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Book review: Everything I never told you

Everything I never told you by Celeste Ng.

If you follow this blog (thank you so much!) you might know that a few months ago, I reviewed Mrs. Ng’s 2nd book, Little Fires Everywhere and oh man, did I love that book. It is a favorite of mine. If you haven’t read it, please do yourself a favor and go do so. I enjoyed it so much that I started looking for anything else she might of written and found this one.

Plus after I posted that long list of books that I need to read, I gave myself a kick in the pants and I finished this one this week. Yay!

(Minor spoilers from the beginning of the book. Also, This book is sad, really sad. I’m the kind of person who enjoys that kind of thing, but if you don’t and want to read happier things, this book is not for you.)

This book is about the Lee family, a Chinese-American mixed family living in a small town on Ohio during the 1970’s. Very sadly, at the beginning of the book, their oldest daughter, who’s 16, drowns in a lake next to their house. The book then dives into a deep character study and history of this family, up to what happened that led this young girl to take her own life.

Like I said, a sad book and not for everyone. 

What I liked. First, the writing. Holy crap, this lady knows how to write. The entire time I was reading, I was jealous of Mrs. Ng’s skills. She expertly weaves together this tale, one that in another person’s hands could fall apart or be boring. The plot isn’t really crazy with a ton of twists or turns, it’s the story of a family falling apart. But here, it works. I hung onto every word and couldn’t read fast enough, wanting to know what will happen next.

There honestly wasn’t anything I disliked about this book. It’s not that long and just a  great character study. Anything this woman writes, I will go out and buy to read.

9/10

What do you think, have you read this book? What was your opinion?

~Ames

 

 

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Posted in info, Reading

Book review: The Husband’s secret

The Husband’s secret by Liane Moriarty.

I’ve been reading a lot of books by Liane Moriarty as of late, so here’s another one. This one is a difficult one to summarize as there’s a lot of stuff going on in this book.

This book, like I’d say all of her books, takes place in Australia. Cecilia Fitzpatrick is married with three children when she stumbles upon a letter that her husband wrote that says to only be read in the case that I die. Due to the fact that she can’t stop thinking about it and what it means, she does the one thing she shouldn’t. She reads it while her husband is still alive.

This small action has huge repercussions on herself and some other people who get pulled into this messy, tangled web.

First of all, I have to say that this kind of book is right up my alley. I LOVE stories with tangled secrets that are about families and all the problems that come with them. As we soon learn, the husband’s secret is a huge one, something he only wants people to know if he’s already dead. The fact that his wife learns and that it can get out is massive. Lots of crazy stuff happens and it is good.

Like always, Liane Moriarty’s writing and characters are very well done. There’s a few minor characters and situations that I wasn’t too invested in, but all the upfront stuff is very good. As we get deeper and deeper into the book, things get more twisted. And I was 100% into it.

One problem I had with the book is the opening chapter of this book was very disorienting and very difficult to get into, the same way with What Alice Forgot and to be honest, Big Little Lies opened. It throws you right into what’s happening and with very little explanation. As I had to do with WAF and BBL, I had to force myself to read through the first chapter even though I had no idea what was going on and what was happening. After that, everything made sense. As this is now the third time this has happened in her books, it’s something I’m going to keep an eye out for. It makes me wonder if anyone else had this issue.

But honestly, that was really the only issue I can think of right now. There’s a few minor nitpicks here and there, but nothing worth mentioning. This is a good book and I very much recommend. I’ve got a few more of her books and I will be covering them soon.

8/10

Have you read it? What are your thoughts?

~Ames

Posted in info, Reading

Up Next

So last fall, I gave a list of the books I would be reading next. While I haven’t finished that list (and boy did I add to it) I thought I’d write up the new list. Of course, I’m probably going to add to this one at random as well, but here’s what in my read next pile.

Books I’m currently reading and will review when I finish and remember to type up a blog about them.

A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir- I just started this one a few nights ago! I’m very excited as I’ve read the first two in the series and enjoyed them very much. This is another one in the I shouldn’t of started a new one when I have so many half finished, but it just came out and I love this series. I’m actively reading this one.

Everything I Never told You by Celeste Ng. I’m about 2/3 of the way through this one and it’s so good. I am actively reading this one

The Nix By Nathan Hill-I’m about halfway through and I am loving this book. Expect gushing from the review. This is the book I have at work and read when I have long periods of sitting around and waiting.

