The First To Lie Review by Hank Phillippi Ryan (eARC) | A Reading, Reading, Reading Review

Welcome back to Reading, Reading, Reading!

Ever since I purchased my very first Kindle (more on that soon!), I have been making a significant dent through my 2020 Netgalley eARCs! Most of my Netgalley eARCs are made up on Mystery/Thriller novels, and one of my most anticipated from the bunch was The First To Lie by Hank Phillippi Ryan.

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Synopsis (Goodreads.com):

What happens when an undercover reporter gets in too deep? And when a practiced liar has to face off with her own truth—how does she choose her true reality?
Who will be the first to lie?
Bestselling and award-winning author and investigative reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan delivers another twisty, thrilling suspense novel that will leave you breathless.

Unfortunately, this book did not live up to my high expectations. It was the book equivalent of the word “inception”, which initially sounds intriguing, but ends up being very confusing, exactly like how this novel played out.

One of my favourite, yet lesser read tropes in thrillers, is to read about individuals trying to shut down a shady or secretly bad company. That was my favourite aspect of this novel, as I enjoyed reading about the different secrets the main characters were uncovering surrounding Pharminex – the drug company they are trying to shut down.

I also really enjoyed the numerous twists and turns. About 40% through the novel, a major twist is thrown at the readers. Unfortunately, I was able to predict this twist. However, if you are new/newish to the mystery/thriller genre, you will probably not see it coming!

The writing in this novel was done very well, which could have been a problem in this book since there are multiple POV’s and timelines involved in this novel.

For me, what my 3/5 star rating came down to was the execution of the plot. While I enjoyed reading this novel, I found it way too unrealistic. There are certain twists in this novel that occur at the very end, and while I found them surprising, I also found them very strange and unrealistic. Since I enjoyed the writing of this novel, I would be interested in picking up another future novel written by Hank Phillippi Ryan.

Thanks to Macmillan-Tor/Forge and Netgalley for providing me with an eARC to read and review!

Good Night Book Owls!

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware (eARC) | A Reading, Reading, Reading Review

Welcome back to Reading, Reading, Reading!

Ruth Ware is one of the most well known mystery/thriller authors in the genre. She has written and published seven mystery/thriller novels, all of which have become hugely successful. Her newest novel, set to be released in September 2020, is already receiving high praise. I had never read a Ruth Ware novel before reading The Turn of the Key, her 2019 publication.

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Synopsis (Goodreads.com):

When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.
What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.
Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.
It was everything.
She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.

Truthfully, I was very disappointed in this novel. I had expected great things from Ruth Ware, and this novel did not live up to the hype, in my opinion.

The pacing of this novel was very confusing. It was a quick read for me, but that could be because I am a fast reader in general (especially at a time like the one we are currently living in). However, I was very engrossed in the story and constantly wanted to know what was going on. I was genuinely scared at times, and had to flip my lights on during some chapters when I was getting creeped out – especially because I read this book over the span of two late nights!

Something I did enjoy was the writing style. This book is written in letters to a potential lawyer that Rowan, the protagonist, wants to use for her trial. She is essentially convincing him to come and help her case. However, I wish the letters were a bit shorter and more urgent sounding. It read as if she was just re-telling her side of the story, when in reality, I wish she would have done more convincing.

Another thing I really enjoyed was the ending. Believe it or not, at around the 75% mark, I saw it coming, but I enjoyed how Ruth Ware revealed it, and specifically how she wrote it. However, the main plot twist pertaining to the main character and the real reason why she applied to be their nanny I did not see coming at all!

I think what it came down to was the fact that I did not care about any of the characters. I am not someone who needs to read about likeable characters, in fact, I am a big fan of unreliable and unlikeable narrators. In this particular book, since I did not care about any of the characters, I found it hard to emotionally care about the plot line and the events that happened.

Overall, I gave this book a 2.25/5 stars. I do not understand all of the hype surrounding this novel, but I hope her 2020 release makes up for my thoughts on this one! Thanks to Simon and Schuster Canada for sending an eARC of this book my way!

Good Night Book Owls!

The Switch by Beth O’Leary | A Reading, Reading, Reading Review

Welcome back to Reading, Reading, Reading!

Believe it or not, I have taken a short break from my dark and crazy mystery/thrillers and have been working my way through my unread contemporary romance novels! Although I claim that my favourite genre is mystery/thriller, contemporary romance novels always seem to take up a good chunk of my favourite books at the end of every year. Last year, I read Beth O’Leary’s debut novel, The Flatshare, and while it did not make my favourite books list, there is no doubt that her most recent publication, The Switch, will!

