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."

IT Movie Adaptations

I would be very surprised if you have not already read some form of post based on the IT movie adaptation(s), especially recently with the newer release.

I recently read IT by Stephen King in preparation for the new movie release – I also watched the 1990 version before the new one.

2017 > 1990

It was hard for me to enjoy the 1990 adaptation because for one I cannot seem to enjoy old movies, however in saying that, the 1990 adaptation was still well done and I did enjoy watching it. For me, the 1990 version was basically just a way to present Stephen King’s work visually. It very closely followed the book, however it was not scary to me.

It’s hard to compare the two movies because they are two very different interpretations of Stephen King’s work.

The 2017 adaptation, in my opinion, was a masterpiece. Here’s why:

Pennywise

As soon as I heard Bill Skarsgård was playing Pennywise I knew he would be amazing. Bill starred in the TV series Hemlock Grove. That show was extremely weird and creative and Bill fit in perfectly, just like he did in IT. 2017 Pennywise was absolutely terrifying when he needed to be, and strange and mysterious when that was required. Bill portrayed the Pennywise I imagined because he uses the clown identity to enforce fear itself.

Characters

Let me just start with that the children actors were absolutely amazing. They also fit their characters perfectly.

Bill – the stuttering sounded genuine and his emotions were easily told from his expressions and seemed sincere which was key for his character since the bulk of him is his love for Georgie and the guilt he feels.

Eddie – the hypochondriac aspect is key for this character and is played very well. He was also hilarious which made him so much better. His mother also played a pretty significant role in the movie which was important for his character development.

Beverly – the actress was amazing, she had a tough persona with a dark backstory that she well portrayed through her actions and emotions in certain scenes (I’m really trying not to create any spoilers)

Ben – I loved Ben. He is so sweet and smart and is essential to the team when they are trying to figure out what haunts Derry. The New Kids on the Block jokes were hilarious.

Mike – I enjoyed Mike as well, but I feel we didn’t get too in depth with his character. Mike plays a huge role in the books so I hope to see this represented in part 2.

Stan – I think Stan’s character was very well portrayed because he always held back and was more hesitant and less invested as the others which is key in his future character development.

Richie – the best character in that movie no doubt. Richie was a little annoying in the books because you had to read paragraphs to pages of his rambling, but this comedic character was essential in the movie and I laughed out loud at everything he said.

Overall, the kids were very well represented – they exceeded my expectations for sure.

Overall

I am very happy that I decided to read the book first because I think it made the movie that much more enjoyable for me. This movie did not follow the book scene by scene or detail by detail, however even with the twists made in the adaptation they preserved elements of the book by the little details seen in many of the scenes. Some of these details you can read about in this article by Buzzfeed (spoilers)

This is definitely in my top 3 movies of all time. It was planned out so well, the horror started right away and I was scared the whole time. There were no unnecessary scenes or slow parts.

Honestly, I was nervous to see the movie because how would I feel if it went badly? Thankfully, it exceeded my expectations.

I hope everyone watches this movie, it was enjoyable, creative, and scary. I am still having nightmares (worth it).

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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."