Review: The House of Wives by Simon Choa-Johnston


Category: Adult Fiction

Published: May 2016

 Read: November 2016

Score: 3.5/5

Synopsis: (Goodreads) In 1862, a young Jew from Calcutta named Emanuel Belilios leaves his dutiful wife Semah and sets sail for Hong Kong to make his fortune in the opium trade. There, he grows into a prosperous and respectable merchant, eventually falling in love with his Chinese business partner’s daughter Pearl, a delicate beauty twenty years his junior. As a wedding present, he builds for her the most magnificent mansion in Hong Kong. Then Semah arrives unannounced from Calcutta to take her place as mistress of the house…and life will change irrevocably for all of them.

Review: This is a fiction novel for historical lovers. It is a fast read and very fast paced and full of heart and courage and a bunch of other great things. It’s an era I am not fully aware about and was glad to read as you don’t come across a lot of books regarding the Opium trade in Asian countries. 14006_934_1-201491921548_540x360

It’s a story of Emmunal Belilios and his life as a trader. He grew up in the trade as his father also grew and sold Opium, and he got in on it. Having something to prove being the 2nd son and having no expectations. He succeeds only by marrying Semah and using her dowry to gain the drug and go and sell it. Along the way he gains two business partners in doing this and is of course successful. His marriage with Semah isn’t the greatest as she doesn’t produce him an heir right away. Emmunal eventually decides to stay in Hong Kong and marries another women there. Semah finds out and travels to Hong Kong and decides to take up residence in the same house as the 2nd wife. Emmunal is generous and with a big house divides it and hence we now have the “house of wives”. It’s two women who co-exist together trying to be the number one and having everything for themselves and their children while Emmunal keeps amassing wealth.

2016-handout-simon-chua-author-of-house-of-wives-photo-byThat is basically the story, it goes between the two women and Emmunal. You get a bit of everything, what it’s like living in a plural marriage like that in that time, as well as the business of drugs when it’s completely legal to sell. It’s richly told and you get a lot of emotions out of the book like happiness, sadness and even some confusion.

It is  a very faced paced book. So much so that you have to try to figure out sometimes how old people are now and how long it’s been since we last saw the characters. That is one thing that lost a point on this book. It’s a good story don’t get me wrong, but not one I will want to read again or will pass along. That is why it got less marks than it could have been. It’s not badly written at all, overall the writing is smooth and easy to read. opium_dandy_pacha

Apparently this story is based on the author’s own ancestors which is really nice. So you know at least some of it can be true and that fiction is filled in. If you really like this type of book or historical fiction this is very for you. Not so much for anyone younger as there is a lot of sex talk and drug talk.

I would be interested to see what else this author comes out with.


Review: Stress-Free Potty Training: A Commonsense Guide to Finding the Right Approach for Your Child by Sara Au, Peter L. Stavinoha


Category: Parenting

Published: October 2015

Read: 2016

Score: 4/5

Synopsis: (Goodreads) Successful potty training begins with the approach that is right for your child. Is your toddler frightened of the process, afraid even to go near the bathroom? Or does he or she seem to know when it’s time to go, but can’t quite make it there in time? This insightful guide helps take the stress out of the situation. The book distinguishes between common childhood personality types, providing simple strategies tailor-fit for your child, whether he or she is sensitive or stubborn, cautious or impulsive, goal-oriented or clinging to diapers. A quick quiz helps you pinpoint which method will work best. You’ll learn how to:

• Determine your child’s readiness
• Build on each success—without adding undue pressure
• Handle accidents and temporary setbacks
• And more

Now in its second edition, Stress-Free Potty Training also provides targeted techniques for challenges including toilet training resistance and refusal to poop as well sensory issues. Filled with straight talk and practical advice, it takes the worry out of this important life transition.

Review: What can I say? Let’s talk pee and poop. The only ones who will appreciate this review are parents. At some point we all have to go through this with your children and it can be very easy, or as in my case right now it’s difficult.
I am currently pregnant and have a toddler that I started to try to potty train but have stopped due to it not working. I decided to pick up this book to see if I can get any tips. Keep in mind I have not read any other potty training books so I have nothing to compare to.

potty-training-clipart-1This is not the easiest read. As it’s a lot of information to take in but you can really by-pass a lot of it. It starts out with a quiz to find out your child’s personality from a list of ones. My son is a “strong-willed child” which means he’s very independent and likes to do things on his own terms and succeeds when he feels like he’s in control. This is him for sure, and most of the description for this personality was dead on. Than you get in to specific things like different techniques to use and what not to use, how to start to get them to realize when you have to go and how to reward them without treats or toys. After that, you can read specific techniques for your child’s personality which means you can bypass a lot of the middle of the book. After this, you can talk about set backs (i.e. having a new baby come in the house) and when you need to know to back off or not. bbf034d7ffd43b195cd15ceacedfeb5b

There were some great tips and a lot of reassurance throughout the book which was great. I found the best part is the last on how to back off or go forward and what to do to start back up again with the training if there happens to be a set back.

