REVIEW: LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE; CELESTE NG

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synopsis// Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When the Richardsons’ friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family – and Mia’s.

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of long-held secrets and the ferocious pull of motherhood-and the danger of believing that planning and following the rules can avert disaster, or heartbreak.

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review// August 1st: First day of the Netgalley Readathon. I decided to start with this one. I have been wanting to read it since much before it came out but I had a very busy year and well, one thing led to another and I ended up reading it now. And guess what? I loved it! I never read anything by Celeste Ng although I have heard a lot about her other book ‘Everything I Never Told You’. Now, more than ever, I would love to read more of her work.

It starts off with a fire in a perfect neighborhood called Shaker Heights. As soon as you read the first pages, you’re immediately sucked into the story. You’d like this even more if mysteries are your thing. In a way, it kind of reminded me of Big Little Lies which I also loved.

If I had to talk about one thing relating to this book, it would be the characters. We mainly follow two families: the Warrens (Mia and Pearl) and the Richardsons. We get to move from one perspective to another and, sometimes, we get to see how many characters think of or deal with something in particular from more than just one side and it’s really interesting. The way Celeste Ng wrote about them made them come to life with each having a very fascinating personality. You felt as if they were someone you knew. I found myself rooting for even secondary characters as well as the main characters which doesn’t always happen.

I read this book quite quickly but the story of the custody battle between biological and adoptive mothers really stuck with me. I tried and I tried but I really couldn’t pick sides because I could understand both their points and… I guess that’s the story of how I came to realize that I could’ve never been a judge. 😂 That’s also a sign that Celeste Ng is brilliant since she basically managed to convince me of two things that are basically opposites. Also, the way the story was wrapped up in the end just proved to me even more that Celeste Ng knows what she’s doing! I was hoping for a tiny bit more of story but it was still very nicely done.

who is it for?// I would recommend this to anyone who has no problem with character-driven stories. You might also find that this story is a bit slow paced (although it isn’t really) so be wary of that before picking it up. For me, this is exactly the kind of book that I like so if you don’t mind all of this, Little Fires Everywhere is your book!

rating// ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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REVIEW: ARE YOU SLEEPING?, KATHLEEN BARBER

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review// I usually love thrillers. Before I started blogging, they were my favorite thing to read. Yet, somehow, I have given up completely on that genre without even realizing it. A few days before picking up “Are You Sleeping” by Kathleen Barber, I had finished “Friend Request” by Laura Marshall because it was March’s pick for a book club I’m part of. In a few words: thought it was great but with a terrible ending. Seeing how I was kept at the edge of my seat for most of the book, I started becoming hungry for more! That’s how I basically picked up “Are you Sleeping” and boy was I not disappointed! It deserves all the nice things said about it.

Are You Sleeping tells the story of Josie Buhrman, our main character, who has spent a long time away, trying to make a “new life” for herself (away from her family) which she will see ruined because of one podcast. Before all of that happened, she lived with her boyfriend, Caleb, in New York. A serious relationship and yet, he knows nothing about her past. Not even her real last name! I guess after having her father murdered and her mother running away to join a cult, she just wanted a normal thing going on for her and that’s why she lied. What she wasn’t expecting though was that a reporter was going to reopen the whole case with a brand new podcast that was a big hit. Because of that and also because of her mother’s recent death, she had to go back to her old town to figure out a way to deal with this with the same family that she ran away from years ago.

One thing I really liked about this book was the way the story was told. Throughout the book we get snippets from the podcast, some comments and tweets as well as some articles about the murder and what people thought of it and the people related to it. This format definitely made the story more gripping, more interesting and more fun to read. This book could’ve easily got 5 stars if it weren’t for the ending and for the main character that I couldn’t quite love. I did manage to get over the latter detail though towards the end. As for the ending, it wasn’t horrible but it wasn’t so nice either. Especially because it was a bit predictable and it felt like it came too soon. I still enjoyed a big part of this book which is why I wasn’t so harsh with the rating.

