What I’m Reading: Little Fires Everywhere

From the book jacket:
In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours 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 just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules 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 Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family – and Mia’s.

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of long-held secrets and the ferocious pull of motherhood-and the danger of believing that planning and following the rules can avert disaster, or heartbreak.

My review:
Little Fires Everywhere is the first novel I’ve read by Celeste Ng, and I was really confused at first when she the story started at the end, but it ended up being a brilliant way to keep me intrigued and wanting to read more.

I really loved how even in the most “perfect” community – one where everything is precise and planned – people have their secrets, their flaws. Even Mrs. Richardson bends the ethical guidelines of her and her friend’s profession.

Then there’s the controversy in the story between the McCullough’s and Bebe, which really made you think about your own morals and what is right and wrong. Should do-overs, per-say, be allowed in such instances? I also had to keep reminding myself that this was a different decade that this was all occurring it, so I’m certain that this had a lot to do with the outcome. I do wonder if Mia felt compelled to help Bebe because she felt guilty of her own actions all those years ago … Whatever the reason, I was disappointed in Mia’s actions towards the Ryans and feel bad for Pearl not knowing the true reason behind their nomadic lifestyle.

That being said, I did appreciate Mia’s compassion towards the Richardson children, not judging them even in their darkest moments. Growing up in a “perfect” community, I imagine, could be hard on any person, especially when it doesn’t allow you to be who you truly are. (Like Izzy, for example.)

I also felt bad for Moody. He befriended Pearl and she did nothing but deceit him after falling for his older brother. Moody was perhaps the only character in the story who wasn’t being selfish; even Izzy was selfish in a sense by wanted to keep Mia all to herself.

I think I would have given Little Fires Everywhere five stars, but I was a little disappointed in the actual ending of the book. I was hoping for a bit of reunion between Mia and her family, some answers owed to the Ryans. Maybe I’ll get lucky and there will be a sequel.

My rating: ★★★★½ / 5

 

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What I’m Reading: Still Me

From the book jacket:
Louisa Clark arrives in New York ready to start a new life, confident that she can embrace this new adventure and keep her relationship with Ambulance Sam alive across several thousand miles. She steps into the world of the superrich, working for Leonard Gopnik and his much younger second wife, Agnes. Lou is determined to get the most out of the experience and throws herself into her new job and New York life. 

As she begins to mix in New York high society, Lou meets Joshua Ryan, a man who brings with him a whisper of her past. Before long, Lou finds herself torn between Fifth Avenue where she works and the treasure-filled vintage clothing store where she actually feels at home. And when matters come to a head, she has to ask herself: Who is Louisa Clark? And how do you reconcile a heart that lives in two places?

Funny, romantic, and poignant, Still Me follows Lou as she navigates how to stay true to herself, while pushing to live boldly in her brave new world.

My review:
I was quite happy when I learned there was a third book in the “Me Before You” series, even though the last instalment left me wanting a bit more from the storyline. I downloaded onto my Kobo and finished it in about a week.

I really enjoyed the storyline overall and thought it was well put together. I do love that Lou was “still Lou” and that she stayed true to who she was throughout the whole storyline, and that she “found” herself in the end. I thought for sure that there were going to be storylines that didn’t get wrapped up, but Moyes managed to do so in a way that wasn’t too drawn out or exasperating.

There were a few moments in the story though that I wasn’t too crazy about and thought were a bit over the top and cheesy, such as the horse carriage moment and the “fight” scene Lou witnessed when she first arrived in NYC. I don’t know if Moyes was setting things up for a movie script, but it all made me roll my eyes a little bit and I didn’t think it was necessary.

Overall, I enjoyed Still Me more than After You and thought it wrapped up the series nicely.

My rating: ★★★★/5

 

What I’m Reading: When Life Gives You Lululemons

From the bookjacket:
New York Times bestselling author Lauren Weisberger returns with a novel starring one of her favorite characters from The Devil Wears Prada—Emily Charlton, first assistant to Miranda Priestly, now a highly successful image consultant who’s just landed the client of a lifetime.
Welcome to Greenwich, CT, where the lawns and the women are perfectly manicured, the Tito’s and sodas are extra strong, and everyone has something to say about the infamous new neighbor.

Let’s be clear: Emily Charlton, Miranda Priestly’s ex-assistant, does not do the suburbs. She’s working in Hollywood as an image consultant to the stars, but recently, Emily’s lost a few clients. She’s hopeless with social media. The new guard is nipping at her heels. She needs a big opportunity, and she needs it now.

Karolina Hartwell is as A-list as they come. She’s the former face of L’Oreal. A mega-supermodel recognized the world over. And now, the gorgeous wife of the newly elected senator from New York, Graham, who also has his eye on the presidency. It’s all very Kennedy-esque, right down to the public philandering and Karolina’s arrest for a DUI—with a Suburban full of other people’s children.

Miriam is the link between them. Until recently she was a partner at one of Manhattan’s most prestigious law firms. But when Miriam moves to Greenwich and takes time off to spend with her children, she never could have predicted that being stay-at-home mom in an uber-wealthy town could have more pitfalls than a stressful legal career. 

Emily, Karolina, and Miriam make an unlikely trio, but they desperately need each other. Together, they’ll navigate the social landmines of life in America’s favorite suburb on steroids, revealing the truths—and the lies—that simmer just below the glittering surface. With her signature biting style, Lauren Weisberger offers a dazzling look into another sexy, over-the-top world, where nothing is as it appears.

My thoughts:
I heard a lot of rave reviews about When Life Gives You Lululemons, and while I never read any of the other instalments of the Devil Wears Prada series I figured I’d give it a go. I’d only ever watched the movie version of The Devil Wears Prada, but I loved Emily’s character, so a book featuring her as one of the main characters couldn’t be bad!

When Life Gives You Lululemons was a fun and fast read, and I really enjoyed following the three women along on their journey together. Miriam was super relatable to me in many ways and I loved her relationship with Emily and Karolina. The trio kept one another in check wonderfully and their friendship is something every woman should strive to have. “I got your back but will call you out if you’re being an idiot” is definitely the kind of friendship I’m down to be in.

I never found the book to be overly predictable and found myself obsessively reading to find out what was going to happen next. My one and only gripe is that ending seemed a little rushed, as if Weisberger had a word-count to adhere to and needed to wrap things up before chapters got left out.

All in all, When Life Gives You Lululemons is a great summer read that is easy enough to follow along to without getting boring. I give it 4 stars out of 5.