[REVIEW] Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng @PenguinPress

I remember back in March when I saw Little Fires Everywhere on Edelweiss that I had to request it because I love Celeste Ng’s writing and storytelling. It took me some time to get to this book because of other ones on my TBR pile but I am so glad I read it. From wonderful writing to well-crafted characters this book has got it all.

“It came, over and over, down to this: What made someone a mother? Was it biology alone, or was it love?”

Little Fires Everywhere is set in a Cleveland suburb called Shaker Heights where everything is the way it should be. The people living in the suburb follow certain rules which make their lives more enjoyable and Shaker Heights the best place to live in. In this place we meet the Richardson family – from the parents Elena and Bill to their four children Lexie, Izzy, Trip and Moody. The Richardson’s are a wealthy family with successful and smart children as well as hard-working and loving parents. Bill is a lawyer and Elena is a reporter. A new family arrives in Shaker Heights – the Warrens – a mother and a daughter called Mia and Pearl. Mia is an artist/photographer and a single mother who came to the suburb for a fresh start and all she wants is to make her daughter’s life better– but Mia has something to hide. In this idyllic place the two families become closer with Pearl practically living with the Richardson family. The two women become close too with Elena Richardson hiring Mia Warren in order to help her out with money. This closeness makes an impact on the family dynamics too – Pearl becomes fascinated by Elena Richardson and Izzy becomes interested in finding out more about Mia Warren and her art. Everything changes when family friends of the Richardson’s try to adopt a Chinese-American baby named Mirabelle – this event puts everyone in a dangerous position and on opposite sides – particularly Elena and Mia. As Elena’s suspicions about Mia arise she becomes determined to find out more about her mysterious new friend. Will she be able to discover more about Mia and find out the truth behind her actions and if so at what cost?

Congratulations, you have survived reading my terrible summary of this book. Trust me, there’s so much more to it and I kept it vague. Celeste Ng is one of those authors you adore reading because of their excellent story-telling. I previously read her debut Everything I Never Told You so I was very excited to jump back into Ng’s world. Little Fires Everywhere wasn’t exactly what I was expecting it to be but it was very very good because the moment you read the first 50 pages you fall in love with the writing and get sucked into the story. It amazes me how with just a few words Celeste Ng can create such powerful emotions and bring her characters to life. As you already know there are many characters in this book – Elena, Mia, Trip, Moody, Pearl etc. – and what Ng does is make them come alive with giving depth to each of them. There are a lot of happenings in this book and I would suggest not looking at too many reviews and just going in because you’ll appreciate it more. My issues with this book weren’t much about the writing as you can tell but with the story because it didn’t exactly wow me even though it was very interesting and important. I think that many people will appreciate and enjoy this book. Her debut Everything I Never Told You still holds a number one spot for me because I can still remember reading it and completely loving it. It was so lovely being back in Ng’s world.

Do I recommend Little Fires Everywhere? YES, definitely. I think that everyone should read this book as well as her debut because she’s such a talented writer who’ll make you experience many emotions with her powerful words.

I would like to thank Edelweiss and the publisher (Penguin Press) for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: 

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Celeste Ng is the author of the novel Everything I Never Told You, which was a New York Times bestseller, a New York Times Notable Book of 2014, Amazon’s #1 Best Book of 2014, and named a best book of the year by over a dozen publications. Everything I Never Told You was also the winner of the Massachusetts Book Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, the ALA’s Alex Award, and the Medici Book Club Prize, and was a finalist for numerous awards, including the Ohioana Award, the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award, and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award…more.

Find her on: Website, Twitter, GoodReads and Facebook

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[REVIEW] Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta

This is my first Tom Perrotta novel so I can’t compare this book with his previous works but what I can do is share my experience with Mrs. Fletcher. This isn’t a perfect book but it is ambitious and it fails in certain aspects.

