Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.
So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos.
A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another. – Goodreads
Oh hey, guys. Remember me? I read books sometimes and then review them here? Should I reintroduce myself? Hi, I’m Tina and I’m a bad book blogger. (Hi, Tina.)
I’m not sure what made me pick up the book. The summary was intriguing. Death, secrets, a family that doesn’t talk. Unreliable narrators abound. And it sucked me right in. I read half of it in a day. This is the story of the Lee family, and I do mean the entire family, as the narrative will weave in an out of different viewpoints while remaining in the third person POV. Lydia is dead at the beginning of the book, and we very slowly start learning the history of this family and being discovering all their secrets. It’s the 1970s, and women are newly liberated, so to speak, becoming doctors and scientists, but Marilyn Lee is a housewife. It’s a life she never saw for herself, and she struggles, but she makes do by pouring all her effort into showing Lydia she can have a different kind of life. Marilyn does this at the expense of her other children, especially Hannah. James Lee is the son of immigrants, and while he’s young all he wants is to fit in, but when he’s older, he seems to seek out similarity. There aren’t too many Asians in small-town Ohio in the 70s, and people frequently refer to James and his children as “Oriental” or “the Orientals.” Racism abounds in this novel, and even Marilyn had a pretty gross reaction when she first met James. (Oh, a Chinaman. He doesn’t speak like I thought he would. “So solly.” It was awful.) Marilyn’s mother disowns her for marrying James. James’ parents are dead. And these two are not great parents themselves. Pouring everything into one child at the detriment of the others. Hannah’s point of view is particularly sad, like when she goes to reach for her mother’s hand and Marilyn pulls it back, or when Hannah tentatively lays her head on Nath’s shoulder, because whenever she tries to get close, they move away. James is hard to like when thinking about his son, who, at seven years old, is obsessed with space and rockets. James can’t help but be annoyed by this, even hitting him once for it, and makes backhanded comments all the time. These people are kind of awful. They’re hard to like, but easy to empathize with, if you feel you can get past their selfishness.
Lydia is dead and the family is unraveling. James is locking himself in his office at the university, Marilyn is convinced that someone kidnapped Lydia and killed her, Nath is angry, Hannah is silent. They are all coming to terms with Lydia’s death, and they are all realizing that they did not really know her.
This book is about love, suffocating as it might be, loss, loneliness, and anger. Everyone is so angry, and everyone just tamps it down. They don’t ever talk about anything. They keep everything to themselves until it boils over and they self-destruct. More than Lydia’s death, this is a book about discovery. Every character goes through a major character revamp throughout the course of the novel, and I love how Ng gives us little glimpses into the future. This is a great one.
This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying experiences that others in her hometown of Salem take for granted, which is why she is determined to enjoy her first high school party with her best friend and longtime crush, Tristan. But after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class, Lily wishes she could just disappear.
Suddenly, Lily is in a different Salem—one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruelest of them all is Lillian . . . Lily’s other self in this alternate universe.
What makes Lily weak at home is what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. In this confusing world, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can’t hope to shoulder alone and a love she never expected. – Goodreads
Oh Lily, I wanted to like you. I sympathized with you so much, until I realized how much of a Mary Sue you were and then I just wanted you off my page. The first two chapters of Trial By Fire when Lily is in present day Salem dragged for me so much to the point I debated DNF. While the book picked up when Lily entered New Salem, I found the whole book to be slow and not of much excitement to me.
What was of excitement for me, was Rowan. Rowan was snarky and didn’t really have time for Lily, but was also fiercely protective of Lily because he knew how Lily’s counterpart, Lillian, in New Salem really was. While I found Angelini’s writing to be strong, I also was bored throughout Trial by Fire, besides Rowan, I didn’t care about…anything.
Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her “our little genius.” Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.– Goodreads
This book is one of those that is impossible to review. Because to talk about it gives anything away, but I will admit that the audio was amazing and made me want to keep listening to it. I went into this book knowing nothing about it because all of my friends wanted me to be surprised and I’m glad. Because the layers that Carey creates throughout this novel, I was honestly shocked until the very last moment.
Maisie Dobbs returns in a powerful story of political intrigue and personal tragedy: a brutal murder in the British garrison town of Gilbraltar leads the investigator into a web of lies, deceit and danger
Spring 1937. In the four years since she left England, Maisie Dobbs has experienced love, contentment, stability—and the deepest tragedy a woman can endure. Now, all she wants is the peace she believes she might find by returning to India. But her sojourn in the hills of Darjeeling is cut short when her stepmother summons her home to England; her aging father Frankie Dobbs is not getting any younger.
