Everything I Never Told You (2014) by Celeste Ng

★★★★☆ 4/5

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.
So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos. 
A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another. – Goodreads


Fiction / Can be read in a few days / Emotional 

This was definitely a different read for me this year, I had started out with some emotional reads, but since summer I have almost entirely committed my TBR to books that have some horror or fantasy aspect. Although there was a hint of mystery in this book it was generally focusing on emotions and relationships which is not usually my interest.

I found this book at a huge book fair and the cover drew me in so I said I would take a chance on it and I am glad I did. It is a beautiful, but dramatic story of a family who loses their daughter/sister. It explores the identities of each family member, their own issues, and their own speculation on what may have happened to Lydia.

Growing up has shown me Lydia’s perspective where she feels pressured to make her parents proud, but it has also opened my eyes to a huge theme in this read. When you are young you see your parents as just that – parents. What we soon discover as we mature and begin to think more is that our parents are people too, they have a history, they have a future, and they are not strictly just our parents. There is so much more to a life than we know, and a tragedy such as this has opened old wounds and prompted self discovery of the family.

Although it was not a high action novel, there were still times of suspense and mystery and I loved learning about the different lives and reactions of the members of the family. It is nice to be reminded that everyone has a story.

I cannot wait to read Little Fires Everywhere!

 

"Suddenly she felt drowned in the incredible wrongness of this moment,"
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Poets,Artists,Lovers: A Novel (2017) by Mira Tudor

★★★ 3.5/5

IMG_3820PAL is a fast-paced yet poignant character-driven novel riding waves of romanticism, drama, and wit in a manner reminiscent of David Nicholls’s books (One Day)—and set in the exciting world of several vibrant Romanian artists and musicians. Henriette, an accomplished sculptor, seems to find more joy in her feminist-inspired work and her piano playing than in the people who care about her.
Ela, a piano teacher turned book reviewer, hopes to discover the key to happiness and a more meaningful life through studying the workings of the mind and crafting poems about emotions she trusts will lead her to a better place. Joining them in beauty and blindness is Pamfil, a violinist who dabbles as a singer and lives mostly for the moment and his monthly parties. As they follow their passions, they find themselves on treacherous journeys to love and happiness, and are slow to figure out how to best tackle their predicaments. Fortunately, their lovers and friends are there to help . . . but then a newcomer complicates things. – Goodreads


Fiction/Contemporary/Women’s Fiction – can be read in a few good reading sessions

This read consists of characters that are artists in many different possible forms; sculptors, violinists, poets, and more. Somehow all their paths cross through a man named Pamfil whose charm makes them question what type of passion they seek in life.

Pamfil stimulates the discussion of what is lust, and what is love. Each lover endures different personal struggle identifying with what they feel for Pamfil and what it means for their relationship with their current/past partner.

I really enjoyed Mira’s writing style, there was so much insight and emotion in the writing I always caught myself writing down favorite quotes. The flow and beauty in the writing made the story so much more pleasurable to read.

The discussion of lust,love, and relationships is important in life and if you can relate at all then this read will definitely get you thinking about the kind of passion and stability you seek in your own life. Seeing Pamfil through the eyes of Henriette, Ela, and Anca and reading about the impacts he had on their lives provides us with different perspectives on the love/lust conversation and emphasizes that the impact of such a relationship is different depending on who you are and what you value.

My only problem with this read is that there was not enough action for me. Towards the middle it seemed to be very slow with a lot more discussion about weight than necessary. I would of enjoyed more events that caused interaction between all our poets,artists, and lovers. The beginning and ending were very well done and strong, however I did have a hard time staying engaged in the middle.

I definitely hope to read more from this author.

You can get her book here

"There is no routine with a loved one. Lovers are supposed to change each 
other all the time."
"He had only one heart and couldn't trust a woman, any woman, with it."
"'At twenty-four you should be looking resolutely ahead,' Pamfil said, 
'and not into the past. There will be enough time for that later on.'"
"And life wasn't only music and sunshine."

The Giver (1993) by Lois Lowry

★★★★★ 5/5

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This haunting story centers on Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he’s given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community. – Goodreads

 

 

 


Fiction/Classic / Can be read easily, hard to put it down

It is hard to believe that I am just reading this book at 21 years old, especially since it was such a hit in some high school classes I always managed to avoid reading it – and wow, do I ever regret it!