Mrs. Fletcher follows Eve Fletcher a forty-six year old woman who is divorced and has just sent her only son to college. She works at a Senior Center and works with a lot of people but besides her degree in Social Work she decides to go back to school and take up a class at a community college called Gender and Society in order to change her views. It is here that she meets her classmates and becomes close to some of them as well as learning new things about gender and society. Having sent her son Brendan to college she is now all alone and tries to fill that void by watching some adult videos – specifically ones tagged with MILF – and soon becomes addicted to them. This addiction takes grasp into her reality and she begins questioning her own sexuality as well as her outlook on real-life relationships.

Our Mrs. Fletcher isn’t the only narrator to this story because the author includes her son as well. Brendan is a jock and he’s always had it easy with grades because of that reason but now he comes to a whole new world where things aren’t as simple as in high school. His expectations of college quickly change when he starts struggling with his classes and failing them but that’s not all because how he views sex also makes him an outcast in this academic community.

Will Eve and Brendan Fletcher be able to overcome their struggles and rise up to them or will life take them on a different path?

At the beginning of this review I said that Mrs. Fletcher is an ambitious novel and that’s true because the author tries to include many themes in today’s society but it just didn’t feel thoroughly executed. On the blurb we are promised two narratives but that changes as the story unfolds and introduces us to other narrators who I felt were unnecessary to the story even though there were some who I genuinely liked hearing from. I actually enjoyed reading this novel and definitely didn’t like most of the characters but the story wasn’t bad – I mean yes, it was weird and at times awkward reading about Eve [especially the part where she hears her son moaning] – I would call this book entertainment fiction. The themes of sexuality, autism, gender weren’t that much explored in this novel and this is the reason why I call it an ambitious novel. I’ll be looking out for Perrotta’s future works to see if he gets better at exploring these subjects.

Would I recommend reading this book? I mean if you are looking for a light and entertaining read then I would say yes but in case you prefer your fiction to be more thought-provoking then it’s a pass.

I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher (Scribner) for allowing me to read and review this book in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: 

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Tom Perrotta is the author of several works of fiction: Bad HaircutThe Wishbones, Election, and the New York Times bestselling Joe College and Little ChildrenElection was made into the acclaimed 1999 movie directed by Alexander Payne and starring Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon. Little Children was released as a movie directed by Todd Field and starring Kate Winslet and Jennifer Connelly in 2006, and for which Perrotta received Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations for best screenplay. He lives outside of Boston, Massachusetts.

Find him on: Website, FacebookGoodReads 

[REVIEW] Down for the Count by Martin Holmén @PushkinPress

This book is a second in a trilogy called the Harry Kvist Trilogy and what attracted me to this book is that it has a bisexual main character. I usually see a lot of straight main characters in mystery/thriller genres so this is what immediately intrigued me and made me request it. I haven’t read the first one in the trilogy called Clinch but that didn’t ruin my experience with it and I appreciate that because I had some concerns. It’s safe to say that this book can be read as a standalone.

This noir trilogy is set in Stockholm in the 1930s and the second installment Down for the Count is set in 1935. It follows our protagonist Harry ‘Kvisten’ Kvist who has just gotten out of prison [he has spent a year and a half there] and is planning on starting a new life with the lover [Doughboy] he met during his prison stay. From the beginning the reader can already tell that Kvist is someone who can’t stay away from trouble and so this time he receives devastating news that his friend Beda was murdered by her deaf son called Petrus. He finds this hard to believe because Petrus wouldn’t do such a thing and he also made a promise to Beda to take care of Petrus when she’s gone. During his investigation he stumbles upon shocking discoveries: what he suspected was true and the police are covering up the crime but why? This is what Kvist has to find out. Will Kvist be able to avenge Beda’s death and find out the truth behind the cover-up?

I really didn’t expect to enjoy this as much as I did. I read this book fairly quickly – the first day I read 15% and the second day I finished it completely. There’s no doubt that this book is fast-paced and keeps you at the edge of your seat. I have to salute Martin Holmén because he made his main character bisexual and it’s not often that I see that in mystery/thriller genre! I loved seeing that! What wasn’t a very great thing for me is that he wasn’t treated very well. I don’t want to spoil anything so I won’t get into details but I wish Harry Kvist expressed his sexuality more. I haven’t read the first one so I might be wrong because this installment didn’t have much of that. The people who’ve read the book might get what I mean. I also found a few things which moved too fast for my taste. Overall this didn’t affect my experience of enjoying the book that much and I would definitely recommend reading it. I seriously couldn’t look away while reading because I had to know what would happen!