But on a ship bound for England, Maisie realizes she isn’t ready to return. Against the wishes of the captain who warns her, “You will be alone in a most dangerous place,” she disembarks in Gibraltar. Though she is on her own, Maisie is far from alone: the British garrison town is teeming with refugees fleeing a brutal civil war across the border in Spain.
Yet the danger is very real. Days after Maisie’s arrival, a photographer and member of Gibraltar’s Sephardic Jewish community, Sebastian Babayoff, is murdered, and Maisie becomes entangled in the case, drawing the attention of the British Secret Service. Under the suspicious eye of a British agent, Maisie is pulled deeper into political intrigue on “the Rock”—arguably Britain’s most important strategic territory—and renews an uneasy acquaintance in the process. At a crossroads between her past and her future, Maisie must choose a direction, knowing that England is, for her, an equally dangerous place, but in quite a different way – Goodreads
I have never hidden the fact that I adore Maisie Dobbs and this book is no different. What I didn’t adore was the fact in the first 5% of the book I was almost in tears because so much sadness happened to Maisie and I really, really, really, just want Maisie to be happy. But throughout this book, Maisie does learn to be happy. Or a new version of happy. My heart still hurts of course.
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?
Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut. – Goodreads
My friend warned me when I started this novel. She told me I would have problems with it, but to stick it out til the end, so I did, because I trust her. But this was a very hard book for me to read. I couldn’t get into any of the characters. Everyone was the worst. I had problems finding that one thing that made me love the story. However, I will admit that Hawkins knows how to write a mystery. I was holding on til the very, very end in shock of what had happened.
Posted by ashley in Book Review Tags: 2 star, ALA 2014, ALAMW 2015, audiobook, author: winspear, genre: historical fiction, genre: mystery, genre: paranormal, genre: romance, genre: young adult, mini review, publisher: feiwel and friends, publisher: orbit, publisher: penguin
It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.
A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend. – Goodreads
Along for the Ride is the story of Auden, a girl who never sleeps. Her parents were constantly fighting and she just started to stay up. Her parents being divorced is of course a key part of her life. Her mother and her strive for perfection, her father and the new, younger wife, and the baby is a lot for Auden to take in. But she makes due, even if she doesn’t want to. The never sleeping only gets her so far. While her mother loves her almost far too much (the need of perfection since her older brother is…not) her father almost doesn’t parent at all. It seems that he doesn’t know how to parent, which shows with the new baby and his wife Heidi. He’s forcing Heidi to do almost everything and Auden can feel the tension and how you can cut it with a knife.
Auden however stays with her father in this small beach town, that is featured in multiple Dessen novels. It’s interesting to see Auden find her place in her father’s new world. It isn’t that she’s at odds with her step-mother and father, but it’s that she doesn’t know how she fits into their new life, with a newborn. What Auden quickly finds out is that her family needs her even they don’t know it. Her step-mother is failing and her father is in denial about her. The baby is taking a lot out of Heidi, and Auden begins to assist her and Heidi is thankful. Heidi becomes a different person when she gets four hours of sleep!
Then Heidi and Auden’s father begin to have the same fights that her parents had. Her father is selfish and has not changed: at all. And that hurts Auden’s heart. Her father gives no shit about anyone but himself. When Heidi tells him this he rages because he is in denial about it. Because he’s there for them, but not in the way that counts. Auden wants to shake him so he figures his shit out. What’s awesome though is how Heidi and Auden are on the same team. The same side and they work with each other. It’s a new friendship that she does not have with her actual mother no matter how she tries and Auden slowly begins to form this nice friendship with her step-mother, something she planned on forming with her father, but again, her father is an interesting gentleman.
In typical Dessen fashion, Auden does not relate to other girls, because she doesn’t understand how to be that girl: whatever is the opposite of the it girl of the novel. But slowly Auden actually warms up to the girls at Heidi’s store and they become actual friends. Auden puts her new friends in a very particular box though, and later when the friends break that stereotype box Auden is in legit shock and it is a perfect moment. What Auden doesn’t expect is for her mother to make a surprise trip to Colby and to hate the fact that Auden isn’t the Auden she let go to Colby. Auden has changed and grown and that shocks her academic mother.
