ARC Review: Dear Edward (Ann Napolitano)

45294613Genre: Fiction
Publisher:
The Dial Press
Publication Date: January 6th 2020
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: Times Reads
Page Count: 336

Blurb from Goodreads:

Inspired by a true story of one child’s incredible survival–riveting, uplifting, unforgettable.

After losing everything, a young boy discovers there are still reasons for hope in this luminous, life-affirming novel, perfect for fans of Celeste Ng and Ann Patchett.

In the face of tragedy, what does it take to find joy?

One summer morning, twelve-year-old Edward Adler, his beloved older brother, his parents, and 183 other passengers board a flight in Newark headed for Los Angeles. Among them is a Wall Street wunderkind, a young woman coming to terms with an unexpected pregnancy, an injured vet returning from Afghanistan, a septuagenarian business tycoon, and a free-spirited woman running away from her controlling husband. And then, tragically, the plane crashes. Edward is the sole survivor.

Edward’s story captures the attention of the nation, but he struggles to find a place for himself in a world without his family. He continues to feel that a piece of him has been left in the sky, forever tied to the plane and all of his fellow passengers. But then he makes an unexpected discovery–one that will lead him to the answers of some of life’s most profound questions: When you’ve lost everything, how do find yourself? How do you discover your purpose? What does it mean not just to survive, but to truly live?

Dear Edward is at once a transcendent coming-of-age story, a multidimensional portrait of an unforgettable cast of characters, and a breathtaking illustration of all the ways a broken heart learns to love again.


RATING

4 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I am definitely drawn into this novel’s “sole survivor of a plane crash” plot line and I am even more interested to read it when it says the book is for fans of Celeste Ng.

Dear Edward starts with Edward and his family board a flight in Newark headed to Los Angeles. After that, the book continues with alternate chapters in the present and past during the duration of the flight. In the present chapters, we see how Edward and his close relatives handle the grief and situation while in the past chapters, stories are told from the perspective of the other 183 passengers in the flight.

It is somehow tough to both read and review this book, mainly because it’s a story where so much and so little happens at the same time. The book has a slow pace but the story is enough to make me interested to turn the pages.

What I love about the book is that Dear Edward is a realistically character-driven and emotion-led story. I truly appreciate the time that the author has taken to invest in Edward’s coming-of-age story from someone who has lost everything to a person who can let go of the past and move on. It’s not a walk in the park story as the book truly delves into the vastness of sadness and grief of losing your loved ones and how to continue living. Grief can hit the core of not only to the person who is deeply affected, but to the families as well. We see how it is not easy for Edward’s aunt and uncle to accept the fact that he is an orphan and won’t be able to see his parents again. However, they still put a brave face and try to be the best person that they could be for Edward.

As rare as Edward’s situation is, we can always find something to relate here. At some point of our lives, we all face grief and loss that changes on how we view life. When we face those issues, we always want to find answers that can solve the problems. However in reality, there are no easy answers on how we can decode them. That’s what Dear Edward tells. Edward also undergoes the journey of growth and recovery, something that is not easy as it sounds. He finds comfort in being with people who truly care for him like Shay and Principal Arundhi. It shows that people around him are also responsible for his recovery.

Overall, a wonderful story on the exploration and journey of grief and recovery.

When there’s life, there’s hope.

Special thanks to Times Reads for sending me an ARC of Dear Edward.

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Sabrina

ARC Review: Such a Fun Age (Kiley Reid)

43923951.jpgGenre: Fiction
Publisher:
G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publication Date: December 31st 2019
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: Times Reads
Page Count: 305

Blurb from Goodreads:

A striking and surprising debut novel from an exhilarating new voice, Such a Fun Age is a page-turning and big-hearted story about race and privilege, set around a young black babysitter, her well-intentioned employer, and a surprising connection that threatens to undo them both.

Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living showing other women how to do the same. A mother to two small girls, she started out as a blogger and has quickly built herself into a confidence-driven brand. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains’ toddler one night. Seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, a security guard at their local high-end supermarket accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old Briar. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make it right.

