Reading

Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng | A Book Review

Little Fires Everywhere - Celeste Ng

Title: Little Fires Everywhere

Author: Celeste Ng

Genre: Contemporary (Adult Fiction)

About the book: It’s a standalone novel set in a suburb of Cleveland where every aspect of the community is planned. One day Mia Warren, a single mother, and her teenage daughter, Pearl, rent a house in Shaker Heights. A custody battle over a Chinese baby ensues between family friends of the Richardsons who want to adopt the child and the mother who works with Mia. Elena Richardson who believes in playing by the rules begins to look into Mia’s mysterious past. The story explores art, identity, motherhood, and much more.

First impressions: I’ve heard a lot of good things, so I had high expectations. The novel begins with the Richardsons house burning down. Ng spends some time describing the town of Shaker Heights and how it’s similar yet different from other cities. It took me some time to get into the story.

Characters: I enjoyed the juxtaposition between Mia Warren and Elena Richardson. Mia’s daughter, Pearl, and Elena’s four children Lexie, Trip, Moody, and Izzy are all different from each other. I also appreciated the racial diversity with white, black, and Asian characters.

Quote:

“Sometimes, just when you think everything’s gone, you find a way.”

Writing: It’s written in the third person, shifting between the perspectives of various characters. The book is a little under 400 pages long with detailed scenes. This isn’t a quick, fast-paced read but rather a slower, character driven novel.

Final thoughts: The ending ties up loose ends but leaves room for interpretation. If you enjoy novels that make you think about mother-daughter relationships, check out Little Fires Everywhere.


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Reading

Catwoman: Soulstealer – Sarah J. Maas | A Book Review

Catwoman: Soulstealer - Sarah J. Maas

Title: Catwoman: Soulstealer

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Genre: Fantasy (Young Adult)

About the book: It’s part of the DC Icons series that can be read in any order. The YA novels focus on different superheroes during their teenage years. The story follows Selina Kyle who teams up with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn as Catwoman to wreak havoc on the city. Meanwhile, Luke Fox wants to prove himself as Batwing, but Catwoman keeps outsmarting him.

First impressions: I don’t know much about DC Comics or superheroes in general, but I like how easy the book was to follow even without any background knowledge of Catwoman or Batwing. Even from the beginning, I found myself intrigued by the story.

Characters: The novel mainly revolves around Selina who is a strong protagonist. As much as I found myself rooting for her, I also did the same for Luke, maybe even more so. I appreciated how the romance didn’t overwhelm the storyline. That being said, I loved their interactions.

Quote:

“But a glass house was definitely not the place for someone to live when they were throwing quite so many stones.”

Writing: It’s a little over 350 pages long, so the plot unfolds at a solid pace. The chapters are short, and the cliffhangers made me want to keep reading.

Final thoughts: I had no idea what to expect for the ending, but I’m glad all the loose ends are wrapped up. I would recommend Catwoman: Soulstealer even if you aren’t into superhero stories.


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Reading

The Lying Game – Ruth Ware | A Book Review

The Lying Game - Ruth Ware

Title: The Lying Game

Author: Ruth Ware

Genre: Mystery

About the book: It’s a standalone novel that follows Isa Wilde who gets a text from an old friend that says “I need you”. At boarding school, Isa, Kate, Thea, and Fatima participated in The Lying Game, where they lied to teachers and other students. But their lies are coming to light, and they have to discover the truth of what happened seventeen years ago.

First impressions: I’ve read In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10, enjoying them both. I love a good thriller as much as anyone, so I was looking forward to reading this novel. The author builds tension in the beginning by withholding information, slowly revealing details of the past.

Characters: I like that Isa, Kate, Thea, and Fatima are all unique individuals with their own flaws. There’s a bit of diversity with Fatima being a person of colour. I enjoyed Ware exploring friendships between women, especially looking at how relationships change over time.

Quote:

“I don’t want anyone to live in a prison of guilt, so go on: live, love, be happy, never look back.”

Writing: It’s a little over 400 pages long with the book divided into five sections with different rules of The Lying Game: tell a lie, stick to your story, don’t get caught, never lie to each other, know when to stop lying. Some twists and surprises caught me off guard.

Final thoughts: I didn’t predict some events of the ending, so for me, it was fun to find out what exactly happened. If you are a fan of suspenseful mysteries about female friendships, consider checking out The Lying Game.


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Reading

Everything I Thought I Knew – Shannon Takaoka | A Book Review

Everything I Thought I Knew - Shannon Takaoka

Title: Everything I Thought I Knew

Author: Shannon Takaoka

Genre: Contemporary (Young Adult)

About the book: It’s a standalone novel that follows seventeen-year-old Chloe who gets a heart transplant. She finds herself stuck in summer school and wanting to surf. Chloe also begins to have the same recurring nightmare about crashing a motorcycle in a tunnel. She remembers memories that aren’t her own, which makes her question everything she thought she knew.

I received an advanced reader copy from Candlewick Press in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: The cover is beautiful. I was intrigued by the premise because I haven’t read anything quite like it. I found myself getting more and more interested in the story.

Characters: Chloe is a likeable and relatable teenager. She faces many challenges after getting a new heart. I enjoyed her character development as well as her interactions with family members and friends.

Quote:

“Live your life for you without the burden of also living your life for someone else.”

Writing: It’s a little over 300 pages long. The story is mainly told in Chloe’s point of view. I liked that the author included chapter titles.