But throughout the summer Auden continues to change who she is, and not in a bad way, she’s just growing. She gets closer to Eli and begins to have feelings for him even though she’s in denial about them. Feelings are not studious, something her mother trained and molded her for. Her mother molded her for greatness. Not for love. What her mother also molded her for, was to look down on people who were academically not as good as her. She didn’t do this on purpose, but her brother was a flake and she worked hard to not be a flake.
I enjoyed this book and the growth of Auden throughout the book. It’s the one thing I always enjoy from Dessen novels, there is always growth. While I do not regret reading so many Sarah Dessen’s in a short time, I do wish I would have spread them out more, because they really do start to all blur together. Same themes, and boys, which is fine, but I did wish Dessen would mix it up and tell a brand new story. One I didn’t see in other stories of hers. While three stars seems bad, it’s actually not. I did enjoy the book, I just have no interest in re-reading it.
Halley has always followed in the wake of her best friend, Scarlett. But when Scarlett learns that her boyfriend has been killed in a motorcycle accident, and that she’s carrying his baby, she was devastated. For the first time ever, Scarlett really needs Halley. Their friendship may bend under the weight, but it’ll never break–because a true friendship is a promise you keep forever. – Goodreads
This is not a light and fluffy Sarah Dessen novel. Someone Like You is a book about death and more importantly than that, it is a book about friendship and those relationships that are part of friendship. I say it is a book about death, because from the very beginning of the novel, the lives of our characters are shaped by a death that occurs off screen. Halley’s best friends boyfriend dies, although they had only been dating a short period of time, Scarlett with never be the same, and this isn’t just because we find out that she is pregnant.
This book however is more than just a pregnantbff, and Dessen makes it clear that this is more than that. When Scarlett is depressed, because her boyfriend died, Scarlett is still supporting Halley. While Halley is questioning a new boy in her life, Macon, Scarlett is telling her how someone would be lucky, and honored to know someone like her because she is that special of a girl. Scarlett and Halley have that trusted friendship that so many girls to look forward to in her life. I know, I have my own Scarlett in many different forms, in many different states. It’s weird to me that in 2014, people still find it weird that you can have online friendships. I don’t. I embrace it and I love and adore it.
What I thought was amazing, and shocked me, is that Scarlett’s mother decided that she needed to have an abortion and Dessen handled the topic with class. Many YA books discuss teen pregnancy and ripple effects, but there was something fascinating to me about actually saying abortion and discussing what it means to a teen. My heart went out to not only Scarlett, but also to Halley who was trying to be the best friend she could while also being a good daughter. Her mother and her have been growing apart for months and finally it blows up.
It’s not just a teenage blow up, it’s painful. Her mother means well, Halley believes she means well and it ends up with both feeling that the other isn’t listening. Heck, most of my fights in present day, 26 year old Ashley come from the fact that I’m feeling ignored. Her mother is trying to understand her, Halley is convinced her mother is being the worst person ever. If Halley would talk to her mother a lot of her problems would dissolve. Of course she doesn’t tell her mother and she keeps it internal. Including dating Macon, the bad boy, that her parents have told her to stop dating. While I am a lover of the bad boys, I did not enjoy Macon. It was uncomfortable, because Macon is constantly a mystery. Do we trust him? I really never did and I wasn’t overly a fan of who Halley turned into for him. This is one of those few books I actually wish wouldn’t have had a romance aspect of it. I personally would have preferred this book to be just about friendship.
Another problem I had throughout the novel was Halley, I never bonded with her. I didn’t believe she fell for Macon as hard as she did, and she made little comments here and there that hurt me. They were comments that wouldn’t effect anyone else, but to me it was personal. Even typing this I know how silly I sound, but it effected my feelings on Halley and of course Someone Like You. While I’m glad I read this book, I am glad that it wasn’t my first Sarah Dessen as it wasn’t my favorite.
Robin used to be a party girl… until she got black out drunk and woke up in bed with her best friend’s boyfriend. Now she’s faced with being THAT girl, and couldn’t be more disgusted with herself. She can’t even tell her friends the reason for her sudden sobriety and she avoids everyone until she meets Phoenix—quiet, tattooed, and different in every way that’s good and oh, so bad…
Phoenix is two days out of jail when he meets Robin at his cousin’s house, and he knows that he has no business talking to her, but he’s drawn to her quiet demeanor, sweet smile, and artistic talent. She doesn’t care that he’s done time, or that he only has five bucks to his name, and she supports his goal to be a tattoo artist.