But Emira herself is aimless, broke, and wary of Alix’s desire to help. At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life. When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix’s past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other.

With empathy and piercing social commentary, Such a Fun Age explores the stickiness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone “family,” the complicated reality of being a grown up, and the consequences of doing the right thing for the wrong reason.


RATING

4.5 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

When you take a look at the cover of Such a Fun Age, you may think that this is a light and fun read. Once you’ve read the book, you know it is far from light. Now you know that book covers can be very deceiving. This book blow my mind, in the best way.

This is one of those story which sucks you in because Kiley Reid writes it to become so compulsively readable. Such a Fun Age is an engaging contemporary full of nuances. It is also a modern coming of age story of Emira Tucker who is figuring out on what to do after graduating. She has no plans whatsoever but for the time being, she settles for babysitting for the Chamberlains.

I love the themes of the book which discusses on hard topics such as race, privilege, white savior complex, transactional relationships and fetishism. I appreciate it when the author explains the issues with a different approach from most books out there which tells about racism and bias. The story uses social commentary as a way to explore problems on race and class, which is surprisingly enjoyable and realistic at the same time. You will feel uncomfortable reading about those issues because it is meant to make you feel uncomfortable. It makes you feel and think like you’re in their shoes.

The characters are not just well-developed, but they are written to be three dimensional human beings with empathy and feelings. The book is written from two perspectives, Emira and Alix. We can see how the author takes the time to craft these two characters to be whole yet multifaceted that we can truly perceive their behavioral, emotional, thinking process and motivations.

I honestly expect that this book will take a darker turn since topics like this can be very terrifying to read. However, the author shows more subtle ways for readers to comprehend. By that, the message that the author wants to convey to readers can be more hard-hitting.

Not only does the book explores about race and privilege, it brings back the harsh reality that being in your 20s can be frustrating at some point. While reading, I really take the time to reassess my life, for what have I done to make sure I’m in the right path etc. That is why this book is close to my heart because I empathize on Emira’s situation so much.

The only reason why I don’t rate this book five stars is because of the anticlimactic ending. I hope for a clearer ending for Alix and her family because we don’t get much of them at the last part of the story.

I am glad that I choose this book as my Christmas read. I devour it in less than a day because it is THAT brilliant. I cannot wait for people to read this spectacular debut. Kiley Reid is a genius.

Special thanks to Times Reads for sending me an ARC of Such a Fun Age.

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Sabrina

Review: The Ruinous Sweep (Tim Wynne-Jones)

43679845.jpgGenre: Adult Mystery
Publisher:
Candlewick Press
Publication Date: September 10th 2019
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 400

Blurb from Goodreads:

A rainy night. An empty highway. And no memory. From award-winning author Tim Wynne-Jones comes a riveting murder mystery that will keep readers enthralled until the last page.

On the night Donovan Turner is thrown out of a car on a highway in the middle of nowhere, he can barely remember his own name, let alone the past twenty-four hours. Where is he? Where is his girlfriend, Bee? In an attempt to flag down the next passing car, he startles the driver, causing a fatal accident. With sirens in the distance and the lingering feeling that he’s running from something — or someone — Donovan grabs the dead driver’s briefcase and flees. Meanwhile, Bee is fighting for Dono’s life every bit as much as he is. But when the police show up and hint that he is the prime suspect in a murder, Bee is determined to put together the pieces of what happened and clear his name. With echoes of Dante’s Divine Comedy, this harrowing journey through hell and back is a page-turning tale of guilt, retribution, love, and redemption.


RATING

2 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

To be honest, I went through this book with such low expectations and sadly, this book didn’t even exceed the threshold of my expectation level.

Everything in this book was confusing. I really wanted to like it. I gave so many chances because I didn’t want to miss the chance to read a book written by Tim Wynne-Jones. I was near to ditching this book because I didn’t to make myself suffer. The first few pages were enough to make me hooked with the story but after reading 100 pages, I felt like the plot and writing to be so complex and messy that I failed to even get a grasp of what this book was all about. If you were to ask me to explain the general plot of this story, I surely wouldn’t be able to. There were so many characters mentioned that I lost interest to care for them.

