Book Reviews, Books

Review: The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

Summary: Alex Craft knows she cannot be trusted. When her sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer wasn’t convicted, Alex took her own action against them. Hiding her dark side away from others, Alex knows not to get too close to others and she only has senior year to go. Plans change when she starts to form a friendship with Peekay, the preacher’s kid who also volunteers at the animal shelter, and Jack Fisher, who may feel guilty from the night Anna was discovered, starts to notice Alex more and more. As senior year unravels, Alex, Peekay, and Jack are bought together by dark circumstances that may affect their future altogether.

My Rating: 4.75/5 Stars

femspecies.jpgMy Thoughts:

The Female of the Species has been on my TBR since 2016, and I was finally able to get a copy at my college-town’s library. Many of the reviewers I follow on Goodreads have loved Mindy McGinnis’s work, especially The Female of the Species, so I couldn’t wait to dive in and see what the hype was all about. I wasn’t disappointed.

The Female of the Species is told from the perspectives of high school seniors Alex, Jack, and Peekay. I’m often tentative going into multi-POV novels, but it really worked for this book, as our characters are each so different and deal with their own issues. It’s important to note that none of our three POVs are great, moral individuals. Alex has a dark side where she finds that violence speaks louder than words. Jack may be the all-star athlete and student, but he isn’t an all-star when it comes to relationships, often just looking for hookups. Peekay knows she’ll always be seen as the preacher’s kid and has a reputation to protect; yet this doesn’t stop her from grabbing a beer bottle at every chance possible.

The Female of the Species was the dark YA book that I needed. I don’t think I’ll ever “age-out” of young-adult books, however, I am starting to get tired of the typical high school troupes that come along with many YA books. While The Female of the Species does take place in a small-town high school, the story itself is very mature. We’re given a dark background from the get-go, with Anna’s death and the unsolved murders in town. Yet, I will say that I wasn’t a huge fan of the amount of sex and drinking in the book. Yes, I wasn’t a partier in high school and am still not in college, but it felt very unrealistic in a high school setting. The only reason I docked my rating by ¼ a star was because the ending felt very convenient to me. However, I commend Mindy McGinnis for the way she handled heavy subjects, like relationships, death, rape and sexual assault. I think she’s set the stage for darker stories in the YA community.

Have you read The Female of the Species? Share in the comments!

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Book Reviews, Books

Review: One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

Summary: Jess always tells her kids that everything will work out. But as much as Jess says it, it’s hard for her to follow her own mantra when it’s been two years since your husband left, your stepson is being bullied, you’re trying to balance two jobs, and your math whiz of a daughter has been given an opportunity that you cannot afford. Enter Ed Nicholls, a tech millionaire who has a few problems of his own. Work has kept him away from his family for months, and when a conflict of interest threatens to end his career, Ed needs to escape from everyday life. He’ll do anything, even if that means driving Jess and her family, dog included, to the Maths Olympiad in Scotland and a prize that could change her daughter’s life forever.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

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My Thoughts:

If you’ve been following Fangirl Fury for a little while, it won’t take too long for you to realize that I am a contemporary reads kind of a girl. One of my favorite types of books are British contemporaries, and Jojo Moyes’s One Plus One more than satisfied my craving for a light, yet heart-warming read that takes place in the UK (I know that sounds oddly specific, but there are SO many books out there for you if you share this same feeling). It took me less than a week to fly through One Plus One and I would’ve finished it sooner if I didn’t have school or work!

As much as I enjoyed Jess and Ed as two of our main characters, Tanzie, Nicky, and Norman stole the show for me. At ten years old, I love how determined Tanzie was, and she was so unique for her love of math. I was never (and still not) a math girl growing up, but I loved school and of course, English class, so it was awesome to see Tanzie be so passionate about learning. Her positivity, something that she definitely got from her mom, was so heart-warming, and my heart melted for her so much throughout the story. Tanzie, I understand the struggle of having your glasses broken and it is easily one of the most frustrating things in the world– not being able to make out details absolutely stinks. Tanzie’s relationship with Norman, the big, sloppy, and lovable family dog, was quite cute and I’m happy that the duo is still together at the end of the novel.