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Synopsis (Goodreads.com):

When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen.
Once Leena learns of Eileen’s romantic predicament, she proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire. But with gossiping neighbours and difficult family dynamics to navigate up north, and trendy London flatmates and online dating to contend with in the city, stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected.
Leena learns that a long-distance relationship isn’t as romantic as she hoped it would be, and then there is the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – school teacher, who keeps showing up to outdo her efforts to impress the local villagers. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, but is her perfect match nearer home than she first thought?

This book was the equivalent of a chef’s kiss. It was perfection in every sense, and ever since I have finished the novel, I have been contemplating whether it is currently my #1 favourite book of the year!

What made this novel so great was the quirky, unique, and overall wonderful cast of characters. There were quite a few characters in this novel, but I never found them hard to keep track or remember. I became so emotionally attached to almost all of the characters, and found myself caring for them so much. I specifically loved Arnold, Martha, and Fitz’s characters, as they were side characters that added so much to the novel.

The writing in this novel really stood out to me while I was reading it. Like The Flatshare, this novel was written in dual perspective. Both points of view were written with very distinct voices, and I never had aa problem remembering which perspective I was reading from. The characters voices were established very well from the very beginning of the novel, which I enjoyed and appreciated immensely. In most cases of dual POV stories, often times one voice will stick out more than the other, and in this case, that voice was Eileen, the 79-year-old grandmother to Leena. Her voice was incredibly witty and humours, and it was such a joy reading all of her chapters!

I also really appreciated the way Beth O’Leary wrote both of the settings in this novel. Leena lives in a small village a couple of hours away from London. O’Leary wrote the town to perfection, and it really felt like I was in a small town when reading from her perspective.

Typically, I am not a huge fan of character driven novels, because I love plots with a clear problem and solution. However, this one was spectacular. Overall, I absolutely loved this novel and gave it 5/5 stars. And although I gave The Flatshare 5/5 stars as well, I somehow liked this novel 10x more! If you are a fan of character driven contemporary novels, I would highly suggest giving this one a try!

Good Night Book Owls!

The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon (FC) | A Reading, Reading, Reading Review

Welcome back to Reading, Reading, Reading!

After reading so many mystery/thrillers over the past few months, I was in need of a good romance “palette cleanser” novel. I had a few of them to chose from, so I decided to read through the first page to see which one intrigued me the most. When I picked up the  novel, The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon, I read the first line – “Alexa, play Drake.” and I knew this was the one for me! {Also, NEW DRAKE TODAY!}

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Synopsis (Goodreads.com):

Samiah Brooks never thought she would be “that” girl. But a live tweet of a horrific date just revealed the painful truth: she’s been catfished by a three-timing jerk of a boyfriend. Suddenly Samiah-along with his two other “girlfriends,” London and Taylor-have gone viral online. Now the three new besties are making a pact to spend the next six months investing in themselves. No men, no dating, and no worrying about their relationship status . . .
For once Samiah is putting herself first, and that includes finally developing the app she’s always dreamed of creating. Which is the exact moment she meets the deliciously sexy, honey-eyed Daniel Collins at work. What are the chances? When it comes to love, there’s no such thing as a coincidence. But is Daniel really boyfriend material or is he maybe just a little too good to be true?

This was the PERFECT romance for me. Since both of the main characters, Samiah and Daniel, work at a huge tech company, I really loved the tech elements presented in this book. I really loved reading about all of the projects they were tasked with and all of the extra tech-talk that was written in this novel.

Of course, one of the best elements of their workplace was the fact that Samiah was a women in a powerful position. In the male-dominated tech-world, it was so nice to read about a women of colour in a high-up position, who was respected and appreciated for by her employees and employers. I never enjoy reading the trope of the “unappreciated female employee”, so I was very happy that that was not included in this novel. Since Samiah is an important asset to her male-dominated company, there is a lot of great commentary about women – specifically women of colour – working in the tech industry and trying their best to succeed in order to keep doorways open for other women like them. A lot of the commentary was not something that I had ever read before or thought about, so I was incredibly grateful to have been opened up to those conversations.

One of my favourite aspects of this novel was reading about the strong female friendships between Samiah, London, and Taylor. Although they are brought together by an unfortunate event, their friendship blossomed throughout the story and was simply a joy to read. I have a strong group of friends like the one written about in this novel, and it made me appreciate them even more!