If you’re looking for a slow-paced psychological thriller, definitely check out “Are You Sleeping”. Bonus points if you enjoy Crime Podcasts!

rating// ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

SHOW BETTER THAN THE BOOK? ft. AMERICAN GODS

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I have talked in my post about favorite shows of 2017 about American Gods: the show but, since this is mainly a book blog, I felt it necessary to share my opinions on the book as well (and also perhaps talk more about the show because AWESOOOME).

First of all, I would like to start this post by saying that I have nothing against the book. It could’ve easily been one of my favorite reads of 2017 but I felt that something was not right. And that “something” was the one thing that made me not enjoy the book as much as I could have. It is the first time that I felt so confused about rating a book. I thought that me rating The Goldfinch was me being confused but nope, it’s me rating American Gods that was.

Both are quite chunky. The difference is that The Goldfinch kept me slightly interested for the whole ride. Even when it started “boring” me, it picked up real soon after that. It was not the case for American Gods. There were parts where I was reading and thinking to myself “Wait… What? What is happening?”. I think this was mainly due to the fact that I was not itching to know more so I just gave up. More and more characters kept showing up and I was just thinking “Okay… Next!” because some of them just showed up for like two seconds and then disappeared. I understand that the author was trying to keep building up until the very end to give that wow-ending-effect but that did not work for me.

The mythology is something that I’ve grown to enjoy while reading this book. I didn’t know much about Norse mythology before picking up American Gods but now I am definitely looking forward to get some more reading done on the matter. Perhaps the book by Neil Gaiman himself?

I really appreciated the writing style. Neil Gaiman obviously did lots of research to give us a book that’s packed with symbolism and brilliant references. Sadly, I just didn’t like how long it took for me to finally understand all that was going on.

Now, for the tv show! There are slight changes compared to the book. The one that I really liked was how we got a whole episode to know Laura a bit more. In the book, we didn’t really get to know much about her or about her previous life. Still, it wasn’t what made me love the show more than the book.

The slow pace worked much better in a show format mainly because while binging, it isn’t slow at all, haha. Should that be considered as cheating? But… No. It took me a month and a few days to finish American Gods: the book. It took me two days to finish the first season of the show. While everything was not given to us in perfect detail, we still got to see a lot without having to go through 300/400 pages to finally understand a few things. + Amazing visuals with really vibrant colors and an incredible cast!

If I hadn’t read the book first, I’d sure find the show weird at first as well because you do find yourself with more questions than answers most of the time but they don’t take you through unnecessary details that you really didn’t need to know to understand what is going on.

I wish I were a better show critic to let you know how awesome the show actually is. “A Prayer for Mad Sweeney” and “Lemon Scented You” were my favorite episodes. Speaking of Mad Sweeney… If there’s one character that stuck with me through the American Gods journey, it’s him! Even though I imagined him to be quite (very!) different in the book, he was still amazing in both.

Let’s pause for a moment: !!!!!! I just googled Pablo Schreiber and he’s Pornstache from Orange Is The New Black !!!!!!!! WHAT? I am so clueless oh my God! Am I the only one who hasn’t noticed that?

Okay, Pornstache, you really are a great actor! I give you that!

To be honest, I am still not sure if with this I managed to make an actual point but I do hope I did. I really wanted to love American Gods! This is probably the first time I loved an adaptation more than the actual book and really wanted to know your opinion about it all.

Have you watched the show or read the book? Did you find a problem with the pacing in either? What was your favorite character? 

REVIEW: PURPLE SWAMP HEN AND OTHER STORIES, PENELOPE LIVELY

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synopsis// A dream house that is hiding something sinister; two women having lunch who share a husband; an old woman doing her weekly supermarket shop with a secret past that no one could guess; a couple who don’t know each other at all even after fifteen years together; and, in the story from which this collection takes its name, a bird and a servant girl in ancient Pompeii who cannot converse, but share a perfect understanding. In this new and varied collection of short stories, Penelope Lively shows that she remains a master of her craft, and one of our finest English writers.

