Book Review: Everything I Never Told You

Title: Everything I Never Told You

Author: Celeste Ng

Format: Paperback

Published: 2014

 

I came across this book thanks to eBay.  Living in Las Vegas I miss out on Mom & Pop bookstores and nothing beats browsing a good used book store, so I resort to doing this digitally.  Although after I purchased this book I noticed a new, used store opened up a few miles away from me, so I will have to check them out!

This book starts off with saying Lydia is dead, but they don’t know it yet.  Ok, I’m in.  The teenage daughter in this family of 5 goes missing and is eventually found after a few days, dead.  This book goes into secrets within a family that they have never told each other.  The secrets have been keeping the family together (unhappily) and then tear them apart when they start to become told.

This book also tackles the subject of mixed relationships in a time where they were looked down upon.  The wife is a white woman and the husband is Chinese. They have three children; Nathan, Lydia, and Hannah.  The amount of secrets and feelings this family hides from each other is unreal.  I just want to take everyone and put them in therapy so they talk to each other!

The book takes us on a journey where all the secrets are pieced together to understand everyone’s actions and reactions.  Many of the family members assumed family members felt a certain way and that is what led them to do the things they did.  In the end once everyone grasps the fact that Lydia died, they start to turn around.  It unfortunately took a death to turn it that way.

We get an insight on a struggling family who not only is dealing with being “different” from everyone else, but, having the same issues that many American families tend to have.  The secrets have been causing pain to the individual who has kept them, and then once they are told they cause pain to others.

In the beginning of the book I was hooked.  My interest started to wane.  I kept reading because I was invested and was curious to know how she died.  The chapters went on forever (in the 292 pages there are only 12 chapters).  This is not a book you can pick up quickly and read a chapter or two at a time; you need to make sure you have dedicated time to read a chapter.  I felt forced to continue to read this book until the end when my interest picked back up.  You start to see the family come together instead of being lonely and apart and I had been screaming for that the entire time.  I am happy that Ng lets us know exactly how Lydia dies in the end of the book.  There would have been a huge void without it.

Overall, I give this book a 3.  I forgot a lot of the middle part of the book which highlighted the past of the parents which they swore they would never bring up.  Side note: bring them up in your own relationship or you’ll end up like this family in which it had to take a tragedy to truly bring them together. If you have read this book let me know your thoughts, it received high praise from The New York Times, I just did not have the same opinion as them.  Next week I will be reviewing an advance copy of It Ends With Her by Brianna Labuskes thanks to Amazon First Reads!  Catch you next Thursday!

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Book Review: The Buried Book

Title: The Buried Book

Author: D. M. Pulley

Format: Kindle

Published: 2016

This is another read thanks to Amazon Prime Reading.  As soon as I finished this book I immediately put her two other books onto my Amazon wish list and plan on reading them soon.  This book is out of my typical genre in the historical fiction category but I am so glad I decided to branch out and read this book!

A mother, Althea Leary, drops her nine-year-old son with her brother on his farm.  All she tells her son, Jasper, is that they are going for a drive.  When they arrive at the farm she pulls out a suitcase and it surprises Jasper because he had not packed anything.  She takes off and Jasper is left at the farm.

Throughout this book I just feel so terrible for this poor little boy.  His life gets turned upside down and he is trying to figure it out.  The author does a tremendous job at portraying the viewpoint of everything happening to a nine-year-old.  This was a page turner and I wanted to find out what was happening.

Jasper’s dad comes and visits him at the farm and no one has seen his mother.  She has disappeared.  Detectives start to visit and ask questions.  Her car was found buried under tree branches, everyone is assuming she’s gone for good.

If you go off of her background, she was seen as the bad apple in her family.  She ran away from home and wasn’t worth a dime.  Pulley does a great job at making us feel like Althea was one of those bad people and hung with the wrong crowd.  Jasper starts to uncover the person her mother truly is and how it unfolds keeps you turning the pages.