And of course, I LOVED Daniel! He was definitely my favourite character in this novel. Without spoiling anything, he does some questionable things in this novel, but they are all for a purpose and easy to understand. He is put in some hard situations, and even Samiah comes to understand why he did what he did. I loved Daniel and Samiah’s relationship from the very beginning of this novel, as they liked each other right away. I know the hate-to-love relationship trope is very popular, but I find it to be a tad overdone. I really enjoyed the pace of their relationship, and I enjoyed reading about every aspect of it!

The writing in this novel is nothing special, but I appreciated that the synopsis began and ended within the first 50 pages of the novel, and truthfully, most of what occurs in the novel, is not even mentioned in the synopsis at all! As for the “steamy scenes” (as I like to call them!), they were the perfect amount of sweet and steamy, and were not to overly descriptive. In my opinion, it was the perfect amount for a contemporary romance.

Overall, I absolutely loved this book and gave it 5/5 stars. Thanks to HBG Canada for providing me with a finished copy to read and review!

Good Night Book Owls!

P.S. I’m low-key convinced the Farrah Rochon and myself are the same person based on her author-bio on the bag of the novel! We both love reading, travelling, Walt Disney World and Broadway shows!!

Playing Nice by J.P. Delaney | A Reading, Reading, Reading Review

Welcome back to Reading, Reading, Reading!

As you may know by now, I have recently been reading new Mystery/Thriller novels like it is nobody’s business! The mystery/thriller genre has been my favourite since 2018, but I think I have read more books from that genre this year than I did all of last year! In 2019, I read J.P. Delaney’s The Perfect Wife, and while I really enjoyed it, I did not find to be very memorable. However, with her newest mystery/thriller Playing Nice, I don’t think I will be able to forget this story or these characters for a very long time.

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Synopsis (Goodreads.com):

Pete Riley answers the door one morning and lets in a parent’s worst nightmare. On his doorstep is Miles Lambert, a stranger who breaks the devastating news that Pete’s son, Theo, isn’t actually his son–he is the Lamberts’, switched at birth by an understaffed hospital while their real son was sent home with Miles and his wife, Lucy. For Pete, his partner Maddie, and the little boy they’ve been raising for the past two years, life will never be the same again.
The two families, reeling from the shock, take comfort in shared good intentions, eagerly entwining their very different lives in the hope of becoming one unconventional modern family. But a plan to sue the hospital triggers an official investigation that unearths some disturbing questions about the night their children were switched. How much can they trust the other parents–or even each other? What secrets are hidden behind the Lamberts’ glossy front door? Stretched to the breaking point, Pete and Maddie discover they will each stop at nothing to keep their family safe.
They are done playing nice.

There are two word I would use to describe this book: simply stellar. Everything about this book was so simple, but done to such a high degree of effectiveness. The overall concept of this novel is unique, but done so simply with such intricate emphasis on the plot. As I previously shared, I have read one other J.P. Delaney book, The Perfect Wife (click here to read my review), and while I enjoyed that one, I enjoyed this novel so much more. I found as the story in The Perfect Wife developed, it became less and less realistic, whereas that never happened with this one. I truly think what makes this book so thrilling, is not due to any specific detail in the novel itself, but rather the plot seems so horrifyingly realistic.

In the past, I’ve had issues with the pacing and longevity of thrillers—especially those that are around the 400 page mark. Some seem to drag on for ages, and not everything in them tends to be necessary for the overall development of the plot. However, this book felt like one of the shortest thrillers I have ever read—even though it is over 400 pages! The pacing of this novel was impeccable, and since this book has small twists or conversations that lead you to want to continue reading at the end of each chapter, I read the book so quickly, which in this case, I did unintentionally. Sometimes, especially in readathons, I will read quickly for a purpose, but this book was so engrossing and captivating that it pushed me to read it at an unusually quick speed.

The POV style of this book was very surprising, and immediately caught me off guard. You would think that a novel that centres around a pair of couples whose children were accidentally swapped at the NICU upon birth would be written in two POVS—one person from each respective couple. However, in this novel, the book is written from two POVs—the man and woman who have a partnership together (they are not married). As the plot line develops, it is unknown as to why the author made this choice, but when you get to the last few chapters, it suddenly becomes clear.

