Book Reviews: May 2015

book reviews, we were liars review, we should all be feminists, the royal we review, crazy rich asians, the fug girls

we-should-all-be-feminists You’ve probably heard of author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED talk by now (yep, it’s the one that Beyonce sampled in her song “***Flawless”). This slim little volume is her talk adapted into essay form. There’s not too much to say about this one, except that her message is fantastic and I 100% agree with what she says. What she writes is not groundbreaking, but it does boil down the argument for feminism in a way that’s really clear and logical. I also enjoyed the brief anecdotes peppered throughout on what feminism means to her personally. I highly recommend that you watch the talk if you haven’t seen it already, and this essay version is great as well.

Crazy-Rich-Asians You need to take a look at the hardcover version of this book. Talk about eye-catching/blinding! I was intrigued by this book when it was first published, but honestly I didn’t want that crazy gold cover. I was pleased to find the paperback edition at Housing Works Bookstore Café on Independent Bookstore Day. This is the story of Rachel, who’s getting pretty serious with her boyfriend Nick. Together they decide that it’s time for her to meet his family, so they fly over to Singapore to spend the summer there. Rachel has no idea that Nick’s family is crazy rich and she’s totally unprepared for the extravagant lifestyles led by Singapore’s high society families.

Oh boy, was this book over the top. I believe it’s meant to be that way and in general, I did enjoy reading it, but it was a bit much to stomach at some points. I found myself thinking, “Do people actually live this way?” and apparently the answer is yes. The writing and plot in general was fine- nothing spectacular. I did feel that the ending was a bit rushed and abrupt, but that could very well be due to the fact that he wrote a sequel, which comes out later this month. This book is light and fun. If you’re a fan of the Real Housewives series, this read might be right up your alley.

the-storied-life-of-aj-fikry Once you say “book about a book lover,” I’m in. A.J. Fikry owns a bookshop on a small island off the East Coast. When the book begins, his wife is recently deceased and he is pretty miserable. However, everything changes one night when he finds a small child in his bookstore. Sadly, the mother of this child has committed suicide. In a surprising move to the other townspeople, A.J. forms a bond with the little girl named Maya, and decides to raise her as his own.

This basic premise of this story is sweet and of course I thoroughly enjoyed all of the bookish bits. Each chapter begins with a book recommendation written by A.J. for Maya, which is a lovely idea. However, I had a problem with the pacing of this novel. The first third or so is pretty steady and then suddenly it feels like we’re skyrocketing through these character’s lives. Major events will happen or details will be revealed, but I didn’t feel like I had time to absorb them because then it’s on to the next thing. Overall, I did like this book, but I wish the story had gone a bit deeper.

we-were-liars Now let’s talk about a book that I didn’t like- We Were Liars. There was so much hype surrounding this book when it was released last summer, but I’d heard pretty mixed reviews. Finally I decided to pick it up this month to form my own opinion. I thought it was strange. The book is narrated by Cadence, who belongs to a wealthy, entitled family. The family spends their summers on their own private island and one summer, something happens. That’s about all I can tell you without spoiling it, but really I don’t think there’s much to spoil. Let’s just say that when that thing happens, I was not impressed by the turn of events.

Another aspect that I didn’t enjoy was the writing style. Sometimes sentences are broken out so that each word is on a separate line- I haven’t yet figured out what the author was trying to achieve with that style. The narrator is also very hyperbolic, so she’ll say something like, “My feelings were hurt and my eyes started bleeding,” (not an actual quote). It took me a little while to realize that what she said was not actually true and I just found it confusing. I didn’t really think that the narrator, or the story itself, was compelling. It’s safe to say that this one did not live up to the hype for me.

murder-on-the-orient-express After a not-so-great reading experience with We Were Liars, I wanted to pick up something solid and dependable, so I turned to Agatha Christie. When I was in junior high (I think), I went on a huge Agatha Christie kick and read a bunch of her books. I can’t remember whether or not I’d read this novel before, but either way, I didn’t remember the mystery. As the title says, there is a murder on the Orient Express and detective Hercule Poirot is charged with discovering the murderer. This was another great Agatha Christie mystery and I’m so impressed by her attention to detail. Clues are uncovered throughout the novel and when the sequence of events is revealed at the end, it all makes perfect sense. I know exactly what I’m getting when I pick up one of her mysteries and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

the-royal-we I’m recommending this book as the perfect, summer read. It’s light, funny, and fun to read and I thought it was quite well done. It’s a story inspired by Kate Middleton. In the book, the main character named Rebecca (“Bex” for short), travels to London to study abroad at Oxford. There she meets Nick and doesn’t realize at first that he’s the future Prince of Wales. The two of them fall in love and have to face the challenges of having a relationship under the public eye.

I really liked the cast of characters in this book- not just Bex and Nick, but also their group of friends. I feel like I got a good sense of who they were and there were little details about each character that made me smile. I think it was really interesting to imagine what it would be like to go from being a regular civilian, to  becoming a part of the most important family in England. This was just really enjoyable and I’d definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a beach read.

  • I am a huge fan of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s work, so great list. I love Agatha Christie, and will have to pick up the Murder On The Orient Express. I used to watch Poirot with my family growing up all the time. <3 Have a great weekend. x/Madison
    http://fashiontalesblog.com

    • Thank you Madison! I’d forgotten there was a Poirot TV series, so I will have to see if I can find it :)

  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is definitely on my list of to read.

    Thanks for sharing your pick for my summer beach round-up. Now I have more books to add to my list!!

    • Thanks for asking me to join in! Summer reading might be my favorite :)

  • I loved Agatha Christie in HS and Murder on the Orient Express was the first book of hers that I read :) You just can’t go wrong with a Poirot mystery. While I don’t get the fanfare around the royal family, the Royal We does sound like the kind of book I would like to read by the beach, so thanks for the rec!

    Mili

    • I totally agree about Agatha Christie- I can’t ever remember being disappointed by one of her books. Yeah, I think that one of the great things about The Royal We is that you don’t need to be a superfan of the royal family to enjoy it. It’s just a good story!

  • The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry sounds like a book for me! I love books about books! Murder on the Orient Express is one of my favorites of hers, as is And Then There Were None, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and The Big Four.
    ~Sara

    • I don’t think I’ve read The Murder of Roger Ackroyd or The Big Four yet, so I’ll have to add those to my list!

  • Hopefully this will be a good summer for me to get back into reading… I don’t know what’s been going on but I’ve been having trouble finishing books lately. I’ve been letting everything else get in the way rather than making time. Thanks for the recommendations!

    Chic on the Cheap

    • I hope you’ll be able to get back into reading this summer too! Hopefully you’ll find the perfect read to suck you back in :)

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