While reading this book it felt like I was right where it was set; in 1950 just outside of Detroit in farm country.  There is a Native American Reservation nearby and that integration into this story was remarkable.  It felt like I was on the farm watching everything unfold.  The amount of research that Pulley had to do for this book shows and is just written so appropriately well.

The ending left me happy, sad, and mad.  When you get to the end the short quotes at the start of each chapter make perfect sense, and that angered me.  The person gets dismissed as crazy when they are truly not.  They are a soul who is misunderstood and just wants to help.  I was happy for the family and sad at the same time.  Pick up this book and you’ll understand every emotion.  Even though I felt happy, sad, and mad, I also felt satisfied.

Overall, I give this book a 5.  It was a great mystery that I could not predict.  There were many turns and twists and it kept me turning the pages nonstop.  I appreciated how the story progressed and how we found out bits and pieces through the findings of this poor nine-year-old boy.  Go ahead and give this a read and then come back and let me know what you think!  Next week I will be reviewing a Celesta Ng novel so stay tuned!

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Book Review: The Wife Between Us

Title: The Wife Between Us

Authors: Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

Format: Paperback, Advance Reader’s Edition

Published: 2018

 

5 stars.  This book is an absolute 5-star book.  The only thing I regret with this book is not reading it sooner.  My apologies go out to St. Martin’s Press as I received this book as an advance reader’s edition and I failed to read it before it hit the stores.  Do not be like me and get this book into your hands NOW!

I don’t quite know where to begin with this review because I do not want to give ANYTHING away.  As you start reading, you think you’re reading about a crazy, obsessed ex-wife.  Then page 139 with chapter 18 happens.  I had to re-read this chapter to make sure I understood what just happened.  The words, “What the &%$#” came out of my mouth out loud and my husband had to come check on me.

I truly could not see the multiple twists and turns coming.  Hendricks & Pekkanen do an amazing job at story-telling and bend the rules.  It still has me in a little bit of shock trying to figure out how I could not see anything coming.  I thought chapter 18 was mind bending, the end of the book really blew my mind.  A complete, out of left field double whammy ending.

You think you know what is going on in this book but you really do not.  Once I hit page 139 I could not put this book down.  It absolutely is one of the best psychological thrillers I have read.  In fact, up until page 139 I kept thinking people were crazy to have given this book such raving reviews for the twists and turns.  Oh boy, it twists and turns you through a crazy relationship.

This is on the top of my list of highly recommend you read books.  If you see this book, pick it up.  It truly tells a story that you do not see coming.  Rumor has it, movie rights to the book were purchased before it was even released to the public.  Do not miss this read!  PLEASE let me know if you read this book and what you think!  If you have already read this, let me know what you thought too!  Tune in next week as I review The Buried Book by D. M. Pulley.

Book Review: Crazy Stupid Money

Title: Crazy Stupid Money

Author: Rachel Shukert

Format: Kindle Single

Published: 2015

Here is an honest insight into a relationship which covers the taboo subject of money.  Rachel Shukert makes a very valid point when she says we have no qualms talking about sex, kids, health, and relationships, however, we very rarely ever talk about money.  She takes the subject of money head on and chronicles what it did to her real-life relationship.

Her husband was the bread winner of the family.  Shukert made minimal amounts of money writing and freelancing, always saying one day she would make it big.  One day her husband decides to quit his job making her the bread winner.  She starts to develop anxiety over money and gets obsessive over every cent that leaves her account.

This short story details how the relationship shifted.  There were unspoken roles that now suddenly changed and she could not cope with this.  The relationship became tumultuous.  Neighbors would call the police when they fought.  Plates were thrown.  The marriage was being pushed to its breaking point.

This book covers the taboo subject of money so well.  It really makes you think, “money is the root of all evil.”  I appreciated that Shukert did not hold back and was vulnerable in telling her story.  I cringed, I laughed, I held my breath, and I hoped that her story, her true, real life story, could turn out ok and that money did not ruin it.  I hope you decide to read this Kindle Single so you can see how her life turns out.