Again this book can be read as a standalone so there’s no worrying about that. It will definitely thrill you and make you want to read on and find out what happens at the very end. Will I be reading the third installment of this book? Hell yeah, I will!

If you’re looking for a historical mystery/thriller to read then look no further because this book is for you.

I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher (Pushkin Press) for allowing me to read and review this book in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: 

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Born in 1974. Teaches History and Swedish at an upper secondary school in Stockholm. Author of the Harry Kvist thrillers, described as gritty, historical, queer noir fiction with a unique Swedish flavour. Available, or soon to come, in Australia, France, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

The first installment Clinch was released in 2015. Out for the Count is due 2016 and the finishing part Slugger 2017. Contributor to the anthology of short stories Stockholm Noir.

Find him on: Website. Twitter, GoodReads, Instagram, Facebook

[REVIEW] My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent @4thEstateBooks

Let’s get the basic stuff out of the way: you have either heard of this book, seen its cover or seen Stephen King recommending it on Twitter. There’s no doubt that My Absolute Darling is the debut everyone has heard about. This book has wonderful writing and heart-pounding action in it.

Front of UK proof copy [Limited edition]

‘If Turtle hadn’t known, she could’ve told that Martin had the gun just from the way he wore his flannel,  just from the way he took his seat, but neither Principal Green nor Anna thinks of it; they do not even know such things are possible, and Turtle wonders if there are things that she is blind to that other people can see, and what those things might be.’

Told in the narrative style which isn’t solely focused on our main character but on her experiences we meet Julia ‘Turtle’ Alveston a fourteen year old girl who lives with her manipulative, gun-loving father Martin in a secluded house away from the gaze of other people. Turtle isn’t a regular kid because being raised by Martin makes her something else – something special. She has a passion for guns just like her father and views on women among other things. She can shoot a gun and has the ability to tell the difference between types of guns but when it comes to things like school and socializing she struggles. Her father is a very bad man who abuses her both psychologically and physically. One day she wanders off to the woods to get her mind off things and has an encounter with two boys that will put her in danger and in constant fear of her father. Will she find the courage to escape her father or will she always be his absolute darling?

Back of UK proof copy [Limited Edition]

‘She nods at this, but still she doesn’t get it, knows what it has done to her, the grief of it, the way it ate into her bones, but there had been no fear, and she does not understand-fear of what?-and looks at him and knows, really knows, how little she understands him.’

Spine of UK proof copy [Limited Edition]

This is an exceptionally well-written debut novel worth every praise. The story itself is very interesting and it immediately grabs your attention which is always a good thing. The characters are well developed especially our main character and her thoughts. The character of Martin Alveston is honestly one of the most heinous characters I’ve read in fiction because of his actions and even though he’s very intelligent there’s not a single good thing about him that can be said.  I did have a few issues with the book because I thought that certain events in it could’ve been better developed and I know that the author meant for us to feel empathetic towards Turtle but somehow I didn’t feel that way. Don’t jump to conclusions yet what I mean is that her thought process is twisted (credit goes to her father) and because of that I sometimes found her hard to understand and that’s where my perspective of her as a character changed  but towards the end I felt scared for her. My issues aside I still enjoyed reading this book and was amazed as the story progressed. It’s very important to say that the way a child is raised definitely determines whether he/she will live a normal and healthy life and I love how this book makes you want to discuss it with someone and analyze it.

Inside of UK proof copy [Limited Edition]

If you’ve seen the comparisons to A Little Life then I don’t know what to say because it’s nothing like A Little Life and both books are very different – they only share a theme which is abuse. My Absolute Darling is something completely different and hard to read at times but still very rewarding and thought-provoking.

I would very much like to thank the publisher (4thEstate) for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: *

*it’s hard to rate this book because it’s between a 4 and 4.5 stars for me.