I gave it four out of five stars because as usual with these types of books it was hard to get through and it took me a while. It wasn’t so intriguing that I was fully engrossed and “couldn’t put it down”. As far as some of the parenting books go, it was informative and I am happy I read it. Don’t know if I will be doing anymore potty training books but at least I can say I read one.

So good luck with the training, if you need help I say pick this up and give it a try. You might learn something new.




Review: Harmony House By Nic Sheff


Category: YA Fiction

Published: March 2016

Read: November 2016

Score: 2/5

Synopsis: (Goodreads) Jen Noonan’s father thinks a move to Harmony House is the key to salvation, but to everyone who has lived there before, it is a portal to pure horror.
After Jen’s alcoholic mother’s death, her father cracked. He dragged Jen to this dilapidated old manor on the shore of New Jersey to “start their new lives”—but Harmony House is more than just a creepy old estate. It’s got a chilling past—and the more Jen discovers its secrets, the more the house awakens. Strange visions follow Jen wherever she goes, and her father’s already-fragile sanity disintegrates before her eyes. As the forces in the house join together to terrorize Jen, she must find a way to escape the past she didn’t know was haunting her—and the mysterious and terrible power she didn’t realize she had.

Review: So this was  a book I had high hopes for as it sounds amazing and had a little bit of horror attached to it I was very excited to read it. Alas I am disappointed overall. It was not a very good story and was not the best written book. I felt that there were things unanswered and just didn’t make sense to the overall flow of the book. supercell_cloud21

Jen moves with her dad to Harmony House and from day one she feels like there is something off about the place. It’s in a small town where everyone knows everyone and there are no secrets. She makes friends easy but will they stay her friends after a sleep over at the house? There is noises and bad smells and weird pictures. Everytime she turns around she is seeing something out of the corner of her eye. Than there is her dad…what can i say about her dad? He’s bat shit crazy! He’s a religious fanatic who forces Jen to pray and condone for her sins. It all builds up to an ending with a big storm that will determine the rest of her life.

750995c97cd3696e0c8e454e4fba1ed7It deals with death, and alcoholism and loosing a parent…and having a crazy one. Moving to a new town, making new friends. All good concepts but just not written out well. It jumps from one thing to the next and you never really feel any closer to anything. The prologue sets it up so that you know it’s a  crazy house but it never really explains how it is associated with the overall story. There is a pregnancy that isn’t explained….how the hell did it happen!?!? And than the boy who may or may not be a ghost. There are so many things unanswered you don’t feel good when the book ends. It’s obviously a stand alone but why so all over the place?

It’s written okay. It’s not very long book and there are not even a lot of paragraphs so it’s fast. It’s not very scary at all either. I can see some people liking this for sure but for me it just wasn’t very good at all. For teens they might like it and good thing is it’s not too scary so even the younger ones won’t find it too bad. The talk of rape throughout the book in different context is a totally different story.

Overall, not a good book. I am not sorry I read it but will not be reading it again.

Horror movie scene with a girl dressed in white in a desolated house; Shutterstock ID 149780201; PO: 1259; Job: ghosts
Horror movie scene with a girl dressed in white in a desolated house; Shutterstock ID 149780201; PO: 1259; Job: ghosts

Review: Frightmares by Michael Dahl


Category: 6-8 Fiction

Published: 2015

Read: October 2016

Score: 4/5

Synopsis: (Goodreads) What if you only had one hundred words to warn humanity of a deadly danger? What if your favorite sci-fi movie suddenly turned into a real-life worst nightmare? What if a girl you’ve never seen before keeps showing up in photos on your cell phone? What if you hear a knocking sound in the middle of the night? In each of the 27 tales in this book, people are afraid. Very afraid. Read their stories. See if you share their fears. Because if you don’t now . . . you will.

Review: This was a book I decided to pick up because it was Halloween and what a better time to read some “scary stories”. It’s an easy read for the younger kids and I got to say I was not really scared…at all but they were good stories and I am happy I read this.

It is a collection of very short stories, no more than a few pages each if that. They range from stories inside the house, around the corner and out of your mind. In each section you find stories that are in theme with these categories.

screen480x480Some of the best ones are The Stranger on the Stairs, about a boy who doesn’t like to go upstairs because of the man who sits at the top of the stairs. His mother doesn’t believe him until it’s too late. The Doll that Waved Goodbye about a girl who becomes obsessed with  a doll hand that her camp mate wears on a necklace around her neck… why won’t she let people touch it? Also, The Worlds Most Awesome Toothpaste, about a boy who learns what happens when he uses the best toothpaste in the world with the worse consequences.

Some of them can be scary for the little kids and even though it’s considered a 6-8 book it’s more for the 8-year-old than the 6-year-old. It’s  a lot of words and not a lot of pictures, but as I said it’s a little scary for some of the younger ones.

Unless you have that fearless kid…than hand them this book and let them go.

Overall it’s well written and clever and fun overall for anyone who likes these kinds of things. Being a horror fan I  liked it but at the end of the day it is a little kids book. I could see some of these stories being really awesome short movies that you find on Youtube. 6a01156fbb1c3d970c01bb0888165a970d

So if you want a quick read I say pick this up if “scary”stories are your thing.