I am rating this book a solid 4.  It is 45 pages long and takes only about an hour to read.  It is a great read if you need something to pass the time (plane ride, train ride, waiting in a doctor’s office, etc).  Very insightful on how relationships can be destroyed or made strong by such a simple aspect of money.  Tune in next Thursday when I review The Wife Between Us!

Book Review: Neighborly

Title: Neighborly

Author: Ellie Monago

Format: eBook

Published: 2018

 

I just discovered that if one subscribes to Amazon Prime that you have access to free books within the Amazon Kindle app under the prime reading category.  I have never read an eBook so I wanted to take a stab at it.  I actually did not mind reading it and found it convenient to carry around this book with me wherever I went. So for my first stab at e-reading, I chose Neighborly (because who doesn’t become intrigued when they see a grill on fire on the cover).

I was drawn in to this book thanks to our protagonist Kat.  Her and her husband have scored a house (albeit the smallest) in the Trans-Urban world of the “AV” (Aurora Village).  This is one of the most highly sought after neighborhoods and they were one of the lucky ones to be moving in.

They throw a huge welcome party and Kat, her husband Doug, and baby get to meet everyone on the block.  On her way in to take a break from the party and feed her baby she finds a note on her doorstep which is semi-threatening in nature.  This is where I really got in to the book; someone does not want them there, so who is it and why?

Kat gets invited to a girl’s night and subsequently a second girl’s night.  There is where the book started to lose me.  The block has a list.  The block apparently encourages and enjoys sexual partners outside of their marriages.  They keep the list a secret and let you know who may be interested and you go from there.  Kat was propositioned to join.  Mind you, the sexual aspect of this book was very vanilla, but also very farfetched and seemingly came out of left field.

The notes are still going on and now she must deal with how to bring this up to her husband, if she does at all.  Mind you, she makes her marriage into a train wreck of a relationship.  Scratch that, she herself is just a plain train wreck.  The fact that I was about two-thirds in to this book is the reason why I kept going.

Now she starts to get threatening e-mails on top of notes and her daughter suddenly becomes catastrophically ill.  They end up in the hospital and this is where her past starts to tie together with the present.  Her daughter gets released from the hospital and Kat finally figures out who has been sending the notes and why so she confronts this person during a night out.

This was the worst part of the book.  The issue gets resolved within about five minutes.  There’s a huge fight and people apologize.  It was very unrealistic as this has been an issue for YEARS and within two minutes this person just suddenly forgives.

Overall, I give this book a 2.  If you happen to stumble across it, just know you were warned.  Are you reading anything through Amazon Kindle Prime Reading?  If so let me know what books I should be checking out in the comments!  Next week I will be reviewing a Kindle Single so stay tuned!

Book Review: Where We Belong

Title: Where We Belong

Author: Emily Giffin

Format: Paperback

Published: 2012

 

I stumbled across this book at a consignment shop and the brief description on the book jacket immediately peaked my interest.  I am so glad that I picked this book up.  The one thing that I cannot believe is how this book was not made into a big, glamorous Hollywood movie!

This book is told by 2 people, Marian Caldwell, successful television producer living in glitzy Manhattan, and Kirby Rose, an eighteen-year-old girl who is graduating high school from a small Midwestern town in Missouri.  It alternates them telling the story so we can see things from both perspectives.  A few times I would have to recheck the name at the start of the chapter but it is easy to follow along with.

Marian Caldwell has kept a secret for eighteen long years.  One night her secret she never told anyone, except her mother, knocks on her door.  Surprise!  Marian fell pregnant during the summer after she graduated high school.  She went into hiding with the help of her mother and made the decision to place her daughter up for adoption…without ever mentioning she was pregnant to the baby’s father.

This book made me very emotional.  I cried throughout it.  I felt passion and raw emotion along the way.  As a mother, there is nothing I love more in life than my children.  Emily Giffin penned a remarkable story in which I felt all of Marian’s feelings and ached for her.  While she made the right decision, it was a very difficult decision and living through Marian and Kirby’s story I could feel it.  This book made me call my mother just to tell her I love her.

