What I’m Reading: Into the Water

From the bookjacket:
In the last days before her death, Nel called her sister. Jules didn’t pick up the phone, ignoring her plea for help.

Now Nel is dead. They say she jumped. And Jules has been dragged back to the one place she hoped she had escaped for good, to care for the teenage girl her sister left behind.

But Jules is afraid. So afraid. Of her long-buried memories, of the old Mill House, of knowing that Nel would never have jumped.

And most of all she’s afraid of the water, and the place they call the Drowning Pool …

My review:
This book had been on my “to-read” list for a while when I was lucky enough to receive it as a gift for Christmas! I was excited to jump into it as I heard a lot of great things about it and really loved Hawkins’ previous hit, The Girl on the Trainso my hopes were high for Into the Water.

While it was slightly predicable and somethings didn’t surprise me, I still quiet enjoyed reading this book and couldn’t put it down. I found myself drawn to the storyline, desperately wanting to know what exactly happened and what was going to happen to the characters in the book – even though there was a lot of them.

I wasn’t so keen on was the pure volume of characters and I found myself flipping back to the beginning of the chapter to remind myself of who was narrating. A few of the character’s storylines I found to be unnecessary, like Josh and Nickie, and they probably could have been omitted or absorbed into another storyline with ease and to save confusion. There were characters whose storylines I preferred to read over others as well; I felt that Lena and Jules’ characters were more interesting and developed than the rest, rightfully so really since the main subject of the story involves their mother/sister. I couldn’t help but want to know more about either of them.

I’m going to give Into the Water 4 stars out of 5. I’m not sure if it’s better than The Girl on the Train, but it wasn’t worse. I enjoyed more of the characters and if there was such thing  it would get another .25 stars. (Although this is my blog and I suppose I can install such a rating system if I please.) #winkyface

Have you read either of Hawkins’ books? Which did you prefer?


What I’m Reading: Rich People Problems

From the bookjacket:
When Nicholas Young hears that his grandmother, Su Yi, is on her deathbed, he rushes to be by her bedside–but he’s not alone. It seems the entire Shang-Young clan has convened from all corners of the globe, ostensibly to care for their matriarch but truly to stake claim on the massive fortune that Su Yi controls. 

With each family member secretly fantasizing about getting the keys to Tyersall Park–a trophy estate on 64 prime acres in the heart of Singapore–the place becomes a hotbed of intrigue and Nicholas finds himself blocked from entering the premises. 

As relatives claw over heirlooms, Astrid Leong is at the center of her own storm, desperately in love with her old sweetheart Charlie Wu, but tormented by his ex-wife–a woman hell bent on destroying Astrid’s reputation and relationship. Meanwhile Kitty Pong, married to billionaire Jack Bing, finds a formidable opponent in his fashionista daughter, Colette.

My review: (Which may contain spoilers!)
I’m not going to lie – I was pretty stoked when I first heard that Rich People Problems was going the third instalment of the Crazy Rich Asians “series.” I read the first two books and really enjoyed them, so I was curious to see if the Rich People Problems would be just as over the top.

This book definitely did not disappoint when it came to the ludicrous spending and name-dropped that this fictional family is capable of, but at some points it almost seems to be a little too over-the-top. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this whole series, it’s that money (an absurd amount of money) makes people unable to see clearly. Every action is driven by jealousy and the desire to one-up your competition.

But back to the book – regardless of self-absorbed nature of most of the characters, it was still just as enjoyable to read as Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend. While at times it was hard to keep track of all the different characters, (which I personally think assists in showing how huge Asian families actually are) I still found myself completely absorbed in the story and rapidly reading through each chapter wanting to find out what kind of insanity was going to happen next.

I also couldn’t help but notice how well Rich People Problems demonstrates how the death of a beloved family member – especially a matriarch – can both bring people together can tear them apart at the same time. Grief can do unbelievable things to a person and Kwan demonstrates this not only with the passing of Su Yi, but also in the collapse of marriage.

If you’ve read the other two books in the series, or even just the first one, I highly encourage you to press on and complete the trifecta with Rich People Problems. I felt that it brought a lot of closure to the main character’s storylines, and it was still a great read. Overall, I’m giving it 4.5 stars out of 5.


What I’m Reading: All the Light We Cannot See

18143977From the bookjacket:
A stunningly ambitious and beautiful novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, a stunningly ambitious and beautiful novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Marie Laure lives with her father in Paris within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History where he works as the master of the locks (there are thousands of locks in the museum). When she is six, she goes blind, and her father builds her a model of their neighborhood, every house, every manhole, so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate the real streets with her feet and cane. When the Germans occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure’s agoraphobic great uncle lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall.

In another world in Germany, an orphan boy, Werner, grows up with his younger sister, Jutta, both enchanted by a crude radio Werner finds. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at an elite and brutal military academy and, ultimately, makes him a highly specialized tracker of the Resistance. Werner travels through the heart of Hitler Youth to the far-flung outskirts of Russia, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his path converges with Marie-Laure.

Doerr’s gorgeous combination of soaring imagination with observation is electric. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, All the Light We Cannot See is his most ambitious and dazzling work.

My review:
I’m ashamed to admit that I had originally started reading All the Light We Cannot See back in July. (Or maybe it was June?) To say I had a hard time getting into the story would be an understatement!

Regardless, the storyline eventually picked up and I couldn’t put it down. Doerr did a good job bouncing back and forth between storylines, which kept me engaged (once the storyline got interesting) and wanting to read on to find out what happens next to either Marie-Laure or Werner.

I really enjoyed how descriptive Doerr was in writing All the Light, which was expected since one of the main characters is blind. It was refreshing to have things described by smell or touch rather than just appearance, but even then Werner’s description of Marie-Laure was anything but basic.

I’m trying hard to think of something in particular that I didn’t like about this book, and other than the slow pace of it, there really isn’t anything. It gives a good perspective into life in German-occupied France during the war, and I think it’s important to remember how much fear there was during that time.

Overall, I give All the Light We Cannot See 4 stars out of 5.