Book Review: Confessions of a Domestic Failure

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Synopsis:

Ashley is the mother of a nine month old baby. Being a stay at home mom is new territory for Ashley and she is struggling with it. Ashley becomes a fan of Emily who is a mommy blogger and ends up entering a competition Emily is hosting in hopes of becoming a better wife and mother.

Ashley is not totally successful in those endeavors.

At the end of the competition Ashley is able to spend time with Emily and learns that she isn’t as perfect as she appears.

My rating:
4/5

I found this book entertaining and relatable. I am a mom and far from a domestic Goddess on the best of days. This book has the tone of chick lit so if you enjoy that style of writing you will probably enjoy this as well.

There were some places where it goes a bit over the top though I think that was done intentionally by the author for entertainment reasons but it made the book feel a bit unrealistic.

Ashley’s husband isn’t helpful with the baby and honestly I was kind of annoyed that we have another portrayal of a father who is clueless. I would like to see more men in media being shown as good and involved fathers as I believe that is more of the norm. Ashley and her husband are both educated people who are devoted to their family. I feel like he would take a more active role in parenting. Instead, we get some comic moments when he has to care for their daughter while Ashley is away with Emily. This also hugely impacted Ashley and her feelings of being overwhelmed. Honestly, if her husband had been more helpful she wouldn’t have had half the struggles she did.

My four star rating is mostly based on how entertaining the book was. It didn’t quite go how I was expecting. I was okay with how it went but I didn’t love many of the authors choices. I felt like there were openings for many things that needed discussion that just were never discussed. Emily and Ashley’s situations are very different yet I felt that Ashley failed to recognize that Emily had money and help that she was lacking. Those things make it easier for Emily to be amazing but that isn’t really delved into as I would have liked.

I had a hard time feeling sympathy for Ashley because I felt like she made poor choices in the book over and over which really dug herself into a hole. I often felt frustrated with her and didn’t understand why an obviously intelligent woman would make those choices.

I think I was just a little frustrated because I really loved the authors voice. I loved how entertaining this book was. I also related to many of Ashley’s struggles as a mom. I also thought the book was quite funny. If a few things in the book had gone differently this could have easily been a 5/5 read for me instead of a 4/5.

I would recommend this book to those who are mothers and who enjoy chick lit style books.

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Book Review: Walking With Miss Millie

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Synopsis:
Alice’s parents have recently separated. Her mother has moved her and her brother to Georgia where she was raised to live with Alice’s grandmother who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. Alice is struggling with the transition. She wants to go home and she is struggling to make friends in her new home.
One day Alice eavesdrops on a conversation Miss Millie, her neighbor, is having. She is sent to apologize and also to offer to walk Miss Millie’s dog to make up for her bad manners. Miss Millie’s dog doesn’t like to walk without Miss Millie so Alice and Miss Millie start walking together and Miss Millie becomes her first friend in her new home.

My rating:

4/5

This is a really cute read about friendship. It is a diverse read as well. Miss Millie is African American and shares with Alice some of the struggles she has faced as a black woman living in the south. Alice also has a brother who is deaf.

This is a middle grade book and I appreciated the age appropriate discussion about racism and racial prejudice.

On a personal note, I loved that Alice came from Ohio. I am from Ohio but I did live briefly in Georgia so I appreciated the contrast of the areas perhaps more than a reader might who hasn’t lived in both places. I felt much of the same culture shock that Alice does with the move.

While I thought this book was fine and did some good things it wasn’t anything extraordinary, in my opinion. It did give me the feels in several places but it isn’t a book that I expect will stand out in my mind in a year or so.

It was an above average book overall but again not something that made a huge impression on me and that is likely to stay with me.

I liked Alice and I understood her struggles. I also really liked the characterization of her family members and Miss Millie.

I am not sure what more I wanted from this book but I just wish it had stood out more and given me a more memorable experience.

It is probably an amazing middle grade book but it isn’t one of those middle grades that I think reads just as well for an adult audience.