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review// I had requested two collections of short stories from Netgalley. One being The Accomplished Guest that I had previously reviewed on the blog. And the second being Purple Swamp Hen And Other Stories. They both seemed very intriguing and written by two amazing authors. One I ended up not enjoying and one I actually liked! And we’re here to review the latter!

This collection of short stories has a predominant theme: relationships. We don’t just get boring stories about relationships where we end up thinking after a while: Why do we care? It is much more interesting and enthralling than this.

I might have found some stories a bit “boring” but most of them were beautiful. The ones I found not as exciting were the ones with the ghost elements. The others were just fine! The Purple Swamp Hen was probably my favorite of them all! Maybe because I wasn’t expecting that content when reading the title of the short story.

It’s very smart and I really enjoyed the writing. I am personally not acquainted with Penelope Lively’s work but now I am really looking forward to picking up another book by her. I’d recommend this book even for people who are just starting out in the world of short stories and do not know where to begin.

HIGHLIGHTS OF 2017: SHOWS

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I picked the most random picture from Google. I sadly do not watch shows while eating snacks. I watch shows while studying: #SadLife.

I think I have mentioned quite a lot that I am obsessed with TV. Well, not really “obsessed” but I do watch it a lot. Gotta say that since I don’t have a lot of time, sometimes I only have the episodes run as a background noise while studying but I think that should still count, right? I also do watch them at double speed sometimes too.

This year, I have watched lots of great shows. That is why I’ve decided to make a post about them. You may already know about them of course! They’re not necessarily shows that came out in 2017. I just watched them in 2017 and really loved them!

Without furder ado and in no order of preference whatsoever, I present to you my favorite shows of 2017:

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I started this post thinking I’d talk about 4 or 5 shows but oh well… Maybe I am really obsessed? A teeny tiny bit? There are more shows I’m currently watching that I love of course. I just included the shows that I watched completely or the ones that I watched most of during 2017.

I know that The Bold Type has been renewed but I’m not sure for Good Behavior which… Come on, bring it back pleaaaase? I finished the two seasons in a weekend and I was so sad to see it end. Also, that’s the most good looking a couple can get. They’re hot!

I have tried many websites to track my progress but up until now, I am still not satisfied. Do you have any recommendations? Bonus points if they track movies too. I currently use Trakt and Letterboxd which are both great but I was just wondering what else is out there.

Have you watched any of these and loved them? What are your favorite shows?

HIGHLIGHTS OF 2017: BOOKS

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I’m terribly late to the party but hey, is there really a precise time where we’re supposed to be talking about great books? Nope, unless that precise time is “always”. I am not going to put them in any particular order. Each book has his own particularities and each book  was a real pleasure to read.

All in all, I can say that I’ve had a really great reading year. If I look back to my 2017 resolutions and challenges, I failed miserably though. I am not upset about it because I simply came to the conclusion that challenges and TBRs are just not a thing for me. I am a moody reader who ends up picking up new books on a whim so I can’t ever follow a list. I don’t see how this is a bad thing especially now that I ended up with so many favourites. I also learned a bit more about my taste and loved how me giving up on the Goodreads challenge made me not focus on the number but on the quality.

Since I also read lots of great graphic novels, I’ll probably make a post about them as well as my favorite shows. I watch an unhealthy amount of shows but they’re awesome, I can’t help it.

Without further ado, here are my favorite reads of 2017:

  • THE UNSEEN WORLD by Liz Moore. I came across it while watching a few Booktube videos. This book has received A LOT of hype but it totally deserves it. Liz Moore did an amazing job at creating the characters, giving them depth and wrapping up the story in a magnificent way.
  • THE NAME OF THE WIND by Patrick Rothfuss. Is this my first adult fantasy book? I can’t say for sure really but I don’t remember any that I’ve read before. I can’t wait to read the sequel to this book. It is brilliant and I don’t think I can do it justice by just talking about briefly. Go read it!
  • WORDS IN DEEP BLUE by Cath Crowley. This book made me develop a new opinion about YA. I stopped reading the genre for a while because somehow most books I picked up didn’t have a rich writing style which I’ve started to crave. It is a beautiful story that gave me an incredibly sweet idea. In the book, Henry, one of the main characters planned a trip around the world based on literary places to visit.
  • ANIMAL FARM by George Orwell. Can’t believe it took me forever to get to this book. Always thought that 1984 was Orwell’s best work. This book proved me wrong.
  • STAY WITH ME by Ayobami Adebayo. This isn’t just a 2017 favorite read but an all-time favorite. I was incredibly lucky to store an ARC of this book.
  • BAD ROMANCE by Heather Demetrios. I can’t lie and say it wasn’t the cover that made me read this book. I was pleasantly surprised when I realized the book was amazing too. The actual content. I have to say that it is very triggering though and abuse is a very big part of this book. It is very emotional too.
  • CRAZY RICH ASIANS  by Kevin Kwan. This is very different from what I usually read. Very fun to read about rich people though, haha. It was very entertaining.
  • BORN A CRIME by Trevor Noah. I don’t read lots of nonfiction but this was beautiful. Very fun and compelling! And this is coming from someone who doesn’t even like autobiographies/memoirs.
  • BURIAL RITES by Hannah Kent. The moment I realized that this was based on a true story broke me. It took me a while to get into it but once I did, there was no turning back.
  • THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES. This is one of the last books I’ve finished in 2017 and also one of the best. It is powerful but also graphic. If you’re not into that, you might not enjoy it.
  • THE FINAL EMPIRE by Brandon Sanderson. Another Fantasy favorite. I can’t tell you how much I’ve loved this book! It took me a while to get the magic system but once I did, I could not stop reading!

What about you? What are some of your favorite reads? Do you have any of these in your TBR?

I wish you all a happy new year with lots and lots of great reads!

GOODREADS TAG + QUICK UPDATE

Hi all! 💖

I know I have been non present lately and mostly posting reviews but weirdly, during summer, I thought I’d take a break from electronics. I’m on a computer pretty much all day, all week. I know it’s pretty bad but I’m used to studying with it, blogging with it, procrastinating with it… So I needed some time off while, in the same time, tackling all of the ARCs that I have on Netgalley. I don’t know if I’ve mentionned it before but because I’m from Morocco, I thought there were little chances I’d get approved for a book and so I requested like 30 for the hopes of getting one but well, I got nearly all of them 😂 Don’t get me wrong, I am VERY grateful of course! I just realized very lately that there was an archive date and I felt stupid. 🙃 Netgalley’s the best though, for real!

Anyway, now I’m back to studying and although my schedule is pretty hectic, this time, I have many reviews that are to be posted because I’ve been on a reading spree and not reviewing anything on here, aside from my most recent reads like Warcross. I’m still thinking about changing the theme of the blog and have some content about the TV Shows and movies I’ve been watching. (shows>>>>movies though unless it’s Disney, i’m addicted 😂)

Now about the tag! I’ve been using Goodreads non-stop these last days, both to update and add books I see in all of the Fall Recommendations posts + Spooky reads to my TBR. I don’t think I’ve ever read a “scary” book aside from Carrie by Stephen King and that was years and years ago. Gotta remedy that! If you have any recommendations, please, let me know! And so it’s because of me, visiting Goodreads every two seconds, that I thought I’d do this tag. I have not been tagged but I’m obsessed with Goodreads and so, here we goo!!

1. What was the last book you marked as ‘read’?

The Butterfly Garden which is probably the worst book I’ve read this year. I gave it two stars only because the plot was okay but the writing? The writing is horrible! There’s no other way to say it really.

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2. What are you currently reading?

Oh my…  😂 Well, you know. I wish I was the type to read just one book at a time, but I’m not. I have 18 books in my currently reading shelf on Goodreads separated into two categories: “Primary” and “Secondary” reads aka the ones I’m actually reading and the ones that I decide to read once I feel like it and they usually take months to finish. So I’m going to talk about the “Primary” category because there are some books there that I forgot were there in the first place!

