Reading Wrap-Up #11

Time for another catch-up!

As a reminder, here is how I rate my books:

  • (★★★★★): Loved it
  • (★★★★): Really liked it
  • (★★★): Didn’t hate it, didn’t love it
  • (★★): Barely finished it

Another few notes: I will warn if there are any spoilers with (start spoiler) and (end spoiler) so you know when to stop reading and pick up again if you don’t want to ruin the book for yourself. I no longer go out of my way to watch adaptions, but will continue to mention them and their general critiques (from Rotten Tomatoes) in my reviews.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

91twTG-CQ8LRating: ★★★★★

Genre: Fiction, contemporary

GoodReads rating: 4.12 / 5 (376,600 ratings)

Medium used: Audiobook (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Date started/ finished: 30/06 – 05/07

Summary: When a local family attempts to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts single mother and artist Mia and (for lack of better words) tight-ass Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past.

Thoughts: I absolutely loved this. It was so well-written and kept me on my toes. Although it was written in a third person point of view, it did a magnificent job of portraying introspection in all the characters and their development. It gave so many different perspectives on the same storyline which is the actual reality of human experience.

Other adaptations: Let’s be honest, everything Reese Witherspoon touches turns into gold. I’m excited for the mini series coming out in 2020.

Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk

61o7LypwE3L-695x1052Rating: ★★★

Genre: Fiction

GoodReads rating: 4.00 / 5 (114,700 ratings)

Medium used: Paperback (purchased from The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles, California)

Date started/ finished: 07/07 – 11/07

Summary: When a model becomes disfigured and incapable of speech, she earns the help  of beauty queen Brandy Alexander to reinvent herself.

Thoughts: Is it possible to have too many twists? The first one or two I was shocked, but for the rest, it became boring. Being shocking just for the purpose of being shocking isn’t always… well, shocking. Plus, I have some issues with the writing. First, he goes out of his way to be “fake deep”, which I’ve talked a bit about with John Green. I understand this is a fiction book, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to relate to the characters. The characters were completely unrealistic and left me thinking, “Who is actually like this?” For example, this one character got a complete sex change because they thought it was the thing that they wanted the least and doing so would build character. Say what? This was fine for edgy 16-year-old me who thought liking Fight Club made me interesting, but now, I want plausible character development.

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty

81iybqipDiLRating: ★★★★★

Genre: Non-fiction, death

GoodReads rating: 4.17 / 5 (38,000 ratings)

Medium used: Hardback (purchased from The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles, California)

Date started/ finished: 13/07 – 21/07

Summary: Mortician Caitlin shares the story of her relationship with death from seeing a fatal fall at a young age to working at a famous funeral home to her own contemplation of suicide. This is a raw and informative yet humorous memoir of a woman I’ve come to admire a lot.

Thoughts: I seriously cannot get enough of Caitlin. I love her YouTube channel, I love her podcast and now I’m all caught up on her books. This was her first book (her second being From Here to Eternity…) and it was magnificent. I laughed, I cried and I am grateful Caitlin is so open about her experiences with death, it’s really inspiring.

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

9780679755265_p0_v1_s1200x630Rating: ★★★

Genre: Fiction, young adult, classic

GoodReads rating: 3.62 / 5 (107,800 ratings)

Medium used: E-book (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Date started/ finished: 22/07

Summary: “The story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become.”

Thoughts: I thought this was okay. A quick read and you get to say you read it, but nothing that particularly stuck with me.

Other adaptations: There is an independent movie I couldn’t find much information on.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

51F+e7mWnhLRating: ★★★½

Genre: Romance, historical fiction

GoodReads rating: 4.08 / 5 (1,256,600 ratings)

Medium used: E-book (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Date started/ finished: 24/07 – 30/07

Summary: Cornell veterinary student Jacob is orphaned and left penniless when he joins the circus as a menagerie man. Jacob falls madly in love with performer Marlena while trying to conceal it from her husband unstable, August. When the Benzini Bros. obtain an elephant, the pressure is on to make her perform or go belly up like many other productions during the Great Depression.

Thoughts: I hate instalove. That’s my main beef with this book. It seems more like lust than anything because they barely exchanged twenty words before they end up together. Marlena is a terribly boring character in the book and everything Jacob sacrifices for her just doesn’t add up. However, I loved the setting and the climax was gag-worthy. Any other animal lovers out there crease every time they called a female elephant a bull, or was it just me?

Other adaptations: Dare I say it? The movie is better. This has only been the case for one other book I’ve reviewed: Jurassic Park. Although it differs from the book a bit in the plot, the end result is the same and the characters are much more believable in the movie. Christoph Waltz is August through and through and does an amazing job portraying this charming yet chilling character. The interactions with Marlena and Jacob are much more meaningful in the movie and actually had me rooting for them to be together. Not to mention, the setting of the book is made even more spectacular on the screen.

Have you read any of these?

Photo by Radu Marcusu.

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1 Comment

  1. August 9, 2019 / 12:38 pm

    I really love the sound of ‘Little Fires Everywhere’ – it sounds exactly the sort of thing I like to read. And ‘Water for Elephants’ has been on my TBR pile for AGES!
    Gemma | Hiddenlittlegem.com

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