Frankly, my heart went out to all of our four main characters, and after Tanzie, Nicky was the next in line to break my heart. The bullying him and his family faced was atrocious, and I’m really glad he had Ed to help him sort out some of his problems. We really don’t get Nicky’s point-of-view until the end of the book (One Plus One is told in third person, but each chapter follows one of the four MCs), but I liked seeing his voice shine through in his blog posts.

While One Plus One has a big emphasis on family, we of course get to experience Ed and Jess’s growing romance. The road trip doesn’t take up the entirety of the novel, which was great for both the story and Jess and Ed’s relationship to expand further. My biggest “complaint” of the novel was that we get the “we really care about each other but something from the past divides us but we still love each other and in the end we’ll be back together” trope (wordy, I know, but true!).

I would love to pick up another Jojo Moyes book in the near future. Have you read One Plus One? Share in the comments!

Book Reviews, Books

Review: Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Summary: Vivian is tired of her small-town Texas high school. She’s tired of the football team always getting whatever they want. She’s tired of the sexist dress codes and harassment-filled hallways. Motivated by her mother’s role as a Riot Grrrl back in the 90s, Viv creates a feminist zine, Moxie, that she anonymously distributes in school. As Moxie becomes the talk of school more and more, Viv finds herself making friends with girls across all social groups and realizes she might be on to the start of a revolution.

My Rating: 4.25/5 Stars

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I read the US edition of Moxie but I like the UK cover better!

My Thoughts:

Amid all of the fall’s amazing book releases, Moxie was high on my to-be-read-list not just for its focus on feminism, but also for the fact that Amy Poehler blurbed the book on the front cover (her production banner, Paper Kite, acquired the feature rights back in January)! Anything Leslie Knope-approved is game in my life!

Moxie is a stand-out novel in the young-adult community for its emphasis on girls coming together to fight for equality. Moxie reignited my anger over high school dress codes, which are far more orientated towards girls than boys in my opinion, and makes me want to create my own chapter of Moxie, which you can actually do through the help of http://moxiegirlsfightback.com/.   I loved seeing Viv rise up to the sexist regulations of her high school and bring the zine to life, not to mention how much her and her friends empowered me as a feminist.

I really appreciated how Jennifer Mathieu bought in a lot of the myths behind feminism and how girls really feel into the book. We saw Viv’s best friend, Claudia, be reluctant about classifying herself as a feminist in the beginning, as she’s afraid that people will think that she hates men. Thankfully, we see Claudia have a change of heart by the end of the book. We also have Seth, who is all for feminism and Moxie’s fight, but questions the seriousness of one girl’s accusation toward the end of the novel.

If I had one “complaint” about Moxie, I felt that it had a lot of high school tropes. I liked Seth as a character and didn’t mind his relationship with Viv, but I hated how he distracted her from her thoughts and made her forget about the not-so feministic things (things that Seth really wouldn’t understand firsthand as a guy) he said. And as progressive as Moxie obviously is, there was one part when Viv is describing how her high school isn’t really prejudiced against LGBTQIA individuals, however, the only two gay guys at her school were in the theatre department and everyone was pretty sure that they were dating each other. It just felt so stereotypical. Additionally, as much as I rooted for these characters and their success, I felt that the ending was a bit too hunky-dory, aside from the novel dealing with the topic of sexual assault.

Overall, Moxie is great example of how feminism can be further featured in the YA community, and I’m excited to see a possible Moxie film adaptation!

Do you plan on picking up Moxie? Share in the comments!

Book Reviews, Books

Review: I, Eliza Hamilton by Susan Holloway Scott

Summary: A Founding Father, Alexander Hamilton is one of the most important figures in American history. However, little has been said about his wife, Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, who some argue is the true hero of Hamilton’s story. As the daughter of a respected general, Eliza is used to meeting the soldiers and dignitaries coming in and out of the Schuyler household. But no one’s captured her attention as strongly as Alexander Hamilton, George Washington’s most prized aide. Told from Eliza’s point-of-view, I, Eliza Hamilton explores Eliza’s life as she helps her husband shape the nation.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

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My Thoughts:

I started reading I, Eliza Hamilton the second weekend in September. I was home that weekend and thankfully didn’t have too much schoolwork so I dived right into reading. If you’re new to Fangirl Fury, this fangirl has been obsessed with Hamilton: An American Musical since her senior year of high school. I’ve been one of the lucky few in the scheme of things (more like in the scheme of the impossibility of getting Hamilton tickets) to see the show on Broadway, and last year, Ron Chernow came to my school and talked about Alexander Hamilton and his role in the musical. That being said, Susan Holloway Scott’s I, Eliza Hamilton was one of my most anticipated releases of 2017. My only “disappointment” of Hamilton is that we really don’t get too much time with Eliza herself. I, Eliza Hamilton is completely told from Eliza’s point of view and tracks her life from the moment she meets Alexander Hamilton in the late 1770s to his death in 1804 (sorry if you have not finished the Hamilton album yet, but it’s a historical fact that Alexander died from dueling with Aaron Burr).

While I, Eliza Hamilton is a fictional narrative, the amount of research Susan Holloway Scott did is evident throughout the novel. Being the Hamilton fan that I am, which basically means that I’ve seen almost every interview with Lin Manuel-Miranda about the show, I’ve learned that the musical is obviously not one hundred percent accurate. Sorry folks, but Hercules Mulligan was not the flower girl at Alex and Eliza’s wedding (the Schuylers made up the majority of their wedding guests).

It was really cool though to read more about some of the characters from the musical. For example, Eliza discusses the duel between John Laurens and Charles Lee, we get interaction between the Schuyler sisters, Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson make a few appearances, and of course, there’s the dreaded Reynolds Pamphlet.

My favorite aspect of reading I, Eliza Hamilton was how hard it was to put it down! While we can tell through Eliza’s language that she’s an eighteenth-century woman, the writing felt modern and it was quite easy to understand Alexander’s dilemmas in the political world as he explains them to his wife. I read I, Eliza Hamilton over one of the busiest weeks of my fall semester, but you better believe I read at least fifty pages before going to bed each night. Speaking of Alexander and politics,  Susan Holloway Scott clearly illustrates is Eliza’s help to Alexander. Alexander would talk to Eliza about the problems facing Congress and the nation and look for her opinion, and Eliza would often help write and proofread Alexander’s various writings, from essays and correspondences to Washington’s Farewell Address. Amidst raising their family and helping her husband in any way she can, it was amazing to understand how strong of an individual Eliza was herself.

In conclusion, if you love Hamilton, you will love I, Eliza Hamilton. If you enjoyed Melissa de la Cruz’s Alex and Eliza, you will love I, Eliza Hamilton, especially since it expands past Alex and Eliza’s wedding. If you want find yourself belting out “Helpless” or “Burn” and needing more Eliza, you will love I, Eliza Hamilton. And most of all, you will love Eliza Hamilton for the hero she is.

I was fortunate enough to be sent a galley of I, Eliza Hamilton from Kensington Books. Thank you for helping expand my love for Eliza and the Hamilton story.

Do you plan to pick up I, Eliza Hamilton? Share in the comments!

Book Reviews, Books

Review: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Summary: Little Fires Everywhere takes place in 1990s Shaker Heights, Ohio, a progressive suburb outside of Cleveland where everything is planned- what colors houses can be painted, how the roads must wind, where trees can be grown, etc. No one exemplifies Shaker Heights more than Elena Richardson, who attempts to raise her children with the belief that playing by the rules will get give them all the success and more. Mia Warren and her daughter, Pearl, rent a house from Elena, the Richardson children are captivated by the traveling duo, and Pearl and Mia quickly become more than just tenants. When the McCulloughs, friends of the Richardsons, want to adopt a Chinese-American baby, the custody battle divides Shaker Heights, putting Mia and Elena on opposite sides. Mia’s distaste for the status quo riffles Elena’s feathers, who begins to question Mia’s mysterious past.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

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My Thoughts:

I traded books with Kelsey of MyFictionalBF over on Twitter, and in exchange for Pierce Brown’s Red Rising, Kelsey sent me an ARC of Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere. I had been anticipating Little Fires Everywhere since I read Ng’s debut novel, Everything I Never Told You, at the end of 2016. I didn’t even realize they were giving away ARCS at Book Con, so many thanks to Kelsey!

