Book Review: The Occupation of Joe

Book review alert (insert alarm noise and picture a siren flashing)! This one was called The Occupation of Joe by Bill Baynes. It was a short book at only around 115 pages. and I flew through it (read it in one day :)).

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Synopsis: Tokyo, 1945. A Japanese boy too old for his years, a survivor of the American firebombing, dares to cross the wasteland where he saw thousands burn to death, and approach the occupying forces to get food for his family. A young Navy lieutenant, proud of the Allied victory but appalled by the devastation he sees across the city, cares enough to help. As post-war pressures mount between the two cultures, he becomes entangled in the lives of the boy, his infant sister, and his beautiful mother.

I actually read this book in one sitting. The story was very fluent and would switch between the two main characters, Joe and Isamu.

Isamu is a young boy of 12 and he is trying to help his family survive after the Americans firebombed his village by foraging for food and materials to trade. He uses his skills as an actor to fool Joe into giving him some money in exchange for his expertise with the locals in the area.

Joe is the Communication Officer on his ship and his job is to decode messages in Morse code. He takes a liking to the boy and brings him sandwiches to eat each day when he visits inland.

The characters are well rounded and the author makes it very easy to understand the language barrier between the Joe and the boy. They use a lot of hand signals and motions to try and make sense of each other and the author gives a detailed description of what the hand motions are. This really helps the reader picture how they surpass their differences to work together.

It was easy to read and the author kept me entertained enough to finish it on the same day I started it.

SPOILER (Skip this part if you intend to read it)

I can’t believe he just dies in the end. He tries to protect the boy by roughing up the gang that bullied him and gets stabbed so much that he doesn’t even make it back to the ship and ends up dying in the snow. The people even start ransacking his body before he is even dead. And then it is just over. The ending really took me by surprise.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the Wars or historical fiction. The author definitely did their research on the subject before writing a story about it.

Book Rating: 4/5

You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads! Or if you want to talk to the author, check out his website!

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in physical format to read and give an honest review.


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Book Review: Songs from Richmond Avenue

Book reviews, for the win! We have another here at Breakeven Books for a book called Songs from Richmond Avenue by Michael Reed. This book is summed up as a Houston love story with beer and a couple of dead folks thrown in.

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Pages: 181

Synopsis: If the adage “nothing civilized ever resulted from the drinking of beer” requires further proof, one needs to look no farther than down Houston’s pothole-infested Richmond Avenue. There, the blurry-eyed denizens of the Relix Club while away the hours engaged in their two favorite activities – drinking and betting.

Until recently that was good enough for our storyteller, a journalist of questionable work ethic, who undergoes an epiphany following a bus stop meeting with pretty Michelle, a woman he declares has “skin so perfect I doubted she even had pores.”

Could she be his redemption? Maybe, but first, he’d better contend with her baseball bat-wielding former beau, her nihilistic stripper roommate and the suspicious death of a friend, who fancies himself the father of Brute Generation poetry.

Mostly satire, often wildly unpredictable, the only real long shot in Songs From Richmond Avenue would be for its protagonist to put down his beer long enough to learn anything of true value.

This book was interesting. The writing style itself feels like the story is told through the blurred vision of the main character. It’s a blurred vision because the main character is drinking pretty much the entire book. And boy can he drink.

I didn’t find that there was much of a story to the book; it just felt like we were taking a peek into the main characters life for a day or two. None the less, it was entertaining to read and I enjoyed the new writing style that I am not used to.

My favorite character was probably Honey because she didn’t give a shit and just said whatever she wanted to whomever she wanted. I also really liked Strummer, the very chill dog that just wanted to have a home.

That being said, I did get a little bored reading this book. It wasn’t one that I couldn’t put down. I did put it down many times to go do other things but I am glad I finished it because I liked the ending to it.

If you are looking for a book that is a nice break from a long series or just an in-between book, then this is a good one. It’s not that long and will give you a laugh.

You can find the book on Amazon!

Book rating: 3/5

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me in physical format to read and give an honest review. 


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TBR Piles and how to deal with them!

Hey there bookworms.

So I have these glaring TBR piles just sitting there staring me in the face and I have decided to try and tackle them head-on with a passion. I’m dedicating at least an hr and a half a day to reading and more if I am in the mood for it. It just gets difficult to set aside time to read when you work fulltime and then try to have a social life too.

