read about the life lived by families in funeral homes. I am sure if the need arose, I could find a funeral home willing to answer questions about their day-to-day lives, but there is something delightfully intimate about a memoir written by someone who lived it. So I was very excited to be able to sit down and read this book.

Two Floors Above Grief by Kevin M. O’Connor is an exciting visit to a man’s childhood home and the unorthodox but fascinating family he grew up around. Not only did our author grow up above a funeral home, giving him a look into a grasp at death that many a young child has a hard time understanding, but he also had a combined family of relatives. Our author’s uncle owns the funeral home, and his father helps run it. This resulted in two households living in the apartments above the funeral home and creating a family of four parents and various offspring, as the author refers to himself, his brothers, and his cousins. Creating a complex living environment where he could learn from all four parents.

The family history of O’Conner’s family and the funeral home is told in memories and letters that were saved throughout his life. This allows us to see these reminiscences from not just the author’s memory but also from the letters sent and received before and after the events resulting in a colorful tapestry of family history. The multiple views allow us to better grasp what life for a funeral home family was like for those living in the household and their relatives. If you are interested in memories, I suggest you pick up this family’s tale.

The Key to Circus-Mom Highway- Book Review

The Key to Circus-Mom Highway by Allyson Rice is an entertaining adventure following three siblings traveling to Florida to collect their inheritance. The catch? This inheritance comes from a mother they did not know they had! Along the way, they are given the sad tale of their mother and the trauma she went through before deciding to give them up. The only way I can sum up this novel is by saying that Allyson Rice has given us one hell of an adventure, mixing dramatic trauma events with fantastic humor that makes every page of this book exciting.

Only a few books easily mix two extremes of drama and humor. The book almost feels like a movie with its emotional ups and downs and the various plots that all come together in a theatrical climax. However, despite the often silly humor and circumstances, the characters in this story are genuine and entirely relatable. If you have ever had a disgruntled family relationship, you will undoubtedly understand once you pick up this book. The conversations and jokes made between family members could happen, even if some of the events are exaggerated for entertainment.

Now this book takes place in the modern-day United States, though the author still took part in some exciting worldbuilding by giving us exciting homes, shops, and side characters. Even these side characters feel exciting to learn about as Rice gives us humorous introductions to each one. While, for the most part, these paragraphs of amusing tidbits have nothing to do with the story, they certainly keep the fun aspects of the story going, even as particularly dark subjects come up.

The Key to Circus-Mom Highway is a must-read if you want a book that stands out. I will be rereading it as soon as I have time.

Usually, this would be a book review, but due to some timing issues with the book, I am instead showcasing where you can purchase this book. Soon I will have a copy and follow up with a book review. However, here are some things that can entertain you regarding The Beginning of Arrogance in the mean time!

First of all you can buy this book pretty much everywhere.




You can also check out Goodreads reviews here! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/61405844-beginning-of-arrogance

Gathering of the Four – Book Review

Gathering of the Four by A.E. Bennet is book one of the Serrulata Saga, not counting the prequel Yours and Mine that covers how a couple of characters met. Gathering of the Four follows Leora of Mae, Roland Shallowbrook, Aurora Verte, and Leopold as they struggle to deal with being outcasts in The Realm and try to survive long enough to bring justice to a cruel and powerful sovereign. While the four come from very different living situations, they must work together and cope with the secrets that tie some closer than one would expect. The book is filled with exciting turns, making it difficult to put it down.

The first thing I want to address about Gathering of the Four is that it does contain scenes of abuse and sexual situations. So if you are uncomfortable with either of these, this is probably not the sort of book for you. The scenes of abuse and implied abuse explain the situations characters are in or have lived through. As for the sexual problems, they are delightfully steamy but not exceptionally detailed. However, the apparent affection between the feelings involved makes reading them enjoyable. These situations are few and far between, but they are common enough to make a note of.

Another thing I want to discuss is world-building. When you first pick up Gathering of the Four, you might think this is another fantasy series, and it certainly does have fantasy aspects. However, as I read, I was delighted to find out that there are some problematic dystopian situations, and this book does, in fact, take place on our very own Earth. I will not go into further details on the subject in order not to ruin any twists in the book, but the world that A.E. Bennett has created is one of the most exciting I have read about in some time.

I look forward to reading more of this author’s work.

Mandate: Thirteen – Book Review

Mandate: Thirteen by Joseph J. Dowling is an exciting dystopian novel. Like many of these books, this one centers around the dropping fertility rates of the human race. An ultra-conservative group has control of England, and due to the rapidly dropping rates, they released a new law, all females thirteen years and older must be checked for hormones and the ability to carry children. When Micheal Randell’s daughter Hope is marked as fertile, he goes as far as he can to keep her safe.

When I first saw the offer to review this book, I thought, oh boy, another one of these. Female infertility blame dystopian future has been done a lot. However, Joseph J. Dowling’s take on this popular genre is well done. While much of the focus is on female infertility, everything from birthing schools to baby farmers, there are also several instances when it is stated that males are also to blame. I found this to be a satisfying change to an often worn-out concept. Another pleasing difference in this book compared to many of its kin of a similar genre is that the main characters are father and daughter. So instead of being given a single view from a female perspective, we are also given the additional complications of a strained father-daughter relationship. Anyone who has et sort n a teenager can recall how complicated parental relationships can be.

While I touched on it briefly above, I will go into more detail here. The father-daughter relationship between Micheal and Hope is realistic, in all its ups and downs and half-thought-out comments. No man can entirely comprehend what a young teenage girl is thinking, and no young adolescent girl has any idea what a middle-aged man is thinking. This leads to several complications throughout the story that feel as though they could have been witnessed in real life.

So the real question is, is Mandate: Thirteen worth picking up? Yes. Refrain from letting the similar-sounding story fool you. Joseph J. Dowling’s take on this popular genre is a breath of fresh air.

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