Book Reviews

MINI REVIEWS: Unbirthday | Bear Necessity | In Five Years

Hi friends! I thought I’d start a new series on this blog: mini reviews! I don’t write full-on reviews for each book I read (although I’d like to), but for some of them, I’d still like to share my thoughts in a more detailed way than in a monthly wrap-up. Each mini-review post will include three books that I’ve read in the past but never posted (usually ARCs, but not always!) I hope you enjoy!


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Unbirthday by Liz Braswell*

You know, I didn’t really think I would like this. I thought it sounded like a neat little spin-off of the Disney film, it would be a quick read, and I’d move on. And then I found out it was one in a series where many Disney movies were given the “what if” treatment, which I took as more of a marketing gimmick than anything. I then realised it was also nearly 500 pages long, which seemed like a chore. I just didn’t want to dedicate the time to something I didn’t think was that special anymore.

BOy was I wrong.

This was an absolute delight. YES it’s nearly 500 pages, but you don’t even notice because it is so delightfully filled with nonsense. I had such a fun time reading it. Somehow Liz Braswell captures the kookiness of Wonderland exactly, and you know what, when reading it and imagining the events, I pictured it animated! As in, not real people! That has never happened in my life and I am simply stunned at that revelation. I related so much with Alice, with her trying to make sense of Wonderland once again when it simply wouldn’t happen and getting frustrated with the characters, probably because there was some underlying sense in what they were saying anyway. I loved that she was into photography and it provided the gateway to returning to the place of her childhood, and how she saw her old friends through the people that she knew. I actually did like Katz, although nothing much really happened with him in the actual story. I think he filled the role of decent man when Alice was surrounded by absolute goons perfectly. But mostly I loved how at home I felt, and how everything fell into place and was perfect, despite being brand new. This is the first of the Twisted Tales series I have read and may be the last, but I had an awful lot of fun doing it and would totally recommend it if you wanted something familiar and entertaining.

⭐⭐⭐⭐


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Bear Necessity by James Gould-Bourne*

This is an incredibly sweet book. I’m sure there are others out there that touch on grief and the breaking of familial bonds because of it, but it was a new topic for me. I thought the way that Danny strived to reconnect with his son after the death of his wife/his son’s mother was heartwarming and admirable. He was trying so hard, just missing some of the signs and had a lack of recognition in what truly mattered to Will. I don’t fault him at all for this, because after all, he’s dealing with his own grief as well, and has found himself in a situation that he never imagined he would ever possibly be in. His still strong connection to Liz is evident, and he’s struggling to live a life without her, alone with their son, not really knowing how to be a father without her around. It’s completely understandable that he wouldn’t know where to begin, and it’s easy to just become complacent and put in the minimal effort when nothing you try seems to be working. And the way he does it is admirable in its own way as well. Throughout the course of the book he puts away his pride and through growth of character, builds his own destiny through hard work and determination. All for the sake of his son and trying to break that wall that has built between them. When Will finally starts to speak to his father – albeit, he doesn’t know it’s his father, but a dancing panda in the park – I struggled a bit with the idea of a small child sharing his life and feelings with a stranger. While I understand that this seemed necessary for the sake of moving the story along and getting Danny to realise that he doesn’t know his son as well as he thinks, it made me uneasy. We are all taught stranger danger as kids, and this breaks that first huge rule. Anyway, Will does eventually piece things together after his father makes changes in their lives after hearing the story as a panda. I liked that bit quite a lot, because then we got more father-son bonding time when Will teaches Danny how to dance, a passion and talent he got from his mother. I even liked Krystal, and how she managed to go from an angry woman in the park to actually being an important part of Danny’s wellbeing and assists in helping him bond with Will (I did find it very funny when she/her club offered Danny a job as a performer and Danny, (SPOILER ALERT) accepts it). I also liked the comedic relief in Ivan, and how it was his connections that really helped Danny and Will’s situation in the end. The writing overall isn’t anything to write home about. It’s a bit choppy in places and quite basic, but I found I didn’t really mind. The story was compelling enough and I cared enough about the outcomes of the characters that I chose not to dwell on it. If poor or basic writing does make you want to DNF this book, I would encourage you to persevere and read it anyway. The story wraps up nicely, and this book is really just a nice little package of a novel about a dad trying to reach out and bond with his son after tragedy (albeit taking a nontraditional route to do it).

⭐⭐⭐


In Five Years: A Novel: Serle, Rebecca: 9781982137441: Amazon.com: Books

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle*

This book was definitely different than I thought it would be, but in a good way. It took many turns that I was just not expecting, and made it feel more like a mystery rather than a romance. I’m glad that there was a time jump, to be honest. Dragging out this one dream-like sequence over five years seemed impossibly boring, but I liked that the author chose to skip it. For the MC, it turned her “vision” into something that was getting farther and farther away and less and less real as time went on. Which means when she finally met the man in the “vision” out of the blue, only to discover that he was seeing her best friend, it was violent and surprising, despite her spending the last five years worrying about it in solitude. And as the book went on and we got closer and closer to the date of her “vision”, I was getting more and more intrigued about how it would finally turn around. Of course, not all is what it seems. There are things happening in the “vision” that we assume, but turn out to be misleading. Ultimately though, I don’t think this book turns out to be a romance between Dannie and either of her two men. Sure it can still be a romance, but I think the strongest relationship is between Dannie and Bella, her best friend. Platonic romance can be a thing, right? Without spoiling anything huge, their relationship is the real centre of the story, and the events they go through together really cement what it means to be soulmates for life. We can skip to the end and see Dannie living with a different man than she was at the beginning of the book, but then you cut out all the things that lead you to there. Even though I would have preferred the ending to be not quite to absolute, I still enjoyed how all the pieces showed up and fit together over the course of the story. There isn’t really any part of this book that I would change for the better.

⭐⭐⭐⭐


*For each of these books, I received an advanced copy from the publishers via Netgalley in exchange for honest reviews.

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