Does anyone else have this problem where their TBR pile grows faster than their eyes can read :P? I’m trying to resist buying any more books until I am done this pile of beautiful books. A lot of these books were sent to me by authors and I owe it to them to give them my time to read these wonderful pieces of work that they put their time into creating. I love being a part of this community of book lovers and giving my opinions on the various books I read.

From now on, I will be giving myself book deadlines. This means that I will be treating the current book at hand like a school assignment where it is due at a certain date. It is still my hobby because I love reading and loved writing book reports in high school. But I am trying to up my pace at which I can read these bad boys and to finally quench the thirst of the authors that are longing to know my opinion on their masterpieces.

How do you bookworms handle your TBR piles? Let me know in the comments 🙂

Talk soon guys, have to get my nose back in this book!


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Book Review: The Hermit of Blue Ridge by Cary Marc Grossman

Another review by our marvelous @saramact !! This time she reviewed The Hermit of Blue Ridge by Cary Marc Grossman. She has been such a great help and I appreciate all of her time spent helping us out at Breakeven books as being part of the review team. Without further ado, here is her review (Hey that ryhmes :P).

COVER 2 The Hermit of Blue Ridge

This book is about a writer who has secluded himself from the world, up in the Blue Ridge Mountains, living in a cabin with only his dog for company. Soon, a young woman bursts into his cabin in the middle of a snow storm, and hurls his life into chaos. As he tends to her in her recovery, they begin to learn more about each other and themselves. After noticing some strange tendencies, he soon realizes that she wasn’t entirely transparent with her intentions when she first arrived, and the strangeness of her purpose there is only exacerbated by what becomes a passionate relationship.

(Spoilers Ahead)

As Jeremy and Sarah begin to develop a passionate relationship, we are given insight into the uncomfortable feelings Jeremy experiences; being forced out of his seclusion, and being forced to consider love again, after being burned so badly several times in the past. We soon discover that Sarah has been having violent dreams about Jeremy’s first love, Pricilla, since she was young. This only adds to the tension in their relationship, as he still mourns Pricilla, and Sarah’s young age already reminds him of Pricilla too often.

It was interesting to read about these two artists, as Sarah soon takes up painting, as they create a cozy little life for themselves. There is a lot of turmoil in their relationship, most of which is told from Jeremy’s perspective as he adjusts to Sarah’s presence, age, and relationship to Pricilla. Though it becomes obvious they both feel deeply for each other, there are a lot of issues in the relationship.

It was a very well written telling of the two people trying to balance their lives together, and the characters were developed fully, and were very relatable. I really enjoyed the flow and skill of the writing, as well as the unique plot. I could have done without the casual domestic violence that was peppered into the book – I think there is a way to have passion and even anger written into a relationship without it becoming violent. There were also a few “typos” and one plot error where a character was where they weren’t supposed to be, though some of this could have been due to its e-book conversion.

Book Rating: 4/5

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us by the author in a digital version for an honest review.

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Book Review: Every Watering Word by Tanya Manning-Yarde

A new review of Every Watering Word by Tanya Manning-Yarde. This is the first poetry book I have read for review. I wouldn’t say I am necessarily into poetry but this book was actually pretty good.

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Synopsis: This collection of poetry is an ensemble of many themes. Every Watering Word encompasses poetic rumination about women’s self-discovery; stories about coming of age; explorations of sex, sensuality and eroticism; epiphanies gleaned from motherhood and marriage; the structure and impact of racial and gender oppression; the trials, tribulations and triumphs experienced by love; the inheritance of jazz music and honoring the Black Christian tradition while exploring tensions underlying what it means to be African-American and Christian.

This collection of poems was very interesting. It explored a lot of different subjects. Some of them were very intense where others had a softer tone. Some would make you feel like you were in a flashback. It’s hard to capture just one feeling about the book because there are so many stories intertwined with so little pages to capture them.

There was one that stuck with me. It is near the beginning of the book and is about a woman that is being punished for some wrongdoing. The family is actually lighting her on fire to teach her a lesson and show her that the man of the house is the one in control. It was brutal and hard to read but at the same time, this is done to some people and I can’t even imagine living in a situation like that where all you would ever look for is an escape.

The beauty of poetry is that I could be seeing one thing in this poem and someone else could see something totally different. It is pretty much up to the reader’s interpretation of what they want to think it means.