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware-About halfway through. Not actively reading right now, but I will get back to it once I finish one of the others.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24 hour bookstore by Robin Sloan and Rodrigo Corral-I’m about 2/3 of the way through and honestly, am pushing myself to finish. Not actively reading right now, but I will get back to it once I finish one of the others.

Books that will be read next. (Note to self, stop reading so many freaking books at the same time.)

That Kind of Mother by Rumaan Alam-I’m very excited about this one.

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig- Also very excited about this one.

The Hypnotist’s Love story by  Liane Moriarty-I like her other books, so I decided to give this a try.

Sometimes I lie By Alice Feeney-Another one I’m very excited about.

Crooked Kingdom By Leigh Bardugo-Pretty excited. I read the first book and want to know more.

A Man called Ove by Fredrik Backman-I have no idea what this is about, it was recommended.

What she Knew by Gilly Macmillan-I have no idea what this is about, it was recommended.

The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay-I have no idea what this is about, it was recommended.

Brother, I’m dying by Edwidge Danticat-No idea what it’s about, I picked it on the title.

 

So, that’s about it. I legit love to read and there’s a lot of good stuff to read out there. Someday I’ll post more about writing and how my writing’s going, but it’s weird since Im noy actively trying to get published right now? But for now, onward with reading!

Anything to recommend?

~Ames

Posted in info, Reading, writing

Book review: Six of crows.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.

So, this is another book that I’ve had for a very long time. I tried reading the first chapter, but got overwhelmed and put it down like three pages in. Then I tried again over a year later, got through the first chapter, but put it down again. Finally, I picked it up and forced myself to read it again. This is where I finally got into the book.

As one could guess, I have a lot of thoughts on this book.

Six of Crows is a fantasy novel that takes place in the fictional city of  Ketterdam. Six thieves and thugs (who some have history with each and not all like each other) are hired to break into the most secure prison in this world, called the Ice Palace and free one very important man. As it’s said on the book jacket, it will be extremely difficult and hard to do, if they all don’t kill themselves first.

A few things about this book. The world building is fantastic. It’s well thought out, with a lot of small details. that make things pop. The issue I had is, apparently, she wrote a trilogy before this, featuring other characters, but set in the same world and I think you need to read that one first. I say this because while reading, there was a lot of background stuff I was confused about. For the most part, I understood the story and characters and such, but I felt like she had established her world already and wasn’t explaining all the finer details. I didn’t realize I needed to read those books first.

The other issue I had was with the naming scheme. I see this in fantasy all the time (including a manuscript Im reading for friend) is author’s feel like they have to make their names sound all fancy and hard to pronounce. The joke that the elf king has to have at least six apostrophes in his name, or it’s not fantasy. Well, that pops up here, with names and races like “Fjerdan” or “Drüskelle” or Fabrikator”. I know they look cool, but I have no idea how to pronounce these words.

Overall, I did like this book. The characters are very well done and she published a sequel, called Crooked Kingdom, which I just got so I can learn what happens to this group of crazy kids.

I’d recommend this book and I’m probably going to reread when I get a chance. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite, but I did enjoy reading it.

8 out of 10

What do you think? Have you read it?

~Ames

 

Posted in ideas, Reading

Book review: Bonfire

Bonfire by Krysten Ritter.

So, this book was not planned. I had never heard of it before a few months ago, but I love the TV show Jessica Jones (do recommend if you haven’t seen, it’s a great show.) and while watching season two, I learned that the star of the show just published her first book. And when I went down to the book store to pick up a new batch of books (I like to shop locally and support this independent book shop) the owner recommended it to me.

So, here we are.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect, as a lot of times, actors ghost write or in general, are not that good at writing? So I went into this book completely blank.

Bonfire is the story about a women named Abby Williams, who is a environmental lawyer that grew up in a small town and got out as fast as she could. Until a case brings her back home and stirs up a decade old mystery.

This book is not bad by any means. Kyrsten Ritter can write and it shows here. While I wouldn’t say she is the best author I’ve ever seen, this is pretty good. Her writing style is sharp and to the point. I like that.

