Monday, April 18, 2016

Review: My Mad Fat Diary (Rae Earl 1) by Rae Earl

Synopsis:

It's 1989 and Rae Earl is a fat, boy-mad 17-year-old girl, living in Stamford, Lincolnshire with her mum and their deaf white cat in a council house with a mint green bathroom and a refrigerator Rae can't keep away from. She’s also just been released from a psychiatric ward. My Mad Fat Diary is the hilarious, harrowing and touching real-life diary Rae kept during that fateful year and the basis of the hit British television series of the same name now coming to HULU. Surrounded by people like her constantly dieting mum, her beautiful frenemy Bethany, her mates from the private school up the road (called “Haddock”, “Battered Sausage” and “Fig”) and the handsome, unattainable boys Rae pines after (who sometimes end up with Bethany…), My Mad Fat Diary is the story of an overweight young woman just hoping to be loved at a time when slim pop singers ruled the charts. Rae's chronicle of her world will strike a chord with anyone who's ever been a confused, lonely teenager clashing with her parents, sometimes overeating, hating her body, always taking herself VERY seriously, never knowing how positively brilliant she is and keeping a diary to record it all. My Mad Fat Diary – 365 days with one of the wisest and funniest girls in England. 

Details:

Publication date: April 19th 2016 by St. Martin's Griffin

Available: Amazon | The Book Depository (affiliate links)

My Review:

This diary will definitely resonate with teens who are always very critical and unsure of themselves. Rae has different struggles than those at her age and time period; she secretly deals with OCD while very publicly having to wade through the world as a bigger girl whose appearance every seems to feel free to comment on. Since this is Rae's real diary, we come to have a sort of intimacy with her that we may not have with a fictionalized account.

It seems as though every time something seems to be about to turn itself around and be right and okay, something else happens that destroys it and sends Rae into another emotional tailspin. This is mainly due to her, perfectly age-appropriate, problem of caring too much what others think of her and of desperately wanting to be in a relationship. Although the relationships of the kids around her are not necessarily amazing or healthy, she still yearns to have what they have and feels that her size is what is keeping her from it. This misconception causes her to make several big mistakes with others.

As a girl who also grew up dealing with OCD and feeling bigger than everyone else, this seemed to really hit home with some of the younger journals I kept, though my sense of morality and family is slightly different.

Young Adult Notes: sexual references, language, triggering overeating, references to abortion, mental illness struggles

Source: I received a copy of this titled from the publisher in exchange for a fair review.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Review: The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem by Sarit Yishai-Levi; translated by Anthony Berris

Synopsis:

The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem is a dazzling novel of mothers and daughters, stories told and untold, and the binds that tie four generations of women.

Gabriela's mother Luna is the most beautiful woman in all of Jerusalem, though her famed beauty and charm seem to be reserved for everyone but her daughter. Ever since Gabriela can remember, she and Luna have struggled to connect. But when tragedy strikes, Gabriela senses there's more to her mother than painted nails and lips.

Desperate to understand their relationship, Gabriela pieces together the stories of her family's previous generations—from Great-Grandmother Mercada the renowned healer, to Grandma Rosa who cleaned houses for the English, to Luna who had the nicest legs in Jerusalem. But as she uncovers shocking secrets, forbidden romances, and the family curse that links the women together, Gabriela must face a past and present far more complex than she ever imagined.

Set against the Golden Age of Hollywood, the dark days of World War II, and the swingin' '70s, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem follows generations of unforgettable women as they forge their own paths through times of dramatic change. With great humor and heart, Sarit Yishai-Levi has given us a powerful story of love and forgiveness—and the unexpected and enchanting places we find each.

Details:

Published April 5th 2016 by Thomas Dunne

Available: Amazon | The Book Depository (affiliate links)

My Review:


This book, to me, just feels wise. It's one of those multi-generational stories that have depth and pathos that make them feel absolutely real rather than works of fiction. Yishai-Levi has made all the details of this time period come alive, from Ladino to Hebrew phrases that the characters would've used in the original translation to the the culture of Jerusalem around the time of the second World War.

As Gabriela discovers the secrets of her family through various sources, the reader experiences the heartbreak and confusion that are inherent in the struggles each woman faces. The focus is, of course, Luna, "the beauty queen of Jerusalem." Since all the men of the family have been cursed to marry women that are not the women they truly love, their true love and affection is poured out on their daughters, and in Luna's case, this extraordinary favor from her father turns her into a young woman who is spoiled and hateful, constantly at odds with her mother and many others. Yet, she herself falls into the exact trap as her own mother, even while swearing she will never do the same.

Gabriella has to deal with the scars left behind by all of this. Unlike the women affected by the curse unknowingly, she goes into life and relationships with her eyes open to this problem, pushing away her true love out of fear, living a life that is empty and hollow.

I fully enjoyed journeying through these issues with the characters, learning their life lessons along with them. Even though life is filled with profound disappointment and hardship for the men and women alike, they each have their moments of overwhelming joy, showing that life is never an all or nothing thing, constantly morphing with the choices we make.

Source: I received a copy of this title from the publisher in exchange for a fair review.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Review: I Love You Honey Bunny by Sandra Magsamen

Synopsis:

The perfect Easter treat to add to your little “honey bunny’s” basket! I Love You Honey Bunny by Sandra Magsamen is a fun and heartfelt story to remind your little one just how much you love and cherish them. Cuddle up close and enjoy something sweet together!

Celebrate your child by letting them know how they fill the world with love! Personalize this book with your honey bunny’s name, photo, and sweet message on the dedication page. You will also have the option to customize the pronoun in this book to become “I” or “We” Love You, Honey Bunny. A darling tale with a loving message that will stay with your little one forever!





Details:

Published January 1st 2013 by LB Kids

My Review:

When I chose this title, I was thinking mainly of the message I wanted to convey to my son - how loved he is and how much he contributes to the world even as a 3-year-old. I didn't even stop to think that the book seems to, if you're going to be stereotypy, focused more for girls. The traits praised and pointed out in this book, while more feminine, are still traits you would want any child to exhibit no matter their gender.

I loved that there was a place for a dedication and also a place to insert my son's face in a heart. He loved the flow of the book as well as getting to see himself in it and hear his name in it. This company is a wonderful company. This is a great place to get a personalized gift of any shade, and this book in particular is just cute, cuddly, and fun.

Source: I received a personalized copy of this title from Put Me in the Story in exchange for a fair review.