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.

warcross | review

 

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For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

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Review | I’m sure you’ve been hearing about Warcross since… forever, now 😂 I’ve received the eARC a long time ago and usually when I receive books, I try to read them in a chronological order depending on which book I’ve received first. Now with this book, I decided to break the rule only because it was EVERYWHERE. I’d open WordPress, Youtube, Instagram, Goodreads and I’d find people raving about it. So in my mind, it was like:
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And I just HAD to find out what it was all about! ASAP! I was reading many books at the time and I just abandoned all of them to focus on Warcross and boy was it a GREAT decision! I had never read anything by Marie Lu although I was planning to because I’ve seen mad reviews about her Young Elites trilogy. I was craving something that was action-packed and that’s exactly what I got!

First of all, through one book, Marie Lu has managed to do so much! It had the right dosage of mystery, of sci-fi and even of romance (even though I was not a big fan of the latter)! But the world-building though… It all revolves around the world-building for me because it was AMAZING. I remember that whenever I’d put the book down, I’ve started imagining life as it is in Warcross. It reminded me a lot of League of Legends which I used to play and also Quidditch but LoL next to Warcross was nothing but children’s games really. I was fascinated by the universe and how the author has managed to paint a pretty vivid image of it. There were plenty of Warcross games described and I loved how each game had its own scenery and that you’d easily start imagining it while reading the book. The world is brilliant. I feel like I’ve gone to the future and now I really need technology to give me something like what’s in Warcross!

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Warcross featured a real diverse set of characters which is a really great thing. I was very surprised to have an asian girl with RAINBOW colored hair as an MC. I instantly fell in love with her and now, a few days later, I’m considering to dye my own hair for the first time! I want to be Emika so bad but sadly, I don’t think I’m badass enough to rock rainbow hair and I have no idea how to code 😭. I love the relationship she had with her dad though! I think, even though he was not entirely a good person as he gambled and left his daughter with loads of debts to pay, that he was a great parent to her. He taught her to never give up and to always try to see the bigger picture to solve any problem she encounters. Of course, there are tons of other characters that I loved, especially from the Phoenix Riders members. They were all so very welcoming and did their best to make the team work well together. I loved how Hammie was a bit protective of her. Also, Asher, who’s a person with disabilities, is one hell of a captain and I really admired how he managed to lead his team. They all grew into a family and I can’t wait to read what’s coming!

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On the other hand, I did not really like Hideo. The kid who suddenly becomes millionaire because of awesome abilities, who’s dark and mysterious but ends up having actual feelings and blah blah blah.  I did like the relationship he has with his parents but perhaps what made me dislike him was the whole romance situation he had going on. As an action packed book, I really did not need the romance bits and I just kept rolling my eyes at everything.

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The whole book was very action packed and felt more like watching an action futuristic movie. It’s very fast-paced and you get through it so fast. Again, the world being so amazing, it just wanted you to devour every little detail about it and to feel yourself in it. Sadly, it was a tad predictable which was a bit underwhelming but it didn’t affect my satisfaction real bad and so it didn’t take away from the story for me.

All in all, Warcross has been not just an amazing read but an amazing experience. It has also made me think about the effects of technology in our lives. How much technology is too much? If you’re looking for an entertaining, thought-provoking read with an amazing world and badass characters, then Warcross is the book for you!

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Also, not that my results are crazy amazing, but I’ve started finding some joy doing these aesthetic boards. And this is what I got for Warcross:

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Hope you’ve enjoyed this review! Let me know if you’ve read it and what did you think of it. Did you also end up craving a world like Warcross?

sing, unburied, sing | review

 

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Jojo and his toddler sister, Kayla, live with their grandparents, Mam and Pop, and the occasional presence of their drug-addicted mother, Leonie, on a farm on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Leonie is simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she’s high; Mam is dying of cancer; and quiet, steady Pop tries to run the household and teach Jojo how to be a man. When the white father of Leonie’s children is released from prison, she packs her kids and a friend into her car and sets out across the state for Parchman farm, the Mississippi State Penitentiary, on a journey rife with danger and promise.

Sing, Unburied, Sing grapples with the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power, and limitations, of the bonds of family. Rich with Ward’s distinctive, musical language, Sing, Unburied, Sing is a majestic new work and an essential contribution to American literature.

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Review | This is what I’ll call a beautiful book. I’ve never heard of Jesmyn Ward before picking up this book but apparently she has won the National Book Award for her book “Salvage the Bones” and “Sing, Unburied, Sing” just showed me how she clearly deserved it. Now I haven’t read her other book but this kind of writing can’t be an overnight thing. She has such a marvelous and unique writing style that can’t let you be indifferent. I gotta admit, though, that I found the first scene where they were slaughtering a goat unnecessary and it was a bit too gory for me. Not that I’m not used to gory things, I just don’t feel like reading about them.

