Book Review: Don’t Call Me Kit Kat by K.J. Farnham

don'tCallmekitkat

Don’t Call Me Kit Kat by K.J. Farnham

A YA Teen Drama Novel published on amazon.com (05/15/2015)

 

Summary:

‘I’m the “kind of sick” that makes you not want to go to school and fake being happy every day. The “kind of sick” that is caused by having your best friends practically disappear from your life—sort of like the way dad up and disappeared when I was little. The “kind of sick” that results from hearing your mother say that your dad never wanted you in the first place. The “kind of sick” that Orchard Hills types of girls with perfect families, clothes and bodies don’t get.’ (Kindle Locations 1538-1541).

Does anybody remember middle school fondly? Certainly Katie Mills aka “Kit Kat” won’t. Unfortunately her problems at school aren’t forgotten when she gets home. Katie has another whole set of personal issues that have nothing to do with school. If only she can be like the OH girls. If only she can be like her older sister Kelsie. If only she could have new clothes, better dance moves, a thinner body, a dad who is there for her, a mom who won’t criticize, and on and on.

Katie is stuck in the middle of her problems with no way to get herself out of them. And then she discovers a way to fix some of her problems, but what will it ultimately cost her?

 

Keywords:

 Teen drama, middle grade, 8th grade, girl problems, bullying, bulimia, eating disorders, hiding problems, evading issues, getting help, friendships, family, body image, recovery

 

My Review:

I like to read books that I can take something away when I’m done. Don’t Call me Kit Kat is more than a story about a girl working through her problems. It is more than plot and structure. This book delves deep into what it means to have an eating disorder. What does it feel like to want to binge and purge? What does it feel like to be so unhappy with yourself that you’ll go to extreme and unhealthy measures to change? What is day to day life like for a bulimic? How can one get better with an eating disorder? K.J. Farnham answers all these questions and more in her book. I got a lot out of reading this novel.

Though it has been some years since I’ve been a teenager, I believe Farnham captures the moodiness and insecurity of being a teenager in a world full of unrealistic expectations. Katie felt very real and the character seemed more than plausible. Her reality was very realistic.

I never thought about food the way Kit Kat does and it opened up my eyes a bit more to a different person’s experience growing up. “The funny thing about food, though, is that I love it as much as I hate it. I love that I can choose what to eat and how much to eat, or even not to eat anything at all. It’s the guilt I feel after a binge that I can’t stand. Because of the guilt, I sometimes find myself wondering if I control the food or if the food controls me.” (Kindle Locations 1516-1518).

The gradual downhill slide Katie fell into was told so well and captured the essence of how any of it could happen in a way someone without any experience with an eating disorder could understand. This book will really make you empathize and understand a world you may not and never be privy to.

Warning to those who read this book: As the narrator of her own story Katie’s experiences may be so close to reality that they cause their own type of trauma. Katie is very body negative, especially in the first half of the book where she gets no help or support. She is very down on herself and quite pessimistic and her feelings are very hard hitting.

 

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

This novel was published through Createspace Independent Publishing Platform 05/15/2015 and is available on Amazon here.

 

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.50

 

Links for more information:

Goodreads

K.J. Farnham’s Website

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Book Review: Speak of the Tiger by Martha Deeringer

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Speak of the Tiger by Martha Deeringer

A YA/Teen Read Novel published by Fire and Ice Young Adult Books (03/10/15)

Summary:

“It was a great feeling to do something you weren’t sure you had the courage to do. Especially after it was over.” (Kindle Locations 566-567).

When the ninth grade class goes on a long field trip in a semi-isolated ranch in South Texas, they expect fun filled days of camping, horse riding, and camaraderie. Before they’ve even arrived the problems begin and the students are quick to point the blaming finger at the quiet new boy, Lee Boyd. As issues escalate, from toilet papering to property damage in the hundreds of dollars, everyone is more and more convinced that Lee is the instigator.

Justin wasn’t the only one to misunderstand and make assumptions of Lee, but he is surprised when the new boy steps up during the biggest turmoil of them all. Was Lee the one causing all the catastrophes, or was he framed? After the big thunderstorm and daring rescue, Justin will try to befriend Lee and break down the prejudices surrounding the boy.

Keywords:

 Change, horses, school, Korean, boys, 9th grade, high school, fitting in, thunderstorm, secrets, bullying, needing help

My Review:

If you like reading at the level of the Magic School Bus about bullies and boy troubles and friendships, you will like this book. This book had a little bit of each of many issues that plague pre-teens/teens, but didn’t delve too deep into the nitty gritty of them. The issues of bullying and suicide are very real and very serious and this book touched on both. Personally, I wanted more emotion, more action, and more consequence related to these issues, but if you don’t want to get too emotionally involved in this book, then the way the author writes them into the story won’t bother you.

I thought this book was a fun easy read, but I didn’t come away with anything unique. It was just a story about two boys becoming friends and overcoming sucky teen attitudes and prejudices. The book wasn’t deep into any of the subjects or themes.

A girl showed some bullying, but it was very vanilla. These were ninth graders in high school and there were no insults, no name calling, no extreme racist remarks. The bullying was toned down as if the kids had grown up isolated and protected and their best insult was laughably poetic and only the intent communicated that it was an insult. Are these really ninth graders? They appear very polite and behaved, only committing what seemed like isolated acts of defiance and damage and only a few of those acts. Where are the teen attitudes? The sulking? There wasn’t offensive language or swearing. There was no sexual tension. These kids acted far more like sixth graders than ninth graders.
I did quite enjoy the story of Justin becoming unlikely friends with the quiet and misunderstood Korean boy and I thought the twist involving his home life was fascinating. I would have enjoyed a book told from Lee’s perspective, because Justin wasn’t that big of a personality and only got sucked into Boyd’s story.