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Gabriel Tallent was born in New Mexico and raised on the Mendocino coast by two mothers. He received his B.A. from Willamette University in 2010, and after graduation spent two seasons leading youth trail crews in the backcountry of the Pacific Northwest. Tallent lives in Salt Lake City.

Find him on: GoodReads and Instagram

[REVIEW] The Reminders by Val Emmich @picadorbooks

‘I suppose it’s no use. We can be close by and watching like hawks, and those we love can still slip away.’

One of the hardest things [to some the hardest thing] in life is losing someone. It doesn’t matter if it’s a neighbour, a friend or a family member what matters is that we deeply cared for this person – we might have shared something personal with them or enjoyed their company – and then one day all of that vanishes and we are left alone with only our memories. The Reminders is a book about loss, grief, memories, music and above all love.

UK proof copy of ‘The Reminders’

Joan is a ten-year-old girl with a super rare condition called HSAM or highly superior autobiographical memory which makes her remember everything she does. She remembers everything from the age of three and up – she can tell what day of the week it was if you as her a question like: ‘What day of the week was January 28th 2012?’ and she’ll give you an answer that it was a Saturday (I had to go to my calendar for this btw) and exactly what she was doing that day. She loves music, song-writing and adores John Lennon and The Beatles and she inherited that love from her father hence the name Joan Lennon. Her dad has a studio where he records things and she often finds herself there listening to her father produce music. Gavin is grief-stricken because of the loss of his boyfriend Sydney and he decides to visit his old friends (Joan’s parents) in order to get his mind off of things. He meets Joan and since Joan has met Sydney (he was her mother’s friend) a couple of times she decides to make a deal with Gavin – him to help her with a song for a contest and her to tell him her memories of Gavin.

Back of the proof copy

I am so grateful to the publisher for sending me this book because it’s something special. From the lovely writing to the story it tells in such a heart-warming way that it makes you want to read on and don’t stop until you’re finished. It also has an excellent cover! Told from two different POVs and with short chapters the book makes you fly through it. I especially liked the way the relationship between Gavin and Sydney was crafted because even with a few sentences you can feel the love between them.  What made this book special were the memories of Joan which she shared with Gavin and made him feel closer to Sydney. We can never truly remember something the way it actually is because our memories change over time, they take different shapes, we see the important things but never the full details so the idea that a little girl who has HSAM can offer some peace of mind with her memories is something that I’m sure everyone would appreciate. This is also a story about a girl who is learning the world through music and song-writing and of course her family.

I have to take half a star off because there was a part which felt rushed and I didn’t like the way it was thought-out but that’s it. I enjoyed reading it and despite being 320 pages it’s a quick read.

Spine of the proof copy

The Reminders is definitely a must read for people who would like to experience life through the eyes of someone with highly superior autobiographical memory, for those who love music and stories which stay with you long after you finish them.

I would like to thank the publisher (Picador) for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: 

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Dubbed a “Renaissance Man” by the New York Post, Val Emmich is a writer, a singer-songwriter, and an actor. He’s had recurring roles on Vinyl and Ugly Betty, as well as a memorable guest role as Tina Fey’s coffee-boy fling, Jamie, on 30 Rock. Emmich lives in Jersey City, New Jersey, with his wife and their two children. The Reminders is his first novel.

Find him on: Website, Facebook, Twitter and GoodReads.

[REVIEW+Q&A] Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed #GatherBook @littlebrown

Let me begin this review by saying that ever since I saw the cover and read the synopsis of this book back in January I have been obsessed with it. This is just one of those books you want to own and read and look at the pretty cover for days. Sadly my physical ARC of this book never arrived but I got it in e-form. Usually when I’m excited about a book I get disappointed in some way but this one was so great and amazing that I couldn’t put it down!

