Book Review: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

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Reviewed by: Savannah
Genre: Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Page count: 368 Pages
Rating: 5/5 stars
In stock: Yes

I had been so excited to finally read this book FOR MONTHS! As soon as I learned that Celeste Ng was releasing a new book, her last one Everything I Never Told You was one of my absolute favourite books that I read last year. I’ll give you the synopsis from Goodreads before I go any further,

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 teenaged 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 old family friends of the Richardsons 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.”

I found that this book was an extremely quick read and I didn’t want to put it down. All of the characters intrigued me and made me want to read more. It is one of those books that ‘exposes’ those seemingly perfect families for how imperfect they really are but does it in such an amazing way. Even though the premise of it is very common I found that this book was still unlike anything else I have ever read. I became so engrossed in all of the characters lives and what would happen to them.

There are so many amazing elements and themes found in this book as well, such as family dynamics, friendships, relationships, belonging, and racial dynamics. It is crazy that such a small book can tackle so many large themes in such an eloquent way without feeling rushed. All of the ideas in this book are fully developed and presented wonderfully.

You should all go read this if you want a fun and fast read that takes a very typical premise of ‘perfect people in perfect places’ and flips it on its head, but different than how it is usually done.

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Game Review: Forbidden Island

 

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Adventure…if you dare.

Dare to discover Forbidden Island! Join a team of fearless adventurers on a do-or-die mission to capture four sacred treasures from the ruins of a perilous paradise. Your team will have to work together and make some pulse-pounding maneuvers, as the island will sink beneath every step! Race to collect the treasures and make a triumphant escape before you are swallowed into the watery abyss!

I’ve never been a huge fan of games of chance – I prefer something that allows me to be conniving and lose friends (ex. Monopoly). However, what’s great about Forbidden Island is that it lets you use your brain, but also lets you keep your friends because you have to work as a team! #teambuildingexercise

Another wonderful thing is that the board is different every time you play. The game comes with a set of tiles that get shuffled and laid out differently – like you’re on a new sinking island! Why are they always sinking?! Maybe consider adventuring somewhere safer, like Idaho or something?

You can play with up to four players (or cats) with each player assuming the role of a unique adventurer. Each adventurer card enables the player to use a specific set of skills that benefit the whole team. For example, the player with the Diver adventurer card can move through parts of the island that have been flooded.

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Basically, after each turn another part of the island will start to sink. As the game progresses, the water levels rise and more tiles will become submerged. You need to collect the four fun special items before you can leave the island, which can be hard to do if you can’t swim.

Forbidden Island is lots of fun, easy to learn, and a great excuse to listen to your epic instrumental music.

Don’t drown!

Reviewed by: Bethany

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Book Review: The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

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Reviewed by: Elise
Genre: Poetry
Format: Paperback

 Page count: 256 Pages
Rating: 4/5 stars
In stock: Yes

this is the recipe of life

said my mother

as she held me in her arms as I wept

think of those flowers you plant

in the garden each year

they will teach you

that people too

must wilt

fall

root

rise

in order to bloom.”

You know when you find a book that you swear was written just for you?  Well for me this was Rupi Kaur’s newest collection of poems The Sun and Her Flowers. Despite never having read Kaur’s first collection of poems, Milk and Honey, the book caught my eye right away as I was putting it on the shelf and as I turned it over to briefly read the back cover I knew automatically that it would be coming home with me. The first thing I did when I got home was jump right into it and I didn’t put it down until I had soaked in every last word it had to offer.

The Sun and Her Flowers is divided into five chapters following the journey of a flower wilting, falling, rooting, rising, and finally blooming as Kaur compares this with “the recipe of life” and pairs it with her beautiful illustrations bringing each word alive. This collection of poems is a journey of growth and healing that fills you with hope for new beginnings and finding love and acceptance in yourself.

Kaur does an excellent job capturing your attention with her bold and daring honesty throughout as she explores ideas of self love and hate, body image, heartbreak, feminism, a mothers love, and sexual assault. Often times these can be tough subjects to dive into but by the end of the book Kaur still manages to leave you with a sense of pride and hope for the future and all that it could be.