The writing itself was very simple, but incredibly enjoyable. I find that in thrillers, I appreciate simple yet clear writing, as it makes the story easy to read and helps to pick the pace of the book up, even if it is a little bit slow, unlike this particular novel.

The characters were very, very interesting. Immediately upon reading this book, I felt attached to Pete, the father of Theo. He is a stay-at-home father, a profession that is not typically amplified enough in many adult novels. He is a very kind and sensitive person, and takes passion in taking care of his son while his wife is at work. Because I liked him so much, it was easy to care deeply about his emotions and thoughts while the story developed. I also really enjoyed reading from Maddie’s perspective, Pete’s partner and Theo’s mother. She has a very distinct and ominous voice throughout the book, and her character developed into something unexpected but very appreciated as the novel concluded.

This book was an amazing mystery/thriller, that embodied everything I love about and in mystery/thriller novels. I rated this book 5/5 stars, and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys novels centred around family dynamics, children, or court room dramas.

Good Night Book Owls!

The Passengers by John Marrs | A Reading, Reading, Reading Review

Welcome to Reading, Reading, Reading!

As you may know, John Marrs has quickly become one of my new favourite authors of all time. His mystery/thriller novels are practically perfect in every way (movie reference, anybody?)! For the second half of 2020, I am going to try to get through all of John Marrs backlist publications, making this one the second Marrs book I have read this year. And boy oh boy, it did NOT disappoint!

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Synopsis (Goodreads.com):

Eight self-drive cars set on a collision course. Who lives, who dies? You decide.
When someone hacks into the systems of eight self-drive cars, their passengers are set on a fatal collision course.
The passengers are: a TV star, a pregnant young woman, a disabled war hero, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and wife – and parents of two – who are travelling in separate vehicles and a suicidal man. Now the public have to judge who should survive but are the passengers all that they first seem?

This book was UNREAL. With every John Marrs book I read, I am more and more impressed by his writing and unpredictable plot twists. He seems to have gotten the thrilling aspect down to a tee, and his plot twists for exceptional mysterious aspects.

The Passengers features a very interesting cast of characters. Quickly, readers realize that everyone involved in this event has a secret to hide, and while I was expecting the secrets to be very basic (murder, money laundering, etc.), these ones were actually very complex and unexpected. Each of the secrets helped to further develop the characters, and they added to the uniqueness of this book.

Within this story, I found so many tropes that I love to read in novels, including an element of tech, majority of the story taking place over a small period of time, and a romance element that does not take over the whole story, just to name a few. Since this story was so plot driven, it was necessary for Marrs to include a lot of different tropes to help advance the plot of the story, and I thought that the ones he chose were not only interesting, but also executed so well.

I think this book would make a phenomenal movie adaptation, as the majority of the story takes place over only a few hours during one day. The technological aspect would be so interesting to see play out on TV, and I know the characters could easily be cast. I hope that after The One gets put on Netflix, Netflix will think about creating The Passengers into a movie!

And of course, I ended up giving this book 5/5 stars. Out all of the John Marrs books I have read so far, this one was my favourite!

Good Night Book Owls!

Hamartia by Raquel Rich | A Reading, Reading, Reading Review

Welcome back to Reading, Reading, Reading!

If you are a frequent reader of my book blog, you will notice that I rarely read Sci-Fi novels. That being said, when I was first approached by Raquel to read her novel, Hamartia, I thought that the premise sounded very different from most Sci-Fi novels. Since the synopsis peaked my interest, I accepted to read and review it… and I am so glad I did!

Synopsis (Goodreads.com):

Grace’s nine-year-old son, Jordan, is dying. First, the Metagenesis disease will tear his soul from his body, and then it will kill him. Desperate for a cure, Grace agrees to take part in an illegal clinical trial cloning souls. Supported by her best friend Kay, the two embark on the ultimate “Vegas Vacation” to the past in search of the right soul to clone, racing against time to save Jordan’s life. But someone is trying to stop them and when they discover why Grace must make a choice: let her son die or kill her husband. If she kills her husband, she triggers widespread Metagenesis, sealing the fate of the human race with a new plague.
Humanity is counting on Grace choosing to let her son die.

Right off the bat, the story takes place starting in Toronto travelling to Las Vegas 80-years in the past (Las Vegas circa 2000). This was so coincidental, as the last trip I took before COVID was to Las Vegas from Toronto! The overall world building was one of my favourite things to read in this story, which stemmed from Rich’s stupendous writing.

