Category Archives: book review

Real Friends by Shannon Hale

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I’m not super “in” when it comes to graphic novels. I do try, but there’s so many that are 50 book series’ that I get bogged down and only like the ones that are standalone. I recently read the first Lumberjanes and it was hilarious. Not super surprising since the author also wrote Nimona and I liked that as well (although my review says otherwise..)

Anyway, Real Friends was quick and stands by itself. It’s a memoir of Shannon Hale’s experience in fourth and fifth grade and what it was like to try and make friends. Real friends. Not those catty girls who don’t really want to play with you but let you sit with them at lunch or are only nice to you because their mom is friends with your mom. I cringed reading some of the things that were said or done to poor Shannon but in hindsight those things were probably also done to me. Growing up is hard y’all.

I liked that at the end Shannon made a decision that a book that was trying to send a positive message might not have made. Shannon told a girl she couldn’t be in her group of friends because she was mean and made her feel bad about herself. In any other book Shannon would go home and have a heart to heart with her mom about how you have to be nice to everyone and she should let the mean girl in her group. But Shannon didn’t talk to her mom and she didn’t go back and change her mind. Everything was not fine with that girl and they did not become life long friends. And I liked that. Because not everyone will be your friend and you don’t have to be friends with everyone, especially if they’re mean to you. That is a positive message too.

Now that I said the thing I like I’m quick going to say the thing I didn’t like. Here it is. Shannon Hale throws Jesus in there at the WEIRDEST times. It makes no sense. Yes, she mentions going to church. But all of a sudden Jesus is sitting with her in a bush as her only friend. It was unnecessary and awkward.

Popsugar Reading Challenge 2017 : a book with pictures

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Filed under 2017, book review, children, graphic novel, non-fiction, Reading Challenge

Saints for All Occassions

It’s a first. I finished a book from Netgalley before its release date! Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan comes out tomorrow, May 9. I could do with a new J. Courtney Sullivan book every two years and so far I’ve gotten my wish. I read another of her books, Maine, in August of 2015 and before that her book Engagements in July of 2013. Quick summary…

“Nora and Theresa Flynn are twenty-one and seventeen when they leave their small village in Ireland and journey to America… Theresa ends up pregnant, Nora is forced to come up with a plan—a decision with repercussions they are both far too young to understand. Fifty years later, Nora is the matriarch of a big Catholic family with four grown children… Estranged from her sister and cut off from the world, Theresa is a cloistered nun, living in an abbey in rural Vermont. Until, after decades of silence, a sudden death forces Nora and Theresa to confront the choices they made so long ago. A graceful, supremely moving novel from one of our most beloved writers, Saints for All Occasions explores the fascinating, funny, and sometimes achingly sad ways a secret at the heart of one family both breaks them and binds them together.”

Saints has multiple points of view and character narratives like her other two that I’ve read and I enjoy this immensely. Multiple POVs for the win y’all. However, Saints also has a past story and a present story which I don’t think the others did. She put the past in seamlessly with the present and it helped accelerate the story and explain the characters more. I loved that it took place in Boston, specifically South Boston and Dorchester, which I’m very familiar with. She talked about Sully’s on Castle Island and Morrissey Boulevard. It makes my heart pitter patter when places I’m familiar with are mentioned in books. I loved the characters. I also love that Sullivan’s books aren’t typically tied up with a bow at the end but still feel satisfying.

Popsugar Reading Challenge 2017 : a book set in two different time periods

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2017 : a book that is set within 100 miles of your location

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American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Oh my friends. I swear they pick books just to hear my reaction. Neil Gaiman is not in my wheelhouse and neither is mythology. I know nothing about mythology, be it Norse or Greek. But my friends chose American Gods and so American Gods I read. The chapters in this book titled Coming to America are all about Gods from mythology (I think) who come to America and the implication is that you know who Gaiman is talking about. I do not. So I think some of that went over my head. I wasn’t in love with the story and I’m not super into mythical things. However, it was original and interesting and I finished. Shadow is a great character and so is Wednesday. I loved them both.

“It is the story of Shadow—released from prison just days after his wife and best friend are killed in an accident—who gets recruited to be bodyguard, driver, and errand boy for the enigmatic trickster, Mr. Wednesday. So begins Shadow’s dark and strange road trip, one that introduces him to a host of eccentric characters whose fates are mysteriously intertwined with his own. For, beneath the placid surface of everyday life, a storm is brewing—an epic war for the very soul of America—and Shadow is standing squarely in its path.”

I will definitely be watching the show – – or at least as many episodes as I’m interested in – – to see how it shakes out. If you’re interested in reading it, it’s a great audiobook with a full cast of character voices. Highly recommended on that front.