  • An Enchantment of Ravens Margaret Rogerson // This was the book of the month for the Perustopia Book Club. So far, so good! I really like the writing
  • A Court of Wings and Ruin Sarah J. Maas // I nearly finished this one and I love how it’s finally picking up. I can’t say that I’ve liked this one the way I’ve liked the second book in the series but it’s still an enjoyable read!
  • Keep You Safe Melissa Hill // Nearly done with this one as well! I’m surprised at how much I’ve liked this one. My liking of this book is mostly driven by my hate for one of the main characters though. So I flew through this book to see one person fail. Yay!!
  • Burial Rites Hannah Kent // I’ve started this one before one of my classes and now I keep reading a little bit of it each time I go to class. Works as a motivation to actually go because I really like this book and I really want to read as much of it as possible. (how to use books to go early to your classes ft. a very lazy student)
  • The Female of The Species Mindy McGinnis // I have spent forever looking for this book and I’ve finally managed to get it!! Now I finally get to see why it was most people’s favourite.
  • Red Rising Pierce Brown // The last book that was recently added to this primary category. I am looking forward to reading this one because I have heard so much about it. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to finish it but we’ll try!

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3. What was the last book you marked as ‘TBR’?

The Abyss Surrounds Us Emily Skrutskie // I was going around Twitter and there was one person who was looking for books where enemies grew into lovers which seemed interesting to me because it reminded me of Pride and Prejudice. I loved Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy’s quarrels so, why not look for more relationships like theirs?

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4. What book do you plan to read next?

If I finish all of the books mentionned above, I will be reading A Beautiful, Terrible Thing which is a memoir by Jen Waite. It’s the author’s story about how she uncovers that her whole marriage was based on lies.

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5. Do you use the star rating system?

Yes! And I shall soon make a post about it.

6. Are you doing a 2017 Reading Challenge?

No! I had made a post about why I chose not to at the beginning of 2017. I’ve set it to 1 book on my account.

7. Do you have a wishlist?

If I’ve made a wishlist, it’ll probably end up looking like my TBR on Goodreads and have like 1900+ books. I’m incorrigible!

8. What book do you plan to buy next?

The Wise Man’s Fear Patrick Rothfuss // Although I am not planning on buying it real soon because there are still renovations going on at the house and most of my books are still in boxes, I’d prefer not to add other boxes. 😭

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9. Do you have any favorite quotes, would you like to share a few?

“We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already.” // J.K. Rowling

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” // Jane Austen

“There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of merit or sense.” // Jane Austen

“My idea of good company…is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.’
‘You are mistaken,’ said he gently, ‘that is not good company, that is the best.” // Jane Austen

10. Who are your favorite authors?

The ones that haven’t deceived me no matter how many books I’ve read: Jane Austen (duh!), J.K. Rowling and Brandon Sanderson.

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11. Have you joined any groups?

  • Morocco Book Club // Still brand new. I am really excited about this group because I don’t really know many readers in my community.
  • Perustopia Book Club // Hosted by Regan (@PeruseProject) and Sasha (@abookutopia). I love Regan’s fantasy reads choices and love their live shows!
  • Storytime with Squibbles // Also newly created by Joce @squibblesreads. Currently reading Stay With Me. I’ve always loved Joce’s recommendations (that’s why I’m reading Burial Rites now) on her channel and she’s always promoting diverse reads so I HAD to join the book club once I heard about it.
  • Our Shared Shelf // Emma Watson’s very famous feminist book club.
  • Austentatious Book Club // I love Jane Austen. I had to!
  • ARCs Anonymous // Well… Drowning in ARCohol is a thing!

I tag:

@TheNerdyBibliophile

@ReadingWithDaniella

@JillJemmett

@My Little Book Addiction

@Literary Dust

@Nose Stuck in A Book

@Abooktasia

@Books With Morgan

If you’ve done this tag before and don’t feel like re-doing it, no pressure! Feel free to skip it.

If you don’t have a Goodreads account, I encourage you to make one. I am spending more time on it now than on any other social media, it’s a life saver! Although it is real bad if you’re trying to control your TBR 😂

Alright, that’s it for today, happy reading!