The only part that I enjoyed reading was Bee’s adventure in identifying the mystery behind her boyfriend’s death. However, I found the ending to be very perplexing. To make myself clear with the ending, I read reviews on the internet. It turned out that this book contained supernatural elements which was not surprising since the ending was rather peculiar. This was something that I would not have expected before picking up the book.

Based on people’s review, this book seemed like a hit or miss story. Some will love this but some will hate this. Sadly, it wasn’t a story for me.

Thank you Pansing Books for sending me a copy of The Ruinous Sweep.

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Sabrina

ARC Review: The Giver of Stars (Jojo Moyes)

44169269._SY475_.jpgGenre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Publication Date: October 3rd 2019
Format: Paperback
Source: Times Reads
Page Count: 435

Blurb from Goodreads:

Inspired by a remarkable true story, the unforgettable journey of five extraordinary women living in extraordinary and perilous times.

Alice Wright has traveled halfway across the world to escape her stifling life in England. Handsome American businessman Bennett Van Cleve represents a fresh start. But she soon realizes that swapping the twitching curtains of suburbia for newlywed life in the wild mountains of Kentucky isn’t the answer to her prayers. But maybe meeting Margery O’Hara is. The heart and backbone of the small community of Salt Lick, a woman who isn’t afraid of anything or anyone, Margery is on a mission.

Enlisting Alice, along with three other women, all from very different backgrounds, to join her, the band of unlikely sisters battle the elements and unforgiving terrain – as well as brave all manner of dangers and social disapproval – to ride hundreds of miles a week to deliver books to isolated families. Transforming the lives of so many is all the impetus they need to take such risks.

And for Alice, her new job and blossoming friendships become an unexpected lifeline, providing her with the courage she needs to make some tough decisions about her marriage. Then a body is found in the mountains, rocking the close-knit community and tearing the women apart as one of them becomes the prime suspect. Can they pull together to overcome their greatest challenge yet?


RATING

5 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

Jojo Moyes has done it again! I am so glad that I get to receive an early copy of The Giver of Stars because I am a huge fan of Moyes’ writing and storytelling. Skimming the synopsis of the story is enough to make me electrified to read it!

The Giver of Stars is different from her other contemporary fiction books like the Me Before You series. It is a historical fiction set in 1930’s in Baileyville, Kentucky and it is based on true events of The Horseback Librarians of Kentucky which was established by the Former First Lady of the United States of America, Eleanor Roosevelt. The librarians consisted of diverse strong women from various backgrounds who have the same interest, which were loving books and wanting to share the joy of reading to the public. The purpose of this program was to bring books and help educate people who lived in the hills in the Appalachian countryside of Kentucky.

What made me love about The Giver of Stars is for the fact Moyes focused on how important books could be in shaping and nurturing the world, in context of this moving story of the Horseback Librarians of Kentucky. The story delved into the hardship that these librarians faced, when just a fraction of the town wanted to learn while the rest were just being disrespectful to knowledge by being ignorant. We are also told on how women were treated back then in the 30’s where men often see women as not worthy enough to learn because they were afraid if women were able to question or beat the status quo. Increasing literacy by learning and reading books inevitably breeds consequences, for example making people question what is true or false and rising debates. It is not a easy change, as it often increases resistance from the people who are scared of change. For instance, there was a point in the book where people were very suspicious of any reading material other than the Bible because they were afraid that the material would spread bad influence to people.

It also touches on various issues like racism, class and also poverty in this period of US history. It is so disappointing to see how people fail to realize that we need to treat everyone nicely regardless of what gender and skin color. The Giver of Stars also shows how people from the higher status exploits poor people by giving them low wages and destroy the environment just to make money.

I love all the strong women in The Giver of Stars especially Alice and Margery. While reading I learn a lot on their struggle through womanhood and how they overcome their conflicts. This is such a powerful story of women facing hardship and how they all collect the courage to right the wrongs, that you feel their pain like it’s yours and you feel the joy with them as well.

