Aster and the Accidental Magic Book Review

Goodreads Summary

Quiet . . . birds . . . nature. . . .

That’s what Aster expects when her parents move their whole family to the middle of nowhere. It’s just her (status: super-bored), her mom and dad (status: busy with science), her brother (status: has other plans), and . . .

. . . magic?

In her new home, Aster meets a mysterious old woman with a herd of dogs who gives her a canine companion of her own. But when she and her dog Buzz are adventuring in the forest, they run into a trickster spirit who gives Aster three wishes. After wishing for the ability to understand and talk to her dog, she becomes only able to talk in dog language . . . and the trouble she gets into is just starting.

Maybe the middle of nowhere will be more interesting than Aster thought.

Thoughts: This is one that I’m glad to be able to share with my teenage cousins because its such a cute story. I love finding a book that I can share because once the other person reads it we can talk about it. I much more love finding books to share with my family to ensure that they enjoy reading as much as I do.

I love the many characters that Aster meets and the stories that happen as she meets them. I think that each teach her a lesson and each of them make me want to read more. I think that each story blends well with each other and continues the story but I also like how each story can also be read on its own.

I think this is a great middle grade read because of all the action and how quick paced it was. I also like how the story mixes the magic into a very current world and how Aster is your typical teenager. I also like that the ending kept you wanting to know what happens next. 

I recommend this to those of you who enjoy graphic novels or who are looking for a quick magical read.

I received an ARC from Harper Collins in exchange for my honest review. You can preorder this book at Barnes and Noble or look for it at your local library starting March 3rd.

Ziggy, Stardust and Me by James Brandon Book Review

Summary: (Borrowed from Barnes and Noble) The year is 1973. The Watergate hearings are in full swing. The Vietnam War is still raging. And homosexuality is still officially considered a mental illness. In the midst of these trying times is sixteen-year-old Jonathan Collins, a bullied, anxious, asthmatic kid, who aside from an alcoholic father and his sympathetic neighbor and friend Starla, is completely alone. To cope, Jonathan escapes to the safe haven of his imagination, where his hero David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and dead relatives, including his mother, guide him through the rough terrain of his life. In his alternate reality, Jonathan can be anything: a superhero, an astronaut, Ziggy Stardust, himself, or completely “normal” and not a boy who likes other boys. When he completes his treatments, he will be normal—at least he hopes. But before that can happen, Web stumbles into his life. Web is everything Jonathan wishes he could be: fearless, fearsome and, most importantly, not ashamed of being gay.

Jonathan doesn’t want to like brooding Web, who has secrets all his own. Jonathan wants nothing more than to be “fixed” once and for all. But he’s drawn to Web anyway. Web is the first person in the real world to see Jonathan completely and think he’s perfect. Web is a kind of escape Jonathan has never known. For the first time in his life, he may finally feel free enough to love and accept himself as he is.

Thoughts: I had the pleasure to interview James Brandon a few months ago and I immediately put myself on the library’s waitlist for this book after that. Something he said in that interview resonated with me and that was how so many LGBTQ+ people dont know our history and I recognize I’m one of those people. This book was a great way to look at our history and feel some of that pain and sit in the amount of progress we’ve made since then while thanking the people who made that change happen for us.

I loved reading Jonathan and Web fall in love with each other in a world that only I’m privy to as the reader. Its such a beautiful first love and placed me in my memories of my first real love. It reminded me of thinking I was in love but then actually being in love for the first time as I came to terms with my queerness and how beautiful that is. This book made me see that relationship as something different than I kept seeing it as and it helped me heal from the pain the ending of that relationship caused. I appreciate this book for giving me new perspective.

I like how short the chapters are and how easily they blend into each other. The short chapters make the book feel like its passing a lot slower than it actually is. At the end you realize that this whole story took place over the span of 1 summer. It just reminds me how quickly things can change and it reminds me of the quote in the book “Overcome space, and all we have left is Here. Overcome time, and all we have left is Now.”

I really enjoy the moment Jonathan starts to be okay with being gay because it means he can be with Web. I love how he’s like nothing else matters because of that and just really knowing what that moment feels like. I enjoy how relatable so much of this book is even of it’s written in a different time period.

It’s also such a coincidence that the story has some of the big things happening on July 13. That was a important date for me in the past and seeing it be important for Jonathan just made that moment so much more emotional for me.

You can get this book at Barnes and Noble or look for it at your local library.

One of Us is Lying Book Review

Summary: 5 students go into detention together but only 4 come out alive. A traumatic incident has caused the death of one of the students in detention and the police believe that the other 4 must have something to do with it. Who is to blame? Which student has the most motive? How did they do it?

Thoughts: I read this as part of a book club that I am in online and I have loved each of that book club’s picks so far and this did not disappoint. I was a little worried after I got through the first few chapters that I wans’t going to like this book because I had guessed what the result was but I kept reading to see if I was right.

My guess was correct but even as it all unraveled I was still shocked to see how it happened and why it was done that way. I loved the twist in the story and the twists that kept coming even if I knew the results.