Popsugar Reading Challenge 2017 : a bestseller in a genre you don’t normally read and a book based on mythology

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Amina’s Voice

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Amina’s Voice has been reviewed on almost all of the blogs I read. Therefore, I had to read it. I’m glad I did. I liked this book a lot. It was very quick and realistic.

Amina is in middle school and feeling left out when her friend decides she wants to change her name. Her friend has a traditional Chinese name but now that she’s becoming an American citizen she wants to be more “American”. Amina starts to feel self conscious about her name and their friendship when a popular girl is brought in to their two-some. There is a portion at the end of the book surrounded by damage to Amina’s family mosque. I would’ve found this too current events centered had the author not built up the characters so well that it was weaved into the story without banging you over the head. I liked this book and will hand it out in the future.

Popsugar Reading Challenge 2017 : a book with a title that’s a character’s name

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Underground Railroad

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I’ve been resisting this book since I put the galley on my Kindle in August of 2016 (thanks Netgalley!). Books with this amount of hype are never my go-to read. I let it play out while everyone talks about it so I can see if it’s really something I want to invest in. Most times it’s not and I hear everything I need to know through conversation with others. I resisted when Oprah made it her book club choice but could not resist again when it won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

So I read it. I heard it was gruesome, and parts of it were. But then a friend asked me if it was worse than A Little Life and I chuckled to myself. Y’all, nothing will ever be worse than A Little Life. Nothing.

The Underground Railroad follows Cora, a slave in Georgia on the Randall plantation, as she makes her way off the plantation and navigates her life after leaving. She escapes. She does. But what does she escape? Not slavery, that’s for sure. The book alludes to this depressing quality multiple times. She moves from one set of chains to another despite her relocation to the North. I enjoyed this new perspective on the slave narrative. Another friend was saying that most slave books end after they’ve escaped and that’s it. Everything is great once you’re off the plantation and in the North, right? Definitely not true, and I appreciate that this novel continues that story for us to see. I also appreciated that the mystic / surreal quality of the railroad was not overdone (in the book the underground railroad is a literal railroad underground). I was thinking to myself after finishing it that if you didn’t finish school or paid zero attention in history you might actually think this is how the underground railroad worked. It’s a book that should definitely be read but not necessarily one I would tell you to buy / borrow immediately.

Modern Mrs Darcy Reading Challenge 2017 : a Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award winner

Popsugar Reading Challenge 2017 : a book with a red spine

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Filed under 2017, adult, award winners, best lists, book club, book review, current news, fiction, Reading Challenge

The Lotterys Plus One

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I loved Emma Donoghue’s book, Room. It also turned into a great movie, Brie Larson even won best actress. Donoghue did such a great job writing as a young child in Room that when I heard she was writing a juvenile novel it seemed like a great idea. I was on board.

Unfortunately, I just finished it and I think she tried to cram too many things into one book. I don’t like when novels put in a secondary LGBT character or a diverse character as if they’re trying to cross off some list of what their book needs in order to sell. It felt to me like this is what Donoghue was trying to do. She had : four gay parents, a child who was a girl but wanted to be called a boy (yet she used the girl pronoun throughout the whole book), a child who had shaken baby syndrome (?), a grandfather with dementia.. and the list goes on. I also thought some of the language was confusing. She made up her own words for this particular family. For example, one kid hears someone say excellent and thinks they said egg salad. So for the rest of the book egg salad is used in replacement for excellent. Or they have a spare room upstairs, but they call it spare oom. Why? There are a lot of characters as well. Toooo much. Too many. I didn’t care for it as a whole but was at least interested enough to finish.

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Rich People Problems

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I received Rich People Problems via Netgalley on digital arc. I love these books so much I believe I danced around the room when my copy request was accepted. It is the third (I hope not final) book in the Crazy Rich Asians series which started with book one, Crazy Rich Asians. This book followed Nick and Rachel on their way to the altar. Rachel had no idea her boyfriend Nick was one of the richest men in Asia. When she goes to meet his family she realizes she is in for a whole new world and it is not a world that wants her involved. Book two, China Rich Girlfriend, was not my favorite. Nick and Rachel were no longer the main characters, and we heard a lot from Kitty Pong. Kitty is more of a main character in this third book as well, and although I hate her less, she’s still not my favorite. Nick and Rachel are rarely present, so if you love them be aware. Astrid has more of a play, like she did in book two. Because of the multiple POVs, which I always love in books, I can’t say there really is a main character unless you count Su Li. I don’t want to tell you much of what happens because the central plot is based around a spoiler.

I loved the conclusion and hope to see these wonderful characters again. It did wrap up nicely, but I felt that way about the others as well, so hopefully the stories will continue.

Popsugar Reading Challenge 2017 : a book that’s been on your TBR list for way too long

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Filed under 2017, adult, book review, ebooks, fiction, Reading Challenge