One of my favorite parts of Little Fires Everywhere was Celeste Ng’s writing style, specifically how her story unravels. Similar to Everything I Never Told You, Little Fires Everywhere begins with the “ending” of the story. We’re introduced to the Richardsons, watching their house burn down. In the next chapter, we go nine months back, the Richardson house perfectly standing, as Mia and Pearl Warren enter Shaker Heights. Elena, more often referred as Mrs. Richardson, sees her new tenants as a charity case, giving the Warrens a good home in a good neighborhood with a good school system. She’s a bit more intrigued in Mia’s photography, thinking she can extend her good charity even further, perhaps asking Mia to take family portraits. Mia isn’t a typical photographer, taking up and traveling to where whatever projects her mind suits, but she’s promised Pearl that they’ll stay in Shaker Heights until she graduates from high school.

And of course, we have the Richardson children: Lexie, Trip, Moody and Izzy. Each Richardson had their own personality, but I enjoyed Lexi and Izzy’s storylines the most. Moody instantly hits it off with Pearl, becoming best friends, however they grow apart, as Pearl grows closer to Lexie and Trip. I think for this reason we get a bit less time with Moody, but I enjoyed his role in the book. We don’t get much for Trip himself as well, with most of Trip’s parts focusing on his growing relationship with Pearl. Lexi definitely had one of the more complex storylines in the novel, especially since she enlists her help from Pearl and Mia. Izzy was hands-down my favorite Richardson. I love how Mia inspired her to fight the status quo, and how she grew from a spark, as she’s referenced as, to a flame. It made me so angry how Elena treated her as the odd one out and was always faulting Izzy for her actions (RIP Izzy’s Doc Martens). My favorite Izzy moment was when Elena reflects on having “the talk” with Lexie and Izzy,

She and Mr. Richardson did not speak to the children about their love lives- she’d have a talk with Lexie and Izzy, when their periods had started, about their responsibilities. (“Vulnerabilities”, Izzy had corrected her, and left the room.)”

I appreciated Izzy’s defiance and sass when it came to dealing with her mother. Between the custody battle over Mirabelle/ May Ling and Lexie, Pearl, and Trip exploring sexuality in their relationships, there’s a lot of discussion regarding babies, responsibility, and sex. Elena really reminded me of Mrs. Cooper from Riverdale (I’m ready for season 2, okay?). She was so old school–why didn’t Trip and Moody get “the talk”? — and being a third generation Shaker Heights girl, played by the rules. I loved how Mia was the opposite of Elena. I really enjoyed exploring her past, even though I hate how it was all because of Elena’ snooping, and I so wanted Mia to take Izzy and just run far away from Elena’s control and expectations.

Overall, I really enjoyed how the first one hundred pages or so and the novel as a whole allows its readers to really get to know the characters. A lot of the blurbs on Little Fires Everywhere focus on the custody battle between the McCulloughs and Bebe, which is an essential part of the novel, but we don’t get a glimpse of our full cast of characters. While taking notes on Little Fires Everywhere while reading, I wrote within the first fifty page mark that I was falling into the novel, and guess what? I completely fell into this book and the story and the characters; it’s a book that I can’t help but still think about. Little Fires Everywhere is hands-down one of my favorite books of 2017, and I can’t wait to see what Celeste Ng brings out next!

Do you plan on picking up Little Fires Everywhere? Let me know in the comments!

Book Reviews, Books

I Listened to My First Audio Book: Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari & Eric Klinenberg

Hi my name is Haley of Fangirl Fury, and I am an audiobook newbie.

I’ve tried listening to audiobooks before, especially the Harry Potters ones, but I often had trouble connecting to the narrator. They didn’t feel like how I had imagined the character or characters in my head.

23453112.jpgHowever, I’ve had a change of heart about audiobooks because of Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg. Aziz Ansari is my favorite comedian and I fell in love with his Netflix show, Master of None, early this summer. And unless you’re new around here, you know that I am forever rewatching Parks and Recreation. After additionally watching some of Aziz’s comedy specials on Netflix, I felt inspired to read Modern Romance, as Aziz talks about some of his findings in a few of his shows.

In Modern Romance, Aziz teams up with NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg to study how people go about forming relationships today. As you can probably imagine, today’s technology, especially dating apps like Tinder, have a lot to do with how people meet and connect. Add in Aziz’s comedy and if you’re listening to the audiobook, him telling you that you were too lazy to read the physical book, and you have a humorous yet informative and personal read. Aziz often refers to his current and past relationships, and one of my favorite aspects was when he would read aloud people’s online conversations.