Rich’s writing is fantastic, especially for a debut novel. At times, I thought that the writing was a little ramble. Rich includes a lot of detail in this story, which is appreciated, however I didn’t think that all of it was absolutely necessary. This also goes for some of the character dialogue. However, her word choice and overall writing devices were written incredibly well.

In my opinion, the best part of this novel were the characters and character development. As readers, we see the characters go through a lot in this story, and I really enjoyed reading them develop. I especially enjoyed Grace’s character and all of the emotions she goes through throughout this story. I felt really invested in Grace’s story while reading this novel, which helped me read this story very quickly.

Since I was a bit nervous to read a Sci-Fi novel, I was incredibly impressed by how thrilling it was! There are quite a few plot twists in this novel that I did not see coming at all, which added to my overall enjoyment of the novel. Rich did a great job of incorporating an equal amount of sci-fi elements – especially time travelling – along with both emotional and thrilling elements.

Overall, I was incredibly surprised by this novel (in the best way!), and rated it 4/5 stars! Thanks very much to Raquel Rich for giving me a copy of Hamartia to read and review, I apologize for how long it took me to finally read it!

Good Night Book Owls!

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides | A Reading, Reading, Reading Review

Welcome back to Reading, Reading, Reading!

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides has been staring into my soul since it arrived on my shelf at the end of last year. I have had this book on my TBR since November 2019 (you can find it on multiple TBR posts on my blog!), and have been quite intimidated by it, only because of the massive hype in 2019. It was a #1 NYT bestseller, won several book awards, and earned the #1 Mystery/Thriller of 2019 on Goodreads! Oh, and did I mention it is a DEBUT NOVEL?!?!?!?!?!

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Synopsis (Goodreads.com):

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.
Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.
Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him…

This book was MIND BLOWING.

Most people’s ratings are strictly based off of their thoughts on the final (again MIND BLOWING) plot twist. What was interesting about this novel, is that you will either love or hate it depending on how you read it. Without going into much detail or spoiling the entire plot line, the plot twist at the end will shock you if you don’t think about the timeline presented in the book. That is ALL I will tell you… and I feel like even that is sharing too much!

Although I absolutely loved the plot twist, the stand out feature of this novel was the writing. I could not believe that this was a debut novel. The writing in this book was so simple, yet so elegant. Everything was written for a reason and only provided just enough detail for readers to visualize the [wild] events that were taking place. After completing the book, I read a few reviews that criticized the writing style, but I feel like those reviewers were used to a more outgoing first person narrator. This book is technically written in first person POV from the psychotherapists’s perspective, but there are also journal entries written from Alicia herself, which were fantastically written, as well. Normally when reading books written in this way, I will favour one POV/writing style better, but in this book, I enjoyed them equally!

The characters were really interesting and very well developed. Theo and Alicia’s characters contrasted each other, but as you continue to read the novel, you learn that they are actually very similar internally.

Overall, I gave this book a 5/5 stars (my second 5-star book out of my last three reads!), and would whole-heartedly recommend it to anyone who enjoys Mystery/Thriller novels!

Good Night Book Owls!

Beach Read by Emily Henry | A Reading, Reading, Reading Review

“I lost myself in him, and instead of trying to convince myself that someday everything would okay, I focused that, right now, it already was.” – Beach Read, Pg. 288

Welcome back to Reading, Reading, Reading!

It’s book like Beach Read by Emily Henry that remind me why I fell in love with reading in the first place. There are certain emotions you feel when you’ve been transported into the world of a book, totally transfixed in the story and with the characters. It’s one thing to see the story play out for you on the screen, but it’s another to play a story in your head, in total peace and quiet. This book was an absolute delight to read, and I will continue to scream about it from the rooftops for the rest of my life.

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Synopsis (Goodreads.com):

A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.
Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.
They’re polar opposites.
In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.
Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.

I think I’ve come to the conclusion that I enjoy books that make me cry more than books that make me feel butterflies in my stomach. Sure, passionate romances are great (when written well), but there is something about feeling perplexed with emotions that makes me appreciate a well written novel. Clearly, this one was no exception. The writing in this novel was perfection. There were a few times where I stopped and re-read specific passages, as they often held a deep meaning. The more passionate love scenes were beautifully written with not only physicalities, but also emotions, kept in mind. While the gave me butterflies, they seemed realistic and truthful. Near the end of the novel when January begins to read letters her Father had left for her, the writing style changed effectively, which took my reading experience to a new high.