Something that I loved about this story was how the characters developed throughout the whole book. I like how their relationships with each other changed gradually and how their feelings about each other shifted. I also liked how they developed on their own and with their respective families, I felt that it all added to the story as their secrets were revealed.

Something else that I loved about this story was the balance of dialogue, narration, and the character’s internal thoughts. I usually like a lot of dialogue to move the story along faster but I think this story was told in the things that were not said and that was interesting. I like how we even get the extra characters and we hear the main characters thoughts on these people who play a big role in their life. I really think the addition of so many characters was done seemlessly.

You can purchase this book at Barnes and Noble or look for it at your local library.

Am I Ugly? Book Review

Am I Ugly? by Michelle Elman Audiobook

5 out of 5 stars

“As a female, anger was never an appropriate emotion, and I was taught to feel guilt around that anger. Guilt was digestible, more feminine, easier to control and manage, after all.” 

I have followed Michelle Elman for a while on Instagram and she was one of the first people who taught me about body positivity. It wouldn’t be fair to not give you a little bit about how this movement changed my life and my perspective on my body. As far as I can remember I’ve had red bumps all along my body and have gone through so many products trying to scrub them off myself because they “looked ugly” until a dermatologist finally said it’s keratosis pilaris and nothing you do is going to help. It was around that time I came across the body positivity community on instagram and started my journey to loving my body and embracing all aspects of it.

I had read other body positivity books before and they were helpful so when I saw that Michelle Elman had written a book I knew I had to read it. She was the first body positivity account with someone who had scars that I knew about. I had already learned to love my body’s size but couldn’t get over loving the skin condition that I had been told my whole life to figure out how to get rid of. Through following her I found others in the body positivity community who taught me to love my body, skin condition and all so I knew I had to read her book.

I had been keeping an eye on my public library’s book selection for a while hoping they would one day have access to her book. I would’ve bought it but I didn’t have the funds to purchase it so I cried when I saw that Hoopla had finally received it. I had wanted to read this book since I knew that it came out.

Michelle Elman tells you the story of her life through many hospital visits and her journey towards loving her body. Having known about her before kind of changes the way I read her book in a positive manner. Since I had been following her I loved learning intricate aspects of her life and learning more about what she shares on instagram. I found it fascinating, and her journey was relatable while still being her own.

I love how she discusses the ways that media and others had an impact on how she viewed her body. Rather than skirting around some of the difficult issues such as eating disorders, mental illness, and medical problems she addresses them head on. She tells you her feelings that surround these issues and how they impact her life and her relationships with others. I love how she talks about her experiences in boarding school and how others treated her for her surgeries and her weight.

I love the advice that she gives in her epilogue because I think we sometimes forget that our body positivity journey is our own and no one else. I love that she reminds us of that and reminds us not to compare our bodies with others and not to compare our progress to anyone else.

I decided to listen to this on audiobook since it was the only way I could gain access to it but I was a bit wary about it. You see, I hardly ever listen to audiobooks because I find it hard to keep track of the story line but the narrator of this book is great to listen to. The narrator fits the story quite well and doesn’t take away from the book or the story being told. This was something I was able to listen to on my commute to places and as I was doing other things at home.

I recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with their body image and others who want to learn about body positivity.

About the Book: In today’s world of supplements, celebrity diets and social media, it’s very easy to be hard on ourselves about the way we look. With all this pressure to strive for ‘perfection’ aesthetically, it is easy to forget how damaging this can be psychologically. Michelle Elman is a leading part of the body positivity movement that has been gathering momentum to liberate people from these unrealistic standards, recognize that all bodies are equally valuable and broaden the billboard definitions of beauty.

Am I Ugly? is this inspiring woman’s compelling and deeply personal memoir that describes her childhood experiences of life-threatening health problems, long stays in hospital and fifteen complex surgeries that left her scarred, both mentally and physically. The narrative follows Michelle’s journey from illness to health, and from childhood to adulthood as she deals with her body-confidence issues to embrace both her scars and her body – and help others to do the same. This remarkable book grapples with the wider implications of Michelle’s experiences and the complex interplay between beauty and illness.

About the Author: Michelle Elman is a body-positive activist and 5-board accredited body-confidence coach. She has amassed 170k followers on Instagram across two accounts (@scarrednotscared and @bodypositivememes). She is a guest contributor to popular Youtuber Hannah Witton’s successful Young Adult book DOING IT; contributed to the recent bestseller BODY POSITIVE POWER; has appeared on Sky News, BBC Radio London, Channel 5 News, LBC and also runs the Body Positive Book Club. Her TedX talk “Have You Hated Your Body Enough Today?” has been viewed over 30k times and Women’s Health recently named her as one of the five women changing the game when it comes to body image in the UK.

About the book and about the author borrowed from Goodreads.

If you would like to read this book you can find it at
https://www.amazon.com/Am-Ugly-Michelle-Elman-author/dp/1788541847/ref=asc_df_1788541847/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=312674999652&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=3376528962063734623&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9030930&hvtargid=pla-680770979032&psc=1 or look for it at your local library.