So what did I do while listening to Modern Romance? The audiobook is just over six hours long, and I found myself listening to it while I was driving, packing to go back to school, setting up my dorm room, and at the gym. I often found myself laughing at loud, and my only disappointment is that I wish that I had taken more notes while listening.

I plan on listening to another audiobook hopefully soon. I’ve heard amazing things about The Illuminae Files and the Six of Crows audiobooks, especially because they have a full cast of narrators.

Book Reviews, Books

Review: Warcross by Marie Lu

Marie Lu is one of my all-time favorite authors, and I was excited for Warcross since its announcement back in 2016. Flash forward to June 2017 when Warcross was the hottest book at Book Con and Marie Lu herself gave me an ARC in her autographing line. I read Warcross back in June and fell in love. With the book finally out for everyone to read (let’s me honest, I’m more than ready for a reread already), here all of my Warcross thoughts and feels.

Summary: The virtual reality game Warcross has taken the world by storm. While most users use the game to escape from reality, others play the game in hopes of making a profit. Teenage hacker and bounty hunter Emika Chen spends a lot of her time hunting down people who play Warcross illegally in order to support herself. When she not so accidentally glitches herself into the opening game of the Warcross Championships, she not only captures the attentions of millions of people, but also the creator of Warcross, Hideo Tanaka. Impressed by her hacking skills, Hideo needs Emika to come to Tokyo and solve a security problem within the game. However, this world full of gaming, fortune, and more reveals that Hideo’s problem is more than Emika could have ever imagined.

My Rating: 5/5 stars

Cover Lust?: Absolutely

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**Warning : There are spoilers for Warcross below**

My Thoughts:

Right from the start, I was completely in awe of the Warcross world and how virtual reality has really taken over everyday living. One of the many things that struck me when reading Warcross was how Emika’s world was so similar to ours. With our own technological advances, such as virtual reality headsets, Emika’s world doesn’t seem to far along from ours. While it can be a bit daunting to think about, I wouldn’t mind having an electric skateboard! I also really enjoyed some of the branding in Warcross, like how Coca-Cola and and Gucci sponsor the games.

One of my favorite scenes in the novel was when Emika arrives at the Phoenix Riders’ dorms and meets the team. I absolutely adored how Nintendo still exists in the Henka Games world, and I would love to compete against Roshan and the team in Mario Kart.

AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO CAUGHT THE HAMILTON REFERENCE WHEN ASHER INTRODUCES HAMMIE TO EMIKA?? I freaked out when Asher refers to Hammie as his right-hand girl! Anyways, I loved the support network Asher, Roshan, and Hammie provide for Emika, and I’m interested in seeing more development from Tremaine in the next book. From the moment we meet him, I totally sensed some sort of past between him and Roshan, outside from being ex-teammates.

Emika was such an amazing main protagonist and I couldn’t imagine not having any narration from her. With the novel being set in such a digital world, I really enjoyed experiencing Emika’s more human and personal side when it came to thinking about her dad. It was interesting to be able to go into her Memories and actually get a sense of her father, while making me more sad for her. Even though Emika was my favorite character in the novel I loved absolutely Hideo, especially when it came to exploring his past (not to mention his good looks and smart fashion sense). While I do not agree with his decisions at the end, I can understand where he is coming from. Talking about the ending, while some have called it predictable, I did not think that Zero was fighting against Hideo for the right reason! I figured that Sausake would make some sort of appearance near the end and that he would be Zero, but I thought he would be the ‘bad guy’. Even though, l I don’t agree with Hideo’s algorithm, it’s so hard for me to call him the bad one because he’s doing out of his love and regret for his brother.

Ahhhhh, I just need the second book now! Have you read or are planning to read Warcross? Share your thoughts and feels in the comments!

Book Reviews, Books

Review: Genuine Fraud by E.Lockhart

Summary: Imogen is an orphan, a runaway heiress, and a girl who wants to escape life’s expectations. Jule is an athlete, a loyal friend, and a girl with a hidden history of her own. Romance, disappearances, and more takes place in E.Lockhart’s latest thriller, Genuine Fraud.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

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My Thoughts:

I was fortunate enough (and survived the line) to receive an ARC of Genuine Fraud at Book Con 2017. I loved E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars when I read it back in 2015, so it was super exciting to get an early copy of her latest release and meet E.Lockhart herself.Like We Were Liars, Genuine Fraud is a thriller that makes readers question every twist and turn and like WWL, I recommend going into Genuine Fraud without knowing too much.