The whole setting and idea of the society within this story is amazing enough, it is creative, manageable, and well structured. I loved hearing about the transitions children go through each year, and it was amazing to read this and have the citizens act so naturally with it because for their society it is all they know.

And then that’s when you have your twist. I do not want to spoil this book because it really is amazing and I suggest each and every one of you read it. The story really made me appreciate the good and the bad of what we experience in our lives and you get to explore your own morals and beliefs while you are held in suspense about the character’s choice of action.

"Life here is so orderly, so predictable - so painless. It's what they've
chosen."

Tuesdays With Morrie (1997) by Mitch Albom

★★★★★ 5/5

Processed with VSCO with a4 presetMaybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher or a colleague. Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and searching, and gave you sound advice to help you make your way through it. For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly twenty years ago. Maybe, like Mitch, you lost track of this mentor as you made your way, and the insights faded. Wouldn’t you like to see that person again, ask the bigger questions that still haunt you? Mitch Albom had that second chance. He rediscovered Morrie in the last months of the older man’s life. Knowing he was dying of ALS – or motor neuron disease – Mitch visited Morrie in his study every Tuesday, just as they used to back in college. Their rekindled relationship turned into one final ‘class’: lessons in how to live. – Goodreads



Memoir/Inspirational / Quick read can be read in one sitting, and should be read over and over.

Okay, I loved this read. It was so sweet and enjoyable, Morrie was really an amazing man with a lot to offer to the world. This is a great way for a man to be remembered and I am so proud of Mitch for writing this.

These kinds of reads are so important to me. This read reminded me of The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch which I also really enjoyed and have been meaning to re-read. As a 21 year old newly graduated university student, life advice is crucial to me. This is the age where things get confusing because you are trying to evaluate where you are in life and figuring out where you want to be and how to get there. I always say to myself “if I knew then what I know now” and these books can give you that in real time. Learning from others is key to our growth, and having the opportunities to hear the life lessons of wiser and more experienced people can really contribute to your own growth and possibly impact the way you live the rest of you life.

This was an enjoyable book and the set up was perfect. The chapter titles, the transitions between flashbacks and “lectures”, and the overall short and sweetness of the book makes it that much more valuable. It is a well written book with a lot to offer, I encourage everyone to read it, and then maybe read it twice.

"He was intent on proving that the word 'dying' was not synonymous with
'useless'."
"The world, I discovered, was not all that interested. I wandered around my 
early twenties, paying rent and reading classifieds and wondering why the 
lights were not turning green for me."
"I felt as if time were suddenly precious, water going down an open drain,
and I could not move quickly enough."
"'Life is a series of pulls back and forth. You want to do one thing, but 
you are bound to do something else. Something hurts you yet you know it 
shouldn't. You take certain things for granted, even when you know you 
should never take anything for granted.'"
"'So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep,
 even when they're busy doing things they think are important.'"
"'And in addition to all the miseries, the young are not wise. They 
have very little understanding about life. Who wants to live every day
when you don't know what's going on?'"
"'Aging is not just decay, you know. It's growth.'"
"Death ends a life not a relationship."

 

 

 

 

 

Whiskey Words & a Shovel I (2017) by R.H. Sin

★★★★☆ 4/5

Processed with VSCO with a4 presetWhiskey, Words, and a Shovel, Vol. 1, is about reclaiming your power on the path to a healthy relationship. It is a testament to choosing to love yourself, even if it means heartbreak.
Originally released in 2015, this re-release packs the same punch as the first version, but makes an even greater connection with the soul of the reader. Each piece has been re-seen and revamped to reflect the author’s continuing journey with his partner, Samantha King, without whom this book would not exist. Samantha is the muse, the “she” the writer speaks of; she is every woman who has felt like she wasn’t good enough, and every woman who struggles to find love. – Goodreads


Poetry/ Can be read in a short sitting – a good book to turn to when you’re feeling emotional

absolutely loved this read. I am picky when it comes to poetry, but I was hooked to r.h. Sin the first poem I read.

I will definitely be reading the other Whisky Words & a Shovel installments in the near future.

The blunt poetry was raw and real, I have been going through some struggles myself recently and reading the poems definitely influenced me to be real with my emotions and think more deeply about my life.