One of the (small) issues I had with this book is this character, Abby, feels almost exactly like the character Ritter plays on Jessica Jones. Changes the name, get rid of the superpowers and a bit of the backstory and boom, they are the same. This isn’t a bad thing, as both are very good characters and well written, but I had a hard time separating them in my mind. I wish there was something that would make Abby less like Jessica.

The only issue I really had with the plot was something happened to a girl a decade ago. She’s supposedly missing. When we find out what happened to her (near the end of the book, I won’t spoil it) it didn’t really matter to me. There wasn’t enough character development for me to care about her. Abby goes on and on about how this girl was so mean to her in high school, so I didn’t sympathize with her when I learned the twist. This is a bit of an issue.

Other then that, I did like this book. It’s pretty short (like 280 pages) so I read it very quickly and enjoyed it. I’m not sure if I would go back and reread it, but I would recommend it.

Have you read Bonfire? What did you think?

7.5 out of 10.

~Ames

Posted in ideas, info

Random thoughts.

Vague title is vague.

This post really doesn’t have any point, it’s more just me regurgitating thoughts about writing and what I personally want to see more of in novels. Have I done this before? Maybe, I don’t remember.

Anyway,

I’ve mentioned this before, but I personally don’t like romance stories. Mostly because, they’re boring and predictable. And this is not what I want in the media I consume. It’s okay when it’s a background plot, but usually, the main plot will take a backseat to a will-they-won’t-they. And this is boring because there’s only two ways it can go, either they get together, or they don’t. And most of the time, you can tell which way the book is going.

I can’t say I hate all romance because I have seen a few select that I actually do enjoy. A long time ago (almost a decade now) I read a book that involved the enemies to friends to lovers plot that took place in the 1840’s. One in which the couple married early in the book (an arranged marriage) and absolutely hated each other. The girl ran away a total of four times, only to be dragged back by her husband because he’s sticking to this miserable thing. I found it interesting because they didn’t actually become lovers until the very end of the novel. They were friends for the 2nd act of the book, when she ran away a 4th time and that time, he let her go. She then lived by herself for three years where she realized she did love him, went back in the last chapter and they lived happily ever after.

I also recently read a short story where two incredibly snarky people kinda hate each other have a short, train-wreck of a relationship that involved a lot of fighting, hate sex, breaking up and then getting back together only to be repeated a few days later. It wasn’t until friends of both parties were like, whoa, this is a really bad idea, staged an intervention, massive blowout fight before the unhappy couple realized they really brought out the worst in each other and split.

Both of these felt different to me and was probably why I enjoyed reading them.

But personally, the relationships that I enjoy reading about is, is sibling relationships. Not in an incest way (ew) but just how siblings relate to each other. There’s so much ground that can be covered. Siblings can love each other, hate each other, be estranged, have never met, have been separated and reunite. It’s so different from a romantic relationship because you can’t choose your family and can completely never get rid of them.

Sure, you can cut them out of your life and refuse to talk to your siblings, but they’re still your family.

In short, I feel like romance and novels that involve massive plots about weather or not the couple will get together has been done to death. Novels about siblings and all of those crazy relationships is personally what I want to see more of.

Anyway, that’s my random post for now.

What would you personally like to see more of in media, novels and T.V shows?

~Ames

 

Posted in info, Reading

Review: What Alice Forgot

What Alice forgot by Liane Moriarty.

So, after I read Big Little Lies (and loved it) I decided to go back and read some of her earlier books. While none so far have been as good as BLL, I still enjoyed reading them.

Alice starts the story on the floor on a gym, with a head injury. After she’s rushed to the hospital, she’s told she’s 39 years old, is getting divorced and has 3 children. The only thing is she doesn’t remember anything from the last ten years. She thinks she’s 29, only remembers being pregnant with her first and is madly in love with her husband.

Okay, the premise is not that unique. It’s been done before, but with an experienced author, it actually works pretty well. The character of Alice is interesting, because she legit has no idea why she hates her husband and what’s going on in her life. As one would expect, she’s met all kinds of people in the last decade and things aren’t going the way she thought they might.

It also starts to be implied that the person she turned into isn’t someone she wants to be.

I liked the characters and the plot. There’s nothing spectacular here, but it isn’t lackluster either. There wasn’t any massive issues I had with the book either, it was just a bit predictable and I’ve seen this done before. But the writing and character development was so good, I couldn’t help but stick around.