The story alternates between four different points of views we have Vanessa, Amanda, Janey and Caitlin. They live on a secluded island where everything is not what it seems – men and women, boys and girls have their lives set out for them. Their purpose is to marry, have children, raise children and when the children are all grown up and parents no longer of use they get removed from society. The island and its inhabitants follow certain written rules: much like we have a Bible or other religious texts they have one too called Our Book where there are rules and restrictions which have to be respected called Shalt-Not’s. The society is created by ten ancestors who are to be worshiped and praised for creating this world where the lives of the inhabitants are blessed and safer from the rest of the world (if there is a rest of the world). The ancestors have set ten Wanderers (men chosen by the ancestors) to take care of the society and help better it by overlooking the positions and roles everyone has on the island. Here comes the exciting part [that is if you’re not already hooked by my description of the book]: In the summer children are let go to live wild and care-free while the adults are indoors. They call this period Summer of Fruition where children fight for food and sleep in the grass and rarely return home for the whole time. To slightly older girls this is the last summer before they become a woman who has to get married and bare a child and serve her purpose for the sake of their glorified community. But not everyone wants to be a woman yet and the horrifying sighting by one girl lights a shimmering fire in the hearts of others.

What can I say except that this was an utterly and completely captivating book from the writing to the author’s imagination. The story itself is brilliantly thought of and very well executed –  there were a few things that come with every debut which weren’t exactly to my taste  – but overall it was unlike anything I have ever read. The themes in this book are dark and that makes the book not suited for every kind of reader but for those who love dark things this will be a perfect read.

To anyone reading this review I URGE you to head over to your local bookshop/online bookshop and purchase yourself a copy of this one! I know I will! ALSO: The US cover is 100x better than the UK one OK! The most amazing cover I’ve seen in a while and it’s definitely worth owning and showcasing.

I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher (Little Brown US) for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: 

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Jennie Melamed is a psychiatric nurse practitioner who specializes in working with traumatized children. During her doctoral work at the University of Washington, she investigated anthropological, biological, and cultural aspects of child abuse. Melamed lives in Seattle with her husband and three Shiba Inus.

Find her on:  WebsiteFacebook, Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads

Click continue reading to read my interview with the author. Continue reading

[REVIEW] Less by Andrew Sean Greer

Approaching fifty can be very stressful (and I’m sure it definitely is) especially if you’re not married, don’t have children or are not accomplished in any way. Andrew Sean Greer introduces us to a new character and shows us the struggle and the comedy in nearing fifty and trying to come to terms with getting older and getting the most out of life.

What is so special about Arthur Less? He’s approaching the big five-oh, he’s a writer and he’s single but what lies beneath all of that is a man of many fears. Out of the blue an invitation to his ex-boyfriends wedding appears and makes Arthur Less question everything he’s ever known about himself. What does our hero Arthur Less decide to do? Why yes, accept every literary event invitation he has been putting off and go on a trip across the world, of course! Arthur Less will visit Paris, Berlin, go to Morocco, he’ll go to a writer’s retreat in Southern India and at last to a desert island in the Arabian Sea. On these trips Arthur will meet many people and go through many challenges and all of them will make him realize and question things about himself in a new way.

Being a twenty-year-old adolescent I cannot tell you if this book dealt with the aging theme in a spot on way but I can guess that it paints a pretty good picture of what it’s like to be a fifty-year-old gay man whose identity is coming to question because he’s getting older. Greer makes our main character very introspective which is exactly what gives Less a voice and makes him a real character. Our narrator in this novel is unknown but about halfway through the book you begin to get a feel of who the narrator might be which I personally enjoyed finding out. Arthur Less is such a great character who throughout the book I couldn’t stop following and caring for – which is proof that Greer is skilled at writing a complex character.

‘Not that I saw all that then, when he blushed and his eyes went down. I knew nothing of anxiety or other pointless human suffering. I only knew I had said the wrong thing.’

I have to note that this novel might not be for everyone because I have seen a few DNFs of this book based on it being too ‘slow’ and not too comical like the blurb says. My experience with it was very different even though I didn’t like the narration in the beginning of it after about 25% I got used to it and read on. I have to agree that it isn’t a ‘laugh-out -loud’ book but it has its moments!

I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher (Little Brown US) for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Some of you know the book ‘A Little Life‘ by Hanya Yanagihara and that it has its Instagram account so the person (Leonor) who started it with Hanya has made one for ‘Less‘ by Andrew Sean Greer so make sure to follow their account for lots of amazing photographs.