The book talks about abuse, love, family, race, drug addiction and much more. It’s not an easy read and can break your heart in so many ways because it tells you about the history of black people in the US and the pain they had endured, about how giving birth to a child doesn’t necessarily mean ending up being a good parent, about the biggest regrets of a lifetime, about a dying parent and so on. It tells you all of these things in a style that grips you and literally forces you to feel every tiny detail. There is a lot packed in 304 pages and Jesmyn Ward does an amazing job at including the reader in the story. There are some scenes with so much tension that I hardly manage to put the book down. I’ve read the book in two sittings and it’s only because I had to sleep because I had a 24h shift the next day.

The language is very beautiful and very poetic and was able to set a strong mood for me while reading it. I did not feel much like I was reading but more like I was in the scene, watching everything. The story is told from the viewpoint of Leonie, the mother and Jojo, her son. We also get the viewpoint of Richard (a prisoner that Jojo’s grandfather was talking about) after a while but the main ones we get are Leonie’s and Jojo’s.

I could not help but feel for the characters and care about them. They’re all so very real, flawed and make horrible mistakes. Only once you get to read about them and know them a bit more, you get to actually understand them and that’s what happened for me in a way while I was reading Leonie’s chapters. I don’t know why many people haven’t enjoyed Leonie’s point of view but personally I really liked her POV better than any other. It showed how she was tormented, that she was trying to be a good mother but just could not express her feelings the way she wanted and that it was all too late to save the relationship she had with her son and daughter. It also showed how she was still affected by the murder of her brother that she was still seeing whenever she got high. I know that nothing excuses being a bad mother but the way Jesmyn Ward describes her makes you a tiny bit sympathetic towards her, especially in those scenes with her mother that is bedridden because of cancer. The characters are really not ones to forget easily. I loved every single one of them apart from Michael, their dad and of course, his parents. They are what’s wrong with the world: racists and know nothing about responsibility.

There were a few flaws but they didn’t take out much from the story and it really depends on preferences. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the magical realism that was added but I let it slide although it felt a bit distracting in my opinion. All in all, this was a beautifully written, gut wrenching read. If that’s what you’re looking for then I highly recommend it.

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city of saints and thieves | review

 

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Street-thief Tina breaks in to the luxurious house where her mother was killed to steal from Mr. Greyhill and nail him for her mother’s murder. She is caught red-handed.Saved by Mr. Greyhill’s gorgeous son, Michael, the pair set in motion a cascade of dangerous events that lead them deeper into the mystery, and reveal dark and shocking secrets from Tina’s past.

Tina and her mother fled the Congo years ago as refugees, trading the uncertain danger of their besieged village for a new, safer life in the bustling Kenyan metropolis. The corruption and politics of the Congo, and the gangster world of Sangui City, are behind Tina’s mother’s downfall. Is Tina tough enough to find the truth and bring the killer to justice?

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Rating | rating.pngrating.pngrating.pnghalfrat

Review | After reading other reviews, I have realized that many people said that this book was falsely advertised as a thriller while it wasn’t one, comparing it to Gone Girl and The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo. Personally, I have not read the latter but I didn’t see any resemblance with Gone Girl. I saw the mystery part but I didn’t see the thriller. It didn’t affect my judgement though because when I’ve received it through Netgalley, nothing said Gone Girl in the description and so I wasn’t expecting anything besides what was written there. I don’t exactly like reading too much about a book before actually reading it.

Anyways, now onto the book. I think I have started to develop a thing for books set in Africa. I usually visualize everything with a punch of colors and a lot of “life”. It’s the reason why I’ve picked this book right after Stay With Me. I really needed more and I felt so ignorant towards other cultures that I thought now’s the time to learn! Unfortunately, I was quite disappointed. Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate the book and as you can see from my rating, I ended up liking it! Only, not as much as I thought I would. The story is very good and it has a lot of potential. It could’ve been a lot more better if it weren’t for the pace, how predictable it was and the ending that wasn’t satisfying enough and too neat for my taste.

I really enjoyed the writing which is why I kept on reading. Although the pace was very slow for the first half of the book, it began picking up on some speed later on and that’s where the book started becoming fun. I also felt that there could’ve been loads of content removed from the book and it would’ve actually made it better. It had a few action/suspense scenes here and there that were really good but seeing the length of the book and how it went on describing things that weren’t really relevant, they weren’t enough. Moreover, thanks to the clues the author gives us, we can easily guess what’s going to come next apart from one or two things that came as a surprise. One thing I did like was how the characters were really diverse and how it tackled difficult topics such as war, experiences of refugees, corruption and so on. I loved Tina and how she was determined to avenge her mother and sacrifice everything for her little sister. She and Boyboy were definitely my favorite characters. And especially Boyboy who’s so sassy and steals the show every time he’s in a scene! One thing I did not like was the last minute romance with Tina and Michael that was added to the book. It wasn’t necessary at all!

Overall, this is a really great book with the writing and setting being its strongest qualities. If you’re looking for a book that’s an easy and enjoyable read that will keep you at the edge of your seat while still dealing with “mature” topics, this is the one for you!

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