Overall it’s a good book, a fun read. I would recommend this book. it’s not a tense or suspenseful book, but just one that I enjoyed reading and thought was enjoyable . I probably wouldn’t re-read this book, but that’s okay.

7/10 stars.

What do you think, have you read it?

~Ames

Posted in info, Reading

Book review: Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.

I’m going to confess, I’ve had this in my library for the past two years. I bought this book in early 2015 and it’s been sitting on my kindle ever since. I once tried to read it, I got to like page two before I put it down. There was just no interest in reading it. Every now and then, I’d glance at it, think I should read it and then go about my merry way.

And now, I’m kicking myself. A few months ago, I went to a used bookstore. The lady there recommended three other books by the same author. I decided to give them a try and during a long stretch where my internet wasn’t working, I decided to give BLL a try. I finished it and I loved it. So much that I immediately went back and started rereading the book.

But let’s jump in.

Like most of her books, it’s set in Australia. It follows three sets of moms, all who had children who are starting kindergarten. Jane is a single mom with her only child Ziggy, who’s new to the area and school. Madeline is a veteran mom on her second marriage, her youngest daughter Chloe is starting school. She’s struggling with her older daughter and ex-husband from her first marriage. And finally, Celeste is the mother of twin boys, both in the same class as Ziggy and Chloe.

The problems start when on the first day of school, Ziggy is accused of biting another little girl’s arm. He of course says he didn’t, but the bike marks says he did. Battle lines are drawn and poor Jane and Ziggy are in for some rough times.

It does not sound like much, but this is a great book. It’s well written, the characters are incredible. I especially like the relationship between Madeline and Abigail, her older daughter. It’s real and painful. They deal with real issues, the mommy cliques, bullying and friendships. I don’t even have kids of my own, but I was fascinated by how mothers and this blended family is portrayed.

Honestly, I can’t think of anything bad to say about this book. The twists and turns are great, the characters are great. I loved every moment of it. This is not just a chick-flick book, it’s quite good and well worth reading.

You might have heard that it’s been turned into a series by HBO. I have not seen it yet, but I assume that it’s good. HBO always does quality work.

I would love to say more about this, but there’s not a lot I can say without spoiling. Go give this a read.

9/10.

Have you read it? What do you think?

~Ames

Posted in info, Reading

Book review: Little Fires Everywhere

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.

Since the last book I read, I didn’t enjoy very much, I decided my next review would be one that I really loved. Have to balance things out.

I was not planning on reading this book. But I’ve been hearing about it (along with hearing Hulu is making a TV show based on it) and then the owner of the book store that I love recommended it. So, I gave it a read.

(Note, this is a difficult one to describe because there’s a lot happening and it’s a bit of an unconventional plot).

The Richardson’s live in Shaker heights, Ohio in the 1990’s with their four high-school aged children, Lexie, Trip, Moody and Izzy. While their youngest daughter is a strange girl who acts out a lot, they are a normal, higher middle-class family. Things change when a single mom, Mia, moves to town with her teenage daughter, Pearl. They are very different, as Mia is a wanderer and free spirit. As their kids become friends, a court case splits the town, forcing people to choose sides. Things escalate from here.

Now, honestly, this does not sound like a very good book. When I picked up the book and read the book jacket, I had my doubts.

But holy crap, I loved this book.

First, there’s a massive theme of mothers and daughters here, which I love. Without giving too much away, I enjoyed this aspect as it was given a lot of focus. Mothers and daughter who like each other, dislike each other. Several of the moms in this book have dark secrets, giving the book a real depth.

Which leads to the characters. All of them here are amazing. They all felt like real people. Sometimes when reading, it doesn’t feel like these characters are people, as if they life only started at the beginning of the book. Not here, even minor characters have depth and background. All were very well written.

Another bit I liked was, I’m not really into romance and I felt like there wasn’t much of that in here. A bit here and there, but not the main plot. This is a good mark, in my book.

Finally, the writing is superb. After reading, I looked up information about the author and saw that she has a master degree in English and it shows.  The writing is masterful, several times I found myself wishing I could write like that. It’s beautiful, well done and just icing on the cake.

Over all, an amazing, well written story. I saw that this was her second book, so I’ve already gotten her first one and at the time of writing this, I’m about halfway done. If Mrs. Ng publishes anything else, I will be there without question to read it.