It is hard to give a 5 star rating to poetry especially an installment with so many segments because you can’t love them all and you can’t relate to them all. However, the ones I could relate to made this read worth it and I will absolutely be rereading it during anytime I am emotional or feeling vulnerable.

Here are my favorites (in alphabetical order):

after ruins.
a tweet.
blind and confused.
body talk.
can't be life.
connections.
easier but difficult.
from start to finish again.
his issue, not yours.
just be.
limitations imitations.
my own value.
open your eyes.
the control.
the death of an indie.
the good man.
the lines.
the reasons why.
the whiskey fights.
true colors.

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry (2017) by Neil DeGrasse Tyson

★★★★★ 5/5

Processed with VSCO with a4 presetThe essential universe, from our most celebrated and beloved astrophysicist.
What is the nature of space and time? How do we fit within the universe? How does the universe fit within us? There’s no better guide through these mind-expanding questions than acclaimed astrophysicist and best-selling author Neil deGrasse Tyson.
But today, few of us have time to contemplate the cosmos. So Tyson brings the universe down to Earth succinctly and clearly, with sparkling wit, in tasty chapters consumable anytime and anywhere in your busy day. While you wait for your morning coffee to brew, for the bus, the train, or a plane to arrive, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry will reveal just what you need to be fluent and ready for the next cosmic headlines: from the Big Bang to black holes, from quarks to quantum mechanics, and from the search for planets to the search for life in the universe. -Goodreads




Non-Fiction/Science – A heavy read, takes time and should be reread if truly interested in learning about astrophysics

I have done university courses in Astrophysics and this book is an excellent background. The first read through would definitely teach the reader about the history of our universe as it explores the birth of the universe, how stars and planets formed, dark matter and energy, the periodic table of elements, scientific laws, and many other topics. If you’re really passionate in learning from this book a slow read through with some notes or reading through it multiple times will ensure you have a good understanding of the main science involved with astrophysics.

It is hard to review such a technical book, it is definitely heavy science and this should be considered before reading. Neil DeGrasse Tyson also adds his sarcastic humor which will make you laugh while you learn about the universe.

"We are stardust brought to life, then empowered by the universe to figure 
itself out - and we have only just begun."
"The power and beauty of physical laws is that they apply everywhere. 
Whether or not you choose to believe in them."
"Yes, Einstein was a badass."
"With the power of vision, you miss nothing."
"We do not simply live in the universe. The universe lives within us."

IT (1987) by Stephen King

UPDATE I have finally finished reading IT about a week before the movie premieres and I cannot contain my excitement.


★★★★★ 5/5

IMG_2834To the children, the town was their whole world. To the adults, knowing better, Derry, Maine was just their home town: familiar, well-ordered for the most part. A good place to live. It was the children who saw – and felt – what made Derry so horribly different. In the storm drains, in the sewers, IT lurked, taking on the shape of every nightmare, each one’s deepest dread. Sometimes IT reached up, seizing, tearing, killing . . .
The adults, knowing better, knew nothing.Time passed and the children grew up, moved away. The horror of IT was deep-buried, wrapped in forgetfulness. Until they were called back, once more to confront IT as IT stirred and coiled in the sullen depths of their memories, reaching up again to make their past nightmares a terrible present reality.
  – Goodreads


Horror/Thriller/Fantasy – a lengthy read, but worth every word.

There is no denying this is the best book I have ever read. I am usually picky about long books, but this book required every detail and was executed perfectly. I never wanted it to end.

The main characters being the seven kids; Bill, Ben, Beverly, Eddie, Mike, Richie, and Stan. My favorites were definitely Bill and Eddie, my least favorite being Richie (Beep, Beep).

Stephen King’s writing style is just as enjoyable as the story itself, I loved how gracefully he transitioned from the present setting to the memories. The aspect of the adults remembering everything slowly instead of all at once and presenting this as memories added to the suspense and the foreshadowing.

What makes Stephen King so amazing is that he has all these creative ideas and a wild imagination and he can really create a visual image that is equally as amazing as it is terrifying.

Of course, I can’t say too much because I want to keep my reviews spoiler free, but EVERYONE has to read this masterpiece. I am going to watch the old film before the movie release on September 8th!