But Phoenix knows Robin has a secret, and that it’s a naïve dream to believe that his record won’t catch up with them at some point. Though neither is prepared for the explosive result when the past collides with the present… – Goodreads
This series gets better and better. Honestly it does. While I was wading through bad New Adult this series was the gem in the rough. When I finished book two in the series, I quickly went to my public library overdrive account, borrowed this book and then read it in one sitting. What was fascinating to me was how not only did McCarthy weave together these characters and this story, but also how much I started to care. I’m not saying that these are amazing stories that will change the world, because they aren’t. But in the NA genre, they are that true gem in the rough, and let me tell you there is a lot of rough.
This is the story of Robin, a girlfriend from the first two books who started to go further into the background and we quickly found out why. She slept with one of the other three girls boyfriends. She is traumatized, heartbroken and decides to change her ways. Without telling anyone why, which leads all of her friends to worry about her. One of the only people who doesn’t worry about Robin, is Phoenix, who meets Robin at his cousin’s home. Where this story begins to differ from the previous two is that it is told from dual perspectives. It was interesting to not only get in the head of the girl, but also the boy. Particularly because Phoenix has an equally fucked up background as his cousins.
Phoenix spends most of the novel not only falling in love with Robin, but also helping Robin work through her problems. And while they work well together, they also work well separately. That is one aspect I’m enjoying from NA novels is the fact that authors are working on creating characters that stand alone. They don’t need someone else to survive, although it makes everything easier, of course. Phoenix has had a fairly horrible life and has anger issues and Robin had drinking issues that she is currently working with. Everything is fine with the two and they are figuring out the relationship waters and then everything comes to ahead and it goes BOOM!
McCarthy however throughout the whole novel spends a lot of time making them human and making everything work, even the small details that don’t seem to matter in the moment. While the series has problematic aspects, I was able to overlook most of them, because when I was reading the genre, there were so many other problematic aspects I was sick of reading about.
Jessica Sweet thought going away to college would finally make her free of her parents’ constant judgments and insistence she play chastity club role model for their church events, but if anything, the freedom has made her realize she can’t go home and be a hypocrite anymore. Tired of dodging their questions, she stays at school over the summer and lands in an unexpected crash pad: Riley Mann’s house.
Sarcastic, cocky, and full of opinions, Riley is also sexy personified with tattoos and biceps earned from working as a roofer all day. Not the right guy for her even if Jessica was looking for a relationship, which she is definitely not. But Jessica knows that Riley hides the burden of having to raise his younger brothers behind that grin and as she helps him get his house in order for a custody hearing, they begin to fall hard for each other, and she is forced to question what she’s hiding herself.
Jessica has never had a problem getting naked with a guy, but when it comes to showing Riley how she truly feels inside, her fear of rejection may just ruin the best thing—the best guy—to ever happen to her… – Goodreads
Continuing on with my New Adult Spree of August, I read/devoured McCarthy’s True Believers series. This may be because McCarthy’s books have always been a source of comfort to me. I read them when I was younger so to come back to her writing has been nice. While this is number two in the series, it is far more a companion novel than a sequel. Of course being me, I still read the books in order. Of course I did.
In Sweet, we meet back up with Jessica, who we were introduced to in the first book, True. Jessica was the snarky best friend who was very much the opposite of Rory, the main character in True. I loved being inside Jessica’s head. I related more to her than Rory. Jessica’s parents are a bit controlling and constantly judging her, because of this she decided to spend the summer in her college town free of her parents and her brother who seems to hate her for no reason. McCarthy didn’t go too far into Jessica’s past and her parents, spending more time on Jessica and Riley who hate each other. At the beginning of the book and in the previous book they bicker with each other, they snap, it is recommended to not leave them together in the same room for very valid reasons. Then Jessica decides to stay in town during summer, tell her parents that she’s building houses for the poor, while she herself has nowhere to stay.