I would highly recommend this book if you are looking for a quick read that despite being disguised as a possibly light and fluffy book about flowers is full of deep and meaningful insight on heartbreak, growing up, and the way the world works. Rupi Kaur’s The Sun and Her Flowers has much to offer its readers and will not disappoint.

“the year is done. I spread the past three hundred

sixty-five days before me on the living room carpet.

here is the month i decided to shed everything not

deeply committed to my dreams. the day i refused to be

a victim of self-pity. here is the week i slept in the

garden. the spring i wrung the self-doubt by its neck.

hung your kindness up. took down the calendar. the

week i danced so hard my heart learned to float above

water again. the summer i unscrewed all the mirrors

from their walls. no longer needed to see myself to feel

seen. combed the weight out of my hair.

I fold the good days up and place them in my back

pocket for safekeeping. draw the match. cremate the

unnecessary. the light of the fire warms my toes.

i pour myself a glass of warm water to cleanse myself

for january. here i go. stronger and wiser into the new.”

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Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

handmaidz

 

Reviewed by: Bethany
Genre: Fiction
Format: Softcover
Page count: 368 Pages
Rating: 5/5 stars
In stock: Yes, and it’s 25% off. 😉

 

You know when you sit down to write a book and then end up accidentally predicting the future? Well, Margaret Atwood does. Read this cool article written by Atwood on the relevance of The Handmaid’s Tale in present day.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/10/books/review/margaret-atwood-handmaids-tale-age-of-trump.html

Gilead is a cool place where you can wear a weird cone and lots of layers for the low, low price of your freedom. It’s also a place where religion and government have melded into one neat totalitarian blob of sexism. The story’s protagonist, who I guess we have to call Offred even though it bums me out, is living in The Republic of Gilead as a handmaid to an unnamed Commander. She’s pretty much just there to reproduce because she’s one of the privileged few whose ovaries are in business. Yay! If you don’t want to be a handmaid, you can always head to The Colonies and clean up nuclear waste until the radiation gets you. A real Sophie’s choice.

There are a lot of flashbacks to the old days – Offred’s life before she became a handmaid and could still walk to the store without supervision. She seems torn between her old life and her life in Gilead. I kept wondering if her memories were enough to inspire her to resist or if the inevitability of this new world would dampen her spirits.

I think one of the scariest things about this book is how complacent a lot of these characters become. From an outside perspective, it’s so strange to watch Offred get used to and eventually find a sense of contentment in this new world. There are a lot of parallels between the story and what’s happening in the news and it’s a great reminder never to acclimate to sinister circumstances.

I’ve also started watching the show and it’s looking like the TV handmaids are going to be a lot more proactive about their futures and I am 100% here for it. I’m also here for the show’s soundtrack, but that’s another matter entirely.

Blessed be the fruit and whatnot. Read this book if you feel like being angry!

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Book Review: Hunger by Roxane Gay

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Reviewed by: Savannah
Genre: Biography
Format: Softcover
Page count: 320 Pages
Rating: 5/5 stars
In stock: Yes

Okay, as per usual lets start off with a Goodreads synopsis

“In her phenomenally popular essays and long-running Tumblr blog, Roxane Gay has written with intimacy and sensitivity about food and body, using her own emotional and psychological struggles as a means of exploring our shared anxieties over pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health. As a woman who describes her own body as “wildly undisciplined,” Roxane understands the tension between desire and denial, between self-comfort and self-care. In Hunger, she explores her past—including the devastating act of violence that acted as a turning point in her young life—and brings readers along on her journey to understand and ultimately save herself.

With the bracing candor, vulnerability, and power that have made her one of the most admired writers of her generation, Roxane explores what it means to learn to take care of yourself: how to feed your hungers for delicious and satisfying food, a smaller and safer body, and a body that can love and be loved—in a time when the bigger you are, the smaller your world becomes.”