"I'm doing the Mashed Potatoes all over it and I got a broken arm!"
"In nightmares we can think the worst. That's what they're for, I guess."
"There was blood ... blood everywhere ... and her father didn't see it."

 

The Nest (2015) by Kevin Oppell

★★★★☆ 4/5

For some kids summer is a sun-soaked season of fun. But for Steve, it’s just another season of worries. Worries about his sick newborn baby brother who is fighting to survive, worries about his parents who are struggling to cope, even worries about the wasp’s nest looming ominously from the eaves. So when a mysterious wasp queen invades his dreams, offering to “fix” the baby, Steve thinks his prayers have been answered. – Goodreads


Horror/Fiction/YA – read on Kobo Ereader

Writing a good review for this read was a little difficult because I only use my Kobo when I am at the gym during cardio sessions! This should-be quick read probably lasted close to a month for me, but regardless I loved it.

This read has sometimes been referred to as a children’s book, other times a young adult. In my personal opinion, to really grasp the subjects in this book the reader would need to be old or mature enough to understand the pressure placed on a family in circumstances where a family member is sick.

It is hard to give an honest review without spoiling anything, so I will sum it up with saying the reason this book was so great was that it kept the “supernatural” horror alive and real, while simultaneously addressing the natural horrors that can be encountered in life and managed to tie them together. Two forms of horror working as one keeps the reader on edge and curious right up until the very last word, and the fear even continues to linger afterwards.

"But maybe Vanessa was right, and all those other people were broken 
too in their own ways, maybe we all spent too much time pretending
we weren't."

 

The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890) by Oscar Wilde

★★★☆☆ 3/5

Written in his distinctively dazzling manner, Oscar Wilde’s story of a fashionable young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty is the author’s most popular work. The tale of Dorian Gray’s moral disintegration caused a scandal when it first appeared in 1890, but though Wilde was attacked for the novel’s corrupting influence, he responded that there is, in fact, “a terrible moral in Dorian Gray.” Just a few years later, the book and the aesthetic/moral dilemma it presented became issues in the trials occasioned by Wilde’s homosexual liaisons, which resulted in his imprisonment. Of Dorian Gray’s relationship to autobiography, Wilde noted in a letter, “Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry what the world thinks me: Dorian what I would like to be—in other ages, perhaps.” -Goodreads


Classics/Fiction/Horror – can be read in a few days

Written in Old English language, this read was not only entertaining for the story, the brilliant quotes worded beautifully are reason enough to give this book a try. Lord Henry had many wise words about life, I couldn’t even pick a favorite quote.

I was tempted to give it 4 stars, however there was a stretch in the book where I was very confused and missed a significant amount of time. I was still able to understand the general plot of the story, but it did impact my rating of the book. I’m sure if I reread this book I would be able to appreciate it much more.

REGARDLESS – IT IS A MASTERPIECE. 

I definitely had the homosexual vibe from Basil which contributed to the controversy over this book.

In the book Basil keeps emphasizing that he feels he have put too much of himself into the portrait he painted of Dorian, this could be Oscar Wilde’s metaphor for how he has put much of himself into this book when he references that each character is semi autobiographical

“Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.”

"Because to influence a person is to give him one's own soul."
"Youth is one thing worth having."
"Humanity takes itself too seriously. It is the world's original sin. If the
caveman had known had to laugh, History would have been different."

 

 

 

A Man Called Ove (2012) by Fredrik Backman

★★★★☆ 4/5

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations. -Goodreads


Fiction/ <500 Pages / Can be read in about a week 

This book was on the top of my TBR for a very long time, you can imagine my disappointment when I started this book and I didn’t think it was for me – but, I was very wrong.

Ove comes off as a bitter old man, however readers get to learn about what has happened throughout his life and how he feels, and it really influences you to be more open minded when perceiving Ove.

There was such great character development and I fell in love with the story very quickly. One minute I would be crying and the next I would be laughing out loud.

This read was great because it reminds the reader that everyone has a history which has shaped them into who they are today. Ove’s actions and perceptions are heavily based upon the influence of the important people he had in his life.

"Ove feels an instinctive skepticism towards all people taller than one 
eighty-five; the blood can't quite make it all the way up to the brain."

"And she was colour. All the colour he had."