To be honest, I can’t think of a single negative thing to say about this book. I thought about it for several minutes and nothing came to mind. I’m sure maybe someone else might come up with something, but I loved it. I highly recommend reading this book. So much that I loaded my copy to someone at work and am letting another person read it when the first person is done.

9/10

What are you thoughts? Have you read it?

~Ames

Posted in info, Reading

Book review: Into the water

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins.

I should warn you right now if you’re a fan or love this book, I really did not like this book. It’s not quite hatred, but I didn’t even finish it. I got 200ish pages in, was so sick of it that I skipped to the end to see the twist, rolled my eyes and shoved it back on the shelf. So, keep that in mind.

So after the massive success of The Girl On The Train (which I thought was fine, but wasn’t really into) Paula Hawkins wrote another one. I decided to give it a read.

Into the Water takes place in a small, charming English village where there is a river that runs through it. A part of it’s called the drowning pool and like the names says, women (weirdly, just women) have been drowning there. There’s even a several hundred year old story about a teenage girl who drowned there. A teenager drowns a few months before the story and a single mom (named Danielle, or Nel) at the beginning of the story. A single mom who just happened to be investigating the drownings.

Nel’s estranged sister Jules comes back to town to look after Nel’s teenage daughter, Lena (who also happened to be friends with Katie, the girl who drowned a few months ago). Jules and Lena do not get along and both believe that Nel would of never jumped. The freaking book jacket  talks about them, saying the two of them don’t get along, but both want to figure out what happened.

Now, at this point, I found this a bit interesting. I love dysfunctional families and an aunt and a snooty teenager who hate each other trying to solve a mystery sounds great. Except there’s one problem.

The book isn’t about that! There’s not a lot about these two, they seem to avoid each other, snarl a bit at one another and then retreat away.

This book involves so many other characters and that’s the problem. Let me see if I can remember all of them.

Besides Nel, Jules and Lena, there’s Sean, the policemen working on the case and Erin the detective. Also, Sean’s wife Helen and his dad, Patrick, who lives with them. Also Lena had a friend named Katie who died a few months earlier, she has a younger brother named Josh, their mom Lousia and her husband, who I don’t remember his name. There’s also a psychics named Nikki who as far as I know, is not related to any of them. I have no idea why she’s in the story.

All of these characters has POV chapters. And while I just laid out who everyone is, the author never does that, or really introduced them. They’re just thrown in our face with little explanation, very fast and we’re left trying to figure out who these people are and how they’re related.

It’s very confusing and jarring to jump from character to character, especially when it hardly seems like these people matter. I didn’t care about the father of the policemen working this case and his dead wife,  or random flashback chapters about Nel’s boyfriend when she was 16. I wanted to know more about the teenage girl left behind and solving the mystery of how Nel drowned.

Worse is, none of these characters are memorable or even likable. I had to force myself through 200 pages and not one of them stuck out to me. It’s one thing to be horribly confused, it’s another when you just don’t care. There was nothing interesting or unique about these people. And that’s bad.

Another problem this book has is it’s written in all three tenses. First, second and third. More characters are in third person, a few are in first and Jules for some reason, is in second person, narrating to her dead sister.

No

No

No

No.

Pick one and stick to it. I’ve read a few books where two is used and I didn’t care for it. But three is way too over the top.

Another random thing I’d just like to point out that when I was growing up I lived in a small town of less then 20,000 people and we had a river that was popular to dive into, but after two kids drowned there during my HS years, the police did all they could to stop kids from going down there. But of course, none of that happens here. Kids go down to the drowning pool and play in the river all the time. I found that annoying. Why aren’t they trying harder to stop these drownings?

Ugh.

Overall, this book was a mess. And looking at Amazon and Goodreads reviews, it was clear I wasn’t the only one who thought so. I guess after the success of her first book, she had to try harder and cram as much into it as possible?

To be honest, unless she publishes something else that gets rave reviews, I’m not buying another one of her books.

The only good thing I can say is the writing wasn’t too bad? She’s an English author and has a very different writing style and slang then I’m used to, but it wasn’t bad. I felt like she knew how to write, but didn’t have good ideas or characters.

3/10, do not recommend.

Have you read the book? What are your thoughts?

~Ames