It had some good life lessons and those were not presented in a heavy handed way.
I would recommend this book if you are a parent wanting to get a book for your middle grade child that touches on the topics mentioned. I think this is a good book for a child.

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Book Review: The Man Who Wouldn’t Stand Up

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Please Note that I received this book in a Library Things Giveaway. The opinions stated are my own, honest, and unbiased.

Synopsis:
Arnold refuses to stand when America the Beautiful is played during a ball game he is attending. The camera freezes on him and suddenly he becomes a local pariah.
This fateful choice made in the heat of the moment has a huge impact on Arnold and everyone around him.

My rating:
4/5

I really enjoyed this book and found it quite entertaining. I believe it is meant as a satire and I think it does a good job at it.

I found Arnold surprisingly likable despite his ineptitude in the social realm and occasional poor decision making. He was a good guy in a bad situation who set dominoes falling with unintended consequences that he didn’t know how to deal with in the aftermath.

I did prefer the first 3/4 of the book a bit more than the last quarter.

Parts of this book were zany, crazy, and over the top but I believe that was the authors intent. The book seemed very aware of the fact it wasn’t intended to be taken seriously. I don’t think this book would be half as entertaining if the reader tried to take the book seriously. However, there are also important philosophical points brought up in the book and I don’t want to make it sound as if the book is nothing but entertainment. It is also thought provoking.

I really enjoyed the way Bonnie, Arnold’s neighbor, looked at the world and absolutely adored some of her quotes throughout the book.

I didn’t like many aspects of the last quarter of the book but can’t really go into details without including spoilers as they are plot point related.
I wasn’t a fan of the end of the book either. In fact I felt like I didn’t really “get” it. I think that maybe Arnold changed as a character too much from start to finish in this book for my tastes. I liked who he was at the start but was no longer able to side with him by the end. Which may be exactly what the author intended. I can’t say. I think I just felt like Arnold took everything WAY further than it needed to be taken and that maybe wasn’t who I thought he was at the start of the book.

The end of the book is also somewhat ambiguous as we never learn what happens to Arnold after all of his adventures. We see what he expects to happen but as a reader we are aware that those expectations are not likely to fit with the reality that has been created by his actions.

One last point I will add about this book is there was some excellent infertility representation. Arnold’s wife Judith can’t have children and that becomes a minor point in the story but one that I was pleased to see as I also am afflicted with infertility.

Overall, this was an interesting read. If you can appreciate satire I would say give it a try.

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Book Review: The Perfect Child

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Synopsis:
An Orthopedic doctor is called in about a child found terribly abused. The girl’s mother was murdered and children’s services are struggling to find next of kin. Ultimately, the doctor convinces his wife they should adopt the child however years of abuse have caused serious mental health issues in the girl which threaten to tear their family apart.
My rating:

4/5
One of the things I loved about this book was the depiction of mental illness in a child and the toll it takes on the parents. This isn’t something I see very often, especially in a child so young as the one in this story, but it is a reality many parents are faced with. Treatments and therapy for children can be difficult and many parents feel at the end of their rope as they struggle to help their child thrive.

I loved the character development in this story. I felt so sorry for the mother as she struggled to care for this child and I felt frustrated with the father because he was often in denial about how many issues their daughter had.

I really liked the twists and reveals towards the end. Some I saw coming but one in particular I didn’t and I really loved how it played out. I obviously can’t talk about the twist without spoiling it but I will say that it took a path that I don’t feel is often enough explored and I was really happy to see this particular angle taken on the little girls history.

The very end of the book was fairly open and didn’t tie up neatly. I don’t normally like that but in this particular book I was okay with it.

I did have one main issue with this book and that involved the police investigation into the death of the girl’s mother. Maybe I have watched too many crime shows and the book is actually a more accurate depiction of things but it seemed like the police had a hard time getting permission to search the crime scene and things involved with the crime scene where the girls mother was murdered. In shows like CSI it isn’t hard to get a warrant for all the stuff at the scene that might potentially give clues to what happened. In the book, there is a key piece of info it takes forever for the police to find because of getting permission to investigate certain aspects of the crime scene. Again, not sure about if it is realistic but it certainly was annoying. I feel like if a murder was committed it shouldn’t be hard to get a search warrant for everything at the crime scene.
Otherwise, I really enjoyed this book. It was thought provoking and emotional. Due to the content it may be triggering with the child abuse and the acting out of the little girl so if you are sensitive to those things this book might not be for you.