‘Less’ – Instagram 

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Andrew Sean Greer (born 1970) is an American novelist and short story writer.

He is the bestselling author of The Story of a Marriage, which The New York Times has called an “inspired, lyrical novel,” and The Confessions of Max Tivoli, which was named one of the best books of 2004 by the San Francisco Chronicle and received a California Book Award.

The child of two scientists, Greer studied writing with Robert Coover and Edmund White at Brown University, where he was the commencement speaker at his own graduation, where his unrehearsed remarks, critiquing Brown’s admissions policies, caused a semi-riot….more.

Find him on: Website, Facebook, Twitter and GoodReads.

[REVIEW] The Children by Ann Leary

This novel reads like those family dramas you’ve surely seen at least once on the TV and it has everything from a lovely house where everyone gets together to celebrate holidays to sibling rivalry and the arrival of an outsider which shakes it all up – oh and of course, inheritance.

Our narrator is Charlotte Maynard a late-twenty-something year old who happens to be agoraphobic. She lives in the Lake house previously owned by her late step-father Whit Whitman with her mother Joan and her sister Sally who occasionally comes there to stay for a while. Being agoraphobic she rarely leaves her house or goes anywhere but she fills her social exclusion by having a ‘mommie’ blog and posting about her fictional family as well as writing Listicles for some websites. She lives a peaceful and secluded life but when the arrival of her brother Spin and the news about his engagement to the beautiful Laurel come up – everything takes a different turn. This is where all the drama begins and you can see why I wrote the beginning of this review the way I wrote it. From Charlotte’s on-and-off relationship with Everett (he was taken in as a caretaker of sorts by Whit and lives in a house near theirs) to Laurel’s mysterious interest in the family home and their property the drama is set and ready to begin.

I liked the setting of the book because it’s a nice escape – we go to the Lakeside Cottage and look at a family and observe their life filled with different happenings. The character of Charlotte is very likable and she felt somewhat real because of her agoraphobia and other issues. I loved the stories of Whit and how we got to see who he was when he was alive – how he taught the girls to play banjo, as well as some survival skills. Charlotte’s sister Sally was a very interesting character but I hate how the author wrote her bipolar tendencies and how her family treated her. I don’t feel like this book represented mental illness very well which is an important thing to do. You could guess by getting deeper into the book that the author slowly reveals Sally’s bipolar tendencies and you come to a conclusion that she’s bipolar but what I don’t get is that close to the end of the novel there’s talk of her being bipolar as if it was something we already didn’t know. Sadly, I felt that the ending was pretty much rushed and predictable because of the happenings in the book. This book could’ve been more polished and the story could’ve been better developed particularly the confusing and rushed ending.

This was a fun escape into a story filled with family drama and secrets which I’m sure everyone enjoys and loves to read.

I would like to thank the publisher (Corvus Books) for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: 

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Photo credit: Cathrine White

Ann Leary is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel, The Good House , as well as the novel, Outtakes From a Marriage , and the memoir, An Innocent, A Broad. Her work has been translated into 18 languages and she has written for the New York Times, Ploughshares, National Public Radio, Redbook, Real Simple among other publications.
The Good House is currently in development for a feature film produced by Tribeca Productions and FilmNation.
Her new novel, The Children, will be published in May of 2016.

Find her on: Website,  Twitter,  Facebook and GoodReads.

[REVIEW] Marriage of a Thousand Lies by S.J. Sindu

Marriage of a Thousand Lies is about a woman whose name is Lucky. This book offers a diverse cast of characters – we are introduced to a Sri Lankan family who live in the United States and our main focus is on Lucky and her struggles with being a closeted gay woman. Lucky is in a marriage with Kris who also happens to be gay. They both lead separate love lives outside their marriage which is perfect for them. Lucky is brought back to her old life when her grandmother has an incident – she is set to help out her mother so she goes back to her family home with the intention of taking care of her injured grandmother. You know how in every movie something unexpected happens to a person who comes back home well… Lucky sees her old flame Nisha and soon learns that she is about to get married to a man she doesn’t know or love. Their past brings them back to being more than friends once again and then questions arise: Will they be able to be together despite Nisha’s arranged marriage? Will their relationship succeed? Is Lucky willing to leave her strict life for the sake of love? The answers to all of these questions lie in this book.

