Book Review || Little Fires Everywhere

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Title: Little Fires Everywhere

Author: Celeste Ng

Publication Date: September 2017

Version: Audiobook

Genre: Literary Thriller, Contemporary, General Fiction

Rating: 2/5 Stars

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned — from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors 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 teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community. 

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

First of all, congratulations to Little Fires Everywhere for winning the Goodreads Choice Award 2017 for Fiction!  That’s also very impressive since this book only came out in September, so way to go!

Let me also say that this book has a lot of very positive reviews, so am definitely in the minority when I say I was pretty disappointed that I didn’t like this book more.

I did really like the story idea.  I’m a sucker for well written, character-driven “literary thrillers”.  I also liked the moral questions this book raised regarding the adoption that divides the town of Shaker Heights.  There is some excellent social commentary surrounding race, culture, and what family actually means.

Unfortunately, those are the only parts of the book I enjoyed.  I wasn’t a fan of Ng’s writing style.  I was distracted when she heavily described minute details of the book, but glazed over important plot points.

I also felt like it took a long time to get to the actual plot of the book.  It felt like the whole first half of the book was focused on introducing the characters, but in my case, I didn’t really like or connect with any of the characters.

I also didn’t like the audio version of the book.  I don’t want to focus on this too much, but I’ve found recently that audiobooks that try to do different accents can be distracting and questionable and in this particular audiobook, I felt that.

If you absolutely loved this book and are wondering why the heck I didn’t, trust me, I’m right there with you.

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Book Review || The Broken Girls

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Title: The Broken Girls

Author: Simone St. James

Publication: March 20, 2018

Version: NetGalley ARC

Genre: Suspense, Mystery, Thriller, Paranormal

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Vermont, 1950. There’s a place for the girls whom no one wants–the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It’s called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it’s located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming–until one of them mysteriously disappears. . . .

Vermont, 2014. As much as she’s tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister’s death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister’s boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can’t shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past–and a voice that won’t be silenced. . . .

Let me start by saying that I was super happy to get approved for this arc because it sounded so good to me and though my book blog is very small, I love that publishers want people to read their books despite not having the heaviest traffic.  Yay reading!

Okay, enough rambling, let’s get into the review!

I’m going to review this book in two parts: the ending and everything not the ending.

Everything Not The Ending:

I really liked the atmosphere of this book.  It is absolutely creepy, especially during the parts that take place at Idlewild in 1950.  Something strange is happening at the school that causes four completely different girls to band together and seeing glimpses of their lives and friendship in such a dismal place was fascinating.

I did enjoy the parts that take place in 2014 as well as Fiona tries to piece together what happened at the school, but these parts lagged sometimes, especially the parts that focused on her romantic relationship.  I also didn’t feel as though Fiona was as fleshed out as the four main characters at Idlewild.

One thing I didn’t like was that the story tried to do too many things.  There were multiple plots that never really connected and left me wondering what the main point of the story was.

The Ending:

Was really not my favorite.  I felt like it tried to wrap everything up too quickly and neatly.  All of the “answers” to the multiple mysteries of the book happened in a neat sequence and some felt pretty far-fetched.  I was ready to give this book a solid 4/4.5 stars, but the ending took it down for me.

Overall, I did enjoy this book and would definitely recommend for a fall/winter read when you’re in the mood for something atmospheric and creepy and not so focused on the mystery piece of the story.

**Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for providing me with an ARC of this book.  All opinions are my own.**

November Wrap Up

November wasn’t the best ever reading/blogging/bookish month for me.  Partly because this time is busy and partly because after discovering BTS, I’ve been on a music binge.

I mean, look at them.

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LOOK AT THEM.

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(And if you’re late to BTS like me, their music is wonderful and I highly recommend.  You should go watch them immediately.)

Anyway, let’s get to the seven books I read during the month of November.

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan: I can’t believe I never read this book when I was younger, but I decided to finally give it a go!  I think I would have enjoyed it more as an elementary or middle schooler, but I still appreciated the humor and Rick Riordan’s writing.  I gave it 3/5 stars.