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

This novel was published by Fire and Ice Young Adult Books on March 10th, 2015 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 3.75

Links for more information:

Fire and Ice Website

Martha Deeringer’s Website

Goodreads

Book Review: The Siren Suicides Series by Ksenia Anske

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Book Review: The Siren Suicides Series by Ksenia Anske

I Chose to Die (Siren Suicides) (Volume 1)

My Sisters in Death (Siren Suicides) (Volume 2)

The Afterlife (Siren Suicides) (Volume 3)

A YA Fiction Series published through CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (8/5/13)

 

Summary:

It all starts with a death wish, hope for paternal love, and Ailen wanting to get revenge on her father for what he did to her and her mom. Ailen Bright was the daughter that was supposed to be a son. She was the woman who was a weak creature needing to be controlled lest she decide to charm off men’s pants and make them do stupid crap (according to her father).

Ailen turns into a Siren, the embodiment of an otherworldly thing that feeds off men’s souls, but she is not alone in this world. She was created by the Siren of Canosa and the three underling Sirens: Pisinoe, Ligeia, and Teles. They hunt for souls and are hunted themselves by Siren Hunters. Will Ailen learn to accept who she is? Will she be able to accept the life she jumped out of?

 

Keywords:

 Suicide, 16-year olds, abusive relationships, violence, Sirens, Otherworldly Creatures, Teen Issues, Regret, Love

 

My Review:

I hold a special place in my reader’s bookshelf for Ksenia Anske. I have read Rosehead and Irkadura and I know she is a special person and a special writer. The Siren Suicides was written as a three part book, as Ksenia pointed out at a live reading, because it was too long to be one book. The point being that a reader cannot simply read one book, but needs to read the entire series as if it is one lengthy novel. This review, then, is of the entire three-part series.

There were so many aspects of the Siren Suicides that I loved that it’s difficult to even start writing a review. I’m in awe of Anske’s talent as a writer. I always wanted a writer like Neil Gaiman, who would write something I wanted to read, something with the sympathies of a plot and characters on the verge of reality that could hold my attention, even while the author’s imagination is running wild. I have found that in Ksenia Anske. She is everything a reader could ask for, and I’m glad that she quit her day job to devote herself to writing.

Anske perfects a writing style devoted to beautiful phrases and well-crafted words that I cannot believe she didn’t grow up with English as a first language. I only wish that I didn’t read so fast so that I could savor the sounds and images Anske creates. This is a book well worth listening to as an audiobook if ever the author converted her novels into audiobooks.

“My saliva is acid syrup. My blood is concentrated seawater pumped through my veins by a dead heart. My power is my voice, and I’m using it—using it plenty. Eating my dinner, humans served live, their souls draped over the garnish of soulless siren. It’s supposed to satisfy me, but makes me hungrier still, as if it’s the last meal I’ll ever eat.” (Page 31 of book 2).

The concept of a Siren is not new, but the image and voice Ksenia gives to this creature is creative, a new spin on the vampire/werewolf genre with their incessant need to feed off of humans. Ksenia’s Sirens are not always the beautiful ethereal creatures that call to sailors from the depths of the ocean, they personify people and travel on land and water. They have powers of oneness with the water, not superpowers, but a true calling with the natural element. What baffles me about the Sirens is how they are not discovered by any other than the Siren Hunter(s) when they presumably have killed so many. Sirens feed on souls and Ksenia gives life to the very essence of a person using all her senses so that the reader is enveloped in a short truth of a person: their soul. No wonder sirens find them so tasty.

“I try to imagine the sound of his soul, to bring back that feeling of home—the clatter of food cooked on the stove, the clanking of dishes, the shuffling of feet in slippers on a wooden floor, laughter, the anticipation of a meal, birds chirping behind an open window, the buzzing of insects basking in rays of the morning sun. Vivaldi’s Summer, its violins.”  (Page 241 of book 3).

Ailen is not the perfect character. She bugs me at times throughout the books. She is moody and stubborn. In the first book I’m not even sure I can trust her feelings and I’m not sure she can think clearly about the world, but by the second book I’m believing everything she sees and feels. I want to sympathize with her so badly that I believe everything. When she gets upset at herself for her shortcomings and when she breaks her promises to herself, giving in to her weakness, I want to tell her that she is not perfect and that is alright. I want to give her the words she craves from her father. Anske has a knack for creating characters you want to comfort and protect.

Ailen Bright is such a strange troubled character that I held my breath as I wondered what she would do, what would happen to her next. At times I worried that Ksenia didn’t have a final purpose or point to the book, or even a good conclusion because Ailen doesn’t know what is going on or what will happen. We are left at the mercy of this poor sad teenager’s unending fantasy nightmare… Until the last chapter. Anske delivered the only logical conclusion to the story. I was disappointed because she tells us over and over throughout the series what will happen and when I’m given the end I can’t help but think it was coming all along, even though I wanted something else, something different. Even as an author myself, I couldn’t think of a better conclusion that I would have been satisfied with, it just isn’t possible. There is only one possible ending and I’m glad Anske delivered it, because any other ending would have been terrible.

The only major shortcoming was the length of the three novels combined, as they only work as parts of a whole.

On a final note, this series is based in Seattle and is entirely true to the environment of Seattle and the characteristics (including weather) one can find in this place and for that I love Anske.

I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys the imagination of Neil Gaiman, the seduction of a vampire book, anything else by Ksenia Anske, or a fantasy suicide novel.

This novel was published through CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform August 5th, 2013 and is available on Ksenia Anske’s Website here.

 

TLDR Star Rating: 4.50

 

Links for more information:

Ksenia Anske’s Website

Goodreads Profile