Be omnivorous, don't just read one kind of book, read everything. - Richard Wagamese

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Publisher: MacMillan
Pages: 445
Released: 2013
Source: Personal  Copy
Rating: 5/5

Cath and her twin sister Wren are starting college, and Cath can’t believe that her twin sister doesn’t want to be her roommate in the dorms. Cath is an introvert; she suffers from anxiety and can’t believe her sister is ditching her.  When they get to college, Wren even further distances herself from Cath and Cath is a little scared of her roommate. She doesn’t know where the dining hall is and doesn’t really want to find out. She has peanut butter and protein bars stashed under her bed.  Wren seems to be partying all the time, and Cath just keeps her distance and lets her be. Cath enjoys writing, and school, but her passion is fanfiction, Simon Snow fanfiction to be precise. Online she has a huge following, and Cath has no problem writing in her free time. However, college really begins to unlock Cath. We see her grow and face her fears.

I don’t want to give too much away about this book. I know a lot of people have reviewed it and loved it. I had no clue what fanfiction was before this book. Fanfiction is basically when you take the characters from one book, and you create a new story for them or continue their story. Rowell includes snippets of Cath’s fanfiction, and I found them enjoyable reads as well. Cath is a relatable character. I identified more with Cath than Wren. I was never the partier…

I loved the supporting characters in the book. The romance was also captivating in a realistic way. Rainbow Rowell is a great new-to-me author. I did read Eleanor & Park but never reviewed it. It was another 5 star book for me.  From the two books that I’ve read, she deals with heavy subjects but makes them enjoyable and relatable. This book deals with anxiety, family issues, mother abandonment and mental health. It really is a great coming of age story. If you've read any of her books, let me know what you thought.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Review: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 298
Released: 2014
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

Everything I Never Told You is a heartbreaking and heavy story that will capture your attention and keeping you reading. The story opens with readers learning that Lydia is dead, and no one knows it yet. We soon learn about the parent’s: James and Marilyn. James Lee is an American-born Chinese professor who always felt left out. In his school he was the only Chinese boy, deeply embarrassed that his parents worked at his school. His wife Marilyn, blue-eyed and blond was the first girl who paid him any attention. She was a student, and him a professor at the time. Marilyn was a star student, who dreamed of medical school, a young woman who was determined not to become her mother- a housewife. When Marilyn became pregnant, and married James, she dropped out of school to raise her family. Before she knew it, Marilyn had two children, and school didn’t seem like an option anymore. She put all her hopes in dreams into her daughter Lydia, who secretly couldn’t keep up. Nath reminded James too much of himself, and Hannah was the forgotten child

Lack of communication is the heart of this story. Unknowingly, the parents don’t realize that their insecurities shape and mold their children. Lydia pretends to talk to friends on the phone because her father wants her to be popular. Nath wants to get into Harvard because he wants his father’s approval; Hannah just tries to stay out of everyone’s way.

Everything I Never Told You opens up with Lydia’s death and from there moves forward and backwards through time, giving readers a sense of the world and unhappy lifestyle that each character is living. James and Marilyn were never able to let go of the past, they couldn’t appreciate what was in front of them. Learning that Lydia was the favorite child was so hard for me to understand. Lydia really was set up to fail, and her parents had no clue.  Honestly, the three children were set up to fail.

I highly recommend this one. The characters are so well developed and complex. It’s amazing that this is Celeste Ng’s debut novel. I can’t wait for more. I couldn’t wait to review this one, but at the same time I wanted to take some time. The characters are not likable, you’ll want to scream at them and ask them how they live like this. The core of the story is what will stay with you, and keep you interested

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Review: The Game Changer by Marie Landry

Publisher:  Amazon Digital
Pages: 295
Published: 2012
Source: Personal Ebook
Rating: 4/5

The Game Changer by Marie Landry was an enjoyable read. It’s a story about relationships and life changes. Melody Cartwright lives in a small town in Ontario, she’s in her late twenties and expecting a proposal from her boyfriend. She’s hoping sooner rather than later. When she is finally faced with the fact that her boyfriend hasn’t even considered marriage after three years of dating, Melody decides that it’s over. Melody needs a change, and it’s now or never. When her best friend, Olivia decides that she wants to move back home, Melody insists that they become roommates. Together they force each other to come out of their shell, face some hard choices, and explore new romances.

While this is a romance story, there’s more dynamics to the story. First the romance, Melody meets Julian, a man who seems out of her league and not her type. She doesn’t want to be interested in him but he insists that they become friends. Olivia on the other hand might finally have found someone who is relationship material. Melody and Olivia’s have been best friends since they were children. They know each other so well, and can tell when one is trying to run away. Together they face these new relationships and help each other out.

Some of the other aspects of the story include Melody’s family life. Melody’s mother has become the primary guardian to her granddaughter, and Melody isn’t sure where she stands with her niece, afraid to overwhelm her or disappoint her. We also learn that Olivia’s mother has less than desirable parenting skills, and Olivia needs to learn that she’s an adult and needs to leave her mother be. She’s the only person who can determine what’s she’s capable of.

I really enjoyed this one. I thought it was a fun read, and I loved the relationship between Melody and Olivia was great. Everyone should have a best friend that knows them inside and out. I loved that Marie Landry is a Canadian author, and would recommend this book. It’s a fast read. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Review: Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Publisher: Algonquin Books
Released: 2003
Pages: 307
Source: Personal Read
Rating: 4/5

Fifteen-year-old Kambili and her older brother seem to live in a world of luxury in Nigeria.  Their father, a self-made man found Catholicism and devoted his life to the religion. He’s a wealthy man, but in actuality, he is a religious fanatic who shelters and controls his families every move. Kambili and Jaja have their daily lives scheduled for them, and they must never deviate from his plan. When political unrest sends Nigeria into a military coup, the family is threatened and their father sends them to live with his sister who lives a very different life.
Kambili and Jaja live in a very abusive household, both physically and mentally. I really felt for Kambili, she begins the novel truly worshiping her father. She sees him as a respected man, a man who has all the answers and just wants to make him proud. When she ranks second in her class, her father beats her because his children must be the best.  In her mind she accepts the pain and feels it is her fault. Her brother is a little more independent but has nowhere to do.  It’s either obey, or suffer the circumstances. Their own mother is a victim, she’s helpless and treats her children’s wounds the best she can.

Adichie writes a beautiful coming of age story, filled with abuse, breaking free and forgiveness. Kambili’s father is a monster, but he’s like that for a reason. He truly believes what he is doing is right. His perception of his religion blinds him. He loves his family, but can’t separate himself from what he thinks a good Christian should be. He’s a dictator in his household but he gives generously to the community and his church, everyone showers him with compliments. Kambili loves her father, and her love never falters for her father clearly depicting a grey area, not every relationship is black or white.

This is an amazing debut novel, and I’m so glad that I read it. I’m really trying to read back-list titles, and not just the new releases. I kept hearing about Americanah and decided to start with this one instead. Americanah is on my tbr list, but so is all her other titles. Purple Hibiscus is a valuable novel about Nigerian culture, religion, and character growth. I highly recommend this one.