Kirby first finds her birth mother by lying to her parents and taking a Greyhound bus from Missouri to New York City.  Marian is navigating her way through a relationship she wants much more out of and now must drop this bombshell on her boyfriend (who also happens to be her boss).  Now Marian also must find the whereabouts of the man who’s heart she broke eighteen years ago when she just left.  As much as she does not want to find him or see him, she needs to do it for Kirby’s sake.

It was so interesting and fun to see the similarities between Kirby with both her birth parents and adoptive ones.  Kirby’s life almost echoes Marian’s in a certain way that she marches to the beat of her own drum.  The ending shocked me.  It left me stunned with my jaw hitting the floor.  When I reflect on how the book ends, it is the most realistic ending.  This is what makes the book so appealing, it is so real.  I found it heartwarming to see both Kirby and Marian end up where they belong.

So until a big Hollywood producers turns this into a movie or a sequel pops up, I will imagine this story past the last few words of this book.  It is hard not to!  The book also offers 23 thought provoking questions at the end for you to use in a reading group, if that is your cup of tea.

Overall this book gets a solid 4 rating from me.  It was hard not to go with a 5.  You know what, if you are a mother then this gets a 5 rating for you.  I feel that all mothers will feel this book tug a little more at their heartstrings.  I would like to note that I read this book in less than 2 days, it was that interesting.  I had to know where the story went and how it ended.  It kept my attention and I plan on reading more from Ms. Giffin.  If you come across this book you MUST read it!  I promise you will not regret it!

Book Review – The Woman In Cabin 10

Title: The Woman In Cabin 10
Author: Ruth Ware
Format: Hardback
Published: 2017

“You’re going on a cruise right? I have a book for you to read!” That is exactly how The Woman In Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware fell into my lap.  This book was suspenseful and kept me guessing with most every turn of the page.

Follow along as Lo Blacklock, the book’s protagonist, takes a journey on a private cruise ship for work.  She is neurotic, has a borderline drinking problem, and one starts to think she’s just crazy and imagining everything.  Fair warning right now, if you’re not a fan of cursing, do not pick this book up.

She falls victim to a home invasion in England and debates about taking the journalism job for her magazine.  Her boss is pregnant and cannot go so she sees this as her big break and goes anyway.  This plays a huge part as she keeps reliving this break in and drinks to try and forget it.

So our journey on the ship starts around a murder that Ms. Blacklock thinks she witnessed.  We settle in to the journey and then the book gets stale.  It’s her drinking, hung over, and drinking again.  She starts to tell her secrets of what she thinks she saw and heard to a few guests and crew and you get the feeling that maybe this book is taking one on a wild goose chase.  No one believes her and everyone seems to tell her a guest she is certain she saw was never on the ship at all.

The author also mixes in a little romance with her boyfriend she left at home and an ex-boyfriend who happens to be cruising with her.  Do not get too excited over this, it’s a very small part in the storyline.  I almost feel like it was put in to add some fluff and increase the number of pages.  Her relationship with her boyfriend almost becomes an annoyance where I want to yell at her, “shit or get off the pot!” She would be that friend that is always Debbie Downer and you would cringe when she would call you with her problems.  While there was some lack in the middle of the story I was hooked enough in the beginning to follow through with finishing the book.

We reach a point where finally, some action!  Lo becomes trapped and we find out whether or not she’s crazy.  Was there a murder?  Did she really see a guest everyone claimed was never on board?  All these questions get answered.  The pace at the end of the book moves fast.  There’s action and I was left on the edge of my seat, anxiously turning the next page to see how things would turn out.

The end of the book brings everything together and it all makes sense.  It answers any and all questions you could possibly have had at the beginning of the book.  Overall, this book was well written and while it gets stale in the middle, the beginning and the end make up for it.  I will leave it with a rating of 3.5, I could see how this book could not be interesting to some and then all enthralling to others.  If you pick this book up let me know what you think!

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