Final thoughts: I wasn’t sure how the novel was going to end, so the ending took me by surprise. There were some twists and turns I didn’t see coming. I highly recommend Everything I Thought I Knew for fans of realistic young adult novels about life and love.


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Reading

When We Were Young & Brave – Hazel Gaynor | A Book Review

When We Were Young & Brave - Hazel Gaynor

Title: When We Were Young & Brave

Author: Hazel Gaynor

Genre: Historical Fiction

About the book: It’s a novel inspired by true events set in China during World War 2. The story follows a group of teachers and students from a missionary school who are sent to a Japanese internment camp.

I received an advanced reader copy from HarperCollins Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: I haven’t read any historical novel about the wars set in China, so I was intrigued. The title and cover lend readers an idea of what to expect. Also, the beginning caught my attention and gave me chills.

Characters: The main protagonists are Elspeth Kent, a teacher who wants to return home to England, and Nancy Plummer, a ten year old British girl. I grew to admire both of them as well as some of the secondary characters.

Quote:

“And yet there is a curel irony in that the memories I would rather forget are precisely the ones that I recall most often.”

Writing: It’s a little more than 400 pages. The story is told in first person alternating point of view between Elspeth and Nancy. There’s also some additional content at the end of the book with a brief history of the Girl Guides, a list of resources for further reading, and a reading group guide with dicussion questions.

Final thoughts:  I enjoyed the ending. Ultimately, it’s a sad story that examines grief and loss but also kindness and hope. If you want to learn more about internment camps in China, check out When We Were Young & Brave.


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Reading

Beauty Mark – Carole Boston Weatherford | A Book Review

Beauty Mark - Carole Boston Weatherford

Title: Beauty Mark: A Verse Novel of Marilyn Monroe

Author: Carole Boston Weatherford

Genre: Poetry

About the book: It’s a novel in verse about the life of Marilyn Monroe from her childhood to her career. There are also photographs throughout that complement the poems.

I received an advanced reader copy from Candlewick Press in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: I love poetry, but I haven’t read too many verse novels. Although I don’t know much about Marilyn Monroe, I wanted to read this book and learn more about her. I had no idea that she had such a difficult childhood, going from one foster home to another.

Content: I love how the photographs seem to frame the poems, letting the story of Marilyn Monroe take center stage. The book touches upon relatable themes, and many of the lines resonated with me. It’s a little less than 200 pages.

Quote:

“In truth, the best defenrse against old age / is dying young.”

Writing: The poems vary in length. Most of them are quite short and simple but still deep. Weatherford is a talented poet, writing in first person from the perspective of Marilyn Monroe.

Final thoughts: When I finished the book, I wanted to read more. I highly recommend Beauty Mark, especially if you’re a fan of Marilyn Monroe. Even if you aren’t, it’s a fascinating read about an individual who had a difficult childhood but grew up to become a strong woman.


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Reading

Standoff – Patricia Bradley | A Book Review

Standoff - Patricia Bradley

Title: Standoff

Author: Patricia Bradley

Genre: Romantic Suspense

About the book: It’s the first in the Natchez Trace Park Rangers series, following Luke Fereday who infiltrates a drug organization and Brooke Danvers who investigates her father’s murder.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

First impressions: The premise sounded interesting, especially since I enjoy a fast-paced suspense novel as much as anyone. There’s a prologue, and the beginning sets up the rest of the story.

Characters: I liked Luke as well as Brooke because they felt like real people. Luke’s protectiveness and Brooke’s independence made for some interesting scenes. I didn’t have a problem keeping track of all the secondary characters either.

Quote:

“You’ll learn that it’s not always in your best interest to tell everything you know, especially when you’re not certain who’s trustworthy.”

Writing: The book is almost 400 pages long. I enjoyed the short chapters that make me want to continue reading to find out what happens next. Bradley includes a bit of romance but not too much as to overwhelm the main plot.

Final thoughts: It wasn’t difficult to predict certain events, which is why the reveal of the different villains didn’t surprise me. That being said, I enjoyed the ending nonetheless. It wraps up loose ends and gives readers closure. If you enjoy a solid mystery with some romance sprinkled in, consider checking out Standoff.


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Reading

Dark Age – Pierce Brown | A Book Review

Dark Age - Pierce Brown

Title: Dark Age

Author: Pierce Brown

Genre: Science Fiction

About the book: It’s the fifth book in the Red Rising series that follows multiple characters in Darrow, Lysander, Virginia, Lyria, and Ephraim. Brown explores power, violence, love, as well as hope.

First impressions: I enjoyed reading the previous books, so I was excited to read this novel. It took some time for me to get back into the story because I didn’t remember everything that happened in Iron Gold.

Characters: There are so many characters that at first I found it hard to keep track of who was who. I’m glad there’s a character list at the beginning. I gravitated towards the storylines of Lysander and Lyria. They aren’t perfect, yet I still wanted to cheer them on.

Quote:

“But we are entitled only to the moment, and owe nothing to the future except that we follow our convictions.”

Writing: The novel is almost 800 pages, so it’s longer than the other books. Brown spends a good amount of time building the world and describing things in detail. The chapters alternate point of view with each being told in the first person.

Final thoughts: Overall, I preferred the ending over the beginning. I would recommend reading the entire series in order before delving into Dark Age. This science fiction story isn’t for everyone, as it’s a mature read with violent and graphic scenes.


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