There are many strengths in this book the main one being: the great representation of what it’s like to be different in a community that doesn’t accept and judges those who are. The second one is the romance part of the novel: we don’t see a typical male/female white person couple but a more diverse one – and I really appreciate that because I rarely read these kinds of books even though I try to include some of them once in a while. The idea of someone being on the edge between wanting to be with a person they desire but at the same time having to maintain a good relationship with their parents is definitely something that a lot of people (who are lgbtq+) will understand. This is why these kinds of books are necessary in today’s world – they tell people that they are not alone. This book is sad in its way but that doesn’t diminish the value of this book. My main concern was the writing in this novel – I felt like the chapters ended abruptly and it changed quickly from one scene to the other. But this shouldn’t discourage you from reading this book or avoiding it because of my problem with it.

If you’re looking for a diverse read with a great representation then this is the book for you.

I would like to thank Edelweiss and the publisher (Soho Press) for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: 

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SJ Sindu was born in Sri Lanka and raised in Massachusetts. Her hybrid fiction and nonfiction chapbook, I Once Met You But You Were Dead, won the 2016 Turnbuckle Chapbook Contest and was published by Split Lip Press. She was a 2013 Lambda Literary Fellow and holds a PhD in Creative Writing from Florida State University. She teaches Creative Writing at Ringling College of Art and Design. Marriage of a Thousand Lies is her first novel.

Find her on: Website, Twitter, Facebook and GoodReads.

[REVIEW] If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

I have to say that as a huge The Secret History fan this book was right up my alley and it will also be to Shakespeare and theatre enthusiasts. It has everything you’d expect: a close-knit group of friends living together plus additional things like: theatre (plus characters speaking to each other ‘in Shakespeare’), Latin, Greek and of course a murder mystery at the center of it.

The premise of the book is what caught my attention because of it being similar to TSH by Donna Tartt. The characters were very interesting and mysterious in their own ways which is a big plus for me. We have seven friends: Oliver. James, Alexander, Richard, Meredith, Wren and Filippa. You might think that with seven characters the author wouldn’t succeed in telling the story the right way but you’re wrong – M.L. Rio does it brilliantly. The mystery part of the book was in my case sort of predictable because of the actions by the characters. The way the author includes Shakespeare in her dialogue doesn’t ruin the storytelling but it enriches it and makes it unique. While writing this review I keep thinking about the ‘Castle’ they lived in, the classes they had where they drank tea, the theatre rehearsals, the feel of closeness but yet secrecy – this proves that the author can make an interesting atmosphere with her words.

Some parts of the book might be predictable but I viewed them differently – I look at the characters, their actions, the relationships between each of them – I view it from a psychological perspective and not as a complete murder mystery (which this book isn’t entirely).

Now onto what bothered me – I have to say that I didn’t like the way the last 100 pages were thought of or for the sake of it the whole premise of homo-erotic context in this book. Trust me , I appreciate when an author writes a good representation but to me what this part of the book offered wasn’t satisfying because it was featured into its whole premise –  to me that made it annoying and it was something that really frustrated me towards the end. Yes, this isn’t the only thing that the book focuses on but it’s something that caught my attention. Feelings aside, this was actually a pretty great debut novel!

This book will definitely be appreciated by everyone who enjoyed The Secret History and it will thrill them in a new and interesting way.

I would like to thank the publisher (Titan Books) for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: 

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M. L. Rio is an author, but before she was an author she was an actor, and before she was an actor she was just a word nerd whose best friends were books. She holds a master’s degree in Shakespeare Studies from King’s College London and Shakespeare’s Globe. When she’s not reading, writing, or explaining why the Authorship Question is actually just a conspiracy theory, she fills her time with friends and family, wine and whiskey, and music made twenty years before she was born.

Find her on: Website, Facebook, Twitter and GoodReads.