You can purchase the book on Amazon.

Book Rating: 3.5/5

Disclaimer: I was sent this book by the author to read and give an honest review.

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Book Review: Release by Patrick Ness

Another book review, this time of Release by Patrick Ness. I read this one really fast so that tells you that it was damn good.

I would start with the fact that I love this book cover. It’s beautiful. Also kind of confused me because I would pick up the book to read if I put it down and it would be upside down because I kept expecting the cover to be right side up 😛

Synopsis: Adam Thorn doesn’t know it yet, but today will change his life.

Between his religious family, a deeply unpleasant ultimatum from his boss, and his own unrequited love for his sort-of ex, Enzo, it seems as though Adam’s life is falling apart.  At least he has two people to keep him sane: his new boyfriend (he does love Linus, doesn’t he?) and his best friend, Angela.

But all day long, old memories and new heartaches come crashing together, throwing Adam’s life into chaos. The bindings of his world are coming untied one by one; yet in spite of everything he has to let go, he may also find freedom in the release.

So I loved Adam’s character. He was just so real. And his best friend Angela was the best. If she was my friend, I would feel so blessed because she cares for Adam so much and would do anything for him. The fact that they became such good friends because they bonded over being in a car accident together as children was really cool. Just hanging upside down and reaching over and holding each other’s hands while being stuck in the car.

The entire book spans just over one day and a lot happens in this one day. Adam hears some big news from his brother, is given an ultimatum by his boss to either keep his job or get fired, and attends a party for some people close to him that are moving away. But there is another side story happening at the same time as Adam’s unravels.

A young woman named Katherine was killed just days before and her spirit has come out of the lake and is searching for some resolution to why she died. The story keeps switching back and forth between the two characters which makes for a very interesting storyline but none the less magnificent.

Adam’s struggle with his home life is kind of brutal too. He likes the same sex and this is not a thing you do if you are religious. At one point his father even tells him that he has to “work” to love Adam and that would be so hard to hear especially from the person you look up to and learn from your entire life. But he is true to who he is and fights for what he wants which I admire about him.

There was a quote that stood out in the book. It came from Angela’s mom but I thought it was too awesome not to share.

Never pass up the chance to be kissing someone. Its the worst kind of regret.

All in all, I loved this book and would strongly recommend it. It’s a very easy read and will leave you feeling happy. I honestly can’t find anything negative to say about it. This is the first book I have read by Patrick Ness and I really look forward to reading more of his work.

Book Rating: 5/5

Disclaimer: I bought this book with my own money and decided to write a review on it. I have been compensated in no way and did this because I wanted to.

Book Review: Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda was a breath of fresh air. I read this book in 2 days and found it very entertaining and a genuine reminder of how much you feel when you are so young and in love.

This book was about a young boy named Simon who is in love with another boy from his school. He has never met this guy, they have just exchanged emails back and forth and have been very secretive about their real identities. Until a boy at school see’s Simon’s email before he logs out on a computer. He then blackmails him to help him out with a girl at school.

This book brought up a lot of thoughts of how people perceive each other. I for one have gay friends and wouldn’t ever think to treat them any differently then I would my straight friends. But the book was from the perspective of a gay teenager that hadn’t come out yet, and it’s not that he was afraid to but that he just didn’t want it to be a big deal because everything he ever did was a big deal. But for a lot of people, it is a big deal and a very scary thing to do. There are so many different reactions that could come from someone coming out and that is kind of sad. No one should be afraid to be who they are. 

I come from a religious background and that made me think a lot about how that could go if I was in Simon’s position. My parents are amazing and I love them with everything I have in me. They have prepared/taught me everything I know and I don’t know what I would do without them. I would hope to never lose them over anything like this but that is a possibility for a lot of people. I am not in this position, but this book made me think about if I was and what would happen.

It would be terrifying because you wouldn’t know how the people that are supposed to love you the most would react. Your parents are your rock. They are your foundation; they build you up and prepare you for life and help you become who you are. To lose this would be world shattering and it gave me an insight into how scary it would be.

Love is love and everyone should be accepted for who they are.

The book was really great. The way his parents and everyone react when they finally find out is so supportive and uplifting. Simon has an amazing family. I would 100% be the dad if I was part of this family because every line he had in the book is something I would probably say. And everything he said made me laugh:P

Book Rating: 4.5/5

Disclaimer: I read this book because I wanted to and purchased it myself. This review is for me because I wanted to write it and that is that.