What makes Genuine Fraud such a unique read, especially in the young-adult lit world, is that it is told from end to beginning. The book begins on Chapter 18 with Jule’s latest whereabouts, and with each chapter, we go back in time and trace Jule’s own origin story and her relationship with Imogen. I really enjoyed going back in time, except for the fact that it was easier to predict certain plot details, especially when it came to the murderous rendezvous the book’s blurb promotes.

One of the best elements of Genuine Fraud is E. Lockhart’s social commentary about male and female roles. From reading books to watching movies, Jule realizes that women weren’t the stars in most action-filled stories, usually being upstaged by the masculine “great white hetero hero”. It’s interesting to see Jule take on this role as a hero, especially as she creates her origin story (a background something to what you expect of superheroes). However, you know from the beginning that Jule isn’t the hero of this story: she’s the antihero, and one who has to watch her every move.

I’ll be leaving this review spoiler-free in hope that you’ll pick Genuine Fraud and due to the fact that it’s best to go into this one blind! As you’ll see up top, I’ve rated the book four out of five stars, but as I think about it more and more, I might have to bump up my rating at some point.

If you’ve read or planning to pick up Genuine Fraud, share your thoughts in the comments!

Book Reviews, Books

Review: The Thing with Feathers by McCall Hoyle

I was fortunate enough to meet McCall Hoyle at Book Con 2017, where I received an ARC of her debut novel, The Thing With Feathers.

Summary: Emilie Day is quite comfortable with playing it safe; after all, she’s been homeschooled since she was eight years old, her best friend is her service dog, and she’s pretty okay with  being the only girl on the Outer Banks of North Carolina who can’t swim. Life gets turned upside down when Emilie’s mom enrolls her in public school, not to mention the fact that within the first week, she gets paired with all star point guard Chatham York on a research project about Emily Dickinson. As Chatham shows interest in Emilie and friendships start to form, Emilie is terrified to tell anyone that she has epilepsy.

My Rating: 3.5/ 5 Stars

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My (a bit spoilery) Thoughts:

The Thing with Feathers sparked my interest because it features a main protagonist who has epilepsy. I’ve never read a book with a character who is epileptic, so it was interesting to see how Emilie’s condition affected her day to day life. We see her taking new medication that helps control her seizures, interact with her service dog, Hitch, who is one my new favorite fictional dogs, and most importantly, live in fear of having a seizure at school. I understand Emilie’s fear of having a seizure in school and in public, and I wish that Hitch had been able to accompany her to school from the start. Granted, we wouldn’t have too much of a story, as Emilie must learn that she can have a life while living with epilepsy. It was fun to see her make new friends, specifically Chatham and Ayla, and see her shine as an English student. While we do get to see her hangout with Ayla and Chatham out of school, I wish we got to see Emilie doing more “normal teenage” or student type things—did she ever actually agree to writing to the lit mag??

I did not understand why it took one hundred plus pages for Emilie to tell one of her friends that she had epilepsy. Why was she so afraid to tell Chatham and Ayla about her condition? It’s not like she’s confessing that she committed a crime! Emilie wants to be able to form relationships without her epilepsy affecting them or making others wary of her. Yet, if one of my friends had a medical condition that could affect their day-to-day activity, I would want to know for their safety!

We had so many “filler” chapters where Emilie could have easily told Chatham about her epilepsy. While it was sweet seeing their relationship build, she spends half of each chapter worrying about how Chatham will react. Chatham’s little sister has Asperger’s syndrome, he wants to be a counselor one day , and he’s always volunteering—if there’s one guy that can understand Emilie, IT’S HIM! The guy recites poetry that she tutored him in for crying out now. Speaking of poetry, while I’m not the biggest Emily Dickinson fan, it was cool to see her work in the novel and how Emilie connects to her. I figured that her work would have something to do with the title.

