Book Review: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Title: Little Fires Everywhere
Author: Celeste Ng
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
Publisher: Penguin Press
Release Date: September 12, 2017
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 338
Source: Library
Rating: ★★★★☆

Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.

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.

I’m still trying to figure out exactly how I feel about this book. I mean, I rated it 4 stars, so I obviously I liked it, but I’m still not quite sure how I feel about the book.

Little Fires Everywhere is a wonderful novel. I’m not going to say it isn’t. It’s thought provoking. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it will make you angry. You’ll find yourself taking sides on issues raised in the book. You’ll find yourself heartbroken for characters who have lost something. You’ll find yourself hoping that characters get what they are looking for in the end.

I went out of my genre comfort zone for this book. I don’t normally read books that are in the “Fiction” or “Adult Fiction” category unless I’ve been seeing them everywhere – which I’ve been seeing a lot of people talking about this book. I’ve seen where people say it’s slow moving, which I suppose you could say that it is, but I read it in 2 days, so it can’t be that slow moving. Usually when I think of a slow moving book, it takes me over a week to read the book because it moves so slowly that I can’t get into it. I think it is more a matter of the book moves slowly if you simply aren’t interested in it.

I fell in love with the kids in this book – Pearl and Izzy especially. I keep wondering if Trip & Moody really are named that or if they are nicknames for which we simply are never given their proper given names. The kids are just so genuine and I know how Izzy feels because I’ve felt that way on more than one occasion with my family (although in my case it is extended family who make me feel that way, not my parents).

The May Ling Chow/Mirabelle McCullough story line tugged at my heart. I can totally see how both sides felt, but I must admit, I sided with Bebe Chow. You’ll have to tell me which side you chose in that debate.

All in all, the book is a really good read and I do recommend that you check it out if you’re into adult fiction.

Book Review: Camino Island by John Grisham

Title: Camino Island
Author: John Grisham
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: Doubleday
Release Date: June 06, 2017
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 290
Source: Library
Rating: ★★★★☆

A gang of thieves stage a daring heist from a secure vault deep below Princeton University’s Firestone Library. Their loot is priceless, but Princeton has insured it for twenty-five million dollars.

Bruce Cable owns a popular bookstore in the sleepy resort town of Santa Rosa on Camino Island in Florida. He makes his real money, though, as a prominent dealer in rare books. Very few people know that he occasionally dabbles in the black market of stolen books and manuscripts.

Mercer Mann is a young novelist with a severe case of writer’s block who has recently been laid off from her teaching position. She is approached by an elegant, mysterious woman working for an even more mysterious company. A generous offer of money convinces Mercer to go undercover and infiltrate Bruce Cable’s circle of literary friends, ideally getting close enough to him to learn his secrets.

But eventually Mercer learns far too much, and there’s trouble in paradise as only John Grisham can deliver it.

While I kind of panned the last John Grisham novel I’d read, it was more because while it involved law and lawyers, it wasn’t what I was expecting.

This novel was a departure from what I recall John Grisham doing previously, but this novel worked. It really did work.

The character development wasn’t completely there, but it also didn’t really need to be. Most of the characters, even though they appeared multiple times, didn’t need the development as they weren’t the main focus of the novel. The characters who did need development had it – Mercer and Bruce Cable. The rest of the characters were more or less window dressing, regardless of how much time you spent reading their words and actions. The only characters that truly mattered in the plot were Mercer and Bruce.

And it was a great book. It was hard for me to put it down to do the other things I needed to get done, but I managed. This book just flowed and I was constantly curious to see how the story would turn out. It turns out a bit differently than you might expect, but that just makes the novel even better.

This one got 4 out 5 stars only because there were some parts of the book I thought could have been taken out and the book wouldn’t have been any less interesting.

Book Review: A Blink of the Screen: Collected Shorter Fiction by Terry Pratchett

Title: A Blink of the Screen: Collected Shorter Fiction
Author: Terry Pratchett
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction
Publisher: Doubleday
Release Date: October 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 320
Source: Library
Rating: ★★★☆☆

In the four decades since his first book appeared in print, Terry Pratchett has become one of the world’s best-selling and best-loved authors. Here for the first time are his short stories and other short form fiction collected into one volume. A Blink of the Screen charts the course of Pratchett’s long writing career: from his schooldays through to his first writing job on the Bucks Free Press,; to the origins of his debut novel, The Carpet People; and on again to the dizzy mastery of the phenomenally successful Discworld series.

Here are characters both familiar and yet to be discovered; abandoned worlds and others still expanding; adventure, chickens, death, disco and, actually, some quite disturbing ideas about Christmas,all of it shot through with his inimitable brand of humour.

With an introduction by Booker Prize-winning author A.S. Byatt, illustrations by the late Josh Kirby and drawings by the author himself, this is a book to treasure.

This was my first foray into reading Terry Pratchett and I have to say, although the stories were good, they weren’t GREAT.

Part of this is due to some of the stories having been written a long time ago, when he’d first started writing. Part of this is also due to my not being particularly knowledgeable about Discworld, and so the Discworld stories didn’t really make any sense to me.

Terry Pratchett’s writing style is very good. He knows how to tell a story. I’m not denying that. He knows how to develop characters in just a few short sentences so that a short story can get on with it. But some of the earlier works – I’m just not sure why the editors and publisher were willing to have them in there… and Terry himself was rather embarrassed by some of the stories.

All in all, it was a good introduction to Terry Pratchett and I would recommend it to those who haven’t read his works as a way to introduce themselves to his writing style. Just keep in mind that some of the stories are from way back when and could use a little work.

Book Review: The Rooster Bar by John Grisham

Title: The Rooster Bar
Author: John Grisham
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: Doubleday
Release Date: October 24, 2017
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 352
Source: Library
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Mark, Todd, and Zola came to law school to change the world, to make it a better place. But now, as third-year students, these close friends realize they have been duped. They all borrowed heavily to attend a third-tier, for-profit law school so mediocre that its graduates rarely pass the bar exam, let alone get good jobs. And when they learn that their school is one of a chain owned by a shady New York hedge-fund operator who also happens to own a bank specializing in student loans, the three know they have been caught up in The Great Law School Scam.

But maybe there’s a way out. Maybe there’s a way to escape their crushing debt, expose the bank and the scam, and make a few bucks in the process. But to do so, they would first have to quit school. And leaving law school a few short months before graduation would be completely crazy, right? Well, yes and no . . .

Pull up a stool, grab a cold one, and get ready to spend some time at The Rooster Bar.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t read a John Grisham novel in years. I was really into his novels when I was in high school, but to be honest, after high school I kind of lost interest. I think the last time I’d read one of his novels was back in the early 2000s when I still lived in Texas.

The book was all right, but it wasn’t the type of story I’m used to from John Grisham. I’m used to his books being more like The Pelican Brief and A Time to Kill. This one wasn’t so much like that and I guess I was just expecting another lawyer making a name for him/herself because he/she took on a case that was making big headlines.

The book was well written, although you might have to get a notepad to keep track of changing names and what’s going on with each person’s family because it can get a bit on the complicated side. I don’t think this book had quite as much character development as previous novels and to be honest, I think that was part of why I didn’t like it. It just didn’t have that John Grisham feel.

All in all, it was a good book but not one I’d really recommend to long time fans of John Grisham.