Truthfully, the title of this novel is actually quite deceiving. This is not your quintessential lovey, swoon worthy, romance novel, but rather a book that showcases the power of past trauma and how it can impact future relationships. While it isn’t highlighted in the plot, the characters have both experienced an immense amount of hardships, which contributes to their hard-exterior, yet soft interior, personalities. They are so alike yet so different in an abundance of ways.

I really didn’t want this book to end. I became so attached to not only the two main characters, Gus and January, but also the side characters that were equally important to the story. All of the characters were incredibly layered and written with distinctive voices. One of my favourite parts about this book revolved around January’s father. While January finds out that her Father wasn’t the great man she had always thought he was, she learned to understand his issues and separate his secrets from the way he treated and raised her. I am incredibly close with my Father and consider him to be one of my best friends(hi Dad! I know you are reading this!!), so I immensely enjoyed reading about January’s relationships with her Father. I think it’s hard to come by a novel where you whole-heartedly enjoy all of the characters, and that is another reason why this book was (is!) so special.

This book mostly takes place inside/outside of a lake-front house, which is one of my favourite settings to read books take place in. While I am not a big “outdoors” person, I have always loved homes that back onto water-fronts, and reading this book reminded me of that.

I appreciated that while this was technically a hate-to-love romance (although I haven’t seen it publicized as one), it was about characters who misunderstood eachother, and through the process of individual growth and maturity, they learned and connected with one another. Words cannot describe how lovely it was to read this first hand.

And of course, I rated this book 5/5 stars (I would have given it 6 stars if I could have)! I hope you enjoyed my review of Beach Read by Emily Henry! If you’ve read this book, let me know your thoughts on it in a comment!

Good Night Book Owls!

Alyssa’s Reviews – Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Welcome back to Reading, Reading, Reading!

Over the past few years, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng was at the top of my TBR list, and appeared on over five different monthly TBR’s in the past two years! In June, I was in the mood to pick up a character-driven novel, and was immediately drawn to finally read Little Fires Everywhere! To say that I had high expectations for this book would be an understatement, and unfortunately, it did not live up to them in my opinion.

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Synopsis (Goodreads.com):

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.
Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood–and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.

I will describe this book in one word: underwhelming.

Like I stated above, I had SO many high expectations for this book. Thinking back, maybe that was unfair, but when you hear about a book that is loved by millions of people internationally, you believe that it will be your next new favourite book. In my case, that did not happen. Now, I am not saying that this was not a good or enjoyable book. I quite enjoyed it, but I have definitely read better books before (both literary fiction and books from other genres).

I want to get all of the negative things I have to write about this book out of the way, so if you are only in the mood to read positive things (which I understand might be possible since we are in such depressing times), then skip to the next paragraph. Upon reading the Goodreads synopsis, you would think that this book centres around Mrs. Richardson digging into Mia Warren’s troubled past. However, I would argue that that is not the first main plot of the story. In fact, everything that is shared in the synopsis does not begin to unfold until 150 pages into the story. One of the main things that I did not like about this book was the fact that there were too many different plot lines and stories to follow, especially when this is supposed to be a character driven novel. I enjoyed all of the plot lines once they were fully introduced, but I thought that it took way too long to get to all of them. I also didn’t really love the writing in this novel. A lot of reviewers have cited the writing as something they have adored about this book, but I did not think that it was anything special. Throughout the novel, I thought that Celeste Ng had some very rambly sections, as well as some sections that I would have liked more information on. Had she balanced those out evenly, I think I would have enjoyed the story a lot more.

However, there were a handful of things about this book that I really enjoyed. Mainly, I loved many of the characters in this novel. In my opinion, this book is a master class on character development. I have NEVER read a book with such clear characters that flawlessly developed when the story concluded. Interestingly enough, my favourite character was Izzie, the character in this novel that I believe goes through the least amount of development. I would have loved to have read more about her thoughts and opinions on everything going on, and would love to read a short story in her perspective in the future,

Truthfully, I think that most readers will, in fact, enjoy this book (probably a lot more than I did). One of the key factors influencing my dissapointment of this book may be my age and lack of experience in the adult world. I would be interested in going back to this book in about 10-years, and seeing if I would enjoy it more then. If I am still blogging then, I will read and review it again if I remember! Overall, I gave this book 2.5/5 stars.

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on this book, so if you have read it, let me know in the comments and we can discuss it!

Good Night Book Owls!