My favorite aspect of The Thing with Feathers was the focus on Emilie’s family life, including Hitch (HITCH IS FAMILY). Hitch made my heart so happy! While she isn’t exactly family, I also enjoyed Cindy’s role in the novel, showing Emilie that you shouldn’t be afraid to speak up. It was hard seeing Emilie and her mom be so divided, between the pain that they both feel from Emilie’s father’s death and Emilie’s discomfort with her mom moving on. While it’s a bit more understandable in this case, as Emilie’s mom doesn’t know what it’s actually like to have epilepsy, we have some classic YA “my parent doesn’t get what I’m going through and I’m going to have some animosity about it.” However, throughout the novel, we see Emilie’s mom try to connect to her daughter and I’m glad by the end that both Emilie and her mother are rebuilding their relationship.

Have you read or are planning to read The Thing with Feathers? Share in the comments!

Book Reviews, Books

Why You Need to be Reading Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies has been on my TBR since its TV adaptation’s trailer came out earlier this year. I’ve been dying to watch the TV show, as its received tons of amazing reviews and sixteen Emmy nominations–even though I’ve never watched the Emmys but this might be the year between BLL and Master of None. However, not only due to the fact that I don’t have HBO (yes, that means I haven’t watched Game of Thrones either), but also that I am the type of reader that HAS to read the book before seeing the show or movie. As you can imagine, it’s been impossible to get a copy of BLL through my local library system because of how many people want to read it. But then came one magical Monday night.

As I was scrolling through my library’s online catalog, I saw that a copy of BLL was sitting on my local library’s shelf. I ran (okay, I drove) there and finally picked up the book and started reading it the next day. A bit of a sidenote, but it took me to actually hold this book in person to see that there was a broken lollipop on the cover. I was hooked on BLL throughout reading it, and I’m excited to talk about why you need to read BLL, especially if you’re nervous about all the hype Big_Little_Lies_Cover.jpg.

It takes place in Australia. I had no idea that BLL took place in Australia, as the HBO mini series takes place in the US. While the setting of Australia doesn’t play too much into the plot, it was cool to see how that affected the characters’ dialogue and a few cultural aspects. I will admit that most of the time BLL could have taken place anywhere, so I understand how the TV adaptation was able to change the setting easily.

There’s a big cast of characters AND IT WORKS. Each chapter alternates between the POVs of our three main characters, Madeleine, Celeste, and Jane. While having three POVs isn’t an earth-shattering feature, each of the women have their own “set” of characters and their stories interweave. There’s Madeline, the schoolyard queen bee, with her husband Ed, two daughters, Abigail and Chloe, and son, Fred, her ex-husband Nathan, and Nathan’s wife, Bonnie, who happens to have a daughter the same age as Chloe in the same school, same kindergarten class. There’s Celeste, known in Pirriwee for her beauty, her wealthier-than-you-could-ever-imagine husband, Perry, and twin boys, Max and Josh. There’s Jane, the newest mom in the neighbor, not to mention, the only single one, with her son Ziggy. Additionally, at the end of each chapter, we get tidbits from fellow parents and members of Pirriwee as they’re interviewed in an on-going police investigation.

It deals with some heavy topics, specifically violence and physical abuse. The book starts off with Mrs. Ponder watching some suspicious activity at Pirriwee Public’s trivia night and we learn that in that same chapter that there’s been a murder at the event. Each chapter from then on goes back six months in time and with each chapter, we get closer to the dreaded trivia night. Our “real” plot begins with a bullying situation between the kindergarteners, as Jane’s son, Ziggy, is accused of choking Renata’s daughter, leaving bruises on Amabella’s neck (this isn’t a typo, the girl’s name isn’t Annabella). As the story progresses, we learn that some of our main characters have dealt with physical abuse in their romantic relationships and we see it start to affect their everyday lives.

As mentioned, there’s a hit TV adaptation. Once I saw the trailer for BLL, I knew I wanted to watch it immediately. I think I would have changed my bookish ways for one exception if the TV series had been a bit more accessible. Reese Witherspoon and Adam Scott are two of my favorite actors, not to mention that the cast as a whole is an A+ crew. As I’m writing this post, I have just started watching the first episode, and so far I’m very impressed with how many of the lines from the show come straight from the book! I’m hoping to eventually get the season on DVD from my library, but like the book, it’s a long waitlist, so my iTunes gift cards may be getting a bit of use in the next few weeks.

Have you read Big Little Lies? Share in the comments!