10/10 will recommend this powerful read.

Thank you Times Reads for providing me an ARC of The Giver of Stars in exchange of honest review.

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Sabrina

ARC Review: I Owe You One (Sophie Kinsella)

43462771.jpgGenre: Adult Fiction
Publisher: Bantam Press
Publication Date: February 7th 2019
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: Times Reads
Page Count: 374

Blurb from Goodreads:

The irresistible new standalone from Sophie Kinsella is a story of love, empowerment and an IOU that changes everything . . .

Fixie Farr can’t help herself. Straightening a crooked object, removing a barely-there stain, helping out a friend . . . she just has to put things right. It’s how she got her nickname, after all.

So when a handsome stranger in a coffee shop asks her to watch his laptop for a moment, Fixie not only agrees, she ends up saving it from certain disaster. To thank her, the computer’s owner, Sebastian, scribbles her an IOU – but of course Fixie never intends to call in the favour.

That is, until her teenage crush, Ryan, comes back into her life and needs her help – and Fixie turns to Seb. But things don’t go according to plan, and now Fixie owes Seb: big time.

Soon the pair are caught up in a series of IOUs – from small favours to life-changing debts – and Fixie is torn between the past she’s used to and the future she deserves.

Does she have the courage to fix things for herself and fight for the life, and love, she really wants?


RATING

4 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

This is actually my first time reading a Sophie Kinsella book and I am very excited to read it! I have read so many good reviews about the Shopaholic series so it is a great start to read her latest book.

I don’t usually gravitate towards Adult Fiction that much because of my interest consisting of reading Young Adult books only. However, I don’t actually have any problems reading this as the characters in the book are very easy-going and relatable at the same time.

I love reading about family businesses because it is interesting to see how each of the family members play a role in managing it. You can see that family don’t always agree to each other on decision-making stuffs hence it is their duty to convince and persuade why it is a good or bad idea to agree on something.

The important message from the book is that family can be tough sometimes. It takes great courage to stand to our enemies, but just as much to stand to our family. It is an unbearable thought to criticise our own family members, the idea of breaking the family bond seems terrifying.

I love the main character, Fixie with her love interest, Sebastian. I love all of the scenes when they are together and it shows that they are a perfect match. I hate reading parts where Fixie’s siblings are such unbearable and unhelpful characters ever. I find myself similar to Fixie, I grow attach to a person so quickly and if things go wrong, I will just move on from the scene. I love when Fixie discovers her true self, where she evolves from a shy and timid person to someone who can stand up for herself.

The characters have such interesting lives and problems that they face and I learn a lot of lessons from their adulting journey. The romance is so good that it is one of my favourite things from the book. I wish I have read Sophie Kinsella’s book sooner because her writing is so good and I am totally missing out now!

Thank you Times Reads for providing me this gorgeous review copy of I Owe You One!

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Sabrina

 

Review: Everything I Never Told You (Celeste Ng)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.

Lydia is the favourite child of Marilyn and James Lee; a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue – in Marilyn’s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the centre of every party. But Lydia is under pressures that have nothing to do with growing up in 1970s small town Ohio. Her father is an American born of first-generation Chinese immigrants, and his ethnicity, and hers, make them conspicuous in any setting.

When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, James is consumed by guilt and sets out on a reckless path that may destroy his marriage. Marilyn, devastated and vengeful, is determined to make someone accountable, no matter what the cost. Lydia’s older brother, Nathan, is convinced that local bad boy Jack is somehow involved. But it’s the youngest in the family – Hannah – who observes far more than anyone realises and who may be the only one who knows what really happened.

Everything I Never Told You is a gripping page-turner, about secrets, love, longing, lies and race.


RATING

4.2 STARS!

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I think that this is the hardest book ever to review, because it carries such complex and important issues, that I am scared that my review will not serve enough justice. I try to collect my thoughts, mental note some powerful themes that are worth to be highlighted.