That is the moment her BFF Rory tells her that she’ll be out of town and she can stay in the house with Riley. Yes, the Riley who hates her. Jessica decides that is fine, because it’s better than being at home right? Slowly, McCarthy has the two characters, Riley and Jessica work together and ultimately fall in love. While Jessica’s background is completely different from mine, her bitterness, her snark, it was something I related to and it is something that Riley also related to which made the two of them work. Jessica’s personality is not something that is warm and welcoming to others and that is hard for her, and Riley’s brothers, who live with him, to get used to. Although they are not main characters in the novel the same way the older brothers are, they are still important (family is very important to them) and Jessica wants them to like her the way they like Rory. Of course this is easier said than done as everyone likes Rory. That’s just how Rory is.
Riley doesn’t care about Rory, not only because that’s his brother’s girl but because they would never work. Now him and Jessica? They could make that work and they do. Jessica wanted to protect Riley. Riley wanted to protect Jessica. But what they did differently than other couples, is they communicated, or they tried to. They’re still young twenty year olds who have fucked up lives, nothing is going to come that easy for them, and in a way, that is understandable. I’ve read a lot of reviews, in which there are complaints about the fact that the guys in this series smoking and that is disgusting. Yes. It is. But the guys in this series come from a very fucked up background. The fact that the worst thing they do is smoke is actually quite impressive.
This was by no means a perfect book, but it worked and more importantly the characters worked. I enjoyed Jessica and Riley’s story far more than I thought I would. I wanted to know more about them and their little world. I even picked up the third book right away thanks to my library’s overdrive purely because I wanted glimpses of Riley and Jessica.
When Rory Macintosh’s roommates find out that their studious and shy friend has never been with a guy, they decide that, as an act of kindness they’ll help her lose her virginity by hiring confident, tattooed bad boy Tyler Mann to do the job…unbeknownst to Rory.
Tyler knows he’s not good enough for Rory. She’s smart, doctor smart, while he’s barely scraping by at his EMT program, hoping to pull his younger brothers out of the hell their druggy mother has left them in. But he can’t resist taking up her roommates on an opportunity to get to know her better. There’s something about her honesty that keeps him coming back when he knows he shouldn’t…
Torn between common sense and desire, the two find themselves caught up in a passionate relationship. But when Tyler’s broken family threatens to destroy his future, and hers, Rory will need to decide whether to cut her ties to his risky world or follow her heart, no matter what the cost…. – Goodreads
I have decided to continue to give New Adult a chance. I had a very in depth discussion lately about it with my Canadian brother, Jen, about how we have these major, valid issues, with the New Adult genre which is a whole other post for another day. We realized there were a lot of things in common with New Adult books and I wanted to prove to myself that it can’t be true.
This is my second official New Adult book and it’s the second one I’ve given three stars to. It seems I find the genre to be “okay.” And there is nothing wrong with that. While I was reading True, it came to my attention that I read Erin McCarthy about ten years ago before New Adult was even a thing and that may be why I’m over New Adult, I read the genre before it was a genre. And that sounds hipster-like. I understand, but it’s true. I was reading Erin McCarthy’s first romance novels which now would be classified as New Adult, but at the time, were just romance novels.
True reminded me of that time, in which all I read was romance. This was a little more angst ridden than I usually would like to read, but I found it to be fairly realistic. It’s the story of Rory, the science nerd who one day, while drunk, told her roommates that she’s a virgin. They decide if the hot boy Tyler takes her virginity her life will be better. Because that solves everything right? Wrong. For many reasons. The first is they don’t tell Rory, because why would she need to know? Second, Tyler actually cared for Rory far before they offered him 100 bucks to sleep with her. Yes. That is what her virginity is worth: $100 bucks.
What McCarthy does, though, is makes it work for the story. In a weird way, I found that part of the story to almost be one of the more realistic parts. Yes, typing that out seems backwards, I know. I know. Rory is a girl who understands black and white, science, math, things that can’t be changed. Tyler is the opposite. He’s good at literature, loves to read, wants to move away from his very broken family. Can the two be together? Tyler imagines that Rory is this perfect good girl who never got into any trouble and to a point, that’s true and he loves that about her.
Then, his druggy mother’s past comes and catches up to him and he doesn’t tell Rory the whole story. He makes the choice to save her, without talking to her about it and he breaks her heart. This thrills her father, who of course found him to not be good enough for her. Rory doesn’t care about her father, she only cares about Tyler. What Rory does find out during this break up though is that she doesn’t need Tyler. She loves Tyler, and she wants to be with him, but she will survive without him. And that was nice. It was nice to see a girl saying “I will survive without you”
While the ending tied everything together, and my book had a bonus section, it didn’t make me any more excited for the drama than my previous read in this genre.