Let me know what your thoughts are on this book if you have read it and if not, what are your thoughts on having to come out. If you are straight, then just try and put yourself in Simon’s shoes like I did to get an idea of what it would be like.

Talk to you later bookworms.

What book did everyone hate but you liked?

I think I may have talked about this book before and I’m not sure that everyone hated it but I know it received a lot of backlash because of its ending. The book I chose was Allegiant by Veronica Roth, the conclusion to the Divergent series.

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I don’t need to put a synopsis because I have talked about it before but yes I really enjoyed this book because of how the author ended it.

*SPOILER ALERT*

It was the first time I encountered an author killing off the main character that they have built up throughout the series. You grow to love this amazing, strong female character and then the author goes and rips her away from you in the last couple chapters. Most people hated this and were mad about the ending but I liked it as I had never encountered it before in a book and it genuinely surprised me.

*SPOILER ENDED*

Besides this can’t be as bad as the ending to Twilight, what a build up to nothing actually happening. Less cliffhanger and more falling off a cliff and face planting at the bottom.

Let me know what book you like that you think everyone else hates in the comments! Talk to you later bookworms.

Book Review: Turtles All the Way Down

Another John Green book to add to the bookshelf! God I love his writing. Every time I pick up one of his books, he surprises me with how much he gets into his characters.

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I really enjoyed this book. This is my version of a synopsis:

Aza is struggling with mental illness and the loss of her father as her and her friend Daisy attempt to solve the mystery of the disappearance of a famous local billionaire. The way they find most of the clues to the case is through the billionaire’s son Davis. There is romance, confusion, chaos and humour all packed into this novel.

What is enjoyable to me is the fact that you get to see inside Aza’s mind and how she is in a constant struggle with herself dealing with the demon she believes is trapped inside. She doesn’t think that she belongs to her own body and is fighting to stay in control of herself rather than let her inner demons win. Her thought processes and how she goes back and forth as if she is two personalities fascinates me. She lets the smallest things ruin her day which is interesting because that is from my perspective but from hers, it is a huge deal because of her mental illness.

And Davis has his own problems that he deals with. His younger brother Noah is just looking for a father figure to look up to and he just wants someone to believe in. Davis puts all his emotions into his love of astrology and tries to grasp at something he deep down knows he can never have by trying to start a relationship with Aza.

Both of these characters have lost someone very close to them and you can see that it affects them greatly throughout the book. They are just two lost minds trying to stay connected on the constant tumble down the spiral.

If you are interested in Mental Illness at all, this would be a good book to read. I will admit that it is not really a “feel good” book but none the less, it is still a fascinating read in my eyes because I learned a lot about how someone living with mental illness perceives the world.

You can find this book on Goodreads and Amazon.

Disclaimer: I bought this book with my own money and wrote this review because I wanted to. I am not being compensated in any way for this review.

 

What book do you wish more people would have read?

This is an easy one for me. I wish more people would have read The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp. I find this book very interesting and I think it is very underrated.

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Synopsis: SUTTER KEELY. HE’S the guy you want at your party. He’ll get everyone dancing. He’ ll get everyone in your parents’ pool. Okay, so he’s not exactly a shining academic star. He has no plans for college and will probably end up folding men’s shirts for a living. But there are plenty of ladies in town, and with the help of Dean Martin and Seagram’s V.O., life’s pretty fabuloso, actually.

Until the morning he wakes up on a random front lawn, and he meets Aimee. Aimee’s clueless. Aimee is a social disaster. Aimee needs help, and it’s up to the Sutterman to show Aimee a splendiferous time and then let her go
forth and prosper. But Aimee’s not like other girls, and before long he’s in way over his head. For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference in someone else’s life—or ruin it forever.

This book is a quick read. It entitles the whole conversion of hardcore party guy to the guy that will get his life together. Sometimes we just need to meet someone that will affect us in a way we didn’t know could point our life in a completely new direction. By trying to teach Aimee about the “normal” life of a teenager, he discovers a lot about himself and what he wants to make of his life. This book shows that no matter what circumstance you come from, you have the power to make your future what you want it to be.

Let me know what book you wish more people had read in the comments. Talk to you soon bookworms!