This is not only the story of Chinese-American family losing their teenage daughter, it is the story of racism, sexism and the consequences of family drama.

The Lee family comprises of James and Marilyn, with their children, Nathan, Lydia and Hannah. Lydia, being the middle and trophy child, faces the challenge which is to fulfill her parents’ expectations – her mother’s ambition to graduate from medical school and fight the norms of male domination in science field and her father’s which is to have the popularity that he never had as a teenager. James and Marilyn focus all their attention to Lydia, while totally ignoring Nathan and Hannah. They are complacent towards Nathan and Hannah’s childhood, ambitions and needs. It seems like they want to perfectly mould Lydia to become their living expectation, creating a heavy pressure towards her. Lydia, being a Chinese does not give her the speciality to stand out among her peers, involve in social activities etc.

However, when Lydia is found dead, all of parents’ dreams crumble. At that point of time, the family’s past and doings are disentangled. We get to observe each characters’ past and background that gives an insight on who they truly are as a person and what has changed them prior to Lydia’s death.

I appreciate how Celeste Ng crafts the story by the way of  “Show, don’t tell.” The readers have the chance to comprehend and understand the meaning of the ending abstractly. I love how Ng tackles the issue of womanhood, sexism and race in the book. Marilyn faces confusion to either chase her dreams to become a doctor or to leave her family behind. She wants to be extraordinary compared to everybody else but at the same time she also wants to be a wonderful wife and mother. She also faces prejudice from her male colleagues because they think Marilyn is not worthy for higher education. James on the other hand, fights his inner demons. He is deep down embarrassed that he is different from anybody else just because he has different skin colour and his parents are only “workers in the school”, instead of working in an elite class. He longs for friends, love and popularity.

This book is dark, emotional and heavy to read. I, myself find it difficult to read some parts of the book, mainly because they are very uncomfortable to read. I feel for Lydia so much, the similar feeling when we know that we let our parents down. Some people are not born with talents that their parents possess, that when we fail to exceed their expectations, the failure seems unacceptable for them. The last chapter infers that there is hope and better days to come after a storm.

This story teaches me that after an life-changing incident, we must collect our thoughts and move forward for the sake of our family members, instead of dwelling of the past and what is lost.

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Sabrina

 

Review: Little Fires Everywhere (Celeste Ng)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When the Richardsons’ friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town–and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood – and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.

RATING

5 GLITTERING STARS!  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I am truly speechless. After reading, I feel like, “WOW, what a moving and impactful read!”.

I think my words and review will never be suffice to prove this book is truly powerful and gives profound messages to the readers. I don’t want to give too much information to you guys, because I think it’s best to read this without knowing much. You will easily get into this book as the story flows smoothly and many POVs are given as background stories and elaboration of what had happened with each character.

This book makes me read it effortlessly, I don’t feel forced to read it, my body just hungers for the end of the story. There is a charm in Celeste Ng’s story that makes me want to finish it in one siting.

The central of the book is the narratives of two mothers who raise their children very differently from each other. One is raised in a perfectly manageable and ruled community and the other varies. Along the story, readers can think on which mother is the best in nurturing and giving support to their children.

Celeste Ng is my new favourite author! Her words are just so perfect and connected to each other. The story is so real and amazingly written and the characters are full of expressions and flawed (I truly appreciated that). This book shows that people are never good and bad. People will always have to fight with their inner demons.

I am very grateful to have read this masterpiece as it changes the way I think as a young adult. We, people tend to think that we have to follow rules in everything we do. However, we forget that rules can either be good or bad to us. The truth is to never generalise people. Some people will have their own ways of living and it is never our job to judge.

The book tells that there are always second chances in life in every mistake that you do. Life is a learning process, it is okay to fail one time and later rise up to become successful.

“Sometimes you need to scorch everything to the ground, and start over. After the burning the soil is richer, and new things can grow. People are like that, too. They start over. They find a way.” 

Little Fires Everywhere is definitely my favourite book of the year, so far. I am excited on Celeste Ng’s new move on her next books.

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Sabrina