I had had this book on my figurative TBR pile for a couple months, and then when it was released it was added to my literal TBRs. Bethany did not let me keep it sitting on my pile for long. She had read it right away and practically begged me to read it. And let me say it was SO good! I’m glad she didn’t let me put off reading this book. I actually devoured it, reading it all in one day. Even though I read it so fast it was still a really intense book. This is not at all an easy read by any means. It is the most intimate biography I have ever read. None of the stories were surface level; they all dug deep and were very emotional. This book will 100% make you feel feels. I really don’t know what to say about this book it was just so amazing and emotional and that’s really all that I can articulate. It’s pretty great how open this book is, Roxane Gay just lays everything out for everyone to read. I also find it important to note that I find that Roxanne Gay has just such a way with words that it made this book even more wonderful. Basically, you should read this book it was great. And now that I have finished, I feel like I have to go out and read all of her other work that I haven’t read. Added bonus for those who are into it but all of the chapters are short so that’s a cool thing. All in all, this book was amazing and I don’t know how to properly review it and give it justice but this is my attempt

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Book Review: Every Day by David Levithan

every day david levithan

Reviewed by: Stephanie
Genre: Youth – Teen
Format: Softcover
Page count: 400 Pages
Rating: 4/5 stars
In stock: No

 

Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl. There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.” – Goodreads

The idea behind this story is really what sucked me into this book – not knowing your history, or who you are, and waking up every day in a new body? That would give you some crazy perspective. However, I think it also denies “A” (the main character’s name that they gave themselves) the learning curve of how certain relationships and events can have long term effects and consequences.

The story itself was pretty much what you’d expect from a teen story – youth falls in crazy love with another youth and wonders why the world is against them. However, the very intriguing plot element here is that their relationship is far from typical – how do you get close to someone who is constantly changing who they are and have no control over? It’s a bit tragic in that regard, but I suppose the tragedy is another aspect that really drew me in.

Another important part I’d like to point out was the fact that the author picked a variety of characters for A to inhabit, and through this plot point, he got to shed a lot of light and perspective on a variety of lifestyles, including touching on things such as mental health and LGBT culture.

The only thing that I disliked about this book was the ending. It felt like that was the halfway point of the story for me, and that we were just about to learn and discover who A is and how A came to be. Instead, it ended at a cliffhanger, and I suppose that does leave your mind to interpret whatever ending you desire. Still, I have my fingers crossed that their will be a proper sequel (one that comes after Another Day, of course) and that the story takes a sci-fi/supernatural turn. I feel like the potential for a whole new world is there, and I can’t speak for everybody, but I feel like many people would love to get their hands on that type of sequel!

Overall, I feel like this was an easy read, with a really intriguing idea that has the potential to suck you in and rob you of your free time and give you something to think about. You’ve been warned.

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Book Review: #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso

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Reviewed by: Bethany
Genre: Business (but kind of more biography?)
Format: Softcover
Page count: 256 Pages
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
In stock: Yes

 

“At seventeen, Sophia Amoruso decided to forgo continuing education to pursue a life of hitchhiking, dumpster diving, and petty thievery. Now, at twenty-nine, she is the Founder, CEO, and Creative Director of Nasty Gal, a $100+ million e-tailer that draws A-list publicity and rabid fans for its leading-edge fashion and provocative online persona. Her story is extraordinary—and only part of the appeal of #GIRLBOSS.” – Goodreads

I don’t know what has come over me, but business books have been catching my eye lately. I just feel like leaning in, I guess. #GIRLBOSS was a very easy read and I don’t think this book is perfect, but it is ultimately well-intentioned and taught me a thing or two, which isn’t hard because I know almost nothing about business. I’m certain that there are books out there with better advice, though #GIRLBOSS was probably a good first business book for me. All right!

For the most part, I enjoyed Sophia Amoruso’s #GIRLBOSS! It’s filled with a decent amount of solid, reasonable advice and multiple references to dumpster bagels. I also appreciated her acknowledgement that there isn’t one true way to become successful because school isn’t for everyone. It’s important to remember that Sophia Amoruso isn’t a writer, so you can’t fault #GIRLBOSS for not being a perfectly punctuated manifesto.

One of the things I did find a little nauseating was the constant plugging of the “#GIRLBOSS” throughout the book. In some chapters, it seemed the she was mentioning the “movement” every other word and it ended up detracting from the book a bit. I almost started a tally.

I find that in writing these book reviews, it helps me to realize how I genuinely feel about the book. It makes me think critically or something. Anyway, if you want a quick read with some amusing stories and a tiny bit of tangible advice, then you should read this book!

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