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Book Review: Dewey the Library Cat: A True Story

Synopsis: This is a non-fiction book about a kitten named Dewey who was found in the book return box of the library and went on to become a famous library cat.

My Rating:

4/5

I very much enjoyed reading this book though it is definitely intended for a young audience.

If you enjoy the books written by James Herriot you will probably enjoy this because it gave me very similar vibes.

Also, Dewey has a whole series of picture books based on him that my kids were enchanted by. They are still a bit young for this non-fiction but they did like the beautiful pictures in this book and it allowed them then to go read the younger books which where more on their level.

This book was very moving and emotional. I cried at multiple points.7519338

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Book Review: Closed Casket

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Synopsis:
This is not by Agatha Christie but has Hercule Poirot in it as the main detective.
Poirot and Edward Catchpool (of Scotland Yard) are called to a house party by a famous mystery writer. At dinner, she announces a change to her will and shortly after a man is murdered.

My rating:
3/5

I really enjoyed the beginning of this book. The dialogue was humorous and Poirot was really funny in how he was presented. I haven’t read a great deal of other Poirot books so I have no idea how accurately he was portrayed as far as true to Christie’s original work but I did feel the book captured his essence in a funny way.

I was also intrigued by the secondary characters and eager to solve the murder. Up until about halfway through the book I was very much on board and intrigued. The start of the book was probably a 4/5 for me until we got to about the half way point and reveals started to happen.

I found the way the mystery unfolded to be too outlandish for my tastes and I didn’t feel like there was enough explanation given on certain points. I was very disappointed with the mystery reveals overall. I felt like it could have been really awesome but instead was only meh. I was especially annoyed because the murderer turned out to be my favorite side character. I also didn’t feel like their motive for the murder worked.

Basically, I enjoyed the writing and the characters I just wasn’t keen on the mystery.

Also, the treatment of overweight characters was not good at all. In fact, I found it offensive.

So, I can’t really recommend this book however I feel that I don’t have enough background with Agatha Christie novels to know if the author was simply paying tribute to the original work or if the mystery fell apart on its own merits. This might be a fun read for a Poirot fan. I can’t say for sure (though if you have any input please comment below).

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Book Review: Sweep

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Synopsis:
This story is about a little girl, name Nan, who is a chimney sweep. She becomes stuck in a chimney and is saved by a golem. Nan soon befriends this golem and they go off and have adventures together, ultimately raising awareness about the plight of chimney sweeps in Victorian England.
My rating:

5/5

I really loved this book. It has been one of my favorite reads so far this year.
It was amazing and emotional. It just punched me in the gut and gave me all the feels. It is a fairly short read but I cried the majority of the time I was reading it.

The primary focus of this book is on the mistreatment of chimney sweep children and I loved how the author brought us into their world. My heart broke for the sweep children and the details were absolutely immersive. I loved the exploration of child labor and the treatment of children during that era of history.
While I enjoyed the fantasy elements, such as the golem, it was really the picture of the time period that endeared this book to me as well as Nan’s story.

The only complaint I have about this book is that there were some places I felt that more information could have been given. I can’t say too much here without spoiling bits of the story, but I felt like there were secondary characters who I would have liked to know more about their back story than we were given. Nan was the point of view character and in many instances these were things Nan could not have known so I understood why they weren’t included but I would have really liked more exploration in a few places and regarding a few characters.

This is a really amazing book but be aware that it is very emotional to read and there is child abuse and mistreatment throughout the book so if you find that triggering this book might not be for you. But, if you love history I think this book is well worth the read to explore the challenges faced by child laborers of the time. Though this book is technically middle grade, I think I would only give this book to a mature child who can handle the potentially upsetting content.

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