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang: This graphic novel follows three different characters whose stories intertwine.  The art is incredible and the story packs a big punch.  I loved it and gave it 4.5/5 stars.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng: This book was the biggest disappointment for me this month.  I read it for my book club and was expecting it to be a new favorite.  While I liked the plot and moral questions it raised, something just didn’t connect with me and the audiobook particularly fell flat.  I gave it 2/5 stars.

The Fireman by Joe Hill: This book started out so strong (a mysterious disease that sets the infected on fire), but tried to be too many things and was just weird.  Also, I really was not a fan of the audiobook narrator.  I DNFed this one.

From Here To Eternity by Caitlin Doughty: I’ve never read a book quite like this one, which is definitely a good thing.  Doughty presents some really great ideas on death and for a topic so scary and heavy, she does a great job talking about it in a super non scary way.  I gave it 3.5/5 stars.

Wolf By Wolf  by Ryan Graudin: This may be another case of I really didn’t like the audiobook version and may have like the physical book better.  The idea was great (an alternate history story involving a shape-shifter on a mission to kill Hitler), but the questionable accents and pacing threw me off.  I gave it 2/5 stars.

Warcross by Marie Lu: This book surprised the socks off of me.  I really enjoyed it.  My full review can be found here and I gave it 4/5 stars.

Book Review || Wolf By Wolf

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Title: Wolf By Wolf

Author: Ryan Graudin

Publication Date: October 2015

Version: Audiobook

Genre: YA, Alternate History

Rating: 2/5 Stars

The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule. To commemorate their Great Victory, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor’s Ball in Tokyo.

Yael, a former death camp prisoner, has witnessed too much suffering, and the five wolves tattooed on her arm are a constant reminder of the loved ones she lost. The resistance has given Yael one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year’s only female racer, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin’s brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael’s every move.

But as Yael grows closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?

I’ve made it my personal mission lately to read books already on my TBR which is why I decided to read this Wolf By Wolf.  I had heard great things about it since it came out 2 years ago, so I went for the audiobook version which was probably a why this rating is so low.

I have to get this out of the way: the audiobook narration drove me absolutely bananas.  When she was just narrating or voicing the thoughts in characters heads, she did an excellent job.  However, the switching constantly between questionable accents was distracting and odd.  The German, Japanese, and Russian accents sounded pretty overdone, especially since the story has words in different languages mixed throughout.  I don’t speak Japanese, German, or Russian and can’t comment on the authenticity of the accents, but I can say it was unexpected and did take away from the overall story for me personally.

Another strange thing that distracted from the story was that the author repeated a word or words a lot.  A sentence may be structured, structured, structured like this.  This.  This.  It got old.  Old.  Pretty fast, fast, fast.  It wasn’t just a few times either, or else I honestly probably wouldn’t have picked up on it.

I like Yael’s character and how her backstory was explored, but I didn’t feel like any of the other characters were flushed out well.  Felix and Luka sounded the same half the time and all of the other racers were just names thrown in to fill out the story.  The story itself started out pretty strong, but there were parts that were boring and I found myself wanting the race to be over already.

 

Most Anticipated 2018 Releases Part 1

I was going through my ever growing TBR list and realized how many amazing sounding books are coming out in 2018.  So without further ado, here are the books I’m looking forward to reading the most in the first part of next year:

 

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black.  This is in the world of fae and follows a girl who is sent to the high court to live after her parents are murdered.  As she tries to fit in, she is involved in the politics and dangers of the high faeries.  I’ve heard a lot of good things about this book, so I’m excited to see what it’s about!  Set to release January 2, 2018.

The Chalk Man by C. J. Tudor.  A mystery about a group of friends who find a body as kids and 30 years later, start receiving messages alluding to what happened in their childhood.  They don’t believe it’s connected until one of the friends is murdered.  Bring on the suspense!  Set to release January 9, 2018.

Beneath The Sugar Sky (Wayward Children #3) by Seanan McGuire.  This is the third and possibly final?? book in the Wayward Children triology (?).  I have absolutely loved everything I’ve read by McGuire, so I am so stoked for this.  Set to release January 9, 2018.

Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke.  Jane Sinner is expelled from high school and signs up for a reality t.v. show called House of Orange (basically Big Brother).  I’m sold.  Set to release January 9, 2018.

Reign Of The Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh.  Necromancers, Zombieish creatures (Shades), and a dangerous world full of souls called the Deadlands.  It sounds awesome.  Set to release January 23, 2018.

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert.  This book follows Alice as she tries to find her missing mother after her grandmother, who wrote a book of fairytales, dies.  The only thing is, Alice isn’t so sure if the fairytales are make believe.  This book has been so hyped since readers were first getting advanced copies of it.  I can’t wait to read it myself!  Set to release January 30, 2018.

The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton.  Evelyn Hardcastle is murdered over and over again at a ball as the day repeats itself.  Only Aiden can solve her murder, but the problem is every day he wakes in the body of a different party guest.  This sounds so great and I am so ready.  Set to release February 8, 2018.

The Liar’s Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard.  This book is about a woman who falls in love with a serial killer.  As she’s finally moving on, her ex behind bars wants to make a confession to her as a new copycat killer is on the loose.  Set to release February 27, 2018.

I Stop Somewhere by T. E. Carter.  This book follows a freshman in high school, Ellie, after she is assaulted and tackles rape culture.  It sounds like a very powerful book and I can’t wait to read it.  Set to release February 27, 2017.

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney.  I’m just going to post the synopsis since it’s so short.  My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:  1. I’m in a coma.  2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.  3. Sometimes I lie.  Sounds like a book I don’t want to know too much about before diving right in.  Set to release March 13, 2018.

In Her Skin by Kim Savage.  This follows sixteen-year-old Jo as she slips into the life of a missing girl, taking on her identity.  After the welcome she receives after being “missing”, Jo realizes that everything isn’t as it seems.  This book is giving me The Likeness by Tana French vibes, so that’s kind of amazing.  Set to release March 27, 2018.

My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, and Brodi Ashton.  A (completely accurate or course) retelling of Jane Eyre.  These ladies know how to write a perfectly witty and totally *nonfictional* retelling.  Set to release June 26, 2018 aka on my birthday.  Happy birthday to me!

Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl.  This book has a heck of a synopsis that I’ll link here.  I’m super intrigued, especially since this is Pessl’s first book since the very interesting Night Film.  Set to release in June 2018.

 

 

 

Book Review || Warcross

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Title: Warcross

Author: Marie Lu

Publication Date: September 2017

Version: Physical Book

Genre: YA, Science Fiction

Rating: 4/5 Stars

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.

The hype won out on this book and I’m so glad it did.  Spoiler: I really, really liked it.  Sometimes, I get a little hesitant when going into books that everyone is reading and talking about because sometimes I am really disappointed.  But on the other hand, books are well loved for a reason, right?

Anyway, enough of that, let’s get into Warcross.  This was my first book by Marie Lu and I really enjoyed her writing style.  I flew through this book and couldn’t put it down and part of of that is because the plot was interesting and pretty unique and the other reason is because Lu’s writing and storytelling flowed so well.

I feel like this book is perfect for YA readers/readers in general who don’t typically like science fiction because it has enough that makes the plot line and world building interesting, but isn’t enough to overwhelm those who don’t always reach for the genre (like me).

There are only two reasons why this book wasn’t more of a 5 star read for me and one of those is because I felt like the characters weren’t quite flushed out enough.  However, I do realize this book will be a series? trilogy?  Either way, there is still plenty of potential for character development.

The other main reason is because there is a bit of romance in this book and it kind of wasn’t my favorite.  It didn’t really feel like insta-love, but it also didn’t feel developed or like it added an important element to the story.  This may just be me, but I do tend to be a little picky with my romance.  I do enjoy it, but I want it to add a lot to the story and I want to be invested in it, and in this book I kiiiind of wasn’t.

All in all, if you also find yourself on the fence about really hyped books, but enjoy unique world building and a touch of sci-fi with plenty of action, I would definitely recommend picking this one up.